Reading at the Princeton Library – Dec 1, 2010

I’ll be reading at the Princeton Public Library along with Bernadette McBride, the Bucks County poet laureate, on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Hope to see you there.

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Your Daily Poem

Thanks to Jayne at Your Daily Poem for selecting Poetry Night, First Grade for the October 12, 2010 edition. If you’re looking for a daily dose of great poetry with your coffee in the morning, head over to Jayne’s site and sign up.

If you’re visiting from today’s email, you might want to see some other works I’ve posted on the poetry page, here.

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The Tea Party, History and (Short) Social Memory

Social memory, often short, might never be shorter than today. I just saw a story that people are already looking back on the Bush years sentimentally. As if that disaster never even happened.

It shouldn’t be surprising to see how the media, which once anointed Obama as the agent of “change” is now spinning the Tea Party as the new power pushing social “progress.” But here’s the thing: Rolling back the 20th century isn’t progressive. It’s reactionary. When you want to cancel the income tax, end social security, cut government regulations, kill the EPA, end work-place rules,  close the borders – that’s not progress, that’s the 1890s.

You recall the 1890s, with cholera and tenements and Triangle Shirt Factory fires. You know, paradise.

Of course, it could be that people in the Tea Party movement don’t recall the 1890s, because, like short-term social memory, we also suffer from long-term ignorance. So it’s easy to drum up support for a golden age which never existed but looks a lot better than “the mess we’re in now.”

And how did we get into the current mess, anyway? By cutting regulations, taxes, environmental laws, spending….sound familiar?

The truth is that we’ve been a Tea Party country for thirty years. What was Reaganomics, trickle down theory, the Contract with America?  Was George Bush a raving big-government, tax and spend environmentalist? Come on.

You can blame Obama for a whole bunch of stuff. But you can’t screw up an economy in a few years. It takes (cough) about thirty or so.

If the real issue here is about good social policy, and the desire to see the country thrive, then let’s get honest about how you do that. Any entrepreneur who’s taken a venture from startup to profitability knows that the best way to survive – and then thrive —  is to focus on long-term investments. Companies that lack an overall vision and lurch from one short-term opportunity to the next rarely become a great success.

Social policies are no different. Investing in education, infrastructure, new technologies and the like may cost more up front, and they can even be painful, but they pay off in great return later on. Starving the federal government of funds by cutting taxes during a recession will put a lot of money in the hands the wealthiest few, but is a disastrous long-term plan. This is how smart, rich people got to be rich in the first place, because unless they hit the lottery with a lucky birth they made their money by creating value, solving problems, and making smart investments during hard times.

Investment breeds return, it’s a simple equation that only has the tide of history behind it (see for instance a small set back called The Great Depression). The Tea Party has history behind it too, and most of it proven wrong. Are the Democrats a panacea? As a corporatist party, it’s hard to put too much faith in them. But there are some good people there, like Senator Warren, for one. I happen to like Rush Holt, from the House. And I maintain an open mind about Obama, because he’s had a Party of No blocking almost everything he’s tried to do.

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2011 Pushcart Nomination

Very pleased to announce that “Poetry Night, First Grade” has been nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses.

Thanks to US1 Worksheets for the nomination!

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YourDailyPoem.com to Publish “Poetry Night, First Grade”

YourDailyPoem.com will be publishing my poem, “Poetry Night, First Grade” on October 12.

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Creating Value with Internet Marketing

I’m a marketing director and webmaster in my real life, so I’m on the receiving end of a lot unsolicited resumes. I feel a sense of responsibility to scan them, even when there’s nothing available, and put aside those which strike me as particularly well presented, for the future.

A few weeks ago, I got one from a recent college grad. This kid did one thing which few others do – instead of sending a mass email on a BCC, he took the time to read about the company and send an individual note to me directly.

Like so many others, he was having a hard time getting callbacks on his resume. It got me thinking about what I’d be doing if I were looking for a marketing job today.

Essentially, I would tailor my pitch and resume to the ways in which I would build value for the company – and by “value” I mean “revenue.”  This is something no one ever explained to me and I wish they had, and it’s the only thing that matters. It may seem obvious for the big picture but it’s easily forgotten in the day-to-day.

Everything in marketing comes down to how much value – or revenue – you create. Editing websites, writing blog articles, being an SEO expert – these things are part of the job but the reason you do them is to generate sales. (Even non-profits run on transactions – a donation, a registration form, a newsletter signup.)

Every other skill that you bring which doesn’t lead in some fashion to generating value is probably not going to get you hired. Are you a killer Javascript programmer? Do you design beautiful websites? It doesn’t really matter. You can still do these things – and it can make your job rewarding and enjoyable – but being a “team player,” a “self-starter,” showing up for work on time probably won’t get you an interview.

On the other hand, do you design clean WordPress sites that are built for search engine optimization? Do they incorporate inbound social media links, are they filled with search-friendly content, do they lead to higher form conversions that generate leads? Different story.

So again, one way marketing creates value -or revenue – is through lead generation. A press release that uses adjectives brilliantly may read real nicely. But a press release that’s optimized for search can build inbound links to increase your site’s rankings, leading to more organic (free) visitors. When these visitors hit a well-designed site they’ll fill out forms or signup for webcasts, and these are leads for the sales team. This is one concrete way that marketing directly impacts a company’s bottom line.

Internet Marketing is cheap and effective, a combo that’s hard to beat (it’s also fun.) SEO professionals who are knee-deep in the process every day might assume that even the pizza shop on the corner is optimizing their sites, posting to blogs, running Adwords and converting leads with a web-based CRM. But trust me, they are not. There’s plenty of time left to introduce effective online marketing as a standard business practice.

So there is an opportunity here.

If I were just starting out today, I would learn all I could about search engine optimization, lead generation, marketing automation, and blogging. I would start a WordPress blog right now and learn how to use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, build inbound links, show off your LinkedIn stats, and your Twitter followers. In short, become an expert on social media. And then put a link on your resume as evidence that you know how to use the web as a one-person marketing machine.

You don’t need a degree in marketing to do this. You can learn all you need from the Internet. I find podcasts a great way to get started, and there are two that I like:

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