I had a rather interesting time yesterday evening, because I was invited to give a presentation on the use of social media to a group of inventors in Birmingham, Alabama.
I think most of us have certain ideas about inventors. Some people picture them as eccentric scientists. For myself, a vision of Beaker from the Muppet Show usually pops into my head around this point. Speaking of which, do you recall that incredibly funny YouTube video of Beaker playing and singing ODE TO JOY?
Actually, while I think about it, do you know any good quotes about inventors? I think that my current favorite is the one from the English film director Alfred Hitchcock who famously said: “These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.”
I think that’s very unfair. I personally like the sound of the bagpipes. I’ve even thought about trying to learn the Irish (or Uilleann) Bagpipes, which are a completely different kettle of fish to the better-known Scottish variety.
Something else just popped into my head. Someone once told me that “A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes … but doesn’t!” (I think the original quote related to the accordion, but it works just as well for the bagpipes.)
I don’t know how you do it. You’ve made me wander off into the weeds again. What were we talking about? Oh yes, my speaking to the inventors. So here’s how it all came about…
One of my friends – Brian LaGrave of BDH Consulting – is a bona fide inventor who attends the monthly meetings of an inventor’s club in Birmingham, Alabama (who knew inventors had clubs?). Anyway, I think they were short of a good speaker for this month’s meeting, so they ended up asking me instead (grin).
I live in Huntsville, Alabama, which is about 90 miles north of Birmingham. Over the years I have developed a tremendous ability to get lost at the drop of a hat. So I drove a little way down Highway #65 and met Brian and his 13-year old son Sam at a gas station and we car-pooled the rest of the way down.
Before we proceed, I’d just like to mention that Sam is a really great young lad – in addition to giving his dad directions to get us to the meeting in the depths of the Birmingham backstreets (and then getting us back out again), he took charge of the audio-visual stuff and controlled the slides on my computer for me, thereby leaving me free to wander around talking and waving my arms around in the air as is my wont.
I really enjoyed myself. I would like to tell you about all of the weird and wonderful inventions that these inventive inventors are inventing, but the whole meeting was under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which makes a lot of sense because otherwise no one would talk about their inventions.
Suffice it to say that I ended up giving a talk that bounced around from topic to topic with the agility of a mountain goat. In addition to social media (the official definition of which is “The use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”), we covered a lot of other topics. One point I made was that it’s important to get your ducks in a row. When it comes to announcing and promoting an invention, for example, social media only works in the context of a bigger picture. There’s no point in creating a “viral happening” that brings hundreds of thousands of people to your website … only to find one of those annoying “Under Construction” signs.
I would tell you more, but I’m hoping that more groups and companies will be interested in my giving the same talk to them, so I think we’ll leave the rest shrouded in mystery (he said, mysteriously)…