Shhh…..My Secret List

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“Steve, how do you know all the stuff that you know?? It’s amazing!” I hear this all the time, and of course I am flattered when I hear that. Well, I have a little secret…. shhhh… don’t tell anyone.

I’m not that smart.

I just know where to go to learn from people alot smarter than me. I guess it is sort of like the secret to being a good leader… surround yourself with people smarter than you and point them in the right direction. I just know where to go.

So I wanted to share with you my super-secret list of things that I do to learn what I know. Follow my lead and you can as smart as me. Wait a minute, who am I kidding? You’ll be way smarter than me. Here you go:

1. Google Reader – I rely on this daily to make sure that I don’t miss anything. I subscribe to all the movers and shakers in technology and social media, and I also have my Google Alerts pulled into Google Reader. Who do I follow? In the world of technology and social media I follow Mari Smith, Jay Baer, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Gary VaynerchukEngadget, Wired, Social Media Examiner, Mashable, ZDNet, and Computerworld.  You need to follow those individuals and organizations that are movers and shakers in what you do.

2. Facebook – I pay attention to the companies and individuals that I have ‘liked’ and watch for articles and status updates that they post. This includes some of the same folks that I follow with Google Reader so I do sometimes see overlapping content, but many of these folks follow best practices in social media which means they post different types of content to different networks. And while I am on the subject, ‘like’ my page here:

3. Google+ – It’s fairly new, so most of you probably aren’t on it yet. But you should be. The SEO benefits of using Google+ is another whole conversation in itself, but you need to know that the forward-thinkers and pushing-the-envelopers are on there. You need to be there if nothing else than to see what people are talking about. The key is making sure that you follow the right people so that you learn something new every time you go into Google+. Read this article by Jay Baer (find #6 on the list) and follow his advice. Look at other people’s circles and circle the people that they circle. My profile and folks I have circled can be found here: (Don’t forget to circle me!)

4. Books – I know, I know… who has time to read? But reading is good for the soul. And good for your brain. Commit yourself to read 1 book a month. That is doable. You can read 2 chapters a night and get through a book a month even if you skip some nights. So pick some books that have something to do with what you do and read them. You’ll know more than others because not many people read, and you’ll feel smarter than other people too. What do I recommend to read? Start with these 3: Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan. Engage, by Brian Solis. The Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Just start with those and they will lead to others.  Prepare to mark the pages up and be changed forever.

5. eNewsletters – I am not one of those folks who hates email.  I love it.  I especially love having content delivered to me so I don’t have to go get it. So subscribe to free newsletters from people and organizations that have something to do with what you do.  Just about all those folks that I mentioned in #1 above have free newsletters that talk about really cool stuff. Subscribe to them and read them when you get them and don’t delete them until you do. You just might learn something.  Oh, and of course don’t forget to subscribe to mine:

6.  Twitter – I happen to think that one of the greatest business tools ever invented for making a connection with customers is Twitter. I regularly tell people that if I had to give up Facebook or Twitter, Facebook would be history.  I love Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t afford to do without Twitter. Just like Google+, the key to Twitter working for you is to follow the right people.  People and organizations who know more than you do. Go to my Twitter page and follow all the folks that I follow.  Then use whatever tool you want to watch your Twitter feed a couple times a day. You’ll learn something new every day, I promise you.

7.  Sharing – One of the biggest opportunities you have to learn something is to share it.  Too many people just consume stuff and enjoy it, but never share it. If you follow me anywhere you will see that I share alot.  When I find something useful or interesting, I share it to my networks.  When I do that, I hear back from people who will say something like, “Thanks for sharing that Steve. Loved it. Have you see this?”  And then they will share something with me that I didn’t know. Sharing is contagious.  Try it.

8.  Commenting – Too many people also don’t comment on things that they read.  Every blog and just about every article published on the internet has a commenting function.  And it is there so that people can start conversations.  Too many people just read and never comment, and that is a shame. What happens when you comment on something is that it starts a conversation.  Sometimes it starts disagreements, and that’s ok.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.  When you comment then someone will inevitably share something new with you.  Reading the comments on blogs and articles is a wonderful way to learn something new.  So next time you read a blog, don’t just read it.  Make a comment. Start a conversation.  You’ll learn something, I promise.

So there you go.  My little secret for why I know the things that I know.  It’s not hard, certainly.  It just takes time.  How much time every day do I spend on these things?  Well, I would say an average would be about 1-2 hours a day, sometimes less.  That may seem like alot, but if you do it first thing in the morning with your cup of coffee and again at night, and maybe occasionally during lunch, then it doesn’t take much time.  Trust me when I say that it will pay off in the long run.

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