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Archive for March, 2011


March 30th, 2011

I am bewildered.

Which is much different than my usual stance of being grumpy and loud about something I see that I don’t like.

But as I sit with this, I am less and less annoyed and more and more, well, confused.

See, I watch people. A lot. And I especially watch those who put themselves in the “expert”,  “famous expert” and “leader” categories. I notice what they do. I notice what they don’t do.

I watch them online and I watch them in person at events like BlogWorld and SXSW.

And I am noticing something that is actually quite disturbing. So disturbing that I’m questioning some of my fundamental business choices.

Here’s what I see: There are a number of so-called leaders in the internet and social media space who seem to stick with what I can only call a “clique”. They primarily talk to this small group of peers, support this small group of peers and promote this small group of peers.

And I get it – they are free to make whatever choices they want, but from where I sit, it doesn’t look like leadership or expertise. It looks like high school and the cool kids table.

I thought true leaders reached out beyond their immediate peer group to help those who need their attention, their words, and their help.  I thought part of a leader’s job was to search for unnoticed diamonds in the rough and start to polish them. I thought true leaders never, ever forgot that they were once unnoticed and that someone reached out to help them become who they are.

Apparently I was wrong.

When I see “leaders” huddled together in a self-congratulatory group (I’ve even heard of an event where the leaders sit in a roped off area, inaccessible to the “common” attendees), it makes me question any aspiration I might have to someday be among them.

I know not all experts and leaders are like this and that gives me the hope I need to keep going.

And Lord knows I fall short myself in all of these areas. It’s far more fun to just hang with my friends online and IRL than to venture out and get to know people. But isn’t that what the social media and online world is all about?

Like I said. I’m bewildered. And perplexed.

What do you think? Am I way off base? Do I need to re-set my filter? Or do I just accept that this is the way things are and move on?

As always, I am dying to hear what you think.

**UPDATE: Based on some emails and DMs, I guess I need to make it clear that my personal feelings aren’t hurt because I’m being “left out”. On the contrary, I’m often included by some of the very leaders I’m thinking of.  This is more about observing people whom I thought were admirable who, sadly, aren’t. And watching how they treat others, not just how they treat me. **

Lessons on Winning

March 28th, 2011

And no – this  is not another frackin article about Charlie Sheen!!

The lessons on winning I want to tell you about came from my 8-year-old son, The Young Turk.

First, a little back-story.

This past Saturday, he competed in his very first BIG karate tournament. Which is, in and of itself, a very big deal. As long as I’ve known him, the Young Turk has shyed away from competition of any kind. The risk of losing was just too painful a thing to contemplate, so he just sat out.

Ah, but his very wise karate teacher, Master Joe, is a big fan of The Young Turk (YT) and his karate abilities. So he encouraged him to participate in a very small “in-house” tournament back in February. His Best Friend In The Whole World wanted to do it and talked the YT into doing it, too. (Oh the wonder and power of BFFs – but that is another blog post all together.)

Well wouldn’t you know the YT won two medals in that small tournament. And once he got a taste of victory, he was hooked!

He signed up immediately for the BIG tournament and decided to go to karate class four times a week. (As a side note, I agreed to the four times a week deal because I didn’t really think he’d stick with it. Well, I was wrong.)

He showed up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He asked Master Joe to meet with him before class to go over stuff. He worked hard (well, most of the time anyway). And when His Best Friend In the Whole World decided not to go, he didn’t back out.

Which brings us to the Big Day – Saturday.

Eight teams from all over the Southeast converge on one high school gym. I take a look around and realized that there are some crazy talented kids at this thing. Hmmm…….

But the YT’s confidence is not shaken. His energy is way keyed up, but he is totally relaxed about his competition. I envy him.

First competition – Forms. All boys his age go through a series of steps and motions that are integral to performing karate.  The Young Turk is way above average but does not place.

He is still unshaken.

Up next – sparring. This is when the boys don padded helmets, gloves, foot covers and a mouth-guard and basically fight each other according to sparring rules.

The YT does well – but he is up against boys way bigger than he is. Still he wins a match. Then another. Then another. His confidence (and truth be told, his showboating) increase with each win. He lost his final match to the biggest nine-year old I’ve ever seen.

Result: The YT recieves a second-place trophy. Was he disappointed by second place? Absolutely not. To watch him, you would have thought he’d just won Grand Master, he was so proud and happy. Again, I envy him.

Next up: “Creative” Forms – an event that allows the competitors to choreograph a karate routine that shows off their best moves. The YT set his to his favorite song, ‘Dynamite’. Except his music wouldn’t play.

He didn’t bat an eye. He got up there and knocked it out of the park.

Result: Third place. Again, when his name is called for third place, he hoops and hollers like he’d just beat out the whole room. Not a shadow of disappointment. Just pure joy. And again, I envy him.

So what did I learn about winning from The Young Turk?

First: I must overcome my fear and get in the game. Having a BFF along with me makes that a whole lot easier.

Second: If I want something, I have to suit up and show up, again and again and again. And I must ask for help and guidance from those who have more experience than I do.

Third: I can get energy from seeing my competition but I don’t have to let it rattle my confidence.

Fourth: A win is a win is a win. Rather than bemoaning the fact that I “only” came in third or second, I can celebrate the fact that I placed at all. Because it really is a big deal.

Fifth: And after I celebrate with a Reese’s Blizzard at Dairy Queen, I can say “Next time, Mom, it’s gonna be first place.” And then I get to take a nap. 🙂


My Word for 2011

March 23rd, 2011

My word for 2010 was courage. It dominated everything. Found me in strange ways. And got itself incorporated into just about everything I did.

And I do still love the word. Courage. Courageous. Summons up all kinds of delicious images. I thought it would be my word for 2011, too. But, alas, that is not to be.

Another beautiful, captivating word has edged into my conversations, my coaching and, yeah, just about everything.

The word is: effortless.

Expect to hear a lot from me about this word in the coming months.

And lest there be any confusion, to me, “effortless” doesn’t mean “no work”. It means being in the flow so the work doesn’t feel like pushing a stone uphill.

And, while it can’t be forced, or willed, or worked on, it has to be uncovered, discovered, found and honored.

Does that make any sense?

So if I’m choosing effortless as my word (or did it choose me?), what word will you choose for 2011?

My Two Favorite Gatherings at SXSWi

March 21st, 2011

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my SXSWi experience this year and there are two standout gatherings in the blur that was Austin.

The first wasn’t an event at all. It was an afternoon spent at an outdoor taco stand with two of my very favorite people in the whole wide world, Reese Spykerman and Elizabeth Marshall. We sat in the sunshine and talked business and life for hours – and yet it seemed like just a tiny bit of time.

When I look at what made our simple gathering so powerful from an objective point of view, I see these qualities in it:

1) Time – we allocated a significant amount of time to building our relationships.

2) Atmosphere – we were in a quiet location that offered up fresh air and sunshine.

3) Openness to the ebb and flow – we had no need to see who could do the most talking. One person would talk while two listened. Or two would engage in conversation while the third sat back. Nothing to prove about our own self-importance.

The second was a tweetup that I caught wind of on Twitter and RSVP’d for. It was on the first “official” evening of SXSW and was the perfect way to kick it off.

Again, from an objective point of view, here are the qualities that made if my favorite “official” gathering:

1) Small group. Maybe 50 people were there, at the most. Contrast this with other events I went to where there were several hundred. I got to sit down and talk with people I’d only talked on Twitter – and even met cool people I’d never talked to at all.

2) Atmosphere – An outdoor, intimate space on a beautiful evening. There were places to sit down and talk or stand up and talk. There wasn’t any loud music to shout over. ( I eventually went hoarse shouting over music for three days.)

3) Openness to ebb and flow – no one at that gathering was caught up in sticking with their own crowd. (Sadly, I saw a ton of clique-y-ness at most other SXSW gatherings.) People moved easily in and out of conversations with people they’d never met. No one was trying to be the most important person in the room.

People come to SXSWi craving connection. And, just like last year, I saw a ton of lonely people with no real means to make those connections. And clique-y people who were unwilling to allow people they didn’t know into their conversations.

Not that anyone asked my opinion, but I hope those who plan gatherings at events like SXSWi remember that no one really cares about your cool venue, your loud music, or your self-important friends. What they really desire is a place to talk, to connect, to build relationships.

Because, in the end, isn’t that what we remember most?

What say you? When you go to tweetups or other gatherings, what do you most want?


More on Generosity & What It Looks Like

March 8th, 2011

So, I’m still pondering generosity and the great discussion we started on last week’s post.

And while I still have trouble describing what true generosity is, I absolutely know it when I see it. In that spirit, I thought I might share real live examples of walking generosity. The kind that surprises, delights, warms the soul, makes me beam, makes me cry and touches me in ways that leave me speechless. I can only hope to return such generosity through my own choices and actions.

(That, by the way, is how I know I am experiencing true generosity. The fake kind leaves me feeling confused, questioning myself, and with a bitter after taste.)

Generosity is:

– That uber-connected person who has a thousand things to do at BlogWorld or SXSW who takes the time to make sure I know about and have invitations to the most critical gatherings.

– That other uber-connected person who spends time with me every day at the above events introducing me and connecting me with people who I would have no other way of meeting.

– The super-busy person who runs an incredibly demanding business who took an entire day (or more) to answer all the comments and really engage with my audience when she/he  guest posted for me.

– The techno-whiz who makes a living building and fixing websites who offers to hop into the dashboard of my blog and fix a few things to make it better.

– The publishing genius who works with NYT best-selling authors who puts those skills on the table to help me strengthen my platform and my message.

– The design and branding genius who helps me sort out my thoughts and create high impact messaging. Gratis.

– The NYT best-selling author who actually reads my blog and my newsletter and constantly encourages me to keep doing more. And takes my phone calls.

– The other NYT best-selling author who believes I have what it takes to launch a speaking career and voluntarily brings  a ton of connections and relationships to the table on my behalf.

– The bloggers and experts who believe in me enough to interview me and share what I have to say with their communities.

– Everyone who helps create the Escaping Mediocrity community by commenting, engaging, and discussing here and on other social media platforms. You’re busy and yet you make the time to do this.

This is just the beginning of a VERY long list. But I’d like to turn the floor over to you. Share an example of walking, talking generosity in your world. 🙂

What is “Generosity”, Exactly?

March 2nd, 2011

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity and how it shows up in the online world we all operate in.  We hear the word A LOT – but what does it MEAN?

I’m going to share my 2 cents and I’m really hoping you will share yours.

In my relatively short time in the great big web word, I’ve experienced amazing acts of real generosity.

People helped me when I was in no position at all to offer anything in return.  I’ve hosted guest posters who gave so freely of themselves, their time and their talent that it floored me, I’ve had people step up and just do things for me, because they can.

I’ve also experienced a different, darker side of “generosity”.

People who only give to those who can “help” them get a leg up, people who don’t initiate generosity yet expect it of others, people who ask for generosity with no intention of reciprocating, people who use “supposed” generosity to keep their friends close and their enemies closer.

(And I could namedrop here with people you would absolutely recognize. But I won’t because that’s no the intention of this post.)

So it’s a tricky business, this whole “generosity” thing, isn’t it?

And yes, I know, we are to give from our heart without a thought of return and I totally get that. But I still think the topic is worth exploring.

So, I’ll open it up to you. What are your thoughts and experiences around generosity?


I’ve seen it touted as a “strategy” – which makes me kind of ill –