Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Switching from PC to Mac After Corporate Life

Computers have been a part of my life since the 3rd grade. I was truly introduced to the concept of interacting with a computer daily during my 15 years in Corporate America. PC's rule the corporate landscape of operating systems and hardware. Beyond my occasional visits to the creative department and viewing Apple Mac's as a toy computer, I believed Mac's weren't an option for "business associates".

Becoming an entrepreneur is largely about a mind state shift as you channel your respective talents. As I started my business I also decided to make a platform shift switching from PC to Mac.

Making the switch from PC to Mac can seem daunting. I viewed Apple's extensive tutorials on conversion and how to use the new Mac OS X system. I built over 15 Mac's via the Apple Store online with various specifications simply window shopping. I also had extensive conversations with many previous converts that had gone down the path I was considering. Resoundingly they urged me that it would "change my life". A boast that I thought was saying a bit much, but truly appreciate now.

The single factor that pushed me over the edge was my forced introduction to Microsoft Vista. I purchased a Sony VAIO laptop that was maxed out at 2GB with Vista pre-installed. The operating system navigated slowly and brought me to a halt. I developed work avoidance based on start-up and shut down hang up time. Overall it was a bad experience. So I packed up my Gigs on a hard drive and headed to Apple.

At almost a year later the experience exceeded expectations and has been the single most innovating technology decision I've ever made. From the packaging, design to operating system the Apple immerses you in a bright and clean counter culture of efficiency. Programs seem intuitive. Installations are a breeze and seamless. In fact it becomes clear what Window's has been trying to achieve on PC's but hasn't accomplished nearly to the quality of Apple.

Microsoft Office for Mac provides all the PC conveniences of MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and an Outlook equivalent in Entourage. PC users are able to open the document with retro-compatible file formats (unless I forget and leave it in a .docx format). I've been asked if I run Windows on Bootcamp on my Mac and my simple response is, "Why would I do that?". I continue to use the Sony VAIO for webmaster responsibilities that require Internet Explorer. But 90% of my work is made on a Mac.

As I've met more Apple users that have converted there's a shared sense of enlightenment about the product and affection for all things Apple. I joked to my cousin, a neurosurgeon and recent Mac convert that "If Apple made underwear, I'd buy them." Looking through his Christmas photos he is sharing his love through gifts as his 7 year old got the new 13" Black MacBook. Why not start them early.

Beyond the computers the iPhone, iPod Touch, Nano 4G and AppleTV provide platforms that expand Apple's domain in our households and businesses. I say welcome to the family, I'm glad I made the switch.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Barack Obama Used the Internet & Technology to Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination

The following is a reprint of my Savoy Professional Magazine Sept/Oct 2008 cover story in it's entirety.

How Barack Obama Used the Internet & Technology to Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination By Edward Cates

Senator Barack Obama has energized the nation through his strategic and charismatic Presidential campaign. The demographics of his audience are broad, diverse and inclusive of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disenfranchised Republicans and the technology forward Generations X and Y. Masterfully, Obama has sparked the passions and a conversation with America through the most strategic use of the web in Presidential campaign history.

“The idea of the internet having a role in the campaign hit full stride in 2004 with Howard Dean” adds Siddiq Bello, strategic consultant for Rogue Venture Labs a specialist in online strategy and the evolution of Web 2.0. “From a social media perspective, the Obama campaign uses the medium extremely well. Select your preferred communication tool, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, AIM, FriendFeed and he is there with appropriate messaging for that audience. It also tends to be two way messaging and that’s a real change.”

Obama’s campaign operates two primary websites MyBarackObama.com (a.k.a. MyBo a networking and campaign resource community) and BarackObama.com. BarackObama.com is consistently ranked in the top 2,000 websites on the web by Alexa.com a leading website and information company. JohnMccain.com conversely ranks in the Top 9,000. Ranking alone doesn’t denote the significance of these choreographed accomplishments.

To truly appreciate this feat you have to take a look at the tentacles of the online campaign that contribute to the overall success of the larger campaign. Obama’s online strategy has been designed to maximize today’s Web 2.0 with an extensive presence in social networking sites.

You may have heard the term Web 2.0 and wondered if it was another upgrade for a web browser or software. Wikipedia.com the open source web encyclopedia defines Web 2.0 as “the trend in the use of the World Wide Web, technology and web design that aims to increase creativity, information sharing, and most notably, collaboration among users.” YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Flickr are all examples of sites that are driven by user generated content and interaction.

“Web 2.0 activates the passion in people to spread the message. The Obama campaign has capitalized on that,” adds Bello. “Barack Obama’s campaign doesn’t need to create the music video Yes We Can, will.i.am is empowered on his own to produce the video and get his celebrity friends to participate. People have access they haven’t had in the past.”

Grammy award winning Hip-Hop artist and producer and Black Eyed Pea will.i.am independently created an Obama campaign anthem and YouTube sensation with his artistic and celebrity riddled “Yes We Can” music video that received over 9 million views. On all fronts YouTube is being disproportionately dominated by the Obama campaign with 52 million views compared to McCain videos receiving 9.8 million.
Not only are the types of sites on the web changing, so are user behaviors.

Once viewed as juvenile and for teenagers only, social networking site users are trending older and becoming a foundational part of establishing online identity and connectivity. Obama’s social networking campaign is titled on his home page as Obama Everywhere and boasts an impressive list of real estate on the web. Obama Everywhere Social Networking sites: Facebook MySpace • YouTube • Flickr Digg • Twitter Eventful • LinkedIn • BlackPlanet • FaithBase • Eons • Glee • MiGente • MyBatanga • AsianAve • DNC PartyBuilder

One of the most compelling components of the campaign has been the integration of the web to facilitate fundraising. Supporters of the campaign are asked to take part in contribution and fundraising drives to hit critical milestones. Initial contributions to the campaign submitted online are often matched by previous donors and create a membership to the MyBarackObama.com community and fostering engagement and connectivity to a broader movement.

Obama’s use of the Internet for fundraising purposes has been effective by connecting the act of giving on a grass roots and accessible level via the web. Obama’s campaign recently announced they have received donations from over 2 million donors. Federal Election Commission campaign donation data reveals that McCain has raised $158 million in contributions compared to Obama’s current total of $389 million. The dynamics of contribution flow are even more telling. Obama has raised $166 million in small donations of $200 and under compared to McCain’s $42 million in the same donation range.

The Obama campaign has fueled campaign donations by welcoming smaller contributors and making the online giving process easy.
Not only is Obama pervasively present throughout social networking sites, his supporters are moved to action pulling out credit and debit cards to make a quick donation online en masse. Through his online network Obama is able to convey messages and solicit donations with quick, effective and measurable results.

The Obama campaign capitalized on the popularity of text messaging to launch a promotion that allowed subscribers to be the first to know of his VP selection while creating a data-mining coup for the remaining campaign. Blackberry’s and cell phones around America buzzed in unison on the morning of Saturday, August 24th with a message from the Obama campaign informing them of his selection of Senator Joseph R. Biden.

“The Obama text messaging campaign makes us feel like we are in the room and everyone has access to be the first to know,” adds Navarrow Wright, President and CEO of GlobalGrind.com a site that aggregates content appealing to the urban audience. Backed by the evergreen and diversifying mogul Russell Simmons, GlobalGrind.com users are provided a voting system on multiple stories and a conduit to share content. Obama related stories rank among the highest number of related stories and posted comments aggregated on the site.

“People feel connected to the campaign. They are being communicated with and feel they have a stake in this. It’s a sign of the times and a sign of true democracy,” said Wright.

In the end, Barack Obama’s ability to secure the Presidency will be hinged upon much more than a successful online campaign. Tackling the energy crisis, education, universal healthcare, foreign policy, the mortgage crisis and a suffering economy are more substantive issues that Obama has to continue to address to win voters. If Senator Obama makes history with a win in November, the innovation and breakthrough efforts of his online presence should be credited. Over time, Senator Obama’s online strategy will prove to serve as the standard for effective Presidential campaigns.

“Take away, elements regarding his race and all of the hype around his candidacy and you find that he executed a sound online strategy to get his thoughts out to the people and address their issues,” adds Wright. “This was not a fluke, it was true Internet strategy.”

Edward Cates is the President and CEO of Nuance Marketing a strategic marketing, digital media, communications and public relations agency based in Atlanta, GA (www.nuancemktg.com).

History Unfolds: President Barack Obama

The youngest of my three son’s started my day today saying, “Good morning Daddy. Barack Obama will be our next President.”

I can’t remember a more impactful and inspiring good morning greeting. On November 4, 2008 my country elected an amazing man to be President. President Elect Barack Obama has a distinguished education, a passionate commitment to community and country, proud father and husband, moving orator and compelling policy maker.

As a father, husband and business owner I am inspired by the direction our nation is going with Obama at the helm. I can relate more than ever with “First Lady” to be Michelle Obama’s campaign statement about initial pride. Not because I have never been proud of our country or our accomplishments before. Rather, through this campaign and process, I feel like this is as much my country as anyone else.

As a black man, this accomplishment shakes the foundation of so many of my thoughts on patriotism, citizenship, service and the condition of the dialogue on race. I have gained a new sense of ownership in this country that previously existed more faintly in the periphery.

As a black father, a new path to opportunity has been blazed for my three sons. The ceiling on achievement and “what could be” has been lifted. For centuries black parents have redirected our children’s hope for the Presidency toward more realistic opportunities. “There’s always work at the Post Office. Get a good government job. Get enough education so you can teach.” All of these recommendations for a career provide a framework to ensure an equal playing field for minorities.

Last night my family assembled at a viewing party for a time. Later into the night as results rolled in we were in our home watching and feeling like we made history together. My wife and I pulled out champagne flutes from our wedding gift shelf and toasted a new day for our children, our family and our country.

It was like New Years eve, talking to family and friends about what was happening for our country. One of my “light skinned” friends, Rob (he’s really white) called and shared how deeply it impacted him. Rob and his wife have an adopted Chinese daughter, along with their own kids and mirrored the hopes we have for something more for the next generation. Rob has a wicked sense of humor and for a moment, his call felt like a congratulations and for me it felt like it deserved a proud “We did it.”

95% support of black voters turned out. I’m so proud of that statistic. White voters also did their part. Black voters equate to 10-15% of the U.S. Population (approximately), so we know that it was truly a collective effort. Obama won Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida as key battleground states. Obama will go down in history as running one of the best Presidential campaigns in history. His use of the internet and technology helped to tap into an incredible stream of donors, volunteers and supporters.

There are things I’ve heard and have said today that still send chills down my spine:

“President Obama/President Elect Obama”

“First Black President”
“First Black First Lady”

“First Black First Family”
“Black family in the White House”

“Return of Camelot to the White House”

“Obama won Virginia the former seat of the Confederacy”

“Michelle Obama First Lady of the United States of America”

“That’s my President.”

“I’m so proud of our country.”
“We did it.”

“Change is coming.”

Never before have I, and my family been so inspired, felt so included and with a connection to the greatness that is the United States of America. Our ancestors are smiling with expectations of greatness as we move our country forward to make more history together.

Today I woke up a little earlier. I've laughed and smiled a lot more. I feel an unparalleled pride in what we accomplished.

*The title of this post was changed in deference to the similarly titled, brilliant essay "In Our Lifetime" by distinguished Harvard Professor and historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why is Diddy Flying Commercial: Enyce Acquisition Strategy

Sean "Diddy" Combs

Let's agree to speak freely as an urban collective. Why are a group of us so concerned with Diddy's mode of travel? For about two months, I've had an issue simmering on my urban expressionistic mind. Namely, why is it so newsworthy when we see that Diddy was spotted flying commercial? Worse, why did it require follow up, investigative reporting to confirm that Diddy does not solely own a private plane, rather he belongs to a private plane sharing program called Net Jets.

Urban America responded in chorus, "What? Diddy ain't flyin' the G4, no mo?" throughout blogs, barber and beauty shops in a city near you. The reality is we should be very proud of Mr. Combs and examine the business sensibility of his choice to board commercial with the rest of us.

The fact is that while Diddy is a tastemaker, "bottle popper" and self proclaims that
"no one on the corner has swagger like Puff." Sean Combs is a shrewd business man with a reputation for having a super human work ethic and keen business sense.

Why is Diddy flying commercial? He made a CEO decision to reduce unnecessary costs, a move that is in line with Fortune 100 company leadership to reduce expenses. Most laudable is Diddy's decision to reduce a business expense that impacted his travel experience significantly. Many CEO's that are leading "lifestyle" businesses fail to sacrifice things that impact the way they roll. As things unfold more clearly with recent business announcements for Mr. Combs, we begin to see what he's doing with those cost savings.

On Tuesday, October 21st Combs announced the acquisition of Enyce clothing from Liz Claiborne for an undisclosed sum adding the 12 year old urban clothing company to his current portfolio of fashion based brands. He didn't purchase Enyce from Master P or his cousin pookie. Rather, Diddy purchased an urban based brand that complements the lifestyle culture of the Sean John brands. Liz Claiborne has been selling brands recently as they return to their core focus on branding.

Diddy Announces Deal & Dons New Name "Black Buffet"
(isn't that a restaurant too?)

Diddy saw an opportunity and got the deal done. Why is Diddy Flying Commercial? In vernacular, Diddy's been stacking that cake, gettin' it in to make moves.

Well done Mr. Combs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Casting A Historic Ballot: Georgia Advance Voting

I earned a badge of great honor in my recent receipt of the Georgia Voter sticker. On Wednesday, October 17th around 3:15 pm I cast my ballot for the 2008 Presidential general election for Barack Obama.

I consider myself a private person and in general try to respect the privacy of political affiliations in general discourse. At the same time I always enjoy a respectful exchange on current politics.
But to mark this historic occasion, and honor the sacrifices that have been made in order to make this day come to pass I'll speak openly about what voting this week meant to me.

I contemplated the nostalgia of voting on November 4th, election day and the hustle and bustle of making history. Instead, my wife and I decided to create our own memory. At 2:30 pm we picked up our youngest son from school. We headed over to the early voting center, completed a form (could hardly complete it in line before it was my turn to vote) and was called to vote.

Early Voting Line Where I Voted (15 mins)

Walking in I was a bit overwhelmed with the enormity of voting for an eminently qualified candidate for President that also has brown skin like me as a black man. My grandfather was the President of the Kansas NAACP and fought for equal access for blacks in Kansas City, KS and worked with Dr. Martin L.King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall (when Marshall was a civil rights attorney working on Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka). My grandmother served alongside her husband devotedly and held a national office with the NAACP. Well in to her late 60's, I remember my grandmother volunteering at the polling station. Proud to announce to voters with appropriate gravitas, "Your credentials are in order. You may vote." I wish that they could have lived to see the culmination of their work being galvanized through this election.

Yet with my proud history of grandparents, uncles, aunts, father and in-laws that were trailblazing in creating change for blacks, just 5 years ago I would have said that a black president wouldn't happen in my lifetime. I remember pulling for Jesse and having a Run Jesse Run shirt as a pre-teen/teen. I was genuinely unengaged in Al Sharpton's candidacy But since Barack Obama's speech in 2004, I've watched his meteoric rise to Democratic Presidential candidate.

I wore my black and old gold to represent my pride in my fraternity and support our organization's national initiatives supporting voting registration and activation. My wife wore her colors in the same respect. I viewed the first screen of the electronic ballot with my 6 year old son by my side and I saw Barack Obama's name there in lights. I know it's been two years but in a small way it was validating to see the ballot with his name. There were also 6 other pages of GA state seats and referendums that I was much less informed about.

It was a relief to get voting out of the way early and was a smooth and quick process. Moreover it struck me as a moment that I'll never forget. Thanks to this candidacy my three sons will view opportunities differently as black men in America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Edward Cates Cover Story: Barack Obama - Savoy Professional Magazine Sep-Oct 2008

Be sure to check out the Sept/October issue of Savoy Professional to read my first cover story in a national publication. Although I've been published previously, never as a cover story. The story is entitled, "How Barack Obama used The Internet & Technology to Win the Democratic Presidential Nomination". In addition to owning Nuance Marketing a strategic marketing and communications firm, I also freelance for a number of publications.

This is the 8th story I've had published in 2008 and I've enjoyed it. Digital media and social networking mediums are a specialty of my agency. Combining that expertise with the web savvy Obama campaign was real enlightening.

This was a great article to work on. I interviewed two real heavy tech specialists, Siddiq Bello of Rogue Venture Labs along with Navarrow Wright, CEO of
GlobalGrind.com (Hip Hop Mogul Russell Simmons is an investor). There's also a great explanation of Web 2.0 and an analysis of how Obama has mastered the use of the web to engage supporters.

Thanks to the Savoy Professional team and their publisher L.P. Green for the opportunity.

Available at most Barnes & Noble nationwide. Pick it up and let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nuance Marketing Client Project: Video Highlights Celebrity Scavenger Cup

Nuance Marketing's client AutomotiveStreetStyle.com and Jerome "JYD" Williams supported the
Rally for Kids with Cancer "Celebrity Scavenger Cup" in Toronto, ON.

This was a great event for a great cause partnering fundraising drivers with luxury vehicles with celebrity navigators engaged on a city wide scavenger hunt. Participating celebrities included; Alfonso Ribeiro, Kevin Sorbo, Pinball Clemons, Damon Allen, Jerome "JYD" Williams, Tila Tequila Winner Kristy Morgan, Jully Black, Ving Rhames and Celebrity Chair Goldie Hawn.

Nuance Marketing supported the management of the Automotive Street Style interactive trailer, video capture, audio-video, and working with the event production team Solutions With Impact. Nuance Marketing also produced and edited the following video recap of the event.

Over $1 million was raised during the event. Proceeds from the event went to the Sick Kids Hospital.

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain Debate Ploy in Urban Terms: A Punk Move

McCain is Punkin' Out

Let's put McCain's recent campaign in "urban context". Suspending his campaign and participation in the Presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi is what can be called in the vernacular; "a punk move, punkin' out". With Obama leading all major polls on all issues except for taxes. McCain admittedly said through his actions, "I'm scared".

I find the activities of the Republican party absolutely puzzling. The selection of an inadequate VP candidate in Sarah Palin that is fizzling quickly after "energizing the base". While her introduction into the campaign was heralded with fanfare she is quickly fizzling out the more she speaks to the media reminding us of a Dan Quaylesque pick.

Palin's interview with Katie Couric was comical and almost not fair to poke fun at. As my grandmother used to say, "Everything that starts out thick, ends up thinnin' out in the end." When asked about Israel she responded with her noble intention of preventing a "second holocaust"? But even better she had an intensely cerebral "good guys" and "bad guys" analogy that had to make the GOP proud.

McCain's most recent decision to return to Washington to add his proverbial 2 cents to the current solution has clouded a pressing issue of resolving our countries financial crisis.

Obama called it right when he advised against bringing Presidential politics into a critical issue that is being solved in Washington and that the debate is "More important than ever".

The McCain recommended White House summit was a sham and McCain emerged as mostly silent while Obama asked Hank Paulson critical questions whether the bail out would work and he responded frankly it wouldn't.

On the streets when you have a conflict or "beef" with someone you have two choices; address it squarely or punk out. Obama and McCain have beef. They were supposed to meet in the parking lot after school in Oxford's Presidential debate and what did McCain do? He said that he had to be somewhere and pulled a historic punk move.

Can we coin the new term "Re-punk-lican". The good part is that we know Obama will be in the parking lot tonight at the debate ready to battle. Even better is that if McCain shows he's taken a hit on looking ready and is sure to get stomped.

I'll be in watching either way as the revolution continues to be televised.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hocky Mama for Obama: Alaska Anti-Palin Rally

Although the campaign is currently suspended...I received a great email and photos from a recent Anti-Palin Rally in Alaska. The following are excerpts from the body text. I don't know the original source but great photos (Thx ATMWT).

[The] Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men.
The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin's rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.

The revolution continues to be televised.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nuance Marketing Goes to Toronto to Support the Rally for Kids With Cancer

Toronto was the most recent destination for my agency, Nuance Marketing's support of our client AutomotiveStreetStyle.com and their owner, former Toronto Raptor Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams. It was my first time in Toronto and I was overwhelmed by the kindness and friendly nature that pervaded with the residents of this fly international city.

Johnnie & Jerome "JYD" Williams in Toronto

AutomotiveStreetStyle.com was supporting Solutions With Impact, a cause based marketing company that was throwing their inaugural Rally for Kids With Cancer Scavenger Cup. It was a huge success and raised over $1 million. All proceeds went to the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

Fundraising drivers led a racing team to gather donations prior to the event draft. Drivers also brought the use of their luxury and exotic vehicle to participate. Some of the most exclusive vehicles in the world were exhibited.

Lambo in front of Cosmopolitan Hotel

Ferrari Enzo

Drivers partnered with celebrity navigators in their luxury vehicles to race through Toronto to complete challenges in a scavenger hunt format.

Goldie Hawn and Edward Cates

Ving Rhames and Edward Cates

The largest fundraiser received first draft at the kick off "Draft Party" held at Toronto's ultra chic Muzik. The AutomotiveStreetStyle.com trailer was a part of the red carpet activities. Ving Rhames went in the first round to a team that raised over $250,000. Jerome "JYD" Williams was also recruited in the first round as a celebrity navigator riding in a Audi R8.

AutomotiveStreetStyle.com Trailer at Muzik

Race day was kicked off with a brunch at the swank Harbor 60 Steakhouse. The AutomotiveStreetStyle.com Trailer was the centerpiece of the action hosting the Team Serengeti as they distributed swag shades to participants.

Serengeti Sunglasses hands out swag at Harbor 60.

Mid-day we moved the AutomotiveStreetStyle.com trailer to the Hershey Center where Lexus was conducting an obstacle course for the Scavenger cup participants.

Shelby Cobra

Celebs: Goldie Hawn, Alfonso Ribeiro, Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Morgan, Damon Allen

Following the day's activities, the weekend was concluded with a first class gala at the home of Williams Telecommunications magnate Jim Williams. Jim participated as a fundraising driver and his entire family extended enormous hospitality to the crowd of over 500 people. Canadian Idol host Ben Mulroney served as MC and R&B artist Jully Black and band performed and commanded the room.

Closing Gala where Jully Black Performed

Overall, I walked away from Toronto feeling like I visited a country that has gotten race relations and diversity right. I've heard Toronto characterized as a "clean New York" but that fails to recognize what is special about this great city. There is a metropolitan and distinctly urban feel to the city and a sense of European style and fashion. Also there was an effortless blending of global cultures.

Repeatedly I heard from the proud residents that "Toronto is the most international city in the world." While I don't know if that is exact. I'll say that it is indeed a splendid city that I hold in high regard and look forward to returning.

Edward Cates, Alfonso Ribeiro and Jerome "JYD" Williams

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin for VP? Is McCain Even Trying?

Governor Sarah Palin has been officially tapped for the position of VP runningmate for Senator John McCain. The 44 year old Governor of Alaska will be the focus of the GOP convention next week.

Are you kidding me? Is McCain even trying to get in the game. At the time of this post McCain's website didn't have any updates at all. A Palin supporter blog has captured the groundswell of her grassroots following. She has had an extensive VP YouTube campaign and for most of the GOP supporters seems to revitalizing what is sure to be a failed attempt to fan a smoldering flame.

Palin has had a strong grassroots following advocating for her VP candidacy. Further, Palin is under investigation in her home state by exercising her "Governor's Perogative". Check out the video below.

Either way. Game on! Go get 'em Barack and Joe.

I can hear Barack saying to Joe, "Go take care of my light weight."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lil Wayne Uses The Secret?

Lil Wayne hasn't said it but he has exhibited that he is a master of "The Secret". The multi-platinum artist reached
double platinum status in 9 weeks. How does he do it? The law of attraction I suspect.

The Secret began as a movie and grew into a global phenomenon by sharing what is positioned as an ancient knowledge of the "Law of Attraction". In essence the Law of Attraction defined in the Secret shares that your thoughts drive and create reality. In essence if you visualize, think and speak about something it comes into being.

How does this fit with Weezy F. Baby? I remember when Jay-Z announced his retirement and Lil Wayne came out with The Carter II. Cash Money was going through it's own challenges. On one of Wayne's tracks he said, "I'm the greatest rapper alive since the greatest rapper retired." and I remember thinking that it was a bit of a stretch. Nope simply him exercising "The Secret" at work.

Granted Lil Wayne started a grind that has been unparalleled in recent years. He was lacing cameo's on everyone's tracks and amassing mixtape tracks by the pound. Over time his respect was raised significantly and the whole Greatest Rapper Alive moniker seemed a bit more appropriate.

Still don't buy it. What about his breakout hit "A Milli". He releases C3 and sells "a milli" copies in the first week. The Secret at work again? Perhaps.

Lastly on the track "3 Peat" from The Carter III, Wayne boasts about how he used the "Law of Attraction" to hook up his mother as a result:

Yeah when I was fourteen I told my mom we will see better days
And sure enough I got Miss Cita in a better place
When I was fourteen I told my mom we will see better days
And sure enough we did exactly what I say

Years ago, I would have never thought Lil Wayne would be in my list of one of the Greatest Rappers Alive but he's grown on me.

I don't endorse The Secret in any way but I am trying to figure out Lil Wayne's meteoric rise to stardom.

What are your thoughts. Leave a comment and subscribe.

Submitted by Edward Cates, info@nuancemktg.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

RSS Changed My Life: Urban America Don't Sleep! Get a Reader

RSS Feeds and Readers have been around a long while and I know it. I consider myself technology forward. But today, I sadly and triumphantly admit I finally came to understand what the orange box is for. I've been sleepin' on RSS Feeds and Readers. My game is officially slipping (newsflash).

What is a RSS Feed and RSS Reader? Two words: Neat-O. RSS is a way to bring web content from the sites you love to visit in one place with real time updates. Instead of visiting 4-5 sites to read the latest stories to browse the web. You simply open your reader and read the well organized content in one place.

I had a cursory understanding and was tired of scouring the net and seeing the cryptic RSS with the signature orange box and needed a better grasp. I had a feeling it would make my life easier so I wanted to invest time in mastering this new resource.

I have found myself using YouTube lately more for Computer Based Training than for entertainment. I went to my local training resource YouTube and found this great clip "Video: RSS in Plain English".

In 3:44 seconds the light bulb went off and thanks to the description (and an artistic low-tech presentation) plain terms I understood the concept. I already had a Google Reader account setup but hadn't subscribed. Setting up a reader account is easy and there are number of readers available. I prefer Google Reader (http://www.google.com/reader) for it's ease of use and pervasive integration.

RSS Feeds and Readers will change the way you browse the web. It's cooler than the other side of the pillow and as life changing as sugar added Kool-Aid mix.

Check out the video on RSS Feeds, sign up for a reader and then subscribe to this blog as one of your first RSS subscriptions.

by Edward Cates

Did this help you understand RSS Feeds? Got any other RSS tips? Leave a comment and subscribe.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ryan Leslie the Return of Genius and True Swagger

Ryan Leslie - Producer, Singer, Artist, Rapper and CEO

Ryan Leslie is ushering in the return of the virtuoso for the recording industry. Producer, writer, singer, rapper and documented genius (having scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT and graduating Harvard at 19) Leslie's momentum is building quickly.

He successfully blends live instrumentation and sound capture into contemporary hot tracks blended with cool and
CEO of Lifestyle and record label Next Selection, Inc., Ryan Leslie has created a star following on YouTube with one of the top subscribed channels for viewers by documenting his unique creative process for production. He's produced hits for Cassie, Britney Spears and Beyonce but now is emerging with his own album schedule for release in August of '08.

Uniquely, Leslie has taken the rumored jolt from his former love interest Cassie and her alleged relationship with Sean "Diddy" Combs and channeled it into his music. "Diamond Girl" his latest single climbing the charts was an ode to Cassie that has taken a life of it's own as he's moved on. On his track I-R-I-N-A he turns an icebreaker melody that he freestyled to his non-english speaking Russian Model co-star of Diamond Girl and flipped it into a first class ballad that is radio worthy.

Most impressive about Leslie is the unabashed and proud return of true genius. A child prodigy that aced his SATs and entered Harvard at 15, graduated at 19, for me he's a refreshing contrast from Kanye West's approach of boasting "College Dropout". While the comparison ahead for Leslie and West is yet to peak, refreshingly on the music scene there is enough room for both in the spectrum of hybrid producer/artists that are joining the ranks of albums and latest signed artists.

Kanye West and Ryan Leslie in the Lab
College Dropout & College Graduate Collaborate on a Cassie Track

MTV's Buzzworthy recently featured a segment on Ryan Leslie where he provides background on his production of "Diamond Girl".

Leslie comes equipped with the aesthetics of today's recording artists, swag, style, spitting fire lyrics on dope beats. But beneath the trappings of what has defined successful artist is unadulterated genius, drive, inspiration and great music.

For more information on Ryan Leslie visit
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference 2008 - Superior Content and Growth in 13 Years

BE Conference Workshop on Technology in Business Siddiq Bello (left)

I recently attended the Black Enterprise (BE)magazine entrepreneurs conference in Charlotte, NC. In a way it was a homecoming for me and in another it was a brand new experience.

Marquis at the Charlotte Convention Center

Uniquely, I started my career in Charlotte right after college with the fledgling regional bank NationsBank that has now grown through serial acquisitions to what is now known as Bank of America.
My first big promotion was to Vice President and being named the National Director of Strategic Initiatives for an affinity banking unit called the Professional African American Banking Group (PAABG).

I managed over a million sponsorship budget developing relationships with organizations and events that would yield high wealth African American private and commercial banking clients. The BE Entrepreneur's Conference was a title sponsorship I managed and I also negotiated the last three year deal as they departed from Orlando to Nashville as the host city for the conference. Needless to say as a title sponsor I enjoyed first class VIP treatment from the BE staff and team in my former role.

Charlotte, NC Skyline

I was a corporate exec for 13 years before becoming an entrepreneur.
I've attended at least 5 of the last 13 conferences and this year meant more to me than ever before because I attended as a Black Entrepreneur. I was raised with BE on my coffee table, learning about business and the African American leaders that looked like me and my family and was inspired. To finally attend as an entrepreneur in the town where I began my career meant a great deal.

An Entrepreneurial Dinner from Fuel Pizza in Charlotte

Beyond my professional ties to the event the conference in Charlotte was well done. As a host City Charlotte fits very well for the format the event has evolved into. BE always boasts superior workshop and keynote speaker content.

Keynote sit down with Chris Gardner from "Pursuit of Happyness"

A highlight for me among the keynote was the sit down discussion with Christopher Gardner, subject of the feature film "The Pursuit of Happyness" starring Will Smith (for more info go to www.chrisgardenermedia.com.

Cool Chris Gardener with no socks on.

He shared parts of his story and journey with a familiar cool that endeared you to his genius. I have several good friends that have taken the NASD Series 7 and it is the securities equivalent of the bar and should be revered as such. Great dialogue while learning he wanted to be Miles Davis when he was younger and was wisely informed that only Miles could be Miles.

Another highlight of the conference was the taping of an episode of BE's television show "Our World with Black Enterprise". The taping was prefaced by BE's publisher and patriarch Earl Graves, Sr. and a brief reference to the Eddie Griffin debacle at the Golf & Tennis challenge that fostered the topic of the panel discussion "Enough is Enough".

Our World with Black Enterprise Taping: Studio Audience

Panelists included CNN Correspondent Roland Martin (fellow Alpha man), Al Sharpton leader of the National Action Network (and survivor of Lil Wayne's scrutiny on C3), Kim Rosario Executive Director of BET.com, Nancy Giles Social Commentator for CBS Morning news and MSNBC.com and Chuck D Raptivist and leader of pioneering group Public Enemy.

Panelists Al Sharpton, Kim Rosario, Earl Graves, Roland Martin, Ed Gordon and Nancy Giles

In his distinct revolutionary manner, Chuck D opened his remarks by saying he was sorry "Uncle Bob Johnson wouldn't be attending." His comment was received with a pervasive ooh as Chuck clarified that it was open for interpretation. Over the course of the taping the panelists debated who is accountable and focus turned turned on Kim Rosario from BET.com.
Moderator and host Ed Gordon took Kim Rosario to task on BET's impact on impressionable young African Americans.

Al Sharpton making a point as Kim Rosario from BET.com looks on.

The exchange between the two peaked when Kim became defensive clarifying her responsibility was to the online space at BET.com and someone else should be there to defend the overall programming. The colorful exchange was instigated a bit by the live audience's responses but Ed Gordon did his best to diffuse audience reaction to get back to the issues at hand.
I grew weary of the references to today's youth with their pants hanging down as we were all in suits at a privileged event at BE and felt like I was in a Bill Cosby clinic condemning the generation collectively.

CNN Correspondent and Media Contributor Roland Martin laying it down.

After all I own a business that specializes in connecting companies with the urban consumer. I was compelled to get in line for Q&A and submitted the last question to Chuck D asking how we close the Chasm between the generations so we can get the pant sagging youth that have entrepreneurial ambitions to the conference. I made the final edits for broadcast so look for the replay on TVOne.

Chuck D, Raptivist and leader of Public Enemy with Edward Cates, CEO of Nuance Marketing

Putting the history of the event into context to this year's conference it's clear that BE is looking to appeal to the younger generation of entrepreneurs in it's programming content. Conversely there is a sense that Black Entrepreneurs must look and dress a certain way. In my opinion, I'd rather have the pants saggin' backpack entrepreneur poorly dressed for the BE conference to grow and get content then not at all.
In today's business world there are plenty of "urban" young entrepreneurs that could make the BE 100 listing and are wearing baggy jeans, sneakers and a 59/50 hat everyday as they lead their company.

Coming back to BE was refreshing, educational and sentimental. I left the conference ready to grow my business in ways I never imagined and built some strong networking connections that will be long lasting.
For more information on Black Enterprise please visit www.blackenterprise.com.

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