The Shepherd of the Broken-Hearted Babies, Chapter 3 (#SBHB)

If you missed the first two chapters click here.

I sat there in stunned silence pondering this question that the Shepherd had posed. How could I know who died happier? I knew that she was waiting for a certain answer to see if I was jiving with her ways or not. I most assuredly felt I was not.

“I guess the woman who had a harder time felt more content at the end of her days,” I offered.

The Shepherd squeezed my hands, which she was still grasping. Oddly, I found this public display of affection a little awkward and embarrassing, but I didn’t know how to broach that topic with her without seeming like a complete and total jerk.

“You said what you thought I wanted you to say,” said the Shepherd. “That’s interesting. But the truth is that your gut instinct was probably right. Your first thought was probably, ‘How the hell should I know?’ Wasn’t that it?”

I just sat there. I had no idea what my face was doing, which was probably a bad thing.

The Shepherd laughed again. Guffawed, more accurately. “Go on, just say it. That was your thought. You were wondering how in the hell this old biddy expected you to know who died happier, right?”

I cracked a smile. “Yeah, ok. That’s kind of what crossed my mind.”

“THAT is the exact 100% correct response when anyone asks you a question about who is happier or more fulfilled or more contented. How in the heck do we know? Maybe the woman who had a harder time finally got the child she had always wanted but the kid was a total twirp. Maybe her husband cheated on her at the end so she had a kid but no man. Maybe the woman for whom everything seemed to come easy was plagued by mental illness and self doubt. Who knows? We can’t know unless we are in that person’s head, which is of course impossible. For now.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I felt a little sheepish I must admit. I had been busted for trying to answer just to please the Shepherd. But I liked this no BS response.

“Now,” she said, “You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my life.”

To be honest, I had forgotten that I had asked that first embarrassing question. I nodded with some uncertainty.

“The thing is, people have all kinds of ideas about why I do what I do,” said the Shepherd. “Some people have made up stories about how my father was abusive and I have been widowed 17 times so I threw my hands open and just decided to be a hobo. Other people think I must have been born like Buddha, rich and pampered, and then one day I realized I was spoiled and decided to pay everything back. None of this is 100% true, but aspects of all of it are true. I guess my point is I don’t understand why it matters. I am doing what I am doing. If it benefits some people, who cares why I am doing it?”

“I think people just want to feel more connected to you,” I offered. “You are this warm persona, this helpful being, and yet most people don’t even know your real name at this point. They want to be able to be thankful to a person and not a symbol.”

“Hm,” the Shepherd was pondering what I had said, much to my amazement. I admit, I felt a little proud of myself. Oh hubris. “I guess that could be so. Is that why you want to know about my past?”

For reasons I couldn’t pinpoint this question startled me a little. Why? I had no idea. But I pulled myself together quickly. “I want to know so I can tell your story to other people who want to know. That’s my mission as a documentarian. To document what people want to know, maybe even before they realize they want to know it.”

“Well, we will get to it. Right now though we need to go to the Children’s Hospital. There are going to be some celebrities there visiting the oncology ward. I don’t want you to film anything but I want you to watch what I do. It might give you some of this insight you are looking for.”

We put our dishes back onto our tray and put the tray on the counter. The Shepherd had a little minivan and a driver that was waiting for her. I thought that was weird. First a giant “tree house,” now a private chaperone. These things seemed to clash with her persona as a sort of Mother Theresa. I made a note to myself to keep an eye on this dichotomy.

“Follow us,” the Shepherd said. “Tony will give you directions just in case we get separated.

I got the directions from Tony the driver. He was a giant of a man with a black goatee and a black ponytail. Rather intimidating, really, at least from where I was standing by the driver-side door. His directions seemed clear enough though.

“I drive fast,” he warned.

“Duly noted,” I called over my shoulder.

After about a 15-minute drive we arrived at the hospital. I parked fairly near where Tony did so I could follow him out easily. The Shepherd confidently made her way to the oncology ward. Everyone we encountered, from the nurses to the doctors to the surgeons, all recognized her. Some nodded and smiled, some took her hands and squeezed them, and others gave her hugs. They all seemed to know why she was here. I did not. If celebrities were going to be in the ward, why did she also need to be there? It seemed to me almost like she wanted some of the attention for herself.

After making sure I didn’t have any video recording equipment running, the Shepherd had me follow her to the first room, which had three beds divided by curtains for privacy. Two adults, a man and a woman, were standing outside the first curtain, which was closed. At first I thought the child was having a procedure done, but quickly that notion fell off as I heard a child excitedly talking. It became clear that one of the celebrities, a local athlete I think, was talking to the kid inside. The Shepherd didn’t go inside the curtain though. She beelined right for the two adults, who I now presumed were that child’s parents. I stood at a respectful distance inside the doorway, watching, as the Shepherd had directed me to.

The parents, when we first peeked into the room, had been wearing strange expressions on their face that I couldn’t really read. It was not a look of happiness or excitement, but it wasn’t a look of sadness either. A nurse passed by and I asked about the three children in this room. The child in the first bed, who was getting his own celebrity one-on-one, had a brain tumor. He wasn’t expected to live out the month. “He’s such a sweetheart,” the nurse said. Her eyes instantly filled with tears. I wondered how people like her managed to handle their jobs day in and day out.

The Shepherd had been talking to the parents while I was getting debriefed by the nurse. Suddenly I saw her take the mother’s left hand in hers. She said something I could not hear, and all of a sudden the mother, the father, and the Shepherd rushed past me out the door into the waiting area down the hall. The mother barely made it out of the room before she started sobbing deep, wracking sobs. The Shepherd guided her, with the father’s help, to a chair, and then the Shepherd, standing in front of the woman, pulled her close. The woman grabbed the Shepherd’s shirt as if she was clinging for dear life, or perhaps as if she would fall through the floor if she didn’t hang on tight enough. The father was rubbing his wife’s back, but giant tears were falling out of his eyes as well. The sobbing went on for a painful long time, what seemed to me like hours. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Just watching a scene like this made me feel like a voyeur. As a documentarian I should have been used to this feeling, but watching without a camera in my hands, I felt naked and awkward.

“Go to the bathroom, wash your face, and take some deep big breaths, honey,” the Shepherd said as she brushed a few last tears from the aggrieved woman’s face. “It’ll be alright, honey. I promise.” She gave the man a giant hug and it looked almost as if he was about to sink into sobs himself, but at the last minute he thought against it. The Shepherd wiped the tears from his eyes as well. “It’ll be ok, sweetheart. Hang in there.”

Holding hands, the couple walked away from the Shepherd and towards the bathrooms around the corner. As soon as they were out of earshot, I asked her what had happened.

“Whenever celebrities come to visit people who are sick in the hospital, I try to come visit the caregivers – the parents, the family members who have been tirelessly standing watch. It’s a mixed bag for them, these events. They see their loved one happier and more excited than they have been for quite some time, but they can’t help but wonder if this is sort of the last hurrah. Will their loved one ever get the chance to be this happy again? Will they ever get to be this engaged and excited? No one ever cares for the caregivers in hospitals. Not really. They pour all of their time and energy into wishing their loved ones would get well. It’s especially hard for parents of little kids I think, because they feel pressured not to show any fear or sadness. They don’t want to upset their kids or make their kids feel scared.”

“What did you say to them?” I asked. I have to admit, my eyes were welling up. I had never thought about any of this before. It had never occurred to me.

“I told the mother that she should enjoy this moment. Savor it. Do not think about everything the child has been through or what might be coming down the way. Just really enjoy this moment, when your son is babbling away and talking about his favorite moments in sports history.”

“And that made her break down?” I asked.

“No. That question didn’t make her break down, honey,” the Shepherd said sadly and softly. The fact that someone cared, took her hand, and let her cry made her break down.

Just as the Shepherd finished talking the father showed up in the waiting room again. His lip was trembling, and it was clear he was trying with all of his might not to collapse into his own stress and grief. He looked around the corner, and assured that his wife was calm and back at their son’s side, he sat down on the ground in front of the Shepherd and put his head in her lap. He did not say anything, nor did she. She simply stroked his hair as a mother would. Mostly he cried in silence, but sometimes a groan or an exhalation would reveal the pain he was in. The Shepherd just kept stroking his hair for what seemed like a very long time.

Finally she lifted up his head with her hands. Looking into his eyes she said, “You know honey, you are being so strong for your wife and your son, but you have to make sure you take care of yourself too. Don’t hold all of this in, honey, ok?”

The man just nodded. She gave him a big hug, patted him on the back, and said, “Now you go enjoy your son’s enjoyment of this moment. This is a precious time to hold on to, no matter what happens.

The man gave her one more squeeze and headed back towards his child’s room. I looked at the Shepherd and she seemed exhausted. Tear stains marked her shirt. Tear stains marked her own face. It occurred to me that even though she had been doing this for years, these people who let all of their grief go with her, it hurt her as much as it hurt me. That’s why I was taken aback when she said, “Well, let’s see who needs us next.”

That whole afternoon that scene repeated itself. The details were different but the results were almost always the same. While the parents’ children were being entertained by famous athletes, the parents were getting their moment to give voice to all of their anger and fear and sadness. The Shepherd took care of them. Each of them. And her message was always the same. “This right now is a good moment. Hold on to this. This is all that matters right in this instant. Your child is happy and excited and flushed with being starstruck. This is special.”

When I got back to my hotel room that night, I stepped into the shower and cried harder than I have cried in quite some time. I found myself wondering if the Shepherd did the same thing.

My 100 reasons to live

Today I read a book by Molly Cantrell-Kraig called “I want to die: 100 reasons you shouldn’t.” (not an affiliate link). Molly’s idea is that sometimes a person who is in despair just needs to be reminded that life is worth living, and she gives 100 reasons why life is worth holding on to. Molly’ will be giving portions of her proceeds to suicide prevention programs.

Molly’s post got me to thinking. What are 100 reasons I want to live? I think it’s a good exercise, so here is what I came up with, in no particular order.

1. The ocean – the sound, the mystery, the different waves, the different shades of blue and grey

2. Sunlight that is warm on your back but not too hot

3. Reading. I still have not come remotely close to reading every book about Abraham Lincoln, not to mention every other historical figure I adore!

4. Fresh out of the oven cookies

5. The joy of plotting surprises for people

6. Eddie Izzard (he is so smart and so funny – how could I miss out on him?)

7. The lure of travel. I haven’t even been to Europe yet, and the places I have been have been spectacular.

8. Fresh fruit and vegetables (I have become addicted this year)

9. Gardening – waiting for little seeds to turn into big beautiful flowers or whatever they might be

10. My family – my parents, my brother, my cousins, my aunts and uncles – I am so very lucky

11. Dancing. I might look terrible doing it but boy is it fun.

12. Yoga

13. Tai Chi (and I still haven’t learned the 32 steps of the form I’m working on. Got to finish that!)

14. Knitting – I have so much to do and I need to get so much better!

15. My grandpa’s recipe for iced tea – the taste of summer

16. The first blooming forsythia in spring

17. The first snowfall (that loses its charm rather quickly)

18. Thanksgiving

19. Curling up in bed while it storms outside

20. Raking leaves. I know. I’m terribly weird.

21. That first moment you realize, “Hey, it’s still light outside. Neat!”

22. The sound of laughter

23. Monty Python – who could ever want to leave a world in which Monty Python exists?

24. Coffee – oh, coffee..I could never quit you

25. Massages

26. Those cool breeze days where walking outside feels like you are walking through silky sheets

27. Seeing relatives after a long time apart (especially at holidays. I’m a mush)

28. Meeting an online friend in real life for the first time (so far I’ve had good luck!)

29. Sushi

30. A hot shower on a cold day

31. The smell of flowers, each different, each unique

32. Noticing little things, like the veins on a leaf

33. Learning new things (that never runs out, btw)

34. Museums

35. Kitties

36. Fighting with Jason Konopinski and Ken Jacobs about how to eat a bagel with lox

37. Depressing myself by watching my Cleveland sports teams (it’s still fun in a weird way)

38. Flying on a plane (it still amazes me)

39. Mozart. Even Mozart’s Requiem makes me want to live

40. Van Gogh’s art. Some day I will go to Amsterdam and see his museum :)

41. Newborn snuggly babies

42. Soft furry animals of any kind pretty much – how can you be sad when you’re holding a puppy?

43. Coming up with a new business idea every day with Erin Feldman (and feeling determined we will make at least half of them happen)

44. Learning to cook a new recipe (even though it’s terrifying)

45. Finding the perfect pair of shoes

46. Hearing that you cheered someone up or made a positive difference for them

47. Writing

48. Live music events, especially if you like the music

49. Deciding to sleep a little longer on a Saturday

50. Inside jokes

51. Witty exchanges of sarcastic blather (I excel at that I think)

52. Seeing someone you care about succeed (in whatever way may come to them)

53. Trying something new

54. Conquering a fear or a problem

55. A phonecall with a friend

56. Birthdays

57. My peeps – Michelle, Paget, Karima, Erin, Olivier, Geoff – the family I’ve adopted :)

58. Getting something in the mail that’s not a bill or a sales promo

59. Wonderful television shows like Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad (sniff)

60. Discovering people online whom you went to school with 30 years ago (this really happens)

61. Being on the receiving end of random acts of kindness, like the lovely note I got from Ms. Mila Araujo just today

62. Playful banter that tends to occur on my Facebook wall (sometimes it even gets too weird for me)

63. Trading cloche hats digitally with Ms. Kaarina Dillabough

64. The sound of tree frogs in the fall, which I can hear singing right now

65. Summer thunderstorms

66. Tea, hot

67. Family traditions

68. New haircuts

69. Getting to network with incredibly amazing and inspirational people like the aforementioned Molly, Angela Daffron, Mark Horvath, Sam Parrotto, and many others

70. Getting to tweet an author and say, “Hey, I liked your book. Thanks for writing it.” That will never get old.

71. PJs

72. My favorite parks

73. Hiking your troubles away

74. Yarn festivals, complete with alpacas and angora rabbits

75. Hot dogs. There is just something about them.

76. Feeling motivated by others – I get a kick out of people who kick my butt

77. I still plan on running a marathon for my 40th birthday – gotta be alive to do that unless I want to be a zombie on a zombie run (which I don’t)

78. Charity work – It makes everything seem better

79. Getting recognition for something you thought no one noticed

80. Happy secrets

81. Candles – especially ones that aren’t too cologne-like

82. Boston. Let’s just say it. Boston.

83. Girls’ nights out

84. Going to movies (even on your own)

85. That feeling when the laundry is done (though I hate doing laundry)

86. Comfort movies (one of mine is Secret of Nimh, I’m not ashamed to admit)

87. Celebrity crushes. I have a few.

88. Documentaries that change your perspective

89. Hawaii. Um, yeah.

90. The redwood forests of California. This will change your perspective on everything.

91. Children – they are pure human concentrate and often too wonderful to describe

92. Waiting for your favorite moment in that movie you’ve seen 10 million times

93. Canoeing (I need to do more of this)

94. Getting a hug right when you most need it

95. Pleasant surprises (they always keep you guessing. You can’t give up because you never know what’s around the corner)

96. Watching Karima lust after shoes (really – it’s admirable!)

97. Watching people in real life perform Tai Chi and other martial arts

98. Singing in a choir

99. Singing in general

100. Poetry

So there are 100 things that keep me going. Now it’s your turn :)

Why I deleted my Pinterest account

Alas for Pinterest…I knew it, Horatio…~Hamlet

I have never been really good at following trends. When I was in fifth grade, everyone decided that any pant leg that, like, moved, was a bell bottom, and they also decided that bell bottoms were the stupidest things ever. Therefore, everyone had to roll up their pant legs into the “French cuff.” I thought that was really stupid. I’d do it on occasion but my pants weren’t really hemmed to be rolled up. Trend – missed. When Google Buzz and Google Wave launched I didn’t even sign up. I tried my best to resist Google Plus but I just can’t say no to Sandy Hubbard, and she insisted I give it a try. So you see, the only trend I really follow is that I don’t seem to follow everyone elses’ trajectory.

With that in mind, it may not be surprising that I have opted to delete my Pinterest account while everyone else is still talking about how great it is. Yep, that just happened.

I’ve always thought Pinterest was pretty fun. It’s like a super colorful, happy scrapbook/bookmarking system. It’s a nice visual way to share information. I dig all of that. But there are a few reasons why I had to call it quits.

1. My time is too valuable – I’m already pretty saturated with online world time. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, trying to figure out Google Plus still…and all of this is a professional hobby. With my work and with wanting to have some semblance of a life beyond the computer, Pinterest just takes too much time, and in the end it doesn’t really yield anything for me but fun and a few smirks. I don’t want to devalue fun and a few smirks, but I have other stuff I need to do more, most of the time.

2. It doesn’t really tie to my business/job or clients – I know a lot of people are saying that Pinterest can work for B2B companies, and they may be right. I just am not seeing it as a good match for our clients and their products/services. I have to emphasize things that will either help our clients or help me grow as a professional/human being. I love looking at pictures of beautiful clothes, but I can’t rationalize that as being a part of my professional development (even if I look at really professional clothes).

3. Questions about affiliate links: Even if Pinterest was a perfect match for some of our clients, I’m still not 100% clear on the impact the erasing of affiliate links is having on sales for companies that are selling products there. Granted, few sales situations are 100% pristine these days, but it’s hard for me to recommend something that I still feel a bit wary about.

4. The spam, spam, spam: The final breaking point for me, though, is the growing problem of spam. From the beginning, I raised questions about how you know where all of these images click to. It’s really easy (if you haven’t been on the site you may not realize how easy) to simply click “repin” and place an image on your own boards. You don’t have to click anything. You don’t see a URL. You just see a funny or interesting picture. Well, the problem is that a lot of those images can hide a spammy website that unknowing people will be directed to. I know this because this has happened to me on two pictures I have clicked in the last two days – the only pictures I have clicked on in the last two days. Given that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the platform, I don’t think it’s realistic to sit there and make sure everything I was sharing led to a legitimate site. I would rather not share anything instead of risking sending spam to anyone who shares my pictures.

Pinterest is fun. It may prove really valuable to certain businesses, and I’m sure people will continue to find innovative uses for it. I don’t frown on any of that. It just doesn’t seem worth the time commitment or the spam risk to me. And I would caution you to watch out for what you are sharing. Have you checked your links lately, especially for things like recipes or things people would need to click to see full-size? It might be worth your time.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladymixy-uk/4059154289/ via Creative Commons

Book Review: No BS Social Media

When I heard that Jason Falls and Erik Deckers had written a book together called No BS Social Media, I must admit my eyebrow went up Mr. Spock style. There are a lot of different types of BS floating around in the world, not to mention in the online world. What exactly did they mean by “no BS?” Also, I was rather excited. I have a lot of respect for Jason and Erik and always look forward to reading things by people who I identify as “awesome.”

Having just completed No BS Social Media, there are two very broad statements I want to make. The first is that if you are new to social media, this is a good book for you to pick up as an introduction. The second is that I have some issues with the book that I want to warn you about.

The good thing about this book? Jason and Erik do a good job of telling you how social media can be used for different facets of your business, ranging for marketing to PR to sales. They deal with the “It’s all about the conversation” hype too. In fact, this is the “no BS” part. While conversations and the oft-mentioned “Being human” are treated in the book, the authors both note that conversing on social media sites, much like conversing on the phone, is not necessarily going to be enough to make your bean counters euphoric.

Jason and Erik also are careful to incorporate the idea of measurement into what they talk about, which is also a step away from the first generation of social media books, many of which sort of skirted by the measurement issue and talked about things that were a bit more…fluffy. Two of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Analytics tools are a great way to measure the influence of people in a social network, but they shouldn’t be used to pick and choose who you’re going to be nice to or help.”

“Anyone with a grasp of the big picture begins to realize that PR, marketing, sales, and even customer service are not four distinct silos that compete for dollars and face time with senior executives. They’re four sides of the same square. What one side does affects the other side.”

Both statements are quite true and well-founded and represent what makes this book a good introduction to social media.

Before I can recommend this book fully, though, I have to tell you that there are a few streams of thought that are revisited over and over throughout the book, and I feel that these particular concepts are either simply not correct or could be misleading. Let’s talk about these a bit.

That whole ROI thing

Erik and Jason talk about ROI (Return on Investment) a lot, but there are a few statements here and there that I took some issue with. Here’s one that gets mentioned a few times: “It’s not always an argument of ROI, but what you get out of the activity.” -or- “We still recommend you look for the results of each of the seven benefits of social media marketing while answering the more broad question of, “What do I get out of it,” rather than the financially focused, “What is the ROI?”

These kinds of statements are sort of fuzzy in my head. The bottom line is that if you are investing money into something, you need to make sure you are getting money out of it. No matter how many great connections you make, businesses still run on money (until that great day when we final make Gene Roddenberry’s dream a reality and create a world where all races and genders and species can interact on equal ground and without concern for monetary gain). Yes, you can hope to get lots of things out of social media, but if you are here for business and you are not making money, the other stuff will just be good for your scrapbook. ROI – return on investment, or a return on what you are putting into your efforts, has to be a priority. Otherwise you’ll go broke.

Social Media Ain’t Free

Speaking of ROI, one thing to watch out for in this book if you are new to social media marketing is the discussion about what social media actually costs. For the most part Jason and Erik lead you on the best path possible, which is to understand that social media is not free. However, there are also statements like this:

“Let’s say Greg invested about an hour setting up his Facebook page, and spends about 30 minutes a week on it, but invests no money.”

Now, the problem with this of course is that if Greg is investing 30 minutes of his work time a week, he *is* investing money because he is getting paid for his time. If you are paying someone else to spend 30 minutes a week on social media, you are still paying them. With money. Or acorns. Or something you want to get back.

Time is money. Yes, social media sites are free, as Jason and Erik point out. And yes, you don’t necessarily need to be on social media sites 24/7. But if you or someone who works for you are “doing social media stuff” to grow your business, that is a salary that is being put out there as an investment. What are you getting back for that investment?

The attack on traditional marketing – again

The thing I found most troubling about this book is once again the result of my own background bringing me a bias as I read. However, as I experienced with Dave Kerpen’s Likable Media, there seems to be a real venom/misunderstanding when it comes to traditional marketers. Take this statement, for example:

“Traditional marketers expect to see old-school numbers in social media, hoping to gain millions of viewers, tens of thousands of listeners, and thousands of readers.” ….. “These traditional marketers dismiss social media with a sniff of derision and a wave of their hand because their social media outposts only have a few thousand fans; this is not nearly as many viewers/listeners/readers they believe are responding to the old-school method.”

-or-

“So when you ask the advertising department to accurately measure the sales and return on investment (ROI) of the communications effort, they explain that advertising is more of a top-of-mind-brand-building exercise that’s more art than science.”

-or-

“But if your product is like 99% or more of the products out there, you’re not likely to attract much of an audience for your traditional, one-way, sales-spewing fire hose.”

This idea that traditional marketers don’t really care about ROI is most certainly not borne out by my day-to-day reality. If we tell a client that the great news is that they had x number of eyeballs on their banner ad, we hear, “And?” Everything in my day-to-day work is held accountable. Our clients want to know who is reaching their websites, what those folks are doing there, and how we can filter those wandering online nomads into the sales funnel. The idea that marketers not involved in social media are blinded by the lights (or impressions or eyeballs or number of readers) is simply not accurate in my experience.

Even more disconcerting though is that comments like these don’t really serve you the reader. It simply reiterates this dichotomy that the online world has set up. Social Media good. Traditional Marketing bad. Now, Jason and Erik do mention that tossing out traditional marketing is not a good idea, but when weighed against rather strong comments like these, what do you think will be most memorable?

Yeah, that’s my fear too.

So…

If you are new to the social media world, this is not a bad choice to get yourself started on the path of thinking about how to use social media to grow/impact your business. But I highly caution that statements about traditional marketing, the cost of social media, and the ROI of all kinds of marketing get weighed carefully in your head as you read. If you have questions, practice using social media sites by asking them.

I also want to note that as I started reading this book I tossed out my first concern about the ROI statement to Jason and Erik on Twitter, and both men responded rather quickly and spent a pretty generous amount of time talking to me in the open stream. I appreciated that. Many authors, despite preaching about the value of customer service and social media listening, do not respond to benevolently, if at all.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? I’d love to talk to you about it!

Let’s Talk About…A New Series

In trying to think about blog topics lately, I’ve kind of gotten a bit itchy. If a lot of people were writing how-to posts before I started my engagement series, even more people are writing them now. And besides, now that I’ve been in the online world for a bit, I am acutely, nay, keenly aware that what works for 1 person may not necessarily for you or you or you. So what can I write about?

Well, I am embarking on a big experiment, and I hope you will help me out. Instead of me just spouting out “This is how to do this,” I thought it would be neat for us to actually converse. You know, I frame out a topic and offer my advice, and then you add to that advice or ask additional questions.

That’s right – I am not framing myself as an expert. I’m just framing my blog as a place to talk about stuff. Think of it like the cafeteria or the student center.

These are the topics I was thinking of but this schedule can be changed as new questions come up. Ready?

Friday, September 16: Let’s Talk About How To Get Started Curating Content

Monday, September 19: Let’s Talk About The Advantages of Curating Content

Wednesday, September 21: Let’s Talk About Getting That First Reply on Twitter

Friday, September 23: Let’s Talk About Some Great Ways To Retweet Content on Twitter

Monday, September 26: Let’s Talk About How To Benefit From Twitter Chats

Wednesday, September 28: Let’s Talk About Following And Unfollowing on Twitter

Friday, September 30: Let’s Talk About How To Use Twitter for Business

Monday, October 3: Let’s Talk About Google Plus. Do You Like It?

Wednesday, October 5: Let’s Talk About How Google Plus Could Work for Businesses

Friday, October 7: Let’s Talk About How We Could Borrow the Google Plus Model of Integrated Tactics

Monday, October 10: Let’s Talk About Facebook and Your Kids. Is It Safe?

Wednesday, October 12: Let’s Talk About How To Make The Most Of A Facebook Page

Friday, October 14: Let’s Talk About How To Use Facebook For Business

Monday, October 17: Let’s Talk About The Facebook vs. Google Plus Death Match.

Wednesday, October 19: Let’s Talk About Using Video To Promote Your Business

Friday, October 21: Let’s Talk About Best and Worst Ways To Use QR Codes

Monday, October 24: Let’s Talk About How To Start A Blog

Wednesday, October 26: Let’s Talk About Blog Platforms

Friday, October 28: Let’s Talk About Blog Design

Monday, October 31: Let’s Talk About How To Get More Blog Comments

Wednesday, November 2: Let’s Talk About Blog Traffic And Blog Promotion

Friday, November 4: Let’s Talk About Integrating Traditional Marketing With Social Media

Monday, November 7: Let’s Talk About Using Social Media For Social Good

Wednesday, November 9: Let’s Talk About Industries That Can Use Social Media More

Friday, November 11: Let’s Talk About Industries That Might Not Need Social Media Right Now

Monday, November 14: Let’s Talk About How To Identify Online Bullying

Wednesday, November 16: Let’s Talk About How We Can Stop/Prevent Online Bullying

Friday, November 18: Let’s Talk About How To Keep Kids Safe Online

Monday, November 21: Let’s Talk About Whether You Need To Start Mobile Marketing

Wednesday, November 23: Let’s Talk About What We’re Thankful For

Monday, November 28: Let’s Talk About The Best Books To Buy For The Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30: Let’s Talk About Our Favorite Online Charities

Friday, December 2: Let’s Talk About Talking About Things – A Series Recap

So there you have it. That’s the plan. Want to blog along with me and link your posts as we go along? Great. Have other topics you’d like to see or questions about what I have?

Hey…let’s talk about it!

Image by Martin Lundgren. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/alvaspappa