23 Bloggers Who Share Their Income Reports

Personally I find it very useful that some bloggers share their income reports.  Pat Flynn I think started this trend of transparency and his openness has garnered a lot of success in terms of gathering a large and trusting audience.

Starting out in business I find it is such a mental game.  The belief that you can actually make an income online is something that you need to believe in the core of your soul, so that you can push through the difficult starting times and ultimately realize your goal.

For me, being around people or reading blogs such as those listed below, have helped me see that people ARE making money online and that it can be done.  They are normal people, like you and me.  Some might be more intelligent, some less. Some more charismatic, some less. Some betters writers, some less.  The major trait I find that’s important is persistence and consistency.

So feel free to explore the blogs below and see that it is possible with a bit of perseverance to create a passive income business online.

List of Bloggers Publishing Income Reports

Entrepreneur On Fire (EOFIRE)

  • Income:  ~ $200,000 per month
  • Business Podcast
  • Major Sources of Income: Podcast Sponsorship, Freedom Journal (physical product), Online Course (Podcaster’s Paradise), Affiliate Income.

Smart Passive Income (Pat Flynn)

  • Income:  ~ $150,000+ per month
  • Blogs About: How to make money online
  • Major Sources of Income: Affiliate Income (Bluehost, internet business related)

Project Life Mastery

  • Income: ~$90,000 per month
  • Blogs About: Making money online, goal setting, motivation, productivity.
  • Major Sources of Income: Kindle Book Publishing, Courses (Morning Ritual Mastery, K Mastermind (for Kindle Publishing), Course on Kindle Publishing).
  • Income:  $65,000 per month (last reported)
  • Business:  Wordpress Assistance as a Service
  • Major Source of Income: Core business
  • Income:  ~$60,000 per month
  • Blogs About: Food, Blogging.
  • Major Sources of Income: Affiliate Income, (AdThrive, Bluehost), Food Photography eBook, Workshops.
  • Income:  ~$60,000 per month
  • Blogs About: Blogging, Budgeting, Personal Finance
  • Major Sources of Income: Affiliate (Bluehost / How to Start a Blog, Online Survey Companies), Advertising / Sponsorship on Site.

Just a Girl and Her Blog

  • Income: ~$50,000 per month
  • Blogs About:  Home Organization & Decoration.
  • Major Source of Income:  Online Course (Book Boss – Write and Launch a Profitable eBook in 90 days or less), eBook on Blogging, Affiliate Income (BlueHost / How To Start A Blog).
  • Minor Sources: eBooks related to Home Organization & Decoration, other affiliate commissions related to blogging niche.
  • Major Breakthrough: Launched eBook on How to Launch a Blog.
  • Income: ~$50,000 per month
  • Major Sources of Income: Online Courses (internet marketing related)
  • Income: ~$40,000 per month
  • Business: Product Reviews
  • Major Sources of Income:  Affiliate Income, Online Course.
  • Income:  ~$20,000 per month
  • Major Sources of Income:  Amazon FBA, Service Business, other.
  • Income:  ~$20,000 per month
  • Major Sources of Income:  Affiliate Income, Drop-shipping Sites.
  • Income ~$20,000 per month
  • Major Sources of Income:  Affiliate Income
  • Income: ~$20,000 per month
  • Blogs About: Finance, other.
  • Major Sources of Income: Ad Revenue.
  • Income:  ~$10,000 per month
  • Business: HTML5 Games
  • Income:  ~$10,000 per month
  • Blogs About:  Making money online
  • Major Sources of Income:  Amazon FBA

What can you learn from this?

Affiliate income is extremely significant (with two notable Affiliate programs being BlueHost and AdThrive).

Most of these bloggers make money from teaching people how to blog.

Exceptions to the above is Kindle Book sales (as well as teaching people how to sell Kindle Books), Amazon FBA, Online Games.

Update: January 2016

Came across this site which summarizes very nicely all the bloggers who report their income online! Check it out: http://www.incomereporters.com/income-reports/2016/

 

Do the ONE thing, improve 1% every day & the law of compound returns

There are three widely recommended business books which I’ve read in the fairly recent past. I’m going to perform an amazing feat of mental agility and summarize ALL three books for you in under 500 words.

The books in question:

The One Thing by Garry Keller and Jay Papasan

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

And here is the summary:

Focus on ONE strategic thing that will move your goal forwards, every single day.

Tada!

It’s a very simple concept, but when applied correctly can dramatically improve your results.  As I heard in an interview with Steve Blank recently, when asked how people can make a successful startup, he summed it up:

“Just show up.  Showing up gets you 80% of the way there.”

Gary Keller likes the phrase:

What is one thing, that if applied (in my business), would make everything else easier or unnecessary?

In our day to day lives we get sucked into the vortex of unimportant emails, distractions, “putting out fires”. Very little time is spent on productive, strategic work.

This question helps focus your mind on the one strategic thing.  Instead of going out and making 100 sales calls, your “one thing” might be to post a job for a top sales person.  The latter will give you a lot more leverage.

You can apply this “one thing” concept to any goal that you set, whether its in business, relationship, social or self improvement.  If you identify a strategic action to take in each of these areas and do this every single day, you are almost guaranteed to see continual improvements.

While in the short term these improvements might be undetectable, over the long run it generates an exponential compounding effect of improvement so that you can blast through and achieve your goals.

How do I apply it myself?

Every day in my journal, I have a section “The One Thing”.  I think of the one thing that will yield the greatest strategic returns over the long run.

The best thing to do is then the FIRST THING in the day when you start working is to do your “one thing.” Once you have done this you can already consider the day a huge success.

These are often very small steps.

For example, in the journal entry below (excuse the doctor’s hand writing), my one thing was:

“Post job for business book summary biz”

journal-excerpt-one-thing

It took me about 10 minutes to do, but is potentially a huge strategic move.

Action Points:

✓ In your journal, write down your “One Thing” for the coming day.

✓ Do the One Thing – preferably first thing in the day.

✓ Wash, rinse, repeat.


There you go – 450 words, 3 books. BOOM!

How to Set Goals – Outcome & Process Goals

Theres lots of literature on goal setting.  I want to give my two cents on the topic.

Firstly, what I’ve come to realize is that there are two distinct types of goals: Outcome and Process goals.

Outcome goals are those that are not fully in control, but represent a desired end result.  For example:  Earning $10,000 per month (seems to be a popular goal).

Process goals are under your control.  By implementing and achieving your process goals, you will be moving closer to your outcome goal.

I think that when goal setting it is important to work with these two goals hand in hand.

I’ll give you an example of my own personal goals in the business sphere:

Outcome Goal:

I am earning $1,000,000 per month as of the 1st of July 2017.

Process Goal:

We are releasing 4 games per week as of the 1st of July 2016.

There are a couple of other points you should not about goal setting.

Firstly, there’s a stream of thought that says to write the goals out in the present-tense, stating it as if you have already achieved the goal (shout out to Muoyo Okome of Daily Spark Media for that).  I like the idea of that and think it definitely can’t hurt.

Write down your goal every day as part of your journaling habit. That will always keep your goal top of mind and hone your focus and creativity towards achieving the goals that you’ve set.   It also gives you the opportunity to constantly refine your goal so that the goal is properly aligned with your intrinsic desires.

It’s also important to set a date on the goal, because that allows you to plan around this constraint and puts some time pressure to achieve it.

You should work back from the outcome goal and create a realistic plan for your process goal.

In our case, from looking at our initial metrics and taking very conservative estimates, to reach the target revenue we will need to have about 200 apps.

To reach 200 apps in one year’s time, we need to be releasing 4 apps per week. Simple maths.

If you don’t have some initial metrics, take your best guess or base your estimate on market stats.  You can always refine the goal later.

It’s important that you set a goal that stretches you, but is within the realms of achievability.

Lastly, a word of caution about the date.  It’s absolutely FINE if you don’t hit your goal by the target date, you can always push the date back.  But don’t compromise on your goal (as long as it is still important for you).

 

 

 

Masterminds Groups for Entrepreneurs

From listening to loads of podcasts with super successful people, there are probably 3 things that they have in common:

The meditate.

They keep a journal.

They participate in a mastermind group.

I’ve been involved myself in some “mastermind groups”, but I find that mostly the ones that I’ve been involved with have not been effective.

In one skype group that I joined we had a couple of calls and then it faded out.  We would consult each other on skype from time to time, but then later that faded out to.

Another mastermind I joined was a pre-existing one, but I found the group very big, seemingly secretive / not willing to share and that it lacked focus.  Also I think the goals and stages that we were at were very disparate.

Probably the most successful “mastermind” that I’ve been a part of is with just one other friend who I met through a conference.  We’ve been totally open with each other and are vested in each others success and that conversation is one that I cherish and is mutually beneficial.

I think though there is probably more room for me to benefit from a mastermind group.

Benefits of mastermind groups

The benefits of masterminds are potentially many.

Probably top of the list is friendship.  Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path and it is great to share the journey with a close group of friends.

Also another key aspect is sharing of knowledge and different perspectives.  Sometimes we become trapped in our own cognitive biases and it takes someone from outside to help guide us to a different view point and discover things we weren’t previously aware of.

It also is great for accountability and motivation.

Lets create the ideal mastermind group

So here are my thoughts for the ideal mastermind group for myself…

Frequency

One week is way too frequent and intensive. Two months is far too infrequent.

For my personally I think the sweet spot would be either once per month or one per fortnight.

This wouldn’t be too onerous a commitment and would allow time in between to see progress.

Number of Attendees

From my negative experience being in a massive group, I think it is better to have a small and intimate group, which still benefits from a wide variety of perspective.

I would say that the ideal number of attendees of my mastermind group would be between 3 to 5 people (at a stretch).

Level of Members

The level of members should be judged by income, just because that is an easy marker of business success.

I would want to be in a group with people at least at my level or more successful.

Characteristics of Members

I would say that the most critical characteristic would be openness and a willingness to help others.  This is a super important mindset.  We should all be in the group to benefit ourselves, but even more so to help others.

In my case I think it would be better that most of the attendees be in the same type of business (apps / games) because the advice would be much more targeted and relevant, although it could be very interesting to have someone involved from a different industry to bring in a different perspective.

The participants would also need to be super ambitious.  We should all be there to see how we can 10x to 100x our existing businesses.

Paid or not?

Thats a dilemma.  I think having members pay to join the mastermind can be good, because it significantly increases the skin in the game and will help ensure attendance and dedication to the group.

But, I think that main point is that the group has to be dedicated.  If that can be achieved without payment, that can be totally fine.

Having a paid mastermind could potentially be part of a coaching type offering on a blog.

How to run the sessions

The sessions should have structured agendas so that they are most effective.

Chris Ducker recommends that mastermind attendees go through the following key points:

  • One thing that is currently working really well in their business activities.
  • One thing they needed help on, were struggling with, or wanted to brainstorm on.
  • One resource, such as a blog, podcast, service, product that they believed others in the group would appreciate knowing about.

An alternative way to run the sessions, advocated by Pat Flynn:

  • Beginning: Each person, one-by-one, talks briefly about their goals from the previous meeting.
  • Middle: A predetermined person in the “hot seat” shares, in detail, any number of issues, complications, questions and concerns about his or her own situation. The rest of the members then respond and contribute to the discussion by offering suggestions or comments based on their expert knowledge and/or experience.
  • End: Each person, one-by-one, talks briefly about the goals that they want to accomplish by the next meeting. Also, the next “hot seat” person is determined so he or she can be ready with questions for the group.

I think that it can be potentially good to alternate the agenda and add in different exercises.

For example, a lean coffee type method can be used for determining the agenda on the fly, or a members could take turns presenting about areas that they are strong in.

Keeping in touch

In addition to the meetings, it would be good to have a way to communicate between meetings, ask questions and help out.

Some groups I’m in have used skype – but I find this very distracting. Also in my mastermind group there should be a “no spam” policy, keeping conversation only on topic and not bombarding the group with inane messages.

I find that Facebook groups can be quite good for this, so that is definitely a good option.

How to find people to join the mastermind

Building up an audience, whether through a blog, podcast or other means, is a great way to connect with like-minded people (in fact, that’s one of my main reasons for trying out blogging).

Going to conferences and business events and their parties can also be a great way to find people who are on the same path and see who you connect with.

Also by joining online groups such as Facebook groups or forums you can also get to know people and see whether there can be a good fit.

Whatever the case, I think before someone joins my mastermind, I would want to get to know them, to have had several one-on-one conversations and see that I connect to them.  That is really important for me.

High Level Paid Business Masterminds

I’ve tried to collate here a list of several high-level business masterminds. These can by very pricey (25k per year is pretty standard) but they can expose you to a whole group of high achievers who you might not get to meet otherwise.

James Schramko’s Silver Circle

James Schramko’s high end offering is the “Silver Circle”.  The cost is about $1,200 per month I think and involves weekly group calls.  Like most of these types of masterminds it also includes access to a live event held in Sydney around March, “SuperFastBusiness Live“. BTW – don’t quote me on specifics, these details may be a bit off.

Joe Polish’s Genius Network

Joe Polish is a master marketer and runs a high end mastermind (one of those 25K per year ones…).

I particularly like this sentence that probably sums it up:

Have you advanced beyond your network and circle of friends?

You’re already successful, but are you always the smartest person in nearly every room you walk into.

If so, it’s time for you to join other like-minded experts.

John Carlton’s Platinum Mastermind Group

John Carlton is a household name amongst copywriters.

According to his sales page, the group meets 4 times per year and the cost is a measly 15K for the year.

Ryan Deiss’s War Room Mastermind

Ryan Deiss also runs a 25K mastermind and like most of these types of groups they meet 4 times per year with each meet up going for 2 days.

He also offers 5 “emergency” 30 minute calls with the big honchos who run the mastermind (Ryan Deiss, Frank Kern, Perry Belcher or Roland Frasier).

There are also a host of other benefits from joining, including access to all of Digital Marketers products and access to their live events for no extra cost.

There are up to 100 “companies” present in the meet ups, but they split up into smaller discussion groups.

At least from the sales page, this seems like the most organized and structured of these high level mastermind groups.

How much do you need to be making to be eligible?  On the FAQ it states: As a general rule, your company must at least be run-rating $1,000,000 in revenues to be eligible for membership.

Dan Sullivan’s Workshops

Dan Sullivan is one of the biggest names in copywriting and online marketing.

The 10x Program costs $25K Canadian and is aimed at entrepreneurs who have a minimum net personal income of US/CA$500K in the last tax year.  There is one meeting each quarter (one day only).

Other notable events

There are some other events and masterminds worth mentioning.

Two are invite-only – Yanik Silver’s Maverick1000 and the Summit Series. The Summit Series especially is one I would be very interested to attend. These events involve a combination of travelling around somewhere interesting in the world and rubbing shoulders with incredibly interesting and successful people from different walks in life.

Ryan Daniel Moran from FreedomFastLane runs a mastermind which I believe is relatively new – no pricing advertised on the sales page.

There is one event that I was just recently at which Carter Thomas from BlueCloudSolutions ran for the first time and I can say was ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL!  If you are an app entrepreneur (or even not just apps – we had people from other fields there), Carter’s BlueCloud Hawaii event is one that I can personally vouch for as being a great way to meet amazing entrepreneurs.

Do you know of other high level mastermind groups that I’ve left off this list?

Please add it in the comments below or share your experiences!

Tips for Hiring Freelancers Effectively on Upwork

Upwork (formerly oDesk and Elance, companies have merged) is by far the best site online I know to find freelance workers.

Our whole company is based on Upwork, so thank God for them!

Here is a bunch for short tips for how to hire freelancers effectively on Upwork for those who are new to the site…

1. Don’t just post one job…

There are so many jobs being posted on Upwork, that if you don’t “refresh” your posting by posting new jobs your original post will get swept away with the tide.

Posting new job postings DAILY is fine! Do it.

Also, when posting multiple jobs for the same role, try different things: for example different job posting names, different (but still relevant) categories, etc…

Try different things so that you give yourself the best chance to find top talent.

2. Make the name of the job post attractive and relevant

example-upwork-job-posts

Above is an example of some of our own jobs that we have created.

I’ve included here in the job titles the experience needed (e.g. entry level / junior), what type of position this is for (e.g. Full Time / Part Time, etc…) and the job role (Graphic Designer, Virtual Assistant…).

There is no one way to do this, but remember that your job needs to stand out against all the competition!

So think copywriting when you create the job title and description – you are trying to SELL your company actually.

3.  Include screening questions in the job description

Having good screening questions will save you a HUGE headache in sorting out applicants. This is a MASSIVE HACK that I recommend that you use.

Don’t just include bullshit nonsense questions, make them actually useful.

There are two major types of questions that I use.

One type of question is related to requirements that are necessary for the job.

Examples for these types of questions:

What type of computer do you use?

(If I need a mac user, anyone who doesn’t have a mac is automatically disqualified.)

What devices do you have for testing?

(If I need a QA tester who has certain android and iOS devices, if he doesn’t have them he is out.)

The other type are actual queries that I’m uncertain about and want clarification on.

For example, lets say I want to make a cross platform app and I actually really need to know what is the best language / framework to use for this, then I will include that as a screening question.

Our app needs to be cross platform, working on both iOS and Android devices.  Which framework or language do you recommend to use to achieve this and please explain why…

So in this example, this is a truly important question that I need to know. Applicants who are spammy and don’t take the time to properly read and answer job postings either won’t write anything or will write a copy and paste bullshit answer – all those guys are automatically out.

Then from the guys who actually take the time to respond, you can compare their answers and usually several things will occur:

1 – You will find that lots of applicants point to the same solution, so you just got smarter about your project, which is a good thing in itself and you cleared up some doubt.

2 – You’ll find that its pretty easy to tell who has a clue and who doesn’t from how they write their responses and you’ll also get a pretty good inkling of how their written English is.  2-in-1.

job-screening-questions-upworkI will almost always include a question about salary expectations. 

This is an important part of the screening.  If your salary expectations don’t meet then they aren’t a candidate.

Personally I will rarely / never let the candidates know the salary we are willing to pay because frankly it is not relevant.

Either the price they WANT to be paid is within our budget or it is not. I don’t believe in haggling, I want everyone who works with us to be happy with their salary.

Oh and BTW – don’t trust the official hourly rate listed on peoples’ profiles. These are usually thumb in the air numbers that the freelancers are hoping to get, best to totally ignore this figure especially if the numbers don’t make sense.

upwork-profile-hourly-rate

Personally I include the questions BOTH in the job posting AND in the dedicated section Upwork provides for screening questions (its a bit hidden…)

Scroll down to the bottom of the Job Posting page and click on the “Freelancer Preferences” section, which will open up a whole host of options, including the section for screening questions.

Because I just know that you’re going to ask, what I normally do in this section is the following:

  • Anyone can find and apply to this job.
  • I usually leave the “Preferred Qualifications” section untouched (sometimes I might try English Level – Conversational, but usually if I need good English I will add this as a screening questions instead.)
  • And I request that a cover letter be included.

4. Don’t get tempted to jump on a skype conversation too early

A lot (most) freelancers will try and suck the unwary into skype conversations and then try to make the “sale”.

Don’t do it (unless you’re really new and its a novelty) because it is just a massive time suck.

Use the screening questions in the posting to filter candidates and then selectively contact ONLY the ones who you think could be great candidates after you have messaged back and forth and got a sense of them.

5. Test different things to see what works best

I kind of wrote about this above, but just put out lots of job posts and see what works best.

Is there a day of the week that brings in the most freelancers?

Are there certain categories that work better for this specific role?

Try adding different required skills in the skills section and see if that has any effect.

 

Lastly, if you have questions leave comments below so that I can improve this post.

The idea is that these are some “hacks” to get better applicants on Upwork and ultimately for you to be able to hire the best freelancers for your project.

Good Luck!

The Art of Mental Training: The intersection between Sports Psychology & Entrepreneurship

It’s been a very long time since I last published a blog post. Been very busy building my business and been doing a good job of it… Writing a blog post feels like it both tickles my mind and exercises my brain cells & a chore… So I hope, if I can get off my fat arse, to write more often. Even if the writing is poor, but to try and get into more of a writing habit, so that it becomes more routine and less chore… After all my English teacher Mrs Silver was disappointed that I got into medicine, she thought I had a writing career ahead of me… So here is to Mrs Silver 🙂

It might come as a shock to you, but the main motivator of most people is almost always selfish at its core. So I’ve been reading quite a lot lately (inspired by some of my other entrepreneurial friends), and I sometimes feel that I don’t reap the full benefit unless I create a summary… So I guess by writing this summary as a blog post, I can benefit and so can others who read this.

In my mind entrepreneurship is a very mental game. I recently sat down with a young entrepreneur who wanted my 2c on business. And we came to discuss the issue of belief in self and he reminded me what a hurdle it is to get started. And one of the major hurdles is just believing that you can do it. That’s why earning your first dollar online is such a major milestone, just to prove to yourself that it IS possible, even if the money starts out as a measly trickle.

Entrepreneurship is quite a young field academically. It is a field with lots of room to grow. There is no doubt that mindset plays a massive role in an entrepreneur’s success, but this area of entrepreneurship I think is not spoken about so much in academic circles.

Sports Psychology on the other hand is an established field. There is probably quite a bit of money in the field. There are lots of books written on the subject, since mental toughness is a critical part of an athlete’s success. And there are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between the mindset required to succeed as an elite athlete and the mindset required to succeed in business.

My interest was recently rekindled after I listened to a great podcast with the “Peak Performance” coach Todd Herman.

This served as a springboard for my interest, and I dived into Amazon to buy up a few kindle books to look further into the topic.

One of the better books I read recently was “The Art of Mental Training – A Guide to Performance Excellence” (Amazon Affiliate Link – I get a tiny commission if you buy through this).

A word of “warning” about this book. It wasn’t quite what I expected. I was expecting more of an academic type text, but instead it was written more as a parable. Which actually made it highly readable and fun.

Anyway, lets get into the summary.

The major thing that I took away from the book was the following – control your mind and you will control your life. This might seem obvious, but at least for me it is a lot harder to do (but I’m working on it!).

“A champion teaches himself the skill of turning things around inside his head… He learns how to look at a negative setback both as temporary, and even as an opportunity for positive change”.

This ties into to things I read in the past from Martin Seligman, a leading psychologist and founder of the Postive Psychology movement. In his book Learned Optimism (Affiliate link, also a great book!), Seligman says that optimistic people tend to view negative events exactly as described above – temporary, changeable and not personal. Pessimistic people tend to view the world in the opposite manner (permanent, not changeable, personal).

For example, lets say you sit for an exam and fail. The pessimistic person might think “I’m stupid [personal]… I will never pass this subject [permanent, not changeable].” I have been guilty myself of this type of thinking, and I think naturally my personality tends to be on the more pessimistic side. Although I’m trying to change 🙂 See, not permanent! 🙂

The optimistic person, faced with the same event, might think “The exam was very hard [not personal]… Next time with a bit more study I’m sure I’ll pass [temporary, changeable].”

As Seligman’s book title implies, people who tend to be more pessimistic naturally can LEARN to master their thoughts… The first step is of course to be aware of your thoughts and once you are aware you can point out to yourself when you are having this permanent / personal / non-changeable thoughts and replace them with more appropriate responses.

“Never beat yourself up after a loss – there’s always something positive to be gained, even from a negative situation.”

This ties in to an important lesson in entrepreneurship and life in general. Perfectionists, like myself, tend to look at outcomes as either success or failure. This is not the most productive thought process.

Here is the better model:

Look at everything as an experiment. When you perform an action there is an outcome. The outcome can be either desirable or not desirable (notice: not black and white in terms of success or failure). But the process doesn’t end there.

If the outcome is not desirable, then you need to learn from the action / outcome and perform a little course-correction on the next action. Then observe the outcome and again, either you reach a desirable outcome, or you learn from the experience and course-correct with the next action. This is the action / outcome feedback loop.

Everything gives you the opportunity to debrief, learn and improve. This can be in business, but also in life.

For example, lets say there is a girl you like and you ask her out. She says no. Don’t wallow in self-pity. Learn from the experience and try and improve, either with the same girl or the next. “You must look [at a loss] long enough to learn from it – but then you must let it go.”

“Champions focus on what they can control. They know that while they can’t always control what takes place during an event, they can always control how they respond to an event. Within every setback lies the hidden opportunity for a great comeback.”

“Mental control starts with a decision

I found this sentence resonated particularly strongly with me. I feel it is very simple, yet very powerful.

You need to decide NOW that you are going to take control of your mind and by doing so you are going to take control of your life.

You need to be aware of it and set it as a goal. It might not be easy, and probably won’t. But once you decide to work on it, you will practice and succeed. Once your unleash the power of your mind, the world better watch out!

Visualization

Visualization and mental rehearsal are key to athletic peak performance. There is a great anecdote about Pele, one of the Brazilian all-time soccer champs.

Before EVERY game, Pele had a visualization routine, whereby he would go into the locker room an hour before the game and he would find a quiet place to lie down and cover his eyes. He then would proceed to watch a mental movie, a film of himself playing soccer on the beach in Brazil as a kid, feeling the feel of the grains of sand on his feet, the rush of the game and the joy it brought him. He felt like he was there, vividly reliving his love of the sport as a kid.

The next step in his visualization, he would relive the greatest moments in competitive soccer. The feeling of scoring goal after goal. And then he would move on to visualize himself performing at his peak in the upcoming game. Dribbling around players, scoring goals, the feeling of triumph.

After his visualization, he would stretch and then when he finally jogged into the stadium he was relaxed and primed for victory. In his mind, victory was already a reality, he had already experienced it.

Why is this so important? Visualization creates confidence and confidence allows you to perform in your peak mental state, maximizing your chances for success.

I know from my own personal experience that visualization is IMMENSELY powerful.

How can you apply this to entrepreneurship? There are lots of ways, but for example imagine in your mind’s eye your life 5 years from now… Where will you live? What will the house look like? Who will be in the house? What will your day look like? When you’re imagining this use all your senses and emotions… How will you feel… What scents do you breath in? Your sense of touch… What do you hear? By using all your senses you will help your visualization feel all the more real.

You should ingrain this into your daily routine. EVEN if it’s only 5 minutes, or even 2 minutes. You may be surprised by the effects…

Especially when you’re starting out, and success seems so fickle and imaginary, SEEING yourself succeed in your minds eye can help make your success seem real and inevitable. And that can only increase your chance to bring your dreams to reality. “If you ever hope to achieve [your vision of the future], you need to see it and feel it, vividly, in your mind’s eye, and not just occasionally.”

What’s your dream? Figure it out and then visualize it, every day!

“Interrupt negative self-talk and images the moment they arise… Replace them with positive self-talk and positive images.”

Gonzalez, the author, also tells the story of a jet fighter pilot who incorporated this into his visualization exercise. He would see himself performing confidently, automatically, quickly and would even notice in this visualization negative self-talk arising and instantly shutting them down and replacing with positive self-talk.

He recommends performing the visualization exercise after entering a state of relaxation / meditation. He mentions a particular technique, but any mindfulness meditation type technique will do. I’ll be writing some future posts about this (I try to meditate pretty much every day, even if its just for 10 minutes).

“Are you the kind who likes to play it safe and just do alright? Or are you the kind who’s willing to take a chance on possibly failing in order to accomplish something amazing? More than anything else, it’s a fear of failure that keeps people from achieving their full potential in sports, in life, in business – in everything.”

Wow, this really hit home! I think this is SUCH a key to succeeding in life…

Most people live within their little box, afraid to step outside. They have their mediocre career, mediocre spouse, mediocre everything. They are afraid to take the risk in order to achieve an OUTSTANDING life, an OUTSTANDING career, OUTSTANDING relationships.

This is something I really need to work on, especially in the relationship space!

Gonzalez says that fear of failure “is nothing more than a perceived psychological threat to your ego and self-esteem.” It’s a state of mind where a person is afraid of looking bad or else “such a perfectionist that he’s become overly self-critical.” This state hold you back and kills your chance of success. It cripples you.

So how do we get around this? You first have to turn failure on its head. Learn to accept that the only way to accomplish anything great it to risk failing at it first. Without occasional failures, you can’t learn and get better. On the path to greatness, failure is inevitable. When you learned to walk, you failed. You fell and fell and fell, but each time you got up. Sometimes you cried. Sometimes you didn’t. But eventually through enough attempts you learned to hold your balance. To waddle a few more meters. Imagine if as kids we had a crippling fear of failure?? We would all still be crawling around everywhere!!

As adults our ego kicks in. Our ego becomes something to protect, more important than our ability to grow and learn. So we end up protecting our ego, playing it safe and in the process, stunting our intellectual, emotional and entrepreneurial growth.

When an athlete “fails” he needs to use it as an opportunity for learning and growth. Debrief and analyze dispassionately so that next time you can perform better. Failure = valuable feedback.

failure

If we can really INTERNALIZE this, our lives will change dramatically for the better.


Back to the athletic analogy “fear can turn a competitor from someone trying to win, to someone trying not to lose.” Are you playing to win in life? Or are you playing just NOT TO LOSE??? Most people play not to lose, the time has come to play to WIN in life!

So how can we manage fear? “Fear happens inside your head, and thus it can be managed.” This is encouraging. A degree of fear is normal, but it is important to stop it from getting out of control and taking over. The way to control this fear is to come back into the present moment and the easiest way to do that is again routed in mindfulness, in focusing on the inflow and outflow of breath and to be aware of your thoughts. Then drown out the emotion with positive self-talk and images. See in your minds eye little wins you have had in the past. Tell yourself “I can do this.”

Many athletes apparently create their own affirmations (“I’m good, I’m fast, I’m strong, I dominate”). Use these affirmations in conjunction with focusing on the breath to bring you into the present and create a positive attitude. This is ESPECIALLY important when things are going bad. Shut down your internal critic and turn on the self-love.

Another important point is to not be outcome focused but rather to focus on action. Outcomes we generally can’t control. We can do everything in our power to PREPARE, but the outcome itself is not dependent solely on ourselves.

If you don’t meet a revenue goal, don’t beat yourself up. Be proud of the actions you took. Learn from mistakes and “failures”. I am naturally extremely outcome focused. For a long time I was quite miserable because I was so far away from the lofty revenue goals I set. But when I learned to appreciate the actions I took and the DOING, it started to free me up from this dependency on the RESULT. And it made me happier.

“Pinpoint your weakness and set out to work extra hard on them.”

Work out what your weak points are that are preventing you from achieving your goals and the life you want. Then you need the self discipline to work on these points. It won’t be easy, but champions are prepared to work hard in order to achieve their dreams.

Changing Mental State

There may be times when you need to quickly change your state from nervousness, fear and anxiety to a state of confidence and success.

By taking control of your thoughts, you can take control of the emotions and feelings that create your state.

Gonzalez teaches that there are three elements to quickly bringing about a change of state.

First is self-talk. Ask yourself what would be the self-talk of a champion before a competition?
(Business analogy: let’s say you are before an important meeting, you might think to yourself, “If Donald Trump was going into this meeting, what would he be telling himself in his mind?”)

Pretend that you are the champion (or business mogul). Be an actor. Imagine hearing their self-talk.

Second, is the the way you carry your body. How would a champions body and posture be like as he is preparing for battle (OR: how would Donald hold himself before the big meeting?).

Move your body around. Adjust your posture as you continue the self talk of the champion.

The third element is breathing. How would the champion (or Donald) be breathing now? Maintain the self talk and posture as you focus on breathing like a champion would breath.

This can take only a few minutes but apparently can result in a quick change of state, from a state of fear to a winning mindset.

“Be totally in the Present… that is the key.”

Play in the present moment, where mind and body are one. This creates a quiet mind during competition, in the present performance is flawless and automatic.

“A true champion… learns how to feel no pressure, because pressure is created by anxiety, and anxiety can only exist if one allows one’s thoughts to wander away from the Present to some uncertainty in the future or to some remembered failure of the past…”

Man, oh man! This is such an important point. It is damned hard… But as you practice mindfulness, and the power of focusing on the Present, on being present, you start realizing how many damned thoughts you have racing around your head (or at least I do!). These thoughts often aren’t helpful, but when you learn to be fully in the Present (isn’t it interesting that Present also means gift?), you learn to NOTICE these thoughts but not be carried away by them. An analogy I like is that you are observing your thoughts like someone sitting at a bus stop on a quiet country road. As a car (a thought) passes by, you notice it, but you don’t get on it. Ah, there goes a thought! And then go back to observing the traffic.

Mindfulness and being in the present is not about suppressing thoughts, but rather about gently noting them, and then returning to the here and now. Focusing on your breathing is a technique that can help center you in the present. I also like to note “I’m sitting”…”I’m walking…” and also I find that focusing on the soles of my feet help, notice the textures I am feeling there.

Using mindfulness, when you are in the fully present state, you can turn the mundane into the interesting and enjoyable. If when I’m in the shower I focus on the feeling of the water on my back and running down my body, instead of the usual thoughts racing about my head about the night before or the day ahead, it turns the shower into a whole different experience. When I’m drinking, if I focus on the feeling of the cold water running down my gullet and then the coolness pooling in my stomach, it turns drinking into an activity full of wonder instead of the usual gulping rush…

It’s a challenge to master, but that’s where I want to get to. Remember, if you control your mind, you control your life! Mindfulness is an important step in the right direction because it brings with it AWARENESS, which is the first step to a quiet mind living in the present.

“The past is gone… the future lies ahead… So in reality, today is all we have. And today is here.”

So, if I have to summarize what I learned from the book in a few dot points, here goes:

1) Make a decision to control your mind, so you can control your life.
2) Failure = Valuable Feedback. Learn from it and improve.
3) Visualize your ideal life, every day!
4) Practice mindfulness meditation and focus on mindfulness throughout the day. Live life in the present.
5) Play to win in life! Don’t play not to lose.
6) Figure out your weaknesses that are preventing you from achieving peak performance in life and work on them!
7) Switch into an empowering mental status by focusing on how a Champion thinks, stands and breaths. Have some positive affirmations ready.

 

Perhaps it sounds easy, but each of these take a lot of work!

I hope you enjoyed this summary, but if not that’s cool since it’s mainly for myself 🙂
If you have friends who you think might benefit from this, hit up one of the sharing buttons.

Leave any comments / thoughts below… any other books you recommend?

 

Do A Business You Don’t Hate (& Other Lessons From A 2 Year Old Entrepreneur)

Most of you know that in a previous life I was a medical doctor. It’s always pretty vague when I try and think back, but if I remember correctly the date I hung up my stethoscope and left the prestigious hospital doors was in June or July 2011.  So, if my maths is about right, I’ve been out of the system for about 2 1/2 years… Wow it felt kind of longer.

I want to share with you the lessons that I’ve learned in business so far.

It’s not that I’m saying that I am a stellar success, but I have managed to grow my business quite nicely. It still doesn’t feel ‘stable’ to me and I always feel that I’m still in survival mode.

I’ve been muddling my way and fumbling in the dark through the business world and I’d like to share any realizations that I’ve had through my half blind journey in the hope that it might make your journey maybe a tad easier.

I’m writing this for you – my friends, family, readers; but also for me in order to help me crystallize my meta lessons and take action on these lessons (which I am already doing).

A Bit About Me…

I guess before I delve into the concrete lessons part, it’s probably worth giving you a bit of a background about my journey.

I wasn’t in business on day 1 when I left the hospital and I certainly wasn’t in the App Store yet.

I think I had a vague idea that I wanted a web based business, but the initial thing I felt and knew and what dominated my day to day was… Utter Terrifying FEAR (UTF).

I knew I had to make money and I didn’t have the patience for the as yet unknown web business to start generating revenue, so I resorted to what was most familiar and what it thought could generate pretty much instant cash…

Business can be scary
Business can be scary…
…a bit like a cute zombie girl.
Photo by Grmisiti

I remember when the idea first came to me…

I had just finished up a run with a friend along a beautiful cliff top above one of the most stunning beaches in Tel aviv and we ended up outside a kind of defunct hotel which now had a little shopping center, which included one of the most well known and media-famous plastic surgeons in the country.

And my friend told me… “You know, any doctor can inject Botox…. Good money…”

Beach runs and bad business ideas
Beach runs can breed bad business ideas…Photo by kxande2 

So the idea was born and I was on (almost) the next plane to London to take an aesthetic medicine course and start raking in the cash.

Botox destroyed my soul.  At least that’s how it felt.

I didn’t like the patients focus on vanity. I just didn’t like them full stop.

Potential legal liability was constantly on my mind (even though everything went smoothly and my patients really liked me, any phone call from a patient set me on edge).

What was supposed to be a lucrative ‘side’ gig to use my professional background so that I could focus on my ‘muse’ business ended up sucking all my time – even here the focus was on survival, trying to drum up clients.

(Funny side note: I was my own first patient – I injected myself with Botox to get some extra practice in and so that I could experience what my patients would feel.)

What I did find was that I avoided anything to do with the actual botoxing and I would spend the bulk of my time creating my business website (myself), deepening my knowledge of SEO and using that knowledge to rank my website and set up PPC campaigns.

To cut a long story short, after I think almost a year of soul sucking botoxing I made the leap…

While SEOing my main business site, I had managed to build a network of sites that they in themselves started to produce income (I created an informational site for doctors interested to learn Botox injection techniques – to this day the site is still ranked #1 in Israel and still brings in a small side income, which comes from referring potential leads to these high-priced courses).

After my pretty horrendous first business experience, one thing really became clear to me – that in general I definitely knew now that I wanted to be in the internet / mobile space…

And this led me down the path to creating MAKE APP magazine (initially just on the iPad, now only on this blog), which in turn led me to interview leading entrepreneurs in the app space…

I took the lessons that I learned there and put them into play in my own app business, which is where I am now…

Business Lessons Learned

The first app ever that I produced was with a good friend and my current business partner.

The Men in Black 3 movie has just came out and we wanted to capitalize on that trend, so we created our own app from scratch which was a replica neuralyzer from the movie…

We didn’t really care too much if app made money or not (secretly we hoped we became millionaires from it of course 🙂 ) the main aim being just to have the experience of creating our first app and learning from the process.

We didn’t become millionaires of course, although the app was bringing in about $300 per month, so we were getting close :). Not amazing, but it let us understand what sort of return we could expect and now we understood the process. Even though this app didn’t let us retire, the experience we gained from publishing our first app was invaluable.

So now I’ve been “in business” for about 2 and a half years. While I’m still very young in industry , here are the lessons Ives learned….

MAKE THE LEAP

Make the leap
Photo by Binomialphoto

Starting a business will probably never be easy. For me it is a bit like diving into a pool of cold water.

I initially thought that I could work on and develop a business on the side while I was still working in the hospital, but I found that with my work hours, even though they weren’t too bad, I just didn’t have enough hours or energy at the day to do any real damage.

While you hear of stories of people who manage to grow a side income will working in their day job, I can’t do this. I needed to make the leap and devote myself full time to business making.

I also wanted the feeling of hunger that would come by leaving stability behind and I think this worked for me, although it is extremely stressful.

EVALUATE THE WORST AND BEST CASE SCENARIOS

Of course before you make the leap into the unknown, you need to assess your worst case scenario.

I has been working for quite a few years at a good paying job and had managed to save up a sizeable sum so that I knew that even if I didn’t have any income I could probably pay my bills for about 2 years.

And even though I dreaded the thought, at the very ‘worst’ I could take on hospital shifts or go back to a full time hospital job if I really had to, so I knew that I probably wouldn’t end up on the street.

If you look at the flip side, the upside potential was huge.

I could become financially independent, learn new skills, expand my horizons.

It’s sometimes hard to step back and logically assess your situation when you’re in the thick of it, but for me the knowledge that my downside risk was limited really helped me move forwards.

BE DETERMINED

While knowing that my downside risk was limited helped me, on the other hand I didn’t really care. I was going to succeed no matter what it took – the thought of ‘failure’ and going back to work was not an option. If this is the last thing I did. This HAD to work and I has to make it work.

That was and is my attitude and I guess having ‘made the leap’ and experiencing the hunger it brings helps.

In fact I’m not the only one who thinks that determination is the key to success. Angela Lee Duckworth, in her fascinating TED presentation, reveals that quality of grit is the best predictor of success in any field (watch this awesome talk below – its only 6 minutes long and pretty inspiring).

That really makes sense to me.

I don’t actually view myself as particularly intelligent.

I think the main reason for my success academically has been simply my motivation, determination and for want of a better word, grit.

TEST DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS

This might be a bit controversial, but it’s what I did and I guess it’s kind of worked for me.

Initially I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in business and I certainly had no idea of what would work, so I tried lots of things as you saw above.

Botox, multiple lead generation websites, Newsstand magazine, original app development, reskinning apps – and that’s not even a full list.

Some things didn’t work at all, some things had moderate success and some showed great potential.

Some of these I liked more and some less.

But it’s only by going through this process that I was able to come to a point where I’m in a place that I’m fairly happy with and that is generating revenue.

Jim Collins in his latest book ”Great By Choice” calls this process ‘firing bullets, then cannon balls’, and it is one of the elements that he found characterized 10x companies (companies that stood out from their industry during tumultuous times).  What’s interesting is that I’ve heard of this approach of validating ideas quickly in the start-up realm, but it’s interesting that Collins discovered that the same approach is one of the elements that distinguishes great, established companies.

So, summing up all these approaches, I think that this is something that should be constantly applied, not just at the beginning of a business but throughout its life cycle.

In our case we are constantly testing different app themes, different types of app development, different app markets (we’ve had various “experiments” in BlackBerry, Windows Phone and other alternative markets – more on these in another post).

Through all these experiments we first of all learn, then we double down on the winners and discard the losers.

The extreme opposite of this would be to set a plan and focus on just one thing, which I believe I has a very important place, but perhaps not at the very beginning of an entrepreneurial journey.

HAVE A PLAN AND STRUCTURE YOUR DAY

Leaving a ‘normal’ job behind, I knew structure in my day was going to be one of my biggest challenges.

I’ve been ‘institutionalised’ as I think most of us have been.

We are taught throughout our lives to follow a set path, to listen to your parents or your teacher or your boss.

We are used to others telling us to come to work at 9 and leave at 5, or to study for the test next week.

No wonder that during my holidays I would wonder around aimlessly not knowing what to do, since I didn’t have anyone to direct me.

And it HAS been bloody hard.

These are some of the things that have helped me…

Working out of an office

I tried working at home (went stir crazy after a while) and at coffee shops (not comfortable).

I’ve been working out of a really cool co-working space for the past year or so and this has been really important for me. I’m forced to get out of the house and travel to work, it gives me a routine and structure without the distractions and isolation of working at home.

It’s not easy to make the leap to work out of an office (I know), especially when you’re starting out and you’re counting every penny.

Many people might work really well from home, but my productivity suffered in a massive way.

If that sounds familiar to you then going to work in an office or co-working space could be an investment that pays itself back many times over.

Pomodoro Technique
Photo by Michael Zero Mayer

The Pomodoro Technique

You can look this up here.

This gives me a mico-structure to my day.

Sometimes I do and and sometimes I don’t use this, but it can definitely help focus.

Planning

I’ll go into more detail about the planning aspect another time because it’s worth a whole post in and of itself.

Planning has several layers.

The first is the overall goal for the long term and a detailed Gaant chart which plans out what we’ll be doing week by week over the next 6 months in order to achieve the goals.

I’ll do a weekly plan at the start of each week, where I’ll review what I achieved from last week’s plan and what needs to be done this week. At the start of the week I’ll also fill my calendar with what I plan to do when.

And lastly the daily plan. When I do the weekly plan I’ve already set a general plan for each day, but when I get to my desk I’ll review all tasks and re-prioritize if necessary.

LEARN FROM OTHERS

The problem with our knowledge base is that it is limited to what we know (duh!).

Undoubtedly one of the biggest things I got out of the magazine was talking to others who were more experienced than me. In fact, I’m certain that if I hadn’t done so I would be much poorer for it.

Whether you have an interview show or go to physical meet up events or join a mastermind, I can’t stress enough now important learning from others is.

I don’t do it enough and definitely should do more. The brevity of this point doesn’t do justice to its significance.

I’ve also had a business coach for a year or so and I think that going through the coaching process definitely helped me a lot.

Since there is no real school for entrepreneurs, I found that it really helped to have someone observing from the side with a bit of perspective.

The benefit that each coach brings would be very individual. Where my coach helped me was in stretching my goals and sharpening my planning skills and probably in many other ways.

What I know is that when I started the process life felt very much like a jumble. It still does, but less so.

DO A BUSINESS YOU DONT HATE

If I had to guess, I’d say that a lot of people are looking to monetize their passion and find something that gives them pure bliss every moment of the day. From my limited experience I don’t think that such a thing exists, or if it does it is really really rare.

I think that you definitely shouldn’t do something that you hate (for me that was Botox) and as long as you don’t hate it you’ll find some things that you enjoy and others the you enjoy less, but hey that’s life.

Do I love every aspect of the app business? Definitely not.

But I do find elements that I enjoy and see as a challenge (particularly systematization – will be a subject of a future bog post).

Ultimately I want to do something that I perceive as deeply meaningful, but I think that in order to start your entrepreneurial journey you need to just do something you don’t hate and find meaning where you can.

As you become more financially stable you can look to focus on other projects.

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So that’s it… a few of the major lessons that I’ve learned from my limited experience in the past couple of years.  I hope it helps you out!  Writing it down has helped me see what I need to work on (especially learning from others), so I’m already taking action on that…

If you want to get more great articles shoved into your inbox, then please slip your email into any of the forms on this page.

99% of people who do this end up being generally happier in life.

Also, a last thing…

…If you were mildly entertained, amused or informed, then please share this with any friend or family you think should read this…

… and (really) last thing… lets discuss this, because I’m sure you have your own perspective, so leave a provocative comment below.