Archive for the 'General' Category

Do you sweat too much of the small stuff?

January 18th, 2017 by Bob Bly

On January 7, 2017, a gunman opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale,
Florida airport killing 5 people in the baggage area.

What makes this personal for me is that my mother and her
boyfriend were standing in that same baggage claim in the same
airport one week earlier.

Many people, and I am one of them, complain too much over minor
things.

For instance, I lose my cool when the traffic going into NYC is
at a standstill or my Internet service goes down for 20 minutes.

Yet if my mother had left for Florida a week later, she might be
dead today.

Global terrorism has made it clear that whoever said “don’t sweat
the small stuff” had it right.

The week before my mom went to Florida, I was in an automobile
accident that totaled my car — on Christmas Eve.

Fortunately, I was not seriously hurt — not a scratch on me,
though I had some bruises.

Was I upset that my car, which I loved, was destroyed?

No, because after all, it’s just a car.

I have no doubt that some other people had car accidents that
same evening — and were seriously injured or even killed. Game
over.

So complaining over the demise of a 2008 Prius seems to me rather
silly.

Not being a natural Pollyanna, I feel funny saying this, but it’s
true: any day you wake up healthy, with food to eat and roof over
your head, in a house with working heat, is a good day.

I close with this Scottish proverb quoted by David Ogilvy: “Be
happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.”

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The gold mine hidden in your files

January 16th, 2017 by Bob Bly

There is hidden gold in content you have already written.

For most writers, that content sits idle in file cabinets and on
hard drives — wasting away and not earning them a dime.

Except, in the explosive information marketing industry, content
owners can now generate thousands of dollars of additional
profits from content they already have!

For instance, over the years, I developed many documents used in
my freelance writing business — model letters, client agreements,
checklists, press releases, invoices, and so on.

One day, I said to myself, “Why not sell all these documents,
which I already have and are proven to work, to other copywriters
and aspiring copywriters as an e-book?”

It took me only 2 hours to assemble these documents, all sitting
on my hard drive as Word files, into an e-book manuscript.

I gave the manuscript to a graphic artist to design a cover and
the interior pages, and turn it into an e-book with the title
“The Copywriter’s Toolkit,” which he did for $200.

Result? To date, we have sold 2,317 copies generating $117,663 in
gross revenues — all from content I had already written.

And you wonder why so many people just love online info
marketing!

3 tips I give to writers and others who create intellectual
content that can help you sell your words and ideas over and over
again, quickly and affordably, online:

1–Keep everything you write, published and unpublished, with
clearly labeled files in easy-to-remember directories and
subdirectories. You have to know where your content is stored and
be able to retrieve it in electronic format quickly.

2–Same goes for speeches, seminars, workshops, lectures,
webinars, podcasts, and the like; make sure it is recorded and
you get a master of the mp3 or mp4 file.

3–Retain all rights to your written and spoken content. Negotiate
this with the producers and publishers if not offered
automatically.

One way to do this with written content: Type the words “first
rights only” in the upper left corner of every article you submit
to a magazine, newsletter, or web site. By doing so, you retain
the right to use it as you wish once it appears that publication.

Content creators who either give up the rights to their material
or do not save and store it properly for easy retrieval are
throwing away the potential fortune hidden in their “content
goldmines.” Remember, I made over $117K selling a bunch of
documents, forms, and letters I had already written — creating
nothing original for my Toolkit!

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Why I am an “Essentialist”

December 30th, 2016 by Bob Bly

In his best-selling book “Essentialism: The Disciplines Pursuit
of Less” (Crown Business), Greg McKeown preaches his philosophy
of Essentialism as the path to having a better and more rewarding
life.

After reading it, I am a born-again Essentialist!

The core idea of Essentialism is, in McKeown’s words:

“There are far more activities and opportunities in the world
than we have the time and resources to invest in.

“And although many of them may be good, or even very good, the
fact is that most are trivial and few are vital.

“Only when you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it
all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest
contribution towards the things that really matter.”

If you know people who pursue a primary goal, activity, or
mission with laser-like focus — whether it’s building a business,
mastering the violin, or accumulating wealth — they are almost
surely, with rare exceptions, Essentialists.

If you know people who volunteer for everything, have a calendar
filled with diverse activities, pursue a dozen hobbies and
interests, and volunteer for every committee in every worthwhile
organization under the sun — I can virtually assure you that they
are not Essentialists.

I only came across McKeown’s book a couple of months ago. But I
have been an Essentialist my entire adult life.

I focus, to the exclusion of almost everything else, on just the
few things that matter most to me — my business and my clients,
writing, and my family.

Yes, I would like to do more. But as McKeown correctly points
out, our time, attention, energy, and bandwidth are shockingly
finite.

So if you try to do everything, you accomplish — and get good at
— almost nothing.

“The overwhelming reality is: we live in a world where almost
everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally
valuable,” McKeown writes.

“We can choose how to spend our energy and time. We can’t have or
do it all.”

He quotes John Maxwell: “You cannot overestimate the unimportance
of practically everything.”

Marcus Aurelius says it this way: “If thou wouldst know
contentment, let thy deeds be few.”

The way I put it is this: If you are someone who is “all over the
place,” you will never really get to the one place you want to
go.

The key to Essentialism is laser-like focus on one or two things.
Steve Martin said:

“I did stand-up comedy for 18 years. Ten of those years were
spent learning, four were spent refining, and four were spent in
wild success. The course was more plodding than heroic.”

I have always described myself as a plodder, too. If you write,
as I have, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week for more than 3 decades,
you can’t help but get better at it!

My Essentialism does not mean I make zero contribution to
worthy causes outside my small number of core activities.

But I do so in the most time-efficient manner — by donating money
rather than my time to these worthy causes.

By focusing just on my business, I make more money … which in
turn enables me to make bigger contributions to curing cancer,
feeding the hungry, and other things that are important but that
I do not have the bandwidth to participate in directly.

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The 10 Undeniable Truths of Business Communication and Success

December 2nd, 2016 by Bob Bly

1–Short words are better than long words.

2–Old words are better than new words.

3–Simple ideas are better than complex ideas.

4–Ideas are a dime a dozen — everyone has them, all the time.

5–Ideas without action are worthless.

6–Action creates business success, yet 99% of people never act on their ideas.

7–If you create a base of 10,000 loyal fans who each spend a hundred dollars a year with you, you will gross a million dollars a year.

8–You do not need a lot of money to launch a successful business today: the low cost of doing business on the Internet reduces your risk to easily manageable levels.

9–If you do not have a lot of money to launch your business, then you must invest a lot of your time to make it happen. You cannot start and build a successful business with neither time nor money –you need one or the other.

10–Your customers may like you. But ultimately, they care about themselves, as they should — not about you and your business.

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The paradox of underfunded vs. well-capitalized clients

November 29th, 2016 by Bob Bly

Are rich people who spend a lot of money with you often prima
donnas who are demanding and impossible to please?

From what I’ve seen, this is sometimes true in the world of
consumer marketing, whether at a luxury resort, 5-star gourmet
restaurant, or exclusive London men’s shop selling bespoke suits.

But in business, I have found quite the opposite to be true —
the more money a client spends with you, the more respectful,
polite, and easy to work with they will be … because the more
they value you.

The converse is also true: the client who talks you down in
price and gets you cheap turns out to be the most difficult,
demanding, hard to deal with, and impossible to please.

My theory as to why this should be so is as follows….

If the client with deep pockets is an entrepreneur, part of his
success is that he takes pains to treat people fairly and with
respect, so they in turn will like him and give him their best
work.

And if your client is with a big corporation with deep pockets,
then he is usually a full-time professional marketer, and he
knows how to deal with vendors in our field — and has the budget
to afford them without undue hardship.

On the other hand, some entrepreneurs with shallow pockets often
haggle over your price, not because they are jerks, but because
they are on shoestring budgets.

They also question what you do at every step. Not because they
want to be picky or difficult.

But because they desperately need their marketing campaign to
work, inexperienced clients may find it difficult to let go of their
own judgment in favor of an expert’s, like yours.

Therefore, the well-heeled clients with big budgets who pay
generous fees are so often the easiest and most cooperative to
work with … while the tiny accounts who have to watch every penny
can sometimes be difficult, demanding, and contentious.

Are there exceptions to all this? Of course. I write copy for a
number of small businesses whose owners I am incredibly fond of.

But overall, the generalizations I just made turn out to be true
more often than they are wrong.

Do you find they hold true in your business as well as mine?

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Confessions of an aging workaholic

November 23rd, 2016 by Bob Bly

I have always been a workaholic, putting in on average 12 hours a
day, 5 days a week, plus a few more on the weekend if the mood
strikes me.

As I rapidly approach my 60th birthday, some people ask how I am
able to keep up this level of productivity and hard work at my
advancing age.

There are 3 simple secrets that keep my reasonably respectable —
though not stellar — productivity intact:

FIRST, for it to be tenable, I have to love what I do — and I
always have.

If you hate your job, as so many 9 to 5 wage slaves do, then you
want to get out of the office or plant as soon as the five
o’clock whistle sounds, go home, pop open a cold one, and watch
the boob tube.

On the other hand, if your work is so fun that it feels like a
hobby rather than a job, as I do, you never want to leave your
desk!

SECOND, because of my waning energy, I can still go full steam
for 11 to 12 hours a day — BUT ….

… as soon as I am done for the day, I collapse into my favorite
easy chair in the living room where I read a ton of stuff —
business books, science books, history books, novels, the New
York Review of Books, and the Star Ledger.

Or, if I am so pooped I can’t concentrate on reading a book or
the paper, I mindlessly channel surf until I find a cheesy SF or
horror movie like Final Destination or Wrong Turn or one of their
endless sequels.

(I think they’re already up to Wrong Turn 8 — the Musical.)

THIRD, I do not go out on weeknights, as my father did at least
two nights a week — bowling, poker, B’nai B’rith — but stay in
and go to bed early every night.

I strongly believe Michael Masterson, Brian Tracy, and others who
say that many (not all) people who are dedicated to their work
need at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

I have quoted Noel Coward many times in these essays, who said,
“Work is more fun than fun.”

I could not agree more.

Leisure time was most precious to me years ago, when my kids were
younger and wanted to do things with us. But now they are in
their 20s and have their own lives. Sigh.

My advice to all parents: spend time with your kids when they are
still young and still want you. They will age out of that in a
blink of an eye.

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Best Buy Customer Service Sucks!

October 31st, 2016 by Bob Bly

On October 29, 2016 we purchased Samsung TV from the Best Buy in Riverdale, NJ, to be used for both cable TV and X-Box.

The salesman, Sam Giro, discouraged us from hiring the Geek Squad as we intended, saying it would be a snap for us to set up the TV and connect it to both cable and the game system ourselves.

I expressed concern because I am a technical idiot and said, “What if I can’t do it?”

Sam said, “Just call the store and we will send someone to take care of it for only $50.”

Well, we couldn’t do it. As Sam had suggested, we called back to set up Geek Squad service.

But instead of scheduling a service call over the phone as promised, Sam now he told me we had to drive back the 40 minutes to schedule the appointment in person.

When we got there, Manager Richard Parra said it would cost $100, not $50, for the service call, because there were 2 connections – cable and X-Box.

I said, “Richard, Sam told me Geek Squad would do the whole thing for $50 and we could just schedule it with a call to the store. Instead, he forced us to come back, wasting, between driving and dealing with you, over an hour of our time – and then you refused to honor your quote of $50 and charged us double.”

Richard shrugged, made no apology, and in essence told us, “Too bad for you; this is our policy.”

Are Best Buy store managers so little empowered that they cannot make things right with an unhappy customer who has been deceived by a dishonest salesman?

Do yourself a favor and avoid Best Buy.

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Is it ethical to do a student’s work for him but let him take the credit?

September 26th, 2016 by Bob Bly

I got a personal e-mail from www.rushessay.com, a service that writes essays for students, asking me to help them remove some blacklist comments posted by others on my site. I have always found term paper and essay ghostwriting services for students reprehensible. Students are there to learn, and you do not learn by having someone else write your papers and essays for you. I will do nothing to help this company and hope they go out of business soon. Do you agree with me on this one?

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