Monthly Archives: March 2011

My SXSW 2011 Recap

If you don’t know what SXSW (South By South West) is…you’re probably not a nerd, film or music person.

It’s also the reason I didn’t release the HouseOfRave Behind The Scenes product earlier…since I got only 1 day of work done in two weeks.

Onwards…

It’s a gigantic festival/conference here in Austin with an economic impact of over $120 million per year….so it’s pretty damn big.

There is one part of the festival called the “Interactive” portion.  It essentially means “anything technology related.”

Every year I go to SXSW activities for all the free stuff, but have never bought the badge.  This year I bought a $700 badge that’s good for just the Interactive portion

I had such a blast!!  …but I also have a bad memory….so in order to remember this experience I’ll document parts of it here:

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First of all I had to go pickup my badge for the event.  You can always spot a fellow SXSW’er by the large badge around their neck.  This badge cost me $675 at the time I bought it:

Since this is the Interactive event, it’s all internet dorks like me…so all the people you follow on Twitter or read their blogs…are most likely at SXSW also.

To illustrate this point, Adam who has a blog called Magical Penny reads my blog.  He actually emailed me a few days in advance saying he’d like to meetup.  Surely enough, as I’m registering to get my badge (along with THOUSANDS of other people), the guy next to me asks, “Are you Neville?” ….turns out it was Adam!

I randomly get the “Hey-are-you-Neville-I-read-your-blog” thing pretty often, but it was funny that it happened RIGHT as I got there (not gonna lie…it felt a little celebrity-ish) :-)

This was on Thursday before SXSW started.

That same Thursday a good friend of mine who owns Smiley Media was throwing a “little” pre-SXSW party which was part of a long list of “SXSW Pub Crawl” parties.  They named the party “The Smiley Media Penthouse Party” which sounded pretty cool compared to the other parties at small bars.  Theirs was being held in their 28,000 sq. ft. office at the very top of the Omni hotel in the heart of downtown.

Originally they called it the “Penthouse Party at Smiley Media” but figured that might draw the wrong crowd (aka strippers and douchebags) because of the Penthouse Magazine association.

Somehow this little party went viral from a small Facebook invite they sent out to employees.  Soon there were 1,200 RSVP’s and 1,500 people that showed up!

Here’s some of us playing one of those dancing games on the WII at the office:

My friend Michael Cummings took this photo when I was standing by one of the painting at the office….I am:
1.) Wearing glasses  for the first time in months
2.) Looking like an Indian IT professional

This is one of the Smiley Media conference rooms called “The Nest”.  Their office had this cool time-lapse video made of their build out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQnVakCSJRE

In terms of the sheer number off people who showed up, this was possibly one of the largest SXSW parties behind a few of the REALLY big guys like Microsoft.

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The next day SXSW actually started, including all the sessions.  There were sometime up to 25 talks going on at THE SAME TIME every hour.  It’s sometimes difficult to choose one with that many options.  Fortunately a lot of the small ones suck, so that makes it easier.

One of the cool parts about walking around the SXSW Convention Center is randomly meeting REALLY cool people only tech nerds would know.  For example, I wouldn’t REALLY care if I got to see and meet Angelina Jolie (although I sure as hell would take a picture to prove it!)…but I was very excited to bump into people like Tony Hsieh, the Zappos.com guy:

You are simply walking around with cool people…..and then when the parties start, EVERYONE there is generally cool, interesting and slightly nerdy (all of which I like).

That was one of the BEST parts of SXSW.  Simply turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself….almost every time you’re having a great conversation immediately!

A lot of the sessions were hosted by people who’s blogs I read.  For example, Tynan was speaking about how he travels the world without holding down a job…cool to finally see him in person (even though we’ve always had lots of mutual friends we both know really well).

There was sitting room only in the back (and then they wouldn’t let anymore people in because it was too crowded).

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Another thing that goes on at the convention center is the SXSW booths where people can advertise their stuff.  A lot of big players like Google, Microsoft, Monster etc show up to promote.

There was even that Matthew Lesko guy with the question marks suit on those infomercials I so vividly remember as a kid!  I love this picture!

A lot of companies were simply promoting stuff….for example, the new Chevrolet car “The Volt” was being hardcore promoted through the whole convention center.  They BY FAR had the absolute coolest “booth attraction” of them all.

They had this giant round rig setup with 30 cameras positioned around it.  When they press the button, all the cameras click in unison and take a picture.  Here’s mine….but this is only one frame:

Click the image above to see the full 360-degree “Bullet Time” Matrix-style picture!

The rig looked pretty impressive on it’s own…and you stand inside and take a picture.  They have all sorts of props you can use, and even if you stand still, the end result still looks EPIC because of the Bullet-Time effect:

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Even though there’s parties going on all day, most of the really big parties start happening sometime around or after 6pm.  One of the most elaborately decorated (and I’d say by FAR most expensive) parties was the Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 party.

They rented out the ACL Live venue in the W Hotel which can hold upwards of 3,000 people….they DECKED IT OUT and had all sorts of great bands including Passion Pit playing.  Open bar the whole time, any drink you want, as much as you want….plus all the cool nerds you can talk to!  (actually…pretty much EVERY SXSW party has free open bar…but Microsoft allowed you to get ANYTHING, not just well drinks):

This was the very-surreal setup they had…it was all moving with virtual birds flying around it, it looked INCREDIBLE!  This event was actually at fire-capacity, so they weren’t even letting Microsoft employees in. Fortunately we found a route through the W Hotel to go backstage and pop out the front (with some clever name-dropping peppered in of course) ;-)

That 80 foot column thingy was AWESOME looking….two of us hopped on stage right as the band was finishing to get a picture.  As expected, we got kicked off immediately :-)

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Another noteworthy event was the Nikon and Vimeo party which was held at an abandoned power plant close to downtown.  When we got there, the line had several hundred people in it….so of course we pretended like our asses BELONGED there and barged through the VIP entrance.

…it worked beautifully ;-)

They gave us earplugs (we soon found out why) and walked in.  We could hear the booming bass from far away.  The whole power plant looked awesome from far!

My buddy got a picture at the front:

Mine didn’t turn out quite as well…I look like an obnoxious drunk guy:

Turns I may have been obnoxious for hopping the line…oh yea…and possibly drunk!

P.S. checkout the camera-shirt I was wearing in honor of Nikon!  It LOOKS like camera around my neck :-)

Inside the lighting looked AWESOME and music was THUMPING:

The music was so loud they handed out earplugs to everyone that walked in!  I don’t know why they just didn’t turn the volume down a little instead…

Anyhow, checkout the sound system, and realize the sound is contained within a giant concrete bunker.  THAT’s how loud it was.

Even though I own a rave company, I’ve never been to a rave….THIS might have been the closest thing so far!

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In typical SXSW fashion we’d go to great parties with great people all night, then wake up early in the morning to hit up the convention center and speeches.

There’s always all sorts of promotions, free food, free drinks, free swag being given out left and right over there.  I even saw my friend Phil Dhingra taking 3D Pictures of people.  This one is a stereoscopic 3d image (meaning it’s a 2D image that wiggles to look 3d):

One of the more memorable talks for me was definitely Tim Sykes and Andrew Warners speech about “Building a Tribe”.  I think they BOTH had much better topics to speak about, but the SXSW people only wanted some certain yadda yadda….

Anyhow, I met Tim up earlier in the week, and he wanted to do his whole speech dressed as a Jewish Indian…or as he called it, a “Jindian”

I think he wanted to be “the cheapest combination of people possible” or a Jew + Programmer….some ridiculous thing like that you’d except out of Tim :-)

He brought some fake Hasidic Jew hair curls and hat, and I brought him a full Indian kurtha to wear:

Credit: I stole this particular picture from Chris Dunn’s Facebook

The Jindian outfit did several things:

  1. Immediately offended or pissed off the more conservative people in the crowd.
  2. Looked pretty ridiculous.
  3. Made the talk a hell of a lot more entertaining!

The speech was great, and Tim’s crazy and brutally honest style played well off Andrew’s more conservative and genuine style.  After the speech Andrew said, “Since Tim keeps bragging about how much money he makes, let’s go to the lobby and get drinks on his tab!”

About 15 or 20 people came and all had drinks on Tim and Andrew (this venue was slightly further than the SXSW convention area…so no free bars here).

I’d already met Tim, but never Andrew.

Andrew Warner runs a pretty big (and growing fast) website called Mixergy.com.  I personally watch all the business interviews he does with successful people….quite often actually.  They’re GREAT inspiration and he’s a kick ass interviewer.

I completely forgot to get a picture with him, so I’ll just post a picture of my friend with him:

actually….screw that!  I want a picture with him, so here’s me and Andrew Warner (well, at least my Facebook profile picture) ;-)

And finally here’s Andrew and Tim with one of their adoring fans lovingly staring at them (both of them actually have really sizable followings):

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I forgot to mention that for about 6 full days I didn’t pay for ANYTHING.

There are so many people during SXSW Interactive that want to give you FREE music, FREE drinks, FREE parties, FREE shirts, FREE swag, FREE this, FREE that, FREE samples…it’s insane!  …and I took full advantage of it.

I’d eat breakfast at the convention center because some booths had free food.  I’d have free lunch because sponsors were giving away BBQ and other stuff left and right.  Alcohol?  There’s PLENTY of parties (about 30 each night) that will gladly load you up for free.

Speaking of free…I saw a very clever form of advertising that someone thought of.  Remember that Car2Go Austin service I spoke about a little while ago?  You can just pick up any car and…well…GO!  The maximum they can charge you per day is $65, you can park in any parking spot even if it’s metered.

So some clever person decided to rent a bunch of them, park them in highly-trafficked-by-SXSW’ers areas and slap advertising all over them.  BRILLIANT!

The company was HeyWire…I think it’s an app or something, no idea, but it was a GREAT idea.  Unfortunately I have only one picture of the car, and it’s being blocked by two jackasses John and Tarun pretending to arrest each other or something:

You can see the big sticker over the door and the QR code sticker.  I’ll let them slide because those two also happen to own the largest iPhone app development company in the nation.

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So now there’s a very big SHIFT that happens.  Towards the end of SXSW Interactive, the MUSIC part starts.  In fact, my friend told me this:

“There’s an iconic scene every March 15th when hoards of sleep-deprived and physically exhausted nerds start leaving the Hilton (closest hotel to the convention center) and a bunch of pimped-out cool-looking people with mohawks, chains and shiny shirts start coming in…READY to party.”

It’s a perfect demonstration of what’s happening!

SXSW is still going on, but all the cool nerds I love hanging out with start leaving, and all these grungy/cooler-than-me musician types start showing up from every country on the planet.

The music part gets Austin into an even crazier state.  Almost all roads anywhere near the center of Downtown get closed, full of traffic and tens of thousands of people who are NOT at SXSW start showing up to enjoy all the free music.

It’s great for the city, and quite a sight to see….although the crowds would suck if you were driving, thankfully I have a scooter and bicycle (and I live 3 blocks away) :-)

6th Street (Austin’s main party area) turns very grungy and hipster-ish…and it’s pretty significant.  The people watching during SXSW Music is incredible!  You see all types of freaks everywhere!  It’s great!

Anyhow, if you can’t beat em, join em….so we started going to a lot of SXSW Music stuff (after a day of recovery from Interactive).  Exactly 30 steps from my door is the French Ligation Museum Grounds which had a constant massive party with free music, so outside my window (where I’m typing this right now) was a constant stream of people walking by.

Then the famous “Fader Fort” started, which is this giant tent city that gets built in a field only 3 blocks from my apartment.  We walked or scootered there nearly everyday.  They have free music, free drinks, free snacks, free arcade games and all sorts of fun little things.

One of my FAVORITE things there was the Guitar Center Booth:

I noticed inside it said, “Guitar Tune Ups” and two guys fixing guitars.  Presuming everything is FREE at SXSW, I inquired who they were fixing guitars for.  Their reply:

“Anyone!”

I thought this was so cool!  You bring in any of your guitars and they’ll re-string, fix-up, polish and tune-up the thing for FREE!

They had a little “lounge” area you can just pickup guitars and jam:

I live just a few blocks away, so I scootered back home, strapped on my bass guitar (which is an old and no-name-brand cheapo guitar) and had them fix it up:

The threw away all my old strings, polished the HELL out of the neck and tune-up the electronics.  He even replaced one of my janky-ass tuning pegs!

They really went to town…and I thought it was such a cool service.  Great job @GuitarCenter !

Funny side story:
As I was waiting for my bass to be finished up, I was playing some bass guitar on a REAL bass amp they had laying down.  It was the first time I’d played bass on such a powerful amp…it felt like a different instrument compared to my baby-amp I use at home.

Another guy next to me strapped on a guitar and started improvising something in an E7 scale (which I happen to know), so I started backing him up.  Then someone else kicked in on the guitar, and before you know it we were playing in our own little “band”.  Then people standing outside started gathering around like we were playing a set!

So technically so far I’ve had two live performances ;-)

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Speaking of live performances….

My brother was over during SXSW and me and him were practicing for our upcoming performance together at a friends wedding.  After some drinks and other friends coming over, we decided to have our very own SXSW Music performance and form a little “band” on our balcony.

I remember it being pretty crowded on our balcony with all the instruments, amps and people, so my roommate was hanging out like a cat on the railing:

Then we got the idea to take this awesome color changing light bar from HouseOfRave that I bought and put it outside…to all the people walking by it looked like a real concert (except on a balcony) :-)

That was actually a BLAST!

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Then the very next day when I woke up, I thought my roommate was playing music in the morning.  No big deal since I could barely hear it, but then I walked in the living room and noticed out my desk window THIS:

Even though there’s the French Ligation 30 steps away, there was an even CLOSER band playing 5 steps out my window!

Apparently it was a band where all the members live in our apartment complex, so some of hopped outside and started watching them….with drinks in hand of course..it’s not like I had to drive home :-)

It was a great start to the morning hanging out in the road with all our fellow apartment people watching a good band on a beautiful day over an AWESOME backdrop!  Plus people brought their dogs out to play also:

Hahaha, that’s one photogenic Pomeranian!

During the band changes (there were FOUR bands playing outside my door) we would hop on the instruments and play until the bands kicked us off. Here’s a cool shot of my brother playing the drums (yes, his hair is “slightly” longer than mine):

This unexpected band was the PERFECT way to end the absolutely craziness known as SXSW.

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So people who aren’t familiar with SXSW have asked me if I’ll buy an Interactive badge again next year.  The answer is:

HELL…..YES!

An exclusive Behind-The-Scenes personal tour of House Of Rave

Well well well it’s about damn time.  I finally finished this “How HouseOfRave Works” product I’ve been talking about (actually I finished it two weeks ago but didn’t launch it till now due to the absolute-insanity known as SXSW).

Anyhow, I’ve finally completed this product, and I must say I’m pretty damn proud of it.

These 6 little posts I made about House of Rave back in 2007 have inspired SO many people.  It wasn’t the most commented on series of posts ever, but it had the absolute greatest effect on people of any posts.  It did several things:

  1. Inspired people who though building a business was “too hard”.
  2. Gave people a starting point to go from.
  3. Showed them that getting a little side project going (while still working or in school) is actually easier than they think.
  4. Made several people quit their jobs because the side business they started because of those posts was doing so well.

In fact over the years I’ve had people say their “highly successful” businesses were spawned from those simple posts!

Makes me feel all warm inside :-)

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Now if you look at those posts you will notice most of them are actually VERY SHORT.  Most of them are a page or less in text, and the rest is images.  With that said, those posts left a lot of questions unanswered.

Over the years this has given me great pleasure and great pain.

Great Pleasure = Because people email and call me all the time about their interest in what I did, and fervently want to try something similar.  A lot of people actually succeed big time from this their initial attempt, or try something else soon after because of it that succeeds. This is very flattering and I literally feel I have some impact on the world!

Great Pain = Because people keep asking me questions and I have to take lots of time to answer them.  Then they ask MORE questions!  Then….I have to do the same thing over and over again when another person asks.  Also people have blatantly copied HouseOfRave many times which irks me (more on that in a sec).

Needless to say I only have so much time, and lately when people have been asking questions I’ve already answered 101 times, I haven’t been giving them the BEST information possible.  It will take me several hours in front of a computer to show them everything they want to know….but that possibility doesn’t exist with everyone because:

  1. I’m not going to spend 2 hours explaining everything and answering questions for EVERYONE who’s interested
  2. What if the person will never in their life meet me (different countries etc)?

So in order to SCALE THIS OUT I decided to one day make a whole video series on this…complete with a behind the scenes look at what I do for HouseOfRave.

I did make this video course, and initially it started out as a one-page series with 7 videos.  I thought it was fantastic!

I wanted to…..actually hold on….I’ll just quote the actual page on what I wanted to do:

…I’m talking about when I sit down with friends or family in front of the computer and show them how money comes in, how I bill the customers, where the orders are sent, and how each order screams “DING DING I JUST MADE MONEY!!”

This is exactly what I wanted to show people.  I remember TWO SPECIFIC CASES where I showed my brother and cousin (on separate occasions) how it works.  We both pulled up chairs to the computer and I started explaining exactly what happens from the time someone places an order, to the time I’m done with that person and I have money in the bank to buy Kit Kat bars with.

They could even ask me specific questions, and generally they were the same questions my blog readers would ask!

To both of them, THIS WAS FASCINATING!

I remember thinking, “Man, they got the best damn explanation of HouseOfRave ever….but only because they were family.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the time to show them so much (including real orders and dollar numbers).”

I’d love to show everyone such a close-up view like my family members got, but that’s been impossible.

UNTIL NOW!

I’ve become good enough at video capture and video editing to show a closeup, personal tour behind the scenes at HouseOfRave.  Therefore I embarked on making this product.

I made most of the product, then a while ago put up this post which asked for additional questions people may have:

IT WAS GOOD AND BAD.

GOOD because I got TONS of great feedback on the post and over email (plus a surprisingly large amount of interested people who wanted to buy it RIGHT then).

BAD because I realized I had created A LOT more work for myself!

So with the persistence of a military trooper (except…umm…just sitting at a computer :-)  I embarked on making the rest of the videos.

The total number by the end was 14 videos.

Quantity-wise that honestly doesn’t sound like much….but QUALITY wise the videos are immensely helpful, and contain all sorts of wisdom I’ve learned by mistake.  Not only that, but some of the videos show you EXACTLY HOW you can start selling stuff yourself online (either one tiny product or a whole store-full).

For sure all these videos (mixed with some text) go through everything I did to start HouseOfRave from the beginning….including:

  • How it started from the VERY beginning
  • How I came up with the idea (and how you can come up with an idea)
  • Finding a drop-shipper (and it’s not by Googling “Dropshipper)
  • How to convince a company to drop ship for you

Then they move on to how HouseOfRave actually WORKS.  I’m talking all the nitty-gritty stuff that people asks me questions about ALL THE TIME.  They think it’s so difficult they can never do it themselves, but after watching this I bet it’ll change some minds.  This part includes:

  • How customers place orders and where they come from
  • Sending 5 REAL orders to the supplier in real time (no fake test-orders here)
  • How the orders are tracked
  • How customer service is handled (aka what happens when someone starts complaining)
  • The numbers explained: I’ve failed several math classes, but can EASILY make sense of my analytics to make more money, I show exactly how.
  • Why doesn’t the supplier just sell this stuff himself?  I explain exactly why…and why it doesn’t always matter.
  • How you distinguish yourself from everyone else (aka “build a moat” or be unique)

This part alone I truly believe is worth the price of the entire course.  But with all the additional questions, I made yet another section that shows:

  • How you can build something similar
  • Four dead-simple ways to sell something online in the next 5 minutes (I use the example of a friend who spent all this money trying to sell these bracelets she makes online….when in reality she could’ve done it for FREE and in 5 minutes).
  • Why so many of those We’ll-Do-It-For-You drop shipping services suck, and why I strooongly advise against wasting your money on them.

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SO finally I got this course done, and here’s a major reason I initially wanted to scrap it:

STUPID COMPETITION.

I’ve openly and lovingly handed out information about HouseOfRave over the years, and most people respect and really like that.  Adam McFarland told me:

Your “How HouseOfRave Works” posts were by far the most revealing inside look at a business I’ve ever seen online.

That makes me feel GREAT!  And lots of people have taken the CONCEPTS learned there and ran with them to make successful businesses of their own.  That’s even better!

However there’s always some joker out there who thinks, “Let me copy HouseOfRave exactly and I’ll make money without being creative.” Some of those people damn near ruined blogging for me.  I love giving out great information….but it was coming at a steep cost.

While my business was better than theirs, it still bugged the hell out of me to see so many copies of HouseOfRave spring up…all from former readers of my blog.  Not cool.

This my friends…is why this course will absolutely NOT be free (also because it took a crapload of work to complete).

This course is also not free because I KNOW it will inspire and help everyone who buys it.  It will also fully educate them on how my business works, satisfying either a curiosity or genuine thirst for knowledge.   It will also provide people who otherwise don’t have any business-owner friends a behind-the-scenes look at my business.

…and come to think of it, that’s how I got started in business!  I asked family friends in my community who ran businesses, “Ummm…can I ummm….see what you do?”

When they gladly showed me how their business ran, it opened up a whole new world to me! Suddenly what seemed so unbelievably complicated (and therefore unattainable to me) turned out to be easier than I expected….and made me think, “Wow, I can do something big like that too!”

This will give me great pleasure knowing that more people might become entrepreneurs and build a better life for themselves…because of some “silly little videos” I made.

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With all that said, when it came down to pricing this product I was a bit confused.  On one hand I want it to be free, but for many reasons discussed above, it’s not going to be.

On another hand, I want it to be very expensive to deter most people (and petty copycats) from seeing it.

Since this is one of my first times releasing a product like this, I naturally asked my friends who make extraordinarily large incomes online doing the same thing to help me with the pricing.  I gave them access to view the products, and their conclusions were (and I quote):

“This is good shit!!”

How’s THAT for a testimonial!

As experience internet marketer people they told me the price point for this product be over $100 for sure (two guys both told me at LEAST $129 with some upsells added at the end).

However I’m kind of defying them as I first launch this because I want this to be available to everyone. The people I think it will benefit the most often don’t have $129 to burn right away.  However I DO AGREE that this should be priced at $129 for the course, and I will very likely raise the price to that soon.

With that said, I’m going to meet them about halfway and sell the course for $37.00 even.

If it starts selling really well, I will immediately jack up the price.

Right now I don’t even have a sales page for this or fancy “Buy Now” buttons or customer testimonials (because I JUST STARTED SELLING THIS NOW!)….so I’m willing to kick this off for a lower price….just for this one time.

If you’re interested in investing the price of two large pizzas to see behind the scenes at a successful “Lifestyle business” such as mine, I’d encourage you to buy this right now.

I usually spend more than $37 at dinner…so this is a great deal.

P.S. Once you click “Buy Now” and pay with PayPal, you will instantly be taken to a page that gives you a personal username and password to access the course!

P.P.S. Isn’t this exciting?? My first product launch :-)

Pretending I know how to play the bass

One of my completely-non-financial-related  March 2011 goals was, “Play bass scales for at least 30 minutes per day.”

This isn’t just a goal to get better at the bass guitar…in fact I BARELY EVEN PLAY the bass!

But a funny thing happened recently….

A very close friend is getting married, and wanted me and my brother to play a set of jazz at her wedding! In Indian weddings, close friends of the bride/groom do all sorts of dances…so this is me and my brother’s entertainment contribution.

Unfortunately I suck at the guitar.  I mean…I can play several songs really well, but I don’t know much music theory, which means I simply memorize songs but can’t improvise.

This left me roughly 3 months to become an expert bass and guitar player (fortunately my brother is really good so he can just cover me the whole time).  So the learning began….

I kid you not….to learn more about the guitar, I started downloading iPhone apps!

Here’s one of my favorite apps (Jam Tracks) that lets you select a key and it plays a “backing track” which you can play along with:

Then it shows you simple scales that go along with that key….so as long as you play those scales, the backing tracking and your playing will sound good together.

This gets you playing your scales in a MUCH MORE FUN way than simply repeating it without music.

So hopefully in the next month I’ll be able to get good enough (and have enough stamina) to play a 30 or 45 minute jazz set!

Just for fun I tried playing a song all by myself with some of these newly learned scales. Check it out!

The bass line is simply the first four notes of a scale, and the guitar track is me simply improvising on a guitar scale.  Put them together…BAM!  It looks like I know what I’m doing (sort of)  ;-)

Now of course I need to practice, but the thing about this performance is it’s in front of a lot of people.

If you want to get good at public speaking…you should probably give a lot of speeches in front of an audience for practice.

Hence….if I’m playing in front of people, I should probably give it a shot a few times before doing it live.  Who knows…maybe I’ll get terrible stage fright and freeze up?

Fortunately I live in Austin, which happens to be the Live Music Captiol of the World…..and it turns out one of our friends hosts an “Open Mic” night on Monday’s.  I took some friends and signed up.

At first the open mic was mainly semi-professional people playing solo with their guitars and singing…but then they opened it up for a random jam session. Random people jumped on different instruments and we just started playing.  I hopped one of the guitars first and the bass later (don’t have video of the bass part).

A friend took some video of me playing….I honestly had no idea what the hell I was doing, but it turned out ok.   Everyone else was playing by ear, and I was sitting on a stool with an iPhone on my lap! Watch the video and you can see me literally reading scales off the phone :-)

….so that was my first real live jam session.   I must say, I actually got a wee-bit nervous before getting on.  However once playing I hardly took notice of the crowd.  It was pretty fun :-)

March 2011 Goals

Well BOOYAH to the February 2011 goals.  The new March 2011 goals are out:

Let’s re-cap:

1.) House Of Rave product selling on NevBlog.
This is the product I’m making that I talked about here.  The videos are all recorded, and now I’m editing, uploading, formatting, setting up etc etc for it’s finalization.  I must say I’m pretty proud of it and think people will really enjoy them and learn a lot!

2.) HoR updates from Mitch advice.  Implement and document.
I really really enjoyed this series from Mitchell Harper of Interspire:
You can see it here.  I think it would be beneficial for ANY business to follow this advice (it’s a great watch).

3.) Taxes finish. <– Least excited about.
This one is just a taaaddd self-explanatory.

4.) At least 30 minutes a day practicing bass scales.
Unlike taxes, this one is actually fun! …and I’m doing it for a reason.  A very very close friend is getting married, and in most Indian weddings people do dances and other things during the wedding (or one of the 75 million events that precede it).  Instead of a dance, me and my brother are going to play a jazz set during the final wedding reception before people go into the main ballroom!

Basically we’ll be playing “wallpaper music” which is just background music.  However there’s an interesting problem….I kind of suck at the guitar!

Fortunately my brother is excellent, so he can pick up my slack.  With this in mind it makes sense I “back him up” on the guitar or bass….and if we’re playing jazz, a bass guitar would sound great.   So I brought my old bass guitar from high school to Austin and have started practicing “jazz walking” scales.

The bass is much easier than guitar since there’s only 4 strings and you generally just pluck one note at a time….so I’m picking it up quick.

The hardest part is getting my left hand strengthened enough and my right hand (I use to pick with) accustomed enough to playing for a full 30 or 45 minutes.    Therefore I’ll be practicing jamming to random songs using my scales for about 30 minutes per day.

Perhaps I’ll record a few things and post them soon!

Who would you buy 10 percent of?

I’ve watched this fantastic Warren Buffet speech about 10 times, but have never tried this till now. He says:

Think for a moment I granted you the right to buy 10% of one of your classmates for the rest of his lifetime (and you can’t just pick someone with a rich father).  You’ve got to pick someone who’s going to do it on their own merit.

…and I gave you an hour to think about it.

…which one are you gonna pick?

He goes on to say you wouldn’t necessarily pick someone with the highest IQ or the highest grades etc. etc…. (watch the video if you want to hear what he has to say next).

This is a fantastic way to judge who amongst your friends or acquaintances you think will be the most successful.

I also have had a highly-favored saying (I have no idea where I first heard this) that goes:

“You are the sum total of the top 5 people you hang out with.”

So by my math, if you’re trying to become successful (in whatever field), it would make sense to hang out most with the top five people you would pick to own 10% of.

Try it right now in your head or on the sheet I’ve provided below…it’s kind of interesting :-)

To get you started, I’ve filled out your first choice already:

Enjoy :-)
-Nev

What I’ve been doing with this HoR Product

A goal from this February was to “Complete HoR Product” (that’s House Of Rave) for those of you with dirty minds….

I did complete it, and I must say it was more work than I expected.  I asked for questions people had and got some great feedback via comments and emails.

I’ve never built a digital product before, so learning the new technical things was time consuming yet fun.  Fortunately I DO have some experience making videos, so this part was easy…but editing them was a new beast.  Turns out that part is fun also :-)

My goal was to create a digital “course” that people could go through step-by-step that would show three very frequently asked questions I get from friends, family and strangers:

  1. What is HouseOfRave and how did it start?
  2. How does it actually work?  How do you send orders?  How do you make profit? Who sends the products out?  etc etc etc…(lots of questions answered in this segment).
  3. How can I do it too?

Those are the three main BROAD CATEGORIES I’ve identified.  I used those categories to break the product into three parts since each part has MANY sub-questions.

I wanted to give anyone the chance to get a “private tour” from me of House Of Rave…the kind I’d give a curious friend or family member….but that usually takes a long time and involves us both being at a computer for an extended period of time.  Unfortunately I can’t give THAT many people a tour…till now.

People are always FASCINATED to see behind the scenes of the business….as most people have never seen behind the scenes at ANY business, especially one like mine.

There’s usually too many questions people have to get answered in a single email (or 10)…so this course seemed like the coolest way to do it.

I’ve been pretty transparent with House of Rave in the past, but it’s definitely created some problems being so open.  That’s why for this product I will be charging a small fee.  Not only do I feel justified in doing this, but I also think it’s WORTH IT.  I pretty much open the kimono to House Of Rave and show all the numbers, analytics etc and how everything works.

Will anyone buy it?  Who knows….

…but I do feel proud of the work done.

I made a members-only webpage with all the content on it.  This is actually a departure from my traditional blog-only format, as it has too much content for just screenshots and text.  I wanted to literally SHOW people what I’m doing, so there’s a lot of personal video and screen capture.  I was actually astounded at how much more information can be conveyed over a single video than a full blog post.

Here’s some screenshots of the members only area I made:

Here’s the first page called “How HoR Started” which goes over how and why I started this little “experiment” when I was 17.  I’m hoping this part will inspire a lot of people to realize that “even they can do it” …as I had very little experience when I started this biz.  It also shows the process of HOW I started it, came up with the idea, researched it etc….

The next section is called “How It Works” and is what I consider the real “meat” of the product.  This section took the absolute longest to make, and shows ALL the behind-the-scenes stuff people don’t get to see unless I personally show them.

I know this will shed some insight into this type of business to people who are curious.  It also shows you how easy it is to currently run!

Each of those videos is anywhere between 5 minutes and 20 minutes.  The videos take BY FAR THE LONGEST to film edit and upload.  So while that page is only 5 or 6 pages long, it has A LOT of great content.

I found myself re-watching some of my own videos because they were so interesting!

The next part is entitled “How You Do It” and it goes over two main points.  The first is how you can sell one item online almost immediately…I even show a real life example of setting up a very simple site and allowing people to buy from it with a credit card…with ZERO DOLLARS investment and the whole process takes less than 5 minutes and involves no webpage building or programming.

I think that part is very important to show people, because they often make it WAY TOO HARD IN THEIR HEADS.  They think to sell ONE item they need all sorts of programs, subscriptions, merchant accounts blah blah blaaahhh… not true.

The second thing I show is how to build an ecommerce store in less than an hour with zero programming skills.  I show the free way of doing this (slightly harder), and the paid way of doing it (super-duper-cooper-easy).  This part smashed the myth that all this ecommerce or “selling stuff online” business is complicated.  I want people to take action in this part, because simply doing some small project like this will teach them more than reading about it all day long.

The product is 95% done…all the content is completed, I’m just working out the password protection part and payment then I’ll release it soon!