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December 2017

4 posts from January 2018

How the professionals find blogging topics, from Katy Katz at Search Engine Journal

I highly recommend this entire article if you do anything type of topic-oriented writing. It will take me days to chew through all the ideas I found for "loyalty." She mentions BuzzSumo, which is great, but the biggest find for me was "Answer the Public." 

Search Engine Journal: How to Spy on Your Customers to Get Blog Ideas, 2017-Dec-12 by Katy Katz 

There quite a few tools that do a great job of collecting disparate contextual information from across the web and condensing it into bite-size chunks of information that marketers can use to supplement their keyword research.

Some are paid, and some are free, and they all offer their own benefits and drawbacks.

Here are a few of my favorite tools: Answer the Public (https://answerthepublic.com)

This was one of the original long-tail research tools, and it’s entirely free!

One of the really cool things about this tool is the data visualization that it produces around your keyword....

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Seth Godin's 4 elements of entrepreneurship

Hmm, there's my weak spot... Number 3

Blog: The four elements of entrepreneurship, 2018-Jan-16 by Seth Godin

And what do people do when they’re acting like entrepreneurs?

1. They make decisions.

2. They invest in activities and assets that aren’t a sure thing.

3. They persuade others to support a mission with a non-guaranteed outcome.

4. This one is the most amorphous, the most difficult to pin down and thus the juiciest: They embrace (instead of run from) the work of doing things that might not work.

As far as I can tell, that’s it. Everything else you can hire.

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Learning about productivity from Cory Doctorow

I completely understand Cory's problems in managing multiple projects. I don't agree about the limits he finds, though. I'm always on the lookout for new projects and friends that offer a fresh angle on stuff I'm already doing, like growing a new root. 

I also find Facebook very problematic but I have to keep looking over the wall because so many of my friends are sharing there. I wonder how to get more people to at least copy and keep some of their writing and sharing separate from Facebook and Instagram. 

Locus Magazine: How to Do Everything (Lifehacking Considered Harmful), 2017-Nov-6 by Cory Doctorow 

...after getting rid of the empty calories in my activity diet, I had to start making hard choices.

In retrospect, I observe that the biggest predictor of whether an activity surviving winnowing is whether it paid off in two or more of the aspects of my life and career. If something made me a better blogger – but not a bet­ter novelist and activist – it went. The more parts of my life were implicated in an activity, the more likely I was to keep the activity in my daily round.

Some of these choices were tough. I have all but given up on re-reading books... 

Some social media tools – like Facebook – make for fun (if problematic) socializing, and all social media pays some dividend to authors who are hoping to sell books and activists who are hoping to win support, but Twitter also teaches me to be a better writer by making me think about brevity and sentence structure in very rigorous ways (and from an activist perspective, Twitter is a better choice because it, unlike Facebook, doesn’t want the web to die and be replaced by its walled garden) – so Twitter is in, and Facebook is out....

...the only activities left in my day serve double- and triple-duty. There is virtually no moment in my working day that can cleanly be billed to only one ledger.

The corollary of this is that it gets much, much harder to winnow out activities over time. Anything I remove from the Jenga stack of my day disturbs the whole tower.

And that means that undertaking new things, speculative things that have no proven value to any of the domains where I work (let alone all of them) has gotten progressively harder, even as I’ve grown more productive. Optimization is a form of calcification. 

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Purpose = behavior, as David Allen and Neil Perkin remind us

Articulating a company's purpose may or not be a good idea. What's essential is acting with purpose. One of the things I like about David Allen's Natural Planning Model, which I keep in my notebook at all times, is the first point: 

"Why is this being done? What would "on purpose" really mean?"

Only Dead Fish: Personalising Purpose, 2017-Dec-1 by Neil Perkin

A powerful purpose can be a hugely motivating call to arms for staff and create exceptional competitive advantage, but this only really happens when employees don't just see the words on the walls of the company reception, but see it in the actions of the people and leaders around them and actually feel connected to it. The real value comes from connecting with hearts rather than minds. ... 

One of the simplest ways to do this is to put your people in front of customers and for them to actually talk to them rather than read about them in research reports or observe them remotely from behind a screen in a focus group lab. That opportunity to hear directly about the impact (good and bad) of what you're doing creates the kind of unique connection with the work that can't come from anywhere else.

So many businesses talk about being customer-centric, so few leaders actually get out of the office and meet with real customers.