Archives for April 2012

Drowning In Sorrow But Powered By Intuition

Janss_Steps,_UCLA

Janss_Steps,_UCLA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t ask me to tell you what that headline means because I don’t know if I understand it. What I know for certain is limited and what I hope for hasn’t yet arrived so I can’t speak to that yet either.

What I can tell you is that twelve months ago I wasn’t in the place I am in now. I don’t really know if it was better than this one but sometimes hindsight colors our vision and consequently that is what I see.

Better. It was better, but I could be wrong about that.It is possible that my frustration with the lack of progress in some areas is coloring my view and turning bright colors into dull shades of gray. There is no doubt that life is not what I want it to be but there is also no doubt that I am doing all that I can to make things change.

The Grass Is Always Greener

My son plays for the school soccer team. We had an away game today against another private school. It is a beautiful campus that sits upon a hill, or should I say multiple hills. It is really more of a compound. You’ll think I am name dropping because I am, but it is where the Beckhams send some of their children and it is where lots of other famous people send their kids.

I don’t think that I would send my children there. I know parents who do and it is supposed to be a fabulous education but I don’t think it is for us. We don’t rent out studios and aquariums for birthday parties nor do we have drivers take our children to school, but that is neither here nor there.

Last week I watched my son play his best game of soccer ever. His coach named him player of the game and I couldn’t have been prouder. Today I wanted to see how he would follow up on his success. I wanted to see if he would play hard and he most certainly did.

I looked across the field at the parents of the other side and spotted a retired NBA player. He went to UCLA for college and when I was a boy I saw him play there. I thought he was huge. He still is. The difference in height isn’t quite  two feet any more, but he still is around a foot taller than I am.

His son wasn’t hard to pick out. He was the tall kid with the mop of hair. He isn’t a foot taller than my son, but he has six inches on him. I watched them compete against each other and thought about how different their lives are in some ways and how similar they must be in others. At least I think they are similar. His father was there watching him play as was I. His father sent him to private school to get a better education, as did I.

His dad is a famous NBA player and my son has a father who is a famous daddy blogger, or maybe not.

Drowning In Sorrow But Powered By Intuition

I am not really drowning in sorrow. While I am sometimes sad that is not my defining characteristic. I think I laugh more than I feel sad but frustration is a consistent, if unwelcome companion.

Powered by intuition refers to my doing many things based on my gut. Some of them aren’t necessarily things my head says to do, but I have felt the need to try a different way, to take a different path. The old way hasn’t been working so well so might as well try something different.

So I am building my newsletter list and asking people to sign up. You can find the form to subscribe on my Facebook Fan page or at the bottom left of this page. I am working on writing my ebooks and doing all that I can to create opportunity.

The story that I am working on continues to grow and develop. I keep hearing good things about it so I guess it is fair to say that many people like it. And I just joined two more tribes on Triberr. In theory that pushes my reach to more than a million people on Twitter.

If it works out the way I want it to it will be because I created opportunity and changed where I was going. Right now I am going to bed. It is almost 1 am and I stayed up to write one more post so that I could participate in Just Write.

There Is a *Big* Difference Between What You Need & What You Want

It is not an exaggeration to say that we come from different worlds. He is a single man from the Congo and I am a father from Los Angeles. We are standing next to each other watching children swim and just talking about life.

He has a fantastic accent that is melodious and full of life. He tells me that he loves the spirit of the children here and I smile. He is talking about all of the kids at the party but he is pointing to my daughter.

We’re almost 9,000 miles from his home. The equator runs through the village he grew up in. You can wear a t-shirt and shorts year round.  I am not 9,000 miles from home. We’re miles away from the home I grew up in. I can walk down the main streets and provide you with forty years of background.

He speaks seven languages. I am humbled by that. I grew up in a house where language was important. I am a Peace Corps baby. My folks met in Ecuador. When we were kids if my parents wanted to have a private conversation they spoke Spanish. We all picked up on it. I learned how to read/write speak Hebrew, but the truth is that my Hebrew has gotten pretty rough.

He speaks seven languages, but I can curse in 12. That counts for something but I am not sure what.

****

The boy who used to be a baby but is becoming a giant is seated just behind me. We are talking about school and how you figure out what your career is going to be. I look in the rear view mirror and I see him staring intently out the window. There is a Ferarri and a Lamborghini next to us. I have seen these cars many times before. It really isn’t unusual to see them around L.A., but they still catch my eye.

“Dad, how did you figure out what you wanted to do?”

“I am not doing what I want to do. I am doing what I have to do to get there.”

“That is not fair. You are too old to do that.”

“I am not old and life is not fair. It never was and it never will be. Stop waiting for fair because it will never come. If you want something you figure out how to make it happen and then you go get it.”

He nods his head at me and I feel my jaw clench shut. I believe every word I say but sometimes it irks me to see so many around me get so much so easily. There are families at the school who come from money. Someone worked for that but the second or third generation did not. These other parents who I stand with at the soccer games and birthday parties complain about how hard they work and I laugh.

They talk about being irritated by the service or lack thereof at restaurants and resorts I can’t afford and I laugh. When things are just handed to you it is easy to lack gratitude. It is easy not to appreciate them the way you should.

“The first thing you need to do is to figure out what you need versus what you want.”

There is a moment of silence and then he responds.

“Dad, how do you know the difference? Do you know what it is for you?”

“Yes, I know the difference. I know what it is because I have spent a lot of time thinking about it and I have a lot of life experience you don’t have.”

“How do you get life experience?”

“You live.”

****

Twenty years ago my city burned. I have vivid memories of the L.A. Riots. I have stories. I can tell you about the Northridge earthquake and about the time I was evacuated from a forest fire. I have lots of stories to tell and to share.

My children don’t know them all yet. Some may never be shared. Some won’t be because they just won’t. Kids don’t need to know about all of the crazy things I did in college or earlier.

“Dad, does it ever bother you that Johnny’s dad has a bigger house and a nicer car?”

“Sometimes, but most of the time I don’t care or think about it. Possessions don’t make you happy. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Best to focus on yourself. Be a good friend. Be a good brother and be a good son. Figure out what you need and I’ll help you figure out how to get it.”

I believe everything I have said, but now is a harder time. Now is a darker and rougher time. It isn’t as easy to just ignore some things.

****

The children are laughing and chasing each other around the backyard. We are still talking about life.

“Los Angeles must be a little bit different from the Congo.”

He laughs hard.

“I have been in the US for six years now. I spent the first three on the East Coast. It is much too cold there for me. The world is small and the same but different everywhere. I met white people in South Africa who only spoke Afrikanns. That surprised me. ”

He shares a few more stories, mentions Somalia and shudders.

We are from different worlds but today those places intersect.

This is part of Yeah Write.

Learn By Doing- Help Me Edition

KnowledgeWhen the words are flowing fast and furious from my fingertips I never stop to think about whether people will read my words or if they will like them. I just write.

Out on the basketball court when I let the game come to me and I don’t think about what I am doing I make more baskets, grab more rebounds, make more assists and play better defense.

I like looking at those two areas because I see them as being representative of life. They cover success in both the mental and physical arenas and that is what I am looking for.

So I ask myself several questions:

  1. What am I doing right?
  2. How do I apply that to my entire life?
  3. What am I doing wrong?
  4. How do I avoid making those mistakes over and over again.

And that is how we reach the:

Learn By Doing- Help Me Edition

The premise of the learn by doing-help me edition is very simple. The best way to learn how to do something is to get off your butt and do it. Turn theory into practice and find out what is involved in whatever it is you want to do by doing it.

Now obviously this doesn’t always translate well. I am not suggesting that we can learn how to become brain surgeons by cutting open the skulls of random strangers or that you should learn how to fly a plane by knocking out the pilot on your next transAtlantic flight.

But we are not talking about extreme examples. Our focus here is upon blogging and I can tell you that the best lessons I have learned have come from my willingness to step outside of my comfort zone and try things.

I can provide a number of concrete examples:

  • When I didn’t like the way this joint looked I made changes that were more significant than just purchasing a new theme. I messed around with HTML and CSS. I tinkered with this and that and if I broke something I figured out how to fix it.
  • Promotion- I started reaching out to my community and asked you to become fans of my Facebook page and or follow me on various social media platforms.

There are lots of other examples but I want to take a moment highlight the newest leap of faith, my newsletter. That was a bigger step for me than you might realize. I almost didn’t do it because I wasn’t really sure that it made sense. I wasn’t sure that I could fill it or that people would want to subscribe.

But I thought about it and I came up with a few things. It might sound silly to you but sometimes am I surprised that anyone reads my words. Sometimes I am surprised that I am not being used as a cure for insomnia.

When I thought about my desire to live my dreams and to write books a newsletter made sense to me. It made sense to use it to help build the community and to communicate more intimately with those who wish to join me on my journey.

So I took a leap of faith and opened my account with AWeber. Took a leap of faith and decided that I would share my journey with you and talk about my growing pains. I don’t want to embarrass myself, but I might make a few mistakes here. I might screw a few things up, but I believe in learning by doing.

Help Me

This is where you come in. I have ideas and  a rough plan for what I want to do with the newsletter but I want to hear from you. What do you want to see in it? Many of you use Feedburner’s email subscription service to read these posts so I expect that I will probably turn that off and ask you to subscribe via AWeber.

But that isn’t going to be it is only purpose. Like I said I have plans, but I want to know what you would like to hear/see in it. You are always welcome to email me directly but it would be great if we started a discussion in the comments too.

What do you think?

A Blogger’s Guide To Writing a Five Minute Post

gear

You might be upset when you find out that I wrote this post in more than five minutes and less than 15. You might say that I am not meeting my obligation to deliver what I promised and I’ll say so what.

That is not because I don’t care what you have to say but because I want to know if you are missing the trees for the forest. My guess is that many of us are so wrapped up in our daily lives we lose sight of what is truly important. That is not a lead in to a rant or lecture about spending more time with family or focusing on what is most important.

Rather it is a reminder that there is no single path to success in blogging. If there is any one true rule to follow it is that you find success when you connect with readers and or provide solutions to their problems. That is it. Not complicated at all, at least in theory it isn’t.

What I Find Most Challenging

The two things that I wrestle with most are time and technical expertise.

I can compose and publish content faster than most people. Some of that is due to natural ability and some of that is based upon practice. Every post has a beginning, middle and end. All I do is fill in the gaps.

But that doesn’t relieve me of the challenge of trying to find artwork to go with these posts. I like to have more pictures in these things than I do. Sometimes it is a bit austere for my taste. Time constraints make it harder for me to visit and comment on as many blogs as I would like. They also make it harder to make some of the changes here that I want.

That ties into my second challenge, technical expertise. I am tech saavy and I know how to do a lot of things. Most of what I know is from tinkering around here and or watching/reading tutorials. But sometimes that leaves this joint looking a bit more worn than I want it to. Sometimes I wind up with some issues that I can’t figure out how to solve and that irritates me.

For example, I need to fix the archives page. There is way too much going on there and I want to clean it up. I am guessing that it is a relatively simple fix, but I haven’t figured it out. I bet that I just overlooked it and that when it is solved I’ll smack myself in the forehead, but that isn’t how I like to operate.

The pages don’t load as quickly as I want them to and there are other little details that I notice all the time. I have been able to make some improvements but not as many as I want to. Much of that is because I don’t have the time to read and tweak the way I want to.

Did I mention that I have broken my blog more time than I can count. Yep, I have caused it to melt down and then scrambled to fix it.

The Difference Between Great And Good Enough

In a perfect world I would have a crack team of  IT professionals working on the blog. They would take care of all of these details and I would be able to focus on my core strengths. In a perfect world you would read about my mistakes but you wouldn’t see them because I would have time to work out the kinks in advance.

That perfect world doesn’t exist but I am working on it.

“Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi

I am chasing excellence. I decided to create a newsletter for many reasons not the least of which is that chase. I am figuring it out as I go. There aren’t many subscribers yet and I haven’t sent out my first edition, but I am excited about it.

Excited and nervous. AWeber is supposed to make this easy for me and thus far it seems to be, but what if I screw up. What if I send out something ridiculous. Am I upholding my effort to chase perfection and catch excellence?

My answer is yes. My answer is that I am learning how to fly on the run and I am good with that. My answer is that there is value in learning by doing. My answer is that I fueling my fire and feeding my passion. I think that is contagious and that it is going to help me.

So I am going to keep running after perfection and I am going to keep testing out new ideas. How about you? What are you doing out here in the wild and woolly blogosphere? Are you having fun or is this just work.

BTW, it took me almost 13 minutes to write this. The time it took to write this doesn’t really matter to anyone but me. The real question is whether you enjoyed it. Ok, I am out of here, my bed is calling my name. See you in the A.M.

She Had Sharp Teeth & Hands Like Sandpaper

Sleeping

Someone told me that my headlines are killing my efforts to grow this blog. They said that they are too goofy or too boring. They told me that I wasn’t maximizing my SEO efforts and that I post too frequently.

I nodded my head and then they provided a list of 18 other things that they hate about my blog. I nodded my head again and said that I wasn’t interested in listening to any more of their negativity and that if they didn’t shut up I would knock out every one of their teeth except one and that god willing they should get a toothache in that tooth.

Well they just ignored my words and went about their business. I can’t say that I was surprised about their reaction because let’s face it, that guy in the mirror is my best friend and my worst enemy.

He is the guy who looked at the Blog Metrics stats and discovered that there are 3,819,293 words in this blog. Incidentally credit for that particular plugin goes to Robert Dempsey. He has a very solid marketing blog that I have learned a lot from.

Headlines and Readers

This joint has been growing by leaps and bounds lately so if you are among the new crew you might not be aware that I have a love/hate relationship with headlines. Great headlines are overrated.  There is no doubt that there are a lot of distractions out there and that it is easy to be lost and or ignored but I am not a fan of using the “look at the shiny object” principle because you still need to find a way to keep your readers from pointing and clicking their way to the next place as fast as they got to yours.

Since I know at least seven of you will write me about the headline I will gladly assure you that there isn’t just one story tied into it, but three. However I am not going to write about those now because I am wearing my dad blogging hat and dad bloggers never write about untoward stuff. Uh oh, is it just me or did I try to jam a few keywords into this post so that I would rank higher.

Yep, I did. Got to tell you that years ago I blogged about naked pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and for a while I ranked pretty high on those searches. Never did get any naked pictures of them or Kim Kardashian but the traffic still roles in.

Some people might say that it is the wrong kind of traffic but I don’t necessarily agree. Ordinary people search for those things. Executives search for those things and you never know who might end up here and decide that even though I don’t have what they initially were looking for I do have something of value to them.

The Power Of Words

That was going to be my headline. I was going to tell you about my son. He plays on the school soccer team and in their most recent game his coach said that he was the player of the game. It was well deserved and long overdue.

I don’t say that as anything other than a biased father who is proud of his son. But the best part was the look on his face. I have been telling him for years now that if he plays hard good things will happen and that people will notice.

And then it happened. He had a great game and his coach made his announcement in front of the team. It was great and it provided another teaching moment. We talked about the power of words and gratitude.

An Email Newsletter- The Power of Words

Earlier today I stumbled across an old post called The Power of No and decided there wasn’t any reason to wait any longer to start the newsletter I have been talking about. I signed up for AWeber and set things up.

Technically I set up the $1 trial but what I really did is follow through on a promise I made to myself. I took action and decided that I would teach myself how to do everything that is required. Granted there are tutorials and resources that I can use, but those don’t take care of anxiety/nerves.

I don’t want to embarrass myself. I don’t want to look like a fool, but I would rather try and fail than fail to try.

Sure, that sounds like some kind of silly new age saying but I see truth in it. I am actively working on the ebooks I said I want to write. I am actively working on finishing my story so that I can edit,polish and publish it.

Good things are happening because I am actively working to make them happen and because I have support from you and others. I am grateful for it. Don’t think that I haven’t noticed.

Just write. Tell your reflection to STFU and keep pushing. Can’t say what will happen but if you don’t try nothing will.  So walk with me and let’s find out and if you are so inclined scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for the newsletter.

P.S. I forgot to add that sandpaper hands had a grip that put me to shame and gorillas cry when I shake their hand.

Good night for now.