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Archive for May, 2013

An odd thing happened at work. Someone thought my advice and experience in blogging was useful and should be shared with others. I, of course, was mortified.

Has anybody actually read my blog? I thought not.

It felt like when you wave to someone who’s calling out to you, only to realize too late they are talking to the person behind you. Embarrassing to say the least. So when I got the Skype message on my laptop with the request, I immediately looked behind me. Yet, no one was lurking, ready to be a real blogger.

Oh no. It’s me they want.

I immediately booked a flight to Timbuktu, Mali and chucked all my electronic devices. If they want me to say something, anything, they’re going to have to find me first!

Going incognito in Mali has its fashion drawbacks. Plus the camels are surly and it scorches to 118 Fahrenheit on a good day! (At least so in 2007 when I first went).

Mali fashion (circa 2007)

Mali fashion (circa 2007)

Surly camel

‘I don’t like bloggers, you.’

Who needs that. So I stayed.

Eventually I could not resist the technology temptation, so I dusted off the iPhone and placed the laptop back in its precarious position on my desk. After checking email and Facebook and Twitter and Yammer, I was out of excuses so I perused the Skype chats. The question remained.

‘Would I chat about my experience in blogging and give any tips to potential bloggers?’

I could just imagine all the real social media and blogging gurus tweeting and posting in consternation at the preposterous nature of such an undertaking!

That’s really what inspired me. Defying expectations. Taking the path less trodden.

So I deemed the request worthy of a ‘yes’. Woe to those standing in my path.

Sarcasm aside (never), here is a summary. Not likely to be that new or exciting. Use it. Abuse it. Muse it.

Tips for blogging

…know the reason you are writing.

…know who is likely to read it.

…define what you mean by ‘success’. This can change over time.

…have a schedule. Keep it.

…be persistent.

…be interesting. Or funny. Or provocative. If you are bored…so are we.

…let it fester before publishing.

…use ‘clever’ titles.

Some ‘clever’ titles (my most viewed posts)

  1. Don’t Look Down and Other Reasons to Wet Your Pants
  2. Blue Blazes, President Hoover, and a Skinny Dipping World Record
  3. The Joy of Food Porn
  4. Colombia in Pictures (sometimes not so clever works too…)

How to stay motivated?

Keep your goal in mind. (Did you achieve it? Can it change?)

Give encouragement to others. (One ounce of feedback is motivating.)

Sense of accomplishment. (From crafting something useful or interesting or funny.)

But no one reads my blog! No one leaves comments! I quit! (You can’t build a pyramid with only five stones or a blog with only three blog posts.)

Where do you draw the line on what to share?

Remember the audience.

Not everything that happens (in your life) is interesting. (Your Mom isn’t the only one reading this. Hi Mom!)

Will it get you in trouble? Stir up some controversy? (If it is work related, does it match your corporate philosophy?)

Some pointed Q&A

Why are blogs important internal communication tools?

You can have a quicker production schedule (outside the formal communication channels currently available).

You can involve more people with minimal effort. One person can post and edit on behalf of many contributors or a team of people can post individually on topics in their area of expertise.

You can set the ‘tone’. Other formal communication pieces (like newsletters or an intranet news site) have their own editors and style.

What makes a good post?

It’s about something you care about.

It’s about something your readers care about.

It elicits a reaction and people share it. It’s provocative. It’s humorous. It’s poignant.

How can you get leaders to regularly post or contribute to a blog? Especially if they say no one reads it.

If a leader started a blog and no one reads it, has it had a chance to find interested readers? Has it been promoted or made known to those people? If yes, and still no one reads it, maybe it’s time to reconsider the purpose. Maybe they need to find a different way to communicate. Blogging is not the solution for everyone.

To get leaders to maintain or contribute to a blog, first you need someone who is already motivated to do it. If they are on the fence or regularly don’t have time, it will hard to maintain and they will give up quicker.

Second, give them a reasonable schedule. Like once a month. Maybe you could have one blog from multiple leaders, each providing a post once a month, but the net result is new posts coming weekly or more frequently.

Third, make it easier for them. For example, make their sole task to write a 300 word treatise on widgets. Then you do all the work of editing, adding photos or graphics, posting and promoting.

That’s all folks.

Your refund is in the mail.

Here is the presentation: Blogging Made Easy

I’d share the recording, but talk about boring!

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I stormed the second weekend of the 2013 Coachella Music and Arts Festival (Indio, CA) last April. They couldn’t contain me, but they sure did try.

Check this space for all available knowledge on this topic. During the three days of rays, desert heat attire, libations, wind turbines, epic tunes and the artfully weird, I managed to partake in 25 different concert sets. 17 of those were acts I saw for the first time.

Here is my complete run down, a list of ‘Highs’, ‘Lows’ and ‘Regrets’ and some photo bombs! Listen up!

Friday’s concerts

  1. Poliçia (6 songs)
  2. Stars (5 songs)
  3. Metric (full set)
  4. Of Monsters and Men (full set)
  5. Palma Violets (5 songs)
  6. Sparks (full set)
  7. Beach House (3 songs)
  8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (full set)
  9. Band of Horses (6 songs)
  10. The Stone Roses (full set)
  11. Foals (6 songs)
  12. blur (8 songs)
Saturday’s concerts
  1. Vintage Trouble (5 songs)
  2. The Savages (full set)
  3. Dropkick Murphy’s (full set)
  4. Violent Femmes (full set)
  5. The Make-Up (full set)
  6. Hot Chip (full set)
  7. The Postal Service (full set)
  8. Franz Ferdinand (full set)
  9. Phoenix (full set)

Sunday’s concerts

  1. The Lumineers (8 songs)
  2. Joris Voorn – DJ Set (2 songs)
  3. Maya Jane Coles -DJ Set (2 songs)
  4. Tame Impala (5 songs)
  5. Vampire Weekend (full set)
  6. OMD (full set)
Highs
  • Metric, Phoenix, Of Monsters and Men, blur, Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip, Dropkick Murphy’s
  • Strange art and exhibits. Notably the giant moving snail and a recycling T. Rex.
  • Concertgoers were presented with a quaint speakeasy to wile away precious minutes out of the sun. It came complete with dueling pianos, Red Bull sponsorship, staff and bartenders dressed as if we were living in 1923, a wall screen displaying tweets from the twits using the #speakeasy hash tag (like me), and a password to get in (hint: Dances with Bulls).
  • You could choose from three beer gardens. Two nestled the main stage – giving you ample opportunity to nurse your brew and vibe the music.
Lows
  • Heineken and Red Bull took on the major sponsor duties. This meant Red Bull was plentiful (gross) and the ONLY BEER AVAILABLE WAS HEINEKEN!!! Sorry for shouting, but I’m still vexed by that.
  • The giant snail went right up to the front of the stage before Of Monsters of Men and completely blocked the stage for half the crowd. Until it finally crawled away. Stupid snail.
  • Concert fatigue. There is a point in a day, when you’ve had it with music. That happened a couple of times, but I endured.

Three acts I most wanted to see pre-Coachella

  1. Metric
  2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  3. Postal Service
Five acts to check out post-Coachella
  1. Beach House
  2. Savages
  3. Tame Impala
  4. Poliçia
  5. Palma Violets
Pleasantly Surprised
  • Hot Chip: I’ve seen them once before and I only like a few of their songs. It wasn’t a show I was targeting to see, but they were full of energy and really got the crowd dancing. More so than many other acts.
  • Poliçia: I saw her at the Firefly Music Festival last year, but that show was nothing memorable. Glad I gave her a second chance. Playing in a smaller space and me being up close changed my perception. It also didn’t hurt she was the first act I saw at Coachella and had my full attention.

Slightly Disappointed

  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs: I enjoyed their show, but I was lukewarm on the new songs (need to listen to the new album) and it didn’t ‘live up’ to my pre-show hype. Good. Not great.
  • Band of Horses: I like a number of their songs. But never really had a sense of how they performed live. The lead singer was more like a goofy redneck trucker and didn’t endear me to their live show. They kept interrupting during one of my favorite songs by them (The Great Salt Lake), but my other favorite (Laredo) was spot on.
  • The Stone Roses: They seemed bored. Like me. (Interestingly enough, all three of these shows happened consecutively early Friday evening…while the best shows I saw happened earlier that afternoon…is my attitude a factor?)

Regrets

  • That I didn’t see Tegan and Sara as they played against blur.
  • That I didn’t check out Sigur Rios as they played against Phoenix.
  • That it took too long in the security line on Sunday (one too many intimate pat downs of the family jewels) so I missed Grimes.

Analysis

A good time. Lots of great bands and artists. Would I do it again? Yes. But given the expense, it would have to be another stellar line-up.

Photos

Welcome to Coachella

Welcome to Coachella

Map of the world

Map of the world

Power!

Power!

Signings

Signings

Poliçia

Poliçia

Recycling T-Rex

Recycling T-Rex

Vintage Trouble

Vintage Trouble

Crazy snail

Crazy snail

Metric

Metric

Heineken Dome

Heineken Dome

Get out of the way!

Get out of the way!

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men

No drugs

No drugs

Me! A twit, tweeting!

Me! A twit, tweeting!

Main stage

Main stage

Do Lab

Do Lab

Out

Out

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All you need to know – April was a success. Unfortunately for you, I never end my posts so abruptly or concisely.

April Goal: Do a bunch of random things in multiples of five.

Result: Success!

Things I committed to

  1. Five hikes of over five miles – Yes I did!
  2. Run five times over 5,555 feet – Yes I did!
  3. Attend five concert sets of five songs or more – Yes I did!
  4. Play in five sports games/matches (softball and volleyball) – Yes I did!
  5. Watch five movies (In honor of Roger Ebert) – Yes I did!

Things I added

  1. Unlock five Foursquare badges – Yes I did!
  2. Drink five new beers – Yes I did!

Reflections

None at this time, thanks for asking.

Ruminations

I’m weird.

Results

Five hikes of over five miles – I did hikes of 5, 5, 13, 15 and 31 miles. Total = 5 hikes (69 miles)

Run five times over 5,555 feet – I ran 1.25, 1.50, 1.50, 2 and 1.50. Total = 5 runs (7.75 miles)

Attend five concert sets of five songs or more – Stay tuned for a full report on the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Total = 25 concert sets

Play in five sports games/matches (softball and volleyball) – I played in three volleyball matches and three softball games. Total = 6 matches/games

Watch five movies (In honor of Roger Ebert) – I watched Red Dawn (2012), Swing Time, Girl Rising, Life of Pi and The Dark Knight Rises. Total = 5 movies

Unlock five new Foursquare badges – I unlocked the Fixer Upper, Schmear, AT&T Final Four Fanatic 2013, 4sqDay 2013 and Coachella 2013 badges. Total = 5 badges

Five new beers – I started using the app UNTAPPD to track beers I’ve tried. Total = 15 new beers

peace and merriment and to all a good night

Five for April

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