Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Feedback on Blog World Expo panel – 7 Habits

I’ve blogged about the 2 panels I participated in at Blog World Expo 2008 (here’s the one I was a panelist in and here’s the one I moderated). Thought you’d be interested in checking out some of the twitter feedback that we received on the 7 Habits panel I moderated.

Thanks to Tom for both the pictures.

Tom, Lionel and Nicki at Blog World Expo 2008

Tom, Lionel and Nicki at Blog World Expo 2008

Carolyn and Nicki (Blog World Expo 2008)

Carolyn and Nicki at Blog World Expo 2008

Once again, kudos to Nicki, Lionel, Carolyn and Tom for being a great panel. I think the tweets are far more descriptive.

@marismith: Wow, just realized the corporate blogging panel room 227 is packed! Peeps sitting on the floor.

@trishussey: Retweet @gwenbell: Dell, Yahoo!, Facebook, Kodak and LinkedIn corporate bloggers. Powerhouse session.

@gwenbell: Dell, Yahoo!, Facebook, Kodak and LinkedIn corporate bloggers. Powerhouse session. #bwe08

@JayBerkowitz: BlogWorld Corp blog panel #bwe08 Thomas Hoehn from Kodak “A blog without comments is just a website”

@ccarfi: “the acceptance of negative comments FAR outweighs the comments themselves” – tom hoehn at kodak #bwe08

@alanunderkofler: “A blog without comments is a website” Thomas Hoehn Kodak #bwe08

@shaicoggins: is@ the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Business Blogs panel at #bwe08. Great insights in to corp communications fr Dell,Yahoo,Kodak& Facebook.

@alanunderkofler: At 7 habits of Highly Effective Business Blogs… Great panel, Dell, facebook, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, and Kodak, lots to learn! #bwe08

@marismith: I’m diggin’ the chick from Yahoo blog <>  Nicki Dugan. Smart, confident, experienced, mature.

I’ve been traveling ever since my last post. In New York the past couple of days at the World Business Forum after my Vegas trip (Blog World Expo). I’m also flying out to Portland tomorrow. So, expect reduced blogging over the weekend.

Filed under: Speaking Engagements

The 10 Commandments of Digital Etiquette

The fine folks over at GQ list their 66 rules, tips and secrets for living like a 21st century gentleman. Some of these gadget and social networking etiquette tips I follow, while others I’m working on.

Definitely worth a read (after the jump).

GQs guide to gadget and social networking etiquette

GQ's guide to gadget and social networking etiquette

Plus, this cannot be found on their website as well. So, consider this an exclusive. Here goes:


#1. Don’t check your phone when you’re in a social setting: I’d add even in a professional setting such as a meeting. I check my emails during the weekend and I’m beginning to feel it’s not a great idea. I’d recommend staying away from emails at least on the Sabbath!

#2 and #3. If checking email is imperative in a social setting; Ask. If you absolutely must check email at the table, ask those dining with you if it’s cool and that you’re expecting an important message. Else, wait until you go to the bathroom to check email.

#4. Vibrate mood. When in company, don’t allow your phone to ring, rather set it in vibrate mode.

#5. Avoid indiscriminate emails. Always think twice before you send out those group emails. I’ve broken this rule, but I’m ever more careful when I send out emails these days. Are you?


#6. Don’t post photos of your friends that they wouldn’t post. Always ask before you do.

#7. Don’t tag your friends’ photos without permission.

Tag no one who hasn’t signed off on the tagging

#8. In general, someone should be your friend before they’re your “friend”. I try to follow this rule and also try pruning your “friend” list ever so often. But there’s always room for improvement.

#9. Choose your “friends” carefully.

Rather than lash out every time someone tries to poke or zombie bite you, just say you’re not interested in (dumb-a#$) apps in your profile. Then delete them from your friends list.

#10. Not everything that happens to you is blog worthy! Point taken. I’d actually extend that rule to tweets or posted items on your favorite social networking site.

How many of these rules do you follow? And, which one’s don’t you follow? Leave a comment.

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

5 Tips on being a great moderator

I happened to bump into Guy Kawasaki at Blog World Expo and decided to check out his mantra on how to be a good moderator before my corporate blogging panel on Sunday. Good thing I did, since I was able to adopt many of the best practices Guy recommends.

Guy Kawasaki at Blog World Expo 2008

Guy Kawasaki at Blog World Expo 2008 (Source: Guy's blog)

Here’s what I learned from Guy:

1. Don’t over-prepare the panelists: Point taken. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even talk about the panel when we met the previous day. Having said that, I’d make a couple of recommendations:

a. brainstorm with your panel on the topic well in advance and come up with key themes. We actually came up with the “7 Habits”, over 2 weeks in advance

b. brief the panelists a few minutes before the discussion on the direction of the panel. That’s basically to alert them of areas that may surprise them. For e.g. letting them give their 30 second intro, breaking eye contact with them (refer #4 below), etc…

Never let them be surprised. Again, you’ve got to watch out for your panelists.

2. Do prepare yourself in advance: After reading Guy say – “moderating a panel is deceptively hard” I left no stone unturned. Plus, I wasn’t helping myself with an Apple style (less words & bullet points) slide show which meant it was important for my words to have both precision and clarity without any rambling (which trust me, will happen when you don’t prepare).

I felt guilty that I didn’t party the night before (it was a Saturday) in Vegas, but hey, as Guy says: “moderating is a complex activity” and it’s worth preparing for it.

3. Let the panelists introduce themselves in 30 seconds: Rather than the moderator read out the panelists’ bio (which is an embarrassingly painful process), let the panelists introduce themselves in 30 seconds. Loved the idea.

This way I didn’t mispronounce their names or miss an important achievement of theirs. However, I misspelled Tom’s name on the opening slide, which I remedied before the start. So, don’t forget to spell check your panelists names when you add it to the first slide.

4. Break eye contact with the panelists: This was tougher than it seemed. I did make it a point to look at the panelists while asking questions but then I turned towards the audience. But I felt the best thing to do at that point was to take notes. Why? If you’re a blogger, it comes in real handy while writing a post on the panel but more importantly, it helps you structure the discussion flow in a much better way.

5. Make everyone else look smart: Absolutely. This panel was about the best practices that Lionel, Nicki, Carolyn & Tom had learned during the past couple of years and their conversation with the audience. As Guy recommends, my focus was to steer the discussion and I must have only spent 5 – 10% of the time talking.

Also, we allowed for nearly 10 minutes for questioning (in a 45 minute panel), which is roughly ~23% of the allocated time. That’s pretty close to the 30% recommended by Guy.

And, Guy, you were right. Moderating a panel could be deceptively hard, and I’m glad I found that out before I took the stage. And, looks like it may have worked

Filed under: Miscellaneous

Blog World Expo 2008: Wrap-up

At the Vegas airport after wrapping up the most instructive, anecdote filled corporate blogging panel I’ve been a part of. One that I moderated with my favorite corporate blogging peeps.

Lionel Menchaca, Dell
Nicki Dugan, Yahoo!
Carolyn Abram, Facebook
Thomas Hoehn, Kodak

First off, thanks to all four of them for being able to make it to Blog World. It’s definitely something I’d planned for a long time and the panel conversation was as educative to the audience as I’d envisioned it’d be. They shared with other corporate bloggers, best practices and anecdotes that I’ve heard during my conversations with them in the past. And, that is good for the industry in general. I’ll soon share the presentation on slideshare with my notes.

Presentation pet peeves: I craft my slides on Apple Keynote (and in this case “powerpoint on a mac”) but was bummed that the fonts were all messed up when I was forced to run it on a PC. And, I misspelled Tom’s name. Sorry, Tom! Keep these in mind when you dream up your next presentation as a moderator.

Content-wise, the panel was a gold-mine for any corporate blogger or company wanting to start a blog. More on this later. Stay tuned.

Now I’ve got a flight to catch!

Blogged from my iPhone

Filed under: Business Blogging, Speaking Engagements

Blog World Expo 2008: Corporate Blogging Myths and Reality

Just wrapped up my first panel discussion with Paula Berg, Southwest Airlines, moderated by Chris Baggot. What I loved about the panel was the level of Q&A interactivity that permeated the entire session – from start to finish.

Some of the key topics we touched upon were related to the motivation behind corporate blogs – goals, strategy, tactics, implementation and ROI.

Most of the questions we got asked are questions I get asked all the time when I speak at events and have addressed on this blog in the past:

For e.g.

1. Why should my company start a corporate blog?
2. Why should a CEO blog when he has more important things to do?
3. What about privacy laws?
4. What about the argument that corporate bloging is but a trend?


Once I’ve access to a laptop and wireles connectivity (moving from the Marriot to Hilton later today since I currently don’t have Internet access there), I’ll probably link to posts from the past that address the above questions.

I’m currently heading to the luncheon keynote with Guy Kawasaki and Steve Rubel. Should be fun.

Feel free to throw in questions you may have on the above topics. I’m currently blogging this from an iPhone – on the WordPress app.

Blogged from my iPhone

Filed under: Business Blogging, Speaking Engagements

Blog World Expo 2008 coverage

I thought I’ll blog a few words as I wait here at SFO for my flight to Vegas for Blog World Expo (which starts tomorrow).

As I’ve said earlier, I hate carrying my laptop around at conferences but would still like to review the panels I attend. (see my post yesterday for the panels I plan on attending).

So, as an experiment I’ve decided to engage in some form of iPhone blogging via the WordPress app, as I’m doing right now.

The cons include a complete lack of proper editing tools and an inability to hyperlink, but I’m willing to ignore that for the immediacy of blogging at the conference. So, I plan on giving it a try. Also, watch out for weird spelling errors that may creep in owing to the iPhone keyboard (which works impeccably most of the time).

Looks like it’s time to board the flight. See you in Vegas as I provide a ringside view of Blog World Expo 2008, as a panelist, moderator and attendee.

And, one more thing: don’t forget to follow me on Twitter. Just search for “mariosundar”.

Blogged from my iPhone

Filed under: Miscellaneous

10 Must-have iPhone Apps while traveling

So, I’m prepping for my Blog World panel discussions (both on corporate blogging – no surprises there) and planning my trip: packing et al. I’m continually amazed at how the iPhone has changed my travel life for good. I even went so far as contemplating a trip without my laptop but relented since I may need to do some blogging there (and blogging on the iPhone is near impossible).

But, I digress. I soon realized that there are 10 iPhone apps (all free, except for RTM’s web app) I couldn’t travel without. They keep me from boredom, get work done and sometimes help me find my way (iPhone – I’m lost without you). Here’s my list:

1. Communicate (Email/Calendar/Tasks): One of the main reasons for getting MobileMe was so I could maintain both my personal (Gmail) and Work email while on the go. The Calendar and Mail apps both get the job done, though I wish there was a way to star emails for reading later.

iPhone's Mail App

iPhone's Mail App

Equally important is my task manager, which is “Remember the Milk” (RTM). Don’t laugh at the name, because this is the most robust task manager out there that also plugs-in to my Gmail and has a terrific award winning iPhone app that’s a breeze to use.

iPhone's Task App

iPhone's Task App

2. Read News: Gone are the days when one would have to buy books or magazines to read as they waited for the flight to arrive. Google Reader has become my news source with over 140 news feeds that I track on topics that are relevant to me. Imagine accessing that content on my mobile device.

iPhone's News Reader App (RSS)

iPhone's News Reader App (RSS)

The beauty of the Google Reader app is its Mac like simplicity and focus on the things that matter. Case in point: the “star icon” and the “Mark the above items as read” features; allows you to skim through your inbox while you star the news items you wish to read in depth for later, the rest (15 items at a time) you can mark as read.

3. Chat:

Another great way to pass your time while waiting, is to chat with friends and colleagues (if you wish to talk business). At work, I use Adium that pulls together all my chat clients (Gmail/Facebook/Mac) but the iPhone boasts of three great apps to help accomplish that:

a. Gtalk: Painfully simple and surprisingly fast. Most of my contacts reside here and are accessible while I travel.

b. Facebook: Frankly, I haven’t tried Facebook chat on their native iPhone client, but I’m aware that in case I can’t find someone on gtalk, this is a secondary resource for me to tap.

c. Twitterrific: Of course! This app (free version) is a pain to use since I have miles to scroll each time I load the page, but I guess that’s the price to pay for free. The pros of this app includes the ability to tweet pictures I take with the iPhone’s camera.

4. Keep track of Friends: If you’ve an appetite for information overload (esp. it’s about your friends) then Friendfeed is the app for you. While Facebook and Twitter share facets of that information, reading Friendfeed is like drinking from the fire hose. But hey, if you’ve time to kill – that may not be a bad idea after all.

iPhone's Lifestreaming App

iPhone's Lifestreaming App

In addition to Friendfeed’s fire hose feed, you can also post your iPhone photos, Search (killer feature) and access the best of the day/week items and rooms in their iPhone web app.

5. Schmooze:

Now this is for all ye who are travel on business and concerns “my preciousss” LinkedIn app (Did you know: I work there). As my friend & colleague Jerry writes, there are a few things you can do with the LinkedIn app: search, research, and most importantly add to the network folks you schmooze with at the conference. My earlier LinkedIn iPhone app post.

iPhones Professional networking App

iPhone's Professional networking App

I’ve actually stop carrying business cards around, since I can now send an invite to folks I meet at conferences and events. That’s what I’ll be doing as I travel to Blog World Expo later today. Read about my panel discussions (Fri/Sun) at the event.

And, did you know, you could listen to music while you do all the above on this magical device called an iPod 🙂 Are there any other iPhone apps, I’m missing here that require mention?

My other iPhone posts: here and here

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

Top 15 Corporate Blogs (Sept 2008) Shake-up!

Regular readers of this blog know about the feature post that chronicles the ebb and flow of corporate blog rankings (check here and here) that I’ve been maintaining this past year. I currently rank over 125 corporate blogs, most of them culled from the New PR Wiki. Unfortunately, I realize that the New PR Wiki is not current and so I’ve started throwing in more recent corporate blogs.

As I added a couple more blogs from a recent post from Mashable, I realized they shook up the steady rankings of the Top 15, by jumping in at #2 and 4, moving Delta and Kodak out of the rankings for now. Here’s the updated Top 15 Corporate blogs list. If you’d like to help maintain the corporate blog rankings, please leave a comment.

15 Most Popular Corporate Blogs (Technorati ranked) – September 2008 (Updated)

#15. Lenovo – Authority: 123

#14. Marriott – Authority: 135

#13. Mint – Authority: 142

#12. Flickr – Authority: 242

#11. General Motors – Authority: 282

#10. Southwest Airlines – Authority: 284

#9. LinkedIn – Authority: 551

#8. Yahoo! – Authority: 601

#7. Dell – Authority: 569

#6. Facebook – Authority: 779

#5. Yahoo! Search – Authority: 1145

#4. Zillow – Authority: 1230 (NEW)

#3. Adobe – Authority: 1951

#2. Twitter – Authority: 5067 (NEW)

#1. Google – Authority: 10245

New PR Wiki, Josh Catone’s list of companies that get corporate blogging, Mashable.

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Filed under: Business Blogging

Why do you love corporate blogs? Or, do you?

Mashable says: “Liking a corporate blog is not an easy task, what with all the “propaganda”. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned editing LinkedIn’s blog is that there’s a ton of useful information that every company can share with their users through a blog, chief among which are breaking news on feature updates, how users use the product and a sense for the work culture at the company. But, I digress.

Despite the opening salvo on the boringness of corporate blogs, Don still loves corporate blogs. Here’s why:

1. Humanize companies –

they provide a human element to something that is devoid of emotion, understanding, and personality.

A good corporate blog should showcase the people behind the company and its products, exploring their personality and enabling readers to connect with them on a personal level. Exactly, why I agree with Hugh Macleod’s Porous Membrane concept.

2. Feedback –

they’re the easiest way to file a complaint and tell more than a recording or a customer service agent that something is wrong.

Corporate blogs were started to enable true conversation between companies and users. However, not all corporate blogs have enabled comments (think Google, Apple, etc…). Leaving comments on an appropriate feature post is a good way to provide feedback and draw attention to the issue at hand, but more importantly filing a complaint with customer service is a necessary next step. Check out LinkedIn’s Customer Service Site.

Don also gives some examples of corporate blogs he admires like Google (#1 on our most recent Top 15 list), Zillow, Garmin and Twitter which shook up the Top 15 rankings. Find out more here. Don, any more corporate blogs to add to our rankings?

So, why do you love corporate blogs? Or, do you?

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Filed under: Business Blogging

Top 15 Corporate Blogs (Ranked – Sept 2008)

Quick Update: There’s been a small revision in the Top 15 – Sept 08. After I published the post, I was left wondering how Yahoo!, one of the pioneers in this space, didn’t find itself in the Top 15. The culprit – a URL change! My friend, Nicki Dugan, wrote in saying:

We’re now tracked under, which appears to have a 601 Technorati ranking (and that’s only been earned since we made the URL change in January and doesn’t include previous rankings since August 2006).

I’ve made the change in the countdown, Nicki. Yahoo!’s blog now shows up at #6, moving the LinkedIn Blog down to #7. I’m glad we remedied the situation since Yahoo! has been one of the pioneers in the corporate blogging space along with Dell – thanks to Nicki & team.

It’s time for another edition of Top 15 Corporate Blogs, and you’re in for a few surprises. I was glad to find that our most recent ranking (May 08) now finds mention in the Wikipedia entry on Corporate Blogging.

What’s different?
There seems to be a slight rearrangement in 12 of the 15 blogs you saw in the May 08 rankings. We also find four new corporate blogs have crept up the charts – Southwest Airlines, Marriott, Lenovo and the Mint blog. And, for some reason Digg (Editor – Jen Burton) seems to have fallen off of Technorati’s radar.

Interestingly, I’ll be on 2 panels at Blog World Expo 2008 (Sept 19 – 21) with 6 of these 15 bloggers. But, I digress… let’s get started. I give you, the Top 15 corporate blogs as of September 2008 (after the jump).

Top 15 Corporate Blogs

Marketing Nirvana's Top 15 Corporate Blogs

15 Most Popular Corporate Blogs (Technorati ranked) – September 2008

#15. Delta – Authority: 109 (Down from #12)

#14. Kodak – Authority: 120 (Down from #13)

#13. Lenovo – Authority: 123 (New)

#12. Marriott – Authority: 135 (New)

#11. Mint – Authority: 142 (New)

#10. Flickr – Authority: 242 (Down from #3)

#9. General Motors – Authority: 282 (Up from #10)

#8. Southwest Airlines – Authority: 284 (New)

#7. LinkedIn – Authority: 551 (Up from #8)

#6. Yahoo! – Authority: 601 (Up from #11)

#5. Dell – Authority: 569 (Up from #6)

#4. Facebook – Authority: 779 (Same)

#3. Yahoo! Search – Authority: 1145 (Up from #5)

#2. Adobe – Authority: 1951 (Same)

#1. Google – Authority: 10245 (Same)

New PR Wiki and Josh Catone’s list of companies that get corporate blogging.

Moving forward, I’d like to consolidate Debbie Weil’s list of 67 Big Brand corporate blogs, many of whom find mention in the master list of 121 blogs that yield the Top 15.

Methodology. I’m using Technorati authority to help navigate the corporate blogosphere terrain. This term made most sense to rank corporate blogs for 2 reasons.

1. Popularity

“It is the # of blogs linking to a website in the last 6 months. The higher the number, the more authority the blog has”.

Not only does that give a clear indication of the popularity, it also provides context for this rank in the past 6 months. You’ll be surprised at the number of dead blogs in the list, since the last ranking.

2. It’s the number of blogs linking to you vs. total number of links

It is important to note that we measure the number of blogs that link to the corporate blog, rather than the total number of incoming links. So, if blog A links to your blog many times, it still only count as +1 toward your authority. Of course, new links mean the +1 will last another 180 days

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Filed under: Business Blogging