Archives for May 2011

My Father Is A Blogger

Bradburyonwriting

There is an almost 7 year-old girl standing ten feet away from me. She stayed home from school today, the victim of a bad cough, she has made a miraculous recovery. Had she not spent part of last night coughing I would have sent her to school, but with nine days left I figured it would be wiser to let her rest so that she doesn’t miss a chunk of days.

But the best laid plans of mice and men go astray and so did mine. This little girl of mine says that she is bored. She has had all day to play games and watch television. Hours up0n hours to do nothing while dad toils away at his computer.  Fortunately she is a healthy lassie but this is not the first time that she has stayed home with me. Several months ago we shared this space in the home office and had similar conversations to those we had today.

I explained to her that since I am working I can’t play with her. I told her that I would take some breaks and that during those breaks I would spend time with her, but that they would be limited. She forgot about how bored she was then and spent a chunk of time today trying to get me to stop working so that she wouldn’t be bored today.

What she doesn’t know/understand/realize is that I am what the government calls underemployed. It is a euphemism for man who works on projects sometimes but doesn’t have a full time position. To be clear, I have a number of projects that I am currently working on. The scope of need and personal responsibilities varies greatly so there are moments where I don’t have enough to do. I hate those moments.

It has made budgeting a prodigious nightmare. The lack of consistent work is both painful and frustrating. When I have free moments I work on finding new projects or trying to gain interviews for full time work. If you want to work on 100% commission basis there are lots of opportunities out there.They are available in a million different industries, but I am not interested in a commission only position.

I am an experienced professional and the companies that retain my skills benefit from them. Every time I make a sales call for a company they benefit. My time is worth something. If I make a sales call for you than I am providing you with advertising. I am working as an evangelist.I am helping to market the company. You can’t measure my worth solely based upon sales. I expect to share some of the risk with the company.

This is not a popular position to take in companies that try to recruit based upon no caps on income. Many of them will tell you that if you work their program hard you will be successful. Failure isn’t their fault, it is yours. Well I understand and appreciate why they would take that position. I understand that there is a benefit to the company in sending out wave after wave of people to knock on doors. It is not unlike the attitude that they had on D-Day when our forces stormed the beaches.

You knew that a lot of people weren’t going to make it so you expected casualties. But you also knew that many would and that if they did it would most likely balance things out. I get it. I understand it. I appreciate it. But I am not willing to work that way. It would be different if it was my company, but if it is not than I expect to be compensated for my time. There is nothing unreasonable about that.

So when that almost 7 year-old girl stares at me and asks what I do I tell her that I am a blogger. I explain that it means that I am a writer who works with both businesses and people to help promote their products and services. She wants to know if I have to work this hard to do it and I nod my head yes. I work that hard because I want to provide for her and her brother. I work that hard because the effort will lead to good things.

She looks at me again, with a Cheshire cat grin and sparkly eyes says, “I am going to tell my friends that my daddy works as a booger.” And that my friends gives you a little inkling of the girl who stole my heart.

What Groucho Marx Taught Me About Community

My computer ate what could have been the greatest guest post ever written for Spin Sucks. It was the sort of post that was better than Muellerific. It is no exaggeration to say that when it was lost, the angels wept and for a brief moment Lucifer lay down his pitchfork and bowed his head.

I know, some of you think that I am engaged in a bit of hyperbole. You wonder how I could say that it was the blogging equivalent of stealing fire from the gods and I shrug my shoulders. Instead of providing you with The Fast Times At Ridgemont High Guide To Time Management that I was planing to do, I’ll have to share something slightly different with you.

If you want to read the rest you’ll need to head over to my guest post at Spin Sucks. Stop dawdling, click on the link and go!

 

Social Media Madness

Dear Brand XYZ,

It is your old friend Jack here to share some common sense advice with you. With few exceptions most of you would never consider using a 20 year-old intern as your company spokesperson.  Don’t give me stories about how some 20 year-olds are brilliant, eloquent and bestowed with exceptional common sense because we are not talking about them.

We are talking about most 20 year-olds who have limited life and business experience. We are talking about people who probably aren’t seasoned enough to deal with some of the really hard questions and situations that businesses often have to face. Yet you the fine executives at Brand XYZ who won’t allow these younger people to serve as the “public” mouthpiece shoot yourself in the foot by placing them in charge of social media.

As ridiculous as it might seem, some of you haven’t figured out that Facebook, YouTube, Blogs and Twitter are all public. You haven’t figured out that you just gave the kid a microphone and license to use it. You haven’t figured out that they might have a different definition of what is appropriate and proper than you.

If you are smart you’ll make the appropriate changes very quickly or you might find yourself as the newest case study in what not to do. If you are really lucky you won’t have enraged a social media expert who is well connected and ready to unleash a 24 hour campaign of social media terror upon your company. Remember, it may not be right or fair but once the barn door is open it is really hard to get the horses back inside.

The best thing you can do is be proactive. Take steps to make sure that your social media plan is being handled by someone who has the experience and savvy to prevent you from dealing with a crisis PR situation.  Doing nothing makes as much sense as trying  to build a parachute after you have jumped out of the plane.

Memorial Day- Thank You To Our Service People

The children and I had a long talk about both Veteran’s and Memorial Day and why we observe them. I want them to understand that there is a point and purpose to having  a military. I want them to recognize that when we say that Freedom isn’t Free it is not some foolish statement that people just say. I want them to understand the difference between patriotism and flag waving.  I want them to recognize that even if we don’t agree with the government we respect those who give back for us.

****

His name was Mark. He was a 36 year-old army medic who was waiting to head off to Afghanistan. I remember talking to him about it and asking if he was eligible to a longer stay stateside. He had already done two tours in Iraq and it was clear to me that his time over there had hurt him. It wasn’t the physical pain that I worried about. He had been injured in Baghdad but not so severely that he couldn’t play basketball with us.

I suppose that you could call us gym friends. We didn’t hang out together outside of the gym, but inside it wasn’t unusual to find us together. We liked to play on the same team. Even though he was far more talented than I was our skills complemented each other. In a half court game all we needed was one other solid role player and we were tough to beat.

It was sort of a funny match to me because before he became a solider I wanted to smack him silly. He was younger than I was and obnoxious in a way that just set me off. But the service changed him or maybe it is better to say that whatever he saw/experienced changed him. I can’t really tell you what that was because I only know small pieces of it.

What I do know is that prior to 9/11 he was a software engineer who was single and earning a lot of cash. But after the towers fell he felt an obligation to give something back and he chose the military. Off he went to boot camp and to wherever it was Uncle Sam sent him afterwards.  Must have been gone for quite a while because I don’t think that I saw him again until after his first tour of Iraq.

It feels a little foolish describing it like some sort of concert tour because presumably a tour is fun while war is not.

The guy who came back from that first tour was very different than the one I knew before that. He would tell me that he didn’t know what to do with himself and that he couldn’t sleep. I told him that I would listen to whatever stories he felt comfortable sharing and suggested that he find someone to speak with who understood what he had been through. I have seen and experienced some very nasty things but combat isn’t one of them.

At the end of May 2009 I left the gym. Mark hadn’t left for Afghanistan yet. I told him that I was cancelling my membership and asked if I could buy him a beer. Said that we should exchange email addresses and that when he had a moment he could drop me a line and tell me if he had kicked Osama’s ass for me yet.

He never showed up at the bar so I didn’t buy him that beer I wanted to. I didn’t have a cellphone number for him or an email address- nor did I know anyone who did.  The upshot of it all is that I don’t know what happened to Mark. But I hope that he kept his head down and his ass out of the line of fire.

****

I am grateful and appreciative to all of our soldiers past and present. Medical advances are saving a lot of them who in wars past wouldn’t have come home. But I wonder and worry about them. We might be doing a better job of saving their lives but what happens to their minds. It can’t be good. I just hope that Uncle Sam does a better job of providing them with resources that can give those who need help the assistance that they require.

On a related note I have been thinking about how Israel celebrates their memorial day, Yom Hazikaron. There are a number of different events but the one I want to highlight is the siren that goes off all over the country so that people can observe a national moment of silence. Take a look at the videos below and you’ll see traffic come to a halt and people standing still.

It is a nice gesture to see everyone stop and recognize the sacrifices that were made. Thank you again to all those who serve, we appreciate it.

The Benefits of Blogging

There is truth in this.

There is truth in this.

When people ask me to outline the benefits of blogging for them I am sometimes torn as to what to highlight first. Do I talk about how blogging has led to business relationships with Nintendo, Frigidaire, Mattel and CBS. Would they prefer to hear about how I have taken this platform and used it to generate steady work as a freelance writer. Or maybe I could speak about how I became a social media consultant that you can hire to help build your business build a blog that people want to read.

I suppose that I should admit that there is an agenda behind this post. I hate the way that my current resume reads. I think that it is simply awful and that I have done a piss poor job of marketing myself. It irks me because I have more to offer and far better skills than is shown there. It bothers me because I am a writer and I have some skill with words. I am a marketer who knows something about business and how to build a presentation that doesn’t put people to sleep. But that resume doesn’t do a damn thing to illustrate that.

What I really should do is market it as a cure for insomnia. Not only would that be more productive use of the damn resume it might actually generate some income that way. I can’t help but believe that the folks behind Ambien would pay me  big dollars not to put it out there. Hmm…might be interesting to see what happens. “Read my resume and you’ll softly snore the night away.

For me the benefits of blogging are tied up in the personal rewards that it has brought. Seven years ago I didn’t refer to myself as a writer. I might have told you that I was in sales/marketing or said something about business development. Or maybe I would have said that I was in advertising- all of those things were true but none of them made me smile the way that writing with these words does.

Writing fills places and parts inside me that nothing else does. Words are my clay and I love working with them to build and create things that I cannot do in any other way. When I think of the benefits of blogging I remember June 24, 2006. It was the night that my grandfather died.

I remember being told that the ambulance had left for the hospital and wondering if I could get there in time. I didn’t know whether he was dead or alive in the truck, just that I needed to get there. I grabbed my keys, jumped behind the wheel and made my CRV look like I was in the Indy 500. But I knew when I got there that he was already gone. And I knew that I needed time alone with him.

It didn’t matter to me that he was already gone. I didn’t care that his body had finally failed his spirit, I just needed a few more minutes with my grandfather. I sat there next to him and shared the silence the way that we always had. I thanked him for all that he had given me and told him that I would make sure that the kids didn’t forget him And then when the tears finally came I stood in silence and remembered.

I know these things in such detail because I blogged about it. And my community supported me in ways that I didn’t know I needed or wanted. It wasn’t just the comments or the emails but the knowledge that there were people I had never met in person helping me to stand.

There are other stories about the benefits of blogging. There is far more that I could tell and should be told. I cannot overstate the positive impact of blogging upon my personal and professional life. The benefits of blogging are plentiful and I am grateful to have experienced so many of them.