Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Did When I Couldn't Write

The truth is I never can’t write. I don’t want to write. I resist writing. I come up with a thousand and one other things I think are more important for me to finish than writing - even though the truth is for anyone like myself who calls themselves a writer first - before anything else - there is nothing more important than writing. It’s the fuel that drives the engine for everything else. 

Still - there are moments when I allow myself to play my game and say I can’t write. 

It happened the other week. In fact, if you follow this blog regularly you might have noticed the absence of new material. You might have even stopped following me because in the world of content marketing, not offering fresh content consistently is not a smart thing to do.  

But I digress. 

Which is pretty much why I wasn’t getting much writing done.

But I was thinking about all the things I might write if only I could.

Still intent on avoiding the situation, rather than organize my closets I decided to organize my writing.  I signed up for an online course designed to get me to once and for all really learn how to use Scrivener, a program I’ve owned for several years but can’t say I’ve ever used to its full capabilities.

That helped to get the wheels turning - but I was still spending more time with the learning modules than my keyboard.

Then I did something I have not done in a while. 

I read a book about writing - without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read on writing. 


And I’ve read a lot of books on writing. 

Ironically, it’s not just for writers like me who are writers before everything else. It’s for everybody. Because  - as it is so aptly titled, Everybody Writes - Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

It’s smart, it’s witty, it offers good, useful advice, a ton of great resources and it’s easy to read. All the hallmarks for creating great content in a digital world. The author, Ann Handley who is also the Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, shows us how it's done by walking the walk.

It’s also inspiring.

It helped me to jumpstart my writing again and remember a few of the things I seemed to have forgotten that had gotten me to that can’t write place.

Everybody Writes has earned its official spot on my recommended reading list - not quite as coveted as The New York Times - but a spot nonetheless ! 

The next and final YOUR DIGITAL YOU - the blueprint - a workshop designed to improve your digital profile will be held November 13 in NYC.  A few seats remain - so get yours today! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

20 Things The Ebola Hysteria Has Me Worried About

I'm not worried about Ebola. Concerned - yes. The spread of Ebola in West Africa is serious, it deserves attention and it must be contained. 

But to worry about it - to allow myself to get caught up in the hysteria that has been marketed so effectively across every level of the media would be a waste of my energy.

My calm is not easy to maintain. Short of hiding out in a cave on a remote island with no Internet connection, it’s hard to escape the 24/7 news cycle intent on trying to convince me there is no danger greater to my life at this moment than Ebola. Valiant as their efforts might be - they have not succeeded. 

However they have brought up other concerns - that I admit do have me worrying. Not about Ebola.  But what the hysteria surrounding it says about our society. I started to keep a list of my worries - my theory being if I wrote them down they would lose some of their energy.

But instead, the list kept growing. That’s what worry can do. It can stop you from getting anything else done - especially the important stuff - for instance writing a blog. 

That’s when I decided the list was a blog. So here it is - my list of what the hysteria surrounding Ebola has me worried about:

 1. Our 24-hour newscycle, complete with headlines intentionally designed to market hysteria - all in the name of gaining audience share so they can make more money.

2. Our distorted definition of “breaking news” which used to mean something really big happened - like when a plane hit the World Trade Center.

3. The dwindling number of reporters who deserve to be called journalists. 

4. People who cite Wikipedia and Fox News as their credible source.

5. Sound bites taken out of context and used to promote stories that completely distort the truth.

6. People who believe those sound bites.

7. The speed at which inaccurate information can now spread, which is actually faster than Ebola.

8. That we have lost our ability to think for ourselves and to recognize fact from conjecture. 

9. Our lack of leaders - on both sides of the fence - top to bottom.

10. People who point fingers instead of coming up with solutions.

11. People who don’t value their right to vote and won’t turn out for the Mid-term Elections because they are too worried about catching Ebola.

12. That we have no Surgeon General. 

13. Hatred and intolerance of people different than ourselves.

14. People who think we should seal our borders to contain the problem instead of help the people who are in real danger - in West Africa.

15. The ease with which one can purchase a semi-automatic weapon in the US, which will kill many more than the Ebola virus, and the difficulty there is getting medicine to aide those who have contracted the virus.

16. A pharmaceutical industry that only researches medicine for diseases when it will make them money.

 17. Parabens, mineral oils, artificial parfums and genetically modified foods that we come in contact with every day and whose dangers never get the air time Ebola does. 

18. The disrespect allowed towards our President. (like him or not - he is still the President of the United States)

19. Being run over by an out of control bike rider in Manhattan -  which is also more likely to happen than coming into contact with the virus.

 20. That the importance of voting in the Mid-Term Elections will never be marketed as well as the hysteria around Ebola.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What You Need To Know About Your Social Networking Style

I’ve always been style conscious. It’s the way my mama raised me. I combed fashion magazines and browsed through boutiques from an early age, not just searching for bargains, but for ideas on how to put outfits together.  For me, fashion is an artistic expression of who I am, in that moment, for that occasion. 

I’ve had periods in my life where my style fit a certain category -  classic, edgy, romantic, conservative or trendy - until the day I realized I didn't fit just one label and that my style was a unique and authentic expression of who I am - a part of the statement I make about my personal brand.

So it's no wonder that I approach my social network interactions with the same consideration.

I’m not talking posting pictures of my newest shoe purchase - although there might be a moment when I do exactly that. I’m talking the style in which I choose to interact on social networks. In an age when 74% of online Adults use social networking sites and 87% of all US Adults are online, this deserves some thought. 

So I ask you - do any of these styles sound like you or someone you know?

The Traditionalist - They engage - but not too much. They share without comment so we don't really know what they think - but what they share tends to be useful. They know they have to have some digital presence but secretly wish this social networking thing would all go away. They definitely put thought behind their posts - perhaps at times, too much.   

The Lurker - The Lurker has a social profile, most likely limited to Facebook to stay connected to family and friends and LinkedIn for professional reasons - but they don’t engage. They observe. They know everything every one of their friends does online. They'll tell you at a cocktail party how they read all your blogs and how much they enjoy them but never once liked or shared any. They're the person who comes to the dance but never dances.

The Trendsetter - The Trendsetter is not afraid to speak their mind. They share their own ideas and they share others ideas. They seek to influence. They look to see what is trending on Twitter but they also harbor a deep seated desire that one day a hashtag they create will trend worldwide. 

The Spewer - This is the person that any little thing that pops into their heads they feel obligated to share - like what they had for breakfast that morning or what they think of that car that just cut them off. There is no thought nor any concern for how something might land or what the repercussions might be. They tend to shoot from their hip which appears to be connected 24/7 to their Facebook feed. It’s never once crossed their mind that what they are saying now lives for eternity on the Internet. 

The Erratic - You might at first glance confuse the Erratic with the Spewer. This is because while there is no consistency in their social presence, when they do decide to interact they try to make up for lost time by posting a dozen links, one after the other, without coming up for air and usually unrelated to each other. There might be something really terrific in there they are sharing - but you'll never find it because it is resembling the Spewer, who you stopped paying attention to a long time ago. 

The Attention-Getter - Like the Spewer it might at first glance seem as if there was absolutely no thought whatsoever in that seemingly inconsiderate or irreverent comment they just posted or outlandish picture they put up on Instagram - but the truth is - there probably was. Think Miley Cyrus. Her social network interactions may seem to have occurred in a moment of haste, but my personal belief is that they are part of a grander marketing plan created with intention.
The Non-Responder - They post. Constantly. All day long. They may even have a huge following - in the hundreds of thousands. But they never acknowledge a comment. They want to be heard. But they are not interested in listening. They seem to not understand that what has made  social networking grow exponentially is that it is about engagement and conversation - not simply pushing messages. Think the big corporation who is using new digital tools and old marketing methods.

The Eclectic -  The Eclectic mixes it all up. They interact differently on different social networks. They are more likely to press pause and think before hitting publish. They understand that engaging as a two-way street is what makes social networking so powerful. They think. They understand their personal brand now lives online - forever and that they are in a position to take control. They know their digital selves might very well be the first impression someone has of them and that there is no delete button on the Internet.

This is where I strive to live. 

But no matter which style category I fall into on a particular day, the one constant is that in the same manner that I pause to check the weather before I choose the shoes I wear, I take a moment to think before I post. 

What about you?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How To Decide What To Share On Social Media

I'm not a yeller. Nor would you expect a slew of four letter expletives to fall from my mouth.  Therapy and lots of personal transformational work has quelled the bursts of emotional ranting that were common in my younger years. In other words I’ve learned to press pause before I open my mouth.

The exception to all this is when I drive. When I get behind the wheel of a car, all bets are off. My fuse is short. My calm and grounded persona disappears and my emotions flare. I have less than nice things to say about every car and driver that cuts me off, changes lanes without signaling and makes a sudden stop without warning. 

It's as though an alien power takes over my body and I flip back and forth between the woman who practices meditation and the one that emerges like the Loch Ness Monster when another driver does something stupid.

I warn people who have never driven with me. 

But sometimes I forget. 

In which case I explain after the fact, apologizing profusely until the color returns to their face, their body starts to relax again, and they stop gripping the door handle.

While this is a part of what I like to call my multifaceted persona, it is not what I consider my best and most engaging side. 

Which is why I won't be tweeting an episode anytime soon. There will be no requests for my passenger to video the outburst and post it on Facebook or Instagram. 

Why then, you might ask, am I even bringing it up here? 

To make my point. Not every aspect of who we are, where we go and what we do needs to be shared. 

I might not have control over the person I become when driving, but I do have control over what I choose to share on social media. 

When deciding what is share worthy these are the questions I like to ask myself:

  • Is it useful?
  • Is it relevant?
  • Is it representative of whom I am as a brand?
  • Does it educate,entertain, inspire and/or convince?
  • Is this something I wouldn't mind seeing on a billboard?

The person I become when driving  would never make the cut - unless I am using it to illustrate a point - which in this case is that not everything is worth sharing.

YOUR DIGITAL YOU - the blueprint - a workshop designed to improve your digital profile is back! Two dates just added for Fall! Register here and use the code EARLYBird to receive a 10% discount if you sign up before October 1!