Dec 162011

“Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?”

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”  ~ A Christmas Carol

I was having a conversation with Debbie yesterday on Facebook chat which is most frequently how we have our conversations. We had each pulled a card of the day that had knocked us for a loop and we both really needed to talk about it. (Click on her name and you can read her experience on her blog) I’ve been using The Steampunk Tarot and yesterday pulled the Seven of Wands. She’s a pretty fierce depiction of this card. To understand why and how this hit me so hard I need to explain a few things.

I started this blog in the Spring of this year after taking a pretty eye-opening class about working online. I knew a blog was a good idea but I wasn’t clear exactly why. The class gave me the why but that turned out to be insufficient. As with anything new I deferred to a trustworthy expert and followed her advice. That didn’t seem like enough so I branched out and explored the advice of other experts. Over time a few things dawned on me. Social media is not that old and is constantly changing. Those calling themselves experts are much better at this than I am but strictly speaking they are not experts. Another interesting thing happened during the course of my explorations. I found that one ‘expert’ led to another and then another but eventually it formed a circle. It was hard to know if I had moved onto a different circle of experts or not. There is a lot of overlap and therfore a lot of redundancy. What I also began to realize is that these people all seem to have similar personalities and, most importantly, it’s a personality that is very different from mine.

I have spent most of my reading time over the last six months reading and learning about social media and online marketing. I have attended online webinars, received newsletters, video courses, read a few books on the topic and I even follow a few folks on Twitter and Facebook. In six months time what it has done is make me cringe a bit. I get the value in this. I really do. I’m sitting here as the sun comes up, wearing my bathrobe, drinking my coffee and typing up this post. You will read this at a different place and different time. You may even comment. We will have a slow motion conversation each of us participating at our own convenience. That is pretty cool. I can ‘meet’ people through the internet that I would never have the opportunity to actually meet in real life. My in person practice is very personal with  my clients and we work one on one. This feels like a one on one conversation. It seems like a letter to a friend. I like that. It is in keeping with my personality and my in-person business practice. It’s the other stuff I’m having a hard time with.

The focus of most of what I read was about growing your business online. I do want that but not for its own sake. Many times as I’m reading and listening to these things I keep thinking of that quote by Edward Abbey: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Most of the self-professed experts focused on the growth potential. There is a lot of good information on other aspects of running a business and I had no problem with most of that. It was the how and why of growth that bothered me the most. I felt myself getting defensive the last six weeks or more and pulling back from all of it. I’ve resisted the idea of a newsletter because I find them irritating and intrusive. Every expert swears they are necessary. I thought about it and of the few that I actually allow into my inbox I have never once made a purchase because of a prompt in a newsletter. The ones I like the most are the ones that are short and infrequent. A sure fire way to turn me off is to email me all the time. Twitter is another thing I can’t quite get the hang of. It seems like the world’s largest, loudest cocktail party and anything you post there is gone within the hour. Again the experts tout Twitter as a great connection tool. I don’t see how.

Yesterday, I pulled this card and while I was finding appropriate quotes to illustrate the meaning it hit me. I feel a bit under assault because the way online business is taught is not the way I want to run my online business. All those wands poking up at her are the experts telling me to be something I’m not. She is standing on a carefully crafted platform. That is the life and values she has and has built. It is that which she is defending. I liked her even more. This is a card about being under assault where you can see your attacker. It’s also about being defensive in an emotionally fragile way but also defensive in that you are standing your ground. As I was expressing all this to Debbie, she immediately understood. We are very similar in this regard, which is part of why we get along. I told her about a very wonderful interview I recently read. Michael Ellsberg interviewed Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby and it was a breath of fresh air. Here was guy who had an online business and my life philosophy. Then Debbie said one little sentence that summed it all up. “He’s a Fezziwig not a Scrooge!”  Yes! Exactly! That was the perfect analogy to me. His focus was on doing what he was doing the way he wanted for his own reasons. It’s his business and he’s providing a service for his customers because he values them and they value him. They are not a means to an end for him. Growth and ‘making it big’ are not the goal. One of my favorite quotes from him “None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them.” Exactly!

I feel much better about all of this now.

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