Introducing ConvoSpark: A Social Media Agency

convospark logo

Last week I declared that I have made the full fledged nose dive into self-employment.  This week it’s time to reveal the company behind the entrepreneur (at least more extensively).

I have been fortunate enough to partner up with some amazing business people and friends to create ConvoSpark; a social media agency that focuses on creating social technology that engages and sparks conversations about our clients’ companies.  What exactly does all that marketingy copy mean?  It means that if you have a conversation that needs to be started with a group of people, we help you craft your message, customize an application that will carry your message and execute a strategy to spark a conversation with the right groups.  We leverage platforms that consumers socialize on like Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and the Android to help build out polished social media presences. To sum it up, we bridge the gap between our client’s current digital properties with their future social properties.

We have already been fortunate enough to work with some Fortune 500 brands and some ultra creative agencies.  We look forward to building relationships with many more to come.

If we can help you or anyone else you know, you can drop us a line and schedule a free initial consultation.

Thank you to everyone for your unyielding support with the building of ConvoSpark.  Don’t you worry, you will get your fair share of updates along the way.

You can follow ConvoSpark on both Twitter (@ConvoSpark) and Facebook .

A Journey of Uncertainty is Certain

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Last Wednesday:  I Left my job at a social media agency.

Today:  I write my own paychecks (assuming that I can)

And I feel more alive then ever.

There is something thrilling about uncertainty.  Ask my two partners at ConvoSpark and myself about it.  We are now moving full force into a dualistic world of well known work (social media marketing) followed by the unknown self-employment arena.  An uncertain future is sparking an invigorating present.

Not knowing if I can pay rent or buy food makes me hustle harder, conjure up some deep seeded creative juices and value my clients more.   Sometimes you have to make yourself uncomfortable to grow…and now is the time break through the threshold.

Becoming a full time entrepreneur is a whole different ball game than the part time gig.  Of course, entrepreneurship is a state of mind therefore being a full timer doesn’t entitle you to a state of superiority.  However, it does pose a whole new set of circumstances that you have to take into account.

Making a living

You know when people ask you “How do you make a living?”.  Typically, you reluctantly give them a templated version of your day to day.  Nowadays, I can literally say: “anything”.  To most that may sound snarky or overtly existential…however, today, I do “anything” I can (within the confines of the law and the positioning of our business) to make a living.  It’s kinda fun to respond to that question by saying…”anything I want”.

More time=Different time management

When you are an entrepreneur that works a 9 to 5 you also have a 8 to 1. It takes incredible discipline, preparation, task management and delegation to make that schedule work effectively.  When you jump ship and start working full time on your own business you automatically assume that you’re freed up time will lead to greater productivity.  That usually is the case, but for me it took a while.  It took schedule adjustments and equally focusing on a “work life balance” (I live more of a homogeneous model).  Most importantly…focusing on what is most important.

The supporters, the envious and the non-believers

In the minds of many spectators, your entrepreneurial efforts will go from “aww that’s cute” to “what’s this guy got up his sleeve”.  You should be prepared to handle all types of commentary.  Some are going to love what you do and will do anything to support you, others will want to be in the position you’re in and some will think you’re doomed to fail.  You’re mom’s going to want to make sure you can eat from month to month.  Your dad will want to know if you’re making the right career decision.  It’s always of the utmost importance to surround yourself with positive people that believe in your cause but will give you the harsh realities when needed.

Well everybody…here’s to ramen noodle and 14 hours days (I am being a bit dramatic).  Really…here’s to freedom of choice, possibilities and making good things happen.

Check out ConvoSpark.com to see a bit more about what I am doing.

It’s Good to Follow…Just Follow Those Who “Get It”

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There is alot of noise these days.  Probably more than ever. The good thing is that filtering the noise is actually possible.  In the conversation age you have a choice of what you consume.  With choices comes decisions…asking yourself “what do I read”, “who do I become friends” with “what business opportunities I pursue”.

While chatting with Shane Mac the other week, he made a point to say he follows those who “get it”.  I mean we only have some much information we can consume, so many people we can stay in contact with (148 to be exact), we must discriminate some how for the mere fact that our time is finite.  So why not discriminate based on “who gets it”.

If someone “gets it”, then they have an understanding of who they are, what moves them, what their goals are.  They have reached a level of mental clarity beyond the norm.  These people or sources have genuine value to add to the world and a perceptive that differentiates them from the “normalized” majority.

So when you are choosing who or what to follow…keep the filtering process simple.  Don’t judge based on popularity or blind reciprocity, instead make sure they “get it” and just as importantly, that their followers “get it”.

If they leave you feeling awakened and slightly confused, you are heading down the right path.

The Hangover, 2012 and the Virtue of Freedom

The hangover

This is a guest post from a great friend of mine and the most talented writer I know, Kyle Rutty. You can get his take on relationships, Facebook stalking and the rest of his world views at his comedy blog FindgingWood.com.

The movie Hangover was similar to my college experience: hazy, hung over, blurred, and a complete disregard for responsibility.  Now my out of college experience is a little different.  If I had to compare it to a recent movie, I would say it is similar to the movie 2012; a catastrophe that brings about absolute chaos in my life.

I say this because college was safe. Not physically safe, shots of tequila at 4am isn’t real safe, but mentally safe, because I did very little to expand my horizon as a person. If you asked me “Who I Am” in college my response would pay a lot of homage to my personality and little to do with goals, passions, and what I want out of my life.  Of course, ask me “Who I Am” on a Saturday night in college and I would probably given you a drunkenly profound response as I shove a burrito in my mouth and spout out Anchorman quotes. AKA: I had no idea who I was or what I wanted.

However, from the moment I grabbed that diploma and left the bubble I call college, I was forced to honestly face myself; the one person I was successfully able to avoid with booze, girls, midterms, and a “what are you doing tonight” text every two hours.  And with all the distractions removed from my life, what I found wasn’t pleasant. Now the easiest thing I could have done was just kept my safe job out of college, find more distractions, and live an uneventful and uninspired life.  Deep down I would have known I settled, I would have known that I could have been more, but as long as I had a bubble of distractions, I would have been just fine.

But I chose a different route, and in doing so, was forced confront those deep hidden insecurities that lay dormant within me for years and years. But when the layers began to fall away, so did the insecurities, and so did the desire to just “fit in,” or to meet everyone else’s expectations of who I should be.

And this led me to my passion– my answer to what I wanted most out of life.  Surprising enough, it wasn’t a really hot girlfriend or a million dollars; it was to reach people through writing. Suddenly I had a purpose, it all seemed so clear. In a crazy turn of events, I left my safe job in one of the economically worst situations we have seen in decades. But it was what I needed to do. It was what I had to do. I will never say it’s easy to do what your passionate about, because passion is synonymous with you — you meaning everything that encompasses yourself, not just the good stuff, but the bad stuff as well.

Am I doing what I want to do now? Yes!  Am I successful from a business standpoint? Not yet, but I don’t care, and that’s all that matters.  If you told my college self that he would want to be an aspiring writer at the age of 23, he would have laughed at you and then asked you if you wanted to take a shot with him.  But that’s the best part about my out of college experience. The fact that I was able to remove the fake insecure shell I carried for years and came to discover the real me, the one that is ultimately being true to himself and chasing what he wants most out of life.

Focus Your Life One Action at a Time

3D-Booka

This post is part of the Blog Tour for Richard Dedor’s new book, Anything is Possible. Want to learn more about my friend Richard? Visit his blog, Finding Focus & follow him on Twitter to keep in touch!   Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to check out our free giveaway opportunity.

It is often said that simple actions have a big impact. I believe it is true in all areas of life. For instance, instead of watching five hours to television during the week, workout for one of those hours and watch television at the same time. If you focus your energy on the right areas of your life, anything is possible.

In order for you to achieve your dreams, you have to take a step. You have to stumble. You have to fall. And you have to fail. But failures are opportunities for you to learn about yourself and help you get just a little bit closer to your dream.

Someday I want to be self-employed. I know what I want my company to look like in ten years. I have a plan. It is not set in stone but it’s a rudimentary playbook for me.

It wasn’t always that way for me. The problem was that after college I wasn’t focused on anything. I was simply collecting a paycheck and enjoying my newfound freedom. That changed when I was asked what I was doing to achieve my dreams. From that day in the fall of 2006 until now, I’ve spent nearly every day working towards my dream. Once I knew what it was I simply got started.

I have taken it one day at a time and here I am; I have my own company and I have a book out. There are still a lot of steps to be taken, but one action at a time.

So, what actions do I suggest for you to focus your life?

First, you must organize and figure out what you want out of life. Sometimes mind mapping can help or talking with your closest friends and allies to see where they see you. The key is finding your passion and living it.

Second, you need to continue to learn. The more you know and the more people you meet, the better your life is going to be.

Finally, you must have compassion. If you want to reach for the stars, you’re going to need some people on your team. Be compassionate to your team and welcome in new people. But also, be compassionate to yourself. Give yourself time to relax.

There is no greater joy in life than achieving something you set out to do. It all begins with a single step. Get going!

For an opportunity to win a copy of Richard’s book Anything is Possible retweet this post AND comment on this blog by telling us what is the most important action you can take right now!  The two best commenters will win a free copy of the new book…for real!

Public is the New Default…Who Are YOU to the Web World?

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The world is rapidly becoming more social, all the while these socialites are hanging out behind a computer…counter intuitive I know! Twitter has shown the word what a public ecosystem can do for spreading messages and building communities. Facebook recently embraced a more public community when Marky Mark Zuckerberg announced that the default privacy settings will now be public. Even the search giants, Google, understand that human powered social data will mean the world to them (literally). More data more money yes we know, but from a more positive standpoint this shift towards a democratization of publicity allows astute and hardworking people to build a name from the ground up. Basically, the world is becoming more open and there is nothing you can do about other than embracing the culture or becoming irrelevant.

Right now I am reading the most relevant book for this topic and times “Trust Agents” (relevant for anyone who lives a digital life right now or wants to). Chris and Julien are able to run through the ever changing landscape of the extremely open and public digital space while expressing the importance of authenticity and engagement. If you engage people in your community and are authentic in your actions you have control over your online identity. If success is having control over your own destiny then a lot more people have the opportunity to be successful in this day and age.

So after enough “yes, yes I agree” statements and a couple “ah-ha” moments while reading Trust Agents I decided to check in on the blogosphere to see what the trust agents in my circle are saying. I stumbled across one of my favorites, the genius Matt C of “Life Without Pants” (I named my blog before I knew of him I swear!). We chatted a bit through his comment section discussing the topic bloggers identity and how to position one’s self. What struck me in particular was the simplicity of the message Matt expressed:

Be Yourself!

You have heard this time in time again I know. However, that message will never be more relevant than in the world we live in now! The world is open, life is public and people are social. You will be Googled, Facebooked, and put through the whole gamut of web 2.0 adopted verbs we are now accustom to. People will know you and if they don’t, they will at the very least know how to find you.
So just like your mother told you “just be yourself” and you will make friends. If you are looking to build a presence for yourself online…be yourself and be the best person you can be and watch a community form. Be the compelling and unique individual you are and package your offering in a way that will gain the interest of people on the web.

Public is the new default…no need to put up a front… just be yourself…say what you feel…and make new friends that believe in your message.

Let me know…

Do you think everyone should just be themselves online? Or is it a controlled process of showing the world who you want to be known as? Maybe a little of both…

Let us know your thoughts on the dynamics of the new public world.

What I Learned Today…

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I have learned alot in the past month!  It seems like my January 2010 = the sum of my UCSB college years from an educational standpoint (it’s not you UCSB, it’s me).  I think I have already made my point, but just to reiterate…I am committed to learning this year.

I have committed 2010 to being my breakthrough year.  I have been pursuing new and worthwhile opportunities, establishing myself in my industry and trying to soak as much as I can in between.

The good thing is that the “stuff in between” is not slipping through the cracks as I have been “flippin” new videos of myself letting anyone who cares know “What I Learned Today“. Most of the videos are indirectly related to my life as an entrepreneur in the social media space.  However, I am hoping that there are takeaways for anyone trying to learn something new, helpful and insightful every day.  Here are a few videos on what I have learned last month:

Go to Bed Before 2:30am (Jan 5th)

How to Get Featured on the Tim Ferriss Blog (Jan 6th)

Creativity is Paramount! (Jan 12th)

Leaders are Direct (Jan 15th)

FindingWood.com Has Launched! (Jan 25th)

Partnerships: Leave Everything on the Table (Jan 27th)

For more of “What I Learned Today”, check out my Posterous blog Brenton’s QuikFix

Success Is…

Success Ebook Cover

In the spirit of the launch of the free  Success E-book by 30 of the worlds most awesome bloggers!  Here is my take on the all encompassing yet hard to define term “success”.

The Marriam Webster Dictionary defines success as the following:

favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

Well Marriam and Webster whoever you are…I beg to differ…

Success is commonly defined as a destination, an outcome, basically a single point.  That destination is typically determined by the money, status and/or power that the successful person has obtained.  There are some obvious problems with this positioning of the concept of success:

1st: If success is a single point in the road, what was before it and what follows after it?  Every successful person (by societal standards) knows that success was not achieved at one single point in their journey.  It was achieved by failing, stumbling and learning a 1,000 times before you “succeed”. Telling successful people they have “made it” and now “succeeded” is a completely backhand bitch slap to the face of any person who has spent hours grinding, months flat broke and have had their decisions questioned by many of their loved ones.  Those truly successful people have always known they were successful regardless of their external life situation.  They also know that passion does not relinquish once you “make it”.

2nd: Who chose these metrics?  Money, status and power not only focus on the outward and some what superficial nature of success but it excludes millions of successful people that work under a different set of metrics.  Simply reflect on the accomplishments of Mahatma Gandhi.  An individual with little money, status or power led one of the largest political and spiritual movements the world has ever witnessed.  Marriam Webster would fail to declare Gandhi as a “successful” individual.  Live by your own metrics of success not anyone elses!

Without future addo here is how I define success:

-Success is loving who you are and being proud of what you contribute to the world. Achieve it by doing what you love, surrounding yourself with people you love and not settling for ordinary.

Download the free Ebook and checkout what to success is to 29 other successful bloggers.  Don’t forget to checkout the brain child of this collaborative project, Jonny at The Life Thing.

Having Foolish Friends is a Great Thing!

friends daniel gibson brenton gieser

Most likely this post will come off as a shameless plug for my good friends’ websites, startups and projects…so be it…they deserve it!

After spending a little time with one of my best friends and checking out his ridiculously hilarious, well written and random website Finding Wood (launches today might I add) something struck me as it sometimes does.  I thought to myself: my friends group of friends are like no other group!  I am proud to say that many of us bypassed the young professional martini sipping lifestyle for the young entrepreneur 12am tea drinking  culture.  I am excited to say that amongst my friends, unordinary has become ordinary.

I have grown through my 20′s along side the best friends a person my age could wish for.  Yes we show each other nothing but support and love  but far beyond that we never allow each other to settle.  Each of us has sacrificed comfort and conventional success for our dreams (or at the very least what makes us happy).  I am proud to have the friends I do and owe much of my current and future achievements to them.

Daniel: My best friend and constant supporter.  This guy has backed me since the  2nd grade.  I’ve never met a person more capable when he puts his finger on what he wants.  I’ll always look up to Gip.

Kyle Rutty: His creativity scares me…literally.  Someday you will see him on SNL, but for now you can find him at FindingWood.com.  He has lived the classic story of  becoming a special government agent only become a coffee shop literary samurai (but I’m sure you have heard that before).

Wafi: Waf is a friend that will never leave your side, even if you want him to.  His knack for business and his ability to get things done impresses the hell out of me.  He always seems to be doing something big…next month is is launching MyCollegeSpot.com.

D Man: Derek taught all my friends that education must be pursued far beyond school.  Even better, real life education comes from investing in yourself and your business.  He is responsible for teaching me about system based businesses.

Killa Cam: Cameron never settles.  He lives life the way it is ought to be lived…whatever way he wants to.  He has built CampusBooze.com up to be the main resource for thousands of college students trying to get drunk for cheap.

Austin- Every group of friends needs their Tim Ferriss.  You know the guy that travels the world while building his startups?  Ya that guy.  He teaches the world how to do it at FullFoundation.com.

Sam- Sam will change the face of preventative health care.  He better, I’ve listened to him talk about it for too long for him not to.

Cath- I have never met a college student with so much drive and vision.  When I was her age I couldn’t see past Thursday nights in Downtown Santa Barbara.  I am so proud to be her boyfriend!

Plus all my other great friends who are foolish like me….JC$, Javi @ StuVu.com, Max….the list goes on.

If I could recommend on thing for young folks right out off college, entrepreneurs or anyone trying to get the most out of life, it would be to surround yourself with abnormal people…they will help you live an abnormal life!

Why the Grateful Dead are the Pioneers of Social Media

dancing bears

This post was inspired by my Deadhead mother who has helped shaped my life in the most interesting of ways. I love you so much mom :)

For those readers that don’t know the Grateful Dead, you will sure know some cultural staples they have helped cultivate, like the Tie-dyed shirts, music file sharing, hippies, and the classic jam session. Simply stated, they are easily one of the most influential bands of all time while taking a different approach from the rest. This post represents a revelation I had which revealed that the Grateful Dead go far beyond their iconic rock and roll status. They created music that not only represented their time but created a movement that was far ahead of its time:

Growing up in a house littered with stickers of dancing bears and skulls, it’s an understatement to say that I was a bit embarrassed of my Deadhead roots. Having a Dead Head mom, I was immersed in a world of music, singing, stack and stacks of cassette tape and peculiar tape traders (don’t ask). The longer I live more I realize that the Dead are embedded within by DNA…and no I am not saying this because I just acquired a bongo drum.

After a weekend coffee shop stop with my mom, I noticed the uncanny parallels between her lifelong journey of Dead Headness and my Social Media passions and work. She constantly shares music with other Deadheads while I constantly share interesting content through the web. She meets interesting people from groups across the country to talk about the Grateful Dead while I meet interesting people on Twitter in hopes of sparking up meaningful relationships. She gets into the zone by turning their music up full blast and humming along while I get in the zone by turning on some Calm Meditation on Pandora and blogging up a storm. I guess we’re not so different after all.

The more I spoke with my mom the more I understood the fundamental implications the Dead have on our Social Media Culture. I am a believer…they are the pioneers of Social Media…

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