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Zen and the Wisdom of Leadership Insecurity: A short self-salvation essay (and excessively long blog post)

Ever felt defeated under the pressures of your leadership role? ​

Almost two decades ago I discovered the work of British-American philosopher, Alan Watts. Watts had become best known during the mid-20th century for writings that interpreted and popularized Eastern philosophy for Western audiences.  In his 1951 novel, Watts explores humankind’s quest for psychological security and stability in an age where human existence already seemed fraught by the growing instabilities of change and uncertainty.  He proposed that humanity, faced with the many potential threats of this existence, spends the majority of our time trying to control the future and mourn the past, while all along failing to truly experience and embrace the present moment; the “here-and-now”.  ​And it’s the present where all the action ultimately takes place.

According to Watts, our ongoing obsession with the past and future creates a constant state of self-imposed anxiety and insecurity, brought on by our constant efforts to know and control things from the past and future that we can’t truly know or control.  Stuck in ponderings of yesterday and tomorrow, we lose touch with the only moment we’re even truly capable of experiencing – this one, right here and now. Watts’s remedy for this soul-stifling state of insecurity lies partially in letting go of our past and future obsessions and embracing all of those possible outcomes openly, without judgment, as they come, so we can finally get on with existence in the present and allow our inner peace and wisdom to manifest.   The novel was entitled, The Wisdom of Insecurity, and it was my personal introduction to Zen Buddhism.

 

In our lives today we most certainly continue to face greater and greater change, risk and instability.  With ever-increasing population growth, rapid technological advancement, political turmoil, perplexing social dynamics and a further distancing between ourselves and the natural world – atop the pressures of daily life to boot, including our professional engagements, bills, relationships, kids (and all the pressures they face) – it’s no wonder that depression rates, substance abuse, suicides and our collective anxiety keep rising.  We appear to only be getting more stressed out, less fulfilled and further from inner peace and balance.  As if that’s not enough to make it challenging to get out of bed each day, the business owner can also add the pressures of running a business.  

Running a business, if it were to always work miraculously – operations flowing like a calm river, costs remaining as predictable as water from a tap, staff as happy as children eating melting ice cream at the beach and revenue rushing over us in waves – there’d quite likely be so much less to stress about.  ​But that’s an imaginary business at best.  Many of us have been pushed further than we’d ever imagined possible just to keep things going.

If it were easy to run your own show and be your own boss, more of us would do it.  The reality is that our businesses, when we truly give ourselves to them, offer plenty of very real reasons for worry and wear.  Particularly with small businesses, the risk of failure is high and the ebb and flow of short-term prosperity and challenge can be chaotic.  Running your own operation can be enough to keep you sweating and fatigued.  And all along, these pressures and anxieties can distract us from truly engaging in the most critical moments – those in the here-and-now – where we can actually gain the greatest benefits and exercise our greatest influence.

Before proceeding, I feel compelled to apologize to Mr. Watts, who, I fear, would from the grave, look upon my applying his philosophies to business in a semi-bastardized fashion and think, “I believe you may have missed my point.”  However, if you consider your own professional existence within your broader human story – as part of your collective mind-body health – it becomes easier to see the direct connections between our personal, spiritual and professional existence.  If Watts (and perhaps to a degree, Zen Buddhism in a larger sense) is correct in surmising that so much of our inner-conflict and struggle comes from our failure to openly embrace the present in all its glory and gloom, good and bad, yin and yang, openly and without judgment, would there not be value in exploring the remedy for that constant state of anxiety and lack of fulfillment?

I have found in Watts’s teachings, relevant life lessons worth applying​ to professional life and leadership as well.  These lessons focus on openly embracing the present and all the insecurities that inevitably come with business risk.

 

Lesson #1 – Heed your holistic health (mind, body and spirit)

Our mental health affects our physical existence.  In fact, it arguably effects most everything we do, at least on some level.  It’s usually pretty obvious to us when challenging work conditions impose stress and strain upon our human mind-body machines.  Even if we’re really good at managing our stress and believe we’re great at hiding its effects on us, our being anxious, not at peace and never quite fulfilled damages our health and hinders our abilities in so many ways.  In that state, we risk compromising our decision-making and professional relationships, as well as carrying that baggage around with us wherever we go.

On the other hand, when we have the tools to better cope with and navigate through our moment-to-moment environment, we gain optimism and confidence.  By Abraham Maslow’s hierarchical standards (a different discussion for a different time), with our basic needs satisfied, we get the opportunity to move on to grander things like deeper engagement in love, spirituality and self-realization. Beyond that, it simply feels far better to feel holistically good and healthy.  Alternatives – like feeling crummy – just aren’t sustainable in any good way.

Now, before moving on to Lesson 2…

If Watts was correct, much of the strain and lack of fulfillment we experience stems from our inability to secure our expectations precisely how and when we’d envisioned them.  When we place so much emphasis on evaluating the past or planning for the future, we risk sacrificing experience and actions in the present, where we have the greatest chance of witnessing truth and achieving ​influence.  We surrender the benefits of the present in exchange for academic intangibles and philosophizing ​which reign primarily over moments occurring some other time, where we have very limited control or influence.  In formal and informal planning, we set expectations and strive to predict and control related factors in hopes of achieving those specific ends.  Then, when we meet those future moments in the present, we tend to mentally step out of the moment to judge those experiences through qualitative filters like “favorable” or “unfavorable”, relative to how they match our previous expectations.  Those very expectations we had to try minimizing anxiety and insecurity come to contribute significantly to expanding them.

Despite our constant pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment, our environment continually presents change, challenge, opportunity and uncontrollable elements which seem to combat our pursuits. Even when we meet any of those expectations, we’re immediately presented with new expectations to pursue.  We’re constantly chasing an ever-threatening beast we just can’t catch. ​We set ourselves up for failure and, like Sisyphus, become engaged in a constant struggle in which we make only marginal advances at best.  The continual lack of fulfillment, relative to those expectations, creates a building agitation as a self-imposed condition of our very existence.  Our paradigm of planning, pursuit of those plans and evaluation of those plans can absorb and distract so much of our focus away from the here-and-now and in turn, unfavorably influence not only our experience of the present, but also the very outcomes we set out to accomplish in the first place.

That all brings me to the second lesson.

 

Lesson #2 – Enjoy the ride

Especially if we do what we do out of passion for what we do, things that detract from our joy and passion can work to strip the joy and passion away altogether.  If I live burdened under unproductive worries pondering the past or the threats of the inevitable changes ahead, regardless of how pressing they may seem, my ability to find passion or fulfillment in my work today becomes greatly hindered, or even impossible.  I might momentarily enjoy results, but I’m not truly embracing a present existence ripe with infinite possibility. ​ If you’re ever finding that all the pressures of running your own business take the fun out of it, then don’t immediately leap to the business concept, the model or the circumstances for answers.  The solution likely lies in you and your outlook.  ​

Consider changing your approach for how you face the elements that make up your experience.  Navigate by the stars, find your true north again, and steer the ship as appropriate, ready to face the unpredictable.  If you can restore your inner balance, you’ll have a much better shot at realizing your vision and enjoying the ride again.  We only truly realize our traces of genius in the present. The rest is mostly lamenting on the acknowledgment of it.

 

Lesson #3 – Embrace wellness to enhance performance

If any solutions – Zen or otherwise – enhance our wellness, that wellness will enhance our performance.  Beyond improved physical, mental and spiritual well-being, there are a number of additional practical performance benefits that can result from heeding Watts’s teachings.  If we openly accept and embrace all the uncertainty, change and insecurity we face in business, welcoming it all, the good and bad, the frightening and the familiar, and set aside our qualitative judgments of those experiences (as “good” or “bad”), simply seeing them as “being” when they are, then we accomplish more than simply defeating the anxiety and strain in our lives.  We also gain more power and influence over our day-to-day business experiences and how we respond to them.  And we gain more time to apply ourselves where (and when) it counts, which is beneficial from a cost-containment perspective, as well as when considering opportunity costs.

Our wellness, also makes us more a well-oiled machine of mind, body and spirit which, like a well-maintained vehicle, optimizes our performance as a leader and our contributions as human being.  We work better, cleaner and smarter.  We’re also more productive and efficient than we could otherwise possibly be.  In no other area is this more important than with our relationships.

Customer, employee and partner relations – from the boardroom through the supply chain to the homes and offices of our customers – influence every aspect of our success.  Our wellness heavily influences all of those relationships, what we bring to them and how those individuals respond to that which we bring.  Enlightenment reveals truth and truth manifests as authenticity.   A state of inner-peace and grace which facilitates our real-time, in-the-moment focus on each and every individual we encounter, moves us and the work we do closer to authenticity, to rightness, to Zen. If we expect that change to fall upon us from the will of someone or something else, we’ll be forever unfulfilled by that expectation.  The change must first come from within us.

 

Am I suggesting that small business success comes from giving up planning?  Or that you shouldn’t evaluate the past to improve how to improve?  ​

Not at all.

From a practical perspective, much of Watts’s teachings have seemed to me, contrary to the demands of human life and our ability to address those demands in a practical manner (although many of them are arguably self-imposed).  The personal hindrances that restrict my own full embracing of Watts’s teachings find their origins in the gaps between philosophical evaluation and practical modern life.  So yes, please do learn from the past. Just don’t dwell on it.  And yes, plan in order to be your best in the moments ahead.

What I’m really advocating for is a greater focus on each moment, each experience, each relationship, as they happen in the now.  It is in the present, not the past or future, that we have so much opportunity to share, learn, teach and embrace our existence together.  Take a tip or three from Alan Watts and try to strike a new balance between the “what” you were and want to be (i.e. your expectations) and the “what” which is in this very moment, right now, and the next moment… until our moments have passed for good.

It’s Not A Facelift You Need

Many small and medium-sized organizations see the value in refining their brand now and again.  Then when they get to it, they lunge forward armed mostly with personal opinions and their best guesses to produce what they think is a more modern, nifty look, logo and website … then they call it a day.  Even in academic circles, where we’re teaching this stuff, I hear talk about branding as if it were synonymous with building externally-facing design elements alone.  Look, it’s cool, I get that everyone wants to look young again at least some of the time.  But that’s not branding, it’s aesthetics.

That’s not to say that there’s no value in design updates.  But the greater branding value is found in truly re-evaluating and adapting your brand.  If you’re going to dive back into branding for your organization, for your sake, do it right.  Dig deeper than the surface.  Take a hard look at all that inspired and still inspires you and drives your work.  Reflect honestly and with an open mind, upon your past and present, your vision and mission, your actions and offerings with customers and in your respective communities.  Then clean out all which doesn’t belong there today and replace it with all that does – not just aesthetically, but across all areas of strategy and execution.  Anything worth doing generally takes some effort to do right.  The solution for truly revitalizing an organization’s brand isn’t a facelift, it’s a spiritual colonic (which I’m not personally recommending for human beings, but which works for my intentionally crude metaphor here).  Truly self-aware, authentic brands have greater meaning and equity for internal and external stakeholders alike.  And true, meaningful branding, from which true self-awareness is achieved and meaningful brand experiences are successfully delivered to your audiences, is much more comparable to engaging in a full-body cleansing – a detox, so to speak – than it is to Botox injections, a touch of silicone or some make-up and rouge.  Like any invasive medical procedure, rebranding may seem a daunting thing to take on.  While it’s probably gonna be uncomfortable at times and you may wonder mid-process whether it was a great idea, in the end (no colonic pun intended), doing it right and wisely will lead to greater overall health and a purer “self”.

No two brand campaigns are identical, but my experience has shown the following model to work for brand re-development across industries:

PHASE 1 – EXPLORE

  1. Re-evaluate and focus internally, within your organization. Search your brand’s soul, so to speak.  Delve into your organization’s core – your principles, your marketing and operations and your strategic decision-making criteria – and ask yourself, “What’s the difference between who we think we are and who we want to be?”
  2. Re-evaluate and focus externally, outside of your organization. Relearn your customers and prospective customers with a hungry curiosity.  Assess who they are, what they want and what they want from you.  If you’ve been established for any time at all, you can now base your analysis in part on your experiences with those customers.  Still, don’t make assumptions.  Research, analyze, rinse and repeat.  Openly explore, as if for the first time, how your markets see you, your offerings and your brand’s distinctions.  Regardless of how cool or strong you may think your brand is, you’re ultimately just static without your audiences.  And if you’re internal conclusions are unmatched to external perceptions, you may go a long way down the wrong path and have trouble finding your way back.
  3. Consider whether you need an external party’s perspective to help address the two items above in an unbiased and untainted manner. Although I’m a proponent of self-reliance, at least philosophically, the potential here for comparisons with conducting serious medical treatments on one’s self does come to mind.  My own experiences with clients, former employers and my own organization has shown me time and again that there’s tremendous gain in checking your own understandings against observations from outside your organization.  If you agree, secure those resources.

PHASE 2 – STRATEGIZE

Based upon your brand exploration and research, determine what the critical elements of your brand are today and build your strategy upon them.  Clearly identify for yourself that which is the same and that which must be different.  What’s your USP and does it still hold up?  What’s your brand baggage, the stuff you can get rid of?  What are your branding goals and how do they align with your brand promise?  Yup, I know, goal-setting is generally first.  That’d be fine if you based your brand mostly on what YOU want and what YOU believe.  Step outside of that.  I recommend starting with the search, keeping an open mind, and then determining what your findings mean in terms of where to go from there.

PHASE 3 – RE-BUILD

Focus every new brand decision about the new logo and website, the choice of social media, the business cards and the color palettes, as well as your copy and messaging, your prioritization, your product and service offerings, on elements that directly support your newly defined brand core.  Then, once you’ve solidly established your core, make sure you leave room for flexibility within implementation.  While brand focus and consistency will contribute to your brand’s value, building in some adaptability will serve you better in the long-game.  Offering a nod to Emerson, devoted adherence to consistency is more appropriate for politicians and theologians than business leaders and independent spirits.  Authenticity is not bound to consistency from day to day or year-to-year and truth can’t continue to be realized without continuous discovery.

Just write…something…anything!

I have a confession.  I’m guilty of one of the biggest crimes a modern communications professional can make; I’ve stopped communicating!

Okay, anyone who knows me knows that’s not really true.  I communicate plenty in my ongoing interactions with family, friends and the students I teach from across the planet.  I’m also constantly communicating with, for and on behalf of clients.  In fact, I produce seemingly endless amounts of content for those clients and their target markets. I’m constantly developing a broad range of marketing strategies for them and guiding the development of all forms of professional communications through all channels.  Nearly my entire job involves helping clients convey what they hope others will find value in hearing, seeing or reading.  What I haven’t been doing however, as is evident in my blog activity in recent years, is communicating on my own behalf, and on behalf of my boutique agency, that which I hope others will find value in hearing, seeing or reading.

Over recent years, I’ve made plenty of excuses to temporarily satisfy my own sense of guilt about this.  I’ve told myself that, due to my workload, I’ll just have to get to my blogging and social media communication after dealing with this client priority or that one.  I’ve told myself it didn’t really matter because my clients likely weren’t following my writing anyway, particularly because we’re communicating very regularly already.  I’ve been convinced at times that writing about my own personal reflections on business and life was only serving my own ego and offering little value to others.  And in the midst of the present social media landscape where everyone with an opinion seems to presume their opinion is worth sharing, I didn’t really want to be “that guy”.  While these claims may all have some validity for me personally, the outcome has still been the same; I’ve remained virtually silent in some of the most critical professional communication arenas.

Well, even if no one is listening now, even if it doesn’t really matter, even if I personally use (or don’t use) social media differently than I do for clients, it’s time to stop that habit of not communicating.  Somehow, I’d lost sight of a basic truth that I believe applies here.  You can’t generate a response, a reaction, without first taking some kind of action.  Inaction, or the failure to engage at all, leads to nothing at best and poor positioning at worst.  And effective communication requires at least being part of the dialogue.

So, it’s time to get back to work and to practicing what I preach.  For starters, I’m back to posting in this blog.  I may not always know whether my audiences will get the value I hope they’ll get from my words, but I’ll at least be engaging in the dialogue and inviting others to join in that dialogue.  I’ll be just doing something, writing something, anything, and taking some kind of action to contribute where I can.  Not acting results in nothing.  If you’re reading this, then you’ve already made it worth my writing it.  And for that I say, “Thanks!”

Curly’s “One Thing”

I know I’m dating myself here, but have you ever seen the film City Slickers?  The basic synopsis is that it’s a comedy about a group of guy friends from the big city on the verge of mid-life crisis who go on a western cattle ranching vacation and end up learning a bit about themselves in the process.  Anyway, there’s a scene in which one of the friends (played by Billy Crystal) is having a discussion about life with this really rough, intimidating old-fashioned sandpaper-and-gunpowder cowboy character named Curly (played by a now deceased Jack Pallance, I believe).  Curly tells our protagonist that the meaning of life is “this”, while he holds up one finger.  He then explains that while most of us “city folk” over-complicate things, life’s meaning really comes down to just one thing – the one thing that matters most.  And that one thing is different for different people.

Now, I’ll be honest and say that my work is not my “one thing”.  However, my work is motivated by my one thing.  When I think about the notion of “one thing” within a professional context though, what comes to mind directly relates to my personal life and my personal, true “one thing”.  So often it seems the key to successfully working through both personal and professional matters is about motivating people.  Successful leadership results from proper motivation.  Successful teaching and learning can only come with proper motivation.  Parenting seems to be about 90% motivation.  I direct an after-school rock band program for middle and high school students in my town, and the successes in that program result from proper motivation (some of which I can help manage, and some of which I can’t).  Sales – for products and services – are directly an outcome of motivating clients or customers.  Personal relationships, professional relationships, goal attainment and success all only become realized as a result of and in the midst of real motivation.

My point is that if I were to choose a “one thing” for business, the one thing that matters most, I think I might say it’s motivation.  Now, whether you agree or not, I’d recommend you at least consider the importance of motivating the folks who matter in your business – your peers and staff, your leadership, your clients and customers.  Always try walking in their shoes a bit.  Try learning from them.  Understand what motivates them.  And build that into what you do with and for them.

Short-Attention Span Motivational Speech

Ever hear of the marathon runner’s “wall”?  Many runners, in fact many athletes, have encountered reaching a point during their athletic performances at which they’ve felt physically and mentally incapable of continuing on – as if they’d literally hit a tangible, hard and unrelenting wall.  It can be very difficult to get past this point, so many are unable to finish and achieve their goals.  Others break through the wall, complete the race and even place among or above the best of their competitors.  Work and careers are a bit like a marathon too, or perhaps a series of marathons.  And we all hit those walls.  The trick isn’t to presume you can avoid them.  Success is about breaking through those barriers and doing what many around us fail to do – persevere.

Keep going!  Break through!  Risk is a necessary in business and life.  Failed efforts can teach us and make us stronger, wiser, better.  Failure is only truly failure when it stops you.

Say What You Mean…and Say It Short

Before I started writing this blog I wondered, “Who the hell would even want to read this?”  Most blogs are essentially just opinion forums – and some, maybe many, are even seemingly shameless efforts of self-promotion.  Does the world really need another blog and another opinion screaming out, “Listen to me…for God’s sake!”  Well, clearly my verdict is in, for better or for worse.  But with this concern in mind, I promised myself that I’d try to keep my blog entries real, relevant and fitting for potential readers.  So I’m continually trying to evaluate what might add the greatest value.  What would I want to read if I were you reading this blog?  The answer isn’t simple, but there are some guidelines I’m reminded that I should follow, which brings me back to the header for this post:

Someone famous (for the life of me, I can’t remember who, although I’m leaning toward Abe Lincoln) once said that it takes much more effort to say something with less words than it does to say the same thing with more words.  I think that’s true.  Sometimes we seem to struggle with so many words just to say even the simplest of things.  Yet we live in an increasingly busier, broader and shorter-attention span world.  Especially in business, we tend to want everything in bullets.  Marketers and customers often tend to want things summed up in a single tag-line or catch-phrase.  Now, while I think we often miss incredibly profound and beautiful elements in the details we sometimes overlook, I believe there’s a lot of value in heeding the notion of saying what you mean and doing so succinctly.  The more you work to clearly and briefly articulate what you hope to convey to others – friends, strangers, customers, or anyone – the less they’ll have to work to hear and understand you.  The more readily they understand you, the greater your chances that they’ll empathize and that your communications will be effective, influential, and lasting.

I’ll try to follow my own advice moving forward.

Is everybody happy? Does it really matter?

I’ve forgotten lots of stuff from my youth.  But one lesson that stuck with me came from my guitar instructor.  Although a nice guy for sure, I hadn’t thought of him as much of a sage back then.  But what he shared makes sense in so many ways now.  The message was this; No matter how great or terrible you are, no matter how hard you work or how little you work, no matter how normal or odd you may be, there will always be folks who like what you’re doing and always be folks who don’t.

I think as a kid that was a pretty frustrating thing actually.  The notion that I couldn’t make everyone love me – or more specifically at the time, my original music – felt pretty unacceptable.  And I suppose on some level, I’m still motivated to present the best ME I can to folks.  But the older I get, the easier it becomes to understand and accept that no one is for absolutely everyone.  Regardless of how hard we may try, we’re not a fit for everyone.

The same is absolutely true for business.

So let me present a question here.  Is ANY customer a GOOD customer?  Anyone who has experience running a business can tell you that some customers literally consume more resources than they’ll give back.  And there are customers who make other customers’ experience a negative one.  The truth is, while we may want to make all our prospective customers happy, we just can’t.  And in some cases, taking on or striving to keep some customers, just becomes detrimental.  Fit is extremely important.  And if you’re doing your work right, some customers will just be a better fit than others.

I’m raising this point because I see a common mistake made frequently in small business clients.  They’ll often frame their promotional efforts in a way that attempts to target everyone effectively.  So they’ll load their collateral materials up with messages, send a plethora of seemingly random social media content and images to try representing everything that might possible connect with any takers.  Unfortunately, in the process, they tend to reach very few in an effective, lasting way.

The moral?  Don’t sacrifice your target markets in an attempt to satisfy or please everyone.  While it’s generally a good idea to try not to offend, diluting your target market messages to satisfy the general, likely less loyal and lower revenue-generating masses will usually only lesson your impact.

Best App Ever – The New MWT App for Apple & Android

Actually, I’m just kidding.  In the midst of the whole “App” craze, I thought I’d play with the idea of having a Marketing With Teeth app for clients.  But when I was honest with myself, that prospect just made me laugh.

So what’s the deal with huge popularity of apps?  Don’t get me wrong, for marketers they’re great.  And for customers, they work great when the app offers users something of value.  I use about 8 to 10 of my smartphone apps on a regular basis.  I’m glad they exist.  But do I really need an app for deodorant?  And what the hell is that Nascar app on my phone for?  Somehow, I feel that if I get rid of the apps that came with my Smartphone (like that Nascar app), I’m somehow slighting myself and losing something that I received for free?  If it’s free, it can’t exactly be bad, right?

Here’s my point.  As a marketing guy, I think marketing sometimes gets a bad rap.  A lot of folks still see “marketing” and “sales” as synonymous and often they both get a undeserved bad wrap. But marketing and sales, performed right, results in a mutual benefit for both company and client.   There are however, times when I think the negative associations many consumers have with “sales” seem fitting.  So when do marketers and sellers earn bad reputations?  Well, how about when the marketing or sales being done is all about serving the company, and not about serving the customer?

The whole point behind Marketing With Teeth is really customization.  Effective marketing is about mutual benefit.  Marketing done well results in everyone being happy – in everyone gaining.  So the end user wins, the client wins, and any involved agencies or partners win.  But when apps don’t add value for customers, or when they’re largely just gimmicky, it just feels like shameless promotion of the organization driving the app.  Doesn’t it?

So what am I asking for?  Maybe there should be some kind of law requiring app applications to go through some kind of consumer or B2B review board which has to substantiate the app’s value for customers.  If it passes, the app goes through.  If it doesn’t – if they can’t prove true value for customers – then the company quietly goes back to the drawing board until they have something worth sticking on a phone.  You’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound real feasible…and I’d agree.

Or maybe I’m just asking organizations to think about whether their apps are providing that mutual benefit.  I’m not trying to get on a high horse here.  I’m really not.  Do whatever you want to do, I guess.  But I’d just like to encourage  you to think about it and think beyond yourselves.  We marketers have a reputation at stake.-)  And customers to serve.  Besides, I encourage thinking across the board.

Oh, and look for that soon to be released MWT app.-D

Welcome to the Blog With Teeth

Okay, that’s probably kind of overkill on the whole “With Teeth” thing, but what the hell, it sounded better than “Rich’s Blog.-(”

Anyway, welcome to the blog spot for Rich Tubiolo and Marketing With Teeth!  I’ll admit, the whole blogging concept is something I’m not completely in love with.  Yeah, I know, seems like a crappy thing to admit on a blog, right?  Here’s the thing.  Everyone has an opinion.  It’s a lot easier to have an opinion than it is to learn and shape an educated opinion.  And more and more folks seem to want to express their opinions to an increasingly larger audience.  People want to share their random thoughts about life, philosophy, work, love, music, recreation, sleep, brushing their teeth, or simply opinions about other people’s opinions.  And blogging so often seems to end up being just a masturbatory forum for folks spewing these opinions.  I don’t presume to think that my daily reflections, adventures, or critiques about life’s little annoyances are going to be of great value to my busy clients, friends, or students.  So I’ve wondered, what good would starting a blog actually be to those I might hope would read it?  Why do a blog?

The answer is that I’ve realized there are things worth saying – things I find myself saying or wanting to say to many different clients, friends, or students –  which don’t always find another venue for being said.  I realized that there are ways to offer value to prospective blog audiences, as long as I keep one primary question in mind.  Here it is.   What’s in it for your audience?  As a marketer and communicator, I’m always focusing on the great importance of this question.  I feel it’s probably the most critical element to all successful communications and negotiations.   And it definitely seems like the right criterion for this blog and it’s content.  So as I begin and plan to continue writing here, I’ll continue to ask myself, “What’s in it for my audience?”

Now, don’t get me wrong, you’ll likely be seeing my opinions and reflections here too.  Afterall, I’m human.  And now, I’m a blog writer too.-)  But I’ll try to keep it all relevant and target-audience-oriented.  I’ll plan to share what I can, perhaps even teach.  But I’m doing this to learn from you too.  So I encourage any of you reading this to speak right back up when you have something to say.  If you’d like to respond to something in this blog, please send me an email at rich@marketingwithteeth.com.

Cheers!

Rich