One year ago today, July 7, 2014, will go down as the worst day I’ve had professionally in my life. It wasn’t that any one thing happened but it was the day when the combined weight of rejection, lost hope, doubt and mounting pressure of several kinds all came together and created a tipping point that sent me into an emotional spiral.

It could have just as easily happened two days later. There wasn’t anything special about the day necessarily. I had been closer to the tipping point than I wanted to admit.

It took the better part of the week to emerge from the despair. By the end of July things were looking up and by the end of August it looked like I was going to be able to finish the year strong…and I did.

Memorializing Your Worst Days
I’m a person of faith and optimism and haven’t hit emotional lows many times in my life so that’s why that particular day stands out to me. A few weeks after that dark day I realized I wanted to keep a reminder of the bitterness of that day so I pulled out an index card and wrote, “Remember that feeling on Monday, July 7, 2014.” Below the headline are a series of bullet points outlining all the things I was realizing or feeling in that moment. It includes points like, “remember how you had little assurance of future work” and “remember how you had just been rejected by your last good prospects.”

I hated the feeling of July 7, 2014, but I don’t want to forget it either. That’s why I needed to memorialize it. That index card has been in front of me every day for the last year. It’s a reminder of how low things can go while also an encouragement about how it won’t be the end of the world either. I don’t want to forget it because when I’m having a bad day it won’t be as bad as that day.

I need it on the good days too. When I’m having a great day, I need to be thankful for the opportunities and stay hungry. Remembering that day will keep me hungry and help me fight against complacency.

Everyone will have a bad day. You’ll also have a worst day. Don’t waste it long after it’s done. Find a way to remember it and use that reminder to push you forward.

Photo credit: Brook Ward via Creative Commons license.

In episodes two and three of the Hinge podcast there are clips from my conversation with Michael Epps Utley of Epps Interactive in Nashville. Michael is a friend and has a lot of wisdom to share…much of which didn’t make it into the previous episodes but is worth sharing.

While I’m working on the next chapter of episodes for the podcast I’ll be releasing a few uncut conversations. This particular recording with Michael was back in early December 2014. A lot has changed in the six months as I’ve gotten more clarity about how I’m hinging yet much of what Michael says that didn’t show up in the official podcast episodes is still very applicable.

In this episode I realized that I had come face to face with a decision to make: am I more interested in making a name for myself or am I more interested in doing something? Those aren’t the same thing each path sets off a chain reaction that leads to different outcomes.

Trying to be somebody is a vastly different goal than choosing to do something. You’ll hear a quote from the 2011 film, Iron Lady, that perfectly captured this thought.

I have chosen my path and it is the one less popular and less travelled. It’s not an easy path but it’s the right path.

Special thanks to Michael Epps Utley and Chris Thomas for contributing again to this episode.

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Last week I was presenting the idea that everything is marketing now to a group of business people in the Nashville area. After the presentation a man came up to me and said, “so basically if I just keep trying to do the right thing by my customers and keep on delivering great services, that’s a big part of my marketing?”

Yes. Absolutely.

If you play out the idea that everything is marketing now to its fullest extent you realize that it brings us full circle to a world in which people used to do business with people they knew and people they trusted. Many years ago that’s the way it was because that was the only option you had. There was only one place to buy certain things in your town or village. Today we’ve come all the way back to that concept but not by necessity but by choice.

Today I can choose a better company that is easier to work with or more friendly or operates in a way that appeals to my conscience. Acting like marketing still operates within a disconnected mass production world is the wrong way to think about it. The world is looking less and less like that.

So yes, the better you make your business, the better marketing you’re doing. People will talk about the experiences they have with your business from the way you answer the phone to the quality of your products or services. When they talk about you, will it be a story you want people to tell? It’s up to you.

Photo credit: “Oahu Explored” by Nancynance on Flickr via Creative Commons license. 

We’re a quarter of the way through 2015 and it’s beginning to look like one of the emerging (reemerging?) technologies for the year will be live stream apps. Live stream apps have been around for years but two new apps have recently launched that push live streaming in new directions.

Meerkat and Periscope have launched apps that allow for social live streaming via mobile phones. They let anyone start live streaming videos with realtime feedback from people they know and people they don’t.

Periscope Rises Above

Of the two, Periscope is the better option by far in my opinion. It’s more user friendly and has some interesting features that Meerkat doesn’t seem to have. Also, it’s now owned by Twitter so you can expect it to be more tightly integrated within Twitter down the road as its popularity rises. That will be good for any business interested in trying to use live streaming smartly. 

Periscope seems to have figured out that some people will be active observers with comments and hearts but they also allow for the passive lurkers who just want to see what’s going on at any given time. Meerkat doesn’t function that way. There’s nothing to do until someone you’re connected to decides to start streaming. There’s no discovery opportunity and that’s a big difference in the two. If you’re going to try one, try Periscope.

Why These Apps Matter

The bigger deal here is not Periscope versus Meerkat, but the fact that live mobile streaming seems to have the first solid opportunity for mainstream adoption that it’s ever had...and that’s where businesses should sit up and take notice. Your customer may soon be live streaming the experience they have at your store or unboxing your product or talking to your service technicians.

It’s really just more of the same though. Right? If we live in a world in which everything is marketing now (and I would argue we do) it’s no different than the customer posting to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram…except this time it’s via live video. Does live video change anything? Do companies respond differently with live streams than with recorded video or photos? We’ll see.

Three Things To Do Today

This is all very new so it’s wide open right now. The rules are being written today. Here are three things you can do today as you consider how live streaming apps may impact your business.

1. Download Periscope and Meerkat. You need to know what these look like, how they function and how people are using the apps. Download them both today and spend some time with them. You’ll inevitably do more with Periscope than Meerkat, but get them both anyway.

2. Notify Your Team. Your employees need to know this exists. They need to be aware of it…particularly if they deal with customers in real life. I know this may be a massive undertaking depending upon the size of your team but Periscope, in particular, is already one of the most popular new apps in iTunes in less than a week and you can expect a lot of new users trying it out. Your team should know this exists and not be surprised if (and when) they find themselves broadcasting to the Internet via a customer’s smart phone.

3. Reveal Something. As you consider how you might use live streaming apps, start with a behind the scenes view of something your business does. Don’t try to sell anything. Give a peek behind the curtain. Talk to the people who comment on your stream. This is a revelatory medium. Use it as such.