Archive for October, 2008

Lessons From My First Two Months of Blogging

It has been just over two months since I started serious blogging.  Yes, I have posts archived back to 2005, but it was not until the end of August that I started serious blogging.  By serious blogging I mean:

  • writing most of my own posts, rather than simple linking to articles on the web
  • aiming to provide value for my readers
  • working to bring readers to my blog (before August I averaged less than five visits a day).

For the last two months I have been diligent about writing my own original content that aims to provide value for my readers.  I have also have consistently worked on marketing the blog to attract new readers.  Hopefully some of what I have learned will also help you.

Photo by Star-dust

Photo by Star-dust

1. Writing Takes the Most Time

One of the biggest surprises for me was in how much time the writing process takes.  I’ve always considered myself a pretty fast writer, and compared to a lot of people that is true.  At work, I seem to be able to write quicker than many of my colleagues, when I was a student I could write faster than other students, and generally my writing speed is pretty high.  Even with that, it still takes longer to write than I had expected.  An average post takes about two hours to write, prepare and post.  Generally the first draft takes an hour, and the review, formatting and posting takes another hour.  The good news is that if I am consistent at putting in an hour a day, I can write and post about three articles a week.  I have been generally fairly consistent at using my Power Hour for this purpose.

2. Marketing Can Be Done One Step at a Time

Because writing good material is my priority, it means that marketing must happen a little more slowly than I had expected.  I have learned enough about promoting a blog that I could easily spend several 40 hour work weeks simply promoting the blog.  However, I have a busy life including my job as a professor, and my rapidly growing home business.  As such, I aim to take one step at a time in expanding my marketing efforts.  I set marketing goals for my blog each week as part of my weekly planning process, and work towards those goals each week.

3. Network, Network, Network

Probably the priority in my promotion efforts has been to establish a presence online by networking with other bloggers and blog readers.  Just like most traditional bricks-and-mortar small business, networking is the lifeblood of my blog. Blogs are not in competition with each other, rather the growth of one blog can support the growth of other blogs (Zen Habits author Leo Babauta has a great post about how success isn’t a competition).   There are several ways that I network with other bloggers and readers:

  • leave good comments, including links to my articles when appropriate
  • help increase awareness about other good blogs and articles (through sharing links on my blog, submitting their work to Digg! or StumbleUpon.)
  • be in email contact directly with other bloggers

4. Contribute with Guest Articles

Another great way of promoting this blog has been through writing guest articles for other blogs.  Certainly this is a little more time consuming than some of the other marketing ideas, but it has been a very valuable way at connecting with new readers.  I have only gotten started at making a serious effort to write for other blogs, but what I have done has made a big difference.  Many of you may have first found your way here through guest posts including my recent guest article at Dumb Little Man. My current goal is to submit one article each week to another blog for a guest post.

5. StumbleUpon!

Again, I’m fairly new to using StumbleUpon but it has been a significant source of traffic.  If you are unfamiliar with StumbleUpon, it is a unique internet community that allows users to recommend websites to other users with similar interests.  My two biggest days for visitor numbers have been when a post received a number of “stumbles”.
Here is a great post about how to use StumbleUpon to increase your traffic.

6. Switching to WordPress and Getting A Domain Name

The first thing I did when I was getting prepared to start blogging more seriously was to switch from Blogger to WordPress and get my own domain name.  This entire process was easier than I expected.  The actual switch process took less than an hour, and learning to use WordPress was very simple.  I find WordPress easier to use and more functional than Blogger.   There are many free WordPress themes to choose from and many Plugins to make it work best for you. If you are looking to make the switch you can read this post about the process.

Hopefully these six steps will be helpful for you and your blogging or internet marketing efforts. Between now and the New Year my blog goals are:

  • Double the number of subscribers and daily visitors
  • Continue to publish guest posts around the internet
  • Make a few small improvements to blog theme
  • Add a few more static pages such as a FAQ section

How Can You Help?

  • Share this blog!  Email your friends or add a link on your site
  • Stumble the blog or your favorite article with StumbleUpon
  • Comment on your favorite article
  • Share feedback by emailing danny (AT) secondincometeam.com

Thanks for all of your support.  Have a great day!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on October 28th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  7 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Focus, Productivity, and Becoming a Master Communicator

Another week is in the book and its time to plan for your success in the next week.  Here are some excellent articles from around the internet that I came across recently.

1. Mark and Angel Life Hack share an excellent list of 18 Means for Living Below Your Means.

2. The Art of Manliness shares How to Write a Thank You Note.

3. Productivity 501 has a great post on how to Focus for Results.

4. Read about 3 Reasons to Reject the Culture of Consumerism at the Success Soul Blog.

5. The blog, Freelance Switch, shares about 50 Ways to Improve Your Productivity.

6. Finally, I had a guest post this week at Dumb Little Man on How to Become a Master Communicator.
Enjoy this list and have a great week!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

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Posted on October 26th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »

Do the Extraordinary

As a follow up to my recent post sharing my Favorite TED talks, I wanted to share another great lecture I came across.

Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Work Week, one of my Top 10 Book Choices, spoke at The Do Lectures (a conference designed to inspire people to DO exceptional things).

Here is the video, followed by my 10 observations from the lecture.

1. When perceived difficulty of a task is high; fewer people will try it, thus making it easier -  This is why Tim challenges people to set big goals that everyone else things is impossible.  If everyone thinks things are impossible or unattainable, that very perception will make the task easier.

2. Set big, world changing, goals – Because of point #1, you should set big goals that will allow you in some way to change the world.

3. Design clear actionable steps – Whatever goals you have, you need to create clear actionable steps around that goal.  This fits very closely with the Getting Things Done plan of defining the next action step for each project you are working on.  Break down your world changing goals into clear actionable steps.

4. Don’t believe people who say you can’t do it – If you are doing something that is perceived to be impossible, you will have lots of people who will say it is impossible.  Realize that they are wrong, and don’t listen to them.  Instead, surround your people who have already done it, or who will encourage you.

5. Only listen to people who have done it, who have accomplished the impossible – The people you should listen to are the ones who have already accomplished something impossible.  If someone has done the impossible thing that you want to do, then that person is first.  If no one has done the thing you want to do, look for people who have done similar impossible things.  Tim calls these people the “Dark Horse Role Models”.

6. You need to be able to recruit people to help you – If you set a big enough goal you will need to be able to recruit people to get your message out.  Interestingly, small goals will draw very few supporters, but big world-changing goals will be easier to recruit people to help you.

7. Think exponentially and not linearly – As you work towards achieving your big goals think about exponentially.  Think about big gains, not small gains.  Think about big growth that people can get excited about joining in on.

8. Convert lack of resources into strengths –  Tim suggests “writing down the positives about whatever you view as your negatives.”  Once you start to look at those areas as strengths you can capitalize on those areas.  Whatever your weaknesses are, there are strengths corresponding strengths in the marketplace.

9. Make your message really clear – This is an important principle in any type of communication. Tim says, “people can hate you or dislike you but they shouldn’t be confused by your message.”  The crux of a clear message is giving the audience a clear actionable next step.

10. Create fun competition – One way to encourage activity amongst the people you have recruited is to create fun competitions.  People like competition, and some people – particularly people who already get things done – will do far more simply because of a competition.

Here is Tim’s Post about the lecture.

Written by:
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on October 24th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »

Top 5 Great TED Talks

Recently I wrote an article entitled 6 Ways to Grow Daily, and the subsequent follow up, how to create a reading plan and where I shared my Top 10 Book Choices.  Today’s article follows in that series by providing another way for your professional development – TED!

Are you familiar with TED?  TED is an annual conference held for top leaders in the fields of Technology, Education, and Design.  The conference is very exclusive, with a detailed application process, and an expectation that you will only be accepted if you are top leader in your particular field.  At the conference this exclusive group of people is exposed to 50 top notch lectures from other leaders, authors, and educators.  There are no breakout sessions, instead everyone gets every lecture all together. The goal is to literally change the world with this group of leaders as a starting point.

Naturally, because the event is so exclusive, the likelihood of any one person being able to attend the event for personal development reasons is slim-to-none.  Fortunately, TED talks are also made available online. The videos have become a top source of online personal growth and learning about a wide variety of subjects.  With numerous videos from several years of recent TED conferences means that you have hours and hours of videos right at your disposal.

So how do you narrow them down?  Obviously you will need to search their database for areas of personal interest, but to help you out here is my top 5 TED talks list:

1. Malcom Gladwell – author of The Tipping Point & Blink

Talk: What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce

2. Tony Robbins – author of Unlimited Power & Awaken The Giant Within

Talk: Why We Do What We Do

3. Seth Godin – author of Purple Cow & The Dip

Talk: Sliced Bread

4. Billy Graham – evangelist (See: Autobiography: Just As I am)

Talk: Technology, Faith, and Suffering

5. Richard St. John – author of 8 to be Great

Talk: Secrets of Success in 8 Words & 3 Minutes

This list will give you a great start.  Do you have a favorite TED talk?  Which is your favorite out of these five?  What other talks would you recommend?  Share the details below and we continue to help others grow.

To your success,
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on October 20th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  10 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Achieving, Investing and Ideas for Giving

Each Sunday I’ll share some of the favorite articles that I have come across in the last week.

1. On Wise Bread, you can read about how Young Investors Should Stay The Course.

2. Get Rich Slowly shares about Warren Buffutt’s Ten Secrets to Wealth and Life.

3. The Christian Personal Finance blog shares Ideas For Giving.

4. Dumb Little Man asks Do You Keep an Achievement Book?

5. Yaro Starak @ Entrepreneurs-Journey asks Is Internet Marketing Just Another Fools Gold Rush?

And finally, from the archives.  The most read article from this blog: Six Steps to Plan Your Week for Success.

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

Posted on October 19th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  1 Comment »

Entrepreneurship: A Key for Poverty Reduction

Today is blog action day.  All around the world, thousands of blogs will be writing about the same issue – poverty.  There are many ways to combat poverty.  One of the methods that is increasing in importance is microcredit.  Microcredit has come under the world spotlight over the past several years. The United Nations declared 2005 the Year of Microcredit and in 2006, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, considered to be the founder of microcredit, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

What is Microcredit?

Microcredit is the use of small loans to people who are too poor to qualify for standard bank loans. The goal of the loan is to help them move out of poverty by helping them start or expand some form of business known as an income generating activity. The loan is then paid back quickly, generally in one year or less. Payments are made weekly with interest paid as part of those weekly payments. Microcredit caries a natural appeal to people who might be skeptical of traditional methods of international aid because it promotes the idea of a “hand up not a hand out”.

In March of this year I was privileged to take a brief trip to Bangladesh to witness the work of the microcredit division of an organization called Child Development Network.  This was a profound trip that opened my eyes to the issues of global poverty and how microcredit can be used in the fight.

Income Generating Activities – Entrepreneurship

Rickshaw Driver in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Microcredit is all about supporting and developing entrepreneurs.  Loans are made for income generating activities – in other words for small (sometimes very small) businesses.  Some examples from Bangladesh include:

* Rickshaw drivers – one common purchase with a microcredit loan is a rickshaw.  Rickshaws are often used instead of taxis in Bangladesh.  A loan for one rickshaw generally creates two jobs, as the owner will use it for 10-12 hours a day, and then hire an employee to drive it for the remainder of the day.  Enterprising people will turn their profits from their first rickshaw into a second rickshaw that they hire employees for.

Farmer in the slums of Dhaka

Farmer in the slums of Dhaka

* Farmers – in rural areas the farmers are the primary entrepreneurs to benefit from microcredit.  Money is often used for a cow or a bull.  The farmer is able to sell the milk and the calves to create an income, and slowly over time increase their herd.  Even in the slums of

the city entrepreneurs will set up small farms (see photo).

* Small Shops – some entrepreneurs set up small stores with their loans.  These are generally small tin shacks with an open front for customers to come to.  They sell everyday use items such as soap and toothpaste, as well as some basic foodstuffs.

* Fruit and Vegetable stands – similar to the shop owners, some people develop fruit and vegetable stands where they are able to sell fresh produce that has come in to the city from the countryside.

Sewing Shop

Sewing Shop

* Sewing shop – another popular use of microcredit is to purchase a sewing machine and do sewing services for people.  Again, this has the potential to create many jobs as people often will pay off their first sewing machine and use future income to purchase a second machine and start hiring people.

Benefits of using Microcredit

1. Freedom from moneylenders
Microcredit moves the debt out of the hands of moneylenders who charge extremely high rates of interest. These borrowers are not eligible for loans from traditional banks for many reasons. In general, they are not considered to be viable borrowers. Usually, they do not have a suitable form of collateral, many are illiterate, and often the loans are so small that the bank would not make enough profit to cover the costs of completing the paperwork. Because of this, people who are already struggling with severe poverty are forced to go to the money lenders. Much to the surprise of the traditional banks, microcredit organizations tend to have repayment rates around 98%.

2. Creating savings
Many microcredit organizations require beneficiaries to save for the future. Dr. Yunus’ Grameen bank requires that 5% of each loan is saved on a weekly basis in a group fund.  Other organizations save the funds on behalf of the borrowers allowing for the funds to be used only in cases of emergency. Beyond required savings, many microcredit organizations allow borrowers to save at their own initiative. By encouraging people to save for their future they are able to help people prepare for the possibilities of floods, famines or other disasters, as well as saving for future purchases.

3. Empowerment of Women
Another advantage of microcredit is that most loans are made primarily to women. This results in significant empowerment for women in cultures that often have very few rights for women. Empowerment also comes through the relationships that women develop. As women meet weekly with other borrowers they develop relationships that help them both with business growth and other life goals.

4. Providing Other Services
The framework of microcredit provides for the possibility for organizations to provide borrowers with many other services.  The variety of extra services is vast and may include provision of health care and disease prevention, literacy programs, as well as savings and insurance programs. One of the most important services that many microcredit organizations focus on is training. The group approach especially provides opportunity for easy and efficient training whether on business skills, character development.

5. Multiplication of Donations
The donations that are made also have a multiplier effect as the money is often loaned out several times. Each time it is repaid it is loaned out to another beneficiary. This is a big part of what makes it so appealing to donors.  The multiplication effect can be even greater when you consider that more than one job is often started from each loan. As the borrower grows her business, she is able to hire other people increasing the level of employment in the region.

Further, the lending agency should eventually be able to become a self-sustaining enterprise. After an initial period of funding from outside organizations, the lending agency will be able to continue to expand their services to more and more beneficiaries by simply using existing revenues.

6. Poverty Alleviation
Naturally the big benefit of microcredit is that it helps people move out of poverty.  This is a slow and steady process that occurs as borrowers grow their business. As their standard of living increases through their business or other income generating activity the borrowers move past the point of fighting for survival and are able to start dreaming about the future.

It may take a year or two for a borrower to move from $1 a day in income to $2 a day in income. By progressing even in this small way, the borrower is able to substantially improve their life. The goal for borrowers with their extra income is to move to a point where they are not worried on a daily basis about what they will eat. This moves people from a point where they are barely surviving to a point where they are able to start to focus on other goals.  Normally the next goal becomes providing education for their children.

Book Recommendations

Banker for the Poor – Muhammad Yunus – The original book on microcredit, written by the man many consider to be the founder.

A Billion Bootstraps – Thurman and Smith – A thorough book looking at the use of microcredit and related services for poverty alleviation

End of Poverty – Jeffery Sachs – The most important book written in recent years on the topic of poverty

Action Steps

Before blog action day ends today you need to take action.  Here are a few concrete options:

1. Phone your favorite international aid agency and ask them how you can support microcredit through them.

2. Visit  http://www.kiva.org/ to personally loan to an entrepreneur.

3. Sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision.

Final Comment

Poverty needs to be all of our concerns.  Too often we neglect to care for world wide poverty because it doesn’t hit close to home.  As a Christ-follower, it frustrates me that the Christian church often focuses on secondary (even petty) issues rather than the important work of fighting poverty.  After all Jesus started his ministry with poverty on his heart:

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. ”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:16-20).

Written by:
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on October 15th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  6 Comments »

The Principle of Thankfulness

Photo by Goodrob13

There are very few things in life that have the power to encourage, inspire, and provide peace of mind and bring happiness all at the same time.  Being thankful is one of those things.

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Being a Canadian who is married to an American, I get the joy of two separate Thanksgiving days! On the surface level this brings us two occasions to feast on Turkey, and two times to gather with friends and family.  On a deeper level it provides two distinct times to reflect on everything we have and to be thankful for it.

Of course, no one needs to wait until Thanksgiving Day to be thankful.  Instead, we should each develop the habit of thanksgiving so that we are thankful on a daily basis.  There are so many benefits to being thankful that we simply can’t wait for special occasions to be thankful.  This is true (and perhaps easier) when things are good in life, but it is also true (and perhaps even more important) in tough times.  Whatever your situation, there are many befits to cultivating thankfulness in your life.

Benefits of Thankfulness

1. Thankfulness focuses your minds on the good things of life

When you are taking the time to give thanks you are naturally focusing on the good things in life.  It is the good things of life that you reflect on with joy as you list or receipt the things in life you are thankful for.  The bad things will drift away as you continue to reflect on all that is good in life.

2. Thankfulness helps you think of the big picture

Generally, what you express thanksgiving for are the big things in life.  You give thanks for things like your health and your family.  You don’t normally give thanks for little things that we fill our lives.  Certainly you should be thankful for these things also, but the process of thanksgiving forces you to think about the big picture things.  Chances are that you may have many little things in life that are a struggle, and yet the big things in life are likely doing ok.

3. Thankfulness reduces stress

Thinking of the things that you are thankful for takes our minds of the things you are not happy with, thus helping to reduce your stress.  The areas of your lives that you are struggling with are the ones that are creating stress.  Take your mind of those things and focus on all of the things that are right about your life.  These are the things to give thanks for.

4. Thankfulness provides hope for the future

By reflecting on everything you have to be thankful for you are setting up yourselves to have more hope for the future.  You are able to think about all of the ways that things have gone right in the past, all of the good things you have been able to achieve or accomplish, and how God has consistently provided for you through good times and bad.  This sort of reflection can remind you what it is like to achieve your goals and to feel success in life.  Remembering these things tells your mind that you can once again achieve all of these things, and that once again you can reach your goals.

5. Thankfulness reminds you to be happy now

All too often people today are so caught up in work and in trying to achieve some goal, that they start thinking that we need to complete that goal in order to be happy.  The tendency is to view happiness as a step away, something you are working for.  In reality you have lots to be happy for right now.  Reflecting with thanksgiving on those things helps you to recognize that you have every reason to be happy right now.  Happiness isn’t something you need to pursue endlessly to achieve instead it is something you can have right now.

6. Thankfulness puts you in our proper place

Being thankful reminds us about how good we really have things, and how we really have more than we deserve. By being thankful, we are recognizing there is someone to be thankful to.  Whether you want to consider this as Mother Nature or God, or whomever, you are being thankful to someone outside of yourself for the good things in life.  For me, thankfulness points me to God as my provider for all things.

Tips to Developing the Habit of Thankfulness

There are many things you can do to express your thankfulness.  Taking the time to do these can help you make thankfulness a habit and bring you all the benefits I shared above.

* Write down what you are thankful for. – This can be a simple process, of taking some time to make a list of things that you are thankful for.  The list can either be in point form, or in more of a full-on journal entry.

* Tell others about the things you are thankful for. – On tradition common on Thanksgiving Day is for a family to go around the table and have each member share something they are thankful for.  Verbal testimony about things you are thankful for are powerful, because not only does it solidify the fact that you are thankful, but it serves as a reminder and encouragement to everyone who hears you.

* Meditate on the subject of thankfulness. – This involves quieting your mind and focusing on thoughts of thanksgiving.  Think about all of the different things in life that are good and that you are thankful for.  Allow your mind to wander from the very mundane things that you have to be thankful for, all the way to the extraordinary.

* Do something in recognition of what you have to be thankful for. -  Athletes and musicians do this all the time when they dedicate a performance to someone.  Authors do it when they dedicate their book to a loved one.  You can choose something you are thankful for and respond by doing something in honor or in dedication to that thing or person.  You don’t have to write a book, or sing a song.  You can do very basic, even mundane activities, as acts of thankfulness.  You can cut your lawn as an act of thankfulness to the fact that you own a home and have the money to pay your mortgage.  You can do your laundry in thankfulness for the fact that you have plenty clothes to wear.  And like the athlete, the artist, or the author, you can also dedicate big projects to others as a work of thankfulness.

Clearly we all have many things to be thankful for.  What about you?  What are you thankful for today? Use the comments on this blog as an opportunity for you to express your thankfulness in front of others.

Written by:
The Success Professor – Danny Gamache
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Posted on October 12th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  8 Comments »

Sunday Browsing: Irrationally Committed, Success, and Surviving Troubled Times

Each Sunday, I share some of my favorite articles from the past week. This week’s list has some excellent ones.

Seth Godin has a great little post about being Irrationally Committed to your goal.

In one of my favorite posts ever, Zen Habits shares why Success Isn’t a Competition. This article comes with a powerful offer of support for other bloggers.

Pick The Brain has a fantastic creative article using characters from The Matrix to teach about How to Survive in Troubled Times.

The financial blog No Credit Needed shares great ideas about Savings Account Allocation.

Finally, the blog LifeDev shares some thoughts on Generating Ideas and Inspiration from Social Media

Speaking of social media, you can find me on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?src=fftb#/profile.php?id=826085649&ref=profile

From the Archives:

How a fishing contest showed me lessons about how to act When Others are Absent

How a trip to the musical Wicked showed a powerful example of customer service (both good and bad)

Have a great week!

The Success Professor – Danny Gamache

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Posted on October 5th, 2008 by The Success Professor  |  No Comments »