In case you are new to Beyond the Rhetoric, I’d like to introduce to you a weekly feature here called What’s Up Wednesdays. It is here that I link out to various blogs, highlighting posts from around the web. This is my little way of giving back to the online community. For today’s edition, we follow the theme of friends.

To that end, Thursday Bram starts us off with a discussion on the infrastructure of friends. While they are certainly there to provide you with personal support, it’s also important to recognize that your network of friends can also be very helpful in a professional context too. You just have to want to help them as well. Life and work can be integrated, not balanced.

During Freelance Camp Vancouver this past weekend, Raul Pacheco-Vega did a talk on how he treats himself as a project. One of this tips was to only work with smart people and refuse to work with stupid people. It may not sound very nice to say something like that, but it is only when you surround yourself by positive, brilliant, and inspirational folks that you can achieve great success yourself.

What about your “friends” online? Are they really your friends? Deb Ng explores this concept, discussing whether social networking is losing its luster. Along with many of her peers, Deb has “trimmed the fat” with who she follows on Twitter and “friends” on Facebook, making for a more intimate and real experience. This helps to reduce the noise, but you also run the risk of missing out on some signal too.

Stress can be a good thing. This is a lesson that Damien Riley is slowly learning as he is recognizing the difference between bad stress and good stress. He had a professor who once told him that it was necessary to be a little nervous before public speaking. The goal is not to eliminate the butterflies, but to get them to fly in formation.

Last and certainly not least, we turn to my good friend Ray Ebersole. While he has been able to make some progress battling diabetes, he also recognizes that sometimes you just have to maintain. The key is never to give up and to keep working on improving yourself and your health.