Our best chance yet to help bring Noor and Ramsay home

If you know me, you know that my friend Colin Bower’s sons Noor and Ramsay were kidnapped more than a year ago and taken to Egypt by their mother, despite Colin having custody of the boys. There’s been a major new development in this heartbreaking case.

Rep. Barney Frank has introduced a resolution calling for Egypt to release Noor and Ramsay. This could finally be what brings Noor and Ramsay home. Please use this link to find your Congressional representative. Send an email and ask him or her to support the resolution. I’ll include some sample wording to make it as easy as possible:

Dear Rep. ____________

Please support Rep. Frank and Rep. Smith’s Resolution 193 to return Noor and Ramsay Bower and ensure Egypt and other countries join the Hague Convention. This is critical to protect the rights of American children in our district, nationally and abroad. Please co-sponsor this Resolution immediately.

You might unfriend me after you read this.

Colin and Ramsay

I’m taking a risk here, but it’s necessary. I realize I am crossing a line. I try to keep my social media presence friendly, informative and funny when I can. In the last few weeks, you’ve seen a lot of posts from me that have been more serious and not at all funny. If you’ve been following me here, on Facebook and on Twitter, you know I’m talking about the effort to Help Bring Noor and Ramsay Home.

I need you to do more.

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

If you know the story, skip this paragraph. My friend (and now my boss) Colin Bower had sole custody of his two sons Noor and Ramsay. His ex-wife kidnapped them and took them to Egypt more than a year ago. He has not seen them since. The only thing that can help at this point seems to be public pressure on the US and Egyptian governments. And in this day and age, the best way to do that is on the Internet.

We have been told that the State Department is watching the Facebook page and gauging public interest by the number of “likes.” The more people who click the “like” button, the better chance Colin has of seeing his sons again.

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

Have you gone to the page and clicked “like”? Have you shared it with your friends, told people about it, even clicked “Share” to post it to your Facebook wall? Many of you have. I notice and I genuinely appreciate it.

I see posts from my friends today promoting their blogs, their bands, sharing music videos and encouraging their friends to support restaurants and food trucks and other causes. That’s fine; I do that stuff too. But can you please spend five minutes to help Colin see his sons again?

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

If you’ve seen my appeals and those of many others and you haven’t done it yet, respond here and let me know why, or email me privately at dave at dbthomas dot com and tell me why. If there’s something holding you back — technological reasons, you’re not on Facebook, you’re not sure you want to commit before you know all the facts, whatever — let me know.

Maybe you are concerned about the facts. Understandable, considering all you know is what you’ve read online. But know this: I’m not. I know Colin, I’ve seen how he’s conducted himself through much of this ordeal. I’ve read what his old and close friends have said about him. I’ve met Noor and Ramsay’s grandfather.

If that isn’t enough, then think of it this way: more attention on the issue will at least help resolve it, which is best for the boys.

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

I can look and see that 80 of my 541 Facebook friends have liked the page. Have you?

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

PLEASE do it now. If you’re tired of hearing me talk about this, imagine what Colin is going through, spending more than a year wondering if his sons are alive, what they are being told about him and wondering if he’ll ever see them again.

If that doesn’t move you to click “like,” then go ahead and unfriend me now, because I’m not going to stop talking about this until Colin is with his boys.

Click on this page. Click “like”: http://bit.ly/noor-ramsay

Go to the bottom of the left column. Click “share.” Post it to your own Facebook page. Ask your friends to like the page.

Thank you very much.

You can help my friend Colin see his sons again

My friend (and soon to be colleague) Colin Bower is going through one of the most difficult ordeals I can imagine as a parent. His sons, Noor and Ramsay, were kidnapped by their mother a year ago and taken to Egypt. Colin, who won sole custody of the children in the divorce, has had no contact with his sons since they left the U.S., despite having made many trips to Egypt.

Colin’s ex-wife’s friends and family have refused to return his calls. An Egyptian court has granted him visitation, but when he traveled to Egypt to see them, he waited in a park for seven hours and they never turned up.

Colin is a strong and private man, and I know how difficult it is for him to be discussing this in public. But he’s also a devoted father who wants his sons back more than anything on Earth, and he knows that drawing attention to this issue is the best way to make that happen.

You can help by going to the Facebook page Help Bring Noor and Ramsay Home, and clicking “like.” The more people who do that, the more attention that we draw to this issue, the better the chances that all of the people and agencies involved will do the right thing. There are a few other ways suggested on the page that you can help as well.

Last year, Colin was in town and I gave him a ride to the airport. First, we picked up The Boy at daycare, and he rode with us. Colin and Conrad discussed Conrad’s favorite thing at the time, the cartoon show “Caillou,” about a little Canadian boy. Conrad was very excited to find that Colin was a fan as well. Colin told Conrad he used to watch Caillou with Noor and Ramsay. I could tell the conversation was difficult for him.

After I dropped Colin off at the airport, Conrad and I were driving home and he couldn’t stop talking about Colin. Finally he said, “Colin fly on a airplane. He like Caillou. He a good man.”

He is a good man. And a good father. Help him see his sons again.

I’m joining the team at New Marketing Labs

It’s well past midnight on the eve of SocialFresh Charlotte, and I should either be sleeping or going over my presentation for tomorrow, but I’m in a reflective mood. I was talking this evening with Tom Webster, Amber Naslund and Chris Penn and realized SocialFresh Charlotte 2009 was my first real social media speaking gig. I sat on a panel with Kipp Bodnar, Jeff Cohen and Nathan Gilliatt. It seems like a lot more than a year ago. Tom called it “Internet time.”

So much has happened in that intervening year. SAS has gone from having a few dedicated social media explorers to an ever-growing roster of practitioners using social media tools to support bottom-line objectives. People have stopped asking “Why?” and started asking “How?”

It’s been an exciting process, going from a grass roots effort to a company-wide priority backed up by training and educational resources. Plus, we launched SAS Social Media Analytics, using a coordinated social media approach that proved its value in the attention we received and the leads that came in the door.

For me personally, the past year has brought many more opportunities to talk with people about the value of enterprise social media and the ways you can structure your company for social media success. I’ve worked with dozens of SAS colleagues from offices around the world, presented at social media conferences and to groups of SAS customers. I’ve also just handed over the manuscript of The Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy, a book I wrote with Mike Barlow, to be published by Wiley in early 2011.

In some ways it feels like this year has been arc. And now it’s time to begin a new one; I’m joining the team at New Marketing Labs, the new media company founded by Chris Brogan, Stephen Saber and Nick Saber.

I first became acquainted with NML when I started looking for someone to help with the Social Media Analytics launch. I knew we couldn’t introduce a social media product with a press release, and NML did a great job helping us define our strategy and outreach campaign. Through that process I got to know Chris, Colin Bower and Justin Levy and saw what a great team they made, from a client’s perspective.

That perspective should help me in my new role as Executive Director. I’ll be overseeing client relations, as well as helping to develop new enterprise products and services. It’s going to be challenging, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun. We’re at the point in the growth and adoption of social media where it’s getting harder and harder to impress prospects and satisfy clients. The honeymoon is over. Only bottom line results will keep agencies in business. I suppose that should scare me, but it excites me. New Marketing Labs is up to the challenge.

I know some people will think I’m crazy for leaving SAS, which has not only embraced social media as a company, but is also leading the charge in business analytics. It was the hardest career decision I’ve ever made. I’ve had a lot of great experiences at SAS and worked with so many talented and enthusiastic people.

Like no other company I’ve ever experienced, SAS really does understand the value of treating employees and customers well, and that philosophy is the foundation of their success. It’s also the reason that people treat one another so well. I feel lucky to have been there and made the friendships I did, and I know those relationships will carry on.

I start at New Marketing Labs on September 1, and as much as I’ve enjoyed my visits to Boston, I’ll be staying put in North Carolina and joining the workshifting ranks (which also means I get to go buy office supplies — I love buying office supplies).

I can’t predict what I’ll be reflecting on a year from now, and I’m realizing that’s one of the most exciting things about this. We’re making this up as we go along. All of us. We will do some things right and some things wrong, and we will learn. And in the end, we will all be better for it.