Welcome to MitchLevinson.com, the all about me blog that is the GPS for my life on the Internet. It details lots of things I participate in... some for fun, some for work. Looking for CRM, tracking, social media, a new website or Internet marketing? mRELEVANCE can help your company prove ROI from your Internet marketing program. Let me know how I can help...also if you need another player for your fantasy football team...I'm your guy!

Jeff Rutt of HOPE InternationalThe saying, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” always rings true to me. Through raising my three children and coaching their sports teams, I always try to keep in mind that teaching them, instead of doing for them, impacts them for the better. They will remember these lessons for the rest of their lives. It takes a village to raise a child, and we as parents and mentors are responsible for preparing and educating them with the skills that they need in order to be prepared for the future. That is why I continue to coach, to have a positive impact on the lives of the kids in my community, and that is also why I teach adult education. Growth and development is not limited to kids, it is almost as rewarding to see ‘understanding and excitement’ in the face of a non-technical adult as it is to see the first hit in a game by a nine-year-old.

Jeff Rutt, owner and founder of Keystone Custom Homes, as well as a client of mRELEVANCE, shares these same opinions on the necessity of educating people with skills they need in order to be successful. Jeff is passionate about both home building and helping those in poverty, thus he was inspired to found HOPE International, as well as Homes for Hope. Through these foundations, he brings the concept of “teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime” into reality. Read More→

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Digital MarketingIn a few short months, I’ll be back to Vegas. I was selected to present two education sessions at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show (IBS), the world’s largest light construction show. Last year, the show was attended by 75,000 attendees!

This year has been a whirlwind; and this trip to IBS (January 20-22) will be the culmination of a full year of hard work on a pursuit that I LOVE: the pursuit of education. Whether it’s learning a new technology or technique, I love learning new things. Over the past year, I have funneled that energy into a massive project for the Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) for NAHB. As 2014 IRM Chair, I have worked with an amazing team to implement a complete overhaul of our course curriculum. The first class of students to take the new course will be doing so at IBS, and I have the privilege of teaching this first run of the new course. Read More→

I am so proud of My son Theo, and the entire Bearcat Team this year. They made it to the championship game in EVERY tournament they played in, and won 3 out of 5 of them…including a tournament we traveled to Cooperstown for. What a special team, what a special year!  Here is a video made by one of the mom’s on of the team – Julie Poplar – what a great video…

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It’s the “calm” (if there ever really is a calm for me), before the storm. In less than one week, I’ll be leaving the Second City and heading for the warmer temperatures and brighter lights of the City of Second Chances. That’s right, Vegas baby!

I have been invited to speak, along with a group of very talented industry marketing professionals, at the joint National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show (IBS) and National Kitchen and Bath Association’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

The show runs February 4th through the 6th and each day, I will be presenting educational sessions on the newest strategies for digital marketing in the homebuilding industry.

On Tuesday, February 4, I will present My Brother Built It, Why Doesn’t It WORK?, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  for KBIS. This popular session covers the five Read More→

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Positive Coaching

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The Power of Double Goal Coaching

The Power of Double Goal Coaching

Well, it is another year of coaching my kids and their sports. It is pretty cool to think about all of the kids I have coached over the past 11 years. From the time Josh was a Purple Shark soccer player in Georgia, to this Bills football season with Theo in Illinois, I have coached all three of my kids’ teams every year in baseball, soccer, basketball, softball, football, skiing and a lot of other activities.

Team sports and coaching kids are rewarding for me. I have to tell you, I have a hard time ‘sitting on the bleachers’ and just being a parent. It is a very fun and exciting time in a kid’s life, and it is critical for them to have the right coach. Not only for that particular sport, but for everything they can learn about life. Positive life lessons happen commonly in youth sports, and it is so encouraging when you connect with a kid and they ‘hear’ what you are saying…and even improve in that sport.

My goal with every team I have ever coached is simple, although we try to win every game and I teach them to be competitive, it does not matter if we win or lose. The two goals I have for each kid is for them to 1) learn the sport and get better, and 2) have so much fun and enjoy whatever game we were playing, that they ask their parents to sign them up the next year. In all my coaching years (which I hope are not over), I only had one boy not sign up the next year. I had a kid move out of state after they signed up for the next year and their parents told the organization to keep their deposit because they had such a great year that they wanted to donate it to a kids that could not afford it, I had girls playing baseball switch to softball, I even had 18 kid requests to be on my tee ball team one year because of the power of teaching lessons through coaching.

Every year before every season of each sport, there is always coaching training and sessions to attend. This year during football preseason, and my fourth season as an assistant coach for football, it was required of all coaches in the program to attend a Positive Coaching Alliance seminar. I have to say, this was one of the best programs I have ever attended for youth coaching. It shared most of the principles I have been using over the past decade, and spoke very negatively toward the ‘win at any cost’ and ‘negative or yelling’ coaches. It was refreshing to hear that kids learn through positive reinforcement and fun, and not just pressure from coaches and parents.

This organization reaches from the beginner youth coach, all the way up to professional sports. In fact, Phil Jackson is one of their main spokespeople. He said in a video that he uses these same principles for his NBA stars. Everyone wants to be told how good they are, but they struggle when told to do better or to do something different — that is human nature. If you surround yourself with constructive criticism and teaching techniques with positive reinforcement, your athlete will not only hear you, but try harder themselves to accomplish the goal or task.

Herm Edwards was also a featured video speaker in this program. Everyone remembers his post-game interview where he repeated “We play to win the game” and he is right. Teaching competitiveness to athletes is a good thing, as long as you also have a second goal when you coach. “The Power of Double Goal Coaching” which was the book given at the seminar I attended, shared that the first goal was to coach to win the game. However, the second goal, and the more important goal, was to teach life lessons with your coaching. As much as everyone remembers what Herm said about how you play, he also said “In the end, there will be a winner and a loser. What is important is how you handle it.” This entire statement and philosophy is paramount to the most effective and influential coaches in my playing career, and in my life growing up. Winning is a bi-product of teaching how to develop the talents to compete. In PCA, there is no place for the win-at-all-cost mentality.

When asked at the seminar to remember a coach from your playing career who was influential, several of the other coaches spoke, and their comments resembled my own life. Some remembered great coaches and great games, but most remembered the one coach that took the fun out of the game and was only about winning. Not all were at the youth level, mine was in high school, and some in the room were from college. Now that is not to say there were not stories of great coaches who wanted to win and teach how to win, it is just the way they teach their methods. The number one reason that kids play sports is for fun. 70% of kids don’t play sports anymore at the age of 13 because they are no longer having fun. For these kids, their memory may remain a coach that took the fun out of the game for them, and that is simply not an option for me.

“Five to one, baby, one in five” are lyrics in a song by Jim Morrison and the Doors. It is also the principle I have been using, and one I was retaught recently, about the number of positive statements to negative statements (or corrections) coaches should use when developing young players. Kids do not hear the positives, all they hear are the negatives. So, when you sandwich one negative or correction of how to do something better with four or five other positive comments, they hear they are improving, they feel good about where they are, and they take the correction as a step in the right direction. They try and enjoy trying. It is an easy thing to do, if you think about it. In the case of players that need more ‘coaching’ than others, start with the basics and break every task or movement down into small tasks. “Great location of your hands on the bat, you are in the right spot in the box, your feet are good, your knees are good, now try to hold the bat upright with your hands by your ears as if you are on the phone with someone talking loud.” Or “good three point stance, your hand is in the right spot, your feet are spread wide, you are balanced and ready, now remember to step forward with your blocking side foot first as you fire out at the defense”.

I always try not to use the word ‘but’ when coaching. It takes away from whatever is before the ‘but’, making it less important. I try to build upon where they are in their ‘game’ and start with the good. The most challenging position I was put in was with a player was literally starting from scratch. It was the second game of our house baseball season and literally five minutes before the game a new player was not only assigned to my team, but he showed up with a brand new bat (in the wrapper) and a glove (with the tags still on it) for his first ever game. This would have been easier if it were t-ball or coach pitch, but it was the third year our kids had seen kids pitch to them, and some of the players really threw hard (45-50 mph from 42′). Well, that first game did not go over very well for that one player, but by the end of the season, that boy was on base, stealing, and was able to get in front of the ball in the field And, best of all, he signed up for next season at early enrollment. That is what it is all about!

No More Broken Eggs

No More Broken Eggs

There are a lot of tools, techniques and coaching skills for staying within this model. www.positivecoach.org is the website to the organization that taught the seminar that I attended, and I believe it is a great seminar for anyone who coaches or teaches kids. Another good book recommended to me by a great baseball coach for one of my kids, I read is called No More Broken Eggs, by Tom Morin. It is a book written by a sports psychologist about the mental aspects of the athlete and is basically a series of case studies that talk about what specific athletes go through, from a pressure standpoint, when playing. It is a good book, and one of the key takeaways for me was that here in the US, we start our kids competing at a very young age compared to some other countries. Other countries don’t get serious about sports until 13 or so, right when our kids are dropping out because the competition and pressure is no longer fun. If we kept it fun and taught fundamentals until 13, we might get more kids playing and having fun longer. Wouldn’t that be great?

I am considering writing another post about the specific techniques and practice drills I like, but I am definitely willing to share with anyone (including my competitors) my practice plans or coaching theories because, at the youth sports level, teaching them to love the game, focus on techniques while trying to win and have fun along the way is the only way to teach. I want kids to remember me as the coach that taught them to love the game we are playing and gave them the skills they need to compete for the rest of their lives, not only in that specific sport. After all, Herm Edwards also said “when the book of your life is written, what will be your legacy?”



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Happy Fifth Birthday mRELEVANCE

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mRELEVANCE retreat

It’s our 5th anniversary

Holy cow, we are five years old! Time really does fly when you’re having fun. It seems like it was only yesterday that we were signing contracts as three companies — Mitch Levinson Consulting, Inc., Flammer Relations, Inc. and the client.

Five years is light years in terms of internet marketing. To put it all in perspective, when we started mRELEVANCE the word social media had not be coined and blogging was certainly not a mainstream tactic for corporate marketing. Content was produced mainly in the form of traditional news releases that were distributed to reporters. I remember thinking, you can’t have a website without quality optimized content, and your quality content is worthless if you have no place to put it. Today, there are lots of places to put quality content, and we have learned how and where the most effective places are for our clients.

We have gone through quite a lot of growth over the past five years:

• We now have 18 full and part-time employees
• Our clients are located all around the country from Connecticut to California and Oregon to Florida
• Both Carol Morgan and I have established our expertise by becoming published authors
• We have had three corporate retreats where we brought both teams together, and we have decided to make this an annual tradition
• We have grown from working in one industry to having clients in more than five industries
• We offer a full suite of marketing services, and have a new corporate brochure to showcase them

However, even though we’ve grown, our end goal is still the same: all marketing should be relevant. Whether we are building a website for a local entertainment company, managing social media for a medical equipment manufacturer, handling public relations for a home builder or reporting and tracking on a website for a sports team, our thought processes and actions all focus on increasing return on investment, and proving it.

If you’re looking for a strong agency that doesn’t outsource to help you with any and all of your marketing needs, give me a call at 847-259-7312.

Plus, we’d love to have you wish us a happy birthday on Google+ or on LinkedIn!

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Man, I really like Vegas

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Vegas - International Builders ShowThose five words were spoken by the King himself, Elvis Presley, and those words ring true for me too. I’m on a plane at 30,00 feet headed to Vegas right now! I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?

Between the endless buffet lines and doubling on 11, I will be working, of course, and honestly, I am just as excited about that as I am about shooting dice.

I’ll be attending the 2013 International Builders Show; which is one of the events I look forward to each year. It’s an excellent opportunity to network and see industry friends from across the U.S. and I always bring back great ideas for Marketing RELEVANCE clients.

Additionally, I’ll be presenting on my favorite topic: marketing. To be more specific, this year I’ll talk about mobile marketing. Mobile is hot, hot, hot right now and growing across every industry. In fact, 2013 could be the year of mobile. Along with my co-presenter, Kevin Oakley of Heartland Homes, we’ll discuss some statistics about mobile marketing, how and why it’s growing, and most importantly, how to use it to improve sales and your business. Attendees will get examples of builders using mobile marketing in their sales process and the building process. We will also talk about how mobile marketing is improving home builders traffic online and on-site.

If you’ll be at IBS, I look forward to seeing you during the session, Mobile Marketing: How to Attract Buyers Using Smart Technology, Wednesday, January 23rd, 8:30 – 10 a.m. in the South Hall, room 220. Attendees will receive 1.5 continuing education hours from NAHB. Read More→

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Congratulations Josh

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To my son Josh:

I just want you to know how proud of you I am. Congratulations on your Bar Mitzvah (well, it was a year ago) and  your recent 14th birthday.  You rock my world!

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internet marketingI’m offering a FREE webinar this week on Wednesday, April 11 from 2 – 3 p.m. eastern time, so register to get the 411 on 4-11.  The webinar is through NAHB’s Webinar Wednesdays and the title is Generate Leads and Sales with Internet Marketing.

Is your website generating all the leads and sales it should?

For the average housing professional in today’s market, the answer is no. Yet your website is the single most important communication vehicle your company has today. Actively managing your web presence is a relatively inexpensive way to strengthen your brand and attract more buyers. I will share strategies and techniques to help you build a successful online presence. From search engine optimization to lead generation, learn how to recharge your web presence to increase sales. You will be able to boost your website traffic and save your company money.

Learning Objectives

  • Capture prospects and convert them into buyers Read More→
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My mother meant a lot to me, she was a great woman and truly a good person. Everyone who met her was her friend instantly. Maybe it was her smile, maybe it was her genuine desire to help others, maybe it was her sense of humor…whatever it was, she will be missed. She passed away February 4, 2011. Below are simply the words I said at her funeral service – these words can not express what I have in my heart, my thoughts and my emotions for my mom.

Friends and family,

Thank you all for coming here today, and supporting our family. Having so many people here shows just how many people my mother touched and how special she was to so many. I wanted to say a few words now for my dad and sisters on this difficult day, to celebrate my mom. Because that is what she would have wanted, everyone to be happy and to remember all of the good things about her.

As many of you remember, she was always smiling and in a good mood. I can’t even remember a time when she was angry or even too upset with me that didn’t end with a smile or a laugh. And as many of you who know me, there probably were several times that I deserved more than her laughter. On several occasions, she was the buffer between me and my father, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized most of the time when she said – wait until your father gets home, she never really told him anything.

She always had a smile on her face and was always there for me and our whole family. She was the glue that kept us all together. She was always so supportive of any decision we ever made, no questions asked and without judgment. Even if it was a decision that was not what she would have wanted – and as many of you know I made a few of those

She was one of my best friends as she understood me better than anyone else could. I could really talk to her about anything, she would listen and help me, but always stay true to her morals. No matter what.

She has been and will continue to be one of my most important role models. Even today when I talk to large groups about Internet marketing and social media, I use her as my example. When I launch a website, if am I proud to show it to my mom, I know it is done. If I would not want my mom to read it then I should not be posting it on Facebook. She always knew what was right and she was true to herself. I mean, this is a woman who has not had ice cream since I was a child in the hospital because she ‘promised’ not to if I was alright. Cake and cookies were also on the list of things she would not have.

She always did what she thought was right, and was proud of it. I think that all came from her background as a teacher. Most of you know that she worked at United Airlines for a long time, but she was an elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools when she started her career. When she went back to work after having us she even substituted for some of my classes – I remember her subbing for Gym class at North School when we lived in Des Plaines before we moved to Buffalo Grove. But when we moved to BG, she went to work at United.

Looking back, we were so spoiled by that. I mean, we had airline tickets in our drawers that we could write our own tickets to anywhere at any time, as long as there was a seat on the plane. Travel was different then. We were lucky growing up to be able to travel almost anywhere. London and Mexico, Arizona…I was even able to go to Japan in college because of my mom. I mean, we went to Maui like other families went to Florida. She loved to travel. We were lucky. So lucky, looking back, that Terminal 2 in Toronto is something we will remember forever.

I have so many great memories. When I posted to facebook that morning, I was reminded once again how lucky we are and just how many people she touched. That post on Facebook, and the regular wall posts, there were well over 100 comments, maybe even 150. Friends and relatives remembering my mom and their memories of ‘the boat’, tubing for the first time or the lady that always took in dogs. Whatever the memory, it was refreshing. Refreshing that she was always trying to help others and really did it genuinely and from her heart. She loved so many from her heart.

Her Grandkids were her pride and joy. She cherished the time she spent every Friday watching Rachel and Theo, up until about a year ago. Watching Brynn, Logan, Josh and Sofia play soccer, baseball, an instrument or sing at a school concert. With 6 grandkids, she tried to make it to all their events. Even when it physically got tough for her to do. There was even a time when she sat in the car to watch because she was not supposed to be at the field.

Through it all, all of her medical issues, she never complained about herself, she never asked why her, she always had a positive mental attitude, and she always kept fighting. She was so strong for so long. She was a great woman, a great mother, a great Nana, a great wife. She was great person that meant a lot to so many. She is now at peace, no more pain, no more treatment, no more suffering, simply peace and rest.

That morning, at 9:25am on Friday, my dad, sisters and I were by her side, as we should have been. A great weight was lifted from the room. We felt it. It was time. I will always remember the clear day, as we all looked outside. Peaceful-ness in her face and calm across her body. Hoping the first thing she would do would be to eat ice cream.

I love you, Mom, you will be missed.

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