Categories
Grow Professional

I’ll Take West Virginia, Please

When I stepped to the front of the classroom, Mrs. Bowen already had the big, gray behemoth powered up.

I carefully positioned volume W of the World Book Encyclopedia into the image capture area and a state map appeared on the grayish white screen pulled down over a section of drab green chalkboard.

I gently lowered the arm toward the 45 until the needle rested on the spinning black vinyl.

A few crackles of static. Then the plunking strings of an acoustic guitar rippled across the classroom on College Avenue in Russellville.

“Almost heaven, West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.”

That was John Denver singing, it was 1971, and I was 8 years old.

That’s how I began my first public multimedia presentation.

We had been given the assignment of doing a report on one of the 50 states. I picked West Virginia, not because I’d ever been there or had any particular connection to the “Mountain State.”

I just wanted to do my report on West Virginia so I could use the John Denver song, “County Roads.”

John Denver was one of my favorite singers at the time and I had the record. I envisioned using his music and lyrics to make my report on West Virginia more than just a boring recitation of facts about a state.

No one told me to include music in my presentation. I just instinctively felt like the music would help.

[Note: I wrote this back in 2013-2014 when I was doing my professional self-reflection work and then forgot what I named the document file on my computer. I just stumbled across it and decided to go ahead and publish.]

The Opaque Projector

As for the big behemoth projector thing, I’m not sure if other students used it. I seem to recall specifically asking my teacher to set it up for me.

Mrs. Bowen had used this big machine on various occasions to display images on the screen directly from books. Other teachers had used film projectors, film strips and transparencies, maybe even slide projectors.

Mrs. Bowen is the only teacher I remember using that big hulking gray machine that captured images on pages from books and projected them directly onto the screen. I suspect it was a big hassle to move around and set up.

I think it was known as an “opaque projector.”

I needed that machine for my presentation because I wanted to show the photos of West Virginia I found in books and the idea of putting photos on the screen seemed, to me, better than simply holding up photos, putting them on a poster or passing a book around the classroom. I didn't have slides or transparencies so that wasn't a choice.

I knew, instinctively, that my report would be stronger if I used music and visuals.

Also, well, I just wanted to use that projector. It fascinated me. The other projectors could transmit images, but not images from a solid page. The other projectors transmitted images from negatives or transparencies. I had a curiosity about how all this media technology worked and wanted to use it.

I’d already developed an interest in media, despite the rudimentary capabilities of the consumer-level audio/video equipment accessible to me in those days. I would sometimes try to “splice” audio by using two or three tape recorders and switching back and forth manually.

Compared to kids today, my early childhood years were in the technological dark ages. Over-the-air TV delivered 3 commercial channels and the “educational” channel. Over-the-air radio was still AM only until around 1970-71 in my home area.

CB radios were around and I got to play with those from time to time so I understood the notion that anyone could speak into to a radio transmitter and send a message to someone else. I understood that “radio” wasn’t simply a technology available to the select few licensees, but I also knew the license thing existed because TV and most radio stations signed off at dark or midnight with a message about some FCC license.

I had my own cassette tape recorder and I used to play records and record my voice, as if I were a DJ spinning tunes and reporting the news.

At my first career day–in second grade, I believe–I converted my big appliance box into a radio station and demonstrated my music mixing skills via the cassette recordings I’d made using my family’s limited-but-diverse record collection.

Some relatives had an old 8 mm film camera and every once in a while someone would have one of those home-movie screenings after dinner.

I wanted a movie camera so badly in those days. Never got one. Around the time I started junior high I got a Kodak 110 Instamatic, which I considered a major upgrade to my parents Polaroid Land camera. I also had to use my money to buy and develop the film, which wasn’t inexpensive. I used to send the film cartridges off in the mail to a development house because it was cheaper. Eventually I learned the film replacements they sent (as an incentive to keep users in the system) yielded pictures that had poor color and faded faster than the Kodak film.

All of this technology-reminiscing has a point. I like to think that my report on West Virginia in Mrs. Bowen’s 4th grade class reveals some of the core aspects of my personality:

I like to try new technologies and I’m always looking for ways to improve, to grow, to be distinctive. I’m willing to experiment.

My approach to the report also demonstrates an early example of resourcefulness.

I wanted to do more than stand up and read a report, so I asked to use the technology I needed to do the best I could do at the time.

I’d love to hear your stories about using tech at school. Even though the technology is constantly changing, it’s the willingness to engage with and learn through the technology that makes you stand-out.

Leave a comment and share a story about an experience you had with whatever technology was available to you at the time or, even better, how you overcame a challenge due to the lack of technology!

 

Categories
Grow Inspire Professional

Mind Meld with Copyblogger’s Brian Clark

Sometimes I think Copyblogger's Brian Clark installed trojan horse in my computer a few years ago when I joined the Authority community.

Or maybe he's just a mind-reader.

Of course, it might simply be a coincidence that has something to do with the fact that we're both non-practicing lawyers of similar age who discovered the internet in the early 90s, way before most of our generation, and we both escaped from the drudgery of law practice.

We also seem to have a similar taste in music.

And, just in case you're curious, this isn't a rant and it's not intended to be mean-spirited.

I feel a sense of validation, knowing that the brilliant Brian Clark comes up with many of the same ideas as I do—and succeeds at implementation.

And since this blog is where I tell my story of my own hero's journey, I thought I'd share this mini-epic—if only to serve as a reminder to myself that I am a hero who's generating the same ideas as early as those who are the masters of the internet universe.

Of course, I would also like to be one of the unemployable at Rainmaker Digital. I think I would make a great podcaster for their team.

[Tweet “The next great member of the @RainmakerFM @Copyblogger team should be @RealSheree”]

In any event, Brian is the “successful” one, at least in terms of business and finance. And I'm a Brian Clark/Copyblogger fan-girl.

Disclosure: I use Genesis framework on many of my websites (not this one) and I've been in the Authority community since 2013 and have paid for the Rainmaker platform since the beta days of July 2014. And I got to say hello to Henry Rollins at the 2015 Rainmaker Authority Conference. None of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Rainmaker Authority 2015 Sheree Martin and Henry Rollins, photo by Brad Crooks
Rainmaker Authority 2015 Photo by Brad Crooks

From Go-Go's and Emma Peel to Digital Media Empire

While I was busy making fan videos to accompany Go-Go's music and uploading those to my hand-coded website, where I blogged about the Go-Go's and TV's The Avengers, Brian was busy figuring out how to harness the power of the internet to build his first internet media empire.

Screenshot of TSMMedia website portal to the Go-Go's section from Wayback Machine Internet Archive

Here's one of my videos circa early 2002, available on YouTube thanks to ValleyEarl (After posting to YouTube in 2007, I took mine down, since I'm risk averse):

While I was stalled as a freelance writer doing long-form copywriting for ad agencies and working as freelance online editor for a couple of manufacturing trade sites, Brian was building his own online business portals.

In 2000, I could see the future and I wanted to be part of it, but I knew that my HTML coding skills weren't going to take me where I needed to go and I didn't have the capital to hire developers.

Like Brian Clark, I was reading Wired, Fast Company, and The Industry Standard.

I saw the future, I understood it. I'd been building “online” relationships since 1990. That's why I'd eagerly embraced the opportunity to do online content editing for Manufacturing Equipment News and Fabricating Equipment News.

I understood Free Agent Nation and the Brand Called You but I didn't have the tech chops to code or the financial resources to hire a developer.

In any event, I'd long since exhausted my 401k from law practice days trying to make it as a writer.

Before WordPress arrived in 2003 to make my life easier, the dot com bubble burst and my freelance writing work largely dried up by the middle of 2002.

So I gave up and finished my Ph.D.

Silly me.

On the plus side, I bought my first iPod in 2001 and was listening to podcasts from the beginning.

Great Minds, Great Instincts

If I've learned one thing over the past 3 years is that I apparently have VERY good instincts for what's coming next.

I've seen it in my own experience and, well, that's what Sally Hogshead has told me.

But the reality is this: I'm not the best implementer of my own ideas, in part because I'm too much of a DIYer.

My DIY mindset is driven by a combination of necessity, learned resilience from certain challenges of my childhood, and an innate desire to understand the how and why of pretty much everything.

The reality is that hiring others, or simply outsourcing simple projects, requires disposable cash. I outsource what I can, but mostly I DIY.

Like I said, I'm still paying for that Ph.D.

Like I said, silly me.

But I digress…..back to Brian Clark and my instincts….

Case in point….

In late March of this year, I happened to be scrolling through my Twitter feed before calling it a night. Something prompted me to click on a tweet from Brian Clark….

I had not, at that point, heard of Brian's Further.net project, even though I was receiving a variety of emails from Copyblogger, Rainmaker and Authority.

I'll confess to not reading many of the Copyblogger/Rainmaker emails in February and March–I was teaching 4 courses, had 3 preps, and was actually working on the Shinecast project.

Despite my lackluster open rate at times, I highly recommend Copyblogger, er, Rainmaker Digital resources.

Anyway, I clicked and discovered that Brian's Further.net site is about personal development centered around the themes of Health, Wealth and Wisdom. See The Ben Franklin Follies.

At another point in my life, I might have been deflated. Instead, it made me feel good about my vision, however poorly I've implemented it.

Tweet to Brian Clark

I thought about writing this blog post that evening but, like I said, I was busy with my last semester of teaching.

I was also in the midst of starting a new podcast, Birmingham Shines, which I planned to use as a promotional vehicle for my rollout of the expanded Shinecast® media empire.

Instead of writing a blog post about “great minds” or mind-melding, I filed the idea away in my head to write someday, or not.

We're Each On a Hero's Journey

A few days later, in early April 2015, I wrote my About page for the Shinecast.tv website.

And on that About page, I wrote this, pretty much in the form it appears here:

Each of us is a hero.

Our life is a journey.

On the path, we encounter the people, places and things we are given to teach us the lessons we need to move farther along the journey.

The mission of Shinecast® is to help you on this journey.

We can’t be the true hero of our own life unless we grow into the person we were meant to be.

Real. Authentic. Integrated.

Shinecast is where you find stories, inspiration and the tools to help you Discover, Grow, and Shine in all areas of your life.

The Shinecast vision is about living a whole, real and authentic life in the 21st century.

The Shinecast lifestyle is about achieving health, wealth, wisdom and happiness.

Although I published the About page on April 6, and made a few copyediting revisions since then, mainly to break up the paragraphs into shorter phrases, the essence of my message has been in development since late 2012.

You can see bits and pieces of it on my About page for The Ben Franklin Follies and here on my Shinecast Vision and Values page and in many posts on both websites.

The idea to use the hero's journey as my own metaphor came mainly through my use of the hero's journey as the framework for a freshman Communication Arts course I taught in Fall 2014.

I wanted to find a way to help students move beyond traditional academic essay writing and focus on storytelling.

Bluebird attempts to defend nest from snake Copyright 2013 Sheree MartinThe story behind this photo?

While doing yard work, a cacophony of chattering and screaming birds (of all stripes), prompted me to look up to see a snake slithering into this bird house, where the blue bird's nestlings were housed. I managed to grab my camera and capture a series of photos of the unsuccessful hero bird.

The message to the students in my class:

Each of us is a hero and we're on a hero's journey and we need to face our obstacles, fight our battles, and be transformed.

Aside from learning to tell better stories, I wanted the students to feel empowered as they began their college experience, rather than being stuck in a box that someone else created for them.

In the first class session, I scattered a bunch of boxes on the floor and asked the students to write a few paragraphs about what these boxes represented to them.

It was my way of getting acquainted. I don't like feeling boxed in.

I believe in the power of the hero's journey, so I decided to use it as the framework for all of the content I planned to create and publish under the Shinecast® brand.

The Shinecast mission is premised on the idea that life is a journey, we're on a path, and my Shinecast resources are intended to help shed some light along the way.

If you're interested, check out some of my podcasts on iTunes

  • Discover Grow Shinecast
  • Birmingham Shines
  • Ignite Alabama
  • Shine Springs Farm Shinecast

That Brian Clark Does It Again

So I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised a few days ago to hear Brian Clark talking about each of us being on a hero's journey in his Unemployable podcast conversation with Kathleen Shannon.

That episode is about what makes a brand (hint: it's not the logo) and the importance of authenticity in finding your brand identity.

So anyway, that coincidence was, as they say, the last straw.

I had to chime in with this blog post and my own hero's journey to this place I'm at in mid-September, 2015.

This isn't the whole story.

Even though this version is highly abbreviated, this blog post is long enough, as it is….Keep in mind that I'm a lawyer. We like words. Perhaps I'll use this blog post in my memoirs some day.

Flashback: Spring 2012

By late Spring 2012, I knew I was going to leave my academic position sooner than later.

I had have big, long-term plans for building my Shine Springs Farm and Apiary, so I started looking for ways to transform my blog, The Ben Franklin Follies, into something more than a variety show of content, where I let my curiosity determine what I'd write about or, occasionally, curate.

In September 2012, I started my first podcast, the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast, and quickly realized that:

(a) My love for audio content was stronger than ever. I'd majored in broadcasting in college, with an emphasis on radio, and had worked as a college radio DJ and weekend board operator for my university's big NPR-affiliate station.

(b) Podcasting was only going to get bigger and I wanted to have a whole stable of shows.

(c) The Shinecast was a cool name for a podcast and could be a key part of my branding.

If you listen to the earlier episodes, it's clear that I was learning podcasting, but you have to start somewhere……

From Podcasting to Online Courses

Fall 2012

The Shine Springs Farm Shinecast developed a small, but seemingly loyal, following.

Thanks to Copyblogger, I knew by that point that teaching and online courses were going to be huge, so I registered the domain, Teach Social Business, and put together a website where I would document how I was teaching a college-level social media/content marketing course I'd developed.

I intended to create some type of course to sell to other college professors who needed to teach a course in social media yet didn't fully understanding social media and content marketing.

I started posting to the Teach Social Business site and decided to take a few courses myself, to get a feel for how these online courses worked. It's still there, although it doesn't look very pretty right now.

Chris Brogan's Brave New Year

As it happened, my 50th birthday was coming up in November of 2012 and I'd been on a self-reflection and journaling binge through the Fall of 2012, trying to figure out how to transition out of my academic position into something entrepreneurial that would also support me at my current standard of living.

Chris Brogan happened to announce the launch of his Brave New Year course during the week of my birthday, which always falls around Thanksgiving. I signed up.

Over the next 60 days, I worked through Chris's course and was fairly active in the Brave Facebook group and Google+ community. I also did a couple of other small online courses and joined Corbett Barr's Fizzle program for about 6 months, just as it came out of the beta test.

One mistake I think I made in those months from December 2012 – February 2013 was to listen too much to the feedback I got when I posed questions to community members.

I remember sharing that I was going to develop a course to offer to college professors to help them teach social media and I distinctly remember getting a bit of pushback, including a comment from Chris Brogan that asked something to the effect: “What makes you think a college professor would buy your course?”

He may have meant this in the context of doing audience research, but I felt somewhat chastened. After all, it was Chris Brogan asking the question, not Joe Schmo.

Not long after that, Chris launched his own course, Social Media Mastery. I'm not sure if it had that exact name, originally, but that or a similar course came along not long after I put my idea on the table.

That was the first clue that my ideas had validity, even if I wasn't quite ready for prime-time.

Come On, Get Happy

File info documenting the creation date of Sheree Martin's Happy Life Manifesto

I've always loved my idea for The Ben Franklin Follies, even though I've never expressed it well or executed it well.

Because I'm so in love with it, I've also always been reluctant to let it go and move on.

I still don't know whether I should let it languish or revive The Ben Franklin Follies and I'm still trying to decide. I know all the psychology about sunk-costs and all that. But hey, Pal Joey gets a revival every now and then and The Ed Sullivan Show was huge (in its day).

Some of the blog posts get decent traffic (by my measure), especially for a site that's updated sporadically and is all over the map in terms of content.

The Ben Franklin Follies truly is a smörgåsbord, especially if you go deep into the archives.

In February 2013, I sat down and wrote the basic outline for how I could transform The Ben Franklin Follies into something bigger and better and more focused.

I thought of Ben's essay, “The Path to Happiness,” and the Poor Richard maxim: “Early to bed, early to wise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

So I wrote my own Happy Life Manifesto about the path to a happy life.

When I set out to look for domains (such as the happy life project), I discovered someone named Gretchin Rubin had written a book called the Happiness Project. I'd never even heard of it. Not wanting to be influenced by her thinking, I avoided even looking at her website. I know she's successful. Props. I look forward to reading it someday soon.

I had still have plans to publish The Happy Life Manifesto as a book of short essays.

After a great deal of back-and-forth, I ultimately revamped the Ben Franklin Follies blog around the theme of helping my audience on the path to health, wealth and wisdom.

And I found someone in England to design a logo for the Ben Franklin Follies:

Logo for The Ben Franklin Follies

By the end of March 2013, I had a website re-design completed and seemed ready to move forward.

But I languished.

Not sure if it was fear, or just too much on my plate.

I got my first two colonies of honeybees in May 2013 and spent massive hours each week from late May through August doing my Shine Springs Farm thing. I loved every minute of it.

Becoming an Authority

In August 2013, as I turned my attention from farming back to teaching, I also turned my attention back to developing my online media empire.

I joined Copyblogger's Authority program and signed up for the first Authority event as soon as registration opened.

I managed to keep my blogging alive, but I continued to languish, seeking advice and letting the short-sightedness of others poke holes in my balloon.

Asking for help on health, wealth and wisdom

I got a couple of bits of meaningful feedback from and one naysayer who apparently didn't ready the part where I wrote that the existing content was all over the place and that I would be more focused in the future.

Of course, I let the naysayer's admonishment hold sway, at least for a while.

Turtles Eventually Win The Race

In the 20 or so months since my post to the Authority forum, I've continued to push forward, sometimes 2 feet forward, 23.9 inches back, but I'm making progress.

I've written an ebook on real food that's essentially ready for sale–just needs a final proof-reading (and a better cover).

In January 2015, I published this guest post on See Jane Write about finding your true north, living authentically, and the Shinecast® mission.

I may be slow out of the gate and slow to execute, but the beauty of the internet is that it's a big playground.

I still believe that I'll succeed and that my plans to offer valuable resources to help others on their path to health, wealth, wisdom and a happy life.

I hope you'll join me on the journey.

After all, we're heroes, even if Billy's fiancé didn't want him to be one.

For what it's worth, I prefer the DeFrancos, the Partridge Family, and the Osmonds (Crazy Horses, y'all).

Sheree Martin about to record a podcast interview at the home of her guest

Categories
Marketing

#YallConnect Highlights

About 8-9 days ago I spent a couple of hours putting together this Storify account of the tweeted highlights of 2015 #YallConnect.

At some point I hope to add my notes but since I haven't had time to do that yet, I decided to just publish the highlights from Twitter. Here it is and I hope it's helpful!

 

Categories
Grow Professional

Coming Full Circle?

18 years ago—June 1997—I was in the midst of an internal struggle about what I should do next with my life.

On the outside, I was a successful lawyer. I was a shareholder in my law firm and, for the first time in my life, starting to make “real” money, by which I mean that I finally had enough to travel and invest after covering relatively modest living expenses and sizable student loans from law and tax school.

But despite the relative career security and stable financial situation, I was unfulfilled, both professionally and personally. I’d reached a place where I feared I was at the point of no return. Of course, that was probably not the reality of the immediate situation, but that’s what I felt at that point.

The Fork in the Road

I was 34 years old and it seemed like I was about to cross some threshold of life and professional standing that would close off opportunities.

If I stayed in my career as a lawyer, I would forgo the chance to make a significant change for years to come. Whether that was true or not, I don’t know. But that’s what I felt at that point.

I was at the proverbial fork in the road.

For several years I’d been grappling with whether I should be practicing law or doing something else, like writing which seemed to be at the core of my being. I would get up at 5 a.m. most days–sometimes 4–to do my “morning pages” in a journal and then write more professional stuff.

Throughout 1996 I sought the professional advice of others: Spiritual counseling through a pastoral counseling program in my community, professional career counseling, psychological counseling. I met with several professionals in fields I thought might be suitable to get guidance on careers in those fields.

I didn't have anyone in my family or circle of friends that I could call on for real, deep guidance. My brother was the most helpful, but even he could not offer anything more than support. A couple of the lawyers in my firm were as helpful as they could be when I shared things with them, but they could not define my happiness and my own future for me.

Confused & Uncertain

The whole process of counseling left me more confused and uncertain. I could not find a thread of consistency in any of the guidance I received from these others (all men, I recall in retrospect), other than impression that this was going to be something I had to figure out on my own.

I began to realize that the answers had to come from inside.

My heart-of-hearts felt that communication and creativity had to be the core of whatever I did, but I had not idea how to pursue that.

I’d been writing for several years, but had doubts about my ability to “make a living” as a writer. In those days, you still had to be picked by an editor, a publisher, a producer.

On a lark in Fall 1996 I enrolled in a graduate course in organizational communication and applied to take the GRE. I’d explored the possibility of moving from law into corporate communication, to focus on communications in crisis management.

I had been applying for executive-level positions in the PR and corporate communications field and to the extent I ever received feedback on my applications I was told that I was “overqualified” or “underqualified.”

Spiritual Discernment

My morning pages ritual included spiritual reading, writing and reflection and I was a frequent reader of Ecclesiastes. In 1997, as I approached the point of decision, I was deep into struggling with the words in the book of James.

I was very hung up on the faith vs. doubt message of James 1:5-8. I remember asking my brother, an ordained minister, to help me understand that passage.

I wanted to make a wise choice because I knew (or at least felt at the time) that I would be closing a door by leaving my career as a lawyer. I knew I could always practice law again, but I would be leaving a position of relative security and even if I returned to law I would be starting anew, to some extent.

What Goes Around

Anyway, here I am today in 2015 at a very similar point in my life.

In August 2014 I tendered my notice to Samford that I would be leaving the tenure-track position I had and leaving the University in May 2015, when my contract expired. So that decision has been made and is final and I am very confident that was the correct decision.

A few weeks ago, the pastor of my church—Avondale United Methodist—embarked on a summer sermon focus on the New Testament book of James. I’ve been very excited about that because James remains one of my go-to books when I’m perplexed and seeking guidance. That said, I haven’t studied or pondered it, deeply, in a couple of years.

As I began to re-read the first chapter of James on my own over the past few days, I began to focus words and phrases that I had not previously underlined.

This new focus was not of my own intention. As I read, my eyes are automatically drawn to the underlined verses and phrases, which I struggled with in the past, but my perception is different.

Today, I’m seeing the underlined passages in the light of other words not previously emphasized. For example:

“Count yourself supremely HAPPY [emphasis mine, today] in the knowledge that such testing of your faith makes for strength to endure.”

James 1:2

“HAPPY [emphasis mine, today] is the man who stands up to trial! Having passed that test he will receive in reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12.

“But he who looks into the perfect law, the law that makes us free, and does not turn away, remembers what he hears; he acts on it, and by so acting he will find HAPPINESS.” [emphasis mine, today]

James 1:25

“…By so acting he will find happiness.”

Discovering the Path to Happiness

In February 2013 I sat down to write something that I called the Happy Life Manifesto–my thesis on happiness and what it takes to achieve a happiness, based on the lessons I’d learned in my 50 years of life.

I’d embarked on period of self-reflection in the second-half of 2012, in anticipation of my 50th birthday in late November of that year and you might say the Happy Life Manifesto was the summation of what I'd learned from that process.

What I’d recognized is that I was happy, in spite of an ongoing time of trial and tribulation in my job, uncertainty about the future, and occasional family challenges that still surfaced from time to time.

So it’s interesting to come today to the place where I’m in the midst of a major change in my life and no human certainty as to how it will play out and yet I feel happy and at peace and back in the book of James.

I’m finally moving to turn the Happy Life Manifesto in the book that I envisioned in 2013, when I was about half-way through writing the first iteration. But the thing is this: I don’t think I was fully ready then. Some of the pieces to the puzzle weren’t yet in place.

Happiness Is….

The first thesis in the Happy Life Manifesto is this:

It starts with Love.

When I was writing the Happy Life Manifesto, I wasn’t thinking specifically of the fruits of the spirit, the first of which is love.

Love came from an internalized message that had been growing inside over the past few decades, particularly in the years between 2004 and 2013.

But it’s an even stronger feeling inside today. I don’t think I was fully cognizant in 2013 of what it means to say “it starts with Love.” And for that reason, the book has had to wait until now, when I'm better equipped to write it.

Faith, Hope & Love

I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be in June 2015 and continuing to grow into the person and purpose I’m here for now.

I believe I’m in this place for a reason and a purpose.

I am moving in faith to take the actions each day that I discern to be the right ones to fulfill the purpose that I'm here for right now. I'm not perfect–I still get distracted and off-track, but I’m trying.

I’m trying to be the person I am–the person God designed and created.  And taking action in faith.

I have hope–I'm confident, not doubting (at least rarely having a flash of doubt).

And I'm trying, in faith, to BE love.

Love prevails.

[Writer's Note: This is something of a stream-of-consciousness first draft from my journal, edited slightly here for clarity. I write to think.]

Categories
Grow Inspire

Explaining the Shinecast

So here's a bit about how the Shinecast has evolved over the past year ….

[I originally published a similar version of this to a private Facebook group that I'm a member of]

The Shinecast vision has been (and continues to be) about helping others discover, find inspiration, grow and shine. The journey is where you find happiness.

This occurs through an integrated life built on the pillars of health (real food, movement, sleep, time in nature, mindfulness, spiritual nurturing), wealth (both money and relationships, commitment to sustainable living), and wisdom (personal growth).

In February 2013, after a few months of deep self-reflection and journaling, I wrote a short treatise that I titled the “Happy Life Manifesto” that lays out the 95 theses of a happy life based on these pillars.

I wrote The Happy Life Manifesto before I began to hear similar ideas from James Altucher via his Choose Yourself book, blogging and podcast interviews, but I did read Choose Yourself shortly after I finished my own treatise on happiness.

[Beyond James, others are also sharing a similar message. I've intentionally never read anything by Gretchen Roberts who, as I understand it, writes on happiness. I heard about her work around the time I was getting ready to publish The Happy Life Manifesto as an ebook and research work on happiness on Amazon. Since then, I've also avoided listening to podcasts where she's interviewed. I'm still going to publish my manifesto, but it will be part of this larger Shinecast mission.]

So how to present the Shinecast / Happy Life vision in a way that's helpful, not promotional or preachy?

I have grappled with that question for a long time….. Especially, since I have a hit-miss community, not a full-on “tribe” eagerly awaiting each bit of insight I send down from some mountaintop. I'm just a person who's come to this through a lot of years of living life.

Last summer, I wrote a how-to guide titled 7 Days of Real Food, and then held back on releasing it because I didn't have all the other pieces in place to build momentum. It's all ready to go out as a real book on Create Space and a PDF (needs some revising for Kindle, to delete some of the numerous photos documenting how to prepare the meals).

For the past 2 years, I've envisioned the Shinecast project being some type of multimedia content platform but couldn't explain what I meant by that, except by saying it might be like a combination of Charlie Rose, Oprah and Marie Forelo. Except customized for my personality.

That broad definition, while conceptually understandable by someone in the media/internet world, was not specific enough to build into a strategic plan for implementation.

How Do I Make the Shinecast Happen?

When I first envisioned the Shinecast project I called it “building my multimedia empire,” half-jokingly because I didn't think anyone would take me seriously, even though I was serious.

At first, it was just a brand to share my message with a podcast, online video, ebooks, newsletter, and other multimedia spinoff components.

Then last Fall, I began to see the Shinecast more specifically as a series of shows and other multimedia components (video, newsletters, free and premium) assigned to “channels” on the Shinecast “network.”

In other words, my multimedia empire. Not one show, but several.

Think Big

Well, the bigger version of the Shinecast is finally happening. Over the next 120 days I'm rolling out a series of podcasts and other “pieces of content” (for lack of a better word right now).

The content is organized by channels on the Shinecast network. And some of the channels are getting their own separate websites where I deliver the content.

I also want to use RSS to bring in selectively, carefully-curated content from others, both in a/v and blog form

The first show goes live this Friday: Birmingham Shines.

Other shows will be rolling out every few weeks.

Lots of moving parts in this project and I'm finishing up the last few weeks of my teaching job, so I've been a bit busy…….

Categories
Grow Health

This Was My Week: April 25, 2015

I have a lot on my plate and can often get frustrated (with myself) when I don't get everything completed that I have on my informal to-do list.

This past week I came down with a nasty cold, probably due to a combination of pushing myself REALLY hard to launch my dream project, the stress and excitement that comes from actually embarking on a complex vision that I've dreamed of, planned for and slowly begun to create while simultaneously finishing up the semester and properly performing my official “day job” responsibilities.

As I was typing the detailed stuff below, I decided to embark on a self-feedback program is to demonstrate (to myself) that I get a LOT done each day, even when something like an unscheduled (and very rare, for me) illness tries to block my past.

I was originally going to do this post to document the progress I've been making on the Birmingham Shines component of my Shinecast project. But due to a combination of reasons, I decided to publish it here first and then use an edited version for the Birmingham Shines project status posts on my Teach Social Business site.

At some point, I'll use the details about what I'm doing to launch the Shinecast to create an ebook or webinar or something. So the more documentation I have, the easier it will be to create something of value to help others launch a project or pursue a dream. In the meantime, this level of documentation will serve as a reminder to myself that I'm working hard to make my vision a full-fledged reality.

Here's a very detailed summation of the past 5 days….

The cold that was developing on Sunday turned nasty by Tuesday, April 21. As a result the past 4 days have not gone exactly as I’d scheduled or hoped. But I managed to get the most urgent tasks completed, while also teaching my classes and handling some other work-related tasks.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mondays are always my busiest day on campus so most of Monday was dedicated to my job duties.

Despite long workdays on Mondays & Wednesdays, I like to get up earlier than necessary to have time to journal or read while I’m having my coffee.

Thanks to the cold, I didn’t sleep well anyway, so Monday began around 4:00 a.m. with coffee and writing the post on Legal Matters where I documented the Sunday tasks for Birmingham Shines.

I also reviewed my existing Soundcloud account, which has currently has the user name shinecastus. Trying to decide if I should create separate Soundcloud accounts for each show or have one Shinecast network channel. The podcast aspect of my shows may determine the answer to that.

I also quickly reviewed the overview of a couple of premium social sharing plugins that I’m interested in evaluating further after Sunday’s research. (It’s easy to get distracted when you leave the webpage open in a tab in your browser, so, note to self ….)

I also checked the proposals for the two jobs I’d posted to elance on Sunday.

After that morning flurry, most of the rest of Monday was dedicated to my job, personal tasks and helping my nephew who's exploring a career in sports journalism.

At mid-morning on Monday, I sent an email to a local business requesting an interview for the Birmingham Shines show and tinkered with the youcanbook.me schedule availability for the next two weeks.

At 11:45 a.m. I left campus to meet my nephew, Davis, who was driving to Birmingham to attend the afternoon portion of the annual meeting of the Alabama Sports Editors Association at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. I'd alerted him to this as a way he might learn more about sports journalism. Davis was running a bit late, so he didn't arrive until about 12:15 p.m. We had lunch at the Southern Kitchen in Uptown (he picked) and talked about the afternoon events. At 1:30 p.m., Davis went in to the ASEA event and I drove back to campus to work.

I was feeling so crappy by late afternoon that I bought a Red Bull before my law class at 3:30 p.m.

When class ended at 4:35 p.m., I packed up, left campus and drove home to meet Benjamin Zamora, who was going to do some tree and shrub trimming work for me. Davis called me just before 5 and we talked for almost an hour, while I heated up bone broth and waved to Benjamin who had arrived around 5:15 p.m. to start his work.

Eventually, Davis seemed to be finishing this questions and thoughts about the day, so I told him I needed to sign off the phone to talk to Benjamin.

Benjamin finished his work just before 7 and I paid him.

Dinner consisted of leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato chunks. I was too tired and sick to make anything else.

I went to bed early— lights out at 8:40 p.m. and sound asleep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thanks to the combination of illness, massive to-do list and going to bed early, I woke Tuesday morning at 2 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. I finally got up again, around 3:45 a.m., made coffee and got to work.

My first interview was scheduled for Tuesday evening at 5 p.m., so that was on my mind. Even though I’ve done numerous interviews and audio recordings with my home set-up (for the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast and other a/v projects), I hadn’t yet set up the equipment so I had that to do, as well as all the work necessary to get the elance jobs underway.

The main task for the morning was to write copy for several audio tags for Birmingham Shines. I’d asked a student who wants to work in radio and TV if he’d like to record them for me and he indicated interest and said he could stop by between my classes today.

I ended my Tuesday morning journaling session with jotting down these two “first concepts” (to give this task to my subconcious brain to work on as I did other things):

  • Birmingham Shines: A show for people who make, create and innovate.
  • Birmingham Shines: A show about the 21st century Magic City.

An hour or so later I created a document in Google drive and typed out several variations. Later in the day, I edited those and added a few more. I ended up with about 10 or 12 audio tags when I closed the file Tuesday night, just before 10 p.m.

I have an 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays/Thursdays, so I had to focus on getting dressed and getting to work

By the time my first class (a print production lab type of class) ended at 10 a.m. I was feeling horrible. I did some administrative work and arranged with the departmental assistant to give my law exam at 1 p.m. On my way home, I stopped by Whole Foods and bought a rotisserie chicken and big box of salad items for Tuesdays food. I didn’t have anything prepared at home and didn’t feel like cooking.

My first order of business when I got home at 11:45 was to lie down and rest for an hour to get rejuvenated before the 5 p.m. interview.

At some point on Tuesday, I sent out messages to my then semi-finalists on elance and updated them on the job awarding process. I had planned to award Tuesday night but it was clear that I wasn’t going to feel like making a choice. A significant reason for my uncertainty stemmed from a proposal I received from a Birmingham-based audio engineer.

I really wanted to work with someone local but his proposal was the highest of all and notably higher than many of the middle-range of proposals. I’d sent him an elance message about this, gave him more details about the show and my bootstrapping budget and offered him the opportunity to revise his proposal.

On Tuesday afternoon between 1:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. I focused on getting my home office recording studio set up again and took care of emails related to work and other odds-and-ends.

Wade arrived at 5 p.m.

I started the session by taking several photos to use with the show notes and promotion. We then moved into the “studio” to start the interview.

I’ll write a separate post about the actual interview and some things I wish I’d done differently and what I learned from the first interview session.

We finished up around 7, give or take a few minutes. After the actual interview ended, we had a nice chat about various topics, so the actual interview aspect of our session ran about an hour, including pauses.

After the interview, I was tempted to crash for the evening, but knew that wasn’t really practical. I had a long day ahead on Wednesday and also needed to be ready to award the editing job on Wednesday and upload the files, per my elance job description.

I had a few bites of chicken and the rest of the salad I’d bought earlier at Whole Foods and turned my attention to transferring and labeling the audio .wav files.

Once I moved the files from the Zoom SD card to my external drive, I listened to each one and labeled them in order.

I created a Google doc for a show script and listed the segments, in order, for Wade’s full interview.

Eventually, I will edit the interviews into shorter segments and assemble into story packages, but I’m starting out with publishing most of the interviews in their entirety as a single episode.

I recorded a simple conclusion to the show and added that to the episode folder and show script.

I also added the intro and outro music files I’d purchased through Music Bakery and Premium Beat and added those items to the script.

I made an effort to record the show intro and make it snazzy but I just wasn’t feeling it at all by that point. It was well after 8 p.m. and I was feeling the worst I’d felt all week. I finally threw in a perfunctory intro that was passable, added that to the file and script and uploaded everything to a Dropbox folder before going to bed.

By 9 p.m. I was clearly feverish as I was having chills, shaking, etc. Went to bed and to sleep, but woke up hourly for water, bathroom, etc. I had a fever and was shaking massively when I would get up. I didn’t have any aspirin or ibuprofen in my house, so my only recourse was to tough it out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2015

Some time around 2 a.m. I felt the fever begin to subside and I was able to sleep, fitfully, until I woke up at 7. I emailed the departmental assistant to say I would not be in for the 8:30 production lab but to tell the students to work on their magazine spread assignment and that I planned to be on campus after lunch.

With that, I made coffee and breakfast and reopened the bidding on elance to share a sample audio file from the interview and the proposed script, in case anyone wanted to revise their proposal. I messaged the Birmingham engineer specifically since he had sent a message letting me know he couldn’t revise his proposal since I’d closed the job early. [Update: I think I actually re-opened the bidding before going to bed Tuesday night, but with the fever some of the final details of Tuesday night are a bit fuzzy] 

I was starting to feel some congestion in my sinuses—nothing major, but until that point my discomfort had been throat, ears and chest, not sinuses. Just in case, I heated some water in a cup and added salt to do a sinus irrigation using a technique I developed during my first in Oklahoma when I would occasionally start to feel allergies developing. No neti pot required.

At that point, I hadn’t received a confirmation from my student voice-over prospect that he would do the work for the offered compensation and terms so I wasn’t sure if I would receive those files on Wednesday morning, as requested.

I created a new private job on elance for voiceover recording of the audio tags. I had revised and edited my list down to 7 variations and included a PDF of the tags in the private job. I invited about 6 or 8 voiceover specialists to bid on the job, with a same-day turnaround. Once I published the job, I got in the shower, hoping to feel better.

About an hour later, I had 3-4 proposals, accepted the one who was local and funded the escrow. I also messaged the two others I was most interested in and said I would have more work via separate jobs.

The pro had the job finished and files shared within an our of when I funded the escrow. He did a perfect job — just the feel I was looking for.

Just before noon, I discovered I had an email from the student sharing the Dropbox folder with his versions of the audio tags. I listed to those and tagged the good ones. Not bad. I’ll use a couple of them, occasionally, but not as my primary tags.

At 1 p.m. I had a meeting scheduled with Greg Wingo of TechBirmingham to talk about my Shinecast media channel, the Birmingham Shines show and whether TechBirmingham membership would be useful for me. We had a great meeting, despite my being under the weather. I was feeling somewhat better, especially compared to Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

I got to campus about 2:15 p.m. and got everything ready for my 3:30 p.m. section of media law. Took care of some more work-related tasks. In particular, I’m the adviser to a campus literary journal and we’re in the midst of getting that printed. Thankful that a student had cough drops to rescue me from a coughing fit that kicked in about 10 minutes into class.

I had called the Irondale post office just after I got to work at 2:15 to check on the delivery of 2 packages of honeybees. The postal worker said they had arrived and he had them and I could pick them up that afternoon. Fortunately, it would be possible to pick them up after 5, if I didn’t make before the official 5 p.m. closing.

On top of all that, Alabama Power was in the neighborhood trimming trees and I was texting back and forth with my very nice neighbor who had opened the gate for them and was keeping an eye on my very skittish cat hiding under the deck. I didn’t know they were coming Wednesday afternoon since they weren’t in the neighborhood when I left my house at 12:45-ish and I’d left the cat on the back patio in her chair. She doesn’t climb fences, so she’s OK to be back there when I’m not home.

After class ended at 4:35, I quickly packed up my stuff and headed out for the Irondale Post Office. Neighbor had left a voice mail letting me know Bumble was safe, the gate was locked, etc. so I called her back to say thanks.

Arrived at the post office at 4:58 p.m. in time to get my bees without having to go through ringing the bell. From there, I went home and unloaded the bees onto the back porch for the time being and let Bumble in. She was at the back door when I got home.

Despite feeling very tired and still sick at that point, I drove to Publix to pick up a few items I really needed. But forgot to get the plastic spray bottle I needed to spray bees with sugar syrup, so around 6:45 I drove to Dollar General for the spray bottle and remembered to buy some cough drops, too.

When I got home from those errands I made up the sugar syrup mixture and washed out the spray bottle. I discovered ants were starting to get on the packages of bees so brushed off the ants as best I could and I moved them to the top of my washing machine in the laundry room, which has a door that opens to the outside. In light of the ants, I decided to wait to spray the bees until morning. That concerned me because I wasn’t sure how much syrup they had left, but the bees had looked great at 5 when I picked them up at the post office and decided waiting to minimize ant exposure might be wiser than spraying and then having the bees confronted with ants.

Before going to bed, I made a list of the top editing proposals. My Birmingham audio engineer had revised his proposal somewhat. It was now the second highest bid. As I reviewed the project samples from many of the experienced editors, I was tempted to go with some of the mid-range proposals by regular podcast editors. But I am also committed to supporting local businesses as much as possible.

After an hour of reviewing the proposals, my gut said just go with Birmingham for this job and see what happens. Perhaps he will be able to offer a lower bid for future projects, after evaluating the time involved on these two episodes. I awarded the job to him, sent messages to several of the finalists about more work on this and other shows and that I would be inviting them to bid on those jobs. In funding the escrow, I had messaged my editor that I would not be able to deliver the preview episode audio files when I’d indicated in the job description, due to my illness and the honeybee situation and that I would extend the job deadline by a couple of days, but I didn’t change the terms officially.

I also emailed the guest who’d scheduled an interview for Thursday afternoon and asked about rescheduling due to my cold and the day-early arrival of my honeybee packages (I had expected them to come on Thursday, not Wednesday, based on shipping information). This guest had previously alerted me that she might also have a last-minute need to change the interview date, so I didn’t feel quite so bad about asking to reschedule at that late point.

Before I went to bed, I had a confirmation back from that guest saying it was probably best to reschedule. That helped me sleep a bit better, although I was still sick, still stuffy and still exhausted from the relentless schedule on top of the cold.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I slept as late as possible—6:30 a.m. Although I didn’t sleep particularly well, it was certainly better than the previous 3 nights.

Checked on the honeybees. No sign of ants, so I sprayed them with the sugar syrup. In the dark room, they were still “dormant” so I was a bit concerned about whether they were as healthy that morning as they had been the night before. They woke up as I sprayed, so I decided not to worry. Nothing I could do beyond spraying them occasionally and getting them hived that evening.

Got dressed and drove to campus. I took my “breakfast” with me: Protein shake and a bowl of oatmeal I’d cooked.

After class, I found that my escrow had been refunded. That concerned me, but I found that the audio engineer had simply formally changed the delivery date to Monday, which I was OK with, under the circumstances.

I accepted the change of terms, funded the escrow again, and turned my attention back to work. Took care of some administrative things, grabbed a quick meal in the campus Caf, graded a set of law exams, reviewed my notes for class and taught media law at 1 p.m.

Left campus as soon after class as I could get away after class. Around 2:15 or 2:20 p.m.

Drove home and, between 2:45-ish and 3:15 p.m., loaded my car with the bees and a few other items of bee equipment and hit the road.

Got to the farm around 5:25 p.m. and immediately set out to hive the bees. It took about 40 minutes to get everything in position to hive the first package.

Then, once I started the hiving process it took “forever” to get the staples out to open the wooden package and remove the syrup can.

I’ve only ever hived package bees once before (in 2014, when I wasn’t under quite the time crunch) so I was a bit clumsy in dealing with the queen cage, once I got the syrup can out of the way.

I didn’t want to squish the bees surrounding the queen, so I ended up placing the queen cage on a foundationless frame and just leaving it there.

I didn’t try to remove the candy plug because it was late and I had the other package to work with. I decided to come back in the morning to check on the queen cage.

It also seemed to take “forever” to shake out most of the bees from that package!

Not really forever, of course, but it did take about 40 minutes to get the first hive situated before I could start on package #2.

At this point, tt was getting dark and I needed to get my other package in its hive. Fortunately, the hiving process for the second package was a bit easier.

I started it around 6:30 and was finished in 20 minutes, just before full dark. I also left the queen cage unchecked and just saved that task for Friday morning.

Went inside and had dinner with my parents—leftover beef liver, some squash casserole with quinoa I’d made last summer that mom found in the freezer, some mashed potatoes.

At that point, I was feeling tired and sick, so I went to bed at 8:45 p.m. and slept pretty well until 3 a.m.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I woke up at 3 a.m. and immediately started coughing. Water didn’t help. Cough drops didn’t help, finally got up 4:45 a.m. and made coffee. I thought the warmth might help. It didn't.

Tried some honey.

Nothing was helping the coughing.

After I journaled for an hour or so documenting all of the week’s activity (that journaling is largely the basis for this blog post), I decided to lie down again and try reading. I was still coughing like crazy.

I had breakfast around 8 a.m., including a farm egg from my cousin, Dana, even though I'm supposed to be avoiding eggs for the time being. I was too hungry and needed nutrition and protein and it's been a while since I've had eggs.

After breakfast, I showered hoping that would help my coughing and chest congestion. It did, to some extent.

I got dressed and turned my attention back to taking care of honeybees.

Between 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. I took care of the new packages (they were doing great), put some syrup in the two nucs I’d purchased in March and checked on two of my other three hives.

One of the nucs was well into their second medium hive body (brood box) so I added a third medium, to keep them from feeling too crowded.

I also fed the remaining hive of Missouri bees, since they didn’t seem to have as many bees as I would have expected, despite almost losing them in the winter.

I had a lunch of leftovers—same as supper the night before—and said goodbye to my parents, dogs and Dali. Hit the road at 1:30 p.m., with a stop in Cullman where there’s a branch of ACU (my bank). Got back to Birmingham around 3:30.

I didn’t seem to be coughing much when I was outside working with the bees, but I coughed my head off on the drive back to Birmingham, despite trying four menthol cough drops and lots of water.

After getting things unloaded at my house and taking care of the cats and replying to a elance message from the audio editor,  I drove to Dollar General and bought some vapor-rub chest salve, made a soup concoction of mushrooms, garlic, onions, and chicken broth. Took care of various household chores, from washing dishes to washing a Polartec blanket that Friend had slept on.

Went to bed at 8:30 p.m. Friday night. The chest salve helped with the coughing, better than anything so far. I was able to sleep well overnight so I feel much better this morning (Saturday) when I’m typing this post.

Now, it’s time to get to work on Birmingham Shines!

Categories
Inspire Professional

Shinecast Back Story-1

Picture an elementary school cafeteria, circa 1969.

All the tables have been pushed to the side. The room is now Main Street, America. Sidewalks paved with shiny waxed linoleum tile provide pathways into second-grade small businesses built from appliance boxes.

My First Career Day

I was the owner of a radio station, blasting out 0.00125 kw of audio across the box town using my trusty Panasonic cassette recorder. WREE played an eclectic mix of music, interspersed with news updates, time, weather and station promos.

Sheree Martin 2nd gradeI wanted to own a radio station.

I also wanted to be a wildlife conservationist and an astronaut, and a chef like Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet.

That was before the world told me you had to pick one thing.

This is the backstory to how I came to envision and create the Shinecast.

Discovering ZOOM

A couple of years after the second grade career fair, my local PBS public television station (which we called “the educational channel,” back in those days) started airing new kids show produced by WGBH in Boston.

ZOOM.

I’ve previously written about my love for ZOOM.

I loved ZOOM so much that I wrote a letter and mailed it to WGBH in Boston, Mass 02134 (sing along, with me).

In my letter I asked how I could get on the show. I wanted to audition. One minor problem—I lived in Alabama, nearly a thousand miles away.

I received a very nice letter  thanking me for my interest and letting me know they didn’t plan to add any new cast members at that time. The reply included a package of publicity photos. I still have some of them.

ZOOM-PublicityPhoto-1972-DSC_0985

The years passed.

I enlisted my brother to help me create an AM Radio “morning show” that I called “Wake Up With Jake and Kate.” He might not remember it, but I do.

The tag line: “It's time to wake up with Jake and Kate.” We would say the “it's time to wake up” bit together and our names separately. I was about 12 at the time, so my cheesiness is excusable.

“It's time to wake up–with Jake–and Kate!” I can hear it quite clearly, as if we were saying it right now.

We recorded our show on my trusty cassette recorder, which I carried with me everywhere. I tried to “broadcast” the show over our home's intercom system but that didn't work so well.

Chip and I also put on variety “shows” for our parents. We had sets, costume changes, scripts, spotlights rigged from lamps…..

In those pre-VCR years, I liked to record the audio track from TV and experiment with editing from tape-to-tape by simply stopping/starting the recording and switching tapes back and forth. Saturday Night Live was one of my favorite shows to experiment with.

In those years I was, to borrow a  term that Seth Godin uses, an impresario.

I joined the band, the school jazz ensemble and the “show choir.” I was rehearsing something every day.

I knew, deep down, that I didn’t have the depth of talent (or focused drive) to be performer. I never aspired to be an actor or singer or other type of performer. But I loved to produce shows, media, club events.

Eventually, though, the “real world” led me to shift my “career” focus to something more “realistic”–law or, maybe, journalism.

None of that “choose yourself” stuff existed in my world in those days. The early 80s were all about career paths and business suits, particularly if I wanted to escape the confines of small-town Alabama.

Stay tuned for the Backstory: The College Years.

Categories
Grow Idea Machine Project

Idea Machine, Day 40: 10 Regrets to Let Go Of

For Day 40 of Become an Idea Machine, Claudia Altucher prompts us to list 10 regrets to let go.

So far, I've been posting all of the Idea Machine content over at The Ben Franklin Follies. But a few of the prompts have been less helpful to others, so I've decided to publish the more personal oriented content here and the ideas that can be helpful to others at The Ben Franklin Follies.

In my own life, I've been pretty good about letting go and forgiving others if I feel I've been hurt or wronged in some way. I learned a LONG time ago that holding on to resentments does nothing except hurt me.

I can be tough on myself. Despite my efforts to let go of perfectionism, I still have to deal with the fact that I want to be perfect and I hold myself to a high standard of performance.

Here are 10 things I could let go of…..

1. Losing A Beehive

I'm still grappling with the fact that I allowed a strong beehive to starve in late January. How didn't I see it? Why didn't I open the hive, even despite the cold to make sure it was ok. Why did I rely on outside appearances, since I did know better. Anyway, I'll start with that regret. I have to let it go, learn from it and move on.

2. Losing A Domain & Website

I started my first “blog” in 1999 and over the next 2 years built up a huge following. By 2001 I had a lot of daily traffic, given the topic and the fact that I was doing nothing to promote it. I ended up losing the domain in late 2003 and, as a result, I let the website die. I've written about how this happened in other posts. The site was tsmmedia.com. You can see a lot of the content on the wayback machine.

Although I've moved on, I still sometimes think “what if” and that's a sign that I've fully let go of my failure.

3. Not Monetizing the Website in 2001-2002

At the height of tsmmedia.com, I could have monetized it. I can't believe I didn't try. If I'd started making money from the site, I wouldn't have taken the job that led me to use that email address for the domain and then I would not have lost the domain.

A trail of what-ifs is a sign that I'm holding on to regrets…..

4. Leaving Oklahoma State

I had a great teaching job at Oklahoma State 2003-2007. I wasn't happy in Stillwater, so I started looking for another position. Since I didn't have a real mentor with experience in academia, I didn't realize that leaving a position before getting tenure is often dicey proposition.

In any event, I thought a return to the practice of law to build up a practice with clients in the tech industry and “new economy” would be a great idea. Turns out, the area I was in wasn't quite ready for that and then the bottom fell out of the economy anyway.

I wasn't happy doing the same type of legal work I had been doing in the 90s, so I started looking at a return to academia. Anyway, I've moved on from regretting this, but again I sometimes wonder “what if….”

In this case, though, I do think I've let go because if I hadn't left OSU, I would have missed out on a lot of great things that have happened in the 7-1/2 years since then. I also probably would have lost my dad, since it took returning to Alabama to discover I needed to help him.

5. Not Taking the Other Offer

In June 2009, my gut told me I'd made a terrible choice and suddenly, out of the blue, I had a new opportunity. Just the opportunity I'd been hoping and praying for.

And yet I didn't take it. Ultimately, I decided I'd given my word to Samford and that it would not be ethical to withdraw from that position at the last minute. I turned down the much better offer for what was, essentially, the academic job I'd been dreaming of.

I'll skip the details here, but it's clear that I made the wrong choice in 2009, although I have made the best of the choice I made. I've moved on.

6. Playing it Safe in 1991-92

When I practiced law on my own, I was very risk averse. I don't know that I “regret” that, but I've learned over the last couple of years that I've probably played it safe in many areas of my life, even though to most people I've been willing to take risks (like leave secure jobs when I felt stifled).

The thing is: I take one risk and then rarely go big after I take the risk. I pull back. That's something I've realized over the past two years.

7. Spending So Much Money on Music & Movies in the 1980s and 90s

I used to buy new videos and music CDs all the time. At one point, I had thousands of CDs. I sold off 2/3s but I still have at least a thousand music CDs. I also have way too many DVDs.

I try not to translate how much I spent into today's dollars. I love the music, but surely there was a better way to listen to it. No, not in those days. Radio stations controlled airplay and there was no Pandora or Spotify.

The music I liked most was not available at yard sales, either. I wasn't looking for top 40, I wanted alternative, non-mainstream stuff.

8. Buying a New Car in 1985

My grandmother died in July 1982 and my mother bought her 1979 Chevy Malibu from her estate. That was my car for the next 3 years. I really liked it but it was totally a late 70s/early 80s car. One day, I had car trouble and I got risk averse. And I also felt slightly embarrassed by my big, old 70s car that was a fuel hog. I ended up a new car that I had to finance. Having that car payment was a huge financial setback at that time. It set up a series of bad financial choices during the mid-80s.

I've long since learned my lesson from that, but the repercussions left me financially strapped for a long time.

9. Ph.D. and Academia?

I sometimes ask myself whether I'm glad I pursued a Ph.D. and embarked on a career in academia. I had not intended to work in academia when I enrolled in the program. I was going for a Ph.D. just because it was a terminal degree, and I was advised that a Master's in PR would be a waste of time.

I am ambivalent about the Ph.D now. It's been good and not-so-good. I'm very happy with the knowledge I gained, especially in theories related to leadership, management, psychology and sociology of change. But I could have gained that knowledge at a much lower cost.

The reality is this: I made the choices I made, so I have to make the best of where I am, not look back with regret.

10. Not Launching my Online Businesses Faster

I've been working to get several online business venture off the ground for the past 18 months. It's taking me way too long–in part because I am a perfectionist and I don't want to make any mistakes like I made in 2002-2003.

On the other hand, in some ways it's been a good thing that I've let the Shinecast idea germinate because it's taken shape in ways I didn't envision. The biggest delay that I regret is not publishing The Happy Life book yet and not getting 7 Days of Real Food out last Fall. And Teach Social Business? I should have been promoting in 2 years ago, when I first published the content there. Instead, I keep playing it safe…..


 

Anyway, those are 10 regrets I need to let go of….Do you have any regrets that you need to let go of?

I'm sharing publicly here because I hope others will see that playing it safe and holding back due to perfectionist tendencies, fear and/or a desire to impress others is not the best way to achieve the life of your dreams.

Categories
Discover Grow Professional Portfolio

A Letter To My Younger Self

In early February, while looking for another document, I found this file saved on my computer….It's an unfinished letter to my younger self.

The file metadata says this was written December 21, 2013. After copying and pasting here on February 11, 2014, and then scanning through it for typos, I'm posting it verbatim.

It's clear that I didn't finish it….Maybe I'll write the ending one of these days.


Sheree–

Everything works out.

Your first grade teacher said you “have great potential.” Your third grade teacher pronounced you “gifted.” Junior high achievement testing scored your IQ at x [intentionally omitted]. All that potential. The bulk of your adult life has been directed toward somehow proving to someone that you were worthy of those labels.

You’ve only recently realized this and started to return to a life that applauds your unique gifts, rather than climbing ladders toward some measure of success that’s defined by someone else.

Your instincts have always served you well, Sheree. When you’ve followed your instincts you’ve made forward progress. When you’ve ignored your instincts or been a bit too timid to act on them you’ve had to learn the intended lesson the hard way.

Your adult life has turned out quite different than you would have predicted at age 15. And that’s good.

For a while, in your 20s, you were self-absorbed, motivated by the prospects of financial gain. Not to the level of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but you were a bit too focused on your own self-interest and less on helping others.

Fortunately, your regained your heart and set out on a new path.

All of the things you dreamed of as a child but seemed out of reach are possible in 2013 and beyond. One example……Storytelling through mass media–You can do that now. You’re no longer subject to the gatekeepers and technology limitations of the 1970s and 1980s.

By your mid-20s you’d realized that you didn’t have the stomach for politics and political machinations. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), the system was less messed up in those days than today. Nonetheless, your ambition to be the first woman president was put to rest before you turned 30.

And so ends the December 22, 2013 letter to my younger self…..

Categories
Discover Inspire

Ideas & the Revival of The Ben Franklin Follies

“I explore, connect, create and communicate ideas.”

This is still the tagline of my Google Plus profile.

Tagline for Sheree Martin's Google Plus Profile: I explore, connect, create and communicate ideas.

For a long time, I used this tagline on all of my social profiles, but starting around 2012 or early 2013 I updated most of the bios to move away from promoting myself as an idea machine.

I decided to play down that part of my being, even though I've always been an idea machine and I recognize the value of my skill in generating and connecting ideas.

That said, I have struggled to communicate the value of my idea-generating capacity to the rest of the world.  

Needless to say, I was pretty excited to recently hear that James Altucher thinks ideas are the currency of the 21st century. I hope he’s right.

[Tweet ” I agree with @jaltucher “Ideas are the currency of the 21st century.”]

James & Claudia Altucher on Ideas

A few weeks ago, I learned that Claudia Altucher (James’ wife) had just published a book called Become an Idea Machine (affiliate link) building on James’ practice of generating at least 10 ideas a day.

At first, I was like “I don’t need to read a book about idea generation.”

I’m the person who has a pen and notepaper in the cup holder of my car so I can scribble down ideas as they come to me when I’m in the car. Some of these ideas get transferred to a moleskine that is specifically dedicated as a repository for my random ideas.

A sidebar: I’ve learned through experience that ideas I save digitally are usually lost to me, although I am trying to do a better job of tagging things in Evernote. I want my ideas in a place where I can peruse them offline. I love my tech, but I also love words on paper. Real paper. Anyway, I digress.

Around the same time as I started to remove “ideas” from my social profiles, I discovered James Altucher through Chris Brogan's podcast and read James' book Choose Yourself. [affiliate link]

For a while, I formally implemented James' 10-ideas-a-day practice, but eventually shifted back into a more random approach to recording the ideas that continuously flow through my brain.

Despite my commitment to ideas and idea-generation, I decided that perhaps others didn’t value ideas as much as I did.

At the same time I started reading James Altucher’s blog, I was repeatedly hearing others say that execution is what matters, that without execution ideas are just fluff. So I thought I’d just keep my skill at generating ideas to myself and pursue those that interested me and seemed within my capacity.

Another sidebar:Seemed within my capacity” implies a limiting belief that probably explains why so many of my ideas never got implemented. That's a limiting belief that I've eliminated over the past year.

Even though I began to change the public language I used to describe my talents, skills, interests, abilities, the fact remains that I am an idea machine and always have been. Ideation repeatedly shows up on StrengthsFinder and other similar assessments.

Claudia Altucher's Book: Become an Idea Machine

Like I said, initially, I didn’t see much reason to buy a book that helps me become an idea machine.

I already generate umpteen ideas every day. My first thought was that I need more focus, not more ideas.

But the reality is, I’m not systematic about my idea generation.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I might benefit in some way from working my way through Claudia’s 180 day plan.

One thing I’ve come to realize over the past year or so is that anything harmless that triggers a bit of psychological resistance might be something I need to take a look at.

I decided I would spend $2.99 for the Kindle version of Claudia’s book [affiliate link] and follow along. Make it a game. Use it to get my creative juices flowing around topics that I might not think to ideate about.

I've now started to formally do the 10-ideas practice based on Claudia’s topic for each day. I’m sharing these over at The Ben Franklin Follies, if you care to follow along.

I explain why I’m publishing these ideas at The Ben Franklin Follies in this post—if you're curious. Nutshell version: The Ben Franklin Follies is one of the #Shinecast multimedia projects and I'll be rolling out the various pieces over the next six weeks.

Regardless of whether or not you buy the book or care about the Shinecast…. James and Claudia Altucher are onto something…..

Ideas DO matter. Ideas have value, even without execution or “results.” It takes practice to generate ideas and more practice, in a systematic way, is likely to result in better, more useful ideas.

Creativity is like a muscle that gets stronger with use.

[Tweet “Ideas depend on creativity and creativity gets stronger with practice.”]

The practice of coming up with new ideas each day can be a valuable practice, even if you never implement the ideas. The ability to generate ideas quickly will help you solve unexpected problems when they arise—I've seen the value in my own life, especially when I've needed to improvise a situation on the fly.

I suspect that those who pooh-pooh the value of pure ideation as a skill are those who aren't very good at coming up with new ideas.

Hope you'll join me in working through Claudia's book.