Your Only As Famous As Your Last …

Originally uploaded by Mr. Frog.

How do you browse the blogosphere? Are you a fan of RSS or do you prefer to read where the mouse takes you? Are you an A-List reader or do you restrict yourself to a topic of interest?

And if you are a blogger too, then how do you build your audience, generate traffic, link-in with others with whom you share an interest or passion? How do you become known as a player rather than a spectator? What is your strategy … do you STREAK across a well-known field and take the consequences, or do you work away as one voice in the crowd?

I was thinking through all this as I read a great post today over at Ariel’s blog. It made me ask myself … is it true that NEW bloggers are only as good as their last post? Am I only as good as my last witty comment on someone else’s blog?

It’s funny in a way, this blogging lark. You can become obsessed by the number of comments and emails, site visits, statistics and entry and exit pages … but there really is some value in looking through the details. I love the way that I get visits from all over the world, from cities and towns that I have never heard of before. I love the way comments appear out of nowhere. But I am equally interested in how people arrive here and where they have come from.

Because blog content is not necessarily accessed via a chronology … the history or archive of your blog can be always present for any reader who happens to stumble upon you. So really you are only as famous as ANY post … or only as famous as your BEST post. For example, I continue to get links through to this post even though it was written some time ago. Is it my best? I can’t tell … but it certainly works for some!


Oh, and by the way … fame is always relative.

Beauty is the New Punk

Joan as Police Woman
Originally uploaded by youneedtoseethese.

I head a great radio interview this morning with Joan Wasser. She is here visiting Australia at the moment and she was talking, briefly, about her current motto — “Beauty is the New Punk”. I love it.
It is easy to think that “beauty” is skin deep … but anything truly beautiful has a profound stillness to it. The Beautiful defies both logic and emotion (sorry David), yet draws strength from them. And we may not be able to articulate it … but we know it when we EXPERIENCE it.
More to come on this, I am sure.

Small IS Important

I was thinking over the comments to this post and my brain started whirling. The original post was about the stylish way that Michael Wagner signs off his emails, and in one of the comments, Ann Handley suggested that it is important to remember the small things that make a big difference, such as signatures and sign-offs.

When I send an email, I always try and sign-off in some specific way. I will use "regards" when I want a formal but friendly ending. I use "cheers" when the spirit of the email is collaborative or when emailing personal friends. I hardly ever use "kind regards" … always seems a bit girly to me. Yet I wonder how many of my mail recipients ever notice the sign-off and the subtle differences.

Charmingsandy As I ruminated on this, it reminded me of an IM chat that I had recently with a good friend in Hong Kong, the charming Sandy Fung. I had asked her to test something for me … a web link, if I recall correctly, and she had sent me through her comments and ideas. I had just thanked her and she responded again, "my pleasure". It made me smile. It made me remember more than a collection of words … there was a flood of memories and the sound of laughter … this small remark brought the conversation to life.

It is the little things like this that are important … for brands, for communications, for work and for living life. It is the little things, the day-to-day traces of personality that make us all stand out from the crowd. They may be small but they are important … they give us our distinction.


All this and lunch too!

Originally uploaded by TurningTide Photography.

If you are ever in doubt as to Russell Davies’ generosity, then all you need to do is take a look at this post where he steps us (patiently) through a recent presentation and the thinking behind it.

There is plenty to chew on … the challenge of attention/relevance, the discontinuities of communication, the illusion of the "big idea" … and much, much more. Even in style, the post is a great piece of storytelling … you can sort of hear Russell somewhere in the background muttering something self-deprecating.

There is a section on communication and the difference between analogue and digital (in a strictly analogue sense, of course). Russell talks about the way that engagement, and our EXPERIENCE of a piece of advertising or communication works … as a series of thousands of small hooks that work together artistically (the style, casting, design, layout etc) to allow us to emotionally enter the space of the work (attitude, look, feel, tone and so on).

One of the parts that I liked most was this section …


And Russell is right (of course). Execution is strategic and innately messy/chaotic. It is nice to think that strategy is a clean and refined/refining process, but it cannot be separated from the creative and ideation process. Well it can, but the ideas and the strategies will be weaker for it. We don’t like to talk about it because it costs us money to bring them together.

We don’t like to talk about it because it is expensive AND it makes it obvious that STRATEGY is as messy and chaotic as ANY ideation process. Strategy isn’t dispensed from on-high … it doesn’t (mostly) come from a single, clear direction or idea. It tends to be circular and tangential and deemed to be "true" only when it has been walked over, pulled apart, dipped in sauce, covered in coffee and dissected with a blade. That’s right, strategy works best when it is owned by a TEAM.

As Russell says "It involves lots of people, lots of dead-ends and wastes lots of ideas. But it’s the only way to produce stuff that goes beyond the everyday run of communications" … and THAT is what it is all about.

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch? Russell seems to be serving up yet another!


Freaked Out!

Originally uploaded by sucrerose.

Got a very nice email from the charming Michael Wagner this morning. Those of you who are regular visitors to his site will be well aware that there have been very few posts over the last month or so.
The good news is that he is back, bringing his unique story-focused branding insight to the masses.

He starts with a conundrum … a story about a cow, a tiger and a sack of feed and the need to cross a river. If you have ever worked with clients, then the challenge is familiar … how do you remain focused on the outcomes you want to achieve while managing the risks and "animal instincts" of stakeholders, employees and even customers? The solution to the problem is not straight-forward … and I encourage you to read the full story.

Mike is always upbeat, and I love the way he signs off his emails … "keep creating". This morning’s email added something special … "keep creating … it freaks people out". I really like this. And it is true. Reminds me of a revelation that I had when I wanted to become a playwright — the only difference between me and a playwright is that a playwright writes. As always, it comes down to execution . Here’s to all the freaks who are out there DOING the hard work of creativity.


Are You a Weirdo?

Originally uploaded by f.p.o..

I was reading this post over at CK’s blog and was struck by the way communities organise themselves organically.

CK was talking about the community that has grown around Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Several years down the track there are pay-per-view screenings, conferences and even musical re-enactments. (And apparently the sing-a-long that CK attended was fantastic — is there any YouTube footage?)

In the comments, Ann Handley picked up on something I had said "One person’s passionate community is another’s collection of weirdos" and suggested (tongue-in-cheek) whether it could be the title of a blog post. Rather than laugh it off, I thought I would do just that … it should be up over at The Daily Fix in the next couple of days.

But it really does make you think about your own passions and interests. What would life be without a little weirdness? Relentlessly beige, I suspect. Bring back Buffy!

Update: The article is up … read it here.


The Napoleons

The world is an exciting place. No matter where you are, there is something amazing, interesting, fascinating (or infinitely boring) happening somwhere other than where YOU are. But one of the GREAT things about the Internet is that you can still, in some mediated way, engage with the world of other people’s ideas.

A great example is the recent conference (Napoleons Live in Bucharest courtesy of Headvertising) in Bucharest that featured Russell Davies, Neil Christie, Jeffre Jackson and Ben Terrett. Diana has a couple of great posts that capture the excitement, energy and interest that the Napoleons were able to generate, as well as links to other blogs as well as some of the presentations. Enjoy!


Do You Own Your Domain?

Originally uploaded by wacky doodler.

We have all heard of stories where domain names have been "stolen". Sometimes it is opportunistic, sometimes it could have been avoided, and sometimes it requires legal action to sort out.

The importance of owning your own domain is becoming more important for all businesses. And if you are just starting a new business, then you run into the challenge of finding a domain name that has yet to be claimed. So, apart from all the usual challenges of FINDING a unique name for your business, trademark and business name registration requirements and so on, you also need to carefully think about your future Internet domain name.

Once you have your domain name, you also need to remember to re-register it. The last thing you want is for your domain name to lapse and come up for sale. And while this would be terrible, it would not be as bad as the situation described in this image:

1. this house is private property, its ownership has been stolen and illegally registered under another name on the internet. It is currently under investigation. do not enter, or face prosecution.

Girlfriend Isn’t Dead (5 Step Crisis Management)

dead girlfriend
Originally uploaded by groovemonkey.

OK, seems like I am on a blog roll (oh no does that constitute a blogging pun?) … actually I have had these stored up for a few days and am just getting around to relieving my blog debt.

I was reading this great post mostly for the catchy title "Sometimes Your Girlfriend Isn’t Really Dead", and stumbled across a great description of how to manage a crisis. (Chartreuse always manages to entertain AND stretch the brain, and this post is no different — don’t forget to read the whole post.)

The five step crisis management guide advises:

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Quickly access the situation and act. Even if wrong you should do something.
  3. Ignore your minions mistakes. In stressful situations they are bound to fuck up. No big deal. Stay focused on the main task.
  4. Don’t expect gratitude. Sometimes people and companies don’t even realize how close they came to death.
  5. When the major part of the crisis is over give control back to your underlings.

Also, while reading through the comments to the article, I loved this comment from Brian Clark:

I just like the dead girlfriend story. That’s why I hang around here despite not owning or being involved in a blog network.

Good stories are the key to everything.

Couldn’t agree more Brian!


Axe for the Frozen Sea

It does my heart good to see creative energies and resources put towards making the world a better place! From time to time I see or read something that "cuts through". And in some cases it does more. On these rare occasions, I have a deeper reaction that reminds me of this great quote by Kafka (he was referring to books):

‘I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, at a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.’

It can be amazing to see how "belief" in a subject or product or service can really drive an emotional engagement right through a creative team … and the end result is often an emotionally compelling piece of work. The example below (courtesy of Brent Terrazas) was created for the Australian Childhood Foundation. Shame we have to see it online rather than on TV.