Category Archives: Business

How to Have a GOOD Day (in 4 Steps)

Take just 2 minutes right now to give yourself back the power to choose whether your day is good or bad. If the day starts poorly or even just average, you can fall back on this 4 step process. (You’ll never need more than two minutes to do it… except the first time it may take 3 or 4.)

Step # 1. Turn off auto-pilot. That’s how you’re allowing more and more of life to pass you by. Young beautiful girl driver in glasses with a wheel

Step # 2. Take a look at whatever time you have left in your day (don’t even look at tomorrow, you’ll get to that tomorrow) and see its full potential. Choose the potential you are fully capable of filling with good communication and action. (You do not get to depend on luck although that pleasantly happens too.)

Step # 3. Recognize that each minute in your day there is action (toward or away from your full potential) happening. Even if you are totally still and “not doing anything”, that in itself is a choice and an action toward end result.

Step # 4. Realize step number 3, and then begin using your minutes the way you’ve always wanted to (the way you know you can). They will grow into well spent hours, and then well spent days, etc.

Live on purpose. Work on purpose. Spend time with loved ones on purpose. Walk to wherever it is you are going on purpose. Eat on purpose.

Whatever important thing it is that you have allowed to happen in your life through auto-pilot: realize it and put it back on manual.

Look back on your day, only at the end of your day. And appreciate every small step on your journey.

As creator of your business and success remember that YOU are your greatest asset!

3 Must-Haves That Make Business Email & Blog Posts More Readable

Are you ready to broaden your audience and save yourself the tedium of repeating info you’ve previously sent in an email?

Here are the three format rules you must follow to improve the value of your writing:

    1. strategically place bold print
    2. section off larger messages/posts with headers
    3. put key points into bullet points and numbered lists

*See bottom of this post for link to learn more about bullet points.

Save the Client’s Time on Project Updates

I have a long-standing client who used to call me up and she would never fail to ask questions that I had answered in a recent email. At first I thought she was just forgetful because she has so much going on in her business. After working with her for a few months I knew that the “forgetful” theory was not true. She is an amazing business woman and she has an great memory. One day I asked her about it and she said to me:

“Amber, you have been making so many wonderful improvements for my business, but I don’t really understand half of what you are talking about in your project updates. I just skim them for highlights and then prepare to be amazed by your results.”

See how she did that? With a bit of criticism followed by a great compliment she gave me some vital e-business advice.

All informative writing must be skim-able.

Clearly Separate the “Good Stuff”

The good stuff is the part of your message that the reader needs to hear the most and see first while skimming it.

Let’s face it: EVERYONE SKIMS. We have to skim. Can you image trying to read every single document, email, posted message, or terms of usage agreement thrown at you? If you actually read every privacy agreement and terms of usage policy for every piece of software or electronic device you ever used then you wouldn’t have a chance to use it until it was obsolete!

Streamline your communication.

skim emailsMaking documents skim-able or scan-able is very easy with bullet points and section headers. (If we can learn to write volumes within a 140 character limit, we can learn anything in communication!)

Be careful not to overuse bold print. That might have been the toughest one for me to work on.

The number one reason for hiring a virtual assistant is to save the clients’ time. It doesn’t matter if it’s for tedious work or work that requires a special skill set we must make time saving a top priority.

So remember! Paragraphs are dead. Long live bullet points, strategically bolded print, and clear sectioned headers for all informative writing.

Side note for bullet points: Check out How to Write Powerful Bullet Points if you are not familiar with using them. Follow their advice, it’s all very good.

@BarackObama @MittRomney @GovGaryJohnson on Twitter

I wrote about the politicos and their successful (or not-so-successful) use of Facebook in: Smolitics: Politicians on Facebook. It’s time to take a look at some Twitter stats and see who is more popular on Twitter!

Smolitics: a person or idea’s popularity/performance/ or general acceptance on social media.

Twitter Smolitics for the Three Most Popular Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates of 2012
Note: There is a 16 day lapse between the first and second dates collected because I collected these stats at 4:30pm EST on both dates.
There is almost an 18 ½ day time lapse between the second and third day collected because I collect the data just before 7:30 AM EST on Tuesday Oct. 23.
Dates Collected -> 9/18/2012 10/4/2012 10/23/2012
- Democratic Candidates -
Barack Obama 19,883,416 20,524,381 21,249,142
Joe Biden 154,878 178,115 285,650
- Republican Candidates -
Mitt Romney 1,137,759 1,275,938 1,556,597
Paul Ryan 260,009 271,829 308,420
- Libertarian Candidates -
Gary Johnson 57,463 70,617 94,041
Jim Gray 219 233 258

The following bar graph shows the increase in the number of followers for each candidate on the dates specified.

(Some browsers and smaller screens tend to make this image hazy. For a clearer view, try clicking on the image to view it separately.)

Obama’s large stats make this graph incredibly difficult to depict completely accurately with a small bar graph. Here is a closer look at the other candidates and how they compare to each other.

So, you have to ask: “Why does Judge Jim Gray only have 258 followers on twitter?”
– The first and obvious reason is that the last tweet he sent was July 31st, and before that was May. He seemed to get into the Twitter thing on March 4th! But his zeal for it apparently waned and he decided against hiring a Social Media expert to utilize this for him.

A social media expert can make or break your social media marketing strategy. For instance, what if he hired a very ambitious person to run his twitter campaign and they tweeted something for him like:

“I support the legalization of #marijuana.” While making it absolutely clear on his twitter profile that he is a Vice Presidential candidate for the #election2012.

I have to smile at that idea, because it could possibly help his popularity or just as easily hurt his campaign. Can you hear the right wing screaming tweets then? “He only wants to lead our country to drugs and and immorality!!” – add in a misspelled word or two.

– Yes, his campaign would have to be handled in a very serious manner. :)

QUESTION: Will social media popularity predict our elected officials?
– Even though many would probably say yes to this, the answer is still: probably not. However, it is important to know the three big reasons why it’s not a good assumption to say that the one who has more Twitter followers will win… (at least, not yet):

  1. Not everyone who will be voting (e.g. many senior citizens), has a Twitter account.
  2. Lots of people too young to vote can (and do) follow candidates on Twitter.
  3. And finally: All social media is GLOBAL. People all over the world are following Twitter, Facebook and YouTube campaigns of the future leaders of other countries.

IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
More people of all ages are installing Twitter apps all the time and those young, passionate citizens are turning 18 – the first 2 gaps are closing.

Which candidate is aggressively using Twitter and “Promoted tweets” the most right now?
It looks like @GovGaryJohnson:

Promoted Tweets Gov Gary Johnson

A search on the hash tag #President and produced this promoted tweet by @GovGaryJohnson. (Click for larger view.)

Promoted Tweets 2 Gov Gary Johnson

A search on the hash tag #election2012 and produced this promoted tweet by @GovGaryJohnson. (Click for larger view.)

Success-Driven Inner Dialogue

mind processes Fact: You are talking to yourself… all the time.
During these silent, internal conversations you tell yourself to do something, ask yourself why you did something, or ask hypothetical questions like: “Did that cheesy commercial have anything to do with insurance?”

Question: Does what you are saying to yourself matter?
According to a section in “The Now Habit at Work” by Neil Fiore, Ph.D. what you say and how you say it matters very much. The book includes an interesting look at inner dialogue and how it can very easily lead to procrastination.
How? – By causing either a “stress” or “depress” response toward the idea of working any given task or project.

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. – William James

Procrastination Begins by ‘Depressing Motivation’

Using “I should to begin a self-statement is an attempt to motivate yourself to do something to make your situation better. Instead, it actually just establishes that your current situation is not OK because you ‘should’ be doing something else. Processing a lack of well-being has a tendency to depress motivation.

Using “should do” infers a lack of self-confidence or a lack of necessity. It can also imply that the statement is optional. (E.G. ‘We should all be nice to other people.’ – And we all know this is completely unrealistic and becomes mute after a bad day in nightmare traffic when that idiot in the stinky car cuts you off!) :)

Statements beginning with “I will…” or “I plan to…” or “I will enjoy the benefits of doing…” support confidence and do not hinder your current state of well-being.

To change habitual, inner dialogue:
Try choosing alternative statements with what comes most naturally and committing to practice as often as you can remember to or write them down.

Procrastination Begins By ‘Activating Stress’ From Self Talk

Using “I have to” as the precursor for a self-statement attempts to motivate with pressure, but really just successfully activates a stress response.

As a human being it is natural for us to want to avoid stress. In this modern society, we have pressure coming at us from all directions. Thus it is an act of self-preservation to use an escape key like procrastination to avoid tasks that have already been associated with stress. Unfortunately, procrastination is no real escape at all is it.

I admit, I start thoughts with this stress activating forerunner all the time…

  • I have to remember to…!
  • I have to figure out a faster way to do this…next time!
  • I have to do better on…!

Dr. Fiore recommends replacing “I have to” with “I choose to”. Saying: “I choose to work on…” does not sound natural to myself, but it may to you. I would transition easily to use “I am going to” or even “I like to”. I would acclimate better saying something like, “I like to be as efficient as possible with my email responses to spent minimal time on non-income producing tasks.”

Like I said before, we have pressure coming at us from all directions and learning how we can learn to treat ourselves regardless of the outside influence is crucial for a balanced life. It is healthy to accept human limits and more fulfilling work with success rather than forever working toward it.

talk to yourself

The Final Chapter for Books with Pages?

Are published and printed books way past their prime?

With more instant access to internet news sites, eBooks, YouTube videos, blogs, and Wikipedia articles every microsecond the need for books in print is declining.

Tie-in from yesterday’s post “THE END” for Bookstores & Libraries?
Considering the direct proportional relationship between the reduced demand for printed versions of books minus the number of books that are purchased online and factor in the rising cost of running large retail bookstores in this economy, we shouldn’t be surprised that the result is entire chains of bookstores filing for bankruptcy and public libraries reducing hours (or closing altogether). Should we?

e-Learning and e-Content

Why is e-learning so boss? The best answer goes back to that old “knowledge is power” saying. We have so much knowledge available at our fingertips that we are on the cusp of the most opportunistic evolution of human intelligence mankind has ever seen. This could be very good, but it could just as easily go very wrong.

Have you seen this “There has never been a better time to learn” commercial for the new iPad 2?

It makes you wonder less about why there are so many rumors flying around that textbooks will eventually be replaced with iPad-like devices. Doesn’t it?

Questioning Electronic Sources

Arguments for and against getting information via internet resources are numerous and multifaceted to say the least. I read somewhere a long time ago about how Google is changing the way we think or learn. I can’t remember which… but it’s probably both.

The weakest link in our chain of knowledge is the validity of our sources. Am I right?

Getting access to accurate information online can be tricky because there are billions of sources contributing to the world wide web (which is where most of do our browsing). – And what a tangled web we weave right? And almost anyone can release an eBook or whitepaper. As a result, verifying sources and the currency of the information is crucial.

Anonymous eSources

Think about the last thing you looked up online. How did you know that you got the answer/result you needed? Have you ever accepted an answer as fact that was posted on a forum or even one of those “yahoo answers” pages? Places like Wikipedia are edited all the time by anyone who wants a username.

Compromised eSources

Countless websites (even government ones) have been hacked at one time or another. In light of that how can you be sure that any information online can be trusted? (Ok… so that’s kind of extreme.)

Well Disguised or Imposter eSources

It’s also not wise to just look at a web address and see if it looks reliable because anyone can go to godaddy and register any domain name that is available. I went to godaddy just now and saw that TheExpertofEverything.com is available. Not that I wanted it, I am just making a point. I am definitely not the expert of everything (I’m more like the student of everything I think ;)), but 5 minutes ago I could have owned the expert’s web address.

Questioning Published Sources

Answers from printed books can also be just as easily proved inaccurate concerning many subjects.

Published Content – Out of Date & Less Accessible?
At the time of publication, content would have been sent through rigorous validation processes by editors and copyright experts. Published content can sometimes be difficult to get a copy (especially older content or content with a small target market) or by the time you do get a copy, the information could very well be outdated information.

To conclude this post I would like to state that I am not partial to either printed or electronically obtained information. There is still a place for both in my world, but as for the rest of you…

Where do you think it’s all going?

“THE END” for BookStores & Libraries?

Are large bookstore chains (once alight with the business of happily putting independent bookstores out of business) obsolete?

My photo of the Borders Bookstore that closed in the Castleton Mall of Indianapolis.

Seeing this bookstore closed for good reminded me of the movie: “You’ve Got Mail” (1998). The film was about the big bad super store (Fox Books) causing the charming little independent bookstore (Shop Around the Corner) to go out of business.

During the movie, one of the superstore owners says, “Aww, another independent bites the dust.” Then another owner says “On to the next!”

That part of the movie echoed with me as I took this photo which is when I decided to write a post about it.

The thing is, I am a fan of change. Of course I won’t even try to claim that it’s always easy (heh, if you only knew), but most of the time I think we don’t fully appreciate a situation until something changes and it no longer “is”. Sometimes, when we are lucky, we find out that the changes are for the best.

Brick and Mortar Bookstores & Libraries vs. Online Bookstores & Libraries

Inventory Selection

Libraries are great about having an enormous selection of books (even those out of print) are available to borrow even if they have to request a loan from another library.

Of course, the drawback of the library is simply that you have to give the book back. Sometimes it is preferable to own a copy. For example, my mother-in-law has a library that many small schools would be envious of, but she is always scouring eBay and used bookstores to buy copies of the readers that she had as a child.

The limitation of the selection of books at a bookstore verses the virtually limitless selection of books that can be bought online is a big draw back for the brick and mortar bookstore. To make up for that, many have incorporated the option to order a book for you that they don’t have in stock. This isn’t much of a solution for the bookstores though because it’s just as easy for most people to go to amazon.com or half.com and order what they need skipping the trip to the bookstore altogether.

The biggest con of online shopping or an online library is of course: the genuine value of face to face interaction.

Story Time

One thing that cannot really be duplicated at an online store is the simple age-old service provided by libraries and bookstores around the world: story-time.

Reading a book to a group of children is a rewarding experience. You have an opportunity to tell a story that they otherwise might never have heard.

Think about the powerful responsibility of this truth along with one of my favorite quotes from “You’ve Got Mail” about the heroine working in a bookstore with her mother.

“I started helping my mother after school here when I was six years old. And I used to watch her. And it wasn’t that she was just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever it was (that) they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does…and I…I have gotten carried away”

- Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) from the movie “You’ve Got Mail

Sales Associates

Bookstores often have sales associates that can be very helpful. Even online booksellers have toll free numbers and sales staff ready to chat with you and answer questions that you may have regarding a book you are looking for. And yet there is something more valuable about being helped one on one in real life isn’t there?

I have noticed that it is especially nice to find knowledgeable sales associates in the children’s section of a bookstore.

We were at a Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Bloomington, IN not long ago and my nine year old was discussing in depth books by Rick Riordan, Erin Hunter, and other authors she favors.

You see my daughter is a very good reader and has difficulty finding interesting books that are appropriate for both her age and reading level.

So when a saleswoman named Carrol proved to be extremely helpful because of her knowledge of the books my daughter learned of new authors and books with similar styles. We ended up going home with a few new books that she devoured right away.

Another unexpected perk of the visit was that we earned a free book after completing a form with 10 of the novels and authors that she had read over the summer. (Carrol knew that she had read that many because of their in depth discussion.) And I just noticed that she was reading that free one for a second time the last week.

Exposure to New Titles and Topics

Unfortunately some of the facts considered as the pros and cons of buying books online verses a bookstore often fit into both categories.

I really enjoy just browsing books on a web store or in real life to find books about things I didn’t even know I was interested in trying until I saw a book about it.

Do you know what I mean? Like I was on thinkgeek.com‘s book section and saw this book about how to pick locks. Its really something I never considered doing, but then I saw a book about it and it made me picture myself picking the lock off of one of those old-fashioned treasure boxes and made me want to check it out. :)

The other side of the argument:
Then again, why would I need to waste my time looking into subjects I know I will never ever find useful? At least I haven’t any real future plans to go lock picking or treasure hunting for that matter.

In conclusion of my post, I feel as if I have been typing a novel about this subject myself and have yet to scratch the surface of this economical situation. All I can say is, I won’t be surprised to see more and more bookstores close and will post more tomorrow about see fewer and fewer printed copies of books being sold.