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.

ladysoleil

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.

29 Replies to “Breathe, then Think”

  1. Clarity indeed. (Love the second logo, btw.) That is quite the revelation Geoff, again. But, it’s good. Not many people write about things like cliques much, but I can see the intellectual limitations this can bring. And yes, it’s better to step out and follow your own path.

    Respect.

    1. Have you read Blue Ocean Strategy? I think you’d like it. It discusses this in depth.
      And thank you! It’s going to be fun!

  2. There’s a lot to be said for spending time gaining perspective! Congratulations on continuing to build the new venture and I wish you infinite success with it!

    I love what you said about the underbelly of the marketing conversation. Our clients DON’T care and ultimately I DO care a lot more about serving them than listening to the pundits babble on about things that don’t matter.

    Keep doing what you do, providing value to the things and conversations that matter.

    1. Business is business. The most successful people never lose that focus.
      Thank you for your well wishes!

  3. Good for you. I’ve had to pull back from a number of the online marketing groups as well for some of the same reasons, and some more personal reasons. And while a number of friendships have apparently been lost, I’ve learned a lot about people, that’s for sure. But, sometimes you just have to do that kind of thing. I wish you well on your new endeavors!

    1. Yeah, it was a sobering experience for me. In the end, I graduated high school 23 years ago. I am not interested in returning. And perhaps the way to put it is you found out who your real friends are. I know I did.

  4. Geoff, as always, I wish you nothing but success, in that I hope you do what makes you and your family the happiest.

  5. Love hearing the updates, and good for you for taking two whole weeks off! A great example of how refreshing time away can be (I need to follow your lead…).

  6. Perspective is a beautiful thing. :) Definitely agree that staying out of the backchannel, where drama festers, is the path to sanity. Congrats on the Kirkus Review! I get excited even when I get a nice user review for my stuff. Sounds like you’re in a good, focused place, wrapping up the loose ends and listening to the lessons of 2013. Making a plan for 2014. A nice spot to be in at this point in the year.

    1. That is a great way to state it, I’m putting into motion my 2014 plan! How are your books doing? I totally have to read some of it. Can’t wait to catch up with you soon.

      1. I’ve made dozens of dollars so far! LOL… Really, my 2013 plan was about finishing stories and putting them out there. Building resolve and thicker skin. ;) But I’ve slowly started building up sales and reviews, and I’ve had about 1000 downloads of the full novel. Looking forward to that catch up. Maybe another thing to add to the 2014 plan?

  7. I’m glad to read this! I just returned from a few “breathing” days myself and echo your thoughts on clarity. It’s more necessary now than ever. And I still need to read your book! It’s waiting for me.

    1. Ah, thank you, Jeannie. The truth is that you can easily get caught up in the rat rce, and that doesn’t help with clarity! I hope to catch up with you soon!

  8. Great post Geoff. Good for me to read as I’m still finding my way after so many years at Dell. Great perspective and I’m glad to see things working out well for you and your family.

  9. It’s amazing what can happen when you allow yourself to breathe and break free. Make sure you continue with the momentum and just allow your creative juices to work for you. If you need a reminder, let me know, and I’ll give you a firm but friendly nudge!

  10. Looking forward to sharing some of your journey via your blog updates and occasional Facebook conversations. Interesting how several of us are in life/professional transition. In my case, I’m now empty nest…but also supporting two kids’ college tuition and loving every moment with one grandson – with another grandchild on the way! And enjoying my wife’s company like I’ve done over the last 24+ years.

    Professionally, I hope to expand our social presence ahead of the competition. Not too many folks consistently writing about business intelligence, data governance, software development, etc. That’s an awesome goal, but I also hope that 2014 is the year that our Pulse products really start gaining ground on the incumbents.

    Always enjoy our chats, Geoff – and hope you are recharged after that time off! The wife and I are headed to Vegas in November (never been there together), and we are already super-charged at a chance to relax and spoil ourselves a little with some shows (Cirque du Soleil).

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