Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

This is a major announcement for our family

Disclaimer: This is a relatively long post. And it’s not unlike a winding stream with other tributaries adding to it. But I feel like it’s important to give you the backstory to this announcement. If you can’t stand it and really just want to see what the major announcement is, just skip down to the “tl;dr” statement at the bottom.

Man Praying in Church
Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

A career shift?

I was in high school. We were wrapping up our home Bible study with some prayer requests. A good friend of mine shared with our group that his dad had just lost his job. They were concerned. We all were.

I don’t know his whole work history, but I do remember that he’d taken on a few different careers during his life. He had training as an engineer and had graduated from one of the top engineering schools in the country. He’d had some jobs in that field. But I also remember that he ran a print shop at one point in his life.

Not long after my friend shared this important prayer concern, his dad was hired by our church. He had already been handling many of the organization’s administrative duties on a volunteer basis. Why not go ahead and start paying him? Made perfect sense.

He served on the church staff for more than twenty years. And now he’s enjoying his retirement.

I don’t know if he felt a wandering in his soul. I never asked him. Maybe I should. But I do know that my friend’s dad eventually found the perfect “fit” for himself. And it seems like all of his previous professional and volunteer experiences prepared him for his administrative role with my home church.

It started this past January. I started to get the sense that I was on the brink of a major career change. Maybe my career was about to make a major shift, not unlike my friend’s dad. I told my brother as much while we were driving home from Mr. Gerhart’s funeral. I could tell that things were about to change. And maybe I’d find that perfect fit that aligns my skills, experiences, education, and passion into one dream job.

That was just the beginning of this journey.

So, what makes me tick?

I’ve come to realize that I am not happy unless I’m working to serve other people. It’s my passion. My heartbeat. It’s what makes me tick. When I worked at Slingshot SEO/digitalrelevance, I was drawn to the nonprofit clients who were spending a considerable amount of energy and effort to help others. As I continued down that digital marketing road, I began to dream: “What if I could take these skills that I’ve honed and the knowledge that I’ve gained and used it to help smaller organizations who are helping other people?”

Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

It was a wonderful idea. But it wasn’t one I could execute anytime soon. I needed something to pay the bills. So I cobbled together a couple of jobs. You might remember that I thought it was a little too…cliché…and predictable. Even after leaving the school to stay home with my son, I still wound up finding myself back in another Special Needs classroom less than a year later.

After looking back at my work history over the past decade or so, it’s become pretty clear that helping people and serving others. It was also clear that I wasn’t going to be able to retire at either the Christian retail store* or as an Instructional Assistant at a school. So I started looking for positions that would give me the opportunity to help people.

I had  a few interviews. Several, in fact. There was a local organization who brought me in for two separate interviews last Summer. I never heard from them again, even though they promised to keep me updated. I had another promising interview not too long after that. It went well. I thought it. Never heard from them again.

A brief aside:  How hard is it to send a simple rejection email after you’ve met with a candidate? If you can’t be courteous enough to let me know that you chose the other person, perhaps I don’t want to work for you. Or partner with you. Or support you. If you can’t handle the little things like a simple rejection email, what does that say about how you handle the big things?

But I digress…

It was just a dream

A few months, a friend of mine told me about a position with a local organization that I might be interested in. She sent me the job description. At first glance, I didn’t think I was the kind of person they were looking for. But I believed this was the type of job I was looking for. And it really didn’t hurt anything to send them my resume. So I shot them an email. I didn’t really have my hopes up. I’d gotten my hopes up for other positions that I thought were a “perfect fit.” So I just went about my business, just doing what I do.

They called me in for an interview. Things went really well. Then they asked me back for another interview with the whole team. Things went really well. And in the midst of discussions with this organization, we moved out of one house and into another. And we were gearing up for the final push towards the end of the school year at my school.

Transitions!

Transitions everywhere!

Then, these dreams started popping up…

It has happened at least three times during the past two months. And each dream has pretty much followed the same storyline. For some reason, I’m back at the church where I preached for several years. Things are arranged differently. And a lot of people have passed away. You know how dreams go: It feels different. It feels the same. I know exactly where I am and I have no idea where I am, all at the same time.

All of a sudden, I’m expected to preach. I’m woefully unprepared as I try to piece something together last-minute. As I step on stage to deliver a cobbled together sermon, I wake up.

I think I know why I keep having this dream

It’s because of the transitions. When things get unsettled, I wind up having dreams that are similar to this. The dream keeps happening at this small church because of the interviews I’ve had recently. During my conversations with potential employers, I’ve discussed my experience in this small country church – both positive and negative.

Believe me, I’m long past having any hard feelings about what transpired. God made sure of that when He kicked me in the teeth a few years back. But I’m convinced that all of the discussions about my preaching experience, coupled with all of the life transitions that are going on, I kind of had to emotionally and mentally work through the direction my life is taking. And that has happened through this dream.

I believe I’m ready to announce the new direction for our family. No, we’re not adopting again. No, I’m not returning to the pulpit. And we’re certainly not moving again anytime soon. I have accepted a position with a local organization. I will be serving as an Employment Advisor, helping adults with Special Needs find jobs and thrive at their jobs. That’s right. I’m going to be a job coach.

And get this: I’ll also be taking over their digital promotions. So I’ll be overhauling their website and coordinating their social media efforts. How cool is that? I get to help people and take what I’ve learned about digital marketing to help a small, local nonprofit improve their digital footprint!

The streams, they have converged.

Of course, this isn’t anywhere close to anything that was on my radar six months ago. There’s a lot I need to learn. I realize that. That’s probably why I kept showing up unprepared in my dreams. But I know that whatever I don’t know, I’ll be able to learn. I’ll be part of a great team and I’m sure they’ll help me as I try to help them. Am I a little nervous? Sure. But I’m also excited beyond words.

Will I retire with this organization? I don’t know. I certainly hope so. There’s definitely opportunity for professional growth. And a few of my teammates have been with the organization for several years. There’s some staying power here.

tl;dr – I’ve accepted a position as an Employment Coach, helping people find and thrive in their jobs.

While I’m sad to leave my teammates and students in our Essential Skills classroom, I know they are going to have an amazing year next school year.  I’m very excited to kick off this next chapter in my life. And I’m looking forward to what will unfold over the next few years.

 

* Family Christian Stores recently ended its 85 year run and closed all 240 stores. Even if I’d stayed with them, it’s a sure bet I would not have retired as an FCS team member.

 

Misquoting Pope Francis, Mark Zuckerberg, and Abe Lincoln

I’m sure you’ve seen the meme floating around the Internet. It’s a photo of Pope Francis with a quote that’s attributed to him. The quote says something like this:

It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional. Notion of God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money — for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history do not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name.

It had made the rounds earlier this year, but it was revived in the wake of all American eyes focusing on the Bishop of Rome. Some think this quote is a nice thought. Maybe they think it’s some kind of olive branch to those outside the Catholic church. They readily shared the meme because it showed how enlightened and progressive this pope is.

Others, however, shared it as proof that Pope Francis is the Antichrist himself. Because if this isn’t blasphemy, it’s pretty darn close. So they say it’s evidence that John the Revelator saw the papacy when describing the evil figure who is supposed to rise to power during the End Times. So they shared the meme, too.

One small problem.

Pope Francis didn’t say that. And it’s really easy to find out that he didn’t say it. Google is our friend when it comes to stuff like this. Here. Let me google it for you.

I know, I know. Everyone got caught up in the hype surrounding the papal visit to these United States. So it was easy to just share this (mis)quote of Francis. It just felt right.

But here’s the deal: just because you put a quote next to a guy’s picture, it doesn’t mean the person actually said it. And it doesn’t matter how much you want the person to have said it. If he didn’t say it, he didn’t say it.
Pope Francis Didn't Say That
Then, immediately on the heels of the re-emergence of this pontifical post, people started posting facebook status updates with what sounded like a bunch of legalese gobbledygook, talking about how that status was going to keep the social network from using your pictures, information, etc. Then there was something about how the information you share on facebook is confidential.

Ha.

Haha.

Hahaha.

Confidential information? On facebook? You’re joking. Right?

And the legitimacy of that legal disclaimer? Once again, let me google that for you.  And then people started posting this crazy hoax about how your private stuff was going to become public if you didn’t pay some crazy fee. Since we’re on a roll here, let’s go ahead and google that for you, too.  That would be ridiculous for them to do that. And counter-productive. Facebook has access to something even more valuable than a nominal fee: your data. Facebook is free because they can access your information and use that to get advertisers to pay to promote their wares to you.

So, while it’s free and probably always will be, it really isn’t free. Because you’re paying with information. There really is no such thing as a free lunch, after all.

So there’s a nice little lesson here, kids. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. If it seems too outrageous to be true, it probably is too outrageous to be true. If it seems too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. And if you’re not sure, it usually only takes a quick Google search or a visit to snopes.com to find your answer. And that only takes a few extra seconds. But it’s totally worth it to take that extra step. Wouldn’t you agree?

But wait. That’s not all.

Shortly after that had all come to pass, I received notification that someone had commented on a pin I’d shared on Pinterest. The pin was over two years old, but I’m always happy when someone interacts with something I’ve shared on Pinterest. Here’s what was said:

pinterest commentI…

I can’t…

No.

Just…no…

The Internet is a wild, unpredictable, and sometimes crazy place. Stay vigilant, my friends.

 

 

D is for Digital Sharecropping

Before we go to far in this discussion, I want to go ahead and encourage you to sign up for the Life in the Fishbowl newsletter. It’s going to be a weekly recap of all the fun stuff you might or might not have seen here in this beloved space. It’s going to be the best way to keep updated!

With this email update, I promise:

  • No spam. Ever.
  • Your contact information will remain private and will never be sold to any third-party.
  • I’ll do my best to entertain you and keep you informed. Hopefully we can build a nifty little community here.

So what are you waiting for?

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I already explained a few weeks ago how subscribing to the email newsletter is one way you can help support our adoption. So that should be reason enough to subscribe. Right? But wait. There’s more!

Facebook has changed.

We all know that Facebook is unpredictable. It has a reputation for liking to change things with little warning. You know how people get upset when Facebook tweaks the timeline’s appearance? Imagine what that’s like for a Page owner whose reach is suddenly dropped to near zero. That’s what happened to many pages at the end of last year/beginning of this year. It wasn’t pretty.

People had figured out how to game the system. Some were even able to make money off of it. And now? Nada, basically. Facebook has made it clear that if you want your Page content seen by your audience, you have to pay to play. That wasn’t very good news for small business owners. And it definitely wasn’t very good news for sites like this one.

Google has changed.

It’s no secret that Google keeps changing its algorithm to try to stay ahead of those who make money by gaming their system. Unlike Facebook, Google is pretty up-front about what they like and what they don’t like. Don’t get me wrong. They still keep the SEO folk jumping. And guessing. But the general framework remains consistent.

That being said, they keep changing things. And there are people who have full-time jobs to keep up with what Google changes. I don’t really have time for that. And I don’t really care about that. All I care about it sharing my story with you. So why worry about what hoops I’m jumping through?

Google+ has changed.

Oh, who am I kidding? None of you really use Google+. But if you did, you’d probably know that they might finally be putting Google+ to rest. I know you don’t care about this. I really don’t, either. Except for the fact that it’s another example of the rules changing.

Pinterest has changed.

Did you know that people were making money off Pinterest? And it wasn’t just by driving traffic to their site. But that’s not happening anymore, either. While this didn’t have any impact on me and what I do, it’s yet another example of the rules changing.

Myspace has changed.

Wait.

Does Myspace still exist? I honestly don’t know. Or care. I’ll bet you don’t know or care, either.

Remember when that was the social platform that you had to be on?

ch-ch-changes…

You see the pattern. Right? Things change. Especially when it comes to social platforms. Any of them can change their rules or requirements at a moment’s notice.  And that’s their right. They own the platform. They can set the rules. And they do.

Those of us who rely on their platforms to help build our own audience and to share our content (and maybe even make money)?  We’re just digital sharecroppers.

My friend, Felicia, introduced me to this term a little more than a year ago. She wrote a great article about digital sharecropping in the wake of the Great Guest Blogging Massacre of 2014. Michael Hyatt uses a slightly different analogy, talking about a landlord/tenant relationship. The message is the same: when you rely solely on other platforms to get people to read your stories, you’re bound by their rules (no matter how ridiculous they might be).

It’s time to take control.

Don’t get me wrong. Twitter is still my first-love. And I have fun on my Facebook page. But I could lose those with little to no warning. That’s their right. And that’s OK. I’ll keep using them. I have fun with them. But I can’t rely solely on them when it comes to this blog.

If I’m going to take this blogging thing seriously, it’s time to do what I should’ve done a long time ago and take a little more control of getting what I write in front of your eyeballs. Because that’s the purpose of writing, right? It needs to be read. What’s the point of telling stories if there isn’t anyone to hear it? Right?

That’s why I’m asking you to sign up for the newsletter. It’s not nearly as trendy as the latest social media platform. But it’s pretty reliable. And all of us use it.

It’ll be much better for us in the long-run. I promise!

subscribe to Life in the Fishbowl

 

**I’m participating in the April A to Z Challenge. This post is part of that endeavor. You can see my other entries to this year’s challenge here. A lot of people are doing the same thing. You should check out some of their posts!**

 

My notes from Mixwest 2014

Mixwest Notes
I had a great time at Mixwest 2014. I got to meet some new people, catch up with some old friends, and learn some pretty amazing stuff from the fabulous collection of speakers and presenters.

It’s always hard going to a conference like this and deciding what workshops to attend – especially when you want to go to all of them. But you can only go to one at a time, unless you’ve managed to figure out a way to be in three places at the same time. If you have, please contact me! I want to learn your secrets.

My friend, Leah, calls this the Mixwest Struggle. And let me tell you, the struggle is real, y’all. Since many of you might have shared in The Struggle this year, I’ve decided to share my notes from this year’s conference. Now, I’m not the most amazing note taker on the planet, but I did try to get down as much relevant information as possible. Here are my notes from Mixwest 2014.

And in case you’re interested, here are my notes from Blog Indiana 2012 – the precursor to Mixwest.

I should mention that because of The Struggle, I tried to avoid sessions that I knew were going to be recorded. Once those are available, I will have figured out how to be in two places at the same time! Still gotta unravel the mystery of being in three places at once. But that’ll happen. Some day.

I hope these notes are helpful. If you have any technical difficulties, please let me know and I’ll get that fixed ASAP. And if you have any notes or insight from any of the sessions that you attended at Mixwest 2014, I’d love to learn from your experience!

Keep being awesome, Mixwesterners! Hopefully, we’ll see each other again next year. Because I love what you do.