How can I help you?

I’m asking, because it’s what I do. To some it may sound hokey or, to the skeptical, disingenuous, but it is really what I love to do — especially through my written work. Some may say it’s my personal brand. I like to say that writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. The way that happens is this; if my words or advice can help just one person, even just a little bit, it makes them feel better. They, in turn, are more likely to help those around them, and so on and so on. Thus, the whole world gets a little bit better.

Perhaps, my books can help you. Get this one if you are looking to achieve a simpler or more intentional life. If you are looking for a more mindful approach to technology, this one is the one for you — even if you don’t use Apple products most of the ideas still apply. If you are looking for practical, actionable, advice on living, this one will help you for sure.

I’ve also published a book about writing (especially for an online audience) and one on meditation that anyone can do. These are meant to help too.

I also have a free newsletter that has been warmly received. The schedule, format, and topics are irregular but I’m confident that those that subscribe find something helpful show up in their email inboxes every once in a while. Take a look at the archive if you’d like to get a sense of what I write about there.

Sometimes, I speak to organizations and groups and try to help them. If you are a part of an organization or team that you think would benefit please let me know.

Finally, I now offer personal one-to-one sessions for those seeking my direct help, counsel, and advice. Rates can vary based on level of engagement. Get in touch to discuss pricing and details to fit your need and budget.

The bottom line is that I’m always looking for ways I can help others. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. Let me know if there is some way I can help you.

Twitter Zen and The Art of Retweet Maintenance

I was feeling overwhelmed every time I opened Twitter but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. Nothing had changed, recently. I hadn’t added more follows — I try to keep that number around 350. The most frequent and active Tweeters I had already relegated to a list called "High Volume". All the companies, sites, and news, etc. were in a list called "Interesting". I have several mute filters in place for the things I don’t care about. I very carefully choose who I follow and regularly evaluate and curate that list. In other words, I thought I had done all of the "right" things but, still, my main timeline felt — well — like it was not mine.

It felt like I threw a party, invited specific people to it, but then all these other people I didn’t know showed up with them. They came and hogged the conversation, ate too much food, and kept me from being able to really hear and talk to the people I invited. Bad uninvited guests.

I was describing the problem to my friend Jason and he reminded me that he wrote up a post a little while back about how he keeps his Twitter sanity. He suggested a few things from it that he thought would help me. His is a very reasoned and well thought out strategy and you should do yourself a favor and take the time to read what he has to say. That said, I wanted to highlight one item in particular that made a HUGE difference for me:

Turn off retweets for everyone you follow the moment you begin following them.

Now, since I had not been doing so before and planned to not add any more followers, I had to turn off retweets from everyone I already followed. This seemed daunting and tedious at first until I realized the better strategy was this; every time someone retweeted something and I saw it in my timeline my next action would be to turn off retweets for the person retweeting. This made the process far more doable and immediately caught the most frequent retweeters. I should mention the interesting part of this choice is that turning off retweets does not turn off "quote" tweets — where the person sharing has something to add. It only eliminates straight no-value-added retweets.

Now, after working on doing this for the past couple of weeks, my main timeline feels like mine again. It’s a party of my invited guests and I’m truly interested in what they have to say.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the general point of a retweet. Sometimes, people just want to share something with no additional comment. The problem is that, if I wanted to hear from those people, what they think, or what they had to say I would follow them. I don’t. I follow who I want to follow and I want to hear what the people I follow have to say and, if they want to share something and have something to add when they share, that’s cool. Because then I’m hearing what they think about what they are sharing.

So, I’m now back to feeling a little less overwhelmed by Twitter largely thanks to this. Hopefully, it will help for a while.

As an aside, I feel like Twitter — much like Facebook — is increasingly a service that requires a bit too much fiddling with to make it useable. It now suffers from the same "go into settings and tweak this and do that and turn these off and download this app and it’ll be OK not great but OK" that Facebook long has. If I didn’t care what my friends were up to and thinking so much it’s hardly be worth the trouble. And, though I have not reached it yet, it is on the verge of becoming such a needy puppy that it won’t be worth it. I have such a complicated and conflicted relationship with it these days.

Just Ask

A few days ago, I walked into the bookstore that is just downstairs from one of my clients and asked the shop owner, "What have you read recently that you just loved?" I walked away with a book I know will make a great Mothers Day present for my wife, the first book of a series that sounds fantastic, and a half dozen other recommendations for future purchases.

Unsurprisingly, walking into a bookstore and asking the shopkeeper, "What do you just love?" Will put good books into your hands. "I love [name of book/genre/subject], what do you recommend?" does the same. This works in libraries too. Also, record stores. I’ve even seen it work in restaurants.

The other day, when out to lunch, I asked the server what the "Yum Yum" sauce on one of their specials tasted like. He attempted to describe it and I got the general idea but, without my asking, he went a step further and brought out a small sample of it. He knew that the best answer he could give was to let the sauce speak for itself. I didn’t end up getting the dish but I likely will next time (the sauce was good).

The point being that, in general, at many independent establishments the people who are there are experts at what they have, what’s good, and what you’ll likely enjoy. They love being asked for their opinion and a surprisingly few amount of people do so. So, take a chance next time you’re in one and ask questions. My bet is that you’ll be happy you did.

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