30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

As I prepare to set goals for 2012, I came across this brilliant post 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. It reminds me to clear the decks mentally, emotionally and spiritually before trying to drive through to new or old goals.

Effective planning or goal setting starts with an understanding of where we’re at now. I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to “apply myself more diligently” or “redouble my effort” without looking at what I needed to get rid of to reach my goals.

Every human being is doing the best they can right now. They may be happy or unhappy with their outcomes, but in order to have a different outcome, they must change something in their life. The important word is “change” as in transform, not add to. They may need to transform their knowledge or understanding before they change how or what they spend their time on.

I made a plan to review the list of 30 every day for 30 days. That is how habits are made. People have varying lengths of time for how long it takes to form or break a habit. Repetition of the idea is key.

How badly do you want success?

Sports are often a metaphor for success. Often it’s a stretch to make the connection, as sports aren’t about life and death and sports have highly artificial rules to increase the stakes.

That said, success in life isn’t always about life and death either. It’s about mediocrity and extraordinary. So often the metaphor is right.

This video is about the focus required to succeed. I agree with it.

Niche Retailer TrollAndToad.Com Makes Inc. 5000 Again

Clicks and mortar retailer TrollAndToad.com came in at #1063 in the Inc. 5000  fastest growing private companies in America for the second year with 285% revenue growth over the last three years. TrollAndToad.com is a the world’s largest retailer of collectible games. That is the very definition of niche.

So these guys are successful retailers. They are even more successful story tellers to attract customers, press buzz and decent management talent to the company.

Their website encourages sharing across the range of social media networks their customers may like. They have dedicated themselves to getting their story out.

I’m impressed because they get it. Sadly many companies do not. So the message is

  1. execute the business
  2. tell the world to attract customers, staff and media.

Successful businesses must do both, well.

TrollAndToad.Com’s also credit their growth and success to  acquiring the most talented people in the industry to oversee its growing divisions.  In an effort to rapidly expand its brick-and-mortar retail endeavors, the company has brought hobby retail store veteran Marcus King on board to chart and direct the course for this initiative.

King was a Board Member of the GAMA Retail Division (GRD) for many years. He also served as Vice President of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) Board of Directors, helping to oversee all the activities of that body.  “I will be working with, and in, the newly opened Richmond, Kentucky store,” King explained, “and opening more Troll And Toad Retail and Tournament Centers — first in Kentucky, then across the nation.”

So they hired an expert. Some  companies try to do everything in-house especially when they are not good at it.

I knew a CEO who wanted to write every press release despite being a poor writer. I mean bad grammar, limited vocabulary and shocking spelling. He was smart, but had no talent with words. This industrial company boasted they put 20 press releases out in their best year. They needed to put 2000 releases out and engage with journalists in covering industries. Instead they worried about cost. What did it cost for the CEO to spend two hours on a press release? If he doesn’t add $400+ per hour in value, fire him.

Red Bull Mobile Network Australia

Red Bull Mobile AustraliaRed Bull has been busy extending their brand into the GSM mobile space globally. The next step on the path to world domination is Australia.

Technically they are mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) just like Virgin Mobile, which means they sell access to an existing network with their own branding and price structure.

Virgin Mobile would be the only other similar brand in that space in Australia. I think it’s a move worth making. The costs of becoming a MVNO are relatively low for a global brand but they get instant brand recognition in the new market. This is a great brand extension policy.

Red Bull have added to that by using social media to get the word out. I’ve got  a free SIM card from Red Bull Australia because I am an account at Klout. If you are quick and in Australia you can also get a free Red Bull Australia Mobile SIM.

The customer acquisition cost of this strategy has got to be ridiculously cheap. Compare what it would cost You&Me Inc to attract young brand aware consumers to a new mobile phone network.

If that link worked for you, and you got a free SIM, please comment below, and a like, +1 or other thanks would be appreciated.

Update 20 Aug 2011 @13:00:

A third party, Aggregato, will provide retail sales and distribution management and customer service support for Red Bull MOBILE.

Aggregato owns GRL Mobile who are rebranding as Red Bull MOBILE from 7 September according to this news announcement.

That reinforces my point about customer acquisition costs. GRLmobile’s total customer acquisition spend will rise under this deal, but their cost per customer acquisition will go down. Customers don’t have to overcome the “who are they?” question

Red Bull may only be taking a licensing fee for all I know, but given Red Bull Mobile’s international rollout,  it seems like they’ve put some resources behind establishing their brand in the mobile space.

Involved or Committed

Bacon & Eggs
photo by Anna Moderska, Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland

I like the following metaphor.

In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved while the pig is committed.

The normal mode in business is to look for people who are committed. Those that get the company logo tattooed on their bodies.

For senior executives, founders and entrepreneurs that is the spirit which drives a company forward.

However is it fair or reasonable to expect that from everyone in the organization?

At the senior executive or board level it is vital that there is someone who has not “drunk the kool-aid”. This person provides vital perspective and challenges the assumptions to avoid group-think.

At the front-line staff level having committed staff is certainly a competitive advantage. The main challenge then is to scale the business with a keen and engaged workforce. The second obstacle is managing attrition or top-grading when staff become disengaged.

Alternatively a business can design its systems to be executed by the average available hire. McDonald’s and American Express do this well. McDonald’s front-line staff are among the most committed in the fast food industry – compare staff at Burger King or KFC. But nobody is kidding them that this is a career. McDonalds managers and above are very committed and engaged. The whole business is executed by 15-19 year-olds.

American Express also chooses the best call center staff they can find. There is  still high employee turnover. But once people in the rest of the business make it past 3 years they are often there for life.

Emotional Control for Success When Trading Currencies

Forex Foreign Exchange Rate
Stranger in a Strange Land, photo by A Syed, Midland, MI, United States

Guest contribution provided by Forex Traders

For many investors, learning the intricacies of investing is a continuing effort that focuses on expanding personal knowledge of the principles involved and on gaining experience at the craft. Unfortunately, many of these individuals tend to be unaware or just plain forget that the most important ingredient for success, the third “leg of the stool”, is emotional control.

Understanding the psychology of trading and acting upon its precepts are often easier said than done. Not only must one react properly to the “socially-driven” movements of the market, but one also must be aware of his personal tendencies and how to prevent his mind from undermining his well-thought out trading strategies.

Studies in the field of trading psychology have confirmed time after time that our subconscious mind, programmed from birth by our personal external experiences, can often become our worst enemy when trading in a stressful environment, especially when real money is on the line and the fear of loss is present. These conditions exist in all investing markets, but the intensity is heightened when trading currencies in the forex world. Time frames are compressed. Market reversals can be swift, and successful traders must be technically nimble and decisive in asserting their trading plans.

If truth be known, behavioral dynamics actually are the contributing factor that make our markets tradable in the first place. When major currencies were allowed to float back in the seventies after years of regimented central bank control, finance officials reacted with amazement to the level of volatility in the forex markets. Each currency pair developed its own personality, fluctuating daily well beyond previous standards that had been maintained for decades following World War II. The interpretation of fundamental and technical factors can vary by individual, and these varying opinions are what lead to wavelike market patterns before a consensus equilibrium is reached.

For the individual trader, psychological factors manifest primarily in an inability “to pull the trigger” before opening or closing a forex position. This “hesitancy” can result from several causes, but the most probable reasons fall into two categories. First, a lack of confidence when applying trading principles to react to various patterns and trade set-ups can stop a trader in his tracks if he lacks experience in how he trades and in the methods that he has been taught. More practice trading on free demo accounts is the recipe, as most experienced and successful traders swear by their practice regimens.

The second reason can be termed “performance anxiety”. Fear of loss or accountability can wreak havoc on a trader’s mind. Your subconscious mind is a storehouse of many uncomfortable experiences, accompanied by coping responses that will prevent a recurrence of the previous trauma. Opening a position can generally be a more positive situation, invoking hope for future gain and displaying assertiveness when confronted by a particular market situation. Closing that position can be quite the opposite set of events. Should I or shouldn’t I? When do I pull the plug? Why now and not later? Suddenly, the threat of poor performance results in hesitancy and procrastination, a recipe for failure in the world of forex trading.

So what is a trader to do? Trading simulation systems are the only way to gain the necessary confidence and consistency with your individual training plans, but the “cure” is more about extensive practice routines to “habitualize” your step-by-step trading plan. Creative visualizations also help to define exit “triggers”, but a trusted and disciplined routine is the only known method for preventing unwanted mental intervention in the course of trading positions. And keep in mind that, even if practice accounts and theoretic trading are great for learning, they have many limitations and do not necessarily reflect real market conditions.

Google Analytics Track Adsense

Bottom line up front: Create a new Google Analytics account for every website domain, unless you want to track your Adsense clicks in Analytics.

After attending Affili@SYD 2011 last week, I decided to review all my web properties.

I don’t consider myself an affiliate marketer, I’m more an e-commerce and traffic guy. But I’ve had moments of success over the years.

The first step of the review is to benchmark my properties and get a picture of their current state. Some have been sadly neglected over the years so I’m dusting them off and giving them a lick of TLC. Google Analytics provides some wonderful benchmarking tools for this.

Βest-practice is a one  Google Analytics account per domain. Any subdomains can then be set up as a filter or a profile under that account. My old web properties were created with a new profile under my main account.

Analytics profiles cannot be moved between accounts. A separate account for each property lets me sell a property and “unhook” its Analytics without losing all the historical data.

I also want to run  Google Adsense on the revitalized domains and track ad effectiveness through Analytics.

Unfortunately Google currently allows only one AdSense account linked to one Analytics account.

So for now it means the smaller properties must reside in my main Analytics account if I want to track Adsense with Analytics as I don’t want multiple Adsense accounts.

Once a property gets traction and significant traffic on it’s own I will then create a new Google Analytics account for it. I’ll disconnect the history and lose the ability to track it’s Adsense data in Analytics, but I’ll be better able to use the reports in Adsense with more traffic.

Making excuses

My daughter is 11 and it seems she is always complaining or making excuses about why she didn’t do something perfectly. I think she is a perfectionist and the complaining acts as a relief valve for her emotions.

I want the best for her, and tend to “coach” when I should just listen and be empathic. However complaining to me is fingernails down a blackboard. I react first then think about the true message next. There must be some fear that my kid will grow up making excuses for failure.

This piece could go that success has on no excuses. I believe that. But do I also believe “No pressure honey – just be perfect”? We succeed through failure. Making mistakes is what leads to success.

Instead I wonder about the excuses I make. Surely if children do it, we all must. And I must be really good if I think I don’t.

Well I’m 10kg overweight. There’s plenty of excuses in that part of my life.

What excuses am I making in my marriage? My business? My friendships? My professional life?

So I’ll give myself 45 seconds to be bummed out by the realisation I’m not perfect. Now I pick myself up and choose 3 things I will make no excuses for in January 2011. Today I will do something about 1 of those 3.

Hat-tip to Rich Stoner at Elite Basketball Training for blogging about Thinking of Making Excuses.

Warhawk Matt Scott in Nike “No excuses” commercial