Newsletter: Issue I (4/15/2011)


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In this newsletter:

Attention 101
A Story

Attention 101

I'll tell you how to get attention, so pull up a chair and listen closely. Here are my top ten tips for gathering an audience:

1) Go where the people are. In your niche, where do people congregate? Make a list of the popular communities in your niche, contact the people who own them, and invite them to coffee. Link to them and refer to them online. Ditto for offline venues... find the groups and people locally who can ripple what you do to others - and then connect.

2) Publish your content as broadly as you feasibly can. The vast majority of your potential audience won't be available when you're talking about what you do. This is the TiVo generation. We pay attention at our own convenience. If your work is not available to people at their convenience, you'll have a hard time attracting people to you.

3) Remember: three things sell. Humor, how-to, and passion. You have about 30 seconds to grab new people to you, and if you don't quickly pull them to you with one of those three, they'll lose interest. Your content has to start out with a punch.

4) Talk and write directly to the person in your audience - script as little as possible. Personal works. If you read from a piece of paper or a teleprompter, it comes off professorial. Make it personal. Ad lib. It's okay if you don't touch every point... just roll with it. Like you do in everyday conversation. Let me ask you - if you stood on a street corner and read aloud from something you wrote to the people around you, everyone would likely ignore you. Right? But if you looked one person in the eye and just talked with them in conversation, your audience would be 100% larger. Reach and connect as personally as you can.

5) What you do is not about you - it's about your audience. If you fail to interact with them, they will likely fail to interact with you. When I produced my cell phone art, other people started to send me their own artwork. So you know what I did? I published it on my web site and celebrated their achievements as much as my own. You know what they did? They invited their circle to come visit me. By bringing attention to them, they brought attention to me. Provide a method for contact. Recognize their recognition of you. Relationships build loyalty. And remember names... Cheers had it right - people want to go where everyone knows their name.

6) Get involved, even if it's pro bono. Offer your expertise in activities and events around your niche. I've given away programming and strategy advice and some of my art. Trust me - it will come back to you later.

7) Work to do something unique within your niche. In my strategy consulting, I ask companies and individuals what they do that differentiates them from others. Don't have an answer for that? Work to find or create one. If you do have an answer to your uniqueness, highlight the crap out of it. I created art on a cell phone. Weird, right? But Steve Karlin at KCCI wanted to interview me for it, 40,000 people watched my videos on YouTube about it, and LG contacted me within two months and later paid me with money and a free trip to Beverly Hills. Why? Because I was different.

8) Celebrate failure. Want to know what gets a ton of attention on the Internet? Failure. All those videos of crashing and falling... it's web-based rubbernecking. But you know what else gets attention? The underdog. People root for the underdog. People love a good story. I've created about 10 businesses. You know how many netted me a million dollars? None. Does that deter me? Nope. Some people pay attention to me because they like to watch my story unfold. The same will be true with you. A little drama in your story is good for the telling. And it keeps you honest and transparent.

9) Use your position as a leader in your niche to create opportunities for others to succeed. If people see that you believe in them, they'll hang around you. We all need positive energy to succeed. If things are going well for you, look for ways to create opportunity for others who choose to create their own luck through you. Then applaud them as they move toward success.

10) Finally... Radiate joy in your niche. However it is that you specialize, you are an evangelist for your specialty. You are out to convert people and motivate the converted. Is your niche music? Politics? Religion? Business? Health? The environment? Whatever it is, joy is contagious. Even if I'm not interested in your niche, when you smile, I'll reflexively smile with you. Since your niche is something you love, let the love shine through... it will attract others to you.

That's my top at-ten-tion getters. Go get 'em!

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A Story

At Thanksgiving, some families tell stories to each other while everyone is gathered around. So I thought I would tell you a story...

The first time I attended the Iowa State Fair, and perhaps the most memorable one, was not to attend the fair, but a concert. I think it was in 1981. Triumph, 38 Special, and a few other bands were playing. Back then, I owned a certified hippie vehicle: a flower-curtained, powder blue with white top Volkswagen Minibus. I'd purchased it like a week earlier. My best buddy, Jim, drove the six of us there. I had no idea how to drive a stick yet and didn't have my license (long story there...)

The concert was fine. Rik Emmett, Triumph's guitarist, was awesome, and that's all that mattered. But it was the ride home that proved memorable.

The concert ended late in the night, and we all got into the van. Jim drove home. As we headed back for my home town of Sioux City, Iowa, everyone in the back of the van passed the bong pipe and Jim and I sat in the front seats.

Somewhere just north of where 680 joins 29, Jim told me that he was too tired to drive. A quick survey of the group in back found them too stoned to drive. Me - and typically for me - I was wired and wide awake. So Jim pulled over to the side of the road and he and I swapped seats. Now, if you've ever driven a minibus, it has a stick about two feet tall coming up off the floor of the van. Jim tried to coach me into how to maneuver the clutch and stick, but lessons taught at 1 AM on the shoulder of the interstate aren't always fruitful.

So Jim took over again. But about 10 minutes into the drive, he started to nod off, and I caught him, and he righted himself. So he proposed that he and I switch seats - while he was driving.

Donna from the back shouted, "You've got to be kidding. You're get us killed if you try that."

Carl, in his typical Carl way, said, "This is gonna be excellent."

The other two were half-asleep.

Jim lifted himself from his seat, I slid in behind him. Then the van started to lurch as it slowed down.

Jim looked over his shoulder at me. "You'll have to put your foot on the gas pedal or we'll kill our speed." And with that, he stepped on the gas pedal again and we were back to 55 mph.

"You guys are going to get in a wreck," said Donna.

"This is choice," said Carl.

I worked my foot underneath Jim's and floored it. There was no finessing the pedal in the position I was in. Fortunately for me, my van topped out at 65 mph. I worked my way up into the driver's seat and Jim stepped over the stick while holding onto the wheel. Amazingly, the van didn't swerve much during the exchange. A moment later, I took over the steering wheel.

Jim looked at me from the passenger seat, smiling. "You got it?"

"I'm good!" I replied, beaming.

Carl: "That was awesome."

Donna: "No, that was scary."

The rest of the drive was uneventful. When we got to Sioux City, I took my foot off the gas and then moved the stick into neutral until we coasted to a stop and them Jim took over again and dropped everyone off.

Donna didn't speak to me for a week.

This Thanksgiving, I'm reminded of how many stupid things I've done in my life that by some miracle didn't kill me. So I am, and will always be, incredibly thankful for this wonderful adventure I get to enjoy :)

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