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Dan Blank: Publishing, Innovation & the Web —

Come Visit Me at WeGrowMedia.com

by Dan Blank on July 5, 2011

In the past year, I have moved most of my activities over to WeGrowMedia.com, where I speak to writers about building their brands, and publishers on engaging their communities.

Please visit me there!


Never Stop Proving Yourself

by Dan Blank on March 21, 2011

In the past year, I went from having a corporate job of 10 years, to starting my own business. It’s a fascinating experience, being “out on your own,” although I have found that this isn’t really the case. My days are filled with loads of amazing people.

Dan Blank As a business owner, one thing I feel is the need to constantly prove myself. In many ways, this is the nature of running a business, that for every client, customer, or student that I want to work with, I have to start from scratch and 100% prove to them that the value I offer will have a specific and measurable benefit on their life or business. That no one is entering into a partnership with me lightly – they have limited resources, limited time, and very specific needs.

When I worked in the corporate world, my role stretched across divisions and brands. Even though I reported into one specific person, I worked on projects for quite a few different departments, each of whom had specific expectations of me. That experience is still a world apart from having to 100% prove yourself before you can agree on moving forward with a project.

I spoke to a lot of business owners before venturing out on my own, and one thing I heard again and again is that their biggest challenge is managing their emotions. That a slow period in business could turn into the end of a business if they get cold feet. That many entrepreneurs get tired of having to constantly prove themselves with each new client, just to land a contract, let alone do the work.

For myself, I have loved this process so far. And like all things, a good sports analogy helps explain things…

When you “make the team” as an athlete, that is a huge validation. You have proven yourself to the organization and they are committing their resources and banking their future on you. But making the team is not enough. As an athlete, you have to prove your value in every single game. Every loss is a threat to your career. Every win is achieved because of hundreds of hours of practice, and balancing dozens of variables during the course of a very intense game. You have to 100% prove yourself to every team you face. Your success or failure is calculated in hard numbers, and printed for the world to see.

And that is a lot of pressure for anyone, even for people who “thrive” under pressure.

While I have always dreamed of work/life balance, I am coming to accept that there is none, and that any pressure that comes with running your own business is necessary and healthy. That the need to constantly prove yourself forces you to grow, innovate, build your skills, be relevant and evolve.

That this process of constantly proving yourself makes my business stronger, and the services I offer to others, become even more valuable.

973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank | dan@danblank.com | WeGrowMedia.com


Must You Be Ruthless in Order to Succeed?

by Dan Blank on March 16, 2011

I watched the movie The Social Network again the other night, and found myself considering Facebook’s success. As the movie depicts it, there was a certain amount of ruthlessness involved to ensure it succeeded.

At first, many considered the movie to be character assassination, targeted at Mark Zuckerberg. But then I heard feedback that many people felt that the movie portrayed him as a role model. That the lesson was: in order to succeed on the scale of Facebook, that you need to have true vision, be dedicated, and protect it at all costs. That Mark’s actions as portrayed in the movie were a necessary step in order to achieve greatness.

I began thinking of other companies’ stories of success; that stories of ruthlessness were a part of the Microsoft and Apple legends. Product ideas were stolen and competitors were aggressively nudged out of the marketplace.

Wandering the streets of New York City yesterday, I thought about all of this. Is New York City ruthless? It has certainly been described as a tough city, and as the song goes, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

I began observing the people I passed on the streets. These were not ruthless people. At least, not all of them! They were an incredible mix of different people, all living their lives. They were making a conscious choice to live in a city that is expensive, crowded, and affords little personal space. And yet, many were doing it with grace. Oftentimes, I get inspired by those I pass on the streets in New York City. That they are builders and creators.

As I build my own business at We Grow Media, I am considering these things. And I can’t help but feel that ruthlessness is the easy way out, and too easily justified. That a truly visionary business, a truly confident business succeeds because it chooses to do right by the communities it serves, and those whole play a part of its success. That the story of a company represents the values of a company. Not what they SAY their values are, but what they actually do.

Any action can be justified as being “necessary” for a greater purpose. Most of the worst actions in the history of the world have been justified in exactly this way.

I was on Jane Friedman’s website last night, and she shared this quote:

“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.”

This is taken by a song from The Smiths. And I loved the quote – that the brave are not always the ones who lash out at others, they are more likely those who are patient enough to use their power sparingly.

As individuals and businesses experience the trials and tribulations of growth, I feel as though this is ideal to achieve. That being ruthless is the easy way out, and one the usurps the real value that is being created. That being kind takes far more bravery, and builds a far more valuable business.

Maybe this is why I will never be Mark Zuckerberg, and head a company worth billions of dollars. But I’m okay with that.


Registration Now Open: Build Your Author Platform

by Dan Blank on February 18, 2011

Registration is now open for my 8 week online course for writers: Build Your Author Platform.

If you are a writer who needs to build your brand online, and learn how to engage a community of readers, this course may be for you. Registration is open until Wednesday February 23, and the course begins March 2.

Full details here.


Writers: Build Your Online Platform

by Dan Blank on February 7, 2011

I have been very focused on understanding the goals of writers, and working to provide steps for them to build their online platform? What does this mean? To make solid steps towards their goals of engaging an audience, and building a body of work that has an effect on the world.

At my blog at WeGrowMedia.com, I’ve recently shared a few posts on the topic:

I was lucky enough to spend the past few weeks surrounded by writers and publishers. My speaking scheduling had me at three events:

  • Writer’s Digest Conference: I presented the following sessions: Branding Yourself, How to Use Social Media to Get Noticed and Sell Your Work, and Blogging as a Platform and Publicity Machine.
  • Digital Book World: I did a three hour workshop for publishers: Content Strategy: How to Serve Your Community by Developing Great Online Content
  • AWP Conference: I was on the only social media panel at an event with 7,000 writers and publishers: The Art and Authenticity of Social Media: Using Online Tools to Grow a Community. I was also part of a three hour workshop for small presses and authors: Marketing your books online: Virtual Touring, Social Media, and Promotion in the Digital Age

And all of this has been fueling a project I have been building for nearly a year now, and is now available: an online course for writers: Build Your Author Platform. It’s an intensive 8-week course that I am very excited about!

You can keep up to date with my blog posts and activities by signing up for my newsletter.

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Remaining Relevant and Building a Legacy

by Dan Blank on December 31, 2010

Three posts I shared on my blog at WeGrowMedia.com share common themes:

In each I explore the value of what we create everyday, and how it affects future generations. As 2010 comes to a close, a year that saw profound changes in my life, I am more excited than ever about the future of publishing.

Thanks for an amazing year, looking forward to 2011!


Why an Unconference is a Powerful Event Format

by Dan Blank on December 13, 2010

On my blog at WeGrowMedia.com, I take a look at an unconference, explaining what it is and giving an intimate look at one I attended recently: Book Camp NYC. I also shared some lessons I took away from it, including:

“Sometimes, conferences can be so complex, they get in the way of the value they are trying to share. The best parts of live conferences/events are the connections between people, and what happens between the official structure. An unconference such as Book Camp was nothing but that – real conversations between folks, with nothing to get in the way.”

You can read the full post here: Lessons From an Unconference – Book Camp NYC

Have a great day.


The Curation Dilemma for Publishers

by Dan Blank on December 6, 2010

In my blog at WeGrowMedia.com, I explore the differences between curation, collection and experience from the point of view of publishers and media companies. I compare personal collections that we have as hobbies, to a publishers decision on which content to present to their audience. An excerpt:

“The drive for offering ‘more’ is not always the best path. It does not always create something unique. It does not always better serve a target audience. It does not always differentiate you from the competition. It does not always offer something that can’t be found elsewhere. It does not always solve a problem, or fulfill a desire.”

Read the full post here: Digital Publishing: Curation vs Collection vs Experience

Have a great day.
973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank | dan@danblank.com


The Importance of Focusing on Long-Term Value

by Dan Blank on December 1, 2010

Last Thanksgiving, I wrote a post reflecting on what we can learn from the luminaries of the 20th century. This year, I shared some thoughts on how I am working towards my goals, and building something of lasting value:

Giving Thanks – For Our Ability to Shape the Future


What Can Publishers Learn From Pixar

by Dan Blank on December 1, 2010

From my blog at WeGrowMedia.com: In the early 1980’s Disney didn’t know what to do with John Lasseter’s talent, so they let him go. A quarter century later, after co-founding Pixar, he now runs Disney’s animation efforts. Click here for some thoughts on why publishers may want to take note:

Creating the Future of Publishing: Insiders vs Outsiders

Have a great day.
973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank | dan@danblank.com