Posts Tagged with show
4
On sucking it up for social media success

Social snobbery is lame. (Flickr credit: illuminaut)

Every so often, you hear something that is just so contrarian—so radically counterintuitive—you assume it must be true without really weighing its veracity against the alternative you once took for granted. Sometime last year, I started believing, if only for an instant, that work and passion were somehow mutually exclusive in the “real world”. Yeah, I was wrong (see: dream job). But I think I know now the tiny sliver of truth I was picking up on then.

The way people talk about social media, you’d think they took public speaking lessons from Double Rainbow Guy. The language we use is often vague, but just as often it seems almost freakishly optimistic.  Others notice this, too. There are even scripts to remove “excessive exclamation points” from your web experience (!!!). So when I first heard people discussing how one could earn a healthy income for their work in something as cool as social, the skeptic in me stirred to life. Turns out it was a false alarm, but an appropriate reaction. Over that last year, I’ve realized that anyone that tells you real work can’t possibly be fun, that the work that matters is boring, chose the wrong career.

At the same time, I’ve become annoyed by people that idealize work in social media as something sacred or fulfilling in a way other professions aren’t. Awesome jobs are still jobs. Go to any social media conference filled with people like me, and you’ll hear things like:

  • Don’t publish any content you wouldn’t read yourself!
  • The best content wins in the end!
  • Just be yourself!

I won’t dismiss any of these guidelines outright. Each has its own wisdom, and I almost always side with those who preach quality over quantity. But most of us in social media aren’t in it strictly as a matter of self-fulfillment—we work for someone else, whether it’s our boss or our clients. And as such, we have our orders. We’re to generate leads. We’re to bolster customer loyalty. We’re to meet our deadlines.

Any one of these orders may require that we do things that conflict with our social media “values,” the best practices we accept, or even the things we preach as speakers. You might think list posts are gimmicky, for instance, but if that’s what’s getting qualified prospects to enter your company’s pipeline, you’d better write them. You might not personally like what your coworker handed you for editing, but if it’s the kind of content that helps your company meet its social goals, you’ll need to hit that publish button eventually.

If you’re lucky enough to work in social media, don’t turn your nose up at those that “don’t get it”. You have an awesome job (remember how bad you wanted it?) and you need to perform, not worry about the artistic purity of your work. Let passion fuel excellence, not elitism.

Suck it up!

8
Curation, attention deficit and the exaflood

Overwhelmed by a conversation about being overwhelmed.

I have a column in Tweetdeck devoted to all mentions of “curation”. Added shortly before I started searching for a working definition of curation, it was the perfect solution to the problem of keeping up with all the latest murmurings on a topic that continues to fascinate me. Content on the subject was being published at a digestible pace, and it seemed we all had time to reflect, analyze and, if we cared to do so, publish our own thoughts, either in comments or on our blogs. Of course, there has always been noise—automated, RSS-fed or query-driven bots aren’t easy to filter out, and this is the path that many feel will lead to success in social media. Nor are the digital brown-nosers, retweeting verbatim the words of their chosen gurus, without adding anything at all of value. But even with these annoyances, the curation conversation stream, it seems in retrospect, was relatively clear, lively and exciting.

This week, I realized that I’m no longer able to follow and participate as easily as just a few months ago. Indeed, since my first curation-related post on June 11th of this year, 3,996 additional posts, whose titles contain the phrase “curation”, have been published on blogs across the social web.

From this Neil Perkin piece, we get a quote by Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

“Between the dawn of civilisation and 2003, five exabytes of information were created. In the last two days, five exabytes of information have been created, and that rate is accelerating”.

“Exaflood” is a term coined by Brett Swanson, and it’s an interesting way to imagine what we’re up against, from both the infrastructural and intellectual perspectives.

A familiar feeling sets in—that of being overwhelmed by possibilities.

Ask anyone that truly knows me: I have too many ideas for my own good. These ideas are just as often great as they are a distraction from other ideas, more worthy of my devotion. But singular devotion has never been fully possible for me, the way that you’ll meet someone every so often that tells you they knew they wanted to be a firefighter since they were 6 years old—and followed through with this dream to its fruition.  Maybe this condition is merely symptomatic of my lifelong struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. I’m probably just more predisposed to being overwhelmed in this way, and my ADD exacerbates it to the point that I spread myself far too thin, putting in a little work here, a little development there, some planning for this and that, while ultimately getting nowhere with anything. My two biggest achievements thus far in life (degree from UT and Social Media Manager job at Bazaarvoice) came through a willing, conscious effort to maintain a sustained focus that is uncomfortably contrary to my nature.

That itch feels familiar… (A panel from "Calliope", written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Kelley Jones & Malcolm Jones III)

In Neil Gaiman’s story, “Calliope”, his Sandman character casts a deeply-debilitating spell on a human villain: that of an unyielding, constant barrage of good ideas. Without the ability to execute on them, our villain feels bludgeoned by them. To a far lesser extent, I can identify. Before seeing a thought through to its resolution or transformation into something of value, I tend to encounter another “shiny” thought and pursue it with the intellectual excitement I once had for the thought I now abandon. People without ADD encounter this, too. In a sense, social media has led us here, to a place where we all feel overwhelmed to various degrees. Perhaps others don’t become quite as overwhelmed, but none of us possess the mental resources to categorize and process the swirling mix of ideas that spins around us nearly every time we interact via social media. It’s impossible.

One of the reasons we create, more than in any other time in history, is because we have been given access through technology to millions upon millions of others—a potential audience that didn’t and couldn’t exist before the Web and social media. So now that our creative endeavors don’t have to remain our little secret; now that we can almost guarantee that our work will be seen, we are driven to create it at a feverish tempo, and driven to share it with as many people as we’re able. Similarly, now that we have access to this fire hose of information that contains, somewhere in the stream, the stuff we’re really after, we become fixated. After awhile, we become overwhelmed.

Curation maximizes cognitive efficiency.

Our typical style of consumption:

  1. We turn on the fire hose (Twitter, Alltop, whatever)
  2. We adjust the signal (try to create streams more suited to our tastes, make columns in our Twitter clients)
  3. We simultaneously absorb and refine—but it’s still too much

The ultimate promise of curation:

  1. We are delivered only the content that meets our predefined criteria (and it’s enough to digest without being overwhelmed)

We’re not there yet.

That much is obvious. But I’m seeing some promising, if scattered, developments that indicate we’re well on our way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I see something shiny I simply must attend to.

Bonus! Ian’s latest recommended reading on content curation:

  1. Content Curation for Twitter: How to be a thought leader DJ
  2. Content & Curation: An epic poem
  3. Disposable Content
6
Don’t be “that guy” in social media

Social Media Day was a rollicking good time, and my friends at Pinqued couldn’t have done a better job. And still, that guy showed up. This time, he took the form of a Clear Wireless salesman that stood out like a Bush ’04 bumper sticker on the back of a San Francisco Volvo. But even if you weren’t there, and didn’t meet our shiny-toothed sales schmuck, you’ve met that guy before. He’s the guy at the wedding that tries to rope you into his surefire pyramid scheme. He’s the hustler on the subway that makes you pretend you don’t speak English so he’ll avoid talking to you. He’s your cousin that asks you for a payday loan when you know he doesn’t have a payday coming.

Social media makes it easier than ever to become that guy.

For most of my career, I’ve been a salesman. I don’t do it anymore, because I constantly felt like I was overstepping my bounds to get the close, using “real” relationships to rake it in. Social media made my life easier. I was a hundred times more ballsy, brazen, charming and, ultimately, believable when I was selling via the social web. Heck, I was good at tweeting, blogging and pinging people, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

But when you stop hearing the click of the phone and the “not interested”, you may start to think everyone likes you. Hardly anyone’s going to chew you out over Twitter for being too pushy—they’ll probably just ignore you, or keep their replies short and polite. Culturally, social media is much different than the real world. You have to be an utter jerk to catch serious flak on your blog or someone else’s. A general politeness abounds, probably because our online utterances are public and exist permanently in various databases and files.

Don’t mistake that @reply for a relationship.

I have met seriously good friends through social media and related events. But just like all relationships of substance, I put in the time to get to know them. By traditional social standards, before you ask someone for a favor, you get to a place in your relationship where it doesn’t feel like you’re unduly burdening them, or at which you have the means to somehow reciprocate for the larger requests.

Damn if I didn’t ask for favors from people I met during my social media job search. Usually it was just a reference, or some phone advice, or for input on my Facebook ads. Occasionally, an existing friend would make an introduction to someone I “should know”, and we’d grab coffee. Even then, I was hypersensitive to crossing the line. But people like Grant Turck, who had been through it all before me, were more than happy to help. In all likelihood, I could have asked a bit more of people without rubbing them the wrong way.

And then you see those people with that look in their eye. It’s not determination, or a can-do freakin’ attitude. It’s the “how can I use those in this room” look. They’re the ones that approach you because of who you work for or who you know, without any thought as to who you are. All that matters to them is that you’re a potential asset.

  • They don’t ask you to grab coffee with them, they expect you to.
  • They talk more about themselves and their connections than they listen and learn.
  • They tell you, flabbergasted, that they applied for your job, but were rejected—and oh, by the way, can you help them get another at your company?
  • They tell you how many followers on Twitter they have before they tell you why the hell that should matter to employers.

Why do they think you’re on their team? Because you have interacted in the social space in some way that wasn’t negative. That’s not a relationship. That’s simply the lack of an adversarial relationship. Because I’m not going to call you out for bugging me on Twitter, trying to sell me stuff I don’t want, for instance, in the same way I’d do so if you shoved flyers in my face or called me on my cell about time shares. It just doesn’t work like that.

Being the guy to talk to feels great.

How can I complain? After all, I’ve written much of these posts on finding jobs in social media in order to help others. And I understand if that’s not enough, and if people want to get additional, specific advice. My priority is going to be helping those that take the time to know me, to do things like comment on my blog, or attend an event I’m promoting. But I’ll never want to help those that have that look in their eye. Although they are few in number relative to the cool people I meet everyday, they’re especially prominent in social media, where the boundaries are blurred.

Use the phone test.

Every time you’re about to ask for something from someone (like I did 100 times during my job search), ask yourself this: Would I feel comfortable picking up the phone and doing this? And if so, how would I expect them to respond if I did?

5
Content curation: Definition before innovation?

Although I’m right in the thick of the content curation definition debate, I’m starting to think it’s fundamentally a distraction from real innovation. It’s a bit like beginning a project by holding a meeting in which all you do is plan future meetings that will—ostensibly— lead to project completion. Maybe we should focus more on doing, and less on defining. What content curation “means” will sort itself out once we see more and more good work that can’t really be called anything else.

Book on Table

Are we "doers" or "definers'? Or can we be both? (photo credit: flickr's alexbrn)

And isn’t this how we should want it? This is the Internet, after all, and we’re not particularly into fixed definitions, unbreakable rules or governing bodies.  Consensus, orthodoxy and formulas don’t interest me, nor do they interest those in this world on the bleeding edge of innovation. I don’t think it’s really a dichotomy, either; talking about curation and actually doing it well aren’t mutually exclusive. But my sense is that the people that will truly lead in whatever content curation becomes are doing a lot more walking than talking, even if they’ll engage every so often in a little public thinking out loud on the subject.

These are the guys that are letting the conversation swirl around them while they tinker away on something about which we’ll soon say, “now that’s curation,” in the same way we say, “now that’s a car” when we take a spin in our friend’s new Audi. Of course, there will always be those things we can point to and say, “sure, that’s curation, too,” which we might follow up with, “but it’s no X”. Because a real, holistic definition isn’t just something we apply to the best-in-breed—there will always be unremarkable and uninspired curation out there, and it’s important that we apply the term to even the stuff that doesn’t wow us. Bad art is still art, bad music is still music.

The doubters and critics of the promise of curation seem to apply the term almost exclusively to “bad” examples, whether they exist yet or not. For instance, Paul Bradshaw quotes a museum curator that dismisses content curation as nothing more than “selecting”, a sentiment with which many (including myself) would disagree. And so the term curation also risks becoming unfairly pejorative.

That’s it for now. What say you?

2
Unobtrusive pop-up surveys for your blog? Try KISSinsights

I’ve been wondering a lot lately about the readership of my company’s social commerce blog. Who are they? Where did they come from? Which type of content are they looking for? Recent findings, like one that found that “80% of blog traffic comes from first-time visitors“, have only made me more curious.

Ways of asking for feed back online tend to be annoying, ineffective and ugly as sin. So imagine my surprise when I came across a toned-down and unobtrusive pop-up survey on my friend’s excellent real estate industry blog. It took me all of 10 seconds to fill out, and I pinged him immediately after to learn whether the surveys had been effective–they had.

So I signed up for the white label version of KISSinsights ($19/mo., required for more than 30 survey responses per month) and gave it a shot. Installation on our WordPress  blog was a 10-minute breeze, and setting up the first survey was equally painless.

You’re able to choose between a single-answer survey with radial buttons, a multi-answer survey with check boxes and a text-based answer field. Any answer respondents choose can expand to request additional information, which we’ve been using for the “Other” option. Once answered, the survey will not pop up again for returning visitors, and once minimized, it will remain minimized.

What do you want to know?

photo credit: flickr user bisgovuk

Here’s where it gets really cool. Each unique URL on your site can feature a different survey, so it’s easy to get super-specific feedback on each post (just like I did here). On a post about defining content curation, for example, you might ask readers to provide their own definition. Say you’d like to conduct a larger study of your blog’s readership. KISSinsights also lets you assign surveys by subfolder, so that any page within a specific subfolder features a survey, without you having to manually assign one survey to each page within your blog.

Bloggers are given remarkably flexible control over when, if and how a survey displays. Under “Who should be prompted to take this survey?”, we’re allowed these options:

  • Anyone
  • Only returning visitors
  • Anyone who has already visited at least X pages on your website
  • Signed in users
  • Users that have been viewing the page for X seconds
  • Continue showing  even if the person has already answered this survey

Once a survey has been answered, the respondent can even be prompted to follow you on Twitter, or to Like your post on Facebook.

Aesthetically, KISSinsights is superior to almost any other survey option I’ve encountered. In it’s current iteration, you’re only given a choice between dark and light color schemes, but both are attractive and neutral enough to look good on almost any blog.

Response rates on the Bazaarvoice blog have hovered between 2-5%, but our traffic is strong enough that we’re still able to gather some meaningful data. KISSinsights has a decent user interface, within which you can see a breakdown of responses by percentage and number, an IP log, which browsers were used, the referring URLs, as well as which page was being viewed when the survey was filled out.

After exporting an analyzing results from our first two-week survey run, we’re ready to begin optimizing accordingly. Instant feedback makes for instant optimization. I can’t wait to learn more about our readers.

2
What corporate blogs can learn from the world’s best ads

The best ads don’t feel like ads. They don’t set off those “someone’s trying to sell me something” alarm bells that grow more acute as we mature. They stand on their own, as distinct works that punctuate the worthlessness of the other messages we encounter daily.

The best corporate blogs give to their readers before they request anything–even a click. They provide enough value, in whatever form, that readers won’t lament the time they spent on them.

In both cases, we consumers are cognizant, at some level, of the fact that we’re being marketed to.  But if it doesn’t feel like it, we don’t care. What we’re taking in is well worth an increase in exposure to those “marketing rays” we normally try to dodge. And we even turn those rays on our friends without the slightest hesitation, because we know they’ll enjoy it, too. That’s good content.

In both cases, the consumer willfully suspends disbelief and gives you the stage. The following ads do the same.

They’ve got us thinking in the first few frames: What’s being said about Russia? By pairing the familiar, traditional images of nested dolls with violence, we’re led to question the notions we commonly have of the new, “free” Russia.

Lesson: The best corporate blogs offer a different take on popular themes.


This ad is about us. We are experiencing the drive from the most familiar of perspectives–our own. Naturally, we associate this pleasant, personal experience with Honda, the brand that delivered it to us.

Lesson: The best corporate blogs are about their readers.


Nike lives in the same world we do. It’s not just telling us this and hoping we’ll bite. It’s showing us, by giving us something great and getting the hell out of the way. Nike understands that we’ll associate their brand with what they give us, and they don’t have to keep reminding us as if we owe them something.

Lesson: The best corporate blogs demonstrate a grasp of their readers’ needs, desires and pain-points.


A story told through search terms? The ad has us thinking of Google in a new way, by showing us just how important something we do every day can be. We believe so much more readily when a relatable story is told.

Lesson: The best corporate blogs transform mundane detail and static copy into stories we understand.


12
Am I curating yet? Drawing the lines between creation, aggregation and curation

The tweet below sums up what I suspect many of us feel about the debate surrounding creation, aggregation, and curation.


I think the word “curate” needs some curation…. RT @: CEO of @: “Content is king” is dead. Now, “curation is king.” #iwny
@tbiz
tbiz


This might sound strange, but I know I’m a fan of curation even though I’m not quite sure what it means—anymore. I thought I knew, until I started digging deeper and deeper, trying to locate the line in the sand between what I thought was curation, and the ostensibly less creative/valuable/fair (take your pick) process of aggregation. So where is the line? Can there ever be a standard, accepted definition for curation? I think it’s close to universally recognized that Google News, for instance,  has been in the aggregation box. But is that still true given this latest development (see tweet below)?


Love this GNews — it’s not curation by select few, recommendation, crowdsourced aggregation — but combo of all those: http://bit.ly/dqee2U
@vanityfairer
Vanity Fair Wayfarer


If you think, as I do, that the mere act of editing adds value, does Google’s new test of human selection vs. algorithmic feed pass from the realm of “mere” aggregation into curation territory? How much value do we have to add before we call ourselves curators?

Brian Solis thinks that filtering for relevance is one of the best ways we can pare down the constant flux of our real-time social streams into digestible, attention-worthy content packages:

But relatively simple ways of meeting these basic filtering requirements have been around since social media came into the mainstream. Brian seems to be saying that it takes something else, an additional element, to make that leap from aggregation to curation. And when even Brian struggles to articulate what that secret sauce is, it’s safe to say that the question is nowhere near resolution.

Robert Scoble defines the curator as

… an information chemist. He or she mixes atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.

Even if we don’t quite know what it is, we know we want it.

Consider this:

Throughout this post, I’ve featured what I see as germane bits of conversations from around the Web. I’ve used them to illustrate the questions I’m asking, and I’ve added my personal take or reaction to each. It’s pretty clear, to me at least, that I’m therefore engaging in curation.

But what if I did this? (Click here and come right back)

Would I then be a curator or an aggregator? Was the act of selecting this particular grouping of content and then presenting it all in one place enough to clear the gap between the two? I don’t have the answer.

But my point—yeah, I have one—is that we seem to be staggeringly far from the answer, despite our best attempts. Maybe it’s one of the core issues we are trying to address with curation, exponential information growth, that is ultimately keeping us from agreeing on its definition.

Special thanks to @robinsloan for creating Blackbird Pie. The tool was exactly what I needed for this post.

6
The Social Media Resentment Factor

Hang around others in my line of work long enough, and you’ll notice they aren’t chomping at the bit to tell people they work in social media. I’m beginning to understand why. It’s kind of like telling people you’re a sommelier—many do not know the work exists; those that do don’t comprehend what it can entail.

“Isn’t that the guy that picks out wine for you in a restaurant?”

“Isn’t that, like, doing Facebook and Twitter?”

Can you understand why I’ve started to just say “marketing” unless people inquire further? It’s not that the two questions above have it all wrong; they don’t, really. Sommeliers do, in fact, help patrons pick wines in restaurants. Social media managers do, in fact “do” Facebook and Twitter. It’s the thinking behind the question that gets tiresome. The thinking, most of the time, is this:

This person doesn’t have a real job.

-or-

What’s so special about this person that they have this job? It’s not rocket science.

It’s not. Neither is accounting, or estate law or inside sales. But don’t tell me that I don’t have a real job. And don’t tell me that I don’t deserve my job, or that you could do it better.

There is a need for expertise in social media. This is not to say that every company needs to hire a social media expert. Nor is it to say that the vast majority of those calling themselves “social media experts” aren’t simply opportunists who lack the acumen needed in this space. Social media is young and constantly evolving, devolving, changing, defining itself. Expertise can’t be static, or handed out via college degree. But don’t tell me there aren’t experts out there that should be respected as such.

I understand that whatever is on top will be maligned by those that can’t grasp it or don’t have it in them anymore to get there. Social media is on top, it’s hot, it’s all the rage and everyone’s doing it. Like any professional space with low barriers to entry—real estate, the arts, etc.—the successful 10% will outshine the unsuccessful 90%, creating just enough light to attract eager hopefuls, but, inevitably, a shadow large enough to hide a lot of hard realities about what exactly it takes to “make it”. Social media isn’t there yet, but it will be, for better or for worse. So there will always be suspicion of success, comparative resentment, frustration and underhanded remarks like, “We can’t all get paid to play on Facebook.”

If that was truly all I did—play around on Facebook—to make a living, would you blame me for doing it? Forget the fact that I don’t personally even enjoy Facebook, or that thinking about or studying Facebook makes up perhaps a quarter of one percent of my average work week. These inconvenient facts don’t matter to the person that has already decided you don’t work hard or have it easy. They have already decided not to respect the way you make a living, and it has a lot more to do with them than you. And I can understand this, and I can forgive this.

But until someone takes what I do seriously, I have no reason to take them seriously.

6
5 causes just as likely as the one @danzarrella seemingly picked out of a hat
368 - Cell Texture

What are we really seeing?

I’m not going to explain the scientific method to someone that describes himself as “The Social Media Scientist.” In fact, I have enormous respect for Dan Zarrella and Hubspot, and I know he understands it. So why he writes an article like Twitter Accounts with a Profile Picture Have 10 Times More Followers Than Those Without beats the hell out of me.

Bottom line is, you can’t notice a correlation between two things and then assert one is the cause of the other without eliminating other possibilities.

Here is where he asserts causation: Effect of Profile Picture on Followers [emphasis mine].

Oh, and here, too: “…if you want to get followers on Twitter, it’s a good idea to upload a picture of yourself.”

And here are 5 likely alternative explanations for the correlation Dan noticed.

  1. Number of tweets. Maybe those without pictures tend to tweet less, and it is the latter variable that is causing their lack of followers.
  2. Spammy content. Maybe those without pictures tend to tweet spam more often, and it is the latter variable that is causing their lack of followers.
  3. Age: Maybe those without pictures tend to be newer accounts, and it is the latter variable that is causing their lack of followers.
  4. Location: Maybe those without pictures tend to live in locations where Twitter use is less common, and it is the latter variable that is causing their lack of followers.
  5. Lack of effort: Maybe those without pictures tend to put less effort into acquiring followers, and it is this latter variable that is causing their lack of followers.

I could go on and on. But that’s where you come in! Extra points for funny hypotheses left in comments.

As I’ve said before, Dan noticed something interesting here just by sharing the correlation he found. That alone was worthy of a blog post and perhaps a larger conversation. I don’t understand why he had to then jump to a conclusion and taint the larger effort. I really don’t. Based on our conversation (click “show conversation” after jump), he doesn’t seem to think there’s a problem with what he did. Cognitive dissonance? Who knows?

Remember, I’m writing this because I’m a fan, and posts like this might help influencers like Dan get better—and by extension, our study of the social media universe can improve. But I won’t say posts like this will do much of anything. That, after all, would be assuming causation :-).

14
Willing what doesn’t come easy (and remembering what it took)

As you might have heard by now, I got the job at Bazaarvoice. I’ll be their first Social Media Manager, and the work so far has been every bit as exciting and challenging as I had imagined. It was, literally, the “dream job” in “How I’m Using Facebook Ads to Find My Dream Job.”

How I did it:

I got scrappy to win. I had to relearn the focus techniques that helped me rise above the very real, very difficult ADHD I’ve always struggled with–the same methods that let me beat the odds at UT and even become, of all things, a study habits tutor for the University. The week before my final interview I buried myself in those very same stacks every day and methodically prepared. That’s not easy for me. Singular, sustained focus is foreign to my DNA. But just like I did before every test of every semester, I told my DNA to go screw itself and willed it.

I made uncomfortable choices. There were two fantastic offers on the table by the time I even scheduled my final Bazaarvoice interview, and I was waiting to hear back from two other interviews that went well. Yeah, it was a “good problem to have”. But it didn’t make it any easier to decide. In my life, hedging bets has never worked. Neither has taking the safe one. I had to tell these incredible people that I had met, all of whom had gone out of their way to reach out and offer me a way out of this jobless, moneyless slump I was in, “no thanks”. I had to tell my family, “I got a great offer today, but I’m not going to take it because there’s a chance I’ll still get the one true gig.” I asked nearly everyone I cared about, “Am I making the right choice by taking this risk?,” and everyone I cared about answered back in the most honest way they could, “Will you be happy if you don’t?” The answer was clear and it was “No.”

I asked favors of people I had no right to ask. After the first couple pride-swallowing phone calls, I realized that people want to help. Maybe they were rooting for the underdog, or had other reasons, but I decided to stop asking why someone would help me and just ask them already. No one let me down.

What I won’t do now:

Forget the people that helped me. People, if you’re reading this and you don’t know it already, I’m there for you whenever you need it and I owe you a whole lot more than a pretty thank you card. Just name it.

Rest on my laurels. When someone hires you, they’re giving you a chance and nothing more. I may have worked hard to get this gig, but I’ll work even harder to make sure no one ever thinks twice about why they hired a 25-year-old comic book geek to steer one of Austin’s great startup success stories through the social media universe. I’m going to earn every damn paycheck.

Forget what it was like. To not have a job or a dollar in the bank. To doubt myself and wonder, “how are you gonna screw this up now, Ian?” To ask my girlfriend why the hell she chose me over the blue-blooded frat boy on the partner track. To apply to the temp agency. To max out my credit cards. To wonder if my family was telling the truth when they said they were proud of me.

No, I’ll remember it all when that kid I’m interviewing someday can’t stop his hands from shaking or looks away when I ask him about a gap in his resume or stutters or pronounces my name “Green-lay”. “That was me, not so long ago,” I’ll think. And I’ll tell him, “you’re doing just fine, now tell me…”

I’ll earn that moment, and I’ll give him that chance to earn his, too.

1