Posted in Business, SocialMedia, Technology, Writing

I Have a Book In Me

Thanks for reading!  There’s a question at the end for writers and authors…I value your input.

I just have to share a brief story about a friend/colleague.  He calls me up and asks for a few minutes of my time during a break at work.  So I say “Sure!”  Turns out Zach is an animal society non-profit volunteer and board member, and he wanted some advice on “improving” their website .   Zach stated that they already have a dedicated domain name and a website that’s currently out of date.

So, immediately the wheels start turning, my adrenaline gets pumping and dots are being connected at wicked speeds….I can just feel the synapses firing in my brain!

So my friend (lets call him Zach) says that their non-profit website is sort of “just there!”  The guy that volunteered to design and maintain their website moved to the East Coast but continued to maintain the site…until recently when his computer died.  Now they’ve turned to Zach for help.  He was looking for suggestions that would be cheap or free.  So I started off with some basic questions.

I asked what is the Purpose, Audience, and Goals of the website to the non-profit organization.  So I wrote those words down on the back of my printed out schedule for the day like this:

Purpose (of the site):  Membership, Volunteers, Fundraising

Target Audience (of the site):  Society Members, Volunteers, Contributors

Goals (of the site):  Raise Funds, Increase Membership, Increase # of volunteers

I mentioned that there was a huge difference between purpose & goals.  Purpose is why it exists, why you bother devoting any time to it in the first place.  Goals are achievable targets (increase fund raising by 5% per month, increase membership by 10% each month, gain 5 new volunteers each month.)

I asked him how the non-profit uses tech to engage their audience…apparently there is only one person who posts things on Facebook.  (I just did a search on FB and found nothing but external links)

I said, “Zach, if you’re not using free services like Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and LinkedIn to engage your audience, you’re missing out!  If you would begin using those services, within six months, I guarantee you’ll achieve all of your goals and increase the number of volunteers (under age 30) of your non-profit society!”

I told Zach that they asked for “help with a website” but what he needed to present to the board, was a business plan.  A domain name and non-interactive website are the same as a vacant lot or empty building!  It’s just a place–nobody’s going to come or even come back if there’s nobody to talk to.  I suggested that he deliver a proposal for a strategy to really give their society a long-overdue boost!  I suggested he take the page of notes and turn it into a quick 5-slide PowerPoint presentation to present at the next board meeting!

We agreed to get together later when we could devote more time to discuss the plan and he asked me for a copy of the notes I took so he could begin looking into the social media aspects.

My mind was on fire about this idea…I thought wow, that session was more than a brief visit/discussion, it was a consultation!  This sort of thing happens to me a lot, and I really enjoy it.  That is where a lot of my passion lies.  On my lunch hour I had to put the adrenaline to use.  I logged onto my Evernote account and quickly outlined my page of notes.  When I finished, I realized what was staring me in the face could be the table of contents for a practical book that would help literally hundreds of people.

So here’s my question!  Leaning on great advice from a dear #usguys friend @loiscreamer , I won’t ask “Does the world need another social media enthused business basics book for entrepreneurs?”  but instead…should I go the self- ePublishing route or traditional query letter path? I know I could churn it out in a couple of months, go through several drafts and edits, and be ready for publishing by year’s end.  What do you think?

Easter Day Update:  So, I decided to go for it and have taken the advice of several encouraging people to begin my book.  You can read more about it at the blog created specifically for writing my book here:

Posted in Business, Creativity, Relationships

Career Success ~ The Cream Always Rises

Manet, Edouard - La Serveuse de Bocks (The Wai...
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This post is for all the people who work in the services and sales industry!  You may work for a horrible boss, a poorly managed company, in a town/city/state that you’d rather say good riddance to.   How you respond to pressure and stress, dissatisfaction and disappointment will make all the difference in your ability to change your circumstances.  If you do not find a way to manage your perceptions and responses, you may sabotage your chances at upward and outward mobility.  Your attitude will show no matter how hard you try to control the outward facing appearance and behaviors.

Below are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Any position where cash tips are involved! (Waitresses, Waiters, Bell Hops, Cab Drivers, Baristas)

Performing services for customers is often a thankless job.  There are many who will see and treat you as a second class citizen, if they “see” you at all!  Take heart.  When I choose to spend money at an eating establishment with full service, I just want to have prompt attentive service.  If I don’t have to ask for refills, food and drinks are served piping hot, and the interaction with my wait staff is fun and not “work” for me, I’ll tip generously.   Treat each customer as though they are the person you will read about in the morning’s newspaper as the person who left a hundred dollar tip.

Mechanics, Technicians and Repairmen

If you’re a mechanic, don’t just fix the problem.  Go the extra mile and provide free advice about anticipated maintenance needs (tires, belts, filters, etc.)  By caring for the vehicle as though you were going to allow your pregnant daughter to drive it, you’ll show the customer you care more about the person than you do the car (money.)  Take the time to listen to your customers.  You’d be surprised at the loyalty you’ll instill in your customers by remembering small details about your customers and their property.

Healthcare Professionals (Doctors, Psychologists, Nurses)

If you’re an obstetrician…be sure to make more eye contact with that expectant mother than you do at the patient’s chart.  Remember that in spite of your 15 minute scheduled allotment, metal instruments feel cold, words conveying delicate news can sometimes be more painful than needles, and that uterus IS attached to a human being.  Whether this patient is having their first or their fifth child, they deserve your respect and expertise in as personal and professional manner as possible.

Sales and Marketing Professionals

If you’re in sales, remember the dance of respect.  Those people patronize your establishment for a variety of reasons.  Location proximity, habit, convenience, possibly the people.  As soon as a customer begins to feel like a victim, prey, a prospect, a lead, or a candidate, you have removed the “person” (human aspect) from the customer.  This shift in perspective is just enough motivation for people to override their reasons for patronage and find a new establishment.

Some days are much harder than others.  Reflecting on and accepting the reality of those busy, difficult and sometimes unbearable moments before your day begins can help you mentally prepare yourself.  If you can, try seeing yourself as an actor or actress in a movie in your day.  This coping technique is one you can use to do your best in spite of how you feel.  Remember to be the success you dream!

Break a leg!

Posted in Business, Creativity, Education, SocialMedia

One Tweet – Twenty Five Recommendations

Just had to share the power of Social Media…in this case, TWITTER!

My children go to the Sump Memorial Library faithfully every week.  Each week my three children check out anywhere from two to four books on average.  They all three read every book they check out.  My sixteen year olds choose their books based on extremely gripping or intriguing plots.  My 12 year old son looks for books that have action, good characters and are a fast-paced read.

The current book series my kids are reading are the Hunger Games.  Due to the speed at which they devour books, I thought I’d ask Twitter land what recommendations they might have for my kids when they finished Hunger Games.  One astute Tweepster @uo_quidditch ( forwarded their recommendation and included @Scholastic in their tweet to me.

Here’s a list of the individuals who tweeted their recommendations:

@SamEveKennedy – Harry Potter; Chronicles of Narnia; Wrinkle in Time; Little House on the Prairie

@KyleWKerr – Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

@mirandahakim – Maze Runner Trilogy

@BennyAlano – Hand Puppet Horror by me!

@What_the_Tim – Blood Red Road by Moira Young and Legend by Marie Lu

@_Lana15 – Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

@letaylor82 – City of Bones

@mlbrackmartin – Suzanne Collins’ earlier series, starting with Gregor the Overlander; Gone by Mike Grant

@Vikkivansickle – Divergent by Veronica Roth and Maze Runner by James Dashner

@KariBradley7  – The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness

@NathanDunbar – Garth Nix’s Sabriel

@KahlanAla – Delirium by Laren Oliver

@Lit_Explorer – Maze Runner

@KPSimmon – Legend by Marie Lu and Divegent by Veronica Roth

@Goody1505 – Warriors

@uo_quidditch – @sarahresbreena’s The Demon’s Lexicon series or @justinelavaworm’s Liar

@CaptAdjective – Artemis Fowl books

@parchmentgirl37 – Wither (Book 1 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy)

@tordotcom – post-Hunger Games recommendations here in article & comments:

@chooseadventure – Choose Your Own Adventure

@spencerpanger – Maze Runner

@laurendonovan – The Maze Runer series

@lizzy9rule – Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

@taralazar – Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and A Million Suns

@theEVENTgelical – Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett

As you can see, 25 people tweeted these recommendations over the course of the next two hours.  Amazon might have “recommended” a few choices in the same genre if I searched for Hunger Games.  But nothing is quite as personal and targeted as people who enjoy the same books…a crowd-sourced recommendation like Tweepsters provide is unmatched because there are live people on the other end of my question instead of an algorithm!  Don’t get me wrong, but the idea of several other people across the globe sitting in their pajamas, sipping coffee and sharing their thoughts is much more appealing and personal than lines of code.

My hats off to these Twitter users and especially to Scholastic for playing such a satisfying role in my search for books to add to my children’s reading list!