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!"

So what shall I do with @Just_Matt_?

No straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends; There's no clear-cut beginnings; And so far no dead-ends. Harry Chapin, All My Life's a Circle

One year ago today, I received an email from the HR Director, asking if I wouldn’t mind stopping by her office for a little “chat.” I knew what that meant. It was early Tuesday morning and very few people had arrived in the office yet. I knew exactly what that meant.

Less than an hour later, I was walking out to my car to get a box so I could gather up my belongings. It wasn’t a surprise, really. It had happened to a lot of people in recent weeks. In fact, I was starting to see a bit of a pattern. But it still left me a little disoriented.

I had just been fired.

I can say all I want about how this was a blessing in disguise and that I’m better off now than I was then. Those statements are true. And I probably said those exact things to people that day. Because I believed them. But this was still a rather significant change in direction for our family. And can I just say that this couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time?

A week before this event, we moved into a new rental.

A week before that, we had purchased a new (to us) van.

Two days after I was fired, Christy’s teaching job lost funding.

The day after that was the one-year anniversary of Dave’s passing.

Emotionally? I don’t know if there could’ve been a worse time for this to happen. There was all this excitement about new things like the adoption and the van. That excitement was mixed with sorrow and uncertainty as we didn’t exactly know where this road was going to take us. It’s kind of tough to know what’s happening next when both family members lose their jobs in the same week.

Of course, there never really is a good time to get canned. Is there?

Anyway, I promise I’m in a better place. Of course, I miss some of my former teammates. But I really do love my new jobs. And pretty much everything about my life is in a better place. A much better place.  So I’m not really carrying any emotional baggage like I did back when we moved to Greenwood.

Back when I was guest-posting and doing other digital promotion for my former employer, I had created a second twitter account. Y’all already know about @mattdantodd. Right? And y’all are already following me. Right? If you aren’t, you can go ahead and click on over there and do that. I’ll wait.

I promise. I’m waiting.

Done?

Good.

You might have known about @mattdantodd. But I’ll bet you didn’t know about @Just_Matt_. Well, now you do. And I’m looking for some input about what to do with this account. You see, @Just_Matt_ has kind of lost his way. I’d love to help him find his way back on track. There’s no need for him to end at a dead end. Is there?

So on this, the one year anniversary of my life taking an unexpected turn, I’d like to know what you think I should do with @Just_Matt_. Should I primarily promote this blog through him? I kind of do that already through my main twitter account. I’m really not sure what to do with him at the moment. But I’m open to suggestions. Actually, this is me begging for suggestions.

What should I do with this twitter account?

I could try to bribe you by saying the winning suggestion will get some awesome prize. But I really don’t have an awesome prize to give away. All of our extra money is tied up in adoption expenses right now. Remember?

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Oh, and that quote at the top of this post? Here’s the rest of the song. I think it’s kind of fitting for today. Don’t you?

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.

Thankful. So Thankful.

Me hanging out with my longtime twitter-friend, “Jean Clude Kahuna”. If you aren’t following him, what have you been doing with your life?

I hesitate to share this because I don’t want to make it sound like I’m better than “those” people. Don’t worry. I know I’m not any better than the ones who were personally impacted by Monday’s news in a very real way. Maybe it’s a little hint of survivor’s guilt. But after the events of this week, please know that I’m very sincere in saying that I’m thankful that I have a job. I’m thankful that this place of employment is ready to blaze a path into the future, ready to leave Monday’s Day of Darkness in the past (and let’s keep it there, shall we?). I’m thankful that I work at a place that understands that in order to be the best at what we do, we need to be constantly learning. So they sent a giant contingent to Blog Indiana 2012 for two days of networking and learning. In a strange way, I also found it very refreshing. I was able to finally connect with some people I’ve only known via twitter and I made even more connections with some really cool people. I wanted to attend last year, but couldn’t because of the cost and timing. I was excited when I found out I was going to be going this year! I’ve come away from this conference challenged, equipped, refreshed, and ready to take on whatever else comes along.

Yes. I’m thankful for my job.

Thank You, Twitter!

A few years ago, I announced that Twitter is my friend. And why not? It was because of Twitter that Aiden and I received personalized autographs from one Coach Tom Crean.

Since then, Twitter has opened up many doors for me. I’ve been able to interact with people all over the world. I even learned about major news events (like the killing of bin Laden) before they were announced via the cable news networks. And I’ve gotten some pretty cool free stuff thanks to sites like Klout. And even though I was slightly disappointed that I wasn’t picked to participate in the #Social46 at the Super Bowl, it’s been amazing to see how that tool has helped make our fine city look even finer with their ability to connect visitors with important information (once the brouhaha about who was “in” and who was “out” finally died a death that was much too slow in my opinion). And I got over my disappointment in about 5.3 seconds.

I’ve also had the opportunity to do some pretty cool things, yet I had to pass them up for one reason or another. It was Twitter that gave me the opportunity to watch the last-ever landing of a Space Shuttle (still kicking myself for passing on that one). I also won two free tickets to the ChaCha New Year’s Eve party in Indianapolis. I hear it was the hottest party in the region. At least, that’s what the organizers and promoters said.  Had to pass on that, too, because of a variety of reasons.

But my appreciation for Twitter has been taken to a much deeper level during this, the first month of 2012. A few weeks ago, I read a tweet from someone I’ve been following for several years. Because of that tweet, I sent in an application.

Because of that tweet, I have a new job.

Because of that tweet, my first day as a team member of an Indianapolis-based SEO company is a week from today!

Social media gets all kinds of criticism. Some of it is warranted (like when CBS “broke” that Joe Paterno had died…even though he hadn’t…yet). Some of it is from people who just don’t get it. But there’s some pretty redemptive qualities to social media. It helped save a man’s soul. It also helped get me a job.

Thank you, Twitter. A few years ago, I declared you my “friend.” I should probably announce that you’re my new BFF now, huh? I’m looking forward to what other magic you might surprise me with in the coming year(s).

Updating the Blogroll (finally)

The blogroll (on the right) had fallen into disrepair. It was time to update it. So, I’ve started the task.

I’m sure there’s a blog or two that I’ve missed. If yours should be included on my blogroll and it isn’t, I promise it’s nothing personal. Just let me know about the omission and I’ll correct it.

Of course, it would be nice if you reciprocated and included my blog on your blogroll. I’m just sayin’… 😀