Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth – Book Review

I’m a big fan of James Altucher. Sometimes his ‘I’m a screwup’ act gets a little tiring, but, set that aside and often he has some good advice. No exception to this is his book ‘The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth’. Yes, it’s all over the place. Yes, it’s a bit crazy at times. But still I found it good.

You can watch the full book review here.

How Many Times Can I Not Learn The Same Lesson?

Back when I was a kid we had records. Vinyl records. I personally do not miss them, though I miss the covers. One of the reasons I don’t miss them is that they were fragile. I cannot express the feeling of coming home from school and finding a rather bent looking package waiting for me, knowing full well that it contained a long-awaited copy of the first Steve Howe album. (don’t start!)

I was a member of the Columbia Record Club. It was awesome. You could get a bunch of records every month – 13 for a $1 at the start of your subscription!

In those days we didn’t have the internet to look up about artists so the only way to find out about new music was to ask your friends or read magazines – I particularly liked Creem and Circus magazines.

But the downside of the Columbia Record Club, also called ‘Columbia House’, was that you HAD to order. And cancelling was a pain. So you ended up getting the ‘record of the month’ a lot of times because you didn’t order something of your own choosing.

In short, as cool as IT COULD have been, letting me listen to lots of different new things, I usually ended up with Pat Boone’s Greatest Hits or something like that. I never got anything cool.

I should have learned a valuable lesson: people (i.e. me) are generally lazy.

But I didn’t learn that. I didn’t learn a damned thing.

I am still doing the same thing today! I am a subscriber to a few online services right now that I either don’t – or in some incredible cases CAN’T – take advantage of. Money flushed down the toilet.

Why do I do this?

I think because, on paper as it were, these subscriptions seem like a good idea. If I paid attention I’m sure I would get a lot of added benefit in my life.

Or if I paid attention to – or even knew – what I was subscribed to that I didn’t use I could cancel them and get the money. (There is a particularly heinous subscription I have to a cloud-based mind mapping software that I can’t seem to cancel. I have sent emails. I am waiting for my credit card to expire and hope that fixes it!)

Another factor is that these things are areas that I want to be interested in, and I was, for long enough to subscribe. But not long enough to keep using the subscription.

I want to be a cinematographer, so I am subscribed to the (admittedly amazing) Shane Hurlbut cinematography website. I am not a cinematographer. 90% of my video shooting is me in my room in front of a blank wall – though I have a new green screen now. You don’t need to know how to simulate candle light in a multi-camera setup for that! Columbia House Cinematography Club!

I want to immerse myself in a good audiobook every couple of weeks, but I don’t have the time (and there’s just not that many audio books I want to listen to, but then also maybe there is and I just don’t know about them), so my Audible subscription sits there unused. Columbia House Audiobook Club!

I want to make lots of money running (or at least understanding) more about SEO optimization for websites. Columbia House SEO Club!

I want to create videos that have all kinds of cool (remember I came of age in the 70s and 80s) video overlays and swipes and things like you see in wedding videos (or make wedding videos) so I am subscribed to an unlimited service that lets you download ‘cool’ backgrounds etc etc. Columbia House Video Creative Club!

How much do I use all of the Adobe Suite (apart from Photoshop, Lightroom and Audition)? Columbia House Adobe Club!

There’s probably more, but that’s all I can think of right now.

If I try and take away a positive lesson (as I am obviously hopelessly addicted to this behaviour) from this it is that organizations depend on hobbyists and dabblers. I have a friend who runs a bunch of training courses for filmmakers. He knows that 90% of the people who come will never become filmmakers. He will pump them up with advice and inspiration and when they walk out the door they will never write a script or make a short film.

Do you think that people are REALLY going to be cooking Moroccan food at home 3 months after they do their 1 day ‘Flavours of the Souk’ class?

Are we enriching these peoples’ lives? Maybe, actually. Are we keeping these class and courses running for the 5-10% that will ACTUALLY benefit? Definitely.

So, this is a business model.

It’s probably unavoidable.

I guess the only thing is don’t think that you are changing the world by running a course like this. Most people will not use it later. But maybe you will change one person. And that should be enough.

Or focus on changing yourself.

As for me, I’m off to join the Columbia House Coffee of the Month Club.

The 1 Hour Work Week

Tim Ferriss has nothing on me. Well, I mean of course you have to set aside the 10s (if not 100s) of millions he’s accrued. And the empire. And the respect. Other than THAT STUFF he’s got nothing on me.

Because, right now, the majority of my income is generated by about 1 hour’s worth of work a week. The other 167 hours I’m either sleeping (56 hours), eating (14 hours), exercising/walking (12 hours) and working on ideas that are not yet making money (60+ hours).

Should I be proud of the fact that 1 hour pays for my life? It pays for the apartment, the utilities, the travel, the food, the equipment, the ex-wife, etc etc.

On one hand, yes, of course. It’s a major accomplishment.

But really, the answer is no – I should not be proud. The needle should be closer to the ashamed end of the spectrum. Because those other 60+ hours that I am spending try to find other ideas are not yet producing. That is a big problem.

I used to have annual mid-life crises. About once a year I would hit the wall. I’d be frustrated. Nothing was progressing. Money wasn’t increasing – sometimes it was decreasing. Projects weren’t escalating – sometimes they were crashing. In short – I was ‘crossing the desert’ as Key Person of Influence author Daniel Priestley would say.

But here is what I am really ashamed of: some of those past ideas and projects were good. They had potential.

But I gave up.

It’s not a good thing to admit: I am a quitter.

This one factor alone would doom me to failure and marginality.

Except that I know I’m a quitter. I would beat myself up later about it, until I realized something important:

“You Can’t Always Control What Happens, But You Can Control How You React”

I don’t know who said it first. It doesn’t matter.

My quitting things was always a ‘reaction’. Maybe I thought it was an ‘action’. But I was wrong.

I have finally (at almost 50!) reached a point where I understand about learning from my mistakes. And what a gift I gave to myself – I’ve made LOTS of mistakes, so lots to learn from!

So for now, here’s four mistakes.

Lone Wolf Syndrome

Usually it had to do with being out in the desert all alone – rarely did I have supportive (or any!) business partners. You can’t really run a business by yourself. You need either active partners or at the very least some kind of administrative support. The paperwork is depressing! And rarely is someone (i.e. me) capable of all sides of any worthwhile business.

Tip #1: Find a partner

Not enough customers

If you are a consultant you can’t progress if you don’t increase your number of customers. If you can only deal with 1 customer at a time then your a still just trading time for money. If your source of income is just a handful of customers then you’re probably just good at time management but you are still at risk. A ‘real company’ has a wide enough appeal that you can pull in lots of customers.

Tip #2: Bust your butt looking for customers

You can’t scale

Some people hate the word ‘scale’. But my experience is that you have to take scaling up into account from the first day. Pretend (yes, I know we’re adults, but we can still pretend!) that you have LOTS of customers. Pretend your 10 customers that you have right now are just 10 of 1000 (or 10,000). Can you treat 1000 people the same as you are treating your 10 just to keep them as customers? No? Then you are screwed.

Now I’m not saying to anonymize your earlier customers. Early customers are GOLD. They help you work the kinks out (unless your in the adult toys business, then they help work the kinks IN). But the day to day, minute to minute stuff that these customers are doing (i.e. USING YOUR SHIT) should pretty much run itself.

Tip #3: Make believe an empire and act accordingly

No Automation

My business didn’t always just require 1 hour a week. It used to require LOTS more time than that. So over time I wrote software that automated as much as possible. I mean like 95%. The 1 hour I spend a week is writing Facebook posts (I like those to sound human) and dealing with ‘corner cases’ (or ‘edge cases’ – you want a nerdgasm? read this blog post! http://bit.ly/1Jy0OpG ). Time you spend (or money you spend, if you are outsourcing the development) on automation – or ‘systematizing’ – will come back to you many fold.

Tip #4: Computers are your friend.

Conclusion

Obviously I am still in the desert. I am not touring the world giving speaking tours or autographing best-selling books at a bookstore in Manhattan.
But I feel a corner has been turned. And unlike when I usually turn a corner, there is not a large truck parked there that I run straight into the back of.
The four tips that I list above are not the only ‘secrets’ to growing your business. They’re just the four secrets that today, right now, are at the front of my mind.
As always, if you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear them. If you need any help in YOUR business, I’m happy to talk it through with you. We’re all in this together.

There’s a monkey in the house

For 2016 I have pledged to myself – as I am the only one listening – to write a blog post once a week. This is to compliment the videos about business and books I am posting over on my YouTube channel. I’ve decided to do this every Friday. It seemed like a good idea, but then I found out that the First Friday of the year is today, January 1st. So, that wasn’t so great, but, as I promised myself, and I don’t like to break promises to myself, here goes.

This year, 2016, is the year of the monkey. In Japan, where I’m currently spending most of my time, people and businesses ring in the New Year by sending all their customers and friends little cards – called ‘nen ga jo (年賀状)’  to let them know they’re being thought of in the new year. This one is from the little company that services our car.

car service nengajo

There’s several remarkable things about this, and not just the outrageous cuteness of it!

First, there is an incredible business here in the designing and selling of these cards. And customizing. They come pre-printed with postage (say that ten times fast!), so maybe it’s a difficult thing to get into but when you have EVERY person and company sending at least a few of these THAT’S A LOT OF CARDS!

Second, what a great way to keep in touch with your customers and still look respectful. One thing this does – which I am a big believer in – is that not every time you reach out to a customer should you be selling. Actually, I think you should almost never be selling. Get them thinking about you, loving you, etc. THEN go in for the sale. That sounds creepy, but, it’s not. Honestly.

kitty nengajo

This is the one I’m sending out. Kittychan with her monkey slaves basking in the view of Mt Fuji. For some reason this card is seen as slightly childish, whereas the other card is not. I think that the Japanese are always using cartoon characters in inappropriate situations. I once was shown a happy illustration info sheet at a bank that explained why I wasn’t going to be able to open a bank account. Cute!

But I think the point I’m trying to make is always be on the mind of your customers. Wouldn’t it be awesome to send out cards like this everywhere? Not with a coupon (that’s selling), not announcing something about your store or business, but just a ‘Hi, we’re here, we’re thinking of you’!

Now, here’s a couple lists I found on the internet.

The Lucky Things for “Monkeys”

Lucky numbers: 4 and 9
Lucky days: the 14th and 28th of any Chinese lunar calendar month
Lucky colors: white, blue, gold
Lucky flowers: chrysanthemum, crape-myrtle
Lucky directions: north, northwest, west
Lucky months: Chinese lunar months 8 and 12

The Unlucky Things That “Monkeys” Should Avoid

Unlucky colors: red, pink
Unlucky numbers: 2 and 7
Unlucky directions: south, southeast
Unlucky months: Chinese lunar months 7 and 11

Missing from the first list is ‘bananas’ and missing from the second is ‘people’.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk – Book Review

I only discovered Gary Vaynerchuk (hereafter called Gary V) earlier this year (2015). He seems to have been around for a LONG time. He created his YouTube channel in October 2007. (I, for what it is worth – which is nothing – created mine in July 2006, so Gary’s claims of being an early adopter are not necessarily true. For the record – he DID something with his channel and I did nothing.)

Gary’s start came as ‘that wine guy’ who had a YouTube channel/show that showed taught you about wine. His personality, on camera at least, is a bit tough, rough and certainly not what you’d think a wine connoisseur would be. But he kept at it and today Gary sits atop a successful media company (VaynerMedia) and his lowly YouTube channel has at this writing over 136,000 subscribers. (I have 513 – at my level every one counts!)

Back in 2009 – long before I was paying attention, though I should have been – Gary V published Crush It. I review it in the video below. The verdict is a strong buy! The book is a how to manual on developing your online brand. And setting yourself free from working for other people.

Check it out. Subscribe for weekly book reviews and more (I publish 2 or 3 videos a week right now!).

Me & Pete: Why I’m doing a YouTube series about Peter Drucker

So, I finished my YouTube series about Tai Lopez’s 67 Steps. I like to do series as it gives me a chance to delve into a topic.

I’ve chosen the teachings of Peter Drucker as my next series. Peter Who? you ask!

Drucker was arguably the founder of -and unquestionably a strong influencer on – modern business management. Drucker took a holistic approach, that an organisation exists within the society it serves. That’s what appealed to me. That, and the fact that his views work – and companies I’ve been involved in that ignored those rules failed.

Below is the playlist. I’m not sure right now how many episodes it will run to (probably a dozen or so) but if you want to learn how to run and manage a business that will stand the test of time I encourage you to subscribe and watch.

It’s free. And it might even also be entertaining.

 

The Obstacle is the Way – Book Review

As some of you have been asking what books I’m reading – especially as I said that the thing I liked so much about Tai Lopez is his recommendation to read more – I’ve started to do video book reviews over on my YouTube channel.

Here’s the first one. It’s of Ryan Holiday’s book ‘The Obstacle is the Way’.

I hope you like it. I’m trying to do one a week!

Business & Film Focus

As some of you may know, I have a YouTube channel where I try to talk mostly about my life and business ideas. But, I’m also working on my Masters in Film from Raindance. Right now I don’t really have a resource for that. Soon I’ll put something on here, but, for now to see the documentary I’m working on you can go to this page.

Finally, living in Japan, of course I need to have a YouTube channel under the username of SendaiPhil that addresses this country, in all of it’s beauty and bizarreness.

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