Friday, October 29, 2010

In Praise of Thought Leaders

Recently I felt inspired to begin making lists on Twitter. The two I started with are representative of a baby step in my larger plan for more effectively monitoring the conversations in my twitter universe. There are a couple of people who I consider to be virtual mentors.  Those people were shoe-ins for my "Thought Leader" list. They are people who continually challenge me to think outside of  my box and not accept what's presented to me without additional thought & justification.

"I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday." - Abraham Lincoln

Time is a precious commodity & although I adore Twitter it can be a real time-waster when you have a specific purpose in mind and little time to find inspiration. 

While the proper definition is just someone who has innovative ideas, I think of so much more when those words come to mind. My ideal Thought Leader must have a large percentage of these qualities:
  • Brash or "full of fresh raw vitality"
  • Cutting Edge or "at the forefront"
  • Fearless
  • Driven
  • Inspired
  • Passionate
  • Willing to share their ideas without feeling threatened
  • Dares to experiment
  • Risk-Taker
  • Reasonable
  • Thoughtful
  • Be published or we on the way to becoming such 
  • Able to openly digest & debate divergent thinking or theories
I'm curious what comes to mind when you think of someone who you'd label a Thought Leader?  If any of you mentor others on a regular basis, what qualities do you possess that make you an effective mentor? What are you looking for Thought Leaders & mentors to bring to the virtual table? 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - A Halloween Dozen from Wood Lake Nature Center

We started a tradition of going to Wood Lake Nature Center annually for their Half-Haunted Halloween.  

Along the Trick or Treat Trail we encountered a petting zoo:

 With some usual suspects & others far less common.

There were also costumes you don't see every day... a man made of garbage, toad-like things & swamp creatures.

  Of course there's more than a few ways to carve a pumpkin.  Here's a dozen we saw along the way: 

Hope you have some fun Halloween events to attend this year. Do you have some favorite places around town to visit? If so, please share & Happy Carving!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Inner Struggles

Fall, much like Spring, is a time when people are spending time cleaning house & purging to make room for the holidays & the year to come. It's a mental exercise as much as it is physical.  2011 will be here before we know it & so many, including me, still have 2010 goals yet to be accomplish.

These past several months being back at work have been a struggle for me.  In life, there are wishes, hopes and expectations, but sometimes the universe has other plans for us & we get sidetracked from the path we feel we should be on.

I've been reading tweets & posts lately where people are having their own battles with life - whether it's trying to fit into a new work environment, struggling with exercise, balancing desire with the motivation to lose weight, relationship ups & downs, meeting deadlines, or for the unemployed, just finding leads on opportunities - we all have our worries.  

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The grass is always greener on the other side & that peer that appears to have it all together can't possible have the same concerns as the rest of us or at least that's our perception.  Their lives always appear so effortless & so perfect. Most likely their journey was not a seamless one either.  They pushed through their own struggles.

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. - Eleanor Roosevelt

What connects us to each other in these online communities is that we find people on a similar journey to that of our own. We observe & we learn, we listen & we contribute.  We read about each other in our triumphs, along with the disappointments, the joys & the pain. We attempt to offer words of wisdom or strength and at times just offer support and reinforcement. 

"The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little." -Thomas Merton
None of us really set out to settle - I certainly don't. It's not enough to just be a survivor. Most want & need to thrive.  We call on patience ~ allowing courage and focus to move us forward.

"I am in limbo of not knowing...My life is not suspended: it continues as before.  The Spirit is undimmed. We cannot expect perfection. We can only hope to continue...The spirit leases a beautiful house in the earthquake zone.  Thanks to the Divine for the strength to be patient." - excerpts from a modern prayer from Mexico City, USA

Here's to digging way deeper than you imagined you could. Make the journey worth the struggle it takes to get to the desired end result.  Remember the angst & stress you feel along the way, so that when you finally do reach your goal, you'll appreciate, value & respect it that much more.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My First Visit to @Smack_Shack

Follow my link over to a few @Smack_Shack pics on my Tumblr. The walk over was a nice break from my hectic day at the office.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Temptation - Grandma Ruby's Sweet Shoppe

I came home tonight to two boys - one big (my hubby) & one little (my munchkin) wanting to know "what's in the box?" Thanks to @GrandmaRubys Free Fudge Wednesday giveaway on twitter, I was randomly selected & we received some Chocolate Cherry fudge on our doorstep.  

If you haven't tried it yet. You are missing out on some wonderfully sweet pleasures.  Wish I had taste-o-vision to share some with you.  If you'd like to place an order just check out her amazing offerings at Grandma Ruby's Sweet Shoppe.

Here's another glimpse from my Groupon order earlier this year. Please excuse where we dove into & tasted some flavors before I thought to take a photo:


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Map Of Online Communities via @PSFK

Sometimes you find the most interesting interpretations of mainstream things which help you see them a little differently. Check out the title link to read more.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Fall Nostalgia

Hello sure came fast this year. 
 How quickly the leaves start to turn

 and before we know it the vibrant color will fade.

And the freshly planted Spring arrangements
will give way to those...

 Full of Fall color & earthy texture

The flowing waters are destined to turn to ice.

 And the trees will soon take on a frosty hue.
Enjoy this beautiful Fall weather while you still can.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Lure of Blog Comments

Recently I've noticed a lot of chatter on twitter where online writers are asking: "How come people lurk on my blog and then don't leave comments." Or "I see traffic...why don't people have an opinion & participate in the discussion?" I've wondered the same thing at times & I'm sure there are many others who have shared those concerns at one point or another.

When you Google "blog comments", first on the list are paid results for "Buying Blog Comments".  Sounds pretty desperate - doesn't it? So what exactly is it that makes people crave the comments in the first place? Are comments generally a want or a need?

One idea comes from a psychology tip site which says: "feedback and reinforcement are two of the most pivotal concepts in learning. One of the critical variables in both cases is the length of time between the response and the feedback or reinforcement...the more immediate the feedback or reinforcement, the more learning is facilitated." In this context, comments would seem to satisfy an important need.

"Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and response" - Basis from the Theory of Connectionism by Edward L. Thorndike

Brian Solis in "Engage"  says "the right comments boost visibility and contribute to a resume of experiences and prowess." This would lead us to believe that as a writer, we all are seeking validation and acceptance of what gifts we have to offer & the silence of the comment not made makes us question ourselves. In this instance I would view the comment as a definite want.

A great post title may draw your reader in, but is your content relevant to them at the point in time which you reach them? Is the post informative enough to hold their attention, evoke an emotional response, or move them to want to share what they've gleaned with others and interject their viewpoint into the conversation?

Aristotle linked his "Model of Communication" to the public speaker, someone who's job it is to deliver a specific message to an audience. The ultimate goal is to influence the audience & move them to respond or react. In this model it would seem the online writer would have some degree of control over whether or not their reading audience responded to a post, right?

More questions to ask yourself:
  • Are you creating a sense of community between your readers by sharing content relevant to a specific group of topics?
  • Is your tone & voice consistent?
  • Are you posing questions in your posts that people will feel obligated to respond to?
  • Do you legitimately feel everything you write is your best work & worthy of feedback? If not, then don't come to expect comments on every post.

In their own words, "BackType is a social analytics platform that helps companies understand their social impact." In "Engage", Solis talks about using tools like Backtype to track your post content & blog comments.  "Link to all channels of influence each and every time they share something of significance." These "trackbacks" which "inspired your posts" will build "tunnels between the blogs, allowing new readers to discover your content."

"Give them something to share. Give them reasons to respond." - 
Brian Solis in Engage

Chris Brogan & Seth Godin write often about the importance of frequent blog writing & sharing your gifts respectively. Their opinion is with each item you publish, the result should be a positive personal learning experience. If that's the case then the less we concern ourselves about the comments themselves, the freer we will become within the process.  The more we personally intend to get out of the writing exercise the better.  If someone chooses to respond & post a comment  - then that's nothing but fat-free, calorie-free gravy. So in an online writer's world, gravy is one of those things no one really ever needs, but once in a while we really do "want".

So are blog comments feeding an online writer's wants or needs? I'll leave that up to you to decide.