Posts tagged ‘social media’

Product vs. Presence

This is just a quick plug to mention that I contributed an article to the May 2010 issue of Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Magazine“.  My piece is entitled: “You’re not a Product: But You are Your Presence”.

Here is the issue summary:

Volume 3, Issue 4 is focused on celebrity spokespeople, and includes interviews with famous individuals, such as Kathy Ireland, a former model turned entrepreneur, and Vanna White, from the TV hit “Wheel of Fortune.” Celebrities are able to maximize their brand, leverage it, and even endorse products and other companies. In this issue, you will learn how to become the ultimate spokesperson for your own personal brand, and achieve success. You’ll read tips and tricks on how to turn your voice into money!

Dan is offering a free sample (containing 9 of the articles) on his blog.  Apologies though, I’m posting about this late, so I’m not sure that if you end up subscribing you can receive the full version of this particular issue anymore.

However, I will post my article next month on this blog for my lovely and patient readers.


May 19, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Online Voice – Part 4 – What can you do to find your voice?

Note: This is the 4th part in the series I’m writing on “Finding Your Online Voice” (in part to prepare for my Northern Voice talk) .  To find the other posts, click here.

As Isabella Mori pointed out nicely in her comment, it’s the “how” of “being yourself” that’s troublesome.

Truly, “Be Yourself!” is a tall and painfully vague order. I remember this advice from when I was young(er, er) and just starting to date.  And before job interviews.  And auditions.  And. And. And.

And therein lies the problem.   Sometimes who you are, really, is not readily apparent to you.  Sure, you have a vague idea, but do you really know?  (For instance, recently, at a friend’s wedding, the groom made a toast and described me as having a very big heart.  Sure, he was drinking at the time, but descriptions like that floor me.)

We all have an image of ourselves.  Further, there are things we want to project and aspects we are uncomfortable showing.  And some traits which we come to value more over time.  For instance, my sense of humor has only recently been any public use to me at all.  Being funny isn’t something we tend to encourage in women.  One of my friend’s remarked (quite profoundly, I think) that if you saw two people on a date, and it was the man who was laughing at what the woman said, it would strike you as odd.  Women aren’t the ones expected to be funny.  (To that effect, there’s a recent article that talks about this in the latest Scientific Mind.)  I am also aware that being caustic has implications in how people perceive me.  I occasionally have to make an effort not to censor myself too much to avoid those judgments.

We are frequently encouraged to stifle our personalities and silence our voices.  It’s certainly been the case with some aspects of my personality and my experiences.  In fact, I think for many of us, who we are, is to some extent not who we were supposed to be.

So we want to write smarter, have people believe we are [insert characteristic here (upbeat, professional, charming, together etc.)]  I tried a few times to be be poised, because I think women who are, are lovely.  I can’t hack it though, and it becomes really painful…

Now, how do we get to who we really are… Of course, write, write, write (Oh, noes…).  Also, ask your friends what they think of you.  No, really.  Just tell them to tell you the stuff they like.

With regards to suggestions, let’s begin from there:

  1. Ask your friends how they would describe you. Try this: Your best friend meets a new co-worker that she thinks would gel perfectly with you.  She says, “Oh! You have to meet my friend!” He says, “Really?! Why?”  She responds, “well, she’s just like you, she’s _____. “ What would your friend say here?  Use any many adjectives as you can.  This will give you some idea of your positive (or, at least, enjoyable ) traits.
  2. Read other blogs. You’ll learn what you like, what inspires you and, as Dave Taylor notes in this brilliant tip: “One of the best ways to learn your blogging voice is to read a lot of other bloggers and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with their writing style, whether they seem to be a friend chatting with you or some self-important twit pontificating, and which you find most appealing. Then be inspired by that and try to create a writing persona that matches what you believe are the best practices.”
  3. Did you particularly enjoy writing a specific post? Or feel proud of it? Look at why: is it more “like you”?  Did you enjoy the way you approached it?  Sometimes it’s that one post in which you find your voice.
  4. If you are interesting in writing  content that is more intimate, more revealing, take a look at Isabella’s book recommendations and this blog post on “Blogging Yourself Home“.  (With respect to journaling privately, I also enjoyed her post on “using your negative voice“.)
  5. Even if you don’t consider yourself “a writer”, you can find the authentic “you”.  To make the process less daunting, take Matt Crowe’s advice on how to finding your voice as a blogger: “Think about what do you absolutely love doing more than anything else in life and blog about that.”
  6. Jean Berg-Sarauer also suggests journaling:  “When you let yourself write about anything you want with no intention of ever showing your words to another living soul, it feels safe to be real. And the more you let your authentic voice come out in your private journal, the easier it will get to bring it out for your readers.”
  7. Additionally Jean advises that bloggers let their writing suck on initial drafts – to be cleaned up later.  I understand how difficult it is to allow yourself to do so, but she’s right, it really helps.   You can forget about proper spelling and grammar for a moment, and give yourself permission to leave  blanks when you can’t find the words (trust me, getting stuck on trying to find that elusive word can be time-consuming and inspiration killing).  You might feel like a dolt during the process (“Wow, I can’t even formulate sentences…  What an idiot,” but allowing yourself to just write without censoring, just as it pours out of you can be very eye-opening – and freeing.

Note: I’ll be posting the slides for my talk tomorrow on this blog, and on Slideshare.

May 6, 2010 at 10:30 am 4 comments

Online Voice – Part 2 – Advice from bloggers on finding your voice

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m presently work on my Northern Voice talk that deals with “Finding Your Online Voice“.  This post is the 2nd in the series. (The first is here.)

I asked a few bloggers I knew to fill out a short survey.  One of the questions was:

“Did you have any difficulty finding your online voice? If so, how did you discover it?  Do you have any tips on that for new bloggers?”

(Yes, these are three separate questions I asked as one.  This made the form look shorter and hence. more likely to be filled in, and I apologize to no one for that! No one!)

Here are some of the astute responses:

Kimli Welsh

Delicious Juice Dot Com

Tips for new bloggers? Be real. Start small. While you don’t have to share as much as I do, you should share SOMETHING – a thought, an opinion, a story. Stick to the blogging rules: no one cares what you had for lunch. Don’t force anything; let it come naturally. Did I mention being real? Please be real. Give people a chance to know YOU, not a false image.
Classifies her blog as:
highly personal, leaning toward comedic (I hope) – I share information about my day-to-day life on a daily basis.

Kim Werker

Kim Werker

I find it easy to write, and when I first started blogging (on a different blog), I had no trouble being the voice of the website I was writing for. When I finally started *my* blog, I found the transition to be a little awkward. I felt like I had to be the “professional” me, since I was the person behind some fairly prominent publications in the crafts industry. So I was writing about stuff not related to crafts, but I felt the need to be my professional persona. I didn’t want to rock the boat or say anything that might make a reader judge a publication negatively because they didn’t like what I wrote on my blog.

Eventually, I just ripped the bandage off and started to just be myself. That was a HUGE relief, and it contributed almost entirely to me becoming a better – and happier – blogger. Readers became more engaged on my blog, and I found I had a lot more to say and I just said it as me. (And to my knowledge, my book sales haven’t hurt. 🙂 )

Classifies her blog as:
It’s a whatever-I-feel-like-writing-about blog, with a focus on creativity, business, crafts and books.

Erica Lam

The Style Spy

No. Blogging is all about being yourself. The voice online is exactly the way I talk in person and to my girlfriends when I discuss shopping. Showing off your latest purchase, the newest beauty discovery. It’s all about keeping it real and not over-thinking it. For new bloggers, be true to what you believe in, don’t try to conform or copy a popular style of writing.

Obviously the more you write, the easier it gets. And it really should be easy & natural.

Classifies her blog as: Style/Fashion/Shopping
Isabella Mori

Change Therapy

It wasn’t difficult but it also went through a bit of a process.  I’ve been writing for many years, so i didn’t have to work hard on finding my writing voice. I’m someone who suffers from writers and idea tsunami more than from writers and idea block, so my challenge was more on how to focus so that my voice would not be a dissonant jumble.  what has helped with that was to see what readers were interested in, and also looking back after a few months on what and how i enjoyed writing on such a regular basis.
Classifies her blog as: business/op ed/educational with a good dose of personal
Miranda Lievers

Blue Olive Photography

The approach I took and what I’d suggest to new bloggers is to simply be yourself and write how you talk. It will come across more authentic and genuine than if you try to write how you think others want you to write.

And of course, don’t take yourself too seriously 😉

Classifies her blog as:


May 5, 2010 at 8:00 am 4 comments

Online Voice – Part 1 – How I found my voice

I’m currently prepping for my Northern Voice talk on “Finding Your Online Voice“.  This post is the first of the series.

Since I figured saying, “Well, you start blogging and then, after a while, you find your online voice” might not be very inspiring to participants, I wanted to ask other bloggers (via a survey) about their process.  Tomorrow I’ll be posting some of the cool responses I received.

As for me, my process was really trial and error (for both blogs – especially the humour one, which, as I’ve repeatedly stated, I nurture and feed much more consistently).

For Your Dose of Lunacy:

I really didn’t know what I would write about.  I just knew that it was necessary to have a blog if I was to consider myself a person in-the-know about social media/technology.  I had fancied myself a writer since I was a kid –  and that wasn’t entirely an asset.  My early writing was a bit too stilted and pompous (as far as I’m concerned), a little too long, and not very natural in tone.

I tried to write about the wacky occurrences that I had had in my life, and there’s still some of that in my blog, but I also realized that there were things I liked to rant about, and that I did that in general, in real life.  And so I found myself ranting, but I really didn’t realize the theme until I read a description a friend of mine had written about my blog which described it as (something like) “amusing weirdness from the net”.  I thought: “Really?! Well I guess I do write about that kind of stuff alot. OK then…”  And an (admittedly very loose) theme was born.

For this one, Me Like The Interweb (which I started after the other, in order to somewhat separate the raunchiness from my business thoughts):

I originally considered doing (and probably did to some extent) what I thought was “de rigeur”.  At the time, most seemed to be blogging about what they attended (be it conference session, webinar etc.), what they thought of it and what it made them think about on the topic.  Also many would comment on items that were popular at the time. While that can be very valuable for those bloggers and their readership, especially if they had something astute to say on the subject, I really felt this wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.  For one, I don’t have something smart to say about everything that happens – and certainly not succinctly.  And secondly, I am too obsessive (and possibly long-winded) to put together a “quick” post that is still interesting and well-written.  As such, writing is time-consuming and I have to pick my priorities.

So, unless I am really inspired to blog by a talk and/or feel there is something monumental to discuss about an event I attended, I won’t. This blog tends to be a bit of a brain dump – albeit it far more hygienic and organized than the inside of my head.  I write more when I have a talk to give.  Hence, these posts.

In general:

I can say that my Your Dose of Lunacy voice sounds much more like me – if you know me well, and catch me on a ranting day.  (Also, I’m a little nicer in real life)  This blog is my other half: more how I sound at talks, and when I’m being professional or introspective.

A critical thing I want to mention is: I never expect anyone to read my blog (at least not consistently) because of me.  I really believe in the importance of the content, and overall write under the assumption that no one cares about who I am, and that the post better be interesting (or funny) even if they don’t know me or care anything about me.

What about you? Did you have a path to finding your online voice.  Or did it just come naturally?  Any tips?

P.S. I have a few comedy articles on  The general theme of these concern FAILS in my life – and your reading will prove that they didn’t occur in vain…

Now Playing at a Bin Near You

Just Say No

What I Did For Cash: Riding Transit With a Mannequin

May 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

Psychology and Social Media (Part II) – on OneDegree: Attacks

(Note: This post was originally written for – and published on –  OneDegree)

What constitutes an attack on the web and why does it happen?

Some situations are very clear while others can be interpreted differently from the angle at which one views or is participating.

One thing is certain, online communication may not parallel offline life. And it doesn’t always match the user’s “true self” or intent either.

A common rule of thumb in Computer-mediated-communication is that you view the other party as standing in front of you during the conversation. The inclination then is to be more careful, both in tone and in wording.

Psychologist John Suler refers to the online propensity towards the opposite as “The Online Disinhibition Effect”[1] whereby people “act out more frequently or intensely than they would in person” (as well as self-disclose more).

The assumption with alcohol (which has a similar dis-inhibitory effect) is that we need help in loosening our tongue, and that the “true self” emerges under these conditions. Suler points out that that, in terms of online communication, this may not be the case:

“The self does not exist separate from the environment in which that self is expressed. If someone contains his aggression in face-to-face living, but expresses that aggression online, both behaviors reflect aspects of self: the self that acts non-aggressively under certain conditions, the self that acts aggressively under other conditions. When a person is shy in person while outgoing online, neither self-presentation is more true. They are two dimensions of that person, each revealed within a different situational context.”[2]

Further, many consider making negative comments more acceptable and less severe than enacting such behaviors offline. One reason is that there are often no real world repercussions (especially when the commenter is anonymous) and for those wanting to bully it is a perfect vehicle.

I can’t see you …

But not all intents are as malicious, sometimes there is simply a “lack of awareness” for the other party’s emotions. Additionally, offline,“[t]he self-conscious emotions of shame, guilt and embarrassment” are shown to “play an important role both in regulating our everyday interactions and also alleviating interactions that have been disrupted.”[3] But online it is easy to post harsh words as “[t]ext communication offers abuilt-in opportunity to keep one’s eyes averted.”[4]

Avoidance of attacks or negative judgments is why some people choose to not post (for instance, a YouTube video, or not to have a blog), or why some may even opt to shut down their online presence on a social site pursuant to an onslaught of negativity. To consider the impact that just one “bad apple” can have, think about the way one person’s presence in the offline world can lend negativity to an environment. Just as a workplace can be tainted by the behavior of one colleague so can one’s interest in participating in online discussions be dampened by interactions with one person. What was once a comfortable and positive haven can rapidly morph into a minefield, one where a user may question each decision to post or spend unnecessary time dealing with a fallout.

Insult is in the eye of the beholder.

In a Master’s Thesis which studied of concept of “flaming” on YouTube [5], the author, Peter J. Moor, pointed out that interpretation was key. Just as in email, lacking knowledge of the sender and/or his/her body language leads to interpretation of message other than was intended. While some comments were made to insult the party, in some instances miscommunication was also present. Referring in this case to those posting videos on YouTube, though it can well apply to other forms of online communication (e.g. blog post comments, twitter responses etc.):

“posters may think too often that comments are primarily aimed at them, and they may think that comments are intended to be offensive or provoking when they are not. Also, they may interpret comments different from their intended purposes …”[6]

A telling example discussed in the paper played out as follows:

“Thompsen describes how some of his ideas in a philosophical discussion are met with disagreement. The sender of the reply, who is called “B” and is known to Thompsen in real life, expresses his disagreement and ends his message with “Sorry, but knowledge/experience/reality in any formulation shouldn’t be subjected to that sort of crap.” (p. 54). Thompsen is not sure about the intent of this reply especially because the word “crap” is used. He feels frustrated and offended, which he makes clear in a reply to B. When B responds, it appears that his first reply had no offensive intent at all. Also, the word “crap” was wrongly interpreted as such: “Of the “crap” line, well, I have been hearing that line used about the kind of work I do for a long time now from hard-core quantitative types and I guess it just rubs off. Don’t take it personally.” (p. 61).” [6]

Another part of the thesis examined appropriateness of the communication, in that what one group would consider offensive another would deem completely acceptable. Within these communities, logically, the insult wasn’t, in fact, an insult. Interestingly, once we cross communities in any sense, we encounter these difficulties. But what constitutes a community? Family dynamics have some bearing on a person’s communication style (e.g. confrontation, non-confrontation). And different social circles have various way of interacting. Think for a moment of your circle of friends. You wouldn’t dare mix some of your connections – who wants to risk the fallout that could occur when “Gentle Dave” is faced with “Evil Steve’s” remarks?

Similarly, I have a friend with whom our method of affection is to insult each other as viciously as possible. It’s a game, a form of improv – and we’re aware of it . But were we to deal with everyone in this capacity, we’d soon find ourselves without work, or friends. Different jokes for different folks, I think they say. Since, we don’t know all folks and their different styles of communication, nor intent, what can we effectively surmise during online confrontations? And how do we instill an awareness of how things may be interpreted?

On to you.

[Part 3 will appear… soon]

Note: If you would like to recommend articles or books, please feel free to suggest in the comments, or contact me (see contact page for info and form) or on Twitter.


[1] “The Online Disinhibition Effect“, John Suler (PDF)

[2] Ibid.

[3] “The role of shame, guilt and embarrassment in online social dilemmas, Asima Vasalou, Adam Joinson, Jeremy Pitt (PDF)

[4] “The Online Disinhibition Effect”, Suler (as above)

[5] “Flaming on YouTube”, Peter J. Moor (PDF)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

April 14, 2010 at 6:00 am 10 comments

If You’re Geeky and You Know It…

It’s been a very nice time for press.  Stephen Hui recently interviewed me for the Georgia Straight’s “Geek Speak” column.

Thank you so much, Stephen!

April 14, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

The Number 13!

Very excited about this! I’m #13 (how appropriate) in this BCBusiness Magazine spread on “Vancouver’s Social Media Innovators” by Nordica Photography.

It’s a tremendous honour to be in a spread with so many brilliant and amazing people.

Thank you, Cole Roberts and Jakob Granqvist for the (as promised) pain-free shoot – and lovely write-up.

April 5, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

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Monica Hamburg – Who Am I?

Good question (I wonder this all the time).
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