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Burning Man was Awesome

I thought Burning Man was a festival for weird-ass hippies.

I mean here’s what happens:

  1. People drive hundreds of miles out into the middle of the Nevada desert.
  2. They endure hot days and cold nights.
  3. There are no permanent utilities around.  So no water/electricity/phone.
  4. They must bring everything with them, and leave with everything also.

Who the hell would do that for FUN??

But then I was constantly hearing of people I admire going to Burning Man over-and-over, and it got me curious that maybe there’s something more to this event.

SO this year (2014) I got invited by a couple of friends who had already been many times.

They got a hold of a couple of nice RV’s and also got a ticket for me (which are generally quite hard to get a hold of).  They also had everything planned out.

Essentially all I had to do was pack a suitcase and get myself to Sacramento, CA.

SIDE NOTE:
My interest in going to Burning Man was right about here:

burning-man-interest

If my friends hadn’t invited me with the promise of relatively low effort on my part, I wouldn’t have gone.

They DID say despite the fact we’ll have a nice RV and plenty of supplies, it would STILL be uncomfortable and difficult to be there at times.

But hey, I’m an Eagle Scout.  I should be able to handle this!

nev-eagle-scout

(If you can wear THIS in public without getting beat up, you can handle some dust and heat)!

Our plan was to meet in Sacramento, pickup this nice RV, raid a Whole Foods, raid a WalMart for general supplies and bikes, then drive out to the desert.  We were like a yuppie version of the Beverly Hillbillys!

So anywhoozle, the day before Burning Man I started gathering supplies.  I went to a costume store called Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds and bought some outfits and masks.  I gathered up warm clothes for the cold nights, and protective clothing for hot days.

I took along plenty of toilet paper and portable Wet Wipes.  I bought a CamelBack for water on the go.  I bought synthetic fiber boxers that would withstand long walking commutes mixed with very hot weather.

In general I over-prepared for the event.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m gonna travel way lighter next time (keep in mind having an RV helped with this a lot).

I watched about 3 different documentaries about Burning Man that day, and read about 10 different articles.

After consuming all that information, I was still confused about what the hell Burning Man was!  However it seemed cool and I started getting more and more excited.

So on a Thursday I hopped a flight to Sacramento, CA. and took an Über over to the Whole Foods parking lot 30 minutes from the airport.

The parking lot was not fit for large vehicles, so I kind of insinuated my ride was here when this massive 40 foot RV pulled up:

rv4 rv3 rv2 rv1

So basically we brought a house with us and filled it with good food (some of my camp-mates complained they only brought really crappy food one time, so this time we loaded up with good stuff).

We stuffed up two full shopping carts from Whole Foods, then jaunted on down to a Wal-Mart.

At Wal-Mart we picked up goggles (a MUST have at Burning Man), bicycles (another MUST have), lots of water, lots of glow stuff (a MUST have at Burning Man for safety reasons), and other general supplies you’d normally associate with camping.

Besides the obvious stuff like water and food…..I think the GREATEST purchases I made for the Burning Man trip were: A cheap $79 bicycle, glowing stuff for the bikes, my CamelBack backpack, eye goggles with a nice tight seal around your face.

So now we were finally ready for the trek out into the desert.

We thankfully got to the entrance gate very late at night, so there was no traffic.  Otherwise it was common to wait in the hot sun for 6 to 12 hours just to get through the FIRST gate!!!  Yikes.

I’m gonna fast forward now over some details, but I’m gonna write this short bullet-point list for my own personal memories for the future when my brain forgets:

  • The “Lost Tickets Incident” and how we pulled it off with the W Hotel concierge selfie with our tickets.
  • Our not-so-welcome entrance in the wrong spot and our very drunk neighbor from Amsterdam.
  • Team Proton RV.

So finally we get parked and settled (keep in mind most people are already at Burning Man, and we were late-comers, so people don’t particularly like it when you park a 40ft RV next to them mid-way through Burning Man.

We had a rough (but fun) entrance into Burning Man.  We were a 4-person crew in our RV and we all worked well together.  Everyone pulled weight and no one complained.  It was a solid team.

And then….it was time to explore!!  I believe we went out around 11pm, which is super early to go out.  We walked for our first excursion.

  • Goggles.  Check.
  • CamelBack.  Check.
  • Weird costumes.  Check.
  • No ID.  No money.  Check.
  • Time to go!

The sheer amount of “stuff” just going on around you at Burning Man is incredible.  Whether you’re in a “residential” area with camps, or the main playa……there’s literally stuff everyyywwwhheereee.

Want to find a party?  Walk 8 ft.

Want to see people in crazy outfits.  Look in any direction.

Want to howl at the moon like a crazy person, go for it.  No one will bat an eye….and people might even join you.

Want to go up to a random person and hug them?  They’ll hug you back.

Want to climb up on a giant moving art sculpture that seems really dangerous?  Go for it.

The idea behind Burning Man is radical self-expression and self-reliance.

At night every single person is glowing in some form, because it gets so damn dark in the desert at night that you can’t see a thing.  So if you’re not glowing, it’s actually kind of a hazard to yourself and others.  You’ll probably get clocked by a bicycle.

Across the main Playa there are art cars, pedestrians and bikes all zipping around in all different directions.  And if you’re not lit up in some way, no one can see you.

On top of that it gets dusty outside sometimes, so everyone is wearing goggles on their face.  So you look around as walk, and it’s like you’re at a big glow-party on the moon!

Then you might see a MASSIVE pirate ship with a concert-grade sound system and thousands of lights slowly chugging along the desert floor.  And naturally you run after it and join the dance party as it traverses the desert.

I’m not exactly sure who funds these massive art cars or how they even get here (the quality of engineering and sound and light coming from those things was incredible), but they are awesome.

It was mainly a big party at night.

I would have no phone, no camera, no cash on me.  Just the elements for survival (aka water).

It was also cool to see the love in the air at Burning Man (that sounded way hippie).

It would be very frequent to see this occurrence play out:

Two people lock eyes.  They say “Welcome home brother.”  Give each other a big hug.  They both go on their own separate ways.

Seems cheesy, but it was quite nice.  It has no sexual connotation to it.  Rather it was very loving in the agape sense.

(FYI “Welcome Home” is a common phrase there because the story is once you go to Burning Man, it is your home).  I thought it was a cheesy thing at first, but it quickly grew on me.

You unplug.
You are friendly to everyone.
You are surrounded by creativity.
It just physically looks crazy awesome.
You are self-reliant, yet need everyone else there to make it happen.

Roots of this blog

I started NevBlog for one reason:

To track my finances.

In 2004 there were limited ways to do this, so the chronological order of a blog made the most sense.

So NevBlog was born.  You can see it here in all it’s glory thanks to the WaybackMachine!

http://web.archive.org/web/20050830024244/http://www.nevblog.com/

NevBlog then:Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 2.20.31 PM

 

NevBlog now:
Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 2.20.20 PM

 

Through the magic of the internets, people somehow would stumble upon my blog and read it.  The blog was a side-project for fun and documentation.

Somewhere along the way business somehow got mixed up with it.  Which is fine, but moves the blog away from it’s roots.

I think in the next year I’ll be switching that up.  I’ve started posting kopywriting stuff on a different blog now: KopywritingKourse.com/blog

It’s still in the infant stages and will be changing a lot.  But it’ll be nice to separate this stuff from NevBlog stuff.

 

And I REAAALLLYYYY miss that little column on the original NevBlog where’d I’d track all my finances.  THAT was cool :-)

Keeping memories alive

Back when I started this blog in 2004 there was really one main digital repository for posting your stuff.  A BLOG.

Starting in 2004 I made a free blog on Blogger.com and started documenting parts of my life so I could remember them easily (otherwise I’m quite forgetful).  In the case of this blog, I was attempting to document my financial life.  Hence, Neville’s Financial Blog was born.

Well in that 10 year span there’s been MULTIPLE forms of “life documenting” platforms.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are good examples that’ve taken off.

You post stuff to these services, and they let everyone else know what you’re doing.  Neat!

HOWEVER……In those last two years I’ve noticed some personal disappointment with the rise of these platforms, in the sense that I now take much less effort to document my experiences, therefore the experiences are not documented and preserved very well.

Imagine if your history books documented history purely through something like a Facebook or Twitter feed.  It would probably be a less-complete view of what’s really going on in your life.


LEMME GIVE YOU A REAL EXAMPLE USING FACEBOOK:
The primary modus for “looking at someone’s past” on Facebook involves scanning through their pictures.  There’s several things going on here:

  1. Not all the pictures on your Facebook Feed are yours, but some are from other people.
  2. Just because a photo is awesome, doesn’t mean you had an awesome time.
  3. The documentation is heavily skewed towards fun social events.

Now Facebook and others have shown that people LOVE posting pictures and keeping their past history alive.  In this way a Facebook Newsfeed is essentially a type of blog feed, but it’s WAY easier to create content for…..  Just post a photo or updates, people comment, create interaction….now you have “content”!  Easy!

Checkout this photo of my family (and surrogate family) on a house boating trip together in Utah in May 2014.  This was a picture posted to Facebook sometime during the trip:
boating-utah“Epic weekend houseboating with the crew!”

Lots of people liked it.
Lots of people commented on it.
Lots of people were informed that eight of us had a baller-ass time on Lake Powell.

Simply looking at this ONE picture will forever remind me of that trip.

By the time we got back home from the trip, there were already several pictures posted online of the trip by various family members, so I became FAR LESS willing to take time to document the trip in the form of a more comprehensive blog post.

But it hardly describes the entire experience.

For that, I would have to write a whole post.
For that, I would have to upload more pictures to an album.
For that, I would have to edit pictures / write text / edit video / upload somewhere.

Uploading that photo and posting a caption to Facebook took less than 30 seconds.  Making a full blog post about the experience may take upwards of 2+ hours at minimum.

Essentially it’s a much larger pain in the ass to document the experience in a more complete way.

BUT……

That trip was a treasured experience of mine.  The stuff that makes life good.  And it all gets flushed down the toilet in a few months since my memories of that trip will slowly start to fade with time.

I will always have the pictures, but with a complete blog post about the experience, my memories are retained MUCH better.  

For example, when I did my homeless experiment, I could simply post one picture of myself and recall that I did that experiment.  Here’s me when I got back home after 5 days of pretending to be homeless:

That photo personally reminds me that I DID the experiment, but it doesn’t remind me of how I felt, the boredom I tried to combat, the people I met (which I couldn’t take pictures of), the mini-experiments I tried, the prejudices I had, the problems I saw.

All of that took time to document…..but now that’s all preserved forever, because I took the time & effort to document it:
http://www.nevblog.com/homeless-experiment/

 

Another example is when I *ahem* supposedly *ahem* went to Cuba for my 30th birthday.  I can see this picture on Facebook and be reminded of it:
Cuba Handstand

But I did a better job with documenting the whole thing also.  I made a blog post where you could see a lot of pictures and read about the experience, and even compiled a video:
http://www.nevblog.com/cuba/

I also created a whole Facebook album with the pictures, and captioned each picture.  I remember all of this documentation taking A LOT OF TIME.

But in the end I’ll forever remember that experience in a much more complete way, which is valuable to me.  

 

Now I actually did a decent job of documenting the Cuba trip on Facebook.  There’s an album somewhere called “My 30th Birthday In A Country You’re Not Supposed To Talk About” (or something like that).  I sifted through everyone’s different photos, curated which ones made it to the album, and added captions to every picture. I even uploaded the video compilation I made.

But here’s my biggest fear about that, and one of the reasons I don’t put that much time into it anymore:

MANY-A-PLATFORM have come and gone:
-MySpace.
-Tumblr.
-Friendster.

…….these were all life-documenting platforms that people spent a lot of time curating their memories on, yet they went away.  And along with their demise went your hard work documenting.

However if you keep all these memories on your own platform, over time you’d have quite an impressive collection. THIS my friends, is why I keep this personal blog.

The satisfaction is for no one else but myself, though sharing it adds to that satisfaction.  But basically the point of all of this is:

Document your experiences better now, and it will pay off for you later :-)

Sincerely,
Neville Medhora

April Fools on me

Hey, I was trying to think of some clever-ass April Fools joke…..but I stumbled across a joke that’s been played on me for years…..and has set me back several years.

I’ve been blogging since November 17th, 2004.  That’s TEN YEARS.  I was the first person on the internet to publicly post my personal finances for all my small businesses, and was open about who I was.

Albeit I never started NevBlog.com with the intention of a single person to read it and never had the intention of making it a large blog, it’s almost ridiculous that my following is not FUCKING HUGE.

And here’s one of the most wasteful and regretful pieces of non-action I’ve ever done:

I failed to collect the email address of readers. 

Doesn’t seem so bad right?
Well lemme explain why I would love to go back in time and PUNCH 21 years old Neville in his big nose (who apparently had $16,721 in the bank at the time).

Here’s what happens when you spend lots of time on blog posts and stick them up on the internet randomly:

Blog posting no growth

 

You basically hit “publish” and hope people come to your website.  For years this is all I did.

When I was a really active blogger my site would get like 2,000 unique people a day coming to it…..but I NEVER once had a strategy on how to get those posts out there, or keep people coming back.

I had a ton of friends in marketing, but none of them convinced me to start collecting emails quite like Noah Kagan did.

Everyone said it was important, but Noah viewed collecting emails as THE NUMBER ONE METRIC he went by.

And it’s because of a chart that looks like this:

Blog posts growth with email list

You see, if my stupid 21 year old self had put a “Signup by Email” box somewhere on NevBlog.com, everyday I would’ve collected a minimum of 10 and 30 emails per day with the traffic I was getting.  That’s conservatively 600 people per month who wanted to hear from me.

And if 21 year old Neville HAD done this, then every time I put out a new blog post, I could hit up those 600 people via email saying:

“Hey, I did this thing where I got a homeless guy to sell bottled water on the side of the road, and we sold all 24 bottles in under 30 minutes!  Checkout the blog post here.

That same day, the 600 people that signed up that month would click the post.  PLUS the people the month before, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that, PLUS the people before that and so on………

Basically thousands of visitors would find out about my new post that same day.  Driving hella traffic to the site.  And since the email list and traffic would continue to grow together, it would create a “compounding traffic” effect in the long run.

So a happy APRIL FOOLS to current-Neville on missing out on tens of thousands of free subscribers & sales!!

 

Your business homework for tonight:
Make sure somewhere on your website (personal or business) people can signup to get more information/deals/updates from you.

Keep in mind, even though the new owner of my former business HouseOfRave.com does a horrible job with the site, this crap-ass email form still gets him an average of 3 new signups a day:

houseofrave-email-signup-form

So even a poorly-executed version of an email signup will help build your business for free.  You don’t even have to be emailing on a regular basis right now….just get the damn form up today!!

 

 

 

P.S.  This kid Bryan Harris is doing all this stuff VERY correctly right off the bat, and already his blog is exploding.  Just two months into starting a blog, he makes $1,500+ a month from his new email subscribers automatically (which 21 year old Neville would TOTALLY be jealous of)!  I’ll feature a post about how he did this tomorrow.  Stay tuned homie.

 

P.P.S.  Do you have some sort of email collection thingy on your website right now?  Post a link to it in the comments, I’m curious to see it.  If you’re feeling bold, I’d love to hear the number of signups you get per day!

 

“what do I wriiiiite?”

I have a friend who has a wine company.  They sell wine deals online.  Simple.

But his whole business is based off the emails they send out.

If the email is interesting and makes people want to buy wine, he makes money.

If it doesn’t, he’s stuck with thousands of dollars of unsold wine.  (perhaps I can help finish some)  ;)  ;)

So he sends out several emails a week about wine, and asked me the same question I hear from a lot of people with email lists:

“But what do I wriiiiitttee about???”

He thinks because he’s only selling wine, he’s running out of interesting stuff to talk about. “NONSENSE!!!” I screamed at him as I slapped him across the face!

I went on to brag about how I could personally find at least 50 interesting emails IN THE NEXT 2 MINUTES to send out to his subscribers that would also help sell lots of wine.

Currently his wine emails go out purely with deals, kind of like this:

Dear wine list subscriber,

Here is a wine deal that we have acquired.  It is First Press brand Cabernet Sauvignon.

You can buy it here for $40 a bottle:

 
Instead of making this email (sent to thousands of people) just a straight promotional email to jam some product down their throat, why not add some value to them instead?

This way they will look forward to your emails, and trust your emails, and be more likely to BUY from your emails.

Instead of slapping a promotion in their face, how about we give them some really good information like this sample email:


Ok, here’s a trick I learned from serving wine for 8 years:

“Wine is first tasted by the eyes, and second by the mouth.”

This is important because you can improve the “taste” of your wine by presenting it differently.  Cool huh?

In all my years as a wine taster, I’ve figured out how to make wine “taste” better to people by presenting it differently.

So here’s two cool things you can do to make your wine experience more enjoyable, in particular for the Cabernet Sauvignon we’re got today (these are great tactics to use at your next dinner party)!
First.) Explain the flavors in the wine.

So for the First Press wine we’ve got today, I would use this script with my guests:

“Ok everyone, this is a Cabernet Sauvignon from First Press Wineries in Napa Valley.  The grapes they use are picked later than the regular harvest, so put your nose in the glass and take a slow & deep breathe of the wine. You’ll smell a “deep texture” which essentially means a dark grape flavor.

Since this is a Cabernet Sauvignon wine, it will have a higher level of what wine makers call “bitterness”, which means it goes really well with salty cured meats.  If you all take a sip of the First Press wine and eat a slice of imported pepperoni, you’ll see how well they compliment each other.”
Second.) Serve with a salty meat.

For a Cabernet Sauvignon wine like today’s special, serve with Bridgeford Pepperoni. You can get it at most stores, it’s about $12 a log, and you just slice it up before a party, and people LOVE this stuff!  But mainly, it compliments First Press Cabernet Sauvignon like a glove (It has a salt capacity of .3%, and so does the First Press Cabernet Sauvignon).

Whenever you pair a wine and meat, people rate the wine higher than simply drinking it alone (and have a more “full” experience)!

YOU’RE DONE!
Doing these two things increased customers experience by THREE full points out of ten on our our wine tasting surveys, so this is unanimously shown to improve the wine experience:

1.) Simply explain the flavors.

2.) Serve with a salted meat that compliments the wine.

A simple trick to make your (and your guests) wine experience much more full.  Just so you know, we have the First Press Cabernet Sauvignon on sale today, and only 120 bottle left.

So if you grab a bottle (or 5) now, you get a $70 bottle of wine for only $20.  This is a helluva a deal, and you can save this email and use the exact script above at your next event, and end up with very delighted guests!

You can buy the First Press Cabernet Sauvignon at a 75% discount by clicking the bottle below:


Sincerely,

Neville
P.S.  If you have any questions about this First Press Cab, feel free to reply to this email, and I’ll personally answer your questions.

P.P.S.  Seriously, if you haven’t had a First Press cab with Bridgeford Pepperoni before, you’re really missing out on one of my favorite pairings!

 

Now wasn’t that a better email than simply sending out the promotion?

It helps make people DESIRE your product and want to buy it on the spot.

Now my friend doesn’t think it’s possible to send out so many emails about wine and still keep it interesting.  WRONG.

Let’s just rattle off some suggestions right off the top of our heads for email ideas:
–The best wines to drink with turkey during Thanksgiving.
–The best wines to buy and let age in the closet.
–How swirl your glass of wine properly and sniff it.
–3 ways to serve your wine all fancy-like.
–What the heck is a wine decanter?
–How to drink a Pinot Grigio.
–How Italians drink their wine.
–Say this traditional Italian toast at your wine party

There’s literally endless amounts of great emails we can send out, and still relate them right back to the products we’re selling.

As for now, I’m off!  Me and Noah took a workcation for a few weeks, and we’re currently in Bangkok and found a place to watch the SuperBowl (at 5:30am)!!

With Noah in Bangkok:

 

As we nerdily work on laptops whilst watching the SuperBowl,  I’m working on this email ABOUT emailing……and he’s working on a new AppSumo plugin that smart-detects how to capture the emails of people coming to your site.  You can check it out here:
http://www.appsumo.com/list-builder/

By the way, we saw those “big riots” going on in Bangkok right now.  In person is was more like a concert and market, and looked like a big peaceful music festival. #mediamanipulation

Adios!
-Neville – Kopywriter who teaches kopywriting 

P.S.  I have a Google Doc full of emails I can write out at any time, it might be helpful for you to make a document with all these ideas also!

December 2013 Goals

Dammit I hate posting these so late in the month, but here-goes my December 2013 goals:

December 2013 Goals

1st I’m porting the copywriting courses to MemberMouse.  Existing members won’t notice a thing, but moving forward I’ll be able to do cooler stuff with a proper membership system rather than my current method of using Frontpage 2003.  (Wow, I still use a TEN year old piece of software for my webpages).

 

Next I’ve been dying to send out another NevBox because people loved them so much, but I didn’t wanna just do ANOTHER one on copywriting (at least not right away because at the time I felt I couldn’t live up to the same value the first one provided).

This particular one is going to be called the “Life Changer” NevBox.  I’m really excited about it because the change it should have on a person will be immense.

I was at odds with this at first, because the best customers (from a strictly business perspective) are people will a lot of money.  However I think THIS particular product would have the GREATEST net-effect on people without a lot of money.

I still felt strongly about doing it, so I’m continuing despite the possible economic risk.

Just got back from Cancun for an Indian beach wedding, that was my only hope for a warm winter.  Hope you’re staying warm too!