Month: October 2016

The Music Reflects The Culture

The Music Reflects The Culture

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If you look at the Spotify Top 50 and wince…

Chances are you’re over thirty, probably forty, fifty or sixty, and are wondering where all the good times have gone. Because now, the music is only about good times. Whereas it used to be about deeper meanings, plumbing one’s soul and revealing your warts and all.

But that was back when there was a strong middle class and no billionaires and you felt that your life would be better than that of your parents.

Not anymore.

Life is coarse. As is society. Hell, Donald Trump might be President when a hallmark of the hated Lyndon Johnson’s regime was the “Great Society.” Johnson wanted to eradicate poverty. Now if you’re poor it’s your own damn fault.

The English cats were just thrilled to escape the factory. That was their destiny. Music was a lark, not a career. And if you tested limits and failed, who cared. It was all gonna end anyway.

But then it didn’t.

And in the U.S. the scene burgeoned in San Francisco, the land of the hippies. Where people dropped out, dropped acid, and lived off the fat of the land, even though there wasn’t much. You loaned out your car, your house, your significant other… Now people live behind gates. One of the big sellers is the Ring Doorbell, god forbid someone you don’t know comes to your door.

Music is escapism, because life is so damn hard.

Many mothers didn’t even work in the sixties. Musical instruments were affordable and you learned music in school whether you liked it or not. Sure, you might have been bitten by the bug and taken lessons, but every week you had to go to the band room to learn how to read music and appreciate classical scores. Seemingly no one knows how to read music anymore, and this was all taught in the public schools!

Before government became the enemy, school budgets were cut and everybody was struggling under the weight of taxes. We made a conscious decision folks, to lower the tax burden on everybody to stimulate the economy, so the rich could create jobs. The end result? Teachers have to bring their own paper to class and roads and bridges are falling apart. But at least you got a tax cut.

And you can complain about the above, but we’ve got a gridlocked Congress run by Republicans who don’t agree. Health care for everybody is bad, the IRS is bad, everything the government does is bad. Do you really expect the best and the brightest to drop out of college, move to the coast and strum a guitar for a living, singing ditties about love, peace and happiness?

No, you’ve got rappers boasting how good they’ve got it. Both white and black. They don’t know how to say no, only yes. If the corporation is willing to write a check, they’re willing to cash it. And the goal is to become a brand, to broaden your base, sell jeans, perfume and what not, because the main goal is to become rich, screw the music.

And the companies purveying said tunes… They’re public or owned by conglomerates and as a result are risk averse. This is not the indie heyday of way back when, when A&M and Island were indie and even Warner Brothers utilized independent distribution. When your stock price is key, you take little risk. And acts sell out to the man and then complain about being hamstrung, like Kesha. So don’t take the money. But then you might be poor and unrecognized, that’s unfathomable.

And there’s an endless line ready to take the bait, to work with the forty and fiftysomething men who make the hits.

And for those doing it by themselves… Their sensibility is…

Mariah Carey supposedly wrote her own hits, but her trademark was her voice, any wonder there’s a TV show with that name, with people imitating her?

But take the focus off the acts, they’re just giving people what they want.

Does someone want to sit at home and hear about politics, when they feel they’ve got no voice and D.C. is unchangeable?

Do they want to hear about distant crushes, the girl who got away, when they know without money and the latest fashions they can’t even get a date?

Do you know what it’s like to be under twenty five today?

Drop out of college and you’ve got no future. You work for minimum wage and live in your parents’ basement.

Graduate from college and your career starts now, no taking time to find yourself, you’ve got to pay off those loans and if you’re not busy getting ahead someone’s gonna take your job.

All those people experimenting back in the sixties, Stevie Winwood with Traffic, Jimi Hendrix… They had record companies who would stand behind them, who wouldn’t drop them after one stiff, the labels were obligated to release what they recorded, but no more.

And society was all about testing limits, questioning authority, doing drugs, finding your best self, who you were was more important than your job or your bank account. But now everybody’s playing it safe, they don’t want to be without a chair when the music stops.

So you listen to the Top 50 and think it’s mindless boasting. Easily discardable music with no meaning.

You’re mostly right! But that’s what people want!

The acts don’t know any better, they never lived through the golden era. And they’re mostly lower class denizens who’ll do whatever the company tells them to.

As for electronic music… We live in a digital age, one of 0’s and 1’s, is it any wonder we’re embracing a cold sound built on laptops? Easily sendable, easily deleted?

As for listening to one album over and over…

Who’s got the time?

No one has any time anymore. Even babies are scheduled. Sitting home and being bored? That doesn’t happen, stimulation is at your fingertips.

So when will change come?

It won’t be from the outsiders doing it the old way, there’s a limited market for that. First, society must change. People must believe they’ve got a future and that music can fulfill them, give them direction as opposed to being stuff you bump your ass to in a club. And who would blame the listener? Do you really want to listen to the opinions of the nitwits who make this stuff? Most uneducated and young? No way!

So when you decry the state of the sound, know that what’s being sold is exactly what young people want. If they wanted different, the labels would make it and radio would air it. They don’t care what they sell, as long as it makes money. And it’s this vapid stuff that’s making money now.

But don’t blame them, blame yourself. Blame society. Blame government. We got ourselves into this mess, one wherein we stopped getting together and smiling on our brother and stepped right over one another to get ahead and completely ignored the disadvantaged. If you think this sounds like today’s music, YOU’RE RIGHT!

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October 31, 2016 at 09:33AM

How One Successful Digital Entrepreneur Stays Entertained by Her Business

How One Successful Digital Entrepreneur Stays Entertained by Her Business

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Sarah Morgan may rub some people the wrong way with her dedication to naps, her casual approach to online interaction, and the occasional curse word in an email. But make no mistake: she’s serious, works hard, and has found a way to create a lucrative digital business that keeps her, above all, entertained.

In this 30-minute episode, Sarah and I discuss:

  • How she went from corporate job and circus performer to thriving digital entrepreneur
  • Why she won’t apologize for cursing, naps, or walking her dear old dog
  • The joy she felt in the moment when she realized she was making more as a digital entrepreneur than she had been at her corporate job
  • The work habits and discipline that help her get work done and keep moving forward
  • Her failed Photoshop course — and what she learned from the experience
  • Why hanging out in her communities (on her couch) fuels her why

And much more — including my rapid-fire questions at the end, in which Sarah shares how Simon Sinek, The Real Housewives, and the opera have influenced her career.

Listen to this Episode Now

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October 31, 2016 at 09:12AM

The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

The Brilliant Strategy and Backstory Behind Zero to Book

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Pamela Wilson just launched a book — Master Content Marketing — and a podcast played a key role in the project from idea inception to launch. She dishes on the details in this episode of The Showrunner.

In this lesson, Pamela describes how she:

  • “Showed her work” every step of the way with ZeroToBook.fm
  • Developed a community around the show, which informed the production of her book
  • Is considering using the audio asset once it’s complete

You’ll learn a lot from this episode, even if you’re not planning to write a book.

Listen, learn, enjoy …

Listen to this Episode Now

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October 31, 2016 at 08:15AM

How to Be a Great Community Leader, with Chris Lema

How to Be a Great Community Leader, with Chris Lema

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This week we’re joined by Chris Lema. Chris is a Product Strategist, a people manager, a speaker, and a blogger. He also works with companies to help them build better software products, run better software development teams, improve their marketing messages, and bring their products to market.

In this episode Brian Gardner, Lauren Mancke, and Chris Lema discuss:

  • Aligning your work with your areas of expertise
  • Making a course correction in your career
  • Defining leadership by difficult decisions
  • Leveraging WordPress in your business
  • Leadership that requires a move beyond good
  • Taking the leap to achieving success
  • Being sold on yourself to become the leader you were meant to be

Listen to this Episode Now

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October 31, 2016 at 07:12AM

How to Enhance Your Membership Site With Live Events

How to Enhance Your Membership Site With Live Events

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Live events are a great way to amplify your authority and enhance your membership site, if you know the right way to produce them.

Membership sites are about community — creating an online environment for those who share similar interests and passions.

But for all their strengths, there’s a layer of abstraction that lacks the personal and emotional engagement found when people are in physical proximity to each other.

Live events allow you to extend your authority within your community, while providing a unique platform to fundamentally help your members enrich their lives.

That is … if you know how to do live events right.

In this episode, Jessica Frick shares her knowledge and insight on creating live events for membership communities …

  • Why live events are extremely helpful in building your community
  • How to start small and build an event with momentum
  • Ways to finance your event without breaking the bank
  • The single most important ingredient to a successful event

Listen to this Episode Now

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October 31, 2016 at 06:15AM

Wahoo: Non-Verbal Equivalent of Racial Slur

Wahoo: Non-Verbal Equivalent of Racial Slur

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The Cleveland Indian’s loss last evening in the World Series ensures that Chief Wahoo will not end the 2016 MLB season at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, but instead Cleveland’s Progressive Field:

WahooLogo

I’ve written before about how the Wahoo logo is the non-verbal equivalent of a racial slur and about the severe irony in Wahoo’s grotesque racist Native American caricature and mascot having his home in a place called Progressive Field.

More than seven years ago, it appeared that Cleveland was moving away from placing the Wahoo logo front and center, but that turned out to be wishful thinking, instead the continued use and attention has spawned fans to dress up in red face as Wahoo disciples.

It is actually a sad state of affairs for all of us, including those of us who love baseball, that Cleveland did not have the wisdom to retire a racist logo long ago. Where has the MLB leadership been on this issue? How about Cleveland’s main sponsor, Progressive Insurance?

The New York Times writes today about the offensive Wahoo logo: “A slur is a slur, and it needs to be retired.” Hat tip to James, thank you.

What will it take for Progressive Insurance to say, enough is enough, we don’t want Flo and our Progressive brand reputation to be wrapped up together with such racist imagery?

The post Wahoo: Non-Verbal Equivalent of Racial Slur appeared first on DuetsBlog.

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October 31, 2016 at 04:03AM

Want to Sharpen Your Writing Skills? Try This Fun Challenge

Want to Sharpen Your Writing Skills? Try This Fun Challenge

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Fun ways to gamify your content creation

Does this ever happen to you?

You read something from one of your favorite writers — maybe it’s a blog post, or a scene from a novel, or an essay on Medium.

You’re caught up in the words. The way that writer spins and turns the language, shaping what you see and feel as you read.

And once the reading spell is broken, you think …

Dang, I wish I could do that.

Experienced creative workers — writers, painters, musicians — know how to make it look easy.

But when we try our hand … it’s harder than it looks.

We all want to get good at things

Maybe you want to master the art of creative storytelling for your content. Or you want to start off your content with that satisfying “Bang!” that gets people to keep reading. Or you would just really like some more shares and links.

“Enjoy the process” is fine advice, but it’s even nicer when the process leads to real improvement. When we get better at what we’re doing. When we start to have more impact.

I find this quote by Jeff Olson both intriguing and depressing:

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

My friend and genius dog trainer Susan Garrett has tweaked this to:

“Successful people make a game out of what unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

For the chronically immature (like me), this is an especially useful insight.

Some things about business are hard.

Some things about content marketing are hard.

If you can make a game out of them, you get to change “hard” into “fun and challenging.” Do that consistently, and there are all kinds of amazing things that can happen.

The content marketing Intimidation Factor

We love content marketing for many reasons … but we tend to avoid it for one:

It’s intimidating.

There are so many things to learn.

Effective headlines. Audience building. Calls to action. Crafting shareable content. Emotional and logical benefits. Empathy and experience mapping. Strategic content types.

Not to mention techniques for specialty content like podcasts, infographics, or video.

If you’re standing at the foot of Mount Content and looking up, the summit looks uncomfortably far away. And high. And spiky. And probably cold.

Lately, I’ve been counseling people to try a new approach to scaling that mountain … and it starts with realizing that it isn’t a mountain at all.

There are lots of recipes for success

You can visualize content success as Mount Everest. There’s one defined path up to the summit. It’s very hard to climb. You need equipment, know-how, elite-level conditioning, relatively good weather, a guide, and some luck. Even then, you might die.

Or you can visualize content success as making some soup.

There are a lot of recipes. Some people like spicy soup. Some people like savory soup. Some people like cold soup, or fruit soup. There are a lot of options. Some of them are weird, but that’s fine, because there are plenty of people who adore weird.

Personally, to tell you the truth, I feel a lot better about my ability to make some nice soup than to climb Mount Everest and possibly die.

One thing I like about the soup metaphor is that it recognizes that you can create something worthwhile out of what you happen to have available.

If you have a great writing voice, hardly any money, a few chunks of free time on weekends, and a lot of hilarious stories, you can create an interesting content soup out of that.

If you have a writing voice that isn’t as strong, but you have the budget to hire an editor, you consistently have an hour a day to create content, and you have a whole bunch of interesting people in your contact list, you can create a different content soup out of that.

You don’t have to master every single element of content marketing right away. And hardly anyone no one does.

But the more techniques and tactics you can get good at, the more kinds of soup you can make. And the more effective your content will tend to be.

Enter: the 30-Day Challenge Method

Anyone who uses Facebook is familiar with these — we decide to adopt some habit or pattern for 30 days, and watch what happens.

There are nutrition challenges, fitness challenges, art challenges, handwriting challenges. One of the best-known, NaNoWriMo — a challenge to write an entire novel in the month of November — kicks off tomorrow.

I have to be honest; I’m not necessarily a fan of signing up for other people’s challenges. Too often, they’re inflexible and they’re overly sweeping. They set you up to fail, instead of setting you up to learn. (Every time I’ve tried NaNoWriMo, it’s tanked my writing output for months afterward.)

In other words, the game quits being fun around Day One and a Half.

Instead, try writing your own challenge. And make sure it’s more play than penance.

Here are some guidelines I’ll suggest:

  • Decide in advance to define your challenge as a game, to be played for fun and learning.
  • Pick something to work on every day for 30 days.
  • Make it not too hard and not too easy. You want to push yourself, but still have fun.
  • Set a defined start date.
  • Do some prep before the start date. Make sure you have access to everything you’ll need (materials, internet access, free time, etc.).
  • Allow yourself to do more on some days and less on others. But do a little something every day during your challenge.
  • Decide in advance what the “absolute minimal effort” option might look like … you’ll need it at least once.
  • Try to have a defined time of day to do your challenge activity — but if you miss it, just squeeze it in there somewhere.
  • If you miss a day, start again the next day. Try very hard not to miss a day.
  • Don’t come up with elaborate punishments for yourself if you slip up. It’s a game.
  • When your 30 days are up, give yourself a rest before you start a new challenge.

So, what kinds of things can you work on?

You might notice that you can use this kind of challenge to work on literally anything that’s bugging you. Here are some ideas for your content or business:

Choose one of these to study and practice every day for 30 days:

  • More effective headlines
  • Great first sentences
  • Writing dialogue
  • Quick stories
  • Metaphors
  • Translating features into benefits
  • Writing sales copy
  • Brainstorming lists of blog post ideas

Or maybe you’d like to take a consistent action every day for 30 days:

  • Reach out to a new blogger or online publisher.
  • Touch base with someone you haven’t talked with in a while.
  • Spend time describing, in detail, a business process you do all the time, so you can have an assistant take it over.
  • Take a short walk, then immediately sit down and write for 20 minutes.
  • Go through one tutorial on that software you’ve been meaning to learn forever.

I’ve found a lot of power in doing something every day, but if for some reason you really want a free day every week … it’s your game. You set the rules.

How about you?

Ever done a writing challenge or another type of content challenge? Interested in coming up with a challenge of your own?

Great ideas are even better when they’re shared … so let us know about your challenge ideas in the comments!

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October 31, 2016 at 02:07AM