What I've learned in 2007

Everyone is doing these 2007 wrapups, which are great ways to get more traffic to old posts. I should probably do one of those for my video show, but I have something else on my mind. I’ve put a few over on my link blog, but only the very best ones I’ve seen.

2007 was an incredible year for me in terms of life teaching me lessons. The lessons came at me fast and furious, so here’s some that had an impact on my life.

1. Having a new child in the family is a real joy. My only regret? Every day is going by so freaking fast. Neither Patrick nor Milan will ever have another day just like today. Neither will you or I, for that matter.

2. I lost a few good friends this year. Lesson? Today might be the last. Make the best of it and make sure your insurance is up to date (which we updated recently).

3. Pay attention to the “unimportant” people in your life. Last year this goofy guy walked into the CES BlogHaus. I introduced him to a few people and did an interview with him. He wasn’t famous. Didn’t have a blog. Hadn’t started a business or done anything that anyone would qualify as “important.” But between January and now he’s become a New York Times best selling author and he’s gotten me onto CNBC and the New York Times. All cause I paid attention to him back when he wasn’t “somebody.”

4. If your company doesn’t have a story to tell watch out. Keys I’ve learned? Every employee better be able to tell the story. The story better be reflected in the pitch the CEO does. Mike Arrington better understand the story if you want him to help you out (and Mike is just a metaphor here for any journalist or blogger). Your VCs better understand the story. The story better not change. For instance, the story behind Channel 9 at Microsoft hasn’t changed in four years. It was a community and an openess project that helps people get over their fears of Microsoft just like how Lenn Pryor was scared of flying (a pilot told him to turn on channel 9 on United Airlines). Does your business have a simple, compelling, story? My next thing will.

5. Are two employees of yours pulling your company in two different directions and messing with your story? You’ve got to solve that and solve it fast. Make one of those people work for the one who is closest to your business’s story. Don’t have a story? Fix that and fast. It won’t end well.

6. Everytime my ego tells me I’m important for some reason bad things happen in my life.

7. On the other hand, everytime Loren Feldman or Valleywag beat up on me good things happened in my life. Including even this past weekend. We’ll talk at CES about the latest good thing. So, bring it on in 2008!

8. If Marc Canter wants to take you out for a meal, go. The dude knows the best restaurants in tons of cities around the world AND knows how to make each one an incredible experience.

9. Revenues cover up a variety of sins. No revenues? You better be freaking perfect.

10. The one who has the most friends on Facebook, Twitter, Upcoming, Yelp, Plaxo, Flickr, etc does NOT win the game. But, the one who FOLLOWS the most people on each of those DOES have a better life!

11. When people were courting me to join them invariably they’d pitch me with “do you want to make a lot of money?” I always hesitated on that question. Why? I know lots of miserable wealthy people. The right question? “Do you want to have a ton of incredible experiences and great friends?” Now THAT I can say yes to, and do often.

12. If people are loyal to you, reward that loyalty. That’s why Rocky Barbanica and Shel Israel are two great friends.

13. When your wife asks you anything about stuff like whether or not she should go back to work, or whether she should buy a new jacket, or have her mom come live with us (which just happened) the ONLY correct answer is “do whatever makes you incredibly happy.” I’ve said that quite a few times this year and it’s ALWAYS paid off. Luckily I married a woman who always makes the right choice, so that’s easy to say.

14. It’s easy to build an audience by tearing other people down. It’s far harder to build one by building them up. Why is that? Humans love messes — it’s why we slow down on the freeway when there’s a big wreck. Building up people and companies is a lot more fun long term, though.

15. When my audience has said I’m wrong they are right at least 90% of the time (and probably more).

16. The more I read, the more interesting my life becomes.

17. Learning to swim through noise is one of the best skills I’ve learned in the past few years. Got me ready for Twitter. As I type this post there is a new Twitter arriving on my screen every two to 10 seconds!

18. Dealing with continual partial attention is a skill that psychologists and other mental health professionals will be studying for years. I’m learning that it does destroy productivity, which is why I force myself to do at least one video everyday. That turned out to be a brilliant decision (thanks to Andrew Baron of Rocketboom for telling me that). Thanks to Linda Stone for bringing continuous partial attention to my attention. Speaking of Linda, her dinners had a deep influence on me.

19. The world of media is undergoing deep changes that few people really understand. Everytime I show people my cell phone and explain it’s now a TV station their mouths hang open — they can’t believe that I can send video to the world from a cell phone. For free.

20. The two things I got most excited about (iPhone and Facebook) have ended up being the two biggest technology stories of 2007. I’m seeing less and less utility in Facebook, though, and what’s funny is when I met some people in the London Underground they said the same thing. So, Facebook will probably be the story of 2008, too. Will it keep its users? Will it find a good business model, etc etc?

21. Blogging is still a fad. Heheh. But now it’s a Twitter fad. A Tumblr fad. A Pownce fad. An Utterz fad. A Seesmic fad. A Kyte fad. Bring on the fads!

22. I’m not a good manager. The one employee I didn’t screw up this year was Rocky and I’m too scared of him to mess with him! :-)

23. Living life in public +is+ weird.

24. The best clients are ones who believe in you from the start and don’t need to be sold. That was true back in the 1980s when I worked a camera store counter and it’s true today with Seagate and, now, AMD who is sponsoring our CES shows.

25. There is absolutely no way to thank everyone who participated in this grand experiment this year. One thing that does is create a karmic imbalance that pressures me to step up my stuff for you next year.

26. If I do something really idiotic, it gets viewers. If I do something really smart, it gets participants. Ask anyone who has been linked to by Digg and they’ll tell you the difference between a drive-by reader and someone who sticks around and participates. That said, being an idiot did get me in that famous Bubble video! :-)

27. If your business is being run right the people who bring results to the boardroom table are probably getting more and more responsibilities. If they aren’t that’s a sign that the business isn’t being managed well and the right things aren’t being measured (or reported).

28. The worst thing I did all year is not answer your emails.

29. When your audio sucks on your video nothing else really matters.

30. There’s nothing worse than an A-list blogger who thinks he/she knows it all. Yes, I’m looking in the mirror.

31. I did six Amazon Kindle videos. The one where I was a jerk got 10x more traffic than the other five, where I was much fairer.

32. Everytime my wife tells me to do something (or not to do something) and I don’t listen to her bad stuff happens. It’s amazing, but true.

33. Whenever someone says that they are unsubscribing (or unfollowing on Twitter) my subscriber and follower numbers go up (and I’ve compared to my friends and they also say the same is true). Me? Maybe if you aren’t making some people mad you aren’t being interesting enough?

34. I didn’t exercise enough in 2007.

35. I wasn’t nice enough to enough people. Everytime I treated someone rudely they went to Valleywag or Uncov or Fake Steve Jobs and told the world what a jerk I was.

36. No matter whether I did something idiotic or brilliant Dave Winer kept being my friend. So did Buzz Bruggeman. Chris Pirillo. Jeff Sandquist. Shel Israel. Rocky Barbanica. Teresa Williamson. Francine Hardaway. Loic Le Meur. And a bunch of others — this list could go on for pages.

37. I miss my friends from Seattle. Chris Pirillo. David Geller. The Jeung’s. Steve Ball. Buzz. In 2008 I’m gonna come to Seattle more often to reconnect.

38. The interesting stuff that’s happening is going on outside the valley. What I find is interesting is that everyone assumes that things like Twitter and Facebook are happening only in the Valley or in San Francisco. That’s not true, just watch http://www.twittervision.com to see how wrong that assumption is. I want to go to China, Russia, and India in 2008 and I bet I’ll get to at least one of those places.

39. Big mistake? Not spending more time working on posts. The ones where I thought about the post for hours turned out great. The ones I banged out really fast without thinking too much? They are the stupid ones.

40. Not spending enough time with Patrick/Milan — they both bring such joy to my life when I hang out with them. Not to mention that Patrick is quite a geek and is figuring out stuff that I haven’t yet (I don’t play World of Warcraft, for instance, but he’s getting to be darn good at it). Gotta go.

I’m sure I’m forgetting about 1,000 other lessons I learned in 2007, but there is a limit to the length a blog post should be.

Happy New Years to each and everyone of you!

It’ll be interesting to see what lessons I learn in 2008. One thing for sure: you’ll get to learn from my mistakes as I make them! (And you’ll get to throw metaphorical fruit at me for doing so. Heheh). Take care and see you in 2008!

Australia: keeping the Internet clean for kids

Australia is censoring the Internet so that kids won’t have to see objectionable material. Sounds good, right?

I’m just surprised that the Bush administration hasn’t tried something like this here before Australia got a chance to do it.

Sigh.

The librarians have some questions.

Our rights are under attack, but gotta protect the children, right?

I have two children and I’d rather raise them with freedom of speech than some government deciding what they can and can’t see, thank you very much.

Trend for 2008: Geeks doing Good?

I really hope this is a trend in 2008. Jeremy Toeman is one of those guys who inspires me to do better. Yesterday’s volunteering at the San Francisco Foodbank was a lot of fun. Not just because we helped out our local community, either. But because people from Yahoo, Google, Wired Magazine, Mahalo, AOL, AdBrite, and quite a few other tech companies came and pitched in. This was a KILLER way to network. Certainly better than going to one of those parties where you just consume alcohol and trade cards. We got a demo of the OLPC from a geek who already is hacking it and we learned a lot about the needs in the local San Francisco community from a great tour (Part I, and Part II) — this is why you should empower your employees to talk on your behalf. Imagine if George, the warehouse supervisor, had to check with PR like most employees at big companies do. Remember, this was a weekend and that was above and beyond — it’s the kind of testimony that reminds us that some people don’t just have jobs, they have callings.

The audio with Qik is too scratchy to use for serious stuff like this, though. I gotta find another way to stream video with my cell phone.

"What's your audience size?" is wrong question

I’m reading my feeds this morning and see a few people talking about audience size for videobloggers and other content people. Here’s a sample:


Henry Blodget points out that Perez Hilton
has a huge audience, but hasn’t yet been able to sell much advertising to it.

Hugh Macleod applies some new math in figuring out the size of his audience (or other peoples, for that matter).

In the past few years I’ve had some success building audiences, but I found that that’s not really what’s important. It’s not what advertisers REALLY care about.

So, what do they care about?

1. Are you getting content that no one else is? For instance, today over on ScobleShow we have an interview with Rondee. A startup building a conference calling service that’s really great.

2. Does that content cause conversations to happen? If you use Google Blog Search, do you find anyone linking to it?

3. Does that content get noticed in the niche you’re covering? If you’re trying to cover do-it-yourself crafts or robots, for instance, does Make Magazine notice it and link to you?

4. Even more importantly, does it get the most credible and authoritative to link to you? Notice in point #3 I mentioned Make Magazine. In the do-it-yourself movement I can’t think of anything more credible or authoritative. So, getting a link from that matters more than getting a link, from, say, Loren Feldman over at 1938Media. Keep in mind that because Loren is funny his audience size might be bigger than the one hanging out over on Make. But no one will buy an ad on your site cause Loren made fun of it. They might, however, buy an ad if Make links to you a few times a month.

5. Chris Shipley’s Demo Conference proved to me it’s not the size of your audience that matters. It’s WHO is in the audience that matters. She has a micro audience. Usually about 1,000 people. But they include VCs, bloggers, journalists, and other influencers on whether startups get noticed or not. She usually has 60 companies on stage that each paid $18,000 to be there and most people in the audience paid more than $1,000 to listen to them.

6. I’ve been having lots of conversations with my producer, Rocky Barbanica, about the new thing that we’re doing (if you haven’t heard yet, we’re leaving PodTech and starting something new on January 16th — we’ll announce that on the 16th). But I never talk with Rocky about how large my audience will be. No, instead, we’re talking about who we want on the show for the first week. How can we make the quality better? Who is out there who is doing innovative stuff that we can learn from? Epic-FU, for instance, is one show I’m watching a lot. I’ve never heard Zadi or Steve (the two who do Epic-FU) talk about how they can get a large audience (I’ve been on several panels with Zadi). Instead she asks “how can I take my art further?”

And, THAT is the right question.

How can we take our art further?

How come bloggers never obsess about THAT?

back to reading feeds and thinking about taking my stuff to the next level.

The RIAA is right

UPDATE: turns out that the blogs I read yesterday weren’t quite accurate. Engadget updated their post. Sorry for passing that along.

I see a lot of you are pissed off at the RIAA for saying that you can’t rip your own CDs.

Me? I think they are right.

Why?

1. Cause no one should copy Britney Spears, not to mention listen to her. The RIAA is doing us a service by making sure we don’t listen to her. Oh, and the RIAA is so brilliant that they brought us Britney in the first place (and now Hannah Montana) and that’s evidence enough that they are right and we should listen to them.
2. Because no one should be allowed to use music how they want. For instance, I hate using a CD player. Why? That requires me to get off the couch, find the darn CD and hope I put it away properly after that fun party, and then find the song I want instead of just opening iTunes from my couch and clicking on the right song. The RIAA is doing us a service by forcing us to get off the couch and get some exercise.
3. Bits have feelings too. Turning them from 0 to 1 hurts them.
4. They’ll force the kids to buy non-DRM music from the get go and not buy any CDs. Good for the environment! (My son, Patrick, says he only buys MP3′s or AAC’s without DRM now off of his online music stores).
5. This behavior will make sure people buy (or steal) music directly from bands. See how Radiohead did it. By doing that the price for music will go down thanks to fewer intermediaries. RIAA is just helping us get rid of them, which is good for everyone who loves music. See, they are on our side! I’m looking for a site that lets us do Vendor Relationship Management with bands. Doc Searls taught me about VRM. What is that? When we can get the company to do what WE want. Radiohead put the power of setting the price in OUR hands. Brilliant.
6. My son says that since they are making stealing music so dangerous (the kids are hearing the stories about parents getting sued for hundreds of thosuands of dollars) that they are getting paranoid about stealing music. So, what do they do instead? Have you heard of iPod trading? You will. Ahh, and we thought “sneaker net” was dead? Yeah, right. The RIAA brought it back.

See, we should all thank the RIAA for doing such a great job and making our lives better!

A look inside storage service Box.net

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/12/PID_013248/Podtech_BOXdotNET_demo.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/home/4791/demo-of-online-storage-service-boxnet&totalTime=272000&breadcrumb=0b043a3bbab045afb7a5d4d2d04e8954]

I’m still hard at work at PodTech getting videos until my last day there on January 14th.

Here’s a look at Box.net, a cool storage service. Put your files up here.

Demo of the service
(embedded on this post).
Interview with the founder/CEO.

Thanks Aaron for inviting me over to see your latest features!

Why isn't Scoble against 'thought crimes bill?'

Better Bad News asks why I’m not speaking out against Senate Bill S-1959.

Good question.

It just wasn’t brought to my attention until now.

So, now that it is, I’ve gotta say this bill is really pretty horrid. But don’t take my word on it. Look at Justanothercoverup and what they have to say about it.

Here’s the text of the bill
.

Or even more people trying to get this bill stopped.

Thanks to Better Bad News for bringing this to my attention and forcing me to take a stance on it. Really horrible stuff.