My New Motto: “Endeavor to Make it Useful”

I’m nearly finished reading “Empires of Light,” a history of the competition among Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla to commercialize electricity. The book’s first chapter traces the lineage since ancient times of investigation into electricity, and the tension between basic research and applied science — “Endeavor to make it useful,” in the words of Benjamin Franklin.

Today I officially adopt that phrase as my new motto (the former was “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” — Ralph Waldo Emerson).

To celebrate, I’d like to recommend and thank a few bloggers who inspire me and, in my estimation, embody my new guiding principle.

I’ll start with Gini Dietrich and Lisa Gerber at Spin Sucks, who put the social in social media. Their preternatural joy and enthusiasm for their work is infectious. Mixing their own posts with guest content — and notable for the quantity and quality of its comment threads — Spin Sucks is a fun, raucous (but still professional and practical) ongoing conversation about the full gamut of topics in PR and social media marketing. It elevates the profession and makes us all smarter and better practitioners.

Danny Brown is a social media evangelist in the best sense because he advocates for a cause —  “The Human Side of Media and the Social Side of Marketing” — not for himself (at least that’s what I choose to believe). In addition to his eponymous blog, Danny is the demiurge behind For Bloggers, By Bloggers, a massively useful resource for actionable advice on technical, strategic and creative issues. Danny’s ubiquitous; a prolific commenter on Twitter and other blogs, making incisive points that challenge and inform.

I’ve been following John Saddington on TentBlogger for only a short time, but as soon as I encountered one of his DIY WordPress posts, I was hooked. His straightforward, clear, well-organized, helpfully interlinked, and blessedly hype-free content is a model of DIY advice. Thanks to John, I have a long and ponderous “to do” list for this pokey little property.

It the spirit of America’s Quaker forebears, I invite you to add your testimony here (if you are so moved).


  1. wow….. thanks so much!

  2. Wow! You really do read some intense stuff. I feel like I should give you a pass from your two books a month goal. I’m just finishing The Book Thief.

    Thank you for this nice blog post and for introducing me to John. I’m headed over there next!

  3. Hey there Jay,

    Absolutely LOVE your new motto, mate – I think a lot of us could do to borrow that. 🙂

    The book sounds an interesting read – I know what I’m picking up on Saturday at the book store.

    Thanks again, mate, very much appreciated, and thanks for recognizing the team over at For Bloggers By Bloggers. I feel very honoured to have them writing there. 🙂

    Have a great Easter weekend, sir.

  4. Hi Jay,
    I too am looking forward to checking out John. I’m going to go stalk him after this. : )
    I want to add that you inspire me too. I love this approach and your new motto. If I may continue the lovefest for one more sentence: this phrase:
    “Their preternatural joy and enthusiasm for their work is infectious.”
    is beautiful and i LOVE that it’s describing me. It made my day.

  5. awesome! enjoy!

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