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Just Like Breathing?

What is so natural to you that it is like breathing? What aspect of yourself, which behavior, skill, activity, talent, is so part of you that you could not imagine yourself without it?

Answer this question and you could make yourself so much happier and successful, ignore it and you could be making yourself and those around you miserable.

This is something I have been pondering since my recent trip to SOBCon. Something strange happens when Terry Starbucker and I get together. It seems we have an unwritten rule that all our conversations must in some way fix the world. This was one of our many short but deep conversations.

Why is this question important to you and your productivity (maybe, life)?

Find Your Purpose, Discover Your Joy

In striving to succeed, day to day or for long term goals, we overlook what comes naturally to us. It’s easy to dismiss what we find easy, natural and fun. Many of us are raised to believe that work should be hard.

“No pain, no gain”.

Sorry, but that is rubbish.

There is no rule that we should suffer. No law that you can only spend your days waiting for a whistle to blow at 5.30pm.

Do What Comes Natural

If you look around, you will find the people who are most happy in their work and lives are the people who are in flow. They do what comes naturally. You might say they have a “gift”, or you might just think they are happy that their work is what they love to do. Or perhaps they don’t work, and they spend their leisure time doing whatever brings them the most joy?

My Mum is a natural at nurturing people. She nurtures regardless, whether people want nurturing or not. So she has spent most of her working life looking after people, from special needs schools to residential homes for people with learning difficulties. The times when she has deviated from being in a caring role she has been miserable.

Nobody that knows my mother would ever think of her not trying to help, comfort, or simply feed someone. It’s in her nature that if there is not someone around who needs some care she will go looking. That’s what she does.

Now we should not be tricked into thinking that people are given one role in life and that is what they have to stick to.

My Dad has had three careers, and excelled at all of them. His first career as a printer he did to please his own father. What seemed to suit him best though was when he was rescuing folks from fires and mangled cars.

Knowing he was constantly putting himself at risk scarred us all witless. I still can’t understand what malfunctions in a persons brain that allows them to run into danger when everyone else is screaming away in the other direction, but we are all proud of him that he did it, and did so well at it.

My brother stuck to an office job for a long time until one day he couldn’t take any more. Next thing we knew he had moved down to London and enrolled at a guitar institute. Rocking out in front of huge crowds of adoring, sweaty music fans is what brings him joy, and he is visibly more at home now than he ever was.

All of them do, or did, what came naturally to their personalities. They didn’t just get handed their dream role of course, and it took my Dad thirty some years to find his purpose. The point is there is something you are meant to be involved in that just fits.

Finding What You Were Meant to Do

  • What brings you joy?
  • Can you identify something in your personality that is “so you”?
  • Are there things you find yourself doing almost subconsciously?

These are potential candidates. You might not see the traits as fundamental, or obviously lead to a career or income, but they will hint at what you are meant to be doing.

Liz Strauss is a natural connector. She connects people and it just happens when she is around. For Liz it is not “doing”, it is “being”. Through her career I am sure whatever her role on paper, I bet she has been connecting people. Of course she would create something like SOBCon.

For many of us, I think deep down we know what we are meant to be doing. We just fight it or fear making the changes necessary to go with it. My brother spent many years in a job just paying the bills. He was in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. He was good at his job and conscientious, but it was hardly his ambition.When he is on stage rocking out his guitar he comes alive.

Others, like myself, find it a little harder to discover what we are meant to do.

Until I left school I had planned to be some sort of cartoonist or illustrator. I quickly realized though that while I liked to doodle, I didn’t like it enough to put in the hard graft to be good enough to earn a decent living. At the same time I had decided I could not afford to go to University either. I was “good with computers” and decided to do that.

What you are good at is not necessarily what you are meant to be doing. I learned that the hard way.

In fact, in a way, I discovered something I found really really difficult was what I was meant to do. Perhaps, like me, you will work out what you were meant to do by process of elimination?

For the first half of my life I was painfully shy. To fix this I took a teaching course. While the course did not actually tell us how to teach, it did force us to speak to groups. For me this was like an arachnophobic type person going to the zoo to hold a tarantula, I am still shy but not half as bad as I was. The best part was it seemed to enable some kind of dormant circuit in me. I teach, that is what I do.

Standing in front of groups at talking to them is now something I do with alarming regularity, and I find it intimidating and nerve wracking. Considering my deep seated terror might suggest that I have this teaching stuff wrong, but actually that is just one type of teaching you are seeing. In fact through my blog, social media, articles, books and in person, I am teaching all the time. That is what comes naturally to me and what is like breathing. So obvious I miss it. I learn, process, and teach it back.

Remember I enjoyed doodling? I get to use that part of myself in my teaching, either directly with whiteboard doodles, or indirectly by adding cartoons or creative layouts to my articles and materials.

When I write I can get into the flow. Time seems to distort, my brain turns to sweet mush, and the words just arrive on screen. Programming was never like that for me, I am a darned good programmer, but it was always an effort that would give me brain ache.

That’s the key, it’s not just what you are good at, or what people expect of you – what do you do automatically, easily, and would do regardless?

There are so many opportunities now to utilize your whole self, you do not need to overhaul your life if you don’t want to. People outlet their creative side by blogging, tweeting, photography and, a recent discovery for me, scrapbooking. You can even earn good money if that is important.

Once you know what your nature is then you can choose how you express it. The most important thing is to delve into the deepest folds of your brain and work out how you were programmed, what kind of mission were your circuits built to do? :)

Important Note: Talking about teaching, Mike has asked me to remind you that if you were interested in the Social Media Success Summit that the early bird discount ends Thursday so you had better get in now if you want to save …

Thursday is the last day to secure your seat at Social Media Success Summit 2009 at the early bird discount rate (a $200 savings, 40% off the regular price!). This is THE online event for businesses (big and small) that want to grow using tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Grab your seat at this online event before they’re all gone.

Go here now!

How to Really Use Social Media Marketing as a Tool For Business

Social Media Marketing is a compelling tool for business because of the dual benefits of Huge traffic potential Free (just need to spend time) This is drawing in more and more businesses who want to extract these benefits and learn the best practices. Unfortunately we are also seeing an influx of the less open and […]

How to Grow Your Google Authority

What is the real route to better Google rankings? Many new Internet marketers obsess over Google pagerank believing it to be the route to rising in the search results, where in fact pagerank is just one of many factors involved in your search engine ranking and, most misleading, what you see in the Google Toolbar […]

Social Media Marketing Survey Results – Free PDF

Social Media Marketing on your to-do list? If so, you will want to read this report! If you think there is no ROI to Social Media, or that it is just for kids, check these snippets out: 78.1% were aged 30-59, median age? 40-49 Around half of marketers found social media generated qualified leads A […]

Want to Grow Your Blog Traffic and Audience?

Do you want to grow your blog traffic and audience? If so I have a deal for you … You might have seen I have been planning a webinar in aid of my favorite charity. Details here and more here. In a nutshell, the idea was to put on a webinar stuffed with valuable information, […]

The Art of Getting Things Wrong

I love to get feedback in everything I do and I do get a lot of feedback. People tell me when my spelling is off, my grammar is wrong, if my pictures are bad, when my layout breaks in their browser, or if for some bizarre reason they disagree with me!

Sometimes people are even kind enough to be polite and offer suggestions for how to fix things, rather than just tell me all the bad things I am and where I can shove my blog.

Fear of feedback is just one of many reasons why we can all aim for perfection to the point where we don’t get anything meaningful done. In fact the majority of people are kind and open to ideas, and are willing to overlook issues with presentation if the content resonates with them.

With this in mind I present to you my first video about how imperfection should not hold you back and in fact can be a good thing.

Well, I say first, in fact it was the culmination of much swearing and throwing things, hence the worried look on my dogs face.

As always, feedback in the comments is very welcome :)

Which of These Topics Would You Attend a Webinar On?

If you recall I had an idea to do a webinar in aid of one of my favorite charities. To gauge interest I did a survey asking what you would want the survey to be about. Here are all the results.

Any interest?

Any interest?

First up I asked if it was worth organizing. It seems most people are interested, depending on the topic.

With that in mind there were tons of topics suggested, below I have listed the most popular. Please vote for the topic you would most like to attend. If you are reading this in your feed reader or email you will need to click through to vote.

Which of These Topics Would You Attend a Webinar On?

[Please Choose a Charity Webinar Topic – click through to vote]

I have to thank Rob Anderson from Accuconference who has been a great help in allowing me to use their service for this, and Cindy King and Denise Wakeman who have offered tips on how to organize it.

About the Charity

What is all this about? Well, I am trying to raise £10,000 for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.

While I have been resisting saying too much about why I chose this particular charity, I have been told it is unfair of me to ask for money without giving at least a little background, so here it is.

You might or might not have noticed I went quiet for a while here and on Twitter. That is because my daughter went in to hospital for heart surgery. She had been on a waiting list since early last year and when the call came we had to drop everything. While we were there we experienced first hand what this charity does for patients and families.

My daughters operation looks to have been a great success, and for that we are grateful. That said there are many more kids going through this right now or will be coming through in the future.

While the doctors and nurses are brilliant and fully funded (it doesn’t matter if you have private health, it is the same team, same facilities), anything beyond the absolute basics comes from donations. As you can imagine it is a traumatic time for all concerned so anything that can be done to ease things is well worth supporting, and many families need ongoing support.

So there you have it, a bit of background. Of course I am going to try to help them in other ways, but this webinar idea seems to be a way to help the charity by getting some international donations and also pass on some good, valuable blogging and social media material at the same time :)

Over to You

Please take a moment to select the topic you would most like to attend or have a recording of – please click through and vote now

How a Blog Can Grow Your Business – Slides + PDF

Business Blogging is fast becoming a vital part of any online strategy. The old days of “blogging puritanism” where bloggers were not supposed to make money have given way to individuals, companies and non-profits all hoping to use blogs and social media to grow and engage their audience.

I just got back from Social Media Congres in the Netherlands where I presented on this subject, and I think the subject is so valuable it needed to be shared with you, your friends and colleagues. So hit up the slides on slideshare or download as a PDF.

Business Blogging Slides at Slideshare

Business Blogging Slides at Slideshare

Of course, as always, if you have questions or thoughts feel free to share in the comments.

Please help me with a charity webinar idea?

I have set myself a goal of raising £10,000 for a children’s heart surgery charity. So far through asking on Twitter there has been raised around £700, so clearly I need to put in some extra effort if I am going to achieve this goal :)

Through discussions with friends on the Authority Blogger Forum and Twitter we had the idea to hold a webinar or teleseminar, with a small ticket price of, say £1/$1.50 or so, and all the proceeds going to the charity.

After sounding out a few folks on Twitter to see if there would be any interest, I contacted Rob Anderson from Accuconference who generously gave me the go ahead.

So now it is over to you.

Would you be interested, and if so, what would you most want me to do a webinar about?

Please fill in these couple of survey questions and let me know!

Are You Ready for Social Media?

The online marketing world moves in waves, with the majority of businesses following a trend not because it is fashionable but out of commercial necessity.

  • Going online, just to be online.
  • SEO was king for many years.
  • Then it was Adwords.
  • Blogging came next.
  • Now it is Social Media that is gaining all the attention.

In the past competitiveness and innovation played the largest part, but I have no doubt worries about the global economy are driving the most recent moves.

Although Social Media has been growing steadily for a few years, it seems now most businesses are looking towards these tools and services to find a good ROI alternative to their offline marketing, without the heavy prices that Adwords require in many niches.

Is Social Media the solution that you are looking for?

Why Social Media?

There are many advantages to social media over and above just “Traffic”:

  • Modern version of traditional PR.
  • Speed up your reaction times.
  • Super-efficient word of mouth marketing.
  • World wide focus group.
  • Instant answers to business or technical questions.
  • Brand awareness.
  • Be on top of market news and moves.
  • Grow your network.

There are also valuable indirect benefits. Attention creates the opportunity for links and traffic, which drives search rankings, which in turn will attract people who want what you offer. Buzz does not need to be the end you strive for, but can also be a means to an end.

But there are also pitfalls:

  • Social Media can spread bad news too.
  • Pitch and promote approach will meet with resistance. Traffic to direct offers seldom convert well, you need to find a new way to bring attention to your products and services.
  • The chit-chat aspect can be addictive. Use Twitter best practices.
  • This stuff takes time and experimentation.

What to Do?

We are still at the beginning with these tools, there are no rules. The best social media strategies for each type of organization or individual are still being developed. There are though guidelines that you can use to make sure you get the most out of all this social media stuff:

  1. Have a purpose, direct your efforts. Unguided meandering will just cause you to get bogged down.
  2. Give before expecting anything in return. The most generous, genuine and valuable are those who’s ideas spread best.
  3. Monitor your reputation. Use tools like TweetDeck, Google Alerts and Twitter Searches to see who is talking about your brand keywords and why. Respond appropriately.
  4. Measure your ROI and do more of what works.
  5. Experiment. Keep learning from case studies and good examples.

As always, I recommend you link all your social media activity back to your blog or website. Bring people back home, and give them good reasons to stick around. Build up your own base of loyal and egaged advocates.

Whatever you do, do not abandon what has been working for you and is still providing returns. Find ways to integrate the new stuff rather than throw out good tactics just because the new stuff is, well, new.

  • Create valuable content and optimize for search engines.
  • Engage your subscribers and customers.
  • Grow your links and referrals.
  • Build your lists.


Mike Stelzner is running a Social Media Survey and I am really looking forward to the results. If you take part you can get the results too. Take the survey here.