Social Media is Bullshit Is Getting A Sequel (Finally)

FeaturedSocial Media is Bullshit Is Getting A Sequel (Finally)

About two years ago, maybe a little longer, I was talking to you about writing a sequel to “Social Media is Bullshit.” Then, not long after I started that process, I wound up ghostwriting a book that dealt with similar themes. (As Forest Gump once said, “And that’s all I have to say about that.” Since, you know, talking about something you ghost wrote defeats the purpose of ghostwriting for somebody.)

I have a few people now who want me to ghostwrite books for them, but that’s not exactly the career I envisioned at this point in my life. I’ve always had two tracks going in my head.

Track A: World’s greatest stay at home Dad.

Track B: Selfishly, and not to sound like your typical egotistical male author, the career I wanted was filled with lots of media coverage, dating beautiful women, and having enough money where I would just write and not be bothered by anything else.

I can easily do Track A doing the ghostwriting thing, but not Track B.

Until recently, I was all set with Track A. Track A was awesome, but then …

Last week, I removed myself from a multibillion-dollar project. I don’t want to get into why just yet, but for our purposes now, I walked away from A LOT of money.

If I were still going out with the girl I was dating in September, I would have stayed with that project. Track A, you know? My mindset was, “If she’s in, I’m in. Let’s have children. I can be the world’s most awesome Dad, and if I need to deal with the issues that come along with this project, I’ll do it for her.” But she said she wasn’t in. Bummer, for sure, but on the plus side, the reason to deal with those issues associated with this project were now gone.

I was happy to go with Track A because the challenge I’ve had with writing another marketing book is the question of “why bother?” What more is there to say?” For you, I wrote just the one book, but this new one would actually be my third. That’s years worth of research and writing about this stuff going back to 2009.

But given that I’m now in a situation where I’m looking at a blank slate, it’s given me a lot of time to think about Track B. And thanks to the project I walked away from, I realize there’s still plenty left to say.

 

The List of Jericho

the-list-of-jericho

I’ve been keeping a list in my head since “Social Media Is Bullshit” came out. It’s all stuff that I wish I could have included but didn’t, either because I wasn’t aware of it at the time or because it got cut by editors:

1.   I want to get into more detail of how the media tends to interact with this stuff because in doing so, you have a way better understanding of why things explode the way that they do, and you’ll see little of it has to do with “the power of social media.” (This is especially true every time you see some story about influencers or “rising stars on X social media platform.” You never hear about the PR firm or the agency pushing those “rising stars” and the amount of money spent offline to drive that online “influence,” what of it that there is.)

2.  I want to talk a bit more about algorithms and some of the other black hat stuff out there. Not in a ton of detail, you can lose people when you talk about anything too technical, but part of showing people the Internet (and Social Media) isn’t magic has to include some coverage of this. Because the second you learn that Facebook has a system that can be gamed, and even to this day, continues to be gamed, you realize that it’s just a channel like anything else. The Fake News thing is only the most recent example in a long history of Facebook’s system getting gamed.

3.  I do want to give the devil its due. Three things should have been said in “Social Media is Bullshit” in a bit more detail:

-Social media can be useful regarding giving a voice to communities and people who traditionally have not had one. What’s going on with Standing Rock is a good example of this. (Ditto: What is true in Western Cultures is NOT true in Eastern cultures in terms of their use of social media.)

-Social media can be good when used appropriately with a strategy and a lot of money (because it is a paid advertising channel).

-And sometimes, your boss doesn’t give you a choice. You MUST use social media, not because it’s great or will serve your needs, but because you have NO choice. People at P&G were the first ones to tell me about that last one in 2012, but I’ve encountered it again and again ever since.

4. I want to talk about goal setting, putting a proper plan in place (and having an excellent Plan B), and using data to make better decisions without letting the data ruin you. Even today, there are LARGE companies with huge national presences and a lot of money to spend that have no idea what the fuck they’re doing. That’s terrifying because (as I said in the first book), what the large enterprises do, the small businesses follow, and that’s not acceptable. However, what I did NOT do in the first book that I should have, is presented people with a plan. That is what I heard the most from this first book. “OK smart ass, I get that its bullshit. So, what do I do?”

5. I want to have a section just on the presidential election of ‘08, ‘12, and ‘16. There has been so much bullshit surrounding all three campaigns about data and social media, and I don’t want to go into 2020s presidential election without feeling like I did my part to explain why stuff like “Trump won with Facebook quizzes” is nothing but hot garbage.

6.  I want to talk about people and why they do what they do. Why they share the things they share and how to increase the probability of success (something else that I’ll cover) regarding any of your future projects. I’ve been a word-of-mouth Marketing guy since 1998, and while other books have tackled this, a lot of it is done with the same kind of bullshit you see in the social media and digital marketing space. So being able to talk about this, even if it’s just a chapter, I think is incredibly useful.

7.  And then, close the book talking about what I think the larger trends are (Peak Internet and people going offline).

 

Will There Be A Sequel To “Social Media Is Bullshit”?

 

I know, with other authors, they’re constantly churning out books. I’m going to tell you straight up; I can’t do that. It took me three years to do “Social Media is Bullshit” (2009, 2010, 2011), and it took me three years to do the ghostwritten book (2014, 2015, 2016).

That’s just the sheer scale of research that goes into these things. I still have a crate in my parent’s garage right now with all the books used in the ghostwritten book, and in addition to those 60 books, there was another 30 on my Kindle in addition to scholarly, original research I did using university archives and conducting interviews. It’s a lot.

If we’re realistic, if I started RIGHT NOW on “The Internet is Magic” / “People Are Assholes” / “Peak Internet” / “How To Be Internet Famous” / Whatever the sequel is called, you ain’t seeing it until 2020. MAYBE 2019 if I self-publish the thing, but not until 2020 if it’s put out by St. Martin’s or whomever.

So yes, because I’m back on Track B, there will be a sequel. It will cover everything I mentioned above, and it’ll probably be out in 2020.

I’m also going to be fully transparent in this whole process. That’s something I couldn’t do with the ghost writing, and it’s something I didn’t think to do with “Social Media is Bullshit.” As I work on this thing, I’ll post everything on this website. So in addition to possibly running for Congress and blogging about depression in the tech industry (and managing my own) you can look forward to that in the not too distant future.

The funny business book reviews are getting their own website along with my new agency. Speaking of … There is a way I can do the book much, much faster. It requires the support of a larger advertising agency. That’s a discussion that was had in 2014, and given what’s going on with my company right now, that’s a discussion that may pick up steam again in January.

If anything happens there, I’ll let you know. Actually, if anything happens concerning the sequel, I’ll post about it right here.

 

(Photo Credit: B.J. Mendelson, from the second floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.)

 

Upset about “President Trump”? We Can Do Something About It

Upset about “President Trump”? We Can Do Something About It

Although I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, I voted for Hillary Clinton. Whatever my issues were with her, and there were many, the choice between her and Donald Trump was a simple one. At least with Hillary, I knew the person entering the White House was competent, thoughtful and capable. She’s a badass when it comes to policy and government. Even the most jaded Republican or Conservative will tell you that. There is no question, leaving other issues aside for a moment or personal politics that Clinton would have been excellent in the role of president. Like John McCain, Mitt Romney and Joe Biden, whether you agree with their politics or even like them as people, Hillary Clinton was one of the most qualified people to seek the office of the presidency that our generation has ever seen. We can’t say the same for the other guy.

I will say this for Trump; however, and I think fair is fair here: A lot of people were hurt, angry, and upset about their situation in life after the Great Recession. We were told the economy was recovering, but you don’t have to look past this summer at the AP’s “Divided America” series to see how the recovery was only true for some parts of the country, not all. Both Democrats and Republicans did nothing to help these people, instead of catering to other, more wealthy constituents (Democrats), or their parties extreme, obstructionist fringe (Republicans). All the while, some (not all) members of the media were acting as mouthpieces for these politicians to explain everything away, and sweep other things under the rug that went against the narrative.

So Trump and the people advising him were smart and rode that wave to the White House, the same way George W. Bush created a wave with Evangelical Christians, something that began the splintering of the Republican Party that we see today, Trump also had a dynamic personality. Regardless of whether or not you or I like what he said, until he got closer and closer to the White House, we all had a good laugh as he ripped through a field of boring and bland Republican challengers. Then the media, many of whom were in the bag for Clinton since Day One like The New York Times, went after Trump and smeared him with everything they had. All of which was fair. He does say and do stupid things, but in the process of smearing him and treating a Clinton victory as inevitable, the media influenced all of us to look beyond the issues that were powering Trump’s campaign. We were quick to say, “Look at all those racists, how horrible” and didn’t stop and ask ourselves whether there was something more going on behind the scenes that were fueling that hostility in the first place.

It’s 2000. People like Nickleback Without Any Irony

It reminds me of 2000. Al Gore, a deeply flawed candidate who lost his home state of Tennessee (a rare thing to happen in presidential elections and something that cost him the presidency), lost to George W. Bush. Someone everyone thought was an idiot. Gore also lost despite winning the popular vote. Then we elected that “idiot” again after he started a war for no reason in Iraq and destabilized the Middle East in the process. That’s how we wound up with Isis, by the way. They were al-Qaida in Iraq and then rebranded when even al-Qaida thought those guys were too extreme for them. (Seriously.)

There are some major differences between now and 2000, however. In 16 years, and going forward into the 21st century, our country has, wonderfully, grown more diverse. As much as I’ve written about how many online platforms can be terrible for business and marketing (depending on your audience, your budget, and how you want to utilize them), nobody, not myself and other social media skeptics, can dispute that these platforms have provided a voice to people who historically have not had one.

In 2016, as the AP pointed out, we’re also still struggling as a country economically. My generation is scarred by a Recession that should have been called a Depression. Depending on where you are in America, your city and home may have recovered, or it may have not. In places where the economy has improved, there are profound questions about the future. Questions about job security between the rise of automation and shareholders stupidly focused on quarterly results and not the long-term play, leaving job cuts, outsourcing, and other tactics on the table which are ideal for the owners of those companies and bad for everyone else.

Climate change is no longer something that Al Gore scared the crap out of everyone within his terrifying powerpoint presentation. (Isn’t every Powerpoint presentation terrifying, though?) climate change is here, and we need to start planning appropriately to minimize what damage we can. I don’t know if Green Jobs and Green Power (tenants of the Green Party Platform) will ultimately solve our problems on the environmental front, but I’m for anything that gets people work and doesn’t make the situation we’re dealing with any worse.

So we need new ideas, and to get those ideas we need better funding for public schools and colleges. Charter schools are bullshit. I’m completely opposed to them except in extreme instances. You have the right to practice and enjoy your religion. You do not have the right to take resources from public schools to do that. They’re children, not products. It’s a school, not a factory. There are some things the government can certainly scale back its involvement in and ease everyone’s tax burden, absolutely, but when it comes to public schools and public colleges? Nope. We all have to chip in. Otherwise, you get Trump, man. Is there seriously a better advertisement for why you should educate your children, and put the money into educating other people’s children than the words “President Trump”?

And there are other things I think we should pay for. Either through taxes, public-private partnerships, tax incentives for private developers, whatever it takes to get the job done, and that’s infrastructure. I know we’ve been talking about this as a people and as a country for almost nine years now, but when it comes to this country’s infrastructure, the time for talk is over. Whatever it takes to rebuild, reinvest and recommit to infrastructure projects? We have to do it. We know this creates jobs, improves the quality of life, allows for businesses to grow. It’s insane to me that regardless of what your political affiliation is that we resist infrastructure projects and developments because of this crippling nearsighted myopic that our politicians, Democrats and Republicans, have all suffered from since 2000.

One last thing, and there will be plenty of time to talk in the days and weeks to come, but if there’s anything a Trump Presidency has shown us, it’s that we need a radical change in the way government works. I’m a student and fan of American history. I know that the framers of the constitution meant well and did what they could at the time that they did it. Let’s be fair to them because it’s been cool to crap all over the Founding Fathers for politically correct reasons, and some of it’s justified, and some of it’s not, but it’s time for a change.

For example, I think that the Electoral College has to go. That Election Day should be a national holiday (or moved to the first Saturday of the month), and that you should be able to vote from your mobile device or laptop using an app that verifies your identity using three-step verification (thumbprint, confirmation from a secondary device, and then a selfie scan.) I don’t think Congress should have sessions. If you work almost every day of the year, so should they, and they should have term limits with severe restrictions on who can, and can’t, pay for their political campaigns.

We’re supposed to be a government by the people and for the people, but these days it’s a government for the corporations, by the media and fuck the people.

I’d like to change that. I’ll tell you how real soon. #getread

Solving An Actual Problem: Startup Founders and Depression

Solving An Actual Problem: Startup Founders and Depression

I’ve been in a funk recently. I made the classic mistake of getting excited about a couple of things on a personal level, both of which didn’t work out, and I’ve been bummed about it. I should know better by now than to be bothered when this happens. But it still does, and then I go into a spiral where I don’t talk to anyone for weeks / months and just pull back on everything. Like wanting to have children. I’m excited about having children soon-ish, but if that came up when I was struggling with something? You’d hear me swearing that idea off even though that’s not the case at all.

Professionally, though, everything is great. Exciting things are happening, and that’s why I’m writing this. I have a unique problem that I want to solve, and statistically, when it comes to startup founders and people in tech, I’m not alone in having this problem.

That’s where the headline for this post comes from. When you encounter a startup, almost all of them will explain to you that their company solves X problem, regardless of whether or not that problem is really a problem. It’s an annoying habit like bragging about how much money you’ve raised as if that answers the question someone just asked you about whether or not your service is any good. It doesn’t. Stop talking about how much you raised! Nobody cares!

Er. Sorry … Let’s get back on track.

It’s also a cliche for startup founders, in particular, to talk about depression. And I understand how, when you hear it from a startup founder, it’s difficult to sympathize with them. “Oh, you only raised $3 million instead of $4 million last month?” “You live in a $4,000 apartment and are making it unaffordable for other people to live in that same city? Poor you.” Trust me. I know all those arguments. As I write this, I’m looking at the rent for studio apartments in Manhattan for my move there, and I’m sharing the same thought. “This is not OK.”

(I wonder if the WeWork people will let me sleep in my new one-person office?)

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an issue to be addressed. In a lot of cases where startups and tech companies are concerned, you’re talking about a lot of young people thrust into this world that often has a “cheat to win” mentality with millions, sometimes billions, of dollars at stake. It’s a pressure cooker. Suicide is a serious problem. So is depression. So is drug use. The fact that a lot of those people may or may not be likable is sort of beyond the point.

We owe it to each other to not be shitty people and dismiss other people’s problems, because sooner or later, those problems become our own.

That’s where I come in. My startup does a dumb, very silly thing. We produce funny business book summaries. That’s all it does. I’d love to do a summary for every business and marketing book that comes out, and all the important ones you may have missed, but it’s a self-contained (and self-funded) project. So I’ll take it as far as I can, and we’ll see how it goes. You’ll see some test products here on this website soon. But I don’t want to talk to you about that. Because it’s self-contained, there isn’t much to talk about. I either do a crap ton of reviews, and the thing scales up, or it doesn’t and I do the funny reviews for my purposes here on this website.

What I want to talk to you about instead is that I’ve suffered from depression my entire life. Outside of a business setting, I also have a complete and (sometimes hilarious) inability to interact with people in a social setting. If you want to talk about work? I’m your guy! I can sell anyone anything given enough time and research. If you want to talk about anything else? Forget it; I immediately throw up this wall, and it’s incredibly difficult to get me to talk about anything. Or I’ll mumble or speak fast because that’s what happens when I’m in a personal setting and people start poking around.

You know the problem with blogging is that there’s often no point behind it. So people get all excited and produce a ton of content, but then it tapers off, and then they abandon it. Which causes dumb marketing people to go, “Blogging is dead! Nobody does that!” And then people who don’t know any better across every industry goes, “Why does my company have a blog? Why am I paying these people? This is stupid.” Here, in the best way I can describe it, I’m going to work through my shit using products and tools like Headspace, Talkspace, Joyable, WeWork and the gym. I also may or may not incorporate something like Blue Apron, because I don’t know how to cook anything and what you put into your body plays a significant role in determining your mood. The point is, if there’s a platform or service that exists out there to help people with depression, I’m going to use it and write about that, and other things on the subject here.

Maybe there’s a book in here about resilience. Maybe one about dealing with depression. I don’t know. I just got done ghostwriting a book for someone, so I’m not exactly looking to do another one at the moment. Although as far as anyone knows I’ve only done the one book back in 2012 because you can’t say much about the ghostwriting thing, so that kind of blows.

Anyway, my hope in doing this is to get people talking about depression, particularly within the tech and startup community, support great causes like iFred, and who knows, maybe it’ll put me on the path of being a functional adult.

Guess you’ll have to stick around and find out. At the very least, there will be a bunch of cheap laughs to have at my expense.

(Photo Credit: B.J. Mendelson. All Rights Reserved.)

Funny Summaries of Business Books

Funny Summaries of Business Books

Hey!

It’s been awhile, huh? This post says it was created in July, but I’m actually updating it right now for November.

I just spent two years ghostwriting a book for someone in the tech world. Then I did some freelance writing as a transition back to writing my own stuff because I had to get out of their voice and back into mine.

While ghostwriting, I was talking about doing a startup that is basically “The Khan Academy for Marketing.”

That project is now in motion. I’ll say more about it once the website is ready.

But that new project created a dilemma for me: What do I do with this website if I put all my marketing stuff over there, and keep my comic book over on its own website?

Then, inspiration struck.

Funny Summaries of Business Books

Back in March, I was talking with someone about how nobody has time to read the hundreds of business books that come out each year. Also, most of those books suck, so why would you want to read them in the first place?

Me? I read everything. Right now I’m reading Anna Karenina to impress a girl who has zero interest in me. That’s the kind of thing I do. You name it; I’ve read it. Possibly for ridiculous reasons. So what I’m saying is, I’m reading all these dumb business and marketing books anyway. Why should you waste your time reading them when I can do it for you?

You might be asking, “Do they have to be funny summaries?” Yes. They do. It’s the only way I can do this consistently without wanting to blow my brains out. How do you know they’ll be funny? Because you’ve all told me I’m hilarious. Hey, if I can do a presentation that’s being translated into three different languages, and everyone laughs at the jokes I’m making? I know I’m funny. I can say that with confidence.

So here on this website, I’m going to do funny summaries of business books. If you want Vengeance, Nevada, you know where to find it. (It’s here!)

If you want to hear or see me be (somewhat) serious about marketing, you’ll have the new project website once it goes up in a month or so.

Expect the first funny summary soon. It’ll be Pre-Suasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. You can purchase a copy to read along with me here.

(P.S. Yes, that’s an Amazon Affiliate link. Yes, there are ads on this website. If you purchase a copy of the book, or any book linked out on this website, I make a small bit of money on the transaction. Ditto with the ads below each post. Making comics ain’t cheap. Your book purchases and clicking on the advertising I have here makes Vengeance, Nevada and my other comic books possible.)

(Photo Credit: B.J. Mendelson / University at Buffalo campus)