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UnStuck at the Crossroads

Sometimes we can get stuck at a crossroads in life.

We might try logic as a form of navigation, or we might go by way of our gut. Getting stuck in the intersection of indecision is a dangerous place. Recognizing opportunity as it comes is key.

Me? After a season of logical-izing, I'm trusting my gut and getting unstuck. It's by Amazing Grace that I didn't get run over at the intersection

Aside: The beautiful and talented Lari White offers guidance in the Cast Away clip, and an amazing voice in the song above.

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Story Listening: Is Harry Potter About Witchcraft?

Is Harry Potter about witchcraft?

Or is the story about perseverance and friendship? About the constant battles of good vs evil or self vs community?

A wise friend teaches the important distinction between "book story" and "life story" in works of fiction.

With such in mind, Harry Potter might be – in part – about witchcraft. But alas, that is the "book story." The "life story" is about . . . well, I would think the "life story" might be different for each reader and maybe for each season of life of said reader.

We hear much talk about storytelling and the art of story. I'm not close to tiring of the term, but it has become so widely used, the term may end up on some Buzzword Bingo soon.

Storytelling is becoming a more important part of our creative communication and conversation than ever before.

Storylistening: determining the "life story" within the story you hear, see, or read – or at least the "life story" that pertains to you – is just as important. For both the listener and the teller.

Begin with Listening in Mind.

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Small Business Contest – Big Prize Packages

Virtuosi Media is having a contest and if you’re a small business owner, you have a chance to win big! We’re giving away over $21,000 in prizes, with the Grand Prize package featuring a free business website valued up to $10,000 and other prizes from our sponsors, all designed to boost your business’ success online.

Interested in increasing your bottom line, improving the image and visibility of your business, and doing it all for free? Read on!

How To Enter

So how do you enter the contest? It’s easy, free, and it only takes 3 simple steps to enter to win. (You must be a business owner or be entering on behalf of a business to be eligible to win. Sorry, no personal or non-profit websites this time around.)

  1. Share the contest online.
  2. Fill a web design quote request form.
  3. Tell us why you should win in our comment section.

You can enter at the contest page here: Ultimate Business Contest: Win A Free Website – $21,000+ In Prizes.

The Prizes

Virtuosi Media is giving away prizes to 5 lucky business owners. You could be one of them!

Grand Prize

Win a free business website up to $10,000, free hosting for a year through Media Temple, free online invoicing for a year through FreshBooks, and a $500 copy editing certificate from for a total prize package of $11, 849.

First Prize

Win a 30% discount on a business website up to $10,000, free online invoicing for six months through FreshBooks, and a $500 copy editing certificate from for a total prize package of $4,429.

Second Prize

Win a 15% discount on a business website up to $10,000, free online invoicing for three months through FreshBooks, and a $500 copy editing certificate from for a total prize package of $2,339.85.

Third Prize

Win a 10% discount on a business website up to $10,000 and a $500 copy editing certificate from for a total prize package of $1500.

Fourth Prize

Win a 10% discount on a business website up to $10,000 and a $500 copy editing certificate from for a total prize package of $1500.

Enter To Win

The contest ends at 11:59PM May 24, 2011, so be sure to enter before then. The best and most detailed entries will win.

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10 Legit Ways to Gain a Twitter Fast Friend Following

Free twitter badgeImage via Wikipedia

There are many ways small town business owners and independent contractors can use Twitter.

Heck, there are as many ways to use Twitter as there are flavors of Jelly Belly (50 officially. Jelly Belly flavors, that is).

Of course, in this era of stream n’ scream and fast-food friending, most folks want to see instant results.  So with respect to the “law of the harvest” here are some ways the small folks can level the conversation station that Twitter is:

70-20-10 – It’s a formula I’ve coached for years. Our Twitter mantra is 70-20-10. Split your messaging up with this ratio: 70% Resource Sharing; 20% Chit-Chat n’ How’s Your Cat; 10% Pimp Your Stuff. Most folks do it in reverse. Don’t. Be the Resource.

Hashtags – Consider these labels. They help categorize your tweets and make you more findable in searches. They can also be valuable to you for RTing or following others  Further Reading: Hashtags Demystified

Searches – You can save Twitter searches and periodically go back on look. You can search for hashtags or “phrases that are important” by using quotation marks around a specific phrase.

Lists – By creating lists, you are creating a resource for yourself and others, and also creating a bit of good will to those you place on the list. The list should be more a resource to your audience than a bait to those you list. More on How to Use Twitter Lists

RT Others – As you find valuable tweets to share, it’s best to ReTweet manually (not the ReTweet button). Remember, it’s about your audience first; the person you RT second; and you are third. How-To: ReTweet on Twitter – Create your own daily online newspaper (or follow someone else’s) with this cool tool. There are many ways to customize, so feel free to experiment and gauge your success. Dive Deeper: Follow Smart People 5 Ways with

TwellowTwellow helps you find people based on keywords or location. Think of it as a reverse yellow pages for Twitter. Additional Read/Resource: 27 Tools to Help you Find and Manage Your Twitter

ReSked & ReTweet – Using a tool like HootSuite or another Twitter scheduling tool, you can take your best Tweets (even the RTs of others) and schedule them at various times throughout the week

Leave 20 characters – As often as possible, try to leave 17-20 characters of space in your tweets. This allows others to RT and add your name (count the RT, the @, the ___ space, and your username).

Twitter Chats – Join in and participate or create your own (using a hashtag). If you can keep up, this is a great way to engage and learn. At the end of most chats (a stream of tweets around a central topic) offer a transcript and a list of participants. Here’s a tip that includes a Tweet Chat video tutorial.

There are many other tools, tips and tracking you can do – but this is a quick-start for those that are looking for creating a fast food following.

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Don’t Speak TO Your Audience; Speak THROUGH Your Audience

Kiss the microphone. Spill from your gut. Speak to the back of the church.

Quieting your voice as a form of modesty is going to kill the message and end your days as a messenger.

It's easy to fall into the trap of talking softly when confronted with a microphone and in audience (seen or unseen). But don't be tempted. Instead, amp your voice up just a notch to overcome the natural tendency to quiet down.

Think Al Pacino in the movies or The B52s in music videos or Troy Polamalu on the football field. That's the kind of follow-through you're seeking.

Much like a fighter punches through his opponent, speak through your audience. Speaking at them — even to them — may fall short of their hearing and listening capabilities.



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Small-Town Small Business Web Pages – One Page at a Time

"I don't need a website.  I don't even have a computer here."

That's what the owner of a small-town, three-chair hair salon said to me the other day. Really. But she's not alone in her thinking.

6a00d834516aff69e20147e3bb57d8970b-500wiNow that the weather has improved, I've again been building single-page websites in the highways and hedges of rural Iowa.

I'm finding that the number of rural businesses that don't have websites (or in their mind, a reason for one), is much greater than the 30% I've alluded to in recent years.

I asked the hair salon owner if she had ever googled a business to find contact information, or simply used Google as a yellow-pages type of tool.  Of course, she said yes.  I asked her if she thought maybe her prospective customers might do the same.  We built her a single page site within an hour.

A paragraph. A picture. A page. 

It's a great starter kit for the rural business to get a presence on the web.

I've created a simple form for business owners or independents to use if they want their own single-page site (complete with their own domain).

If you know of anyone (or want one yourself – we're starting and building these in less than an hour for less than $200 each)

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Are Whitepapers Dead?

Are Whitepapers Dead?

If you ask Lauren Carlson of Marketing Automation Software Guide,, the answer is clear in her article No One Wants to Read Your Whitepaper, Let's Hope They Recycle It.

The days of the Whitepaper have changed. Twice it seems.  And a third time could be a charm for both writer and reader.

I had the opportunity to ask Lauren a few questions to help us understand the future of whitepapers and their possible replacements:

Q: In your piece, you point to PDFs, ebooks, and microsites as potential replacements for whitepapers of old.  As content management tools continue to get easier, is this one reason whitepapers are becoming passe (quick-attention spans being another)? /div>

A: I think that content management tools make it easier to manage your content in multiple mediums. However, I think the attention span has a lot to do with the whitepaper's waning popularity. A good whitepaper – one that provides valuable information or is educational in nature – can be very helpful further on down the decision-making process. However, the early-stage buyer is not interested in digesting a dense sales pitch. They want a simplified version that can give them an overall idea. Save the dense material for later.
Q: Can you give us an easy definition of "microsite" with possibly a few examples of good ones?
A: A microsite is typically a page or cluster of pages that act as a supplement to a primary website. They are usually focused on one topic, product, area of interest, etc. Our company, Software Advice runs several microsites. Some examples include:
 Q: Whitepapers may have gotten too "salesy" because business people were offering "free" whitepapers to build an email list. Is there an acceptable length and maybe a better term than "white paper" to use in offering such an exchange (info for email)?
A: I would say that it's not so much about the length, but the formatting. So many whitepapers look like essays. A person opens it and, even if they are interested in learning more about the topic, they will tune out. Formatting the whitepaper with a user-friendly UI, incorporating interactive elements such as embedded videos, polls, etc. – these make the content more appealing to the reader. However, the addition of these elements make it more of an eBook than a whitepaper.

If you'd like to follow more of Lauren's thinking and linking:

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Feed the Junkies


From a poker junkie to star trekkie, football fans to Beatlemania – people flock together to celebrate and commiserate and even fan the flames of their fanaticism.

The content ignites community and creates conversation. Are you providing and provoking the content worthy of the flame?

Again, we can go to our bookstore lesson and especially the magazine section to see what’s hot or not.

  • What topic has multiple titles?
  • What are the weeklies and top monthly mags headlining?
  • Who is adorning the most covers (either individual or genre)?

If you want ideas on what’s being devoured, tap into the mags on the rack. These publishers spend millions in market research. Stop guessing and follow some of their lead.

Have an abundance mentality in sharing too. Don’t hoarde your findings. Be the resource!

By sharing the best poker games and sites, the junkies will return and reward you, and then you will have a winning hand.

Writing With FastPencil

Inspired by Doug Mitchell's book The MultiThread Marketer (review coming soon), I started putting together archives of ConverStations into book form on FastPencil a few nights ago. Not all of the posts, just the best of them.

FastPencil makes it very easy to organize and publish your book to Amazon as Doug has done with his book. So I'm doing likewise.

At 22,000 words  and two years of archives still to go through, I might break things up into two volumes (one talk, one tech).

It's been so easy, Angela and I are beginning to work on a book together ("Extravagant Love: With Christ as Our Example") with plans for a late-summer publishing date.

More to come.

Maybe you should start working on your book, too.


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Gigantificationism Leads to Breakthrough

My wife-to-be, Angela Thye, posted this Nelson Mandela quote yesterday on our SansoneSpot site:

"Our deepest fear in not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous.  Actually, who are you not to be?  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world."  - Nelson Mandela

That last line struck me: "Your playing small doesn't serve the world."  It's one thing to be humble, but another to negate the gift and potential that lies within you.

Reminds me of this scene from Big Fish, Gigantificationism:


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