Why Composing Emails When Your Tired is Terrible   (…and how to not be terrible)

 

Tired is Terrible

A few days ago I walked into my favorite Starbucks after a long day on no sleep. I pulled out my phone to use Apple Pay and a shy but pleasant barista asked what he could get me. I said, “I’ll have a Bombay Sapphire and Tonic, please.” He blinked at me three times. Slowly, a wisp of a smile curled across his face. I admitted that I was in the wrong place. “It’s like that today, huh,” he said.

I ordered a Venti Black Iced Tea, sweetened and plunked into a seat. The night before, I had deadlines to meet and worked until…well, until it was hella late. Screaming cats in heat woke me up 30 minutes after I dozed off. Then my housemate came home half an hour later. I entertained 30 minutes of sleep at a time over a 4 hour period. That’s not restful sleep. That’s not restful anything.

I was too tired to work the next day. But I push through. Sometimes pushing trough gives a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes pushing through is overrated. I do it anyway.

“…be circumspect,” and taking my own counsel

An associate of mine on the West Coast needed some marketing materials sent. We had clients waiting and a growing list of prospects to contact. Our strategic partners, whom he has tirelessly pursued―with fine results for us―were in the bullpen.

Everybody on his team was rearing to act on my newly-minted Key Messaging Platform. I had an awesome lead generating email written. I emailed the message to him right away for the whole second-set-of-eyes thing. That’s always good, by the way. Tired as I was, I couldn’t think (at all, actually) of letting another day go by.

I had some emails that required “an immediate response” from me. One of my emails did get a response all right. Fi yuo cna raed thsi, you’re a genuis. If you could make sense of my terrible email, you’re a genius, too.

What I wrote:

The idea of doing forces to create a strategic alliance, increase sales and products in this market, introduce a new product, develop a new market segment, move into a new geography, etc.could be something to look into but not if it’s rabbit holing or a distraction from project that will produce financial.

Multiple streams of income is the ultimate goal. I say look into it but be circumspect. 

What I thought I sent:

The idea of joining forces to create a strategic alliance is shrewd. If Blahblahblah, Inc. is willing to become a strategic partner, that would be amazing for everyone. Looking at increasing sales and introducing new products is a smart move.

Blahblahblah, Inc. could give us an awesome opportunity to step into a new geography and develop a new market segment.  This is something to look into but not if it’s rabbit holing. Any distraction from projects that will produce a financial return wouldn’t be prudent. Not right now.

Multiple streams of income is the ultimate goal, of course. I say look into it but be circumspect. Please let me know if there’s anything you need.

This is what I said―in my mind. The email was a different, unintelligible story. It was terrible.

There are a lot of rules for writing emails. Know your audience, avoid attachments, have a consistent voice and so on. My #1 Email Rule? Get plenty of sleep. That’s the first step to being circumspect.

One way to be attentive and cautious:

Under normal circumstances, my energy level is up and I’m writing away like a fiend. I use a note taking app or Apple Pages. MS Word. Whatever. I write. I proofread. I may even run it through hemingwayapp.com―and Grammarly is bomb . When I’ve ascertained that it’s not terrible, I click the send button.

But these are not the most important steps toward you and your emails not being terrible.

The first step to not being terrible―Remember, if you can’t speak in simple, coherent sentences, you won’t do it in writing either. Be circumspect. If you can’t be attentive to what you’re doing, why are you doing it?

The second step― Wait until it’s time. Timing is everything. Honestly, sometimes it is better to put off ’til tomorrow what will likely be terrible today. And don’t make terrible today what you can make brilliant tomorrow (or after a nap, or after setting it aside for a time, or after you’ve meditated, or after you kissed someone who really needs a kissing, or after you’ve eaten).

The third step― Do not people-please anybody. Don’t place yourself in a position with an email that puts you needlessly outside of your strengths. Email, e-schmail. This applies to any project: always come from a position of strength…as best as you can for today.

The fourth step―If you walk into a Starbucks and order a gin and tonic, you need to go home, buddy.

The fifth step―Go to sleep.

Be you in everything you do. You probably did a million freakin’ things brilliantly today. A terrible, discombobulated email is hardly going to trigger global mass extinction.

Don’t fear making email errors. Mistakes are generally unavoidable. Focus on what you’re doing right. You can always correct a mistake, revise, reiterate.

Final Steps―Stay focused on improving. James Caan, CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Group, among others, says that the way in which you deliver your message is just as important as what you’re trying to say.

While concentrating on this stuff you’re going to learn what your triggers are in terms of terrible. Don’t skip a meal or short-change yourself on sleep. Those are my triggers. What are yours? How do you solve that problem?

Gertrude Stein Loves Social Media

Social media in and of itself is meaningless.

Shocking declaration from a content writer and social media coordinator, blogger and everything the hell else I am.

The fact is there are worse things that go on and on in our daily lives that interfere with our freedom and self-determination and we love those things. We have a taste for whatever we can use more so than for the things that we can love.

Bear with me on this, because there is a beyond-Facebook point to what follows here. But, let’s get to social media and Facebook as a case in point: There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.

For me, social media is usually thought of as “good” for 5 reasons.

Reason No. 1—Social Media is good because it’s a tool. Not just something we can use but something we can love. As a bright shiny distraction, social media keeps me in touch with people and the thing I value most―relationship.

As a freelancer, social media gives energy and propulsion to mastery and purpose. That is, social media is effective for promoting ideas and plans, for career and evolving projects, for meeting potential clients and launching entrepreneurial initiatives.

I have often repeated that to me social media is underutilized by community development practitioners, counselors, therapists, healthcare professionals and healthcare entrepreneurs. Over the last 2 years, I have witnessed a huge change as these professionals have really caught on. Their relationships have grown hugely matching any and every sector out there.

For me, it begins and ends with relationships. I had a great conversation with a friend of mine, a passionate VP of sales and consultant with a radical web development company. He was telling me about how corporate was pushing for closings. While we sure did agree that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to close more deals, as we spoke we came to a couple of important conclusions.

  1. Closing a deal, like anything else, is not a magical occurrence because it does not exist in isolation, and cannot appear by sheer force of will.
  2. Before you can close, there is a full spectrum of actionable items you need to bridge.

The first and last item on the spectrum is relationship.

Reason No. 2—Social Media can be a veritable provenance of insight, creativity, and well-thought-out viewpoints. Setting aside Caturday and the millionth mention of Nikola Tesla, platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook obviously work for me and other freelancers.

The people I have met through social media have helped me shape my main goals and helped motivate me to move forward―in spite of conventional ideas of what success should look like. My connections and followers on social media have provided benefit and value as I pursue freelancing.

I’ve learned a lot and continue to as relationships grow.

They have inspired an upgrade of self as the new year approaches. Success for me has been hinged on becoming a person business, so to speak―not at all precluding being a business person, but in essence, running my life as though I am the brand.

After all,  I am the capital, I am the operation.

This is a season to explore a sort of economics of Self―an investment in functioning, becoming a think-tank of mission and goals; networked and affiliated, sharing and earning―not merely consuming.

It’s okay to be an artist and a guru, it’s also okay to acquire and accumulate. The seeds I have planted concerning the business I am into today and frankly, the business I am not into (what’s none of my business)—have begun to bear fruit. Even the iPhone pics of the food I cooked at home have provided dividends.

Reason No.3—Because Facebook allows me to stay in contact with the real people in my life, I am enjoying connections with friends, and family [of choice] without having to lie about “let’s keep in touch,” or about FaceTime and phone calls none of us will ever make.

If I had a dime for every time I said or was asked to keep the conversation going. Wow.

There’s at least one opinionated virago out there who’d be happy to tell you: This ain’t news, this ain’t special, interesting or Earth shattering. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Nothing will ever be more interesting than the American Civil War.’

Let the mossbacks say what they like—it’s none of my business. Truth is, I have known some of my Facebook friends―yes indeed they are Facebook “friends,” but they are actually genuine friends, too―going back to the age of 12. We’re in contact with one another because it’s the best way to keep in touch.

Some of the people that I know on Facebook, in fact, the biggest circle of people that I know in social media, are people that I’ve known since I was in my 20s. There are some people in social media that I’ve known from anywhere between 5 years to just a few weeks. Or less.

Reason No.4—My social media presence is evolving as I evolve, and as social media itself evolves. It truly is a journey.

I began freelance writing as a generalist. I was told to find a niche and I organically grew toward creating content for websites and work as a social media coordinator. This wasn’t just something that happened overnight. But being no great fan of irony, I had to make an exception because as I niched down, I expanded my competencies. All because I value relationship building.

This is what happened as a result of nurturing relationships: A potential client and I connected over Skype for a 30-minute meeting. His website content was sparse and poorly written. He wasn’t a writer and didn’t want to be a writer.

We ended up talking for almost an hour and a  half. It wasn’t all business. Not directly. We were getting to know one another as people first, as business associates second.

Then he asked, “How can you expand on what you’re already doing?”

So, not being a fan of irony, I am a huge devotee of the epiphany. The ah-ha moment. The proverbial lightbulb over my cartoon head. The end result of our conversation was that he saw an appropriate fit and hired me as a Social Media Coordinator.

Expanding competencies.

Reason No.5—Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ― Gertrude Stein

There’s a lot of noise on the Internet.  The noise is part of the two biggest challenges that you and I face.

The first is to not allow our best moments and our momentum to get rerouted by every single great idea that pops into our heads.

The second is the closely related Bright Shiny Objects.

I use my Mac’s Stickies, Notes, and Text Edit apps. When I get an idea, it goes on Stickies. If later in the day it seems not too excessively insane, it goes on Notes. Then, if it’s not just another bright shiny distraction, I look into it further.

Some ideas are awesome ideas but they’re not for me. There’s the issue of what resonates and what integrates. If it isn’t fundamental to my process, or can’t become part of the mix, I cannot waste my time on it.

Then there are the pure, unadulterated Bright Shiny Objects. I have mixed feelings about these. Nowadays, I allow myself a short amount of time for them. In the past, I could really mess up my flow, the efficiency of my entire day.

It’s 9:00 a.m., I’m having coffee and researching an article and before you know it, it’s lunchtime and I haven’t written a word. Chasing squirrels is a Bad habit!

Well, not always. There have been frequent experiences where distractions led to discovery. Researching one topic has often led to inspiration, jotting another two or three ideas on Stickies, and honoring my process.

Best of all, allowing yourself to chase something shiny can lead to an introduction.

I consider it quite an honor to have connections on LinkedIn and Twitter with influencers and thought leaders. Maybe some of these relationships were inevitable, but if allowing time for the chase initiated a conversation then no harm no foul.

If we allow a small part of our day to be taken up by a bit of distraction we may find that it doesn’t automatically have to interfere with purpose and mastery.

Mastery is about living our lives in a more meaningful and fulfilling manner.

Purpose strives for achievement.

We are not our distraction. We are made up of countless traits, not just distraction or any other single characteristic or habit. Our daily purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of our work and our being. Work is only a part of our existence and will never to prove our worth.

Whether we’re multitasking, strictly focused, or totally distracted, we have enough fulfillment and purpose to carry us through. Social media engagement has been the capstone of my freelancing adventure.

And sometimes, we do need to disconnect on a whole mess of levels and just be still. Like Gertrude Stein said, ‘Everybody knows if you are too careful you are so occupied in being careful that you are sure to stumble over something.’

Stumble over your next blog topic, your next connection, the influencer or thought leader you connect and engage with. You have the mastery and the tools. Social Media is one of them. Love these things. Love them all.

 

Photo Credit: © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Power of Content & Social Media Expertise

What marketing strategies are you using right now? A more important question might be how well are they actually working for you?

If you’ve given up on using Social Media and Internet marketing vehicles for your business, don’t throw in the towel just yet. In addition to offering a Lifetime of Content Program, I opened the Pk Freelancing Social Media Café.

I help people and businesses implement social media strategies that are proven to generate more leads, website traffic, and targeted followers. My programs are simple to understand and results-driven to get you the best outcomes possible on Social Media.

Social media, when used correctly, can be one of the most powerful business and marketing tools you will ever use. The problem for most companies is that they don’t know where to start or they don’t have the time or staff needed to get consistent results.

My purpose is simple: I Coordinate Your Social Media and Provide Outstanding Content To Make Sure You Get Results. Guaranteed!

I have developed programs that can handle the needs of almost any size company in any industry and in almost any country.

By outsourcing your Content and Social Media needs, you have more time to focus on your business while you leaving your marketing up to a professional at a fraction of the usual cost.

If you want to learn more about Social Media and find out if our plans are a good fit for your business, I would be happy to connect over a 30-minute consultation.

You can follow this link: facebook.com/pkfreelance/

You Can Have Your Cake And Motivation Monday, Too

People hate Mondays. People are so weekend obsessed and getting back to “normal” is such a drag that it’s become the biggest and funniest cliche of all time. It’s so random. Like Tuesday or any other day is automatically not going to be a colossal pain in the ass, because Monday is still the Master of that domain.

I’m not living like that. I’m having my cake and a motivated Monday, too, and so can you!

I love when people start a sentence with, “Like I always say…”

So, like I always say, everything that has a front has a back. If you’re living for the weekend, then you’re also living with the dread that Monday’s coming. Stop it. Stop it now. It’s deficit thinking.

With a growth mindset in place, I see exactly where I’m developing as a freelancer, sitting on the patio with iced coffee, my MacBook Air, wearing shorts and flip-flops. My Hawaiian friends can them rubbah slippah. It’s all about the rubbah slippah, brah. The sun shines on Monday. It shines on Tuesday, and barring South Florida rain, it shines every other day.

One slice of cake I enjoy is that I’m growing personally and my business is growing. Sure, it takes time. I can’t say, “I’ve arrived!” I’m getting there. Satisfied? Too busy with the hustle.

And the challenges in my life are still there. Some of them are very difficult.

For one, I’m far away from the people I love the most. For another, sometimes this freelance journey feels more like a trip down a flight of stairs covered in broken glass than a trip in the sense of, well, you know―a journey.

Feelings aren’t facts. I’m pretty stoked about that, actually.

Sometimes it is difficult (if I didn’t already make that abundantly clear), but it’s my journey in rubbah slippah, and that’s the most important thing. It’s the art of living to make your own way, to create something for your life out of nothing.

My second piece of cake I enjoy (because who doesn’t like seconds?) is cultivating an appreciative mindset where I focus on my strengths. That’s how deficits diminish.

One of the ways I’ve learned to abandon deficit thinking is by diversifying―my portfolio, interests, and abilities―and more importantly, diversifying human contact. Getting to know the personalities and values of the people I want to work with, and holistically addressing needs―now that’s quite the launching pad for a motivated Monday! And Tuesday, and the other days of the week.

Live for the motivation. Live for stimulation and inspiration. Live enthusiastically. Live in rubbah-slippah if you have to.

Nothing is more motivating than hitting the ground running and looking down and actually seeing that you landed on something solid!

This is How You Can Have Your Cake and Motivation, Too

  • Set your mind on emphasizing your strengths and let your deficits diminish
  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Focus on addressing needs
  • Focus on Personal Growth
  • Focus on Business Growth
  • Interact with other writers and freelancers
  • Diversify, in  your own way for you, on your terms
  • Get energized―if you’re not much into coffee and rubbah slippah, give Yerba Matte or BrainJuice a shot.

Have your cake and motivation, too! Aloha nui loa, people.

What it Means to be a Freelancer With a Heart for Community Development

In the broadest terms, being a freelance writer with a heart for community development means that I acknowledge the dynamism of community and seek to cultivate relationships, both personal and professional.

No matter what area of entrepreneurship you’re going for, you want to make a difference in the world, and you can’t do it alone.

Drop Shippers have a strong community in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Scott Dinsmore founded the Live Your Legend community. According to their website, they have over 200,000 members from every country in the world. Live Your Legend Local meetup groups are happening in over 150 cities in 48 countries. For people like me, there are thriving communities like The Freelance Writer’s Union and The Freelance Writer’s Den, among others.

My background in psychiatric care and human services teased this out for me in a more particular way.

Community development workers help communities bring about social change. Social change in this context refers to the results of community initiatives.These developments (get it?) bring about significant alterations in cultural values and norms―changes that yield profound social consequences for the better.

Community development workers collaborate with individuals, families, and whole communities and empower them.

Lab coats and clipboards are exchanged for appreciative collaboration, for planning around specific needs, and for executing joint action plans that benefit every one.

The activity of community development builds stronger, more resilient communities through an ongoing process. The process is about helping people accept themselves completely and unconditionally. When we see ourselves honestly, our strengths are magnified and our deficits diminish. Every one works together toward something deeper, and the community is influenced for the better. When our community is altered positively, lives change.

And you know what happens? People end up showing a lot of heart.

So, this sounds super idealistic. I believe in it, though.

This idealism fuels my writing. Recently, I finished a short story and sent it to a friend to get her impressions. She said it read like I was influenced somewhat by Raymond Chandler. She said a lot of other more incisive stuff, too. The thing is, although I didn’t think about it at the time, there’s a very apt quote from Chandler.

Without idealism, there is no integrity. Without integrity, there is nothing but production.

Without art, idealism, and integrity, all you get is a brick―producing uselessness where heart should be. There are antiquated paradigms out there that are bricking the world. Having a heart for community restores function.

Do I think writing can do that? Yeah. I do because you can’t be productive without heart.

Heart is what urges life-long learning. Heart urges us to be adaptable, to be flexible and urges within us the ability to transfer skill sets from one experience to the next. It is heart that gives us our ability to tolerate fear and uncertainty and potential failure.

This is what it means to be a freelance writer with a heart for community and for individual development. And with it, community development―because freelancing, at its finest expression can support the best of what is for everybody.

So, let’s live to break rules and defy conventional wisdom―that takes heart. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to heed your inner voice and give the heart what it wants.

4 Awesome Things That The Heart Wants

  1. Writing that blurs the lines between art and the art of living.
  2. Writing that’s cogent in its idealism, that causes us to look at what’s working well, and then doing more of that.
  3. Writing that launches us toward what is most alive, most effective.
  4. Writing that says, “Come one! Come all!”

I’m ending this abruptly here. Not to be pushy or anything, but you should be writing.

How To Make The World Great: Embrace Your Story, Embrace Your Complexity

There’s always that anxious temptation to alter my story, to abbreviate or leave out, or to edit for audience. I want to be complex. Not complicated. But, you know what? Sometimes I am complicated. And you know what else? That’s not really my story.

Context and authenticity is everything, and when we seek for an honest inner life we’re sent skyrocketing out of our comfort zone. And often, other folks feel uncomfortable, too. What I’ve learned is that their discomfort is no reason to start editing. My story ultimately belongs to me. Their discomfort belongs to them.

One of the reasons I started to write, and continue to write, is because it doesn’t matter what the subject is, I’m always digging inward. Writing is always a journey inward.

In the 8th grade, my English teacher would quiet down the class and play music for us, from pop tunes to classical music. I enjoyed the quiet and the Beethoven. He would tell us to write out our reaction to the music. It could be anything.

Whether we wrote a story or a poem or a description of whatever the music inspired―what it really was was an exercise in validating what was genuine. This was a unique experience of complexity in a context where I received rare affirmation. What I put down on paper was worthwhile.

At a time when my biggest aspiration was to drop out of school, getting recognition as a writer meant the world to me.

And then my teacher shared some of my writing with the school librarian.

One of the craziest things about this teacher was that if students asked a question and he didn’t know the answer, he’d march the entire class over to the library to look it up. So, on one of those excursions, the librarian pulled me aside and handed me a copy of Victor Hugo’s novel, Toilers of The Sea. It was from his personal collection and was a fairly early, and probably fairly valuable English translation.

“I’ve read your work, and I think you’ll learn a lot from this book.”

He was right. It was cataclysmic. Toilers of The Sea seemed more like narrative poetry and I had never been moved by a book before.

In the novel, the character, Gilliat goes through defining experiences, epic struggles, only to see his dreams vanish. I took it very seriously. Gilliat seemed to have a tremendous level of perseverance, and he was able to show an amazing degree of exertion and achievement. I wanted to be like him, if only on my terms.

From then on, I spent an inordinate amount of time on exactly what my terms were, and are to me.

Years later, I read Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

This is the complexity I chose to embrace. A definition of success that would never rely on what I did for a living, how much money I made, or what toys I owned, but rather on the freedom to choose my own way, with or without approval and acceptance.

Maybe a gilded cage is better than no cage at all, but I have embraced a story with a scenario based on freedom as a measure of success. And being open in my relationships to the freedom of being who I truly am and who you truly are, too. Yeah. I know. Embraceable me.

When you don’t stoop to alter your story, but instead embrace the authenticity of wanting the best for everyone in your world, wanting to make a difference, seeing freedom as success, power as choosing your own way, and taking complexity over complication, the road may not be easy, but it is beautiful.

And all this because I opened a spiral notebook, clicked a pen, and started writing.

“Embrace your complexity, stretch your creativity, and live up to your potential, you are what makes the world great.” ― Dan Wells

I know people who react, and lack self-awareness. It’s okay. I get it. It takes work to respond and to cultivate self-awareness.

Conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires ain’t easy. It’s hard to change bad emotional habits into caring habits. Dr. William Glasser, the creator of Choice Theory said, “All we can give or get from another person is information.”

There’s a deluge of information out there. And a lot of it sucks. We have received information that has been introjected into self that doesn’t belong to us. You’ve gotten that information. So have I.

“Freelance writing? Are you serious? That’s so unrealistic!”

“So, what are you going to do about getting a real job?”

“You’re never going to make any money writing.”

I’m not a skycap and I’m rejecting that information right here, right now. And along with it, the baggage from the past―the bad information that originated in and is inherent to childhood―the values, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that were not introjected from the environment, but rather the story that we have ourselves experienced. This information sucks, too. It’s dulling our ability to respond, and dampening our self-awareness.

The means of entry into becoming a perceptive person begins when we arrive at the question, “Now, in this moment, in this space, what is my reality?”

The real journey inward, whether it begins with a pen and a spiral notebook or not, leads us to a here-and-now state of mind―it is pure perception, without any judgments.

Accept or reject things based on what resonates with you now. Context and authenticity framed by what resonates―you get it? You take an honest account of your current situation, add what’s both significant and appropriate to you now, and rock your personal narrative. Right? Good. Start authoring your story. Don’t hold back. Embrace it. Embrace your complexity.