All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

When Things Get Personal On Blogs

This is a rant post, and I’m naming names. I’m going to try to be fair, but if I’m not, part of me doesn’t care, but the other part almost apologizes up front; almost, that is.

black-man-rant

There is a post on a blog called Growmap that’s ranting against Akismet. Okay, Akismet might not be perfect, but I’ve been a major supporter of the program for almost 4 years, and I’m not going against them now. The writer, Gail, has done some testing and supposedly she has seen that some comments end up being killed by Akismet. Not moved to the spam folder, but killed overall.

Or so she says; one never really knows if a post was accidentally deleted by someone when they emptied their spam folder or if a post was deemed as being spam by the reviewer. I know many bloggers who say they never check their spam filter; that’s not good, but it’s their blog so life is what it is. I will say that in reading other posts of Gail’s that she tends to be very thorough, as much as one can be.

Anyway, she and a few other people have gone on a crusade against Akismet, even though Gail states that she doesn’t hate it. Okay, that’s fine. I put a comment on her post saying I support Akismet and was a major fan. It wasn’t all that long a comment, and it wasn’t the first (update 6/2015; she updated the post & removed all those previous comments, including mine).

However, the response I got was way out of proportion to my original comment, and other people were skipped; to me, that was intentional and personal, and I didn’t like it one bit. And me being me, well, I don’t demure from certain things, so I commented back, trying to temper my language (I don’t curse, but I can be kind of mean spirited at times when pushed), and I think my response was okay.

Next thing I know, I receive responses on this blog from two of her supporters, one writing from a place called Linda Christas, which is supposed to be an online training organization of some sort (no, I’m not linking to them). They’re supporting Gail, which is fine, but they wrote these long comments on a post of mine that has nothing to do with the subject matter I wrote about.

In my mind, that’s spam, and I don’t appreciate it, and I went to Gail’s blog and said as much. There’s a point at which things cross the line and get truly personal, and I don’t take that kind of mess kindly, especially when the people saying stuff are trying to hide, in their own way, who they are.

One of the people, a woman named Leone, wrote with the email address of this Linda Christas. There’s this woman who either really works there or is a scam of some sort who calls herself Dr. Ann. This person has posted comments on my blog and other blogs.

At first the comments seem to match up to the content. Then they go off topic and start this rant against Akismet. It seems Linda Christas is on a crusade against Akismet, and they’re trying hard to pull other people into the process.

If you think I’m the only one who sees this and is calling it out, check out this post on TechPatio titled Comment Spam, She’s Back: Dr. Ann Voisin From Linda Christas College. And if you want to see his first post on this person and this college, which was only days earlier, check this one out as well, titled Akismet Blocking Your Blog? No Way, Just a SPAM Trick!.

Of course my respect for this college is gone, especially since I just saw a post on their site, unordinarily long, ranting against Akismet, and frankly it parrots the same type of tripe I’ve seen coming from a few other places. At least Gail did a study of some sort, which I applaud her for (see, I’m trying to be fair here).

Gail also called me out on her blog asking if she’d ever written anything that I considered as spam on this blog and I had to tell her yes, the last time she visited, which was June 2009. So, this could color her idea in some way of what spam just might be. Her last response to me, before I got mad because of the other people who came from her blog to post their “threats” about not visiting this blog again, was not in attack mode, and I appreciate that as well.

I need to say this. I have gone on attack mode on other people’s blogs, so I’m not totally innocent here. However, if I do that, I do it for one of two reasons.

One, you don’t get to go after any of my friends without a confrontation from me; that’s what loyalty is all about, and if my friends don’t breach the rules of proper decorum in another place, I’ve got their back.

Two, you don’t get to get away with racist or misogynist or any other type of hateful speech and think I’m going to let it go. Too many people decide to turn the other way and let that kind of thing go by, and that’s why we end up with some of the problems we have in this world.

Sure, I don’t expect the majority to always step in to help fight these things because it’s not in their interest; they have nothing to gain by speaking out for those who they indirectly believe are less than themselves, even if they don’t express it. So, if anyone goes to Gail’s blog and reads my initial post and thinks I attacked her in any way, please explain to me how I did it.

So, I have no respect for Linda Christas and the type of people it seems to put out; yes, that’s an attack. If people representing them believe they can come into my house and spit on my rug, it’s not happening.

I left the other comment on my previous post, even though it had nothing to do with the topic; believe me, that won’t happen again, and if someone wants to cry censorship, tough. I pay for this space, and there are comment rules; don’t follow them, don’t expect anything extra-special coming your way on my part because you feel you have the right. That mess won’t be tolerated.

If it happens on this post, it might be tolerated, since I’m in attack mode, so to speak. But we’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue using Akismet, and I don’t care who likes it or doesn’t like it. People who use Disqus or Intense Debate know I don’t like those things, and yet they continue using it. Because it’s their right to use it, just as it’s my right to use Akismet. We can debate the merits of it; no problem. But when it goes further, when it gets personal… I’ll stop there.
 

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Are Americans Stupid, Or Do We Just Not Care?

There was a strange story on CNN that analyzed President Obama’s speech to the nation on Tuesday night. However, this analysis was different than the norm. Instead of looking at the content or determining if it was effective or not, instead it concentrated on whether it was too “professorial” for most people to understand.

Once again, it’s the “dumbing down of America” conversation, and in truth there seems to be a lot of proof that it’s true in some fashion. Many of us have seen Jay Leno asking people on the street questions to things that should be obvious and heard the stupid answers that come from them. One time he interviewed recent college graduates and it was shocking to hear some of the answers they were giving.

You want to know how entrenched the idea is? Many of you know I’m a health care finance consultant. Well, one of the directives from Medicare is that any information we give to Medicare patients must be written at a 3rd grade level. That’s right, we have to try to find a way to write complicated stuff so an 8-year old can understand it. Trust me, that’s not easy to do, and hospitals get called on it all the time.

So, are we Americans dumb? Is our educational system failing us? The popular answer is “yes”. However, when you think about it, you’d have to say it’s not even close. What has happened is that people, including children, have locked onto what they believe is important to them, and on that specific thing they’re geniuses. Think back to your youth for a moment. How much do you remember from your history lessons? Then how many song lyrics do you remember from music you loved at the time?

Think about spelling. Man, do I see a lot of spelling mistakes everywhere. Even words people use all the time get spelled incorrectly. As a former employer, it used to amaze me that I’d get resumes where people would misspell the name of the school they went to; those immediately went into the trash.

Still, are we dumb? I’ll use myself as an example. I like to think I’m pretty smart. I know a lot about a lot of things. Yet, I have no concept of geography, which was highlighted again a couple of nights ago when our friend Ching Ya mentioned she lived in Malaysia, and I had absolutely no idea where it was. Then I looked it up on Google and I still wasn’t sure where it was; that’s a shame.

I also know nothing about cars except how to drive them and put gas in. I had a car years ago that I kept putting oil in, thinking it was leaking oil, only to learn that I’d been looking at something other than oil; I can’t even think of what it was at this juncture.

Why don’t I know these things? Because I don’t care. I can pay someone else to fix my car. I don’t see myself leaving the country any time soon (well, maybe a trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls again some day), so I have no interest in knowing where most countries are specifically, since I do have a general idea of where places are. Does this make me dumb or just uninterested? And if this is how I am, could most people be the same way?

I really don’t know; I’m just putting it out there. However, there’s a program called WebCEO that will analyze your website and give you a lot of information about it, and one time when I ran it against my main business website it said it was written at a high school level and that maybe I should change some of the language of the site. Frankly, I think telling someone that their content is too intelligent is an insult to others, and I’m not doing it.

Then again, I once wrote a song with the word “recalcitrant” in it, and my friend Scott said he wanted to hit me. I wonder if he remembers that. 🙂 Anyway, what are your thoughts on the intellect of either Americans, or the people in whatever country you live in? I’m betting we’re not alone in believing that our populations are less intelligent than in the past.

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Goals For A Social Media Strategy

Two posts ago I asked the question Do You Have A Social Media Strategy? I acknowledged that I didn’t have one, and a few steps I was going to take towards having one. I wanted to talk this time about goals, because without goals, a strategy is just a hope. I also wanted to clarify that these goals have nothing to do with this blog, but my traditional businesses.

So, what would my goals be? How would I define these goals? And what about Naomi (that’s for the Electric Company fans in the crowd)? And finally, what are the ramifications of those goals versus my wish to do some other things just because I want to do them? For instance, if I set a business goal, will things such as this blog or some of my political and racial positions impede any benefit a social media marketing strategy might entail?

That last one is the most important one, believe it or not, at least as it pertains to Twitter. I have a definitive political position. I also obviously call out racism wherever I see it. Politics is dangerous because you never know who you might irritate on the other side; you also never know who might irritate you. During the 2008 election, I eliminated a lot of people from my Twitter stream because of some of the outright nasty stuff, including lies, that were being said about people I was supporting. I didn’t mind anyone taking a contrary view; we don’t all agree on everything after all. I wasn’t putting up with certain types of decorum, however. Because I don’t put up with certain decorum as it pertains to people I support, I also won’t act that way against anyone else; well, most of the time anyway. And that becomes a major issue; will my political beliefs, and my penchant for calling someone out on a racial issue, hurt my social media marketing? And if so, how much do I care?

Question answered; I don’t really care. I go out of my way almost always to be as kind as I can. However, there is idiocy in the world, and every once in awhile we have to call it out. The people who usually follow me believe as I do, and those that don’t usually don’t stick around. So, as far as Twitter is concerned, I’m okay with it all. Luckily, I don’t get into politics on either LinkedIn or Facebook, so it’s all good.

The next step is in defining my goals; what do I want to get out of whatever I do. That makes a lot of sense, because how can I set my goals if I don’t know what I hope to achieve. Me being me, I have a lot of things I want to achieve, and each of the three ways I hope to achieve it offers something different. But the overall defined goals are:

          * More brand awareness of my businesses

          * More brand awareness of who I am

          * More consistency in clients and income

On the surface that might not look like a lot, but it is. I have two businesses, but I have many different services I can provide through those two businesses. One is set up for more success, the other isn’t. I also want to market myself, as I keep pushing on my goal of being a professional speaker and presenter, and I speak on a multitude of topics as well.

Social Madness

The last part is every consultant’s dream, that being to make at least a consistent amount of cash, more money than we made working our regular jobs before we became consultants, so we can spend more time becoming more proficient as what it is we hope to do. The way I make my money is in short spurts; I make a lot of money very quickly, then I make a little bit of money for awhile until I get another opportunity to make a lot of money again. Sometimes those gaps between large money go much longer than is comfortable, so I need to shore that part up, and if I shore it up enough I won’t have to worry about the large gaps anymore.

This means that, at this juncture, the final piece is planning my goals, or steps, to achieve what I want to get to. I’m not putting that part down just yet. To me, this is the longest part, the part that needs more thought so that I’m not haphazardly throwing things out without the full plan. I also figure this is enough for anyone else who’s been thinking about setting up a strategy, who might be reading this and thinking that you want to try it along with me, to now sit down and plan your strategy as well. If you do decide to try something, I hope you share either here or on your own blog; I’d love to see where you’re taking it.

By the way, there’s a great possibility that I might be presenting a live seminar in July and August on this topic, which is why I’m now thinking about this entire thing. After all, it makes you much more convincing if you’re actually gone through the entire process as well. Right?

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Jeanni, R.I.P.

When I met the woman on the right, I also met the woman on the left. Only the woman on the left was 12 years old, and now… well, I speculate she’s got to be close to 40, if not so. That’s how long I’ve known Jeanni and Amy. For years, you didn’t see one without seeing the other. Then Jeanni married, had other kids, and Amy grew up and moved on with her own life.

This is my brief story about Jeanni. She wasn’t like almost anyone else I knew. She was loud, boisterous, and very ballsy. She was a bowler, and a very good one as well. She came across sometimes as direct and in your face, but it was a mask for the good person she really was. I could tell that in her daughter, who was the most adult kid I’ve ever met, and whom I finally got to tell that to about two weeks ago.

Jeanni, as it turns out, was very well known around town. A few years ago, she developed diabetes. In the past year, we all learned she had cancer. On Sunday, there was a fundraiser for her and her family to try to help with both bills and possible further cancer treatments. Yes, she smoked for most of her life, but she did quit about 6 or 7 years ago; sometimes, it’s just too late at a certain point. She ended up getting cervical cancer.

However, at this fundraiser, which was held at a local bowling alley, I don’t believe I’m exaggerating if I said that almost 400 people, if not more, came out. We all paid $20 to come in and enjoy the festivities, and then there were many other things we could do in contributing more money to the cause. They had raffles for gifts that were donated from a variety of sources, including a 32″ flat screen HD television; I mean, how many people are liked enough to have someone donate a gift like that? For that matter, how many of us believe nearly 400 or 500 people would come out for us if something like this were held for us?

I was amazed, not necessarily at the number of people but at some of the people who showed up. Turns out she knew a lot more people that I knew, and none of us knew that we all knew her. Turns out she bowled with a lot of both men and women all over the city, helped run adult and children’s league, and bowled in many tournaments. Turns out she volunteered a lot of her time to others; who knew? And on Sunday, all those people came together, along with 3 bands, lots of food, free drinks of sorts (no free diet soda, which is what I drink; what’s up with that?), and lots of bowling and laughter.

Her kids were there; she wasn’t. She had taken a turn for the worse. On Monday, she lost her battle. I thought about it because I believed if she had been well enough to attend that she would have been emotionally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love to her and her legacy. I think most of us would be astonished to have that kind of showing for anything we did.

So, once again, I have to hope that another friend rest in peace. Man, I hate getting older.

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Do You Have A Social Media Strategy?

I was reading an article by my friend Josh Shear titled Why Social Media Isn’t Working For Your Business and it made me start to think a bit more about social media and how it is or isn’t working for my business. I mean, I’ve written about using social media for promotion after all.

I have to say that it’s worked great for my social life, which is why it came about to begin with. Because of Twitter, I’ve met some people at local tweetups that I’d have never met on my own, and there’s a lot of both nice and smart people around here that I’m happy to have gotten to know. Through LinkedIn, I’ve met one or two people over the years in person, but I can’t say it’s done a lot for me socially. The same goes for Facebook as far as meeting people locally, but I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk to people around the world that I’d have never met any other way. Same goes for Ryze, though I’ve actually met some of those folks in person, and talked on the phone with some as well.

But what about business? I have to admit that I haven’t had a consistent social media marketing strategy, although I’ve had fits and starts. I did create my LinkedIn page a very long time ago, and I wasn’t all that far behind the Twitter revolution. I even now have that Facebook marketing page for my businesses, which I was just able to double in “likes”, which they now use instead of “fans”.

So, the question is how would one go about creating a social media marketing strategy. I have an idea of how I’m going to create mine, or at least enhance mine. If you think this is something you’d like to think about as well, look at my points here; I always work well with outlines. This outline is going to mention the top three specific social media options I presently use.

1. On LinkedIn, I need to take more advantage of the area that allows you to let people know what I’m up to on a real time basis. The reason that’s a big deal is because LinkedIn sends an email once a week to everyone telling them what’s going on with the people they’re connected to. It always highlights the newest stuff first, then goes backwards, and once it reaches so many highlights it gives a link to go online to see more if you wish. However, I’m betting most people don’t wish, so making sure I take advantage of staying current will help to make sure my name shows up in this email on a more regular basis.

2. On Twitter, I already have my current blog posts show up. However, I have lots of old posts on topics that are still relevant, and I have articles in many places as well. If I want to increase my brand and show those following me on Twitter what I’m all about, I need to make sure that I’m posting at least one extraneous link either every day or every couple of days to stuff I’ve done in the past.

3. On Facebook, I did something a few days ago that I’d said I wasn’t going to do, or didn’t want to do. I decided to specifically invite some people, and I did, going through the people I’m connected to and inviting some very specific people. These were friends who I believed would get a kick out of seeing what I’m doing these days. Lo and behold, my subscriber base doubled. This proves that sometimes in marketing all you have to do is ask. I might eventually invite other people who I’m connected with there; we’ll see. Oh yeah, if you’d like to check it out, click on that little box there to the right.

I think this is a pretty good start. But what is it I’m trying to do? That’s the next post.

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