Monthly Archives: September 2009

Quote Bank

Whenever I come across a good quote from anything…a book, interview, podcast, magazine, TV show etc…I write it down either in a notepad, my Google Desktop bar or my iPhone.

Here is my quote bank:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Constraint inspires creativity.
–Jack Dorsey

Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of a neighbor, will feel pleasure in the reverse.

The best things in life make you sweaty.
–Edgar Allen Poe

“….we looked at a human life up close and saw that it was just an ordinary Wednesday, again and again and again—and that achieving life happiness was all about learning to be happy on a routine weekday.”

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
–Albert Camus

Man is made for bustle and movement. A ship in motion, a fine woman dancing.
–Abigale Adams

People have everything we want.
–Earl Nightingale

Money makes people just more of what they were before.
–Biz Stone

Eating with utensils is like making love with your clothes on.
–Placemat in Indian restaraunt in South Africa from Diana Nightingale book

When asked if one should marry or not, Socrates responded, “You will repent it either way.”

The great majority of people do not achieve unusual success; why would we expect that getting in the same line as them in any endeavor would result in any sort of remarkable success?
–Earl Nightingale’s Greatest Discovery page 118

When asked what it was like as a comedian to perform in front of 80,000 people, Steve Wright answered:
“It’s like swimming in the ocean.  It doesn’t matter how deep the water is.  All you can do is swim.”

“The business of life is the acquisition of memories”

Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
–Lao Tzu

“Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice when He could do something about it, but I’m afraid he might just ask me the same question.”
–Abdu’l Baha

Good looks help and constitute an asset if the rest of the person is in balance.
–Earl Nightingale

The only thing about a man that is a man is his thinker. Everything else you can find in a pig or a horse.
-Archibald mcleish

Your stomach should be filled 1/3rd with food, 1/3rd with water and 1/3rd empty to be at your most productive.
–Muslim quote

If you can’t poke fun at yourself, you’re not much.
–George Steinburner

He who has health, has hope, and he who has hope, has everything.
–old Arabian proverb

The atitude must preceed the accomplishment.

When a man doesn’t know which harbor he’s sailing to, no wind is the right wind.

You can’t have your Kate and Edith too.
-Statler Brothers

If it feels right, smells right and tastes right, it’s almost surely the right thing to do. It really is as simple as that.
–Captain Michael Abrashoff

Talking about men in their forties experiencing a mid-life crisis:
“Suddenly the past seems a humiliating reminder of risks untaken, women unconquered, and chances ignored.”
–Nancy Mayer

If someone says a particular person spoke critically of you, just smile and reply, “I guess they don’t know about all my other faults. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have mentioned only these”

Books are the training weights of the mind.

Man cannot remake himself without suffering. For he is both the marble and the sculptor.
–Alexis Carrel

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet attested their wealth stems in part from being born in America where “innovation and risk are rewarded”

Aristotle said, “Happiness is a byproduct of healthful and successful activity.”

Everytime you do something, you throw a boomerang. Eventually the result will come back to you.

It’s true some of the best things in life a free, but it’s funny….have you ever tried getting them without money?

To get a great idea, come up with lots of them.
–Thomas Edison

Write as well as you can and finish what you start.
–Ernest Hemingway

When asked for the formula of success, Andrew Carnegie said, “Put all your eggs in one basket, then watch that basket.”

The purpose of ANY organization is to help man enjoy a more meaningful existence.
–Direct Line 18B towards end

I cannot become who I want to be by remaining who I am.

The bedrock values instilled by Sam Walton and his early lieutenants were all-american values: Hard Work, frugality, discipline, loyalty, a restless effort at constant self-improvement.
–The Wal-Mart Effect

Sam was no genius…he was a workaholic. He was not driven by money, but by competition. He could be playing tennis with a one-legged man in a wheelchair and would show no mercy.
–The Wal-Mart Effect

Any business needs to concentrate on two things: order volume and avg order value.

Like an hourglass, only one grain at a time can pass through. If we go one grain at a time, slowly buy surely we can get an enormous quantity done.

Willis H. Carrier:
I have bee using this same anti-worry technique for 30 years:
Step 1.) Analyze the situation fearlessly and honestly and figure out what’s the worst that could possibly happen.
Step 2.) after figuring out the worst outcome, I reconciled myself into accepting it if necessary.
Step 3.) from that time on I devoted my time and energy to trying to improve upon the worst which I had already accepted mentally.

Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other saw the stars.

Greek proverb: The best things are the most difficult.

To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being.

The best laid schemes o’ mice and men often go astray.
–Robert Burns

Wise men ne’er sit and wait their loss, but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.

“Only hurt people, hurt people.”

A man is what he thinks about all day long.

Our life is what our thoughts make of it.
–Marcus Aurelius

I had the blue because I had no shoes,
Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.

Find a problem, then ask the opposite.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
–Dr. Seuss

It’s nice to be part of something that will last a little longer than you will.

Doctors give up a year of life to specialize, but they reap the rewards for decades to come.
–The Dip – Seth Godin

Scarcity creates value.

Never retreat. Never explain. Get it done and let them howl.
–Benjamin jowett

We could be playing cards right now and I’d want to kick your ass. Not win, but kick your ass. There’s a difference.
–Tiger Woods

When asked, “What is your idea of happiness?”…Alfred Hitchcock replied, “A clear horizon.”

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

Don’t write about what your readers want you to write about. Write about what you’re passionate about.
–Mark Cuban/Tim Ferris

If you don’t know what to write about, write about what makes you angry, but don’t attack people.

Excellence is not an act, but a habit.

Talent is the desire to practice. You love something so much, you’re willing to make a large sacrifice for it.
–Malcom Gladwell

It doesn’t take any more time or effort to dream a big dream than a small dream.

I’m a great believer in saying yes and not no.”
–Richard Branson

It HAS to be something you like, or you WILL bail.
Joe Liemandt

The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.
–Andrew Carnegie

You don’t go in the studio and think, “Ok, what would people want to hear me sing about.” I go in there and think, “Ok, what just happened this weekend? You just gotta keep it real with yourself”
-T-pain interview (Yes, I just included a quote by T-pain…you can learn something from everyone)!

If you could put a silver bullet in one competitor, which one would it be? You’ll quickly find out who the best is
–Warren Buffet

If you risk something that is important to you, for something that is not important to you, it’s just foolish.
–Warren Buffet

Build a moat around your business. When I invest in a company, the only guidance I give the managers is to continue building that moat. Make it bigger, make it deeper, throw crocodiles in it.
–Warren Buffet

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.

If you stay ready, you never have to GET ready
–Will Smith

Take what you love to do and apply it to something profitable.

Almost everything you do should be building upon somthing which you can look back at in its entirety and be proud, or sell.

If your competitor is so dull they can’t come up with something original about their own products or services and have to steal things you create, they won’t be competition for long.

Define success:
A= Success
X = Work
Y = Play
Z = Keep your mouth shut
–Albert Einstein

The best people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what the researchers call “deliberate practice.” It’s activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance, that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.
–Malcolm Gladwell

Rules prevent disaster, but they ensure medicrity
–Barry Schwartz

There is only one goodness, it is knowledge. There is only one evil, it is negligence.

It may be that taking the focus off your own happiness is what makes happiness possible.
–From a satire article in Cracked

We tend to play things ridiculously safe…it seems as if some people think they’re going to live forever.
–Earl Nightingale

When asked where all his success comes from, Ted Turned simply replied, “Thinking. I read and I thought.”

Stanger, if we pass each other and you desire to speak to me, why should you not? And why should I not speak to you?
–Walt Whitman

If you’re just a distributor, where will you be in 5 years when the major suppliers begin vertically integrating?
–Ted Turner

In chess, a 1 or 2 ahead player always gets beat by someone who looks 7 or 8 moves ahead. I always wanted to think a few moves ahead of the competition.
–Ted Turner

When asked about the secret to longevity in show business, George Carlin replied, “Productivity.”

Lasting a long time is a function of pleasing a wide range of people.

To make more money: Motivate yourself by trying to solve peoples problems, not looking to sell them something.

If you give a child too many gifts, he will take them for granted. However we have been given a gift beyond measure (power of the mind), and we do much the same.
–Earl Nightingale

Beauty without intelligence is like a masterpiece painted on a napkin.

The man who has least fear for his carcass, has much time to consider others.

Conform to their style and they’ll remember you a day. Create your own style and they’ll remember you forever.

Humans must always have a carrot on a stick

Everybody is creative, and everybody is talented. I just don’t think everybody is discipined.
–Al Hirschfeld

Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters. They only make good former spouses.
–Isabel Allende

It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” –W. Somerset Maugham

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
–Mark Twain

Creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget.”
–Jaime Lerner

At the age of 24 I began setting clear, written goals for each area of my life. I accomplished more in the following year than I had in the previous 24.
–Brian Tracy

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
–Vidal Sassoon

If you sleep you can have sweet dreams…if you work hard you make dreams come true.
–Professor Kwag

Train yourself to let go of the things you fear to lose.
–George Lucas

In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Study while others are sleeping, work while others are loafing, prepare while others are playing, and dream while others are wishing.”

——update: 10-05-2009———

When investing, pessimism is your friend, euphoria the enemy.
–Warren Buffet 2008 shareholder letter

People don’t like gadgets, they like experiences. iPhone ads never highlight the technology or show the charger.
–Steve Oskoui

Stop thinking about how to get from people, and start thinking how to create value for them. Massive amounts for them.
–Eben Pagan

If you will take your best ideas, give them away, then people will presume what you’re selling is worth more.
–Eben Pagan

Strong men are honest about their desires.

Our capitalistic society ensures there will be competition.

I have told so many of my students that when you’re 1% unhappy it’s time to get out. Now it’s time to follow my own advice.
–Perry Belcher

Loving the twitter spam messages promoting worthless MLM and easy money systems. Whatever happened to hard work and a killer product?
Mitchell Harper

Everybody says my website is a little like McDonald’s…it may not be healthy for you, but everyone likes it.
–Perez Hilton

The way we manage her brand is plan it out like a lawyer would create a case plan, then follow that plan.
–Paris Hilton Inc. Movie

Living with a woman is like working backstage.
–Ray Croc biography

If you want to conduct an orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd.

I work with many CEO’s and celebrities and one common trait among these patients is they all imagined themselves attaining success before realizing their goals.
–Excerpt from a self-hypnosis book

Success leaves clues. Study people you admire or want to be like.
–Tony Robbins

If merely looking up past financial data would tell you what the future holds, the Forbes 400 would consist of librarians.
–Warren Buffet 2008 shareholders letter

Favorite Books

I love reading books. I’m particularly into non-fiction books and auto/bio/graphies of great people. I spend a massive amount of time in the public library reading and have gone through hundreds of books. Rarely do I recommend anything to anyone except the absolute best books I’ve come across.

Books are possibly the highest ROI investments you’ll ever make in your life, as you can often learn a lifetime of lessons from a person in just one sitting.

As Epictetus said: “Books are the training weights of the mind.”
Below are some of my favorites:

Felix Dennis – How To Get Rich
Quite possibly the most fun I’ve ever had reading a book! A self-made wealthy man himself, he’s the owner of Dennis Publishing which owns Maxim, FHM, The Week and other magazines. There are maybe five books I’ve EVER read twice…this is #1 on that list.

Earl Nightingale – This is Earl Nightingale
Earl Nightingale is a rather obscure name today, but he is by far the absolute best personal development writer/speaker I’ve heard. Zero B.S. and filled with fantastic content. Most modern self-development programs are based on this. You should definitely listen The Strangest Secret (link) to get a taste. This book is mainly a transcription of his spoken essays he’s so popular for. If you can find a copy of his program “Direct Line” I suggest you buy it. I couldn’t find it anywhere except a bit torrent network.

Epictetus – A Manual For Living

I’ve bought two pocket sized copies of this book and lost both of them in airplanes. Any translation of this still fits in an exceptionally tiny book. There is an outstanding amount of timeless information in this book packed into quick, short passages that make you THINK how to apply them to your life. There is literally zero room in this book for B.S. advice and useless philosophical analysis. If you have a problem, quickly flip through this book and I bet some sort of solution will arise. Written about 1,900 years ago and still 100% applicable.


Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich
This is a classic. I’d be surprised if you HAVEN’T read this yet. I’d bet money this book has restored countless relationships, made millions of millionaires and saved many lives. It’s been around since the 1920’s, so enjoy the slight racist and sexist remarks (don’t buy the “21st century version” which may be censored)! :-)

What Would Happen If I Die?

*Don’t worry, this isn’t some weird online suicide note. It’s just a thought process of what would happen if I were to suddenly die.

It happens all the time, every day, and has happened billions of times before me, so it’s safe to assume that at some point I will die.

If I had my own way, I’d prefer to die when I think it’s time (I’m a big fan of assisted suicide in old age). I think:

If I’m 80+ and all of a sudden bed-ridden from whatever cause, I believe it’d be a good time to go. Why slowly die and burden my family and self? Sure I could go on longer, but like a good comedian, I’d like to go out before the audience forces me out.

The same would be true if my life were to be dependant on others for basic functions, or if I am a vegetable. So if that situation arises in the future, I am publicly asserting it’s absolutely 100% OK with me to pull that plug! Anything that happens which burdens my family too much…yank it. No question about it.

Just for fun I ran out a thought experiment:

Cause: I’m crossing the street eating an ice cream cone when BAM I get hit by a bus. Dead.

Effect: Here are some of the effects I see happening:

  • Family/friends would be sad.
  • My blog would continue to exist (wouldn’t it be weird to be reading this blog even though I was DEAD)!?! In fact, in a weird way I’d be immortal for the 3 or 4 months my hosting company wouldn’t pull down my dedicated server for non-payment. I bet my blog would actually SPIKE in traffic as word gone around you could read a “ghost” blog! I also presume a lot of people would leave R.I.P. comments (along with spam links trying to profit off the traffic…even in death spam would be a problem)!
  • There will end up being a lot of pissed of customers at my business. While I don’t have much to do with shipping orders etc, they all pass through me. Without me there, I’m sure the business would continue accepting orders for 3-4 months before the hosting company pulls the plug. Unless someone intervened to get all the bills paid and orders sent. No one would actually be charged any money from the business, but they wouldn’t get their orders either.

It’s obvious that my main concern about dying is the ease to which my family can absorb that hit. I don’t want to die, then on top of that have THEM go through the legal work, taxes etc. to clean up my affairs. Now that I think about it, it’s actually quite selfish of me NOT to have a plan in place.

Which brings me to the conclusion I need a solid will (or at least a defined set of instructions left with the person with power of attorney over me). I need proper instructions in place to determine what will happen to my physical assets, money and businesses if I die. I’d also like every possible organ and body part harvested and donated quickly as possible (why the hell would I still need them)??

Action to take:
1.) Make a proper set of instructions to execute in the event of my unexpected demise.
2.) Legally give my parents power of attorney over everything I own if I kick the dust.
3.) Properly register as an organ donor. Apparently there’s a special registration for this…I personally think EVERYONE should automatically be an organ donor UNLESS they specifically apply NOT to be.

A few years before he died, Benjamin Franklin wrote up his own epitaph which I think is totally badass (this is the original so forgive the weird syntax):

The Body of
B. Franklin Printer
(The the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn out
And stript of its Lettering & Gilding)
Lies here, Food for Worms,
But the Work shall not be lost;
For it will (as he believ’d) appear once more,
In a new and more elegant Edition
Revised and corrected
by the Author

A few people I told about this post thought it was “too much of a downer.” Why? Death is such a normal part of life, I see no reason why not to plan in case it happens, or admit that it will inevitably come.

I think Steve Jobs said it best in that famous commencement speech he made:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

A Traffic Tour Through the Years

I though it’d be interesting to take a look at all the Google Analytics since I installed them on House of Rave somewhere around the beginning of 2006. I’ll only use Google Analytics because they are probably far more accurate than my server’s reports (which I believe counts viewing an image as a full unique visit which may distort the number of TRUE visitors to the site):

I had to put this report on a weekly view rather than daily so the rest of the years analytics even show. There was an “event” that caused hits to go from a few hundred per day to about 50,000 one day then 25,000 the next day. That was great, but it really screws up viewing the yearly analytics.

HoR has always been a very “sticky” website, and 5.41 pages per visitor is a pretty good stat I’d say.

Some funny activity in the beginning of the year was most likely attributed to this very blog. Whenever I talk about the business in a way that interests people, I can see little spikes in traffic. I don’t particularly care because those visitors from my blog rarely buy anything from HoR…so it doesn’t make me any money. In fact simply talking openly about this business has caused a slew of people to copy. Why on EARTH anyone would want to copy a business model I did back in high school is beyond me… If I could do it over again I would’ve preferably picked a much larger niche.

Judging from this chart, HoR was pretty stagnant or even declining during 2007.

I ended up doing all sorts of improvements to HoR in 2008 in my own sporadic way. I suppose it helped as traffic went up. Traffic may also have something to do with this blog. Once again, traffic doesn’t necessarily = income. Although I’m sure it doesn’t hurt.

2009 (Up till Sept. 1, 2009):
Here is a snapshot of 2009 thus far. These stats don’t account for 4 busy months of the year, so I’m not sure how trusting I am of them yet. Looking at the stats I notice the Avg. time on site is lower than it was 3 years ago. I suspect 3 years ago people had slower computers and less web savvy. Or maybe the site just sucks and people aren’t staying as long. Who knows.

Site traffic seems to be consistently growing a small bit. Based off my estimates (with information not presented here) it should overall grow to a new high.

From the information presented I need 102,689 more visits this year to equal the traffic of the heavily inflated 2006 sample. Based on the 2008 sample, a yearly avg. for monthly traffic would be 27,303 uniques per month. Multiply that by the extra 4 months in the year and that comes to 109,214 which would put 2009 as the highest traffic year. That 27K average is also probably a low average, since generally the 4th quarter is a higher traffic time for almost every business in the United States.

In addition HoR has an ancillary rave blog that gets 200+ visits per day…those are not included here.

Effects of recession:
I always get asked if this recession has had any effect. Well…yea.
Anytime you get people making less money, lots of money fear etc. etc. people will buy less…especially stuff in the party/retail sector. Also, with lots of big corporations in extreme money-saving mode, most of the really large orders I would get from them have disappeared along with those fat-ass budgets.

This business also sells stuff people don’t really need. We actually have managed to grow believe it or not, but not by the 4X factor we were hoping for late last year. What hurts the most is the indirect effect the recession has taken. HoR sells “hard to find light up stuff“…and “hard to find” roughly equates to “not manufactured that often.” It takes LOTS of money, time and resources to manufacture/store/ship/distribute a single product, and lots of the cool products we once used to carry have gone bye-bye (much to my chagrin). If anything, this has been the single most destructive part of the recession to the business.

Well, recession or not, cheers to a decent 2009! *clink*

I Hate Chargebacks

I read Adam’s post about a large chargeback a while ago and could completely relate to the pure helplessness felt when dealing with these.

A chargeback is when someone files a claim to get their money back from you. This is a great consumer protection device, but it can be abused.

It’s almost obscenely rare that the merchant will ever win one of these disputes. I’ve tried many times to no avail. I fully understand that this is simply a cost of doing business, but I’d still like to send a message:

As you know I own a business called House Of Rave and over the years we’ve had to deal with chargebacks. Since customer service is good and everyone gets handled properly, legitimate chargebacks are quite rare. However the occasional piece of fraud slips through the system, and it really sucks losing even $1.00 to these people.

I’m not in position to change how this entire system works, but I’d like to do something to help. Whenever I see a suspicious order, I’ll basically just Google the name, address, email etc. to see if I can find results. Based on this I can often make a judgement to send the order or not.

Inspired by Adam’s post, in the archives of the House of Rave Blog I’ve created the Chargeback and Fraud Warning Page:

We don’t get many chargebacks, but I listed two of them we’ve recieved in the last five months. I’ll list more if they come along.

This way if any other merchant Google’s some of this information, it will give them a hint that this person/address has done this before. They can make their own judgement call from there.

If you own a store or have the resources to make one of these pages, I’d suggest you do. I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but if this manages to stop even one jackass from ripping off someone else’s store, I’d be happy.