The Kind of Platform You Should Be Building

A couple years ago, I left the country. With 19 other people, I spent five days traveling through Guatemala, serving local NGOs that were improving the lives of those living in poverty.

The Kind of Platform You Should Be Building

Halfway through the trip, I looked around in awe. We 20 strangers gathered together for a purpose bigger than ourselves to do work that wasn’t about us, leaving each person changed through the process, including me.

How did all this happen? One word: Platform.

This group of people had connected to each other and to me through a blog, and then a book that I wrote a few years ago. And now we were in another country, doing things we never would have imagined: sleeping in hostels; taking cold showers; touring the city dump and embracing the sick, diseased, and downtrodden. All because of a platform.

The experience rocked me to my core and gave me the perspective I needed to appreciate what a platform is really supposed to be about.

What does this mean for you?

Everyone has something to say. I believe that with all my heart. And in a noisy world full of distraction, we need a way to way to get heard, a way that is not completely about us. That’s called a platform.

A platform is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a stage on which we stand to share our message. It’s not an end to itself (i.e. “Hey, look at me and how great I am!”). But rather, it’s a means to an end.

We don’t build a platform so the world thinks much of us. We build a platform so we can change the world.

Or at least, that’s why we should.

For a long time, I didn’t understand this. I had a blog nobody read. Nobody was changed by my word, and no one thanked me for my words. After years of failure, I threw my hands up in frustration and wondered, What was I doing wrong?

Don’t make it all about you

People are smarter than most marketers think. They can tell when you’re trying too hard or when you’re presenting a cleverly-presented pitch that helps you more than it does them. And that’s what I was doing with my first foray into social media.

I was making it all about me.

My blog was about getting other people to like me. It was about attention and accolades. I would chase fame, no matter what the cost, sacrifice or compromise anything just to be known. It was pathetic, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. And no surprise: the blog failed.

It wasn’t until I quit my blog and started over that I learned the ever-important lesson of focusing the attention away from myself. And that’s when things began to change. Turns out, when you make your platform about other people, they’ll make it about you.

And when you build an audience sharing a message that matters, you can change the world.

Here’s your challenge

We all are building a legacy. With our words and actions, we are making our mark on the world, one way or another. So why not create a legacy that will endure, one that gives more than it takes?

Whatever stage you’re building — be it a blog, a business, or a butcher’s shop (sorry, just had to keep with the alliteration) — make it about someone else.

You don’t have to be huge; you just have to be helpful.

Ask questions, offer solutions, see what a difference you can make. Because the truth is we don’t find our purpose in life by looking in the mirror, staring at ourselves. We find it by looking out the window at a world in need.

So, dear friends, it’s time to open up our eyes and decide what kind of platform we ought to be building. If you need help getting started, check out my free guide to launching a blog. Just click the link below (it’ll take you through a step-by-step tutorial on launching a self-hosted WordPress blog on any budget).

Click here to learn how to launch a blog that can change the world.

And if you already have a blog, it’s time to share! Leave a comment below with a link to a blog post you’re proud of.

How are you using your message to help others? Share a recent blog post in the comments.

Goins, Writer

Profound sadness and changes to the blog

2015-01-29 07.18.23It is with profound sadness that I must announce the death of my dear friend, coworker and co-blogger, Mary Axford.  Mary died unexpectedly and suddenly in her sleep on January 26th. In addition to her well-researched blog posts, Mary was the driving force behind our Links Roundup feature here on the blog.  In fact, Links Roundup # 28, published just last week on February 2nd, had already been prepared by Mary and was published exactly as she had prepared it.

Mary worked at the Georgia Tech Library for over 27 years and was one of the first people to collaborate with me by co-teaching a Freshman Experience class.  We have co-authored several articles – one of which is still forthcoming – and co-presented at a number of conferences including Computers in Libraries 2014.  We worked side-by-side over the past three years writing and researching for this blog that we created and were so passionate about.  Mary’s enthusiasm for emerging technology and serving the students and faculty of Georgia Tech inspired me almost daily.

While I have not yet made firm plans for this website, I do intend to continue exploring alternatives for Personal Knowledge Management with all our readers after a short hiatus for grief, adjustment and re-planning. I appreciate your patience and positive thoughts during this difficult transition.

Crystal Renfro


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There is no ‘slippery slope’ toward loss of liberties, only …


There is no ‘slippery slope’ toward loss of liberties, only a long staircase where each step downward must first be tolerated by the American people and their leaders. — Alan K. Simpson
By Lifehack 

The post There is no ‘slippery slope’ toward loss of liberties, only … appeared first on Lifehack.


Links Roundup #28

saddle and ropeCitation/Reference Managers

Find the Right Reference Manager is a post by Bonni Stachowiak on her Teaching in Higher Ed blog.  She gives the pros and cons of Google Docs Reference Tool, the RefMe app, and Zotero.Content Curation

Qiqqa (pronounced quicker) is a citation management tool that I’ve been intrigued about for years, since it has a LOT of features, some of them unique.  Have not had as much of a chance to use it as I’d like, and would really like it if I knew a grad student or faculty member that use it and can give a good review of it.  Anyway, they have just come out with a major upgrade.  It was developed by people associated with Cambridge University. They also have a blog.

You have probably heard now about the merger between MacMillan and Springer.  One interesting point made in the linked article is that the two have competing reference managers, Papers and Readcube, and it is unknown what merger means for their future.

Boost Your Productivity with Saved Searches in Zotero is another excellent post by Catherine Pope in her The Digital Researcher blog.  She talks about the search syntax in Zotero (sounds similar to that in Evernote in robustness), and how to save searches.

Content Curation

Introducing the New Suggestion Engine is an article with details on how this content curation search engine has improved.  I like!  Don’t get me started on search engines, though…I see so many lousy ones.


Evernote’s New ‘Scannable’ App Makes Scanning Automatic is a post by Robert Ambrogi on his Law Sites blog.  The post discusses the pros and cons of the new scanning app from Evernote (iOS only for now).

Make a Table of Contents in Evernote for Easy Access to Everything is a Lifehacker post by Tori Reid.  The article is short and simple, but illustrates one of Evernote’s great features.  Let’s say you are buying a sofa and have saved a lot of info from the web on different sofas you like from different stores.  Select all the notes on sofas and then click on “create a table of contents” – it is that easy, and you wind up with one note to rule them all!  ;-).  That is, one note that has links to all the other notes.

IFTTT/Task Automation

Will IFTTT, Workflow, Zapier Teach Us All to Connect Apps? is a post on diginomica by Phil Wainewright, who talks about these three apps and whether they are adequate in providing task automation and how they might reach wider audiences.  Had not heard of Workflow before, probably because it is iOS only.

Legal Technology

10 Most Important Legal Technology Developments of 2014 is from Robert Ambrogi‘s Law Sites blog.  The post is a roundup of those developments with Ambrogi’s comments on each.  Very informative and a provides an update to my post on productivity tools for law.

Microsoft Office/Office Software

Review of 40 Features of Microsoft Office 2013 is another articles by Cindy Grigg,‘s expert on office software.


Goodnight.  Sleep Clean is an article in the NYT Sunday Review by Maria Konnikova on new findings on brain functioning and why sleep is vital – essentially the waste products from the brain are cleared out during sleep.  Poor sleep may lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s.


20 Apps and Services that Made Me More Productive in 2014 is a post by Jamie Todd Rubin on his blog.

Timeful is an app that puts your events, to-dos, and good habits onto your calendar.  After learning about your habits, it makes suggestions of things to put on your calendar.  For iOS.

Procrastinating? (well, not at the moment, am writing this) is a Gradhacker post by Erin Bedford on how to get over procrastinating on projects.

Your Extra-Somatic Brain, a Gradhacker post by Hanna Peacock, discusses to-do lists and their usefulness in grad school.  She mentions the apps OmniFocus, Microsoft Outlook’s Tasks, Things, Todo7, Toodledo, 2Do, and Asana.

Are Those Files Final? is a Profhacker post by Natalie Houston that makes two really good points – putting final in a file name is almost a guarantee that it isn’t, and that one should find a naming convention for your files (especially those on which you collaborate) that works and stick with it.

Using Project Management Approaches to Tame Your Dissertation is a Gradhacker post by Katie Shives that discusses five phases of project planning that can apply to researching and writing a dissertation as well as any major project (including writing articles).  The phases are:  conception and initiation; definition and planning; execution; project performance/control; and project close.


How to Better Retain Information from Books, Articles, and More is a Lifehacker post by Herbert Lui which discusses 3 techniques for improving recall.


Virtru Makes Email Encryption Easy, in Either Outlook or Webmail is an article by Robert Ambrogi of the Law Sites blog.  He reviews Virtru, which encrypts email, is easy to use, and has several options.  He also links to his other posts reviewing more email encryption programs.

Thesis/Dissertation Research

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Researchers is another great post by Catherine Pope of the Digital Researcher blog.  In it she discusses her tips for anyone starting on this kind of intensive research, and has good advice on taking notes, citation management, task management, setting writing goals, organizing research material, backing up your work, and learning new skills.  She discusses tools she has used for each.  Useful for academic researchers, and something librarians can point out to their graduate students… and by the way, Crystal’s Productivity Tools for Graduate Students guide is another great tool to show them.


Twitter Tools Sampler is an article by Leslie Walker, the Social Media Expert.  Tools mentioned are TweetDeck, HootSuite, Twhirl, Twitterific, Tweriod, Buffer, Twilert, Twiriod, TwitSprout, TwentyFeet, and ManageFlitter.


4 Quick Tips for Writing in Any Discipline is a Gradhacker post by Shira Lurie discussing common grammer mistakes and how to fix them.  In it she links to another Gradhacker post by Kelly Hanson, A Tentative Taxonomy of Writing (in Grad School), which gives writing advice on drafting, rewriting 1, 2, and 3, and professional correspondence.

Google Docs vs. Scrivener for Writing is a post by Jamie Todd Rubin talking about when each one is the more useful tool, and for which kind of writer.  In his opinion, for writing that needs to be highly structured (written from an outline, for example), Scrivener can’t be beat.  His more recent writing, however, tends to be more unstructured, and Google Docs with its streamlined functioning suits when he just wants to write without the software getting in his way.  He makes the most important point we’ve mentioned before – the best tool is the one you find works for you.


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040: Pursuing Your Passion Through Podcasting [Podcast]

We all have dreams. Those things that make us come alive. The things we wish we could do for a living and still afford to eat.

040: Pursuing Your Passion Through Podcasting [Podcast]

For me, it’s writing. For my friend Cliff Ravenscraft, it’s podcasting. For you, it may be something else.

On this week’s episode of The Portfolio Life, Cliff Ravenscraft shares how he made the leap from being a successful insurance agent to podcasting full-time.

For him — like for many others — it was not an easy transition. He, his wife, and their three children lived off of food stamps for a few months. They broke down in tears every month. Yet, still they claim the transition was worth it.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email, click here)

You can also listen at iTunes or on Stitcher.

Tips from the podcast answer man

These days having a blog is like being a needle in a haystack. But having a podcast is more like a needle in a mini wheat (as Cliff says).

Hearing him explain this at the Platform Conference is what convinced me to start a podcast myself. I’ve found it to be a great way to extend the reach of my message, and I’m sure you will too.

According to Cliff, setting up a podcast is easier than most people believe. If you’ve ever wanted to start a podcast, here’s how:

  1. Find a way to capture your voice. Even the Voice Memos free app on a iPhone provides decent audio quality
  2. Set up an RSS feed. This is a one-time step.
  3. Submit your podcast to podcast directories like iTunes and Stitcher.

That’s it! You’re ready to start broadcasting. If you dream of doing what you love and getting to call it your work, listen to Cliff’s thoughts on how to make that leap in our most recent episode.

Resources mentioned in the show

  • Podcasting A-Z
  • Platform Conference

If this episode was helpful to you, please share it with others who can benefit from it. Also, leave a review on iTunes.

What is preventing you from living out your dream full-time? Share in the comments.

Goins, Writer

Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.

Apprenticeships are also another route you can go down and with Gordan Franks Birmingham apprenticeships it is easier than ever before.