Questioning Paralysis


I have a lot of questions. Most of them, I keep in my own head and mull over (unlike one of my sons, who blurts his out continuously. I’ve recently concluded that we have very similar minds, but his volume is turned up!)

Questions can lead to paralysis. As in, “until I figure this out completely, I don’t know how to move forward.” Spent a lot of time in that spot in the past. It’s not healthy.

It is possible to have unresolved questions and still move forward. In fact, many of our questions never resolve themselves until we move forward, and learn the answers through experience, not solely via mental gymnastics.

I remember when I started my own business 6+ years ago, I figured I had about 80% clarity on what I was going to do, and the rest would have to come by the marketplace telling me what I should be doing. And, it did (and continues to).

Faith and courage mean taking the next step when the map isn’t entirely clear. <— Click to Tweet

Perhaps the best and most productive resolution for the New Year is to take action, and let the answers come into focus gradually.

Something I’m still learning.

Thank YoUtilities

A couple of days ago, I was on a 3-hour drive from North Jersey to Gettysburg. Anyone in the Jersey area knows all about traffic, but on this trip, westbound on I-78, I watched a remarkable sight.

A parade – no, a fleet – of utility trucks, all heading out of NJ after (I assume) many long days of hard labor helping out after Hurricane Sandy.

As I passed truck after truck, I saw this badge on each one. North Houston Pole Line.

Surely, I thought, there must be a “Houston” in a nearby state to which all these folks were returning, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Surely these folks didn’t come all the way up from…

Then I spotted the license plates. Texas.

Countless dozens of these fine skilled workers had driven halfway across the country to help us out, and were now returning, caravan style, before their prolonged absence triggered a population redistricting in their home state!

Saturday morning, I enjoyed a pancake breakfast at IHOP with my son Ben, and (as has been the case for a couple of weeks now), the restaurant was loaded with utility workers, fueling up for another day’s labor in someone else’s neighborhood (these guys were clearly from the South).

One of the men had lost both arms at some point in his history. He had two mechanical arms ending in hooks. And he was still working.

Seeing these dedicated strangers/citizens/neighbors/workers helping us out after a crisis warmed my heart like nothing else in recent memory. It made me thankful to live in a country where people pull together, even at great personal sacrifice.

Thanks, utility folks. You may labor mostly unrecognized, but we see you. And we appreciate all you’re doing for us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


For many of us, this past week has been traumatic. Our world has been rocked, by an unusually destructive storm and its unusually disruptive aftermath.

The beautiful canopy of trees that has always filled our backyard now has ugly gaps slashed in it by the loss of a handful of once-proudly-standing trees. Far worse, a neighbor’s house was punctured by a huge tree that will cause months of disruption to their busy lives. And many people, especially nearer the shore, lost everything.

The mess will take months to clean up; and the stress, in some cases, may take much longer. Sandy has disordered a lot of lives.

Here in America, we live in a privileged bubble where major pieces of infrastructure are simply assumed – water flows, lights work, temperatures are regulated, fuel is around the corner. 24/7, or nearly so.

We all know that we live in relative first-world luxury, yet we all still become dependent on the “normal” that surrounds us. Take away that normal for a season, and we experience trauma. Major disruption, of any sort, does that.

So many of you “came alongside” me (and others) via our virtual networks during the darker days, and I want to tell you how helpful that is. Words of encouragement, and sympathy, mean a lot when everything familiar is disrupted. In the midst of the storm’s destructive effects, we got to witness real neighborliness happening in our streets and towns here in New Jersey – people coming alongside and helping each other with shelter and water and chainsaws and (even) re-charging stations for starving mobile devices (a neighbor down the street, who had a generator, would turn on the outside light as the signal that power strips were hooked up and ready in their porch for those who needed to re-charge)!

But in our social networks, there was also a lot of support. Dozens and dozens of messages were exchanged via Twitter and Facebook. And, it meant a lot to know that people were concerned.

So, how can you help? Sure, there’s giving to the Red Cross and all that. But, on a more personal level, just reach out and care. Little expressions of concern and love go a long way in the recovery from trauma. We’ll get through it, even while fuel is scarce for another week or so. And words of kindness will fuel our spirits as we steer our way slowly back into normalcy post-Sandy.

Thanks for your friendship.


(This post will be a bit more on the personal level. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of it)

Recently, I went to Nashville for 5 days – not only to attend BlissDom, but also to take a little bit of time to visit my old Tennessee stomping grounds (I spent 7 years in Nashville, including my college days).

While there in the pleasant and hospitable South, something unexpected came over me. I relaxed.

For all the joking around I do, I am, in fact, a rather serious-minded person. Even intense at times. When I put my hand to something, I have a hard time letting it go. One of the definitions of the word “worry” is summed up in the image of a dog ceaselessly gnawing on a bone; seizing it, shaking it, tugging it.

I do that with life.

Stubborn determination and intense drive can be a good thing, of course. But like everything else, when overdone – well, every positive has its own built-in negative.

When in the South, I became a bit more easygoing, but after moving to New Jersey 28 years ago, where the vibe is much more rush-rush and focused, the intensity took over. Building a career, bringing up children, launching a solo business, creating a network – I saw it as my role to build and create and lead and make things happen.

Yet, all the while, I was and still remain an introvert. I prefer the realm of ideas. My best work is in thinking and analysis. While in Nashville, I had some time to reflect, instead of just DO. I felt like I was being me again.

A lot of social networking is heavily weighted on the activity scale. Much of the drive is to get MORE – more posts, more readers, more connections, more Google juice, a bigger name, a larger platform, etc. Not that any of those things are wrong in themselves – they are not – but when taken on with an intensity that doesn’t know how to rest, it starts to bump up against the law of diminishing returns.

Which is where I am now. Trying to learn how to work at a pace that leads to optimal productivity, not mere intensity. Seeking to be honest with my nature instead of running someone else’s race. And I really don’t know how that will work itself out day-to-day.

It’s good, I guess, to have a bias toward both thought and action. But how do we give full vent to drive without living in overdrive?

I guess it’s time to find out. Any advice?


Hire Steve Woodruff as your Brand Therapist

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Role Your Own

>> Networking on Purpose

Please feel free to subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff

Taylor Swift and Bracelets. Two Good Causes.

I interrupt the normal flow of my ramblings about marketing to introduce you to two good causes. Both have to do with my son David (the Marine).

Cause Number 1

Yep, he’s crazy like his Dad! Dave is heading back to the States this fall after months of deployment in Spain, and he wants to attend the Marine Ball in November (Virginia Beach) with – well, Taylor Swift! So I said I’d help.

Here’s his invite via Twitter. I figure if he gets about 459 bajillion retweets then Taylor won’t be able to resist saying yes (November 4 does appear to be an open tour date, after all…). And who wouldn’t spend an evening with a handsome and talented Marine??

So, let’s have a little fun and help him out! If you’d like, just cut-and-paste the message below (the link is to the tweet shown above):

A U.S. Marine asks:  May we dance, @TaylorSwift13?? @DaveWoodruff1

Cause Number 2

While in Spain, Dave and some of his pals have had the good fortune of working with a visionary Navy guy named Nick Mendoza III, who started a very special company/cause called Bands for Arms (B4A). In short, B4A was created to show support for those in the armed services, and provide tokens of remembrance, by creating custom bracelets made out of actual uniforms (all donated). Since creating the the first one in 2009 in remembrance of a comrade who died, B4A has taken off like a rocket, with much of its growth and grassroots organization being accomplished long-distance via Facebook.

David and some of his pals have not only kept busy creating bracelets, but in some cases are actually modeling as well for the photo shoots (which makes the old man feel a very strange mixture of immense pride and intense jealousy – I mean, what country music star wouldn’t want THAT hunk on her arm at a dance…..ooops, sorry, mixing up our causes here).

My wife and I had the chance to meet Nick in NYC during his recent tour promoting B4A and we’re quite impressed with this young man, his energy and vision. B4A supports many charitable organizations (see below), so if you wish to purchase one of the many hand-made designs it’s all for a good cause. There’s even one design called the Woodruff – yes, it’s my favorite! :>}

You can follow the B4A folks on Twitter at @BandsForArms.

Thanks for any role you can play in today’s “cause marketing” post!


Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Join the Club

I don’t have my act together. How about you?

Your kids aren’t turning out the way you expected, and you (as a parent) feel woefully inadequate. Things probably aren’t quite as gloomy as you think they are, but nonetheless…

Join the club.

Work-life balance? You’ve chased that elusive goal for years, and like the end of a rainbow, it remains a tantalizing illusion just out of reach. You wonder if your priorities are ever straight, and you never can quite adjust them to where it all feels right.

Yeah – join the club.

At your age, you’re supposed to be a big success with a secure future and a pot of gold in your retirement accounts. Instead, you’re wondering what you’re going to do when you grow up, and hoping nobody knows just how hand-to-mouth your financial life is.

Uh-huh – join the club.

You’ve got a shiny avatar and a slick website, and people praise you for your stage presence as you dispense your pearls of wisdom to the crowd. But you still feel like a failure, and deep inside, you wonder why you’re so lonely and depressed.

Lots of people in that club.

I’d REALLY like to get my act completely together. But the more I get into real life discussions with people, the more I realize that’s a pot of non-existent gold at the end of an invisible rainbow. It’s not happening.

It’s tempting to try to project the “act-together” aura anyway. But I seem to be a permanent member of the reality club. There’s actually a lot of good company there.

If you’re looking, that’s where you’ll find me.


Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

The 30-Year Connection

Who is that young kid with the babe in white?

Yep – that’s my bride and me thirty years ago today. My 30-Year Gift (on my personal blog)


New to social networking? Feel free to download my newly updated e-book, Build Your Own Opportunity Network

Subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff