Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Web Secret #134: Shut Up

The Internet records everything and forgets nothing. Every online photo, Facebook status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. Cool, right?

Well maybe not always...

Over the summer, I missed an important NY Times article on this very subject. So important, that I will now quote from it at length:
Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training ..., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor ... told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of [the university], where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her under-age students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee ..., her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech.

...The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, ..., is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing...

Well I have some succinct advice for everyone out there in cyberland. Until the legal system catches up with Internet technology - and who knows when and if that will happen - shut up.

Seriously, and I don't mean to be rude - I expect Gen Y to be clueless about not disclosing every iota of their personal lives on Facebook - but my observation is that pretty much everyone is saying too much, showing too much and sharing too much.

So watch what you say; it can come back to haunt you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Web Secret #133: Amazon Prime

If you use technology, you need gear. And gear - which in its broadest sense includes power strips, printer ink cartridges, cordless phones, track balls, and much, much more - tends to break, run out and/or mysteriously disappear with impressive regularity. When that happens, nine times out of ten, I access Amazon Prime to rectify/solve/replace the problem.

Most online shoppers know about, the giant retailer which was founded in 1994 as a bookstore and has now diversified into selling - well just about everything you can think of.

But while everyone knows about Amazon, fewer know about Amazon Prime, a membership program that gives you unlimited FREE Two-Day shipping on all eligible purchases for an annual membership fee of $79. (Prime subscribers also get one-day shipping for only $3.99 per item - if you want it even faster.)

Most online stores charge anywhere from $3.99 to $8.00 or more to ship an ordered item - and that usually means you will get that item in 5-10 business days. If you want it faster than that, get ready to pay a premium for that luxury - sometimes as much as $25 or more per order. If you shop more than ten times per year online, Amazon Prime's annual $79 fee is a bargain - plus you get your stuff in two days!

I have discovered a couple of important facts about Amazon Prime during the past year:

1. Amazon carries just about everything you would even think of shopping for - and they have it cheaper and you will get it faster and shipped free.
2. They really mean it - your membership fee means no shipping fees - so you can order one ridiculously small and inexpensive item - and you get it two days later. I needed a printer cartridge and had no desire to fight the holiday crowds at Staples. I ordered it online and saved myself time and money.
3. They have a terrific online tracking system that is easy to use and allows you to change and cancel orders in seconds.
4. They are reliable.

Recently I have ordered:Not sure if Prime is for you? Eligible customers can try out a membership by starting a free trial.

If you are reading this on the morning I first posted and you have or sign up for Amazon Prime - you can still get your goodies before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Web Secret #132: Web Sites That Make You Think

Is the Internet rotting your brain?

I pondered this question in a spring time post. I concluded that there is enough great stuff on the web - the epic TED site comes to mind - to outweigh the moronic.

It made me wonder what other truly great sites might exist that I didn't know about. Lucky for me, I came across 10 Websites To Make You Think. Of course, TED made the list, but a few I didn't know about absolutely thrilled me:

1. Big Think - The Big Think website is a collection of very short (5 minutes or less) videos in which ‘global thought leaders’ discuss important issues, events and developments. Videos are grouped, and categories include Health and Medicine, Media and Internet, Science and Tech, and many more.

Here, Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, argues that abusers should be treated the same as anyone with a debilitating disease. Or here Tal Ben-Sharar, Psychology Lecturer at Harvard University discusses "Is Facebook Making Us Sad?"

2. Arts & Letters Daily - If Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and living in the 21st century, he would hang at this retro feeling site, featuring a fascinating collection of articles, essays, disputes and reviews by a select collection of bloggers and publications.

Here is an article that argues "Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. The real culprit, a new hypothesis claims, is a virus entwined in every person’s DNA." Or how about this essay, that begins, "Ed Dante, academic mercenary, will ace your Psych 101 term paper, or help “earn” you a Ph.D in history. If you have the money, Ed has the talent."

3. Academic Earth provides free university video courses spanning a broad range of subjects. Featured professors come from the finest universities in the US.

How about viewing UCLA Professor Benjamin Karney's course on "Communication and Conflict in Couples and Families"? Or for a really thought provoking experience, listening to Harvard Professor Michael Sandel's course on "The Morality of Murder." The quality of these courses is outstanding.

4. Eyewitness To History - A collection of eyewitness accounts and media from the ancient world through to modern history. I don't know that I can argue that this website will be directly relevant to your work. Think of it as a holiday gift to your mind.

Did you ever hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt speak? Watch film footage of the troops celebrating the end of World War I? Read the doctor's account of Hamilton's fatal wound after he was shot by Aaron Burr? If you are even remotely a history buff, this one is for you.

The web is full of treasures. You just have to find them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Web Secret #131: LogoTournament

My friend Juliette runs a wonderful not-for-profit organization, Healthy Living, which provides education about healthy eating to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in Washington DC.

Juliette had a website, but no logo.

She had a great slogan "Nourishing. Connecting. Transforming. TM", but little extra money to hire a logo designer.

Hello LogoTournament. Essentially, this website helps you set up an online logo design contact for as little as $250. $250 typically attracts 30-35 entries from very good designers - which you will get within a week!

Getting started takes seconds - enter your organization's name, slogan and a one sentence descriptor. Then you are guided through a brief series of questions that will help your designer better understand what you are looking for. E.g. "What are the Top 3 three things you would like to communicate to your audience through your logo?"

Juliette received an incredible variety of entries from all over the world and chose the winner depicted above.

Negatives? Her winner was located in New Zealand, making telephonic conversation expensive and difficult due to the time difference. The winner did not seem to have much experience with converting the winning logo for web purposes and had to be instructed as to the correct files Healthy Living needed.

Overall? For the money - can't beat it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Web Secret #130:

Does the world need a new search engine? For me Bing is a fail. I don't get it.

That said, thank you New York Times for turning me on to, a search engine that might actually offer something useful and different than Google.

As the Times article noted:
"Rich Skrenta, Blekko’s co-founder and chief executive, says that since Google started, the Web has been overrun by unhelpful sites full of links and keywords that push them to the top of Google’s search results but offer little relevant information. Blekko aims to show search results from only useful, trustworthy sites.

Blekko’s search engine scours three billion Web pages that it considers worthwhile, but it shows only the top results on any given topic. It calls its edited lists of Web sites slashtags. The engine also tries to weed out Web pages created by so-called content farms like Demand Media that determine popular Web search topics and then hire people at low pay to write articles on those topics for sites like

So for example, people who search for a topic in one of seven categories that Blekko considers to be polluted with spamlike search results — health, recipes, autos, hotels, song lyrics, personal finance and colleges — automatically see edited results.
Users can also search for results from one site (“iPad/Amazon,” for instance, will search for iPads on, narrow searches by type (“June/people” shows people named June) or search by topic, [e.g. “mental health /psychology” or "social work jobs /colleges.]" Blekko has made hundreds of these slashtags, and users can create their own and revise others."
Or as they explain it:

blekko: how to slash the web from blekko on Vimeo.

Slash on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Web Secret #129: Crowd Accelerated Innovation

Recently I was feeling spectacularly depleted of blog post ideas. All the tricks I usually fall back on to inspire my creativity were failing me.

Then I remembered Web Secret #23.


TED is a conference that showcases relatively brief, (no more than 18 minute), presentations given by the greatest minds in the world. The TED website makes these talks, (now numbering in the hundreds), available to the public, for FREE.

So I turned to TED, and it did not fail me.

After listening to a few of the talks grouped in the technology category, I found How web video powers global innovation,

a speech given by the curator of the TED Conference, Chris Anderson. And I was energized all over again.

Here is a summary of the exciting, core idea he articulated:

1. Only VERY recently, in the last few years, has technology made it possible for video to become accessible to millions of people around the world.

2. Through video, we now have access to a global online laboratory. So, for example, a group of viewers in Japan learn something from a video that was made in Detroit. They build on it, and a few days later, make another video that is in turn watched by a group of people in California, who in turn remix it to create a completely new - fill in the blank - widget, movement, clothing style, fad, chemical process, etc. - which they share as well.

3. The rise of web video is driving a worldwide phenomenon Chris calls Crowd Accelerated Innovation (CAI) - a self-fueling rapid cycle of learning and innovation that is potentially revolutionary.

4. Perhaps one of the most promising examples of the potential of CAI is a website called JoVE - Video publication to increase productivity of biological and medical research. Traditional research publication methods in journals mean that it can take months for a group of scientists to figure out how to replicate the methodologies used in an experiment in another lab. But if you can SHOW instead of describing, that problem disappears. It is not far fetched to say that online video will dramatically accelerate scientific progress.

The implication for professionals of all stripes is that we all have the potential to share treatment methodologies, practice techniques, and other knowledge quickly and easily with our peers - through video. We can learn from the best, improve our work, and do a better job, reaching a greater pool of clients and patients than ever before.

That's exciting.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Web Secret #128: Critical Questions About Your Website

Recently I have had a flurry of people asking me to assess the effectiveness of their websites. I am always tempted to send them to the exhaustive 149 Mortal Sins That Will Send Your Site to Web Design Hell. But let's face it - sometimes a shorter checklist can also do the trick. So for those of you who want a quick take on whether your site is web worthy, I have edited the classic 50 Critical Questions About Your Website down to 18 key questions:
  1. Do you have an "About Me" page?
  2. Can visitors tell what your site is about without visiting your "About Me" page?
  3. Is there an easily findable link to your contact information from every page?
  4. Is your home page a call to action or is it merely an “Enter Site” gateway?
  5. Is your content up to date?
  6. Is anyone linking to you?
  7. If not, what can you do to make this happen?
  8. Who are you linking to?
  9. How long does it take your site to load at your mother’s house?
  10. What is the single most important thing you want a visitor to do?
  11. Is that clear from looking at your site?
  12. Does your site look professional, or does it look like a teenager’s Facebook page?
  13. Do you link out to your other web presences (Facebook, Twitter account, YouTube page, LinkedIn)?
  14. Are you commenting on blogs and building relationships with other site-owners in your industry or niche?
  15. How does your site look on an iPhone? a Blackberry? On Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari?
  16. How many clicks does it take for a visitor to give you money? Or make an appointment or schedule a speaking engagement that will earn you money?
  17. How easy is it for a visitor to leave a comment or send you an e-mail?
  18. Is the entire site backed up?
So there you have it - the Cliff Notes version of web site evaluation.

Looking for something more in depth? There is no substitute for reading my post on Very Bad Websites.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Web Secret #127: Social Media Kills

If you attend my presentations, read my articles or this blog, you know that I love computers, and the Internet and technology in general. But I have also cautioned my audience that social media is still in a lawless "Wild West" phase of development and can be used for evil.

How can we curtail the propensity of some (most often teenagers and young adults) to use the web for harmful purposes?

In September, the New York Times reported the tragic story of an 18 year old freshman at Rutgers University who killed himself after his roommate surreptitiously filmed him having sex with another male and then streamed the intimate encounter live on the Internet. The prosecutor’s office said that the victim's roommate, and another classmate, had each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for using “the camera to view and transmit a live image”. The most serious charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.

The law does not yet exist to appropriately punish these offenders. And they are unlikely to serve much jail time (if any.)

Ironically, the news came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology. It's better than nothing, but too little, too late.

The teaching of Internet etiquette and abuse prevention needs to take place in elementary school, probably 5th grade (when most kids get their first cell phone), middle school at the latest.

Why so soon? Because by middle school, tween girls bully others via text message, and by high school, misguided freshmen film themselves engaging in sexually explicit behavior and post the videos on the Internet. Every academic year, disturbing incidents happen and children are victimized. Even in the affluent, sophisticated Northeast suburb where I live.

The development of programs to teach the young is in its infancy. One notable effort is, where teens can find tools to “draw their own digital line” and a forum to discuss abuse and seek help.

In the absence of a relevant preventative school curriculum, parents must find opportunities to educate their children about the dangers of social media. Not sure how to do that? Check out

Right now, most schools, communities, and parents are sitting on their hands and doing nothing.

The time for action is now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Web Secret #126: Google Analytics

If you've gone to the trouble of creating a website, or a blog, and you have nurtured your creation for a couple of months or so, you will want to know how effective it is. Exactly how many people are visiting your site? Where do they come from? How long do they visit?

People pay a fortune to web designers and marketers to set up and provide them with these types of data. But guess what? You can set up your own analytics for free, and without a degree in computer science.

Welcome to Google Analytics (GA). GA is a free service that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. It is the most widely used website statistics service, currently in use at around 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites.

Setting up GA is a snap. Go to the set up page where you first will be prompted to set up a Google account if you don't already have one. Then log in. Click on the Analytics link. Click on "Create New Website Profile". Enter the URL of your site, your time zone, and your country. You will be given code that you must copy and paste onto every page you want to track immediately before the closing head tag. (OK so you may need a tech savvy friend to help you with this.) And that, my friends, is it.

Give it a day or two. Then go back to GA and click on "Access Analytics". Here is just some of the valuable info you will get:

Number of people who visited your site - choose by the day, the month, the year - and by what percentage this has increased or decreased.

Amount of time people stay on your site when they visit - usually in minutes.

Where your visitors come from geographically - my blog has visitors from 24 countries including Turkey, Russia, and the UK.

What websites did my visitors come from (e.g., or if they used a search engine, what key words did they put into the search window (e.g. "teletherapy".)

You can add a custom section - e.g. paid traffic from ads.

You are now officially a geek.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Web Secret #125: 5 Most Iconic Internet Videos

What is less than 5 minutes long and has the power to inform, amuse, awe, and even potentially sell thousands of products?

Answer: Internet videos.

The most powerful of these get listed and rank ordered by a variety of pundits. Check out "The 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos" or's more erudite "50 Greatest Viral Videos." You'll notice that the most viewed videos tend to appear on multiple lists, albeit with different rankings.

If you can create a video, and get even 10,000 views- especially if the viewers are your target audience - you are a star. You have captured lightning in a bottle.

Great videos:
  • Are short
  • Don't require sophisticated production values
  • Cost very little money to make
  • Succeed because they embody a core, usually simple, but brilliant idea.
Here, in no particular order, are 5 poetic and powerful, clever and amazing videos ranked at the top of everyone's list:

#1. Picture Every Day - Noah took a picture of himself, everyday. For 6 years. Simple. Beautiful. Over 16 million views.

#2. Diet Coke and Mentos - What has sold more cola and candy than a Super Bowl ad? Over 12 million views.

#3. LED Sheep - This is an ad by Samsung. Not sure what they are advertising. Don't care. Over 12 million views.

#4. Grand Central Freeze - What happens when over 200 people freeze in place on cue in Grand Central Station in New York for five minutes? Over 23 million views.

#5. Will It Blend? You tell me. The folks at Blendtec have put out dozens of these 90 second videos and continue to do so. Collectively, they have hundreds of millions of views, averaging over 8 million views per video.

Coming up with a great idea for a video - that's the challenge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Web Secret #124: Technology Driven

A recent post on Where the Client Is reports practice building expert Lynn Grodzki's take on the future of psychotherapy in her newsletter "Forks in the Road"

Grodzki's theory is that anyone who has a health care private practice is either:

1) Insurance driven
2) Consumer driven
3) Belief driven

The insurance driven practitioner is guided by the imperatives of the large managed care companies.
"If this is your path, you need to position your practice for the competition. Your success is determined by the (insurance) industry's evaluation of your practice results. You need to achieve insurance-determined objectives to stay profitable and understand the recent concerns about current trend of insurance-driven therapy from efficiency to effectiveness."

The consumer-driven practitioner has adopted a consumer-friendly stance and reaches out directly to the consumer, to avoid the middle-man.
"If this is your path, success is based on how the client reviews each session and the overall treatment. To survive and thrive in practice, you need to understand the structure, measures, and marketing that help a consumer-driven practice to succeed."

The belief-driven practitioner is driven by a school of thought, using one of over a hundred therapeutic approaches, which they believe is more effective than others.

Gorzky believes:
"Therapists who operate a belief-driven practice usually rely on fee-for-service payments and this will increase in the future since non-industrialized, evidence-based methods will probably be cut out of health care reform. If clients want what Greenberg calls the “essential healing relationship” they will pay for it out of pocket, similar to alternative medicine.

If this is your path, success will rely on your reputation, passion, expertise in your approach and be measured by you, the therapist."

I believe there is a fourth fork in the road. As time goes on, more and more practitioners are going to be technology driven. They will focus on the technologies that make treatment delivery increasingly possible, affordable and ubiquitous.

Therapists and other professionals will use e-mail, instant messaging, video chat, virtual worlds, and methodologies not yet invented to reach clients located in far flung regions of the earth (where professionals are scarce), who might otherwise not access help, or would not have the time to get it.

In time, technology may become the most powerful imperative of them all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Web Secret #123:

In a recent blog post, social media expert Jeff Bulla wrote:
I am contemplating...securing domain names for my teenage children. Are they starting a business?….No. Have they a great idea and they want to encapsulate ... an online name?…No. They are still too young to be contemplating that strategic adventure.

[But] in the future ... their own branded domain name will ... be ... an essential part of their digital being ...
Ten years ago, achieving online branding was simple, you had to build a website, and a quick name search helped you check the availability of your desired domain. Today, of course, you have to not only check domain availability under multiple extensions (e.g. .net, org, .co, etc.) but you have to jump to secure your name in social media channels as well.

Happiness is discovering a website that solves a problem and solves it well. Enter not only finds out if your desired website name is free on several different top level domains but also on a variety of different social networking sites.

Using its name checker is a snap, just enter the name you’re looking for into the search bar. provides results in several key categories:
  1. Social Media Usernames - is your name available on twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? etc.
  2. Generic Domain Names - is your name available as a .info? .me? .biz? etc.
  3. Country Domain Names - is your name available in the UK ( in Japan (.jp) in Europe (.eu)? etc.
  4. Trademarks
It's quick, it's easy - it's a slam dunk.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Web Secret #122: Online Legal Resources

Need a good lawyer? When it comes to legal savvy, or accessing legal expertise that is directly relevant - mental health practitioners are... well let's just say that we aren't exactly cutting edge.

We aren't really to blame. We are not taught legal stuff in med school or grad school. And lawyers who really understand our unique concerns are few and hard to locate.

So imagine how thrilled I was when some months ago, my favorite peeps at "Where The Client Is" published "Mental Health and the Law," a fabulous list of online articles about just that. (Please note that many of these sites require free registration before actually accessing the material.)

Here are my favs:
  1. Malpractice Dangers for Psychiatrists. How many therapists are sophisticated about malpractice? See first paragraph above.
    (This article is directed toward psychiatrists, but the information is relevant for all mental health practitioners.)
  2. Therapist’s Guide for Preparing a Professional Will. Have you ever thought about what would happen to your practice if you die suddenly or are incapacitated without warning? Bet you haven't.
  3. A number of years ago, I testified in court as an expert on behalf of a client. I don't remember ANYTHING about the case. What I do remember is that I was terrified, clueless, and the attorney on the case allocated a max of 10 minutes to prepping me. I needed "When Professionals Go To Court: Preparing To Testify."
  4. I worked for only one facility that actually had standards for writing chart notes. Here’s what you need to know about keeping, transferring, and destroying patient records: Patient Records Legal Primer
That's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Web Secret #121: The World Is Changing Fast

Recently, I watched a brilliant TEDIndia presentation on "6th Sense Technology." Basically, this genius guy created a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and a computer. He did this using the innards of two computer mice.

Honestly, I was kind of zoning out during his talk, (maybe because the air-conditioning in my house had broken and it was about 90 degrees in my office.) But, what caught my attention was the mice - because they looked, well, antiquated. I checked the date of the presentation - November 2009. Figure my guy did his work in early 2009, maybe late 2008 - from my 2010 perspective the mice looked old.

I started to think about how fast the world is changing. I came across a video that made that point vividly, Shift Happens 2.0:

The video pointed out:
  • The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
  • Current students are preparing for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems.
  • The amount of new technological information is doubling every two years.
  • By 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capability of the human brain.
What does it all mean?

Honestly, I don't believe anyone has a clue. This exponentially accelerated change is unprecedented in human history.

I do have one piece of advice.

TURN IT OFF. Your computer, iPad, smartphone, cable TV with 400 channels, satellite radio, Facebook, Twitter. One week per year, one day per week, one hour a day.

Whatever you can handle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Web Secret #120: The Therapist's New Couch is Online

Many couples have made the painful discovery that the Internet is ruining their lives.

Whether their partner rekindled a long lost passion with an old flame they found on Facebook, or he/she discovered a craving for online porn, gambling, shopping and more, without a doubt, the web is now a source of temptation and sin that did not exist even 5 years ago.

Of course, the Internet seems to have been invented to make us contemplate the inherent yin and yang of existence. So for every evil, it offers up a potential solution.

The newsletter "Connections" recently published "The Therapist's New Couch is Online", a thought provoking article by Tim Atkinson which highlights how some are taking an online approach to end marital strife.

Tim points out that research shows, "most couples wait several years after problems emerge before seeking out relationship counseling. And by the time they get into couples therapy it might well be too late." The thinking is that though "an online method won’t be as powerful, couples might use it earlier than traditional marriage counseling, and so it would be more effective." He enthuses, "If this is the way the world is heading, then it feels good to know that [we are] heading with it..." and concludes by exhorting his colleagues to, "Be part of the future, and take a look."

I read Tim's post shortly after taking a look at the most recent Beloit College Mindset List. Each August since 1998, Beloit College provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall. It is a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. Within 10 years, these young people are going to be invading the workplace and our professional practices. If you don't think their Zeitgeist is dramatically different than the over 25 crowd, better start studying the List.

You will be meeting the class of 2014. Online.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Web Secret #119: Secrets for Gen Y

I almost called this post "Steve, Don't Eat It".

(Steve writes some of the funniest posts in the blogosphere, many involve his adventures with the "Good Lord, NOOOO!" aisle of the supermarket".)

Less obliquely, what I am trying to say to Gen Y is, when it comes to social media, DON'T:

Tag yourself in photos that show you wearing skimpy garb holding a brewski.
Discuss your sexual fetishes and proclivities.
Broadcast how much you hated your old boss/company/colleagues.

Today, more than ever DON'T.

  • 75% of U.S. recruiters are required by their companies to do online research of candidates
  • 70% of U.S. recruiters report they have rejected candidates because of information found online
Match that with:
  • The 1st Amendment (Free Speech) does not cover photos
  • The Internet records everything and forgets nothing
  • Every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry can be stored forever
  • The Library of Congress will be acquiring and permanently storing the entire archive of public Twitter posts since 2006
Figure that the worst thing you have done is the first thing people will know about you.

  • Be careful.
  • Do not post anything on any site that you would not want a potential employer to see.
  • Be discreet.
  • Set your profile to private and block inappropriate comments that others may make on your profile.
  • Be prepared.
  • Regularly check your online persona using reputation manager programs like StepRep. Make sure you are ready to explain or counter any “digital dirt” employers may see.

When all else fails, consider becoming Web Dead.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Web Secret #118: Social Media for Damage Control

I am often asked to advise individual practitioners and organizations considering an initial foray into social media. They are often paralyzed and fearful. What if someone posts something negative or inappropriate about them - either on their Facebook or Twitter or maybe on someone else's social media channel? Then what?

I am an advocate of prudent use of social media - especially for medical and mental health practitioners who deal with extensive confidentiality, malpractice, encryption and other issues. But at this juncture, if you are going to interact with Gen Y and beyond, you must engage in the conversation.

Something else to remember - social media is a double edged sword - it can be used against you. But it is also a formidable weapon that you can wield on your behalf. Case in point:

If you were running a company and one of your employees went ballistic on a customer before loading up on booze and dramatically storming off, thus garnering national attention, what would you do? That's what happened to JetBlue when one of their flight attendants got into an altercation with a passenger, and self ejected himself from the plane after grabbing a few beers for companionship.

The incident became international social media fodder. Many organizations would take a "sshhh" let's not comment approach.

Not JetBLue. They used social media to fight back, with a clever blog post that prominently features a clip from Office Space, the cult movie about the humiliations and frustrations of work life. The post, titled, "Sometimes the weird news is about us..." begins:
"It wouldn't be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it's about us. Well, this week's news certainly falls into that category. Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants? While we can't discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet."
In taking this bold approach, they showed they are on top of the situation, unafraid, able to laugh at themselves. And to top it all off, they grabbed the opportunity to finish off this PR coup by ending with "we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,300 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you've come to expect of us."

How clever.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Web Secret #117: Social Media in a Disaster

Whether you have a business or a private practice, you may have to cope with a disaster. Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and potentially threaten your ability to deliver services and your bottom line.

Consider these disasters:
  • natural - floods, earthquakes, and snowstorms
  • man made - oil spills, or employee goes "postal" in the workplace
  • health related - terminal/chronic illness, death, and pandemics
Should you use social media to manage a disaster? Does it work? How would you use it?

In a recent blog post, social media expert Jeff Bulla, cited a major Red Cross study that assessed the role and importance of social media in disasters. They asked “what is the general level of use of social media in the community?” and found:
  • Nearly 3 in 4 participate in at least one online community or social network.
  • The majority (82 percent) participates in social media at least once a week.
Those surveyed had strong expectations about the role of social media in the event of a disaster or emergency:
  • About half would sign up for emails, text alerts, etc. to receive information.
  • About half would mention emergencies on their social media channels.
  • Facebook was the most commonly used channel.
  • Nearly half would use social media to let loved ones know they are safe.
  • More than two-thirds agree that responders should monitor and respond to postings on their websites.
  • Younger people are more likely to request help through social media or text messaging.
So what do these results mean for you?
  • You need to proactively plan your use of social media during a potential crisis.
  • You need to establish policies/best practices for your use of social media.
  • If you don’t - others will do it for you - and you will have lost control of the message.
  • The younger your employee population - the more important this planning becomes.
What tools might you use to accomplish this?
  • Probably nothing is faster than using an existing Twitter account. Another option is to create an account that remains dormant except in the event of an emergency.
  • Post info on the wall of your Facebook.
  • Post info on your website (this can be very slow).
  • For a more ongoing response, consider creating a dedicated blog to provide information, tips, etc.
Remember the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared." The time to figure out how you would use social media in an emergency is NOW.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Web Secret #115: Apps for All

Mental health professionals are among the slowest adopters of smartphones and other cutting edge technologies like the iPad. As recently as 2 years ago, I recall attending a large clinical conference (over 1,000 attendees) and exactly one person had an iPhone.

This is changing slowly, and that's a good thing because smartphone and iPad apps are among the most useful resources for professionals and their clients.

Once the clinician has purchased their Droid or iPhone, they are often slow to download work relevant apps. This is not surprising given the fact that there are around 150,000 apps in the iPhone App Store alone — with some 10,000 apps being added each month. How do you access the best?

One psychotherapy relevant app is Panic Control, developed by Dr. Laurie Richer, a University of California, San Francisco, Professor of Psychiatry. Her goal was to provide cognitive behavioral techniques proven to help reduce the symptoms of a panic attack.
“The Panic Control app serves to immediately remind sufferers of the medical and psychiatric facts about panic attacks and help alleviate some of their worst fears. It then provides guided instructions on how to relax ... and reframe thoughts via psychologically insightful mantras.”

So now you know about this app and can assign it to your anxiety-ridden client. But what about meeting the needs of your other patients? Certainly you could spend the time combing through apps yourself and downloading them to check out their quality and relevance.

Or you could access meta-apps or "apps of apps".

Dan Cohen MSW, a social worker with a lifetime of experience connecting people with quality-of-life enhancing technology created Apps for All because he believes that smartphone and iPad apps have the potential to improve the lives of both clients and practitioners.

Apps for All identifies the best mental health and wellness related apps and groups them into categories for easy access and use. For example, for clients suffering from anxiety and other emotional issues, the categories include “Relaxation”, “Memory & Focus”, and “Mood Lifters.”

Clients who are caregivers may benefit from apps in the “Caregiving”, “Alzheimers” and “Autism” categories.

Panic Control is one of the twenty-five apps recommended in the Relaxation category.

Finally clients with health related concerns such as smoking, obesity, and others may find helpful resources in the “Dialysis” and “Health Tracker” categories.

The various app categories can be purchased individually for under a dollar each. The entire Healthful Apps collection can be acquired for under $3.00.

Good thing there's an app for that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Web Secret #114: Social Media - It's Time

Social networking provides vast opportunities for professionals to showcase their work, connect with clients and colleagues, and track industry leaders. Even so, according to a recent survey that polled over 700 workers, only 16 percent said that social networking has benefitted their professional lives.

Of employees using social media for business purposes; nearly half said they used it to access thought leadership, 33 percent to connect with peers and colleagues and 19 percent to showcase themselves or their companies.

Ironically, America's largest corporations are the biggest and most successful adopters of social media. Just check out Starbucks in any of their 11 social media channels, or Zappos - the Twitter king.

Better yet, check out Old Spice's brilliant campaign on YouTube. For those of you who have been stuck in a state of suspended animation and missed this social media phenomenon, the makers of Old Spice deodorant realized that most of their product's buyers were women. So they made an ad geared towards the fairer sex. That was clever, but then they kicked it up a notch - they went on Twitter, and enthusiastic followers tweeted about the ad. Then came genius - seemingly in real time, Old Spice responded to the tweets with custom response ads on YouTube. The whole thing went viral, and the rest is history.

How is any of this - the survey and the Old Spice campaign - relevant to an individual practitioner or a small(er) business owner?

Well first of all, the survey shows that social media is still in its infancy and there is time for anyone to implement a social media campaign if they so desire.

Secondly, social media is inexpensive. Sure, the original Old Spice ad has state of the art special effects, and Isaiah Mustafa, a former pro football player. But, what got them over 100 MILLION views on YouTube wasn't the original ad - it was Twitter, and the subsequent mini videos that feature no special effects - just incredibly well crafted writing (OK and Isaiah who is incredibly hot.)

You could do this, anyone could do this.

You just have to have a great idea.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Web Secret #113: Blog Memes

Jeff Bulla believes that blogging is the most powerful online path to branding. I still believe that memes are the most powerful form of viral marketing.

What if your blog is also a meme?

Then you are on your way to fame and fortune.

Take For over four years, Frank Warren, has invited people all over the world to send him creatively decorated postcards bearing secrets they have never before revealed. He posts the most interesting of these cards on his blog. The most compelling secrets are about religious beliefs, sex, suicide, and love. From this blog, Frank has published 5 bestselling books of secrets. Over 340 million people have visited his blog. He has also become a leader in suicide prevention.

Let's review - as a result of his blog meme, Frank now has:
  • visibility
  • power
  • money
  • the ability to inspire others
Now that's compelling.

Another addictive blog meme is Year of Giving. The concept is simple. Reed Sandridge, a 36 year old unemployed man, decided to give $10 to a different person every day for a year. He writes about the people with whom he intersects. I don't know how he does it, but he comes across the most interesting individuals, who react in often astonishing ways to his donation.

Reed's blog has gotten him written up in dozens of major publications, has inspired other philanthropic efforts, earned him recognition in countries around the world, and given him a platform to promote causes he believes in. The book and movie rights are almost certain to follow.

Successful memes always seem to have an elegant simplicity. These two are no exception.

But coming up with a meme... Not so simple.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Web Secret #112: The World Is Flat

In 2005, Thomas L. Friedman published, "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century". The title of the book is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field in terms of commerce, where all competitors have an equal opportunity.

I encourage you to explore the many other ways the world has become flat on the Internet, with a multiplicity of resources available to everyone with very little effort.

Here are some tips - from the sublime to the ridiculous:

Oh To Be In England - The people in Great Britain, Australia and a host of other countries speak English. Guess what - They often have books, articles, blogs and other great stuff earlier and better than we do. Here are a few examples from my international surfing adventures:

I certainly wasn't going to wait for the third book in the Millenium Trilogy, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" to be published in paperback in the US. I ordered it from months ago.

As a slightly plump but radically cool person; I wasn't going to restrict my retail therapy to the unimaginative US "plus size" market. Instead, I ordered an awesome leather biker jacket at a great price from Their international shipping rate is only $6.00!!! (News flash - many international websites offer amazingly attractive shipping rates.)

People in other countries often have a different perspective on things. If I want to know what's really happening in the world, I go to foreign online news outlets to get the rest of the story. For example, will give me the Australian side of the coin. If you are lucky enough to speak a foreign language or two, there is a Google News outlet for dozens of countries from Spain to Singapore.

Oh Canada - I never used to know people who didn't have medical insurance. But now, thanks to the recession, I do. When my insurance challenged friends need meds, I steer them to the Canadian Drugstore where they can save about 50% on drugs.

How many different ways can you say Wikipedia? We knew that my maternal grand-father, Jacob Schapiro, was a pioneer in the German automotive industry, but information was hard to come by. Until I had the idea to check out Found him! Is your German on the weak side? Mine is - so I translated the Wikipedia entry with a click of the mouse on "translate this page" in the Google listing. Not exactly elegant, but readily understandable.

Bottom line - don't limit yourself to US websites. The resources of our flat world are at your finger tips. The easiest way to access a foreign source is to go to the relevant Google site as your starting point. I speak fluent French, so when I am craving something Gallic, I go to, enter my query in French and voila - I access a site that I wouldn't ordinarily find.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Web Secret #111: 6 People Who Rock the Net

Part of my job is looking over hundreds of websites, blogs, Face Book pages, Twitters, and more every month. With that much on my plate, I only follow a very small group of experts on a regular basis. This blog post honors this select group:

1. Bill O'Hanlon - When I grow up, I want to be Bill O'Hanlon and it's not just because he lives in my favorite place in the whole world, Santa Fe. Bill is a therapist, an "A list" speaker, and a writer extraordinaire. In addition, he is a master marketer and has figured out how to make the World Wide Web and social media work for him. Visit and you will discover his whirlwind of blogs, international speaking engagements, published books, newsletters, and more. Bill's Tech Boot Camp opened my eyes to blogging and social media in January 2008. Thank you Bill!

2. DeeAnna Nagel - Want to know what we will be doing in 2020 or 2030? DeeAnna knows...and she's probably doing it already. DeeAnna is one of the visionaries behind the Online Therapy Institute and the author of the recently published Therapy Online: A Practical Guide. When she isn't traveling around delivering important presentations, DeeAnna is hosting conferences and providing consultation in Second Life, a virtual world where OTI owns its own virtual building. So cool.

3. Jeff Bulla - Jeff is an internet and social media expert living in Sydney, Australia. He updates his eponymous blog brilliantly, virtually every day and I read it - every day - carefully. He mostly writes about how corporations use social media, or has advice about how they should use social media. His stuff is relevant to anyone trying to enhance their business and their branding - regardless of their field. His blog is my bible.

4. Will Baum - Will is a psychotherapist based in Los Angeles and the mind behind Where the Client Is. I am not sure exactly what Where the Client Is, is - is it a website, a blog, an online magazine, or something else? Who knows and who cares. All I know is it's the go to resource to build your private practice.

5. Michael Klaybor - Another new technology pioneer, Mike used his clinical expertise and fluent Russian to become one of the very first psychologists to deliver international consultation via Skype. He also creatively harnessed Twitter and blogging to provide support and counseling to the many isolated and anxious high risk pregnant women on bed rest via iRestAssured. Mike is an early adopter and can be relied upon to have the latest gadget, or gizmo du jour. He creates podcasts, webcasts, and has a black belt in karate. He is from the Midwest and speaks Russian. He reliably amazes me.

6. Gary Vaynerchuk - Gary sells wine. Why is he on my list? As a very young man, Gary was dragged into the family business, a local liquor store called Shoppers Discount Liquors. In 2006, Gary launched Wine Library TV, a daily video blog about wine. He could be seen in jeans and a t-shirt, sitting in his back yard, schmoozing expertly about wine. By 2008, this video trailblazer had raised the annual revenue of the store from $4 million to $60 million. You can watch Gary talk about wine, social media, and pursuing your dream on his website. Want to be inspired, entertained, and educated about the potential of social media to gain exposure? Visit

May the Net be with you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Web Secret #110: Read the Manual (part 2)

Way back in May of 2009, I wrote about the importance of reading manuals and posted some online resources for said manuals.

A year has passed and I just came across the mother lode for guidebooks of all kinds:

The Guide Database aka Guide DB.

What's so amazing about Guide DB?
  1. They claim to link to over 47 million guidebooks and manuals of all kind
  2. They not only cover technology, but every kind of guidebook you can think of - from car manuals, to obscure dictionaries, to instructions for that filter system in your fridge that you threw away 5 years ago.
  3. Feeling bored? Explore their index of top guides for inspiration. Who knew you could still find out how to operate the 2001 Ford Windstar?
  4. Want to read the latest? Review their list of recent guides. How about an English - Hindi Medical Dictionary? A compilation of Jazz Chord Progressions? World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Game Guide?
Using the Guide DB is a snap. You type what your looking for in their search window and click "Search!" I have an old Palm TX, so I typed that in, and voila! User Guide For The T|X Handheld download comes up.

Simple and useful - I like that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Web Secret #109:

I have randomly stumbled upon before. The site is a daily blog that promises cool websites, computer tips, and downloads that make you more productive. YAWN.

I was about to click away yet again, when I somehow noticed they have a section called MakeUseOf Guides. I decided to check it out because I just bought my mother an iPhone, and quite frankly she needs major help (more than I have patience to give) using it.

You know what it feels like when you just discovered something that immediately makes your life better - even in small ways?

A manual? Isn't that so 20th century?

Not these manuals - they are awesome. They use pictures! Screenshots! Simple explanations! There are about 25 of them, ranging from the practical "How to Build a Great Media Center for Your Home", to the obscure "The Big Book of BitTorrent", to the challenging "The Idiot’s Ultimate Guide to Building Your Own Computer" (not sure why I would want to do that...)

I immediately downloaded, "The Underground Guide to the iPhone" for my mom and, "The Incredible Free Manual for Every Mac User," for myself. (Quite frankly, I am still on that Mac Snow Leopard learning curve having recently somehow deleted my "downloads" folder from my dock...)

You can view the manuals online or download them to your computer - in which case you will be asked to subscribe to the blog (you can easily unsubscribe.)

Either way, you will thank me.