Books, blogs and Burma
crossposted to Snapshot Chronicles
We interrupt our discussion of blogger relations, good and bad, to bring you some news from around the blogosphere from friends new and old.
First, from my good friend Yvonne DiVita. In addition to being one of the leading experts on marketing to women online, Yvonne runs Windsor Media Enterprises, a print-on-demand publishing company that guides authors through the self-publishing process. This fall, they are going to put on a conference called Books, Blogs and Beyond: Publishing 3.0, and they are asking for our input to create a program truly relevant to the attendees' needs. If you are an aspiring author, or even just interested in the impact of social media like blogs on the publishing process, please take their survey. Let Yvonne and her team know what you'd like to know.
Speaking of authors, this week the momosphere was alive with buzz about Sleep Is for the Weak, the upcoming collection of essays by parent bloggers edited by Rita Arens. Read the story of how Rita shepherded this project from her dream to a reality on her blog Surrender, Dorothy, and then immediately add the blog to your feed reader. She is an excellent writer, as are the many moms, and one dad, included in the book. I can't wait to get my copy, already pre-ordered on Amazon.
One reason I am so excited about her book, apart from the fact that Rita is an awesome woman who deserves the success and accolades that are and will be coming her way as the result of the book, is that it will expose an even larger audience to the amazing writing on parent blogs. Major media always seems to focus on mom blogs as a market, the privacy issue -- that parents are writing about their kids, and dooce. What it misses is what a damn fine group of writers this is, and not just Heather Armstrong. I read many blogs. Some of the best writing BY FAR is on parenting blogs, and not just about their kids. Politics, culture, sex, travel, art, photography, philanthropy, the economy. Just some of the topics you'll find on parenting blogs along with daycare, diapers and disasters.
Finally, here's a simple way to donate to the relief effort in Burma that won't cost you a cent, just a comment. Leave a comment on this post at digTrends by May 31st, and Digital Influence Group will add $10.00 to its donation check to the US Campaign for Burma. They've capped the donation at $5,000 -- that's 500 comments on their post, and I hope they get there. Hat tip, Mack Collier on Twitter.
Earlier this week, I ran across a new book called Blogging Heroes.
And no disrespect to any of the bloggers profiled or the author, I am appalled at the title of the book.
In fact, disgusted.
What appalls me? The use of the term hero.
The book profiles 30 high-profile bloggers. Whether we need yet another book profiling a few top-ranked bloggers, I'll leave to the market to decide.
But the bloggers profiled aren't heroes. Blogging PEOPLE, in the sense of the gossip magazine, or Blogging Superstars? Sure. Those are already trivial terms and seem eminently suitable for this "literary" work.
But to call them heroes trivializes the term.
And that really offends me.
The folks profiled in the book have done a great job building and promoting their blogs. That makes them interesting, and perhaps good, examples. But they aren't heroes.
Blogging heroes are people like Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet who has used her own diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, a very rare form of breast cancer that is not diagnosed from a lump in the breast, to spread the word about IBC. To the point of giving up her anonymity in the process. That's a hero.
And not just Susan. Many, many people use their blogs to chronicle their battles against life-threatening and fatal diseases. To help others. Stricken with the disease or simply trying to support someone who is. They are heroes.
Milbloggers. Young men and women thrust into a war not of their making, but determined to serve their country. I don't necessarily share their politics, but I have no doubt that bloggers like Chuck, who blogs at From my position on the way and who was seriously injured in Iraq last year protecting a fellow soldier, or Jean-Paul, now in his second tour as a Guardsman, are a lot closer to a hero than some business blogger.
Parents, lovers, partners, friends, children, siblings. There are examples all over the blogosphere of people sharing their sadness at the loss of the loved one. And chronicling the process of healing. Sure, sharing their own pain may be in small measure cathartic, but to do it so publicly? That's heroic.
And we haven't even touched on the political. Dissidents in politically oppressive regimes who use the blogsphere to spread the word. At great personal risk. Native reporters in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan who continue to dig for news, at great personal risk. Sometimes death. These are heroes.
Everyday, people put their hearts, souls and beliefs online. And not for link rank. For love. For a cause. That's heroic. Because it just might help someone else. Whether it is someone the person knows, or someone she's never met... it doesn't matter.
So, count me offended at a book called Blogging Heroes. Because somehow, no matter how highly ranked, how popular, how famous...
They aren't heroes.
At least not mine.
[Bonus Link: Scott Baradell is equally unimpressed.]
Into the Dragon's Den and some Summer Reading
1998 ... my year as Director of Corporate Communications at The Learning Company. Twas an interesting time, bookmarked by the acquisition by TLC of its chief competitor Broderbund in the early part of the year and the acquisition of TLC by Mattel at the end of the year. In early 1999, I returned to Cyber Patrol as VP/General Manager and proceeded to spend the next year or so helping sell the unit, at a hefty profit I might add.
TLC was an interesting place. And no one was more interesting than company president Kevin O'Leary, who will probably go down in software industry history for his comparison of software to cat food.
Gotta say, if your livelihood doesn't depend on him, he is a funny bastard. Enjoy!
Geoff Livingston over at The Buzz Bin posted a query to a bunch of us PR/Marketing types on Facebook over the weekend: What's On Your Social Media Reading List? The usual suspects made the list -- Cluetrain, Naked Conversations, Debbie Weil's Business Blogging book, Hobson & Holtz's new podcasting book, and so on. But there were also some interesting, and new, suggestions, and I urge you to check out the list for yourselves.
My contribution? I believe that one of the biggest hurdles to understanding social media, and how to work in this new world, is learning how to think differently. Not just out of the box. Get rid of the box. Think about things in a whole new way. I suggested people should read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, Gonzo Marketing by Chris Locke and Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.
What am I reading now? Beyond Buzz by Lois Kelly, with The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott and Everything Is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger on deck.
Class Acts: Laurence Haughton
Some time ago I mentioned a book by author Laurence Haughton on a blog I was then writing for. To my surprise, I got an email from him thanking me for the mention and asking if I'd like to read his (then) new book It's Not What You Say, It's What You Do. Of course, I said.
I read it. Really liked it. Have been intending to review it for about a year now. Yup. Good intentions, but on this, Susan gets F for follow through.
Until today that is. And this still isn't a real review. But it is an unqualified endorsement for the book and the author. Here's why.
I'm using the book in an executive outreach program for one of my clients. The theory is a top notch business book like this one might make it past the CEO's gatekeeper. Certainly better than a pen or a gimmick.
Here's an excerpt from our cover letter:
Houghton explains how research at 160 big companies proves that it isn’t the strategy that makes the difference, although it certainly helps to have a good one. It’s the execution that drives success:
“What makes or breaks a company’s performance is its grasp over management’s most basic mission – to make sure everyone at every level follows through.”
Is everyone on your team executing the strategy for maximum impact? Probably not. This book can help you and them get it done. Haughton takes you step by step, example by example, through the four crucial building blocks for following through.
The overall theme of the book was a good fit for the market, and our product ties in very naturally. We do this later in the letter; if you'd like to see it, email me.
But here's the kicker: Haughton just didn't write a great book -- he lives it. He offered to autograph the books for us, with personalized signatures no less, and when UPS screwed up the pick-up to ship the books back to us, he drove it to the local UPS office. Above and beyond the call of duty. True follow through. A real class act.
Thanks, Laurence. And, readers, if you haven't already, get this book!
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Microsoft LiveMeeting: The Art of Follow-Through
Just a quick note about a Microsoft LiveMeeting you might want to check out.
WHAT: The Art of Follow-Through: How to make sure that every team executes successfully
WHO: Laurence Haughton, author of It’s Not What You Say… It’s What You Do – How Following Through at Every Level Can Make or Break Your Company and co-author of It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small… It’s the FAST that Eat the Slow
WHEN: February 28, 9am PST
The best laid plans usually fall apart in the execution.
Haughton's latest book and this seminar are about avoiding the pitfalls of poor execution. With his pragmatic advice and specific suggestions, you can actually achieve the results, even if you aren't Clark Kent.
Check it out -- cause, hey, M$ is paying :-)