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Monday, August 29, 2011


Well, Irene is, for the most part, history.  The last week has been filled with so much hype and frenzy about this storm.  Fueled by the Weather Channel's continuous coverage of this storm and their labeling it things like "storm of your life" many people -- including myself -- found themselves worrying about the weather.

Now I am not going to go on and on about the Weather Channel -- there are many other blogs1 doing this already

What I am going to go on and on about is you.

After all this is not the first "event" that had what I would call over-exaggerated coverage aimed primarily at increasing ratings2 and as a side effect creating panic in the minds of many people.  We watched/listened/read/tweeted about it with the debt ceiling debate.  We watched/listened/read/tweeted about the stock market a few weeks ago. 

If the evening news is any indication of what we surround ourselves with, America is addicted to hype.

I have three words for you:  UNPLUG YOUR TV!
Three more:  DON'T READ NEWSPAPERS!
Five more:  TUNE OUT NPR AND TALK RADIO!

A few weeks ago I did a one week news fast as part of a Mastermind Group I facilitate.  We were reading "The Four Hour Workweek" and this was one of the challenges.  I discovered I missed nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Zip. And this was in the midst of the "stock market crash."  I did get something out of that experience:  more focus and peace-of-mind than I have had in years (outside of hiking/backpacking and a Vipassana retreat).  Because my mind was not distracted with silly -- I mean really silly -- data, I was able to focus more on my coaching practice, marketing, planning, blogging... ...life!

And yet, somehow, I managed to get sucked into the hurricane hysteria.  And for at least 5 days had this uber-vigilant thing going on in my head distracting me from what I needed to be focused on and tiring me out.  Yes, this over-abundance of news hype is exhausting.  I could have been out hiking the Long Trail instead of fretting!

So I am back to abstinence from news media. And want to invite you to come along.  Try it like I did for one week then post your comments.

Here is what you do:  No TV, radio, news magazines, RSS feeds, iPhone News Apps. Nothing. If you feel like you are going through massive news withdrawal, then you can ask a friend.  Say, :"Hey, I have been really busy lately, anything of note going on in the world?"  Do this for 7 days.  Keep aware of your emotional state, your productivity, your focus, your passion -- keep aware.  After a couple of days you will see something different.  

And I -- as well as readers of this blog who are not challenging themselves with this task -- want to know  (Post your comments!)

After 7 days, the questions to ask yourself are:  

  • So what?
  • Did I miss anything? 
  • Why do I need all this "news"?  
  • Is it really that important?

I look forward to reading your news in the comments below!

Notes:

1 www.nola.com/tv/index.ssf/2011/08/as_irene_takes_aim_weather_cha.html and http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/hurricane-irenes-path-is-the-weather-channel-veering-off-course/2011/08/26/gIQArFwkgJ_blog.html

 2 http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hurricane-irene-weather-channel-storm-tracker-228288

Thursday, August 25, 2011


There are many sites on the Internet where you can post and promote your site and new ones seem to crop up everyday. Should your create accounts with these services? If so, which one’s? Just the big one’s like LinkedIn?  Call me an overachiever, but in my view, the more of these services you can get listed on the better for your business.  Its like fishing, if you want to eat fish for dinner, you hedge your bets and cast a wide net in as many ponds as you can.

Now I am not talking about link farms that promise to promote your website to the top of the search engine heap. I mean profile-focused websites that include information about your, your business, your affiliated websites, etc. Websites like Xing, Ecademy, Visible.me (formerly naymz), Referral Key , Ryze, Spoke – the list seems to go on and on and on and on – and now thumbtack.

Thumbtack has been around since 2009 and I had checked it out before and was mostly unimpressed:  MLMers looking to get you involved in their pyramid scheme, people trying to loan you money, affiliates trying to sell you stuff – yuk! Not for me! But recently they rolled out community standards and they appear to be enforcing these. Gone are all the things I didn’t like about their service.

So I signed up. It was easy because I was able to pull data from my LinkedIn page to fill in some of their requirements and even tap videos I posted on YouTube. Very nice.   So impressed was I by their make-over that I even opted for the additional credential verification they offer (cost $7.00)

Three things I really like about thumbtack:

  1. Publicly available profile – people don’t need to create an account to see your information. (Although they recently removed the public link to your website, twitter feed, etc., which they claim is for privacy reason but you and I know is to force people to stay on the thumbtack site and not click away to another site).
  2. Question and Answer component – it really shows people a side of you as a professional that you don’t see at other sites.
  3. Credential verification – people can sort the hooligans from the professionals.

Three things I really don’t like about thumbtack:

  1. Testimonials – really? Yet another place I need to ask my customers to post comments about my business! Why can't I import the 40+ recommendations I have in LinkedIn or the reviews I have in Google Maps / Places? 
  2. No options other than localized search -- unless you dig. So much for consultants that travel or use the Internet as a medium. Thumbtack needs to add:  (a) a search everywhere checkbox on their generic search box and (b) set the search options so that they display by default because some users might not know they can click for expanded options (again, you have to dig).
  3. Thumbtack needs to share their API so folks can post to the News component directly from dashboards like ping.fm or HootSuite, or allow people's twitter feeds to integrate.  (Sure they offer a twitter and facebook component but you have to post on the thumbtack site and then thumbtack posts to twitter / facebook).

One thing about the shift – or maybe it is just a little known feature – but you can get your own vanity URL. I was able to get http://thumbtack.com/businesscoach -- yes businesscoach. Really? With all the business coaches out there around the world, businesscoach is still available? That tell’s me that there is probably a vanity URL waiting for you with your name it at thumbtack!

Go ahead get your profile today – click here