Why the Mushy In-Between Silicon Valley Startups Matter

This morning I was reading Shira Ovide’s article about Silicon Valley’s Meh Middle and nodding my head vigorously. Having been a survivor of some of those very meh startups, I understand how often they’re overlooked. Not everyone is a superstar. And not everyone fails miserably, no matter how often people tell us to Fail Forward. A lot of startups, well, they’re right in the middle. And they tend to be forgotten.

Failure and the Meh Middle

Sometimes I think of the meh middle as large airliners that float down slowly. They don’t go down in flames in a Grey’s Anatomy-styled dramatic crash. Neither do they land perfectly. Some startups might land slightly off the runway and slide into the water. And we never hear from them again. We might hear about them when they’re young companies, but later? Nothing. Nada. Zip. By the way, you might like this article about failure: Is Failure Mandatory on the Road to Success?

Where do the Meh Middle companies go?

Those meh middle companies do not go gentle into that good night as Dylan Thomas said. It’s more like they fade away. Their inventory is sold one day and like an old, sad Blockbuster store, they turn into a place that sells Bundt cakes. Maybe there are a couple of employees in the back, working to clean the place up. Maybe there’s just a guy with a shopping cart taking the used laptops out to the trunk of his SUV, hoping to sell them on eBay. And make a few bucks.

Nobody writes about the Meh Middle guys

Can you imagine a movie or novel about the meh middle guys? It would be like one of those performance art pieces where you watch someone sleep for eight hours. Chris Burden and Andy Warhol both actually did that, but that’s a story for another day. I’m not sure that with social media, people have the capacity to watch someone sleep for very long. We can’t stand to be bored for very long, can we? Even ten minutes of watching would be too much! Personally, I’m a big fan of learning from failure. You might like What Happens When You Focus on Failure and Creativity?

Not minnows, but not whales

As Shira Ovide says these meh middlers are not minnows. But they’re not whales either. They’re sort of like those child actors that you remember every once in a while in the shower. But where are they now? Luckily we have Google to help us remember and unearth photos of what they’ve been doing. We may not always have an accurate record of the companies that slide into oblivion, however. Is it too painful to focus on the startups that are neither dramatic successes or crazy failures?

Why should we care?

Like the dramatic failures, there’s gold to discover in the Meh Middle. If we forget what happened, we could repeat history. Because there were moments where something wonderful and good could have happened. And sometimes those in-betweeners turn things around and become glowing successes. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to have a record of those companies, what went wrong, and what could have been?

#DigiBlogChat Questions for June 1, 2021

Hello everybody! The topic for June 1, 2021 is about adding to our community, with questions by Randy @RandyLyleClark! Join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. PDT, by following the #digiblogchat hashtag.

Here are the questions:

Q1. Why do you participate in #digiblogchat?

Q2. Who have you introduced to #digiblogchat that’s become a regular?

Q3. Who do you know that would enjoy #digiblogchat?

Q4. Who would be an excellent guest host?

Q5. What other chat hosts might appreciate #digiblogchat?

Q6. If you could invite any influencer or celebrity to join us, who would it be?

Q7. Who do you know that fits in with our #digiblogchat culture?

Q8. Who was a regular of #digiblogchat who has gone missing?

Q9. Who do you know that would enjoy many of #digiblogchat’s topics?

Q10. Who is new to Twitter or that doesn’t spend much time on it that would gain by being introduced to #digiblogchat?

 

Ten Quick and Easy Content Ideas for Social Media

So your startup is just ramping up and you are about to start the social media accounts. You have the graphics for the headers done, and have the bios written. What’s next, you might ask? What will you post on social media? Will you say “This is my first tweet.” and leave it at that? Here are some ideas that could help!

Behind the Scenes with the Team

A photo of the whole team with a short caption could be an easy way to start. Describe the office setting and who’s usually there. Maybe explain what each person does, too, but keep it short.

Industry News

What’s interesting and in the news for people who might follow your brand on social media? If your industry news is full of jargon, you might interpret for people. Explain the jargon and acronyms for people. Better still, put all the jargon into a blog post and refer them to it.

Your Ideal Audience’s Pain Points

What makes your audience hurt? Do they have concerns? What is their lifestyle? Describe their pain points in detail and how your service or product could help. Or simply give people ideas on how to overcome their pain points.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people know what you do? What do people ask you all the time? If you’re tired of answering the same questions over and over, put those into a blog post.

Glowing Testimonials

Do you have testimonials? People love to hear what other people think before they buy. Of course, ask before you include people’s words, especially if they were said in private. Even if people gave you a testimonial publicly, it’s a good idea to ask their permission before printing their words.

Inspirational Quotes

What are your/your brand’s core beliefs? Have quotes and explain what the quotes mean to you and your brand. The quotes can be from anyone on the team–they don’t just have to be from the CEO. Quotes are a good way to include everyone on the team.

Mascot Photos

If you don’t have a real mascot, maybe borrow one for a photo shoot! How about a dog, a cat, or a hedgehog? Or a goldfish. Some people even make the mascot their avatar. And if your product or service is related to animals, that’s even better.

Advice for the Person Who’ll Use Your Product/Service

Maybe there’s some advice you can give for an adjacent product. Or what people can expect the first time they use your service. Or some little hiccup people have when using your service.

Share Curated Content

Sharing other influencers’ thoughts can be helpful. For instance, if you’re a window film company (one of the brands I work for), how about posts about interior design or architecture? Wallpaper, remodeling, or avoiding the sun are also good adjacent topics.

Have a Contest

Do a giveaway! If your product is too expensive to give away, maybe something they could use every day? How about branded water bottles? Or tote bags? Some of the best giveaways I’ve received have been small. For instance, I have a little widget that goes over my webcam for privacy.

 

#DigiBlogChat Questions for May 25, 2021

The topic for #digiblogchat for May 25th is work-life balance with questions by Loni of @JorgensonLocker! Join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time for this chat.

Questions:

Q1. What is your biggest struggle when it comes to work-life balance?

Q2. This year more than ever our work and personal lives collided, with so many working remotely. What works for you to separate the two?

Q3. Prioritizing is key. How do you prioritize your most important tasks?

Q4. Do you stick to specific work hours or do you like being flexible? Why?

Q5. Having a functional workspace can help you be more productive. How do you make your workspace work for you?

Q6. A healthy body can help you have a fresh mind. How important is exercise to your daily routine?

Q7. Make time every day to do something you love! What are your favorite hobbies and how do you prioritize them?

Q8. Smartphones can make it hard to “clock out.” How do you make sure your workday is *really* done?

Q9. How do you set boundaries and manage clients/colleagues expectations?

Q10. How comfortable are you saying no to new/extra projects or commitments?

When You Play More, Your Creativity Blooms

I wrote this article after watching the playful wonderland, a video on TED Talks. Take seven minutes to watch it if you’d like to become more creative. Or just because it’s fun to take a break and look at something different.

Steven Johnson, of the above TED Talk, discussed the “strange delight of play.” And claims that you’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

Innovations Occur Because of Play

What I really liked about this TED Talk was the idea of an invention that was surprisingly frivolous (the flute), and how that invention, and inventions like it, fuel innovations. That flute led to the invention of the organ and the organ led to the invention of the harpsichord. And the harpsichord led to the programmable music box. And so on through the programmable loom to the computer.

We Learn through Play

As many parents know, kids learn the best when they’re playing. And maybe adults learn better through fun and playing, too. When kids have positive early experiences, they become happier adults. And those positive experiences include play to a large extent. Play-based learning is important to kids as this article from Edmentum points out, so why don’t we play more as adults? Is it just that we forget how?

Different Forms of Play

For adults, there are board games, online video games, in-person theater games, and all sorts of team sports. Like children, we have our favorites and don’t often stray from those. But what if we all insisted on more play? We would look at things very differently, wouldn’t we? And who says having fun can’t be a part of our work day? After all, having a sense of humor and playing can spark new ideas, add to your happiness, and it’s just, well, fun.

Alternate the Way You Play

When you play in a different way, you may become more creative, too. You might want to decide what fun means to you, and how to incorporate play into your everyday life. Is your form of playing improvisational theater? Is it dancing and singing? Or is it playing mini-golf? Do you need to take a break from working? If so, you might like this article:  Best Reasons to Take a Break from Your Business. (I had fun writing it!)

How Do You Become More Creative?

For me, with the economy opening back up, I’ll be heading to the gym. Not so much to lift weights, but to dance. Yes, Zumba counts as dancing. I’ll also be doing yoga, as well as taking on some more fun projects, which I’ll talk about as they occur. I am thinking about watercolor painting and ceramics, too. Since a lot of our choices were taken away from us, I feel grateful to have more choices.

 

 

#DigiBlogChat Questions for May 18, 2021

Communities

For our #DigiBlogChat on May 18, 2021, the topic is building community. Join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time for a fun and educational chat!

Q1. What comes to mind when you think of community?

Q2. What communities are you involved with?

Q3. What temporary communities have you joined because of Covid?

Q4. How can an online community be strengthened?

Q5.  What are your main reasons for joining communities?

Q6. As we open up after Covid, which communities will you keep?

Q7. How would you go about creating a new community?

Q8. What are the main differences between an online and offline community?

Q9. How have communities made you better?

Q10. What tips do you have for us to strengthen our #digiblogchat community?

 

You’ve Got 15 Minutes on Social Media. Now What?

People always say you can do something on social media in 15 minutes, but can you really? I think if you’re really focused, you can. You can’t get a lot done, but you can do something.

First Things First

Set a timer because you’ve got to get out of there in 15 minutes. And resolve to really get out of there! You may also want to decide on a smallish treat for yourself (helloooo chocolate bar!) once you’re done. Make sure you won’t get interrupted and really focus for that 15 minutes. And speaking of 15 minutes, you might like Five Secrets to Social Media Success: Greatness in 15 minutes day.

Check Your Notifications

The first thing I’d do is check my notifications, especially if you haven’t been on the social media site recently. See if anyone has mentioned you, and thank them or respond. Of course, if it’s been weeks or months since you’ve been on, maybe just issue an apology and leave it at that. You might not be able to go back and respond to everyone. By the way, don’t set up your notifications so they buzz or otherwise hijack your attention. Here’s how to turn them off: This is Why You Need to Turn off Your Social Media Notifications.

Share Something

You can share an picture that you took yourself or a post that someone else had on their timeline. Check that there’s a good image if you’re sharing an article. And say something about it. You don’t have to say a lot, but you could say what you like about the article. If it’s a picture you took yourself, say where you took it or what it reminds you of or something about it. Using talk to text can save some time, especially if you’re on your phone. One way to share something is through Friend Sourcing.

Leave Some Time for Responses

People may want to respond to what you just posted, so make sure to leave a little time so that you can respond back later. In other words, be social. Five minutes should do it, in most cases. And if you’re wondering when you need to respond, here’s a good guide: The Non-Awkward Professional’s Guide to Interacting With Strangers on Social Media. Bottom line? There are different levels of responses, and if someone simply “likes” something you posted, don’t feel obligated to interact with them. A comment, on the other hand, means the person wants to interact with you.

You’re Done!

Eat your cookie, go for a walk, or do whatever you do to reward yourself.

#DigiBlogChat Questions for May 11, 2021

The topic for Tuesday, May 11, 2021 is “Influence and Influencers” with questions by Larry Mount aka @lazblazter! Join us each Tuesday at 1:00 pm pdt and add the #DigiBlogChat hashtag so we all can see your tweets. Here are the questions! 

Q1. Who among us would claim to be an #influencer and can you explain please? 

Q2. What is the role of influence in brand management?

Q3. What concerns might you have about #influencers and why is that? 

Q4. What is the relationship between Social Media marketing and #Influencers? 

Q5. If you aspire to #influence where do you start in terms of #SoMe platforms? 

Q6. Is it appropriate that @tiktok and @insta appear to lack regulatory controls to protect against exploitation? 

Q7. How would you educate for responsible use of influencers by brands? 

Q8. What is your success recipe in this space, do you blog, are you exclusive to a platform? 

Q9. Is it reasonable to advocate colorful video clips as the fastest means to recognition as an #influencer? 

Q10. If #influence can pay dividends to us all, do we need to work still?

Best Reasons to Take a Break from Your Business

While most of us know intellectually that it’s a good idea to take a break and go on vacation, with the pandemic, it’s been more difficult than at other times. But getting away is critical for our mental health, and to prevent burnout. Here are my reasons for taking a break.

Get a fresh look at old ideas

Do you find yourself going through the motions sometimes, like I do? Sometimes I find myself doing things just because that’s why they’ve been done before. Like somehow that habit became set in stone. It’s so useful to ask why things are done a certain way. For instance, why publish blog posts on a certain day, or why make them a certain length, or why write them at all? Are you stuck for ideas about blogging? Then you might want to try these: How to Quickly and Easily Unleash Your Blogging Creativity.

Totes ma goats

Take some photos you can use on your own accounts

Do you find yourself with a lack of creativity? Recharging the battery seems to always recharge the well of creativity, too. When you get outside there’s the fresh air, the open road, and the mini-golf! If you’re looking for some wonderful photos, my good friend Beth Staub at Adventure Photo Studios takes photos and also sells them. I love her nature photos, in particular.

Irises

Meet up with friends

One of my favorite ways to spend days off is talking with friends. They always give me a fresh perspective, and make me laugh. And of course laughing is a major way to prevent stress from building up. For me, it’s been about a year since getting any time off–which is way too long! So even though we didn’t go anywhere exotic (hello Humboldt County!), it seemed far away. By the way, you might like this article about friend sourcing. Friend Sourcing: the New Way to Content Creation?

Humboldt

Talk about something else other than your business

When I’m at work, I tend to meet people in similar businesses. But while traveling, there are so many other people in different professions. Sometimes that hyperfocus on business isn’t a good thing. We spoke with people of all ages, with different jobs, who lived in different places. Our friends at home are more like us, so we don’t get that infusion of new ideas.

Spend time playing for good ideas

Playing isn’t just for kids. It might be even more important for adults! While away, we played mini-golf, something I hadn’t done in years. It was one of the silliest courses (and some of us may have cheated just a little), but it was so much fun! Read this Forbes article about The Importance of Play.

 

#DigiBlogChat Questions for May 4, 2021

The topic for #DigiBlogChat on Tuesday, May 4th, is how to create the perfect headshot with Beth of @AdventureGlass! Join us each Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time for our fun and educational chat. Here are the questions:

  1. Getting a headshot?  What are your responsibilities vs. the photographer’s responsibilities?
  2. What questions should you ask your photographer before the session?
  3. What clothes work best for headshots?  Colors?  Why?
  4. Indoor vs outdoor – what do you like best and why?
  5. MAKE UP – yes, even men – what are the best practices?
  6. What is the number one thing to remember when getting a head shot?
  7. Do it yourself vs pay for a photographer – what are your thoughts? Why?
  8. You get what you pay for – what should headshots cost from a pro? Why?
  9. Editing – how do you like your editing?  Wrinkle free or leave me alone? Why?
  10. Angles – it really is all in the angle – show us your favorite angles and tell us what angles you avoid and why.
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