I had no interest in ever being on Social Media. 0. I almost took pride in that I had never been on any of the social media sites or apps. I'd give people my phone number or email address rather then handles or usernames. I was happy in my ways. I start almost all my speeches saying that change breeds complacency, or it breeds opportunity. Change is something that lifts us from archaic methodologies and often allows us to increase efficiency and time. Change doesn’t always work, but it allows us to try new ways to achieve. I often welcome change, but as social media got bigger and bigger, I tried to insulate myself from changing and using it.
My impression was pictures of people and families, selfies, and following people on their vacations. I saw the value, but it just wasn’t for me. I was somewhat set in my ways. When talking to clients and prospects all day, I wanted a break at the end of the day; I had no interest in finding more conversations to have. My perception was about to change. When the book came out, I needed to build a website. I hired a firm called LyncServe to help orchestrate my site. I wanted something simple, something easy that I could email to people if they had any interest in the book (which I assumed would be purely friends and family). As they were putting the site together, they asked for all my social media info so they could connect everything. I told them I had none; they explained how essential it was for marketing, and it had no cost. I finally caved in. THEY set up my social media. I had no idea how to use it, but apparently it was essential. So in March 2018 my journey into new waters began. I was going to be present on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I often talk about learning the most basic of lessons at the darkest of times. Reality sets in and we see life through different lenses. Confusion turns to clarity. This was hardly the darkest of times, but clarity sunk on a different level. I started this journey into this new media for my book, but what it led to was an unexpected thankfulness through connections. I started to post some stuff on my family, my book, trying to do the proper protocol to get people to “follow or friend” me. I started hearing from friends I have known my whole life; people I grew up with I have not seen or spoken to in 20+ years; people who I cared about but lost touch with. I started to be able to see their families, their stories, and their passions.
These contacts led to conversations, which led to reuniting in many different ways. It became a way to check in with relationships in a more efficient way with a crazy busy life. I was starting to see this social media machine in a different light. If used properly it was an amazing tool. I started to share my story, my book, my perspective; what I never expected was connecting with cancer support groups; having warriors read my book globally and now giving them a way to contact and communicate with me directly. Every day I get 5 to 20 messages via social media from people who have read my book, seen me speak, thanking me for for sharing my story, or just to connect as they have taken on their own journey with cancer. This was happening for a reason, and I have seen the light.
Of all the changes Social Media provided, what moved me the most was my communication with my longtime friend Karen Lobello. Karen and I went to Hebrew school together, went to Northvail Elementary school, Central Middle School, and Parsippany High School together. We graduated in 1992 together. Karen and I had not spoken in about 25 years. We each went on our own paths, and social media allowed those paths to cross in 2018. Karen read my book, we started to communicate, and she told me in 2019 she would run the Broad Street Run with us to help us raise money to beat brain cancer. I thought that was so awesome, but had no expectations it would come to fruition. Just having the contact and the open communication was enough for me. May 5, 2019 was the run, and about three months before that through social media Karen told me she was in.
We met at 5:30 at the Park and Ride off 95 in Yardley, PA. She was part of Team Newmanium. We traveled to Philly, we talked, we laughed, we cursed (jersey style). We were wet from rain, it was cold, and I was so happy she was part of our team. We crushed the race, and when we came back to the Park and Ride, we went to our house so Karen could meet my children. This connection would have never happened without social media. I am grateful for what this platform can provide when used properly, and thankful to ALL the friends and family and connections I can keep tabs on, communicate with, and see their families grow as life gets busier and crazier by the day. Thank you Karen for validating this all to me.