Forrest Gump’s Chocolates: Confessions of a Social Media Renaissance Man

I am certain that if my work had been the subject of speculation on the old game show What’s My Line, many a celebrity panelist would have been frustrated to the point of total exasperation.  At least in terms of the topics about which I write on a regular basis.

Why you may ask?  Well I will tell you . . . for some reason , and perhaps due to playing one too many football games without a helmet I find myself inexplicably and delightfully interested in well . . . everything and, for the most part, everyone!

Put me in coach . . .

Each and every morning I wake up I wonder to myself what great discovery or wonderful encounter will move me to write, and to share my unique (and we are all unique) view with my readers about a particular topic.

It really is a fascinating world in which we live, that abounds with opportunities to connect and interact with one another through the diversity of the access afforded us by way of the Internet.  This is perhaps the true value and power if these are the right terms for the Fifth Estate – at least according to William Dutton.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Dutton, he is  Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Professor of Internet Studies, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College, who has written a number of books on the societal implications of computing and telecommunication, such as the Internet.

In his book The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks, Dutton maintained that the Fifth Estate is not simply the blogging community, nor an extension of the media, but ‘networked individuals’ enabled by the Internet in ways that can hold the other estates accountable.

With such a magnificently diverse yet endlessly shifting palette of check and balance responsibilities of this evolved Estate, how could one not have a voracious appetite to mosey up to the buffet of daily happenings regardless of professed subject matter expertise and try at least one of every item on display?

It, being the Internet and in particular social media and social networking, is the quintessential box of Forrest Gump chocolates.  You never know what is going to tickle your fancy from one day to the next, but it sure is fun when you find a story or event that sparks the creative writing fires that burn within some of us.

Compartmentalizing creativity . . .

A beacon example of what we can call the ignition trigger, besides of course the 12 blogs for which I write about everything from my indigenous passion for procurement, to Christianity, mental illness and law enforcement, is my latest book.

A collaborative effort with television’s Cop Doc, Dr. Richard Weinblatt, the book which is titled Tasers, Abortions and Parenting: Behind the Curtain of Policing America, is certainly a major departure from my previous two efforts in which the focus was on leveraging Internet Radio to establish a sustainable brand and using social networking to effect meaningful social change.

However, and after researching the complexities of crime and punishment in America for an interview I did with the good doctor . . .  by the way I asked him about the ache in my left shoulder but he is not that kind of doctor, I was hooked.  One thing led to another and here you have it, book number three.

The obvious challenge is how do you establish a single, distinguishable brand that leaves an indelible mark in the vast sea that is the virtual realms of the Internet covering such a wide array of topics?  You know what I mean, I am talking about the infamous “he’s the guy . . .” moniker.

Your pipes have sprung a leak and you need the best plumber for the job well, Joe’s “the guy!”  You need to work on your golf swing to shave a few strokes off your handicap then Tiger’s “the guy!”

For me and for many years now I have built a reputation of sorts as being one of the “procurement guys,” a subject matter expert if you will, that has seen me travel all over the world speaking to audiences that have ranged in size from 10 to 400 people.

In fact the Procurement Insights blog, the crown jewel in the PI Social Media Network’s line-up, not surprisingly focuses solely on the subject of (drum roll please) . . . procurement.  Like the sweet memories of a first love the blog and procurement in general has a special place in my heart as even today my passion for all things supply chain continues to burn brightly.  Talk about carrying a torch.

That said the aforementioned buffet still looks good.  So even though I may love procurement as much as the coconut shrimp at the food bar, just eating that one dish would over time wear thin.

Like the Old Country Buffet commercial espousing the virtues of the “land of and,” versus the “land of or,” a diversity of choice actually enhances the flavor of and increases the appreciation for your favorite dish.

Or to put it another way, writing three books and the other 11 blogs that focus on many different topics actually infuses new insights into the cornerstone Procurement Insights’ posts.

What does this all mean?  Especially as it relates to establishing a distinguishable and unique brand?

I guess if pharmacies can sell groceries and McDonald’s can serve salads then an expansion of one’s core brand to include an eclectic mix of seemingly unrelated products is the new order of the day.

While I will not hold my breath waiting for a Ronald McDonald’s brand Tylenol or a Gimace heating pad, the underlying message is nonetheless clear . . . like the McLuhan phrase proclaiming that the medium is the message, it is actually the company or, as in my case the writer/host that is ultimately the brand.

Whether I am writing about procurement or the Ground Zero Mosque controversy or for that matter the precarious financial position of the U.S. Government, I hope that you have an experience similar to the same anticipation and ultimate satisfaction that goes with sampling the various offerings from Gump’s famous box of chocolates.

After all, you’ll never know what your going to get.  But isn’t that part of the fun!

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