The Perfect Gift for a Man

cover According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the current suicide rate for men in Australia is more than three times the rate of women. But research shows that encouraging men (and young men in particular) to share their feelings and their experiences has a huge impact on their health and wellbeing.

It was with this in mind that back in July, fresh from our efforts around the Inspire Foundation’s #Manweek campaign, Mark Pollard and I decided to TRY to make a difference. Sure, there were some great blog posts written by men, for men – but how many people were we reaching? How many men in crisis were reading our blog posts? We needed to find another way.

Putting our heads together, we hit upon the idea of a self-published book. came to the rescue, providing an easy way for us to design, publish and distribute the book. But then – it was a matter of stories.

Putting the call out, we asked for other men to join us – sharing your thoughts on a blog is one thing – but committing them to print is quite another (plus we needed various disclaimers and so on) – so we didn’t know who would respond.

In the end, 30 writers heeded the call. The resulting book is a compilation of stories about reinventing manhood. It follows the life-arc of a man, from its beginnings through the trials and tribulations, challenges and jubilations that we all face.

The spirit of honesty that pervades the book will break your heart and allow it to be forged anew – for far from being a collection of stories of desperate lives, it is a grudging acknowledgement of the double-edged joy that life truly is.

As Scott Drummond writes:

If I’ve learned anything through all this it is that there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for how to be a man in this crazy and unpredictable emotional tornado we call life. The only thing we can really be assured of is that life will continue to change for us all, regardless of how much we wish it wouldn’t. All I know is that how you grow and evolve as a man to meet the challenges that life will inevitably throw at you is what really counts. I’ve learned that no matter how alone or broken you feel there are men and women who care enough to be there for you, to help you feel less broken and alone.

It is in this spirit of connectedness that we are excited to now make this book, The Perfect Gift for a Man, available. Please buy it for the men in your life – regardless of whether you THINK they need it or not. Encourage them to read it and to share it with their mates, with their uncles, fathers and sons.

You can buy the printed book from or you can purchase the eBook version from The Perfect Gift for a Man website. ALL the profits from the book are being donated to The Inspire Foundation.

You can also find out more about the book and see our social media release here.

The Servant of Chaos – Four Years On

On October 17, 2005, my first post on the Servant of Chaos blog went live. It was a poem and a position. It was a statement of intent. My aim was to write 999 theses – small entries each day. Obviously this has changed – and it comes down, largely, to those who read and comment here. I am constantly amazed by the smart, generous and passionate voices that I read and humbled and excited to when given the opportunity to meet in the flesh.

Four years on, and my first post seems just as pertinent today. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing your thoughts.

We begin with a rant. A rumble. A shout. There is more in the mind, more on the fingertips, more spilling from the edges of our quivering lips than can fill the words of a thousand weblogs.
The diaries of the insane, the newly repossessed, the righteous, the deluded, and yes, even I.
The daily diatribe of the left, the right, the religious and informed brooks no argument.
But we will give them one.
You and I.
We will give them one.
There are more to the words of consumers than the corporations expect.
We huddle in groups, in chat rooms.
We explode on the keyboards of a million call centres.
Our imagination is unheard of. Our thoughts cancel out the process.
We are your hearts and your minds.
We are everywhere, all places, all over the shop.
In your blood, at your workplace.
Serving you tea.
Writing you emails.
We don't really want to, for this is who we are.
A new opportunity opens every day.
It opens with the page.
The pen.
Another rant.
In control? Hell no!
We are in slavery to the chaos of our lives.
This is the manifesto of one.

What’s Your Story? Here’s Part of Mine

Mirror, mirror on the wall - who is the most beautiful in the whole country ?I don’t know about you, but I find it REALLY hard to write about my #1 client (ie me). No matter whether you are looking at my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter profile, the presentations that I have released on Slideshare, or my About page, it feels that nothing quite comes close to capturing my real story. There is always something missing. Some hook left un-baited.

A little while back I created a page where I can keep track of my various online activities. It doesn’t tell a story. At least not in words. It speaks of participation and engagement. It speaks of outcomes – things that I have achieved and am proud of. And, of course, each item, each link, has a story, a drama that could fill a novel. But we are short of time, breath, energy and attention. Our lives are reduced to links on a screen.

But today I am profiled in the Digital Ministry’s Digital People section. Denise Shrivell from MediaScope asked some interesting questions that really got me thinking – and gave me the space to play with the answers. It helped me fill in the gaps between the links – that otherwise makeup our digital careers. I hope you enjoy it.

But what about you? What’s your story – and how do you best tell it?

Calling all Authors – It’s the Age of Conversation 3

Please come in.Back in 2007 it was a struggle to explain to people what “blogging” was all about. At dinner parties, people would grill me about blogging, about its relevance to business and about the weirdness of writing for a handful of readers. So when Drew McLellan and I decided to try and pull together 100 of the world’s most thoughtful and articulate marketers to share their experiences (both professional and individual) about blogging, we didn’t know what to expect. Could we REALLY turn it into a book?What would the content be like? How many people would actually DELIVER their chapters? How would the book be received?

Well, it’s over two years later. The book that we published, The Age of Conversation, spurned a follow-up edition, The Age of Conversation 2: Why Don’t They Get It. We grew the author base from 100 to 237. We were mentioned in the press and on blogs around the world, and even made the reading list for undergraduate marketing courses across the US. In the process, we raised well over $20,000 for charity (all proceeds from the first two books were donated to Variety the Children’s Charity).

Age of Conversation 2Much has changed in the last two years. New platforms, tools and approaches have been tried. Some remain, many have fallen by the wayside. Businesses, public and private organisations and Not For Profits of all shapes and sizes are dipping their toes into the conversational water; agencies and independent consultants are wading in (some taking the full body immersion option); and together – often in spite of our best practices and efforts – we are ALL learning that there is much more to “social media” and its impacts than we could have first imagined.

Sure there are some success stories, but we are a long way from consensus.

It is in this landscape that we are launching a call for authors for a NEW collaborative book – The Age of Conversation 3. The approach remains the same as the previous editions. Each author will be able to submit one 400 word article. To make sure the content is varied and to avoid repetition, we've created 10 section topics. Each author will select one topic and then direct the content of their submission accordingly. There will be a maximum of 30 authors per section.

The sections you can write for are:  

  1. Conversational Branding
  2. Influence
  3. Getting to Work
  4. Corporate Conversations
  5. Measurement
  6. In the Boardroom
  7. Pitching Social Media
  8. Innovation and Execution
  9. Identities, Friends and Trusted Strangers
  10. Conversation at the Coalface (If you work at the coalface, you deal with the real problems and issues, rather than sitting in a office discussing things in a detached way.)

As you have probably figured out, we are capping participation at a maximum of 300 authors. So if you want to join what has become a global publishing event, you will need to MOVE FAST. You can sign up HERE.

What’s in it for you?

Your contribution to The Age of Conversation places you in esteemed company. Many of our past collaborators are well known authors in their own right, are respected thought leaders in a range of fields (from marketing through NFP, within the enterprise, in education and as business leaders) or distinguish themselves as community leaders in other ways.

Your article will appear in what we think will be one of the must-read books of 2010. If you have not been published before, this is your chance to collaborate on a business book with a global audience. There will be link love (to your blog or website), there will be opportunities to raise your profile via podcast, interviews and even book readings – and you will be raising money for a worthwhile charity.

In return, you will be asked to sign an author release:

  1. The author release will bind you to promoting the book on your blog, Twitter and other social tools. If you cannot commit to helping us promote the book, please don’t ask to participate.
  2. You handover your rights to your article and in return we will donate all proceeds to charity.
  3. This time, we are going to let the authors vote on the charity that will receive the proceeds (with some help from Beth Kanter)
  4. You commit to submitting your entry by November 1, 2009.

Wait! Hasn’t it all been said already?

At the time of the first Age of Conversation, Todd Andrlik’s Power 150 list of social media and marketing blogs really only had 150 entries. These days, now under the auspices of Charlie Moran at Ad Age, the Power 150 boasts over 1000 entries. Not only are MORE blogs being created, more writers are emerging with unique perspectives and new insights. There has never been a better time to be part of this global conversation. What are you waiting for? SIGN UP HERE.

Blogging for Small Business

Convience StoreI am often asked whether the strategies, ideas and approaches discussed here on my blog can be applied to small business. The answer, in the best marketing speak, is “yes” and “no”.

For while it is easy to get caught in the endless repetition of strategic planning, creating a continuous digital strategy can be quite fast. If you know what you are doing, you can knock it over in a lazy afternoon. Unfortunately, you can also easily fall into the state of “analysis paralysis” – where you are unable to shift beyond one part of a process due to the volume of information you are trying to assimilate. My advice is to start as SMALL as you possibly can.

DialupGuideToBlogging However, if you really are a small business and you want to get started with blogging – AND you want to do it in a way that is SCALABLE, can help you GROW your business and delivers RESULTS, then my advice would be to check out The Dialup Guide to Blogging.

I wrote this short (43pp), easy-to-read guide to blogging with the individual in mind – but the lessons and approaches apply equally to the small business. No matter whether your brand is personal or business, there is plenty to learn, and the book covers all the bases of digital strategy as well as the all important DOING IT part:

The book takes you through the practical steps of establishing your blogging objectives, creating domain names, signing up for a blog, creating your online "footprint" and writing your first posts. It is a must for anyone wondering HOW to get started.

And the best part – you can get it as a soft cover for those who are interested in “digital” but prefer non-digital books. Oh, and there is a downloadable eBook version too – for those too impatient to wait for delivery.

Getting Started with Social Media at #mktgnow

dialupbloggingbook-210x300 I have had a great day speaking at the MarketingNow conference. I have also had the great opportunity to hear Darren Rowse, Laurel Papworth and Simon Young. Later this afternoon, Jim Stewart will talk about video (looking forward to this!).

Tomorrow we will be treated to four hours of David Armano, a workshop from Stephen Johnson and a panel discussion. I think there are STILL tickets! Come on down if you can make it.

After my talk, I was asked about the nuts and bolts of getting started with social media. While I will be posting my slides to slideshare in the next day or so, not everyone wants to read slides or spend time clicking through online decks. For those who would prefer to read a book – you can take a look at my Dialup Guide to Blogging book. It is a short, focused read and could be just what you need!

See Me Speak at the MarketingNow Conference

Some organisations are beginning to experiment with social media, while others feel that they are well advanced in their efforts. But if you are like me, you will know that there is always something new to learn or a new approach to consider.

Gavin Heaton speaking at MarketingNow! Conference in Melbourne So, in a couple of weeks, there is a fantastic opportunity to hear from some leading social media practitioners. The MarketingNow! Conference in Melbourne is presenting two days of intensive training and interactive workshops with:

  • David Armano: Talking on “social media for social good” and “social business design” (you’re going to hear a whole lot more on this). It is a real coup to have David speaking here in Australia and a rare opportunity for local marketing, advertising and planning folk to see him and his well-known visualisations up close.
  • Darren Rowse: Probably the most prominent blogger in the country, Darren will be leading a Blogging 101 and Twitter workshop. I’m looking forward to this one myself!
  • Stephen Johnson: Will be bringing an agency focus with a workshop on building brand advocates and monitoring social media.
  • Laurel Papworth: Will be digging into social media measurement and ROI – so that you will be ready to get back in the office and start your business plan asap!
  • Jim Stewart: Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine? So if your social media strategy does not include a healthy dose of video, you are most probably missing a ton of opportunity. Get the lowdown on best practice video blogging from someone who knows.
  • Simon Young: Want to know how to actually make social media work within your business? Simon kicks off the two days and covers all the bases. Note to self: Make sure to get there on time!
  • Gavin Heaton: Yes, that’s right. Here’s your chance to ask me any question you want! I will be running a workshop on lead generation and community management – but want to make sure this topic works for you! Come armed with your questions or challenges – or better yet, drop me a comment and I will see how best I can incorporate your needs into the workshop.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for networking and discussion.

But WAIT! There’s more!

Just when you thought that there could be nothing more exciting or more useful to your social media efforts … I should also let you know that the conference is FREE. For a minimum donation of $100 to Thankyou Water or The Starlight Children’s Foundation, you get FREE access to this great conference. Two days of gold. REGISTER HERE online.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

5 peso coin circa 2001 - frontI must admit to quite liking this early-in-the-week recap. And while there is plenty of material out there to be read, it goes to show how difficult it can be to create reliably compelling content. This week’s must-read posts each had something that stayed with me long after the initial scan. Hope you like them.

  1. Julian Cole explains why there is much interest (and opportunity) in Facebook with a nice case study about his own use of a Fan page to promote the band, Grinspoon
  2. David Armano reveals social media’s 10 dirty little secrets. Go on, own up to your own 😉
  3. Zoe Scaman shares “living pixels” – outdoor media made of living plants. Perfect for brands such as the Toyota Prius
  4. Great banner spotted by Ashley Ringrose – by IBM. Seriously.
  5. Interesting post by Iain Tait reminding us to think about the tone of voice that we use in our writing – and how it can sometimes, unexpectedly, change