Mari Smith's The New Relationship Marketing

“Anyone you want to contact or with whom you want to connect in the world is only one, two or three people away from anyone you know.”

Facebook expert and marketing guru Mari Smith has become almost ubiquitous in the world of podcasts and new media marketing. Her peculiar Scottish-Canadian drawl makes her stand out when you hear her, and you remember it always. Her bubbly good sense and her constantly on-key message – that you need to be using social media to advance yourself - are enormously attractive, and so I was keen to read her book The New Relationship Marketing. I was not disappointed. It is one of those books that keeps you up at night with a pen and pad in hand (OK, in some areas I am still an old-fashioned guy) writing down ideas and methods for improving your current and future projects. Mari Smith has improved my world immeasurably, and I have only instituted one or two ideas from the book. I must have written down four dozen.

One of Smith’s strategies is an unashamed social climbing, of attending events and finding out where the great and the good hang out. In a high-tech world, she claims, it is increasingly important to be one of those who gets out of the house and meets people in the flesh. We are increasingly in the minority and, like good old-fashioned hand-written letters,  our rare appearance makes us figures of genuine interest and excitement. We need to be more active and discerning about the relationships we cultivate, she advises:

“Cast your net wide: whom on this planet would you really, truly love to meet and have as an influencer in your life?”

Who indeed? I am not letting on who mine are because it’s a delicious mix of the sublime and the ridiculous. But I think it’s interesting that she says the people we focus on cultivating should be influencers. That is, not just objects upon which to foist our own ambition and cunning. These are people we should learn from, listen to and try to help. This is a new kind of networking, one championed by other interesting people like the wonderful Keith Ferrazzi, or Monroe Mann.

Increasingly, we sell our products ideas and brands through relationships, and not by shouting through megaphones. Smith advocates a terribly old-school idea of reputation management, In an era when people seem to see fit to broadcast their truculence, bad moods and petty personal vendettas for all the universe to see, she advises considering carefully every single thing you put on social media and online. Oh that her advice were taken more broadly! Every time we put something online it is there forever, and it is saying something about us:

“Always take a moment or two to ask yourself: How do I want people to perceive my company and my brand?”
Smith with Guy Kawasaki

Each of the brilliantly helpful and practical chapters ends with a summary of its main points, making this a very easy book to revise and put into practice. The summary from Chapter 8, for example, includes:

“Learn the art of the retweet by placing the author and your short comment at the end of your tweet.
Create an easy-to-manage editorial calendar to maximize the consistency of your quality content.”

Smith's Contact Circles

Mari Smith’s The New Relationship Marketing is one of the most tremendously helpful books I have read in a long time, and I know that I will be using it as inspiration and reference for the next couple of years. It is a worthy investment to remind you that you need to think of yourself as a brand and remember that all that you do online is building that same brand. If you are trying to attract people’s interest, then this book is essential reading.  Have a taste by downloading a sample chapter from The New Relationship Marketing and checking out this interview with her on Social Media Examiner, then look at the book trailer to hear her gorgeous accent.

Kuan Yin's chant and other things merciful

Walter Mason speaking on creativity as a spiritual practice, 27th April, 4pm

This month I am the guest speaker at Laurie Levine's spiritual service at Gordon Library on Sydney's North Shore. (The Service is in Meeting Room 2 - please note that the meeting rooms are to the left, before you enter the main library - just turn down and walk along the winding corridors to the very end and you'll find us).

The event starts at 4pm on Sunday the 27th of April.

Laurie has been running these inclusive spiritual services for many years, and they are inspired by New Thought and the teachings of the famous Michael Bernard Beckwith, of The Secret fame. The emphasis is on positive, uplifting community with no dogmas and open to all.

There will be guided mediations, fabulously inspiring music and, not least of all, a talk from me on the subject of Creativity as a Spiritual Practice.

I will be talking about how creativity is a gift given to all and why we should make the most of our talents. 

It will be a terrific afternoon, and I would love to invite you along!

Entry is by donation.

What If: Shirley MacLaine on spiritual questions and spiritual hunger

Time to come clean: I am a devoted fan of Shirley MacLaine. I can trace it back to the precise moment. It was when she went astral travelling while plunged in a Peruvian hot spring in the TV mini-series version of Out on a Limb. I was 17 years old and I thought "Yep, Shirley is my kind of people." I had grown up on a diet of Lobsang Rampa, Swami Satyananda and Reader's Digest books about the unknown, so I responded instantly to Shirley’s brand of mysticism.

Shirley meditates in the 80s

I remember that Videodrama on Oxford St. had a VHS version of the series, and it was one of the first things I made Mr. Noodlies watch when I met him. It was my test. Of course, he loved it. And years later when it came out on DVD I bought it instantly and have watched it over and over.

I also went on to read all of Shirley’s books, and absolutely love them. I am always itching for the next installment, which brings me to her latest, What If...

Shirley's books have become increasingly idiosyncratic, which is only right for someone who sells books by the truckload. She can publish whatever she damn well pleases. And so I always thrill to see how she has further deconstructed the forms of modern publishing - Shirley is a truly postmodern writer.

What If... is a series of observations, questions and musings on just about anything that comes into her head. It is stream-of-consciousness joy ride through Ms. MacLaine's psyche, and as such it is wonderfully entertaining and a perfect book to pick up and put down at random. There is not much in the way of thematic development, so you can read the book however you please. Shirley made it so.

Shirley MacLaine in Downton Abbey

Some of the brief chapters include musings on:

What if sex isn't meant to be monogamous?
What if spiritual hunger is what we are suffering from?
What if people were more like dogs?

That last one is particularly noteworthy because in recent years Shirley MacLaine has become increasingly eccentric on the subject of dogs. She published a book in which she claimed psychic communication with her beloved dogs, and she is grumpy that commercial flights won't let her travel with them anymore. She even dislikes doing Downton Abbey because she can't take her dogs to England, and she hates being away from them. 

"What if something happens to my dog Terry? I would get another dog immediately, and wait for Terry to come back. I believe the life she has led has been too pleasurable for her to ignore."

Yes folks, MacLaine is talking doggy reincarnation here. And as we all know, reincarnation is one of her hot topics.  But it's not all dogs. Along with fabulous gossip about the old days in Hollywood and what it's like to work on Downton Abbey, Shirley Maclaine also gets downright Zen at times, posing all kinds of Delphic mind-benders that take up a single page:

"What if we simply need to ask the right questions instead of trying to find all the right answers? I try to think of answers as springboards to more questions."

Yep, that's a whole page. Plenty of white space around that one. For notes, I guess. And more questions. Further:

"What if people stopped repeating themselves? There would be a lot of unused air and still practically no communication."

I'm still puzzling through what that one actually means. Some kind of koan, I guess. At least it's the only text that appears on page 140, so plenty of room to record my own musings on the subject. Shirley gets all crazy on the matter of time, a recurring theme in the books I've been reading recently. For example, she thinks her beloved dog Terry will pre-incarnate, i.e. be born as another puppy before she dies. She says that this kind of thing is the way of the future as more of us grow to learn that all time occurs instantaneously anyway. There must me some seriously weird discussions going on in the MacLaine household. I wish I was there.

She suggests that show business is a form of shamanism (how I ache for her to do a whole book on that premise!) and then goes on to reflect on her years in Vegas with Sammy and Dean. Indeed, despite its spiritualistic moments this book is largely an exercise in affectionate nostalgia. She also reflects on ageing, and glories in her role as cantankerous and opinionated old bat, not unlike the character she plays in the brilliant Downton Abbey. She is very much an advocate for the aged, and for allowing yourself to look naturally older. It is a concept she celebrates, and she deserves enormous praise for this aspect alone. She also decries the ghastliness and indignity of modern travel:

"What if we stopped the screening of airplane passengers right now - suddenly - all at once, and the thugs standing around (TSA) went home...What if we were suddenly respected for being innately honest and peaceful without the need to prove we didn’t shove anything up anywhere?"

Brava, Miss MacLaine! After Marianne Williamson has been elected to Congress I want you to nominate for president.

The rest of What If...goes on to explore a delightfully random series of questions, including politics, DNA and, inevitably, enlightenment. It's a quite entertaining read, frequently very funny and always bordering on camp. Treat yourself, and become a part of Shirley MacLaine's eternal journey.

Kuan Yin around the world: some interesting links

Kuan Yin in Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

A couple of weeks ago I bought Alana Fairchild's gorgeous Kuan Yin Oracle Deck at Heavenly Energies in Willoughby, and I have been loving its beautiful imagery and heavely words ever since.
I have been working with Kuan Yin for the past twenty years, so have been interested to note a resurgence of interest in her recently in the West.
Here is a collection of interesting links that I have discovered recently all discussing Kuan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion:

I will be covering the popularity of Kuan Yin in Vietnam (where her name is Quan The Am) at my upcoming one-day course at Sydney WEA called Vietnam: 4 Cities. You can enrol online here.

Opening Up with BelindaGrace

This week has been a strange one, in so many ways.

As always I have found myself absolutely snowed under with work, and struggling to stay on top of the enormous quantities of email and other messages I receive daily. I have yet to find an effective email management system. All of the ones I hear about involve putting filters into place, but I'm afraid with me it's out of sight, out of mind, so I am terrified of sending anyone into oblivion. And so they add up in my inbox, ticking over nicely at the rate of 40-50 a day...

I have also been investigating matters psychic these couple of weeks, inspired in part by spending so much time with the gorgeous Barry Eaton, a psychic intuitive and radio host who has just published his second book, No Goodbyes. At the same time I was reading Barry's accounts of his psychic explorations and attending his fascinating talks while he was in Sydney, I was listening on my iPod to people such as Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz and the wonderful Sonia Choquette. Both women are advocates of intuition, energetic healing and psychic possibilities.

So on Friday, at the last minute, I decided to call up and book a spot at the all-day workshop of my old pal, clairvoyant, healer and author BelindaGrace. Today we drove down to Wollongong to attend the workshop at a gorgeous place in the Wollongong CBD called Lotus Wellbeing.

BelindaGrace and Walter Mason

BelindaGrace was at her stunning best, and there was a wonderful feeling in the booked-out room. She was resplendent in a gold and purple salwar kameez she purchased at a recent trip to India.

Suffice to say I had some incredible experiences at the workshop under Belinda's guidance, including having a nasty migraine clear up after Mr. Noodlies applied some healing techniques to the top of my head.

I simply had to buy BelindaGrace's boxed set You Are Clairvoyant which contains book, oracle cards and meditation CD. Watch out world - before long my skill set will expand to include mind reading!

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