Where I Learn Things - Tres

Update - 8/26 - On Monday of this week I won a copy of Trust Agents from Eye View. My (already ordered) copy of Trust Agents arrived yesterday, (Tuesday). Hmmm...2 copies, What to do...?

Well why not spread the love - Because I think this book has that much value - I'm doing my very first giveaway. Leave a comment and tell me what value you find in Chris' work, (you can find my take below) and why you think you should win - i.e. how do you spread the love as it were?

The best comment wins a copy of Trust Agents and yes - shipping is included. It's that simple.

Contest ends at midnight 9/6.

Oh, and feel free to take a look around while you're here, but only if you want to.

Continuing my list of Where I Learn Things I'm going to focus today on one well known blogger. He doesn't need me to prop his work. He is already very popular, especially in the realm of social media. What's really cool about this fella, and the reason I want to share how I learn from him is though many would call him one, he doesn't act like a superstar. He's just a nice down to earth guy. Let me tell you a little bit about him.

If you follow this blog at all you know that I am a big, big, Okay HUGE fan of Chris Brogan. But you may not know how big - no really - wait.

There's a good reason for that admiration.

Chris is genuine. He's transparent. He's friendly, and he is really good at what he does i.e. maximizing methods of communication, and showing others how to do the same.

In early June of this year, while attending The Ohio Growth Summit I
had the opportunity to meet Chris and spend some time talking with him.
I then had the privilege of hearing him speak. Folks - this guy has the
goods. It may seem over the top to say it this way, but Chris is a
master of human interaction.

It's hard to write this without sounding like a gushing school girl, but I really think Chris is an awesome communicator who can, and does teach us all the way it "should be done."

To make it even better, Chris does this without asking for anything in return. Well, okay he did ask me for one thing. Chris posted a request earlier this week asking his readers to consider buying his book, Trust Agents co-authored with Julien Smith. It was the most unassuming, nicest sales pitch I think I've ever seen. Take a look. Don't have time for the whole post? Just read the introduction...

"This will probably be the most self-promoting post I’ve ever written. Skip it, if you want. I’d understand."

How could you not be impressed by a guy who gives and gives and gives, and then says "You know I need a favor, but you don't have to even listen if you don't want to?"

Thankfully, I had been meaning to buy the book for sometime. I even contacted our Collection Development division to make sure it was on their radar. I hope they buy several copies.

I just know that the book will be money well spent.

I cannot wait for my copy to get here.

Maybe you'd like to buy a copy of Trust Agents too.

Age Is Just a Number - Right?

They say that age is just a number, but I'm having serious doubts today.

I like to say I'm forever a teenager... Today I feel about 160.

Let me share the story. You know there has to be a story.

For some 40-odd years I have been trying to successfully do a front flip off the diving board, and for some 40-odd years I have failed to get past "maybe" landing on my knees and usually on my back.

I almost made it when I was in South Carolina earlier last month visiting my cousin. Look how close I came...

Yeah, no it wasn't even close.

As I said, the best I could do was land on my knees - sorta.

I could never seem to get all the way around. A silly thing I know, but something I've just always wanted to be able to do. You gotta have goals right?

So, I have continued to try and try again...

No matter the pool, no matter the season, if I had the opportunity to try to do a flip I usually would at least give it a try.

When I was in South Carolina it began to dawn on me after all these years that I needed a board with a lot more spring than is ordinarily found at public pools. After all, I was making it around to my knees there, and there had to be a reason (i.e. their board had more spring than usual), so that had to be it. (Hey, what can I say, I've never claimed to be the sharpest tack on the bulletin board.)

Fast forward to last Sunday - we were swimming with some friends from the "nayvorhood," (aka friends who live in the same neighborhood in Powell), and there was a diving board.

It didn't look to have much spring from across the pool, but I knew I would have to check it out at some point - you know, just a dive to see for sure.

"Do your flip. Jim will do a flip."

Netter caught me looking at the board. She knew exactly what I was thinking.

"Nah. I don't need to do that," I said laughing. "I'm gettin' too old for that kinda stuff."

Yeah right Jim.

The board stared at me all day, beckoning. After some time had passed and most of our friends had left I ventured down to you know just take a dive. Bravely I approached the board. One, two steps and...


Not only did this thing have spring, I had missed the center point and was now hurtling head first towards the right side of the pool. I quickly corrected, and tucked the dive in just as I felt my feet flipping over my head, thankfully as I was entering the water.

No spring my eye...

Still, I did not immediately attempt the flip. Truthfully, I kinda freaked out a little bit inside. It had been a long time since I felt out of control in the water. I wasn't sure what to make of it.

After a while though I ventured forth. After all, while a tad frightening, the spring in this board held great promise and I did have this lifelong goal to consider.

Carefully, I again mounted the ladder and positioned myself in the center of the board.

One, two...

Tuck... now turning and...

Holy Crap! I made it. I actually made it arou... SPLAT!!!!

I did make it around. I made it so far around that I started turning again - until my head and my right shoulder slammed into the water. (Apparently I always jump a little to the right.)

Slowly I swam to the ladder and got out of the pool. Netter was waiting for me, and even though it was ugly, it was a success. I wanted to know if she saw it.

"A lot springier than you thought huh?!" She said.

"That is hard water!" I exclaimed

We laughed and laughed. One of my friends was watching the dive. He laughed too. I shared the tale with my friends who had left when we met them later for dinner. We all thought it was just hilarious.

Two days later - Man I feel old. My face is okay. My shoulder... Well, I'm having a hard time reaching for my coffee cup, or raising my arm to get things out of the cupboard. I know what a shoulder separation feels like, and folks I think we've got money in the bank. I'm feeling pretty beat up indeed.

But - I accomplished that goal - and it was worth it, worth every ache, worth every one of my "160 years old." Shoulders heal after all.

Now, I just need to work on that landing.

Do you have a lifelong goal?

Tell me your story.

Where I Learn Things - Dos

Last week I started what I hope will be a regular Wednesday thing for awhile, sharing the "whys and whatnots" of the list of blogs I follow (see the sidebar of my blog).

I call this list "Where I Learn Things," because each has some influence on my life and most teach me something when I read them. None of them are "how to" blogs, but they are all thought provoking and "teach me" things along the way.

For example, I learn a great deal about social media by reading Cheryl Harrison's blog BeingCheryl Cheryl is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She's genuine and she's smart as heck. If you want to know about social media or marketing Cheryl's blog is the place to find it. Cheryl's post on LinkedIn was one of the best explanations for setting up a profile I have ever read.

(*Note - Cheryl was nice enough today to recommend me to her follower's on Twitter. So I am extra happy that I set up the end of my last "Where I Learn Things" post to lead off with Cheryl today.)

My friend Erica provides all kinds of thought provoking content on her blog Ridiculology. Check out this fun contemplation on social media and this post on the mysterious Gueek Bkead Fay. Erica provides content on a myriad number of things and you never know what you're gonna get when you visit Ridiculology. But, you do know you're going to be entertained and something is going to make you say Hmmm...? (Kinda like the Arsenio Hall show right?)

Netter found Dr. Lori's blog Loripalooza last winter using Twitter search I think. For laugh out loud funny stories and reminiscence there are few better places to read. Dr. Lori doesn't post very often, but when she does it is always entertaining. Check out this post about Gumdrops to get a feel for Dr. Lori's great story telling abilities. I also follow Dr. Lori on Twitter because she brings the same style and humor to that platform as well.

Dr. Lori's isn't the only blog I follow for great stories about family. My friends Christa and Kelly have some great stories about their kids that make me reflect on parenting and think about my relationships with my girls. It's good for a parent to consider different perspectives from time to time. Of course I find that with Netter's blog too. She often surprises me with her stories about the girls. For example, I had no idea this post about a conversation I had with D would have such an impact, but I refer back to it every time I need some inspiration to keep the glass half full, and remind myself that I'm an okay Daddy too.

I want to close today by telling about a blog that is both entertaining and inspiring. My friend Cat has had a tough year health wise, but from the stories and poems she shares on her blog you would never know it. Cat is upbeat and full of life. She's as genuine as they come, and I really admire her for that.

Cat is currently on medical leave. Do me a favor. Stop by Caterwaulling, look around for a minute, and say hello. Not only will you find interesting and compelling content, you'll find one of the greatest personalities on the planet. What more could you want?

So that's our list for this week. A list of brilliant women I learn from all the time.

Where do you learn things?

What's in a Degree?

Today, I'm thinking a lot about my degree. BA English 20th Century Narrative, (That means I'm good at bulls.. um, storytelling.)

I was a non-traditional student, graduating in 2001. I was proud of my accomplishment. Being a Dad, working full time, and going to school all at the same time was challenging to say the least.

I am more proud of my wife. Netter was pretty much a single parent, ran a household, and worked full time for the better part of 6 years. THAT was an accomplishment.

No, we can't do it alone. That's for sure...

Today though I'm not thinking about the accomplishment as much as I'm wondering why in the heck I ever got that degree in the first place.

It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Encouraged by several relatives, and my branch manager, (the legendary EP whom I dearly love) I enrolled at The Ohio State University in 1995 with great plans for the future. There were riches to be garnered. The greatest of these, of course was the degree.

Fast forward 14 years. (Dayum, that seems like a long time.) I've had my degree, and the accomplishment, (and the debt) for 8 years. I have the same job I had when I graduated. I have many riches, but of course none of them are monetary.

This is okay. I don't have any regrets.

I stayed in this job because it allowed me the luxury of being a Dad, and a coach. Watching one's children grow up is a treasure you can't measure in dollar amounts and I'm glad I had that opportunity.

My kids are older now so I'm at a turning point of sorts...

I often wonder what I want to be when I grow up, and if I'll ever use this degree. Usually when I think I have an answer something changes or life takes some turn I hadn't anticipated and I get derailed.

I'm working on being more focused. I'm good at this if I have a deadline. Not so much if I don't.

I know I'm not alone in not "using" my degree. A lot of people don't use their degree. It's not at all out of the ordinary. And...

I think that's odd...

From the time we entered school our parents told us how important it was to go to college. Is that really true?

More and more it seems I look around and find successful people who either don't have a degree or don't use their degree at all. And...

I wonder how they got to that point, how they got there, how they found success?

How do I get there? Maybe I'm there already and I just don't know it.

How did you get there? Or, are you wondering like me?


I was grouchy when I woke up this morning. I was grouchy when I got to work. I was grouchy pretty much all morning.

I didn't really tell anybody. Nope - pasted on that customer service smile and dove into the day.

Just kept telling myself -"Nobody wants to hear about your problems Jim. Just suck it up."

I'm so happy I did. It has been a really good day.

I've had encouragement from friends, props from co-workers, and smiles and compliments from customers.

The back story is not what's important. What's important is that you all helped me and I am grateful.

You made keeping it positive all worthwhile.

Thank you!

See, it really is about all of us.

The Kids Said What?

Today, I'm playing along with my friend Cammie and her Thursday theme "The Kids Said What."

It's a cool way of remembering and sharing all of the cute things kids say when they are little that I won't get to play very often because I have teenagers who said all those cute things before there were blogs to record them in, and now only say things like: "Daddy, can I have some money?"

Recently however, we've had a couple of cute moments.

I'll start with D.

Two Sundays ago I slept until about 4:30 + or - (jealous Cammie?) in the afternoon. When I woke up, Annette and Delaney wanted to go to breakfast/lunch/dinner at Crackerbarrel. I think we called it "brlunner."

Anyway, I needed a shirt to wear, knew I wasn't going anyplace else that day and thought it would be a good idea to wear something different, something I hadn't worn in a while.

I reached way in the back of my closet and pulled out an OSHA orange Tommy Hilfiger shirt with a blue collar, blue sleeve cuffs, (what do you call those on a short sleeved shirt), and a piece of green material under the buttons.

Yeah this was a pretty old shirt, but it was one of my favs way back when so I put it on to go to brlunner.

"What's with the shirt?" D said when I went downstairs.

In retrospect I should have known. Like most Dads my girls alternate between wanting to steal my clothes and wishing I would wear something, anything else than what I have on. D usually falls in the latter camp.

She didn't say much else, but just kept looking at me with eyes that were almost chanting:

"What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt? What's with the shirt"

About halfway through brlunner I looked down and thought to myself:

What's with the shirt?

I washed it and put it in the goodwill bag when I got home.

Thanks D!

Last week Thursday we visited K at the fair. She couldn't wait to take us to one vendor who was selling CD's where cartoon characters sing your child's name a number of times within the context of their regular songs. Veggie Tales and Sesame Street are the popular choices.

K's favorite is Elmo. Yes, she is 16.

Yes her younger sister was laughing at her the whole time.

No, I cannot adequately explain the sheer joy you could hear as K jumped up and down listening to Elmo sing her name.

I was taken back in time as I heard my little girl say: "Elmo said my name Daddy. Elmo said my name," all the while jumping up and down ecstatically.

The Kids said what?

Where I Learn Things

I subscribe to a weekly email newsletter from Chris Brogan that provides a more personal perspective on social media. Monday, Chris had a great idea about sharing. In the sidebar of my blog there's a whole list of blogs I read and follow that I call "Where I Learn Things." You may have noticed this list. You might have even followed a link or two. Today, I'd like to share more about few of the blogs on my list, and how they influence me - you know "the whys and whatnots."

Each week I'll try and share more of my list. Perhaps you could share your list with me too, and then we can share our lists with everybody, and then they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. (70's flashback commercial moment there - sorry.)

Oh, and before I forget Go subscribe to Chris' newsletter. If you're interested in effective use of social media Chris should be one of your primary resources. He's also a heckuva nice guy who cares about his audience. He even makes this old geek feel important, and relevant in a land I've only been a part of for about a year.

More about my list - For flat out grins and laughter, with a touch of what life is like for all of us sometimes, I read Cammie's blog at The House of No Sleep. A warning to the fellas, Cammie talks about some girly stuff from time to time, but after reading this post - I couldn't not tune in everyday to follow the goings on in The House of No Sleep.

I started following the thoughtLEADERS blog after I saw Mike Figliuolo speak at the 2009 Ohio Growth Summit. I was really impressed with his talk about leadership and I could tell he would be someone I could learn from. Netter had kind of an "I told you so" moment here as she had been following Mike for quite some time on Twitter, and knew before I did how impressed I would be. Yep. You got me Honey.

Another blog I've been following pretty closely lately belongs to Ms. Single Mama. Though I am not single, and I am not a Mama I have been really touched by this blog. It is just a well written, positive commentary about life and the things we can accomplish if we believe in ourselves and don't give up. I haven't yet met the author of this incredible story, but I sure would like to someday.

I have been fortunate enough to meet and have coffee with the authors of two other blogs I've added to my list since the Ohio Growth Summit. I'm working on another post about those meetings, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go read their blogs in the interim.

Nate Riggs is a master at communicating and connecting, especially for business marketing. Everytime I read one of Nate's posts I come away thinking - Wow! That's a great idea. How can I do something like that myself, or how can I improve what I'm doing from what Nate just taught me?

Angela Siefer founder of The Shiny Door is a social media genius who is jazzed about making the power of the online world accessible to everybody. Need an inspiring story - Check out Angela's.

See, I told you.

I want to close today by telling you about somebody who keeps falling in and out of my list because he only blogs intermittently. I wish he would blog more, and more consistently. (Maybe he'll get the hint if I call him out here? ;-) Gregor is not only a fellow geek, he is also a mentor and friend, who is very focused on finding ways to get things done more efficiently, and more importantly seeing that they are done with positive outcomes.

Greg and I were talking a few weeks ago and discussing the importance of relationships in social media, about building positive outcomes, and keeping things balanced. We talked about how much we love the conversations we find ourselves in on Facebook, or Twitter, or even here in blog land, sharing thoughts, and ideas, and...

Hmmm... Sharing - just like Mom taught us. It really is a good idea.

What do you want to share today? Tell me about the list of folks you follow.

Shout to the Lord

Netter has been chronicling K's great adventure over at Practically Netter, but I wanted to share this from our visit to the fair yesterday.

They really got me with this one. From 1:22 on it got pretty misty - yeah misty.