A Friday the 13th Opportunity

or Through the “Looking” (Google) Glass

If you’ve been considering a new look for your website or are ready to build another site, let my weird week pay off for you big time.

What a strange week this has been. End of term drama with students, getting extra “Daddy days” while my wife nurses her mother back to post-surgical health, and fighting off some sort of cough-snot nastiness.

google-glass_techcrunchA couple more things that happened this week that are relevant to you: a client abandoned a project in the customization phase and Google invited me to play with their latest toy. These two together lead to an interesting opportunity for you.

I’m quite happy with the latest custom theme I built (that looks amazingly like the one you’re viewing now!). Intentionally pared down visual elements, easily customizable, and responsive/mobile friendly. Unfortunately, the client is no longer planning to use the theme due to a shift in their business internals.

I suspect this will develop into my latest boilerplate for future custom themes. And in the meantime, I’d rather get it out there on some more sites rather than languish on my hardrive.

Combine that with a time-sensitive invite to get my own Google Glass unit, and I start feeling like the Godfather (as well as sounding like Corleone with this sore throat!) — I’d like to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

This project was over $1000 and we cut the customization phase short. I’d like to pick up there and customize this WordPress theme for a few individuals and cover the costs of the Glass unit without disturbing the rest of my budget.

When you take advantage of my shiny object syndrome (or rather the commercialization of technology I’ve been drooling over and attempting to piece together over the last two decades!), you get the leverage of the core theme I just built ($1,000+) as well as an initial round of customizations ($500) for just the cost of the customizations — $500.

I will also include a .com domain name and cpanel hosting for a year ($100) and install and configure WordPress on your new site ($50). And if you have your content ready now, I will create up to the first 5 pages of the site ($250). (Including a “contact us” page with form that emails you and also allows you to browse all the entries within the WordPress dashboard.)

If you’re updating an existing site, I will install and test the new theme on a representative subset of your site to ensure that there are no conflicts with any existing plugins on your site that may not play nice with others ($300-500).

And, once you’ve paid, I have a wide library of plugins that I can install from other vendors that I have with “developer rights,” meaning I can install them on client sites as well as my own. These include plugins to run your own affiliate program, membership site, or appointment system (among many other things) — all within your existing WordPress site.

Now, I can only honor this for a very small number of people over the next two days (through 9pm Pacific on Sunday) because I have a limited time to order my Google Glass (my invite is only good for 7 days!) and I also have very little time for additional client work between now and the end of the year. If you order and my schedule is already full, I will have to refund your money and I can quote your project after the new year.

Secure Payment Options:


with Dwolla or

with Paypal

For this, I don’t have time (or interest) to put together a fancy direct-response salesletter or a bunch of compelling graphics. If this is something you want/need/find interesting, reserve your place now and you’ll have a new site or new look by the end of the year.

Either way, have a happy Christmas and create a wonderful new year!

P.S. What do *you* think of Google Glass? Freakshow, fad, or phenom?! Comment below.

Coincidence & Preparation

I do not believe in coincidence.

Sure, I get the actual deconstruction of the word (co – incident, occurring at the same time), but it isn’t something magical or mystical to me. Just like the “Law of Attraction” — coincidence is all about tuning your awareness.

Photo by Lindsay Sorensen

I certainly subscribe to the notion of giving an idea more conscious processing time when I’ve noticed it in 3 different ways/places/forms in a short period of time. I’m not saying that any of those 3+ interactions were not divinely inspired. What I am saying, is that independent of the externals, I noticed it three times.

By focusing on the internal aspect, I have some control over what happens — unlike what happened when I used to focus on the externals. I can only partially control what stimuli I’m exposed to, and that only by being aware of what environments I put myself into each moment of my day.

What I can take control of is my own internal state. I can apply that small amount of willpower in ways that have the biggest positive impact in my life, independent of the environment in which I may find myself.

The challenge is this: you can’t dig your well when you’re thirsty (HT to my friend Donna Fox). You have to plan ahead, do the work in advance, and have those resources at the ready when the need arises. It can be hard work, and you rarely have the extra resources available to do that hard work “on the fly” — any extra resources you can gather are usually needed to deal with the current situation.

Athletes do not walk onto the field/court/ring without having spent many hours perfecting their craft. They don’t go out on game day and expect to learn a new technique. They often spend years getting the mechanics internalized enough that they can then spend the rest of their life, or at least their career, perfecting the nuances of their craft. And that perfecting is a function of regular practice, tested through training with others, and proven through competition (HT to Scott Sonnon).

I take those “coincidence” moments, when I become consciously aware of a specific part of my world, and use them as triggers. This is a “privileged signal” from my unconscious that has become conscious. When I’m ready to receive that information, I know it is prompting me to “dig my well” and take some knowledge, awareness, or behavior to the next level.

What are the “levels”? Just like the athlete example, it is either going from nothing to gross skill, adding a layer of refinement to existing skills, or deconstructing a skill in order to teach it to others. These transitions correspond roughly, in NLP vocabulary, to moving from conscious incompetence (or possibly unconscious incompetence) to conscious competence, from conscious competence to unconscious competence, and unconscious competence to mastery modeling.

Right now, I am hyper aware of two related things: the physical ways in which we release our emotional tensions and the verbal mechanisms for shifting the beliefs that drive those emotions. I am putting in conscious time “practicing” by refining my skills at Sleight of Mouth language patterns as well as developing new skills in renewing joint mobility and releasing muscular tensions.

What do these promptings have to do with business? Only as much as your business involves you thinking clearly or moving smoothly. Last time I checked, even Internet-only business people have a body (all you brain-in-a-jar folks, please correct me) and that body influences your thought process (and vice versa)!

Taking a step back, business owners also need to know what skills need practice and training to prepare for the testing during “competition.” It’s also handy to know what situations are truly competition versus training versus practice. (My own rule of thumb: if it just involves internal skills, it is practice; if it involves your team or partners, it is training; if it involves other businesses in the same market, it is competition.)

For those of us not directly retailing, this time of year is perfect for practicing and training for the new year. While your competition is off thinking about the holidays, you can be digging your well — developing the skills you’ll need in the moment when things pick back up post-holidays.

Taking another step back, developing your awareness of how you’re being prompted, internally, can lead to some great moments of flow — both the “in the zone” type flow and cash flow! Of course, you need to do something because of that awareness and hopefully the little bit of knowledge shared here will help drive that behavior to prepare in resourceful ways.

If you’d like to find out more about the product I’m preparing to help “dig your well” emotionally, sign up on this page so I can send you updates via email.

How have you been prompted recently?
What are you practicing right now?
Please share below!

Massive Action

Wordpress Instant Minisite plugin

It’s been a whirlwind of a month. I’ve gotten more done in the last six weeks than the last six months and I “blame” a few different folks for contributing to my high level of productivity.

In late July, I walked through a process called ISIS and set an intent to serve more people, leverage tension management, and create sustainable functionality. If that all sounds like gibberish, that’s fine, because going through the process (with a little guidance) kicked me into high gear.

The week after I started through the ISIS process I finished six client sites, had a breakthrough in my research, and started developing a new product in partnership with John Delavera. I was doing so much good work that one of my friends lamented “where’s the fun Wayne?” (Don’t worry, he’s still here, just resting during this half of the tension cycle.)

The month was rolling along, I get the product ready for testing, and as I start sending out review copies — disaster — one of the web hosting companies I use disappeared and took the new product site with it. Annoying, but no big deal, they should be back in a couple hours.

That’s when I made the mistake of waiting.
A week later, still no signs of the hosting company.
Two weeks pass, still no word and no hosting.

Fortunately, I caught myself in the hurry-up-and-wait mode and broke out of it.
Switched hosting providers, got everything set up again, and slipped back into hurry-up-and-wait for the reviewers. This time I noticed it after a few days (instead of weeks) and pushed forward anyway.

During this waiting time Marlon Sanders sent out an email recommending a book called The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone. Grabbed a copy, read it over the weekend, and kicked back into gear. The major premise of the 10x book is that success isn’t something optional or nice to have, it is our duty and obligation to be successful. The title comes from Cardone’s suggestion for reaching success: make 10x bigger goals and take 10x as many actions.

The funny thing is, I’ll give Cardone credit for making a better meme, but I’ve taught the same principles that drive The 10x Rule before! It’s the “shoot for the moon and even if you fall short you’ll land among the stars” method of planning with what I call MnM goals.

Anyway, I kicked back into 10x high gear and leveraged the “do 10x as many actions” mantra, and my commitment to Delavera, to crank out my first product release into a particular marketplace (something I’d been considering for way too long without having committed). I found myself using the 10x mindset unconsciously, then realizing that the three solid reviews I got in time to release the product were the result of having given out 20+ review copies and if I’d given out the half a dozen I’d started with I would have been lucky to have any reviews!

This past weekend Marlon sent out another email with a challenge that meshed nicely with the 10x factor. The challenge was to implement two time blocks a day for 7 days, one for producing and one for promoting. I took him up on his challenge and set aside two blocks each day.

Again, time blocking is something I’d heard from Paul Evans and Derrick Franklin, but hadn’t thought to label them with core activities. (Thanks for that prompting Marlon! You really are the best at breaking marketing down into simple pieces.)

From all of this, I created a cool product called WP Instant Minisite. It released on Tuesday, and is already in the black and poised to pay a nice return.

Lessons (Re)Learned This Month

  • Clarity from setting strategic intent generates lots of free energy.
  • Having a solid goal that is beyond what you’d normally set pushes up the activity level.
  • Thinking in terms of 10x actions generates enough action to reach those solid goals.
  • External accountability, commitment, and feedback remove hesitation points (thanks John!).
  • “Release early, release often” takes “80% done” into the marketplace for real feedback and iterative improvement.
  • Knowing your core activities and blocking time around other commitments gets them done everyday.
  • Faith without works is dead, no one is justified by the law; have faith and take action!

Basically, it’s the same few lessons repeated on different scales: trust, set an intention, take massive action, get feedback often, iterate quickly.

How are you going to apply these this week?
Leave a comment and leverage that public declaration!

Quick Accountability Formula

You know the power of accountability, ne?

Accountability

Leadership © by GrowWear

Having done a lot of soul searching and self-discovery over the years, I’ve come to recognize that I’m externally motivated and externally validated. Needing other people to get jazzed and to confirm straight thinking means the best way to kick-start yourself is to make sure you’re reaching out and connecting with other people.

Here’s the formula and a little explanation:

  • Far + Near + Past + Feeling = Action

This is a tested and proven formula that has been used by myself and others to get more things done than would have happened otherwise.

As a business mentor, my friend and some time business partner, Donna Fox has used this with spectacular results — for herself and for those being mentored. She uses a daily meeting of about 5 minutes with these components. Check out her accountability blog post for the details of how she uses this formula.

In a productivity setting, my friend and fellow NLP Trainer, Stever Robbins has guided many groups through an hourly-check-in-for-a-day version of this same formula in what he calls Action Days.

The same components are there to some degree in both of these protocols: far, past, near, feeling — and they both generate more action than not employing these components.

Here’s the breakdown on what each piece is and how it helps:

  • Far — this is a goal to be met several accountability cycles into the future. When meeting daily, that means on the week-month scale. When meeting hourly, that means on the today-tomorrow scale. Stating this gives you a direction to focus your efforts and a “big chunk” to double check yourself against before the next accountability session. When I declare I’m releasing a product next Monday, it is simple to check against this “product release” direction and say yes-or-no on whether my action at a given moment is headed in the right direction.
  • Past — this is reporting what happened in the time since the last accountability session. A brief “got X & Y done, not Z” is a valid report on the past. The mere fact that we ask “what did I get done, or not get done” helps us track our results by noticing what is/isn’t happening between sessions. It’s amazing to me how small an amount of tracking can keep you making course corrections almost immediately.
  • Near — this is laying out what you’re going to do before the next accountability meeting. Again, just a brief “I’m going to do A, B, & maybe C” kick starts actions. This Near is like the Far because it sets direction. The primary difference between Far and Near is that the Far sets a more strategic or bird’s-eye direction and Near sets a more tactical or on-the-ground direction.
  • Feeling — this is where you take a moment to notice what you feel about the other components. Does your Far still have the same feelings surrounding it? How do you feel about what you did/didn’t do in the Past time frame? How ready do you feel to finish your proposed Near actions? How will it feel to hit those Near/Far milestones and be reporting them as Past accomplishments? (I’ll skip the explanation on how this component works. It will be quite obvious for those it will help, and moot for those that it won’t!)

There you go — a formula for getting a lot more done with a little accountability.

  • Far + Near + Past + Feeling = Action!

How have you noticed these pieces as a part of your accountability?
When have you successfully used accountability to drive your own actions?
Share below.

Business Planning Gratitude

It is amazing to me what a little gratitude can do and how much difference a lot of gratitude can make. I wasn’t raised sending thank you cards, so I am having to be intentional as an adult — sometimes with more success than others.

Last week I developed an internal editorial calendar and, thankfully, it was prompted by a desire to be more intentional in expressing gratitude. What specifically prompted it was connecting with @TimBerry on twitter.

Tim is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software who makes the best business planning software I’ve ever seen. So what does that have to do with gratitude? I’ve gotten two great gifts from Tim over the last few years: a copy of Business Plan Pro and an hour of his time, both in connection with the McCloskey business plan competition.

Not only can I recommend the company’s software, but I highly recommend connecting with Tim as he is articulate, experienced, and an all around nice guy — especially when it comes to business topics.

And as I continue to practice my gratitude, we can all thank Tim for the inspiration — unintentional or not!

Who are you grateful to today? Share below in the comments.

Lesson Learned from Accidentally Getting #1 Search Result

Accidental #1 in Google — Lessons Learned at AgapeArmor.com

The punchline:

  • Know your desired action
  • Focus on the right things
  • Beware when being sold
  • Know your desired action!

Here is the list of folks from the video — these are ones I listen to (and think you should too):

(And yes, I’ve gotten value from every one of the above links — that’s why I value and trust these folks!)

What do you take away from my top search rankings shown in the video? Comment below.

CookieMonster-plus update (1.3.6) — CF7 integration

Just a quick announcement that I updated the CookieMonster-plus plugin (since I realized I hadn’t announced the last minor update).

The new features include a config option for setting the cookie duration (default is 30 days) and integration with Contact Form 7 to allow pre-filling text and email fields based on cookied values. I’m considering the same feature for hidden fields, but I ran out of steam just getting the visible fields to work properly.

In case you missed the significance, you can use CM+ to pre-fill people’s name and email address in contact forms so you can pass them from, say, a squeeze page to a survey page. CF7 has lots of flexibility in configuring forms and can be easily setup for surveys. When combined with the Contact Form 7 to Database Extension you can get something akin to the Ask Database survey functionality but self contained within WordPress.

CM+ 1.3.6 added CF7 shortcodes text+, text*+, email+, and email*+ to pull values from cookies or other parameter string values. They behave just like the non-plus versions, they just check the cookies and parameter string for default values to pre-fill the form.

As always, feel compelled to download CookieMonster-plus and sign up for my plugin announcement list below.

Google heatmap

While talking with one of my web design clients, the question of where to put certain design elements came up.

I made this numbered image so that we could talk about regions of the Google heatmap image while working on his new site. The cool feature of this heat map is that it is based on the big G’s extensive Adsense data to recommend placement of ads for the most clicks (darker is higher click density).

Google heat map Adsense

Are you keeping these sorts of test results in mind as a starting point for your own tests on new sites?

Update (May 10, 2011): through “random” connections this evening I just ran across Michael Campbell’s Ultimate Heatmap report which overlays the major advertisers’ heat- and clickmaps to produce his “ultimate” map. The report also includes the main ad sizes to consider and 9 heavily tested templates for advertising on blogs. He makes the same suggestion of using his results as a starting point to run your own tests.

Enjoy!

Facebook Fan Page “Forced Like” Ethics

I recently dove into a project to set up Facebook Tab Manager, a cool plugin from David Carr that feeds a Facebook fan page it’s content from your WordPress install. There are a couple cool features of the plugin for turning off certain WP filters that makes it especially nice. Otherwise, you can create your fan page content just like you create your blog content — same interface, editor, and plugins.

The challenge I set up for myself was to get the much touted “forced like” feature integrated for my friends and clients. I let a few people know that I was looking for testers and my friend @ShelHorowitz sent a DM on twitter mentioning that he boycotts any pages that use “forced like.” This got me thinking.

So here was my question: is having more content available to those who “like” your fan page on Facebook any different than sending exclusive content to those who subscribed via an email capture page on a web site?

For those that don’t know, the idea of a “forced like” is that in order to see the content on a Facebook fan page you would have to click the “like” button and become their “fan” first. I’ve seen people selling poorly thought out schemes for collecting a bazillion fans overnight that rely on the curiosity factor around this hidden content as the only reason to become a fan.

I suspected that the reason Shel found that objectionable is that the reason it is named forced like — it is typically done with such hype and strong language that it is assumed you won’t be able to see anything unless you are a fan. In the extreme cases, where the only content on the fan page is the single piece of “hidden” content, it is probably true that you’d have to “like” it before seeing anything. The funny thing is, if that’s all there is to see, it’s probably not worth the time/energy/attention to like it.

There are many legitimate uses for splitting publicly viewable content from fan/like/subscriber-only content. Rewarding those who “join the tribe” is a great thing, you just need to make sure you’re giving other reasons to join besides just the “bribe.”

Personally, I intend to use this splitting of content in much the same way that Seth Godin suggests we use cookies — giving those who have not opted-in and “liked” the fan page useful information that A) they may need/want before deciding to “like” the page and B) they probably won’t need after they have opted-in because they’ll be a part of the tribe. Then, and only then, I would consider a bribe if deemed necessary.

You shouldn’t need the landing tab to include things like contact info because that is always visible on the “Info” tab, and with congruent activity the wall posts should give people a good idea of what to expect in their news feeds as fans. Depending on the level of tech-savvy of your audience, you may need that landing tab to include explicit instructions for a visitor to browse your other tabs and/or click “Like” to receive future updates and describing how they’ll get those updates.

It turns out that not being able to see much content was only a minor part of Shel’s objection, which he elaborated to me later in the day. The main issue around liking pages, forced or not, is that of implied endorsement in a public arena and the reputation management that goes along with that Like/endorsement being spread across your friends’ news feeds.

This adds a new twist on the old aphorism:
Now you need people to know and trust you enough to “Like” you!

With all that in mind, if you’d like to be notified when I have my updated version of that plugin ready for a wider audience, go ahead and enter your name and email in the form below and opt-in.

(See, that wasn’t so hard to do — a little relationship building, sharing some good info, and then suggesting the next action for those who are interested. Go do the same thing on your Facebook fan pages and you’ll be just fine.)

Happy Heart Day!

I’ve been spending the day playing with my darling children and during lulls in the LOLs I’ve been pondering certain little children and their families who will be just as joyful for their own “heart day” funded on this “heart day.”

My friend Dr.Mani is continually raising awareness for congenital heart defects and he always leverages the obvious holiday: St. Valentine’s Day / CHD Awareness Day. This year Dr.Mani has two things happening on the auspicious day — one for business owners and one for those who want to use their passion to make big things happen.

Business Boosting Pack from Dr.ManiBusiness owners (and those who want to be business owners) can take advantage of a business boosting pack and know that the profits from the sale are going directly to fund children’s heart surgeries. I picked up my copy of this bundle during a special last year and can highly recommend it. The smaller bundle gets you 8+ ebooks including Dr.Mani’s seminal Think, Write & Retire for the price of Think, Write & Retire alone. (And TWR is worth it on it’s own!)

The larger bundle has all of that plus two additional products that are, in my opinion, the main reasons to take advantage of this special. Ezine ANTI Marketing and 5x Profits SYSTEM, like TWR, contain much of Dr.Mani’s hard-won wisdom for selling products online. I love his contrarian advice in the Ezine ANTI Marketing product — you don’t need a huge list if you build relationships with your small list!

47 Hearts - Passion into actionThe other special today is for those with passion that has not necessarily translated into action as well as you would like, or who would just like to help fund a child’s heart surgery with a few dollars. Dr.Mani has decided to launch his book “47 Hearts” on the Kindle ebook platform and has several additional reports as gifts for picking up your copy today.

I have had a copy of 47 Hearts for quite a while and I obviously needed to re-read it since I was blown away again by the great advice on each page. I really believe that anyone with even a little passion for something bigger than themselves can benefit from this book — and periodically revisiting it.

Oh, and even though this is published on Kindle, there are a number of options even without a Kindle device. Amazon has apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, desktop, etc. Also, Dr.Mani will cheerfully send you a PDF version of the book after you send him a copy of your receipt.

I also realized that there are people who want to help Dr.Mani’s work but may not have the $3 to spend on 47 Hearts. If you don’t have the money, but have half an hour, you can still help fund a child’s heart surgery! (Oh, and the bonus reports from Dr.Mani will help prevent not having the money in the future if you apply them and the 47 Hearts principles.)

Rather appropriately, the solution I came up with is also through Amazon. You may not be aware of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program. Mechanical Turk is a platform for businesses to request tasks, “HITs” in their terms. These tasks are small things that a computer can’t do easily, but a person can. So, MT allows the business owner to treat the turk as if it were a computer, but people perform the tasks.

Why Mechanical Turk is relevant is this, they pay people to perform these HITs. Depending on the task and the business each HIT can pay $0.01 and up. Checking just now, I saw HITs up to $7 each. Now, the $7 HIT involved up to 3 hours, a phone, and some French language skills, so not everyone could easily perform that one. I did, however, see several that paid around $2 for “testing a website” that were 10-20 minutes max. Oh, and as a bonus, they deposit the payments directly into your Amazon.com account, so then you can buy 47 Hearts without any shuffling of funds.

So, there are your choices for how to help some little hearts today.
Dr.Mani’s Business Booster Pack and/or 47 Hearts – How To Live Your Dreams With Passion, Purpose & Persistence!