5 Lessons From My Own Stupidity

As you all well know, I believe that Gini Dietrich is a giant pile of awesome. She’s a great person, a great mind and is extremely generous with her time and advice. Today she took things to a new level by letting me run rough shot on her excellent PR and Social Media blog, Spin Sucks. After a joking exchange between Gini and Marcus Sheridan on Twitter, I was inspired to pen what is easily the most off the wall thing I’ve written and shared to date.

Here’s a little taste for those who haven’t read the full post:

Every day, Gini Dietrich leads you to believe that she is kind enough to provide others an opportunity to give their voice on this blog; to share in her audience.

This is a flat out lie. Having been a long time reader of Spin Sucks, there is one clear and, frankly, sinister intent for Gini’s so-called generosity… she gets to trounce us all in sheer volume of comments.

I really had two goals1 in mind for this post, 1) To have a little bit of fun (mission accomplished) and 2) To talk about what it takes for a newer voice to get attention and feedback (mission SO NOT accomplished). I went big and while many who have commented on the post seemed to have enjoyed themselves (379 comments as of this writing), I feels as if nearly everyone missed the few serious points I was trying to make.

This got me thinking and before I knew it, I had a list of things I’ve learned from the experience:

Be Careful What You Ask For – More specifically, be careful how you ask for it. I asked for comments and I sure as hell got them. What I didn’t always get was relevant comments (well they were relevant to the first point, but missed the second entirely), the game overtook the message and quantity kicked qualities ass2.

Kill Fluff In Favor Of Clarity3 – I am SO guilty of this it is not even funny. I care so much (read: too much) about the writing and about the voice and I often let that kill the point. We are so busy trying to get attention that we often lose site of what we actually want people to hear. Be bold, don’t be afraid to try things but always make sure to be clear and drive your point home.

Have A Little Fun Every Now And Again – One thing that surprised me was how many people were just completly lost by what I was trying to accomplish. Sure I wanted there to be a point. I went out of my way to infuse the post with some actionable insights, but the main goal was to get people to let their hair down. Taking things seriously is important, but if you can’t let that go for a few minutes and have some fun, life is going to be pretty darn boring.

Play to Win Even If It Is Stupid – Even if you chose to go stupid, you still have to take it seriously. Dumb as the goal of getting more comments in a day than Gini was, I was going to do it. Even if it killed me. While I probably need to spend my time thinking up some better goals, I set my sights on something and I attacked it with a fervor (and with a good bit of help from guys like [Marcus], Jack and Howie). No matter what you play at, play to win.

You’ll Find Insights In The Inane – Sure the whole thing was silly, but I learned a lot from the whole experience. I learned more about everyone who commented, I learned all of the points I’m sharing here and I will continue to learn from many of the people I connected with through today’s little exercise. It’s easy to dismiss something as stupid (I’m as guilty of this as anyone), but isn’t it far more interesting to try and learn from the unexpected?

Thanks again to everyone who showed up and commented over at Spin Sucks (and feel free to keep the party going), you are amazing. And Gini, the fact that you would even let me do this in the first place speaks volumes4. You are an amazing sport and thank you for bringing us all together for a good bit of fun.

How about you? What was the last bit of smarts that you picked up from being stupid?


  1. Well, three if you count jokingly putting Gini in her place…  

  2. Although some of them are pretty damn funny!  

  3. Or at least reduce it.  

  4. Or just as likely raises questions.  

34 Responses to 5 Lessons From My Own Stupidity

  1. I tried to make a good point, but it got drowned out in the noise. I guess I am not that good at being heard as you are. I have posts out there that I am waiting word on, but nothing definite. I also don’t want to push too hard and alienate anyone. For me, this stuff is all a balancing act. I am still learning where the lines are. I tried and failed to say that last night.

    That is why I joked about being underestimated. :)

    • Don’t take it personally, I’m just really, really, REALLY loud! Besides, still a big difference between being heard and saying something important. Good at the first, working on the second.

      As for alienating, I go the other way. I’d rather get rid of everyone in order to talk to someone. I’d rather the right small group than the wrong big one. Hard to really say anything when you are trying to please everyone (at least it is for me). 

      It’s totally a balancing act and one that I constantly stumble with, but still fun to err and correct along the way!

      And for the record, I never underestimate you, but again… that could be because of the bat.

    • You tried to make a good point on his guest blog post?! It definitely got drowned out in the noise. As for your own guest blog for us, it’s completely my fault it hasn’t run yet. Lisa asked me to spend some time with it, and with you, and I just haven’t had a chance yet. So I promise it has nothing to do with you. It just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my list because my focus, right now, is on meeting our financial goals. But I promise I haven’t forgotten about it.

      • Well, I am happy to hear that. I got sent something that would be something I may blog about but have no idea how to go about it. It is an issue that needs “delicate” handling – I can be a bit of a bull in a china shop. :) I will email you about it. It is essentially about some Rep. saying that women who get date raped/sexually assaulted are “asking for it” if they go out dressed sexy. it may be too delicate for me. :)

  2. I thought you were joking, and I loved it, hence my snarky comment that day. But look on the bright side – you can do Another guest post talking about the point you were trying to make more seriously, and now everyone already there knows who are you if they didn’t already.

    Even though you only really got the fun part done, I see it as something to put in the win column, because you laid a foundation to build from – not everyone can pull off the “let’s have some fun” vibe in text. That’s particularly tricky.

  3. Today the likes of Howie and Danny are running around, making it silly and yes, totally funny.. I’ve even piled on a couple, just for kicks. I got your post Michael, but by the time I got there the comments were all fun, games so I didn’t see my ‘real’ comment being helpful. I’ve learned that one before: share my ‘good’ comment before the blogjack or it’s not likely to get much attention. Plus on the Livefyre system, it’ll get gobbled up quickly with all the updates. I like the fun, good to let the hair down but yes, clarity and quality over fluff if we can’t have both. 

    As to your original point, when I have time I make the effort to read and share the guest posts just as much as my own but it won’t always happen. IDK I think it’s just that lurkers, occasional commenters, those outside marketing and PR.. these are the types more interested in engaging with Gini since she’s the Big Kahuna. 

    As to finding insights in my own stupidity, I’d be here all day tackling that one. I’ll just say that THAT is the #1 lesson: look at our screw-ups, see what we did wrong, learn something. FWIW.

    • Thanks! Glad it wasn’t totally lost and I agree, the time for serious comments went quickly out the window with talk of bacon :)

      Livefyre is quite the interesting animal, it certainly would not have been possible to pull that off without it. Marcus has some interesting points over at The Sales Lion today: Is Livefyre Destroying the Value of a Blog Comment?

      There is no doubt that Gini is a draw and deserves every last comment she gets. Just know how hard it is to get one of these off the ground and figured a friendly nudge to look outside the usual wouldn’t hurt!

      Damn straight on looking at our screw-ups, but I don’t think it needs to be anything as dramatic as a win or a loss to learn. For me #1 is similar, but a bit broader. Think about what you did, the good, the bad and the ugly and learn from all of them!

      Thanks for the thoughts and for playing along yesterday!

      • I’ve read, commented and RT’d Marcus’ post .. I have mixed feelings on Livefyre. Really thing it depends, per your post yesterday .. the community, the blog, everything. Fun to see and hey, you got another good post out of it.

        • Never a bad thing to get a blog post out of it! I happen to love the team over at Livefyre. I think Jenna in particular is great, but there are two things that keep me from diving in. The product is still a little ADHD, but I think they will rein that in over time and I can’t deal with the fact that you can’t respond via email. Just doesn’t play in my world.

      • I’ve read, commented and RT’d Marcus’ post .. I have mixed feelings on Livefyre. Really thing it depends, per your post yesterday .. the community, the blog, everything. Fun to see and hey, you got another good post out of it.

  4. Great post.  “We are so busy trying to get attention that we often lose site of what we actually want people to hear.”  I just struggled with this when writing a guest blog post today… I was so worried about how I would sound that it took me 5x longer than it should have to configure my post into something readable and, well, understandable.  Thanks for the reminder to relax and have more fun:). 

    • My pleasure, although I feel your pain there. Sometimes I sit there and just nit pick to death. I always go back to the idea that perfection is the enemy of done and try to hit publish. Still want it to be good and useful, but it gets easy to convince yourself something isn’t ready for primetime when it is. I actually think @TheJackB:disqus had a really great take on this over at his blog today Write What You Know. Even when it may not be right, he still hits publish unless it is terrible. Interesting approach!

      • Curation was SO important for me here. I got patterned into hitting the publish button on other peoples ideas and somehow that made hitting publish on my own all the easier.

  5. Thanks Michael. (Almost called you Mark, again)  I thought it was great.  I love interjecting humor into the blog posts.  Most people seem to get it and some are just funnny and crazy as hell.  Yours truly, Bill D. and Gini come to mind and you, too, now Michael (it is Michael, right ?)  Life gets a little serious and difficult at times.  It was a welcome relief to just cut loose and have some Fun.  Thanks again.

    Al

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