Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to change someone's behavior in one second

Impossible? As I talked about in my last blog, I'm currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the chapters in the book talks about changing someone's point of view. The author, Stephen Covey, uses a story as an allegory for this shift. Here is a brief recap.

Stephen Covey talks about a time that he was riding on the subway. He was sitting reading when a gentleman got on the train with three small children. The new man sat down, stared blankly forward, and didn't say a word. His children, however, weren't so peaceful. They began running up and down the subway car, hooting and hollering like mad banshees.

At first he tried to ignore the situation, but eventually it became too much for him to bear. The children were bumping into other riders, knocking over briefcases, and causing all kinds of chaos.

Finally he had enough, he said to the man, "Sir, you have to do something about these kids. They're way out of control!"

The man seemed to snap out of a daze. He looked over at the children running rampant, and then back at Stephen Covey. "Yes", he said, "I'm so sorry about that. See, their mother, my wife, just passed away last night. We are heading back home. I guess they don't know how to handle what has happened, and to be honest with you, neither do I".


Feel like a total jerk? So did I.

So what changed? The children were still acting in a distracting way. The father was still doing nothing to rein them in. So what changed? Your perspective changed. The insight that you now had as to what this man was going through changed. In a split second your entire outlook on this man was forever altered. I've heard it said that: To know all, is to forgive all.

How to put this into effect? This past spring I coached my son's flag football team. It was a 10-12 league, and we sadly had almost all 10 year olds. Two years when you're talking that age really matters, so we didn't do all that well in the win/loss aspect of the game.

They also weren't terribly interested in football as well, which proved to be frustrating. By the end of the season I had all but given up. Sure I could get them to learn the basics of a few plays, but I could not get them to grasp the concepts of why we were doing what we were doing. I was probably expecting too much from them.

I had one child in particular that I had a hard time keeping involved. If I wasn't on him the entire practice his gaze would stray and he'd begin to focus on anything other than what we were doing. It was most troublesome because he was actually one of the most talented kids! So as the season was winding down I completely changed my strategy.

I stopped trying to rein them in. I stopped trying to keep them focused on the practice. Guess what happened? My space cadet turned into a drill instructor! He couldn't stand the madness that started swirling around him. He started barking orders, demanding that everyone get their head's in the game. I had tried all season to get a response like this, and what had it taken for me to get what I wanted? I had to stop trying to get what I wanted.

The moral? It's easier to change someone's perspective than it is to change them. Someone not following orders? Put them in charge. Someone not pulling their weight? Take it away from them and see what they do.

If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems are going to start looking like nails. That is just not how it works with people. Different people require different management approaches. Best to familiarize yourself with several different kinds so that you can scroll through them to see what gets you the best response.

In the long run it will save you time and headache. And isn't that the point?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't kill your Golden Goose

A monkeyI'm currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It's a fantastic book, and several things have already caught my eye. I intend to write about a few independently, and then I will do an overall review of the book. One of the sections in the book that most intrigued me deals with the moral behind the Aesop story of the golden goose. It's one of Aesop's best know fables. It's a short story, here it is in its entirety.

A man and his wife had the good fortune to possess a goose which laid a golden egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it. Then, they thought, they could obtain the whole store of precious metal at once; however, upon cutting the goose open, they found its innards to be like that of any other goose.

The writer of 7 Habits, Stephen R. Covey, relates this to business in a story he tells in the book. He talks about a seafood restaurant on the east coast that he use to frequent. They had the best clam chowder around. People would stand in line for an hour to get some of their delicious soup. Business was booming.

The restaurant was then sold to someone else. They kept the name and menu the same, so no one on the outside was aware of the change.

The new owners loved the business they were getting, but they were upset to learn the high cost involved in making their prized soup.

It used all the best ingredients, and the best is always costly. So the new owners got a 'bright' idea and decided to use cheaper products in their soup. They thinned it out, watered it down.

Bingo! Now not only was business booming, but their income was shooting through the roof! They were making the soup for a fraction of the cost, and for the first couple weeks no one was the wiser. They of course noticed that the soup was now mediocre at best, but they just attributed it to a natural bad batch. They had come here for a long time, they loved the soup.

But after two or three trips back, after inevitable word of mouth, slowly people stopped coming back. There was nothing to come back for.

In the short term the new owners had doubled, even tripled their profits. In the long run they had torpedoed their own business. They had killed their golden goose.

If you are trading short term success for long term hardship, you are engaged in bad business. Treat your golden goose like the asset that it is. Care for it, nurture it. Instead of bleeding it dry, once you have found a moneymaker go back out and search for another one. If you want ten golden eggs a day, find ten consistent assets. Don't try and get all ten from that one. It will tax and ultimately destroy your cash flow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raising the Bar Book Review

Looking for the best business books to get me started led to many different results. Books, like anything else, are highly subjective. I've yet to find a book on starting a business that is universally loved.

Raising the Bar is the story of Gary Erickson, the founder of Clif Bar. Hence the play on words in the title, Raising the Bar. A+ job on the title, all in all it might be my favorite thing about that book. Highly clever.

His book showed up on numerous lists. I actually got this audio book from the local library, and I chose it because Think and Grow Rich and Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies were not available. Just the truth people.

The first part of the book chronicles the birth of Clif Bar. How he came up with the idea, what his initial start up was, and how he went about getting the company off the ground. I found this part to be extremely interesting. He comes across as sincere and presents the story warts and all.

His company became successful quickly and before he knew it his partner decided they needed to sell the business. She was sure they wouldn't be able to compete with the big boys. He reluctantly agreed, and just like that he was staring down a $120 million dollar sale to a large company. That was $60 million bucks in his pocket, all he had to do was sign the papers...

He couldn't though. He couldn't walk away from his company, it meant too much to him. His partner however refused to budge. She demanded he buy her out or she would let the company dissolve. He ultimately bought her out and was able to obtain 100% ownership of his business. Which apparently is quite the rare feat when you are talking about a business worth that much. From what I have read, staying private is not easy when you get into that rare air.

This part of the book was great. It really brought the idea home that you needed to be very careful when it comes to choosing your business partners. Once the partnership is formed, it is hard to undo. If you vision of the company grows apart, if there can be no agreed upon compromise, you really face dissolution or buying your partner(s) out.

I also related to the love he talked about in regards to his company. Just a few months into our business quest and I already think of our company as my third child. It's not even technically born yet, but myself and my business partner are doing all the prenatal care to make for a smooth delivery. I was on vacation a week ago, and while lounging on the beach I found myself missing the company. Missing the work I was doing to bring it to life. Make no mistake, it is hard work that makes me crazy at times, but it is also extremely fulfilling work. When I finish a video, a flash program, a webpage, a banner, it is very gratifying. Once it is done, it's done forever. Hopefully to be enjoyed by the world...although my Google Analytics suggests it is mostly me at this point.

The rest of the book sadly does not follow the same theme as the start. The author instead moves into talking about his bike adventures in Europe, his rock climbing, his music playing, and he talks ad nauseum about his company's environmental work. Don't get me wrong, I love the ozone layer and polar bears as much as the next guy, but not when I'm trying to learn about business.

I understand that he is trying to use his stories as an allegory for his business views and practices, but it comes off as a little self serving. He seems smugly pleased with himself, and at some points it becomes a little much. I respect his environmental awareness and sustainability efforts, but it just does not apply to where I am at now in my company building. And because of that, it became hard to get through.

A great opening set a high bar, no pun intended, for the rest of the book to follow. In my opinion it couldn't keep the pace and it changed from a business book into a biography. A biography of a guy whose interests include: bike riding, rock climbing, and trumpet playing. Not one of those things interest me.

Saying that, I still am glad that I read this book. The love he shows for his company was inspiring. His experience with his partners was eye opening. His words on running a company your own way struck a chord with me. I just wish I would have stopped about half way through the book so I could have read something else about business as opposed to things about recreational activities that I don't care about.

If you like bike riding and rock climbing AND you are interested in reading a business book at the same time, then this will probably be the greatest book you have ever read. If not, hit your local library and just read the first half. It was definitely worth that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How I increased my Google keywords

In a past blog I talked about the problems I had inserting probable keyword searches for the website I built for my mother-in-law. She runs a pet sitting business, and while I had numerous pet sitter/sitting keywords scattered throughout, I had virtually no area keywords that someone looking for a pet sitter would type into a search engine to find one.

Building a website is complicated work. It takes a lot of structural planning. Trying to go back through and randomly stick cities into your pages to boost your keywords is not easy. Junks up the pages, looks very forced.

Solution I came up with?

Testimonials and pictures! Yes sir, I had about half a dozen testimonials and a handful of pictures that were already on the site. I went back through and added the location of the person writing the review/where the pet was from on the pages. I've been able to triple my area keywords since my last crawl. I'm still getting more pictures to put up, I think at this rate I'll be able to increase my area keywords ten fold when all is said and done. Not too shabby, and I didn't have to butcher the site to get them in.

Keywords are vital, finding creative ways to get the important ones in there to appeal to search engines is crucial in building a website. Keep this in mind before you start building, it's easier to plan ahead than it is to try and rearrange the entire site after your first Google crawl.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gone for a week, and why Fedor lost

Vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Back in a week, I know this will be quite hard on my two followers. Try to maintain guys!

Btw, holy crap Fedor lost. After he pulled out of that first armbar attempt he was trying to pass around to the side and he got stuck on the cage. I don't think he trains with a cage, and because of that Werdum was able to suck him back in with that triangle. When Abu Dhabi champions lock in triangles, you tap out. Fedor or not. What most depressed me was now I don't get to see him fight Overeem. Booo.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book review of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Many people will tell you that this is the best self help book ever written. Others would say that it is the best relationship book ever written. Some will even say that this is the best business book ever written. Just the fact that it can fall into so many categories shows the magnitude of scope Dale Carnegie was able to craft with this work.

This book is over 60 years old, yet the insights Carnegie shares seem so self evident that it reads like it could have been published yesterday. This is a timeless work, a masterpiece in every aspect.

Carnegie delves into the lives of political, spiritual, historical, and even business figures to examine why they were able to command such a loving respect from their followers.

This book is a quote lover's dream. There are dozens of wonderful lines taken from some of the most influential people of all time. From the Buddha to Abraham Lincoln. Carnegie blends them all together in a way that tells a story about how to apply them into your everyday life.

I will focus this blog on the part that most struck me. That being the 6 things you can do to make people like you.

1. Be interested in people.

Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you hate people, any relationship book isn't for you. You might instead want to look inward and figure out why you have so much undirected anger. To the others, what is not to be interested with in people? They're fascinating!

People do all kinds of crazy crap. From acts of true kindness to deeds of pure evil, all of it enthralls me. Get interested in people and you will never be bored again. There's just too much material. Whether you're reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin or trying to figure out why your co-workers are so strange, get yourself interested in people.

Interested is interesting. No one wants to associate with those that would just assume that the world population disappear tomorrow.

2. Smile.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. -Phyllis Diller

A smile says, "I like you." People want to be liked, and a smile is a clear sign that someone has brightened your day. It is disarming; smiles radiate warmth.

More than just smiling, be positive and happy. Do you like hanging out with miserable people? Of course not, and if you mope around glumly all day no one will like being around you either. People have enough doom and gloom without having to deal with Debbie Downer being the fun governor on everyone's day.

Smile, it's free. And who knows, maybe if you pretend to be happy and positive long enough you might just trick yourself into believing it. How awful to be happy all the time, huh?

Boethius said, "So nothing is miserable except when you think it so, and vice versa, all luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity."

Which Shakespeare turned into, "Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so."

To which Lincoln summed up precisely as, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Wise men, wise words.

3. Remember people's names.

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! -John Proctor, The Crucible

I hear all the time people say, "I'm horrible at remembering names!" Well then put more effort into it. The next time someone introduces themself to you, focus more on their name than on trying to think up something to say to make you seem interesting. Stop worrying about yourself, everyone is doing the same thing, so it's ok for you to stop. No one will notice, I promise.

Instead when you meet someone, look them in the eye, and say, "Nice to meet you (Insert their name here)." Saying a name ingrains it in your mind. When they walk away, tell yourself, "That was this person, and they like this this and this." Anytime you get a chance, greet them with their name.

There is no sweeter sound in the world than a person's own name. Repetition leads to memorization, use names.

4. Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves.

Nothing interests me more than me. -Me

No one wants to hear your stories more than they want to tell their stories. That's just a fact. Ask a question, laugh at their jokes, enjoy the experience of them opening up to you. It is a gift, don't take it for granted. Once you're fast friends you can share your stories. It's bullish to try and dominate a conversation. Listen and ask first.

I talked for an hour the other day to someone at a BBQ about his stain glass hobby. It was interesting to hear about what he had to say even though I knew nothing of the particular subject. I asked questions, nodded in approval, smiled when he said something amusing. When we left he couldn't stop talking about how great of a conversationalist I am. I had barely said a word.

Let others talk, it is easier and more likely to make people enjoy your company.

5. Talk in terms that interest the other person.

It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual. -Jeremy Bentham

I love mixed martial arts. I do jiu jitsu, box a little, and work out weekly. No one outside of those who share my interests want to hear about that. They'd much rather talk about the things that interest them.

You need to lead conversations in directions that flow to the interests of those you are conversing with. It will make them feel more comfortable and get them to open up It will make them like you.

6. Make other people feel important.

bout twenty years ago, when our married daughters were in elementary school, they had a bicycle accident. Jo Ellen, our oldest, lost control of her bike and ran into her sister, Amanda, who was standing right in her path. Suddenly the front fender of the bike slid rather abruptly between Amanda’s fingers, and left a sizable gash that required several stitches.

The thing I remember most about the incident took place after we returned from the doctor. Amanda stood in our den, held up her bandaged fingers and, with absolute innocence and candor, declared, “Now I finally have something important to talk about!” -The Importance of Feeling Important. by Terry L. Sumerlin

From climbing mountains to writing symphonies, people perform grandiose acts every day with the sole desire to feel important. No drug is so addictive as that of needing to be valued. When people talk to you, give them your true attention. Looking over their shoulder to see if there is someone better for you to be talking to is no way to endear yourself to someone.

Anyone you talk to has done something important, whether it be big or small. Find what that is, ask them about it, and then let them know how important you think that action was. They will like you, because you made them feel important.

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." -Dale Carnegie

Sound like one big ass kiss? Then you missed the whole point. The point is to genuinely like and enjoy people. If you do, these things will not be acts you have to put on, they'll be sincere actions you perform.

Find the positive in a person and focus a laser of praise and attention on that and they will open up to you like a flower welcoming the sun. Be a bright force in the world, build up, don't tear down. There's enough negativity out there, do your best to consciously not add to it.

Do I practice what I preach? No way, but I sure try to. Some days it doesn't work, some people just piss you off. But being aware that you're really trying to make an effort to improve yourself is an investment that will always pay hearty dividends. In the long run it will make you a happier person, and that should always be a goal in life.

If you give this book a chance it will change your life. I just recently re-read it, and once again I was instantly treating people kinder. In the end, I'm treating people in a way that I wish to be treated.

I think someone made a rule about that somewhere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"I've never heard that question before." --The Anonymous Salesman

I've never heard that question before.

As a consumer, have you ever had a salesman say that to you? Surprising how many times we hear it, considering that it is the first time they've ever heard it, huh? Why would that be?

It's because that is a stock salesman line, that's why. It's designed to cut off your line of questioning, make you feel foolish for asking it.

I remember on my honeymoon when I was hoodwinked into listening to a timeshare sales pitch. There was no way I was ever going to buy a timeshare, but the nice guy at my cabana who always called me "my new friend" convinced me to give them a chance. What can I say, I'm a sucker for new friends. I even told the timeshare guy up front, "look, there's zero chance I'm going to buy this today." He laughed, "of course not, but I get paid just to do the process, so just humor me please!"

An hour later I was getting the hard sell. Wasn't this too good of a deal to pass up? It was a good deal, a great deal even, but here was the rub: I had no idea if they were being on the level with me. I told them flat out, "I'm not going to buy anything this expensive without doing my due diligence in research. I'm just not that guy." "But why not", they said, "you agree it's a great deal." "Yes, but it's your deal", I told them, "and I intend to make sure you're telling me the truth."

His reply? "Wow, I've never heard that one before." Sure.

Skip ahead to last year, time to buy my wife a new car. Researched the msrp, checked consumer reports, prepared my bargaining chips. Working with the dealer for the best price, I asked them about the dealer holdback money. How about throwing some of that my way to sweeten the deal? His response? "Well I've never heard that one before". Go figure, I have. The next two dealership I went to tossed me some of the holdback. I wouldn't have minded being told no. I didn't appreciate them acting like I was demanding a free hot tub with my car.

Fast forward to just recently. It's time for me to replace the windows in my home. Being in Michigan we get hot in the summer, and real cold in the winter. My house has 30 year old windows with aluminum frames. So winter or summer, my house is bleeding energy money.

First guy shows up for a free estimate, he's the guy who is going to convince me that fiberglass is the way to go. Vinyl is crap, wood is a pain, fiberglass is 50 years of window bliss. Afterall, it expands and contracts just like glass, and you can customize it! Sounds great, I'll give him credit for having a good pitch.

So let's talk reality, what is the damage here? 11 windows in my house, cost to replace all? $15,000. That's a tad, read: an obscene amount, higher than I'm going to pay. But don't worry, there's a special! (When isn't there a special?) I can get 25% off, and if I buy today I can get another 10% off. And get this, he'll do me a solid and knock a couple grand more off, and he'll pay my sales tax! (Love that pitch, how about you just knock the money off and I'll pay less tax, how about that?) Now my price is $11,000. That's a thousand dollars a window, still over what I'm going to pay. Unless the windows are going to mow my yard and take out my garbage, I'm not paying that.

So I tell him he's still high, and he becomes obstinate. Didn't his windows sound great? Was a 50 year warranty a great deal? "Sure", I told him, "but it's your deal and you're here to sell me your product. Of course you told me fiberglass was the only way to go, it's the only thing you have to sell me. I was going to have to research this, see if fiberglass was really worth the extra money." "Maybe it was", I told him, "but until had done my homework I wasn't going to buy anything. No matter what he told me."

He then stopped me and let me know that he didn't think that he needed to do this, but he had literature to back up what he had said. To prove his point. "Yes, but it's your literature to sell your product", I told him. "Oh no", he said. "It's not my literature!"

"Look", I said, "It's not mine, so since there are only two of us here it has to be yours." I decided to make the conclusion that it didn't belong to either of my two dogs.

Now he was flummoxed. How could I not believe him. He had never heard this one before! Jackpot. 22 years he had been doing this, and he had never heard this before. Funny, because I hear that line all the time from salesmen. They tell it to me to try and make me feel stupid for asking a question they can't answer. How can you ask that! No one asks that!

And with that, it was time for him to go. Because I have heard that before, and once I hear it, the gloves are off. I told him I had his offer and would look into it. To improve on his already fantastic job of selling me, he then packed up his stuff and told me, "I guess I won't tell you the lower price I was going to offer, you're just not interested."

Really? So now it turns out the price I was quoted before as his best price was just a ruse, huh? Not exactly the way to get a call back sale. He also mentioned that a relative of mine that had gotten fiberglass windows from them was probably over charged. Another nice bit of information, thanks.

So he left, I researched, his $1,000 a window price was high. I'm sure he would've come down, and I still might have to barter with him, but he didn't do himself any favors with his demeanor. When a potential customer disagrees with you, the only way to pull them back in is to agree with them. This is Dale Carnegie 101. If he had said, "Of course you're right! Who in their right mind would make a purchase this size without researching it!" He could've kept working me and building my appetite for his product. All the time improving his chance on me buying from him. Instead, he chose to go with the "I've never heard that question before!" approach, and he's probably out of a sale because of it. And definitely out a positive experience and any kind of potential word of mouth advertising.

In my next blog I'll discuss some more Carnegie 101 with a review of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Talk soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My pure CSS Vertical Menu

Maybe my pure CSS Vertical Menu is a little misleading, being that I took the majority of it from this site, but I did have to make a few tweaks to it to make it function the way I wanted to for the website I was building. It took quite a bit of digging to find the information to make it work, so I thought I'd share that with you to try and ease potential troubles you might be experiencing.

This is the menu I built for my mother-in-law's business Carol's Creature Care. Here is the link that will show you what the menu will look like standing alone, just the menu and a stock dreamweaver template.

Pure CSS Vertical Menu Finalized page.

Here is a link that shows the html portion of this and the CSS code.

Piece of cake, yes? Not for me it wasn't. As I said earlier, I built the CSS menu using the code at this website. Here is what that menu ends up looking like on a stock dreamweaver template.

Click here to see it.

The problem was when I tried to put this code into use on the website I was building, this is what ended up taking place. Click here to see.

As you can see, it turned out looking like garbage. The links that didn't have a sub menu showed as normal html links. They were underlined in my buttons, and they started off as blue when unclicked and then changed to purple once selected. They acted just like normal html links.

So how did I get it to go from looking like garbage here to looking like a normal vertical menu here?

The first thing I had to do was create a style rule to keep my links white before they were clicked on, and for them to continue to stay white after they were clicked on. I did this by adding in this code before my menu. Click here to see the html.

After doing that, my vertical menu now looked like this, click here to see.

As you can see, it didn't completely solve my problem. So I made the last change required, I altered the html in the actual link itself to remove the underline effect of a link and to keep the color status of the link white at all times. Click here to see the html code.

There you have it. A pure css vertical menu. I probably made that ten times harder than it needed to be, but it works all the same. If anyone has an easier way to do it, I'd love to hear it. Please leave me a comment.

I hope this was helpful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A clean joke that is actually funny

Now that is a rarity! A clean joke that actually makes you laugh. Very important to have one of these in your mental pocket that you can pull out when the time calls for it. And away we go...

A cop pulls a man over for speeding. He approaches the driver and says, "Alright pal, let me see your license." The driver responds, "I don't have a license."

"What?", the cop says, "Well then let me see your registration, grab it from your glove compartment."

The driver replies, "I don't have a registration either, and all that is in the glove compartment is a gun!"

"A gun!?", the cop asks. "Why do you have a gun in your glove compartment"?

The driver exclaims, "I needed the gun to steal this car from the woman who was driving it. I currently have her tied up in the trunk."

The police officer has heard enough. He quickly radios for backup, a short time later the Police Chief shows up at the scene.

The Chief carefully approaches the driver. He states firmly, "Let me see your license."

"Of course", the driver says. And with that he hands the Police Chief his driver's license.

Confused, the Police Chief tells the man, "Show me your registration".

The man pops open his glove compartment, and all that is in there is his registration. He gives it over to the Police Chief.

The Chief is now totally bewildered. He roughly tells the driver, "Pop your trunk, I want to take a look in there."

The man complies and the Police Chief lifts open the trunk of the car. Nothing in there except for a spare tire and a jack. The Chief shakes his head and marches back to the driver.

He says to him, "This police officer told me that you didn't have a license, no registration, there was a gun in the glove compartment, and you had a woman tied up in your trunk...what do you have to say about all of this?"

The driver replies sarcastically, "Yeah, and I bet he said I was speeding too."

Ta-Da! A clean joke that is actually funny. A rare find indeed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book review of The E-Myth Revisited

While Rich Dad Poor Dad was more of a general "rah rah" get you into business mindset book, E-Myth is a focused nuts and bolts of running a business book.

The author, Michael E. Gerber, uses a relatable story of a small business owner experiencing trouble with her business. She could be anyone, it could be any business. This approach makes the book easy to read. It adds a human element that is often missing in a book in this category. Reading about dry business information makes my eyes hurt. However, I can read about people all day long.

The general message of the book shows the errors that entrepreneurs make when starting a new business. It then shows how you can go about avoiding common pitfalls, or if you're already in the quagmire, how to correct those mistakes.

Here is a starting fact from the book: 50% of all new small businesses fail in the first year. 80% fail in the first five years. And of those 20% that survive, 80% of them fail within ten years. Now guys I'll admit it, I'm a gambler. That being said, I'd never make a big bet laying those kind of odds. That's just bad money management. Yet here we are, trying to start a business and those are the odds we find ourselves butting up against.

Conversely, 75% of franchises opened succeed. How do you like that? A trend of epic failure, and a trend of 3 out of 4 making it. So as a non-franchised business, what are we to do? The E-Myth solution to this? Turn your business into a franchise.

To more correctly state it, treat your business like a franchise. Franchises have systems set in place that dictate how operations are handled. If you can build a system around your daily tasks, you can put into place a step-by-step guide to how you perform your business. Once it has been broken down as such, anyone with the proper training will be able to do it. You just built yourself out of your business. Enjoy being able to take a vacation while your business keeps generating you income.

There will be accountability. There will be defined jobs and roles. There will also be available the ability to stick people into those positions when your business begins to take off. E-Myth stresses the importance of visualizing the end game scenario of your business. That way when you do start to expand, good lord willing, you are ready for it. This is where an organizational chart will greatly come into play. I'll talk about that in a later post.

That's all the detail of the book that I can get into. I could keep going on and on, but I feel like it would not be fair to the author who put in all the hard work to spill all the wonderful information he collected in this book. There have been several books that I've read that have directly changed my life. The Great Divorce, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! are all books that come to mind. After I read them, I never quite looked at the world in the same way again. This is one of those books. It was eye opening. After reading this I started building systems for every day activities in my life. It really does make things easier, and an easier business makes for a happier me. That I am sure of.

If you would like to see the E-Myth website, go here. I have not browsed through it, but I'm sure it is full of much useful information. Good luck!

Monday, June 7, 2010

How google outsmarted me

I wasn't as much outsmarted by Google as I was outsmarted by myself. I read quite a few guides for how to be highly ranked by Google and attempted to build the Carol's Creature Care site with that in mind. I made sure to name all of my pages after the business, insert the pet sitter/sitting words into as many spots as I could.

I submitted my site to Google, it was indexed within a few days, doesn't turn up on searches. Say what?

It doesn't turn up on searches because I thought more about the business itself than what someone searching for the business would be looking for. The people looking for a pet sitter in Allen Park, Michigan, are going to Google search for "pet sitter allen park michigan". Guess how many mentions of the areas she serves are built into the website? One. One lousy mention.

It's never going to come up in a realistic search how it was constructed. I've attempted to compensate by adding the list of areas that Carol covers in some of the other webpages. At least that way there will be four or five mentions as opposed to just the one.

So what is the ever so obvious moral to the story? Build your website with the idea in mind that a person is going to be using specific words to search for what they want to find. And in the cases of the service industry, that is going to involve locations. Live and learn, when Google re-indexes the site I'll let you know if my tweaks had any effect.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Give Galarraga his perfect game

I live half an hour west of Detroit. Last night Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game...except he didn't. I was casually watching the game from the start. I was reading the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and popping my head up to keep track of where things were. After the end of the 3rd inning it occured to me, I'm watching a perfect game!

I kept a much keener eye from there on, but I was still mainly reading my book and just keeping tabs. Perfect games never happen, not in Detroit. After the end of the 6th inning things got more serious. He had pitched two-thirds of a game of perfect baseball!

At this point I told my son Tony, who is ten, to stop doing his homework and come watch the game. I kept wanting to grab my phone and send out a dozen text messages to tell everyone to watch the game. But I know the rules of baseball, and the last thing I wanted to do was jinx them. I even kept reading my book, although I have no memory of anything in it from that point forward.

At the end of the 8th inning I was stunned, could it really happen? I tried over and over to explain to my son what was happening, the significance of it all. How it has only happened 20 times before. How it meant so much to me to be watching this game with him. He didn't get it. All he knew was that dad was excited. The 9th inning started and I was holding my breath. 3 outs. 3 outs to forever.

Bam, the 1st pitch of the inning was blasted towards right-center field. The center fielder had turned and was sprinting towards the wall. It was over. I've watched a lot of baseball, and that ball was a double. Every time. Except for that time. Austin Jackson had run it down and made a spectacular play. A play that saves history. A legendary play.

I was literally on the floor celebrating, writhing like a madman with glee. My son was hysterically laughing, I was making such a fool of myself. The moment was still alive. Next batter, out. One out away, 26 straight down. I clutched my book tightly, still paranoid of jinxing it.

Plunk! A little grounder towards first base. Oh no! But Cabrera was there, he had chased it down and it was now a race between the pitcher and the hitter to the base. A race to immortality. The throw was on target, it looked in time, SAFE!

What? Just like that it was all over. My heart had sunk. I immediately thought he must have bobbled the ball. He must have missed the bag. Then the replay, he had beaten the runner to the bag by almost half a step! In baseball terms it wasn't even close!

The Tigers manager Jim Leyland was out of the dugout to argue, the Tigers announcer with a voice filled with childlike shock murmured, "Why is he safe?".

My son echoed his comments, "What happened dad?" Why did he do that?". My moment had been taken from me. Stolen. There would be no perfect game memory. A memory celebrating with my son, sharing in a Michigan history that he would always remember.

Galarraga retired the next batter, the game was over. The Tigers players were all over the ump. By now he had realized what an awful mistake he had made. He robbed history. He had blown it.

I was livid, texting anyone I knew that cared about baseball. Telling them the tragedy. How can he make that call there? Even if it was close, how can you not give that to the pitcher? It was 3 to 0, it wasn't a one run game where that was going to make the difference. How can you make that call? How can you let an infield squeaker on the last out spoil a perfect game? Even if he hit the bag at the same time, how can you not call that out?

I was sick to my stomach. Instead of a jubilant moment with my son, I was once again giving him a speech about how sometimes life just wasn't fair. I'm tired of giving him that talk. I'm tired of facing it myself.

Today, the day after, the umpire has done all the right things. He has profusely apologized. You can see how badly he regrets his call. He was too caught up in the moment. I'm sure he was trying to protect the moment. Be sure the call was right, even if it meant ruining the perfection. But he too was overwhelmed, and his desire to protect it turned into a force that destroyed it. Anyone who has truly loved something has done the same thing. Sometimes you can care too much. Sometimes you wreck the thing you sought to protect.

Jim Joyce made a terrible call. If he had one wish right now I know what it would be. But that's not how it works, it's out of his hands just as it was taken out of Galarraga's hands. Done can't be undone.

Except by one man. Bud Selig can undo this. The commissioner of baseball, he can overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfect game. He cannot give me my moment of joy celebrating with my son in my living room, but he can give me the ability to tell my son that someone fixed what was broken. Maybe life is a littler fairer than we had thought.

After the horrendous call, Galarraga just smiled. He didn't say one cross word. Did not stomp and kick the ground, curse the gods, flip the bird to the Indian's bench. He was a class act. Calm and collected. He was a better person than I would have been, I can assure you of that. He showed the world what sportsmanship and general human kindness is all about. Two things sorely lacking on the planet today.

I've read that after the game the umpire personally apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga's response? Don't worry about it. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect.

After all that had happened to him. After pitching the 21st perfect game in the 100 plus years of baseball history only to have it ripped away by what in my opinion is the worst call in sports history, that is what he had to say. No one is perfect.

Mr. Selig, who deserves a perfect game more than someone who can do that? So rarely in life can we truly right a wrong. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. This is your moment.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Finished my first website

Carol's Creature Care

That's my mother-in-law's pet sitting business. When I began taking an interest in starting my own business I was very fortunate that my wife's mother has been running her own sole proprietorship LLC business for the past 14 years.

She's been a wealth of knowledge on the subject. She handles every aspect of her business. Customers, billing, employment, management, accounting, all of it. So when I run into questions regarding any of these things I have someone I can turn to who has real life experience on the subject. In my limited exposure to all of this, a mentor is a lifesaver.

To the site, isn't it pretty? I used Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 for the building. I was lucky to find a great video series that broke the website building process down into simple steps. You can find it here. The Web Learning Series

I was able to build alongside the video to construct what I consider to be a professional looking website. The author of the tutorials does an outstanding job linking one concept to the next where at the end you're looking at a well-designed site. I was surprised in that the hardest thing to complete was the content. Content is a bear.

As I'm sure you're painfully aware of at this point, I'm not the best writer. Thankfully I found the Lorem Ipsum generator to fill in the gaps in my content until later. Lorem ipsum is a gibberish that you can use to populate your website until you're ready to go back and put in the actual content. Gives you the appearance of paragraphs so that you can get your structure complete when you hit the dreaded case of writer's block. Which I tend to perpetually be afflicted with.

So check the site, tell me what you think. In my next couple blogs I'll give you some of the in's and out's of the building process. How I got my vertical navigation bar to work, why I now hate Internet Explorer (die), and how Google outsmarted me.

Happy Memorial Day everyone.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is Bret Michaels the Antichrist?

"And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast."
- Revelations 13:3

I wonder why he never takes his bandanna off?

Think about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to host multiple sites on iPage

When I registered my second domain on iPage I ran into a problem getting the proper content to the new domain I had put up. Here's a step by step guide to hosting a second domain on the same iPage account.

For the explanation we will have SiteA as your original primary domain, and SiteB as your secondary site that you are trying to get your new page content to. The trick is using the domain pointing manager. Here is how you do it--

Step 1. From the control panel click the File Manager link.

Step 2. From the Manage Files sidebar click New Directory and name it SiteB. (This will of course be your new website name here)

Step 3. From the drop down horizontal menu hover over the Domain tab and choose the Domain Pointing Manager link.

Step 4. This will list your registered domains. On the SiteB list, click the drop down menu and choose Subdirectory. In the Points To box type "SiteB/". Save settings.

Step 5. From the drop down horizontal menu hover over the Website tab and choose the FTP link.

Step 6. Scroll down to the Create New FTP Account and make a new Username and Password. In the FTP (Home) Directory type in "SiteB/".

There you go. In your web editing software now when you're using files for the new website use the login/password that you created specifically to go to your new domain. This way you can't accidently send things to your other website.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any problems leave me a comment and let me know.

Host your Web site with iPage!

A review of iPage

Here's why I chose iPage, a breakdown of what I was offered:

$3.50 a month for hosting
Unlimited diskspace and bandwith
Unlimited e-mail accounts
A free domain name
A money back guarantee
and some Google/Facebook/Yahoo credits.

In my starting a business experience, that deal has been about the best thing I've come across. From the LLC people wanting $750, to a hundred bucks worth of business books, not much has been as pain free as registering for a year with iPage.

My grand out the door total was $50.99. That was a for a year of hosting, one domain, and privacy coverage for that domain for a year. And all that other stuff up there.

I did run into a bit of trouble after signing up. When I first accessed my account I was a little concerned because I was given a login name of myaccountnamecom. So my intitial thought was "oh no, I just registered the domain". I also had a problem where the first time I logged in I was taken to the domain central portion of the website. I was prompted to register my domain name, which I thought I had already done. So I started going through the process of registering my domain name again, but when I got to submitting it through again I was told that that domain name was already taken.

So now I'm bummed out because it appears that the perfect domain name I came up with was actually already in use. I was worried, but luckily they have on-line chat support that I hopped on and within a few minutes was connected a very nice person who told me not to worry, they'd take care of any problems I may be having. It turned out that someone had already registered that domain, and that person was me. I had just gone to a default control panel page, my domain was registered and good to go. I also learned while my login name was myaccountnamecom, the domain I had registered was still just myaccountname, so was working perfectly. I love it when a plan comes together.

I have been with iPage now for a little over a month. I have never had a problem with downtime. Registering e-mail accounts with my domain name was extremely easy. I have only had one problem, and that was figuring out how to have multiple websites hosted on my account. I will post the solution to that problem in my next blog. The two times I have needed customer support I have been helped almost immediately by a friendly person.

I can't say how the service is with any of the other web hosting sites I considered going with. They could all be wonderful. However I can say that I have not regretted for a second my decision to go with iPage. Easy, cheap, friendly, and they sure threw in a lot of goodies to get me to sign up with them. If you're looking for a web host, they're who I would recommend.

Check them out---


Choosing a website host

Quite daunting.

There are so many web hosts to choose from. The first one that popped into my head was Go Daddy. I wonder why, huh? Upon exploring their site I found that they charged around $7 bucks a month for their 'deluxe' plan. It was actually much cheaper than I thought it was going to be. Sold! Right? Wrong, research is everything.

So I Googled up and started looking for reviews of Go Daddy. A simple search of "Is go daddy any good" led me to a smorgasbord of listings talking about how big of a pain in the ass Go Daddy was when it came to customer service and trying to transfer domains. is just one of many that told me to steer clear. Using my keen "where there is google complaints there is fire" operating system I moved along.

So what to do then? Back to Google again this time looking for "best web hosts". Eureka, I had hit pay dirt. List after list of what were considered the best web hosts out there. I narrowed my list down to Justhost, iPage, and Fatcow. How did I end up there? I cross referenced about half a dozen top ten lists and each of these sites always made the list. I then used the tried and true market research test using the "does --insert name here-- suck" google examination. Very little fallout from iPage.

I checked Ipage's website and found the design to be easy to navigate. I'm all about ease of use, I had made my choice.

iPage it was, in my next post I'll give you a review of their product and service.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rich Dad Poor Dad

There it is, the first business book I ever read. It only took me 31 years, better late than never, eh? So what is in this book? Why it's the secrets of the rich: How they avoid paying taxes, how to think like the rich, and of to make money without having a real job! No more working for the man, much better to generate passive income.

What's passive income? Well in Rich Dad Poor Dad passive income is mostly comprised of real estate and dividend yielding stock. Now I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world making a killing off those two things right now, but everyone I know has lost their collective asses on their house and stock investments in the last few years. So no thanks.

So how do you avoid paying taxes? It's simple, you incorporate! You see, when you form a corporation you get to pay your expenses first, taxes later. I can't believe it took me so long to learn this! Except when I started looking into forming a corporation, it turns out it's not quite so simple. We're actually looking into forming a LLC, a Limited Liability Corporation. Essentially a mini-corporation, but even trying to do this can be quite challenging, and guess what? There are quite a few fees involved with the process. Further down the road I'll share my LLC experiences.

If you haven't guessed it by now, I didn't find Rich Dad Poor Dad to be a very useful book in the aspect of reading it and putting its information to use. It always felt like I was just a few pages away from a big revelation, but when I got there it was just pushed back a little further. Then I hit the end of the book. I even read his follow up book, Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad's Guide to Financial Freedom. Also interesting, but again, mostly the promise of great knowledge as opposed to the supply of great knowledge.

So if I wasn't able to read this book and go use the teachings to make a fortune, why would I so highly regard it?

Because it opened my mind. It made me think about business and money in ways that had never occurred to me before. This book was a springboard that has taken me to so many different realms of understanding. Robert Kiyosaki is a fantastic writer of self help books. He gets you excited about the material. It is no wonder that he's created an empire out of this book, his enthusiasm is contagious.

I will not get rich from real estate, I have no interest in it. I will not, at this time anyway, get rich from stock investments. The market scares the crap out of me. I might however be able to use the core ideas of Rich Dad Poor Dad to carve out a niche for myself in the new world of on-line business. I'm trading real estate for advertising, high dividend stocks for affiliate marketing. I've already learned how to incorporate them into this blog!

See that link at the top of the page? It's linked to Amazon, and if anyone clicks that link and buys that book, I get a percentage. That's affiliate marketing. See the Google ads on the side of the page? Anytime someone clicks on those I get a small payment from Google. That's advertising.

When I post this blog and then walk away to go back to my real life, those two aspects will stay here attempting to make me money. Generating me passive income. Does it work? Absolutely, I'm positive that it works. Will it work for me? I have no idea, but I'm learning a ton on the trip.

That's what Rich Dad Poor Dad taught me, that it's the knowledge that is the true wealth. I may make money, I may lose money, but I'll always have access to the things that Rich Dad Poor Dad taught me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It all started with a dream I had...

An idea. An idea that wakes you up from a sound sleep with a sense of purpose. I had dreamt up a business.

I spent the rest of the night trying to get back to sleep. It was to no avail. Inevitably every time I closed my eyes my mind would wander back to the idea. Twisting it, tweaking it. Filling in the holes. Adding the details that would give it substance. Making the dream, the idea, something I could get my arms around. Something I could build...but I knew I couldn't do it alone. I needed a team.

Team Building

So where do poor, uninformed thirty-somethings who know nothing about business go when they need manpower? Why they go to their poor, uninformed thirty-something friends who know nothing about business. It's no wonder we're all poor, we're all drawing from the same empty well! But while we all may be ignorant in the world of money and business, we do have two strong common traits. Grit and Loyalty. We've got those in spades.

My team consisted of myself and three of my best friends. I arranged a meeting with them and set to work doing my homework. How do you start an on-line business, anyways?

God bless the Internet

Man do I love me some Google. I was able to find quite the bounty of knowledge. If you are reading this blog to try and find your own way, I can't recommend enough the video series How to Start an Internet Business. It's a ten part series that was just dynamite. Why read about stuff when some guy with a pleasant British accent can read it to you? Like I said, God bless the internet.

The First Meeting

Only two of my three new associates came to the meeting. It had taken exactly one week to lose 33% of my new team. Nothing like getting off to a smooth start, huh? What made it even better, they had huge concerns with my 'Big Idea'! If I wanted to talk to someone who thought my ideas were hair-brained I'd have just talked to my wife, thank you very much.

Luckily we had all done quite a bit of homework and were able to bounce around some other ideas. We had good discussion about what we wanted from our business. We set some goals, assigned some tasks, and agreed to meet again in two weeks. I don't know if we were necessarily moving forward, but damnit, we were certainly moving in some direction! As we were about to break Joe, one of my two remaining partners, told us that he had read a great book on business that he highly recommend we check out. That book was Rich Dad Poor Dad. In my next post I'll tell you how it changed my way of thinking.

The Business Quest

Back when I was a kid my favorite computer games were the old Sierra adventure games. King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Quest for Glory, et cetera. The graphics were awful. I tried recently to get my ten year old son to play King's Quest and he almost bust a gut laughing at how ridiculous the animation was...and it was the remake version!

In 1988 however they were the cat's pajamas, and I spent a huge chunk of my adolescence trying to rescue princesses and slay dragons all while being represented by a stickfigure-like avatar. Thanks to brave pixelated souls like Sir Graham, Larry, and Sonny I started to think about life as if it were a quest. An adventure, something I had to figure out and solve.

I guess I never really grew up, because here I am at 31 embarking on a new quest, a quest to change my life and build my own business. I'm starting The Business Quest, and I'd be delighted if you'd follow along with me. Hopefully this blog can be a road map for those pursuing the same goals that I am and turn into a treasure trove of useful information for starting a business.

Comments are welcomed, advice is appreciated. I guess I should start with off where it all started for me. Let me tell you about this crazy dream I had...