(Some light reading with a take away in view of the holiday, for as we all know, all too well: Business never sleeps. Have a great 4th of July Independence Day celebration for those in the U.S., while also remembering why we have it to begin with. -Mark)
As many of you well know when it comes to spelling I’m the first to admit my challenges. When it comes to punctuation? Let’s just say “challenged” may be putting it politely. However, with that said, I have now published well over a million words in nearly 1000 long form articles. This is the equivalent of writing and publishing approximately 35 hardcover business books in less than 10 years.
Of those more than 1/2 have either run, re-run, referenced, or my name used in some of the biggest stories in tech, finance, buy-outs, and a few more, across the globe, and yes, in some of the premier foreign news outlets also.
My blog is routinely still visited on average by at least 10 differing countries daily. The total is now well over 175. As of this writing that has not changed, in other words, if it were a fluke it would have shown itself to be such over the years. By definition – it has proved itself to be just the opposite.
It’s both fair too say, as well as accurate: more often than not, at any time, someone, somewhere, around the globe, is reading my writings or insights in one form or another.
That’s not too shabby when I put it like that, is it?
It’s even better when I can prove not only it being true, but also know I’m not blowing smoke up my own, never-mind others. For as it’s been said, “For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Once I fully understood the true meaning behind that small parable (I’m not pushing religion, I’m implying finding inner wisdom) clarity in many areas appeared and I’ve been able to stay both clear, as well as ahead, in many areas others are still bogged down in. Too me – they’ve been doing nothing more than chasing their tail. Some background:
When I first started writing I had no idea where it would go, especially given my clear disadvantages when it came to practicing the actual craft. As those who’ve been with me from the start know my “big break” happened when one of my own business heroes, Seth Godin decided to launch near the beginning of the decade something entirely new on the web in the form of a business magazine called “UpMarket.” I was always a fan of Seth’s work and his “pick yourself” mantra, so, I did just that, sent a sample – and was picked.
Suddenly there I was with my business insights right next to Seth’s. It was a surreal experience is all I’ll say.
Let me also add this, because it’s something that needs to be understood, for far too many always want to think, “Sure, that worked for them, It’ll never work for me.” Here’s a real example why that thinking is nonsense. Case in point:
Think of all the people who follow Seth, especially the amount of authors and business people (targeted audiences it could be assumed) who also write that must have jumped at the chance to the same open call as I did. And yet, I got picked.
Again: It would have never happened had I not bought into his original mantra of “picking yourself” first. How many of you pick yourself first as to not try? Think about it.
But once one picks oneself? That’s the easy part and is now over. For as Seth has also iterated: Now, you must do the work – even when no one’s watching. I’ll just add – especially when no one’s watching. Why? Because, this is where problems begin to manifest such as when too many resort to what I and others have called “vanity press” aka Social Media for validation.
I must make clear: I have never stated, nor would I, that social media is worthless. Far from it. However, what I am on the record stating is this: You can fall prey very easily into believing you’re actually creating any impact other than racking up “likes” that are worth nothing more than standing in front of a mirror and saying “I like myself” as many times. Yes, it may make you feel good at the moment, but what have you truly accomplished? Truly think about it, don’t let that point be lost. Yes, it’s that important.
I’ve also given speeches, written, and more expressing (to the horror of many) when I’m asked a question such as “How many hits does your website get?” I reply “I don’t know, nor do I care.”
That’s when the room goes silent.
If someone has brought me into a closed meeting and I say it? That’s when not only the room goes silent, but the party that brought me begins to visibly sweat, or just goes blank.
But why make such a statement? After all, isn’t it all about “hits?” Well, yes, and no. Let me explain:
As I’ve repeated more times than grains of sand: It’s not “hits” that should be counted as the metric. But more importantly: As for any hit – what should be the metric you measure? To put it another way and for you to answer, ask yourself the following, never mind what I think. Ready?
Which is more important from a business perspective: 10,000 hits a month and not 1 sale made? Or: 1 single solitary hit over the course of a month. But resulted in a sale producing a net profit that’s accepted as legal tender for deposit at the bank?
The same can be said using other metrics. Case in point:
Personally, I don’t use or have any social media accounts, and yet, at any time depending on the news site, story, or reference, I have documented backup (not pie-in-the-sky, smoke-and-mirrors) where I have reached (and is a recurring metric) well over 5 to 10 million individual followers on Twitter™ alone. Not cumulatively, but on one single story within a day or so of publishing. As an example here’s just one from 2014, and at the time was a very big story. To wit:
Consider all the potential financial experts that were available, quotable, and even salivating at the chance to have their insights included in what was one of the biggest tech stories and buy-outs at the time. And, in what’s considered a widely read financial resource throughout the media. There I am along side none other than Bob Lefsetz.
To reiterate about the entire “hit” idea. That “hit” equals 1. So, if someone wants to compare (or throw in my face is more like it) their “I had 100,000 hits on my site last week and you only had 1 for the entire month, so that proves you just don’t get it, because 100,000 is 99,999 more than your 1 – and that was a week compared to your month!”
Fair point, but as I would (and do) reply, “What’s the value of my 1 compared to your 100,000? Would you like to break it down further using the example above for comparison? There are other just ‘1’s’ if you don’t like this one. I’ll let you decide.”
The usual reply? (insert crickets here)
I use the above not for any preference or significance of one news outlet over an other, far from it. (and this has not been the only time or outlet with similar metrics) Why I am using the above is for is this: It’s an easily verifiable example where it shows in no uncertain terms – that this outlet alone – is followed by some 3+Million, and that doesn’t include the ancillary followers of this news site which in-turn resend it to their followers, and so on, and so on.
I hope you’re seeing my point. And for those of you wondering was this story actually tweeted because they don’t do the same for all of them? Yes, it was.
I needed to make the above point for two sets of people. First, those who are chasing their tails and don’t realize that’s precisely what they are doing. And second: For those (usually whom recently attended some workshop or speech given by some so-called “guru”) who like to criticize me or my social-media strategy. Personally, I think I’m doing just fine, thanks. “How you doing?” But I digress
And just let me say this before I go on any further:
To all the news sites, blogs, and more who have found my work or insights worth their time to read, and/or reference, yes, even those who’ve throughly disagreed and used me as a foil for their arguments over the years. Thank you. And I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Again, thank you.
So now (I guess again) what does all the above have to do with the title you may be asking. Well, it’s this:
For years I have also been a staunch advocate of imploring people to not just take what they see in the so-called “papers of record” as some form of gospel. I also state: “Even if it’s me!”
Many times I’ve had run-ins where some have tried to invalidate my ideas, insights, or premises by using the fact that I’ve never been published where they believe is the only measurement or “stamp of approval” that matters (e.g., NY Times™, Economist™, et al) as some type of sword or pike.
Personally I’ve always welcomed the challenge and point out the fact that I’m actually proud not to be there, because I feel what they’ve been pumping out as so-called “insights” about the economy, finance, business, and more has given garbage a bad name. It’s been mostly nothing but pure tripe. (My apologies to tripe.)
Now with that said let me explain how and why the above came into play.
All this (and more) came up in a discussion the other day when I needed to review a previous offering for metrics. It was there I came across a mistake in that earlier project that left me both laughing, as well as wondering, if it was the reason it never seemed to gain traction. Here’s what I found:
Back around 2010-11, I began a series called “Thinking Aloud” that was a trial run in short audio form of how I was seeing things at the time. As you can see I was already railing against the “it’s different this time” arguments far before nearly anyone else.
When I was reading (just this past week) I noticed (as I highlighted) I must have typed “poignant” when I clearly meant “pointed.” (Is this the cause for “doom and gloom” references? Appears logical both for the moniker, as well as why it may not have done as well as I hoped. “Inquiring minds want to know!” But I digress.)
The issue here is a lesson for anyone who wants to draw from it like I/we did. There are 3 very real, pragmatic insights that apply to most businesses. And they are these:
- Using a spell checker many times will allow for different choices, you must make sure you choose properly, because you never know what spelling error you may have made unless you look at what is being corrected, and why. I can not tell you how many times over the years similar has happened to me. I’ve gotten better, but still it happens.
- When you read silently your mind has a way of giving you the correct word you believe, or anticipate should be there. You may re-read the same sentence multiple times and never see it while in the moment of writing or immediate proofing. e.g., as you’re writing it or reviewing freshly after. Sometimes time is needed to clear the mind. So have lunch, take a break, go work out, or do something other, then re-read. You’ll be amazed of what you may now see and find.
- Handing it off to others for proofreading doesn’t always work. The above is proof of that, for it was read by others and missed entirely then, and too this day.
- Bonus Tip: Using a template as to save time and furrow out repetitive text and more is where you must check, double-check, and maybe triple check via an outside source for surety that no mistakes are present. Again, the above is proof of that, because it was used as a template for multiple postings – and no one here ever caught it until today, some 6 years later, and only by chance.
Which brings me to – the punch line.
For those who may not be aware “The Gray Lady” aka NY Times is in complete disarray when it comes to its staff. In-particular its copy editors, reporters, and others. It’s been reported the NYT wants to cut its staff of copy-editors substantially. (i.e., something akin to half) The key word is “wants” as in has not yet happened. Whether it does is to be seen, but there lies the rub. Why? Fair question, so I’ll explain with the following. To wit:
Or, said differently: One of the main voices railing about “fake news” and accusing others (such as yours truly) has actually now had to recant one of the more pervasive McCarthy-esque stories and insinuations ever to be perpetrated in media, because: It was a fake story. All while the so-called “editors” who are argued to be upset because if they are let go the “quality” will diminish, were still employed at the time as to make sure fact-checking, professional and ethical standards, and more were supposedly being held.
I’m sorry, but you just can’t make the irony of it all up.
Yet, just like late-night TV: “But wait! There’s more!!” For just the other day this happened. To wit:
So I’ll let you be the judge and jury as you ask yourself this question:
Does the standard and product offering improve at the NYT with the letting go of said personnel? Or, falter?
Think about that carefully, while contemplating the “why” even more vigorously.
And for those who’ve scorned me over the years (e.g., The Punctuation Police, and Grammar Gestapo) with the calling for me to “get a copy-editor!” I’m sorry too say, No, I’m not hiring. Even though it would appear the cost of such is about to decrease, for it’s now been demonstrated (as in “black and white” literally) hiring a copy-editor, editor in general, or even writer for that matter, from some “paper of record” hasn’t any semblance of improving my own offering, because as they say in open court, “Let the record show…” My standards for copy-editing already appear to meet the standards set or used at the NYT.
But, what’s far more important is this: My on-the-record insights are already held to a much higher standard. After all, I’m not the one retracting what should have been clearly seen by “the paper of record” as fake news all while pointing their fingers (and printing presses) at people like myself stating we’re the “fake.”
I’ll end here with this last thought:
Don’t take my word for it. Just read the NYT and judge for yourself remembering this axiom from Gandhi:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
I seem to have entered the latter part of that phrase. And so can you.
Happy Independence Day!
© 2017 Mark St.Cyr