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Everything but your company. Why? No one cares. Where is the you?

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders kicked off the morning at Reno-Tahoe WordCamp on June 12, 2010 with a keynote address: “There Is No Plug-in For Awesome (And the only tool here is you)”.  He stressed the importance of bringing your own voice and passion into the way you project your business or blog. It is not always the way the latest and greatest functionality or plug-in on your site looks, what the tabs say or how they are positioned, but the material and audience in which your site reaches. He validated a great point which many of us try to avoid, and it is stressing “Everything but your company. Why? No one cares. Where is the you?” Sometimes it is as little as stepping back to acknowledge what you bring to the company or blog, which makes it unique.

Lacking slides Mann stressed simplicity and flexibility, without them we stress about the small things that lead up to what really matters. Although I had to laugh at his reasoning which was “Slides are like ski poles. You know who needs poles, children and professionals.” Coming from a professional ski background I would like to opt for slides, but they are by no means a crutch. With heavy emphasis on caring intensely about what you do and what you do different than the competition Mann explained that it is very difficult to be the next TechCrunch, instead your should focus on a niche. This carried very well into my presentation at WordCamp which was on Building a niche community with BuddyPress.

BuddyPress is a social networking platform/ plug-in that works with WordPress to create a community or add one to your content driven website. I gave a brief tour of BuddyPress and what it is like out of the box, how it can be customized, disguised and optimized. Although it is a social networking platform, it’s NOT Facebook, and it is not going to be Facebook. Thus the importance of focusing on a niche and providing elements such as content that Facebook cannot do.

MYTHbuild it and they will come…

Be Different, BuddyPress can be leveraged to build your own brand and community. I emphasize the importance of design; people should not know your site is built with BuddyPress.  There are some websites such as Hmag, Irrational Games, GigaOM and Vivanista that do this very nicely. Although design is very important, it is not the only thing to focus on. You cannot just build it and they will come. Providing visitors with something unique, a niche focus, something they will not find elsewhere is how you will captivate and build a community. To validate my point, I Lead by Example and walked people through my companies website Vivanista, a community for philanthropic living and giving. Some of the key customizations we did were to the navigation, profiles, login and widgetized design.

A few other things to keep and grow your user base:

  1. Make it Sticky
  2. Make it Social
  3. Make it Easy

Watch the 20 minute video from WordPress.TV:

View presentation slides:

View more presentations from Annie Vranizan.

Photos by Calvert Photgraphy, To see more photos from the event and learn more about WordCamp check out

Join me this Saturday June 12th 2010 for a full day of WordPress at the University of Nevada, Reno.

If you asked me a year ago what WordPress was I would have told you it was a blogging platform. Little did I know that I would quickly become a savvy WordPress user and ambassador.  I have a love-hate relationship with WordPress and it comes from the countless hours I have logged playing, hacking, tweaking it and learning along the way. I know too much to be your average user and I know too little to be a developer, but it doesn’t stop me from dabbling in code, testing out new plug-ins and contributing to the WordPress community.

Working closely with Colin Loretz, last fall we built one of the most robust BuddyPress sites, Vivanista blends webzine, blog and social networking with an assortment of plug-ings and widgets to engage a niche community of philanthropic women. You could say that I am more than intimately close to Vivanista, in that I spend most my days in the dashboard publishing articles, images, events, managing the community, integrating advertising, social media and optimizing the site design and development. I also run my own blog on WordPress and have set several friends up with there own WordPress sites.

Now less than a year after my introduction to WordPress I am going to be talking about building a community with BuddyPress. I will be discussing the many benefits of using BuddyPress, how it has evolved, which plug-ins I recommend, as well as the trials and tribulations along the way.

What I am going to tell you is that WordPress is a chameleon; it is not just a blogging platform. It is a language, a business tool, content management system, community platform, e-commerce site, full of plugins, waiting to be shaped and designed however you wish it to be. In a geeky kind of way I can say WordPress is a dangerous and fun tool, which can be harnessed to change the world.

I want to extend the opportunity for others to learn about WordPress and how you too can leverage it in your everyday life and business. Join me this Saturday June 12th 2010 for a full day of WordPress at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Just What is WordCamp About?

The Reno-Tahoe WordCamp is an event put on by the community, for the community. Organized by Reno Collective this one day conference brings together casual users and developers from all over the country to learn more about what WordPress has to offer to become even better communicators, designers, developers, journalists and marketers.

For developers and designers, it’s a great opportunity to learn new tips and tricks. For writers and bloggers it’s an informative source for improving copy, increasing search engine optimization, incorporating social media and understanding how your site can be tweaked- and for everyone, it’s fantastic for meeting others who are working in your field. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran on the net or a complete newbie, you can get a lot out of it.

What to Expect?

The event brings together people from non-profits, small business, news organizations, and local agencies, as well as many independent developers and designers. The first 150 attendees will receive a limited run of the Reno-Tahoe WordCamp shirt that was designed for us by Diego Sabogal and printed by Reno Envy. Register here >>

The day will kick off with a keynote from Merlin Mann, There Is No Plugin For Awesome (And the only tool here is you). Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster based in San Francisco. Merlin created 43 Folders, co-hosts You Look Nice Today, appears on MacBreak Weekly, and speaks and consults about things like email, time & attention, and creative work. Through his work in 43Folders Merlin been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Time Magazine and has also been tapped to present to tech giants such as Apple, Google and Yahoo.
The day will be broken up into two tracks for Community & Business and Designers & Developers. Sessions on the following topics will be addressed:

  • Designing on WordPress
  • Creating your first WordPress plugin
  • Using WordPress as a marketing tool
  • Running a business on WordPress
  • Freelancing with WordPress
  • Using WordPress as a multimedia platform
  • Creating your own niche social network with WordPress & BuddyPress
  • WordPress within the internet ecosystem

Learn more at

Social Impact, Social Good, Social Media, these were all popular topics of conversation at both the Care National Conference and Summit Series in Washington D.C. last week. The exponential growth of ways to socialize and share information with people in your community, at an event, or across the world allow our society to be more connected, informed and powerful. Through forms of FREE media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube you can extend a conversation, start a movement, raise funds, take a stance and even start a fight.

Many people scoff at these tools, or merely do not take the time to fully understand their potential. Unlike traditional forms of media, these tools allow people to decide what is ‘Popular’; trending topics rise above the noise and can reach far greater viewers in short periods of time. In the Women’s Leadership forum at Summit Series it was mentioned that ‘the influence on an individual is exponential’ and that if these tools are used appropriately one person can be extremely impactful. For example leaders, legislators, nonprofits, individuals and organizations are leveraging social media to create social good.

In a panel on ‘Doing Good in Tough TimesMalaak Compton-Rock talks about how texts were used to raise funds during the Haiti crisis:

With Twitter, you can follow people and topics and virally spread the word about a great cause. The hashtag (“#”) is a way to catalog and connect tweets about a specific topic, hashtags allow you to keep all tweets about that topic in a single stream. A hashtag is essentially a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it, like #CARENCC or #SummitSeries. They are used to coordinate updates during emergencies, campaigns, events and fundraisers. One of the easiest ways to track a hashtags is by using Twitter Search.

During both the Care National Conference and the Summit Series we were able to follow the conversation, capture quotes and follow articles and links that were shared throughout the event. Below we have gathered some of the top tweets we came across while in Washington DC at #CARENCC and #SummitSeries. Check out the Top 25 Tweets and Tweeters on >>

(Originally posted at, the go-to community for philanthropic living and giving, where you can find philanthropy and fundraising resources and information.)

On May 11, 2010 leading humanitarian organization CARE gathered some of the most influential women from around the world to urge lawmakers to improve the lives of women and girls globally.

The conference agenda focused on three key issues:

1. Fighting global hunger with a global food security initiative

2. Protecting and empowering girls by preventing child marriage

3. Mothers matter: Protecting mothers and children from senseless deaths.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton joined actress and humanitarian Maria Bello, CARE advocate for Maternal Health Christy Turlington Burns, the first Ladies of Mozambique and Sierra Leone, humanitarian and author Malaak Compton Rock and nearly 1,000 other attendees to share knowledge and demand a world without poverty or oppression.

Secretary Clinton captivated the audience in an inspiring and powerful keynote address in which she presented solutions to CARE’s key issues, explained why ‘Caring is not enough’ and committed to getting results not measured in dollars but in lasting changes in people’s lives. The Secretary was one of the most highly anticipated and outstanding presenters of the day.

“She sets an ideal standard for all of us to follow as women”

Gayle M. Anderson, Nevada commission of economic development.

But Secretary Clinton was not the only leader in attendance, the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center was buzzing with influential women, politicians, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, community leaders and activists as young as 8 years old.

Below we have highlighted five of the leading ladies of CARE, with quotes they shared at the event as to why they are so passionate about CARE and women’s leadership.

Hilary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

“Focus on women if you want lasting, measurable results.”

Secretary Clinton could have easily been a member of the CARE team as she endorsed their mission and advocated for CARE’s initiatives. “The women and men whom I’ve met who against the most daunting odds, have made a difference for their families and their communities and just didn’t know the meaning of the word impossible. Well, CARE has been on the front lines of that struggle for such a long time. And I so admire the work of this organization, its global mission, its can-do spirit, its fearlessness in the face of insurmountable odds.”

Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA

“When love and empathy intertwine with skills, one can conquer the world.”

Helene has dedicated her career to making sure that the building blocks of healthy, secure lives are available not only just to citizens of wealthy nations, but to people everywhere. As a doctor and a public health expert, she has significantly advanced the global fight against AIDS, she’s championed the critical issue of health, particularly women’s health, and she’s made CARE – a great organization – even greater. Helen Gayle believes in the mission of Care so much that she even turned down the opportunity to join Secretary Clinton’s initiative. No one better to describe Helene Gayle than Secretary Clinton herself “In fact, when I became Secretary of State, one of the very first people I reached out to was Helene. And I said, “Helene, do you have any interest in joining the Administration?” And she said, “Well, of course, I’m very excited about what can be done, but I care about CARE and I’m committed to CARE.”

Helene Gayle with Annie Vranizan

Malaak Compton Rock, Humanitarian and Author

“If it takes a village, build one”

In a conversation about ‘Doing Good in Tough Times’ Malaak Compton Rock asks attendees not to be shy, to take that first step and act. In order to create a global economy she believes we have to give what we can, and it does not necessarily have to be a monetary donation. Instead she suggests that you can lend your services to charity. If you’re a designer, florist, photography someone can benefit from these skills. In reference to leveling the playing field Mrs. Rock says “I can’t donate what Oprah donates, and Oprah can’t donate like Bill Gates, but we all have to donate and adjust to give proportionately to what we make.”

Madam Maria Da Luz Guebuza, First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique

“The lack of skilled health care practitioners can be the difference between life and death.”

Madam Maria spoke discussed the importance of ‘catalyzing a movement’ for providing health care and nutrition for mothers and children. She believes that “nutrition is the cornerstone of survival and general development of a nation.” It starts with pregnant mothers and the ability to provide for a healthy baby. If they are unable to do so, it can be a viscous cycle, which is why she is so passionate about the things that CARE, is doing to support the global community.

The Honorable Carolyn Maloney, U.S. House of Representatives

“The biggest way to make change is have a plan – Pass a bill! Start with something achievable, then go for something impossible.”

Representative Maloney plans is working to get a National Womens History Museum across from the National mall in Washington D.C. and she believes this is achievable by the end of 2010. She is also outraged that the U.S. has not joined The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and is lobbying to make this happen. Read more about CEDAW.

On behalf of Vivanista I am also proud to announce our first Cause of the Month – CARE. CARE empowers women as part of their efforts to fight poverty and combat widespread maternal mortality across the globe. Learn how we are empowering women with Care >>

I’ll be presenting ’50 Apps to Fuel Your Business’ at the 2010 Nevada Interactive Media Summit on March 6, 2010, at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Joe Crowley Student Union.

Colin Loretz and I will be presenting a rapid fire round of the top 50 applications and websites you probably didn’t know existed but will help you make sense of your business, and in many cases, your life online. We will cover everything from collaborating on projects, creating stunning presentations, sharing files effortlessly, monitoring your finances, and managing your endless to-do lists in the hustle and bustle of our wired lives.

Presentation Objectives:

  • There are so many new tools online that it is hard to keep track – we’ve distilled them into this presentation
  • Teaching through example, both of us use these applications in running our companies and how the audience might use these tools in their daily life
  • Using tech to automate or improve our work, making life a little easier
  • Attendees will be given a handout with all 50 web apps and their URLs

This session will benefit anyone who uses the web or wishes to use the web to better manage their busy life and even automate some of it. Students to top-level management will find new applications and tools to not only manage a brand, online communications and precious time, but also fuel your business.

Some of the tools we will discuss are SlideShare, Mint, Tweetie, Wufoo, Screenflow, Skype, and

View Nevada Interactive Media Summit’s program >>

Nevada Interact will bring together business owners, non-profit advocates, publishers, newsmakers, bloggers, podcasters, filmmakers, media, PR and advertising professionals and anyone else interested in interactive media together for hands-on learning, rich discussions, opportunities to meet with local companies working in interactive media and plentiful networking opportunities