Thursday, November 11, 2010


Have you ever had an experience that started out as just a simple thing, but turned into an amazing, nearly life-changing, event? I mean, we all fall in (and out of) love, we all lose loved ones and we all feel pain. You expect those major life events to change you in some way. I'm talking about something that was supposed to be simple but yet made you see things in a completely different way? 

By chance (and because I'm never working when I should be) I noticed this post the other day on one of my favorite blogs. Since becoming active in blogs and and twitter this year, I've developed a greater interest in social media. Peter Shankman is recognized as a social media entrepreneur and expert, so I thought hearing what he had to say would be interesting. Plus, the event was free, and I've been in a rut lately, looking for things to do. Free, local, interesting and didn't involve me sitting home folding laundry. Sold!

I've heard a lot of speakers. A bad speaker is the instructor I had for my insurance licensing class. He had this funny tick and made the strangest mouth noises I've ever heard. I had him for hundreds of hours of licensing class, and I'm pretty sure I never heard a word he said. A good speaker is knowledgeable and accurate; they have a pleasant voice and no distracting features. I'll hear most of what that speaker has to say - as long as he doesn't speak too long. 

Peter Shankman is a great speaker. My friend asked me why I thought so, and the only answer I could come up with was: I took notes. Four years of college with barely a pen and a post-it, but for this guy, I filled up all the note pad space on my phone and started sending myself emails. He was just that good. He wasn't distracting, he was dressed well but unassuming. He was funny, he made sense and he didn't use jargon. He was clear, he made his point - and what he said was relevant. 

Based on what I heard, and what I've read since, the guy's a master of social media. Why? Because he gets it - and he's using it. He talked a lot about how he created (several) successful sites all based on the premise of social media, sharing information, networking, etc. He elaborated on what he considers to be the four rules of social media, which made HARO so successful. (In the interest of space and frankly, because I'm tired as I write this, I'll talk more about those rules in another post.)

Okay, so he was a great speaker, I learned a lot, and it was free. But life-changing? Yup. Here's why.

Like most adults, I spend most of my time at work; in my case, work is not a place I like to be. Consequently, the majority of my time is spent, well - miserable. Recent changes forced me to take stock of my life as a whole; while I'm pretty proud that I haven't succumbed to the "my life sucks" attitude I've had in the past, I do know something has to change. I've started to try and turn my love of all things social media into a new career for myself. 

Listening to someone else who did that very thing talk about how it worked for him was inspiring. Not only that - having a successful expert validate some of my opinions of social media, and how it's changing our society, meant a lot to me. 

Being happy and truly excited about something proves that, even if it's not the way I expected - I made it out of my rut. 

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