In Conversation with the Conversation Agent

April 9th, 2009 by CASUDI


Valaria Maltoni interviewed Caroline Di Diego entrepreneur, angel and principal of INCLINEDESIGN: Architectural and Interior Design Solutions and the driving force behind Bank-on-Rain.

Valeria is a conversational marketer, consultant and speaker who works effectively with CEOs and senior management teams to make a significant impact on the areas that are important to them: the organization’s measurable objectives of growth and profitability. Here is her interview with me last week:

Valeria: It’s a small step from the About You page to the front page. And it’s yet another example of the power of social media as a set of tools that can help us connect with people and their ideas.

I followed up with Caroline (alias CASUDI), who was among the first to post a comment. After reading about one of her recent projects, I thought there could be opportunity for angel investors to connect with this entrepreneur.

Why are you online?

Caroline: I had been following Internet technology for several years prior to 1993, when an entrepreneur I was mentoring said to me:

“The internet has changed the world, though most people don’t realize this yet! Everything we do in terms of communication, commerce and entertainment will be via the Internet. Those who don’t get with the program will be left well and truly behind in the 21st century”.

I was on-line the next day, signed up with Saturn.net as CASUDI, and have embraced the internet ever since. Speed of communication & information access is the WHY for me!

What prompted to post in “About You” at Conversation Agent?

Caroline: Conversation Agent (via your website) has been a major contributor to my getting involved in Social Media, so here was an opportunity to contribute in return.

The “About Me” was perfectly aligned with a recent first blog post “Am I really blogging?” which was “about me”.

I had been hesitant to use an avatar and talk about myself when I got started in SM; however, the more I read, the more I realized that to be successful in the social media space, others (my connections and potential connections) had to relate to a REAL person, doing real things and having real conversations!

What are you working on that you feel will connect ideas and people?

Caroline: I am working on connecting One-of-A-Kind residential design “ideas” created by INCLINEDESIGN, with a group of potential clients in China who have expressed an interest in what my partner and I design. I am really jazzed about going to China in April and talking directly about our design, making the connection between our style of residential design and certain influential individuals I am meeting with.

Also, I am working with two entrepreneurs who are eager to test a simple “grass-roots” solution for collecting and storing rainwater in Rwanda, Africa. I am building the awareness of this non-profit project via social media, blogging, Twitter and Twine, and obtaining lots of relevant feedback in a very short time to move the project forward effectively.

I am working with an exciting high-tech start up, putting together the initial communication materials to raise a small amount of Angel funding. I expect to connect the idea with an Angel investor.

Who would you like to connect with?

Caroline:

  1. 1. Valeria Maltoni (mission accomplished!)
  2. 2. Guy Kawasaki
  3. 3. The government official in Rwanda who will endorse the Bank-On-Rain test project.
  4. 4. The sponsor who has a ‘circle of influence’ which would bring our architectural and interior design
    solutions to the next level of recognition, and new residential design opportunities.

When communicating an environmental “GREEN” message in the 1980/1990’s what happened then, with the tools you had at the time, vs. your recent experience with Bank-On-Rain?

Caroline: In 1982 I had identified that to get an environmental message across you needed to be on TV, with a credible documentary. Since I had never produced a film, this was an added challenge! Learn fast and get the best to help you. I partnered with an incredible wildlife cinematographer, who had fled Poland during Solidarity. We shot 16mm film.

For our first film I invited the best BBC wildlife film editor to vacation at Lake Tahoe, so I learned editing from the best. I established a relationship with WNET in New York, who contracted us for our first film, with George Page as narrator. Steven Schwarz (who wrote Godspell for Broadway) composed my film score. The TV program aired in 1998 as part of the Nature series. We received several national and international awards.

However, to continue within the confines of an established TV series geared to obtaining ratings was not in line with getting an environmental message across!

This inspired me to create a series, “Essence of Life” (water as the essence of life), consisting of four TV programs including the one that had aired on PBS; featuring water in the desert environment, one film per category; desert river, desert lake, desert marsh and desert springs.

Leonard Nimoy agreed to host and narrate the series, and that’s another story! ITN agreed to sponsor the broadcast. Hearst Entertainment did the international distribution. The series was competed in 1996! (FYI, when producing a wildlife documentary where we filmed everything ourselves, we needed at least two nesting seasons to obtain the material necessary to meet the production standards we had defined for ourselves!) The individual films garnered 18 awards. I never recouped the monetary investment, however we had several notable successes along the way.

These successes included:

  • • Nevada ranchers started cleaning the tail-water before returning it to the river, understanding there
    was an incredible diversity of wildlife, which was dependent on that water down-river.
  • • The Stillwater Marsh near Reno Nevada, was saved with assistance from the NWA, and our film obtained
    $30M in funding for the wildlife habitats.
  • • A dialog was started between the Native Americans and both local & national conservation groups.
  • • Local city officials began to understand there were others who had a claim to the rivers!
  • • Numbers of wild horses were adopted owing to the spectacular wild horse footage portrayed in
    “Desert Springs”.

FAST FORWARD to 2009.

I had been helping a local entrepreneur start a rain catchment business in the San Juan Islands, and as a result the not for profit Bank-On-Rain concept was hatched.

In the last three weeks since introduction, we have received numerous emails as a result of the above post and having a Bank-On-Rain twine within the top 100 twines. Several important conversations have been initiated; one being about the importance of creating a sustainable model, another being that doing a test village in Rwanda was a good scenario provided approval from the Rwanda authorities was received and they were generally receptive to ideas like Bank-On-Rain.

In addition several potential partners have been identified and are being contacted for discussion. Certain avenues have been quickly ruled out as a result of savvy input.

My personal take is that in the past month I have done the equivalent of several years groundwork for creating a credible message. I am well on the way of proving a concept, identifying many of the “potholes” to be encountered along the way, and I have made many valuable connections, including with you; connections which might previously have taken years!

All for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than producing award-winning documentaries, and all for a ‘droplet’ of my time, in comparison. THANKS!

CASUDI April 2nd 2009. Caroline Di Diego

___________

Valeria: We could test the six degrees of separation concept. Who could you introduce Caroline to so she can move closer to making connection # 3 and 4? I’ll be delighted to introduce her to Guy Kawasaki.
___________
Comments:
This was an amazing experience for me to be interviewed by Valeria. I have received numerous positive and helpful emails relevant to Bank-On-Rain, and it really looks like we are going to make the test in Rwanda happen later this summer. I have been urged to do something about the water situation in Shanghai, clarify Washington “Rain” water rights and fund raise for a similar organization. Thank you for increasing the awareness of the Bank-On-Rain mission.

I’ve also had two people wanting to join my filming crew. Unfortunately, I had to disappoint them since it’s been over 15 years since I produced films! I’d also like to clarify that I’ve never done a narration as I have been lucky enough to have had George Page (Nature Series), Leonard Nimoy for the “Essence of Life” series and Peter Graves for the “Doing Things the Old Way” documentary.

Valeria’s post also motivated an entrepreneur to contact me thinking I had an” in” with the Sierra Angels, an Angel group where I am a founding member! You never know this might be a great investment opportunity!
CASUDI April 9th 2009. Caroline Di Diego

Original interview and comments at Conversation Agent.

Please email me at casudi@esse-group.com and of course, find me on twitter@CASUDI.

Caroline Di Diego
www.inclinedesign.info
INCLINED TO DESIGN

4 Responses to “In Conversation with the Conversation Agent”

  1. Dave deBruyn Says:

    Great interview & glad to hear more about the projects you are working on. Keep up the good work!

  2. Tyler Diguistini Says:

    Bank on rain looks like a marvelous idea! Based on some of my Malawi experience transportation cost can be a bit expense. Have you been able to determine what the cost would be to locate the product to individual villages/communities? What will be the cost for each system and or the first set of systems? Have you thought about how corporate or individuals could sponsor a single or multiple system in a village? Cheers.

  3. Inclined to Design Says:

    […] My journey into social media continues to fascinate and excite me. The incredible people I have met, the opportunities that are just now opening up, and most importantly how it can be used as a tool to further social projects like Bank-On-Rain. The environmental documentaries I produced were designed to bring about social awareness of water as a diminishing resource, and Bank-On-Rain focuses on grassroots solutions. Check out my comment on an “about you” post and my conversation with Valeria Molteri . […]

  4. Inclined to Design Says:

    […] My journey into social media continues to fascinate and excite me. The incredible people I have met, the opportunities that are just now opening up, and most importantly how it can be used as a tool to further social projects like Bank-On-Rain. The environmental documentaries I produced were designed to bring about social awareness of water as a diminishing resource, and Bank-On-Rain focuses on grassroots solutions. Check out my comment on an “about you” post and my conversation with Valeria Maltoni […]

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