A blog book tour – thinking outside the box

As regular readers to the Being Smarter website will know, we like to feature new ways of doing things. Innovation is so key in business and today, we’re delighted to be participating in an innovation called a blog book tour which fuses social media, brilliant segmenting of a marketplace and win-win for the book authors and promoters.

We’ve been lucky enough to have Dr Karl Kapp, Professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University PA, USA as an advocate of The 8.45 Club‘s method of training. We were delighted when he asked us if we would like to participate as a guest blog on Day #12 of his blog book tour, to promote the sale of his excellent new book “Learning in 3D” (affiliate link).

We thought that because 30 other people will be talking about the book itself, instead, let’s talk to Karl about this blog book tour concept, find out what such a thing actually is, how it’s being used in this context, and most importantly, how YOU could use it yourselves to promote your next publication. Guess what, it could be applied to any product or service with a bit of thought – so even if you’re not an author – keep watching…

So make a coffee – sit back and watch Dr Karl, live by satellite…

If at first you don’t succeed

Monday mornings are always good for a pep talk. I’ve been talking to a few people about the concept of not giving up over the last few weeks and wanted to share a few thoughts, being someone who’s tried hard to persevere in a big way over the last couple of years.

I had to have a few words with my 6 year old son the other day about not giving up… teaching him to ride a bike has been quite an achievement for me – trying a few different tacks to keep his morale high, but judging when it was OK to let him fall off safely. My wife suggested I shouldn’t have let him fall off, however in my opinion, it was a great way to teach him the skill of perseverance.

There’s five tips I’d offer below to help with your perseverance efforts:

  1. If you listen to everyone who offers you advice, the chances are you’d be paraylsed by non-action. Take advice, sure, but also have some belief in what it is you are trying to do. This will help you to get through difficult days.
  2. Accept that some days aren’t going to go your way, dust yourself off, find that belief once again and remember that tomorrow is another day. If a trend of bad days starts to kick in – then it’s time to revist where you are heading.
  3. Think outside the box. Always. There’s always a different way to tackle a problem you may be having. Don’t limit yourself to ‘going what you know’. It’s hard to persevere when you don’t do things differently, as you will always get the same result.
  4. Ignore your gut feelings at your peril. Listen to your heart – it will really help you make decisions and decide if something is fundamentally wrong, or you just need to try a different approach.
  5. The most brilliant people have got to where they are today with a good splash of perseverance. You may be shocked at how some of them started out. Watch the video below for inspiration if you need a bit of a lift….

5 ways to keep New Year’s resolutions (you’re about to break)

So it’s now 14th Jan. Many people have already broken all of the promises they made to themselves on the cold light of day of January 1st (which seems like a year ago already…) If you haven’t already broken yours, but are starting to teeter on the brink, here’s our favourite top 5 ways to keep New Year’s resolutions we’ve found in the ether from around the world… and we’ve looked at quite a few.

The links take you to the full article – and the best bit is summarised below…

Time Magazine

One tactic he recommends for resisting those cravings is called “urge-surfing.” It involves being mindful of the fact that craving is like a wave — it rises to a peak, then falls. This happens whether you yield to the urge or not, though most people erroneously think their craving will escalate endlessly unless they give in.

The Times of India

People who break a resolution and then blame themselves with, “This proves I have no willpower,” are likely to give up. A more productive inner dialogue would say something like, “I had one cigarette but I’ve got to make sure I tell my friends that I’m quitting so this doesn’t happen again,” Marlatt said. “Try to be a little bit more accepting of the fact that you may make a mistake.”

The Happiness Project

Consider making only pleasant resolutions. We can make our lives happier in many ways. If you’ve been trying the boot-camp approach with no success, try resolving to “Go to more movies,” “Entertain more often,” or whatever resolutions you’d find fun to keep. Often, having more fun in our lives makes it easier to do tough things. Seeing more movies might make it easier to keep going to the gym.

Newsweek

…keep your resolutions affirmative. You’ll be hobbling yourself if you say, “Don’t eat chocolate”. All you’re doing is making sure not only that you think about chocolate constantly (very true) but that you break down altogether and eat seven bars for dinner. Instead, say to yourself, “I vow to eat a salad every day”

Sydney Morning Herald

Finally, if you want to improve the odds of success, consider making a plan. For example, if your goal is to put $1,000 in the bank, how are you going to do it? Are you going to deposit $50 a week from your pay? $100 per month? Are you going to stop spending $5 per day on coffee and put the money in a jar instead? Actually think about how you plan to make your resolution happen. Then track your progress against the plan as you go along.

If you’ve a tip (which is working for you… why not share it below)…

365 ways to get visitors to your website

OK, so there are hundreds of sites, all claiming to be expert in getting website visitors and we we’re not pretending to be specialists, however we do have over 30 sites, all receiving traffic, some more than others and have been in the game for a couple of years now, which isn’t that long, but more than many…

Being Smarter, as regular readers will know is all about helping businesses do things better, faster, quicker… and thinking outside the box. Today is no exception.

I meet many people in my job all looking to set up web businesses, or who have bricks and mortar businesses, who don’t get online at all or who have some kind of webpresence, but it may as well be a blank homepage for all the good it does them.

Simply put, nothing will happen online unless you have visitors to your site, or ‘traffic’ as it’s known. Unless you have traffic, no one can buy anything, read anything, connect with you, collaborate with you or spread your message.

If you want one of the best explanations of this concept, then I thoroughly recommend you take 6 minutes out of you day and watch the video below…

Anyway, that’s not the main reason for today’s article.

Hopefully now, you appreciate the value of “traffic” to your website. The next question is how do you get it? There is of course no simple answer, and the devil is in the detail, however, I stumbled across a great set of immediately implementable ideas for someone starting out, or an established web business and wanted to share it with you.

Download 366 Traffic Methods here.

I know I called the title 365 – because there’s at least one method I’m not sure about, however in 10 minutes, you’ll be able to scan through the pdf and choose at least 100 you could use for your business.

I should add, there’s a pitch from the orginial author in the first couple of pages, which if you purchase will earn us a few bucks/pounds, however it’s easily skippable, to get on to the meaty part!

Take action today and go get some more traffic!

Business and having fun don’t mix. Or do they?

I’ve been toying with this phrase for a while now and Chris Brogan provided the inspiration behind this post, after I saw the video below on his site today.

Some questions for you…

  • When was the last time you leapt out of bed in the morning?
  • When was the last time you had a night out with your team or your clients?
  • When was the last time you lol-ed in the office (laughed out loud ;-))
  • When were you last inspired during a day at work?
  • When did you last learn something new?

If the answer to all of those questions is something along the lines of “I can’t remember”, then I’d suggest this Monday morning you take a good look at the situation you’re in. You could be in the same situation in 5 years time or 10 years time, and you won’t thank yourself.

Business can be fun. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then of course it won’t be. If it’s not fun, then you won’t be doing your best work. If you’re not doing your best work, then… quite frankly, what’s the point? Sure you’ve got bills to pay and sure, not every day can be a bowl of cherries, but if your trend graph is point downwards, take action today…

Some inspiration for you below… take 5 minutes out and have fun.

The CRC Energy Efficiency scheme can’t be ignored

This is a really short post to remind Being Smarter viewers who work for the biggest 5,000 companies in the UK that in April, your world is going to change.

No longer can companies turn a blind eye to leaving the lights on, to not regulating heating properly or not EDUCATING their employees as to the importance of energy efficiencies.

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme will kick in from April, where those 5,000 companies will be ranked according to the change they make in their businesses over the coming months and years. Part of that change process involves educating employees.

Do you know know how you will educate yours? How can you train 00’s or 000’s of employees across dispersed geographies?

We have a solution. Our training venture, The 8.45 Club has teamed up with a leading futuroligist, Dr Graeme Codrington to produce a 12 module video course which can be delivered to desktops over a few weeks without impacting on employee productivity or incurring huge travel and off the road expenses.

You can buy this CRC energy efficiency scheme training course right here, right now… OR if you would like to have a tailored version delivered to your employees, then talk to us. We’re a friendly bunch and know what we’re doing.

Don’t leave it. It has to be tackled.

White Wednesday

Yesterday was quite a day, and so I’ve had to give it a name. I learnt three big lessons and wanted to share them – so here goes with my story…

White Wednesday

12.01am Finished a Skype call with the excellent Guru Bob from the Thirty Day Challenge – he was being his ever helpful self – thanks Rob.

12.05am My wife and I were up late – watching the snow settle.

12.06am After a couple of weeks of indecision, because I was waiting for multiple things to be confirmed, she persuaded me that a) I can’t please all the people all the time and b) you can’t wait for everything to come into alignment before making  a decision. You can however make one decision and that will help everything else align.

12.12am Thud. Weight of snow (yes it was seriously sticky snow) brings down the phone line and the broadband with it. Obviously the out-of-use line was still going strong…

12.15am On hold to BT.

12.40am Fault reported.

12.50am Mobile broadband clearly couldn’t get through the snow on the local base station.

1.00am Went to bed without booking the flight to Australia my wife had persuaded me to book 55 mins ago.

7.00am Awoke with a start. Schools and nursery closed. Phoneline curled around cars in the drive. Ripped up plans for the day.

10.00am Went to my neighbours to fix their wireless, and then settle down there for the day. Booked the (last seat at the right price on the) flight, did the essentials.

12.05pm Remembered lesson #2 from this post and got thoroughly soaked playing in the snow with the children.

1.00pm More neighbours joined. Lunch was brought to us… working from home was attempted by a few.

2.00pm Did some more essentials

5.00pm Opened a bottle of red. Work fizzled out for all the neighbours. The 8 children who had been playing together all day continued (great to watch).

6.00pm Dad’s went down the pub. Yes on a school night. Except surely school would be shut tomorrow wouldn’t it?

7.00pm Dad’s experienced what the aftermath of armageddon would feel like, as we walked through the snow to a shining light that was the curry house like the three musketeers. Saw about 1 car.

8.00pm Enjoyed a wonderful meal.

10.00pm Thought it was time to go home, carried the kids through the snow and put them to bed.

So, what has this got to do with Being Smarter? What did I learn?

  1. Accept when you have a problem, accept when it’s not fixable and do something about it. Don’t spend hours complaining about it.
  2. Make decisions which are informed. Accept that every ‘i’ is never going to be dotted. Don’t not make a decision (you’ll pay an extra £500 on your flight ;-))
  3. Make time for your family and friends. Business is NOT everything. Some things really can wait. Some things (like trudging through the snow for a curry in the dark and throwing snowballs at your son) can’t.

What business lessons have you learnt recently from a memorable day?

Yesterday was quite a day, and so I’ve had to give it a name. I learnt three big lessons from the day and wanted to share them – so here goes.

12.01am Finished a Skype call with the wonderful Guru Bob from the Thirty Day Challenge – he was being his ever helpful self – thanks Rob.

12.05am My wife and I were up late for us – watching the snow settle. After a couple of weeks of indecision, because I was waiting for multiple things to be confirmed, she persuaded me that a) I can’t please all the people all the time and b) you can’t wait for everything to come into alignment before making  a decision. You can however make one decision and that will help everything else align.

12.07am Thud. Weight of snow (yes it was seriously sticky snow) brings down the phone line and the broadband with it. At least the out of use line stayed put…

12.10am On hold to BT.

12.40am Fault reported.

12.50am Mobile broadband clearly couldn’t get through the snow on the local base station

1.00am Went to bed without booking the flight to Australia my wife had persuaded me to book 55 mins ago.

7.00am Awoke with a start. Schools and nursery closed. Phoneline curled around cars in the drive. Ripped up plans for the day.

10.00am Went to my neighbours to fix their wireless, and then settle down there for the day. Booked the flight, did the essentials.

12.05pm Remembered lesson #2 from this post and got thoroughly soaked playing in the snow with the children.

1.00pm More neighbours joined. Lunch was brought to us… work was attempted by a few.

2.00pm Did some more essentials

5.00pm Opened a bottle of red. Work fizzled out for all the neighbours. The 8 children been playing together all day.

6.00pm Dad’s went down the pub. Yes on a school night.

7.00pm Dad’s experienced what aftermath of armageddon would feel like as we walked through the snow to a shining light that was the curry house like the three musketeers. Saw about 1 car.

8.00pm Enjoyed a wonderful meal.

10.00pm Thought it was time to go home, carried the kids through the snow and put them to bed.

So, what has this got to do with Being Smarter? What did I learn?

1) Accept when you have a problem, accept when it’s not fixable and do something about it. Don’t spend hours complaining about it.

2) Make decisions which are informed. Accept that every ‘i’ is never going to be dotted. Don’t not make a decision (you’ll pay an extra £500 on your flight ;-))

3)

10 ways not to do business in 2010

Happy New Year to all of our Being Smarter readers.

I wanted to start the year by resurrecting a post from December last year – which seems very appropriate for the start of the working year for most people…

At a recent conference, a now colleague of mine, Ed Dale did four separate sessions on a topic which I am calling “How to do business in 2010“… he had a different title, but my take on it was simple – it was a message to all corporate management… to all the folks who’ve sadly been made redundant recently from that world… and to all smaller businesses who are paralysed by indecision. The message was something along the lines of

“Wake up and smell the coffee… the world has totally changed (not just by the Internet.) If you carry on doing business as it was done ten years ago, or do you know what, perhaps even a year ago… then you are dead in the water.”

There were 86 separate provacative statements, here’s my top 10:

1.) Whatever you do, make sure you’re in a business or market place that you are completely unpassionate about. Make sure that it leaves you feeling cold, empty and completely drained at the end of the day. The great news is that if you’ve found a marketplace you particularly have no interest in, it will help you to be average at best when it comes to selling to and supporting your customers – and they will love you for it.

2.)If you are in a small business, ensure you try to run it like a corporate entitiy. Make sure you absolutely do not in any way try to differentiate yourself from these bigger companies. Treat your customers like numbers and be completely devoid of any business personality.

3.) When developing products or services, it’s imperative that you don’t start to build anything without examining every ounce of detail at the early stage. Take as long as you like to write specs and make sure you start with the small picture and buld it up. You’ll never get anything launched if you don’t spend many weeks and months getting the finer detail argued about, before talking to customers about the concept – they won’t thank you.

4.) When your service is launched – for goodness sake try to sell it to everyone that moves… ignore segmentation and playing in niche markets – it’s a complete waste of time. If the product is good enough, everyone will want it.

5.) If you’re in the online game, think very carefully about building giant server or data centre infrastructures the minute your product is out the door. There’s literally no one else out there that does this kind of thing… and they certainly wouldn’t be able to scale it up to your demands.Your data is important to you, and so you should keep it under your control at all times.

6.) When designing your next product, ensure you get every feature that your customers will need into the very first release. Don’t design it so that it could be released in stages, or people just won’t buy it. They need everything on day one.

7.) Decision making – this is key. Involve everyone at all times. Ensure you plan as many meetings as possible – all day ones if necessary to reach a consensus. If you aren’t able to make a decision with the whole team after a huge amount of analysis and delay, then play safe and don’t make one.

8.) When it comes to recruitment, make sure you hire experts in their field, irrespective of whether they are difficult to work with. It’s much better to have a team of experts who don’t communicate than a team of generalists who gel as a team and work for the common good. Oh – and don’t work with them as affiliates or freelancers first to test them out – that just isn’t the done thing.

9.) Customers don’t mind being slightly misled about what they are about to receive as a service… as long as you hook them in, they’ll generally soon get over it. It also helps to provide a very detailed contract, which is difficult to break out of, for your protection.

10.) And finally, the Internet is just a fad. Stick with the old rules of marketing – direct mail and cold calling has worked for years. Your customer base has no idea what a twoot or a blag is, and they’re still on 56k modems, so video will never work on their pcs – you will just need to invest in a support department.

If you like my take on Ed’s wisdom, check out this post 5 Days with Ed Dale.