All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

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. 😉
 

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When Blog Posts Make You Crack Down On Someone

You know, it’s rare for me to actually get my ire up and bust on someone else’s blog. I may disagree, but for me to actually get angry enough to have to comment and not be my normal, nice self is something entirely different. But I did that last night, and I’m not sorry I did it, especially since it was a guest post. And it’s possible that I was still feeling the effects from having gone through what I did yesterday afternoon, which I talked about on yesterday’s post.


by Tostado Photo via Flickr

I’m not going to say where I commented. What I am going to do is say what irked me to death.

It was a guest post by a guy talking about reasons why he won’t comment on someone’s blog post. Heck, I’ve read a lot of these; I’ve written some myself. Most of the time the reasons make a heck of a lot of sense; this time they were juvenile and immature. What were they?

1. No images or videos.

2. No CommentLuv.

3. Too long.

Period; that’s it. Now, I’ve had some people here say that they don’t like long posts; that’s too bad if you ask me. If a topic is worth it then read the long post. If you don’t care about the topic move on and go read something else. To me that’s the one that others have mentioned that I disagree with but I understand that not everyone speed reads, and some people can go on and on about literally nothing. But just to say your reason for not reading something is because it’s too long… that’s what comic books are for.

The first one, no images or videos… Really, you need an image to get you interested in reading a post? You need a video to entertain you? Are we back in the 30’s and 40’s when every movie that made any money needed to suddenly have a song and dance in the middle of it? Is this Bollywood?

Not everyone wants to take the time to add an image to their posts. I do it in this blog and my local blog, but for my other 3 blogs I only sometimes have an image. Every topic isn’t viable for images. Maybe videos, since YouTube seems to have videos for everything but come in, how often do I want to write a post on leadership or health care and then add some video that “might” pertain to what I’m talking about?

Sorry, but if the subject matter doesn’t seem to generate a need for an image, there won’t be one. If that’s what you need to get you reading, there’s a series of books for you written by a guy named Dr. Seuss. And they’re pretty fun I’ll admit, as I still have many of my books from when I was a child (I actually still go and pull out Go Dog Go from time to time).

By the way, I will add this, just to be fair. If you want some of your posts shared then it’s good to add an image to them, depending on where you want them shared. For instance, if someone wishes to share what you’ve written on Google Plus or Facebook, images work wonders. If you’re hoping they’re sharing them on LinkedIn or Twitter, then images are optional. The first two mediums are boosted by visuals, the last two not so much.

Finally, CommentLuv. If everything else is equal but the thing you don’t want to do is not comment because you’re not going to be able to get credit for your blog for writing a comment, that’s just weak. Yes, I’m a big time CommentLuv fan, one of the early adopters, but for me, if the comment system allows me to leave an unencumbered comment I’m there. I don’t need to have a link coming back to a specific post. I get a link back to my blog for the asking, and that’s good enough for me.

And I’ll even say that I have my own peccadillo’s on commenting, which y’all know. There are certain platforms I refuse to comment on, others I’ll rarely comment on, and I absolutely hate captcha’s. In those cases though, I’m not saying I’m avoiding those blogs because I don’t want to comment; I’m avoiding because I don’t want to have to jump through hoops to comment. Much different than saying I’m not commenting because I’m not getting the benefit I want.

In any case the blog post in question made me lose my mind; I actually wrote a different phrase here, then decided most people wouldn’t understand what it meant and I wasn’t ready to have that discussion. As I disclaimered (that’s a made up word), maybe I was still in a state when I saw that and wasn’t my nice, calm self in commenting, or maybe I felt justified because it was utterly stupid. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that it made me comment, and in a way even if my comment wasn’t nice it’s possible that the objective of the writer was made because it got me to comment.

I don’t know; heck, is this post too long?
 

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Lloyd E Mitchell, 10 Years Later

My dad passed away 10 years ago on June 16th, 2002, at 4:45PM; it was Father’s Day and he was 70 years old. It was also the last day of a family reunion his side of the family was having somewhere; I can’t even remember where it was. It was a pivotal moment in my life, so much so that just writing this little bit and seeing his picture almost makes me want to cry now. When this post goes live I won’t be here; I’ll be at the cemetery where he lays, and I’ll be thanking him once again for the years I got to spend with him and what he tried to impart on me.

For my dad’s funeral, I wrote a tribute, which I had read on that day and which still sits on my main business page to the bottom right. To this day, just under 10 years (since I didn’t add it to the site until a couple of weeks after the funeral), it’s still the most visited page on my site every month. To me, that’s a second tribute to him and to fathers in general; it seems to touch a lot of people in some way.

What I’ve never talked about is that final day and what led up to it. I don’t want to make this morbid and depressing, but there were some things that happened on that day that have stuck with me, and I figure that I want to talk about them now.

The first thing to mention is that Dad had cancer, lung cancer, that had spread to his brain and other areas of his body. He was in pain for the last 4 months of his life. He also had renal failure, and had been doing dialysis every day for over a year. Dad smoked for more than 30 years, but he was also exposed to Agent Orange while in Vietnam; terrible combination.

Dad had said very few things that were cognizant over the last 4 months of his life. He came out of it one night when I was having an argument with a cousin of mine to defend me, then went back into a netherworld state. He came out of it for about 5 minutes when a congressman he used to do some work for and a couple other people came to visit him; that was amazing.

And he came out of it when I forced his doctor to come to the house to visit him at least once, and it’s a good thing I wasn’t there that day. They started talking and, according to my mother, 5 minutes into the conversation the doctor asked my dad how he wanted to live out his remaining days; Dad never talked again after that.

Until the day he passed away, and once again I missed it. I was in the shower. My wife and I had come up to visit Dad for Father’s Day and I’d just awakened and went for a quick shower. My wife went downstairs and Dad greeted her, and supposedly was talking to both my wife and mother. Then suddenly he started having problems breathing. My wife yelled up to me as I was drying and I came downstairs, looked at him, and told Mom to call 911. They were there within 10 minutes, hooked him up, and took him to the hospital. I knew he was never coming back to the house and for the first time in almost 34 years I cried.

It was tough in the hospital emergency room that day. I wouldn’t cry in front of Dad so I kept going out into the lobby or out to the car to cry. Mom called for some help, people who worked at her church, and they did what they could for us. I talked to Mom and said Dad couldn’t come back home, and we started talking about a nursing home for him, as Mom had made herself sick by trying to take care of him. My wife knew, but I didn’t; Dad wasn’t leaving the hospital alive that day, but I still had my hopes up.

Throughout the day, I had heard other people crying and screaming as some of their loved ones didn’t make it. I had some fears, but never thought it would go that direction. They put something on Dad to help him breathe, and he kept trying to take it off. I kept asking him to keep it on, but I wasn’t totally sure he understood me. But he did look at me. I took multiple opportunities to tell him I loved him, and to thank him for everything he did for me and Mom in my life.

But it wasn’t meant to be, and the emergency room doctor taking care of Dad came into the lobby to tell us to hurry, that unfortunately it wouldn’t be much longer. Two minutes later, Dad stopped breathing, his eyes still open, and I marked the time and cried.

And cried, and cried, and cried. After about 30 minutes I went to the car and started calling a few people. I was able to reach a relative finally to give them the news. This was weird; they already knew. Seems that just as the reunion was ending a young cousin, no one ever told me which one, suddenly said that Uncle Lloyd had died. And they believed the child, but were just waiting for the phone confirmation. The other strange thing is that his twin brother didn’t know; they’d always had a strong bond but in this case it didn’t happen.

That was that. On that day I had to grow up some. I had to call to help make funeral arrangements. I had to contact everyone. I had to cry with Mom. I had to go home the next day to get more clothes so I could stay with Mom. I had to decide that Dad was going to be buried in his uniform, and I had to let the military know so he could have the military show up to do the color guard ceremony, which comes with a 21-gun salute.

And, if anyone needs to know why I keep going every day, why I keep trying to become successful, why I feel the need to try to be a positive example… this is why.

On this day before Father’s Day I hope you take the opportunity to thank your father for everything and to tell him you love him. This is something I didn’t start doing with my parents until the last couple of years of his life, because we weren’t a demonstrative family; I wish I could take that back all the time. Also, be sure to tell your mother you love her as well; we don’t have our parents for long once we’re adults; at least it never seems long enough.
 

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My 3 Top Fears

Time to bear my soul a little bit. This was inspired by another blog post I read yet can’t remember where I read it. Still, it had enough impact on me to become a topic to write about, and that topic is fear.


Fearless Freep ain’t scared…

Why do we talk about fear? We talk about it for three main reasons.

One, because it gives us something to share with others, especially if they have the same fears.

Two, because in its own way fear can be motivating, either making you do something you don’t want to do or figuring out another way around it so it can be avoided.

Three, because like most things, if you don’t acknowledge fear you don’t have the opportunity to fix it, if it can be fixed. I talk about this often on my business blog when I’m talking about one of the most important things about being a leader is not being afraid to hear the truth, no matter how bad it might be, because if you can fix something before it’s totally off the tracks you have a better opportunity to keep things moving smoothly.

Let’s stop dodging the topic, my top 3 fears. Here we go:

1. Bugs.

This my strongest fear, which is why it’s at the top of the list. I hate them all, and I don’t care whether you call them bugs, insects, arachnids, pests, etc. I hate them with a passion.

The fear is so great that I can’t buy bug spray that has a picture on it that looks anything close to being real. I can’t look at them in a magazine, can’t watch them on TV, and if they show up in a movie I either have to cover my eyes or take my glasses off so I can’t see anything (ask my friend Scott about going to the Indiana Jones movies with me lol).

This is one that I’m never going to be able to do anything about. If I know I’m in the room with a bug I have to leave; that’s how intense it can be sometimes. Luckily, it’s not an issue I have to deal with all that often.

At home I have bug spray ready; outside, well, I’m not outside all that much. After all these years I’ve learned how to deal with the knowledge that they’re out there, waiting to get me, but I have the advantage of knowledge versus hunger; I can only hope they continue to stay dumb.

I’ve actually gotten slightly better over the years at dealing with them if they get into the house. I might have to dress up in some pretty strange stuff to get the courage to take one on, but if I don’t do it and my wife isn’t home who will?

2. Death. This is fear number two, mainly because I know this is one I probably can’t avoid. I say “probably” because I keep hoping that the episode of Outer Limits back in the 50’s where the guy got so smart that he evolved into a being that couldn’t die has a chance to work. That’s why I read so many books and many science books. However, this one is probably only a pipe dream. lol

This one scared me up until 2002, when my dad passed away. Then it scared and depressed me. Every year I get older, I realize that I’m coming close to my final day and I don’t like that thought one bit. What’s strange is that as I get older I also have one of those days every once in awhile where I say “hey, if I go, at least it’s finally over”. What that “if” is is never clear to me, and I hope to keep it that way for awhile longer. Still, very few of us get to really prepare for death; it comes when we’re not expecting it and often not ready for it. We always fear the unknown, right?

3. Failure. This is definitely in the top 3, and unfortunately it’s the one that’s closest to me, and fortunately the only one I might have some control over.

The thing about failure is that it means something different to each of us. For me, failure has more than one meaning, which is sometimes scary. Failure is not feeling comfortable enough to do more sales to promote my services, which of course could eventually lead to total failure of my business.

Failure is not having anyone read anything I write anymore, which could lead to my blogs shutting down and no one hiring me to write for them any longer. Failure could be disappointing my wife to the extent that she decides I’m not the right one for her anymore and could leave. Failure could mean gaining back the weight I’ve lost (19 now and counting), or never losing another pound. Failure could mean adding onto the one main health problem I do have because the body just can’t take it anymore. We all know where that could eventually lead to (see #2).

Those are my 3 biggest fears; anyone else willing to tackle this one, either on your own blog or here? Do you have ways you work on overcoming any of those fears? And can motivation help you deal with some of those fears?
 

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Google Plus And The Public

I know what you’re thinking. I just spent more than 1,200 words talking bad about Google and now I’m writing about them again. Well, not quite. Strange as it seems, I can separate Google Plus, or G+ from this point on, from the other monster, even if there are some connections that are fairly sneaky. To me, G+ is a social media site, and thus I see it differently than Evil Empire #2 (after the New York Yankees).

I’ve started to gain a new appreciation for G+ over the last few days or so. And it’s all come from a fluke that I didn’t know about, that I’d perceived meant something else, and it’s actually been working pretty well for me in one way, and it’ll take time before I notice if it’s working for me in other ways.

Whenever I had been posting anything on G+, I was selecting specific circles of people to allow to see it. Suddenly though, I started getting messages whenever certain people were posting content, and I realized I was getting notifications because I’d been included in a specific circle of someone who wanted me to see what they were posting. What I thought happened is if those people signed on and checked that particular circle they’d see what I’d posted; it never occurred to me that anyone might be getting notified by email that I had included them in on something.

I wanted to stop doing that because, well, I was now getting irritated by having things always being sent to me, especially by people I didn’t really know all that well, but knew well enough to include in a G+ circle. But try as I might, I couldn’t figure out how to get it done without having to select a circle.

What did I do? I went to Twitter of course, and I threw out the issue there. The only response I got was from a local guy who said he never had any problems posting anything without having to select a circle first. So I tried a few more times without success and it was driving me nuts.

That is, until I noticed the setting “Public”. I’d never noticed it before, and strangely, after I did notice it I thought I’d be blasting anything I posted out to the masses. Instead, what I learned is that if you select public, it puts out the message for anyone that has you in their circles to see. You’re not sending it to anyone in particular, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.

And then a curious thing happened. I started having people commenting on some of my posts and sharing them, even +1’ing them (who ever thought that would become a verb?). And some of these people I didn’t know, as they had me in one of their circles but I hadn’t added them for my own reasons, but this was something new, something I hadn’t expected. G+ really hadn’t been all that social before; now it seems to be more social than ever, so much so that I added a G+ follow button underneath the Twitter bird to the left.

Over the last few days I’ve added anyone who’s +1’d something I put up or shared or said something to me to a circle. And get this; G+ has moved into the top 10 referrer list as far as driving traffic to this blog, whereas they were nonexistent in the month previous. It’s also become the #4 referral for my business blog; stunned.

Now it seems I may need to come up with a strategy for working on G+ as opposed to the random things I’ve been doing there. At least it’s finally in the conversation stage. Maybe you should think about it as well; I know our buddy Ileane has been talking about it a lot lately, especially when it comes to a new feature called Google Hangout Live, and it seems she knows what she’s been talking about.

Well of course she does! 😉
 

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