[Advice] 3 Stages to Launch – Part 2

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Marketing for Peace Builders, Old Posts

There are three hard parts to launching any peace building project:

The first hard part is attaining technical knowledge (i.e. getting a degree, getting experience, phoning a friend, etc.).

When launching a peace building project, the savvy peace builder often doesn’t think too hard about the first part. In peace building fields from mediation to law, attaining technical knowledge is considered a rite of passage. Which is why peace building is so dominated by the presence of volunteer labor at one end (mediation) and highly paid labor at the other end (litigation) and there is a squeeze in the middle. As a result, many peace building practitioners continue to fund a self-perpetuating economy of training and certifications, rather than doing and experiences. This is a hamster wheel for another reason: The training and certifications are to reinsure that the peace builder continues to remain proficient in old skills they already know and practice (i.e. mediation skills) rather than training and certifying them in new skills that might be uncomfortable fro them to learn and practice (i.e. marketing, sales and business development).

The second hard part is getting the hardware together and attaining a certain level of comfort with it, particularly if it is new.

When launching a peace building project, learning new hardware (or software in the case of many entrepreneurial peace builders) is the second hardest part. Admittedly, there are ton of applications and software solutions that can be cobbled together to create the operational infrastructure for a functioning business model. But too often peace builders (as do many other entrepreneurs) become so focused on avoiding learning the new application (or fiddling with it constantly) that they miss completely the third hardest part of developing and launching a peace building project—sales.

The third hard part is developing content—and allying with partners in that development—and getting that content distributed to the right audience to genrate a lead, create a relationship and to close a sale.

When launching a peace building project, content development—books, articles, blog posts, podcast episodes, workshop/seminar content, and on and on—is seen as the most overwhelming aspect of launching. At the core of most content development practices are three objectives for the peace builder to consider:

  • What do I want my content to do? (i.e. drive brand recognition, drive sales, create actionable leads who will pay, etc., etc.)
  • Where do I want my content to be distributed? (i.e. from a workshop, from a blog post, from a podcast, etc., etc.)
  • Who do I want my content to target? (i.e. women with children, business owners with conflicts, men in divorce, judges in arbitration, etc., etc.)

Unfortunately, many peace builders get caught in a spiral of focusing obsessively out of fear on “how to make money” rather than focusing on “how to make a difference.”  To be successful as an entrepreneurial peace builder, the things is to manage thinking about how hard the three hard parts might be to accomplish collectively, rather than avoiding actually taking the concrete steps to think (and act) differently about at least one of them individually.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Opinion] Google for Podcasting

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Old Posts, The Earbud_U Podcast

The rumblings have started through the podcast world, and the big players haven’t said (or written) anything about anything yet, but I’m sure there’s been all kinds of back end, off line chatter for months now. And, two days ago, Google announced that content creators of podcasts can get their shows listed in the Google Play Store.

There are several significant issues with podcasting, which have been addressed by writers here, here and here. The Google announcement (you can check out the link to the announcement page here and the interview they did with Libsyn (a podcast distribution company) here) while great in the light of Google discontinuing Google Listen in 2012, doesn’t answer how this new venture is going to significantly impact podcast content creators positively in two areas where they struggle:

Getting accurate audience analytics


Developing a strong marketing and branding process.

Let’s all be clear for those of you who consume, but don’t create, audio content:

Itunes and Apple doesn’t care about audio content (i.e. podcasters don’t get accurate download information and analytics on listeners (i.e. who’s listening when and through what device)) because Itunes and Apple don’t make any money off of downloads of podcasts.

Yet, Itunes is where most podcasts (even The Earbud_U Podcast) are located. Apple has ruled the roost for 10 years during this era of podcast creators struggling with inaccurate distribution metrics and having podcasters beg listeners to give review of podcasts in Itunes to demonstrate they are listening. And all this was happening while Google was busy developing life sciences projects and tanking Google+. This phenomenon of inaccurate analytic data also haunts how podcasters monetize what is still an expensive process for many content creators to start, while showing little traction (even less than starting a blog in some cases) early on in the production process. This combination of inaccurate analytics, the struggle to get traction and the lack of support from the larget distribution platform on the planet, leads many podcasts to be abandoned by frustrated creators.

Thus, the question: Is having a podcast in the Google Play Store going to improve the tracking and analysis of downloads and listeners for the benefit of podcast creators, in a way that Apple has caved on providing or developing?

In other words, by submitting to Google Play Store and Google Play Music, are podcast producers going to have access to the entire suite of Google products to track and monetize their downloads, i.e. have access to Analytics, Search, Google Ads (which Google promises not to put on top of creator owned content, or insert into content mid-show) and even Google My Business?

This leads to the second concern that wasn’t addressed in the interview that Google did with Libsyn: Branding for podcasting is all about getting the right audio content, at the right moment in front of the right listeners. This leads directly into the vagaries and complications of getting discovered through Google search, which to Apple’s credit, they have largely left up to the content creator to manage and struggle with. Most branding and marketing for podcast content is a shot in the dark, leaving many podcasters thinking that the best way to market is as an “always on, always downloadable” piece of content; and then, to go off and make content in other areas, bringing those audiences over to the podcast from platforms that have nothing to do with podcasting. A lot of these decisions are based on how Google manipulates its search algorithm in relation to podcast content in particular and audio content in general. There’s no “You Tube” for audio content.

The question then is: If a large podcast creator whose content already generates 10 million downloads a month (i.e. Serial, This American Life, The Adam Carolla Podcast, The Jay Mohr Podcast, The Marc Maron Podcast and on and on) is going to be ranked at the top of a Google search in Google Play Music (where they dominate without being listed in Google Play Music currently) how does that impact who gets listed highly in the Google Play Music library for listeners?

And then, what is going to happen to the searchability of the content of the mid-range folks (people like Arel Moody and The Art of the Charm Podcast–among others) who already are struggling to market themselves and rank as highly as the big players?

And then, where do smaller podcasters (like The Earbud_U Podcast, The Launch to Greatness podcast, Grammar Girls, and others) whose content doesn’t rank highly in their own niches (or who are having to partner with other podcasters to form networks (like The Rainmaker Platform, Relay.FM and others), because audio content consumption hasn’t happened yet at mass in their niches?

Google moving into the space of promoting podcasts in their store is interesting to me as a podcast creator, in the same way that IHeart Radio partnering with podcasters and Spotify also partnering is interesting to me. None of these moves take away the core responsibilities of the content creators, which is to create an engaging, interesting and motivating platform and then to create audio content on top of it.

In the future, as more and more marketers, organizations and brands discover the power of the spoken word, I predict a time when all of the branded, walled garden, distribution players (don’t be surprised if in three years Facebook announces it will launch a search service for podcasts) will seek to bend the arc of engaging content creation (and content creators) in their direction. This might be good for the field of podcasting (which is still niche at around 200,000 podcasts compared to 1.5 million blogs) but the audiences are growing, slowly, niche by niche.

And don’t worry. I already got Earbud_U approved to be in the Google Play Store, and I’ll let you know when it goes live.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Contributor] Glass Houses: Social Interactions for the Modern Age

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Old Posts
Alexander Gault_Contibutor_Photo

Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

As the popular adage goes “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Essentially, this means that people who have certain weaknesses shouldn’t criticize others for those same issues. However, a new spin to this old saying can be used.

Now, people live in those glass houses by putting their information all over the internet, and throwing stones is just saying something that might be damaging to themselves or others.

Many people in the first world have a social media account of some kind.

Older generations tend to favor Facebook, the youth of today favor Twitter and Snapchat, and Instagram is used by anyone with a camera phone. With these social medias, we put our thoughts, feelings, and lives out into the world for almost everyone to see.

This is not without consequence.

Let’s start at a fairly low level of how this impacts our lives; our real life social interactions.

If you post something to your social media account that, for example, contains an anti-gay marriage quote, and you have any gay co-workers, friends, classmates, or acquaintances who follow you on that account, most likely they will, at the very least, ask you about it later, making a fairly uncomfortable conversation out of the topic. More often than not, however, they might not talk to you, consider you anti-gay and sever their ties, and in a more extreme case, band together with other pro-gay marriage individuals to shut you out of any group you may have been in with them.

The next level would be professional interactions, with businesses, employers, or contractors.

If you post something considered very out-of-line with the ideology of a potential employer, you could lose your chance of getting that job. This could include making political remarks, talking about various social deeds deemed less than respectable, talking about drinking, partying, breaking laws. While many people don’t consider their social media at all connected with their jobs and professional life, many businesses look at the internet personas of their potential employees, and even current employees, to ensure their business is being well-represented among its employee-base.

For younger people, colleges are another potential pit-fall when it comes to social media.

Many colleges look at prospective students social media accounts to see what the student puts on there. The college may look for posts about how the student feels about that particular school, the student’s personal life, and even the language used. One misplaced swear-word can end a student’s chances at a top-tier school before the Admissions department even sees their application.

Even high schools are getting on the train. Some districts employ full-time social media monitors to keep a watchful eye on the social media environ that surrounds the student body. They mainly keep an eye out for excessive online bullying, threats between or at students, potential inappropriate student-teacher interactions, and terror threats by students. These monitors can suggest disciplinary actions for any student they take issue with, from detention to expulsion, depending on the severity of the infraction. And many of these schools have no set code delineating how their social media monitors make these decisions, leaving it to the discretion of the district.

Social media accounts are a double-edged sword.

They create a dangerous ecosystem for people to destroy their own and others’ lives, sometimes unwittingly. They create a system where people can remove their own privacy, put their private lives on display for all levels of society and business, and subject themselves to immeasurable pain in the process. But social media also allows those who use it properly to grow, develop new connections, maintain old friendships, and keep themselves informed.

Social media is a dangerous weapon, and with all weapons, its users must understand the dangers before they can enjoy the benefits.

Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


[Advice] The Productivity of White Space

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Old Posts

The human eye is a powerful bundle of tissues, nerves and liquid.

As the most complicated mechanism (short of the brain) in the human body, the human eye can see, take in information and transmit that information for interpretation in the brain.

One of the first things that a practicing artist must learn while still a student, is the value of white space: Those places in the piece of art where there is “nothing,” instead of “something.” The artist must dismiss her natural tendecy to trust what her eyes—that confuse the crowded appearance of the world, with meaning—see is “there,” and search diligently for what is not.

There are a lot articles on the Internet, which fall into the genre of the “new self-help.” These articles focus around “hacking” your life to become more “productive.” Some of them offer valuable information in the form of listicles, without much explanatory content, research based findings, or even a really good argument about how to implement all of the tips at a practical level. This species of article has become so rampant in parts of the Internet, that they are approaching the level of pornography in their ubiquity.

But what do the human eye, seeing, art production, and the “new self-help” all have in common?

The lack of—or the crowding out of—white space in the world.

The human mind has a limited attention span.

And the messages from various signal bearers (i.e. family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc.) tend to “crowd into” the human mind, creating distractions that cause a loss of focus, a loss of clarity, and sometimes, a loss of personal purpose. The solution to this limited attention span problem (or limited bandwidth problem) is not to read another productivity hack article on the Internet and then to vainly attempt to apply its proscriptions.

The solution is to focus ruthlessly on carving out more white space.

More absence of messages that don’t matter, in order to catch the signal of messages that do matter. In principle, this just reads like another “new self-help” proscription with no basis in practical fact, so here are three initial questions to ask yourself before carving out more white space in your personal interactions, your personal productivity, and even in your personal perspective on the world:

Is this action I’m taking right now (or think about taking later) going to give me the highest value beyond just this moment (or the next)?

Am I providing value to someone else by having this interaction with them, or am I not?

Am I playing the long game, the short game, or not playing a “game” at all by having/not having this interaction, taking on this task, or engaging with this person?

Through discipline and with an understanding of the power of absence, your human attention span can focus on the things that matter, and be more productive.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Leadership Through Pitching and Presenting

By | Jesan Sorrells Blog, Leadership Theology, Old Posts

There are two times a leader has to be persuasive, has to pitch and present and leaders are typically good at one and poor at the other:

In a small group: Small groups (anywhere between 2 people and 10 people) are groups where leaders can either shine or fail based upon their own personal hang-ups, tics, and character traits. If a leader connects warmly with a handshake (increasing cooperation) and makes eye contact (in the Western world at least) they tend to be able to navigate the small group interactions and can easily dominate the conversation.

In a small group though, the delicate balance is between speaking too much (pitching) and not listening enough. This is a discipline that bears out its presence in the ultimate small group presentation, the meeting. Most meetings represent a poor use of organizational resources because the same traits that guided the leader in even smaller groups, fail when the group grows larger.

In a large group: Large groups (anywhere between 10 people up to massive stadiums of people) are the places where leaders (like many other folks) sometimes try to “scale up” the skills that make them formidable in a one-on-one environment and they fail. This is also the place where leaders lean in on using tools to mask their inexperience, their nervousness, or their lack of knowledge/interest/passion about a subject. The reason that political leaders do well at presenting to large groups and many corporate leaders don’t is that political leaders are naturally able to “fake it until they make it” and project that passion onto the crow. Whereas hard charging, revenue-generating executives are secretly wondering why they have to do this “presenting thing” at all in the first place.

In a large group, the delicate balance is between presenting with passion and rambling on about a point. Presenting with passion is a discipline that can be coached, but the real problem is getting the leader’s ego out of the way, getting the leader into a stance of learning and then preparing the leader to succeed. And letting the props, the slides, and the crutches fall by the way side.

Ever manager, supervisor, and even employee should be taught how to connect in a small group to other people, by using the skills of active listening, active engaging, eye contact, and paraphrasing. Every manager and supervisor and even employee should be taught how to connect with a much larger group (either a meeting sized group or a larger group) by using the skills of tapping into their passion and energy, knowing their subject inside and out and using tools like Powerpoint as aids, not crutches.

But too many organizational leaders don’t spend time preparing for presentations, don’t think that such preparation is necessary (except at the point of actually having to present) and many organizational leaders look at such training as another “nice to have” but not a “critical to succeed.”

In a world of instant information (and sometimes instant wrong information about organizations) leaders need to change their thinking, or someone else will change the audience’s thinking about their organization, for them first.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/