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.

Dancing Around that Religion Thing

There are two things that they say one should not discuss in public settings; politics and religion. Yet, my new book Exodus takes the latter topic head on, and examines what causes people to act violently in the name of religion.

I realize that the time has come for me to have these conversations online, whether I like it or not. You can’t drop a rock this big in the middle of the pond, and expect to walk away without getting a little water on you.

Still, I am reticent to discuss religion here. It’s always a recipe for volatility.

Perhaps the Exodus conversation will be more of a commentary of others. The book may just be the impetus to have those discussions.

I hope the book does not offend the majority of my Christian friends. Exodus focuses on Christian fundamentalism mostly because it takes place here in the United States. One of my greatest fears is a militarized Christian right, a result of life as a Jew who experienced antisemitism.

One could easily swap out Christianity and substitute Islam or another faith. This is a story that’s been replayed throughout history, and it is destined to continue well into our future.

I know the various flavors of Christianity hold great spiritual value, and comfort millions of people. In my adult life, I’ve come to embrace certain aspects of the faith, and know a few prayers by heart. I’ll never call myself a Christian, but I’m happy to admire the faith’s spiritual value.

One of the characters in the book, Mordecai, represents what I really think of Christianity. In the end, Mordecai’s tolerance and willingness to serve the community in the face his hosts’ ignorance become saving graces.

What do you think about religious conversations online?

What Kind of Bystander Are You Going to Be?

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The following is a guest post by my former colleague Andrea Weckerle, the founder of CiviliNation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting online hostility and character assassination. Her book Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph over Haters, Trolls, Bullies, and Other Jerks was released in February.

Every single day we see example after example of online attacks against individuals and organizations. It’s as though people have forgotten, or possible never even learned, the art of disagreeing with another’s position or point of view without devolving into personal or reputational attacks against the other side as a means of expressing their displeasure.

What’s interesting is that when we think about online attacks, we often focus exclusively on who the people or companies in dispute are. Identifying the public-facing attacker and the visible target or victim is relatively easy, whereas we tend to overlook the behind-the-scenes or hidden disputants who are represented by the visible ones.

Continue reading “What Kind of Bystander Are You Going to Be?”

It’s Not OK

Mist Over Manhattan
A cloud hangs over Manhattan

A forthcoming Columbia University and University of Pittsburgh study shows that surfing on Facebook with close friends lowers inhibitions towards self control. The study says that with an inflated positive self caused by ego-stroking on Facebook we feel more inclined to take license.

So now we know the medium is toxic. Does that give us license to behave poorly?

In recent weeks, I’ve seen and received direct feedback from several folks that we all act like assholes and b&^ches online.

That’s true.
Continue reading “It’s Not OK”