The 90 Day Internet Marketing Challenge

Last week, having watched a recorded webinar by successful internet marketer John Thornhill, I have decided to take one of his ideas on board and set myself a public challenge.  For a while I have recognised the value of having an accountability partner, but they have only previously been my wife, or a friend; and telling one person I’m going to do something just doesn’t feel like a strong enough incentive.  In the past I have made excuses to that one person for my lack of action and just not felt enough pain from the experience to make me follow through next time.

Another person suggested giving a significant sum of money to charity every day I didn’t follow through on what I said I would do.  An interesting concept, but it doesn’t rest easy for me to link giving to good causes with my failure to follow through and to link not giving with success.

Nope, for me, public humiliation is the only way to go.  I have a good gut feeling that it will be this that will make taking action a must in my case.  People will be watching my blog to see what progress I’ve made and, at the end of the 90 days, if I haven’t won the challenge it should be clear from my blog whether that was for valid reasons or simply through not taking action.

Win or lose, I’m hoping the resulting posts will provide me, and others with a learning tool of what went well, what didn’t and how things can be improved upon to make my results successful (or even more successful), next time.

I don’t feel entirely ready for this challenge but I hear Napoleon Hill’s words ringing out in my head:

“Don’t wait – the time will never be just right.”

If my hunch is correct, then my decision to focus and commit to this plan should attract to me any missing resources I might need to succeed in my venture.

Apparently this has a lot to do with the reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain, which (crudely described) helps us to filter out the things that don’t matter to us and notice the things that do.

Day 1 of my challenge starts on Monday.  Hopefully I’ll surprise a lot of people with what I achieve in the next 90 (working) days.  I hope I surprise myself.

A time to invest…..or not

Recently I received a phone call, on the back of somehow getting on a mailing list for film investments. The caller was inviting me to invest in a Biblical production – Mary Mother of Christ, the prequel to the Passion of the Christ. It called for a minimum investment of £5K – and whilst it promised high returns, there was no guarantee of getting your original investment back if the movie didn’t go as well as expected.

The emailed information came from someone at ‘spicefactoryfilms.com’, but when I tried to access that website, it asked me for a user name and password, so it looks like the domain has only been registered so it can be used as part of an email address.

There is a spicefactory.co.uk, which seems legit; and indeed sports the same logo as was used on the email I received – but therefore, why wasn’t the email from somebody @spicefactory.co.uk?

It appears the owners of spicefactory.co.uk are based in Brighton – and the email I was sent included a Brighton phone number – but again this was different from either of the two numbers given on the contact page of the spicefactory.co.uk website. I could have gone to the trouble of phoning one of the website numbers to see if the two companies were linked, but by this time I’d made my decision not to invest.

Apart from anything else, the website made no mention of the forthcoming film – and the few links to publicity articles (including one on Channel 4’s website which didn’t work) were from 2004/5.

There are two points I took from this; the first was confirmation of the need to do your homework (or ‘due dilligance’ as they say in the business world) before blindly leaping into anything. The second is to consider your current position – yes I could have found the money if I’d wanted to – but is it money I could happily afford to write off if this was a scam or the investment came to nothing? Absolutely not.

Will I kick myself if I don’t invest and the movie does really well and this opportunity was legitimate? No – because I’m happy with the decision I’ve made, based on my current financial circumstances.

There will come a time soon when I will have money I can afford to take a calculated risk with – and there will always be other investment opportunities out there offering equally tantalising potential returns.

Who’s Running Your Show?

Over the last week or so, I’ve been reading a fairly old book by Dr Wayne Dyer called ‘Your Erroneous Zones’.  It was a fascinating read and I aim to read it again and put together a review at some stage.

Whilst I consider myself to be a very positive person compared to many, it was an eye opener to realise just how much I had sacrificed my own independence (especially my wants and personal opinions) over the years in order to gain the approval of others – and how much society is geared to try and make people feel guilty or to get them angry about all the injustice in the world.

The central message of the book is that each of us are perfectly capable of managing our own feelings; that our happiness and well being should come from within and not be influenced by external factors.  Whenever something outside of ourselves makes us stop being doers and moving forward with our lives, we should address it.

I ran into my friend Nick at the gym today (not literally!).  He has a back disability but does what he can and said he would be happy once he could get back to a steady gym routine. Here’s a classic example of someone relying on circumstances outside of himself in order to be happy.

So who’s running your show?  Will you choose to run it yourself, or will you let others run it for you?

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A Missed Opportunity?

Coming back from the gym this morning we stopped off at a local store to pick up some breakfast bits.  Sue went in whilst I looked after the bikes.

While I was waiting, I spied an elderly gentleman milling around the fruit shop, who I thought looked vaguely familiar.  I started to wonder of this man could be Mr Queenan, my old history teacher, who I have fond memories of.

As he started to shuffle off in the opposite direction to me, I deliberated about asking him if he had been a teacher, but I didn’t.  I also didn’t take the opportunity when he changed direction and slowly ambled past me, just as Sue came out of the shop.

So what stopped me from carrying out the simple act of asking someone whether he might have been someone I once knew? – Fear.

I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone, just in case he wasn’t who I thought he was, even though it could have led to a conversation either way, which could have brightened both of our days.

We are confronted with opportunities all the time; some we have to prepare for, some we should go for, even if we don’t think we’re quite ready and some, where no preparation is needed at all.

My life would have been no poorer if I’d asked that man and received a grumpy and stern “no” – because at least I would have taken myself out of my comfort zone and faced my fear head on.

There may not be a ‘next time’ for meeting this man, but there will be other opportunities that come my way – and when they do, I’m determined not to let my fear get the better of me.

Don’t Doubt in the Darkness…

. . . what you believed in the light (Irish Proverb)

Today has been one of those days where I’ve felt everything has been conspiring against me. Here is a brief summary:

  • I created a complicated ebay listing for their classified section to find the item (furniture) was not eligible to be sold as a classified listing.
  • An unreliable product supplier from last year finally caught up with their paperwork and emailed me a £92 invoice
  • Our internet connection has been cutting out all day
  • I arrived to a hospital appointment with no time to spare and no change for the ticket machine (I decided to run in and chance it)
  • I forgot to pick up an item for a job tomorrow.
  • The roof of my mouth has been painful all day making eating and drinking uncomfortable

So I’ve been sat here feeling unrested, overwhelmed, sorry for myself and feeling like I haven’t achieved much. Then I remembered the proverb above from our church service on Sunday (not a Bible quote by the way).

It helped remind me that there is a bigger vision I’m aspiring to and that sometimes down here, where the rubber meets the road, there will be tough times and obstacles to overcome; obstacles that can make me doubt my decision to take the path I’m on and my ability to make it to my ultimate destination.

In good times it’s easy to believe I’ve made the right decision and will achieve all I’ve set out to; but it’s holding onto that belief in the tough times that will pull me through.

It was only when I decided to stop and write this blog page that I realised that (a) there weren’t that many challenges for me to face, (b) they were all small stuff and (c) some good stuff happened today as well:

  • I shared an enjoyable breakfast with friends this morning
  • A lady from church turned up with a card and chocolates to thank me for volunteering my ukulele playing skills during a party last Saturday (I’m looking at the card and smiling as I write this).
  • I didn’t get a parking penalty at the hospital today

So let’s have a look at my original list and what I think about it now:

I created a complicated ebay listing for their classified section to find the item (furniture) was not eligible to be sold as a classified listing. I didn’t start it from scratch this morning; if I hadn’t saved the HTML code last night I would have lost most of yesterday’s work
An unreliable product supplier from last year finally caught up with their paperwork and emailed me a £92 invoice It was only a matter of time and never my money to keep.  Meanwhile it’s been in my account offsetting my mortgage interest.
Our internet connection has been cutting out all day For several months it’s been the best it’s ever been for connectivity and speed
I arrived to a hospital appointment with no time to spare and no change for the ticket machine (decided to run in and chance it) I didn’t get a parking penalty at the hospital today and saved myself a £1.60 parking fee.
I forgot to pick up an item for a job tomorrow. I can get it from a local shop in the morning before my friend arrives to use it.
The roof of my mouth has been painful all day making eating and drinking uncomfortable Big deal!  Yesterday I visited a friend who lives with cancer, is missing half his mouth and lives on special yoghurts.

Look for the light in the darkness.

Wilco’s Wise Words

I always feel sad when I hear of someone having terminal cancer, even if I don’t know them.  Today it was guitarist ‘Wilco’ Johnson, who has terminal pancreatic cancer.

On the back of this news, Wilco has announced a farewell tour – provided he feels well enough to perform.

Death is a journey none of us can avoid, but there’s something about being told it will be soon that so often seems to sharpen the senses and produce clarity in the person concerned.

Wilco was no exception, and admitted to the BBC this morning to experiencing a feeling of euphoria and being ‘vividly alive’ following his diagnosis.  Ironic then that he was once in a band called Dr Feelgood.

There’s a lesson for us all here and it’s about living in the moment.  As children we do it naturally but, as we get older, the worry and baggage of our lives often robs us of this precious gift.

Most adults spend so much time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future that they experience the present on autopilot, not paying attention to the wonders around them and immersing themselves fully in the moment.  I know I’m guilty of this.

Little wonder then that the years seem to last forever when you’re a child and fly by when you’re an adult.  Wilco explained:

“Right now it’s just fantastic – it makes you feel alive. Just walking down the street you really feel alive.  Every little thing you see, every cold breeze against your face, every brick in the road, you think ‘I’m alive, I’m alive’ – I hope I can hang onto that”.

“The things that used to bring me down, or worry me, or annoy me, they don’t matter anymore – and that’s when you sit thinking ‘Wow, why didn’t I work this out before? Why didn’t I work out before that it’s just the moment you’re in that matters?’

“Worrying about the future or regretting the past is just a foolish waste of time. Of course we can’t all be threatened with imminent death, but it probably takes that to knock a bit of sense into our heads.”

Roger that Wilco.

Let’s not wait to hear of our imminent death before living how we naturally did as children. Let’s learn from the past, but accept we can’t change it and move on.  Let’s not worry about the future, because worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is nothing more than a waste of time and energy.

Instead let’s focus on the now.  Fully living in the moment is a gift we can all enjoy.  I like to think that’s why it’s called the present.

A Lesson from Martine McCutcheon

Actress Martine McCutcheon was declared bankrupt yesterday and thanked her Twitter fans for their support.  In a way I feel sorry for her, but largely I don’t.

According to the news article I read (and let’s face it, you have to take a lot of news with a pinch of salt) her debt amounts to £187,000, with her largest creditor being Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.  They are owed a reported £149,000 in tax.

So how much has Ms McCutcheon managed to earn, and enjoy spending, in order to owe that much in tax?  You do the math.

If that didn’t enrage people enough, further news reports suggest that, hours after declaring herself bankrupt, she was able to cheer herself up by getting some £550 hair extensions.

In a previous interview, the actress said: “I love nice things – I consider Ralph Lauren sheets to be a necessity, not a luxury – but I’ve known what it’s like to be poor”.

Hopefully she will again.  We pay tax for the good of this country and its inhabitants and I don’t believe it’s right that someone who’s already earned more money at the age of 36 than many people see in a lifetime, and has chosen to squander it, should have any of it written off.

She should have been well aware that £149,000 of the money she earned was never hers to spend in the first place.

I can see why the bankruptcy system is set up to allow certain debts to be written off.  There are people who genuinely fall on hard times, go broke through no fault of their own and literally have nothing to pay off debts with.  I know little about bankruptcy, but I hope that each case is judged on its own merits.

If I had my way Ms McCutcheon would be forced to downsize her accommodation and have any frivolous items sold in order to pay off all the money she owes, with nothing being written off.

In addition, she needs to get educated in basic financial planning.  Had she sensibly invested a portion of of what she’d earned over the years, she would still have been able to live the high life and could now have been able to live a very comfortable life funded entirely from the income from her investments.  She would never have had to work again.

So I feel sorry for her that she didn’t learn this lesson before now.  I hope for her sake she can sensibly recover from this situation, resurrect her career and, as an older woman, realise what a stupid mistake she made.

But if she can’t resurrect her career, looking back in her old age on her years of living the high life beyond her own means may be the only island of pleasure she can find in a sea of regrets.

Beware Self Sabotage

Once again I didn’t get up for the gym this morning.  I feel since coming back from the National Achiever’s Congress in London last weekend that I haven’t been very productive.  I did get to the gym twice but I haven’t eaten well; and this morning I tipped the bathroom scales at 13st 7 1/4 – and I want to be under 13st.

What’s more I’ve only rehearsed my Toastmasters contest speech once since I got back.  The contest is tomorrow and I haven’t finalised the changes to my delivery yet.

If I’m not careful, I’m in danger of sabotaging my own success – again.

I went for a walk with my wife along our local trailway this morning and we have both agreed to make a better effort, starting immediately.  I have also made 2 more important decisions:

1) I will no longer buy any non-essential items until I’ve earned the money to pay for them
2) I will not wait until next week to start selling online.  I need to start on Monday.

FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

Going Fast Can Slow You Down

Two people at my local speaker’s club told me I looked tired tonight. After watching the recent Horizon programme ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’, Sue and I have been trying the programme’s suggestion of spending 2 consecutive days a week restricting our calorie intake to around 500-600 per day.

Today we both got up at 6am and went to the gym for a workout, as we usually do on a weekday. At around 10.30 this morning I ended up taking a ‘power nap’ in the lounge, for what I think was probably around 15 minutes, as I couldn’t stop yawning.

I suspect exercising, on top of the calorie restriction, has just been a step too far for my body to accept right now. I certainly have felt sluggish and unmotivated today – and when two separate people tell me the same thing, it makes me feel I should take notice.

Today was fast day 1 of week two and I’ve decided that, for now at least, it will be my last.

Where did all the bad news go?

Is it just me, or did anyone else notice a general lack of bad news being reported over the last 17 days?

Bad news doesn’t just ‘go away’ – it just doesn’t get reported on. Having said that, I’m willing to bet good money that the UK national crime rate was down this month (unless of course you happen to make a living as a London pickpocket or ticket tout). This year, the Jubilee celebrations, combined with the Olympics, has seen an outpouring of community spirit and camaraderie to rival the war effort of the 1940s. When people share a common sense of purpose and belonging for a good cause, good things can happen.

The media should learn from this experience and at least provide a balance of good news and bad news stories, rather than slip back into their normal tendancy to focus their attention on doom and gloom, and their ‘good news is no news’ mentality.

One reporter commented the other week on how uplifted the nation appears to be, asking how we could keep that feeling going beyond the Olympics. Well here’s a clue – keep feeding us good news! Maybe then, crime rates will stay a little lower and the economy will recover more quickly, if journalists would just encourage us to wear those rose tinted spectacles more often than the brown ones.

Like it or not, the mood of the nation is heavily influenced by the media, who need to recognise their level of responsibility for it. If the exacerbation of the London riots last year as a direct result of mass media coverage didn’t teach them anything, perhaps this current purple patch will.