A Day Too Late

“Sometimes, it is important to look back and see who in our lives our, ‘angel investors’ actually are. Acknowledge them. Thank them if you can.”

I’ve read similar words before. I read these exact words one day ago. I’ve heard them before from Andy and others, but now I’m a day too late.

When I was just maybe two years old, a woman showed up at my parent’s house to interview for a live-in housekeeper position.  She didn’t speak a word of English. Only Spanish. Her name was Esperanza Perez.

My mom said I had the biggest smile on my face and that’s when she knew. She knew that Esperanza was going to live in our house and help raise me and my siblings.  I wish I could talk about specific stories in detail, but I was so young. I only remember bits and pieces of those days like watching spanish tv with her. I didn’t understand a thing but she would try to teach me. I remember her tickling me feet, trying to make me laugh. I laughed so hard I was in pain. I called it tickle torture and she loved it because it made me laugh. It made me smile.

That’s really what I remember about Esperanza. She made me smile even when I was very young and I believe those early days of smiling, those early days of compassion, helped me become who I am today. Those interactions helped make my brother and my sister who they are today. I’m proud of that and Esperanza should be as well.

A few weeks ago I tried to tell her those things in person but I couldn’t do it. I literally could not find the courage to say those words out loud when I was with her.

She was in a coma, connected to a breathing machine because she had suffered two, major heart attacks. She couldn’t hear me, but still, I didn’t say the words I wanted to say. Here I was struggling to put a “thank you” sentence together and there she was fighting for her life. Even if I had said anything she wouldn’t have heard me. Some say that people can still hear in those traumatic cases, but the analytical part of me said, “she can’t hear you, so what’s the difference?”

Well there is a big difference.

Anyone that is able to read this post is alive and is capable of saying thank you. I wish I said thank you to Esperanza when she was well. When she was happy. I wish I said thank you when she was lying in that hospital bed fighting for her life.

Esperanza passed away today. I’ll miss her. But I wish I could tell her thank you. Thank you for being a part of my life and for helping me become the person I am today.

I just wish I wasn’t a day too late and I hope you won’t be a day too late either.

R.I.P Esperanza Perez.

5 Corporate Hacks to Make Your Company More Social

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

If Facebook has taught us anything over the past few years it has taught us this:

Cover of "Hackers"

Cover of Hackers

1. A hacker culture works to drive accelerated growth in a business. Mark Zuckerberg writes in a letter to his investors, “Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.”  It’s hard to argue that this approach doesn’t work. Facebook today has over 850 million people and to give you some perspective, that would make it the third largest continent in the world behind Asia and Africa. So clearly, a hacking culture does help move a business and it’s product forward. But why should a hacking culture be limited to a silicon valley technology company?

2. The world is social. Legacy, societal hierarchies no longer exist. Almost every day I encounter new stories with a similar theme: a group of like-minded individuals come together to affect change – and they do so from the bottom up. A great example is something called Cash Mobs, where a group of people visit a local business, as a large group, and share in a collective spending spree. In many cases they can even alter the prices of products. It happens organically and it happens from the bottom up.

Yet another example is one I learned about recently, called “Invisible Children.” This movement is working to disarm Joseph Kony, one of the world’s worst war criminals, from his position of power in Uganda. When the movement first started, the members unsuccessfully challenged government officials to intervene. Shortly thereafter, the organization decided to use social media to raise awareness and demand change. As a result, they were able to to generate participation from hundreds of thousands of people, the original naysayers, acclaimed celebrities and even President Obama. In today’s world, all organizations should expect this paradigm shift to affect their business in one way or another – without their control and without their permission.

So how can businesses embrace a Facebook-like hacking culture that could lead to accelerated growth?

Here are a few corporate hacks you can use to make your company faster and more social:

The “Team Collaboration” Hack: Assembling and curating ideas can be very time-consuming. It can also destroy your email inbox and waste hours of your day. Instead of accruing very long email threads, create a private Facebook group to facilitate the conversation. It is a free, private forum and you can invite only those you want to invite.

The “Customer Service” Hack: Social media is less about “media” and more about real communications between real people. People will either praise your brand or complain about your product so make sure you have people on your team listening to your brand. You can create google alerts or twitter alerts using their search functionality and RSS feeds. This will alert you when certain keywords are mentioned and from there, you can reach out to engage with them.

The “I Need Legal’s Approval” Hack: In many corporations, marketing teams require legal approval.  In today’s market there are many recent law graduates looking for work. Think differently about hiring and consider opportunities for lawyers to be an integral part of your social media marketing efforts. You’ll have someone on board that can quickly approve content.

The “Product Development” Hack: Why spend a ton of energy and time trying to figure out what your customers want? Simply ask your customers what products they want and use that feedback in your product development cycle. If you don’t ask, they’ll tell you anyway so you might as well ask.

The “Customer Acquisition” Hack: People are opting in to become fans and followers of certain brands. It is now easier than ever to identify and recruit customers of your competitors. Just look at their social media properties, reach out, and engage in good, meaningful dialogue.

Those are just a few social hacks to drive additional progress in your organization. What else have you seen?

Connect with Dan Reich on Twitter – @danreich.

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