Monthly Archives: April 2014

I am a Rockstar. You are a Rockstar. A study in self confidence.

Lipperhey_portrait

I regularly find myself giving out sage advice to folks.

Of course my advice is sage, why else would people seek me out I offer it unsolicited?

Anywho, the advice I give ranges widely from person to person.

Sometimes its about technology, sometimes business, sometimes branding.

But usually, its about helping folks to overcome whatever obstacles they face in their path to success – however “success” is defined.

“Stephen, how can I get my boss to give me more money?”

“Stephen, I don’t feel appreciated at my job. What should I do?”

“Stephen, why do I keep getting passed over for promotions?”

“Stephen, can you show me how to get more followers on Twitter?”

“Stephen, what if no one reads my blog?”

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

And while the individuals and circumstances they find themselves in may change, there is one constant theme: self confidence.

I find that people are often unaware of their self-worth, and as a result constantly look to external sources for validation.

And that, my friends, is what I call “The Mind Fuck.”

The Mind Fuck is when the opinion of others matters more to you than your own (opinion).

You fuck yourself royally, when you’re incapable of achieving a sense of self-worth in the absence of the support of others.

But, it’s not your fault – well not totally your fault.

I’ll tell you why.

Since we were children, we’ve been programmed to seek the approval of others.

It started with our parents.

Oh how they cooed when we spoke our first word, ate solids for the first time, crawled, then walked, made caca on the potty.

Our formative years were spent being trained like puppies to live in civilized society.

Such that today, Like Pavlov’s dog, we still salivate for those doggy biscuits of approval.

With that kind of insidious brainwashing, it’s understandable why we fall into the trap of giving two shits about other people’s opinions.

What are we as humans, if not social creatures?

But that’s the rub.

Because we are all social creatures, we crave that approval, the “likes” and “follows,” shares and retweets, that say, “you are somebody” and (unfortunately) define many of our current social interactions.

And when we don’t get it, for whatever reason, many of us take it as a blow, a slight, a diminishment of who we are.

Why?

That’s easy: we’ve never cultivated our Inner Rockstar.

What’s an “Inner Rockstar”?

The Inner Rockstar is that thing that makes us unique.

It’s that special characteristic that sets us apart from the rest of the world.

It’s that thing that we possess, that defines us.

Maybe you’re a whiz with PowerPoint.

Or can automatically calculate the ROI for every dollar spent by your firm.

Perhaps you’ve revamped your company’s non-existent marketing strategy.

You might be able to whistle the Stars Spangled Banner with your nose.

Yes. Whistling through your nose is awesome.

Your Inner Rockstar is the part of you that is awesome, regardless of who else knows it.

“Okay Stephen, I’m a rockstar to myself.  So what?”

So what?

So everything!

What makes a rockstar a rockstar?

They let everyone know they’re a rockstar.

They may not rock a t-shirt emblazoned with “I Am A Rockstar” on it.

Although they should – it would make them easier to identify.

But they wear their rockstar status openly.

Think about it.

Tony Robbins. Wayne Dyer. Steve Jobs. Corey Booker. Mick Jagger.

What do all these people have in common?

Confidence and swagger.

They way they hold themselves out to the rest of the world.

The presence they command when they walk into a room.

It’s their confidence.

Confidence.

Plain and simple.

Confidence makes you a rockstar.

Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment.

The next time you’re with a group of people, offer up a fact about something obscure.

For example, did you know that Google Glass was actually conceived by the 16th century inventor Hans Lippershey, who created the telescope? He was the first person to conceptualize images projected on (or through) thin panes of glass. Google owes their innovation to Hans.

This is not true.

Hans Lippershey did invent the telescope, but didn’t conceptualize a wearable computer.

But if you present this information with confidence and authority, stating it as fact, 9 out of 10 people will believe you, without pause.

Why?

It is because Hans Lippershey actually developed a Google Glass concept in 1570?

No. It’s because of your delivery.

You sell it and they’ll buy it, hook, line and sinker.

Imagine, now, that you do everything with that same level of confidence.

Especially things that you’re good at.

I’m certain that you’ll start to realize that you’ve got some mojo.

To be clear, being confident and good at something will not necessarily make you a rockstar in the eyes of the public at large.

But if you can manage to convince yourself that you’re a rockstar, you’re one step closer to convincing others of the same thing.

Now get out there and rock out!

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Take the Steak. Be fearless. Insight from Social Triggers.

newbrain

I was listening to an interview this morning with Adam Braun, the author of “The Promise of a Pencil.”

Braun is a philanthropist who left Bain Capital to start Pencils of Promise, a not for profit organization that builds schools and increases access to education for children in the developing world.

In the course of four years, Pencils of Promise has broken ground on over 200 schools and provided educational opportunities for more than 20,000 children.

A friend of mine put me up on this podcast, Social Triggers, and this interview is one of the episodes.

If you’re not up on Social Triggers, let me school you.

Social Triggers is a blog founded by Derek Halpern, an online and web traffic expert.

It’s also the title of his podcast series which provides advice on building and growing your brand online.

Halpern publishes a blog with over 100,000 subscribers and produces one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

So the interview with Adam Braun was one of the many he offers to his listeners to help them be more successful.

Anywho, as I’m listening to the podcast, I’m struck by one story that Braun shares from his book.

Apparently, when he was being courted by Bain Capital, they took he (or is it “him”?), and the other Bain prospects, to an expensive dinner, where they were treated to Kobe steaks.

Having backpacked through the third world two months prior, subsisting on communal meals and charity, having a 2 pound steak all to himself was heaven.

He was seated next to a female partner who barely touched her steak, and she asked the waiter to take it away when she was done.

Rather than wait for the plate and steak to be bussed away (and after two months of “waste not want not”), he surreptitiously spirited the steak off of her plate onto his.

Needless to say he was not quite that surreptitious.

The partner noticed – as did the rest of the table.

And he became known as the guy who would “take your steak.”

At first glance, this incident seems embarrassing.

I mean, who takes a partially eaten steak off another’s plate?

A savage clearly.

But there is another way to see this.

And my rather long retelling is really meant to emphasize your one takeaway for today: Be fearless.

If you want something, go after it.

Boldly.

Take the steak off the plate.

Adam Braun wasn’t concerned about what people thought of him when he took the steak.

The partner was done with it and was going to send it back to the kitchen, where it was invariably going to be thrown away.

He wanted the steak.

Two months backpacking through developing nations, eating crickets and grass will do that to ya.

And so he took it.

No harm. No foul.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Well it’s true.

You’ll never get anywhere sitting on your ass waiting for opportunity to find you.

You’ve got to create opportunities for yourself.

My friend D says that you should never couch things in terms of fear.

It’s a negative emotion.

But being fearless means that you are devoid of that negative emotion which holds many of us back.

Being fearless means that you make opportunities for yourself.

Being fearless means that you dive into the abyss.

Being fearless means that you start where conventional wisdom stops.

You take the steak.

If you’re about self-improvement, or simply want to learn more about Adam Braun’s experiences I’d definitely recommend his book “The Promise of a Pencil.”

And the next time you find yourself confronted with a situation and you’re unsure of what to do, think of Adam and take the steak.

Note: For my vegetarian readership, please replace “steak” with “eggplant.”

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New Rainmaker. Now you really owe me.

cb-rainmaker

If you’ve ever heard the expression “pay it forward,” then you know that if someone does something kind or altruistic to/for you, you’re supposed to do the same thing for someone else.

Hence, pay it forward.

Today, someone put me onto something that promises to revolutionize the way we look at DIY site building.

And since I’m learning front end web development, I probably shouldn’t hip you to a tool that will potentially make my new found knowledge obsolete, but…

It’s called New Rainmaker and it’s a one-stop-shop for building a high performance website for your business or brand.

You probably know a few free or low-cost site building tools: SquareSpace, WordPress, Tumblr, Web.com, etc.

But if you’ve used any of them, you’ve probably encountered some roadblock or hurdle, that made it less than it was cracked up to be.

Maybe there was no eCommerce component.

Or social sharing was a hassle to implement.

Perhaps creating columns required advanced knowledge of cuneiform.

Rainmaker promises to change all that.

Per the New Rainmaker website:

Introducing Rainmaker, a hosted turn-key online marketing and digital sales platform designed to give you everything you need to build your business by building an audience. It’s not just everything we use on our sites (such as Copyblogger and StudioPress), it’s exactly what we use on our own sites … ready for you to make your own.

Now I can’t actually tell you anything about the platform, as it hasn’t been released quite yet.

What I can tell you is that it’s built off of WordPress, and allows you to take advantage of all the plugins and widgets natively – that is, without having to call up or install anything individually.

It’s also built on HTML5, so it’s fully responsive.

That means it will be optimized for whatever screen users are viewing your site from.

Building your site using Rainmaker’s platform is also supposed to be dummy-proof.

Simply select the options you want via their wizard, and the Rainmaker Platform does the rest.

At the end of the day, Rainmaker is supposed to make setting up your site and running your online business a cinch.

Supposedly, it will make building sites using SaaS offerings like SquareSpace and WordPress feel like learning Chinese.

We’ll see.

StephenChukumba.com is a hosted WordPress blog.

So whenever Rainmaker does turn on the switch, I’ll be one of the first to convert my existing site to their platform.

And I’ll give you a blow-by-blow assessment of how easy (or difficult) it was to get set up, as well as my impressions.

Oh yeah.

The reason I feel like I’m paying it forward, is because there is a limited window to sign up to join the Rainmaker trial.

If you sign up at NewRainmaker.com/Platform, you too can register to take their platform for a test drive.

In addition to having first dibs to Beta test their platform, you’ll have access to the Rainmaker knowledge center, complete with podcasts, webinars, reports and video presentations from industry veterans and experts.

Now if you’re happy with your site (and it’s performance, conversions, etc.) then you can ignore this post altogether.

But if you’re looking to start a new business or website, and want just the right tool, then Rainmaker may be the thing for you.

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Flatbush Zombies+Visualeyz=Coachella turned up.

 

flatbush zombies

If you’ve never heard of the Flatbush Zombies, I will forgive you.

If you’re a person of a certain age, like me, your musical tastes are fairly pedestrian and rap music probably doesn’t factor highly into your playlists.

You probably listen to more classics and lame tame music (read John Coltrane on Pandora) and your underground music radar has probably been turned off for a while.

For you, music discovery takes the form of recommendations from the NY Times Music section.

You’re not trolling Grooveshark or YouTube looking for the latest hip hop videos.

If you do listen to rap, and are still a die hard hip hop fan, you’re listening to safe established artists.

Rarely do you stray off the reservation.

I say all this to say that it’s highly unlikely that your aural travels have brought you to the land of the Flatbush Zombies.

But now that you’re here, pay attention.

Flatbush Zombies are a three man hip hop group from Flatbush, Brooklyn, formed in 2010.

The trio consists of Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erick “Arc” Elliott.

Since 2012, they’ve put out a series of well received mix tapes and even though they’re relatively new, they’ve built a loyal following both on and offline.

Despite the (trite and repetitive) themes of sex, drugs and alcohol, these kids can spit (spit=rap really well for my slang-challenged readers).

They remind me of the Alkoholics, Cyprus Hill, Wu Tang, and Kendrick Lamar all rolled into one.

Complex lyrical ability, hard hooks, insane production – they’ve got all the ingredients for breakout success.

Having already collaborated with the likes of Action Bronson, ASAP Rocky and others the Flatbush Zombies are not newcomers, by any stretch of the imagination.

But they’re new enough that you might not have heard of them.

And that’s okay.

I was put on when I heard that my man, Mark Hines (aka Yoda) was working with them, and was immediately intrigued.

Flatbush Zombies, as their name implies, aren’t your run-of-the-mill hip hop group.

They are eclectic looking, and very cerebral.

And their videos are ‘trippy’ to say the least.

Standing alone, Flatbush Zombies are bringing the heat.

Their videos are well produced and engaging.

But once you add Mr. Hines’ video production skills on top, everything becomes…well, better.

Visualeyz

He’s working on their visuals for their set at Coachella this week, and I can tell you that it’s nothing short of amazing.

Now Flatbush Zombies aren’t headlining at Coachella or anything like that.

In fact, they’re just one of the myriad of underground acts that Coachella will allow to shine on their stages this year.

But they will probably be one of the few (if not the only) underground act making use of the massive screens on stage.

And with Visualeyz’s tricked out treatment of Flatbush Zombies’ images and video content, their set is going to be off the chain.

So what am I saying?

1. Peep Flatbush Zombies.
2. If you’re going to be at Coachella, catch their set featuring video production from Visualeyz.
3. Thank me later.

Flatbush Zombies at Coachella

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I will teach myself to code. A 90 challenge.

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Last week, I signed up to learn coding with Thinkful.

What’s Thinkful?

Thinkful is an online school where you can learn web development and coding.

The cornerstones of the Thinkful model are curriculum, community and mentorship.

One of my people, Ian White, had posted something on his Facebook page about learning to code in 90 days.

And I was immediately intrigued.

Learn to code in 90 days?

Where do I sign up?

I’ve always played around on the periphery of coding – managing web, mobile and app development projects – but never actually coded myself.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

I did have a DOS/ASCII class in high school.

And I’ve messed around in the code on WordPress for a couple of sites I’ve developed over the years.

And one of my friends did create his own web platform Upl1nk, which I made a few pages with.

But I can’t say that I actually know or am conversant in any programming languages.

So I’m a little excited to get started.

Now this isn’t your ordinary 90 day challenge.

For one, I’m paying for the Thinkful course.

For $300 a month, I can learn the ins-and-outs of front end web development.

The course is broken up into modules, and there’s an online curriculum, which, if you follow strictly, will allow you to complete the course within the prescribed time frame.

There is nothing to preclude you from completing the course in a shorter span of time, of course, but it’s all about pacing and comprehension.

Mind you, Thinkful isn’t all self-study.

You’re assigned a Thinkful Mentor, who you chat with (via Google Hangouts) once a week for 30 minutes.

And if you get stuck or need help, Thinkful has a host of online resources and links to loads more, like StackOverflow.com, to get you straight.

What’s more, Thinkful has taken advantage of Google Plus, creating a community of coding newbies, like your’s truly, as a sort of coding support system.

At this point, I’m about five days in and loving it.

I’m on my first module, Unit 1: Structure and Style with HTML and CSS, and I’m almost done.

I’m soooo lying.

I am not almost done.

I’m about 40% done.

Truth be told, I’m very a little behind where I’m supposed to be.

I didn’t actually look at the syllabus after I enrolled.

I sat back waiting for my mentor to call me to get started.

Completely ignoring the flood of emails from Thinkful, welcoming me to the course and setting me on the path to get started.

I thought they were a bunch of marketing drivel you get after you give up your email, so I kinda tuned out.

By the time I got my head out of my ass and checked in, I realized I was several days behind.

Yes. I know. I’m a jackass.

I should have been more diligent.

Cut me some slack.

It’s my first online self-study course – what did I know?

Point is, I’m chugging right along.

I’m all syntax and structure, and I’m starting to get it.

If you’re interested in learning how to code, there are a host of other self-study courses out there, besides Thinkful.

Many of the lessons in my course come from Code Academy, which has a really good learning interface.

And I’m sure that there are others.

For the time being, though, I’m sticking with Thinkful.

And I’m confident that when my 90 days is up, I’ll be a front end coding fool.

No. I’m not going to assault you with updates along the way.

Yes I am.

But don’t worry.

It will only be the cool shit I’m really proud of.

At this point, you would have seen that I was adding a bit of code to show off, but since WordPress is an HTML platform, all my lovely code was hidden.

I know. I’m a dork

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