The PBS Blog Podcast Ep 17: Humility

Humility is an important part of leadership. That ever-present feeling of needing to do better, to be better, to try harder. To be firm, to speak up for yourself and to establish boundaries but to also believe there is always room for improvement. To look down on others only when we are lifting them up. To accept that we don’t know everything, to be courageous enough to admit our wrongs, and to constantly push ourselves to rise to the next level.

Listen to “Humility” now on Soundcloud or iTunes






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Remember that you can catch all 17 episodes by visiting the podcast page HERE.

No Whining Wednesday – Stop over-explaining yourself to People

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

Welcome back to No Whining Wednesday, the only day of the week where you do not get to whine, complain, and criticize for an entire 24hour period. If you are new to this blog or new to this segment, visit the first post HERE.

Today’s quote:

We live in a world where people post memes and quotes every day as if putting those words into action is as easy as a click of a finger on a screen. But I’ll be the first to admit that I have been an over-explainer and that it is only now in my life that I am consciously aware of this and have decided to cut it out. No one wants to be misunderstood but I found that constantly explaining my position to people revealed some of my own baggage. There are reasons why I feel misunderstood and history behind why I’ve felt the need to lay it all out in hopes that people “got me.” Once I understood that I was subtly exposing myself with the unnecessary baggage of explanations, this is when I decided not to do it anymore.

What I love about this quote is that it doesn’t say “not” to explain yourself. Sometimes going in depth about things is necessary but you don’t have to explain yourself to everyone simply because there are some people who have already made up their minds about who you are. Explaining yourself to these people is a waste of time. Because some people have made up their minds, this also means that it depends on how deeply you know yourself. If you don’t know who you are you will always be tailoring your actions and words toward the thoughts and opinions of other people. You will always get emotional and stressed about the things they say about you and you will always feel the need to explain yourself because you don’t really know who you are. That’s the deeper aspect of this that I have had to learn.

As you understand who you are and act and think in accordance to the things that align with who you are, the less obligated you’ll feel to explain yourself to people who don’t know you at all.

Establishing Boundaries

Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash

I’ve learned to establish boundaries. To understand that if I don’t feel good about something, it’s OK to say no, turn it down or cancel a commitment and not feel guilty about it. Establishing boundaries is a form of self-respect. You are honoring your integrity and taking responsibility for who you are. And when you allow people to treat you in ways that disrespect your boundaries, you are not being true to yourself.

Although having boundaries is not a bad thing, it may feel like rejection to other people. You will still lose those who feel you are no longer for them and that’s OK. We cannot continue on with relationships that no longer serve a purpose. But because we may lose people, it is our responsibility to be clear on what our boundaries are, to tell people when they have crossed it or when we can’t cross it ourselves, and to have patience with those who forget and need to be reminded. Although you will lose people, if you are clear and consistent the people who are meant to stick around will and they will understand that there are lines that you simply cannot cross and places you simply cannot go and that it really has nothing to do with them. They will understand that you are capable of loving them and staying true to yourself at the same time.


Photo by henri meilhac on Unsplash

They say it’s the ones with the dirtiest hands pointing the finger. That the world is fake on social media, where we hold our masks together long enough to log off. People pointing fingers and laughing at their neighbors while they pretend to be someone else…until no one’s looking. We forget that integrity is less about what you post and more about your heart. Is it in sync? What of our actions behind each others backs? Studying is not for taking pictures of scripture but for showing yourself approved. Bibles are not meant to be in pictures and blamelessness is not a selfie. To be upright for the sake of a post is not integrity. So unless your presence here is a reflection of your true self, that armor you’re carrying is not armor. It is weight. The unnecessary burden of trying to fit in when you were meant to stand out.


I really dislike this day and age where everyone wants to be seen and praised and prized. Purposely present to spew pillars of knowledge pulled and preserved for a time. No one wants to be silent but everyone wants to be wise. So we selfie our way into stardom on the ground. No one wants to stand behind the curtain or risk being forgotten, or admit that integrity is doing what’s right …even when no one’s looking.

True to Yourself


This is a repost. I thought this would be a good time to remind us of something very important when navigating the online world.

Stay true to yourself.

The major similarities I see that unites all social networking forums is that you’re bound to have people who are not being honest about their intentions, and what they plan to achieve by taking part in the online community. Of course, we have to expect that any time there’s an opportunity for people to wear a mask you’re going to have these kinds of situations. This is, after all the internet, and is filled with people who wear a façade. People whose fingers do not transcribe the truths concerning the inward man. In a world as endless as the internet, it is easy to get lost in the hype moving throughout the cyber world. It’s easy to pretend, and to become someone other than who you are. If you’re just naturally wicked, it is also just as easy to pretend to be a good person, though your heart is a web of lies and deception.

When you’re gliding along the social world, it is easy to get distracted from your primary goal and what you set out to accomplish. Further, it is just as easy to start to take on the same thoughts and opinions of those you’re around the most. This is perhaps the most important aspect of online writing that I believe is important for new and experienced bloggers. For the mimicking of purpose to fit in can creep up on you if you let it. By creep I mean that changes do not enter our lives all at once but piece by piece. Slowly and with great patience change chips at you until you have  adapted into something or someone else.


Blogging, probably more than any social platform is exciting, educational, and inspiring. However, just like every other social platform the truth is that there are more snakes out here than there are angels and they are not your friends, buddies, pals, or playmates. They’re not here to take you to the movies and hang out with you because you liked their post or followed their blog. In fact, they may just be writing your death letter while sending a smiley face.

For instance, in the blogosphere, there are those who often complain that they are not interested in gaining more followers, or networking and such and such. While this isn’t the thought process of most, I am convinced that some of you are not being true to yourself in regard to what you really want from your blogs. Some of you actually care about gaining more traffic but for whatever reasons, you’re afraid to admit it.

Truth is, I think someone can still care about growing their blogs or company without compromising who they are. I believe a person can genuinely care about increasing subscriber rates, expanding networks, and building relationships while maintaining their integrity. I believe there are people who care about these things not because they want people to praise them, and not because they bask in the attention from others, but simply because they’re reaching people, even if only two out of two-hundred are actually paying attention.

In updating this post, I came across two very interesting articles. One from the blogosphere and the other from an article posted from LinkedIn:

Amazon’s New Reviewing Rules – Could it Affect Authors in the Future?

10 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Don’t Do (Themselves!)

You may be asking yourself, what do these articles have in common?

The first article speaks about Amazon’s changes in reviewing products and the other talks about the importance of investing in third party sources to help to build your business. One of my favorite excerpts is:

“Time is an entrepreneur’s most valuable commodity. Yet one of the biggest problems for small businesses and startups is that the founders are wasting their time trying to do it all. We euphemistically say we “wear lots of hats” but the truth is that entrepreneurs are often trying to save money by doing it all themselves. This can be a huge mistake. There are some things that are better done by professional and are better delegated or outsourced.” – Benard Marr

This made me stop to think about the Indie Author Community and how it relates to the first article concerning receiving free items in exchange for reviews. I started to think critically about this and happened upon the epiphany that Self-Publishing didn’t get its stigmas from poorly written books alone. No, there is something else to it and it is possible that Marr is on to something.

Close up portrait of a young african american woman looking out window when working on laptop

If Independent Publishing is just as important, if not more, than any other entrepreneurial business, and if it is to be taken just as seriously and handled with just as much professionalism, why is it that Self-Publishers invest as little money, time, and effort as possible in this very important field? Why is it that everything must be free for us to trust it? The first article is very interesting in that we may be coming upon a time where authors have to pay for reviews or invest some kind of payment. While I hope not, article two is a great conversation starter into why this may be the case for our future considering Self-Publishing is an act of entrepreneurship.

Amazon is changing things obviously because of the level of fraud out there, and we can be sure that giving away books for free in exchange for reviews is bound to change with every 5 star rating given to an obviously crappy book. While I’m hoping this won’t be the case, the truth is that amazon has a reputation to uphold  and like every other wise business person or company, understands that  free does not always guarantee quality. It’s the reason we pay more for name brands because we know that what we’re getting is top quality.

How does this relate to being true to yourself?

I like thinking differently and speaking on subjects that make people scratch their heads. It is what makes me who I am. I don’t have to be like you, think like you, or agree with you. This is an attitude we should all have. Otherwise, you can be easily influenced by others opinions and thoughts. In short, you have no vison and no goal, and the reason behind your actions is empty.

So, you wanna start a blog? Then do it with authority. Own your words and stand by your decisions and your goals. So what if you’re a nobody, so was Oprah at one point in her life. So was Stephen King, and so was your beloved JK Rowling. Pay no mind to what others say or think of you and never ever depend on man to validate you. Stay true to yourself and why you set out to embark on the journeys to which you find yourself. People fall in love with other people, not echoes. What is success? You choose. Dare to be different. Change the game.

Bad Reviews

Linda G. Hill over at Life In Progress opened an important discussion on Bad Book Reviews and since I happen to be patiently waiting for feedback myself, I thought I’d share my thoughts.


First, let me just say that Linda’s dilemma is a very difficult position to be in and as such I think she handled it well. I’m going to try and respond from both perspectives since I too review books and I am also an Indie Author.

The Author

As an author, though there are tons of authors asking for reviews, this is a decision I take very seriously and I think others should too. When I ask people to “read my book free in exchange for an honest review” to me this means I am asking for their honest opinion. An opinion I think is much more valuable than the money they would otherwise pay to just read the book on their own time. When I ask for an “honest review” it means I want them to be respectful about it, but I also want them to be real. That said, I include in my correspondence emails that if the review is negative, for the reviewer to email me their criticisms personally. This is so I have the opportunity to see where I falter before the world does. If my book is that horrible, I want the chance to correct myself. This, I feel, is only natural. Even when you have an issue with someone in everyday life, you have a responsibility to alert that person first before anyone else. You don’t tell Sally, Laura, and John and you do not inadvertently third person Facebook, Twitter, or blog post them. No, you tell them. People aren’t stupid. They will know if your post is about them. So that is why I’d want the opportunity to know where I falter before being put on front street. Now, let’s flip the script.

The Reviewer

From a personal perspective, I do not care to write reviews on books I would rate at below a 3 (for Indie Authors) because I know how important of a consideration people take Book Reviews when deciding to purchase the book. I also know how damaging low ratings can be specifically for Indie Authors.  I prefer instead to message the author privately.

As a reviewer, I email my below 3 thoughts to the author personally (just as I’d want done to me) and I give them the opportunity to decide if they want me to continue on with the review and to publish it. Since I am providing an honest review, I refuse to rate and or post a good review for a not so good book. For this reason, I think personal outreach is the best option. Not only is it professional and respectful, but it is also what I would want someone to do for me.

How Bad is a Bad Review?

It really depends on how bad the review is and the buying habits of the reader. Not everyone will buy a book based on its reviews. I am a prime example of this. I paid no attention to reviews before I became an author. Prior to this, I read the descriptions of books and decided for myself if it was for me. You can say that I’m old school. If the book was bad it was just money burned but it wasn’t a grand deal. I suppose back then every book was a gamble: win some, lose some.

Today, I pay more attention to reviews (obviously) but I still do not always buy books this way. Meaning I am more likely to purchase a book from Amazon based on its description and preview (first few chapters) more so than the reviews. Why? Because in the end they are still others opinions and while everyone is entitled to their opinions my thought process may not be the same. Just because you disliked a book does not mean that I won’t love it. On the other hand, there’s Amazon.

Every good writer will get a low rating at some point, but too many low ratings and reviews can damage an Authors overall Amazon rating. While I do think Indie Authors need thick skin in this industry, as a reviewer I would consider the stigmas already imposed on Self-Publishing, my own thoughts as an Indie, and how ratings influence an authors account. As a result, I publish nothing lower than what I see as average, like a C which is a 3. Before, I wouldn’t even publish three’s but have recently decided to do so.

So How Important is a Book Review?

Book reviews are essential to Self-Publishing, specifically, because its the conversation about the book and the discussion it fosters that makes the review of such value. Traditional Publishing already has a head start. It is backed by big publishing houses with large teams. Indie Authors on the other hand have to garner attention and discussion about the book on his or her own–which can be done in many ways– but is largely done by way of the book review. Good or Bad. For me personally, there is a greater purpose the book review serves. While book reviews can increase sales, they can also be used in other ways.

Good book reviews for instance can be printed on promotional items or used to spark important conversations. Bad reviews on the other hand can help the author to grow in the areas where his  writing is weak. Who else is going to inform a Self-Published author (who has no large team of professionals) that they should tighten up than the compassionate book reviewer?

Final Thought

Bad reviews suck but as an Indie Author  I prepare myself for them because I am, after all, asking people for their honest opinion. While I am not so naive to think all negative feedback is warranted (some people are just not going to be interested in the story), criticism is part of growth and even best selling Traditional Authors whose work we know is top quality, even they receive negative feedback sometimes.

If you’re really serious about your writing, you will expect the good and the bad. Think of it this way: For most successful Traditionally Published authors, there is not the privilege of someone successfully reaching out to them personally and getting anything but their agent or whoever else checks their emails. For this reason, these authors get bad review publicity all the time. Sistah Souljah’s “A Deeper Love Inside” (sequel to “The Coldest Winter Ever”) has so many bad reviews I would just cry. The moral of the story is: don’t expect everyone to love you. No author has this privilege. Understand also that while valuable, book reviews is just one way people decide to buy books so one bad review doesn’t necessarily mean your career is over.

As reviewers, I think its important to highlight where we think the author has done well and then give constructive feedback to the author on that personal level and let them decide if they want it made public (just in case they want to take your advice and change something). Speaking of advice, I also think its important for reviewers to give feedback that will benefit the author. Don’t just say the book is bad (different ways to say this) but be sure to tell the author why. Be thorough in your analysis of someone’s work so that they can follow through and improve.

“The thing about a book (even yours) is that not everyone will love it. If you don’t believe me, look up your all-time favorite book on Goodreads or Amazon and check out the 1-star reviews. Those people hated the book you love.

When you get your first bad review, you will want to defend yourself and your work. Don’t. And don’t let Aunt Freda defend you, either. This will be hard, because it will seem like some of the reviewers either didn’t read—or skimmed—your book.

Remember why you write. Is it for praise? No, it’s because you love telling stories. So, tell them. If praise comes as a result, smile and strut around for a while. If not, consider whether there’s anything valuable in the critical reviews and then get back to your work-in-progress.”

– Julie Doherty