Listen to Papa

Sometimes, inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. This is particularly true of music. At least, that is the case for me. I find listening to a wide variety of music helps me to stay open minded. This helps keep the creative juices flowing, which I then apply to family, work, and play.

Often times, when I’m listening to music, I don’t really hear so much of what is being said. This is rather intentional as I tend to listen to quite a bit of music dominated by rather explicit lyrics. I choose to ignore the expletives and focus on the music itself. However, there are times that I put on my headphones, lean back in my chair, and listen intently on what the artist is saying and try to relate the lyrics to my life. Sure, the artist may have their own meaning for their words, but I have my own interpretation as well.

One group I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately is Papa Roach. I like their aggressive Hip-Hop/Hard Rock blend. Their sound could easily be described as powerful. Thick drums, rapid attack guitar riffs, and aggressive lyrics dominate their style. I liken their lyrical content to teenage angst all grown up.

Putting aside the generalizations of their sound and lyrics, there is one song of theirs that has been stuck in my head a lot. For some reason, I just can’t seem to shake it for long. Tonight, it came to me as I sat down to review the day’s RSS Feeds… This song could be an anthem for those who take the bold step of starting their own online venture. The song is “Not Listening” and here are the lyrics.

Papa Roach – Not Listening

I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I learn, the more I ignore
I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I hear, the more I ignore
No I’m not listening, not anymore, No

Cause You gotta be bigger, be faster, be stronger
if your gonna survive any longer
in this lifetime, it better be the right time
the first time might be your last time
am I a failure if I got nothing to lose
No, I’m not a failure, I got something to prove

Chorus:
I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I learn, the more I ignore
I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I hear, the more I ignore, the more I ignore

Cause I’ve lost my innocence
and I’m a stranger, A life changer
I’m a man that’s not afraid of danger
I walk my own path, and blaze my own trail
because I’m not afraid to derail
I won’t get in line or be a middle man
so f*** you I’ll make my own plan
and I got respect and I dont neglect
the people that i really care to protect
am I a failure if I got nothing to lose
No, I’m not a failure, I got something to prove

[Chorus]

I told you before, won’t listen anymore
I told you before, lets settle the score
I told you before, won’t listen anymore
I told you before, lets settle the score

If not me then who?
If not now then when? X2

[Chorus]

I told you before, wont listen anymore
I told you before, lets settle the score
I told you before, wont listen anymore
I told you before, lets settle the score

Set it off right now
Blow it up, set it off
F*** it up, set it off
Blow it up, Blow it up right now

If reading the lyrics alone are not enough to whet your appetite, here is the studio version of the song.

Taking this song on surface value, it might be a bit difficult for some to get the correlation between this song and starting an online venture. Rightly so. There’s nothing in the lyrics that even remotely implies business or the Internet. However, if you take a moment to step outside the tiny box of taking things literally, you can easily see how this can be related. Let’s break the song down an analyze it a bit closer.

Turn a Deaf Ear to the Naysayers

I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I learn, the more I ignore
I’m not listening, not anymore
The more I hear, the more I ignore
No I’m not listening, not anymore, No

When you announced to your friends and/or family that you were going to start your own online venture/business/blog, how many of them had a pessimistic view? The fact is, a lot of people are pessimistic about online opportunities. Some of this is due to ignorance, and some of this is due to the naysayer’s own failures. Whatever the reason, you cannot allow someone else’s negativity poison your goals. If you believe that you can be successful online, then you can.

Hard Lessons Must Be Learned

Cause You gotta be bigger, be faster, be stronger
if your gonna survive any longer
in this lifetime, it better be the right time
the first time might be your last time
am I a failure if I got nothing to lose
No, I’m not a failure, I got something to prove

If you think for one minute that you’re going to be a success overnight, you are either the luckiest S.O.B. on the face of the earth, or you’ve got a very rude awakening coming, which is most likely. The fact is, starting any venture is work and lots of it. Along with that work comes hard lessons to learn. What the above verse illustrates to me is some of these lessons. Those lessons include:

  • The market is extremely competitive (most markets anyways). Know your competition and be prepared to take them on, toe to toe. You will have to prove how you are the better alternative.
  • There is no better time than now. If you don’t step up and do it now, the opportunity will pass.
  • If you are not truly prepared to take on this challenge, your first attempt could be your last attempt. Make sure you are ready to play the game.
  • Do not waste your time with self-doubt. You are not a failure unless you accept failure.
  • Be prepared to prove yourself. Everyone else is expecting you to prove yourself.

It’s An Uphill Battle. Your Stamina Will Be Tested.

Cause I’ve lost my innocence
and I’m a stranger, A life changer
I’m a man thats not afraid of danger
I walk my own path, and blaze my own trail
because I’m not afraid to derail
I won’t get in line or be a middle man
so f*** you I’ll make my own plan
and I got respect and I dont neglect
the people that i really care to protect
am I a failure if I got nothing to lose
No, I’m not a failure, I got something to prove

  • There is a certain degree of naivet├ę when you first start out. People may act nice and like they are willing to help, but don’t be foolish. Just like in the physical world, there are people out there that will take every dime you own and wont loose a second of sleep over it.
  • Until you’ve built a name for yourself, you will be a stranger in every place you go online. You have to make your own name. Often times, this requires a significant life change because of the time you have to invest in building your brand/image.
  • There are dangers and calculated risks around every corner. You have to be prepared to face the dangers and take the calculated risks as they come.
  • How much more clear can you get than, “I walk my own path, and blaze my own trail”?
  • You better not be afraid to fail or occasionally get off track because that is a normal part of the process. How you handle these set backs will help determine your success.
  • If you spend your time following the masses, you are just another one of the heard waiting for the slaughter. You have to find your own niche, your own identity, your own style. Being the middleman isn’t much better. It’s like being the Shepard’s dog. You’re not necessarily one of the heard, but you’re also not the one reaping the bulk of the benefits. Instead, the Sheppard throws you scraps for doing the bulk of the work.
  • How many “fool proof plans”, have you read? How many times have you seen a book or site taught *The Plan* for success. Don’t waste your money! Instead, do your homework, find reputable information and devise your own success plan based on your goals. What may be successful for Joe Guru might not net you a single penny. Don’t fall for snake oil.
  • Hard work, dedication, and belief in yourself will show and will earn you respect.
  • Don’t put your family on the back burner while you chase success. Your family is your greatest asset and greatest source of strength. Protect that asset by not neglecting them.
  • Again, because we all need a reminder, you are only a failure if you accept failure.
  • You never stop proving yourself.

I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Gosh Darn It, People Like Me!

If not me then who?
If not now then when?
If not now then when?

  • If YOU don’t go out and make your own success, someone else will take your place. If YOU think YOU can do it, then who has the right to say you cannot?
  • The longer you wait, the less likely you will succeed.
  • Procrastination precedes failure. Waiting until tomorrow is waiting until it is too late.

Can I Get a “G”? Can I Get a “O”? What’s That Spell? GO!

Set it off right now
Blow it up, set it off
F*** it up, set it off
Blow it up, Blow it up right now

You’re still reading this post? Get out there, right now, and forge your path to success!

You’ve read my two cents. Now have your say!
Do you find inspiration in music?
Do you take music literally, or do you filter it through your own perspective?
Do you believe that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration?
After reading this post, do you feel jacked up and ready to take on the world? If not, read it again with the song playing! ­čÖé

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

bethelight

Maybe life has jaded me. Maybe it made my skin too thick. Though, it didn’t make my heart hard. I still love with all that is in me, and I’ll jump to help anyone I can. But I just don’t see the sense in raising hell over something I can’t change. All I can change is me and what I do.

Perhaps that’s the problem… Perhaps too many look outside themselves and take it upon themselves to try to change others. I can’t change you. I can only change me. If I want to see more love and tolerance in the world it needs to start with me. I need to be the change I want to see in the world.

Maybe I’m weird. Maybe I don’t get it. I don’t know. But when my Lord and Savior said, “Love your enemy” I took that to heart. I can’t change people’s opinions by arguing with them. But I can model sane, loving, kind behavior in my own actions.

Maybe the old saying, “You can get a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar” has been forgotten.

All I know is the events of the last several months have exposed a fundamental defect in our modern society. In our society, we seem to have an entitlement complex where we believe other people have to bend to our wills. I’m sorry, but that’s just not the case. As long as you don’t break the laws, you can think what you want to think and that’s your right.

Do I think we should have intelligent discussion about certain topics? Absolutely. But I don’t have to believe what you believe, and you don’t have to believe what I believe. As long as you don’t try to infringe upon my rights, I won’t give you any problems. Live and let live!

And if you think, “Easy for you to say… Your a white, heterosexual male.” You obviously don’t know me and my life. I have homosexual family members and my child is biracial. The issues facing our country today are issues I’m facing every day. But inciting riots and attacking others with differing viewpoints is NOT the solution.

Please, let us never forget the message of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

Love one another. Be kind and gentle with one another. Seek to hear and understand one another. Then, and only then, can we hope to bring our society together.

To Love Is Never A Mistake

To Love Is Never A Mistake

In my short 39 years of life here on terra firma I can honestly say I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.

  • I dropped out of high school at 17yrs old.
  • I dropped out of college just before earning a double bachelors.
  • I did entirely too much drinking for far too many years.
  • I got in plenty of trouble, some of which landed me in jail a few times.
  • I screwed up business opportunities that could have made me wealthy.
  • I hurt those closest to me, even when they proved their loyalty beyond doubt.

On paper, I’m a complete screw up. But, I took those poor choices I made in my youth and I turned them around and let them shape me into being a better man.

Of all my poor choices, all my mistakes, one choice I’ve made I will never regret is loving. I refuse to regret loving anyone I’ve ever loved. Whether the relationship was family, friendship or significant other, I will not regret loving them.

I have loved family members who abused me, stole from me, and tried to kill me (literally). I have loved friends that stole my girlfriend, talked behind my back, and picked a fight with me. I have loved partners that have cheated on me, mentally abused me, and used me for what I could offer. But I don’t regret loving them. My love is a reflection of what is in my heart, not their behavior. Everyone deserves love.

I learned this because, even though I made so many mistakes and hurt so many people, there were people who continued to love me, no matter what. There was my family, of course, but there were friends, and even my ex-wife. They loved me through it all. They loved me until I could love myself. And when I learned of God’s great love an mercy, I fully understood that love is never a mistake.

Love is something that cannot be earned. Love is a choice. Love is a gift. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, taught me to love the unlovable. To love without expectation of return. To love even those who do you harm. To love, even if it costs you your life.

So, today, I choose to love. I choose to love even if someone harms me. Some people may no longer have a place in my life, but they will forever have a place in my heart. I will love them from afar. I will love them through my prayers.

No matter what happens; no matter what someone does to you; no matter the pain you have suffered; choose love.

love_cropped

Internet Marketers should learn from St. Nicholas

stnicholas

Several years ago,┬áI had the opportunity to explain the story of the real St. Nicholas to my precocious (then) 6yr old nephew. The bright child had figured out that “Santa” wasn’t a jolly fat guy who brings presents pretty quickly and was being a bit cynical about the whole thing. After explaining the life of St. Nicholas to him, he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “I get it. Santa Claus is about the spirit of giving.” What a bright child!

This experience brought to mind something that has been bothering me for several months now. That being that there is a mentality of “all about me” saturating the Internet Marketing industry. Everywhere you turn, somebody is bragging about themselves, asking over and over and over for you to check out their latest “earth shattering” program, asking for likes, stumbles, tweets, favs, etc.. Having spent the last several years working online, I’ve seen this type of mentality get worse. It’s to the point now where there’s hardly a place to socialize without somebody asking for something. This is NOT what the Internet and Internet Marketing are all about!

St. Nicholas was not an Internet Marketer, obviously, but there are some valuable lessons Internet Marketers can learn about his legend. Take for example that centuries after St. Nicholas lived, we are still talking about him today! His story was spread throughout the four corners of the world by sailors. Every year, in many diverse cultures around the world, he is celebrated. Even though the centuries have altered his legend, at the core of the story is the same message.

Now, let’s apply these principles in terms of Internet Marketing:

  • Buzz Marketing: If you want your product or service to go big, you have to create a buzz. There has been buzz surrounding St. Nicholas for generations.
  • Viral Marketing: The goal of every Internet Marketer is to get people talking to other people about their product or service. The story (brand) of St. Nicholas has been viral since the very beginning. He is a legend!
  • Strong Branding: Creating an instantly recognizable image, name, or tagline for a product or service is a huge factor in any marketing campaign. Though modern image of Santa Claus depicts a large, white bearded, jolly man in bright red attire, the fact is, early depictions were not so different. The attire has changed and it seems age has rounded out Santa’s physique a bit, but the basic look is still instantly recognizable.
  • Clear Message: In marketing, you absolutely must nail the message. You have to convey your message in such a way that it becomes ingrained into your target audience and there should be no doubt as to what you mean in your message. Through centuries, the finer details have been altered some, but the core message of St. Nicholas remains exactly the same, as if ingrained into our deep psyches.

So, what made St. Nicholas so popular? What has kept us talking about him for centuries? Why won’t his brand wither with time? The answer is simple; he embodies a message that is timeless and touches every person. That being the message of selfless giving. St. Nicholas has stood the test of time because he gave generously without regard to personal gain and without asking for reciprocation.

Selflessness has major benefits in Internet Marketing as well. While the ultimate goal of marketing is to get your target to do something for you, the path you take to get there does not have to be filled with taking all the time and not giving back. Any Internet Marketing campaign that is based around just asking enough people to click your link or check out your product or service is doomed to fail. To be effective, a campaign must give something back.

I learned this lesson through several years of working in Open Source Software. Those who gave the most, asked for the least, but received the bulk of the business. Why? Because they were constantly giving to the greater good without asking for anything in return and were rewarded with respect and trust. Trust is a major factor in developing relationships and building a successful marketing campaign.

When you reach out to others and give to them without asking for anything in return, you build strong relationships. Building relationships like this builds a strong following. Building a following in this manner, builds a highly targeted audience that already knows your brand, already trusts your brand, and is already primed and ready to take action when you finally do prompt them for action.

Why do Internet Marketers so often neglect this simple concept that can lead to stronger marketing campaigns? Simple, building relationships takes time and effort. It’s much faster and simpler to ask for something than it is to offer something. It’s much simpler and easier to use automated tools to broadcast out to thousands than to build a strong following of hundreds. Yet, with all these shortcuts taken, how many Internet Marketers are failing to get even a small percentage of their market to take action? Factors could be that they lack trust in their brand because they have not earned it or have abused it by asking for more than they give.

So, what does it take to give? Does this mean you have to spend every waking hour doing various tasks for other people? No! Many times, giving more than you receive can be handled en masse. Here are a few techniques for giving that can lead to stronger relationships.

  • Answer questions related to your product or service voluntarily.
  • Help others in lateral markets, thus building strategic contacts.
  • Seek out and assist vertical market contacts.
  • Become a prominent source for free information in your product or service’s industry.
  • Strategically offer your product or service for free without asking for anything in return.
  • Every time you see an opportunity to help, do so, even if the opportunity is not in your industry.

In all of the above examples, make sure your profile and/or contact information contains information about who you are and what you do, but don’t do so in a spammy way. The following example is usually sufficient.

James Morris
Web developer
james [at] yourwebsite [dot] com

Company Name, inc.
Catchy Company Tagline

1234 Some St., Box 5
Some City, WV
123-456-7890
https://yourwebsite.com

You can use variations of the above as email signatures, profile details, forum signatures and as a vcard. Even St. Nicholas had a calling card which was leaving coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. In the modern tail of Santa, there is the milk and cookies that are left partially consumed. This is simply a part of personal branding that must be done.

On the surface, marketing and St. Nicholas don’t seem to have much in common. However, when you step back and look at the story of St. Nicholas critically, you can see where his life of giving is a model for building relationships. Building relationships should be the number one factor in your Internet Marketing campaign. Building strong relationships leads to a following that is primed and ready to take action when prompted. Giving back does not have to consume all of your time and can often be as simple as taking a few minutes to answer questions. Every opportunity to give a few minutes of your time for free is an opportunity to increase trust and recognition for your brand and you don’t even have to mention your brand.

Take some time to step back and look at your current marketing campaign. Are you buying contacts and broadcasting to a deaf crowd. Or, are you building strong relationships with those who will trust you, help you and take action when you ask them to? All it takes is giving a little and you will receive much more in return.

Consider the Rose

orange-roses-1371380-1280x960Often, we look at roses and admire their beauty. How could something be so gorgeous? But do we consider all that has happened to the rose plant for it to become so beautiful?

First, it had to be buried in shit. Yes, it had to be planted in the rich, fertile ground where it could do it’s growing best. Poor soil will slow the growth. So, there must be a healthy amount of fertilizer in order to stimulate growth.

Second, the rose goes through a gangly stage where it’s life is effectively nothing but thorns. There’s a few leaves to gather moisture from the air. But, the bulk of it’s life at this time is just awkward and thorny. Much pruning takes place during this time to trim off that which serves no real purpose or would otherwise stunt growth.

Third, the rose begins to bud in the appropriate season. Some of this transformation happens early, but doesn’t last. But the budding that is in due season remains and continues to grow.

Finally, the rose unfolds its buds to reveal it’s true beauty. Beauty that has taken time, nurturing, pruning and a sufficient amount of fertilizer. As the rose begins to blossom, we see that it doesn’t always blossom all at once, and we see not all the blossoms are the same. Some are more noticeable than others. Some are hidden behind the more prominent blossoms, but they are still there and are still beautiful.

The rose is an analogy for life. In order to experience true beauty in our lives, we must go through a fair amount of shit. We must be pruned to get rid of the things that are stunting our growth. We need to allow ourselves to bud, but not too soon. And then, when we finally blossom and become the beautiful person we are meant to be, we must not forget that the beauty we hold inside is even more important than what we present to the world.