Archives For Social Media

I am deathly afraid of snakes. I hate them. Can you relate?

I was mowing the lawn at my house last summer and nearly mowed over a snake. I didn’t see it at first, so I got closer to it than I was comfortable with. Once I saw it, I shrieked like a child and literally ran away screaming.

I knew I had to end the life of this wriggling, cold-blooded, meat pipe, so I did what any red-blooded American male would do: called my brother-in-law to come kill it.

The thought of shoving a shovel blade through the snake’s body was too much for me to bear. When Ben arrived, I gave him my garden spade and the battle cry of “make sure you cut his head off.”

I had only heard that in movies, but I wanted to pretend like I was being helpful.

Ben struck. I heard the same kind of crunch as when you crack a glow stick open. The snake perished. I picked up its disgusting, lifeless body with a snow shovel and threw it in a plastic grocery bag. What a way to go.

When you cut the head off a snake, it starts wriggling around, thrashing all about. It might even be comical if it wasn’t so damn disgusting.

To quote Morpheus, “the body cannot live without the mind.”

This is true for you and me as well. While our brains account for approximately 1 percent of our total body weight, we could not live without this vitally small percentage.

So much power packed into such a tiny space.

I find this to be true in other contexts as well:

A tiny rudder is responsible for steering a big ship.

A match can set blaze to a forest fire.

An axe can chop down a giant tree.

The tongue speaks words that start wars.

I was sitting in church yesterday and found myself thinking about the Think Digital productivity sheets I’ve been working on for the past few months. It’s a system I’m developing to help me get the most out of each day.

A few months ago I started realizing regular to-do lists just weren’t cutting it anymore.

I had tried every app you could think of—nothing seemed to work.

So I started experimenting with good ol’ fashioned pen and paper and noticed an instant improvement in what I was able to accomplish.

I’m on version five of the system and so far it’s helped me to obliterate my to-do list on a daily and weekly basis.

Continue Reading…

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Before we got married, my wife and I broke up four times. FOUR. TIMES.

To be more precise, I broke up with her four times because I was petrified of commitment. Not only that, she was the first woman I ever dated where I thought, “I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t with her.”

To a commitment-phobe, that’s like pushing the gas pedal to the floor with one foot while slamming the breaks with the other.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s a paradox. It’s complicated. It’s L-O-V-E, yo.

Long story short, she stuck with me (thankfully) and, seven years and two kids later, we’re happy as clams.

I am so thankful to look back and see the amazing people who helped me see:

  • How big of a doofus I was being
  • What I would have missed out on if I didn’t get a grip
  • The problem wasn’t with Kerry, the problem was with me!

See, I wanted the emotional connection to her without the commitment. I was afraid of committing–of truly putting someone else’s needs before my own–but still wanted all the benefits that come from it:

  • Trust
  • Loyalty
  • Security
  • Happiness
  • Love

In short, I was painfully selfish and completely unaware. (Not a good combo.) The only person I was concerned about in the relationship was me. What I could get out of the deal. How I could my needs met. Anyone who’s been in a one-sided relationship before knows how exhausting this can be. Relationships are two-way streets.

A good relationship is always give-and-take, share-and-listen, love-and-be-loved. Always.

Why am I telling you about my past relational issues? Because just as I had a commitment phobia in my relationship with Kerry (and it showed), many of us have commitment issues with our online communities (and it shows).

We want the connection to our community without the commitment. We want the benefits without the work. We want the reward without the risk.

We take more than we give. We share more than we listen. We want to be loved more than we love.

Buy this…
Click this…
Go here…
Volunteer for this…
Attend this…
Come now…
Share, Like, Comment…
Now, now, now…

This can work for a short amount of time, but sooner or later even the most patient person gets tired of the Me Monster. We’re all human, after all.

If it sounds funny to think about our online communities this way, it shouldn’t.

We live in an opt-in world. Seth Godin calls it “the connection economy,” and he’s right. Moving forward, all you have is relationships. Everything else is a distraction.

Your brand, your business, your church, your nonprofit–they will rise and fall on your ability to cultivate goodwill and build strong relationships online.

Read that last line again. Go ahead. Let it sink in.

You might be wondering what changed on the fourth break-up with my wife. The answer is simple: I knew that if I couldn’t get my act together, I’d lose her forever. I knew if I didn’t start investing in her like she had so faithfully invested in me, the kindest, smartest, sassiest woman I’d ever known was going to walk out the door for good. (And she would have had every right to do so.)

Things worked out and, slowly but surely, I learned to put her first.

Wise Family

Don’t lose your community because you couldn’t stop thinking about yourself. They’re the best thing you have going for you right now—your most valuable asset. Start treating them like it.


Are you having trouble getting people interested in your social media content? There’s a reason no one cares.

Do you know what it is? Gather in close. I will tell you.

If no one cares about your social media content, it’s because you aren’t responding to them. You aren’t listening. The secret to social media success is this: Responsiveness.

That’s right. Responsiveness. In other words, when your online community tweets, comments, or messages you, you respond back.

It’s not timing (oh, how I loathe “timing” studies). It’s not post length (although that can help). It’s not the tools you use. It’s not any factor that lives “out there,” just beyond our grasp.

It boils down to being a living, breathing human being connecting on a one-to-one level with other living, breathing human beings. That’s responsiveness.

The people who understand the need for responsiveness are the ones who see results. It’s the great differentiator. You can’t easily “scale” responsiveness, which is why it’s so precious. The brands and business who respond will win. The ones that do not (or will not), won’t.

My thinking on this has shifted through the years, but I have people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Jon Acuff to look at as role models. They have audiences much larger than mine and somehow, they find a way to respond. If they can do it, I can do it.


When faced with the responsiveness question, many organizations will give excuses like:

  1. But Justin, we don’t have enough time to be responsive.
  2. But Justin, we don’t know what to say–what if someone says something bad about us?
  3. But Justin, there’s no one on staff who can do that right now.
  4. But Justin, won’t that take a lot of time (short answer: YES).

You know what that is? Bullsh*t. All of it. (And many of you need strong language like that to shake the cobwebs off. Did it work? Do I have your attention now?)

If you are too busy to respond to your online audience, you are too busy to see results. Period.

Look at these folks being responsive:


Jon Acuff


Delta Airlines

Gary Vaynerchuk


Ann Curry


If you don’t respond to your audience, you’re no better than telemarketers—you want the results without building the relationship.

Social media is not a “free” marketing channel to endlessly blast your poor, tired, marketing-weary audience. It is a living, breathing connection to the people who have chosen to be a part of your community.

Give them the respect they deserve. Start responding. If no one is tweeting at you or commenting on your stuff, go out and find some people to talk to (they’re out there).

The social media of the future will be responsive. Don’t get left behind!

UPDATE: The original version of this post had the curse word spelled out. I changed it because, even though I believe what I wrote, it made folks I trust ask questions. I’m super passionate about this topic, thus the strong language. The edited version still makes a strong point while being a little more palatable. I am sorry if I offended you.