ive often said i dont like being on panel discussions

and tonight i was faced with why

even though i have a website with my name in it, and even though i fake it reasonably well, (not so) deep down i am ridiculously shy

and i know myself well enough to realize that if i have my mouth open the odds significantly increase that i will say something embarrassing to either myself or my employer.

but people invite me to these things, and i battle the fear of being boring with the fear of making a fool outta myself and a lil demon whispers in my ear something along these lines:

you are tony pierce OF COURSE you are going to say something stupid, so just dont Also be boring. and ps you cant hide who you are.

those voices make their way to my stomach. which is the magic 8 ball of my soul. so for lunch i ate a sensible salad. and when i left a little early to change clothes at home i went to Vons and got a nice spicy tuna roll

because what could be better for a soon-to-be-upset stomach than supermarket sushi?

but relaxed at home for a few minutes. snacked. ished, showerd, and shaved. got into some traffic. made it to the santa monica with 4 minutes to spare.

and when the time came for we, the panel to be introduced, thank God, the host of the show took the floor (pictured above) for 10 minutes because suddenly it got really hot in the room and i ran to the mens room to powder my nose cuz i was fixin to die.

got back just in time as the panel had introduced themselves, it was my turn and we were off.

all went (seemingly) well – other than the sustained hiss i got from one member of the audience after i told the crowd of attractive young women that if they all dont have a photo of themselves as their Twitter icon then they’re missing a great opportunity if attaining followers was one of their goals.

i even got a few laughs.

but right at the end someone asked what my favorite blogs were. and i said, well it might seem like pandering but i have often said my faves have almost exclusively been women and most of them happened to reside in Canada.

i explained that two in particular was one raymi the minx and one keira-anne. and, because time is of the essence, especially near the end of a two-hour discussion, i described one as “sweet” and the other as “saucy”.

somehow all i was projecting was that i liked them because they were both easy on the eyes.

and i got called out.

a followup question came from the back along the lines of “other than being hot what ELSE do you enjoy from these female bloggers?”

and your hero thought, this is exactly why your stomach did not want to be here. this is precisely why i should just stay in my pajamas and hide behind the glow of the macbook. this is specifically why i attempt to remain comfortably numb in public – because when i drop my guard the unedjumacated politically-incorrect sexist pig leaks out and everyone can see.

but luckily i was able to explain that yes people like raymi and keira and so many others may lure you in with their beautiful photos but once you get beyond the image and get to the actual content you get to see not just who these fine women are but you learn a little about the cities and country that they live in. you get to learn about their struggles, insecurities, hopes, loves, dramas, families, and stories.

after the show the young lady who had put me on the spot was super sweet and apologized for what was probably seen as an awkward moment, but i told her not to sweat it, that it was honest and great because all we had been talking about was to be honest in our blogging and tweeting and there she was actually living it.

anyways if we hadnt been rudely interrupted by one of the only other dudes in the place i wanted to tell her that right now my favorite summer blog is also written by a young lady, but an AMERICAN

yes, Alecia’s asian vacation is the type of travel writing that can only be seen in blogs for its honest, not trying to be anything other than what it is, educational, funny, weird, filled with pictures, and so so many interesting tales.

more female bloggers i am inspired by and hope to one day be as good as (lets try to keep it to 10): leah, lindsay, erin, gage, zulieka, krista, danielle, katfran, xiaxue, and last but not least the so nsfw xtx

ok now im going to drink that beer i promised myself.

some people flock to the spotlight

some people adore the public attention

not me. i like the behind the scenes action. i like the personal relationships. i like helping those with the dreams of being a star to reach those dreams.

yet somehow i often find myself on a stage or in front of a camera or being quoted by the powerful and its so embarrassing to me because i swear to you my desire is to be in the back back background.

a ghost in the machine.

yesterday at this time i was freaking out because i was preparing to be the host of a panel discussion in the Chandler Auditorium at the LA Times.

that would be scary enough. but in the audience was all of our major advertisers. so one false move and… tragedy.

little did i know our publisher (pictured, above) was going to introduce me, and my boss was going to follow me and show off our new redesign which we will launch next month.

on the panel were two entrepreneurs (one from Ning, one from Passenger), our social media chief at the Times – Andrew Nystrom, and a VP from Facebook. the discussion was social networking and social media and how brands and advertisers could better use it to attract and retain their customers.

i was shaking, which in a way is a cool feeling because it reminds me that im alive. its the same feeling i get right before im about to kiss a hot babe for the first time. but its not a feeling that i live for like some of the actors and musicians ive met. its an unnatural buzz that i wouldnt mind not having for the rest of the year.

but i learned from years of public speaking when i was a rep for Philips/Magnavox and several startups that the best way to get rid of the shakes is to literally jump into the fear. so off-script, after i took the stage but before i introduced the panel, i took the wireless mic with me into the standing room only crowd and said hi to the advertisers in the front row. there was amoeba and audi and LA Live and several others and i asked everyone to give each other a round of applause for making it to the 9am summit and we were ready to rock.

all went well, people laughed when they should. we had a twitter stream running on a huge movie screen behind us, and we invited people to comment with the hashtag #smms at the end of their tweet, and i think many were impressed and amused that their message instantly made it on the screen for all to see. it was proof that social networking was all around is, part of our literal and virtual conversation, and it was clearly in the house.

afterwards people congratulated me, but i was just happy it was over. some people are Talent, as they call actors and musicians in hollywood, im quite satisfied just being part of the crew.

around lunchtime i got an email from one of the powerful women who put together the summit. she was inviting me and the dozen other LAT staffers who were integral to the event for a pizza party upstairs, and i saw something that id never seen before. it was super cool. after we had our pizza and ate cupcakes, she went around the table and personally thanked each and every one of us in a heartfelt and beautiful way. she even thanked my intern (who had been running the computer that showed the twitter stream) because one false move and tragedy could have happened. as we walked down the hall after the lunch i told him, i know youre 20 and never had that many jobs – what you just saw, high ranking management being that sincere and geniune is something ive never seen in all my days – and ive worked with great people before, and i currently work with great people. but i told my guy, dont get used to that, that was super cool and very out of the ordinary.

and the rest of the day was wild, but i felt the after buzz of all that adrenaline. and it was so very nice to end the day with sushi with karisa and much needed booze.

the best quote of the panel? it came from andrew leary of the social media network Passenger. in describing social networking he said something so good that it fit this tweet: social media is like teen sex. everyone wants to have it; no one knows how to do it; when it’s over they say “that’s it?!?”

the best reveal of the summit? our publisher announced that according to neilson the LA Times website is the fastest growing newspaper site over the last 12 months. whereas some websites have actually lost readers (huge newspapers that many of you know), LAT.com is number 1 by a LOT.

you can see the rest of the stream of #smms tweets here.