Category Archives: Reviews

Saturday Book Review: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the entire Chronicles of Narnia are worth reading. They impact my life every time I read them, and they can change your life, too. That is my review in a nutshell.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Review

If you want a little more information on the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, including how it can impact your entrepreneurial journey, read on.

Plot Summary

In case you have not read the books, or watched the movies, the plot of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is as follows.

Introduction to Narnia

  • 4 Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are sent to live in a large house in the countryside. This is during the Battle of Britain in WWII. They have some grand adventures there.
  • While exploring the house, the youngest, Lucy, wanders into the land of Narnia through a Wardrobe.
  • After meeting a Faun, her older siblings do not believe that she actually went to Narnia. Edmund teases her mercilessly until he stumbles into Narnia after Lucy. In Narnia, he meets the White Witch who realizes that the four siblings may be the cause of her downfall. She slips Edmund some enchanted food that causes an addiction so that he will betray his siblings to get more.
  • When the children are trying to hide from the housekeeper, who gives tours of the home, all 4 children stumble into Narnia. There, they discover that Lucy’s Faun friend has been captured by the secret police. In an attempt to find out more information, they get lost in the woods and find a Beaver who says he is a friend of Tumnus.

Edmund’s Betrayal and Rescue

  • After dinner with the Beavers, Edmund sneaks off to betray his brother and sisters to the White Witch and Peter, Susan, Lucy and the Beavers head off to meet Aslan, the Lion.
  • Edmund is captured by the Witch, realizes he is a fool, and she prepares to kill him to prevent a prophecy from coming true. The others meet Father Christmas, trek to the Stone Table and meet Aslan. Then Peter kills Maugrim the wolf chief of police.
  • Aslan sends some Narnian creatures to rescue Edmund, the Witch demands his blood, and the two of them come to some agreement. Aslan and company leave the Stone Table.

Aslan’s Sacrifice and the Conclusion

  • Susan and Lucy cannot sleep because they are worried about Aslan, so they find him walking back to the Stone Table where he offers himself for Edmund. They mourn all night, and he is resurrected with the morning light.
  • Susan, Lucy, and Aslan head to the Witch’s castle where Aslan frees the Witch’s captives who were turned into stone, and they all come back to save Peter and Edmund’s army as they fight the Witch and her army.
  • The children are crowned kings and queens of Narnia where they reign for a period of time before they accidentally stumble back through the Wardrobe and discover that they arrive precisely when they left.

How The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Impacts My Life

It seems silly to say that this series remains a significant influence in my life, but it is true. Written words have a way of transporting me to new places, and helping me see new ways of looking at our own world. Narnia may not be true, but then again, it might. You never can tell.

But, Narnia is a hope for me, a reminder of the idea of happy endings. Each of the books in the series, including this one, end with the main characters learning from their adventure but also coming out ahead on the other side of it.

Key Business Take Aways

Business is hard. Some days it feels like overthrowing a 100-year-old curse and defeating the powerful enchantress might be easier than doing business. Narnia reminds us that we can keep our chin held high. (When you walk through a storm…. sorry, different review)

Narnia also reminds me to enjoy life as it comes. If all we focus on is winning the game of business, we will be miserable old gits. Even in the midst of an adventure seeking to free Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, the children enjoy a great meal and friends. And C.S. Lewis delights in telling us there is nothing quite like fish caught half an hour before and just coming out of the frying pan.

I happen to agree with him. But, if food is not your thing, it is important that you take time to rest and enjoy the company of others. Especially when you are pulling 80 hour weeks trying to get your business off the ground.

When business gets overwhelming and I get in the feels, it helps me to remember the middle of the book. When Edmund is being driven on the sleigh for hours or Susan and Lucy are weeping at Aslan’s deathbed, there is no hope. But, the story has a different ending.

Your life can be that way, too. Hope is a powerful remedy.

In Conclusion

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) (You can follow that link if you want to buy the book and I’ll get a small fee for recommending it for you) is an inspiring tale of adventure and overcoming hardship. As a father, I love reading it to my kids. As a businessman, I love reading it to remind myself that there is hope in the most difficult days.

Saturday Book Review: Screw Business as Usual

After a small hiatus, SBR (Saturday Book Review) is back. Short and to the point, I read and review business, fiction, self-help or other works of information and show how they can apply to you as a business owner, entrepreneur, or marketer.

Today’s review is about Richard Branson’s book Screw Business as Usual.

One thing that always amazes me when I read things by or about Richard Branson is how much I resonate with him on a personality level; this book was no different.

The following are points in the book that really resonated with me:

  • As a young entrepreneur, RIchard Branson gave a homeless man the clothes off his back and had to stand wrapped in a blanket while selling his blanket. That is an attitude that great business owners have: compassion for those who are less fortunate.
  • Branson integrates teamwork in all the aspects of his businesses. If it was all about Branson, the Virgin Group would not be significant, but he makes it about his team members and praises them throughout the book.
  • Branson is willing to listen to others and act on the information they give him. Whether its environmental issues, AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, or his business processes.

These are some of the many great stories and points that Richard Branson mentions in the book. That said, there is one issue that Branson focuses on that I do not really resonate with, although many people will, and that is climate change.

Since this is a business blog, I will not go into more detail on a political issue like climate change, but I would like to point out that most of the extreme climate issues Branson brings up in the book are not provable, and are so sensational that any amount of common sense demands that we question the bearer of that news rigorously and check their predictions.

Will all life end on the earth if we don’t stop producing CO2? Is Global Warming really a worse problem than World War II?

I’m not so certain, and since this was an assumed point of much of the book, there were many premises and conclusions that I disagreed with.

But, Screw Business as Usual is an excellent look at one of the 20th Century’s greatest entrepreneurs (yes, he’s still alive and growing his businesses, but Branson earned his first million in the 70s.

 

Saturday Book Review: Webinar Style

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I have been listening to marketing webinars from several people. I was inspired by the difference between the two webinars. I wanted to give you some tidbits of advice that I learned from these webinars.

Webinar One

First I will review someone whose name I will not give. This marketer had a clear leak and presentation that was all about the sale.

Over the period of an hour, I learned about how he was successful and how he built his list.

Then he told me that I should buy his course to learn what he does,  step by step.  I’m certain this man was as successful as he said, but I neither bought his information, or his pitch. 

Webinar Two

This webinar, by Kevin Arrow of Sark eMedia, was educational and profitable right from the start.

Like many webinar leaders I’ve listened to, Kevin Arrow instructed us to turn off multiple tabs, get some paper and pen, and prepare to listen.But, unlike other webinar hosts, Kevin gave us a reason why.

Make sure you write things down, when you do, you remember.

Basic note taking, but I was refreshed to have an instructor thought and reasoned through his instructions.

Uses of Humour 

Like many content marketers, I tend to enjoy and use statistics. When we are so focused on money and numbers, we forget the power of humor to communicate. I was reminded of this by Kevin’s humorous reference to his competition as being in business for billions of years.

They had millions and millions of pounds and had been around for billions of years.

As a writer and blogger it was a good reminder to use humor as well as reason. 

Leading People Back To The Webinar

And then you have this guy…

I still don’t know who Kevin was talking about, but he mentioned someone that I would have known, if I wasn’t listening instead of watching. This served to bring me back to the slides.

Change Your Attitude

The final point Kevin made that has  stuck with me is that we need to change the focus of our content and marketing. We give until out hurts and focus onthe quality relationships around us. 

Get out of the attitude of sales and into the attitude of selfless service. 

Understanding that we need to serve others is important to become an influencer, as is knowing who is our why. 

Who is the most important person in your life?

It was an interesting and educational webinar, and I’m sad I missed it live. 

Saturday Book Review: Entreleadership

EntreLeadership was a great book to read the second time around, and I learned more now than I did then. I marked it up thoroughly so that I can use it as a reference guide for building Paul Davis Solutions, and hope to give you enough of an idea in this review to decide whether you want to buy it yourself.

Good Content for Various Stages of Business

In fifteen chapters, Dave Ramsey covers everything from defining a term he coined (combining entrepreneur and leader) through all the fundamentals of running a business. It is an ambitious project to include sales and marketing, accounting, human resources, strategic planning, business launching, decision making and more in one book, and Dave Ramsey does an admirable job.

Whether just starting or celebrating 30 years, EntreLeadership is a great tool for refreshing your understanding of the fundamental principles to running a business. If you have ever listened to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, you might have heard he gives the same advice your grandmother would give you, he just keeps his teeth in.

This book is no different. It has some solid, common sense principles for running a business and these are 3 key takeaways I got from the book (that will probably change the next time I read it).

Total Surrender

“My total surrender following my failure is at the root of our tremendous success today.” – Page 2

Personally, this was a significant quote for where my business is at right now. I find it comforting, because PDS is being built on the backs of many part-time businesses. In the first two chapters, Dave Ramsey offers his significant history as a business person as the reason and the method behind writing this book. The sub-title gives it away: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.

This is one of the most inspiring parts of the book for a business person facing tough times; it reminds us that we are not alone and in every failure is buried the seed of success.

Selling Matters

Chapter 8, Death of a Salesman, is Dave Ramsey’s explanation on sales. Knowing his history with and love of selling from the introduction and chapter 1, I am surprised he waits until Chapter 8, but he had many prerequisites to cover. This chapter has some excellent points including the fact that everyone is in sales.

If you are asking someone out on a date, you are selling your prospect as a suitor.

If a child tries to convince their parents to buy something, they are selling the need for that toy to their parents.

This is a good reminder for any business person or employee: if you are not actively involved in getting and keeping customers for your business, there will eventually be no business.

Another good point to remember from this book is the sales cycle. Different from the inbound marketing cycle, the sales cycle involves qualifying a lead, building rapport with the lead, providing education/information to the lead, and closing the lead to a customer. As Dave Ramsey points out, if you have done the steps properly, people tend to close themselves and at that point you will be merely an order taker.

I would recommend this book just for the chapter on selling.

Back to the Basics

In 305 pages, Dave Ramsey “spanned high-level leadership philosophy all the way to the daily mechanics of starting a business in your living room.” In order to cover so much in one book, he has to provide basic, common sense answers to most people’s questions. If you want a primer on the different types of social media, their market demographics, and how to reach them, this is not the book for you. If you want a reminder on how to find that information, this book is right for you. If you want a legal primer on contract law and human resources, you should not be reading a blog on marketing, AND this book is not right for you. If you want an overview of all the aspects of your business that you might be overlooking, including contracts and human resources, this is the book for you.

EntreLeadership provides some common sense thoughts and guidelines to grow a business by and helped me remember some areas in my business that need improving.

So, on to the next step!

If you need help with your basics in marketing, creating content, or building inbound funnels, please contact me today to see if we would be a good fit.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

Saturday Book Review: The Foundation Series

Sci-Fi on a marketing blog?

Yes, because content marketing seeks to understand content of all genres, even if that content style may never be used.

Foundation Series

One of the more popular novels by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, the Foundation (7 Book Series) is a complete saga regarding the end of a galactic empire and the beginnings of a new one. Known for his psychological theories and imaginative surprises, Asimov’s novels have withstood the tests of time fairly well.

The plot of most of the books is not as important as the intricate philosophies Asimov portrays, taking sociology and psychology and theoretically applying them on a galactic scale.

Non-Evergreen Content

This is a marketing blog, so one marketing issue you will note if you read this series is that, like most sci-fi, the technology the author imagines becomes obsolete by modern standards. In marketing, you often want evergreen content that you can keep referring to over time, but you do need to realize that technology is rarely ever long-lasting.

Something Asimov wrote in the 1950’s (people flying around the galaxy using slide-rulers), becomes completely obsolete by the time he finished the series in the 80’s. In the same manner, if you are writing a blog on best SEO techniques, you need to realize that any technical gimmicks included in the blog will likely become obsolete in the next Google update.

Are Humans Predictable?

The most interesting part of the series is the idea that one person was able to take sociological data from the millions of human worlds and the billions of people on each world to predict the course of galactic human history. For a marketing professional, this philosophy is very tempting to embrace wholeheartedly.

  • We predict conversion rates.
  • We determine Return on Investment.
  • We plan marketing strategies, product releases, and more based on statistics.
  • We forecast sales, income, and more.

And yet, this series shows that humans love change and create change so much that you cannot predict anything with accuracy. By the third book of the series, Asimov introduces mutants who change his core operating timeline. He then introduces an organic world in which all atoms and groups of atoms (including humans) are part of the whole.

This reminds a savvy reader of why marketing will always be part art, as well as science.

Humans love unpredictability. Asimov knew that if he wrote a series of books that were completely predictable, they would not have continued selling.

Should I read the Foundation Series?

Do you enjoy classic sci-fi or philosophical inquiries into modernistic thought?

If so, then yes, you should read the series.

If the very question sets your teeth on edge, skip the series and rest assured.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on some of the product/service links, I will earn a referral fee. 

5 Reasons Why I Recommend New Writers Start at BlogMutt

One of the first things you see when you are researching a new company is the Google suggestions, and most times it is for the simple question: “Is ________ a scam?”

Not only does Google suggest this, but I find that some of my best ranked keywords address that question: Is BlogMutt a scam? Is Mobe a scam?

I would love to say that I think that this is a problem, but there are so many dubious and nefarious sources of income out there, it is difficult to tell the good from the bad.

Although you may not know me from Adam, here are the reasons that I recommend BlogMutt:

Top 5 Reasons I Recommend Writing for BlogMutt

  1. Better Pay – Private writing pays better than Blogmutt, and even some content mills pay better than Blogmutt. But, many of those content mills are not actively seeking writers, and you have to spend significant amounts of time dealing with a dearth of writing, with frustrating editorial rules, and with other quirky systems. At Blogmutt, once you get approved to start writing, the persons you deal with the most will be the customers. I have written for some incredibly picky customers over the years at Blogmutt, but that was by my choice. I needed the income yesterday. Whether you use Blogmutt to plan out vacations or other long budget items or get aggressive and risk rejection by going for short income, a purposeful writer can easily make over $100 a week at Blogmutt. I earn over $12 an hour when I write for them, on average.
  2. A Great Community – The writer’s forum at BlogMutt is a great place to learn tips on writing for the company (or even their competitors). It is also a great community for getting encouragement in your writing career and connecting with a variety of writers from all around the US (Sorry, BlogMutt is currently only open to US writers). The forum itself is worth writing a few posts for BlogMutt.
  3. Great Staff – In the three years I have been a BlogMutt writer, I have heard complaints, but I have nothing to complain about. The staff at BlogMutt work with you to free up your thoughts and schedule to write. I happen to enjoy the process of creating products, marketing my services, and billing and invoicing customers, which is why I am doing more private work now as a writer and a tutor than I am doing on BlogMutt. But, if you do not enjoy all those nitty-gritty businessy things, BlogMutt provides a place where you just write.
  4. Weekly Payment Via PayPal – Every Thursday, weekly posts are automatically purchased. Every Monday, at 5 PM Eastern time (holidays get moved to Tuesday mornings), you get money paid into your PayPal account. I cannot remember the amount of times that I have looked at our budget for the month and said: I need to write more this month, and then I did. And the money came in. Now, there are some issues you need to learn about how long a queue is and how many posts a customer purchases. You also will need to make sure you are writing for customers who are on a weekly plan if scheduling is your big sell, but BlogMutt is definitely one of the more consistent sources of income I have had over the years.
  5. Stock Ownership – Last and definitely not least, BlogMutt has a stock option for writers who write a certain amount for them. I have had two stock certificates made out to me because of my writing for them. How great is that? The stock will only really be worth something when they sell the company, but for those writers who stick around with BlogMutt for a while, you will be rewarded with a bonus when the company sells.

This BlogMutt review gives my top 5 reasons for recommending them to new writers, and no, they are not a scam.

What is your experience with BlogMutt?

Inbound Marketing – A Side By Side Comparison

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of comparing two very different inbound marketing techniques. Both of them were further up the sales funnel, and therefore they both had a pitch with a close. One was a webinar performed by Niel Patel and the other was the IM Freedom workshop at a hotel here in Charlotte.

While both had beneficial information, the fact that I attended them about 14 hours apart gave me a unique viewpoint to compare and contrast the different sales and content creation techniques they used.

Both of these sites were found somewhat by accident on my part. The IM Freedom workshop was advertised on my personal FB newsfeed and I thought, “Wahoo! Networking!” I found Neil Patel doing research for a blog for another company in his niche, and since I am a sucker for learning marketing and content creation, I thought, “Free webinar. Why not?”

Needless to say, several days later, my viewpoint and attitude switched between the two of them. I was able to learn and increase my networking from both a webinar and a conference, go figure!

The IM Freedom Workshop

IM Freedom Workshop

First on the list is the second I attended: the workshop.

I showed up a little late, considering the workshop was 45 minutes from my house, but still was present for 90 minutes of the presentation. During the 90 minutes, I was able to take one piece of information, one platitude, home with me that was valuable for my business.

It was this: “In internet marketing, there is no such thing as creating traffic, only redirecting traffic.”

Besides that one piece of information, there were many platitudes that were passed off as incredible new inspiration and business marketing advice that anyone who has read Dale Carnegie and Napolean Hill will recognize as soundbites from the classic self-help manuals of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

After the close of the presentation and sales pitch, I collected my free materials and tried hanging out to chat with people,  but the system was so streamlined that I was only able to talk to one other event attendee.

While I was able to learn something and meet someone, it was a large amount of work.

Neil Patel’s WebinarNeil Patel

I sat down to Neil Patel’s webinar as I do to most ngwebinars I attend: with at least 4 tabs open on my browser. While this is standard, there are several times I have sat down to a webinar that grips my attention. This was one of them.

Patel’s webinar has 202 slides (he sends out the presentation to everyone who attends the webinar). Only the first 8 slides were about him and why we should listen to him. The next 113 slides were dedicated to providing information on:

  1. Increase Your Click Through Rate
  2. Competitive Intelligence
  3. Link Building
  4. Lead Magnets

Well over half of his presentation was free information and content. The pace was so fast that the comments were flying into the demonstration re-asking about whether he was going to give a copy of the notes afterwards (I wasn’t the only person multi-tasking, apparently).

When Niel Patel finally introduced the product he was selling at about 2/3rds of the way through the webinar (still an additional 81 slides to go), there was a list of people who were already sold. Why? Because if the webinar was this rich, how much more was the course worth?

I was so interested in watching the pitch that I didn’t even mind the fact that there was no way I could afford that course at the moment. I watched all the way to the end, wishing I could join.

The lessons from the webinar were not over after the GoToMeeting session ended, though. Not only did Niel Patel send out the link to his slide presentation, but after the initial sign up period was over, he offered a one-month trial for $1 to people who were on the fence or could not afford the full course fee at the moment.

I signed up faster than you could say “Yes.” (Well, technically I clicked on the link faster than you could say Yes, the actual signup took a little bit longer).

What did I learn from Niel Patel’s webinar and following interactions?

  1. Providing valuable information is essential for creating a great marketing campaign.
  2. If you provide high enough value, you do not have to put pressure on the close.
  3. If you provide high enough value, additional lead magnets like a $1 trial are much better closing methods than a high-pressure sales tactic like telling people that they must act now.
  4. Follow Up Works

Is MOBE A Scam? A Product Review of Matt Lloyd’s “Limitless”

I am going to be providing reviews of books I read and the lessons I learned from them, but my most recent marketing book is the subject of so many poor review sites on the internet that I wanted to take some time to review the actual company before I dove into the book marketing the company.

MOBE stands for My Online Business Education and this is their website:

MOBE Website

MOBE sells educational products on how to build a business and uses an in-house affiliate network to sell those products.

Up to this point, I have partaken in a local event that offers some education on business and MOBE in particular and read Matt Lloyd’s entire book Limitless. I do not have the experience or the knowledge to judge whether any other level of their sales funnel is legitimate so will base my entire review on what I do know.

  1. MOBE is an MLM business. Since this is a touchy subject, let me be clear in my definitions. MLM, Multi-Level Marketing, is a system of marketing that uses the consumers as a significant part of their sales funnel. That means they can sell products, like Melaleuca (which I am a marketing executive in) or just financial services like Primerica (which I dabbled in 5 years ago).  MLM is not a scam, nor is it a pyramid scheme, nor is it a Ponzi scheme, etc.
  2. MOBE is not, to the best of my observations, a scam. Business opportunities are never guaranteed sources of income. If you go into MOBE thinking you will try it out to see if their make money guarantee works, then you are scamming yourself. There is no guarantee in life, in business, or anything else. MOBE presents itself as it is, a high ticket marketing system that educates you on on the process of creating a business. Whether you keep those principles and build a MOBE business or turn around and apply them to your own business is up to you.

Now into the review of the actual book.

Seven Lessons I Learned from Limitless

  1. Earn Cash Now – To be fair, I actually first was exposed to this idea in Built to Last, but Lloyd reminded me of its importance. As a business owner, your most important activity each day is that which will bring you in income. When you are starting out, that means a significant portion of your energy will go into little tasks that bring in enough money to survive. As you grow, you outsource the little tasks, but you still focus on doing activities that bring in your desired income to your business.
  2. The Value of Paid Marketing Online – I probably could have learned this in other locations but I have been so focused on building a business organically that it hit me upside the head like my flying two-year-old: paid advertising scales. You can start with nothing and build to hundreds of thousands of dollars a month quickly with a paid advertising campaign for a product that sells. Organic is much more difficult to do that with.
  3. Focused Attention Brings Great Results – Whether it was committing to creating 10 blogs a day at the beginning of his experience or taking 3 days to write out the book Limitless, Lloyd presents a lifestyle of dedicated single-tasking. This is something I need to remember in my time management and create time for specific activities so that I am not falling behind on everything.
  4. There Are Many Ways to Present Urgency – An important part of closing a sale is presenting urgency to take action now. This item is actually something I learned by comparing Lloyd’s techniques with those of Niel Patel. They are different: Lloyd is focused on communicating the urgency and moving on, while Patel created urgency by offering a $1 month-long free trial for his software. One is high energy and the other is low but they both demonstrate the urgency of making a decision now.
  5. You Don’t Have to Be Everything to All People – Lloyd has made a cool $100 M in marketing his business and education products by focusing on creating really big sales. His HTAM method (High Ticket Affiliate Marketing) method focuses on those accounts which will go big and creates products for them. This is quite different from Wal-Mart, whose business model is Everyday Low Prices.
  6. The Value of Targeting – I understand targeting; I do not understand targeting like Lloyd understands targeting or anyone else earning large amounts in his organization. When you are focused on high-priced ticket sales, you must be able to find the right target audience or all your work is in vain.
  7. All Online Marketing Needs to Convert – This is a variation of point number 1, but it is significant enough in my business thought processes that I want to rephrase it. If your activities online are not geared towards creating an income within a certain timeframe, you are not going to be successful as a business.

There are 7 things I learned from reading Matt Lloyd’s book Limitless.

A final note on the company: I have decided not to purchase their product at the moment for two reasons: 1. I am not yet their ideal customer because there is no way I could purchase the higher paying products if I wanted to. 2. I need to be more confident in my own sales and marketing style before I learn from a high energy sales team like MOBE because my personality and commitment to service are at odds with much of the high-pressure attitude of their products.

Finally, if you are considering buying a product from MOBE, understand that they are selling an entire system. You can learn from any product they sell, but they will be teaching you alot about how to do things at MOBE. The system is designed to turn customers into brand advocates. If you want to become an affiliate marketer for MOBE, I encourage you to do so, but with the caveat that there will be substantial investment required on your part.