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Lessons Learned: Bigg Night In Chicago

With just enough of learning to misquote. – George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron (1788–1824)

It’s always a little difficult to open a post with a quote, but sometimes you have to try. A kernel of knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing and a fact many, myself included, forget all too often. So with that fundamental baseline, I’m in Chicago to learn and meet good folks. Every day represents a new opportunity to drive change, improve your understanding of stuff and develop relationships – day 1 was of SOBCon has provided all 3 for me at least.

The first thing I have learned is we all want to meet others like ourselves and be part of a community. A quick/ad hoc survey of the attendees last night easily represented all four corners of the US and around the world. The diversity in geography is only matched by the diversity in expertise and passions which are distributed amongst the attendees I’ve spoken to so far.

While it seems that the blogosphere is littered with marketing folk and productivity leaders, this meeting represents participants who have diverse editorial agendas – parenting/homeschooling, education/international culture…. While I met a good deal of folks (ok Emily did – she was my introduction wing chick), we spent the majority of the evening engage in just a few coversational circles. It’s not the quantity, but quality and I was able to find some quality insights without a doubt from everyone I spoke to.

One of those more interesting and rewarding conversations was with Mary-Lynn and George, from Bigg Success. So today, I thought I would post the 3 things I learned from Mary-Lynn and George:

  • Cards are good
  • Get ahead of the game
  • Play into your strengths

Cards are Good

Yup I love pinochle, but this reference is about a different type of cards – business cards. Ok – nearly everyone I met reinforced this lesson along the way. Apparently everyone makes their own cards – CRAZY creative cards which convey their focus.

Style, substance and brand are just part of having your own cards, but they also serve the very tactical purpose, follow up. You will invariably meet so many smart, cool and interesting folks throughout an event you can’t possibly remember everyone, even though you try. Essentially it appears that your cards are an extension of your brand.

Lesson learned – get cards – CHECK!

Get ahead of the Game

Last night I spent the better part of the evening honing my introduction pitch. The pitch organically meandered into an overly verbose apology for the lack of business cards while rolling into explaining that I’ve been traveling for three weeks and that my recent content shouldn’t be seen as characteristic of what I’m trying to do at I’m actually not sure what I am trying to do here which is another reason I am here at SOBCon08.

While I did reasonably hone this intro, my sheepish/apologetic intro pitch to George and Mary-Lynn teed up an immediately valuable retort on the importance of staying ahead of the game. George made it pretty straight forward: plan, write, edit and post. Seems simple enough – stay 1-2 weeks ahead. Initially I thought this was uniquely related to audio, since Bigg Success focuses on high quality audio production, but no it’s all things content since all content requires planning and execution. George confirmed this by providing an overview of their hybrid approach leveraging text, audio and newsletters for their readers.

So the key thing to remember for me was to stay ahead of the curve on content production. If I can practice this seemingly straight forward concept, I just might be able to avoid the horrible content holes which continuously creeps up by accident or by conflict here. So hopefully, the conflicts of my life, travel and the absence creativity can be avoided by staying ahead of the game with my content.

Play into your Strengths

So while I have multiple ways to look at this, Mary-Lynn and George put it simple: “We plan, we produce and leverage core skills which makes a better product in our opinion”, or something like that. So I took a little time to think about this. My conclusion – it’s as much about as skills as it is about reputation. The talented folks I have met here already have a common thread/quality – they are leveraging their past experiences to drive credibility and authority.

Bigg Success’ Mary Lynn is an example of this with proven/verifiable career in radio, as is George who brings to bear a life of lesson’s learned in business and an academic approach to sharing the information they provide on their shows. These folks are an example of how we should use our knowledge, skills and integrity to deliver value to our readers/listeners in a medium that best suits a person’s abilities. This is just what they have done.

While video may be killing the radio star, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Bigg Success, they are hopefully at the start of their online hockey stick, but for them it is more than stats.

George crisply summarized what “Bigg Success” would be for he and Mary-Lynn: “If we can help a single person with each program then we have accomplished a big part of why we are doing this”.

L is for LOSER

It’s official I am a LOSER in the SOBCon08 contest. Emily would also say L is for LAME too, but I try not to think about all the negative L-words. So I didn’t win the SOBCon post contest, but I did create some new connections and had a great time doing it. To that end, I’m glad that money is as good as cash, not an exact quote from Yogi Berra, but I was able to register on my own and did so ONLY because of the contest. So Chicago here I come!

So the winner was the Free guest post guy @ New Music Strategies, not sure how he is going to award the guest post to himself, but he apparently has options since he is the WINNER! Congrats! See you then Andrew.

Are YOU going to SOBCon08? Leave a comment to send me a tweet and let me know if you are going to be there.  Look forward to making some new connections before the show in ORD.  SOBCon is going to be great, hope you can make it.

Authority Blogging? Surely not I, YOU?

So Chris Garrett and Liz Strauss have launched a compelling contest which focuses on helping folks understand what it takes to be an authority blogger. This is a great opportunity to drive awareness for the SOBCon08 and Authority Blogger and represents a great opportunity for the community to collaborate. Authority Blogging conjures up a lot of things for me and probably for you as well – personalities, brands and even individual posts which have influenced your understanding. There is just a bunch ways to look at this topic and to position oneself as an authority blogger.

Narrowing Authority

There may be more than a little game theory in folks responses and I spent some time looking at folks posts. This project has already delivered some amazing insights from the participants and it is clear that it is GAME ON!

Content, topics and perceived value are all part of the authority puzzle. Spatially Relevant is a great opportunity for me to share experiences and develop relationships with folks I would not have otherwise and is the main reason I’m even blogging. There is no shortage of opportunity for me to share great content from folks’ I interact with via social media. Y’all provide great tweets and posts to write on. Each authority I follow provides an interesting lens for looking at the segment. It’s the diversity of views in this segment which is completely amazing. I just hope that I can add to the discussion. To that end, I suspect a person’s personal biases can ultimately drive authority.
With at least a directional understanding of authority, it is important to clearly understand the rules of this game should YOU want to participate as well. I’m very appreciative of the contest, since I have been struggling to find something to blog on since my muses aren’t here right now. I now have a topic AND I could get some cool things. What you ask? Here’s the cool stuff:

SOBCon Competition

  1. $1000 budget to pay for SOBCon08 registration and travel expenses
  2. A hour of consulting with Chris Garrett.
  3. The complete Authority Blogger online course.
  4. Meet the speakers.

It’s About the Booty

A fabulous prize package indeed! I’m motivated – YOU? Wait, wait – THAT’S NOT ALL! You can also get a guest blog piece on New Music Strategies and since Music is a tertiary theme here – I couldn’t resist to participate now — like a bug to a flame.

So what is the correct way to tackle this topic? That is now the increasingly more important question which I’m looking to close on by the end of this post. Folks are creating diagrams and generating comprehensive lists in their responses. I’m probably not going to do a list, since Confident Writing has 12 GREAT inspirational items. The great ideas from the folks which is making it difficult to decide on how to write on authority blogging and differentiate.



Bob Younce has an excellent overview on his authority and an about page which was fairly intriguing for me. As a geographer, I am completely interested in where he is from, since he only references mid-Michigan. What is mid-Michigan? Bob’s post has successfully reminded me of a paper I’ve never wrote on what is the definition of the frequently used term “Up North”. Authority bloggers have a unique ability to start conversations and actively participate in conversations with others.


Ain’t too Proud to Pander

I am a little too proud to brag and may never be an Ego on Alltop, but I’m not to proud to suck up. Hmm… sucking up as a component of Authority? So I may have a chance on this whole thing, since this is in fact a core competency for me.



The above image in fact is a subtle suck up, since Chris likes images and has a Canada birth connection. While my vacations to the Bruce Peninsula aren’t as authoritative as Hart’s “Canadian-ness”, but I did co-author a piece on “Canadian regionalism’s impact on the media: A content analysis”, which should raise my Canadian street cred. So I got that going for me… Let’s see how that works….




Building out the concept of authority blogging is a great topic to work on from a project perspective. The great insights on influence and authority which have already been surfaced and are yet to come out of this contest are the key drivers for my wanting to participate in the discussion.

So what is Authority Blogging and why should I be considered an authority blogger? I’m not sure authority blogging is any one thing, or that I’m even able to meaningfully opine on why it should be me, but there are a 3 things which I feel authority blogging is not about:

  1. Ego: I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that ego’s can drive traffic, but not influence. I find myself linking to really insightful content from non-ego folk who provide a thought provoking take on a subject.
  2. The amount/size of Content: Very often the amount of content is confused with authority. Some of the most authoritative things online are published in under 140 characters on twitter and isn’t a fleshed out, but a query or insight which makes you THINK.
  3. It is NOT a metric: Not links, not technorati ranks, not page views. A single post can be more influential than anything – where is YOURS?

So if authority isn’t driven from those things, it only leaves me with two things it might be or that I might have. A passion to share and willingness to engage. It would be great to do an interview and to get some open feedback on how to improve my blogging from Chris, but it would for anyone.   Authority is as authority does and below are some folks YOU should know and who should participate too: