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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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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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!

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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.

Jackie Chan Is NOT Dead: Internet Hoaxes & Lazy Content Marketing

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A few days ago, my oldest son told me Jackie Chan was dead. Naturally, my immediate reaction was great sadness and a feeling of immense loss. Like most other red-blooded males, I love kung-fu flicks and often annoy my significant other with them. I also love Jackie Chan as an actor, director, and person. That’s besides the point, though.. Jackie Chan’s death would be the worst celebrity loss since Michael Jackson, in my opinion.

There is an awesome success story too deep to discuss here (Wikipedia has a wealth of history and it is mostly on-point, if you are curious). My love for Jackie Chan runs pretty deep, and I don’t idolize celebrities like most. He possesses traits and core values similar to my own and, in many ways, I aspire to be half the man he is. Jackie’s antics, warm smile, and quirky personality are enchanting, as Guy Kawasaki would say. His sense of humor is tops, which is something my wife would say I lack, in spite of my own beliefs. *smirk*

Being a bit of a Jackie Chan fan boy, I could not simply accept this news at face value. A quick Google search for “Jackie Chan death” revealed that it was yet another Internet hoax. I was relieved and annoyed at the same time.

Are people so devoid of original ideas that their content must be limited to mere pandering and silly hoaxes/stunts? That’s a rhetorical question, BTW.

This is not by any means the only or last Jackie Chan Internet death hoax. It seems anyone who wants site traffic or attention simply panders by writing about celebrity gossip, famous deaths, and silly pop culture. Some may consider Jackie Chan’s sense of humor or comedy style rather corny or over-simplified.. But he is still far more entertaining than most online content today. Truth.

Sadly, there is more to this story. Part of the issues here is that social media and SEO will always be abused. That means there is a lot of junk and lies spreading around! I blame laziness mainly.

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Staying On Spec & Other Consulting / Subcontracting Tips

Thanks to Triberr, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Google+ (okay, sometimes LinkedIn and Facebook too), I have gotten to know many of you in the blogosphere and B2B space. I don’t need to tell you how hard consulting is, especially if you work from home. Understanding our collective challenges and drawing from our discussions and collaborations together, I have compiled some handy-dandy tips and insights. Today, amidst all the buzz about Valve announcements and SteamOS, I’d like to take a look at a subject that I can (and will) write a book about:

Consulting & Subcontracting Tips: How to Play Nice with Cients and Their Contractors / Coordinators

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Subcontracting is probably the easiest way to bridge the gap between major projects and supplement our existing revenue streams. Consultants and agencies almost always will take help if they have overflow work and feel overwhelmed. The risks and challenges I have experienced firsthand are as follows:

  • Less opportunity to build a relationship with the client.
  • Usually more about tactics than strategy and creative control.
  • As a result of the aforementioned, you essentially have to be a hired monkey.
  • Chances are your relationship will be short-lived regardless of value added.
  • More taking orders than providing proven strategies and complete solutions.
  • Keeping the relationship going usually means stroking several egos.
  • Essentially becoming a ghost or uncredited entity.

In short, you have to do as you’re told even if you have a better, more cost-effective solution. You have to swallow your pride and realize a subcontractor relationship may only serve as a brief income source and, if you’re lucky, it will translate into referrals and full-time roles.

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Rich Habits Book Review & Yahoo! Financially Fit Commentary

“Rich Habits” by Thomas C. Corley is by far one of the most influential books of this decade and yet there are still countless people who are not familiar with the concepts therein. As I write this, Tom Corley’s book has hit #14 overall on Amazon Books and #1 in Personal Finance. Finance and Business are good categories, but this book goes well beyond finances and material things, though that may be the initial hook for most. Rich Habits is a book about transforming your lifestyle and being more effective in all our pursuits. As such, this book is very similar to what “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey shares though I would say Corley’s guide is much more actionable, practical, and concise. This is a lifestyle book that transforms our perspectives and strengthens relationships.

"Rich Habits" By Thomas C. Corley

What’s interesting to me as an online entrepreneur, writer/blogger, social media specialist, and content marketer, everyone points to books like “Content Rules” (which I felt was highly over-rated and mostly regurgitated rhetoric), but such books mainly circulate the same tactics and strategies everyone else is sharing. What’s worse is that these books do not address the root causes behind common issues. As a whole, personal development books skip the initial struggle and everyday person perspectives, jumping straight to the assumption of “you’ve made it already but now you can make it further”.

Dino Dogan of Triberr said on the #NJAB – Not Just Another Business – Podcast (I believe episode 3.75 or 3.99), and I paraphrase, “The successful [bloggers] share outdated advice that does not apply to those joining the game now.. They had timing on their side and, for the rest of us, success is a grind.”

Rich Habits shares similar insight by eliminating the excuses and obstacles we often make for ourselves. It’s no longer merely about having good timing or [random] good luck. Tom Corley stresses the importance of developing daily habits that will help us create our own opportunities and increase the chances of having really good luck.

Likely the biggest reason Rich Habits holds such a high rank in my rather massive book collection is not because Tom is my client (which he is) but simply because this book cuts all the junk out and focuses on what really matters. Tom sees the urgency in making changes immediately so he gets straight to the point. More importantly, the stories and lessons are relevant to anyone from any background, so long as you are serious about really making a change in your life. This book empowers the lower and middle class in ways few other books have ever even attempted.

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Analysis Paralysis: When To-Do Lists & Goal Setting Fail

Ask any successful person how they consistently get great results and they will likely tell you it takes combination of focus, passion, and persistence, above all.  Many of us are tired of hearing that.  What does that really mean, anyway?

Ultimately, this boils down to setting goals and what better way is there to do that than using to-do lists, right?  Chances are you may feel to-do lists are pointless or they haven’t worked for you.

Why do some use to-do lists to great success and others do not?  What are the wealthy and truly successful doing differently that we may not be?

In my own personal experience and from what I observe with others, there are  whoopsies that happen often when working with to-do lists.  Here are some of the worst ways to handle to-do lists:

  • Stash your lists where they will be misplaced or ignored – your list will not magically complete itself!
  • Fill your to-do lists with mundane stuff you are likely going to do anyway (i.e. watching television, taking a shower, shaving, etc.) – to-do lists are best suited for things you may forget.
  • Place your lists where the kids or pets may eat them, spill stuff on them, or write all over them (hey, you know the coffee mishap is going to happen again so why not avert disaster).
  • Make your goals lofty with deadlines too far away – what can you get done today?
  • Keep moving items off your to-do list so you can do them tomorrow or “when you get around to it” (be honest with yourself: if not now/today, it may not ever get done).
  • Don’t stick to the list or bother to get others around you to use them too; instead, stick to firefighting and “going with the flow”, which inevitably leads to chaos – YAY!
This to-do list is not specific or actionable enough..  Fail.

If your to-do list isn’t specific enough, you’re doing it wrong.

Thomas C. Corley, author of Rich Habits and a slew of books on retirement and financial planning, makes note of the vast difference between the poor and the wealthy.  He defines wealthy as making at least $160K a year with over 3.2 million dollars in holdings/assets while .  Tom then goes on to define poor as earning under $30K a year with 5 thousand dollars or less in assets (of course, this may be extreme if you live in an area with a very low cost of living).  The stark contrast comes down to the simple daily disciplines or rich habits.  It’s really a matter of mastering the mundane!

So let’s start with the simplest of things: using a to-do list.  I’m a big fan of to-do lists and often push for friends, family, and clients alike to use them (though some fight against it because it’s “not their style” – honey, I hope you are reading this LOL).  These tools keep us self-accountable and create the urgency to get stuff done..  But often they fail or create more of a distraction if you don’t do it right.

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Exclusive #Triberr Feature Previews & The #NJAB Podcast Behind The Scenes

Not Just Another Business Podcast

The #NJAB (Not Just Another Business) Podcast is on PodOmatic!

We’ve been going CRAZY with our new #NJAB Podcast (and it’s the reason that I may seem detached these days, along with some video games that have made it easier to unplug and have more “me” time).  The community support has been amazing with Christopher “Merchant of NYC” Flores, Klaudia Jurewicz, and fellow podcaster James Pruitt becoming huge advocates and keeping our live chats bustling.  We’ve had many guests to date and many more to come.  We want to talk to all small business owners, tech geeks, budding starti_ps, indie game designers, and little-known creatives.  It’s great fun and we can learn a lot from each other!

If you’re a small business owner, tech geek, indie game developer, or little-known creative, give us a shout on Twitter.  Mention @stjohnmarketing, @NJABpodcast, and @yogizilla on Twitter, using hash tag #NJAB to keep the conversation going!

I’d like to give some behind-the-scenes insight and share some exclusive details about upcoming Triberr features and the vision behind it all.  But where do I even start?  I mean, we had some amazing conversations and SO much has been covered.. Yet so much more is left to touch upon and revisit.

At this time, we have over 10 #NJAB podcast episodes live in just a few weeks. We have a few “in the bank” too. In fact, we took a little break last week to focus on project work, prepping new show notes, reaching out to potential guests, and promoting existing Not Just Another Business Podcast episodes. No worries, we’ll likely start recording again as early as tonight, Monday October 10th, 2011!

Now let’s look at some of the goodies we’ve shared with our friends on #NJAB… Continue reading

Your Success In Simple Terms (K.I.S.S. Revisited)

Storm and Wolverine kiss in an alternate timeline.

There

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple, Stupid (or, as some prefer, Keep It Simple and Succinct).  You probably hear it used a lot and, as a result, it has become a bit of an empty phrase.

So, what does it really mean?

I strongly believe the intimacy shown in the above picture is something we small business folks should strive for: warm connections.

Let’s move away from the things that are empty and make us into cold, soulless entities. When you simplify, you have more time to focus on the good things life has to offer. Believe me, I know I could work on this more because I spread myself thin sometimes.

Intimacy and engagement (UNmarketing, if you prefer) go hand in hand.. And they make human interaction much more meaningful and fulfilling.

Now, I’m not saying we should go around being best friends with all our clients and prospects.  That’s just not realistic. What I am suggesting here is that we take a more personal approach to things, engage people, and focus on the things that really matterContinue reading

Why Dating And Traditional Marketing Are Full Of Suck

A while back here on Y3B I wrote about dressing to impress, which I much later followed up with an article about pretender brands, empty labels, and broken promises (and how they are full of suck). There are many ways we play dress up to make keen first impressions, for better or worse. Here, I’d like for us to explore traditional marketing, dating, and the dangers of misrepresentation. In doing so, I hope to build up a strong case for the authenticity movement and warm connections, where the focus is on people and authentic experiences as opposed to spin or hype (manipulation).

When I blog, there’s usually a trigger or prompt that inspires me to build upon an underlying theme. This is one such scenario. After speaking with my mastermind group superstars, Laurinda Shaver and Julie Nutter, we realized that there are some glaring problems with human interaction as we know it. I’d like to share their perspectives and strategies because they’re things I know we could all work on more.

Laurinda On Rapid Assessments
You have a few seconds to answer the only question that really matters:

What can you do for me (and will you keep your promises)?

Okay.. GO!

What do you lead in with? How do you make it sound interesting yet authentic? Do you sound like a real person or a robot?

(Hurry, the clock is ticking!!)

Providing consistent, concise answers in a hurried world is no easy feat. Laurinda, fortunately, is a master of authentic taglines and video profiles, things that make rapid connections with fickle audiences. She’s made tons of these me-in-a-nutshell content pieces for many people and they’ve gotten great results.

In doing this, Laurinda has become a good judge of character. She can condense a 30-minute chat into a 30-second introduction or elevator pitch. It’s almost scary how well she does it! She also practices what she preaches, which further builds up her credibility as a professional.

Laurinda’s About Page: “A social media creative head who can actually project manage with a dash of true business savvy.”

Last but not least, I recommend reading “You Look Good Baby.. Sorta.” as the article hones in on the disappointment that happens when we build up false hopes through non-authentic interactions.

THE LESSON:. Practice understanding and, more importantly, accepting others and you can understand yourself better. The bonus here is that you get to learn the language of people that share your interests or could use your services. Framing “what we do” and “what we’re about” in ways people can identify with is a challenge we must all take on.

Julie On Dressing Right
You look up a business online. Their pledge outlines values you hold in high regards. Their service guarantee gives you peace of mind. Customer testimonials assure you further that this is the right choice.

Enter the disconnect…

You enter the office and nothing aligns with what is promised. The attire does not match the level of professionalism that you expect. The customer service does not is not as promised. The products are not as advertised.

Did you even go to the right place?

As customers, that is a frustrating encounter that could kill a potential sale before a warm connection can even be attempted.

What we forget when we’re on the other side of the customer interaction is that WE are the product.

Marketing starts and ends with you. If they dislike the people, the other stuff doesn’t really matter. Perception wins time after time.

Julie is a sort of pundit when it comes to discussing customer service, leadership, and relationship management issues within the overall service industry. Time and again, she sees people talking the talk but not walking the walk. As much as the rules of engagement in business may have changed, dressing to impress still matters and it’s not merely about attire. It’s about consistency and valuing your audience’s time.

THE LESSON:. Our attitudes (or, better yet, behaviors), clothes, posture, energy, actions.. Everything projects a stronger image than what mere words may say. Julie matches everything she does to her audience, while staying true to herself. This is something I find few businesses execute upon properly because we’re too busy trying to win people over. Perhaps it’s desperation at work but the lies eventually are shattered regardless.

Now let’s see how this all comes into play… Continue reading