Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama and the Rise of Network Marketing

If you followed the media coverage surrounding the Obama Campaign in 2008, you may be very familiar with alot of the innovations that were engaged by the campaign as a means of building and fueling the movement.

Early in the Primary, the Obama Campaign engaged Social Media as a vehicle for spreading its message. In the end, Barack Obama had over 200,000 Twitter followers that were granted access to the campaign on a daily basis. Obama's people obviously were behind the messages, but regardless of the author it had the desired effect.

Obama's handlers also created a My Space page and created podcasts called the Obamacast to reach internet savvy voters. The campaign also created a You Tube channel for Obama to send video content coupled with the radio casts of Obamacast. It is fair to say that the marketing and branding of Obama went viral throughout all mediums.

All of these strategies created network-envy by many Network Marketing firms. The example set by Obama Campaign has infleunced the new paradigm of social media in the area of Network Marketing and the ranks are growing and growing fast.

The current economic crisis has caused thousand of middle-aged Americans left without job security. The fear is that if they should lose their job that they may never again be able to re-enter the workforce at the saem level the left. The jobs simply may not be there and there are millions of younger workers entering the market as well. The lessons of job placement that we learned almost twenty years ago may very well have been some of these Americans first exposure to the rhelm of networking.

Fact is we are all in Network Marketing. We recommend movies, food finds, tech, cell phones, etc all the time to our friends and co-workers. These very well may have been direct one on one in the past, but today we have Facebook, Twitter, My Space, LinkedIn, Digg, and now Google Friends Connect that reach hundreds if not thousands of friends where we can spread our opinions. Of course, we also have Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad etc for blogging as well which also creates a network of like blogs. For example, this blog belongs to a community of political blogs known as Blognetnews.com.

The movement filling the ranks of Network Marketing is currently one of the largest the industry has experienced. These companies have had a track record of excelling during economic downturns and many Americans are leveraging the lesson of the Obama Campaign and using the opportunity to position themselves for the future.

Network Marketing or MLM has been afforded one of those great little opportunities to undergo a facelift of sorts as it has modernized and not only levraged the lessons of the campaign but also the technology that drove the Obama Campaign to just market penetration. It has opened a window to connectivity and the power of interaction and relationship like no other.

You have thousands of Obama volunteers who have remained connected beginning to move into the business of Networking, whether via the internet or with some of the most reputable firms in the industry. Even in the midst of uncertain times, you will find public companies like Tupperware (TUP), Herbalife (HLF), Avon and Nuskin (NUS) continuing to thrive as their ranks grow. In fact, Warren Buffet's firm owns the network marketing company Pampered Chef. One important aspect also is the growth overseas that the popular Obama campaign has ignited throughout the world. Places like Europe and the Far East are witnessing tremendous growth in all catagories within the Network Marketing community.

The question is really why? We are programmed to think that during such economic times as these and the fear that it often creates that people would be less willing to enter a new enterprise or endeavor, but the numbers simply just are not bearing that out.

There is a revolution it seems taking root with regard to this model. People are not as confident in the old brick and mortar, retail manufacturing model of the last forty years now that they are witnessing major companies like Circuit City and others declaring bankruptcy resulting in 30,000 jobs nationwide being lost. We have witnessed Banking and Insurance companies fail in the last four months and people are asking just when the other shoe is going to drop and whether it may be their industry.

Obama's election certainly may have been historical in November, but the means by which his campaign implemented could just be revolutionizing an entire industry that many over the years have not been willing to embrace wholeheartedly.

More to follow.

Keith Olbermann: Man of the Past

Keith Olbermann is either the modern version of the lonely traveler given his career path of being affiliated with every network from CNN, ESPN(ABC), FOX and now of course MSNBC or simply has a knack for rubbing folks he works with the wrong way. I suspect given his platitudes its the latter.

It is apparent to me that Countdown is faced with an anchor who shaped a program by being the antagonist of George Bush and the Republican Administration in general and now that those folks have left town, Olbermann is faced with virtually nothing but living in the past.

Question for Mr. Olbermann. Why is it exactly if the premise was to remind Americans of the sacrifices being made on the ground in Iraq by American troops have you stopped your counter of lives lost in Iraq or even continued with the number of days since victory was declared by President Bush? Why if it was not simply a political ploy have you stopped?
Why is it you saw fit not to even bother conering the Iraqi elections? Something if we recall Mr. Olbermann advocated would never happen peacefully during the period of the Surge in Iraq.

Instead, Mr. Olbermann has moved on to what kind of topics? Oh weel, Sarah Palin's daughter and her baby. It kinda makes you think that Olbermann has a rear view mirror attached to his forehead and is constantly seeing things not from the present view but from a dynamic that was shifted away from with Obama's election.

Its as if Olbermann is man without a country. He really has no one other than Bill O'Reilly or maybe Rush Limbaugh to cast his antagonist sword upon. He certainly would not do so against such deserving folks as Charlie Rangel, Barney Franks, Chris Dodd, or any of the cabinet members that have embarrassed the President. Well, except the former Commerce selection who removed himself from consideration and was fodder for Olbermann but he never said a peep about Bill Richardson the first Commerce selection.

First the content dries up and then the ratings follow.

Focusing your show on Sarah Palin and other GOP likelies for 2012 is rather ridiculous given all that we are experiencing today within the nation, but of course when you have no solutions other than shutting down GITMO as the poster policy for fighting the War on Terrorism and simply want at every turn to rehash torture the medium becomes rather predictable and boring.

Seriously, I wonder if Countdown will last or simply be replaced by another format in the coming year. Maddow has to be kicking Olbermann's hind parts in the ratings. Olbermann is living in the past but then I wonder what is left for the guy who seems to have burned bridges throughout his career.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Government at Work?

Politics aside, the manner in which our government is performing during this crisis is a travesty. Washington has forgotten about the People. Calling for transparency is not the same thing as demanding transparency.

The Bush administration was highly criticized, and rightfully so at times, for its disregard for the process of concensus or even open dialogue with the manner in which it was leading and yet not in less than a month we have a Congress controlled by those who were the ones throwing out those targeted criticisms behaving like school kids on the playground who had their lunch money taken.

We are not talking about just any appropriations bill. We are talking 780+ billion dollars, that by all accounts will be considerably higher given alot of the items in it will not simply be funding with just one round of funding.

First Lady Michelle Obama once was blasted for making the comment that "this is the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country" back during the campaign in 2008.

Well Mrs. Obama:

I am proud of my country for electing your husband President.
I am proud of my country for having a woman selected as a running mate, again
I am proud of my country for not permitting another domestic terrorist attack since 9/11
I am proud of my country for its efforts to combat disease in the world, especially Africa
I am proud of my country for coming to the realization concerning dependence on foriegn oil
I am proud of my country for respecting States Rights
I am proud of my country for its resolve in the War on Terror
I am proud of my country for its part in bringing free Iraqi Elections (even if not covered by the mainstream media)
I am proud of my country for believing in the importance of community
I am proud of my country and its military families who sacrifice on our behalf

Never in my adult life have I ever questioned my love for this country or love for what this country stands for regardless of who or what Party controlled the White House until now.

I am ashamed of Washington. I am ashamed with what Washington has come to represent. This has become more about Democrats or Republicans and not about the the millions of Americans who stand in the shadows and whose future is at stake.

While I certainly do not fault President Obama for the actions of his Party in Congress, I can't help but wonder if he is not feeling like the warden trying to get control of the inmates running the asylum in Washington.

Obama arrived with great promise to Washington, but I fear that his own Party may do more to undermine a legacy that has yet to be realized because of its own inability to follow his lead and example.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shameful Time in American History

The promise delivered in November and joys of progress from a social perspective has faded amidst the reality of Congressional politics and a clash of economic theories.

Its shameful. There is no other word to describe the situation in Washington. Those of us who are children of those of the Greatest Generation and those that lived through the Great Depression should be ashamed at what we have allowed to transpire in Washington and what many there would have our nation transform into.

It would be amusing if it were not tragic the way in which these Congressman have levied attack upon the business community and capatalism in general and act as if they have not been party to it all in the first place.

Congress, of course, is the legislative arm of this democracy and unless any of these business executives actually violated the law then how about Congress shut up and get on with the doing the peoples business. Congress granted bailout money with ZERO strings and now act as if they were not responsible. Congress has been the constant enabler of this crisis for the last five years and ignored the signs and the testimony brought forth before it regarding the warning signs.

Remember when Congress was warned of Fannie and Freddie back in 2002? All the players are still there folks and now act as if they were not copable in any of the consequences to the economy and housing in general. Fact is, they still remain apologists for these institutions in the face of complete failure.

Congress wants to play games with business execs salaries and lifestyles, but I wonder are they going to return all the money that they have contributed to them over the years? Smoke and mirrors folks. Congress is making those CEO's whose companies have filed bankruptcy, the Circuit City's, the S&K's, or Linens & Things out to be good guys because they did not get government bailout money and yet the reason behind the Banking community dipping into tax payer money is a direct result in the failure of government.

Government is not involved in the retail, restaurant and many other industries directly, but it IS INVOLVED with Banking. Banks are so closely aligned with government that they trade its debt. Banks are regulated by the government more so than any other industry save maybe the insurance industry. In short they are symbiotic of the problem. The people causing the economic crisis are the ones telling us they know how to fix it.

Instead of telling the nation how or how much it is going to take to restart the economy, these officials want to call out business professionals for earning extravagent salaries. So whats changed? These CEO's come from the same schools, the same backgrounds as many of these Congressman and have worked their way up the Corporate ladder for decades and all along everyone accepted the conditions of the free market with regard to compensation. Where was the outrage in years past?

The result of having the government step in to take control of pay and compensation is to completely undermine the notion that you Graduate Schools are further neccessary. Afterall, why to we need the Wharton School of Business or other Ivy league programs if the government is going to be granted to powers to dictate compensation levels. What ever happened to performance?

Some of these Banks that opted for the bailout had some really profitable units and divisions. Are the workers of those units not to be compensated for their efforts because collectively the whole was forced to accept bailout money. Remember, did not some banks get funds they did not ask for?

It seems to me we give Congress our tax dollars every year and they never manage to spend it properly and yet continue to vote themselves pay raises. Heck some of these guys do not even pay taxes. Could you imagine if the public demanded the kind of oversight that these Congressman suddenly are demanding, and yet never put into the bailout particulars last Fall.

Are these company Executives scoundrels? Maybe. But the government once again failed to provide oversight and now want to cry foul. Sound familiar? They are using the outrage of bonus money not paid to the CEO's but to the employees at all levels of the company as a soap bax against the free market.

Hey Congress, just think about those bonus payouts as a stimulus check to those folks. maybe they will go out and spend some money in the economy. Buy a new car or buy a new home. Whats the difference; its OUR money anyway and not yours and is no different than what you have planned in the current stimulus bill.

If these CEO's broke any laws, by all means prosecute them but Congressional grandstanding is shameful.

Folks, we have a government in place today that does not subscribe to business cycles and thinks that it can create a system where there will never be recessions or even a depression. When in fact the solutions they offer to prevent these cycles is something that takes us further and further away from what we know as the American System. Our nation is imperfect as are our business cycles, but the solution that they are creating in Washington makes us look less like the America our fathers defended in World War II and more like those nations we opposed.

We are entering down a path that makes it very hard to look at anyone over 75 in the eye without a level of shame.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Sen. Mark Warner is making the case for McDonnell

While President Barack Obama is learning very quickly there is a big difference between campaigning and leading, other newly elected Virginia officials are getting their own reality check of accountability.

Last November, Virginians across this great Commonwealth went to the polls and filled the ranks of the Democrat majority in Congress. Voters wanted change and demanded action. Apparently, many of those newly elected officials have sought to stay well below the radar on the current debate over the 800 billion plus Stimulus package.

The question is why?

I have been emailing constantly this week and talking on the phone with conservatives and moderates with both Party affiliations and there is trouble brewing. Many of the so-called independents and moderates that got behind Democrat candidates here in the Commonwealth are frustrated by the silence by these leaders before the passage of the stimulus bill.

Yes silence. Is this leadership?

While the majority of the folks I have talked to are not holding any ill will toward President Obama over the issue of the bill, they are placing accountability directly on the Congressional delegation. There is hardly a whisper from any people like Sen. Mark Warner regarding the bill proposal.

Senator Warner was elected overwhelmingly by the people in November in large part because of his proven business background and what many would call "savvy". A majority of independents and moderate conservatives went to the polls and cast their ballots for him thinking during these economic times he would be a voice in Congress. I think that the idea was that Warner would be a voice on these issues as Sen Jim Webb had been on defense-related and military concerns during his first year in the Senate.

Instead, Sen. Mark Warner has been silent.

In fact all that we can get out of the Senate regarding Warner's view of the stimulus is from Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) who stated:

"Warner 's a former Governor, so he gets it."

Nelson, known to rally moderates, reached out to Warner apparently to solidifly and consolidate support for the package amongst Democrats. However, Warner himself has failed to step up and provide any direction or thoughts regarding this bill. He certainly has the confidence of his peers regarding his background.

Sen. Warner is a member of the following Committees:

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Rules and Administration

People who make the arguement that he is just a freshman Senator fail to underatand the impact Sen. Webb made in 2007. Warner has chosen to sit in the shadows of this major peice of legislation, while having the background to provide much needed experience to this debate.

Instead, Sen. Warner appears posied to go along with the club and that is what has gotten so many whom supported him a bit angry. I believe that frankly Sen. Warner is not confident that this bill meets the premise that it was set out to and he knows it. Otherwise, why is he not out there using his popularity on behalf of the Democrat Party to rally people behind the bill?

I compare Warner's silence to Eric Cantor's (R-VA-7th House) outright vocal objections to many of the funding parameters in the bill when it came out of the House. While I may not agree with all of Cantor's views, at the very least he is out there making his case. Why is not Sen. Warner making the case for the Stimulus package?

All these issues regarding the inability for the Democrats to take secure possession of leadership in the last month is merely just a continuation of what we have seen since 2006 with Congress. The Democrats have the majority to pass this legislation and should do so if that is what they believe they should do. They have constantly referenced the fact that the voters spoke in November, and yet they still cannot seem to manage as of yet to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate where they realistically do not require support of the Republicans.

I get the fact that the Democrats have relished the role of antagonist the entire second term of George Bush, but they have the Leadership now and they need to Lead and simply stop talking about the power they have been given and actually put it to use and let the chips fall where they may.

Nobody said that governance or leadership was not risky. The Democrats if required to do so should go this one alone if they are confident in what they are delivering to the nation. If they are not, then maybe they should tweak the bill and get rid of the programs that will not stimulate jobs the first 12 months and come back to those through normal appropriations.

Here in Virginia, we have our Attorney General stepping down to prepare for his bid for Governor at about the same time people are beginning to have a bit of buyers remorse with the Congressional delegation. Bob McDonnell has already embedded his campaign with a network leveraged through the social media and is taking a page directly out of the Obama campaign playbook and has begun to build upon his own popularity. Republicans and moderate Democrats like McDonnell and have seen his leadership first hand over the years in the Assembly and the Executive. He is reaching out to those blue dog conservatives and moderates at a time when the candidates they supported in November have been silent to the current crisis before our nation as well as our State.

The media makes a big deal about the "mo factor" of politics. Well this Stimulus package debate has brought that "mo" to a streaking halt for those down ballot of Barack Obama in November. The last two weeks has left many a Virginian scratching their head at the very time that Bob McDonnell is beginning to carry his message to the people.

McDonnell's potential opposition in the Fall is still very much up in the air, but recent polling has McDonnell leading all three of the potential nominees from the Democrats. One polling has McDonnell and Brian Moran within the margin of era, but given the last year and what the State GOP has experienced I think many are still considering that to be a very good sign.

The Democrats here in Virginia need something to reignite the "mo" that seems to have evaporated and maybe this Stimulus package will do the trick once it gets through the Senate but Virginian will have to see some of the benefits rather quickly or the Congressional delegation is playing right into the McDonnell's campaigns hands.

Afterall, Virginia is made up of more independents and moderates and even Republicrats than Liberals or Social Conservatives and these folks decide election in Virginia.

Virginians need to ask themselves, just where in the world Sen. Mark Warner has been during this debate. Many of his supporters, including this voter, would certainly like to know.