Mia Sherwood Landau

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One of the main hazards of knowing too much (yes, there are many hazards) is exactly what causes many entrepreneurs and authors to accidentally lose their audiences, even their customers who are genuinely interested in their business or their book. 

That hazard was described perfectly by Jeanine Blackwell in an email I received today:

"The challenge is that the more expertise you have, the more likely it is that you know the symptom isn't the real problem. And, it becomes really easy to forget to speak to symptoms and instead go on a mission to educate people about the 'real problem."

My problems are nobody else's business, and discovering where and how they begin, so I can locate the taproot and yank it out for good is also nobody else's business but mine. Unless I ask someone for help, I don't want anyone to dig or pry or yank with me. I certainly don't want them to dig or pry without my permission.

Making sense? I know this is making sense to other gardeners anyway!

So, another obvious hazard of knowing too much is speaking above your audience and coming across as condescending, which is never a good idea.

But Jeanine's point is well-taken, too. Moving too quickly past my headache and giving me cogent advice about my diet or my home lighting is not going to work unless and until I invite you into my world to give me advice.

Sometimes we don't even know when we're doing it, meaning going past the immediate problem and choosing to focus on the underlying cause instead.  Good thing to remember, isn't it?

 

How much does chance figure in to our success? Could anyone ever know for sure?

We love to plan and be in charge and to take credit for good outcomes, don't we?

This quote from Josh Bernoff's post about how we choose our future makes me think about how much chance affects everything. 

(Personally, I believe the mighty hand of God is in charge, but you can read this quote with or without a spiritual perspective.)

"No book on business success tells you what a big role chance has in determining your future. We tell each other stories about the smart choices we make, but the stories are like constellations in the sky, connecting dots that have no real connections.

"Here’s what I can tell you: Acquire knowledge. Express confidence. Remain curious. Try things you haven’t done before. Opportunity, easy to see in retrospect, is impossible to recognize clearly when it’s happening. But if you follow these principles, you might be able to look back and brag about what great choices you made."

Bernhoff's readers left some good comments, and I especially liked this one from Larry Kunz:

"Acquire knowledge. Express confidence. Remain curious. Try things you haven’t done before.” Yes, yes, yes, and yes. And one more: always be yourself."

Wonderful thoughts on personal branding, aren't they?

In the business of book writing and publishing, ghostwriters are everywhere. We are not hiding in broom closets, jumping out on occasion to shout "BOO!"

But to anyone who doesn't write books, and even to the majority of people who read books hiring a ghostwriter seems a bit like cheating. How could someone hire somebody else to write a book and then call it their own?

We all hire others other people to do things for us, from dental hygenists to oil change mechanics, but for some reason hiring someone to write our book may be questionable. Is it the right thing to do?

I love the mystique of being a ghostwriter. I love it when people ask what I do and I say, "I'm a ghostwriter."  The conversation that follows is much easier and more fun than when I reply, "I'm a coach, " or "I'm a personal branding expert." Those conversations seem to fizzle.

But a ghostwriter, now that's something to talk about!

Last year a YouTuber named Zoella found out there are plenty of people who think having a ghostwriter makes you a fake author. She took plenty of heat when her fans discovered she didn't writer her book called, "Girl Online."

What do you think about that reaction? Would you call her a fake?

Would you call my clients fake authors because they hire me to write their books?  Fess up, now...

It's the peak of summer heat here in north Texas, so that means pruning back my herbs to preserve their root strength and encourage new growth.

Generally, pruning builds up the plants rather than destroying them.

I'm doing the same thing with my clientele in the heat of these summer months, too.  Pruning and weeding and priming myself for new growth, as well as new opportunities to grow my income.

Recognizing the peak of the season and capturing the herbal freshness, the scent and flavor of my lemon verbena, chocolate mint, spearmint, and parsley is a learned skill. It's something I couldn't know without experiencing the brutal heat of July and August in Texas for a few years, or without watching my chosen plants go through the year at close range.

Working with clients is cyclical, too. It has its growth phases and its peak time for pruning, unique to each client.

Even though I've been an avid and a commercial grower/gardener for many years, seeing my precious clientele as I see my precious plants has taken me much longer than necessary.

I don't like to let people go. I don't like to say goodbye. I got some courage from James Clear's post when he wrote, "... things will work for a little while and then we will get used to them." 

Pruning is for my own best growth as well as for my clients' own growth, too.

Do you garden? Can you relate anyway?

Some people are natural dreamers. We can see into situations and how they could be different, or create entirely fictitious situations from the deep wells of creativity we embody.

I took me many years to understand that everybody doesn't have conscious contact with their own deep wells of creativity, or live confidently with their dreams as I do.

Seth Godin warmed my heart in his recent post about things we assume are in opposition to each other. First, he made me think hard when I read, "The opposite of yes is maybe."

Whoa, that's a powerful thought, isn't it? Maybe is non-committal. Maybe is stalling, deferring, failing to take a stand.

Then came the most heart-warming idea, "Dreams are not the opposite of reality. Dreams inform reality." Now THAT'S a deep keeper, isn't it?  It should be a poster - DREAMS INFORM REALITY.   Or maybe it should be engraved on my headstone someday, hopefully a long, long time from now.

Personal branding is the intersection of dreams becoming reality, in my opinion and in my practice. Until Seth's post, I hadn't thought about it this way. Thanks, Seth!

When I read author Hope Clark's newsletter  recently, one sentence jumped out and grabbed me: "As a reader, I want to delve into what drove your soul into the words of your story."

It grabbed me because it resonated with my own experience as a reader. But I'm not necessarily CONSCIOUS of what I want from an author. I know I want to read something substantial that has meaning for me. That's number one in priority.

But I also want to know WHY an author bothered to write what I'm reading.  And this goes for fiction, non-fiction, articles and blog posts. I am sensitive to the WHY lurking in between the lines, if not stated plainly.

So, I have to remember that other people are looking for a WHY when they read my writing, too.  Especially when I'm writing to build my personal branding. My WHY has to reach out and grab them as Hope Clark's sentence grabbed me today.  I just KNEW she wrote that sentence JUST FOR ME.

That's not true intellectually, but it's certainly true emotionally. It's the emotional component in our writing that comprises the reaching-out-and-grabbing mechanism. But it's subtle. It's not like advertising that seems like it's yelling at us.

It's like a song, luring us; it's the soul of the story we are telling. 

Getting along with other people in the workplace, cooperating and communicating successfully, is a constant challenge. It doesn't seem to get any easier, no matter how many books are written and workshops are given.

It doesn't seem to matter who buys the books and pays for the workshops. People are still very predictable - we want to be heard and appreciated, and we want to do things our own way.

It's true in marriages and it's true in boardrooms and courtrooms, too.

Seth Godin's books chronicle his creative work life, navigating amongst people wanting to be heard and appreciated, and wanting to do things their own way.  People who hire us, people who do what we do and people we hire to help us all want these same things.

I am often struck by the fact that creativity and intelligence is not welcomed, it's discouraged. Seth Godin has weathered this dichotomy and prospered. It's not easy to prosper when other people feel threatened and want their own ideas to prevail, no matter what the consequences.

Here's the question Seth asks, and we should all consider, working inside an organization or working freelance for a client:

"Do you have the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages about your project to the people you work with?

Honestly, I have assumed this privilege many times and it was a mistake. Now I ask. I say, "Would you like to hear about....?"

It's just not safe to make the assumption that people who are paying you actually want to hear your ideas.

Branding ourselves as trustworthy and as a viable source of trusted ideas and information is a process that takes time, in a marriage or on a job.

It's internal marketing and it just takes time.

Over 30?  Me, too. 

Millennials are the generation of people born in the years between the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

Baby Boomers and GenXers need to sit up and take notice of these words by Erica Trautman, posted on EMarketing and Commerce:

"Millennials are many things. They're digital natives, video gamers, equal parts skeptic and idealist, and they can smell inauthenticity from a mile away."

In other words, Millennials are pretty tough customers compared to previous generations ingesting TV commercials as a steady diet.

Millennials can skip over and eliminate commercials, if they watch TV at all.

Neither of my two daughters or any of my five of my grandchildren watch TV.  They watch NetFlix and YouTube instead. Within seconds they can click away from any ad appearing on their screens - their TV sets connected to an XBox, their laptops, their smart phones and their tablets.

Digital programming gives them power, and they expect to have the power to click onto and click away from words, photos, audios and videos as desired.

Writing for Millennials is a new frontier in brevity, wit and style. It must be laser-focused on their momentary interest, and it must satisfy.

Writing copy for personal branding is what I do, and I'd be happy to help you craft words to satisfy Millennials in your target market. Call me and we'll get your words started now. 903-328-9670

I do it and I knew it, but sometimes I don't really know what I'm doing....

This is about blogging, and why I do it.  Jeffrey Slater posted on Mark Shaefer's blog today, and said it perfectly:

"Blogging helps me think through marketing issues and gives me a chance to provide marketing coaching to the small business community that follows my work. I am always looking for new ways to expand my reach."

Does Slater's explanation make sense to you, too?

The real value of blogging in my life, personally and professionally, is helping me think and helping me keep a journal of my thoughts. The process and the platform provide tremendous value to me.

If it provides value to others, too, that's great. I sincerely hope my thoughts and words work for others, too. But the first and most important person to whom my blogging provides value is me.

Blogging helps me think through and build my personal branding with words on the web.

And that's how I encourage my clients to build value on their sites, too.

Alan Weiss is a business consultant and he writes, blogs and speaks his own brand of wisdom.

He posted this writing advice today, in his characteristic "just do it" manner:

"You do not have writer’s block. You’re suffering from procrastination and groundless fear. Sit at a keyboard and type a few letters that form a word, then a few words that form a sentence, then a few sentences that form a paragraph. See? You’re writing."

Alan is right.  Just starting is the trick to writing anything.

It's the trick to dieting and to saving money, too.

Basically, everything we need to do that's healthy and wise is all about just starting to do it. 

Writing is THE KEY to personal branding, and now that the Mobile Web is upon us, concise writing is more important than ever.

We have to think and write in short bursts of brilliance to get our point across and to attract business.

Today the concept of "mindfulness" finally sunk in... it's the opposite of mindlessness.

As a diner, I know the difference between shoving food in my mouth when I'm distracted and peacefully savoring a meal.

As a writer, I know the difference between mindfully and mindlessly putting words together on the page. Yes, it can work both ways.

Mindfulness is not just for meditation practice. It's for our best work in the world.

Personal branding created with intentional, mindful attention and care is the opposite of mindless advertising that turns people off.

My favorite magazine is Taproot. No advertising, but plenty of evocative photos, inspiring articles and poignant poetry about real life.

I thought about personal branding on the web as I read these words by Meredith Winn, knowing full well that's probably not what she meant when she wrote them:

"Some things fall into your lap. Paths cross.

People meet. Careers bloom...

This is life. Our stories are as individual as each member of the family.

They are not perfect, nor are we."

Personal branding is only partly intentional. Much of it is a serendipitous surprise we create by how we think and share.

And it is never, ever perfect. Not ever.

But it can be perfectly engaging to the right people, our people. The ones who cannot necessarily explain why they want to follow us and read whatever we post.  It might just be a feeling more than a conscious thought.

Taproot magazine is a great example of branding that's palpable and memorable, albeit very intentional. May we all do it as well as they do!

 

Sometimes I work with clients who know they need marketing, but they DON'T LIKE IT. 

Marketing activities just don't appeal to them at all, yet they know they need to get busy marketing themselves.

Bernadette Jiwa has had a lot more ambivalent clients in her practice than I have, without a doubt. Yet she's found the most thoroughly charming way of looking at marketing, and talking about marketing stories that engender confidence and success.

She posted, "The best marketing is neither contrived nor created. It is not broadcast or hung on giant billboards for all to see. The best marketing is embedded, sensed and experienced in a dozen moments of truth, that make it resonate viscerally with the person it was designed to speak to."

I think Bernadette is talking about how it feels inside when we sense genuine authenticity in a person or a company. We might not be able to explain it, how we feel or why, but we are 100% sure about it for ourselves.

And we are instantly turned-on or turned-off, within seconds. We might not realize we're judging anyone, but essentially that's what we're doing.

Marketing is about the invisible process that goes on inside of each person, not the visible advertising they see, that's clverly designed to influence them. 

The truth is, most marketing backfires. It drives most away from instead of toward the subject of the ad. But that means the product of service is simply not for us. It's for somebody else.

Knowing how to attract "our" people is, first of all, knowing about the inner process and, second of all, knowing how to provide it with our personal branding.

How often to call a friend, email a customer, and contact a prospect... These are situations that don't have simple schedules, until we learn them over time. People show us more than they tell us what they want from us. Which, we have to face the harsh reality, may be nothing. Some people want nothing from us.

But we don't know who wants what we have to offer and who wants us to go away until we ask. We just cannot intuit or guess and expect to be on target.

Bernadette Jiwa calls it, "wanted and welcomed."  How I love that! She said it succinctly in her post today, "A lifetime of interruption has conditioned us to be wary—always on our guard for the moment when someone might try to steal our attention, or worse still our time."

Whew! Sales and marketing have always required persistence and near-psychic abilities to achieve success but now it's even more difficult. We all have to fight digital interruptions as well as tangible. Everyday. We are poised and ready to defend our time, money and sanity.

It's exhausting.

Personal branding is one way to distinguish ourselves as trustworthy to the people who actually want what we have to offer. And it takes time. We have to show up in the right way over time. That's when our people will let down their guard and willingly let us in. That's when we are no longer seen as a potential thief.

Whew....

Taking responsibility for the number and the types of clients we attract is a two-edged sword.

We can blame ourselves and we can blame the economy, the mentality of people "out there" or anything/anybody if we don't have enough clients or the right clients.

Or, on the sharper edge of the blade, we can decide that taking or shifting the blame is not productive. In fact, it is not productive at all, except to get us to remember and use the sharp edge of the blade. The one that can serve us and protect us, if we'll let it.

But we're afraid we might hurt someone with that sword. It might be our words or our actions. Or both. We fear hurting others to the point where we hurt ourselves by default.

Seth Godin inspired my thinking today when he posted, "You attract the customers that respond to the way you act. You end up with what you tolerate. You build what your audience demands."

Personal branding is located on the sharp edge of the sword, for sure. It can definitely cut both ways, and we're often afraid of that. Most of us are afraid to some extent, whether we know it or not.

But, the good news is that the sharp side of the sword actually cuts away what we don't want or need, if we will let it. If we use the sword with dignity, grace, compassion, care and wisdom. Doing so brings us all the ideal clients we need and want.

I have learned not to buy food I tend to overeat.  Now I may do the same with internet surfing, meaning I may simply decide not to have the internet in the room where I'm writing.

This bright idea came to me while reading an interview with author Dan Brown.

In the post on Publishing Perspectives, Brown said the following about his choice to write in a room without internet connection from 4 am to noon each work day, "There is an addictive quality about technology, and I very intentionally say no, this is a time to write – it’s a very analogue experience.”

Brown uses the internet for research of course, but he schedules his research time separately, not during the 8 hours he's working as a writer.

Do I have the willpower to situate myself with a laptop but no internet connection for 8 hours per day? Oh boy, that represents a big change of lifestyle, of daily habits.

Would Brown's idea work for you?

Storytelling has been the most natural form of human communication since cavemen entertained each other around nightly roaring fires. 

Although it's nothing new, storytelling is enjoying great popularity these days, with loads of books, articles and blog posts explaining that telling a story is the ideal way to communicate and, in fact, to sell. Especially to baby boomers.

In this vast ocean of writing on the topic of storytelling I found David Weigelt's recent post very refreshing.

"When it comes to marketing to boomers and seniors who have seen and heard it all, and are the least likely to trust traditional advertising, storytelling is still one of our most important tools."

OK, we baby boomers like to tell stories and listen to stories. BUT -we also have very little tolerance for hype. We like to keep it real. And Weigelt also quotes his co-worker to sharpen his point:

"Joe Ford, Immersion Active’s VP of Digital Marketing Practices, once responded to a question about what was really at the heart of our success when it comes to engaging boomers and seniors online. His response was simple but profound: humility."

We need to keep in mind that communicating with humility is not only a genuine kindness but a necessary component of successful communication. Especially with baby boomers.

I'm sure you've seen them, those animated clips on web pages and in emails, too.

Do you like them? Personally, I'm not too excited about them... at least not yet.

Maybe it's because I've been taught that Flash animation is death to load time, meaning people often click away from web pages that take too long to load and Flash can slow your site 'way down and cause people to leave.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and load time (how long it takes your site to load for each visitor) are not the fun part of blogging for me, and that goes for most of my clients as well. We suffer from SEO reluctance to some degree.

For example. most of us just want to get in our car and drive to get where we want to go quickly. We don't have a deep desire to know how our engine worksl, which is pretty much the same way we feel about how search engines find us through our blog posts and web copy. It's just not that interesting.

But it's so important. And Barry Feldman knows it. I love his clear, concise explanation called "SEO simplified for short attention spans."

Personal branding WILL involve SEO, whether we do it ourselves or hire an expert to help us. You know, like hiring a good mechanic for the car...

Many years ago I learned this deep question that controls nearly every relationship, "Who decides who decides?"

There is so much to be considered in that phrase, which simply repeats two words twice.

Since I learned it, I've observed that the person or persons who wield power in any situation are not necessarily obvious. They may be hidden in the background or even appear to be entirely out of the power loop. He, she or they may not be present at all!

And since I learned it I've never seen anything as clear as Oren Klaff's whiteboard video presentation on Frame Control.

It blew me away. Watching it over and over, it continues to blow me away.

Basically, Oren Klaff's videos explaining the concepts in his book Pitch Anything define the science behind. "Who decides who decides."  In other words, it's not an accident. It's a science, subject to specific variables of who, what, when, where and how.

As regards personal branding, "who decides" is both 1) whoever is looking at your website and/or listening to you, and 2) you.

Personal branding and frame control can be deliberate. That's Oren Klaff's point, and mine.

We have heard that visitors to our landing pages and websites spend only one to three seconds before they decide to stick around and maybe (if we're fortunate) scroll down the page. Or if we're even more fortunate, click around our site to other pages.

It's easy to ignore this reality and get caught up in flashy, exciting web presentations.  It's like going shopping for a cool outfit, finding one and ordering it without giving due consideration to whether or not it will actually look good on us.

Good clothing fit just not always top-of-mind, is it?  Well, neither is page load speed.  It's geeky and boring and we just want to see our lovely website up and running.

The harsh reality is that visitors will click away if our pages take too long to load, especially on their tablets and phones. That's a fact. We have to deliver our personal branding in 1 - 3 seconds or they'll be gone.

Robin Geuens posted great suggestions for landing page design on the Firepole Marketing blog, and I followed up on his advice for my website.

These are his main points and my new benchmarks for landing page and website loading speed success:

  • Make your site load as fast as possible.
  • Use color to highlight the right things.
  • Use call to actions that complete the sentence “I want to ______”.
  • Watch how many links you put on your landing page. Keep them focused on your message.
  • Keep your mobile customers and leads in mind.

It's forgiveness time of year on the Jewish Calendar and Seth Godin posted on Two Elements of An Apology today.

Maybe that's why I am considering how the ability to apologize and the ability to forgive are distinct and memorable qualities that contribute generously to our personal branding. 

We are defined by and remembered for our characteristics, which means our CHARACTER. Our character flaws and our admirable character traits leave a deep impression on others.

Forgiveness is a big subject with spiritual, mental, emotional and physical consequences.

But I'm pointing out that the ability to forgive ourselves and others is actually a basic component of our personal branding as well. 

Interesting thought, isn't it?

At the risk of seeming a bit creepy, I'd like to make sure we all understand that our personal branding survives us.

Meaning our personal branding has a life of its own, and its life lasts longer, sometimes MUCH longer than our physical life in this world. Think Mark Twain, Cleopatra, John Wayne.

So, I decided to call this topic "On Beyond Branding", meaning our legacy that we leave behind when we pass from this world.

I'm assuming you had some immediate thoughts and pictures in your mind when you read the three names I typed earlier - Mark Twain, Cleopatra and John Wayne.

The particular thoughts and pictures in my mind for each of those three departed celebrities are not going to match yours exactly. Everyone is going to have his or her own thoughts and pictures, for sure.

But there's a good chance we will share a similar theme in our thoughts and pictures. We are probably thinking "cowboy" in one way or another for John Wayne, but not for Mark Twain or Cleopatra. Right?

Our personal branding is the theme that remains after we are gone from this world. That's On Beyond Branding. It's our legacy, for better or worse.

Remember, we are branded whether we choose and carefully cultivate our personal branding or not.

Here's a good example of a guy who has left a simple, positive legacy for all to see - Jim F. Straw - who has left words of wisdom in his books and on the web for all to see, and they most definitely serve as On Beyond Branding. Here's a classic JF (Jim) Straw quote:

"I learned that NOTHING is as easy or as fast as it should be. It only gets easier and faster when you know how to really do it – and – learning how to really do it is just a matter of doing it over, and over, and over, until you finally find out how it works. Of course, if you give up after the first (second, third, or fourth) try, you’ll never do it."

Rest in peace, Jim. And thanks for the tangible legacy of wisdom and encouragement in your books and on the web.

Here's a link to Mary Jaksch's blog invitation to anyone willing to post their top three writing tips.

Take a look at it if you'd like to see what average people have to say about the skills and habits involved in writing. 

By "average" I mean that these are not professional writers posting comments on her blog. These are people who are learning to write, and sharing what they've learned so far.

Writing improves as we practice, and wherever we are in the process of practicing and learning and practicing and learning some more, at whatever point in time we are asked, "What are your three best writing tips?" we are right. Whatever we think is right for us, is right for us at that point.

Later, we will surely have different top writing tips. And even later, other tips entirely.

Growing as a writer is intrinsic to our personal branding because it is HOW we express ourselves as much or even more than WHAT we choose to say that brands us.

Now, if you are curious what professional writers share about their craft, try WriterUnboxed.com

It's a completely different place, with wildly different advice that may inspire you in your personal branding writing.

What does world-class consultant/author/trainer/mentor Alan Weiss have that some of us lack?

OK. that question could generate a long list of answers, but the most important one, the most relevant to all of us in our personal branding is this - confidence. Alan Weiss exudes kegs of confidence. Barrels and vats of the stuff.  And he shares it liberally with all who choose to imbibe.

Here's Alan Weiss' terse expression of the need for and way to achieve express writing:

"If you want to write something quickly, stop self-editing. If you want to convey an idea quickly, stop giving background information. If you want to impress someone quickly, provide an idea immediately. Some people think life is a marathon. I think it’s a series of sprints."

Thanks, Alan. We needed that.

So many blog platforms, so little time....  Since 2008 I've been building blogs for myself and others, and none have become a huge commercial success, but many have attracted attention, clients, customers and genuine income.

Big commercial successes generally involve advertising, and my own blogs do not involve advertising other people or services. I am advertising myself, that's it.

And for that unique purpose, my blog is a big success. No other blogs in the world attract attention to only me. Only mine.

I call that success!

Posting on topics that draw attention to you and what you do is the secret key to blogging for your own business.

Jonathan Raymond posted a list of seven questions to consider on his E-myth blog, saying, "Having a blog—whether you post monthly or daily or anything in between—is far and away the cheapest and most effective tool you have as a small business owner in the complicated world of online marketing. Here’s the bottom line: businesses with a blog get 55% more traffic to their website than those that don’t."

Wow, that's a good reason to blog right there, isn't it?

Every topic we choose, every word we write is the raw material of our personal branding. We are what we blog, or we should be.

A Copyblogger post by Samar Owais will surely pierce through the biggest fear most entrepreneurs experience, until they get over it. We have to get over our fear or we will be paralyzed in our personal branding efforts.

What fear? It's the the deep-seated fear that we are going to be discovered.  If we really show ourselves to be who we are, we will be discovered as a fake, a fraud, an impostor.

True?  If you're not having this common experience right now then you'll probably remember it from some point at your past, even if you have to reach 'way back to being a self-conscious, young teenager.

Right?  We can all remember that pain. And some of us are not over it yet.

But we can get over it, and it doesn't have to take very long at all.

What a privilege to hear from clients who have experienced MY FURFY, my own signature personal branding session, and know that they are on their way to complete freedom from the fear of being an impostor.

They know the secret, and you can know it, too. Just get in touch with me FREE and we'll set up a session for you, too.

A thoughtful blog post by Joan Friedlander gave me pause to think about welcoming life transitions as a portal to personal branding.

This quote describes how and why some portals in life open for us all:

"You realize that what you have been doing no longer does it for you. You might have reached every goal you set for yourself, and you are not satisfied. You wonder how you got in this job, or are in this 'situationship.”

So in my own words, that means we are going to be making transitions in life whether or not we consider ourselves to be successful. Perhaps success could best be defined by our ability to make transitions well.

Personal branding begins with knowing who we are and what we do, not whether we define ourselves as successful.

Our life transitions give us the best reasons to re-define ourselves as we determine who we are, or who we are becoming, and what we do now.

Knowing where we are in the process of a life transition is important, and there are three distinct phases, according to Friedlander and her sources - endings (yes, endings come first in the process of transition) and then a somewhat confusing neutral zone followed by new beginnings.

If these phases sound familiar to you, it's likely you are facing or have already faced a life transition, a portal to personal branding. But you might not have chosen to take advantage of your perfect opportunity to re-brand yourself.  That requires a decision to do so.

I love what Friedlander says about decision-making, too:

"Deciding is precipitated when you are no longer able to live with duality. You can’t force the decision. It will happen to you."

In my way of thinking, those same words apply to our personal branding process as well.

We could play a party game that offers a prize for naming as many brands as possible in 30 or 60 seconds.  We'd blurt out Coke... Macintosh... Coors... Dodge... Google... etc, as fast as possible. Got the picture?

But very few of us would be likely to yell, "Mother Teresa... Bill Gates... Hillary Clinton... John Force... etc. Meaning, we would not be thinking of someone's name as a brand. But in fact, those names are definitely brands, whether or not the branding was intentional.

At the time of this posting Hilary Clinton is deeply involved in re-branding herself for a possible presidential election. And John Force is hammering home his legendary drag racing brand as he and his family members compete (sometimes against each other) in the national finals races of this year's drag racing season.

Hillary and John are branding themselves intentionally, to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars a year. Because they CAN...

You and I may not have that kind of money to establish our personal branding, but the concepts are the same and we have access to many of the same tools.  Fortunately, we don't have to play in the branding big leagues to win.

"Now we talk about personal brands, political brands and brand management. And even though the conversation around brand has become bloated with jargon and gobbledygook, its importance can't be oversold." That's a quote from David J. Katz and it makes my point, too. 

Personal branding is 'WAY more important than most of us have realized as we go out the door and go out on the web each day.

Our "good name" is not only our reputation as our parents and grandparents may have taught us, but it is our brand, whether we built are building it intentionally or unintentionally.

Two smart people got me thinking about "cadence" this week, one is a writer about writing, and one is a consultant to consultants.

Author Jan O'Hara wrote, "...the more I become conscious about the use of words, the more I notice that it’s cadence which lies behind my approval or disapproval of a writer’s performance, including my own words."

The incomparable Alan Weiss blogged, "What we should be seeking is uniqueness, a different cadence, a new route. It’s easy to follow, it’s tougher to lead, but it’s toughest to be yourself in a world trying to make you generic. Resist, at all cost."

Cadence is rhythm, and it is obvious to others when we have it and when we don't. Fortunately, in our writing we can edit and thereby achieve a more pleasing rhythmic flow. And then we can begin to achieve it in our speaking voice as well.

I aspire to a simple, effective and unique cadence in my writing and speaking voice. That is the goal of my personal branding, and I'm thanking Jan and Alan for inspiring me in my ongoing branding process today.

Making the decision to hire a coach is not entirely logical, just like any decision to buy. We have emotions we don't really understand that influence our choices. And it happens every time, all the time.

Business coach CJ Hayden lists three main factors influencing our decisions to hire someone, and she calls them MATCH, PROOF and TRUST.

Since CJ has been helping all kinds of business people get clients for years, I like to pay attention to what she ways.

"... trust can be the secret ingredient that wins the sale every time."

In other words, we may hire a coach that we don't feel is our perfect match if we feel we have enough proof.

Or, we may hire someone that feels like a good match, even if we don't have much proof they can help us.

But we will most likely stop in our tracks if we don't experience a sense of trust. As CJ Hayden puts it, "But if the client doesn't trust you, there's no substitute."

We usually hire somebody we trust, and that is why other people will hire me or perhaps hire somebody else instead of me (or you.)

Perhaps you've noticed that I welcome the wisdom of my fellow personal branding experts... I often quote and link to others who tirelessly post to inform and inspire me, and others who may or may not ever become their clients.

Today I was struck by these wonderful words on words in Marcia Yudkin's post, "Words have histories.  They have depth.  They communicate more than any strict unilateral intention in your mind. Write accordingly!"

What a deep admonition for all of us who are building our personal branding, on and off the web. Our words are our building blocks, more than anything else.

Our words endure, so we need to make them meaningful and enduring to represent ourselves powerfully and successfully as our personal brand.

Until we see a photo, a full-length photo in bright light, we don't really know how other people see us.

No retouching, no special effects. I am talking about stark reality here. Looking in a mirror occasionally won't provide the whole story.

Unless we watch an actual movie of ourselves we simply cannot see what others see. And we cannot know the story going on in their heads about us. We can guess, but we can't know the whole truth.

Naturally, the story in someone's head varies from person to person, so there's not just one story going on about us. There are many.

Branding my story is not only a function of portraying myself in photos, words and actions, but it is also a matter of choosing TO WHOM my story matters. Honestly, who cares?  And WHY do they care about my story?

Bernadette Jiwa nails this idea when she writes, "It pays to understand what story the people you choose to serve want to believe."

Everybody wants something, and branding myself is mostly about choosing the right people, the ones who already want who I am and what I do. Then I have to be the person who looks and sounds the part, to those people, consistently.

That is  personal branding from the inside out - knowing the story MY PEOPLE are already telling themselves about me.

Sonia Simone adds the critical question to this conversation when she asks, " Is it presented in a format that your person will consume?

Expectations.

It's not a long, ponderous word, but it definitely has far-reaching consequences.

Whose expectations control our personal relationships with friends and family?

Whose expectations control our business relationships with clients?

Who decides who decides?

There is no right or wrong answer to these three questions, just a constant continuum of choice.

My challenge in branding myself is helping my potential and actual clients develop expectations of me that will work, for me and for them.

When our expectations don't match up we can expect difficulties. Bernadette Jiwa says it like this, "If you are overwhelmed by mismanaged expectations, then you leave no space."

So, some people say, "no expectations," and they even aspire to live by that motto. 

That makes no sense to me. Without expectations of ourselves and others (including our Creator) we cannot function, we drift aimlessly, rudderless in the vast sea of life.

Each day I renew my personal branding with my expectations of myself and others.

Navigating who I am and what I do requires the passion and skill of a seasoned sailor, knowing and doing the right thing each moment to stay on course, weathering the tides and catching enough wind to keep moving ahead.

Personal branding is really an adventure of expectations.

Barbara O'Neal is a writer, not a personal branding coach.

But her Letter To My Aspiring Writer Self is a treasure trove of good advice for entrepreneurs as well as writers.

Here's just one of Barbara's many gems-

"You’re going to keep trying on hats until you find the one that fits, and once you do, your life is going to change in such big ways that you will never believe it could be your life."

I love hats, so this really spoke to me. Even if you're not a hat lover you can picture other people who wear hats and you have to admit that a hat can truly define a person, right?

How about the many-hatted Pharrell Williams? He can get away with wearing various hats because he's already a musical icon.

Those of us who are experimenting with our personal branding may want to try on one hat for size, and just see how it works out. If it doesn't suit us, we can try another. And another.

"...keep trying on hats until you find the one that fits..." is some of the best branding advice ever because it's so easy to picture. Thanks, Barbara!

Just grab a hat and step out there. See what works for you.

Starbucks taught us that the simple daily cup of coffee could become a world-class brand.

But what about smaller brands, such as micro roasters?

The answer, I've discovered, is yes.

I ordered a pound of whole bean, fresh roasted coffee from Mariposa Coffee Roasters in Norman, Oklahoma and it arrived in my home mailbox the next day.

Wow. What fantastic aroma in a custom blend from coffees they personally source from various coffee-growing countries. And I especially like the "social justice" aspect of their brand.

Yes, they are tiny or "micro" as they say.  But they have developed a distinctive brand and I was attracted to it.

That's why I spent about $20 for a pound of fresh roasted coffee beans, which includes shipping.

It's worth it to me, and I surely hope it's worth it to a lot of others so that my new favorite roastery grows and prospers 'way into the future.

That's good branding, proving that branding coffee is possible, even in the wide world of Starbucks.

If you ever wondered how to grind and brew and store your fresh roasted coffee beans, click and enjoy advice from the National Coffee Association USA.

And I really like some scientific talk about fresh roasted coffee beans from Home-Barista.com and it's really cured me of putting coffee beans in the refrigerator. Don't do it!

Generally , most of us hate to be wrong because we think it will cost us our credibility and diminish trust with people who matter to us.

But trying to cover up our mistakes is not usually a good plan. It frequently backfires.

I've found that earning trust is much easier when I am willing to be transparent and admit my mistakes, and the sooner the better. 

Coach Gary Henson said it so well in an email today, "Consider that, rather than looking bad, when you admit that you were wrong and take responsibility, people around you will trust you more."

Personal branding happens in the eyes and the minds of our beholders, and how we choose to 'fess up to our mistakes is a big part of it, whether we like it or not.

If our clients can trust us to admit mistakes, that means they can also trust whatever we say and do.

As we all know, there is a conscious expectation that we'd better have something free to offer anyone who might show interest in us on the web.

We all need a freebie. And it needs to be consumable, like the chips arriving before the Mexican meal. We expect them, and most of us eat them, with gusto.

So, what are the crispy, delicious delicacies that will will work like hot, fresh tortilla chips in a basket for people gathered around my website, looking for my freebie?

Hummmm...

I don't have a crisp reply to that question at this moment, but I like what copywriter Peter Sandeen said in an email today-

"...your freebie should give people the feeling of 'Oh, I hadn't thought of that. And it really helps me!' When they get that feeling, they have a great reason to see how you could help them more.

A great freebie doesn't have to be long (just a few hundred words can be plenty) as long as it makes people feel like you really helped them."
And Barry Feldman's post provides a pithy statement in the same line of thinking - "...
a credible content marketer needs to draw the line between fluff and substance and stay on the right side of it. - See more at: http://feldmancreative.com/2014/07/nontent/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FeldmanCreative+%28Feldman+Creative+-+The+Point%29#sthash.XGckVbBp.dpuf
 a credible content marketer draws the line between fluff and substance, and stays on the right side of it." 

If these thoughts seem vague, they will begin to make more sense as you begin to produce content and create a freebie. You will be writing to establish your personal branding and giving consideration to the all-important question, "Is this actually valuable?  Would it attract me if somebody else posted it?"

I've followed Paul Myers of Talkbiz.com for many years. His FREE internet marketing book is one of the least fluffy freebies you will ever find. 

Paul used a wonderful metaphor to demonstrate the idea of "voice" in our writing. Here it is from his newsletter -

"Your style for a piece is like your choice of clothing for an event. You are the same person in jeans and a t-shirt as you are in a 3-piece suit, but you wouldn't likely wear them interchangeably, and your behavior and way of talking wouldn't be the same in both.

The 'you' that's underneath represents your 'voice.' The clothing (or choice of expressions) shows your style."

Now, I love having different outfits to wear on various occasions. I like dressing up fancy, but not very often. When the situation calls for it, I can enjoy it. So I select a fancy outfit, and show my fancy style.

But my voice is still the same one I use when I'm grungy and muddied from the sandy Texas garden loam outside in the yard. I'm still me beneath my fancy or my grungy clothing.

Thanks for the great image, Paul, and a neat lesson on personal branding. Our voice, the one we use when writing and speaking, is intrinsically "us." Or it should be. It should be unmistakeable, despite our style in the moment.

Our voice (in writing and speaking) is the most important key to our personal branding.

Branding is not a set-it-and-forget-it activity. It's not even something we do five minutes per day and then we're done.

We're always branding ourselves, in all our conversations and in everything we write.

Michael Port posted something from his deep perspective on this topic today, and here's what struck me -

"I work harder on my presentations now than I did before I had experience. I know, you might think the opposite would be the case. That’s the irony. The better you get, the more you prepare."

Wow, that's a mind shift, isn't it?  All the work is not up-front. The work never really ends.

Having studied with Michael Port in his Book Yourself Solid System, I know he opts to speak the truth, plainly and emphatically. When Michael speaks, I listen.

His words to beginners (and to all of us in our perpetual branding process) offer hope and challenge at the same time, which is also typically Michael Port -

"Let’s face it, for the first couple of years that you’re pursuing something new, you’re not usually that good at it. Your understanding of what is good and your expectations for yourself are greater than your ability to produce at that level."

So we have to get on with getting on with it. And never stop. We are never too good to practice and build and brand ourselves yet again.

Setting a steaming, fragrant, delicious meal before someone who isn't hungry is not likely to bring satisfaction to anyone.

I love to prepare and serve meals, but I learned something about it over the years. Serving food when my guests are not ready, or serving them too much, more than they can possibly eat, is not kind. Actually, it's pretty selfish.

It may be generous, That's true enough. And it may be lovingly prepared and artistically served, but.... so what? But I've learned that simply serving up a meal does not create hunger. My guests have to come to the table hungry or they won't consume what I have prepared.

Naturally, I'm not just talking about food here. I'm using food as an example, but it's true of our marketing as well.

Let's take this analogy one step further here. Picture me preparing these lovely meals and then flinging open the door of my home, yelling out to the whole neighborhood, "Get in here and eat! The food is ready! Don't miss out, come and get it right now!

I hope you're laughing... Doesn't this picture remind you of most internet marketing we see everyday?

First, we have to find the hunger. We have to know our people and know when they are hungry. We have to find the hunger and then serve up just the right meal at the right time.

Bernadette Jiwa calls it "The Marketing Shortcut."  I call it common sense.

No two clients are the same, because no two people are the same. We don't like the same things and we all have our own, unique preferences in conversations and relationships.

So, there are many voices on the web, teachers, trainers and people who have made a ton of money and who seem to know a lot, right? They often tell us, "I know how you should do things. Do it this way and you will succeed."

It might be true, and it might not.

First of all, HOW we show up in the world and on the web is the first part of our success. 

And then, when we have our personal branding developed, or we have at least started down the road in our personal branding journey, only then do we really start to know WHO.  I mean, WHO may be our ideal client and WHY.

But it all starts with knowing WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO. That comes first.

Then we can begin to notice the subtle ways we grow and change (yes, we change) as we work with clients, some of them being more ideal than others. But all of them being important to our own personal branding process.

We are branding ourselves, person-by-person in our work. And we are circling around and gingerly touching the reality that Seth Godin shared recently, one that none of us should ever forget on our branding and success journeys -

"All your prospects are not the same, and if you insist on treating them that way, you will waste your time and your enthusiasm on people who aren't bringing any to your interaction."

Each client helps us develop our brand, whether they know it or not.

These tips are shared from the excellent eBook publishing guide provided by BookBaby.com, linked below. If you haven't read up on how to produce the best document for fast, easy conversion into all the various e-publishing platforms, read this now and save yourself time and money publishing your eBook for your personal branding:

Use basic text files to upload.Our experts have learned that eBook formatting works best when authors can supply original files in .doc, .html or .txt file formats.
Don’t use tabs or the space bar to format paragraphs or individual lines.
Use the format paragraph menu or the alignment buttons in the toolbar of your text-editing program.
Use standard fonts for your document, like Times New Roman or Courier New. Don’t use very large or very small font sizes. We recommend 12pt. font size for body text and 14-18pt. for chapter titles.
Resize large images to 300 pixels high if you would like them to display in-line with text.
Do all image resizing work outside of the document,, then reinsert them before saving.
All images must be in .png, .jpg, or .tif format, 72 dpi, and in RGB color mode.* Cover and full-page images: 800-1000 pixels tall by 550-700 pixels wide. Logos or simple images: 75 - 100pixels high.
Don’t wrap text around images.All images (except full-page images) should be set “in-line”with text.

• Need more info? Additional information about how to best prepare your files for ePub conversion can be found at

Heard the newish buzz word lately? Welcome to the new, the amazing, The Attention Web.

It represents all the various ways that advertisers (and others) can track not only which web pages readers visit and how long a visitor stays on each page, but exactly WHERE on the page the readers' eyes spend the most time.

Our personal branding can use what advertisers have spent millions of dollars to discover. We can profit from their big investments and build our personal branding websites and web pages to our own advantage.

Here's a key discovery we can all employ immediately - we can place the most important web copy just above and just below the fold, which is, somewhat surprisingly, where advertisers have tracked the most reading time. Just above and just below the line where a reader begins to scroll.

That's it! A million-dollar tip-of-the-day for our personal branding sites.

 

Alan Weiss posted it today, and Michael Port says it over and over, everyday:

"Pursue that business which you are great at and love doing, provided by your ideal buyers. It’s as simple as that."

That's a nice, neat sentence and it sounds easy, but it takes a lot of time and experience to get to that level of professional easy and grace.

More often than not, we don't know what we don't want until we have it. And then we learn. The light bulb goes off in our minds and we suddenly get it - "Oh, I see. I don't have to work with people who constantly frustrate me!"

It's a revelation of maturity and wisdom, but it can happen at any age, and not by mistake.

First, we have an "Ideal Clients Only" policy, and then we treat each other as ideal. That's a feature of my personal branding. Feel free to choose it for yourself, too!

Try as I may to avoid it (if I don't like who I am) my story brands me.

Think about horses and steers with clear markings burned into their flesh. Ouch... I'm not advocating the use of hot iron to identify livestock by their ranch or heritage, but that image should be clear enough to make my point.

We, too, are branded in our place and to our past, whether we know it or not.

What's important in the process of creating personal branding is KNOWING our brand. We have to become aware of how others see us and know us, and then do what it takes to change, built or repair our brand. Yes, brands can be seriously in need of repair. That's a common challenge for individuals and for businesses alike.

How do we repair our brand?  We change our story, and we have to start with ourselves.

In The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human author Jonathan Gottschall gives us a prescription for branding repair, although that was not necessarily his intent:

"A life story is a 'personal myth' about who we are deep down - where we come from, how we got this way, and what it all means. Our life stories are who we are. They are our identity. A life story is not, however, an objective account, A life story is a carefully shaped narrative that is replete with strategic forgetting and skillfully spun meanings."

Is is time for a new story to build your personal brand now? Let's talk.

Once we are bonded with a comedian we are primed to laugh at nearly anything he or she may say. I don't watch much TV at all, but have to admit that Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory makes me laugh.

Without analyzing it too much, it's not really his topic, it's his voice. It's his persona that is expressed in his incomprehensible perspective on the world (including himself) and the flavor and tone of his expression.

Sheldon Cooper may be talking about physics or Star Trek, but he could talk about pretty much anything and I would laugh. I am wired to laugh at him because I have accepted his quirky character and labeled it "funny."

Whether or not you agree with me on Sheldon Cooper or not, my point is clear - we all express a persona in our personal branding and people react favorably and bond with us or they don't. Once they are wired to to favor us, they are wired to hear what we say and to trust it, too.

But we have to BE our voice. We cannot pretend. Our voice is WHO WE ARE in sound form.

Like Sheldon Cooper. Yes, that distinctive and rare. Each of us is completely unique, even though we are not super science nerds researching string theory (thank goodness...).

Jeff Goins said it to writers in one of his evergreen blog posts - "Writing isn't about picking the right topic, it's about finding the right voice."

Same is true of our personal branding, no matter what we do. We are branding ourselves whether we know it or not, so we might as well be intentional.

Like Sheldon Cooper.

Remaining silent in a conversation can be a good ploy if we don't want to attract attention to the fact that we don't know or don't care about the topic.

But if we do know and we do care, well, speaking up can be a better plan, depending on our desired outcomes.

Personal branding is like that, too. No branding can be better than poor branding. If we are known for something we don't want it's worse than not being known at all.

True?

Andrew Sobel works with very high-level branding for his business clients, but his thoughts in a blog post today apply to all of us, no matter how small our business may be-

"A great brand is wonderful to have, but you can easily shoot yourself in the foot by resting on your laurels and not working incredibly hard to add Specific Value. And if your Brand Value is low, cheer up: You can start building it up today, one interaction at a time."

Sobel is telling the Big Boys and Girls they cannot rest a moment on brand recognition because their brand is in the mind of the beholder, each of us, in every transaction.

One bad experience at a restaurant chain can taint our opinion of the whole chain forever.

True?

And when Sobel says, "Specific Value" he is talking about the moment-to-moment, on-target value we provide to each customer, each time we serve them. He defines it this way - "Specific value can be defined as the client’s perception that you helped them better understand their problem, provided insight during your conversations, and have a solution that is what they need."

Sounds like what we all need to build into our personal branding every step we take with every client, doesn't it?

The line between fact and fiction has always been very blurry... in our own thoughts, in journalism and of course in the court room. Relying on facts is a risky practice, even though it is immensely popular in the form of statistics in our spreadsheets and demands in our conversations with teenagers. We just want the facts so that we can make our own judgments about them and form our own opinions.

Too bad it doesn't really work that way. The best of spreadsheets are still subjective to some extent (Who provided the data? Where did they get it?  Did they leave anything out on purpose?) and of course most conversations with teenagers are filled with subjectivity on both sides.

Creating and deconstructing fiction is a great way to build truth in our personal branding.

I like the way Judy Brunstad says it in an email today -

"And while you may tend to think of nonfiction as an orderly progression of facts, the real facts are that nonfiction often borrows from fiction, including flashbacks, character development, and dramatic endings."

Sounds like real life, doesn't it? And it sounds like a great recipe for building personal branding, too.

Lewis Carroll's famous novel titled Alice in Wonderland has a sequel. But many of us are not nearly as familiar with the sequel he titled Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

Both books are foundational in the study of English literature. Alice in Wonderland was published in 1865 and Through the Looking Glass was published six years later in 1871.

You may wonder why this is important to your personal branding today, and why it can be foundational to your own practice as a coach. Here's why -

Lewis Carroll described a magic mirror through which his character named Alice entered a whole new landscape of reality. His magic mirror became famous back in the late nineteenth century when the sequel came out, but the idea of a magic mirror fascinates us to this day.

Passing through a portal that looks like a full-length mirror and reaching a whole new reality on the other side is a theme in many other books and movies. And it can be a truly dynamic theme in our own lives as well.

What's on the other side of your magic mirror?  Do you have a story on the other side that can help you build your personal branding now?

Let's explore your new landscape of reality together!

No matter what we may say or do, we all want to matter and be seen.

Seth Godin said it in his blog post today, and jump-started my thinking about how our personal branding is supposed to do exactly this - to matter and to be seen.

"When we offer people a chance to matter and to be seen, we have the chance to offer them something magical."

Giving someone the opportunity to matter is one of the greatest gifts we can give, and that includes giving the opportunity to ourselves. Choosing to matter is a simple decision with consequences that last a lifetime.

Creating personal branding is a way to make a statement reflecting the simple decision to matter, and of course to be seen. Our words and our images define us, and that's what a brand is all about.

 

 

Having talked to MANY people who are stuck in the intricacies of their personal branding and making a fatal decision not to just do whatever it is that they do until their branding is "done, I especially enjoyed this quote from Chase Reeves on Sparkline -

"Any successful thing I’ve built that didn’t embarrass me out or burn me out has grown slowly, realistically… like the way friendships grow from scratch. That feels right to me."

Good point, Chase.

We have to DO IT, whatever we do for people. We have to start and learn and grow as we work with customers and clients. We get better and better at what we do, but not until we actually start doing it.

Even if it's just a few dried leaves and one match, we need to start a small fire somehow, somewhere.

Dov Gordon's statement in an email today just riveted me -

The change you want must be clearer than the path you're on.

Well, that pretty much says it all, what we help our clients do as their coaches and what we all need to do in any business.

Oh, and what we do in the rest of our lives as well.

Helping my clients see their own clear path ahead is my greatest privilege. Personal branding is a great place to start creating that path, a clear path to our own personal future in our business.

You can pick up a marketing textbook or a scholarly whitepaper on the topic of marketing and get a much more complicated definition, but this one from Hinge Marketing just nails it for me:

To be meaningful, a brand must be “for someone.” No brand can try to be everything for everyone and hope to be successful.

It's not a complete definition, that's true. But it's the key to relevance and success.

I am not a surfer. Surf clothes and shoes with ultra-cool brands are just not meaningful for me. But that's ok because they are not for me. They are for surfers and surfer wannabes.

Surf brands exclude me on purpose, and that's a good thing.

Some surf brands, Ocean Pacific for example, have escaped the confines of the surfer market because they are sold in Walmarts everywhere. But I am not talking about Ocean Pacific here.

Knowing who your brand is for, knowing whom you serve by being who you are and doing what you do is the heart core of successful branding.

 

Despite the fact that I've been involved in marketing activities for decades, I noticed it was slightly awkward to type the title of this post - To Whom I Am Marketing and Why.

And then I wondered why it felt awkward. How could that be, after all these years?

I decided that marketing is like flirting. If we are going to do it, we'd prefer it not be obvious. It's supposed to be subtle in order to actually work. Right?

Flirting is supposed to be subtle and so is marketing. If our efforts to influence someone are 'way too obvious we are not likely to succeed. In fact, we're pretty much doomed to fail.

So, making a bold announcement - I AM MARKETING - is not cool. Or, is it?

What if my announcement is seen and heard and felt as an INVITATION instead?

What if my announcement is understood as a warm welcome by the very people I want to attract?

Those people are my "to whom" and they know it. These are my people and I am their coach. They want to hear what I have to say. It's working both ways,

Seth Godin's evergreen post from 2009 says it another way, "You can no longer market to the anonymous masses. They're not anonymous and they're not masses. You can only market to people who are willing participants."

Although Seth doesn't use the words "invitation" or "welcome" they are implied, don't you think?

I just have to share quotes from two smart guys today because they are helping me form and forge my own future.

Maybe their words will work for you, too:

First, Seth Godin on the gut-wrenching process of throwing out blog posts he wrote and loves:

"For every post that makes it to this blog, I write at least three, sometimes more.

That means that on a regular basis, I delete some of my favorite (almost good) writing."

Oh boy, it takes a great writer to self-censor like that. Its on-beyond editing, it's censorship at it's finest. I don't do it yet with posts on this blog. Maybe I will start. If Seth can do it I can do it, too, right?  I can write three posts and pick only the best one to share with you.

Hummm.....

And then there's the other smart guy, business coach Gary Henson who offers a great definition of coaching. I needed this today because I'm discovering it can be a fine line between coaching and consulting during my personal branding coaching sessions -

"The role of the coach is to discover what the client is passionate about in their business and personal life. The coach looks from the lens of the client’s “invented future” and enables them to reach it."

I absolutely LOVE helping my clients discover their invented or desired futures, and then helping them create them.

I am always panning for gold, sifting and picking out the nuggets as I read.

Hinge Marketing publishes a Content Marketing Guide for Professional Services Firms and I found a gold nugget in it today:

"Write something very useful and practical.

An in-depth analysis of an issue is fine. But a step-by-step plan for solving the problem it creates is much better. HOW is better than WHY."

That is a chunk of marketing gold for anyone building a personal brand with content on the web. For example, don't just tell me why to lose weight, tell me how to lose weight. That one is a no-brainer.

But some of the services my clients offer are not blatantly obvious like weight loss.

One is an intuitive artist, and she is searching for her ideal art customers. We are working on how she can create words to attract her ideal customers by building her personal brand.

Another one coaches authors through the process of getting their books published on Kindle. We are working on how he can distinguish his services from his competition.

I am going to share this chunk of marketing gold with both of my personal branding clients right away.

 

Seth Godin gets all the credit for the title of this post - A brand is a shortcut.  But that's not all he said about it, of course.

In a great little marketing course I bought on SkillShare this week Seth says -

"A brand is a shortcut. It's a shortcut for all the expectations I have for what you're about to do for me. It's a shortcut for trust, for promises, for conversations."

Isn't that a great definition?  I love it, and I am going to share it with everyone I coach in their personal branding process now.

I love March 4th - March Forth!  That's why I love it, because it reminds me to move forward with courage and confidence throughout the whole year.

Today I'm thinking about the power of our first sentences, and it's a perfect topic for today. It is truly where we March Forth or not. The first sentence of anything we write and everything we say is where we claim our power, or we fail to claim it.

This quote from Writing That Works by Roman and Raphaelson got me started thinking about first sentences -

"There is no need for the written equivalent of small talk. The most courteous thing you can do is spare your reader the trouble of puzzling out what you're getting at... Always identify your subject in your first sentence."

We have to start out with a burst, a moment of precise, concise clarity in order to be understood.

Today my topic is how much I love March 4th, but it includes my sub-topic, First Sentence Power.

Am I making myself clear?

Personal branding is the clear message we send to others, whether we send it intentionally or unintentionally. Every first sentence, on March 4th and every other day is where we claim our power and build our brand.

My mind went off in the direction of tiny, tasty treats neatly displayed in a bakery case this morning when I read a post on Business Grow by Henneke Duistermaat.

Maybe I'm just sitting here craving some delicious, decadent carbohydrates right now ... who knows?

But her words about blogging bring me to a bakery treat mindset when she says, "The intangible aspects of your blog show who you are and allow potential clients to warm to you and your blog. For instance: Do you keep a certain distance like a waiter in a posh restaurant? Or do you make new readers feel welcome and at ease?"

I am putting myself at ease in my blog posting. That is the first thing. And it is the first thing to creating any personal branding as well. If we are not at ease with ourselves, with the image we have of ourselves, then our personal brand is doomed to fail.

Being comfortable writing and sharing tasty little blog post treats is easy for me, and my signature coaching system is helping many others become comfortable writing and blogging about themselves, too.

Welcome to my tasty blog post bakery today!

The longer I live the more I realize how desperately we all long to be right. We want our opinions to be heard and to matter. When someone hears us and understands us we feel like we matter in this world.

Right?  Am  I right?

Honestly, I'm not so concerned about being right in this post. I'm concerned about being understood.

If my first two sentences didn't make sense to you, then it doesn't matter if I'm right. If I failed to connect with you in expressing my opinion, and the words or the idea (or both) didn't resonate with your thoughts, beliefs and feelings, I simply failed to communicate.

It's more important to be understood than to be right.

Seth Godin inspired my thoughts today. He said, "It doesn't matter if you are right, it matters if you are understood."

This concept goes against our human nature, personally and professionally. It jousts with our ego, with a longer lance, on a larger, more powerful horse.

But will it win?

I want to be understood more than I want to be right. Just getting to this point, knowing it's my true desire as a human being and a coach is truly significant.

I want it to win.

Contrasted to the textbooks I studied in college, and the countless professional seminars and courses I've taken over the years, I was fascinated to read Bernadette Jiwa's refreshing description of marketing today -

"Actually, marketing is, and has always been, a transfer of emotion. It’s about changing how people feel and, in turn, helping them to fall in love with something, or maybe just a little bit more in love with themselves."

Personal branding definitely fits her description above. In creating our personal brand we are "putting ourselves out there," with the basic goal of attracting positive, loving attention from others. But in the process we experience positive, loving feelings towards ourselves.

If we are not there yet, or if we are experiencing any resistance to the idea of falling in love who we are and what we do, well, it's time to meet MY FURFY in my signature coaching system.

MY FURFY is truly a secret weapon to experiencing marketing as a good feeling, first for ourselves and then to share with others.

It's true, it's real, and I am looking forward to helping you discover the power of MY FURFY soon.

Mia Sherwood Landau 903-328-9670

I suspect that a lot of us watch the hit TV show, Big Bang Theory and secretly compare ourselves to all those dorky, loveable geeks, especially Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

Although I laugh out loud at him regularly, when I heard him say these words I laughed even louder -

"I'm going to conduct an interview with myself and post it online."

Oh, yeah, that's me.

That's MY FURFY, my personal brand coaching system in a nutshell. It's true!

Contact me if you want to become more comfortable conducting interviews with yourself to find great words and ideas to post online.

Then you, too, can sound as brilliant as Dr. Sheldon Cooper (and me)!!!

Decades ago, when my mom was working in a downtown ad agency, people called her a Working Girl. Back in the 1940s there were girls who chose to work and girls who didn't.

Now it seems we are all Working Girls, another big subject for another post someday, but my point is that our words are just like we are.

All our words have to be Working Words in order to build our personal brand. In reality, all our words on the web are working for us or against us, even when we least expect it.

I really like the way Jerod Morris said it in his Copyblogger post -

"You want to tell a story. I want to tell a story. But so often when we tell stories on the Internet, our words have to do all the heavy lifting."

True, true and true. Since we don't have voice inflection or body language to help us express our personal branding online our Working Words must do all the work for us.

How are your Working Words working for you?

The Olympics reminded me to blog about blogging, about those lonely wee hours of practice that can turn into gold.

Every single world-class, graceful skater has spent countless hours in cold, lonely skating rinks practicing for many years to become excellent.

That's what I do, too, at a keyboard, not in a skating rink. I practice.

The fact is that nobody may ever read some of what I lovingly write on the web. Nobody, except me. So that's why I decided long ago that I am blogging for my own personal delight. And it's working.

With that attitude firmly in place, I cannot lose. I am honing my writing skills and building my confidence, as well as my readership. If you are reading this today, thank you for being my reader. I treasure you.

I know it can feel like blogging into the void, the silent emptiness of cyberspace. But that only happens if you are not choosing yourself as your first reader. Be your own first reader and you cannot fail. Be your own first raving fan.

Jeffrey Slater posted great suggestions for finding other readers, including these critical questions -

"How can you market your content (blog, podcast or videos) to reach the right audience? First, you must know your target. Who do you want to reach? Where do they hang out, what do they read, where can you find them? Can you bring your ideas to them, not the other way around?"

How can you market your content (blog, podcast or videos) to reach the right audience? First, you must know your target. Who do you want to reach?  Where do they hang out, what do they read, where can you find them? Can you bring your ideas to them not the other way around?  - See more at: http://momentslater.blogspot.com/2014/02/do-you-hear-crickets-when-you-blog.html#sthash.WccYo502.dpuf
How can you market your content (blog, podcast or videos) to reach the right audience? First, you must know your target. Who do you want to reach?  Where do they hang out, what do they read, where can you find them? Can you bring your ideas to them not the other way around?  - See more at: http://momentslater.blogspot.com/2014/02/do-you-hear-crickets-when-you-blog.html#sthash.WccYo502.dpuf

 

Every single real human being who is building a personal brand needs to read Mark Schaefer's recent post. It is truly a keeper. I'm printing it today to keep in my treasure notebook.

He has been blogging and building his personal brand for over five years already, but that doesn't mean he can take a moment's rest from being polite and professional.  It means he has to live his priceless advice to us all, "“Be honest, be human, but be careful."

Everybody has a bad day now and then, but that is no excuse for showing up online in a foul mood. Our words follow us forever on the web. They leave a lasting impression that creates more powerful branding than anything we carefully and creatively concoct as self-promotion.

No truer words were ever written about personal branding than the following from Mark Shaefer -

"Everything I do and everything I don’t do, everything I write and everything I don’t write, reflects on my personal brand … and the same is true for you and your company."

The creative urge is a wonderful thing, except it has a habit of getting in the way of simple, clear communication.

Have you ever stared at expensive modern art and wondered, what the heck is that? What is the artist trying to say?

Have you ever read a modernistic poem that left you feeling a bit foolish because you didn't have a clue what it meant?

I have done both, and remembering back, I did not like those forms of art because they did not create a feeling that I like. I felt stupid, and stupid is not my favorite feeling.

Great creativity is not necessarily great communication. Creativity often breeds miscommunication.

Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson say it succinctly in their Third Edition of Writing That Works -

"It is not enough to write sentences and paragraphs that your reader can understand. Careful writers are ever alert to the many ways they might be misunderstood."

Taking the time to get into the personal perspective of our readers and listeners is truly a kind gift we can give them. It is a gift only we can give, and one that has become increasingly rare and precious in the midst of incessant digital noise.

Developing our personal branding requires thoughtful consideration of not only how we desire to be understood, but to how we may inadvertently be misunderstood.

I remember when the Information Age began, or at least back a few decades when that buzz word was born.

But we all grow old and eventually die, and apparently the Information Age is dying a natural death as I type.

Robert Bruce often thrills me with his crisp prose on Copyblogger, including these words of his today -

"The Information Age is coming to a close. It is crumbling around the ancient foundation of the human desperation for meaningful story, unadorned truth, and compelling drama that holds a mirror to life.

Information is simultaneously too much and not enough. Information is impotent to reach the hearts and minds of those who want to run with your idea, product, or service."

The more sophisticated we become and the more digital communication we endure, the more we hunger for the basic and the ancient. Storytelling is certainly basic and ancient.

If everything old is eventually new again, storytelling is now in its infancy. Again. And we all have stories to tell, that we MUST tell as we create our personal brand and our brand marketing.

Jonathan Fields posted a thought-provoking article about working with limited resources to build value. My favorite quote is,  "You may need to get more real, to hone your ideas, voice, presence, ability to radiate. Your breakout move is to elevate the essence."

Such eloquent expression!

Elevating our essence is what we are doing in developing our personal branding. First we have to discover it, though.

Finding our essence, the core of who we are is like finding buried treasure. It's so exciting just to begin the search, and then to locate, examine and display the treasure of our own personal core.

Eventually we can write and speak bravely from our essence, and share our "ideas, voice, presence and ability to radiate." We can express ourselves freely and confidently to attract clients and friends.

Thanks for the great words today, Jonathan!

And thanks to Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz for the following encouragement that fits perfectly here -

"Speaking your essence naturally draws other people’s essence in response. You wind up becoming essence and encouraging essence, doing what you want to do and saying what you want to say, drawing other people to you to do the same. It’s very empowering and liberating, too."

 

My clients tell me I am very enthusiastic. It's true, I am simply an enthusiastic person by nature. Enthusiasm is a key feature of my personal branding.

And I have noticed that my clients become enthusiastic during our sessions together. Maybe it can be explained by the process of osmosis or perhaps a better word is "mirroring."

Honestly, it is so natural to my personality that I don't have to work at it. But many people do have to work at being enthusiastic because it is not natural to their business behavior.

Now, these same people might jump up and yell wildly at their child's soccer games. They might even yell at other drivers in traffic occasionally. But their passion and enthusiasm for soccer and safe driving is can be directed toward their business as well.

Andrew Sobel has very effective series of lessons - free to subscribers of his Client Leadership Academy. I am a subscriber and I also read his books because they are excellent.

In his lesson that arrived by email today Sobel taught me something really important, so I'm sharing it with you, too:

"Enthusiasm is contagious! Think about the most enjoyable and memorable professors you had in college. More likely than not, they possessed unbridled enthusiasm for their subject. Whether it was Art 101 or Political Science, they drew you in. They captivated your attention and interest."

Can you think of one area of your life that fills you with enthusiasm? I mean right now. Got it? Now all you have to do is think of that area of your life as you begin your business day, and recall it whenever you need a boost of enthusiasm throughout the day.

Enthusiasm is a habit, and it's a good one. Thanks to Andrew Sobel for the reminder today!

More than seeing the world as our clients see it, we have an obligation to see a problem, a particular problem as they see it. Each of us will see a certain problem differently, and at any one moment we could see it in yet another way.

Our personal perspective is constantly changing, and so is the personal perspective of each individual client.

It's rather astonishing that we can sit and communicate with each other at all!

But the one thing we can select as a common focus is one, single problem. In a coaching session, that would be the client's problem of course, not our own problem.

In fact, selection of a very specific problem can and should occur long before we sit down with any client. Identifying a common problem, a basic gaping hole in the individual lives of our clients is the foundation of our entire coaching practice.

Some coaches choose BIG problems such as anger and blame between marriage partners.

Other coaches choose smaller problems such as cluttered closet organization.

The size of the problem isn't what is important. What's important is coming to the realization that the problem is our friend. Talking about the problem when we write and speak about our coaching practice and building the problem into our personal brand is the first step to helping our clients solve their problem.

First they have to know they have a problem and they have to know they are uncomfortable. They have to want the discomfort to end, and they have to be willing to pay for a solution to their problem.

Finally, they have to find us and recognize us as the coach with the solution they need to end their discomfort, to solve their problem.

Without a sharp focus on the problem we will not have clients. That is why the problem is our friend.

Gregory Ciotti posted some pithy wisdom in his rich blog post on Claude Hopkins' timeless classic, Scientific Advertising today.

Here are three of my favorite quotes from Ciotti:

"Clarity trumps creativity." 

So true. It applies to casual conversation as well as business writing and speaking. If we aren't being clear we are basically wasting our listeners' time and our own time as well.

How we make ourselves clear in writing and speaking is the big trick, the never-ending challenge we face everyday.

Making the transition from achieving own clarity to fostering and inspiring clarity for our clients is a crucial point in the any profession.

And clarity is the beating heart of the coaching profession.

"Words rule the web."

True again.

The words we type have to convey everything we want to say clearly because they are standing on their own, disembodied, so to speak. Our writing is not connected to our body language or our voice inflection, both of which often provide important cues to understanding what we mean to say.

Our words are brave messengers out on the web, representing us to the best of their ability.

"When persuasion is done at the stroke of the key, you have to make every word matter."

Making every word matter is critically important in our personal branding, which generally begins with words. Our words, the words we send out there to bravely go before us must be clothed and armed for success, our success.

I marvel at how many people think they don't like sales. We are all selling all the time because we are selling ourselves in our professional lives.

Coaches definitely sell themselves professionally. That's why I love this quote from the forward of Jeb Blount's book, People Buy You:

"It wasn't my pitch, my product or even my company that landed my first big sale. It was my willingness to listen."

Bob Beaudine, Author and CEO

Our clients buy us, or they don't. We sell them on the idea of buying us, our time, our products and services, or we don't.

We are selling ourselves naturally whenever we have genuine willingness to listen to people.

 

 

"Always start from the assumption that folks don't grasp what you're offering and how they'll be better off having it."

Marcia Yudkin, Marketing Expert and Mentor

This is so hard to remember and put into practice, personally and professionally. To me, it's hard to assume that other people don't get it because it feels like a slam. It feels like I'm looking down on them as less intelligent or caring. I don't usually think that way about other people, because I prefer to give them all the credit I'd like them to give me in return.

Turns out, this thinking is better in theory than in practice. Giving people all that credit is not a good idea because it means I don't put enough effort into helping them understand what I want to communicate, what I want to share.

I call this tendency my Golden Rule Thinking. And it can lead to problems in communication for me, even though it sounds like a great idea in theory.

 

 

Lots of us have coaches or we are coaches, and today I saw two quotes that sum up the essence of wisdom for both the coach and the client. Here, see what you think -

Coach wisdom - "It's better to know the right questions than to have all the answers."  Andrew Sobel and Gerald Panas

Client wisdom -  "Clearly understanding the question is more than half the answer."  Rabbi Mitterhoff

 

Making the decision to hire a coach is not entirely logical, just like any decision to buy. We have emotions we don't really understand that influence our choices. And it happens every time, all the time.

Business coach CJ Hayden lists three main factors influencing our decisions to hire someone, and she calls them MATCH, PROOF and TRUST.

Since CJ has been helping all kinds of business people get clients for years, I like to pay attention to what she ways.

"... trust can be the secret ingredient that wins the sale every time."

In other words, we may hire a coach that we don't feel is our perfect match if we feel we have enough proof.

Or, we may hire someone that feels like a good match, even if we don't have much proof they can help us.

But we will most likely stop in our tracks if we don't experience a sense of trust. As CJ Hayden puts it, "But if the client doesn't trust you, there's no substitute."

We usually hire somebody we trust, and that is why other people will hire me or perhaps hire somebody else instead of me (or you.)

Making the decision to hire a coach is not entirely logical, just like any decision to buy. We have emotions we don't really understand that influence our choices. And it happens every time, all the time.

Business coach CJ Hayden lists three main factors influencing our decisions to hire someone, and she calls them MATCH, PROOF and TRUST.

Since CJ has been helping all kinds of business people get clients for years, I like to pay attention to what she ways.

"... trust can be the secret ingredient that wins the sale every time."

In other words, we may hire a coach that we don't feel is our perfect match if we feel we have enough proof.

Or, we may hire someone that feels like a good match, even if we don't have much proof they can help us.

But we will most likely stop in our tracks if we don't experience a sense of trust. As CJ Hayden puts it, "But if the client doesn't trust you, there's no substitute."

We usually hire somebody we trust, and that is why other people will hire me or perhaps hire somebody else instead of me (or you.)

Making the decision to hire a coach is not entirely logical, just like any decision to buy. We have emotions we don't really understand that influence our choices. And it happens every time, all the time.

Business coach CJ Hayden lists three main factors influencing our decisions to hire someone, and she calls them MATCH, PROOF and TRUST.

Since CJ has been helping all kinds of business people get clients for years, I like to pay attention to what she ways.

"... trust can be the secret ingredient that wins the sale every time."

In other words, we may hire a coach that we don't feel is our perfect match if we feel we have enough proof.

Or, we may hire someone that feels like a good match, even if we don't have much proof they can help us.

But we will most likely stop in our tracks if we don't experience a sense of trust. As CJ Hayden puts it, "But if the client doesn't trust you, there's no substitute."

We usually hire somebody we trust, and that is why other people will hire me or perhaps hire somebody else instead of me.

Do yourself a BIG FAVOR and click this link to Seth Godin's Startup School podcasts on iTunes. He posted them from October through December of 2012, but they are all different segments from a 3-day seminar he recorded. And they are BRILLIANT.

Honestly, I'm collecting great ideas for my clients and my family members with businesses. Don't miss 'em.

And Happy 90th Birthday to my dad today! Love you, Dad. (Yes, he's on the web.)

Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation, was recently interviewed by Kelton Reid of Copyblogger (yes, I read that blog often).

I just have to share this streak of brilliance from Pam, "A great writer is committed to the process of writing. S/he is more interested in highly effective language and clear ideas than ego, or on some days, sanity."

Oh yeah, that's a fact of my life, too. Thank you, Pam. What a relief!

Sonia Simone said it on a Copyblogger post today-

"Adjectives tell, nouns & verbs show."

Oh boy, she said it all, didn't she?

Nouns and verbs are the real building blocks of all writing.

Sherri-
No, it is not necessary to blog, but it is certainly a good format for learning to write on a schedule.

There is no "correct order." It's different for every person who decides to write. You can relax and know you'll do it right.

You can use a yellow legal pad and a pen (some very successful internet marketers actually do that) or your favorite digital device. Or you can even just talk into your smart phone and record your thoughts, using voice recognition software to convert them to text.

Just start. That's it. Just do it any way it works for you.

For now, you are not writing for the public. You are writing for you, for your own life and your own growth. Don't even think about other people at all when you are starting.

I still think about a younger "me" and write to her. It's good to write to one specific person in your mind. Sometimes I write to God because I know for sure he's always listening, and I cannot be sure of anybody else.

There are programs to correct spelling and grammar, but there is no computer program to mine the treasures in our hearts and minds.

You are digging for treasure right now, Sherri.

Oh, I forgot to send you this link. It's really a good one. Jane Friedman has been an editor and a writer for a long time. I pay attention to her. http://janefriedman.com/2013/04/01/best-business-advice-for-writers-march-2013/

Good writing!

Mia
www.mia-sherwood-landau.com

Here's an email I received today from Sherri.

Mia,

I am in Texas, and have been intrigued by your writings and business blogging/articles for revenue.  I can write, and am interested in getting started in these type of adventures.  As an experienced writer, I wonder if you might consider giving me some advice on how to begin my own endeavor into the different approaches to writing for pay?

Sherri

Here is my reply, to Sherri and to everyone who might also benefit:

Hello Sherri. Thank you for your email.

Your questions do not have easy
answers, but perhaps you will benefit
as I do from some of the voices on
the web that offer suggestions.
It has taken me 5 years to build up a credible
presence on the web and to get regular work
as a writer. I still struggle, as do many others.

Here are some ideas for you:

http://www.copyblogger.com/blog/
These people are brilliant writers
and marketers. A person must be both
to build a career now.

http://writetodone.com/
Really excellent writing and advice
from Mary Jaksch.

http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/blog/
CJ Lyons is a very successful novelist
who is also an excellent marketer. She
quit her job as an ER physician to
build a writing career, so she has a lot
to say about how to do it.

Good luck to you in all you do!

I guess it's not appropriate to call it "my" book of course, but still... I was elated to discover that my ghostwriting project for a Kindle ebook is now #1 in its category on Amazon. This is a great thing for Bill DeWees, and also for me. Congratulations to us!

It just takes time, I guess. Learning which clients are a good fit for my writing seems to be an ongoing process. I love to say YES, so that leads to some experiments that work out, and some that don't.

As time goes by I am learning to say YES to my own style of work and productivity. I am learning which clients will be thrilled with my writing and which will not.

A professional writer knows her limits and her expertise. I am getting there now. It's not just about getting paid to write. No, it's about knowing when to say NO THANKS and when to dive in.

When you give me a call you can trust me to be professional. Try me!

mia@mia-sherwood-landau.com

Remember OPM - Other People's Money? That was the buzz word of the no-money-down real estate investing fad. I got into it a couple decades ago, and that's why I'm thinking OPO today  - Other People's Opinions. Maybe I just coined that phrase!

Apparently the importance of social media has begun to eclipse SEO - seach engine optimization.

The simplistic explanation of this rather complex phenomenon is that what other people say about me on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google+ has more weight with search engines than what I publish about myself. Unless my testimonials show up in social media, as opposed to my own site, they don't help my rankings.

Is it just me, or does this seem rather odd? The court of public opinion on social media is not the most reliable of sources. People gossip and rant, accuse and aquit with little or no real knowledge of people or situations. How can search engines justify reliance on all that for determination of page rankings?

I guess we will have to stay tuned for further developments.

 

 

Life is more than a few years spent on self-indulgence or career advancement. It's a privilege, a responsibility, a stewardship to be met according to God's calling.   Elizabeth Dole

Stewardship is a stalwart word, often reserved for care of land or finances. I like this definition, "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."

My ideas and my words have been entrusted to my care, and that means I'm responsible for managing them. Sometimes I do it well, and sometimes I bungle it completely.

Words spoken or written carelessly, or worse yet, brave words unspoken and unwritten forever pile up in silent, unpurposed graves, testament to the victory of doubt and fear over stewardship.

I do not want to stand before My God and have to answer for all the brave words with which I was entrusted, but buried alive. And so I write.

The most pristine traditions are bardic, epic, poetic, and never written.

Arthur A. Cohen

I am pondering this sentence over and over, deciding why it speaks so poignantly to my soul. Yes, my soul. It's been mingling with my essence since I read it a few days ago, and it refuses to retire.

Oral traditions in all cultures are classic and undisputed. They were the way of the world for most of human existence, and only recently did we get the printing press, and more recently the web.

What have printed and published words done to diminish us?

What are my words doing to diminish me, and my clients?

Crackerjack copywriter Matthew Goldfarb says:


"Now that you've kept silent long enough for the echo of your voice to fade away, I invite you to pay attention to the other noise many of us ignore: The ones made by your ideal clients and fans."

Food for thought today. Thanks, Matt.

"A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again". (from an email today)

"To lead a disciplined life means that you are in the driver’s seat, you have a grip on yourself and you are working from a soulful place within. Sometimes we talk from our lips, without thinking. Sometimes we talk from our heads, with much thought but little or no emotion. Sometimes we talk from the heart, with more emotion than intellect. And sometimes we talk from our soul, from a place where our heart and mind come together to fully express who we really are..."  Rabbi David Aaron

I don't want to write from the shallow place of not thinking or feeling. Not ever. I want the life juice and the electricity going through all my own senses, as well as those of my readers. I want to write from that place Rabbi Aaron describes above; it's the place where my heart and my mind fuse into the 100% totality of who I am, the real me.

Is this fusion really possible? I want to find out now, to discover how to do it, and then to never stop doing it. Forever.

Although I am not the first to touch them, devour them and savor them, their freshness is new to me. The song and laughter are my own, elicited by words on the page, the page with a pink stain. Pizza sauce? Lipstick? Blood?

How were other readers changed by these used books and who will I become as I digest them? Perhaps I will know and I will grow from their sustenance, for just a moment at least. Or maybe forever. No words are wasted on me.

Meeting the right used books at the right time is a love affair that never ends. Dog-eared, marked-up and otherwise worn, I can still pack up used books and own them, boxes of them, piled in a storage space 'til death do us part.

Nobody needs to perform a ceremony binding us together, my used books and I. We are dependent on each other in the silent depth of our intimate sharing. We belong to each other, and we become each other, inextricably bound.

And when the time comes to part ways, we are never really separated. The life of my used books flows in me, in my mind and in my heart.

And now I own books of light. With the flick of a power switch they rekindle yet another love affair, yet again.

But alas, I cannot leave my mark upon them, these books of light. I cannot use a pencil, pen or a highlighter to touch them at all.

Someday I will write my own book of light to kindle love affairs throughout time. Books of light are limitless and ever new, touched by hearts and minds of readers all over the world.

Honestly, I cannot believe my good fortune to be alive and working as a writer right now. The web has a voracious appetite for words, and for some reason I've been blessed with plenty of them!

It's not a coincidence that I'm linking you with relevant news sources on this blog, and it shows you that I can do the same intelligent work for you and your blog, too.

Get in touch and I'll write a sample 250 word blog post specifically for you on any subject now.

It's a great day to get started with focus on 2013. Playwright, poet and author Merle Feld gave me the perfect way to focus on my writing and eliminate all excuses in the New Year. She teaches rabbis and others how to go deep and mine their own soul in order to share it with others in writing and speaking. That is just what I need to do this year. Stay tuned!

Oh, and you will enjoy this cartoon showing an isolated writer spinning out words for a living... funny. How can we be so alone and connected to the world at the same time? Writers used to be isolated, and now we're so connected we can barely get anything accomplished!

Merle Feld's inspiration to focus and Barry Feldman's list of must-haves on my website are done. Now, fearlessly into a new a year of writing adventure I step. See you there!

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