A friend recently emailed me and said she was having a crisis of faith, that her attempts to work with people weren’t going especially well, that she felt a bit lost in it all. I gave her some fairly harsh feedback, but all in the service of love. The shortest version of my response to her? “You have a white truck, not a business.”
Define Your Business As Clearly As You Can
When I talk about a “white truck” business, here’s the thing: if you buy a white truck like the one in the picture above, you CAN do pretty much anything with it. You could be a landscaper. You could haul stuff. You could help people move. You could start a logistics and delivery organization. Whatever. There are LOTS of ways to use a white truck.
This post won’t change your life. Just the same, I wanted to tell you that I see a lot of shifts in the whole online/social networks landscape. Some of it kind of saddens me. The rest of it points to the weakening state of effectiveness of various platforms as business tools. You can disagree. That’s fine.
Social Networks for Business
I should note that most of my opinions have changed dramatically (180 degrees level) in the last handful of months. I’m basing this on business. Not on whether I like or don’t like something, unless I state it as such.
I’ve been teaching online courses for the last three or four years. When I started out, it was because Julien Smith told me that I ought to teach people how to create their own blog topics. That evolved into Blog Topics: The Master Class, and since then, I’ve launched a dozen or so more.
The folks at Blendtec sent me a Designer 725 super duper high tech smart blender. As a fitness and health guy, it’s a pretty cool thing to own. My parents own a competing brand of blender, and I’ve owned a much less expensive blender that I used to use to make smoothies until it died after about a year. So it was neat to get the chance to try it out.
Blendtec Designer 725
For those of you who ask such things, I was not paid to write a review. They didn’t even ask me to write a review (which was weird, because they sent me a pretty expensive blender to mess around with). Yes, if someone is given something, it means you probably have a little bias towards saying something nice. No, I never just say something nice. It’s not worth it for either of us. Finally, these words are all mine, because someone asked if they were. Yes.
The people who work best with me are trying to grow their business. They may or may not be employees of some other company, but they want to grow their business, their part of the story. They are looking for next-level advantages.
I was asked by Lee Odden to contribute to an ebook that relates to the upcoming Authority Rainmaker conference. I would’ve said yes anyway, but they added to the story that Henry Rollins was going to be in this same ebook. Having read most of Henry’s books, to actually be on some other page in the same book as him was reason enough.
The fact that the information’s really useful? Well, that’s another thing.
I was the keynote speaker at Perry Drake’s UMSL digital marketing event last week. The room was a mix of agency people, business owners, and students. With that in mind, I asked them if they wanted to see what I speak about with businesses who are asking about how to use media and community to earn more customers. They said that would be okay (I mean, I was the keynote. If that wasn’t okay, would they have asked, “What else have you got?”) I thought I’d share WHY I picked what I did as my keynote speech.
Make Media That Serves
The premise of the speech was “Winning in the Choose Your Own Adventure Economy.” If I boiled the whole speech down to one slide, it would be this one:
First off, I should be honest right up front: I lied. I’m definitely NOT going to give you 37 blog posts to stop writing. Instead, stop writing list posts just because you read somewhere that they’re good.
We are TRASHING the opportunity to create great content marketing
Attention gimmicks are just that. They earn us attention. Briefly. And then what? If you’ve got no “next,” then you’ve just wasted it. Your “71 productivity tips” post is like Stewie (and all children):
17 years. That’s how long I’ve been blogging (as of the moment I’m writing this post). I started in 1998, before there was blogging software, back when it was called “journaling.” A lot has changed in my life since then (two major relationships, 4 companies, the birth of my children), and obviously even more has changed with the world.
Has Blogging Changed Much Over the Last 17 Years?
The short answer is yes. The tools have changed immensely. My first “blogging” was really using a WYSIWYG software called Trellix (I’m stunned that they still have a basic web page up). I then dabbled with lots of tools, some of which included Blogger when that came out, a few short forays onto less successful platforms that later died (and ate my posts) until finally landing on WordPress in one form or another. I regret that the Wayback machine really only captures a few iterations of my site starting in 2001, because of course, I changed URLs at the drop of a hat and can’t really even remember some of the others (remember Angelfire? Livejournal?).
I was talking with my friend, Jake Thompson about a project we’re doing to send athletic clothes to some special needs athletes in Wichita East school ( the story is here and here). My friend, Angel is also helping out. Jake and I were discussing that service was a very important part of ownership. I said to Jake, “Money is a subset of value.”
Money is a SUBSET of Value
My friend Anthony talks about value creation all the time. He works with sales organizations to help them forge what he calls “Level 4 Value Creation.” I’m not smart enough to explain that but I know that the way *I* know how to do business is that I create value, often more than I charge for, and that the whole concept is that value is this nice broad spectrum, of which money is only part.