Success programming

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When I started this blog I swore never to write about how to be successful. We have enough of such blogs out there and frankly there’s nothing new about the subject anymore. Success is a broad term but in actuarial science, we usually say that a success is any positive result from a trial of an event. It could be tossing a coin and hoping a head comes through or it could be asking for a hand in marriage. The probability of success increases with the number of trials. This is because there are more ways of failing with additional trials and if each row of failures is considered a “success at failing” then it should also get harder to successfully fail for so many times in a row. This leaves us with a chance at actual success. Technically, the term for this is the exponential distribution. The text book example is the number of times a phone has to ring in order for someone to pick it up. The number of times it rings relates to the probability of someone picking up the phone. Analyzing exponential distributions is very good ground for experimental research. You could assess how many follows you make before a follow back is received on twitter, how many invites to a page are given before someone actually follows, how many times a phone rings before it is picked up, how many times you call someone before he picks your call… etc.

So with my little memory of basic programming I decided to take this concept and ride with it. What if you could program your chances at success with anything through a logic program. With the correct code your only obligation would be to follow it strictly. You just have the task on deciding how to stay focused on maintaining progress.

For instance, you want to get a job.

We are all familiar with the usual success program:

Success program 1

But what if the response is not really positive? You could adjust it further,

Success program 2

Ok, so now assuming that as a sensible guy, a positive response only counts for you if they say they want to take you through an interview. But what if you still don’t get hired after the interview well?

Success program 3

This way you have a foolproof policy to keep you job hunting until you actually get the job you are looking for.

But these statements are pretty simple. You probably want to shorten the time you take to job hunt. So you decide to also network even as you try to send cold call applications. Now…

Success program 4

The idea of connecting with the employee is so that you can have an inside scoop of what your chances of landing a job there really are.

This might all seem very mechanical and robotic at first. As you continue to fine tune your success program, you realize that it becomes really human like. It starts to sound like the kind of decisions a normal person would make in his mind when pursuing something. The only difference is that with humans, a lot of consistency and uniformity will be lacking. You will only network when you can and you will only send applications when things look tough but stall a little as soon as your first interview comes through.

The success program impersonalizes your efforts so that you only need to think of the creative aspects of making the solution and not how to go about the already made solution. Once you zero in on how to stay focused on the already designed solution you should be on a one track path to the goal. It fine tunes your decisions to provide accurate and trackable results. You don’t have to code it, you just have to have it clearly outlined it in your mind. To believe in it completely, it has to make complete sense. No portion of it should stick out without an explicable set of instructions.

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Blogging is business on steroids

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I remember reading a book on marketing that had the statement “Business is life on steroids”. It was the truest statement I had heard in a long time.

In business, objectives are clear. Stakes are high. Resources are scarce and opportunities are there for the open minded. The main goal of any business is usually to make profit. You make a product, have it in the market, give it some competitive advantage by promoting it and then you can make sales. When the cycle repeats itself successfully you will have some growth in the business. At the beginning of it all, you and your partners will have a meeting and decide what the goal of the firm is. Its pretty obvious what the goal is (to make profit) but you want something beyond that. It’s a backward way of approaching things because inevitably, the other non-commercial goal often takes a back seat when it is deemed to be “unprofitable”.

Blogging is business on steroids. Putting up a blog for your business is a very inexpensive way of communicating the other goal of your business. It is something that the corporate world is lowly taking interest in globally. You have the firm’s site which serves as an online advertising and communication portal and then you have a blog page in it that is supposed to be a daily diary from the firm. The truth is that maintaining the blog is much harder than maintaining the site itself.

A blog is a memoir of your non-materialistic goals. When you start one you have a mission in mind to introduce some idea, philosophy or general perspective that you will share with others. The idea is to share. Not to sell – well at least  not in the commercial sense of the word. So how do you share something freely and use it to buy people’s attention? That’s the tough part.

If you have a firm that deals with kids toys, the non commercial objective could be to help kids grow in a happy environment that allows them to learn quickly. It is your blog’s job to express this objective in as many ways possible. This way it keeps you responsible and in line your objectives. Its easy to sell toys without meeting this very objective. Once the money cashes in, anything goes. Even violent video games will go on promos. A blog can stop this.

When a hobbyist or professional blogger chooses to blog, he probably doesn’t have some firm he wants to link to the blog yet. Because of this blogging can be a much harder task for him than running a business. Sure, it easier to sit and write than to be up and down chasing deals, shipments and clients. But the thoughts that have to go into a blog are much harder to assemble than those that go into selling a product. With blogging

  • Your product is your blog posts
  • Your market is your readers
  • Your marketing channels are search engines and other sites
  • Your revenue is traffic
  • Your profit is your comments (and hopefully later on real money)

So its much tougher to handle a blog. The only difference is that your product quality is on constant surveillance. Your market is extremely volatile to the content’s standards. One poorly done post can cost you a big chunk of your traffic. When your passion for the topic waivers, it shows.

Again, with a business, you only need to sell the same product or small set of products over and over again. With a blog, a new products are created every single time you blog. The more products you make the more your traffic. Because of this, creativity is demanded in three ways. With most businesses, creativity is one dimensional.

About your about page

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Whats an about page for if it won’t tell the world anything about what your about?

The first time I tried creating a self hosted blog I checked our Darren Rowse‘s 31 days to a better blog e-book. Amongst the first thing he covers is the about page (and that’s as far as I went with the guide). He says that the about page should at best capture what you are about with a really short sentence. That in itself is the mark of clarity – a sign that you know exactly why you started your blog. Its like they say – brevity is the soul of wit.

You can know what you are blogging about but fail to know why you are blogging about it. It the same thing everywhere if you look at all the blogs that fail to live up to their expectations. You are better off not knowing what to blog on a given day than not knowing why you want to blog.

So sometimes you come across very gross About pages. Some of them will cover a lot of verbosity and say nothing about what the log is about. For example..

 …..dedicated to the generation, presentation and promotion of innovative contemporary visual arts practice in Kenya. Its artists’ studios, library, programme of exhibitions, artists’ talks, training & mentoring, education and international exchange, aims to provide opportunities for artists to develop new and experimental contemporary artwork within a context of current practice.

Trust me, your readers do not want to read your about page seven times to piece it all together. Tough vocabulary is very uncool on the About page. Its too grey.

And some will be short but pointless such as this one.

My suggestion…

If you want to have a captivating About page, keep it simple.

You need to know exactly how you want to put out your message. Your about page is like that little section at the back part of a book’s cover. It sums it up for everyone. It’s your business card. Its your mission statement. How crucial is that? Yet so many take it for granted and whine about why people don’t read their blog. The reason my first blog failed was because I did not critically look into this fine detail. Ergo I did not streamline my blog to communicate something specific. It taught me a lot and I have used what I learnt to my advantage with new blogs.

There are a number of ways to handle an about page

If you are lazy, you can simply write two paragraphs. One can be about you. The other can be about your message.

For instance if your all about freelance photography this could be your about page

I’m Jack. I have loved photography ever since I first put my hands on a camera. I love it more when I put my hands on a high quality camera.Its become my life now in more ways than I had expected it would. It gets me to travel to different countries every year, meet new people everyday, try new experiences and of course make some awesome cash. Now I live everyday looking at the world and hoping to capture it in my perspective.
I didn’t get taught how to shoot photos by anyone in particular. I just fished for online resources and spent a little money on a good camera. You’re probably like me now either starting out or already on the journey of trying to teach yourself photography. You want to take the self taught photographer’s path and you don’t know how exactly. I’m here to take your hand and show you how to make million dollar pics (or maybe hundred at first). It what’s I love so join me as we explore freelance photography. You can start here

It is

A – Simple

B- Personal

C- Exact

D- Leading you to the next page you should go to.

Or maybe you can be lazier but a little more creative and do a video for it.

This can be a simple in-your-bedroom shoot with your face in the middle of the whole video. Or it can be edited to include some bit of film art with different locations and effects. This will obviously take a lot more work but can do wonders for your traffic especially of it goes up on youtube.

Generally, there’s a more personal touch with videos. And readers love it when you get personal.

Instead of video’s you can try pictures with captions. Pictures are worth a thousand words expect they can be consumed in milliseconds. This will be a chance to bring out your creative flair too.

Whatever you do don’t ruin your blog with a lame About page.

Sensible Blogging

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A blog is not like a newspaper. Most blogs are free to read.

It is not like a magazine. Many blogs are run by one person.

When you embark on creating a new blog. You are creating a communication and information portal. In the information age, such an entity is of extreme significance. Information is a vital tool for survival. Think about all the people out there who aren’t educated. Most of them live through each day of their lives wishing they could access some form of useful education to improve their lives. They know quite well that this is the key to their success. Those that do not even know what education is are oblivious to the fruits that spring forth from attaining it. They therefore live their lives in much poorer standards that they have simply adapted to. With education, their lives can be much simpler.

But there is a flipside to it all. Too much information has been known to overwhelm the human mind. It simply goes to waste. That is why the human mind needs a reliable structure that can format it in a way that it meets the most relevant needs of the human soul and body. Fortunately, we have Google to thank for a larger portion of that task.  Google however only does about 40 percent of the job. It merely directs our minds to the many possible doorways where the right answer might lie.

It is thus our duty as bloggers to provide internet search engines just like Google with the right assistance in giving answers to this information hungry world. Whatever you blog about, you need to know it is not merely about disseminating it – it is also about organizing it. Organizing your information is what allows you to communicate it to the world. Without organization, communication is dead.

Organizing a blog post

You don’t have to cover every single idea that a blog topic revolves around. You simply need to look at what you’ve written and make sure its well outlined with headings and whatever else will guide your reader to the answers. Keywords, titles, subtitles, links, pictures and other media all do this job. What’s the point of naming a blog post 100 ways to be successful when you are only intending to outline 100 ways to be successful as an online writer. If you stick with the former title, you should talk about 100 ways that circumvent both the online sphere and the offline sphere of success. Again success doesn’t need to be about money along. It can be about relationships, inner satisfaction,charity, sports, health and so on…
Which kind of success are you talking about?

Bloggers brain

On the internet there are tonnes and tonnes of blogs and websites that are out to promote irrelevant information. There are no laws against that but there surely are negative outcomes. Many people get misled into reading and believing the wrong information. Consequently, they get ripped off their money, get persuaded into participating in immoral or illegal activities and the list goes on. As subtle as it may seem, the internet is quickly becoming a tool for mind control and pursuing purely selfish interests. If you want readers to consistently read your informational resources, you have to ask yourself a few questions.

Am I writing this to communicate to someone?

I haven’t done my research but I have a feeling than more than 50 percent of blogs out there are really not meant (or operated) to communicate to anyone. They are just a self indulgence of some sort if not attention seeking schemes that aim to fortify the writers self esteem.

If so, who?

“Who are your readers?” is an interesting question I see posed on many blogging guides out there. Frankly not many people can answer that question. Why? Because you do not dictate who reads your blog or who doesn’t. You would rather state whom you wish your readers could be. And the answer is not that short and exact. You could be running a humour blog but you want it to go a certain kind of demographic. Maybe people who are into dirty humour, with a strong sober message beneath it. It could even be an emotional description. Like, people who have lost their mothers or people who have just entered a new romantic relationship. Don’t just settle for any description for your intended readers. Don’t just say I am writing this for people in school. There are many sorts of people in school. Which ones?

Writing for everyone is the number one step to not communicating. The reality is you cannot connect to everyone because not everyone will agree with your ideas and set of values. You will wind up a flailing leaf with no self conviction once you jump around from opinion to opinion with no particular stand. And no one likes to read flailing leaf literature.

What exactly do I want them to know?

So now that you know who your readers ought to be, you need to craft a message that you will communicate. That was the initial point of starting the blog anyway. Chances are you have it laid out very clearly in your mind. You just need to believe in it so badly you would host a large scale conference to speak about it. And the blog really is your large scale conference. Its accessible to the entire world.

Just like a sub headline leads your reader to well grouped ideas, categories will package your message in a way that is easy to follow. Pages will perform the same function. The difference between a page and a category is that a page is static in nature. It doesn’t change,. A category will lead you to a web page whose content is refreshed with every relevant post you publish.

The About page is a static page that described the underlying principle of all this bloggery and sometimes also described you as a person. The About page should answer the question, “So what is the bottomline?” Its where any new readers can get a brief run through on what you’re blog is about. From there it is important to guide your reader to square 1,2… etc of the message of yourblog. That is if there is a particular order to your statement.

Why do I need them to know this?

This is even more important than the message itself. Embarking on a journey to nowhere in particular can be adventurous but then it can cost you a lot of time and money. If you are blogging purely for fun, then you might not need to seriously consider your cause. If this is more than just fun for you, the you have to know exactly where all this is leading to. Why the hell are you blogging in the first place? Answering this will help you orient and limit your blog post to cover specific elements for your message. It will help you blog/communicate for results and not merely traffic numbers. Not knowing the end product of your blog is the reason a lot of blogs lose their momentum and wither off into the back end of search engine relevance.

How will this help me, them or the rest of the world for that matter?

So now that you know why you are communicating and what the readers will do after they read your blog you also need to ask what the benefit is. So you got 1000 hits a month. You know where they are from and you know what they mostly read about. You got them to sign up for a newsletter and you got some of them to buy your e-book or cd or other relevant product. Is that where it ends? Is the money all you were after? Surely there are a dozen other ways in which you could have made that money? Why did you choose the blog? Beyond the money there are other values that make the blog a better choice for communication. Did it change their lives? Will it make them laugh and brighten up their day every single day? Will it help you connect to certain people you are seeking to connect with (and if so why?). There are certain intangible values in a blog that keep the spirit of the blogger going. Strive to connect to those values everyday and let them guide your efforts. This way you will actually be running a blog that matters.
While you are contemplating all this you might also want to check out Corbett Barrs blog “How to start a blog that matters

Why skill is more important than capital

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You know the famous saying from the Bible that says “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It doesn’t get more profound than that. We have all been brainwashed into thinking that our education system is out to teach us how to fish. The truth is it that it has taught how to beg for fish. Every single employee out there is playing into the begging game by subscribing to some standardized form of remuneration. Beggars are constantly afraid of sleeping hungry. We all think that beggars are people who demand something for nothing. But just like every shopkeeper and every hot shot lawyer out there, there is a trade to begging. If a beggar begs you, there is definitely a reason why you might end up helping him out. Its a trade off for our soul’s purity and their daily bread. We get to walk off feeling a lot better about our selves thinking that we aren’t that rottenly selfish after all. They on the other hand get to eat for a day. That’s the trade in begging. Some beggars perfect the art and find out how to beg better but at the end of the day they will still be just that – beggars.

The same case applies to employment. A price tag is put on your specialized skill and not really your time. Time is invaluable. It is the one resource you cannot recycle, the one resource that you cannot use sustainably. You will provide skill in return for a certain wage but you will never have time to stop asking. Sure your employee could use your skill but he is much more comfortable using you time. So every employer out there is feeding off someone else’s time and making a kiling out of it.

Skill vs capital

As an employee you choose to give up your time so that you can be relieved off the need to use your mind in the true potential of all its facets. We pay with our time to avoid thinking. How so? Well, if you were to start your own firm to do exactly what you are employed to do, it’s quite obvious that you would be required to think a lot more creatively and proactively than you do when you are employed. But then you will end up with a lot of free time once the thinking gets you to come up with structures and business mechanisms that don’t need you doing everything. This way you end up with all your time in hand.

The biggest misconception however is that money is the real issue when it comes to starting your own thing. I can assure you that it is not. Money is simply a form of red tape to filter out who can make it big and who will end up a loser. With a certain amount of money you can end up with a failure of a business or a huge success. Our education system teaches us to be ready to join the job market and wait on a steady supply of fish whose long term future is not completely guaranteed. But what if it taught us how to make that fish for ourselves or in other words how to start enterprises that provided others with fish instead. That’s the real skill right there. Without it you remain forever a beggar. CV in one hand and servitude in the other.

5 Phenomenal Thinkers of our Time

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When I was a kid I would go to the library to read only what I liked to read; books like The Greatest scientists of the 21st century, American artists, History of the European renaissance. To be honest, I was a bit of a nerd. When everyone was playing games after class and doing chores, I found it way cooler to immerse myself in books about great people who wrote even greater books. Funnily enough, I don’t recall ever getting down to reading any of these great books written by the great people. I found it even harder to read actual school books from class. Those books about great people always inspired me to gain knowledge and come up with something new for the world to marvel over.

So far the something new part hasn’t really manifested itself but I believe one day it will. However, to date I still look around for these bright minds in our modern world. I often wondered why the new guys aren’t hyped up as much. Well that’s because the new guys are always out and about hyping themselves up – trying to sound like the best minds with book titles like ‘The greatest sales rules on earth’ and ‘The only business model for the 21st Century or I will make you rich. I was looking for something original, something that was more than just a compilation of previously acquired ideas reworded in a way that will make them sound more spectacular. In today’s world everyone seems to believe that they are great oracles of some sort and the ever-elusive advertising of new ideas through books will easily keep more prominent inventions and discoveries hidden from our eyes.

But, that’s was before I came across the T.E.D community and a number of other such like sites which I listed on a previous post here. At TED I unlocked a world of amazing thinkers gathered at one portal. So today I’ll share my reasons as to why the following 5 people are by far some of the greatest minds of our age. And by our age I mean people who were still alive in the 21st Century. I can’t call them the greatest thinkers because greatness can be relatively debated. Sure you know all about Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg and the likes of Page but aside from the small league of famous market friendly innovators we have a breed of independent minds whose approach is definitely fresh and intriguing.

Jacque Fresco – Society and Economics

Jacque Fresco

Jacque Fresco

Jacque is the team leader of the Venus project. And what is the Venus project you might ask? The Venus project is a global endeavor that aims to introduce a whole new socio-economic structure. Forget capitalism, forget communism and disregards socialism. Venus project does not support any of these ideals. The core principle that the Venus project works on is a resource based economy. This is an economy in which money does not exist at all. We have heard about sustainable energy and we are all aware of the great possibility that modern science promises to deliver in terms of technological advancement. The Venus project hopes to combine these two to create an economic model where people will hand over menial routine tasks to computerized systems and focus on developing their efficiency. This way no one has to do anything he does not like to do. The labour market becomes free and so do goods and commodities. Everything essentially will become available to anyone and this will eradicate negative social, political and economic divisions amongst mankind.

Fresco developed this idea in the 70s and has since received support from various key figures including Larry King. Being an industrial structural designer and social engineer, he has adequate experience when it comes to industry specific inventions. He has worked in the aircraft business, housing and even the film industry. If there is anyone who is right for this job it’s him.

Stephen Hawking – Astronomy and Physics

To me Hawking is like a direct descendant of Einstein. This guy has more academic titles after his name that the President of the United States. He is a very handicapped man in terms of his physique but his brain is astronomically powerful. Speaking of astronomy, back in high school, I had the chance to peruse through his books on the subject. These included A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, A Briefer History of Time and the Grand Design. The fact that despite his physical disabilities, he still had the mental stamina to write all these books and capture his ideas perfectly is really something to behold.

Stephen Hawking

Hawking’s main focus is exactly what most scientists would prefer to avoid – Metaphysics. He speaks about the origin of the universe in a purely intellectual level quoting physical laws and rationalistic arguments that are deeply profound. The amount of knowledge one has to pack up in order to drive through his ideas is colossal. Nevertheless, the publishing market does not recognize intellectualism and scientific correctness alone. It is driven by one word – Sales. A number of editors and writers have therefore helped Hawking’s works become digestible for a mass audience by toning down the literature to easily convey the ideas put forward. It was because of this that lesser minds like mine were able to even read and comprehend his stuff. So if you haven’t taken a look at any of Hawking’s books, you should make a note to grab one soon and be blown away by the secrets of the universe.

Seth Godin – Marketing and Business

Seth is a marketing guru. He is one blogger who I believe comes up with the most ideas in a day. Every blog post he issues is based on a fresh idea. He is also an accomplished writer having written over ten books to date. He believes in the power of ideas to change the world. One world he has certainly devoted himself to change is the world of business. His ideas are profoundly insightful for both the big corporate guy and the little start up entrepreneur. Having embarked on a few start-up investments of his own, he knows the rules of the game when it comes to making bank through enterprise.

Seth Godin

He is also a great advocate for generous productization – the idea that we can make products for free just so that a change can be realized based on those products. Because of this, some of his works are easily available as manifestos. One manifesto that truly influenced me was Brainwashed – A pdf format manifesto that you can download at his site. It is basically a guide to reinventing yourself so that you can fully realise the influential person that you want to become.

Steve Wolfram – Mathematics

Stephen Wolfram

Wolfram is a scientist and a businessman. He is the modern day genius of the numbers world. So great are his ideas that you would also have to rank high on the intelligence scale to actually understand what they are all about. But from these ideas, he has managed to create informational tools that can help any average guy work with numbers. One of his main products is the Wolfram Alpha computational machine.

Wolfram alpha is a site much like Google except that it’s customized for numerical results. Google gives you words, alpha gives you numbers. If you want to know how large Hawaii is. You just need to type in, ‘How large is Hawaii’ and the results will come with precisely that plus all other related figures that may also interest you.

Aside from that, Wolfram has a site that contains just about every piece of knowledge that constitutes the field of mathematics. To say that this guy is a little wild about numbers is quite an understatement.

Cynthia Breazeal – Artificial Intelligence

She is bringing to life something we could only expect to see in movies. If you have watched the movie A.I (Artificial intelligence) and Minority Report then you will be quite convinced that Steven Spielberg isn’t the only person in the world who can produce humanoid robots. Cynthia Breazil’s robots have the capability of conversing with humans on a level that is almost completely unpredictable.

She is steering forth concepts of human-machine interaction that most people may argue to be make belief. If you thought it was impossible to have a social interaction with a machine then you need to watch Cynthia’s video demos of early stage social robot prototypes. Although her current models are not intelligible enough to produce actual language based speech, they are signs that a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence is not that far off.

Cynthia Braezeal