I was blessed with the opportunity to share a five minute lightning talk at this past Saturday’s A Web Afternoon mini-conference. The goal of the event? A conversation by people who love the web and all it’s possibilities. A special hat-tip to J Cornelius for the generous invitation. I had a wonderful time.
Video may be available down the road, but I thought I’d share a rough recollection of what I said to the attendees. Enjoy.
Best-selling author, cartoonist and general all-round agitator and instigator Hugh MacLeod published this cartoon several years ago. “The web has made kicking ass easier to achieve, and mediocrity harder to sustain. Mediocrity now howls in protest.”
I love this cartoon. I look at it every day. It inspires me, it makes me think about what is possible on the web. You see, the web changed my life. It gave me a voice.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was the quintessential introvert. Quiet. Shy. Reserved. I hated, detested, social interactions. I doubt that I said a total of 200 words during high school.
Today, childhood friends, family, and high school and college buddies are stunned that I make my living doing internet radio…
The web made that possible…
You see, my first gig out of school was in politics, thus, I became a political operative for the next several years. It wasn’t until I transitioned from political operative to marketing strategist that I began to come out of my shell.
The web made that possible. I experimented with the web. Tried things. Learned things. Succeeded. Failed. Failed again. And then, I stumbled onto podcasting. And that changed how I do business.
Nowadays, I do internet radio for a living. I have a studio in north Atlanta, conduct dozens of interviews a week, reach thousands, and travel coast to coast broadcasting from trade shows.
It is a fun way to earn a living, helping people and organizations tell their story. The web made that possible…
Why? The web unleashes your true potential. It unleashes your true power. And like me, it can help you find your voice. There is an artist…there is a creative…in all of us. If you let it, the web will draw that out.
You can reach millions. You can inspire millions. You can educate millions. And yes, you can even instigate millions [pointing to image of cartoon].
Now, I am about to finish my second book, a collection of essays entitled Kicking Fear’s Ass, the title inspired by that cartoon [pointing again].
It is a collection of essays from people about how they are combating, and battling fear. The project is eye opening. And it reminds me that still far too many people are NOT taking advantage of what the web has to offer. And it is up to us to help them see what is possible.
And sadly, the three things that I believe hold most people back, are the three things that I think makes the web so wide open to possibility.
They say, “Oh Todd, the web is just too big. My message will be lost.” Perhaps, but there is a niche out there for you. A niche that only you can reach, that only you can touch, that only you can motivate. It is hard work finding that niche, glorious work, but hard. But when you find it, your world changes.
Two, people are scared of the transparency of the web. They think they don’t like people getting into their business. I say bunk. Transparency is what makes the web great.
I can spend an hour on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, and see what inspires you, see what motivates you, see what moves you, and see what pisses you off. This is how I learn about you. And this makes for powerful connections between us. In my view, Twitter is a window into your soul.
Transparency makes the web great.
Three, people are too damn afraid of negative reactions, negative feedback. It is the reason still too many organizations do NOT engage on the social web. Heck, not a podcast goes by that I don’t trip on a word, stumble on a phrase, or mispronounce someone’s name. And sure as heck, someone calls me on it.
But that makes me human…and that’s how I connect with my guests.
You will get negative feedback on the web. But don’t worry, that never ending flow of information will keep flowing, and people will be talking about something else soon enough.
And the great thing is, when you get negative feedback, there will be people in your community who will lift you up, help you, support you, advise you, counsel you, collaborate with you and love you…
And that’s what makes us ALL better.
The web changed my life. It gave me a voice. The web made that happen.
Now I need you to help others see what’s possible, to find their own voice on the web, to help others kick ass on the web [pointing to cartoon again].
Now let’s get to work. Thank you.