Quotes that Inspire

Why, Social Media, Why?

From the Forward of “YOUtility Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype” by [Jay Baer] of [Convince and Convert] (with permission)

I was officially scared to death. It was November 2008. The stock market was in a terrible nose dive. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama debated what should be done about failing banks and financial institutions. To say the U.S. economy was in a tailspin would be an understatement, and consumer confidence was suddenly, almost overnight, shaken to the core.

Within days of the market collapse I had four customers withdraw their deposits. More would follow in the coming weeks. What had appeared to be a healthy late spring and winter for my business was becoming a nightmare.

I was a “pool guy,” as homeowners often call us. Along with my two business partners I had owned River Pools and Spas in Warsaw, Virginia, since 2001. We started with a beat-up pickup truck, three guys, and a dream. By 2008 we had become a formidable in-ground swimming pool construction company with more than seventy fiberglass pool installations a year in Virginia and Maryland.

Going into 2008 I was oozing with confidence. Our brand was expanding, and we were pushing growth as hard as we possibly could. Finally, after years of physical, mental, and emotional sacrifice we were going to experience the fruits of our labors. But no amount of sacrifice or experience could have prepared us for the economic collapse. The faucet that had been flowing wide open during the previous decade suddenly refused to allow even a drop to fall.

By January 2009, our company was on the brink of complete financial ruin. The phone simply wasn’t ringing. It stood to reason; one thing consumers rarely do in the worst economic times since the 1930s is sit around the dinner table and decide to purchase a swimming pool. Even in the rare circumstances when there were interested customers, banks had made luxury-lending nearly impossible with the tightening of credit and the evaporation of home equity due to the collapse of the real estate market. We had almost no projects for the foreseeable future. Our credit lines were maxed out, our sixteen employees were sitting at home with nothing to do, and our bank accounts were overdrawn for three consecutive weeks.

I was depressed, scared and out of ideas. I found myself turning to the one place we seem to go to find the answers we’re looking for – the Internet. Since I certainly wasn’t installing pools, I had plenty of time to research new marketing and business concepts; as I did, concepts like “blogging,” “inbound marketing,” content marketing,” and “social media” kept coming up again and again.

Like most of us I had an inherent sense that business and marketing were shifting to the web, but, as a not particularly computer-savvy guy, it wasn’t something that had ever seemed applicable to my business. But, I’d never been more ready to try something new. Unless we figured out a way to generate more leads and sales without spending money on advertising, we were going to close our doors, and my business partners and I would lose our homes.

It was time to sink or swim.

What I discovered first, and what will become exceptionally clear in this book, is that consumers of all types expect to find answers on the Internet now, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales and loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote. It’s a fundamental change in how I think about business, and you’ll think differently too, after reading Youtility.

So this one’s going out to all you small business owners out there. You’re my people. You’re the ones that have everything to lose by remaining stagnant. You might have thoughts similar to those of Jay’s at the time… feeling technically inept. There is more than a sufficient supply of contractors out there who can teach you. If you fear you’re just not teachable when it comes to technology – maybe you’re right. In that case, find a contractor to take care of your efforts for you. I’ve said multiple times on this blog that you absolutely must know what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you don’t – chances are you’re wasting YOUR time and energy (which equals cash by the way… YOUR cash) that could be focused where you excel.

I have two clients that are older gentlemen. One in his mid-sixties – the other in his mid-seventies. The gentleman in his mid-sixties is like a bag full of ADD mixed with good intentions. He is insanely good at what he does – working with animals. He is insanely bad at anything technically related. Instead of trying to figure it all out, he hired me. He gets to spend his time doing what he loves, I get to take care of what he doesn’t excel at. Likewise with the 75 year old. While he can’t afford to have someone take over his entire social media presence (which I can appreciate), he can pay me to meet with him once a month to fine tune his SM strategy, and while he has to take care of all logistics himself, we take out all the guess work of what needs to be done, when and how, with setting monthly goals and creating a plan for him to follow. This works great!

My rule of thumb is this: If I have to sell  you on the fact that as a business, you NEED a Social Media presence (and a strong one at that) – I likely won’t take you on as a client. Why? ‘Cuz ain’t nobody got time for that! ;) My time needs to be focused on coming up with content for my current clients, not spent on trying to reassure you (after two days) that SM is a valid and vital form of marketing. One of my friends says this in regards to finding clients: “If you get a potential client that wants to see immediate results….. RUN. They need to understand that Social Media Marketing is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.” Oh how right she is. This beast is all about building relationships. I don’t know about you, but if there is a man who is interested in me – if he tries to go from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, he’s going to scare me off. Why? Because as a (somewhat) rational human being – I understand that solid relationships take time to build if they’re going to be sustainable. Friendships are the same way. If I just met you and all of a sudden you want to spend every waking moment together – it’s quite likely that this is going to be a turn-n-burn friendship – which I quite honestly have no time for. Social media is the same way. Take the time you need to build rapport with your audience. Make it your job to care about what they care about. Be genuine.

What I DO have time for is what Jay talks about a bit later in his book – spending time on MY content. Coming up with content that makes me an expert in my field so that I’ll be the resource everyone wants to come to. My number one client is me. It has to be. Why? Because if I’m not consistently staying up on what’s happening in social media – my clients suffer. If you take time to blink in this field, you’re behind your game. If you’re looking for a Social Media professional – I’ll leave you with this – make sure you ask them this question: “What client do you spend the most time on?” You might be surprised at the answer you get.

Until next time – where I’ll be reviewing more of YOUtility – You can get your own copy of the NY Times Bestseller ——>HERE<——-

The Inevitable Fear

And you’re back?  Hooray for another Face Your Fear Friday!

All of us fear it in one way or another. Death. Don’t leave! My hope is that this lights a fire under you to mend fences. Have no regrets.  This life boils down to one thing in my mind. It’s not about building the biggest business. It’s not about how many things you can fit into your castle of a house. What it starts and ends with is love.

In all seriousness, I don’t fear my own death one bit. That might sound morbid, but I’ve just come to accept the circle of life. Here’s my biggest fear, truth be told: My leaving this planet or someone I love leaving this planet not knowing how much I love them. I was sitting with my two cousins at [Stacked Pickle] a little over a month ago. We were talking about getting our cousins together to do a camping trip this summer so we could all be in one place and just enjoy each other’s company outside of the hustle and bustle of every day life. I think Joe thanked me for organizing it – and that was all it took.  Tears started flowing down my cheeks and I said, “You know, my biggest fear is that I won’t see you guys or people that I love again – and you won’t know how much I love you.” And the tears kept coming.  The truth is that the tears finally stopped the day after, but even now, writing this out – my eyes are starting to fill up.

I lost my mom nearly 6 years ago to a horrid disease – pancreatic cancer. I’d be lying if I told you that a part of me didn’t die that day as well. Before that day came though – my GOD, we had a rocky relationship.  I took her for granted more times than I care to remember. I was selfish. She was demanding and controlling. It felt like one head butt session after another. I even remember when she was feeling so badly before her diagnosis – I felt like she was exaggerating – because that’s what she did. Everything was bigger than life (which is probably why I love the movie Big Fish). As I sat in that tiny little consultation room with about 10 other family members, the doctor told me news that flipped my whole world upside down. As much as this woman annoyed me. As much as I’d thought her purpose in life was to destroy mine – the reality of the woman who loved me enough to give me life – flashed right in front of me. In that moment, I realized just how self-centered we can be as humans. Before this moment, I’d lived my life for me. On October 11th, 2007 – my life was no longer just about what I wanted and what I needed. At around 10:30 am that very day, my life’s purpose became saving my mother’s life. No doctor was going to tell me I couldn’t either.

I tried – and I failed. One thing I didn’t fail at though: I rebuilt an incredible, loving, connected relationship with my momma. I apologized for the little things and the big things.  I bathed her, massaged her, and at the end, flushed her IV lines, fed her – and ultimately…. let her go.  As I was sitting next to her as she was in her hospital bed a couple of weeks before she passed, her best friend, Patty was there.  I got a little emotional and started to apologize again.  She looked at me and said, “honey, it’s ok.  Let it go.”  Then she looked at Patty and said, “Isn’t it funny? Your kids can wound you deeply and all it takes is a heartfelt apology and EVERYTHING is ok. And I mean it, sis.” As she turns back to me.. “Everything is ok.”  Now that’s love.

I want to leave you with this video from Patrick Swayzee and Barbara Walters.  It’s ironic that this man passed from the same dreaded disease. The reason I share it though – is the tail end of this video. “It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside… You take it with you.”  Live each day like it’s your last – and love just the same.  Mend fences.  Pride is a monster and it’s not worth the regrets you’ll have once it’s too late.

If you have interest in learning more about Pancreatic Cancer or would like to donate to research please visit the —->PanCan Site <—–

Allodoxaphobia and other (not so) Wonderful Things.

I’m kind of excited to write this.  I don’t pretend to fully understand this phobia because I am on (close to) the polar opposite side of the spectrum.  You may have realized that I’m not really your conventional professional blogger.  On Fridays, I veer off on this weird tangent about fears.  Then, Monday-Thursday, I just … talk.  Not techie jargon.  Not hard to understand information.  I try my best to put things in a way that is easily understood.

There’s a method to my madness.  I think, for reasons sociologists would only be able to explain, as a society we are scared stiff by one another.  More than that, though – my personal observation that it’s more about us being afraid of ourselves.  Why would anyone want to listen to us?  What makes our opinion valid?  Ummmm…. YOU make your opinion valid.

So what is this [Allodoxaphobia]?  Well, I’ve hyperlinked it, so you can click there to get more info – but the part I’m going to focus on is the fear of confrontation.  Ok, so, sad as it is – I guess that here’s the part where I divulge that I’m not a medical expert.  If you need mental health help, seek a professional… blah, blah… legal jargon… blah. (I’m not making fun of anyone here.  Just think sue happy people are ridiculous.)

This problem – the lacking of ability to speak things the way they are – has many of us literally living in fear every day of our lives.  I should divulge here that I used to care MUCH more about what people thought of me than I do now.  Here’s what I thrive on now:  Open, Honest, Communicative, Genuine relationships.  If we can’t have open dialogue – then we absolutely can’t be friends.  Seems closed minded, maybe, but I just don’t have time to waste trying to tiptoe around you.  I have been given (?) days on this earth.  That question mark is HUGE!  My last day could be tomorrow.  Who knows?  You think I want to spend it with all this negativity building up in me because you pissed me off and I’m too afraid to say so?  Ummmmm…. No.

So how do I approach it?  It’s not all that complicated, really.  I’ll give you an example.  I won’t change her name to Bob but I will change it because I want to respect her privacy.  I used to work with a woman.  Her name is Tenisha.  Tenisha was (and maybe still is, by some) easily misunderstood.  She just came out of a horrid marriage, had raised all of her children and had been out of the traditional workforce for a number of years. Divorce left her job hunting and she landed in my department as a department head.

Now, when I say she’d been out of work for a number of years – we’re talking over a decade.  I can’t begin to wrap my mind around how much has changed professionally in over 10 years.  Her mindset about how things were supposed to run was kind of old news.  And to be honest, having a business degree, it wasn’t easy on my ego watching a noob with no degree take a leadership role.  I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I have to get out of my own way to be productive.  I did get out of the way.  I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was open at least, to her direction.  Tenisha and I had a few moments when I had to call her out on issues.

So what do you do? Now – here’s the “guide”, if you will, to confrontation.  Do not approach someone in a combative fashion.  So:

  • Cool down.

Don’t you dare move until you can do so in an open, calm, approachable way.  If that’s tomorrow – then it’s tomorrow.  (disclaimer – don’t wait too long because then you’ll just talk yourself out of it.)

Next:  The ever dreaded “We need to talk”…

  • Find an entry statement.

Mine was, “Hey Tenisha, so you have a couple of minutes to chat?”  Chat indicates friendly, right?  I don’t say it with laser beams of hatred piercing her heart or through a locked jaw because I took time to???  That’s right.  Calm down.

The rest is kind of a cake walk.  Once you make your entry statement, you’re fully committed.  If you’re a highly emotional person, make notes about what you want to talk about so you don’t leave anything out.  Please don’t make it a grocery list of everything he/she has ever done wrong in life.  You won’t get your desired result that way.

So the last and most impactful confrontational talk Tenisha and I had went like this:

Tenisha:  Hey Amber, Did you know this (fill in random assignment) was here on the printer?

Me:  Oh, yes.  I did.  I’m sorry, I’m happy to take care of it.

Tenisha: Hey, I know your mind is probably occupied with a lot of other things since you only have 2 weeks left to work here, but maybe next time one of these is printed you could put tape around your finger so you remember to do it?

Me:  O_o  *Biting tongue*  *Biting Tongue Harder* *Tongue MAY be bleeding.*

Tenisha exits to complete task that I  miserably failed to do.  Commence cool down period.  I gave myself about 20 minutes, fuming for at least 10 of those minutes.

Then it dawned on me.  Maybe she just doesn’t know how to communicate with me.  I’m kind of an in your face, please for the love of Pete, would you just SAY WHAT YOU MEAN kind of person.  After mission cool down, I went to find her.  Conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hey Tenisha, do you have a minute?

Tenisha:  Sure!  What’s up?

Me:  Let me preempt this with the fact that I’m a very direct communicator.  I don’t like backbiting or any of that so I’m bringing this right to you. Remember what you said to me a few minutes ago about the task not being complete?

Tenisha: Yes

Me:  Here’s what my brain interpreted through that conversation.  I’m telling you this because we need to have understanding and not discord: My brain interpreted that this is an ongoing problem if it’s so bad that I have to tape my finger in order to remember.  That’s #1.  #2 – If that’s the case, then I NEED TO KNOW IT!  Don’t pussyfoot around an issue and treat me like a child by telling me to tape my finger.  Tell me what the issue is so I can fix it. I am a very proud person.  I take an immense amount of pride in my work.  If I’m doing it incorrectly, I want to know so that I fix the issue.  That leads me to #3 – like I said, I take great pride in my work.  While I’m employed here, I will work my tail off as I always do.  The fact that I have 2 weeks left to work has nothing to do with it, so please don’t insinuate that because I have a limited time here – I feel it ok to slack.  That’s not the case.

Tenisha’s eyes filled up with tears.  I questioned her.  Her response was that no one had taken the time to question her statements like that so as to understand where she was coming from.  It touched her.  It did what?  Yes – people LONG to be understood.  She told me exactly what the problem was.  Directly to my face.  I fixed it.  I kept it fixed.  The conversation ended with a hug, her crying on my shoulder and telling me that she loves me.

That’s what communication does.  Yes, it makes you vulnerable – but it opens you up to being understood and understanding others.

Who Am I To Be….

 

I read this every day… And without fail, I get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.  I know it to be true.  Our deepest fear is often uncovering the greatness that we were intended to be.  What he had Akeelah read in this clip is by [Marianne Williamson].  You can [Click Here] to find it in print.  Print it out.  Read it every day. Be encouraged – and inspired to uncover the wonder that you are today.

I’m Afraid of Your Routine

Okay, not really, but lots of other people are. The things that you wake up to in the morning and do out of habit… There’s someone else, next door… a mile down the road or maybe the next state over that’s afraid of that very thing. That’s what this Face Your Fear Friday thing is all about.

Think about it. You wake up, make coffee, brush your teeth, shower, dress, eat breakfast, feed the kids, get them all ready – then what do you do? Most of us pile in the car and we travel our butts to work, school, daycare – whatever the case may be.  Can you imagine if you were afraid to get in that vehicular object and throw it in reverse?  Like … scared stiff?  Right.  Most of us can’t even begin to imagine it.

The folks at the [Experience Project] see this sort of thing quite often though.  Click that link back there <—— (the one in the brackets… it’s ok… I’ll wait.)

How would your life be different if that fear was your own?  It’s not all that different though – from your own fear, that is.  Which one of your fears is stopping you from living your life to the fullest?  Or maybe not even all that – which one of your fears is keeping you from living a life of just a little less stress and a little more ease?

Maybe connecting with others that suffer the same fears as you will help you through it?  There are other folks there too – just waiting to cheer you on in whatever is stifling you.  [Check out the Experience Project by CLICKING HERE!]