BLBO: There’ll be sad songs

"There'll be sad songs, to make you cry," said Billy Ocean
JEALOUSY
There’ll be sad songs to make you cry

One of the feelings that squash collaboration is Jealousy. And there’s no better place to see jealousy run rampant than in personal publishing.

I talk about the crippling effects of online jealousy a lot because I think it’s something we all wrestle with.

I think the problem is far more insidious than any of us let on.

Like I said, we work in isolation on our egos — it’s nigh impossible to follow the trite advice to ‘keep your eyes on your own work.” It’s in our faces, under the guise of community and “just keeping up.”

It comes in sneaky ways that don’t immediately read as jealousy, and instead bubble up as irritation, hate reading, asking questions in your head like
Why wasn’t I invited?
Why do they hate me?
Who does she think she is?

It’s jumping to conclusions like
She/He thinks he’s too good for this.
They didn’t have it as hard as I did, that’s why they’re successful.
Hey! That was MY idea! He stole it!

It’s even worse when money and fame get into it. What else is the current monetized internet other than traffic numbers and competition for limited opportunities?
(Not much).

I’ve talked about this before, but I have been helped immensely by not assuming my jealousy as the end game. I use it as a tool – when I’m jealous of someone (and quite honestly, I’ve been jealous of most of the people in this room) I’ll make a jealousy map, where I write out Who, Why and Now What. It sounds too easy to work, but it quickly quells that downward spiral. I learned this from the great book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – a creativity course I do once a year to help me identify blocks and ruts in my creative processes.

This is embarrassing but I’m going to share 3 of the people I’m jealous of in the room and my jealousy map about them:

Did you know that Billy Ocean was never jealous? Never once. We have no recorded content of Billy Ocean being jealous of another artist. Do you care if that’s a lie? Does it matter?

Who? Why? Now What?
Joy the Baker She works with Michael Find my own supportive collaborators
Oh Sweet Basil Younger, cuter Work with younger and cuter people more – to discover why I’m thrilled to be as experienced in this medium as I am.
Two Peas and their Pod Bigger Audience Either grow my audience, or focus on a message I’m proud of. There’s a sweet spot there I can find for myself.
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BLBO: In the love zone

"You'll never be a stranger out there on your own in the love zone," said Billy Ocean

COLLABORATION
You’ll never be a stranger out there on your own in the Love Zone

Speaking of it being all about us… It’s not.

This kind of work is so strange. We consume this media in isolation, so it seems like it’s about us. We think people’s choices were somehow affected by us or a result from us.

We THINK we’re social but we work alone.
And very few people get what we do.

Events like these [Speaking at the Big Traveling Potluck] are where we get with people who understand and honor our creativity. We have to.

Being here is much different than the internet that lives in my head – where everyone is competition and sponsor dollars are rare treats to be wrestled over and I’m going to be famous forever.

Yes, you have friends who RT you or that otherwise stroke your ego — but that’s not collaborating.

This internet can facilitate collaboration. We can work with each other instead of against each other. Sandy from the Reluctant Entertainer is great with this – she works hard to build a community of creative collaborators, sharing her opportunities to make them even stronger.

As we forge this medium’s future together for the first time, we HAVE to be in it together. Out of all the other content verticals, parenting, lifestyle, tech — food bloggers understand this inherently. It might be about the communal nature of a meal, I don’t know.

What I do know, is that you won’t succeed alone.

Even Billy Ocean wrote songs for LaToya Jackson.

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BLBO: When the going gets tough

CREATIVITY
When the Going gets Tough, the tough get ready.

Here’s the deal, this version of our visual, personal narrative-based storytelling is less than [five] years old. And somehow, we bloggers are trapped in the belief that everything, every thing we write or share has to be either a certain way or grounded in real life.

 

There’s a theory from the great Paul Ford at ftrain.com and @ftrain on Twitter. He talks about what makes the internet different from all other media. His theory is that the internet is actually the perfect Customer Service media – whereas radio can be enjoyed while washing dishes, or you kick back to watch tv at the night – the internet brings about the new mindset — WWIC — which stands for why wasn’t I consulted.

“Why wasn’t I consulted,” which I abbreviate as WWIC, is the fundamental question of the web. It is the rule from which other rules are derived. Humans have a fundamental need to be consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively.

Brace yourself for the initial angry wave of criticism: How dare you, I hate it, it’s ugly, you’re stupid. The Internet runs on knee-jerk reactions. People will test your work against their pet theories: It is not free, and thus has no value; it lacks community features; I can’t believe you don’t use dotcaps, lampsheets, or pixel scrims; it is not written in Rusp or Erskell; my cat is displeased. The ultimate question lurks beneath these curses: why wasn’t I consulted?

WWIC is the thing people talk about when they talk about nicer-sounding things like “the wisdom of crowds” or “cognitive surplus.”
“How do we deal with the WWIC problem?” Everything else comes after.

It’s what we get by opening up comments. Those rare and beautiful gems that say, “Why isn’t this gluten free?” or “That’s an AWFUL lot of nutmeg.”

Taken in the wrong context, those are creativity killers. Anticipating WWIC ahead of time will save you from a bunch of heartache.

You know this.

I assume you’re all highly creative. And creativity is the juice that runs this business of digital publishing. The creative stuff is what has that amplification – that social juice.

And brain science to help with creativity.

In studying the brains of highly creative people like you all, they’ve found that there are 7 different brain activation processes based on the different phase of creativity you’re in. By identifying these processes, and maximizing your environment for each of them, you can blow up your creativity at each level (for more on this, find the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck)

We can do this. We can amp up our own creativity.

We’re going to talk about 2 of these right now.

The first, is the Absorb brainset. And it’s much more successful than what passes for inspiration these days – the cursory pinterest romp.

When we open our minds to new experiences and uncritically take in ideas, we can take in more knowledge that we can combine in different ways thereby increasing our creativity.

We’re going to get in the absorb mindset right now.
Take in a deep breath.
Close your eyes (it’s cool, I promise).
Let go some of that unconscious tension and start to recognize what’s going on through all your senses.

Feel your feet touching the floor – your shoes. Feel how your body is touching the furniture, how your clothing feels in a nonjudgmental way. What are you smelling? What’s the temperature like? Move through each of your senses.

Now you’re quieting your sensors – open your eyes and continue this feeling of absorption. See how colors have become brighter, notice angles and shadows and all of a sudden you’re aware of more stimuli coming in from your senses.

Basically, you’re priming your brain to accept better and more information. As soon as you’re not filtering out this information, you have more available to you to recombine in creative and original ways.

Another brainset to maximize your creativity is the Envision brainset.

You’re thinking visually rather than verbally. You can see and manipulate objects in your minds’ eye. You’ll see comparisons between 2 things that seem far removed from them originally.

Play WHAT IF.

Look around you in your environment. And think about the consequences if something were changed. What if – avocados grew hair. What if you had six arms instead of 2.

How would the world change?

Once you see these consequences, you’re actually forging pathways in the brain that allow you to activate this Envision brainset in the future.
These are things that children do all day long.

Kids aren’t filtering out what we adults need to filter out — our prefrontal cortex helps us plan for the future and it does this by judging the rest of what’s coming in.

This helps us increase the signal to noise ration. We grown ups have goals, and our goals keep our brains on track.

Therefore we only notice what’s in line with our goals or what we need to survive.

Kids don’t have this level of prefrontal cortex development — they’re still getting this information and they wonder about it – they have the freedom to play WHAT IF all day long, because their brains are built for it.

But to be creative — we need to turn down that prefrontal activator so we can have better ideas, combinations, new creative thoughts. Right now, things are changing so rapidly, we need to be able to adapt and take the next step rather than following an already delimited pathway.

Absorb and envision.

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BLBO: No more love on the run

No more love on the run, said Billy Ocean
THE LONG GAME
No more love on the run

There’s a strange misperception of success in this digital medium — somehow, we’re supposed to start out and grow and grow and grow our sites until we have a powerhouse audience in the millions every month. And then we have book deals and magazines and we’re all Rachael Ray and we just get bigger and bigger and bigger.

But if we look at the jobs in other creative industries like musicians or actors, we’ll find that the successes are more cyclical maybe even hit or miss over time. That perception of fame is separate from creating your best work.

People fall in and out of favor with a fickle public.
That’s okay. We’re fickle too.

Fame is separate from getting paid,
Fame is separate from personal satisfaction in the work.

A lifetime of creative success, where you invest time in learning more about your craft as well as sharing what you’ve learned, is the path for a great majority of us.

And that’s okay!

Since we’re exploring a new medium for the first time, it’s easy to feel confused and unsure.
That’s normal.

Strangely enough, in digital media, we assume that popularity should grow steadily over time, but we have no evidence in any kind of related arts business that would prove this — it’s cyclical, it’s random.

Music, movies, they have hits, they have misses, but best of all, their creators have artistic growth over time. They’re stretching and growing their work.

This digital culture is mad wonky. We accidentally believe that creating is about ego when in fact the opposite is true.

It’s not about ego and fame.
It’s about the opposite. It’s about humility and sacrifice.
It’s about appetite.
It’s about your audience.

It’s about doing work that challenges us each and every day.
It’s about taking the time to check in with ourselves to remember the big message we’re trying to get across.

It feels even more ego driven as we work in isolation behind our lighted boxes. IT FEELS LIKE IT IS ALL ON US TO BE ALL ABOUT US.

And you all know, the best way to get out of our heads is to help other people. And your experience is such that there is someone you can help, generously.

Did you know that Billy Ocean teaches at the Tech Music Schools in London regularly holding seminars and clinics? How are you teaching the skills you’ve developed, working on this new medium forward?

Having another job helps too.
As Billy Ocean said, “I’m a qualified tailor, and the reason for that is my mother. She knew I loved music – I’d sing with her when she was ironing in the evening – and academically I wasn’t very bright. So when I left school with no qualifications, she said I must take a course in something to fall back on.”

No really.
There are a lot of bloggers in the world.
And a day job can help take the pressure off of you having to sell your story.

Billy Ocean’s 1989 Greatest Hits collection sold steadily over the past 34 years. His Greatest Hits was his biggest commercial success so far.

He’s still creating work, he even went on tour with his daughter Cherie as a backup singer last week.

What does your greatest hits look like? Do you want to sell it now? Or in 34 years? How can you continue to add to your greatest hits? How can you make sure your greatest hits really IS your greatest hits?

 

 

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Why Billy Ocean is your creative role model

Back in 2013, I spoke at the Big Traveling Potluck, an intimate, warm conference for food bloggers. At the time, I was working for Federated Media, helping bloggers make money with their blogs. Since then the landscape’s changed. Instagram and YouTube hold today’s influencer dollars and blogs have either been so advertised or absorbed into social media, the opportunity we were all looking for changed dramatically.

In the slow replacement of all my blog content, I found the text from the talk. It’s still relevant, if less for the serial web log medium and more for your creative dreams. I’ll post a section of the talk every day for the next few – see you tomorrow!

Billy Ocean is Goals

Get out of my dreams and into my car.
And by car, I mean, into your best creative work.

And here, by your best creative work, I mean, consistently creating images, moving pictures and words in combination to publish on the internet.

It’s no small responsibility to have the chance for the world to bear witness to your work.

It’s no small disappointment when no one seems to take notice.

It’s strange too, in all of human history; we didn’t have this kind of work. We worked in small groups satisfying our basic needs. And now we’re alone, bearing witness to all perceived competition.

Based on human history, this is a strange activity we signed up for.
We need some guidance.

And who can guide us into a long creative life?
Billy Ocean.

That’s right. Billy Ocean.

The eighties singer with a few top 40 hits under his belt.
Singer of the pop hit, Get out of my dreams and into my car, Loverboy, Suddenly and There’ll be sad songs (to make you cry).

Or better yet, Leslie Sebastian Charles.

Born in Fyzabad, Trinidad.
1985 Grammy award winner for Caribbean Queen.
Current Rastafarian.
Billy Ocean.

Now where the heck has Billy Ocean been all these years? What in the heck does he have to do with blogging? What does this have to do with me making more money from my internet website?

I’ve got six ways that Billy Ocean can help you move toward your internet dreams.

Power Name
The Long Game
Collaboration
Jealousy
Creativity Tricks
Self-Talk

POWERNAME

So like I said, Billy Ocean wasn’t always Billy Ocean. That’s his POWER NAME. You have a Power Name too. You might be The Pioneer Woman. You might be Shutterbean.

Leslie Sebastian Charles took the name Billy Ocean from a football team he had followed in Trinidad called Oceans Eleven. Then he added Billy. Or maybe he took the name from the apartments he lived in, the Oceans Estates. He was born in the ocean, he emerged from the ocean. He is not Frank Ocean’s uncle, or he may be. Wikipedia is unclear.

That’s okay, it’s part of his mythology.
Are you a digital publisher? You have a different name too. It’s your Billy Ocean. Your superhero name.

All too often I meet publishers at blogging conferences who hide behind the perceived lameness of their names. Hi I’m internetfoodie69.com and yeah, apologies, I thought it’d be funny in college, but it’s my name and I couldn’t get it on Twitter and well, I’m internetfoodie 420 there, and …

Hold that train.
Your online name is your POWER NAME.

It’s your Billy Ocean, and you’re not going to win a 1985 Grammy for that kind of thinking.

Make a list of all the ways your Billy Ocean is better than the real you. How is that name more likable, smarter, more creative? How does your power name help more people? Your Billy Ocean has powers you don’t have. And it’s best you lean into it and squeeze all the juice (or delicious Trinidadian Rum) you can from it.

Stop apologizing for your name.

 

(Come back tomorrow for more Billy Ocean goodness)

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Solutions for a painful internet, my Mom 2.0 presentation

I believe there are no more than 3 ways (ahem) to feel better from the internet.
And no less than 74,000 ways to feel worse.

helenjane's internet ailments

So step right up, get on in here,
I have tonics, salves, liniments, ointments and remedies for your ails.
Internet related ailment, that is.
I have relief.

helenjane's internet ailments

See, over last five years
The scale and velocity of story sharing
image sharing and
sharing sharing has increased in a way in our brains and emotions have not.

We humans need to step back and see how fundamentally different human interaction has become since the internet’s adaptation by billions. This onslaught of pictures and stories and potential and the fact made visual that we are all connected to every body

It’s affecting our brains.
We have no choice but to evolve.

In fact, our brains are evolving…

helenjane's internet ailments

Right now.

We’re in transition.
Most transitions are marked with pain.
When we don’t recognize that transition for evolution, we feel terrible.

Birth,

helenjane's internet ailments

death.

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re transitioning right now.
Publicly.
And a little painfully.

We’re
Jealous
Judgey
Unlucky
Alienated
Ignored
Dissatisfied

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re evolving.
And it hurts.

Thankfully, I bring you
No less than
three tools for feeling better.
Today.

Let’s soothe those internet pains.

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re going to
Protect your neck
Show you a Jealousy Map
Then use our imaginations to think of tiny scientists.

First up?
Protect your neck

helenjane's internet ailments

When I sit with the internet during my normal surfing,
I pay close attention to my body’s reaction to the words I consume.

I feel the burning in my throat when someone I consider my peer gets that accolade.
I feel my eyes fill with tears as I take in your pain.
I feel my stomach tense as I share your outrage.
Oh, that outrage.

Becoming aware of these physical reactions is the first step to controlling them.

helenjane's internet ailments

The second step? Control my feed of information.

What’s coming in that might be poisoning me?
What toxic hate,
Gossip, and
Constant complaining am I consuming?

You have my permission to unfollow that which makes you feel bad.
I don’t care how good friends you are.
If their stream takes away your precious energy, you have a right to protect yourself.

helenjane's internet ailments

Another way to protect your neck is by remembering these three words, “It’s not about me.”

Your mom broke her hip and had a stroke and your Dad died, but you weren’t close, because you had a bad childhood and I totally understand – and then your kid died and I’m so sorry and every time I read that post I imagine it happening to me because it’s always about me.

Your pain is now about me.
Your pain becomes me.

But on reflection, I realize that I consume this media in isolation so SEEMS LIKE IT’S  about me.
It’s not.

Unless I write it, it’s not about me.
We see it when authors announce book tours, pregnancies, philanthropic efforts

Why wasn’t *I* picked for this?
Instead of, “Good Job.”

helenjane's internet ailments

Why aren’t you coming to Poughkeepsie?
Instead of, “Congrats on the book tour.”

helenjane's internet ailments

Well at least you HAVE a baby…
Instead of, “That must be hard for you.”

helenjane's internet ailments

On the internet it seems like it’s about me, but it’s not.

Pay attention to your body,
control your feed and remember,
it’s not about you.

I’m feeling better already!
Next up?

The Jealousy Map

helenjane's internet ailments

An epidemic of less than on the internet.
It’s impossible to avoid comparison.
When I’m jealous, instead of acting out, I don’t take your opinion seriously because, well, obviously you have it so much easier.

You’re already well-off.
You have a stay at home wife.
You got there first.

You have it so much better than me.

Thanks to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I now use jealousy as a tool.
I make a Jealousy Map.

Make a grid with three columns. Labeled, WHO, WHY and Now WHAT?,

helenjane's internet ailments

Start filling it the WHO with the folks you’re jealous of.
Fill in WHY with the reason you’re jealous and fill in the
NOW WHAT? part with the first thing that jumps to your brain.

helenjane's internet ailments

Some of the “So NOW what’s” come off as so simple they may sound silly.
Don’t let that fool you.
It’s how this tool works.

Oh that familiar jealous sinking in my stomach when I think it means I can’t ever measure up, I take it as a call to action.
Not as the end

Protect your neck
Jealousy Map
We’re on to Tiny Scientists

helenjane's internet ailments

Our internet is barely ten years old. Its current mobile-visual-branded version –  less than five years old.

When I get all judgey and mean about online authors, I stop it cold by thinking of other authors as five year old scientists.

helenjane's internet ailments

Would you be as judgemental and mean to a five year old in a tiny lab coat.
(Like one with a little twitter handle embroidered on it…)
As you are (inside your head, of course) to some other bloggers?

helenjane's internet ailments

I didn’t think so.

helenjane's internet ailments

Think of all of us as little experimenters.

helenjane's internet ailments

Sharing news through a personal lens, this experiment is barely five years old yet we consistently judge people as if they should know better.

helenjane's internet ailments

We’re all just bumbling along in our labs, trying things out publicly.
Let’s use our imagination to appreciate the internet for the experiment it IS.

Since you’re amazing, I’ve decided to share one more bonus tip with you.

We ladies have a unique emotional skill.
We can of add guilt to an already bad feeling.
We slather it on in a thick layer.

helenjane's internet ailments

It’s like a sad feeling club sandwich with bacon of regret, turkey of self-loathing, lettuce of sadness.
It’s bad enough.
And THEN we try to add this, some peanut butter of guilt.

Don’t put the peanut butter on a club sandwich.

helenjane's internet ailments

Don’t put guilt on an already bad feeling.

Feeling bad for feeling bad is something our gender that we can stop.
Starting… now!

helenjane's internet ailments

To sum up:
Our brains are evolving.
Protect your neck and remember: it’s not about me.
Use Jealousy as a tool with a Jealousy Map.
Imagine us as tiny scientists.
Don’t put the peanut butter guilt on a sad club sandwich.

You can find for all your internet ailment relief at helenjane.com and @helenjane.

helenjane's internet ailments

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Healing from Painful Comparison

Record Player
One of the bad feelings I work hard to overcome is the familiar pang of envy. It’s hard to not feel less than on this world wide internet.
It’s impossible not to compare.

See, there’s me, with my hand-me-downs, graham cracker spit stained pants and a digital camera from 2004.

It’s funny, the way I turn my jealousy into blasé dismissal.
(Hi coping strategy!)

I dismiss the people I’m jealous of. I don’t take their opinions seriously because, well, obviouslythey have it so much easier that I do.

I dismiss this person because they live in a town with their parents so they have extra help. I dismiss that person for being well-off. I dismiss that one for having a stay at home wife who raises his kids. I dismiss that one for having such a strong church community behind her and I dismiss that one for having gotten there first.

I envy that one for not having kids and that one for having kids older than mine.
I envy this one for living in a less expensive town and that one for getting to go to all those conferences.

It makes me not take their experiences as authentic because, well, isn’t it so obvious about how much better they have it than me?

Envy makes me sound like a turd.

bouncy

Thankfully, I’ve been learning to deal with it through all my Artist’s Way work. Jealousy is a very accurate map as to what’s missing. When I pay attention to jealousy, I’m much happier.

So how do I get out of the jealousy trap?
I make a jealousy map.

I fold a piece of paper into three columns and write at the top of the first column, “WHO.” On the top of the second column, I write, “WHY” and on the third column, I write “SO NOW WHAT?”

It might look like this:

WHO?

WHY?

SO NOW WHAT?

Ariel Lots of professional success, found her niche. Find my niche.
Jenn Crazy entertaining web site that I’d never have enough time for. Make more time for my entertaining web site.
Aubrey Amazing job, regular paycheck, works with celebrities and events. Find a retainer client or part-time job. Outreach to public figures for my own career.

Some of the “So NOW what’s” come off as so simple they may sound flippant. Don’t let them fool you. It’s actually KISS at work.

Now, when I feel that familiar sinking in my stomach that means I can’t ever possibly measure up, I take it as a call to action.
What is this dismissal/jealousy telling me about what I need to do next?

This little exercise has practically dried up most of the painful comparison I do.

But let’s pretend making this list doesn’t help. You just stare at the names and the reasons and seethe that life has dealt you such a shitty hand.

I keep the following things in mind when I feel I’m not measuring up:
Rooster1. It’s all being sold to us.
We can’t sell without a need. The quickest way to create a need is to inspire a fundamental unease with your customers on the inside.

Your breath! It is bad!
Your weight is wrong!
This season’s spring fashions you just can’t be without (lest you are ridiculed)!

I work in marketing. I work with brands on blogs. I get it. But sometimes when exposed to all those images on the internet, it’s too much keep up the psychic strength. They win. They make me feel that I’m not enough without these items.

It’s also hard for bloggers because that’s the language we’ve grown up consuming. It’s the language we know how to speak in. It’s why the majority of bloggers signed up for this, to make a million dollars a year selling things to people. So we’ve got all these blogs selling their fabulously styled and presented lives to you for maximum brand acceptability.

And it’s making us feel terrible.

2. It’s easier to sell/market/talk about NEW products on your blog. Images for and links to new products are much easier to procure to demonstrate your personal taste. Mood boards, giveaways, they’re all for new stuff. New stuff you probably can’t afford. That constant churn for the need for new stuff is exhausting.

Washing Machine

3. Oh! The quote is trite by now, but everyone is having a hard time of it. Every. Single. Person I know is going through something awful right now. They are the only support person for someone who depends on them, they are having relationship issues, they are healing from abuse, they are dealing with the effects of illness, they are struggling financially. Blogs that only show the good part of life are designed to do just that. It’s only about what we choose to reveal. So let those images buoy you, not drag you down. It’s only a tiny slice of our whole, messy, complicated, and YES, difficult lives.

4. At the very least, don’t go to the sites that make you feel worse about yourself.
(But I need to see my competition! But I need to keep up! But! But! But!)
No.
Don’t visit them.
Add them to your hosts file (how to here) so that you can’t visit them even if you want to.
Don’t go until you feel strong and whole down there in your gut about what you really need.

5. Now this is the obvious Oprah answer but it really does work. When feeling particularly useless in the face of envy, I make a big fat list of all the things I “have” that I love. Products, friends, family, pets, experiences. At least 20 but I’m hoping for more like 100. It works. I feel better. I remember the stuff I DO have that I’m not using, and I come up with better (free) ideas for how to show my gratitude.

Spending all this time consuming details about other people’s lives has not been part of our culture. It’s just a theory, but I don’t think we humans are psychologically ready to be so connected to all the humans in the world.

We need a few tricks and a few reminders that we’re pretty cool the way we are.

So, how do you deal with jealousy online?
Or are you above that?
(If so, I envy you.)

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