Belly Button Bloggers with Chris Brogan

Goto to join Chris’ group

Chris says that nobody knows who he is.

I disagree.

I met Chris originally on Twitter.

Chris says that when he sees people on twitter trying to push the now 280 character limit, instead of “get a room” he thinks, “get a blog!”

As a kid, Chris learned to ride a bike, and when he crashed it into his own house, and while crying hysterically, his mom came out and his reaction was to ask her to “move the house.”

Chris had a very loving upbringing, almost to a fault.

His parents gave him so much confidence, that he was in for a rude awakening at school.

He thought he was so good looking that he asked out the hottest girl in the class.

He didn’t get the girl 🙁

He could have been like Hugh Hefner minus the girls, and anyone naked!

For reading, Chris was into science fiction.

Isaac Asimov to name one. Several others. Listen for the list. I’m feeling lazy today.

After 9/11 he stopped reading fiction entirely.

Chris was in a Walmart recently and a robot went by. He was stuck by how “normal” this is already.

Chris never got a college degree.

In his first semester he hid in the library and thought it was smart. Then he realized no one cared where he was.

In the end he got a bunch of credits at a bunch of different universities.

Everything he wanted to do there was no degree for.

He never wants to dissuade someone from getting an education, but his experience was different.

After helping his college with a computer problem, the instructor told him no need to come to class. He’ll just give him an A.

What Happened

Chris was working for the phone company.

Then he wrote a bunch of books and was one of the pioneers of social media marketing.

So what happened in between?

Chris wanted to talk about things that weren’t talked about in his community where he grew up.

What about who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman?

So he wound up on Bulletin Board systems (I remember those. I would stay up literally all night on them).

Chris saw the community aspect of this and saw something.

So when social media came out, he was on there pretty early.

He’s not in love with the platforms, by the way. But he’s in love with whom you could reach?

My favorite of the social platforms is still Twitter.

Into the Spiderverse – must see

So why blogging before there was blogging?

Because he COULD in short. He can publish without anyone telling him if he was good or bad. And back to his childhood, he was lead to believe by loving parents that he was very wonderful. So of course people would want to read him.

What were you writing about Chris?

His belly button.

There were so many belly button bloggers out there.

Chris loved Lifehacker and

The guy running it was going on vacation and asked for a volunteer to run it. Chris volunteered. When he came back to relieve Chris, Chris insisted on staying, for free, but in exchange for the ability to link back to his own stuff.

What Dungeons and Dragons taught me about being an entrepreneur.

So how does this all line up with when Jason Calacanis was acquired by AOL?

Chris went the other way from these guys. They were all of the big guys who started big media companies and set themselves straight.

He decided it was better to struggle!

When Chris quit and joined the circus, it was “total velocity luck.”

What it’s Like Today

Foot bullets!

I was 2010. He did 106 features and every other week he was somewhere else.

Divorce happened.

The road – it is really hard to maintain a relationship.

BY 2011 he was trying to figure out what to do. He was working with some very large companies and wasn’t enjoying it.

Then he decided to work with smaller companies.

This was an experiment in “how would you like to not get any money.”

He had several other books to write after Trust Agents, and he needed another “hit.”

Little companies and people working inside of big companies are Chris’ “real buyer.”

CEOs and CMOs find him much less often. It’s the disruptors who find Chris.

If you have to question, “is this worth it?” The answer is no.


Charge the value or charge what you want?

$20 is the new free.

So how did you deal with writing yourself out of the big companies?

He started talking to an industry instead of to a company!

Social Media Pub Crawl with Brooke B. Sellas

Find Brook here:

What it was like

Brooke was a “devil” child for a while, so she’s glad social media wasn’t around back then. By the time social media was around, Brooke had reverted back to an angel.

She really wanted to be a veterinarian because she loves animals, but when she realized she had to help them when they were sick or injured, she could no longer be a vet. She was too sensitive and loved the animals too much to bear seeing them sick or hurt.

Brooke wanted to get into media as a weather woman, but she didn’t like that so much.

So she moved around from one thing to another, until she found her calling.

She did a “pub crawl. Using Facebook she was able to get 7,500 people and raise $60,000.

That’s when she knew what she needed to do with her life.


Brooke went to the Dan Rather School of Communication to become a weather woman. That didn’t work out, but she eventually went back to study communication in a way that prepared her for what she is doing today.

Brooke did not like being on camera.

The weather Girl Movie I was referring to:

When Brooke worked in real estate she really liked the sales aspect of it. Even now she is the sales team for her company.

She likes the chase. I love what she said about why she waited so long to get married. Once you “have them” it gets boring.

What Happened

So what were the struggles?

Leaving school for the boy.

So she went back to school at age 29. She moved in with her parents to finish school. One year turned into 2, because not everything transferred.

This turned out to be the most amazing decision she ever made, because it lead to her company now (B Squared) and her husband.

Starting over can be overwhelming.

So how did Brooke get reassured when she felt overwelmed?

She got ridiculously focused on her work for school.

I was just reflecting to someone that I found when I was engaged in a learning process of my own, I forgot about all of my worries. It helped me get relief from my usual anxiety about everything I want to do etc…

Appparently when you go back to school as an old person, they call you an “adult student.”

Then someone invited her to go away on a trip and she resisted.

Then she went.

Then she realized that she can have fun too!

Stress can be the number one offender.

Stress management may be the answer.

We have to PLAN the fun stuff. It needs to be on the calendar and it needs to be just as important as an appointment with a client.

Put success in your way.

What It’s Like Today

So what about sales?

You don’t have to be that sleazy used car salesman.

Sales is about listening first.

Understanding what the customers problems and needs are.

Sales should be win, win, win.

So when it comes to your company, B Squared working with clients, how do you work with companies to translate their brand into social media when it’s not the face and voice of the person who is central to that brand?

The answer? First we have to define your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). We have to find out who you are. Then we can represent that, and we can hand it off to you when you’re ready.

What are the demographics of your target audience?

What are the psychographics of whom you’re looking for (ie) what are their interests.

When it comes to advertising it is NOT easy.

You have to do a ton of split testing.

You have to test on multiple platforms.

Test, test, test, and tweak.

Test and tweak, and test and tweak.

It will cost money, but once you figure it out, it will pop!

Or just hire Brooke!

Find Brook here:

Everything you need to contact them is there!

Why the Girl Became a Cat with Shanna Forrestall

What it Was Like

Shanna was a good student. Not a science or math person. It took her awhile to find her “art.” She was creative, but what about practical skills?

She played a lot. She loved creating imaginary worlds and stories.

Her family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. Her mom would give them some sheets and say, “go play in the woods and come home before dark.”

Shanna got into acting, and got into the production side of it pretty quickly.

Bottom line she’s better at the production part. She is a really good organizer, and this played into her functioning better behind the camera than in front of it. She saw the magic of what had to come together to make it all happen.

What about the idea of being alone in these imaginary worlds?

Shanna didn’t actually do it alone. She would recruit people and assign roles.

She was a producer right from the beginning.

Shanna was forced to be creative and find ways to entertain herself, because her family didn’t have the money to buy her toys and things that would have made it easy.

No formal schooling. She went to college for a little bit. But there were no scholarships then, and she couldn’t go into debt for it.

Shanna would hire people to do the things she needed and then learn from them.

Mentors to the rescue again! Even if you have to pay your mentor, it’s worth it. Shorten the learning curve, and avoid the pitfalls they’ve fallen into.

What Happened

The earliest challenges Shanna faced had to do with growing up in her time in Louisiana. The way the viewed (or didn’t view) women. She got through this by having strong female influencers. She also found that there was an advantage to being the only woman in a room with a voice! Shanna used that.

It became more and more important for Shanna to find and fight for her place.

Then as she got older she got moxy. She was able to say, “oh no, no… I am way too old for you to tell me what to do.”

She realized her own value, and that helped her stand her ground.

Over time Shanna has learned to fight not just for herself, but for any “marginalized group” that isn’t getting the treatment they deserve.

Shanna likes to hire autistic kids to help her. She took one such guy to shoot some stuff with her. These kids are diligent and hard workers. One of these kids is extremely good at animation. It links to his attention to detail which is likely tied directly to his autism.

When you give someone an opportunity, who isn’t used to being given opportunities, they will be so grateful that they will work that much harder for you.

“Matt” whom Shanna was talking about has a different way of viewing the world and this comes out in his work, and it’s beautiful.

Before getting her “moxy” Shanna handled things by leaning on mentors.

So how do you stand up to people when you need to?

Age helps.

Find a way to keep the person’s ego intact while you stand up for yourself. If you do this well you can find a way to disengage most people’s fears. There’s a balance that has to be achieved here.

The answer in my own words is something I learned from a friend and mentor of mine – make them feel safe. Help them realize that you are not a threat.

Once you do this, you will get the opportunity to prove yourself. THAT’s when opportunities start coming your way.

Another key is listen first. If you listen first then you find an opportunity to insert your ideas. When you do that, then you add value to the conversation, and then you earn your spot. You earn trust.

What It’s Like Today

Shanna is writing a children’s book right now – “Why the Girl Became a Cat.” It’s about female empowerment, about girls having a choice to become whatever they want to be.

Also working with a Brain Trauma specialist on a documentary on Autism. This is partly about the possibility of Autism recovery happening. No this doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. It means that you can take a nonverbal child and help them become verbal. The goal is to bring hope.

Shanna is working on lots of interesting projects, but her “day job” is working with businesses on their social media content. She works with both for profit and non-profit businesses.

Shanna loves capturing people’s stories (so do we).

She loves taking “non-actors” and getting them to feel comfortable in front of the camera.

Your business is your story, and your story is your business.

People are so overwhelmed by social media. How do you get that presence?

Shanna talks to them about who their target “demo” is. Who is your IDEAL client.

Shanna’s primary focus is on people who are creative, and people who are passionate. That can be someone in Real Estate, or it can be a musician.

When we talk about what are your goals and how can we get there. Shanna becomes a bit of a social media psychologist!

As a result of this process she can figure out what kind of content to put out there.

Shanan likes to ease people’s anxiousness at ease.

But you have to really want to do it.

So what do you say to someone who is scared of being in front of a camera?

Going live and looking like you don’t know what you are talking about is going to hurt your business. So you get someone to help you.

Yes. Video works, but that video can be an audio piece with images.

There are many ways to approach this.

What are you trying to do? What are you actually selling?

Identify your assets.

Then create them.

Even down to creating your “free giveaway” for your sales funnel. Shanna can help make that beautiful.

30 Blank Pages to Fill with Jill Konrath

What it Was Like

Jill was “nerdy!” growing up.

Unlike most nerds she had a social mother.

So Jill learned how to be social as a nerd.

30 blank pages to fill

Jill liked the Yearbook in High School because she loved the idea that she had 30 blank pages to fill.

Jill was a high school teacher and hated it.


Same kids.

They never got older.

Always dealing with 15-16 year olds.

Then she got an idea to start her own company.

Put together a business plan.

Presented it to service corps.

Then the asked her who was going to do sales?

She said I thought you said this was a good idea?

Yes but someone has to sell it.

So Jill agreed to go do sales for 1 year, even though she hated it, so she could learn it.

She went to work for Xerox, and never wound up going back to her original idea.

Meanwhile back to childhood.

Jill liked history and loved to read.

Mostly science fiction.

Favorite Author Isaac Asimov

She studied education- to become a teacher.

When she learned to develop lesson plans she learned to ask people questions to make them think.

When she went to work for Xerox they used something called “SPIN selling.”

Types of questions to ask

Situation – what are you doing today?

Problems – What are the problems you’re having?

Implication – what other areas are affected by these problems?

Needs payoff – what benefit would there be if you could achieve these things. What would happen if we could eliminate these problems?

From this perspective it makes sense how you go from teaching to sales.

Jill was bored. The students weren’t.

Curriculum was already written.

Jill did not have her “blank pages.”

What Happened

Jill went into sales just to learn it, and found she loved it so much, she never left the world of sales!

But after the birth of her second child, she couldn’t do corporate America anymore.

She took a year off and then started her consulting firm.

Working with corporate America as a consultant is very different. You don’t have to sell your soul to do the work.

Initially Jill did not go after big corporate clients. First she had to get some experience.

She went after small businesses initially, but they don’t value sales, and they don’t want to pay for it.

So she had to find people who VALUE what she offers.

The unfulfilled niche!

Launching new products!

Then she started getting the bigger companies, and getting hired for one project would lead to others.

She lived on the St. Paul side of the Mississippi and it would take a long time to get to Minneapolis.

So she decided to only work with companies on her side of the river.

This was two major companies; 3M and Summation.

Then pressure from Wall St. lead to cut-backs which meant Jill was cut.

Soon no one was answering her calls or emails.

She thought about being a waitress. This was her backup plan – what she did in college. She knew how to make good tips.

Jill had to hone in on her value proposition.

Go after smaller accounts.

When you’re a sales consultant with no clients it’s really embarrassing.

Then she started asking people if they were having trouble prospecting. Turns out everyone was having this problem.

It’s not personal.

Now it became a puzzle.

Solving a puzzle is a lot more fun than feeling rejected.

She was able to keep some little jobs to keep her going.

Meanwhile Jill would play around with different responses and literally found a way to get people to respond to her.

Then she decided to write a book about this.

She wrote the proposal and next thing she knew she was on the phone with various publishers.

The book came out in 2005 called, “Selling to Big Companies.” It was written for the smaller salesperson who needed to figure out how to get the large companies to talk to them.

Bottom line Jill continued preparing even when she had no work.

Then opportunity met preparedness and everything changed.

Now Jill has 5 books written:

  1. Selling to Big Companies
  2. Get back to work fast – Was taken off the market because it’s dated.
  3. Snap Selling – how to sell to busy buyers who don’t wind up moving forward even though they tell you they will.
  4. Agile Selling – for someone who gets hired to sell and has to sell
  5. More Sales Less Time – For people who are selling amidst digital distractions like email and facebook and everything.

What it’s Like Today

Where do you start with someone who hates selling?

You start by agreeing with them!

Selling is disgusting!

Because our perception is based on the idea of the used car salesman.

“Pitch” is a disgusting term. You are absolutely right to be disgusted by it.

The works bookkeeper in the world sucks at math, so how are you going to put someone who sucks at sales in a role where they have to sell?

No one will be good at this unless you figure out what selling really is.

Selling is a skill.

But it’s not the skill most people think it is.

It is the skill of being interested in and focused on customers.

You have to get on the phone with strangers and talk to them but this doesn’t have to be in a bad way.

I am not an accountant. I analyze numbers to help businesses grow!

Selling is about talking to people in terms they can understand.

You explain what you do in terms of what “THEY want.”

How is their money being spent and where are there opportunities.

When Jill changed from saying she’s a sales trainer to describing the problem they encounter with their sales team, she got a different reaction. She describes things in terms they can relate to.

Jill shortens time to revenue on a new product.

They key is knowing who your ideal client is and what they struggle with.

The importance of “good questions.”

When Jill was young and started dating, she didn’t want to just go on one date. She wanted to make sure they would ask her on a second date.

She was a nerd and did her research. She found that guys like to be asked questions.

So if “Doug” was a hockey player and a football player, what 10 questions can she ask him?

Jill prepared her questions ahead of time.

Sometimes she would forget her questions. So she would excuse herself to the restroom and review her questions.

Next thing you know the guy tells her they can’t believe how much they have in common with her.

Smart people will come prepared for a conversation. Write down your questions. You can even say that you prepared for today’s meeting.

Just have a conversation.

Try just asking someone to tell you what is going on, and then take notes. If you feel weird taking notes, ask if they mind if you take notes.

You don’t have to “trick” anyone into buying something. Just be real.

The Possibilitarian with Ed Kless

Ed along with Ron Baker is responsible for bringing the concept of value pricing to the professions like legal, and accounting.

The concept itself – the concept of value, and where does value come from dates back to the ancient Greeks.

Even the economist Adam Smith got a lot of it wrong, so it is not an easy concept.

What it was like

Did you know as a kid that you would be doing what you do today?

Actually not too far off. When Ed was a kid he would pretend to be a radio show host covering natural disasters of his legos.

His degree is in Liberal Studies.

Ed minored in Business Admin, Information Systems, and Musical Theater.

Today he mainly uses the Theater part (podcast / internet radio talk show host).

Ed also announced a lot of baseball games in his backyard.

He was a big fan of Marv Albert.

There was a book that talked about a lot of interesting things. Depending on what you’re announcing for (eg) radio you need to be more descriptive.

There seems to be something to be said for theater and business. You wouldn’t think they would tie in, but surprisingly they do – especially among the guests we’ve had.

When you are acting, it’s not about you. You are creating an experience for your audience. The same is true in business.

What Happened

Ed is a “possibilitarian”

What’s possible?

Ed’s hardest time was characterized by a one year period in which he sold his business and got divorced.

He had started a partnership with some people. They were Great Plains resellers (now owned by Microsoft).

The business did really well. They had a niche in “not for profits with money.”

  • Girl Scouts of the USA is one of these
  • Jewish Guilt for the Blind
  • United Way of Bergen County
  • AMFAR – AMerican Foundation for Aids Research

Where do you think Girl Scouts makes their money?

Hint: Not the cookies. The local troops keep those profits.


The Uniforms!

A Brownie sash is $20

Girl Scouts is really a fashion company.

One thing Ed learned working with Girl Scouts is how to manage meetings.

They were one of Peter Drucker’s and he taught them effective meeting management.

In the end Ed and his partners were simply not on the same page.

They reached their goal – accomplished what they had set out to accomplish.

Now they couldn’t agree on where to go next.

This was a miserable experience.

Then Ed was hired by Sage.

He was hired by Taylor McDonald who was fired from Sage.

He went to work for Intaact, who last year was bought by Sage for around $850 million.

So now Taylor is back at Sage.

During Ed’s transition from his partnership he was also going through a divorce.

He had to deal with it sequentially. In other words, he just focused on one thing at a time. Whatever was right in front of him.

Ed learned to look forward to a “better time” because right now sucks.

The lesson here is that nothing is permanent. That is something to remember when you are going through any rough time.

Erica points out that what’s interesting is that Ed’s major struggle came after and almost as a result of success.

What It’s Like Today

After the divorce was though and the business was old, Ed rediscovered his love for consulting work, and then also discovered his love for a new woman.

Ed was able to do consulting work for very large companies.

His connection to Ron Baker took place while he was consulting. Ed implemented some of what Ron had taught, but not all of it.

He realized that in the accounting industry we had the “…complete wrong business model.” Value does not equal rate x hours, yet we behave as if we ignore that every day.

Now Ed and Ron have flipped many businesses into Value Pricing models.

Jamey Johnson Song – The Dollar

If you suck at what you do, continue to bill by the hour.

Ed and Ron shaped how we charge and pay at Nerd Enterprises, Inc.

Ed does an exercise called “The Nuclear Option.”

As a group – how many of you have ever filled out a timesheet?

All hands go up.

And how many of you have ever not exactly put down what really happened?

I’d rather be approximately correct than be precisely wrong.

If the value isn’t the labor, what is the value?

Answer: The customer determines the value.

Value (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s your job as the professional to have the conversation with the customer so that they understand what the value is in their mind.

Then you come up with a price that is commensurate with that.

Then the price that you get justifies the cost.

It’s exactly the reverse.

Find Ed on Voice America at The Soul of Enterprise.

They have a patreon site with some bonus episodes and commercial free