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Kade Dworkin missed his calling. He should have been a TV or radio show host.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kade for his “meet my followers” series of podcasts in which he gets to know… well, some of his followers on Twitter. The premise is basically this: 140 characters at a time is not the best way to get to know someone. Talking to them live is still a more effective mode of communications.

Not a bad way to get some background info and trivia on me, what I do, and how I do it.

Background notes: We had to stop the interview for a few seconds due to a parrot brawl outside my office. Yes, parrots. Screeching. (True story.)

Click on the above image or here to listen to the interview. Oh, and I may have mentioned a few of you during the interview. Ahem.

*         *         *

One final note about my new Twitter avatar (see below): That’s not a moustache I’m sporting in that photo. It is just a day’s worth of stubble. The stache is more or less an optical illusion.

Now, to illustrate, this is a stache:

See the difference?

So, in closing… Tom Selleck: Moustache. Olivier Blanchard: No moustache.

Update: In case you want to play, below is the complete field guide to typestaches, courtesy of @iPrash and @surekhapillai.

Source: Torweeks.blogspot.com

Carry on.

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You might be surprised to know that I don’t just read blogs and e-articles. I mean… I do. A lot. And below is a list of blogs I have been reading pretty religiously this summer, but I also read books. Real books. Sometimes in analog format (you know… paper, ink and whatnot) and sometimes in digital format via my Nook, which is quickly becoming my trusty companion on long trips and the occasional quiet morning on the beach. (At $149 now, it’s too good to pass up.)

So anyway, without further fanfare, in case you were wondering, here is what my summer reading list looks like:

Blogs (long):

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ by Jeremiah Owyang

http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/ by Geoff Livingston

http://www.conversationagent.com/ by Valeria Maltoni

http://www.brasstackthinking.com/ by Amber Naslund

http://aarongouldagency.com/blog/ by Scott Gould

Blogs (short):

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ by Chris Brogan

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ by Seth Godin

http://kriscolvin.com/ by Kris Colvin

http://3angelsmarketing.com/ by Karima-Catherine

I read lots of other blogs too, but these are the ones I am visiting most often lately.

Magazines (Print, not digital):

Esquire (UK), GQ (France) and Fast Company (US) – or as I call it, the triumvirate. When I can buy enhanced versions of all 3 on iPad, I’ll know that iPad is ready. Before then… Eh. We’ll see.

Here are links in case you want to subscribe:

http://www.gqmagazine.fr/magazine/http://www.esquire.co.uk/http://www.fastcompany.com/

Other occasional reads: Wired, Dwell, Men’s Health, Men’s Vogue, Inc., Runners’ World, Triathlete, GQ (US), National Geographic, ID.

News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/

http://www.lemonde.fr/

http://www.lefigaro.fr/

I keep it simple. Other occasional sources of news (aside from radio and TV): CNN.com, Yahoo, Google.

Books (Print):

Business: Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents, and Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s Inbound Marketing (They’ve been sitting on my desk for a while, waiting to be read. It’s time.)

Fiction: (see images below) Ben Kane’s The Forgotten Legion and The Silver Eagle.

Books (Nook):

William Napier’s Attila trilogy: Attila, The gathering of the Storm, and The Judgement (to be released)

Simon Scarrow’s continuing Eagles series: The Eagle’s Prey and The Eagle’s Prophecy (Not exactly literature, but pretty fun and relaxing beach or poolside reading. Scarrow does a pretty good job with this series. I’m a fan.)

Chuck Palahniuk’s Pygmy: Because a reading list without ChuckyP isn’t much of a reading list.

Mira Grant’s Feed: Zombies and bloggers. Need I say more?

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games: I hear good things.

See? It isn’t all Marketing and Social Media, is it? (I spend all day working with business stuff, marketing, brand management, communications and Social Media, so when I unwind, I like to unplug from the work stuff and read well-written fiction that has nothing to do with twitter, facebook, customer retention and corporate communications.)

Though to be fair, there’s more to it than escapism: The Attila Series are solid leadership books, and so well written that they are already helping me become a better writer. Ben Kane’s stuff deals with the nature of the human spirit and is also superbly written. The rest, I don’t know yet, but I’m sure each book will inspire me to write a few dozen blog posts at least. And there’s something to be said for just turning off the TV, ungoogling yourself, and sitting down with a good book for a few hours.

I will probably be adding more books to this list, but that’s how it’s shaping up so far. Have a great summer of reading. 🙂

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Alain Blanchard - My father

Being a father is such a strange thing to me: On the one hand, it is the most natural thing in the world. I watched both of my children be born. I even delivered my daughter. None of what I’ve ever done as a father ever seemed strained or forced. Fatherhood is a role I have found immediately comfortable and enormously rewarding. Yet… thinking of myself as a father is still something I sometimes have a hard time feeling entirely comfortable with. I guess being a dad to a teenager and a tweenager seems… weird to a man still south of his forties. I still think of myself as a bit of a punk kid, so having to be an example of poise, wisdom, confidence and moral fortitude for my children often feels like a bit of a stretch to me. I barely feel like an adult as it is. Now I have to act like one too?

When I think of what it means to be a father, I think about my own: Alain Blanchard. The stern patriarch. The insanely well educated and successful guy who used to raise an austere eyebrow at me when I fell out of line, and indirectly taught me everything from how to eat lobster to how to tie a tie. The guy I used to race to the far buoy in Cannes and St Tropez when I was a kid. The guy I both loved and feared, hated and respected, looked up to and misunderstood all of my childhood.

He and I are such completely different fathers, it’s hard for me sometimes to think of myself as filling his shoes in any conceivable way. Especially since for all the failures I blamed him for as a child and later as a teenager, I am guilty of three times as many with my own children. As hard as I try, some aspects of this job still escape me on a regular basis. I have to tell you, those little failures drive me nuts. To think that each thing I get wrong as a dad could have a significant impact on the lives of my kids later on is pretty scary. Terrifying even. And yes, I sometimes stay up pretty late thinking about that.

Looking back on the choices my father had to make when I was a kid, I have a much better appreciation now of what he must have gone through than back when I expected him to be… well, perfect. As it turns out, my father wasn’t perfect, but I know he tried as he tries still. Sometimes, he hits the mark. Sometimes, he doesn’t. Oh well. So what. His imperfections are just as valuable to me as the qualities I envy in him. And you know, it isn’t like there’s a book out there with all of fatherhood’s arcane secrets. There is no secret certification out there either. We do what we can with what little we know, and the great irony of fatherhood is that the wisdom we gain from raising children comes when they no longer need us rather than in the beginning, when they need us most. Life is funny that way.

We expect our fathers to be perfect, but the truth is that they aren’t gods. They’re just men, trying to figure out how to not screw this up on a daily basis, and let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Happy Fathers’ Day, everyone. 🙂

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photo by olivier blanchard 2008

photo by olivier blanchard 2008

It isn’t every day that I get to make a difference.

Most days, I am lucky to put out a few fires, return some emails, get some work done and maybe say or write something of value.

But yesterday, I was handed a very precious and unexpected gift, packaged in simple words of genuine thanks and raw excitement.

It doesn’t matter whom or why or how or where. The specifics of the exchange aren’t important. What is important though is this: People came together. People exchanged ideas. People started seeing the world differently. I brought a tiny little match, and together, we turned it into a blazing bonfire.

And that, boys and girls, is the kind of thing that puts a VERY big smile on my face.

There is nothing better than watching a group of folks enthusiastically  and collectively tap into their passion to reconnect with your own.

This brand/business strategy thing I do – it may not seem very important in the grand scheme of things, and most days it’s just busy work like any other job out there, but to the people and organizations I touch, sometimes – it gets to make a profound difference. For me, there is serious magic in that.

Seeing that spark awaken, witnessing those subtle eureka moments roll over a crowd, watching faces beam at the thought of new possibilities, I have to admit that it’s pretty hard to beat.

I am very lucky to be able to do what I do, and I am pretty sure that I will never take any of this for granted.

Thanks so much for being a part of what makes my career path so rewarding. Have a great weekend, everyone. 🙂

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