Self Promotion

Megaphone ManSelf promotion. We all have to do it whether we realize it or not. At work, in business, as a self-published author, you have to demonstrate your worth, give others a compelling reason to hire you, engage you, click your link, read your blog, or buy your book.

On that topic, I went to Word Up, a community book store in Washington Heights, NY yesterday, to see if they would carry my book. While I was filling out the paperwork the woman behind the counter commented to her friend, a photographer and artist, that she wished she was better at self-promotion.

“Me too,” he agreed.

“It’s hard,” I said.

“Yeah but you’re doing it. You’re here.”

But it’s still hard. Since I like to use a hiking analogy in regard to life, I’ll use one here. Spreading the word about my book (a more acceptable way of saying self-promotion?) takes a lot out of me, like a long hike I’m growing weary, getting weak. Instead of physical pain, I feel it in my core. My energy level is severely diminished, my enthusiasm fading quickly.

Like a hiker trying to reach their destination, I continue one step at a time. I have asked what next and I know that success requires determination and most importantly perseverance.

If there is something you want badly enough you have to keep going. You have to find the strength to go one more mile, climb one more hill, and descend into one more valley. You welcome any help you can get but you’re also willing to do it alone if need be.

The bookstore took five copies. I don’t know if any of them will sell but that’s one more item checked off my list, one more accomplishment on a hike through self-promotion. It isn’t until you’ve endured the difficult times, hiked more miles than you thought possible, that you realize how strong you really are.

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Recognizing Opportunity and Taking It

Last night was a text book case of recognizing opportunity, connecting the dots, being curious, proactive and getting lucky.

Two weeks ago a speaker at a writer’s conference I was attending mentioned a website called He said it was a site for entrepreneurs  to learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs. I wrote it down intending to look it up right away. Well, I got busy with my other responsibilities and didn’t go on the site until Wednesday. That was the lucky part.

Posted on the site was a short item that read “Hey NY want to join me for a drink?” The founder of the site, Andrew Warner, was inviting a potentially huge number of people, he has over 28,000 twitter followers and his site is ranked 3,336 in the US, that’s huge.

All I had to do was enter my email address and he would send me the location. The only requirement was to not reveal the location by tweeting it or posting on Facebook.

Here’s how the dots connect so far. My curiosity is why I was interested in the site in the first place. The luck part comes in when I checked the website on the right day.  My sense of adventure led me to enter my email to find out the location. Being proactive is the reason I went.

Here’s a video I made on my way there.

Though he said he was keeping it small, there was a large number of people, and networking meant being comfortable enough to insert yourself into a conversation that was already in progress. You had to be aggressive without being rude or obtrusive. Everyone understood because they were in the same situation.

On the successful side I met the founder of who,while still in the early stages, has been through the first round of venture capital financing. I also met Erik Rokeach founder of The site is similar to Mixergy in that Erik interviews fitness experts, rather than tech companies, from a business perspective.

I also met people who want to be entrepreneurs, want to start their own business, but aren’t sure how to start. Ethan was being proactive by going here. Being out of work Ethan wants to take charge of his life and start a business. A soft spoken guy, he told me the best story that illustrates the importance of taking a chance on events like this.

Ethan said the he took his son to the park the other day and was encouraging him to talk to the other kids, to make friends. “I figured if I was telling him to do that,” Ethan told me, “I should be willing to do the same thing. That’s why I came here tonight.”

So the question I have for you is are you going to make friends on the playground of life or are you going to be a spectator? The decision is yours.

Here’s the video I recorded after the event.

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Groundhog Day

To me this isn’t about the animal, the winter, or when spring will arrive. For me Groundhog Day is about the movie with Bill Murray. The message of the movie is that you can make anything of your life, it’s up to you whether it’s a life you’re proud of or not.

In What Next I write “To me it seems that asking ‘what next’ is really the search for mental and physical stimulation, the search for happiness. Asking ‘what next’ is a way to break the ‘groundhog day syndrome’ so many of us feel.” Too many people use words or phrases like “drudgery,” “same old same old,” or “not much,” to describe their life and what they’re doing on a daily basis. Not me.

Every day is another chance to meet new people, to connect with others on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, to learn from people who have done the things I want to do. Whether I take the chance or run and hide like the groundhog after seeing its shadow, is up to me.

Tonight I’m once again putting myself in what many people would describe as an awkward situation. I’m going to a restaurant/bar in NY to meet a highly successful entrepreneur who, until yesterday, I had never heard of. Why am I doing that? Because that’s what people who ask “what next” do, they seek out people more successful than them, people they can learn from, and they go for it.

I’m sure it’s going to be a little weird at first but what do I have to loose? That’s the attitude more people should have.

Check back tomorrow for an update on how it went tonight.

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I am so confused! Not in the “I don’t know what’s going on way” but in the “how do I stop myself” kind of way. Do I do this or that, or maybe the other thing or perhaps that.

It doesn’t matter what those things are, I’m just bursting with energy (and curiosity) and have no outlet for it. Between work (which always seems to get in the way of fun) and sleep (why do you need so much sleep) I can’t figure out how to do everything I want to do. If I made “to do” lists they would be very long as I add new things to the items I never got around to.

Apparently I’m not alone in this. I can count Leonardo da Vinci as a fellow wanderer, someone who lets his mind drift. How do I know this? This post by Robert Krulwich tells of a soon to be released book in which the author, historian Toby Lester, found a to do list in a notebook kept by Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci himself wrote, “it is useful to constantly observe, note, and consider.” That’s curiosity with a little action (considering) thrown in.

The items on da Vinci’s list don’t just state what he wants to do, they are proactive. He wants to learn about proportion but his list doesn’t say “learn about proportion,” it says “get Messea Fazio to show you about proportion.” Who is this Fazio guy? A professor of medicine and law in Pavia. Da Vinci wasn’t just curious, he took action and sought out experts to satisfy that curiosity. Lots of names are mentioned with action words like “ask,” “get,” and “find” describing how he would go about the task.

Robert writes, “What a jumble! Cannons, wall construction, studying the sun, ice skating in Flanders, optics, and that oh-so-casual, ‘Draw Milan.’ It’s like his mind could wander off in any direction at any time. How did he concentrate? How did he focus?” Robert goes on to point out that creativity and curiosity are closely related by referencing a study that showed ADHD children scored higher on a creative achievement questionnaire than did “normal” kids. The ADHD kids were also more likely to win accolades such as an art prize or science prize for their efforts.

“Minds that break free, that are compelled to wander, can sometimes achieve more than those of us who are more inhibited,” Robert writes and I agree.

When my curiosity gets the best of me and I become distracted I won’t be too upset, I’ll just think What Would Leonardo Do?

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