Friday, February 27, 2015

Write? Right Write

We as a community of writers, must write, right? Right, write. Ok I have now over used that, but it made me smile. However, it is an important tenet of our gift. Writing is a gift, and even though you might think, “What is so special about my gift?” Putting intelligent thought down on “paper” is harder than it seems. 

I did not know how much I loved to write, until I was going for my Master’s degree in Psychology. I was doing it online, and the writing was intensive. Now I did a lot of writing when I was an undergrad, but nothing like when I was in Grad School. But it showed me something that I had not realized before. I love writing. 

Putting your ideas down on paper in an organized fashion is only the start. Making those ideas mean something to another person - now that is gold: That is where practice and reading other’s blogs and writing is important.

I make it a point to read other’s blogs, not only to build my valuable network, like I talked about in my last blog, but also to get insight on how to write better. I am always looking for the best and brightest blogger to not only read, but to emulate.

***Side note***
Ok this has nothing to do with this blog, but it does have to do with making sure the words that might be “Auto Corrected” by the computer are correct for what you want to convey. For instance I wanted to type emulate, and the computer changed it to immolate which means to kill or sacrifice. Lesson: make sure you have the right word, or people will get the wrong idea. Could you imagine how the phrase above would read if I didn’t change the wording?”

*Back to the ranch*

Looking at Bob Lucchesi writes use the “Seinfeld method” and don’t break the chain, this is a great article, because it is important not to stop writing, and that is what the Seinfeld method is all about.

So create a time that you can write, write well, write often and be a writer: Just Write!

Write, writers, network, Seinfeld method, don’t break the chain

Build a valuable netword

When I was in Kindergarten, my mother worked at a resort with a swimming pool. My father wanted to teach me how to swim, so he was treading water in the deep end of the pool, and I was to jump off the diving board to my father. I can remember distinctly how scared I felt, and then my dad said something that gave me the nudge I needed, but terrified me to the core. He said, “Jump.” 

Creating a network and even writing a blog can be terrifying; we might feel a little exposed. I am sitting here in the deep end, and I am telling you “Jump.”

When the Internet was in its infancy, I was working at a print shop. There was this group of people that my boss would meet with every week. It was a networking consortium of sorts that would pass business off to each other. My boss had to pay $150.00 a month for this networking group; I thought it was great, because I would go and get lunch out of the deal, but the most important aspect of the group - we got business.

The purpose of networking is to expand your voice. When you get with likeminded individuals you can bounce ideas off of each other, create bonds with people and get helpful insights. However you must be open to constructive criticism, as well as be open to giving constructive criticism. 

A good network partner will give you constructive criticism, because they want you to get better, consequently, you should want members of your network to get better, so if you have constructive criticism, you should share. 

Let me warn you however, don’t dress down your friend in front of their community. If there is something that is a flagrant misuse of the English language, or an error in formatting, or you fact checked a blog and found it in error, and it might embarrass them in any way - comment to them privately, don’t ruin your own community by being that Jackwagon that points out everyone’s faults - don’t be mean; people will start pointing out your faults.

One of the best way for us as bloggers to develop our valuable network, is to search out other blogs, and sign into their mailing list, make a comment, and then ask them to look at your blog. However this requires you to start the conversation. Make reading other’s blogs an important part of your day. 

As a personal note I try to make at least one contact a day, but I recognize I need to do more, and so I need to make a goal, and stick with it.

Now when I say build a valuable network, this is more than just a regular network. What I mean is this: If you are a blogger that focuses on Politics, a valuable network partner might not be one who is a fashion blogger; conversely if you are a fashion blogger will you find anything really interesting in the blogs of a writer in politics. I am not saying they will not be important to you, and that you will not find anything interesting in each other’s blogs: I am saying don’t make your entire valuable network something other than your blog focus.  As a blogger, you are your own brand - that brand is either strengthened or weakened by your network. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Go Tell it on the Mountain

The title of this installment should conjure up Christmas, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” The song refers to spreading the Good News, and that is what we need to do as well.

I was riding my bike to work this morning, and I came up on where an animated electronic billboard use to be. The old billboard would light up the night with advertisements. But the electronic board is now gone. 

What was put in it’s place is a regular billboard. I rode past the billboard, and I looked up, the lights were not illuminating the board, but there was advertisements on the board. It was for a 24 hour mini mart at the next exit. How many people missed the opportunity to go to the mini mart, and how much business did that mini mart loose.

When you don’t advertise your blog, you have a billboard without lights. You might have the best information on the web, but people aren't going to just stumble upon your sight by happenstance. Now you might get one or two visitors, but people are not going to be knocking down your door.

What can you do to get more visitors?

There are many ways to get more visitors, some of the ways to get visitors is to use “Key Words” These are SEO or Search Engine Optimized words that people are searching for. The only issue is, the words have to be something about what is in your article. I should not put in “The Oscars” in my key words to drive people to my site, especially if I did not even mention “The Oscars.” Use Key words in your writing, so you can use key words in your optimizing as well

Another way is to actually pay for advertising, Google will charge you to put your Blog on google ads. I have never really gone this route, but that is because I cannot pay for advertising; One of these days I might try it out, but not for right now.

Log onto forums, and read other people’s blogs. 

We will be getting more into this tomorrow, however, there are sites dedicated to advertising your blog. Put yourself out there; you might not get that many viewers, but the ones you get will be there for your content.This is the best way in my estimation, because it does not cost anything, yet it builds community.

The whole thing here is don’t be an un-lit billboard, you have something important to say, so say it; not just say, but “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finding Your Niche

When I was a kid, I used to listen to “old radio programs.” One of the programs I would listen to was Abbot and Costello. I would listen to them, and I would just laugh till I could not breath. So this morning while coming to work on my bicycle, I was remembering their skit on finding a niche.

Abbott:    You should find a niche for yourself.
Costello:  I have an itch.  I even had a seven-year itch once.
Abbott:    What happened?
Costello:  I scratched real fast and got rid of it in three-and-a-half years.
Abbott:    But I don't mean a niche like a niche when you have an ITCH!  I mean a niche like a niche when you have... a notch.
Costello:  Oh, you don't mean a nitch like a nitch when I have a nitch, you mean a nitch like a nitch when I have a notch.
Abbott:    Right.
Costello:  I don't even know what I'm talking about!

So what does it mean to find your niche: You need to find something you know something about. Blogging is about producing a lot of information, and to be a successful blogger, you need to blog a lot. If you are going to spend time working on a blog, make it something you know something about.

I was listening to the radio on my day off, and the morning show was talking about finding something you want to do. Their suggestion was to remember what you used to like when you were a kid, what you spent time doing and how it made you feel. 

I loved technology when I was a kid. I was in grade school when Star Wars was released, and I wanted to build a light saber and a phaser: No I am not going to write about being a Jedi. However, I have been attracted to technology ever since. 

I loved talking to people, and I enjoyed listening to other people’s problems. In Jr. High School would hold “session” three times a week, and listen to my classmates tell me about their problems. I would listen to them talk about their boyfriends or girlfriends, problems at home and how much they hated school. So I loved to hear peoples problems. 

Now these things would indicate that my “Brick and Mortar” would be the best fit for me, I sit here everyday listening to people’s problems with technology and I work to fix them. Let me clarify, it is not the job that I have an issue with, it is the company for which I work. 

So with this information, I should have a tech blog. Tech blogs are a dime a dozen. Because I don’t want to be a needle in a stack of needles - I like to stay away from a tech blog. Which brings me to my next point

Now the second thing we need to look at, is not only what interests you, but what are you good at. Everybody knows something. Some of us know more than others, so we also have to do research. I love food, I use to be a restaurant manager, so I know a little about food, and right now I am doing the Palio Diet. I could blog about food.

But the thing I really enjoy is teaching people something they did not know. I am a father, and I have been a substitute teacher, I have held training sessions in the Navy and as a manager, I would thrive in teaching. It is always a great joy for me to hear in that person’s voice, or see in that person’s eyes when they get what you are trying to convey. 

So with this process I love to teach, with a focus on technology and helping people. With this information, I would say my niche is teaching. 

So now we can try to carve out our niche… or our notch. 

Come back tomorrow and we will have part 2

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Singularity of Focus

A Navy Captain was looking out over the horizon of his ship, and in the distance, he saw an island. He called to the XO and had him bring the burliest Marine up on deck. This over muscular Marine came on deck, and presented himself to the Captain.

The Captain looked at the Marine and pointed to the island. “Marine, get me that island.”

The marine shook his head, jumped overboard, and started swimming. Two days later the Marine came back, with the deed to the island.

This is not about Marines or Captains in the Navy, both I respect with all sincerity, and when it was told to me, it was a derogatory joke about Marines; I took out some of the joke to illustrate my point about Singularity of Focus.

As in the previous story, I have a Singularity of Focus. This can be a blessing and a curse. 

A couple of months ago in my “Brick and Mortar,” which is an inbound call center: My boss gave me a challenge. He looked at me, and said “I want you to take 25 calls, and if you do I will get you a logo branded shirt.”

I took 30 phone calls, not because I am a wonderful employee, but because I have a singularity of focus. Now I kept that pace up for a couple of months and kind of got burnt out, but I was focused on making a lot of calls and I did make my goals every week. More importantly, I wanted to make those goals. This is where my Singularity is a blessing.

On the other hand.

My son and daughter-in-law went on a cruise hosted by the group “Train” and they really enjoyed their time, and my wife and I watched their children while they were gone. They came back, and I took them back to their home (over 150 miles away). 

With my focus on taking my grandchildren back to their house. There was a bucket with their toys, clothes and two bags of food. I loaded the stuff in the car, and we headed up to their house. We were about 45 minutes early, so we visited my mom, but we got the kids to their parent’s house at the time we agreed on.

I got home in time to get my wife from work; however I received a text from my daughter-in-law. I forgot to pack the pillows, blankets, diapers, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

My Singularity of Focus had me programmed to take the kids home, I did ask my son if everything was gathered from upstairs, but he is a teenager, so my mistake for taking him at his word.

So I messed up. My daughter-in-law is angry at me, my wife if bewildered and my grandkids are upset because they do not have their stuff. This is where the Singularity of Focus is a curse.

To learn from this mistake, I suppose I have to be a little less focused on the small things, and look at a bigger picture. 

Survey Rant

I am writing today from a very unhappy place. 

In my “Brick and Mortar,” I get surveyed on my calls. Now anyone that works in a call center understands that surveys can either make or break you; where I work, surveys dictate your pay. However, sometimes customers cannot be made happy.

When I check my surveys, it almost feels like Russian Roulette, I hit the enter button and it seems like I am pulling the trigger.  This morning: Shot in the head. 

Explaining to a customer what options are available to them: It becomes increasingly difficult when the customer does not accept those options. Then they get a survey, and instead of using the survey to evaluate the customer service representative, they evaluate the company. Let me tell you - That is not what the survey is for! 

So for anyone that might know, and for future reference: After call surveys are there for the customer to say how good the advisor was, not how much someone dislikes the policies of the company. You don’t like the company; SWITCH! Just whatever you do, don’t punish the employee.

Now, I understand, if the call experience is awful, then voice your opinion. If the representative is rude or is not listening, tell them about it. If they do not change then you mark them down; if the representative explained what the policies are, and you just don’t like it: Put on your adult underwear, suck it up buttercup and move along!

There are many things in this world that are ugly. There are diseases that are killing people; hunger and lack of clean drinking water plague humanity. There are natural disasters and people being murdered. Life is hard, but a phone is a freaking phone - get over yourself!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Who I am away from my house if different than the person I am in the public eye: Is there a reason for this disparity? Why, when I am at home I am a different person; much more unpleasant, then when I am at work?

Striving to be a freelance writer, and keeping this blog up, I am told that I must sometimes just open a vain and start writing. Well today I am bleeding all over the page.

Until I am a fulltime Freelance Writer, I must endure five days a week at my “Brick and Mortar.” However, when I am at my job, I am pleasant, talkative, a real entertainer. I don’t get aggravated by the people around me, I am not short tempered and nobody looks at me and makes comments like: “You're grumpy,” or “don't be so mean.”

The mask that I wear to work and the people that see me at work see a different side of me. My family sees someone else. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a monster by any means, but I am more vocal about what displeases me.

I suppose I have to have some stiffness to my personality at home, because I have teenagers, I have responsibilities and I have demands on my time and money. Things I don’t have at work – and the demands that I have at work are on a call by call basis – literally.

So what am I saying? We all have masks that we wear. I wear a mask when I am at work, my wife wears a mask when she is at work and my teenagers wear a mask when they are around other people. We really don’t want anyone to see the real us. But why does the not so nice us have to be the “real” us and the “pretend” us is the nicer more pleasant version of us?

I know that February is not the time to do a Resolution for the New Year, but here I go. I need to be the person people see me outside of the house. I need to make the “mask” my real face, and ditch my home persona. I need the people in my home life to experience the work me, and make that the person I actually am.

If you have a comment, please leave it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Captains of Industry - Rant

Whitney, Trevithick, Edison, Tesla, Bell, Ford and Turing: When these names are spoken, we know who they are. These men change the face of society, the path of humanity the course of the world. But really, can we say we are better for it?

Today, riding on my bike to my brick and mortar, I was wondering how much better off we were for having all this technology. I could do the “remember when,” and be mocked for walking to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways. I would rather talk about the decline of society because of the “comforts” of technology, and how we might not be shortening our lifespan, but how technology is decreasing our enjoyment of it.

Now before anyone yells “Luddite!” I am also one who benefits from modern technology. I enjoy cooked food, I have a smart phone, there is a computer in my house, I wear a digital watch, I enjoy running water and electricity and we have a car. So what am I bemoaning?

The cost of such technology is something that is destroying the whole fabric of humanity. We slave away for years to get enough to “Keep up with the Jones,” that we have forgotten how to live. My commanding officer in the Navy told me once that invention was the mother of necessity (not the other way around). He was right, because my children “need” a cell phone and a car and a computer. If we came right down to it, all we really need is air, food, water, clothing and human contact.

We have become so dependent on all of our stuff, that if we had an electronic eclipse, most of society would shrivel up and die, like a squash plant without water.

So where am I going with this rant? Complaining about technology and the locomotive we have all climbed on and riding to oblivion - is really kicking against the goads. There is nothing that is going to change, and suggesting we take a rest, Sabbath or a siesta from technology would be as welcome a suggestion as cutting off one’s foot. However, we are not happy as a society, and look how far we have come, but how much less we enjoy life.

If we took one week and climbed in the way back machine, and went back to the life in the early 1900’s: if we turned off technology, drove only 25 miles per hour, walked everywhere, went to the farmer’s market, talked to our neighbors face to face, got to know our community and talked to our children; how much better would we be for that week? I believe we would be better not only on a personal level, but on a global level as well.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Superbowl XLIX, and allegory for life

February 2, 2015,

What a game! I must first say that. There were a lot of people overjoyed and a lot of people disappointed, but let me say it again: What a game!

Now I am a "fan" of the Seahawks, which is to say I was only watching the game, because my family was there. I am not totally ignorant to the game, I know when the yell and when to bite the edge of my red solo cup, but I usually do not watch football. Which might cause some of you to ask: Why write about something you know little to nothing about.

View image on Twitter
February 2, 2015

I am not writing about the game, it was a disappointing loss for the Seahawks fans, but a wonderful victory for those other guys (just kidding).

I am writing about life. I have experienced 46 years of life, and this game really drove it home for me. Let me explain.

None of us know the future, and if you do. please leave in the comments next weeks lottery numbers. We approach each event in our lives with optimism. We run out onto our field full of enthusiasm and strength. We know we have a lot at stake, but we are ready for the challenge.

February 2, 2015,
As a competitor in our own struggles, we go back and forth, sometimes we are in control, sometimes we need to take back control. Sometimes we make that lucky catch, which garners us the hero.

Whatever the circumstance that surrounds our own personal struggles, we must remember, we will not always win.

I will say it looked promising for the Seahawks, they were only behind by four points, and then they made a decision to throw the ball, instead of running the ball, something I think will haunt Russell Wilson till next season.

You see there was just one decision at the end of the game, which cost the victory for Seattle. Right there at the very end: Run or pass. Not every time can we make the right decision either. When we are about to wrap things up, and call it a day, we need to decide: Run or pass.

Now who is to say that having someone run the ball would have been a better decision? Nobody, because we don't know the future. So we have to go with the play we think is best, and sometimes we don't make the touchdown.

What comes next will show your maturity or immaturity. My friend and wife's cousin said this after the game. "Looking at the reality, we made it to the Superbowl again, and (The Seahawks) gave a superb effort..." There is always next year.

If you stand up, dust yourself off and admit that you gave it a superb effort: You will be back. This was a great game: On the edge of your seat, emotional and screaming at the TV game. There will be more.

So if you have just made it to the one yard line, and you don't know if you should run or pass. Trust your instincts, close your eyes and make the play: If all else fails, you can try again.

 February 2, 2015,