There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it. - Mary Wilson

Become happier by simulating poverty

Posted: November 13th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

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Two ways to do everything

Posted: November 7th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

Almost every decision in life, every problem, has two solutions.  The first is the easiest.  It will quickly
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Starting at the end: Setting up an automated business 4hww style

Posted: November 7th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

Rather than going through all those steps in the four hour workweek; batching, finding a way to get out of the office, cutting off voicemail and email, why not just skip to the part where you don’t do any work right from the beginning? Well, creating a self sufficient business is hard. True, but today we’re going to have someone else, smarter and more experienced than we are, do all that hard work.

Any basic business has 4 main pieces:

  • Product
  • Sales
  • Manufacturing
  • Delivery
  • In an effort to remove our involvement in every step of the business we are going to let other people, again smarter and more experienced than we are, make all the decisions about these components.  The simplest way to put these all together in an automated fashion is via affiliate marketing.  Affiliate networks are networks of companies with products to sell, we as “affiliates” or “publishers” simply send those companies customers who buy the products.  We get paid a commission on each sale.  We then use the web to find customers who want those products.

    Product

    Forget about the “muse”.  I personally don’t care about the widgets, I care about the income, so forget about coming up with that one great idea.  Instead let’s think about our real criteria:

    If someone else selling, manufacturing, and distributing the product there are costs associated with each of those steps.  To maximize our profit, we want to minimize those costs while increasing the price of the product and volume of sales.  We want products that are expensive to the customer, cheap or free to make and deliver, and easy to sell.

    Finding best selling and expensive products:  If you head over to a large retailer, such as Amazon, you can quickly flip through the high level categories and look at the top sellers.  Which ones cost the most?  In electronics it would be high definition TVs.  Amazon even has their own affiliate network.  So they will pay a percentage commission on every TV you sell.  The higher the price, the larger the commission.  The larger the commission on each product, the more money you can spend on sales and still make a profit.  Also, since we’re picking from the best sellers we know they are sold in high volume.

    Their are a variety of other affiliate programs <list>.  If we look back at our criteria, cost to manufactur and deliver the product is another factor to consider.  Ideally if the product costs nothing to make and deliver, we will get higher commissions.  The only items that are free to manufacture and distribute are intelectual property.  Music, ebooks, videos, etc. that can be delivered via the web are ideally suited for making money.  The people that own these products are willing to give us a very large percentage of the sale as it costs them nothing to deliver them via the web.  Every sale they get is free money.  There just happens to be an affiliate network which sells nothing but ebooks.  <clickbank>.  In many cases we recieve 60% commission on the sales of their ebooks.  In this case we must simply decide which ebooks are easiest to sell and have the best payout.  They payout can be seen from the clickbank website.  To find out what’s easiest to sell, we’ll just ask other people already selling stuff.

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    The curse of the renaissance man II

    Posted: November 7th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

    So in part one we talked about why you and I are brilliant but not necessarily living up to our capability.  You may believe that now you must give up stuff you like, to work really hard at one thing.  This is not neccessarily the case, nor would you want it to be.

    You can still be a mediocre guitar play and a Ferrari driver.  You can still paint and be an internet millionaire.  What you can’t do is spend 50 hours per week sending email and another 30 hours watching TV.  This is what most people do, and most people’s live quite frankly, suck.

    Unfortunately you probably still have to go to work tomorrow.  That’s ok.  We’ll get to that.  But first we need motivation.

    To make change you need a reason.  Without it nothing will happen.  You must decide what it is you want first.  This is your motivation, but it’s no easy task.  Answering the general question “what do you want?” is virtually impossible for most people, so to start with something easier.  What don’t you want?  What pisses you off?  What do you do each day that you don’t want to do?  What are you afraid of.

    When I answer these questions I generally find that I want freedom.  I want to be able to choose what I do each day, when I get up, where I go, etc.  Most people in developed countries have very structured lives.  We go to school at the same time each day, eat lunch, go to work 5 days per week.  We watch the same shows on a schedule.  We don’t have to think about what we will do tomorrow, because it’s already been planned for us.  Most of the time it’s required.  Have you ever asked yourself “how much work do I want to do?” and then answered with “I’d like to work 8-5 and have an hour lunch each day.”  No?  No one wants to do this, yet somehow we’ve all agreed that it’s the best way to go.

    Once we’re on a roll it get’s easier to figure out what it is you want.  Next up ask yourself what do you want to be.  Now this is not a career.  People are not managers, nor mechanics, nor accountants.  It’s vastly more complex but at the same time simpler than that.   When I ask what I want to be, the answer is simply “Jason Borne.”  I want to be a bad-ass.  I want to know how to do bad-ass things, speak several languages, help people, but at the same time break legs.  Perhaps Jason Borne is not you cup of tea, perhaps you want to know more, experience more.  Maybe you want to feed the starving children in Africa, while writing poetry.  That’s fine, but it brings us to the real question, what do you want to do?

    Now take all that and know, not fear, but know that you will never do any of it, from the couch, from the office, or probably even in front of your computer.  Most things worth doing are done outside, or at least outside your house.

    If you want to achieve anything you must first stop.  You must stop following the predefined schema for life.  You must decide to do or not to do, rather than going about life completing small predefined tasks like going to work, eating at 12:00, answering the phone, or mowing the lawn.  I must decide right now that mowing the lawn is the best use of my very very short time.  Will mowing the lawn put me any closer to speaking french, will it put me any closer to feeding the starving children, or will it just be another hour of my life gone forever.

    Rocks stars never mow the lawn.  It’s not because they’re rich and have servants at their beck and call, but usually because there is no lawn and they don’t care about the lawn if they have one.  There lives are consumed with other things.  I used to read guitar magazine and one of the guys used to talk about what it was like coming off a tour.  People go into shock.  They can’t function.  Taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, they can’t handle it.  They quickly go insane.  A huge percentage of them can’t even drive a car.  Because they’ve done interesting things with their lives, the mundane is almost torture for them.

    The first step on the road to living that capability is to take our structured life and add a single structured task to it.  It’s not much different that brushing your teeth or driving to work so it shouldn’t be shocking.  Simple take 1/2 hour each day, at a specific time, and don’t do anything.  Do this like it’s
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    My current system for staying alive

    Posted: October 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: | 7 Comments »

    Image courtesy Saif

    Anyone who’s known me for a while, knows that health wise, I’ve been through some shit.  Although it’s been an extremely long process, I’ve made some pretty significant progress lately.  Two years ago I’d wake up and not be able to once a quarter or so.  Now I’m deadlifting about 275 for reps regularly and completely off all medications.  So here’s what I do. Read the rest of this entry »


    Increase Fist Pump Strength and Speed

    Posted: February 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

    A lot of people ask me “Bro, how do you get such a massive fist pump?” Well let me tell you, it’s not easy. It takes lots more than curls and incline bench.

    First up you need rotator cuff stability. If you can’t stabilize the shoulder you sure as hell can’t “beat up the beat.”

    For an effective fist pump you need to rapidly accelerate and then decelerate the fist. You can speed up training by using a medicine ball with a partner as taught here by Eric Cressey.

    Once you get speed then you need strength. Maximize fist pump strength with the weighted overhead press:

    and finally to get that last bit of fist pump extension, overhead shrugs:

    Hopefully this will help all you guys get the most fist pump that your genetics will allow.


    Math and Social Media for Fun and Profit

    Posted: February 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »

    Applying the formula

    IMPRESSIONS * CLICK THROUGH RATE (CTR) = CLICKS

    CLICKS * CONVERSION RATE = SALES

    It seems very simple, but it’s vitally important to not only sit down and track these numbers, but to use them to improve your site and overall marketing approach.  A lot of people seem to be doing the right things.  They know they’re supposed to use twitter or have a blog, but they don’t know how it all fits together.  Social media drives traffic.  By using real data to measure and follow this traffic, you can make improvements systematically rather than haphazardly.  How do you go from twitter to a sale?

    (potential) IMPRESSIONS
    Consider impressions or more importantly potential impressions as the sum of all twitter followers, facebook friends, google search results, or ads displayed, as a function of either time or posts.  So when you send a daily link out on twitter that says “read about my cool blog post here” and you have 1000 followers, that’s 1000 potential impressions.  By increasing number of impressions, through either posting more, finding more followers, or SEO you can get your links in front of more people.

    CLICK THROUGH RATE
    For every post you’ll have a number of clicks.  So perhaps 100 out of those 1000 followers click your link.  This will be a really low number by traditional standards because not everyone who follows you on twitter is going to see each of your links.  There’s so much traffic on twitter that any given post will get lost in the mass of tweets.  Also, there will be a bit of an error rate between clicks reported by su.pr or whatever url shortener you use and clicks reported by your blog.  A good chunk of clicks will be from bots spidering your links.  This doesn’t matter for our formula as it will be consistent, but it’s good to recognize when all your numbers either don’t jive or they look higher than expected.

    What’s critical about CTR is that it can be manipulated.  A significant improvement in your CTR can be gained by increasing the quality of your tweets.  It’s much easier to double your click through rate than it is to double your number of impressions.  Usually this is done by posting something more controversial, taking a weird stance on an issue, or simply posting something that’s more relevant and popular.  For example I wrote an article on how increasing population density has a greater effect on the environment than any amount of recycling can make up for.  You could send a tweet that says “Population density and it’s effects on the environment su.pr/abcd,” or you could post “Save a tree buy a condom su.pr/abcd.”  The second post get’s almost a 100% CTR because everyone clicks it, then everyone retweets it.  By tracking number of clicks or click through rate you can get a better feel for what style get’s more results.

    CLICKS
    In this example we’re calling clicks as people arriving at our web page or blog.  Su.pr or your url shortener should tell you how many people are getting to your site and where they come from.  This is important because it tells you what channel is most effective.  If you are getting 90% of your users from digg instead of twitter, then spend more time on digg, or fix whatever is wrong with twitter.  Next google analytics will tell you what your bounce rate is.  This is the % of people who go to the site and then immediately hit the back button or close the window.  Improving the speed and look of your website decreases your bounce rate and therefore increases sales, even more with Salesforce Consultant, Salesforce Headhunter & Staffing – VALiNTRYcrm that help companies achieve better results with their sales.  This isn’t directly placed in the formula, but bounce rate effects conversion rate.

    CONVERSION RATE
    Conversion rate is the ratio of clicks to sales.  Whether it’s get people in the door to our brick and mortar, or sell books online, the ultimate goal is getting paid.  So of those 100 clicks, perhaps one results in a sale.  Conversion rate is important because it can also be manipulated.  By tracking conversion rate, and then split testing changes to our website, we can systematically improve conversion rate.  So changing the look of the website may reduce our bounce rate, so more people read our content and buy our stuff.  By changing the location or size of a banner, we may make more sales.  This is all done with google website optimizer.  You can run extremely complex tests and google website optimizer will tell you what works best.  Generally simplifying your layout results in more sales.  So the more you think about segmenting and then driving a customer to your product with as little distraction as possible, the more they buy, the more they sign up.  Fewer choices usually results in more sales.

    PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
    Once you have a baseline for each of these it tells you a lot of important information.  So in our example above we can actually calculate the value of a single twitter follower or impression.  1000 followers * 10% CTR * 1% conversion rate * $20 DVD = $20.  So a single follower is worth $20/1000 or $0.02 per post.  This gives you a budget to spend on acquiring more followers.  The same principle applies for ad impressions.  If you are running a pay per click program and you track your conversion rate of that program to be 1%, then you know you can only spend 2 cents per click to break even.

    With all this comes a more effective approach for writing, maintaining your blog, etc.  Each post has a corresponding click through rate and potentially a conversion rate.  As you get better at writing you can see what results in sales, what results in more clicks, etc.   By improving any piece of the formula, you increase sales.

    Great example with google website optimizer:  http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2009/08/12/google-website-optimizer-case-study/


    Why spec work exists

    Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: | No Comments »
    bobtag

    Photo courtesy sashafatcat

    I’m writing this in response to http://www.ideasonideas.com/2009/08/is-tim-ferriss-acting-like-an-asshole/

    Eric brings up some great points in his post, but I think he is missing something critical.  The real reason spec work or crowd sourcing exists is because good design is not limited to those with lots of experience or those that work for well established firms.  Any creative process is to some degree a craps shoot.  An art degree may teach you to recognize good design, it may help you understand why something looks good, but it doesn’t mean that when you break out the crayons, I will like your results.

    The accountant example is a great one:

    So now, look at your job, and ask yourself: How would you feel if your work was reduced to a contest? I’d guess you’d find it rather insulting. As an accountant, could you imagine meeting a potential client who wanted you to do the work first with the possibility of them “maybe” paying you after the labor was complete? Or, perhaps we could have a “steel fabricators contest”, in which hundreds of companies would design and build “spec” bridges with the best ones getting “credit, fame and glory.

    The reason accountants will never face this problem, is because without a degree and lots of experience, you will never be a great accountant.  Accounting, for the most part, is not a creative process.  Experience is virtually all that matters.

    Though it helps, experience in a creative field doesn’t necessarily make you better when it comes down to putting the crayons to paper.  If Tim throws a contest, there’s a chance some high-school kid with a stolen copy of photoshop will win.

    I think this is what really bothers experienced designers.  A degree, years of slaving away in meetings, etc. should mean you get paid more or at least get more work.  The problem is that despite all this, I can hire a great design firm and not like what they send me.  I can have 500 people send me spec work, and I’m pretty much guaranteed to find something I like.

    Think about the actual implications of spec work.  Imagine if there was no spec work.  Would the number of actual paychecks change?  No.  Whether I pay a grand prize to one winner or I just hire a design firm, there’s only one job.  All those struggling college grads would still be out of work.  The difference is that all those struggling college grads wouldn’t be submitting work to contests, they’d be doing nothing.  Maybe this is better, maybe this is worse, but it doesn’t change how many people are getting jobs.

    I think Erik is right about the value of exposure.  As it applies to book cover design, it’s probably over rated.  But look at the alternative.  Instead of some random art student get his name mentioned on a top blog, Tim could just higher a popular design firm from New York, and that random art student get’s to do nothing.  The only people we protect by not using spec work are those who don’t need protection.  We’re putting up barriers for those looking to break in.  Saying we shouldn’t offer spec work is like saying, we should only allow experienced actors to audition for movies.

    Erik also worries that design isn’t thought of as real work, because to some degree, it’s fun.  While designers get to check email and attend meetings just like the rest of us, there’s still a lot of truth to this.  The bottom line is that paiting is more fun that adding numbers.  Design sucks most of the time.  Accounting sucks all of the time.  As a result, lots of people want to be designers and not many people want to be accountants.  Designers should have to compete in a tougher market because of this.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but if I am, feel free to not do spec work, there’s plenty of other struggling artists who could use less competition.


    Hydrogen power is a sham

    Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: | 3 Comments »

    Hydrogen power is clean!  It is the future!  Zero emissions!  People have been telling me that hydrogen power is the wave of the future for quite some time now.  Unfortunately few people understand even the basic laws of physics.  I’ve been shitting in people’s birthday cakes for quite a while, and one of my favorite examples occurred while listening to a bunch of classmates extol the virtues of hydrogen power.   It went a little like this:

    Presenters:  10 minutes of key phrases like renewable, zero emissions, no pollution

    Me:  Sorry to interrupt, but given the fact that almost all commercial hydrogen is produced by running electricity through water to separate hydrogen from oxygen, and almost all of this electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels, how is this going to reduce pollution?  Further, given that you lose energy, usually to heat, when you convert fossil fuels to electricity, then to hydrogen, then back to electricity, then to mechanical power, wouldn’t this also be less efficient that directly converting the fossil fuels to mechanical power, like in say a traditional engine.

    Presenters:  …uh…

    Ya they were pretty much fucked after that.  Sorry.  You see Hydrogen fuel cells are simply a form of battery.  They store energy.  They’re expensive to make, complex, and hydrogen in most forms if really fucking explosive.  It’s a dumb idea.

    So why are we all talking about hydrogen fuel cells?  Well there are two reasons.  First, because we don’t have any batteries.  Batteries?  Ya, we don’t have any.  See lithium ion batteries are as expensive as 100% Cambodian breast milk.  That’s why the Tesla Roadster is so expensive and has such a limited range.  We could use way cheaper NiMH batteries, but the douches at Chevron bought most of the key patents to produce them from the chodes at GM.  Not surprisingly Chevron wants to stop the production of electric cars so they won’t allow these batteries to be produced for EVs.

    The next big reason we are all jumping on hydrogen is precisely the reason it’s a bad idea.  The people who produce energy (ie. the people who give our politicians lots of money) know that hydrogen would be terribly inefficient and will ultimately fail.  So as long as we’re all chasing this red herring around, dumping billions of tax dollars into hydrogen, we’re not making better alternatives.  Further, because it’s inefficient, any success in producing hydrogen cars will only increase the demand for fossil fuels.  Yay Chevron!

    Ultimately unless the original energy source is renewable (solar) no amount of increased effeciency storing or converting that energy is going to make much of a difference in the long term.  Further, I believe that any increases in energy effeciency will only lead to decreased energy costs, and therefore more money to spend on more energy.  So saving the planet may only make it cheaper to destroy the planet.


    Travel Advice from a Business Traveler

    Posted: September 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: | 2 Comments »

    Travel Tips – Total read time:  12 minutes
    Everyone wants the tips and tricks to making travel go smooth.  Well I’m here to give it to you.  Why am I the business travel guru?  I’ve spent the last 5 years on the road as a full time consultant.  But I was not just any consultant, I was a consultant for a small but national firm with clients in the middle of absofuckinglutely nowhere.  I’ve had more canceled flights, food poisoning, and time spent next to 4 foot wide guys in 2 foot wide seats than most other humans on this earth, even those who also travel full time.  Read the rest of this entry »