8 Random Things About Me

Ling 8
Originally uploaded by vertigini76

Ryan tagged me on the 8 random things meme, so here they are:

  1. I have always loved cars and motorbikes. (Actually boats too.) I have owned a string of motorbikes on and off since I was in my teens … and in my early 20s spent every weekend touring around the Australian countryside. There truly is something wild about one’s state of being whilst riding.
  2. I also love storms. As a teenager I was fascinated by storms and at the first hint of rough weather I would head out into the lake near my home or to the beach to watch the fury of nature. Brilliant. Scary. Like life.
  3. When I first left school I worked as a trainee accountant and studied at night time.
  4. I used to be quite an avid rockclimber. Then, a few years ago, I visited one of my favourite climbing venues only to find that I was quite frightened of looking down.
  5. My most nervous blogging moment was just before leaving my first comment on Russell Davies’ blog.
  6. I would like to think that I am as good looking as Luc.
  7. I still like to listen to Michael Jackson’s music, especially the songs by the Jackson 5, but always wonder what happened to that little boy.
  8. Biggest blogging high was receiving a comment from Johnnie Moore.

Crash Course in Internet Marketing

sign 24 hour
Originally uploaded by Leo Reynolds

Mark Blair set himself an interesting challenge … could he dose himself up on caffeine and spend 24 hours straight marketing The Age of Converation?

The results are fascinating. Not only does Mark achieve this outcome, along the way he teaches us all about some of the cool, useful and downright unsual Internet marketing tools available. Included in this list are:

There are many other tactics that Mark uses and explains across the entire day. Make sure that you check out some of these tips.

Oh, and don’t forget to order your copy today!

A Bird in the Hand?

Originally uploaded by servantofchaos

Well not exactly, a bird, but a book!

My hard cover version of Age of Conversation arrived today and it looks and feels fantastic.

Well, to tell the truth, I ordered this pre-publication proof a while ago so that we could test the quality and the printing. As a result, this version is slightly different to those now on sale. Does this make it a collector’s edition?

By now, some of you will be receiving your hard and soft cover orders and feeling a little of what Drew and I feel … a sense of pride and satisfaction at being able to look through (and carry around) a quality business book that we had a hand in creating.


The Conversation Just Got Personal

Lori Magno + Ryan Barrett
Originally uploaded by Moda di Magno

I love that we are already seeing some Age of Conversation authors appearing on Flickr with copies of the book. Here we have Lori Magno and Ryan Barrett proudly displaying their copies.

Meanwhile, Paul McEnany is offering up a free hardcover copy for ONE lucky reader who reports back to him on their favourite Age of Conversation chapter. Not to be outdone, Sean Howard has upped the ante, and is offering FIVE copies of this ground-breaking book for the five WORST comments he receives. Now THAT is transparent converation!

Nothing like a bit of friendly competition …

The First Word on the Age of Conversation

Age of Conversation
Originally uploaded by servantofchaos

Today 102 other contributors and I proudly launch our collaborative book, The Age of Conversation. Pulled together by Drew McLellan and I — with special assistance from David Armano, Arun Rajagopal, David Reich, Matt Dickman, CK and Roger Anderson — it represents what we consider to be a world first — bringing together over 100 marketing experts under the single topic of "conversation" — in record time — from idea to completion in around THREE MONTHS!

Not only did the contributors band together, they also willingly put aside their royalties so that the profits from sale can be donated to Variety, the Children’s Charity.

The book comes in three versions — eBook, soft cover and hard cover. Each contributes around $8 per purchase to the charity.
You can purchase your copy here.

Oh, and remember, this is just the start. Follow-up and join the conversation at our blog or at our Facebook group.

I would like to also personally thank my co-conspirator, Drew McLellan, who has proven to be a wise, generous and energetic friend. I look forward to working on our next collaborative effort!

The Global Age of Conversation

Originally uploaded by servantofchaos

When Drew and I began this project, we secretly hoped that it would be global. Sure there would be contributors from the USA and from Australia where we were each based … but what about the rest of the world?

I am pleased to say that we have contributors from all over the world — and this alone makes launching a challenge. So while we in Sydney experience Monday, 16 July earlier than most others, we don’t actually launch until 9pm. In the meantime, check out where all the authors are from using this cool Google Map, with thanks to Matt Dickman for pulling it all together.

The Honour of Visiting and the Challenge of Staying

Uluru/Ayers Rock
Originally uploaded by Fiona @ Monbulk Travel

Some years ago I rode across Australia on a motorbike with the aim of visiting Uluru. With a group of friends I had been working through the Australian Reconciliation Council’s self study workbook and wanted to take this further. I wanted to visit "the dead heart".

It took five days riding in the middle of winter to get there — and they were long days. It was bitterly cold, the towns were far apart and the physicality of riding was exhausting. Stopping at each town for petrol, I would stumble into the shop (sometimes the only one in town), hope for a cup of warm soup and a heater and then trudge numbly back for the next stint. When I arrived, finally at Yulara, the town closest to Uluru, I was relieved and thankful to be able to rest and not ride — there were five days ahead of me and I did not know what to expect.

As you approach Uluru the road turns away so that the rock disappears from your direct vision, and as you take the last turn into the carpark, you sweep around toward the base of the rock and the sheer size overwhelms you. It literally towers over you, suprises you, makes you gasp. No wonder the traditional owners believe it is a magical place. But what I was not prepared for was the lushness of the surroundings … you see Uluru captures vital rainwater and channels it into billabongs scattered around the base. Far from being a barren and dry desert area, Uluru supports a vibrant and energetic ecosystem … I was beginning to understand that on this trip nothing was as it seemed — and that complexity lay only just below the surface.

When most people visit Uluru they seek to climb it. To conquer its scale. It is, after all, no mean feat to actually visit — it is located in the very heart of the world’s largest island, takes a long time to reach and a significant amount of money/effort. But there is one caveat. One request, clearly and politely articulated by the traditional owners — don’t climb. There are plenty of other activities — guided and unguided walks, bush tucker treks, spear throwing demonstrations, storytelling and much, much more. Yet bus load after bus load of people line up to scale Uluru. The site of this saddened me.

During one of the many walks that I took around the base, I was told by one of the local elders that the average length of visit was one day. One day? I couldn’t believe it! Fly in, champagne sunset and fly out. Yet there was so much to learn … in one day I had only been able to walk around the base once, hear some stories, meet a couple of the local rangers/caretakers and spend an hour comtemplating the stillness and solitude by a cold, cold billabong in the shadow of the rock. One day was no time at all!

The next day I returned for more tours — there was bush tucker and ghost stories. It was the sharing of public law — the abridged version of Dreamtime stories that can be shared with the uninitiated. The young Aboriginal man telling the story relived the fear of the Devil Dog in every sentence, his eyes burning bright, his smile wide and his sense of trepidation palpable. This was a sacred story. But a sacred story for beginners — us. We were visitors, guests — but we would be gone in hours — there was no need to go too deep. It was clear that we were not honouring the land.

On the third day, approaching the car park, the rangers passed by in their truck. Recognising my bike they flashed their lights and waved. They were amazed. Pleased … well more than that … they were excited. They loved that someone stopped for a moment, listened, took some care. I was already undergoing some strange metamorphosis, like I had ingested thousands of kilometres of space and was floating in the wild silence of the desert — for while there was certainly a rough beauty in the smallest plant, it was also clear that death could come quickly and unexpectedly for those unused to the conditions.

By the fourth day, the rangers and I were friends. During tours they would take me aside and show me special things … small plants, the tracks of a kangaroo or centipede, the berries of a hardy desert tree — or encourage me to experience the lemon tang taste of an ant’s behind. My small investment of time changed the tenor of my entire experience — and the welcoming was generous and warm and overwhelming. But it was equally clear that there were problems.

Two hundred years of disadvantage, poverty and isolation had taken its toll on the community. And for every success — and there are many — there were also failures, problems and dangers. The same people who would passionately and generously share stories and culture in the day could be seen, later, desperately drunk, bored and lost. Despite the strength and pride of the Aboriginal culture it could not protect some from the self-destructive behaviours that grow out of institutionalised disenfranchisement. But where did the blame lay? How did this happen? And what could be done about it?

It is many years since my visit to Uluru, yet the experience remains with me. It haunts me. It energises me. It lives as a sad shadow in my consciousness but also as a symbol of a shared future.

On the way back I shared breakfast with a fellow motorcyclist who worked in an Aboriginal community. We talked about my experience and he shared his deeper, longer and more protracted experience. He smiled at me and said., "It is complicated … you have obviously been working in the communities?". No … just a visitor. "There are no easy answers", he said.

As we speak, the Australian Government has launched an initiative that seeks to unilaterally change the way that "troubled" Aboriginal communities operate. And there is no doubt that there are troubles … but the issues, the root causes, go far deeper than a quick fix. They lie outside of the realm of "financial assistance" or "DEP" or any political doctrine. The noblest of causes can be implemented in ways that ignore the needs of those MOST affected … and the best intentions can also be perceived as a form of imperialism. We can neither proscribe change nor ignore obvious issues. There is only a fine line to walk between the two. But what is manifestly true, is that we are ALL impoverished when our brothers and sisters are diminished. I am all for action … but not at any cost

I’m Back There Somewhere

Well it looks like we are almost done with the Age of Conversation preparation. Final changes have been made, files sent around the world, versions compared and links updated. The blog is setup, the storefront is nervously awaiting the avalanche of demand … and if you are like me, there is more than just a little pent-up excitement building.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my pre-launch proof sitting on the dining room table last night — and between you and me — it looks tops!
Now, I look forward to digging into my favourite blogs, replying to emails and (dare I say it) adding to my music blog (in case you have not seen it yet, take a listen to this beautiful song!