Category Archives: Social Media

Consuming vs. Creating (part 1)

In the digital culture of today, we have the ability to co information as if we’re drinking from a fire hose.  I know because I live it.  If I’m not very careful with my time and boundaries, I could sit in front of this computer for hours at a time.  The problem is that it would all be good stuff, really good information.  My Twitter list called “Thinkers” could keep you chasing links for at least three hours per day.  My Facebook friends are constantly busy and  seeing their pictures and updates with family and friends could fill another afternoon.  Then there’s my RSS feed.  Leadership, business, fitness, Chritianity, commentary.  It’s all there.  And like I said, it’s all good.

Consuming information these days is very easy.  We subsribe to things and we don’t even have to chase them anymore – they come to us because we’ve asked for them.  This is very good.  But this can be very overwelming and a complete distraction if it’s not managed properly.

I subscribe to these sources of information because I know they are what sharpen my thinking and challenge my decision making as I navigate work, family, leadership, and growing as a man.  Have I mentioned these are all good?  But when I consider managing this overflow of information, I think of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, specifically Big Rocks.  The idea here is this: if you’re going to appropriately fill your schedule (or in this case pick and choose which information to read and which to ignore) you must fill your schedule with the big rocks first, and then fill in the little rocks where there’s room.  I simply can’t read every Tweet, look at every friend’s Facebook status, and read all the RSS blog posts.  It’s obviously impossible.  So I must be disciplined enough to find the important items and focus on those.  The ‘good’ items have to come second to the ‘great’ ones.

It’s easy to consume information.  And it’s good to consume information.  Great and successful people are life long learners and spend their time appropriately.  But consuming information is only the first step.  What then do we do with all the information?

Thursday I’ll be talking about what we do with all this information we consume.  How does our creativity flow out of what we’ve learned.

Some Reading Material

One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to find time to read all the good stuff I come across on a daily basis.  First, of course, are the books I have going.  As I mentioned back in December, my reading list is long.  Currently I’m getting back into Principle of the Path so I can get a family book club blog back up and running again.  I’ve also started to read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer.  But as I mentioned earlier in the week, the GRE has been my main text for the last few weeks.

So there’s the books, but then there’s the internet.  Critics will have a field day with this, but Twitter has put a huge burden on my reading list.  I follow some pretty smart and compelling people on Twitter – you should too.  And I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time b/c it’s as much or as little as you make it.  Sure, I’m kind of complaining about Twitter adding to my reading list.  But I’d rather take time to sort through the stuff than not be connected like I am.  Anyway, Twitter feeds me with articles about blogging, fitness, news, and leadership which I all find completely fascinating.

What about you?  What are you reading?  Do you have a regular source for keeping up with the world or your personal interests?  Of course I’d recommend finding some interesting people on Twitter.  Tell me your interests and I’ll try to point you towards some smart people.

Blogs are also great for finding good stories.  Recently I came across two great posts I want to share with you.  The first is from Spence Smith who works for Compassion International and has a great blog.  This article is called Leaders Who Blog Engage Their Audience is a great argument for why leaders should blog and the influence they can experience.  Look around Spence’s website for other articles –  I read him every week.

If blogging and leadership aren’t your thing I’ve got a compelling story for you.  Katie found this blog from a friend of hers and I’ll give you three guarantees: (1) you will see beautiful photography and excellent writing, (2) it’s a long read (3) you will thank me for pointing you to this when you’re done.  If it doesn’t affect you, check your pulse.  Enjoy the story of Nella.

Most of my readers know I’m really into social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook.  The whole point of social media is to be social.  So I’m sharing what I’m reading.

Do you have anything to share with me?

Productivity

I feel extremely compelled to write this morning.  Productivity has been heavy on my mind this week, and it was reinforced this morning during my run.  I’m only giving myself 10 minutes for this, though.

My blog is currently in the middle of a series entitled “Creating a Fitness Routine.” If you haven’t read about our process check out the three posts here:

I have to admit that staying productive can be tough for me.  Most days at work we’re very busy with the tree work, training, and keeping things up and running efficiently.  But when I sit at the office in front of a computer there are so many things reaching out for my attention:  Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, email (personal, business), and that doesn’t even include news sites so I can know what’s going on in the world. 

How is a man supposed to concentrate when everything is so readily available?

This isn’t new information, but maybe just a reminder.  Or maybe it’s just me processing this on my blog.  What it comes down to is prioritizing.  For me the question is not “What do I do first?”  The better question is “What do I not do?” 

  • I don’t need to have email open all day.  I can check it 3-4 times rather than always having it in real-time.
  • I don’t need to have Twitter open all day.  Checking for 5 minutes twice per day is plenty.
  • My Google Reader will keep those items stored and unread, also for the end of the day or even better the weekend.  

I know this post may not make sense to my readers, so sorry for the little rant here.  If I were giving this more than 10 minutes I’d explain more of what I’m doing (specifically) to stay productive. 

For now, I’ll just tell you that saying no to email and Twitter is a good thing (albeit very difficult).  My Moleskine notebook is my best friend.  And I’ll live today with my favorite line from one of my favorite books, Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart:

“Organize and lead.  I say it again, organize and lead.”

Any successful leader must first be able to lead himself.

Training Log: I Use DailyMile.com

After three seasons of running, it looks like this summer will be an off-season for me.  I’ve really enjoyed the different challenges of each race.  But Katie and I are expecting our second child this April and that means our household will be busier than ever.  Time for training will be hard to come by, so I’m planning on a much lighter exercise routine.

But as a personal trainer I have come to find great joy in helping others experience success and a healthier lifestyle.  I’ve promoted this lifestyle and these runs (half and full marathons) and a few members of our extended family have taken the challenge and joined me in these different races.  This season I’m focusing on two of these people, Jess and her dad Kevin.  Jess is the finance of Katie’s brother Grant.  Kevin is her dad.

I’ve found a great website that will be helping us stay in contact with our workouts.  It’s called DailyMile and it’s free!  If you use Facebook you’ll see the similarities.  Once you create a profile (which you can link to Facebook) you find other friends who join your News Feed.  When your friends post a workout or make a comment (“note”) it shows up in your News Feed under “You and Friends.” 

I am really impressed with the way technology is allowing us to create community in the exercise and fitness industry.  Sure, it can get overwhelming.  But with a little discipline and initiative it’s possible to start a couple accounts on social networks and create some community as you get fit.

What I Learned From the Haiti Challenge

This Haiti Challenge has been a mini-series on The Game Plan.  I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s made me think of the project from many different angles.

It helped people: 10 days ago this money hadn’t been given.  The need arose, people responded, and money was donated.  People benefited from our work.

Teamwork wins:  I’m very proud of the fact that my efforts in combination with the efforts of my team produced more dollars than would have been donated with just one person. Some would have donated anyway, some donated after reading the Challenge.  We formed a team.

Not everyone will join:  My biggest frustration and learning moment is that not everyone will join the cause, as good and as necessary as it may be.  I admitted in my first post of this series that,

It’s too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I’ve done it so many times in the past.

I knew only a small percentage of my friends on Facebook and the blog would respond.  My blog has a small readership, and I know I have exactly 416 friends of Facebook.  But I honestly thought I could get at least 20-30 people to donate $5 or $10.  This honestly baffles me.  Maybe it shouldn’t b/c I’ve passed on other similar opportunities to give.  It’s leaving a sour taste in my mouth, so I’m done digitally processing this thought.

(Alright, tt’s still pissing me off)

People appreciate a good story:  I thoroughly enjoy researching a topic and presenting it to my readers and friends.  This story of course was a global disaster, but I took it and organized a sub-story for people to join.  If I’m frustrated with those who didn’t join, I’m equally joyful with those who did.  They joined my story. 

Social Media will be a platform for really good things:  Not everyone is into Twitter and Facebook.  I hope they will see how quickly good information and stories can spread if we get involved in networks that are so viral.  And texting generated so much money.  Technology can be such a powerful tool.

Every cause needs a champion:  I’m not saying I championed this Haiti cause, but I moved towards it.  For 7 days I was a leader for a really good cause.  This disaster will pass, recovery will happen.  In the big picture this is a small story.  Serious but small.  What are the bigger stories?  What stories need to be told?  What stories need a champion?  How has God gifted you or given you experiences that have drawn you towards a cause or problem that needs to be solved?

I’m not going to go back and delete that point about my frustration with those who didn’t join.  I know many may read it and be turned off by my harsh words, but I can live with that.  My frustration is equally directed at myself b/c in years past I haven’t put my money where my heart was.  Hypocrite?  No.  I’m learning and I’m growing.  I’m willing to challenge people to excellence even if I can’t always produce it myself.  I want to be in the game and leading myself and those I love towards goals that are bigger than ourselves.

Jack wrote his check to World Vision on Friday.  I wrote my checks this morning – $45 each to World Vision, Compassion, and Red Cross.  Thanks for reading about this Haiti Challenge.  Let’s continue to do good things and cheer each other on to greatness.

Final Numbers for the Haiti Challenge

There was no way I was going to process the reports from Haiti and not do anything.  It was impossible.  Over a two day period I watched Twitter and glanced at nytimes and cnn.com.  I saw the tragedy unfolding and knew that as a God-fearing man and father of a little boy that it was my responsibility to take action.  Families were being torn apart and forced into extreme conditions.  It was my obligation to assist in whatever way I could to the relief efforts. 

What I did was not revolutionary.  It wasn’t even my idea.  I was reading my Twitter feed and saw that Bebo Norman (singer from Nashville) was donating $5 for every person that mentioned that a link where you could donate: 

Help Haiti. Donate to Compassion’s Disaster Relief. Roshare & I will give $5 for every person that RT’s this link http://bit.ly/8VNyfF from TweetDeck

Bebo has 5,000+ people “following” him, so you can do the math and see how their bill could add up really quickly.  But the idea inspired me.  I talked to Katie about us donating, and then I decided to create my own Haiti Challenge.

I’m happy to report that my team raised $133 in six days.  The challenge was posted on Facebook and on my blog.  One of my blog readers then decided to match whatever I had to match.  So “Jack” is contributing $133.

Our grand total is $399!  Sorin just found four quarters in our couch, so you can tell people that the Haiti Challenge raised $400. 

I would like to thank each person who joined my team for this effort.  When people work together for a single cause, big things can happen.  $400 isn’t even a drop in the bucket for the problems in Haiti, but that money will certainly provide assistance to someone who needs it a whole lot more than we do.

(Stay tuned: my next post will include additional thoughts about this project and I’ll report when I write the check and where it goes.)

Things I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a great time for family and reflection.  It’s a holiday that everyone can agree on and this is evident in our culture’s universal celebration on this weekend.  Of course as I’m writing this plenty of people have moved beyond Thanksgiving towards Christmas and the Black Friday event that’s gotten completely out of control.  But still, Thanksgiving is a great weekend.

Briefly, let me reflect on what I’m thankful for.  Let me start with the Big Rocks:
  1. Family:  Katie is such an amazing mother.  She works so hard and makes me so proud.  Sorin is healthy and a joy to watch as he plays throughout the day and grows up before our eyes.
  2. My job:  While this isn’t a career for me, Bill at H&H Arborists is an excellent employer.  I’ve learned a lot from him and had an opportunity to grow in my leadership and management.
  3. My parents:  mom and dad are right across the street and have helped with Sorin and other duties around our house.  They are very giving individuals, both of their time and their resources.
  4. My in-laws:  Steve and Sue are very welcoming and involved in our lives as we work into parenthood.  
  5. My relationship with God:  My rock and my Savior.  All comfort and security is found in the Creator.
And then I’m thankful for many things that are along a different line of thinking.  Let me explain:
  1. My gifts and abilities:  I am discovering day after day how God has established qualities in me that show how He will use me in this world.  Sure, I’m frustrated with certain areas of life (I’m not in the career field I want to be in) but he’s given me passions and skills, thoughts and ideas to where I can see where this is leading me in the future.
  2. Social Media:  I have the ability to keep up with so much information right now.  I follow top notch pastors from around the country.  I hear industry tips and best practices from exercise specialists who are further along in their career than me which motivates me and my business plans.  I have relationships with friends on Facebook that weren’t possible years ago because they’ve moved away.  Social media has allowed me to be hyper-connected and it’s a really good thing.
  3. Things that are FREE:  With so much information and good products available, think of what we get for free.  Google has made everything knowable within seconds.  My blog freely allows me to reflect on life and share it with whoever wants to listen (all five of you).  Twitter allow me to listen to and write to thousands of people on a variety of subjects.  And YouTube allows me to watch U2 live from the Rose Bowl, all for free.
  4. My health:  I love running.  I won’t be winning any races any time soon but working out is enjoyable for me.  I’m always up for a challenge and my goals are changing by the season.  
  5. My career goals:  God gave me the passion for exercise and education.  I feel like I’ve been charged with helping people become healthier individuals and this is an admirable calling in life.  God has instilled this in me and continues to bless me with the thoughts and ideas required to have a successful business and affect on my community.
  6. The Office and Community:  Katie and I laugh weekly very hard when we watch these two shows.
  7. Sorin’s Puma sweatsuit from Grant and Jes:  You’ve got to see him in this – he should have one of these outfits at every stage of his growth.
I’m very thankful on many different levels.  We live in a very privileged society and we should never forget that.  

How to Read 47 Blogs Per Day

Technology is progressing such that we no longer have to search out information or news:  it comes to us.  Each day we check email, Facebook, our favorite news sites, and maybe some blogs.  Is that accurate?  How do you spend your time online?  How do you get your information?

Would it surprise you that I read 47 blogs per day?  Would you believe that on average I catch up on my news in less than 20 minutes?  This includes 47 blogs and about 150 Twitter updates per day!

How is it possible?

Well if you look over my shoulder as I sit in my office, you’d see that I’m not reading every post or every update.  That’s probably obvious.  But with the help of Google Reader I can look through the titles of every post and even the first few paragraphs to determine if it’s something I should read in its entirety.  We all do this with the paper or our favorite magazines.  The beautiful part of this is that I’m sorting through blogs that interest me and news sources that I’ve chosen to subscribe to.

Here’s how it works:  Go to Google Reader and set up an account.  (If you already have a Gmail or Blogger account you can use the same login and password).  On the left you will see all your subscription.  Now you need to fill them.  Open a separate tab (tell me you’re using Firefox) and go to a blog you’d like to follow.  For example here’s Sorin’s.  When you visit a website or blog that updates their information on a regular basis, they’re assigned an RSS feed and the icon looks like this.  What you need to do is click this button and then “subscribe to RSS” and it will take you to a page where you can “add to Google Homepage” or “add to Google Reader.”  Choose the Reader. 

You’ve just subscribed to your first blog – and a good one at that!!  Start finding some good blogs to follow, then progress to websites and news feeds.  You’ll be surprised what’s out there.  If you need more help I’d be happy to walk through more details with you. 

Remember:  Make the technology work for you.  You don’t need to visit each website or blog, it will come to you!  Are you interested in the Health Section of the NYTimes.com or the Business Section of FoxNews?  You can have these websites come to your Google Reader rather than visit them every day.  You’ll never go back.

Controlling Facebook Noise

While the number of users and the time spent on Facebook is only increasing, I still hear friends talk about too much noise on Facebook.  

  • “I don’t need to hear what every friend is doing today.”
  • “It’s too much of a distraction.”
  • “I only really want to hear about a handful of friends.”
I coudn’t agree more.  It has been fun to reconnect with old friends.  Certain stories and updates are compelling and I’m pleasantly surprised to have online discussions from people I never thought I’d talk to again.  But as family life gets busier and my hobbies demand more of my quality time, I find myself needing to prioritize how I stay connected on Facebook.
Why Facebook?  I have found that Facebook does everything I want as a communication platform.  I can:
  • update my daily (and hourly) status 
  • import my blog (‘notes’ on Facebook)
  • share news stories
  • see what friends are doing and reading
  • share pictures
This post isn’t about why you should be on Facebook.  It’s about why you should stay on Facebook if you want to have an online presence without all the noise.
The only requirement on your part is the following: being able to honestly determine who’s on your Short List.
Here’s how it works.  Click on HOME which takes you to your news feed.  On the left hand side you’ll see your lists of categories, technically called Lists.  At the bottom click “more.”  Then your whole set of lists is displayed, and now at the bottom you can click CREATE NEW LIST.
A new window will open and first you should give your list a name (Inner Circle, Real Friends, Cool People, Jet Setters).  Then you can click on any of your friends (groups are also listed and available) to add them to this group.  That’s it!  
To make this feature really work, you’ll have to rearrange the list to the top so that Facebook reads it first – one less click when you login.  To do this you’ll have to expand your lists again (click MORE at the bottom).  Now all your lists will have three horizontal lines at the right and you’ll have the ability to drag your new list to the top (you can also arrange any list if you want to prioritize).  
So my newest list (“Inner Circle”) is at the top, and right under that is my NEWS FEED.  Now when I login, my homepage only lists the news of my Inner Circle list.  If I have more time, I can click on NEWS FEED and I get every update from every friend.
Will this help?  Are you able to determine your Short List?  Your Inner Circle? 
I truly wish everyone was on Facebook because I think it’s a very powerful way to keep in touch and share stories.  Don’t ask if you’re on my Short List.  Please feel free to reference this article to friends who are want Facebook to be more efficient.

Social Media Revolution

There are certain things that I really get jazzed about that others could care less about.  Most people hate Favre – I’m still a fan.  Friends and family are still using Hotmail and Yahoo – Gmail is the best.  And U2 is still the best band on the planet.

While I’m aware that my personality leans towards passion and action, I know that not everyone gets as excited as I do about certain things in life.  But some things are worthy of more attention than people give me credit for.  My career choice is to be an exercise professional.  While you may not view it as important as I do, and though you may not talk about it as much as I do, you should still do something about it.  Your health, livelihood, and quality of life depend on it.  And that’s independent from me – it’s just a fact.

In the same way, I don’t see too many of my friends and family getting excited about Social Media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them.  Because if it doesn’t now, it sure will in the future.  Many of my friends have ditched email and now message each other through Facebook.  I’ve been able to keep friends and family informed with my life and being a husband and father through Facebook updates and photo albums that I can share.  You can’t do that with email.  I’ve learned to not only find information from the web but share the relevant stuff publicly with Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.  News and information is so much more personal when it’s shared this way.

As you can see I’m still trying to find my voice on this.  While I may not communicate it as effectively as I’d like, the beauty of computers and the internet is sometimes I don’t have to.  I came across this YouTube video last week from a friend I follow on Twitter.

I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts about Social Media after watching this clip.  It goes fast, so you may want to keep your hand on the pause button.