Tribute to Dale Gwilliam

A tribute is “an act, statement or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect or admiration”.  This blog entry is a tribute to the good of Dale Gwilliam, my father.

For years when I was young my father and I ran the canal banks of Tempe, Arizona together, and we competed in 10k races.  I developed a love of running greatly because I did it with my father.  This has been a huge blessing in my life.  I still love running, and exercise regularly. Last year I ran a half marathon and did a couple of triathlons.  I am much healthier because of my father.

When we were young, my father built garden plots in our back yard and my siblings and I each had our own plots in which we could choose what to plant.  I grew to love eating vegetables by growing them, and working in the garden helped me to learn to work. My family today has large garden plots, and each of my girls has their own plot.  This week they have already been planning what they are going to plant in spring.  Our gardens have helped my daughters enjoy eating vegetables, and helped them learn to work harder.  My life and my daughter’s lives are better because my father gardened with me. Read more…

Walking Up Hills and Running Down: Effectively Utilizing Limited Resources

Today I ran my first half marathon. Around the 10th mile I was struggling to run up a steep hill, and I looked over and saw another runner walking up the hill next to me faster than I was running. I realized that it took a lot of energy at that point to try to run up the steep hills and didn’t make a lot of difference. That was a stark contrast to running down hills, in which a small amount of additional energy helped me go a lot faster. Because my energy was limited, I decided that I would walk up the hills and run down them.

Seasoned marathon runners would not need to implement an energy efficiency strategy such as this because they have plenty of energy to run up and down all of the hills. Because this was my first half marathon and because it has been many years since I have run a competitive race, this was an effective strategy for me today. Read more…

Why Vertical Social Networks are the Future

When Facebook started, it was a vertical social network of Harvard students, but it has grown to become the social network for everyone. Facebook now dominates social networking, with more than 500 million active users and more than 700 billion minutes spent on Facebook per month.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Facebook to be all things to all people. Facebook is designed primarily to help us connect with our real-world friends. For example, when we try to add a friend on Facebook, we receive a pop-up warning, “Please only send this request if you know her personally.” Facebook considers too many requests to unknown people as spam and has shut down or suspended many accounts of Facebook users for doing this. Read more…

Viral Coefficients – the essential metric for fast-growing social media properties

A viral coefficient is the number of new community members, on average, that each community member brings to the community.  A viral coefficient of 1 means that each member will bring 1 additional member to the community.  One of the secrets to quickly grow social media properties  is to maintain a viral coefficient greater than 1.  Here are some examples of member growth rates at different viral coefficients:

(1)    Viral Coefficient of 0.5 – If a community has 100 members and a viral coefficient of 0.5, then those 100 members will bring 50 new members to the site.  Those 50 members will bring 25 members, and so on, and the community will ultimately plateau at about 200 members (after 10 periods of time). A social network with a viral coefficient less than 1 will stop growing on its own. Read more…

Lessons in Survival from the Boabab Tree

photo (2)Last week in the Disney Animal Kingdom, our safari guide taught us about the gigantic Boabab tree. One Boabab tree can hold as much as 4.5 thousand liters of water.  This tree is often called the “Upside-down Tree” because when it’s leaves fall the branches look like roots and and the tree appears to be upside down.  This tree is found most commonly  in belts throughout Africa.

These trees have enormous, trunks and live for thousands of years.  One Boabab tree has a trunk with a diameter of more than 25 meters, and was dated to have been living at the time of Noah’s flood (source).

These trees teach about how businesses, countries and families can survive hard economic times.   Read more…

Viajamos.com.br – the Brazilian Travel Social Network

On Tuesday, January 26th we launched Viajamos.com.br, a Brazilian travel social network.  We created this site for Azul, a Brazilian airline.

The site was launched at Campus Party, a huge technology event in Sao Paulo 11 days ago.  Since that time, we have seen exciting viral growth.  Within the last hour, the 30,000th person registered to be a member of Viajamos.com.br.

Members are also actively engaged with the site.  For example, 63,000 photos have already been uploaded to the site, nearly 1,600 topical user groups have been created, 1,500 blog entries have been posted,  500 events have been added to the site, etc.

How Things Can Be Perfectly Right When They Went All Wrong

About 14 years ago I tried to start a photoBrazilian adoption program.  I worked to help a U.S. couple adopt a little baby boy.  In the end, the adoption could not be completed because of Brazilian adoption policies.

Sonia and Everaldo,  dear friends in Brazil, adopted the baby boy and named him Miguel. The Brazilian adoption program closed.

A few weeks ago I visited Sonia, Everaldo and their family in Aracaju, Brazil.  I spent a delightful time with Miguel, now 14, who is pictured above with his adoptive mother.

Miguel wants to be a chef and open his own restaurant some day. I’m teaching him how to make Mexican food because there are no Mexican food restaurants in his city.

Everyone loves Miguel.  He has a huge heart.  Miguel has a great family who loves him.  Sonia told me how grateful she is that the U.S. adoption of Miguel fell apart. At the time the Brazilian adoption program fell apart it was a huge set back for me, but the next year Adoption.com was created.  Much more importantly,  Miguel was adopted by the right family, and is exactly where he’s supposed to be.  I’m so grateful that things went wrong with the Brazilian adoption program, but turned out perfectly right.

I need to remember this important lesson to help me keep perspective when other things go wrong in my life.06

Starting a Social Network with Key Influencers

A few months ago I built GenealogyWise.com for one of my clients.  GenealogyWise is a social network for people interested in researching and sharing their genealogy or family history.  In just a few months, this social network already has 3,000+ member-created groups on genealogy topics, 14,000+ registered members and large amounts of user-generated content.

One of the keys to successful launch of this social network was that a list of “key influencers” in the genealogy sector was developed.  Then, we reach out to those key influencers when GenealogyWise was in beta and invited them to be the first members of the social network.  Not only did many of those key influencers join, but they also invited their friends, posted on their blogs, and told others about it on other genealogy communities.   Read more…

Consulting for Social Media, Niche Social Networks & Digital Monetization

“Approximately once a decade, a radical new technology emerges that fundamentally changes the business landscape.  In every case, regardless of prior competitive dynamics, businesses that understand and appropriately adopt the technology win, while those that fail to do so lose.  In the 1970s, this was mainframe computing.  IN the 1980s, it was the PC. In the 1990s, it was the Internet.  And today it is the online social graph.” (Clara Shih in The Facebook Era)

The social graph is the world wide web of people.  It is the map of everyone on the Internet and how they are interconnected.  The social graph is for people what the Internet is for interconnected webpages.  Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are helping to construct this social graph.

Each of these radical technology evolutions has been punctuated by a cycle of innovation, commercialization, emergence of new applications, and then large-scale impact on business.  The online social graph is following this cycle, and is facilitating a “new, more nimble, and more efficient class of businesses that outcompetes those using technology from the previous era.” (Clara Shih) Read more…

FamilyLink Becomes a Top 100 US Web Property

For years, one of my goals has been to help create one of the 100 most popular web properties. Since last August I have been privileged to spend much of my consulting time working for a client named FamilyLink, the world’s largest family-related social network.  FamilyLink operates the We’re Related Facebook application, which is the 6th most popular Facebook app.  Through this application, it’s iPhone application, its ad network, its websites and other projects, FamilyLink helps to connect families. FamilyLink has only been around for a couple of years, but already has more than 40 million registered members and delivers hundreds of millions of ad impressions per month.

Today FamilyLink became the #99 most popular US web property, according to Quantcast:
http://www.quantcast.com/p-86YkM5oSeBMSE#summary

Congratulations FamilyLink for your phenominal growth.  Thank you for letting me part of this amazing ride.