Some shocking news this morning, hearing of the unexpected death of Trey Pennington. In March, Trey and Jay asked me to be on their radio show, Open for Business. It was a great conversation about the continued popularity of blogging and Trey truly gave me the spotlight throughout the show. If you read his Facebook wall, you'll find that selflessness was pretty common throughout the messages that his followers and friends left.
I don't know any of the details but it appears that Trey took his own life. That makes it quite a shock. Some of Trey's network is urging people to seek help if they have any thoughts of taking their own life. I'd, of course, encourage that, too.
There's another underlying concern for me, though. Trey's online persona was amazing. He traveled frequently and was totally engaged with his network. His twitter page is an unending stream of tweets that encouraged, thanked and promoted others. The concern for me was that this incredible network of people wasn't enough. As transparent as we are, we still develop personas online that don't always match our offline challenges.
The economy sucks right now. Some people say to ignore it and just keep pushing onward… but I have some grave concerns as a business owner. In a time where my agency is seeing continued success, we're still challenged. Instead of putting in 100% for our clients, we're finding ourselves putting in 150% for them… and sometimes that's not enough – the demands continue to pour in. While we're working harder and our clients are growing, they're having issues that impact their cashflow… and that's something that always impacts those of us upstream.
To win in this industry, you have to grow. In order to grow, you have to be engaged and relentlessly promote one another. As your network grows larger, the expectations grow as well. Every speech you provide needs to be better than the last. Every book you write has to be a best-seller. Every blog post has to go viral. Everytime someone contacts you, you have to contact them in return… or else you're either seen as a hypocrite or some kind of elitist. The fact is, the demands put on professionals in this industry are pretty overwhelming.
I'm reading more and more about some of the leaders of the social media industry cutting themselves off, hiring staff to put between them and their network and autoresponding to requests with notices of unavailability. My friends joke with me about not being able to call me or get a hold of me. Some of the less understanding people leave me frustrated messages, then tweet me, then contact me on Facebook… then get downright pissed that I'm not responsive.
Earlier this week, I left my phone on vibrate and it vibrated non-stop with a new call every few minutes. I finally turned it off (as I often do). While I used to work every weekend, now I take time for friends and family – regardless of the workload or the unanswered messages. I simply can't keep up with running a business, executing the work, marketing my business AND responding to every request from my network. When I need time, communication with my network falters.
I'm not complaining. This is the world I've chosen to adopt and work within, and I love it. I'm just asking those of you who benefit from the work online professionals do to take a minute, thank them… and be understanding that we're doing the best we can.
Trey Pennington had four times the following that I have. I could not imagine the demands on him. We were hoping to get Trey on our radio show soon as a thanks for his support of me… I'm sorry that we won't get that opportunity. But I am thankful to Trey for the opportunity he gave me to communicate with his network. That's the kind of guy he was. And I'm thankful for our time together online.