7 Things Obama Has Taught Me
Sorry to bother you again. I still can't believe that America has made such a huge leap. A few days ago I wanted to write an article titled "Why Obama and America have already won" in case Obama would be defeated.
I wanted to make a point of the great achievement for both Obama and the whole USA and how it was a win to win situation even if Obama would not become president.
The sheer possibility that an African American (and Obama is truly "African" with a father from Kenya) could run for president shows how far the US society has evolved. Now, after Obama was elected I'm still in awe.
I watched the campaign from Germany more closely than the previous ones. Today I realized that Obama has taught me a few very important things along the way. Here they are, 7 things Obama has taught me and how they relate to my area of expertise:
Do not divide. Unite!
Obama managed to distinguish himself without diminishing his opponents. He showed integrity and never used smear tactics to attack his opponents. While focusing on change he still emphasized bipartisanship and did not alienate moderate Republican voters. On the Web we have many very negative people who badmouth others for personal gain and fare well this way. That's why you already call this "pull a Calacanis" when you attack a group of people to gain attention and links for SEO reasons. Lately I flirted with the idea of striking back at the latest "SEO is bullshit" post writing a post about "why you don't need a web designer". I won't do that. I will explain how web designers and SEO experts can work together to benefit both parties.
Do not brag. Inspire!
While senator McCain focused on his years as a soldier and POW which many people approve of senator Obama highlighted the achievements of others and things you can do too, he didn't repeat again and again how he was a social worker in Chicago. In blogging we have plenty of people who brag how much they earn etc. Only a few of those could inspire others though. Even less could really follow on the make money blogging path. Inspire by doing things others can reproduce. I will offer you more hands on advice on how to succeed on the Web in future.
Do not offend. Argue!
Obama never used demeaning tactics in his campaign. He argued and explained why his opponents erred. Offending people alienates other people. When you argue people might disagree with you but they still will accept you. In my first year of blogging I have made the mistake a few times of venting my anger. There are plenty of people out there who hate me or my blog just because it's a SEO blog due to wide spread prejudice. It does not make sense to hate them too though. Instead I will prove them wrong again and again in the future. Not one of those people could ever substantiate the "all SEO is spam" claim yet. When I'm done people will be proud to do SEO instead of hiding it like they do now.
Do not parrot. Be yourself!
Some people try to be somebody else on the Web. They try to copy the success of others by just parroting them. Obama had the disadvantage of being "black", having a weird sounding name for Americans (both Hussein his middle name and Obama sound like US enemies) and growing up partly in Indonesia, a Muslim country. He could instead focus on being a Harvard graduate to appear more like many other presidents in history who had been law makers but he didn't. Everybody knew that he had family in Kenya and been living in Indonesia as a kid. So he won by being himself without pretending. On the web people pretend all the time, they pretend to be successful or truthful just to make you click their affiliate links. I haven't and I won't do that. Honesty wins. I will focus even more on why I'm different (I'm a Pole living in Germany and I'm a media activist turned SEO).
Do not repeat. Try new things!
Obama never relied on traditional "ways of becoming president". He skipped the interest groups and the traditional media to reach out to his voters directly via the Internet. It worked out so great that he succeed with the interest groups and the traditional media as well due to his success. Just because something has worked for others doesn't mean it will work for you. You have to analyze your own situation, your weaknesses and strengths and try new things that might work specifically for you. I'm contemplating my blog business model all the time and I will come up with something quite unique instead of publishing ebooks or offering consulting like many other pro bloggers. I will work out a business model that works for me and you, my readers.
Do not separate yourself. Be part of something bigger!
Sometimes you might wonder if it's not too much of "Obama here Obama there, Obama this Obama that" but Obama is like a movement. People are not just followers it's about them. They do not just work for Obama, Obama works for them. So you have to be there for your community and empower it. Selfishness does not lead to success, altruism does. In recent months I have rarely written about the great bloggers I discover and seldom praised others. I will do more of it like in the first few months of SEO 2.0
Do not stop yourself. Be optimistic!
What tremendous optimism was needed to believe that Obama could achieve what no African American has achieved before? No pessimist or realist could have ever achieved that. A pessimist would not even contemplate becoming a "black president". A realist would fail as well looking at the US reality where the population of color is largely disadvantaged in spite of affirmative action and the civil rights movement. Only a die hard optimist could have achieved that. I'm far too often a pessimist or a realist but in future I will "change my mind".
I know most Americans do not mix politics and daily business but sometimes you just can't ignore things going on around you. This time things are historic in a positive sense. Let's learn from it.