You’re Gonna Screw Up!

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While we strive to do our best in life, relationships, work, and everything else; I am convinced that if we learned and accepted at an early age that we will screw up, we would be much happier. Now, none of us expect to be perfect of course, but we all have problems with making mistakes.

For example:

* We will completely ruin a good relationship or friendship.

*We will disappoint others.

*We will get fired or reprimanded in our jobs. Incidentally this could be a good thing for us!

*We will say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

*We will make complete fools of ourselves.

If we are LUCKY, we will do these things! Why lucky? They are learning experiences. The best learning experiences are from the mistakes we make as human beings. Hopefully we will learn from our mistakes and not make the same ones twice, but even if that happens we can learn a lesson.

I have learned SO much in my life; which means I have screwed up….a LOT! I am sure I will screw up more, but that’s okay, I am human. It doesn’t mean I don’t try to not screw up, but I’ve learned to not worry so much about the mistakes. Life is too short; apologize if you can and if appropriate, learn from the mistake and move on.

Thoughts?

Want to connect with me? That is easy, I am always on! You can Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, add me to your Circles on Google+ and connect with me on LinkedIn.

Be BOLD!

When was the last time that you did something bold?  Something completely unexpected and out of your comfort zone?  If it’s been a while, or if you cannot remember the last time you made a bold decision, now is the time to make it happen!I have recently made two bold steps myself, and I can tell you that I have no regrets surrounding either of these actions.  The first bold step I am referring to was my decision to be a full-time, self-employed consultant. I had previously handled marketing duties for a local restoration company in addition to my consulting business, but  now I am all in working for myself.  This has been the second best decision I have ever made.  I do set my own schedule; I am responsible for finding my own clients, booking my own speaking opportunities, and managing my own business.  I love what I do and I wake up every day excited to get started! Can you say that about your career?  If not, maybe it’s time for a bold decision of your own.

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The second bold step is the decision to fire my hair!  You read it correctly, I have fired my hair!  It had been abandoning my head and retreating for years, so I as the owner of the head, I decided to fire it!  The hair gene came from the Lusher side of my family, and let’s just say we are not known for old age and a head full of hair :)  This again, was a great decision for me.  I feel better about myself and my appearance and everyone has accepted the new, bold look.  I have even received compliments on the shape of my head!  That is a new one! I also removed the goatee, so the grey hair is gone from my head.  Bonus:  looking younger!What does firing my hair have to do with business or more specifically the industry in which I work?  Simple: as a small business owner, making the decision to incorporate a social media plan into your business is a bold step.   For many business owners, it requires a leap of faith into a medium they are not familiar with.  But, as with my career move and my hair, taking bold actions can and will be rewarding if you approach it with careful planning and implementation as well as partnering with the right consultant or team.So, how can you be bold today, this week, this month, or this year?  What bold steps can you take?  Let me know, and let me know what you think of my healthy scalp!

Insignificant? Not at all!

I was blessed today to have another morning on this earth, and to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee on my deck as the sun started it’s journey across the sky.  I snapped this photo of the moon agains the backdrop of the blue sky and clouds and started pondering our significance in the universe.

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         Watching the final Space Shuttle mission and the landing of Atlantis took me back to my childhood; like most boys, I wanted to be an astronaut!  I still want to fly into space and look down upon the earth.  That would be so cool! Alas, that is not an option at this point, so I will just keep looking towards the Heaven’s and keep that dream alive!Looking to the stars and the vastness of the universe, or even our own lives, it is easy to feel insignificant, but that is not the case. We all touch countless lives as we live our life.  The people we see each day and interact with, our family, friends, co-workers, we impact them all.  Are you impacting those lives in a positive manner?  Am I?  That is the constant question.Working in and spending a considerable amount of time in social media, I communicate with thousands of people. I am always aware of this and strive to make a positive impact in those lives.  I hope I do.  If you spend time in social media or social networking, you have a similar opportunity.  You have the opportunity to  make a significant impact or difference in the lives of others. Before you send that next Tweet or post something to one of your profiles, think about that.  Think about how it will impact your friends and followers, as well as your own reputation.  Will it be positive and supportive or negative?  However you choose to impact others, just know you do, and treat those “virtual” relationships with care; these are real people on the other side of the screen.How do you make a significant difference in the lives of others? 

Facebook Changes: Improvements?

Facebook announced exciting changes during their live video conference today.  Do you believe these are improvements?Announced today:

  1. Video Calling with Skype
  2. New Chat Design, complete with Buddy Lists
  3. Group Chatting

The partnership with Skype was something necessary and a natural next step for the two companies.  It solidifies Skype’s place in the social environment and it helps Facebook to continue to grow in the wake of Google + 1.Do you see these changes as improvements?  For businesses that use Facebook to connect and stay in communication with their client and potential clients; this is HUGE!  Imagine interfacing with fans and clients directly off of your Facebook Business Page!  Holding a Group Chat Session with employees in other locations!  It’s all about being connected, being responsive and humanizing business.How will these compete with Google + 1 ?  Too soon to tell; and in reality, it is two different situations; but it does raise the bar for both Facebook and Skype in our social environment.

Rememberances, Connections & The Power of Social Media

On April 21st of this year, I attended the funeral of a friend and former co-worker Tommy Hall. A man that I had the enjoyment of knowing and learning from and the person I credit for my life long Apple Computer addiction. When Tommy and I worked together several years ago, he sold me his Mac PowerBook; that was the first stage of my addiction. Fast forward to today; I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and an iPad; with more purchases planned!Tommy left behind an incredible wife and two beautiful daughters. The funeral was hard, as all funerals are, but it also taught me about how we grieve more publicly now than ever before. Many of us that knew Tommy posted remembrances on his Facebook profile as well as on our own walls. I was touched and humbled by the number of my friends that offered love and condolences on this day; many of these people never knew Tommy, but they knew me, and I am very thankful for their friendships.I posted this photo that I sent to Tommy after a trip back home to West Virginia; we all smiled at the fact that he had a road “named” after him in WV.

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       Tommy, you will be missed my friend.It just so happened that on the same day as Tommy’s funeral, our local Meetup 2.0 Group hatched a new Group of professionals to discuss and promote social media.  The Floyd Meetup Group‘s inaugural meeting was both exciting and bittersweet for me due to the events earlier in the day; however as a founding member of our Roanoke Meetup 2.0 Group, I was committed to attending.  Once again being the social person that I am, I posted on Facebook and Twitter  that I would be attending the meeting, and I was genuinely excited to be there and meet new people.When it came time to pay, the waitress asked my Meetup partner, Patsy Stewart who John Lusher was.  Patsy laughed and introduced me, thinking the waitress had heard of me.  The waitress proceeded to inform us that some jewelry lady had called and provided a credit card to pay for my dinner!  It took us a few minutes to figure out that it was my dear friend, Julianne Paulsen or @YrJewelryGal on Twitter.  Julianne owns a jewelry store in Minnesota and is Founder and CEO of Viaggio Bracelets.  Julianne had noticed my posts throughout the day, including the information about Tommy’s funeral as well as the location of our Floyd Meetup meeting; she then found the number of the restaurant and left information to pay for my dinner.  Talk about a humbling experience.On the drive home, my friends tweeted about the woman that bought John’s dinner and I called Julianne to thank her.  Julianne answered the phone laughing because she knew what had happened.  I thanked her profusely and related the story to her about the waitress; but also discovered she has done this to friends before just to surprise them.  She did this for me just to give me a smile and pick-me-up due to the events of the day.  I have not yet had the pleasure to meeting Julianne in person, but I will one day and I will buy her dinner and supply the cigars!  Although we have not met yet, I consider Julianne a dear friend and trusted professional.My reason for this post is to shine the light on how we live now:  socially.  More so than ever before, if we choose to. Whether we are grieving or celebrating; we do so publicly with our extended friends and followers.Thank you Tommy for all you taught me, and thank you Julianne for everything you are to me; I am most certainly blessed with the best friends in the world. 

Social Media Misconceptions

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If you are a business owner, I strongly suggest you stop resisting social media as a platform to build relationships,  your brand and to connect with clients!  Just as businesses resisted building and promoting a website, a portion of them are now resisting social media.Why?  Is it because you don’t understand it or you think it’s a fad?  It isn’t a fad. Is it fear of the unknown?  You have more resources available at your fingertips to learn about social media and how it can help your business starting today!  Guess what?  Your competition is already involved with social media and if you can’t be found online today, you are not found period.Before you jump into social media, let’s clear up some misconceptions.Social media is inexpensive, or even FREE! We need to put this misconception to rest once and for all.  Yes, many of the tools and the sites that are involved with social media are free to sign up and use.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed and others do not charge you to sign up and create an account, but you will discover, that is where the free part ends.It takes time to properly create these profiles and to maintain them.  It takes time to develop and produce content; to refine what is working and what is not. Social media is and should be part of your marketing campaign.  As a business owner you need to make this plan part of your overall business plan.  Some companies spend as little as a few thousand dollars on a social media campaign. Others spend upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 or more.  This is a form of advertising and marketing your company; tools for building your brand.  Treat it as such, budget for it and plan for it.  You didn’t go into business without a business plan (did you) so do not start a social media campaign without a plan.Anyone can build your campaign for you. Well, if you spend any time on Twitter, you will realize that thousands of “experts” on social media are promoting themselves.  You will discover social media “experts” that barely have two-thousand followers; so remember this, there are no experts.  We are all students of social media and it changes so quickly that no one can become an expert.I recall a conversation with a retail store owner about his website.  In an effort to save money, the store owner was having a local high school kid design and launch his site.  I visited his store six months later and the site had just launched;  three months behind schedule.  Approximately one year later, a Google search, with specific parameters included that relate to his business and that should have been keywords for his business, resulted in his site being found….on page three. Was the cost savings worth the amount of lost business to his shop because consumers couldn’t find his site or his store?  Do you go past page one on a Google search?  Hint: consumers typically do not.I use the previous story to highlight the importance of hiring a true professional to build and launch your successful social media campaign. A campaign that is integrated with your marketing efforts as well as your website. You should also interview the person or firm that you decide to choose as a partner! Have they created successful campaigns in the past? Do they integrate video into their campaigns? What does their portfolio look like? Ask for references and specifics of those clients they have worked with successfully.You can make a big splash in short amount of time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and typically your social media campaign will not make a big splash or build a strong or loyal following in a short amount of time.  It can, but those are exceptions to the rule, not the norm. If you are already a star or have a big name in business, then you can make a big splash; if not, it takes slow and steady work. Twitter is great for building a following and driving traffic to your site, your blog, your website.  Use video to acquaint your followers with your company, products, services and staff; but remember it takes time!You can handle a social media campaign internally. Maybe. Most companies rarely employ personnel that are well versed and experienced in social media campaigns.  Even if they have the experience, do they have the time?  What do you pay them to do and how much?  Run the numbers and then hire an experienced person or firm.  Another advantage to using an outside person or firm?  Their contacts and their network. Chances are, it’s larger than yours.  Do you do your own business taxes?  Do you represent your own company in legal matters?  Why would you try to run a social media campaign internally without the right people, with the right experience?People will automatically find you. That misconception reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, Doing a good job around here is like peeing in a dark suit, It makes you feel warm but nobody notices” Jason Bolt. People will not automatically find you, but word of mouth, or spread by the click (mouse) can help!  Using tools like Twitter, StumbleUpon or Digg helps, but your network, combined with traffic driven by the professional you partner with for your campaign, will help the world find you!You can’t measure social media results. Sure you can. Just as you can measure traffic to your website and responses to advertisements in traditional media, you can measure social media results.  Using Google Trends along with other analytics can provide you specific statistics on who is finding you, who is clicking on your links and sites and how well your campaign is working. With the recent changes, you can find out the number of views, clicks, demographic breakdowns and more on your Facebook Fan Pages.Approach a social media campaign just as you would any other aspect of your business; carefully, with planning and the right professionals involved.Those are my thoughts. What say you?

Coloring Outside the Lines

You never know where a Facebook status update will lead!   Last week, I posted “Warning! Today I am coloring OUTSIDE the lines ;)The likes and the posts started flowing which tells me I struck a nerve, in a positive manner!  The screen shot below is  only a portion of what people had to say on the post, and a week later, I am still getting likes and comments.After laughing about it for a while, I got excited about what this said to me about life!  We do not like to be told we must color inside the lines!!  Remember as children, when we were taught how to color, we were told to color inside the lines; to heck with that!  Why not do what we feel like we should or could do?  Why not make our own lines and color where WE want to color?  No one wants to be told how to act, whether in coloring, or in life!We were all created as unique human beings with no two people alike!  No fingerprints are the same, no DNA is the same, we are all different!  So why “Color Inside the Lines” like everyone else?I say be yourself! Be different, be unique….take your crayons and Color OUTSIDE the Lines!!

Build Your Alliance: Online & Offline

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I believe most of us have confidence and faith in our own abilities.  We believe we can accomplish quite a bit on our own, and traditionally, we don’t like to ask for help.  In life, as well as in the business world; we need to get past this outdated way of thinking and build an alliance. This alliance can and should consist of both online connections and offline, or real life connections.

More simply stated, we cannot do it alone.  It takes the help and support of others to reach our goals in business, in life, in everything we strive to accomplish.  I admit that I need help in certain areas and thankfully I am part incredible alliances that I have built over the years.My network is strong and it is growing each day; but make no mistake, it takes time, energy and effort to build and maintain these alliances.  How do you build an alliance?  Here are some simple steps:

Online

  • Consistently Connect – the proliferation of social media profiles and platforms have made this easier than ever.  Whether your preference is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or others, you must consistently connect and provide valuable content for your alliance members.
  • Promote Others – spend considerable time online promoting others in your alliance or network.  Open up your network to the people that you trust, respect and recommend.  We all have different alliances & networks and promoting others to your alliance is beneficial to all.
  • Respect Your Alliance –  if your alliance doesn’t want to promote someone you believe in, respect their wishes.  If they do not want to take part in a project you are involved with, it’s okay. It just  may not be for them or their network; so respect your alliance and do not take advantage of them!

Offline

  • Meet Regularly –  this can be accomplished by meeting for coffee, lunch or a business meeting at their place of business.  This will enable you to see their environment and what is important to them. For valuable members of your alliance, scheduled regular meetings;  do not leave this to chance!
  • Make Connections – much like promoting others, you can work to make connections for your alliance members.  Who do they need to meet? What itch of theirs can you scratch by making introductions?
  • Never Assume – just as your time is valuable, so is the time for your alliance members.  Never assume that they have time to just chat by stopping by their office.  Respect their time and what they do and never assume!

Notice how the tips are similar for both online and offline?  That’s because they apply to any type of relationship, alliance or professional partnership.  In building an alliance of people that will help you, you must FIRST help them. If you approach building an alliance by seeing who you can help; you will have one of the strongest alliances possible.Those are my thoughts; what say you?  

Guest Post: Sending My Baby Off To War

This post is from my friend Ann Marie – @WorkingMoms on Twitter. As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I encourage you to pause and be thankful for those that fight for our freedom and remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice. Why present a post about this topic on a site that talks about social media, connecting and our digital world?  Because all of these things we talk about is dealing with the human connection.  This post is as human as you can get.  Ann Marie’s post is from the heart as she sends her baby off to war. Ann Marie and her baby, Taneah are in my prayers. I have had a rough week to say the least……One time in my life when I need to be strong… a pillar for my babies….instead I’m struggling with every ounce of me not to cry…..to be able to breath….not panic with fear…I have been through a lot in my life….all which holds nothing to what I’m feeling about sending my baby off to a war zone…Many of you don’t know but my middle child…child #4…. “aka” short bus (nickname given to her because she is 5ft 1and gives me piggyback rides… I tease that she is so short my butt hits the floor)…T-birder(another nickname)…Taneah is in her last 9 days of training/holding before she is being deployed …….Up until last Tuesday….it didn’t bother me…because I decided to go with denial…my other daughter said mom she wont go….they will probably cancel her orders….I went with that….denial……it was working for me…up until she packed her gear at my house…then it hit me…my baby…my short bus really is going to a war zone and I can’t do anything to stop her from going…to protect her….I looked at her and said you really are going….She said yeah, mom I’m…I said but NaTasha said you wouldn’t be going….she said they would probably cancel your orders…she was wrong…I watched her pack her gear…thank goodness the rat that came to visit which took my mind off her going….The next day….we said our goodbyes…..I thought saying goodbye to my babies that got stationed in Alaska was hard…well, was I WRONG….totally wrong…sending your baby to war….is a feeling that I can’t explain….so many emotions but no words really capturing the way I feel…..When I said goodbye…it was like saying goodbye knowing that I never get to see her again….that the person I’m saying goodbye to will not be the same person I will see when she gets back….it will be someone new….A person I never met before…. Will I ever see her again….she may not come back……over the last couple of weeks we talked about her wishes in case that happens…again I used denial and jokes….thinking she wouldn’t go…yep, worked then…but not now…..reality hits…She left me her car to use…every time I get in it….I can’t describe how I feel….Thankful her letting me use her car while she is gone…but knowing why I have the luxury/honor of using her car…hard to handle at times…but what a sweet baby….I had a parent say to me who does not have a child in the military…as parents we prepare our kids to go out and take care of themselves in the world that’s all you can do…as if she thought this was comforting to me….I looked at her for a moment….and replied yes, we do….but we do not prepare them for war…..not the same I said…thinking to myself….shes not moving away….she is going to protect us in a country that really is not fond of Americans…where bombs go off and guns are shot…forgot to prepare her for that…..I have also struggled with the fact that my son-in-law….child #10…one of my gifts…went to war but I did not get this upset….I love Bryon as much as I do my own….. worried bout him the first time he left…I did cry and was scared for him..the next time…I put it out of my mind and knew he would be ok still scared for him….but with Taneah….why am I a basket case….I feel bad….like I was letting Bryon down…I immediately called my daughter NaTasha and apologized for not being as upset/scared when Bryon was deployed…… I didn’t want Bryon ever to think that I loved him less….She said mom he doesn’t think that….we both think kids should be older when they go to war….and Taneah is blood mom…but I said that should not matter….I think it’s because she is a girl…and Bryon can take care of himself….yes, I was sexist for a moment….one of them is very capable of taking care of themselves… the other…is not so capable….immature… really young….lacking life experiences…I have a new understanding for parents who have gone or are going through the same thing as I’m….Not an easy thing….we can not protect our loved ones…..put them in a bubble…send notes telling people who want to kill them to play nice…and learn to get along…..we loose control of being able to protect them what so ever….not easy…extremely hard thing to do as a parent…To all the families that have sent their loved ones to a war zone….My thoughts and prayers are with you….and always have been….Words cannot express what I feel for your pain or what you are feeling….Thank you to all the service men for your sacrifices that you have given…..to protect us….

Twitter Etiquette – NO Automatic DM’s

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This is an ongoing series of blog posts on Twitter Etiquette. My first post, Ten Things Not To Do On Twitter can be a a good starting point for new users and a good reminder for us veteran Twitter users.Twitter and other forms of Social Media is about relationships. Learn it, live it, and love it; or suffer damage to your reputation when you attempt to shorten the time it takes to develop these relationships! One of the quickest ways to torpedo a new social media relationship, before it even has a chance to begin forming? The Automatic DM (Direct Message). Twitter DM’s can be a tool to communicate privately with one of your followers; but it is NOT a method to automatically send your followers information they have not requested!When you receive a new follower, send them a personal tweet, engage them in conversations and ask to learn more about them or their business. Remember, it is about relationships, not initially trying to sell something!Here are some personal favorites; actual DM’s received by me or some of my followers: I just created a new group for you to join, please check out my blog!It is great meeting you, keep smiling and spreading your good cheer! Hey, help spread the word about this link, video, site You know how to use Twitter, check out my site and give me your valued feedbackNo one knows about this, but I have stock tip that you will want to act on nowFor me, any of these types of DM’s will simply cause me to unfollow you!If you want a good tool for reducing the number of Auto DM’s, check out SocialToo; it is a great service and worth checking out.Let me know some of your “favorite” Auto DM’s and don’t be THAT person that abuses a new relationship. [Read more…]