I have been blogging for a whole two months now and am starting to get a feel for the tool and the space. Realizing that these are early days yet, there are some observations worth marking.
1. Who is most curious? Definitely marketers. I am meeting awesome bloggers and the thing is that a blog is pretty much a tool; what comes out in the end is you. So the way you behave -- Oh, behave! -- mirrors pretty much who you are. People who share knowledge, content and often their hard-earned family and fun time with you do it more often than not for the love of it. So why are marketers more curious? Because they are the first ones to follow you back to your blog, test some of your ideas, play with your format, and -- this is a big one -- make interesting comments. This is the 'give back' equivalent in blog speak. Who do you call a marketer? Good question. I would put in that bucket all truly curious people who have a genuine desire to learn. Leadership coaches and tech entrepreneurs may also fit in that definition, for example.
2. Who are your heroes? There are many. The answer to this question goes hand in hand with some of my observations above. It is more an attitude of openess to engage in a conversation than skill, although skill has its place. I suppose you'd like some names.
- Guy Kawasaki is my favorite blogger -- I read even all the highly technical and somewhat geeky posts because his writing is so easy and approachable, just like the person. One of his essay-format posts may draw dozen of comments in the first few minutes. Comments he reads and often responds to. I am pretty sure Guy is a busy entrepreneur, yet he also makes time to respond to personal emails. And he does that in real time, not weeks later. He does that consistently, regardless of who you are. I did not know much about his world before he started blogging. Now I want to read all his books and related start-up material. He makes it so interesting and useful.
- Seth Godin -- need I say more? He tops all the blogger charts every single time. What I like about his posts and style is that he strikes a wonderful balance between sharing knowledge in new ways, making you think harder, and inspiring you to try something different. My bias for execution is satisfied every time I experiment with the ideas and energy generated by one of his posts. I confess I have to hold back as I often feel many of his thoughts are so valuable I should be broadcasting them as well. Instead, I work more on digesting, testing and possibly posting on what I've made of it. Seth is also incredibly generous on a personal level. This makes me want to work even harder to evangelize the art and science of marketing.
- Back in Skinny Jeans Stephanie writes the trendiest blog out there. Her metaphor resonates very deeply with many. "Wearing the skinny pants," she writes, "means that we are beautiful, accepted, acknowledged and desired." Read more about it here. Read it a couple of times. Sassy and smart all packaged as creative and tech-savvy. Stephanie has been incredibly encouraging of my efforts and a trusted and responsive friend over the last few weeks.
- Harry Joiner's Marketing Headhunter - And I'm not saying that just because of what he does. Harry posts smart, interesting, and useful information on getting in front of recruiters and finding ways to distinguish yourself. Harry responded to my 'hi, I'm here' introduction message with a phone call. Who takes the time to write or call these days? Interested people. So he's one of my favorites of the blogosphere because your experience of him is consistent with what he portrays in his writing. No recruitment-speak, no hidden subtext, just plain passion for his work, enthusiasm and professionalism.
What do they all have in common? Passion. Spirit. Professionalism. Generosity. Skill. I read and comment on around 30 blogs regularly. The above are just so exceptional that I felt they deserved special attention. So what are the others I really enjoy?
- Bob Sutton - Work Matters. And the insightful knowledge Bob shares is important.
- Tom Peters - The way he weaves the key learnings from business books into digested form alone are worth reading.
- Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen - Design thinking matters.
- Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users - Some of the most interesting user design conversations take place here.
- Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion - Lots and lots of tips, resources, skill, heated conversations and good writing. Steve is also very fast in responding to constructive questions.
- Diego Rodiguez Metacool - From the creative genius of IDEO some of the yummiest designs and intelligent design conversations.
- Chris Anderson' The Long Tail - I keep trying to figure out how to apply the information gleaned here and in his book to work and life.
There are many more, of course. Many of those who have engaged in conversations on my blog have themselves interesting and intelligent blogs -- hint, go find the comments and follow them to the owners' blogs.
3. What can you tell me about Typepad? It is so easy to use and personalize that I recommend it to anyone who's getting started. During my research I looked at existing blog designs and checked out who used what tool. It turns out that all the blogs I really liked were created with Typepad so that did it. If you have time (duration: 17:30) to watch a video, here's a link to an interview with Mena Trott, the 28-year old founder of Six Apart, creators of Typepad, Movable Type, LiveJournal, and Vox. In it, she explores the personal side of blogging.
4. Why are you blogging? This is the million-dollar question. To simplify, the main reasons are two. On the professional side, blogs and social networks are becoming the hot topic of the days for everyone these days, particularly for marketers and communicators. How could I begin to talk about using one as a tool without knowing what goes on in the blogosphere?
On the personal side, I love learning and using the information I process. For many years I have done that through the facilitated live conversations we had with Fast Company magazine readers' network in Philadelphia. We still get together regularly to discuss business topics often in a positively disruptive fashion. I felt ready to do more. To embrace a larger audience, possibly, forge connections with more people, and let virtual mentors inform my thinking at closer range. I mentioned it elsewhere, the disciplined writing and exploring this tool affords me is just what I need at this stage in my professional, and personal, growth. There's a whole conversation on challenging mental models here that I'll save for another day.
One final thought. Thank you for reading this post. I am grateful for the space you dedicate to this writing and for the gift of your comments and feedback. Thank you should be a word, thought and gesture we are intimately acquainted with in many languages, cultures, and media.