All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Don’t Ask – Book Review

I figured that since I’m pimping stuff today I might as well finally get around to talking about our friend Beverly Mahone’s new book Don’t Ask, And I Won’t Have To Lie. It comes with another subtitle as well, ’50 is the new 30 and other tall tales’.

Don't Ask book

At just under 80 pages the book is a very easy and entertaining read. Bev talks about her own “lie” and how it almost cost her life because she wasn’t telling her physician the whole story on how she felt and if she’d been taking care of herself. That started her exploring this concept of lying and the intricacies about it.

The strangest things she talks about are the lies we tend to tell ourselves when we should know better. Things like ‘I don’t smoke much’ or ‘I know I exercise a lot’ when we don’t necessarily do those things. I like to say how good I am often enough when it comes to eating patterns, yet when I was taking time to write down everything I put in my mouth I realized that I do have a tendency here and there to snack a bit here and there, which adds up over the course of a day.

The last quarter of the book consists of a liar’s daily survey you might think to do on yourself, which of course I didn’t do because I don’t want to know. lol It also consists of responses to a survey she conducted that yield some interesting responses here and there, answering questions such as “Your girlfriend’s husband makes some inappropriate comments to you while drinking at a party you’re all attending.” What do you do? Nope, I’m not revealing the answers; it’s on you to buy the book and read it.

Oh yeah, two things for clarification. One, the book is slanted more towards women than men, but there’s enough for men to go around. And two, yours truly is quoted in the book on page 43, where I said: “I have no problem with lies of omission, as I don’t believe everyone needs to know everything.” Ah fame; you’re right on the cusp of my grasp! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sunday Question – What Makes You Laugh?

Last weekend I spent my time doing two things. The first was decluttering the space around me; man, was I starting to feel closed in almost everywhere I went in this house. The second was popping in one of my new DVDs and just laughing my fool head off.


No, that’s not my son!

I bought the DVD set of the Phil Silvers Show, aka Sgt. Bilko. It’s the show that the cartoon Top Cat was based off many years later. Phil Silvers was definitely a character; rapid fire delivery, changing vocal inflections, and, well, just a funny guy all around.

As I was watching it, I was listening to how I was laughing. I don’t laugh like this all that often, but it’s enjoyable when I can get to this point. It’s that point where the laughing becomes a long and hard giggle, one that you just can’t stop and starts to constrict your throat and chest, to the point where you actually have to pause everything and let your giggle die down some before you can watch some more.

There aren’t a lot of things that can do that to me now. And when it does happen, I’m really surprised by it most of the time. I sometimes think we start getting a little bit jaded as we get older. And the internet has actually taken a lot of that away because I’m all over the place and I see so many things that it’s hard to catch me off guard with truly funny.

I don’t like stupid humor all that often; I like creative humor. And yet I like the Three Stooges as well, but I think I came onto that because I was a kid when I started watching it, and it’s just stuck with me. There’s nothing Jim Carrey can do that makes me laugh as much as the Three Stooges, and he’s basically just channeling things they did.

What makes you laugh so hard that you think you’re going to push milk through your nose (I don’t drink milk, luckily enough)? Who makes you lose control? By the way, here’s a little bit of Sgt. Bilko for you.

 

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The Term “Influence” Does Mean A Lot

Last week I was reading a post by Chris Brogan titled Improve Your Influence. The most interesting thing I found in the post was actually the first line, where he stated “The term “influence” doesnโ€™t mean a lot, and yet, it seems to be the holy grail for online social media people“. The reason it was so interesting is that the rest of his post indicated that he pretty much understands how influential he is, whether he was trying to get there or not, and some of the name dropping, which I’m going to do some day (smile), shows that he knows and has talked to some fairly influential people.

social circles of influence
Social Circles of Influence
by Anne Adrian

Being more influential in 2011 is one of my goals for the year, and I figure this blog is probably the one that’s going to help me get there. It was actually because of a comment made by Chris on one articles that prompted my post asking how I could be useful to some of you, and I thank those of you who responded. It pretty much gave me permission to be, well, more of me this coming year, which in turn helps some of y’all be more of you. In a way, it made me think of two lines from the movie Happy Feet, both of which most of us should have in our repertoire of favorite lines, even if we keep them to ourselves; to whit:

I hear the world wanting something… Me!!!

Thank you; I’ll take a moment for myself.

So far I’ve followed some bits of advice in working on that influence thing. I wrote a post where I pretty much showed every link I knew of that talked about me in some fashion.

I’ve given thoughts to the messages I’m trying to project with this blog an realized that me talking about, well, pretty much everything, seems to work for me here, as long as I don’t deviate too much from the norm too often; no promises on that one, but it does prove to be a good thing that I have that other blog to keep me grounded somewhat.

I’ve set up ways for people to like me on Facebook or retweet posts they like. And I’m still figuring out new ways to use social media to work on that influence thing.

In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that a big part of our becoming more influential with our blogs or social media actually coincides with three of our favorite characters from the Wizard of Oz. Let me explain; stay with me on this one.

The Scarecrow said he needed a brain. The Wizard gave him a diploma. If you check your thesaurus, another word that can be used for diploma is “credentials”. Those of us who write about things that we have the credentials for and can prove it on a consistent basis have a great opportunity to increase our influence as we go along.

The Tin Man said he needed a heart. The Wizard gave him a testimonial, which meant that he honored the Tin Man in a way that others could see the type of person he was. When we acknowledge others at times, like I did in my 5 Top 10’s post, he not only help boost them but we boost ourselves because we show that we know it’s not only about us. Very few people succeed on their own; that’s a hard lesson to learn. Touting others helps your influence because it will come back to you in spades (I wonder what that phrase actually means).

The Cowardly Lion said he lacked courage. The Wizard gave him a medal and called him a hero. I tend to believe that every person that writes a blog and continues writing, even when it seems somewhat fruitless, is a hero, and eventually heroes are noted by someone for their contributions. Heroes also help other solve problems, or gain perspective about things, and that’s also a big part of blogging. Become a hero and your influence will definitely grow.

I don’t try to make my bones by disagreeing with someone whose words I’ve come to enjoy reading (but rarely comment on his blog because it’s a Disqus blog, and you know how I feel about that. In this case, I really don’t think I’m disagreeing with him overall, except for the perspective of the first line of that particular post. It just seems so obvious that whether one wishes to be influential or not, if they provide what he’s said and what I’ve written here, how can anyone not end up being influential? And if that’s occurring, then the “term” does mean a lot, as well as the actions that get us there.

Your thoughts on all of this?

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Why We Don’t Trust Sales People

Last week we had a new picture window installed for our house. Yes, it was cold, about 25 degrees, and it might have seemed like a strange time to have a window replaced. I don’t like bugs; enough said. ๐Ÿ™‚

The window that was there had been there about 50 years or so. It had never been broken and looked fine, but it was old technology. The living room has always been cold, so much so that in the winter my wife and I pretty much stay out of there. In the summer it’s so hot because of the evening sun that, once again, we have to stay out of there, even if the curtains and blinds are closed, because the heats builds up a lot then won’t go away.

So we had a new, modern window installed, which you see above. Looks pretty good, and it has some neat features to it. At one point, though, I went over to the window and touched it while the guy installing it was still there. And it felt cold.

I said “Hey, the window feels cold“.

He said “It’s supposed to feel cold. The outer window is exposed to the cold, so cold will eventually reach the second window.”

I said “But when the sales guy came, he had an example of what he were getting, with the heat lamp that he pressed against the window, and we didn’t feel any heat whatsoever. He told us we wouldn’t feel anything.”

He said “I always worry about sales guys because they sometimes tell people something that’s not totally true. I’m glad I’m just a contractor so I don’t have to deal with them all that much.”

My wife came home and said that she wasn’t feeling the draft anymore; I’m not so sure. I can’t feel much difference in the living room than I did before the new window was put in. The sales guy promised us that we’d see at least 15% in savings on our heating bill and our air conditioning bill from putting that window in. I’m just not so sure anymore. Did I really need a new window or just someone to do more with sealing problem areas around the window?

Why do we hate being sold to? Because we just don’t trust what people say to us about something. My wife and I don’t know a lot about windows but we’ve learned some things since the first set of windows were put in.

For instance, as I watched this guy most of the day (and it was cold, so that wasn’t pleasant for almost 6 hours), I made sure he was sealing the area around the windows both inside and outside of the house. We learned that lesson when we wondered what was going on with windows we purchased 4 years ago and had a contractor come by and show us that none of those windows were sealed properly. So, I know this guy did the job pretty well.

Yet, we can’t know it all. Years ago we had a company come in called Zero Draft to do an assessment on our house for drafts and the like. We ended up paying them around $3,500 for the job, which included more insulation and other stuff. The result; the house still felt cold, even after the guy came back and did his tests and said their scanners were saying all the drafts were taken care of. Do these folks ever get a recommendation from me? Not even close because I’m not satisfied.

As an independent consultant, I understand the issues in trying to convince someone that I’m going to do right by them. Almost everyone has had someone who has promised them something and didn’t have it delivered. Sometimes it’s the fault of the person doing the selling; sometimes it’s the fault of the person who perceived something that wasn’t stated. Either way, it’s always up to the person providing the service or product to not only try to represent themselves legitimately, but to try to give what’s promised, if possible.

I look at the products that I’ve created and wonder whether they deliver what people are expecting. I certainly know they’re as good as I could make them, but would someone purchasing those things agree?

I had one bad situation years ago at a hospital in New York City. The guy who set it up for me promised the moon to the guy who took me on. The place had way more problems than I could attack, most of which was having to try to work with people who belonged to a union that administration had irked so much that the employees that reported to me weren’t really supposed to talk to me, though they eventually did.

That’s a lot to overcome, and I’m not omnipotent so what was hoped for wasn’t happening. I did the best I could, tried to bring them back into regulations, and ended up bringing in the most cash they’d had in a one week period all year the last week I was there. But it wasn’t close enough to expectations. Was that my fault, the fault of the guy who promoted me, or the fault of the guy who took me on by not letting anyone know just how bad things were? By the way, that hospital’s closed now, which shows just how bad it was.

As bloggers who are trying to make a buck off our blogs, or off our websites, it’s incumbent upon us to try to always put our best foot forward in whatever we do. If you’re writing a product review, do you really believe what you’re saying, or are you writing what you are just to get paid? Will your product really solve the problem you told people it would or does it go in a different direction? Are you giving people solutions or history?

And yes, I’m still cold.

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Fabulous 50 – Top Bloggers Of 2010

You know, the experts kind of got it wrong about 3 years ago. They said that things like social media were mainly for the young, and that older folks, that being older than 40, would have a hard time competing with them in this new world.

They got it wrong. Not only are people over 40 actually significant impact in social media, but more of us have embraced things such as Twitter and Facebook than was ever expected. And I think that extends to blogging, based on many of the folks who respond on blogs such as mine.

By now you see that badge to the right. I have made the list of Fabulous 50 Top Bloggers for 2010 by Beverly Mahone’s Boomer Diva Nation. I find it a high honor for a couple of reasons.

One, it’s pretty neat getting an honor for blogging at this age. I sometimes feel like the goals I have for myself might be unrealistic because I’m over 50, although on the new end of it. I have to say I’ve embraced my age way better than I thought I would, but one still wonders here and there.

Two, because I’m the only male on the list. After all, it does have the word “diva” in it, which means, in a way, I get to be one of the “girls”, so to speak. This type of thing isn’t new for me, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask my friend Scott. Most of my friends are women, and it’s been that way since I was 16 years old. I used to hang with the ladies in college; it gave me an interesting perspective and gave them someone they knew would keep them safe. In my profession before I started working for myself my offices were mainly me and all women; I think I had 3 men ever working for me.

So I thank Bev for the honor and I congratulate the other ladies on the list. By the way, I forgot to mention at the time, but I made another list based on age back in September on a site called Problogservice, the Social Media 40 Over 40 list. Of course, just being over 40 doesn’t put you on the baby boomer list, but I thought it was a pretty neat honor anyway, and I’m surprised I never mentioned it here before now.

Okay, we’re on a roll now; let’s see how many more lists I can end up on in 2011!

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