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Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-7 April 25, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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CK GREETS ARUN, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

This is the final post in my series of posts celebrating Blogger Social’08. In this post, I want to talk about 3 special people who mean the world to me and who I got to meet for the first time ever at the event.

A lot of people who attended Blogger Social’08 have told us that the above photo of CK hugging me on meeting me for the first time is a visual treasure that best encapsulates the essence of the Blogger Social and something even bigger!

How true! My friendship with CK is going to be a year old in a few weeks from now. It was her mother (God bless her soul!) that brought us together (a comment I made about departed souls watching over us as stars in the sky caught CK’s heart and marked the beginning of our friendship). A year later, when my mother passed away, CK was there as a rock of strength, reminding me of my own allusion that departed souls are with us, proudly watching over us as stars in the night sky, and hence not to lose hope.

CK has been an angel for me, always offering kindly support, appreciation and encouragement. I can go on and on about how blessed her heart is and how she has been this role model I look up to. I’m sure there are countless people out there in the blogosphere who have been inspired by her and who consider her an angel like I do.

For me, the greatest thing about her is her ability to inspire you to move mountains. For example, my trip to New York. It’s a trip that I thought I would never make. Initially, the trip wasn’t even on my radar because I thought: Hey, me going to New York??? Are you kidding me? How am I going to make it? What about the money, and then the visa?

It took a simple nudge from her for me to realize you can’t get things unless you even wish for them. Once I made a decision to travel to the US in April, there came other unavoidable emergencies. The first few months of 2008 threw every possible challenge in the book at me – a new job, frequent travel to India, the passing away of my mother, lots of family pressures, financial constraints… so much, that several nights I lost sleep stressing if I could it make it in April.

To make matters worse, there was some delay in processing my employment visa in Oman, and it took things to the wire. I couldn’t travel unless that was sorted out. Finally everything worked out in the last possible minute – I got my employment visa sorted out a day before my cut-off date to apply for a US visa to arrive in time for the event. I think I literally ran from the US Embassy to the airport to catch the flight to New York. CK was in the midst of all the madness I went through reassuring me that her prayers were with me and I would make it as we were meant to meet.

The entire weekend, I remember telling her – CK, I still can’t believe I’m here, this feels like a dream. And she would be like: I understand. You will only feel that you were here once you get back home.

The entire trip, the whole event and my meeting with CK – I consider it nothing short of a blessing & miracle. I think most of the time I was in shock – the joy of meeting all those people I really wanted to meet and then my disbelief in all that was happening around me. I sometimes wonder how I made it – and that’s when I know that the gentle nudges, prayers, faith and support a friend like CK gives you can move mountains for you and just get you going!

Drew & CK, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

Another person who I had the pleasure of meeting at Blogger Social was Drew McLellan. Drew, CK & their army of mighty elves moved a lot of mighty mountains to bring us an event that was so magnificent and magical.

Drew’s and Gavin’s collaboration on the first edition of ‘The Age of Conversation’ introduced me to a community of bloggers who care and share. The book not only opened a lot of avenues for me in Oman, but also helped me make a lot of friends from around the world, most of whom I had the good fortune of meeting in New York.

Sometimes the sign of greatness is that it creates a spillover effect of so much goodness that benefits people in many mysterious, yet positive ways. Drew’s leadership, both in directing the success of the book and the event, has benefited me, personally and professionally. It’s made me so much richer in soul and spirit, and I couldn’t be happier! Thank you, Drew, for everything you do to keep us stronger and closer as a community!

Luc and Arun, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

The last gem of this post is my good friend Luc Debaisiuex. Again, our friendship is going to be a year old. Meeting Luc at New York was one of the finest, most exciting experiences of my life. It’s hard to explain why and so – but Luc is someone I so look up to and consider him a friend, family, guide, mentor and so much more. We enjoyed some beautiful conversations that weekend. He’s somebody who is very encouraging and motivating and can bring a smile on your face with his very endearing nature. He’s somebody who transmits tremendous positive energy and goodwill through his conversations. Thank you Luc, for being there and I wish you the best in all your endeavours. It’s great to have you with us!

Indeed, if life is a journey that leads to meeting fine people and unforgettable experiences, New York in the weekend of April 4-6, 2008 brought together some of the finest people and greatest experiences of my life, ever.

Arun & CK, originally uploaded by Moda di Magno.


Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-6 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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Anna Farmery and Heather Gorange, originally uploaded by marilynpratt.

Till Blogger Social, Ryan Karpeles was a blogger I really looked up to. And after BS, he’s a friend I look up to. I’m an avid follower of his work, since this particular post, where he thanked his social media teachers and friends. Needless to say, I’m really in awe with a person who is so simple yet powerful with his thinking and expression. And is so unassuming at that.

I said hello to Jennifer Laycock as we were all winding up BS. I did tell her that I love the “other blog”. She told me that it was a sentiment echoed by a lot of other people.

Where is Neil Vineberg? Where is Neil Vineberg? I think I pestered CK enough till Neil made a grand entry at the dinner. It was great fun to finally meet him and say hello.

I had a super-swell time with Anna Farmery & Heather Gorringe. OK, I’ll let you in on a lil’ Blogger Social secret – I’d been dying to meet up with Heather ever since I worked on her profile. So Blogger Social comes and Heather is there on all days, including the unofficial pre-event mixer at the Bookmarks Lounge, so I keep bumping into Heather everywhere and I think* it’s someone else and so I go about my way. So on dinner night, I sit at a table where Anna and Heather are seated and I tell Anna: Blogger Social is almost over and I haven’t yet got to meet Heather. And Heather just gives me a look that says, “Who the hell do you think this is?” and Anna just frowns and she is like – This is Heather Gorringe. And I go… Noooo! No wayyyy!!! (A big boo-boo moment!!!) And next thing that happens is Heather diving into her bag and fishing out a name tag with a victorious glee and I’m like: Holy Cowwww. And I was like so shocked, lost for words. And then we had like a great chat. (Even got to show the ladies a dance move – which I kind of think now as goofy. Lol.)

*I know – that’s so very ‘smart’ of me.

I really missed Marianne Richmond. She helped us out with creating that huge Blogger Social profiles packet and I was so looking forward to meeting her, especially after CK let me in on the fact that she has an amazing sense of humor. Hope to meet you soon, Marianne, Insha’allah (Arabic expression for God Willing!)

Conversation Conductor Mike Sansone was another person I missed at the event. Hope to meet you soon Mike!

Here are a couple of people I wished I could spend more time with at Blogger Social’08. I distinctly recollect saying hello to at least some of them, and connecting with them with at a deeper level is something I’m aiming for at the next Blogger Social. The least I can do now is say an online Hola right away to:

Doug Meacham Paul McEnany Gene DeWitt Kris Hoet Seni Thomas Paul Dunay Chris Kieff Tara Anderson Roberta Rosenberg Saul Colt Mike Arauz Matthew Bailey John Rosen Cathleen Rittereiser Tamar Weinberg Rita Perea Matthew McDonald Kaitlyn Wilkins Jennifer Berk Jane Quigley John Wall Kevin Horne Virginia Miracle David Polinchock Terry Starbucker

Conversations from Blogger Social’08 will continue… got 3 more people to talk about! Watch this space…

Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-5 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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It was great meeting Steve Woodruff & Curious George. Steve’s a quiet person, but that doesn’t mean he is less affable. It was such a pleasure meeting a person who is so passionate about our community without being so vocal about it.

Tangerine Toad & Tim Brunelle: TT and Tim are two icons I look up to when it comes to my work. So it was nice to hear a lot of interesting things about advertising, social media, work and life in general straight from the horses themselves. At the dinner, Tim was like c’mon boy; let’s go meet people out there and I tagged along. I like the man’s spirit, he knows how to have a ball and then get away with it. Real heroes, both of them.

Kristin Gorski came, saw and conquered in the 1-minute we got to say hi. I find her a very prolific writer and I was so looking forward to meeting her. In real life, she’s simply more awesome.

I had a good time chatting with CeCe Lee Salomon and her hubby Gregg at the Perfect Pint. They were the perfect couple that served as my ice-breaker to the event.

Darryl Ohrt told us (Mark Goren & I) about the ‘scar’ over drinks. Darryl’s such a chilled-out dude.

David Armano. Kick me somebody, oh, somebody just kick me. The whole wide blogosphere knows how David has gripped the bull called social media by its horns and is riding on its back. I feel like an opportunity lost that I missed out in saying hi to him, especially when he was all over the place with his cowboy hat. May be I felt so awed that I couldn’t walk up to him. I so admire his work and the way he is involved with social media. And if he’s reading this, he will know he’s got a fan in Oman.

Hah! Tim McHale! The Man. I went so ga-ga over him the first time I met him, I think I almost embarrassed him. Why not, after all, he’s the guy who’s helped set up Tribal DDB. He shared with us a lot of his war stories, specially why DDB picked Tribal as its nom for the digital shop and how the interactive landscape was then back in the days. Quite the cat!

Joe Kutchera has promised me to be my guide if I ever decide to move down to the States. He would know best, especially with his work that takes him outside the country. God bless his soul! Joe, it was so much fun meeting you and looking forward to the next time. (Now I know, what a ‘daily joe’ means!)

I met Paul Soldera on the pier after the boat ride and we had a good time talking about our geographical background and favourite sport (cricket)!!! He was very excited about social media bringing people together from across the globe. Too bad he couldn’t spend much time with us.

Todd Andrlik is a very mellow, gentle soul (and really tall, like Ryan wrote in her Blogger Social memoirs). He is fond of collecting antique, special edition newspapers and was kind enough to gift me a copy of one treasured, antique piece. And I learnt from him about this unique, hand written newspaper that is published from India. Todd was frequently mobbed by bloggers who wanted him to jumpstart their Power 150 rankings. I’d personally like to be on that chart some day, some where on the top! Todd captured a very interesting video where he asked Blogger Socialites what they liked the most about blogging. My response was: INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS.

Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-4 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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Lori and Arun, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

It was fun catching up with David Berkowitz, especially after his recent honeymoon trip to India. His recent travelogue on his Indian adventures made me open my eyes to a lot of experiences in India that were unknown to me. It was very gratifying to see India through his eyes. Of course, I was effusive in my praise for his Flickr snaps and travelogue. He, after all went to Kerala, which is my native state in India.

Matt Dickman won me over with his genial smile. It was great running into the legendary ‘Mattanium’. Linda Sherman and I enjoyed his company during the Blogger Social boat ride. Not only did he take umpteen amazing snaps of us in all sorts of poses, but he gave us a fabulous guided tour of the Manhattan view along the cruise. Thank you Matt, that was so very generous of you!!!

I’m still kickin myself in the rear for missing out on Rohit Bhargava’s book brainstorm meeting, but I’m glad to have met him at Blogger Social’08. It was very inspiring to hear from Rohit about his personal vision for the future. BS gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of industry greats, and Rohit is someone who is using the potential of social media to create goodness and value not just for himself but also for the marketing community. It was such a great honor to meet the person who wrote the iconic ’25 different styles of blogging’.

From Ryan’s blog, I heard that Shashi Bellamkonda is a polyglot. From my limited interaction with him, I came to understand him as a very friendly person with a lot of diverse interests and who is generally interested in knowing more about people. Thank you for being a wonder with the camera and giving us so many snaps. Hopefully, we will get to connect more in the days to come.

Lori Magno was truly the angel of Blogger Social’08. I wandered into the Perfect Pint, dazed, horribly late, not knowing what to expect. And I meander straight into Lori – and for a split second, I’m like: Is this real? Is this Lori Magno? Is this the same person? Is it the legendary Audi driving, Mac using, doppio drinking, Red Sox loving liberal? The same person who shipped out all the Weekend copies to bloggers across the States? And in that split second, she screams-It’s Arunnnnnnn and gives me this huge, huge bear hug. And I think-I’m home. I’m home. Lori was the life of Blogger Social, the angel-like figure we all ran to when we were lost and didn’t know what to do. The shepherd(ess) of our flock. And thank you for your work in getting us all those yummy goodies. You’re awesome! You are truly special for me.

Arun, Valeria & Arun’s bag, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

Valeria Maltoni has the most amazing, friendliest smile ever. Period.

Said hello to Steve Roesler and shook hands. Meeting him was such an honor. I’m looking forward to more conversations with him in the future.

Watch out for more of my Blogger Social experiences!

Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-3 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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Cam Beck & Ann Handley, originally uploaded by dougmeacham.

It would have been such a great personal loss if I didn’t manage to accost Katie Chatfield at Opia in the wee hours of the evening. We had so much fun catching up and I really look up to Shouty and her unique perspectives on everything. With her winning personality, Katie was one of the glowing stars of evening. I can’t wait to meet her next.

It was great running into Mack Collier; he’s a man of fewer words, but such a towering figure in this community. It was very heartwarming to hear about Mack’s experience in getting around the ‘handshake shit’ and embracing people in the true spirit of Blogger Social. In that context, I wish to spend more time with Mack, as he is a person who has a lot to offer when it comes to strengthening social relationships. Mack was one of the first I met at Blogger Social, I’ll forever remember his question: Have you met CK?

Cam Beck really hit the nail on the head with his recent post on MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog where he said, “The heart of social interaction is participation, and the root of participation is will.” It was great meeting Cam at the event, I really consider him a dear friend who reaches out and connects with you – he values his relationships – real and online. I particularly had a good time going out for early morning breakfast with him and the other mates. I thought his military cut was spiffy; it had such a rub-off effect on me, that I’m sporting one too.

Armed with an amazing smile, Linda Sherman really makes you comfortable with her warm, genial personality. I’d the pleasure of having a lot of conversations with her, both at the Perfect Pint and in the Blogger Social boat. She was always on the move, connecting with people with her very disarming nature and even after the event, she found the time to stay in touch. It was great meeting you, Linda.

Ann Handley & Vahe Habeshian made such a great couple. I met them first at the informal gathering at the Bookmarks Lounge. It was great talking to Vahe, especially, he seemed like a quiet, genteel person and we did talk a lot about ‘geography’. Ann said later that she felt that she didn’t have a substantive conversation with anyone, because time was really short. A lot of people in that gathering would echo the same sentiment – there simply wasn’t enough time for everyone to connect as much as they would have wished. It was more like ‘hi, hello, nice meeting you, see you later’. But the important thing is, now having met in real time and space, a lot of conversations would now move on in stronger, deeper and on a more personal level, till it’s time to meet again and reinforce the bonds of friendship.

Greg Verdino and Amanda Gravel: Rock Out with your Blog Out, originally uploaded by gregverdino.

Greg Verdino & Amanda Gravel was another couple that turned up the ‘heat quotient’ at the Blogger Social. They looked so ‘yummy’ together and had a ball. I did manage to tell Amanda that ‘she looked amazing’. Nice meeting you two!!!

Scott Monty came over and said hello and I was like, wow, what a voice. I quite admire him for his interest in Sherlock Holmes and kind of felt that he was like one of the characters from the Baker Street adventures. (Just a fleeting thought!) He did such an amazing job as the MC especially during the fund raising proceedings for the Frozen Pea fund. I think auctioning the Jaffe nametag was such a hilarious, neat idea.

More conversations to follow!

Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-2 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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CB, Arun, and Toby, originally uploaded by mvellandi.

Mark Goren shared his experiences about being a copywriter back in the days and then making the switch to doing his own thing. I felt so touched when he is took his iPod Touch out and showed me his family pics.

It was so impressive to watch Jason Falls do the rounds with his drink at the Perfect Pint. He connects with people at the snap of his fingers. On the boat, he gave me and Susan Bird a very interesting sneak-peek into his work at Doe-Anderson. I was especially interested in the kind of community involvement they had with their partners at work.

I was so very excited to meet Connie Reece. We couldn’t talk much, but I remember chasing her down the stairs of the Perfect Pint to wish her G’nite.

The lovely diva Toby Bloomberg shared her pink boa with for a group snap with the ever-awesome Christine B. Whittemore. We did the ‘shanti’ pose for Mario. They are so much fun to be with. They have much energy, and so much grace. Both divas rule! And I adore both of them. (The brownies were yummy, TB).

Being with Gavin Heaton can make you feel so special, welcome and wanted. He has an ear for everyone and is a very friendly person. OK, everyone at Blogger Social was friendly, and went out of their way to make everyone else feel special, but there was something very charismatic and genuine about Gavin, that it’s so hard to put down in words about how special he is. I felt like I knew him from ages from the minute I met him. To radiate that feeling, is such a gift, a blessing, in my opinion.

David Reich. I absolutely dig his hair-do and Luc’s as well. (Btw, Cam Beck turned up in this military, macho haircut and 2 weeks later, I’m sporting the same look here in Muscat which has got people asking me what’s behind this inspiration!). David is New York’s resident angel and like Nathan Snell says, he has an insane knowledge of New York.

Drew, CK, Katie, Cam, Nathan, Gavin, David, Luc and I went hunting all over New York city for a diner that would be open at 3am. We had so much fun in the process and more memorable social time.

Marshall Sponder was by my side for dinner. We spoke a lot about art and web analytics, two of his greatest passions. He had one of the catchiest business cards in the crowd.

I had such a great time hanging out with Ryan Barrett and Slava Menn. We covered so many topics under the sun… that I’m having difficulty recollecting what we didn’t talk about. They make such an awesome pair. Oh yes Ryan, we are soon going to talk about Austin.

Marilyn Pratt and I hung about a corner in the Perfect Pint and looked at the magic that was happening in that room. We were too shocked and spell-bound to take in everything. I particularly had a nice time sharing what I knew about a few bloggy friends who had gathered out there. Marilyn told me about her work at SAP where she plays an important role in driving social media relationships within people her organization. We of course spoke about India, a country which she is passionate about. Marilyn, it was so much fun being in your company!

More conversations are on its way…

Arun, Nathan & CK, originally uploaded by dougmeacham.

Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-1 April 24, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

It’s been nearly three weeks since Blogger Social’08. And now is when I get a chance to sit down and pen down my thoughts on one of most exciting experiences of my life.

I’m thinking of writing a couple of posts on the event and my trip to New York, but for starters I think I should tell you about the people I met at the event. After all, Blogger Social is all about the peeps!

These are my impressions, thoughts and fond memories of the Blogger Stars I met. If I missed out on anyone or if I ‘misquote’ anything, may I ask for your apologies in advance and solely blame everything on ‘ extended jet lag’.

Best quote heard at Blogger Social’08 – “What do we have to do to get all the women to hug us as well?” – Anonymous.

Another gem: “The world isn’t getting flatter, it’s getting smaller. And this room proves it.” – CK.

Probably the most poignant moment at BS was when CK called out all the places from around the globe that had come together for the event, and reps from 20 states in the US and 8 countries stood up. It was like mini-United Nations minus all the global issues in session. Like Director Tom said, there was pure magic happenin’ in that room. I felt so happy, proud and humbled to be in that gathering.

Lewis Green shared with us ‘the goodness of the heart’. This is one person who ‘leads with his heart’ when it comes to expressing his views and opinions. Lewis led me onto the cultural insight that Americans gave appreciation were it was due and were not too fond of self-effacingness.

Mario Vellandi spoke to me about about bridging the knowledge and cultural gaps between various societies. He was very passionate about being selflessly contributing to this cause. The kind of evangelist we could use.

Blogger Social 2008
, originally uploaded by Matt Dickman.

Director Tom told us about his work on corporate videos, especially how his work had taught him a lot about other things, for example epilepsy. And how back in the days he had to go to New York from Connecticut for all his video work. And now, he gets things done at a stone’s throw from home.

A lot of people were commenting about how there was a total lack of egos wherever blogger socialites gathered. People were so warm, friendly and so totally at ease with each other.

Susan Bird had me in splits when she told me how she walked up to a conked out Air India check-in counter in New Delhi and suggested it would be better if Air India outsourced their systems to India. We spoke a lot about Tigers, and her trip to Kanha Tiger Park in India and I was more than happy to share my tiger cub feeding exploits in Thailand.

Sean Howard had an adventurous tale to share about his train from Canada coming in late. Eventually, it took him more time to get to New York than Gavin Heaton from Australia. He even showed us his ‘get nekkid’ act.

More conversations are on its way…

The Who’s Who of Blogger Social’08 March 25, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Digital, Social Media.
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Blogger Social’08 Profiles

10 more days to go. Imagine 83 accomplished marketing bloggers from around the world descending into New York for a unique, power-packed, fun-filled kick-ass meet-up. It can’t get more exciting than this, can it?

You have all kinds of people in there. Social Media Wizards. Techie Gurus. Passionate Cause-based Activists. Farmers. Entrepreneurs. Admen. Writers. Chefs. New Media Strategists. Professional Speakers. Film Directors. Comedy Artists. Musicians. And many more.

To know more about this motley crew, flick through this comprehensive pdf that compiles profiles of all the Blogger Social 2008 attendees. For more event info, head to http://www.blogger-social.com/

Attendees include:
Susan Bird Tim Brunelle Katie Chatfield Matt Dickman Luc Debaisieux Gianandrea Facchini Mark Goren Gavin Heaton Sean Howard CK Valeria Maltoni Drew McLellan Doug Meacham Marilyn Pratt Steve Roesler Greg Verdino CB Whittemore Steve Woodruff Paul McEnany Ann Handley David Reich Tangerine Toad Kristin Gorski Mack Collier David Armano Ryan Barrett Lori Magno Tim McHale Gene DeWitt Mario Vellandi Arun Rajagopal Joseph Jaffe Rohit Bhargava Anna Farmery Marianne Richmond Thomas Clifford Lewis Green Geoff Livingston Kris Hoet Connie Reece CeCe Lee Toby Bloomberg Seni Thomas Darryl Ohrt Joe Kutchera Paul Dunay Marshall Sponder Chris Kieff Tara Anderson Jason Falls Paul Soldera Roberta Rosenberg Saul Colt Todd Andrlik Nathan Snell Ryan Karpeles Mike Sansone Jennifer Laycock Neil Vineberg Cam Beck Mike Arauz Matthew Bailey Heather Gorringe John Rosen Cathleen Rittereiser Tamar Weinberg Rita Perea Linda Sherman Matthew McDonald Kaitlyn Wilkins Terry Starbucker
Jennifer Berk
Jane Quigley John Wall Scott Monty Kevin Horne Virginia Miracle Amanda Gravel Susan Reynolds David Polinchock Shashi Bellamkonda David Berkowitz Vahe Habeshian

I thank CK, Drew McLellan, Tim Brunelle, Marianne Richmond, Gavin Heaton, Luc Debaisieux, Toby Bloomberg and Shankar T. for their awesome help in creating this pdf.

And to celebrate all the ‘Blogger Social All-Stars’, here’s a fun quiz I created that tests how well you know our attendees. Happy Quizzing!

Blogger Social Who’s Who Quiz

Take the Blogger Social’08 – Who’s who? Quiz