All posts by Mitch Mitchell

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

What Passes For Good Information Might Not Be

By now those of you who are using WordPress as your blogging platform of choice know that there’s an update, 3.9. It’s definitely changed some things, including overriding some of my settings for how I have my admin area colorized, but I’m going to let that go… for now…

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Instead, I want to key on something you might not have noticed yet. If you look at the comment section of your admin area, underneath the names of people who comment on your blog you’ll now see this number. It shows how many times someone has commented on your blog; cool eh?

I thought that this would be cool to use because maybe I’d want to write a post showing how many people have commented often and how often they’ve done so. Then I looked deeper at it.

As an example I’m showing a strip of my admin panel (so, my colors are funky lol) highlighting our friend Peter Pellicia when he was calling himself Sire. You’ll notice that had made 3 separate comments; you’ll also notice that the number of approved comments WordPress is showing aren’t the same. Heck, they’re all drastically different.

I looked at a bunch of comments from Pete just to see if I could find a pattern. Turns out that answer is no. It’s not based on link, topic, email address, name… You can look at it yourself; there’s nothing defining what it’s looking at.

Thus, I’m forced to conclude that, even though it initially seemed cool, it’s really worthless information. There’s nothing legitimate I can do with it, and if you look at your information, at some point you might realize the same thing.

Sometimes that’s just how it goes. Some of us hold onto certain numbers as if they’re the Holy Grail while others look at those numbers and scoff. Let’s see… Klout score, page rank, Alexa rank, Compete rank, number of followers on Twitter, number of friends on Facebook… over and over we see numbers that are supposed to mean something that probably mean less than what we think. Some are good as a visceral reference (for instance, I tend to use Alexa as a broad based number to determine how well a website’s traffic might be, realizing that a site in the 100,000’s is working better than a site in the 3 millions while recognizing that a site in the 3 millions might be making more money if it’s targeted to its audience properly), but not much else.

For that matter, even the number of blog comments might not tell you what’s going on with your blog. The difference between a blog post with 300 comments and a blog post with 2 might be the popularity of the writer and not the content. If Sergey Brin writes a blog post and takes comments, how many people do you think will comment hoping that either he’ll see it and want to hire them to work for Google (ain’t happening kids lol) as opposed to commenting on this blog hoping I can help make them famous (that’s not happening either… for now…)?

Even Google Analytics, for all the press and publicity we’ve all given it, can’t really help us out. Most of the data about keywords is hidden in a collective area, so we don’t even know why or how people are finding us via search engines. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the data they’re giving us really means in the long run; that’s not helpful is it?

Bummer right? If there are so many reports and such that we can’t trust, what can we trust to help us figure things out?

First, you know what your engagement is like, so trust your instincts. I love using Adrienne Smith as an example of someone who truly gets the engagement piece. Her blog posts always get a lot of comments, and not nickel and dime stuff. She puts things on Facebook and Google Plus and you see a lot of people responding to it, even if it’s just questions like what color is your dog (I don’t think that’s specifically one she’s asked but… lol).

Me? Most of the things I put on Google Plus are ignored, and sometimes I wish more of the stuff I share on Facebook was. lol Still, I know where I stand and have an opportunity to figure out what I need to do to improve. I don’t need any of the rankings to tell me what’s going on; I can see which posts people are commenting on and I know which of my tweets get shared on Twitter.

If you didn’t sit back and look at the numbers, are you comfortable trusting your own instincts to know where you stand on social media? For that matter, do you trust your instincts to help you get through life? Let me know; I’m interested in this topic and hope you are also.
 

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Sometimes You Don’t Have Control Over The Goals You’ve Set For Yourself

Back at the end of December I wrote a post here and included a video on some of my long and short term goals for 2014 and beyond. It’s no secret that I want to be a professional speaker and travel around the country giving presentations and getting paid for it. There’s also no question that I know what the secret is to getting there.

Wicker Paradise Photo Archive: Superbowl Sunday Inspiration Quote. shared via http://blog.wickerparadise.com
Wicker Paradise via Compfight

Well… I kind of have to modify that second part, the one about knowing the secret. Truth be told, even with over 1,500 articles on this site, 3,500 or so total for all my blogs, articles all over the place and for as long as I’ve been online I’m still not all that well known. I’m not infamous enough or notorious enough or brazen enough to go too far out of my comfort zone of who I am to crossover enough to be really big time.

Yet, with all that folderol, I assumed that when all was said and done that I would have achieved at least enough notoriety as a black blogger that, at least somewhere along the line, I might have a shot at making a top 100 list somewhere of black bloggers, and possibly have it extend to social media.

Thus, when a post came out on a blog that listed the 100 Most Influential Black People on digital/social media, I thought I might have an outside shot at it. After all, I came in #224 in a recent blog list and was maybe behind 7 or 8 black bloggers on the list. That’s the kind of thing that makes you think you have a shot on a more directed list, wouldn’t you agree?

Well, it didn’t happen, but I don’t want you to think I’m mad at the list or upset that I’m not on it. That’s not the point of this post because that’s not the lesson here. It’s not that I’m not on the list, or my buddy Ileane Smith isn’t on the list or Lisa Irby isn’t on the list or Beverly Mahone isn’t on the list, folks who are more prominent in social media moreso than me. Well, it is, but it’s not.

If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission
billsoPHOTO via Compfight

What it’s about is criteria that, for goals many of us set, we don’t have a chance to reach because we not only don’t know the criteria until after the fact, but we don’t even know how to get into the game when compared to some of the folks that are on the list, or in the game.

When the list starts with President Obama, Beyonce, The Rock and Oprah, you know you’re in trouble. It doesn’t matter whether the question is if they’re actually just prominent and influential people in general, which carries over into social media, or whether their social media presence is strong enough so that even if they weren’t famous celebrities would they even count. What matters is that it’s not always about criteria… it’s about who you know and who knows you.

I’ve got to be truthful. At 54 years of age I don’t think that any marketing I could even think about doing would propel me to the level of most of the people on the list, so shooting for a top 100 inclusion makes little sense. Heck, if the folks I named above couldn’t get it done, what the heck am I going to do?

However, I have decided that one of my goals for 2014 is to work on becoming more prominent, to the point where my name is mentioned by more people, I’m interviewed by more people, more people view my videos, and my name does get out there in some fashion.

Do I think any of it will get me on the list? Nope, not a chance. However, it could happen and that’s not really what the goal comes down to being about.

Ever hear of a guy named Eric Thomas? He’s a motivational speaker and I’ll bet that you’ve heard some things he’s said in motivational videos without realizing it’s him. He’s a guy who grew up in a bad section of Detroit, dropped out of high school, lived a horrible life that ended up with him and his wife being homeless for a long time until he realized one day that his experience didn’t have to define him. He went back to get his GED, then got his college degree, got his master’s degree, and is a paper from a doctorate, just before he turned 39 I believe. He had a company and employs others, travels all over the country giving motivational speeches and does a lot of other interesting things.

And he has a goal… to get the Nobel Peace Prize. He said it’s not that he thinks he’ll really get it but it’s an audacious challenge he feels will motivate him to push harder to be better and become better known, to help more people, and even if he doesn’t get there he’ll improve and improve the lives of many more people.

See, we all have goals that we can have some control over. I had a minor goal since Christmas to buy a washer and dryer, which seems like a small goal, but my wife and I bought a washer and dryer, as well as a new stove, weeks ago. Cash, no credit, no payments… that was a minor goal but one we had control over.

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Sometimes we have goals that we may or may not have control over, that may or may not manifest themselves the way we think they will. Last year I had a money goal I wanted to hit and I didn’t quite hit it in 2013. However, from last May to this May I will have hit that money goal, which will mean I hit my money goal in a year, just not the way I thought I would. And, if I continue on my present contract until at least the end of November, I’ll actually hit that money goal by then for 2014; if it ends, I have other things in the works to help me get there.

And other times we have no control over the ultimate goals we set. In 2012 Pete Pelliccia and I decided to shoot for the Shorty Award for blogging, and we really thought we had a chance at it. We didn’t come close, even if we both finished in the top 15. The winner was some musician in another country who, as far as I could determine, didn’t even have a blog. But people in his country voted for him and he was popular there and that was that for us. I haven’t tried since because in its own way it’s rigged, not by the people who run it but by groups of people who can vote anyone into a category they don’t really qualify for. Still, it was a shot at gaining a bit more publicity, as I got to write about it and try to encourage people to vote for me, even if I never knew who voted.

That’s what I want to push on all of you, or anyone who reads this particular post. If you’re trying to make money, if you’re trying to gain publicity, or if you’re just trying to get more followers or even something else, you have to have something to aim for that you don’t really think you’ll ever reach but you still shoot for it. You don’t have to figure out immediately what you’re going to do to get there, though you will have to try something at some point. You don’t have to share it like I have; you just have to do it.

And, like last time, if you think you need some help I’ll do what I can. I’m not going to put more work into promoting you than you should be doing, but if I see the effort and you want some help, I’ll help. Helping is a version of marketing and self promotion also; kind of a pay it forward event if you will.

Am I crazy? Are you crazy? Are you ready for bigger and better? Let me know below; yeah!
 

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10 More Writing Tips, This Time In Three Minutes

Man, time moves fast. It was almost 2 years ago that I wrote my original post giving 10 Writing Tips In Two Minutes. Whereas I want to try to keep the other article in your mind, it also occurred to me that there are more tips that could help people that, though maybe not fitting within 2 minutes, will fit within 3 minutes. At least that’s all the time it would take me to read them. 🙂

With that said let’s get going.

her hands
Vyacheslav Bondaruk via Compfight

1. Create an outline. Sounds like work but it can really help you keep your focus on whatever you want to write about.

2. If you see a squiggly line underneath certain words, it either means you spelled it wrong or your spell check doesn’t recognize the word. Don’t ignore it; fix it.

3. Always keep a piece of paper or something else you can record on with you so if you have an idea to write about you can note it & come back to it later on.

4. If you have a favorite word you know you always use, after you’ve finished writing go back to see if you’re written it too many times, and if so eliminate some of them.

5. If your writing feels too formal you probably didn’t use any, or many, contractions. Use them; they make you feel real to your audience.

6. If you use large words make sure you’re using them properly. Using them makes you look smart to people who won’t look them up in a dictionary, but if your using them correctly then dabbling in the art of sesquipedalian can be a bit of fun. 🙂

7. Learn how to create paragraphs where the content is related so you’re not putting white space between sentences “just because”. People don’t want to read articles where every sentence is considered a paragraph any more than they want to read paragraphs that go on forever.

8. If you’re describing something, make sure you give enough without going too far. If you write “a guy with brown hair” that could be almost anyone. At the same time, Grisham once wrote 50 pages on how to build a car in the middle of a novel for a one line plot item two chapters later; way too much information.

9. Using things like smiley faces, lol, etc, help people know when you’re not being overly serious. It’s not always easy in short pieces like what shows up on blogs to convey your intent all the time.

10. When you’re done, if you’re not an experienced writer go back, read what you wrote, and verify that you got the proper point across. In an article I wrote for someone else once I wrote 3 words wrong and totally changed the meaning of the entire article. Trust me, it happens to all of us.

So, did it take you only 3 minutes? If it too longer no biggie as long as you got something out of it. Let me know if it helped, or if I need to explain anything further. Enjoy!
 

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Your Speech Is Free, But Consequences Aren’t

Brendan, Brendan, Brendan… gone so soon after rising so high… I guess stupidity can follow someone long into their future can’t it?

For those of you who aren’t up to speed, a couple of weeks ago Mozilla, the company that puts out Firefox (my favorite browser by the way), promoted Brendan Eich to the CEO position. In 11 days he was gone, the victim of what I’m going to say is public stupidity in giving money to support the California proposition against gay marriage back in 2008. The uproar was immediate I guess because, being out of the news loop as I sometimes am, I didn’t know it had occurred until the day he’d resigned.

Free speech

Loozrboy via Compfight

Of all things, I came to the news because of a press release someone put on on a dating site called OKCupid that I saw on Twitter (yes, one of my favorite news sources) trying not to take credit for promoting the initial protest against the hire (but the gloating was obvious) and then reading that not only were a lot of people up in arms about the hire but many people within the company were as well. And the statement made by the head of the board certainly didn’t sound like the normal company speak lines of “We’re sorry to see _____ go…”, instead coming out like “We were wrong, and thanks for helping us see the light.”

What was interesting is that the people who normally could have cared less about anything that happened in tech that believed as Eich did came out saying that this was a clear violation of free speech and that it was setting a dangerous precedent. That once again I felt it was time to straighten everyone out about our free speech laws in this country shows that folks aren’t paying attention to either myself or what’s really going on. I touched upon the topic of being controversial in 2011 and early in 2012 when I talked about the courage it takes to be in social media, and Holly & I touched on the topic when I interviewed her later in 2012, which means I haven’t talked about it in more than 18 months; my bad. So, let’s get this clear once more, since it really can’t be stated enough times.

In the United States, everyone has the right to express their opinion. What everyone doesn’t have a right to do is state their opinion and not have someone else disagree with it if they choose to. It’s the reason why so many people can love the movie Frozen (count me in) and a few can say they think it’s overrated. It’s the reason why so many young girls love Justin Bieber to the end of the world and others hate his guts (I don’t have an opinion either way).

What everyone has to realize is that, as I stated in the “controversy” article, if you’re strong enough to stand behind your convictions, say whatever you want to say and deal with whatever the consequences might be later on. If your opinions keep you from getting a job later on because they’re counter to what that particular employer wants to deal with, so be it.

Sorry kids, but that’s not the same thing as discrimination, where you don’t hire someone for what they are. No one asked to be black or female or gay or disabled or bald or heavy or… name something.

When we decide to say whatever we want to say, if it’s going to irk someone it could impact your life; that’s just how it goes. I take stands on things all the time, but I try to word my missives in a way that they’re not specifically insulting to anyone. If they take offense I’m ready to deal with it. But I don’t have masses of people hating on me because I’m not stupid.

King Mango Strut 2013, Coconut Grove, Miami, FL (27 of 75)

photo-gator via Compfight

What’s stupid? When you can donate money to a cause you know might hurt you later on and don’t do it anonymously, doing it so you can write it off in your taxes which, if you’re a public official or a public CEO, are allowed to be seen by anyone. Brandon, really?

Here’s a bit of family history. My grandfather was a registered Republican for a major part of his life. He never voted for a single Republican in his entire life. He owned an auto repair shop in a Republican city and knew he’d never get any business if he’d registered as a Democrat. So he did what he had to do to survive, kept his mouth shut even amongst his friends, and voted his conscience. He wasn’t ready to be controversial until he shut down his business, and no one was the wiser until he had nothing to worry about. Freedom of speech? In his day, even with the Constitution? Please!

Freedom of speech is a legal reality; freedom of consequences is a true reality. If you’re big enough or important enough or passionate enough of stupid enough (Facebook drunk pictures; really folks?), those things can come back to hurt you. I know someone who literally changed her name and waited a year for it to sink in so she could start applying for jobs under that name, in hopes that her political views under her other name would become obscure, as she is a liberal fireball but lives in a conservative area. How many of you would want to go through something like that?

Let’s not be too timid to have an opinion but let’s also not be naive. We all know when we’re about to say something on purpose that someone else might not like. If you don’t want to deal with the potential heat then don’t say it. If you can deal with it, and you’ve thought about your future, then go ahead.

Still, as the video below will prove, I believe there are times when you must speak your piece; it’s just how I roll:
 


http://youtu.be/x7MGr36qXYI

 

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We Are What We Consume; Not Talking About Food…

I probably can make the connection to the phrase “we are what we eat”, this post isn’t about food, although as I’m sitting here writing this I’m also thinking “I wish I knew where I could get some good cookies besides heading to the store for some mint Oreo’s”. Such is my life. 🙂

Mamma Mia.  りんご娘のライブ コンサート.  Over  4,500 visits to this photo.
Glenn Waters via Compfight

As I’ve probably stated multiple times in the last 10 months, I’m presenting working a consulting assignment out of town. This basically means that I’m showing up in an office and working at least 8 hours each day. Because I’m not working in a leadership capacity, it’s basically the same thing every day, and, well, my mind doesn’t work like that because it likes diversity of work. Sure, I get to basically create a lot of my own work, but it’s dull, mundate stuff, though necessary.

The lucky thing about living in the 21st century is that we have all these different things we can take with us to work to watch & listen to, although folks frown on your “watching” stuff per se. However, you can listen to a lot of stuff, and I’ve always enjoyed documentaries so it’s a great time to catch up on a lot of things I’ve never seen. YouTube is a lifesaver… or is it?

I was going along pretty well there for a time until I noticed that my mood had started to change. I wasn’t feeling all that happy mentally, and it was extending outside of the office. Frankly, being out of town all by myself is pretty lonely, and yet I was starting to embrace the loneliness as a shield and didn’t want to bother with anybody, even on the weekends. I wasn’t getting depressed, but I was getting a little bit paranoid.

Then I figured it out. The documentaries I was partaking in were, for the most part, about the darker aspects of human life. There are lots of documentaries on serial killers, gangs, drugs, despots and dictators, death, murder… in other words, there’s lots of negativity that looks like information we all need or might crave.

I liked this stuff because I was learning a lot… of useless stuff. Sure, we all need to be careful of our surroundings and watch out for nefarious characters, but we also need to be ready to enjoy life a bit; wouldn’t you agree?

I decided I had to change up a bit. I started looking for comedians and funny stuff. I started listening to more motivational speakers and those TED talks that are pretty popular. I love Neil deGrasse Tyson so I started listening to everything I could find with him in it, as well as a lot of science stuff, mainly astrophysics; I’ve always been fascinated by things like that.

I also decided to go back and listen to some of my own videos on my two channels, something I really hadn’t done much of because, like blog posts sometimes, once they’re written it’s often on to the next thing. A couple made me cringe, but many of them just made me laugh, even the serious stuff; sometimes even I wonder how I come up with the things I talk and write about.

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What happened? I started feeling good again mentally and even the boring work took on a different feel. I found things to laugh about that may have only been funny to me, but it’s a better state of mind than where I was, and truthfully it’s a state of mind that I strive for most of the time.

But I went further than that. There were some people I was following on Twitter who kept up the negative stuff, even if it was stuff I agreed with. I’m a liberal in my politics, but there’s just so much conservative bashing one can take without getting riled up. I don’t follow any conservatives on Twitter, so no problems there.

On Facebook, because of F.B. Purity (come on, y’all aren’t using this yet?), I block a lot of stuff but some gets through via images. If I kept seeing the same thing from certain people I just stopped following them, because my closer friends don’t put that stuff out all the time. I don’t really mind the occasional thing, but 24/7? Who can mentally be in a good place putting stuff like that all the time?

I like this blog, I’m Just Sharing. You know why? Because I vacillate between happy and serious stuff, teaching stuff, opinions and the like, but overall I think the tone of this blog is more towards the uplifting, motivational side. I think that when one’s mind is in the right place, their writing style improves and, hopefully, others can read their words and know that even when there are complaints it’s coming from a place of love and joy, such as my post on commenting courtesies.

Think about your own life for a bit. What types of things are coming into your life on a daily basis? Is it positive stuff that makes you feel good? Are there a lot of things that you deal with that make you feel bad? Are there things you can change to help change your mindset towards more positive feelings, even if they’re small changes? In the long run, doesn’t everyone really want to feel happy at least most of the time?

Do you need more? Then check out this post on ways to reach your own personal Super Bowl that I wrote 2 years ago; just something to think about that may help you on your way to feeling better.
 

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