I was sitting at the table at a conference recently, listening to a world-renowned speaker talking about differentiating business brands. The young woman who raised her hand to ask a question was going on and on about her business problems and her personal problems; how hard it is to run a business, raise small children, travel to see clients, learn all the new technology, keep up with her e-mail, blog consistently, work out regularly, manage her marriage, eat healthy, and keep all her clients happy. Not only that, but the holidays were almost upon us and she hadn’t even started her gift shopping.
What’s her specialty, you might ask? Teaching her clients productivity and efficiency.
As quickly as I blurted out “physician, heal thyself,” it crashed down on me that I need to follow my own advice. The proof was my realization that a number of my recent blog posts all deal with subjects that I am having the most problems with. You see, I thought that I write these blogs for you but the ugly truth might be that I actually write them for me.
It is said that we teach what we most need to learn and my discovery is that that’s true of my business and this blog. And so when I wrote about “How to make money from blogging,” I was trying to think through my own desire to monetize this Internet monster that we’ve created together.
When I wrote “How To Get A Job” I wasn’t actually looking for employment, but instead thinking about how I need to reinvent myself and my agency to embrace technology in this brave new world we’ve all been pushed into.
“I Got Nothin’” was more sincere than anyone figured, but not for the reasons you might think. I wasn’t complaining about anything missing in my life — I am very aware of all of the good fortune I enjoy and I say “thank you” every day. Truth is, I had nothing to write about that week and was feeling the pressure of my self-imposed deadline (Wednesday morning, 10 a.m., no matter what) bearing down on me. My way out was to steal a page from the Seinfeld show and write a blog post about nothing at all.
“What You Can Learn From Sean Hannity” wasn’t a tribute to the pundit’s skills or his politics, but a plea to my readers (and myself) to pick a freaking lane already. While it’s been said that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, it’s also a critical component of branding. And with all my interests and opportunities, I can be the most ADD-addled multi-tasker around. So The New York Times article I referenced, all about Hannity’s commitment to consistency, was a suggestion that what’s worked for him can work for us, too.
The Hannity article wasn’t the first time I dealt with that issue, by the way. “What Business Are You In” was my attempt to pick my lane and figure out what business I’m in — after all, I can choose from branding, advertising, design, speaking, and writing, not to mention our specialties in travel and tourism, health care, and financial services, as well as our extensive experience and infrastructure in Latin America. The Mind Map for my “Define Your Issue” speech was another exploration of the very same issue.
For me, writing really is an exercise in thinking. By putting my thoughts on paper and editing and then reediting them over and over, I get to carefully examine what’s going on in my own head. And by looking back over the roster of published titles, I also get to see what’s been concerning me from week to week. And then, by reading through your comments and suggestions, I not only get to see what’s on your mind but I also get scores of creative solutions from very smart people (thank you).
This collective online think-tank has created a digital mastermind group that benefits not only me but also everyone who gets involved. In fact, there are a number of readers who don’t just read the blog post I email but instead log in to Turkel Talks to read the posts and all the comments that follow. And the best comments generate conversations between different readers, even when I’m not involved. But just like you, I can log in and learn from all the great comments. And most importantly, I often find the answer to my dilemma in the comments you send.
This crowdsourcing has served me well in a number of areas. When I need help with software, I no longer call tech support but instead post my question on Twitter. I do the same when I travel and need a reference or recommendation. And when I have a problem, I blog about it and I look to you for solutions.
Thanks for being there. I feel better already. And please have a happy, healthy, and safe new year.