Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Tag Archives: Gary Vaynerchuk

Runner’s Routine: The podcasts I listen to while running


My Bose Soundsport bluetooth headphones are pissing me off. The button somehow got stuck, and I can’t get it back to normal. Wearing these has become a part of the running ritual; they’re the first headphones that will stay in my ear no matter how greasy I get.


It depends on the day as to what I listen to, too. I have a running playlist that I’ll detail sometime, a mix of songs from today and way back in the 1980s, back when dinosaurs roamed the planet.

Sometimes, especially on calm Sunday mornings, I’ll listen to NPR’s Morning Edition, or in this case, Weekend Edition. If I’m running by 9 a.m. or so, I’ll tune it to KQED in San Francisco and listen to the West Coast feed. This is a fantastic way to get caught up on news and to consume a high caliber of news, to boot.

Because I’m a YouTube Premium member, I can listen to videos while using my running app in the foreground.

Or I listen to podcasts. And that’s what I thought I’d write about today – the 11 podcasts that are currently in my rotation. For what it’s worth, I am subscribed to the West Wing Weekly podcast, but Kristi and I are only in the middle of Season Three, and I had never watched the series serially like this. For example, I’ve seen Season 3, Episode 9 a billion times. It’s the ‘Bartlet For America’ episode where Leo McGarry eloquently describes the appeal of Scotch while at the same time eloquently describing the hell of addiction. To me, this is the best scene in the history of the show.

Anyway, I digress. I don’t listen to West Wing Weekly yet because it’s something I’d like to share with Kristi once we both finish the series, serially.

But here’s what I do listen to:


The Gary Vee Audio Experience. Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty hit-or-miss for me these days as I think his schtick has become routine. His insight into usable tactics for social media is still insightful, and he remains one of the best motivators for workaholics on the planet, encouraging us to keep hustling. When he hits, he slugs it out of the park. After six years of listening to the man, however, I know when to tune in and when to tune out. If you’re in marketing or are interested in digital anything, he’s a must-listen.


Marketing School. Neil Patel and Eric Siu are two of the preeminent experts on digital marketing with an emphasis on SEO. Their podcasts are always super short, as in less than ten minutes each, but there’s always value. To me, SEO is the most important discipline in content for brands, news organizations and even bloggers. Patel’s SEO Analyzer tool is a must-use for anybody wanting to compare their website to the competition. This podcast is a no-brainer for marketing geeks.


Hit Parade. This is a podcast from Slate about pop music, the pop music charts and trivia associated with it. The last episode I listened to was about the BeeGees, and it was like listening to a documentary history of the vocal group. The production was brilliant, and the nuggets of information were meaty enough for the music nerd while being palatable to the neophyte.


Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. I’ve been a fan of Brian’s since his TV Newser days, and I followed him and David Carr after the New York Times movie came out. I had also read Carr’s “Night Of The Gun.” As both a fan of Brian’s and a newsie, I find Reliable Sources to be a must-listen to keep up with media trends and to get a pretty fair analysis of how we’re doing as an industry. For example, this week he had on Frank Sesno, who was pretty critical of the coverage from mainstream media types during the Brett Kavanaugh proceedings.


The Tim Ferriss Show. I believe Ferriss came to fame via the ‘4-hour’ books: “4-Hour Work Week,” “4-Hour Body,” etc. Ferriss is a prolific accomplisher of things (what does that mean? it just feels like it’s the right way to describe him), and he has fascinating life hacks that are super practical. For example, Ferriss turned me on to a mushroom coffee that has become a go-to for me on days where I didn’t get the best sleep the night before. His interview with Terry Crews, in my opinion, is the best podcast interview I’ve ever listened to both because of him and Crews.


The Life Coach School. Brooke Castillo is the host. I know she’s a Texan, and I suspect she probably knows Brene Brown. In fact, I might have stumbled onto Brooke because of Brene, especially after I read “Daring Greatly,” which I think is a must-read for anybody in management. The gist of that book is how to use vulnerability as an asset both as a giver and a taker, a speaker and a listener. Brooke’s podcast is hit-or-miss for me, but when she’s speaking about a topic that’s pertinent to my life, I find her to be on point. When I decide to listen to her, I’m never disappointed, and the content is what you’d expect from a life coach — so it’s not for everybody although it wouldn’t kill you to listen to it.


WTF with Marc Maron. His was the first podcast I ever downloaded. Maron is a stand-up comic who interviews people a couple times a week for his podcast, which happens to be one of the biggest on the planet. I love his monologues more than his interviews primarily because I like him more than a lot of his guests. For interviews, you can’t beat Howard Stern. Best on the planet. But Maron ain’t shabby. Even still, Maron’s podcasts are worth it even only to listen to the monologues at the beginning of each episode.


YouTube Creators Hub. A guy named Dusty Porter teaches creators how to use YouTube to grow businesses or at least grow audiences. He interviews successful creators and even has a Patreon where you can get access to a group of people who supposedly can help you grow your channel. It hasn’t helped me at all, not one iota. Once you listen to about 10-15 of his episodes, you glean about as much as will be useful to you. The themes are all the same: develop niche content, post consistently, “it’s a lot of work,” and more. But, IMHO, this is still the best YouTube creators podcast out there. After listening to 50-60 episodes, for me, at this point, it’s hit or miss. I’d love more of a deep dive into tactics that successful channels leverage.


Mitchell Talks. My friend and colleague Scott Mitchell visits with journalists (my friends and colleagues Aaron Brilbeck and Grant Hermes) and newsmakers about issues of the day here in Oklahoma. It’s a smart look at politics in the Sooner State with no political bent. Scott is an equal-opportunity political analyst and is particularly effective at pointing out the most ridiculous parts of the political machine. I should point out that I might contribute some music to Scott’s podcasts. Woot!


West Of Everest. This one is from another colleague, Lee Benson. He and his brother, Grant, talk Oklahoma Sooners football – and they take a real deep dive into each game. This is an hour’s worth of content that will greatly appeal to the diehard Sooners fan. I haven’t listened to this one yet during the offseason. I think that will be the trick to appealing, long-term, year-round to folks.


And last but not least, Why Today Doesn’t Suck. This is the daily segment on The Ticket 1310 in Dallas where Bob & Dan Radio hand it off to The Hardline. This is what they call in the radio business, “crosstalk.” And as they do this, they talk birthdays and death days and born on this day, now dead. Listeners (P1s, especially) write in with their birthday wishes and ask for various drops to be played, and it’s heavy on the language and rituals of those who have listened to The Ticket for years. During my tenure in Dallas, I was a P1 practically from Day 1, and I’m thankful beyond thankful that this is available to me via the magical power of my phone.

I know there are hundreds of other podcasts I’ll never have time to listen to that are worth an audit. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Speak to me, people, and let me know what you listen to while you run!

Cover photo credit: Nicola

Ryan Welton is a digital communicator, marketer and journalist who loves to run and write songs. He thinks that’ll be the focus of this blog from here forward. He can be found at YouTube.com/ryanweltonmusic and on Twitter @ryanwelton.

How to improve your Glassdoor rating in 4 steps + why Gary Vee is wrong about the platform


Believe me when I tell you that you can improve your Glassdoor rating by nearly a full point in one year. Less even.

I’ve done it. (2.6 to 3.3)

And I’ve done it the right way.

No tricks. No smoke, no mirrors.

Also believe me when I tell you that it’s damned important. I was listening to a Gary Vaynerchuk podcast this week in which he bemoaned his agency’s own Glassdoor rating, and he also downplayed its worth, which surprised me a little.


Because he proclaims himself the head of HR for VaynerMedia.

And because I respect him immensely.

Glassdoor reviews are to picking employers as Yelp is to picking restaurants. They mean the world, and I hope you’ll understand by the end of this post that I don’t merely mean the reviews themselves but how the employer manages its presence on the platform.

In a world where companies compete for the best employees, where it’s truly a dog-eat-dog competition for talent, Glassdoor is often the eliminator or the tiebreaker.

Prospects look at your Glassdoor reviews. Every time.

They might latch onto something that causes them to rule your organization out — or they use the platform to pick one over the other.

It happens.

When I was asked to help my employer (a previous one) to improve its 2.6 Glassdoor rating, I immediately read every company review. Then I formulated a plan based on the best practices of the platform (simple research + we had a strong advertising agency assisting) and with a spirit of empathy, off I went.

Here’s what you do:

1. You’ve got to reply to every review, no matter how awful. And you’ve got to be timely about it.

It’s not about resolving the issue with the single disgruntled employee. It’s about showing the world that you’re listening and you care.

For example, it didn’t bother me so much that VaynerMedia got some poor reviews. What stood out is that there was zero response. Shocking, actually.

I’ve listened to Gary Vee for years. He’s all about empathy, and I truly believe that he’s genuine in that regard. But on Glassdoor, his organization doesn’t show it – and it’s a big deal.

On one hand, prospects want to see how you deal with bad reviews. On the other, prospective Glassdoor reviewers will see that you’re listening — and it makes them more likely to give you a positive review and less likely to leave a scathing one.

If you’ve gone years without responding to anybody, start at the beginning and apologize for not responding. Commit publicly to doing better. You’ll be surprised how much latitude people will show you.

And then make Glassdoor an every day commitment.

2. If your reviews indicate a pattern, recognize that your employees, whether disgruntled or not, might be right.

At my previous company, the prevalent issue was a lack of female managers. At a certain point, I advised my boss (and she agreed) that the problem was real. Thankfully, I worked somewhere that I could be forthcoming and honest.

Not that change happened immediately, but there was problem recognition.

It’s a win. It’s a start.

3. Have a customer service mechanism whether it be a phone number or an email where the person who reviewed (or anybody who sees your response) can call or message you to detail their concerns or complaints further.

Oftentimes, the Glassdoor reviewer will have a very specific complaint, perhaps about alleged discrimination or harassment — and you’ve got to take that seriously and do it publicly, working privately to resolve the issue.

Sometimes, a disgruntled employee is willing to remove a negative post if the company does outreach. It can’t be a quid pro quo scenario.

It has to happen naturally.

But it does sometimes if you work in good faith.

4. Encourage your employees to post their reviews.

You absolutely cannot compel them to do so nor can you compel them to give you a positive review. That can get you kicked off the platform.

However, as part of a feedback strategy, you can let employees know that you value Glassdoor, encouraging them to leave your organization a review.

Most employees who take you up on that offer will leave you positive reviews. In my experience, that ratio is about 70-30.

Over time, with diligence, this four-step Glassdoor rating-improvement process is guaranteed to up your score — and it will lead to recruiting wins.

I’ve executed this process. I’ve seen it happen.

Where I find my digital inspiration


I had a coffee with a friend of mine a couple months back, and we discussed our careers and digital and marketing and social media, and we discussed the things and people who inspire.

We’re close to the same age. We both work in TV news. And I think we both are pretty danged sharp with ambitions to maintain our edge.

I thought about sending him a note with all of this, but then I thought, “Are you crazy? This is perfect fodder for a blog.” (I’ll send him the link though!)

And then we (both) had lots of big news to cover, such as severe weather, wildfires and this week’s Oklahoma teacher walkout. I’m also involved with the Redbud Classic as part of its board of directors, and I recently accepted a spot on the JayMac board of directors for the University of Oklahoma, my alma mater. Actually, I accepted that months ago and have yet to be able to attend a meeting with the flu getting me last go-round.

All of this has me super excited and sounds like a humblebrag, except that I have to admit: I work hard and go go go, and I’ll eventually get really tired tired tired and need to recharge. And when I need to recharge, I really need to recharge. I need sleep. I need healthy food. I need lots of water (or a couple beers). I need to run. I need to meditate. I need to create.

And I need inspiration.

I wrote about my passion for running recently, so now I’ll tell you about my inspirations. These are the people who pick me up on a regular basis.

My original digital sensei was Gary Vaynerchuk. I met him at Google’s New York City offices back in 2016 as part of this group I belonged to called The Conference Board. Although Gary is famous for selfies with fans, I didn’t ask for one because I’m a bit shy and embarrassed to ask, and I was genuinely satisfied getting to meet him and ask him questions. There were about 15 of us in the room, and we peppered him with questions.


Jeremy Smerd, Executive Editor of Crain’s New York Business hosts Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO at VaynerMedia for Too Good To Fail at Internet Week HQ on Day 2 of Internet Week 2015 in New York May 19, 2015. Insider Images/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES)

One digital communications professional worked for a firm that sells military equipment, and she asked how social media could be used to market a B-2 bomber, for example — and he proceeded to tell her. And he was absolutely right. What’s crazy is that he’d be the first to admit, as founder and owner of Vayner Media, that not even half of his big-name clients go all in on digital content as he’d wish they did. I say that to say: not even Gary Vee’s proclamations were likely enough to cause that pro’s boss to consider Instagram as a platform for telling stories about B-2 bombers.

But Gary goes all in, and his content is fantastic. His books are useful. And I’ve consumed them all to the point that nothing he’s saying in 2018 is new to me. I’m pretty sure I could write Gary Vee fan fiction at this point. Mostly, I listen to the “GaryVee Audio Experience” podcast or watch his YouTube videos. But if you don’t know this guy and you need the basics for how to do digital or entrepreneurship in 2018, spend time consuming all his content.

And then do.

This just happens to be his most recent video. I went to his channel to find one that epitomizes his personality, and I didn’t need to look far. This is quintessential Gary.

What makes Vaynerchuk especially inspiring to me is that his philosophies on life and the way he treats people are aligned with the values to which I aspire. It’s basically: work hard, be self-aware and be kind. And that’s it.

However, he’s not the digital personality I’m most into right this second.

That would be Casey Neistat.

Casey is much less tactical in terms of what he tells you and much more tactical in what he shows you. If you’re not familiar with Casey, he’s a videographer who had an HBO show and then became a YouTube star with 9.2M subscribers, many of which were earned when he started daily vlogging a few years ago.

It helps that he’s a fantastic videographer and storyteller.

He’s a stellar digital marketer because he understands the need for delivering content often. To the extreme. Quantity IS important.

Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat

The inspiration is in seeing him create this content day after day after day, knowing full well that he accomplishes other things in life and business, enjoying it and understanding that there is as much magic in consistent content creation as there is in the high-level art that is his videography.

What you want to learn then is: what are the efficiencies in shooting, writing, production and — heck — life that can allow you to achieve at such a high level? I get that from other folks as you’ll read here momentarily, but I digress.

Casey Neistat has a tremendous energy, and he has started a new daily vlog called 368, named for a collaborative space he’s opening for YouTubers and others in New York City. It’s short for 368 Broadway, which is in lower Manhattan. I don’t know exactly what it will entail exactly, but Neistat’s is a brand I trust to offer entertainment and video inspiration.

I’ve seen two episodes so far, and it feels a little more like a digital-TV hybrid, as in: what if Casey’s daily vlogs were made for episodic television. Here’s the first episode:

Another inspiration as a fellow named Tim Ferriss, best known as a podcaster and author, who gained fame writing the book ‘4-Hour Workweek,’ ‘4-Hour Body‘ and most recently ‘Tribe of Mentors.’ I own the latter and have read some of the two former. ‘Tribe of Mentors’ is a fantastic encyclopedia of life advice from hundreds of successful people in a wide variety of occupations.

And that’s what Ferriss’s podcast is about: breaking down big concepts into bite-sized chunks for self improvement, tactics that people can do each and every day. And in my case, I pick and choose what I can and want to apply in my own life. For example, he turned me on to mushroom coffee. Sure, it was an advertisement, but Ferriss talked a lot about Four Sigmatic’s mushroom coffee “lighting you up like a Christmas tree.”

Let’s be real. I love me some coffee, but the primary appeal is that it wakes your ass up.

I tried the coffee, and it was fantastic. It even tasted good, and I didn’t expect mushroom coffee to taste anything beyond gross.

Tim Ferriss

My favorite episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast ever was his interview with Terry Crews, former NFL player, actor and author of the book, ‘Manhood: How to Be a Better Man — or Just Live with One.’ I won’t delve into it much, but Crews became one of my favorite people after listening to him talk for 45 minutes. Fantastic human being.

So, as you’ve been able to glean, I mostly listen to podcasts and watch YouTube. I don’t do a lot of television, and while I read books more than I do watch TV, I don’t do either all that much. On the other hand, I do listen to audio books on Audible. My two most recent selections have been “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance and “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.

My belief is: consume content how you’d like, and don’t let anybody tell you that watching videos or listening to audio books is inferior. The grand arbitrage in 2018 is time and latching onto anything that can help us save it while at the same time doing more.

Speaking of podcasts, my first one was “WTF,” the vehicle that re-launched Marc Maron‘s career. To be perfectly honest, I rarely listen to his interviews. I mostly like his monologues before the main event.

I also listen to several other podcasts on the regular, including “Marketing School” with Neil Patel and Eric Siu, “ProBloggeer Podcast” with Darren Rowse, “The Life Coach School” with Brooke Castillo, the “YouTube Creators Hub Podcast” with Dusty Porter and “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter. Each one of these podcasts fits a pocket of my life and my interests. They get heard in the car during my commute to work each morning.

Likewise, there are a lot of other YouTube channels I follow pretty religiously, including one from an up-and-comer named Amy Landino. Her primary expertise is vlogging, as evidenced by the book that made her famous, ‘Vlog Like A Boss: How To Kill It Online with Video Blogging.’ However, her channel is mostly focused on tactics that help you become more productive. Work productive. Life productive.

Amy is a more tactical version of another digital marketer I like named Marie Forleo. Both refer to their channels as “X-TV,” as in “Amy TV” and “Marie TV.” Forleo used to be much more tactical in her content relative to business and marketing, but I’m sensing that she’s shifting to more of an Oprah-like personality that’s directed much more toward women.

So, I’m way more Team Amy at this moment.

There are several YouTube-centric vlogs I follow, including channels from “Video Creators,” “Video Influencers,” “TubeBuddy,” and a pair of channels from Nick Nimmin and Brian G. Johnson. All of it is super educational for anybody interested in creating video content meant to grow an audience.

I’m also a pretty regular viewer of Peter McKinnon’s fine work on YouTube. The best way I can think of to describe him is as the Canadian version of Casey Neistat. What both he and McKinnon have in common is that they’re tremendous videographers.

Anyway, I don’t spend all my time consuming this content. I listen to it during commutes or watch it while I’m unwinding from the day. Most of the books I buy from folks who inspire me are ones that I use as resource guides or for when I need a kick in the butt. For example, I think I need to spend a few minutes this weekend with Vaynerchuk’s ‘Crushing It’ just so I can get back on track after a long week in the newsroom.

Ten minutes of inspiration from folks who know what they’re doing in the digital space is all you need.

I’d love to know who or what inspires you!

I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter (@ryanwelton) or subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please – and thank you!




Health & Fitness: Can you lose weight with a walking-only exercise regimen?


I’m a runner insomuch that I enjoy running. To me, it is not a chore; it is respite from a day’s stress. I have gone weeks where I run 4-5 times, and I’ve gone weeks where I don’t run at all.

As much as I enjoy running, there are aspects of it that are hard to make habit:

  • Sometimes I get sore after a 3-4 mile run.
  • My allergies act up when I run outside.
  • It eats up time.

Unless my knees give out or I lose a foot to a freak accident, I’m going to keep running.

But I’m also going to walk.

I’m going to walk at least for the next 2-3 months to try to solidify a habit of going to the gym every single day and doing something to put my body in motion. My plan is to do this without injury and without ever making my body feel like it’s been overworked.

My plan is to do this and lose that extra 10-15 pounds that have been nagging at me.

But science.

Yes, I understand that it requires a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound. However, the way I see it, when I run 3-4 miles, I eat as if I just ran a half. In an hour, I walk about 3.25 miles on the treadmill with zero soreness.

It gets me to 10,000 steps each day.

I’m not famished afterward.

And I even get some work done while on the treadmill, although tonight that consisted only of doing a single Instagram post. Mostly, I walked (at 3.5 on the treadmill most of the time at various inclines) and watched Gary Vaynerchuk and Seinfeld re-runs — the one where Kramer butters himself, Bania prompts Jerry to tank a set and Elaine nicknames an airplane passenger, Vegetable Lasagna, while breaking up and making out with David Puddy.

But can you lose weight with only a walking regimen?

I think you can if you do it consistently without eating beyond your workout efforts. My plan is to not adjust my diet otherwise. Truth is: I eat a lot of fish, lean chicken and veggies. My culinary vices are the occasional donut (especially the maple bars at 7-Eleven), Fritos, A&W (and only A&W rootbeer) and Guinness Draught or Newcastle Brown Ale.

As of Oct. 23, I’m at 212.8 pounds. I might mix in some basketball, racquetball or some runs at my discretion — but mostly I’m just going to walk.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Stay smooth.

3 beers, 3 books: What I’m drinking and reading these days


There’s nothing better than a cold beer and a good book, so I thought I’d write a blog post about both. I’ll call it three beers and three books.

I mostly stay in my lane as far as beers go. I like Sam Adams, Bass, Newcastle, Moose Drool and Guinness Draught. Those are my go-tos. During the summer, I would add Pacifico, Yuengling, Stella Artois, Shiner Ruby Redbird and Leinenkugel’s Weiss beers to the mix. That routine can get old, however.

So, periodically, I go to the aisle where you can buy single beers, and then I start picking freely. I force myself to get out of my comfort zone a little, and that can result in some serendipitous finds. Here are three I’ve tried recently:

1. Willy Vanilly from the Alpine Beer Company. I love vanilla, so I figured I’d probably love this — and I do like it. It was a bit sweet for my beer taste, but it’s as close to a truly excellent vanilla beer as I’ve tasted. I remember it being mildly carbonated with a nice collar.


Score: 7 out of 10

Would I buy it again? I liked it but didn’t immediately fall in love with it. I wouldn’t turn it down if offered to me but probably wouldn’t pursue it otherwise.

2. Redhook Blackhook Porter. I prefer dark beers with hints of coffee, chocolate, maple and, heck, if they made it, bacon. I like beers that keep you warm and that pair well with a Miles Davis record. That’s about as metaphorical as I get writing about beer. However, in the spirit of something more like a Guinness, an Irish dry stout, or a Moose Drool, which is a brown ale, the Redhook Blackhook maintains its own very well. The one noticable difference — and I consider it an upgrade — is the hint of coffee when sipping. Really nice.


Score: 10 out of 10. Terrific.

Would I buy it again? Definitely. This beer has a chance to make the rotation, especially when summer turns to fall, which in Oklahoma is December. Kidding aside, I really liked the Redhook Blackhook Porter, and it symbolizes the reason why I force myself to try new beers: It’s the best way to stumble upon something terrific.

3. Rahr & Sons USS Fort Worth – American Session Ale. This beer was way out of my comfort zone. First of all, it was in a can, which means it’s automatically something I’d pass on normally. However, the design on the can was so over-the-top that I was intrigued by what this beer could be, and for me, it was a tale of two halves.

At first, the beer was off-putting like a much-to-hoppy IPA. Other beer critics refer to its citrus flavor, and I got that as well midway through. By the end of the pour, I had rather grown to like it. It was better in the second half than the first.


Score: 7.5 out of 10

Would I buy it again? I might. This is more of a ‘hot day’ on the front porch after mowing the lawn sort of beer. However, the can’s design is kind of awesome, and I’m intrigued by drinking something named for a battleship with the motto “Grit and Tenacity” atop the can. And I like Texas, especially Cowtown.

That takes care of the beers. So, what about the books? I’ve been reading roughly a book every month or so, although I’m not sure it’s even that much. I’d love to read a book a week and most often don’t believe anybody who says they read that much, presupposing they do anything besides read. Alas, I’ll tell you about one book I’ve recently read, one book I’m currently reading and one that I intend to buy very soon.

First, I finished Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” several weeks ago. I like Brene. She’s from Texas, and she self identifies as maybe a little bit loud and brash and strong-headed. She hooked me at “Texan.” However, only parts of this book appealed to me at the outset given that I’m not a parent. I’m also not touchy-feely at all. Ick. But I wanted to learn more about vulnerability and how it can benefit a person, especially professionally.


What I was pleasantly surprised to learn was that this book wasn’t about being touchy-feely and learning to overshare. It was very much about being out there and being thoughtful, however.

I don’t memorize books, so once I’ve read something, I allow some of the big concepts to stick with me and then I lose the rest on purpose. I only have so much room in my brain. Here’s what I took from “Daring Greatly:”

1. Brene quotes Teddy Roosevelt at the beginning of the book, his remarks about the arena. “It is not the critic who counts…” However, this quote reminds me of Kool & The Gang’s masterpiece “Get Down On It.” Feel free to laugh although I think you’ll acknowledge my point. In that song, J.T. Taylor sings, “How you gonna do it if you really don’t want to dance by standing on the wall?”

This is essentially the Teddy Roosevelt quote personified in an early-1980s pop-disco hit. The credit goes to the person who gets out there and dances it even if it turns out to look like Elaine from Seinfeld.

And what I take from all of this, relative to the book, is that introversion is no excuse for emotional isolation and that, if one will allow themselves the opportunity to push the envelope personally, it will pay dividends. People are way more willing to open up to you if you will open up to them, in due time, of course.

2. We’re super hard on ourselves, but we’re uber judgmental of other people, more so than ever before. This might seem like a no-brainer to most of you until I suggest that “this means YOU.” Yes, you. The other person is a bad parent because… The other person is imperfect physically because… The other person is poor because… And it all stems from an insecurity. Brown makes it a point of noting that we pick folks who we believe are doing worse than us in certain areas, packaged in kind of a campaign against snark in general.

3. Vulnerability and the workplace. The three professional concepts I really internalized from this book are the negative effect of non-communication, the negative impact of blaming in situations where a result was less than optimal and the positive benefit of showing weakness, which to me means acknowledging sometimes that you don’t know, don’t understand, or aren’t sure.

The book I’m reading presently is Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.” I’ve been a fan of Gary’s for a long time because I think he’s genuine and that he’s right. He’s been right before about many things in the digital content world, and because of that track record, I trust what he says pretty assuredly.


This book is four years old, but the concept is super simple for businesses: Create content that informs and entertains without selling. That’s tough for us business folk to do, but the idea is to create value for the end reader each and every time so that when you do need to sell, you’ll have their attention.

That’s the thing about the digital world: we’re all competing for attention. News stations and companies with social channels and personal bloggers are all competing with Netflix and my blog and a good book and the desire to go to the pub or to take a bath. As consumers, we latch on to content that moves us, and we’re pretty agnostic as to where it comes from. All we’re doing as brands is hoping for a piece of that, a sliver of your attention with the unsaid quid pro quo that we earn your attention when we really need it.

This book is the guide on how to make that happen.

And last but not least, the book I want to read next is called, “Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives” by Tim Harford. One of my favorite Sirius XM channels is called Business Radio on SiriusXM 111. They recently had a program called, “Your Summer Reading List,” and Harford talked about the power of chaos to fuel productivity and creativity.


It’s not so much that spending all your time perfecting your environment takes away from the time to do amazing things. It’s that overemphasizing order in all parts of our lives belies a rigidity that ensures we’ll never achieve anything great, and even if that isn’t the goal, it will certainly rob us of wonderful experiences and moments.

And in an ironic twist, that’s the end of this blog post because I need to go clean house. Have a great rest of your weekend.

“Take Five,” a lesson in digital patience


It’s been a long, long time since I could call myself an aspiring blogger. Heck, in the early 2000s, I was on the tip of that movement, writing about reality television and pop culture, fancying myself to be some kind of flyover-state version of Perez Hilton without the snark, interest in fashion or bad taste in music.

Alas, I lost my interest in reality television and, for the most part, I lost most of my interest in all conventional television. I lost interest in my YouTube channel as well, which I had started back in 2006-07 as a way to promote my songwriting interests. I lost interest in that platform because I thought it was probably dead or dying with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about that.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about the demise of blogging.

But I couldn’t have been more right about the need to align those efforts with my interests, and that’s what brings us to today. Well, it takes us to 2013. I started up a little site called thenormanfiles and proceeded to post to it twice. Maybe three times. What was bubbling inside of me relative to interest and passion was met with a complete lack of hustle on the execution side of things.

Enter Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re in digital, you know who this guy is, and he likely energizes you as he does me. I’d rather watch three hours of whatever he’s doing than I would anything on television these days, and (frankly) I don’t really want to spend three hours doing anything passive.

Gary brings out the hustle in people. Gets them energized.

Enter Dave Brubeck. If you know your music, especially your jazz, you know who he is, and you know who Paul Desmond is, and you know what “Take Five” is — the quintessential jazz song of the 20th Century. It’s also the best-selling jazz song of all time.

Learning to play this song, in all its 5/4 time signature glory, is a lesson in patience. You’ve got to practice it over and over and over and over until you get to where you can just play the notes without messing up. All the hustle in the world won’t help you master the precision required to master this tune.

And I certainly haven’t mastered it. I’ve got the basics down, however.

Ultimately, that’s why I’ve decided to return to the world of blogging. It’s a platform that supports both my need for hustle and my need for patience, a quest to bring together years of musical efforts and digital expertise into one existence propelling me into the next 10 years or so of my own.

Hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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