Hey guys, today’s post is a combination article + video update. They both have the same overall message, so take your pick. It’s mostly an inside message about how things work over here, but if you have your own following, you might learn something.
Here’s the video, live from the zona colonial in downtown Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:
And Here’s the Written Message
Whenever a community experiences rapid growth, some people feel left out. New people come in and don’t know the history. Meanwhile, the people who have been around for a while worry that they have been forgotten in all the excitement.
A good leader needs to be able to reach out to new people, expand the pie, while also “keeping it real” as much as possible.
This is my attempt to do so, live on location from the Dominican Republic. Specifically, here are a few important points:
Scaling Kindness and Coolness
I believe that kindness and coolness are scalable. I might miss a few things, and growth can be challenging when I’m not continually online. But I’m trying hard to keep it real.
Last week I was in Haiti. I stayed in a missionary guesthouse with no running water, limited electricity, and shared rooms. Breakfast and mosquitoes were included at no extra charge. I’m not complaining – it was good for me. As I said, if you ever find yourself in need of a reality check, go and hang out with missionaries, nuns, and aid workers.
During one of the few times I was able to get online, I saw that someone was asking, “Is Chris Guillebeau turning into a broadcaster? He’s not interacting with his followers anymore.”
My thought was, dude, I’m doing my best. It’s kind of difficult to interact online when I can’t even take a shower. Wi-fi is ubiquious in some parts of the world, but not in Haiti or rural South America.
When things started getting crazy before the trip, I actually thought about staying home to deal with all the email. I probably could have processed things quicker, added more people on Twitter, sold more products, whatever.
But then I realized, hey, this is my regular life. In 279 Days I wrote about how you need to provide a good reason why other people should care about what you’re doing.
Part of the reason why people care about this is because I’m actually out there in the world doing crazy stuff. Also, I keep the schedule no matter what’s happening. Right now we are 59 weeks into the project, and I’ve never missed a scheduled update.
If it doesn’t slow down, I have to find a way to work with it. You’re reading in real-time – airport camping, big successes, mistakes, and all. I might not always be online, but I’ll do my best to keep it real.
Twitter and How I Use It
Other than the occasional update on LinkedIn, Twitter is the only social network I actively participate in. I try to add value, pass on other great stuff, engage in conversation. My goal is to promote great resources and other people’s stuff at no benefit to me at least twice as much as I promote my own stuff.
I enjoy learning from all kinds of people, but at this point I don’t automatically follow people back. If I have 200 people a day adding me in, it is very difficult to sort through all of them while I’m roaming from place to place. Instead, I follow people I want to follow without expecting they will follow me back.
Here in the D.R. I just went through and added 300 people to my network, and I’ll continue to do that from time to time. If I haven’t gotten to you yet, we can still interact, and I read every message that has my name in it.
Not there yet? Come on over and hang out. It’s fun.
I’m pretty open-minded, but a blog is not a democracy. The publisher of a blog has the responsibility to police all of the content. If you read some popular blogs, you probably know that it can be a jungle out there with people saying anything they want and verbally attacking other people. That’s not going to happen here.
My comment policy is pretty basic – don’t use the comments to blatantly promote yourself, and don’t be an asshole. Disagreeing is fine, but don’t just tell me why I’m wrong – tell me what you think the alternative is.
A couple of weeks ago I was rude to a Citibank representative on the phone, and I felt bad all afternoon. To avoid feeling bad (and making me feel bad), think twice before you post a personal attack on me, someone mentioned in the article, or another commentor. I’m probably not going to publish vindictive comments, and if you just want to feel better, go and hit a tree or something. Then ask yourself, “What’s the alternative? Am I really adding value?”
I know this does not apply to the 99% of the commentors who are cool people, and the 1% who enjoy living in their insanity probably won’t read this, but it’s good to have it out there.
ALSO – every day my volunteer editor and I delete at least a dozen comments that are self-promotions disguised as article feedback. They usually look like this:
Hey Chris! Great site. I really enjoy (blah, blah, blah). Listen, I wanted to ask if you’ve ever considered (product or service). My company makes this and we think it’s fantastic. You can read more about it at this link: http://
Oh, and I wrote a great blog post about it, which you can read here: http://
Hope to hear from you soon!
If you want to pitch me on something, that’s fine – but use the contact form. Otherwise, put your link in the field that says “web site” (not the comment box) and write something meaningful. Every day hundreds of people read through the comments and click links they are interested in, but the way to get noticed is by contributing to the conversation, not by blatantly promoting yourself.
My Secret Trust Fund
When rapid growth takes place – especially when it comes from mainstream media coverage – I’ve noticed that some new people make assumptions without really doing much research. After reading a profile in the New York Times, for example, one guy wrote in to ask, “How big is your trust fund?”
As everyone who actually reads the site knows, I have no trust fund or secret pension. Whenever someone accuses me of keeping money under the mattress, I always think about calling up my dad:
“Hey Dad… what’s this about a trust fund? How come you’ve never said anything?!”
I don’t think my dad has something he’s been keeping from me for 31 years. What you see is what you get.
For better or worse, what I do is 100% legit. I do fly First Class (sometimes) and I do sleep on the floor of the airport and in random guesthouses in poor countries. It’s all part of the adventure.
Sometimes I’ll fall behind with some things — like when I can’t take a real shower or am riding in buses for 13 hours through South America. But whether I’m online or not at any particular moment, you all are welcome to be a part of this in whichever way you want.
10,000 People I Highly Respect (very important!)
Lastly, about my list of 26 People I Highly Respect – that was just the list of blog and social media mentors who have helped me get to where I am now. They are truly awesome and I wanted to publicly acknowledge them.
For everyone else, I highly respect your time and attention too. I’m grateful to have connected with many of you (probably about half of the entire group) over the past year.
You rock my world, you are an extremely motivational force that helps me keep going, and together we have a long way to go. Thanks so much for being a part of this.
Keeping it real from the D.R.,
P.S. Those of you with small armies of your own, remember that it’s important to continually touch base to let people know what’s happening. Find your own way, use your own voice, but the goal is to acknowledge your shortcomings, make people feel welcome and valued, and encourage the community to be a part of something greater than themselves.
As I see it, that’s keeping it real. Feel free to add your own perspective in the comments as well.
‘Keeping It Real’ Image by LonelyRadio