Being an Influencer Is Not a Top Priority

Many people engage in online media to promote their services. The idea of choosing between becoming an online influencer or a communicator probably doesn’t occur to them. After all, they just want to win a few clients and projects.

I reached a point where I needed to prioritize my own online interactions versus a desire to do the work, scale a business, and maintain balance in my personal life. Some are able to build larger agencies and businesses that coincide with significant online profiles, but I struggle to do both. So a choice was needed. In many ways, it is a living decision, one that I constantly need to reinforce.

Last week, a top 100 influencers metric came out, as usual based on Twitter reach, though this time it measured the reach of persona’s following, specifically “how many people are following those followers.” I guess that’s potential RT reach? Anyway, I am not sure how that translates to influence, but many friends whom I do consider to be influential were deservedly on the list. My congratulations to them.

As I watched the usual accolades posted on my social streams, I grew jealous. I could have been on that list if I’d only chosen to focus on my personal network growth over the past few years. But then I reminded myself about my choices. I was able to detach.

How This Choice Impacted Me

I secured an opportunity for my client Cade Martin serve as the primary portrait photographer for the NBA Wives Association (Behind the Bench) black tie gala last weekend. Cade is photographing MLB great Prince Fielder here. Check out all of his shots.

Many who have known me over the past 10 years would agree that I am not as prolific as I used to be online. I am a practitioner now, not an uber-influencer on the social media conference speaking circuit. Ratcheting it back was necessary to achieve those other objectives.

Instead, I am present enough to contribute to the larger conversation and market my business. Further, I use the tools to demonstrate competency with social media, particularly with my photography.

Frankly, I feel like online tools like Twitter, this blog and others are awesome, but they can blind you. You think the attention is necessary to succeed, but it takes a lot of energy and time to keep that influencer flywheel turning. Plus the necessary, um, political schmoozing is not my favorite activity. So I made and continue to make the choice to focus on other things.

This decision hasn’t been unkind to me. I earn a bit more than I used to, and I have better family relationships.

Having attained the right balance, I believe I am still credible to clients. At the same time, my intent is to promote them first, and not myself. I guess that’s old school, the client should be in the limelight, and not me.

Perhaps I have become just a member of the community rather than one of the top voices. Others have taken the mantle, and today, it seems some leaders are newer voices, at least to this old man. I kind of like that. Perhaps it is time for the next generation of influencers.

Me, I just want to build a good business, and do what is necessary online. My time as an uber-influencer — real or imagined — has passed.

My 2015 Narcissism Update (Because It Can’t Be About You)

I’ve been thinking about narcissism lately. You might believe it is because of Kim Kardashian’s epic oily butt shot, which certainly returned the queen of selfies to the position of top ranked Internet narcissist. Or perhaps the cause is last week’s incredible amount of Uber posts from social media experts turned management consultants.

But, in reality online narcissism is the primary thread in my next novel after The War to Persevere, which focuses on social media influencers (see, this really was about me).

The Atlantic noted earlier this year that whenever online narcissism is researched, the studies always seem to revolve around social media. There is a strong correlation between high frequency of social media use and narcissism.

That doesn’t mean every active online personality is a narcissist. Only the ones who need an audience to fulfill their self esteem.

I have questions and theories about online narcissism. Can you catch narcissism from others? Meaning can you fall in love with your own [perceived] digital awesomeness? Is narcissistic behavior something that can be learned through peer communities>

It does appear to happen. I’ve seen it myself.

Profile Pics and Praise

Image by Cade Martin.

A narcissist thinks that awesome profile pic makes them look like their true sexy self, but in reality the pic is often just a thin veil. It is the digital pool of water to worship oneself in. We know these images are just overrated bits and bytes.

One can come to drink online praise and believe it. The hype defies reality, but when one sees it in words it is easy to believe. Likes and faves trigger a dopamine release, literally changing the mind .

Online narcissism is a bit like a drug addiction. It masks low self esteem. So in theory you crave more attention, and more, and more. Narcissists need approval. And the only way to placate the low self esteem beast is to engage more.

Social media fulfilled narcissism can leave you bankrupt. I have seen it, I have felt it.

You leave the social media likefest wanting a new drug. Like all self esteem stop-gaps, it doesn’t do the trick for me. In the end, if I want to feel good about myself then I must do esteemable things. It seems trite and simple, but in fact this is the only path, at least for me.

How many of our youth know about the dangers of online narcissism? How many will have to find out the hard way, succumbing to the dopamine rush?

Our very culture breeds narcissism. It is on the rise, and all of us will deal with the personality defects of the self-centered and their incessant drive for attention and fame. The worst will do anything to succeed, including throwing their peers under the bus.

Better change that hawt profile pic.

What do you think?

Tenacity5 Turns One

Tenacity5 Media turned one today! It’s been a successful voyage that’s seen some exciting work and an expansion into new ventures, including some great visual media projects and pranks — I was remarking on the one-year anniversary when my staff pulled this one.

We just launched a new website (Yes, it is 1999.), and have started to aggregate our insights on future media and present work. Check out the future and present sections on [] to learn more.

More than anything, this year has been one of rediscovering the joy of communications. Visual media and the customer data that informs it has empowered a new wave of exciting creative work, including an historic $53 million giving day with Give Local America, xPotomac, an award-winning campaign with Outmarket, and our recent content initiative with Cision, Brian Solis and Gapingvoid.

We have two other significant content efforts on the way; one with DC start-up SocialRadar and another with Capitol Communicator. And on Thursday, I fly to Mexico with renowned national photographer (and client) Cade Martin for a behind-the-scenes Day of the Dead photo shoot and citizen-reporting venture. You’ll see a full report next Monday on the @cademartin Twitter handle and here.

I wouldn’t have reached this one-year milestone without my talented team, Erin Feldman, director of editorial services, and Jessica Bates, director of digital media. We also received significant help from Jess Ostroff and Don’t Panic Management.

Thank you for your support during the past year. If there’s anything my team or I can do to be of service, even if it is just to “pick our brains” for 15 minutes, just ask. We’ll make it happen in November.

The Value of Silence

In an era when everyone can say whatever they want and often do, silence delivers more than you would think. In fact, there is great value in silence.

Let me give you an example. I had a client that was driving me nuts, and it was all I could do from expressing my frustration. I sat down with xx in a meeting, and was catching a fair amount of grief all while listening to the passionate defense of a few questionable decisions.

Though annoyed, I kept my mouth closed. I had already voiced my opinion on said projects. After a few minutes, the client said, “And we’d like to give you another $20,000 project.”

It literally paid to shut up.

When You Are Quiet

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When you are quiet, you have more energy. You become aware of everything around you.

You see things that are right in front of your eyes, things that you would normally miss. You are awake.

Online Perception


Every now and then people need to say what they have to say. Some things demand an outcry. Recent NFL delinquencies come to mind. But when there you see a consistent pattern of mouthiness, it’s often perceived as egocentric.

I often see my past critical blogging as a petty attempts to justify actions, feel smarter than other people, or drive traffic in the face of a controversy. More importantly, such actions were hurtful to others.

When I became fully aware three years ago, I made a commitment to change. Often that meant not saying what came to mind. The value of silence outweighed the benefits of saying what I wanted.

I forced myself to a new content standard, one that didn’t engage in this kind of judgement. Content needed to be beneficial, and if it was critical, it had to be in a general way. This was difficult at times, but it built character.

Today, my blog is much less popular, in part because I did things like cut frequency and removed social media as a primary topic. But, I also know there is less traffic because posts are less controversial now. There is no train wreck to witness.

Yet my business and personal results are better now. I get more deals now because I am less vociferous. Clients feel safe now and don’t have to worry about a loose cannon blogger on their team. My relationships with others are better in all aspects of my life.

It’s the value of silence.



I could not keep my mouth closed four years ago. What changed? First I became a Dad, second I realized how mouthiness was hurting myself and others, and then finally, I became the sole breadwinner in my family.

Today — most of the time — I avoid engaging in negative posts, actions and conversations.

I’m not always able to act with poise. In fact, earlier this year I received a communication from someone I caught red-handed poaching resources from one of my interests. The person demanded how I discovered their actions. My anger got the best of me and I reacted, calling them out for unethical behavior. It’s been war ever since.

That relationship was a competitive one already, but the additional negative energy was something I could have avoided. Instead, I created an unnecessary distraction and time suck. Yet another reminder that shooting your mouth off doesn’t pay.

But usually, I keep my mouth closed. Pick your battles wisely, my friends.

8 Random Thoughts

Strap in, this is going to be a bit of a random wild post. All of the mentioned topics were notable but not worth full blog posts so you’re getting a bit of a mash-up.

1) Lists Don’t Matter Until You’re On One


Most folks claim that lists don’t matter until they are on one. Then the lording of mightiness ensues, humblebrags and the posts of “how you, too, can be part of x influencer (or whatever) list.”

Here is the truth. If lists didn’t matter people wouldn’t talk about them, good or bad. Do you talk about lists? Of course, this doesn’t apply if you are one of the top-ranked guitarists of all time.

2) Jason Werth is the Dude


For those that don’t follow baseball, Jason Werth is the wild bearded zen leader of the Washington Nationals. Watch him speak, and you’ll be struck by his calm manner, matter of fact comment, and his slang/poor English, all of which reminds of The Dude. That’s right, The Big Lebowski. Go ahead and make your own determination.

3) What Did That Get You?


A few years ago I won the top Twitter personality in DC according to a Washington Post poll (see #1 above), and called my Dad to tell him. He said, “That’s great, Geoff. What did that get you?” I still don’t know.

4) Be Visual


We’re working on our website and trying to develop something new that will really stand out. It occurs to me if we really are in a visual media era, then we cannot talk about visual, per say. We need to be visual. Practicing vs preaching.

5) Doubling Down on DC


There was a lot of great feedback about last week’s Capitol Communicator announcement that in addition to my building Tenacity5, I am supporting their team as a media strategist. Phil and Paul have done a great job with the product and the Summits. It’s an honor, and rather than blog here and create entities to help the local community this seemed like an easier path. More than 80% of Tenacity5’s business is in the DC area, so it only made sense to double down.

6) If No One Takes Responsibility Everyone Loses


There is plenty of blame going around these days for wrong conversations and content. But if no one takes responsibility for their own actions and participation, then the only winner is Anonymous. That dastardly crowd-sourced villain does everything today. And the cycle of wrongness continues.

7) Distractions


I wrote two Facebook posts last month, one on LinkedIn becoming spammy, the other on real-time marketing off of Robin Williams death. Both were complaints, distractions and wasted my (and others’) time. They reminded me that energy and time spent on negative issues that don’t really impact me is energy and time lost. Plus such actions lead to a lack of mindfulness in speech, something I continue to work on.

8) The Super Moon


The final Super Moon of the year is next week and I will be in Cleveland for Content Marketing World. I wonder what I will miss during that two hour window when I am photographing the moon as it rises over Cleveland.

That’s it really. I have a couple more, but will save them for another round some other day.

Care to comment? Or, what’s going on with you?

So Long, Summer of 2014

It’s hard to believe, but this is the last week of unofficial summer. Labor Day is just one week away, and the official autmun grind begins.

Personally, I feel like the summer ended somewhere in July. Work has gotten very busy, unlike any summer in recent memory.

At the same time, I had some great experiences this summer, including watching Soleil sprout up even more and get taller. Here are five memories I won’t forget anytime soon:

Soleil, the Jaguar Girl


There comes a point where your kid becomes much more sociable and fun. Soleil is becoming quite the young lady. She knows what she likes, including face paint, painting in general, all things pink, trains, horses, dinosaurs and just about any live animal. She even likes taking photos now, and will tell me to set up the camera so she can point and click. This “girl jaguar” face paint photo was taken at the Central Park Zoo.

New York, New York


You never know where business is going to take you, and little did I know this summer would involve some significant travel to New York City. And I love New York, so the trips made me happy. Two thumbs up!

3) Rocking the Full Frame


Part of my summer activity included fundraising for and launching my 365 Full Frame project with my new Nikon Df camera. This has been immensely fun, and I am learning a ton. Now I also am getting mentored by my new client Cade Martin. Heck, I even started shooting in studio last week.

4) Business Is Red Hot

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About mid-July we started winning what would be a string of four new clients and one new business partnership (to be announced soon). Tenacity5 went as long as we could without hiring, but it became apparent that we needed help, so Jessica Bates has agreed to join the company, and will manage several clients for the company.

In addition, I signed a book deal in mid August for my third novel (it will be a present day novel, not one from the Fundamentalists series). This will be released in early 2016.

5) OMG, the Nats Are Serious!


I was at that heartbreaking Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the Cardinals. Ever since then the Nats have been a bad case of unfulfilled potential, that is until this summer. They have been red hot, and it has been great enjoying my partial ticket plan with my wife Caitlin, Soleil and friends. Playoffs here we come!

So those are my five big memories of The Summer of 2014. How about you? What will you remember most?