Introducing Joel D Canfield

( . . . and that’s the last time I’ll refer to myself in the third person . . . )

The invisible man breaks his silence at last.

About three years ago Sue’s virtual assistant service completed the transition to a social media support service for nonfiction authors. For the decade before that, I focused on our two other businesses: Spinhead Web Design and Someday Box Indie Publishing. For the past 3 years those businesses have been allowed to languish while I focused on my fiction writing.

I’ve always been in the background here at Chief Virtual Officer Ausoma. As we tighten our focus and create specialty packages to bring in new business (hint hint) we’ve agreed it’s time for me to get out of the shadows and speak up. You’ve probably noticed a change in the tone of the blog of late; now that we have bylines, you’ll note that there are two voices, Sue’s staid and sensible voice, and my quirky ramblings. Quirky, as in, my business title (for this week at least) is CBR—Curmudgeon in the Back Room. We’ve acted like an old married couple since long before we were an old married couple. It’s our thing, I guess.

… more … “Introducing Joel D Canfield”

Pretty, Powerful in Pink

This post is used by permission of its author, T. Scott Gross, author of “Positively Outrageous Service”

(This month’s e-ziine is a little…soft. But hang in to the end and you’ll be glad you did!)

She’s a girly girl. Pink is her favorite color. She experiments with hairstyles and thinks she has an eye for fashion. She sings in the shower and sometimes skips through the living room. She studies gymnastics as well as ju jitsu.

Did I mention she is only ten?

While I’m at it, let me remind you she is also Pops’ girl.

We’re talking about my granddaughter. I call her “The Princess” and it’s my job to teach her things that too often parents forget. So far we’ve learned how to change the AC filters, a chore that included a lesson on using ladders safely, instruction on writing the date of the change on the edge of the filter, and how to check the direction of the air flow so you get the right side out.

We’ve learned how to put a spit shine on a pair of Pops’ dress shoes. (She like the spit part! We know about fixing a leaky flapper valve on a toilet, when to use gloves and safety glasses, how to dump brush at the city landfill, and why the sky is blue and what makes the setting sun look so big.

She can set a fire in the fireplace, use the wire grinder to prepare the grill for spring painting, and can tell you how to light and frame a photograph.

Granny Buns has added fun lessons on baking sugar cookies, frosting chocolate cinnamon cake, and how to wrap a gift. The Princess has her own apron hanging in Granny Buns’ kitchen. She can tell you where to find the sugar, the vanilla extract, and she’s learning who likes what to drink with dinner and what each family member will want to go with their dessert.

Because my office is in the front of the house I usually spy The Princess and her older brother “Big Guy” before they reach the door. For some odd reason I always alert Buns by yelling, “Incoming!” When the door opens the kid with the ponytail is usually the first in.

“Is that the prettiest girl in the whole wide world?’ That’s always the question and the answer is taken for obvious. Big Guy and The Princess never know when a visit will result in a lesson in addition to a piece of the latest baked masterpiece from Granny Buns’ kitchen.

At ten when you ask the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question the answer changes with each asking. But Pops and Granny Buns know the answer and we are proud to say they are already well on their way to a lifetime career of honesty, solid work ethic, and unlimited curiosity as well as the ability to find the answers they seek.

We want our grandkids to be powerful individuals who are free to do whatever they chose and not be cowed by the opinions of others or the dimwitted spirit that comes with incompetence.

I won’t leave this earth until it has a princess who knows that she need not bend to the controlling wishes of others.

This spring there will be a new tool box lined up on top of the workbench. It will be a pink one.

Big, tall, hairy-legged boys show up at our house to raid the dessert stock and hang out with our grandson, Forrest. Skinny ten year old girls with long shiny hair and too-big front teeth come in on puffs of fresh air and mom’s perfume to dig through the refrigerator with The Princess.

Every one of them zooms in for a hug before leaving. Every one says in puberty-laced bass voices or girly girl falsetto, Thanks Pops! Thanks Granny Buns before disappearing for who knows how long.

Not all, maybe darned few of your employees have someone in their life to teach them how to tune a guitar, sing in harmony, flip an egg, or even that you take your shoes off outside if they are muddy. So when they screw up… and they will screw up… take time to discover if their behavior was negligent or simply the result of not having a Pops and Granny Buns. If that’s the case… step up to the plate, we have work to do!

What's Your Leadership Philosophy?

Good friend Jule Kucera wrote “The work and the joy of leadership is to:

• Communicate a compelling vision of where we are going and why.
• Ensure that each member of the team has the ability and the heart to do the work.
• Create an environment that supports success.
• Get out of the way, so that when the vision is accomplished each member of the team stands back, impressed with themselves and with each other, and says, “Look what we have done!”

to which I responded

I’d say almost exactly what you’ve said, Jule, but as usual, twist it around just a bit:

• Find out what each member’s abilities and heart are
• Find out where we can go with those
• Create the environments that support success for each participant
• Hover anxiously in the background like an expectant father, then give all the credit to the Mothers of Their Own Success

and added

Actually, I’m living an example of Jule’s philosophy at February Album Writing Month right now. You, too, can create this, if you follow this simple (hah!) recipe:

Burr Settles, the real honest-to-goodness leader of FAWM, had a compelling vision and attracted others to it: jump-start the song-writing process by forcing yourself to write 14 songs in the 28 days of February. (Burr does not call himself the leader of FAWM, yet every single other person on the website forums does.)

Anyone is welcome to participate, and songwriting newbies are nurtured and congratulated and taught by the 500+ active members of the tribe. This nails criteria 2 & 3 on the list.

Burr has never set any rules except the original three: all writing has to be done during February, a song is whatever you think a song is, and while the goal is to write 14 songs, you win by just trying. Any genre you like: classical, rock of all kinds, country, folk, ambient trip-hop with vicuñas; whatever trips your switches.

In six years, it’s gone from four guys to 2,292 members (587 active, meaning they’ve posted at least one song so far this year) who have written 2,081 songs in the past 10 days. Oh, most of us record demos, too—1,525 so far.

Burr’s active pursuit of this leadership philosophy has created, so far in February, two thousand eighty-one songs that didn’t exist eleven days ago, one thousand five hundred and twenty-five of which you can download and listen to right now. (Some of last year’s songs are my favorite songs in the world; Best Beloved and I listen to FAWMers like Resonance, oddbod, Phil Norman, Phil Henry and Old Lost John who really should be household names; infinitely superior to virtually anything on the radio.)

Last year we wrote a total of 5,710 songs. This year our fairly conservative goal is 10,000 songs. If we reach that, we will have written enough music in February that it would take all of February (24 hours a day) to listen to it all.

THAT is what it looks like: someone finds a group that was looking for a leader (you can’t create a group, you find them) and follows the ‘vision, tools, support without smothering’ philosophy, and the pent up energy in the tribe explodes into activity.

That’s my plan, anyway.