What Well Over 10 Years Of Blogging & Consulting Have Taught Me

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.”  That provides strong principles and values, a useful framework, to live by but is it a useful definition of purpose?  I offer a simpler take:

The purpose of life is to find your true purpose.

This article will explore my journey, not for the sake of mere self-indulgence but for the purpose of helping you on your own journey and perhaps getting to know each other better.  I hope that, by the end, you’ll realize just how valuable and accomplished you are.  If you’re at a crossroads in life, this may be the article for you.  If you have any thoughts to share, please don’t be shy.  This one will be quite the journey!

This epic collection of stories and scattered thoughts will cover a lot of things, including, but not limited to:

  • How writing can be a tool of self-discovery and self-improvement
  • What I’ve learned through running Y3B as a vehicle for consulting
  • Going beyond establishing expertise and credibility
  • Toxicity and the dangerous brand of knowledge (i.e. bad advice)
  • Why culture/personality fit trumps technical knowledge and experience

Tomorrow, on April 6th 2017, Y3B turns 11 years old and it will mark an over 20-year journey.  While I’ve dabbled in just about everything and worn many hats, writing and technology have always been passions.  The challenge is translating those passions that into what Mark Schaefer calls sustainable interests, a concept that I have long taught and believed in before the book “Known” was published.  That said, you really should read “Known” and check out the discussion groups on it.

known-book-mark-w-schaefer

I believe blogging is still one of the most powerful tools for those wishing to be known.  On a greater scale, if you wish to establish credibility and visibility, the written word is still one of the most compelling ways to do so.  Writing forces you to really think through your ideas in a way you may not do on a podcast and certainly not video, where you may be more preoccupied with production quality instead of the relevant, uniqueness, and importance of your message/stories.  Writing is easily the most powerful form of communication and it is something everyone should strive to improve upon, if for no other reason than to structure your ideas and self-identity better.

 

I’m Not A Blogger, This Is Not A Blog

When folks have asked me over the last few years what it is that I do, I never answer with blogging.  It’s not my focus or core competency.  I believe that calling yourself a blogger diminishes the value of what you do; furthermore, your blog should be a catalyst for bigger things.  The term “blogger” has become synonymous with hobby or passion, not profession or purpose.  That’s fine if your blog is truly a labor of love but, if it can be so much more, why wouldn’t you develop it as such?

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2013 In Review: Never Work.. Do What You LOVE!

Seeing how it’s been a very busy year for me and I haven’t done much writing on any of my sites (I know, shame on me), I figured I would share my 2013 In Review report with you all along with some advice for startups, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses alike.  The stats are not by any means stellar unless you consider that I have been posting to this blog about 1-3 times a month whereas in previous years I updated Yomar.me weekly, if not daily (it was quite a grind alongside everything else).  This year, I’ve been testing the waters further with audio and video..  I am enjoying myself much more, even though I love to write.

Interestingly enough, while I have scaled back social media efforts and blogging here, I have been posting more regularly to my Yogizilla-branded Tumblr and DuelPassOnline.com, where I mainly share fun geeky stuff like gaming and anime.  The response has been great, which has shown me that this marketing/business space is rather crowded and I really need to focus more on my roots: gaming and technology..  As well as creative writing.  Expect just that in 2014!

Now for the recap!  The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.  I hear the monkeys are trained properly, thus very little fecal matter has been transferred to the reports.  Good to know – poop is only good in controlled environments or with proper presentation..  Just ask Sony or Apple (sorry, I could not resist).

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,600 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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An Internet Buffet – Satire, SEO, and SoMe

Hello and welcome to my brand-spanking-new weekly blog and social media round-up, tentatively branded as the Weekly Internet Buffet!

NOTE:  Due to my work over at Geeky Antics Network Global (GANG) and HorsePLAY! LIVE, I will not be continuining my weekly round-up..  At least for now!

20131025-150541.jpg

Special thanks to DonasDays on BlogSpot for the neat image and San Faryna for the blog soup idea!

This is similar to what I have done before with the previous #supportathon and comment brigade campaigns but with a greater focus on curation. I believe that the most successful, accomplished, and fulfilled marketers embrace and live out the 3Cs of online business and conversions (a’la CRO, networking, and lead nurturing). Consumer, Curator, and Collaborator (more on that at another time). The 3Cs remind us that wearing different hats is okay and, more importantly, they help us appreciate the value in all [content] marketing.

With this ongoing initiative, I hope to support lesser-known thought leaders and content marketers while curating some useful, if not fun, tidbits from around the Internet. Of course, this will make it much easier for me to keep up with all the sites I maintain. Everyone wins!

In this manner, I hope we can become collaborators and support each other in more meaningful, consistent ways. So, without further ado, here are my picks for the week!

Stan Faryna is an old friend and I always admire his passion and poetic expression. Each of his pieces always seem to balance philosohical, philanthropic, and practical perspectives. In this continuation of the long-running Social Media DOHs series, Stan revisits favorite themes in value and self-promotion. His creative style will have you quite contemplative and perhaps introspective, too.

http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/self-promotion-value-and-other-social-media-dohs/#more-5274

Tim Haverford at NISM (National Institute for Social Media) Online shares five simple reasons why every professional should invest more time in their online presence. Truth be told, I usually skip list-based posts but this is a solid, concise article. For me, the main take-away here is protecting your brand. If you don’t build up your online reputation, someone else will.. And that also leaves your intellectual property at great risk!

http://nismonline.org/five-important-reasons-why-professionals-should-invest-more-time-in-their-online-presence/

Twitter IPO speculation has been quite pervasive in the last month or so and with good reason. No other social network has the global reach, cultural adaptability, and accessibility that Twitter does. My pal Christian Hollingsworth compares Twitter with Facebook and, clearly, we see his social media preference. I am with him, too!

What will the Twitter IPO bring or take away? It is really anyone’s guess. I just hope they have a sustainable revenue model in place. My concern is that Twitter will start to scale back features and kick third-party supporters in the balls, much like Facebook did when they went public…

http://smartboydesigns.com/speculation-surrounds-twitters-ipo/

Obligatory SEO-related content? Absolutely!

The next three links revolve around Google Hummingbird for the most part. First off, SearchEngineWatch (that’s right: not Moz) explains what “Not Provided” means in Google Analytics.. And how we, as small businesses and solopreneurs, can brace ourselves and adapt better.

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2298881/What-Not-Provided-Google-Hummingbird-Mean-for-Small-Business-SEO

Queries/keywords Not Provided? No problem!

Note the evolution of SEO in just five years or so, as visually represented there. The HubSpot “Evolution of SEO” infographic is fantastic. In fact, if you struggle getting clients to see the value in your SEO services, this is a great tool. We see that a variety in content and creativity have more value now than ever before.

SEW reinforces what many of us veteran SEOs already knew and have advised for close to a decade: breadth of content is the key. This means casting a wider net while listening and measuring more. See what works for you and try new things. In short, keep content fresh and don’t force/spam niche or specializations just to rank up. Yes, that means you can’t just produce lists every day, though those have their place.

http://www.searchenginepeople.com/blog/what-programmatic-marketing-is-all-about-and-why-it-matters.html

Speaking of breadth of content, SEP sure has a wide variety of content. I trust the Search Engine People.. And Ruud Hein is also quite awesome and entertaining! I appreciate that they tackle all facets and tangent issues in SEO and Inbound Marketing. The above link will make a little sense of new marketing buzz words. WTF is programmatic marketing, anyway?

Back to this Not Provided business, KISSmetrics provides three great work-arounds for uncovering queries/sources which revolve around user behaviors, CPC/SEM, landing pages, and less traditional SEO tactics. Clearly, we can’t rely on Google or even Bing for our analytics and webmaster tools, so here are some ways we can be more self-sufficient and aware of how our content really performs.

http://blog.kissmetrics.com/unlock-keyword-not-provided/

“Recognize your influence. Recognize timing. Be intentional with your words.”

This powerful quote comes from former Navy enlistee and present-day Qualatech team leader/trainer, Matt Law. The next link goes to his article, which digs deeper into what leadership really means.. As well as the power our words really have!

Qualatech is an IT firm that seems to be very principle-driven.. In this article, they put the technical and tactical stuff aside to get to the root of what makes organizations thrive. While IT as a whole is struggling, this a Washington DC consulting firm thrives. My good friend James St. John pointed me to this article but I can see why Qualatech has thrived in what is a very saturated and underappreciated industry: they recognize the importance of true leadership, not mere management, and empowering others

http://www.qualatech.com/the-fishing-trip-that-started-qualatech

I love the narrative element here. A simple fishing trip becomes a life-changing event. The Navy Lieutenant could have easily served his own purposes and tell Matt to re-enlist but, instead, he tells him he has a greater purpose. Certainly, anyone that started an IT firm and stuck with it before the dot-com flops of the late nineties can tell you that was the way to go.

Sidebar: This article also makes a strong case for the power of storytelling and the influence the right words have.. And y’all know how passionate I am about such topics!

Today, Qualatech is a muliti-million-dollar operation and they continue to grow while others close doors and venture into more viable fields. I absolutely love this inspirational story. Thanks for sharing, James and Matt!

http://osakabentures.com/2013/10/startup-founders-who-give-back-in-listly/

There’s a quickie from another friend and collaborator of mine, Saul Fleischman. If you are looking to network with other startups and collaborate, add your name into the peer support list[ly] cited there. As Guy Kawasaki would say, it’s better to share a bigger pie than to desperately hold onto a tiny little slice. Saul is a big fan of give-and-take/reciprocation. He is also based out of Japan, which may be more convenient for those of us not in the Americas. Saul is as authentic as they come so, if you seek honesty and objectivity, he is your man!

…and now for something completely different…

http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-satire.htm

Satire and irony may be two of the most misunderstood literary devices out there so, when my son asked for help with his lit project, I thought it would be prudent to make sure I explained things properly. WiseGeek is one of those sites I enjoy when I feel like brushing up on my knowledge, or just reminding myself that I am a geek, above all. This is an informative read, even if you do not consider yourself a writer.

Did you know there are three main types of satire (and apparently a fourth and fifth kind)?

These describe the tone and style of the satire, rather than the subject matter. Interestingly enough, all I could think of was political satire at first.. I am now informed!

Hope you all enjoyed this week’s picks!

If I missed your submissions, feel free to post on our SEO Facebook group or email me.

DragonBlogger.com Amazon Kindle Fire Contest (and Quick Net Tablet Comparison)

UPDATE: I may very well post my first YouTube video in a long time.. There, I’ll share my thoughts on the awesome DragonBlogger.com Kindle Fire Giveaway and the myriad of competing net tablets out there. WOOHOO!

…And here is the video, as promised!”

If your household is anything like mine, chances are everyone wants electronics for Christmas and it’s no secret that Internet tablets are all the rave right now. Thing is, the choice is tough with so many great options out there (are every point in the price spectrum, too). Fortunately, DragonBlogger.com has made the decision easier. Justin’s excitement for the Amazon Kindle Fire has extended into a full-blown Kindle Fire Giveaway targeted at bloggers and social media enthusiasts!

Currently, I blog to you from an iPad2 I won thanks to the wonderful folks over at Unbounce.com. I like the iPad2 but can’t wait for my Samsun Galaxy Tab to get here from Woot.com (then my wife, the resident Apple nut, can take this over. Like Justin G from DragonBlogger, I prefer Android tablets for their rich web browsing experience, Adobe Flash support, and more open platform.

The Amazon Kindle Fire is up there with my personal faves from Archos, Asus, and Samsung. It may lack the processing power and full-fledged Android Honeycomb OS but the price point makes it an excellent gift.. And a surprising performer for the price!

It seems everyone in my family wants one of these babies so winning one would rock… But with over 1000 entries currently in the run over at DragonBlogger.com and the process being a bit.. Involved.. I’m not holding my breath.

Last I checked, the Amazon Kindle Fire has built-in HDMI out but that’s just a bonus. With access to one of my favorite marketplaces, it’s a clear winner in my book. You get Amazon cloud, video streaming, ebooks, and more! If you get one of these tablets (I hope you win one too), spoil yourself with an Amazon Prime membership. It really pays for itself, especially if you order lots of stuff online like I do.

CORRECTION:  The Amazon Kindle Fire does not have an HDMI port unless you use an optional accessory.  It DOES, however, have a   Hi-Speed USB  (5-pin Micro-USB Type B) port.  I’m thinking it should support thumb drives and/or keyboard attachments with this port but, considering the Kindle Fire is running an older Android 2.3 Gingerbread custom build, that remains to be seen (at least first-hand).

If you can spend more, consider the Asus eeePad Transformer. The Android Honeycomb 3.1 and 3.2 Internet tablets are the closest thing to an online desktop experience, though it’s more akin to a netbook, for obvious reasons. With Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) out, the deals on Android 2.x and 3.x have started, though it won’t be until after the holidays that we will see the real price cuts.

I have also been impressed with the Archos products in terms of durability, touchscreen response, third-party support (read “Android marketplace access”), and features right out of the box. I got my son a ten-inch model and it is quite powerful, especially at the entry-level price. This Android 2.2 Internet tablet plays Adobe Flash, accesses almost the entire Android Market with around 88% compatibility with popular apps (yes, Ninja Jump and Angry Birds inclusive), and comes with neat features such as two USB supports, Bluetooth connectivity, and external storage support. This is impressive considering the top dogs do not come with all these features, at least not out of the box.

In spite of stiff competition, the Kindle Fire is poised to become a market value. At around $200, you get an INSANE amount of value that gives even the iPad2 some competition! Of course, if you can win an Amazon Kindle Fire by blogging, liking, sharing, and tweeting daily (as allowed), I’d say it is a safe bet you will NOT be disappointed – hurry, though, as the contest winners will be announced December 16th, 2011!

Enter the DragonBlogger.com Amazon Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Dragon Blogger Kindle Fire Giveaway Sponsors

These awesome sponsors made this giveaway possible and you should pay them a visit and thank them!

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Triberr Rocks, But Not For The Reasons Most Love It Or Hate It

So here I am doing my usual social media thing when I get mentioned on OsakaBentures.com via Disqus.

Before I go off on a tangent, I want to be clear.  I dig Saul and I appreciate that he sticks by his ideals and principles.  I just can’t agree with his views on Triberr, even if it’s the popular opinion (and I may get some tomatoes thrown at me), because it’s that sort of stuff that has made people hesitant or disdainful towards Triberr, IMHO.

Now allow me to rant about why I feel Triberr ROCKS but most people just “don’t get it”…

As I do my usual SEO schtick, I find tons of mis-representative content about Triberr.  Just Google “Triberr” – it’s rather overwhelming!  I’ll quote Nicole Crepeau’s Triberr article from Coherent Social Media:

In fact, there are things I love about Triberr:

I love the goal for which it was established: to give more exposure to smaller bloggers.

I love that being in Tribes can help keep your blog in front of your network and keep their’s in front of you.

I really like the new headline testing feature.

I like the way Triberr’s founders, Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo are ever present and responsive, and generally keep the discussion positive and professional–even when things have gotten a bit rough.

I like the fact that it’s working for people and increasing traffic to their blogs.

I like Dino’s thoughts about a union for bloggers, to enable bloggers to make a living at blogging.

There’s only one thing, actually, that I don’t like about Triberr:

I don’t like the auto-tweeting. 

I quote this not due to laziness but because I believe there’s no point in regurgitating what’s already out there on the blogosphere, especially when the aforementioned seems to be the consensus.  The automagical part is something folks either love or hate.  We get that.

No Triberr - From Coherent Social Media

"No Triberr.. BAD Triberr!" - Thanks Coherentia.com!

The problem with Triberr is not Triberr..  It’s YOU (shame on you!).  Okay, maybe not *you* specifically, but people that don’t use it in an ethical manner or at least manage expectations properly.

What we have here is an issue with semantics, framing, positioning, or whatever you want to call it.

I don’t get excited about the reach multiplier aspect.  I do SEO and I’ve seen how pure traffic is worthless unless you are engaging and have some decent concept about inbound marketing, authenticity, and conversions thereof.  You need to build trust, help others, and show you care before others do the same in return.

Now, what DOES excite me is what Dino Dogan has often told me in private and in public:

Triberr is the great equalizer.

Yes, I know, we have some a-listers in Triberr and they’re mostly good people.  Truth be told, I’d say 60-80% of the current users on Triberr would likely not be on there if there were not these sorts of social media and online marketing rockstars.   Some folks just want their link juice, so to speak.  In spite of those folks that draw in the fanboys, suits, and bean counters, I still believe in this vision: giving smaller bloggers and thought leaders a chance to find their own captive audience.

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OH NOES – I’m Breaking The Blogging Rules!

DISCLAIMER: If this is your first time visiting my blog, it may seem I am being dismissive or condescending. Not at all.. A lot of the stuff I’ve slacked on has great value but I know not to let it drive me batty. One step at a time.. This is meant to be a light-hearted, fun blog entry, poking fun at myself. Please take it with a grain of salt and thank you for visiting!

I am breaking some blogging rules, especially this week (you know me, I’m a bit of a rebel and a crazy *wink*):

  • I am only updating once this week (but that’s typical these days).
  • This particular blog entry won’t be “significant” by most standards.
  • There will be no “powerful call to action” here.
  • I am not fully leveraging my blog to “sell” or convert.. Though I probably should!
  • I have not added many info products nor have I created many upsell opportunities on my main blog.
  • I have not set up additional landing pages (just a couple) nor have I focused on opt-in rates and permissions marketing.
  • Monetizing efforts are minimal, at best, but it serves my personal goals right now.
  • Blogging schedule.. What’s that?

I’d like to call this…

Slowing down to speed up.  (a.k.a. quality over quantity)

…Others may call it cheating, being undisciplined, or a blogging felony. Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to their opinions!

Accomplice in Cheating Felony

Will you be my accomplice in cheating a little?

It’s been a very productive week but, unfortunately, I have not had as much creative time due to other projects.  I did put together a rather epic guest blog for UNbounce and I am working on some other guest blogs, including one that I am doing for my pal and fellow Online Entrepreneur and Business Consultant, Dave Gallant.  Still working away on some stuff for Dino Dogan, too.  (I’ve been working on my name-dropping skills as well – HA!)

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Are You A Serious Blogger Or A Hobbyist?

QUICK UPDATE:  My stock, YOMAR, is rising up on Empire Avenue – it’s strangely exciting to see how my social influence ranks throughout various communities.  Come visit me!

If you’ve been around the blogosphere enough, chances are you’ve come across blogs preaching the importance of planning out content, doing SEO, and monetizing your efforts. Most of the advice is sound. It makes sense to make blogging more worthwhile, if not lucrative. The first real step we bloggers should take is asking ourselves…

Am I a serious blogger or a hobbyist?

I’m surprised more people do not tackle this aspect of blogging. Rewards and success come in different flavors. Really, I’d say the longevity of your blog comes down to two things:

  • Sustainability. WordPress.com initiated postaday2011 and postaweek2011 as a way to create urgency for bloggers. Some “experts” will tell you should blog 3 times a week, if not daily, but can you keep this up? For how long?
  • Passion. Blogging is more of a selfish act and it should be.. BUT blogging solely about what interests others will bore you. Are you passionate about your subject matter or just following trends? You need a balance.

Blogging, like any business endeavor or project, can become a chore if you’re not focused on your goals and motivations. Product longevity depends on a number of factors so you have to consider what the heart of your “thing” is and how long that focus will work. You have to be honest with yourself here. Let’s look at the things you should consider before stepping things up with your blogging efforts (or not)… Continue reading

Would You Rather Live In A House Alone On The Hills? (A Lesson In People Skills)

Social media and blogs.

It means something different to everyone and that’s great – diversity is the spice of life, after all! When I think about social media, I think of interactive marketing; that is, engaging people in meaningful ways, building conversations and organic community-driven content, and creating lasting impressions. The lure of the blogosphere is pure, honest communication, ideally with a strong sense of community attached. Community is the operative word. Certainly, there are striking similarities and overlap between social media and blogs. Heck, blogs are social platforms, when fully unlocked…

What does social media and blogging mean to you?

The interactive marketing approach has a simple prerequisite: caring about people. If you genuinely try to help or take interest in people, good things will come (say, for instance, starting REAL online conversations ). In fact, Christian Hollingsworth of SmartBoyDesigns.com expresses the value of genuine selflessness in ways few others can. I highly recommend checking out his blog as it’s one of those rare finds that has useful information and compelling stories all In one place. Christian’s blog serves as social proof of how catering to human audiences can very well outweigh technically-heavy SEO and SMO efforts.

If it is a known fact that PEOPLE (customers, audiences, clients, team members, and fans) drive our business, why don’t more folks value more people?

You may contest that statement by saying, “Don’t loyalty programs do just that?” Sure, loyalty programs have been “all the rage” in the past six years or so but that’s just more machination, not humanization. I feel that approach to customer appreciation and retention still misses the mark (though game mechanics are fun and effective). That’s for a whole other discussion, though…

Here’s where my analogy comes in (I promise this won’t be a shallow analogy, like those BloggingBookshelf.com warns of)! Ask yourself…

Would you rather live in a house alone on the hills or in a thriving community? Do you prefer a rural, suburban, or urban setting? What do you think that says about you?

There are two essentials components people seem to miss with regards to social media and blogs:

  • Context: Build messages that interconnect and are both relevant and significant. Frame and position comments so they have higher impacts.
  • Community: Engage people in authentic, compelling ways to build networks and natural referrals.

Let’s focus on the latter, which is where my analogy really comes into play.

Alone In The House On The Hills
I’d hate to generalize but doesn’t it seem that most businesses are very distant from their customers? It certainly would seem that they are oblivious to our real needs. All the billions of dollars that go into traditional marketing and silly research, all to target meaningless demographics. I mean, for Pete’s sake, some people outsource public relations, customer service, and marketing. Even social media management is outsourced.. WHAT?

I understand the need to focus on core operations but this approach lacks authenticity. It sends out the message to customers, “You’re not worth my time.” Key players in every business should become the face of their company. Look at Google’s Matt Cutts or, my personal favorites, D&D (Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo) of Triberr. These guys give otherwise faceless entities a real soul, which makes people care more.

From what I’ve seen, most businesses live in their own exclusive little bubbles, the lonely houses up on the hills. They’re so disconnected from the people driving their businesses that they’ve lost touch with the world as we know it today. More often than not, this breeds a sort of arrogance and ignorance. Hey, they’ve made it this far so why change things up now?

If you forget the people that got you where you are now, they’ll soon forget you. If people don’t matter to you, you won’t matter to them.

Those living far away from the rest of the world live through mediators and mere numbers. They make dangerous assumptions and mainly coast by on luck (brand power doesn’t hurt, either). They don’t try to make warm connections with the people “below them”. To them, their inner circle should only be comprised of highly-successful, high-class folks. Their elitist ways make them miss out on communities that may like to get to know the real people behind their brands and monikers.

Suburbia: I Like You If You Play By My Rules
Those that choose residence in suburban communities are closer to the rest of the world. They may have more struggles to keep them honest, if not humbled. Still, they like uniformity and may buy into the status quo. As such, they rather hang around people like them. Much like those living in their own lavish worlds far, far away, change scares suburbanites.

Now, don’t get me wrong: suburbia (or a more isolated rural life) is not bad in itself. We all deserve to upgrade our lifestyles after hard work and persistence. What I’m getting at here is that the suburban lifestyle still represents an exclusive mentality to some degree. At the very least, living in suburbia can create a comfort zone, making it hard to see beyond your immediate community, your self-imposed bubble (and the biases that come with that).

If you work from home in suburbia, the disconnect will be significantly greater unless you make a concerted effort to venture to the “great beyond”. Still, you should still recall what it was like when things weren’t quite as good.. Or maybe you’re struggling now and that reminds you to keep people on the forefront of all your efforts.

Hey, some of us live well beyond our means so it’s important to recognize and learn from that.

I look at a majority of businesses out there as suburban communities with so much uniformity, conformity,and familiarity that nothing really sticks out. This would be the complete opposite of what Seth Godin refers to as “being remarkable”. I’d place a particular emphasis on social media and blog execution when mentioning such shortcomings. It’s the same story repeated several times, with some slight deviations here and there. Whoopdy-do! If you fail to step outside that big box filled with congruent little boxes, you may very well be out of touch with those not in your particular bubble or inner circle. There is another world out there, you know!

The Urban Apartment Complex Dwellers Party With All
When you live in a mixed community, which is natural in urban settings (especially melting pot cities like NYC), it’s much easier to appreciate, if not embrace, diversity. Think of all the different stories in urban communities. These people represent the “average person” better than most homeowners.

The further we get away from the “renter” mentality, the less we can appreciate the very real struggles and consumer behaviors out there. This may very well be why sales are at all-time lows for many former powerhouse brands, especially in the retail, real estate, and financial sectors. Those too far away from the people that, really, make up most of the marketplace, have a hard time understanding honest working class folks.

When’s the last time the big wig living far, far away came by to ask for a favor (some sugar maybe)?

Chances are it never happened and never will. Most taste BIG success and forget what life was like before it. Their worldviews get warped and their minds close off to new, contrasting ideas.

These so-called “shakers and movers” share success stories that don’t speak to us because they are so lofty, preachy, or just full of horse dung. Those of us that live or remember living in tight-knit, “middle class” communities know how to relate to people. Thus, your choice of residence can very well reflect who you are as a professional whatever.

Imagine what savvy customers will infer from your social context and online presence (or lack of it): do they understand your intentions or are they calling you out on your less-than-genuine ways?

80/20, 1/99, 5/80 And Other Fun Numbers
Mitch York (About.com) wrote a piece on the 80/20 rule and how it may very well be outdated – I agree completely! I know this guy personally and have great respect for him. He’s a people person and, more importantly, he can admit when he is wrong. Mitch went from supporting the 80/20 rule to challenging it, simply because he placed more value on people.

Your typical bean-counting business entity focuses on the 20% of their customer base that generates 80% of their revenues. In a more realistic interpretation, it means they don’t care about you unless you’re a big spender. It’s a broken system but, truth be told, we can’t treat everyone, let alone our customers, equally.. So there’s some merit to the ‘ol 80/20 system…

Here’s the rub: those people in “lesser” communities and social circles ARE your business!

Who do you think deserves more of a reward: the customer that refers tons of business to you and is your best promoter, or the one that buys the big-ticket items but still “shops around”? Think about that a bit. Your attitude here can be a deal maker or breaker!

Our perspectives change as our lives change. This is why social media is crucial: it connects us with fresh perspectives and gives us needed reality checks. It also shifts the balance of power. We’re slowly but surely moving away from the 1-5% controlling all the wealth and/or influence. Audiences and customers are looking to connect with REAL people. Fakers are losing ground – step aside for the future industry leaders, suckahs!

The “urban dwellers” are usually the ones in the mix, meeting new people and building influence. There tends to be more trust and respect amongst close friends than between professionals. Knowing this, marketers are still talking (down) AT people or just making noise – it’s absurd! What do you respond more to: recommendations from friends you trust (and that care about your best interests) or those from highly-regarded professionals you respect?

No matter where you are in life or where you reside, don’t forget to look out the window. Better yet, walk out the door and visit people that help you challenge your own thoughts. You may very well be surprised what you learn!

Building Residential Communities With Blogs And Social Media
How do you get people to take interest and stick around?

It may very well be one of the toughest things to do when we try to get out of our comfort zones. Blogs and social media can ease this process but you have to do it the right way. Embrace diversity, which means accepting ideas that may be radically different to yours, even if you don’t agree. In doing so, people will be able to relate to you and rarely question your authenticity and intentions. They’ll come back because you made it worth their time.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: a business blasts a message to you (and oodles of other unsuspecting targets) about a new product or service and your only thought is, “Why should I care?” The social media space is becoming quite crowded, so it’s only natural we have some screamers, rambling on about stuff that doesn’t speak to us on a personal level.

While your place of residence may be nice, why not explore a little?

All communication mediums are bound to be tainted with lazy marketing and blanket messages. We’re seeing the same interrupt-based and intrusive marketing happening on the blogosphere and social media. GOOD NEWS: We can change all that as caring neighbors and good-will ambassadors.

EVEN BETTER NEWS: We have the opportunity to differentiate ourselves by reaching out to people and taking the extra steps to acknowledge those that truly appreciate relationships. Be real neighborly: knock on some doors and introduce yourself. Share some stories, maybe have some adult beverages together too. Like the old Snapple commercial, show people who you are by stating (implicitly, preferably), “I’m a real person!”

This warm marketing and social networking approach is particularly useful when reaching out to people we may have lost touch with or overlooked before. Take interest in what others are doing or trying to achieve. People love being remembered and recognized. BTW, I do too (Hint-Hint, Nudge-Nudge)!

If you look at the direction things are going in, there’s a shift from mass anonymity to everyone trying to share and, sometimes, identify who they really are. This self-discovery and self-valuation may very well be the face of things to come. Actually, it’s already here – just look at StumbleUpon, Facebook, Empire Avenue, LinkedIn, Klout, PeerIndex.. The list is virtually endless, and with good reason: we’re remembering what we lost in our lives and each other amidst all the noise and mindless/soulless consumption.

The Internet, much like old-school businesses, has been mostly faceless and soulless until recent years. Warm connections and thriving communities switch things up, giving people a sense of being welcomed, if not needed. The more personal the engagement, the more lasting the impression. Let’s ditch the mass-appeal one-size-fits-all stuff. It doesn’t really work, no matter what you think the numbers tell you.

…And here’s the part you could have skipped to (sorry about that):

The idea here is to build communities that make people want to take residence, or at least visit often. The change has to start with you. Build that trust and be a little vulnerable: your next friendly neighbor could very well save your lonely venture!

Are you on the top of a hill (no, you’re not a bill sitting on Capitol Hill but that works too!), screaming down at the people below? Maybe you just don’t bother and let others do the human interaction for you. What excites you more in a web site or business: a massive, faceless community or a smaller, more tightly-knit community?

I hope my analogy here has made you think about how your established residence in social media communities, blogs inclusive, really make people feel. We could all stand to go the extra mile to let someone know, “You matter to me.” I think I will start today… How about you?

No Bull: Taking No Prisoners When Telling Compelling Stories

I have a TON of content in the pipelines but I think this is one of those emotionally-charged articles that simply cannot wait. I’ve been catching up with my social media optimization (SMO) and blogging efforts. In doing so, I’ve met some really AWESOME geeks that, in a few words, have reminded me why I love a good storyteller!

I want to talk about two of these awesome geeks, little-known (at least for now) rockstar bloggers and storytellers, the elusive JJ and the ass-kicking Spartan Dino Dogan. I’m not usually one for fanboy rhetoric, I deplore it actually, but these two are amazing bloggers, brilliant visionaries, and smart business people. Here’s the main reason why:

They consult and insult in a professional manner that drives REAL value, without hype or excessive bias.

In our a world full of opinions, over-zealous believers (in anything, not just religion), and blind fanaticism, we’re bound to offend some with our contrasting thoughts and beliefs. The stronger our convictions, the stronger the offenses. Julie and Dino realize this so they don’t bother to walk on egg shells. They simply share their positions and beliefs on things and then explain what brought them to formulate their overall worldview and principles.

When sharing information and opinions, you have to balance passion in what you believe to be true or right with being open-minded and sensitive. The latter is huge. If you make some strong statements, be ready to back them up and receive criticism, which leads me to the next point…

Criticism is a GOOD thing.

I’d like to think that I am rather humble and approachable, but even I get excited when buckets of accolades come pouring in. Everyone needs some degree of ego rubbing and I’ll admit it’s nice. Affirmation, motivation, and support keep us driven and there’s only so much you can do within yourself to meet those inherent needs. We humans are social creatures, even if some of us dislike the masses due to ignorance and chest-beating hypocrisy.

Paul Wolfe’s article on stopping comment luvin’ really drives home what may be uncomfortable truths to some. Here’s my own take-aways or, better yet, revelations from the article:

  • Not everyone likes you.
  • Most will oppose you.
  • You may be “flying blind”.
  • Your ideas may just suck.

Let’s be REAL here: it’d be a dreadfully boring world if we all agreed on everything. The things that separate us can also bring us together. If you’re mature and dynamic enough, you’ll learn and change, as needed.

The real rub here is that your truth may be someone else’s lie. The bigger you get (and the more pervasive your personal brand, or virtual resume, becomes), the more you will be inevitably scrutinized and insulted. This is a necessary evil if you want to improve yourself and evolve your ideas.

I’ll recycle one of my favorite quotes to put it simply (and less wordy than I usually do):

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. –Arthur Schopenhauer

What this means to you and I is that great thinkers and innovators will always be met with contention. There is a very thin, almost invisible line between genius and crazy. You may be the latter but you never know until you take the plunge. To that end, I like Chris Brogan’s painfully simple “Launch And Learn” system: don’t over-think or worry, just go out and do it!

A simple shift of perspective goes a long way. Instead of viewing critics as mere trolls, try to draw value from what they say, even if the message is muddled with insults and stupidity. Call me a silly optimist but every bad situation can be turned around into something good!

Don’t just disagree for the sake of disagreeing.

Sure, I just said it’s good to disagree or be disagreed with but now I’m contradicting myself? I’m such a hypocrite (that’s good too because it shows evolving thoughts and personal growth). Seriously, what I mean here is simple: don’t be THAT guy.

Who is THAT guy?

The guy in question is the elusive individual that some refer to as a know-it-all or proudly stupid. These are folks that may be too oblivious or self-absorbed to see that they are just ignorant. They may dress up their attacks with so-called good intentions but, really, they just like to get a rise out of people.

These same people make bold statements to draw fodder for their mental warfare. It’s all about trying to uncover supposed fallacy, inconsistencies, and hypocrisy. That guy likes to discredit people to steal their thunder. Quite often, it’s because they have no real good ideas so might as well shoot down those others share openly. Whatever their motives, they are dangerous because they use knowledge for selfish and/or destructive things.

Don’t be THAT guy, m’kay?

You. are. a. cunt.

Depending on who you are, you’ll either laugh at that or be grossly offended.

Marketing, creative works, communication, business, simple human interaction.. Everything that involves opening up, storytelling, and being a bit vulnerable has a scary risk: people will often resort to insults when you made them feel small. You may have done it on purpose or by accident. Either way, you have to deal with it. Ignorance set ablaze can be quite damaging, to say the very least.

Women particularly get a raw deal when it comes to “getting intimate” with an audience. If a man shares a strong opinion, he is considered insightful or revolutionary (insert synonyms and other buzz words HERE). When a woman does the same thing, she is merely opinionated.. Or a cunt.

If communication is at the core of your business, and it should be, you have to become a word maven. Be wary of words and their connotations. Some topics and words are hot-button items, sure to set someone off. On the flip side, don’t be easy to offend. Words are, ultimately, what you make of them.

If heated debate after sharing a compelling story is unavoidable, try the following:

  • Thank them for the participation.
  • Relate to their stance somehow.
  • Share a story and your findings thereof.
  • Be authentic and as civil as possible.

Being the bigger person pays huge dividends and it’ll make the other person look like more of an ass too, if the situation calls for it. Kill ’em with kindness, as they say. Sound like a plan?

Take no prisoners. Go for the gusto. Stir debate. RAWR.

Back to Dino and JJ! Did I mention I love these two geeks? While their target audiences are slightly different, they both excite me because they take no prisoners. Love them or hate them, they keep pushing onward. They go all the way, with no hesitation, stirring debate to provoke thoughts and sharing useful, valuable stuff every step of the way. It’s awe-inspiring!

They each have their own unique style, underlying themes, and target audiences but they both:

  • Tell it how it is, making no apologies about it. At the same time, they’re not looking to call people out or mud-sling.
  • Write in a hard-nosed, emotionally-stirring manner that still manages to be focused, direct, and objective.
  • Value their supporters in real ways, rather than merely patronizing them.
  • Avoid hype and excessive bias or spin, sticking to facts and figures.
  • Share stories we can all relate to somehow, even if the subject matter is a bit obscure to some.
  • Know when to rub egos or give you a dose of reality, as needed (SEE Insultant and Consultant in Dino’s House (DIYBlogger.net))

Last but not least, JJ and Dino are amazing at edifying their peers and supporters. This makes stories really hit home for a wider audience. Their creative works feel very warm and inclusive. They’re not creating little elitist clubs for mere self-gratification and that, on it’s own, is truly remarkable!

Tell your story and be authentic.

Let’s gather around the campfire…

Good storytelling is hard to come by. Authentic experiences are all the more rare. With all the faceless, soulless entities out there, it’s easy to stand out if you’re simply being REAL. Each and every day, I am trying to become a better storyteller because I know it’ll help me become a better person (yes, it sounds cheesy.. sue me). More importantly, I know I am providing unique, valuable content, not peddling propaganda, rehashed junk, and silly, empty rhetoric.

Simply put, being authentic means not being under-handed. Be direct with your ideas and forthcoming with intentions. Don’t try to be a salesperson. Just do something that people will want to talk about and good things will come.

I know I derailed here a bit but I urge you to read any articles written by Dino, JJ, and their friends. It’s almost always guaranteed to be a good read if you keep an open mind. Just remember: when you tell a story, talk TO me, not AT me. Remarkable stories turn into engaging conversations.

Let’s Discuss:

Think back to the last time someone told you a story. Consider what inspired you or pissed you off…

  • What makes you feel like you really connect with someone, even if only afforded a few minutes to interact?
  • Do you prefer a more preachy or serious tone, or something different?
  • What differentiates storytellers most for you (think businesses, web sites, blogs, and other stuff)?
  • How do you think a creative gets a message to really hit home with an audience?

Any other thoughts? Please share. If you disagree with me, even better. Let’s be mindful of the other guests: keep it clean and constructive. I look forward to your wonderful and thought-provoking ideas, folks!

Y3B’s 50th Post And My Plans As A Writer, Gamer, And Entrepreneur

Hey guys and gals: this is my 50th post on Y3B – WOOHOO!

Now it may not seem like much to the more prominent bloggers, writers, social media rockstars, and master promoters out there but I’m pretty darn excited! I started Y3B as a sort of hobby but, when I realized just how much I love blogging as an extension of my passions in writing, marketing, video games, and creative pursuits thereof, I saw the urgency in ramping up my efforts. Here I am, world!

Prepare for one of my usual long-winded ramblings but, please, let me know if you can relate!

Finding The Perfect Balance In Blogging: Making A Living While Remaining Authentic

One thing I’ve tried to do, almost to a fault, is provide very detailed articles with little or no “content borrowing”. This is a raw, sometimes chaotic, all-original blog and, if I may say so, it’s more than most of the junk out there. Sadly, I don’t have the numbers to show for it but that is my fault. The problem I’ve also discovered is that, in covering all the bases, I leave little left to discuss. Considering the aforementioned, a big focus for me and all “creative engineers” is engaging our audience in ongoing conversations (in other words, retaining our visitors).

Blogging, like many creative ventures (i.e. video game and web design), is a delicate balancing act. We are charged with the responsibility of managing expectations and delivering on our promises. Our readers come to us because they found something they like and to NOT continue building upon that is a wasted effort, whether you’re trying to monetize or just do it for the love and passion of the experience. To that end I say, “Why can’t you do both?” Continue reading