Charlie Fern's Ink

Do what you say. Say it in color.

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Name: Charlie Fern
Location: San Diego-Austin-Washington-London

Charlie Fern is a former White House speechwriter who runs a full-scale communications consulting, PR and speechwriting firm. Ms. Fern is also an adjunct professor who teaches public relations at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm - and other noises I can't make. Beat-box kid does good:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Three Cheers for Austin's Green Fern Events and its Technicolor Founder, Emily Kahn. Happy Earth Day!

If I were a mystic who could see energy fields, I'd wager that my good friend Emily Kahn's aura is green. In fact, I bet it's more like 67 shades of green. She has what you'd get when you cross a green thumb with the Midas touch in a person who is devoted to preserving and protecting this earth we call home.

And if you had an hour to listen to her (which would be a well-spent and highly entertaining adventure, I assure you), she could tell you about environmentally friendly ideas and practices from the macro to the molecular level, if you're willing to go there.

Emily is founder of Green Fern Events, a company she's been building for the better part of a year and officially launched this month. She threw open her company doors today, appropriately, in honor of Earth Day.

Green Fern Events is an absolutely, totally, thoroughly environmentally friendly event planning firm whose capabilities range from corporate events and regional conferences to weddings, bar mitzvas and private parties.

Emily pays shocking attention to detail when it comes to dreaming up and running gorgeous, affordable, well-planned and splendidly executed events. I came to love Emily because of her joie de vieve, exuberant wit, optimism and humanity. I came to respect and admire Emily for her passion, determination and knowledge about her work. She's the real deal.

And she's invested an enormous amount of time an energy in researching the absolute best products (often both organic and fair trade) and the most thorough environmental practices. The result: a company that can plan a bad to the bone, green to the core event at a time when we (especially we in Central Texas) want and need it most.

Conferences and events are among the largest polluters on earth -- who knew that? Emily did before most of us, and she can give you a dozen reasons why without blinking.

Emily can go as green as her clients want their events to be -- right down to a conference Web site that's hosted on servers that use renewable solar energy.

After each event, Emily's clients receive a full report that details exactly how they saved the planet, and by how much. And that makes for good corporate responsibility ...and good news. How'd you like to plan an event that leaves everyone feeling good - from employees to consumers - and leaves your "green-washed" competition in the dust?

And because Emily loves sharing her knowledge, she'll teach you as much as you want to know about making a sustainable difference in this world, whether you're planning an event, or planning a better future for your children.

Indeed, Green Fern Events is not just another Central Texas event planning firm. It's a kick-ass company run by a subject matter expert who loves life and leaves others feeling pretty good about their lives, too. And, no offense, but that should leave her local competition feeling a little you-know-what with envy.

So here's to you, Emily Kahn. I wish you and Green Fern Events rip-roaring success (and I rather like the name, too).

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Mastermind of the "I Love You" social media experiment reports that the love bug nibbled on about 80,000 people worldwide

I'm proud to reprint, below, an inspiring and informative blog entry by my friend Jim Mitchem, an ad guru and founder of Smash Communications. Jim sat down and wrote about the "I Love You" social media experiment and the impact it had on him (and tens of thousands of others worldwide).

Please see his blog, Obsessed with Conformity, for more wit, wisdom and pure genius. Thanks, Jim, for allowing me to be a part of your brilliant scheme. And thank you for introducing me to the fabulous StaciJShelton, whose talent and work is, well, awe-inspiring. Read on for more:

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Disney World

by Jim Mitchem
Smash Communications

Saturday, April 4, 2009 was a pretty special day. We got up before the sun and filled the car with enough clothes and bulk food items to last us a week at Disney World. It was also the day of our annual fantasy baseball draft. Of course everyone else participating in the draft would be sitting around a kitchen table in North Jersey, while we were driving south on I-95, but we were up for the challenge (besides, we have a movie player in the car for the kids). But before any of the driving or drafting began, I posted 'I Love You' as my Facebook and Twitter status. It was an idea that was born about a month earlier - as a Social Media experiment to see if these three words could take SM by storm. Even if for one day. We didn't have a lot of time to prepare, so I shared the idea with a couple of really good friends on Twitter (@StaciJShelton and @misscharlie), threw a blog post together, and did my own part to add Love to my SM stream early that morning.

We had a really good draft, despite learning that our youngest daughter gets violently carsick watching movies while driving. And by the time we got to Florida, I was overwhelmed with the massive response to our #iloveyou experiment. Not only did we all help make Love a top trending term on Twitter the entire day, but we did so without an open endorsement from any from the Twitterati. Love was a grassroots effort that spread because of its sincere nature. Love doesn't need big endorsements, as it turns out.

In the end, the post received over 80,000 views in 48 hours (up from an average of a few hundred a day), we had nearly 2,000 Facebook attendees and there was a feeling of Good Will for the entire weekend. I was humbled and grateful, to say the least.

Many people congratulated me on this exercise, and a few people inquired about how I might monetize the effort. But I didn't get into this project for notoriety or a payoff. It was just a test by a regular guy and some pretty extraordinary people. The goal was to see if Love would have an impact on our SM stream. And boy - did it ever.

Thank you.


Note: I would be remiss not to mention Mark Murnahan @murnahan as a very important partner in helping spread the word about #iloveyou. Without him, I don't think we'd done nearly as well. The same is true of Lolly Daskal @lollydaskal and Laurie Smithwick @UpsideUp (who got Kirtsy involved) as well as hundreds of other people that I'm totally grateful for. Thank you.

Jim is a father, husband, copywriter and founder of

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Monday, April 13, 2009

A handful of items that money can't buy

Money can't buy the live music of life. A hummy Easter morning in my home: laughter, music, glasses clinking, tea kettle boiling. Or the sounds of life's firsts: My 4-year-old son's small, expressive, sing-song voice, which narrated an uncensored and steady stream of conscious thoughts as he puttered around the house searching for (and finding by himself) the brightly colored Easter eggs "hidden" in conspicuous places for him the night before.

Money can't buy the million butterflies released the moment of your first kiss: A once-in-a-lifetime rush of adolescent love that only you and one other person on earth will rightly remember. Money can't buy the sometimes bittersweet feeling that comes years later, when you realize you married the right person.
Money can't buy that deep, comfortable, peaceful sleep-state that settles in just moments before the alarm goes off. Nor can it buy the smell of my grandmother's powder room on a spring day: A combination of old stucco walls, wood floors, faded powders and potions, salt air, earth, and flowering peach trees; a scent that changes slightly when the breeze shifts and stirs the curtains... and summons a different flight of memories.

Money can't buy streams of consciousness, waves of emotion, or torrents of sensory experiences that we swim in right now; the taste, touch, sound, smell, and sight of life unfolding. Money can't buy the feelings, epiphanies, or memories of our firsts and lasts. Money can't buy the things that have the most potent energy, the most sacred meaning or the most precious value, like daydreams and passion and spontaneous laughter and surprise this music clip I stumbled across (thanks to the band Collective Soul), by Susan Boyles of England who reminds us that money also can't buy the amazing talents we're born with, like the voice of an angel.

Perhaps most importantly, money can't buy back the time that you didn't spend properly in the first place. So just stop for a minute once in a while. Forget the viewfinder. Focus on life, exclusively. Watch it unfold with your own two eyes. Breathe life in. Bathe in it, bask in it, revel in it.

I'll try to do the same.

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Number time

If ten is 10 then
10 ones
is one 10.
If 10 ones is
one 10
is 10 past one.
If 10 ones past one
is 10 past one
then once again
I'm late.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

On Fast Cars and Double Lives, for the boys from 1985 has done a number on me, almost as bad as Twitter did when I dove in to that social stream a few months ago. For the past couple of days I've been living large in's virtual world, throwing down song titles, inciting tempo-tantrums, and giving props to strangers and DJs in far-away places.

But there was no such joy for Charlie tonight. I navigated over to my new homepage and was shocked to find....nothing. Nary a Fail Whale in sight...only a flat note: " is undergoing maintenance."

By then, the first song on my playlist was thoroughly entrenched in my short-term memory, and it's not the kind of song that you'd want to have wandering around the infinite loop of your hipppocampus. So I went elsewhere and found it on another Web site that, until 20 minutes ago, I'd never heard of. Who knew!

Life is good when you can quench your thirst for The Cars with a couple of keystrokes. The following video is for my brothers and sisters from the world of vinyl and tape...and for my new pals who are out there floating among the 1s and 0s.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

#iloveyou Saturday: How'd it go? See for yourself.

If you want to read the entire article, see The Social Media Philosophy Project (Thank you!).

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One more in the name of love: I've got 3 little words for you on Saturday

This one's for you, Mr. Mitchem. Good luck with your lovely experiment.

I was talking about marriage with some friends the other day. About the ups and downs, and how miserable the downs are. It's remarkable how fast, and how easily, things can go wrong in a relationship, or a household.

Stop paying attention for just an instant, and things start to unwind. It's usually when you're busy looking the other direction, or tending to your own concerns, that your house falls apart. And there's a mighty fine line between feeling good and grounded... and feeling isolated and alone. I feel tired and defeated when my house isn't in order. I get steamrolled when my relationships are on shaky ground.

When I lose that connection to the person I count on the most, I turn to my friends -- a supportive community of peers who will acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices I've made to uphold my end of the commitment. I say, "I've worked hard, damnit." And they say, "We know. You're a good sport. We love you."

Isn't it true, though? When times are tough, people seek the safety and reassurance of community, whether it's friends, or coworkers, or social networks like Twitter.

It is so easy to lose faith in someone you believe in. So easy to question someone's integrity or doubt their motivations, especially when there's a commitment involved. It's good to have friends then. It's good to have community. But there's nothing greater than those remarkable times when life, or relationships, stop careening towards a brick wall and turn, instead, for the better. When someone shows a sign of hope and gives you a reason to believe again.

When you commit to something -- when you put your faith in a person, or a cause, or an organization, regardless of how angry or disillusioned you might be, you want to keep that commitment.

You can lie to me, but you can't lie to yourself: even when you're halfway out the door, there's a part of you that's still inside the place looking around for a sign of hope. I don't care how successful you are, or how tough you are, or how important you feel. You want a reason to believe. You want a reason to stick around. We all do.

So here's a little secret to success for you: It's easier to maintain a house along the way. Putting your life back together after it's fallen apart is a lot of work. Either way it's worth it, because I know I'm at my best and most confident when my house is in order. When my relationships are strong.

Make it easy on yourself. Invest in your most important relationships. Be there for the people who count on you, even if it's inconvenient. Pay it forward every once in a while and pay attention to the results. You'll make someone happy. You'll strengthen a relationship. And you'll feel good, too. You've got to drop a seed of hope along the way. It doesn't take a lot of effort to drop a seed, and it makes a difference.

On Saturday, I'm asking you to drop a seed of hope.

My Twitter accomplice from Smash Communications, Jim Mitchem, wrote a moving blog entry about love this week.

Jim asked us to use the bull-horn of social media to say "I love you" on Saturday, April 4, to everyone in our virtual worlds.
They're real people, you know. Three little words, with no name at the beginning or end. Say, "I love you" to the universe. Drop a seed. What do you have to lose?

On Saturday, I'm going to say "I love you". I might even say it more than once. Won't you join me?

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