Breathe, then Think

Four weeks ago I blogged that I was pressing pause, and then took a two week vacation. I let everything hit the floor, and stayed offline and out of business for the most part. Heck, I didn’t even write until the end of the vacation.

Finally, after a few days I was able to breathe.

When you let yourself breathe several things happen. You relax, develop perspective, and can make a few decisions.

Here’s where I wound up.

Getting Ready to Scale

For the past two years, I have served as an uber consultant taking on long-term in-depth contracts that often brought me on site working with clients. This was good from a business and life perspective allowing me to be home more often with the kid. Plus I needed a break after the last start-up.

But Soleil is older, and I am getting hungry again. Plus, I have become the sole bread-winner for my house, putting more weight on my shoulders. Being dependent on one client presents uncomfortable economic weaknesses, plus you end up fulfilling the work 50 hours a week, all while marketing and hopefully getting the next client in the pipe.

It’s time to scale and build a company again.

My role as interim head of communications at Vocus is winding down with a permanent director on board. I am fortunate to contuue working with Vocus on content. Meanwhile, I have picked up five additional clients, including a couple of Fortune 500 companies.

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Look for Lady Soleil the brand to evolve beyond a shell company created for tax and legal purposes. In some ways this has already begun, a necessary step if a business is to be built beyond a singular personality. A logo and web site is in the works. Consultants are already working with me. The first hire will come soon.

Prepared for a Long Book March

Exodus was downloaded more than 1000 times during my initial launch. A good start for my first novel, but I didn’t market Exodus in September. I wanted to see how the book was received, and I needed to rest.

One thing I have learned about book marketing is it ends when the author stops pushing. Now I plan on a long entrenched marketing effort that focuses on building out the world unveiled in the text, and expanding the reach of the book into more traditional literary and science fiction circles.

Most of it will not be on this blog, though what you see will be an expansion of thinking behind the book, and more free content. In the short term, I have three quick updates for you:

  • I published a new story called “Steam” from The Fundamentalists online this weekend. Steam offers some clues about one of the primary plot themes in the next book.
  • Several folks have asked, so I set up a Google Hangout to answer questions, chat, and discuss future books in the trilogy. The hangout is scheduled for Friday, October 25 at 2 p.m. Join us if you can!
  • Finally, publishing industry magazine Kirkus Reviews just published their thoughts on Exodus. It was a very positive take on the book, check it out.

Distance Is Good

I have intentionally removed myself from most of the day-to-day scrums within the online marketing conversation. I like and follow lots of people, but find the cliques and anti-clique cliques to be tiresome.

When I got back, someone showed me a “who are your favorite marketing speakers” post. All the cool kids were referring themselves as usual. Most of us know that there were much more negative conversations in private online groups and conversations.

This is human nature, and happens offline, too. At the same time, these types of conversations can be a big distraction, and matter very little to clients. Plus deep participation creates homogenous thinking, and a scary return to high-school like politicking.

I feel better when I focus on more productive activities. My only private online group participation are two baseball groups, and a writer’s group. Everything I have to say professionally about marketing remains said publicly, and otherwise it’s heads down.

Stay the course, and remain in the wide open blue ocean rather than at harbor with the rest of the crew.

So these were my big three takeaways from vacation. Clarity helps.

Pressing Pause

I talk about rest on this blog a lot. Whether that is making choices on time investments or simply pulling the plug and chilling out, rest is a critical component of productivity and happiness.

Well, it’s finally time to practice what I preach.

I’m so very tired, friends. I could list all of the major projects (not to mention surgery) since I had my last recreational vacation in the Bahamas, but why bother? I’m not a walking stat sheet, just a dude.

The point is my batteries must be recharged.

This weekend I will begin a two-week vacation in the southwest United States with my immediate family. As part of this break, I intend to spend minimal time online. You could say I am putting the online life on pause; work, book, Soleil pic of the week, etc.

I will still publish three blogs a week here, but without commenting. Perhaps Friday the 27th I’ll shoot up a pictorial from the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.

When October comes, we’ll pick back up and venture forward with Exodus and work.

Thank you for your support.

Life with a Scarlet Letter

This blog post is running in support of my Punish Geoff Fundraiser: CivilinationPlease consider a donation to support better online conversations. At the time of publishing, we have raised more than $3,000 for the Civilination Academy.

Long-term readers know I have attempted to evolve my language to become more mindful of others. Part of that reparation is learning to live with that negative reputation publicly — my proverbial Scarlet Letter — and handle new disagreements.

At SxSW two different people informed me how a person was telling everyone what an A&^hole I was every time my name came up. It’s no coincidence that this person is someone I wrangled with on here and elsewhere. He’s not the only one. So the damage continues long after the matter passed.

The way I see it, I have two paths; one is to leave the interwebs, walk with some shame, and live a quiet life as a marketer behind the scenes. As entertaining as that seems many days, this path lacks courage.

Part of  acknowledging the problem for me means moving forward in the face of it, and continuing to exist in the ecosystem, albeit in a more productive fashion. I have things to say, and can contribute to the larger conversation.

To do that, I have to accept the repercussions. For me, that means openly acknowledging my mouth, and acting more responsibly. A tainted reputation means you have history. You can’t run from history. You can only openly acknowledge it, make your amends, and live with the outcomes.

I counsel clients who have public errors to do the same. There is no pushing issues under the rug. In fact, that exacerbates the problem.

So you own it, and accept your scars. You let your new actions speak for themselves, good or bad.

New Disagreements

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While I have stopped taking people’s name in vain, so to speak, I do still have disagreements. And you know what, sometimes I feel like I’m right, and I won’t yield.

I’m not going to hurt someone’s reputation directly, but I won’t openly encourage folks to engage in negative actions towards me just to people please.

I was wrong in the past. That doesn’t mean I’m interested in becoming a public or private punching bag as a penance. Change necessitates a more moderated approach, not a complete pendulum shift.

Instead, I choose to detach, distance or ignore. I suppose I have become colder, and less passionate or emotionally invested in issues. I’d rather not feed the negative, instead walking away and turning to a more productive activity.

People that receive this cold distant shoulder can easily say, “Hey, he is the same guy.” And that’s fine, it’s part of living with the scarlet letter. I have to take those hits. Folks can say what they want, but believe me, all parties are living easier without my proverbial cannon locked and loaded.

It’s the path I choose to walk so I can stay public and look myself in the mirror with comfort. As time evolves, I am sure my approach will change, too.

How do you handle the impact of your past errors?

Featured image by ErinJane7284

My First Novel, 19 Years in the Making

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Image by Vindaloo

Over the past few months I babbled about a secret project in blog posts now and then. It’s time to lift the curtain and reveal the project. I intend to release a science fiction novel at the end of summer.

Here’s some more babble for you. Exodus (Book One of the Fundamentalists) has been 19 years in the making. Nineteen fricking long years.

But first let me thank Patrick Ashamalla and A Brand New Way for this incredible new web design. It’s a responsive design offering unique experiences for the traditional web, tablet and mobile visitors. Check it out!

The new site accommodates Exodus with both its own section and RSS feed. The book will be available for purchase in both print and electronic editions, and will use the RSS feed to publish each chapter over a course of 70 days. Empowering people to read the book for free is a side benefit of independent publishing. If you want a preview copy in late July/early August, sign up for book updates, too.

I hope you enjoy the new experience, and thank you for continuing to read my stuff. Now, onto the book…

A Tale of Two Decades

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Exodus is the opening salvo in a science fiction trilogy that centers on the themes of utopia in a technological dark age, and the disruptive power of religious fundamentalism. In later entries to The Fundamentalists, the power of technology and principles of freedom are examined as the narrative progresses through steam punk to hard science fiction.

Exodus was first drafted in 1994 as my senior creative writing project at American University. My literature professor and mentor told me I’d be crucified if I published it. It has been refined six times since then, including a near miss with a publisher in 2004.

I believe Exodus has always been a keeper, one that just needed more wisdom as well as the ability to effectively deliver a captivating product.

All of this effort — an effort that is now finally coming to fruition — was necessary. Without it, I don’t believe the product would have been ready. Without the business books, social media marketing experiences, and yes, failed attempts to find a publisher nine years ago, I would not have found the courage to release book myself.

Reading Guy Kawasaki’s A.P.E. and C.C. Chapman’s Amazing Things Will Happen were the final pieces of motivation. The creative war fought within ended, and the final push began last January. I hired editorial support, and the rest is history.

Exodus may still fail. I know that. But I’ll be damned if I don’t follow my heart’s passion, and release this book.

I probably won’t blog about the novel itself again until August, but if you do read it, you’ll see some essay themes threaded in the text here and there.

Sign up if you’d like private updates. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Once again, thank you for continuing to read me through the years.

Slights and Chalkboards

Image by rebekaburgess

A colleague has been struggling with some negative talk on the back channel and asked me how I deal with it. When someone slights me, I use that resentment to drive me further, finish hard projects, go the extra mile, and get up when I fail.

This is the famous chalkboard moment. Sports teams often use slights and trash talk to go out and hand it to the opposition.

Michael Jordan admitted a similar fueling approach when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jordan was criticized (justly), probably because he said he did it to prove all of his critics wrong. He also revealed several resentments toward players that were in attendance.

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Is Existing Online a Quest of Loneliness or Giving?

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Image by Den Den

Do you sense a lack of clear meaning in this online rat race? On one hand, existence stands in its purest form, reasons to be online, missions of the niche! Then we dilute existence with digital records of ice cream trips, Nike Fuel runs, and manufactured savoir faire.

Self determination now exists at its ultimate zenith, coupled with a bizarre sense loneliness.

YouTube star Jenna Marbles reflected recently in a NY Times article that with all of her online fame and popularity and friends, she finds herself in an odd state of loneliness. We have many boys and girls trapped in their own online bubbles now.

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