As we’ve said before, TwoPointUhOh is not about re-creating the tons of social media information already online. We’re about clarifying and simplifying that information for people who are just starting out.
How many of us are building profiles online? That’s how many different ways there are to go about it. The question is, What’s going to work for you? Honestly, that depends on who you are, what you’re trying to accomplish, who you want to reach, the learning curve you’re facing, and how you feel about the process.
In short, there are several variables with many possible combinations and one common denominator: YOU.
We’re here to help you define those variables for yourself and to identify a strategy that feels right and works for your business.
We believe context is important, concrete examples are indispensable, and story is the best way to learn. What better place to start than with our own stories? This week I’ll introduce myself. Next week will be Mary’s turn.
Bear with me as we seemingly take a detour. Sometimes the longer path between two points is more enriching than the shorter one.
From The Personal…
Growing up, my family moved a lot. I lived in New York (twice); Athens, Greece (twice); and the then divided city of Berlin, Germany (also twice). As a college student I moved to Paris (for the first time), and then to New York again, where I stayed for 8 years. Then it was back to Paris (for the second time), and Frankfurt and Cologne, Germany (once each) and finally Paris for the third time. In between there were trips, endless trips (my father was a pilot with Pan Am).
Four countries. Four languages. Four cultures. Twenty plus moves. Change and starting over is what I was weaned on. The result? A lifetime of not really fitting in anywhere. I struggled to make sense of the world around me, no matter where I was.
I used technology to stay in touch with friends and family all over the world. From the telephone and letters, to the fax machine and email, I was all over it. As Web 2.0 began to emerge, I jumped on board from the start. Soon I found myself enrolling in online classes, joining forums and writing groups, and meeting like-minded people. No longer bound by geography or hampered by language, I could find and converse with my tribe wherever they were.
For someone like me who’s always been a little bit everywhere but never really anywhere, the Web became a way of connecting far-flung dots. Several years before Facebook or Twitter, I was finding old friends and making new ones.
I was hooked on Web 2.0.
…To The Professional
In 1994, when I was living in Paris for the second time, I started to hear about portable careers—careers that could move with you wherever you went. This spoke to me, and I began seeking out portable work: teaching, translating, writing. Sure, each time I moved I’d have to find a new customer base, but I felt that was possible. Wherever I’d been, I’d always found a sizable Anglophone expat community and the companies and organizations that hired them. This was the early days of Web 2.0, and my mind was still thinking locally.
Between 1996 and 2002, I lived in Germany, where I trained as an Alexander Technique teacher, a mind-body method of centering, connecting, and feeling more whole. (You can see why I needed it, right? If you want to know more, click here.) To support myself, I worked as a translator. The Web allowed me to translate from home, do my research, and deliver my jobs by email. I could support myself using my language skills and I could set my own hours around my training course. Further, by the time I moved back to Paris in 2002, my customers were comfortable with assigning work and accepting delivery over the Internet. As long as I was in the same time zone and could receive a wire transfer, they were happy to keep working with me. My portable life just became smoother.
Professional consistency was now possible—at least theoretically.
I still had two problems. One, I didn’t love translating. Two, I couldn’t get myself to do any one thing exclusively, no matter how much I loved it. I still can’t. If I don’t have variety and new challenges, I lose interest very quickly. I used to think this was a byproduct of my upbringing, but now I believe it’s innate. It’s who I am.
Back in Paris, I worked on building a teaching practice while also trying to build my writing career so that I could drop the translating. I networked online, I networked in Paris, and I said yes to just about everything, including unpaid work and community volunteering. I developed a habit of having multiple irons in the fire, several balls in the air, and lots of spinning plates.
Before long, I was stretched too thin. I became scattered and surrounded by broken plates and dropped balls. My online presence reflected that.
Some stuff had to give.
In an effort to take greater control over my projects and my own direction, I decided to produce a web series called My Bitchy Witchy Paris Vacation. I wanted to showcase my work to the entertainment industry in the US—and I succeeded. Much to my surprise, however, creating the web series also had the effect of anchoring me here in Paris. This I had not anticipated.
Through the two-year process of writing and producing Bitchy Witchy, I realized I had become comfortable(ish) navigating France. I also realized that I had been living as if I’d inevitably pick up and move again. For seven years, I had been waiting for the proverbial second shoe to drop.
Was it possible that I was done starting over from nothing? Could I actually stop tearing up roots and focus instead on cultivating the seeds I had planted?
What a freaky little concept.
But it’s grown on me.
Under One Umbrella
Today my professional life is made up of writing, consulting, and translating for the entertainment industry, and teaching (Alexander Technique, screenwriting, storytelling, and building an online presence). In addition, I work on my own creative projects.
It’s still a lot of different things, but they fit together. At the heart of everything I do is story. At the heart of story is infinite variety and challenge.
Oh yeah. I could stay here a while.
My goal now is to shape an online presence that reflects one business with multiple facets and to create a home base (a company) from which I can venture out (to clients here and abroad). I’ll be sharing my progress on this blog.
Web 2.0 Takeaways
How is this long story useful to you? What does this mean in terms of Web 2.0? I don’t really know, but this is what I got out of it:
- Web 2.0 is a communication tool, much like the telephone.
- How you use Web 2.0 will change over time. The tools will change and your needs will change.
- How you use Web 2.0 depends on who you are. This includes your history, your needs, your level of comfort with technology and social networking, and your personality.
- Web 2.0 can help you connect to your tribe wherever they may be.
- Web 2.0 can bring you full circle. You might venture out far and wide only to land back home.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a progress and not a station.” With apologies to Mr. Emerson, I would say the same about Web 2.0.