My Challenge to You for 2015: Only Connect

Image of four young Tibetan monks

Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. ~ E.M. Forster, Howards End

The thing, I think, that keeps people from building successful businesses, especially online, is that business seems complicated.

And it is, in the sense of having a lot of moving parts. (Which, of course, is why we work so hard to build tools that make the technical part easy.)

Like anything worth doing — raising a family, building a house, growing a garden — there are a lot of small things you need to figure out how to do correctly.

But arching over all of these is the Big Thing — and if you get it right, the details will tend to work themselves out.

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Why Shark Tank is Terrible for Your Business

Maybe they’ll take away my Entrepreneur’s Secret Hat and Decoder Ring for saying this, but I hate Shark Tank.

My husband and son like it, and every time it comes on, my teeth start to grind and my eye does that little twitchy thing.

I’m not saying the investors don’t give some decent advice. They do. And most of the Sharks seem like reasonable people. (With Kevin O’Leary doing his duty as designated villain, obligatory on most reality shows.)

But the core premise of Shark Tank — I hate it. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s dangerous, and I think it hurts business owners.

Here’s why.

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What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer

poodle with glasses sitting at a desk

Every business needs content. Not the bland, me-too nonsense that so often clutters up our in-boxes and feeds, but genuinely useful, interesting content.

Content that lets a business stand out amid the clutter and noise. Content that moves prospects closer to a sale. Content that can become a powerful differentiator for your company.

And increasingly, businesses are having a tough time finding the writers who know how to create that kind of content over time.

According to some recent research by Content Marketing Institute, the demand for content writers has grown by 320 percent … just over the past year.

And while in the past, about 10 percent of companies struggled to find qualified professionals, that’s risen to 32 percent this year.

One of the reasons I think organizations struggle is, they don’t always know what qualities will make for a genuinely productive, profitable hire. And as you might guess, I have a few strong opinions about that.

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The Surprisingly Simple Key to Enduring Success Habits

ghost figure in pumpkin patch with Autumn leaves

Are you addicted to productivity advice?

I was, for a long time. I bought every system, book, and blueprint out there.

I had a very spiffy David Allen-inspired GTD process that was only 642 steps long and took a mere 3 hours a day to implement (during which time I wasn’t actually, you know, getting anything done).

That wasn’t David Allen’s fault, by the way, it was mine. But I don’t think I was alone.

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The 7 Keys to List Posts that Are Worth Writing (and Reading)

canvas painting of scattered numbers

A lot of smart writers can’t stand list posts.

What’s a list post? It’s also known as a numbered list post, or a (shudder) listicle, and it’s a post whose headline features a numbered collection of things. This post, for example, is a list post.

There are an awful lot of crummy ones out there. The celebrity sites make frequent use of them (These 17 Celebrities Used to Be Hot, etc.). In fact, all of the CRaP blogs use them liberally.

So it’s natural that a quality-focused content writer (like you) might try to avoid them. But that would be silly. And here’s why:

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The Right Way to Think About Google

mesmerized crowd looking up

You may have seen last week that Google abruptly — and almost offhandedly — announced it was terminating a key element of its future strategy for ranking content.

The Authorship program, which would let Google rank content according to the authority of the person who created it, was nuked on Thursday afternoon at the end of the business day on a Google+ thread.

It’s not really new behavior. Google is abrupt, secretive, and dismissive of the time and energy it encourages its users to put into its various programs.

Google giveth, and Google taketh away.

And to be honest, this can get right on your last nerve. But if it causes you more than a few moments of irritation, you may benefit from shifting the way you think about the web’s favorite 800-pound gorilla.

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