Tag Archives: blogs

Would You Make A Stupid Corporate Move Like This One?

Well that’s dumb: This is a true story, although I changed the names.

Jack does sales and marketing for Acme Widgets. Acme’s a big company. Jack’s been there for years, he has clout, but he’s not a VP. He likes the product and lots of people in the channels, some of the people he works with. mistakes

Until recently he ran a blog about widgets and how to use them. He did it on his own time, under his own name, but his content focused on Acme products, how to use them, how to sell them, etc. He included tips, case studies, and related news, and all positive and upbeat.

No longer. Acme told him to stop it. They had him take off the logos and any indications that his blog might have been officially sponsored.

I think that’s a dumb move. I’m guessing they’re worried about controlling the brand, or maybe about somebody having a piece of the brand outside of the legal control. Maybe some higher-ups are nervous, maybe even jealous, or worried about who gets what credit. And maybe I’m wrong on this point. I have no idea what the corporate explanation was. I just saw the formal announcement.

I think it’s a great example of people wanting control instead of leadership.

I think they should have given him a bonus and a budget to work with, maybe at the same time establishing guidelines to keep the corporate branding people happy.

Is it really just big-company behavior? Be honest: would you do that in your business? You think not, but I posted here years ago where one small business was uncomfortable with an employee who was taking “too much ownership.” It happens.

(Image: bigstockphoto.com)

Damned Commercial Crap Threatens Social Media

The stupid comments that are just thinly-veiled ads, disguised as blog comments … the twitter traffic that’s just “buy me buy me” … like the spam that threatens to drown email altogether, it’s not just annoying. It’s destructive. It’s a damned shame.

Yesterday the comment here below was submitted …


… as an addition to my post Revising the Root Canal Theory of Business Planning here, on this blog, last August. As you knew instantly (you being a human, who actually reads), that post is entirely about business planning, not at all about teeth or dentistry. The root canal is a metaphor.

While I love your comments on my blog – I encourage them, respond to them, thank you for them – I hate the increasingly common attempts to circumvent the so-called social media conversation with hidden agendas. Stupid fake comments. And that includes all those stupid generic-fake-praise comments plastered all over blogs for obvious self-serving SEO purposes. Scripts and bots, set loose, in this case crawling around the Web looking for “root canal” in posts, placing the commercial crap there. Pollution on purpose.

As far as I can tell, almost all blogs that allow comments have to be moderated these days because of all this commercial crap, essentially fake comments, advertisements masquerading as conversation. No wonder some of the highest-traffic blogs, like Seth Godin’s blog, don’t allow comments. This is what I was referring to earlier this month when I posted the problem with crowd sourcing is crowds.

Selfish, mean people have almost killed email with their sociopathic behavior. Now they’re after blogging and Twitter. A curse on all of their houses. Dammit.

Maybe Writing Isn’t So Obsolete After All

Just a few years ago I was mourning the loss of the printed word in our media-hungry and web-hungry society. Even people I really respect, although most of them much younger than I, were starting to show cavalier disregard for the English language. I’d grimace while reading something that mistook then for than, or they’re for their, or misspelled lots of simple words. The response would be rolled eyes, like…

Maria Skaldina/Shutterstock

why do you care? You can read it. You can see what it says.

It makes me feel like the archetypical grumpy old man.

Meanwhile, television news has taken over from print news. Newspapers are dying. And books?  Doomed. I picked this up in a 2007 New Yorker piece called Twilight of Books:

In 1982, 56.9 per cent of Americans had read a work of creative literature in the previous twelve months. The proportion fell to fifty-four per cent in 1992, and to 46.7 per cent in 2002. Last month, the N.E.A. released a follow-up report, “To Read or Not to Read,” which showed correlations between the decline of reading and social phenomena as diverse as income disparity, exercise, and voting. In his introduction, the N.E.A. chairman, Dana Gioia, wrote, “Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement.”

But then — about 2007 for me, late, I know, compared to the web literate elites — I caught on to blogs. And discovered where writing had gone to; and where people cared about writing. Writing and reading are alive and well, it turns out, but they’ve migrated to some extent. The Huffington Post, the world’s leading blog, gets something upwards of 20 million unique visitors per month.  Blog after blog is about writing: writing well, writing better. I just looked: more than 10,000 hits on Google for the search term “writing blog headlines.” And I keep stumbling on blogs that are exhilaratingly well written. Look at Ann Handley’s Annarchy, for example (for a good sample, read Refugee at Home). Or Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist (sample this post for good writing, but you should know first that, like a lot of good writing, it’s dark.). And I read business and entrepreneurship blogs that are not just good content, but extremely well written. Seth Godin delivers a short beautifully written post almost every day.

Lately there’s twitter, limiting the writing to 140 characters, putting a whole new twist on writing. There’s so many examples of good writing in 140 characters that it’s like searching for needles in a pile of needles. Do this twitter search for haiku to see what I mean. And then I just browsed the tweets of the people above, and came up with this one, by Penelope Trunk. I didn’t have to search for a good one, this was simply her latest as I wrote this post:

I forget to tell the waiter to hold the bacon bits. Then I go wild: I decide a Jewish woman who dates a pig farmer can take a taste of pork.

That’s good writing. And there’s so much of it out there. I’m feeling way better about the future or writing after all.

(Photo credit: Maria Skaldina/Shutterstock)

Boomer Business Blogger Part 4: You Have to Like Writing

True confession: I love writing. I love short sentences, strong words, making myself understood.

I think most, if not all, good bloggers like writing. Video people do vlogs and YouTube, poets go to Twitter (say, what?), but bloggers are writers. Almost all of my favorite blogs — I’ve got the blogroll on this blog, rightmost column, near the bottom — are written by people who care about writing. Not that they don’t care just as much about business, their main content area; but they’re writers.

Yes, I’ve done all the startups in my bio; yes, I have the MBA degree; and yes, I built Palo Alto Software. But if I could have made a decent living just writing, I would have.

Flashback: 1970, I was 22, wanted to write, studied literature. I was in a PhD program in comparative literature, briefly; ended up with MA in Journalism. UPI, McGraw-Hill, Mexico City, and whoosh, the 1970s all gone.

Flashback: 1979, journalist, bored filling space between ads, enrolled in Stanford University business school. Then I fell in love with business planning, helped to start Borland International, founded Palo Alto Software, founded bplans.com. And grew it, slowly for years, no outside investment. Tough times, good times.

And suddenly it was 2007, 40+ employees and a great management team, me struggling with changed technology, and I changed jobs. And started blogging. That change was Part 1 of this series.

So what helps me a lot is that I like writing. As a journalist I wrote a lot for many different publications. I also wrote published fiction (not very good, by the way, not worth citing, but they paid me) (and I’m not including market research that was wrong, either) and a full-length novel that got some second looks, but never got published.

So now, you can see how much blogging I do by looking at the sidebar here on the right. You can’t see that I’m also writing a lot on a family site, a personal site, and even an anonymous pure writing site.

If you’re going to be blogging a lot, you have to like writing.

Boomer Business Blogger Part 3: Is It Good Business?

A nice person almost apologized to me for not having her business on Facebook. I said: “but why?”

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest of that “social media stuff” may or may not be good business. But not just for its own sake. It has to be part of a strategy.

Otherwise, it may or may not be fun, depending on who you are and what you like to do; but it’s not good business without a related plan for how it’s supposed to help. Does it generate leads? Page views? Validation? Or is it just a rationalization for spending time doing something you like, like keeping up with friends, being clever.

My blogging has a business strategy. I don’t sell anything, but I do talk about business planning and business management. It relates to my books, my software authorship, and the company I founded. It generates page views in the Bplans.com domain. It validates.

So it’s fun, but it’s good business too. In this case, at least. It relates directly to validation of product, to page views, and to marketing objectives.

What is it for you? What’s the business objective? How to you measure achievement of that objective? Do you have metrics to review? Do you remember to review them?

Boomer Business Blogger Part 2: It’s A Full-time Job

Benjamin Floyd of Read Click Done asked me after yesterday’s post: “how do you do it?” Two books, 1400 or so posts, 1300 or so tweets in the last two years. “Where do you find the time.”

Fair question. Reminds me of Bob Sutton’s Really, I Write it Myself. So do I. Bob thanks his editors, and so do I. But yeah, I write it all myself. (Well, there was that one guest post on angel funding, but it was the only exception.)

It’s a full-time job

To all the real business people feeling insufficient because experts say they’re supposed to be doing all this as a sideline, I say: relax. That’s a myth. A post now and then and some tweets here and there, maybe; but this blogging I do is a full-time job.

I go to the office every day, and I’m there all day except meetings (and traveling, and teaching, and speaking gigs, and angel investment, but that detracts from my point, so forget I said it).

I’m often writing at night too. And on weekends.

I also use scheduling. For example, I’m on vacation with family today, so I wrote this last Saturday, to be posted today.

Repeat: it’s a full-time job. It doesn’t just happen.

It’s no coincidence that my new life blogging and writing and speaking and teaching, and tweeting too for the last few months, was a delightful baby-boomer late 50s career change. While I’m still employed full time by Palo Alto Software, the company I founded, I don’t run it. Nobody reports to me. As I said in yesterday’s part 1, my business card says “President” but it should say Chief Blogging Officer.