Kat Powers


How low a Kat Number do you have?

KatLaughSmallNew goal in life: Seeing how many people can have a Kat number of 2 or fewer.

What am I talking about? So the Erdős number notes the mathematician who dedicated a great deal of his life to working with other mathematicians, writing papers together to figure out problems. If your Erdős number is 1, you wrote a paper with him. If your Erdős number is two, you wrote a paper with someone who wrote a paper with Paul Erdős. According to Wikipedia (crowdsourcing, folks) “only 134,007 mathematicians have an Erdős number, with a median value of 5.”

I think this isn’t just a math thing, this is a life thing. Whether it’s the Butch Ward edict that the “wisdom is in the room” or the general notion that two heads are better than one, I’m convinced great things come from bouncing ideas off others. Now I know that Dunbar’s number states I cannot have this sort of meeting-of-the-minds with more than a dozen at a time.

Granted, my entire career has been built on this premise that you get ideas out to folks and let them play with those ideas and make them their own. I bet I can codify that. If you’ve worked with me on a newspaper, project, or disaster, you have a Kat Number of 1. (That’s what, 22 newspapers, a few blizzards, a zombie game and a terror attack?) Basic formula: If you’ve worked with someone of a Kat Number of 1, you have a Kat Number of 2.

Examples of people with Kat Numbers:

  • Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You. Have you worked with Dorie? (She’s awesome, right?) That gives you a Kat Number of 2.
  • MA Attorney General Maura Healey has a Kat Number of 2, since I’ve worked in the same newsroom as her media maven Chloe Gotsis.
  • Ringo Starr has a Kat Number of 2, which he earned through a long interview with Krista Bradford (boss at The Good Search). Which means poor Paul McCartney has the high Kat Number of 3.

I shall presume Boston has a great number of Ones, and lots of Twos in the larger media markets. How big can one grow a personal network and not be Kevin Bacon? I’d say it’s totally on me to make that number higher, but I want us to work together on that. How big can we make that group of Kat Number 1?

ORGASM pizza and Domino’s Crisis Communications

Back in the mid-80s, when we all had feathered hair and I had a crush on a boy who worked at Papa Gino’s pizza, the way to get someone’s attention was to order an ORGASM pizza and leave his/her phone number as the pickup number. The gentleman upon whom I was crushing shared the codes the order takers would use for pizza toppings. O for onion, R for pepperoni (Roni), G for green peppers, A for anchovies, S for sausage, M for mushroom. Apparently orders came in to the phone line for this particular combination of toppings and had the home phone number for the chemistry teacher we didn’t think highly of, or the tennis coach who had comments about student’s thighs.

Now we have social media, and bored teenagers working in pizza shops have smartphones with access to the internet. There’s a pretty good case study over here at USC Annenberg on what to do when you’re faced with a crisis as it is presented on social media.

Essentially, a crisis triggers attributions of responsibility to the organization from stakeholders, along three dimensions: 1) whether the crisis has happened before or will likely happen again; 2) whether the event was controllable or uncontrollable by an individual or the organization; and 3) whether the crisis occurs within the organization or external to it. In this case, Domino’s as an organization was not directly responsible for this crisis, as the event occurred internally at the hands of employees, and this type of crisis had never happened before.

It’s an interesting, quick read, showing how you need to balance the rights of the company, the rights of the alleged nitwit teens, and the needs of your consumers when you’re dealing with a worldwide brand.