On this week’s Wedotalk, David interviewed Elaine Lindsay, Founding Partner of TROOL Social Media. Elaine is an SEO integration strategist, social media trainer, speaker; and frequent guest and host on multiple media channels. Elaine tells the story of how she saw the opportunity to turn the world of internet search into a successful business and that even in the early days of the internet, the best web site in the world was useless if no one could find it. They then talk in some depth about Elaine’s work in her new mission of “Suicide Zen Forgiveness”. As a teenager, Elaine lost her close friend Andrea to suicide, and a few years later was in a serious car accident that left her with severe physical injuries, followed by a series of careless and bad surgeries that hindered her recovery rather than helping it. In severe physical pain, Elaine attempted to take her own life. For many years, Elaine had hidden the physical pain that she had suffered, the emotional pain of the loss of her friend, and her own suicide attempt. In 2013, she started to talk more openly about this part of her and felt the need to honour her friend Andrea, which led to her current mission. While Elaine is very much a proponent of suicide prevention, her work supports those that are left behind and their path to recovery, healing and forgiveness.
Not surprisingly, Elaine has used her knowledge of digital media to help spread the word of her mission and she can be found on multiple platforms.
Elaine’s Contact Information:
Email: [email protected]
From SEO Integration to Suicide Forgiveness | Wedotalk with David
David: Hello and thank you for joining us. You’re listening to a Wedo talk with David Jaques.
Hi, welcome to this week’s Wedotalk. So, over the last few talks that I’ve done, we’ve had some pretty diverse subject matter. Some of the guests recently have included subjects such as social media, how social media can be used for good purposes, entrepreneurship, many stories of people in their entrepreneurial conquest, their successes, their failures, and of course we’ve always tied it together with the human story and something that is very close to my heart and that is mental health and well-being. And today’s guest is actually well qualified to be able to talk on all three subjects. So, joining me today from Ottawa in Ontario, Canada we have Elaine Lindsay.
So, Elaine a very good afternoon to you. Welcome to Wedo thanks so much for being here.
Elaine: Thank you so much for having me David I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.
David: Right and Elaine you are a first adopter, early adopter of many things. You are the founding partner of true social media, you’re an SEO, search engine optimization for people that don’t know SEO, integration specialist, social media trainer, speaker, you’re on a mission to help people manage their businesses better.
You created your first website in 1999. This comes into the early adoption theme. You’ve been doing search engine optimization since 2003. You’ve been featured in many domains as an authority, particular amazon bestseller list a few times. You have been a host and a guest on various podcast channels, and I did see that some of the things your clients have said about you and they’ve referred to you as the maximizer and the digital diva. So, quite a reputation to live up to there, so very honored to have you to talk to me today and we are going to get on to some other subjects as well, but maybe we could just start out and you could tell me a little bit about your business, about true social media, what got you into the world of search engine optimization almost 20 years ago and where your business is today.
Elaine: Well thanks for the opportunity. Well, forgot about being the maximizer. In 99 when I did that first website it was for a regional counselor, a politician here in the Ottawa region and very quickly I had made this site and it was beautiful and all the other counselors loved it and I kept thinking well, what good is this if nobody knows how to find it. You can make all the websites in the world, but if people can’t find them how’s it going to help and that’s what led me to SEO. So, within a couple of years, I was starting to follow a very, very early adopters, Brad Callan was one of them and I realized that through search engine optimization you could actually put your site on the radar.
And even before google there were other, there was dogpile, there was Alexa, there was all these little search engines, yahoo and Netscape, explorer I believe. All of those places were just beginning to compile their directories of what was on the web. So, in essence, if you’re a logical person and in a very exasperated way both my husband and my children say oh my godmother you think and talk like a computer. So, I’m at home in the computer world and I do kind of think that way. So, for me it just made sense to track things in a way that you could let these little bots that were checking to see what was relevant and what was good quality those two words are critical. Not just in my business but throughout the digital world and understanding that, it became for me relatively simple to get my clients to page one. Here we are, you know 20 years later it’s a lot more difficult to hit page one, but it’s still possible, because all of the search engines starting with google, they want to return the most relevant best quality query answer for every user that asks.
So, to me, that’s a no-brainer if you know your stuff, if you’re the expert in your niche it doesn’t matter if you’re IBM or even google. If you’re a little business that understands exactly what it is that you provide you too can be on page one.
David: Yes, that’s a great mission and who are some of the clients that you serve today? What type of company? Are they large businesses? Large global corporations? Small independent businesses? Who do you do work for?
Elaine: I really prefer the small independent business I work with comedians, media people, authors, coaches.
I do some slightly bigger companies, but one of my clients we were just talking about this couple of weeks ago. She’s been retired now for almost three years. She was approached by a senator from the US number of years ago saying okay why can’t I get past you in google? What is it you’re doing that you can beat me? And we have the same name. And my client now for the past three years we’re trying to get her off-page. Being retired she has no need of that anymore, but for me, that’s the challenge, that’s the fun to it. Comedians, it’s coming up with really good keyword phrasing that’s actually what people search for because that’s one of the things that’s a problem for small businesses when you’re deep in your own expertise you may not realize what it is that a real person would search for.
Case in point I work with a group big health group, and they do everything from nutrition, massage to naturopaths and pets, it’s a pulse, electromagnetic field technology. They do all kinds of phenomenal things, but when they were doing keywords early on, they wanted to go for things like nutrition and vitamin b12 supplements and you know all these very, very deep in their own expertise and I said that’s not what people search for. They search my kids vomiting or help I have diarrhea, or you know how do I stop my husband’s headache. They want real things for real people and that translates you want to know what John Q public is asking and the easiest way to do that is just go ask somebody.
David: Yeah, okay.
Elaine: They don’t even have to be your customers just ask.
David: Yeah, I think what you say is very relevant in terms of attracting the right audience and one of my recent guests who is actually somebody that I believe you may know Samantha Kelly who’s otherwise known as the tweeting goddess. And she’s done something very similar by getting people to focus their use of twitter and other social media platforms to reach the right people and once you reach the right people it’s amazing what you can do.
Elaine: I actually work with Sam and Sam had me over to Ireland to speak a few years ago. She’s absolutely phenomenal and she truly is the tweeting goddess.
David: Yeah, was that part of the women’s inspire network, the group that she put together?
Elaine: Yes, it was.
David: Yeah, one wonderful group. So, Elaine thanks for that. So, clearly yes you know social media, you know entrepreneurship, you’ve created your own business, you’ve made it successful so great story. So, let’s switch gears a little and talk about mental health. I look at you and I somehow, I think we’re on somewhat of a parallel that we both have careers, successful careers that we’re proud of, and good things that we’ve done. So, you have your work with your company, I have my work in the finance field here in Silicon Valley. That’s what we’re probably famous for, I wouldn’t say that we’re celebrities by any means, but people in our markets probably know us and that’s what they recognize us for, but both you and I have a passion for mental health awareness, telling the right stories, removing the stigma and that’s something which for me has become very important in my life. I’m spending more and more time doing it, I think you are as well. So, my mission has been to encourage people to tell their stories, take away the stigma, take away the shame and I always say I’m not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to treat people but what I am qualified to do is to tell my story and encourage others to do the same and the more openness and the more conversation there is about the subject the better, there’s a lot of education that needs to be done out there. And sadly, even after a lot of work and a lot of positive movement that we’ve had in the world of mental health many people do not look at mental health and mental illness is a life-threatening disease, and it is. And very sadly, very tragically people do take their own lives and it usually is a situation, many many reasons why that might happen, but generally I look at it as somebody feels that they are so worthless, they’re worth nothing, the people that they love are better off without them. And so I know you’ve done a lot of work in this field, but what you’ve done with your new mission which you call “Suicide Zen Forgiveness” is to really help those of the left behind, because that is something which I’ve not really looked into very much and I am aware of people who have taken their own lives contemplated taking their own lives and it is not only a tragic thing when that happens and could be preventable, but there are people that are devastated by that, the passing of any loved one, but when it is somebody’s own initiative when they do that how do the people left behind managed to survive?
So, we’d love to ask you a little bit about the work that you’re doing and how your mission is going out there, but I think you probably have some personal history and maybe some trigger points in your life that has made this important to you, so would you tell us a little about this world and why this is a big important thing to you.
Elaine: Absolutely and thank you for opening the door so well to this really important piece. You’re right when you say I’m on a mission, my mission is to end the stigma, the shame, and the silence that goes with suicide. People are often afraid to talk about it when they’ve lost someone, more afraid to talk about it when they themselves have attempted. We talk on my show, I have a show, I have a room on clubhouse and I’m getting into a few more things to do with this mission of allowing people to share their story because when you share your story you lighten your burden. So, I’m gonna go way back and say when I was seven my father’s sister died. That’s all I knew then, she died. My father had to fly home to Scotland right then and there. Very very little was said which I found really weird as a child, but I didn’t know any better I was just a kid. When I was 16 years old, one of the little cliques that hung together, my dear friend Andrea took her own life on New Year’s Eve and just prior maybe 45 minutes prior to midnight I had picked up the phone to call her to say happy new year because she was babysitting her 83 and 86 year old aunt and uncle. Just at the last moment I put the phone down because I thought oh my god I don’t want to get her in trouble if I wake up Emmy or her uncle, I’m in big trouble and so I put down the phone and that has haunted me ever since.
I’m 65 years old, been a long time. What I want to put on the table right now: suicide survivors and those left behind, I wear both those hats, and a lot of it has to do with Andrea. You see I do this mission now because it’s my gift to Andrea for the gift she gave me. Four years after Andrea took her life, I was in a life-changing motor vehicle accident on a highway in the middle of the night, it was 30 below Fahrenheit, there were no lights on the curve in the highway, my car was in the left lane of the highway and the one thing I noted just before the accident, I was stopped right in front of Andrea’s grave, a policeman was helping me, we were boosting my car. Unfortunately, he was very tall, so he saw the lights hit the curve, I was between the cars on the other lane side, and I learned much later that his limbic system took over, he dove into the snowbank and saved himself. When the cars hit and separated, I went up in the air and came down two lanes over on the highway missing a good piece of my left leg. I was almost seven months pregnant when they finally got me to the hospital because this was 1976, no cell phones, nothing fast, I was actually lucky that it was as cold as it was because that’s what saved me. As my leg froze and as even the blood was freezing in my legs and my feet, that gave them a little more time to try and save the rest of my leg. I was in the hospital for months and months, I had to relearn to walk, I had surgery after surgery and then lots of plastic surgery to try and rebuild a piece of my leg.
My dad says I should just tell people I got bit by a shark, because it’s a much better story for the hole in my legs. I have a very bent sense of humor and always have had, and I believe that’s part of why I’m here today, but most of it is when things got too bad and sadly the accident was not the worst thing that happened to me. At that time, there were a few times where I just didn’t want to go on and this is something really critical to understand that very often it’s between 78 and 82 percent of people that take their own lives, are in that time frame mentally ill, but for the most part, they’re not, they don’t want to die that’s not the point.
We want the pain to end whatever that pain is whether it’s spiritual, emotional, mental, or in my case physical you just want the pain to stop. And that’s the reason why about seven years later, I’ve decided to have some surgery that my family did not want me to do, nobody wanted me to go for the surgery and unbeknownst to us the doctor was being investigated, because he’d already killed two people with this surgery. He kept right on with his, I don’t know weird ways and messed up my surgery pretty bad, but he tried to cover it up and so didn’t tell us. After a week in the hospital, I got to go home for 17 hours and then all hell broke loose. I developed an abscess on my left lung, I ended up with peritonitis, I went septic, had another surgery and then a week later the third surgery in which I guess my heart stopped and the doctor at the time was more intent on covering his tracks, so he went in and took apart everything he had done.
We didn’t learn that for 12 years because we ended up having to go to court, but the next 25 years was spent for the first year in a bit, I fed through a tube in my side for seven months, he had cut my esophagus and diverted it out my neck, so I ended up wearing a colostomy bag on my neck and I have a bad habit of saying you know clear plastic is a b*** to accessorize. Nothing goes with that. I always look for the humor no matter, but I will say at the time there was a time where I had gathered more than 200 pills and I took every single one of them. When I came to in hospital, I realized what I’d done, and I could hear Andrea in my ear telling me how dare I when I railed against her leaving us and the pain that I knew she had left us in how could I possibly do that. So each successive event I would not get quite as close to the edge over the years, but I never told anybody my story I never said anything about the accident or the loss of my child or any of it until 2013. And I don’t know somebody asked the right question or pulled the plug we’re not quite sure what happened, but it all came tumbling out and in that moment I happened to be with some media people who said you have to tell people, you cannot sit on this, you could save someone and I ended up being asked to do a ted style talk at a big women’s event and of course I hired someone to walk me through it, I don’t like doing something unless I’m doing it correctly. And as I wrote it out and work with an editor, we realized that through all of this there was a thread and that thread tied to Andrea and I needed to honor her by doing something other than just telling my story, I needed to turn it into a mission and help others who like me just couldn’t handle the pain anymore, who like Andrea couldn’t handle the pain.
Elaine: I had started a podcast about three years ago the week after Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain left us and I did some but really it was kind of sporadic. The pandemic however has led to children as young as eight having suicidal ideation and people don’t tell you when they lose children that way. Okay, it’s an epidemic we are losing so many people because this last two years has turned everything on its head and I’m here to say first of all we have to end the silence, the stigma, and the shame and get it to children even to understand that we have bad thoughts sometimes and those bad thoughts we have to be able to deal with. And when we can equip the children then we’re going to be able to lessen how many we lose. I don’t know, I would hope that it would be in my lifetime, I don’t know but that’s my aim. And the fact is each and every person I know you feel alone and it’s like nobody cares, it’s not true. Reach out. I don’t care if you’re walking down the sidewalk, okay? Reach out to someone, anyone and just say can you please listen to me. Reach out on the internet, there are a million phone numbers, there are million places you can just knock on a door and talk it out, so you do not leave us today.
David: Yes, well Elaine that is an incredibly poignant very deep story, thank you for sharing that in such an open and honest way. And a couple of things I would say is that looking at you today you would never know that you had been through first of all the huge physical pain that you’ve been through and I know you’ve had multiple surgeries and several other things in your lifetime as a result of that accident, but if we were here just talking about SEO or finances to professionals, I would never know that this had happened to you and I think that is the situation with so many people that we know them for who they are on the outside, we don’t know them on the inside and if they’re too ashamed and too afraid to talk about their innermost feelings and their fears and to feel vulnerable and to know that it’s okay to feel vulnerable then that’s what we need to do, we really need to bring this out. And I think it’s very similar, I put it in a similar kind of category to things like social anxiety where, and I know I’ve had this situation you go to a social event you walk in the room you think that everybody is going to stop and stare at you, that doesn’t happen, people don’t laugh at you when you walk in the room similarly if you have a history of pain, emotional pain, physical pain and you want to talk about it, people will listen nobody’s going to laugh at you, nobody’s going to mock you, nobody’s going to bully you. Well does happen at times more so with maybe kids in school, but um for the most part, most people will be empathetic, and they will listen so very encouraging that you’re telling your story, I like to tell my story and we’re encouraging others to do the same. When you talk about the pandemic and here we are we’re recording this in October of 2021 so things have changed a lot and changed a lot for the better, but as we go into the next few weeks and we have coming up the holidays, I know in Canada you’ve already had thanksgiving, but we have thanksgiving in about another month here in the US and that kicks off the whole holiday season, Christmas after that, Hanukkah, Diwali, whatever it is that you celebrate, it’s a season of holidays, it’s a season that most people associate with joy, with happiness, with being with family, but unfortunately, it’s not that way for everyone, so I think it’s really important to know that there are people out there that are feeling alone and isolated, maybe because of the pandemic, maybe because that’s their life and they are alone, and they don’t have a whole lot of friends or family. So, anybody that you know out there that might be in an isolated state and is feeling the effect of the various lockdowns that we’ve had to endure, reach out to that person, invite them to thanksgiving dinner, invite them to your home for Christmas, the day after Christmas, whatever. Include people in your celebrations, include people with your family. It costs very little, it doesn’t really take a whole lot of effort and it can mean so much.
Elaine: Absolutely and there’s one other group of people that I want to speak directly to and that’s people like me who think you know you’re an island, you have to, it’s you against the world and you’re protecting other people from you. Well, guess what? I really believed I had to hold my story to myself, not just for the shame, but because I didn’t want to bore people. I just thought it was it was yucky and I would bore people and there’s a lot of people like me and I want to say the minute you reach out you’ll know that you’re not the only one, it doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through, we’re never the only one, there’s always someone else who’s been in that position. And my mom and dad from the time I was little if anybody was alone at Christmas, someone that worked with my father or someone my mother had run into or my grandmother, they were invited to our house for Christmas because my mother refused to have anyone be alone on a holiday and we all, like my kids too. We all do it because it’s important that people are with others at any time of celebration.
David: Yeah, absolutely and like I said I think it’s important all times of the year but coming up for the November, December time period I think it’s particularly important. So, Elaine how do you get your word out? I know that you have a podcast channel, you said that you’re active on clubhouse and I would imagine that your work in SEO integration must have helped you with getting the word out for your mission here because you’re well equipped, probably better equipped than many people to know how to get a message out so how do you go about doing that, how do you reach people?
Elaine: I’m very lucky in that way that I have that knowledge, I have the tools. When I decided to set up the podcast, I knew right away that I needed to integrate all the pieces, so that I was giving the search bots the right information. Okay, and little things for little companies, it’s as small as using the same picture for your profile all across the internet. If you use different pictures, with a hat on, without a hat, whatever, you’re telling the search engines that there’s more than one person and it’s probably not you. So, when you want to make a point, when you have information that’s critical for you to share, make sure that everything you put out, and this is a little tip I give all my clients, even your images, your pdfs, your videos, your podcasts, name them properly, so that they can be tracked back to you. Dash between every word, don’t go over 70 characters, make sure that you are showing those search bots that this is relevant to your area of expertise. We’re on page one.
David: I wouldn’t expect you to be anywhere else that’s great. And I’ve seen you’ve been, you’re active on twitter and I think many social media platforms.
Elaine: I’m also incredibly curious, I’m the second most curious person on the planet.
David: Can I ask who is the first?
Elaine: Well don’t know, but I guarantee they’re in Texas. Everything’s bigger and better in Texas, right? I’m not going to argue.
David: Canada is bigger than Texas, but we don’t need to get into that. So, Elaine before we wrap up here, I’d just like to ask you do you feel that you’ve helped people to, in the world of suicide survival, do you feel that your word has got out there, it’s got out to enough people and people have taken comfort in what you’re doing and you’re getting some positive results for your work?
Elaine: I can honestly say, every week I am so touched by people that come to the room clubhouse, by people that not only come as guests themselves, but send people to me to be a guest, but one particular woman said I was the conduit that allowed her to finally talk about her sibling. Another who learned very late about the true nature of her father’s death, so that I’m the first person she spoke to. I happened to see something she’d written about something else and I was kind of directed to talk to her. A gentleman haunted our rooms, I say haunted, for about three weeks and he came in and he said thank you for finally someone’s talking to us. I want to give you a platform to tell me as much or as little as you can, so that you receive comfort. That’s the whole point.
David: And do you have your clubhouse rooms on a regular schedule?
Elaine: Yes, Tuesday afternoon at 1 pm eastern and it is under the banner “Suicides Zen Forgiveness”
David: Okay, yeah, I think clubhouse is a wonderful medium, I joined a couple of rooms myself and have actually met some incredible people and people that I have actually interviewed for this channel myself, that I’ve met through the clubhouse room, so it is just amazing. So, Elaine one final thing if anybody feels that they want to be doing this as well, they want to help you, work with you, do something to help your cause and to further its benefit, what’s the best way of reaching you, what’s the best way that somebody could help the work that you’re doing?
Elaine: Well, you can email me at [email protected]. You can just look up Elaine Lindsey, I’m all over the place.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and I will respond, absolutely. And if you just want to share, if you just need someone to talk to that’s what this is all about.
David: Yes, and that is again I think the most important words and that a couple of things that I know you and I are great believers on is that a problem shared is a problem helped. It won’t necessarily solve it, but even on just day-to-day situational matters sometimes you just share with you know a partner, a spouse, a friend something that’s bothering you in life, you feel better for sharing it. Sometimes somebody can just give you that piece of perspective that will help you figure it out for yourself. I always say that the work the work of a therapist is not to solve your problems for you, it’s to help you solve your problems yourself and very similar if you have anything that you need to talk on, talk openly about it most likely somebody will help you and I think four of the most important words that I know you subscribe to “you are not alone” and you’ve referred to this in during this talk and I think that is very important to know.
Elaine: Yeah and one other thing that I think often people don’t really think about because it’s a little esoteric, but when you hold it in, that’s how we make ourselves ill. Our bodies are not meant to hold things, you know you ever see the herd of deer or the antelopes in the savannah, they’re all in a herd, they’re all standing around and they’ll sense a lion or something and they run. And then when they stop, they all shudder and it’s them shaking off what has happened. For some reason have not hung on to that little piece of it’s a gem that allows you to get rid of the garbage. So, I always tell people you know when you finished sharing, you will feel lighter and then I want you to do something super esoteric, but I want you to imagine a shower of light just clearing out all the garbage. And you can stand under that as often as you want and take it from me because I’m the one that held everything in. It’s not good, it’s really not good.
David: Very powerful words and I think that’s a great point for us to wrap up and finish up here. So, Elaine thank you so much for your words of wisdom today, this has been very inspiring talking to you, both about your professional life and especially about the great work that you’re doing in the awareness and the forgiveness, that you’re able to foster and help other people understand, so many thanks and I wish you every success and I know that we’ll keep in touch.
Elaine: Absolutely and make the very most of your today every day.
David: Thank you, you too, and thank you, everyone, for watching. If you enjoyed this video please subscribe to our channel, leave your comments below and until next time be well, be happy.