Category Archives: money

What’s the cheapest business to start?

By Erik Tozier

I was grabbing a coffee with a friend the other day and in the coffee shop, we got into a conversation with a gentleman who started telling us about his food truck. He was going on about how they originally took a $50k loan to get the business going, and how he was spending 16 hours a day on the business. I was supportive and respectful, but not how I look to go about my businesses. 16 hours a day at the beginning, maybe 1 hour a day once it’s launched.

Brick and mortar businesses are going out of style. Brick and mortar businesses are expensive as well ($50k for a food truck with no guarantee of success!!) If you want to make it big, you have to leverage your network and the reach of the internet.

I’ll give you a few business ideas that cost less than $200 to start. Most are built around creating content and building an audience. Content creation is a great way to start a business. Essentially, build an audience, then monetize. I will also list a few others.

  • Blog (less than $50 for domain name and 12 months of hosting fees)
    • Start writing unique content on a specific niche and you will build an audience. Over time, you can add ads, affiliate links, products, coaching courses, etc. to your blog. Since you already have an audience, they will be open to buying.
  • Social Media Sites: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook (free)
    • Why not utilize a platform that already has millions of users? You can create an account on any of these platforms and start building a business this way.
    • I watch a lot of YouTube videos and it’s crazy how people can make a living off creating videos.
    • One downside of these platforms is if they change their algorithm or pay-out structure, then you may lose out on views, ad revenue, etc.
  • Consulting or Coaching (Free, but will take time to build a client book and reputation)
    • Are you an expert in a certain field? You can contract for and consult clients for a solid hourly wage. It’s a fun job and if you can communicate well, it would be a solid role for you.
  • Digital Product Creation (think e-book or how-to-guide, Free)
    • Creating a e-book on an area you are passionate about and sell it for a few bucks. The only time you spend is upfront, after that, it’s passive income.

It’s a great strategy these days to leverage the internet’s wide reach. There is so much money in the world right now… we just need to go and get it.

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5 THINGS GREAT PRODUCT MANAGERS DO EVERY DAY

By

My favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

In the late 1990s, my first product management job was helping to roll out high-speed internet nationwide when it became a viable (and highly desired) alternative to dial-up services. We went from providing 300 lines monthly to more than 3,000 — all in a window of about 60 days. I quickly learned how to balance staying on a strategic course and managing the endless minutiae that was required to get each customer up and running.

I had always been a leader, so handling the stress and responsibility was natural for me — but I had a lot to learn about focusing my efforts on what mattered most. I soon realized that with great accountability comes great autonomy. It was up to me to prioritize what needed to get done and when.

This is great news for ambitious product managers: You have more control than you might think, no matter how hectic each day feels.

Here are five things great product managers do. Used consistently, these actions can help you prioritize your work every day and thrive.

1. Align actions to goals

To succeed as a product manager it is essential to take a goal-first approach. Prioritize what must get done that day and assess and align new work against your goals. Swiftly break through the endless tasks and chatter by evaluating each request or demand through the lens of your goals. This does not mean you should shut down disruptions as “noise” to be silenced. Embrace the interruptions that align with your goals — one may be the missing idea that makes your product wildly successful in market.

2. Connect the dots

Understand how your product serves your business — the big picture of why you are building it. This may seem obvious, but without that connection, product managers are often led astray by differing opinions, demands from internal teams, and conflicting customer feedback. Identify why your product matters to your business and to customers so you can navigate with a steady mind.

3. Solve one simple problem

You may be tempted to solve every problem for your customers. But you cannot be all things to all people. You will spread yourself too thin and lose that firm direction. Instead, focus on solving one problem at a time. I like to say, “Focus on one problem, and solve the second for free.” Tackle one problem well and new opportunities will emerge.

4. Learn from others

Invest the time and effort to learn about your product team’s core work so you can set realistic deadlines. This is especially important for teams that share resources. Ask questions and get to know the full scope of their experience and tasks. It is also important to admit what you do not know. Rely on the expertise of your extended product team to help you deliver on the promise of your product.

5. Say “no” with confidence

Not every idea will be meaningful. And, in fact, most will be lousy. Great product managers understand that saying “no” is not a one-word answer. This is your chance to explain why the idea does not make sense within your strategic direction. Do not hide from these conversations or be dismissive. Take each “no” as an opportunity to recommit to your goals — and to re-evaluate whether your aim is true.

I know this advice to be effective — but hard to follow. So be kind to yourself when you feel cornered or stuck. Stick out your chest and remember that you have more control than you think and a team at your side.

You too can achieve the quiet power that separates good product managers from great ones. Never lose sight of your goals and embrace each day with humility and strength. Now go get busy.

Discover your own power as a product manager.

15 Key Apps For Entrepreneurs

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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.

The Toughest Question You Have to Answer

By Craig Ballantyne

There’s a battle being waged in all of us.

One part of us wishes to remain safely inside of our comfort zone. The other part of us knows we should be brave, step-up, and move out and onward to greater challenges.

Your comfort zone might mean the safety and security of a high-paying job at a major corporation. You make more, and have more, than your parents ever did.

“Don’t you dare risk losing that job,” says the voice of your mother in your mind. Just sit tight until the kids are done college, and then we can think about starting a business of your own.

The other voice you hear, encouraging you to explore greater opportunities, is your Big Self (a fantastic phrase I first heard from my friend and mentor, Matt Furey).

Your Big Self represents what you could truly accomplish in life.

Unfortunately, the real world contains many enemies of the Big Self, and it is constantly delivering reinforcements to your Comfort Zone. These reinforcements come in the way of excuses, negative naysayers, fear, lack of self-confidence or self-control, and the bad habits we’ve built up over our lifetime.

And that is why you are in the same spot today as you were twelve months ago, only just a year older.

Today I’ll show you how to break through the stalemate.

But it will only work if you are willing to set down your weapons and stop protecting yourself for a while. Call a truce on the battlefield. Have each side bring out its best thinkers and have them work together as one on this big thinking exercise.

Recently I made this same challenge to over 150 entrepreneurs at a recent seminar. Over the course of two days, my guest experts and I had stood and delivered complete blueprints for making more money, getting more done, and having a bigger impact on the world.

But I knew that many people in the audience would go home, let life get in the way, and return next year without having made any significant changes.

I wasn’t going to let that happen again, and I won’t let that happen to you.

That meant I had to challenge the attendees. I had to show them exactly how to make the mental changes that would allow their Big Self to win the battle.

After I summarized the best moments of the weekend, I paused for dramatic effect, made eye contact with as many people in the room that dared to look at me, and asked, “Are you really living as your Big Self? Are you being the Limitless Leaders that I know you can be? Or are you letting Little Limitations hold you back from greatness?”

These were tough questions. They are tough on the ego.

No one, particularly relatively successful people, wants to feel like a disappointment. But we need to be honest. Are we doing all we can with what we have been blessed with in life?

And we have one of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, to thank for this. You see, several years ago I attended one of Kennedy’s seminars just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. He covered the topic of internal resistance — something I know is holding back many ETR readers.

Dan said, “The failure to act is much more often the product of inner, emotional resistance than external resistance. To move forward you must give up your story, whether it is excuses about your childhood, lack of education, your ‘bad luck’, your unsupportive family, your low metabolism, where you live, etc., etc.”

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It’s time to give up your excuses. It’s time to overcome your natural inclinations of holding back and staying in your comfort zone. It’s time to Man-Up.

It’s harsh, but true. As Kennedy explained, what separates the leaders from the strugglers is often confidence and follow-through, both of which can be derailed by internal resistance. That’s when he taught me “The Exercise”.

Answering these questions is tough on the Ego, but the answers could change your life (if you take action on them). Take the following mental challenge:

1) Ask yourself “The Question:”

“Where you would like to be and have known you would like to be but aren’t?”

2) Be brutally specific and honest.

3) Now list why you are NOT there.

4) Next, identify the changes you need to make.

5) Then take massive action!

Don’t let another year go by stuck in the same place!

You must identify the causes of your internal resistance. Ask yourself “Why?” you want something but refuse to act in congruence with achieving it.

Either say “no” to achievement OR dig in and get to the bottom of the persistent incongruence between what you say and what you do. It is OK to admit you are not willing to pay the price – and by doing so, that will stop self-sabotage. Once you know the enemy, then you can work on overcoming it.

Listen, I know Kennedy can be a little gruff and grumpy, but he speaks the truth and has your best interests at heart. In fact, it’s almost like he’s channeling the wise philosophers of Ancient Greece. I’m currently re-reading a book called, “The Art of Living”, which is a translation of teachings from the Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. In it, I discovered this wisdom:

“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don’t mind if others don’t share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”

Take the challenges set forth by Kennedy and Epictetus.

Identify what is holding you back.

Release the brakes.

Become the Big Self and Limitless Leader that I know you can be.

Overcome your obstacles. Defeat your internal resistance. Never give up on what is important to you. So much can be accomplished with a long-term vision and resilience to short term setbacks. If you persist and never give in, you WILL succeed. You can have the life of your dreams while helping and transforming the lives of millions.

Get out there and take action today. Throw the rock of helping into the pond of transformation and watch as the ripples take shape.

Change a life today — starting with yours.

If you need to make a change in your health, start here with my biggest challenge ever to you

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.

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.

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Why Rich People Hate Trump


From Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners: It’s back to Europe. Back to school. Back to work.

Let’s begin by bringing new readers into the discussion… and by reminding old readers (and ourselves) where we stand.

Small and Lonely Group

As a Diary reader, you join a small and lonely group.

But we know something others don’t.

We—and apparently only we—understand the real cause of our economic malaise.
What malaise, you ask?

Well… how could the richest, most technologically advanced, and most scientifically sophisticated economy stop dead in its tracks?

The rate of economic growth has gone steadily downhill for the last 30 years. By some measures, after accounting for the effects of inflation, we’re back to levels not seen since before the Industrial Revolution.

And how could such a modern, 21st-century economy make the average person poorer?

When you measure actual inflation, rather than the government’s crooked numbers, the median U.S. household income is 20% lower today than when the century began.

And why would our modern economy concentrate wealth in the hands of so few, so that only the richest 1% make any real progress?

You may also ask a question with an obvious answer: Why are the richest and most powerful people in the country overwhelmingly supporting Ms. Clinton in the presidential race?

You find the answer to all these questions the same way: Follow the money.

Record Haul

Ms. Clinton is raising record amounts of money—$80 million in a single month.

Big corporations, banks, military contractors, rich people—all are pitching in to make sure Hillary is our next president.

Why?

Because she promises to protect the status quo.

That, of course, is what government always does. A free economy is a precarious place for wealth. It is despised by nearly everyone—especially the rich.

In a truly free market, the process of “creative destruction” can’t be controlled. New wealth is born. Old wealth dies.

Naturally, people with wealth and power try to use government to get more wealth and power… and to stop the creative-destructive process. They want to protect what they’ve got already. That’s why the real role of government is to look into the future and keep it from happening.

Hillary stands like King Canute, promising to stop the tides of economic history.

What’s this got to do with money?

Let’s ask another question instead: What is the source of Ms. Clinton’s campaign pile? Whence cometh all this lucre?

“It comes from rich people,” you will say.

But where did the rich get so much money?

Ah… that’s where it gets interesting.

We remind you of the context: So far this century, only the rich have gotten wealthier. Naturally, they are keen to see the system that gave them—and them alone—such great wealth continue.

Old Money, New Money

The key to understanding it all is the money system itself.

The money you spend today is the money that President Nixon inaugurated on August 15, 1971.

That’s when he reneged on America’s promise to convert foreign creditors’ dollars to gold at a fixed price of $35 per ounce… and broke the last link between the dollar and gold.

Nixon’s new money looked, for all the world, like the old money. It seemed to work just like the dollar always did. And the most distinguished economist of the era—Milton Friedman—advised Nixon to put it in place.
Subtle… slippery—the difference between the old dollar and the new one went unnoticed for 40 years.

Old dollar? New dollar? Who cared?

Even now, most of the world has no idea what happened. But we, dear reader, are beginning to connect the dots.

Here’s the basic difference: The old gold-backed dollar represented wealth that had already been created. You got more dollars as you created more wealth.

Money was real wealth.

But this old money was hard for the authorities to control. They said it was uncooperative. Intransient. And stubborn. They wanted a new kind of money… and a dollar they could manipulate (to make a better economy, of course).

So, the new dollar was created. And this new dollar was not based on wealth, but on debt.

It was not backed by gold. And it was not connected to the real wealth of the economy.
Instead, it was brought into being by the banking system—as a credit. It increased as people borrowed and went further into debt, not as they grew wealthier.

The more they borrowed, the more they could buy. This gave the economy the appearance of growth and prosperity. It allowed millions of Americans to increase their standard of living, even as their salaries stalled.

But every purchase put people further into debt…

Between 1964 and 2007, credit expanded 50 times.

And in 2008, the credit bubble burst.

More to come…

Reeves’ Note: The big corporations, banks, military contractors, and rich people backing Hillary Clinton are just apparatchiks of what Bill calls the Deep State… a nebulous group of elites who have infiltrated the far reaches of the American government.

Bill exposes this unelected group of insiders, and offers a “prep guide” to protect your wealth and privacy from its intrusion… in this urgent warning.

Always Stay a Student

Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Maxim for Every Successful Person; ‘Always Stay a Student’

By Ryan Holiday
The legend of Genghis Khan has echoed throughout history: A barbarian conqueror, fueled by bloodlust, terrorizing the civilized world. We have him and his Mongol horde traveling across Asia and Europe, insatiable, stopping at nothing to plunder, rape, and kill not just the people who stood in their way, but the cultures they had built. Then, not unlike his nomadic band of warriors, this terrible cloud simply disappeared from history, because the Mongols built nothing that could last.

Like all reactionary, emotional assessments, this could not be more wrong. For not only was Genghis Khan one of the greatest military minds who ever lived, he was a perpetual student, whose stunning victories were often the result of his ability to absorb the best technologies, practices, and innovations of each new culture his empire touched.

In fact, if there is one theme in his reign and in the several centuries of dynastic rule that followed, it’s this: appropriation.

Under Genghis Khan’s direction, the Mongols were as ruthless about stealing and absorbing the best of each culture they encountered as they were about conquest itself. Though there were essentially no technological inventions, no beautiful buildings or even great Mongol art, with each battle and enemy, their culture learned and absorbed something new.

Genghis Khan was not born a genius. Instead, as one biogra­pher put it, his was “a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision driven by his uniquely disciplined and focused will.” He was the greatest conqueror the world ever knew because he was more open to learning than any other conqueror has ever been.

Khan’s first powerful victories came from the reorganization of his military units, splitting his soldiers into groups of ten. This he stole from neighboring Turkic tribes, and unknowingly converted the Mongols to the decimal system.

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Soon enough, their expanding empire brought them into contact with another “technology” they’d never experienced before: walled cities. In the Tangut raids, Khan first learned the ins and outs of war against fortified cities and the strategies critical to laying siege, and quickly became an expert. Later, with help from Chinese engineers, he taught his soldiers how to build siege machines that could knock down city walls. In his campaigns against the Jurchen, Khan learned the importance of winning hearts and minds. By working with the scholars and royal family of the lands he conquered, Khan was able to hold on to and man­age these territories in ways that most empires could not.

Afterward, in every country or city he held, Khan would call for the smartest astrologers, scribes, doctors, thinkers, and advisers — anyone who could aid his troops and their efforts. His troops traveled with interrogators and translators for precisely this purpose.

It was a habit that would survive his death. While the Mongols themselves seemed dedicated almost solely to the art of war, they put to good use every craftsman, merchant, scholar, entertainer, cook, and skilled worker they came in contact with. The Mongol Empire was remarkable for its reli­gious freedoms, and most of all, for its love of ideas and con­vergence of cultures. It brought lemons to China for the first time, and Chinese noodles to the West. It spread Persian carpets, German mining technology, French metalworking, and Islam. The cannon, which revolutionized warfare, was said to be the resulting fusion of Chinese gunpowder, Mus­lim flamethrowers, and European metalwork. It was Mongol openness to learning and new ideas that brought them together.

As we first succeed, we will find ourselves in new situations, facing new problems. The freshly promoted soldier must learn the art of politics. The salesman, how to manage. The founder, how to delegate. The writer, how to edit others. The comedian, how to act. The chef turned restaurateur, how to run the other side of the house.

This is not a harmless conceit. The physicist John Wheeler, the physicist who helped develop the hydrogen bomb, once observed that “As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” In other words, each victory and advancement that made Khan smarter also bumped him against new situations he’d never encountered before. It takes a special kind of humility to grasp that you know less, even as you know and grasp more and more. It’s remembering Socrates’ wisdom lay in the fact that he knew that he knew next to nothing.

With accomplishment comes a growing pressure to pre­tend that we know more than we do. To pretend we already know everything. Scientia infla (knowledge puffs up). That’s the worry and the risk — thinking that we’re set and secure, when in reality understanding and mastery is a fluid, con­tinual process.

The nine­-time Grammy– and Pulitzer Prize–winning jazz musician Wynton Marsalis once advised a promising young musician on the mind­set required in the lifelong study of music: “Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves. You don’t stand in your own way. . . . Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’” No matter what you’ve done up to this point, you better still be a student. If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.

It is not enough only to be a student at the beginning. It is a position that one has to assume for life. Learn from everyone and everything. From the people you beat, and the people who beat you, from the people you dislike, even from your supposed enemies. At every step and every juncture in life, there is the opportunity to learn — and even if the lesson is purely remedial, we must not let ego block us from hearing it again.

It’s something I’ve had to learn as an author, personally. Just because one book does well, doesn’t mean that the next one will. It certainly doesn’t mean that everything that I’ll write is good or that I know everything there is to know about this profession either. Thinking that way is a recipe for falling off and disappointing both publishers and audiences. A better attitude is to start from scratch with each project — to focus on all there is left to learn and all the room we have left to improve. That’s what I’ve tried to do with each subsequent project, including this most recent one (appropriately about ego).

Too often, convinced of our own intelligence or success, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding until eventually, it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song — which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why UFC champion and MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

The solution is as straightforward as it is initially uncom­fortable: Pick up a book on a topic you know next to noth­ing about. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged — what about subjecting your­self to it deliberately? Change your mind. Change your sur­roundings.

An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process.

Most military cultures — and people in general — seek to impose values and control over what they encounter. What made the Mongols different was their ability to weigh each situation objectively, and if need be, swap out previous prac­tices for new ones. All great businesses start this way, but then something happens. Take the theory of disruption, which posits that at some point in time, every industry will be dis­rupted by some trend or innovation that, despite all the resources in the world, the incumbent interests will be incapable of responding to. Why is this? Why can’t businesses change and adapt? A large part of it is because they lost the ability to learn. They stopped being students. The second this happens to you, your knowledge becomes fragile.

The great manager and business thinker Peter Drucker says that it’s not enough simply to want to learn. As people progress, they must also understand how they learn and then set up processes to facilitate this continual education.

Oth­erwise, we are selling ourselves — and our careers — dreadfully short.

This piece is adapted from Ryan Holiday’s book Ego is the Enemy, published by Penguin Portfolio

About the Author: Ryan Holiday is the best-selling author of Ego is the Enemy and three other books. He is an editor-at-large for the Observer, and his monthly reading recommendations which go out to 50,000+ subscribers are found here. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Mistakes

People don’t care how much you know — until they know how much you care.” — John C. Maxwell

The Dumbest Mistake That Smart People Make

By Michael Simmons

It was a little past 1:00 a.m, and I sat alone at the dining room table. If only I had listened to my tired body and gone to sleep, I might have saved a friendship and a business partnership.

Instead, I pushed through and gave overly harsh feedback on a letter. It took me only a few minutes to send my feedback, but it damaged that relationship forever. The person never came back to me for feedback, and it contributed to a negative spiral in the relationship that ultimately failed.

That’s when I learned the stakes of giving bad feedback. As leaders, parents, and friends, if we chronically give bad feedback we destroy relationships, make other people feel stupid, and stunt their growth.

Giving feedback incorrectly is one of the worst mistakes smart people are particularly prone to make. Experts tend to…

  • overestimate their expertise and give feedback in areas where they don’t have expertise;
  • feel compelled to give feedback as a result of their expertise;
  • be condescending as a result of thinking something is obvious to others when it isn’t; and
  • be too general as a result of forgetting the little insights that make up ideas.

These disadvantages are collectively known as the curse of knowledge.

I interviewed 10 world-class leaders (including the founder of two television networks, a former Fortune 500 CEO, and similarly successful entrepreneurs) to get their perspective on how to give feedback in the best way. In the few minutes it takes to read this article, you’ll have a whole new toolkit, which will immediately improve how you give feedback to others.

1. Help employees think like owners

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

I think the best way for a CEO to give feedback is by letting his or her employees experience what it’s like to be an owner.

I used to want to shield my team from the hard parts of what I do. The unintended result was employees who made poor decisions and developed beliefs that everything is easier than it actually is.

To inspire an ownership mindset, I follow two practices that work really well:

Job shadowing. I’m a big believer in the idea that you can’t really understand someone’s perspective until you walk a mile in their shoes. I shadow my employees, and they shadow me as well as each other. This helps us understand each other, but also be nimble and step in when necessary.

Open-book accounting. We recently moved our business to open book accounting, which means we share all of our financial numbers with our employees. This was a very difficult decision for me but I’ve been impressed with the outcome so far. Misconceptions about the money that I was, or was not making, have been completely put on the table. Many of my employees had a lot of sympathy with some of the financial goals, challenges, and tax consequences that the company was facing. They offered great ideas and suggestions about their roles and their compensations to help the company be more successful. I highly recommend The Great Game of Business to learn about the power of open book accounting and how to implement it in your company.

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2. Put on your welcome face

Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene

I have one core belief, based on research in Drive, that structures how I give feedback: People are intrinsically motivated to do a great job. They don’t intentionally do bad work.

Most people I know take a tremendous amount of pride in their work and have an emotionally vested interest in both their success and that of their company.

What this means is that my job isn’t to reprimand or judge people. My true job is to empower them. Given that most communication is nonverbal, the most important thing I can do is to be in the right state of mind before I give feedback. I call this putting on a ‘welcome face’. To me this signifies “I’m open, compassionate, and excited to listen.” If I can’t immediately get myself to be authentically in that state, I will sleep on it.

Finally, I lead feedback discussions with an open-ended question like, “What is it about this project that you’re especially proud of?” My goal is to put myself in the other person’s shoes before I make judgments.

3. Follow the NORMS of objectivity

Rohit Anabheri, founder of Circa Ventures

I use what I call the “NORMS approach” to keep the feedback objective rather than subjective. Here’s how it works:

Not an interpretation. Describe the behavior, don’t interpret why someone did something.

Observable. Focus on specific behavior or outcomes that are seen or heard.

Reliable. Two or more people independently agree on what they observed.

Measurable. Use facts to describe the behavior or result rather than superlatives like ‘all the time’ or ‘always’.

Specific. Based on a detailed description of the event (e.g., who was involved, where and when it happened, and what was the context and sequence of events).

As a result of going through this process, “John is always late,” turns into, “John was late for the leadership meeting three times last week.” This helps avoid emotions and exaggerations, as well as the disagreements that come when someone naturally tries to defend their behavior.

4. Put on your coaching hat

Benji Rabhan, founder & CEO of Apollo Scheduling

When I’m about to give feedback, I put on my coach hat. Here’s what I do:

Strike while the iron is cold. To be effective, I must wait until I have emotionally separated myself from the equation. This way, I can proceed calmly and collectively, so as to not engage the employee’s fight or flight reflex.

Ask for permission. Once we sit down together, I say, “I’m going to wear the coaching hat as we talk about the project. Is that okay?” With their agreement, I explain, “There’s been something I’ve been trying to figure out, and I need your help. I am betting there is something I did not tell you, or there is a difference between our past experiences in this area. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to see if we can figure out what I’m missing?” Doing this sets the context of the discussion as mutual improvement and prevents defensiveness.

Challenge assumptions with open-ended questions. I ask questions to help me understand their process for creating the work. Rather than ask, “Did you know that you did this wrong?” I’ll say, “Tell me about how you went about this assignment.” As they’re sharing, I’ll ask follow-up questions such as “What was the thought process of why you did it that way?” I keep going until I run out of questions. Open-ended questions help me discover what went wrong on the assignment, and how to correct the missteps. They also help the employee see the gaps in their own logic without me even having to say anything. And sometimes, I realize that I’m the one with the gap or that we both are.

In the end, I believe the key to making the process work is a sincere curiosity and desire to:

  • Understand what you personally could do better.
  • Get to the root of the problem.
  • Help the other person solve their own challenges in a peaceful way.

I recommend the book, Nonviolent Communication. It details great processes for having difficult conversations without sparking negativity.

5. Forget motivation. Stop demotivating.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

I am a very “straight to the point” person, and I’ve learned the hard way that this can really hurt morale.

Constant criticism, without an environment that praises great work, leads to employees becoming demotivated because they feel like they can never be ‘good enough.’ In a study that surveyed 1.2 million employees at primarily Fortune 1000 companies, they found that employees often don’t need motivation. It is constant critique without recognition that causes them to be demotivated.

When I give constructive criticism, I always emphasize that I believe in the person and their work. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have hired them. I make it a point to let my team members know that I’m fully aware of their capabilities, and I won’t accept anything less. I try to transform the conversation’s energy into something constructive by reminding them of what I loved about their other more successful projects and work. Whether that’s creativity, attention to detail, or content, it’s important to get people to dig deep down and pull out the work that made me hire them in the first place.

6. Give the conversation over to the employee

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting

My approach is to turn the conversation over to employees to lead – and hopefully – resolve.

I start by asking “How do you feel about your work?” or “Is this your best?”

Then my role becomes, “How can I help you?”

This leads to more employee ownership over problems and solutions. By taking myself out of the equation, I avoid negative feelings, but more importantly I believe the team grows and becomes capable of solving even greater challenges on their own.

Ultimately, this has led to a culture where our team looks forward to getting negative feedback because they know they will benefit from it. This mirrors the approach taken by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who proactively seeks out and listens to negative feedback.

7. Be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people

Doug Conant, former CEO of Fortune 500 company Campbell Soup Company and founder and CEO of Conant Leadership

When I give feedback, I often start with the four magic words of leadership, “How can I help?” Next, I ask additional questions to get to the root challenge. For example, “What can we do better?”

By asking these questions with sincerity, commitment, and a desire to help, leaders can be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Most people unnecessarily sacrifice one for the other, but it is imperative that leaders incorporate both in a meaningful way, if they hope to achieve sustainable high performance.

The power of this approach is that it:

Sets the purpose of the conversation as solving the problem, not attacking the person.

Positions myself as a resource rather than a combatant.

Empowers the person to productively work through the issue.

8. Sandwich your feedback and spread it out

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach, and globally renowned speaker

I “sandwich” the constructive criticism inside the good stuff and spread it out throughout the day:

1. Tell them what they’re doing well.

2. Tell them what specifically needs to improve.

3. Tell them something else they’re doing well.

I learned this 30 years ago in the One Minute Manager, and it still holds up today. It’s also a great way to raise kids too – and I have four. Here’s why it works:

It is crucial to give MORE positive feedback than negative feedback. According to one study, top performing teams give each other more than five positive comments for every negative one.

It is crucial to give feedback immediately. Stanford University researcher on behavioral change, BJ Fogg, shares, “It’s critical for people to give feedback during or immediately after the behavior so that people’s brains will wire it correctly.” In other words, the tighter the feedback loop, the more immediately that feedback can be incorporated into and influence future behavior. How much more slowly would your golf swing improve if someone told you to ‘square your shoulders’ a week after a practice session vs. after your first few swings?

9. Direct your passion to competitors and your heart toward employees

Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers

We all have passion and heart about our businesses. That passion is critical for the success of the company. It’s good for employees to see. However, the mistake that many founders make is directing that energy negatively toward employees with harsh feedback that employees can’t help but take personally.

The goal isn’t to kill the passion; it’s to redirect it.

When giving feedback, I direct my passion toward competitors, and my heart toward employees. When I do this, meetings turn from defensive to inspirational. Here’s how I do it:

I set my default to always come from a place of love, gratitude and curiosity (LGC).

I write “LGC” on the top of my personal, printed meeting agenda, if I’m stepping into a serious meeting. This helps me focus on why LGC is important. Our environment unconsciously triggers certain emotions. One study even found that holding a warm cup of coffee can increase the odds of us being more warm to others.

10. Show a funny video before giving feedback

Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network and Syfy

A great way to relax someone is to find a cartoon, funny video or something else of interest to share to help the person let down their defensive guard. From there, it is easier to direct conversation to why their performance was subpar, and how to improve.

Beyond the immediate impact on everyone’s mood, laughter has long-term health benefits as well. And it may not only help the person you’re giving feedback to! It may help you. If you’re resisting confronting a lackluster performance, keep in mind a fascinating study, which found watching comedy videos increases willpower!

About the Author: Michael Simmons is a bestselling author, international keynote speaker, award-winning young entrepreneur, and columnist for Forbes, Business Insider, and Harvard Business Review. Simmons is the co-founder & partner 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) and his Blog.

Apps to Help Your Business

5 Ways Mobile Apps Helps You Improve Business Revenue

By Urvish Shangvis

1) Acquire More Customers:

A Mobile App is an effective and efficient medium to connect with customers. Asking desktop users to download a mobile app, helps acquire new customers. Offering a 10-30% discount to new mobile app users on their first order, will make them repeat customers. Research indicates that users prefer mobile apps to a mobile or desktop website, as mobile apps can be accessed offline too. Users spend more time on a mobile app than a mobile or desktop site. Mobile apps can help you gain new customers, by running various offers and discounts.

Read the rest of the ways mobile apps can add value.

Marketing

 


Social Media Marketing Success: 5 Techniques That Are Working NOW on Twitter
Nika Stewart  @NikaStewart  http://www.GhostTweeting.com

 

As entrepreneurs, we are all aware of the important role that social media plays in an effective marketing campaign. Why is it then, that so many business owners fail to maintain a consistent branded presence on at least one social media platform?

The most common reason is lack of know-how. If it is confusing or overwhelming, we ignore it. But social media still gives the best return on investment if used effectively.

The good news is… if you learn what is working, you can model it, and achieve success.

So let’s start with ONE platform: Twitter. If your feed isn’t oozing with engagement, if you aren’t flooded with folks re-tweeting your genius, if you aren’t getting calls from interested followers for more information on your products and services, you simply need to make a few changes. Here is what is working on Twitter right now to get you more engagement, more followers, more retweets, and more ideal leads.

Give to get

What is better than seeing that someone has tweeted an awesome review or a glowing recommendation of your business? We all love it, and there’s no doubt that we notice the person who tweeted that delicious post.

Unsolicited recommendations in the form of endorsing others’ products, sites, or services are a way to get noticed by authors, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and even popular influencers. Networking goes both ways: you’ve got to give to get, so start recognizing others’ genius and you’ll be sure to get some recognition of your own.

“The best way to get attention on Twitter is to GIVE attention on Twitter.”

Engagement: The king of the castle

Build it and… they probably won’t come. Posting is passive; Engagement is active.  You must be active to get the results you want from Twitter: more followers, clicks to your website, endorsements, increased visibility, expert status.

More than ever, it’s about interacting with your followers, so take the time to comment, retweet, participate in Twitter chats, answer questions, and acknowledge your followers.

Consistency

Which Twitter accounts have the most followers and the most engagement? The ones who post every day. You can’t expect great Twitter results by posting sporadically. Be consistent with your tweeting, and you’ll see growth very quickly.

(Don’t have the time to devote every day to researching, creating, and posting to Twitter? Here is the no-brainer solution:www.ghosttweeting.com/97 )

Humor

If engagement is king of the castle, humor is the court jester. To stand out from the noise – and let’s face it, you do need to stand out on Twitter in order to get results – you need to publish shareable, funny content that is on brand. Humor is a free way to move your platform forward at breakneck speeds. How often do you see something hilarious in the form of a joke, meme, photo, or video and want to share it with a friend, coworker or spouse? Yes, funny posts get attention! We are more apt to follow accounts with a sense of humor in order to break up the monotony of endless streams of blather.

Be real

Okay, we know engagement is king and humor is the court jester, but who is queen of this castle anyway? YOU. Whatever platform you are on, audiences demand authenticity. You are a real person with a family, pets, kids, and a growing pile of dirty laundry. You love a good Sauvingon Blanc and you have a weekend cycling hobby. Sometimes life is not easy; sometimes it’s the best thing since Kylie Jenner released her Lip Kits. So let us know about it. Even when it comes to business posts, we want to see the human side of you. YOU need to come through loud and clear in every tweet.

Twitter is still getting massive results for businesses, and you will enjoy the benefits if you use the techniques that are working.