I talked with Becky McCray and worked as a contributor for her Great Big Small Business Show podcast long before I finally met her at SOBcon 2008. You will find links to some of her projects as you read our conversation.
1. You work in a little town in Oklahoma and live in a smaller town. That hasn’t kept you from making connections around the world. Has your pursuit of social media involvement expanded how you think or has it extended your influence? (The former says you never thought this big and media has made it happen. The latter says you already thought this big and media let’s you do big things.)
I always thought big. I set some really big goals for myself when I was young. Things like wanting to grow up to be President of the Oklahoma Senate. That’s thinking pretty big. Later, when I was almost thirty, I drew up a career plan of sorts that lead all the way to me being a nationally known speaker and writer. That’s thinking really big!
But at the end of 2005, I was at a pretty low moment. I had lost my political campaign in 2004; I had been fired from a job in 2005. Then I started Small Biz Survival in 2006, and in February some guy named Chris noticed I had written about one of his posts. He left a comment, and we struck up a conversation, then a friendship. (oops, I just took a detour reading through our old archives there. sorry!) Fast forward to today, and it seems so obvious that social media re-expanded my thinking and definitely extended my influence. It’s like I’m following that ten-year-old career plan, just using different tools. (I have still have that plan, by the way. I found it in a file earlier this year.) [Note from Jon: That’s exactly how I met Chris. He left a note on a post I wrote about a post he wrote.]
2. You are one of many people in social media whose spouse is not and yet you share many interests and experiences (like Africa). What would you say to people who deeply care about someone who doesn’t much care about “imaginary friends” (to quote him).
It’s an ongoing thing. I would say that you could tell stories from your friends. Help your spouse get some sense of who these people are. I think the thing that helped Joe and me the most was to put it in friendship terms he related to, that you are as important to me as his closest friend is to him. Mostly, he calls you my imaginary friends to tease me. He’s not as quick to form friendships as I am, generally, so this is an extension of our normal differences.
3. You think with your eyes often. Your photographs prove that. Your documentation of storms and old towns is starkly engaging. Is photography a way of seeing or just something you do?
Photography is my creative outlet. It’s one of those things I didn’t recognize until my husband told me. My grandfather was a professional photographer, and my mom encouraged my interest throughout my childhood, so I come by it honestly. I think I would take photos whether I got to show them to anyone else or not, but it’s much more fun to be able to put them on Flickr and share feedback with others. I like to think my photos will be my legacy; that they will have value even when I’m gone.
4. One recent statistic for facebook suggested that women outnumber men. Going way back to when people just used voices, there was a suggestion that on average, women used more words than men by at least that same amount. (And yet at many conferences, there are far more male speakers.) I am curious about your thinking about the reasons for that gender difference in a social media community like facebook.
My thinking is that more women are looking to stay in contact with friends. My mom, for example, is happy to reconnect with good friends from her high school and college years. My step dad couldn’t care less. I think that is a fairly normal, observable pattern. As businesses start using it as a strictly promotional tool, we’ll see some shifts in patterns.
Equity for women in the business side of social media is a different question. Missing the point of view and contributions of half (or more than half) of your customers and the community of professionals is counter productive. And it doesn’t get better by me saying that. It gets better by more conference organizers deciding to change it, and by more women deciding to compete directly for speaking slots.
5. You’ve got a brick and mortar (figure of speech) business to keep running and a ranch. Then you have your concrete (sometimes literally as you help with infrastructure grants) consulting work. And then you have your online business development (tourismcurrents.com with Sheila, for example). Do the multiple levels of interaction energize or confuse you? How do you sort through them?
Well, since the store is in a brick building, I call it my bricks and mortar business, too.
It’s a common thing in a small town to patch together multiple careers, or businesses, or jobs. With a smaller market, lots of people take on a sideline or try to find enough things to add up to making a living. All of a sudden, this is fashionable in the wider world, and all sorts of business consultants are advising people to diversify themselves.
The good news is that I can schedule it all around. We need to sell calves on Thursday morning, so I’ll schedule a client meeting for Friday instead. And honestly, I think it sounds more complicated than it is, to those folks who are quite happy with only one job, one career. I love the days when I do a mixture, maybe start out working cattle, do a walk through of a drainage project in a small town, then work online, and end up at a civic meeting. There’s a great feeling of putting on my work boots and going out to do something “real” to balance out all this virtual work.
This is one in a series of 5 Questions conversations. For more information, go to my 5 Questions page.