Tuesday, March 17, 2009


People love the Smile Wall so much they are video blogging shout outs for us!


So day 1 of SxSW SMILES was amazing! While we didn't get the big donations rolling, the fact that over 300 people stopped by to share WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE. We got great pictures and had some amazing conversations. Many people are interested in using their blogs and social networks to help us help more children. It was so great that people were bummed they didn't get to come by so we're doing it again this morning.

The action and response was so amazing that we're in talks with SxSW officials to make it an official SxSW event next year with a higher profile and maybe even incorporate a stage for the music festival. I can see it now: 'Ladies and Gentleman introducing Pearl Jam live from the Smile Stage". I'll speak to them in May to see what we can make happen.

I sat down for an adult beverage with Scott Goldstein from the Obama campaign, he has a very similar background as me coming from a rock & roll field and working in club promotions and radio and now for politics and ngo's. He was really into what we're doing and told me about a mjor donor in DC that is a huge advocate for us yet only donates online. I'll be emailing him later this week as he may want to get involved in SxSW SMILES for next year. Scott's coming by this morning to set up a meet.

Also last night I met the CEO of Convio and their Social Media Diva who asked me for an interview for her social media non profit blog. She has a great understanding of our needs and we were mutually excited to meet and chat. She'll be coming by today as well to chat more and set up some follow up.

It has been an exhausting, interesting, entertaining and inspiring week and I'm sure today will prove just as stimulating. I'm off for a quick coffee before the last day, please check out the amazing pics from tomorrow (don't worry, upon my return i will "edit" the photos) but for now have a look at the inspiring, goofy and controversial things that make people smile:

Monday, March 16, 2009


Getting set up an people are already flooding to the table! Lot's of great visitors sharing their smiles with us (and a few bucks too!)


Yesterday was amazing. I made so many incredible contacts and hadd so many learning experiences and they kept going until late in the evening. Here are just some highlights:
  • Met Tara Hunt (@missrogue) and chatted about sxswsmiles
  • Met the guys from an incredible micro-loan program called opt-in (www.optinnow.com)
  • Gave away 400 hand bills for sxswsmiles
  • Had my picture taken with the segway blow up doll. Segway asked "How tdo you roll?"
  • Met and chatted with David Meerman Scott who offered up some great advice and encouragement (www.davidmeermanscott)
  • Talked to a guy from Google about doing a Google Smiles day with the "What makes you Smile" concept-he's coming by today to chat more
  • Talked to Scott Goodstein from the Obama social media campaign about our social media strategy and online/offline promotions
  • Talked with a kiosk and trade show designer about working on "The Operation Smile Experience" traveling show-his company does amazing work and is looking for a charity to partner with
  • Talked to a game design company about designing an interactive compnent to "The Operation Smile Experience"
  • Will be story boarding "The Operation Smile Experience" today
  • Talked to innovative user generated t-shirt company Threadless about partnering on a t-shirt design contest (www.threadless.com)
  • Had dinner with folks from Beaconfire, Hewlett Packard, FreeRange Studios in preperation and celebration for today

Gotta run, check out the photo stream at www.operationsmile.org/sxsw to see the folks that come by as we ask "What makes you smile?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

DAY 3-meeting tech Rock Stars

so i have a quick (opporative word quick) second to post a blog. Had some incredibly amazing connections and onversations today! I am a huge fan of David Meerman Scott, http://www.davidmeermanscott.com/. He has a great handle on concisely and effectively understanding and communicating social media. Lots of free resources etc.
So yesterday I saw his book reading and scored a copy of his new book and then this morning in the Bloggers lounge I had a great chance to speak with him. Looking at doing a Mr. Potato Head across the world viral campaign.

Also in the Bloggers Lounge were my new bestie @xian3000 aka Christian Caldwell from American Heart Association. He has been amazing at introducing me, guiding me and giving me incredibly invaluable info on how to do my job better. @Pistachio was there too-i said hi and asked her to come by sxsw smiles (she said she would).

I was torn between going to the Moms Who Blog or Making Whuffie sessions (whuffie means internet creditbility and reach). I went to Whuffie because I figured I needed some and I know @emom and her freinds are coming by tomorrow.

Whuffie was @missrogue (can you say 25k + followers???!!!) session and was very valuable-even more valuable was giving away 300 fliers for #sxswsmiles and encouraging people to "increase your whuffie and help kids tomorrow". I think it might work. It doesn't hurt that @rachelannyes introduced me to Miss Rogue (Tara Hunt) who then said she'd come by AND she put on a sxswsmiles button and said she'd spread the word! (SCORE)

I am meeting really awesome people, getting tons of ideas and have a great rest/work/blab/blog/rest rythm going so i don't poop out!

More later--including video and pics--

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 3 -ends in Social Media ROI Poetry Slam

I'll fill in the rest of the day in my next post but wanted to capture the wonderment that was the Non-Profit Social Media ROI POETRY SLAM--yes I said Poetry Slam. Experts in the field, the true innovators in non-profit social media use discussed metrics, campaigns, challenges and triumphs in 5 minute segments in the style of poetry, rap and rhyme.
I was honored to be a Twitter moderator and sit up front like I'm special-so rather than re-create this impossibly awesome session check out these links:
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23roi (Twitter Search #roi)

ROCK ON! now onto some "networking opportunities" AKA parties!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

keeping up

Wanna Keep up with me at SxSW? The best way is to follow me on Twitter @ismyl. Not familiar with twitter-it's easy, it's fun, you should do it right this second!

Day 2 "Whose Who"

I'm siting here at the SxSW Day stage with some of the female Goddesses of the Internet. Wendy Harmon, the Social Media Guru of Red Cross who helped bring back the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina through connecting with people via Social Media. Wendy Piersall is munching on crappy pizza, she's emom online and has 14,500+ followers on Twitter and countless on her blog sites and other online presences. Aliza (Ah-lee-zah) Sherman AKA Cybergrrrl who is a legendary blogger and cyber geek (she even has her own playing card here!). And finally the incomparable Beth Kanter Social Media Evangelist and non-profit consultant extraordinaire.

I have already learned a ton about the social media world, brushed shoulders with giants of the web and had 4 cups of coffee.

And of course I'm getting everyone excited about SxSW Smiles on Monday and trying to draw support for our mini-campaign here!

More later, I'm off to a session about associations and the web.

Day 1 - Part 2

I arrived in Austin and was greeted by an old friend. After catching her up on our personal triumphs, pitfalls and miscellanea I told her about what I do. I told her that what I first did at Operation Smile was connect people with children who needed them. In Donor Relations at Operation Smile I did more than a customer service task, I helped inspire people to spread the word about the children they had seen on our television show or in a mail piece. I empowered them to become Smile advocates to be the voices of these children born with facial deformities that could not speak. I enlisted them in service to not only raise awareness but to be bold an raise funds and I was able to support them in doing so by making cool materials and guiding them through the way so they had very little to fear and very little investment yet were able to make such a huge impact.

I told my friend about the 8 year old boy Bonnie, on of our Donor Relations Specialists spoke to who was so inspired by our television show that he wrote a poem about Operation Smile for a school contest and then put on a school wide yard sale. That little 8 year old boy raised almost 10 thousand dollars! I am awed and amazed at the power of people hearts, the children we serves smiles and the dedication of our awesome Donor Relations Team-GO TEAM! (incidentally you can find out how good they are Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 5:30 pm EST at 888-677-6453)

O.K. so what does this have to do with SxSW SMILES? Well, after catching Jeanne (my friend) up on all of this over amazing lunch at the legendary Threadgill's -they actually asked if I wanted seconds on my chicken and dumplins-I told her about my new role and how now I am trying to do the same thing we do in Donor Relations online and in person at events. I explained that while in the past social networking tools like chat rooms were thought to divide people and keep them at home in a dark corner having "virtual relationships'. Now with Facebook and Twitter, these interactions are actually driving in-person meet-ups and beyond that they are inspiring ACTION.

So I guess you could say I'm in Austin for a little Smile Action! Our first order of business was to go see an old favorite singer songwriter named Catie Curtis. You may not know who she is but you have likely heard her voice in television, movies or commercials. She has the voice of an angel and the wit of fox. She sang a song inspired by her own kids called "Sing" about how when life gets hard you should just sing~through danger~thunder~dark times~sing. I thought, WOW switch "sing" to "smile" and it would be the perfect song to illustrate what Operation Smile does for children. Giving them safety where they felt fear and danger, giving them purpose and power where they felt helpless and unworthy. So I asked her to check out one of my favorite videos (www.youtube.com/createsmiles) and see if she gets inspired. She was excited and said she looked forward to it and would love to put something together. I can't wait to hear what she comes up with, I know it will pull at the heart strings, bring a tear to your eye but leave you with a smile!

After the show and a pitstop for my first Whataburger, we head back to my home away from home, check e-mails, Tweet an update, thank the awesome people taking the SMILE MONTH $240 Challenge (www.operationsmile.org/smile-month) including Lydia Hearst (yes that Lydia Hearst) and rest up for what promises to be an amazing day of spreading the word and gaining new knowledge and friends in the Interactive world!


Thursday, March 12, 2009


It’s a chilly Thursday morning (which is a disappointment after 70 degree weather) and I’m sitting in the airport en route to Austin Texas and the infamous SxSW (South by Southwest) Conference & Festival. SxSW hosts three industries for 10 days of cutting age workshops, networking and one of a kind learning opportunities. The first half of the Festival is the Film & Interactive conferencing.

But it is the music that is making SxSW famous. SxSW has a huge underground following that is creeping towards the mainstream with fervor. It’s a must among music types as one of the best music showcases for up and coming, established and legendary musicians. It’s where many of my personal fav’s first showcased for the U.S. music industry (wolfmother, white stripes, mars volta) and also provides a forum for legendary acts re-kindling their rock star status (Devo, B-52’s, DeLaSoul).

But music is not the mission of this trip. This is a mission of SMILES. Smiles bigger than those that even the greatest Rock & Roll can provide. Smiles that the organization I work for has spent almost 26 years giving to children who otherwise would have no chance to laugh, speak, and yes sing.

This year as part of SxSW’s Interactive conferences Operation Smile will host SxSW SMILES, an Interactive, fund raising and awareness builder. On Monday 3/16 we’ll be featured in The Beacon Lounge sponsored by Beaconfire consultants which is a non-profit design firm. Beaconfire does really cool web applications and campaigns for some of the top non-profits (Heifer) and we are hoping to work together on some fun things like Blog Fundraising widgets and Facebook apps.

How did SxSW SMILES come about? In my 2 years at Operation Smile as Donor Relations roles I have longed for off-line, real life in person promotions. Ironically in my new role as Social Media Strategist; which is seemingly all “Virtual Donor Relations”, I realized a great opportunity to have Social Media drive old school promotions like you have for radio stations, products and bands. I researched opportunities that would provide a great test and have additional value. Enter SxSW!

While we will not be working with the music element of the festival, the attendees for Interactive and Film will be great to test the interactive “Makes Me Smile” concept as well as our SMS TEXT process. Plus, the workshops, networking and learning opportunities will be invaluable to help inform my position and bring new life to Operation Smile as we move into the “web 2.0” world.
Their boarding my plane now—more this afternoon when I arrive in the Lonestar state! (oh yeah-check out the SxSW SMILES Page www.operationsmile.org/sxsw)