Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A brain hemorrhage that will positively influence your perception of your place in the world

Are you happy, right here, right now, or do you keep thinking about your past, your future, your business, your worries, you life.

This is not a video about changing your life because you would one day die. Neither it's a scientific look at the mechanics of a stroke.

The revelation of the true differences between our two brain hemispheres that you will find here and how it is presented makes this video worth your precious time.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Another dopamine injection!

Have just finished writing the descriptive version of the plus1living game intro. The full pdf with the beta version will be available next Wednesday.

Friday, 19 November 2010

17 hours over three weeks

One of the projects I've been working on has taken me so far only 17 hours (less than that if we subtract all the time wasters - one day this will be my next task - to streamline my morning work) over a period of nearly three weeks.

This brings me to a conclusion that it's not that these things don't take a lot of time, but the work isn't condensed, therefore in reality it drags out into weeks or even months. 

Another conclusion is that this is all new to me, a learning curve exists. I take time to read a book on the subject I'm working on (like positioning).

Lastly there are doubts and fears that will hold me back. These are probably the biggest culprits to me procrastinating.

The exercise I'm doing now is creating tons of anxiety which I'm successfully mitigating with the use of the ego Shield and the Assumption Assassin, but until I finish with it, I probably won't have much rest.

What I hope to get out of it is not a working business (the exercise is in product design and marketing), but the lessons in conquering my own fears, assumptions and unlocking myself (I must keep reminding myself of this...).

This is my second full project I intend to bring to fruition after the photo competition. What I hope to learn is a better understanding of product creation from choosing a target market first >>> then creating a product for it. I usually went the other way round.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Multitasking vs singletasking

I can't multi-task, I keep trying, but it just doesn't work for me.

When I multi-task, I can't concentrate properly and fidget. I end up multitasking every time when: I hadn't planned my tasks ahead and when tasks are put on my desk in front of me against my will.

If, on the other hand I decide in advance what I ought to be doing in time free from outside input (or at least reduced input), then time disappears and I'm in the zone (or flow). It only happens when I'm doing one thing only.

Therefore for me at least, the challenge is not in concentrating, but in planning ahead single tasks and allowing time for them.

What I do these days is plan my mornings (outside input free zone), and try to limit the 2 - 2.5h sessions to one to three related tasks max. This way I have a feeling that I know what I'm doing, I know where to start, and when my job is done with full accountability.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

"The world is all perception anyway" - sounds familiar?

This line comes from a short marketing book - "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing" and in full it reads: 
"Keep in mind that the world is all perception anyway, and the only thing that counts in marketing is the customer's perception"
 There must be something in this sentence if we agree with this genius who said:
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one"
 For me at this particular time it is something that helps me stop worrying about any of my marketing projects. I worry, because in the back of my mind some pressure to make money (to free myself from full time work and be independent from one person telling me what to do) seems to creep in from time to time.

The key (perhaps - since I've never produced anything yet) is to create something of value and test my worries within the advertising copy itself, by acknowledging certain points that may turn potential buyer off. According to the book, candor is usually well received by people. I can see it in one to one encounters with other people, especially when an argument is brewing. In a potentially explosive situation, it's better to give the other person some space by agreeing to own weaknesses. 

There's another great book, not a marketing book, but one that speaks about interpersonal relations. It was written in 1934 and is as valid today as it was then: Dale Carnegie's - "How to win friends and influence people"

That's it for now, I've emptied my brains

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I get a dopamine rush each time I have an idea

I will feel good every time I have an idea. I'm smiling now because not only I had an idea, but realised that the idea came in the middle of proper (I hope) research. Which means that I can without worry allow time for research and be sure that I will still be getting my drug :D

Monday, 8 November 2010

New business idea? Crucial post!

Today whilst having my morning shower, an idea for a product popped into my head (as they do). This time I am determined not to let my Ego get the best of me. I will speak with the Assassin and ask him to vigilantly guard the information channels coming to and from the Ego Shield and immediately slaughter any doubts and draw blood from my assumptions so I can easily test them.

Can Do pill will be taken close to overdosing in order to make sure I have enough push to endure a week or two of proper work on the idea.

I'm sure other Superpowers and Equipment will come in handy along the way.

Jane McGonigal Sermon on Productivity - school of life

Jane's awesomeness made it to London. Shame I wasn't able to go and see her. Next time.

Jane McGonigal - On Productivity from The School of Life on Vimeo.

Boredom vs Frustration

There is another post vaguely referring to what I wish to address here: defining the two action stoppers - boredom and frustration.

This doesn't fortunately require a lot of deliberation, simply stating the following :

Boredom - occurs when I know how to do the task, but would rather be doing something else

How to deal with boredom - eliminate the task if possible, if I can't and HAVE to do it - try again when I see some meaning again in the short or/and long term

Frustration - occurs when the task is new and there is a learning curve, but the show stopping thing is not the difficulty, but (what I think it is at this point in time) having no belief in the idea - or seeing no meaning, I'd rather be doing something else, and a combination of both

To deal with frustration - is there an alternative solution to the same problem? Am I not able to answer the questions: Why, what, how, etc? Have these answers lost their meaning?

What would be a good representation of both of these states in the Plus1living game?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

What Leads to Success - Richard St. John on TED

Whilst getting stuck on Task 1 of Challenge 1 and pretty much giving in, throwing my towel without much trying, because I just can't see anything that way, I remembered the slide I have saved to my documents after watching this TED talk:

The slide is this:

1. Passion - I have lots of it, but it seems that it's not for making money. Getting myself to sell stuff on ebay is like sliding on a barb wire to a pool of acid. When I do things I'm interested in and passionate about, time disappears, I'm in state of flow and things can move forward. I believe there are things among my passions that could bring money as well, but the fear of losing my job (and the resulting pressure on making money) is a show stopper. The other solution would be to allow myself time for a week of mornings as a test, and mitigating fear of losing my job by doing the fear setting exercise. 

2. Work - I'm fine with that when I'm interested in what I'm doing and believe in it.

3. Good - this is my Achilles Heel. It's not that I don't believe that I couldn't become good at anything, but rather not allowing myself time for it.

4. Focus - same as above, but treating time as a currency gives me a chance of focusing my energy on one thing. Then there's just being honest about using that time and slaying my distraction enemies.

5. Push - Don't know how to approach it, I'm not a big fan of push.

6. Serve - Millionaires serve things of value. This I'm comfortable with and believe I can do it, but only if I stop pressuring myself to make money first. Building this blog up and creating tools for me and other people is one idea I can create value (hence going through Challenge 1 seems pointless, when I already have something of value - now it's a case of finding my niche)

7. Ideas - tons of that; only need to allow TIME and energy to test them

8. Persistence - I can do it - I have done it. This comes down to doing it one thing at a time and deciding on short time periods to keep the doubts away

I don't know if me not trying to complete this task comes from the fact that this task is NEW, DIFFICULT to me or just plainly realizing the pointlessness and over-complicating of things (when I already have ideas, and ones I'm quite interested in - what lacks is the decision to test these, calculate potential profit and energy input). 

A friend on Tim's forum has pointed two the second potential reason and I can't help but I agree.

The problem that remains is that I still pressure myself and the reason seems to be fear of losing my day job (based on my job history - I never stayed in a job for long enough to make a career).

Perhaps the fear setting exercise is something I ought to consider but only after dedicating time to some idea testing.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tool "The Patient" - calms down my anxiousness

I still keep pressuring myself with creating a business, in spite that I'd never done it and don't know how to do it.

The songs words sooth my anxiety when it come to creating a business vs LEARNING how to create a business: "I must keep reminding myself of this"

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

There is something wrong about feeling good about being wrong

This relates mainly to my "wish" to create businesses that don't take up much time and produce enough income to provide a safe buffer and ability to invest or to realize expensive dreams (I love flying airplanes...expensive enough)

Often I will have an idea pop into my head and I will feel good about it. Nothing will happen as I would make an excuse that I lack the time to develop it and that I wouldn't want to commit to something long term fearing that this might be a time wasted (fear of being wrong)

Instead of forcing myself to think that it's OK to be wrong (hate the feeling really - it's unnatural), shift the need to be right to the circumference of the idea.

Simply allow myself to be right every time by learning to be the best at testing my assumptions. Get my feeling of importance from being the best, most effective in defining a target market and it's needs and measuring the response to my ideas.

I cannot be wrong with testing, as it's a science. I can make mistakes by omitting something, but I will be able to keep improving this SKILL.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain

TED on games yet again. It seems to be a topic that's gaining momentum as the worldwide profits in the gaming industry keep climbing without any signs of slowing down. Tom shares his view on how game designers tweak their creations so that the players spend more and more time playing.

I cannot comment the following seven point at this time. I have a feeling of where and how they could be implemented into Plus1living, however I also have a feeling where they would be working against the Self Determination Theory. What I mean by that is that Tom seems to concentrate a lot on how to motivate people from the outside in, but there isn't a lot in terms of evoking interest in the underlying activity.

Here are the 7 ways games reward the brain (with a drug - dopamine):
  1. Experience bars measuring progress
  2. Multiple long and short term gains
  3. Rewards for effort
  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback
  5. An element of uncertainty
  6. Windows of enhanced attention
  7. Other people
Watch the vid for details on the above list

Monday, 1 November 2010

Performing a profitability calculation before doing anything else

Here I wrote about a testing challenge for my idea to sell an MLM product on ebay with the company drop shipping it direct to customer.

I spent a total of 12h (over 4 days) on:

  • keyword research
  • competition research
  • profitability analysis 
My assumptions were that:
  • other distributors are only selling single products and not programs which leaves room for premium products
  • I could turn a profit thanks to low costs of ebay
  • I could compete with other featured products by crafting a superior copy
  • I would not have to spend much time on the upkeep of this as the MLM company would handle shipping and packaging for me.
To test these assumption I was getting ready to run some listings with featured first advertising on ebay for 10 days.

The previous three mornings were spent on keyword research and competition research, writing out headlines ideas, copy ideas and differentiators.

Initially this morning was supposed to be the copy writing morning, but I decided to move the profitability calculations from tomorrow in order not to waste time if those would prove discouraging, which they did.

I calculated that for the top program (of the three planned), I would need to be selling 3 per week (each selling for £118.80 !) just to break even after insertion and final value fees, featured first advertising and my value added pack. Which means that I would need to sell 4 programs per week just to turn a profit of £16.00...

Now, I understand that this is my assumption that this is nearly impossible to do, but I am basing that assumption on completed listings by another distributor, who sells the same thing for half price without the featured first ads, and in the span of 11 days sold three sets out of 8 listings, which means to me that the market is too saturated (at least on ebay) to try and enter it with the same product at twice the price no matter how good the copy.

This basically means that I have skipped testing all together.

Another approach that I could test in the future is doing the same thing but outside ebay - with Google or Facebook advertising and with my own store front. The problem is that being a reseller leaves very little margin. Usually (my assumption with some observations over past months or even years) resellers have varied stock, which means that they can generate revenue from cross selling products in the store. There is just too much competition as the MLM business is designed to create marketing through distributors' friends networks.

What I would need (my assumption based on advice in books I've read) is to create a product that would cater to a specific market solving a specific problem. 

Lesson Tokens to take away:
  • perform the profitability calculations early
EDIT: I received a letter today from the said MLM saying that I have violoated their rule of not selling stuff on auction sites as this undermines the personal relationships distributors build with clients. This only is another reinforcement of my decision and a reward for not wasting time deliberating options but cutting them down with my personal Assassin!

The Testing Game

Since equipping myself with the Assumption Assassin I have been thinking more and more about testing my assumptions. There are quite a few areas of my professional life that could use streamlining through elimination or increase of efficiency; even simply setting things up.

Often I find myself procrastinating any changes because subconsciously I think those changes will be forever and I fear that if I make a mistake it will stick with me forever.

This guy has been hovering with his ideas in my head for probably around two years now. I have read his book, salivated with each dream of freedom and owning my own business, but (and I am coming to this conclusion only now) I haven't actually put any of his advice to use - not even the dreamlining - or defining the exact expense of the things we want to do or have.

The more I listen to his point of view the more I see that he has had the same problems (to an extent) as i do now and emulating him in certain areas might be beneficial.

In the past I had implemented GTD for productivity, however I can see now that I only used the parts on dealing with the tasks that come my way from the outside, but not with setting priorities of the things that I wanted to do. These were tied to questions like: what do I want and what is my role in life, but such questions stipulate change and (as I can see now) I have resisted change.

The appalling part is that I had long assumed I had rid myself of that problem by repeating often the words: "zero resistance to change", but obviously I haven't.

Therefore (logically thinking), I should stop attempting to change my life in all areas, all at the same time, forever, but rather try out ideas (don't have to be mine, could be other's as well) one at a time for a limited period and see how it goes.

Quests - Archived

Depository for completed and deleted Quests:

Quest 1: CarpeDM Photo competition

Mission 1: Get canvas printers on board for the main prize - complete
+1 Networking

Mission 2: Get charity on board - complete
+1 Networking

Course Plotting: Waypoint set: decided on business structure: She will be self employed, all consequences will be to deal with as they come, I have set all the worries aside, am aware of all challenges and will deal with them as we go. I have set the waypoint and now for the mission: bonus mission 2: register as Self Employed - complete
Bonus mission 2: Small Facebook competition done together with a friend's local Facebook group to drive some local traffic to our fan page and increase our visibility. 

Mission 3: Get 5 schools on board, but speak to all school Headmasters indicated by the charity - current, but will start after 5th September when schools reopen after summer break.
22 sep 10: On Hold  
17 oct 10: deleted as impractical

Bonus mission 1: involve the local gallery to display the images taken by participants.
8th September: In progress 
17 oct 10: deleted because the poll showed people chose to display photos online only

Bonus Mission 3: involve the youth organisation in our town using known contacts. Do it by Friday 3rd September.
8th September: That deadline has not been reached, but it was reached today. It's still in progress, but contact has been made.
13th September: The local YMCA is on board! Mission complete!

Mission 4: 22 sep 10: Organise a group of young people to run the competition. They would effectively take all aspects of the competition under their management. To start with, contact the group leader of a recommended group.

26 sep 10: cancelling this bit due to increasing complexity.

Mission 5: Create a poster / flyer design or delegate it. Deleted after creating the blog

Mission 6: Create blog for the photo comp. Complete

Mission 7: Promote, promote, promote - cancelled

Quest 1 closed:
  • due to a realisation here
  • due to lack of interest proven with testing on Facebook

Epic Win: I want 5 people to submit a photo and donate money to the local charity. Before Christmas this year!

Superseded: participants, their school friends and parents visit the _________ gallery to view all photographs on display printed by our partner printers, there are reporters from the local media, officials from Woking Hospice, etc. The winner is announced and awarded with their prizes, the Hospice gets a big cheque handed whilst the reporters take pictures throughout the event. We get interviewed and introduce ourselves and create our image in the process. Our status and visibility in the town and county increases dramatically bringing visitors to our website and customers through our doors. The income from these customers is twice as much as we need to supplement my normal work income which gives us a positive outlook to the future. Our Facebook fan base increases which allows us to run our own little competitions, promotions and otherwise engage with our fan base.
Added 04 Sep 2010:
I'm doing this because it feels awesome to get to know new people and to bring them together to work on one great cause. The Hospice is non profit and can only work if people like me support it. They pay they great full time staff to look after people who already know they are at the end of their journey. It is sad, it's imperative these people get the best and the Hospice can do it, but it costs a lot to run.

Challenge 1: Learn to create a business UNDER CONSTRUCTION

I've never done it properly before, how long will it take me to identify a viable business idea?

What do I want to learn? Tim Ferriss method of creating a product and selling it
What is it? A series of tasks that allow anyone to create a business
Why am I procrastinating? They seem unexciting or difficult at the same time because I've never done it before and my brain freezes trying to gather it all at once AND pressure myself to start making money NOW.
Why do I want to learn this? I have been going round in circles for a few years now and I have finally became aware of this. I have been a fan of Tim's book; have watched interviews with him, read his blog and frequent his forum, but have NEVER implemented (or at least tried) his tips and recommendations.
I promise to thoroughly follow the layout of his method and see if what I learn will allow me to progress.
What are my assumptions:

  • why do I need magazines, can't I find same info on forums, ebay, etc? My assumption is that it would be a terrible waste of time. This is also supported by the statement that Tim puts later int he book that if he'd be doing it again he'd use something faster to market than magazines: newspapers, websites etc.
  • got the point of creating business status - this is scary, as it again implies doing it in the long term - what if I want to create many businesses in my life? Will I be labeled and won't be able to reposition myself? Perhaps limiting myself to using another expert might help. Dan Pink comes to mind with his many books about the works of other people.

Mission 0: Pick an affordably reachable niche

  • task 1: Make a list of groups I was, am or may have been a part of according to guidelines in the book
  • task 2: Which of these niches have their own magazines; choose ones according to guidelines in the book

Mission 1: Brainstorm Products - preferably information products

  • task 3: pick two markets I am the most familiar with that have their own magazines with full page advertising that costs less than $5000. There should be no fewer than 15000 readers
  • task 4: choose one of the three options:
    • create content myself, often via paraphrasing and combining points from several books on the topic
    • re-purpose the content that is in the public domain and not subject to copyright protection
    • licence content or compensate an expert to help create content. Fees can be one-time and paid up front or royalty based (5-10% net revenue, for example)
  • task 5: Use the following questions to brainstorm potential how to or informational products that can be sold to my markets using my expertise or borrowed expertise
    • how can I tailor a general skill to my market (a skill that can be applied by more people than my market only) or add to what is being sold successfully in target magazines (think narrow and deep)
    • what skills am I interested in that me and others in my markets would be willing to pay to learn? Become an expert in this skill for myself and then create a product to teach the same. 
    • Ties to the above question too: What experts could I interview to create a sellable audio CD? These people need not be the best, just better than most. Offer them a digital master copy to do or sell as they like and /or offer small upfront or ongoing royalty payment. Record to PC and send to a transcription service.
    • Do I have a failure to success story that could be turned into a how-to product for others? Consider problems overcome in the past - private or professional 

Mission 2: ADD LATER