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.

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!

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.

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!

Top 10 People for 2011

I’ve been fighting my perfectionistic tendencies for a month writing this up “right” and today I got two promptings to just get it out there. (Perfectionism in my writing does not play well with taking care of the family, finishing my dissertation, and finishing jobs for my clients. Here’s one small step for [this] man, and a giant leap for writing-productivity-kind.)

This year I’m fending off my own S.O.S. (shiny object syndrome) and concentrating on one business area at a time. While feeling the psiren’s call of the shiny product/course/software, I had a moment of clarity and committed to following through with the materials I’ve already got from people I resonate most with. Here’s the short list of my top 10 folks, in no particular order.

  1. Dr.Mani – passion, double bottom line, solo infopreneuring
  2. Paul Myers – writing, mental shifts, meta-basics
  3. Marlon Sanders – produce+promote, copywriting, high-level strategy
  4. Tinu Abayomi-Paul – traffic generation via twitter, facebook, blogs
  5. Dr. Letitia Wright, D.C. – real world media and publicity, contrarian online business
  6. John Childers – selling from the stage
  7. Rick Butts – keynote speaking
  8. Mark Joyner – big ideas, Simple·ology
  9. Brian McElroy – email marketing, webinars, generating high-end clients
  10. Jason Fladlien – “good enough” copy, webinars, prolific product and content creation

Of course, after making the list a bunch of other influential names came to mind including Willie Crawford, Mark Austin, Dave Lakhani, Lee Collins, Tellman Knudson, Paul Evans, Nicola Cairncross, Lynn Terry, Terry Dean, Stephen Dean, Ryan Healy, Stever Robbins, Jonathan Altfeld, T.Falcon Napier, Mike Jay, and many other friends and mentors.

The more “perfect” version of the list was quickly becoming a full blown report as I gave a little background on each person and further resources on what I find most influential from each of them. I’ll certainly release that stuff as I get it produced.

In the meantime, there’s my list (and if you can’t figure out my story-arc for the year, sorry, it’s all there between the two lists!). The interesting thing to note is that I have interacted directly with almost all of these folks in one way or another — most on the phone or gasp in real life! A couple of them are on my lists in spite of the fact that I don’t really like interacting with them — their info and example is so good that I set aside my random emotional reaction and study what makes me come back in spite of that emotional reaction. Yeah, they are that good at what they do.

Special thanks go out to Dr.Mani for the example of his Top 10 IM Ezines post and Nicola Cairncross for her article about her Top 10 Business Influences so far.

The HEART of the season…

Now that we’ve made it through the gift buying holidays, I invite you to take a moment and reflect on your year.
No, we will not be making any resolutions, but we may be saving some lives.

Set aside the things you did or did not get this past year and think about what you have to be thankful for…

This year, more than ever, I am thankful for a strong, healthy heart — something I often take for granted.

http://CHDinfo.com/2010

2010 has definitely been a year of heart awareness for me: my father-in-law having a heart attack a couple months ago, my friend Jon Benson collapsing due to some genetic heart issues, and my friend Dr.Mani saving more kids born with congenital heart defects.

My father-in-law seems to be doing well and Jon is back to gallivanting around the globe while teaching more people how to “beat their genes” like he has — through solid diet and exercise.

Now, Dr.Mani always has room to improve. Even though he has had a record year performing surgeries for his “heart kids” he has so many other kids that could be helped if the funds were there to subsidize the medical expenses.

Here’s where you get to help.

http://CHDinfo.com/2010

Think back on all those things you are thankful for this year and dig deep to “donate” to these kids. Dr.Mani is one of my top 10 people to follow in my information marketing business and the fact that he knows his passion in business — to support these kids — is only one reason I follow him.

The other main reason he’s in my top 10 is that he knows how to make online business work as a busy person without a team of employees, VAs, or outsourcers — just his own efforts in between the many tasks of a professional surgeon. If having a “solo-preneur” business is one of your goals, now is the time to act.

Dr.Mani has offered the chance to help the kids while helping yourself. He has put together a bundle of some of his best products for you while all of the profits go straight to fund more heart surgeries. Oh, and he’s set a goal of raising $10,000 by the new year, so he’s only offering this particular bundle until then.

http://CHDinfo.com/2010

No new year’s resolutions here, just positive changes — in your business, in the hearts of these children, and hopefully your own heart too.

Happy New Year!

Blog Talk (Radio) Resources

Thank you Cory, for allowing me to share on your show today. I hope that the audio I put together can help your listeners as much as it has helped my readers.

Click here for the free audio.

And for my folks, you can certainly pick up the audio above, as well as checking out the call on Overcoming Adversity with Dr. Letitia Wright, D.C. and Cory’s other archived shows at blogtalkradio.com/richideas

The greatest of these …

As we are full in the swing of the holi-daze, it’s good to remember what the season is all about. It isn’t shopping, spending, buying — it *is* about giving and love.

I was coming here to share about a particular book that an associate asked me to promote. I changed my mind after seeing the “trippy” gifts being submitted for that launch.

Instead, I’m going to recommend the book Allowing by Holly Riley. I have heard nothing but good things about Holly and her book from our mutual friend Don McKinnon (make sure you grab a copy of his gift among those available by registering your book purchase at http://hollyriley.com/allowing/).

The lesson here: I could have just blindly mentioned the other book because I was asked to promote it. I did not because it is not congruent with my beliefs and therefore would have been a poor choice all around. (Maybe I’ll go into some of the consequences of acting against your beliefs in another post, but I’m sure you can come up with quite a list yourself!)

So, rather than pimping a book I didn’t believe in but had been asked to share, I shared a book I could believe in because a friend I respect loves the book and enjoys the author as a person. Relationships trump pretty much everything else.

As you head over to Amazon and pick up Holly’s book, ponder how your business can build on and build up those relationships that matter and where you may need to eliminate or minimize other relationships that don’t fit with your mission (which is hopefully more than just strip mining cash and disappearing — which it must be, or else you wouldn’t still be here reading my stuff!).

In the meantime, remember ”the greatest of these is Love”!

More Business = EAT during the holidays

Doing business on the Internet is “easy” — you just put up a web site and collect the moola, right?
Um, no.

Or at least not any more than doing business offline is as simple as setting up an office and getting paid.

So, what’s missing from this overly simplistic idea of business?
People for one. Interacting with those people for another.
An exchange of value for a third.
And online there is the small issue of wrestling with technology.

I think a better model of business than thinking in terms of location (web site/office) is to think in terms of the actions required for business to occur. I’ve got it down to 3 actions.
Business is about being able to EAT.

Exposure -> Action -> Trade

Your business needs to expose the right people to its message, that message needs to generate some action from those prospects, and they become leads or actual clients when they trade value with you.

This same model works for online or offline, first time buyers or repeat customers, and across industries.


How does each of the pieces of this EAT model play out in an online business?

Exposure

Getting your message in front of the right people is the first step.

Don’t mistake “message” to just mean the words you use. Non-verbals often count for more than the “verbal” content of the words. I’m not discounting the power of well structured verbal patterns using the “right” words, just accentuating the often neglected non-verbal component.

Your content and the non-verbal “framing” of its appearance is one of the biggest ways to expose people to your message online. Whether through your website, your facebook profile/fan page/group, your twitter page, your squeeze pages, or your sales pages you want to expose people to the message in such a way that it generates the desired action — not that just looks cool or pretty!

There are many courses out there teaching “traffic generation” but few address the idea of exposure driving action. Not to mention the fact that every exposure to your message should be congruent and consistent.

And then the (often unasked) question becomes:
“What am I supposed to be congruent and consistent with, their frame of mind or my message?”
(Hint: you need to do both at once!)

However you get people there, you’ll have done some promoting, connecting, and “pre” exposing (even though it’s all exposure — good, bad, or ugly).

Hopefully that exposure is driving our next component — action!

Action

There are countless actions your web site can generate. Some of those actions, when taken by your visitors, get you closer to your goals. Others take you further from those goals. Knowing the difference leads to focusing on new actions (or new goals).

There are many more actions when people hit your web site than “buy” or “leave”. One exercise I use to get clients clear on this step is to list 50 to 100 actions people could take when exposed to their message (primarily on their web site, but also extending to all other exposure channels they are planning to use). If they don’t automatically get the bonus points by doing it themselves, I’ll often help walk them through the sorting of resulting list by type of visitor or traffic source.

(I wonder how you could use that info to create high converting landing pages, promotions, and content. Hmm…)

What’s that you’re thinking so loudly: “Why list 50-100 actions? I just want them to buy my product or service!”

Every time I run this exercise we come up with smaller actions than the huge the initial exposure direct to sale jump that many people expect from their site. It can be as simple as “continue reading”, or “click on a link to learn more”, or “call for a consult” — but going for the sale straight away is the equivalent of asking for a pre-nup on the first date. “Courting” your prospects with smaller commitments and smaller actions that lead to your larger actions is part of the dance.

Whatever the scale of the commitment, you need exposure to your message to generate some action on the part of the hearer. That leads into our final step — trading.

Trade

Like the action step, trading is more than just collecting money and delivering a product or service — it is about trading value in whatever form.

You may want to start by trading some of your valuable content for their valuable time. Or trading a report for an email address/facebook like/retweet/blog post.

Again, it is valuable to brainstorm what sources of value you have to offer and what value your perfect client would have to offer. When you have that info and your sales stats like the value of an email subscriber and lifetime value of clients, then you can decide how much you are willing to give in return for what it is you want.

Keep in mind, that a “fair” or “even” trade is not a “good” trade in the long run. If the client doesn’t feel like they’ve gotten back 10 to 100 times their “money”, then you are almost certainly hurting future sales and therefore lifetime value of a client.

The easiest sale is the repeat sale, and the easiest repeat sale is to a customer that knows/likes/trusts you, and the easiest way to know/like/trust you is by having such a spectacular return on investment that spending more time/money/resources with you is a no brainer.

So, what happens after you’ve exposed a new prospect to your message, generated an action on their part, and traded value with them — are we done?

Of course not.

Hopefully, as part of that trade, you got contact info so that you can follow up with your new lead/fan/follower/client.
Oh, look — follow up is another exposure and another chance to generate an action leading to a trade.

And the cycle continues!


Now, this post was an exposure in and of itself.
The actions that you must have taken to get here include clicking a link and continuing to read.
And I’ve traded a model that can generate significant ROI in return for your attention.

Let me expose another opportunity for you to take action and get a 10-100x return on your next trade with me.

While many non-retail businesses slow down this time of year, I’m among those who are ramping up and gaining momentum to drive next year into being a spectacular year. If that sounds good to you too, keep reading — you’re in for a treat!

Initially, I was going to offer you my services as contractor — things like building custom WordPress themes, setting up web sites and facebook fan pages, or establishing affiliate programs for a few lucky clients. But I didn’t want to limit people to just the likely tech tasks.

Then I realized that before I did any of those sort of jobs I’d have an initial consult (to establish how best to serve you in exposing your message, generating actions, and facilitating trades). Rather than offering the technical work directly, I’m offering the consult.

Click to reserve your Lightning Coaching/consult session

The more I thought about it the more excited I became — I’m continually amazed at the breakthroughs and clarity that I get in short consults with my existing clients! And that meant I will be able to assist you in unlimited ways — more than just the technical tasks I could generate off the top of my head.

My current price for a single 20 minute “Lightning Coaching” session is $75. I’m not just giving away my time (I have plenty of my own projects to work on), but I know that it’ll feel like it was a “no brainer” once you’ve had your session and start receiving the returns on your time invested.

The best part — we can talk about whatever actions you need to generate in your business. (And since your “personal” life impacts your business we can work on that stuff too — typically without me knowing the details.)

NLP is some powerfully quick “medicine” for mindset and marketing ailments, and 20 minutes is plenty of time to talk through and plan solutions for nearly any technical issue you may have. In either case, if you need further work done outside the 30 minutes, I’ll credit your initial investment in the quote.

Reserve your Lightning Coaching session here

Whatever your technical/mindset needs, I’m here to help.

quickie — $100 for $1 (anti-cyber Monday)

I’m in the middle of composing an epic post that simplifies the whole business world and applies it to your web site. In the meantime, I had to let you know about a time-sensitive deal. (It has nothing to do with ”black Friday”, ”cyber Monday”, or ”arbitrary Tuesday” sales — but does have a deadline in a couple days!)

Marlon’s special video

One of the upstanding pillars of online business, Marlon Sanders, has just posted a video that I think you’ll find profitable. I was going to make something like this myself, but Marlon’s already done a great job and you can get started with it today.

(Even if you ”know” what he talks about, it’ll be a good check to make sure you’re still focusing on the right things.)

Click for Marlon’s special video

P.S. Yes, he’s selling something. If it makes sense, give him a dollar and he’ll give you almost $100 worth of content this week. But only do it if it makes sense for you to earn more right now.

And keep your eyes peeled for my epic post later this week!

Update: Marlon changed his video when he changed his offer. I just updated the link. He’s still got a $1 offer and some good content. Check it out.

Balancing Production and Promotion

One of Marlon Sanders’s key mantras is ”produce and promote.” A wise set of words if ever I heard any.

I’ve been deep in production mode the last few days and have let the promotion aspect slip. Hence, the question: where is the balance between producing and promoting?

When dealing with products the production often happens up front. Physical goods have built-in limits on how much promotion to do because once they are sold there isn’t much point in promoting them more!

Information products are the other end of the spectrum. Produce them once, promote them indefinitely (or at least as long as the information is relevant and/or useful). And with print-on-demand books and the equivalent for CDs and DVDs even the physical version of information products can be sold independent of how many copies you have in your spare bedroom closet.

Services raise an interesting balance between the extremes mentioned so far. The natural tendency is to promote like mad, generate paying gigs, and let the promotion die down while fulfilling the signed contracts. The trouble comes when all the gigs get wrapped up and the cycle starts again.

A better idea is to promote like mad, generate paying gigs, and budget time/money/energy to maintain promotion through the busy periods. This limits the amount of work that can be taken on but those of us with a strong desire to deliver quality work every time can actually use that to our advantage.

The economic rules of supply and demand suggest the solution: when demand is high (from consistent promotion) and supply is low (finite time/money/energy to put towards maintaining quality work) then the price goes up! I’ve heard from a number of copywriters that when they hit that significant busy point in their business that they started raising rates, attempting to turn people away, and extending a waiting list to those who were not turned away easily.

How nice will it be when you’ve got a six month waiting list filled with clients paying two to ten times as much as you’re paid now? How much better when you can do the equivalent with information products and indefinitely feed your service queue with qualified prospects (to extend that waiting list as long and as deep as you desire).

So, how much promotion versus production? It depends on what you’re producing, but almost always more than you’re already doing! I know I’ve turned to the man with the plan, Marlon himself, to learn more about pitching at his 6 week round table. If you move quickly you can still join us for the first official call this Wednesday.