An Honest Look at Discipline

by Josh Opinion on April 26, 2013

If I’m honest with myself, I’m pretty lazy.

I convinced myself that’s OK because I’m pretty smart too.

Together that’s a bad combination.

You find some pretty creative ways to get shit done so you don’t have to deal with the way normal people handle things.

Handling stuff in a normal fashion takes too long.

But then it dawned on me I really lack a lot of discipline to follow through on stuff.

(By “stuff”, I mean the important things)

Following up with people.

Getting healthy.

Learning something new.

Creating experiences.

All that entails a high level of discipline.

When I try to push myself towards something, there’s a lot of pain.

Pain from frustrations of beginners mind when there is a lot of enthusiasm but you realize you suck because you really don’t understand what you’re doing. (ie right now its learning how to program)

Pain from stepping outside of your comfort zone. Being proverbially naked and exposed – vulnerable. (ie right now its going out on dates)

Discipline is what helps you cope with the pain to better yourself.

I’m lacking that.

To fill that void, cultivating discipline begins with the small things (at least in my head)

Eventually being disciplined in the small things will lead to being disciplined in the big things.

Compound interest for self improvement if you will.

Maybe it’s time to try this discipline thing out.

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One Sunday a priest yelled at me.

… and an entire congregation filled with senior citizens.

He thinks I’m the one going to hell.

Why?

Because I didn’t bow during one part of the Apostle’s Creed.

He deemed it “disrespectful” and a necessary add-on to the hundreds of formal procedures requisite for a mass to go on.

That Sunday wasn’t the turning point where I turned a blind eye towards organized religion. I believe it has a place for some people. It shapes and challenges you to think. Hopefully it ends up in challenging who you are and your faith.

It did challenge me.

Diving into my faith moved me away from the church. My faith in God is stronger than ever. I just technically don’t have the backing of the church anymore.

Organized religion is no longer for me.

I grew up in a pretty religious household. Both parents were devout Catholics. I was sent to a Catholic school from pre-school to high school.

Church every week.

(sometimes twice a week)

You become quite accustomed to it.

Church elders will tell you to seek the Bible for answers to problems.

The Bible is sought as a reactive solution a lot of the times.

Problem XYZ happened.

What does the Bible say?

Repent and you’ll be less of a sinner.

It’s very easy to latch on to the Bible. It has a lot of check boxes for salvation if you look in the right places.

The Bible is one of my greatest teachers because I question Its answers. There is one next to me as I type this. There are 2 manuals of interpretations next to me too.

What people don’t tell you is to ask your own questions and find your own answers.

(You’re allowed to)

They don’t tell you that you find glimpses of faith when you search for the answer to your question, when logic has expired and you just have an instinct of what is right and wrong and what is.

My question was who is God.

I still don’t have a definition.

My definition however isn’t based in original sin and a systematic routine of prostrations, obedience, sacrifice, and repentance to wash away something we were “born” with.

I hope yours isn’t either.

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The Story of the Tattoo that Took 5 Years to Get

by Josh Opinion on April 24, 2013

What you see above is a tattoo I got done on March24, 2013 to celebrate my dad’s 5th year anniversary when he returned Home.

When I was driving back from my mom’s house, I randomly decided to get it done to commemorate his 5th year anniversary.

It wasn’t so random though.

In 2001, I went on a spiritual retreat in high school. Each of the participants received letters from family and friends. My tattoo transposes how my dad signed off on his letter to me.

It took me 5 years to do this tribute to him, because I didn’t want to explain my dad’s story if someone saw it.

I didn’t want to explain how his doctors said his cancer was gone but the chemo made him weak and vulnerable. I didn’t want to explain how I watched my dad deteriorate in 2 weeks. I didn’t want to explain I watched a priest give him last rights.

But after 5 years, I realize I have another story to tell. It’s the story of a man who taught me how to love unconditionally. The story of a man who was imperfect but had a kind and gentle soul.

The story of my dad who was my best friend and continues to be my teacher.

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Where digital marketing is heading

by Josh Opinion on April 24, 2013

Marketing is now more than just getting in someone’s face.

It’s more than creating community and having people be ambassadors and champions of your brand/product/service.

The evolution of marketing lies in discovery – the personal moment when intent meets its answer and then the extension of connecting them with their intimate circles of friends, family, and people they trust the most.

The future of marketing will be done by those who are able to connect people’s social circles together seamlessly.

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Blogs on Social Media

by Josh Opinion on December 12, 2011

Had a friend ask me this question today:

Do you know of any good blogs my Marketing Assistant can follow to learn more about social media marketing?

Here are the things I follow on Google Reader and Mixtab to keep my learn on (in no particular order)…

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Phone Trees and Social Media

by Josh Opinion on November 28, 2011

Remember phone trees?

Before the dawn of group messaging, e-mails, and Facebook, there were phone trees and they played a vital role in me not going to school.

When I was in grade school, the school would give these out to parents at the beginning of the year.

Anytime there was an emergency (like when school had to be shut down for winter storms), the school would call a few people and then those people would call a few more, so within an hour everyone got the message that school was cancelled.

What does that have to do with social media?

Phone trees have two important elements.

First, there was a defined path for a message to be distributed through multiple channels.

Second, the message was important and urgent enough to spread around quickly.

Those two factors should be a part of building your social media strategy- connecting with the right people and sites who want to distribute your content and creating compelling content that is interesting or important enough to get passed around quickly.

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Another Use for Twitter Lists – Content Curation

by Josh Opinion on November 23, 2011

Here is a simple content curation strategy that will produce helpful content to your followers as well as show some respect and love to bloggers and influencers in your industry/niche.

Content Curation Using Twitter Lists

  1. Create a Twitter list of 25 or more Twitter influencers in your industry. (To do this, use Twitter directories such as WeFollow or Follower Wonk and sort out the top tweeps. Don’t try to find sites that simply aggregate posts or users who just share other people’s posts, find actual tweeps who write and make their own content.)
  2. Once you have the Twitter list developed, set up an account with paper.li
  3. Inside your account on paper.li, create a new paper
  4. When adding feeds, simply add the Twitter list you created in Step 1
  5. Pretty up your page, set the time you want it to post to your account, and your done

You now have a relevant piece of content for your audience and that you can distribute anywhere you like. Also, each time it gets published, paper.li has an automatic setting that will mention some of the top tweeps mentioned in the article.

Wait a few days or a week and see if those bloggers respond back to you, thank you for publishing them… I have a strong feeling some will… what a great ice breaker :)

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How to pitch a blogger

by Josh Opinion on November 14, 2011

Blogger outreach should be at the core of any social media campaign, especially if you are a small brand or startup.

While your individual outbound engagement campaigns should focus heavily from your social media channels, creating word of mouth through blogger outreach campaigns has more of an immediate and far reaching impact if you are unknown.

One last important note before going into some specific strategies of writing an e-mail, creating relationships with bloggers is in my opinion one of the best ways to create an experience with your brand. Instead of having someone generating an experience with a product or service, they are experiencing your brand’s culture through interacting with someone within a brand. 

That seems like common sense.

But common sense is not too common nowadays.

Strategies you can put to use immediately:

  1. Subject Line: This is vital. If you are writing generic subject lines, you are losing the game. High quality and popular bloggers get pitched every single minute by a multitude of brands. 

    If you don’t know where to start, read up on direct response copywriting. You’ll need to understand in outreach campaigns the game is for people to take an action and communicate with you.

    One technique that worked for me was to use the following formula: “Re:

    Using that simple subject line formula, you have 2 elements. The “Re:” beginning makes your e-mail as if it was an ongoing communication with the particular blogger you are pitching. Furthermore, it stands out in an inbox.

    Think about your inbox right now. What grabs your attention, a generic e-mail line or an ongoing e-mail relay you have going on with someone.

    The second element shows you have read or at least paid attention to what the blogger is talking about. This should be genuine. You need to actually read the blogger’s content and find something you can connect with and form an open dialogue with.

    Bloggers can read and sense bullshit. You can too. You’re not fooling anyone if you are not being sincere. 

  2. First paragraph: Connect on common ground.

    Every single line serves a purpose in the e-mail. The purpose of the first line is to entice the blogger to read the second line. The purpose of the second line is to entice the blogger to read the third line. 

    You get my point.

    I have found talking directly about a particular post and how it helped me or how I related to it is the best “ice breaker”. In the past I worked in-house for a women’s skin care brand. How does a 27 year old male working for a women’s skin care brand relate to beauty bloggers?

    I worked hard to find common ground I could relate to or more importantly understood our customers and their frustrations related that back to the blogger’s particular post. 

  3. Second Paragraph: How can you help the blogger.

    From what you connected with in the first paragraph, you should introduce how your brand can help the particular blogger. It might be something specific the blogger has been struggling with or it can be something a little more generic like how your brand can help the blogger’s community. This paragraph should be about how you can add value to the blogger.

    Solve a problem. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your product or service is so great that the blogger can assume what your product or service can do for them.

  4. Third Paragraph: Introduce your brand.

    This should be short and in as few words/sentences as possible let them know what your brand is about.

    The purpose of this paragraph is to add relevance and a frame of reference to the paragraphs above.

  5. Fourth Paragraph: Create a call to action.

    The call to action is to get more information from the blogger. Perhaps you want to send a product for review, maybe it is to write a guest post, etc. Your call to action should be crystal clear where if the blogger is interested in you that they know what to do.

  6. Sign Off: Leave them better than you found them.

    This is simpler than I made it sound. Always leave a blogger (or anyone you meet in general) feeling better than when you first contacted them. This could be thanking them for their time, adding some personal commentary, or using a unique sign off.

    Make this part memorable.

The above is the basic format I used to get in touch with some of the best bloggers in a particular niche.

The key part is to be sincere as possible and actually care about the blogger and their community. If you lack authenticity and write a BS e-mail, its the fastest way to hurt your social media campaign. 

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Targeting Your Audience Through Twitter and YouTube

by Josh Opinion on August 4, 2011

This is a small example of how you can target an audience through Twitter.

In this example we are taking a look at the behavior of what happens when people link their social media accounts to YouTube and their actions on the YouTube platform is syndicated across their other social networks.

The beautiful part of Twitter is the information is open, so through this example we are using Twitter search to hone down people’s affinity to a particular topic.

Building a Target Audience Using Twitter

Targeting an audience through Twitter and YouTube

As a loyal Baltimore Ravens fan, this example is finding people who liked Ray Lewis on YouTube. When you have your Twitter account linked to YouTube, you get their URL shortener “youtu.be” and usually an automated message with “I liked” in it. So for this search we used the following string:

“I liked” Ray Lewis youtu.be

This tells Twitter to find people who used the like feature on YouTube while viewing Ray Lewis demolishing opposing opponents.

From the screen shot above, you can see a few examples that popped up when I ran the search for this post.

How does this audience identification strategy apply to me?

If you are a Ravens blogger, wouldn’t you want to find other Ravens fans to engage with? What if you went one step further- checked out the person’s Twitter profile. See if they had a blog, learn what they do- ie start networking and building relationships online.

So what… how does this apply to brands?

Per se I run the social media account over at Fat Head (the company that makes those huge and awesome wall stickers)…

  • I could build a Twitter list based on these types of searches, watch the videos to gain insights on to why these people liked these videos. Notice 2 of the videos in the example above was the same topic of Ray Lewis crushing Dustin Keller. Could it be Ravens fans hate the Jets? Was it Ray Lewis making a monster hit? After doing enough of this type of research, how could you develop that into a future product (ie do people like still shots of football players or of them in action?)
  • On a more superficial level, a brand could engage and help build awareness/word of mouth online. Maybe reach out and send them a coupon for Fat Head, give them a free gift dealing with the Baltimore Ravens, etc., etc.

There is a lot of opportunity in just knowing where and how to look in conversations.

Why Search for YouTube Links on Twitter?

Why not just use a regular search on Twitter for people talking about Ray Lewis?

It’s one thing to simply tweet.

It’s one thing to simply share a link to an article.

But when people share videos, they are sharing an emotion. They are sharing something a little more dynamic… if you are able to understand what they were feeling when they viewed a particular video, if you are able to relate to their emotions, if you are able to understand their motivation for searching for a video and sharing it, you have a head start in engaging that person and understanding how you can add value to them.

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How to Search for Presentations and White Papers

by Josh Opinion on April 28, 2011

How to Find White Papers and Presentations

Established blogs, thought invoking bloggers, and even major websites share amazing, deep, and insightful information on the WordPress platform. Often times these are curated as a formal presentation, white paper, or case study. The problem is, sometimes these informative pieces are not published for regular public download or consumption. Often they are pieces distributed when signing up for a webinar or they are high value pieces of content exchanged for your e-mail.

Luckily with this advanced Google search query you can find hopefully find interesting content that expands your thinking or at least deepens your knowledge.

Use this Google Advanced Search Query to Find Interesting Content:

inurl:wp-content/uploads “<enter specific topic/keyword phrase/interest/whateveryoursearchingfor>” filetype:pdf OR filetype:ppt OR filetype:doc

How Does this Search Help Me?

A simple breakdown of what you are asking Google to do:

  • inurl:wp-content/uploads – If you use WordPress, you know this is where you are directed to store your media by default. In this part of the search query, we are asking Google to search this folder and only this folder
  • “<enter specific topic/keyword phrase/interest/whateveryoursearchingfor>” – In this party of the search query, I search for a very specific phrase, keyword, or topic. For my own searches, I use the quotations for an exact match. You can use broad search, but be ware it might not pull up exactly what you are looking for. When you run this search, you will have to filter through some junk stuff people put out there. The more specific, the better IMO.
  • filetype:pdf OR filetype:ppt OR filetype:doc – This tells Google to search for one of the following file extensions .pdf (Portable Document File), .ppt (Microsoft Powerpoint), .doc (Microsoft Word). I don’t know actual numbers, but I am inclined to say that 95%+ of presentations, white papers, studies, etc. are in this format. You can also throw in .xls (Microsoft Excel) to see if you can find some useful worksheets or calculators if it is relevant for what you are looking for.

I wonder what would happen if you replaced the inurl:wp-content/uploads with site:<insert site that provides you useful content>.

Hmmm…

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