Re-Connecting People To Life

I’d say it’s been a little while since I’ve written on this little blog. I can’t say that I’ve worried about it, but I would say I’ve missed it. A lot.

What I’ve missed most about it is how simple blogging can be. Think about something you want to say and just write about it. Right?

Oh no.

Purse_Life

I mean. It used to be that way for me but then people actually paid attention to what I was writing and they did that thing called COMMENTING!!! They responded and I suddenly felt to pressure to actually use punctuation and grammar sort of and use spell check. Oh the pressure.

SO I wrote and I wrote and I wrote some more. I wrote so much that I became somewhat known for being a blogger! Kind of cool right?

It is.

But then I wanted more. I wanted a more focused blog. I mean why wouldn’t I? I was starting to consult and teach people about all things blogging and social media. That was fun. (still is actually).

But today… I’m done thinking about blogging and ready to get back at it. Not ready to go to the next level. Not ready to focus on any one subject. Just ready to get back at it.

A while back my blog tag line was Connecting People To Life. I changed that line a few times to make it more focused on different subjects. But the reality is, that was too much for me.

So I’m going back to the basics. I’m re-connecting people to life again. Re-connecting me to my life again and writing about it. I’m going back to the basics when blogging was simply just about writing what I experienced in life and hopefully… hopefully, I might be able to encourage a reader to get off the couch and run their first 5K or attempt their first triathlon or buy some new music they hadn’t heard or find an easier way to travel. Heck, I hope they even learn that having a life in social media can be really fun if all they do is play by their own rules.

So… here’s to the future of blogging in my life. Hope you enjoy the read and I enjoy the process again of just writing and re-connecting to life.

About Three And A Half Months

That’s how long it’s been since my last blog post. About three and a half months.

A lot has happened in those months. Mainly, my son Micah was born and the journey through the first three months of his life have been nothing short of busy, tiring and fun. I will write about his birth and what it is to be a first time father in my 40’s in another post. But for now, I want to start this time back on my blog with a look into a little of the past and the future.

Three_Months

For starters, I can’t believe I went three and a half months without touching my blog!! Sure, I have a lot going on at home with a new baby in the house, work, travel and the swinging door of family and friends here. But not caring to really blog or even worrying about it was honestly a little shocking to me. I love blogging. I love inspiring people to do something great with their life and get healthy. I love sharing what’s been going on!

But this time around to say I missed it would not be accurate. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t think much about it… until recently.

Much like stepping away from touring full time in a band 12 years ago. I needed a break from the machine of music so I could get back to why I loved music.

In the same way, not blogging for three months allowed me to remember why I started blogging in the first place. Because it was fun and allowed me the freedom to be creative in ways I was never creative before and sharing my experiences through writing.

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of social media and blog consulting and I absolutely love it. But at the same time, I put a lot of pressure on myself to either blog really well and do all the right things to get traffic or I just didn’t do anything at all. There was no middle ground for me… and I need middle ground more than ever.

Today? It’s not about traffic (another post coming soon). Today? It’s not about doing all the right social media things (another post coming soon).

Today and in the future, it’s just about being me and processing some parts of my life as I feel the need and when I feel the need to share it.

As I’ve been processing writing on my blog again, it takes me back to a post my friend Sarah Markley wrote called The Pleasure and Holiness Of Writing. It’s a great post, but there is one sentence that popped out for me and has stuck with me ever since. She said this about writing .

What I’ve learned along the way is that I process much of my life as I’m writing. This is what I mean: The learning often doesn’t come until the writing.

I think Sarah nails it. I process my life a lot better when I’m writing about what I’m experiencing. I deal with life in a more balanced way and I feel more connected to who I am because of it.

So with that… I’m here. I’m back and I’m ready to write again… and again… and again.

Three Fundamentals Of Social Media That Will Never Change

Trends in the way people use social media are constantly changing. What was once a good practice six months ago might not even be worth the effort or relevant today. In fact, over my years of blogging and using networks like twitter, facebook and more recently instagram, I’ve seen things change rapidly.

Don’t you feel like there is so much going in social media these days that is hard to keep up? New technologies, new social networks, new ways people communicate and share content. It fast, it’s changing and it’s still right where it needs to be.

One of the things I love is watching people catch on to how other people communicate and share content. Hashtags were once a part of twitter that not many understood. Now hashtags are their own language and bring certain connotation to the conversation.

Example: Where once you might hear a friend say “You’re the bomb dot com” or “You’re the bomb”, you might just as easily hear them say “Hashtag You’re The Bomb!” #yourethebomb

Why do things change online? Because networks like twitter, facebook and instagram function as a living entity where the heart beat and movement is completely user generated. As the online community grows, communicates, reacts, responds and intervenes… practices and methods of what’s acceptable change. It’s amazing to watch over time, but even more amazing to see how we as an online society make small changes because of the subtle changes everyone seem to make as new ideas and practices emerge.

However, even through the change, there are still three fundamental characteristics that still and always will remain the same at their core.

  1. Content is still king. Rule #1 Quality, compelling and engaging content attracts readers. Rule #2 posting content keeps readers coming back to your blog. Rule #3 when in doubt about whether to post content or not, refer back to Rule #1 and Rule #2.
  2. Authenticity still matters. There are a lot of great bloggers and social networkers out there, but the ones who write from their heart… and their gut are the best ones to read. There’s nothing holding them back in the way they communicate what they have to say. And yes. This means, bloggers don’t have to be great writers and they don’t have to always be polished. It’s the readers nature to expect grammatical errors, typos and poor sentence structure. Thank God, because I wouldn’t have one reader or follower if that were the case.
  3. Transparency is the window to all things that really connect with the reader. It’s about sharing those bits of info you might otherwise guard. It’s about sharing those hints and little sides of life that people really don’t know about you or about what you do… or more importantly, how you do it. Example: want to know how Michael Hyatt became such a great blogger? Read his book Platform or clue into his blog. He lays it all out there… all of it.

One thing I would caution in being transparent. Sharing info that you would otherwise guard doesn’t mean airing out your dirty laundry or telling the world about all of your problems or even you bringing others down in public. Having said that, there will always be people who do that and get lots of readers because of it. I’ve watched a blogger go from encouraging to critical over the past year and watched their readership, twitter following and business decline with every negative post. No one likes a sour puss… even online.

On the other hand, there are some people who are so transparent in a good way that they give us permission to grieve with them through personal loss like in the case of my friend Angie Smith. She turned the loss of her daughter at birth into a journey many women have experienced and created a forum for growth to encourage people to keep moving in life. Hats off to those who can be that vulnerable online.

So no matter what is the newest, next big thing is in the social media world, these three characteristics will always be at the foundation of blogging and your favorite social media network.

Thoughts?

Why I’m Switching Hotel Brands

For the past 12 years, I’ve been traveling like a mad man. Flying about 25 – 30 round trip flights a year on American Airlines and staying in Hilton brand (Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites) hotels almost every night of those trips. About 40 – 50 nights a year, sometimes more. But it’s time for a change.

I really like what Hilton has done over the years. They are a great brand but I find my personal tastes changing. So I’m switching to Marriott. I’m needing more from a hotel brand that makes travel just a tad easier and honestly… I like seeing big brands who are updating their look to keep up with travel trends.

I saw this when I walked into a Courtyard Marriott. I felt like I found a hotel that looks as cool as Aloft but with a lot more comfort.

I was very impressed.

One of the reasons I’m switching is this. Over the years, I’ve paid close attention to how loyalty and points programs have changed. What seems to be happening is some big brands tend to make it harder and harder to get to a higher level of status and to accumulate points. Thus making it harder to book a free night stay or a free flight.

When I looked into Marriott rewards a little closer I noticed not only is can you accumulate points and status a little faster, Marriott also has a very competitive structure for redeeming rewards for a free night stay.

Example: I booked our family a free night with Courtyard Marriott for our Thanksgiving trip. It cost 10,000 points. The Hampton Inn down the street costs 25,000 points. Both hotels are in the same area.

Here was something of a surprise for me as well. I went to re-activate my Marriott rewards number, which I haven’t used in YEARS! I was shocked to see I still had 17,000 unused points with Marriott. Yep… so I used them:)

Marriott also has a very intuitive app. I just booked a weekend of hotels for a run in Texas using the app and it was just as fast, if not faster than going online to book the rooms.

Now… let’s say most things in the travel world are equal. Many large hotel brands are close in comparison. Nice rooms, good prices etc.

But here was the one deciding factor that put me over the edge. I decided to tweet out that I was thinking of switching from @HiltonHHonors to @Marriott.

I immediately got a response from @Marriott and @CourtyardHotels. I had a short conversation with both of them. Brought @AmericanAir into the conversation… they responded as well… and made my decision.

Any brand willing to engage the conversation people are having about them is worth taking my business there. It’s one of the main reasons I fly American Airlines and rent cars from National.

As a side note… @HiltonHHonors was silent the whole time.

Am I mad at Hilton? Not at all. Do I feel like I deserve something from them? Not at all. I’ve given them 12 years of loyal business and they have served me well. But times are changing and becoming more updated with the needs of this new travel world.

Big travel brands need to remember. There are a lot of business travelers like me wanting to engage with them online to better the experience all the way around from talking favorably about their brand online to getting some faster customer service.

Marriott gets it. So does American Airlines.

If you are loyal to certain brands… Why? What is it that makes you proud to be their customer?

One Reason You Should Buy Michael Hyatt’s New Book PLATFORM: Getting Noticed In A Noisy World… TODAY.

Today is the day!!! I couldn’t be more excited to see Michael Hyatt release his book, PLATFORM: Getting Noticed In A Noisy World today!! This is going to be one of those books that people for years and years are going to be referring back to when it comes to platform, online presence… harnessing the power of influence through the internet…

All little back story on my excitement…

Michael and I have been friends for a few years now. Before I moved to Colorado, I lived in downtown Franklin, TN just down the street a few blocks and around the corner, so to speak, from Michael and his wife, Gail.

I was apart of a group of friends there who still hang out on a consistent basis and it was in these settings that I got to know Michael and Gail.

One of the fun parts was occasionally sitting around talking Social Media shoptalk. Giving each other little tid-bits of things we were doing online and what kind of results we were having. Those conversations would have us back at our computers making changes, signing up online for new profiles on whatever tool was going to help us grab onto the social media train that was moving fast down the tracks.

Over these past few years, I’ve watched Michael go from a great writer with a decent blog following, to a great writer with a huge platform all because he got really focused about what his online world looked like and made it what he wanted it to be.

All that to say, here’s the one reason you should buy Michael’s book today.

Because if he can do it… You can do it!!!!

That’s right. You can be your own platform and you can do it well. I know what you are thinking though…

But he has this huge following… Yeas he does but he had to start at the beginning.

But he was the CEO of a huge publishing house… yes he was. I know big top selling authors who would give anything to have the online presence he has… and the ability to move the needle the way he does.

But… But …  but….

Excuses.

Here’s the deal.

It’s not about being a CEO that has helped Michael build his platform.

It’s focusing on his audience when he found who his audience was that helped him build his platform.

It’s his willingness to be consist to posting content that his audience wants.

It’s his willingness to open and honest on his blog.

It’s his willingness to find new and better ways to get his message out there.

It’s his willingness to figure out a time in the day to do all of this… and still have been a CEO.

It’s… it’s…

It’s doable.

Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World… A Step By Step Guide For Anyone With Something To Say Or Sell says it all to me.

I have watched this man build his platform… as well as many others… and now Michael is going to tell you how he did it.

If you even think you might have something to say… and we all do… then you should buy this book.

Plus… If you do this between now, May 21 – May 25, there’s a bonus offer Michael is giving out that I think is of HUGE value…

BONUS OFFER: To celebrate the launch of the book this week, Michael is giving away $375.98 worth of free bonus content for those who purchase the book between May 21 and May 25. Complete details are available at http://michaelhyatt.com/platform

So… Go buy this book. Right now. You can do this!