RFS Blog | by Karl W. Palachuk – Relax Focus Succeed. Learn more at www.relaxfocussucceed.com

CAT | Community



Hang Out with Promiscuous Sneezers

My favorite Meetup every month is the Sacramento Speakers Meetup (See https://www.meetup.com/sacramentospeakersnetwork/). It’s a Meetup with more than 2,500 members, of whom 35-75 show up at any given meeting.


There are many reasons for this. First, I’ve been going to this Meetup for more than ten years, so I know lots of people

Second, the format is absolutely amazing. I’m not sure how my friend Stephanie Chandler (see http://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/) came up with the format, but it’s truly genius. It starts with 30-second introductions. People are encouraged to promote their businesses, so they can encourage networking later.

Do the math. At 30 seconds per person, you actually use up maybe 35 or 40 seconds on average. So this part of the program takes about half an hour. Someone always tells a joke. People laugh. Someone else just started a business an gets a round of applause. Someone says something funny unintentionally and ever fourth person after that refers to it.

In other words, the group begins to develop rapport and comradery right from the start.

Next, there are short presentations by speakers who have signed up. One is ten minutes and the other is twenty. Each gets some feedback and coaching.

Finally, there’s the “Five minutes in the spotlight.” A card is picked from the bucket and an attendee gets to ask the rest of the group for help. For example:

  • How do I get attendees to my event?
  • What should I call the three levels of this program?
  • How do I get started with video to promote my event?
  • How do I get bookings with schools?
  • How do I attract more joint ventures?

This is the juicy fun part of the meeting. Even though there are usually only two or three opportunities for the “Five minutes in the spotlight,” this is where the entire crowd throws out recommendations, book titles, web resources, apps, and other resources. The goal is to help the person who asked for help. But in the meantime, everyone in the room is feverishly writing down the books and other resources that are mentioned.


If you haven’t read Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin, you should!

Godin talks about how ideas spread like viruses. And certain people are “Promiscuous Sneezers” of ideas. In other words, they are people who casually say things like, “If you haven’t read this book, you should. It’s amazing.” And they do this a lot. All the time.


You should hang out with Promiscuous Sneezers for one simple reason: They will help you filter the world of overwhelming information. Promiscuous Sneezers are usually mavens with regard to the topics at which they excel. That means they’re well informed and spend both time and energy getting good at it. So when they casually throw you some advice, it’s probably worth taking!

I miss a lot of meetings of the Sacramento Speakers Network due to travel. But I always make it when I’m in town because it’s a room filled with really smart, motivated, Promiscuous Sneezers.

I hope you have a similar group where you live. If not, start one!



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There’s a great British mystery series from the 1990s called A Touch of Frost, starring David Jason. As with many of these shows, Inspector Frost is a little odd. He doesn’t quite fit in with what everyone else wants him to be. And, of course, that’s part of his success.

Inspector FrostOne of my favorite lines from the series comes in an interaction with a younger detective. The youger detective loses his temper and apologizes for being “out of order.”

“That’s all right.” says Inspector Frost, “I’ll tell you one little trick, though. Out of order is no good to anyone. Out of step is much better. That way you tread on the bits the other people miss.”

I love the idea that being “Out of Step” is a good thing. After all, we each have our own weirdness that makes us unique from all the other people in the world. And as Frost says, when you’re out of step you see things other people don’t see. Not only do you have permission to BE different, you have the ability to SEE differently.

My brother Manuel likes to say that everybody is somebody’s weirdo. No matter how “normal” you think you are, you still have unique differences that make you special. And someone’s going to see your different-ness as strange or odd. That’s okay. We all live both sides of that equation every day.

Maybe life’s a little more fun once we accept our different-ness.

As social beings, we have a tendency to want to fit in. By definition, that means tamping down part of our uniqueness. Fully expressing your uniqueness can be scary. But at the same time, we all look for people in our lives who are just different enough from the masses that they’ll be fun to be around.

Consider adding this to your search for balance: How can I enjoy more of the authentic “me” that’s out of step with the rest of the world?

Remember: the more authentically you act, the lower your stress because you don’t have to put on a mask for other people. Building that authentic uniqueness into the roles you play (parent, friend, lover, boss, employee, etc.) will help you enjoy more of the life you’re building for yourself.



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Relying on Other People

I recently had a nice two hour drive after one of my appearances. And as I was driving home, I started thinking about how much my success relies on other people. And this is not a simple thing, either.

We all rely on others in many, many ways.

Of course I rely on “clients” to attend an event, subscribe to services, and buy books. That’s the most obvious way I rely on other people. But there are also many other ways.

I rely on my sales guy to help me get jobs, sell advertising, and find sponsors. I rely on friends and connections all over the world to help me find good venues and to get attendees.

I rely on my staff to keep the office running, process orders, ship books, update web sites, and much more. I rely on my business friends and mastermind group members to keep my brain engaged in new ideas.

And of course I rely on my friends to make me laugh, balance my life, and to keep things in perspective.

Now, any one of these people might not see how much I rely on them. But I hope that they all, as a group, know that I would be not be able to achieve much at all without this great support system. Individually, most of them are my friends. As a group they are my support system.

Around January first I wrote some notes to people who had a significant impact on my personal and professional growth in the last year. I am truly blessed to have a such a collection of people in my life.

Through a series of personal, financial, and business challenges, I have relied on other people to keep me engage, keep me pointed in the right direction, and keep my chin up. Through all the crap I’ve gone through in the last few years, this support system has made me feel that the “final analysis” is a very positive one.

If I had been alone during this period, I might have a very different view of the outcome. But my support system has made me realize how blessed I am.

Whether you realize it or not, you rely on a number of people in every part of your life. Pick them well, treat them well, and make sure they know you appreciate them!


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Turnabout is Fair Play

I live in a little court. That’s what they call a dead end built after 1990.

We have seven neighbors on the court. We moved into the court in 2003. All of our neighbors have lived here longer than us. That’s pretty amazing considering the house buying/selling frenzy that preceded the housing crash.

Anyway, as is common in newer home developments, I have a little patch of lawn on the right side of my house and a little patch of lawn on the left side of the house. Same with all my neighbors. Because the court goes in a circle, it doesn’t matter how big your back yard is: The front yards are pretty small.

So when I mow my front lawn, I go ahead and mow the patches of my neighbors left and right. It takes an extra five minutes, even with a reel mower. Over the years we’ve all developed this habit. It takes very little effort; we never talk about it; but everyone does it.

And every once in awhile it comes back to me how delightful it is to have good neighbors.

Yesterday I spent most of my time in the back yard. In fact, I only went out in the front yard after dark to help my daughter put some things in her car.

So today I went outside to go for my morning walk and found a wonderful present: My entire front yard was newly mown and all the leaves picked up! Apparently, yesterday, both of my neighbors took care of their yards. And tuned up mine as well.

I was struck with how nice it is to live in a community. Sometimes, especially at this time of year, we find ourselves going from one crowd to another. Crowds at the game. Crowds at the restaurant. Crowds at the store.

But a crowd isn’t much of a community. Communities develop from interactions between individuals. A little give and take. A little giving without taking. And sometimes a surprise when you’re on the receiving end of simple generosity.

So on this bright Fall day as Winter approaches, I am thankful for my neighbors and our little community.


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A Tribute to Online Communities

One of the really great things about the internet is its ability to build communities. You might call them “virtual” communities, but that implies that they’re not real.

Internet-based communities are very real.

I know from my own experience that people can come together in a series of online communities and have those communities spill over into “real, live” get-togethers. I’ve seen it on the arthritis new groups, the technology groups, and in my own seminars.

This happens in part because people are self-interested (they join a group to pursue an interest, gain knowledge, etc.), but also essentially social beings. After all, we all want to “hang out” with people who share our interests. Whether it’s at a BBQ or an online group, we gravitate toward people like us.

Now let me tell you about a spectacular example of building a real community online.

There is no better analogy for a community than building something with fiber. [Disclaimer: Here’s what I know about knitting. It involves sticks and colored string and is best accomplished in groups.]

When we build communities, we tie strings from point to point to point and create a web. Interlinking online points create an obvious web. When we extend that to “real world” activities and events, the web expands even more. And the connections grow stronger.

Over at http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com, Franklin holds court. His blog is about . . . everything. His schtick is that he writes about knitting. And about his imaginary friends, the sheep and the ball of yarn. It’s all very entertaining.

So Franklin has quite a following. Google “imaginary sheep knitting” you will find The Panopticon.

Anyway, Franklin recently had a real-life adventure because of his work in building a community online.

Frank is writing a book. He’s a photographer and has a project to photograph 1,000 knitters. Of course he blogs about the project and has held several sessions to get knitters together so he can snap photos.

My wife knits, and she belongs to some knitting groups. So, two of the members of the local knitters’ guild invite Franklin to come to Sacramento (from Chicago) for the weekend. They advertise that he’s coming, and set up an opportunity for knitters to come by and get their picture taken for the book.

The event was a huge success. People actually bussed in from three hours away to participate. Why?

Because, on one hand, Franklin has been building a community. He gets lots of interactive feedback from his blog. Or perhaps the comments are just a lot of I-Love-It snippets. Either way, readers dig in and love it. And participate.

His report is at http://the-panopticon.blogspot.com/2007/11/there-and-back-again.html. (The role of the charming husband was played by yours truly. And my wife is a wonder to behold.)

On the other hand, Franklin participates in the broader online community. Instead of simply posting stuff and going away, he communicates with people and interacts with the community.

The combination of building a community and participating in a larger community results in a community that cannot be contained online. Eventually it must overflow into the physical world. And so Franklin has the 1,000 knitters project. And he gets invited to fly across country for three days of activities. And people travel hundreds of miles to meet him.

Outside of all the other things people have going in their lives, they carved out time for this. Why? Because it’s fun. And they get to meet up with lots of people who have similar interests.

And because the online world IS the real world.

Here’s the best thing about this event: The entire online knitting community is a little stronger because of all the connections made that weekend. The Guild is stronger because members from across California got to meet each other. Social gatherings and online posts pumped up the event. The reports were all positive. Other groups will want to do this.

Over on my technical blog I’ve been trying to help build communities for years. It can be a lot harder than it looks. So even if this isn’t my community, I appreciate the effort it takes to make it happen.

So here’s a tip of the hat to Franklin (and Beth and Cindi) for building the community web and making it a little stronger.

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