What Are Your Salary Expectations?

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

A bold question, no? It’s is a question that I’m asked 98% of the time on a job application, first thing when applying, along with the usual questions and personal information requested. Name, address, phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, Education, Experience, mandatory EEOC questioning to ensure discrimination doesn’t take place, which is to say, to make sure it DOES take place, possibly a few preliminary questions about strengths/weaknesses, and then the final question:

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

I haven’t spoken to anyone at the company at this point usually. The real specific expectations and duties of the job haven’t been provided yet. No additional information about the role may or may not entail, or anything further about the companies competitors, its goals for the firm or the position, and what vision the visionaries and executives have for the company and role.

There has been no indication of what’s been budgeted for the position, nor what the company may be able to spend. Most of the companies I interview with and apply at are private, so their revenue and budgets are private as well. I have no idea what range they have in mind to spend for the position for which they’re hiring.

I’ve hired many folks for many different roles, so I’ve been on both sides of the salary negotiation table. And I usually save the money for the end of the hiring discussion to make sure we have a fit. The applicant is indeed interested and has all the pertinent information going to the negotiation table. I like everything to be above-board and all parties comfortable with the process and people who make up the company. I don’t want there to be any awkwardness post-hiring, like I tried to hide something or pull a fast one because I don’t do such things.

Depending on the companies’ policy on the openness of salaries, I abide by it. Some companies want wages a secret. That’s a hard thing to do well, I’ve found. With the internet and the way people like to murmur and talk, it creates some friction eventually.

On the flip side, some companies are wide-open about salaries. That’s also a little dangerous. If you work for the government or a governmental entity, your pay usually is publicly available anyway. That goes for University professors all the way to police, administrators, and anyone else that’s employed by the state or federal government. I find it’s not a big deal in that case because in nearly every case, they’re way overpaid compared to the private sector. The employees, who also are members of unions, certainly won’t admit that, though. Typically the other way around – they claim they’re poverty-level.

But back to the topic. “What are your salary expectations?

I know companies are looking for a figure with that question. That’s silly, given the aforementioned reasons. So I usually complete the space, if possible with text, to reflect what I just explained above. Sometimes, as with the featured image for this blog post, the question is “What are Your Salary “REQUIREMENTS?”

Not just expectations, but requirements. My requirements are that my salary meets expectations, which should be in line with what the company believes their position is worth in tandem with what they’re able to afford. I’ve been interviewed by a few people at firms who want a lot, but can’t afford what they’re looking for. I’ve interviewed people that want a high salary but the position being filled doesn’t require their vast skillset. So there’s no match. It’s frustrating as an applicant when a company has the budget but is trying to fill a position for the least amount of money possible and shave duties from the position, knowing full-well those duties are going to reappear in that role once the person is in place. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Hire and pay for a small role, then inflate the role with huge responsibilities and keep the wage the same. It’s bad business. Make sure the job description is in writing and boundaries are adhered to. If the employee is ready for greater responsibilities, great! Just make sure HR is aware those duties are being tacked onto the role and the employee is being compensated accordingly. Otherwise, things can become unwieldy.

I expect the salary to reflect the expectations, duties and effort, skills, experience, education, and whatever else is required to fulfill the role and do the company’s job to the best of my ability. Within the budget, the company has determined that I have no way of knowing.

The question is asked right off the bat, with no input by any representative of the company. So I see what’s going on: the company is using the leverage it has at hand, being the employer with the open position desired by the applicant, who has a lower hand at that stage. The company has the upper hand. Negotiations have already begun without stating such. Again, I feel that’s jumping the gun and putting the horse before the cart, to use two cliche metaphors.

And what ends up happening? A few things. But let me first say something truly as far as myself is concerned: I wouldn’t be spending my time applying and showing my interest and jumping through quite a few hoops if I weren’t interested in the position what range salary the work usually involves. I’m not throwing my hat into the ring blindly. I do my due diligence and research, and as an employee, I know what positions in my industry and field command and what I am worth in the open market.

2019 MBA starting salaries

I’ve worked as a freelance and consultant, which proves down to the penny what I’m worth in the open market. Because people pay precisely what I ask. We negotiate that very thing frequently. And I’ve been hired in the open marketplace by large firms. One that does over $100 million in revenue per year and the other is the largest company on Earth: Amazon. And if you don’ think they know what people and positions are worth with the data and hundreds of thousands of employees they have, and hire 10’s of thousands of people at a time, then you’re nuts.

So, “What are My Salary Expectations?” “What are Yours?” is a better question and better saved for the end of the application process.

What happens when the question is asked, and an eyebrow-raising figure or response as I give are inserted in the space? The applicant is immediately put into the trash can. And an excellent applicant is immediately and shamefully dismissed for no real good reason, and no discussion or interview happens whatsoever.

Salary is a touchy subject, and it shouldn’t be. My salary through the years has been high and increasingly so. But that has no bearing on what I’m seeking at this point in my life now what a position I’m applying for should bear.

I’m applying for jobs in South Carolina right now. And for jobs that may command higher or lower salaries than I’ve made in the past. Those roles have nothing to do with the companies or positions I’m applying for now. So when a hiring manager cringes when I tell them my previous salaries, which I’ve seen them do, they absolutely shouldn’t because they have nothing to do with my current goals or salary expectations.

 

The Internet is About to Become Much More Crowded

The Internet is About to Become Much More Crowded

I love to write. For me, it’s like playing the guitar, which I also enjoy. It’s fun to do, it enables me to learn and flex my feeble mind, which is always important as birthdays fly by more and more quickly. And the more I do it, my enjoyment and skill with it improve simultaneously. It’s both a creative outlet and a professional necessity. It allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, and growing cumulative knowledge about the elements that enter my mind each day through my senses and are processed and organized by my unique set of neurons and blob of grey matter sloshing around in my noggin.

It’s never been a passion of mine, but it is something I’ve been good at for a long time. I attribute that to having both a mother that was an English major and liked to read and her sister who had advanced degrees in English and a brother that was a voracious reader and had a very quick wit from that pastime. All three were very smart, as was my grandfather, who I spent a lot of intense time with all throughout my childhood and formative years. It’s a reflection of the style in which I write and how I speak, actually. It’s what I heard growing up, so it’s what I’ve been conditioned to do, which enables me to cruise through lots of English, literature, poetry, and even logic and philosophy courses with ease. And I took several years of Latin, which helped tremendously with my vocabulary, understanding of languages, and composition. Which, in turn, has enabled me to communicate concisely, coherently, and in ways that may be challenging to others.

It’s a skill that wasn’t all that in-demand when I graduated from college. It directed me toward the fields of law, teaching, and poetry, which all came with either unappealing salaries or industries. Although I’ve spent about 21 years in school, academia is hardly an environment I love. It’s just a necessary commitment to learning increasingly sophisticated topics in the most efficient manner. Ironically, I found myself teaching a marketing class at a University in the mid-2010s as a favor to the Dean of the business school.

But with the increasing importance and adoption of the internet as an essential organism for humans to thrive, I’ve found my writing talents appreciating in tandem. And writing content for marketing purposes, which I have my MBA in, has placed me in demand. This is nice as I’m currently seeking a new job, hopefully utilizing my writing capabilities and powers of marketing persuasion, SEO email, and inbound marketing as well as content marketing.

And as the internet matures, and broadband becomes more powerful and capable of handling faster and far greater demand each and every day, we’re seeing audio becoming the new trend that investors, content creators, marketers and everyone else is falling over themselves to be early adopters. In the internet world, those who hesitate lose, and lose big often. Or may not lose, but a ticket on the bandwagon gets prohibitively expensive and demands premium prices quickly.

Right now there’s a rush to audio and big players are setting up big apps for creators and consumers to use, with the people and companies that create those tools taking their cut, in a smartly, but sometimes hastily, developed marketplace, of course.

For example. I use the service/app Refind a lot to curate news, articles that are relevant to me and to organize the firehose of content that is unleashed on internet users in an aver-increasing and constant way. If you don’t use such a thing it becomes overwhelming nearly instantly and the whole experience is frustrating, unmanageable and ultimately, I think, meaningless. You walk away drenched, wondering “what just happened” and more confused than enlightened and educated and fulfilled, bereft of the reason you approached the internet in the first place. What an awful experience, when the tool is so powerful and such a massively useful resource!

But Refind is already adopting the capability to include audio to the links/stories/articles you bookmark, save and use in your own personal newsletter if you wish, which Refind makes unbelievably easy and even fun. It’s a service that’s baked right onto their software, available for you to use, which was just quietly added. Like for this article, for example. But it shows how fast and vastly this idea happening and being implemented online.

I stay on the crest of new technology because I like to and staying relevant in my field of marketing, specifically, digital but also “printed” marketing channels, online. So I’ve tinkered around with podcasts and live-streaming audio/video and know how it all works. Although podcasts certainly are popular, I wouldn’t call the product fully baked yet. But that’s about to change.

Clubhouse is going to take on a life of its own. And investors and companies that have the existing technology and customer base already in place have taken notice and acting quickly. In some cases, as Mark Cuban’s prone to do, prematurely. But it’s still a sign that money is being thrown around as the mid-nineties saw it with the embryonic interwebs V.1.0 as it began to stand up and grow hair. People like that they can do stuff around the house, at any hour, while enjoying high-level convos in the background – passive audio consumption + interactive podcasts are likely in our future.

Spotify is one such company that has partnered with WordPress (which I publish this blog/website on) to allow writers to publish podcasts easily on Spotify, iTunes, and a growing host of other platforms. Which have a LOT of customers. Billions. That’s huge for even tiny guys like me that put out writing just for the fun of it.

Reason is, most podcasts have largely been just thrown together rather impromptu discussions and interviews produced on home audio equipment in people’s home offices and basements. There are other ways to do it of course, but that’s been the most popular way so far. And the episodes and feeds have had to be manually uploaded by podcasters and content creators.

The reason it hasn’t interested me has been several reasons. One is that I don’t really like hearing myself talk, and I’m not a person that likes to just talk and talk and talk. I’d rather listen and learn. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. On the contrary, as evidenced by this website, I jot down a lot of thoughts. Of all kinds and topics. I may be changing that though.

As WordPress has enabled anyone to be a publisher, apps like Spotify are enabling anyone to publish audio. And that includes explicitly people who publish on WordPress, as I do, via Anchor, which is the necessary hosting platform. And it’s seamless. In fact, I’ve already published my first episode, which was a post I published here about how to do anything well and included a great, easy beef vegetable soup recipe as a bonus.

Something that appeals to me, and I hope to others that may be interested in what I have to “say,” is that I don’t have to read my writing, which relieves users from hearing me drone on in my less-than-operatic voice. I’ve used a service Amazon provides called Polly which converts my writing to an audio file for accessibility reasons for those with poor vision or no vision. But the problems with that have been that the voice that reads it sounds like a Robotron 2000 and is obviously computerized and probably as annoying as my own voice would be. It also doesn’t publish and send my content out to the world at large over apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, where I now have my own channels. That again is huge.

michael musgrove podcast available across the world online

https://musgrove.link/anchor

So, very soon the internet is about to be much more crowded by people like me, people that haven’t been creating content yet, and lots of people that are going to want to compete for ears. My intention has never been to grow a giant audience or become famous. I don’t care about notoriety and celebrity. But I do like to help people and preserve “Life Lessons” for my daughter’s sake. If I croak prematurely, I want there to be a body of work that lets her know what I was all about, how I thought, things I did, feelings and thoughts and ideas I had, and so on. I don’t have the time or real will to concentrate on writing an autobiography, which this website isn’t meant to be anyway. I don’t put a lot of personal things here because A) I don’t think most readers would be that interested; B) an autobiography would necessarily have to have an ending, which isn’t workable in this context, and C) My personal habits aren’t the world’s business. For example, I could go on forever about the past few years of life which have been the most challenging, but it would read like a lot of complaining, blaming, finger-pointing, and whining, which is something I don’t participate in. I aim to set the best example for my daughter that I can, which is why I write my life lessons here and the traits I try to embody, and the rules I live my life by. I would never expect anyone else to abide by something I don’t abide by myself. “Do as I say and not as I do” is for losers.

So I can write here, send it to Spotify, iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, PocketCasts, Breaker, Radio Public, and other platforms, and have playlists created for people to subscribe to at their leisure and will. That works for me. And it’s read by a pleasing voice and I can edit it to have sound “effects” to enhance the whole thing, which I also enjoy. I love the world of music as much as I love the world of writing.

How to Make The Best Beef Vegetable Soup, or Anything Really

How to Make The Best Beef Vegetable Soup, or Anything Really

It’s been a cold snowy day in Louisville, so what else would a loser eligible playboy bachelor do when faced with a lonely night, when his daughter is staying over at his ex-wife’s house?

Correct!: cook a bunch of beef vegetable soup and blog about it.

This is actually a recreational and productive activity for me. It allows me to mindlessly write, which is fun, and cook, which is fun and provides much-needed and appreciated food around this joint. My cooking has reached another level recently I’ve noticed, which is nice to realize and be able to say. At this point, it’s small increments of progression, but that’s what happens after doing something you’re interested in for so long and have the skills and knowledge of. If only my guitar playing were as adept. But there’s no reason it can’t get there as well, and I plan for it to as my daughter gets older and she’s mentally and physically ready. Trying to rush things will only lead to frustration for her, and that is the best way to teach someone to hate something. She’s showing a real interest in music now and is attracted to the idea of playing guitar in a band. And she knows you have to learn and practice to get there, so half the battle is already won. I can and will teach her. I already have a guitar and ukelele for her which she enjoys twanging on. They and I are there and at the ready when the time comes, which it will. That goes for a lot of things I’m eager to introduce her to. It takes patience on my part, as well as working with her to get to those points. It doesn’t happen magically like I think a lot of parents believe and hope. Exceptional abilities take time and deliberate instruction, cultivation, and nurturing, like getting anything small to grow into something substantial where it can expand on its own up into the sky and across the land.

But getting back to the cooking thing. It’s a matter of learning the science and art of adding various types of heat to various ingredients when mixed together at the right times. And prepared correctly with the right tools. There’s a lot to it. But over the course of a person’s life, there’s plenty of time to learn it, which I have. If you’re serious and deliberate about it and not in a pop-culture type of way by simply watching The Food Network 24/7 and prone to fads like an “Instant Pot” and cilantro and “BAMMing” everything as you add it to the pot.

So for tonight’s project, I chose Beef Vegetable Soup(which I think I’ve covered once before on this website. I love it in the Winter), with barley and some crunchy garlic bread to go with it for a few reasons. It’s simple, which is a nice aspect of any recipe, it’s hearty and makes a lot, which is nice when you have a big appetite and a tight budget, and I, like a lot of people who cook at home a lot, have most of the ingredients already on hand.

I hate wasting food and use up nearly everything I ever buy. That’s a tall order when you’re cooking for one grown man and a 45-pound girl and that’s it. She and I have a lot of similar tastes, thankfully, and although she’s “picky” she’s not objectionable to trying anything before judging it. And I’ve decoded her tastebuds as a 5-year-old anyway, after a lot of tests and trial and error and note-taking. All kids for that matter.

Children aren’t looking for or wanting complex, savory, gastronomic experiences that create exotic rich tapestries of flavor in their little young mouths. They want simple 1 ingredient, bite-sized samples of food that can be eaten easily, usually with their fingers, and small bits at a time, even down to one bean, pea, noodle, strand, nugget, kibble, or taste at a time. So giving a forkful of the most decadent, saucy, cheesy al-dente lasagna ever created by an Italian woman who has spent 95 years in a Venetian grotto toiling away over the fires and pots won’t matter to a kid. They’ll take one small lick of a noodle and hand down their verdict based on that experience, which will remain chiseled in stone for years. I myself wouldn’t eat a tomato slice or chunk until I was 30. Just in sauces, thanks. I’d cook them and prepare them for others, but no way was I going to eat some slimy, seed-filled, gelatinous part-slug, part who-knows-what. No thanks. My daughter, however? She eats cherry tomatoes by the bushel like they were M&Ms. I buy them 2 containers at a time and they disappear overnight. Same with spinach, raw. Eats it by the hand and bowlful like a goat. She’s a very healthy person, I’m proud to say. Blackberries and Strawberries and blueberries, too. Cantaloupe and Honeydews? Eats them whole like a hippo. It’s amazing and wonderful.

I also found a great deal on an awesome cut of chuck roast. I don’t eat much meat at all compared to most people, especially Americans. I love seafood, which is one of many reasons I’m eager to move back to coastal South Carolina with my daughter. It’s easy to take fresh seafood for granted. People in midwest Louisville will always say “It’s flown in. We have the UPS hub here, etc…” but it’s not the same. It’s still not as fresh as I’m talking about, it’s journey and handling makes it expensive and damaged in small, unseen ways, it puts a lot of distance between the ocean and my plate no matter what, and you don’t know exactly where the stuff is coming from. Restaurants lie all the time. As do vendors that need to move a lot of highly perishable, expensive stock.

finished chuck roast

To make this any more tender, you’d need to liquify it.

What I recommend is establishing a relationship with your butcher, whenever you regularly shop. There are several good reasons for doing this beyond making a friend.

Getting to know the guy who’s in charge of supplying your kitchen and yourself and your family with meat is a good idea just for peace of mind. I know most people don’t think they want to know or care about the very things keeping them alive and healthy comes from. That’s very trusting and proves ignorance is bliss. That’s also risky and not wise when all it takes is getting to know a person, which is a good thing, to improve the situation. It’s winning all-around behavior.

Getting to know your butcher allows you to find the best cuts at the best price and get service that’s available and always overlooked and unrealized. He, or she, will take cuts you find and cut them in other ways you want or like. They have the best tools for that and don’t mind doing it. It’s their job and what they’ve decided to apply their interests and skillsets to, so take advantage of it. He can also hook you up with soup bones and extraordinary treats for your dog if you ask nicely. A dog will freak out if you give it a nice fresh marrowy bone to gnaw on for a few hours. Pure heaven. It firmly establishes you as the Alpha dog of All-time and one who can work magic.

You can learn where your butcher gets his knives sharpened, which is something you should do regularly and take seriously if you cook regularly and don’t want to hack off a digit. People think sharp knives are what cause “accidents” in the kitchen, but it’s not. It’s dull knives and improper knife skills. The duller your knife is, the more force you have to apply to the cut, which means if and when the dull blade slips from its intended vector, it flys off toward your hand or finger with more force than needed, and suddenly you’re Jerry Garcia. Who was a famous nine-fingered guitarist for those who don’t know.

But if you’re ever unsure of what to make for dinner, being able to ask your seafood monger or butcher what they would take home tonight is a great first step towards successful living. I define “successful living” as having the finest available, which means vetting your sources for such. It’s a necessary step when appropriating anything, in business – employees, for example; sports – gauging your equipment properly; music – making sure you have the best made and perfectly-tuned instruments; from web development to furniture making, it’s all the same. Make sure you have the right tools for the job and they’re the best available and maintained and ready for the job. You won’t consistently be successful otherwise. Ever.

When I buy my seafood in South Carolina, I buy it from people I know who get it from fishermen right off the boat. It goes from hook to ice, to market(which is located on the pier the boat that caught it docks on), to me. That’s it. There are 2 people that make it me not catching it myself. And that’s no small reason I don’t eat a lot of other meat, like beef, pork, and chicken. Lord knows where that stuff comes from and what it’s seen along the way to my kitchen. Nothing I even want to know about, to be honest. And to a big extent why I don’t eat out a lot, especially at fast food places, which are more about quantity and maintaining thin profit margins than the quality of the product that goes into people’s bodies. And the typical American body shows it. Diabetes, heart problems, mega-obesity, poor quality of life, and all because of what’s become “the norm” for America’s diet.

When I watch TV shows, newsreels, movies, or other examples of what Americans looked like, how they took care of themselves, and expectations of and standards of themselves and others were 60 years ago, it’s like looking in on another planet altogether.

Not only were people not wearing baggy sweatpants, shower shoes, XXXXXL t-shirts, or no shirts, white whale blubbery skin covered in tattoos from head to flipper, with flat-brimmed baseball caps on backwards and having to use a straining motorized scooter to haul them around on while gripping a vape-pen in one flipper and a Watermelon-flavored Mt. Dew in the other, they viewed policemen as authority figures who existed to protect, keep peace and help those who couldn’t help themselves in dangerous situations. Because they actually do.

Which has nothing to do with a soup recipe.

So for the ingredients, you’ll need:

  • 3 lb boneless chuck roast. Bone-in preferred and if so, that’ll knock the weight up to about 5 lbs. But boneless is what you’ll usually find. Not a lot of fat, so fat trimmed and well-marbled.
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 bag of baby carrots chopped. It’s cheaper than a whole bag of carrots, but you can use 3 whole carrots instead.
  • 3 big stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • As much chopped garlic as you like. I like LOTS.
  • 1 bag frozen mixed veg‘s. Some people just grab peas/corn/beans/carrots, but I go for the Veg soup mixed veg’s which also have okra and potatoes. I also sometimes use 2 12 oz. bags instead of 1 16 oz. bag depending on what’s on sale and available.
  • 1 box reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1TB white sugar
  • 28 oz can stewed toms
  • salt/pepper to taste to season the beef when cooking and soup.

[Note: for tonight’s rendition, I forgot to buy stewed tomatoes. So as a substitute I’m using a big handful of halved cherry tomatoes and a can of Progresso tomato-Basil soup and some Tomato paste to thicken the soup. Things I have on hand. I also often use low sodium V-8 juice in this type of soup and chili. It adds a lot of nutrients, flavor, and depth you just couldn’t get elsewhere or so cheaply.]

 In a slow cooker, cook the chuck roast until tender. That can be between 4-5 hours on high. Something I recommend doing if you have the time and ability to vent your kitchen is to pan-sear the roast on both sides on a HOT skillet before putting it in the crockpot. season both sides of it, rub some oil on it, and drop it in a searing hot pan until a crust is formed The meat should initially seize up from the heat but initially release once the sugars have caramelized. This takes some know-how and will produce a lot of smoke, just to be honest and forewarned. But the dividends from doing it are worth it in many cases. Sometimes it’s not prudent or wise to include this step. It’s not going to ruin the dish if you don’t do it. It just won’t take it to another level.

 During the last hour add the barley and bay leaf. Then remove all, discard bay leaf, chop meat into bite-sized pieces, and set meat, barley, and broth aside.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat.

Saute carrots, celery, onion, and frozen mixed vegetables until tender.

Add your box of broth, sugar, tomatoes, garlic, and beef/barley mixture.

Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-20 minutes.

Season to taste with S&P.

That’s it! Whether this soup or anything turns out a success is how you define it. Not someone else. Other people will always have their preferences and biases and opinions and agendas and expectations. Your standards and expectations must exceed the other person’s to please, much less delight them. So keeping them high and raising them ever higher once reached is necessary to keep performing at an ever-higher level, which is my personal goal. Other people will always be able to do things better than I can. I’m not worried about them. What I strive for is doing better tomorrow what I did today so that those I serve and have expectations of me will be pleased, and hopefully one day, delighted.

Since what makes me happy and feel successful is helping others become happy and successful, it means constantly striving for better solutions, avoiding negative and corrosive situations, and reaching higher towards incrementally farther goals.

And that’s how you make the best beef-vegetable soup.  Or anything.

Incidentally, the Superbowl is underway as I write this. The field and box seats are filled with people who get what I just wrote. It’s how they got there. The people at home and pretending to care about the event and activity are those who may not get it and don’t care. They get their Beef Vegetable soup from a can.

How to Win. Every Time.

How to Win. Every Time.

I fear nothing. There’s nothing I’m afraid of.∗ I have some worries, but worries can be fixed with time and smarts. That allows me to approach danger bravely and retreat wisely when necessary to return when I’m able to eliminate the danger. And then move forward as planned. There will always be obstacles. If you attain a goal in life without overcoming obstacles, then you’ve had everything given to you and all you’ve gained is largely meaningless.

For some people, they hold up those moments as evidence of achievement, but in reality, they are still standing in the same spot they always were and have attained nothing of real value.

For someone who fears nothing and is forever reaching further ahead, there’s no stopping someone like that is there? Time will have to tell. It may delay the goal and intended achievement, but sometimes the journey is part of all of that goal. There are certainly lessons learned along the way that must come from the experience. It reminds me of the wise saying I often recall on the Harry Barbee mural at Woodberry Forest that says “Effort in sport is a matter of character than reward. It’s an end in itself and not a means to an end.” It’s true. It goes along with a lesson I’m forever trying to imbue to my daughter which is to always turn in your best work. That’s what people will remember you for, which is not only the final submission but the effort you made to make it so. Being a quitter and turning in something half-assed doesn’t impress anyone. Everybody can do that. Do your best work and don’t just complete the job, but delight the person you’re submitting it to and you’ll always have accomplished something. No matter how small or large. And large jobs are just usually a bunch of smaller jobs. Do them all as best as you can.

you are a winner

The “trick” I’ve learned over lo, these many years, to do a spectacular job is twofold.

Most of the quality you get from your effort is a product of the preparation you put into it before doing the actual project or event.  A good job requires a LOT of behind the scenes, not-fun prep work that no one usually sees. That goes for anything in life. Ask anyone who is a consistent winner in life. You have to get up at 3 am to bake the best biscuits. You have to run stairs in the dark and be in the gym when everyone else has gone home to make touchdowns. Ask the guys at Alabama.

Do the prep work. Measure twice, cut once. Use the right, and best if possible, tools. A lot of times that is what we have before us like our hands and brain.

To do the prep work, you must allow yourself the time for it. This is where many people falter as well. Procrastination, or the misjudgment of how much time is needed to prepare adequately. Doing a rushed, half-assed job of preparation will lead to inferior output. Every time. That’s common sense.

The last part of the equation is after finishing, put the bow on it. Don’t just hand it in as-is. Put the cherry on top. It’s called fit and finishes. It’s what separates the great from the absolute best. Think of what else can be done to delight the user/recipient/person/client/whoever? It doesn’t have to be much to set you apart at this altitude. What you present to people is a reflection of who you are, so why not make it something memorable and the highest quality, if that’s how you want to be perceived?

That’s how winning works.

∗ People who know me will say “Untrue! You’re afraid of spiders!” But the fact is, I’m not afraid of spiders. They just give me the willies. Along with some type of long spidery-crawly-thing in Kentucky that has hundreds of legs which I’d never seen before moving up here. Satan having a nightmare while on acid couldn’t dream up anything more disturbing than these bugs.

 

 

The Future of Online Security and Privacy

The Future of Online Security and Privacy

This is an epilogue from my last post about what I want to share with my daughter, which is a reach into the future.

thanyaverhmuch

Things are happening fast in the USA, I feel more so than the rest of the world, but that’s because of the incessant turbulence we’ve been experiencing due to political, cultural, and technological forces, which the USA is a beacon fo the world of. For good or bad, and right now, bad in many ways. It means adaptability is imperative and action must always be appropriate and prudent.

I keep up with current events and technology and stay on the tip of the wave pretty well. And I try t use my education and experience, and as much wisdom as I can muster, to stay on my toes. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a very analytical, absorb all the information, wait-and-listen, and make prudent, quick decisions type of person.

This has become easier thanks to my advancing age, wisdom, and rapidly-advancing technology. I know how to keep feelers out and where they should be feeling and for what better each day. It’s from living a tedious life via trial and error I’ve honed that skill.

In my previous article, I shared what I want to share with my daughter. A lot of that, and my thoughts, via writing, need to be kept safe for her use (or at least keeping, whether she chooses to read this or not).

We’ve had many goofs and innocent trip-ups over the past several decades technologically while the world was trying to catch up and gain footing with the pace we’re putting information and tolls out for disseminating such.

The web v 1.0 was pretty much beta. v 2.0 was squaring things away and getting organized and some billion or so pieces in place. We’re at 3.0 and now there’s maturation and real stakes in place.

Most noticeably, from a cultural stance, I sense technology and our government are getting into bed with each other. That’s been a tenuous relationship over the years, but where are now I think is a place both have lost their cold feet and ready to start becoming more intimate than never before.

What that will result in is a lot of power-grabbing, regulatory attempts (failures and successes with the usual unintended consequences), and frantic accumulation of any and all data and information ou there that can be had. Whether needed or not. A shoot first, ask questions later approach which is all that government and some people know. It’s like being told to go into the grocery store and get what you need but you only have 5 minutes and other people will be doing the same. It becomes mayhem and not unlike Black Friday at most Wal-Marts.

So for me, it’s time to take some preemptive and preventative, smart action. I’m moving my virtual assets, activities, and data, business, and what-not that matters and is a part of me and my family to more secure, higher grounds.

This will be a large shift and I have and will be taking my time to do it right but I’ve begun. I’m taking all my stuff off Google. That’s going to be a gigantic undertaking for me. I’m leaving the fun, anything-goes tools and worlds like Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, and companies in cahoots with Lord-knows-who that have their tentacles all over me personally in a virtual, which is becoming a more literal, way. Bank accounts, my activities, thoughts, and life are being assisted by technology in more and more, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, ways.

I’ve started smartifying my home. I can control all sorts of things with my voice, which runs through devices and fiber owned by others. So they know when I come and go when I am using my TV, shower, lights, stereo, and more. There are no negative ramifications or consequences that I can see right now, but today is different from tomorrow as we have been seeing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I’ve switched my personal email over to ProtonMail from Google. I own my own domain(s). It’s the best I found, for my needs and I’ve really been enjoying it as a change if nothing more.  I also have set up a Proton VPN. All very easy for me and safe and secure.

I’ve begun using Firefox Focus for my phones and tablets. Firefox Developers edition will probably be what I end up using on my laptop and desktops, though. Open-source, privacy and security-oriented, iterative development, and features that are needed and important. Switching browsers is a pain for me, although I’m used to switching between a zillion of them for developmental purposes. Vivaldi, Brave, Safari, Edge, Chrome,Firefox, and on and on and on. As a creature of habit, I’ve become used to using Chromium browsers though which changing is going to take some getting used to.

brave browser logo- lion

As I said, I have and will take time to make this transition to ensure it’s done properly. As I take more steps and find better homes and tools and ways to execute the divorce, I’ll keep putting them here. The final result as I stated in the beginning is to keep things safe and secure for future generation utilization and free from tampering.

Some things I’m just going to allow to die on the vine that I have set up and others will be more deliberate. For example, a lot of my writing is sent over to Medium and posted on sites I have like http://aBig.Fish, and ZXOXZ, which hosts my material and URLs for free thanks to some grandfathering. That’s been nice, but it means little to me. mgm.fyi is another. I have a bunch of fun, small TLDs that I keep for no particular reason. They have become relatively valuable, which is nice. I see them emails sometimes like my personal email which is m@wdp.io. That’s about as short, and hopefully memorable, of an email address as you’ll see. And thanks to Protonmail, it’s totally secure and safe for me to post here.

As far as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which are the three social accounts I use most (but am signed up for hundreds), I’m not too worried. I could delete all those accounts tomorrow and life would go on as usual for me. I use Facebook to keep in touch with and keep up with my friends and family that are scattered around the world, and not even close to the state I have been living in. But my friends will all be there whether Facebook is around or not. I’m lucky to have some very loyal and long-held friends that were around long before Facebook and will be around long after Facebook. I don’t think many people can say that. Especially the people with over 600 or so friends. You just can’t manage a social network that large with any sincerity. And I don’t like am and am not a phony.

Twitter is a cesspool, but it’s handy for keeping up with current events. LinkedIn is sort of necessary for professional reasons, but not something anyone or business should live or die by. Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest, Product Hunt, Medium, Gab, and on and on are superfluous to me. At least at this point in my life.

I’ve signed up to MeWe.com at a friend’s behest, but I don’t see it having any momentum and friction in a meaningful way like Facebook. It’s too weak from a marketing standpoint as-is. But it has a place. Which makes me wonder if the future may resemble something like a lot of micro-social sites. All secure as a top priority, but segregated and segmented by demographic and cultural boundaries. That seems to be what America itself is becoming. More segregated. Especially racially and ideologically. This means culturally and politically, which has become more evident and cheered on over the past decade by the media.

In any case, that’s a whole different topic. But the point is that things are becoming more segregated and granular, and I wonder if that’s going to be the case as the internet becomes less private and regulated, and intrusive? We’ll see. Much technology is owned and run by leftists, so there will certainly be precipitation of people with different interests from those entities. Not necessarily going by choice, either. Most are driven away by intolerance to their non-leftist perceptions. Many leave because they can’t stand the busybodies, yelling, and lack of reason that permeates that crowd. Listening to people and large groups complaining about their feelings nonstop will wear down the most stoic.

So socially I don’t know and am not concerned about where I end up. But I will be slowly leaving the rooms I’ve been in for years. First things first though.

As far as search goes, I use Google so much, it’s going to be another hard habit to break. But DuckDuckGo seems to be the winner there, although I wish their name and UI/UX was more streamlined and just better. Compromises and tradeoffs are realized, though.

For Google Drive and any DNS I use of Google’s, I’ll switch to Cloudflare DNS and maybe BackBlaze. I haven’t settled there though. I use DropBox and several other cloud storage solutions because I back up so much and have so many assets to store. I’ve used Cloudflare since they began, and have had mixed experiences. Usually, that’s been because of growing pains and messed up configurations.

Google Maps will be going to Apple Maps and I may still use Waze from time to time. I set Waze up to use my own voice for driving commands, which isn’t a big deal but it is fun. Waze is owned by Google, by the way, and that is why I mention that.

In summary, the old way of doing things is drawing to a close. Less free-wheeling and more forward-thinking. I’m not afraid of my information being used against me, because my data and information online aren’t precious, per-se. But cumulatively it’s worth. a lot to people that leverage it for advertising, tracking, invading, and in ways I can’t imagine and haven’t been developed yet. And as my daughter gets older and her life is more present in a digital way, it’s my duty to protect her as well.

 

 

 

 

What I Want to Share with my Daughter

What I Want to Share with my Daughter

Writing on this website is an activity that serves several purposes. When you write, you should have an audience in mind. But with this website, I find myself having many different audiences. It’s like the Louisville Palace here in Louisville where I’m trapped living. A different act each time, and everything from classical to bluegrass to jazz to heavy metal to….you just never know.

As a writer, that’s fun. As someone who tries to build an audience and owns a website, it’s murder. But I’m not trying to generate a huge following to satiate my ego. I’m writing to my daughter, Cecelia.

The lessons I write here and nostalgia and writing that only gives a sense of my personality, lack of wit and wry sense of humor, and words of wisdom that I would want to share with her through her life at many stages.

Something I worry about, probably because of my own mother’s premature demise from Leukemia, is croaking before I can say and do everything I want with my daughter. She means everything to me. I’ve had the fortune to do and experience some truly incredible things and places on this Earth. And I want to share the jewels I’ve found during my lifetime with her. Sadly, that was a goal I had with my daughter’s mother, but she decided Disney World with a retard from New Jersey was better. Her usual poor life decision.

And a fear I have is that I perish tomorrow and she never gets her hands on these words I’ve carefully banged out for her to live by. I’ll try to address that some other way. But that makes what I want to share with her that much more urgent. Tomorrow isn’t promised. I’m learning that as more of my friends leave this mortal coil and I tear months from the calendar off ever faster and more furiously.

She’s upstairs in my luxuriously gigantic, soft, and appointed bed right now asleep while I slip down to my office each night to write, pay bills, look for better jobs, and focus on the future. I grapple with whether I should go up and snuggle up with her while I still can, which is a temporary event in our lives, I realize. Marveling at her while she sleeps is something I cherish and an activity that only the most sentimental and sappiest of daddies must do. Which is what I’ve become. And it makes me happy, and Cecelia happy, which makes me happier.

And as I lie there looking at what seems a looking glass into the way past sometimes as she resembles me so much as a child, I think about what I want to share with her and for her to experience with me. I long to see the wide-eyed excitement and open-mouthed astonishment of the things I’ve dome and seen that I know she would love. And even apart from travels and adventure and nature and this planet and sky we are a part of, I want to share so much more with her. Her being a literal part of me.

I want to share my love of music. As I’ve aged and been able to get my hands on audiophile-grade equipment, something I’ve found I seriously enjoy is listening to music. And I mean REALLY listening to music. Like this guy does. He’s the type of rabbit hole that I love stumbling upon on the internet.

thanyaverhmuch

I can play guitar, so I want to teach her that skill, and art and pastime. She’s interested. I own guitars. She’s interested in my banjo as well, which gives me great hope. I know guitar pretty well, and I want her to know it better than I do, which shouldn’t take her long. She’s also interested in art and sports and, lo and behold, I took years and years of art lessons and have played nearly every sport under the Sun, and have had private lessons for those as well. Golf and tennis for sure. Luckily for her, she inherited my physical necessities for such pursuits. That well is empty on the matriarchal side of her family. You’ll only find cigarette butts and McDonald’s wrappers if you go tapping.

music!

Probably the biggest lament I have is that she’s here in Louisville, and not in South Carolina where I’m from. That’s because I grew up in the outdoors, which SC offers in spades. It’s an awesome state with the best people.  It’s small, so it’s sort of hidden from a lot of people’s radar. They always call it North Carolina. It annoyed me growing up because I wanted my state to get the respect it’s due.  Now I’m OK with people overlooking it because it is a gem that hasn’t (yet) been soiled by Californians, New Yorkers, Texans, Floridians, Hoosiers, and the rest of the world that would upturn the place.

I want to teach Cecelia how to surf. And catch seafood. And drive a boat. And know how to shuck an oyster and throw a cast net. But she’s here in Louisville, where the big deal is……..Bourbon? Basketball? Horse racing? No, no, and no.

The spirits that are manufactured in this state are its problem. Alcohol causes problems everywhere it goes. It’s mind-boggling that alcohol is legal and so cherished when it causes so many problems. From simple relationship issues to countrywide mega financial wars. The families that get money from long-held and highly marketed spirits, which I consider poison, are not going down without a fight. The family that owns Pappy Van Winkle sends their best to the same boarding school I went to. But addiction doesn’t discriminate.

One thing I wish I COULDN’T share with my daughter is the unfortunate disposition that runs through my and my daughter’s mothers’ family, which is addiction. Both sides for her. Many people and families grapple with the addiction monster. They typically bury it and hide it and although everyone knows, it’s “hush-hush.” I take a totally different approach. And it works.

I can already see some of the thrill-seeking, environment-changing, risky behavior in my daughter that belies addiction. I’m watching her closely. She loves discordant sensations and is interested in drama, and I’m checking off all the boxes. I’m going to approach that topic with her unlike my family did, and most people do.

So, jump cut back to what I plan to share with Cecelia. The Caribbean, New Zealand, Italy. I’ve been to some seriously amazing places in all three and I would love to return with spawn. I want to show her the black mountains of New Hampshire in the Fall when the leaves are unbelievable. The air and water there are fresh and invigorating. I can totally see why my grandfather chose to drag me up there every summer. I want to show her where I camped at Camp Belknap, where my name, family name, is on a popsicle stick nailed to the inside of the great lodge. Barry Musgrove.

I want to share the pastoral fields of Virginia where I went to boarding school. In the Spring and Fall, Virginia is magical.

I want to show her the west coast, with its mega-flora up north and the rocks along the beach and the cliffs and lighthouses. And drive down to Big Sur, Monterrey, Pebble Beach, and drive over canyons and through tunnels with the Pacific ocean dutifully crashing before us in perpetuity. With the sea lions barking at every pier and rock. She’d love it.

In addition to our travels and athletics and arts, I also plan to teach her how to cook. Which she’s game for. Every now and then I’ll get a glimpse of her and she’ll look like my grandmother Virginia Musgrove. (Maybe that’s another reason I love Virginia. They say Virginia is for lovers.) This was the grandmother everyone loved, for good reason. She hunted, fished, ate what she killed, and could cook like James Beard. I’ve been cooking with a serious scientific soup spoon since my twenties. And I’ve figured it out. I could make a dead rat taste delicious. And I want to teach Cecelia how to properly debone a dead rat and prepare it to feed four.

And that’s just the beginning. It fills me with a heavy sense of urgency. As earlier stated, tomorrow isn’t promised, and I’m no longer a spring chicken.

 

 

 

 

What IS Marketing?

What IS Marketing?

WHAT IS MARKETING?

What is Marketing? Many people think they know the answer, but I see evidence that a lot of people don’t. I see it in the classroom even after I tell students, at the very least, they need to learn what marketing is and isn’t, and they still get it wrong on the final exam.

I see it misunderstood by CEOs and presidents, founders and executives, even marketing executives. And I see it wrong in job postings and titles in businesses all the time, which is why I’m writing about it here.

Please don’t think I’m trying to shame anyone or find fault. My effort here is to explain what marketing really is, and what it isn’t and how it became so mixed up and misunderstood, which causes many problems in business and lives, even. Lots.

I’ll explain first what marketing isn’t. It’s not advertising. It’s not sales. It’s not SEO, social media “marketing,” or a long list of positions that employers want to slice off marketing and hire for at a discounted wage.

Marketing is about identifying a solution and bringing a solution to market that solves problems and is presented to the person or team that needs a remedy at the right moment, at the right place, and the right price. Read that again because that is what marketing is.

How to do that involves market research, focus groups, surveys, advanced data analysis, regression analysis, multivariate analysis, trial and error with positioning, price, and timing. It’s an art and a science. It’s not easy, and it’s expensive to do right. This is why most businesses hijack that term and use it to represent activities that it isn’t. For hiring purposes, sales purposes, sometimes due to ignorance, define an activity that is something else.

Marketing itself is sophisticated and precise, and an activity that requires a quantitative and qualitative approach and tools. Scatterplots, algorithm development, advanced surveying knowledge and interpretation, and a litany of skills and knowledge aren’t usually taught on the job or picked up just by starting a job. That probably hurts a lot of egos of CEOs and business owners that didn’t go to business school, but it’s true. In fact, you wouldn’t even know these things to be true unless you were familiar with what’s taught in B-Schools or worked for a Fortune 500 company in higher marketing functions.

I recognized this phenomenon when I began looking for jobs in the marketing area in Louisville, KY. Businesses were hiring for marketing, alright, but what they really were looking for were people who know to advertise. Managing ad budgets, knowing how to search for advertising-friendly terms in Google, and how to do social media advertising. Most of the “Marketing” firms here aren’t marketing firms at all. They’re advertising agencies, offering SEO, social media, and web design strategies that are in line with advertising and not marketing.

Don’t think so? If you have taken or taught MArketing courses in a University setting as I have, there isn’t one single thing teaching anything about SEO, social media management, search engine marketing, inbound marketing or any of the other activities that many marketing firms revolve around. Those things aren’t taught in a University. They’re either taught on the job or usually on someone’s own time by taking lots of online courses and studies. There are some great resources available, not surprisingly. There’s a lot of money in it. Just look at Hubspot, Salesforce, Adobe, Moz, or any number of online “marketing experts” like Neil Patel, Ann Smarty, Ann Handey, Mari Smith, Rand Fishkin and a hundred other very well-paid “digital marketing experts.” What they are are experts at digital advertising using digital formats and channels. But they don’t teach much at all about marketing.

I asked via Twitter, an acquaintance who’s a local marketing firm’s CEO, if he looks at where job candidates went to college. And he said he doesn’t. If he were an IT, accounting, or law firm, he would, which proves my point.

They aren’t hiring for sophistication or high knowledge of marketing. They want someone who has done advertising or worked at an ad agency, a small part of marketing but not marketing itself by a mile. Otherwise, it would matter how intensely and rigorously and to what degree they’ve learned marketing. There’s a big difference between a Harvard MBA and a “marketing” or web design degree from the University Down the Street/Online, and it also denotes a lot about the person holding the degree. Their level of astuteness, intelligence, drive, goal-setting and achievement, self-worth and experience, and professional and personal network. The roles most firms hire for are splinters off the marketing tree and necessary activities of a lot of marketing plans. It creates and sustains revenue, generates data for marketers to analyze, and opens new opportunities for future marketing efforts. So it is very important. But nearly no marketing professor knows anything about SEO, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn advertising, the tools there used like SEM Rush, Google Analytics and Moz. If you asked them their eyes would glaze over. The students they teach know about them. But the professors use Qualtrics and survey design software for actual marketing, scatterplots, regression analysis  and multivariate analysis.

I pondered if colleges would be missing an opportunity not teaching “digital marketing” and realized it’s too dynamic and fast-paced for most Universities to keep up with, budget for, and do properly.  Most classes in college these days are nothing more than material handed out by the professor that the textbook publisher created for them to use with their books and past teachers developed(usually adjuncts), test bank multiple choice automatically-graded tests, You-tube videos to watch in lieu of actual Socratic instruction and entire class times to be used at students’ discretions for “group work.” If you want to earn six figures, never work and get you rear kissed all the time for nothing, become a marketing professor at a State satellite school.

I myself have an English degree from a large State School and an MBA from a large state school. Both have high accreditations and rankings for their individual programs. They aren’t Ivy League, but I have close friends that went to Ivy Leagues for both undergraduate, master’s, and teaching levels in my network. I interact and commiserate with them all the time. My programs are ranked and were rigorous. I went to school to notch myself up a few levels in business sophistication and my network, and I did, successfully. College is mostly what you make of it and what you put into it. I’ve spent the better part of my long life on a college campus somewhere in some capacity.

So what’s the point or big deal? This explains why when I am called upon to help business owners find marketing opportunities to increase their revenue(or decrease costs), and I ask for their marketing plan, they have none. No marketing budget sometimes. And no real understanding of what marketing really is, which makes it hard to properly integrate with their sales, accounting, and executive teams. They should be integrated with one another. And when they look for marketing help, they go looking for someone who knows SEO, social media marketing, and many modern advertising tactics that aren’t marketing. It’s advertising. They’ve plateaued, which I did in business and is why I got my MBA. They need help organizing things to manage correctly, which I help people do, and I love to do.

Marketing is high level, not low level. So when I see job openings that are “entry-level” and pay accordingly, it’s a sign that the listing is in the wrong category. And the business is confused about what it needs.  And when I sit down with a CEO to discuss their marketing needs and ask about their marketing plan, the conversation may take a downward turn because there is no plan and the CEO or president has a large ego to protect. Which I get- if you’re the manager or leader, you have to appear that you know what you’re doing. This also means you also know when to build and protect your weak areas and be accountable. It’s not about ego in business. It’s about the business and the people that rely on paychecks and your support. I’ve been there. Some people can’t separate the two. It’s common in businesses such as a software development firm that sprang up in a dorm room and a ton of other businesses that were created on the back of a bar napkin. It’s eve common with professional firms like architectural and engineering. Creating a marketing plan (and sometimes even a written business plan) is out the scope of many business people’s talents, believe it or not. Or so they believe for some reason to the extent they don’t bother. Scarily, I’ve interviewed with marketing firms that had no marketing plan or budget.

Hopefully, that clarifies the differences. I can and do SEO. I know social media marketing. I even know a few things about sales. But I also know a lot about marketing itself, which is much bigger than any of those. It’s those combined, and more.

Here are my personal thoughts on the matter for what they’re worth:

Hiring a marketing person isn’t an expense. It’s an investment that should easily pay for itself. I can help executives focus on what’s important, see unintended consequences down the road to avoid, and net out what’s critical to success. I can point out what’s an outlier and what’s dragging the ship down. I know what’s on the horizon to optimize throughput and make businesses more profitable and competitive. I can streamline operations and make a business run like a Ferrari. That’s because I know what true marketing is and how to do it. I also know how to do the menial tasks it involves: web design, SEO, keyword strategies, competitive analysis, and more

I want to tell employers to call on me if you want to go farther faster and rise above. Or keep hiring SEO and social media people that learned online and see what makes the difference. Because doing the same thing the other guy is doing isn’t going to make you excel or competitive. It will keep you in line with the other guys and that’s all.  Average.

 

Persuasive Writing

Persuasive Writing

How to Write Persuasively

Outside activities:

Develop your vocabulary

Ways to cultivate your vocabulary. These days, there are lots of tools to do this. There’s a screen saver that introduces you to new words. There are apps that help you expand your word set. Reading of course helps, and when you come across a word that you don’t know, look it up write it down or ask Siri or Google what it means. Read thoughtful pieces by people that have large vocabularies. [William Buckley] was a great role model for this, God rest his perspicacious soul.

It may also help to learn how words are formed. I took Latin, so I know the basis for a lot of our language, which helps. But if you remember your English lessons or studying for the SAT you might recall that words are made up of parts, which can be transfixed to one another.

Another way might be to read poetry. Poetry may not be for everyone, but give it a chance, and once you realize its function and how to read it as intended, it can be pleasurable. A lot of people become frustrated by poetry, which is understandable. If you don’t approach it with an open mind and with the right toolset, you won’t get anywhere. Keep a dictionary handy, or a way to look up the various meanings of words. Many words have different meanings, and used jointly, is what builds context and weaves a tapestry of art that becomes poetry. You can see what the author is trying to express, and use your mind to extrapolate and try each meaning of every word to see what works best. It takes time and patience, as does everything that’s worthwhile in life.

Read, study and emulate persuasive people
Who do you think inspires people? Tony Robbins? Yes. Matt Foley? No. Pay attention to the words they use and how they use them to move people in directions. You may think they’re corny, but they are successful, and powerful speakers, and have the credibility and bank accounts to prove it. If you hate or love Donald Trump, he wrote the Art of the Deal, which was a best seller. He knows how to persuade people. Obviously enough to become our President. And he uses his skills of persuasion to deal with other world leaders. You may abhor him, but he didn’t get to where he is by not being able to influence people.

Who persuades you? Why? Try to figure out what the impetus is they use that gets you going. Grab onto it and harness it and put it in your toolbox.

Engage in debate

Debate is different than arguing. And it’s vastly different than getting into a war with a troll on Twitter. Debate uses logic and engages different perspectives.

Learn human behavior/psychology
Know thy enemy. Learn what makes people tick and how to recognize signals that they’re giving, whether calculated or cluelessly. The clueless signals are the ones that you want o pounce on. Or at least hold onto for the perfect moment to address. There’s nothing like going back and forth in a debate, and then pulling a rabbit out of your hat that you’ve been saving.

There are some good resources online that delve into human behavior, which is dynamic and variable, to say the least. It’s one of the hardest things to prepare for because you just never know what some other person is capable of.

But if you can figure out the other person’s true motive, it’s an asset for you. They may not state what they really want, and being able to read between the lines can really help when you’re trying to persuade someone.

Educate yourself
This may seem obvious, especially if you’re reading this because you’re clearly trying to educate yourself. But there are, of course, good ways and bad ways to go about it. Some may lead to a lot of wasted time, while others may pay dividends.

When I began learning design I tried to learn Adobe Premiere Pro, which is a video editing application that is super-powerful. Of course, it could do what I needed and wanted but it is very complex and to learn it back when I wanted was a huge endeavor. Lynda courses and YouTube and searching for professionals that had tips was all I did, and I wasted a huge amount of time on that. Learn to recognize when you’re escalating a commitment for no good reason and then stop it. Sometimes it’s hard to do. Taking a step back helps sometimes, or bouncing what you’re doing off a friend to see what they think may help. But don’t waste your resources going down the wrong hole. It’s sometimes easy to do.

There are a lot of good writing resources online, such as [this article on how to be confident in your writing]. I have a repository of [writing resources] that I find useful to refer to from time to time on my website.

Here’s a video that discusses how to change someone’s mind:

He correctly advises not to apply more pressure to make someone change their mind. It doesn’t work that way. You have to understand.

Rhetoric
[Learning rhetoric] isn’t just for politicians and philosophers. It’s a powerful thing, done correctly. Some people, like lawyers and politicians, use it for evil a lot. But it also can be used for good, or at least to get what you want. One of my favorites is “Let me answer that question by asking you this:”
Learn logic

While you’re at it, it might pay off to learn a bit about actual logic and how it’s formed. In order to earn my BA in English, I had to take both inductive and deductive logic. I also took a course in philosophy so I know how to state a theorem and then defend it. I studied Socrates and Plato and formed a foundation for rhetoric from there. Which, incidentally, is all a Ph.D. provides and nothing more, and doesn’t even provide any depth of philosophy as a subject, remarkably. Except for the pompous air and distorted sense of self-worth that comes with the ridiculous title of “Doctor.” I find it to be a grandiose undertaking that is nothing more than jumping through a bunch of silly hoops to join a club of insecure, narrow-minded kids who never wanted to leave the comforts of school.

Brass Tacks
Learn to write well
grammar, style, tone, audience, length
[Strunk & White]
[AP Stylebook]
[Shakespeare]
What works, what doesn’t
Timing, reasoning, logic
[Plato]
[Socrates]
[Aristotle]

Useful tools
Grammarly
[Grammarly] is a great tool and should be used sparingly, not as a crutch. It keeps getting better and better with AI, and really is a wonderful tool. But use it at your own risk, of course. Just don’t rely on it for everything is all I’m saying. It should be your backup.

Thesaurus
I use a Thesaurus all the time to find different words than the one I want to use for whatever reason. They’re good for expanding your vocabulary, and even finding good domain names and search terms for SEO, I’ve found. A [thesaurus] is indispensable.

Google
Of course Google. [Google search] is very powerful if you know the tricks. Most people don’t utilize Google as much as they can.
Word Rake
Hemingway
ProWriting Aid Addendum

As I promised earlier, here is a list of words that can change the flow of communication in some way. That’s their power. It’ not that they end a debate. It’s that they cause a shift in which way things go, if used properly.
[Power Words]:
Because: Presenting a reason why people should do something can trigger an automatic response. Even if the reason is spurious.
– Insidious
– New
– Free
– Imagine
– Instant
– You
– Now

**8 Emotional Power Words:**
– Joy
– Trust
– Fear
– Surprise
– Sadness
– Disgust
– Anger
– Anticipation
– Sparkle
– Shimmer, Shimmering
– Gigantic
– Slimy
– Crisp

Also, here are some weak works that should be handled by a Thesaurus if you don’t know the best term:
– Very
– Really
– Good
– Important
– Big
– Small
– Every
– Went
– Got
– Things
– Stuff

Evil and Delusional

Evil and Delusional

An interesting thing happened in my family recently. A tragedy, by any measure, to be sure.

lady justice

Two women in my rather small family recently wrote another member off entirely, after calling their perspective on life “evil and delusional.” Pretty harsh. Both women are in their mid-seventies and have been married several times each. I don’t know if that has anything to do with their mindset, but those are some commonalities. One is very leftist politically, and the other very conservative. (I can’t use the label “liberal” anymore because it’s been redefined to the point of being nearly undefined.) They don’t share much in common other than age and my late mother as the fulcrum that brought them together. They are from the same hometown, Albany, Georgia, but couldn’t have been any different growing up. And are still opposites except for their sanctimony. One was a mousy introvert growing up, and the other a spontaneous activist-type that believes the world should know what’s on her mind at every moment. I love them both.

The interesting part of this arrangement they’ve decided on is where they each come from and what they did to reach their judgment and pass down their similar sentence to the person who happened to, unfortunately, land in their stern, but obviously fair, sights.

One is a person who presents herself as a devout Christian. As devoted as imaginable, with a prayer room in her house replete with an entire library, and love for proselytizing and posting scripture all over Facebook and sending it out unsuspectingly via text with no explanation offered. She lives in the heart of the bible belt in Alabama.

The other woman is her sister-in-law and lives in the Gomorrah of the US: Denver, Colorado. She and I have spoken of her interest in spirituality, many years ago, and she’s given up Christianity, dabbled in Buddhism and read about a few others it sounded like, and as far as I know, has ended up agnostic. There’s no evidence to the contrary.

Which begs the question: what does an agnostic base evil upon? There must be a set of commandments, decrees, rules, or life boundaries to determine what is right and what is evil. With no moral rudder to speak of, what is “evil” based upon? That’s one point of pontification. You can’t have “good” without “bad.”

The other is that the other lady held court in absentia. Meaning, brought that person in question into her court, held court without that person able to defend themself, without charges ever being mentioned, and held them guilty, and passed down judgment and punishment all without informing the “defendant” what she was doing or why. It still hasn’t ever been told what brought on her decision. Both of them did this.

But what is interesting is that for years she has sent out scripture about how wrong it is to judge others. The Bible says it, Jesus says it, and it’s a core belief among Christians, which you’d better believe she counts herself among.

These women got together and talked about the person behind their back and concluded together that their “perspective on life is evil and distorted.” And never speak to them again or have anything to do with them again. No reason was given, just the harshest of sentences handed down, final and just, and for all eternity, with no appeal. And they’ve gone on their merry ways to judge another. My aunt in Alabama felt the decree was relevant enough to inform the person via a brief text, and the other sent out no notice whatsoever.

Evil and distorted, indeed. Do their actions constitute benevolence and straight-shooting? In their high esteem, yes, it does.

An Open Book

An Open Book

An open book is how I live my life. I tell people that, and they probably don’t give it a second thought. I wouldn’t expect them to. But it was a pivotal decision I made and one I haven’t regretted yet.

What it means to live your life as an “open book” is that you offer yourself to total scrutiny. Plunder, plod, and pick through anything I have to offer. If I step out of line, I welcome people to tell me so, so that I can address it and try to correct whatever the problem is.

Living life as an open book keeps me accountable and helps ensure I’m setting a proper example for my daughter. Between that and the liberation that living this type of life provides, I find it to be a lifestyle that pays many dividends.

I don’t lie. That’s a statement many people make, but I back it up. If someone thinks I’m lying about anything, they have the freedom and opportunity to tell me so, and we can discuss why there’s a miscommunication. Because I simply don’t and won’t lie. That can create some sticky situations, of course.

I don’t play into the Santa Claus charade each Christmas. It was a hard decision to make and try and navigate, but so far, so good. My daughter’s mother and her family play it up to the fullest. That’s their decision, but I’ve found it doesn’t make my stance any more difficult.

People don’t like hearing the truth all the time. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I try to be as tactful and considerate as I can, of course, but ultimately, it’s their medicine to either take or spit out. I don’t lie to people, and I also don’t lie for people. I’ve encountered situations where someone lied to me, insisted they didn’t, and, contradicting hard evidence that it was them that fibbed, they expect me to allow it to pass by and just absorb it. In other words, lie to me. And others, if questioned about the incident. And basically for me to say I was the one who lied. But I won’t fall for it. It might seem obvious how just a little “white” lie can spiral out of control.

Living life as an open book removes the baggage that some people carry with them their whole lives. They have to remember what they said to certain people, and they have to cover things up continuously. I don’t have to do that. You can be sure that what I told you is factual as best as I know. And if it’s not, then we can make it so because that’s the point.

I’m not perfect by a million miles. No one is. Some people can’t accept that fact. They believe they’re beyond reproach. But I’m humble, and admit I screw up sometimes. Sometimes big-time. I’m only human. But when you own the mistake, people are usually more forgiving and willing to help clean up the mess. It’s when you refuse to accept the responsibility that things get ugly. I invite people to call me out. Not many people will tell others that.

There are all types of unpleasant things people don’t want others to know. And that’s fine. I certainly wouldn’t tell someone else how to live their life any more than I would want someone to tell me how to live mine. Some surely couldn’t live the way I live, and that might be for the best. But I don’t have any horrible secrets. The big things that have happened in my life that others might be inclined to hide away are opportunities for me to help others that may have experienced the same thing and at least talk about it and get new ideas and perspectives.

Lying is just one activity that I avoid. Of course, there are lots of others that I steer clear of, just like most everyone else. It requires me to make the best decision with the information available that I can, without worrying about ancillary ethical aspects.

Setting a good example is a top priority for me when it comes to my daughter. Parents can tell their children to do something and not do something, or think specific ways, and it’s going to go in one ear and out the other. What sticks is seeing what you(I) mean consistently. I don’t ever ask any more of other people than I would ask of myself, so “Do as I say, not as I do” is awful parenting, and management of any sort, strategy. You’ll never gain any respect from others being a hypocrite. If you talk the talk, you must walk the walk. No matter how hard that walk might turn out being.

But this isn’t a parenting lecture. As I’m sure, some people would render it. It’s meant to be a statement of how abundant life can be when you shed the weight that many people carry around with themselves every day. It’s consistently liberating, and it frees up time that otherwise would be spent bickering about “he said/she said” type situations. Communication is more transparent, which is an enormous advantage. Solutions should be found more quickly. That depends on the other party, which is the significant variable.