May Vlog Challenge

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Of all the forces in nature – gravity, magnetic attraction, nuclear fusion – surely one of the strongest is peer pressure. It’s responsible for untold amounts of change – for better and worse. When we talk about peer pressure it is almost always in a negative context: Little Johnny tried LSD because his friends were doing it.

I can think of several times in my life where it’s been true – I did something stupid (not that taking LSD is necessarily stupid) because my friends were doing it. I drove around a driver’s training track at high speed, at night, in the Canadian winter, drunk and slid my car through a snow fence. Heck, one time I even went to church!

But there is a positive side to peer pressure as well, as indicated by what I’m up to for the month of May!

Quite a few of my friends have taken up doing a daily vlog. There’s as many different reasons for doing this as there are people. Some do it to get out of their shell. Some do it to belabour their point of view. Some do it simply because they are exhibitionists. Some do it because they think their story will help others. Some do it because, well, what the hell! Why not?!

For me it started out trivially. But quickly I realised that it’s not simple, and like a lot of ‘not simple’ things it had some benefit.

I’m 10 days in and I can tell you that making a video – even a 2 minute video – every day is not easy. And that’s exactly the point.

I see this now as being similar to James Altucher’s ’10 ideas a day’ thing (which I also try to do). Sure, anybody can write down 5 ideas for something like ‘What should I write a blog post about?’ or ‘What am I grateful for about yesterday?’. But 10 ideas is tough. About idea 6 you start to sweat, and by 10, if you’re being honest with yourself, you’re really stretching.

In the case of the daily video challenge, I struggle to come up with vloggable topics. At first you think it’s going to be easy. You can vlog about creativity, or business or film… but then you turn on the camera and you realise that those are just too big. You’ve got a couple minutes (yes, I could make longer videos by my sub-challenge was to do short videos as my other ones all hit at least 10 minutes). You’re not going to talk about ‘creativity’ in 2 minutes. And people aren’t watching to see you read the dictionary. They want YOUR take on an ASPECT of creativity.

So I am learning to whittle the topics down. Which is great, because the epiphany comes that digging into ‘creativity’ can give me 3 or 4 videos. I can talk about how creativity relates to my business or about different outlets for my creativity or books I’ve read that help my creative process or even play a song on video!

A big mistake that I see some other vloggers making is not being personal. I think when you start out you think you can be sort of a third person voice about things. But, like I said, people are looking for your personality. People connect with people, then through people to ideas. I know that there is a need for privacy, and there are certain things – and people – in my life that I won’t talk about on camera, but the feelings can still come through. I have been sculpted by my life experiences. And the people who are watching me, presumably, are watching because they want to see things filtered through those experiences (whether they are aware of that or not). So I put myself out there, on camera.

I’m an introvert. Talking to people is painful. But vlogging is also helping in that regard. It’s a way for me to open up without having to – yet – look someone in the face. And I’m finding that the more I vlog, and the more subscribers I get, the more interaction I have with people. And the less I get worried about it. So there’s that 😉

Anyway, I hope you’ll watch my videos. I think that some of them offer valuable tips into how I get through life and others are hopefully entertaining, if nothing else.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried a daily vlog challenge (note: choose a short month! I’m an idiot and chose May). Or leave a comment if you’ve watch the videos, etc etc. Or comment on YouTube. In short – get in touch!

BannersBroker – I’m getting heavily quoted!

Hi everybody.

Recently I’ve noticed a significant increase in traffic here to philsmy.com. It seems there are a lot of people interested in what I have to say about BannersBroker (and interested in Banners Broker I guess!).

One of the places I am getting a lot of traffic from is ‘The Motley Fool’ message boards. This is nice as I’ve been a Fool member for year! You can see that thread here: http://boards.fool.co.uk/banners-broker-12595908.aspx?sort=whole

Again, if you have any personal experience as a publisher in the banner’s broker network I’d love to here it. Please comment here or send me a message.

 

BannersBroker – the old, its not me, its you, story.

Recently on my blog post declaring BannersBroker a scam someone posted a comment giving a second-hand response from BB UK rep, Jamie Waters. Being the good netizen, I went over to Jamie’s blog and commented on his posting (and video) called Explaining Banners Broker Slightly Differently.

I said:

Hi jamie,

I have heard that you have commented on my blog posts about BB (see http://philsmy.com/tag/bannersbroker/ ) by saying that I do not know how BB makes money (which of course I do… by a ponzi scheme!) and that somehow I managed to sign up for the ‘wrong kind’ of publisher arrangement with BB.

When I contacted BB to become a publisher I was never told of the two types. Why on earth would I want to advertise BB only? I am running a large website with lots of traffic… I want to make money, not get people into your pyramid.

If you can tell me how to change to a ‘proper’ BB publishing option – where I actually show ads from this supposed massive pool of advertisers you have – then I will do it today and gladly update my articles.

I sent BB over 1 million (yes, million) impressions in the course of a month. For that I made… $0. I sent the same amount of impressions to our other, real, ad network that we use and made $8000. So, tell me what the problem is?

I would love to make money from BB. Show me how!

Jamie promptly got back to me (echoing exactly what this third party had claimed Jamie had said):

I’m afraid I have never heard of you or your blog Phil, but judging by the tone of your post I will not be following your link either. If you would care to educate yourself on how the business works and the current status of the publishing platform I suggest that you contact support, or the Independent Contractor for the country in which you are from. But by coming on my website and claiming that I am involved with a Ponzi scheme you have lost all credibility in my opinion. I wish you all the best in the future. Jamie

So, sadly, I won’t be seeing Jamie’s comments on my site here any time soon. But, I decided to fire back. What the hell.

Jamie Waters your name (and your opinion) was placed on my blog by someone claiming to have spoken to you directly. Funnily enough, what they said you said is exactly what you have replied here! Go figure!

FWIW I do know how the online advertising business works… very well. It is one of the ways I make my income.

I am currently a BB ‘publisher’ – for several months now. I send over 1 million impressions a month to BB and have yet to see a penny (whereas our other ad spots are paying out significant 4 digit amounts per month). That seems odd to me.

No one from BB ever responds to repeated emails or even phone calls (mysteriously the ‘right people’ are never in). The ‘independent contractor’ (ie the person who signed me into the MLM pyramid) knows quite literally nothing about computers or advertising and no one up the chain

seems to either. They (and BB) are simply interested in getting someone to buy more ad blocks – and surprisingly not interest in someone who could put those ad blocks before a lot of eyeballs.

Doesn’t that strike you as strange?

Similarly, BB is the only ad network that refuses to provide traffic or conversion stats.

All in all, BB seems to be a revolutionary ad network alright – one that doesn’t need a place to show its ads!

You may not care to view my blog, but, hundreds of people a DAY are coming there and reading what I have chronicled about my BB experiences over time.

Now… on to your video (which, by the way, is nicely done!) In your example I/my company is the landowner. BB have never paid us anything. And, I have been watching my ‘billboard’ and no ads have ever appeared. So… there is no ‘Starbucks’. All the is happening is that the bag of money is going from the stick man to BB. The buck stops, quite literally, there.
Please, bring me an independent website owner that will claim otherwise.

So… as for my claims, in fairness, I am not the one who’s credibility is in question!

I sit in expectation, awaiting Jamie’s response.

BannersBroker – a very poor publishing network

Recently I’ve heard a lot of buzz about something called BannersBroker. It is supposed to be a ‘revolutionary’ change in how advertising works on the internet.

Their focus is on getting people to sponsor adspace that they sell. They then give you a slice of the money.

Whether that works or not I can’t say, but, to have ads on the internet you need to have sites – publishers – that show those ads. So, I decided to use my site lotterycanada.com as a test bed. LC gets around 2 million page views a month. I figured this would give a good amount of data.

We are still in the first month with BannersBroker. I’d like to report that we are making money and everything is great, but, there is no way for me to know! BannersBroker have an absolutely woeful backend for publishers. Sorry, let me correct that… they have no back end for publishers. Every other ad network lets you see how many impressions you are getting, your revenue, etc. The trend now is to show this in real time. Or at worst daily. BannersBroker actually refuse to EVER show this information to the publisher. You will get a MONTHLY report that shows your revenue. How detailed that is we will see.

But monthly is all but useless in the internet world. If we want to make changes, lets say move the ads around to get better performance, there is no way you can do that with monthly feedback.

For now all I can is strongly recommend that if you have a high volume website try and get a traditional ad network (we have great success with Casale) onto your site.

In a couple of weeks I will get a report, which I will post here. Of course, if we get a few thousand dollars (or more) then maybe I will change my tune. But, who wants to bet our revenue will be under $100?

Professional Darwinism

One problem people of my personality type have is this love of starting things and an inability to finish them. Start new projects, blogs, businesses… anything.

I am very guilty of this, as a quick google will confirm. But recently there have been a lot of upheavels in my life and this has brought this character ‘trait’ (read: flaw) into sharp focus. It is kind of like an illness where you see every moment as having a wide blank canvas before it, enticing you to spill some paint on it. But, in truth you have about 50 canvases behind you, in various states of completion. Life is NOT a blank canvas. It is a single painting, that you can rework. Even DaVinci overpainted – started with something then covered it up, creating something new. But, the point is he was always aware of what went before.

Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do is just start something new. It’s exciting. I am a serial business-starter. (I hesitate to call myself an entrepreneur). But, whereas I do believe that a failed business can teach you almost as much as a successful one, sometimes you have to say enough is enough!

Recently I met a young guy who was driving me from the airport to my mother’s house (a very long drive indeed). He is in his mid 20s. I asked him how he got to be driving this bus and he told me of the path his career had taken. And I was impressed. He had done something that few people do in any field – created a nice evolution. He went from part time with one company, to school runs, to permanent bus driver for an institution and now he was waiting to hear if he would get into the city bus line, with all the stability that offered.

I meet a lot of people, especially in the software business, who don’t do evolution as well as this bus driver. They don’t build on their skills. They don’t move from company to company, increasing their responsibility and pay. (I believe staying at one company too long is death to your upward mobility). This evolution is something I used to do well, but recently have stagnated. This 25 year old bus driver has inspired me to look at that again and see where I can go and what I can do.

Now, you may well ask what is the difference? Aren’t you just finding another justification to start a new business or something else new? No, not really. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with starting a new business. The point is to start something that builds on your knowledge, skills, experiences. Don’t start a bakery, then fail at that and start a day care centre. Take what you learned at the bakery and apply that to something slightly different. It is about evolution!, not one great leap.

So, what does all this mean? I am going to sit down, try to get an overview of my professional evolution, connect the dots and see where that line points. Throw in a handful of dreams and off I will go!

See you soon.

7 steps to a pleasing personality

I said before how I am reading (well, listening actually) to Napoleon Hill’s seminal ‘Laws of Success’. The book truly is amazing.

Right now I am on the chapter about developing a pleasing personality. So, to remember the seven steps to doing this I am going to write a sarcastic blog posting, which, while it might help me remember the steps, surely is self-undermining. Oh well.

First: Form the habit of interesting yourself in other people; and make it your business to find their good qualities and speak of them in terms of praise.

Hmm…good qualities in other people? That is going to be tough.

Second: Develop the ability to speak with force and conviction, both in your ordinary conversational tones and before public gatherings, where you must use more volume.

I think I can do that, maybe. Would you believe me if I did…I might be doing it wrong?

Third: Clothe yourself in a style that is becoming to your physical build and the work in which you are engaged.

Fat people – note the ‘style that is becoming to your physical build’. Terrycloth tracksuits, and lycra are not becoming to your physique (in the case of the former, any physique).

Fourth: Develop a positive character, through the aid of the formula outlined in this lesson.

This is a crappy step.

Fifth: Learn how to shake hands so that you express warmth of feeling and enthusiasm through this form of greeting.

Touching people? Yuck!

Sixth: Attract other people to you by first “attracting yourself” to them.

I have attracted myself to Jessica Alba… now what?

Seventh: Remember that your only limitation, within reason, is the one which YOU set up in YOUR OWN mind.

Well, there you go. I knew I couldn’t do it.

Napoleon Hill and the 17 principles of success

I am listening to the amazing audio book version of the update revision to this timeless masterpiece. True, it clocks in at around 20 hours, but it is time well worth spent (and you can’t / shouldn’t listen to too much at a time, you should let it percolate).

If you don’t know who Napoleon Hill is then read this to discover the man who pioneered self-help. All who followed have done little more than rearrange the deck chairs on his mansion.

My problem is that I have fallen at step one! (How embarrassing to admit). Step 1 is: ‘A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM’. i.e. decide what you want to do. How much is wrapped up in those 4 little words?! If I knew what I wanted to do the rest would be easy!

 

Busy, busy – Toygaroo, Kyoto and more

Haven’t been blogging on here at all lately! Things have been quite crazy!

#1 – Toygaroo! My new company is Toygaroo. Founded by a bunch of great guys (and a gal!) in California this company looks set to change the way parents get toys for their kids. Toygaroo is a rental model, like FilmAmora and NetFlix. I came on board as CTO, bringing along the software and experience from years of renting DVDs and FilmAmora. If you live in the US check us out at www.toygaroo.com

#2 – Kyoto! At the beginning of the year we completed our purchase of a house in Kyoto, Japan. After the series of disasters there it has been difficult to not just watch the news all the time. Luckily the house is a long way away from the problems.

#3 – FilmAmora! We’ve taken FilmAmora offline for now. We are looking at changing the business structure. There is a lot of potential in the business, but we need to do it right. I think it was suffering from some problems. When it comes back it will be bigger and better than ever.

I’m trying to get more disciplined about blog writing. I’ve got 3 on the go – this one (ostensibly about business related things), KyotoExperiement.com (about buying our house and spending more time in Japan) and rorramblings (occasional notes on software development).

I’ve never been a fan of blogging for blogging’s sake, but, there is lots going on now and hopefully I can find the time to write coherent articles that might help others.

finding lost bags… is this not the 21st century

Recently both my wife and I had our bags lost by British Airways on a flight back from Canada. They have asked us to send a list of contents to help identify the bags.

Surely if they can look at the contents then the bags have been broken open… so we are going to have to buy new bags anyway.

But this is the 21st century. Surely there is a better way?

Why not:

  • BA staff organize lost bags by day
  • Take photos of lost bags
  • create website where we the customers look at bags by day!

Most people know exactly what day their bags were lost. And what their bags look like (they could also photograph any identifying marks).

This solution would put the time consuming process of bag identification onto the customer. And not require the breaking open of bags. It is also relatively trivial to implement!

Even with 1000 bags a day this would not be tough to do.