All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Waiting For Social Media To Fail Is A Waste Of Time

Earlier today, there was a news alert that came through from CNN saying that the major portion of the health care bill has been ruled unconstitutional. Since Twitter is usually quick with news the flurry of reports of the story hit the airwaves and exploded. Minutes later, there was a retraction of that and it was then reported that the Supreme Court said instead that the health care bill was constitutional, and of course the conversation turned another way.


via birgerking via Flickr

Out of the blue, one of the people on Twitter came out with this statement:

I love Twitter, but I love seeing it get its comeuppance even more.

I thought it was kind of a stupid statement, so I responded by saying this:

Illogical statement since none of this had anything to do with Twitter getting it wrong.

His response back to me was thus:

I think we can all agree that Twitter is no match for a Supreme Court decision.

To which I responded:

“Apparently neither is CNN, which reported it first in a news release.”

I have to admit that the initial part of the exchange threw me off. Why would someone on Twitter, who must like it to some degree, be happy when ‘they’ took a hit, especially when they didn’t take a hit? I thought about that one for a moment, then realized that I probably do the same thing from time to time, as there’s a lot of things Google does that I don’t like, yet I use their services in many different ways.

So I concentrated on the second part instead, that being that Twitter wasn’t to blame for any of what occurred. Just like probably so many other people, I saw a news alert come to my phone telling me that the law had been ruled unconstitutional, went to Twitter to comment on it, and about 5 seconds after I typed my one line another alert came through issuing a correction. I at least waited 5 minutes before I wrote what I wrote, but the information wasn’t correct, and I wrote my little retraction.

Still, it wasn’t Twitter’s fault, but the exchange got me thinking about those people who are ready to find something wrong with something they don’t like, without any real background or reason for being against it, and then pouncing when they feel justified. We all know people like that, the negative Nellies that hate pretty much everything and, when something goes wrong, stands up like the paragon of righteousness, feeling superior to everything that eventually went their way.

Except things almost never go their way. Here’s a truth; everyone eventually will be correct if that’s not their natural state. It’s like hearing that someone 75 years old passed away and having someone say “see, I told you cigarettes would kill him some day.”

Now, I’ll put out a caveat here. I don’t agree with everything. But when I disagree with something, I almost always have a reason for it. I do get bad vibes about some people or certain things that I might not be able to explain initially, but usually my reason for it comes fairly quickly. I try to be fair, even with things I’m not in total agreement with, but if there’s something I really don’t like, I’ll have reasons. And if something goes wrong for the reasons I put out there… yeah, I might feel a little smug. But I’ll have stated my reasons; I won’t have just sat around waiting for something bad to happen without a specific reason so I can say I told you so.

Folks, here’s a reality; social media isn’t going away. No matter how many people say they’re against this or that, Pandora’s Box has been opened, and those things aren’t going back in. Lament all you will about the loss of people talking to each other or not communicating as well, but we all had best be ready to embrace social media because it’s only going to become more of the norm as time goes by. Goodness, large corporations have already embraced video conferencing so they don’t have to spend millions of dollars shuttling people all over the world for a 1-hour meeting.

And don’t worry. Social media will not replace everything. It won’t replace family; it won’t replace good friends. If you like going out to the bar it won’t be replaced by social media. Restaurants; I’m still coming. Romance… well, some folks might enjoy only what they find online but the majority still want someone in their lives.

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or whatever replaces any of these things as time goes by, I recommend learning about them, decide if you’re going to participate or not, and then get on with life. You’ll be happier that way.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Lebron James, A Champion Revisited

A quick upfront disclaimer here. Every image in this post is an affiliate product, which means if you click on it you’ll be taken to a website where, if you like what you see and buy it, or anything else on that site, I’ll earn money from. Hey, at least I’m telling you about it, and it’s Lebron after all.

King James - Cavaliers Parade 2016
Carlos Javier via Compfight

That would be Lebron James, the MVP of the latest NBA Championship Series won by the Miami Heat in 5 games over the Oklahoma City Thunder. I felt so good for him, as I was cheering for Miami to win this series as kind of a “take that” at Cleveland and everyone else who was hating on Lebron for being, well, Lebron.

If you click on that link about you’ll see that I wrote about him last year around this same time, wondering why there’s so much hate for the kid from so many quarters, and even this year there was a lot of that.

It’s with some relief that it seems that a lot of that hate is dissipating now, even from seasoned journalists who are finally owning up to the fact that maybe their beliefs were a bit off about this guy. When all is said and done Lebron has been nothing but a guy who’s tried to please others, tried to do the right thing, was one of the best players in the league but had to learn that, when it comes to crunch time he just has to be the man and get it done.

James & the Golden Halo
Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

He did that very well in both this series and in the last two games of the Boston series where there was pretty much nothing anyone could do to stop him and nothing anyone could do to score on him when he decided to shut them down. Let’s see, who’s that guy people were trying to compare him to last year? Well, he’s still not that guy, and he’s not Kobe Bryant either, but he’s finally on his way to being legitimately seen in that rarefied air.

See, I like to think I know a jerk when I see a jerk. Terrell Owens is a jerk. Mike Tyson was a jerk. Some people say Barry Bonds was a jerk; I think Barry just wanted to be left alone. I tend to believe that how a person acts in regular life is more a story of what they are than how they act when still in “athlete” mode. We all have our own criteria.

Lebron James has never been a jerk on the court, and he’s never been a jerk off the court. As I was saying to someone a couple of days ago, even after he left Cleveland he’s gone back to help with fundraising for one thing or another because he still sees that as home. Does that sound like a jerk?

I’m really glad Miami won since neither the Lakers or the Knicks could get it done. And I have one last thing to say, that being that the players on the Oklahoma team (man, even a few years down the road it seems strange that a professional basketball team is in Oklahoma) were the classiest group of guys I’ve ever seen after losing a championship. I was never so proud of a bunch of young guys stepping up and being real men, unlike some of the players on the Boston Celtics (hate them) team after losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. The cream always comes to the top.

Overall, my favorite player of all time is still Wilt Chamberlain, my favorite player right now is still Kobe, but I’ve got nothing but love for Lebron’s game and his character; I gotcha back ‘Bron! 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

11 Lessons Learned From 11 Years In Business

Last year on this date I celebrated my 10th year of working for myself. I love milestones obviously and I thought that was an important one because most people that try to work on their own don’t even make 5 years.


That’s not my desk lol

And yet, that was more of a nostalgic post about me than about anything else, and that’s fine overall. But this year, on this blog (since that post above goes to my business blog) I decided to share some lessons I’ve learned in these 11 years. They’re not all good lessons on the surface, but they all contribute in some fashion to helping others, and still helping myself, to improve in some fashion, whether you work on your own or not. Here we go:

1. Most people really aren’t prepared to do this. When I started my business I hadn’t actually planned on starting it then. I was working up to starting six months later, but circumstances were out of my hands. Still, even if I’d started six months later I wouldn’t have been prepared for what was coming. The book Before You Quit Your Job by Robert Kiyosaki hadn’t been written yet, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know, let alone what I knew. Preparation really is key, and it might have made some decisions I made a lot smarter.

2. Getting comfortable with marketing and sales is going to be crucial. You know the people who make me sick? Those that say “I don’t have to market because I get all my business by referral. Trust me, unless you’re an old salt who was in a particular business for 30 years and everyone knows you you’re going to have to market at some point. And if you’re like me, coming from a non-profit background where we were the only game in town, you’re going to have to learn a lot about it. Man, the mistakes I made, and the mistakes I continue to make would make for a book that some would claim was stranger than fiction.

3. You’re going to have your ego bruised, and it could be crushing. You won’t believe this, but my actual employed working life was about 85% perfect over the course of 18 years. I always got lots of kudos for the work I did and I got along with almost everyone. I knew my stuff cold; no one could tell me I didn’t know how to fix anything, or come up with the correct thing to do.


I wasn’t as sad
as I look here

But on my own? People question you even if they hire you because they don’t want to do what you recommend to them. The first guy who read the first 25% of my book asked me if I’d ever written anything in my life because it was the worst thing he’d ever seen. My first newsletter got so many bad comments, none on the content though, that I almost decided I was never going to publish one.

I worked with a guy in NYC that decided to try to tell people I was the worst consultant he’d ever seen (luckily, his reputation was so bad that people saw that as a good thing). I’ve had people who didn’t know me well hear me say things I didn’t say and not hear things I did say, and I took the blame for it. And even after all these years, all the articles and blogs I have online and the speaking engagements I’ve done, every day I have to start again because there’s still 99.9963% of potential clients who have no idea who I am or what I do.

4. Cash flow is going to be a major problem. My first year of working on my own I only made $7,000; good thing I had great credit and unemployment. My first 3 years were really tough. My next 3 years were awesome. My last 4 years have been fair to middlin’. If I wasn’t a great budgeter and someone who has figured out the hustle when it’s really needed I might be in big trouble now. As it is all big bills are paid except for my mortgage; whew! But none of it would be possible without my wife’s help and her insurance.

5. Time is not your friend. I have never missed a deadline on a project, but I have worked some extreme hours at times. For one project that had to be done for a client in a time zone 10 hours ahead of ours, I had 10 hours of sleep in 3 days because they really needed it. I got paid well for it, but it was a killer. Early on I used to work 20 hours a day; now I’m down to about 10 – 12 hours a day but I kill time here and there for balance, and still only sleep maybe 5 or 6 hours if lucky.

On the other end, I always feel like marketing at 10PM and never during the day; that’s obviously a problem. I’m always at work since I work from home and I’m always working for that next dollar. When cash flow is low there’s not enough time in the day to look for contracts, work on contracts, and eat.

6. Staying healthy in general stops being a priority. I mentioned eating as an issue, but there are other things we need to take care of. In the summer I tend to walk a lot. In the winter I usually did nothing, and since I sit at the computer almost all day and all night it was affecting my health. I ended up joining a gym so I’d take care of some of those issues when it gets cold, and I continue walking in the summer. I’ve had to schedule my time during the day to take a break and eat, otherwise I’d miss it.

I’ve had to schedule when I take medication and when to brush my teeth, otherwise I won’t do it. I need to schedule when to work out. And now, at least once an hour, I get up from my desk and walk to the kitchen and back because it’s the longest distance from my office, 65 steps. And I’ve lost 20 pounds, and still working on it; have to work on making health a priority.


My first girlfriend;
my wife’s still jealous

7. The good times aren’t constant but when they’re good, they’re great. How great are they? There’s absolutely no pressure when the good times come. I bought two cars with a check and no financing. I went to lots of conferences. I ate lunch out every day. I paid someone else to try some marketing for me. And I budgeted because I knew there would need to be some balance; thank goodness for that foresight.

8. The freedom is amazing. You know, even through the bad times and the pressure, there’s a freedom that’s unparallelled. You might work a lot of hours but you know that at the end of it you’re the one benefiting from it, along with those you’re doing work for, not some employer who could care less about you and your needs. If you get into the right career your income is dependent upon your efforts. You can make as much or as little as possible. You can pick your own hours to work. You can pretty much do anything you want to as long as you have the money to do it.

9. You learn that you really can’t do it all alone. There’s a lot of stuff I know and can do, and for the first 3 years in business I did it all. At a certain point though I realized I needed some help in different ways. I hired an accountant and that took a major load off my mind. I contacted others in my field of expertise who knew others and helped spread my name around, and I started getting some contract work from people I’d have never met otherwise.

I learned that sometimes advice you give to others is advice someone then has to give back to you when your mind has gone astray. I joined associations of people who do what I do and understand the issues of being an independent consultant because they know how to offer support. And I’ve learned how to work in collaboration with others for some projects, because even a little piece of something big is still pretty nice.

10. You need to be really judgmental in working with others. I’ve done fairly well in this regard but I have some horror stories as well. I got taken advantage of by a guy who paid me almost nothing to do 2 4-hour training sessions on a topic where I was the only one who could have done it because I hadn’t yet learned how to price my services better. I worked with another company doing some work where I never got any feedback on how to do it their way until I didn’t do it their way, and it was 7 months of frustration; if you can’t communicate with others you’re doomed to fail.

I’ve had people offer me things early on that sounded like they’d be a good deal, only to figure out they were trying to take advantage of me and trying to use me to sell their products and not sell myself, without being paid for it. And I’ve had people who agreed to pay me for things that never paid me, people trying to trick me by saying they were going to pay me that ended up being a scam, and people who told me one thing without being able to follow through in one way or another.

It can happen in the other direction as well though. You might be so cautious that you miss out on what would have been a great opportunity. I’m normally a good judge of character, and learned that desperation, or lack thereof, should never be considered when looking into potential opportunities or liabilities. I have a friend who saw an opportunity that looked really good because he knew the person who presented it to him and thus signed up, only to learn later on that person wasn’t actually the one running things and the person who was running things was unethical.

In general, if the Spidey senses tingle even a little bit, learn more, learn a lot more, then make an informed decision. But always trust your senses.


Why my moral base is strong

11. The majority of people will treat you as you treat them, so make sure your moral base is strong. Y’all know I’m not religious, so in my mind religion and morality are two different things. If you’ve been following this blog even six months you know my morals are based on three principles: loyalty, honesty and trustworthiness. I could add two more, but they’re in longer form: be as nice as possible as often as possible, and if you can’t be nice, be accurate so no one can accuse you of not thinking straight.

If you try to do right by people it comes back to you. If you try to help others it comes back to you. If you show loyalty to others it comes back to you, even if not from the same people. Be open, but don’t be a victim. Be wise and sharing but don’t give it all away. Think of yourself first (this includes your family), protect yourself first, ALWAYS, no matter what anyone else says, and then think of others and what they need; I think 51% to 49% is a good ratio. In business, as in life, you can’t help anyone if your life isn’t secure first.

Yes, this was long, but so is 11 years in business for a sole proprietor. If even one person learns something from this post that will help them make better decisions down the road, I’ll be happy; of course, I’d love thousands of people to read it anyway. 🙂 But our dreams and goals are for us and no one else; keep pushing forward, keep trying, and try never to see yourself as a failure; as I always say, tomorrow is another chance to start again.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Instagram For Android

Some years ago I went to a Syracuse University football game with my friend Josh when they were playing a team they had better have beaten, which they did. There was one guy who pretty much lost his mind on every play, whether the team was playing offense or defense, and at one point Josh decided to take the guy’s picture on his phone and upload it… somewhere. I thought “how cool is that”, and wanted to do that sort of thing one day, but I didn’t have a smart phone.

picture on Instagram
One of my
Instagram pictures lol

Last May, I finally got my first smartphone, but found the transition from a regular cellphone for more than 15 years to a smartphone kind of daunting, so I decided to take my time before figuring out which image service I was going to use. It took me a long time, probably 9 months, before I finally decided which way to go.

I decided to go with Instagram for Android, since it had just come out, because there were so many iPhone users that were talking it up so much that I figured it had to be relatively easy to use. I found that it was easy enough, but that there were also some things associated with its use that, if you don’t know about them, will throw you off.

For instance, it probably took me 3 or 4 days to figure out how to take a picture with it. I thought it would work like Barcode Scanner where you just opened the program and it would open up the camera so you could take your picture. Instead, it opens up and you see this little toolbar at the bottom with 5 things on it, and the one in the middle activates the camera.

The second thing I learned is that you’re going to end up cropping your image in some fashion, which pretty much means you have to adjust your image on the fly to the proper size if you want to get it all into the picture. That is, unless you want to take the time to take lots of pictures of the same thing or start adjusting, realize it’s not right, and start over again. I’ve figured this one out; don’t get too close to your subject and you’re probably going to be good to go.

Cropping is pretty much one-dimensional; you’re going to end up with a square and that’s that. You can move your square around, but that’s the best you’re going to get.

The thing I’d read about that a lot of photographers didn’t like were these filters that you’re offered once you’ve cropped your picture. I tested them, as there’s your normal picture then 3 other choices, and frankly I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to use the filters because they all make your picture look surreal; well, maybe that’s why you’d do it, but what’s the point of doing it on your phone?

The last thing you get to is what your picture is going to look like and where you want to send it. I send my pictures to Twitter, Facebook or both, and that’s pretty much it. There’s this GeoTag thing you can select if you want to let the camera tell people where you are, but I have that setting off by default; I don’t like being tracked, as you know. You also have an space above where you can type in your message; is has to be somewhat short if it’s going to Twitter to get your entire message in but if it’s going to Facebook only I guess you could probably write a book.

You’d think that would be that, but it’s not. Turns out that instagram.com is only a site promoting the app; you can’t see your pictures there, which threw me off. A quick question on Twitter brought a response saying to go to Webstagram (make sure you look at the link; you can’t type in what you think) and set up an account there, which is what I did, and then I could see all my uploads, which works great because now if I so choose I can download my images from there to use in blog posts later on instead of having to keep everything on my phone.

Now you’d think that was all there is but once again I turned out to be wrong. Just last week I found out that people can, and will, subscribe to your picture page. I started noticing the Instagram icon at the top of my smartphone, in the area where it’s usually showing things that are running, and I wondered why. I clicked on it and it told me I had messages and likes; really? I went to check it out and indeed, I not only had messages but there’s more than 40 people following me; wild! I decided to follow one person so far and we’ve talked about a couple of her pictures here and there. That’s an interesting social media benefit that I have absolutely no idea how to really use, and I’m going to have to think about this one some more.

If you’re predisposed to want to check out some of my images, you can go to my Webstagram link, and you can even follow. One of the people, someone I know locally, said I seem to post a lot of pictures of food. Hey, it’s what I like to comment on! 😉

Now you know what I know about it; if you have any tips you’d like to tell people, please go ahead.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell

Could You Be Too Cute With Your Blog Or Website?

Wow, something’s different around here today. I can’t quite put my finger on it; can you? Maybe you can, and maybe I can, but I have a story to tell, a story with a lesson of sorts, and we’ll come back to this.

A few days ago, I went to a guy’s blog based on a link that was shared on Google Plus. I thought it was a pretty good article, but since it was a Disqus blog I knew I wasn’t going to comment on it. But I wanted to share it on Twitter because I thought it deserved some press.

Only I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find a button to share it on Twitter and I couldn’t find this Twitter button with his Twitter account name on it. Since I knew him I went to Twitter and found it, and I did the copy and paste thing for the link to give him some love.

Eventually he saw it, and when he wrote me back he said that there was a Twitter image on the page and that I’d just missed it. So I went back to the page and I looked around, and I did finally see it. And it was pretty large as well. Thing is, it was gray, and so were the images for some other accounts he could connect to. I still never found an article sharing button on the site, but it might have been there.

Sometimes many of us get creative and do something that throws everyone else off. I mean, let’s face it; we’re used to the blue Twitter bird or the blue Twitter “t”. We’re used to the Google+ button being red. We’re used to the little LinkedIn box being blue. If you decide to get creative and shake things up, it could disorient your visitors. If visitors don’t see things where they expect to see them you could lose sales or business. You could lose the opportunities of someone sharing your information with others, which helps spread your influence.

Goodness, what will people think about this particular post? Who expects a black background in the middle of all that white space? In this case I think I’m okay, but I hope the point has been made. At least I didn’t leave it with red letters; I actually wanted that but when I looked at it my eyes hurt. See, I do care about you, the readers. 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Mitch Mitchell