A lovely woman named Karen

12/03/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

My friend J just launched launched Terminus Threads which sells beautiful pocket squares, coasters, and napkins made from quality upcycled fabrics.

On the about page, J explains the story behind the company and the stand they take in the market. He mentions the name of woman who sews everything they sell. I think that’s wonderful.

J is too classy to brag on himself, so I’ll do it for him. Check out the important things to which he gives leadership in the Atlanta area and beyond:

More on J here.

How to fail your target audience

12/02/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

My former classmates and I recently received an email advertising a technology-focused online Masters degree program.

We’re technology graduates, so we know our way around the Internet. What’s bizarre in light of this fact is that the college in question saw fit to compose and send an email composed of a single image.

I wouldn’t be ranting right now if the image rendered crisply in Gmail, if it didn’t look like something mocked up in the early 2000s, or if it spent more than one half of one sentence discussing the benefits to the student, but, well…you know where this is going.

The graphic links to a landing page featuring the same graphical header (this one with even more pixelation) whose URL reveals the online survey software powering the email blast.

By not putting more care and effort into this email, they lost credibility in the minds of those they need to impress most.

I don’t think I’ll be submitting my application.

You, not them

12/01/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

A lot of my colleagues are aspiring podcasters, media moguls, authors, and subject matter experts. When they survey the landscape, many become dismayed at how much (perceived) competition there is.

There are countless YouTube channels, Twitter accounts, Podcasts, blogs, and books from qualified professionals who appear to have the market cornered on their niche.

But they’re not you.

They don’t have your perspective and story and unique emotional wiring. They don’t care like you do, they don’t know what you know, and they could never out-you you.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

If you’re trying to be a you-flavored version of someone you envy, I don’t really know what to tell you. But if you’re getting in your own way because you feel like the market is crowded, cut it out.

We want to hear what you’ve got to say.

The shirt off your back

11/30/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

When I first started in my freelancing career, I tried to cut everyone a deal. I wasn’t making a ton of money (plus I was new to earning an income that didn’t involve a paycheck) so this was the mindset I took into all of my projects.

I was subconsciously operating under the false assumption that none of my customers had a lot of money to spend and thus cutting them a deal was the right thing to do. It felt good.

This mindset made it much harder to level up and paradoxically prevented me from providing a valuable service to more customers because I was afraid to charge what I was worth.

When I think about freelance work now, I focus on creating value through things that have the greatest impact. A free ebook, for example, could be written in time you reclaim by cutting out a TV show or similar guilty pleasure every week, and it’s something that can help an unlimited number of your prospective customers and fans.

If you’re serious about making an impact through giving, spend some time thinking about how those with substantial wealth do it. You’ve gotta have something to give something.

No one told me this starting out, so I’ll tell you: pay yourself first so you can afford to help others in a sustainable way. It does a disservice to your business and time for it to be any other way.

It might make you feel good to put others first, but your time is not free and everything costs something.

Can’t see it, won’t touch it

11/29/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

I’m all for world-changing goals, but it’s equally important to make small approximations towards success as well.

I have a savings account where money is automatically transferred from my checking account every month, and the desire to dip into that money during lean months is strong.

As any financial expert will tell you, two keys to financial freedom are:

  1. making saving automatic, and
  2. never ever touching money set aside for long-term investing

The steps above maximize the effects of compound interest, which puts impressive to extraordinary savings within the reach of virtually anyone.

Anyway, this morning I gave my bank a call and disabled viewing of the savings account in question. Temptation: gone.

Yes, meeting regularly with a financial planner is important along with a dozen other financial literacy best practices. But the little things add up, too.

Related.

Self-improvement litmus test

11/28/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Whenever I spend an extended amount of time around my family (say, more than twenty minutes…), it makes me think about how prone we are to do great things in the world while neglecting relationships with family members and those close to us.

The United States spends almost forty billion (billion) dollars annually on foreign aid and yet you can find veterans sleeping under overpasses and suffering from PTSD. We generously support projects on donorschoose.org and kiva.org but we’ll pass homeless people on the street without a second thought. [This is a false equivalency I realize, but I’ll just deny having written that if you ever call me out in public.]

Drake put it like this in a song called The Resistance (oh, the irony):

I heard they just moved my grandmother to a nursin’ home
And I be actin’ like I don’t know how to work a phone
But hit “redial”, you’ll see that I just called
Some chick I met at the mall that I barely know at all, and…

It’s great that we can meet the needs of so many people, but we shouldn’t neglect the home front.

Rethinking Thanksgiving

11/27/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Just kidding.

While the history of the holiday couldn’t be any further from what we’re taught in American schools, I think it’s fine to enjoy friends and family and gluttony during a weekday when people have a break from work. Wishing you and yours all the best.

1000 Bad Words

11/26/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

This morning, I did some terrible writing.

I fired up my text editor and hammered out a few paragraphs about various topics. It wasn’t looking like there was anything I would be able to use on my blog (which was fine since the point of the exercise was to produce 1000 words regardless of what they said) but I soldiered on.

As I closed in on the magic number, some ideas coalesced into a new insight that’s worthy of exploration. Funny how that works.

A letter to myself

11/25/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

This post serves as a quick reminder to myself that some of the greatest and most important historical movements were borne out of a refusal to succumb to a spirit of hopelessness.

There’s much to be done.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas

The rules still apply

11/13/2014 | Follow me on Twitterhere

Seth is doing something neat and published an update today. It’s an interesting project and I’m happy to see it moving along, but my biggest takeaway from the update video and the email is highlighted below (in bold):

Thanks for supporting my new book…

I wanted to let you know that the printer just sent me the first batch of uncut printed signatures.

They now go to the bindery, and we are on schedule to ship the books by December 1, as promised.

I made a short video update if you want a peek:

http://bit.ly/YourTurnSeth

Thanks for the incredible support. We exceeded my pre-press goal by 40% and the pages look fabulous. Can’t wait for you to hold a copy.

Seth

Take chances, do the impossible, risk it all, and by all means make lots of money and change the world….but make sure you still ship (on time) and keep your promises.