100Bloggers Essay, aka the “Talking Story Baby Book excerpt”

You may recall my mention of the 100Bloggers book project in a recent Talking Story post called “How about 100 Bloggers or more in your company?” (which I was very serious about, so click back in for a read if you missed it.)

If our Editor-In-Chief Jon Strande is able to keep all 100 of us on schedule with this he deserves the Manager of the Year Award. I’m a day late here with my own contribution because my excitement about yesterday’s book reviews got the best of me, …sorry Jon!

So here it is; your sneak preview to my essay for the 100 Bloggers Book. Read this for a sampling of the passion poured into this project, and watch for the book itself to be in print later this Spring. At minimum there will be a hundred different announcements throughout the blogosphere ”

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Why do I blog?

In my case, I discovered blogging by a stroke of luck and good fortune, and I was very quickly captivated by it. As a businesswoman, blogging continues to reward me almost daily, and I would be foolish to abandon it now. As a writer I derive such personal and professional joy from my own blog, Talking Story, that I cannot imagine stopping.

Within these pages you are going to read insightful reasons to take up blogging for yourself, and I encourage you to take the advice of these good people to heart, for they’ve participated in this project of Ho‘okipa (the hospitality of complete giving), in their own spirit of Aloha, and nothing less. These bloggers are an incredibly generous group: there is no better word to describe them. In Hawaii, they would be known as Mea Ho‘okipa, innately generous and giving hosts.

Within this chapter alone, Bren, David, and Wayne paint an irresistible picture of the future for you, a future you can create for yourself far more easily than you now imagine. I’m the newbie of our group, and I consider these three gentlemen my mentors. They have become my friends.

For my part, I thought I’d share my story with you. My hope is that you’ll simply recognize something familiar and say to yourself, “hey, me too!” What has happened for me since writing Talking Story is just too good not to share: joy comes with blogging, and you can experience it too.

This is what happened.

In 2004 I hit my half-century mark on this earth, and months before it arrived, I had made the decision to live that year with as many new experiences as I possibly could. Perhaps the biggest one was that I would leave the corporate world I’d finally conquered, and be self-employed, self-reliant, and self-sufficient. In fact, I became so excited by this prospect I took the leap of faith six months earlier because I just couldn’t wait any longer, the anticipation was so sweet. On the first of July 2003 I left a very cushy well-paying executive-suite job, and my own cash-poor business, Say Leadership Coaching was born. I instantly became more frugal, more creative, and more obsessed with learning than I had ever been before. I had to.

In the job I left behind, I’d been vice-president of operations with close to 400 employees, and I had every partner for which boxes have ever been drawn on organizational charts: accounting, finance, sales, marketing, human resources, development, and one I’d been smart enough to turn into my very best friend: information systems & technology. If my computer screen ever froze I’d pick up the phone and call Tony. I’d been trained corporate-protectively well: Networks and company servers were sacred, firewalls could never be compromised, unexpected email attachments were never opened, and passwords were changed weekly. Ctrl-Alt-Delete was forbidden, and even re-booting was a desperate measure you didn’t admit to.

Yet I was smitten with technology, and well on my way to being an all-electronic paperless convert. Upon leaving I asked for just one parting gift: my laptop. There was no question in my mind that my second creation would be my own web site, and it was. (As a writer, my first creation was my book, Managing with Aloha.)

But what frustration; the road was rocky those first few months. Looking back now, I realize I did everything the hard way; had I discovered blogs first it would have been so much easier, faster, and much cheaper. I hired a webmaster to help me interpret the gibberish of the no-aloha internet service provider who holds a monopoly on the beautiful, but very rural mountainside I live on here in Hawaii. My entire district had only graduated from dial-up to high-speed DSL a mere weeks before. My only-choice ISP totally confused me about domain mapping and web hosting, and did their best to convince me I couldn’t possibly learn html and any web design on my own. They even managed to make my email set-up seem like rocket science. In pure obstinate stubbornness, I refused to believe them, creating my new company while stuck with using their services if I wanted to be online at all. How I missed Tony!

Then I discovered blogs, and a bright light turned on.

With no network, no company server, and no firewalls to close me in, I bought some anti-virus software for my security blanket and went crazy web surfing. You see up until then I had only been on the internet at work. I was absolutely fascinated with what the wondrous world wide web offered up now that there were no company-imposed rules to follow, and all I could crash was my own laptop, which was on its last legs anyway.

That “stroke of luck and good fortune” I mentioned, was that I made Google my internet home page. Google took me straight to blogs with my searches, and I quickly figured out that people far less computer literate than me were publishing them without webmasters and IT guys. And these bloggers were people driven by passion.

I signed up for the TypePad free trial and entered the Pearly Gates of web publishing: No more phone calls with ISP techs, no more frustrating emails, no more delays from idea, to design, to webmaster, to credit card. If I needed to find out more, I just read more blogs, amazed by the generosity of bloggers who’d tell you whatever you wanted to know on their blog or in a personal email – for free. No longer afraid to just click on something, I discovered PubSub, BlogLines, SiteMeter, FeedBurner, and a host off other stuff just by clicking on blog icons and reading “About” pages. I learned about permission marketing, double opt-in subscriptions, and the open and click-through stats of targeted email campaigns. And guess what: I learned that great mystery – html – without a single class, just by using TypePad.

There’s so much more I could tell you about the journey, and if you visit my blog you’ll see a visual picture of just how much I’ve learned. As I write this, Talking Story is just six days away from being a mere six months old; that’s how quickly it all came together. I now know about RSS, SEO, tagging versus folders, and all those “techie things” that once seemed so intimidating, just by virtue of visiting other bloggers and asking them questions. I’ll soon be totally converting my slick static website to a blog-publishing platform exclusively, and it is astounding to me that I’m now learning about podcasting (personal broadcasting).

I still don’t know everything, and I’m sure I still do some things the harder way, but I know that I can learn it. What I most wanted to tell you with my story is this: blogging has helped me be unafraid of technology in this rapidly changing world. It has helped me feel exceptionally confident of my capacity for new learning. It has turned me into a “citizen publisher.” It has released possibilities within me I never knew were there.

Blogging can do that for you too. I know it can.

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There you have it.

When the book is printed, this will appear in a chapter with fellow Ho‘ohana Community Online ‘Ohana: Bren (Slacker Manager), David (Ripples), and Wayne (Blog Business World). Yvonne (Lip-Sticking) is also included, headlining her own chapter. I’ll continue to update this post with their entries too:

Essay written by David Lawrence, as it appeared on Ripples February 15th.
Essay written by Wayne Hurlbert, as it appeared on Blog Business World March 6th.

Postscript: There’s much more in the Talking Story Baby Book these days, and I’m thinking of creating a column for it here on the TS home page in the spirit of Nānā i ke kumu, “look to the source.” I just can’t decide on the cover art for it. An autographed copy of Managing with Aloha awaits any artists out there who can help me: email me here if you have an idea for me, would you?

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