Feeling like a badass

Every week, I document the journey and thought process that go into building out BoomerangBeat. Click on the link to see the complete list of BoomerangBeat articles or to learn more about my project.

Yesterday I had ten followers on BoomerangBeat’s Twitter.

Today, I have eleven. Eleven sounds small because it is.

But this one in particular follower is kind of a big deal.

boomerangbeat

If you’re thinking this is an auto follow, you’re wrong. They followed me on purpose.

How do I know this? Because I reached out to them and on top of that, they really don’t follow many compared to their own follower count (which is significantly more than 11).

Hopefully they don’t realize this was a mistake and un-follow me before you check if it’s legit.

Regardless, one step forward.

Today, I’m a badass.

Oh, and if you haven’t checked out this national media watch group, you should. They’re doing something awesome – protecting us.

Seeing the “Odd Duck” – Why I love John Ratzenberger

why i love john ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger is famous for his role as the mail carrier Cliff Clavin on Cheers. What you probably don’t know is that Ratzenberger had originally read for the part of Norm Peterson which, eventually, he was passed over for.

Sensing an opportunity, John asked the producers if they had written a role for a know-it-all bar fly. They hadn’t, but they loved the idea and made room for the character that Ratzenberger had created. Cliff eventually went on to become one of the most iconic television characters in history, known for his “outlandish stories of plausible half-truths, uninteresting trivia, and misinformation.”1

John is a master of creativity. He not only saw what was there but also, what was missing.

Finding the rare “odd duck” isn’t easy. What is easy though, is to tell yourself that if it were doable, it would have already been done. Don’t take the easy route.

These are the type of people I look up to. Those who see patterns where none existed before. The opportunity creators. They fill holes rather than accepting the status quo.

JR totally made serendipity work for him.

What I’m Learning: Run Your Own Race

During a race, thoroughbreds wear blinders to prevent the use of extensive peripheral vision thus, cutting them off from their opponents. This enables the horse to focus only on what’s ahead and hence, run faster.

run your own race and nobody elses

(image edited, source)

After her first gig bombed in the early 50s, Danny Thomas (a respected veteran actor to whom his daughter, Marlo, was constantly being compared to) consoled his daughter by telling her he had raised her as a thoroughbred. “Wear blinders,” he said,”ignore the crowd and run her own race, baby.”

Jake Lodwick, the creator of Vimeo, is a modern-day, digital thoroughbred. Vimeo’s first incarnation was born from spontaneity and a healthy dose of impatience as a way to solve his own problem of getting video clips onto the web (this was pre-YouTube days). Today, Vimeo gets 100 million visitors a day and has carved a nice niche for themselves in the video-sharing market.

“We’re not a company that goes out and tells the same story that everyone else does. So that’s what we did. We told a  different story.”-Jake Lodwick

Strap on the blinders, tune out the crowd, and run your race.

What I’m Learning: Grandpa’s Words

At my grandfather’s celebration of life last weekend my dad, who emceed the event, opened the mic and invited friends and family to share their stories.

One person I’d become particularly fascinated with in the last seven months (I first met him in October), was my grandpa’s brother Gerald, who took the mic first.

Just 15 months younger, Gerald shared several stories and “Norman nuances” he had experienced throughout their childhood. Stories I had never heard before.

kadeeirene-quote-koi-fish-determination

One particular anecdote revealed the inherent character strength in grandpa’s personality – his feistyness.

The bolder (and mouthier) of the two, he apparently decided to take a break from getting into “disagreements” just long enough one day to hand over a pearl of wisdom. He told Gerald, “don’t walk into the bar like you own the place. Walk into the bar like you don’t care who owns the place.”

Whether the words resonated with anyone else, I don’t know. But, I can see that his feistyness has trickled down into several of us – his children and his grandchildren. Some more than others. Me, a lot.

To walk into a new space and act like you own it completely disregards the rules set, and disrespects those who came before you. And frankly, it isn’t very smart. Or kind.

To walk into a new space and not care who owns it, is significantly different. Survey the landscape, take it in and give respect where warranted. Evaluate the precedence and then decide if you want to play by those rules, or not. Don’t let the actions of seniority dictate who you should be or what you should do.

I may never have been articulate enough to say it quite as elegantly, but I felt it. Something clicked and the timing for this “pearl” to be repeated could never have been better. I’m on the verge of coming into my own and I’ve started living what grandpa had advised decades ago. Hearing it on Sunday only made me bolder.

Thank you, grandpa for saying what I didn’t know how to make sense of.

What I’m Learning: Prioritizing Shut It + Shout It

we all have something to learn and we all have something to say. what makes us difference is how we prioritize the value in the action.

shut it or shout it

i have always left much to be desired when it came to speaking up. still do – in both my personal and professional lives. and if often feels like there’s something wrong with me.

then, i changed my perspective.

i was reminded that sometimes talking can get in the way of not only learning, but imagination as well.

listening doesn’t come easy for all but i was born with a natural ability to do so. to turn off the “say everything that goes through my head” signal that so many seem to praise in today’s noisy world. but, those 27 years i sat around being quiet certainly weren’t wasted (right, susan?). they were purposeful listening on several levels. i had created a safe place for my ideas to flow, a place to reflect, to really hear, and to ask questions.

while others may not have seen my full potential because i sat quiet when i was younger, i was still working on something behind the scenes. honestly, back then that was a rather selfish thing to do. talking in order to further someone else’s agenda didn’t interest me. staying quiet and learning from everyone around me, did. i was looking for personal development, even then, when i didn’t understand it.

as that foundation grew, i began to use it more as a strength than see it as a weakness. slowly but surely i started to offer a ready ear, an informed idea or an “i understand” to others – both personally and professionaly.

i’ve never been good at speaking but this is an uphill battle for me. not a flat runway like it can be for some are naturally skilled at speaking and voicing their opinions. i have faith the foundation i’ve been subconsciously building, combined with hard and uncomfortable work, will make me an even stronger speaker than i realized i could be back then.

when i’m ready. and i’m almost ready.

where the hell did that come from?

Building a Blog: Deciding on the Color Palette

finding your blog color palette

I’m still working on nailing down my design direction so it may not be obvious, but I decided from the beginning that I wanted my personal brand to be associated with green, which includes kadeeirene and BoomerangBeat.

For those who haven’t been following my Building a Blog series, BoomerangBeat is meant to be a news source that simplifies complex issues. A resource for those who want to understand, from start to present, what’s going on without the clutter or unimportant, too frequently wrong, “breaking news” bits.

However, less than two months into blogging on BB I started to re-think my color scheme.

In an industry where the expected color palette seems to be red and black (or the boring standby, muted blue), green started to feel really backwards. It’s something you see associated with “fresh” or “outdoors”, not news.

Then, Entpreneur magazine once again hit me upside the head with an article on color trends that read, “understand the norms in your sector. Know your competitors. Know the color palette. Nothing trumps personal preference.”

The thing is, I started BoomerangBeat because I wanted it to be the exact opposite of everything current news organizations are – breaking, fast-paced, shocking. Why on earth would I want to follow their color lead? After all, red means excitement and I don’t want my readers to feel rushed. I want them to slow down and stay calm when taking in the information.

Green seems perfectly out of place in the news industry.

Did you ever second guess yourself when choosing your blog/website’s colors? Did you ever go through with the change? 

 

The State of the Media: A Millennial’s View

I’ve been sitting on this article for over a week hoping it’d maturate into a brilliant masterpiece, but it hasn’t. So, why today? Erika Napoletano wrote an open letter to the media following the firestorm of shock tactics flung onto the Internet in the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy. She gets it too. The need I felt to start BoomerangBeat and the love/hate relationship I’ve developed with the media were echoed in her post. However, I add another layer to the rant. So thank you, Erika, for inspiring me to finally post my own letter.

So I ask: will you help us learn, encourage us to listen, and remind us that there is a story behind each face, bloodstain, horrific incident, gun owner, Muslim family, and child’s smile? – Erika Napoletano

When I first started toying with the idea for BoomerangBeat I imagined a news outlet geared toward the Millennial generation. However, working through the first two posts I realized my goal isn’t to tailor information in the direction of current Millennial interest (as the name might suggest); it’s purpose is to facilitate learning in a way modern society needs  – quick, simple, truthful, and beneficial

I’m frustrated with the media. There seem to only be two options when it comes to reporting to the public  – long form journalism and empty calories.

I have a deep respect for the deteriorating art of traditional journalism and storytelling, but it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t favor the busy or the uninformed.

The empty calorie pieces are littered with humor, pop culture, blood and gore, or the too oft Breaking News: No Pope Chosen so-let’s-watch-for-20-minutes-as-his-helicopter-hovers-above-the-Vatican-so-we-don’t-miss-a-thing bullshit. Entertaining? Sure. Sustainable? No.

In the last ten years we’ve redefined breaking news from “happened yesterday” to “happened less than fifteen seconds ago.” The next order of magnitude will be prohibitively expensive and (most of the time) not particularly useful. Better, I think, to hustle in the other direction and figure out how to benefit from well-understood truth instead of fast and fresh rumor. – Seth Godin

The Millennial generation has come of age in a world where the media functions as a megaphone for complex news issues more than they do as interpreters, helping us contextualize and understand. Pew Research Center’s State of the Media 2013 addresses this issue directly.

This is a problem because as a member of this generation, I’ve often seen and felt the wrath of the finger pointing habit of older generations. We’re pegged as a group of out of touch, irresponsible, and ignorant individuals that care more about Facebook and celebrities than we do about politics and current affairs.

Maybe this is true but it circles back to my problem with the state of the media …

Though genuine efforts have been made by some to help us, we don’t need another platform regurgitating popular headlines. Technology has already allowed us to customize our alerts, Facebook walls and Twitter streams. As Doug Fisher said it best, “We can get the ‘more’ if we want it very easily. If the media wants our loyalty and engagement, the formula isn’t more, it’s better.”

If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn. – Ignacio Estrada

This is my goal with BoomerangBeat. I’m not the best writer and as Erika said, I’m throwing AP style out the window, but I’m trying to change a landscape I’m unhappy with.

And though I may be raising my hand with a slightly different problem than what Erika, Seth or the Pew Research Center are raising their hands for, I think the overall message to the media is the same – enough.

Building a Blog: The Why Factor

Finding your Why Factor – today, mine hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve thought about it several times before but it felt like I was trying to nail jello to a wall … I couldn’t quite get it.

I think the Why Factor is important because it gives you clarity and for me, freed me from a very odd struggle I was dealing with. The Why Factor doesn’t have to be short, one-dimensional, multi-dimensional or perfectly unique. You just need to know why. Focus on finding yours.

BoomerangBeat’s Why Factor

I found my “why” for BoomerangBeat today in its simplest form.

Young People and the Media

source: @MartinBelam

I don’t believe Mr. Belam was calling the younger generation ignorant as much as he was saying that’s how the media will spin the story from the ask. I hope so, anyway.

However, if that is the case, there’s still a problem. If the media continues to berate a generation that doesn’t know (and therefore asks), when is that generation going to stop feeling stupid for not understanding? Never.

Or worse, when will they stop asking?

For now, they are asking though and that’s half the battle. Why not use that opportunity more to teach and less to criticize? Help connect the dots so the “ignorant” generation can understand the story as it’s happening and its references down the road.

The rest of the pie chart, I think, accurately depicts the sheer number of stories and chatter that pop up every minute a breaking news story hits. Is it any wonder the younger generation doesn’t know how to navigate the white noise to find the facts that matter?

Building a Blog: The Details

I’m finally following a writing and design (learning Dreamweaver) schedule, but I’ve become so focused on the big things that I’ve ignored the bits and pieces that will really bring it all together. Since I have a horrible habit of writing things down here, saving them there, starting a draft post so I don’t forget type of habit, I collected and organized them in a more manageable way.

Below is my list of little to-do’s:

Technical Details

  1. SEO Yoast WordPress Plugin – very easy for blog and post optimization. If you don’t know basic SEO, start with the Beginner’s Guide to SEO
  2. RSS and email subscription
  3. Social sharing for each post (Like, Tweet, G+)
  4. Create my own social media buttons. I don’t much care for the generic ones. Add a step before this if you haven’t created profiles on various platforms, yet.
  5. Post comment system through Disqus
  6. Re-categorize uncategorized blog posts

Branding Details

  1. Create a blog style guide.
  2. Organize my post ideas journal – I use love Springpad
  3. Flesh out my design inspiration sources – to avoid looking like a replica of your competition, they should not come from the same industry
  4. Refine my blog’s purpose statement (tag line, core message, whatever you call it)
  5. Google+ authorship
  6. Upload favicon

Content Details

  1. Study the competition and follow
  2. Play with new content formats (shorter posts, video, scan-able content)
  3. Finish my rant and then ask for an outsider’s point of view. This is meant to complement my purpose statement.
  4. Re-evauluate content schedule (editorial calendar) – I use Google Calendar
  5. Create a lead statement for all “Building a Blog” so people know what I’m referring to when I mention BB

Check out BoomerangBeat, am I missing something? What are the most important details  you use to make your blog stand out?

Building a Blog: Finding Your Core Message

Building a Blog: Finding Your Core Message

Last week I wrote about my identity crisis surrounding BoomerangBeat and just as if they heard me, the Entrepreneur gods graced me with an article on the importance of finding focus in your core message.

BB’s current tag line doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve known this since I pseudo-settled on it when creating my header’s first draft. However, the back and forth game wore me out and I threw this up there:

Building a Blog: Focusing on the Core Message

Because BB’s title isn’t descriptive, and because the Entrepreneur article slapped me across the face, I realized this is something I need to get right, not something to be thrown up anywhere.

For too long, I focused BB on being a news outlet for the Millennial generation but working through the first two posts I realized my goal isn’t to aim my news in the direction of Millennial interest, it’s purpose is to deliver important issues in a, well, more underwhelming manner (a breaking news story every minute is anything but).

I don’t want to get too into it here, but if you read my passion piece on the issue I have with the state of the media, you’ll gain a better understanding of why I started BoomerangBeat and what it’s meant to be. If you do read it, I would love your feedback or any ideas you have for BB’s core message.

Did you have any concerns when creating your core message and communicating that quickly and effectively to your readers?