Tag Archives: Matthew Scott

10 Blogging Tips. My 1,000th Post on This Blog

Last night I was halfway through a draft post patting myself on the back, illustrated with champagne glasses, when my youngest daughter, Megan, called from San Francisco, where she lives now. That’s @MeganBerry to you, blogger and social media expert,  marketing manager of Klout.com. So I asked her this: “What do I do with my 1,000th post?”

stacked stones“Do something that matters,” Megan answered. “Do something special.”  She talked about favorites, lessons, advice, and reflections.

So, about 12 hours later, this is it, number 1,000. Gulp.

I started in 2006, but did only a dozen posts in the first year. I really started in April 2007, with reflections on family business, a personal note about passing the torch to a second generation. I changed jobs then – my choice – from owner-entrepreneur-president to blogger president of Palo Alto Software.

My personal favorite posts are on the sidebar here to the right. My favorite search is the one for fundamentals, particularly the series of 5 posts on planning fundamentals. My favorite categories come straight from the blog title: planning, startups, and stories: that’s specifically the categories planning fundamentals, true stories, and starting a business. And I also really like advice, reflections, and business mistakes. But I like most of my posts here. You kind of have to, to keep doing it.

Here are 10 blogging lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Imitation isn’t just flattery, it’s learning. When I said I wasn’t a blogger, Sabrina Parsons said “you will be. Just start reading blogs.” So I did. And I imitate a lot of other bloggers I like to read. So many that I can’t name them all here; but my thanks to Guy, John, Pam, Anita, Ann, Steve, Seth, Matthew, Ramon, and so many others. Every blog on my blogroll here to the right.
  2. Titles make a huge difference. That’s not just blogging. It’s been true for a long time. My son Paul, CTO at Huffington Post, teamed up with his younger sister Megan to teach me titles. And Ironically, what they taught me was a lot of what I learned at UPI plus the power of questions, and lists of 5 and 10.
  3. Short and simple: short sentences, short posts. Short thoughts? I like one-word sentences, and one-sentence paragraphs. And short posts, in theory: despite how much I admire Seth Godin’s short posts, I try, and usually fail.   
  4. Break grammar rules. Carefully. Rarely. Like right here. There’s no verb in either of the previous two sentences, so this post would have gotten me an F in Brother Salvatore’s 12th grade English class. 30-some years later, I’m glad he gave me that F on a 10-page paper for using “it’s” instead of “its” once. That lesson was worth it. But jeez!
  5. Pictures add meaning. Thanks to John Jantsch for that one. And to Shutterstock for supplying me with the bulk of the pictures I’ve used on this blog for the last year. And don’t ask me to explain the illustration on this one. I didn’t want champagne glasses or cakes and candles.
  6. Write Often, and keep writing. Find your pace. Honor consistency. Once a month doesn’t feel like a blog, but three good posts weekly is better than two good and three not so good. Break your routine occasionally for mental health. I write a lot and like it.  I’ve done 1,000 posts here in three years. Plus 700 on Up and Running, and another 200 or so on Small Business Trends, Huffington Post, Amex Open, Industry Word, and Planning Demystified. Plus some guest posts on others. It’s easier to maintain momentum than overcome inertia.
  7. Love the comments. Thank you. Not you spammers. But even you critics with annoying comments. Especially you critics with smart well written disagreements. Not the dumb generic praise intended only for your own SEO benefit, which I delete.  But I love the comments, they make it live.
  8. Love Twitter. Twitter has done wonders for my blogging, my daily work flow, and my growing satisfaction with web 2.0 or social media or whatever you call it. If you don’t get twitter, it’s not clutter, it’s not what they had for lunch, it’s blog posts and links and what’s going on in the world, as shared by people you like, now. My 18-point Twitter Primer feels as valid today as when I posted it.
  9. Tell the damn truth. You can’t fake it for long. Keeping track of all your various personae is exhausting. Write as yourself, or maybe (just maybe) who you really want to be. I know this is a lame old quote, but I heard it first from Chris Guilleabeau and I like it: “I have to be myself. All the other people are already taken.”
  10. Tell don’t sell. Lots of us blog for business. Much as I sincerely love the books and software I’ve done, I don’t blog about them here. Sure, the sidebar sells, I hope, but my posts don’t. 

Here’s advice, in honor of this being post number 1,000:

  1. Anything anybody can believe is an image of truth (paraphrasing William Blake).
  2. Time is the scarcest resource. Time, not money.
  3. Your relationships with the people you love are WAY more important than proving that you were right.

Dear reader: thank you. 

(image credit: Arsgera/Shutterstock)

A Drop of Credibility in an Ocean of Experts

In an ideal world, saying no to one thing makes you more credible when you say yes to another. Telling a caller the truth about what your product doesn’t do makes them more likely to call back when they need what it does do. Turning down one kind of consulting job because you’re not expert enough makes you that much more credible when you call yourself an expert in something else later on.

I’ve really enjoyed the power of no in the past. No, our software doesn’t do that, it does this instead. And no, that’s not the kind of consulting I do. It’s a good feeling to say no during a sales call.

The world we live in, however, is not that ideal world. A lot of those customers don’t come back for what you really can say yes to.  A lot of them go somewhere else, settle for something else, and their itch is scratched, and they’re done.

I’ve never forgotten the hard lesson I learned in 1985 when I turned down an invitation to speak at COMDEX, the then-big PC industry show in Las Vegas, on PC industry trends. I’d been an industry trends follower previously, but had been concentrating on business planning for a couple of years. I attended the show for a client, looking at trends for their business plan, and attended the workshop I would have given. To my dismay, the guy who did it presented nothing more than what anybody could read in the trade magazines the week before. And to my further dismay, the audience seemed to like it. My turning down this opportunity was my paying homage to a standard of professionalism that apparently no longer existed. And nobody cared.

Last week Matthew Scott (MatthewRayScott on Twitter) sent me back to that memory with his very interesting eight-minute reflection on expertise, on his blog The Strategic Incubator. He called it Social Media Experts + Irrelevance

His eight-minute audio post is about turning down what would have been a $21,000 engagement conducting workshops on Twitter and Facebook about marketing because he didn’t consider himself “expert” enough. And then discovering that the person who ended up doing it was probably way less knowledgeable than he is. And younger, with no visible track record in marketing, and not nearly as visible in Twitter.

Matthew, on the other hand, is a successful marketing/strategy coach who’s really good at Twitter (in my opinion). He should publish a collection of his “note to self” tweets as a book. He’s also a veteran of actual management in big companies, and a former military officer, a good writer, and a good thinker. And I don’t think he should have turned down that job, because, well, if he isn’t an expert, then I don’t know who is.

But in his thoughtful podcast on the subject, Matthew says:

“I had to turn it down because I’m not an expert. … and how the heck is this person going to stand up and deliver a message in which they have credibility?”

He ends up dismissing his own question, as:

“Irrelevant. The conference invited them. The conference gave them credibility.”

And that’s the problem – who is an expert? Who gets to be the expert in these things? Is there an age requirement? Success requirement? Some minimum number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or blog subscribers? Last month I posted this post tracking a blogger who complained about social media experts without sales or new product launch experience, and then this one suggesting that expertise comes from more than specific middle management experience. I think these are real issues, without good answers.   

What we’re calling social media is a new phenomenon. It’s very hard to measure expertise. I have to admit that I’m very impressed with blog subscriber numbers, less so with large numbers of Twitter followers, but at least that’s a metric. And they don’t publish revenue stats like they do the winnings of pro golfers or tennis players. And Twitter, particularly, is a virtual ocean of people who are putting expert beside their names and are getting by with it.

Too bad Matthew, you should have taken the money. The conference and its audience would have been better off.

(Photo credit: Levent Konuk/Shutterstock)

What Do Teachers Make

You and I and a lot of students, parents, and teachers ought to thank my friend Matthew Scott for posting this on his Strategic Incubator blog. Do yourself and your kids and their teachers a favor, take five minutes, and look/listen to a great presentation. Matthew was making the point that all businesses are sometimes about presentations, and that’s true, and this is a good example. But it’s good for a lot of other reasons too.

If you don’t see it here, then you and I have some video formatting problem. You can click here to go to it on Matthew’s blog or here to go to the original on SlideShare.