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.

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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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Who’s On First? The Disappearing Niche!

This one is going to be short and sweet.

I offer to you a challenge:

Consider your unique advantage and think, real hard, HOW unique is it? Do you even have a unique advantage or are you focusing on a niche to stay competitive or stand out?

You hear lots of talk about niche marketing and how it’s the “only” way to be competitive in a world of look-alike businesses and copycats. Well, I think niches are a load of crap. Focusing on them can kill your business in the long run.

Here’s why niches are full of suck… Continue reading

The Perils Of Reinventing The Wheel: How Tools And Reusable Code/Content Build Loyalty And Efficiency

In the computer programming world, the old adage “reinventing the wheel” is used often. Programming veterans and code monkeys alike learn early that reinventing the proverbial wheel is often a foolish endeavor. Google it and you’ll see. People tend to get frustrated when their favorite software gets changed or “tweaked”, especially if the real issues are not addressed. These unexpected updates to games, apps, and tools we’ve grown attached to tend to create great WTF moments. Essentially, the wheel is reinvented and no real value-added is achieved.

The frustration of seemingly pointless updates extends to content as a whole, blogs included. Let’s say your audience (business customers, sales leads, gaming clan/guild members, readers, fans, etc.) is used to forums or discussion boards as the primary means of communication. You launch a separate forums site, eZine, mailing list, blog, or what-have-you. Now you notice that you don’t have as much participation or, even worse, little or no people are visiting or consuming your new content. What gives?

Let’s explore some of the considerations in service and site launches and updates alike, as well as online trends and habits that impact web site and online service performanceContinue reading

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

Gaming Shop Talk: Microsoft’s Majestic Marketing – Halo 3 Zero Hour

Today is the day that many geeks and overly-competitive gosu gamers have been waiting for: the Halo 3 launch. For me, it is business as usual. I played the beta and wasn’t particularly impressed and I am not a huge fan of Halo to begin with (you’ll have to forgive me for that) but, whatever way you chop it up, this is a historic day. This is the story of a somewhat obscure developer that hit it big by allying with one of the biggest brands out there – Microsoft! It is also the story of how online multiplayer games really got put on the map. Halo brought a gleam of hope to those that wanted something different…

Halo 3 - a ray of light for a different type of gamer!

For many years, the online gaming community has thrived in great numbers on the PC front but it was mostly underground, cult-like, not very organic or viral. Some home consoles tried to capture the magic of PC gaming but failed, mainly because they treated multiplayer modes as an after-thought. Along comes Halo to change everything. Halo is, without a doubt, the killer app of the XBox, comparable to Final Fantasy and Super Mario, easily. It is all a matter of brilliant marketing. The XBox cultivated a huge gaming space that was, for the most part, a vacuum waiting to be filled by a big idea. Bungie was a quiet developer that gave Mac users what they rarely got: fun games that weren’t family-oriented or overly-nerdy. Marathon arguably started it all yet few people even heard of the game. In this case, it is clear that the Bungie brand made little difference as crossing over to the “dark side” (Mac users tend to dislike anything Microsoft) would have lost the long-time followers. Surely, the amplifier of the Halo franchise was something outside of the developers and branding, surely the market was ready and waiting for something to come along. Halo certainly filled void by meeting the needs of those that wanted hardcore competition in a not-so-nerdy package. Finally, an FPS that was fast-paced, revolved around multiplayer (both coop and versus), and didn’t have a complex control scheme!

Had Halo been released on the PC like Microsoft originally intended to, it would not have been as popular; instead, they attacked the console market and used college dorms as marketing hives, the gaming bees buzzing about about their latest gaming addiction. Why do I say this? Well, the game is a rehash of what has been done before but, since it was new to those that only knew console gaming, it was easy to spread.

The brilliance of Halo was never it’s unique storyline or break-through architecture. The technical aspects are all commonplace in a marketplace where ideas are just repackaged and regurgitated. The marketing is where the real money was made and where the Halo franchise became rock-solid. The console market was in dire need of a fast-paced online multiplayer game. Something that was easy to find (accessible), easy to talk to others about (smooth), and simple to play (inviting). The major gripe for people that dabbled in other First Person Shooter (FPS) games is that keyboard-and-mouse control schemes were too complex. Halo opened up the FPS genre to the masses and targeted the most aggressive, competitive gamers as well as everyday, casual gamers that needed something simple to enjoy with friends. These two segments spawned many fans spreading the message: here’s something UNREAL! Continue reading