All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

Independence – Emancipation Day

In what could be seen as a controversial stance I take, I actually consider today, July 9th, the real Independence Day. That’s because, for me, the day the 14th Amendment was passed, which brought equal rights and protections to all citizens of the country, was the real Emancipation Day, which many misinformed people think was January 1st, when Abraham Lincoln gave his decree known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

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What’s the truth? The reality is that when Lincoln freed slaves, he only freed slaves in the southern states during the Civil War. And let’s face the fact that it didn’t free a single slave, and probably 99% of them never even heard of it at the time. Not that he didn’t have encouragement to do so, as it was believed that putting it out there would encourage free black people to join the army and fight for the cause, which did happen although Union military leaders really didn’t want them… that is, until the losses started to pile up.

What many others don’t know is that many of the states that voted for it did it under threat of not being established as a state again, which pertains to those southern states that had to bite the bullet after losing the Civil War. And in truth passing it did little to equalize things or make them fair in any way… at least at the time. Actually even now, even so many years, a bill has to come before Congress known as the Civil Rights Bill; that’s just a shame…

I don’t get political on this blog all that often and I don’t necessarily want to go there now, but I feel like I have to. I go that way because of the topic of immigration and how there are so many who are fighting this, even though it’s a protection that was granted, to a degree, by the 14th Amendment.

There are many who believe that just because someone was born in this country that it shouldn’t automatically give them citizenship. Not only would this violate the Constitution because of this amendment (which was supported by United States v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898, but it throws out history in general as that’s how this country not only came to be in the first place but how it grew.

The attack is also against those who came to this country in an unorthodox manner (I’m preferring that to “illegal) and have not only lived here a long time but many have served in the military and done great deeds for this country. Many people say they should be deported and not be allowed to remain, that they’re a drain on the financial resources of this country (like they care since they don’t want to take care of people who have been citizens of this country for centuries) and that they bring heavy crime (uhhh, who’s in jail more than anyone else by the numbers?).

You know what? Yeah, there’s some criminal elements, and there are some folks who live off governmental benefits. That’s going to happen. But the overwhelming majority work hard, travel hard, make little but are honest, proud people who have tried to be great examples of the opportunities this country has to offer.

I’m not saying that the borders shouldn’t be tightened so that people would be forced to go the correct route to get into this country; goodness knows that if uneducated people can get in from one country terrorists with a bit more education can also get in, and do. I’m saying that if someone has been here a long time and proven their worth, which is the majority, that they not only should be allowed to stay but should be given the opportunities for citizenship that, in my opinion, they’ve earned.

There; that’s my political post for the year… I hope!
 

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Are You A Lazy Networker Or Marketer?

Some of you know I own a blog about financial stuff. Some of you also know I used to accept guest posts on that blog, but ended it last December after being bothered by the types of requests I was getting, the lousy editing and, well, just the time it was taking away from doing other stuff.

Portrait of a Traveller
Dick Vos via Compfight

Even though I still get those requests, I can easily deflect them. However, if the offers are good, I still entertain letters about advertising, although so far I haven’t found any of them to be up my alley. I’m just not going to allow links or banner ads to any businesses or companies that aren’t aligned with finance on that site; that’s the smart way to do business right?

One type of email I get, that most people get, is the form letter. You know it, where you see the same language all the time, the lies about how they’re impressed with your site, yada yada.

One rule I’ve always had, even with the guest posts, is if my name isn’t in the email I ignore it and move on. When I was accepting guest posts, if I got a second email I’d write back quickly informing them that they hadn’t read the guest posting policy; yup, I had one of those, fairly extensive. Nowadays I’ll ignore that second email and move on with life.

Well, the other day I got a third email from someone. However, in both the second email and the third, instead of writing something new, and still not having my name anywhere in it, the emails said “contacting you again; see message below.”

Since I got a third email from the guy, I decided to write him back. This is what I wrote:

Greetings,

I’m responding to this email because it seems ignoring it hasn’t taught anything.

Yes, I saw the other emails. Why have I ignored them? Because every single email is proof that you or nobody else who works with you has ever visited my website. If you had you’ve have seen that I have a name, I have an about page and I have an advertising policy.

Frankly, it’s always been my assumption that if people who say they want to work for me show that they’re too lazy to look at anything on the site that I don’t trust them to keep their word on anything they have to say, thus I’m not working with them. I’m only writing you because you’ve sent this more than once.

If you’re actually representing the company you state you are, you’re doing it poorly. Maybe you’ll treat your job and give the people you hope to work with a bit more respect after this email. In any case, at this juncture I’m not interested. I wish you well as you pursue your career, hopefully with a bit more circumspection on how to contact potential customers and partners.

Was that too harsh? I didn’t think so, and I actually felt it was a good lesson that might help make this guy a little bit better at what he does and how he works.

Y’all know I’m an independent consultant in health care. Because I can’t call all the hospitals within a 7-state radius all that often I have a set of marketing letters to help introduce myself to the people I need to talk to.

Pushkar, chai wallah (tea vendor)
Arian Zwegers
via Compfight

What I have done is researched every hospital I wanted to send something to and found the names of the people in the position, as well as the actual title they hold, and that goes on the letters I send out; almost never email. I do that because I know if a letter is a bit more personal there’s a better chance it’ll at least be opened, and hopefully read. I also try to mention something about the hospital that I’ve learned that might flatter them in some fashion, such as acknowledging a new service they have or an award they’ve recently won.

Sometimes you get a name wrong because, in health care, people move around pretty fast. But that’s not a big deal because you’ll get the correct name when you follow up by phone. And that’s interesting because at least someone will talk to you, maybe not your intended target, if you have a name.

It’s just lazy marketing if you don’t try to find out someone’s name, or if you haven’t even looked at the website or blog of a person or business to see if maybe the information you’re looking for is there already.

Add this to the process of networking, where you reach out to someone without even attempting to know something about them. At many networking events I go to people only talk about themselves, and are pushing their business card at you before they’ve even told you their name. Sometimes I don’t even reciprocate by giving my card out because I know this is someone who could care less about me. Who wants to spend money, or sometimes even make money, working with someone who doesn’t care about you in the least?

Am I in the wrong here? Am I not being forgiving enough to those who obviously don’t know any better? Or do you see where I’m going, what I’m saying, and possibly agree? Let me know, and thanks for reading.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

5 Takeaways From My Video Project

On Monday I finally ended my video project. That project was first mentioned when I wrote my post about creating content.

Oswego Sunset
Sunset Over Lake Ontario

The main idea was that I needed more videos on my business YouTube channel. I had fewer than 30 videos overall, and now I have 58 on that channel because I did a video every single day for the month of June. I shared a couple on that other post, and during this month I celebrated my 13th year of having my own business with a video post giving 13 business lessons for those 13 years, the longest video of the series coming in around 29 minutes. I’m sharing that one now:
 


http://youtu.be/roOzb1sdqYA

One doesn’t undertake such a project without having some ideas and beliefs of what’s going to happen and what the goals are.

My first goal was to see if I could do 30 videos in a row, and that was only challenged once, when I knew I’d be on the road coming home and wouldn’t get in until after midnight, and since I’d be working all day I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do a video unless I did it beforehand and uploaded it just after midnight, which I did. Other than that… I did one every single day.

My second goal was to see if I could get more viewers to that YouTube page and possibly increase my subscribers in some fashion. I had a few viewers but overall I’m not sure it was more than what I’d had before. As for subscribers, I only got 2; I’ll take what I can get. 🙂

The third goal of course was to increase the number of videos that not only helped enhance what I tell people I do, but also to have some videos in reserve that I can go back to and embed in blog posts whenever I touch upon those subjects. That’s something that not all that many people do who create videos, but it’s also one of the reasons why I tell people all the time that they should create more videos.

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With that said I did learn some things, and I’m going to share 5 of them with you here. I’m not sure you’ll be able to use them all but hey, I think lessons can be learned in many different ways, in many different formats. Let’s see if you get anything from what I’m going to share; after all, this IS I’m Just Sharing lol:

1. You don’t have to plan every step way in advance for anything. For this series, the only video I actually planned was #24, the one I’ve shared above. In a way, that’s how I write most of my blog posts; I come up with an idea, then I write about it. I put this out there because so many bloggers tell people they have to come up with a blogging schedule to help them figure out what they want to write about; nah.

2. Almost every subject has a lot of different things you can talk about. I concentrate a part of my main business on leadership and topics surrounding that. Except for the last video and the one above all the other videos were on some type of leadership topic, which includes motivation. Truthfully, I could have probably done 30 more, but I think I made my point.

3. Marketing is a bear when doing that much content producing. Other than weekends, I worked or traveled every single day in June. I created the videos, but since they’re on my business channel they automatically go to my second Google Plus channel but no others, and I only have 4 people I’m connected to there. Also, if you create a video via Google Hangout you have to share the video links on your own, which is different than if you create a video and upload it.

Because I did a video every day, sometimes around 11PM Central time, I’d do the video, wait about 15 minutes for it to show up, and then post the title and link to my main G+ account and Twitter. I only posted two videos to my Facebook page, and neither got 20 views; cursed Facebook. lol And because it was daily I only posted each link once except for the video above, which I felt had a chance to reach a much larger audience.

The marketing of videos, along with the time period for trying to let people know when I was going to do one, wasn’t great and I think I suffered in that manner. This taught me two things.

One, I need to put out a message asking people to let me know if they want to be informed when I’m going to do a live video on certain topics and base it on those channels so I can add those people to their own circle.

Two, for the most part it’s better to do videos at a time when people are actually awake and not about to go to bed. It a way it’s not enough just to have the content. If I did a video around 7PM instead of 11PM and only got to share it with people afterwards, they were more apt to see the link while they were still on Twitter or G+ instead of being asleep and possibly seeing it when they awoke (yeah, like that happens for most people). I don’t think the pre-notification would have done much but posting afterwards much earlier in the evening or during the day on the weekends… way smarter thing to do.

Mushroom Dude

4. Don’t do videos if you have a mirror in front of you. In the second hotel room I was in there was this large mirror in front of the desk. Sometimes I start moving my arms when I talk, and most of the time you don’t see that in the video because I have the camera mainly on my face. However, I’d keep distracting myself because I’d see something moving, which of course was me. I could have covered up the mirror or gone out to the living room / dining room area to do the videos but I was too lazy. Still, trying to avoid as many distractions as possible is smart.

5. Sometimes you have to go with the flow. When I did the video above, which was long, I had multiple times where I had to scratch my nose or face. Initially I was fighting it like a boxer but eventually I had to succumb because there was no way I was going to make it through without scratching. If I knew how to edit videos I could have stopped and then come back, but that would have looked choppy and I’m not sure that would have made the video look better.

So I announced it the first time, and every other time I had to scratch or rub my face I just did it. Hey, it was hot, and I didn’t want to turn the fan on because I didn’t want the noise messing up my audio.

Sure, you want to look as professional as possible, but there’s a thing about live, that being that, well, it’s live! When I do live speaking engagements, sometimes I get an itch, or need to cough, or will pause and drink some water. When I interact with people in person, sometimes that happens as well. I don’t think that was an issue on any of the short videos because I pretty much spoke on my message and got out. But 29 1/2 minutes? Wasn’t going to happen.

There 5 takeaways that you may or may not be able to use. In any case I hope some of you watch the video above, especially if you’re thinking about starting your own business or have your own business and might feel you’re missing a few things.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

MJ, Legacies And Loss

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my being in business, and I did both a video and a blog post on my business blog.

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Today is unofficially known as Leon Day in some circles of the country, Eli Wallach passed away at age 98 (great actor; you young folks need to look him up), and it’s also the 5th anniversary of the passing of Michael Jackson.

I have spent most of the day listening to Michael Jackson songs and watching some Michael Jackson and Jackson Five videos. You know, when you listen to the songs it’s hard to believe that so many years have passed since he’s been gone because every song sounds fresh and new. Truth be told, this is probably what every generation feels when they listen to the music they love, thinking they’re actually younger than they are because they can remember where they were or what they were doing when they first heard the songs that made them feel wonderful, which happens for most of us when we’re younger.

Want to know a truth? For probably the first couple of years, after the first few days of shock, I couldn’t listen to any of his music. It just freaked me out, knowing that a new MJ song (that he approved) was never going to be released again. Also, I felt like my own mortality was in question because he was only a year older than me; if he had all that he had and left the world like that, what did it say for my chances?

All of us go through stages like this when family members pass, and probably when someone famous, that we never knew but admired for one reason or another, goes away. I have to admit that sometimes it extends further for me. For instance, there have been a couple of bloggers who have passed away that I miss here and there, and at the time I lamented their loss.

Most of the time we probably won’t know that someone we read all the time has suffered a life ending demise. We might think that they’ve just gone away, decided not to blog anymore or participate on social media anymore, and we get on with our lives. There’s really nothing else for us to do because, when all is said and done, probably 99.95% of all relationships we make online will end without much of a resolution. Think about it this way; how many people who used to visit you blog when you started not only don’t stop by anymore, but aren’t even blogging anymore? Do you know what happened to them?

Scary to think about isn’t it? Want to add to the fear? It’ll probably be you one day, and if you have a significant other, he or she probably has no idea how to tell anyone you won’t be back, let alone will even think about it. My wife has no presence on social media; if I go, the overwhelming majority of you will never know it. I’m betting it’s that way for you also.

I think that’s why we grieve a bit when famous people we know and like pass away. For everything they had they couldn’t stop it, and we also think that if they weren’t famous then they’d be just like us, with a few family members sad that we’re no longer around but us not making even the smallest dent in life. What’s our legacy right?

What’s our legacy? Well, for me it’ll be my blogs, my videos, and other articles I have on the internet. I think that’s another reason I keep creating so much stuff and putting out so much stuff. I think someone will care at some point, and maybe one thing I write will help someone or help change their mindset or make them feel pretty good, even if it’s just for a short period of time. One can only hope, right?

See, even in death Michael Jackson’s got me thinking about stuff. Let’s see if my sharing the song below, my favorite song of all time, gets you thinking about you legacy also:
 


http://youtu.be/CT586E9OUfg

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

When Free Speech/Privacy Advocates Lose Their Mind

As some of you know, I play an online game on a site called Empire Avenue. I’ve written about it a couple of times, and if you know nothing about it check out the link above.

Facebook: The privacy saga continues
opensource.com via Compfight

This post isn’t really about Empire Avenue, but it plays prominently in this tale, a cautionary tale for all of you who want the cake of freedom of speech and the ability to eat your rights to privacy at the same time. How ugly will this tale end? Stick around…

Empire Avenue has a number of communities where people can get together to discuss all kinds of stuff. I joined a few early on in the game, never liked them much because it didn’t seem anyone had anything to say, and never joined one again.

However, a friend of mine sent me a link to one of the general communities of people who are considered leaders on the site because she wanted me to check something out. Seems there was some general fighting going on about some of the processes in the background of the game that she wanted me to see.

In the middle of it all was this guy, whose name (fake or real) I’m not going to mention, nor his blog, links, Twitter page, etc, because I don’t want to get in the middle of it all; you’ll see why as I get through this story.

Anyway, this guy seemed to be completely out of control. He came into this particular discussion with a chip on his shoulder for some reason and began personally attacking people. He actually came to the defense of someone I’m not even sure he really knows because of something that was said in a Facebook group, and on that one and only point I agreed with him on.

However, he went too far and started calling out anyone he could think of who’s a major player in the game (which is why I’m never mentioned lol) in this forum. And if it had stayed there things might have died down.

But you know that’s not how this story goes. Turned out the guy has a blog on WordPress.com and he started ranting and writing these tomes about the evils of Empire Avenue and naming names and quoting people and pasting images of conversations from the community forum that, in essence, was a major violation of people’s privacy, especially since many of those people had nothing to do with the initial conversation and, in his “wisdom”, he decided to call out those who attempted to call for peace; sigh…

If it's on the Internet, it isn't private.
DonkeyHotey via Compfight

One of the reasons this guy thought he could get away with all this abhorrent behavior is because he went behind a fake name; actually, two fake names, one of those being a deceased actor/comedian. So he went nuts, saying all this stuff about everyone he could think of, posting their images and the like, and boosting it all via his Twitter account as well. He became the Empire Avenue troll; there’s a nice business gift.

And he proclaimed his right to free speech when some of those people complained about his putting their names on his blog and posting them on Twitter, and said that anything on Empire Avenue was his to use as he wished.

However, he started to dislike some of the backlash he started getting on Twitter, and at this point he put out a cease and desist… on Twitter? On Twitter, if you don’t want to see something you just block people, but that wasn’t enough for him. He didn’t want them writing anything about him at all, so he put out a cease and desist against everyone who was against him, and he wrote about it on his blog.

And he started sending letters to Empire Avenue, state and federal agencies in the United States and Canada (where EA resides), and in one instance even called the employer of one of the people he had a beef with to say this guy was harassing him online; wow!

But he made some mistakes. See, what most people don’t realize is that if they’ve been on social media for any amount of time they’ve built up a trail that someone with motivation can follow and find out a lot about that person. Who would have more motivation than a guy who had his job threatened by a lunatic? For that matter who would have more motivation because they’d been called out on a lunatic’s blog?

You guessed it; they found out who he was. They got his name, where he went to school, pictures of what he really looked like, his age, pictures of his children (yup, this guy has kids, adult kids, but the folks had some morals and didn’t post pictures of his kids online). And after people talked with each other to confirm that they all had the same information…

They posted it all on Google Plus. Then they put the link out on Facebook and Twitter so anyone who was connected to some of these folks (or in the Facebook group for EA, which I’m a member of) could see it.

Of course I went to read it all. Fascinating stuff, especially the part about being 43 years old and living in the basement of his mother’s house because he has no real job right now. Seems that’s why he has so much time to troll all these EA members.

You know what happened next… part of it anyway. He went off, saying he was going to file a lawsuit against EA for giving out his personal information, and then lawsuits against all these people for violating his privacy. But he also smartened up… slightly. He went back to all those images he’d posted and started blacking out names that weren’t blacked out previously. He also started going back to remove some names from posts he’d written; y’all know it’s too late for that because everyone he named has copies of it all.

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This post needed some cute

At this point he hasn’t backed off, and in an amazing move is actually showing EA shutting him down for his bad behavior, which he can’t see, while still complaining about everyone else violating his privacy, and admitting openly that not only is his name fake (folks can use fake names) but that his “business” information is also fake (folks aren’t allowed to do that part, but since he owned up to it he violated the terms of service), and is thus banned for good.

What’s this story about? Consequences. Many times I’ve written on this blog about consequences for actions and how people need to protect themselves online.

There was a recent news story about a guy who visited some Instagram pages of people who lived in his area that he’d never met, and then he went out and found these people in places they said they congregated, talked to them as if he knew them and told them all kinds of stuff that they thought was private, and only after shocking them with what he knew finally telling them how he’d found it all out (it was all recorded on video). They were all both amazed and shocked because it never occurred to them just how much of themselves they were giving out; lesson learned.

I’ve talked about the topic of controversy and, if you decide to go this route, how it can backfire on you if you’re not prepared for it, and how you want to choose your language carefully if you do decide to take on a subject you know some folks aren’t going to react well to.

I’ve also talked often about privacy, the lack thereof, and how if you’re not going to protect your own privacy all that well that you owe something greater, a major responsibility to your family and friends because most of them probably didn’t ask to be brought into the sphere of social media. That these folks found out about this guy’s kids, with pictures and everything, and his mother, his mother’s house, et al… for a guy talking so much about protecting his privacy he didn’t do a good job of it.

Social media isn’t something anyone should be scared of. But everyone needs to know the inherent dangers of what can happen. On my business blog I’ve talked about the dangers of thinking everyone you work with is your friend and how those folks more often than not will throw you under the bus to save their own skin. It’s like that.

Just two weeks ago two high school girls did two videos on YouTube that were racist against people in their school and community. Now they’ve had to leave school and will be home schooled, even after apologizing, because their safely can’t be guaranteed and the school was suspending them anyway.

Let me spell these lessons out:

* Don’t be stupid online

* Don’t think you can have total privacy online

* Don’t call anyone out unless you’re ready to deal with it

* Don’t think your freedom of speech trumps anyone else’s freedom of speech

* Don’t start none, won’t be none

Anyone disagree with anything I’ve said here? By the way, notice I didn’t mention any names, didn’t link to anything, so only a few people on EA, none of whom read this blog, could ever even figure out who I was talking about. So, if this person finds out about this post & has anything to say… it wasn’t me who violated anyone’s privacy… right? 😉
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell