Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Web Secret #247: A daring adventure

Clinicians and coaches often ask me for advice on how to create compelling web content and design an effective website.

So what would the perfect private practice website look like?

Easy, it would be called "A Daring Adventure - Life coaching with Tim Brownson."

There are so many different elements that Tim got just right:

1. Let's start with his website name. Who doesn't want to think about their life as a daring adventure? How instantly destigmatizing about the coaching process? You're not getting help, you're going on a daring adventure! Fantastic!

2. Look at Tim's photo. It's a professional photo. Well lit, in focus. He is sharply dressed yet manages to look approachable.

3. Right there on the home page he explains what he can do for his clients: "What You Can Expect To Achieve By Hiring Me As Your Life Coach." And right next to that, he has an action oriented link so that you can e-mail him "Contact Me to Get Started Now."

4. Below his mission statement, in the center and still on the home page, he posts two rocking testimonials with links to more of the same. "I don't have any other Life Coaches to compare Tim with but after 60 plus years on this planet my bullshit detector works exceptionally well and Tim passes every possible test...."

5. If you are published, and Tim is, toot your own horn: "Co-Author of the International Bestselling Book 'How to be Rich and Happy'"

6. His "About Me" section is a perfect balance of personal and professional. He describes the personal reasons he was drawn to coaching but underscores the top notch training he has acquired over the years.

And that's just for starters. Every page of his website inspires, informs and entertains.

Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Web Secret #246: What's Your Grief

I just came across a blog about grief, and it's fantastic.

Seems impossible, but it is simultaneously interesting, innovative, and useful. I can see recommending it to clients, colleagues and using it myself.

See how clearly the two clinicians who started this blog describe its purpose:

Specifically, our mission is to promote grief education, exploration, and expression in both practical and creative ways. We aim to provide the public with…
  • Education that reaches beyond generalization
  • Practical and specific suggestions for moving forward
  • Modes of self-exploration and self-expression that suit all types of thinkers and doers
  • Ways to honor and remember deceased loved ones.
  • A supportive community
…and we may just throw in some personal reflection, experimentation, and a few laughs along the way. Here is a taste of how they do it:

In a section called "How Tos," they have a post on "Practical Plan for Dealing with the Holidays after a Loss."

In a section called "Remembering Loved Ones," they have a post on "Keeping Memories Alive by Accident."

In a section called "Words, Writing, and Journaling," they have posted a book review of "The Disappearance: A Primer of Loss" by Genevieve Jurgensen The book was written nearly twelve years after her four and seven year old daughters were killed in a car accident in France.

This is a blog that demands exploration.

Job well done.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Web Secret #245: Big Data

After one of my kids dropped her smartphone in the toilet, she easily downloaded all of her saved data from the cloud onto her new phone. Nothing was lost, and the process took just a few minutes. That's the benefit of cloud computing.

Remember hearing about cloud computing for the first time? Initially, I didn't have a clue what those two words meant. Neither does Amy Poehler:

But now it is completely familiar to me. I know it's the virtual space where the songs, photos, videos, e-mails and games from my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro are backed up.

Since nothing changes as fast as technology, I had to learn a new term: Big Data.

I leave it to the smart folks at IBM to explain the concept:
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.
Another article explains how Big Data comes to be, well, Big Data:
We are... not limited here to text data; big data can include video, audio, and images too...In a month, a teen will text, on average, 4,732 times. In a day, two billion YouTube videos are watched and four billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook—about half of those pieces by [just] a couple [of people} alone...
What is the relevance to those of us who work in the mental health/EAP fields? We can expect that in the next few years Big Data methodologies will be used, on a grand scale, to analyze admissions to rehab facilities, relationships between medications prescribed and diagnoses, and all kinds of data that I can barely wrap my mind around.

From all of this analysis will come recommendations for new treatments, new drugs, and countless other changes.

Care to learn more? There is now a peer-reviewed journal called Big Data.

The first issue is free.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Web Secret #244: Brain Pickings and other newsletters

People are always asking me whether they need to write a blog, create a Pinterest or otherwise engage in new media.

But older forms of media continue to thrive in an era of apps and tweets. If you offer strong/interesting/amusing content you will have followers and champions. For these reasons, I am a faithful reader of two newsletters.

The first is the weekly, amazing Brain Pickings, the brainchild (pun intended) of Maria Popova, a 28 year old former Bulgarian body builder. How to explain? I will quote a recent article in the New York Times:
She is the mastermind of one of the faster growing literary empires on the Internet, yet she is virtually unknown. She is the champion of old-fashioned ideas, yet she is only 28 years old. She is a fierce defender of books, yet she insists she will never write one herself.

...Ms. Popova is the unlikely founder of the exploding online emporium of ideas known as Brain Pickings.

Her exhaustively assembled grab bag of scientific curiosities, forgotten photographs, snippets of old love letters and mash notes to creativity — imagine the high-mindedness of a TED talk mixed with the pop sensibility of P. T. Barnum — spans a blog (500,000 visitors a month), a newsletter (150,000 subscribers) and a Twitter feed (263,000 followers.)
Let's face it, there is a lot of low quality sh*t on the Internet. Brain Pickings is the antidote to that garbage. Typical articles include "5½ Timeless Commencement Speeches to Teach You to Define Your Own Success," "100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design," and "John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: A 1958 Letter." Lovely, literate, stuff.

Then there is Bill O'Hanlon's monthly "Possibilities Newsletter." Bill's publication is part divertissement, part confessional, part "list of awesome things Bill is doing soon." It's short, easy to read and there is almost always something that I am going to be inspired by.

This past year, Bill honestly discussed the failure of one of his ventures, the "Psychotherapy Digest." Who does that? In another issue, he introduced me to a video series featuring extraordinary people.

Bill also has a phrase he often uses in his newsletter, something to the effect: "if this fails to delight you, please unsubscribe."

I continue to be delighted.