“Whoever wishes to live in sanctity, may he live according to the true laws of commerce and finance.”
Do not seek permission to undertake any Great Enterprise. Let the High Quality of your Work be your True Qualification.
Without something to really strive against few people ever bother to strive. Without something to truly strive for few people ever bother to overcome their lack of striving.
Any problem is soluble if you act upon it properly.
THE ESSENTIAL WORK METHOD
I have been experimenting with a new way of Working that is succeeding quite well. I have narrowed down all of the really important things I do every Work Day plus on my 3 Sabbaths and reduced them to 4 (or less) Essential Items. I therefore get up every day and do these 4 Essential Items every day first thing.
Then, and only after these 4 Essential Items are done do I go on to the rest of my schedule and whatever else I have to do. This assures I do the most Essential things first and foremost without excuse or interruption or interference.
This system has worked out extremely well for me… I highly recommend it. This is my Personal System (below). Of course develop one of your own to cover what is most essential to achieve for you.
DAILY AND WEEKLY ESSENTIAL THINGS
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Site Commenting and Sharing
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Book or Novel or Story Writing – 1000 to 2500 words per day
Start Up Business or Entrepreneurial Projects
Songwriting and Composing and Poetry
Idea and Invention and Investment Generation and Mental Sabbath
Meetings and Networking and Travel and Field Trips
Sharing and Reblogging
Recreation and Psychological Sabbath and Rest
Spiritual Sabbath and Church
Prayer, Study Bible, and Theurgy and Thaumaturgy
Successful people often exude confidence—it’s obvious that they believe in themselves and what they’re doing. It isn’t their success that makes them confident, however. The confidence was there first.
Think about it:
- Doubt breeds doubt. Why would anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself?
- It takes confidence to reach for new challenges. People who are fearful or insecure tend to stay within their comfort zones. But comfort zones rarely expand on their own. That’s why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs and let valuable opportunities pass them by.
- Unconfident people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances. Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place.
No one is stopping you from what you want to accomplish but yourself. It’s time to remove that barrier of self-doubt.
Confidence is a crucial building block in a successful career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never thought possible. With proper guidance and hard work, anyone can become more confident. Once you pass a certain point, you’ll feel it from the inside.
Here are eight bulletproof strategies to get you there.
1. Take an honest look at yourself.
Johnny Unitas said, “There is a difference between conceit and confidence. Conceit is bragging about yourself. Confidence means you believe you can get the job done.” In other words, confidence is earnedthrough hard work, and confident people are self-aware. When your confidence exceeds your abilities, you’ve crossed the line into arrogance. You need to know the difference.
True confidence is firmly planted in reality. To grow your confidence, it’s important to do an honest and accurate self-assessment of your abilities. If there are weaknesses in your skill set, make plans for strengthening these skills and find ways to minimize their negative impact. Ignoring your weaknesses or pretending they’re strengths won’t make them go away. Likewise, having a clear understanding of your strengths enables you to shake off some of the more groundless feedback and criticism you can get in a busy, competitive work environment—and that builds confidence.
2. Say no.
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco showed that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which erode confidence. Confident people know that saying no is healthy, and they have the self-esteem to make their nos clear. When it’s time to say no, confident people avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” They say no with confidence because they know that saying no to a new commitment honors their existing commitments and gives them the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
3. Get right with your boss.
A troubled relationship with the boss can destroy even the most talented person’s confidence. It’s hard to be confident when your boss is constantly criticizing you or undermining your contributions. Try to identify where the relationship went wrong and decide whether there’s anything you can do to get things back on track. If the relationship is truly unsalvageable, it may be time to move on to something else.
Related: 5 Habits of Mentally Tough People
4. Seek out small victories.
Confident people tend to challenge themselves and compete, even when their efforts yield small victories. Small victories build new androgen receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. This increase in androgen receptors increases the influence of testosterone, which further increases your confidence and your eagerness to tackle future challenges. When you have a series of small victories, the boost in your confidence can last for months.
5. Find a mentor.
Nothing builds confidence like a talented, experienced person showing you the way and patting you on the back for a job well done. A good mentor can act as a mirror, giving you the perspective you need to believe in yourself. Knowledge breeds confidence—knowing where you stand helps you focus your energy more effectively. Beyond that, a mentor can help educate you on some of the cultural inner workings of your organization. Knowing the unwritten rules of how to get things done in your workplace is a great confidence booster.
6. Schedule exercise.
A study conducted at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute found that people who exercised twice a week for 10 weeks felt more competent socially, academically, and athletically. They also rated their body image and self-esteem higher. Best of all, rather than the physical changes in their bodies being responsible for the uptick in confidence, it was the immediate, endorphin-fueled positivity from exercise that made all the difference. Schedule your exercise to make certain it happens, and your confidence will stay up.
7. Dress for success.
Like it or not, how we dress has a huge effect on how people see us. Things like the color, cut, and style of the clothes we wear—and even our accessories—communicate loudly. But the way we dress also affects how we see ourselves. Studies have shown that people speak differently when they’re dressed up compared to when they’re dressed casually. To boost your confidence, dress well. Choose clothing that reflects who you are and the image you want to project, even if that means spending more time at the mall and more time getting ready in the morning.
8. Be assertive, not aggressive.
Aggressiveness isn’t confidence; it’s bullying. And when you’re insecure, it’s easy to slip into aggressiveness without intending to. Practice asserting yourself without getting aggressive (and trampling over someone else in the process). You won’t be able to achieve this until you learn how to keep your insecurities at bay, and this will increase your confidence.
Bringing it all together
Your confidence is your own to develop or undermine. Confidence is based on reality. It’s the steadfast knowledge that goes beyond simply “hoping for the best.” It ensures that you’ll get the job done—that’s the power of true confidence.
THE BOOK OF PLANS
Not that I don’t think this process would yield valuable results, especially the fact that he reviews books while his heart rate is up, etc. (his data absorption process) but my information preparation and absorption process is extremely simple by comparison.
I simply take a book, go through it as he said early in the video and highlight everything that is useful and practically applicable. Then I distill each highlighted chapter or section or paragraph or item into a single sentence which contains an actionable premise or instruction set. In this way I can distill a single book down to a Single Plan of perhaps 8 to 12 Actionable Points (sometimes also containing some side-notes explaining the most relevant new information). I also tend to place each plan in Chronological Order so that each plan can always be followed in the most logically progressive manner. See this entry for more detail on what I mean: 8 to 12 Point Plan.
In this way, over the years, I have created literally hundreds of Plans of various types of information, processes, and actions (derived both from my own experiences and from information obtained from books and other sources) which when they are all combined together in a single source I call my Book of Plans. (Again, as I have aged I have become far more interested in how information can be practically and usefully and profitably applied than in “information” as a principal or principle or component in and of itself.
I also sub-divide my Book of Plans into chapters relevant to what most interests me in a given Field. For instance I have chapters on Business, Art, Invention, Technology, Science, Religion, Exploration, etc. and each chapter may have 30 pages (or more or less depending on the subject matter) of plans in it with each page being a separate plan on a particular subject.
That is my method. It is simple, fast, data-targeted, actionable, inexpensive, and when necessary it is extremely easy to review each plan in order to follow my Plans or to pick back up again from where I had previously left off operations.
You may live as the King Fish in a small pond for as long as you wish but one thing you will never do is cause the pond to grow any larger. Therefore if you would truly reach your real mass you must swim for the sea.
IN NEED OF
I am in immediate need of the following things:
- BETA READERS for my fictional writings and novels and (if you wish) the poetry and songs that I intend to publish. I want only brutally honest opinions, and I want a wide range of readers/reader-types. (There will be no pay but I will exchange favors and see to it that you are provided with free copies of the finished works). Confidentiality regarding my writings will be expected of course, and I will restrict my beta readers to maybe 6 to 8 people, but I will treat you right.
- A good, decent, hard-working, and ambitious LITERARY AGENT (to match myself).
- An EMPLOYEE TEAM for my start-ups. (People to run the businesses, handle marketing, and run day to day operations while I and my partners handle funding and investors, etc.) More on that later.
- A TEAM OF BUSINESS BUILDERS/DEVELOPERS AND INVESTORS (start-ups primarily but we may also handle brokerage and turn-arounds on rare occasions) to be put together to found and profit from new business ventures. More on that soon.
- PARTNERS to work with me on developing and designing (CAD and prototype designs) my inventions and app designs.
- GAME DESIGN PARTNERS who can take the games I’ve designed and/or written and either build physical products out of them or in the case of computer and video games program basic builds that we can use to pitch to game studios.
A brief word of explanation on the above:
Beta Readers – I tend to write my fictional works, short stories, and novels in the following genres: children’s stories, detective and mysteries, espionage, fantasy and myth, historical fiction, horror, and science fiction. My current novel is a high fantasy/myth about Prester John and the Byzantine Empire. I tend to insert a lot of historical and literary references into most of my works. I would not expect my Beta Readers to provide me with detailed critiques or edits, though if you wished to do so that’s up to you. I’m really just looking for basic opinions and do you like the plot, stories, works, etc., and do you have any advice for improvements? As I said I’m open to favor exchanges and free copies of my works.
Also, when it comes to my songs I write the lyrics but I have no real time right now for composing. If you are a composer or lyricist and you wish to enter into a song-writing partnership with me then we will split the credits and your contributions and shares of any successful songs will be protected by contract.
Literary Agent – I want a literary agent with a wide range of interests and one with whom I can develop both a professional relationship and a personal friendship. (I much prefer doing business with people I enjoy.) I want a literary agent who is ambitious, as I am, and one who can help me make my writings successful so that we may both profit handsomely.
Employee Team – more on this later but I’m looking for a good employee team as well as a strong, tight, efficient, and profitable team of administrators, managers, and officers.
Business Builder/Investor/Investment Team – more on this later but I need good people from all areas/sections of the country, and possibly members from outside the US, who can look realistically at start-ups and help develop and fund them into successful enterprises. Backgrounds in brokerage, business building and development, communications, entrepreneurship, investment, and deal-making most desired. But we can also look at other backgrounds. Realistically risk will be high, and loss always possible, but profits should be considerable on successful ventures. This will be both a business creation and development and investment team, sort of like an Investment Club but with a far wider range of interests and with more hands on developmental involvement.
Invention Partners – partners in design and prototyping and product development. We’ll start out with my inventions and maybe yours as well and possibly graduate to taking stakes in other inventions and related businesses if the idea seems solid and viable.
Game Design Partners – people who can take my game designs, and your own, and build programs or physical products out of them. Depending on how much you contribute we’ll take profit shares on sales of the games, regardless of whether it is by the game or we sell the designs outright. As with the inventions your work will always be attributed in the design and protected as a share of profit by contract.
Finally you should know that in working with me my very basic and fundamental Worldview is that I am a Christian by religion, spirituality, philosophy, and nature, a Conservative (with some strong Libertarian leanings) in cultural and political and social matters, and a Capitalist when it comes to economics and monetary affairs.
Therefore I am a disciple and proponent of the teachings of Christ (Truth, Justice, Personal Honor, Honesty, and Fair Treatment of all based on individual behavior are extremely important to me, and I tend to like Charity and Philanthropy), God is my mentor and my best friend, I am Conservative in nature and very much believe in Hard Work and Personal Effort and Individual Initiative and Self-Discipline, and I am pro-Business, Development, Entrepreneurship, and Wealth. I also like to see people exploit their own talents and benefit and profit thereby. I set extremely high goals for both myself and others, and I expect much, but think I am fair and just to work with. I do discriminate and unapologetically so, but not regarding matters of background, class, race, or sex. I only discriminate between good and bad behavior, and between industry and laziness. As a boss or partner I will not long endure intentionally bad or destructive or self-destructive or foolish or apathetic behavior. I am not at all bothered by failure if you seek to improve and advance the next time.
If that all sounds fine by you and you are interested in any of these ventures then please contact me via email or by my Facebook or Linked-In pages or through my blogs or other webpages. We’ll begin Work.
Start Blogging, Start a Business, and Build an Authentic Brand
This is part of the Abstract and Introduction I wrote for a paper for the DHS on PIINs, a concept of my own. I am writing a much lengthier essay/paper (perhaps even a small book) on the same subject which will include information on how to form PIINs of various kinds and in different industries using the same basic techniques and procedures and networks.
I use these same principles in the development of all of my PIINs regardless or industry or purpose. Although each PIIN is modified to service the particular requirements of how it is constructed and what exact purpose it serves.
Although this is a little out of order for my publishing schedule I offer this post up as my Business of Business post this week.
First of all, let me summarize the nature of the PIIN. The Personal (or Private) Intelligence and Investigative Network, like all networks is almost entirely dependent upon a series of established contact points. This is both the strength of the PIIN and the inherent weakness thereof. Therefore it is imperative that high-quality and functionally useful, as well as accurate and practical contact points be created, assessed and reassessed, and maintained over time. This is true whether the contact point is physical, biological, communicative, informational, electronic, technological, or computational. Every asset is a tool and the quality and functionality of those tools are the essential elements in the creation, maintenance, and performance of your PIIN. The Value of any Network is circumscribed by the acute and chronic qualities of those components, which within themselves compose the actual circumference, and separate elements of that real network. If the components of the network are of inferior grade, if the contacts are defectively impositional or of little practical use, or if the contact points are weak or insecure then the entire network is suspect and prone to failure at any and every point of transmission. The PIIN therefore should avoid both obvious and subtle deficits at all times by being practically and pragmatically useful, flexible, adaptable, in a state of constant positive growth and change, accessible, composed of superior components and contact points, secure, and most of all accurate and reliable.
Each and every network is therefore dependent upon the depth and breadth of the human contacts established interior to and exterior to that particular network and subject to the limitations of accuracy and the quality and quantity of valuable information that network can generate. The first real action needed to establish any PIIN and to make it fully functional is the recruitment, development, and maintenance of quality contacts. Contacts are always of the most absolute importance in the establishment of any PIIN. In addition the nature and quality of those contacts should be viewed as central and formative to the capabilities of every other contact point in the configuration and to the network as a whole. After an initial establishment of contacts those contacts should be immediately vetted and/or tested for accuracy and quality. This process of discrimination should be both an immediate tactical and testable undertaking and a long-term strategic process of recurring verification and reverification. Do not expect any particular source to be always accurate, but do not allow any particular source to function in an important role unless it has proven itself capable of both consistent reliability and trustworthiness.
After establishing a few reliable and trustworthy contact points the network must grow in order to gain new sources of information and intelligence as well as to develop and generate new capabilities. Therefore always view already established contacts and contact points as generators of new contacts, informants, intelligence and perhaps even secondary and tertiary networks, or sub-networks. Consider as well every potentially useful new contact or acquaintance as a possible future contact point in your greater network. Contact points should also be capable of redundancy and potential verification of information and intelligence gathered from other points along the nexus and for information gathered from sources outside the network. This is to say that contact points are more than simple sources of information; they will also function as multi-capable nodes along the operational structure of the entire network. I will expound upon the importance of and briefly discuss some of the details regarding contact points later in this paper. For now it is important to remember that contacts and sources provide information and possibly intelligence, but contact points can potentially serve many varied functions, such as; information retrieval, intelligence gathering, analysis, communications, coding, encryption, decoding/decryption, collation, research, as reliable and secure relay points, as information nodes, computational capabilities, disinformation and misinformation dissemination, and even serve as a sort of network disguise, and misdirectional cover or front.
Constantly look for, search out and develop new contacts, contact points, information and intelligence sources, and informants in order to successfully grow your network. Your network’s ultimate effectiveness will depend upon both the quality and quantity of your contacts, contact points, and your contact’s network. In the initial stages of building and developing your network concentrate on the quality of your contacts and contact points, but in the larger and long term concentrate upon both the quality and quantity of those contacts and contact points which comprise the elements of your network. Always develop and maintain quality to the greatest degree possible within all elements of your network, but also always grow and encourage quantity in the most consistent manner possible throughout all aspects of your network. This will assure that your network has both great depth and breadth and that it is capable of the widest and most valuable range of flexible and functional capacities possible.
It does not matter what the major focus of your network is, what it is most well designed to do, what it in actuality best does, or what the functional intent(s) or objective(s) may be, this introductory advice applies equally well to any possible network you might desire to establish in any field of activity or enterprise. The PIIN is a potentially invaluable tool for both the amateur and professional alike, for both citizen and official agent, and no matter the function or objective, the real capabilities of any established PIIN will be determined by the inventiveness, innovation, flexibility, enterprise, imagination and quality of the component parts of the network. And those component parts are composed and arranged by the originator of the network, that individual who is responsible for first establishing the nature and parameters of the own individual PIIN. The originator therefore will establish the genesis of the network and how well it grows and develops in the initial stages, but as the network grows it will develop capabilities never earlier imagined by the originator and will eventually become functional in an almost independent sense, as long as quality contacts and sources are developed and as long as those contacts and sources continue to grow and establish new capabilities and contacts of their own. A PIIN begins therefore as an idea and individual construct but over time develops into an almost biological organization of vast complexity and capacity. Drawing upon the collective skills and capabilities of the PIIN for whatever is desired or needed makes the PIIN a worthwhile and profitable venture for all individuals associated with that network, and because of the potential for continued and even exponential growth the PIIN is an extremely advantageous system of achieving complex objectives rapidly and of multiplying capabilities well beyond the individual level.
Because of the limitations of space regarding this essay I cannot describe all of the potential advantages that would possibly be gained by the formation of individual PIINs, either those advantages that would be enjoyed by agents or officers in the service of some official organization, or those advantages that would be enjoyed by citizens who have formed and are employing their own personal PIIN. But the potential advantages would be numerous, and such networks could beneficially overlap, inform, and service each other in times of national emergency or crisis. More importantly, if such networks were allowed to “cluster” and interact/interface in an efficient, secure, and positive manner then they would serve as invaluable intelligence gathering and investigative tools for the anticipation of disaster and the effective prevention and thwarting of many forms of malicious harm intended by the enemies of the United States.
As just one small example of how PIINs would make highly effective and useful tools for the benefit of both the citizenry and the government let me outline this scenario. A hostile entity decides upon a coordinated and simultaneous cyber-attack against both the American civil government and the Pentagon. These attacks overwhelm official servers who are the obvious targets of offensive action. During such periods of particular and isolated cyber attack against governmental and/or military networks, or even during periods of general and on-going netcentric engagement or warfare the PIIN can act as an emergency secondary or redundancy system of information and communications exchange, intelligence gathering, an investigative force as to who is attacking, why, from where, and how, and for coordinating a necessary and effective counteraction or response. While main systems are under attack, disabled, or malfunctioning PIINs can serve as ancillary and even secretive means of continuing vital operations or responding to attack. It is relatively easy to attack and at least temporarily paralyze large-scale and centralized networks efficiently given the proper time, coordination, planning, resources, incentives, and information on system vulnerabilities, but it would be nearly impossible to simultaneously disable all small-scale private and personal networks. PIINs are the private enterprise of innovative intelligence and investigative networks.
Other examples of the potential usefulness of the PIIN are easy enough to construct, such as creating and fostering “bridging links” between individual citizens, law enforcement agencies, governmental entities, and the military. PIINs can also be used as investigative networks and resources, as research hubs, as communication nodes, as a pool of expertise (both amateur and professional), as an emergency system of collective and clustered capability, as a functional and ever growing database of information, as an ancillary or auxiliary analytical network, and as an exchange for valuable contacts, sources, and useful informants. Perhaps just as important to the overall value-added aspect of the usefulness of the PIIN is the fact that most PIINs can be constructed at little to no cost using already available personal, technological, and organizational resources. It is simply a matter of redirecting already available resources to the construction and maintenance of the PIIN, or of simply reformatting the way in which contemporary networks are thought of and how they currently operate, or fail to operate, effectively.
The next administration would do very well to consider encouraging the development of Private and Personal Intelligence and Investigative Networks throughout our society, and to encouraging the exploitation of such networks for the benefit of all the citizens of the United States of America.
A very interesting perspective and one I agree with to a large extent. Actually I think one should set out to create a Brand – with a certain type of Vision, and adapt accordingly as one meets particular circumstances in and through the world. (Which is basically what he says later in the article.)
In other words one begins with a Vision and then discovers and develops as one goes along. It is not either/or, but both…
Writer & Consultant
April 15, 2015
Over $500 billion is spent on advertising each year. The average American is exposed to an estimated 3,000 ads per day. Fifteen minutes out of every hour of television programming is devoted to commercials.
Branding: 2 Key Lessons in Brand Building
That’s a lot of marketing. And a lot of marketers. With six million companies in the United States alone, that’s a lot of people competing to get their message out. How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you get noticed?
This is where branding comes in.
What is branding?
Branding is the art of distinguishing a product or service from its competitors. It’s the term for creating a recognizable “personality” which people will remember and react to.
A company with poor branding is throwing away marketing dollars. Why? Because without a focused message, companies weak in branding are invisible. Nobody remembers them and they blend in. They become just another leaf swirling in the wind, amid all those marketing messages consumers see each day.
In marketing, the point is to actually reach someone, to connect. The way to do this is by focusing attention, not dispersing it.
Discovering your brand
Too often, people try to “dream up” a brand for their company. However, a brand isn’t something you dream up — it’s something you discover. Specifically, it’s something you have to discover about yourself.
True branding must be based solely on the mission and culture of the organization. When people try to create branding separate from the company itself, the result may be pretentious, clichéd or ambiguous marketing. It waters down the company’s message.
Instead, a brand should reflect the company’s business plan, its mission and values. It has to be authentic. Therefore, when you brand a company (or anything else for that matter), you’re trying to capture its core identity. You have to look past the clutter and opinion and distill its true essence. This is what you convey to consumers — your brand. And your fonts, your design, your writing — all aspects of your marketing — should all align with that central concept. Now, you have focus. Now, you have penetration, because you’ve conveyed your company’s identity by first discovering yourself.
Related: The Basics of Branding
The ingredients of a brand
While there is probably no foolproof formula for discovering a company’s brand, there are pathways to accomplish that. Consider the following points the “ingredients” that go into making an authentic brand:
Company mission. This is the most important element of branding. Your mission is the spirit of your company, it’s the beating heart of what you do. In fact, your brand can be thought of as the outward expression of your company’s internal mission. Think of it this way: Why does your organization exist? What is it there for? You have assets, employees, vendors, relationships and internal systems. . . but why?
Values. What’s important to your company? What do you stand for? Every company has certain ideals that define what it is and does. These ideals could be environmental, social or ethical or could be standards of quality Whatever your company’s values are, they’re the very center of why you’re unique and are a crucial part of your brand.
Culture. Each company in the world has its own ethos — a particular style or panache. Whatever you call yours, embrace it. There may be a million competitors in your market space, but there’s only one you. Your company’s group culture is part of the fabric of who you are.
History. Your history tells a lot about you. Look to the company’s founders to help define your identity today. What were their values? What were they trying to accomplish? Every company came from somewhere. Your roots are an integral part of your company’s brand.
Plans. When you look at your next 10 years, where do you see yourself going? Your business plan and marketing strategy both influence how you present yourself and should be included in your branding. If you’re going after an entry-level market segment, don’t position yourself as a luxury brand. Your brand must encompass your real-world objectives.
Consumers. This is really what it’s all about. Your customers are the reason you exist. What are their needs? What do they think? Understanding your customers is a vital part of branding. Because if you don’t know whom you’re talking to, why bother to say anything at all?
It might take a bit of soul-searching to get at the essence of what makes your company special. The trick is to take a clear-eyed look and see what’s actually there. Because every brand is beautiful, every brand is inspiring.
Each just has to be discovered.
Had a superb idea for a new on-line business venture (start-up) called Unfinished Projects. I’m going to be approaching some potential partners with the idea later this week.
At this point I am merely creating the design sketches and outline for the business, but in a relatively short period of time I could easily develop both business and operating plans.
The modern men of the West rarely lack for sustenance of the body. What they most lack is substance of the Soul.
What they are most in need of is True Courage and Virtue. What they most hunger for, without even being aware of it, is Real Manhood.
If the modern man of the West were regularly fed Real Manhood, or even far better, if he could habitually grow his own, then the benefit to himself, and the profit to the entire World would be incalculable.
I think this is an absolutely superb idea, especially for small businesses. I wish I had thought of this product.
Space-efficient work spaces are becoming all the rage these days. They’re great for maintaining privacy and uninterrupted workflow, and they can also be cozy and stylish as well. Here are some examples of a growing trend of miniature studios (for offices and living structures), that are small enough to fit in someone’s back yard.
We’re fond of calling them, shedquarters. Whether you need your own getaway space, an office, an art studio, or a full on extra home, there’s something for everyone out there!
Kanga Room: Based out of Austin, Texas, Kanga Room has backyard studios in three styles: modern, country cottage, and bungalow. The basic package is an 8×8-foot shed that starts around $5,900 and you can add on a bathroom, kitchenette, and front porch for additional cost.
Modern Shed: This Seattle-based company was founded by husband and wife, Ryan Grey Smith and Ahna Holder. They create flat-packed prefab structures. Basic 8×10 sheds start at $6,900.
Weehouse by Alchemy Architects: The Weehouse Studio was designed by Minnesota’s Alchemy Architects. They start at 435 square feet, and include a main room and bathroom. It can be used as either a home office, guest house, or even a main residence.
KitHaus: The KitHause was designed by Tom Sandonato and Martin Wehmann. It is a modular site-constructed prefab housing system. The K-Pod is the starting model and measures 117 square feet. They also have larger models.
Modern Spaces: “Forts for grown-ups!” Yep, that’s how they describe them. These come in four pretty boxy styles. A fully installed shed with a foundation and finished exterior starts at $6,000. On-site installation is currently only available to California residents.
Loftcube: Werner Aisslinger designed these sheds to make the extra space on top of city skyscrapers more productive. He was able to fit a kitchen and bathroom within these 400 square foot glass-walled studios.
Modern Cabana: The sheds from this San Francisco company start at 10×12 feet, but they have full studios with kitchens and baths. The basic model is perfect for a backyard office, with its sliding door.
Metroshed: The MetroShed, by David Ballinger, is a prefab, flat-packed model that starts around $6,000. This a simple design is made of a cedar wood beam post frame with aluminum-frame sliding doors, and comes in 9×13 feet or larger.
Via Metro Prefab
Via Metro Prefab
Related article: ‘Pub-Sheds’ Quickly Becoming Hot Trend in Backyard Entertainment
I can attest, from personal experience, both the powerful bias effects of some of these items listed below, and to their disastrous effects on the behavior and psychology of certain people…
In my experience, as well, not all of these biases are equally dangerous or even problematic, but they can all be barriers to success at one time, or in one set of circumstances, or another, if you allow them to be.
Especially when such biases become habitual and completely unexamined. Bias is bad when it comes to critical and acute assessment, but it can also be catastrophic when habitual and stubborn.
We like to think we’re rational human beings.
In fact, we are prone to hundreds of proven biases that cause us to think and act irrationally, and even thinking we’re rational despite evidence of irrationality in others is known as blind spot bias.
The study of how often human beings do irrational things was enough for psychologists Daniel Kahneman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, and it opened the rapidly expanding field of behavioral economics. Similar insights are also reshaping everything from marketing to criminology.
Hoping to clue you — and ourselves — into the biases that frame our decisions, we’ve collected a long list of the most notable ones.
People are overreliant on the first piece of information they hear.
In a salary negotiation, for instance, whoever makes the first offer establishes a range of reasonable possibilities in each person’s mind. Any counteroffer will naturally react to or be anchored by that opening offer.
“Most people come with the very strong belief they should never make an opening offer,” says Leigh Thompson, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Our research and lots of corroborating research shows that’s completely backwards. The guy or gal who makes a first offer is better off.”
We tend to listen only to the information that confirms our preconceptions — one of the many reasons it’s so hard to have an intelligent conversation about climate change.
A cousin of confirmation bias, here our expectations unconsciously influence how we perceive an outcome. Researchers looking for a certain result in an experiment, for example, may inadvertently manipulate or interpret the results to reveal their expectations. That’s why the “double-blind” experimental design was created for the field of scientific research.
Bias blind spots
Failing to recognize your cognitive biases is a bias in itself.
Notably, Princeton psychologist Emily Pronin has found that “individuals see the existence and operation of cognitive and motivational biases much more in others than in themselves.”
This is the tendency to see patterns in random events. It is central to various gambling fallacies, like the idea that red is more or less likely to turn up on a roulette table after a string of reds.
Where people believe prior evidence more than new evidence or information that has emerged. People were slow to accept the fact that the Earth was round because they maintained their earlier understanding the planet was flat.
This is the tendency of people to conform with other people. It is so powerful that it may lead people to do ridiculous things, as shown by the following experiment by Solomon Asch.
Ask one subject and several fake subjects (who are really working with the experimenter) which of lines B, C, D, and E is the same length as A? If all of the fake subjects say that D is the same length as A, the real subject will agree with this objectively false answer a shocking three-quarters of the time.
“That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern,” Asch wrote. “It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.”
Curse of knowledge
When people who are more well-informed cannot understand the common man. For instance, in the TV show “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s difficult for scientist Sheldon Cooper to understand his waitress neighbor Penny.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A phenomenon in marketing where consumers have a specific change in preference between two choices after being presented with a third choice. Offer two sizes of soda and people may choose the smaller one; but offer a third even larger size, and people may choose what is now the medium option.
People are less likely to spend large bills than their equivalent value in small bills or coins.
When the duration of an event doesn’t factor enough into the way we consider it. For instance, we remember momentary pain just as strongly as long-term pain.
When people overestimate the importance of information that is available to them.
For instance, a person might argue that smoking is not unhealthy on the basis that his grandfather lived to 100 and smoked three packs a day, an argument that ignores the possibility that his grandfather was an outlier.
Where people in one state of mind fail to understand people in another state of mind. If you are happy you can’t imagine why people would be unhappy. When you are not sexually aroused, you can’t understand how you act when you are sexually aroused.
Fundamental attribution error
This is where you attribute a person’s behavior to an intrinsic quality of her identity rather than the situation she’s in. For instance, you might think your colleague is an angry person, when she is really just upset because she stubbed her toe.
Where we take one positive attribute of someone and associate it with everything else about that person or thing.
People tend to flock together, especially in difficult or uncertain times.
Of course Apple and Google would become the two most important companies in phones — tell that to Nokia, circa 2003.
Tony Manfred/Business Insider
The tendency for people to want an immediate payoff rather than a larger gain later on.
Where an idea causes you to have an unconscious physical reaction, like a sad thought that makes your eyes tear up. This is also how Ouija boards seem to have minds of their own.
Illusion of control
The tendency to seek information when it does not affect action. More information is not always better. Indeed, with less information, people can often make more accurate predictions.
We view people in our group differently from how see we someone in another group.
When people make irrational decisions based on past rational decisions. It may happen in an auction, when a bidding war spurs two bidders to offer more than they would other be willing to pay.
The tendency to put more emphasis on negative experiences rather than positive ones. People with this bias feel that “bad is stronger than good” and will perceive threats more than opportunities in a given situation.
Psychologists argue it’s an evolutionary adaptation — it’s better to mistake a rock for a bear than a bear for a rock.
Speaker Pelosi via Flickr
The tendency to prefer inaction to action, in ourselves and even in politics.
Psychologist Art Markman gave a great example back in 2010:
The omission bias creeps into our judgment calls on domestic arguments, work mishaps, and even national policy discussions. In March, President Obama pushed Congress to enact sweeping health care reforms. Republicans hope that voters will blame Democrats for any problems that arise after the law is enacted. But since there were problems with health care already, can they really expect that future outcomes will be blamed on Democrats, who passed new laws, rather than Republicans, who opposed them? Yes, they can—the omission bias is on their side.
The decision to ignore dangerous or negative information by “burying” one’s head in the sand, like an ostrich.
Judging a decision based on the outcome — rather than how exactly the decision was made in the moment. Just because you won a lot at Vegas, doesn’t mean gambling your money was a smart decision.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Some of us are too confident about our abilities, and this causes us to take greater risks in our daily lives.
When we believe the world is a better place than it is, we aren’t prepared for the danger and violence we may encounter. The inability to accept the full breadth of human nature leaves us vulnerable.
This is the opposite of the overoptimism bias. Pessimists over-weigh negative consequences with their own and others’ actions.
Where believing that something is happening helps cause it to happen. This is a basic principle of stock market cycles, as well as a supporting feature of medical treatment in general.
Alex Davies / Business Insider
Making ourselves believe that a purchase was worth the value after the fact.
Priming is where if you’re introduced to an idea, you’ll more readily identify related ideas.
Let’s take an experiment as an example, again from Less Wrong:
Suppose you ask subjects to press one button if a string of letters forms a word, and another button if the string does not form a word. (E.g., “banack” vs. “banner”.) Then you show them the string “water”. Later, they will more quickly identify the string “drink” as a word. This is known as “cognitive priming”
Priming also reveals the massive parallelism of spreading activation: if seeing “water” activates the word “drink”, it probably also activates “river”, or “cup”, or “splash”
Daniel Goodman / Business Insider
When a proponent of an innovation tends to overvalue its usefulness and undervalue its limitations. Sound familiar, Silicon Valley?
The desire to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do, in order to prove your freedom of choice.
The tendency to weigh the latest information more heavily than older data.
People take action in response to extreme situations. Then when the situations become less extreme, they take credit for causing the change, when a more likely explanation is that the situation was reverting to the mean.
Overestimating one’s ability to show restraint in the face of temptation.
This is where your willingness to pay for something doesn’t correlate with the scale of the outcome.
From Less Wrong:
Once upon a time, three groups of subjects were asked how much they would pay to save 2,000 / 20,000 / 200,000 migrating birds from drowning in uncovered oil ponds. The groups respectively answered $80, $78, and $88. This is scope insensitivity or scope neglect: the number of birds saved — the scope of the altruistic action — had little effect on willingness to pay.
Self-enhancing transmission bias
Boonsri Dickinson, Business Insider
Everyone shares their successes more than their failures. This leads to a false perception of reality and inability to accurately assess situations.
Status quo bias
Expecting a group or person to have certain qualities without having real information about the individual. This explains the snap judgments Malcolm Gladwell refers to in “Blink.” While there may be some value to stereotyping, people tend to overuse it.
An error that comes from focusing only on surviving examples, causing us to misjudge a situation. For instance, we might think that being an entrepreneur is easy because we haven’t heard of all of the entrepreneurs who have failed.
It can also cause us to assume that survivors are inordinately better than failures, without regard for the importance of luck or other factors.
Tragedy of the commons
We overuse common resources because it’s not in any individual’s interest to conserve them. This explains the overuse of natural resources, opportunism, and any acts of self-interest over collective interest.
This plays to our desire to have complete control over a single, more minor outcome, over the desire for more — but not complete — control over a greater, more unpredictable outcome.
THE 20/88 PLAN
Today is the first official day of my Spring Offensive. I had planned to begin yesterday but a back injury prevented my proceeding.
In conjunction with my Spring Offensive I have developed a new Operational Plan for further building both my Businesses (including my inventions) and Careers (as a fiction writer, songwriter, and poet).
The new plan is what I call the 20/88 Plan.
It covers most all of my efforts during my current Spring Offensive. It is very simple in construction and should be simple in execution, though it might also possibly be somewhat time-consuming in execution, at least to an extent, depending on how events actually transpire.
I developed this plan as a result of my experience as a Contacts Broker and a Consultant. Basically it says this,
“Every month I will submit to 20 potential Agents or Contacts who will be able to help me achieve my ambitions. At the same time I will seek 8 Partners to work with me on various projects.”
Since I am basically pursuing Four Basic Fields of Endeavor, or Four Separate Types of Enterprises for my Spring Offensive that will equal twenty agents, new clients, etc. in each field, and two partners for each enterprise.
Four times twenty in each Field of Endeavor equals 80, plus the overall eight partners (two in each Enterprise) equals eight, and added all together equals 88.
Therefore 20 in each Field plus 8 partners equals 88.
If in the first month I fail to secure at least one agent or client or so forth in any given Field of Endeavour or at least one partner in any given Enterprise then I will just move on to the next list of 20 or 2 that I have prepared until I secure worthwhile, productive, and profitable agents or partners.
These are the actual details of my Current 20/88 Plan.
General Fields of Endeavor:
20 Agents Contacted (for my Writings)
20 Publishers Contacted (for my Poetry, Songs, and Writings)
20 New Clients Contacted (for my Business Enterprises and for Open Door)
20 Capital Partners and Investors Contacted (for my Business Enterprises, my Crowdfunding Projects, and my Design and Inventions Laboratory)
2 Songwriting Partners (composers primarily, since I am primarily a lyricist)
2 Publishing Partners (for my books and writings)
2 Business Partners
2 Major Capital or Investment Partners
At this point in my Business Career I am moving more and more back into the fields of Brokerage, primary Contacts Brokering, and Consulting.
Yes, I will still engage in Business and Copy Writing, especially as regards producing my own books and works. I will also still occasionally engage in Business and Copy Writing for some clients, old and new, if the project is interesting and profitable enough.
But more and more lately I feel myself being drawn back into the worlds of Brokerage and Consulting. The same for my company, Open Door.
So my new business emphases will lean more and more heavily towards Contacts Brokerage and towards Consulting, specifically with an aim towards Strategic Business Planning and Growth and Development.
Those will once again be my primary Business Markets.
In addition I will still be pursuing my Careers as an inventor, a fiction writer, and a songwriter.
Contact me if you are interested in pursuing projects of this type.
Wise advice when referring to such enterprises.
In my opinion references are not only a two way street, they are a multi-lane overpass leading in so many possible directions that you never know where the road might eventually end. If it does end.
References should be looked upon the same way you look upon clients and employees, as Human Capital.
I have to admit that if I were Valiant comics, and given Valiant’s roster of characters, having a Chinese entertainment company as a capital and marketing/production partner would probably seem like a near ideal arrangement.
Fear not: There will be no shortage of comic-book movies in years to come, even if DC and Marvel give up on constantly rebooting Batman and Spider-Man. The independent comic-book publisher Valiant Entertainment has secured an eight-figure equity investment from Beijing-based DMG Entertainment, plus an additional nine figures for the production of film and TV projects. The publisher has a library of 2,000 characters, including X-O Manowar and Harbinger, and films based on the titles Bloodshot, Shadowman, and Archer & Armstrong were already in the works. Valiant says its partnership with DMG — which co-produced and co-financed Iron Man 3 — will allow it to “begin to establish its cinematic universe in the United States, China and beyond.”
The two companies plan to develop more superhero films for simultaneous release in the U.S. and China, and to expand Valiant’s Asian audience via Chinese-language publishing, animation, online games, merchandise, and theme parks.
“Audiences in China and the rest of the world are hungry for heroic stories that they can more easily relate to … and with the international box office accounting for the biggest piece of the total gross, the time is right for a truly international superhero franchise,” said DMG President Wu Bing in a press release. “DMG will bring its unique global perspective to the task of transforming the Valiant Universe into the first international comic-movie universe.”
For the rest of this week I will not be posting any original content to this blog or any of my blogs. Recently, due to my work schedule and other obligations, I have had very little time to work on the overall construction and the technical aspects of my blog(s). I had planned to complete those aspects of my blogs long ago but other things kept interfering.
So this week I have decided to spend the entire week finishing my originally conceived construction-plans of my blogs to make it easier for new business partners, business writers, inventors, investors, manufacturers, and venture capitalists to find me and to communicate and work with me.
To that end I will spend the rest of the week finishing my original plans and retooling this site.
As I said, as it stands now I plan to add no more original content this week so as to finally finish my original designs without interruption or any more delays.
However you can still find a great deal of useful content in the various Categories already present on this blog, and on the Categories of all of my other blogs. Just pick the categories that interest you and browse at will. Uncategorized will allow you to find everything.
I will also be sharing useful articles, content, and posts I find on other sites as I run across them and time allows. But most of my time this week will be spent on blog development.
Thank you for being a Reader and Follower of my blogs, I appreciate your patronage and hope you find my blogs enjoyable, entertaining, and most especially, useful.
How to Build Credibility as a Young Entrepreneur
Selena Rezvani , Contributor
Any entrepreneur will tell you that startup life is not for the easily daunted. Rejection, product failures, and isolation are just a few of the tests that many entrepreneurs are put through on a routine basis. Add youth and inexperience to the list of things working against you—and you can see how a startup can seem like nothing but a harsh, uphill endeavor. Luckily, entrepreneurs tend to be more optimistic than other workers, a factor that keeps them pitching to prospects and looking for ways to prove their value.
As I gather my thoughts for a panel tomorrow on how to build credibility as a young entrepreneur, I’ve been reflecting on what has helped my partners and clients say “Yes” to the diversity consulting and training pitches I’ve put in front of them over the last five years. Mind you, even if it’s not your age that presents a credibility issue, some other factor (industry experience, knowledge of a certain product type, geographic reach) may put you or your business in an ‘underdog’ position.
Here are my top strategies for proving your worth, regardless of your age, experience level or other factors you’re being judged on:
Identify What’s Sacred To Your Customer: What quickens the pulse of the group you’re pitching to? What most excites them or eludes them regardless of their efforts? In my case, a focus on amassing lots of cutting-edge inclusion best practices and focusing on Gen X and Y women helped turn pitch meetings into signed contracts. Additionally, tying innovation payoffs to diversity efforts more often than not grabbed clients’ interest. Still, what ‘did the trick’ last year for many entrepreneurs won’t necessarily pay off now. Who can inform you about what this group cares about most now? What groups and discussions are they participating in on LinkedIn? What types of events or publications do they promote and with what angle?
Don’t Wait To Go After Whales: As a new entrepreneur, I pitched to top business programs around the nation to train their students on the lessons in my first book, The Next Generation of Women Leaders. Plenty of deans and career offices didn’t respond. But thanks to casting a big net, plenty of people said “Yes.” To my sheer delight—and admittedly, terror—the first client to invite me to speak was Harvard University. That wonderful opportunity served as an instrumental “door opener” for future pitches, helping me get into Princeton, London Business School, Duke and inside many large organizations. As a new entity, many people will advise you to start small or go after the “low hanging fruit.” Don’t. Aim high.
Borrow Credibility Where Needed: Many a deal has been closed thanks to a warm introduction being made early on. When a trusted professional enthusiastically introduces you to a corporate insider, you’re getting an endorsement, and therefore a chance, that others won’t. Even if you don’t have deep relationships inside the company, go through the exercise of asking yourself who in your network could act as a strategic partner or co-creator of a compelling pitch. Your partner may have age and experience you don’t, a value added service, a Fortune 500 company on their resume, or experience in a key area that you lack. I have personally benefitted from partnership and found repeatedly that two minds were better than one, especially in client meetings.
Forecast Future Success: Even if the vision for Year 3 of your business depends heavily on performance in Year 1 and 2, have a clear path forward to share with your clients. The fact that you may be adjusting your plans minute to minute is not going to be compelling to decision makers. In a large bid that a partner and I made and won, one of the last questions we were grilled on was, “Where do you see yourself making an impact in 3-4 years?” We had a ready answer about an exciting area of research we wanted to spearhead and how we’d devise services around our learning. How can you look ahead and create a vision for the future? Your prospect may not be looking for total certainty, but they need to know you have a strategy with future mile markers of value.
More than anything, if you want to get hired, you need to promote trust. Are you creating certainty that you’ll deliver ably on what you’re selling? Even more important, are you demonstrating to prospects that if you take a wrong step or a crisis erupts on their end, that you’ll have the kind of smarts and agility to correct your course of action or manage the change?
What has worked for you to build credibility? Would do you think that young entrepreneurs need to know most?
Selena Rezvani is a women’s leadership speaker, workplace consultant, and author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want. Connect with her at nextgenwomen.com and @SelenaRezvani on Twitter.
Wealth and Weal for the Soldier: as some of you might know I’ve been outlining the idea behind several books, which involve teaching business, economic, financial, investment, and money management principles to people who usually get little training in this regard, or who have little exposure to such ideas, concepts, and principles (maybe because they have little time for it). In any case some of the audiences I have targeted to address my books on Wealth and Prosperity Training to include Wealth and Weal for Black Folks, Wealth and Weal for Poor People, Wealth and Weal for Immigrants, and Wealth and Weal for College Students.
Yesterday I was laying in the sun working on an invention when God suddenly said to me, “you know, those books on Wealth and Weal are pretty good ideas, but you know who else really needs that kinda training? A lot of Soldiers, and Police, and Firefighters.” And He was right of course, because that’s the way He is.
So I went inside and started jotting down chapter ideas. These would be chapters specifically targeted at these audiences. Such as:
Business Projects for the Soldier/Policeman
Inventions (triggered by where they serve)
Service Capabilities (developing and profiting from new ways and capabilities to serve)
Operational Improvements (how to suggest and profit from advancing operational methods of service)
Business and Career Idea Generation
Hazard Pay (how to profit from and invest your Hazard Pay)
Developing Supplementary methods and means of Income
Preparing for and Pre-Developing Your Post Service Career
Business, Career, and Employment Planning
Spiritual Development and Religious Life
Psychological Health and Development
Networking – in and out of Service
Contacts – military, civilian, political, and among your Service Zones
I can honestly say that I have never once in my life, that I can recall, ever felt covetous of or jealous of the money, property, or possession of others. And I have never once felt that others owed me their money, property, or possessions unless I worked for them.
I have on occasion wanted more of my own money, property, and possessions, but I do not understand being either jealous of or begrudging the prosperity or possessions of others.
I do not understand that and think it extremely small and petty. I think modern man is sick in his grasping at and jealousy of the resources of others.
The one exception would be if another person got their money, possessions, and property through theft, robbery, or oppression.
Then I have no respect for their gain for they got what they have by covetousness and deceit in themselves and towards others.
Adding to my list of Venture Capital and Investment firms that I need to contact to fund some of my business ideas, inventions, and projects.
Many business writers and especially a great number of business bloggers seem to have a lot of problems writing well in English. Even those who are native speakers of English. In other words many native English speakers seem to write and blog at a level well below their oral or spoken capabilities.
But your writing is a fundamental aspect of your brand, the very scripted expression of your business acumen, and the historical record of all your ventures and enterprises in this world.
If you cannot master the language, or your writings within the language, then others will overmaster you, and your lack of capabilities will forever limit your ascent in anything you attempt.
With that in mind here is a potentially helpful guide for you to consider. Although nothing ever really substitutes for study, reading excellent writing, habitually imitating it, and then practicing with the intent of becoming a truly good writer.
The one piece of advice I would add to this guide – learn to master and memorize your vocabulary base, and employ it correctly. No matter how superb your technical skills without a proper Word Hoard, or Vocabulary Cache, both your oral and written expression and your intended meaning will be severely limited by the poverty of your terminology and language.
Accumulate a vast and wealthy Word Hoard. It is a Business and Career Investment without equal, and a treasure without measure.
You’re a creative thinker, not a nitpicky grammar geek.
When you sit down to write you like to write, not dither around with mechanics. So when the words start flowing, you don’t want to get in their way by thinking about all those little details.
Not to mention the time factor. As in you can barely find the bandwidth to write as it is, let alone edit for grammar.
But you also care about being perceived as intelligent and credible. And you’re smart enough to know that for your writing to be taken seriously, it needs to come across as polished and correct.
The problem is, it’s been a long time since Mrs. Pendergast’s sixth-grade English class. And you were pretty hazy on the rules even back then.
Searching the Internet can quickly turn into a dive down a black hole of barely remembered terminology and examples that don’t really fit.
So what’s a blogger with good intentions but limited time and resources to do?
Well, here’s the good news. Language evolves, and as it does, so do our notions about what is “correct.” You might be surprised to learn that some of what Mrs. Pendergast taught you is now considered outmoded.
Of course there are still rules to follow, but read on, and you’ll find they’re no longer quite so intimidating.
And with a little repetition, applying many of them will soon become second nature.
Ready to rock and roll?
Parts of Speech – The Basic Building Blocks of Language
Let’s start with a quick and painless (promise!) review of the parts of speech. Not because you’ll ever need to spot a transitive verb in the present subjunctive at fifty paces, but simply because we need some common terminology for talking about the basic building blocks of language.
Yes, there are subcategories, exceptions, and sometimes even controversies about the parts of speech (you ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen grammarians duking it out over the finer points of language), but for our purposes we’re going to keep this simple.
If you grew up in the United States, you probably remember the old Schoolhouse Rock song: “A noun is a person, place or thing.” Just remember that things can be abstract concepts as well as physical objects, and you’ve got it.
Verbs are the action words which describe forms of doing and being.
Adjectives “modify” (further describe) nouns.
Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
Pronouns replace nouns. They shorten and simplify sentences that would otherwise be far too long and cumbersome.
A preposition shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another element in the sentence.
A conjunction shows the connection between the elements of a sentence.
Interjections are stand-alone exclamations that act as conversational fillers, often expressing emotion.
Determiners are sometimes considered parts of speech and sometimes not. In either case, they are small words that introduce nouns.
Punctuation – The Mortar Between the Bricks
When you’re building a house, you don’t just drop one brick on another—you need to cement them together with some mortar. When you’re writing, if the parts of speech are your basic building blocks, then punctuation is that mortar.
See how that’s like just stacking bricks with nothing to connect them? Add some punctuation and the wall is now firmly constructed:
Punctuation gradually evolved in different forms across cultures as a way of helping people figure out where to pause, and for how long, when reading out loud. The problem was, everyone did it differently, This was understandable when all writing was done by hand, but once movable type was invented the need for standardized punctuation became clear.Even so, we’re still arguing about it. Grammar school might have led you to believe that we’ve successfully standardized things . . . but in a language as fluid as English, there is still a lot of room for interpretation. Let’s go over the main points of confusion, and you’ll see where the hard-and-fast rules are and where you get to decide how you want to punctuate things.
No form of punctuation sparks more controversy than the poor comma.
It’s a horribly overworked symbol to begin with, struggling with a full schedule as a conjunction splitter, quotation clarifier and phrase definer while also moonlighting as a separator of list items. It tries so hard to please everyone, but sadly, we all disagree on its exact job description.
So let’s give the comma a little love here and appreciate it for all that it does.
A comma will mysteriously appear whenever one main action happens at the beginning of a sentence, and then even more happens after a conjunction like or, and or but.
Commas also cheerfully separate lists of more than two items, such as a bunch of blogs, a parade of posts, a set of sentences and a party of paragraphs.
Of course if you’re using what is known as the serial comma or the Oxford comma, that would read “. . . a set of sentences, and a party of paragraphs.”So should you use the serial comma or not? Either is fine. Just be sure you’re consistent about it one way or the other.
In fact, the best general rule of thumb for commas overall is that there is no general rule of thumb. Even the old guideline that says to “use a comma wherever you would pause in speaking” is misleading, because we all speak so differently. (Imagine where the commas would fall, for example, in Morgan Freeman’s speech as opposed to Christopher Walken’s!)
One final note. Don’t overuse commas, but keep in mind that sometimes you really do need them to make your meaning clear.
reads very differently than
Colons and Semicolons
The colon is used to signal that some very specific information is coming—most often a list. Sometimes it’s a bulleted or numbered list . . .
- those who can count
- those who can’t
. . . and sometimes it’s a list right there in a sentence.
The semicolon indicates a pause that’s a little longer than a comma but not quite as long as an end-of-sentence period. It’s an elegant way of joining two phrases or sentences that might otherwise stand alone. This can be desirable when you’re at the editing stage of a post and you want to vary the pacing between shorter, crisper sentences and longer, flowing ones for the sake of variety and interest.
Just don’t overuse semicolons; it will make you look slightly pretentious.
Apostrophes are very often used to indicate the omission of letters.
But the primary use of the apostrophe is to show possession. You already know the basic rule for this—use ’s when the possessor is singular and s’ when the possessor is plural.
However, if the plural form of a noun doesn’t already end in the letter s, you should add ’s rather than s’.
Here’s a common sticking point—what about when the singular form of a noun ends with an s? Editors wielding opposing manuals of style argue about this one all the time.The truth is, both of the following forms are acceptable, although the first is generally more preferred:
To show possession by more than one singular person or thing, an ’s on the last one is all you need.
Finally, be careful not to imply possession where there is none.One of the best examples of this is what Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, famously bemoans as the “greengrocer’s apostrophe” because of its frequent appearance on produce signs—that tiny bit of punctuation which turns simple, unwary nouns into raving mutants of unnecessary possessiveness.
Kids’ eat free all day!
These are all, quite simply, clueless mistake’s.
Hyphens and Dashes
The three types of horizontal punctuation marks are:
- the hyphen (the shortest one): –
- the en dash (the middle one): –
- the em dash (the longest one): —
(The en and em dashes are so named because in the days of fixed-type printing presses, they were the width of the capital letter N and the capital letter M, respectively.)
Most people use the hyphen only, and most of the time that’s fine when blogging. However, if you want to be scrupulously correct, you should use the en dash between date ranges and page numbers.
And you should use the em dash when you want to indicate a sudden shift in thought or tone, give more information, or lend some extra emphasis.
Many bloggers get confused about when to hyphenate compound words (groups of words that act as a single part of speech) and when not to . . . and why the rules seem to change from one sentence to the next. Let’s take a quick look at that.When the compound word is a noun, hyphenate it when it’s clearly naming one single thing:
Compound adjectives can be trickier. Here’s the rule—when it comes before the noun it modifies, hyphenate it. When it comes after the noun, don’t.
but . . .
(Note the exception that when the first word of a compound adjective ends in “-ly,” no hyphen should be used. So in the sentence “It was a beautifully written poem, ” “beautifully written” would not be hyphenated even though it comes before the noun. Hey, what would English be without annoying exceptions?)Finally, use a hyphen for clarity when there might otherwise be confusion.
Quotation marks serve a few important functions.
They are used, of course, to show when someone’s words are being directly quoted or spoken . . .
. . . but they can also indicate technical jargon, slang, or otherwise unfamiliar or non-standard terms.
Quotation marks are used around the titles of short works such as poems, songs, book chapters, articles, short stories, and program or presentation titles (but not long works such as entire books or series, which are italicized).
Incidentally, when it comes to dialogue, you should start a new paragraph every time there is a change of speaker—even if the new speaker says only one word. This helps the reader keep track of who is saying what.
The biggest confusion about quotation marks is usually over where the punctuation at the end goes—inside or outside?In the United States, at least, here’s how it works:
Periods and commas go inside the quotes.
Colons and semicolons go outside the quotes.
Question marks and exclamation points depend on the context. If the question or exclamation is part of the quote itself, it goes inside, but if it relates to the larger sentence, it goes outside.
British English is different. Those who “speak American” use double quotation marks, but those who ‘speak British’ use single quotes. British writers also place the comma or period outside the ending quotes rather than inside them.A bit barmy, eh, mate?
These are the three spaced dots or periods used to show that something has been omitted from a quotation. (They are sometimes also used in a creative sense—but that’s a different story.)
The formal rules can get pretty technical, but unless you’re blogging in the legal or literary field, just remember this. If the part just before the omitted section is the end of a sentence, you should use a period as usual, then the ellipses.
And if the missing section occurs mid-sentence, just use the ellipses.
Note the spaces between the ellipsis points—this is technically the right way to do it (and if you were being excruciatingly proper you’d use something even thinner called a “hair space”), but it’s also fine to run them together instead (like…this) as long as you’re consistent about doing it all the time.
Parentheses and Brackets
Parentheses tell us that something helpful but not absolutely necessary is being added.
But where does the punctuation go?
But If the parenthetical phrase is a sentence all by itself, the ending punctuation goes inside the parentheses. (Like this.)
Sometimes you can have both, which is correct even though it looks pretty weird (like this!).
Parentheses are often used as formatting devices to make information visually clearer.
Square brackets are used to show when clarifying information within a quote is not part of the quote itself . . . or around the Latin term sic to show where a mistake really is part of the quote.
Square brackets have a handful of other specific uses, such as in dictionary definitions, but they can also be utilized as visual or stylistic devices in the same way as parentheses.What about brackets inside of brackets?
Finally, as a blogger, you are freer than writers in the more traditional forms of media to have a little fun with punctuation.
So don’t be afraid to use it in creative ways that lend flavor and tone.
“Those dashes are also great for showing when a speaker gets cut off in mid-conver—” she said.
Many bloggers (perhaps too many of us) use emoticons made out of punctuation. 😉
You can even invent your own ways to build . . .
you know . . .
Just use creative punctuation like this sparingly. Be sure that it enhances and clarifies your message rather than needlessly muddling it.
Abbreviations – Handy Linguistic Shortcuts
Abbreviations are useful (and sometimes colorful) devices for shortening common words and phrases, but using them correctly can be a bit confusing.
Do you abbreviate the United States of America as USA or U.S.A.? (I strongly favor the latter, but different strokes for different folks.)
Should you start a sentence with an abbreviation like FYI? (In formal writing this is traditionally frowned upon, but in a blog post it’s usually fine unless it looks clunky.)
What does FUBAR stand for, anyway, and should you spell the whole thing out? (I’m certainly not telling you here, and it entirely depends on your audience.)
If you’re blogging for an organization that has a style guide, go with whatever it says. If not, look up the abbreviation in the dictionary for guidance on how to spell and use it properly.
If you’re still in doubt after that, it probably doesn’t matter too much anyway (depending, of course, on your audience). Just pick one way and use it consistently. For example:
I.e. vs. e.g.
While we’re on the topic of abbreviations, let’s talk about these two Latin terms. They are very often used interchangeably, but they actually mean two different things.
I.e. stands for id est, or “that is.” It’s used to further explain or restate something in different words.
E.g. stands for exempli gratia, or “for example.” It’s used to do just that—give one or more examples.
Here’s a memory aid for recalling when to use each of these two phrases. Instead of worrying about the Latin translations, just remember:
- i.e. = in other words (both start with i) or In essence
- e.g. = example given
Also note that a comma is used after the final period in each of these abbreviations.
To introduce the abbreviation, in most cases you can use either a comma, a semicolon, a colon, an em dash, or a set of parentheses. Again, just be sure you’re consistent in whatever choice you make.
He liked all kinds of leafy green vegetables: e.g., lettuce, spinach and kale.
He liked all kinds of leafy green vegetables—e.g., lettuce, spinach and kale.
He liked all kinds of leafy green vegetables (e.g., lettuce, spinach and kale).
The only caveat here is that if the text that follows the i.e. or e.g. could stand as an independent sentence:
. . . you should not introduce the phrase with a comma—use any of the other punctuation methods. My own personal preference is the semicolon, as above, but any of them except for the comma would fine.
Foreign Terms – Exotic Expressions
Foreign words are another bone of contention among editors and other professional wordsmiths. The general consensus, though, is that if a term is likely to be unfamiliar to your readers, italicize it.
But if the word has become a commonly accepted part of English, there’s no need to italicize.
These same guidelines apply to common Latin abbreviations such as etc. and our buddies i.e., and e.g. from just above—they are now so common that they don’t require italics.But expect to run into people who will argue that ad nauseam.
Numbers – A Source of “Total” Confusion
Ah, numbers. So many questions about them, and so many ways to be inconsistent. Let’s take a look.
Spelled Out vs. Numerals
Opinions on this differ widely. In general, spelling out numbers comes across as more formal, but possibly a little bit snooty. Of course, depending on the context (She lived at Eighty-Eight Kensington Road, where she routinely inspected the brass railings for dust using her spotless white gloves), that may be exactly what you want.
One common convention is to spell out any numbers from zero through ten and numerals for 11 and higher. But visual consistency should override this, so make exceptions where numbers are close together.
Don’t begin a sentences with a numeral, even if it’s a small number.
Numbers in titles are another point of contention. Should your new list post be titled “10 Ways to Be a Kickass Knitter” or “Ten Ways to Be a Kickass Knitter”? Many bloggers use numbers in headlines because they’re more quickly readable, but it’s up to you.
Format dates however you like, but be consistent about it. If you start off writing 8/16/99, don’t switch to 06/23/72 later on. If you spell out January 1 when blogging about your New Year’s resolution, don’t update your readers later in the year by sticking letters at the end of the date on May 31st.
Years should be written in numerals, and when they’re abbreviated, the point of the single apostrophe should face left.
When referring descriptively to a decade, don’t include an apostrophe between the numbers and the letter s.
He’s a child of the 80s.
He’s a child of the 1980s.
He’s a child of the 80’s.
He’s a child of the 1980’s.
Century names can either use numerals or be spelled out, but should not be capitalized.
The rule here is pretty much “no rules.” It doesn’t matter if you write 6:30 am, 6:30am, 6:30 AM, 6:30AM, 6:30 a.m., 6:30a.m., 6:30 A.M. or 6:30A.M., as long as you do it the same way everywhere.
(In some countries a period is used in clock times rather than a colon—e.g., 6.30 A.M.)
It’s better to write “noon” and “midnight” rather than “12:00 p.m.” and “12:00 a.m.” (which make people have to think too hard.)
Use the percent sign (27%) or spell it out (27 percent)—either is fine. Pick one way and use it.
The main mistake bloggers make here is doubling up the currency symbol and the word. If you write $1 dollar it’s like saying “One dollar dollar.” A simple $1 (or 1 dollar or one dollar) is the correct way to go.
Same thing with larger ranges. If someone is already a millionaire, don’t inflate their wealth even further by giving them $10 million dollars. Either $10 million or 10 million dollars is just fine, thank you very much.
In general, any number range, whether dates (1785–1802), pages (pp. 23–38), or some other type, gets that medium-length dash, the en dash, between its numbers.
When giving number ranges within text, don’t mix up words and symbols. People often make this mistake by writing things like They were married from 1975–2010 instead of They were married from 1975 to 2010.
Now let’s move into some of the typical areas where bloggers get confused. You know the ones I’m talking about—those tricky cases where you just know there’s a rule, but you can never remember what it is.
The “subject” of a sentence is whatever person or thing is doing the main action—what you might call the primary noun (or nouns). The subject should “agree” with the verb about whether they should both be singular or plural.
To mix them just sounds wrong. If I were to write “You and I is smart,” you’d know that one of us wasn’t.
But subject/verb agreement gets trickier with vague-sounding pronouns and more complex sentences.
The word and makes a subject plural (i.e., there is more than one main actor), so the verb should be plural too.
With the word or, it depends on the actors. If they’re both singular, the verb should be singular.
But if one is singular and the other is plural, the verb should agree with the one closest to it.
In the case of “indefinite pronouns” (so called because they refer to somewhat vague numbers of things), you should determine whether the noun the pronoun refers to is singular or plural.
None of them are going to the movie.
(“them” indicates multiple people, so use the plural verb “are”)
Anybody here want seconds?
(“anybody” refers to any one body/person, so it’s singular—use the singular verb “want”)
Most of my guest posts were quickly published.
(“most” refers to a number of individual posts, so use the plural verb “were”)
But amazingly, neither the post about the mating habits of the Brazilian termite nor the one on different types of postage stamp adhesive was accepted anywhere.
(both “neither” and “nor” refer to one single post, so use the singular verb “was”)
Don’t get confused by interrupting phrases and clauses. Like newly infatuated lovers, the subject and verb will always agree with each other no matter what comes between them.
That vs. Which
This is an old problem with a surprisingly easy solution. Look at the phrase or clause you’re considering and ask yourself, “If I take it out, will the sentence still have the same basic meaning?”
If the answer is yes, use which.
If the answer is no, use that.
Another way of looking at it is to consider whether the clause is, or could go, inside a pair of commas. If so, use which. If not, use that.
Both sentences tell us that the map in question is in the glove compartment, but mean different things.In the first sentence, what the people used the map for is incidental. It’s as though the writer is saying, “The map is in the glove compartment. Oh, yeah—by the way, they used it to drive cross-country.”
The second sentence, on the other hand, refers to the specific map they used. (There could be other maps, too.) “Where is the map they used to drive cross-country? It’s in the glove compartment.”
First case, extra information. Second case, central to the plot.
See the difference?
Who vs. Whom
Running a close second behind “that vs. which” in the confusion competition is the “who vs. whom” conundrum. This is another tricky dilemma with a simple solution.
If you could substitute “he or “she,” use who.
If you could substitute “him” or “her,” use whom.
If this is unclear, switch the pieces of the sentence around first and then see which word works better.For example, is “Who do you think will win?” correct, or should it be “whom”?
- First switch the sentence so that it reads “Do you think WHO will win?”
- Now do the substitution both ways. Which sounds right, “Do you think HE will win?” or “Do you think HIM will win?”
- Obviously it’s the first one, so “Who do you think will win?” is correct.
What about this one? “I wonder who I’ll be paired up with for the scavenger hunt.”
- First switch the sentence around: “I wonder I’ll be paired up with WHO for the scavenger hunt.” (I know that sentence is awkward and incorrect, but it’s just for the sake of figuring this out.)
- Now which is right—“I wonder I’ll be paired up with SHE for the scavenger hunt” or “I wonder I’ll be paired up with HER for the scavenger hunt”?
- HER sounds correct, so the original sentence should read, “I wonder whom I’ll be paired up with for the scavenger hunt.”
In casual conversation, though, sometimes whom sounds a bit stilted. “Whom should I cheer for?” (or, for complete sticklers, “For whom should I cheer?”) is technically correct, but the people next to you at the big game may look at you strangely, and not just because you don’t know which side you’re on.
So when it comes to your blog, know which way is correct, but don’t be afraid to bend the rules a bit here for the sake of sounding more conversational.
Who vs. That
I’ve saved this one for last because, frankly, I don’t agree with the rule.
I strongly feel that writers should always refer to people as “who” rather than “that.” However, my research indicates that my strong opinion on the matter has become outdated.
I flinch whenever I read (or hear) sentences like “Kobe Bryant is the athlete that inspired me to play basketball.” Not that Kobe needs my help, but to my ear, referring to him as “that” instead of “who” dehumanizes him.
Apparently, I’m old-fashioned in believing that people are people, not things. But for the record, it is now apparently permissible to refer to people as either “the folks who” or “the folks that.” (Ew.)
I’m pleased to say, though, that a thing is still always a “that.”
You can’t say “the company who patented the Giant Gizmo” because a company (the opinions of corporate lawyers notwithstanding) is not a person. It’s a non-living entity (the opinions of some science fiction writers notwithstanding). So you need to say “the company that patented the Giant Gizmo.”
More Tricks (and Traps) of the Writing Trade
We bloggers are living in tough linguistic times. The lines between formal written language and the more casual spoken word have blurred tremendously with the explosion of personal computers, e-mail, and the Internet.
So how do you successfully walk those lines? How do you ensure that your posts are conversational yet correct, compelling yet credible?
To return to our “building blocks” metaphor from earlier in the post, you need to take a step back from the level of the individual bricks (what we’ve been discussing up until this point) and consider the overall construction of your building.
Your goal as a blogger isn’t to simply heap up ramshackle stacks of words. You want to move people. Inspire them. Educate them. Persuade them to think differently. To take action.
To do that, you need to look at the larger issues. Are your walls straight and attractively laid out? Does your building look inviting? Can you construct its rooms so that visitors are naturally led from one to the other in the sequence you’ve designed?
Much of this ability comes with the study and practice of effective writing techniques, and is outside the scope of a single post on grammar, no matter how long. What I can show you today, though, are some of the common ways bloggers leave stumbling blocks scattered around the floors of their word-rooms.
Clean those up, and you’ve gone a long way toward leaving a clear path through your writing.
Humans love patterns. We key into them to help us make sense of the world . . . and you can use them to help your readers make sense of your writing.
I’m not saying you should make your writing so robotically regular that it becomes predictable and monotonous.
But if you want your readers to roll smoothly along from one idea of yours to the next, using parallel structure is like laying parallel train tracks.
Both of the following sentences essentially say the same thing. Which is easier to read? Which packs a stronger punch?
It’s the second sentence, of course. Why? The first one uses a mixture of noun forms–gerunds (“persuading,” “thinking” and “presenting”)—in which “-ing” is added to the verb to create a noun—and “organization,” a more regular, though abstract, noun. You can follow the sentence, but you have to work a little too hard at it. The parallel verb forms in the second sentence (“persuade,” “think,” “organize” and “present”) make it much easier to comprehend quickly.Note that you could also re-cast the sentence this way: “Persuading others comes from a mixture of thinking through your ideas, organizing them thoroughly, and then presenting them clearly” (using gerunds throughout). In general, though, simpler verb forms result in clearer writing.
[Bonus credit if you realized you could make the structure even more parallel by adding an adverb (such as “carefully”) after the word “ideas”! It would then have the form “. . . (VERB) through your ideas (ADVERB), (VERB) them (ADVERB), and then (VERB) them (ADVERB).]
Here’s a so-called grammar rule that seems pretty basic on the surface—every sentence should be complete. Meaning, traditionally, that it should have a subject (the main actor/actors), verb (the main action) and, if applicable, an object (what the action happens to).
Anything less is called a sentence fragment.
Except . . .
Remember earlier, when I told you that some of what Mrs. Pendergast taught you back in English class is now considered outdated?
This is one example. Unless the context in which you’re writing is very formal (sorry, corporate and legal bloggers), sentence fragments are perfectly fine in blogs—and a lot of other writing—these days.
With one caveat.
Your meaning must be clear.
See what I did above with except . . . and with one caveat? You understood what I meant because the text flowed. So what if they were technically fragments?
In fact, as a blogger you should probably make it a point to introduce sentence fragments every now and then, depending on your personal style (sorry, Mrs. Pendergast). They let you spice up your writing by playing with pace, tension and emotion.
One more caveat. Fragments? Use them sparingly. Like a condiment. Even though they’re legit. Because why? Using lots of them feels choppy. Not wrong, precisely. Just hard to read.
The opposite of a fragment is a run-on sentence, in which you will find more than one complete thought, each of which really deserves its own sentence, but there’s just too much going on at once and it gets really hard to keep track of all the players, which happens a lot when a blogger gets really excited about her subject matter and goes on at length without adding a period for quite a long time and the sentence ends up sounding quite flustered and out of breath.
Unless you’re deliberately using a run-on sentence for dramatic or illustrative purposes, like I just did, don’t use them.
One way of avoiding them is to read your posts out loud as part of your editing process. If you find yourself literally running out of breath before running out of sentence, look for ways to break the run-on sentence into more than one.
It’s all about developing a listening ear with regard to your own writing. And about keeping things clear and simple for your readers.
Misplaced modifiers—often called “dangling modifiers” because of the way they just sort of hang there, not being clear about what they’re modifying—are some of the most amusing mistakes in all of Grammaria.
Check these out:
Here are some much clearer re-writes (though not the only possible fixes for them):
Here’s another area in which you can gleefully waggle your finger at old Mrs. Pendergast and say, “You were wrong!”
An infinitive is the form of any verb which starts with the word “to”—to go, to dance, to have written, etc.
It is supposedly a grammar faux pas to split an infinitive by sticking extra words between the “to” and the rest of the verb. However, this is now considered outmoded thinking . . . and it certainly never stopped Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise from heading out into space, to boldly go where no man had gone before.
In fact, the split infinitive is often clearer than the alternative. Which of these sounds better to you?
You’ll be glad to know it’s finally considered okay for you to boldly go and split some infinitives, too.
The Golden Grammar Rule for Busy Bloggers
We’ve covered a lot of ground here—thank you for sticking with me! Clearly, you are a tenacious soul.
I’d like to leave you with one closing thought.
One word, really.
We are a pattern-seeking species—something that is hard-wired into us for basic survival reasons. Our nervous systems are keenly attuned to inconsistencies in our environment.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the subtle striping of a tiger through the bushes or a set of square brackets instead of the usual curved parentheses—our primitive brains don’t register relative importance, only difference. They simply flash the signal, “Something is wrong here.”
Whether this response is conscious or unconscious, that is not the feeling you want your readers to have.
That’s why I’ve stressed consistency throughout this post, and why you should aim for it in your writing. Here’s one great way to ensure it.
Ever wonder how professional copy editors can catch a misspelled name on page 549 of a manuscript when it hasn’t appeared since page 23? They use a nifty little device called a style sheet.
I suggest you do the same.
A style sheet is a quick-and-dirty list of your key editorial decisions, all in one place so that you can check it easily. Whenever you reach a new decision about how to handle something, it gets added to the list. This personal set of editorial standards helps you write more consistently over time.
- Does that author you refer to all the time spell her name Catherine or Katherine?
- Do you vacillate between writing email and e-mail?
- Have you decided to call your webinar series “Best-Kept Secrets of Highly Amazing People” or “The Best-Kept Secrets of Highly Amazing People”?
- Do you have a hard time remembering that decades should be referred to as the ’60s and ’80s rather than the 60’s and 80’s?
Jot it down or type it into a running document. When you need to check because you’ve pulled another all-nighter and you can’t see straight, let alone remember such mind-numbing little details, they will be there for you.
Get Ready to Banish Your Grammar Gremlins for Good!
Your time is your most valuable resource. It’s the only thing you have that can’t be renewed.
Obviously this means you want to spend as much of it as you can on high-level activities, creating and sharing the things that only you, of all the people in this world, can contribute.
But you also want to be sure that you’re doing that clearly and convincingly through each and every blog post you publish. And that means a certain amount of time spent on grammar. It’s simply a part of crafting your message.
But now you can minimize the time you spend on this in two ways:
- Bookmark this post. The more you refer back to it, the more quickly you’ll find what you need. And the more often you use it, the better you’ll internalize the information, so that over time you’ll automatically remember more and more of the rules and guidelines on your own.
- Start your own style sheet. (See the section just above.) Take the extra moment to record each editorial decision you make, A few minutes here and there, in the beginning, will pay off hugely as a time- and stress-saver down the road once you have a nicely comprehensive list of “how you do things” when you edit your own posts.
Both of these resources will help you become a faster and more efficient self-editor, freeing up more time for the creative work that is at the heart of what you blog about . . . and why you blog in the first place.
Go get ‘em, you creative thinker, you.
The goal should not be to degrade, lessen, or sabotage the ranks of the 1%. Much less to abolish the ranks of the 1%.
Rather the goal should be to create so many wealthy persons that they become the vast majority of people on the face of the Earth. But to do this the vast majority of people on the face of the Earth must become truly ambitious, industrious and productive. They must also become real risk-takers.
It is for immediately obvious reasons (to anyone who bothers to observe) that the vast majority of one-percenters are consistently ambitious, industrious, and productive. And habitual risk takers.
They are not dependent-minded people with a constant desire for indulgence and security. They are rather the makers of manners. And the shapers of self-effort and worth.
If you would be in the 1% you must become the 1%.
It is not indecipherable magic, it is good and well-practiced habit.
This article, which I shared with Launch Port, on business and corporate narration, has led me to the decision that I will now start offering my professional writing services for Business Narration. Or rather, to be more accurate and specific, that I will now add Business Narration to the list of business and writing services I offer my clients.
I am already an excellent storyteller and journalist, as well as a very good business and copy writer.
So combining those two capabilities and skills and fusing them into a single new service line only makes a great deal of sense to me.
So beginning in this year, 2015 AD, I will be offering my services as a Business Narrator to all of my clients, new and old. If you are an entrepreneur, a start-up venture, a company or corporation, or a long established business that would like to better communicate your story to the world then I will be happy to help you construct the Narrative of your business or venture so that you can effectively and profitably share it with others.
If you would like to see examples of my Work and Writings (including my Narrative Writings) then you may look here:
HAPPY NEW YEAR MY FRIENDS!
MAY YOU BE WISE, WEALTHY (in many worthwhile things), AND WELL
I thought most of his points were excellently and wisely made.
I have spent decades “being educated” — in college, graduate school, numerous professional certifications, and now a Ph.D. program. All of that schooling and training helped shape the person I am today, but at no point in my life has there been a more profound education than my time working for Enver Yucel and Oprah Winfrey.
Enver and Oprah are two extraordinary people. And on top of that, they’re both billionaires. On the surface, they appear to be totally different people. They are in different industries, have different family structures, practice different religions, and speak different languages. However, once you get past their written biographies and dig deeper, you will notice they possess many of the same successful habits.
I had the opportunity to work with both Oprah and Enver for six years collectively and those were, hands down, the best professional experiences of my life. I worked my ass off for them and in doing so absorbed everything I could.
It’s my honor to share with you what I learned from them. Here is Part 1 of the 20 successful habits I learned working for two billionaires:
1) Invest in Yourself
This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has “made it” would stop doing. Not at all for these two. I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self-development (whether it be a new language, exercise, social media classes, etc.). The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.
2) Be Curious… About Everything
What the average person sees as mundane or overly complicated is not viewed the same way with a billionaire mindset. I once had a 30 minute conversation with Enver about the height of the curbs in Washington DC versus Istanbul, Turkey. Billionaires are incredibly curious; what the rest of the world thinks is a problem and complains about — that’s what these people go and work on.
3) Surround Yourself With “Better” People
I hope this is why they kept me around. Seriously, I never knew my bosses to keep anyone less-than-stellar in their inner circle. There were many times I thought to myself, “Damn, they have dream-teams built around them.” Jim Rohn had it right, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
4) Never Eat Alone
The last time I had dinner with Enver, as well as the last time I ate dinner with Oprah, there were easily 15 people at our tables, respectively. Coincidence? While most of us derive our key information from blogs or the newspaper, power players get their information from the source (other power players), directly. However, just because you can’t call up the Obamas and break bread with them doesn’t mean eating with others in your circle doesn’t carry value. In one of my favorite reads of the last few years called Never Eat Alone, author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down how you can identify “information brokers” to dine with you. I’ve seen first hand how enormous the benefits are of this strategy.
5) Take Responsibility for Your Losses
I was working for Oprah during the time she was taking heat from the media about poor network ratings. I was also working for Enver during the closing of one of his prized divisions. What I witnessed them both do in response was powerful. Opposed to covering the losses up with fancy PR tactics, both stepped to the stage and said in essence “I own it and I’m going to fix it” and dropped the mic. Guess what? They sure did fix things (It’s widely noted Oprah’s network is realizing ratings gold and Enver’s assets have probably doubled since the division closing).
6) Understand The Power Of “Leverage”
This is something that was quite a shock to me. From afar, a billionaire appears to be someone who is a master at everything. But, in truth, they’re specialists in one or a few areas and average or subpar at everything else. So, how do they get so much done? Leverage! They do what they do best and get others to do the rest. Here’s a great article on leverage. Keep in mind I see this done with wealthy people and their money all of the time — they use OPM (other people’s money) for most or all of their projects.
7) Take No Days Off (Completely)
I recall going on vacation with Enver several times, yachting up and down the southwestern coast of Turkey (also known as the blue voyage). Sounds ballerific, right? No doubt we had a great time, but mixed in with all that swimming and backgammon was discussion of business, discussion of strategy, planning and plotting. The best way I can describe this habit is thinking about your business or your idea like your literal baby. No matter your distance, you don’t stop thinking of him/her (and after just having a second son, I can attest to this).
8) Focus On Experiences vs. Material Possessions
When you have money, your toys are big. However, the vast majority of money I saw spent on their “leisure” was on actual experiences versus the typical car, jewelry, and clothes we’re familiar with seeing in music videos and gossip blogs. I recall one time at dinner with Oprah, I spotted a table of about 20 girls off to the side. I later found out Ms. Winfrey was treating some of her graduating girls from her school in South Africa to dinner in NYC. Experiences create memories, and memories are priceless.
9) Take Enormous Risks
This is another one of those successful habits every entrepreneur can attest to. A matter of fact, Entreprenuer.com created a great infographic outlining commonalities of the world’s billionaires and one of the most prominent was this characteristic: billionaires are not adverse to risk. What intrigues me even more about Enver and Oprah was that even at their high financial status and success level, they still possessed a willingness to risk their most precious asset (their name and legacy) on new and bolder projects. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not making moves!
10) Don’t Go At It Alone
Nothing great in life is achieved alone. Especially in business, success isn’t a solo act. This character trait is akin to “surrounding yourself with better people.” It takes teamwork to make the dream work.
Read Part 2, here!
You should treat your assets, your businesses, your creations, your investments, your money, and your wealth exactly like your children. You should build them up, develop and grow them so that they can function, and function well, without your presence. Eventually you want your every asset to have a completely independent existence, entirely free of the necessity of you.
You want the things you create and the things you have and the things you produce to have their own life, to outgrow you, and to do those good things in the world that you could never do alone because, after all, you are but one man.
Look at your assets as you would your own children and off-spring, the point is never to maintain a life-long control of them, but to develop them in such a way that they no longer need you. That they outgrow and exceed you. Do this and you will prosper, do this and the world will prosper.
In the long run this approach will make you much, much wealthier and much, much wiser, and better still it will make the world much, much wealthier for your uncommon Wisdom. When good things outgrow their creator everyone benefits. Especially the creator.
Do not just do good with the things you create and possess, let the things you create and possess Do Good on their own.
The very idea that a college degree, of any kind, will assure you do anything at all worthwhile in life is every bit as juvenile and ridiculous a notion as the idea that a job will assure you will become wealthy.
This does not mean that you should necessarily eschew either degrees or jobs, what it does mean is that you must understand their very limited influence on your real achievements in life, and upon your true personhood.
Neither you, nor anyone else, can anymore “degree” you a great achievement, than you can “job” your way into being a meaningful person.
Lately I have been reading George Anders excellent little book, The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else. The premise of the book is that there are certain characteristic traits that talent scouts (business, career, artistic, etc.) can use to spot the Rare Find.
Which I think is a true premise and statement, and for the most part I agree with the list of qualifications and traits Anders employs to distinguish and recognize Rare Talent, but while reading the book another thought occurred to me as well.
Suppose I reversed the premise of the book (for the book is written from the point of view of the talent scout seeking talent) and instead developed my own plan to making my talent more easily recognizable to others (such as agents, editors, publishers, scouts, etc.)?
So I am sketching the book out in reverse with the intent of developing my own 8 to 12 Point Plan for making myself easily recognizable to those who are scouting for new talent.
Once I have this plan developed I will post it here, on Launch Port, along with a lengthier article on how I plan to employ that plan.
Peter S. Cohan
December 17, 2014
This week I gave a final exam to 29 undergraduates in my “Foundations of Entrepreneurial Management” class at Babson College.
But a final exam is not the true test of what they need to know. They need to learn how to think and act to find and capture opportunities to make the world a better place.
This may sound overly rosy, but in my experience startups must make the world better in order to survive. To succeed at that, entrepreneurs must consider and do the following six things:
1. Find customers and feel their pain.
A passionate founder is often so determined to realize a vision that he or she can lose sight of other perspectives. Before going too far with plans, an entrepreneur should think about how the outside world would view the new product.
What are the different groups of people it could help or hurt? Which group of potential customers might it make better off?
Which talented people could the vision inspire? Which partners would want to work with the venture? Which investors would want to bet on it?
In a recent interview, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey tells me that empathy is the one word he invokes in almost all interactions with customers, employees and partners of his San Jose, Calif.-based company that combines the functions of servers, storage and networking.
“By empathizing with our employees, customers and partners we believe we can build a company that will create value for our investors because we solve their problems instead of dictating to them what we think they ought to have the way our competitors do,” he says.
2. Imagine and build a prototype.
Find an inexpensive way to build a model of a product.
Let’s say an entrepreneur has the idea to build an app that will make it easier for college friends to arrange an evening out on the town. A prototype might be as simple as a series of drawings of the app’s screens. If the drawings are clear, save the time and money of hiring someone to write code until after the next step in the process.
An example of this can be found in Ben Kaplan’s development of the Who is Going Out (or WiGo) app. As the former student at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., tells me, “I was on campus my freshman year and trying to make social plans — figure out who else was going out at night, where and what time.”
But there were no easy way to do it, he says. “You could text other people or put a post on Facebook but you often wouldn’t get an answer.”
So he came up with the idea for WiGo and mocked up some screen shots on paper for how the mobile app would work. He found a systems developer who built the app in the fall of 2013 for his new company.
3. Receive feedback to adapt the product.
Next imagine the characteristics of the individuals who might eventually buy the startup’s product. Based on that, find individuals who fit that description. Show them the prototype and inquire whether they would buy it. If so, how much would they pay? If not, ask them to say what’s wrong with it or missing and what they would they change.
Repeat this process until a majority of potential customers say they are eager to use the product and want to know how long it will be until it’s delivered.
WiGo is an example of a product that launched in January got good feedback almost from the start, founder Ben Kaplan asserts, saying, “It became very popular within three weeks. Many of the people using it were friends on sports teams at Holy Cross.” Adds Kapan, “I started getting emails and Facebook messages from people at other schools like University of Florida and University of Southern California where I had friends who wanted to use it.”
If consumers say the product looks interesting but it’s not good enough or solves the wrong problem, change the vision or find customers who need the product now — or give up.
4. Build a team of people.
After receiving a positive reaction from from potential customers, think about the skills required to turn a prototype into a product with the benefits expected by customers. What type of sales, engineering, operations and service people are needed to operate the business well?
Figure out values to unite the team and use them to screen candidates and create an interview process and compensation package to hire the best people for these key jobs.
Kaplan, a visionary and salesperson, lacks programming skills. But he was able to use his skills to secure the ones he lacked. For example, he met with Jim Giza, executive in residence at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Giza introduced Kaplan to Kayak co-founder Paul English, who was opening the Blade startup incubator in Boston. “I gave him a demo of WiGo and he immediately got it,” Kaplan says, adding that he now has three or four employees and three to four Blade employees dedicated to WiGo.
English also led to Kaplan’s enlisting programmer and MIT grad Giuliano Giacaglia to be a WiGo co-founder.
5. Raise capital to achieve goals.
To accomplish all the preceding steps, a startup needs money. Give thought to the ways the startup capital could be used and how potential investors will receive a return on the investment. Then find people who will understand the venture and have the capital to invest in it.
The process of raising funds becomes more time-consuming and difficult as capital requirements increase. Bring in investors who will help the company achieve its vision rather than fighting to take control.
WiGo raised capital by bringing in investors who understood its market and could help attract others. The company brought in “about $700,000 from the founders of Kayak, Rue La La, and Tinder, and from professional athletes, including Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots,” The Boston Globe reported.
6. Perceive and adapt to change.
Monitor all the changes to the startup’s environment. The entrepreneur must distinguish between signal and noise when it comes to considering new technologies, customer needs and upstart competitors.
The founder must decide how to respond — whether to alter the existing product line, add new items, change the organization’s structure, bring in managers or create more formal systems to manage people and finances.
Adobe Systems is an example of a company that has adapted to change. Since 2011, its CEO has led its transition from selling packaged software (to its 12.8 million users of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign) to providing software as a service, whereby customers pay a monthly fee and get the latest version from the cloud.
Adobe decided to sell Creative Cloud, a monthly, cloud-based subscription service. On Dec. 11, Adobe reported far more subscribers to its Creative Cloud than Wall Street expected and its shares gained nearly 10 percent on a day when the Dow plummeted.
Thinking and acting in these six ways can make the difference between startup success and failure.
He’s absolutely right. You shouldn’t just market and “get on people’s radar” after you fund and start operations, you should do that to get funded and to start operations. As a matter of fact you should market continuously and at all times.
December 15, 2014
Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur Richard Branson regularly shares his business experience and advice with readers. Ask him a question and your query might be the inspiration for a future column.
Q.: G’day Richard. I am a young engineering student with little to no practical experience as an entrepreneur. I think I’ve got a great idea, a ready and capable team, but have little money to pursue commercializing my novel product. I fear that potential investors will not take me seriously because of my age (21) and inexperience. How can I convince seasoned investors to believe in my team and invest in my idea? — Jordan Gruber, Australia
My friends and I came up with the name “Virgin” one day when we were 15 years old, sitting around in a basement. I was keen on the name “Slipped Disc” for our new music venture, but then one of my friends pointed out that when it came to business, “we’re all virgins; why don’t we call it that?” In our case, inexperience proved to be a huge asset — if we’d gone with the safer option, I’m not sure that many people would be working out at Slipped Disc Health Clubs or banking at Slipped Disc Money!
Innovation and entrepreneurship thrive on the energy of people who are dipping their toes into the water for the first time. Budding entrepreneurs with fresh outlooks have the freedom to think quite differently, which is tremendously exciting to potential collaborators. However, as you’re finding out, Jordan, translating a new concept into a product can be very daunting.
While you might not yet have the right connections or an “in” with major investors, other people out there do — experienced businesspeople, in your sector or in others, who were once in your shoes and went on to be successful. These people are potential mentors who can help you on your way.
Mentoring is a subject that is very close to our hearts at Virgin; I myself have benefited from many mentors throughout my life. However, don’t consider mentoring as a quick way to gain useful contacts. A good mentoring relationship is based on more than that — it’s a way to learn valuable lessons from the mistakes someone else has made.
Additionally, I noticed in your message an emphasis on convincing “seasoned investors” to back your idea. While securing huge sums of money from major business figures might seem like the ideal way to propel a business forward, the reality is that very few ventures win this kind of funding. A better alternative might be an online crowdfunding platform. Websites such as Indiegogo not only have the potential to fund the creation of a prototype to get your business up and running, but they also can result in significant publicity.
Another option is taking out a small business loan. In the U.K. we launched Virgin StartUp, a program that provides loans of up to 25,000 pounds to companies trying to get their ideas off the ground. It is well worth your time to look into similar initiatives in your area, and decide whether a loan is the right step for you. As an added benefit, both crowdfunding and small business loans will mean that you can retain full ownership of your business — you won’t have to give any equity away to investors.
Here are three steps that can help you discover which approach is best for you:
1. EVALUATE AND RESEARCH.
Always be honest with yourself about your abilities, the work you’ll have to put in to get your company up and running, and the amount of money you’re hoping to raise. Research all the options that are available, and evaluate how they would affect your end goal.
Ask yourself: Is your crowdfunding target realistic? How much of a stake in your business are you willing to give to potential investors?
And if you want to find a mentor who can help give you direction and guidance, make sure you find a suitable one. Find out what they do, whether they’ve mentored others before and which sectors they are interested in.
2. GET ON PEOPLE’S RADAR.
Attend industry events such as seminars and conferences. Talk to as many people as possible, and do not immediately launch into a pitch of your product. Be sure to listen and learn from what people have to say.
Networking doesn’t stop at face-to-face contact, either; interact on social media, join LinkedIn groups and keep the relationships going online. When you do approach potential mentors or investors, or if you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll have a degree of visibility.
In fact, the more proactive you are in building your profile, the more likely it is that potential investors will feel confident enough to put their faith in you — and their money in your company. Remember that the more relationships you build, the better the chances that your network will put you in touch with the people who can help your business.
3. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.
Remember to be flexible. While winning investment might look like the best option now, don’t discount any other opportunities that come your way. For example, crowdfunding might not have the prestige of an investment from a big-time entrepreneur, but it will connect you directly with future customers, and you will have more control over the process.
Keeping an open mind is especially important when it comes to mentoring. Don’t see mentorship as a quick fix for problems, and do not brush off advice. Consider your connection with a mentor as a long-lasting business relationship that can teach you lessons and reduce the potential for failure. But also remember that, as with anything else, you’ll get out of mentoring what you put in.
Making sure that your potential business is a success is not contingent upon gaining a large investment. Many successful companies — including Virgin — started with modest funds. Right now, investors might seem like they are the gatekeepers between you and your dream, but the one person who can make your business succeed is not an investor, or even a mentor. It is you.
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Isuama Kennedy from Facebook8 hours ago
the one person who will make your business to succeed is not an investor or your mentor but YOU
Meg Columbia Walsh
Meg Columbia Walsh from Facebook9 hours ago
Great Mr. Branson, then tell me a time to pitch my business that is doing well!!! Woman and gay owned…
Silvia Khouzame from Facebook12 hours ago
Samantha Binetter from Facebook17 hours ago
Chandé Dusina from Facebook20 hours ago
Maria Petromanolakis21 hours ago
Thank you very much Sir Branson!
Alexandra Ferrer from Facebook2 days ago
Ryan Poh from Facebook2 days ago
Duc Hoang from Facebook2 days ago
one story for strategy 😀
Peachy Keen from Facebook2 days ago
Wont work in the south. These old geezers aren’t giving up their money unless its for an oil well!
Kiều Công Bình
Kiều Công Bình from Facebook2 days ago
Duc Hoang Nguyễn Trung Kiên 😀
Jason Lobo Sedillo
Jason Lobo Sedillo from Facebook2 days ago
stephen hardacre 2 days ago
O.K. THE RICHSTER DID YOU EVER WATCH JERRY MCGUIRE WELL RUMOUR HAS IT THAT IT WAS FICTIONAL CERTAIN GUYS ARE SAYING THAT IT IS ABOUT THEM BUT WHAT I AM ABOUT TO ACHIEVE IS REAL TIME AND WHILE I AM AT IT THE PLAN IS TO BRING THE CRIME RATE DOWN IN MY ALREADY ROUGH AS TOAST AREA YOU SEE IT IS NOT BRAINS I NEED IT IS BRAWN AND A FIGHTING HEART BASICALLY I WONT THE KIDS WHO THE TEACHERS SAY HAVE NO HOPE AND I WAS AND LIVE IN THE COMMUNITY ALL MY LIFE I KNOW THE KIDS THAT ARE DESTINED FOR A LIFE OF CRIME AS I WAS BROUGHT UP WITH THEIR PARENTS THE ONLY REASON THEY GO TO CRIME IS BECAUSE THEY ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL JUST BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS ARE A WEE TAD ROTTEN BUT THAT COMES HAND IN HAND WITH BEING POOR IT DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO STEER CLEAR OF THESE FUTURE CRIMINALS AND THATS THE WAY IT IS I HAVE NOT “THROWN A BEVVY ON IT ” THAT IS HOW IT IS THE PLAN IS TO PAY THEM WHAT I CALL A ” WOW WAGE ” BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS AND HOPEFULLY THEY CAN LOOK AFTER THERE WAYWARD PARENTS AND HOPEFULLY THEY CAN CHANNEL THEIR KNOWLEDGE FOR ME THIS IS WHERE THE DIAMONDS ARE IN THE DIRT PEOPLE SAY I AM CRAZY BUT AS IT SO HAPPENS IT WOULD BE A SIN NOT TO PUSH FOR IT WITH THE FORWARD MOMENTUM I FEEL AROUND ME last but not least i must say it when i was a kid”I USED TO WANT TO BE YOU BUT I DON’T NO MORE I WANNA BE ME “IF YOU GET TO THIS WEE MESSAGE THINK OF US AND YOU WILL GET INTO HEAVEN THANKS
JDGO 2 days ago
Great advise sir,
RadoslavVujaklija 2 days ago
Yeah kick it sir Branson!!!
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What to consider before you put a ring on it
Committing to a relationship with a VC is committing to the long-term. In romantic terms, it’s a marriage, not a casual drink or weekend getaway. In fact, venture capital/startup relationships last just as long as most marriages — around 7 or 8 years — and can be just as emotionally taxing.
Entrepreneurs often struggle to feel confident when they are presenting to VCs. Pitching your startup can be as nerve-wracking as waiting at the bar for a blind date, and what VCs want can seem as mysterious as members of the opposite sex. Entrepreneurs are reluctant to ask important questions because they are afraid of scaring the potential partner away, but the answers to those questions could seriously impact the happiness and fruitfulness of your “life” together. Startup life means there are a lot of ups and downs, but the downs don’t mean you should settle for a ‘safe’ VC choice. Everybody deserves somebody. As with significant others, you want someone who sees the unique positives in you, not the generic negatives.
What VCs care most about is how much their investment will be worth, or equity value. This leads to the question facing all entrepreneurs — how do you build equity value? Revenue is a metric (and an important one), but not the metric. Other factors include market leadership, unique IP/capabilities, disruption in a big market, and an A+ technology team. The right “fit” isn’t the same for everyone. What works for one person or startup may not work for another. Here are 5 things to consider before entering the bonds of venture capital funding.
1. Know your value as a partner
As the philosopher Beyonce says, “If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it.” A great start to a marriage or partnership of any kind is when both sides feel they lucked out and are excited about the commitment. Find someone who appreciates the potential of your business and what you have to offer. As a founder, you are giving away your most prized asset — your equity. The VCs are buying a piece of a company that they believe has value. It is important to remember your self-worth and your company’s value before you embark upon a relationship . This is a much more compelling approach than “I hope someone gives me money,” because desperation doesn’t look good on anybody.
It is also important not to have baggage walking into the partnership. Plenty of entrepreneurs play hard to get in the beginning, but as soon as you commit, the games should be over. You don’t want to spend years explaining or justifying yourself. A strong relationship means being honest and appreciative of each other. This also means it is important to be on the same page about terms, so everyone feels they got a fair deal. For example, Carbonite really loved working with us at Menlo Ventures because the investment was fair on both sides and we said ‘I do’ with a clean slate. In a strong VC-startup relationship, both parties want the other to succeed. Mutual respect and excitement should come before a ring.
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This is part of a series. Check out the companion piece: BuzzFeed’s Guide To Viral Content (Cats Optional, But Encouraged)
There are certain websites, writers, marketers and content creators who seem to rule the internet. Everything they put out there seems contagious, capturing an audience of millions and sparking conversations on social media.
These days, unpacking the secrets to viral success has been the mission of researchers, media organizations and businesses alike. After all, infectious content leads to major rewards in the form of readers, subscribers, advertisers, raising awareness for an important issue, brand recognition and financial success.
If you’re looking for ways get people talking, check out these 10 strategies from the experts themselves.
“Grumpy Guide To Life: Observations From Grumpy Cat” Book Event At Indigo
Grumpy cat. (George Pimentel/WireImage)
1. Write good content
Bottom line: Tell a good story and tell it well. Readers quickly abandon stories with weak content and bad writing.
Begin by making sure your story clearly communicates the five W’s: Who? What? Where? When? Why? This grounds your reader in the story’s basic premise and why it matters.
Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, co-authors of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, explain in a recent Harvard Business Review article that stories should accomplish one of a number of tasks: explain what happened, explain what something means, explain how to do something or surprise the reader.
2. Elicit strong emotions – positive is better than negative
Stories that evoke intense emotions tend to drive popularity, according to a 2011 study by University of Pennsylvania professors.
Content that triggers “high-arousal” emotions performs better online, whether those emotions are positive (like awe) or negative (like anger or anxiety). Whereas content that sparks “low-arousal” emotions (like sadness) is less viral, write Professors Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman, who studied the viral nature of New York Times articles over a three-month period. And though there’s much complexity at play, in general, “positive content is more viral than negative content.”
When Jack Shepherd, editorial director at BuzzFeed, wrote 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity, it generated millions of hits. The list evoked the emotion felt when “you’re in the presence of the triumph of the human spirit,” says Shepherd. Today it has 15.4 million views. (Full disclosure: Shepherd has been a friend for years.)
“When people share something like that, they’re not just sharing the story, they’re sharing the strong, positive emotional experience they had. You can’t really fake that,” says Shepherd. For more tips from Shepherd, check out the companion piece, BuzzFeed’s Guide To Viral Content (Cats Optional, But Encouraged).
3. Be brief
Get to the point quickly and keep the reader interested.
“Our experience is that the sweet spot for posts of curated content is two or three sentences on Google GOOGL +0.89%+ and Facebook and 100 characters on Twitter TWTR +1.62%,” say Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick.
“The sweet spot for created content is 500 to 1,000 words.”
4. Write irresistible headlines
Headlines are the gateway to a story – your one chance to pique your reader’s curiosity and convince them to stay with you. Headlines can make a story a smashing success or a total flop, even if the content is fantastic.
Capture your reader’s attention with headlines that
– Clearly and concisely state the article’s purpose
– Use intriguing adjectives
– Communicate the value and ease of the story
In other words, tell your readers upfront that they’ll be getting a lot out of your story with little effort on their part. (For example, my headline This One Smart Habit Can Slash Your Airfare told readers that they could save a lot of money by learning one habit. Tons of value and so simple.)
Twelveskip.com offers this list of eye-catching title templates that will help you develop great headlines.
5. Be visual
Visual content increases engagement. So pair that compelling headline with a striking visual. Always. This is key to capturing reader interest.
Buzzsumo, a content analytics company, found that having at least one image in a Facebook or Twitter post leads to an average of twice as many shares compared to a post without images. A study by content marketer Skyword found a similar correlation between images and engagement, write Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick. “Total views of its clients’ content increased by 94% if a published article contained a relevant photograph or infographic, when compared to articles without an image in the same category,” the co-authors write.
6. Play the numbers game
The more you post, the greater your chances at going viral. Neetzan Zimmerman, who the Wall Street Journal called possibly “the most popular blogger working on the Web today” blogged for Gawker until 2014 and routinely drew the most unique visitors to the popular site. In an interview with HubSpot.com, Zimmerman shared that he posts 10 to 15 times per day. Not every post went viral, but the larger the volume of stories, the greater the chances of one taking off.
And don’t stop once your work is out there. Promote it actively on social media and do so repeatedly on different days at different times so you can capture different audiences. Tailor your posts for the social media platform.
Sure, you may lose some followers who don’t like repeat shares. But Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick found that this practice pays off. “When we decided to test the effect of repetition by sharing four identical posts with four different links to track clicks, we got about 1,300 clicks on the first, roughly the same on the second, 2,300 on the third and 2,700 on the fourth, for a total of 7,600 clicks. Would you be willing to risk complaints about repeated tweets to achieve 5.8 times more clicks?”
7. Play nice with others
Give credit where it’s due by linking to sources you site in your articles. “Links send traffic to the source as an act of gratitude; enable readers to learn more from the source; and increase your visibility and popularity with bloggers and websites,” write Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick.
And keep the gratitude flowing after your work is out there. Thank and retweet those who tweet your content. Follow them back. Retweet and favorite their stories. Offer thoughtful comments. Be engaged.
8. Study your stats
Check out how your stories compare against each other. What works? Why?
Pay attention to the stories that flopped and think about tweaks that could have made them better.
9. Time the release of your stories
Zimmerman recommends posting at 9 a.m. and noon EST. At 9 a.m. you’ll capture workers reluctant to dive into work at the start of the day.
At noon, you’ll capture West Coast workers arriving to the office and East Coast workers on their lunch break.
10. Give the reader a practical takeaway
You’ve written a compelling story with an irresistible headline. Now read over it and make sure it includes practical, actionable takeaways.
A key component of contagious content is getting readers to share content with their friends and followers. And since everyone from journalists and marketers to high school students to your aunt on Facebook is crafting their online brand, readers are more likely to share material that they find useful and makes them look good.
Demonstrate the value of your content, and watch your numbers soar.
Deborah Jian Lee is a journalist, radio producer and author of a forthcoming book about progressive evangelicals (Beacon Press). Follow her @deborahjianlee. Visit her website http://www.deborahjianlee.com.
As a child my parents taught me almost nothing at all about money. (Other than earn and save it.) Despite the fact that my father was a successful tool and die maker, an inventor, and had owned and sold his business (at a nice profit) I nevertheless received a very scant education in money matters.
I remember many times, seeing my parents doing their taxes and asking them, “teach me about taxes, teach me about money, and how this works.”
They always basically told me, “You’re a child, you don’t need to worry about this right now, you’ll learn about this when you grow up – on your own.”
I guess that was simply the Weltanschauung of their generation and age. It is, however, not mine.
Because of that when I entered college, and for the rest of my life, I have been learning about business, capital, Capitalism, economics, finance, investment, money, and all other related money-matters. Money is a big part of my Personal-Education Plan (PEP Program), and my self developed IEA (Individual Education Account).
When I first got married I realized pretty quickly that my wife had no idea about money, how it operated, or why it worked as it did. She, likewise, had little to no real education on money matters from her parents either.
Determined not to let financial ignorance and bad money management work against her, me, our marriage, or in the lives of my children I have developed Economic and Monetary Educational Materials to use for their instructional benefit. Since I homeschooled my children for their entire primary educational period (pre-college) I made sure to incorporate both basic and advanced course materials on budgeting, business, Capitalism, career, economics, entrepreneurship, finances, investment, profit, etc. I also make sure they practice what they learn. Both are far better at money matters than I was at their age.
I am to the point now that regardless of what happens to me I feel confident that they are in possession of enough useful materials, and have been trained and habituated in such a way as to assure they will be successful in their own businesses, careers, and with money.
Below you will find a very basic summary of the most fundamental things I have taught them concerning money. They are well advanced beyond these simple ideas, but, in starting any venture it is always necessary to begin with the fundamentals. Often, over the course of time, it is necessary to return to the fundamentals as well.
Beneath the section on Money and Power 101 is a short document I developed regarding the Hoards I believe each person should develop over their lifetimes and how to employ and use these Hoards.
This “List of Hoards” is hardly exhaustive, but it does include most of the Hoards I consider most basic, except for the Word Hoard. Which technically could be a part of your Charisma Hoard, but really I consider a person’s language, linguistic, and vocabulary (Word) hoards to be an entirely separate set of treasures.
I offer these posts in the hopes that they may assist you, especially if you are just starting out in the world, to master your own Money and to develop the Hoards that you will find most useful.
I do not insist you necessarily agree with my definitions, but I do urge you to make your own studies of Money and the Power it engenders, I do urge you to master Money (rather than be mastered by it, wither as a poverty-stricken person or as a wealthy person), and I do urge you to develop and grow your own Hoards.
You will thank yourself for such efforts later on in life, and very likely the world will thank you for having made such efforts.
Comments are welcome.
MONEY AND POWER 101
MONEY is the financial power to do as you need and wish in the world. The more money your have the more power you have, the less money you have the less power you have.
SURPLUS is the amount of anything you have in excess to your actual or current needs. Your surplus should always be as great as possible of imperishable items.
PROFIT is the amount of money earned or generated in excess of expenditures.
INSURANCE is a money pool set aside for emergencies. If possible it is best to self-insure.
TAXES are the amount of money lost or exhausted to an individual by being seized by the government.
EARNINGS are the amount of money you generate for yourself through various actions of Work. Earnings are divided into three separate subcategories.
Income is the total amount of earnings one generates through all earnings sources. Originally it was that income (come-in) generated by investments.
Investments is the amount of earnings generated by whatever vehicles one is invested (vested) in. Investments are earnings or income vehicles generated by Risk.
Salaries or Wages is the amount of earnings generated by working for or laboring for others paid in the form of salary or wages. (Time or Work for money.)
SAVINGS – the amount of money already earned but not invested or spent but retained for long term goals or for emergencies.
EXPENDITURES – all monies spent to buy or pay for non-income producing items or services
Bills and Living Expenses – those monies paid to creditors or service providers for goods and services purchased. Bills and Living Expenses are monies lost to others.
Necessities – those monies expended for all goods and services of a necessary nature: food, shelter, power, necessary maintenance, etc.
Emergencies – those monies expended for emergencies and immediately unforeseen expenses, such as medical bills and repairs.
Entertainment – those mines expended for entertainment, recreation, etc.
GIVING – all monies given to the care and well-being of others to service their needs, also any resources given to others for their support.
Charity – giving to Church and/or Charitable causes with the intention of supporting the long term needs of an individual or an organization.
Philanthropy – giving to humane and other causes with the intent of addressing or solving specific needs or problems or projects. For instance one might found or support a philanthropic enterprise to support literacy, to build a hospital, to fund a scholarship, etc.
PREPARATION – always keep your money growing, in motion, invested, and in use for worthwhile things. Always plan as far ahead as possible regarding expenditures to be made. Always have accurate and complete information about all aspect s of your money and how it will be used.
RISK – all enterprises require risk. Risk is the amount of danger required to service a worthwhile enterprise or investment relative to the potential reward or Return on Investment (ROI) the enterprise or investment will generate (in the case of business, financial, and monetary activity). Generally speaking the higher the risk the greater the return or reward, and the lower the risk the lower the return or reward. However measures should always be taken to favorably mitigate risk as much as possible.
REWARD – is the amount of gain generated by the successful conclusion or progress of a worthwhile Risk. Another term that is synonymous with reward in financial and monetary matters is Return on Investment, which is a measure of gain generated by risk relative to the danger of initial loss of the initial loss of the investment.
MONEY – having more than enough money needed to meet all of your needs and the needs of others should make you happy. Making money should make you happy, and having a large surplus of money should be associated with pleasant thoughts and feelings and with security. Money is a personal, physical, financial, economic, psychological, social, and spiritual force, or power, and should be treated and employed as such. Money should not master a man, either by having too little, or by being consumed and over-powered by it. Money is a servant, not a Lord.
CAPITALISM – is that form of economic activity, or that system of economics, that seeks to build and generate Capital Pools, or reserves of money, that can thereafter be employed to build businesses, funneled into investments, grow and expand enterprises, etc. and thereby generate even more Capital and ever larger reserves of Profits. Capitalism depends on the fact that money is constantly invested and employed and that new ventures and enterprises are continually started and grown so as to continually create New Wealth. Capitalism also depends heavily upon Free and Unfettered Markets.
Always make ongoing use of and constantly develop your hoards for an unused hoard is useless and an undeveloped hoard has no value.
ABILITY HOARD – every ability, capability, skill, and talent that a person possesses and develops in life
ACHIEVEMENT HOARD – every good and worthwhile achievement or enterprise that a person ever accomplishes
CHARISMA HOARD – all beneficial influence and powers of persuasion an individual possesses to sway others to participate in worthwhile endeavors
CHARITY AND PHILANTHROPY HOARD – all charitable and philanthropic works that one engages in to assist others
CREATION AND WORK HOARD – everything of value that a person creates, and all of the valuable Work that one ever does over the course of life.
ESTATE AND LAND HOARD – all estates, lands, and real properties that one owns or controls
INVESTMENT HOARD – all good and profitable investments that a person is engaged in or is participating in
RELATIONSHIP HOARD – all beneficial relationships which an individual may rely upon for advancement, comfort, friendship, and support
TREASURE HOARD – all objects, things, or possessions that are of economic, monetary, and physical value
VIRTUE HOARD – all of the Virtues that a person possesses and can command within his person
BLESSINGS, HEIRLOOMS, LEGACIES, AND INHERITANCE – all of the blessings, heirlooms, legacies, and inheritances passed down by one individual or one generation to another
I am not a particular fan of modern branding. Or I should say, the modern idea that branding should be a separate entity from the person or individual it brands.
Or to be even more accurate that a brand is something the person who developed the brand submits himself or herself to, regardless of whether the “Brand” actually and accurately reflects the individual’s nature, or whether the brand is upright, honest, and honorable. (Or for that matter whether the person behind the brand is upright, honest, and honorable.) This is not even to mention the modern idea that somehow a brand is a thing in itself and has some sort of imagined or separate value devoid of any real product or service backing the brand. Which is to me the real danger and disaster of so much modern “branding,” the idea that the brand is a thing of value in itself even when it has nothing of real value to back the brand.
However, that being said branding has always existed and always will. From Standard Oil/Petroleum to Walmart. From Old Farmer’s Almanac to SpaceX.
The question to me is not whether “branding exists” (either in modern form or in ancient form), or whether much of what passes as advice on modern branding is worthwhile or not (I suspect much of it is not, being construed in the way it is), but how to best go about the idea and process of developing and promoting your own brand.
Therefore, based upon my own experience with my personal process of having developed my own brands in the past, and with my current process of developing my own brand as both a writer of fiction and as an inventor, below is my advice regarding how to go about setting up your own brand, the types of things you should concern yourself with in creating your brand, and finally with the attributes your brand should encompass.
As for the final section of this post, your Personal Brand Attributes – these are, of course, the specific attributes and characteristics of your brand and what you want that brand to both entail and promote. It will vary with each person and each brand.
Some brands may focus upon customer service, some upon high quality product development, some upon rapidity of product delivery, some upon entirely unique collaborative or customer design. Whatever the particulars of your case may be develop a list of attributes you want your brand and/or your company to encapsulate. And work to achieve and make these attributes real in the body of your brand.
My list of Personal Brand Attributes for my Writings I have listed in this section. Many would be the same but some would be different for my business and for my inventions.
You cannot, of course, encompass all beneficial qualities of a thing in a single brand because certain attributes are competitive and resource consuming in nature (add to one and you basically subtract from another) but there is absolutely no reason your brand, be it personal or corporate, cannot encompass many beneficial qualities and attributes.
As a matter of fact, it should.