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The Process Of Writing Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 27, 2015
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Let’s get this out of the way first: I’ve just released my newest book on leadership, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, as part of a big package deal of goodies and such, and for the next two weeks that’s the only way it’s going to be sold. If you’re into leadership, or even if you’re only interested in marketing, go see the types of things I’m offering. This is one of the ways of internet marketers these days; instead of just selling one thing, package a bunch of things in there, set a big discount price off its value, and see where it goes. I just launched yesterday, so I have no news to share with you as far as sales and such. :-)

BookCover03

This is my second book on leadership. I finished writing my first one in 2002, Embrace The Lead, which is over there to the left, and in the first link I talked a little bit about the process of writing it. At this link I gave the outline points of the book (it’s on my business blog) in case you’re interested in seeing what it’s all about.

Back to this book. I first thought about putting it together in 2012, after I’d been sitting at home for a long time, making my living as a writer for hire and just feeling kind of bored. At that time I had two newsletters I was writing, one on leadership and one on health care. I gave up the health care newsletter around the time I started thinking about putting the leadership book together and hadn’t thought about giving up the leadership newsletter then, which I eventually did in 2013 before I started traveling again.

My idea… take some of my earliest newsletters and some of my earliest blog posts from my business blog, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this past December, and create a book out of them. I ran the idea by a few people they all liked it, and off I went.

I had a lot of articles to go through on both fronts. Luckily, not every newsletter was specifically on leadership, but I still had to look at all of them, and all of them were in HTML format so I had to keep pulling up files online instead of just keeping articles on my computer; I still haven’t learned that lesson with blog posts. At least the blog posts were fairly easy to go through.

I worked a list of 65 posts down to 31, based on the topics I wanted to show. At that point I actually thought I was 90% done; oh, I was so wrong!

What I discovered, at least on the newsletter, is that my writing style had drastically changed, luckily for the better. My early newsletters were all over the place. I found myself with a nice idea and then spent a lot of time trying to make it a long newsletter instead of getting to a point and then leaving it. These days I call it the “Mozart Principle”; write until you’ve said all you wanted to say.

Now I knew this was going to be a daunting project; or was it? I thought about putting it out the way it was, telling my hoped-for audience that I wanted them to see the progression of my writing from the early days until 2008, which is where I stopped; I figured 5 years worth of articles was enough. I shared it with my buddy Mitchell Allen and he told me what I’d already figured out: if I couldn’t stand to read them what made me think anyone else could stand reading them? Ugh!

Thus, I had plans to rewrite… and then I didn’t… and didn’t…

Blind Date/Just Friends with a Book
Pioneer Library System via Compfight

I just couldn’t get myself to start on it. This was around March 2013 and my mind wasn’t into it. However, it turns out I should have started when I had the chance.

Because in April of 2013 I started negotiating what eventually turned out to be a long term gig in Memphis, TN; 18 months in fact. Suddenly, flying back and forth from New York to Tennessee and then working as I was pushed almost all thoughts of the book into the background.

It sat in Dropbox for a year, then additional months. Every once in a while I’d open it up, change a few words, and close it back up. I was a mess! lol

Then I had an ending date for my gig and realized I had to get back to it. Thus, I finally opened it in early September while I was in Memphis and finally went to work. Man, those early posts were depressing, and I just wanted to write every person who’d ever subscribed to that newsletter and apologize for all those horridly written early newsletters.

In essence, it was like how some people take an article off the internet and rewrite it to make it seem like an original. I didn’t quite have to do that… but the new versions looked nothing like the originals. Heck, two of the articles were so unwieldy that I ended up turning them into two articles, and each one was over 1,000 words.

I finally finished the entire book last November, the first week I was home for good. Luckily, since my style had gotten better, the last 10 or 11 articles hardly needed any work at all; whew! Then it was time for the first edit, then the second edit… I’m not saying it’s perfect even now, but I tried.

When I had it set, then I sent out a request for readers. I had 7 people say they’d read it and let me know if they understood the concepts. This is something I’ve written in the past; if you ever ask people to review something you’ve written tell them what you want them to look at. I didn’t want people arguing with me on my concepts of leadership; I wanted to know if they understood the language I was using, if any sentences were confusing… grammar!

Then I waited… and waited… by New Years Day, all of them had said they would be done. Not one of them got back to me. I followed up with all of them via email; nope, nada zip. Sigh…

What to do? Nothing. I did nothing.

Once again, it was sitting on the computer as I worked on getting my next contract. I had lots of nibbles but wasn’t landing anything. It was another cold winter and I just rolled with it.

A few weeks ago I lost out on another contract that would have paid exquisitely; I was irked. And then I remembered I had the book sitting there in Word and decided it was time to put it out. One night, just before I fell asleep, I remembered an article I read back in 2002 by Paul Myers talking about “thud factor”, that being to pack a lot of related things into a package to show how much value was there, then market it at a price higher than the product would go as a standalone because of all the extra stuff, and at a later date you could offer the product on its own for the normal rate.

Thus, the book package idea was born. The steps…?

62:365 - Concentration
Creative Commons License phil wood photo
via Compfight

First, I ended up having to reformat the book twice because there was some kind of error in the original file. When I tried a trick that normally works, copying the book into Notepad and then into a new Word document… it taunted me for my stupidity. What finally worked was copying each article individually into Notepad and then copying the entire thing into another Word document.

Then I had to reformat the entire thing, but I’d messed up and forgotten what I’d done the first time around. Suddenly, the book went from 157 pages down to 127 pages, and I couldn’t tell you how. Still, I printed a few pages to see what it looked like in print, because at some point I hope to have it in print also, and it looked… like a book. :-)

I don’t want to tell you everything that’s in the package because I want you to go check out the product page. However, I put all the files into one folder so I could compress them into a .zip file. That bad boy still came out to 442MB; ouch! But it’s the best I could do; value is big!

Next, I had to write the sales copy. I wrote 3 different versions of it, then ran it by my friend Kelvin because he had some knowledge of how to market via sales copy. He made a few suggestions, I implemented them, then created the sales page, coding the entire thing; yeah, some of us still write code.

Next, I tried to get it to fit under Google’s stupid mobile friendly rules… oy! I spent about 90 minutes on that, going back and forth with numbers. At one point it looked like it was pretty close to Google’s standard on mobile but it looked horrible on a browser. That wasn’t going to work for me so I decided to just format it so it looked good to me. I got that, and when I checked Google gave me 87 out of 100 for user experience and 97 out of 100 for speed; good enough for government work.

Once I set up Paypal, which also meant creating a “thank you” page with a link so people could download the file, I was set. All I had to do was wait until my business blog’s post went live Tuesday; whew!

I’ll save how I’ve worked on marketing it for the next post, which will probably be on Friday. Normally I only have two posts a week but since this is for a special event you’re getting three; how special you must feel! 😀 I hope you’ve stuck around to read this, and I hope you check out the product page. More on Friday!
 

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My Top 10 WordPress Plugin Recommendations

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 25, 2015
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I actually received an email asking me to write on this topic, which is a first. The request was more for what I use to stay productive or what I use for financial purposes though. I don’t use any of that stuff for the blog, so those won’t be things what I talk about. Instead, I’m going to mention 10 plugins I don’t think I could do without, some of which I believe you should be using also.

Fire Hazard
Lady_K via Compfight

1. Ajax Edit Comments. Let’s face it, no one’s perfect. Sometimes you make a mistake of some kind while writing your comment. This plugin allows people to edit and correct their comments within 5 minutes. If it took you longer than that to figure out you made an error, unless you left a truly epic comment, you’re out of luck.

2. All In One SEO Pack. Everyone has their favorite SEO plugin but I’ve stuck with this one. I used to hate it but I figured out how to configure it to give me what I want. The best feature is being able to write a description in if you don’t want the search engines posting the first so many words of your blog post instead.

3. Anti-Backlink. I wrote about this one so if you want to know a lot more you can follow the link. What it does is give you tools to approve or disapprove people for a variety of reasons (if your comment doesn’t immediately show up and you don’t have a gravatar, it’s because of this one).

4. CommentLuv. I have the premium version, which is the only way you can get Anti-Backlink. Whether you decide to pay for it or not, its best feature is showing current or previous blog posts of your commenters. It’s what helps folks, including myself, decide whether we want to visit those blogs to read what the writer has to say.

5. Compfight. This is what I use to find images for my blogs if I’m not using my own. You just put a word into the search area and it’ll find images you can legally use via Flickr. You also get to change the default settings for image sizes, and if you know a little bit of code, you can add your own (which of course I did lol).

6. Limit Login Attempts. You know hackers are always trying to get into your blog right? It’s one reason why it’s always recommended that you change your admin name and have long passwords. This plugin allows you to set how many times a person gets to try to get in before it shuts it down for however many hours you set it for. Also, after so many sessions you can shut it down for… well, 999 hours if you wish. Sure, they might have it automated, but even with that it’ll take them forever to get in, even if your username and passwords are weak.

7. Simple Share Buttons Adder. You need to have share buttons on your blog to make it easy for people to share your stuff. After AddThis decided to go wonky and make you create an account on their site (so they can charge you for stuff later on) I found this one and it’s perfect. You can even customize how it looks.

8. WebReader for Word Press. You see that little “listen” button at the top left of this post? That allows you to listen to the post instead of reading it. It’s not perfect and yet I know some people like to listen instead of read, especially if it’s a long post.

9. WordPress Firewall 2. Using a firewall for your blog is the same as having one for your computer. It helps hide your blog’s IP address from those folks so that they might never find you to try to hack into your computer in the first place. There are a couple of versions of this that read close to the same, but I’m using the version created by Matthew Pavkov.

10. WPtouch Mobile Plugin. You’ve heard that Google is now looking for websites to be mobile friendly correct? This plugin does the trick. If you don’t change a thing just adding it makes your blog pass muster. There are a few font choices you can make, but it turns out a couple of them takes you out of their good graces.
 

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Keeper Security

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 21, 2015
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Okay, I’ll own up to this; I have a massive password file on my computer. Sure, we’re not supposed to do that but come on, how the heck am I supposed to remember every single password from just about 20 years on the internet?

Keeper

Smartphones are a bit different though. Sure, I could upload my password file via either Evernote or Dropbox, but I’m not quite that trusting of it. Not only that, but I don’t need every single password on my phone. I do need certain passwords though, such as when I go to restaurants that have wi-fi and I don’t want to keep asking them what the password is.

Keeper is a smartphone app for, I believe, every type of smartphone that’s out there. What it allows you to do is put all of your passwords in it and then you only have to memorize one overall password to open the program up. If you pay for it, which is only $9 or so a year, you can add the application to any of your other laptops, tablets or computers and sync the information so that no matter what you’re carrying around with you, so that you can use each item to add passwords.

I have to admit that I think it’s pretty fantastic, but there are a couple of small downsides. For one, you must, and I stress MUST, remember your password to Keeper. If you forget that you only get 5 shots at getting in. At that point it disables your account and erases everything; ouch!

You also need to make sure that, if you’re deciding to change email addresses, you get in there and update the email address before you change up. It’s not something most people would think about since, once you have the app on your smartphone, you’d ever have to deal with. So far I’m lucky to still be able to get into my app without it asking me for an email address; whew!

Anyway, not only do I recommend this app for your phone, but look, I can write a short post! :-)
 

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Capturing Email Addresses – I’m Almost On Board

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 18, 2015
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In January 2014 I wrote a post titled To Capture Or Not Capture Email Addresses; That Is The Question. As the title suggests, I was looking for a compelling reason to start capturing email addresses, beyond the old saw “the money is in the list”. As the comments on that post indicated, only one person was making any real money from having a list.

where its at
Creative Commons License Chris Preen via Compfight

My major lament about it all was I had nothing tangible to sell, thus what would the purpose be? After all, without a product there’s no money to make right?

Well, it’s 16 months later, and now I’m closer to going the route of capturing email addresses. Why?

Two reasons.

The first is that one of the thoughts from last year, the only one that broke through my mind, was the possibility that RSS feeds might go away. Even though there’s been no more talk (at least as far as I know) that Feedburner will be shut down by Google, since they’ve been shutting down lots of other stuff one never knows what they might do.

I love RSS for my own use and I’m sure lots of other people do also. However, I know some people, out of fear, have gone to something called Feedly, while others have started using Flipboard. I’m using Flipboard myself, but I’ve only connected 3 blogs to it, one a local sports blog that shows up in my general feed, while the others I have to specifically go to.

What am I also worried about? At one point I had nearly 400 people subscribed to this blog. Now it’s down to 151, and I have no idea whether they’re subscribed to the RSS feed or the email feed, mainly because I can’t find that one on Feedburner anymore. I do know that most of those who used to subscribe did so through the RSS link.

Thus, having the ability to capture email addresses might be the smart thing to do to make sure people will continue receiving my stuff… if they want it.

The second is that I’m about to not only have a couple of new products, but I’m going to be doing a massive push for sales of the two products, and starting to capture email addresses wouldn’t hurt the process long term, especially since, if it turns out to be successful, I might be doing more of this type of thing.

Still, I want to differentiate the email from what most people send out. My thoughts are that I would send out an email once a week highlighting every post I’ve put on on all my blogs, any videos I’ve created, any interviews I’ve given, and have a brief thought of my own on there that’s not anywhere else. I don’t know many other people who could claim to offer that much information weekly.

Of course, the issue might be deciding what type of original thought to share. Having multiple blogs gives me multiple topics to discuss, but will the people who subscribed through this blog care about leadership? Will the people who subscribe through my business blog care about finances? Details, details…

I haven’t solidified all the details yet but now that I’m close I’m ready to ask some of you what you think about it all. Remember though… just because you offer advice doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily take it. lol I say that because I’m expecting some of the opinions are going to counter each other, and I’m smart enough to know it’s pure folly to try to appease everyone.

By the way, if I do this thing I found a WordPress plugin that looks like it’d be up to the job. It’s called WE Email Capture, and it sets up a double opt-in process to make sure no one’s subscribing someone else just to be sneaky. After that… I’ll figure out how to send out my newsletters, which will initially probably be manual since I don’t expect a major run early on.

That’s all I have for now; your thoughts on it all?
 

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Try Not To Take Things Personally

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 14, 2015
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Back in 2011 I wrote a post titled Taking Twitter Unfollows Too Personally. In that article, I talked about the strange reaction Chris Brogan received when he decided to unfollow all the people he’d been connected to, even though his reasoning was pretty just at the time. I was pretty amazed that all those people took it personally, even though he wrote about it to explain what he was doing.

Amnesty 20p books - 2
Caroline via Compfight

You know what? I’m going to admit that there are times when I struggle with not taking things personally. Sure, sometimes things do get personal, and in those instances you have to deal with it directly in some fashion; my favorite way, at least on social media, is to block people so I don’t have to bother with them anymore. It keeps me from saying something rude or from escalating things to an extreme.

Every once in a while I stay calm and try to diffuse a situation, especially when I don’t really know the people I’m suddenly in conflict with. For instance, last October I got into a confrontation with a couple of millennials about something called Gamergate. I let them fuss and fume, called them on a couple of things they said, let them calm down and then had a nice conversation with them that ended well. I could have really gone off the deep end but in that case I felt it was better to see if I could find a way to talk to them instead.

Of course I could bring things closer to home by talking about people I know. In at least 3 cases now I’ve asked people if I could interview them, only to see them do their first interviews with someone else. Each person started off with something like “I’d be too nervous to do an interview” or “I don’t know what I’d say”. Each of them I pursued more than a couple of years. Eventually, well, I already stated what happened.

Now, I could take it personally, wonder what I might have done, wondered if I wasn’t as compelling a person to be interviewed by them and sulked. Truthfully, I did sulk briefly each time I found out about it. Then I moved on; after all, I’ve interviewed a good number of people anyway, including one of the people I’ve talked about above.

One of those things we all have to learn sometimes is that it’s not always about us. Sometimes it’s timing. Sometimes a person is having a bad day and decides to take it out on you. Just last week I was having a conversation with a guy on Twitter about something and he said he was tired of being called a racist. I said I hadn’t called him one. He looked back through his stream, saw that I hadn’t (I hadn’t even come close lol), and apologized for his overreaction. His assumption that, based on what he was saying at the time, was that I was going to call him one, which was strange because I’d began the conversation by saying I agreed with him on something. lol

It’s hard enough in one’s real life to not take everything personally. It can be harder on social media, especially since we can’t always see someone’s facial expressions and, let’s face it, the English language is so goofy that you can look at a sentence and take it many different ways sometimes, depending on how you’re reading it at the time (proper punctuation might help; just a suggestion…).

In any case, give it a shot and see if it makes you feel better and helps you communicate better online. Meanwhile, check out the video below, where I had something happen last year that irked me so much that I had to wonder if some people just aren’t meant for social media; lates!
 


https://youtu.be/dA6uaLsEJNE

 

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