Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Hiatus for Circle of Media

Two weeks ago my life changed entirely. My life partner, creative partner and often business partner decided he didn't want to be my partner anymore. I'm not sure what this means for me. I feel like I've slid off a cliff backwards. I'm not sure yet when or where I'll land. I'm really just trying to catch my breath and maybe find the strength to turn and face the fall.

That's really all I have to write for now. There's nothing more to say. For a time, I will be away. Your best bet to reach me for any reason is by emailing me at candice@circleofmedia.com


Monday, December 15, 2014

Washington D.C. Day Three

Well, it's sort of day four since it's past midnight, but that's details.

Today was day two of RootsCamp. We managed to also throw in some sight-seeing and socializing.

It's late and our flight leaves early tomorrow so a few quick photos is all I have for you tonight..

Me at the White House!

Me at the Washington Monument

Me at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

I practiced the art of selfie taking today.
How'd I do?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Washington D.C. Day Two

I'm not going to lie, the highlight of today was the #RootsCanuck lunch at Saint's Paradise Cafeteria.

Today was the first day of RootsCamp and as Canadians do in a foreign country, we all found each other and went out for lunch. And Twitter helped us mobilize.

In some ways I'm still surprised by how many political organizers don't use Twitter. In fact, if I hadn't been a regular Twitter user I don't think the other two people I'm here with would have known about the RootsCanuck lunch.

There are about 15 different sessions going on every hour throughout the day over today and tomorrow. Each hour seems to have a minimum of three sessions covering digital media, online and social ads, sending email, using Facebook.

I poked my head into a few of them. Really competent presenters and audiences with tonnes of questions. So I tried to get to sessions I don't know as much about.

I went to one session which brought together canvassers out in the field and the data people back in the office. I went to another session on organizing and making change through food. And my favourite session so far this weekend was one on podcasting.

The thing with an unconference is that the attendees are encouraged to run a panel. Well one fellow was interested in learning more about the art of podcasting and understanding if it can be used to help being people together around a movement. But he was not a podcaster.

The room had a good handful of people in it, most of whom were in the same place as the organizer of the session. They were looking for more information.

At first glance I wasn't going to go to the session since podcasting, and political podcasting, is a topic I know well between my own show Limited Release and the show Gang of Four I often guest hosted on. But the session I had been in was not delivering me what I was looking for, so I used the unconference rule of two feet and walked to a new session.

And boy was I glad to pop into the podcasting session. For one thing I almost doubled the number of women in the room simply by joining. For another not a person in the room new how to upload an mp3 file and submit it to iTunes.

Once we got past the technical bits we had some great conversations about editing or not, interviews or conversation shows, storytelling, finding an audience. I finally felt like I was with my people.

Well that's not entirely true, it wasn't finally. I mentioned the high point of my day was having lunch with a large group of Canadians, and some adopted Canadians. 

In our walk to the restaurant the gentleman I was walking with was telling me about a great soul food restaurant he had heard about in the basement of a church.  We joked that we should ditch  the large group and head over there. Good thing we didn't since the first restaurant choice for the group was too small and we ended up heading to the church basement after all.

Man, we could not have ended up at a better place. It's the kind of eatery the locals go to and is not a big tourist draw.

I may have found my people in the podcasting session, but I found my home over a plate of fried whitefish, mac and cheese and candied yams.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Washington D.C. Day One

Here I am, blogging from a hotel room in Washington D.C. Well, Imagine me, because I have no selfies of me at the airport, on the subway, checking in at the hotel, or at the delicious restaurant where I just had dinner. I'm really terrible at taking selfies, or even thinking about them.

I did however think to take a photo of my wood-fired pizza at the restaurant, but it was one of those local hipster joints with craft beer and bearded gentlemen patrons, which means it was way too dark in there to take a photo of my food.

I'm in Washington D.C. this weekend to attend RootsCamp 14. It's an unconference put on by the New Organizing Institute. RootsCamp brings together people behind the scenes in politics, the people who work on getting people elected, the organizers. I'm here with some of the other Green Party team who worked on the most recent Ontario provincial election.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Service, the Series - Gang of Four, Beyond the Ballot Box

It seems strange to right about this extra curricular activity of mine since as of next week it will be over, but it is something I have been spending time on since September, so it deserves a few words.

Our local university radio station is quite fun hodgepodge of shows, some funny, some entertaining, some an experiment. It's the reason campus radio stations exist. They are real public radio.

Three years ago a show was born, or more specifically I think evolved from something else. Beyond the Ballot Box brought local, provincial, national and international politics to the listeners every week through a round table discussion.  Not only were the people sitting around the table (which by the way is most definitely not round) intelligent and funny, they also represented a variety of political views, which is always refreshing.

Two years ago, I was asked by my friend Adam to meet with the group and run them all through a presentation on how to use Twitter and Facebook. I was happy to meet with them all and get them set up and understanding how to get the word out about their show, and how to continue the political discussion after the weekly show. Some took to it like water, others took to it last month :-)

Because of my work with the Green Party and leader Mike Schreiner I kept in touch with the hosts, Jan and Oliver, since they also conducted interviews. I really enjoyed listening to their interviews since they really took a good cop/bad cop attitude with their guests.

Early this year I was asked to guest host on one of their rotating weekly programs, The Guelph Hour. I have lots to say about Guelph, so I fit right in, and it was lots of fun. After that spot I was honored to be asked to join them more regularly. You see one of their regular members, Phil Alt, had decided to run for city council and it's pretty difficult to stay impartial when commenting on something you are a part of.

Which is also why I had to decline the offer. At the time the provincial election was right around the corner and since I was acting at the communications director for Mike and the Green Party, acting as the media probably wouldn't work.

Luckily for me, having political opinions and leanings works on this show. The point of the round-table is that there are a bunch of different views represented, so once the election was finished, and I was no longer in the position of begging for media (which is what it feels like sometimes when writing and sending press releases) there was less of a conflict with me being part of the show.

So for the last four months I was able to join in every few weeks and dissect the news of the week in the world of politics.

I found being on the show really challenging. In a good way. It's easy to become complacent to what's going on at the top. It's also easy to become so embroiled in it, and enraged by it that you burn out. The show always helped to lighten things up. The show always took time to see some of the absurdities in politics. Being able to laugh at problems is really good.

I'm really sorry to know that it won't be continuing after next week's show. The hosts, Jan and Oliver, each have many responsibilities that make it difficult to keep doing a weekly show, for no money, let me remind you. I know I take about 3 hours to prep for the show some weeks I'm on,  and I just have to show up and talk. I respect the amount of work everyone else puts in to consistently create smart, insightful commentary on the news.

In a community the size of Guelph, the end of a balanced and fair news source is a sorry thing to see. I hope something fills the void in the new year.

**spoiler alert, something will be replacing it, but I don't know the details yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Accountability, what is it good for?

How do you hold yourself accountable?

I had a coffee this morning with Tony Roy, a business coach I met through BNI. I wanted to know more about what he does, and if it might be something beneficial for my business. I guess that sounds a little silly, I'm pretty sure a coach would always be beneficial for someone's business, so I knew he could only help me and my business. I guess the question I really wanted answered was, could he help me with the bit I know I have trouble with: holding myself accountable.

I've talked about this a bit when blogging about my business website. I've joked that I suffer from the cobbler's children syndrome, I help clients get their online presence in order and I barely have one.

This doesn't make me unique, but a weakness is a weakness no matter if I'm part of the majority or the minority. So, how do I fix this? I almost never hold myself accountable for tasks I need to do to build my business.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's not stalking, it's research!

I spent more than the usual amount of time online today stalking other people. Of course, in my case it's called research.

I have had 3 meetings in the last few days which might result in new strategy clients. So, step one for me is to have a look at what my potential client has been doing, who they are following and engaging with, who is talking to or about them. Then I step back and try to decide who they want to be talking with.

Right now, it's a lot of data analysis and a lot of numbers. I like that part. I like to dive in and really figure out what is going on. The best part of that, is finding the places where something can be changed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Are you on Google+?

If you are reading this on or near December 8th, chances are pretty good that you are a Google+ user since Blogger shares automatically to my G+ page. But if it's at least 24 hours past that, you probably stumbled across this post via some other social share, or by searching for info about Google+.

For the second group, this post is for you.

So, are you on Google+? Technically speaking, you probably are. But I suspect you are not using it yet. There's a lot of confusion around G+. People aren't quite sure why they need another social network. People think it's a graveyard, there's no one there.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Face to Face Time, again

Just a quick post for today, I'm all tuckered out from socializing!

Tonight was the fourth annual Secret Santa Guelph. 

A good friend started something a few years ago that not only helps the community of Guelph in a charitable way by raising money for the Food and Friends program, but also in a community building way by bringing together the active Twitter users of our city.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Power of Face-to-Face

Today officially launched the holiday gathering hoopla that is December. I went to the first of, I'm sure, many get-togethers with friends and family over lunch.

Today's group are some of my oldest friends outside of school friends. In 2002 I saw an ad in the TV Guide (I know, right? How archaic! A print magazine about television?) for an event in Toronto called Toronto Trek. Besides advertising itself as a science fiction convention, they were also advertising that the actress Amber Benson would be there. At the time Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my favourite television show and the idea of meeting one of the actors in the show was pretty fantastic. Plus all the other geeky things I love would be represented at the event.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sneak Peek at CircleOfMedia.Com

Friday night, I can hardly believe it's here already. I know I still have 25 more days of writing, but these first 5 went by so quickly I actually hope it slows down!

I'm celebrating Friday night my favourite way, home with Netflix. Tonight I'm watching The Mighty Ducks because, well, Joshua Jackson. I'm not ashamed to admit it! It's Friday night, I'm allowed a guilty pleasure.

Not for long though, because tomorrow I will be doing a bunch of research for some new clients. I am a bit of a research and data nerd, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, I don't get to play in data for my own brand and business. Why is that? Well, it's because I don't really have a website. I mean, I have this blog, and I've added some services to it, because it's the only thing I have right now. It's really terrible best practice!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What I'm Listening To - NBN Radio

I love podcasts! I love something I can play in the background while I'm working, walking, drifting off to sleep. Some are informative, some are fun, today's was both!

NBN Radio is a companion podcast to the book New Business Networking, hosted by Dave Delaney.

I first met Dave at Tweetstock in Brantford a couple years ago. His book wasn't published yet, but he was one of the speakers, talking about networking online and offline.

At some point in his presentation he spoke about a podcast he used to do with his wife, and talked about the Canadian podcasting community, of which I count myself a member. 

We chatted afterwards and I asked him if he was still podcasting. He had moved to Nashville, but was still doing a personal podcast, Walking With Dave, so I subscribed.

Because he kept popping up in my podcast feed it wasn't difficult to keep up to date on his life and when he launched his new, more business focused show, NBN Radio, I was one of his first subscribers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thank a Volunteer!

Yesterday was Giving Tuesday Canada and Guelph stepped up to the challenge, hoping to be Canada's most giving city. Guelph Gives came together to help put on a great event and set a goal of raising 1 million dollars in donations and volunteer time.

And while the official numbers haven't been posted yet it is clear that Guelph met the goal. The people of Guelph still tout the time we were called the most giving community in Canada because of the high number of our population who volunteer time with organizations in the city.


If you followed my blog during the last 30 day challenge, I had a series of posts about my many volunteer posts, In Service, The Series (which I will add to sometime this month). I can testify first hand to the many amazing people we have in this city, because I have met them in the organizations I support.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Collaboration and Competition look a lot alike!

I love Guelph. It is a city built on the spirit of collaboration. Today is Giving Tuesday, an American holiday which crossed the border and came North. It started to counter the other American holidays (or more traditions) of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, celebrations of consumerism which come after the American holiday of gratitude for everything a person has.

But this post isn't really about Giving Tuesday. It's just the backdrop which served as the catalyst for my coffee chat this morning with my new friend Martha. Martha's company is one of the sponsors of GuelphGives and was at the giving fair today. She invited me to come down, visit with the many amazing local not-for-profits and to sit down over coffee.

Martha is also a competitor! What?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Commitment

I started the year off in January with a 30 day blog challenge. I'm still proud to say that I did not miss a single day! However, the second the clock struck midnight on January 30th, thus ended my blogging. In fact, I'm pretty sure without actually checking, that I wrote no more than 2 or 3 posts throughout the rest of the year.

How atrocious!

I'm not sure what it is about me, but I find I do challenges better than maintenance. So, I've decided it's time to set myself a challenge again and finish the 2014 year strong! Here we go, 30 days, or more, of blogging.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Social Media Campaigns with #HSEntChat

Everyone knows that Hootsuite is my favourite social media dashboard, essentially my home page on the internet. One of the reasons is that they host great chats on Twitter with experts in certain areas. Today the chat was about running "social media campaigns", the mostly description-less title given to countless numbers of things that happen on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more.

The folks at Hootsuite asked Stefan Krepiakevich to spend some time chatting about what he's learned about running campaigns. Here's a brief outlines of what we learned.

1. What is a "social media campaign"?

Stefan began by helping us understand that a lot of things can be under the heading of campaign, including contests, video and photo sharing or creation, or using hashtags.

2. When should a company use a "campaign" instead of the regular management of online channels?

A campaign takes some thought, planning and work to execute so a business can't use all it's resources on them. Some ideas about when to use a campaign included when you are trying to increase your email list, when you are trying to gain more followers on a particular channel, or on all of your channels, or when you are trying to build more engagement from your followers on a particular channel.

3. What are some best practices for running a campaign?

This one was pretty unanimous across all the participants in the chat. Make sure it's easy for people to take part. If it's a contest, don't ask for too many things from your fans. If it's a hashtag don't try to make it too clever. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Some other key things to keep in mind is to have goals and to not do the same old thing everyone else is doing.

4. Should a business integrate other offline marketing in their campaign?

This was another pretty unanimous topic. Everyone agrees that email marketing delivers results. If you do no other integration you should at least be sure to tell your list that you are running a campaign and encouraging them to join. However, it does depend on your goals and on your existing social media communities. Sarah Little said it best I think. If you are trying to raise awareness of your business than use every marketing media you have, if you are trying to reward or engage your social media fans that make it exclusive to that social media.

5. Is there such a thing as running too many campaigns?

I think everyone was glad to see Stefan's answer to this question which was "Yes". He feels that each business has their own threshold where running more campaigns is not going to help reach any goals. And every business owner and social media manager breathed a sigh of relief because running a campaign is a lot of work.

6. Speaking of how much work it can be, the next question was about how to run a campaign with low resources.

The answer to that is to take time to research where your fans are and what they want. Then include them. Come up with a campaign where they do more of  the work - sharing photos or videos, caption contests. And be sure to reward them often by re-posting and thanking them.

7. What makes campaigns like Old Spice, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, BatKid etc. work?

Everyone chimed in here talking about how funny and entertaining some good campaigns are. Everyone agrees there is no way to force virality, but to try to create the most entertaining and interesting campaign you can.

8. Some examples of great campaigns in 2014 from Stefan and other chat participants include Heineken's Crack the Open, Doritos Crash the Superbowl, Madden 15's Giferator, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Dominoes Meltdown, Lufthanas Meltdow, SingItKitty.

9. Are there things to keep in mind for brands with global reach while running a campaign?

Really, having a global business doesn't change much while trying to come up with a campaign idea. Stefan thinks having a simple, uncomplicated campaign helps. Something that is fun, easy and relatable.

The last question of the hour was about 3 key take-aways from today's chat. I'm sure you can figure out what most people thought since they've been brought up a number of times. Set a goal, be creative, make it easy, take time to research your audience before implementing and if it meets the goal, use all of your marketing channels to spread the word.

You can read the entire chat here #HSEntChat

If you ever want to learn more about how to use social media to meet your business goals Hootsuite's chats are great for picking up ideas. Follow HootsuiteBusiness on Twitter and start learning!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Profiles

Today I received a friend request on Facebook from an organization using a profile with their branded name. This is a big no no, and surprisingly still something I see happen from time to time.

This is how I politely (or so I hope) declined their Friend Request:

Hi! Not sure who I am talking to, but I want to let you know that I am denying your friend request and why I am doing it.
I do not accept any friend requests from businesses, brands, organizations etc. that are using Facebook profiles. I teach my clients to NEVER use a profile for their official page. I preach about regularly. I can not accept a request from someone who is doing the opposite of what I teach.
The reason I teach people this is two fold. One, using a profile to represent a brand or business etc. is against Facebook's Terms of Service. If you have even one person report you for it Facebook will shut you down immediately and you will loose everything you've worked for.
Two, Facebook Pages have an amazing amount of data provided about who is connected to your page and how they are interacting with your page. Anybody who is using Facebook to promote something is missing out on a gold mine of information that will help you reach your goals. Without that data you are basically spending time and energy on something you can never understand or measure. You will never know if what you are spending all that time on is making any difference.
I suggest you convert your profile to a page, or start a page and change this one to your personal name.
If you choose to convert you will keep all of your photos and all of the people you are connected to, but all of the posts will disappear.
If you choose to change this to your personal page (nobody says you can't talk about politics on your personal page, you can talk about whatever you want) and start a page, you will start from zero but you can send an invite to everyone you are connected with.
Feel free to get in touch if you need any help doing one or the other.

When Facebook became available to any and all users instead of simply students there was no way to represent your company. Personal profiles only. As more and more people started to use Facebook businesses started to notice and many of them started accounts so they could stay in touch with their customers. And Facebook noticed. And they reacted quickly. And they did something amazing. They introduced Pages.

Until Pages began a Facebook user was capped at 5000 friends. Many large brands and celebrities were starting to create second and third accounts so that they could connect with more people. Not only did Facebook make it easier to let brands connect with more people through Pages, they also started to collect and give to brands information about the types of people who were connecting with them.

Since before I started teaching brands online media I've been telling everyone I know to start a Facebook Page if they have a business. Facebook introduced Pages in late 2007! There is no reason in 2014 for someone to be creating a Profile for their business or organizations interests.

Please, if you are still using a Profile for you business, get in touch with me so we can set you up correctly. Make sure your time and effort is providing you with results.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

You are not Guy Kawasaki - stop trying to be!

Sharing links to other content is a strong part of any social media strategy. It's very valuable to be the person known in your industry for searching out all the important content and sharing it with your network. The average person does not want to read every industry trade, especially if it's from an industry they only use a few times, like mortgages, real estate, buying technology etc. So becoming the person in your industry who helps the average person get access to only the most important or informative bits of industry news is a worthy goal. Sometimes that goal is called "Becoming an expert in my industry"

I often teach my clients the five part posting system for Twitter:

1. Reply to other people
2. Retweet other people
3. Share a personable, easy to respond to, post about your day
4. Share links to other content about your industry
5. Share links to your own content

As you see, sharing links to news about your industry is an entire piece of the puzzle. It's something you definitely want to put some work into.

Sadly what I see a lot of on social media nowadays, both Twitter and Facebook, is that people are sharing links without adding any context whatsoever.

I teach my clients to ALWAYS add editorial comment on the link they are sharing.

This is important for two reasons.

1. As a reader, I want to know why you think this piece of news is important for me to read instead of something else. How does this news affect me as a consumer of your product, or how does this news affect you as a seller of this product? You need to give me a reason why I should click on this link and read it. Just giving me the headline of the article makes you no different than if I was following the industry trade paper. All I would read there would be the headlines also, then decide if I want to read it. If I'm following you because you are an excellent Curator of content it is because you have made the decision for me. I know when you post something that I want to read it because I know why it is important to ME.

2. When you are constantly sending links, with no thoughts of your own added to them, the reader begins to realize that maybe you haven't actually read the articles you are linking to. Slowly you start eroding your reputation as an expert in your industry and begin to build the reputation of being an expert at finding automation tools. I don't know about you, but I want a mortgage broker who does spend time every day staying on top of the most important news. I want a well read, well informed person working on my behalf for the best possible deal. I don't want to hire my mortgage broker to teach me which content curation automation tool they think is best... which is what that person actually knows about.

I only know one person in the wide internet famous world who got famous by doing nothing but sharing links, and that's Guy Kawasaki. But his secret is twofold.

First, Guy Kawasaki was already a successful and well known guy, having authored a number of books, worked for many years with Apple, launched a handful of start-ups and acting as Chief Evangelist for a few technology companies.

Second, Guy Kawasaki sent his first tweet in 2007, seven years ago, or in internet years, three generations ago at least! He was the first on the scene, helping people find great and interesting content on a World Wide Web which still had confusing search results, no easy to use news and RSS readers, no Pinterest!

So, don't throw out your plan to find the most interesting articles from around the internet to share with your followers. Just put a bit more thought and caring into it. At least as much thought and caring you would put into answering your customers questions.

ALWAYS add editorial comment with any link you share on social media.

Friday, January 31, 2014

What I'm Reading - Owner Magazine

Just yesterday I wrote about how important it is to maintain a balance between selling yourself or your business and talking with others on social media.

Today, I read this slightly cheeky, but frighteningly familiar blog post, by Chris Brogan "You Can't Talk About Yourself Enough, Apparently". In the post Chris shares the fact that a large number of his audience have no idea what he does. To be fair, he does a lot of things, he blogs, he teaches online workshops, he is a published author (Amazon affiliate link), he is a podcaster, he is the co-founder of the unconference, PodCamp Boston. But the thing he is doing now, which he is surprised so many people don't know about is, is that he is publishing an digital magazine called Owner Magazine.

I follow Owner Magazine in two ways, through the RSS feed which sends every new article to a website which collects them for me, and through an email newsletter which gets sent to me with new articles.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Three, Drive Traffic

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, this part is the Right Hook.

This is the part most difficult for businesses and organizations. When it comes to driving traffic to your website, building a list of leads, asking for sales businesses struggle to find a balance. They either do it constantly, or they never do it.

Driving traffic is about asking your network to take an action, usually called conversion. Business that do a great job of measuring the results of their marketing online keep track of many conversions, not only sales. A website visit, a request to join a mailing list, reading a blog post, watching a video, joining a webinar and more.

I'm not too proud to say I don't make mistakes :-0
Most of the time a business errs on the side of asking too much. A constant stream of tweets with links back to a business website or blog tells a potential follower that the business does not care about them or what they have to say.

Givers gain is a common mantra in the art of building a network. If all you are doing is asking something of your followers, but not giving them anything, you might as well be talking to yourself.

I know, I know, every blog post you write is full of knowledge you are giving away from free, but let's remember that the reason a person writes a blog is to make sure their website is visited often. That might be free knowledge you are giving away, but there is still a cost to the reader, you are still asking something of them. Stop looking so needy, "Come to my site, please!"

On the other side,there are businesses that can't quite understand how using a tool like Facebook or Twitter, or even writing a blog, will get them a sale. Sure you may know all of your followers favourite restaurants, their favourite tv shows and sports teams, you know who they are married to and how many kids they have, and they know the same things about you. But don't forget that you are here to get people to buy from you. Now that you've built trust with your followers, you need to ask them to do something once in awhile.

Just because your website is in your Twitter profile does not mean that your followers are going to click it. They might not have any idea what you do! Help them to understand.

There are  a number of different ratios I've heard around the water cooler of the internet. Some people love the Pareto principle and apply it to everything, so 80% of your posts should be about building your community and 20% about converting traffic or selling to them. I've heard of the lis-TEN ratio, 1 sales tweet to 10 replies. Gary Vaynerchuk argued to have his book called "Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" since he feels it should be 5 jabs, or conversational posts, to one right hook.

I tell my clients they should follow these five steps, in order, on Twitter and Facebook
1. Reply or comment on someone else's post
2. Retweet or Share someone else's post
3. Be conversational - share something personable and easy to talk about
4. Share a piece of interesting or helpful content that is not owned by you
5. Talk about your business, share a link or ask for a sale.

Everyone has a different formula, but what you will notice is that the majority of what you do should not be asking for a sale, but you do need to ask for something. We are all busy people, help me out and make it easier for me to do business with you by letting me know what you can do.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Service, The Series - Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup

I keep thinking that I am at the end of this series, but then I remember one more neat thing I am a part of. Like the Wellington Waterloo Webmakers Meetup, which might actually be the Waterloo Wellington Webmakers Meetup, I'm not really sure which W come first.

Of course that name is new. Until a couple of weeks ago the group was called the Guelph Web Makers Meetup, or GWMM.

GWMM has been running for three years and is a monthly meetup bringing together any person involved in making a website or app. It's a really inclusive group that includes coders, designers, usability experts, SEO specialists, content creators and anybody that has ANY part in creating a website.

I started attending and found that even though I'm pretty much just on the soft side of website creation (in the content area) I was really interested in many of the other topics we covered. Some nights the demos went way over my head, but the results of what people were live coding was always really cool.

My involvement in GWMM got me back to coding and I started learning HTML and demo'd a website I created from scratch (no templates here). Sure it was only four pages and ugly as hell, but I built it.

I'm adding this group to my In Service series because I have donated my time to help market the group. Tonight I was at the Guelph Technology and Design Showcase, held at the University of Guelph in the Science Atrium. It is basically a career fair where local technology companies set up booths and meet with the computer sciences students.

This is the second year that I have attended and worked the GWMM booth, meeting with students and encouraging them to come to our group meetings. There are so many jobs available to computer science students, so many fields they can go into. But it is also a volatile industry, with start-ups launching and failing every day and long time established companies being pushed out of the industry when they stop innovating.

Like I said yesterday, everyone needs a network of people they can go to for support, and in the technology field the more people you know, the more opportunities there are for you. A meetup group is a great way to build that network.

Last year, as I mentioned, I build a webpage from scratch, with the help of GWMM and presented it to the group. It was not pretty, barely functional and had no bells and whistles, but the people watching (most of whom could have built that in seconds) were incredibly supportive and some even reminisced about their first time learning to code. It could have been a terribly embarrassing demo, but instead they shared my excitement about building something that worked.

Not long after that GWMM took part in an event which happens in Waterloo called Family Hack Jam. It's an event for kids to learn coding and engineering skills. There was a module for building a video game, one for HTML coding to build a website about a unique animal, a section for building 3D boxes with paper, and a section for using a 3D printer.

I was asked to represent GWMM and help run the module on HTML coding and building a website.

I feel strongly that there is absolutely no better way to learn a skill than to try to teach it to someone else. I got to spend that entire day teaching kids some very basic HTML coding, more basic even than the website I built. And I got to see in those kids what everyone else in GWMM saw in me when I was showing them my website, pride and amazement when you hit that button and the page loaded just the way you wanted it to.

Unfortunately, some of my other volunteering has gotten in the way of my regular involvement with the webmakers meetup. It's the one technology event in Guelph that I truly miss when I can't attend it, and it's been a long while since I've been to a meetup. So when the opportunity came to go represent the group tonight I jumped at.

I think the GWMM has been one of the most beneficial things I've been involved with and has both introduced me to a network of people I can go to for help, and taught me how to do things I used to think were beyond me. I was happy to put in 4 hours of my time tonight and tell the comp-sci students how much they can gain by attending a meetup.

And you can bet I will be at the next one, February 12th at Symposium Cafe at 7pm. See you there, maybe?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step Two, Network Building

We've already talked about one of the first benefits and goals of creating an online presence and that is controlling the message people receiving about your brand.

Today we will talk about the next benefit anybody can achieve using online tools and that is building a network. Depending on the client we call a network an internet army, brand advocates, referral partners, and even friends.

Offline people rely on a support network for many personal and business goals. Parents rely on trustworthy neighbourhood kids to babysit. Men and women rely on other club members to fill in their golf foursomes. Business people rely on BNI or Rotary or Chambers of Commerce to get referrals. Some people even rely on the people they meet at pubs to come over on weekends and help them build decks and fences.

Any person in your life that you ask for help from is a person in your "network". The word networking has a bit of a bad connotation, bringing to mind smarmy used car salesmen types with business cards they hand out everywhere from their kids choir recitals, to funerals. In reality it is every single person you know, some are smarmy, and some are genuine and lovely people.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Be Happy

Today has not gone as planned. That's not to say I haven't been productive, or that I'm not proud of the work I produced today. It is to say that I planned my day to the minute, but the execution did not work out. I blame bad math.

In actual fact, of the dozen or so tasks I had on my list, I only got about half of them done. And most of that was before I took a lunch break. Since coming back from lunch, however, my plan tanked. Two of the tasks on my list took way more time than I had allowed for them.

Which is why it is almost 9pm and I'm only just writing this post now. I had a plan for tonight's post too, but it involved research and planning. It was a doozy of a blog post... But for now you will have to live with this one. And so will I!

Yesterday a friend posted this infographic on Facebook and I really took it to heart. Of the 10 items on this list of simple things to live a happier life, I've enjoyed 8 of them today.

I woke up after a great night's sleep well rested and ready to go.

I got more than 7 minutes of exercise, outside, enjoying my commute from my home office to my man's home office. And despite the science which says 13.9C is the happiest temperature, I really, really love temps well below zero. This is my happiest season.

I regularly give time to not for profit organizations (see my In Service - The Series posts), and this morning's highly productive start included a number or tasks for those organizations.

I took a lovely (and slightly long) lunch break with my man, and practised smiling with the owner of the restaurant, the smiley Bobbi.

And I practiced gratitude by being thankful for a number of friends who helped edit my work today.

I will also add my own personal thing to the list, which is to forgive myself for not getting everything done.

Choose to be happy. Everything else is a bonus.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Tool Belt - Google Alerts

The world wide web moves pretty fast - if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. - Ferris Bueller

At least I think I he said something like that.

As we learned yesterday while listening to Stuff You Should Know, the web is a huge place, and growing at a massive rate. How are we supposed to keep up with everything posted on the net? How do we know if someone has mentioned us in a blog post, a tweet or a news article?

This is where a tool like Google Alerts comes in handy. I know, I know, Google has let us down recently by closing some features that were super handy (I will forever miss you Google Reader), and they even let us down two days ago by having a major outage across a bunch of their features like Gmail, Google+ and Blogger. Some people even complain that Google Alerts is not as functional as it used to be, and expect it to be the next thing Google stops providing.

But for now, Google Alerts are great at keeping you up to date about the topics you want to watch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What I'm Listening To - Stuff You Should Know

If you can only listen to one podcast this week I would say you should listen to Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation episode on Content Shock - the idea that humans are consuming the maximum amount of content possible, but marketers and entertainers keep making more and more. But since I recommended you listen to Mitch's show last week I will make a second suggestion.

Photo from StuffYouShouldKnow.com
If you have time to listen to two podcasts this week the second one should be Stuff You  Should Know's new episode on the Deep Web.

Stuff You Should Know is the first podcast released by the How Stuff Works emporium that I ever listened to. I have almost never been disappointed in an episode. I learn from each episode. I laugh with each episode.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What I'm Reading - The Pomodoro Technique

What happened to this week?

Last week I was about halfway through Gary Vaynerchuk's new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook. Today, 7 days later I don't know that I'm any further.

It is so easy to run out of time in a day when it's not scheduled in. And I've been very bad about scheduling in time to read.

Last week I was often writing a blog post in the evening, and then retiring to the couch to read a bit before heading to bed.

I'm not sure where that system went wrong... I had a few late night over this week, and a couple of very early mornings and a couple of days over scheduled with meetings.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Starting a Twitter Account, Step One

Okay, so it might not be the first step since you need to register an account, choose a username, upload a profile picture and header photo, write a bio, add a website and change your background photo.

Those are the basics. Search "How to start a Twitter account" and you will get pages and pages and pages of these steps.

But the most important step is the next one. It is the step I make every client take and I insist on it. If they don't do it there is no reason to keep working with me, and no reason to have a Twitter account.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Importance of Taking Lots of Photos

Day 21 of my 30 day blogging challenge and I'm having inspiration troubles for the first time.

I have no idea what to write about. It's Wednesday so I don't have a theme already picked out, like my Friday and Saturday posts. I have a series started and a few other posts to fill in the series, but I don't have the focus today to write an informational blog post.

So I'm going to go through my photos and see if some thing stands out to me. Hold on, I'll be right back.
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In Service, The Series - CMHA WWD Family Education Group

Wow, now that is a lot of letters in that acronym! Let's break it down:

Canadian
Mental
Health
Association
Waterloo
Wellington
Dufferin

In early 2013 the CMHA in the region merged with another agency in the region Trellis. Before the merger Trellis was an organization working with clients suffering from mental health disorders or developmental disabilities. What was unique about Trellis was that they also had a small budget and one staff person who took on clients who did not have mental or developmental disabilities, but was a care giver to one.

In Spring 2011 I became a client of this staff person and I was accepted into the Family Education Group. I learned so much about my relationships with family members and friends both with and without mental illness and even more about myself that I offered to volunteer for the next group starting in the fall.

Since then I have volunteered for every Family Education Group that has gone through Trellis, and now CMHA WWD, probably around 8 groups, I've honestly lost count.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Holistic Web Marketing - Step One, Brand Awareness

One of my favourite things about using the internet as a marketing tool is how versatile it is. For some people using social media and having a website will only ever help build their brand awareness, but for others being online will lead directly to sales. And then their are all the steps in between.

Let's explore those steps, one blog post at a time!

Step One - Brand Awareness




An online strategy should be a complete, holistic look at how your business is represented on the internet. The first step of any business looking to get into marketing themselves on the web should be to Google themselves.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Tool Belt - HootSuite

Who doesn't love the owl?

Many people know that Twitter is my favourite social network. I've been active on Twitter since 2008 and made many friends and business connections there. Not only that, I've been able to speak directly to authors, actors, musicians, chefs, and film makers I respect.

But I don't use Twitter. I use HootSuite.

HootSuite is a tool called a social dashboard. It is an in-browser tool when on a computer, and an app when on a mobile device.

With HootSuite I am able to post to Twitter, my personal Facebook profile, my business Facebook page, my Google+ profile, LinkedIn, as well as all the other Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and Google+ pages I manage for my clients.

I never need to log out of my own account and log back in as someone else. If I see something on my personal Twitter feed that I think I'd like to RT from a different Twitter account I simply click a button and select the account.

Until recently I only used the official Twitter page for two reasons - for advanced search and for lists. But now HootSuite supports those as well!

In fact, using the geocode feature in HootSuite when I'm trying to filter search terms in tweets works way better than entering a city in the location section of Twitter's advanced search.

Lately I've been experimenting with the HootSuite auto-scheduler. In the past I would either choose random times, or take a look at my Facebook Insights and see when more people were online. HootSuite has now integrated a scheduler that it claims automatically posts things at optimal times. I know how much data HootSuite gives me with it's analytics package, so it might very well know better times than I do.

Speaking of the analytics package I love that feature! I use the HootSuite link shortener to share all of my links so I can see how often they are clicked. It always amazes me to see which one gets the most visitors, but helps me know what my friends and fans are interested in.

I'm also really impressed with the ability to create teams in HootSuite and assign responses to people. In larger companies or organizations there might be a few people working together on an account. They might even be from different parts of the company, like marketing or technical support or customer service. If a tweet or facebook message comes in that can't be answered by whoever is online right then they can send it a team member and ask them to answer it.

And lastly, I love how many other social networks HootSuite has apps for so that I can do almost everything in my dashboard. I can check my Instagram feed, I can watch YouTube videos from all of the people I follow, I can scroll through Reddit and Tumblr. I can have one tab open and do almost everything on the internet!

If you haven't played with HootSuite yet, if you only check Twitter on the official page, or god forbid still use TweetDeck, you should open an account and have a look at how easy it is to use.

One more reason I love HootSuite - look at all the fun Owly characters they have! Here are a few of my favourites.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

What I'm listening to - Mitch Joel

My love of Mitch Joel and his podcast Six Pixels of Separation can't be stressed enough. Not a single episode goes by that I don't become smarter.

I was in heaven getting to meet Mitch and hear him speak at Tweetstock last spring.

Mitch is a very data driven marketer. Sure, he works in digital, which people (and even some other digital marketers) claim can not be measured, but Mitch disagrees.

I was going to talk about Mitch Joel and his podcast because it was his interview with Gary Vaynerchuk that actually made me want to read Gary's new book. I just wrote about Gary's book yesterday and thought it would make sense to share the reason I chose to read it. And while I stand by the fact that of all the media interviews GaryVee was doing for his new book, this one with Mitch Joel is the only one that actually made me want to read the book.

However, I think I'd rather go back and re-listen to a couple of older episodes. In the spring Mitch did two episodes, one right after the other, that dealt with data and making marketing and business decisions based on data. It's a couple of fascinating conversations because they delve into data vs humanity, what is the correct decision for the bottom line and what is the correct decision for the interest of your brand in a human world.

You might need to be bit more on the nerd side of things to really appreciate it. You might have to be one of those kids who was fascinated by Data from Star Trek and spent hours thinking about the singularity.

But if you aren't that type of person, you might simply find it interesting to know that there are some people who believe there are ethics to the science of collecting and using your personal data. It might make you challenge your ideas of privacy versus personalization.

In case you are wondering, I am 100% for personalization with my own data and digital experiences. But I understand that many people are not.

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I'm Reading - @GaryVee

It's Friday again, which means I start moving into relax mode. I've been working hard for the last few months to make more of an effort to enjoy the weekend instead of just using Saturdays and Sundays as catch-up on work days.

So I do more reading, cooking, watching of movies and shows and spending time with this guy when I can on the weekends.

As always I have both non-fiction and fiction books on the go, one non-fiction which counts as "business" and one which is for fun.

This week I've been reading my very first Gary Vaynerchuk book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World (Amazon affiliate link).

While I've certainly known about GaryVee for a few years now I neither follow him on any social media, watch his videos - Wine Library TV or have read any of his previous books. I have friends who almost consider Crush It!: Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion (affiliate link) to be a lifestlye book rather than a business book.

I have nothing against GaryVee and I very much agree with what he says. It's just that for me I've never found his delivery style enjoyable. If you don't know GaryVee than go check out a video right now. He is very big. I appreciate that, he's very passionate and gets other people fired up as well. I have nothing against this style of deliver either, in fact one of my favourite people, Scott Stratten, would be described the exact same way.

Maybe I only have enough room for one loud mouth in my circle. Either way, I've never felt a strong need to read either Crush It! or The Thank You Economy (affiliate link). However, Gary's new book #JJJRH, I've decided to read.

This book is very much more hands-on, crunchy even. Gary is talking about how to effectively grab a social media fan and turn them into a consumer. He's doing it, chapter by chapter, and network by network, with actual posts from brands and breaking down what works and what doesn't.

This is way more helpful than a blanket statement of "Be more human". The reality is, some people really aren't good communicators and what seems like common sense to someone who is good at it is not to someone who doesn't have the skill set to write a post or take a picture. And I'm sure we all know people who say the wrong thing in every social situation.

"Be more human" and "Engage more" are very wishy washy statements.

I've talked about creating a podcast that is more based on what I do and part of the plan was to breakdown good and great marketing and explain what works about it. Give people some tangible advice. It's definitely needed, and more helpful.

I definitely recommend Jab Jab Jab Jab Right Hook to any person, business or organization using online media to spread the message about what they do.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My comic life

Click to read the fine print

Last fall I was pleased to bid on and win a free comic drawn by my friend Steve Mills of Worth It Online.

Steve has been writing a comic based on characters who live, work and play in Guelph for a few years. Every once in awhile he features a business as part of that world. He also does commissions, like mine above, that are strictly pieces for a business.

We had a great meeting to talk about my business and what I most wanted to say to people about what I do. I hope that the comic speaks for itself!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Service, The Series - #BleedForGuelph

This will be a short blog post since I have limited use of both of my arms right now.

Tonight I gave blood at Canadian Blood Services. The reason both of my arms are unusable is because I learned that the veins on my left arm are tricky to find. So I was stuck twice, once on either arm!

It's the first time I've given blood since 1995,which seems like at least 3 or 4 lifetimes ago.

My good friend, Dr. Mark Kubert, is a chiropractor here in Guelph. Shortly after him and his wife relocated to Guelph and started their practice they began giving back to the community. Besides giving free information sessions all over the place on eating well and staying active, he started a regular blood donation club through Twitter (though Facebookers are welcome also) called #BleedForGuelph.

If I remember correctly, this is the third time the #BleedForGuelph group of donors has booked a bunch of appointments at Canadian Blood Services and given.

I've been wanting to join them every time, but for reasons each time I had a conflict, until tonight.

It was packed at CBS tonight, those nurses were cooking! As well there was a recipient of blood transfusions at the clinic all night meeting people and thanking us for giving. He told us that because of liver failure he went through many transfusions, and I'm not sure I've got the time frame correctly, but at his worst he went through 44 transfusions in 24 hours.

I've been reading Blood by Lawrence Hill and interestingly just yesterday I read the section about blood donations, the scandals, the discriminatory practices, and the fact that people donate without ever knowing or seeing how their donation impacts someone's life. But at CBS tonight, everyone was able to meet someone whose life has changed because of people who take 30 or 40 minutes out of their day and donate blood.

The wooziness and potential for nausea is totally worth it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Effect of Blogging Daily

So, it's been about two weeks now that I have been writing a blog post every day. I joined this challenge not because I wanted to kick start my blog, but because I wanted to practice the writing muscle.

Because of this I haven't really done anything to promote my blog, or my posts. What's interesting is the effect of writing has on the website visits, and on me.



On the day before the challenge started I posted a link on my Facebook Page, and one more time a week ago to remind people I was taking part. But other than that I've done nothing on Facebook to share my posts and boost visitors.

I have said nothing at all about the challenge on my Twitter account. But I did share a link to a specific blog post from 2011 as part of a conversation.

Because my blog is hosted by Blogger that means Google integration, so each post automatically gets shared on Google+ via my personal account. I've received a couple of +1s and one comment from a friend on one of the shares.

Despite that complete lack of promotion, the number of visitors to my site has jumped in a pretty big way.

I hadn't written a blog post in months, and in fact 2013 was pretty dismal for posts, only 5 for the entire year. So my traffic was at basically nothing on January 1st, but as you can see that changed. The mere act of having content on there regularly makes a significant difference to visits.

More importantly I have found that my energy levels have been really high since I started blogging daily. I have had incredibly productive days for a couple of weeks and always feel super motivated to get more done. This feels great! And I hope to continue this rate of motivation throughout the rest of the month at least, if not longer!

Monday, January 13, 2014

You Do Social Media, Right?

My favourite question, which isn't really a question, is when people who haven't worked with me say "You do social media, right?"

I mean, I guess it's a question, or it usually leads to a question about either something they read or heard and are considering doing, why should they tweet, or they wonder how I make money "doing social media".

Yes I "do social media." I do it as part of my marketing strategy for my business Circle of Media. What my job is, the way I make money, is that I teach businesses and organizations how to market their business on the internet.

I always try to see this question as an opportunity to teach someone and maybe gain a new client, but honestly, some days it bristles. Let me help you understand before you ask me the same question.

After decades, and in some cases a century of advertising with print, radio, television and outdoor advertising people have become very comfortable and good at communicating for those mediums. But as we all know (and some people think heralds the end of the world) we have a new communication medium now which is the internet, the world wide web, cyberspace, online, digital - however you want to call it.

The rules online are different - mostly in that there are no rules save one - the consumer is in charge.

So I help my clients understand and navigate this new world.  I teach my clients how to use the tools there are, like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Google, and more. All of these websites have their own design and put buttons in places you might never look for them. I do hands-on tutorials to teach people how to use the websites.

I also help my clients understand how and what to communicate in all of these places. Twitter is a networking event, Facebook is a family or neighbourhood picnic, blogging is all about entertaining and informing readers, Google is about understanding what your consumers want from you. You cannot write your newspaper ad copy into a status, a blog or even into a display ad and expect to get people to buy from you.

So, yes, I do social media to meet and stay in touch with my clients, and to keep learning from my mentors, and to make life long friends. My job is to help you understand how to do the same thing and more.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Did Twitter create a Frost Quake?

I spent the bulk of today with friends celebrating the marriage of our friends Shane and Robin. I came to know Shane because he is the host of an online game review webseries. Him and my man Nick often work together on videos.

Those of us at our table (the rowdy table) would be most commonly referred to as "Creatives". We were a table of animators, videographers, writers and such. So naturally the conversation turned to movies.

What began as a discussion of the positives and negatives of recent B movie Sharknado quickly turned into the script writing of the best B movie a bunch of people at a wedding can come up with. Needless to say, it's involving sharks. I won't give it away because hopefully you will see it one day as one of the Syfy Originals.

Which is how I come around to some weather events that have taken the twitter world by storm and sound like the titles of their own B movies - Frost Quake! Polar Vortex!


Many of us have lived in Canada for decades and never heard of these terms which are describing weather we've not often had a chance to experience, or at least those of us who live closer to the US border.

Despite our confusion, and BS metres sending up flares, these are not new or made up events. What's new is the immediate communication tool we all use to validate ourselves. Think back a few years to before Twitter and Facebook. Did you ever have an experience where you thought you might have felt an earthquake, or heard weird sounds, heck for the conspiracy theorists, even seen strange lights at night. Who did you tell? Did you wake your neighbours and ask them if they too felt, heard or saw the same thing you did? Did you maybe turn on the radio or the television to see if they were reporting strange events? Did you ever actually take a moment and call the media yourself to report something?

I'm betting the answer to most, if not all of those questions, is no. The most you might have done is mention it at the next neighbourhood potluck asking if anyone else noticed something. Or more likely, you just convinced yourself it was nothing, you didn't even notice it. Life went on after the sound or lights or shake just like it did before so who cares what happened? You've probably forgotten.

But not now! Now we have an immediate validation engine in social media. Every experience whether banal or extraordinary is shared with our friends and followers. As gregarious human beings we like to know that we are not alone in the world, so when the power goes out we take to Twitter to ask if anyone else's power is out.

Sure, there are the 1% of us who take to Twitter to inform the hydro company or the city that something is amiss, but I know when I post about something weird it's to validate that my experience was not in my head, that I am not the only person in this position.

So twice this winter season in Southern Ontario we have had extreme cold coming just after mild temperatures which has caused groundwater to freeze at a quicker rate than usual. Water expands as it freezes, so the quick freezing puts a lot of pressure on the ground and makes very loud noise, which us regular folk have been hearing. Off to Twitter to make sure everyone else heard it too. And now you have thousands of people talking about something only meteorologists usually discuss.

Frost Quakes, Polar Vortex, even false death rumours are not new things, they are just more quickly spread through social media.

Tip - don't immediately believe things to be false or true when you hear about them on social media; take a few moments to look into it before you deny or share.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What I'm listening to - Stuff To Blow your Mind

I listen to a lot of podcast. A lot!

Browsing through my iTunes you will see that I am subscribed to well over 70 podcasts. Not all of them produce content regularly, or even at all anymore, but I would say that I listen to around 30 shows which do post regularly.

Most of the podcasts I listen to are between 30 and 60 minutes long. I became such a huge consumer of podcasts when I had my retail food store. I worked there at least 12 hours a day, often by myself and often doing manual tasks like cooking. Listening to podcasts was a way to pass the time, a way to learn and laugh while still working.

Nowadays I still often put in 12 hour days but I'm usually doing work that engages my brain a bit more. I can't listen to podcasts as much as I have in the past, but I still am pretty good at listening even while browsing through articles.

I don't give the podcasts I listen to enough love. I never email the hosts, I rarely comment on posts and I have never given an iTunes review. Seeing as how, as a podcaster myself, I am constantly asking for these things of my listener, I could do a better job of giving.

Ten days ago, I started a 30 day blog post challenge in the hopes that I could create a habit of writing more often. Not long after that the folks at Stuff To Blow Your Mind put out this episode on breaking or changing habits.

I'm sorry to report that the long believed adage "21 days to change a habit" is a piece of mythology. It turns out every person is different, and every habit is different. Some are easy to pick up, some are hard to get rid of.

I've been writing a post every day for ten days and it feels pretty good. I never need to remind myself to write. I tend to write at the same time every day, around 7 at night. I've been lucky for the last 10 days that I have not had anything that takes me out and away in the evening. But that changes next Tuesday.

Will writing at a different time of the day break my mojo? I sure hope not because I feel really good about this habit and I want it to continue.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What I'm reading

Last week I posted my three words for 2014 and one of them was Read. This word is a holdover from 2013.

When I was a kid my nose was always in a book. I was one of those kids so addicted to reading that at the breakfast table I would read the box of cereal. In fact, my grandmother often tells people about when she would read to me at night and be out of books I would go grab an encyclopaedia and ask her to read that to me.

Somewhere in the last 4 years I've realized that while my rate of reading hasn't gone down (in fact it has probably gone up), the majority of what I was reading was online, whether through friends blog posts, news articles, or social media postings.

While there is lots to read, learn, and communicate through short form reading and writing, there is something very different about devoting hundreds of pages and hours to one piece of work.

Originally when I chose Read as a word for last year it was influenced by a project someone suggested about reading only 3 books in one year and really learning from each book. Acting on every idea, exploring every train of thought the writing brings you in. That did then and continues to feel like something I could never do. I get bored with things regularly. I like a lot of variety. The idea of reading only 3 books in one year sounds like torture to me.

But I was attracted to the idea of more completely comprehending what you are reading. Having joined a book club last year has really reminded me how much more deeply a book can move you when you are able to talk about it with someone who has different thoughts on it. I've also been reminded how much more deeply a book can move you when you take some time to process it.

So, while I have challenged myself to read even more than I read last year, I'd also like to get more out of my reading. I've decided in fact to combine both the word Read with my other word for the year Create. I will make an effort to write a few words about each book I am reading. No matter if they are fiction or non-fiction.

I usually have one fiction and one non-fiction book going at the same time. Right now I've been working
my way through The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Amazon affiliate link). I've already read A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four and am just beginning The Hound of the Baskervilles.

I often have one, sometimes two non-fiction books on the go. Usually one that I am reading to push my business skills, and the other for my book club. Which means right now I am reading both Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, And Live Happily Ever After  (affiliate link) and Blood: The Stuff of Life (affiliate link)

I've already completed two books I started before the New Year so I'm well on my way to having 30 books read by the end of 2014