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September 2011

Why You Should Stop Complaining About Facebook

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The Internet has been exploding over the last few days as Facebook announced (and already made in some cases) a ton of changes, most notably to profile pages. Most of what I’ve been hearing is complaining. It seems like every time Facebook makes changes, even minor ones, people get bent out of shape about it. Today, I’d like to encourage you to stoppit. Stop complaining about Facebook, because it doesn’t make sense. Here’s why:

Change Isn’t Always Bad

Have you actually tested out the new changes? There are always going to be things I would have done differently when it comes to how any platform operates, but now that I’ve tested it out, I actually understand why the changes were made and I’m not going to lie…they’re pretty awesome changes, for the most part. At least in my opinion. If you don’t like the changes, it’s okay to voice that opinion, but at least test it out before you complain. It’s always a good policy to understand what you’re so mad about, right? You can start by checking out Julie’s post which lists 10 places to learn about the new Facebook timeline, including how to preview your new timeline if you don’t want to wait until September 30. Don’t just complain based on what you’ve read. Use it yourself first.

Facebook is Optional

You don’t like Facebook? Don’t use it. No one is forcing anyone to use Facebook, yet every person I see complaining about Facebook is still a member of Facebook. In fact, most of the complaining I see is on Facebook. If you really don’t like using Facebook…stop using it. Move to Twitter or Google+ or stay connected with your friends the old-fashioned way – pick up the phone. I know lots of people who don’t use Facebook and they haven’t died. The only way we can truly tell Facebook that we disagree is by not using it anymore.

Facebook is Free

Facebook is a free service. You don’t own it, nor do you pay to use it. As users who have helped make it successful, I’m not saying that you have no right to voice your opinion if you don’t like something, because, after all, without us, Facebook wouldn’t make any money. However, Facebook is not your blog. The Facebook overlords are going to make the changes they think makes the most sense, and your best interests may not be in mind. Don’t make Facebook your home base, because you’ll never truly have control over your content there. If you want control, buy your own domain name and actually take ownership of your content rather than just complaining. Facebook is going to do what Facebook is going to do, and you can’t really stop it. On your own blog, you get to control everything.

Complaining is a Waste of Time

Complaining, at least the way most people are going about it, is a waste of time. It’s easy to point out what is wrong with something, but are you actually making suggestions on how to make things better? And, more importantly, are you voicing your opinions in a way that matters? If you just spout off a bunch of profanities as a Facebook status update, what good is it really going to do? Send an email to the Facebook team with your opinion. You can at least try to get your suggestions in front of people who really matter. Not that your roommate’s second grade best friend and former college tutor aren’t great…but like your other Facebook friends, they can’t do anything about your complaints. It’s really easy to be critical, but it’s not so easy to be helpful. If you’re going to be negative, try to be helpful as well.

It’s Just Facebook

At the end of the day…it’s just Facebook. I understand that a lot of people rely on Facebook to keep in touch with loved ones or to promote their blogs, but if Facebook disappeared tomorrow, I assure you, we would all survive. Every moment you spend complaining about Facebook is a moment you could be spending on things that are more important in life, like your family or building your business in ways where you actually control the content. The way I see it, life already throws a lot of crap our way that we have to handle. Why spend even more time on negativity? In other words…there are more important things in life than Facebook. Spend your time on those things.

The bottom line, the moral of the story, the thesis of this entire post, is this: I definitely want to hear people’s opinions on the new Facebook changes; I just want it to be productive. Don’t let useless complaining drown out the real conversation.

Blogging in the Age of Social Media [Panel]

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Ah, the good old days. Blogs were a world unto themselves and if we bloggers did anything related to social media it was purely to post URLs and hope that it’d help drive some traffic our way. With the continued rise of Facebook and addition of the surprisingly slick Google Plus, combined with Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg and so many other social sites, however, a smart blogger’s gotta know how to manage the social nets, not just a blog. I’ve been in the blogosphere for a long time and my main site — Online Tech Support at Ask Dave Taylor.com — has been a part of both the blogosphere and social media world since 2003.

To explore the topic of Blogging in the Age of Social Media in depth, I’ve pulled together a panel of experts who are living and breathing the social media experience every day, either for their own businesses or for clients. Success in social media comes from engagement and participation, after all, and that can be distressingly time-intensive.

Here are the panelists’ thoughts on this, as a way to whet your appetite for our session at Blogworld Expo Los Angeles:

“The are many more things to be aware of as Social Media has overwhelmed the world.  Having a blog post go viral is huge, which is possible through the use of Social Media, but there’s also more competition for attention than ever thanks to all the social media sources.  How can a new blogger cut through all the noise and have their voice be heard?” — Jeannine Crooks, Account Manager, buy.at affiliate network

“The birth of the blog changed the way we shared information.  Whether we were talking about our cat obsession or writing about our latest pet peeves, blogs allowed people to express themselves in a way that made anyone and everyone capable of being the editor of their own publication for all to see.  Many blogs have eclipsed traditional media as a source for news and other means of knowledge.  As other forms of social media have come about, bloggers have gained new ways to build relationships and their readership.  There is no cut and dry formula for using these tools to do so, but there are some general guidelines that, if followed, will help you find success.” — Joshua Dorkin, Founder / CEO  – BiggerPockets.com

“In some ways, a blog is social media, and some social media communities can act as blogs. The age of social media can perhaps be best described as “the age when the lines got blurred.” Is a blog — say, Techcruch, just to poke the badger a bit — a journalistic media outlet? Can a thoughtful Facebook stream that I subscribe to be every bit as much of a ‘blog’ as a WordPress site?  The answer to all of this, to me, is yes. The definitions of journalsim, blogs/blogging, social media, etc., are morphing and changing every day. Each of us will find our own level of both comfort and personal best practice when it comes to tying everything together — and even decide how much we want to tie our online lives together. In the end, I think all of these are becoming “information sources,” and each of us will turn to the sources that work best on a case-by-case, topic-by-topic basis.” — Doyle Albee, President, Metzger Associates

“Whether you look at personal blogging, business blogging, micro-blogging or how they overlap and support each other, blogs have become essential sources of self-expression, thought leadership, information, news, entertainment and community building in our social media age.  While 73.5% of the blogging population is under 35 and connecting on personal levels, companies that blog receive 55% more web traffic and 77% more leads than companies that don’t.
Though social media has become a catch all phrase meaning various things to various people, the heart of social media is that individuals have become the media, and blogs are where their stories live to provide the sound bites for Twitter and Facebook content.  As social media platforms continue to proliferate, the content that makes them interesting and builds their followings are often tied back to blogs.  Imagine Twitter streams, Google searches and Facebook feeds without links to blogs to serve up content that helps readers to dig deeper, connect further and laugh harder.” — Brett Greene, Co-Founder, Hip Chameleon Social Media Marketing

My job during the panel will be to serve as both the glue that holds the discussion together and the rabble-rouser to make sure the conversation is lively and entertaining, as well as informative and thought-provoking. See? Doesn’t it already sound like a terrific panel?

We’ll look forward to seeing you at Blogworld Expo LA in just a few weeks and in the meantime, listen to why I keep coming back to BlogWorld for every event.

Go to our YouTube channel to see what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld.

Top 10 Posts Educating You About the New Facebook Timeline

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I sat and watched almost the entire keynote for f8 yesterday, which is Facebook’s developer conference. I wanted to hear about these “Big Changes” that were coming to the popular social network. There were some hints that the Facebook we know and love (or hate) would be no more.

Facebook did not disappoint with their announcement and yes, it was huge. Just earlier this week, we woke up to about 5 changes on Facebook and now there are too many to count. In fact, I wouldn’t call these changes but instead a complete redesign. They introduced the new Facebook Timeline.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the Timeline “the story of your life”. He and the team wanted to create something that allowed you to tell the story of your life through pictures, status updates, likes and more. Almost like an online yearbook of sorts.

I signed up as a developer (which I’m not) and have been tinkering around with the new layout. As of today, I like it. Sure, there’s a learning curve involved (isn’t there with all changes in life), but they walk you through the changes and it didn’t take me long to figure out where everything was. It’s aesthetically pleasing and well organized. It was also fun to click through the years I’ve been on Facebook and see what I was up to in, let’s say, 2007. I made 70 friends and joined 20 groups that year. I also updated my status with “This is me writing on my wall” – profound, I know.

Is your head spinning yet with all of these changes and announcements? Well, let me help it spin just a bit more with these Top 10 posts educating you about the new Facebook Timeline:

1. How to Enable the New Facebook Timeline Now (Mashable)- Takes you step by step through the process of signing up as a developer and getting a head start on the new Timeline. The only people who will see it now, are those who have also signed up as a developer. Or, you can wait until September 30th and sign up with everyone else.

2. Tell Your Story with Timeline (Facebook’s blog) – Facebook walks you through the new design on their official blog.

3. Facebook Timeline Wrap-Up: Everything Today Was About Sharing Content (ReadWriteWeb) – A short and sweet wrap up of the F8 developer’s conference with links to other Facebook posts about the changes.

4. Facebook Changes – What The Average Everyday User Needs To Know (DainBinder.com) – He breaks is down and let’s you in on what you need to know about the new features and changes. From the lists, to the ticker and more.

5. New Facebook Features: A Reminder To Check Your Privacy Settings [HD] (Video from Mari Smith) – No, this isn’t a post per se, but a video from Mari. With all of the changes, she reminds up to check our Facebook Privacy Settings.

6. Facebook F8 – Here’s everything you need to know (TheNextWeb) – A lengthy and great post breaking down everything Mark Zuckerberg introduced at the conference. It also includes some pictures from the conference.

7. Here’s What Facebook Timeline Looks Like (TechCrunch) – This post includes some nice pictures of what the new Timeline looks like. For those of you who are more visual, looking through the pictures first and then reading all of the how-tos might help you out a little.

8. What is Facebook Timeline? (Only Your Whole Life) (Gizmodo) –  A walk through of what the Facebook Timeline is – “it dives deep into your past, but also makes your history dynamic”.

9. Facebook Launches Integrations With Spotify, Netlfix and More to Populate the Ticker with Playable Content (Inside Facebook) – A post telling you a little about the integrations Facebook has added such as Netflix (not for U.S. yet), Spotify and more.

10. The Future of Facebook: Out with profile pages, in with the Timeline (Y! Tech) – Breaks down the changes, as well as where to find the new features.

What are your initial thoughts on the new Facebook Timeline?

2 Minutes of Jason Falls: Why He’ll Never Miss a BlogWorld Event

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Session: No Bullshit Social Media
Speaker: Jason Falls

At BlogWorld LA, Jason Falls will be presenting a topic associated with his first book, No Bullshit Social Media. Specifically, he plans to talk about the practices that social media consultants have recommend over the years and he’s going to call bullsh*t on it.

Jason, who reveals he plans never to miss a BlogWorld event, suggests you joins us because you get the best of both worlds – fantastic content AND networking.

Hear what else he has to say:


 

BlogWorld LA Speaker, Jason Falls gives a preview of what’s to come.  See all Speakers here.

TechCrunch and AOL: Is Selling Your Blog a Mistake?

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When AOL bought TechCrunch back in 2010, it seemed like the perfect pairing. Some were skeptical, but Mike Arrington really seemed pumped about it and encouraged the TechCrunch community to be too, particularly in the post Why We Sold TechCrunch To AOL, And Where We Go From Here. Oh what a difference a year makes, right? I don’t think anyone at TechCrunch in 2010 would have suspected the drama that was to come in 2011. If things don’t change, TechCrunch might even fail.

So was selling the blog a mistake?

Financially, it’s hard to argue that it was. The widely-reported sale price was $25 million (though some believe it was much higher), and while TechCrunch’s popularity means that this money could potentially be made back in just a few short years, the acquisition was still a risk on AOL’s part. So while you can always argue that something was worth more, for argument’s sake, let’s say that TechCrunch did pretty well. I mean, the deal wouldn’t have been signed if both parties weren’t happy with the sale price, right?

What bloggers know to be true, though, is that blogging is about way more than money. I think that’s the key that most companies buying blogs are still missing.

AOL is a large corporation. Their main goal is to make money. Someone like Arianna Huffington has no personal attachment to TechCrunch, and I don’t fault her for that. Why should she? Why should anyone who wasn’t there to build TechCrunch from scratch? TechCrunch isn’t AOL’s baby, it’s blood, sweat, and tears. TechCrunch was…and is…a business investment.

For many of the writers there, TechCrunch is a home. I think most bloggers feel that way. It’s easy to sell a house. It’s hard to sell a home. So when someone says, “We’re going to buy this house, but you can still live here,” it is easy to keep thinking of it as your home.

Only it’s no longer yours, not really.

It’s more like you’re renting the house. You can make it as cozy as a home, but the landlord can come in and paint the walls a color you hate, tear down the deck, or even evict you. Your lease agreement only protects you so much.

When you sell your blog, it doesn’t matter what kind of off-the-record promises were made. Tomorrow, the company that purchases your blog could make decisions that you don’t like, and when that happens, you don’t have any control to stop it. That’s the risk you take when you sell. True editorial independence no longer exists. Even if you have this freedom, it is only because your overlords are allowing it. Your kitchen walls are still that beautiful shade of red you adore because the landlord is allowing it. Tomorrow, the house’s owner could be in a yellow mood. They can change their minds.

And they will, if they think it’s the best choice for their business investment. They haven’t “grown up” with the blog, so they don’t always make the best choices in terms of the community or design or even content. They make the best decisions in terms of money, or so they think. Personally, I feel that any blog ruled by money won’t succeed, at least not to its full potential. That’s not necessarily for me to say, though.Everyone defines success differently.

If you sell your blog, you don’t get to make the decisions anymore. You can dole out advice or even make threats to discontinue your involvement with the blog…but you can’t stop the train once it is moving. Selling your blog is that first chug-a-lug without you as a conductor.

Bloggers can be a stubborn bunch – and I’m definitely including myself in that statement. What a corporation suggests might not be a bad idea, but changes can be scary. It’s really easy to feel the urge to push back whenever anyone suggests that you’re doing something wrong or could be doing something better, especially if you’re already pretty successful. “That’s not how we do things around here.” Well, it is now. When you sell, there are changes that will be made. Even if you think you’re doing the best possible job, outsiders with a different perspective won’t always agree.

So is selling your blog a bad idea?

Yes – if you think it’s going to continue moving forward the exact same way as it is under your leadership. TechCrunch will never be the same. No sold blog is the same afterward. No matter what the terms of the sale, things are going to change. Those changes could be good, if you give them a chance. They could also be horribly wrong, and you could see your baby fail. In my opinion, you shouldn’t sell unless you’re prepared to walk away, enjoy the money, and fondly remember your blog how it was, no matter what it has become.

Report: Apple iPad Expected to Lead the Tablet Market Into 2014

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A new report was released by Gartner today with some stats and trends on tablet brands. What was revealed is no surprise. The Apple iPad is leading the way and it’s projected that it will continue to do so for several years to come.

According to the report, in 2010 the iPad accounted for 83% of tablet sales worldwide. The number was down, just slightly by about 10% for 2011, accounting for 73.4% of the market.

What does the future hold for the iPad? More good news for Apple.

“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal. Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.”

The complaint that seems to be holding back Android Tablet sales is high prices and a weak user interface. As one who own an Android tablet, I concur.

Here’s a table put together by Gartner showing current and projected tablet sales.

Of course there’s the rumored Amazon tablet that some have said will be strong competition for the iPad. The Amazon tablet is said to feature a 7-inch screen and will be available in November for $250.

Do you own an iPad, Android Tablet or none of the above?

How Not to Pitch to a Blogger

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I’ve been blogging for about 6 years, so I have a few PR connections. Which means my inbox is full (overflowing!) with pitches from PR companies everyday.

I can tell when a pitch is personal and I can tell when it’s been copied and pasted and sent to 1000s of other bloggers. If the pitch is personal or I have a long-standing working relationship with you, the more likely I am to respond.

This news article from SocialMedia.biz caught my eye. It’s entitled “How not to treat bloggers and how not to pitch blogs“.

Here are a couple of no-nos when it comes to pitching a blogger mentioned in the article:

Start off your pitch with “Dear Blogger”. I get these a lot or other forms such as Dear Staff or Dear Entertainment Bloggers. It’s nice to open your email with a pitch and see that they actually know your name. I’ve even had pitches sent that included the wrong name somewhere else in the email!

Formatting that is off. This always makes me laugh. I’ve received quite a few pitches that you can tell they copied and pasted the email from somewhere else. The strange mix of fonts and weird spacing clues you in.

As the author mentioned in the article, many times PR firms are understaffed, juggling too many tasks, do not have the proper training or are just starting out and haven’t acquired the proper tech skills yet. Which is why they sometimes come up short when it comes to their style of reaching out to bloggers.

Do you have any annoyances when it comes to a PR person reaching out to you?

For those of you who are new to working with brands and PR agencies, a couple of great articles to read are 28 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Working with Brands and Setting Up Your Blog to Work with Brands.

2 Minutes of Dave Taylor: Why BlogWorld LA is a Must-Attend Event

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Session: Promoting your Blog in the Age of Social Media
Speaker: Dave Taylor

At BlogWorld LA, Dave Taylor will be moderating a discussion about social media and how it presents both great opportunities and tremendous threats to bloggers, particularly regarding promotional tactics. If you’re already involved with Facebook or a fan of Google Plus or Twitter, how do you integrate all your marketing efforts to get the best possible results? In this roundtable discussion, they’ll explore this and related topics at the intersection of social networking and blogging.

Dave has been to every single BlogWorld event (except for NY earlier this year) and he says it’s a great experience and every time he makes new connections. He meets with peers, shares notes, and networks through the day and the after-after-parties.

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Five Facebook Changes You Woke Up to Today

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“I hate the new Facebook changes!” “Facebook, why are you so confusing now?” “Are the people at Facebook bored so they just decided to make some changes for the heck of it?” – Those are just a few of the comments I am seeing in regards to the Facebook changes that occurred overnight. And of course, there’s this picture floating around.

So far, the census seems to be that Facebook users don’t like the changes and they want their old Facebook back. Do you think it’s because people hate change or are the differences really that bothersome? We’ll get into that in a minute.

Let’s break it down into Five Facebook Changes You Woke Up to Today: (If I missed any changes you noticed, please let me know in the comments.)

1. Top Stories and Recent Stories are all in one place. You can no longer choose between the “Top Stories” and “Most Recent” links. Facebook now has them all in one place with Top Stories at the top. They decide  what they think will be interesting to you.

2. Top Stories have a blue mark on the upper left corner. What’s with the blue mark on the posts I am seeing in my Facebook News Feed you ask? This helps you easily spot the most interesting stories since you last checked Facebook. It’s their way of helping you not miss important news and updates from your friends.

3. It’s now easier to hide updates you don’t care about. Hover over a friend’s status update and you’ll see a little mark which opens up to a drop down box. Choose from activities such as mark as top story, hide story, report story and more.

4. Larger photos are now displayed in your feed. Photos are now larger and more prominent in your news feed.

5. A new feature called the Ticker has been added to the right hand corner. No matter where you are on Facebook, you’ll see a friend ticker on the top right of your screen. It shows you what your friends are doing and allows you to join them in real time. Click any ticker as it slides by and a window pops up for you to respond to them.

Why all of the changes? Mark Tonkelowitz, an engineering manager at Facebook, explains the changes and the reasoning behind it.

He says, “When you pick up a newspaper after not reading it for a week, the front page quickly clues you into the most interesting stories. In the past, News Feed hasn’t worked like that. Updates slide down in chronological order so it’s tough to zero in on what matters most. Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff.”

It seems some changes are geared towards those who don’t log on to Facebook on a regular basis.

“The first things you’ll see are top photos and statuses posted while you’ve been away. They’re marked with an easy-to-spot blue corner,” he says. “If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories first. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy while you’re scrolling through.”

So tell us – do you think people just don’t like waking up to so many sudden changes on Facebook or are the complaints legit? What annoys you most about the changes? Sound off in the comments and tell us how you feel!

On a side note, some are saying if you change your Language settings to English (UK) you can have your old Facebook back. Have you tried it?

How Your Blog Can Change the World

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Session: How Your Blog Can Change the World
Speaker: Kyeli Smith and Pace Smith

To dig deeper into how your blog can change the world, come see me and Kyeli present at Blogworld LA! Our talk is titled, unsurprisingly, “How Your Blog Can Change the World.”

There’s a lot of talk about how your blog can get traffic, make money, and participate in “the conversation.”

In this post, we’re going to aim higher. We’re going to talk about how your blog can change the world.

What does “changing the world” even mean?

Changing the world means making a real difference. It means adding meaning to people’s lives, not just adding to the noise. It means creating change, not just creating an e-book filled with rehashed content. It means encouraging people to improve their lives, not just encouraging people to click on ads.

Since you’re still reading this post, I know that you have a spark of inspiration that lights you up when you imagine changing the world with your blog. What is that spark that lights you up? What cause, what belief, what value do you care deeply about?

What’s your “why?”

Your readers don’t care about top-ten lists. Your readers don’t care about how-to tutorials.

Your readers care about your “why.”

Why are you blogging? Why do you care? Why do you get out of bed in the morning and sit down in front of your keyboard to write your heart out to strangers? What’s your spark of inspiration that lights you up?

I want to believe.

Useful content will earn you readership. Useful content can even earn you money.

But nothing will earn the devotion of your readers unless you give them something to believe in.

So it’s up to you to say something worth believing in. To be someone worth believing in. And to do that, you need to tell a story. Not just any story, but a story that’s authentic and compelling.

To make your story authentic, include elements from your own life. You don’t need to share intimate details about your personal life. You don’t even need to use your real name. You do need to write about what’s meaningful to you — to share your authentic feelings.

To make your story compelling, include a mystery, a struggle, and a resolution. Show, don’t tell.

And in the spirit of “Show, don’t tell,” I’ll stop telling you what makes a compelling and authentic story, and I’ll show you a compelling and authentic story.

The Parable of the Lonely Blogger

Once upon a time, there was a lonely blogger.

The blogger wrote and wrote, and yet no one listened.

The blogger left home and journeyed far and long to the mansion of a rich man, and asked him for advice.

“Monetize!” said the rich man. “Advertisements! Product placement! Features! Benefits!”

The blogger returned home, and worked and worked, and wrote and wrote, and still no one listened.

The blogger left home and journeyed farther and longer to the home of a famous author, and asked her for advice.

“Publicize!” said the author. “Schmooze! Public relations! Know the right people!”

The blogger returned home, and schmoozed and schmoozed, and wrote and wrote, and still no one listened.

The blogger left home and journeyed even farther and even longer to a monastery, and asked a wise monk for advice.

The monk asked the blogger, “Why have you journeyed this far and this long? Why do you keep writing and writing?”

The blogger returned home, wrote down the answer to the monk’s question, and posted it.

And people started listening.

Hear a bit more about Kyeli and Pace’s topic and why they are pumped to attend BlogWorld Expo L.A. in November:

Go to our YouTube channel to see what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld.

Pace Smith is the co-leader of the Connection Revolution, where she teaches idealists how to change the world through connection. She speaks, writes, and teaches workshops to foster understanding, healing, empowerment, authentic communication, and personal growth. (She’s @PaceSmith on Twitter, where she posts far less than Kyeli.) She’s happily married to Kyeli, her partner in life and in business. She loves to play Dance Dance Revolution and carries a spare spleen with her everywhere she goes.

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