Monday, August 6, 2012

Why I Like Michael Phelps

I hate hype. I tend to be a skeptic. I scorned the hype around the IPOs for Facebook, Zynga, Groupon, etc.
But I feel differently about Michael Phelps. Maybe it's because of my father, who was a lifeguard, a swim coach and a champion surfer many years ago. My dad qualified for the Olympics, but in those days, a lifeguard was considered a professional, and only amateurs could compete. My dad always wished he could have been in Olympics.
But he told me stories all through my childhood of how he worked so hard to be a champion swimmer and surfer. He made me revere having a dream and working hard to achieve it.
Phelps has worked hard to make swimming cool for kids. It was not a sport that was admired or thought to be cool. He changed that. He has not been into glorifying himself. He inspired two of the young swimmers who were in these Olympics who won gold themselves. And that made him happy.  
Phelps's mom just sent him to swim to use up his energy when he was a kid. His mom didn't send him to a special training camp or to live in a place to work with the top coach in the world. The average, everyday coach noticed young Michael's God-given ability. And then, the coach nurtured that talent.
Phelps came up from obscurity and achieved something no other human being has achieved. He has given hope to every underdog who loves to swim. That is a great gift.
The New York Times ran an article about Phelps which is a great summary. Worth reading. 
I believe individual achievement is something good, not bad. Without the ability to achieve and the ability of us to recognize and appreciate achievement, underdogs would never go anywhere. We all need hope. Michael Phelps has given thousands of kids and other people hope.

How to Get Your Article Published

No doubt, you have an idea for a great article. It could be an opinion piece, or it could be about your life, your business or lessons you've learned. You could be bursting to share your news with the world, or maybe someone has told you that you have to get some articles published to raise your profile and attract customers or followers. Whatever the reason or the topic, you need to follow a few simple rules so that the publication you're targeting (electronic or traditional print) will want to publish your article.

I was reminded of following the rules a few weeks ago when one of my clients told me that he had interested a publication in a topic for an article. He sent me links to the publication and then a draft of his article. Immediately, I could see that though the content was excellent, it did not follow the style of the publication. He agreed that I should edit and rewrite the piece to conform to the e-publication's style. But he warned me not to change the meaning of what he was trying to convey.

During the process, I had to get him to clarify several points, and by doing this, I got deeper, more meaningful things the article could convey to its readers. I also learned what the main point was that my client wanted to make.

He sent the piece in, and it was just published.

You can achieve the same result by following these five rules:

  1. Have a single point you want to make, and then add meat to the point and use examples to make the point come alive. 
  2. Study the possible publications that you could target. What do they publish? Does your idea for an article fit what they look for?
  3. Ask yourself if the article will truly be interesting and useful for the publication's readers.
  4.  If the publication has guidelines, ask for them, read them, and follow them. If not, study the publication and follow its style and word count.
  5. Have someone else you trust read and edit your piece. Make sure it's all correctly written so that the editor doesn't have to work hard.

Good luck.

Oh, and here's a link to my client's article.