Tag Archives: blog

Need advice? Let me be your Emissary.

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I was recently invited to join Emissary, a free platform that lets you share advice, make introductions, and get compensated for your efforts.

If you’re not up on Emissary, don’t trip. Neither was I.

I was checking out the profile of my good friend, Ben Tannenbaum, the new Director, Startup Engagement and Acceleration at Mastercard, and noted that he had a Emissary profile.

Intrigued, I checked out Emissary.io and was like “I do this!”

This=being sought out for advice, giving advice and getting paid for my advice.

But I realized that Emissary was doing it big, and I wanted in.

So I sent an email, had a conversation with one of the founders, Mike Sands, and Voila! your’s truly is now an Emissary.

So what? you say?

What’s so effin’ good about Emissary?

Well for one, it’s really about the power of networks.

And you know I’m a proponent of networks.

Next, it formalized the process of giving advice.

If you’re like me, people are always asking you about this or that.

Sometimes you have the answers.

Sometimes you don’t.

But when you don’t, you know exactly where to go to get the information they’re looking for.

Third, Emissary helps you make dough.

Emissary was developed because they realized that there are folks out there looking for the knowledge you (and your network) possess.

As an Emissary, you can quickly connect them with the right people in your network, and earn money for doing so.

Emissary leverages the power of networks by giving its users a platform to do what they do best.

Give advice (or referrals) to folks in need.

To be fair, I’ve oversimplified the process of becoming an Emissary.

They’re still in Beta, so there’s a pretty serious vetting going on.

When I learned about it, I went to their site and sent an email.

A few email conversations and a telephone interview was set up.

After the phone interview, there was a Skype interview, where they probed to figure out what made me an expert and justified making me an Emissary.

Having dabbled in law, entertainment, technology, and mobile, I’ve created a network of specialists in many different fields, that adds value to Emissary.

The fact that I already offer advise (as a consultant) and through my blog, probably didn’t hurt.

I’ve given you a quick overview of Emissary, but a perusal of their site will give you all you need to know.

You can check out my profile here http://www.emissary.io/u/#/stephenchukumba.

Need advice on an upcoming project or issue you’re facing? Hit me up.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an Emissary? Check ’em out.

And tell ’em Stephen Chukumba sent you!

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, technology

When it comes to blogging, be like Nike. Just do it.

Just do it. Blog!

Just do it. Blog!

I was talking to one of my peeps the other day, and the discussion turned to blogging.

Actually, I was chatting via IM…

And I most likely asked if they blogged…

There probably wasn’t a discussion prior…

But that’s besides the point.

The point is that blogging came up.

I was (as I do) extolling the virtues of blogging.

It builds your brand.

It establishes you as a thought leader or authority in your field.

It separates you from the undifferentiated (non-blogging) masses.

It builds credibility.

It helps you develop your voice as an author.

It generates traffic.

I could go on and on – and I’m pretty sure I did.

Invariably, after my diatribe on the virtues of blogging, they were like “I need to find the time to write.”

Time to write?

As I prepared to fire off a dismissive reponse, I realized that I’d heard it before.

In fact, I’ve heard loads of reasons for not blogging before.

I don’t have the time.

What would I write about?

My writing sucks.

No one would read it.

As I listened read, I had to give some credence to the fact that blogging legitimately challenges folks.

So today, I’m going to address the most common objections to blogging I’ve encountered, and hopefully provide some useful advice for overcoming them.

I don't want to hear it!

I don’t want to hear it!

Objection No. 1: I don’t have time to blog.

If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.

And I’m sure each person who has ever uttered these words hasn’t really thought about how much time they waste devote to other things, that could be devoted to blogging.

Blogging is like anything else you want to master.

You’ve got to set aside time for it.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of time – 30 minutes a day.

An hour a week.

Once a week.

Something.

Anything.

Just put it in your schedule.

And don’t make excuses not to.

If you can make time to wash your ass, you can make time to blog.

What to blog about? What to blog about?

What to blog about? What to blog about?

Objection No. 2: I don’t know what to blog about.

I think this is one of the more valid objections to blogging: what to write about.

It’s also one of the easiest to overcome.

There are tons of blogs out there about anything and everything.

From quarks to Jimmy Choos.

Yes “quarks.”

I had to come up with truly random shit to emphasize my point.

Write about what interests you.

There. It’s that simple.

To get your blog flowing, you should always write about what interests you.

You could give a shit if it interests other people.

Start off blogging about things you like, experiences you have, stories you’ve heard.

If you keep your blog “you” centric, you’ll never have writers block.

Unless you’re a boring dolt or shut-in.

But even then, you could write about your life as an agoraphobic.

And be the don of agoraphobics everywhere.

If Snoopy can do it, so can you!

If Snoopy can do it, so can you!

Objection No. 3: I am not a good writer.

Now this objection is tricky – and valid.

Blogging requires working knowledge of the English language (or whatever language is your native tongue).

And while I am a wordsmith, a human lexicon, one who gets busy with the vocab, not everyone is not similarly endowed.

But just because you haven’t mastered the Queen’s English, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a compelling blog.

There are plenty of blogs out there that are a hot mess!

Not because they are written poorly, but because they could give a shit about writing convention.

The good thing about blogging is that you don’t have to be a poet laureate.

Your blog can be linguistically challenged, ebonics laden with misspellings galore, and still have folks flock to it because it’s genuine.

But if you want to be a better writer, blogging will help you become one.

The more you blog, the better you’ll become.

Please read my blog. Please?

Please read my blog. Please?

Objection No. 4: No one will read my blog.

My response to this objection is universally: how the fuck do you know?

Once again, unless you’re some kind of anti-social shut in, you likely have folks who give a shit care about you.

And at least one of them would take the time to read your blog if you created one.

The truth is that that if you blog it, they will come.

They may not come immediately, or in droves, or regularly.

But they will come.

You can be assured though, you’ll never get any readers if you never blog.

So go the fuck on and blog already.

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Blogging by iPhone (on the commode). Wordpress is the truth!

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I’ve been blogging (on and off) for about five or six years now.

Sometimes more than others.

But now, I think I’ve hit my stride.

And it’s all because of WordPress.

I know this sounds über dramatic, but hear me out.

When I was first bitten by the blogging bug, I tried out Blogger, the blogging platform from Google.

Since I was already using Gmail, it was nothing but a chicken wing to start using Blogger.

But I found the interface flat and there were too few template options available for me to personalize my blog.

Even though it was customizable, I wasn’t terribly technical and coding HTML or CSS simply wasn’t in the cards.

I posted a few times and that was it.

Not long after, someone told me about Tumblr.

They were new to blogging, like me, and had a similar experience with Blogger (being flat and boring).

So (on their recommendation) I tried it out.

Tumblr was much easier to use, had several interesting templates, and before long, I had set up and posted my first blog.

I noticed, almost immediately, though, that my blog posts weren’t showing up in search engines in Tumblr as rapidly as they had with Blogger.

What Tumblr made up in overall ease of use and simplicity, it lost from an overall SEO perspective.

I was creating far more, but seeing far less traffic.

If a blog gets posted in cyberspace and no bots crawl to it, does it make a sound?

Demoralized, I abandoned Tumblr for another free blog platform contender, WordPress.

Cue the angelic music and blinding white light.

WordPress combined the SEO dominance of Blogger, with the ease of use, simplicity and design sensibility of Tumblr, and a few other smoking features to boot.

And with a clean UI and dashboard, WordPress soon became my go-to platform.

But what MADE WordPress for me, were the apps!

Ever since I got the WordPress iPhone and iPad apps, I’ve become a prolific blogger.

Prolific is a tad extreme, but I have authored over 250 post on WordPress, and at least half of them were on my iPhone or iPad.

Whenever an idea for a blog comes to mind, I simply whip out my iPhone, dial up the WordPress app and start typing.

Once I save it, it’s automatically uploaded to my WordPress account and synched whenever I pull up WordPress again from any of my devices.

So if I start it on my iPad, I can pick it up later from my desktop or iPhone.

I can tag, add pictures or video, select categories (or create new ones) all from within the app.

My girl Aliya King issued a 30 day blogging challenge to her blogging peeps, and the WordPress app has kept me on task for the past two weeks.

I’ve been able to post from virtually anywhere: trains, the office, the toilet (yes, I blog on the toilet), from the convenience of my iPhone.

I’ve been so impressed with WordPress that I’ve turned a butt load of my clients, friends and associates on to the platform.

At the end of the day, I’m really enamored with WordPress because it’s enabled me to find my voice AND get it out hassle-free.

So if you’re thinking about starting a blog (I’m an inexhaustible source of inspiration – I know), give WordPress a try!

And ‘no’ I am not a paid spokesperson for WordPress.

But if anyone over at WordPress wants to cut a bro a check….

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I’ve got no Klout? Gimme a break!

I’m like a gangsta without a gun…I’ve got no Klout!

I just created an account on Klout and was appalled to discover that I had an influence rating of 10.

10!

Mind you, the Klout measures influence on a scale from 1 to 100.

So you can imagine my shock to learn that I had the influence of a kumquat.

In my professional self, I regularly discuss influence as measured by services like PeerIndex, Twitalyzer and Klout, as points of reference for how individuals and entities can assess the impact of their social media.

But I hadn’t thought of the type of influencer I was.

I publish a blog for chrissakes!

True. I haven’t published very regularly since April…

And I’ve completely fallen off the wagon on Facebook…

Can’t recall the last time I pushed a flick up on Flickr either…

But of course I have influence!

I’m registered with virtually every social media platform (of significance) under the sun.

When I signed up with Klout, I registered my Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress and Instagram accounts.

Even though I’ve got a Blogger and Tumblr account, I left those ones out because I rarely use them (but perhaps I’ll go back in an add those too….hmm).

And every so often, folks comment on my blog posts, retweet my tweets, share my Facebook updates, watch my videos and generally seem to respond to my virtual ramblings.

But clearly not enough for Klout to feel that I have real influence!

Damn you Klout!

Now I’m not really smarting about my dismal Klout rating.

Yes I am.

But it does present a compelling case study for how influential one really is online.

Prior to registering with Klout, I had received numerous requests from friends and associates (via Facebook) to join Klout.

To me, it was yet another app fracturing my attention online, that I would have to show some love.

Unless, it’s one of those truly useful apps, that runs in the background, without you having to log in and actually do anything, and actually provides value, I’m sure it will go the way of many of the social media platforms/applications vying for users/user attention, and fall into obsolescence once the sheen wears off.

But who knows, I may find Klout truly useful and have a change of heart.

I doubt it.

The relationship with Klout has already started off a bit too rocky for my taste…

…an influence rating of 10…

Klout you’ve got some m*tha f*ckin’ nerve!

PS If you’re within the sound of my blog, please throw some K’s on a bruh!

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SoLoMo Profile: Wyst

The second company I’m going to profile for the Starters+Startups: The Future of SoLoMo & You panel I’m moderating is Wyst.

The Wyst app allows you to share geo-tagged photographs, with family, friends and members of your Facebook and Twitter social networks.

Wyst's homepage is spare.

In the header of the page, there are three icons next to a phone which offer:

Share experiences. As they happen, where they happen.

Discover new stories around you.

It’s a new kind of message in a bottle.

Since there was a video, I watched.

It’s a 3:13 minute commercial, that I think does a really good job of telling you what Wyst’s all about, without a single line of dialogue.

You simply follow this bloke around NY as he use the app and a companion screen of his iPhone shows you his Wyst thread.

Nicely done Wyst.

From what I gleaned from watching the video alone, you can take a picture, tag it with different emoticons and post it to your Wyst profile.

I’ll know more when I take the app for a test-drive.

The bottom of the page offers links to the App store, their social media profiles (Facebook and Twitter), the Latest News, Blog and About Us pages.

You can also sign up for the Wyst newsletter on the page.

The Latest News includes the fact that Wyst is now out of Beta and available in the iTunes App store.

The Blog takes you to a page which offers various Wysts of the Day.

It’s essentially a blog roll of different pictures taken by Wyst users all over the globe.

Wyst of the Day

Wyst’s About Us page is fairly irreverent.

It pays homage to the Brooklyn roots of the app, as well as the following:

“Wyst is a like a new kind of message in a bottle: it’s a fun app that enables you to share cool moments, random musings, unique tidbits and interesting experiences by capturing them on a photo or text note and tagging them to a location for others to find. The idea came to us from a simple question:

Wouldn’t it be awesome to freeze this moment in time, in this place, so that when someone else passes by this same spot they can find it and experience it themselves?

As the Wyst site is light on pages, I checked out their Facebook and Twitter pages too (let’s get those numbers up fellas – okay?) while downloading the app from the App Store.

Wysts are a tad scarce, huh? Gimme a chance why dontcha!

I’m going to play around with their app this week too, so stay tuned for any updates.

Again, if you’ve used Wyst, like it or have an opinion, please share!

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Why don’t you have a mobile site yet?

Here is the mobile version of my blog.

I met with a potential client today, and they were very excited to show me the site that they had recently released.

The site had a nice stylish design, but when viewed from my iPhone, I was looking at the exact same site – and NOT a mobile site.

Now, of course, I offered my unsolicited advice regarding the utility of a site, not optimized for mobile devices, and the growing trend of search from mobile devices.

This experience underscores what I have observed in most of the brands I interact with.

Many have failed to adopt a mobile web strategy.

I’m certain that this ‘oversight’ stems from the fact that mobile is still not perceived as a significant element in most brand’s marketing mix.

While apps may be all the rage, they really only apply to a small swath of devices, primarily iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.

Other internet capable devices, or users who haven’t downloaded your app (or aren’t aware of it’s existence among the hundreds of thousands of available apps), can’t take advantage of whatever utility your app was designed to provide.

But developing a mobile website gives you the ability to still reach those users, without having to develop an on-deck app.

More importantly, if your site comes up as a relevant result from a search conducted on a mobile device, when the user navigates to your site, they’ll encounter your mobile you (not your PC you).

If your site it built right, you’ll convert that visitor into a member of your tribe, and they’ll bookmark you, share you or engage in whatever behavior you want guests to your site to perform.

Anyway, if you’re interested in learning whether your recently developed site is mobile-compatible, simply pop your web URL into your mobile browser and check.

If you’re using a open source platform like WordPress, many of their templates contain the option to publish a mobile version too (like this blog).

If it’s not (or if you’re not sure) and you’re interested in learning how to convert, feel free to drop me a line.

Go mobile!

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Harlem Stand Up! Vince Morgan is coming!

I had an interesting call with Vincent Morgan last Friday, and I came away intrigued by the man who has recently thrown his hat into the ring to challenge incumbent New York Democratic House of Representative member Charlie Rangel.

This guy could be your next Congressman! He looks electable.

The call was interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that he was so cool. Not to say that someone running for office shouldn’t be, but the ease with which we spoke had me feeling like I was kicking it with one of my boys, and not having an in-depth discussion with a viable Congressional candidate.

Some background. I was introduced to Vince (as he likes to be called) by Kofi Bannerman, a partner is one of my many ventures (a brother gotta keep multiple hustles going – ya dig?), who suggested that I reach out to him because he was getting his house in order for this run for office, and might require my considerable experience (forgive my self-indulgent plug).

We were supposed to meet face-to-face, but since I wasn’t sure what this face-to-face would be about, I felt that an introductory call was in order. So I called him.

I was impressed that he picked up his phone (I figured a guy in his position would be screening everything). I was even more impressed when he said that he had time to talk, considering his admittedly hectic schedule.

After the compulsory introductions and ice-breakers, we went in on the purpose of my call – figuring out what (if anything) Morgan4Congress needed, and how I could fulfill those needs.

Nice logo huh?

In preparation of our call, I had done a preliminary search of Mr. Morgan and his fledgling campaign. It was readily apparent, however, that things were buttoned up quite nicely from the door.

His website http://morgan4congress.com was up and active, as were his various social media sites, including a Facebook fan page, Twitter, blog, and YouTube channel.

He’s been interviewed on CNN and Fox 5 regarding his run, and both the NY Times and Huffington Post have reported on his candidacy.

Vince talked about his background as a community banker, his wife and two children. We discussed his roots, growing up in Chicago, and getting chased home from school.

He broke down his stance on the issues of the upcoming election, and by the time we were done, I was left with the distinct impression that this guy was electable.

He’s spent the past three years putting together his team and readying himself for this run. I told him that I’d shoot some ideas his way for leveraging his social media assets and generating viral movement on and offline.

However it goes, this guy is the future of politics in New York. He’s young and smart with plenty of Obama-esque swagger. Did I say he was from Chicago?

All I’ve got to say is this: Harlem stand up! Vince Morgan is coming!

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When Words Are Not Enough

 

This is Stephen's brain on writer's block

This is Stephen's brain on writer's block

In the past few weeks since my last post, I’ve started (and abandoned) a few posts, that I just wasn’t feeling.

Lots of interesting things have happened, but capturing the essence of it has been difficult to say the least.  I would never say that I’m my own worst critic, but in this regard, perhaps I am.

The one thing I hate about reading other people’s blogs is the feeling that the author is just writing to be writing. I’ve got nothing to say today folks, so blah, blah, and more blah.

I told myself that I’d never do that. If I had nothing to say, then I wouldn’t post anything. My little rule of thumb didn’t account for  the times when I had something to say, but couldn’t capture it well enough to put it out there.

It’s quite maddening because I’ve got a drafts (of things I’ve intended to say) out the wazoo (words are literally oozing out of my bum).  

There’s one entitled ‘The Chukumba Rules,’ a kids created standard of conduct we came up with while at the playground one day.  

Another, ‘WTF!’ chronicles my annoyance and frustration with not being paid on time (at a job that only pays once-a-month – can you believe the nerve of these people?). I was especially HOT (I can still feel the flames of fury) when I wrote this. 

‘Selling Your Ish Online’ is a re-do of an article I wrote years ago, but I felt was apropos considering the increasingly digital and mobile nature of the world we live in.

I even wrote one titled, ‘Gangsta Bitch’ about an old college friend, who was unapologetically unmarried and not trying to have kids, yet bewildered about how her ‘me-first’ stance was not well received by the average male (average=trying to settle down, have kids and the trappings of married life – silly average male, how little you know).

Anyway, for my six adoring fans (hey E!), I’ve not forsaken you. I’ve been suffering the old ‘writer’s block’ (it really should be called ‘writer’s malcontent with their writing’).

I’m getting back on the horse, and will force myself to be witty and engaging (or at least pretend to be).

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Lesson Two: You are the Brand (Be the Brand reprise)

So over the last few days (weeks actually) since I last posted, I learned that my concept of ‘being the brand’ was not only a catchy way to express my concept of self-promotion, but someone else’s trademarked IP.  “Be The Brand” is the title of a book by Tamara Jacobs, in which she provides her advice on presentation skills.

Not to ride the wave of some else’s brand identity, I needed to take some time to rethink how I wanted to position myself.  Since my ultimate objective is to demonstrate how to distinctly brand onesself, this dilemna presented a singular opportuity to offer Lesson Two:  You are the Brand.

When someone Googles your name, what do they find?  Does your Google search generate 1000 hits?  100? 10? Do you come up at all?  If not, what does that mean?  It certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t exist, but it does mean that you’re off the radar. Now if its your intent to stay off the radar (and creates the mystique that is ‘you’), then ignore the balance of what I have to say on this subject.  If however, you want to show up as a returned result from a Google (or any other enginge) search, listen up.

You are the brand refers to the fact that as a unique person, you are your own calling card.  People’s perception of you is shaped initially, not by the ACTUAL you, but by the PERCEIVED you.  Its not the internal you, the soft, caring, sensitive person who loves everyone, that people see.  Its the external, irreverent abrasive, jerk (and I offer this dichotomy for illustrative purposes only).  My point is that people have formed their opinions of you before they ever meet you.

In today’s world, one’s perception of another is shaped by Google search results, the number of Myspace friends, Facebook friends, Linkedin contacts, webpage Alexa rankings.  Its shaped by the content returned in those search results, the quality of your friends, quantity of contacts, impressiveness of your statistics.  All of these perceptions take place in the absence of you.

By the time you actually run into the person who has Googled you, they have already formed an opinion of who you are, which, invariably, ends up being a large part of how you will be defined in the eyes of that person.  If you are, in reality, who you represent yourself to be virtually, then its all good.  If however, you are not, and your virtual self is a mis-representation of your actual self, then I suggest you take stock of this lesson and apply it forthwith.

The steps which follow will help you re-define yourself, or if you’re happy with the virtual you, enhance your already impressive appeal.

Step 1:  Audit your virtual self.  You’ve got to know what’s out there painting the virtual picture of you.  Since your virtual self is the extension of your real self, you should make sure that you’re happy with it.  Perform a Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and any other kind of search to learn what the ether has amassed about you.

Step 2:  Assess your virtual self.  Are you happy with what you’ve found?  Does your virtual self exist at all?  How far off the mark is the virtual self from the real thing?  Is the information about you old, out-of-date or inaccurate?  If you didn’t know you, what impression would you have of you?  Positive? Negative? Indifferent?  Come up with a concrete picture of yourself that articulates the positives and negatives of the virtual picture of you.

Step 3:  Create the perfect virtual you.  Having conducted your audit and assessment, you’ve learned a few things about yourself.  Now you should take a stab at defining the you that you WANT people to see.  Make a list of all the things that you’ve done, places you’ve worked, people you know and accomplishments.

Step 4: Get the perfect virtual you online.  There are a number of strategies you can employ to re-define yourself online.  There are things as simple as putting up a Myspace page, creating Facebook and Linkedin profiles, setting up a blog or website.  If you’re really savvy, you can engage in some SEO activities and create anchors that route people to you and populate search results with information you want them to see (while pushing down the relevance of other content that may not be as favorable).

Step 5:  Analyze your efforts.  Now that you’ve rebuilt yourself online.  Do that Google search again.  You liking what you see? If not, don’t worry, we can fix it.  Sometimes it takes a few days for the results to populate these search engines, so chillax.  If however, you’ve set up a website, created online profiles, written a blog, commented in an online forum, you may find that those elements appear instantly.  In either instance, be patient, your virtual identity wasn’t created overnight.

There’s a saying which goes, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’  And while that may be true, people do, in fact, judge books by their covers every day.  Today’s covers are no longer merely the physical package, but also the virtual book jacket that provides glimpses of the story within.  At the end of the day, you are the brand.  You’ve got to be cognizant of that all the time, and take steps to define it, lest you be defined by others.

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