On the Virtue of Making Smart

chinese_slip_barge_gray_water_stillnessJust reviewing some saved blog posts from, in online terms, long ago (oh, dear, a little over a year!) and re-found this gem from September of 2013.

Jon Morrow wrote a rather in-your-face and very direct analysis of How to Be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers. Smartness and dumb-ness are often in the eye of the beholder, and although Jon makes some summary judgments, he does not get closed-minded or condescending in inspiring us to “get smarter” and be better writers as a result.

Although the site puts a premium on ads for marketing one’s writing, Jon actually writes about the importance of being, well, you, and not necessarily being smart like other people, but in your own style.

I personally think that being an engaging writer means finding your own passionate interest to give voice to. Made all the difference in the world when I was taking a public speaking class many, many years ago. Topic I didn’t care much about = boring speech. Topic I loved = riveting speech. That simple, really.

As for Jon’s take, he has three cool points of advice (I’d take the first two with a grain of salt, but he has good points about them), but the last one is best. Don’t forget to pause to think, to be in reverie even. It’s just as important as the “doing” phase. Definitely. And that can mean stepping away from the screen to look out the window or even close those ever vigilant visual aids, the eyes, to give your mind a chance to breathe deeply (and come up with something amazing!)

Check out Jon’s article here, then, and go make yourself smart. :)

A Circle, and the Magic of Math

guy_with_lightbulb_geniusMy husband, Matt, he has this genius (similar to a genie), that he consults from time to time to perform his Magic Matt duties (from beautifully remodeled cabinet work to romantic piano improvisations and totally tasty vegetables from the garden).

The genius ranges far and wide in terms of subject matter, and this morning’s topic turned out to be the magic of math as the underlying structure of the universe, which led to a short expound-ment on the glories of pi (you know, the unending number that defines circles, at least as far as we can define that cosmic curve), the ubiquity of the curve in the structure of everything, and the infinitude of smallness in subatomic particles.12-subatomic-particles-abstract-mehau-kulyk

And of course, with my interest in astrophysics in general and cosmology (about the structure of the very large) in particular, a mirror appeared in my head, showing the parallel shapes (spheres! circles! ellipses! curves!) out among the stars.

Mini-galaxies (atomic structures) and maxi-galaxies (star groupings). Hmmm. We are not just star stuff, we are star structure, star curves, from our tiniest atoms and subatomic particles in our bodies.

Even matter’s counterpart, energy, moves in curves because space itself is curved. So-called “straight lines” are just really long curves that we can only see a segment of.

ringam2_hstThe universe is curves, circles, ellipses, and spheres. From the very small to the very large. And the math that measures these curves includes a number that can never be expressed exactly, pi, with its infinitely non-repeating post-decimal-point sequence. So, the universe is not something we can measure exactly.

Wonder what would happen if we did get to that level of accuracy in measuring the curves in the universe. I wonder if there’s something magical in the space that we haven’t measured yet, something amazing.

This universe: perfect, yet imperfect, just like us.

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For more on the “magic” of PI and speculations thereon in story form, try watching or reading Contact by Carl Sagan. I put a link in to the DVD at Amazon, but if you have a movie service that has Contact, you can watch it there, also (Netflix–not streaming, though, looks like; iTunes, etc.).

The Energy Gift

Camelopardalis red giant star blowing off gasThe energy gift is in the cycle, from matter to energy and back again. And also from the fact that energy moves, it acts.

We all feel ourselves spending energy throughout the day, to support others, to support ourselves. Remember the cycle, though, for to give is to receive, but you have to be…willing. A hug is a gift, for example, but it goes both ways. Think of how your other energy gifts actually reciprocate, even if you don’t see it right away (paying forward with that smile at the convenience store—what ripples of energy might occur and then come back to you?).

A star exchanges energy for stability to burn, then exchanges energy for the power to create elements (gold and silver, even, if it’s a big star). Loss is gain, gain is loss, loss is gain, there is no loss, in the end (because there is no end—to the exchange).

Breathing gives, and receives. Breathe, live. Remember to receive as well as give, and you will always be full. :)

For more on this energetic topic, see also my friend Jean Hamilton-Fford’s article on Energy Awareness and Management, here.

Blessings!

To Know, Like, and Trust

clothing_store_salesI went on a rare for me trip to “the mall” to buy new clothes for my first business trip since 2007 (ah, the joys of the freelance life working from home!). Dreaded the great search for something that would work and not break the bank. I did find a little dress and some shoes eventually, but the very best part about the whole experience was…the human connection. No, not just people watching in the mall, but the helpfulness of the sales staff in the stores. I don’t know if the Apple Store’s aura has spread, or if retail corporations have rediscovered their ethic of customer service (and maybe commission-based sales), but I really noticed an uptick in the quality of sales service in both large department stores (Dillard’s in my case) and smaller boutique outlets (Express and The Limited). I felt connected and taken care of in both types of places. Makes me want to do more of my shopping in the real world rather than online, actually. Which brings me to the title of this post.

I’ve been reading marketing philosophy material for some time now, and although I’m getting tired of the “3 things/5 things/10 things” bit with some of the posts I’ve been reading, one theme seems to come through as most common-sensical to me: People do business with other people they know, like, and trust (which is what the folks in the mall stores were fostering so well).

Also, folks tend to be looking not so much for “stuff” but for experiences that they think they need that “stuff” in order to have (like my cheerful one with retail the other week). Steve Jobs of Apple Computer understood the human desire for a certain kind of experience, usually involving the excitement of the new, the potential for making processes faster and easier, the aesthetics of visual experience, and the nice feeling of making connections. I got all of these needs fulfilled by the sales folks at the mall. The quality and fit of the clothes counted also, but the shopping experience turned out to be more important to me.

handshake_simple

Stay curious about your customers and prospects (without being nosy), and the liking and trusting bit will follow pretty easily. That’s been my experience with my own businesses. Most of my best reviews (like on my editorial biz site here) are about the relationship with the client. I’d say customer services makes up at least 40 percent of what gives satisfaction and creates referrals.

So, do your customers know, like, and trust you? And how do you go about getting to know them, please them, and build trust? Take a look at your website this coming week, and ask yourself those questions in terms of how you present yourself and your products and/or services. And let me know what you find and what you think you’ll change, as a result.

Blog Post Picks of the Week

Lynn Serafinn, at 7 Graces of Marketing gives her philosophy on building an integral business that will generate trust. Check it out.

Paul and Jon over at Change Agents branding have a really wondrous attitude about marketing in general, and their take on trust is here.

Life’s Tenacity

1024px-Panda_Cub_from_Wolong,_Sichuan,_ChinaBeen watching a series of BBC nature shows over at Hulu.com (HuluPlus subscription required—and worth it). Also had a great time with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos series over the last three months. And yes, there’s a relationship. :)

Life is the relationship. Whether it’s known life here on planet Earth, or speculated life on, say, Jupiter’s moon Europa, life is extremely tenacious. It’s amazing to me that even when the environment seems quite hostile (volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean or high deserts in South America), some form of life seems to inevitably figure out a way to survive.

europa_moon_jupiter

Europa

People worry about the fragility of life, usually when they are talking about individual species that seem to be threatened by human activity, and an individual species (not to mention individuals within a species) can be very fragile indeed. But life as a whole is probably the most persistent self-replicating form of matter in the universe. In the Cosmos series, Tyson talked about several mass extinctions on the Earth, and one of them knocked out about 90 percent or maybe more of all species (not an asteroid hit, that one, but volcanism). And yet, and yet, each loss created opportunities for new life forms to develop.

This truth does not mean that I think we should disregard the plight of pandas or spotted owls or not care about the balance of wildlife and human life on Earth, but just think about the possibilities if life is so tenacious. Chances are good, then that some form of carbon-based life exists outside of Earth, in the oceans of Europa, or even in the thick methane atmosphere of Saturn’s moon, Titan. And those are just two examples from our solar system. Who knows what life forms exist beyond that?

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that life doesn’t have a particular attachment to any specific form, so if we humans want to continue on into future generations and also have access to both the utility and beauty created by the other life forms around us now, we will have to take the actions necessary to support the environment that supports us.

As always, our world is entirely up to us.