Get Smarter – Life And Business Lessons

We’re a product of our environment. What our parents taught us, what our education stamped into us, what our experiences and interests have introduced us to. We simply can’t know what hasn’t been exposed to us in some way–no one is born with knowledge of anything. So we can only know what’s been put in our world in some way or another.

If you’re in the mood for an easy read that you’ll not only learn from but be inspired by, this is the book for you–Get Smarter – Life And Business Lessons. Think of it as a chat with a wealthy older uncle who wants to share with you what he’s learned. It’s written by Canadian self-made billionaire Seymour Schulich who has an obvious desire to leave a real legacy: sharing what he’s learned through his rich and full life with those who want to learn.

Here are some of the takeaways I got from the book, some are my own summaries, some are quotes:

The Decision Maker: A Tool For A Lifetime

Gah! I wish I had known this technique years ago! I have made some fat, messy decisions that have been life-changing and oh-so-wrong. Sure I’ve learned a lot from those mistakes, but in some cases they were painful and took quite awhile to correct and get back on course. The Decision Maker is simple:

  • Make a pro and con list as you may already do, but enhance that by setting a non-emotional based value beside each item (from 1 to 10). If the “Pros” are at least double in value of the “Cons”–go for it. If not, be very very careful.

Track The Cash

  • The most important thing to monitor is the trend of the cash levels in your enterprise. Simple but true, other metrics can reveal interesting things about your business, but can muddy the waters. The most important metric to monitor is the cash level–if it’s healthy and rising–your business is on the right track.

Investing In Foreign Countries

  • I find the information on China, India, Asia to be very interesting because we are a global market like never before. Not only as it applies to our lives, but when trying to guide our children into their future. This is serious stuff to consider IMO and for those in India (my personal interest is drawn here)–I think you’re in the midst of an amazing and phenomenal time right now for business and personal financial development, lucky you! ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Quote: “Roger Rosenblatt’s Rules for Aging says that if you want to live a long time, avoid swinish people. I’d expand this to include swinish countries where the rule of law is absent, property rights are questionable, and governments expropriate without compensation.”
  • A few of his experiences with investing in foreign countries is nightmarish and a definite piece of wisdom to put in your “Must Know” file. Some countries he’s had trouble with are parts of Eastern Europe, South Africa and South America. It’s so shameful because there is so much money in the world just waiting to be invested and put to good use that isn’t because of sheisty leaders or short sighted governments–what a waste of much needed job and business opportunities.

Don’t Let Cash Burn A Hole In Your Pocket

  • Don’t pay excessively for anything–a house, a stock, a piece of land–just because you have the money and the popular wisdom is that it can only get more expensive. The popular view is often wrong. The biggest opportunities come to those who can write a cheque when assets go on sale at knockdown prices–often during a period of economic turmoil or recession.
  • There is plenty of discussion in the book about storing up cash and holding onto it. Being patient–very patient–and being very picky and choosy about where to invest your cash. The rich get richer, why? Because they have the cash on hand to grab or take advantage of juicy opportunities when they arise.

The Oil Industry

  • Oil is entering a golden age of shortage of supply. Very tight oil markets will last for the next thirty to fifty years, until fusion power becomes commercialized. Fusion power will drive all cars electrically and power all homes. Oil may still be used for chemicals and flying planes. Its age will end as did the ages of wood power and coal power.

On Buying A Business

  • Remember: Ability is the poor man’s wealth. Don’t pander to the establishment looking for a break; they didn’t get where they are by giving things away or helping people like you. “Nobody sells a good, growing business.” (some exceptions: poor health, but for the most part it’s true).

Advisors/Consultants

  • Keep away from advisors/consultants. If they knew how to make money, they would. These folks are like the fellow who knows a thousand ways to make love but doesn’t know any women. (lmao).

Be The Promoter, Not The Promotee (Or Patsy)

  • Every profession is a conspiracy against lay people. Touches on credit cards, franchises–but see how easy it is to apply to the net marketing world. I kinda envision the world as a ‘pyramid’ with the very wealthy or successful at top and the masses (lay people) filling out the bottom. The lay people are NEEDED to support the top in their position. In an equal opportunity environment–that’s not a bad thing since it motivates the ‘lay people’ to strive to reach up. But keep that in mind for every song and dance that comes your way–we see it over and over again here in net marketing and right now there’s a big new rush being promoted. Look at it with fresh eyes, recognize the promoters and don’t be a patsy (or a promotee). You can choose to grow your own business or grow those above you.

Gold

  • It’s easy to print money, it’s not easy to find and produce gold economically. Gold is a “store of value” — an asset that, unlike cash, holds its real worth generation after generation. Keep at least 10% of your financial assets in Gold.

Home Buying

  • Get the well-located house that needs some fixing rather than the best house in a problem neighborhood. Me–I learned this the hard way. Your investment grows to much higher levels if the property is located in a desirable neighborhood rather than a not-so-desirable neighborhood.

The Law, Lawyers, and The U.S. Tort System

  • Advice to Canadian entrepreneurs: Until there is real U.S. tort reform, do not list or raise capital in the United States. Canadian, European, and Asian capital markets are large enough for virtually all capital needs. He discusses the lawsuit happy and lawyer-heavy country that the U.S. is. It can devour anything you develop in the states–total wipeout.

I haven’t heard much about the book but saw it rising in the ranks on Canada’s Amazon best seller list, so I had to give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did, I found it incredibly interesting. The book is 49 chapters that are packed with wisdom, but easy to follow and read. I read this book in one night and couldn’t put it down.

BTW, at the beginning of the book he talks about reading and how much he’s read in his life. Setting aside time to read one book a week is a recommended habit to get into.

Book Title: Get Smarter – Life And Business Lessons
Author: Seymour Schulick

ETA: Update – There’s a free Get Smarter Preview Chapter available to download in pdf.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott

New Rules of Marketing & PRI got a nice surprise when David included me in his thanks and sent me a proof copy of his new book: The New Rules of Marketing & PR along with an audio seminar Online News Releases. Sweet Stuff!

I’d like to share juicy tidbits of the book with you, but also talk about some things that I’ve learned as a marketer/blogger that correlates to what David has written. I hope it will be interesting, and be warned: this is a long post ;).

If you liked the Cluetrain Manifesto, you’ll like this book. Message: If you have something to sell–you need to understand, and respect, that consumers are now plugged in and connected like never before. Companies are slowly beginning to realize that building relationships and communicating with consumers is the fast track to manna.

David provides plenty of examples and actionable steps that can help expand your online reach–this book isn’t marketing theory and fluff, it’s all laid out with examples and steps to make. And HELLO! we could all benefit from that info. You don’t have to be big business to benefit from what he’s shared, there’s some great stuff in the book.

If you’re a company and you’re not trying to figure out how to connect with your customers online or how to generate buzz and work with bloggers, ***You Are Late***. Because some of your competitors already are, and the number is growing by the day.

Buyer Persona Profiles

David talks about developing “Buyer Persona Profiles”: Who are you trying to reach? What are their goals? Problems? What’s important to them? What are they doing online? What are they attracted to? and on and on. Flipping this to online marketers and bloggers, I’ve found that I have applied this with great success to one of my blogs.

You have to drill down and figure out who is that person you’re trying to reach–and then create content just for them.*

Although David provides examples and ideas for multi-Buyer Persona Profiles for companies and organizations to use, this is a tricky thing for bloggers because you know the “unsubscribe” notices are going to hit your inbox occasionally. And you know it is probably due to the fact that you are presenting a vibe or two that just isn’t “resonating” with a more/less sophisticated crowd. BUT if you stay focused on the “Buyer Persona” that you’re aiming for, instead of trying to kick it with everyone–you’ll see more chatter, more links, more comments, more subs. More blog stalkers. Guaranteed. It’s called tightly targeting your content.

David even goes so far as to suggest naming the persona and clipping a representative picture of one from a magazine and having it in your face when trying to develop the message to reach them. I found that to be really powerful stuff.

I found a vocal blog fan and focused on her (she commented and linked a lot). Carefully chosen, she seemed to fit what I had in mind of the type of reader I was trying to reach. What would she be interested in reading? What would she like to see on the blog? What would she link to? It’s working to the point that another blogger linked to the blog with a blurb along the lines of: this blog is like a crack addiction, can’t shake it. And that’s TRUE for a lot of readers on that blog.

Is your blog crack to someone? Would they miss it if it disappeared in some black hole? If that’s not the case, read what David suggests about developing Buyer Personas and develop one. Because it really does work.

*The best persona would preferably be one that compliments what you can offer and is true to you (as a blogger). It’s no use being fake and trying to attract vegetarians to your blog if a) you think they’re silly or misled for cutting out meat, and b) you don’t have a clue about the lifestyle, benefits and the choice. Your vibe will be ‘off’ and will have a hard time connecting with that persona–never mind driving yourself crazy trying to be something you’re not.

Page 135 (softcover, uncorrected proof version):

Often times, marketers and PR pros are amazed at the transformation of their materials and programs as a result of buyer persona profiling. “When you really know how your buyers think and what matters to them, you eliminate the agony of guessing about what to say or where and how to communicate with buyers,” says Revella.

and then:

“And of course, they’re wasting budgets building programs and tools that don’t resonate with anyone. It’s just so much easier and effective to listen before you talk.”

Key word: Resonate. Or how about: Grab them by the throat. And to do that–you need to be quiet and pay attention to that persona. When you know who you’re trying to reach and what they’re about–it’s so much easier developing content to attract them.

More sections to read:

How To Create Thoughtful Content (page 155)
How To Write For Your Buyers (page 159)
An Analysis of GobbledyGook (page 160)
Poor Writing: How Did We Get Here? (page 161)

It comes down to: Write for your customers/readers/visitors. Don’t make it “all about you”. Skip the promo language and the “trying to impress you” stuff that means nothing to anyone but you. Again: Know your buyer and what she’s interested in and write for her in her language.

(page 215):

Blogs and Media Relations

Getting your organization visible on blogs is an increasingly important way to not only reach your buyers, but also to reach the mainstream media that cover your industry, because reporters and editors read blogs for story ideas. Treat influential bloggers exactly as you treat influential reporters–read their stuff and send them specifically targeted information that might be useful to them. Offer them interviews with your executives and demonstrations or samples of your products. Offer to take them to lunch.

The blog of mine mentioned above is not a highly influential blog, but it does have some interest. It’s within the top 5,000 in Technorati and for the niche that it’s in, it’s doing great. And I’ll tell you this: Companies ARE going after bloggers. Mmm Hmmm. Even here on this little blog (SuperAff), I get proposals–but not very many are worthwhile because they’re just not handled right or the product isn’t right.

The key to best success for buzz is to make it EASY for a blogger to write about you, and the best way to do that is to make it mutually beneficial. Free products to try, exclusive freebies for visitors (without the lame s&h charges), free content like reports and white papers and little-known hacks (that a blogger can do with what they will in their own way/words).

David’s approach with his new book is a PERFECT EXAMPLE on how to do this well. He wrote up a big blog post linking to a group of bloggers and thanking them, then offered to send them the book for free (along with other goodies).

This gave bloggers a few different things: Flattered the ego (:heart:); Provided content ideas (book review and commentary); Freebies & Goodies (he even autographed the book).

Here’s the buzz that single page of his that I linked to at the beginning generated: Technorati. Over 100 blog links and growing, and if you have a website at all–you know how difficult it is to get 10, never mind 100+ freely given links. Then add all the rest that linked to his main page instead and all the book reviews that are yet to come.

That’s exactly how you connect with bloggers and get them to talk about you, and with great energy too.

It’s *INCLUSIVE*. Look at the people he linked to. All kinds of various blogging personalities. Some big wigs. Some smaller bloggers. And everyone in between. He reached out to a wide spectrum of people, and he was genuine with his outreach. He really did embrace and thank a bunch of people. That makes it so easy to respond to!

Big business, small business, small time online marketer or big time blogger: the book does provide a lot of food for thought, a deeper understanding of what’s happening online as well as actionable steps to take that will help your online presence grow. And David fully demonstrated with his book launch that he knows what he’s talking about ;).

Congrats David, the book’s a hit in my eyes! And it helped me too, thank you for the copy ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: Chapters not mentioned that were big hits with me were the podcasting and news release sections. I’d love to delve into those areas, ack! I need more time!

Pick up your own copy: The New Rules of Marketing & PR *Not an aff link. His blog is pretty cool too.

Bookmarks & Freebies Roundup Plus Updates

Freebies:

System Information for Windows
WP Plugin: Preview Site Themes Privately
WP Plugin: Feedburner Feed Stats
3 more GTD wallpapers! *Nice!
Download a …coffee replacement, really! *I’m scared to try it lol!
popuri.us Added
PPC Keyword Generator *Software
101 Essential Freelancing Resources *Tools, lots, don’t get lost ๐Ÿ˜‰
Urban Fonts *Added
Turn Any Site’s RSS Feed into an Email
R|mail subscription widget

Good Stuff:

Free Chapter From Professional SEO With PHP!
The Article Marketing Experiment ($400/month with Clickbank)
One Way Inbound PR 9 Links For FREE
How to Make Money with Domains – Essential Resources for Beginners
A Comprehensive Guide to StumbleUpon: How to Build Massive Traffic to Your Website and Monetize it.
Paid Forum Posting – Worth it?
Positive and Negative Quality Ranking Factors from Googleโ€™s Blog Search (Patent Application)
Being Scraped? Here is Something You Can Do
The Ultimate WordPress Htaccess File?
Organize your pdf library with itunes

Pages Updated

Something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and finally got through tonight–I checked the links on the Affiliate Marketing Blogs page and cleaned out the links from blogs that are no longer online or updating. If I’ve removed your blog, it’s probably because it was offline when I checked. Just shoot me a note (with your url) and I’ll re-add it.

The page has a nice mix of blogs I think, everything from more chat based and newbie info to more advanced. However, I think it’s a little bare. If you have an affiliate marketing blog, let me know and I’ll check it out. I’m not interested in Internet Marketing blogs or blogs that mainly review or push products–just affiliate marketing please.

I’ve also updated and cleaned out the Webmaster Tools page. If you haven’t visited it in awhile, you may want to when you have some time. I’ve been reacquainted with some cool tools I forgot about while double checking the list ;).

A few graphics resources were added to the Freelance & Outsourcing page. It’s pretty bare too and if you have a service to offer, let me know.

Whew! All done, till next time ;).

ETA: Forgot to mention the forums were picked through as well and all the domains that were dead or hanging have been removed.

New Ventures Without Capital Blog

I just received a note from Bruce Judson about his new blog Ventures Without Capital

The goal of this blog is to find the best, low-cost Web services that will assist individuals in building successful, large businesses. In general, this means I am looking for services that increase productivity and leverage people’s time and talents.

Judging from the notes I received, many found Bruce’s book Go It Alone a real kick in the pants and a beneficial read. Bruce has a good eye for leveraging time, I’m interested in seeing what he comes up with on his new blog.

Check it out here: Ventures Without Capital

Freakonomics – Loved It!

Another book I finished reading recently was Freakonomics, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. For anyone who loves pushing away the spoon (from spoon feeding attempts or you’re pro-Critical Thinking, whatever term you wish), this book was written just for us! But there is great brain food offered for webmasters too if you wish to apply the info to your online world.

Data. Stats. Demographics. Numbers. All these things can be massaged into giving you clues or answers to questions you have.

Some chapters:

The Klu Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents
What Makes A Perfect Parent?
Drug Dealers Living With Their Moms
Where Have All The Criminals Gone? (Suggests Roe vs. Wade and legalized abortion is the answer)

Freakonomics – page 11

Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work–whereas economics represents how it actually does work. Economics is above all a science of measurement. It comprises an extraordinarily powerful and flexible set of tools that can reliably assess a thicket of information to determine the effect of any one factor, or even the whole effect. That’s what “the economy” is, after all: a thicket of information about jobs and real estate and banking and investment. But the tools of economics can be just as easily applied to subjects that are more–well, more interesting.

Ultimately, the message of the book is this:

Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing […and…] An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

A book on economics? B-oring? Not at all, it is so interesting and I found myself zipping through the book–captivated to the core.

How on earth can this be a worthwhile read for a webmaster? Well understanding incentives and how people react to them (in a way you hope or in the opposite direction), and why they react the way they do–that can be pretty mighty information.

At the very least you’ll probably never look at data and stats the same way again. You can check out the blog here: Freakonomics – Blog

BTW, Here’s a hint if you find yourself at a creative standstill…I was struggling for quite awhile a few months ago. Not feeling very inspired, creatively starving, not finding much information that satisfied me or filling that hole that wants real, workable, knock your socks off knowledge. I dropped from approximately 400 blogs I was subscribed to down to 78 (and that includes a good number of blogs I’m tracking for research/clues) then dove into my pile of books waiting to be read.

I’m on fire again ;).

And another hint: Read enough of the right books and you’ll see where some of the pro and maybe not so pro bloggers and big boy gurus are ripping their content ideas from–without book mentions, those sonofaguns lol. But hey, if you’re looking for content ideas, pick up a book and see what happens.

Money for Content And Your Clicks For Free

I brushed off another book from my To Read book pile:

Money for Content and Your Clicks for Free
Turning Web Sites, Blogs, and Podcasts Into Cash
Author: JD Frazer

I think many of you will be interested in it and find it a worthwhile read.

The book isn’t a ‘Get Rich Quick Online’ guru net marketing kinda book, it’s actually quite useful I thought. It’s more for content creators rather than net marketing or affiliate marketing type sites. JD talks a lot about serving ads, being tuned into your site visitors and being aware of what methods will fit them best.

He discusses various things like working with ad agencies and agents, copyrights and protecting your work, dealing with fame, dealing with feedback (both positive and negative), paid memberships, developing online communities (forums) and what to look for and be aware of. It isn’t rocket science and you probably won’t have any big ‘Ah Ha’ moments if you’ve been a web developer for more than a couple years, but the information provided is a solid reference package IMO. I’m glad I bought it and spent the time reading it (it’s a quick and easy read as well).

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the book was looking at the content you create and freely provide as a trade between you and your visitors. You create, you freely provide, they need to give back a bit if they want to continue benefiting from or enjoying the information you crank out. Even if everything was free (the domain, the hosting), the time you spend creating content to be consumed has value to it.

That’s a concept I embraced last year for myself. If you have good visitor counts and the time you spend on a domain isn’t generating a level of response from those visitors (comments, links, ad support, etc.), you have two choices as I see it. Figure out what your visitors are responding to (look at the success stories in your niche) and decide if that’s a direction you want to go in, or move the bulk of your efforts to the domain(s) that are succeeding in generating a visitor response.

If your market is responding to boobies, beers, and rock & roll–are you willing to go down that road? Can you come up with an environment that will trump that with the readership you’re going after? Do you have good reason to (ie. is it a worthwhile focus for your overall goals)?

Here’s JD’s ‘contract’, he’s a cartoonist and his website provides an original daily cartoon:
*(found on page 150)

  • I will provide one cartoon a day, every day, 365 days a year (366 on leap years).
  • I will always be the author of the daily cartoon. I will not feature guest cartoonists to fill in for an absence.
  • I will not use the daily cartoon as a promotion vehicle for $CORPORATION. What goes in the daily cartoon is limited to the story I wish to tell. Any products or services within the daily cartoon exist solely for the sake of the story.
  • I understand that making a living from this is a privilege, not a right.
  • I will strive only to run ads that are relevant to the audience.
  • I will not gate off the cartoon to paying members only. I understand that not everyone has money to spend and that they can contribute in ways other than with cash.
  • I will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let my conscience be my guide.

In return, I hope:

  • You will respect my intellectual property and acknowledge my sole right to determine how it will be used and distributed.
  • You understand that content is not actually “free”; someone has to put their time, money, and/or effort into creating and distributing it.
  • You will support me and the other independent creators whose work you enjoy through the purchase of memberships, visiting our advertisers, or even just by spreading the word and letting us now you like what we do.
  • You will not use an ad blocker, particularly when you can turn the ads off by buying a membership.
  • You will not consume content by Web-scraping or any other unsanctioned means that denies me or any other primary content creator pageviews and, therefore, ad impressions and, therefore, money to help keep their efforts afloat.
  • You understand that you don’t have a right to free content on the Net.
  • You will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let your conscience be your guide.

A few things I see here, one is that JD is committed to his visitors. He’s going to give them all he’s got, a steady stream of original work, not bring in hired guns or volunteers to fill slots. He’s going to provide them with steady content (in this case cartoons). He’s not going to rape them for financial gain (sell them out to the highest bidder or whoever waves a buck), he will be considerate with his monetization. He acknowledges that cash support isn’t everything, word of mouth support, feedback, it’s all good and appreciated. And also: he’s not obligated to his visitors to provide a continuous stream of original content if they don’t support it. He’s not entitled, but neither are the visitors.

One of the best, best, BEST things I did for myself online was last fall in my decision (and action) to be cutthroat, ruthless and slice back time spent on web properties that weren’t connecting well with visitors. For whatever reason. Maybe the content sucked. Maybe the content was ‘meh, ok’. Maybe the content had some value, had something to offer–but nothing to dig in and support (in the visitors opinion). Whatever the reason, I learned what I could from that experience, then sliced that time down and re-focused it on creating content in places that were working and that are making a connection.

When you have made a solid connection with visitors, keep feeding and nurturing that success, and it keeps growing. More energy/content creation => More response => More success. If the content production isn’t producing growing response and growing success, there’s a reason (assuming that you do have a visitor base in place).

How do you know you’re connecting with your visitors? Feedback, comments, they’re sharing your site with others, inbound links, ad support, social media encouragement. If they’re not doing those things, your content is probably just ‘meh’. When something’s worthwhile to you or holds value, you respond, give support and maybe have an emotional attachment in some way. You’re happy to share it and respond in a natural way.

One thing I was surprised by: he was the first web success story I’ve come across (at least that I remember) that says Adsense is filler only. There are much better returns found elsewhere.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am glad I bought it :).