Manifesto on Forming and Leading Tribes

Great day today as it marks the release of a new manifesto from the idea spreading guru Seth Godin.  It’s all about forming and leading tribes.

Seth’s all about spreading ideas and has written at length about getting remarkable ideas to spread.  The concept of tribes expands on this — it’s about creating a platform so it’s easy for people (your tribe) to spread your ideas.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer working on our local community association website and have been trying to embrace the tribe idea.  But I’ll leave that for another post.  For now, download Seth’s ebook , give it 3 or 4 good reads and tell me what you think in the comments!

3 Game-changing ways to make this the Best Mothers Day Ever!

I’ve been cajoled into doing some fundraising for my son’s Japanese exchange program. So this email went out to some work colleagues at noon today.

I went for the cheesy Make Money Online website look. Close?

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Hi and Happy Monday!

I’m sending this email to a small and select group of colleagues — people who share a passion for good times, friendships, good health and great food. People who I’ve really grown to love and respect over the years. But you are also friends who struggle at this time of year, and I can help.

You “get it” — you’re willing to go the extra mile for that special flavour.

You “get it” — you’ll take the time to grow your own fruits and vegetables, or plant a tree for the shade, or plant some flowers for the simple beauty of the bloom

And fellas, if you’re married, you “get it” too — you know that on Mother’s Day the last thing she wants is to get corralled into the buffet line for an over priced “Thank You Mom” lunch buffet, with the full complement of screaming babies, whining toddlers and the mother-in-law. Noooo…thank you honey!

I know you get it because, in this way, I’m just like you. I love food. Hell, I don’t carry a purple daypack with “lunch” every day for 15 years by being indifferent to the stuff. And I don’t take Cindy to brunch for Mothers Day either (anymore.) I’ve found the secret to getting through the Hallmark Holiday season. I figured it out, and now I want to share my knowledge with you.

I’ve got three ways to make next weekend a Weekend to Remember!

#1: On Saturday May 10, on the eve of Mother’s Day, there is an excellent steak night being held at Bonzzini’s Brew Pub. For a mere $15 per ticket, you can enjoy a steak, potato, salad and a beer. Yes, you heard me right. A BEER! Steak and Beer for $15!! I didn’t think it was possible anymore but the rising Canadian dollar has its advantages.

Fellas — she wants to go. Your wife wants to go to this more than you know. She’s complaining about the brunch thing to her girlfriends. She’s moaning about your darling mother right now. She wants meat, potatoes and a beer. Really she does. She’ll eat your salad, so don’t worry about that part.

Ladies — Guys are dim. He’s not hearing your little hints. He’s not comprehending ‘the look.’ You need to buy the tickets, put them in his pocket and say “I want this for Mother’s Day.” Make it really simple for him and get what you want!

Single Folk — why are you still reading this? It’s Steak and Beer. It’s Saturday. ’nuff said!

But Mark! She’s a vegetarian with a barley allergy!

No problem. I’m here for you. Besides, while the Steak Night will guarantee you a weekend to remember, it’s a quick hit. Maybe your looking for something that lasts longer. A lot longer! I’ve got special access to gift certificates from some of the best greenhouses, florists and garden centres in the Greater Regina Area to get you some slow-release love and affection.

#2 is from WP Gardens on Grant Road (by Tumblers) They’ve got a wide selection of bedding plants and vegetables that will keep your yard and garden colourful and flavourful all summer long. The word on the street is WP has a cult following in SW Regina that is quite protective of their plants. The existing customers don’t want to dilute the plant pool, but too bad! With these gift certificates you’ve got the inside track to healthy eating, but for a short time (they have to be used by the end of June 2008) The gift certificates come in multiples of $20, and you get full face value of the certificate.

#3 is from Unique Garden Centre / Unique Florists. The best selection of herbs, vegetables and bedding plants in the city. The best selection of trees and shrubs. Garden ornaments. Seeds. If you have Black Thumb instead of Green Thumb, you can get cut flowers from Unique Florists instead. And the GC’s last till October. They’ve got all your bases covered. Again, multiples of $20 and you get full face value!

Face it — cash is a lousy way to say “I Love You, Mom!” It’s kinda cheesy, really. Now a gift certificate from a garden centre, maybe with an offer to, oh, drive her to the garden centre and now you’re talking!

But Mark! Is there a catch?

No! No Catch!

Well, maybe. Yes. You see, Mothers Day is fast approaching. The time to act is now! Tickets are limited. The steak won’t keep. The beer will evenutally get warm. It’s time to start planting.

So here’s the catch. You need to commit to purchase by Monday, May 5. It gives me time to get the right number of tickets / certificates and gives you the time to design the perfect moment to give the gift. So call me or email me [heck, or comment on this blog] but take action!

OK, Mark. I’m ready to Take Action. But why are you helping me like this?

It’s easy really. I care. I really do. I want you to give the best darn Mothers Day gift ever. I want you to enjoy lovely flowers all summer long. I want you to eat the best fruits and vegetables. I want to be your friend for a very long time.

But there’s something in it for me too. Proceeds for the steak and garden centre GC’s go to the Regina Fujioka Student Exchange, which is hosting 25 Japanese students (age 11-12) this summer. My son Ben will be going to Japan in 2009 to complete the exchange.

I hope you enjoyed this email. If so, it’s a win.

But I hope you buy some tickets too. You get good food, Ben goes to Japan and I am still able to put food on my table. If so, it’s a win-win-win.

Your friend,

Mark

PS. Well, I hope I’ve done my job. I’ve given you the three ways to make this the Best Mothers Day ever. You can change the game in your relationship with your mother, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. you can take it to a Whole. Other. Level. But are you willing to stop there? I know you all have other friends that are facing the same issues. The same challenges. The same stress over the Hallmark Holidays.

If you are as caring and giving as I know you are, then forward this note with my blessing. Share the joy. Build on the passion. Peace.

My Mouth is Full of Marbles, When I Write

ARGH! I can’t write anymore. I don’t know why. It’s pissing me off.

I think it’s the return to corporate speak since baking school. Too many long, crappy, meaningless sentences which frustrate rather than educate.

When I’m riding or out for a long walk the ideas flow easy. I can frame out four blog posts and three presentations while walking along Wascana Creek. But when I sit down to write it turns out as “bargle, bargle, bargle, blah, blah, blah.”

But there’s hope, I think. Naomi and James are helping me out. Go read their stuff. It’s clear. It’s direct. It’s concise. And for someone with a blockage between brain and fingers, it’s damned inspiring.

What can I cover best?

Jeff Jarvis writes about how newspapers are laying off excellent reporters as they stop coverage of national topics to focus on local news. He offers an excellent alternative which preserves the great work the reporters are creating.

Within the post he links to an earlier post which really struck a cord with me. Jeff asserts that a key principle of blogging is to “Cover what you do best, and link to the rest.

I really like that. It ties in well with the “hyper-local” reporting idea I was kicking around last year — forget talking about what’s happening in Regina and focus in on my neighbourhood, or my street, or my front yard. I set up a first prototype on WordPress but it’s a little stagnant right now.

I can apply Jeff’s ideas in 2008 blogging two ways:

  • linking to other blogs a lot more
  • figuring out what I’m “best at” and covering that

So what am I best at? I’ve got a few ideas, all involving what’s going on in my local community.

What are you best at? Please share!

New Year, New Goals

It’s been one year since my foray into blogging and I have mixed feelings about my results. I’ve spent far more time reading other blogs (I consider myself a ‘whiz’ at Google Reader and am progressing to full ninja status) than actually writing. I’ve also spent far too long worrying about the focus of the blog than getting my thoughts in print.

So this year I resolve to worry less and write more. My goal is two posts per week. Warning in advance that the topics are going to cover a pretty wide range:

  • observations about my family: growth, change, stirring victories and sad losses too.
  • what it’s like to build a business: as we slowly build the Orange Boot Bakery I’m fascinated by the process of starting and growing a business. I want to put everything I’ve learned in business and life into the bakery and share the foibles. I’m going to write about the process here. The Orange Boot Bakery site (now here but soon to be here is for our customers and I don’t want to clog it up with weird ramblings about being a small business owner.
  • the joys and struggles in building community, be it our local community association, the kid’s minor hockey teams or the various groups I’m involved with online
  • What’s new and exciting (to me) in internet technology. My professional career has been about helping people through the learning curve when it comes to new technology. I spent the early part of 2007 thinking I had fallen way behind the times but I’m still ahead of the curve compared to 90% of people so there’s likely lots to learn here.

My only fear is that the variety of subject matter will turn people off. Well it can’t be worse than not posting at all, right? I’ll make judicious use of tags / categories and if I do find a Voice in all of this, I can adjust later. But the goal for now is to write — two per week, come hell or high water.

Mobile Blogging

I just found out about wordpress’ mobile blogging feature. This post is being written from Wascana Park via my Blackberry.

There have been several times when I’m at the pool, etc. with an hour to kill and I can use that time to write now.

When you won’t write, share anyway.

My post rate has been abysmal. I’m still adding to my list of things to blog about without actually blogging, which kind of defeats the purpose. Thanks to my readers (both of you) for sticking with me during the lean time.

In the meantime I’ve been reading a tonne! 6 book plus several thousand blog posts in the last month. I’m using Google Reader to aggregate everything and they have an excellent ‘share’ feature. Check out the “I’m Reading” section in the sidebar for the recent posts I’ve read that are worth sharing.

They’re also worth commenting on, which is something I need to do more of. Starting tonight!

On Procrastination

My airplane listening (hey, it was a long flight!) was a series of podcasts by Merlin Mann at 43folders with David Allen, the personal productivity guru and one of my heros. I stumbled across David’s email newsletter back in 2001, and printed/saved them until his best seller Getting Things Done came out in print. Heck, GTD was my first Amazon book purchase, OK? So getting to hear the maestro for 90 minutes while cramped in a ‘regional carrier’ was a thrill indeed.

OK, ok, ok. Enough Dave love. What did he have to say about procrastination? Lots, actually. I was just getting around to telling you…

We (you? I?) procrastinate for three reasons: it’s not worth doing anymore but I haven’t conciously killed it yet; I don’t know what the next action is (so I need to figure that out to get unstuck); or I don’t feel confident that I can engage [on the item] with control and success. Zowie! That last one hit me like a ton of firebrick!

Wait! There’s more! He quoted another book [War of Art], (he couldn’t remember the author but he remembered the quote) “the thing that is closest to your soul is the thing that you avoid the most.” Not much you can do about this one, says Dave, other than be aware of it, recognize it and give yourself permission to deal with it anyway.

Taken together, this helped me out quite a bit. The toughest thing about building my brick oven was ordering materials from suppliers who knew everything about their products but nothing about ovens. I could write a whole post just about finding fireclay. In those cases it was my lack of confidence in having a successful conversation with the supplier that caused delays. The thought of being treated like a goof caused huge anxiety. In hindsight, there was more I could’ve done to ensure ‘control and success’ when interacting with suppliers.

Lately however, I’ve been avoiding doing more to get the bakery going. Things like taking two weeks to spend an hour re-assembling the mixer, never chopping wood, etc. In these cases the actual task is easy. So why the delay? I think it’s the last bit — ‘the closest to my soul.’ I’ve still got a ‘fear of something’ with regard to the bakery which I haven’t identified yet. So quit trying to identify it; just recognize that I’ll be nervous about it, and get going anyway.

(Meanwhile, back at home, Cindy just rolled her eyes. Karma. She gets this in her genes. I’m good at other stuff.)