Every month I try to pull together local’s to a TweetUp, bring entrepreneurs together, network and share their stories, it’s something I love to do. Bringing people together, sometimes we get to help each other, teach other and build one another up. You never know what’s going to happen and who is going to show up, but that’s the best part for me.

Today I met some new cool people, Alan & Keldie Jameison, a young lady named Raj Thandhi and Curtis McHale. The regulars were there which is always a blessing because they love these get togethers as much as I do. Today we met at a local place called Gourmet Gallery in the Immel Plaza Abbotsford. Great little place with free WiFi too : )

I took a few of pictures to share with you, enjoy:


Raj, Keldie & Curtis




Alan, Arno, Raj


Alan, Arno, Jim, Raj & Keldie


Raj, Keldie, Curtis, Chris, Ronda

You’ll notice I haven’t written lately, not because I don’t want to but because I have been spending time with people offline. I’ve learned in my 51+ years that you will never get or reach your dreams without others helping you long the way. That means spending time with those who have invested in you, they may have walked through dark times with you, they may have rode the storm out with you. I have been connecting and reconnecting with a few of those friends that I haven’t seen for some time.

I have also learned that it takes work to build relationships, it takes time too. Spending all your time online can get you disconnected with those who aren’t here with you, they don’t spend the same time or have the same interest in the online world. Try to connect offline too, I love seeing a pair of eyeballs and getting the body language, people are so special when they express themselves and you can see the passion let alone hear it. Sometimes, OK many times things get lost in translation because you can’t see or hear TEXT, too much room for bad interpretation.

Today I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in three years, we used to work together, I left the organization and got busy, too busy in fact that I forgot to stay connected offline too. I had a great time, it was not only special but energizing, I got to listen to what he wants to do and I got share what I have been doing here online with you. He is going to some great things, online too, and if I’m lucky I’ll get to be a part of his work.

Relationships are just as much hard work here online as they are offline, they take commitment, patience and love. Are you connecting offline, are you giving people the best you have to give that aren’t here online? Social Media is about relationships in much the same way as they are when you aren’t on FaceBook, Twitter and what have you. Balance is important.

Don’t forget to connect offline too!

Today was a great day, if you haven’t attended a local TweetUp in your area you really are losing out. We met at The Bat Cave  (known as Beans & Leaves on Ventura in Abbotsford) where they serve great coffee and pastries. The opportunity to meet people face-to-face that you chat with online makes the experience even that more special. If you are unemployed or self-employed you really need to get to these TweetUps for the networking alone, you just never know who you will meet and what may come from that meeting. Heck your next job might be hidden at a TweetUp.

I had the privilege of hanging with Chris Penner & Ronda Payne, it’s always a blast when they show up…never a dull moment. But today I met  new people, Rick & Kathleen Rake, very cool people and they have so much to offer so you should follow them on Twitter and get to know them.

Here are the Twitter handles:

1.) Chris Penner – @chrispenner

2.) Ronda Payne – @rondapayne

3.) Rick Rake – @rickrake

4.) Kathleen Rake – @kathleenrake

Tell them Owen sent you.

Chris Penner is a local Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams here in my community.

Ronda Payne is a writer here, you can hire her anytime she is awesome.

Rick Rake is the former Editor of the Abbotsford News and is now retired.

Kathleen Rake is the principle of Click Media Works and her passion is Wine – look out Gary Vaynerchuk! Her Wine website is called Between The Vines

Do find yourself sitting at the computer for hours on end chatting, writing, posting, researching and or just surfing the NET? It has occurred to me that I spend roughly 10 – 12 hours a day here online, I like to believe I’m actually getting something done or helping someone with whatever challenge they might be having. What is it that makes me want to be here for you hour after hour. I mean, there are so many things I could be doing but no, I sit here and indulge in my passion. Is this smart or am I missing something?

I spend most of my time on my Blog, then I spend considerable time in Twitter Search, Twitter itself, FriendFeed and it’s Search, FaceBook has been getting more of my time lately with it’s efforts to be more like FriendFeed. If I had to choose one over the other, I would have to say Twitter is the most appealing for me because it’s as Real-Time as you can get. So that got me to wondering, just because a Social Media Network has 50 million or 300 million user accounts doesn’t really mean it’s the favorite or the best does it? You see I’m addicted to Real-Time, therefore I’m online looking for information of value, most of it is more than 24 hours old, but the juicy stuff is current as seconds ago. I use Google Reader to track RSS Subscriptions but Twitter is faster to me, and I get information as it happens for the most part there.

So, if you could only pick one Social Media Network, which one would you pick? As much as it pains me I would have to pick Twitter as of this writing, FriendFeed has been my choice but for effectiveness and real-time information Twitter is it for me today.

I want to hear from you, leave your answer in the comments area below please.

What’s your favorite Social Media Network & why?

chrisovernightWe all want things to happen quickly, we all want them to happen without too much effort, and we all don’t want to wait. I think we would all being lying if we didn’t think this now and then, it’s human nature, we want what we want and we want the thing to happen easily. I’m generalizing of course, but I would have to be foolish to believe everyone has the same motives and thinks exactly the same way as me.

We all have our stuff, our baggage so to speak, we justify our situation and have enough excuses to choke a horse as to why nothings changed. I’m guilty of this, well, I used to be guilty of this. What I love about people the most, is the stories, the hardships they had to work through and overcome, what they learned through those hardships. Most of all, I’ve learned that everyone has something to offer, it’s up to you to decide what value they have on that offering.

I have the privilege of speaking to 500 people this weekend, I’ll be sharing about what I do and what I’ve learned on my journey. My story is not that different from yours, but it is my story, may it encourage you and may you learn from it.

I’ve been on the Internet for many years now, I’ve had websites but never a Blog. Blog’s remind me of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), they were communities of people learning from each other and sharing what was happening in their life at the time. These systems were the Social Media Networks of the day. I even ran my own BBS for a short while, but found the allure of the Internet to be overwhelming. I’m a technology man, I learned how to use computers when I was in Radio back in the early 80’s, I had learn how to program and use automation systems. You can see my background on the About Owen Page here on my Blog.

I started Blogging about two years ago, I started with another Blog before this one and then started all over with WordPress in a self-hosted environment. I also run a small but modest webhosting company called Billyhost.com for my clients, I wanted to provide the service so my client’s didn’t have to worry about it, it is a value-added service.

I still work crazy long days to make Billyhost.com & my Blog happen, I often wonder if it’s worth all the effort, not from a monetary stand point but from the perspective of, am I helping someone, am I making difference, do I bring value? Don’t get me wrong, I do want to derive revenue through all that I do here online but it’s not my primary focus, helping others is the goal. I have the gift of helps, and I figured this Blog was the perfect way I could help others, answer questions, provide information that may be useful, and most of all encourage and give hope to those feeling alone in the storm.  I try to make myself available to any and all but let’s be honest that’s not realistic, there are only so many hours in a day. On this journey I’ve come to learn that I’m not alone, the good news is there is a way to get through the storm.

My story, my storm. Eight years ago at 43 years of age I suffered a heart attack (March 4th, 2001), I discovered all that I was working for, all that I was trying to accomplish, was for me and me alone. I’ll state upfront, don’t do that, it’s wrong and you won’t have the life you want to have in the long run. Life took on a different meaning for me after that episode, my wife & kids became my focus, people close to me seem to have more value and I just couldn’t stop thinking about those less fortunate than me, those struggling to get through the storm. I am also a Diabetic, I have hearing aids, and I wear Progressive lenses. I’m falling apart at the seams and I’m only 51 years of age! I’ll be 52 November 27th, 2009 : )

Two weeks after my heart attack I was out playing road hockey with the neighborhood kids, 2 hours a day for two weeks before I had to return to my job. I lost 20 pounds! I wasn’t going to let this heart attack beat me, if I was gonna die, it was going to be on my terms (sort of). If you want to succeed you have to think that way, after all, the option of death was not an option at all, so I was gonna make my life count, make it matter. As you can see I’m still with you and it’s October 2009.

Fourteen months ago I found myself unemployed, now I’ve always made money on the side fixing computers and doing consulting but not as a primary source of income. I started Blogging back then because I wanted to take what I knew and what I was doing offline to the web for ease of access, for me and for my customers. I have been doing Social Media for many, many years through different channels, but not like today, we have so many new options and tools at our finger tips. I would have loved to have the networks we have today back in the beginning of my Internet journey.

The problem of being unemployed is only a small part of my storm, you see a year ago I discovered I had a hernia and had to have surgery. I was booked for surgery in October, November, December 2008 and finally January 14th, 2009 I went under the knife. I was out of commission for 6 weeks recovering, by then I had already been established on Social Media Networks like Twitter & FaceBook. Then in July (the 5th,2009) I broke my shoulder, I was doing warp speed down the soccer field chasing a younger fella on a break away, I clipped his back foot and what should have been a tuck & roll was a SPLAT! I shattered the Clavicle at the joint of the shoulder. I was fortunate in the fact that the shoulder wasn’t dislocated or the shattered bones out of position, so I just had to wear an immobilizer for 4 weeks.

After the 4 weeks was up I figured I could get back to normal, wrong, the shoulder wasn’t healing, on October 20th, 2009 I finally got the clearance to resume normal activities, I can do whatever I want.

During the past 14 months I’ve applied and interviewed for many, many, many jobs only to be denied time and time again. My wife works but doesn’t earn a great deal and we can’t live on it, we own a home (well the bank does) and two cars (paid for). My only source of income was the existing clients and what I make here online, it’s not enough so don’t think life is a bed of roses. The challenge with having the surgery and the broken shoulder was I couldn’t do any kind of physical work, that wasn’t good for my self-talk and mental health. If I did land a job it couldn’t be physical work.

I didn’t let that stop me, I wasn’t going to let the health issues beat me, sound familiar? I recognize I can’t overcome all health related issues but I have been able to so far, your situation will be different. During the past 14 months I have spent 8 – 10 hours a day on the Internet, I have been writing and spending time helping others on Social Media Networks. I have been invited to speak at local events, get more consulting opportunities and me & my Blog are considered a resource to help understand Social Media & I.T. Strategic Planning.

I’m still in the storm but it seems to be subsiding, I am learning from it and I’m building all through it. Progress is being made, and I’m really excited about the ambiguity before me. You should be too. Learn to embrace it, embrace the storm because storms always end, they never last forever and you almost always become a better person because of them. The wisdom you acquire is priceless and you will be presented with opportunities to help someone else going through a storm. As I mentioned earlier, the storm is the loneliest place for a person going through it, that’s because it’s for you and only you, and only you can learn from it.

No matter what the storm, no matter what you want from life,  you will pay a price, you will learn to overcome and persevere and you will at times always feel alone. Chris Brogan talks about this in his video called Overnight Success, if you want it bad enough you will certainly pay a price. The good news is, you have freedom of choice, you get to choose. You don’t however, get to decide when you will be at the place you want to be, success always requires time, lots of time, and you will always need the help other people to help you get there….always. You will go through a storm, maybe many storms before you can win, I can’t wait to hear your story, how you suffered and overcame, and how you helped others be better off because you lived.

We all have to ride out the storm and we all have a story to tell….what’s yours?