I knew I want to create a community here. I also knew I had to start getting my thoughts on paper. As the age old saying goes, "There's no time like the present." I have lots of great ideas over the years and just did not act on them in a manner that created lasting results.
True fact: I conceived of and designed the MP3 jukebox 3 years before I saw any in bars or restaurants. Of course, they didn't stay around long with the coming of Spotify and other streaming services but you can still see them here or there.
I had plans drawn out. I had specs outlined. I had call lists for music executives to woo. And I stopped there. I could have been the first to market. That could have been my financial freedom right there.
This has been a pattern for me. I circle and dance around creation and then skulk back into the shadows. With this project, however, I was really called to see it to fruition. This is the big picture for me. I find peace and hope in doing this work and making a difference in people's lives (finally).
So I started writing. I started interviewing "former strangers" and learned about what made them smile and hope for their own future. I started documenting what they said and how they said it. I started communicating their loves and important things forward into the world, helping them speak to others because all of us have valuable wisdom to share with one another.
But I didn't have a plan outside of creating content for you to read. I didn't hire a consultant to help me select the best, most efficient ways to collect subscriber data. I didn't have a product or service to offer if I wanted to monetize my blog. Full disclosure: this is a passion of mine and if I can turn it into my life story and profession I plan to. That means living off of this work somehow as long as it is an organic process and as long as no puppies cry in the process.
So, like many things I've learned in life, I researched best practices. I watched hours of video and read pages of insight, separating the bad from the good. I took notes. I tried things out. Eventually, I built what you're reading here but it is still in its infancy stages. I don't particularly care for some things in how it is organized and displayed. I don't have anything branded. I don't have a logo. Those will come with time as this little, living thing grows.
One of the things I needed to build this was a way to stay in communication (efficiently) with my readership - all of you. I heard of many great things about Constant Contact so I signed up for the free trial version. You can too, here: (I am not associated with them as an affiliate and make no money off of this transaction - this is only a link).
About three days later I received a call from a man named Lee. He is a marketing consultant at Constant Contact. Speaking to a live person that had information to help me get things going in the right direction was a beautiful thing. What I really liked about Lee's conversation was that he asked me questions about what I hoped to accomplish. He covered things from how the blog is an extension of me (my self expression and passion) to the prospect of monetizing it if that served my purpose.
When he asked me if I wanted to monetize it, my reaction was, "of course," which made me pause and think a bit. Of course I'd like the time I spend on my passion to pay dividends in the form of supporting more pursuit of that passion. Who wouldn't? But I was clear that it wasn't a money grab. I'm not eager to put out products, services or affiliate links to make a buck.
I'm eager to put out good content that people can appreciate and use whenever they want with minimal outlay.
As far as I'm concerned, the "true value" of what I produce will always be free and those that want to support its continuation and help me focus only on producing this will do so out of the kindness of their heart by donating to me or buying/gifting repackaged "wisdom" or services for themselves or others. In effect, they will pay me after I have paid them over and over and over again with this content.
So, in the course of about 5 seconds I knew that I wanted to monetize efficiently and that my contact management was important. This is a skillset anyone in the Information Age should learn.
We wrapped up our conversation with the plan to check back in two weeks while I collect some questions. I can't tell you how valuable Constant Contact's business model is to me - someone calling me and offering to help with a marketing plan (for free). They are providing that value first that I am providing. I think I love them.
Of course, as we closed the call I gave Lee my pitch.
"Lee, I believe the world is a better place the fewer strangers there are in it and one way to reduce that number is to ask questions. My question to you is, what are two important things in your life, that if shared with the world, could make it a better place for everyone?"
His initial answer was "optimism". Bring your best energy to the front. He showed this with his approach to our call. He was excited. He had energy. He shared that you wouldn't know that he is going through some tough times with a family member facing cancer. He thinks the world is a better place when people focus on what is working rather than what is not.
He said my inquiry was thought provoking and had to give some thought about the second one. Poor guy. I thought he might not give me enough credit to actually hit him up for content for my blog and it turns out he didn't prepare as if I would. But these moments of reflection lead to the gold.
I helped him out by sharing my first experience: Dogs & Tattoos. I shared how specific details about an individual's passions and likes are where the juice is. He immediately said, "Well, since you say it like that, I am a twin. I love being around my twin. He and I bring out the best in each other all the time."
I asked if this was unique to his twin or if he could do the same for other people as well. "Yeah, I do, actually. It's just natural with my twin," he said thoughtfully.
I wrapped it up with, "Lee, I'm going to share your two important things: optimism & bringing out the best in others. If more people focused on these two important things, I believe the world would be a better place to live."
He said, "I like that."
We thanked each other for our time and I hung up. I'd like to touch on his two important things a little before hanging up with you.
Optimism is nice. Authentic optimism is better. Inauthentic optimism is putting on a face when the mind is not ready to be optimistic. That, I feel, is unhealthy and leads to lingering side effects. I recommend against inauthentic optimism. Being mindful to your authenticity is a good practice. It leads to a feeling of wholeness and integrity. When you present your true self, no matter how "ugly" or unprepared, it is fulfilling. It is in our wiring to be known as our true self. If it is inauthentic, then you may need to talk out your feelings and get to the root of what needs to be processed so that you can find authentic optimism.
Tips on getting authentic
Lee added a new 2IT to my list that I've journaled about and thought about but haven't really written on yet. I love that he pointed to it.
One way to look at relationships is like a painting. We are the canvas or the stage upon which others may experience beauty in their world. They express themselves through words or acts and we respond. We give them feedback on who they are. We give them information to help them refine their message. We reflect their image back to them so that they may see themselves. In this way, we have the ability to bring out the best in them when we are a good reflection of their true self - when we truly get them and hear them; when their word is understood and that understanding is recognized in our way of being with them. When we reflect back to them their best, we do this. This is what Lee is saying.
Do you have someone in your life that you smile just thinking about? Chances are they bring out the best in you and you like your best. Wouldn't it be nice if more people "brought out the best in you"?
I tell my kids and anyone who will listen one of my favorite sayings: "You attract the kind of people you are." I consider this a natural law. I find that even when people agree with me, they typically miss the important part of it, that is, if you WANT a certain kind of person in your life (loving, faithful, considerate, thoughtful) then all you need to do is BE that person first. This lines up exactly with what Lee described. When you bring out the best in someone it is because you are being that person you want others to be for you. You are checking in with them. You show empathy. You leave little gifts. Whatever it is that you value in life.
So, what kind of people do you want in your life? Choose wisely and choose powerfully. Really stretch your image here. Find that soulmate. Find that best friend.
Find it in yourself first.
I would love to hear from you. You can follow the Contact link at the bottom of the page or reach out to me on Instagram at @twoimportantthingsofficial.
Namaste and all that good stuff.