Obama Town Hall: Response to 3.5 million votes on Marijuana

“The answer is no, I don’t think that [is] a good strategy.”

Following up on my previous article Obama Town Hall: What’s Really On People’s Minds?…MARIJUANA, President Barack Obama pledged to open up the White House to the American people...well, sort of!

Of the 3.5 million people that voted, “There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation, and I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” he laughed.

Some people didn’t find this funny? The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) prepared their own heated response titled  “What Is So Funny About Taxing And Regulating Marijuana?” The audience didn’t have to laugh, and NORML shared their 2 cents on the matter. Their article ends on a witty note: “Sorry Obama, this time the joke’s on you.

It seems major publishes have picked up on this topic as well:

  1. Huffington Post: Obama Takes Pot Legalization Question During Townhall (VIDEO).
  2. Christian Science Monitor: For Obama, an online do-over of Tuesday’s press conference
  3. Fast Company: The Banality of Obama’s “Cutting-Edge” Web Event
  4. The Associated Press: AP Top News at 3:29 p.m. EDT
  5. US-News: Obama: Marijuana Legalization Not Good For The Economy

Overall I think this online Town Hall approach to getting the people involved is pure genius. This is a small example of how it is a bit controversial, but now adays, what isn’t? I have a feeling this is an issue that won’t go away and I predict that NORML and marijuana supporters will be a bit more prepared for the next Town Hall. I imagine President Obama will have something more to say as well.

Posted under Events, Online Marketing, Online Video, Viral Marketing

Obama Town Hall: What’s Really On People’s Minds?…MARIJUANA

As found on the White House Website, “The White House is open for questions”.

In yet another tech-savvy move by President Obama, WhiteHouse.gov is once again asking the public to pose questions directly to President Obama via its ‘Open For Questions‘ service. The topic of this week’s forum is the national economy. 61,671 people have submitted 64,654 questions and cast 2,456,511 votes, and  the most popular questions for 3 of the 11 categories are all about the Legalization and Taxation of Marijuana. Here are a few examples:

Green Jobs & Energy: “Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

Financial Stability: “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”

Jobs: “What are your plans for the failing, “War on Drugs”, thats sucking money from tax payers and putting non-violent people in prison longer than the violent criminals?”

Budget: “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”

The National Organization For The Reform Of Marijuana Laws (NORML) posted an article titled: Obama ‘Open For Questions’ About The Economy — Ask Him To Support Taxing And Regulating Marijuana. They are rallying as much support as possible because “according to website, President Obama will “answer some of the most popular submissions live at WhiteHouse.gov” on Thursday morning. That means that we only have a few more hours left to contact the White House”.

I’m interested to see if this goes through. Even if it’s not weed-related, please take a moment right now to log on the WhiteHouse.gov/OpenForQuestions and vote for the questions above, as well as other topics. NORML wants you to “let the President know that millions of American voters believe that the time has come to tax and regulate marijuana.”

To check out President Obama’s reactions, tune into the online town hall will be at 11:30 AM Eastern, the voting will close at 9:30 AM.

Posted under Events, Online Video

Guy Kawasaki: Twitter As A Tool For Social Media


Described by Wikipedia as a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist (Garage Tech Ventures), Guy Kawasaki’s “in-depth knowledge of the high-tech industry combined with his years of management experience enable him to address a wide range of audiences.”  (SES) I had the chance to be part of that audience yesterday at Search Engine Strategies –  NYC.

An acclaimed author, investor and tech personality…it was only a matter time before he voiced his opinion on Twitter. Referring to Twitter as a tool that enables “democratization of power” for businesses and individuals alike, Guy Kawasaki prepared an assortment of tools and tips for using the social media platform for marketing –  Including a Twitter tool that measures the size of you p*nis – ePenis! (Hey Guy…you and I are almost the same size!)

My favorite quote followed his opening remarks: “If I do it, it’s clever marketing. If it’s done to me, it’s spam. It’s situational ethics”. Anna Maria Virzi of Clickz was to my left taking notes the entire time. Her article Advice from Evangelist Guy Kawasaki, does a pretty good job summing up the entire speech. Virginia Nussey, of the Bruce Clay blog, also provided a rather in depth coverage of the event. Outspoken Media was one of the first to blog about the event.

But it seems I’m the only blogger with the original PowerPoint presentation…AND a list of all the companies and tools Guy Referred tool. It goes hand in hand with his presentation- Enjoy:

Guy Kawasaki: Twitter As A Tool For Social Media

*Special thanks to Gina @ Garage Tech. View more presentations from JoshuaRussak.

I’m pretty sure that you’d find his new book, Reality Check, very useful. It is the super set of all Guy’s writing, speaking, and blogging. You can read about it here: http://adjix.com/j7v. You should also take a look at Guy’s company’s web site. It’s a “digital magazine rack” of popular topics. These might interest those who attended SES:  seo.alltop.com –  sem.alltop.com.

Posted under Events, Social Networks

Employment Related Business Models Online

I just had the pleasure of recently moderating the panel at Ultra Light Startups “Employment Related Business Models“. Hosted by For Your Imagination, the recent Ultra Light Startup, yet again, blew me away. I’ve attended their events since September ‘08, taking pictures and submitting post event write-ups. Here are a few of the recently covered topics:

  1. Web Analytics
  2. Revenue Model Workshop
  3. Monetization of Ads
  4. Outsourcing
  5. SEO/SEM
  6. Open Source CMS <-Popular Event!

This past month continued to bring in new faces as well as the “ULS Regulars”, and I was very surprised that a niche topic like “Employment Business Models” drew as large of a crowd as it did. Some of the topics covered included:

  • What are the most promising niches and technologies for employment-related startups?
  • Revenue-generating technology for bloggers and web publishers – job boards, services and related packages. An overview and comparison of platforms available to publishers.
  • Efficiency-enhancing technology for recruiters – social networks, requisition-sharing tools, etc. Which tools are essential for recruiters and why?
  • Innovative employment-related startups – TheLadders, Indeed, SimplyHired, JobScore, Doostang. Which niches and approaches are the most profitable and fastest growing?
  • Job search on social platforms – LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. How are these platforms changing the business of recruiting?

The reason I was picked to moderate this event was because of my background in the employment related online space. I recently co-founded  RezRedo, a vertical search engine for job experiences found in resumes. The first search engine of its kind, RezRedo is opening doors to new methods of resume writing and job related research. Prior to RezRedo, I was a recruiter at AC Lion and headed all online marketing and web related initiatives for the firm including: Blogging, Social Networking, Web Analytics, E-Mail Marketing, SEO, and exploring new advertising options. But most of this experience fails in comparison to that of the panelists:


Before the panel began, I had the opportunity to present a powerpoint presentation that helped break down the Employment Space. Take a look and see the presentation for yourself:

*Click here for a copy of the powerpoint seen in the video above.

This past month there were over 70 people listed. To get a feel for what types of entrepreneurs attend and present their ideas at this event,  take a look at some of the attendees:

Be sure to sign up for next months Ultra Light event: Monetizing Online Video. You can sign up on their website or via meetup.com.

(*If you are interested in reading more about this past event,  check out Ultralight Startups meet-up, March, 2009 by Corey Maass)

Posted under Events, Online Video, Ultra Light Startups

Keyword Statistics For The Jewish Holiday of Purim

Wikipedia defines Purim as “a festival  that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman‘s plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther.” It is celebrated annually, and as an Online Marketer, I am curious which month receives the highest volume of “Purim” based searches?


The approximate average search volume for keyword “PURIM” is 74,000 (the approximate average monthly number of search queries for “Purim” performed on Google and the search network over a recent 12-month period). It only happens once a year, so what about the other 11 months of the year?According to Google, in the month of February, there was an average of 60,500 searches.  But take a closer look at the stats above…”Highest Volume Occured In: March“. Google hasn’t produced March’s #’s yet (probably because we’re only 9 days into the month), but if you take a look, the 2 months with any traffic is February and March. The rest of the year is pretty static.

So according to those numbers and assuming the rest of the year gets no traffic, March 2008 got around 87,500 hits. Not exactly astronomical numbers, but good enough to try and build a yearly campaign around. Every other keyword derivation (Purim Costumes, Purim Parties, etc.) fails in comparison. So there ya go…Purim in a nutshell!


Posted under Events

This post was written by Joshua Russak on March 9, 2009

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