Well I have been on Empire Avenue now for a year today (at the time I write this). In case you don’t know, Empire Avenue waives the commission on my shares today to celebrate. For what is in some ways, just another website, it truly has been an incredible journey. Looking back to those days when the top shares on the site cost 50 eaves, I can’t believe how far I have come and I don’t my share price. Empire Avenue has taught me much and I would like to share some of that with you to help you get value out of the site well beyond eaves and virtual achievements.
Next, what a beginning.
- I had written about two blog posts on technology.
- I had never done a video blog post. I had not used WordPress.
- I had never done a collaborative project online.
- I barely used Facebook.
- I had sent less than 100 tweets.
- I took snapshots with a tiny compact camera.
- I didn’t even really know what a Facebook (fan) page was.
- I would have never considered posting online content with my phone while on the road.
- I didn’t know anything about my channel on my YouTube account.
- I had not given any thought to personal online branding (I still had old accounts with the username TorontoGuy1963 going back to the chatroom days when everybody asked ‘a/s/l’ for age, sex, location.)
- I certainly did not see the power of game mechanics to drive consumer behaviour.
- I was just starting on Empire Avenue having heard about it in a Mashable article. (What must have been a real coup for Dups and the gang at the time.)
Today, is a different story:
- I achieved the second highest share price on the site before taking a break to deal with some offline life.
- I have posted to Twitter 5,500 times to 1,100 followers.
- I have posted more than 50 videos on Empire Avenue.
- I have purchased video lights and a high end microphone for video work.
- I have posted 235 articles and cartoons about the site.
- I have created multiple WordPress blogs including on in Spanish.
- I have recruited a couple of dozen writers and translators at various times for those blogs.
- I have bought two fancy cameras and posted 1,500 pictures on Flickr with photography becoming a passion. I have even been asked for photos for commercial purposes. (I still have really long way to go though.)
- I have advised clients on social media impressing them with the breadth of my expertise on the subject.
- On Facebook, a site I barely used before, I now have people miss my humourous status updates when I slow down posting.
- I photographed the kids that came to my door for Halloween much to the delight of parents (pushed in part by my Flickr score).
- I even have the smallest taste of being a reporter — waiting by my computer with immediate analysis and breaking news when major Empire Avenue updates were released.
Along the way, I did lots of naive things:
- I freaked when my share price was down in the morning desperately seeking 200×200 deals to get it in the green.
- I flooded Twitter with inane conservation and broadcast announcements.
- As still goes on today, I asked people to buy me (although only very briefly) and eagerly encouraged people online to sign-up for the site.
- I let other people’s fights stress me even when I was involved in them. (It was a tight-knit community.)
- I hooked up Formspring when it was considered a blog, just to get easy activity.
- I cross posted things even when there was no good rationale other than activity.
Pretty quickly I cut these activities out. I was even one of the first to vocally adopt a buy and hold strategy even when you still had to pay huge amounts to make more shares available for sale. I moved from a strategy of networking to win a game to winning by networking. To underscore this approach, today I drafted a personal manifesto for Empire Avenue here.
In recent weeks, my evolution has been even more profound. My just fun Tumblr blog shifted first to beautiful photography, then to inspiring photography and now as much as it is possible to find material to compelling photography about important issues and causes in the world. I also started up a video blog sharing the very best in charity videos and public service announcements. Curating this content is having a real effect on me. I feel the need to strengthen my voice for charitable issues. I switched my index from Technology (a personal love) to Non-Profits and NGOs. I take real pride being the CEO of that index and hope I will be able to use that profile in some way to make a difference. (What many don’t know is that my ticker (e)RZR is short for raiser as in fundraiser. When I started tickers couldn’t be as long as they can be today.)
At one point, I thought Empire Avenue might be giving me the tools to follow my love of technology into some sort of business opportunity. I am always on the lookout for new ventures and I have tested the waters on a couple of things that I haven’t gone anywhere with. Now, I realize, Empire Avenue is integrating that personal technology passion into all the strength I have in my professional life. So, I will continue to write about Empire Avenue from time-to-time, and trust me, I get fired up about certain issues and need to express my thoughts. However, as time permits, I will continue to develop an online brand that is about showcasing the great work that so many organizations do to help those that need our help and to protect us all.
I would be remiss if I didn’t stick in here somewhere a comment about the great people that I have met through Empire Avenue. I am confident that together with some of them, and some new friends along the way, we are going to do something meaningful. I have literally had conversations about changing the world, and while I don’t actually mean the whole world, I do mean my world and the world for at least a big group of people.
I don’t know if I have been successful with this post to show you that there is so much more here than dividends, activity scores and changing share prices. I agree that success here gives you a bigger platform, but let’s be honest. Most people here aren’t trying to change the world. They are trying to win a game. At some point though, games become old. When that happens, what will you have to show for it. I know that I have a lot because I have found a voice on Empire Avenue.