I have just submitted the final edits (final for the third time) for my book. I sent out copies to friends and family for feedback and review. They have all given me great suggestions. They caught a number of typos, questioned some of my jokes (or what I thought were jokes), suggested I tighten up content here, remove other content there.
Here’s the problem. Now I have a lot more people to thank. The acknowledgments section should be longer than the book.
That’s the trouble. When it takes you a lifetime to write a book, you realize that every person you have met along the way made a difference.
Your own ideas start out poorly formed. It takes a lot of bouncing them off of other people to make them clear. The rough edges get worn off bit by bit and eventually you end up with something meaningful.
But no idea is really your own. Ideas are everywhere. They’re like single pieces of Velcro in search of a sticky surface. You never know what they will stick to or where an idea will end up, or even who will teach you something new.
Once you start writing, each page ends up reminding you of someone. Maybe it was the person who gave you the idea about using a scene from Monty Python in your first big presentation, or that editor of Accounting Technology who wrote down what you said, or the technical support person who had a great quote, or maybe it was a book someone suggested you read, or an event you attended, or a person you met on a plane, or a teacher in high school who inspired you to solve a calculus problem for extra credit.
And then there are the books you read and the classes you take and the blogs you follow. How do you keep track of all of those ideas that help you refine your own message? How can you possibly thank everyone who has made a difference in your life? And what if you leave someone out?
I think I will have to write a second book called, “How to Thank People: 52 acknowledgements for the people who inspired my first book.” The problem there is that I will have to include an acknowledgement to thank all of the people who inspired my book of acknowledgements.
I recently held a contest to select the winning caption for my notecard which featured an original illustration by Mary Patterson.
The good news : I got a winning caption which is "Nerd. The new extrovert." Submitted by Kellie Jones from Atlanta, the statement is exactly what I wanted to convey with the cover image.
The bad news: I printed notecards with this on the back "Nerd. The new extravert."
Fortunately, Zazzle has an amazing no-questions-asked return policy, otherwise a lot of people will be wondering how many extra "verts" the world needs.
I am sick of hearing about the current “tough economy”.
Clearly I missed something. Exactly when was it easy to be in business? I feel like I did on my 36th birthday when my Mom informed me that 35 was a woman’s best year.
I never set out looking to find a career that was easy. Did you?
I didn’t seek out an easy school to earn my accounting degree. I had an unemployed father and three siblings when I announced I was going to an out -of-state University, right behind my sister who was already attending a different out-of-state University. I wasn’t seeking easy. I wanted a challenge, a new environment, a stretch. And that’s exactly what I found when I got there.
I wasn’t looking for the easiest major when I opted to major in accounting with a concentration in computer science. I wanted a degree that inspired me, that tested me, that made me work. I took courses outside of my major like drama and psychology and even chemistry because they were interesting – who wanted easy?
I wasn’t looking for an easy consulting engagement when I signed up to implement PeopleSoft for a client in Washington, DC while my family lived in Atlanta. I didn’t tell my two young children it would be easy for us to be separated all week while I commuted back and forth to Washington, DC.
My husband didn’t ask for easy when he signed up to start a second family with a young wife who was just building her career.
I didn’t ask for easy the first time I ran my own small business in Atlanta, GA. I wanted fun, challenging, and interesting and that is exactly what I got from working with small businesses all over Atlanta.
No one said it would be easy to make partner as a woman in a small CPA firm in Atlanta, GA. Where’s the fun in that? It wasn’t easy to put in the hours that it took to get there – but it was worth it when I made it.
It wasn’t easy to walk away from an accounting career as a partner so I could start over at the bottom in technology. It wasn’t easy - but it was right. I was inspired, motivated and thrilled to learn new things and find new opportunities. And I found them.
It wasn’t easy to move my family from Atlanta, GA to Pleasanton, CA in the middle of my daughter’s ninth grade but it has made all of the difference. We wanted a challenge, a fresh start, a new perspective, a new environment for our daughter and we found it.
It wasn’t easy when I made the decision to start a new business in California but it was exciting. It was meaningful; I could put my heart and soul into something and make it grow. I could figure it out as I went and make a difference for people along the way. I worked hard, invested money, took risks, and kept learning. And I am continuing to do that now.
Easy? Who needs it? I'll take tough any day.
Since I am all about helping my fellow nerds find a way to connect with their audience, I think it's high time I put some teeth(or at least my book) into this. Once I week, I am going to provide an example of a nerd-filled communication, offer my suggestions for improving it, and then mail a copy of my book to the selected communicator. If you submit a suggestion to the site, you will receive your very own book copy as well.
So be on the lookout for your copy of the book in the mail. Someone might be trying to tell you something.
I have my first example today. It is an e-mail that I just found in my inbox. The subject of this e-mail is data quality which sounds interesting enough - right? Well it gets worse.
Here is a smattering of the oh-so-insightful links that you might want to click on :
> A link about "downloading your Stylelist API" (at first I thought this was referring to my stylish API - thank you for noticing.)
> Or how about this one about "16 countries ...certified for New S42 International ...Standard" (we can only imagine the joys of standards A-R and S1-S41)
>And finally you can learn all about "Name Object 2" (you mean there is more than one?)
First a disclaimer, if this e-mail is being sent only to database administrators who thrill to the sounds of "S42" and "Name Objects 1 and 2", then I am totally off-base. These people might want to receive this information in exactly this way. But, if instead, this e-mail is going to the general population, I have a hard time imagining anyone other than me clicking on those links.
Item #1: "downloading your Stylelist API"
Okay, first I had to decipher the code they were using. An "API" from my experience is an "Application Programming Interface" that allows you to connect two pieces of software in a seamless and meaningful (in a non-sexual) kind of way.
It sounds like this is in fact what they are offering. And Stylist is a piece of software they sell that helps you "control the formatting of data within mailing lists to add a personal look that will increase direct mail success."
Here's how I would convert this link to normal-people speak:
Click here to learn more about special software that can help you increase your direct mail success. (then you take them to a landing page that explains the details including the technical specs which are printed in a tiny in little box visible only to the system administrator.)
To be continued ...
I'm all for exercise, and of course I want you to accomplish something during my presentation but I think this is going a little too far.
According to an article from the Associated Press, the latest thing is to have "walking conference rooms" where everyone in attendance at your meeting or presentation is working on either a treadmill or an elliptical machine - while you talk. Now as the presenter, I don't think I would be all that effective trying to breathe, sweat, watch my calories, and figure out what to say - all at the same time. And who looks good in sweat pants anyway? How do you maintain a professional delivery when you're working on one of those machines. This whole idea just scares the crud out of me. I'm not afraid to admit it.
If you thought it was hard to keep people's attention when they are texting, just imagine what it will be like to keep their attention while they are exercising. Sweating, huffing, puffing, grunting - none of that sounds like great background noise for a presentation.
Besides, if you must combine two things in one event, I'm more inclined to go with this event :
The Krispy Kreme Challenge which involves a two mile run from NC State to the Krispy Kreme store where you consume a dozen donuts and then run the two miles back to NC State. Even though NC State is my arch rival as a UNC graduate, I might actually be willing to run in this one. (Thanks to Wayne Shultz for the tip about this wonderful event.)