Modern Procrastination (Or Mucking Around On Facebook)

I love Seth Godin’s blog – short, easy to read and always on the ball! Check this one:

Modern procrastination

The lizard brain adores a deadline that slips, an item that doesn’t ship and most of all, busywork. These represent safety, because if you don’t challenge the status quo, you can’t be made fun of, can’t fail, can’t be laughed at. And so the resistance looks for ways to appear busy while not actually doing anything. I’d like to posit that for idea workers, misusing Twitter, Facebook and various forms of digital networking are the ultimate expression of procrastination. You can be busy, very busy, forever. The more you do, the longer the queue gets. The bigger your circle, the more connections are available.

Laziness in a white collar job has nothing to do with avoiding hard physical labor. “Who wants to help me move this box!” Instead, it has to do with avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor.

“Honey, how was your day?”

“Oh, I was busy, incredibly busy.”

“I get that you were busy. But did you do anything important?”

Busy does not equal important. Measured doesn’t mean mattered. When the resistance pushes you to do the quick reaction, the instant message, the ‘ping-are-you-still-there’, perhaps it pays to push in precisely the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s time for the blank sheet of paper, the cancellation of a long-time money loser, the difficult conversation, the creative breakthrough…

Or you could check your email.”

Brilliant as usual!

Or perhaps more succinctly – something I saw on Facebook this morning:
Put ♥ this ♥ on ♥ your ♥ status ♥ if ♥ you ♥ are ♥ mucking ♥ around ♥ on ♥ facebook ♥ instead ♥ of ♥ getting ♥ shit ♥ done

Lol! As they say!


Live The Charmed Life

I first came across DeeAnne White on Twitter @LiveCharmed. What! An American Tweeting about cricket? Enough to make anyone sit up and take notice! I subscribe to her blog Live The Charmed Life too which, like her input on Twitter is a touch of class. There are few blogs to which I subscribe but this one is always fun! I couldn’t find a really good picture of DeeAnne so there’s Watergate Bay in Cornwall which she features on one of her recent blog posts! This is what she says about herself:

“My name is DeeAnne White, and I’m a girl adventurer, traveller, aspiring expatriate, and lover of cricket, golf, wine, Jimmy Choos and life. I began Live the Charmed Life to share the ways I’ve built a life I love, because somehow I’ve become the person others come to with those sorts of questions. I’m the girl many call if they want to plan a trip to London, get the name of a fantastic restaurant in NYC or Las Vegas, pick the perfect bottle of wine, find out the score of the Laker game, throw a memorable backyard party, or get a perspective from behind rose colored glasses.

In all honesty, I’m an ordinary girl who thoroughly enjoys the brilliance I find in others, who is ridiculously curious, and who’s never once thought anything was impossible. I’ve had many, MANY, bumps in the road, but my strength has been in finding the fun regardless of circumstance, taking leaps of faith even when I was terrified, and rebuilding after the inevitable storms roll past.

I’ll be writing about my current adventure in which I travel the world in high heels, redesign my career, follow the sport of cricket and possibly break 90 on the golf course. Heck, I may even write about the misadventure called my love life.

I hope you’re entertained. I hope you’re engaged. Most importantly, I hope you’re inspired to begin your own adventure!”

Ordinary girl? Mmmm – I think not!


I came across @zazo on Twitter and am pleased to be able to point you to his blog, there’s his picture up there! He was kind enough to mention me on the blog the other day!

Started on 23rd March 2008 writes about exceptionally ultimate user created online communities and groups formed inside various social networking websites, reviews budding blogs, message boards and open social applications.

They also interview some interesting and passionate personalities who have been credited of making extra ordinary, useful and friendly online communities and blogs, which have changed the perspective of millions of online users, and helped them with useful and informative content, vast and detailed subjects and loads of entertainment. The aim of this blog is to promote affirmative and constructive use of social networking and internet.

Zaheer Abbas known as zazo is an online media entrepreneur a social networker and a writer who also writes on social networking and internet trends is based in beautiful city of Udaipur India. 27 year old zazo is an internet freak, a famished reader and a news junkie. Father of a son, zazo keeps his family above his work. Cooking and eating rich food is his passion. Besides exploring online groups and people zazo also do SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and blog consultancy.

Many articles and interviews published on orkutheroes enjoyed media attention and covered by India’s respected print and online news, magazines and many blogs. is also recognized as a “pulse of” by Orkut’s official blog.


Holey Vision

I make no bones about reproducing this blog from Tanvir Naomi Bush – Holey Vision – (daughter of a very old friend of mine in Lusaka who healed me in many ways). Holey Vision is currently struggling with a degenerative eye disease as a student in UK. I love the way she writes and admire her humor and enormous courage. This is her latest post:

Last Sunday my journey cost me my entire week’s income support.
All of it.
There is nothing quite like knowing on the Sunday that the rest of the week is all oozing out of the overdraft. The problem was that there were no trains to Kings Cross and we had to reroute and take taxis across London. By the time Grace and I were squeezed onto the Paddington to Bath train we were dishevelled, disgruntled and the stress had caused my eyes to blur. Grace disappeared under the seat in disgust to hoover up old chewing gum and I squinted at my homework through my magnifier.

The train was full to bursting and within a few minutes there was a queue for the seat next to us. I huffed (very quietly in my best British manner) and took my rucksack off the seat to let in a large man with long shaggy grey hair and wire-rimmed specs. He didn’t mind dogs he said and somehow managed to manoeuvre his legs into the spaces left by Grace. His young son had to sit on his lap. There was just no other room.
They were on their way home from a match. I listened for a while as they spoke ‘football’.
‘What was Lampard thinking?’
‘Rooney got one in…..did you see?’
As happens eventually the man and his son asked about the dog and then – because the magnifier was giving me a cracking headache and I was needing to feel empowered again, to feel worth something, I began to whiter on about how I hadn’t always been this way…blind and alone..…oh no.! Once, darling… I had been in the movies, talking pictures..ahh yes..back in the day…..(sighs, turns diva like to camera, lights cheroot, sips dry martini. )
‘I wonder if he is impressed,’ I thought knowing full well that he and his son were probably quite happy to keep discussing goal tactics.
Refusing to release my captured audience on I went.
‘In Zambia,’ I boasted like some hideous ex-colonial ‘I tried, single handed, to jump start a non-existent film industry… ‘
The man laughs kindly and something about the mannerism is somewhat familiar. A little chill runs down my neck. I peer at him closely.
‘Err … are you in media?’ I ask.
‘Well yes I am,’ says the man. His glasses catch the light and I can’t quite tell his expression. ‘I make my own films and stuff.’
There is a pause.
His son is looking at the back of the seat and trying not to grin.
‘Umm.. would I have seen any of your ..’stuff’’? My voice is a little high.
‘Now lets see.’ The man genuinely thinks about this for a second. ‘You may have seen my last release. ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’?’
Turns out I am sitting next to Paul Greengrass .
That’s The Paul Greengrass.
Two Bourne films and ‘United 93’ among other remarkable and ingenious works.
I notice my mouth is open. I shut it.

After a while I manage to open it again and we end up having much banter for the last remaining minutes before they get out at Reading station.

After they have gone I resist the urge to stand up and shout to the other passengers in the carriage, ‘Oy! Did anyone just see that?!’ I nudge Grace but she just chews her gum and turns over.

So after all the delay, the stress, even so, I still feel exuberant and blessed. Of all the trains in all the world I am the woman who gets to have a personal hero from the movie industry and his son spend 15 minutes making me laugh by telling stories of Matt Damon mistakenly hitting someone in the face on set.

I wonder who Grace and I will bump into this week!”

I wonder!


Blogging Mistakes

I first started blogging from Chanters Lodge in June 2006 and have found it challenging but rewarding. I loved this excellent article in Mashable which really says it all! The photo? The fabulous Victoria Falls, just 10 kms from Chanters Lodge.

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Business blogging can be exceptionally rewarding. When done correctly, a successful blog can bring attention to your business, can attract new customers, and can turn your current customer base into the type of fans that companies like Apple, Netflix, and Ben and Jerry’s have: people who will not only buy your product or service, but evangelize it to their peers. Of course, like anything, there is a right way to go about starting a business blog and a wrong way.
Creating a blog for your small business isn’t easy; it requires hard work and the ability to think creatively about your work. But if you avoid the five big mistakes laid out in this post, your chances of building a successful business blog will be much better.

Mistake #1: Treating Your Blog Like a Press Center

The number one mistake that business bloggers make is to treat their blog as an extension of their current press center. Blogging is a conversation and it offers a way for your customers to connect with your business on a completely new level. If you use your blog to republish press releases your customers will have no reason to keep reading and they’ll also likely not trust your content. Don’t ever put out a press release on your blog. You can use your blog to make product or other business announcements, but do so with original writing and in a more casual voice. Use your blog to write about things other than your core business. Share your thoughts on your industry, share insights into the day-to-day work life and processes at your company, and provide tips and tricks you have learned during your time in business.

Mistake #2: Not Blogging Regularly

Think about the blogs you read on a regular basis — how many of them publish only sporadically? Most successful blogs put out new content at least a couple of times per week and try to stick to a regular schedule. Consistently putting out quality content will keep readers returning and over time it will help you build a community and turn your customers into fans.
Remember that anything can provide fodder for a good blog post, so pay attention to the things you read or see on other blogs, newspapers, magazines, or television. Have blogs prepared ahead of time.

Mistake #3: Not Enabling Conversation

As I already said, blogging is a conversation, and not allowing it to occur on your blog is a mistake. It’s true that blog comments can open you up to criticism, but blogging is an unparalleled opportunity to connect with your customers. You’ll get a lot more out of blogging if you enable — and even encourage — your customers to respond to what you write.

Mistake #4: Making New Content Hard to Discover

Your blog won’t be very helpful to readers if they aren’t able to easily find new content. You need to make your blog discoverable and you need to make sure that when you add new content, your regular readers will be able to find it. Make your blog easy to find by linking to it prominently from your company’s web site and including your blog’s URL in your email signature, on your business cards, and in sales and marketing collateral. Use a full RSS feed (because the goal with most business blogs should be to get read, not boost page views) and make it easy for your readers to find and subscribe to. Embrace social media technologies like Twitter and Facebook as a way to notify your fans and followers of new blog content, and make it easy for your readers to share content with each other through social media channels and via email.

Mistake #5: Expecting Too Much, Too Soon

Blogging isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Your blog won’t be an overnight success, and for the first few months it might feel like you’re writing for no one. It can take time to build up your readership and have a regular community of people who participate on your blog. Don’t expect immediate returns from your blog and do expect to put in a lot of hard work. Set attainable goals and realize that you’re in it for the long haul. Don’t cancel your blogging efforts after three months — give it at least a year of regularly putting out quality, original content. And make sure that your blog is easy to find, and that your readers are able to easily comment and share posts with others.

There you are then – get blogging!


Hotel Reviews

I’m back on one of my favourite topics again. Hotel reviews. This piece from Dennis Schaal‘s blog caught my eye:

He writes:

“Any smart company should monitor the social-media airwaves and at least listen to its critics therefore you have to give TripAdvisor some credit at least for reaching out to its critics and making a few tweaks to its hotel-review policies, although the modifications so far haven’t been earth-shattering. Jay Karen, president and CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, has met periodically with TripAdvisor officialdom and presented the company with a list of pet peeves from his B&B constituency.

Karen won’t take credit for any policy changes, but he undoubtedly has had an influence. The changes have ranged from minor to significant. For example, TripAdvisor initially permitted hotel reviews up to five years after the guest supposedly stayed at the property. Karen pushed for one year instead. “They left it fairly liberal from the get-go, because at first they needed to populate their site with reviews,” Karen says. “[TripAdvisor President and CEO] Steve Kaufer said this in a meeting with me, but he said now that their site has plenty of reviews, that they certainly could look at that policy. So, they changed it to three years. A step in the right direction, but I think a few more steps would be good.”

Of course, the downside in this is that there is no verification of when — or if — someone actually stayed at the hotel or inn. Other changes have been a bit more important. Earlier this year, Karen suggested and TripAdvisor changed the way it displays Best Deals. Previously, beneath the display of a property like the Jersey Cape Motel in Cape May, N.J., TripAdvisor might have displayed Best Deals: Jersey Cape Motel, but provided links to intermediaries and other properties that were competitors of the Jersey Cape Motel. Today, at the suggestion of Karen (and perhaps others), TripAdvisor has changed the display to Best Deals: Cape May. Thus a bait and switch is eliminated and the properties’ brands are not being misused.

“Another change that looks to be forthcoming, which I have lobbied for, as well, is for B&Bs to have links on their [TripAdvisor] pages that go back to their own websites,” Karen says. Today, since most smaller properties still are absent from global distribution systems or large online travel companies like Expedia, you’d be hard-pressed to find an advertising link to the Jersey Cape Motel or similar properties on their TripAdvisor pages. Thus, if you want to book that property under review, you’d have to find another way to do it outside of TripAdvisor. “We’re hoping in early 2010 for there to be a reciprocal link program for B&Bs,” Karen said. “This would be a big change for our industry.”

Change at TripAdvisor has been a slow-go. That’s because TripAdvisor has been unbelievably successful with its current formula despite all the “noise” out there from people like Karen, me and countless others. Karen acknowledges that TripAdvisor officials have been good listeners, but he likens the pace of change over there to re-positioning an ocean-liner. Almost everyone in the hospitality industry now acknowledges the importance of TripAdvisor and consumer hotel reviews, and the lodging industry is grappling with best practices.

Perhaps TripAdvisor should convene a blogger/hotel industry summit to move the conversation forward. However, my best guess is that will not be happening any time soon. If it weren’t handled properly, with all the passion generated on the hotel review issue, the meeting could degenerate into something like one of those healthcare-reform town hall meetings. Business and democracy — whether we are talking about hotel reviews and the advertising/media business, or healthcare reform — can be a noisy thing.”

The picture? The man had a bad review on TripAdvisor!


Zambia Tourism Awards 2009

I originally heard about these awards from Best of Zambia, rapidly becoming my source of all worthwhile information about the tourism business in this country via Twitter. But this post is from John Chola:

“An initiative designed to promote and reward excellence in tourism operations has been launched in Zambia. The initiative was also aimed at being recognised as a prestigious event hence attracting both public and industry-wide support and extensive media coverage.

Launching the initiative on Tuesday at Lusaka’s Southern Sun Ridgeway, the hotel’s general manager Adrian Penny said the initiative presented a high profile opportunity to showcase the best tourism operators in Zambia. Mr Penny said the Zambia Tourism Awards would motivate stakeholders to continue upgrading services in order to become globally competitive, inspire stakeholders to contribute to the development of the tourism industry in Zambia and help promote Zambian tourism to domestic and international markets.

He said that the initiative would recognise and ward categories such as best safari accommodation, best hotel, best guesthouse, best lodge and best back packer facilities. Operators offering camping site and Caravan Park, heritage and culture tourism sports, clean and green as well as community tourism would be awarded accordingly. “Other award categories included the best travel and tour operator, the best restaurant or catering service, the best tourism transport award, the best in tourism promotion and the guide of the year Award,” said Penny adding: “we also have awards for the best in adventure tourism, best entrepreneur award, tourism facilitation and the Zambia tourism special”.

The awards would be open to all Zambia-based tourism operators and application had been restricted to online participants. Mr Penny encouraged businesses and the public to take part through a website “Just visit and click the Tourism Awards button on the top of the page between 1st July 2009 and 15th August 2009 to participate,” Mr Penny said.

There would be site visits commence in September and October 2009 while winners would be announced at the high profile awards night slated for November 2009 in Livingstone. Mr Penny said that the 2009 Zambia Tourism Awards were a public-private sector partnership initiated by the public sector through the SEED Project under the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources and co-organised with the Tourism Council of Zambia.

He said that the initiative was also supported by private sector agencies such as The Best of Zambia, Capacity Building for Private Sector Development, Southern Sun Ridgeway and Radio Phoenix. The initiators of the Zambia Tourism Awards encouraged more support from the private sector towards sponsorship of different awards, marketing and promotion of the event.

Meanwhile, one of the initiators Joseph Brown said that in order to encourage Zambians to sample the country’s tourism most operators had introduced special rates. Mr Brown said Zambians visiting tourist resorts around the country would be charged a special rate different from those paid by foreign tourists.”

And would I have a strong objection if you went straight from reading this to nominating Chanters Lodge in the best Guest House category? Um, no! No objection at all!

Nice to see my old hotel The Ridgeway in Lusaka right up there as a sponsor too! The picture? Victoria Falls, an automatic winner in every category!


Blogs For Hotels

I’ve been blogging from Chanters Lodge for more than 3 years, but have only recently discovered the marketing possibilities of sites like Twitter and Facebook. This piece from Caryn Eve Murray on HotelInteractive interested me as it seems opposite from the way I’ve been going! Anyway, this is what she says:

“It is no longer sufficient for hotels to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, three popular but somewhat different means of social networking. Now some hospitality scribes have begun making dutiful entries online, “Dear Diary” style. But in this case their diary is not just an open book but – in keeping with the computer age – an open blog.

Formerly viewed largely as a vehicle for individuals’ indulgent self-absorption or revelations, blogs are now maturing as the next big marketing tool in the social networking portfolio.The call to blog was so strong, in fact, for Embassy Suites that earlier this year the Hilton brand took its pre-existing Web site,, and gave it a makeover. debuted in blog format this past spring, harnessing the talents of freelance bloggers who, each in their own way, address work-life issues that often challenge Embassy Suites’ business travelers: fitness and health, food, family life, managing stress and travel strategies.

“The perception has been in the past, and rightly so, 20 percent of the people on blogs account for 80 percent of the content”, said John Lee, vice president of marketing for Embassy Suites. “They were always talking about themselves and there wasn’t much real content folks could really use. We see that changing. And if it is managed correctly, we can see a lot of benefit.” Having third-party experts “gives the brand a little credibility, some third-party endorsement. It is not that Embassy Suites is saying you should be doing this. It is people like Jane and Michael Stern [the authors of ‘Roadfood’] who are updating the content for us.”

Most importantly, said Lee, “we don’t try to sell anyone anything. They are smarter than that. If they have a relationship with the brand because of this cool Web site, the bookings will take care of themselves. If we can grow share of heart, share of wallet will follow.” Blogs are, for the most part, still uncharted territory in the hospitality industry, even though they predate the now-well-trod other social media now crammed with hotels and motels among their ranks. Unlike the realtime interactivity of Twitter, blogs can offer shelf (or screen) life, with the posts archiving for reference again later.

“There are more or less only a handful of blogs from hotels,” said Kent Lewis, whose Anvil Media is the marketing consultant for the Provenance group of boutique hotels. Marriott International’s chairman and CEO Bill Marriott was something of a pioneer when he launched his interactive blog about two years ago, said Lewis, “and then only the big guys were the ones doing it.” But Provenance was already getting its blog act together offline with the goal of establishing a blog foothold for three of the brand’s five properties.

In Nashville, the Hotel Preston has been blogging its heart out since the autumn of 2007. “The Sounding Board” is a music-centric collection of posts. “It is what is unique to the vibe of the Preston,” said Lewis. The blog embraces the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and mixes its posts with specifics about the Preston, a hotel in the center of that music mix. “You’re talking about adding value to the community,” said Lewis. “We treat it like a publication, somewhere between news stories and anecdotes, fun things, interesting things.”

Good writing has a particularly long history at the Newagen Seaside Inn near Maine’s Boothbay Harbor. Jason Schlosser, innkeeper, is quick to point out that writer and ecologist Rachel Carson was a summer guest there in the 1960s, and wrote portions of her landmark works, “Silent Spring” and “The Edge of the Sea”, while seeking respite and inspiration on the Maine coast. “We are committed to this process,” said Schlosser, who said the blog went online 18 months ago. It now boasts videos and photos (some sent in by guests) and lots of tips about vacation-planning, wedding-planning and sightseeing, in Maine and in general.

The inn, then, is a starting point for the blog, rather than an endpoint. “And it is continuing to evolve. I don’t know if we have arrived yet.”

Here here! The picture? Nashville, Tennessee


HotelBlogs on Twitter

Guillaume Thevenot (pictured above), who hosts the much respected site HotelBlogs, is always on the ball especially when it comes to the internet. This is what he has to say about the future of Twitter. (As usual I think he’s probably spot on):

“I know a large number of people are still wondering what Twitter is for and why so much noise is behind it recently. Anyway, I let you judge for yourself whether Twitter is of good use for you. While I was browsing the Web to find out who is on Twitter, I discovered that the Design Style Online Magazine for Paris hotels Hoosta has a Twitter account and so does the hotel chain Tiara Hotels (2 hotels in France and 2 hotels in Portugal). And what do they do on Twitter? Hoosta asks Tiara Hotels if they can provide some pictures of their new hotel opening soon in Cannes.

Could it be that Twitter will become more efficient than emails for such a request? Looks like it, since Hoosta published a nice article about the hotel 3 days later (note also the quality of pictures and how fast they are displayed on the site…) So getting more and more proficient with Twitter, I have to say I tend to believe we have seen just the beginning of how people could efficiently use this new social media tool.”

I envy his ‘getting more and more proficient’ – I wish I was! Anyway find me on Twitter @livilodge. In a recent Twitter post Guillaume on Twitter @hotelblogs speculated that Twitter may be addictive – you try to stop and can’t! He might well be right about that too. I don’t think Chanters Lodge would have joined Best Of Zambia (at some cost…) on Twitter @thebestofzambia if they hadn’t been so active on Twitter. Certainly Twitter’s played an interesting role in the current political situation in Iran.

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