Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Plot Line

It’s easy sometimes to miss out on what the plot line of our life is.

We act like comfort and luxury are the chief requirements of life. But really, all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

The easiest way to keep the plot line in focus is to simply follow your passion. Your passion becomes the plot line. And the plot line is your passion.

The past’s gone and the future isn’t known, so all we really have is the present moment. How much do we actually have? If you figure we’re awake for about 16 hours a day and live for maybe 90 years, that gives us about 500,000 hours to spend and we can’t bank the hours.

We’re continually drawing the account down so it’s good to know the plot line so we can spend the hours better.


Tattly

My previous post concerned two Seth Godin posts that provided his insights about online business. Today’s post is about a year old online business success story, Tattly. In a nutshell, Tattly is:

my (Tina Roth Eisenberg) designy temporary tattoo business, is turning one! In the past year, we’ve shipped to over 90 countries, had over 15k orders, went from 15 designs a year ago to over 225 today

Tina’s little business isn’t curing cancer. She’s just putting a new spin on temporary tattoos by recruiting professional artists, producing a high quality product, and charming her customers. On the one year anniversary of Tattly she shares seven things she’s learned along the way, with these headings:

1. Never hesitate to challenge a status quo

2. Don’t outsource things you care about

3. Don’t be shy. Ask for advice. 

4. Grow a thick skin + hustle

5. Prepare for success

6. Being nice is the only option

7. Your team is everything 

You can read the expanded seven lessons at her website, Swissmiss (she’s Swiss born), to get her tips on starting an online business. It’s an interesting story.

Swissmiss is her design blog for her NYC based design studio. It’s an Interesting and fun to visit site. Give it a look.

 

Good Godin

Here’re two distinct posts from Seth Godin about online business. What he has to say, as always, is insightful and true. These two posts relate to each other well, even though they weren’t posted together.

Each post below has been shortened by a few paragraphs to keep this post short, but you’ll get the gist of his ideas. You can click on the titles for the full versions, both posts are worth reading in full.

Monetizing digital attention

The most effective way to make a living from attention paid online is to earn trust, connect a tribe and then sell something that isn’t online. Attention is precious and trust even more so.

Many folks, though, would like to be able to deliver a digital ‘product’, an ebook or video or some other online good that they can produce at low cost and sell in volume. There’s a long history of brilliant writers and directors finding markets for their work using movies, books and other media that used to be new, and it would be gratifying if it could work here.

Unfortunately, most people do it wrong. They use a long sales pitch letter with highlighted boxes and fake testimonials. They make grandiose promises of secret riches or long-hidden techniques. And most disappointing to those that would build trust, they enlist a legion of affiliate salespeople, linking to one another and gaming search results or buying fake search ads.

The better way …the model is the same: it’s free to get started. So free, in fact, that most people who engage discover that all they need is the free stuff. Since the marginal cost of sharing these samples is free, it costs them nothing to add one more person to the ever-growing list of those that trust, that pay attention and that gladly give permission to their teacher.

The magic comes in because of the inevitable movement of the most motivated students from free to paid. Not because the teacher has to hold anything back to sell out of panic or greed, but because the committed student is happy and eager to pay.

The importance of going first

In more and more fields, the originator of the novel idea reaps an outsize share of the benefits. One reason is that it’s easier to gain attention quickly. Another is that once you gain attention and reputation, it’s easier to lock in permission and turn it into a foundation for your next project. And most of all, when attention is precious, earning that attention with innovation is priceless.

Yes, there are exceptions for those that bring service or price or reliability along to polish an existing idea. And there are certainly businesses that profit from taking over after the innovator, exhausted, gives up and moves on.

But given the choice, I’d say first is a better use of your talent.

 

What are your favorite sites?

Here’re 5 sites I check daily. They don’t have any connection to one another. I’m listing them in the order I think most people might “like to follow” to what “some people might find interesting sometimes.”

This post is related to one I wrote 6 weeks ago, “A Lot More,” addressing how I streamline my browsing by assigning sites to files I’ll visit  on an assigned day of the week (Monday through Friday) plus one file that I’ll check daily.

So these are 5 daily sites I think you might like too.

Kottke – Jason Kottke has been gleaning interesting stuff from all over the web for almost 15 years. From his About page: “…primarily written by Jason Kottke. The editorial direction of the site is all over the place but clusters around a pair of hand-wavy ideas: the liberal arts 2.0 and people are awesome.”

Seth Godin – From his Bio page: “Seth is the author of fourteen bestselling books that have changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His books have been translated into more than 33 languages, and his ebooks are among the most popular ever published. His irrepressible speaking style and no-holds-barred blog have helped him create a large following around the world.” Seth blogs everyday and is at around 4,000 posts. Surprisingly, each post is worth a read.

Conditioning Research – This blog is written by a Scotsman, Chris Highcock. Chris’ posts are well-considered takes on, as his tagline says, “…interesting things about fitness, strength, diet and performance.” Food for thought.

Kool Tools – If you liked the “Whole Earth Catalog” you’ll like this site. Each day you can access new ideas and tools people submit. The submitter provides a short description of the tool and why they like it so much. The world is full of clever ideas and you’ll discover lots of ’em here.

From the tagline:  “A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.”

Seth Roberts –  Two Seths on one short blog list! This Seth is a psychology professor at Berkeley who tests his ideas about better living by using simple experiments on himself to find solution for sleep issues, acne, eating times… as his tagline says, “Personal Science, Self-Experimentation, Scientific Method.” Give this blog a chance, and something will capture your interest.

Modern Markers of Change

The modern markers of change are all around us. As the rate of change rapidly increases in the developed world, some qualities of life are bound to suffer as some get better. A lot of it’s related to how much the speed of living seems to increase.

For example, now shininess is becoming more valued than patina. Shiny is new, while a patina is acquired with time, time most people don’t have anymore.

The same can be said about having a lifestyle over a life, seeking out fast food over slow food, and trying to drink from the fire hose of information instead of acquiring knowledge by the glassful as you need it.

What about the difference between personality and character. People seem to be more attracted to personality than character now. It takes time to discern someone’s character, but personality is right in your face.

Look at Paula Deen, the TV cooking diva. Paula has lots of personality, she’s loud, southern, and outgoing like a friendly neighbor. It’s easy to see why certain folks might be attracted to her.

But what about her character? Not too long ago she announced she’s had diabetes for some time. My guess is that it’s from her shockingly unhealthy cooking, eating, and compounded by also being too short for her weight.

I don’t know how long she knew about her condition, but it has to have been for a while. During that time she continued exuberantly promoting her personal brand of damaging health practices.

She came forward with her condition after receiving an endorsement deal from a drug company with a diabetes treatment she uses.

You could say that ethics is what someone does when no one’s watching, how someone with character would behave. There’s lots of fodder here for speculation about how Paula mishandled her public life, but at a minimum Paula is a current example of personality trumping character.

Finding The Right Fit

I took Capoiera for a year before switching over to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) for the last six months.

Capoeira requires more flexibility and  musicality than I have. Instead, I have a good strength to weight ratio and don’t tire easily which suits BJJ better.

Plus BJJ as a form of grappling and is more applicable in the real world, should you need it, because most fights wind up on the ground.

And I’ve noticed is how coaching works or doesn’t work for me.

A teacher can’t coach a student to do a movement the student isn’t able to do. The student will only be trying to survive the pattern being taught, rather than absorbing it.

Among lots of possible factors, difficulty learning a movement could be due to the athlete’s lack of flexibility, balance, strength, symmetry, or coordination. Then add to that    communication skills and jargon. My primative Spanish and a veneer of Portuguese Capoiera jargon combined to create a confusing environment for me to learn in.

Capoiera was a lot of “monkey see, monkey do” learning which isn’t effective for me. It wasn’t always clear what we were doing or why we were doing it. Culturally it seems, Americans like to ask lots of questions in striving to understand the what you’ll be building on.

Having an English-speaking instructor is important for me because he can explain the nuances of different moves, which I was missing out on before. But even if the language situation were reversed I’d still prefer BJJ.

So far BJJ is fun, interesting, and a good fit for me.


The Hunger Game

Do we really need to eat every time we feel hungry? We normally eat at certain times so eating becomes an expectation and a habit more than a need.

If a fat person gets hungry and doesn’t eat nothing noticeable will happen, probably for many cycles of hunger. The same is true for normal sized folk too.

The hunger signal doesn’t have to be heeded each time it comes on. Just acknowledge it and carry on if you need to.

In the developed world we live in a perpetual summer, preparing for a winter of scarcity that doesn’t arrive anymore.

Nothing bad happens if we miss a meal. We just need to put it in perspective. It’s easy once we recognize the difference between habit and need.

And if it applies to you, try thinking of it as “What tastes as good as healthy feels?”

Specialization

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Specialization is for Insects.” The title was something I’d jotted down, but couldn’t remember where it came from. Recently I ran across the source for the title, it comes from Robert Heinlein’s “Time Enough For Love.”  Here’s the full quote:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

There’re probably some more skills that could be added to his list, like being able to swim and ride a bike, but it’s a pretty good starting list for a generalist to shoot for.

It’s a good idea to build up your tolerance to uncertainty, striving to be adaptable instead of over specialized.