Tag Archives: Blogs

The Secret Ingredient to Blogs?

(Warning: This ingredient may not be for every blogger.) The ingredient is mixing business and personal issues. Right off the bat, this flies in the face of accepted Public Relations rules. But, the more personal and authentic a blogger can be, the more readers will believe a blog. Why do I say this?

I was honored to have Christine Kent of Ragan’s Media Relations Report cover my story of cancer in this blog. She asked me if there was any upside to executives talking about personal issues in their blog. My response was, “if executives blog honestly and passionately about something personal, there’s no need to figure out if there’s a corporate upside or downside.” The question is not about upside; it should be about authenticity.

People are sick and tired of all the media relations filters. One principle problem with our US Presidential Campaign Death March is everything is filtered down to pablum. No surprise: the one moment Hillary Clinton got emotional in public, the media treated her more positively for her authenticity.

The majority of advice on writing good blogs is keep it short, be punchy, be pithy, be controversial, and the like. While most of this is reasonable advice, speaking from the heart trumps most of this. My longest blogs are my most well read. Another popular piece of advice is have a clear theme or subject for your blogs. Again, I stumbled on mixing business and personal issues at the risk of being scattered, yet today a woman who is a volunteer for Livestrong told me in an email, “I love that it’s corporate and personal at the same time: it’s you. In my work… I have proposed launching blogs with the same natural style. Now I have a good example to show my Board of Directors.” Lesson: Do not obey all the rules. Make your own.

But why mix business and personal issues? Well, it’s not for everyone as I warned at the start. I told Christine Kent it’s Steve Jobs’ business if he wishes to talk about his personal life. Also, the rules are different for public companies.

If you can mix the two, you open the opportunity of showing more passion, more heart, more transparency, and then all that Often Boring Business stuff just might have a chance of being a little more interesting.

What I learned from Cancer 2.0

recovery.jpgSix days after surgery recovering in the California sunshine.

Last week was a Really Great Week. Everything went my way. When you’re a cancer survivor, you don’t forget weeks like this.

The pathology on the tumors they removed was 90% probability they are benign. I did not receive inter-operative radiation. Surgery took two hours and then while still open, the Docs evaluated the tissue for an hour. I could feel the difference when I woke up. My prior surgeries had been eight and fours hours. I knew this one was not as bad.

It was an intense emotional moment to have my wife Jessy tell me the news. When you have a one foot incision, it’s damn hard to laugh or cry. I wept.

Four days later I came home, and five days later I was off pain meds. I feel pretty good.

I learned something powerful when I blogged about my cancer. Although I have a number of incredible lessons from my one-year battle in 2004, this time I was the beneficiary of yet another.

I struggled with writing publicly about cancer. Originally I was only going to blog internally to my fellow Atlassians. It is easy to be inhibited about disclosing this disease to the business community. But everyone has either had cancer in their family or friends.

I wrote the blog last Monday when I found out my surgery was Wednesday. Tuesday, 1002 people viewed my blog thanks to:

The community was awesome. People I never even met wrote me passionate emails. I was touched.

Tuesday, the day before surgery, would not normally be a Real Groovy Day. You go onto a clear liquid diet and clean out your system for the surgery. Not a regimen I would recommend. Instead, it was an exhilarating day. Watching the comments, emails and views pour in from people I inspired turned out to be a massive inspiration to me.

What I learned is inspiration is circular: giving it is very inspiring back. The blog became this powerful therapeutic thing. Right before major surgery. I was psyched. I was so up I ran two miles at 6 A.M. before my surgery. I checked my blog stats one last time Wednesday before going under the knife. I could see I would touch 2,000 people before I was done.

Every time a nurse or resident or Doc talked to me at Stanford, I told them to go read my blog. I jokingly nagged the pre-op team to read my blog while they got me ready. They did! They loved it.

Everyone fundamentally wants to have a positive attitude. I am blessed with being a Pig-Headed Blind Optimist. Paul Herman sent me research that says optimists live longer. Brad Porteus also gave me the Norman Cousins book, Anatomy of an Illness that says a patient’s own powers – laughter, courage, and tenacity – are effective weapons against disease. That’s my strike zone. I guess it’s second nature for me.

Next month I hit the three-year milestone of being cancer free.

Zoli: In the House

Zoli in the house
Our friend Zoli Erdos, of Zoli’s Blog fame, visited us yesterday in the Atlassian San francisco office. We talked about wikis, our enterprise wiki Confluence, Web and Office 2.0, and of course the meaning of life. We got to know Zoli at Office 2.0, when Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes hosted Zoli and the Enterprise Irregulars for dinner. That’s me, Zoli, and Jonathan Nolen, who leads Atlassian’s developers network.

Cartoons, Saville Row Suits, and Blogging…

Hugh drawing … have nothing in common, right? Wrong. Not if you are Hugh MacLeod who I first encountered when I saw a business card he designed for Adriana Lukas. Turns out his cartoons are somewhat well known in the UK, he also does marketing for a Saville Row suit business. We went by his shop on the pub crawl he and Robert Scoble organized, and he is a well known blogger as well.

We had just come from the National Gallery where we were drawing so I asked Hugh to do a cartoon in my sketchbook, and here’s what he was so kind enough to do…

I forgot to ask if this was a self-portrait or directed at me.

Pub Crawl in London

Mulligans PubThe last night in London Robert Scoble and Hugh MacLeod organized a pub crawl. Pub #4 was Mulligans in Mayfair. A bit high tone. I had been told Mulligans was great, and when James Governor of Red Monk handed me a nice fresh Guinness, well… what more does one want? That’s James and me in the pic with Mr. Scoble at work videoing in the background.

It was a great to meet James and find a research firm trying a new approach: creating free, open research. Charging for consulting is fine, but the conflict of interest inherent in the approach of the traditional large research firms is questionnable.

There was no shortage of interesting London bloggers, techies, Guinness lovers on the crawl. Lloyd Davis who moderated the panel I spoke on at Onine Information joined for a while. I also met Mark McGuinness of Wishful Thinking.

Exit Stage Right

I made the switch to WordPress having had it with Movable Type. Movable Type was like sticking needles in my eyes. The engineers at Atlassian like it, and while I like them, there’s a reason why WordPress’ community is so large.

27.2 Billion Blogs Are Not Enough

Certainly not. Why else start a blog? Technorati searches 27.2 billion blogs. Surely the world must be in desperate need of another.

Fact is I only can think of sound reasons for not starting a blog. For starters, one should poke hot needles in their eyes before starting a blog. Why? Because…

1. I need another RSS feed like I need a rabid orangutan swinging a sledgehammer at my teeth. I have too little time to read my New York Times subscription. Long ago I gave up on the time commitment the Economist requires. I am still adapting to the stress and guilt of fifteen saved episodes of Saturday Night Live on Tivo. Right. Another blog.

2. How many of the bloggers out there actually were Journalism or English majors? Who taught these people to write? Surely most of them must own The Elements of Style, The Chicago Manual of Style, or some other handy reference on grammar and writing. Surely.

3. After you read Paul Graham, Guy Kawasaki, Joel Spolsky or a few other of your favorites, I am sure there must be a good million bloggers with something equally insightful to say. That requires only 1 in every 27,200 is brilliant. Aren’t these reasonable odds?

4. There are lots of easy to remember URLs available, so snap one up, flail away at your blog, and launch http://www.rutebega-wind.com. I think it’s available! Or http://www.dog-poop,com. Damn! It’s gone, but http://www.dog-poop.net or the softer, more introspective, more community-oriented http://www.dog-poop.org is available and can clearly differentiate you.

5. There are no shortage of opinions on the web, and upon deep inner reflection, I realize I need lots of advice from total strangers grazing out there. It adds an element of risk and excitement to take advice over the Internet from people who may have driven their own financial portfolio into burning oblivion, who recently have been released from some maximum security prison, or whose level of medication has reached the point that only blogging can release their demons. These must be people I need. 27.2. billion of them will not begin to satisfy my lust.

Yes, I can think of countless reasons for not starting a blog. Perhaps even 27.2 billion if I had the time to ponder.

So with that, I am here. Howdy.