Posted: September 21st, 2016 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
What It Is
As the recently updated tagline on the masthead says, this is “an evolving space”. About 29 months ago I wrote this post, outlining what I thought this blog was about at that time.
Today I’m not really sure what this blog is, but I think it’s going to stay very true to what is has been for several generations and rebrandings; a place for me to put down on “paper” various ideas that don’t have a better home somewhere else.
To borrow from that 2014 post, I’d say you can expect to see me occasionally write about each of the following topics:
- television, movies and media culture
- personal introspection (I’d call it “lifestyles of urban american male” but it really not that academic)
- sports, maybe
- professional development (but not industry specific)
- whatever I’m reading and how it’s impacting my thought process at the time
Localism would have made the cut, but honestly, with my recent move to New York, I’m not sure how viable that is right now.
What It Isn’t
Random International’s “What It Isn’t” installation at Lunds konsthall in 2014.
This is not Ryan Glass’s Digital Marketing Blog or an SEO Expert site.
It’s a bit hypocritical of me, because I love reading marketing sites that are written by one person and express terrific viewpoints and amounts of SEO knowledge, but that’s not what this is. If I’m being honest, I know I could not keep up a regular posting schedule on just one topic (see Rogue Pepper and LeetSauced for proof).
Also, for the last several years I worked in-house, so sharing our successful tactics was always iffy. (Someday I should tell more stories about the discussions we had to have to get clearance for me presenting at conferences.) Now that I’ve moved into the agency world, I’m not entirely sure the lay of the land on that, but think if I get the itch to share some insights, I’ll do better pitching as a guest post somewhere else, like the days when I contributed to Blooming Rock.
Ultimately, I don’t see this ever turning into a single-topic blog. I understand that will likely impact any ability to grow regular readers, but hopefully using it as a place for expression will attract it’s own type of audience. (Actually it would be lovely if I figured out how to publish separate RSS feeds to one hub site and could offer categorized subscriptions.)
But Aren’t You an SEO?
Shouldn’t there be more strategy to everything you do?
I know, a fair amount of what I’ve said above, and the eclectic nature of my post history seems to violently contradict my profession and what I know should be done for an optimal site. It may actually be because of that reason that I don’t try to apply strategy to this site.
“Writing had always been a safe and sane way for me to pour out my obsessiveness and recursive thinking.”
– John Green
As much as I enjoy my “craft” and the mix of (he)art and science that goes into it, this blog always has and seemingly always will serve primarily as a creative outlet for me to keep writing, not a portfolio or calling card for my skills in SEO.
Of course I’d like to rank for topics that I that I think I have a particularly salient opinion on, and may come back from time to time to optimize certain posts, but ultimately Relevant Wit is all about getting thoughts out of my head and onto paper somewhere so I can make more room for the next great idea.
Write When Inspired, Not When Required
I know I should have a consistent posting schedule if I want to grow subscribers, but that’s a bit like the days when I played MMOs, and we would grind out for better gear just for the sake of having the best gear to help us get the next round of better gear. In writing, as in competitive gaming, there is no “happily ever after”; the book doesn’t know how to end itself, it’s up to us to decide on a stopping point.
Writing to grow subscribers turns into more people to keep satisfied with regularly scheduled content, and while I have great admiration for people who do that, I have enough knowledge of self to recognize that my mental/creative engine runs best on a hodge-podge of inputs and inspirations, which means that sometimes I have a wave of “must write today” feelings and other times I’m in read/devour media mode. I appreciate that this can make me sound flighty, but I do believe that much of my success as both a manager/mentor and a marketer comes from taking in a variety of sources to best understand other humans, and that’s a messy process that doesn’t adhere well to a “post __ times per week” schedule.
Plus, there are plenty of times that my ideas don’t align with SEO “best practices”. Many of my old posts are an image with only a few words or no words at all. Back in 2009 – 2011 I was using this space much like a Tumblr site, and yet today I don’t want to remove those old posts or revise them because I think there is some amount of value in maintaining the evolution of my thoughts, my process and my own expressions. I’ll probably cringe at a bunch of stuff I wrote and shared back then, but as of today I’d rather just let it lie.
To borrow again from my previous thoughts on the matter: “there are already so many great resources doing a better job than I could on my own. Rather than try to compete, I’ll be looking towards opportunities to contribute or collaborate.”
Likewise, some of my favorite series aren’t great for SEO. I really like the “Tweet 140” idea, even though it’s never taken off or gotten traction from anyone who’s spoken to me about my writing, because I think it’s just enough room to add more to the initial idea, but restrictive enough that I have to be concise. I’ve found that I either write < 200 words or > 1,000 words when left to my own devises, which of course contradicts the modern rule that all pages should be at least 500 words.
Frankly, in this space, when I’ve exhausted a topic I’d rather leave it and come back weeks or years later if I’ve got something to update. One last note on “Tweet 140”, though, is an admission that I probably need to come up with a better name for it. It’s ironically confusing to share those posts via Twitter because it becomes unclear if the site is titled “Relevant Wit” or “Tweet 140”, and also because some weeks I have several tweets I’d like to elaborate on, and not many original posts to intersperse between them.
Ultimately, if you came here for one particular post and then wanted to see what this site is al about, I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. If you’ve been an on-and-off reader for a few years, thanks for sticking around with my on-and-off writing cadence and sometimes unfiltered maturation. Always feel free to drop me a line on twitter (@RyanGPHX for now) and let me know if you have any ideas for this space.
Posted: August 26th, 2016 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
Today is the last day of my unintentional summer vacation. Admittedly I thought I’d have spent this time writing a lot more, but I’m here now, so let’s get into it, eh?
Some things hardly change
As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting in an indie coffee shop. This shop makes a good almond milk latte and plays deep cuts of underground hip-hop. Even with all the options around me, I keep coming back to this place just as much for the coffee they make as for the location that serves as both a good space and a good launching pad for pedestrian exploration.
Some things change a f*ck ton
Oh yeah, this coffee shop is in Manhattan’s West Village, just a few blocks from our apartment in Chelsea.
And Monday I start the first “new job” I’ve had since Dec 1999.
What the what ?!
How did we get to this
I told my old boss years ago that he didn’t have to worry about me leaving the company so much as worry about me not wanting to live in Phoenix my whole life. This isn’t an attempt to trash Phoenix, there are a lot of great things about the city, especially if you live in Central Phoenix and not a suburb. Nonetheless, once I got my passport in 2010 and Anie exposed me to the world of travel, at some level I always knew that we would live in another place.
Between completing my degree at W.P. Carey School of Business, committing to follow my career goals even if it meant leaving my employer, and a fantastic offer from Anie’s company, it was the perfect storm of opportunity and “if not now, when?” that led us to NYC just before the 4th of July.
So we decided to move, now what?
I’m sure that any of you who’ve made such big leaps would agree. It felt like we were working towards a goal(s) for so long, and then everything started triggering at once and the actual transition was an intense, whirlwind experience. I’ll probably explore it in more depth when I have more separation from it, but in the space of just a few weeks we had to:
- Decide between a handful of cities to move to
- Figure out what to do with all our stuff*
- Fly out and find an apartment in NYC
- Say all our good-byes to friends, relatives and co-workers
- Wrap-up our PHX jobs, including me giving notice and trying to help find my replacement
- Actually get ourselves, our dog and our stuff across the country
Thankfully for that last one we had the massive help of my brother for the 3,000 mile drive; teachers getting summers off FTW!
Oh yeah, while all this was happening I still had two accelerated five-week courses at ASU to finish the last few credits I needed, so every day was split between work, school work, apartment hunting, packing, move preparations, good-bye functions and lots of purging.
Over the last ~7 weeks we’ve gotten pretty well settled in. Bought all the furniture, got the art hung up on our walls**, and even Dewey is getting used to being a city dog again.
More to come
In my naivety, I thought that as soon as I became a free agent on the open market, I’d have my choice of opportunities and all the great industry thought leaders would be fighting to recruit me. Ha ha!
In the end, I did have my choice of some great offers, but it took a few deliberate steps and a bit more time than I would have liked. I actually think that discussing that process can be helpful as a post(s) of it’s own, so I’ll hopefully get those penned here in the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, there’s no lack of opportunities here in New York for digital marketing and it would be great if sharing the lessons I learned can help someone else be less discouraged and stay hungry to find the right place, not the first place.
* We thought we were living a minimalist style but man did we have so much stuff to sell, donate or give away. Shifting from a 1500 square foot house to an apartment that’s ~1/5th that size and realizing that moving stuff costs almost as much as buying all new at the other end was a rough experience even for someone who’s spent 16 years working for “the moving experts”. Too much stuff!
**At our last home in Phoenix it was probably about a year before we got all the walls covered, and some stuff never went up.
Posted: August 10th, 2016 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Recently I was asked to write a couple hundred words about something non-work related that I’m passionate about. For someone like me who considers digital marketing both my career and my hobby, this was a welcome challenge, and I figured I’d share it here as well.
Baseball in the desert?
A lot of folks ask me how it is that growing up in Phoenix I turned out to be a Yankees fan.
For years, anyone else who grew up in Phoenix wondered why someone would like baseball at all before the D-Backs came along, and since the 2001 World Series, it’s been viewed as a near betrayal to not be a fan of the home team. (Except of course for the huge amount of Dodgers or Cubs fans who relocated to the Valley.)
Admittedly, though, Phoenix sometimes feels like the Fair Weather Fan capital, and it’s tough to believe anyone who says they’re a D-Backs fan from May thru September.
Summer of ’91
The real story starts in 1991, when I was 9 years old and went to spend summer break with my Grandma and Aunt and Uncles in Toledo. That summer they took me to my first baseball game, to watch the Toledo Mudhens.
Admittedly I was most immediately enthralled with the peripheral stuff, the souvenir batting helmet and bag of Big League Chew I got, and I still remember getting really antsy in the seat around the 6th inning. The clincher though, the thing that made me a fan for life, was the pack of baseball cards my Aunt bought me on the way home. I tossed aside the stale bit of chewing gum and right there on top, Donnie Baseball himself.
A couple days later, the Yankees were on tv and I was hooked. Even once summer ended, the Yankees were the team most often on national tv, I could spot the guy that was on my baseball card. That afternoon kicked off several years of card collecting (until game memorabilia cards blew up the hobby), and a life-time of loving baseball.
I’ve been a supporter ever since.
Posted: January 26th, 2015 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Derrick Lin’s tiny office workers instagram – A charming and funny look into what he bills as “agency life”, but much of it applies to us all.
Nom Nom Paleo – Even though it is for some reason hosted on Tumblr, this blog has been a life-saving resource during the round of Whole 30 that Anie & I are currently doing. Truly, everything I had attempted from her recipes this month has turned out great.
My Mozinar – Whoa, this is crazy, exciting and intimidating. Tomorrow I will be speaking in front of an audience who expects top-quality expertise and actionable take-aways provided by a respected brand in the industry. That’s a lot of trust being put in me, I really hope I live up to it. If you’re reading this anytime before Tuesday late-morning, there still a chance to sign-up.
Never Eat Alone – Usually I don’t find myself enjoying books that are assigned reading, but this one has been a constant companion for me during my train commutes this month, and it a much more engaging read than the typical business book. Maybe I’m biased because I also want to be a CMO someday, and there is a ton I need to learn about networking better, and demonstrating how I can provide value to people I’ve never engaged with.
Hank Green on Interviewing the President and Legacy Media – I narrowly missed the live-stream of the White House YouTube interviews, but watched the VOD the next day. While initially skeptical of the chosen interviewers, I found that I was on-board with nearly everything that was going on, and enjoyed the diversity of interviewers, opinions, and the cajones Hank Green had to start off with telling the President that his proposed policies were not politically viable. Since I don’t watch any American televised news (BBC & France24 YouTube subs), I didn’t catch the hate-storm that sprung forth from the interviews, until I was linked to Green’s recent post on Medium. It’s a good that spends more time discussing the viewing habits and tendencies of American youth than it does trying to defend Green as a presenter, and for that I give him a high-five.
Posted: December 10th, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Sometime over this past weekend, GQ Fashion not only stopped updating a feature I was really digging, they actually went back and deleted it from their archive as well.
Normally reserved for egregiously wrong, insensitive or “accidental” postings, deleting multiple posts in a series seems a bit odd, no?
Even weirder was that when I mentioned it, @GQFashion got ballsy for a second, before someone must’ve pointed out what I was talking about and either realized their mistake or saw that debating the value of page-view-spam “galleries” versus serialized content updates wasn’t a thing they wanted to get dragged into.
(tweets viewable here in their natural habitat.)
Admittedly, it feels pithy on my part to “call them out” on this, but there’s a valid conversation to be had about brands converting away from valuable, serial content toward click-baity content that boosts page-views at the expense of the reader’s time/interest.
Of course, over time this type of content should turn off enough readers that the model fails and the publisher reaps the downsides of taking their readers for granted, but it’s tough to plot this course with content creators you’ve enjoyed for years and hope are just making a foolish mis-read.
Posted: November 11th, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
1.) I’m incredibly late to the party on this one, but huge amounts of fun and inspiration when I got turned on to Humans of New York this week. When you look at several days worth of updates at a glance, you get an appreciation for the full spectrum of the human condition. (Some folks are telling a love story or chatting about their latest argument while two days ago someone else was talking about their struggle to conquer addiction and provide for their children.
Malcolm Gladwell (photo courtesy of HONY)
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“Change your mind about something significant every day.”
2.) This 540 square-foot “All I Own House“. While admittedly impractical for any household of more than 1 person, it’s still a great design and responsible use of space.
3.) Just got around to starting Outliers (written by that guy above) in earnest this month. About 100 pages in and it’s awesome, typical Gladwell mix of narrative and statistical insights. I may view it more favorably because I think it reinforces some of the “it takes aptitude AND opportunity” philosophy I’ve had brewing for a long time.
4.) Rogue Pepper, our recently-launched blog about food (eating better, Phoenix food culture, difficulties, etc) is picking up readership. I really need to redouble my commitment to that project and schedule my blog posts in advance though, so I don’t get slammed like I did these last few weeks with exams and travel eliminating my writing time.
5.) Another study confirms the trend towards living in reinvigorated urban cores is continuing. I know this comes with some concerns about the ethics of potentially displacing the working class (such as the protests against tech companies busing employees from San Francisco’s Mission District), but as a long-time urban resident, I have to say that the benefits of propinquity are too huge to keep trying to force all the money to the outer fringes of our cities.
Posted: September 2nd, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Will McAvoy on Twitter
We have to wait until November for Season 3 of Newsroom, but until then enjoy some amazingly motivated ghost-writing. I especially love the times he takes people to task on their misconceptions, contradictions and blatant newsjacking for press.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
If this show isn’t on your radar yet, it may be for one of two reasons
- You don’t have HBO and have the technological saavy of Col Klink, so anytime someone mentions a show that’s not on basic cable, you think “oh, I’ll ask my kids about that when they come home for Thanksgiving”.
- You, like many Americans, cannot stand the abomination that local news and CNN have turned into, so anytime something resembling the news comes on, your eyes glaze over and you don’t take the time to see if it’s something you can get behind.
If you don’t fall into one of those two groups, I’m sure you’ve already seen John Oliver, either on HBOgo or on the great YouTube clips that his show puts out each week. (Really amazing for HBO to have a show that is so temporal they are totally cool with publishing on YouTube. This is pretty much what Bill Maher should have been doing years ago.)
Maybe it’s because of Oliver’s accent that I think there is an added element of credibility I don’t give to network newscasters, but I’m sure it’s more likely because being freed from the need to maintain advertisers has allowed the show to actually stake an opinion. I imagine that Last Week Tonight is what Newsroom would be like with a different host but the same agenda.
Art of Manliness
Particularly evident in their article on Lessons in Manliness from Fight Club, this site is not a tribute to machismo and bro-vado, but rather a discourse in being a modern gentleman.
There is a fighter inside you waiting to burst out as soon as you let it. Don’t squelch him with Candy Crush and Family Guy; enable him by reading more, working out more, and maybe even starting your own fight club.
I never anticipated this. I was fighting the hype when he was featured on Jay-Z albums and remixes in the past. And then sometime last year I started being able to quote Drake lyrics in memes and gifs to be sent around the office and realized that more than being a joke, there was actually a lot to enjoy from the Canadian rapper.
Science Getting It Right
After the previous administration let religion set-back scientific advancement for 8 years, I’m glad to see we are continuing to make progress in medical science that can actually save lives and cure awful diseases (like diabetes, blindness, and other problems related to organ failure) instead of merely finding ways to manage the pain and keep people dependent on drugs for years on end.
This recent study showing the ability to grow complete, mature, functional organs in mice makes me hopeful that in the future there will be no need for anyone to go through what I watched my late Grandmother suffer with last year.
Posted: August 20th, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
A quick run down of things I’ve enjoyed around the web this month.
– The Starving Fish: an aesthetically pleasing blog celebrating great food memories. Headphones highly recommended.
– Mark Bustos: Helping his fellow humans with something so basic but so transformative. In the linked image, that guy on the right looks like someone I’d give a job to.
– ABUS frame locks: picked one up in Copenhagen after I’d seen them everyone around town. Phoenix isn’t ready for me to use it exactly the same way they do in Denmark, but it’ll be a great added layer of security at the ASU bike racks this fall. Downside, they don’t have installation videos on their website or YouTube, but they promptly replied to my email asking for help.
– Monsoons: Heck yeah, rain in the desert. Especially when it doesn’t require an afternoon ruined by a haboob. Added bonus: being able to turn off the sprinklers for a few days. Summer in AZ is killer on the wallet because of high power bills as it is. Add “lawn maintenance” and I might as well be paying in blood money.
– Rouge Pepper: Speaking of food blogs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t announce that the long mentioned “food blog” I’ve included on my goals lists for the last few years is finally off the ground. Shifting from a Phoenix dining guide, we’ve focused it as “our love letter to eating well”. I’m sure most readers of Relevant Wit will enjoy @AniePHX’s updates more than my own, so give it a look.
Posted: August 11th, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Ed note: This post is the first of a new feature I’ve had rattling around in my brain for a bit. The idea is to take a recent tweet and expand upon it, but keep in place a length restriction, in hopes that this makes me care about each word I use. Keeping the posts under 140 may mean that I cannot fully examine the topic, and 140 words isn’t even supposed to be long enough for search engines to crawl and index the page, but nonetheless I feel like this will be a good experiment and hopefully a fun lesson in expressing ideas quickly. I hope you enjoy.
I’ve been patiently waiting for Google Fiber to make it to Phoenix. I was excited when I got the email update a few weeks ago that the City of Phoenix and Google were making solid progress on this front, and I even had a colleague tell me that her decision to stay in Phoenix/Tempe was predicated on the lack of planned availability for Fiber in the ‘burbs.
To be fair, though, I have no problems with my data service from Cox, and they have been increasing my speeds for years at no extra charge. So when I started seeing them advertise for #CoxGIGLife around town, I was cheerful. Then I ran into the wall of tweets from their event this week. In the end, they got up to 25,000,000 impressions, but nearly all of them were selfies with hashtags and no content, facts or reasons to actually read the tweet.
I don’t get it.
Posted: August 9th, 2014 | Author: Ryan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
I think I spend a lot of time starting blog posts with a mea culpa of sorts. This one won’t be much different, but it also won’t be an empty promise in the end.
I wanted to write this, or another post very much like this, each of the last two weeks, but I lacked the focus to put more than a few sentences together before my mind wandered.
I started the summer with a list of goals, or at least a set of ideas that I wanted to work towards. I thought I’d picked out the ones that were reasonably within reach and could use the work ethic I’d culminated during the school year to spur on my accomplishments.
By this point, you’ve probably guessed that I haven’t made much progress on any of the things I laid out months ago. I spent almost two weeks brushing up on my HTML, but not to the point that I’d be confident showing it off. Typically I’d sit down with the books or tutorials I had available after dinner and begin to study. I’d get about 30-60 minutes into that before I’d get antsy and want to move around. Then the dog would want to go outside, or I’d start to doze off staring at the screen, or I’d just decide to load up Mumble and see if any of my friends were gaming and maybe I could squeeze in just one match before it’s back to studying… I could be really good at writing recipes for unsuccessfully doing something, but I don’t think that’s a best-seller in the works. (But DO get back to me if you’re a literary agent who wants to see me flesh that idea out.)
A promotional image distributed by Ogilvy & Mather and used on their own website to illustrate the seventy-five-second commercial Evolution (2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But that’s not to say that I’ve wasted all my time.
Sure, I did spend good hour or two most nights relaxing on the couch, watching Netflix or YouTube and hanging out with the dog. I’ll file that under stress-relief and decompressing, as well as expanding my library of things I’ve been exposed to for future creativity. Even with my new title/position at work and the faster pace we’ve been pushing work out, the level of stress that I carry around this month compared to Nov – April is a drastic decrease.
While I intended to spend my summer working on my technical chops, I ended up working on the human side of my profession instead. On our trip I read Ogilvy‘s Confessions while riding trains across Belgium and France. I also dug deep into the psychology-centric articles written by folks I respect in our industry, and spent a lot of time with podcasts, youtube channels and game shows, paying attention to how successful hosting works. The art of captivating an audience while progressing along an expected path is certainly something that resonates with the work I’m doing (or should be doing) every day.
I’d also like to think I’ve been able to level up my leadership/mentoring over the summer, engaging with a broader group of people and taking away many different sources of inspiration that are continuing to trickle into our workday conversations and helping us push towards better goals as a team. Yes, I’ve been lazy on my own goals, but I’ve somehow found ways to help others find motivation to go beyond what they thought they could do.
TL;DR – I didn’t find great success on the goals I started with, but I ended up with valuable skills and inspiration that is propelling me forward all the same.