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Creating Products That Already Exist… Kind Of…

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 23, 2015
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Five years ago today, I wrote a post highlighting a product I’d created about 5 years earlier as it pertains to my leadership coaching and training business. The post was titled Mitchell Employee Evaluation Module because that’s what the title is of the item as well. If you want to skip the post and just check out the item itself, click here.


Although I talked about the item in that previous post, it was fairly clinical and pretty short. I just told what it was then; I was in a period where I remembered that I had products and wanted to get the word out. The strange thing is I never wrote about it on my business blog; I’m going to have to rectify that, and soon.

I didn’t talk about the process of creating it and a moment of indecision about it. I figured this was a good time to talk about that because, though it’s not a fascinating tale, it’s an inspirational one, if I say so myself. :-)

If you’ve ever been an employer, you know it can sometimes be difficult to conduct interviews to find the right people for the position you need to fill. The problem is that for most positions there are a high number of people with close to the same qualifications and it can be hard to figure out which person to take. You also have to guard against perceptions of favoritism, racism, sexism, and a host of other isms. Truthfully, I hated having to go through the hiring process as a director.

If it’s that stressful to hire employees, try imagining what it might be like hiring someone for a leadership position. Then imagine what it’s probably like for people who might be looking for someone with certain qualities on one day of interviews, then suddenly changes the next day. It can get pretty ugly for many people.

It was never a problem for me though. I always knew the type of people I wanted to put into leadership positions. As you can imagine, I was also kind of different than the norm, and in the right position to do so.

Health care billing is one of those positions where a person without a college degree can actually be promoted into a supervisory position. Depending on the hospital, many can also get promoted into director positions if they show they have the skills in bringing in money and managing what we call the front end of the revenue cycle process. You don’t need to know all of that; what you need to know is that those types of jobs don’t always require a college degree.

Or do they? That actually depends on the hospital. There are many hospitals across the United States that not only require a degree, but want some kind of certification as well. There’s very groups that offer certifications in that respect, which means it’s pretty expensive to get those degrees. Therefore, not everyone has one; I don’t. However, I’ve done pretty well; I did help a hospital increase their revenue by $730 million in one year after all (yeah, I’m bragging lol).

It was the “do they or don’t they” question that prompted me to create the module. I sat down and came up with categories I felt were important in deciding what type of person an employer might need. Then I came up with different qualities under each category. In all, I ended up with 46 qualities.

I then created a spreadsheet for employers to use. The basic idea was to first answer a series of questions that lead hiring parties to determine what they were actually looking for. The next step was to go through the 46 qualities, based on the other answers, and pick 10 overall qualities they wanted in new managers.

This helped for two reasons. One, it made those who had to do the hiring actually evaluate what they needed and why. Two, it gave them the option of deciding if they needed that degree or not.

Just so you know, most of the time when people are hiring and ask for a degree, they don’t really need someone with a degree. It’s use is aimed at reducing the number of applications that come in for a position. Some might not want me telling you that, but I’m not in HR. lol

It was during the period of creating the spreadsheets when I had a minor dip in faith. This led me to talk to my friend Kelvin, who now runs a business called Intensely Positive. I hadn’t told him I was creating the product until I’ve reached this point, so he just listened as I explained the whole thing to him.

My issue wasn’t that there were other products on the market that could help employers figure out how to hire people. They weren’t exactly like mine, so I had that going for me. My issue was that I was creating spreadsheets that would become part of the package.

I said to Kelvin “These are just spreadsheets I’m creating in Excel. Anyone could sit down at a computer and do this.”

His response was quick: “They could, but they didn’t. You did.”

Truthfully, that’s all it took for me to go ahead and finish, which I did by the end of the next week. Other than my books and CD series, it was the first product I created. Not that I’ve sold a lot of them, but I have sold some. Back then I actually had to mail them out; now it’s a quick download. Luckily, it doesn’t need to be updated either; whew!

This is the beauty of creating products. Sure, there might be something similar, but nothing is actually a total copy when you think about it. Our buddy Troy Sweezy convinced me to read a book titled Steal Like An Artisticon, and the author pretty much said this same thing, that being very few things are actually new in today’s world. People either improve them or make them different in some way so that people believe they’re totally new.

If you’re using the excuse that “it already exists” or “why would anyone buy from me”, get rid of it now. Create your product, put it out there, market it, work it, and sell it; go ahead and do your thing. Even if it doesn’t become the next blockbuster thing that makes you a millionaire… you created a product! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Of Course We All Look Good On Social Media

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 16, 2015
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Oh, the angst!

Every once in a while I start a post, can’t quite figure out what direction I want to go, and save it to draft. I figured it was time to pull this one out of draft and go ahead and get it written because recently there was something that happened that fits right in with this theme.

Ricky Tang via Compfight

Last week a young and very pretty model who has a major Instagram following decided it was time for her to shut down her account. The reason she gave for shutting down the account is she felt it was telling people a lie about how good and perfect her life was. She said she didn’t feel that way at all, and that social media had turned her into a liar.

I’m not going to say that some people don’t have good reasons for deciding to shut down part of their social media activities while keeping other parts open. For instance, I know quite a few people who have shut down either their Facebook or Google+ pages, saying that they were more trouble than they were worth. I actually understand that, as I’ve been contemplating shutting down my Facebook business page because it’s not doing what I had hoped it would do for my business.

However, that’s more of a business decision, not a personal decision where I’m saying “Oh my goodness, social media is hurting my feelings” or “Other people seem to have a lot better life than me and I can’t take it anymore.” I have my hands in a lot of fires, and one of the things about working for yourself is that sometimes you have to redirect your attention towards those things that are helping you to survive.

Frankly, I’m starting to get a little irritated with all the angst (goodness, used that one twice in one post lol) that some people have with social media. So let’s look at this concept of whether we put the best of us on social media and therefore were lying to people.

As you will see in the video below, which I hope you watch, I mention that nobody wants to follow someone on social media who’s making them depressed all the time. Most of us tend to share those things that bring us comfort. I think that’s fair, and it’s probably that kind of thing most of us want to see.

Have you noticed that the people who share all the bad stuff that’s always showing them being depressed are the ones who usually end up doing something stupid or having something happened to them? I’m thinking that if I had someone like that in my stream I might want to call the police and ask them to go to that person’s house to check on them every once in a while.

I’ve met some folks who’ve said that they recognize people get worried about some of that things they write. Well, if that’s what either make them happy or something that’s they’re worried about, they can either stick with it or make the change. As for the rest of us, we all get to decide whether we want to consume that kind of thing or not.

I can truthfully say that over all the years I’ve been online, I’ve shared mainly funny things that have happened to me. I’ve shared a lot of good things, but I’ve also shared some bad thing. I think that when we really look at it honestly, that’s it microcosm of our lives. Everything isn’t always great, but everything also isn’t always bad.

There are a lot of bad things that I will never share with anyone on social media because it’s none of their business. I said that during a conversation I was having with a friend of mine early last week, when we got on this topic of privacy, or lack thereof, where I said that if people really don’t want others to know what’s going on with them then they need to learn how to shut up. What do you think of that?

Anyway, I cover a lot of things in the video so I’m going to wind down with this statement. Social media is a place where we both share and consume a lot of information. If you think what you’re putting out isn’t up to the standard that you want it to be, good or bad, then change it. If you can’t handle what you’re seeing or putting out, change it.

Just don’t blame social media for either you’re reaction to it or your participation in it. Sure, there are bullies and there are trolls we sometimes have to deal with. But those people would be jerks and idiots without social media; actually they are. Social media makes it easy for people to hide, but when all is said and done, we all know who the jerks in our lives are; we just need to get away from them.

Social media offers the easiest way of all; just turned everything off! Now, on with the video…


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Someone’s Still Going To Hate You So Do Your Thing

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 9, 2015
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There’s a book I own called Barefoot Executiveicon by Carrie Wilkerson. I was thinking about purchasing either the Nook version or the Kindle version because I read it years ago and I’ve been thinking about whether or not I want to read it again to refresh myself with it.

quote #69
Creative Commons License Stefany via Compfight

After checking the price on B&N I decided to see if there was a better deal on Amazon’s page for the electronic version. If you’ve ever been there you’ll have noticed that they have that intriguing ranking system where people can write reviews of the books or movies they’ve purchased. For whatever reason, even though I already own the book, I was drawn to the reviews of the book.

The book is ranked highly, 4.6 out of 5 stars. Around 91% of the reviews have given it 4 or 5 stars. And yet… that means 9% of the reviews gave it 3 stars or less.

I decided to read the bad reviews because I wanted to see the types of things those folks had to say. Some of the people didn’t think it offered enough specifics on how to be self employed. Some didn’t like the positive message without the detail. A few actually thought she was either bragging, self promoting or was a scam artist, part of what some of us know as the “make money online” group that may have only made money by telling people they were going to tell them how to make money when the only way they made money was to write a book on how to make money.

I thought “Wow, how could there be such a drastic disconnent”? How is it that the overwhelming majority of people like the book, but the few that didn’t either felt they didn’t get what they wanted or, gasp, didn’t like Carrie?

I decided to look at the rankings of a couple of books I’ve reviewed on this site to see how they were rated as opposed to how I rated them.

I started with Ask! by Ryan Levesque, which I really liked. Turns out 92% of the reviewers gave it between 4 & 5 stars, which means 8% didn’t like it. Once again, those who didn’t like it either hated what he had to say or hated him; ouch!

I then took a look at 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, a book I would have given a 3 1/2 if that was possible but, if pushed, I’d have given 3 stars. On Amazon, it’s received 84% of reviews with 4 or 5 stars, which means 16% of the people agree with me. However, the first review showing on the site says “there’s a sucker born every minute”. Another said it was a “get rich quick scheme for the shallow”; ouch! A few of the negative reviews disliked some of the same stuff I did… just a lot more than how I felt.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post here titled You Canโ€™t Please Everyone So Start With Pleasing Yourself. On my business blog in September I wrote a post titled Haters Gonna Hateโ€ฆ Do It Anyway. In both posts I talked about the need to be able to push aside your doubts about yourself and the potential derision of others and do what you think is right. In the second article I mentioned J.K. Rowling, the first author to become a billionaire only on book sales and how, even with the major success she’s had, there are detractors, people who’ve never written anything, saying they didn’t think she was that great a writer; pfft!

You know what? Blogging is harder than some people think it is. Social media is harder than some people think it is. You know what else? Life is harder than some people think it is. We can decide to act out of fear or we can decide to act out of courage and go for our dreams and goals. It all depends on what you want out of life. Fear is easy; courage is hard.

Take it from me, a self employed guy for the last 14 or so years. It’s not easy; I’m not going to lie and say it is. But it’s been quite the trip, and I’ve done things I never would have if I had stayed the course most people do, not trying to create anything, not writing my blogs or articles, or anything else I’ve done. Some things work; some don’t. What I don’t do is wait for everyone else’s approval; it’s never coming.

So… what are you going to do today?

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The Stuff You Haven’t Been Told About How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 2, 2015
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Back in May I wrote a post talking about trying to make my sites mobile friendly. I shared some links in that post where you can check to see if your sites are ready for mobile or if they need some work. I also had a few gripes in that post; that’s because no matter what I was reading, I just couldn’t figure things out.


At least my blogs were all fine, thanks to WP Touch. I use the free version because I don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with it, but it’s a fabulous program that helps WordPress blogs become mobile friendly. If you’re not using this and aren’t mobile friendly, it’s a plugin you need to check out.

For the rest of us… well, it’s basically taken me over 5 months to finally figure out what was going wrong with all that I’d been trying to do to get my sites mobile compliant, and when I finally figured it out, it turns out that the information wasn’t on any of the websites I’d been reading. So, I’m going to address some of what I discovered on my quest; some is on other sites, some isn’t, and some wasn’t explained fully. These won’t be in any particular order, but I’ll number them in case there’s some you already know and some you don’t.

1. Table coding structure

Do you see that code above in the image? All coders know that, except for a couple of enhancements, that’s the basic table coding structure for websites. This particular snippet is the code I use when I put images on my blog posts, whether they’re mine or whether I’m using the Compfight plugin, which finds free images that are allowed to be used via Flickr and Creative Commons.

Anyway, most websites use this structure to put their websites together, whether or not they also use CSS (cascading stylesheets). At least they use it as an initial basis because it’s stable and helps lock many elements into place.

The problem as it concerns mobile comes when you’re designating specific sizes that might be higher than what mobile will allow in general. I’m one of those anal types who usually set my initial tables at 90%, which means that my content would spread out over 90% of the space on someone’s monitor. I’ve always thought that helped things look pretty cool… but it turns out that it ends up fighting anything you try to do with mobile. It’s the reason this code I had found, meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width initial-scale=1″, wouldn’t work on any of my sites; ugh. What I decided to do was take out the width connected with my main tables. That helped a great deal… but there’s more (as always lol).

On some of my sites I was using the Google box ads. To make them format within my content I used the same table code.

On my medical billing site, the size of the menu on the left side and the size of the table in the content made the mobile version too big. I couldn’t shrink the size of the menu, so I had to remove the box code. That brought the pages on that site that I altered into compliance, and instead of fighting to keep the side box I switched to a different code… which I’ll come back to later.

On my main business site, I totally removed all secondary tables and went back to original coding instead, using the main table only and breaking the two columns up by using the tag. I also altered the size of the two columns by making the width of the first td tag to 15% and the second one to 50%. I needed to go with the 65% because on that site I have two images up against each other, and they wouldn’t show properly if I reduced the size of the columns more.

2. Logo images

If you go to the page that talks about speed, it’ll recommend that you reduce the size of your images so they’ll load faster. What they don’t tell you is that you might need to reduce the width of your images as well for true mobile compliance.

On my medical billing site, the logo was 793 pixels; on my business site the combined size of the two images was around 850 pixels. That’s way bigger than the allowed size for the initial mobile size, thus you’ll never be mobile compliant that way. Although I loved the way the larger images looked, I knew I had to make a change.


For the medical billing site, I reduced the width of the image to 400 pixels. On my main browser it’s definitely smaller, but still looks pretty cool. On my business site, I went a totally different direction and changed the height to 100 pixels for both images. It reduced the size of them both enough so that they would be compliant. The only problem I have is that if you look at it on the phone lengthwise the first image sits on top of the other one but I can deal with that because one, I doubt many people will be looking it up on their phone (maybe the blog), but two, if they’re like me they’ll probably turn their phone sideways, where they line up properly.

3. Google code

If you read that previous post, you will have seen my little rant that one of the issues turns out to be Google’s own stupid code. The code size that always worked the best was the 728×90 ad, which one normally put at the top of a page. Well, that 728 is way too big for mobile phones, so it looked like Google wasn’t giving us a choice of what to do.

Turns out they had made a relatively recent change that I didn’t know about, that I learned of from Lisa Irby’s YouTube channel, where she was talking about responsive ads and how one of her friends had doubled his income since switching. I don’t know about all that, but what I discovered is that if you use the responsive ad, it alters its size based on where people are viewing it. So, if it’s on their home browser they’ll get a big ad, even bigger than the 728, and if it’s on the phone and people aren’t blocking those ads they’ll show up perfectly for them and as big as they’re allowed.

I tried this out on my medical billing site and it works wonders! However, remember earlier when I was talking about using the tables for the ads within my content? For some reason the responsive ads won’t work if confined, and the table made the overall size for the phones being viewed lengthwise that it took them out of compliance. What I’ve done instead is killed that side box and put a second responsive ad at the end of the content. Since I was only running two ads on each page, and hopefully people are reading all the way to the end of those articles… all should be good long term, and I’m still mobile compliant.

4. Viewport code

Remember that viewport code I shared above? I had a couple of pages where I was having trouble with it in that form. The Google insights page kept saying to use the code as given; forget that mess. Most of today’s smartphones will handle a width size of up to 525 pixels, so what I did was alter the code and make the width 500. I had seen this figure altered on a couple of pages I visited while trying to figure things out. However, what none of them did that I did was to leave the second part of that script in there, the initial-scale part. For some reason it helped bring everything together; I can’t explain it but it worked. :-)

By making all these changes, my pages were suddenly mobile compliant; yay! That doesn’t mean they’re perfect by any means. If I put the code into the insights page, it keeps finding recommendations to make to try to get to 100%. However, the main thing we all want to achieve is compliance, since that’s the thing Google is penalizing some of us for, and these changes overcame that.

To think, it only took me 5 months! lol Hopefully, if you’ve run into any problems this will help you solve some of them. I still have a ways to go to get to all the pages on those two sites, and I have one more site where the coding was so intensive that I’m going to have to do something drastic with it… but at least I now know what needs to be done… and you do also. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I Wouldn’t Have Commented If…

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 26, 2015
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I love reading and commenting on other blogs. I know some people think it’s too time consuming to do, but I enjoy reading a lot of different types of things. I also love encouraging bloggers, as well as having an opinion on stuff; hey, look at how many articles I’ve written on all my blogs. :-)

(64/365) Really really really ow...
Creative Commons License Sarah via Compfight

However, I have some rules for blogs I won’t comment on. One, if it takes my having to create some kind of account or having to put in a password or register, I’m not commenting; sometimes I won’t even read those blogs. This means if your blog uses Disqus, Livefyre, or something like that, or if it’s on some website that requires people to join, I’m not going to bother. Yeah, it’s kind of a picky thing, but there’s so many other blogs out there that are enjoyable and easy enough to comment on without having to deal with it. After all, I don’t have unlimited time.

Ah yes, let’s look at this “unlimited time” thing. You know, visiting blogs and leaving comments does take time. When I’m in the mode though, I don’t mind that. However, there’s something I do mind, and a lot of y’all are now doing it.

I hate going to a blog, commenting, and then immediately receiving your stupid email asking me to confirm that I want to subscribe to blog comments. Come on; are you kidding me?

When’s the last time someone left a “real” comment on your blog and didn’t want you, the writer, to respond to it? I’m not talking about those lousy one line comments or those that tell you how great a writer you are but never address the content. I mean real comments, those you know aren’t bad, even if they’re not great.

I know when… never!

When’s the last time someone left a comment on your blog that was pretty good, only for you to discover that they put someone else’s email in it so that, when you responded, you got an angry email from someone saying “Hey, I didn’t comment on your blog”?

I know when… never!

So then… what’s the purpose of this double opt-in process other than to clog up my inbox? Actually, I know it’s a trick by some folks because when I read the email it actually talks about subscribing to receiving a newsletter whenever you post something new; I hate that kind of bait and switch.

For the rest of you though… come on, what’s the point of this? I’m serious; I just don’t get it.

I know what some folks are going to say; don’t click in the box. There’s another little bugaboo I’m going to gripe about.

For most blogs, if you don’t click that little box, you’re not going to be notified if the writer or anyone else responds to your comment. My blog is like that, as I had to add the plugin because my theme is older, and at the time no one was getting notified that I was responding to them.

There are a few blogs where, by clicking in that box, you end up getting that email with the subscription message, but if you don’t click on it you still get notified when someone replies to your comment. That’s not the norm though.

If people actually click on the box, they want to get comments; trust me on this one. If they don’t… well, we never know who clicks on it and who doesn’t (at least I don’t), but if the comment is good enough and you care about your blog and “all” of your readers, you’re going to respond to the comment anyway right? RIGHT?!?!? :-)

Please, for the love of chocolate, turn off that feature, whether you’re doing it for comments or trying to sneak through a subscription to a newsletter (if you are, you’re being kind of scummy). It’s unneeded… unless someone can give me a really good reason for doing it. Remember though, I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years, so it better be good!

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