Exhausted and happy…

There are times when running your own business or freelancing can appear to be the toughest thing in the world, and times when it can be the most amazing experience. And last night was definitely one of the better times for a number of reasons, to the extent that I was still smiling when a London driver managed to head the wrong way around a junction and almost run me over as he went across a red light from the wrong side. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been exercising or working out for ages and feel tired, but also that you could keep going forever, and there’s three key reasons that gave me a high that’s continued as I’ve been sat here working on my businesses today.

Helping others helps you immensely:

I’ve been extremely honoured to become a tutor with the PMA Group, having benefitted from one of their intensive in-house training courses early in my career. They’re incredibly focused on providing the right tools to make sure course graduates get into employment or can utilise what they’ve learnt immediately, and as a result, all their tutors are working in the areas they teach. I remember how hard I had to work on the course I took, and really did enable me to start producing work which met the high standards of the sub-editors and editors I’ve gone on to work with.

It’s very intensive because they don’t want anyone wasting time or money en route to completing the course, which meant covering online news, blogging, social media, analytics and mobile in two long and productive days, but the talent and enthusiasm of everyone on the course not only impressed and inspired me, but also meant we covered everything to the point that everyone had a solid grounding and framework on which to build in their careers, and which areas they might wish to research further in the future (and where to get that information).

What was really great was to be in a room with 10 people who were incredibly hungry to get everything they could out of me in the time we had, constantly asking interesting questions and pushing to learn as much as they could, which can sometimes be lacking in some in-house environments, and is certainly not something you often find when you present at conferences etc. It really isn’t surprising that their post-graduate candidates achieve an incredible success rate in finding employment after the course.

Friends help you immensely:

Spending so much time working via a computer has helped me keep in regular contact with a huge amount of great people, but I have to admit that recently I’ve been finding it hard to organise to meet up in the real world. The trip to London enabled me to not only meet up with a very cool friend and have a great catch-up, but she also picked an amazing pub which I can highly recommend if you’re in the same area (It’s been voted London Pub of the Year by various places and deservedly so). Only two words of warning – The Southampton Arms only does Ale and Cider, so has an incredibly range of beers from small breweries, which is not good when you’re trying to only have one or two beers to be able to tutor effectively the next day, and it only accepts cash. Luckily the prices are very reasonable, and I was able to exercise enough willpower to leave early with the plan to return one day when I can follow it with a day off.

Inspirational People help you immensely:

I was lucky enough to not only catch the fact the amazing Hugh McLeod and Mark Earls were hosting a small ‘social object soiree’ last night, but also to be one of the fortunate people to get an invite. It was great to see Hugh and Mark talk about the social object concept, but also to finally meet them in person after various levels on online interaction. To complete a hattrick, I also managed to finally meet  Lloyd Davis in the real world as well.  Llloyd did the job of recording the talk for posterity whilst Paul Clarke did a great job of the photography. Annoyingly I forgot to remind him of a deal I once made to him (I think at a Twestival) of bribery if he could take event shots without accidentally capturing my hideous visage.

And I also met some really cool attendees, which reinforced the idea of social objects both as something to talk about, but also as a social filter and the signal of a social club. If you were at the event, the odds are you were likely to be a pretty interesting person (with myself as the exception proving the rule), and the people I met proved that. Strangest moment of the evening was meeting a Swedish-speaking Irishman, and his Irish-accented Swedish wife, to whom I can only apologise for inflicting my pigeon Svengelska hybrid on.

And as a bonus:

If that wasn’t enough good things, when I started getting back up to speed this morning I found out that not only have Brand Republic been kind enough to include this blog in their BR200 list of ‘The Web’s Most Influential Bloggers‘ but somehow I’ve ended up as high as 85th out of a list of 200 blogs which I’m honoured to even share the list with.

After all that you’d think I might need to sit down for a bit…

Instead I’m feeling pretty fired up, which is handy with two proposals to finish this week, student articles to feedback on, existing client work to finish, my own sites to upgrade, and preparations to hold a one day course on various elements of digital marketing and social media to some very senior media people.

Bloody hell.


A truism from MacLeod and a quick plug…

Hugh MacLeod at GapingVoid is rarely wrong! Incidentally, I highly recommend his writing on Social Objects, How to be Creative, and The Hughtrain.

And to balance the amount of links deservedly pointing to GapingVoid, I just thought I’d mention that there is, in fact, a TheWayoftheWeb Facebook Page, which I hope will become a place where I can chat about ideas, aggregate any questions etc in addition to my network of fantastic people on Twitter.

The Add Friend on Facebook T-Shirt and integrating real world brand advocates…

It’s interesting to see how the fairly disparate network of friends, colleagues, and random people I’ve built up over the years can sometimes converge on a topic from a variety of different angles…

Take mobile phone QR codes appearing on T-shirts for example. David Cushman has picked up on the use of them for football shirts, or any branded product. So if someone has some Nikes you like, you stop them, point your phone at them, and get taken to somewhere to find out more and purchase…
He also makes the great point that many, many important Word of Mouth conversations about a product are still happening face-to-face, rather than all on the more trackable internet.

And almost simultaneously Angus Farquhar was emailing me about this:

Found via airtight interactive, it’s one of several T-shirts and bags available which mean you can be added by anyone you meet. I’m not sure there’s a good thing in general, but it would definitely have uses at conferences/business meetings. Lost your business card? Just flash your chest at prospective clients!

If they do take off, it’ll be interesting to see if GapingVoid switches to doodling on moving people…

The rules have changed…

Even in web 2.0 a pillock is still a pillock. They just use more buzzwords, without knowing what they mean. From Hugh Macleod’s always inspirational Gaping Void.

Staying creative…

There are times when any person can struggle to be creative. If you’re of a literary bent, you get to say you have writer’s block, a luxury which isn’t normally allowed to electricians or plumbers…

“Sorry, I can’t fix your toilet today luv….got a bit of plumbers block”

The normal answer is to walk away, do something else entirely, and not to worry about it. If you force it, then it won’t be worth reading… Good advice.

You can always take some time to read something inspirational. For instance, the gapingvoid guide to being creative. The Gaping Void is always an interesting read, and the business card cartoons lighten the mood.I think creator Hugh McLeod is pretty much in the ‘A’ list of bloggers, and most web people have encountered something he’s done.

But….and I do like a nice but… I do have a slight problem/query/paradox about one of his rules of creativity concerning keeping your dayjob. While I agree it’s easier to make something valid and worthwhile if something else covers the bills, I would add the caveat that it depends on your job.

The examples of Hugh himself, running his blog and art away from the marketing day job etc works, as he obviously does a job that he can enjoy, and which can feed into his passion. Alternatively, if you work as a waiter/waitress and paint/write/act in the evenings, it’ll be relatively easy to forget about your day job once you walk out of the door.

But when you’re involved in a job like internet publishing, and you also run a blog, that’s where the balancing act becomes more difficult. If you’ve had a bad day, and seen decisions made which you don’t agree with, do you write honestly and risk getting fired? Do you keep quiet, and leave the blog empty? And with most media companies offering contracts which own your thoughts as soon as you think them, should you be blogging anyway? What happens when your day job is eating away at your net enthusiasm?

For the record, and for the moment, I’m committed to blogging. I’m going to take the step of declaring that I won’t be refering to the specifics of my day job, but that I may post lessons I’ve learned from what happens. I’ll happily post in more detail about projects like Disposable Media (New issue should be online tonight), as they’re in my personal space, and I’m fully aware of everything that goes into the decisions made for that project. And, at the moment, the idea of reinforcing my positivity is rather attractive, as I do have a lot of options to explore at the moment.