Thanks to the Cheekd app, Bluetooth can now help you meet ‚ô° the love of your life ‚ô°

Sept. 20, 2016


Q: So for a person who downloads Cheekd, what can they expect?

A: In this age of tech we‚Äôre in, it‚Äôs rare for people to say ‚Äúhello‚ÄĚ to one another. You don’t really see singles picking each other up at bars anymore, which pretty much used to be the only way people were able to meet in New York City. People don’t speak on the subway, at the gym or in cafes. Everyone is constantly looking down at their phones to connect with people in the digital world even though there’s a real world right in front of us.

Walking down a New York City sidewalk is sometimes like playing dodge ball, and I feel people are missing opportunities because they‚Äôre not paying attention or simply looking up. The love of your life could be sitting right next to you, but you’ll never know if you’re too busy looking for Pokemon. If someone uses Cheekd and they’re staring down at his or her phone and the potential love of their life is behind them, there’ll be an immediate notification that another single is nearby. The app makes connections even if there’s no WiFi or cell signal, because it operates with a Bluetooth/ Beacon technology which works in a plane, a train… everywhere.

Q: If the Cheekd app gets misused, is there a way to block people? 

A: Yes. As a matter of fact, Apple’s App Store won’t even approve an app unless you provide your users with that option. On our first submission to Apple, we overlooked it and got rejected. After we fixed that, we resubmitted and got approved.

Lori Cheek SharkTank

Q: I love how you think outside the box. Have you always been creative?

A: My creativity has definitely been fruitful in building Cheekd. I’ve always been really creative. I was trained as an architect and before that I considered myself an artist and now I‚Äôm in the world of apps! I’ve always been kind of quirky, doing things in different ways, and I think it’s come in handy because I can get crafty when I need to tell the world what I’m up to, and on a shoestring budget. The way I’ve been able to get press coverage for example – I’ve been covered in publications every entrepreneur would dream of being in. I’ve been in Forbes multiple times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine and countless others. And none of this was through a PR company – these results are from my creatively telling a story, reaching out to journalists and doing kooky things to get people’s attention. With limited money to market, creativity is one of the easiest ways to get under a journalist’s nose.


Q: Is Cheekd on Android yet?

A: Not yet, but we’ll get there. We released a new version of Cheekd on August 10th and we’re just ironing some stuff out before we roll onto the other platforms.

Q: Can Cheekd users filter what notifications they get? How complex are the filters?

A: Yes, you set whether you’re looking for males, females or both, then you set your preferred age range, and you’re ready to go. We like simplicity in the filters because once you start filtering too much, it might be difficult to start making connections with people. Our app quickly lets you get active in meeting new people in real life with just a few preferences.


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Riley Johndonnell of UMeWe comments on Pantone’s new iPhone app

On August 2, 2016, Pantone LLC, the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards, announced the launch of PANTONE Studio, a new iOS app for the iPhone. This is its largest foray into digital solutions for creative industries.

For designers who love sharing work on social media, send ideas to clients or discuss color concepts with collaborators, PANTONE Studio gives palette sharing an easy-to-use interface and a whole new look. Palettes can be shared on social networks, like Instagram and Facebook, as well as via email with customized messages.

PANTONE Studio also provides a variety of formats for sharing colors and palettes, including incorporating the iconic Pantone chip as a solid and transparent overlay. Each shared color has the Pantone name and number, ensuring that those who love the color will know which one to use.

PANTONE Studio provides greater convenience in capturing Pantone color from the world around you, building and testing that color in palettes, and sharing work directly into design software, on social media, or with friends, clients, and collaborators.

Riley Johndonnell divine language of color

I asked Riley Johndonnell, the founder of Surface magazine, for his opinion on Pantone’s app.¬†He said:

“For decades, Pantone has been the universal translator for the divine language of color. The translator has become the Ambassador of Inspiration. The app breaks physical and economic borders. It opens a new world, a new paradigm for creatives to connect and transform reality. I collaborated with Pantone to create ‘INT-O Yellow’ (International Optimism Yellow) as a platform for artists to unite in creating works of art with the shared intent of generating positive social impact. We are now distributing color to artists: partial proceeds will raise funds and awareness for depression research and suicide prevention amongst artists. We are focused at changing Blight to Light. That’s Optimism in Action.”

Image credits: Riley Johndonnell

On the app’s launch day, Pantone svp and general manager Ron Potesky said ‚ÄúFifty-three years ago, Pantone was introduced as a standardized language to communicate specific colors in the print market. Pantone has become iconic and

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Life experiment: Can YOU take a break from tech 1 day out of the week EVERY WEEK, consistently?!

Tiffany Shlain Technology Shabbat
Shlain Future Starts Here series


Tiffany Shlain lectures worldwide on filmmaking, the internet’s influence on society, and what the future may bring in our ever-changing world. Invitations have come from Harvard, NASA, Twitter, The Economist Big Ideas conferences, Fortune 500 companies, The Ideas Festival, MIT, and TED events including TEDWomen, among others.

A sought-after keynote speaker known for inspiring presentations, Tiffany received a standing ovation from 11,000 people after she delivered the keynote address for UC Berkeley‚Äôs commencement ceremony in May 2010. She has had four films premiere at Sundance, including her acclaimed feature documentary, Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology, which The New York Times hailed as ‚ÄúIncredibly engaging‚Ķ Examining Everything From the Big Bang to Twitter.‚ÄĚ The US State Department selected Connected one of the films to represent America at embassies around the world for their 2012 American Film Showcase. Connected had an 11-city theatrical run, its TV broadcast premiere on PBS KQED, and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and all digital platforms.

Other highlights:

  • Honored by Newsweek as one of the ‚ÄúWomen Shaping the 21st Century‚ÄĚ
  • Founder of The Webby Awards
  • Co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences
  • Singled out by The New York Times, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and the Sundance Institute for her work using documentaries and internet distribution to engage audiences
  • Her films have won over 48 awards and distinctions including a 2012 Disruptive Innovation Award from The Tribeca Film Festival, and are known for their irreverent and profound unraveling of complex subjects like identity, technology, and science.

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Q: Hi Tiffany. It’s awesome getting to interview you on your latest body of work you let us preview. Of the films in this series, which one do you feel might resonate the strongest with the widest range of people, regardless of demographic? Technology Shabbat is the one I feel would do that.

Tiffany Shlain connected future starts hereA: Yes, I think what resonates is owning the fact that we can make these decisions, and reclaiming that. A lot of people say ‚ÄúWell, I already unplug on vacation.‚ÄĚ The thing is, vacations happen once or twice a year, and there is a difference between doing it every week versus once a year. The most recent technology Shabbat was just so great to hang out with my family, doing art projects and things. Plus I felt so relieved, it was fun. I‚Äôve been doing technology Shabbats every week for the last 3 and a half years, so now I run toward it, and they get sweeter and better. I have schedules for them, almost – I know if there are really fun things I want to focus on, I plan for those on Saturday.

In my talks, I like to mention how Einstein talked about motion and how time is relative, and the speeding up of time. I meant to include that in the film too, to let people know it‚Äôs possible to take one day and make it feel like it‚Äôs 4 days long, and then to feel so relaxed afterward. When my father died… that was profound. When someone close to you dies, you just think about time, all the time, how precious that is, and you can die at any moment. I didn‚Äôt need any neuroscience to tell me it wasn‚Äôt good to be that wired,

and to be increasingly distracted. And I was listening to myself. I think when someone dies, you really go deep into what life’s about, what you want in life, and how you want to be. I wanted to Рand needed to Рstop the distractions, the onslaught of data coming at me, just one day a week, because I also love the connectedness, I really do, but I knew it wasn’t good all the time.

Q: If someone asks you to demystify the long lines and the camping gear in front of Apple Stores before a major launch, what do you tell them? I have to thank you because Episode 5 (Participatory Revolution) resonated with me. After I watched, now I think I know why I chose tech “mania”¬†as a domain name. As you stated: We‚Äôre creative beings and we want to be part of the mix! It‚Äôs also wonderful to hear that the responses to A Declaration of Interdependence exceeded your expectations. I didn‚Äôt see that film, but tying it to the 4th of July was pretty brilliant.

A: Oh! You should see it. A Declaration of Interdependence is part of another film series we’re working on called Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change. Basically we do these collaborative films; we’ve made 3 and we’re just about to premiere our fourth one this December. They’re really fun. You can go to and see a lot. They’re a completely different way of making films that I’ve ever made. As for those overnight fans in front of stores, I don’t know РI think it’s cultural

I saw something on that slow-motion feature on the new iPhone the other day and I‚Äôm like, ‚ÄúI want it!‚ÄĚ And then there‚Äôs also the excitement factor of new, novel, fresh‚Ķ I think you can probably say that about anything new. We like new and shiny things, and yes, they‚Äôre also creative tools that allow us to try new things. So I think there‚Äôs a ‚Äėcult factor‚Äô (laughter) – I mean, I was into Apple products ever since I was a kid and I‚Äôve always been excited when something new comes out. I don‚Äôt always get it right away like the ones who camp out, but I think they‚Äôre passionately obsessed – they want to have the newest thing the second it comes out.

Q: What were some of your standout memories of doing A Declaration of Interdependence?

A: I mean, just the response, to be sitting in our film studios everyday, it was like I was directing from there! People being at their own locations shooting, and the power in building too, there was something very raw about that that came through in the footage.

Q: Was it easy to decide the order of appearance for the films?

A: We thought Technology Shabbat really showed the way I feel about technology, which is this love-hate relationship. With that film as the opener, we felt it would best set the stage for this series, in that I love technology, but I also worry about what it’s doing to us, and we need to be more mindful. And then the other films go in unexpected directions.

Q: As we move closer to the midpoint of this decade, have you experienced or heard of anything your instinct tells you might become the truly next big thing?

A: Yes, my 10-year-old daughter is coding in a visual coding environment named Tynker. I think that’s going to open up a huge number of people coding. And it’s visual! That’s exciting to me.

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Bonus video on global women leaders:

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What is


Q: What is

Daniele Mazzini: is a hashtag search/discovery engine. It’s free and gives you some basic analytics data too. It allows you to find which hashtags are the best ones for your goals. Cybranding’s Hashtag Intelligence is the paid hashtag tracking and analytics option. Hashtag Intelligence lets you get very detailed data and analyses about the hashtags you’re interested in – either because you are doing a campaign yourself, or because you want to piggyback on somebody’s else campaign.

Q: Let’s hear the backstory of how this all got started.

Daniele Mazzini:

In 2011, I had a different day job and a side project. The side project had a website, and I wanted to find ways to promote it through social media – this is how I discovered Twitter hashtags. Hashtags allow you to conduct and find interesting conversations on a topic on Twitter, so I went out looking for hashtags I should use to promote my new website… but I didn’t find any good way to do so! I found this world fascinating, and I came up with¬†an idea for¬†a useful and cool way and visual way to do¬†hashtag research. This is how the first version of was born – as a hobby project son of a side project. Lots of people found my free service useful, and hashtags started becoming more and more important. In 2013, I decided to try and create a business around this, so I improved, made it more professional-looking and added features, and then created a paid, in-depth analytics solution for marketers. You can visit and take a look. ūüôā Now we’re growing and I’m looking for bigger funding.

Q: Do you have any very visible ambassadors? If so, who?

Daniele Mazzini:

Well, some of our users are well-known on social and some of them like to talk about us, like Ann Smarty, Kim Garst, Kristi Hines, Kimberly Reynolds, Brandon Schaefer, and others.

influencers-access-buttonQ: Oh! I know Ann fairly well as well as the other names too. So what are some common misconceptions about your technology? As in, people thinking it will do X but it really doesn’t. In other words, where the user was mistaken.

Daniele Mazzini:

The biggest misconception is that we will automatically add hashtags to your tweets. This is something we don’t do, because it has a very high spammy risk. Another one is that sometimes people think we will do the analysis for them, but right now we only give a tool to do that – it’s up to you to use it. But, we’re also thinking about a project – a “hashtag university” to give suggestions and guidance.

Q: Let’s talk strategy. What are good ways to use your technologies?

Daniele Mazzini:

Let’s start with small businesses. Small businesses, especially if they have an internet presence, can benefit a lot by using hashtags. Hashtags are one of the most powerful ways to get yourself known without spending a lot. There are two basic strategies I advise small businesses to use:¬†One is to find relevant¬†hashtags in their field/niche and then create a list based on those. Then use them in relevant¬†tweets. For example, if you have a video editing service,¬†you should find out which hashtags are used by those interested in that field, and every time you have something interesting to share, use 1-3 hashtags that are relevant. And here’s how we help with that: Our technologies allow you¬†to find which hashtags are both relevant and popular enough. You start with¬†some keywords you think will¬†interest your target audience, then you search for those in to see how popular they are, what their trend is, and which other hashtags are related to them. ¬†You can further¬†narrow down to¬†come up¬†with a list of anywhere from 5-15 hashtags, depending on your field. Keep them in mind¬†and use them strategically.

The¬†second strategy is: When you’ve found your relevant hashtags,¬†you should try to understand who their top influencers are, and connect with them! Learn what they write about, retweet them, engage them. Also, try to find out which influencers aren’t too big and therefore¬†out of reach for you. ¬†Add¬†value to the conversation around the hashtag, keeping a special eye on the top influencers! This will require time, but it can have great payoffs. One of the best uses of our pro tool, Hashtag Intelligence, is that it makes it much easier to find and understand the influencers.

Tracking some specific hashtag campaigns, either by you or your competitors, is another use case,¬†but this usually doesn’t apply to small businesses. Launching a hashtag of your own usually requires too many resources.

Q: Does your technology work on Facebook? I heard Facebook uses hashtags now, as well as Instagram. I have accounts on both Facebook and Instagram but I don’t use those platforms much at all and have never hash tagged anything on¬†them.

Daniele Mazzini:

Hashtags are VERY useful on Instagram, but that’s not so true on Facebook at the moment. For now, we only analyze hashtags from Twitter as we continue to work on¬†adding Instagram and Facebook. But for the most part, what’s trending on one platform will often be¬†trending in others. So you can still use to find relevant hashtags for Instagram. Of course, there are some hashtags which¬†are specific to one¬†platform, such as Twitter¬†chat hashtags. Those don’t belong on Instagram. But there’s¬†a lot of cross-pollination and interesting usage between all the platforms. For example, #igers, which means “Instagrammers” has a¬†Twitter popularity score of¬†63 out of 100. If you want to see what’s popular now, visit¬†

This has been interesting. Thanks so much Dan.

Here’s a promo video about¬†the pro tool:


What is Thunderclap? A tool with thunderous impact!


Update: Sept 2018:

Thunderclap is now defunct, not because of a lack of users. They had plenty. Facebook imposed new rules which had major negative effects on Thunderclap. So major that it was senseless for them to carry on. Our 2014 interview with its founder is below, for posterity.

May 4, 2014: A few weeks ago, Thunderclap won top honor at the International Andy Awards, taking home the “Grandy”. In 2013, they won the first-ever Cannes Innovation Lion Award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2012, Forbes said Thunderclap was the future of social empowerment. What is Thunderclap, you ask? It lets you build a large (or even massive) support campaign for anything you care about. Then, in one dramatic moment, all your messages are blasted out to social media. Think of the impact of a very loud thunderclap heard in a storm – you can hear one for miles. That’s where the name comes from. I spoke with the founder and CEO of Thunderclap, David Cascino, and what I heard floored me.

Alex H. Yong: How did you come up with the idea for Thunderclap?

David Cascino: Thunderclap‘s story began with¬†my frustrations with the SOPA/PIPA issues from a few years ago. For those who don’t remember, it was about the government’s plan to make a law that would let them¬†shut down any website at any time, anywhere, just by issuing a court order. They could literally make a¬†site go dark, with no trial, no due process, no committee, nothing. “Suspicion” was reason enough for a website to be shut down. There was a lot of outcry from people in the tech industry, myself included. I remember I¬†felt so strongly about it and how I was sharing¬†to social media, trying to get others to rally against it. I actually called my elected representatives for the first time in my life. I remember speaking to staffer after staffer, feeling like I was speaking into a void no matter what I did.

I thought: Who’s going to listen to one person?

Then one day I went for a walk near Zuccotti Park, the famous park in the Occupy Wall Street saga, and I experienced something called the human megaphone, which I’d never seen before. The purpose of the human megaphone is to counteract the law that says you can’t have a bullhorn, megaphone or PA system unless you can get a permit from the city. Well, Mayor Bloomberg wanted the Occupy protesters out of Zuccotti Park, so there was no way they were going to get a permit. So they borrowed a technique from the nuclear war protests where someone would stand up on a high point¬†to¬†speak, and everyone that could hear would repeat what was said¬†word-for-word, and then everyone behind them would repeat it. The words¬†would ripple through the park maybe three or four times until the message could be heard by the entire park, loudly and clearly, powered solely by human voices – no¬†technical amplification at all. Watching this stopped me dead in my tracks.

It was like getting punched in the face. I couldn’t stop watching.

I realized there wasn’t a way for people to rally around a message and amplify it online all at the same time. As a developer and long-time technologist, I got really excited about an¬†idea I had, which eventually became Thunderclap. I went straight home and started working on a prototype, first checking if something similar¬†had been built already,¬†and didn’t find anything. I also spent time researching the technical side, to see¬†if there were any limitations with the APIs in social media sites which¬†might¬†obstruct¬†the entire project. Again, I didn’t find anything. At that moment, I realized there was an opportunity to create something powerful which¬†people could use to band together around a message. ¬†From there I joined an incubator and within three months, we launched.

Alex H. Yong: How were the early days after launching?

David Cascino: We were lucky enough to get a few early adopters with decent followings to do beta testing. Within a week of launching, one of the first users we got to help was Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone journalist. Within 24 hours, he had 500 supporters, and by the end of the week he had almost 2,000. We were so excited because it worked, and people were using it! We blasted out all of Matt Taibbi’s messages on Twitter – because at the time we were only on Twitter – and a few hours later, I got an email from Twitter – It said¬†they revoked our API token! Yeah, they shut us down.

As you can imagine, we went from feeling all sorts of excitement to being shut down by Twitter Рall within one week.

We got up and running on Facebook as soon as we could, and shortly after, our discussions with Twitter began. We wanted them to tell us what we were doing wrong, what changes we could make to get back in, because we definitely wanted to be on Twitter. It took about a month of back and forth through emails, trying to hone in on what specific terms we were violating, if any. We wanted them to know we were ready¬†to¬†modify our side of things to comply with their TOS. It took some¬†time, but Twitter’s Trust and Safety team eventually saw the good in what we were doing and gave us our access back.

Alex H. Yong: I heard the White House uses Thunderclap –¬†I need to hear more¬†about that!

David Cascino: Yes, the White House called us a few weeks after we launched, wanting to know more about¬†our concept. Our hopes got up because they took notice and we felt they were going to run a campaign, but nothing happened for months. We kept following up with them, including pointing out new features¬†and interesting campaigns. One week I was in D.C. for meetings and emailed the White House to let them know I was in town. I didn’t hear back for days, but on the Friday I was scheduled to head back to New York, I got an email from their digital strategy team asking if there was any way I could stop by! I changed my ticket, headed¬†over and gave my presentation, which included a feature they had been asking about. I showed them the new feature and they were really excited.

Within three days, the White House was up and running on Thunderclap.

Even better, the GSA (Government Services Administration) heard about us¬†and asked if we could amend our TOS to be more compatible with the federal government. We went through a long process to create a separate TOS for government clients, which then unlocked Thunderclap for all the different government agencies. Since then, we’ve seen FEMA run a campaign, and the Ad Council in conjunction with some government agencies ran one about drunk driving. A few months ago, we had a meeting with the FBI down in D.C. about using¬†Thunderclap for missing children and capturing fugitives.

It’s definitely taken a life of its own. It’s such a simple platform, but at the end of the day, it’s a tool. ¬†The real excitement comes from how people are using¬†Thunderclap – We’re¬†always amazed at the creative concepts our¬†users apply to it. We’re just trying to create a simple way to¬†organize people to¬†amplify a message.

Alex H. Yong: Thunderclap isn’t dominated by politics, is it?

David Cascino: No, we see¬†lots¬†of campaigns created around medical and environmental causes, even crowdfunding projects. And now we’re seeing more and more entertainment-based campaigns. W magazine used Thunderclap to engage with social media users about¬†who should appear on the cover for their 20th anniversary. People magazine¬†used us in conjunction with their famous “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. ¬†Blake Shelton, country music star¬†and judge on The Voice used Thunderclap to announce his tour dates. We’re seeing content from all across the spectrum! Politics, as you can imagine, are well-suited for Thunderclap because when people are passionate about a certain issue, they want to raise the most awareness about it.

Alex H. Yong: To be clear, users need to drum up support and hit a minimum, is that right?

David Cascino: Our minimum goal is 100 supporters. If you don’t hit 100, your messages don’t go out. It’s hard to predict what people will respond to. In our queue where we can see each¬†campaign, we sometimes see clients¬†with large followings not get the support we guessed¬†they¬†would, and conversely, an individual person might receive an amazing amount of supporters.

If you think about it, Thunderclap is low-risk. It takes 5 minutes to set up and it’s a simple way to find out if your content resonates with people or not. If it does, great; if it doesn’t, you can try another idea. We’ve seen a big uptick in the amount of crowdfunding enthusiasts using our site to vet an idea before they go ahead and do a concerted crowdfunding effort. To do a successful crowdfunding campaign takes months of preparation. You need to create a really compelling video, you have to figure out what your rewards will be for different tiers – It’s a lot of work.¬†Thunderclap is low-risk compared to that. We¬†can help you get¬†a sense¬†if anyone cares about your issue, meaning, does the world want the thing you’re trying to create or promote? Is it even interesting? One vivid¬†example is Dave Hakkens and Phonebloks,
Dave PhoneBloks
the modular phone. When we first saw it on our site, we thought it was kind of cool but within 24 hours, 100,000 people had supported it. It struck a chord none of us expected! ¬†By the end of the Phonebloks campaign, Dave had 950,000 people link their Twitter or Facebook accounts to it. We were blown away that it skyrocketed. The day Dave’s¬†Thunderclap¬†was blasted out, Motorola announced they’d be partnering with him¬†to bring his vision to life! ¬†Project Ara, as it’s known, was amazed that one guy got a million people to express enthusiasm in a concept phone. It was a remarkable match because here they were with their skunkworks prototype, and here was Dave with¬†a large,¬†target audience. I’m blown away by these types of stories.

One person really can spark a massive groundswell of interest.

Alex H. Yong: Yes, that’s amazing – and it’s a far cry from the day you felt it was hard for one person to make a difference. I’m thinking the Thunderclap story might make a good indie film or something. Tell me more! I can’t get enough.

David Cascino: Another amazing moment is¬†when I see some of my personal heroes supporting and making Thunderclap campaigns. For example, ¬†Lawrence Lessig, the IP attorney known for his role in setting up Creative Commons, popped up on our radar a few times. I knew about¬†his work with regard to campaign finance reform, an issue I care strongly about personally. Well it turned out his Thunderclap involved¬†a rally and march down the state of New Hampshire. The walk¬†was set to begin¬†in Dixville Notch and end in Concord. ¬†Along the way, random people would join the march like¬†Ben Cohen from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. I said “I wanna do this!” So I packed my son and wife in the car and drove up to New Hampshire on a Friday¬†night to join Lawrence’s march and speak with him in-person. It was great – we ended up walking a few hours discussing the things we’re passionate about. Now we’re actually collaborating on a new project, and he mentioned it¬†in one of his recent¬†TED talks. It was cool to get his thoughts on the idea – and now his support.

Alex H. Yong: I’m thrilled I got the opportunity to speak with you. This has truly been amazing David. Thank you!

To watch Thunderclap’s¬†video, click here to scroll to the top¬†of this article


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Exactly what is a “mastermind group”?

If you could get an answer you need in minutes instead of hours (or days!), which would you pick? People helping people: Informal but powerful

Harry Hawk: Hello, we’re here with Alex Yong, a journalist and a watcher of all things public relations 2.0. Alex, can you tell us what a “mastermind group” is?

Alex Yong: It’s basically people sharing what they know freely and openly. That collaboration then becomes one mind, a mastermind – and everybody has access to it if you keep records. The big advantage is the ability¬†to get an answer or suggestion in minutes instead of wasting hours. It’s a Napoleon Hill concept but you can modify it as you see fit.

Harry Hawk: How large is the group you’re talking about and how often does it meet?

Alex Yong: The group is around 90 or so people and one of the founders compares it to a water cooler. There‚Äôs no schedule, whoever‚Äôs around can use it, and there‚Äôs a lot of serendipity to that. I like that there‚Äôs no schedule. Some people tend to pop in when they need answers, and while that’s not ideal, we don’t judge. However, we do prefer actively getting to know each other. Many masterminds are small; some have just 5 or 6 people. Ours happens to be large. We don’t “hold each other accountable”, as done in small masterminds. If individuals wish to do that privately, they certainly can.
Alex Yong loves knowledge mastermind groups

Harry Hawk: Does it meet online or face-to-face?

Alex Yong: We meet on Skype! But if you happen to hit it off with somebody locally, there’s no rule against meeting up in person. We’re very coast to coast. We even have members in Canada, Scotland, Japan, Israel, Brazil and elsewhere, but mainly the lower 48 states.

Harry Hawk: Is it sponsored by anybody? Do you have to pay to join? How does your group work and how did you find them?

Alex Yong: There’s no centralized body, and the group’s creator doesn’t and hasn’t EVER¬†charged a fee or anything like that. I’m unsure how the group has grown because by the time I joined there were more than¬†60 members. I found out about it through Gail Gardner of Growmap. Gail is an award-winning small business consultant with a high-traffic blog and tremendous internet experience. She explained that it‚Äôs a Skype-based mastermind. There‚Äôs no sponsor. Also ‚ÄĒ we have no rules against hiring or firing or cooperating with whomever you choose to network with. It’s very hands-off, I’d say.

Harry Hawk: What do you like best about it?

Alex Yong: I’m blown away by all the granular expertise that I see being exchanged in the room. While a lot of the high-level technical talk flies over my head, I’m helping maintain¬†a library of as many terms as I encounter, whether those terms are high-tech or “martech” or specific tools. What’s said on Skype can have an ephemeral feel, even though Skype allows you to scroll back. Even so, you’ll see friendly chatter to sort through, and that makes maintaining the library necessary – for all the ‘businessy’ content minus the friendly chatter. It’s really the only way to negate that impermanent feel. The library exists on the app Trello. If you don’t want to use or even take a look at our Trello library, that’s perfectly fine! You can just stick with the chat.

Harry Hawk: It sounds like everything’s conducted through the Skype IM module as opposed to Skype video chat is that right?

Alex Yong: Yes, that‚Äôs correct. Many people forget that Skype has the convenient IM module. They hear “Skype” and they immediately think “video”! That’s a bit of a branding challenge that Skype faces, in my opinion – it’s more than what people think it is. In fact, it’s the typing which makes everything feel so quick and “mercurial” yet helpful. Skype rooms rock. Good ones turn into communities. If you haven’t been in a Skype room before, you have no clue what you’re missing.

Harry Hawk: Would you give us one more example of how it’s helped you personally?

Alex Yong: It’s opened my mind for sure. Before I joined, I already knew that I don’t know everything. No one person can, honestly, and the mastermind is a great reminder of¬†that, that there’s so much to learn. It increases my appetite for learning.

Harry Hawk

Harry Hawk: That’s a fantastic answer, Alex. One last question. Has it helped you gain any confidence in the knowledge that you already have?

Alex Yong: Yes, I’m happy to bring my unique views and experiences to the table. I’ve become a good person to direct certain questions to, especially if the questions are about PR, due to my interactions with the broad PR world. I can bring perspectives to the group that others might not be able to.

Harry Hawk: Please tell everybody where they can find you.

Alex Yong: Absolutely, I’m on Twitter as @SocialAlex¬†and I’m on LinkedIn too.

Harry Hawk of is a social and digital marketer focused on hospitality, community and technology.

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