Thoughts On Personal Branding and Guest Appearances

I was thinking about why certain people are invited to share insights on podcasts and videos, while other people can be successful, but their names are unknown to most of us.

I’ve touched on it before — that you need to actually publish a lot of useful material, or no one will ever know who you are.

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A Negative Mindset Is A Luxury I Can’t Afford

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve decided that a negative mindset is the most expensive luxury there is, and it’s one that I can’t afford.

The reason I call negativity a luxury is because it consumes time, energy, and momentum that most people cannot afford to give up. This ’t to say that the wolf called Self-Doubt doesn’t come knocking on my door often — it does. But by telling this dark recess of my psyche to sod off — sometimes daily — I ’t lose the self-confidence it takes to survive in this world.

The creative industry seems to deal with imposter syndrome more than other industries. Maybe it’s because the outliers in our field, the Jobs, the Zuckerbergs, the Musks — are the people that we look up to. We believe we should be able to attain at least a portion of their success. But I’ve never seen an industry where people who are so driven are also so full of self-doubt. It’s like we have to prove our worth to ourselves and the world anew every day.

It doesn’t do us any good to measure ourselves against people whose success we want to emulate.

Recently, Gary Vaynerchuk said he doesn’t look at what the competition is doing, and he said this in an entrepreneurial sense. But it is also practical in the personal sense.

Everyone in this industry feels that they can be successful if they just work really hard, and implement the right strategies. But there are many paths to success. The trick is finding which one is yours. You can’t expect the same results as one of your heroes. It doesn’t happen like that. Each of your circumstances are different, your life experiences are different, your time frames are different, your talents are slightly different.

Competitive people are hard on themselves.

Perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse. It makes you want to excel in everything you do, but it also makes you question yourself daily. Every week on Hacker News, you can find another entrepreneur in their 20s who feels like a failure because their startup shut down. Even though 90% of startups fail, everyone believes that they should always be on one of the 10% of surviving teams. Optimism becomes expectation. If you you don’t hit a home run every time, you feel like you failed as a human being. Those are the kind of standards of people hold themselves to in this industry. It’s unhealthy.

Life isn’t easy, and neither is business. I’ve got invisible battle scars from both. I’m positive most web professionals aren’t aware of how lucky they are, or how grateful they should be.

I’m no different than others. I struggle with self-doubt. But I see many folks struggling with self-doubt that are doing better than I am right now. Maybe that’s why I don’t let myself succumb to it.

Negativity is something that can affect you, no matter what level of success you are at. But everything in your life starts with how you see yourself. I haven’t made it to The levels I want to be at yet either, so for now, negativity and self-doubt are something I can’t afford to feel.

It’s good to want more for yourself. Ambition and desire are necessary qualities to be an entrepreneur. You have to want to better yourself. But you can’t beat yourself up because you ’t getting there as fast as you think you should be. Have patience. Good things come in time. Stay your course, and know that what you feel is normal. Don’t stop fighting your inner resistance.

We all fear that we won’t become all the things that we desire to be. But we can’t wrap our self-worth up in that criteria. Talk down that negative voice in your head. Believing what that internal negative voice says is a luxury that you ’t afford either.

Building A Following, Building A Business

Building a following is a long-term game. By why do you need a following at all?

The one thing a business needs to survive is customers. Strangers become customers at the intersection of need, solution, and awareness. Your potential customers have a need. You have a solution which you can provide them. But they need to be aware of your existence and your expertise to become customers.

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Change, Acceptance and Personal Power

Setbacks are manageable. Bad things happen, and most of the time, we deal with them in a calm and rational manner. Disappointments slide off our back. We talk things out, first internally, then with someone else, and usually by then, we can accept whatever is happening a little better.

But every so often, when we’re faced with an adverse situation, when things go sideways — we take things to heart. Our feelings get hurt. We get upset, angry, or feel defeated.

Things that people do and say can get to you. Sometimes it feels like you were treated unfairly in a particular situation. Sometimes you don’t have much control over these events. But if you don’t address these feelings, they can fester inside your psyche, affecting your mood, and even the way you look at the world.

If you’re not careful — those slights, those hurts, these grievances — can become bitterness. And while you’re busy being bitter toward unfair situations, and being bitter towards people, those people that hurt you don’t even know that you’re mad or upset. And if they are aware, they might not care. They’re still going about their daily life completely oblivious to what you’re thinking and feeling. It doesn’t affect them, it only affects you.

But harboring bitterness in your heart is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies from it. It doesn’t hurt the person you’re upset with, it only hurts you.

Perhaps you try to talk out the situation with the other party, and it comes to a point where there’s nothing more you can do. You realize that you can’t control them or anyone else in this world. Not your boss, not your co-workers, not your siblings — definitely not your parents. Nope, not even your friends, spouse, baby daddy, baby mama, ex, or even your significant other.

You can’t make any of these people change their behavior or change their beliefs about the world. You can’t control what they will say or do. And you’re certainly not going to change the mindset of total strangers out in the street or on social media.

Yes, you have very little control in this world. Well — except for one person.

You can still control yourself.

If a personal situation you’re in is not a good fit, don’t agonize over it. Just walk away. No one has power over you unless you give it to them. Don’t bother arguing with people if you’re not going to be able to change their mind. It’s not worth it. It just tears you down.

These are examples on a personal level, but on a larger scale, outrage is flourishing as an industry. Aside from the real outrage in the world, you have daytime TV, the nightly news, tabloids, and talk radio — all built on outrage. Some of it is very real, and the gravity of the situations important — but a lot of it is manufactured to make you spin your wheels and waste your energy.

You only have so much energy. You have to decide what things are important, and which ones are trivial. Trivial matters shouldn’t be given the same weight as important matters in your mind, in your heart, in your world. You have to decide what situations you can affect, and which ones you can’t. You must decide what things you want to take a stand for, and which ones you don’t.

But if you want to affect something out in the world, you have to take the steps that are within your power. Use the power that you do have. Do something positive to invoke change.

But seething and complaining about things you see on TV or Twitter is pointless. When you complain without taking action, you put the power to affect your situation in someone else’s hands.

When you talk about your own life, and you say “It’s all this politician’s fault” or “It’s all my boss’ fault” or even when you blame the economy, religion, bankers, things happening overseas — this makes it very difficult to have any power over your own happiness. Because with your own words, you have given that power to someone else!

We cannot affect what other people decide to do. We only have power over what we decide to do.

Civilization is essentially the same in ancient times as it is today, and as it will be in the distant future. The technology, the fashion, the language — it all changes, but the same archetypes are still there.

Every generation thinks the world is changing around them, and that things aren’t the same as they were in “the good old days”. But why does every single generation that ever lived believe this? The world doesn’t change, our perception of it does.

The ancient philosopher Heraclites said “You can never step in the same river twice”. What he was saying is every moment in every person’s life has a unique set of conditions. Their perception of the Universe is determined by their experiences, their circumstances, and everything around them at that moment in time.

I’m 43 now, and I’ve only recently figured out that my own personal philosophies and my mindset change on a five year cycle, as I move toward whatever I put into my mind and my own belief system prior to that. Day by day, I change just a little bit.

This is why it is impossible to change another person’s belief system with just a conversation, argument, or debate. Even if your logic is sound within your own belief system, everyone else’s logic is correct to them as well.

It is difficult for people to shift their worldview because it is based on their experiences, and no matter how much you communicate to them about your experiences, it doesn’t erase what they have lived through and what they have felt as an individual.

When you challenge their viewpoints, you are challenging a part of their identity. You’re telling them that what they’ve felt isn’t real. This makes them dig in even harder on the belief system of theirs that you’re trying to influence.

You cannot control what anyone else will do or say, so any change that you bring into the world has to be done by changing yourself. Expending your energy on changing yourself goes a lot farther than worrying about how you’re going to transform other people.

The people that upset you are more than likely going to do what they intended to do originally. And no matter what you say or do, regardless of how you feel, they’re still going to follow through with their plans. You have to be OK with that. If you’re close to someone, you can try to talk to them. But when it all comes down to reality, the only person you can truly influence is you. Letting go of all your anxiety and worry about the rest will make your life at least a little easier to bear.

In any situation, you should ask, what can I do to make this better? When you come up against another person whose mind is made up — begging, threatening, pleading, debating or arguing with them isn’t going to work.

You can’t control your family members or your friends, you can only give them your input and let them decide for themselves. People you barely know and complete strangers? Yeah, good luck there. It’s not worth the energy in most cases to even get upset or argue.

You have complete control over yourself. You don’t have to control anyone else except for you.

You don’t have to worry about what other people are going to do. You only have to worry about deciding what you’re going to do.

Small Business Growth: Stagnation or Survival

Lately, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend with small business owners.

There’s a lot of knowledgeable people out there, who are really good at their work, debating whether to continue or not because they aren’t growing.

More often than not, they are losing ground to other local competition who were able to grow, and continually reinvested in their business.

The reasons why businesses fail to continue growing varies wildly. But most long-running small businesses I’ve encountered have a few common traits.

  • 1) They rely on referral-based growth, and have neglected web-based marketing for the last few years.
  • 2) They are constantly “heads-down” in their work, and haven’t budgeted time to market their business in an increasingly competitive landscape.
  • 3) They have not reinvested in their business while their competitors have.
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Teach One To Reach One

Content strategy is something you’ll hear many people talk about, but very few people actually do. That’s good news for you, since you want to be seen as an expert in your industry, and there’s more people asking questions than there are answering them.

The people in your industry that are considered thought leaders aren’t just talking because they have to say something. Those people are at the top of your field because they help people by answering their questions. This gives their customers a sense of well-being, because they understand something better than they did before.

No one likes to be confused about something. Knowledge truly is power.

If you want to bring more people into your store, or make your business the first one they think of in your industry — I’m advocating you to Teach One to Reach One.

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Thoughts On Brand Equity In The Tech Industry

Brand equity is a powerful force. It can deify or debase a brand. It takes a long time to create a reputation, either good or bad. But your brand has to perform consistently to keep it’s aura of quality. And if the mere mention of your brand holds bad connotations, that too can be rehabilitated, with a lot of work and long-term consistency.

While the examples I’ll use in this post are part of the tech culture, the ideas can be applied to brands in any industry.

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Refining How We Choose WordPress Themes

In September 2014, it was revealed that the popular plugins Slider Revolution and Showbiz Pro had a critical security vulnerability that could allow attackers to access a site’s database or take over a site.

The big problem is Slider Revolution was bundled with thousands of WordPress themes being sold on sites like ThemeForest. When themes are bundled with plugins included, those plugins don’t show available updates in the WordPress admin panel.

After the September news, it was revealed parent company Theme Punch administered a silent patch in February 2014, and later notified potential theme owners when the vulnerability was exposed. This seven month gap in public information did little to help website owners who purchased themes from ThemeForest and other marketplaces.

In December 2014, it was revealed that the Slider Revolution vulnerability was still being exploited, this time by malware injector named SoakSoak. Over 100,000 WordPress sites were infected. This means there were at least 100,000 sites that didn’t know or didn’t care about the vulnerability.

And that’s what this article is really about.

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