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.

Are You a Wantrepreneur or an Entrepreneur?

Are you a wantrepreneur or an entrepreneur

Are You a Wantrepreneur or an Entrepreneur?

After having a tremendous breakthrough in my mindset about my business this month, I thought I should write a post to help people figure out the answer to the question: Are you a wantrepreneur or an entrepreneur? But, I just realized that literally everyone and their dog has written an article on entrepreneurs vs wantrepreneurs.

So, why do I want to write this article, still?

Because a story is worth telling. I write a lot of listicles, and I was going to make this a listicle, but since almost all of the above links are to listicles, I think that genre has been overdone for the question: Are you a wantrepreneur or entrepreneur?

My Entrepreneurial Journey

I have embodied what many of these lists call a wantrepreneur for many years. I look back now and embrace it with passion. Because for me, being a wantrepreneur means that I try, I work, and I learn. But, things don’t always go the way I want them.

You can read more about my personal journey with multiple businesses on my LinkedIn Profile. Long story, short, I have done 13 different businesses or freelance-type work in my adult years. Add to that my 8 different jobs I have held, and I am one busy fella.

For the purpose of this blog, my consulting, and your own sanity, I have a simple definition of a wantrepreneur. If you are working on a business but making less than you would earn picking rock in the fields of southern Idaho, you are a wantrepreneur. Working includes the time you spend thinking about starting a business because thinking is often the biggest hurdle in business-life.

If you just say you are an entrepreneur but don’t even think about starting a business, you are just a want. Sorry.

It was not until this last year that I moved from my definition of a wantrepreneur to an entrepreneur.

Wantrepreneur: You Earn Less Than Burger-Flipping High School Dropouts

I remember interviewing for a McDonald’s job a couple of years ago and they asked me if I could handle earning minimum wage and I laughed at them. After working for overseas content mills at $4 an hour, I would be happy to work for $7.25 an hour. Delighted, in fact.

Sadly, I didn’t get the job.

Entrepreneur: You Start to Figure Things Out

Now, I know that there are plenty of entrepreneurs who set the standard for entrepreneur as someone who builds and exits businesses. While I respect their vastly superior build-and-exit experience to my scratch-for-sustenance experience, I disagree with their definition.

To get a little nerdy, entrepreneur was coined by a French economist, Jean-Baptiste Say, in 1800 in response to an omission he saw in the classic The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. In this definition, Say crafted together the word to mean one who undertakes. He used it to describe the type of business person who undertakes a venture, assumes an unknown amount of risk, and hopes for a profitable return. (Investopedia)

These three parts of an entrepreneur mean that, by my definition, a wantrepreneur is also an entrepreneur. They just have not reached a point where their ventures are able to sustain them.

If you are actually doing something towards your business, have taken some amount of risk, and are hoping and working towards a return on that risk, then you are an entrepreneur.

Even if the only capital risked is the time you put into creating it.

So, to answer the question, are you a wantrepreneur or an entrepreneur, the answer is three questions. Because all the best answers to questions are more questions.

Have you started a business venture?
Have you taken risk for an undetermined outcome or result? This means you are not creating gadgets or raising calves. Those are easily determined businesses (manufacturing and agriculture). Now, creating new gadgets for raising calves faster is an entrepreneurial venture, because of the added risk of creating something new.

Have you a hope of profit? If your entrepreneurial ventures keep bringing low to no profits, consider yourself a wantrepreneur. And keep trying. If your entrepreneurial ventures are bringing more than you can earn in an American entry level job, then congratulations! By my arbitrary, etymological, historical, and contentious definition, you are an entrepreneur!

Thanks for reading.

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These Uses for Redirects Can Save You Time and Money

Redirects

3 Uses for 301 Redirects

I know, I couldn’t resist the numerical alliteration: 3 uses for 301 Redirects. Before we get into the uses, this post will cover some of the technical aspects you may or may not know about 301 redirects, 404 error messages, and why they matter on your website.

Technical Aspects of 301 Redirects

301 Redirects is a technical term for telling web browsers to go to a different page than the one you entered into a browser. The purpose of a redirect is to keep people from being frustrated by the error message you see so often in internet surfing: “Oops! The page you are looking for cannot be found!” This error message is technically called a 404 error message when a server receives a request for a page that it does not have. 301 Redirects Avoid a 404 Error

This is an error you do not want your users to see on your page.

“Generally, 404s don’t harm your site’s performance in search, but you can use them to help improve the user experience.”  – Google Webmaster Tools

Rather than sending the user this error message, a 301 message tells the browser to go from the intended address to another one of your choosing. Even though Google says, generally, it does not hurt search ranking, you do not want people to click on a search result and land on a 404 error message. This is the number one reason people use redirects: to prevent the website user from bouncing because they got an error message.

I have discovered several uses for redirects that do more than just prevent 404 error messages. Read on for more info.

Redirect Hacks

Redirect to A Social Page

One use of a redirect I have discovered, and use, is to send people from an easy web address to a hard to remember URL for a social platform. For example, I use www.mybloggingcommunity.com to send traffic to my free Facebook group. With a social platform, your address always comes after the name of the platform, so even if it only a word address (many profiles use long strings of numbers), it is better to have 3-4 words that identify your business and redirect that to your social platform.

Redirect from A Page You Haven’t Built

When I was writing the review for Hobo’s Grill in Fort Mill, SC, I thought I would probably want to build a landing page focusing on restaurants and breweries, but I did not have time to do it at that moment.

With a 301 redirect, I was able to insert my preferred link to the text of the article and set up a redirect to my homepage so that readers who click on it will still see something of value and when I build my local restaurants landing page, it will already have links to it.

Manage Inventory

I noticed this with an online store that I was helping manage: if you no longer hold a certain inventory item, people will land on broken pages when they look for it. If you are selling a product on your site, this is the last possible thing you want your users to see!

If you are going to discontinue an item in your inventory management, make sure you set up a 301 to send the users on to the replacement item. If you do not have a replacement item, then send users to a landing page explaining that you no longer hold that type of item, but recommend they look at a list of other sites. This way, you are providing your user with valuable service, rather than leaving them high and dry on your desolate 404 page.

These are some of the uses I have discovered for a 301 Redirect. What are some uses you have discovered?

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.

 

Don’t Make This SEO Mistake!

I Broke My Website with This Simple SEO Mistake

As I was researching my website content and its ranking on Google today, I came across one seo mistake of the many I have made and am learning from in managing my own websites. 

If you’ve ever heard of the barber who never had a good haircut because the other barber had to cut it,  that’s me. I am that proverbial barber, not because I have the other barber cut my hair, but because I am a creative person who always experiments on my own product first.

If I break my own website, I am the one who suffers, not my client. At least that’s how my thinking goes, some of the time.

So, after perusing one of the plethora of articles on what to do, or not do, to improve SEO, I removed the dates from all my posts in WordPress. It might  also have been during a theme update. I don’t remember, but the end result was I changed the format of how every post on my site looks. Without thinking too much about it, I moved on to other content projects for other clients.

Fast forward to today, when I was researching my target market and realized that I had 59 404 errors listed in my Google webmaster tools. 59 broken links that were not getting search engines, or more importantly, human eyes, onto my content. Google 404 Errors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t think that 404 errors matter, just think about how many times you go to a website, get a “the page you are looking for is not here” and immediately x-out of that tab, never to return to the blog again?

I know I do it.

Simple SEO Principles

I wanted to take this time to point out to you the fact that you need to think about the consequences of your actions. The simple SEO mistake I made was to substantially change all the links on my site without setting up a redirect. Here is a blog on how to do that, if you didn’t know.

If you are going to change how your site is laid out, realize that it will break things like internal links, external links, and more, and you will need to plan on having Google crawl your site and giving you a list of pages to fix.

But the simple SEO mistake you should not do is to think that the search engines don’t matter. They do matter, they just don’t matter more than the people you want to read your website. But, if your website has poor SEO or other technical issues, at the end of the day, it is your users who suffer.

Think through the people who will be on your site and realize that good SEO practices make for a good experience for them, and also remember that your experiments on your website don’t just make you suffer, they make it difficult for anyone else to engage your website as well.

Building Businesses Through Writing Content

If you have not seen Paul Davis Solutions active recently, the reason is simple: I have been writing content on multiple platforms for different customers. For example, FrameMaker Arts is a new site that Paul Davis Solutions manages content and website technology for:

Building FrameMaker Arts through content writing

Some other projects include helping with marketing planning for Greater St. Louis Parks, the creation of a website to help veterans get home loans (USA Veteran Loans), continuing to write content for Aletheia Christian College, and building a website for Pastor Randy Davis. These projects are incredible opportunities to continue growing my business as a marketing firm, and expanding my capabilities as a content marketer.

Places to Follow My Content Writing

While you can watch these different projects on their own basis, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in any of them, you can follow the lessons learned from building these and other projects here at The Writer’s Cue, at My Blogging Community, my free Facebook community, or by following Paul Davis Solutions on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks, and Have a Happy Independence Day if you happen to be an American.

 

 

List Building Challenge

Do you use WordPress? Whether for a business site, a personal blog, or a business blog, WordPress is a powerful system for building leads and managing a site. Do you use another CMS? If you do, the list building challenge I am talking about can be helpful, but much of the software in it is geared towards WordPress.

Do you want to grow your mailing list? Many people do not understand the power of a mailing lit for driving leads and traffic. It is huge to be able to build relationships with your target market. I joined a membership group that I had been following for 3 years two months ago because of their great email marketing.

If you answer yes to either of those questions, I want to invite you to a list building challenge. Starting June 1, I am participating in a live challenge called the 30 Day List – Building Challenge and I wanted to extend you an invitation to join me in this challenge.

Some things I love about the list-building challenge include the software tutorials (ever wonder how to do Google Analytics on your site?), the actual software (Popup Ally is a free popup and embedded lead capture plugin for WordPress that you will be introduced to), and the fellowship in the free Facebook group (prizes will be included for taking part, including a free one year license to PopupAlly Pro).

Yes, these are affiliate links, but I have been a user of PopupAlly and a follower of Nathalie Lussier, the co-creator of Popup Ally for several years and use their software on this site and for several of my customers already. Any affiliate link I recommend is to a product that I am willing to buy for myself.

So, if you want a free list-building challenge where you learn how to launch or grow your email list, sign up for the 30 day list building challenge here.

And if you do sign up for your list-building challenge, join me in www.mybloggingcommunity.com, my private Facebook group for bloggers and let me know that you signed up!

Open For Guest Posters 

Guest blog for The Writers Cue
You! Guest write for Paul Davis Solutions!

Do you have a marketing or art story to share? Do you think your business experience would make a great story for The Art of Marketing?

If so,  we are interested in guest proposals for the following types of content:

  • Vlogs – embed your story, tips, or tutorial in a post.
  • Blogs – write a blog with custom CTAs and three links to your site.
  • Podcasts – podcast will need to be in an embeddable player.

The Writer’s Cue is looking for proposals for content rich guest posting.

If you want to write with us,  please contact Paul to find out if your content will fit in The Writer’s Cue’s content schedule.

How Automation Tricks Save Me 100s of Hours a Month

Note: The first part of this post about my social marketing tip is mostly tongue in cheek. If you want to get to the meat of the automation tricks, head down to the bottom of the post. If you don’t mind reading a little bloomin humor (sorry, couldn’t help it), read on.

I often read about how the machines are going to replace everyone in the workforce and how bad this is for us. I think that we are overreacting.

One Neat Automation Trick

Yes, artificial intelligence seems like we are creating our nemesis from the show Terminator, but the fact of the matter is, we have no idea how to create an intelligence like ours. So, what are these fancy AI creations actually functioning as?

The End of Many Jobs Saves Me Time

Well, modern AI is just a better version of the machines we have been using for years to save time. AI systems are labor saving devices a lot like the ones we all use every day (and replace human labor in the process).

  • Dishwasher – This is one of my favorite industrial automation tools. Really. I went without one for so long, when we got a dishwasher in our new home, I calculated the time savings to me at about 1.75 hrs per day, every day of the month. So just this item alone saves me 37 hours a month.
  • Laundry Machine – Have you ever done laundry by hand? I spent 5 weeks in Mombasa, Kenya in 2004 at a YWAM base. We did all our laundry by hand. Time it took per machine sized load? 30 min, conservative estimate and that is just the washing part. At a conservative 4 loads per week for my family of four, using a washing machine saves my wife and I 60 hours of work each month.
  • Automobile – OK, I understand that people did not travel as far as before cars became the auto-motion of choice, so I will not include my commute to work. But, I will include my commute to the grocery store nearby because it is within walking distance (30 min), but I choose to drive it (5 min). So, since we go to two different stores about twice a week, that is a time savings of 400 min. or 6 hours and 40 minutes a month travel time. IF I did include my travel to work (10 Miles round trip) or my wife’s bimonthly trips to school (20 miles round trip), the time saved goes up significantly.
  • Search Algorithms – Now, I know you’re probably not one of the weird nerds who flipped open the encyclopedia at the dinner table to argue about whether Gengis Khan actually became a Christian in his old age, but my family was. I still remember that dinner table conversation because my mom was absolutely adamant that he had not, but our World Book Encyclopedia disagreed with her. So my brother won that conversation. Anyways, the time it takes to find something out nowadays has drastically decreased: you can say it to the AI on a modern phone and get an answer back from whatever page is on the top of Google in a matter of a few seconds. Or, if you’re particularly old-school, you can still type it in. Since I am a writer, automated search functions save me probably 10 hours of work a week researching my blogs.
  • Automatic Lights – Lights aren’t automatic, you say. You still have to flip the switch. Yes, but have you ever tried filling a lantern? Have you lived by the light of candles? Both of these are amazingly inefficient systems, especially if you are making the oil and the candles yourself. That was the pioneer way. The last time I made candles was in school, but it took about 20 minutes to create 6 by hand-dipping. You need at least 4 to read, so in order to make certain we have 4 hours of light a night, and assuming a burn rate of 1 every 2 hours, you need 8 per day or 240 candles total. Time to make them? 120 minutes or 2 hours (and that is if you have the ingredients warmed on an electric warmer, and does not include clean-up time).

So, I have counted up over 100 hours of time saved from these modern devices. See? Automation has already killed the hand-washer, the candlestick maker, the cart driver, the launder (well, no, it didn’t do that, but they definitely changed). And we are worried about the next innovations?

OK. Now that I’m done my silliness, here is the actual time-saving device I learned this week:

IFTTT – The One Neat Automation Trick I Learned Last Week

Pronounced ift (like gift, but without the g), IFTTT, IF This Then That, is an automated tool that allows you to create automatic responses to events in apps you control.

For example, I use IFTT to automate my social media marketing. I set events in my Google calendar titled “GroupPost.” I put a link to a Canva photo in the where file and what I want to say in my group in the Description box (I linked to a new Google Calendar I created specifically for Facebook Management). Then I set the post to repeat every week, or on the same date each month, or every other week.

In IFTTT, I create an applet (that’s what they call ’em) to send that post to my Facebook posting system (for my group I have to use Buffer). This allows me to create automatic posting of an activity on Facebook and set it up to repeat when I want it to.

For more reading on IFTTT, check out this Reddit thread or this article on 40 IFTTT Recipes at Buffer.

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