Friday, 28 January 2011

Focused Writing Helps Build Brand

I've heard and read that so many times.  People come to regard you as an expert, or respect your opinion on a topic, when you have established credibility on said topic.   Whether the credibility has been established through formal training, studies, research or experience, if and when you put yourself out there, and do it often enough, people will start listening.  It doesn't matter if yours is an audience of two or two thousand, people will start seeking you out for your input.

One of the key things, of course, is the "put yourself out there" part.  And many are afraid of doing just that.  'Cause, you know, you might get criticized and rejected and what not.  But, let's say you manage to get past that and one person, then another, then another starts noticing.  Before you know it, you're regarded as knowing quite a bit about 'x' topic.  And, in most cases, it helps if you keep abreast with what's happening in that area, of course. Goes to show that you really hold the matter close to your heart.  And where better from which to speak in a convincing and passionate way?

Still, it's not the size of the audience that I'm looking at now.  It's the matter of you, a brand-builder, building your own brand. You, wanting to be taken as a serious voice on 'x' topic, had better know how to stay on topic every time you open your mouth or write about said topic.  You've been keeping abreast and staying informed - backed by your solid experience or any of the above-mentioned credibility-building avenues - making it worth your audience's and readers' while to tune in to you; to connect.  Make it so that they learn something from your utterances; your presentation; your interview.  Whatever.  Doing so will build your 'street cred' even more, more than likely getting you several more connections and bookings and readers and listeners along the way.

One other important part is to stay in touch.  Remain visible.  Well, as long as you care about that sort of thing.  Too many connectivity devices and media out there now to disappear into thin air once you've got the ball a-rolling.  I think people get that you are human.  They get that life happens and things don't always go according to plan.  But, don't take 'em for granted.  Check in every so often with those who are listening, reading, or just simply expecting that you're still "that guy" who knows so much and is so passionate about 'x'.  Who knows?  For all you know, instead of the two people who, occasionally, might express an interest in what you write; in what you say, there might be two hundred.  Sometimes the moment you miss a beat - blog not posted, tweet not ...tweeted - they call you out on it.  Nice.

So, keep at it already.  And do try to stay on message.

I am so preaching to myself right now.  It's quite challenging, really.  I saw a tweet the other day that said stteo: If you want to go ahead and write about anything you want, go ahead.  But don't complain when the world doesn't beat a path to your door.  Truth is, at this time, I'm more interested in keeping courageous and getting the stuff out of me, than I am about the world beating a path to my door.   That's why my posts are about whatever I want to write.  'Cause there's a myriad thoughts occupying my mind at any one time - like most people, I'm sure.  And sometimes, I get the urge to write every one of them down in a post.  But, alas, that would be counter-productive to the whole brand-building thing, as I've heard it.  And so I am, at times, conflicted.  I want to say something.  But, do I write what I'm thinking about? Or do I go for what, at that point in time, is closest to the topic I'm regarded as being 'good at.'  ("It's what I do, and I'm good at it."  Love that line from Monk.) Do I write about "The lipstick impression left on my window after two (Superworks!) car washes"?  Or do I go for "The community within a community:  How Shout Outs in the t.o. newspaper have interconnected the commuting community on the GO"? (Can hardly believe I'm linking to the site, given how I felt about them when they first came on the scene September 2009.  But, I check 'em out now for the SOs - usually funny and help to pass the time on the GO train.)

Why, oh why can't I do both?   I mean, I don't have to write about writing or communications all the time, right?  Perhaps the experts would say that after I've built the brand, and people have come to know what to expect, and I have that dedicated 'following', then I can take the liberty to venture out every so often into an off-topic, without surrendering any of that street cred.

This is me fighting the theory; the 'beat a path to your door' admonition.  *smh* At this time, like I said, it's more important to keep the courage in getting the stuff out.  So, I'll  write, speak, tweet to satisfy the longing that comes to the fore at that point in time. The world can beat a path now or later, but, I gotta be fearless and write what I want.

If not, I'll suffocate.


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The "J" Word and Create Anyway

Several minutes ago I had the opportunity to watch a part of the televised funeral service for the late Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police Service.   Rev. Walter Kelly delivered some moving words, encouraging the family to find comfort in God, in His word, in His promise: Isaiah 41:10: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Gotta admit that the strong emphasis on God and His strength and His word, in such a public setting was pleasantly surprising and refreshing.  His prayer ended "in Jesus' Name."  The "J" word!  It sounded so politically incorrect but, apparently, Sgt. Russell was strong in his Christian faith.  It would not have been an honour to his memory was this emphasis to have been omitted.  I found a part of the Rev's prayer especially noteworthy: "Lord, help us with our feelings, our thoughts, our questions."  Yes, when times like this come our way, it helps to ask God for help to deal with the myriad questions that steam-roll through our minds.

My sis called later to fill me in on something else that the Rev. said, as I'd stopped watching by then.  It was with regard to the late officer's organ donation - his eyes.  A little boy is now going to be able to see the world through Sgt. Russell's eyes.  How nice is that?

Also had a quick look at the story on the CBC site and noted some of the comments in reference to the funeral ("pornographication"; "propoganda").  Truth is - and this is not shocking information in the least - no matter what the decision, made by those high or low; stranger or friend; foreign or national (you get it), there will always be differing opinions.  That's how we as human beings roll. We're more alike than we are not but, where the similarities stop, we're so wired different.  And, thanks to technology, those wires get to be run hither and yon; from all sorts of platforms into every nook and cranny; from cyberspace to personal space.  

Thankfully, and I've said this here more than once, I'm sure, we have choices.  We don't have to subject ourselves to the stress-inducing diatribe and overload of vitriolic tirade that some would wend upon us.  Life is way too short for that.

So, make the decision to do.  Then do.  Then, if you ever have a moment to spare for that sort of thing, give a listen to all the criticisms.  Notice how the non-constructive ones come from those who are, more or less, (and more more than less) sad about their own lives? Those who find some sadistic semblance of victory in putting down someone else or something created by someone else, just so they can enjoy a fleeting moment of pseudo satisfaction of self import?  Notice? 

Now, don't spend too much time on noticing and trying to assimilate all that.  Be encouraged by those who wish you well; those who supprt you.  Be encouraged even by the small fact that you took the time, effort and attention required to do it.  It mightn't always come out perfect, but, at least you did it!  So, go out and create anyway!  Put all your effort and heart and soul and love into it.

You'll be ever so glad you did.  As I've heard, in the end, it's not so much the things we did that we'll regret; it's the things we didn't do.


Saturday, 8 January 2011

Two things on my heart and mind this week

Ever had a week like this one?


I'm pretty sure that several million wonderful things happened this week; several million thought-provoking things did too.  Gladly, they didn't all come my way.  Of those that did, however, I'd like to remark a bit on the two that made quite an impact.


The decision by NewSouth Books in Alabama to publish a new edition of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  This time around, the n-word (insert air quotes at will) is to be replaced by the word "slave".  As I see it, such a replacement betrays the lack of understanding of the use of the word in the first place. I'd like to believe that the Twain chose his words very carefully; each was used on purpose.  Can we really say that the n-word was used to indicate, for need of a better term, Jim's "job description" or where Jim stood on the food chain - as property?  Wasn't its use more about hammering home the mentality of the white folks in their total disregard of Jim; their acceptance of his non-status?  "Slave Jim" doesn't quite carry the same ring.

The comments across cyberspace have been many and varied:  Political correctness has reached a new low; the use of the n-word is a strong argument for the anti-racist nature of the work; there are those who believe that Twain's work needs correcting...

My main questions: Will erasing it make it all go away? And, having begun this, where does it end?


Ted Williams and his golden voice.  My sis sent me that clip from Yahoo on Thursday, January 6.  When Ted (yes, it's Ted now) started speaking, I raised my eyebrow and tilted my head - shocked and trying to figure out how he swallowed that radio!  Literally, overnight, the man went from homelessness into the homes of millions.  He has been flown hither and yon for interviews and talk shows; offered numerous jobs; offered a mortgage.  According to Ted, it's been "outrageous", "phenomenal".  He landed a voice-over gig with Kraft.  It's been nothing short of spectacular, really.   I just pray that God surrounds him with people who has his best interest at heart.  He has acknowledged God working in his life.  He actually echoed something my sis was pointing out just the other day as we spoke about a related topic pre-Ted: "If you're going to give [to the homeless]...give from the heart."  May he make the best of this life-changing opportunity.

Ted Williams' story is a heartwarming story.  His is a miraculous story.   There's one thought that is predominant as I read or listen or view more and more of it:

This is how God rolls.  There is nothing too hard for Him.