All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Sunday Question – Do You Believe In Work/Life Balance?

First, I hope everyone survived the New Years celebrations. I assume we’re all ready to push forward and do great things in 2011. I know I’m ready for it, and thus we get to today’s question.


Balance by Brent Moore

One of the things I’m not really good at is relaxing. As you know, I work for myself, and that’s both fun and mentally draining at the same time. I haven’t taken a vacation since 2001, the last time I was employed. I sometimes am at this computer upwards of 18 hours a day or more. I don’t think I produce enough based on that kind of time, but I get stuff done here and there.

The thing is, I don’t have a true sense of my own work/life balance. I tend to believe it’s a real thing, and it’s something I have to get a better handle on because I think if I can ever get there, I’ll probably have a much better output and be way more successful in time.

Yet, this past week I read two posts that offered contradictory statements on work/life balance. The first came from Mitch Joel, who wrote a post titled The Myth of Work Life Balance. The second was a post by Jimi Jones titled Achieving Work Life Balance.

What the hey? I mean it was literally minutes between reading each post, and that wasn’t planned either. Now I had a conundrum; who do I believe, and why?

I went with both, which might seem a little strange, but here’s my thoughts on the matter. Jimi totally got it right; Mitch got it almost perfectly right either. His main statement is that he feels the term implies that work isn’t part of a healthy lifestyle. Yet, everything else he writes fits right in with what I consider as the tenets of trying to achieve what’s known as this work/life balance that most of us strive to achieve. In my mind, we all believe in the same thing, just maybe not the terms as much.

But I’ve seen other posts or articles over the years that lament this phrase as well. So I thought I’d put it out to the masses to see where you stand on this concept. I hope you check out both posts as well, but I believe it’s a good topic to explore in some fashion, especially since we’re all being pushed and pulled beyond belief these days.

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2011; Ready For The Best To Come

Happy New Years! I hope y’all didn’t overindulge last night. I’m lucky; I don’t drink and my wife doesn’t drink, so we wake up as we normally do and get on with life. We also don’t drink coffee, so we don’t need pick-me-ups either.

But it’s New Years Day and it’s also Saturday; I bet some stores are really conflicted this year. No matter; we move forward.

However, since it is both a Saturday and New Years Day, I assume no one wants to do a ton of reading. I might be one of those folks who doesn’t mind, but I’m going to be putting us all through a lot of stuff, and yesterday’s post was, well, longer than I thought it was going to be when I started it. So, instead of all that, let’s go with videos of cute things. After all, the symbol of the New Year, at least in the U.S., is a baby.

Man, I love laughing babies. There’s almost nothing that will make you feel better than hearing a baby laugh for the first time, and when they get the hang of it they’re the best audience ever. So, here’s five videos of laughing babies to enjoy; I hope you don’t have a hangover and can enjoy them. If not, come back later. 🙂

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5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker

It seems that every year around this time I write a post that talks about poker and blogging in some fashion. In January 2009 I wrote a post called the Psychology of Gambling. In January 2010 I wrote a post titled 5 Ways Poker Is Like Blogging. And in February 2010 I wrote a post titled Pot Odds In Internet Marketing.

Poker Chips, Poker ‘n Stuff

Why poker? Many of you know that I love playing poker. I fancy myself a pretty good player but not a great player. However, I’ve studied great players and I can see what I lack that they have. I don’t see me getting a lot of it at this juncture of my life, but one never knows, right?

Like almost anything else, one can learn some interesting ideas on how to do something from another place, or from something that has nothing to do with what you’re doing. In reality, most things are interconnected in some fashion, and if you have the time to consider it, you’ll see the connections, or the potential connections, and hopefully learn something from it.

In this case, I figure the lessons bloggers can learn from poker are something that leads us well into the next year, which begins tomorrow, and thus the timing of this article is pretty good. Of course, you could read this and think I’m just nuts; let’s find out.

1. Poker is about analyzing what’s going on at that moment. If I have an ace and a jack in my hand and the flop comes up king, jack and seven, and the other player bets ahead of me, I have to analyze a lot of things at once. Does he have an ace in his hand? How has he played previous hands? How have I played other hands in this situation? Is the amount he’s betting trying to scare me away, or is he trying to trap me? Can I get a tell from the expression on his face? Has he read my face and figured something out?

In blogging, we often start writing for ourselves, but once people start coming we need to be ready to analyze ourselves from time to time. What types of posts do people seem to like? Is my post too short or too long? Is my language easy to understand or am I talking above people’s heads? Are my visuals okay or am I off-putting some people? Just who is your blog for? The decisions can be just as immediate, and in some cases more valuable than a poker bet.

2. Poker is about paying attention to what’s going on around you in some fashion. Even those people who play wearing headphones and listening to music are paying attention to what’s going on around them. They know if one guy always raises when he’s in the big blind. They know if someone is actually thinking about whether their hand is good or whether they’re trying to trick you into doing something stupid. They watch your hands to see if you change up when you have good hands or bad. They look at your eyes, even if you’re wearing sunglasses, to see what they do. When I’m truly in the zone, I know how every player I can see plays the game, and thus I play really well when I’m paying attention.

With blogging, it’s almost the same type of thing. I notice that when I write a post that’s actually a training tip of some sort it gets a lot of attention from people who don’t normally come to this blog. I know who’s going to visit and comment when I write personal posts. I know that if I’m writing a post about a potential money making venture, whether I made money off it or not, that post is going to do well. And I know which posts probably aren’t going to do all that well either. I have to weigh all that, though, for my own personal balance. All of it helps me grow, and there ends up being something for everyone.

3. If you stay at a table long enough, suddenly there’s a great sense of camaraderie and sharing. It’s funny; you sit down at a table with 8 strangers almost every time you go. There’s a feeling out process and you get to feeling like you know people. They get to thinking they know you. Your guard gets let down, to a degree, and suddenly you find yourself sharing stories and telling jokes and finding out what other people do. You learn that some people have come a long way to play while others are there every day. And, if you’re lucky, every once in awhile you’ll go back to play and actually run into someone you played with before, and it’s kind of a welcoming feeling, which is always nice.

I often say on this blog that if you’re lucky you’ll end up being a part of a blogging community, where there are a group of people you’ll be able to count on for a comment or for support or to write something on their blog that you can participate on. The strange thing about a blogging community is that you have to also realize that very few people who are commenting on your blog now will be there 4 to 6 months later. And it may not have anything to do with you; it just is what it is. But for that moment, those people give you love, you give some back, and it all feels good.

4. Real poker players don’t view chips as money, which is a scary proposition because, unless it’s a tournament, it really is money. It’s that feeling, though, that lets them do things you and I would never consider. For instance, there’s the story of a poker pro named Daniel Negreanu, who won a poker tournament and $1.5 million one day, only to lose all the money the next day playing a cash game. Most of us would have lost our minds but he just saw it as a bad day, and went back the day after and won some of it back.

Many of us view our blogs as an opportunity to make money, which isn’t a bad thing, but blogs aren’t really money. We read this advice saying we must do this or that in order to make money blogging. It’s possible you can make money in those ways, but you might not. Niche blogging might or might not make more money than just writing in general, but if you’re writing for the money instead of for the love it’s not going to come across right to potential readers, and you’ll be wasting your time. Having mailing lists and setting up newsletters you don’t really want to write doesn’t benefit anyone and can be more work than it should be. If you view your blog as only a potential money maker, you’re going to fail; that’s just how it goes.

5. Poker playing, no matter what level you play at, means you have to be willing to risk something. When I play poker I head into it knowing that there’s a possibility I’m going to come home out between $200 and $300. Sometimes I come home way ahead, slightly ahead, or break even. What’s rare is sitting down at a table and winning the first hand, or first few hands. Most of the time you’re going to be down, even if it’s only 2 or 3 dollars, based on ante’s whether you play a hand or not. Like all games, there’s always the risk of losing.

With blogging, losing is kind of a strange way of looking at things. Instead, let’s say things might not go as planned all the time. If you write it people won’t necessarily come unless you work in getting them to come. If you don’t answer comments or make commenting hard people will be reluctant to come, and thus reluctant to read. If you’re writing a niche blog that you define too finitely you might run out of things to say. If you don’t write enough posts people might lose interest.

You have to be willing to take risks every once in awhile. You might have to court controversy to get an opinion out every once in awhile. You might have to rely on spell-check more often to help correct spelling. You might have to re-read your posts on occasion if you realize you make a lot of mistakes. You might have to deal with trolls or spam here and there or loss of a portion of your privacy. And you might have to actually attempt to show people you have some knowledge about something, or are funny, or are entertaining, and that scares a lot of people. You might even have to risk being wrong; gasp!

There was a story on a blog post I was reading a few days ago on Problogger where a guy had started blogging and, though becoming somewhat popular, figured out that he was doing things the wrong way. I’ll never say there’s a wrong way in blogging, but it always depends on what it is you really hope to do later on. What he was doing went against what he later determined was his ultimate goal, so he had to stop, then wait awhile and start over so he could hit his goals. My point is that he took a risk, got part of what he wanted and part of what he didn’t want, and he knew he could always start anew.

There you are; 5 things you can learn from poker as you continue blogging into the next year. All I’m going to ask you to do is be safe tonight as you celebrate heading into the new year, and then head into the new years with guts and glory and success on your mind. Happy New Year y’all!

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Testing The Webcam

Lo and behold, I have a new webcam, my first ever. I was going to say that Santa bought it for me but that would be a lie. I’ve thought about having some kind of camera on my computer for a long time and decided to give myself a Christmas treat.

It turns out not to be as easy as one might think it would be, especially for someone who’s used to professional speaking. Figuring out where to look was an interesting challenge, and I was doing some things during the couple of practice runs that I had to quickly train myself not to do. Anyway, here’s the video:

There’s a few things I had to do to get the video on here.  I didn’t want to have to go to YouTube, so I installed a plugin called Embedded Video.  Then I had to switch to WYSIWYG so I could access the program, as that’s the only way it shows.  The last tab of the program allows you to pop in the link to the video, which is on my own website, and thus you see the video. Once I saw what the code looked like, I went back and got out of WYSIWYG and only used the code I saw before in my normal mode to see if it still worked, and it didn’t. So, it would seem that you can’t just write the code and add a video that way; sigh…

Also, my original file was around 183MB, so I had to upload it to my site, which took awhile being that big, but the video seems to be doing its job, and I’m a happy guy.

So, this post ends up being a great learning tool as well as you seeing my video; it’s all good. I did go back and find out that the webcam I bought today is the one I’m showing down below; it’s pretty neat and fairly inexpensive. I bought one for my wife as well today to replace her obsolete one once I got her a Win 7 machine.

What do you think?

Update If you don’t have a very fast internet connection it’s going to take forever for the video to load. I’m learning on the go, and I realize that’s a really huge file for many people. Sorry about that in advance.

Update II It turns out I actually have a YouTube account, though I have absolutely no idea where it came from. Anyway, the video is now able to be viewed by everyone; go for it! 😉
 

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Five Top 10’s For 2010

The year 2010 was an interesting year for me. I had some successes and some down times, but mainly it was a good year. As I look back on the year I had some things occur that have never happened before, and in some ways I grew a lot.

As I head into the fourth year of writing this blog, I thought it would be interesting to document some things in a top 10 fashion. I’m going to highlight some posts and some people that I felt either made an impact or was something I liked for whatever reason. This isn’t anything overly new. I’ve done something similar to this in the past, and of course every news outlet in the country is doing the same thing. I figure it’s my turn; there will be some surprises and some happy people; let’s see where this takes us. By the way, this one’s going to be long; you’ve been warned.

First, I’m going to start by thanking 10 people who made a big impact on my life in some fashion this year. Some of them have websites, and I’ll link to them if they do. Others don’t, and, well, obviously I won’t be linking to them. Most probably most of these people will never know I thanked them; nothing I can do about that. My top 10 people to thank, in mo particular order, are:

1. My wife, who helped me in more way than anyone could possibly imagine. I guess that makes sense, being married to me. lol And she does have a website, which I wrote about some weeks ago, called Li’l Specs.

2. Mom, who also has helped me out in more ways than I can name this past year. I’m really glad she stayed healthy all year long, and I hope she stays this way for a long time.

3. Beverly Mahone. I don’t even know how many times I was on her Blog Talk Radio program this year, and I was also on her regular radio program as well. Last December her organization named me as one of the Top Baby Boomer Men of 2010, and I got included in her most recent book, Don’t Ask, and I Won’t Have To Lie.

4. Scott Thomas. One of my best friends, definitely my longest. We shared dinner and pizza, movies, and of course you saw that lava lamp a couple of days ago. He comments on this blog as well, and has supported me for years, as I try to support him. He’s got a few websites as well, but I’m going to highlight his photography blog, Views Infinitum.

5. Peter Pellica, aka Sire of Wassup Blog and many other blogs as well. Sire’s been the longest blog friend I’ve had, and we play a lot of chess also. We support each other online, and that’s a great thing indeed.

6. Renée Scherer. Her site is called Presentations Plus, and many of you know that we put on some presentations together this year. She also worked on getting me to networking events, and I probably went to more of them than I might have otherwise.

7. Keith Siddel. Keith was responsible for the majority of my income this past year, and for that I definitely owe him thanks. His company website is HRM, and if you decide to check it out and go to his partners page you’ll see my business listed on it.

8. Jayson Gibson. I did more writing for Jayson this year than for anyone else, and it’s been a pleasure doing it. I can’t link to where I write for him, but maybe he’ll stop by on one of his trips and see it.

9. John… I don’t know his last name, which is a shame because he’s my next door neighbor. What did he do? Earlier this year we awoke to more than 11 inches of snow in the driveway, and it was wet and heavy. My back couldn’t handle it, and my wife couldn’t handle it either. We barely made a dent in it over the course of 30 minutes. He saw our distress and came over with his snow blower and took care of it for us. Then two weeks ago, after going out to shovel, what, 6 days in a row, I awoke to another day of at least 4 or 5 inches in the driveway, and once again my back had started giving up on me. I decided to wait an hour, and in that hour he actually came over and did it again, without my asking. You just don’t always get neighbors like that.

10. Josh Shear, with his blog of the same name. What’s his contribution? Without him I’d have never gone to a tweetup, and not met many of the people that are joining my local sphere of influence.

Next, I’m going to tackle the top 10 posts as far as visitors that were written in 2010. This one took awhile to research because many of my most visited posts are older, but the one at the top, which overwhelmingly blasted all the rest, is quite familiar to all of you at this juncture:

Cleavage – Yes, I’m Going There – 10,247

Webshots – 663

Should Sexting Be Illegal – 541

My Top 19 Favorite Classical Pieces – 365

Are You Obsessed With Numbers? – 242

Images Used By Permission – Copyright Laws – 225

My Hot Tub Adventures – 204

PDF My URL – 204

My Top 10 Fictional Characters – 171

Setting Up Twitter Tools (discontinued 10/12) -155

Next, another switch. Time to thank my top 10 commenters of the year. Some of you will be surprised by the figures, but this is how it’s played out for the entire year, and I thank y’all for visiting:

1. Sire (368)
2. Dennis Edell (154)
3. Carl (multiple websites) (123)
4. Carolee (120)
5. Patricia (109)
6. Val (109)
7. Charles Gulotta (105)
8. Rummuser (67)
9. Kissie (56)
10. John Dilbeck (55)

Next, something slightly different. There’s a plugin you can use that will tell you which of your posts were most popular via social media. It’s called PostRank, and it gives each of your posts a rank based on a number of criteria such as how many times it was retweeted, how many times it was posted on one of the other outlets such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, et al, how many times it was commented upon, and some other factors. The higher the ranking, which is based on a 10 point system, the more buzz that post generated. It doesn’t count page views, so for once the Cleavage post and some others won’t be on this list. Here’s that top ten, with rank:

First Page SEO Basics – 8.6

Would You Be Missed? – 7.8

Sunday Question – What Happened To Modesty? – 7.7

Sunday Question – What Do You Hope To Accomplish In The Last 3rd Of The Year? – 7.6

Twitter Plugin Changes Coming – 7.5

Why I May Not Comment On Your Blog – 7.4

Sunday Question – What Do You Really Think About Blogging? – 7.3

A Networking Meme – 7.1

Don’t “Stink”; Not Quite A Rebuttal – 6.9

And finally, something for myself. I took a look at more than 300 posts of mine and selected what I considered were my top 10 posts of the year, whether they got much attention or not. Here are those posts:

The Ethics of Your Writing

Are You A Lurker Or Participant in Life?

It Takes Guts To Have An Opinion

Expert, Specialist, Professional or Hack?

10 Things That Lead To A Happier, Healthier You

The Business of Blogging

The Myth of Link Building

Does Your Content Stink – Kind of a Rebuttal

Using Social Media To Grow Your Influence (with a picture of me as a kid lol)

SEO Is A Practice Like Medicine, Not A Science

That’s it; yeah, many of you might not care, but hey, it never hurts to take a look back at the past to see what one has done before, and then formulate where we’re going towards the future.

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