Balancing ambition and frustration

Are you satisfied?

Do you ever ask yourself that? Seriously?

I find that more often than not, we are never satisfied. It isn’t about money. It isn’t about power. It isn’t about greed.

Ambition can drive you crazy.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sure, there is a new challenge there. But, a year from now – you’ll be back here.

You’ll be wondering how to turn your ambition into the next great career move. The next relationship. The next personal achievement.

We’re taking it one game at a time.

An overused sports cliché. I always forget how to make that é. I have to search for it and copy and paste every time. I should learn more code. Why don’t I have that memorized? I probably use it five times per year and have to go to Google each time. I’m lame. There I go again.

But, are we taking it one game at a time? Are you assessing the wins and losses on a daily basis to see that no matter how much we think it sucks, that we’re making progress. If we’re smart, we can take the things that got the best of us and improve on them in the second half. A lame sports analogy, but it works for me.

Thanksgiving is over. Now we go back to work. We go back to the grind. We go back to forgetting to tell the people we care about what we’re thankful for. We’ll save those up for Thanksgiving next year.

Someone else is dying to be where you are now.

Do you ever think about that? With all of our insecurities and imperfections, there are others who would lose a limb to trade places with us. But, life is miserable when you only get 95% of that bonus. Things are tough when you can’t leave the office at 5pm every day.

I’m guilty of this.

I’m driven… to a fault. I bang my head against the wall a ton. But, I think I have a coping mechanism after years of doing this.

Ambition is a drug that makes its addicts potential madmen.
Emile M. Cioran

Channel that energy towards positive things.

Crush your job. That is a constant. But, use the ambitious energy to do other things in your time away from work. Build something. Work on a startup. Help people. Write letters. Love more. Talk more. Spend more time with your family. Teach your child something new.

Take the freakin’ time to pay attention to what is around you.

I’m guilty. I’m thankful for the folks who punch me in the face to make me realize that though. We only live once. Suck it up and file the negative things away. Use your brain [and heart] to do something great instead of moping.

Ambition can be a bitch. Don’t let it get you down.

A rant on marketing, writing and technical skills

Most marketers are not prepared for today’s job requirements.

Marketing is not glamorous.

Creative brainstorming A balancing act between Sales, IT, Product and Creative
A think tank not concerned with the Sales team The front line of Sales responsible for driving leads
Using social media several hours a day Matching social activity to business goals in the free 15 minutes you have
Writing catchy slogans and sayings Working with multiple teams to eliminate fluff and be transparent
Handing ideas off to teams to build them Inputting copy into a CMS, tweaking code and escalating issues

This is not Mad Men. This is not The Pitch. Even agencies aren’t as glamorous as you think (shhh!).
Most marketers are not ready for a job in marketing

Marketing is a grind. It requires exceptional people skills that never seem to be fully addressed in job reqs. It requires understanding who to talk to, what to say, how to frame your interactions, how to handle breaking bad news and matching the interpersonal skills with maniacal project management.

Much is made of the age of transparency. Now, you can’t polish a crappy product with nice messages or design. Users, customers and your employees will see right through that. Marketing takes a backseat to Product.

Yes. Marketing takes a backseat. Your success as a marketer is strongly correlated to the success of the product you represent. You do look into that before you take a job right?

Marketing requires you to sort through fluff, not create more.

It requires effective copy, regardless of role.

Marketing also requires technical skills.

If you can’t edit simple HTML, you may not get the job. It isn’t complicated to learn. Write a post in WordPress and click HTML (beside Visual in the top left of your post). Your job will require you to tweak things and break them until you fix them.

You’ll likely be involved with a CMS (content management system). Many times, this won’t be what you hope it will be – not all companies use WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. You’ll have to learn that too. You can learn HTML in CSS in 30 days for free.

Most importantly…

Marketing requires stellar understanding of how to create and execute campaigns.

What are the business goals?

What are the KPIs (key performance indicators)?

What are the gates / milestones you’re trying to hit?

What is your hypothesis (marketing is scientific, dummy)?

How will you execute?

What contingency plans need to be considered?

What does success look like?

What happens if you fail?

How do you report out progress to the broader team?

What does your dashboard look like?

What do you want to communicate at the end of the campaign?

Where is the failure point?

Is it education? Is it training? Is it not having enough challenging internships?

I’m not quite sure. But, I know that my advice to anyone trying to grow in a marketing career is to demonstrate significant experience in all marketing skills, writing, technical matters (even if just HTML) and be able to communicate that value.

Honestly, I think a lot of folks don’t know exactly what to look for.

It isn’t just me.

I’ve talked to multiple marketing leaders, CMOs, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Marketing tends to get a bad reputation. We have to work to change that. Demonstrate that you don’t fit in the prescribed marketing box and push to make things better.

The lines between marketing, product, UX, design and development are blurring.

It is time to adjust accordingly.

Image via almira_a (CC)

I was sued over a blog post for $5m and content marketers should know these things

Chris Moody sued over a blog postWhere to start?

For those of you who follow this blog or keep up with me, you may find 232 days without a post a bit odd. Some may have chalked it up to my adorable son (now 14 months old).

But, that wasn’t it.

If you’re asking Can you get sued for a blog post?, buckle up.

I was sued over a blog post.

Yep. The same guy who has co-founded an MBA course on social media was named in a lawsuit over it. To be fair, I was never served, but it was a painful experience.

I didn’t really talk about it. I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t really want to pay to fight it. I was a bit lost.

Luckily, I have some extremely smart friends and an attorney in the family who provided some guidance.

Why was I sued over a blog post?

Disclaimer: I’m choosing to be vague here. Local news websites and broadcasts covered an event that took place a few miles from my old residence. The story discussed how the application of a new technology was used to help keep the public safe. I thought that was cool.

Boom. I shared the news article on my blog with an intro reading “Interesting use of technology” or something to that effect.

Years pass.

We were trying to sell our house and had just been notified that the offer we accepted was not going to work out due to an insanely low appraisal. We were crushed. We had packed, planned, celebrated and done all the things you do when you’re taking the next step as a family. Now we had to start over again.

An hour after that happened, my phone rang. It was a local attorney representing a large governmental organization. He was calling to update me on the lawsuit I was named in.

I literally had a WTF moment.

You must have the wrong person. I haven’t done anything wrong.

Then he proceeds to tell me about how a person named in a news story was unhappy with how they were represented and named all the news stations, websites, forums, users, etc. where the article was mentioned in the suit.

I laugh.

This is ridiculous. Nobody would take this seriously. Sue everyone who shares an article? Are they suing everyone who watched the news? Or everyone who read the website? What about comments, tweets, shares that didn’t stick to a blog?

The attorney was great. He couldn’t give me counsel since he represented another party, but was very calm, respectful and also a bit surprised.

I’m not one to deal with many legal matters. I contested a bogus speeding ticket when I was in my teens (and won). I was deposed when a startup imploded, but had nothing to do with that case (I just told the truth in a conference room for 9 hours). Sued? Really? I mean, come on man. Really?

I hang up the phone and cry.

The house fell through. I’m named in a multi-million dollar suit (I could give a flatscreen TV away). I’m screwed. I had started a new job. I was raising a new family. I am a Dad now. What do I do about all of this? It may sound dramatic, but seeing your name on a document asking for millions of dollars is new to me.

Normally, I would probably be a little more defiant. I believe in standing up for what you believe in. I believe in fighting to make things better, even if you endure the pain to get there. I believe in the greater good. I grew up a team player. I would have probably challenged this head-on if I wasn’t already in the dumps. But, I felt defeated.

I buried my blog away. I grew jaded. I marketed the heck out of all things cloud with my job, but didn’t share much of anything online.

This happened in April 2011… see the trend?

The next few months were stressful. Every time the doorbell rang, I thought I was getting served (that is what happened with the deposition after all). I did what I normally do – get a little analytical and research the hell out of my situation. That is what makes me a decent marketer after all.

Months pass. Eventually, things return to normal.

What to learn from this

You need to increase the buffer you have before putting things online. My motto was always to keep it offline if you wouldn’t want your mom, spouse or boss to see it. But, that isn’t quite enough. Be wary of anything negative or that could potentially damage anyone’s reputation – even if it seems like a no brainer.

After all, it is becoming commonplace to be sued or threatened if you leave negative reviews behind. A Google search now yields over 19 million results for sued over a negative review. Phil Buckley was just recently threatened over a negative review. I received a letter from Cash for Gold once about not referring to it as a scam. It is happening a lot now.

If you like erring on the side of free speech, just be prepared to spend some money to defend a post if someone takes offense to it.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice – just findings. These were relevant in my situation.

On the Internet, first source carries the burden.

Well leave it to the Fourth District, Court of Appeal to decide the issue. It determined that Internet websites are subject to the single publication rule. In plain English, (and grossly simplified) it means that you can only sue for damages based on the first publication of a defamatory statement. You can’t, for example, sue multiple times based on a single defamatory statement. This is important because the statute of limitations is triggered at the first publication of a defamatory statement. So the Fourth District effectively held that in regard to alleged defamatory statements made on Internet websites (like blogs or Twitter), the statute of limitations begins to run at the time the statement is first published.

In NC, the statute of limitations for libel, slander and defamation is one year.

You are protected from any statements from a third-party reposted on your blog under the Immunity for Online Publishers and Communication Decency act.

So, what now?

Obviously, I’m writing again. It took me a while, but here I am.

I’m also in talks with several lawyers about a potential resource for bloggers and/or insurance to protect others in similar situations and to have resources available without spending a ton of money. There are groups for the press, but I’m not aware of any for individual bloggers. Chime in if I missed something. It is tricky as I don’t think bloggers are entitled to the press benefits.

I don’t plan to deal with anything else like this in the future. It would be nice to take the Oatmeal approach to threats / lawsuits, but I don’t have the pull or the audience for that.

Be careful out there friends. It felt good to write this and I think I’m over it now. And this post about getting sued over a blog post performed pretty well too. 😀

Update from an anonymous journalist

I didn’t see anyone in the comments bring up this organization that you may want to be aware of:

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Also, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also has done work protecting bloggers as citizen journalists.

Need to take your Digital Marketing up a notch?

Check out this killer Digital Marketing Training Camp featuring Peter Shankman!

Learn more and register!

Check out the agenda below!

8:30 AM– 9:00 AM
Networking Coffee
Coffee and breakfast for attendees and speakers


9:30 AM– 10:30 AM
Keynote: Deliver Amazing Customer Service with Social Media

The Digital Marketing Training Camp will kickoff with a presentation from Peter Shankman. He will be leading off with the Social Media and Customer Service section. Peter is a New York Times Best Selling Author, in addition to a highly sought after speaker.

Every attendee of the Triangle AMA Digital Marketing Training Camp gets a copy of Peter Shankman’s latest book followed by a Q&A session with Peter Shankman.


10:45 AM– 11:45 AM
The Future Of Mobile – A republic wireless Case Study
Brian Dally
General Manager, republic wireless
republic wireless is an innovative new carrier spearheading a wireless freedom movement to return value and control of the smartphone experience to their members. republic wireless is a division of, whose network and solutions also power other innovative communication services such as Google, Pinger, Skype, Groupme, RingCentral, Phonebooth, and many others.


12:00 PM– 12:45 PM


1:00 PM– 1:50 PM
How To Leverage Video To Drive Conversions
David Rose
COO, Magnet Video
As COO of Magnet Video, David is responsible for overall corporate strategy, finance, sales & marketing, product development and operations. MagnetVideo delivers complete online video marketing solutions that help our clients increase the effectiveness of their content marketing and lead generation strategies. David has more than 15 years of leadership experience with Fortune 500, high-growth and start-up companies in the technology, Internet and media industries, where he repeatedly obtained results by driving new product and market innovations.


2:00 PM– 2:50 PM
Search Engine and Landing Page Optimization
Jenny Halasz
President at JLH Marketing, Inc.
Jenny has over a decade of experience in all aspects of online marketing. She develops technical and content strategies for clients, leads workshops and training, and speaks and blogs about all things search. Jenny’s worked with dozens of top companies including Motorola, Lowe’s Home Improvement, SAP, Four Seasons, Humana, Black & Decker, and CitiBank.


3:00 PM– 3:50 PM
Engaging Customers with Gamification Campaigns
Jon Barlow
Vice President, Senior Creative Technologist, Capstrat
The role of Creative Technologist is, as the name would suggest, a hybrid between a creative role and a technical role. This position provides solutions that properly blend design, technology and strategy. Jon has exemplified this role as a digital strategist and digital marketing professional working in website design, UX, paid search, SEM/SEO, email and social media outreach for a variety of customers in the healthcare industry.


4:00 PM– 4:50 PM
Steps to Converting Existing Visitors to Customers Using Data, Testing and Personalization
Gregory Ng
Chief Experience Officer – CXO at Brooks Bell
An award-winning creative director, designer and direct marketer, Gregory Ng has developed effective, integrated, results-driven marketing programs for Global Fortune 1000 clients with an expertise in the high tech and financial verticals for over 12 years. As CXO (chief experience officer), Greg is responsible for ensuring that marketing strategies are realized through exemplary creative work. Gregory’s direct experience runs deep and includes working for clients like Dell, Bank of America, American Express, Fidelity Investments, the Salvation Army, Microsoft, DSW Shoe Warehouse and Dunkin’ Donuts.


5:00 PM– 7:00 PM
Networking Social

Five Ways to Harness The Power of Community

At Social Fresh East, I was tasked with helping folks harness the power of community – even if they may not have clearly defined communities. My slides can be found below and the video can be found at Social Fresh Academy shortly!

Feel like you don’t have a community? Are people not talking about your product or service? There are still some easy ways to develop a community. Chris will walk through several examples and review the best practices of creating and harnessing the power of an online community.