Artificial competition or Natural competition

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When Darwin wrote the book Origin of the Species, he outlined a fundamental concept concerning living things. The fact that they compete. When you look at the world around you today even at the most civilized level, we humans are still constantly competing.

Origin of the Species

Yet eco-scientists everywhere are demonstrating ways in which living things can better survive by co-operating instead of competing through ecosystems. We humans seem to be missing the point. In truth, a lot of the systems that keep the universe in motion run entirely on cooperation. Electrons attract protons and help keep an atom stable. This interaction also helped man produce electricity. Cells in our bodies have to cooperate in order for a human being to survive. Plants give us oxygen and we give them carbon dioxide back. Cooperation is all around us.

These are all examples of natural cooperation. But there is also natural competition. This is when the natural situation of our existence demands that we rival other entities for our own survival or prosperity. Given that most systems work on cooperation, these circumstances are actually very rare.

So rare they only happen once in a billion years to lead to the extinction of entire species (if you actually believe in evolution) or an entire industry. So if this is the case, we have to ask ourselves; where does all the extra competition come from?

As humans we are always creating competition where there needn’t be any. Think about ticketing methods for instance. We all know about the advance ticketing method that gets people to buy tickets for a show much more quickly than they could have. The value here for the vendor is to reduce the risk of low turnouts by selling at a lower price – an unverifiable risk at that. However, the product remains the same for people buying at the door as that for advance ticket holders. What you have is two prices for the same product, but with no added value for either purchaser. Where’s the sense in that? Aptly enough, I have often changed my mind about attending events once I found out that the event had cheaper tickets which I was not aware of and can no longer access. It feels like a discrimination of sorts – a rip off. I call it hyperinflation in hours.

Another example would be preserved bookings for a product at no extra cost. How does one lay off a customer who is at the shop for one who is far away because he simply made a phone call to express interest. It totally goes against the age old wisdom that states “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” Reservations only matter when they come with advance payments. Yet such sales systems still exist in the world of business.

The thing about all this is that competition spawns more competition. If you make something scarce for one person, they will make it even more scarce for the next person and so on. Natural competition is based on real value and real scarcity (absence of value). Inflation adjustments are often made to heighten a state of competition between different members of the economy i.e. the buyers vs the sellers. There is virtually no value created for either party at the end of it all. The system just bleeds both of them dry.

No product out there is indispensable and unsubstitutable. When we accept inflation adjustments, we are often accepting the contrasting statement. Instead of having price increases that create artificial competition between buyers and sellers based on economic forces we should have natural competition that sees new suppliers enter a market either with similar commodities or substitutes. This way a piece of the demand cake can be shared to more people.

The bottom line is that human beings should always avoid systems that create artificial competition in favour of those that produce natural competition. Natural competition is constructive competition. Artificial competition is destructive.

3 methods to get your lifestyle oozing with productivity

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Being more productive is important if you have dreams or desires in life.

We are in an age where competition has grown to incomprehensible standards. The more we stagnate in life, the faster we are erased from the sea of relevance. And in this day and age, you have to be relevant one way or the other in order to survive.

But productivity is not strictly about doing more. Its also about being more. As soon as you build something, that something becomes a part of you whether its a relationship, a business, a career… and so on.

At the beginning of this year, I found myself reading a lot of books mainly because I was looking for answers on being more and not just doing more.

What I found was a whole maze of techniques to help me achieve what I wanted. A lot of them had fluff and by fluff I mean too much focus on details that may not apply to everyone’s situation. I was simply looking for a one – off formula to take me from little to big in the fastest possible way.  Just when all this information was starting to overwhelm my neurons…

I read the action method

The action method is a practical approach by one James Altucher. Altucher is an author, investor, I.T professional and trader. He has seen the launch of over 20 successful start up companies one of which was a social networking site for stock traders. After many failed attempts at becoming an established writer he finally broke away from his day job as an IT wiz and started trading in money markets. In time, he got back to writing and this time he made it big pretty quick. He came up with this daily practice that is bound to uplift your state of mind instantaneously. It is does not exactly tell you how to stay focused but it helps you exercise your focus muscle.

James Altucher

The action method has a 4 step approach.

Physical – You need to do something everyday that will improve your health and fitness – exercise, yoga, sports.. name it. Altucher believes that health preceeds happiness in our everyday lives. You are less likely to be happy if you have some pain, condition, infection or tumour of some sort interfering with your state of mind. The idea here is to be as healthy and fit as you can in the long haul. You might not not be completely and perfectly healthy but its important to try getting there. This will keep your body is the best shape to pursue anything else.

Spiritual – Stepping away from the exterior, you need to take care of your inner self. For James, this refers to your soul. You need to believe in something as a human being. You need to believe in something that is beyond scientific proof and something that is greater than you. This could be a higher diety or a higher power that will keep you in the race when you have lost control. Its a habit that keeps you at peace with yourself. It keeps you from laying every burden on yourself in the hope of keeping everything under control and hence becoming responsible for it all.

Mental – We have the ability to create value with our minds. Exercising the mental helps you find solutions to problems everyday. It helps you create value for people and for yourself. Altucher recommends coming up with new ideas each and everyday. The fastest way to go about this is to create lists. For instance a list of 50 blog post ideas for your blog…or for someone else’s blog. Or a list of 15 favours you can do to your clients that wont cost much. Or 20 party ideas. Its healthy for your intelligence and it creates opportunities. If done consistently it can turn you into a perceived genius.

Emotional

Lastly we have some emotional practice. In other books this would be described as ‘developing emotional intelligence’. Its a tough part of the method but its still quite crucial. Generally, Altucher states that one should draw closer to those people who lift you up and stay away from or tell off people who drain your emotional energy or your happiness. Some people do a bit of both but at the end of the day the list of folks at either end of the divide is usually quite clear in our minds.
I read Jenny Shih’s Idea flight kit

Jenny ShihI have to admit at first glance, I felt like I was at the wrong place on Jenny Shih’s home page. It was too pink for my taste and I had the feeling the site had been designed specifically to help women. But given that I had been directed to it by a man, I decided to give it a shot. At her site, Jenna offers two kits to help get any project or dream you have off the ground. These are the idea flight kit and the system flight kit. I took greater interest in the idea flight kit since it is where the whole dream actualization process kicks off.

If you have gone through some of my posts explaining task scheduling as a key to learning how to stay focused, then this method is quite similar. In a nutshell the process is as follows. First you write your idea (dream) down. Secondly, you define what you want to do about it, why you want to do it, who the whole idea will help, where, when and how its going to work and finally how much it will cost. That second stage is pretty much what in project management is termed as scope definition. Thirdly, you now need to break down every single activity that will take you from point A (now) to point B (dream achieved). Some may not be clear but those will be ignored and listed later. The essence of this stage is to have the steps broken down to their simplest forms. For instance, if you are planning on becoming a photographer, you shouldn’t just write “buy a camera”. You should first find out which camera, find the best price for that camera, the best place to buy it and decide how you will buy it (online, physically..). After this has been clearly outlined, it is not yet time to jump. You will need to mark each activity with a timeline. When will you do each of them?

As soon as stage three is done, you will have stage 4 to jump into. This is the implementation stage. During the implementation stage it is important to mark your progress so as to find insights on what better routes can be taken on the road map for achieving your chosen idea.

I read Tim Ferriss’s dreamlining technique

This is the method outlined in his famous bestseller book The Four hour work week.

You first need to define your dreams or goals in three categories. What you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have. For example you might want to become an expert programmer (be), you may also want to learn a language (do) and you may want a new car (have). You then give this set of dreams six or 12 months (depending on which you can work with) to be realized. The next step is to assimilate them into your daily lifestyle. This means picking three of the simplest activities you can do towards achieving each goal each day (precisely 24 hours).
Eventually you should be able to gain the results you want.

Your choice of method will depend on how specific your goals. If you simply want to find more balance in life, the Altucher’s method will work perfectly but if you are reaching out for something very specific, Jenny’s flight plan will work wonders and train on how to stay focused on one thing at a time. If you want something that offers both of these then you can easily apply Feriss’s dreamlining strategy like I did. Or even better you can use all three in a integrated approach.

9 Vital questions to ask yourself

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Here are some questions I tend to ask myself once in a while. They have helped me chart a path to peace and contentment in myself.

Why am I doing this?

I like this question because at times it helps me stop doing ridiculous things while at other times it helps me stop doing urgent things which are not really important to me? Sometimes you will be surprised by the fact that you could be doing stuff to please others more than to please yourself. This is ok as long as you’re not hurting yourself while you’re at it. Its dangerous when you ignore this question because you can easily put yourself in compromising situations doing things you don’t need to do.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Yes, because its never that serious. Hesitation is human nature. We know we need to do something and it makes sense to dive in but were are normally too scared or too wise. The truth is that only action begets reaction and choosing inaction is in most times the cause of our lack of progress. The problem is that we normally expect the worst without knowing exactly what it is. Asking yourself this question helps you define your fears and dispel them in seconds. With the answer to this question in your mind, you immediately become prepared for whatever bad outcome that could be.

How do I attack this?

This is the alternative question to “Can I hack(manage) this?” Instead of questioning your capability to try something you should question your tactics for trying it. Being able to accomplish something is simply a question of which technique you adopt. If you use the wrong formula to solve a math equation you will definitely get a wrong answer. If you feed on the wrong diet you will definitely fail to lose the write amount of weight. If you say the wrong thing when making a sale, you may easily lose the client. In this regard you need to recognize that it is not who you are but what you do that counts. This question brings that fact into perspective.

How do I refine this?

So you have done it but have you done it to the best of your ability? You need to revise your results and ascertain that they are satisfactory. As a writer this question is a mandatory step in my everyday work and even in my blog. I have to edit myself before I let my editor do his part. Each article I write has to represent something that I will be accountable for later on if questions are raised. Then again in terms of product development, whatever you create needs to please YOU first before YOU let it please others. That is the greatest editing or product development advice you can get out there. That is how you refine you work or product.

Do I need this?

Do you need what you have? Do you need what you are about to do? Sometimes we hold on to things that weigh us down. Wouldn’t it be much easier to just let go? To let them fall down on the ground and break into a million pieces? The feeling of letting go of something that was simply piercing you inside is the best feeling ever. It is freedom from your selfAnd the problem is that we don’t realize that their is more value in handling less than handling more. It can be anything, from disturbing conversations you have to endure with your boss to a house you hate but cant find the courage to sell.

How fast can I do this?

This question is one that we all love to avoid. We are all lazy to do that which we are not passionate about. Rationally we should do what we loathe much more quickly than what we love. If what makes us do what we love is the passion for the process, then doesn’t that mean we should do what we have less passion for a lot more quickly to see the end of it. Logically it makes sense but then we as humans are not really completely just rational beings. We are not robots. But then it is our intelligence that has hastened our progress as a race. We should therefore take advantage of it and decision such as efficiency should not just be left out of the equation. If we really desire quick results we need to ask ourselves, “How quickly can we do this?”

How much is this worth?

The question of value is one that most people often don’t comprehend very well. It is like people don’t seriously ask themselves how valuable they are before they commit themselves to anything. Time is valuable, so is money, love, family, attention, knowledge, trust and even skills. And all of them are thing we own. They are our property. Yet we very easily give them away in the hope of getting much less in return. People often use a rough approximation of their desperation to judge their true worth. But as soon as we stop to say, “I am worth much more than this.” the tables do indeed turn. Then and only then do people give you more for what you offer. Yet for this to happen you also have to provide real value. You need to see how valuable your offer is before you place a diamond tag on it. If it truly isn’t worth that much the task is upon you shift gears and make it more valuable or lower the prices.

Who can I talk to?

At times we may not have all the answers. Other people do though. It is important to try and make connections with such people and find out how they can help. You would be surprised how eager people are to help if you appear as someone of value as well. Its simply a faster way to get around and many a time it is also a way to find out whether you are actually on the right path.

Why?

This is the question that every curious mind must ask. Question don’t always surround us. We as humans have a tendency to simply accept things as they are if they don’t really bother us. The greatest inventions were made this way – by asking the question ‘Why?’ Everything as you might well know, happens for a reason. Questioning the good things we see around us can provide answers to how they became good. We often ask a lot of questions about the negative. “Why is my business not picking up?”, “Why is there poverty in third world countries” or “Why do we have corruption in our state systems?”. The answers could possibly be found in asking the questions “Why are my competitors business’s picking up?” or “Why is there prosperity in first world countries?” or “Why is there no corruption in certain nations”

Oh God Why

But why?

You are what you blog

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The beauty of a blog lies in the eyes of the blogger. If you are a blogger you stand to be the greatest beneficiary of your blog. You will consume it everyday as you try to find ways of improving it. You produce it every time you write. And in my opinion anyone can blog. Everyone has his/her own biological blog on auto-run all the time and its called the mind. Each sequence of thoughts always revolves around a particular subject or a particular mood and hence results in an unpublished blog post. And in the same way in which they say you are what you think, you are also what you blog. So, in how many ways can a blog represent real life?

You are what you blog

Spiritual bloggers

A blog can be your spiritual haven if it reflects your true self and your greatest beliefs. Each word you wrote but didn’t believe presents a deeper meaning. Maybe it shows the conflicts you are going through with your own self about the subject. Again you can also discuss the metaphysical and come up with your own concepts of spiritual actualization. I have seen many a blog that did not hesitate to include a post or two about their religious views. I have been guilty of this myself in a former blog. I think the freedom to do this without limitations is something that endears more people to their blogs than to other online stations such as social media profiles.

Political bloggers

Again it can be political as soon as you gain positions of authority from it. Think of all the specialist niche bloggers out there. Some rant about photography, some rant about web design, technology, making money online, lifestyle… the list is endless. Somehow as people start to respect your knowledge in these fields you are seen as a leader and thus the politics begins. As we all know politics is all about influencing others more these days more than it is about leading. Bloggers everywhere are in a constant race to occupy your mind with their customized ideas concerning the niche you have given them authority over. There will be offers to join their tribes of niche enthusiasts on each blog page you click on.

Economic bloggers

The economic element of a blog is obviously by far the more explored and tested area. Most bloggers out there have a secret desire (and sometimes not so secret desire) to make a killing off the information their reveal on their blogs. Because of this, the whole idea of profitable blogging has been turned into a science. There are myriads of online schools which train you on how to turn a blog into a business or, at the least, revenue centres.  Funny enough, the people behind these schools ventured into profitable blogging as an art – experimenting with things people may value. They eventually realized that they knew exactly how the game is played. Produce content (offer), get traffic (market), create product and sell it to your readers (now clients). It’s the sell out model of niche blogging. The best part about using a blog as an income earning tool is that you become proficient at whatever it is you’re offering. Every time you write you will be forced to create the best value out of your blog post because A. Competition is in plenty and B. No one trusts anyone online unless you give them sufficient reason to. Trust is earned by quality. Consequently, you will find yourself immersed in the world of such and such a topic which, in the real world, with make you twice the expert you are 0nline.

What many blogs will tell you about making money online

Social bloggers

A blog is also a social hub. I like to think of the blogosphere as an untethered social media network. The rules are self made however. You get to decide how your profile will look like and so on. You can leap from blog to blog and discuss stuff in a much broader perspective. Again you dont have to send friend requests to get chatting. You just need to connect on some level. Some conversational levels regardless of the means used. It could be a comment on a post, a backlink, a photo tag, an entire blog post with mentions …..  Bloggers are the most socially accesible people online. Thy expose their thoughts in the most open way and allow like minded people to indulge in the same. I know for a fact that more then 80 percent of bloggers out are more than grateful for each single comment that lands on any post they’ve published.

Blogging can expand your social circles to help you meet people within your spheres of interest

There are bloggers out there given the variety of dimensions a blog can take on spend more than half their days in their blogging communities. In my opinion, I think the connections and leverage that blogging gives anyone should be used as a bridge to constructing one’s life outside the computer screen and not necessarily to keep one away from the real world. So whenever you struggle to come up with blog posts, you should ask yourself “Which part of me is missing on this post?” Every post needs to cut out the B.S that seeps from the cracks and crevices your writer’s block and truly dig in to what you want to say. Everything else i.e, SEO, keyword research, multimedia, post-publishing edits, backlinks, inbound links and the rest should only come in to compliment your real say. In short, be your blog.

Cycle of wealth

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They say time is money. Meaning if one uses up his time well he will make money and if he uses it badly he will not make any money and worse still he can even lose it. But then what about the other situation? What if you wanted to have more money and more time all at once starting with very little of both? Well the following logic flow statements may give an idea of how skills and businesses can produce this. I have tried to put it as bluntly and concisely as possible.

 

Business exist to satisfy a demand with value

Businesses and people in general need skills to create value

Skills get you paid for creating value

Greater skills create greater value

Greater value gets you greater wealth

Skills can be bought through books

Books are cheap

Hence skills are cheap to gain

This means money is cheap to make

More time used in gaining skills creates more skill,

This creates more money

But uses more time

Businesses need money to start

This money can be sourced from the above skill based process

With businesses, money making is scalable

In other words, one makes more money in less time

With more skill one can run a better business

More time spent on a business creates more skill in running the business

Skills can also be bought through money (time is money)

With more skill and money, businesses produce exponentially more time and more money

In the end you will make a lot of money and in very little time

Le Fin

NB: I have not included less relevant variables such as motivation, product promotion and office policy…

 

 

5 Essentials for starting a muse business

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I have been working on a couple of start-ups (muses) of late.

If you are a business guru then this post may sound like layman language for everything you already know. After reading a certain blog post recently on lifestyle design I was moved to write something in reply. The blog was titled “Why lifestyle design will make you miserable.” The author aptly chose that title in complete blindness to his own career choice. Being a business coach himself it appeared like he was talking down on the new wave of people leaving their jobs and starting coaching careers to show other people how they can do the same – A bit pretentious if you asked me.

The long and short of his perspective was that it’s a bad move to design your lifestyle towards something you desire to gain but don’t have the desire to sweat your hands over. The idea was that it is not possible to start a business that you will not toil and involve yourself in full time. For example if you can’t get your hand dirty in the farm mud then you should stay away from the fantasy of living in a farm. I don’t on the other hand agree with this.

People are generally still reluctant to embrace the idea of muses. Muses are essentially businesses which are modeled to earn you a certain amount of income which will fund your dreams. If for instance you want to travel 3 times each year to different parts of the world with a total budget of 6000 dollars then you need to simply figure out how to make 500 (6000/12) dollars a month. If you are to start a full time business then you should expect 500 dollars a month from it. If you are looking to land 10 reliable clients each month then each client will probably need to buy a 50 dollar product from you each month. That’s when you start working out how your marketing strategy will land you at least 10 guys a month and your dream is born.

True story bro!

Outsourcing and automation

The problem comes when a mentality of do it yourself operations is taken up. You probably need to sit and think over what bits are harder to accomplish and which ones are in your range of expertise. What you can’t do is what you shelve of to a few employees or contractors. This way you don’t have to involve yourself in the business all day long. Many people fail to see the immense ease that automation and outsourcing provides for muses. In fact, automation and outsourcing are the backbone of muses. Without them, the feasibility of any such business fizzles out with the complexity of both performing and managing your business. And in essence every business organization understands this. The difference is that other businesses incorporate hiring and technology into their company policy and culture. With such a model everything get a bit more complex and eventually a lot less objective. You don’t need your marketer to dress in a suit or uniform in order for them to go about their work. You just need results.

All that a muse needs is a master plan. If your mind is objective enough to sieve through unnecessary BS and gimmicks and cut down to the bare minimum of what needs to get down then it shouldn’t be hard at all to run it in your pajamas.

Objectivism

Let’s take for instance a publishing firm. If you have a printing firm with a good deal for you, good writers and good marketing agents then you will probably be ready to roll in no time. Of course no business gets anywhere without capital. And with the risk that is usually involved it is easy to see why most people would not be amused by the idea of a muse. The truth however is that anyone with enough confidence in his ability to make sound decisions with any set of constraints will have minimal reason to worry about losing money. It’s almost like playing poker with people who don’t know the rules whearas you know techniques that could earn you millions.

The bootstrap

If you are still afraid of losing money, there is something in the start-up community called the art of bootstrapping. Start small get big. In truth, no business newbie is ever ready to start big especially in a muse that you have never successfully attempted before. You know you want to be big but that calls for very huge funding and massive expertise. Can you handle a million dollars well enough to produce two million in one quarter? Do you have that skill set? Organic growth creates the best funding system on the planet. Profit grows to realize itself and it all becomes a cycle of self sustaining business expansion. With organic growth you become a force that is indomitable. You know what it means to sell one pair of shoes in one month, a hundred in a day and eventually and entire chain of shoe stores to an investor in one night. You need to take small steady leaps with muses.

 

 

Networking

In business you need people. When you hear about networking the idea that comes to mind is constantly chatting with people about how they can help your business. And mostly with people you don’t know. If you are like me and are afraid of meeting too many new people all at once then you can see how this bit gets a little tougher than the rest. It always seems like you are bugging them when you come out asking for help. On the contrary, it need not be so. The best way to network is to find a way to meet other people’s needs and at the same time find out how they can help you out – a little info here and there, a little hook up with some useful people. It’s simply a value exchange process.

Innovate

As you go about everyday musing you will come across unforeseen problems. But how do you solve a problem that everyone has encountered and cowered away from? Simple, you innovate. Solutions are simply an idea away and if you exercise your creative nerve consistently you will become a business guru in no time. Innovation is avoiding the well worn solutions that tend not to work in several occasions and embracing new techniques that you are confident in trying. It is innovation that spearheads most companies above their competition. If Apple got stuck at making macs alone then we may never have had the opportunity to enjoy the iPod. In fact I was quite fine with my IBM PC before the iPod came out so to me Apple was a very irrelevant resident in the silicon valley. You need to innovate to meet demand more than anything else.