Monthly Archives: December 2010

It’s Gettin Hot In Here

Last night…
Dec 24th around 7:30 pm:

I was having a pre-christmas dinner with my family.  Out of the corner of my eye I spy (that rhymes) an EXTREMELY bright flash along with the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life.  It rattled the house and kept rumbling for a long time.

Immediately I knew that lightning had struck somewhere right next to us.  It seemed like our backyard.  We didn’t think too much of it.

Fast forward to roughly 12:45am at night (Early Christmas morning on the 25th):
We look out the window to see an “orange glow” behind one of our palm trees in the backyard.  A little curiosity sent us to the backyard to see that a house right across the street (from our backyard) was fully on FIRE!

I climbed on my fence to get a better view, and I could see some emergency crew just arrived.  I saw an emergency crew guy going to knock on the door of the neighbors house to warn them, but then he started running full speed, and in one completely awesome move he did a flying jump kick which violently burst open the door and ran inside screaming for everyone to evacuate!  It was pretty damn awesome.

At this point the flames were sometimes blowing 4 to 5 stories high in the strong winds.  Fortunately it had rained earlier so no other houses were seriously damaged.

Here’s shortly after they had most of it extinguished:

That giant cherry-picker thing was cool to watch:

Funny enough, the fire was started at 7:30pm by lightning, but ended up finally catching momentum after midnight.  Apparently:

  • 7:30om The lightning struck the house and started a fire in the attic.
  • The owner put out the small fire and thought everything was cool (pun intended).
  • Small embers kept burning, and started gaining strength.
  • By 12:45am (Christmas morning) the house was fully engulfed in flames.

By the time the fire was put out, the house was completely gone.  Yes, the brick face of the wall looks nearly unscathed in the pictures, but a side-view of the house shows it’s pretty much 100% hollowed out.

There’s some sort of moral to this story, but I’m not clever enough to figure it out.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

How I’m losing weight before I stuff my face during the holidays

….and ensure I’ll eat well through it.

Ever since my six pack experiment, no sane person would dare call someone in my physical condition “fat” or “overweight” (this picture was taken today, AFTER a meal):

However, I’ve since stopped being as strict an eater as during the experiment.

The four months I spent tracking my meals (and getting critiqued on every single one by Adam at MyBodyTutor) left a permanent impression on me.

I’m not gonna lie, after eating well for a while, the two things I liked the most are:

  • I looked good (at least to me) in a mirror.
  • I feel a lot better and get stuff done faster.

I particularly like the positive streak of productivity the experiment left me in. It’s easier to wake up, easier to start my daily work, easier to concentrate, easier to work longer…hey, I’ll take it!

So lately I’ve been indulging A LITTLE MUCH in all the holiday parties I’ve been going to (damn I’m popular)….and you know what?
I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT.

Meaning: the temporary act of eating “one extra” cookie or some other relatively useless piece of food is 100% forgotten, but I do live with the consequences of stuffing myself in the next few hours, and certainly the next day:

Waking up feeling sluggish, wishing I didn’t eat something I KNEW I shouldn’t have.  It’s no good.

So to give myself a quick “reminder” to stay on track, I’d like to return to tracking my meals for the next 11 days before I go back to Houston for the holiday season.

I seriously cannot emphasize enough how insanely well this works.
(Adam will back me up on this).

The holidays will represent roughly 10 days of holiday parties, food and a schedule that won’t be conducive to exercise or productivity.

So to keep accountable to myself, I’m going to carry around a little slip of paper and write down everything I eat:

I will do this for several days, and post each day of eating on a piece of cardboard I had laying around:

I will be keeping this “Accountability Board” on the TV Stand (which I doubt will ever contain a TV) in front of my bed:

THE GOAL:
Track my food intake for the remaining 10 days before I go back to Houston for Christmas.

THE METHOD:
1.) Carry around a piece of paper and pen, and write down exactly what I eat, before I eat it.

2.) Stick each daily list to the “Accountability Board” I made.

THE OUTCOME:
I’ll be productive, healthier, and in shape (so I can show off to all my friends…duh).  I’ll be happier that I’m productive and healthy, and therefore enjoy my time more during the holidays.

Inside the Actors Studio

*This is kind of like my Best things about YouTube post.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.
–Zig Ziglar

Since I work at home, during my “lunch break” I can do whatever I want whilst stuffing my face, and that generally involves something passive like watching Hulu or YouTube (I don’t own a TV).

If a new episode of Family Guy or The Office is out, I’ll watch that, but generally I watch something on YouTube which can be considered either educational or inspirational.

Something I’ve LOVED to watch over the years is Inside The Actors Studio.

They bring in a big celebrity and ask them personal questions about their journey to the top.

I don’t watch these interviews to become an actor, but rather for inspiration. Almost everyone on the show is considered “at the top of their game”, and you get a fantastic inside view of what makes them tick and how they got there.

If you watch a few of these you’ll see some clear trends most of the people at the top have had:

  • Work ethic – Being consistently good.
  • Some sort of strife in their life that makes them “prove” themselves to others.
  • To them a loonng time to get to top.  Their success was many years in the making.
  • Constantly making new things (movies, shows, books, projects etc).

The host, James Lipton, does a tremendous amount of research and knows everything about the person before they get on stage…then he just shuts up and lets THEM speak! Because of this, I’ve seen some of the BEST interviews with celebrities on this show.

To find something that inspires you, try going to YouTube.com and typing in:

(Name of some show biz person you admire) + Inside Actors Studio

If that doesn’t give good results, try the same thing on Google.com (some of the good interviews can’t be found on YouTube).

Here’s some interviews of people whom I learned something from:

The Process of Killing an Idea

All through college I started alllllll sorts of random businesses and small websites.  With A LOT of work, some of them could’ve taken off, but they would be uphill battles.

At one point I had (no joke) TEN little businesses running at the same time.

This is on one hand GREAT for the creative side of me, and gave me GREAT practice actually executing ideas REALLY REALLY fast.

On the other hand, it would bog me down into businesses that weren’t solid as I initially thought, and constantly distracted me.

So over the years I’ve learned how to KILL “decent” ideas…you might be able to relate:

——————————————————

So here’s what happens:

1.) I’ll randomly think of some idea or small little problem to solve.

2.) Get all excited about it and how big it can be.

3.) Start executing.

4.) Buy domain name, setup website, write content, make graphics, figure out technical aspects yadda yadda.

5.) Put a lot of work (not necessarily SMART work though) into it, get marginal results.

6.) It sits around.  Makes enough money not to pull the plug, but not enough to focus on it.

7.) Eventually lose interest.

8.) Sell it or pull the plug.

——————————————————

What I SHOULD be doing before even THINKING of anything else is:

  • Analyzing who the target market will be.
  • Is this market big enough? Do these people pay lots of money for services/products?
  • Exactly what field is this in?
  • What product/service will I be offering them?
  • Is there competition, what are they doing wrong/right?
  • Will my product/service be better?  Marketed better?
  • all sorts of other analytical questions that kill the hype in your head.

——————————————————

In the past, I’ve had a really tough time asking myself questions like the above…because it kills the mood!

But sometimes a good mood killer is the right medicine to cure the temporary hype you’ve built up in your head.

At least for people who execute any business idea really fast, I think it’s great to be optimistic about every idea, but it’s also nice to put that idea through a barrage of battering tests before it sees fruition (people who have issues executing should probably do the opposite).

——————————————————

Now I’d like to take you through a real life example of a recent “Brain Hype” I’ve had…and how I killed the idea through rationality.  I’ll show you how I still get so excited about certain ideas that I need to run them by wise friends to kill them.

——————————————————

I’ve been wrestling with the problem lately of my business House of Rave, and how I wanted to grow it to $1,000,000/year doing less work than I do on it now.  While it’s grown moderately, things like the economy have prevented fast growth (oh yea, and my own laziness and lack of marketing knowledge).

So I KNOW this goal is possible, I just wasn’t going about it the right way.

I noticed two things which might help:

  • When I publicly post a concrete goal on this blog and set a consequence if it doesn’t happen, I do it.
  • I work better in front of an audience (AKA I’m a showoff).

Thinking about those two things, I got the idea of publicly showing everything I do to quadruple HoR within one year.  In my head, I coined the project, “The Million Dollar Project.”

In my head I started getting REALLY hyped about this idea!

The wheels were spinning, and my Boogie Board was ablaze with scribbled ideas.

I started thinking about all the media outlets that would cover me, how people would diligently follow along, how they would ANTICIPATE EVERY POST I make, how people would scramble to copy what I was doing, how I would build a huge email list, how advertisers would pay huge money to sponsor my site, how I could sell “premium content” for detailed tours of the business, how people would signup for monthly subscriptions to the site.

I even started doing “fuzzy math” in my head: “Hmmm, if I get 6,000 people paying $20/month for a subscription, I’d make $120,000 a month!

Basically the “Hype Machine” has temporarily taken over!

I then started poking around to see if domain names were available.  I kept saying, “The Million Dollar Project” in my head, so I went with that.  RATS….it was taken! So I shot off a quick few phone calls and emails.  20 minutes later, the owner was willing to unload the domain for $250.

One more phone call and a swipe of the Visa, the domain TheMillionDollarProject.com was transfered to me.  PROGRESS!

I was getting giddy from all the excitement of doing “How HoR Runs” blog posts and live-recording my screen showing the inner workings of House of Rave, and how I’d soon be building The Million Dollar Project AND House of Rave at the exact same time.

THHHEEEENNNN I decided, “If this is such a good idea, let me run it past a few friends.”

My first target was a close friend who runs a big company and whose opinion I definitely respect.  I told him, “I’m going to make something called The Million Dollar Project where I openly talk about getting House Of Rave to a million dollars.

When I got done with my spiel, I remember his momentary pause which made me second-guess my entire idea (when you know someone pretty well, you can tell a lot from those small reactions).  I could tell his excitement wasn’t even close to mine.  He started asking some general questions and the conclusion was, “It’s an OK idea.

But it wasn’t a GREAT idea that got him excited.  And I knew it right then.

The problem with this idea, is that it’s actually decent…but it wasn’t well thought out.

——————————————————

So I call another friend whose opinion I highly respect, and who has a natural risk-adversity….but is still a successful entrepreneur.   He’s often the perfect person to rip the beating heart out of a poorly thought-through idea….but does it very nicely :-)

So I enthusiastically spill my idea, and he comes back with:

Him: “Ok, who is the target market? Who will be your average visitor?  Will these visitors already own a business?  Will they be wanting to learn how to make a business?  Will these be eCommerce professionals? WHY are they coming to this site?”

Me: “Umm…I haven’t thought about that.”

And THERE inlays my problem: I didn’t think about all that stuff!

He then started to help me flesh out those answers.

It turns out I COULD do this project, but it would be better named something like “Quadruple My Business.”  Basically, some name that implies a benefit.

I could then tailor the site to current online business owners who want to increase their business, and then show them how I did it myself with a live example.

I could also tailor the site to people who want to start their first online business, and show them with a live example.

Basically, instead of telling a nice (yet useless) story about House of Rave, I could teach people (useful) marketing techniques to increase their ecommerce businesses.

All of a sudden I had a working idea, but it wasn’t sexy as what I imagined in my head.

Hmmphh….

I somehow only thought of all the benefits The Million Dollar Project would bring me, but left out how it would enrich OTHERS.  D’oh.

The excitement from the idea quickly faded, and I then recognized the amount of work that would go into it.  I don’t mind the work, but it should be moderately exciting to me so I focus on it and stick with it long enough to see it succeed.

——————————————————

And so the legacy of The Million Dollar Project came and went without ever seeing the light of day (except the domain which I needlessly spent $250 on).

But perhaps this is a GOOD thing.

Instead of getting involved with a hardly-thought-out idea, I can spend my time focusing on more profitable things.

Learning how to slay the Hype Machine dragon has allowed me to focus on actual profitable projects rather than every hare-brained scheme that pops into my head.

Brookstone Boogie Board Awesomeness

While pretending to buy something at Brookstone from the mall (I really just wanted to sit in those sweet massage chairs)!

….I saw they carried this little thing called the Boogie Board.  It’s essentially an LCD writing tablet.  But it’s not a computer screen…in fact it uses zero power except when erasing the slate.

It does nothing but let you write on it, then erase. I played with it from one second and immediately knew I would be buying it!

I always carry around one these standard journals for keeping my notes:

…but this little board allows me to graph out temporary thoughts, doodle, or just things I don’t need to keep written down. When I DO happen to write something on it that matters, I snap a picture of it with my phone.  It’s crude, but it works.

No color options, no spot eraser, and you can even use your fingernail to write (or any make-shift stylus like a pen cap).

I often jot on it in the mornings.  Even though I always plan my to-do lists the night before, I tend to jot down a few random thoughts on this when I wake up…just to get the day started.

…but mostly I use it to doodle! I learned how to draw these weird house-looking-things from Commander Mark when I was in elementary school:

The erasing feature is really neat….and I can see this concept being developed into many other neato products.  All you do is push a button, and the LCD screen “wipes” like this:

I bought the Brookstone Boogie Board a little before the Christmas rush for $19.99…but now everywhere I look they’re $39.99.  Guess they got popular QUICK!

I was on the BBC

I randomly got interviewed on the BBC today on the program World, Have Your Say:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2010/12/on_air_extreme_world_-_rich_an.html

It was for a series about extremely poor countries and extremely rich countries.  Which is AWESOME because of my harsh views on “homeless people” in the United States.

At 10:00am in the morning, a call woke me up, and it was from a BBC producer who had saw my blog and homeless experiment, and thought I’d have a unique opinion on this subject.  Our conversation was along the lines of:

  • Does money make people happier?
  • Are people born in some countries luckier than others?
  • How does money impact lives?
  • etc etc….

So I agreed to be interviewed over Skype within the next few hours.  I really had no idea what they would ask, or what format this was in, but it sounded fun.

FAST FORWARD AND CUT TO THE PROGRAM…..

I’m sitting at my computer, on Skype, wearing headphones to hear, and a studio condenser microphone to speak (the technician for the BBC was amazed at how much clearer I was coming in than the other guests, thanks for the gift Ashdin!)….

…and I can hear the program being broadcast live.  After a minute or two, I learned the whole program was literally being broadcast from Sierra Leone (An African country which is considered one of the poorest countries in the world)!

The BBC crew was holding up torches because there was no electricity, while the people being interviewed were cooking on a fire for the nights meal.

They wanted the people in Sierra Leone to speak to people in “rich” countries.  So it was a man from Australia, a woman from Norway, and a bratty little kid from America (me) who were going to speak to them.

So the interviewer introduces me, but didn’t ask me a question, so there is an awkward silence for a while.  Then he says, “What would you like to say?”

In my head I’m thinking, “Uhhhhh…..I didn’t want to say ANYTHING, you people brought me here to ask me questions!” But instead I kind of went with the theme of the show and started saying that I had more opportunity by growing up in America than most people in the world yadda yadda.

When I was done, I had pissed off at least ONE guy in Sierra Leone!!

I said something I knew might rub someone the wrong way, and that was that “I am luckier than they are.”

The one ultra-religious die-hard-Sierra-Leone-Guy being interviewed said exasperatedly, “NO, I am luckier than HIM!” He kind of reminded me of how the news tends to interview only the wackiest of people just to make it more interesting.

But at least he was the only nutjob in the group.  After going on my rant of how crazy-lucky I was to grow up in America in a good family etc….The other people being interviewed said in response to me:

“I feel UNLUCKY to be in Sierra Leone.”

“I do NOT consider myself lucky to be born here (Sierra Leone).”

“If I could, I would leave and go to America.”

IN YO FACE Nut Job Sierra Leone Guy!

RESOURCES:

The article about this:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2010/12/on_air_extreme_world_-_rich_an.html

Listen to the entire program:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00c344s
(My segment starts at 43:30 and ends aat 46:50)

Download the mp3 of just my segment:
http://www.nevblog.com/audio/bbc-interview-neville.mp3

Listen to my segment:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


(I come in slightly after 1 minute)

The Handstand Goal

One of my November 2010 Goals was to:

Every morning when I wake up I should do four laps back and forth in my apartment walking on my hands.

I should also then do 2 minutes of still handstands.

Why handstands?  I have no idea.  I’ve just been practicing them lately and knew some consistent work on them would improve my capabilities rapidly.

So I did these two exercises every day with the exception of 2 or 3 days when I was sick.  However after only a week of doing this, I was easily able to steadily hold a handstand for over a full minute!

Here’s some quick video proof:

My favorite trick is walking on my hands and then “sitting” down in a chair….does this have ANY hope of a practical use in the future?  NOT A CHANCE! But it’s kind of fun :-)

December 2010 Goals

November 2010 goals have been knocked out of the way.  Time to move on!

In that month I did happen to turn 28 years old, so I will be changing the tagline of this site to “28″ instead of “27″.

So here are the new updated December 2010 Goals that will sit on my desk this month:

I could only think of three things this month I really wanted to focus on:

  1. Reduce customer service needs for House OF Rave.
    I already have many quick implementations to do this.  I will be keeping a list of every action I have to take for customers, and group them into categories.  It should be pretty clear in about one week what people are contacting me about the most.  Then take simple steps to avoid that problem from happening, or automate the process to handle the problem.  Currently I spend about 30 minutes to an hour each day handling these issues (although keep in mind this is a busier season than most).
  2. Use this blog like Twitter.
    I like the idea of Twitter, but I lose the ability to look at my archives to get a glimpse of what I was doing if I post all my updates there.  I’m posting those updates not necessarily for the world to see, but for ME!  So I want them on my own blog.  So I’m working out some bugs in the iPhone WordPress app that for some reason won’t let me post pictures to NevBlog from my phone.  Hopefully this will also encourage me to write more.
  3. CWPC content every week.
    You won’t figure out what it stands for, so don’t try Googling it.

As for the NEGATIVE ramification for not finishing goals this month, the stipulation is I give two bums in Austin 24 packs of beer as Christmas presents. It kind of reminds me of my Homeless Drinking Experiment and Results….except I don’t want to encourage it.

Well, here’s to a productive Holiday season 2010!  ::clink::