Time | Team | Tools & Reality

Best Laid Plans

Exodus-Moses-Parts-The-Red-SeaWhen it comes to any project planning, recognizing your limitations is key to accomplishing realistic expectations. We all have pie in the sky ideas for what our incredibly amazing, life/world changing project is going to be and all the phenomenal success we will have as a result. None of this will come to pass unless you give some real thought to the actual time it will take to accomplish the project goals, the team you will need to make it all happen in a seamless way with all the tools right at your fingertips. In an ideal world, everything flows and blends together. The Red Sea parts and the world is your oyster.

 

This. Is. Not. That.

 

The Reality

Yellow Sea Horse in Aquarium

Our pie in the sky vision is exactly that without hardcore tough love decision making. I’ve been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal my whole life. And for the most part, it has worked out pretty well so far. There were big opportunities I missed out on because long-term planning wasn’t “my thing”. Sure, it’s easy to dream. It’s easy to set your sites on a goal. How to get there? You can probably eyeball that, too. How to get there exactly as your ideal vision has pictured? Well, that’s a horse of an entirely different color….or type.

The Cold Hard Truth

When it comes to actually seeing your vision become reality you’re going to have to face some cold, hard truths. Your ideal plan is not going to happen with a team of one. You will need a team in order to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and expertise. Or even to just do the tasking that is required, but perhaps does not require your specific time and talents to accomplish. Hire outside of yourself. On a shoestring budget? Consider a trade of in-kind services. We all have special skills that are valuable to someone else and vice versa. Still not able to find someone? Then consider hiring small. In a perfect world, you would have the financial ability to hire your ideal person full time. What about for just a few hours per week or month? Get that ideal person at the front gate. Let them get to know you and your business. By the time you are ready to bring them to full-time they will already know the ins and outs of your business. They’ll be ready to dive into the deeper aspects of your projects.

Plain wooden block truck child's toyNot ready to bring anyone else on board? Is a team of one your motto and words you live by? Then it’s time to get out the red pen to your project. What can you do realistically each and every day? Be tough and honest with yourself. Pare down your project down to its very basics. We’re talking the framework of a car without all the bells and whistles. A plain, standard model to get you from point a to point b. Does it have an engine and wheels that work? Then that is all you need to get started.

 

Chin up

It’s easy to get discouraged at this stage. You know the ideal way you want this idea to come to fruition. Taking the Ferrari in your mind down to the Ford Truck is hard. Here’s what I want you to remember, getting started is more important than holding on to the ideal version of your project and not getting started at all. Keep those little pared down darlings close by. As your project continues to develop there may be opportunities for them to be brought back into the plan. Some of them will make a comeback and others will not. Timing and the growth of your project will indicate when if their time has come. Some never will. Others will turn into Phase 2, 3, or 4 additions.

 

The Lessons Learned…….The Hard Way

I share these tips with you because of my own epic pie-in-the-sky planning failure(s). Most recently, I planned a repeat of something I did a few years back: Three different daily podcasts for National Podcast Post Month in November aka NaPodPoMo (30 podcasts in 30 days).

I was able to accomplish this originally in 2015. I recorded three shows a day for a total of 90 shows in the month of November. When I tried to reattempt this in 2017 as part of the 10 year anniversary of National Podcast Post Month, I failed miserably. Why? I set unrealistic expectations on the time I had available, the team who would help me accomplish this goal (me) and the tools I would use to make it all happen (1 live show and 2 shows prerecorded with post-production edits).

So, why was it I was able to accomplish this so easily in 2015 and yet stumble through the entire month in 2017? It all comes down to Time, Team & Tools.

Back in 2015, I was just coming back into the world after a health scare with my youngest son. NaPodPoMo was what I needed to get out of the medical brain fog that had been the previous months of my life. Plus, in 2015 all three shows were done live. Recording time was all I needed which made keeping the three times daily podcast sessions easy to keep up with. Due to months of being out of the loop, my workload was almost non-existent. I was just in the process of on-boarding a repeat client. Which meant my attention wasn’t split in too many directions. I had a simple calendar and it was easy to keep track of everything.

You can talk sense to a fool and he will call you foolish - Euripides quote

Fast-forward to 2017 and I had several client projects, am teaching courses each month to students while also taking a few courses myself. Out of the three podcasts, I scheduled for NaPodPoMo, only one was live. That single podcast is the only one which accomplished the goal of 30 podcasts in 30 days. When push comes to shove things fell into the cracks. I was so in love with the idea of doing three shows for the 10 year anniversary, I refused to see that the reality was there was never going to be an opportunity at success given that I did not plan for any deviation to my vision. I also did not bring in support to help with the prerecorded shows. This was the fatal flaw to my perfectly laid out plan. I should have known that I would become the bottleneck to success. Yet, I persisted with the idea that I could do it all.

The Rub

You would think I would have gotten wiser by this experience……I have and I haven’t. I had a 2018 planning session with my business coach to lay out the course of my business. I narrowed my focus down to three main pieces, which is quite a feat considering how much Shiny Object Syndrome plays out in my life. I had pushed back one of “my darlings” to later in the year instead of creating a big bang launch in January. This made complete sense in the overall planning. Yet, I realize I still need to thin the herd a bit. In order to be successful at some, I will sacrifice others. These are sound decisions. They make black and white sense. Here’s the rub, the things I am sacrificing are my own personal growth and pet business projects. Zen stones being knocked over by black ocean waves

As a mother, this is nothing new. You always sacrifice what you might need or want for the greater good of your family. It’s just what you do. We can always wait until later when it’s a better time…..or……

The logical part of myself says, “Grow up, there will always be time to get these things done later. Take care of these other things because it will help you in the long run.” <-This grown up is not wrong. Yet, I can look back and see the many times I was on the precipice of something truly amazing and the reality of life forced me to reconsider the bigger picture. Some things absolutely needed me to stop, drop, and roll for something or someone who had needs greater than my own. But not all. There were several I have a very strong feeling would have changed the whole direction of my life. There is a definite feeling of “Rinse and Repeat” present. A deja vu of opportunities slipping away…..again.

Silver Linings

This is not a tale of doom and gloom. Not by a long shot. My life is my own. I work with clients I like on projects I enjoy and on a mission I believe in. My motto which can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al.. is “Living the Dream” and I am no matter what you’ve read above. Just because I am living a life of my choice doesn’t mean I’m still not challenged. I’m still growing and learning and yes, also still compromising along the way.

yellow and white paper origami ship on waterThe silver lining is that I am in charge of this speedboat. Sometimes my plans will have to be docked or perhaps I trade in that speedboat for a leisurely ride on a pleasure cruiser or ocean liner. Slow to maneuver, but they will eventually get to their destination.

At the end of the day when I look at 2018 or any year for that matter, I see an ocean of possibilities which are ripe with opportunity. It’s up to me to chart my course in whatever mode of transport fits the situation to see success in all its forms as they manifest themselves on the journey.

Speaker Interviews: Educating for Success Home Business Conference Day 1

As you all know, I am in Huntsville, AL at Rhea Perry’s Educating for Success Home Business Conference. While I am one of the speakers, I wanted to do more to show the attendees how easy and fun audio and video can be at events. So, I am hosting a Social Media Lounge and interviewing the speakers during the lunch and dinner breaks.

Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin

 

Speaker Interviews: Friday

The goal of my speaker interviews is to find out more about the vision behind their talks as well as a bit more about them personally. Joel Salatin who shares the concept of Entrepreneurial Farming as a profitable business model where ownership is not in the land or the equipment but in knowledge. He shares with me the concept of thinking of the animals and plants as partners in your successful farming enterprise.

Drew Perry
Drew Perry

 

My next interview was with Drew Perry who I have known since he was 18 when I attended my first Rhea Perry conference 10 years ago. We talk about his philosophy behind entrepreneurship and life. He encourages all of us to explore the world, follow your interests and find things that interest you to create business opportunities.

Drew is always fun loving and it is fantastic see that his curiosity of the world and love of entrepreneurship has grown with his young family.

 

 

Additional Interviews

I never know what I am going to learn when I interview folks. It’s always something different and interesting. I sat down with Dan Celia who shared his vision behind what the real deficit is in America. It isn’t what you think. The discussion is one that is considered a hot button issue for many, but the heart of it is the lack of true understanding behind the economics that govern our day to day lives.

Teresa Bell sat with me in the evening to talk about her online greeting card business which she has been successfully running for the last 2 1/2 years. She talked about the ease of use for both personal and business outreach. It was easy to see that Teresa enjoys what she does for a living and is excited to share the message with others.

The web can be a daunting space for business to navigate.  Frank Deardurff will be helping to demystify the web with simple and easy strategies anyone can use to build, manage and maintain a business site. When I asked him why he wanted to share this message with attendees of the Educating for Success Home Business Conference, he told me about the horror stories he had heard form clients about their web experiences in the past. Frank will actually walk everyone through a basic setup of a site while offering tips and lessons learned along the way.

Day 1 Recap

As you can see, the Social Media Lounge has been quite busy on the first official day of interviews. Look for more updates on Saturday with a whole new set of speakers who will be put in the hot seat. Thanks for all you comments on Twitter and Facebook. As always, let me hear what you think.

UPDATE: To follow what is happening at the Educating for Success Home Business Conference use #efshbc. To keep updated on all of my Social Media Powered Business Trip travels follow #smpbt

 

 

 

San Antonio to New Orleans #SMPBT

Rhea_Perry
Rhea Perry, Founder of Educating for Success

Today was the start of my journey. But before I could log one mile of the 1, 929 miles, I had to talk to the woman who is the founder and visionary behind Educating For Success.  For the last 13 years Rhea Perry has used her online community and annual events to help homeschooling families and others learn how to build their own businesses to gain their financial freedom.

Rhea talks about her upcoming home business conference in Huntsville, AL happening the weekend of August 9-11, 2013. The topics being discussed range from Internet Entrepreneurs to Real Estate Investing to Entrepreneurial Farming and more. You can probably guess that I will be sharing my knowledge about the practical application of social media for entrepreneurs, non-profits and small business.

Find out more information about the conference by visiting bit.ly/educationforsuccess

 

Travel Notes

My connectivity use has changed in the last two years since I conducted a Social Media Powered Business Trip. Two years ago I decided to go completely web based with my communications. I got rid of the cell phone plan and went with Skype and a wifi-hotspot. What started out as an experiment has become the only way I do business and stay connected with clients, friends and family.

For the most part it works out well and I love being connected without having to deal with cell companies who I feel overcharge for their services.  However, there are times when the hotspot is unable to deliver a strong signal and today was one of those days. In all fairness, in the past I have also experienced the same type of interrupted service from the traditional mobile carriers. When I look at an overview I feel I am still winning the connectivity battle. Overall, I was able to work with clients while traveling from San Antonio to New Orleans and count today as a #smpbt success.

Social Media Powered Business Trip Part Deux

One of the things I really like to do with social media is to highlight fun and creative ways it can be used for business. I think it helps to drive home how easy it really is to use the social platforms and their mobile tools to share your messaging regardless of where you are or what you are doing. In other words, there is no excuse not to make social media a seamless part of your business.

A couple of years ago I did this through something I called the “Social Media Powered Business Trip.” The idea behind this was to use only my iPhone to post audio, video, tweets, Facebook updates and photos to document the journey from San Antonio, TX to Destin, FL where I was scheduled to speak at Rhea Perry’s Educating For Success Entrepreneur Conference.

What made the experience even better was that I stopped in several cities to interview folks who were using social media successfully for their business, projects or clients. I knew none of the people I interviewed. I was connected to them through recommendations of my fellow social media peeps. It truly was a social media powered trip. You can read all about it and listen or watch the interviews from that trip here.

Social Media Powered Business Trip Part Deux MapYou might wonder why I am telling you the story of that event. Or perhaps you have already guessed based on the title of my post that I am embarking on another Social Media Powered Business Trip. I will once again be speaking at Rhea Perry’s Entrepreneur Conference.  This time I am making the journey to Huntsville, AL.  Based on the options provided to me by the all powerful Google, I have divided my trip into two separate routes. On the way there I will travel to New Orleans for an overnight stop. Then continue my journey to Huntsville, AL. The route back will be entirely different with a stop in Memphis to visit Graceland before overnighting in Little Rock, Arkansas. Then I will head back to my beloved San Antonio with a quick stop in Dallas.

Who will I be stopping to interview along the way? Well, now that all depends on you. Got someone along the way you would like me to stop and visit? Send me their contact information and they too can become part of the Social Media Powered Business Trip.

Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

The fun kicks off on Tuesday, August 6th and I expect to be back in San Antonio on Tuesday, August 13th. I am looking forward to having you join me on this latest social media adventure.

Twitter Testimonial Tip

Image by Bruna Pires

We all know that testimonials can be powerful tools for our business. So what are you doing with them after the first excitement wears off? One of the techniques I encourage folks to use when creating their Editorial Calendar is to share testimonials from satisfied clients. Your clients who have taken the time to let you know they appreciate your service can become part of your brand ambassador team.

Testimonials are easy to share when they are in the form of an email or letter. However, with all of today’s tools at our fingertips why limit the variety of your reach? With smartphones and apps it is also very easy to do this through audio and video.  Think about asking your happy client to share an audio or video testimonial about the service or products your business provides. Hearing the energy and excitement of someone who is “in the moment” can really drive home the point of how well your business does it’s job.

Of course, there is more than one way to capture customer testimonials. Thanks to a recent Twitter update, we can embed some of those testimonials into our website. Here is an example of some kudos that Susan Price and myself received from one of our workshop attendees:

Be creative with the different platforms you can use to capture those testimonials. You might be surprised to discover exactly how many folks have said great things about your business. Your employees, existing and potential clients will be happy to hear about all the wonderful things your company is doing when seen through the eyes of a happy client testimonial.

Want to know the other creative ways Twitter embed posts can be used in your business? Then head over to HubSpot to discover 7 Epic Uses of Twitter’s New Embeddable Tweets Feature.

The Journey Continues

Being a space that is not limited to 4 walls, city limits, state or country boundaries makes for lots of fun and interesting opportunities. From speaking engagements, to local trade shows to incredible travel opportunities where I have the added bonus of meeting people far and wide.

Media Fuse's Social Media Powered Business Trip sponsored by Rhea Perry's Educating For Success Conference

Recently I have traveled on a Social Media Powered Business Trip to showcase the power of a smartphone to do every single bit of business and multimedia while on the go. My travels took me from my home base in San Antonio, TX to Destin, FL where I was a speaker at the Educating For Success Home Business Conference. This coincided with the launch of a new company that my partner, Jackie Adame and I launched called Media Fuse. It is a company focused on Modern Marketing Practices, Mobile Tools and Social Media. Here is a sneak peek of what happened during the trip: I was able to visit with the online and social media team behind the highly successful Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau campaigns.  I also met with prolific foodie video blogger Daniel Delaney of What’s This Food at a neighborhood coffee shop in New Orleans. An interview with Tom Martin and Kami Huyse on my return trip helped to complete the adventure. A full synopsis of the trip which allowed me to interview folks I had never met before who were doing some amazing things in the social space can be found on Media Fuse. If you’ve been wondering how hard it is to use mobile tools for your business, let me give you a hint: It wasn’t.

 

Social Media Lounge at the San Antonio Manufacturing Association Trade Show. Photo courtesy of Larry Lentz aka @CRMLarry

For the last couple of years I have successfully hosted “Social Media Lounges” at trade shows. The main goal being to show business folks just how easy it is to use the social and mobile tools for their business. From live video stream interviews to audio interviews via a smartphone. The tools are simple but extremely effective. Interviews for my most recent shows at Innotech San Antonio and the San Antonio Manufacturer Association’s Trade Show can be found here and here.

There are some more exciting projects  in the works which I will be sharing with you soon. Things that are in the early stages but exciting none the less. If you have some fun things you are doing in the social space let me hear from you. I enjoy hearing success stories and the unique ways folks are using all the tools at our fingertips.

Calling Cards as the New Business Cards

I believe there is a business card identity problem. In the modern day most folks do more than one thing. In years past you had a business card from the company you worked for and that was all you needed. Fast forward to today and folks may work for a company, have their own business on the side, be involved in groups and non-profits or even work with other freelancers in a consortium.

In the past few years I’ve become more and more involved in various unconference events, podcasting and social media groups all while running my B2B online printing business. I have business cards for my business, MyLabelNet, my podcast: Morning BrewCast, my social media groups: Social Media Club San Antonio and finally my social media consulting business: Brewing Media

Other than the fact I had to print all these different cards, there was also the need to have some of each one when attending networking functions. I never knew who I was going to encounter and which business or group I would want them to remember. There were many times I was speaking to someone about social media but only had printing cards on me. I had to then take the time to explain that this was my printing business and that the main thing was that my contact info was the same as for my social media business. Would the person remember that the printing business card was for the social media person? I doubt it. I was sending a conflicting message by giving out info that was different that what the person was interested.

So with SXSW coming up, I knew I needed to wrestle the whole business card identity issue to the ground. My solution?

No business cards

I’ve opted to go for a Calling Card. It has my contact information on the front. On the back I have three of the ten business/group/events I am involved in. I figured out that most of what I do could fit into those three categories. It certainly makes it easier to understand who I am.

I am an individual who is involved in all sorts of media. From traditional print media to digital media to social media. My hope is that my calling card will be the answer to the challenge of being someone who wears many hats.

Here are a few of the cards I have used in the past:

jens-business-card-collage

And now here is my new calling card:
jens-biz-card-pic

I invite your comments, suggestions and critiques on my calling card.

The Social Media Snake-Oil Salesman

The Social Media Snake Oil SalemanAs Social Media joins the mainstream there is a disturbing new trend emerging. Someone who three months ago never even heard of Social Media is now calling themselves an expert. Recently I saw a website offering “Social Media Certification”. This was from someone many in the community had never heard of before. We rolled our eyes at the gall of such a product offer. Naturally this “certification” was being offered for a hefty fee.

You may wonder why I consider this disturbing.

I’m all for folks discovering, learning and sharing Social Media. Heck, I’m a huge fan of the whole “Learn, Share, Grow” motto of the UnConference world. I spend a lot of time doing just that. From organizing annual events like Podcamps, Barcamps, Startup Weekends to monthly gatherings like Social Media Club and Social Media Breakfast events in my community. I am a huge advocate for taking the knowledge of the Social Media and Online Tools to the Community at large. The fact that what only a few early adopters used and understood for years has now become part of the general public’s daily media consumption is what I have been promoting since 2005.

What I find disturbing is that at exactly the same time Social Media is becoming widely known, the scammers, spammers and snake-oil salesmen are discovering it, too. For many folks who are just now entering this space, the “Social Media Certification” probably sounds like a good deal. What they don’t know is that the only certification you can receive is by doing social media. You actually have to dig in and participate in the conversation. You must take the time to develop the relationships. Regardless of what kind of “certification” you have in your hand if you don’t take the time to actively participate on the networks, you wasted your hard-earned money.

You may be wondering who to trust in the Social Media realm. How can you tell who is legit and who is a snake-oil salesman? My recommendation is to look at their Social Proof. If you are going to take a course, webinar, workshop or class take a look at the person teaching the session. Do a Social Media Background Check. I recently saw an advertisement for a LinkedIn teaching session. I was curious and searched for the person who was presenting on LinkedIn. Turns out they had joined recently and only had 5 Connections.

Please note that I am not trying to say that someone new to a network doesn’t have something to add to the conversation. Not at all. However, I do take a stand against that person saying they are a Social Media Expert. I’ve been involved in Social Media since it’s inception and even I am hesitant to call myself an expert.

Things are changing every single day. There are constantly things to learn. So before you pay good money to anyone for Social Media education, take the time to conduct your own research. Take a look at their Social Proof. It is easy enough to find out if they are who they say they are on the networks. Google and the networks themselves are your best source of information.

This topic is one which I know we haven’t seen the last of. I welcome your comments and stories.

image from The Voice for School Choice

Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

With the successful launch of Social Media Club San Antonio in September 2008 and the continued growth in UnConference style events it appears it’s time for another San Antonio first.

On Wednesday, January 21st Social Media Breakfast San Antonio will hold it’s first meeting. Founder of Social Media Breakfast and recent transplant from Boston to Austin, Bryan Person will be on hand to kick off the event.

I attended a Social Media Breakfast in Austin last year and knew it would be a great fit for the Alamo City. We had just launched SMCSA so the timing wasn’t right. However, when I heard that Jennifer Milikien was also interested in bringing the SMB concept to San Antonio, I knew it was the right time.

Join us on Wednesday, January 21st at the Magnolia Pancake Haus from 7:30am to 9:00am. to help us kick off the fun in style. Seating is limited to 20. So, be sure to register for your seat and breakfast from the Magnolia Pancake Haus.

Staying Connected In A Time Crunched World

We all lead busy lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a 9am-5pm cube dweller or a stay-at-home mom and dad. From the time we wake up until we finally close our eyes, we are busy. Time is already at a premium, so how are we supposed to add social networks into our jam-packed schedule?connect-four-game

One of the great things about the social networks, Staying Connected,  can also one of the the biggest drawbacks. Sure we want to chat with folks from around the globe, get news as it happens, learn about people making a difference and even find out about amazing shopping deals but it does take time to participate on the networks in order to be privy to the latest news. If you’re already busy, it seems like a daunting task to take on Social Networking.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the time you do have to participate on the Social Networks:

1. Choose at least 1 but no more than 5 Social Networks. Remember each network requires your active participation in order to work for you. So take the time to investigate the networks that best suit your needs upfront.

2. Find the mobile versions or tools for each of the networks. Almost all of the Social Networks have a mobile version or integrate with existing mobile tools. Think about the time you currently spend standing in line at the bank, post office, store or waiting for a connecting flight. These are prime examples of how you can use what would be considered wasted time to stay connected.

3. Timing can work to your advantage. While all the Social Networks are available 24/7, there are optimum peak times to dip your toe into the busy conversation stream. By the same token there are also off-peak times in which your voice can carry further by interacting closely with fewer participants.

4. Participate in the conversation daily. Sure we’re crunched for time, but if we don’t take the time to at least post an update or two daily, we’re missing out on keeping our connections current. The last thing you want to do is take the time to build up your presence only to have it fade away due to anemic posting.

While there are many more techniques for staying connected these four are a way to get off to a good start. Feel free to add your tips and techniques for staying connected in a time crunched world.

photo credit: ManiacWorld