Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Mrs. Gansky was my 3rd grade math teacher. She was deaf.

Mrs. Gansky was my 3rd grade math teacher.  She was deaf.

It was so cool how I could mouth the words to any question like, “Can I go to the bathroom” from across the room and she would read my lips!  It’s like she had a superpower.

She could speak well enough for us to understand, but it was the obvious slurred-voice of a deaf person.  She used her hands to communicate a lot, and was particularly good at it.  To the point where you could pick up information through her hands.

It’s like she spoke a universal form of Sign Language even 3rd graders could understand.

SO….how can we steal the secrets of my deaf 3rd grade math teacher to improve our businesses to make more??  (did saying that make me a horrible person)??

Well I think the secret to Mrs. Gansky’s awesome teaching was partly to do with the unusual nature of the communication (the slurred voice and lots of hand gestures) which made class much more interesting.  In turn, the students learned faster.

Now a STUPID person would simply say:
“OMG if I just start talking with a slurred voice and using hand gestures I’ll communicate better!!”

But a SMART person would quickly notice the real reason behind her success:
Mrs. Gansky was far more energetic than any other teacher, very helpful, and just in GENERAL an all around great teacher.  If she could speak and teach normally she would’ve been just as great of a teacher.  The slurred voice and hand gestures were a temporary novelty, but that would quickly wear off if she was a sucky teacher.

That’s like when I get questions like this:
“Hey Neville can you make this page convert better by writing some of that magical Kopy of yours?!?!?”

What I hear them telling me is a moronic statement more like:
“Hey Neville, can you make this shitty one-page offer for a useless product make me money without me having to do any extra work!?!?!”

Very often people have this Magic Bullet Syndrome where they think doing some single Magic Bullet can make their crappy product to bring in bazillions of dollars.

But that doesn’t work.

Anything successful will have a multitude of things going right for it such as:
-the copy on the page.
-the layout of the page.
-the actual thing being promoting.
-the way people got to know about you.
-if people are even in the market for what’s being sold.
-yadda yadda…..

Basically, it’s not just ONE magic thing.

I love the concept of learning skills, especially for people who don’t know what they wanna do in life.

……its the way to ensure you can be of value to society and create a living for yourself.  I’m no exception.

In the last two months I’ve picked up a few skills:

 I bought a full-sized electric piano with weighted keys.  This doesn’t necessarily improve me business-wise, but learning ANYTHING new keeps you sharp.

 I learned how to use Wishlist Member, a piece of membership software for WordPress.

 I learned how to a use a WordPress framework to build a WordPress site instead of just a theme.

Those last two things I learned together.  I could’ve paid someone to do these for me….but I was genuinely interested to see how these work.  At first I stumbled through by watching videos, reading how-to’s and just monkeying around on the software.

Now two months later I’m an EXPERT.  If I need to put together a new course or membership website I can do it in less than 10 minutes.

I’M NOW A MORE VALUABLE PERSON BECAUSE OF THIS SKILL!!!!

So lemme ask you:

What skills are you currently working on to improve your life?? Lemme know in the comments!

Sincerely,
Neville Medhora – Horrible piano player

P.S.  If you’re NOT working on any of your skills, I’m gonna forcibly make you listen to me practice piano chords ;)

AppSumo Napa Valley Workcation 2014

Soooo this last week was pretty cool :)

The whole AppSumo Team was going on a Workcation to Napa Valley on April 21st – 26th, and put this post out:
napa-appsumo

So not only does the whole AppSumo Crew get to go on a workcation, but we invite 10 people to come work with us and we’ll help them with their businesses.

Needless to say, just like the AppSumo Seattle Getaway in 2013, it sold out hella fast.

So on April 21st, 2014 we hopped a plane to San Francisco.  Here’s some of us at the airport:IMG_4135

Picking noses:
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We tried to fit 6 team members into an SUV, but with luggage it didn’t workout…..so instead I rented a 2014 BMW and drove that the whole time.

Don’t worry, we drove it “very gently”  ;-)IMG_4140

After a 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport we arrived at the country house which is in the Napa Valley area.

There were two houses rented so everyone could sleep relatively comfortably (at the last house in Seattle a lot of people ended up sleeping in random-ass places because there wasn’t enough space in all the rooms).

The main house was AWESOME!!  It was a 33 acre estate with a:

  • Vineyard
  • Private lake
  • Paddle boards and kayaks
  • Water trampoline
  • Land trampoline
  • Outdoor gas fireplace and wood fireplace
  • Hot tub
  • Olympic-sized pool
  • Bocce Ball court
  • Basketball court
  • Tennis court
  • Workout room
  • Wine cave
  • HUGE house with 8 or 10 rooms plus billiards room
  • Private chef
  • Full outdoor seating and cooking area

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Everyone sitting around the fire pit for introductions:
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Private tour and tasting of vineyard wine by The Wine Spies:
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Noah looking hella shady:
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Aaron Batalion on the left (one of the founders of LivingSocial) was hanging with us at the house, spoke to people about bidnaz, and went on the winery tour with us:
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TAKING A SELFIE OF OTHER PEOPLE TAKING A SELFIE:
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The second house:
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Everyone congregating and working and discussing:
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Chilling by the fire was my favorite thing.  I realized that a gas fireplace is SO much better because it requires no cleanup like a traditional fire, and your clothes don’t stink like smoke!
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Private tour of the greenhouse and farm before eating at Ad Hoc.  Andrew Warner of Mixergy was with us:
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Oh man the food was good!!  It looks so “normal”, but it was truly an awesome meal:
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Goofing off while Andrew Warner speaks to everyone:
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He should interview me about how to do handstands!
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I stole someone’s dog while taking notes:
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On the way back home I flew Virgin Air for the first time….and it was AWESOME.  Since I just had such a cool trip in a mansion in Napa Valley, and dropped off my white BMW….I figured I may as well upgrade to 1st Klass (only $139 extra from San Francisco to Austin)!?

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It was actually the best domestic first class I’ve ever been in.  Good job Virgin Air!IMG_4278IMG_4280

 

Aaaannnddd that was my trip for the Napa Valley Workcation.  A good combination of getting work done, helping people with their businesses, and goofing around.

4 ways to sell something online realllly fast

I’ve sold a crap-ton of things online over the years.  Physical stuff, digital stuff, services, software…..so I know a bit about this.

But a lot of people still have trouble trying to sell even ONE thing online.

But don’t fret, your Uncle Neville is here to help you out!

So awkwardly come sit on my lap, and I’ll quickly explain the 4 different ways I’ve personally used to sell stuff online (depending on your situation):

I’ll make each of these quick-n-basic.

Even if you’re NOT planning on selling something online right now, I suggest you read this email and save it for future reference (or forward to someone who can use it):

 

IF YOU’RE SELLING: an ebook, Excel file, video, piece of software…..
(Setup time: 5 minutes including sign up).
The best and fastest way to sell a single file type of product is GumRoad.  It’s retardedly simple (is that politically correct to say anymore)??

When I would sell my class notes in college, I sincerely wish I had something like GumRoad, because it totally automates the whole paying/delivering process.

You see….the DELIVERY process is always hardest.  I could easily accept PayPal payments, but then I’d have to manually send people their purchase through email.  GumRoad does all of this without you lifting a finger.

All you do is upload the file you want to sell to GumRoad, set the price….and you’re literally done.  Wanna see it in action??

I did a project called the ProblemSolvingChecklist which was a veerrryy short PDF document meant to sit on your computer desktop.

All I needed to do was collect $10 from people and send them a PDF file.  GumRoad was PERFECT for this.  You can see it here:

(this image is just linked to GumRoad directly where people can buy)

Even if I wanted to sell it through email because I have low website skills, all I have to do is include this short link, and it’ll take you directly to the sales page:

https://gumroad.com/l/VVTf

I sold hundreds of these through GumRoad in this manner.

GumRoad Pro’s: Insanely fast and easy to use. Amazing for selling/delivering individual things.
GumRoad Cons: They don’t accept PayPal.

 
IF YOU’RE SELLING……a small amount of something or consulting services:
(Setup time: 5 minutes)

I’d suggest PayPal for selling ANYTHING in small amount.  You can put little buy buttons anywhere on a website or email, and pretty much EVERYONE already uses PayPal.  Usually when buying a digital product I PREFER to pay with PayPal since it’s super-easy to request a refund if needed, and I don’t have to enter my credit card info (not concerned about safety, it’s more a laziness thing) :-P

Like if I made pet hamster costumes as a hobby and wanted to sell them myself, I’d just stick up a PayPal button, like this:

Just go to PayPal –> Merchant Tools –> Make Button

….and you can set the price and style of your button to get paid!

(btw…I knoowww I knowwww I spelled “Hamster” wrong).

So STILL TO THIS DAY I have some old digital products that are sold through PayPal, and not integrated into a fancy delivery system.  I get the persons order, and manually send them access through email.  Don’t be afraid to be ghetto!!

 

IF YOU’RE SELLING……a bunch of physical stuff:
(Setup time: 1 hour)

If you want a legitimate eCommerce STORE on the internet that sells a lot of items, has a built in shopping cart, inventory tracking etc….then I would suggest using one of these three:
-Shopify.com
-BigCommerce.com
-Volusion.com

NOW…..I know you’re gonna want to compare them all, but you’re too lazy.  FORTUNATELY your old Uncle Neville has you covered, and has extensively used all three of those platforms (I’ve used a ton other too, but these are the best services I’ve seen).

Shopify by far is the easiest and most intuitive to use (and the fastest).  It’s also got a huge app store so you can tack on functionality as needed.

BigCommerce and Volusion were both very good….but much more clunky to use and modify.  They were just “harder” to use that Shopify in general.

*One thing I loved about BigCommerce was it’s digital delivery.  You can deliver digital goods and it was VERY VERY seemless.  With Shopify I’ve had to find some work-around apps that don’t integrate quite as well as what BigCommerce has.

But if you’re just selling normal stuff, I’d highly recommend Shopify
(I personally picked Shopify for my NevBlog Store).

 

 

IF YOU’RE SELLING…..a book.  
(Setup time: 5 minutes)

Amazon.com is THE place to get a book…..so why not put your book on there??

It’s SO FREAKIN EASY TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK nowadays.  Especially through the Kindle platform.

And just a side note, every time I’ve released a book, the Kindle version greatly outsells the physical version.  Usually on a 3-to-1 ratio.  Other author friends have told me the same findings.

So the Kindle version is usually cheaper, but you sell SO many more books.  And it’s all digital, so there’s no worry about shipping.

You can take any story, blog series, or article you’ve made, and turn it into a Kindle book.  Just save it as a PDF file and upload it to http://kdp.amazon.com.  BAM….you’re a self-published author!  See my recent book on amazon:

http://amzn.com/0989895300

In addition to Kindle, I also used CreateSpace to make this book physically available, but so far the Kindle version has FAR outsold the physical version.  I personally prefer the physical version, but the people have spoken!

Bonus places to sell:
You can now start hosting specific things on specific services.  These services offer you a marketplace to sell in, and also handle the payment stuff for you (kinda like eBay does all the work for you).  Here’s a quick list:

-Selling an educational course?  Upload it to something like Udemy or Skillshare.
-Selling designs for 3D printing?  Upload your designs on Shapeways.
-Selling unique crafts? Post your stuff on Etsy.
-Selling your computer skills?  Post yourself on eLance.

The downside of these services is you lose some degree of control of how you sell your stuff, because you gotta play within their rules.  Obviously they also take a cut of your sales.  But these are great tools to use if you don’t have the skill or desire to take everything in your own hands.
So there you have it my young child (you can get off my lap now)…those are a couple ways to start selling stuff online quickly.

Don’t over think stuff too much though.  You can almost always just use a simple PayPal button to accept payments for damn-near everything.

Sincerely,
Old Uncle Neville

P.S. If you tell me what you’re trying to sell in the comments, I’ll respond and give you some advice on where to start!  Or just lemme know how YOU’VE sold something online quickly, I love hearing those stories and techniques.

P.P.S.  I made this entire blog post from my pool!  I hosted an “8am-early-morning-creative-writing-session-from-the-middle-of-the-pool” party.  It’s awesome to sit and write around OTHER people who are writing also.  Fun mixed with productivity!  Image credit to Corina.  There were 5 of us working out of the pool for 2 hours:

How to validate a taco stand

What if you wanted to open a Taco stand? 

Like a taco-truck on the side of the road.  
 
How would you do it?
 
A typical “wantrepreneur” would do the following:
  • Start researching licenses and city permits.  
  • Scout out possible lease locations and speak with all the property owners. 
  • Start Googling taco recipes.
  • Take out a loan (or borrow money) to buy a truck or cart.
  • Spend money and time to get the truck food-certified by the city.  
  • Start looking for employees to help with making the tacos.
  • And…… 
  • A……
  • Bunch……..
  • Of……. 
  • Other……
  • Boring……
  • Stuff……. 
 
Soooo after all that work, thousands of dollars, and months of time…. where are we?NO WHERE!
 
NOT ONE FUCKING TACO HAS BEEN SOLD!!
 
So let’s say $10,000 later, and 6 months down the line….we’ve got this magical taco truck ready.  
 
We excitedly go out to our pre-researched location and turn on the “Open for Business” sign!  
 
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
::CRICKETS CHIRPING::
 
Well shit.  That didn’t work out so well.  We were open all day & night, we spent hundreds of dollars on fresh meat, avocados, tortillas…..and we only sold 10 tacos the whole night.  
 
“But oh well, it was just the first night…..we’ll get more business soon!” 
 
The next night….
And the next night….
Aaaand the next night……
And our taco truck is still bleeding money.  
 
And since we spent all our money and all our time on this…..we still desperately cling onto this shitty business.  
 
All because WE DIDN’T FIRST VALIDATE THE IDEA.  
 
Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. 
 
 
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Ok, now let’s take a break and re-do this whole taco-truck idea as if we knew how to validate ideas before jumping in:  
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The absolute FIRST THING TO DO is see if people even WANT your tacos.  
 
Now there’s hundreds of things that could make a successful food business……so instead let’s focus on something the late & great Gary Halbert said:
 
Gary Halbert said (I’m paraphrasing here):
 
“If you opened a hot dog stand…..and I opened a hot dog stand……I can beat the PANTS off you.
It doesn’t matter if you have better hot dog buns, or fresher meat, or more condiments….. 
My secret would be setting up my hot dog stand around a STARVING CROWD.”  
 
 

Using this theory, let’s do a taco-stand validation in one day:

 
FIRST STEP.) Let’s make a bunch of tacos at home (maybe 25-50 tacos) and wrap them in foil.  
 
SECOND STEP.) Let’s take those tacos to some location we think there is a starving crowd, and stack them in little pyramid on a cheap plastic table.
THIRD STEP.) Let’s use some markers and poster-board to make a big-ass sign that says:
 
“HOT BEEF TACOS – $2 each”
FOURTH STEP.) See if people actually buy all your tacos. 
That’s it.  Kind of like this:
DO YOU REALIZE WHAT WE’VE DONE HERE ALEADY??
In one day, we’ve understood:
  • How easy or hard it was to make all those tacos.
  • How much time it took to make the tacos.
  • How much money it took.
  • If we even LIKED doing this work.
  • If our tacos were delicious, or shitty.  
  • A rough estimate of how much to charge for each taco.
  • If the location was good or bad.
  • …..and most importantly:
  • If people even WANTED our tacos from that location.
The next day, we can repeat the experiment, but try a different time, or location, or even an entirely different product…..and see if it works.  
 
And don’t give me shit about, “But Nevillleee…..what about city permits and stuff!!”
 
There’s many ways to get around this (such as setting up your stand on private property like a bar stoop or house lawn)……or even doing it WITHOUT permission.  If a cop actually tried to stop you (highly unlikely), you can just shut down the experiment and repeat elsewhere.  
 
(I asked cops in my bottled water experiment what they would do if they saw me selling water without a permit…..they said, “We don’t really care”) 
 
BE SCRAPPY.  
BE CREATIVE.  
USE LOOPHOLES.  
 
The point of this is to SEE IF PEOPLE WANT YOUR DAMN TACOS.  And if you do an experiment like this, you’ll learn SO MUCH.  
 
So if night-after-night your tacos sell out within 20 minutes…..You’ve proved that people love your tacos, love your location, and love your prices.  
 
…..you might actually have a damn good business on your hands!
 
However if no one buys, or the logistics of taco-making are just entirely too difficult (or boring) for you…..it might make sense to just SHOOT THIS IDEA IN THE HEAD AND KILL IT BEFORE IT SUCKS UP ALL YOUR TIME AND MONEY.  
 
………………and there you have it. We validated a taco stand! 
 
 
Sincerely, 
Mexican Neville

The entrepreneurial ramp-up period

I’ve done a bunch of these “survey” and “contest” thingies where we offer to help people with their small business ideas or current businesses.

It’s almost a shame only I get to see these results instead of other people…because:

MOST OF THEM ARE STUPID!

That’s right….a bulk of the ideas and running businesses that get submitted …DON’T MAKE MONEY, and doubtfully ever will.

 

BUT….THESE STUPID BUSINESSES ARE VERY VERY IMPORTANT!

Starting any small business or side-gig is kind of like riding a bike (or any skill):

STAGE 1.) You don’t know what the hell you’re doing and you’ll probably fail a couple of times.
STAGE 2.) You start to get the hang of it.
STAGE 3.) After trying many times, you kind of know what to do by now.

Look at any successful business person and there’s a VERY high chance they’ve tried A LOOTTT of things before whatever made them rich.

Here’s just a SAMLL LIST of dumb things I’ve done:

  • Resumite
  • Tried to buy and sell penny stocks
  • Facebook fan website
  • Rave website
  • Rave forum
  • Rave video hosting service
  • Powerwashing houses
  • Painting address numbers on curbs
  • Burning cd’s
  • Fixing computers
  • Selling bottled water
  • WordPress design
  • Website building
  • Adsense websites
  • Blogging
  • 3D printer websites
  • FancyBlog
  • SEO consulting
  • Buying/Selling on ebay and from Surplus stores
  • more….
  • ….and more….
  • ….and more….

That was just junk I could list off my head in a minute!

In fact, I’m always disappointed at my progress.  I feel like after ALLL THHHEE THHINGGSS I’VE TTRRRIIEED I should be a freakin billionaire by now! But like a lot of things, it takes longer than expected and it probably harder than expected.

Every person I’ve met that’s successful has GREAT stories about all the things they’ve tried in the past.  Try asking someone successful this question:

“What other business ideas did you try before you made it big?”

….and I bet you’ll get a lot of cool answers.

 

So if you’ve been trying to get something off the ground once and for all but feel it isn’t that great of an idea……. don’t be afraid to start quick & fail fast with some crappy business idea.

There are methods to help increase your odds of success (like the SumoBusinessBlueprint we did)….

….but JUST STARTING SOMETHING is always a damn-great place to start!

A bunch of business ideas …..and my feedback on each

If you wanna see a bunch of business ideas….and my feedback (on most of them), go here and look at the comments:

http://sumobusinessblueprint.com/hi/well-validate-it-for-you/

I’ve been going through each comment and responding (so all of them might not be done yet)….here’s what I feel like going through EVERY DAMN COMMENT and responding:

These are all business ideas people want to see validated in the SumoBusinessBlueprint style (which I must bragged has helped TOOONNS of people actually get off their ass and validate their idea instead of sitting on it forever).

It’s like free business idea research….check it out:
http://sumobusinessblueprint.com/hi/well-validate-it-for-you/

P.S. I’m still answering the comments one by one….so if you comment, it will get answered!

Nasty Clamps are Nasty (and why they did it RIGHT)

A guy who runs a business called NastyClamps contacted me and wanted to send a product sample to me:

….you can see why at first I was like, “uuuuhhhhhh?”

However phallic that may look to our gross imaginations….in reality the NastyClamp is a useful tool for photographers:

It can attach just about any camera, to just about any THING….like my camera on this desk:

I saw the product (and have used it already with my camera), and I saw the website NastyClamps.com …..and just thought this whole concept was pulled off brilliantly!  (I’m not talking about their whole business model….just the way they’re marketing it).

SHAMELESS PLUG: Matt who owns NastyClamps took the SumoBusinessBlueprint course….so clearly he’s already smart ;-)

One of the things I like very much about the way they executed this whole business was they used the VERY unusual look of the clamp and turned it into a funny selling point.

I showed it to some of the people at the AppSumo office….and they all thought it was hilarious! ….and remember the name.  I don’t know the brandname of any other camera equipment….so I guess the “NastyClamps” name worked pretty damn well!

…..but FIRST, let’s not forget that it’s just plain useful (marketing gimmicks can only get you SO far).

ANOTHER SHAMELESS PLUG: Matt watched the bonus copywriting video at the end of the SumoBusinessBlueprint and sent me this:

Also, I wanted to let you know that I followed some of the basic principles you’d outlined with Andrew Warner (in that bonus Blueprint video) about copywriting, making the written word more conversational, obvious “click here to purchase” links, etc, etc… And that — sincere-writing the copy on my website’s cheesy home page — that my conversion rate has nearly doubled.

One suggestion I’d have for NastyClamps (and for your website if you have one):
…..is make small email collection box that links to a contest.  Maybe something like “We give away a set of NastyClamps every week….just enter your email address to enter the competition”

This would at least help build an email list for later use.  So if you ever do a sale, you can hit up all your fans (pretty much the exact formula I did here).

Another suggestion would be to have some sort of “training material” for people…..just to open up their minds to the possibilities (and Matt, you told me you took my Course About Building A Course)…..so either make a quick video or even have a one-page “course” with several videos or pictures showing what people can do with NastyClamps that they couldn’t do before.

Good job keeping your product interesting (and Nasty)!

Two Cool Things

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FIRST COOL THING:
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A guy named Ching originally bought the Behind The Scenes of a Muse course I made about how HouseOfRave works….then he also took the SumoBusinessBlueprint course….and he now had seen how easy some of this stuff was, and got started.

He immediately started writing down his ideas in a Google Doc, and came up with a “list of Muse businesses” to start:
See Ching’s Google Doc here.

I could tell he put some effort into this.  He listed all his ideas, determined if people were willing to pay for the product/service, then scouted out potential drop shippers.

He then built a ghetto site for $0.00 (exactly as we recommend), and showed it to potential drop shippers.  They liked it, so he then made a real store…which is an Australian Ukelele store!

Ching sent me a ukulele, check it out :-)

But more importantly Ching went from “Wantrepreneur” to “I own a business” very quickly.

Who knows if this will make Ching a bazillionaire (likely not on the first try)….but now he knows he CAN start a business, he knows HOW to start a business, and the next time (and next…and next….) he will get better and better.

Great job Ching :-)

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SECOND COOL THING:
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Samuel Pitcher sent this to me during Christmas as “A gift for the Sumo’s”.

I thought this was incredibly nice, and a GREAT way to get our attention!

For completely free, and without telling us, he took this static image and made it into an animation to use as video bumpers.

I thought this was DAMN cool…and I’m jealous I don’t have the skilzzz to do stuff like that!

ORIGINAL IMAGE:

AFTER IT WAS SAMUEL-IZED:

Pretty cool eh?  Definitely NOT a bad way to get someone’s attention!

Great job Samuel!