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Taking Political Action: How to prepare for Elections 2018

posted Feb 16, 2018, 8:57 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Feb 16, 2018, 8:57 AM ]

The performance in Alabama has brought local elections to our attention. This came about because of people mobilizing within their communities to bar a nefarious candidate from getting into office.

With more recent events like continued gun violence, people are looking for ways to be more active. One of the ways is to be politically active: voting in any and all elections, both local and national.

Local elections, in fact, affect you far more than Federal ones do. Local issues like budgetary spending are determined at local and state level. In fact, your vote has more impact at the local level than at the state level- Alabama victory came by an incredibly slim margin. A few hundred votes do count. There are some critical elections coming up in 2018, start preparing now!

Go to this link and tell us how you are preparing: Voting Plans for 2018 founded in 2008

According to Wikipedia, Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan online political encyclopedia founded in 2007.
It covers American federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy. Ballotpedia is sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Middleton, Wisconsin. It employs a number of writers, researchers, and editorial staff. 

Community Diary by Rahni S.

Resist voter suppression by:

Starting Early

  • Look to see if you can look up your registration online
If you need to register, start researching documents you need to register
If you need documents to vote, start ordering those documents (voter ID numbers, photo ID, passports, birth certificates, SSN cards…)
  • Identifying your voting location district 
  • Checking the history of that location to ensure that it will still be there when it comes time to vote 
  • Inquiring about voting at another more "secure" location

Preparing to Vote Early or Absentee

  • Research how absentee voting works in your state 
A good place to start is 
  • Know the difference between voting provisionally and voting absentee 
Provisional: your vote must be verified after the election. This is critical because it means that your vote won't count towards the election at all. 
Absentee: your vote is cast via mail using your voting information. 
This is done in case you can't make it to the polls, you're traveling, you're in the hospital, or you just want to vote early! Most states have absentee voting available because G.I need to vote from overseas. This is a great way to resist voter suppression because your vote is validated by the U.S mail. How this information is tracked varies State-by-State.
  • Learn where early voting polls are going to be and the information needed to vote there

Becoming Informed

  • Do research on the issues you care about 
This can be done using You can even see what issues people are focusing on in your state. 
If you are looking for candidates funded by the NRA, for example, Ballotpedia also includes funding reporting. Here is also New York Times Op-Ed listing current Senators taking NRA monies
Start requesting the 2018 ballot 
  • Do research on people announcing that they'll run and check in on their progress
Contact these candidates and ask them about the issues you care about
See who is already registered and if they will actually represent you

Opinion: Inheriting a Movement

posted Feb 9, 2018, 8:07 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Feb 9, 2018, 8:16 AM ]

Growing up, I was sheltered from the movement. It was common knowledge that my mother was active in the NAACP. It was common knowledge that my father organized demonstrations in his youth. 

After my father's passing, I learned much more about what he did in the community. He said that it would happen this way, as he very intentionally raised his family with love and understanding. That is: there was no expectation to "participate in the movement" because this is path literally marked with blood and bodies. It's not glamorous work, it is dangerous even, and it's not something that you should wish upon your children. I was separated from my father at the tender age of 4 because he was sent to prison for political corruption, despite never having held political office. For context, this is the same charge for which Nelson Mandela was sent to a South African, 'Gulag' style prison. This was never explained to me in my youth. 

Esteemed Senator John Lewis of Georgia

Esteemed Senator John Lewis (D) of Georgia, former chairman of the SNCC in the 1960s

Met Martin Luther King Jr at 17, working with him as a representative of  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As he participated in the first wave of Civil Rights movement, he was a student. He spent the majority of the second wave (Early 70's and 80's) working in politics.

Community Diary by Rahni S.

How Activists are Made


After I properly compartmentalized this life event, the loss of a parent is 

a continuous process that many go through, I had a realization. One was that my father's work needed to continue in the community and that it needed an institution to continue it. Another was the proliferation of the 

movement: how activists are made.


It's not something that is inherited. There is no coming of age, ritual, or passing down of responsibilities. As it currently stands, the process of becoming an activist for the Black Community happens in one of two ways.

Way one: You open your eyes one day, look around, and you see something is wrong. It is followed by an overwhelming sense of entrapment, and you become an activist when you start thinking of ways to get yourself out.

Way two: You are thrust into a situation, either directly or indirectly, where you need the movement to come in on your behalf.


I'm not sure how this happened for my father. He did grow up in a single parent home in the South, where he watched his mother work double and triple shifts to support her family. He did have to care for his abusive father, who was in his final days in a nursing home. He was also blackballed and expelled from Howard University in the 60s by one of his professors for being too vocal. He ended up transferring to another historically black college, NC A&T, graduating in 1965.



For me it became clear after watching my Father die while working, crumbling under the stress and strain. It's very personal, but I did witness in real time what happens to individuals who try to speak out. It's not just him. History gives us many examples.


How Activism in the Black Community Occurs

The Civil Rights movements for Black people in this country can be broken down into several waves.

The earlier waves in America's modern history, they occur after WWII: Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X.

The second wave occurs after the race riots in the 50s and 60s: Black Panthers, SNCC that our current Esteemed Senator John Lewis of Georgia participated in, and coincidentally my Father.

This current wave occurs after years of deterioration: from the continuing crack epidemic of the 80s, upscale mass incarceration following the Clinton Administration, the uptick of racial violence following the election of Obama and the reawakening of the White Supremacy movement. This lead to Black Lives Matter, Kilpatrick's demonstration and others in the athletic arena.


Each movement was inspired by the generation before it. Watching your parent return from WWII, from defending this country, only to be disgraced by Jim Crowe. This was such the case as with my Mother.

Conversely, it could be from having your parent taken from you. Be it increased incarceration, police brutality or just the slow unforgiving grind of systematic racism, as with me and many others.


Institutions, safe havens, places of thought where those trying to make a difference can get what they need; while there is no "passing of the torch", there is this. While it won't immediately make things better for those who feel trapped, it is a way to take away some of the strain.


Why Cause Marketing isn't Long Term: Small Business Building Relationships to Combat Corporations' Marketing Manipulations

posted Mar 31, 2017, 8:12 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 8:14 AM ]

When making friends, how do you get people to like you? Consider for a moment how relationships are built: do you find out what their likes and dislikes are?  How might you set the tone of your relationship?


When lead to its logical conclusion the best marketers will invest hours to attract people, build brand recognition, and build a relationship with customers. In reality however, marketing is actually a list of manipulations.  In addition to not being a sustainable business  solution for companies, especially small businesses, this can be incredibly problematic when considering Cause Marketing.

Simon Snek's Golden Circle of How Leaders inspire others

The Golden Circle is a Venn Diagram of how leaders inspire others. Why, their mission, is the core of what they do.  "Why" is the mission, "How" is the process, and "What" is the action. 

Community Diary by Rahni S.

What is Cause Marketing?

Cause marketing is defined traditionally as a relationship where an organization or nonprofit will temporarily combine resources with a corporation for the furthering of their mission. One example includes Yoplait dedicating 5 cents of every sale to Susan Komen's foundation for breast cancer. People will buy the yogurt in support of the cause and money may go to research. 

However in many cause marketing relationships, once the promotion ends, nothing is reported as changed. They will continue to have these promotions, perhaps yearly but, in the example, the cause of breast cancer and it's complexities is never addressed. Further, one or both of the companies may do things in direct opposition to the cause. In this particular example, it went public in 2012 that the Susan Komen foundation refused to donate money to breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood because of conservative ideals  about women's sexual health.


The only goals met, then, had little to do with advancing the cause. More importantly, in the example this manipulation is usually to the detriment of people who bought the yogurt in good faith thinking that it would further the cause. This is absolutely a failure to the people effected by the cause. Further, they are exploited for their pain and suffering to coheres people into buying a product that claims it's purchase will eventually bring relief. 

Signs of Manipulation- How Marketing is Manipulative

According to Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" there are two ways to influence behavior: manipulation or inspiration.  Manipulation is often what is deployed when marketers do not dedicate the time to get the information they need to build proper relationships. Sinek specifically refers to these tactics as "carrots and sticks".


Tactics that specifically speak to Cause Marketing in particular are specifically:


This manipulation exploits people's own insecurities or inability to address the cause directly. They are encouraged to do something easier in exchange, like buy a product or give money; either of which may not ever address the cause. The only thing guaranteed is profit and good press for the companies involved.


Peer Pressure and Novelty & Faux innovation

These two manipulations are deployed by companies that do surface level campaigns to raise awareness about a cause. This can lead to many people, for example, buying clothes to wear that feature a cause, yet no real action is taken. These are deployed in combination in  'trendy' causes, like the (RED) global cause or the many apps created to raise "awareness".

Why this is a Problem for Long Term

Like many manipulative relationships, marketing purely serves the company as a means of bringing in funds. While this is sufficient for many companies, which is why this continues to happen, it is often at the detriment of the people. 

Acceptable marketing manipulations leads to a continued exploitative system, which defeats the purpose of cause marketing as a means to advance a cause.  This is especially problematic for causes such as child abuse, restrictive access to  women's health care, and a host of others that have real consequences on society as a whole.

Further, and as a consequence for companies, manipulations are never a sustainable procedure in the long term. In a society where people always have another choice in the products they buy, building brand loyalty in the information age is key. People will always have access to information for better and more informed choices. Many companies, especially small businesses who cannot afford large losses, have failed or are failing for these reasons.


Solution: Inspiration through the Golden Circle

Returning to Snek's book, the other way to influence people's behavior is to inspire them. How to inspire people lies in why companies supply a service. Snek describes the "Golden Circle", a Venn diagram that shows how leadership inspires others. Many companies know what they do and how they do it. They never consider why.


Figuratively it is like using the diagram as a dart board, tossing darts and hoping they stick, as supposed to it's an actual use as a diagram. Inspirational leaders always begin at the center with why, radiating outward. Martin Luther King, for example, had a mission to liberate people from the ugliness of racism. This manifested into conversations with communities affected by it, including churches where people had the space to organize. What came from it was action, specifically, activism: boycotts, marches, speeches, political involvement, even petitioning the highest office in the land.  

The Golden Circle is a visual representation of how mission statements drive companies, organizations, or even leaders to work.


A proposed Alternative to Cause Marketing: Expeditions

Beginning with why takes investigation. "How" something is done (behavior) and "What" comes from that something (action) is dependent upon  things discovered at the middle of the Golden Circle. Uncovering why, then, can be revealed in a series of campaigns called Expeditions. Unlike a jointly sponsored marketing campaign, interested entities (companies, non-profits, small business) can combine resources to directly sponsor and host those with the know how to do the Expedition.


For example, an online community like AC Pharos can host an Expedition sponsored by a nonprofit and a series of small businesses who want to combat child abuse. After a series of questions during the Expedition it may come out, for example, that the cause will be better served with more political community engagement. The small businesses then could co-host spaces where the community can discuss the issue, along with organize to directly lobby congressional leaders at the state and local levels. 

The [why] for the Expedition is a mission to address the problem of child abuse. The expedition reveals that there is a lack of representation and requires more political community engagement. The [how] is through the behaviors of organization, activism and the community becoming more politically engaged. The [what] then becomes providing space and resources for community organization.


In this example, the Expedition will reveal common experiences in the community and the behaviors needed to bring about action. It may or may not be political community engagement, it depends upon what the Expedition would unearth. These Expeditions would serve not only activists, journalists, researchers, community organizers and their causes; businesses become the space for organization. If they are truly mission aligned, beginning with why, the rest of the circle is filled with specific answers that eventually build loyal relationships. Small Businesses then have the tools to become a pillar within their communities without having to rely on short term manipulations.


AC Pharos Community: Calendar Events

posted Mar 24, 2017, 8:34 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Mar 24, 2017, 8:35 AM ]

Economic Injustice Events on the AC Pharos Community Events page. Includes link for submitting Economic Injustice events

Check out our calendar events! 

This includes topics for the week, events around the community, and upcoming community interviews. 

If you have an event that you would like to promote, or any cross posting opportunities, please feel free to submit it through our contacts page.

If you would like to discuss some of ways you are combating economic injustice, we invite you to come speak to us!

Fill out this intake form, and lets schedule a time to talk.

Stay Determined!
-Rahni Sumler
Head Editor of AC Pharos

Creating a Movement: Economic Activism 2.0-- We Need you to create an economic community!

posted Feb 17, 2017, 8:32 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Feb 17, 2017, 9:39 AM ]

Thanks to all of you. We are in the early stages of a new community and a new wave of a movement: Economic Activism 2.0. We need feedback from you to make economic activism more comprehensive, more accessible to all, and create a forum that allows everyone to inform the movement. In this spirit, please consider giving us your feedback in this survey to help us.  

Too many programs have been created without the input of the people. Let's make a difference! Tell us the best ways we can reach you, the best ways to get your feedback. Share this survey with your family, friends, and others interested in combating economic injustice.

Historic images of African American life from the Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland - If you can't shop there, don't work there, 1940. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

"If you can't shop there, don't work there", 1940. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

Community Diary by Rahni S.

The AC Pharos will be the first to focus on making activism more accessible to people the most affected by injustice. This is particularly important for economic injustice because many people are limited in contributing to the movement. Therefore, this community is a continuous experiment: how can everyone contribute, with emphasis on voices of those most effected by economic injustice informing the movement?


Illustration of Economic Activism 1.0: The Black Economic Sanctions

Past economic activism, Economic Activism 1.0, required changing spending habits. Black History Month, we recognize the bus boycotts and the economic sanctions placed on the mainstream businesses while black people were denied their unalienable rights.


The mantra was "Don't Buy Where You Can't Work", which had many iterations starting even in the depression era. This organization had a large impact on the development of the South. It is noted that there is a strong correlation between racism and economic development. Many places where people did not, and continue to not, recognize the rights of black people were left behind in development.  Places where Civil Rights were respected developed and grew into the metropolitan areas of the South, which is an  expected outcome given historical context. Economist Deirde Mccloskey argues that wealth always  follows social equality 

Further, it's a fact that "alternative right" ideals scapegoat people of color as the reason for the decline of rural America, totally ignoring actual factors. However, the difference between economic activism for black people, in particular prior to the Civil Rights gains, and economic activism for the black community now are the effects of desegregation. Desegregation was considered a gain for black people. It ensured that black people will receive equal service with whites in America, as everyone should. However, desegregation also created the breakdown of black owned business. Interviewing my late father Rodney Sumler, a very well-known black business owner and activist starting in the 1960s, he said that desegregation without systems in place to support businesses in black community created our current situation. When black buying power had more options, the black owned businesses were forced to compete with the mainstream businesses with virtually no support.

Economic Activism 2.0: Adapting to the Current Economic Climate

At that time, mainstream meant large companies that still exist today like Macy's JCPenney's Sears. All of the black owned businesses, in this example black boutiques, were quickly annihilated. Now there is still very little support for black owned businesses and other small businesses in comparison to  mega-corporations. With influence of mega-corporations, people still have few choices when getting goods and services. This is the problem that this community will discuss deeply and generate community backed solutions.


Strengthening small business and minority-owned business will give us more power when practicing economic boycotts. However, another difference between historical boycotts and modern attempts boycotting are wages. The gap between wages and cost of living are very large. In comparison between the generations at their peak earning years, the Baby Boomers had much more buying power in their Peak earning years then Millennials now in theirs. Baby boomers were able to support families and buy homes often with one salary job. Many millennials are not buy houses and cars because decreased earning potential.  Reference


With reduced buying power this makes economic boycott often an unrealistic goal. Large corporations can often offer their products and services for much cheaper then smaller more ethical businesses. With few buying power many are forced to buy from the mega-corporations. This community will also address this issue. We need to increase our buying power and find more equitable ways a contributing to the movement.

Movements Take Community: We need You!

Creating a  community small businesses that serve us and finding ways for everyone to inform the movement are two issues among many here at AC Pharos. I invite you to fill the survey and to submit any other issues we should be focusing on

 To create a movement takes people. For Economic Activism 2.0 to perform with impact will require many perspectives.

Own this time and together we will make a difference. 

How Successful Entrepreneurs Blog: Phase 2- Turning Ideas into Blogs

posted Feb 3, 2017, 8:52 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Feb 3, 2017, 9:47 AM ]

As a writing counselor, I am constantly helping public health professionals with how to deliver heavy topics to the community. Unlike my background in engineering, topics like environmental health notices have much more impact on the well being of the layman then how “their internet” is delivered to them.  The challenge often becomes how to turn public health research into something useful to the community.

This is a process called “conceptualization”, taking research and developing new ideas. I have found that the best approach to the conceptualization process is to make an outline before writing. For our purposes of becoming an expert in our field,

Phase One prepared us by identifying what the community is asking about and organizing possible ideas. In Phase Two we will create an outline and identify points of interest before writing. 

this is an outline for how entrepreneurs blog and organize their ideas
Community Diary by Rahni S.

In this series I will be breaking down the writing process into two phases, this week’s being organizing ideas using an outline. Many other blogging how to steps omit the writing process but this is critical to this series for the purpose of examining our efforts and measuring results. After all, if you want better results then you should examine the process.

Preliminary Items: Purpose and Theme

Lets begin with some preliminary items. Refer back to the research guide from Phase One. For more information on how to complete a research guide, I highly suggest going back to Phase One. From your topic and the sort of questions asked by the community, determine the purpose of your blog post. This will indicate the tone and how much work you will put into your outline before writing. It is also important to note here that “pre-writing” steps like outlines can be done for multiple blogs before writing them. After all, the purpose is to organize your thoughts before writing so that you can reduce the amount of time spent on writing them. Outlines also are not the final product. Many items from the outline can be omitted later, especially if they do not contribute to the theme of your blog. Be savvy, remember to always keep the purpose of your blog in mind. 

How to turn Ideas and Research into something Meaningful

In this phase we will be focusing on organizing points and the support for those points into a formulaic outline. This formula is familiar to most readers and makes your writing easier to follow. I will be using the I-B-C formula: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. This basic outline structure is very general and can be applied to any area of focus while being recognizable to everyone. There are many other organization methods that can be modified to suit your needs such as the evergreen method. You can check out Nikola Gege’s explaination of the evergreen method here. The commonality among all outline schemes is to identify what is useful and what is needed to convey your idea.

Explanation of points & support for those points

While some support is found in Phase One, we will be determine the usefulness of these sources in this phase. The outline will also identify other points and support that is needed. This is done through reviewing and revising the outline to see if the ideas flow together well. This is easier to do in Phase Two because it is easier to move bullet points then to move paragraphs in a piece of work. In this review and revise process it is also easier to identify support needed before writing. Items that would need support are claims that require validation from an authoritative source. Examples include most scientific things, statistics, and quotes from notable individuals. 

 In the outline, leave space for items that need support. When you do research for items is dependent upon the purpose of the blog.  For light research projects, it is critical to do research after writing the blog. This prevents wasted work. Conversely, for academic stage or for heavy research projects all research should be finalized at the outline stage.

Formulaic Outline: I-B-C

As an engineer, I organize my ideas best into flowcharts. In this flowchart, it shows the process for creating the I-B-C outline. On theleft there are the inputs, or the things needed to complete the process. Click here for a closer look. Here the inputs are the items from Phase One:

  • Topic
  • Questions from the community about that topic
  • Support from answers
  • Initial prompts (both questions, answers)
  • The inputs also include the initial items for phase 2 that were discussed:
  • Purpose of the blog post (Entertainment? Information? Both?)
  • Central theme of the blog (What question are you answering? What theme are you addressing?)

The center describes the I-B-C process itself. Items from Phase One are organized into the three headers: introduction, body and conclusion of the blog post. The introduction is used to, not only introduce the idea, but to entice audiences to read further. The body of the blog post composes most of the information and will be organized and fleshed out according to the initial items for Phase 2.

Unlike what is taught in many primary schools, the conclusion is not a summary of the body. Instead, it is a place to build a relationship with the audience before closing. This may be through discussing about next steps or leaving the audience to consider new possible ideas. For the purposes of most blogs, the conclusion is crucial for encouraging audiences to continue the relationship formed while spending time reading your blog.

The most important piece of the process is considering your vision when adding ideas in the center process. Vision with the means to deliver it is what will eventually make you an authority field over time. It is not possible to develop visionary sight until you recognize what is needed in that moment. I highly suggest revisiting Phase Zero for a critical “big picture” consideration while blogging. That being said, when flushing out the items in the body portion, do they support your vision? When building a relationship with the audience in the conclusion, did you share your vision with them? How is it worth their time to continue this relationship?


Phase 2 is important for identifying what is important or what can be omitted BEFORE writing. This saves times and helps with organizing ideas into something meaningful before phase 3, writing. As an added benefit, it also reduces editing time of the blog and ensures you have a supported blog that you can share with interested parties (i.e, the sources you used). Tabulating interested parties will lead into phase 4, sharing with the community. Closing my own blog post, I also invite you to continue this relationship and a view of my own vision.

The AC Pharos is an online community to combat economic injustice. Specifically, the goal is to increase access of economic activism to those who are effected the most by it, giving them the tools to inform and guide the movement. This blogging series in particular can be applied to many areas and will be a crucial tool for empowering the community. This blogging series will also eventually be used to create an online workshop, so I would like your feedback. The goal of this series is to give simple research guide that builds your authority reputability and is an active means of fixing the problems in this country. Does this series thus actually help meet this goal? What are some ways to get towards this goal?

A Birthday Tribute to Rodney Sumler, Civil Rights Activist

posted Jan 26, 2017, 5:44 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jan 26, 2017, 5:45 PM ]

Rodney Sumler Birthday Tribute January 2017
Community Diary by Rahni S.

Rodney Sumler was born on January 26, 1941. He attended North Carolina Agricultural& Technical State University, graduating in 1965 after years of student activism. He help organize the historic "Freshman Four" student sit-in at Woolworth, frequently celebrated on the A&T campus every February.


His youngest daughter who attended his same alma mater asked if he was involved in the student sit-in. Rodney Sumler humbly said that he didn't because he had to attend class that day. This humility, humbleness, and strong belief in organization cultivated the young civil rights activist into the community leading editor of the AC Phoenix News.

AC Phoenix News was founded in 1983 and empowered a community to become politically active despite many structural adversities.

The Electoral Integrity Project just found that North Carolina's democratic index was on par with failed democracies like Venezuela or Iran. This came about due to decades of abusive gerrymandering. The AC Phoenix News operated in the heart of this structurally unfair landscape.  In spite of this, the community newspaper was integral in the community producing Senators whom represented them. All of the Senators who would fly a flag over the United States capitol in honor of Rodney Sumler at his passing on March 7, 2015.


Today we celebrate Rodney Sumler's birthday, whos service had an very large impact on the Piedmont Triad. We also prepare for Rodney Sumler Day, a holiday named in the City of Winston-Salem North Carolina honoring local media and it's direct service to the community at large.

Local media plays a large part in safe guarding our democracy.

Do your part: Signup to make #RodneySumlerDay a day of awareness, direct activism and support of local media that serves the people.

Event: Dreaming Big & Telling Our Stories- An Afternoon of Arts and Crafts with Dr. Loretta Long

posted Jan 26, 2017, 5:25 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jan 26, 2017, 5:47 PM ]

Dr Loretta Long or Susan from Sesame Street at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem New York City

Celebrating African American Culture: Dreaming Big & Telling Our Stories

An afternoon with Dr. Loretta Long


January 29, 2017 at 2:00pm


The Abyssinian Baptist Church
 132 W 138th St, New York, NY 10030, USA
Vestry with Pictures in the Fellowship Hall

Also known as  "Susan" on Sesame Street for 46 years.
Dr. Loretta Long is also the author of "From Paw Paw to Sesame Street: My Journey".
Refreshments will be served
Gifts for the 1st 50 Children

Come enjoy an afternoon of story telling, arts and crafts! Family and friends welcomed.

Creating Expert Blogs -- Phase One: Research and Securing Authenticity

posted Jan 19, 2017, 8:01 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler

Writing this on the Eve of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration has inspired many thoughts about the status quo and how to change it.
What was immediately clear was that traditional media has failed this country. According to the HarvardKennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
 studying main news outlets during the election cycle, policy was never discussed as much as poll projections or scandal. This lead to the most uniformed election cycle in this country history, the news never provided the information about people's concerns.

 We are going to have to rely on more savvy and more accessible digital media. The goal here is to give you a simple research that not only builds your authority, but is also an active means of serving the people first.

rolltop desk- perfect place to begin your research

By User:Julius999 - Own work, Public Domain,

Community Diary by Rahni S.

Blogging, and general writing, is broken down into several phases: research, converting research into ideas we can use and delivering those ideas in a digestible format. Today we will focus on research and preparing the information we find for converting. Writing is easier with all of your ideas organized in one place. It also crucial that we single out useful information while making active choices about what will increase the "remarkability" (blogs worth remarking about) and notoriety of our blogs. That being said, this "Research Phase" is broken down into two parts: finding topics and finding sources with authority.


Importance of the Research Phase

Specifically for finding topics within this stage, our goal is to take research and determine if it can be turned into something meaningful.  In addition to avoiding wasteful work, regardless of your determination, things deemed "unuseful" are still within your topic. It's still an opportunity to learn.  Author Eric Ries's "Lean Startup" talks about the capital gained from learning at length. 

Regarding finding sources with authority within this phase, this addresses the "macro" yet very impactful problem of fake news influencing the voting habits of the population. While it will take some cultural solutions on part of the public, having good sources is an excellent way of building trust with your audience. For our purposes of becoming an expert within our field, contributing to a "Sourcing Culture" is also the primary way of building relationships. Further, this step is accessible to everyone and exists in other well established communities. Wikipedia has been serving as a free, free to edit, reliable source of information for several decades. It maintains the reliability of its pages through its "5 Pillars of Community Principals", one being "Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view". Specifically, Verifiability ensures that all articles can be checked by its readers by looking at  reliable source. I will be using some of their guidelines in our the process.

The Research Phase Process

The goal of this phase is to create a schedule of topics and all the information needed for writing your blog. The schedule will be an excel spread sheet with these categories sorted by "Topic":

  • Related questions to the topic
  • Social media of people answering the questions
  • Other Suitable Sources within the answer (list, if applicable)
  • Related keywords (list)
  • Associated image
Some of these items are better saved for the phase where we are writing the blog, such as "Related Keywords" and "Associated Image". These two are particularly easier to fill once you have the entire blog in mind.
When looking for topics, they need to be within your target field.  They should also address questions people are interested in and, therefore, should help you build notoriety. 
When considering topics in your field, please revisit or look at "Phase Zero" from last week. This phase is essential for achieving notoriety, remarkability and is the only way you can build up the credentials needed to be considered an expert in your field. For a more in-depth explanation and for the process itself, check out the post.

Determining a stated need in the community requires answering questions from that community. An easy way to do this is through freelancewriter Niklas Goeke's  suggestion ofsearching on Quora for your topic. This social media platform it allow you to collect questions by topic and gleam other important information for completing other phases. Each question has a list of answers. From the best answer you should get:
  1. Social Media of answerer (usually made available)
  2. Link of answer
  3. Short summary written by you
  4. Source of the answer (if available)

Writing the summary will help to determine important information. The act of writing it yourself also helps you determine the worth of the information and, most importantly, is the first step before creating something new.

The questions may also have sources. To secure your authority, ensure you only include authentic sources:

    1. Research published by Universities

    2. Research backed by Universities

    3. Research backed by governments

    4. Research based organizations that publish data and how their data is analyzed

Phase One is important, but it is also critical to not spend too much time in this phase. More time should be spent building relationships, since the ultimate goal is to become an expert in your field. Therefore, do your research in short bursts. Test the blogs you create, fish for more questions, and begin the process again.

Creating Expert Blogs: Step Zero- The Importance of Starting from Zero

posted Jan 12, 2017, 9:10 PM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jul 26, 2017, 12:35 PM ]

In my research I have seen many step-by-step guides for "how to blog". In the coming series I will even refer to some of my favorites. What I have observed is that few to none have a "Step Zero"; which happens to be the most crucial step in achieving not only success, but life altering career growth.

First, why zero is important. In our daily lives we ignore zero because it is commonly perceived as a placeholder for nothing. We only make time to appreciate zero when we are about to step on a scale. Zeroing the scale ensures that the following weight taken is accurate.
 For scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and really anyone looking for a particular result from a series of steps, zero is a crucial state for calibration. Zero in this instance describes a focal point or a foundation at which to start our efforts where all variables are known. This is essential for getting the best result.

The importance of zero: to get an accurate reading, scales must be calibrated to zero

By Algont from nl, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Community Diary by Rahni S.

This is relevant to our purpose because we are looking to increase our expertise our field. Most blogging steps lead to the ultimate goal of becoming a social media maven in your chosen area. However, this goal is not achieved through just creating an archive of content. While quality content can pave the way to success, true experts are not experts just by vanity metrics like number of articles.


Gaining mastery in any field requires deliberate practice.  Beginning with a self-assessment at zero allows us to create a basepoint on which to an improve upon. To achieve mastery, you first must determine what zero looks like for you.  This is done through the initial steps of deliberate practice.

In Cal Newport's "So Good they Can't Ignore You," he discusses deliberate practice rituals as seen in renown musicians , comedians, and network television writers. These are all careers that require a level notoriety to obtain success. He then lays out a plan for deliver practice to build the career capital to reach levels of notoriety. His examples like guitarist Mark Casstevens, comedians like Christ Rock, Steve Martin, even including writer Anders Ericsson; they had to become known to achieve success. They had to practice their craft until it was remarkable.

This craftsman's mindset is rarely seen outside of "artistic" fields, where practice and expertise is key to even make headway. There is no such thing as a mediocre musician, just one who has developed a style that is rare, valuable, and sought after. Newport demonstrates that this can be replicated in your field to help set you apart, create quality content and assist navigating all aspects of your career in confidence. This is particularly important for this current skills based economy.

According to Richard Greenwald at Brooklyn College, his book "The Death of the 9 to 5" gives data driven parallels between our current economy and the classic medieval European economy. In the later, artisans drove the economy and also had to quickly obtain notoriety in their fields. They also dedicated their whole lives to their practice and perfecting their craft. Greenwald maintains that the same can be said of entrepreneurs in the current age, and in fact, spoke at many freelancer's conferences inspiring these "new age artisans" with data from the past to guide their career moves.


To bring deliberate practice in your own life requires daily reflection and focus. "Zeroing" the scale to begin allows you to gauge how to add and explore new practices. You can use the form attached based off of Newport's "Deep Work" ritual template attached below.


Using this ritual, you'll be given space to:

  • Identify your craft and your goals
  • Think of ways to visualize and live by your mission
  • Tabulate time and things needed for your Deep Work session
  • Gauge successes and areas of imperilment for developing your craft
  • Identify next steps and possible routines to improve your efficiency.

In this new year, it is appropriate to begin with considering focal point zero. Ideally, you will begin every routine honoring your mission and recognizing the moment: things that you need, challenges you may face. It is not possible to develop visionary sight until you recognize what is needed in that moment.


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