Since the organization called itself Mogul in the Making, I couldn’t resist attending its Meetup scheduled for this past Tuesday night. The moxie inherent in the group’s name felt appropriately Angelino. Other cities may have associations organized for “small business owners” but here, even hard scrabble beginners aim for the fences.
I had my doubts based on the location. The Microsoft Store in the Century City Mall doesn’t exactly scream “mogul” these days, unless of course Bill Gates has been slated to work the cash register. In fact, many reports (here, here and here) show that Apple users are wealthier and more successful. Nevertheless, due to its proximity to Bloomingdales, attendees were at least reminded that having significant disposable income has its perks.
The topic of the night was Are You Ready to Build a Smashing Brand with speaker Kelsey Borlan, a consultant from her own firm The Brand Gals. I recently re-launched my own website so I had been considering some of these issues more recently than in the past. Nevertheless, I picked up a few more pointers.
Borlan preached that a company’s brand was every single touch point where customers interacted with the company. She implored the audience to consider the details. Does the font on the website match the company’s emails and brochures? Does the outgoing voicemail message match the tone of the company’s brand? Does the owner of the business exemplify their brand in their personal dress? Anytime there was inconsistency, it weakened the brand.
Much of this I considered to be basic advice, but on consideration was surprised that I had not implemented it carefully in my own life. The font in my emails is whatever has been set as the default and had never been a conscious decision of mine. In a world where most self-improvement requires actual work and commitment, shifting to Helvetica seems easy enough. (Some of the other shifts will take time).
I am not sure what to make of Borlan’s advice regarding what she called Social Media Optimization. She said posts made to one form of social media (say Instagram) should not be automatically programmed to appear on a different channel (say Facebook). She reasoned that each platform is a different audience and people need to be rewarded with content specific to that platform.
Certainly I have considered that the audience on each platform is unique. Some data, for example, suggests Twitter users are younger, more educated and wealthier. Everyone knows Pinterest is the go-to place to reach women since 83% of its users are women. Facebook’s users are increasingly skewing older.
There’s no doubt I think differently about posts to LinkedIn versus Facebook. But I think that for emerging companies clamoring for attention, there’s not always time to repackage content and getting out in front of the most people beats precise messaging. The perfect cannot be the enemy of the good . . . what do you think?
Changing gears to a more serious topic, in 2012 the Pat Brown Institute recognized Erika Glazer for establishing a scholarship for undocumented students with stellar academic potential. In remarks that honored Glazer, then President of Cal State Los Angeles Dr. James M. Rosser said that most scholarships were established by people for members of their own community. He said what made Glazer’s work so special was that she had established the scholarship for students outside of her community.
Indeed. The characterization of her work transformed my own thinking in this regard. It’s natural to want to support people like ourselves, but what was I doing for people outside of my own community?
After this reflection I committed to find such an opportunity. About a month or so ago I was approached about serving on the Board of Director of WeLift LA, a small nonprofit in the San Fernando Valley. The organization aids young adults who have “aged out” of the foster care system.
I had never considered what happens to foster children at the age of adulthood. As a society, I think we presume that they find jobs or continue in school like any other young adult at that age. But we don’t consider their unique challenges, nor do we consider what it really means to be an adult.
Surely, as a teenager I would have fiercely defended my newfound status as an adult at the age of 18. Back then I knew it all. However, in the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, there are unknown unkowns. As I watched each of my seven younger siblings emerge into adulthood, I increasingly came to realize that they didn’t know what they didn’t know.
I am not sure at what age we really become adults, but it’s clear to me that at the age of 18 we’re still just kids. The statistics in California are sobering. 65% of youth aged out of the foster care system will become homeless. 51% will be unemployed and 46% will have not completed high school.
WeLIft LA wants to empower this age group with life skills to help in the transition to adulthood. Foster children will likely not have parents to turn to when considering questions like applying for college, opening a checking account or signing their first lease. The organization aims to fill in that gap and provide mentoring.
Undoubtedly you will be hearing more from me about WeLift LA since I am now a member of the Board. Presumably, there will be solicitations for funds (in the parlance of Donald Rumsfeld a known known) and other events (currently a known unknown). For now, what I know is that if you’re a woman, please follow the organization here on Pinterest. The younger, wealthier set should follow it on Twitter. And for the rest of us, there’s always good ol’ Facebook.
Los Angeles, California