Monday, March 31, 2008

5 Things I Learned From the Sniffles

by Karen D. SwimI have not been sick in nearly a decade. The last time I was ill, I accidentally threw my pager away…on trash day! When I returned to work, I asked my boss for the dreaded paperwork to replace it. It was then she laughed and said the sweetest words: “You can replace it if you want but you don’t have to carry one. After all, what kind of emergency could there be in marketing?”

I had carried the pager as a Sales Manager. I had six sales reps that covered a portion of Southern California. I had since become a Regional Marketing Manager covering 200 sales reps in seven states and no longer needed a pager. I realized that I had needlessly subjected myself to the “always on” merry-go-round. For the first time in my corporate life, I learned that when you are not “always available” people actually figure it out, without your help! My service to my customers did not suffer and my productivity actually improved.

Last week, fever, aches and chills once again felled me, and once again, there were a few life lessons in store for me.

  1. Without an endless supply of energy, you are forced to focus on what is truly important. Sometimes the inability to do it all brings the realization that you do not need to. It is sobering to realize how much of your time has been invested in activities that were neither critical nor valued.
  2. You let down your guard. With my defenses compromised I took risks that I would normally talk myself out of taking. I did not second guess my writing or self-censure ideas; I simply focused on getting it done. The good news is that if you fail, you can simply blame it on the fever.
  3. It really is all small stuff. All of the things that had worried me before I got sick quickly became “no big deal.” The sun continued to rise and life went on.
  4. You become important. On a long list of to-do’s we often put ourselves last. We may tend to the basics but how often do we turn off all of the distractions and tune in to self?
  5. Chicken soup really is good for the soul. Even the vegetarian kind.

I do not recommend getting sick to shift your perspective. However, as you look to the week ahead how will you be spending your time? Does your schedule reflect what you truly value? If you got sick, what would be the first thing that you eliminated?

While on the subject of illness, I am thankful that mine was minor. There are others fighting far more serious battles. Todd Andrlik’s sister Tricia had a bilateral mastectomy last Saturday. Many in the marketing, blogging and social media communities are uniting to help Tricia with the medical expenses. There are several ways that you can offer your help. Visit to meet Tricia and pledge your support.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Social Media Bum Rush

by Karen D. Swim

Happy Saturday! I am sitting here with a red nose, and a box of tissue trying to recover from a nasty cold. The Queen of Fierce (QOF) has crowned me the Princess of Fierce but today my tiara is feeling a little crooked. How sick am I? Well, my brother tells me that when he tried to explain cold medicines to me yesterday (asking if I had any) I burst into tears declaring, "I don't have any of those things, what do you think I am a magician!" Yea, makes no sense to me today either. So, today shaky but without a fever, I'd like to tell you why you need to head right on over to and buy The Age of Conversation.

The Marketing Fresh Peel and Age of Conversation organizers are trying to drive massive sales today, March 29th.

Since I'm still a little shaky, allow me to share Joanna Young's great description of the book:

"The Age Of Conversation is a collaborative project written by over 100 writers and bloggers on the topic of the 'age of conversation'. Each chapter is short and easy to read, with lots of ideas both theoretical and practical on marketing, blogging, social media and the power of the internet to make human connections."

Other reasons to buy:

  • All proceeds from the book benefit a children's charity, Variety.
  • The Queen of Fierce contributed to the book with The Two-step of Conversational Writing
  • You'll learn from an amazing line-up of talent and feel good about your purchase

Helping children, great content and the Queen of Fierce, enough said. So, please buy the book and tell a friend. By the way, the link above which can also be found over at Drew's Marketing Minute is the preferred link as they make extra money when you use it.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fierce Friday!

by Karen D. SwimFierce Kitty photo courtesy of Johnny Huh, Flickr

This week an issue surfaced which so resonated with me that it has reignited a passion that was in danger of flickering. It began with a fiery post by Connie Reece, whom I have since designated the "Queen of Fierce." Please read her original post, 5 White Men Talk About Social Media and the follow-up 4 White Men Exploit Social Media.

A common thread from Connie's readers was the issue of self-promotion. We may have come a long way baby, but women still struggle with the issue of tooting their own horn.

My first post-college job was in human resources and I had a female boss, Liz. I will never forget her wise words: "Women promote themselves in baby steps. We will not move to the next level until we are confident that we can do everything outlined in that level's description. Men on the other hand promote themselves to the level of incompetency. They take big risks and if they don't know something, they call a friend and ask for help."

Liz's words still hold true for many women today. I learned to take risks in my corporate career but I find myself learning the lessons all over again in my own business, and I am not alone. Many women lived through the era were you had to "act like a man" to be heard. Emotion and femininity had no place in the workplace. Over the years, we learned that "leading like a woman" actually had advantages. A healthy balance of warmth and warrior have skyrocketed women and men to success.

Women are great at supporting others but we still fall short when it comes to waving our own flag. It is time for that to change. Self-promotion does not have to be aggressive or obnoxious but it is vital to the health of your career or business. Do you have knowledge, skills and abilities that have value?
Do you have expertise that can help someone else? Do you have a solution to someone else's problem or need? If so, you should be passionately spreading the word so that you can help as many people as possible. Welcome to self-promotion.

Far too often, I have missed opportunities because I failed to wave my own banner. I shortchanged myself and thought somehow that I was not "good enough" or "well known enough" to blow my own horn. While I will not promote myself to the level of incompetency, I do plan to shout a little louder about what I have to offer. While I'm shouting, I'll also be spreading the word about other fierce women and men. So today marks the beginning of Fierce Friday. Each week, I'll share with you the remarkable talents of those fierce enough to wear the crown.

So to kick off Fierce Fridays it's only fitting to spotlight the Queen and her fierce team of men and women. Every Dot Connects is taking social media to a new level by creating connections through conversation. I invite you to visit their site, share your comments digg or stumble a post or two, and please share the good news with others.

Until next Friday, remain FIERCE!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Truth in Advertising

by Karen D. Swim

Frank Martin wrote a post yesterday on product packaging. A German company did a study comparing product packaging to the actual contents and the results were eye opening. If you have ever purchased something that did not quite look like the pretty picture on the box, this study shows that all too often what you see is not what you get.

Product packaging can be seen as truth (or not) in advertising. It applies to both products and services. It is possible to deceive the consumer with flashy glossy packaging that hides the poor quality behind the slick marketing.

"As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand." --Josh Billings

Have you ever read a well written compelling ad that inspired you to buy a course, an ebook, or some other gidget, widget or expertise? The marketing message spoke to your head and heart and you couldn’t whip out that credit card fast enough. Then you tore off the shiny package and you were disappointed by the contents. Yep, been there too.

Great advertising and lousy services can get you lots of one time sales, but they won’t build a long tern following of customers who trust you. Be true to yourself and your customers and the rewards will be undisputable.

Photo Credit: TW Collins, Flickr

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

8 Random Things About Me

by Karen D. Swim

A few weeks ago I was tagged by Joanna Young at Confident Writing to write on the topic "Eight random things about me." Never having participated in a meme I was both excited and petrified! Luckily for me it is a meme with loose rules, and no deadlines so I randomly selected today as the day to tackle the topic.

Joanna Young frequently writes these great ordered lists. As much as Joanna loves order, I love order and then disorder. Which leads me to my list:

  1. I like organizing and creating order and then changing the whole thing. You could say I'm fond of order and then reorder.
  2. My favorite color is red, no blue, no red but all of my clothes are black. Bright clothes make my head spin. Bright flowers, good, bright clothes make me feel like I'm on acid.
  3. One of my favorite movies is "Woo" with Jada Pinkett. It was not super popular and it's actually a little cheesy but it never fails to put me in a great mood. I've also seen Animal House more than 25 times. Oops does that count as 3 and 4?
  4. My mother remains my greatest hero and source of inspiration. She was smart, funny, honest, compassionate and my greatest supporter.
  5. I don't own a camera, any camera. When I want to take pictures, I just buy the disposable kind. I know, totally absurd.
  6. I am a natural born cheerleader. I love celebrating and encouraging others. Got a problem? I've got pom poms.
  7. I sat next to Nicholas Cage in high school journalism. He had a wry sense of humor and his pithy banter always drew a raised eyebrow from Mr. Chesterton.
  8. My favorite song as a kid was Teddy Bears on Parade. I marched and sang to it until the record broke.
So there's my list and here are the rules.

Eight random things "rules"
  1. Each blogger must post these rules first.
  2. Each blogger starts with eight random facts/habits about him/herself.
  3. Bloggers who are tagged must write a post on their own blog about their eight things and must also include these rules in that post.
  4. Tagged bloggers need to select eight other bloggers, whom they tag to keep the meme going, and they must list the names of the chosen bloggers at the end of their blog posts.
  5. They then must leave each blogger a comment telling them that they’ve been tagged and that they should read the tagger's blog to learn more about the meme.

Photo Credit: MobileBurn, Flickr

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Separate but Not Equal

by Karen D. Swim

Yesterday in Michigan, the Wayne County prosecutor, Kym Worthy filed charges against current mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick and his former chief of staff, Christine Beatty. As I watched the prosecutor deliver the news via live press conference, I was struck by her steely eyed determination to keep the focus on the process of Law.

Her rousing delivery took a stand for the freedom of the press (hooray!), truth, accountability and the justice system. Kym Worthy never wavered from doing the right thing. Amidst public and I’m sure private pressure to make a decision, she and her staff plowed through thousands of documents and took 59 days to thoroughly investigate prior to deciding to move forward with charges.

All of this is of course troubling but the gender issues are equally troubling to me. Beatty, a childhood friend of the mayor resigned as Chief of Staff soon after her affair with the mayor (and the steamy text messages) went public. The mayor referred to her only once and not by name, but as “the former Chief of Staff.” Sound familiar?

Beatty was married at the time of her torrid affair with the mayor and like the mayor she has children. We have been repeatedly asked to have sympathy for his wife and children while no one has offered he same for Beatty’s family. The mayor’s attorneys argue that he should not resign until he is proven guilty in a court of law. Beatty apparently did not deserve the same treatment.

Beatty had an affair with her boss. Yet in an eerie parallel to the Monica Lewinsky case, she is vilified while he is free to continue his job. To date, Lewinsky has not been able to shake her infamy. Does the same fate await Beatty?

Interestingly enough if you are not a woman in power, your role in a scandal is viewed quite differently. The woman at the center of the Eliot Spitzer case, Ashley Dupree aka "Kristen" is gaining her fifteen minutes of fame. The aspiring singer has had her song , What We Want downloaded about 400,000 times for $0.98 each. She has also received offers to pose for Hustler and Penthouse. I suppose if you are a prostitute, a scandal helps rather than hurts your career?

However, being in a sex trade is not an advantage if you are the victim of foul play. Exotic dancer, Tamara Greene was gunned down in Detroit. Greene was at the center of a scandal with the Mayor of Detroit, and 5 years ago was shot to death. Police officers that tried to solve her murder were reassigned or ousted from the force. To date, her murder remains unsolved. Apparently, the flowing robes of justice did not apply to Miss Greene.

I do not blame these inequities on men. We all share in the responsibility to acknowledge the problem and do something about it. Women too are guilty of judging their own gender by a different standard. Isn’t it time to put an end to these double standards?

Image taken from, read full story here

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Mysteries of Michigan

by Karen D. Swim

"Try to find forms of literature out in the world and see how they work in fiction. Letters to the editor, recipes in cookbooks, lists. Look in different places for language and characters, and you'll get inspired by writing not usually considered literary."
-J. Robert Lennon

I have only lived in Michigan a short time. I can write with ease about my home of California but have not yet quite absorbed Michigan. I've decided to make an effort to really get to know this unfamiliar place. Michigan is so different from California. I have too often only noticed what was missing - traffic, an abundance of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's markets, smoke free restuarants, earthquakes and Santa Ana winds- and failed to fully appreciate what is present.

Lennon's quote inspired me to begin to absorb Michigan into my bones. This week the focus is on high drama. Just as I was beginning to miss televised car chases, the Detroit Mayor's office serves up enough drama to script a soap opera for the next year.

A rumorored party at the Mayor's Mansion that ended in a fight between the mayor's baseball bat wielding wife and an exotic dancer who was later brutally murdered on the streets of Detroit. An investigation shrouded in secrecy with missing documents and reassignments or firing of police officers eager to get to the truth.

A torrid affair between the mayor and his chief of staff (now former) denied on the stand but later revealed in steamy text messages. Thug contractors who gained multi-million dollar city deals. An assistant police chief hungry for power who colludes with the mayor and his staff behind her boss' back.

All of this in a town where people call soda "pop" and 19 year old waitresses call customers "hon." A place that sometimes moves so slowly I wonder how they dare call it a city.

It all seems surreal as I gaze out the window at the sun shining brightly on the barren trees. I spy a mallard standing at the edge of the semi-frozen pond seemingly assessing the conditions. Corruption, scandal, and murder all seem impossible on a day like today.

Yet, this is the Michigan I'm coming to know. It is not enough to judge it by the surface for so much more is happening behind the scenes. Just as the morning sunshine will soon give way to scattered snow showers, this town will soon reveal its secrets and I will be there absorbing it all.

What does your town have to offer? Have you absorbed it in your bones or are you merely observing it from a distance?

Photo Credit: lonebluelady, Flickr

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

by Karen D. Swim

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you're all enjoying a good day. I woke up to sunlight streaming through the window which was a nice change from the recent snowstorm. After a scary encounter with all of the clothes in my closet I managed to make it to church on time. In honor of the day, I thought I'd share this poem with you. Wherever you are I truly hope that your day is filled with warmth and love. Have a wonderful Easter!

John G. Neihardt

ONCE more the northbound Wonder
Brings back the goose and crane,
Prophetic Sons of Thunder,
Apostles of the Rain.

In many a battling river
The broken gorges boom;
Behold, the Mighty Giver
Emerges from the tomb!

Now robins chant the story
Of how the wintry sward
Is litten with the glory
Of the Angel of the Lord.

His countenance is lightning
And still His robe is snow,
As when the dawn was brightening
Two thousand years ago.

O who can be a stranger
To what has come to pass?
The Pity of the Manger
Is mighty in the grass!

Undaunted by Decembers,
The sap is faithful yet.
The giving Earth remembers,
And only men forget.

Photo Credit: handcanons, Flickr

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hello, Will You Be My Friend?

by Karen D. Swim

Hello, my name is Karen will you be my friend? As I increase my use of social media I find myself asking some form of this question everyday. Writing the great american novel is a piece of cake compared to coming up with clever yet professional ways to ask someone to connect!

Social medial is a bit like professional dating. At least I think it is like dating, hmm, can't be sure. Anyway, to fully participate in social media - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, Ning, etc.- you must invite others to join you.

Some people seem to be very good at it. They effortlessly reach across the cyber miles with a cool invite that seems to say "I'm bold and confident and of course you'll accept," while still managing to be a friendly invitation.

I on the other hand love talking to people but still maintain the shyness of my childhood when I must do the inviting. I was the kid who loved celebrating other people's birthdays but was way to shy to shine the light on myself for my birthday.

Luckily for me, there are the wonderful givers who point the way. I've had people invite me to join them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. With each new invitation, I use the burst of confidence to do some invites of my own (stomach quivering wondering if they'll accept!).

So many have shared their insights and taught me how to participate, people like Jason Alba, Jeremy Roberts, Dave Mendoza and Dr. Sally Witt. Heather Gardner will excitedly tweet or email me to graciously introduce me to someone who will be of help to me. These people and so many more are so willing to open their networks and take you under your wing and show you the way.

I will probably always feel like a geek when making invites but I am learning to take the risk. I would rather embrace the fear of my inner 5 year old and extend the hand of participation in spite of it than miss the opportunity to connect with great new people. So thanks to those who dared to allow me to connect and to all of you who keep showing me the way. I am learning and loving it.

If you're like me and a little bit shy, send me an invite and I promise to accept and to share with you what I've learned from others.

Have a Happy Good Friday!


Photo credit: Justin Ultra, Flickr

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Numbers Don't Lie?

By Karen D. Swim

I have a strange relationship with numbers. I love the logic of numbers and can get infinitely lost in statistics and measurements. I also have an obsessive streak so numbers that tell an unflattering story can send me into a tailspin.

When you do business on the internet numbers play an important role in your business - page rankings, visitor stats, product sales, number of subscribers, traffic, conversions, etc. You can become lost tracking and measuring those numbers to unravel the answer to the question of “How am I doing?”

However, an over reliance on numbers can harm the way you do business and may even hinder your growth.
I used to weigh myself every day. The numbers were either a comfort or a curse, but they were black and white and required no interpretation. I became fixated on my daily obsession, the numbers the measurement of my ongoing efforts to remain fit and healthy.

As I progressed on my fitness journey, I decided to run a marathon. I had never been a runner and was not sure I even knew how, nevertheless I had made my decision. Numbers played a new role, pacing per mile, negative splits, mileage, finish times and more. I kept track of all my new numbers with charts, graphs, running logs and a runner’s watch.

Numbers also played heavily in my work life. I worked in sales and numbers meant everything. Quotas, profitability, rankings, and commissions were all part of the numbers game. I ran so many excel spreadsheets that I soon began to dream in grids and equations.

In every area of my life, I could measure my efforts by the numbers. Had I worked hard enough? Was I making smart choices? The numbers would tell me, or so I thought.
I have learned that the numbers provide data but the data is only one part of the story. Your finish time in a race is a snapshot of the ending but does not represent the journey that got you there, nor the next phase that lies ahead. I am learning to relax and trust my instincts sometimes in defiance of the number.

As a blogger I could drive myself insane with statistics. Who’s reading, how many are reading, who dropped off and why? Yet, if I am driven by numbers will I miss the opportunity to take risks and in doing so grow as a writer? Will I be so concerned with “image” that I will not allow my true voice to be heard?

Not every blog post will be a masterpiece. In fact, most will be ho-hum, some will be absolute garbage and once in awhile I will pen the near perfect piece. I cannot however, get to the great piece without simply writing and giving myself permission to fail.

In writing, running and life I am learning to enjoy each step that I take. I still review numbers and I continue to challenge myself to beat them but I no longer allow those numbers to hold power over me. I am quite happy to take one step at a time and focus on giving that step all that I have in that moment.

What about you? What role do the numbers play in your life?

Photo Credit: Brave Heart at Flickr

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Sun Will Come

By Karen D. Swim

Today is a gray and dreary weather day. The kind of day when it is light enough to be daylight but dark enough that the outside lights have not yet turned off. Most of the snow piles have melted and the brown grass is now fully visible. The barren trees stand tall against the dark sky as rain gently falls.

As I sip my morning coffee, I stand in the doorway watching a light mist of rain fall from the sky. I’m tempted to work in my pj’s but I know that will hinder my productivity. I take a deep breath and muster up the memories of warm sunshine, gentle rays falling upon my face. Spring is only days away and I suppose this is winter’s swan song reminding us that soon all will be new again.

It seems like a perfect time to breathe deeply and reflect as I prepare for a new season. The beauty of spring is that dead things are revived after the harshness of the cold winter season. As spring nears, I find myself yearning to stretch myself personally and creatively. As I shake off the winter doldrums, inspiration is everywhere awaiting discovery. This week I have indulged myself with a neglected love of poetry. I have been devouring podcasts of spoken poetry and reading classic and modern poets. Below is one that seems to match my mood today.

Keep Me Fully Glad, by Rabindranath Tagore

Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.
In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list.
Bind me close to you with nothing.
I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in my breast.
Make my life glad with nothing.
The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to the full my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.

# # #

What are you doing to prepare for Spring? Are there new things in store for you? I am sure that I will be inspired by your insights, so please share.

Wishing you all sunshine (inside and out)!


Photo Credit: The beautiful photo is courtesy of the talented photographer and writer, Amy Palko, courtesy of Flickr. Do stop by Amy's blog, you will be delighted you did!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Are you an Expert?

By Karen D. Swim

Last week I found myself thinking about expertise. My thoughts began with my frustration with self-proclaimed experts who are effective marketers that simply package old ideas with flashy packaging and high price tags. However, as often happens my internal questions often converge with the external world to provide me with not only answers but also more questions.

As I was grappling with the question of expertise, someone in my LinkedIn network posted a question asking, “How do you know when you are an expert?” It was a different perspective but one that aligned with my own thoughts during the week. I read the answers and while many were interesting and thought provoking, none seemed to satisfy by increasing need to know “Who is an Expert?”

The answer that brought the greatest amount of satisfaction appeared on, of all places, my daily Freakonomics calendar “When someone is very good at a given thing, what is it that actually makes him good? According to K. Anders Ericsson a psychology professor who studies expert performance, what we think of as ‘talent’ is vastly overrated. It is ‘deliberate practice,’ Ericsson argues, that is the real key.”

Ericsson’s book Toward A General Theory of Expertise: Prospects and Limits offers a fascinating insight into expertise. Ericsson writes, “Expert performance is primarily a reflection of acquired skill resulting from the accumulation of domain-specific knowledge and methods during many years of training and practice rather than special innate talent. Confronted with universal limits of human information processing concerning memory capacity and speed of processing, expert performers are found to be able to acquire similar types of skills to circumvent these limits.”

Experts are able to perform at higher levels. While that may have some element of innate talent, the deliberate practice is what elevates them from merely talented to expert. I would add that passion is likely the driving force that leads to deliberate practice.

In marketing, we may be quick to use the “expert” label. After all, billing someone as the “industry’s leading expert” sounds better than “cool guy or girl who knows a lot.” However, I would argue that you do not have to be an expert to be successful or even credible to your audience.

We have become enamored with expert status. The internet has certainly leveled the playing field by making information accessible to everyone. When you do a thing enough times in cyberspace you’re elevated to “expert.”

I would rather purchase services from someone who was passionately pursuing excellence in their profession than someone who simply labeled himself or herself an expert because it sounds good in marketing copy.

The passionate pursuit of excellence… hmm sounds suspiciously like the “deliberate practice” that Ericsson writes about in his discussion of expertise. My search was borne out of frustration but the journey to the truth was enlightening. From now on, I will measure an expert by their actions and not their words. What about you? Are you an expert in your niche? Do you desire to be? What is your standard for measuring expertise? I am interested in hearing your perspective.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Billy Crystal Swings Away With Yankees

There's so much negative news that this is a story I really enjoyed. Billy Crystal, famous actor and comedian had the opportunity to suit up and play with the Yankees for his 60th birthday. For the lifelong Yankees fan it was a dream come true. Whether you are a baseball fan or not, we can all relate to having a dream and the exuberance of being able to realize it. As children we dream big and often believing it all to be possible. Only a small percentage of adults hold on to that and relentlessly turn their dreams into reality. We smile as we listen to children dream big, adoring their innocence while we internally tune into "reality." Today, let go of the limitations you've placed on your adult self. Dream big without self-censure. By failing to dream big, you may just be missing your turn at bat!


read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finding Your Rhythm, Determining Your Height

By Karen D. Swim

I was not much of a daredevil as a kid but I loved to swing. I would place my hands at just the right height and slowly move backwards as I prepared to take flight. I can remember the effort and determination it took to propel myself higher. Once you had momentum, the effort was not as hard. To remain high you simply had to keep moving at the right rhythm and force.

As I soared higher, my belly would clinch in fear but the joy of soaring through the air was too good to pass up even if I was scared of falling. I felt the most comfortable when I swung back and forth in a straight line. If the swing began to swerve a little to one side, it made me nervous and I would slow down to align myself.

Business has many parallels to swinging. When you first begin, you have to push a little harder to get to your desired altitude. When you've reached a goal (and there will be many) you may need to slow down a bit and check your alignment. Have you gone off course? Are you swinging to the left or right? Are you in danger of falling?

The higher you go the scarier it can be but you learn to push past the fear so that you can soar higher. And you can always go higher. Your height is as infinite as the sky and only limited by how much you can thrust forward. You control your motion.

You can also go higher, faster with a little help. As a child, my mom or an older cousin would push me until I soared higher than I would have dared alone. The initial result was thrilling but if they pushed too hard, I would be annoyed and make them stop. I would then quickly slow my speed until I was once again comfortable. However, I would inevitably climb higher on my own because their push had shown me I could reach that height.

You may find that you have become comfortable swinging at a certain height. You're coasting along enjoying the view, secure in your position. Alternatively, maybe you want to soar higher but you can't pump hard enough to get to the next level. You need a push. A push can come in the form of inspiration from someone we admire, or a word of encouragement from a coach or mentor. And yes, sometimes a push really is a hard push that jolts us from our comfortable height and forces us to find our balance while swinging.

I am at a time in my own life when I feel that nudge to go just a little higher. My belly clinches with a mixture of fear but excitement too wondering, "How high can I go?" I hope that you will stay with me as I propel myself backward, thrust my legs out and prepare to go just a little higher. How about you? Do you need a push or are you soaring at the right altitude?


Photo credit: Higher and Higher - mathteacher on Flickr

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lying Authors and their Tales of Woe

Another author has been outed as a liar. Margaret Seltzer is the latest author to pass off fiction as a memoir. In the language of the ‘hood she professed to have lived, her own sister “dropped a dime on her” (translation, her sister told). Seltzer’s book “Love and Consequences” was supposedly a memoir detailing her violent and drug running childhood in South Central. Writing as Margaret B. Jones the critically acclaimed novel enjoyed a week as a literary darling before the lies were exposed.

Seltzer/Jones now joins James Frey and Stephen Glass in the growing list of writers who lie their way to fame. Lying authors make it harder to gain the reading public’s trust. The internet and “reality” TV have already taught us to be leery of what is spun as truth but there was a time you could trust a memoir to be true.

Seltzer’s story is both tragic and laughable. A news reporter checked one part of Seltzer’s story, her college education, in 5 minutes, something her publisher never bothered to do. Uncovering the lie before publishing certainly would have raised red flags and prevented the now humiliating venture.

Other clues were obvious. To begin with, “South Central” is a media term. No one who actually knows Watts, Compton, Inglewood or LA actually uses the misnomer. Insiders also would have never fallen for her half white / half Native American drug runner for the bloods. I am from Southern California and know these neighborhoods well including Seltzer's real hood - The Valley! But I digress….

What really bugs me is why authors feel the need to pass off fiction as fact? Why not just write a good story and call it what it is – fiction? Readers do still love a good story, don’t they? In fiction, you have the freedom to pull in bits and pieces of reality and twist and shape them into a good tale.

Thanks to Seltzer and others the book public has once again been duped, and the writing community stung by the shame they bring to the profession. May their pens melt at the touch!


Photo: © John Weise |

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Importance Of Managing Relationships In Sales

I always enjoy Online Spin but this post (click read more below for full post) really resonated with me. I have written on the topic of authenticity in the past and I am passionate about spreading the message. Shifting our thinking from "what can I get" to "what can I give" has the power to transform the way we do business. Stop for a moment and consider how would your marketing message change if your sole goal was to give something to your customers with nothing to be gained in return? One of the reasons that "sales" has such negative connotations is because it is viewed as a one way attempt to manipulate you into a purchase decision. Authentic sales is creating a relationship, uncovering needs and providing solutions. If you're in business you obviously beleive that you have something valuable to offer. Why not market from that perspective? What do you have to give and why it is important?

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Twitter Dee, Twitter Dum

A few weeks ago I blogged about my foray into social media marketing and the experiences have been surprising. One site that I have found particularly interesting is Twitter. Twitter has been described as Instant Messaging on steroids. Each message is limited to 140 characters and unlike IM you are talking to no one and everyone at the same time. The messages are called Tweets and those who Twitter are fondly referred to as Twits.

On Twitter, you build a network by “following” others. They in turn can choose to follow you too but it is not required.

Each day when I power up and greet my virtual work world, it is Twitter that I most look forward to reading. Throughout the day the stream of messages from across the globe weave together forming a story that is uniquely mine. The conversation threads range from the weather in Scotland, the anniversary in the Bay Area, the job openings in the Silicon Valley to a running commentary on politics, news and the economy.

I love the ability to follow multiple conversations at once. The eclectic mix of topics and global voices freely flowing throughout the day broadens my worldview. Twitter, for me is a like an international coffee shop. You can ease into your chair in the corner, sip your latte and delight in the myriad of conversations and interactions. The only difference is that you are free to join in rather than quietly observe.

Is Twitter good for business? Yes, but not in the ways expected. I am enriched by Twitter and the fleeting conversations. I have picked up resources, tips, and tricks that I would not have found on my own. All of these things allow me to be of greater value to my clients. However, the best benefit (in my opinion) is the opportunity to meet and interact with a diverse group of people. You learn what others are doing, thinking, reading, watching and what/who they value, all in 140 characters or less.

Do you twitter? What are your experiences? I’d love to hear from you. Comment or send a tweet, I’ll be listening. ;-)