On Tuesday, September 24, 2019 I gave the first public presentation of my Dr. Seuss style poem “The Ball and The Wall: A Tale of Tolerance,” to my Tolerance and Diversity class at the American University in the Emirates (AUE).

The poem shares the story of a grandfather who, while fishing with his grandson, uses an unexpected encounter to tackle a teachable moment concerning compassion for others in addition to accepting people with different perspectives.

In invite you to watch a slightly edited version below (via YouTube) of the original Facebook Live video I broadcast while performing the poem; you can watch the original recording here.

I was first inspired to write this poem during the last meeting of my History 4C class at UC Santa Barbara in March 1996. At the conclusion of the class, the professor, Harold Marcuse, PhD, invited his teaching assistants to share any closing remarks. My teaching assistant, Kimber M. Quinney, PhD, asked us all to imagine that a large ball was floating over the lecture hall in the Isla Vista Theater (where the lectures for our class took place).

Encouraging us to accept that people have different perspectives, she explained how one side saw that the ball was red and the other side of the class saw that the ball was blue. Moving forward she asked us to accept that a perception that was not the same as our wasn’t necessarily better or worse, but that it was just different, and that was perfectly acceptable.

That last lesson stuck with me and marinated in my mind until 2003 when I wrote the first draft of what would become “The Ball and The Wall.” It has undergone edits and updates since, and will likely continue to be refined, but overall the intent and the idea are intact. It is my plan to publish this as an illustrated children’s book — for adults.

I hope you enjoy this spoken word performance and welcome any ideas it might inspire!

On Monday, March 12, 2018 I presented “Using Technology in Teaching” to my fellow College of Business Administration (COBA) faculty members at the American University in the Emirates (AUE) as part of our “COBA Scientific Session” Series.

I presented three types of cloud-based tools useful for teaching in three categories: admin, document, and media with live demonstrations of selected tools, as follows:

Admin Tools

Document Tools

Media Tools

View the Google Slides presentation I prepared and presented for this workshop at http://bit.ly/UsingTechnologyInTeachingSlides. You can also watch the video on my Facebook page or watch it on YouTube. Or you can watch the video below:

What are your doctoral hopes and dreams?

As part of the University of Leicester‘s online “Discovering Your PhD Potential” course I was asked to describe my doctoral hopes and dreams in a community of practice using a unique tool called Padlet, a free application to create an online bulletin board you can use to display and share information for any topic.

I was instructed to share a photo summing up my feelings, a short video or audio clip describing my thoughts, a short paragraph of text or even just one word. I decided to record a video, shared below, in which I share three adjectives describing my current mood and elaborate on the impact and importance of each: academic, energetic, and pragmatic.

logo-gessIt is my pleasure to announce my workshop, “Professor, Brand Yourself!” was accepted for presentation on March 16 from 2:30 to 3:00 pm (exactly four months from today) at the Global Education Forum of the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) in Dubai.

What is GESS Dubai? According to the organization’s website: “GESS Dubai is the largest education event not just in the UAE but across the entire Middle East. It’s the only event that brings together all levels of educationalists together, in one place.”

“Professor, Brand Yourself!” is a personal branding workshop for individuals working in higher education, vocational, and leadership/management positions. However, it will also appeal to anyone wanting to develop their personal brand and learn how to leverage social media to promote themselves professionally.

logo-gefIt is designed to help you understand what personal branding is, what it is not, and why personal branding is an important career development skill. You don’t need prior personal branding experience to participate in the workshop.

We will identify which social platforms are best for branding you by introducing ideas for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube along with your blog and website.

During a “Personal Branding Brainstorming” activity you will learn how to prepare a unique selling proposition, personal motto, and professional bio which you can use as the foundation for your future personal branding efforts.

An outline of the workshop includes the following points:

  1. What is (and what is not) personal branding?
  2. Why is personal branding important for me?
  3. What social platforms are best for branding?
  4. Who am I and how should my brand reflect it?
  5. Activity: Personal Branding Brainstorming.

After the workshop you should know how to:

  1. Define personal branding and its relevance.
  2. Identify the most effective social platforms.
  3. Develop and promote your personal brand.

This will actually be my second appearance a GESS; in 2015 I gave my presentation, “Pedagogy, Socially: 7 Strategies for Curating and Creating Curriculum with Social Media” to give guidance to educators looking to leverage social media to make curriculum. Here’s a video of the presentation:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Indicate your interest in attending this event on my Facebook page now!

Dammit Jim, I’m an instructor, not an extra!

stb-dubai-fog

Last month I blogged about my experience as an extra on Star Trek Beyond here in Dubai. At the time I did not think I had made the cut into the movie. However, the other day at a Dmitry Masleev piano concert I ran into Koenraad Gys, a friend who was also an extra; he said saw me while watching a DVD of the movie.

I planned to get and watch the DVD, but tonight, just as I logged into YouTube for my MGT 100, Principles of Management class at American University in the Emirates (AUE), I saw a suggested clip titled “Star Trek Beyond: Starbase Yorktown Introduction Sequence.”

I watched it and, sure enough, at 1:31 to 1:32, spotted myself in my dark blue costume on the left hand side of the frame! You can somewhat see my extra two arms near my thighs, but you can very clearly see my face.

I took three screen shots from the YouTube clip and enhanced them as best as I could, circling myself in red. You can see my friend Alissar Nasrallah  to my right wearing a yellow jacket and my other friend Shah Qhan in the middle of the shot facing the other way with his hand on another extra’s back; I met both on the set.

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star-trek-beyond-yorktown-matthew-a-gilbert-2

star-trek-beyond-yorktown-matthew-a-gilbert-3

Live long and… extra!

Social media has revolutionized the way we live, but how can we leverage it for learning?

GESS_2015_1I had an opportunity to explore this during a presentation I delivered on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at the 2105 GESS Global Education Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Sharing seven strategies for curating and creating curriculum I promoted best practices and case studies you can use to prepare your pedagogy, socially.

There is both uncertainty and opportunity with regard to using social media to power your pedagogy. Consider that, in 2013, 59.2% of nearly 8,000 higher education participants in a Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson survey agreed “the interactive nature of online and mobile technologies can create better learning environments.”

Additionally, 41% currently use social media in their classrooms. However, 56% of that same population are concerned that online and mobile technologies are “more distracting than helpful to students.”

As an educator you have an array of options from which to choose: blogs, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and more. Each of these interactive options can enhance engagement and increase interaction in your classes. But having a tool and knowing how to use it are different experiences altogether.

The content of my presentation includes:

  • Why use social media to curate and create curriculum?
  • How do the seven social media strategies work?
  • Strategy 1: Collect, Curate, and Share Knowledge.
  • Strategy 2: Engage with Virtual Communities of Practice.
  • Strategy 3: Identify, Archive, and Share Information.
  • Strategy 4: Follow Blogs, Microblogs, and Aggregators.
  • Strategy 5: Listen to, Create, and Share Audio.
  • Strategy 6: View, Create, and Share Photos.
  • Strategy 7: Watch, Create, and Share Videos.
  • What are social media best practices?
  • Presentation summary

You can watch a video of my presentation via YouTube or embedded below:

I also invite you to view the presentation that goes with this video below or via SlideShare:

“Won’t you please, won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Today’s Music Monday was inspired by a viral video currently making the rounds — from PBS of all places: “Mister Rogers Remixed: Garden of Your Mind” by Symphony of Science’s John Boswell.

The video is a tribute to the iconic show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood — which was created and hosted by its namesake Fred Rogers. Mister Rogers was always intriguing in his own unique way, but he was never this cool!

The video, which was originally uploaded on Thursday, June 7 to the YouTube account “PBSDigitalStudios,” had already received more than 1.4 million views by the end of Friday, June 8 (and had reached more than 3.4 million by the morning of Monday, June 11) — that’s viral! Someone has even already registered the domainGardenOfYourMind.com!”

How did this video come to be? Here is a bit of background on it (from the video’s page on the PBSDigitalStudios YouTube Channel):

“When we discovered video mash-up artist John D. Boswell, aka melodysheep, on YouTube, we immediately wanted to work together. Turns out that he is a huge Mister Rogers Neighborhood fan, and was thrilled at the chance to pay tribute to one of our heroes. Both PBS and the Fred Rogers Company hope you like John’s celebration of Fred Rogers’ message. This is the first in a series of PBS icons remixed.”

Mister Roger’s NeighborhoodFor those who remember watching Mister Rogers as children, this video has special significance. The show initially aired in 1968 and rand for 895 episodes, with the final episodes having been filmed in December 2000 and airing the following August. It reached its peak viewership in 1985, when 8% of households in the United States were watching the show.

For those less familiar with the show — and even for those who are, but who might appreciate a walk down memory lane — here are some fun facts about the show and Fred Rogers (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • Each episode began with Mister Rogers coming home, singing his theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“and changing into sneakers and a zippered cardigan sweater.
  • In a typical episode, Mister Rogers might have a conversation with his television audience, interact with live guests, take a field trip to such places as a bakery or a music store, or watch a short film. Typically, each week’s episode explored a major theme, such as going to school for the first time. He even break-danced!
  • Each episode included a trip to Rogers’ “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” featuring the ever-famous trolley with its own theme song, a castle, and the kingdom’s citizens, including King Friday XIII.
  • Mister Rogers often fed his fish — originally named Fennel and Frieda — during episodes.
  • Originally, most episodes ended with a song entitled “Tomorrow”, and Friday episodes looked forward to the week ahead with an adapted version of “It’s Such a Good Feeling.” In later seasons, all episodes ended with “Feeling.” Speaking of the song “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” consider this unique cover of the classic Mister Rogers’ song.

“Would you be mine, Could you be mine…”

A classic proverb states that two heads are better than one, so in that same spirit, two songs must be better than one. Accordingly, today’s Music Monday presents a double header.

David ByrneToday’s first selection is “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads. This was chosen to celebrate the 60th birthday of David Byrne (who co-wrote it with Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth).

Originally released on February 2, 1981 as the first single from the Talking Heads’ fourth studio album Remain in Light (Affiliate Link), the song has since received critical acclaim. Notably, it was named as one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by National Public Radio (NPR).

The song is existential in meaning, especially with the main refrain asking “And you may ask yourself / How do I work this? / And you may ask yourself / Where is that large automobile? / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful house! / And you may tell yourself / This is not my beautiful wife!”

I believe this song tells the story of a man finding himself a foreigner in his own life; having having accumulated a certain degree of wealth and comfort, yet feeling fundamentally unfulfilled.

At the same time, it is also a recognition of that discovery and the possibility of progressing towards a positive change it represents.

For quite some time I related to the first part of this song — I felt like that man. But then, after some self discovery, I took responsibility for my choices and changed the direction of my life. As a result, I am now heading positively “into the blue again/after the moneys gone.”

In an unrelated yet equally interesting TEDTalk, Byrne discusses the influence of architecture on musical composition. He offers compelling examples of various types of music throughout history such as African music, classical music, opera, jazz, rock, hip-hop, and nature itself.

Today’s second selection, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” by The Beatles, celebrates the 28th birthday of Facebook Chairman and Mark ZuckerbergCEO Mark Zuckerberg. The song was featured at the end of  the Facebook-inspired movie The Social Network (Affiliate Link).

Long before Facebook was programmed the song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded on May 11, 1967 (45 years and 3 days ago). It was originally released as the B-side of the single “All You Need Is Love” and was also included later that same year on the US album Magical Mystery Tour (Affiliate Link).

Beyond the convergence of Zuckerberg’s birthday to today’s date, Facebook is representative of my aforementioned change of course and journey into the blue again (see Once in a Lifetime).

Personally, my life has been both challenged and enriched by Facebook (and social media in general). Professionally, now almost all of the courses I teach include elements of social media directly or indirectly.

One course — MGMNT X 460.394, New Media Marketing at UCLA Extension — provides an overview of leading social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.  If you’re interested, an online offering of this course begins on July 5, 2012 — you can enroll online here!

Fittingly, and in thematic accordance with this song, later this week, once Facebook’s IPO takes place, Zuckerberg will need an even bigger brown bag in which to keep all of his money. Netting at least $21 billion in stock might just be the best birthday present ever!

Although Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, whose struggle with Zuckerberg was portrayed in The Social Network (Affiliate Link) and who has renounced his US citizenship, might just get the last financial laugh as his renunciation of his citizenship will likely save him tens of millions of dollars in capital gains taxesor will it?

Baby, those are rich men!

Sometimes you are just too “F***ing Great” for your own good.

Early last week an irreverent and entertaining YouTube video for Dollar Shave Club (affiliate link), a Santa Monica, California start-up that ships razors directly to customers who subscribe to the company’s monthly delivery service, virally spread across the Internet faster than blood streaks down your chin when you cut yourself shaving.

The promise made by Dollar Shave Club Co-Founder & CEO Michael Dubin in the video (below): their blades are not good, they are  “F***ing Great!”

Social medianew media, and mainstream media were all abuzz with articles about the video and the company’s charismatic CEO. It went viral and the company went from unknown to unstoppable almost overnight.

The video — which cost $4,500 to produce — was uploaded on Monday, March 5, 2012 and, just 11 days later by Friday, March 16 (as of the time when this blog post was published) had 3,456,727 views  — an average of 314,247 per day!

Did views equate to conversion? Yes. According to a Huffington Post article posted on March 8, Dollar Shave Club had already generated 5,000 sign-ups. Imagine how many more signed up in the eight days since then; the video was so popular it caused Dollar Shave Club’s website to crash!

The company’s subscription based razor blade service offers three options:

  • The Humble Twin: Two blades and five cartridge refills — for a monthly cost of $1, plus $2 shipping.
  • 4X: A four-blade razor with four cartridges refills — which costs $6 per month with shipping included.
  • The Executive:Six-blades and three cartridge refills — for a monthly cost of $9 with shipping included.

They also offer affiliate arrangement and provides a unique URL (e.g., https://www.dollarshaveclub.com/ref/l14/13za2y7) with which members can refer others. The deal is simple: for every new account your link refers, you get one month of free service.

Founded in April 2011 by Dubin and his partner Mark Levine, Dollar Shave Club officially launched with the upload of the YouTube video. Despite it’s kitschy video, Dollar Shave Club is well funded, having announced almost $1 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Forerunner Ventures. Other funding sources include Andreessen Horowitz, Shasta Ventures and Felicis Ventures. It also received $100,000 in angel funding from Science, Inc. (which was founded by former Myspace CEO Mike Jones).

How does the business offer such competitive prices? Two words (rather, two countries): China and Korea. The razors the company sells are private-labeled products shipped directly to each subscriber from manufacturers in both countries — “cutting” out the middleman. But therein might lie the problem.

On Friday, March 16 at 3:38 p.m (Pacific) the company sent a letter to new subscribers who opted for the 4x razor with the following message:

In the e-mail Dubin earnestly explains the situation as follows:

Last week the Internet came to visit, and as a result, we’re unable to fulfill your 4X order right now. 

Yes, we think this sucks too. But we’re giving you options.

Here they are:

  • If you’d like to hold your place in line, do nothing, and you will receive your first shipment on May 15th.
  • If you’d like your $6 refund, no problem. Please Click this link. Log in, and click the refund button. We’ll handle the rest.

Please accept our sincere apologies for not being able to meet initial demand. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Humbly,

Michael Dubin
Co-Founder & CEO
Dollar Shave Club

It is unclear if the delayed delivery affects all three razor options or if it is limited to the 4X razor. The supply delay could be more easily remedied if it is the latter and not the former — perhaps people could just switch their subscription? But, then again, the e-mail does not provide that option — so it is as yet unknown how significant this problem might actually be.

Update as of March 18, 2012: A colleague informed me he subscribed to the “Humble Twin” and also received an e-mail informing him of a delivery delay, but in his case it was only for one month, not two. He elected to wait and see.

Regardless, a two month delay — even a one month delay — is not a good way to begin a business relationship with new customers. Delaying consumer gratification is one of the worst sins a retailer (or in this case a wholesaler) can commit — once you lose that leverage most customers lose interest and go elsewhere.

As Tim Daloisio (whose screen shot of the e-mail he received is posted above) offered in a tweet: “Easier to win a customer the first time than to win them back — better luck next time @dollarshaveclub #fail.

Perhaps this was all too good to be true? Sales data was not made available so it is hard to know how many people were affected.

But, if you assume that, since they signed up 5,000 people in the first three days (1,667 new accounts per day), in eleven days there could be as many as 18,337 new subscribers.

If you further assume customers subscribed to each of the three options in equal numbers (also not likely, but for the sake of easy arithmetic, let’s keep things simple), there might be 6,112 sadly stubbled 4X subscribers. For shave! I mean, for shame!

At $6 per subscription there could be at total of $36,672 in revenue that was generated but for which no products were delivered. Not a king’s ransom by any means, but certainly not an insignificant amount.

But, more importantly, the company’s inability to meet the demand beg’s the question: had they already ordered inventory or were they waiting to see what the demand actually was?

Perhaps this was the case. From a business standpoint, why sink thousands of dollars into products if you are unsure they will be sold? And, in fairness, projecting and meeting demand is one of the more challenging tasks with which a business must contend.

But the fact remains that, despite their impressive funding and savvy marketing, the delay calls into question Dollar Shave Club’s operational abilities.

To their credit, they have provided an option to cancel and get a refund or to stay put and wait until the razors can ship on May 15th.

However, it could have been an added measure of good faith had Dollar Shave Club offered one month of free service for each month of delay.

Additionally, the company fairly clearly outlines their terms of cancellation in their Terms of Service (which we can also assume nobody has read).

However, as noted in an article titled How to Quickly Read a Terms of Service [Law], “Dollar Shave Club does a good job of explaining how to stop the membership, but requires a vague “reasonable amount of time” to cancel. You might be on the hook for another month.” Food for thought.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Dollar Shave Club needs to make sure it does not violate the “30-Day Rule” established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The relevant portion of this law is explained below:

The Rule requires that when you advertise merchandise, you must have a reasonable basis for stating or implying that you can ship within a certain time. If you make no shipment statement, you must have a reasonable basis for believing that you can ship within 30 days. That is why direct marketers sometimes call this the “30-day Rule.”

If, after taking the customer’s order, you learn that you cannot ship within the time you stated or within 30 days, you must seek the customer’s consent to the delayed shipment. If you cannot obtain the customer’s consent to the delay — either because it is not a situation in which you are permitted to treat the customer’s silence as consent and the customer has not expressly consented to the delay, or because the customer has expressly refused to consent — you must, without being asked, promptly refund all the money the customer paid you for the unshipped merchandise.

So, despite having initially been lathered with success, let’s hope that Dollar Shave Club doesn’t cut it too close and improves its operations. Maybe they can even shave a few weeks of that two month delay?

Update: I finally received my order of 4X blades on Saturday, May 26, 2012!