The greatest adventure and experience of my life . . .

Recently, author and Ecademy co-founder Penny Power and soon-to-be author, Social Media guru Andrew Ballenthin teamed up to establish “The Community Challenge Club” on Ecademy.

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I am not sure as to what it is about Penny (and her husband Thomas), but somehow they seem to draw the very best out of everyone with whom they come in contact.

With The Community Challenge Club, in which the objective is to capture inspiring and interesting business stories, the number one rule listed in the guidelines for submitting one’s account of their journey is to “Be Open – we like to know the real you.”

As the release date for my new book rapidly approaches (November 2), the gentle prodding of the new club’s venue seemed to inspire me to share the story of my journey.  An exercise I deemed worthwhile if for no other reason than to demonstrate that human fallibility (mine), and a Shakespearean twist of outrageous fortune is in reality a doorway to a greater realization of what truly matters.

So without further delay here such as it is, is my story:

Having just concluded many, many months of negotiation, culminating in a long night of reviewing multiple copies of contracts that like a total eclipse completely covered the surface of the 12 foot boardroom table in one of Ottawa’s toniest law firms, the pen was finally put to paper and the ink was finally dry. My little company with the patented software now belonged to a much larger public company.

It is May 11th 2001, ironically a date that almost 7 years later to the day I would find myself cast into the depths of the darkest hole imaginable, only to rise to a new life of unlimited possibilities that with the benefit of hindsight and faith (mostly faith and God’s grace) I can now say was the best thing that ever happened to me.

However back in 2001 I am a young 42 and are closing the chapter on my work life with plans to retire to pursue one of my passions . . . open a winery in either California or in Canada’s beautiful Niagra region – the home of the best ice wine in the world.

What is the John Lennon song that proclaims that life is what happens while you make other plans?

While the story in and of itself may very well have the makings for another book, my faith experience has seen me through the tumultuous journey from millionaire to pauper, and from abundant means to abundant need to a restoration based on hope and the confidence that the Good Lord has a plan for my life.

As I look back on a journey that began with an ominous knock on the door one Friday morning in May 2008, when a sheriff served me with the papers from an indirect business associate informing me that I had seven days to vacate our sizable family home, I cannot help but feel unencumbered gratitude as it opened a door to what has now become the greatest adventure and experience of my life. An adventure and experience I might add in which social media has and continues to play a major part.

This includes writing for several blogs, hosting a Blog Talk Radio Show and, launching a Blog TV Channel in December under the PI Social Media Network Banner. Even as I write these words today, I still have to do a double (and perhaps even a triple) take. Blog Talk Radio Host?

In the forward from my new book “Your Show Will Go Live in 5 Seconds” I confess that prior to March 26th, 2009 (when the PI Window on Business Show debuted on Blog Talk Radio), I had never hosted anything other than the occasional dinner party. In fact, prior to May 2007 I had no clue as to what it meant to blog.

This is what makes social networking so amazing . . . regardless of your starting point or level of hosting experience, social media and communities such as Blog Talk Radio and Ecademy are the great equalizers in that they provide everyone with the opportunity to reach out and connect with a world that is surprisingly as interested in knowing as much about you, as you about it.

What started out as a convenience in 2007 when it was suggested that I could save time by creating a blog which would serve as a “central feed” for the growing number of magazines to which I was a contributor, to a social media network that reaches more than 1 million people each month (and growing) today, I can say with great certainty that this was made possible in no small way by the emergence of social networks.

That said and unknown to me at the time, the seeds for where I am today were planted in the old life – I just did not recognize it back then. As the CEO of a company, and R&D lead of what became a patented process I had envisioned a much different life.

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development program I created a theory which I referred to as “strand commonality.” Basically, the theory’s premise is tied to the fact that multiple, non-related streams of information contain attributes that are in fact relational. Something along the lines of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in which you can find or establish a link back to Kevin through multiple-layered individual contacts.

Utilizing advanced algorithm’s to identify, connect and manage the unique attributes across multiple data streams within a matter of seconds, opened the door to reliably providing best outcome search results in a given situation. For example, when you do a search on Google, 85% of the links the search produces are not applicable to your specific request. That is a high rate of error.

Even the semantically-based Web 3.0 (the next generation of Web 2.0) does not promise substantially better results because word association does not necessarily mean that there is a relational value or connection. Conversely, and after extensive production environment testing, the model utilizing strand commonality produced the optimum result 98.2% of the time, leading some to refer to it as Web 4.0.

The reason I am sharing this with you is that based on this history you can probably understand my occasional double (and triple) takes in terms of my present day endeavors, and why I also derive such a high level of satisfaction from writing blogs and hosting a talk radio show on the Internet.

After a recent interview, “Twitterville” author Shel Israel indicated that there are at least five different yet converging levels to every question I ask. As was the case with my life goals, when I first developed the theory of strand commonality back in 1998 I had also envisioned using its principles in an entirely different manner.

But like the quarterback who throws to where the receiver is going to be rather than where he is in the present moment, God had other plans for my life.

This of course brings me back full circle. Specifically, everything I was doing back then was preparing me for what I am doing now, and social media to me is what a canvas is to an artist in that it enables me to do that which I was meant to do.

Just as I had concluded the forward in my new book, I will conclude here today with similar sentiments . . .

It is my sincerest hope that sharing with you my experiences will in some small way help you to walk through your door of what will ultimately become your greatest adventure. An adventure made possible at least in part, through social mediums such as Ecademy.

Against such a backdrop of immeasurable potential and unlimited opportunity who could not be both humbled and grateful for being part of such a wonderfully extended community of shared experiences. In this regard L.J. Hanifan was right when he said the following in 1916:

“..that in life which tends to make these tangible substances count for most in the daily lives of people: namely good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit… The individual is helpless socially, if left to himself… If he comes into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors.”

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share this with you today.

Remember to check out the excerpt and early reviews for “Your Show Will Go live in 5 Seconds” by clicking on the book cover below.

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