Monday, April 14, 2008

If Only Our Bookshelves Were Social...

Some number of months back I ran across LibraryThing. It allows you to catalog the books you've read or have on your bookshelf or wish to read all online. The social networking and recommendations aspect comes into play when it comes to connecting with other folks that have the same books in their catalog that you do -- since they may have books in their own catalog that would be of interest to you. Part of the idea is also that you can keep an eye on what your friends are reading, instead of simply forgetting the book they recommended last week. I actually wanted an online catalog for other purposes as well:

  • Knowing what books I've already bought and have in a pile somewhere but just haven't gotten around to I don't buy it again
  • Being able to let friends browse my catalog and ask to borrow books
  • Tracking what I'm reading so that it can automatically be tracked on my blog for folks that are interested in what I'm reading (I'm usually reading 3-5 books at a time, at the rate of between 2-4 a month or so typically is my best guess).
So I started out poking around at LibraryThing. It has an active community. The good/bad thing is that yesterday I discovered there are two other similar sites. The bad part is that now I'll have to check them out. The good part is that a bit of friendly competition ought to bode well for those of us that like the idea and find benefits to having our personal book collections cataloged on-line.

There seem to be three sites that serve this niche:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Focusing In Tight Times....and in Good

Barry VanderKelen, who heads up the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation, has a column entitled Nonprofit Strategies that appears from time to time in the SLO Tribune. I often catch it on-line when it appears. Today's is entitled Stay Focused in tight times. In it he asks Israel Dominguez, who became the new director of Cuesta College's Small Business Development Center in November, "how does a nonprofit organization navigate tough economic times?"

What I liked was the advice given by Mr. Dominguez is good for non-profit....and for profit enterprises alike. And not only in bad times -- but good ones too.

You may want to read the article yourself (link again) then come back here. Anyhow, I'm not known for lacking in opinions so I had a bit to add which is below:

For directors (and business owners), it shouldn't be a matter of thinking in terms of good times versus bad times but a matter of thinking: Who really are my customers? What do they truly want right now? How might I give it to them? And, critically, how do I communicate to them in a compelling way that is compatible with their current mindset?

Good times just means we get to be a bit more lazy in our planning and implementation of all of the above while still drifting by. :-) True success -- the kind that is sustainable anyway -- takes deliberate analysis of the marketplace. Once you're in that position you stop worrying about the ups and downs of the economy other than as variables to incorporate into your analysis about what needs and desires you should be meeting for your customers and making sure your marketing is appealing to them in the new context.

Ironically, with a bit of creativity and persistence, economic downturns can actually be incorporated into ones product/service development and marketing messages. All changes and cycles present opportunities for the astute director/manager/owner.

"You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out." -- Warren Buffet