The Aaron Brazell Train Keeps Rolling

This post is quick and dirty. Sort of a braindump of sorts. I just want to get it out there as I’m coming in to land with the WordPress Bible and doing a delicate dance of travel, and final deadlines.

I’m sitting in Orlando International Airport and processing a lot of thoughts. Saturday, I gave my first keynote at IZEAFest which is an event that is, at it’s core, an opportunity for bloggers and online marketers to extend their reach online. My talk was about Influence and is loosely based around the 8 Traits of Highly Effective Influencers post I wrote back in March.

My goal in the keynote was to provide insights that other speakers might shy away from giving because, in general, people like to be coddled and told what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. I knew going into the session that I might ruffle some feathers, but I love the online community so much that I thought it would be a disservice to bring a message that enabled destructive behavior. We don’t need no rockstars, especially rockstars with no substance. What we do need are people who recognize the powerful principles that have made people influencers for thousands of years. There is nothing new under the sun.

I do want to expound on this concept of transparency, a topic I addressed in my keynote. Transparency is absolutely essential, but transparency only makes it easier to see inside. You have to be transparent to sell services, business and trust. However, if the content of your character sucks, then transparency only ensures that the world will see it. Transparency solves no problems if you suck as a person or your product sucks because it just does. It may be better to worry about your DNA then worry about making sure the world can see it. Just saying.

You can see some outtakes here.

There’s been a bit of buzz about the session that you can read too.

IzeaFest 2009 - 55Of course, my new friend Missy Ward made sure I met Murray Newlands: “Oh you need to do an interview with Aaron Brazell!” – I’ll make sure that info is out and about when it happens as well.

In about a week, I’m on my way back to Las Vegas for Blog World Expo and to speak at WordCamp Las Vegas. In case you’re wondering, the topic is a bit clever – Star Wars Quotes: The WordPress Genius They Are (think Yoda’s voice) where I’ll be sharing some guiding principles around WordPress, open source and the community. So if you’re in town for the show, stop by and say hi.

Finally, regarding speaking… I have spoken 28 times in 2009. Universally, I am not paid to speak. In some cases, like with Blog World Expo and IZEAFest, expenses are covered and I’m grateful. Generally, however, they are not. Most of these events are local things and constitute no real travel time, but still impact the timeline I have available for client work, etc.

Beginning in 2010, I’ll be looking to have some sort of fee structure involved with speaking opportunities. While I will always leave the door open for unpaid opportunities where it makes sense, it makes no real sense to do 28 speaking engagements in a year and not get paid for it. I want to provide that heads up as we’re entering the final stretch of 2009 and I’m lining up opportunities for 2010. If you do want me to speak to your company, industry event, or community group, please email me at aaron@technosailor.com so we can start working those details out.

Until then, follow me elsewhere in the interwebz:

WordPress Bible Book Tour

From the moment I announced that I would be writing the WordPress Bible, friends and fans all over the world have been asking me to come to their city to do an event. Clearly, I would love to do such a thing, but without tremendous support it is not in the cards.

However, more recently, as I’ve just reached my 50% writing deadline, I’ve thought more seriously about going on the road next year after the book goes on sale. (It’s slated currently for Feb 22, 2010 and you can pre-order the book now on Amazon for $31.49
– aff).
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So here’s the deal. I am working on a sponsorship that would provide me a vehicle for a round-the-country 2-3 week book tour in late March, early April. I would like to visit 12-15 cities around the U.S. and Canada. Ideally, these are cities where there are a core of WordPress users and, ideally, where there has been a WordCamp (this denotes interest in the topic). Some of these cities might be:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • NYC
  • Boston
  • Toronto
  • Nashville
  • Columbus
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Seattle

Each city needs to have a host who can organize the event, take care of expenses, etc. I would like to be able to host an open bar/reception time as well so sponsors probably need to be raised. Don’t get me wrong, this type of thing is probably not a break-the-bank kind of event. We need a venue (bookstore likely), venue (reception), maybe sponsors, my expenses, and someone to get people out.

If you’re interested in hosting in these or other cities, send me an email at aaron@technosailor.com.

Own Your Travel Itinerary with TripIt

In October 2006, a new service appeared on the web that promised to make it easy to manage all the fine travel details of a trip. As a frequent traveler, I signed up for TripIt in November of 2006, shortly after they launched, and have never looked back.

The concept is really simple. A traveler is headed to Austin, Texas (as I will be for SXSW Interactive in a few weeks). He books his flight on Southwest airlines and gets an email confirmation with ticket reservation, itinerary, etc. Sight unseen, he forwards this email to plans@tripit.com and moves on to reserving his rental car and hotel.

On the backend, TripIt recieves the forwarded confirmation email and knows exactly how to read it into their master database. The email can even be forwarded from an unregistered email address which you can claim later.

The beautiful next step is the organizing of all this information. TripIt sorts your travel plans out into “Trips” and will give you everything in chronological order. This traveler going to SXSW, for instance, has a chronological listing that shows his departing flight, his rental car pickup, his hotel information and his return flight. As a bonus, Tripit gives him a Google Map of the area you’re staying on.

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Now, I don’t like just plugging services for the sake of plugging services. You can go to Mashable if you want to be filled with nonsense. However, TripIt actually is a useful web product, but more than that, it’s a useful mobile product. If you have a smartphone (Blackberry, Treo, iPhone, etc) then TripIt becomes infinitely more useful.

For mobile users, you can access all of your itineraries by browsing to m.tripit.com, something that has become the defacto reference point for all of my travelling and checking in. It literally, if you’re a smartphone user, eliminates the need for a stack of trifolded paper printouts from 6 different reservations.

If you really want to own your travel itinerary and you own an iPhone, consider buying the “TravelTracker – with Tripit” iPhone app. While everything about TripIt is completely free, this app costs $19.99.

5 Airlines Bringing Geek Chic

Traveling soon? If you’re a geek, you have certain things that are important to you in an airline. They need to be accessible, approachable. Preferably they have wifi or some kind of gadget-sexiness happening. They engage bloggers and go the extra mile to support the new media ecosystem. They understand the economy of favors and that if folks are taken care of, the airlines themselves will be taken care of.

As a frequent traveler, I know the airlines that match up to my “geek chic” likes. In no particular order…

JetBlue

I don’t get to travel JetBlue all that often because they fly out of Dulles, which is a good hour away with favorable traffic. However, when I flew out of Boston to San Francisco last month, JetBlue was available on Twitter to help me navigate the painful ticket lines and get me to my gate on time. The airline manager at Boston Logan was contacted to ensure I got where I needed to go.

Virgin America

Another airline that, at this time, flies only out of JFK and Dulles on the east coast is Virgin America. I flew Virgin America last year to BlogWorld and they were new – in fact, I covered them briefly before they launched. With in-seat media centers and USB ports at every seat, it was a geek paradise. They were planning internet access at the time, but it was not yet available. I’m not sure if it is now, but I’m due for another flight on VA to see exactly what they are up to these days.

Southwest Airlines

For a discount airline, Southwest may have the best crossover between traditional benefits and new benefits. They highly value online participation by rewarding early check-ins online with better seat opportunities. In addition, they are very active on Twitter and can be found at many new media events. Besides that, they have a hub in Baltimore so they are the locals.

How can you not like an airline that, at Blog World Expo this year, handed me a bunch of peanuts to distribute for free to US Airways flight-mates that have to pay for every stinking thing on the inferior airline?

American Airlines

Less Robust, but still moving in the right direction, is American Airlines who recently announced wifi on their flights. According to Engadget, wifi will run $10-13, but if you want to surf the web on those cross country trips, AA is the airline to do it on.

Air Canada

If you’re in Canada, or plan to fly there, you may want to consider Air Canada. Though not all flights have the in-seat media centers, many of the larger flights do. The Media Center is not quite as good as Virgin Americas in my opinion, but in flight entertainment always is better than talking to a talkative old woman going to see her grandson.

Bonus: United Airlines

United isn’t all that great of an airline, if I’m honest, but they do offer one sexy feature for plane geeks. You can listen to Air traffic control on Channel 9 of all flights. Boring, yet entirely interesting all at one time.

Weekend Productivity Tip: TripIt Calendar Feeds

I just posted my August travel over on my personal blog. If your schedule lines up, give me a shout and let’s get together and talk about WordPress, or tech world gossip, Lijit, or Technosailor.com, or anything. Doesn’t matter. I like meeting people.

But as I’m coming in to land on this Friday, I thought I’d leave you with a productivity trip. If you don’t use Tripit and travel a lot, as I do, then shame on you. Start using it. You won’t be sorry.

If you keep all your travel arrangements in Tripit, you can of course use it from the web or mobile device like a Blackberry or Treo, but you can also pull all your travel arrangements directly into iCal, Google Calendar, Outlook or any calendar you use that supports the ICS data format (almost all do).

Here’s a look at what my calendar looks like for August as I’ve subscribed to my Tripit Calendar.

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Have a great weekend.

Bonus Productivity Tip in regards to Tripit: Using Tripit is as simple as forwarding confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com. Really. That’s it. 99% of the time, Tripit can parse those confirmation emails and plot your entire trip for you.

August Travels

Crazy August. The only good part is that I get to escape the crazy heat of the mid-atlantic for a good portion of the month. And I don’t really mind travelling.

Here’s the rundown. Time will be limited but if you’re around, give me a shout. Would love to grab a beer, catch up if we’ve met, get acquainted if we haven’t.

  • August 5-6: Detroit, MI – Ford Motor Company tour and blogger outreach.
  • August 12-15: Boston, Mass. – Working vacation to see the Red Sox and meet up with some of the local social media heads. There’s a party Thursday night thats open if you RSVP. Or maybe we grab coffee?
  • August 15-17: San Francisco, CA – WordCamp SF. I’ve been there for two years straight and this year isn’t going to be different. Also speaking at the event on the issue of Discoverability.
  • August 24-26: Boulder, CO – Making a brief stint over to the DNC festivities. Otherwise, hanging with the Lijit folks.

Give me a shout if our schedules might line up.

SXSW Guest Posting

ShayDC.jpgIn just over 36 hours, I’ll be boarding a flight to Austin, TX. This will be my second trip to SXSW – last year was a mixed bag for me but then the whole trip started out on a bad note and it through the rest of the week into a funk. This year, I’m anticipating better results and a better time.

Meanwhile, I’ve asked Shana Glickfield and Chris Parandian to guest post here while I’m gone. You’ll get sporadic posts from me as well.

Shana is better known as the DC Concierge and is an absolute genius when it comes to “things to do in DC”. Chris is the CEO of MobileDiner, a DC-based company working in the mobile space, particularly as it comes to introducing new mobile technologies to enterprise business.

mobilediner.jpgNeither of these folks have been instructed as to what to write. I leave it up to them. Maybe a fresh perspective or topic might be a healthy little distraction for a week. Also, if you’re from DC and making the pilgrimage to Austin this week, make sure you come out the the bloggers lounge on Tueday at 3pm CST to the live recording of District of Corruption. It will be the live from Austin open-mic edition and we want to talk to you on the air.

Thanks again Shana and Chris for filling in for me while I’m gone.

Photo Credits: Photo of Shana provided by Shana; Photo of Chris via Jonny Goldstein

The 2007 Travel Awards

I have never traveled in my life as much as I have this past year. I have taken 12 trips and I think I’m done for the year – though I do think I may need a Toronto trip before Christmas. At any rate, I can look back at various trips and point to them as memorable for one reason or another. So, I present to you the 2007 Travel Awards. These awards are only for my own trips but I’d love to hear about your trips as well.

  • Longest Trip: Toronto, 9 days, May 26-June 3. This trip encompassed Mesh Conference as well as b5 business in Toronto
  • Shortest Trip: 1 Day (overnight), Toronto, Aug 23-24
  • Most Enjoyable Trip: Gnomedex 7
  • Least Enjoyable Trip: SXSW ’07 – The Hampton Inn was the beginning of a bad bad trip
  • Trip I least wanted to go on that I enjoyed the most: PodCamp Philly
  • Trip I most wanted to go on that I enjoyed the least: PodCamp Boston 2
  • Best Networking Event: Blog World Expo
  • Most drunken event: San Francisco, January 2007
  • Most Expensive Trip: Blog World Expo, Las Vegas

Did you travel at all this year? What are your awards?

Toronto for Mesh

I”ve had a few people ask so I figured I’d answer here. Yes, I am going to be in Toronto for Mesh next week. Actually, I’m around all week. I get into town Saturday morning and return to Baltimore on Friday, June 1.

Really looking to line some meetings up while I’m in TO, so ping me if you’re interested. At this point, Monday looks to be my most wide-open evening.