What’s Swimming in Your Aquarium?

16 02 2009

This dude has one awesome “real” aquarium >>

The Aquarium Concept.

Pretty sight, isn’t it? It’s not mine, in fact, I have never had success taking care of tropical fish. It’s just not my “thing”, even though I enjoy scenes like this. I do have an “aquarium” of sorts, but it has no glass, rock or water, only thoughts and dreams. My aquarium was a total mess for a long time, until I came to terms with this:

In order for things to flourish, they must have a good environment. This goes for people and fish and ideas too. You can have an aquarium, with some beautiful young fish but if you don’t take care of them (as I found out at age 10) soon algae grows in the tank, the fish start looking sickly, and then die off. Sounds simple, and it is, but looking at your life and your goals this way takes a little practice. It’s the same with ideas, projects, art, poetry, music, film, video, job search, family relations; whatever the passion, the aquarium concept holds true.

Once you have begun a project, if you don’t take steps to complete it, eventually it gets forgotten, goes away, and becomes something you just thought about a long time ago. Anyone who raises beautiful aquatic life successfully will tell you to start small, take care of a few guppies, then add more life, which requires more attentive care. Over time you can build something of true beauty share with others, like in the video posted here. The more you think about the fish you could have, and visualize their beauty, the more you “see” them in your mind, the more effort you will put into making that vision happen. It’s the same in life; I proposed to my wife because I could visualize the wonderful life I now have with her. But you have to feed the fish! If I spent every night out at the bar and ignored my family, the marriage would falter, eventually.

Also in business; I can talk about an intriguing or technically proficient video with a client, where we can both visualize it, but unless there is a budget, and then we step through the production process and edit and produce a final product, it doesn’t mean a thing to anyone. It would be akin to having a buddy who always talks about the amazing aquarium he will someday have, but never does anything to make it happen; years go by and you get sick of him talking about it. He has an aquarium but forgot to feed the fish.

It’s only real to you until it’s “real” in the world.

One of the most difficult things for me to absorb, ego-wise, is that an idea, however great my visualization of it is, means little to anyone else, and never will, until I do something about it. Ideas are common, the execution of ideas is a rare commodity. Personally I have identified several projects, including three documentary films and a music release for my band, and I can see them clearly, because I have identified them as projects I am committed to complete, and am taking steps to make them “real” in the world. But for years I went through life bewildered when friends didn’t react much when I spoke of my ideas, my dreams. Sure they were polite, but generally just gave me lip service on the subjects. Now I realize that I am the same way about a lot of what others talk about, because really that’s all it is – talk. There is no way anyone else will be able to visualize my ideas like I can, because they are mine, not theirs. It’s natural. Only when I complete steps to produce evidence of my work (trailers to the films, demos from the recording sessions) can those things start to become “real” to others. So I stopped expecting others to “get it” about what I do, until I have something to show. Even then, I expect it to take time, and that I will learn and adapt based on other people’s reactions along the way.

Again with the aquarium analogy:

Just because you have a clean tank, doesn’t mean it’s good for all fish. A freshwater fish won’t last long in saltwater, and some fish are predators, gobbling up weaker ones. Likewise, not every idea you have is suited for the business you are in and therefor should just remain an idea. Sometimes you get started on a project or quest for information, and discover you don’t really want to pursue it anymore, and that’s OK, just clean out the tank. Identify projects that you are truly passionate about, and focus on those. If you really want a tank with a beautiful coral reef, and pretty little clown fish darting about, then create the environment for it. Yours will be a very different tank than one created by someone who wants to raise aggressive creatures to watch them eat goldfish. Same in life, if you desire to be a nature photographer, but live in the city with no means to be in the wilderness, you could study and learn the craft, then take steps to move into an area more suitable to your dream. If you want it bad enough, you will work for years to achieve that goal. If, after taking some steps and researching the subject, you decide that the life of a nature photographer is not for you, then no problem, just flush that fish, and find one that will thrive where you are. So many people think they can’t achieve something, only because they only want to think about the end goal, but never really visualize it, and never identify steps to make it happen. Once again, they forgot to feed the fish.

Check out my tank.

Over the coming months, I will be posting to this blog about these individual projects, my efforts to make them “real” in the world. For now here’s an overview of our projects and an idea of what kind of fish they would be. It’s been fun to think of these things in this way, and I think fun is what Internet marketing and social networking should be all about.
A trio of Lion Fish:
Three documentary films in various stages of production with support of The Still Kickin’ Foundation, a 501C-3 non-profit organization. See Trace Documentaries Page
A hermit crab, getting bigger and more bold to venture out, day by day:
Trace Elements – Studio CD – see Trace Elements on MySpace – check out a few advance mixes from the CD
The Grouper:
Trace Productions – online since 1998, my core business site – see TraceProductions.com
Two Electric Eels:
CityB-roll and TexasB-roll – HD stock footage business – got the first eel in 2002, added second in 2008, they are also getting bigger, bolder day by day.. soon to make a big showing out of the rocks. See CityB-roll.com

I try to feed the fish everyday, whether that is adding more connections in Linkedin, FaceBook and MySpace, publishing posts to this blog, working on documentary treatments, whatever, I just keep feeding the fish. I am confident that if I keep it up, chances of them all dying off and going away are negligible. One of them might get sick sometime and die off, or one might gobble up another… But I will replace them, and learn from my mistakes. My desire is to have them all thrive, and to be in need a bigger tank.

What’s in yours?

Subscribe to this blog, we appreciate your interest in our aquarium! Also, if you want to show me your tank, sign up to Facebook and request me as a friend. Mention that you read this blog and I will be sure to add you. Then you can post articles, pictures, videos, related to your projects, your passions, your fish tank, and I will be sure to check them out. My email address is tracy@traceproductions.com. Thanks.

Wordle: The Aquarium Concept

Making Social Networking Work

25 01 2009

How does social network marketing work? This is a low tech video explaining in a clear manner how to use sites like FaceBook, MySpace. Linkedin and more to benefit you. I had nothing to do with the video, don’t even know this guy, but I think this makes a good companion to my previous post “Social Networking the New Year, and why not?”

Social Networking the New Year, and why not?

31 12 2008

It’s New Years Eve, 2008; Wow! what an amazing year it’s been, through the tumultuous election process and downturn in economy, we are still hanging in here, and feel quite blessed to be at home with family today. Among other things, this has been a year in which I delved headlong into social networking, and it has been fun and rewarding for me both personally and professionally. I have gathered a few thoughts here, that I hope will benefit others, so here we go…

Connections are important, but content is powerful.
I was resistant to the social networking / blogging idea until I began to see the hidden potential for my businesses, and our developing music and documentary film projects. I established our first business site Trace Productions in 1998, and have added two more since, with the help of excellent site designs by cdmgrafx. Through the years our business has been greatly enhanced by the websites, in real business terms, but also in another less definable benefit: the interaction with people all over the world who have sought my services, or expressed an interest, or a common history and wanted to contact me. I’ve been a believer in Internet marketing, and have published an email newsletter to a fairly broad contact base for years, but until this past year, never pursued social networking outlets.

I started using Plaxo some years ago, but didn’t understand the implications. I signed up with Linkedin, but again, didn’t really “get it.” Then my daughter, like millions of teens was pulled into the MySpace world with all her little buddies. I was a crusty old Dad and put on my furrowed brow and scowled about it a bit, but then decided to check it out for myself. I found that many of my professional musician and filmmaker friends were using MySpace to their benefit, and I was hooked. I had similar occurrences with FaceBook and Youtube. Slowly I began to understand the social networking concept, the rewards and the limitations. The thing that is clear is that content means everything. If you don’t have something interesting to say, people don’t listen. You can post all the videos on YouTube you want but if they are not informative, interesting, funny or curious in some sort of way to a broad base of people, its not really going to go anywhere. You can have a blog, but if it’s boring or just completely self-serving, who is going to care? So, the trick is to move forward and reach out, but have something to offer. I would encourage all to engage in social networking but to do so with purpose, and think about this:

What’s the worse that could happen?
Social networking is a free thing (and who doesn’t like that?), and if you are sitting at the house bored, unemployed or both, why not jump in? What you have to gain are connections, knowledge, friendship, business. What do you have to lose? Time? I spend 15-30 minutes a day, but sometimes get sucked into more, because I have fun with it. You could spend as little as 5 minutes a day and still gradually build a database of others who have similar interests, possible job openings, etc. What’s the worse that could happen? You could spend a little time that was otherwise spent in front of the TV and get nothing out of it that interested you. Really, that can’t happen, if you do it right. Or, you could post something that annoys or angers someone else to the point that they start badmouthing you all over the Internet or stalk you at your home. Again, do it right and that won’t happen, which brings me to my next point for this New Year’s missive.

Be careful, but have fun… most importantly, have fun.
Use common sense. Simple. Don’t put your home address anywhere on your websites, blogs, profiles, anywhere. I keep a business mailing address that is posted on my sites, but it’s no one’s business where I live. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, avoid personal attacks at all costs. Try to follow the age old advice “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This is sometimes hard to follow, in life, and on the Internet, but it is vital to your social networking efforts. Engaging in conversations online about things that you are passionate about is great for building your rankings in the search engines, but watch your words! If you take issue with something someone has posted in any sort of online forum, respond with fact and supportable opinion, but do not attack the person who posted it. Likewise as soon as someone engages in any personal attack against you, restate your qualified opinion and supportable facts on the subject at hand, and then let it go – disengage from the conversation. I have seen too many instances of people getting involved in a “tit-for-tat” argument online that quickly dissolves into juvenile name-calling antics, resulting in all involved parties looking like fools. Remember, the Internet is full of kooks, but plenty of sensible people too. Sometimes its hard to tell who the kooks are at first, but watch what people write about on a regular basis, and soon the kooks’ creepy true colors come through – once you’ve figured out someone is a blathering idiot, leave it alone, don’t waste your time arguing with cretins! (Hey I used the word cretin in a sentence! hahaha).

What about the fun?
Look at it as a game, or a roomful of games. Social networking is a big casino, with lots of rooms with games of chance and the perfect place to people-watch! When I go to Vegas, that’s what I love to do; play some games, watch the parade of life. It’s the same with social networking, but the admission is free, you can stay as long as you can stand it, and all you are risking is time (and personal integrity, see points made above). Every group you join is another craps, blackjack or poker table and you are risking your time trying to win more business, more friends, more information, whatever. Sometimes you join a group (game) that doesn’t fit you – you don’t get along with the people around you, you don’t like the dealer, you think the game is rigged, or whatever – So what? It’s a big casino; have a drink and move to another table, for goodness sakes. Don’t sit there arguing with the idiot insurance guy from Idaho sitting next to you, when there is a table full of more intriguing folks just across the room. Mingle, get to know lots of people, play some games, have fun.
Also, know when to step away. Sometimes you do need to lay out on the couch and read a good book or watch a mindless TV show. Give yourself balance. If you are engaging in social networking and it stops being fun or helpful to you, step away. Forget about it awhile. Don’t get so wrapped in it that it becomes “work”.
Learn to improvise, in life in general. My friend Les McGehee has written an excellent book on the subject titled “Plays Well With Others” which I highly recommend.

Pick and choose
You don’t have to join every networking service that people invite you to. For our purposes, we have different profiles for music and for filmmaking on MySpace, a FaceBook account, a Linkedin Profile, and YouTube profiles. These make sense for my interests and business development. Often, I just copy and paste same information on all profiles, because there are different people connecting to me from a variety of sources. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend extra time creating variations of posts for different outlets. I get plenty of offers to connect in other places, but I have chosen these to actively participate in. Choose networking sites that make sense for you and your business, but limit them in a way that makes it easy for you to keep up with. Also, don’t feel like you have to accept every “add a friend” that you receive. If you don’t know the person requesting connection, look at their profile, see if they may be an interesting connection for you. If not, just politely decline, it’s really no big deal. There’s no harm, no foul in saying no thanks.

Family First
Just like you would be the clod of the month for sitting in the casino drinking and gambling while your wife and kids or parents and grandparents were needing you, don’t bury yourself in the social networking thing at the expense of your family. The real people in your life are the ones you know you could call anytime, anywhere and they would help you. Make sure those people know you are there for them, above all else, because a game is just a game, and family is life.

Those are my thoughts moving forward into the new year. You can peruse our business websites and all of our chosen online connections at TraceTV.tv
Wishing you a joyous and prosperous new year!

Sometimes you just need to chill

Sometimes you just need to chill