Category Archives: Consultant

15 Ways to Retire Earlier

AN EARLY START TO YOUR GOLDEN YEARS

The word “retirement” and number “65” are as linked in the North American psyche as “bacon” and “eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?

Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.

Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal.

Are you fantasizing about early retirement. Here’s how to make that dream a reality.

1. LIVE TWO TO THREE TIMES BELOW YOUR MEANS

Sorry, folks: Simply skipping that $4 latte in the morning ain’t gonna cut it. It takes a much more committed approach where “sacrifices” are viewed in a new light. “It’s amazing when I work through the numbers that some people think manicures, landscapers and maids are a need,” said Michael Chadwick, a certified financial planner and CEO of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, Conn.

2. REDEFINE ‘COMFORTABLE RETIREMENT’

Less spending later constitutes the flip side of less spending now. If you imagine comfy retirement as a vacation home and monthly cruise ship trips, revisit that vision so you don’t have to bleed cash — but can still retire in style. Instead of two homes, for example, why not live in your vacation destination and pocket the principal from selling your primary residence?

3. PAY OFF ALL YOUR DEBT

That’s right, all of it. First: Is it time to pay off your home? You might not have the resources now to plunk down one huge check, but consider savvy alternatives such as switching from a 30-year to 15-year mortgage. Monthly payments aren’t much higher, but the principal payoff is much greater. Second: Do the same with loans and credit cards, as high interest eats up income faster than termites chewing a log. A credit card balance of just $15,000 with an APR of 19.99 percent will take you five years to eradicate at $400 a month — and you’ll dish out a total of $23,764.48, the calculator on timevalue.com shows.

4. CONSIDER OVERLOOKED FINANCIAL RESOURCES

While it’s risky to count on unknowns such as an inheritance, you might have cash streams available outside the traditional retirement realm, said Jennifer E. Acuff, wealth advisor with TrueWealth Management in Atlanta. For example, “Understand your options with respect to any pensions you might be entitled to from current or previous employers.”

5. INVEST EARLY AND AGGRESSIVELY

If you’re in your 20s and start investing now, you’re in luck, said Joseph Jennings Jr., investment director for PNC Wealth Management in Baltimore. “Due to the power of compounding, the first dollar saved is the most important, as it has the most growth potential over time.” As an example, Jennings compares $10,000 saved at age 25 versus 60. “The 25-year-old has 40 years of growth potential at the average retirement age of 65, whereas $10,000 saved at age 60 only has five years of growth potential.”

6. MARRIED COUPLES: PLAY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT MATCHMAKER

The wisdom of taking advantage of a company match on the 401(k) is well established — but think about how that power is accelerated if a working couple does it with two such company matches. “If your employer has a matching contribution inside of your company’s plan, make sure you always contribute at least enough to receive it,” said Kevin J. Meehan, regional president-Chicago with Wealth Enhancement Group. “You are essentially leaving money on the table if you don’t.”

7. PRACTICE SOUND CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT

The methodology is simple, yet the results can be profound: Put money at least monthly into systematic investments during your working years. “There’s no other element of investment planning or portfolio management that’s more essential over the long term,” said Jesse Mackey, chief investment officer of 4Thought Financial Group in Syosset, N.Y.

8. JUMP ON EMPLOYER STOCK PURCHASE PLANS

How about some free money? The ESPP typically works by payroll deduction, with the company converting the money into shares every six months at a 15 percent discount. If you immediately liquidate those shares every time they’re delivered, it’s like get a guaranteed 15 percent rate of return,” said Dave Yeske, managing director at the wealth management firm Yeske Buie and director of the financial planning program at Golden Gate University. “Add the after-tax proceeds to your supplemental retirement savings.”

9. START THAT RETIREMENT ACCOUNT TODAY

That is, the earlier the better. Millennials who kick off retirement accounts early will reap big rewards later. A 25-year-old who socks away $4,000 a year for just 10 years (with a 10 percent annual return rate) will accrue more than $883,000 by the time she turns 60. Now then: Can’t you just taste those pina coladas on the beach?

10. PLAN SMART VACATIONS AND TRAVEL — AND INVEST THE DIFFERENCE

There’s no sense in depriving yourself of every single thing, especially well-deserved time off. But Yeske points out that you can save a ton in 150 countries through a service called HomeExchange.com. “My wife and I have stayed for free in London, Amsterdam, New York and Costa Rica,” he said. “And when you’re staying in someone’s home or apartment, you don’t have to eat out at a restaurant for every meal, so your food costs nothing more than if you were at home.”

11. DON’T LET YOUR MONEY SIT IDLE

To get to an early retirement, you have to periodically revisit your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to make sure your money doesn’t grow cobwebs. For example, the way your retirement account is diversified shouldn’t put too much emphasis on low-yield investments — such as money market funds and low-yielding bonds. “Dividends can pile up in the money market account, typically earning one one-hundredth of a percent,” Yeske said. “Make sure your cash is invested properly.

12. HOP OFF THE HEDONIC TREADMILL

In this curse of consumerism, you buy something expensive, feel excited and then scout for something else to purchase when the “new car smell” wears off. And it’s a huge trap if you want early retirement, said Pete, a finance blogger who retired in his 30s. Another advantage: “Here in the rich world,” he wrote at MrMoneyMoustache.com, “the only widespread form of slavery is the economic type.”

 

13. LOOK FOR PASSIVE SOURCES OF INCOME

Early retirement doesn’t necessarily mean retiring all of your income, especially if you find ways to bring in money without hard work. Investing in rental properties is one way you can create a cash flow stream — and you can minimize the labor by hiring a property manager. Or: Set up an internet sales business and hire a part-timer to fulfill orders and track stock based on volume

14. ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES

Here’s an alternative way to get to “At ease, men.” By serving in the military, you can also serve yourself. Members commonly retire after 20 years, living off generous pensions and health insurance. Even though President Obama in March proposed sweeping changes to military retirement and health benefits, earlier-than-normal retirement should still remain an option for many men and women in uniform.

15. HIT THE ROAD OR GO JUMP IN A LAKE, INDEFINITELY

Some middle agers are selling the bulk of their possessions — including the home — and moving into tricked-out mobile homes and houseboats. These options also open the door to a life of leisure travel and can eliminate major expenses, such as property taxes and mortgage payments.

If you think of retiring early as simply walking away from everyday life — and thus a pipe dream — it’s time to take a step back and look at how others have done it. You might enjoy your job immensely and have friends in the trenches with you. But if work is taking too much away from your family time, community bonds, overall health and peace of mind, you might do well to consider one of the smartest alternative investments of all: yourself.

If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

 


If You Want Greatness, Take Responsibility

By Matt Mayberry @Matt_Mayberry

“If you had to pick one quality that someone needs to possess, what would that be?” someone recently asked me. 

After I was forced to give just one answer, I said, “If I had to pick just one quality, it would be taking complete and full responsibility for your life.”

Yes, there are a plethora of different qualities and habits that must be developed to truly become great, but there is no better starting point than taking complete responsibility for your life.

We live in a world where maximum results are expected with minimal effort given. If something goes wrong, it’s someone else’s fault. If you’re not happy financially, it’s the economy’s fault. If you’re not happy in your marriage, it’s your partner’s fault. If you’re not being compensated as much as you would like, the company doesn’t pay enough.

Any of those sound familiar? Chances are some hit home. It’s human nature to blame circumstances or the next person instead of taking ownership. However, in order to live a truly exceptional life, you must put an end to this way of thinking immediately.

So how can we once and for all start taking complete responsibility of our lives? Here are three ways to help get you started.

1. Decide.

It all starts with a firm decision to do so. It sounds simple, but there is a very small percentage of people who actually make the decision to take responsibility for their lives. They keep going back to their old ways and lose sight of the fact that they are the ones in the driver seat.

Force yourself to stop looking outside of yourself for things you are in control of. It’s a simple concept, but not easy by any stretch of the means. From here on out, make the firm decision that no single event or person is going to dictate your level of achievement.

2. Stop playing the blame game.

A large number of men and women from all walks of life struggle with this one, including myself from time to time. As I mentioned above, what’s easy to do is to blame your partner when a relationship gets shaky. What’s easy to do is to blame the government for a lack of financial success.

It’s absolutely imperative that you throw away every single excuse and start taking ownership in every area of your life. There is no way we can ever grab a hold of our lives completely when we are too caught up in the awful habit of playing the blame game.

3. Make a promise to yourself.

Something that has worked wonderfully for me is to write a simple creed on a notecard promising myself that taking complete responsibility for my life is something I will abide by every waking moment. It can be something as simple as, “I, Matt Mayberry, promise that I will never lose sight of taking full responsibility for my life.”

Legacies have been built and history has been made by men and women who decided to take complete ownership of their lives. Are you ready to do the same?

 

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

Designer

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

By Ari Rabban

Being beyond busy just comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur.

Whether you’ve got a business that’s been operating for years, or you’re just itching to get work done on a project of your own, many challenges stand in the way of entrepreneurial efficiency. Thankfully, with the right tools at your disposal, there is a way to get to the other side.

Breaking Down Your Breakdowns

Any time an obstacle blocks the path to your productivity, it falls into one of three categories.

The first is good old-fashioned distraction. Whether you find yourself distracted by noisy co-workers, something outside the office, or just the idea of the pile of tasks still waiting to be done, we all know how easy it is to have our attention misdirected.

Then it’s a question of prioritization. Managing a big project or running a startup involves attending to an endless list of demands. Finding a way to distinguish the critical from the important and the non-pressing is essential to navigating workflow.

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula explains how to master this 5% vs. 95% Rule, which is a formative principle for every truly successful entrepreneur.

Finally, there’s the question of function. Nothing crimps your process like getting hung up on some functionality issue. Maybe you’re trying to figure out a way to process a payment across platforms or your progress comes to a screeching halt when a problem pops up with your data security. Whatever the cause, suddenly you find that you’ve spent hours trying to accomplish what seems like it should take 10 minutes.

The solution to each of these issues, however, might be as near as your own pocket.

Letting Technology Do Its Part

Contemporary entrepreneurs have a vast toolbox — all on their phones — that wasn’t available a few years ago. Over the past decade, more and more apps have been developed to alleviate the above challenges.

By consolidating your workflow onto a single device, you achieve streamlined processes that vastly boost your productivity.

Forget about shuffling through papers and coping with chaos: Harness the power of your smartphone and its cloud capabilities, and you’ll ease your journey toward success.

There are four app varieties I consider essential to solving problems relating to distraction, prioritization, and function. The 15 unique apps below will offer solutions to these barriers.

  • Hootsuite/Trello/Lizzabo

It’s easy to get wrenched off-task by social media, especially when you use it to share business-related content, communicate with team members, or network with potential contacts.

A variety of apps can address this. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to schedule posts without actually spending any time on social media platforms. Meanwhile apps like Trello and Campfire facilitate collaboration within your team. And tools like Bizzabo and LinkedIn are great for digital networking.

  • Asana/Remember the Milk/Google Now

Powerful apps have taken the place of the day planner. Apps like Asana, Remember the Milk, and Google Now make it easy to not only plan out your schedule, but share it with other team members.

  • Square

For the longest time, independent businesses didn’t have easy access to the tools necessary to accept payments in plastic…Continue Reading 

About the Author: Ari Rabban is the CEO of Phone.com and a veteran of the IP communications industry. Phone.com’s virtual phone service builds on the digital VoIP industry experience of its founders to deliver a complete suite of enterprise-grade unified communication services at an SMB price. Ari was named among the Top 20 Most Influential People in VoIP 2012 and currently serves on several boards, including the New Jersey Tech Council.

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

BY

Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

How to Become Memorable in a Noisy World The secret to connecting with anyone.

By Daniel Gefen 

The Internet has introduced  powerful tools to connect millions of people with the simple click of a button.

An email, a tweet, a post. Within seconds, you can reach more people than your ancestors did in a lifetime.

The world has become a ‘numbers game,’ but nobody cares about being a number.

The same tools that you have at your disposal are easily accessible to the other seven billion people on this planet, which means that everyone is being bombarded with emails, tweets, messages and ads on a daily basis.

The way people act online reminds me of how people act when driving their cars.

Normal, well mannered people step into their cars and evolve into insensitive masters of metal.

All of a sudden, everyone else becomes ‘objects’ to avoid, ignore, honk at, shout out, cut off, curse at, etc.

The world has become faceless, but humans crave human interaction.

I started to realize the power of human interaction and developing deep relationships when I started my podcast. It’s amazing what 45-minutes talking to someone can actually do for a relationship. I have interviewed over 65 successful entrepreneurs and make an effort to keep in touch with each of them.

They are all busy people and are probably bombarded with messages from fans trying to connect. But here’s the secret:

They are human beings. And human beings crave deep, meaningful relationships. 

How many times has someone tried to get your attention with the same lazy piece of spam?

If it doesn’t work to get your attention, then why try using it to get the attention of others?

The Internet has made people lazy. It’s so easy to mass message or post quick meaningless things in the hope that a percentage of the masses will react.

Lazy people hope for the best. Successful people work hard to make things happen.

Here are some ways you can become memorable:

  • Instead of posting ‘Happy Birthday’ on someones timeline and getting lost in the masses, take 60 seconds and send them a happy birthday video message. They will remember you for it!
  • Instead of posting useless, mindless one liners,  post something deep and interactive
  • Reach out to people one on one and start a personal conversation
  • Dare I say it—pick up the phone and call people
  • Instead of commenting on other people’s posts with the same old one word replies like “cool” or “#Truth,” put some time into sharing how their post impacted you
  • Surprise people by sending them a gift in the mail

Most importantly, keep in touch with people on a regular basis—at least once every 90 days.

Ask yourself, what makes others memorable to you?

Now go and become memorable!

The Lost Art of Discipline

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthepurpleninjette%2Fvideos%2F231427823979497%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>Gaby Diaz-Cervo

A message from an ETR sponsor

Hey, it’s Chad Howse here.

I’m a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur… also a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author.

But a decade ago I had no money. Actually, less than no money, was in debt, and got out of shape for the first time in my life.

Rather than searching for a ‘get rich quick’ product or workout to get me in shape, I focused on developing discipline.

Nothing else, just creating the habits that the ‘rich, ripped, and successful’ version of me would have to develop.

Discipline, however, rarely endures when it’s dependent on willpower.

Just like your ideal body, discipline can’t be built with motivation alone. It requires a process, plan, and strategy if it’s going to live forever.

That’s what I focused on. I devoured every book I could possibly find on the subject, from theory and philosophy, to solid scientific evidence on what works. I read about great historical figures, guys I wanted to emulate, and realized it wasn’t talent or willpower that made them great; it was discipline.

I got on a routine. I became the same man every day rather than the guy with no money who depended on inspiration to write content and create products.

To be honest, it didn’t take long to turn things around.

After a few months of my discipline program I began to make more money and my body changed in front of my eyes.

Here’s a secret that marketers don’t want to tell you: the program doesn’t matter as much as your discipline in following it.

Discipline makes transformations.

I’m still a work-in-progress and I always will be, but the freedom I have today from stress, from a boss breathing down my neck, and the freedom to travel the world, buy a house, and live life on my own terms isn’t due to intelligence.

I owe it all to discipline. And the more discipline I develop, the more freedom I have in my life.

That’s the greatest misconception about discipline— that it’s confining. In reality, it’s liberating.

But I’m not a naturally disciplined guy. I need a program to follow, some kind of daily guidance that gives me clarity on where my attention needs to be focused.

I’m guessing you’re the same.

In fact, I’ve never met a ‘naturally disciplined person’ in my life.

Everyone I know who’s killing it, struggles. They all struggle. Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, even Napoleon Bonaparte struggled mightily to be the disciplined men that would develop greatness.

And without a plan, you’re out of luck.

That’s why I created The Lost Art of Discipline – a mission to not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

Take the challenge that is the Lost Art of Discipline and be the person that even your most ambitious dreams didn’t imagine you’d become.

Tired Of Being Overworked, Sacrificing Your Health, And Missing Out On Time With Your Family?

10%Better To Win

Influencive

 


Be 10 Percent Better to Win

By Betty Liu @BettyWLiu

 

You’ve read about being 10 percent happier, but what about being 10 percent better?

One entrepreneur, the highly successful and driven Kevin Ryan, founder of Business Insider, Gilt Groupe, MongoDB, and many others, says in order to succeed, you only need to be 10 percent better.

If you doubt his opinion, Ryan told me you need to look no further than Google.

In the latest episode of our Radiate podcast, Ryan notes: “I think one of the mistakes that people make [is] they think their idea is not groundbreaking. And by the way, most ideas are not groundbreaking. Google was a terrible idea when you think about it. It was just a search engine; there already were seven. Theirs was a little bit better. That’s it.

“They had the idea, and the way of doing the search engine was a better way of doing it. And so the results probably 10 percent of the time were fundamentally better. Ninety percent didn’t change, but 10 percent was [better]. And that was enough.”

Hearing this is a relief. You mean I don’t need to build a whole new type of rocket like Elon Musk to become a billionaire? Or invent a whole new electronic device like Steve Jobs?

The more I thought about what Kevin said, the more I realized how absolutely right he was. Most of us think we need to create the next big thing to succeed, and we become frustrated when every single idea seems so inadequate. When I first had my twin boys, my sister and I–ever the budding sister entrepreneurs–thought of a baby gifting business, since both of us were awash in baby drool and diapers all day long.

But when we scanned the internet, there were already dozens of gifting sites just like ours. And they were pretty damn good. Motivation sapped, we hung up the idea after a few sketches and late-night brainstorming sessions. Besides, did we really think we were the only ones with this great idea?

When I think back on it, we were just too inexperienced to understand that precisely because there were so many companies with the same idea out there, ours was actually a good one. And in fact, thinking about it some more, many of the smashing success stories you read about are companies that simply improved on what others were doing:

  • Facebook: Remember Friendster or MySpace? Mark Z just made social networks better.
  • Microsoft: There were half a dozen operating systems already from IBM, Atari, and others. Bill Gates just made his better.
  • Starbucks: Coffee shops were everywhere (that’s why venture capitalist Alan Patricof declined to invest. Oops). Howard Schultz made his spot a little more comfy.
  • Apple: BlackBerry was already making a pretty good phone. Steve Jobs made his iPhone better.

Now that I’m starting a company of my own for real–no diaper ideas this time–I’m taking Kevin’s observation to heart. How do we make our site and network for professionals 10 percent better than what’s already out there? If people are already going to other sites for help with their careers, what can we do that’s different?

That’s exactly what our small team is focused on right now. However, trying to figure that out is not 10 percent harder, it’s 100 percent harder. It seems like an unfair mathematical equation–put in 100 percent of the effort for a 10 percent improvement, but when you’re trying to be the Kevin’s of this world, that’s the kind of math that adds up.

Dare to dream

 


Dare to dream

Take a moment and dare to see in your mind’s eye the most breathtaking, rewarding life that you can image. Dream big!  Don’t let anything from your past stop you from this moment of seeing the richness that you know life can hold.

Create in your mind a world where your dreams do come true. See every detail and smell every scent of your own wonderful version of what you want out of life.

Now, take a moment, listen to your heart. Search your feelings about how peaceful the world you imagine for yourself would be. If you could spend your time doing precisely what you wish, how would the moments of your life be lived?

When you get in touch with your dreams, you breathe life into possibility. The more vividly you consider how you want your world to be, the more real and effective tools you will have for making it so.

Your dreams are the fuel that propels you to your destiny. Center your attention and your passion on your dreams daily. Keep your heart on that which is truly wonderful, beautiful, inspiring and joyful to you.

Dare to dream!

Ghostwriting

 


Writing in the Background: A Glimpse into Ghostwriting

By Assuanta Howard @astapubl

Ghostwriting can be synonymous with translating or editing, but it can also mean researching or organizing a written piece. Perhaps the word “translating” is the best way to characterize ghostwriting, whether it’s translating scattered ideas into a cohesive work or capturing and translating the style and voice of an author.

Although ghostwriters perform a myriad of functions in the production of a publication, ghostwriters often remain completely anonymous, unknown to their readers. Sometimes an author may choose to name a ghostwriter as coauthor and credit the ghostwriter’s contribution to the overall creative formation of the work. Other times a ghostwriter might simply be thanked in the acknowledgements.

So, why hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters can organize thoughts and perform research for you. These services can be extremely helpful, especially if your book is primarily purposed to instruct or inform. You may have general knowledge and ideas for your book that a ghostwriter can help you build upon. You can give your ghostwriter your vision for your work and then he or she can help your brainstorm or research to find more ideas.

Ghostwriters also help an author express his or her voice in written form. Speaking is certainly different from writing, and although one might have ideas and enthusiasm, it can sometimes be difficult to translate that onto paper. Not everyone with a great book idea is as comfortable with writing as they are with speaking. In these cases, the ghostwriter’s greatest task is interviewing the author and then capturing the author’s tone as he or she writes the book for the author.

Whose work is it really?

The “credit” for the creative work of ghostwriting may seem like a point of contention. There are several ways to view this issue. One is to see the “creator” of the work as the one who first had the idea, and the other is to view the creator as the one who wrote the piece. If one understands “creation” as the conception of ideas, then creative credit must go to the author.

Ghostwriters can be a wonderful asset to authors; they ease the burden of research, editing, and revising, and they help authors turn thoughts and ideas into publishable material. Ghostwriters are like the pen in an author’s hand. With the author’s direction, they move to find a way to best communicate the author’s message.

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

www.astapublications.com

After Meeting Anyone

The One Thing You Should Do After Meeting Anyone New

By Michael Simmons

At 24-years-old, Francis Pedraza is the co-founder and CEO of a venture-backed company, Everest. In addition, he is an advisor to 10 tech companies, each of whom he does hundreds of introductions for in return for equity.

It is hard to predict how my Forbes interviews will go. Most top relationships builders are not able to articulate how they do what they do.

Francis does not fall into this camp.

Within a few minutes of talking with him, he had transformed my perspective on relationship building.

The elaborate system he has created allows him to dramatically scale the value he adds to the people in his network.

How could a 24-year-old founder who is busy building a company offer more introductions than venture capitalists whose full-time job is to find and support portfolio companies into which they’ve invested millions of dollars?

Why You Should Share Your Network With Other Entrepreneurs You’ve Vetted

Imagine building a road to an amazing place and then only using it once.

That would not only be a waste; it would be selfish.

You’ve already incurred the cost, and it doesn’t hurt you if other people use it. In fact, it helps to share because you build relationships with other drivers who appreciate your generosity.

Despite the obvious benefits, most entrepreneurs fail to proactively share their networks of vendors, investors, employees, and partners.

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They build it and then let it sit.

If you’re raising money, you talk to dozens of investors until you’re finished. Then, you focus on other networks. The same goes for interviewing dozens of employees and vendors to fill open positions. Once you fill a position, you stop looking until the next time you have a position.

Here’s the problem with the on/off approach: If you don’t always nurture these networks, then they are harder to activate when you need them.

Francis’ insight was to make introductions for other high potential tech companies to investors, designers, and engineers he already knew even when he didn’t immediately need these networks.

Speaking on why he made this decision, he shared two reasons:

  1. Building Relationships With Investors

    “When we raise our next round of financing, potential investors will be less likely to ignore me or act in bad faith, because they know that I’ve built a big network and proven its value.”

  2. Learning From Top Entrepreneurs In Other Sectors

    “By being a trusted advisor to other companies, I broaden my perspective in two ways. First, I become privy to the deepest challenges of other top tech companies. Secondly, I learn what they’re learning as they learn it.”

At this point, most people using Francis’ logic would take an ad hoc process to making introductions when people came top of mind.

Instead, Francis created an extremely powerful system that simplified and scaled his impact.

Focus On Quality Before Quantity

The difference between introducing an investor to a world-class entrepreneur and a talented entrepreneur is tremendous.

Investors earn almost their entire return from one in ten companies they invest in that hit it big.

With this in mind, Francis decided to actively search for and select high potential startups that he believed in that he could advise.

By primarily making only high-quality introductions to startups he had vetted, he could provide more value to investors and learn more from the entrepreneurs.

Why Making Hundreds of Introductions For A Single Company Makes Sense

Finally, instead of doing just a few introductions for each company, Francis does hundreds. To receive funding or to fill open positions requires talking to dozens of people. By only making a few introductions, you’re certainly helping, but you’re not pushing the ball forward as much as you could be given the need and your ability. Here’s Francis’ logic:

The reason I make hundreds of introductions rather than just a few is that fundraising is hugely impacted by momentum. It’s best to fundraise within a short window so that there is a lot interest at once and investors have time pressure. Furthermore, most investment meetings don’t turn into investments so startups need a lot of introductions in order to create momentum and find the needle in the haystack.

In order to scale the introductions you make, you have to organize your network in the right way. This brings us back to the title of the article…

Upfront Segmentation Is Better Than Top of Mind Later

The one thing you should you do after you meet someone is add them to the right cluster (i.e. – segment).

Most people treat their networks as one large connected cluster. The reality is that it is a set of many clusters.

This is critical because of relevancy. When you have a new article you want to share, a person you want to make an introduction for, or a dinner you want to invite people to, there two very likely possibilities:

  1. The opportunities are only relevant for a small segment (i.e., common passion, specific industry, location, etc.) of your network.

  2. Many of the opportunities you come across are relevant to the same few segments again and again.

The beauty of these two points is that if you find the segments that are relevant for your network, you can organize people into lists that you can reference whenever you need to.

Most people completely depend on who is top of mind. The problem is that the brain is designed to forget the large majority of what it’s exposed to. Just because someone doesn’t come to mind, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t many people who should have.

In my experience, by depending on what is top of mind, there is a good chance you’re missing relevant people by a factor of 10.

Because Francis divides his network into very clear segments upfront, knows how he is providing value, and has a tool that allows him to easily view segments, he is able to systematize all of his processes so they take dramatically less time.

Below is how Francis segments the investors in his network:

1. Segmentation

  • Corporate Development

  • Fund of Funds

  • Hedge Funds

  • Venture funds

  • Angel

  • Seed

2. Filtering.

  • Location

  • Fund Size

  • When The Fund Was Started

  • Check Size

To do segmentation, Francis uses social relationship intelligence platform, RelateIQ (see screenshot below). Started in 2013 with $40M+ in funding, the startup aims to use big data to help people build deeper relationships.

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Collect Data On People To Segment, Not Just To Jog Your Memory

With this new approach, you collect basic data for one purpose; putting people in a segment. This stands into contrast with most systems that are purely designed to jog your memory for the future. Most segmenting / tagging systems get mired in complexity; tags that are too similar or no longer relevant. As a result, many give up because the process is too time-intensive. Patrick Ewers, one of silicon valley’s top relationship management coaches and an advisor to Contactually (a platform similar to RelateIQ), helps guide his clients on how to segment their networks. In his words, “Before you go out and tag every single person with every single interest, narrow it down. Otherwise, it becomes a real brute force effort. You constantly have to add and remove people and tags. It’s one of those things that gets stale really fast. It’s like your address book that you never use. The key idea is simplicity.  I recommend starting with only 5 segments.” For too many people, networking is a bad word. It has come to signify individuals who use communication as an opportunity to broadcast what they want from others who aren’t even relevant to that product or service. Relationship building has become the antithesis of this idea. It represents personalized and relevant giving in order to build a relationship. Segmentation, when used properly, is one of the most powerful tools to deepen and scale the most important relationships in your life.

About the Author: Michael Simmons is the co-founder of Empact, a global entrepreneurship education organization that has held 500+ entrepreneurship events including Summits at the White House, US Chamber of Commerce, and United Nations. Connect with him on Twitter (@michaeldsimmons)Google+ and his Blog.