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Why I Need To Go To A Blogging While Brown Conference

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jul 11, 2016

I’d like to share a couple of mentions I got this week, both on the same day. The first was from a post by my buddy Steve Borek, who credits me for convincing him to start blogging, titled The First Step Is The Hardest To Take. The second is from Ileane Smith‘s site Basic Blog Tips, where Lisa Sicard wrote a compilation piece based on advice as to why Twitter is great for marketing titled Twitter For Blogging – 15 Reasons It’s Proven Powerful. Go check them both out, as both articles are excellent.

Street art: 1968 Olympics Black Power (human rights) salute
Melbourne Streets Avant-garde
via Compfight

This coming weekend I’ll be going to my first ever non-medical billing conference. It’s called the Blogging While Brown, and it’s a conference for people of color who blog, this year being held in Washington D.C. I’m hoping it’s a lot of fun and educational at the same time, and my buddy Yasmin Shiraz is the only person I definitely know who’s going to be there.

Some of you might ask why there’s a need for a specific conference for people of color. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be one with each other?

Actually, that would be very nice, but unfortunately it’s still pretty much a pipe dream in America. This past week was more proof that there’s a problem with race and that each side blames the other, to the point that I’ve changed my overall outlook on life as I know it and can’t see any time in the near future where we’re all going to get along with each other.

This isn’t a new thought that’s just come to me. After all, I wrote this post back in April on my business blog and created the video below yesterday:


https://youtu.be/HuJM0v5TQtY

I also created this video in April asking if we could all get along… y’all know that answer…


https://youtu.be/KBo2AFW47kI

I took a tough position on the blog post and kind of a tough position in the second video but not in the first. With the second video I took the position where I said that if we ever hope to overcome the issues we have with race, the police and anything else we can’t agree on we’re going to have to sit down and have a legitimate conversation with each other.

I’m of the opinion that there are really only two ways to solve issues permanently; one is by talking to each other, the other is by totally eliminating every single person who’s unwilling to try to find common ground so all that’s left is a lot of people who agree with each other. However, I’m thinking that second idea is fairly problematic, probably unattainable, and pretty much horrific so I’ll stick with the talking option. 🙂

Unfortunately I don’t see it happening any time soon. I’ve had to block or move a lot of people around who don’t seem to understand the issues or feelings of people like me. People who want to blame President Obama for a mess that’s been going on for almost 400 years are clueless. People who want to blame the Black Lives Movement are clueless. People who want to post stuff like All Lives Matter are pollyanna.

I know the question those who visit this blog want to ask; what’s this got to do with blogging or social media? Everything!

The posts of mine that get the fewest views or comments on my business blog are those that talk about race or diversity issues. Unless I’m addressing freedom of speech, the articles on this blog that get the least amount of traffic are those on social issues. I know few people who write on topics like these when mixed with other topics like those I write about. I’m kind of an anomaly; as if y’all didn’t already know that.

I’m not close to the radical some people might think I am. What I am is someone with a social conscious on a few issues that I feel the need to bring up from time to time. True, it might not necessarily always be good for business, but if that’s the only thing you care about then you’re not really a blogger but an entrepreneur.

Nothing wrong with that because not everyone is expected to stand up for something they believe in. After all, if you don’t stand up for something you’ll fall for anything, and it’ll probably be something negative.

Mark
Christoph Boecken via Compfight

That’s why I’m going to this conference. I don’t expect the topics to have all that much to do with race and I’m good with that; heck, I might be elated if none of it comes up. I’m even expecting to find people who don’t agree with a lot of other things I happen to like.

What I do know is that, for once, I won’t be an “only” at a conference, or one of the “chosen few” who shows up and spends most of my time alone because I didn’t fit in. Sometimes you just want to feel as though you’re part of a crowd where you actually possibly belong.

Four and a half years ago I started a series that I ran for 19 Fridays in a row called Black Web Friday. My intention was to bring websites and blogs that were created and written by black people into the public conscious because I’d been to too many sites that talked about the top 25, 50 or 100 whatever and never seen a single black face on the page. When I asked one writer about it she said ‘I don’t know any black bloggers.”

I felt it was important then to try to help bring some publicity to people who deserved it. I still think it’s important to do while acknowledging that it’s more difficult to find these days. Goodness, it’s difficult to find people in general who are creating new content on their own; even I can’t find that many anymore, which is another great reason to go to this conference.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, I first want to thank you for that. However, I’d like to ask a favor of you, if I may. If you know of any black bloggers you’ve found on your own, please share their name and link in the comment section of this post.

I have to warn you, if you post a link like you normally would your comment is going to spam. Please leave off the “http://www” part of the link so you won’t go to spam, because I think my program sometimes totally bounces some folk who try to post a full link. I’m curious to see who others might put down who I might not already know or who I might not have highlighted before. This could be an interesting experiment; I’ll hope to be pleasantly pleased. 🙂

If you don’t know any don’t fret; I’m sure I’ll be able to share a lot of names and folk with you after I get back next weekend. In the meantime, let’s try to be nice to each other for a while… please?
 

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Memorial Day, The News And Social Media

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 30, 2016

Even though I usually have a post on this blog every Monday, it turns out to be six years since I wrote anything related to Memorial Day, and even that post I had go live on a Sunday; that’s a shame!

Mom and Dad
Mom & Dad

For those who aren’t familiar with this particular American holiday, it’s always the last Monday of May and it’s a day dedicated to the memory of those who’ve given their lives in service to this country. It actually started out as a way to honor Union troops after the Civil War, then the Confederates got into it, and finally it became an overall holiday for all American troops in 1971.

The amazing thing about the Mitchell side of the family is that, though a lot of my relatives went into the service, not a single one ever lost his life though, to be fair, only 2 of my relatives were ever in war. That would be a cousin of mine who was in Vietnam and of course my dad, who was in both Korea and Vietnam.

You know, I’m one of those people who tends to believe that there are some things where everyone “has to” agree on the premise of something and the reason to honor someone. Memorial Day is one of those days because, in my opinion, without those people giving up their lives we wouldn’t have the life we have today. Sure, everything’s not perfect, but I can honestly say that I can’t think of another place I’d want to live in this world and I’m proud to be an American… and I’d hope others would be proud of living where they live.

Yet, because this country perceives itself to be free and diverse, we have people who go out of their way to go against the grain and either make trouble or say things that, in my opinion, are disrespectful. This past weekend’s new about memorial crosses damaged in 3 states is a perfect example of people going above and beyond protocol to be disruptive and show a major lack of class.

Not only that, but I’ve read commentary in some places where some people are saying that anyone who gives their life for this country got what they deserved… are you kidding me? To be against war is one thing; to say that people deserved what they got for protecting their country, especially these days with terrorism… unconscionable!

Luckily for me, it seems that 97% of the populace seems to be ready to honor our soldiers the way they deserve, and I can live with that. One of those things I try to tell people about social media is that it draws all types, but we need to figure out how to only absorb the good and try to get away from the bad as quickly as possible. It’s one reason I’ve sculpted my Facebook page to the degree I have and why I’ve been working on doing the same with LinkedIn lately.

I’m of two opinions when it comes to social media and free speech.

The first is that you can have free speech if you’re willing to deal with the consequences.

The second is that just because someone has the right to free speech doesn’t mean I have to listen to it, let alone have them in my life.

We all get to make choices in our life that will either positively impact us or negatively impact others. In the United States, we got those choices because a great many of soldiers, some willingly, others unwillingly, gave their lives on the battlefield so we can enjoy a lot of the liberties we probably take for granted.

If you know me or have read this blog or my business blog you know that I fully feel that this country isn’t always fair and equal, especially when it comes to minorities. But everyone’s equal in a military cemetery; it’s not something I’ve ever looked forward to but it explains why I feel those men and women deserve being honored no matter what.

This is my tribute to those brave soldiers of all wars the United States has participated in. Thank you for your service.
 

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Inequality – Blog Action Day #Blogactionday

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 16, 2014

We have another Blog Action Day upon us, one where I get to share in my little space my opinion or story about the main topic of the day. I hope some of you are writing and participating as well on this day, though I know it’s not going to come true because it never has before. Oh well…

155x250bad14bloggerbadge

Today the topic is inequality; where do I begin? There’s so much of it and so many levels of it that if I tried tackling it all I’d either go nuts or wouldn’t be able to finish writing this at all. And since some of my posts are overwhelmingly large I don’t think we want that for this one.

The thing about inequality is that, for the most part, it’s not the majority that’s actually in charge. When first reading that it might look strange until you remember that the top 1% as far as wealth is concerned has more wealth than the combined wealth of the remaining 99%.

What this means is that if I just said, as I could, that white people have all the money and all the benefits in this country, I’d be wrong. Some of the poorest people in this country are white. Poverty doesn’t know color, it only knows inequality and limited options for getting out of it.

It also knows limits apply to women, who are 54% of the population and yet make 68% of what men make (or something around that figure; it’s always changing but it’s still low), which, though higher than minorities across the board, still isn’t fair.

And it’s not just in this country. Every single country has the same thing going on, where the elite are drastically in the minority but have all the power. Some might think that politics could change that but when it comes to who gets in office in those positions that really matter it’s all about money. The number of people in every country who are in top positions are all rich. In the United States, I don’t think there’s a single senator now who’s not a millionaire, or pretty close to one. You just can’t get there nowadays without lots of money. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere else, even in Communist countries.

There’s even inequality when you look at the critical jobs that our countries need and the money they make, although there’s really nothing one can do about that and, overall, I don’t have a major issue with it for reasons I won’t get into here. Law enforcement, teachers, people in the military, fire fighters… find a position that’s critical and also needs a lot of people and you’re going to find low pay and long hours and no possibility of getting it all done, let alone getting it all done properly.

For once I’m not sharing a story from my own life, although it would be easy to do. Have I seen it? Yup. Have I experienced it? Yup. So I could go down that road. Instead, I’d like to offer 3 ways to try to end inequality, which will never happen but I can dream right? Here we go:

Clampdown, We are the 99% (27 of 27)
Glenn Halog via Compfight

1. Level the playing field. What the world needs is more fairness, not necessarily equality. In essence, people need to get the same education, have the same chances at jobs, and have the same possibilities to live a better life. How does one do that? Raise the poverty level to a living wage, more training programs so more people have skills that don’t require full school educations, still work on creating better education based on real world needs for the majority of people and of course feed the poor so it’s one less thing they have to worry about. All this costs money, lots of it; ain’t happening is it?

2. Put a cap on yearly wealth for individuals and spread it around to others. This isn’t me hating on anyone but does any one person really need to be earning $10 billion dollars a year? For that matter how about $500 million a year? Put a cap on wealth with the caveat that if anyone reaches that cap and the rest is distributed, that person doesn’t pay any state or federal taxes, and if they use any of their faithfully earned income towards charitable causes they still qualify for refunds. What cap would I put on? No idea, though it would still be pretty high, and it doesn’t matter because it’s not happening.

3. Any company that has a salary difference between men and women or the majority within a country and its minority population of more than 15% has 3 years to reduce that or gets fined heavily, with half of that money going to the disenfranchised within the company and the rest to the country to fund diversity programs or things such as feeding the poor, funding bad schools, etc. And those fines have to be heavy so it behooves companies to get it done. I would make slight allowances for companies that employ a lot of mothers if they create daycare with medical benefits so that a big chunk of their income isn’t going to pay for those things.

As I said, none of this will happen, and I’m not even sure if it’s feasible, but it would go a long way towards reducing inequality all around the world. For now, I’ll say that I hope more people will do their part with the people they know and those they don’t know that live in their community to see what they can do to help. I’m on the board of an organization that works to protect the rights of the disabled and helps them live independently; that’s how I help, as it’s a group that definitely suffers from inequality in a major way.

What are you doing to help?
 

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Your Speech Is Free, But Consequences Aren’t

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 6, 2014

Brendan, Brendan, Brendan… gone so soon after rising so high… I guess stupidity can follow someone long into their future can’t it?

For those of you who aren’t up to speed, a couple of weeks ago Mozilla, the company that puts out Firefox (my favorite browser by the way), promoted Brendan Eich to the CEO position. In 11 days he was gone, the victim of what I’m going to say is public stupidity in giving money to support the California proposition against gay marriage back in 2008. The uproar was immediate I guess because, being out of the news loop as I sometimes am, I didn’t know it had occurred until the day he’d resigned.

Free speech
Creative Commons License Loozrboy via Compfight

Of all things, I came to the news because of a press release someone put on on a dating site called OKCupid that I saw on Twitter (yes, one of my favorite news sources) trying not to take credit for promoting the initial protest against the hire (but the gloating was obvious) and then reading that not only were a lot of people up in arms about the hire but many people within the company were as well. And the statement made by the head of the board certainly didn’t sound like the normal company speak lines of “We’re sorry to see _____ go…”, instead coming out like “We were wrong, and thanks for helping us see the light.”

What was interesting is that the people who normally could have cared less about anything that happened in tech that believed as Eich did came out saying that this was a clear violation of free speech and that it was setting a dangerous precedent. That once again I felt it was time to straighten everyone out about our free speech laws in this country shows that folks aren’t paying attention to either myself or what’s really going on. I touched upon the topic of being controversial in 2011 and early in 2012 when I talked about the courage it takes to be in social media, and Holly & I touched on the topic when I interviewed her later in 2012, which means I haven’t talked about it in more tha 18 months; my bad. So, let’s get this clear once more, since it really can’t be stated enough times.

In the United States, everyone has the right to express their opinion. What everyone doesn’t have a right to do is state their opinion and not have someone else disagree with it if they choose to. It’s the reason why so many people can love the movie Frozen (count me in) and a few can say they think it’s overrated. It’s the reason why so many young girls love Justin Bieber to the end of the world and others hate his guts (I don’t have an opinion either way).

What everyone has to realize is that, as I stated in the “controversy” article, if you’re strong enough to stand behind your convictions, say whatever you want to say and deal with whatever the consequences might be later on. If your opinions keep you from getting a job later on because they’re counter to what that particular employer wants to deal with, so be it.

Sorry kids, but that’s not the same thing as discrimination, where you don’t hire someone for what they are. No one asked to be black or female or gay or disabled or bald or heavy or… name something.

When we decide to say whatever we want to say, if it’s going to irk someone it could impact your life; that’s just how it goes. I take stands on things all the time, but I try to word my missives in a way that they’re not specifically insulting to anyone. If they take offense I’m ready to deal with it. But I don’t have masses of people hating on me because I’m not stupid.

King Mango Strut 2013, Coconut Grove, Miami, FL (27 of 75)
photo-gator via Compfight

What’s stupid? When you can donate money to a cause you know might hurt you later on and don’t do it anonymously, doing it so you can write it off in your taxes which, if you’re a public official or a public CEO, are allowed to be seen by anyone. Brandon, really?

Here’s a bit of family history. My grandfather was a registered Republican for a major part of his life. He never voted for a single Republican in his entire life. He owned an auto repair shop in a Republican city and knew he’d never get any business if he’d registered as a Democrat. So he did what he had to do to survive, kept his mouth shut even amongst his friends, and voted his conscience. He wasn’t ready to be controversial until he shut down his business, and no one was the wiser until he had nothing to worry about. Freedom of speech? In his day, even with the Constitution? Please!

Freedom of speech is a legal reality; freedom of consequences is a true reality. If you’re big enough or important enough or passionate enough of stupid enough (Facebook drunk pictures; really folks?), those things can come back to hurt you. I know someone who literally changed her name and waited a year for it to sink in so she could start applying for jobs under that name, in hopes that her political views under her other name would become obscure, as she is a liberal fireball but lives in a conservative area. How many of you would want to go through something like that?

Let’s not be too timid to have an opinion but let’s also not be naive. We all know when we’re about to say something on purpose that someone else might not like. If you don’t want to deal with the potential heat then don’t say it. If you can deal with it, and you’ve thought about your future, then go ahead.

Still, as the video below will prove, I believe there are times when you must speak your piece; it’s just how I roll:
 


http://youtu.be/x7MGr36qXYI

 

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Blog Action Day 2013 – Human Rights

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 16, 2013

Today is Blog Action Day, an event that I’ve participated in a few times over the years and one that I’m having a say on once again this year. The only thing I won’t be doing this year is helping to promote the event on Twitter because by the time this posts I’ll be in a board meeting at a convention in New Orleans, hoping there will be something for me to eat.


Courtesy of
www.blogactionday.org

In previous years, the topics I participated on were poverty, food and the power of “we” on this blog, and also addressing poverty and food on my business blog. This year I’m only writing on this blog, and the subject is human rights.

This is a much different topic to address than in previous years because anything that personally touches me is more through anecdotal items than personal history. Even though I was born in the south in 1959, when Jim Crow laws were still in effect and outside of the military base my parents had to look for “colored” whenever they wanted water or a bathroom or places to eat but being young I don’t remember that. I don’t remember when my parents had to drive through some states or pull over to the side of the road to catch some sleep because there were hotels where black people weren’t allowed to stay. Sure, I had some incidences when I was a little younger of being pulled over without knowing why, but could I prove that my human rights had been violated? Nope, and I was never arrested and always allowed to move on.

Is there still racism? Absolutely, to the extent that even now in the 2010’s there have to be resolutions in Congress to extend the Voting Rights Act; are you kidding me? Also, there’s never been any movement in passing a rights bill for women and, oh, the commotion in passing one for gender rights. At least the government finally saw fit to pay for past discrimination against Asian Americans, black and Latino farmers, and some native American communities, but there’s still so far to go.

And yet, this isn’t an issue that only involves America. This past week we had the story of Malala, a Pakistani girl who only wanted to get an education and was shot by the Taliban for it because she’s female. We’ve heard stories of rapes and acid being thrown in the faces of young women for trying to learn; can you imagine?

We hear of stories of rape in countries like India and South Africa, and legal punishments against women in places like Saudi Arabia and many other countries too numerous too mention because men decide that women aren’t really people, per se, less than human, thus they get raped and then go to jail for enticing men; wow…

We hear of countries like Syria unleashing poisonous gas on its own citizens and are reminded that Slobodan Milošević did the same thing against his own people back in the 90’s and that Saddam Hussein also engaged in the practice. These days we know all the bad things the Taliban and Al Qaeda do against anyone who’s not them and doesn’t believe as they do, all in the name of “religion”; phooey! For that matter we might as well group the people in this country who hide behind religion to abuse and disavow rights to those who aren’t like them; just because they’re not carrying bombs around doesn’t give them a free pass.

Where I linked above when I mentioned human rights is what’s called the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, which has 30 points of view that they’re calling articles that they believe should be incorporated by the United Nations to protect the human rights of people around the world. All of them are equally good, but for me #3 stands out, and it’s the one I’m closing this article on, and hope all of you believe as I do:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
 

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