It’s hard to believe this is my 100th post on Corporate Intelligence Radio.
I started this blog over two years ago, about the time I committed to writing my novel, which I announced last month. Soon after I started the novel, it became clear that it was going to be a very long time before anyone read a word of it. Initially I was okay with that. Then it became overwhelming. I needed to publish something, to start this dialogue, and I needed a way to warm up my fingers before filling blank pages with thousands of words. The blog became part writing exercise, part wish-fulfillment, and part therapy. It also caused me to talk less to our dog when I was having a particularly slow day on the word processor, which I am not sure she misses.
One of the questions I often get is why I called it Corporate Intelligence Radio. My friend Mitch Dolan who used to run ABC Radio named it. He likes to call me KennyG. If you know me and you know my taste in music, KennyG is a tough fit other than the extrapolation of my name, but Mitch does like to come up with names where I’m concerned. He knew my book was about a radio talk show host and that someday this blog would feed the story, and we have always talked about doing some kind of a show together, so he just said to me over dinner in New York, call it Corporate Intelligence. I tried to get the URL for that but of course could not, so I added Radio and there you have it, a bit of nonsense referencing radio on the internet. Maybe someday we will do that show together and it will make sense, or perhaps when you meet Kimo Balthazer, one of the main characters in This is Rage, you’ll understand. Or maybe I’ll change it. Who knows? Another distinguished publisher I often cite has since started calling a section of their periodical Corporate Intelligence, but I predate them. Plus I have my Twitter handle CorporateIntel, and that will always be mine.
There are a bunch of things I have learned since I began blogging. They are the kinds of thing I really couldn’t have learned any way but doing it. Here are a six (6) that come to mind:
1) STYLE IS CONTENT – For the first year, the hardest part was finding a voice. I had lots of topics, things I wanted to write about, but finding the right conversational tone that could both be mine and yours was the hard part. There were more things to write about than there was a clear way to express them. The longer a post took to write, the less conversational it seemed. I had to learn not to over rewrite, the opposite of the book, where there is no such thing.
2) CONTENT IS HARD – After the first year, coming up with a worthy topic became the hard part. I had honed my blogging voice, but I didn’t want to bore you with things that didn’t matter. To this day I would write more often if I could think up more interesting stuff to write about, but I have a newfound respect for journalists who write a weekly column. For the old school guys who did it daily — Herb Caen (San Francisco Chronicle), Jack Smith (Los Angeles Times), and Mike Royko (Chicago Tribune) — I have no idea how they did it without going bonkers. Sports writers and movie reviewers enjoy a steady stream of topics, news reporters get desk assignments, columnists just gaze until something comes to mind. Pondering is weird, and makes you weirder.
3) THE FIX IS IN – Electronic publishing is really cool, because it lets you fix things and change your mind. I have rewritten very little once I have published here, but every once in a while when I think of a better adverb, I can deploy it painlessly and not even tell you. I can unceremoniously make a No a Yes and vice-versa after rethinking it. I love the Update button on WordPress. Sometimes I wish the rest of the world had an Update button — or the “recall” function on email actually worked, which we know it does not.
4) KEYWORDS RULE, DUDE – Keywords are the lifeblood of online traffic acquisition. Learning to tag is an art and a science, brewed with a touch of alchemy. It never ceases to amaze me how people get here, but other than regular readers, the best door remains random keyword searches, that in Google’s eyes aren’t random. So many of my readers land here accidentally because I indexed well on some search term they queried, and then they subscribe without my asking. What Google sees matters, and what Google indexes is the whole shooting match (plus good writing, of course).
5) YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT STICKS – There is literally no way to know what will get people’s attention and inspire their imagination. Little throwaway pieces I have done have become among my most read, and proclamations of vision and justice died in a few days. You write, and then you set it free. Words have a life of their own after you give them away, and the writer doesn’t get to decide their fate, only their intention, which matters increasingly little across the democratic digital world.
6) TALKING BACK CAN BE A QUIET AFFAIR – I get a lot more private than public comments. No matter how much I encourage people to comment publicly, most people are shy, especially when they have to post under their own name. I don’t blame people for this, who wants to say something in public and risk attack for no particular gain, but it does remind me how brave and vulnerable all writers are. I have become increasingly brave and vulnerable each time I push the publish button, and that’s with a book of fiction on the horizon. Oy, please come along with me, and hey, keep the comments coming, public or private.
So here we are together at my one hundredth blog post, and this is an especially ironic bit of timing because I have just submitted my pre-copy-edit draft of the book to my wonderful publisher, The Story Plant. I promise you I didn’t time it this way, it just sort of happened. I used the blog to pace writing the novel from the blank page through countless rewrites, and sure enough it all came together this year right before Memorial Day. I will continue to blog on the topics I cherish — innovation, creativity, imagination, leadership, vision, business ethics, smart marketing, well-reasoned investment strategy, creative destruction, and every so often politics (say it ain’t so!) — and I will also keep you posted as we take my novel from manuscript to release date on October 8, 2013.
I have already begun discussion of a follow-up book and may bend your ear on that, and of course I want to include you in the sales and marketing journey as my first book comes to market in paperback and eBook. Mostly I just want to thank you for being friends, listeners, readers, and clever people who tell me things I need to know. I have learned way more from writing this blog then I ever imagined, and it is because of you. Writers write surely to be true to themselves, but without an audience it is even more lonely an activity than good sense would suggest. Knowing someone will read the words and share the ideas makes it a community, and hey, that’s intensely gratifying.
Again, my deepest and most sincere appreciation for sharing the journey with me! We’re maybe in the second inning of the first game of a doubleheader, so grab a bag of peanuts and plan to stay awhile. We still have a lot of ground to cover and it will be entirely more rewarding if we do it together.