Friday, February 27, 2009

SOBCon Action Points

SOBCon takes a blogger and if allowed, makes then extraordinary.  I will take that challenge on!  Today I'm writing just a little about four of the  presenters this year - and a few action points for me to take prior to the event while I get prepared.  (One of the steps in becoming extraordinary)

I will write about the other presenters next week.  SOBCon 2009  occurs over 3 days in May in Chicago.  The theme this year is the ROI of Relationships.  Remember, this is a business school for bloggers.  

The conference is designed to build solid action plans tailored to the attendee's individual needs.  Speakers on the main day will present a 40 minute talk with a direct business application.  The attendee mastermind teams will work together for 40 minutes to establish action steps for that part of their business.  Through this process, attendees will compile and build a complete Business Action Plan by the end of the day.   

Julien Smith and Chris Brogan
Editors of Trust Agents - 
Julien is a podcaster and works with startups to build a trusted presence on the web and Chris is Mr. Social Media.  These two guys will show us six ways people develop influence on the web - and showing me how I can the same for my business. 

Action Point: working and setting a business plan - that can be analyzed, torn apart and rebuilt again.  Consider how I can build influence on the web, what are my strong points - where can I go with them.  

Christine Kane
Song writer, singer, Creativity Trainer for several small businesses - coaches artists to expand their business to the blogosphere.

Action Point: Hmm, how does music, creativity and artistic talent fit into my business?   Study and become familiar with some of her creative, conscious, courageous steps. 

Terry Starbucker  I am counting on Terry to work with us on personal development and leadership.

Action Point: what kind of leadership do I provide?  Is there room for other opinions?  Am I duplicatable? How does personal development fit into my blogging persona? 

I'm on the road for about 10 hours tomorrow -- and that's a good time to write, think, and evaluate. (No I'm not driving!)  If you've got ideas - I am all ears! 


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tweet Up Grand Rapids

A tweet up is a wonderful thing. I learn so much! Tonight I met with @kellywissink and we talked non-stop for 2 hours! Kelly works from home ( for her blog), homeschools her 3 children and has a husband that is really into squidoo!

We talked a lot about social media – what works for us, what we'd like to do more of and where we think our businesses are headed. Both of us are network marketers, and have very busy lives as well.

At any good tweet up you'll absorb a lot of information. I recommend you write/type down notes – and come home and make some sense of them (which is what this post is doing!).

Here's a few sites she recommended: Michael Clouse believes the right mindset will propel your business. connect with followers in a niche market – perfect for searching How to dominate your market one twitter at a time, forward by Anthony Robbins – think I'd better buy this book!

Here's a couple of people she suggested I look into a little further:

Doug Firebaugh – start at He's a real walk and talk network marketing guy

Max Steingart – Make the internet your warm market

I recommended to Kelly she follow these people:

@chrisbrogan (she already does)

@beckymccray (small biz wiz)

@shawnacoronado (Gardening Nude)

@johnmeadows ( podcaster extraordinaire)

@keithburtis (woodturner and Best Buy guy)

@JustinLevy (young man with energy and brains) 

Can you podcast in the country? If you have high speed (cable or DSL) – however, if you have satellite your odds are not so good. I can't watch a lot of videos or listen to podcasts where I live. I have to go into town for a better connection. Perhaps I'll try the Verizon Wireless connection for the computer (Kelly has that) – or maybe one of my readers has a suggestion?

We talked about typepad and wordpress for our blogs. I've got a new killer site and I need to put something there that belongs to me. More research!

Kelly has built her network marketing business ENTIRELY online. In network marketing – that is huge. She graciously agreed to an interview – so we all can learn how to do it too!

The last bit I'll share with you – we chatted on twitter too. It was very cool to speak in person, and even more fun to share it with the twitterverse!

Tweet ups – LOVE THEM! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2 of 100

I wanted to be like 7 of 9.  Automated, know the answers, perform without fear.  Then I thought about it. 

Life is not like that.  Life is messy.  People change their minds.  People let you down (and pick you up).  You say one thing and half way through that thing you wonder if you can do it.  Life is harder than it looks. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing people like Chris Brogan, Becky McCray, Keith Burtis, Shawna Coronado  and Justin Levy.   Each of them challenge me to look at what I want a little differently.

 Chris taught me to extend everything I do into the web world. 

Keith showed me persistence and consistency pays off - stay at it, follow the dream and it will happen.  

Shawna believes in taking baby steps and celebrating along the way.  

Becky has held my hand along the way - asking me to look at publishing a blog to position myself as an expert, offering up a challenge to figure out what my 100 is.  She gently pushes me!  

And Justin Levy - he just opened up the door to his brain and answered my questions and has caused me to REALLY look at what I want and how I'm going to get there

There's an old saying that says you need to surround yourself with people smarter than you.  That way you stretch and join their ranks.  I've been fortunate enough to do that with my twitter friends.  

Now - I'm looking hard at what it is I want.  I don't think I'll truly be able to talk about my 100 until I've done that.  

Here's what  I know.
1. I love to write and interview people.  I get into the research - and asking the right questions.  
2. I love working from home - and have gotten great advice from those in my industry.
3.  I own and 
4. Keith is going to help me convert to wordpress. 
5. I'm going to SOBCon in May.
6. I have a tweet up tomorrow in Grand Rapids (wonder who I'll meet new there?)
7. Gary Vaynerchuk is THE MAN.
8. Social media - I'm sinking my teeth into it.  Determining what is working for me and what is not.
9. Not everyone agrees with me.
10. I like creating good content.

I talked about doing my 100 on working from home.  I don't know about that anymore.  I have a thought about doing something else.  This week I'll be taking advice from several sources, writing about it, mindmapping - and making a decision on March 1.  

There's a lesson to learn here.  Sometimes it's important to take your time and make a decision.  I mean, it's my life - after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Justin Levy

Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs sparked my interest when I found him on twitter. 

Justin is a partner in a restaurant and their website made me hungry!  He's done some incredible marketing things and I knew I had to interview him.  It's a long interview and I promise you'll see some things in it that you can put into practice today for your business. Enjoy the read! 

Hi Justin. All of our readers love to  know more about the person I interview.  Who are you? Okay, seriously - tell us a little about yourself.

I live in  Boston with my fiancĂ©, Laura and our dog and cat.  I love the Boston Red Sox, Celtics and New England Patriots.  I enjoy working out, watching movies, being an audiophile and doing research on new media, productivity, business process, communities, human interaction, and a whole bunch other topics.

You are a partner and general manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse. How did you get into that?

I have been involved in the restaurant business for about 10 years now. I started in restaurants when I was 15 years old and was mentored at an early age in all aspects of a restaurant.  I worked in various restaurants over the years.  When my best friend, Joseph Gionfriddo bought Caminito, where he was the Executive Chef, from the  original owner, I took on the website development for the steakhouse.  I also helped Joe with marketing and business until at the beginning of 2008 we formalized the relationship and I became a Partner and General Manager.

When we talked, you mentioned that over the last 14 months business has grown 22% each month straight.  In this economy, how have you managed to do that?

We've done a spin off blog, Prime Cuts, where we talk about grilling, cooking, kitchen tips, recipes and more.  (  There is PrimeCuts TV on YouTube, Viddler and featuring how tos. All restaurant news is distributed via a social media press release on the web.  We also publish a monthly enewsletter and have MySpace and Facebook pages for the restaurant.

 For a lot more information on some of the other things we’re doing, this was a great study that Jason Falls did on the restaurant which highlights many of the things we’re doing:click here to read it

Besides our new media strategy, we also took a close look at exactly what we were selling and during what times of the year. We then adjusted our menu and wine selection accordingly. We also constantly run experimentations involving events, price points, specials, etc. to determine what is the right fit and what will get our customers excited and in the door.

You also mentioned you've put together new media content, less traditional marketing and you nurture your current customers. Let's start with them.  How are you keeping tabs on who your customers are?

Well, we can’t know who every single one of our customer is even if we really want to. However, we do encourage people to sign up for our monthly newsletter, our Facebook fan page, and to interact with me on the many other social networks that I’m involved in.

 Then what do you do to nurture them?

One of the ways we nurture them it by continuing to regularly reach out to them via our newsletter and other emails.  For those who interact with us on our Prime Cuts blog or on the various social networks I’m involved, I will regularly ask them what they want to learn about or see posted.  We have done this in the past for our Prime Cuts TV content as well. The customer or viewer then feels like they contributed and that you listened to what they asked for.

 Now -- less traditional marketing. Spell that out for me please. Would you give me an example?

Most restaurants run frequent ads in newspapers and magazines as well as radio and television spots. Some will even run billboards ads. We never run billboard ads. We also don’t run any television spots. During 2008 we cut our traditional marketing budget by approximately 80%. We evaluated all of our marketing including newspapers, magazines, radio spots, digital ads, website traffic, etc. and decided where we were seeing the greatest returns. Our greatest impact and returns were with the digital ads, our website, blog and other new media. We cut out everything that we weren’t seeing returns on even if every other restaurant was involved. We have kept some of our newspaper ads and radio spots because they help us continue to reach a group who isn’t active online or aware of our online presence.

 In case you can't see where I'm going here, I want our readers to be able to use the example you set and lay it over their own businesses. We need to help each other grow if we can.

New media content -- your website is very well done. How often are you adding or changing content on it? Any recommendations for what to do with a website for a small retail business?

We change or update content on our website about once per week. About once per quarter we go through some major revision.

 As far as recommendations for small businesses, that could be another interview itself just because there is so much that goes into it. But I would say that you should have a strategy for your website. Understand how search engine optimization and marketing works. Do your research before you rush into just putting up a website. Remember that it is your brand presence online and that approximately 65% of people will search for your brand online before they ever do business with you.

 I have a brick and mortar business and need some help from someone like you.  What do you recommend? 

I am General Manager of New Marketing Labs along with Chris Brogan.  Additionally, the Inbound Marketing Summit ( is our big conference series.  You could attend one of our conferences.  We will be in San Francisco, Dallas and Boston during 2009.  We also run Inbound Marketing Bootcamps ( and several webinars.  Visit the site for more information on these events.

 Other than those avenues, I also regularly speak at marketing and business conferences around the country and blog regularly at about marketing, social media, and business strategy.  As always, you can reach me through one of the many social networks that I’m on and am always willing to help as much as I can.

 You're a busy guy. You have a family, several businesses, blogs, websites and you interact in social media. How do you do it all? What tips/tricks/secrets can you give me that you use regularly?

I don’t sleep much, I type fast, consume content at a extremely fast rate and have an ability to multi-task. J Sleep is an opportunity cost for me. While I’m sleeping there is someone that is staying up just a little longer. I stay motivated and highly focused. I have certain goals and continue to drive towards them. Also, I have created a series of tools and lean processes that help me. I continually evaluate my productivity and I make tweaks, test new tools, etc.


Gary Vaynerchuk says that Hustle is the most important word for small businesses today. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Hustle is the most important word, bottom line.

 What three things can I as a small business owner do this week or this month to create more customers to my business?

1. Listen to what your current customers are telling you (OR not telling you). Don’t just hear them. Listen and take action.

2. Evaluate your marketing. Is it working? Can you point to actual real revenue or positive brand exposure from it? If not, then why are you doing it?

3. Hustle! Bottom line. If you really want to win in your space, then you need to hustle more than you are now.

 What is your contact information?

Justin Levy  Twitter: @justinlevy | Facebook: |

LinkedIn: | |


Monday, February 23, 2009

My 100

Becky McCray threw down a challenge for me.  Here's the note she sent: 

I know you didn't ask for one (a challenge), but I have one anyway. 
What is your 100? I'm doing Small Biz 100, a series that will add up to 100 posts on small business basics. I stole the idea from Chris Brogan and his Social Media 100, that lead him to the launch of New Media Labs. Glenda Watson Hyatt is doing an Accessibility 100, and that helped her create her consulting focus on making the web more accessible. What's your 100?  If you answer that, you'll have a specific focus for yourself and your blog. And that's an important part of making it to revenue. 

This is my 100th post and I thought it appropriate that I take a look at what my 100 is.  I focus on two topics primarily.  Shop Local and Work At Home Advice.You will find an occasional random post as well.  I will be attending SOBCon with the intention of walking out of there with a working, solid action plan - along with action steps to bring home and implement.  My main business is my Work From Home one - so I've just brainstormed via the written word what my 100 will be on!  Work at Home Advice.  

I'll be flushing out this concept over the next few weeks.  I'll also be reading posts of the presenters at SOBCon, and looking hard at the topics they will be covering.  I'll mindmap, doodle and think about what I want my online business to provide for me.  

It's an awful lot of fun being your own CEO, isn't it?  Let's have a conversation - what kind of things do you think I should be writing about in my 100?  

Challenge photo by Hryck at 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Good Are Your Grapes?

Last month CBS 60 Minutes featured a report on the benefits of resveratol.  It may slow or reverse aging!  You can view the entire report  by clicking here

If you are involved with a business that promotes health, you need to know this information!  If you take grape extract products, you should be aware of it as well. 

Are your grapeskin products using grapes that have that right levels of antioxidants?  Make sure your grapes have not been scavenged by wine making operations.  That lowers the flavonoids - and makes them pretty useless.  

Then you want to consider if your body is actually absorbing these grapeskin products.  Are you spending money on tablets that just end up in the sewer system?  

I know my company has products with the right ingredients and that are absolutely absorbed better than any other companies (proof in writing).  I'm happy to be slowing down my aging process and getting the proper antioxidants into my my body.

Can you say the same?   Feel free to contact me for more information!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Staples: that was easy.

I had to buy a router today.  It's to put in my mom's house.  She has DSL and a very old computer.  I have satellite and a brand new laptop.  It will be great to work from her house.  Faster speed and mom and dad are happy to have me there.  They've both promised to wear their hearing aids when I'm there.

So we head off to Mason City and the local Staples (don't worry, I checked my hometown first - no one had a router).  

I got a headset for my cordless phone, some really cool post it strips and then went to the router aisle.  I was confused.  Too many choices.  I looked up to see a young man on the phone watching me.  I nodded at him and pointed to the aisle.  He nodded back and raised one finger.  In Iowa that means "hold on a minute, let me finish this and I'll be right there".  (If you're driving and someone raises one finger at you - besides the middle finger - that means hello.  Just so you know.)

Thomas came over and helped me make an informed decision on the router.  He also told me he didn't like one brand because it was difficult to install.  Thomas looked at the headset I was holding and asked me was I sure I wanted that one.  We then traveled to the headset aisle and he pointed out the benefits of the Plantronics M175C headset.  For an additional $8 I would get an over the head piece and an ear piece.  I could mute by mic and increase the volume as well.  And there's noise cancelling in the microphone.  I spent the extra $8.

It came time to check out.  There were 2 registers in use (with one customer each).  I was willing to wait.  However, Darin Suntken, the store manager said he could ring me up.  He did so.  Darin also asked me how was my service.  I explained Thomas was fine and helpful, even though he was on the phone when I waved him over.  Darin told me "he's a good kid.  Smart.  Sometimes you gotta get him to move - thanks for doing that.  We're happy to have you shop here."

Wow!  Now there's a little honesty in that conversation.  Not to mention he didn't want any customer waiting for service, so he opened up a register just for me.  Then -- he asked me if I had a StaplesRewards card.  I said no, and don't worry about it (thinking here's another credit card I don't need).  Darin said they are free, you'll save 10% on ink, toner and paper, and copy center purchases right away. They come with all kinds of benefits and you can find more info at  

Will I recommend Staples at 3440 4th St SW in Mason City Iowa?  You betcha.  Tell Darin I said hi. 

picture is of Darin Suntken, store manager

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blog It Earn It Discount: SOBCon 2009

SOBCon09 will be in Chicago this year, from May 1 to May 3.  Full price for the three days is $795.  I just mentioned to Becky McCray that that price is out of my budget.  Ask and you shall receive!  They just announced a discount of $200.  See the information here.

You'll have to read the entire post just mentioned.  The discount is  called the “Blog It, Earn It” discount. Here's what they are looking for:  We’d like to hear from you about what “The ROI of Relationships” means to you. Tell us why relationships matter. How they affect what you do every day and how you do it. Maybe how you see them changing the face of tomorrow’s businesses. We want to know how relationships and personal connections shape your world.  You'll have to link back to the above post and follow some other directions there. 

I'm a relatively new to the internet blogger.  I'm not a new writer.  I write every day.  I'm the editor for a local newspaper, I teach classes at Iowa Valley Education, I write training materials for my business, I write geneology articles, I write grants for the Historical Society.  Just to mention a few things.  I am able to write for a couple of reasons.  One: I'm a writer.  It's part of who I am.  I love to write.  It's my passion.  Two: I'm a relationship kind of person.  I believe that we need each other.  

For as long as I can remember, I've been the go to guy.  Go to Deb, she'll know that answer.  Go to Deb, if she doesn't know - she'll find out.  I live and breath on relationships. I love to meet new people and ask them questions.  I'll go through the drive thru of a fast food restaurant and ask the person who takes my order if they like their job.  I will ask for the store manager when I get good customer service: I believe you should tell the store manager when an employee does good!   

So the first question is what is my investment in relationships?  I invest my time.  I spend it getting to know someone.  I listen to them.  We all want to be heard, don't we?  I invest my intellect as well.  I do a lot of research so I can have information available for people when they need it.  I invest money as well.  It takes meals, coffees, events, books, gifts - things - to build a relationship over time.  

Why do relationships matter?  I get paid to refer people to the company I work for.  It requires that I talk to people, build their trust in me and show them how to shop with my company.  I would have no business without relationships.  I have to have a relationship with someone to ask for referrals.  A person does not give a referral to someone they don't trust, they don't have a relationship with.  I write a paper every day.  I talk to people, interview them, share their knowledge.  You've got to have a relationship to get to the heart of the matter.  My interview questions go beyond the who, what, where and why of it all.  I don't get answers without a relationship.

Finally, how do I see relationships changing the face of the tomorrow's business?  I think the day of the big box stores is going by the wayside.  People are coming back to their local communities and shopping with their neighbors and friends.  Why?  It's not the simple answer - price.  Maybe price is better, but often its the same or higher in your local community.  The real answer is we crave relationships.  We want to know the person doing business with us knows us.  That he has our best interest at heart.  This happens because our neighbors and friends care about us.  Will there be big box stores and large corporations around?  Of course.  Let me tell you my prediction.  The successful ones will create a community with their shoppers.  They will earn our trust.  

See you in Chicago in May! 

picture from 

The Old Stone House

Have you ever had an idea and then met with friends and started brainstorming that idea?

I did that this month.

The Old Stone House, located 2 miles West of Geneva, was the first stone house built in Franklin County Iowa. Leander Reeve took the train and coach to Dubuque and WALKED the rest of the way to Geneva (except there was no Geneva then). He met his brother there and they started on a grand adventure! Leander's wife would not come to the county unless he built her and the children a proper house. No living in a sod house for her! So Leander built her a stone house. That was in 1854.  

The Old Stone House still stands. It now needs about $75,000 worth of work to keep it standing and safe for visitors. The Historical Society is donating $10,000 in matching funds for a grant. We've applied to the Community Foundation of Franklin County for another $10,000 in grant money. Mr. Pitsor is applying to Center One for funding. The big grant is from the state of Iowa for the REAP grant will be for $50,000. We are working on it.

Now here's the brainstorming part. Once we get the Stone House all repaired and safe, what can we do with it? The obvious will be to conduct tours and tell the story. We can have groups come and use the site. School children can travel and learn about our history. What about having an artist in residence in the summer time? How cool would that be?

What ideas do you have? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Be Irrational

Let's talk about irrational customers, or possible irrational customers.

Seth Godin blogs everyday and his blog Tuesday talks about the irrational customer.  Seth prefers that his readers not leave comments, but take his idea and expand it on their own blogs.  

You can have the greatest product in the world.  That product would be perfect for your customer.  Yet, the customer doesn't bite.  You've shown him the facts, statistics, charts and graphs.  And the customer is still irrational.  He doesn't care about your facts.  He only hears blah blah blah blah.  

You are not giving him a story.  You are not making it real enough.  He's thinking about what people will say when he buys from you.  He's thinking about stepping outside of his comfort zone and having change if he buys from you.  He's worried your products won't work for him. 

Your job? Work with the irrational customer.  Stop trying to make him rational.  Go his way.  How do you do that?

I set up green accounts for everyday people like you and me.  It means they shop for products better than what they already use (and spend money on).  Now they will get a better price, have it delivered to their door and order online or over the phone.  All of that makes great sense!  Better, safer products - less expensive than name brand - delivered to your door.  That's rational.  Yet .... customers are leary.  Why?  Let's tear it apart.

Possible Fears: 
1. replace products they already use
2. new green products
3. shop online or over the phone
4. delivered to their door
5. save money 

These fears are known as objections.  When you sit down with a possible customer, it's important to address their objections in your presentation.  These are real fears to them.  The worst thing you can say is "that's not important" - because it is to them.  Here's how I address the above objections.

1. Replace products they already use.  This means replace products their mom used and those products were good enough for their mom so they are good enough for them.   I use the feel, felt, found method here.  I know how you feel.  I felt the same way about that!  I found out that there is formalydehyde in that laundry soap - and I know my mom would not want me to use that product on her grandchildren! 

2. New green products.  No matter how great you know your products are, they don't know that.  I tell stories here.  I talk about how the degreaser removed grease from my husbands work clothes.  I talk about how great my dad feels because he changed his vitamins.  I simply share what is working for my current customers.

3. Shop online or over the phone.  You know this will save them time (and in the long run, money).  You know they can shop in their pajamas at 2 am.  They may have never shopped over the internet - or even over the phone.  Once again, I tell some stories.  I have an 86 year old woman I taught how to shop this way.  It saves her anguish in having to drive into town.  I also explain it's part of my job to help them shop - I'll hold their hand until they are comfortable doing it by themselves.  I have two women I have coffee with every month.  We spend an hour in pleasurable company - and we figure out what they want to shop for.  Not only am I have a great time, I'm providing a service to them - and increasing my bottom line.  Everyone is happy! 

4. Delivered to their door.  You would think this would make people happy.  It's amazing to me the number of people that like to go to town and shop.  I simply explain now they can go to town and just shop for the fun things.  The items they buy every month can just be delivered to their door.  And if they don't like the product, for any reason, it's really easy to get their money back!  I talk about saving gas in these economic times.  I talk about not fighting traffic, weather and crowds.  

5. Save money.  Now I know they will save money.  But they don't know that.  They don't really believe it either.  I give very specific examples here.  Tide costs 32 cents a load, our product costs 16 cents a load.  I explain about how a lot of products in the store have extra ingredients added - like phosphates and fillers and more water.  Our products are concentrated and easy to mix (we believe you know how to add water and that you shouldn't have to pay for water).  

Those are just a few objections I run into every day.  I'm taking Seth's advice - work with the irrational customer, don't try to change them! 

picture provided by hansvandenberg30 at

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

John Meadows, Podcaster

John Meadows is a podcaster from Toronto. I met him through our mutual friend Keith Burtis. He has a live podcast show called On The Log. I had the honor of being interviewed for Episode 51.  You can find John on twitter at @johnmeadows.  

You can also find John this weekend at Podcamp Toronto.  Here's the link

Why podcasting? What originally peaked your interest?

I got into podcasting originally as a listener, due to my interest in the Linux operating system; I heard about a podcast called Lugradio (now sadly off the air), listened to it, and got hooked, and as time went on, began to listen to more and more podcasts. It was a whole new world for me, and even though I have worked in IT since 1994, and in Web since 1996, it was an area that I had not explored. I wish I had looked into it earlier!!

In terms of creating podcasts, I am the former webmaster for our church's web site, and I thought that trying a podcast would be interesting, so "Smoky Times" was born in October 2006, and ran for about 18 months. My current podcast, called On The Log, just had its one year anniversary in January.

Who are some of the people you have interviewed?

I've been fortunate to interview a lot of interesting people! I've interviewed the editor of the Oxford Canadian English Dictionary,an urban planner, musicians, artists, etc. But I would say everyone can be an interesting interview!All you need to do is find out what they are passionate about, and let them go! Apart from that, I have learned that even though I am an introvert, I can approach people I don't know, and engage them in conversation.

Where do you see podcasting fitting into social media?

So much of Social media can tend towards the "bite size chunks" of content. I am hoping that podcasting can be where people can go for more in-depth, thoughtful content. As well, podcasting helps us escape "the tyranny of text" and hear the human voice -- the most direct form of communication!

You and I are of a certain age (50-ish). For our brothers and sisters (baby boomers) with a small business who are just getting into social media, where do you recommend they start?

The most important step in Social Media is listening. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and develop your own sense of what works and what doesn't. If you just jump in blindly and start blaring your message, you risk just being ignored, or depending on what you do, just being labeled a spammer, or similar.

Also, take advantage of podcamps and other Social Media conferences! There is a lot of knowledge out there, and in a sharing-oriented community, you will find many people who are only to happy to share what they have learned. You will also meet a lot of really nice people along the way!

What kind of things can I use podcasting for in my business? I set up memberships for consumers with a green company – and am always looking for serious people who want to earn a great income.

I have to start off this answer by saying what NOT to do. Don't do "infomercials." If you can provide content of value, and podcast "your passion" as my friend Keith Burtis likes to say, you can succeed. Does your product involve a community of users, or a specialized niche? If you can help support this community, it can't help but support your brand, and bring you into closer contact with your customers.

You won't make money from podcasting itself (unless you are one of a very select few), but it can be an integral part of your social media presence.

I can also see a real fit for podcasting inside the enterprise, helping corporate communication come alive, leveraging training sessions etc, especially for companies with a geographically dispersed workforce. handing out iPods may be cheaper than having to pay for multiple training sessions!

What kind of equipment does a podcaster need?And what do you do with that equipment?

You can get started with surprising little: a computer or portable audio recorder to capture audio and software to edit the audio (such as Audacity, which is free). The key thing is to get a decent microphone so that your sound quality is OK; If your show sounds terrible, it doesn't matter how good your content is; you won't keep your listeners. The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent sound. There are plenty of acceptable mic's for under $100, or you could get a portable digital recorder such as the Zoom H2 for a couple of hundred dollars.

Tell us a little about yourself please.

I am a resident of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have a wife who is a professional musician, and two lovely daughters who like music, arts, and computers, as well as reading (and writing!). I have a Bachelors degree in history, but am working as a web/programming geek for a large multinational company. I have a long commute to work on public transit, which means I have plenty of time for listening to podcasts! (And it's much less stressful than driving to work in Toronto!!)

I know you belong in a family of readers. How do you teach your children to keep reading, yet stay a part of the internet world?

I think what was important is what we did to lay the foundation -- reading aloud to our two daughters almost from the day they were borne, and setting the example of reading ourselves. Our daughters would see me and my wife reading constantly, and of course would want to imitate us. As a result, they grew up reading, and while they both love their computers reading is still a fun activity for both of them.

What kind of ideas are you playing with? (Where do you see your podcasting taking you?)

I am trying to work more of my original music into my show, and I am collaborating with a couple of folks helping them create their podcasts. Helping another show get started is a special thrill, and I hope to be able to do more of that as time goes on. Apart from that, I am just trying to stay open to new ideas, and avoid slipping into ruts, which is always a danger.

In these rough economic times, I feel there is a special kind of opportunity for innovation, and I hope podcasting can be part of that innovation!

What will social media look like in one year from now?

Oh boy; trying to predict the future is dangerous! I will say that while technology and jargon may change, the underlying concept of Social Media, namely that actually communicating with people is a Good Thing, will continue to strengthen. Those who approach social media with honesty and transparency will tend to succeed. Those who approach it in a mercenary manner, merely as a channel for old-fashioned advertising will fail.

I do hope that there will be an acceptance of a slower pace of communication, and that the extended conversation will be valued. It is so easy to feel that you are on a treadmill: Answer that tweet now! Live-blog! leave a comment the same day or no one will read it!! These is the downside of Social Media; we are trying (even unconsciously) to keep up with the computers.

Thanks to Chris Brogan and for the picture of John

Monday, February 16, 2009

Twitter Monday Updates

Twitter is a social media application found at  Here's a few tips to follow and a brief listing of some things I've learned on one day. 

Twitter Tips:

#followfriday  this is where you recommend people to follow and put #followfriday at the end of the twit -- PLEASE tell us why we should follow those people!

Wrote a new blog post?  What is it about?  Don't just tell me you wrote something.  Tell me why I want to read it.

Talk to people.  Don't blast out your marketing info on every tweet.  People hate that.  Let us get to know you.

Do NOT have a DM sent automatically when someone follows you.  DM is for direct messages you really don't want anyone else but the reader to see.  Not for the "Hi, thanks for following - here's my website" information. 

Remember, a lot of people are reading what you write.  Some might even be future employers.  

What I Learned on Twitter on Sunday

What is really, really good is coarsely cracked pepper (very coarse, like pepper corns wrapped in a towel and bang them with a pan) mixed with honey and poured over Feta cheese. Yummy. Try it.  My friend LynnO suggested this treat.  

Bob Burg has a new book called The Go Giver.  Here are the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success (which are restated at the back of the book):

1) The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
2) The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
3) The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
4) The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
5) The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. 

What the stimulus bill will do for everyday Americans: just click here.

@Debbas is going to interview me!  I will also be interviewing him.  

@justinlevy consented to an interview as well.  He is Partner and General Manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse in Northhampton MA.  

@garyvee is now following me.  He's got the most amazing podcast over at Keynote Kid. 
It's the one in NY Web 2.0 Expo   I watch this several times a week.  Originally found it on twitter - and then saw it again today from following a link sent by @justinlevy

Levar Burton quit smoking.  And he's back on the small screen on Lifetime.  @levarburton

Cloud computing -- interacting directly with the web.  In the future they predict you won't need a hard drive.  You will store all of your information online.  Read more about it here.

Veni, vedi, tweeti.  thanks @dcrblogs! 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ayn Rand for a Sunday

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. 

In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. 

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and step that travels unlimited roads. 
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. 

Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. 

Check your road and the nature of your battle. 

The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.  Ayn 

picture of road by Hamed Saber over at 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Now What?

I've reached the end of the rope. I need some advice. Now what?

Where do YOU go when you can't stand where you're at any longer?

What do YOU read to get going - to keep going after that dream?

What do YOU do to get it together and get over yourself?

Stop The Silence

I'm asked to support a lot of causes. That's what happens when you participate in your community. Some causes are good ones. Other's don't really interest me. Today I was asked by Sarah Robinson to support the 12 for 12k Stop The Silence Cause. I said yes.

I know Sarah from my twitter friends. She was actually referred to me by Laura Roeder (@lkr). Sarah (@sarahrobinson) was looking for bloggers to support Stop the Silence, and Laura sent her info to me. I happily agreed to blog.

So let's talk about this. Stop the Silence is a charity that is doing difficult and heartbreaking work. They deal with the sexual abuse of children. In the U.S. one out of every 4 girls and one out of every seven boys are sexually abused by the age of 18. The mission of Stop the Silence is to expose and stop child sexual abuse and help survivors heal worldwide.

You would think it was a stranger abusing our children. Sadly, the majority of child sexual abuse are carried out by people in their lives they trust. Family, friends, teachers, preachers - you get the picture. The child often feels they've done something wrong to cause this trusted person to abuse them.

I am a survivor of child abuse. I'm one of those 1 in 4 young girls. It was a family member, he's now dead. I could not tell anyone, they would not have believed me. I suffered a lot of guilt. I still have trouble reading books about some child who has been abused - it's hard to write this post. But write it I must.

It's important that as adults we support our children. We teach them to be respectful, loving, honest, good children. And we MUST help those who have had their trust betrayed.

Stop the Silence works in seven basic categories:
) Support for direct services,
2) Advocacy,
3) Community Education and Outreach,
4) Training,
5) Policy development,
6) Research and evaluation,
7) Other direct measures (e.g., appropriately dealing with offenders).

12 for 12k supports one charity a month. February is Stop The Silence Month. The 12 for 12000 Challenge is a combination of of social media and fund raising that aims to change the lives of millions worldwide. Twitter is part of my social media community - and hopefully yours too.

You can find the link to donate (and we're only talking $10 here) at You can read more about Stop the Silence at

Look around you -- one out of every four girls will be abused. You can help stop that.