In defense of busy

One of the popular memes these days in business press and media is to say how out of vogue “busy” is. You’re not supposed to be busy. It’s not fashionable to say you’re busy. Busy means you planned ahead poorly. Busy means that you’re inefficient, ineffective, or outright unintelligent. Busy means you make poor choices.

Well, the contrarian view I offer is this: busy is part of reality. Try telling a retailer that busy is bad in the run up to the holidays. If you’re very lucky, you’ll be shown the door without a swift boot in the ass to accompany it. Try telling a police officer at a protest that he’s not supposed to be busy, that he should be pacing himself better, that he shouldn’t just react to every little thing. Try telling a CEO of a company whose stock is down 54% that things are actually okay, they just need to prioritize and be more efficient.

Thunderstorm

Busy is part of reality in the same way that storms and bad weather are a part of reality. It doesn’t storm all the time, but when it does storm, you’d better be ready to deal with it. Now, if it’s storming all the time, that might indeed be a sign that there’s a problem in the environment you work in, but even then, it might be natural for the industry you work in. If you live on or near Mount Waialeale in Hawaii, it rains between 330 and 360 days a year. That’s natural and normal for there.

Yes, it’s okay to be busy. Yes, it’s okay to have fires you need to put out, or chainsaws to juggle, because human beings are a part of nature as well, and that means tides of business ebb and flow. There will be times when you are flat out, all out busy. There are times when you’re going to clock that 12, 14, 16, or 18 hour day. That isn’t a sign that you have failed unless it’s the majority of your time and you don’t want it to be that way. If it’s that way by choice, then carry on.

What matters most about busy isn’t that your business or your work life will get busy, but your reaction to it. The folks I know who are most successful in life simply get down to business, in the same way that the folks who weather storms well accept that the storms will come and batten down the hatches.

Plan ahead, definitely. Be as efficient and as effective as you can be. But if life sends you storms, don’t give into the pop culture meme of believing you’re somehow a failure because you’re busy. You’re weathering the storm, just like the rest of us.


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The mobile video rig, 2014 edition

Electronics continue to get smaller and more portable every year. Recently, a few folks have asked what the video gear of choice is these days, especially for road warriors. Here’s my current gearing strategy – and bear in mind, this is subject to change, too!

First, this is what all of the gear looks like, arranged on a desk – you can see how easily it will fit in a backpack or bag.

IMG_1540

This is what it looks like, set up:

IMG_1542

Gear

Camera

Most smartphones these days take good enough video. Your iPhone 5s/6/6+ or Galaxy/HTC/Nexus will do the trick in normal or good lighting. What makes or breaks video with a smartphone is stability. You don’t get stability from holding the phone in your hand.

Stability

Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

For conferences, nothing beats a small table-top tripod. I use the Ultrapod; I’ve broken way too many Gorillapod tripods in my time to ever recommend one again. The Ultrapod is good enough, and has a velcro strap so you can always bind it to a pole or chair or something.

Norazza Monopod-lightweight TD140

For moving around, the Norazza TD140 monopod is my choice. Folded up, it’s a 14-inch monopod, which means it fits inside a roller bag with ease, and even in some backpacks. Most other monopods fold to 22 inches or 24 inches, which is a problem.

Professional Mini Ball Head Camera Mount

Almost every monopod will need a ball head if you don’t want to risk damaging the top eventually. A good ball head will also let you walk around with the monopod dangling loosely below it, which in turn allows the weight of the monopod to act as a stabilizer.

Square Jellyfish Smartphone Spring Tripod Mount for Smart Phones 2-1/4 - 3-5/8' Wide (Stand not Included)

For mounting your phone on these units, use a spring clamp. I like the Square Jellyfish, but nearly any will do as long as it doesn’t damage the case of your phone.

Audio

Ampridge MightyMic S iPhone Shotgun Video Microphone MMS

Because we’re using the smartphone as the recorder, you can use any mic accessories that are phone-compatible. I like this little shotgun mic from Ampridge that delivers decent sound, especially for interviews, and plugs right into the phone’s audio jack. Bonus: it’s super lightweight, so you can get decent audio without 20 pounds of mice and cables.

Power

AP® 15600mAh Power Bank Charger Universal External Powered Backup Porable Battery Pack Backup Travel Cell Phone Charger for Mobile Phone, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, LG, BlackBerry, iPod,MP3,MP4,PSP,PDA

This right here is the bane of smartphone video: running out of battery power. Video consumes an inordinate amount of battery, so having an external battery pack is essential – and ideally more than one. A big power bank will let you record all day and only need to sync with a laptop when you have to offload data, not because you run out of juice.

Software

I’m on a Mac, so I use iMovie.

Adobe Creative Cloud

If you’re looking for something a little more robust, you can rent Adobe Creative Cloud for $50/month and get Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition to bring some heavier horsepower to your video work.

Process

Great video requires great audio. Use the gear above along with the leveling process I described in this post on how to get iMovie and Levitator to work together. If you’re using Adobe’s suite, you can do the same by roundtripping the audio from Premiere Pro to Audition and back.

Output

Here’s a video I shot with this exact setup at the MarketingProfs B2B forum:

This is the Tufts Beelzebubs at the conference opener, shot from tabletop.

I hope this helps aspiring videographer road warriors streamline some of the gear you’re carrying while not sacrificing a great deal in the quality department! Unsurprisingly, all of the products mentioned here are Amazon affiliate links.


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Entering a new international market

Transfluent asked on Twitter:

This is an interesting question, especially from a digital marketing perspective. The first and most logical choice is: go wherever the business is. To do this, you’d want to invest some time in audience research, to find out where the business actually is. One of the better tools for the job is Facebook, believe it or not.

Using Facebook’s Audience Insights, look at the broad category of your industry, or look at a major competitor that already has an international presence. Let’s use an example of people who are interested in translation or people who are interested in the Rosetta Stone language software:

Audience_Insights

In this case, the first pass at audience research indicates that countries like Brazil, Italy, and Pakistan might be interested in a competing product category.

This seemingly obvious strategy has one significant potential trap: cultures vary!

By cultures vary, I mean to say that just because a market is large, doesn’t mean you have the ability to operate effectively in it. In the example above, Brazil may be the largest potential market, but doing business in Brazil requires significant investment in people, because the Brazilian culture requires that you work with someone who can help you navigate the environment, language, and people.

This is largely true even of countries that share your language. For example, just because the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia all share a generally understandable version of the same language as the United States does not mean that United States companies can copy and paste their marketing to those other nations.

So how do you make the determination for where you should go next? Think about which of these nations I could effectively operate in as a business. For example, despite the traffic, the United Kingdom might not be my first choice solely because of the time and significant cultural difference. I might instead look to my neighbor to the North, Canada. I can drive there, parts of it are in the same time zone as I am, and there’s enough cultural overlap that my marketing might work out of the box in the short term while I look to bring on local talent in the long term.

To wrap up, do your audience research, and then make the determination about where you can operate most effectively. Remember that these percentage numbers mask the true scale of the nations they represent. “Only” 6% of Facebook users may be interested in translation software that live in Italy, but 6% of 60 million people is still 3.6 million human beings. That’s a healthy potential market to start making inroads into.


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