Category Archives: Motivation/Inspiration

I’m In The Local Newspaper

Since most of you don’t live in the Syracuse, NY area, you will have missed this, especially because many of you also aren’t following me on Twitter (why not; don’t you see the big blue bird down there on the right?)

Anyway, yours truly made the local newspapers on Friday, but the article actually showed up online last week. I wrote about it on my business blog, in conjunction with some other stuff, but realized that I hadn’t included it here. Anyway, click here to see the brief story, and don’t let the picture scare you; the photographer told me to sit like that. lol It’s a brief story about people who work on maintaining positivity in their lives; I do that, but if you read what I say there, I admit that it’s not a 24/7 thing. It can’t be; if we don’t have down times, we never know what the really good times are. Check it out.

See, I can write short posts. 🙂

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The Psychology Of Gambling

Check out my Big RSS Subscriber Contest after reading this article.

This might seem like an odd post for this blog, but stick with me for a bit. Over the last couple of days, I’ve read some stories about people in positions of some type of authority that have been caught stealing money from their organizations and using that money to support their gambling habits. Locally, there is the story of a man who was just sent to prison for stealing $272,000 or so and spending it all on gambling. Then there’s another story of a former local school superintendent who embezzled at least $176,000 from his present school district, and has our local folks wondering if he did the same thing here. And I wrote in a newsletter how another person, this time at a hospital system in California, was able to embezzle over $750,000 over a two year period, and spent most of that on supporting her gambling habit.

I can tell you honestly that I can see the appeal to gambling, and I can also understand how it can consume you. I’m a poker player, and I have those periods of time when I want to retreat into myself and just go play poker. It’s a good thing I’ve become pretty good at it, so that, if I play long term, I will usually come out at least even, if not slightly ahead (I ended up coming back from Reno after all those weeks ahead by around $350), and that’s its appeal Everyone sees that big time score around the corner, that chance at the big, instant money, and the glory that comes with it. And glory does come with it, along with envy, because when you win, everyone else thinks they can win big also.

Anyway, I have felt that tug many times. I didn’t feel it in Reno, but I felt it when I was at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I felt it when I was at a conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Gambling is a solitary and social event all at the same time. If you play slot machines, you can sit at a machine for hours, but you’re out in public with a lot of other people doing the same thing, and you also have someone coming by you every twenty minutes or so to see if you want something to eat or drink. If you play poker, you sit at a table with a lot of other people. Sometimes it’s relatively quite, but other times it’s quite a social event, and man, I love hearing older people tell stories, whether they’re old poker stories or other types of stories. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good story.

When I go to the casino, I have one of two mindsets. There’s the mindset that I’m there to have fun. If that’s the case, then my intention is to be able to stick around for a very long time, sometimes as long as 14 hours, but I’m having fun, I’ve decided how much money I’m willing to lose for it all, and I don’t often come home a winner. Then there’s the mindset that I’m there to win. In this case, I know I’m going to stay for a relatively short period of time, maybe 2-3 hours, the amount I’m willing to lose is minimal, but I now start applying more of those poker skills that I’ve learned over the years, not taking any unnecessary chances, watching every player so I can figure out how they play, and I’m willing to sit for hours and just keep tossing my cards into the muck and wait for only those hands that I know will win, pretty much for sure. Because, in poker, there’s rarely a sure thing (four aces and royal flushes are extremely rare), so you have to be astute and keep your eye on everything, and then hope for the best, based on your calculations.

So, inherently, there is a psychology of gambling. Of course, this isn’t only an article about gambling at a casino. Every day there’s someone who’s ready to take another gamble at something. And, in this day and age, many people are gambling on some sort of business that they can run on their own. If I can, let me tell you about my entry into the consulting world.

I was working at a hospital system, and I started to notice that some thing were occurring that just didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the status of the organization. I like to think that, with enough information, I can read both people and situations, and I had a feeling something was about to occur. One day I was home on vacation and had what I call a Spidey sense moment. Something told me to go online and read the Rochester newspaper; just out of the blue, just like that.

I went to that site, and the big headline was something like “Hospital system closes hospital.” I knew that was coming in my heart of hearts, and had predicted it almost 3 months earlier. Sure, the proclamations had come down saying they’d never close that hospital because there wouldn’t be enough beds in the city to support it, but I had my information, and I knew it wasn’t true. I just didn’t know when; yeah, maybe I have my own ESP sense of things from time to time. From that point on, I knew I wouldn’t be working at this hospital system within 9 months.

Three months earlier, I had started thinking about my own exit strategy. I was 41 years old, and I knew that was a major defining moment in the life of a man, as to whether a man decides to stay with the status quo, or take a chance to do something else, whether extreme or just something they’ve never done before. I already had it in my mind that, though I might interview for another position, I really wanted to work for myself. I started doing some research, and I also put a little bit of money away, because I knew I wouldn’t jump right in and start earning the kind of money I was earning already, but had a shot at it eventually.

Less than two months after the one hospital had closed, I got word that my department, and two other departments in my own hospital, were being moved to another city. And, because they already had all the directors they needed, they’d create a supervisor position for me, but I’d have to take a 25% pay cut. Well, not only was the other city now another 30 minutes away from where I lived, and I was already driving 70 minutes to work each day, but a pay cut and a loss of freedom that I was used to in my present position, as the guy I’d be reporting to, well, I thought was kind of a jerk. So I said I wouldn’t go, accepted my severance and the offer of going on unemployment, and registered my business name two weeks after my last day on the job.

Talk about your major gamble! When one works in healthcare, they don’t really think of themselves as working in a business. In New York, all hospitals are not for profit, and the rules are different than for profit hospitals. Normally, if there’s only the one hospital in a community, you don’t have to worry as much about advertising because you’re the only close choice and everyone knows you’re there. So, I came into working for myself without some basic marketing or sales skills; I had no real clue.

That first year working on my own, which started in the middle of the year, I earned a little bit of money, nothing great, but fiscally the year ended pretty good. The next year was murder, though. In my first full year of working for myself, my profit was only $7,600; my second year profit was only around $17,000. Good thing I had a lot of credit, and good credit, but, as you know, one can’t live off that, even with my wife working a full time job. But everyone already in business said that if I could last to the third year, things would start to turn around. I wasn’t sure how, since I couldn’t really figure out what would magically change in my life to help it turn around. I had learned a little bit more about marketing, and had talked to a lot of people across the country, but I just wasn’t sure about it all.

On the verge of thinking about declaring bankruptcy, because I just wasn’t sure about it all, my mother called and wanted me to watch some program on TV. I did, and the speaker was giving some motivational words about never giving up, and always keeping a positive spirit and thought alive. Around that same time, I had started listening to motivational tapes and watched the movie The Secret, and started feeling pretty good. I got a paid request to repair someone’s computer, which I can do small repairs, and that paid something, not lots, but it was the start, as it was the first money I’d made that year. Then, only four working days later, I got the call I’d been waiting for, and my consulting business started to take off, and I’ve never looked back. Sure, there are ups and downs, but overall, my income had that opportunity at times to skyrocket, and I like that. Sure, there are those times when I’ll feel as though any control I have is a facade, but in general I have enough control to make sure that my yearly income is fairly steady.

But am I done? Well, obviously not. I actually have two dreams, rather goals, that, long term, I want to get to, and of course they’re going to involve a gamble of sorts. One, I want to be an almost full time professional speaker and seminars. I’ve actually already done a good number of each of these, but not enough so that I could consider them as second nature. I couldn’t live off the number I do now, but I’m working towards that. The other is to learn now to be an internet marketer, such that I wouldn’t have to worry about the long term consulting assignments again because I’d have a consistent income every month coming into the house from the internet. I think this second one is one that a lot of you have also.

But both are gambles. For instance, the time it takes right now to get one big time speaking engagement a year is phenomenal. There’s a lot of research that has to be done, then back and forth negotiations on the fee, then the outline and practice time and the rest of it. Frankly, while working for oneself, it’s hard to do and keep up with everything else. A part of me says that I might have to take a gamble and be ready to give up working on finding consulting assignments to try to get more speaking engagements. That’s not going to happen right now, but it’s something I have to think about. Internet marketing is another story. I don’t have to give up consulting to probably do it right, but I would have to give something up so that I could have more time to learn more things so that I could have the possibility of earning more money online.

It’s a gamble because sometimes it costs us to learn how to do it. In 2008 I spent around $125 to learn how to make more money online, and I did start making more money, oddly enough. The money that I’ll probably consistently make now will pay for the training material I’ve paid for and all of my online time. So that’s a good thing, right? Well, it’s a good start, because I have way more material, ebooks, reports and sound files, that I need the time to get through, that I need to make notes on that I can implement. All of you already know this; internet marketing isn’t as easy as those bad television commercials make it out to be. How many of you are making enough money with your blogs to support you for the rest of your life?

So, there’s really the thing about the psychology of gambling. It has to be recognized that everyone does it in some fashion, and that everyone needs to be able to find a way to control that gamble, or overcome the occasional bad gamble. Would you quit a job that was paying you $75,000 a year to buy your own rig and become a truck driver? I know someone who did, started slowly, then started making a lot of money, and now is back at a tough place because of the economy. However, had he stayed where he was, he’d have lost his job 2 years ago and had to figure out where to go next.

Life is a gamble, no matter what you do. If you think of it that way, you realize that sometimes the gamble is worth it, sometimes it’s not, but with enough information and study you have a better chance to succeed.

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The Sense Or Nonsense Of Captcha

I’ve written a lot of posts about commenting on other blogs, so many that at times it seems that’s all I talk about. Luckily, with as many posts as I write, it’s not true, but I still write about it often. My very first post about it was more of a rant, as I asked the question is it easy to comment on your blog? I’ve addressed a good many areas of commenting, but I’ve just noticed that there’s one thing I really haven’t talked about, and I’m surprised by it because it’s one of my big time rants, obviously to myself.

Funny CAPTCHA
Luke Jones via Compfight

I hate dealing with most of the “captcha” that people have on their blogs. For the uninitiated, “captcha” is what it’s called when people set up these special conditions for being able to leave a comment on their blog. I don’t mean registering; I mean having to type in those goofy little characters, or do a math problem, or answer the question ‘what is your mother’s maiden name’ or ‘what are you wearing’.

Okay, I’ve only seen that last one once, and I never went back to that blog (don’t ask which one it was, because I really don’t remember). Heck, for that matter, I’m going to include those few blogs where you leave a comment, then you receive email saying you have to click on a link before your comment will show up; are you kidding me?

I understand why people have captcha. We’re all irritated any time we get spam, and, supposedly, by setting up these captchas, it helps to eliminate almost all of these spam messages from getting through to our comment sections. I’ll also admit they’re pretty effective, but not perfect.

Heck, I advocate Akismet all the time, and I find it to be the most effective spam blocker for WordPress blogs that there is, but it doesn’t get it all because, well, spam is always evolving, and it takes Akismet time to learn how to deal with some of it. Still, it’s pretty good, and I couldn’t, at this juncture, recommend anything better.

It’s strongest suit is that I don’t have to have any kind of captcha on my sites. I don’t have to set up the ones where you have to type in some goofy letters, especially those where letters are either hidden slightly with lines being drawn through them, or with a similar background color as the letters, only slightly lighter so you can supposedly see the darker letters.

You know what? I have difficulty seeing these letters, and, at a certain point, I’m not going to comment on anymore blogs that have these things on them. There was a wonderful blog I read last night and went to leave a comment, and it was red lettering against a bright pink background. I had to try three times before I got it right. I mentioned it to the writer of the blog, who said he’d try something else, and the next colors were green against green; that wasn’t much better. I saw later that he tried blue against blue; ugh!

The Hardest Captcha.
Britt Selvitelle via Compfight

Then there’s the captcha that has the letters with swirly lines between them, and if you can’t see the letters it offers you the opportunity to listen to the letters. I’ve never been able to decipher a single one of those things, so I usually end up hitting the button that will recycle the letters at least once, sometimes multiple times, until I get a letter combination that I can actually interpret. Talk about being comment unfriendly.

I don’t mind the math captcha as much because I can at least see that. And there are some captchas that are easy enough to read that I don’t mind, but others I hate. For instance, I hate when you’ve written your comment, hit “send”, then you get another window with a captcha in it that you now have to fill out before you’re done. Why not have it already there so we all know it’s there beforehand?

Yeah, it’s only another few seconds, but quite often I’ve hit “send” and moved on to the next thing, only to come back to that window later on and find that my comment hasn’t gone through because I hadn’t completed their captcha thing yet; ugh!

Folks, for as many posts as I write and as long as some of them are, I also consume a high number of blogs and blog posts from other people. This means that when I leave a comment, I’m ready to move on (btw, most of the time I’ve perused the other comments before I write mine, unless there’s a lot of them, just to see if I’m going to be in agreement with many of them or taking a different avenue).

We all talk about wanting more visitors and subscribers. But when you make it hard on your visitors in any way whatsoever to interact with you, you risk alienating a lot of people, almost as many as when you have those subscription popups (yeah, y’all know I find those things irritating also).

I do understand that some blogging platforms, like Blogger, don’t have access to something like Akismet to protect them. At least, for the most part, I can read the letters on the traditional Blogger captcha. For the rest of you, please, find an easier, more inviting way to protect yourselves, and encourage your visitors to participate in the process.
 

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My Online Goals For 2009

I see the year 2009 as kind of a bellwether year in my personal and professional life, and therefore I figure I have to have goals that help me get to places I want to be eventually in both of my lives. Though I’m still working on coming to grips with it, I’ll be turning 50 at some point this year, even though, overall I don’t feel any older than 19 or 20, which is what my dad used to say to me all the time. But I am older; I feel it when I get on the floor for something and then have to try to get back up. I feel it in the mornings when my body aches and creaks as I try to get out of bed. I have a disease that I’m fighting all the time and not winning the battle, unfortunately, but I keep working on it, in my own way. Yet I’m always optimistic about life in general and my life, and my mother said she sees that as my strongest point.

So yes, more goals. I’ve been writing goals for years, probably starting in 1999, the year I turned 40, but I didn’t start putting them on the internet until 2006. I haven’t always reached my goals, but I don’t let that stop me from writing them and putting them in public, because one, we still have to have goals, and two, one is more apt to at least give a better effort to goals that they share with others than goals they keep to themselves.

First, I’m going to address last year’s goals, but I’m also doing something a little bit different this time around. In previous years, I’ve only put five goals together, and only written it on one blog, my business blog called Mitch’s Blog. This year, I’m putting the same beginning on each of my three blogs, then I’m putting different goals on each of those blogs, which means I’ll be accountable for 15 goals rather than just five. Talk about pressure! And yet, it’s no pressure at all because I should be able to achieve at least half of them this year, with some renewed faith, more and better planning, and of course all of you looking at me and saying “hey, what’s going on there?”

So, let’s look back at last year’s goals and see how well I did.

My first goal was to lose 25 pounds. No, that didn’t happen, and I’m ashamed that it didn’t happen, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying, at least initially. My weight stayed pretty much the same while I was home at the early part of the year, though I was exercising at least 4 days a week. I continued on my exercise plan and my eating plan, where I had a major change in February that didn’t result in weight loss, but did result in a drastic decrease in my glucose level, which was very important.

Then I started going out of town more, and on the first go-round I started gaining weight and my glucose went out of control. When that contract was over I came home, lost that extra weight and got my glucose back under control again, but didn’t lose any more weight than the bit I’d gained. Now I’m on a new consulting assignment all the way across the country, and even though glucose has gone up I haven’t gained a single pound since I’ve been gone. But I also haven’t exercised. So, I will be working on fitting exercise time in when I go back out of town, and work on modifying how I eat while I’m in a hotel room, especially now that I have a room with a kitchen in it. I’m sending back containers to pre-cook and measure some meals, which I’ve not been able to do before while on consulting assignments, so hopefully this will help me get everything back under control.

My next goal was to get caught up on my taxes. No, that didn’t happen, mainly because my consulting assignments were so spread out that I couldn’t put anything consistent together.

My next goal was to give speaking engagements in five states that I didn’t give one in before. That didn’t happen because the person I’d hired to help me book speaking engagements decided to get out of the business.

My next goal was to finish writing one of the many books I’d started. That didn’t quite turn out the way I had intended, but I did write an ebook on using one’s website as a marketing tool and started selling it online.

My final goal was to find the time to take a 3-day vacation. I haven’t had a vacation since 1998, or taken any real time off since 2001 (when I was still employed with someone else), and I had hoped this would be the year. I get to claim one trip a year as a business expense, but I didn’t get an overnight trip in this year, so no vacation. That’s not good, but I guess that’s my life to date.

Anyway, that’s a quick recap of my goals for last year. At this point, my goals will be different on each blog of mine, and I’ll be giving the links to each blog post so the most intrepid of you can check them all out to see what I’m hoping to do with myself in 2009. A couple will be repeated from what’s above, but not on the same blog; at least not all of them.

On this blog, I’m going to list my top five professional and personal goals for 2009. They are:

1. Earn at least $2,500 online. This is kind of an audacious goal for me, and yet I keep thinking it shouldn’t be this hard to do. When I gave my November report, I only gave the numbers for this blog and nothing else. I think I’m going to change that up for December and ongoing because I’m truthfully not expecting that blog to make that kind of money, though the money it makes I’ll love anyway, but I’d love to get to a point where I’m making enough online income that I really don’t have to do anything else if I’m not in the mood. However, one has to have a starting point, and I figure that since my overall online income for 2008 has increased about 300%, I have shown that one can make some money online, so why not have a stopgap goal that’s possibly attainable if I do a few more things? And the thing is, y’all might benefit from the information if I get there; what’s to lose, right?

2. Revamp my S&S site. S&S stands for Services and Stuff, and it was my dream of having a web portal of sorts that hasn’t done close to what I had hoped it might be. I actually did get an offer from someone to buy it this year and turned it down because I felt there was still some great potential with it. So, I’m keeping it, but thinking about how to change it around.

3. Work my way up to 500 subscribers to my blog. That’s not such a bad goal, even though, to tell you the truth, I’m not fully sure how to do it. I mean, I write pretty good content here, get lots of comments, comment on other blogs, and even wrote a post saying that I wanted more RSS subscribers, which perked up the subscription base a little bit, but then it tailed off again. If I’d put that my goal was 100, that would be a nice improvement, but hey, let’s think big here. By the way, I want more RSS subscribers!

4. Determine at least three series to write on this year. I wrote two series this year that I thought were pretty good, one on blogging, the other on writing a book. The series on blogging got lots of hits, but the one on writing a book didn’t do as well. Yet, I still think both were important. I’m not sure what this year’s series will be on, but I want to have three more sources that show I’m at least somewhat knowledgeable in some particular fields.

5. Get into Technorati’s top 60,000. You know what actually drove this one? It was this post on the top ten black blogs of July 2008. That was the article that made me decide I wanted to have a highly ranked blog, and then after checking out Winning The Web’s Top Internet Marketing Blogs, where I’m sitting at 248 at the present time, I realized that Technorati was my way to work my way up into the mix. Right now I’m sitting on 101,157, which is a nice increase for a blog that’s just past its first year in existence, but I want more. I thought about working it through my business blog, but realized this is really the one where I have a chance to get it that high, and of course with it being my main commerce blog, the higher it’s ranked, the more advertisers of all types might come ‘a-calling.

And that’s that. you’ll have to check out Mitch’s Blog to find out my personal and business goals for 2009. To learn about my financial goals for 2009, you’ll have to check out Top Finance Blog.

So, I’ve stated my goals. What do you think of them? What are your goals for 2009? Share them, if you dare. 🙂

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Reserve Index

I have written about this pdf file, which you can download, called the Reserve Index, on my business blog a few times, and thought I should introduce it here because there are different readers for this blog than that one.

road-adventure

It’s a self evaluation form to help you determine just how comfortable you are with your life and ideas, based on the questions, of how you can improve your life even further for your peace of mine. Some people seem to be scared of self evaluation; y’all know I’m not one of those people.

The first time I took this test, I only scored 8 out of 100+ possible points, which was disheartening. A year later, I was able to mark off 27, which was a significant improvement. Then, a couple of months ago I took it again and only managed 18 positive points. The scary thing is that I passed it out to a number of my friends, and only one of them, when I originally took it, scored higher than I did. That’s pretty sad.

The test consists of six regular categories and one bonus categories, basically giving you the opportunity to write in something that you feel improves you life that hasn’t already been addressed. Not all of the questions will apply to you as far as your happiness goes. For instance, there was a point about multiple vacations out of town, and that’s something that would never interest me, so I’ll never get that point.

I’d like you to take the Reserve Index test, evaluate yourself, and, if you feel comfortable enough, come back here and tell us how you did and how you felt about where you place. Come on, you have nothing to hide!
 

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