All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

5 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn From The Health Club

Suffice it to say I’ve gotten used to going to my health club. I can’t say I feel all that much healthier, but I can say that I know I’ve improved in some areas and held steady in some as well.


by Jon Tunnell

It’s an interesting thing, going to a health club or gym. You start out, for the most part, not knowing anyone. Then, over time, you start becoming familiar with a few people here and there, and though you probably can’t or won’t count any of them as your best friend, you start talking to them, learning something here and there and having the opportunity to apply something they’ve said to your workout; or at least give it a shot.

It equates well with blogging when you think about it. Even if you think you know it all, you go to another blog and either learn something or have the opportunity to engage someone in a conversation where one of you might come away with something. And, unfortunately, it’s not always positive, yet it’s always another experience to learn from. Here are 5 lessons I believe bloggers can learn from health clubs.

1. Let’s start with a lady named Jen; I know it had to be longer, but that’s all I got. Within my first few weeks of being there Jen stopped me one day just to talk. I was telling her how my routine always started out by walking the track to loosen my knees up, as they’re slightly arthritic. I also told her that I only did 15 minutes, whether they loosened up or not. She said that doing only 15 minutes of cardio probably wasn’t going to do me much good, especially if I wasn’t able to push it from the start. She said I needed to try to get at least 25 to 30 minutes in for a good workout, and if I could walk longer I’d feel it because I’d start to speed up, I’d get a sweat on, and my heart would pump a little faster. I started doing that, increased my time to where I now won’t walk less than 30 minutes, and she was absolutely correct.

Sometimes new bloggers will ask how often I write, and when I say almost every day they say they can’t see themselves doing anything like that. The same goes for how long posts should be. The reality is that you get more traffic and more for your effort if you can write more and post just a little longer posts that some people might do. An entire blog of 250 word posts probably isn’t going to benefit you much. I wouldn’t expect everyone to try to write 1,000 word posts every day either. Trying to find ways to push your effort up just a little bit will get you more of what you might be looking for as far as traffic, comments, etc.

2. There’s this tiny woman named Tina. She’s very fit, though she doesn’t think she is. She’s a former bodybuilder who, just being 2 years younger than me, thinks she’s only a shell of what she used to be. Ask my wife; we can’t find an ounce of fat on her, but she can.

She offers a lot of tips to anyone who asks her something. One of the things she lamented to me was how many people lay down on the bench and do sit-ups or stomach crunches very fast. She said they get absolutely no benefit and actually will cause more harm to their backs. She showed me two ways of doing them, both much slower than what I had been doing, and said that if I could do it that way that I’d benefit more than I had been and have fewer problems with my back. I started doing them her way and my back problems went away.

In blogging, sometimes you have to learn from someone who’s been there and made the mistakes so you can improve yourself. Even when we tend to learn from what we see others doing, there’s often someone with more knowledge than the crowd who can help us progress a lot further. When we come upon those people, we need to sit still and just listen to what they have to say.

3. There’s this guy named Richard, big brotha (we like to say Mandingo lol) who’s the nicest guy as well. One day he was pushing this one machine really hard and, well, I knew that I was going to have to try it one day. Turned out to be the next day. I put on a weight I didn’t think was all that heavy, pushed it 15 times, and felt like I was the man. Two days later, over Christmas holiday at my mother’s, suddenly I couldn’t move and was in dire pain all day and half the day after that.

When I talked to him about it days later he said that it was a dicey machine that needed perfect precision and technique to do it right, otherwise one could seriously hurt themselves on it. He tried to show me the technique, but I realized this was one time I was going to have to defer on my macho because indeed it was a tricky machine.

Many of us read what a lot of other bloggers do, yet sometimes we have to realize that we can’t learn every technique that another blogger tells us. For instance, most of my posts are written within 5 minutes or so; I type fast, think fast, and have a pretty good imagination for topics. That’s not something that can really be learned, no matter how many times I might talk about it. Sure, people can improve their speed, learn where to get inspiration easier, but maybe not copy and do what I do. And there are plenty of people who do things I certainly can’t do, whether I’ve tried or not. Sometimes you just have to settle for being the best you can be and live with that; trust me, often that turns out to be pretty good.

4. There’s this guy named Andy I met at the health club. He looks like an 80’s rocker, and is the nicest guy. He used to do security for Anthony Robbins in the 90’s, and thus has acquired a lot of those special ways of talking and giving out quotable phrases; it’s scary sometimes. lol

Andy has a body that looks like he pushes a lot of weight, but he doesn’t. As a matter of fact, he does something quite the opposite. He rarely uses more than 20 pounds at any time. But he does two things I just never see me doing. First, he commits to at least 4 hours at the health club whenever he goes. Second, it’s because it allows him to do multiple sets and reps for each thing he’s going to do. For instance, if he’s going to do a 20-pound barbell curl, he does 30 sets of 50 curls, and each one he does very slowly and deliberately. He does a set, rests 2 or 3 minutes, and does another set. Every time he goes to the health club, he selects a different part of the body to work on. Although he’s about 5 years younger than me, he’s “retired”; has enough money to live on so he doesn’t have to concern himself with a job, though he’ll do a project here and there just to stay busy.

Not everyone has the time to put into working on the perfect blog post. But what everyone has the ability to do is be consistent in effort, maximizing whatever it is they do. It’s not always about speed. It’s not always about content or SEO. It’s definitely not always about perfection. It’s about the effort to do whatever it is you have to do, giving what time you have to doing the best you can in the best way you can.

5. Finally there’s a young woman named Teresa. She’s stunning if you ask me and my wife. We always see her at the health club working out hard. Around the early part of December, after not seeing her for awhile, we saw her and she was looking great. We could tell she’d lost either weight or inches, and it was phenomenal because over all the time we’d seen her working out she didn’t look much different.

So I talked to her one day and told her how good I thought she was looking. She thanked me, then said she owed it all to my wife. Seems my wife, who’s been going to some type of health club for years, was talking to her about something and inadvertently gave her a tip that she decided she was going to try; man, I wish I could remember what it was now. So she started doing this thing my wife suggested to her and she lost 20 pounds in six weeks. I mentioned it to my wife later and she said she was stunned that her words convinced someone to try something new, but was glad it worked out.

Everyone we learn something from in blogging doesn’t have to be a guru. I’ve learned things from people who have only written two or three posts, and not always only about blogging. To me, if you’re open to reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, you’re open to learning something from almost anywhere. And when you do, sometimes you’re surprised because you weren’t expecting it at the time. That’s why blogging and the experience overall is so thrilling; you never know when you’re going to pick up something that will enrich your life. And, by extension, you never know when you’ll say something that will enrich someone else’s life.

And there you go; whew, this was long. So, hope you don’t mind, but I’m skipping a day to let this one have some time. That’s actually going to be something new I’m going to try; if I write a long post I’m going to think about skipping a day to give people time to catch up, if they so choose. After all, my goal was for 300 posts this year, not 365. 😉

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Does Your Profile Or Niche Turn Some People Away?

I have to admit that it was tough coming up with a title for this post. Writing posts are never a problem for me; titles… well, I wrote a long time ago about trying to come up with a title for my book. So, it’s not my strong point, yet it does convey the point I want to address today.

Are there certain describes niches that turn you off from even taking a look at the blog or website? Are there certain things a person will put into their profile on Twitter that will keep you from adding them? And are the perceptions you have for those things fair, legitimate, or at least honest?

Y’all know that I’m always going to be honest about what I talk about on this blog; after all, I’m sure my post last week on decluttering my online life will affect some people who might have thought about visiting this blog in the future, but it was truthful. So here’s some more honesty.

I won’t visit blogs that mention that they’re WAHM, or “work at home mom” blogs. The connotation with that is that those are blogs for other mothers only, certainly nothing for someone like me, and thus I just avoid them. Sometimes you don’t know, but when I do know I won’t visit them.

Now am I wrong? Well, it’s not 100%, but overall it seems that I’ve been correct in what I’d be interested in reading on those blogs. I gave it a shot early on, but found that I just wasn’t interested. It’s not that it’s such a bad thing though, not having me stop by. I also won’t read blogs on cars, shopping, shoes, religion, serious politics, et al. They’re things that I know I’m not interested in reading or talking about, and thus I avoid them.

I mentioned “religion” in that last paragraph. On Twitter, if someone found it was important enough for them to list their religion in their profile I’m not following them. I don’t believe in any religion, and I’ve found that those who really feel they’re serious about it aren’t reluctant to throw in a religious statement in the middle of any conversation. Frankly that irks me. A person wins a tournament and says “I want to thank God for allowing me to win”; did that mean God meant for the other person to lose? Should that person be thankful for losing?

Now am I wrong? No, I don’t think so. I’ve seen it happen more often than not from those people who put it on their Twitter profile, where they start quoting scripture and adding the chapter and verse of where they got it from. That type of thing prompts me to do something that’s somewhat catty and immature, and I don’t like that type of thing coming from me. I don’t mind people having their religion overall. I tend to think religion is responsible for both a lot of good and a lot of bad. I’d rather not be a party to it, and following my post talking about destressing my life, I just feel it’s best not to go there. Some of you know this line well: “Don’t start none, won’t be none.”

Still, it leads us to think about how we convey things up front that might affect whether someone wants to even give us a shot or not. For instance, Beverly has a site called Boomer Diva Nation, which targets baby boomer women 50 or older. Does it mean that there won’t be anything for people younger, or for males? Nope. Does it mean, however, that a lot of men probably aren’t going to check it out? Yup. I’ll admit that the only reason I ever checked it out was because we were talking on Twitter and I was curious. Any other time, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

Does that mean Beverly should change her focus? Not in the least. Does it mean she’s probably accepted that not every one will visit that site or look at those articles? I don’t really know; Bev will probably stop by to answer that one for herself.

But all of us end up doing the same thing with our blogs and websites. I write a blog on financial issues; do I really think everyone will stop by to take a look, especially if they’re not interested in the topic? Nope. Will I change its focus or its title just to attract visitors? Nope.

It was something I had to come to grips with with my business site on the bio page. There aren’t a lot of black people who do what I do in health care, and I thought that having my picture on my site would drive people away. Actually I still think it does, because I get way more visitors than I get people contacting me. But my dad said it was who I was, and I certainly couldn’t hide it forever, and wouldn’t it be better if people knew up front so that neither of us were shocked if we ever met in person? And thus my picture is on my business page; a shame that even in the 21st century that has to be a concern. And, oddly enough, I don’t have it on my SEO site About page; I’ll have to think about that.

I’m comfortable with the folks who visit my websites and my blogs, and I hope they’re comfortable as well. I hope everyone is comfortable with their websites and blogs and their presence online in general. However, it’s definitely something to think about, how you’re being perceived by your presentation and whether it’s what you hope to project. Are you comfortable? What would Yoda say?

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Social Media Isn’t For Everyone

Last week I was having an interesting conversation with someone who’d been sent my way to talk about social media. She was trying to learn new ways of promoting her business and she wanted to do it via social media. When I asked her why she stated “my friend said I have to be on social media to actually get any business.”


The Social Butterfly
by Ric Nagualero

Strangely enough, this isn’t the first time I’ve had someone say this to me. I keep talking to people who I could potentially be making some money from asking me to help them spread the word through social media circles. Many of them know the names of the outlets, yet have no real idea why they should be on them, let alone how to use them.

Back to the conversation the other day. I asked this person what she was already on. She said she was on all of them, but hadn’t done anything with any of them other than create an account. She hadn’t filled out any of her business information on LinkedIn; she had never sent a single tweet; she had created a Facebook page but set it up as a private site, with no one linked to it yet; and she’d had her Blogspot blog turned into a website, yet all her posts weren’t hers, thereby linking everyone away from her site.

In other words, kind of a mess of sorts, I hate to say. Yet she wanted, needed, to be in social media. I asked her why again. She said because she wanted to have an outlet where she could advertise her services, or talk about seminars and webinars she was going to put in through her company. In essence, for advertising purposes; nothing wrong with that.

I asked her what kind of time she had to devote to any of it, and she said almost none. I asked her what kind of money she was willing to spend towards it and she said very little because she was just getting her business up off the ground. She said that’s why she wanted me to help her, but to offer her ideas that wouldn’t cost her a lot of money because she had to get it done.

Here’s the thing. Social media is obviously the wave of the future, but it’s still not for everyone. Or at the very least, all of it isn’t for everyone. It’s kind of like Mitchell Allen’s post You Suck At Marketing, when he talks about people who buy all these books and programs that purport to teach them how to market online, yet either don’t put anything into practice or don’t even take the time to read them. Just knowing some big time names won’t make you a dime; putting something into action will. And not everything you read from everyone; you have to try something first, then if it doesn’t work move on. Even then, you have to be willing to give things time to develop or not without changing them too much.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post on work/life balance. Well, there also has to be a work/work balance. No one gets anything without a little effort. If you don’t have the time to devote even 5 minutes a day to a social media pursuit, it’s not for you. If you don’t have 30 minutes a week to devote to writing posts for your own blog, it’s not for you. That is, unless you can pay someone to do it all for you, and even with that, you’re still going to have to contribute in some fashion.

If it’s not for you, don’t feel left out. The fact that you at least know about it puts you ahead of a lot of people. Your time may come; don’t push it too much for now if you’re not ready for it.

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Content Of One’s Character; Major Fail

One of the beauties of writing most of one’s blog posts ahead of schedule is that when something really strikes you all you have to do is change the posting dates around so you can tackle something new. This one’s going to be kind of a rant post, so if you’re not up for that then wait until tomorrow.

Last week there was a post on the Problogger blog that kind of irked me a little bit. I don’t even remember the person’s name who wrote it, as it was a guest post, and frankly I’m not going to go back and look it up. However, the topic was 40 blogs to watch in 2011 or something like that.

The first comment the post got was wondering where all the people of color were. That comment didn’t get a lot of positive responses; actually it got none. Someone else alerted me to the post, and me being me, as someone who talks about diversity issues, I popped over to check things out. The list was nice enough, but from what I could see, there was one Asian lady and that was pretty much it. Someone wrote that one of the other people on the list was Indian; I couldn’t tell based on what I saw.

Frankly, I didn’t have a problem with the list itself. After all, everyone has the right to list whomever they want to list and follow whomever they want to follow. But some of the comments irked me greatly. So I decided to pop my own voice into the mix in support of the first person who commented, saying that there weren’t any black people on the list from the United States, and thus it wasn’t an overly inclusive list.

That didn’t go over well, which I still didn’t care about. One lady actually wrote that if she had tried to be inclusive that it would have been a racist post; what the heck? Inclusion is now racist? That comment didn’t sit well with me either, so I pretty much said that, along with some other stuff. Then some kid, and it had to be a kid, wrote a response to me that ended with “bitter old man”.

Well, there it was. I had a lot of responses that I thought about writing back, but I decided not to. After all, it was already proven that there wasn’t going to be any kind of discourse on the subject. It was going to be accusations back and forth; frankly, I don’t have to go somewhere else for that; I can get it right here, or on my business blog.

I really don’t talk about race all that often on this blog. According to my categories, I’ve only talked about it specifically 6 times in more than 900 (almost 950) posts. I didn’t even consider it as a category when a month ago I wrote a post on 8 Top Black Individual Blogs because in my mind it wasn’t as much about race as about acknowledging some folks that many others might not know all that well.

The truth is that there are a lot of black bloggers out there, a lot of Asian bloggers, a lot of… well, you get my drift, minority bloggers. The other truth is that when it comes to mainstream mentions of bloggers, black bloggers are almost never mentioned. Asian bloggers are; well, it’s nice to see that one group has broken through anyway.

Most people will usually find themselves gravitating towards others who share something with them. In general I’m a lot like everyone else; in general, that is. I don’t find myself hanging with a beer drinking, cussing, smoking dart throwing crowd that listens to country music. Actually, I don’t have a crowd. I have individual friends with whom I share some things with. Most of the time they don’t interact with each other; that’s somewhat strange in principle, but that’s how my life has always gone outside of sports when I was younger.

Overall, I’m about inclusion. I follow a lot of people with a lot of different background. I have lots of interests so I’m all over the place. Except for that one list of black bloggers, most of the time when I’ve listed folks there’s been a mix of some kind, not conscious, just because it is. Not always, but then again, if I’m writing about 5 people it’s probably a more finite list than writing about 40.

Goodness, even Chris Brogan, someone I’ve enjoyed reading over the past couple of months, had a post near the end of 2008 where he highlighted 17 bloggers to follow in a post of his (titled 8, but he mentioned 9 others) and not one of them was a person of color. Like I said, people can highlight who they want to highlight, but really, there’s not a place for anyone of color on any top lists? Do we really go back to what Al Campanis said about the dearth of black executives in baseball, back in 1987, which began with “It’s just that they may not have some of the necessities…”

Why am I talking about all of this stuff today? In the United States it’s the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday, and back in 1963, at a march on Washington D.C., in his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, he stated these words: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Overall, we still haven’t reached this point. Sure, we have Barack Obama, we have athletes and musicians, and of course I thank y’all for checking me out from time to time. But we’re the anomalies; we’re not the norm. What’s the norm? I’m not really sure. I will say this, though. When I see more Mitchell Allen’s, more Kissie’s, more Vernessa’s, more Evelyn’s, more Beverly’s, more Johanna’s, more Rummuser’s, more Marelisa’s, and more Ching Ya’s, I’ll really think we’ve achieved at least a semblance of balance and inclusion.

Trust me, those aren’t the words of a bitter old man, just someone who’s asking to see more of what Dr. King was asking for, which he ended up giving his life for. Is it really too much to hope for?
 

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Sunday Question – Do You Believe Words Can Hurt?

Last weekend there was a terrible tragedy that occurred in Tucson, Arizona. What we’re all calling a “mad man” went on kind of a rampage. He walked up to a U.S. congressional representative, shot her in the head, then proceeded to shoot 18 people in all, one of those people being a devoutly religious federal judge, another a 9-year old girl who was born on 9/11/01 and seen as a sign of hope for this country in the long run.


Arneson’s Yin & Yang Eggheads
by Steve Webster

Pretty much hours after this event, after the initial shock, the battle of words began. Many people were blaming one particular side of the political landscape for the type of rhetoric they were putting out, some of which made it sound like people who didn’t agree with them should be killed. The other side came back saying they weren’t to blame for the acts of a mad man and that saying it was their fault was using a tragedy for political purposes.

I have to admit that my mind went to that place after I was notified of what was going on. The last couple of years has had some of the nastiest rhetoric I can ever remember in American politics, and it went beyond that into communities across the United States this summer. Representatives and senators were dealing with something they’ve never had to worry about before, that being their safety from an angry populace that had been stoked by people like… nah, I’m not naming names.

Something else that was new were people showing up with guns and making sure you knew they had them. I mean, there had always been cranks, but never had anyone so openly decided to let someone know that their life was potentially in danger, especially at a presidential event, even though it was all legal. So much for the right to bear arms and being responsible.

I’m someone who actually believes that there’s a great power in words. Remember the old saw “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”? Well, not only is that not true, but calling someone names can get you killed in today’s world. Back in my day it could get you into a fight. I’ve been asked often why I didn’t go into politics. It’s because my skin isn’t thick enough to endure someone lying to me in public; I’d be at their house later that evening demanding a retraction or someone would be getting their behind kicked. Not quite what people want to see in a politician. lol

I answer my own question with “yes”. Although I think everyone is ultimately responsible for their own actions, I do believe that there are people whose minds can be swayed and encouraged to do things they normally wouldn’t have done. Do the names Hitler and Manson mean anything to you? It’s one reason why I, for the most part, temper my words. With an open forum comes responsibility, and though I doubt I’d say anything that would get anyone to take an immediate action, I figure you just never know what you’ll say that might make someone do something stupid.

Those are my thoughts; what are your thoughts on this one?

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