Blog Updating – Watch for falling posts New Theme Just want to share a bit of news.  I’m in the process of updating the theme & design of the ol’ blog tonight, so if you see anything odd, broken, or inoperable it’s probably being worked on.  A teaser thumbnail of it running on the development system is included just for fun. smile_wink

However, if you want to let me know of specific things that aren’t working and such, please feel free to do so.  You can ping me on Twitter (I’m @rickmahn) or via email (rick {at}

This is pretty exciting for me as I’ve been planning on a new design for several months.  I’m very glad to have had Mykl Roventine heading up the redesign based on a free theme called WP Premium.  The look & feel is clean and simple and suits me quite well. A big thank-you to Mykl for the great work.

That’s it for now, I’ve got a couple of things to finish up before flipping the switch so I’m off to get those done!  Talk soon folks!


Delivering A Consistent Message

'Sutradhar' by gaurang One of the toughest things for bloggers starting out is staying on topic. The free-form aspect of blogging, of having a public soapbox of sorts is the desire to start talking about just about anything that comes to mind. Actually, I’ll contradict myself here for a minute and say that doing just that is good for bloggers, and should be done before you pick a blogging genre to dive into. Heck, you can find my first three blogging attempts here, here & here.

Once you find a topic or genre you are passionate about, it’s really important to remain true to that area of interest. There is a wide range of things to write about in your genre, so you shouldn’t need to try to combine two disparate topics. Trying to write about bicycling and fudge making for example just wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s also hard to find topic ideas that consistently cover new areas or explore more detail on a regular basis. That is the more difficult part of blogging. Finding the topics that don’t seem to be repeating previous ones or feeling that you’re writing to too low an interest level. It’s easy to second guess yourself and simply not write because of it. That seems to be a common affliction too many bloggers, even one’s that have been blogging for awhile. 😉

A tip to combat that problem is to simply sit down for an hour, even 30 minutes, and brainstorm on things you want to talk about related to you topic. Do it once a month and reduce it to a reasonable number to accomplish in 30 days for your schedule and genre. One of the tools that I’ve recently been introduced to is mind mapping. There are many online and software-based tools to accomplish this, but it can easily be done with pen & paper to great affect for the needs of most bloggers. Starting with a central topic or theme, you can quickly map out interconnected ideas and develop an outline of topics very quickly. Highly recommended.

Since there are many different perspectives on this, I’m interested in yours, what would you add to this?

Photo credit: gaurang

The Art of Listening

Listen To MeSometimes it’s good to just sit back and listen to the conversation around you. There are many voices out there, and many stories to be told by those voices. One of the best skills to have is the ability to listen.

It’s a hard skill to learn too. How often do we jump into a conversation, with the intent to add our experiences and perspectives? Its human nature to share, to participate, to interact. So it’s important to make sure that you take the time to listen to what people are saying.

The benefits of becoming a better listener are not simply limited to hearing what people have to say, it’s letting them to tell their stories in their own words. It’s the people and their stories that are important. Learning about them and what they need is how you can better offer services and products to them – if at all. After all, not everything we do, or service & products we offer are needed by everyone.

Taking the time to learn about people, their stories, their needs, concerns, and wishes help us build not only a better community, but a better understanding of what we can do to be a productive part of that community. All that can comes from listening.

Photo credit:

Google’s Missing Sync: Contacts

Google Calendar Sync Ok, I’m quite happy that Google released a Google Calendar Sync tool for Microsoft Outlook.  Really happy.

Sure, I’m a Microsoft guy and have been for quite awhile.  Because of that I’ve got significant investments in money & time in the mainline business products, namely Windows, Office, and Windows Mobile.

On the flip side, I’ve moved a number of tasks and work that I do to web based systems.  GMail is obviously one of those, and earlier this year moved my calendar to GCal.

Since late March it’s been great to sync GCal with Outlook – works darn well.  Now, since I use GMail (and Google Hosted Domains), I need to have all my contacts there & up to date as well.  Also, there are dozens of contacts in GMail that I would like to sync to my Windows Mobile phone via ActiveSync.  Currently, there is no easy way to do that.

Nearly the same time that Google released it’s GCal-Outlook sync tool, it announced a Google Contacts Sync API.  I’m sure there are good things coming for everyone on nearly every platform for syncing Google Contacts with the major mail clients – at least I hope there is!

So Google, can you drop a few hints, or some info on plans to release a Google Contact Sync tool?  We’d be very grateful.

Sample the Local Flavor

I’ve been doing a lot of local networking this past month & and have met so many talented people.  With the exception of SOBCon08 at the beginning of the month, most of the events I’ve been to and people I’ve met have been local.

What I’ve found in this very busy month, has been a consistent mix of people from all sorts of industries and business fields all looking for new ways to connect with each other.  The main interest these folks have, is to find better ways to connect with their audience.

The most fascinating part for me recently, is just how much talent there is right here in my home town.  I’ve no illusions of Minneapolis being a center of cutting edge web 2.0 startups.  However, there is a rich history of successful, community-oriented and customer focused organizations that developed here and still call Minnesota home.

That, in combination with strong focuses on healthcare, non-profit, educational, and retail markets makes it a progressive environment.  Minneapolis has a diverse, knowledgeable, community-driven population of professionals that are looking to enhance their interactions with clients & peers.  They’re engaged in improving their game and providing improved services to their customers.

It’s this excitement that I hadn’t seen until recently.  The interest in making things happen is here, the knowledge to do it is here, and the determination to push boundaries is also part of this community.  I’m looking forward to continuing to look for ways to make things happen, to find those talented individuals who share this vision.  To make sure that they find ways to reach the right people with their ideas, and solve real problems that aren’t being addressed today.

Have you tasted the local flavor in your community?  I urge you to get involved.  Find a way to get yourself in the process, find how you can bring value and help build something for your community or customers.  How are you getting things started in your community?

Photo credit: strange librarian

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