What Winter Storm Pax Has Taught Me

Winter Storm Pax has taken the South by storm (pardon the pun). In Georgia, around 105,000 people were or are still without power. Over half a million people were part of the Southern black-out in Virginia, Albama, and Georgia in total. I am part of the fortunate few that does not have to wait until Saturday (February 15th) or later to have service restored. It’s been quite an experience!

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It was scary at first feeling so isolated. Nights were cold and dark. Roads were blocked and there was not much to do. With no Internet access and limited cell phone service (and battery life), it was like a taste of the apocalypse to some. Sure, that may seem extreme but, in our connected culture, never underestimate the effects of isolation and doing things the slow way!

Three whole days of no power has given me plenty of time to reflect on a number of things. Part of me is disappointed power was not restored sooner.  I was caught in the midst of scheduling a bunch of posts and preparing some new shows. We had to cancel HorsePLAY! LIVE last night, which sucks, but we’ll bounce back!

Allow me to share some introspective and personal development tidbits…

Gratitude & Perspective

Like many of the folks in Augusta and the CSRA, I am grateful to have my electricity return.  It was easy to get bitter about being in the dark (quite literally) but when you think about all the engineers, police officers, fire men, and other emergency personnel away from their families for long stretches of time, a fresh perspective dispeled such angst. Some of these folks worked double or triple shifts to bring people back online quickly.

We all have had our own trials and tribulations to deal with during the aftermath of Winter Storm Pax.  Some have had damage to their homes and vehicles, others have had to deal with injuries and death. These realizations are humbling.  I am grateful now, more than ever, for what My family has and less worried about what we lack.

Without this perspective, it would be easy to be cynical or jaded. One could say the diligent efforts of Georgia Power and other companies was purely driven by self-interest; after all, getting customers back online ensures billability. On the flip side, we have already established the diligence and sacrificed required to restore electrical grids throughout the South. Let’s not forget the efforts to clear all the trees and roads.

As a whole, I think many of us focus too much on white whine and first-world problems. We forget how much bigger the world is and how fortunate we really are. Be wary not to develop a sense of entitlement, folks. Every day is truly a blessing!

My thanks go out to those facing the bitter cold and dangers while helping restore order!

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Why It Might Be Time To Dump Facebook

Everywhere I turn, a friend or colleague tells me Facebook recently sent them a nastygram about spammy behavior.  Each time, we have a laugh about it..  until someone gets suspended for the most asenine of reasons.  I have not been a fan of Facebook for a while but now it is only getting worse.  Let’s just say I am glad I did not put all my eggs in one basket…

As a free platform with full functionality out of the box, Facebook was a strong social network.  It started as a site for college students to network with each other and turned into something much bigger and better.  Facebook has blown up and become bigger than I am sure they originally anticipated.  In my humble opinion, they became too big too fast.

Due to the rapid surge in growth (and selling out with their IPO, which means now it’s all about keeping shareholders, not users, happy), Facebook has scurried to find ways to monetize.  Their strategy has been what we see so often: take away what we were already getting for free and water down the rest, essentially forcing people to pay if they want the same functionality.  It’s the old bait-and-switch at work.

The Facebook Bait-And-Switch - Make Friends, Then Pay For Them

Facebook – you don’t own my friends and fans!

The Facebook model is brilliant yet tragically commonplace: give it away for free, create a dependency (or addiction), then monetize and take our candy away.  On Facebook, we make friends and get fans only to find out they are Facebook’s property.  Fan Pages are almost completely useless now as only a small percentage of your subscribers will see updates unless you pony up some money.

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To Niche Or Not To Niche? The Urgency In Focusing On The Few, NOT The Masses

Today, I caught a tweet (one that was actually useful) leading me back to the Make Money Blogging article by BlogBuildingServices.com – GREAT read!  It got me thinking: do you REALLY need to have a “niche” to be successful as a blogger (or heck, even a writer)?  The short answer is NO..  But it certainly makes life easier.

If I compare my two main blogs, Yogizilla’s Blankity Blank-Blank (An NoF Portal) and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass Online (DPO), DPO is certainly the winner in terms of performance and visibility.  On a slow day, DPO gets 80-100 visitors and that’s regardless of whether or not there have been recent updates.  Yu-Gi-Oh! is the main focus of the site but I discuss anime, manga, and video games on DPO too!  Certainly, those topics are all things that have avid fans.  Anime, manga, and Yu-Gi-Oh! are certainly niches too.

It would seem that having a more diversified blog is not worth the trouble, right?  Not at all.  When I get hits on this blog, they are more quality hits.  Less spam, more real visitors, more returning traffic..  This is great for SMO purposes..  SEO, not so much.

Really, that’s where the magic happens with blogs: optimizing for social media and search engines (SMO and SEO, respectively).  Razor-sharp focus on a single niche can help but, if your focus is TOO small, you can over-optimize your content.  What I like about having two different blogs is that I get to use different writing styles; better yet, my Yogizilla-branded primary blog allows me to go off on tangents and somehow connect everything with often-subtle underlying themes. Continue reading

Marketing No-No’s: How to Scare Away Customers in Five Minutes or Less

With Summer coming to an end soon, I’ve decided to take some R&R and bring some long over-due projects to an end. This year has been quite interesting but one thing never changes: every month or so, I run into at least one over-zealous sales person. Few things turn off customers more than empty words, cliche statements, and typical sales talk yet even the best companies are plagued by individuals that I feel have a sort of diarrhea of the mouth, to put it bluntly.

Oh no - it's the scary sales guy!!

The bad thing about these sales people is that they bring a lot of heat to the rest of us, the few that know better than to use tired scripts and strong-arm tactics. It is something that has hurt the IT field, retail, and many other industries. Today, I want to hone in on the MLM/Direct Sales/Network Marketing industry because these types of business now account for more than half of the businesses in the United States (believe it or not). With these companies growing rapidly, everyone will be exposed, which can spell out good things or bad things, depending on what side you’re on and what sort of training the involved parties may have.

I’ll be clear about this for anyone that may have not read my other articles on the Network Marketing business: these types of franchises work but, like in any occupation, there’s good, bad, and plenty of ugly! If you ask me, many of the MLM folks I have encountered also seem to train with the same few people. Their scripts and systems vary a bit but you can always spot these folks from a mile away. They dress the same, use the same corny jokes, draw the same diagrams, and try to hard to exude positive energy, result-driven performance, and things that they think will attract customers and team members alike. These folks couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone that listens to these folks and has been exposed to a similar business would believe these MLM folks all read the handbook on how to scare away customers as quickly as possible by the way they overwhelm you with robotic sales speech!

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Bad Recruiters, Identity Theft, and What To Do About It

Job hunters throughout the United States have cited that their biggest sore point in the job hunt is dealing with inept recruiters. Who can blame them? Recruiters typically repost the job ads that the hiring companies post on their corporate sites then only do the bare minimum to screen and prepare candidates. It has been my personal experience in recent

years that, if a recruiter does more than give you a vague description of the job and ask you to tailor your resume to include certain buzzwords, you have yourself a keeper. The general approach seems to be this: collect as many close fits as possible, herd them together, sell the hype, and hope that the candidates can do the rest of the work for you.

The reality is that recruiters are suffering along with job seekers. Job market saturation is arguably the byproduct of overseas outsourcing, widespread “right-sizing”, 1990’s dot-com collapses, and, of course, 9/11. Our economy has taken a hard hit and, as more and more fresh college graduates enter the workforce, it is not getting any easier, even for the most seasoned veterans in their fields. Recruiters are dealing with easily three or four times the workload that was expected in the “golden age” of the mid-90’s. There is also far more competition from other staffing and recruiting firms. The Recruiting Animal blog cites that the typical recruiter handles anywhere from 26-30 projects at a time on average, which is definitely more than recruiters experienced even 5 years ago. It’s no wonder recruiters are spending less time preparing and qualifying their candidates!

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Business Opportunity, Scam, or Pyramid Scheme?

If you ever visited my page on MySpace, you may have read my rantings about Corporate America and the many ways people are scammed. Since so many people are out there trying to deceive us, it’s no wonder everyone is paranoid. At this point, someone can offer you the cure to cancer and we’d turn it down in fear of being scammed. Now, more than ever, our society is one based on fear and it’s a real shame.

Fear is what makes people turn away from perfectly-viable opportunities. If you think about the many “business opportunities” we are all offered at some point in our lives, one can’t help but to think “which one of these is actually legit??” Sadly, there is no science to this so it’s always going to be hit or miss. Any opportunity we consider in life, whether it’s the next career move or just the next play in a game of cards, is a constant balancing of risk and reward. If the potential reward outweighs the potential risk, then you can take a measured risk. Timing, of course, is always a factor but that’s not what we are discussing here right now.

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To Sell Or Not To Sell

To sell or not to sell?  It’s something that comes up often in our lives but let me be clear that I am not talking about stocks, auctions, or anything of the sort.  I am referring to the choice between going the career path or going into business for yourself.  Now, I can go into the advantages and disadvantages between both paths but I really want to keep this one short because I’m long overdue for some good blogs and, boy, do I have a lot of rough drafts that need completion!

The simple reality is that most people are not cut out to go into business for themselves.  Even those that have “successful” businesses, may not have solid plans or what it really takes to make a business truly profitable.  Consider the folks that you know are in business for themselves.  Chances  are you know maybe one person that is really living the good life but the rest of them are probably busting more tail than they did when they did the ‘ol 9-to-5 thing.  If you just consider that and then look at the fact that a good lot of people go into business to get their time freedom back, they’ve already failed coming in through the door with their great business idea.

Let’s face it: most people are not brilliant enough to think outside of box or, better yet, realize that there is no box.  Some people need to be micro-managed.  Most folks are not self-starters and need to be told what to do; in fact, they love the rat race, though they may say otherwise.  If you are the cut-throat type and/or just a social butterfly, a career path just makes sense.  I’m not saying that other folks won’t survive but I’m saying that brown-nosing, social networking, and aggressive effort are often the keys to career paths, not what your skills are, how nice you are, or things that may matter otherwise.  When you go into business, the operational stuff becomes more relevant but, regardless, business will always be like high school: a popularity contest.

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