Determine Who And What You Are Regardless Of Others

May I talk about myself as a leadership trainer and mentor for a minute?

Those of you who know me know that I write a blog on the subject of leadership and other things I believe are associated with leadership. I’ve been writing that blog for since 2005, and I’m getting close to 1,400 articles there. I’ve written two books on the subject of leadership, and I’ve spoken in 9 states, 8 of them on the subject of leadership, though sometimes mixed with another subject.


Susan Ackeridge via Compfight

Anyway, three different things happened this week, all in the space of 48 hours. The first one is the last one. Someone reached out to me on LinkedIn to announce a new list highlighting top people who write about leadership. The message wasn’t necessarily something I was expecting:

By the way, your excellent blog is not on the list because you write so eclectically on subjects other than leadership – I enjoy reading you though.

The second, which is actually the first, was having a podcast on leadership I actually was interviewed for by my buddy Jesan Sorrells go live; yay!

The third, which was actually the second, came from reading an article titled A Simple 3 Step Process to Win Your Readers’ Hearts written by a guy named Jason Quay. In that article, his first recommendation was to find out who your top competitors are by going to Google and putting in a search term like “top xxxxx blogs” to see where, or if, you have any standing in that realm, because it helps you figure out the audience you want to target if you have a specific niche.

I decided to give that one a try, although I had some trepidation. I went to Google and types in “top leadership blogs”, only expecting to be on one list that I already knew about. On a blog by Charles Specht, the one I knew, I’m ranked at #35; I’m thinking that’s pretty good. On a website called Blog Metrics I’m listed in position #56. On a website called Noop.NL I’m ranked at #58. Finally, on the website of the Center for Management and Organizational Effectiveness I’m ranked at #90.

If I may, let me take a moment for myself. πŸ™‚

That’s pretty cool if you ask me. It’s as cool as being listed on Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop site (now defunct) under the leadership category. So, I do get some props here and there.

Huge turnout for apprenticeship event

Hartlepool College via Compfight

I then decided to try to see where I stood in the worlds of blogging and social media. Turns out there are few sites that actually track that type of thing these days. Many of the lists I found were purely arbitrary, based on what the author liked rather than having any criteria. I also decided to check out the main topics of my other blog because I was on a roll. My local blog came in at #7; not that Syracuse has tons of bloggers putting out a lot of content. lol

You know what? Seeing your work being listed among a number of those you consider as your peers is kind of uplifting. It feels like a validation of your work and words, and it’s hard not to feel good if and when you see it.

It’s also fairly meaningless. Whereas I’ve often said on this blog that my goal was to end up on someone’s top 50 list every once in a while, when all is said and done it’s not going to do anything for me other than allow me to have some bragging rights.

Very few people get much of a bounce because they’re on some kind of list. Where the bounce comes from is in doing the work and having your audience recognize you for it. Whether it’s views or rankings or sales, other types of recognition end up being way more important to your overall success.

When the conversation moves to the topic of niche blogging, I’ve always warned people that having a niche being too finite might harm them in the long run. I’ve always thought it was better to be grounded more in the overall topic and things that are a part of it because it’s easier to find inspiration to write about rather than finding yourself in a corner with nothing to say.

Let’s look back at my leadership blog for a quick minute.

Out of nearly 1,400 articles, 475 have specifically been on leadership.

In my book Embrace The Lead, I mentioned that any good leader always addresses the topic of diversity, something I’m very big on. On my blog I’ve written 177 articles specifically about diversity.

I also talked about learning how to communicate with employees and co-workers because that’s also pretty important; I’ve written on that specific topic 52 times.

Customer service; who works in any industry where customer service isn’t considered important? Who doesn’t believe good customer service comes directly from leadership? I’ve written specifically on that topic 82 times.

Start up Teamwork Strategy Development Equipment Concept

@GwynethJones – The Daring Librarian!
via Compfight

I’ve addressed employee issues, both talking to those who are employees and those who are in leadership because the two are intertwined; wouldn’t you agree? That consists of 22 specific articles.

Finally, motivation; heck, I write about motivation on at 2 of my blogs but let’s talk about the leadership blog for the moment. I also wrote in my book that it’s up to leadership to find ways to keep employees both trained properly and motivated to do the work they do because it all ultimately falls on the head of leadership. If you work for someone else wouldn’t you like to work with someone who empowers you, motivates you, and helps you succeed? I do, which is why I’ve specifically written on that 213 times.

By my count that comes to around 1,000 articles that concern the topic of leadership. That’s 75% of all articles on that blog; not bad if you ask me.

Let’s look at this blog now. With almost 1,800 posts here (ouch!), even though I say that I’ll write on anything I want to, I try to stick to certain topics for the most part.

Blogging is my baby; that comes to 550 article.

Writing is a major part of blogging, wouldn’t you say? That’s 62.

Social media? Are you kidding? That comes to 185.

Motivation; what, again? Wouldn’t you agree that motivation is a big part of writing and blogging and, to a small degree doing things on social media? That comes to 87 .

Making money blogging, which I have as its own category; that’s at 48.

Advertising or marketing online; another 157.

SEO; 29.

Internet issues, 121.

If I stop there, that comes to 1,239, or 81% on my core topics over the course of just over 12 years. Maybe not as finitely niched as some folks might like but I feel I could match up with anyone when it comes to output and pretty much staying on a related topic.

You might be asking yourself (if you’ve made it this far) “Where’s all of this going?”

The first place it’s going is in the direction of talking about value, or more specifically your value, how you see your value and how you get others to see your value. This piece is better addressed in one of my videos… of course lol:

The second is in the direction of perception: how you see yourself, how you want others to see you, how others see you and how much you care about any of these things. Did you read my rant post about 31 mistakes people make blogging and in social media? Every one of those points was about perception. Yet none of them were indications of the success or lack thereof about any person or organization.

The reason was, just because I dislike something and want to see people be better, doesn’t mean I get to determine anything else about them as it applies to what they do except for the parts that specifically bother me. Out of those 31 points, the only one that I’ve acted on personally is the one about popups because it’s the only one that actually affects what I want to do.

Even with that, I figure that it’s not up to me to determine how I see those folks; it’s up to them to determine how they wish to be seen. If they’re successful then they are; if they’re not, then they’re not.

The same goes for all of us. It’s nice being recognized. It’s great having people talk to us, share what we write, agree when they want or disagree and still be friendly about it. It’s wonderful seeing advice that we can get behind, whether we act on it or not.

Just like I’ve said about Google and SEO on this blog, I’ll say about everything else. You’ve got to be you; you’ve got to care about you first. If you care too much about the niche, too much about your presence, too much about how others are perceiving you and not about working towards either being successful or happy, then everything suffers… and I mean everything!

I’m not saying don’t learn new things. I’m not saying to never change. What I’m saying is that if you’re going to obsess about anything spend the time on obsessing about you and the goodness you can bring to the world and your life.

If you do that, good things and success will come your way. Hmmm… I guess this turned out to be a motivational post after all; what do y’all have to say? πŸ˜‰

18 thoughts on “Determine Who And What You Are Regardless Of Others”

  1. That is a interesting article to see, Mitch.
    I would have to say that this post has given me the second thought to analyze myself and where I am going.

  2. I totally agree with you Mitch. You need to show you’re human and being human, you will be talking about what you love and not what others like.

    Some will disagree and some will go with what you said but at the end of the day, you’re just showing the real you in a virtual environment.

    1. Thanks for your comment Marlon; you totally “get it”. It’s nice having accolades and it’s nice working towards establishing a certain niche… but only if you don’t lose your own essence and are doing it because you want to.

      1. @Mitch Mitchell, Well said. Honestly, I’m waiting for the other one to comment. You had a pretty long conversation via replies the last time. lol πŸ™‚

  3. A lot of good stuff here as usual. Yes it’s great to be recognized, but if you make that your sole or primary goal, you’re are the mercy of others. Good luck there.

    On your video, you talk about value and I agree, it boils down to valuing yourself. I am thinking back at the couple of gigs that I did recently where I accepted less than I normally expect. Once because I failed to explain the value and once because, well, she was a friends daughter who hired me for her daughter’s 2nd birthday, and I remember when I was invited to her first birthday. The mother’s, not the daughter’s.

    Anyway, you say on the video, let me know what you think. How? Where? There may be others who are technically challenged just like me. BTW, I was watching on my phone.

    1. Rasheed,

      When you watch videos on your phone, if you’re actually on YouTube then you can scroll down & leave a message there. When you watch a video on a blog post or on any other site that’s not YouTube, the best you can do is eventually head to YouTube to leave a comment there or do what you did which is to leave your comment here. πŸ™‚

      I think if we want to reach the top then we’re probably working for someone else, which includes athletes and the like. I always think of my favorite musician of all time, Michael Jackson, and how he was never satisfied that he had Thriller become the mega hit that it did but he couldn’t duplicate it… and neither could anyone else. He was still great but he spent the rest of his life trying to top Thriller… just as Einstein spent the rest of his life trying to top the Theory of Relativity. It’ll drive you nuts!

  4. By the way, your excellent blog is not on the list because you write so eclectically on subjects other than leadership – I enjoy reading you though.”

    That is a ridiculous comment. It is not a reason not to be included.

    1. LOL, thanks Jack. I didn’t take it as an insult because I understand people having criteria for the things they want to do. I may have thought, based on what I showed here, that the criteria might have been a bit limited but luckily my psyche is built more on the doing than the accolades.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean that if you put together a list of top bloggers that I don’t want to be on it… because I do! πŸ˜‰

  5. Hi Mitch,

    Thank God you don’t fit in a box. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here reading your post or replying to you. Keeping too tight in a niche is not doing any good. I see it more like an umbrella that covers different topics. And congratulations of being seen for your stunning work.

    It all boils down to being you..Being honest and that’s the reputation you have.

    This sure turned out to be a motivational post Mitch and I am glad it did. You don’t hold anything back and always tell it like it is. Even if you disagree you will speak your mind….like the pop ups lol.

    You are here to help others but you do need to be paid for your services. My gosh, if that was me waiting on Skype for 20 minutes….I would have probably walked away. I have no patience for that sort of thing when people are not considerate of my time.

    Maybe because after 30 some odd years, I worked with people one to one and if they held me up, I just would re-schedule them, unless they had a valid excuse.

    I learned a system where I told a prospective client “I’ll call you at x time and if you are not there, I can re-schedule you. Mitch, if they did not pick the phone up promptly…they had to call back for another time slot. So when it comes to valuing my time I do and some will call me a B^*@% But hey…

    Yes…this did turn out to be an inspirational post Mitch and I am glad it did.


    1. Thanks for your great comment Donna. Truthfully, regarding that Skype call it was on a Monday afternoon and I rarely have a lot going on either Monday or Friday by design. So it’s not like I had anything else going on; trust me, with no guarantee of payment or even interest if I’d had other things to do I’d have totally ignored it and moved on with life.

      I sometimes have people who make recommendations to me as to how I could be making more money or be a bigger name in business, and a lot of that goes against my grain. You know this thing about “influencer marketing”; I’m not really big on that one. Sure, it’s great when you get to make a connection with someone who’s well known but I always feel like it would be disingenuous to try to work it so you get a benefit from it. If they decide to do it on their own without encouragement from you that’s one thing, but you’ve never seen me ask anyone to share my stuff with anyone else… although I did ask Guy Kawasaki what I’d need to do to get on Alltop and he was gracious enough to put me on this site years ago.

      Popups; the bane of my existence! lol I hate those things with a passion, so if you see me starting a movement on Twitter asking people not to share links to anyone who have either popups or the top dropping before you can even glimpse at their content… well, I doubt that would surprise you. πŸ˜‰

  6. “May I talk about myself as a leadership trainer and mentor for a minute here?”

    Minute’s up. No, seriously, does a leader need to ask permission to talk about anything at all on his OWN BLOG? I don’t think so. Your choices are why your readers keep coming back. Maybe they’re why you aren’t on every list of “Leadership blogs,” but they make you you – and isn’t that exactly the point of this whole post?

    Popularity does me no good unless it translates to demand for my books and services. That’s just marketing.

    Friendship and conversation and networking with interesting people of diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, though – that’s GOLDEN. That’s not marketing, to me – it’s people and relationships. A good salesman might see that as a thing to capitalize on, and my not seeing it that way may be why I’ll never amass a fortune as a salesperson. I can live with it. That’s not me, and we don’t all have to be in sales.

    I told Darren Rowse in 2009 that I was setting out to dominate the “No-Niche Niche,” and by whatever mental yardstick I’ve got in my brain, I’m doing a mighty fine job of it. I’m not on anyone’s “list.” Yes, it’s lovely to get a trackback now and then, to hear your work is worth linking to, to hear that someone considers you a leader and a mentor. But lately I’ve been actively avoiding anyone who claims – in their OWN autobiography – to be a “thought leader” or a “guru” or anything that smacks of social media trendiness or arrogance. And I’ve begun enjoying the Internet again. (I swear, something broke in my brain in 2012, and it has taken this long to recover. I don’t aspire to be the comment queen these days; I just hope to lose the lingering aversion. You can’t run someone else’s hamster wheel.)

    1. Actually Holly… my question was definitely a leadership trait. People assume that leaders get to take liberties with everything just because they’re in the position of leadership. In this case I’m not paying anyone and I’m not employing anyone; everyone visiting this blog is basically a volunteer. I get to make the ultimate decision but asking people if I may intrude into their space for a moment to extol some virtue and then ask their opinion of it… that’s a true leadership technique.

      It’s also an exposition before I start my little story; leadership and literary. πŸ™‚

      You said that to Darren Rowse; what was his response? lol

      Actually, I don’t mind anyone calling themselves a thought leader, guru, expert, etc. Most people are scared to define themselves for fear of being thought of as arrogant. Well, I’m learning that in many ways, being self employed, I’d best be the one extolling my virtues, my value, and talking more about myself because it affects my livelihood. If I don’t show confidence in myself then why would I expect anyone who might hire me to do so?

      That’s part of determining who and what you are when you think about it. Some folks really are what they say they are, and others are actually aspiring to get there, and I assume use it as a mantra. Of course some are using those terms because they read a book or an article somewhere that told them to do it… kind of like those folks using popups (I seem to really be stuck on that these days don’t I?). The rest of us might like or not like someone who does that, or like or dislike something they do overall or every once in a while, but luckily we’re all responsible for ourselves, and if we have courage and determination we’ll define ourselves and our worth and our value… and you and I will keep writing and daring anyone to stop us. πŸ˜€

  7. @Mitch Mitchell, I disagree. We’re here because we perceive value in being here. We’re not here as a favor to you – or at least we shouldn’t be, past maybe the first visit.

    People often criticize women in business because they ask permission – explicitly or through vocal inflection – to express their views. This is your blog. You lead us readers down the path to your points. We choose to follow or not. I don’t see that as taking liberties. It is YOUR blog, and we’re not paying YOU. It’s all about choosing to continue following – not because you asked if it was okay, but because we think you know where you’re going, we believe that you know how to get there and bring us along safely to a successful outcome, and we want to go there too.

    But back to my main point – you’re NOT intruding on our space. The minute we clicked the link and began to read, we made a choice. And as we continue to read, we continue to make that choice. No one’s intruding on anyone, and we’ll just stop following if we don’t get value out of the exercise. We may or may not be back. There’s the real trick of leadership – getting the troops to keep signing up for the next mission.

    YES, I really said that to Darren. His response after looking at my blog was that it seemed to be working for me and maybe I should just keep doing that. πŸ™‚

    Let me tell you a little story about confidence. Two stories. First, I’m terrified of needles. Or really any tiny pointy object that might be dripping with toxins (snake venom – not snakes; wasps, bees, spiders, etc.). If I have to have blood drawn, though, I’ve noticed something: If the nurse or phlebotomist is confident in their abilities (NOT arrogant!!! those folks are jerks!) – if they look carefully for a vein and say “Oh, there’s a nice one right there, no problem!” then the stick usually goes well and painlessly. If they hesitate or show a lack of self-confidence, I swear my veins shrink and disappear on the spot. Animals respond to that kind of confidence, too. Not arrogance, but the reassurance from a leader that “I’ve got this, and I’ve got you. It’s going to be okay.” To me, that’s what leadership is all about – enabling (not forcing) people to believe that they are in good hands, and inspiring them to want to go along where you’re going, even if it looks like the fires of hell.

    1. Well, I notice you didn’t object to my “exposition” piece, so I’ll claim that one. And one thing I always say on the other blog is to never mistake kindness for weakness. I tend to be a bit nicer when I’m in a leadership position, understanding my being in a tenuous position moreso than most in the health care industry. Yet I always make sure people know I’m the one in charge; I just don’t ever feel the need to throw that in anyone’s face.

      As to the story about needles… I’m still scared of most of them, which is strange since I inject myself twice a day. But my needles are really tiny; I hate the larger ones and the ones I can’t see, like those while sitting in a dentist’s chair; oy!

      I wonder when the last time is that Darren actually visited someone else’s blog; hmmmmm…

  8. @Mitch Mitchell, “…some are using those terms because they read a book or an article somewhere that told them to do it… kind of like those folks using popups (I seem to really be stuck on that these days don’t I?). The rest of us might like or not like someone who does that, or like or dislike something they do overall or every once in a while, but luckily we’re all responsible for ourselves…” So, it’s okay for YOU to mention YOUR pet peeves… πŸ˜‰

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