Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Affirmations to the 4th Power

I've been lucky to have good coaches and mentors in my life. They are the people who've given me a break, offered a hand up, encouraged me to keep going, or challenged me to reach a little farther. Heck, I wouldn't be here without them. Some are family, some are teachers, some are bosses, and some are current colleagues. In some small way each of you who read and comment on this blog are contributors and coaches.

There are a couple aspects of coaching that I am undeniably convinced work. One is goal setting. Darren Hardy provides an abridged plan to goal setting that I like. Since his goal setting map was posted at the beginning of the year, it involves a review of the past 12 months plus lessons learned. I took this conscious step a couple weeks back. What really caught me is the 2nd step - to reflect on life with gratitude. In other words, look at the parts of my life - both play and work - for which I am grateful. This may seem a better exercise for harvest time but I think its even more valuable today. I won't bore you with all the things I'm thankful for - suffice to say the list is long.

A second aspect is the process of writing down affirmations. And writing them down is the key. I was in training the last couple days and was reminded how valuable is the habit of writing the phrase - I can. Here's my list of 4 affirmations for 2007:

  1. I can exercise patience and empathy with Deb and her folks by listening. My mother-in-law is battling dementia, my father-in-law is tussling with losing his vision, and my bride is spending a great deal of time with them. Its a strain on her and I'm certain will grow greater in the months to come. I can be patient and empathetic.
  2. I can stay fit and eat a healthy diet by remembering how far I've come. It was just a couple years ago - the blink of an eye really - I took control of this part of my life and changed my lifestyle. I eat better and exercise more. Life is not a dress rehearsal, its in living color.
  3. I can post to this blog - and my Zaadz blog - a minimum of twice per week and build a community one reader at a time. I can do this with or without comments and feedback but it can be a lot more fun with you. I can comment on other blogs and make a bigger community.
  4. I can maintain self control through day to day life by living for now. Nothing can be done about the past and nobody knows the future - believe me on this one!
In order to make these affirmations reality, I can use a little organization - and humor. I love this link because the guys at 43folders use my brand of PDA. It cracks me up that nobody can patent or copyright it. Talk about open source! They have their comments currently closed so come back here - straight away I tell you - and share some of the things YOU CAN do!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Thank you" or a raise? what would you choose?

This post over at Church of the Customer blends nicely with another item. You need subscription to WSJ online to view the story they link. Seems lawyers - the partners anyway - need some training in common courtesy. Simple phrases like "thank you" and "nice job" must to be added to training? Huh?!?! The associates have been turning over(30%) in a job that pays $160,000 per year. Who says basic human dignity is passe'.

Matt Asay gives a real life example on his blog AC/OS - My comment suggests it tells a great deal about our deep desire as humans to prefer "thank you" over "have another dollar". Appreciation trumps more $.

I've been holding this item in draft for a couple days. Link over to Harris Interactive (Harris Interactive Inc. All rights reserved, of course) and reference the top article - Trends & Tudes (Jan. 2007) "A New Approach to Tempering Materialism" in pdf form. I don't have any kids but lord knows I love 'em. Please don't tell them that - I have a reputation to uphold. For the most part, I think they get a bum rap about being more materialistic than adults. Lets face it - this 21st century of abundance has made many of us materialistic. Ipods, Blackberrys, faster machines, digital cameras, coffee at 2 bucks a cup. Luxury! We got STUFF!...and lawyers have even nicer stuff :). One could argue that our time of abundance is quickly ending - global warming - but that is for another day. Admit it - each of you, dear reader, has some degree of materialism. I know I do.

The Harris research suggests the problem isn't materialism itself but how the teens and tweens view the things they possess. Feel free to insert "adult" anyplace you read "kids". Materialistic kids without gratitude are not very generous - sort of like the law partner who neglects "thank you". Less materialistic kids - you know some - are generous and often grateful for what they have. When kids with lots of things have a sense of gratitude they are no less likely to be generous than kids without lots of stuff.

This creates an opportunity to focus efforts on encouraging children to be thankful and grateful for things they have rather than keeping things out of there hands. It is possible that being appreciative may increase children's ability to take the perspective of others and thus increase their level of empathy and pro-social behavior. Teaching thankfulness can alleviate some of the harmful social effects of materialism.
Let's say this extends to adults, too. And not just lawyers. Let's say that thankfulness IS a learned behavior and it can be taught. Law can be a ruthless calling but look at Lincoln for an example of how great a person can be - with a little gratitude. And then lets imagine a community of gratitude. All of this ties into huge ethical questions on happiness. Perhaps a little Aristotelian.

For inspiration about our future as human, read the Harris Interactive editorial view in the left rail of the study.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How Green are you today? Tomorrow?

Today is a blog publishing day! Hooray! And for a change of pace, I ran into this video about a scooter from Piaggio - they call it MP3. No it doesn't play music but it sure looks like it sings! Its got 3 wheels.

Its a little bit spendy ($7K) but a trick little machine. The video runs about 4 1/2 minutes. If you want to read about it - this is the spot. All sorts of video here, too.

I'm a tree hugger - plus I sing folk songs and bluegrass. This little vehicle has been around all year and I'm only just now seeing it? A quick Google search returned blogger postings beginning May 2006.

I know its impossible to keep track of everything - but how can we expect to change the world (and help preserve Mother Earth) when cool items like this seem to be secrets? Is it marketing - intentional or poor? Is it failure of mass media? Is it only a US phenomenon? I'm curious - feel free to rant if you choose.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Story in 6 words?....No way!

Via Robyn McMasters at Brain Based Biz, I landed at Middle Zone Musings. What a fun contest and exercise. I like the brevity. Reminds me of old Burma Shave signposts

Here's the rules - from Robert. Just 3 days left so get it while you can.

The Contest is now officially open, and I will be accepting entries through Sunday, January 21. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Read (if you like) the stories in the Wired article above to get a feel for how it’s done.
  2. Write a six-word story! In fact, write a bunch - the more the merrier. (There are really only two rules to this contest: a) use exactly six words, and b) because this is for general consumption, I would appreciate it if you would please keep them G-rated!)
  3. For those of you with blogs, post your entries on your blog, be sure to mention Middle Zone Musings, and place this hyperlink somewhere in your post (very important!) . Then, send me an email to let me know.
  4. For those of you without blogs (and why haven’t you started one yet?), you can enter your submissions via the comments on this post. No need to email me in this case.
  5. In return, I will link back to your post (or mention you by name, if you don't have a blog) several times during the week, and once more in the archive post.
Here's mine:
  1. Bloggers comment. Feedback happens. Community Grows.
  2. Plane slides resulting in passenger panic.
  3. Winter settles in. Birds fly south.
  4. First day of school. Mothers cry.
  5. Powder snow falls. Skiers dream downhill.
  6. Cat snatches mouse. No more pets.
  7. Corn pops, previews flash, movie rolls.
Number one is my favorite.
How about you add some too?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Solitude, You and Me

My "about me" is a little misleading. It sounds a bit like I'm creating this blog for myself. Learning about blogging as a communication tool - and adding it to my toolbox - is part of the "why I do it". But I got a friendly kick in the tail today. Really, this blog is about you, dear reader and blogger in community. Just like I depend on others blogging - as I like to comment - some of you may visit for the same reason. Though with 50 million or so blogs, you'd think there would be more commenting going on :) So I resolve to think first of others in these posts. No guarantee of value but you will always have an opportunity to comment!

The inspiration for this post comes from over at ProBlogger. I saw it a couple days ago and it's been rattling around ever since. Be sure to view the video posted - its less than a minute long. And the thoughts at Presentation Zen are worthwhile - but a little long <------judgment call (like I should pass judgment - HA!). Three years ago, I began working toward becoming more healthy. It was a lifestyle change and resulted in significant weight loss. In addition to making better choices in what I ingest there was an increase in movement and exercise. I walk. I walk a lot. Most days I walk twice for a total 5-10 miles. I love to walk. (somebody help me with kilometers?) Here's where the solitude comes in. For the first year of my walking, I was alone. Over 1500 miles of being alone in thought. Gets downright personal. Its easy to center on the activity of walking. It also gives a chance to work on an idea to the point of making it a reality. This is a critical point in blogging. Its not a post until its written :) About 18 months ago, I started walking with a friend during my lunchtime. I really enjoy her company and the conversation. Still had my morning walk....until a year ago. It was then I gained a morning walking partner. Wouldn't trade any of the times with him either. Some of my happiest moments are with them. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we discover our humanity. Until today, I wouldn't have given lost solitude a second thought. But today - at lunch - I walked alone. It was nice. The snow crunched beneath my boots - ever notice how loud snow is? - the 14 degree weather iced my mustache. And I came up with the idea of this post. I came to the realization that blogging is for others. Solitude will do that - won't you try it? Be good to yourself. I've had many new visitors to One Reader this past week. Thank you Robyn for leaving a comment. Thank you Gavin for the encouragement. My gut feeling is with fresh posts visitors will help build community - one at a time.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Seven Lessons in Seven months

This post inspired by MarketingProfs Ann Handley Seven Lessons post. Lewis Green calls her "the Muse" at MP.

Its seven months in the world of blogging for me - to the day - exactly...20 posts...43 comments...a move in Technorati rank 24, 368 with one reader making me a favorite. Note to self - one reader at a time is absolutely OK. I got into this to join in the conversation and - as CK's collage points out to learn. Anything else is frosting.

Lessons I've Learned that have been reinforced since June12, 2006 -

  • You get when you give - its not necessarily about posting but about commenting. I had left a few comments on a few blogs prior to o6.12.2006 and had received a response. It felt like sound in a soundproof room. And no padded walls - yikes! I set about to compose a blog. Suddenly on day 2 of my journey, I left a comment and linked to Mack Collier at the Viral Garden - he said thanks for linking and the fun began.
  • Bloggers care about other bloggers - when I hadn't posted for a while Gavin, THE Servant of Chaos, sent me an email and asked where I'd been? He's got plenty to do. Taking time to ask me was beyond the expected. That email got me back to posting and commenting.
  • Ripples in the water continue to grow - influence in this huge pool comes from many sources. David Armano at Logic and Emotion is one of the very best at dropping the pebbles. The magic is there it only depends on how much you want to make of it.
  • The technology has made it simple - But not easy. Me create a blog? Use XML? Understand a tag? Link to another spot on the web? Yep, simple. Whats not easy is keeping up with all of it. Plus you can do it on the cheap - all it costs is time and we've all got 24 hours.
  • Its easy to get distracted - there are a ton of places to get lost. See Google search :) - adopting some sort of discipline and becoming more selective is a worthy goal. And it all becomes part of the journey.
  • Bloggers are good writers and critical thinkers - just a statement based on observation.
  • We are, as a blogger culture, only now just beginning. Its a culture within a range of cultures. The activity of communicating great distances over topics of common interest can only add to our humanity. Its huge, its vast, and yet only a drop of the potential is evident. We can effect the common good and make the world a better place. Yes, we can change the world.
There's my lessons! There will be many more along this path.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back to Reality...and isn't it fun!

Seeing how I am in the newspaper business and I occasionally post to this blog while at work - s-s-s-h-h-h don't tell the boss or I may be looking for a real job - I thought writing about industry news might add some credibility.

Today I ran into a couple articles from Direct Marketing News service. The first story deals with monetizing display ads on a website - and how Google has changed it all. Both links in the article are worth reading - one directs you to the president of RightMedia which operates an open marketplace for online media - and the second takes you to a sign up form to participate in an advertising market pilot program. The idea of auctioning display ad placement in a local website is interesting to me

The second story basically talks about how Google blog search is kicking butt on Technorati. Technorati has pretty much owned the blog measurement universe - its the only place I've registered but frankly haven't visited lately. Besides which I thought Google owned 'em anyway :) - wait a minute - newsflash...this blog is suddenly ranked 29, 978 - a HUGE uptick from October (584,076) and 109 blogs link here. The major reason is due to the Z-list meme Mack Collier started. I love ya, Mack! And so do many others. And shame on me for not creating my own Z-list.

The third - and final - story for this post speaks to email authentication and is also from DMNews. Since most of my real job entails managing a home grown opt in list PLUS creating and sending emails, it's topical. Essentially authentication validates your email as coming from you - a real person! The people who develop and implement email marketing applications (solutions) do most of the heavy lifting on this one. They work with providers to get domains approved and accepted. There are many to choose from - we currently use Bronto. More and more ISP's are looking at authentication to stop the incessant flow of spam. If the email is not authentic, it gets bounced. Too many bounces and you get on the bad list and get in all sorts of legal trouble. Although from the looks of my in box - it hardly seems to work.

Just for fun - and maybe networking possibilities - a link to a story on something called "Twitter" from the gang over at MarketingProfs.

Monday, January 08, 2007

It ain't Rocket Science - or is it?

I love this - today I didn't have to sign into my Blogger account. It seems Google figured out a way to recognize my initial sign in - for gmail - and apply it to all tendrils of Google that reach to my being. Probably just another form of cookie but I love cookies.

But thats not the why for this post - its here. Granted it's just shy of a month old - and we know how quickly things become stale in todays brave new world. Yet it is chock full of timely info. If charts and graphs are your flavor then this is the spot.

If you prefer the research highlights - click here. This brief rings my bell in light of reading "Citizen Marketers" and MarketingProfs book club extraordinaire. This brief from the Center for Media Research speaks directly to the importance of engaging the customer (item#5) in whatever we do. We all KNOW this and we all TRY to do this. We want happy customers. The question is HOW?

Here is an irony that just struck me. In many stories throughout the book a customer marketing crusade begins with the customer being upset, ticked off, or down right disappointed. None of us want that and yet it seems a common indicator for a crusade. Coke and Surge, Moleskin, Starbucks, Apple and iPod batteries - the authors document and interview individuals and groups who for one reason or another went to the edge and took a leap.

And - the customer does it for nothing but for the fact that they can. The voice of the people - sometimes the one person - makes a difference time and time again. Corporate culture is not easy to infiltrate yet we see a well researched book show example after example.

When the customer speaks, we gotta learn to listen. And do the research!