When Words Become Weapons: What Micah Johnson Heard vs. What Black Lives Matter Meant

We say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Then we turn around and say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

What happens when something from the pen fuels the sword of anger? It seems words can hurt if they are looked at through the right lens. They can hurt a lot.

Black Lives Matter was born in a hurtful place. It began in violence. But leaders emerged from that chaos who had learned violence was not the answer. These leaders understood what Martin Luther King, Jr. said so many decades ago:

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So the leaders call for peaceful protest. They say that the Black Lives Matter movement is meant to bring about awareness and change in how people of color, specifically black people, are treated by law enforcement. For peaceful protests, words are the only way to communicate to a large audience the experiences and lives lived, and sometimes lost, to the hostile behavior of a few.

But has BLM made clear that it understands that the problem is with a few members of a largely law-abiding group? Has law enforcement leadership made it clear that the problem has been with a few members of a largely law-abiding group?  Until the events of last Thursday night in Dallas, TX, neither were clear enough.

By all accounts, the Dallas protest was peaceful. The participants and the police officers protecting them interacted as compatriots, if not friends.

Other protests were not as quiet. Some marchers sought to antagonize through taunts. In certain areas this behavior escalated into throwing rocks and glass. Some police arrived, not as  peace officers, but as warriors. Mutual antagonism devolved into near-rioting, physical altercations, and arrests.

In Dallas, the only thing clear to Micah Johnson was that white people, specifically white police officers, were all responsible for killing black men.  In his worldview it meant all white police officers must die.

Might Johnson have been influenced in this direction by words used by Black Lives Matter protesters? Chants such as:

“Pigs in a blanket; fry ’em like bacon!”

These words were being used as weapons.

However, Johnson was also likely influenced by the recorded language of the police officers attempting to arrest Alton Sterling as well as their actions. As a man of color in the United States, he probably heard other words being used as weapons, words designed specifically to hurt a black person.

My point is that what you say and how you say it matters. A police officer cannot call someone a nigger or swear at them without expecting possible physical retaliation. Protesters, no matter what color, cannot taunt police and expect each officer to calmly let it roll off his or her back.

We are all human, no matter what color our skin or what we do for a job. Some of us are better than others at controlling our emotions and our reactions. Can any of us honestly say we did not intend to hurt when we used our words as weapons?

Of course not. We meant to hurt. So why are we surprised at any of the reactions we get. We should not be surprised when a physical weapon like a stick or a gun is used in return by someone who is not capable of restraining that impulse.

We shouldn’t be surprised when someone like Micah Xavier Johnson takes the words from Black Lives Matter and translates them into bullets and explosives. Nobody should be surprised when a police officer finally loses control and strikes out at a chanting protester he is supposed to be protecting.

Both sides in this matter must find a way to say, “We understand that the things that have happened are the acts of individuals and should not be used to paint an entire group as monsters.”

Black Lives Matter needs to communicate that they believe most police officers are good people. Law enforcement needs to communicate that all black men are not criminals. As humans we want to see patterns and make generalizations.

As humans we are capable of restraining those habits; we can control the words we use so both sides can come together and find solutions.

The Autumn 2014 Writing Resource Round-Up

Word Chart

Below are four articles that can add tools to your writer’s toolbox, especially for content producers who must master storytelling in order to be effective.

How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More
By Joe Fassler for The Atlantic December 17, 2013

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/12/how-to-write-a-year-in-advice-from-franzen-king-hosseini-and-more/282445/

This is a collection of excerpts from a year of author interviews. Each excerpt is the equivalent of a workshop in the craft of writing from experienced authors and writing teachers. As Joe Fassler comments in his opening, these interviews were like “attending an MFA program.”

The excerpts in this article each have something unique to say about the art and craft of writing that, while highly personal to the author being interviewed, is easily translated into a set of exercises and considerations for any writer.

Khaled Hosseini observes that the completed project will only ever approximate what you want the piece to be, a common lament among writers who are never really finished with a work. Many of us would continue to tweak and edit our writing to a fair thee well if it wasn’t for deadlines.

Fay Wheldon compares the writer’s work to Sisyphean drudgery that you must make into a happy place. (A Greek mythology reminder: this was the guy who had to push a boulder to the top of a hill only to have it roll back down, forcing him to push it up again for eternity.) This is likely why writers can be the world’s biggest procrastinators. You know that writing is hard work, especially writing that seems effortless.

Andre Dubus III tells you it is OK to throw out that outline the English teachers are so fond of. It can become a straightjacket if followed slavishly. If outlining works for you, do it. But don’t put off your project because you think you must create an outline.

This is like a sampler of fine wine from published authors.

More Online Publishers Let Readers Fill the Space
By Leslie Kaufman for the New York Times August 1, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/business/media/more-online-publishers-are-letting-readers-fill-the-space.html?_r=0

In a move called “platforming” a number of established publishers are giving readers an opportunity to share their passions and opinions with little to no editorial oversight. Before you wonder whether it will turn into a troll-fest, be assured that these are savvy people who understand their audience quite well.

While this practice can give those who care to contribute an outlet for their writing and possibly establish some authority, it also means fewer paying jobs for writers.

Picturing the Personal Essay: A Visual Guide
By Tim Bascom for Creative Nonfiction Summer 2013

https://www.creativenonfiction.org/online-reading/picturing-personal-essay-visual-guide

With today’s emphasis on content marketing and telling stories as opposed to listing features and benefits, this article about the art and craft of the personal essay can be a terrific toolkit for the copywriter or other writer who wants to use different ways to tell a story.

All the types of essays examined here could be used in one way or another depending on the need and the emotion the marketer or copywriter hopes to touch.

From the chronological narrative to something that is lyrical and meant only to invoke emotion, this analysis of the personal essay can lift your content from the usual.

How the Entertainment Industry Can Influence Your Content Marketing Job
By Ann Gynne for the Content Marketing Institute October 7, 2014

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2014/10/entertainment-influences-content-marketing-job/

Content, like life, imitates art but in a more concrete way. Just as a movie or TV show has a producer, director, and actors, content marketing also required someone who acts as the producer who, in this case, is the strategist that knows the content must support the business. It also requires a director, someone who communicates the ideas, coordinates the creation, and provides the tactics. Then it needs a creative to make the content: a writer. The writer takes the idea and turns it into content that will draw in eyes and convert prospects.

This piece shows how the method used by the entertainment industry is transferable and successful in content marketing. It also contains a synopsis of Kevin Spacey’s appearance at Content Marketing World this year.

These four resources add up to a master class in writing and content production. Each brings a different side into focus and helps you construct the best content and writing for your purposes and explaining how and why the technique works.

Do you have a particular article you find yourself going back to for ideas on getting your content across?

You and Your Freelance Writer Part III: Retaining Talent

freelance retention

This is the final post in a series about hiring and working with freelance writers.

You have found your writer. She has learned what you need and like. You have learned what information she needs in order to produce the best possible work. Now what?

Let that writer know that you would like to work with her again. Better yet, set up a schedule of posts you will need over the next month or so and ask if she’s got time in her schedule to make developing content for you a regular gig.

Trust me, unless the writer is already overwhelmed with work, the idea of assignments coming in on a steady basis will make that little writer heart beat with joy. Remember, that writer is just as much a business person as you are. And freelancers don’t have the benefits package of a large company to fall back on. A steady paycheck takes a load of stress off.

Speaking of a paycheck, how much should you expect to pay for writing services? It depends. Most agencies, services, and freelancers will post their rates on a website or will happily email them to you. The more experienced and in demand the writer is, the more you might expect to pay.

Look at their writing samples first.

  • Can they write in different styles?
  • Do they have a good command of spelling and grammar?
  • Have they done both long and short form content?
  • Do they use formatting that makes the content easy to read online?

If you see evidence of what you need, take a look at the rates to see if they fit into your budget. Everyone understands that not every business owner has deep pockets. If you can’t afford more than $8-$10 a post, a blog writing service like BlogMutt or Zerys may be better for your needs.

However, understand you get what you pay for. If you are lucky someone just starting out will take a job for 3-7 cents per word and give you good value. And most blog writing services will provide a rating system for the writers. But that can be very subjective; what someone else considers 5 star work may not seem like it to you.

If you can afford it, though, a freelancer who does most or all of your work ensures the voice and style remain the same throughout the content. Over time she will learn as much about the business as you know, making it possible to write faster and perhaps make stylistic changes to better reflect your company.

When determining pay think about it this way. A freelance writer is not your full-time employee. You will not pay benefits or a full time salary to this person. If your content needs generally consist of three blog posts a week, that writer will probably spend about 5-6 hours a week on your stuff.

Taking into consideration the freelancer must cover her own benefits and office needs, paying $40-$60 a post isn’t an unreal expectation. This equates to $20 or $30 per hour. Or maybe you pay by the word. Paying $25 per 100 words (25 cents per word) is a fair price. Remember, this content will lure in visitors and convert them to customers, building your business.

Hopefully, this series has given you a better idea of what hiring a freelance worker is like. Most want to do an excellent job because that is how you get repeat business. Finding one who can provide content for you on a steady basis will make your life easier as well.

You and Your Freelance Writer Part II: How a Writer/Editor Relationship Works

Edited Paper

This is the second in a series about hiring and working with freelance writers.

It would be great if you could just mind meld with your new freelancer and impress on his brain cells exactly what you want in a piece of content. Sadly, that isn’t possible for humans and, according to Star Trek canon, Vulcans haven’t made themselves known to us yet.

So, when you first engage a writer and for a few assignments after that, open yourself to the possibility that the first effort won’t be exactly what you were looking for. After all, this writer hasn’t produced anything for you yet. You can expect him to check your other content to get an idea, but to do a great job, the writer will want feedback on that first draft.

In fact, depending on the subject matter and the type of article, you may have to go back and forth a few times to get it exactly right. And that’s OK.

So many who hire writers just want to provide a topic, offer a small amount of money, and expect perfection. You know better than that. You understand that great content takes effort and is worth the money you pay. Part of the process is making your business relationship with a freelancer a collaborative effort.

If you think you don’t have time, consider how long it would take you to produce that content yourself. Reading through a piece and providing feedback isn’t nearly as time intensive. And if you find yourself editing every word or wondering how this content relates to what you asked for, at least consider that your instructions may not have been clear.

This doesn’t mean the writer can just blow off what you requested. But for your business relationship to be successful you both have to put forth your best effort. If needed, get on the phone and talk with him. Or, before he writes an entire article, ask him to send you an outline and links to any resources he will use, especially for long form content like white papers.

If the freelancer treats this as a imposition, he or she may not be the right writer for you. A good freelance writer will welcome the chance to develop the best product as quickly as possible. With both of you meeting in the middle you will have the best chance at getting what you need.

Remember your English teacher? Create a first draft, edit, and rewrite. Your freelance writer needs to do the same. Make it easy to do so by quickly reading the completed first draft and offering any edits as quickly as you can. Remember, this content reflects on your company. You want it to be great.

Writers want to be great, too. But it can’t be done in a vacuum. So until those Vulcans show up, remember the writer can’t read your mind. Be ready to do your part to develop and publish content that will drive and convert. Be the editor every writer dreams of having.

You and Your Freelance Writer Part I: The Beginning of a Beautiful Business Relationship

hiring

This is the first part of a series on hiring freelance writers.

Whether you use freelance writers all the time or are getting ready to hire your first you want a firm relationship built on communication and trust. Freelancers of any sort hope you like their work well enough to hire them again and again or, better yet, put them on retainer. You, of course, are hoping to get top-notch content that you either don’t have the time or the skills to produce yourself.

More commonly these days, your relationship will be digital, built on email exchanges, shared links, or access to a CMS or other work-sharing application. You may speak on the phone or see each other in person but the internet has made it possible to select from a wider pool of freelancers than just those geographically nearby. And there’s always Skype if face to face works best for you.

Select the Right Writer

First of all, you need to know if this writer can write. Fortunately, the internet makes this pretty easy. Simply Google the writer’s name to find content under her by-line, read the writer’s blog, and ask for writing samples.

Then check the basics:

  • Correct use of grammar
  • No spelling errors
  • Clear formatting
  • Readability

Many freelance writers have deep industry experience. If you need highly technical content you may want to look for credentials or other proof of industry knowledge. But a good writer is also flexible and an able researcher. Don’t count out an otherwise excellent writer just because she hasn’t written for your business area before.

Getting Started: The First Assignment

The first assignment will start setting the tone for your working relationship. This is where you work closely with your new freelancer to give her the best tools for creating the exact type of content you want. Spend some time preparing an on-boarding packet with the essentials. You have a few decisions to make before sending along your first assignment.

If you have an established style guide make sure you send it to your freelancer. You will be fervently thanked.

What point of view or “person” do you want the content to have?

  • First person: “I/we have a solution.”
  • Second person: “You need a solution.”
  • Third person: “He/she needs (they need) a solution.”

There’s room for each point of view depending on the type of content. Third person is used for more formal communications such as technical white papers or case studies. Second person is typically used for a conversational tone; blog posts, brief articles, marketing white papers, and social media posts draw better responses in second person.

First person should be used extremely sparingly. Most customers are turned off by monologues about your products and services, even if you are talking about benefits. First person is rather intense and is not focused on your customer. More often it can sound patronizing and very sales-y; avoid this latter at all costs.

Who is your audience?

Target content to a specific audience. It is clicked on, “liked,” and shared more than content that tries to speak to everyone. Provide your freelancer with a buyer persona or other description of who you want to read this piece. Include more than bare demographics, include the problem this audience needs solved, who else the audience may need to convince, and any specific points you want made. In other words, what question is this content answering?

Do you have resources or will you need the writer to research?

You may already know best the types of resources with the information needed for your customers and prospects. Share these resources with your freelance writer. Find general resources about your industry to support all writing assignments and find specific ones for the content piece you need right now. Provide links to websites or webpages. If you can only find the resource in print, provide a copy to the writer.

If you don’t know of any resources off the top of your head, provide a detailed description of the topic and let the writer know she will need to do some research. Be prepared to pay for research time either as a separate line item or rolled into the cost of the content.

Set the tone.

How do you want your content to sound? Are you envisioning something humorous or do you need something more serious? Is there a particular style you prefer? Send links to some examples of content you admire and would like to emulate. Maybe you like the writer’s natural voice. Be sure to communicate your expectations.

End Note

Content marketing has become the most successful type of marketing for the 21st century. The form of the content may change but it will always need a writer to flesh out the basic idea. Selecting the best writer for you will take preparation, patience, and good communication skills. Build a beautiful business relationship from the beginning.

The Power of “You” – A Marketing Blog Secret

Power of You

The most powerful blogs are written directly to the audience; the “you” of the title. Blogs and other marketing materials are most often written in second person so they can speak directly to the prospective customer. It builds the basis of a relationship between me (the business), and you (the prospect) who I hope will buy my product or service. It makes the post more action oriented and interesting to read because it’s all about “you.”

Second Person POV

If you write a blog or have one as part of your marketing strategy, determining the point of view, or person, is an essential decision that you will make as part of your guidelines for future posts.  As a form of social media using a second person point of view personalizes the content and coaxes readers to imagine themselves as part of the action.

The difference between second person in content marketing and an essay or novel is that you are not pushing the audience around as a character. You are conversing with each individual, having a casual conversation about a problem the reader has. You are answering questions, illustrating problems and solutions, and offering your expertise to someone who is looking for the answer to a problem.

Who Is “You”?

Content marketing is all about segmenting and targeting specific types of customers. What you write must appeal as specifically as possible to a particular person in order for your content to be found. If you have done your research you likely know one or more types who would benefit from your product. Segment these and develop each one into a person as fully as possible; this is what is known as developing a buyer persona.

A buyer persona gives the writer someone to write to. It gives the writer, you or someone you hire, an idea of the type of language this target audience uses, the problems they face, who influences their decisions, and projects more reality onto your customers. Beginning with basic demographics, you create a buyer persona by learning who your ideal buyer is, what his or her position is in the company, who else in the company needs to be convinced, and what part this ideal buyer has in the purchasing process.

What About “I”?

The problem with first person is that it guarantees you will talk about yourself and your products without ever listening to the audience. If you are illustrating a problem you, yourself, had and solved, you might be able to get away with it occasionally but in the main, you want to stick to second person. Writing about “I” or “we” can seem friendly and conversational but the audience knows this is really a way of shifting focus back to your product and away from their problem. Once that happens, you have lost the them.

Nobody wants to talk to you about yourself. They want to talk about themselves. So let them; give them a platform to air their problems and then speak directly to those problems as though you were speaking to your friend or neighbor about how to fix the oil leak in the family car.

What About Him or Her?

Third person is great for case studies. You are telling a story about someone else who had a problem similar to your target’s and how it was resolved. With today’s marketing that third person can still become second when, in the final paragraphs, you make the comparison of your target to the person involved in the case study.

Highly technical writing will also tend toward third person. If you remember your grade school assignments, nearly everything you wrote was third person because you were reporting on a specific case. Bringing “you” into it is jarring and an ineffective way to tell this type of story.

“You” and WIIFM

Writing in second person perspective also makes it very easy to answer that perennial customer question, “What’s in it for me?” “Well, let me tell ya what’s in it for you.” You will tell your audience exactly how your solution relates to their problem, bringing them ever closer to purchasing as you carefully build the case that your solution is the best one for them.

It turned out to be a challenge to write about second person in second person. If you are confused, please leave a comment and “I” will do my best to straighten it out. And that is the WIIFM for reading this blog. The better you understand the writing process, the more effective your blogging will be.

 

 

poliomyelitis sufferer

Victims of Our Own Success: Why the Antivaccination Movement Has Thrived

poliomyelitis sufferer

Polio patients were consigned to an iron lung…sometimes for life.

Here in the U.S. we have been so successful in eradicating childhood disease through widespread vaccination programs we are setting ourselves up for the return of epidemics of measles, diphtheria, polio and other scourges of pre-vaccine times. We have forgotten what it was like when hundreds of infants and children died or sustained lifelong disability from these diseases annually.

That first paragraph does seem a little inflammatory upon reading but having heard from my parents what it was like to go through a childhood that included these diseases, I wouldn’t wish for it again. My mother told me she had the mumps and measles at the same time. She was lucky to have recovered instead of becoming disabled or dying. In which case (and this sounds self-serving, I know) I wouldn’t be writing this now.

At the time the only way to try to keep these diseases from spreading was to quarantine the homes of the sick, hanging a sign on the door telling everyone to stay away. Unfortunately, by the time the illness was diagnosed the person had been contagious for quite a while. Of such things epidemics are made.

The recent measles outbreak in the Dallas area made me think again of how good we all have it. According to CDC statistics there were an estimated 530,217 cases of measles annually in the U.S. before an effective vaccine became available. The next highest morbidity rate was for whooping cough (aka pertussis) at 200,752 cases annually. This shows just how incredibly contagious measles were and are. Only chicken pox (varicella infection) overshadowed it.

The thing is, people don’t usually die from measles itself. It is more insidious. Measles opens the floodgates wide for secondary infections, most commonly pneumonia (often fatal to the youngest and oldest) but other infections as well. This immune suppressive effect can last for weeks or months after the initial infection. And, like most illnesses, measles and other diseases like it hit infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised the hardest.

These are the people you protect when you get yourself and your child vaccinated. These vaccinations aren’t just to protect your child. They protect your infant, your nieces and nephews, your cousin undergoing chemotherapy. It keeps safe the HIV positive patient and the neighbor in her 90s. These are the ones who must depend on herd immunity to keep away what, to them, is a plague.

Maybe some numbers will shed some light on what we are now missing out on.

The numbers of cases listed below were reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and the number of deaths is from the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Report for the years shown. These are for the U.S. only.

Disease Year Number of Cases (Morbidity) Deaths (Mortality)
Measles 1950 319,124 468
1963 (vaccine introduced) 385,156 364
1977 57,345 15
2000 86 1
Mumps 1968 (1 year after vaccine introduced) 152,209 25
1977 21,436 5
2000 338 2
Diphtheria 1950* 5,796 410
1977 84 5
2000 1 0
Pertussis 1950** 120,718 1,118
1977 2,177 10
2000 7,867 12

 

*even with vaccine introduced in 1921

**vaccine introduced 1926

At its peak in 1952, there were 57,879 cases of paralytic polio. 3,145 died from it. There simply weren’t enough iron lungs (the precursor to the respirator) to go around. Some in iron lungs recovered enough to leave them behind. Others did not. Many who seemed to have recovered had disabling complications later in life.

The other diseases also had unwelcome consequences. Mumps was a major cause of childhood deafness. Pertussis in infants 6 months and younger causes the highest rate of hospitalization, pneumonia, seizures, encephalopathy, and death of all age groups. Rubella, with over 56,000 cases reported in 1969, caused 29 deaths and 62 cases of Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).

CRS refers to the birth defects caused in utero when the mother is exposed to or contracts Rubella. CRS includes heart defects, cataracts, mental retardation, and deafness. In 1964 to 1965, before a vaccine became available, an epidemic of rubella resulted in 2,100 neonatal deaths and 11,250 miscarriages. Of the rest there were 11,000 born deaf, 3,500 born blind, and 1800 were mentally retarded.

I knew a man in college whose grandmother was exposed to rubella when pregnant with his uncle. I saw his uncle at the age of 50 suffering frequent seizures and difficulty in walking normally. He was mentally retarded, had trouble speaking clearly, and still lived with his mother, my friend’s grandmother. My friend’s father thought his brother was dangerous and refused to allow his children near him.

I have children. I know how very protective parents are, susceptible to worrying about anything that is even rumored to harm our children. But rather than be worried that vaccinations may result in some unseen harm to our child, we should be worried about the harm that will come to all children and many adults as well if too many of us refuse to properly immunize our children.

A brief version of this article appeared as a Volunteer Voices Column Dallas Morning News in September 2013.

Futuring: What Will Impact Your Business Tomorrow?

Futuring:

Futuring is the field of using a systematic process for thinking about, picturing possible outcomes, and planning for the future. Futurists are people who actively view the present world as a window on possible future outcomes.

                                                       Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed.

Sounds like just another piece of jargon, doesn’t it? I mean, don’t we already do this? We just call it by different names:

  • brainstorming
  • forecasting
  • strategy implementation
  • gap analysis

But these activities, and many more, only represent parts of futuring. They are all tools to use in the practice of picturing possible outcomes and planning for the future.

Futurists have a lot of variables to keep track of because so many things can have an impact of the future of business, art, humanity, and life. But three main forces account for much of the variation:

  1. systems
  2. chance
  3. chaos

Systems are all around us. Scientists call such things as environments, cells, and structures systems. We are made up of systems; the circulatory, respiratory, and musculature of our bodies are all systems working together to create and sustain who we are. Relationships are part of a system. When systems are so intertwined an event in one system can easily impact another.

Chance plays a role in events that impact systems. Chance events happen all the time, causing a system to react one way or another and setting new courses, for good or ill. A major system in the news is, of course, the environment of Earth. We are trying to determine what impacts global temperature trends and whether those events can be controlled or guided to an outcome better suited to our continued existence.

Chaos seems to come from the force of chance. It is the concept that small changes can result in significant impact and thus affect the future. These changes can be created by chance, or deliberately in attempts to influence outcomes.

These forces must all be taken into account when attempting to forecast the future. I hesitate to use the word predict, because that implies discerning what will actually happen. Futuring doesn’t do that. It merely shows possibilities and probabilities of future events coming to pass or the impact various events can have on the future.

If we could predict the future, running a business would be much easier. But we can’t, so we must rely on our forecasts to guide our business decision-making just as we rely on meteorologists to tell us whether tomorrow will be a good day for a picnic.

Just because the forecast is sunny doesn’t mean it won’t rain.

 

Evolve and Adapt to Remain Relevant in Today’s Working World

Scott Burns, a noted financial columnist, posted a column about a woman who showed that the recent economic upheavals did not have to end in disaster. Kristen Hertel had been a successful employee of a large real estate brokerage firm. When the bottom dropped out, Hertel determined to go out on her own but she was smart about it. She got her licenses and opened, not one, but four small businesses, each of which answered a particular niche in the market. These businesses also looked at target customers who have a higher budget for the types of services she offered.

Two of her businesses that arose out of the housing crisis specialized in short sales. She provided sellers and realtors with the tools and services to complete the short sale with less hassle. Another business offered more mainstream services such as title and closing services. The fourth provides outsourcing for real estate agent support.

The word for quite some time has been to keep up your knowledge base and broaden your experiences and skills. Something else to think about is what you could do with those skills if jobs were scarce. Not all of us are cut out to run our own businesses, but with entrepreneurs like Hertel there will always be smaller niche businesses that could offer you a way to start a new career or advance the one you have. Granted, benefits may be slim, but if you are working, you are keeping up your experience and gaining new insights, much more so than acquiring a degree. Smaller businesses can also offer a broader range of experience because everyone tends to wear multiple hats.

With this in mind, when you are keeping up with news in your industry or interests, make sure to include start-ups and other new businesses related to your field. Find out what they do and keep it in mind if you ever find yourself on the receiving end of the proverbial pink slip.

Here are links to Hertel’s companies:

Advanced Title and Escrow
Advanced Short Sale Negotiators

No matter what field you are in, there are always support businesses for it. Don’t neglect them in your job search or when going out on your own.

Another Nail in the Post Office Coffin

Even before the Post Office’s current problems, stemming from a requirement for prepayment into retirement programs, it hadn’t been a place you wanted to business with. It has been the butt of jokes for years about their service record:

  • Slow service at the counter
  • Lack of technology for payment
  • Package and letter handling disasters
  • Attitude of workers toward the public

The USPS was pretty much a monopoly for years. As such, it engendered all the bad habits of a monopoly; the attitude that since you couldn’t get the same service elsewhere they knew you were stuck with the system. Granted, the United States has had the privilege of low costs for mailings for over a century. And it does still turn a profit.

But changes came fast and furious. Private enterprise had trouble keeping up. Could anyone actually expect a bureaucratic behemoth like the postal service to be any better? Or even as good as? Now revenues are dropping as more the post office’s work goes online. Talk about a new sense of convenience and efficiency…just what we humans like – everything made easy. Why go somewhere that went out of its way to make it hard to do business?

Even now, when I can see some workers trying to make a better effort at customer service, too often the post office doesn’t seem to be able to convince all their workers that the post offices future lies in being of great service. Now the USPS has another trouble of private enterprise: not enough revenue to pay for more workers, training, and technology to pull itself back to the top.