Indeed, I love connecting communities and so very happy 25 people (!) foreign dignitaries are coming to celebrate the wedding festivities in Okayama, Japan. Especially pleased that various times and places of my life are well represented: bearded renegades from Canada, lifesavers from Indonesia, a catch a beauties from Utah, padawans from the Hoot days from scattered places, hot dog couples and various drifting explorers. Oh, and the legendary mountain man from Nagano via Minnesota and the south Indian Ocean.
When the wheels fell off life due to illness, deaths, heartbreaks etc (circa 2015), i scribbled notes in a notebook naturally with intentions about where to go, how to live. I visited many places seeking safety, creativity and community. While my notes didn’t reveal the plan per se, the exercise was valuable to discover what i wanted/needed/capabilities. Published as a “note to future self” to remind the importance of stating intentions from the heart (with assist from the head).
What I Seek in Community
- Golf carts for quiet transport like Caye Caulker
- Island but with easy access to mainland like Gabriola
- Ganja like Jamaica
- Strangeness of history like Pelilu
- Minimal dogma in religion like Bali
- Community centre and market like Pender Island
- Village of shops but not a strip mall
- Visitors come and go from guesthouses, tours, inns like Berkshires
- Music, recording studios, concerts, festivals like Salt Spring(?)
- Access to natural medical services & quality food
- Post office
Places to Live
Req: Anonymous, Creative, Safe + Community
- Torrey UT /Larry’s Land
- House on Gabriola
- UK Protectorate (Falklands, VI)
- Japan (Okayama > south)
- Nova Scotia (Cape Breton) or other Maritimes
- Portugal / Spain / Greece
- Victoria if no other option – too “perfect” for action Dave
These note cards are residual evidence of a “lunch ‘n learn” and/or other spiel presented in some context or another.
As it goes, i can’t cover all of my Social Marketing Kung Fu(n) topics o’ wisdom in one session, so i make a “game show” where attendees choose their own adventure by choosing from these little prompts.
Shared here for future reference.
PS You can hear loads of my spiels about topics including: marketing, start-ups, PR, renegade social community building etc. via the Community Feasthouse podchannel if inclined.
Transcription of a talk called “Art and Tech are Old Pal” at Wordcamp Vancouver in 2010. Video no longer exists (thanks to blip.tv) but audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.
Dave: I bet you’ve had a lot of knowledge today, so you’re probably pretty exhausted. I’m pretty wiped out but that’s mostly from the speaker’s dinner last night. Thanks to the organizers for bludgeoning us the night before. I really went there. This will be fine. I’m just going to pop in for just an hour or so. It turned out to be longest bus ride of my life on the way home. Overall, we’re good. So, Mr. John Biehler on keyboard. [applause]
So, I do my best thinking in the bath because you can’t do anything else. When you’re in the bath, there’s really nothing else you can do. You certainly can’t use your iPhone unless you put it in a little Ziploc bag. You shouldn’t be using your laptop. That’s just dangerous. I can’t use my vaporizer because I’d be electrocuted. So really, all that’s left to do in the bath is thinking.
Recently, I was in the hospital. Hit me the slide there, John. While I was recovering and having my scrambled eggs and stuff like that, I got to thinking about what a strange conundrum. What a strange piece of place of history that we live in with this tool. I was thinking about coming to talk to you guys. I had to have something because I really couldn’t think about it because I really couldn’t do much of anything.
I started thinking about how weird it is that all of a sudden art and technology were seeing these fruitions of time where all of a sudden a lot of you are making tools, writing codes, I went and sat in some of the things, and John’s talking about Map and all the new innovations of WordPress 3.0., I use the free WordPress.com, so I’m just letting you guys figured out how to build the tools.
But, all of a sudden, we’re replacing time that guys are making tools. You’re also expected or in some way producing content for these things. All of a sudden, you have this new publishing platform in front of you. I started thinking, because I’ve always been caught in space between art and technology as evidenced here with my King Tut exhibit there, that was pretty good and that’s the important part of taking risks, just proof and point about when you make art, you got to take some risks.
The VIA Rail train “The Ocean” – from which i just disembarked – pulls out of Moncton, New Brunswick heading west towards Montréal, Quebec, Canada.
This train is Viarail’s The Ocean which goes between Montreal and Halifax… In this case, dumping me off in Moncton, New Brunswick (from Truro, Nova Scotia) last summer when I explored eastern/maritime Canada seeking a new home Unsuccessfully — I did find many find communities between Montréal’s mile end, Quebec City, Halifax’s north end, St. John’s Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia… to name a few but turns out I’m #Pacific through and through. Note: met wonderful people in each place… So much more #friendly & open than #Vancouver indeed – also way way thriftier place to find a home and exist.
Swipe for multiple views of this fine (by 1960s standards anyway) conveyance.
My pal and long time collaborator at Hootsuite, Chris Trottier and his new crew at “boldkick” – a new social architecture bureau, wrote this little tribute post about me following a talk at Victoria, BC, Canada’s Social Media Camp where i discussed how the “Internet has a Short Memory”. I am truly touched by he and Cindy’s kind words – i am very fond of them as well.
Excerpt pasted below for the record along with a link to the original post.
Raised on a diet of hockey, punk rock, and fanzines, Dave “Uncle Weed” Olson has been writing about his experiences for almost as long as the Internet existed.
A master storyteller, Dave Olson thrives in building communities. His work revolves around being an all-around creative. He is a writer, a podcaster, singer, a multi-hyphenate superstar. Looking at his own website, it’s both surprising and inspiring to see one person who has done so much.
It all leads to one thing, doesn’t it? Passion.
It’s been such an overused word, but it always rings true to the people who have it. Dave’s lifeblood is community, something that we at Boldkick strongly resonate with. Did we mention he’s from Vancouver, too?
As a traveller, Dave Olson has had a handful of experiences with different people with different backgrounds. In a quick interview at Toque and Canoe about his suitcase, Dave Olson shares about his souvenirs in his travels.
“I keep little ephemeral paper objects. Ticket stubs. Crappy postcards. I’ll take an empty scrap book and make it real time on the trip. Then you return home and BAM, the whole trip is documented and you can share it with your friends. I was on a train in the rain in Spain (ha ha) and had my scrap book with me and I ended up partying with all of these great folks. Great way to bridge those cultural gaps. I also like to bring back coins. Little things. I like tiny things.”
In 2016, I presented a “Lunch and Learn” to the staff of Giftbit (formerly Kiind) about social marketing, culture building, community sparking, and start-up life – also managing events and improving copywriting and oh yeah, media relations.
In brief, I wrote out a batch of topics on paper cards, tossed them on the table and invited the assembled folks to choose. As such, the talk is spontaneous, fast-paced and offers a load of practical advice, interspersed with anecdotes from companies at which i toiled including Hootsuite, Elastic Path, Raincity Studios and various others endeavours.
Bring your own sushi for: Start-up Storytime at Giftbit Lunch and Learn (192k mp3, 1:23:13, 119MB)
- Living on the isle of Guam and Dave’s first experience with the internet.
- Startups and working for Hootsuite
- Localization & competitive edge
- Startup advice: Mouse & magnifier metaphor (Amplify brand, build assets, learn customer vocabulary)
- Tips on creating a media kit
- Working with the media
- International markets
- The power of the inexpensive video
- One hug at a time
- How to deal with crisis
- Customer Stories
- Different solutions for different audiences (Japan uses cash,
- Indonesia smart phone user density)
- Events not sucking
- SXSW and swag
- Fuck stats make art
- Be your own user
- Fostering a strong company culture
- Thanks for sushi
A staff member recorded the talk, edited out some bits and glued it together, plus created this wonderful graphic art piece of me in action.
I am no longer an employee of Hootsuite and this talk was done as “me” not as “me from Hootsuite” and does not reflect official company point-of-view etc. Govern yourself accordingly.
I am on advisory board of Giftbit and own some shares. Was also compensated with sushi for the talk.
Also: yes, there are “cuss words”, several.
PS Some of the clips exist on Giftbit’s Soundcloud channel, specifically:
Of yeah, Giftbit is:
Giftbit is reimagining digital gift cards.
Our platform and infrastructure makes digital gift cards more cost effective, simple, and smart.
As a B2B marketplace for selling, sending, and purchasing digital gift cards, we deliver fully-branded, trackable digital gift cards that allow you to send incentives and rewards by email or by a unique link to a recipient. For all gift cards that go unclaimed, funds are returned to your account.
My Hootsuite alum comrade pal Adarsh Pallian has yet another start-up biz — this one is a travel-expense related company called Trippeo. He published this article (with assistance from the charming Katie Fritz) in which explores some of my marketing-fu. Shared below for the record with gratitude and appreciation.
Introduced thusly via Twitter:
Can’t buy me love: A renegade marketing pro’s tips for making an impression
One of Vancouver’s tech-scene’s radicals used to tout the “cheap and cheerful” effect. Instead of relying on the filet mignon to impart success and influence, renegade marketer Dave Olson preferred to take his clients to underground shows and then chat business over a bowl of ramen. The man knows what he’s doing: after coming on as Director of Marketing for Hootsuite in 2010, he helped grow the user-base to 8 million, and was integral to the development of the quirky, lovable brand.
Of course, in those early days, Hootsuite wasn’t exactly rolling in the cash. Dave and his team needed to find ways to make an impression… while pinching those expensable pennies. These are a few of my favorite cheap-n-cheerful moments from the Master:
Host a dinner party
Personal AND cost-effective. One of the most memorable moments of Hootsuite’s inaugural SXSW trip was the barbeque that they hosted. Austin, of course, is pretty intense about their barbeque, so the conversation was built in. The event was inexpensive, easy to coordinate, and most importantly, an authentic place to chat with potential clients and investors.
Dave loved to bring enthusiastic people together around a cause, be it a Hootsuite “Hoot-Up,” a day of renegade marketing school, or a community of podcasters. Volunteers have been indispensable to Hootsuite’s success: they have translated websites, thrown parties, shared tips and tactics, and pointed out bugs. In return, Dave and his team acted as references and champions for these volunteers, helping them gain experience and land professional roles.
Say thank you, in person
One thing Dave liked to encourage was “going analogue”. He knew that facetime was the ultimate impression – no number of Mentions, Likes, or Upvotes can replicate a genuine “thanks.” Can’t be there in person? Dave was a big proponent of the quick video that included his team waving and saying thank you! A little goes a long way.
Want more stories from DaveO? He’s logged a great many of his talks on Youtube. You can find his channel right here.
Recently, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes posted an article in his LinkedIn influencer column “Two Lean Startup Hacks to Get Millions of New Customers | Ryan Holmes | LinkedIn” to discuss some key tactics we used to build Hootsuite in the early days: freemium + community.
I am especially proud of the community focused narrative of which I’ll share a bit here:
Investing in Community-Building Programs
But it’s important to note that freemium was just one part of our formula for user growth. Another big piece of the puzzle was investing in a fully functional community department at Hootsuite. In many startups, the community team – if there’s one at all – is treated as an extension of marketing or customer support. While their ostensible role may be “building a community” of users, they spend a lot of their time pitching products and fielding help calls.
Our community department, by contrast, didn’t have direct sales or support responsibilities. Instead, their primary mandate was to help people who already knew and loved our product connect with one another. They built out social media channels in a half-dozen key languages, enabling users around the world to share updates and learn about Hootsuite news and events. And they organized crowd-sourced translation efforts, recruiting international users to adapt our interface into local languages, everything from German and Italian to Thai and Chinese. (Amazingly, translations were volunteer-driven – motivated by love of the technology and a liberal helping of swag, i.e. stickers, t-shirts and cuddly stuffed animals inspired by our owl logo.)
Online efforts were supplemented by old-fashioned face-to-face events. In emerging markets, the community team helped users organize hundreds of free meetups (branded as “HootUps”), where people could get together and trade Hootsuite tips. Ultimately, a network of hundreds of volunteer “ambassadors” around the world took shape, enthusiastic users who spread the word about Hootsuite in their countries. Many of these ambassadors, not surprisingly, were bloggers, consultants and marketers who just so happened to have large online audiences of their own.
Cumulatively, these projects gave us entree into new markets, initiating the viral chain of adoption in other countries and spreading Hootsuite far beyond its original North American user base.
An article by Ryan Holmes talking about the tactics and methods Hootsuite used to build with small budgets and big fun including Hootups, community activities like translation project, creative swag and more…
Ryan Holmes | April 10, 2015 1:04 PM ET
Ryan Holmes: With literally millions of apps competing for attention, startups are finding themselves forced to pour ever greater sums into marketing efforts. But money isn’t always the answer…
But more money isn’t always the answer. In Hootsuite’s first three years, we grew our user base from zero to five million people. During that time, our marketing budget was pretty much non-existent. We turned instead to a pair of complementary, low-cost approaches to find and keep customers. It may well have made all the difference.
Freemium economics One fundamental decision made shortly after launching in 2009 was to make our social media tool a freemium service. The majority of our users — and we very quickly reached the million mark — paid nothing. They could (and still can) log in for free to view their social media accounts from one dashboard, schedule messages and see analytics. Companies that wanted beefed up functionality and extra support, paid a monthly fee, ranging from as little as $9 to $1,000 and up for large enterprises with lots of employees.
Why invest so many resources and so much bandwidth catering to millions of free users who would never account for a cent of revenue? For starters, freemium dramatically reduces the need for traditional marketing and sales efforts. Our free users — in steady, predictable numbers — became paid users. Instead of having to sell them on the merits of our product with expensive ads, we let them see for themselves. Our product became our best marketing tool and salesperson. On average more than half our paying customers, including large clients, start out as free users.
Meanwhile, our free user base fulfilled another key function: It kept us honest. Free users are fickle; they’re not locked in by a contract or any other obligations. They can, at any moment, pick up and take their “business” elsewhere. So to maintain and grow our free user base, we had to continually update our product, rolling out new features to stay ahead of the pack.
These same features helped us win and keep paying customers. While other corporate tools were years behind the social media curve, our efforts to satisfy free users meant we could offer big enterprise customers the latest technology.
Seeing value in community But the freemium approach wouldn’t have been as effective were it not for another equally important strategy: investing in a fully functional community department. In many startups, the community team, if there’s one at all, is treated as an extension of marketing or customer support. While their ostensible role may be “building a community” of users, they spend a lot of time pitching products and fielding help calls.
Our community department, by contrast, didn’t have direct sales or support responsibilities. Their primary mandate was to help people who already knew our product connect with one another. In the early days, they set up social media accounts in a half-dozen key languages, sharing updates with users around the world.
At the same time, they led a crowdsourced translation effort that saw our tool translated into more than a dozen local languages, from German and Italian to Thai and Chinese. (Amazingly, translations were volunteer-driven — motivated by love of the technology and a liberal helping of swag, i.e. stickers, T-shirts and cuddly stuffed animals inspired by our owl logo.)
Online efforts were supplemented by old-fashioned face-to-face events. In emerging markets, the community team helped users organize hundreds of free meetups (branded as “HootUps”), where people could get together and trade product tips. Ultimately, a network of hundreds of volunteer “ambassadors” around the world took shape, enthusiastic users who agreed to spread the word in their countries. Many of these ambassadors were bloggers, consultants and marketers whose own agenda of developing a large online following aligned well with ours.
Cumulatively, these projects gave us entree into new markets, initiating the viral chain of adoption in other countries and spreading our product beyond its original North American user base.