After Karen Dietz, let me introduce you to Martin W. Smith, a.k.a. Marty.
Marty is not just one of my favorite content curators. The founder of Curagami and Story of Cancer is also a very hard-working entrepreneur with an infectious dream: “Use technology to cure cancer, connect with people all around the world, and buy and sell things in new and exciting ways.”
Why did you decide to become a curator?
Two things influenced my becoming a content curator: getting cancer and helping others. Getting cancer was worrisome (for a lot of reasons lol). One big worry was that I didn’t have much of a support system. Support systems are how and why “cancer survivors” happen. I instinctively knew survival depended on friends and family.
I remember reviewing my life up to that point. Things that seemed important BEFORE diagnosis felt much less so now (money, career). The thing that only felt marginally important now became life itself (family, friends). Sharing was another pillar left standing.
The times I’d helped, shared, or encouraged seemed real, valuable and worthy. It felt like the only way to win was to be “all in” and be “all in together”, so I used content curation as a way to create a support system – friends who knew me, knew how I thought and wanted to contribute and help. I earned my way by helping first and worrying about everything else second – an easy thing to write but a hard thing to do since financial, health and other worries can easily push such a guiding principle aside.
Keeping me on the beam associated with the “give first, worry second” idea was another unexpected benefit of an expanding network thanks to content curation. My new “curator friends” reinforced the principle since they live by the same code.
When I started curating, my Klout score was low (below 40), I had fewer than 200 LinkedIn connections and may have had a few hundred regular readers. Now, I have more than 50,000 followers across all social networks.
What benefits has curation brought you?
Beyond the numbers, content curation creates connection and learning. I’ve learned more from Ana Cristina Pratas, Brian Yanish, Jan Gordon, You, Kelly Hungerford, Karen Dietz, Malek and others than attending expensive conferences, reading preaching white papers or listening to self-serving podcasts.
Being a member of the “curator community” is one of the biggest perks.
Membership, mostly earned with the curation support of others, means I can ask friends what they think and they will TELL ME.
Membership means that if I’m in a tough spot, friends will find ways to help. Nothing like having the Big C to discover your TRUE friends. The ones left standing and asking how they can help are amazing people to be cherished and appreciated.
I have a handful of those kinds of amazing friends I’ve NEVER MET in person. That is the power of content curation. That is the value of membership in this unique, intelligent and generous community.
What is your top tip for great curation?
Content curation is a strange brew of ART and SCIENCE.
Look at Maria Popova’s work at Brain Pickings or Brian Yanish’s curation at Marketing Hits for examples of how to knit art and science together in different ways. Maria throws a wide net and then creates content snippets (blog posts) to tie seemingly disparate content together. Brian places emphasis on WHAT makes it through his filter. He reviews hundreds of posts, content, and sources to share ten or twenty. Brian’s sharing = his curation.
I lean more towards the Popova school. I like to use curation to spark creation. I like to toss a wide net and then challenge my brain or my friends’ brains to find connection and synergy.
At first, I thought of Brian’s form of curation as “wrong” and that thought was wrong. Curation, as you’ve pointed out, takes many forms. The only “right” idea is to combine art and science, emotion and logic, experience and comment.
What’s the best example of curated post you have ever read?
Maria Popova’s review of Mindset by Carol Dweck rocked.
But I don’t think of “curated posts” in a zero sum way. Every post that makes it past the “should I read or not” filter helps, teaches, and changes something important.
Curation is more of a journey than a destination for me. I read something every day I want to STOP THE WORLD and share (lol). I’m honestly all in all the time and that stance is important and why my tribe grows.
I also make mistakes IN PUBLIC. I try to NOT defend but learn from mistakes. Our lives and marketing are slouching toward real time. Filtering and circumspection takes TIME that we may not believe we have.
Funny how there was always more time than we realized after a train wreck. When we look back we realize OOPS and try to train our muscles so we don’t make the same mistake again. If you can’t OWN mistakes, making them in public isn’t a great idea (lol).
The problem is that “in public” is where the people are these days. We suggest banking lots of appreciation and support, so when you mess up, you will have help to unravel the knot. If honest appreciation isn’t expressed by sharing, advocacy, and even polite and respectful disagreement, no amount of curation could plug the hole a tiny misstep creates.
Solipsism isn’t a great curation or content marketing strategy. Talking to yourself about yourself is a lonely conversation. I prefer talking to friends about our beliefs, values and ideas.
And yes I and we make mistakes in public. We do so knowing we have help, support, and love. Life is too short to live and curate any other way :).
Is there a content curator you would like to see featured in this series? Feel free to share their name in the comment section below.