This is more of an obligatory post to say I’ve continued pretty much doing the same thing from Day 1.
This is more of an obligatory post to say I’ve continued pretty much doing the same thing from Day 1.
Day 1 of my effort to improve my online business HouseOfRave.com started with me re-doing a bunch of products with a new Add-To-Cart template.
Previous all the products on HoR had the shopping cart buttons at the bottom of the page, like this:
As you can see it’s often not centered, different product image sizes throw it off, and it’s just more confusing in general.
To cure this I had a top-right-centered template made for Shopsite, so I’ve been going through and changing product pages to this more standard Add-to-Cart layout:
In theory I can simply select all the products in the catalog and mass-edit them to the new template in one action…however many of the products on the old template required me to insert a lot of breaks so the formatting around the images was correct. This causes problems now since the layout is different, and if I blindly apply this template, it leaves many of the products with a lot of wasted space like so:
So there’s the unfortunate job of going through all the products and removing that code. The upside is once this job is done, I can make new templates without worry about ghetto-ized code messing everything up.
So today I’ve gone through several product sections and cleaned up code, re-sized a lot of product images, added bulk pricing information to certain products as well as updated shipping cost information.
For the remainder of April I want to dramatically increase the quality of my online business House of Rave.
I’ve decided for this month not to contract work out and simply focus on one thing. Of course lots of other things go on at the same time, but I’d like to pin-point my focus on HoR.
So for April I will post daily about progress I’ve made. I’ll do this every day, even if the changes are relatively minute.
Some visual and content things I need to focus on:
Some more “shopping experience” things I need to focus on (which I’ve never focused on before):
Feel free to suggest possible upgrades and point out confusing portions of the site throughout the series of posts.
Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.
On Noah’s recent trip to Austin I introduced him to a friend who’s a huge player in the viral marketing field. Now he runs a big media company yadda yadda, and showed us some of his tactics.
One of the things he’s absolutely fanatical about is optimizing his checkout forms. Whether for buying a product, filling out an email form….basically anything with a customer text entry box…he does massive amounts of multi-variate testing to see which layout, which font, which words, which images, which checkout flow, which spacing etc. results in the highest amount of successful transactions.
Now his market and sales are much different than mine on HouseOfRave, but something can be learned from this.
SO I decided to take a page from his book and for the first time EVER….optimize the checkout form on HoR.
I was actually quite horrified at how bad it was. The colors made me wanna throw up, there were no links to see the products you were buying, there were some confusing forms, some unnecessary fields and more simple fixes that had remained untouched for years.
Thanks to the recent upgrade of Shopsite I have the ability to change my forms a lot more. I realized that a lot of these names are strange to people and they have no idea what they’re getting when they press “Checkout.” Fortunately I can now add links and images on the shopping cart, which lets people know what they’re getting. Now when someone adds something to the shopping cart it looks something like this:
When people checkout they now see something like this:
There’s a lot of very minor changes in this new form such as the addition of writing “Optional” on the ‘Address 2’ field. Despite most people knowing this is where you’d enter an apartment number or office number, some people not familiar with online commerce scratch their heads wondering why they need to enter a 2nd address. Clearly writing “Optional” instead of simply denoting it with an *asterisks* should help.
I also want people to give suggestions in the comment box, so I wrote that. I want to change it soon to include something like “Why are you buying these products?” so I can more clearly understand what market I’m catering to (Hint: hardly anyone actually buys from the site for raves…it’s kind of counter-intuitive).
There were also little things like lining up the text entry boxes correctly so it looks neat.
If you can spot any confusing parts of the form or have suggestions, please let me know. I also plan on doing this sometime soon:
Allowing all the readers of this blog to place test orders on the site and send me feedback on what they thought was confusing or could be improved. I’ll try to get that test out sometime this month.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but simply paying some attention to the things I’ve overlooked for so long has already made a world of difference.
Today for updating HoR I added a few more products to the site to various sections, nothing particularly crazy but a necessary step in the improvement process.
I also took advantage of a feature in the recent upgrade of Shopsite: Google Sitemaps. The new software automatically populates a sitemap specially designed for Google and submits it via the Google Webmaster Tools.
On another note, a very small change that has been particularly helpful lately has been the percentages metric I added to my accounting sheet. Little did I realize how many of my products had a much older version of the shipping metric on them.
It becomes especially apparent on large orders where my percentage should be 30+ percent. Before I would get a large order, and after the numbers were entered, a nice profit sum would be spit out. This profit seems nice until you realize it should be nearly a third higher. What a big difference such a small metric can make!
“What is my purpose???”
You know what this question is?
It’s a meaningless fu**ing question that hippies ask to make themselves sad.
A spoon was built for a specific purpose: To get food in your mouth.
A chair was built for a specific purpose: To be sat on.
A cup was built for a specific purpose: To hold stuff.
But those are inanimate objects.
Life on the other hand was created by chance and repetition. And only life that replicates continues to survive.
That means us humans have the exact same “purpose” as dogs, fish, plankton and trees:
You exist to reproduce and assist in the survival of your species.
Hey hippies and lazy bastards of the world endlessly searching for your purpose….there it is!!! The purpose of life has been sovled!
But see, froo-froo thinkers don’t want to admit this. The real answer is obviously staring them in the face, yet they won’t acknowledge it because it’s not the easy answer they wanted to hear.
It’s like asking a successful person what “The secret to success is.” The real answer is usually “A lot of hard work.” But that’s NOT what people wanna hear! They wanna hear some magic clue that lets them shortcut their way through the hard work.
So there you have it. The purpose of life is to reproduce and assist in the survival of your species.
Here’s breaking it down further:
If your penis/vagina is in functioning order, your original purpose is to reproduce:
It’s why young people obsess over fitting in, being cool, and finding love.
If you’re no longer able to reproduce, your purpose is to assist in the survival of your species:
It’s why old people like taking care of grand kids.
It’s why people feel so good when they volunteer.
If you’re not doing things that either lead to reproduction or survival of the species, what happens? You get depressed!
It’s your brain’s way of telling you stop asking what your god damn “purpose” is and go do something that gets you ahead in life or helps your fellow humans.
I’ve seen many people endlessly ask the question “what’s my purpose” and they always tend to get a little depressed about it because they can never find it.
They’re searching for something to give them meaning…..or something to give them “drive”.
What these people need is not a “purpose”, but these two things:
1.) LITTLE GOALS (this one is required).
You will get super-depressed if you don’t have a little goal. A Little Goal can making a certain amount of money, or finishing a project, or learning something new, or being the best in your line of work, or taking a trip, or improving your living situation. Your Little Goals will constantly be changing.
2.) BIG GOALS (this one is not required, but can be searched for).
This big goal should be so big that it can’t be accomplished in your lifetime. It will vary wildly for some people. A lot of people won’t even have one, and that’s alright too. Some people will have a burning desire to end starvation in Africa or some lofty goal, and that’s alright too. If you don’t have a solid Big Goal yet….don’t dwell on it….focus on your Little Goals first and a Big Goal will materialize.
So if you’ve ever been wondering what “Your purpose in life” is. What you’re actually looking for is a GOAL.
And your goals evolve and change in different situations.
If you live in a 1st world country and have a job, maybe your short term goals are to take a trip to the beach with your friends and finally buy that new condo you’ve wanted.
But if you just got kidnapped by deadly ninjas, your new goal is probably to escape. Your beach trip and condo probably seem like pretty unimportant things.
If you live in a horrible place with no opportunity, maybe your short term goal would be to beef up your finances enough to get out, or improve your community to be more like you’d want.
Your goals will be highly affected by your environment.
Your Little Goals will be ever-evolving.
Your Big Goals will be too.
Your “purpose” in life however will remain the same: You exist to reproduce and assist in the survival of your species.
When a musician is jamming the hell out….he isn’t moping around thinking “what’s my purrrpoossee?”
His Little Goal is: rock the hell out and entertain the crowd. And he’s fully engaged in it.
When a pilot is landing a plane…..he isn’t contemplating, “maaaan what’s my purpose??”
His Little Goal is to land the plane safely. And he’s fully engaged in it.
The mom juggling kids while cooking and cleaning at the same time isn’t thinking “What’s my purpose?”
Her Little Goal is to get her kids fed. And she’s fully engaged in it.
If you don’t have a Little Goal, then MAKE one!
-Be the absolute top performer at your job.
-Aggressively learn a new skill. Piano, coding, speed reading.
-Buy my KopywritingKourse and learn how to communicate ← survival of Neville in action.
-Start making extra money for a sweet trip.
Accomplishing a bunch of Little Goals leads to you accomplishing even bigger goals.
Since the purpose of life is to reproduce and assist in the survival of your species…..
Generally anything you do to improve your own value or improve others will make you happy.
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.
For a little now I’ve been “stuck” in my life. Things were great, then I got too comfortable, then things started to stagnate.
It happens to everyone.
It can be caused by things being too good, or too bad.
And lately I’ve been trying desperately to get OUT of it and back to my PRODUCTIVE life.
Well I did a lot of soul-searching kind of stuff and talked to a lot of people….and that helped to an extent, but dammit….there’s nothing like taking some good-old ACTION STEPS to get out of it!!
SO here’s my Guide to getting your life back on track:
I feel like if you do some/all of these, things will slowly start to spin around for you again. The underlying concept is getting momentum. I’ll try to back up each example with my own actions:
HEALTH WEALTH LOVE (3 minutes)
Quickly evaluate three main areas of your life and rank them from 1-to-5.
Health: Your health situation.
Wealth: Your money situation.
Love: Your relationships with family/friends/spouse/partner.
Before I was:
Then it became:
Health: 5 (+2)
Wealth: 2 (-3)
Love: 2 (-3)
So I can obviously see where I need to concentrate on.
Try doing this for your own life, and it’ll shine some clear idea on where you can get started improving. Here’s more about this concept.
Your Top 5 Influences (10 minutes)
This is one of my favorite concepts:
“You are the composite average of the top 5 people you hang around.”
This doesn’t mean your favorite people to hang around, it means the people you LITERALLY SPEND THE MOST NUMBER OF MINUTES WITH PER DAY.
So if you live at home with your parents, just by the nature of that arrangement, your parents will be some of your top influencers. Or if you have a husband/wife….they will be one of your top influencers.
So take a look around, and write out who your top 5 influences are (aka who you are physically around the most):
Are those people the kind of people you wanna become?
Are they as successful as you wanna be??
Do they have the kind of attitudes about life that you want???
Are they going to places you want to go????
If you’re hanging around a bunch of losers with crappy attitudes…..it’s likely you’ll pick up those traits too.
If you’re hanging around a bunch of positive people with great attitudes and ideas……it’s likely you’ll pick up those traits too.
So check your list to see who is negatively influencing you, and try to cut down the time you spend with those people so they don’t take you down also.
I dare you to cut out at least ONE of those people. DARE YA!!
Here’s more about your top 5 influences.
To-Do Lists (5 minutes)
You KNOW I’m obsessive about to-do lists. But I’ve been a little unfaithful to my dearest to-do lists lately, in that I haven’t been completing them everyday.
I have since returned, and the productivity has begun. Here is my to-do list when I started writing this blog post:
I actually took some of my OWN advice to get back on track:
Watch that to-do list video for some inspiration on how to make your own to-do lists.
You can find out more about to-do lists here.
Stack your calendar (10 minutes)
Simply GOING to events that interest you will help get some momentum going. I started to skip a lot of tech events and conferences….and this bad, because those usually motivate the hell out of me (meeting other people doing cool things always makes you work harder).
I still use a physical calendar to track all my stuff like this:
I went to my bookmark bar of “Austin Events” and started adding things recently.
All good spots to start: Meetup.com, Yelp.com, Craigslist Community.
Wanna go to tech meet ups? Then search “tech meet ups Austin” (or wherever you are).
Nearby universities generally hold a lot of cool events.
I have a whole bookmarks tab of websites/museums/charities etc that hold cool events.
Re-connect with friends by giving to them
Next thing I did was throw a small party (not a typical party though). I only invited 1 or 2 other people.
It was called the “Early Morning Blog Post Writing Party From Nev’s Pool Party!”
The rules were:
I wanted it to be like “having your own writing island.”
So me and Billy (Forever Jobless) hit up the pool at my apartment at 8am with laptops for a “Blog Post Writing Party”! It may have been the nerdiest party in the WORLD at that moment!
I’m literally writing this post from the pool right now!!
It was actually damn fun, and Billy even said:
“I got more writing done today than I have in 4 months!”
If there’s any Austinite’s out there interested in joining me for this every once in a while, lemme know.
Changing your living space
I think changing your living space often signifies changing your life in some way.
I bought a super-kick-ass “Float” desk from HumanScale a few weeks ago, and it just arrived.
It’s awesome in several ways:
1.) It can quickly adjust to any height with a small lever.
2.) The work area is clean, all-white, and HUUUGGEE.
3.) The engineering behind it is awesome (it uses a counter-balance system that uses the weight of the stuff on your desk to move it up and down)….yet it’s all hidden inside the desk and you’d never know it. Basically it’s like a desk Apple would make!
It’s super-neat to go from standing to sitting in less than 2 seconds with this desk. Sometimes I prefer moving around and standing, but sometimes sitting down is necessary and more comfortable.
Screw all those “Standing” desks…..this one can do both!
The large size of the desk isn’t really conveyed in that picture. I’ve had it for a while now….and I can honestly say it’s been an awesome investment and really helped with productivity!
Also in the “changing your living space” department…….I needed some art for the loonngggest time but couldn’t find any. So I sat down and ordered two of the BIGGEST pieces of art from Ikea I could possibly find. I stuck one of them over a boring white wall above my bed:
It doesn’t look that big in the picture, but that picture is HUGE. It’s like 6.5 feet across.
I’m also making sure I make the bed every morning. I learned this trick from Gary Halbert:
Make your bed as SOON as you wake up in the morning, and you will already start the day off with a small win!
“Messy bed, Messy head.”
Those are a few things I’m doing to “get my mojo back”. Most of these things are more to mentally-psych myself into being productive once again.
Perhaps if you’re going through a period of time where you need this, you could take some inspiration from any of these tips.
P.P.S. Comment on this post with actions that helped your snap out of a sluggish phase in your life….I’ll physically ship 5 commenters NevBox’s (worth $97 each…and you can’t even buy them if you wanted to). Not only that, but your comment might give some poor soul trying to “figure things out” an idea that could change their life!
P.P.P.S. Please share/send this to anyone who could use a little “jump-start” in their life.
NOTE: I wrote this essay for people I’ve seen throughout life who’ve tried to escape problems in any way (drugs, alcohol, partying, stupid relationships etc).
You can also listen to it in audio format here:
WHY BEING UNHAPPY IS ONE OF THE GREATEST THINGS TO EVER HAPPEN TO HUMANS.
by: Neville Medhora
Most people try to focus on their happiness…we all have.
However, identifying what makes you happy is very hard. Here’s why:
Imagine you have no clue what you wanna do with your life.
So you get a job.
You like that job just enough not to quit….and justify to yourself that it’ll be “good experience for the future.”
Eventually the daily grind sets in, and you start looking for greener grass. You get another job….and for a while it’s SOOO much better than your last job.
But once again….you start yearning for greener pastures.
At this pace, it’s EXTRAORDINARILY unlikely that you’re going to find an occupation that makes you very happy. Every new job (or business) you try is just a crap-shoot with this method. You never know….sometimes the right thing will come along. But it’s MORE likely that you’ll go through many wasted years in this search….and might even turn up empty-handed.
Perhaps there might be a better way to find out what makes you happy. And that’s by finding out what makes you UNHAPPY.
Let me explain this method, and how you can find out what needs to be improved in your life. I’ll show you the simple method I use.
In fact, I personally use this method anytime I feel a bit unsatisfied. Whenever something in my life doesn’t feel totally right. Whenever I ask myself, “If these were my last few days on Earth, is THIS what I’d be doing?” ….and the answer is a flat out no.
Well, here’s the method:
First let’s divide up our lives into three parts:
That’s it. Health, Wealth, and Love.
Health is well….our overall health. How is it? Is our body in an optimal state? Are we feeding ourselves high quality fuel? How do we feel about our physical state? That is our health. Rate the current state of your health from 1 to 10.
The next part is Wealth. How happy are you with your finances? Are you very satisfied with your wealth? Satisfied with your income? Everyone always wants more….but how do you feel about the current level you’re at? Rate the current state of your wealth from 1 to 10.
The next part is Love. This refers to our relationships of all kind. With our family. With our partners. With our spouses. With our friends. How happy are we with all these relationships? Rate the current state of your love from 1 to 10.
So there we have it. We broke up our entire lives into three separate areas:
Health, Wealth & Love.
We’ve also rated each one of those items on a scale of 1 to 10.
1 being completely and utterly dissatisfied.
10 being extremely satisfied and it needs virtually no improvement.
Well? How did you do?
Almost always you’ll find at least one area that’s lower than you’d like it to be.
Now watch what happens here:
If there’s an area of your life that’s very high….such as a 9 on the scale….it seems you’re doing something very right.
Pretty much no action is needed in this case. However in the parts of your life that are low and disappointing…..you need to take action.
You need to take action because of your UNHAPPINESS. Not your HAPPINESS.
Did you see what we just did? We now know what steps need to be taken…thanks to our UNHAPPINESS.
Okay…we’ve identified some problem areas in your life….Now onto solving those low areas of your life…..
To obtain any goal, you must overcome what preventing that goal.
So by first identifying what makes you un-happy…. It increases your odds of finding what DOES make you happy.
Being complacent never motivated anyone to do anything. Being extremely unhappy however….has been the single greatest motivation for humans to take action EVER.
So you now have an exercise that can help you identify unhappy parts of your life. But this principle of unhappiness can be applied to almost any part of your life.
Remember, by identifying what makes you UNhappy, you can see what DOES make you happy.
For example, let’s say you don’t really enjoy your job. But you don’t know what else to do.
Well…let’s start at step 1 and find out what you DON’T enjoy about the job.
Perhaps you don’t enjoy that you’re always in one place and never get to travel. This part of your job is a serious issue for you.
Immediately you can only start researching jobs that involve lots of travel.
Or perhaps you don’t enjoy sitting behind a desk and not interacting with people. You’re a people person and you want to be in front of them all the time.
By seeing how this makes you unhappy, you can only search for jobs that involve lots of interaction and schmoozing.
Now it’s still up to you to develop the skills and talents needed to get a job of that type….but by paying attention to what makes you unhappy, you can at least guide yourself in the right direction.
So there it is.
An argument that identifying what you’re UNHAPPY about, can be more powerful than seeing what you ARE happy about. We can always somehow justify how lucky and happy we are at all times. And that positive outlook is great.
But I don’t see why identifying what’s making you unhappy has to be negative. It’s simply a problem you’re having at the time. And you’re in search of a solution.
Don’t identify what makes you unhappy just to complain about it…..identify what makes you unhappy and DO something about it. Swirl ideas around your head that help you solve the problem. Go seek out books and information that educate you more about the problem.
Is it a bad relationship that’s dragging the love part of your life down?
Seek out books about the problem you’re having to see what others have done. Or perhaps it’s time to completely exit the relationship…this can apply to significant others, family, roommates, friends, co-workers…anyone.
Is your health suffering because you’re not taking care of your body? Then take action by educating yourself about the subject, and implementing what you’ve learned. Even better, hire an expert to help you work through the problem. Use your extreme dissatisfaction with your health to take action.
Is your wealth not at a point you’d like it to be?
Then carefully analyze your situation to see why that may be. Are you working at a job that doesn’t pay much? Is there a small business you can start to make a little extra money on the side?
Use your dissatisfaction to research the hell out of the subject so you can get out of your low-income mindset and position in life.
Anyhow, let’s end this here……but I first want you to rate each part of your life again….to see where you could use the most improvement if any.
On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your Health, Wealth and Love.
Rate each one.
Write it down. Right now. It only takes a few seconds.
See which one you’re most dissatisfied with….and then you’ll know where to begin improving.
This is Neville Medhora. Goodnight.
I write this for two reasons:
1.) I am starting that 6-pack experiment in April and have begun preparing for it by eating ultra-clean and ultra-lean. Pretty much all day I’m eating 100% raw foods only…that’s not the plan for the whole month, but it’s been my diet for the last week. It’s not hard as I expected (because I’ve been eating well for a few months now), but keeping this up for a full month and resisting the urge to pig out at social events gets HARD.
However for the month of April I want to see a dramatic change in the way my stomach looks…and for that I need to be calorie deficient for weeks at a time. I can easily keep my current physique with the way I’m eating now, but my diet must be extra-ordinarily good to see those extraordinary results.
2.) As you know I own a business called House Of Rave which is all online. Over the last year I made a lot of small tweaks which cut down on the number of customer support inquires and time spent getting orders out. At a bare minimum I need to spend less than 30 minutes every weekday administering the site…the rest runs on it’s own. That alone can pay all my bills and still save money.
Pretty cool eh! 30 minutes of work per day!
Well…I also like the business to GROW….so to maintain AND grow the site takes about 2 hours per day (mainly spent adding product photo/video reviews).
I will admit…over these first few months of 2010 those small required amounts of time have spoiled me. I’ve stopped updating the site as much as I should. The 1st quarter is never a FANTASTIC time for a business like mine (which sells party supplies) and is also enduring a bad economy, but I think I’ve been slipping quite a bit on my responsibilities to it.
Extraordinary effort doesn’t necessarily mean long hours (although that certainly helps)….because with this business a very consistent tweaking of small things every day can make a HUGE impact. I’ve proved this many times, including one time I documented 30 small changes I made with very clear results (aka MO MONEY)!
I think what I’ll do in April is one day blog about a small HoR change, then the next day document the diet and steps I’ve taken to get a ripped-ass six pack.
Find merchant supplies and POS terminals at Moneris Solutions.
New account balances are as follows:
General Account – $ 1,357
Spending Account – $ 77
Spending Account 2 – $ 403
Investment Account – $ 2,523
Bill Account – $ 981
Permanent Savings – $ 5,549
Charity Account – $ 338
Stock Portfolio Value – $ 11,323
Roth IRA – $ 6,574
Emigrant Direct – $ 1,007
Total Liquid Assets – $ 30,132
Credit Card Balance – $ 0
Business Holding – $ 5,309
Total On Hand – $ 35,441
My first stock sale in a while occurred on Friday. I had a $23 limit order set for Syntel (SYNT), and made a profit of $681. I’m in the process of restructuring my portfolio, so I will start buying around October which is generally not a very hot month for the stock market.
I’ve accumulated $5,549 in my permanent savings account which is earning a very small amount of interest (less than 1%). I need to put some of this money back to work in low-risk areas.
I found the popular marketing blog Brand Autopsy pretty interesting, and recently asked the fellow Austinite John Moore to coffee. We met up and had a great conversation. After spending years in the marketing departments of Starbucks and Whole Foods, he really knows his stuff.
My income for April was pretty slim. Several stock shortages forced me to cancel several orders, leaving House of Rave profit at only $1,080 for the month. Ouch! I’m looking to correct that discrepancy this month.
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a huge event held in Austin. CEO’s and politicians were in abundance, but my favorites were Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer and Colin Powell. Unlike the speeches I usually attend which have mostly students present, the subject matter was much different. The resounding theme of this conference was: Making the world a better place through the use of technology.
I’ve never seen Michael Dell do a solo speech, but he was actually really good and pretty funny too. The day before his speech I got to speak with Mr. Dell one-on-one for about 3 minutes which was rather fun!
One of the distinguished guests at the conference was Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I’m not sure how to pronounce his name, but I managed to get two photos with him during a press conference! Much to my surprise, he actually looked a bit like the Prime Minister of Malaysia from the movie Zoolander!
I was really excited to see Steve Ballmer speak. He didn’t act like this, but he was still fun to hear. Once again, the speech was about improving the world through the use of technology, so it was mainly a speech about what Microsoft has done to help. I was already in the very front row, but I really wanted to snag a picture with him….no luck though:
My FAVORITE speaker through this entire event was by far Colin Powell. I thought a staunch, former Secretary of State would be speaking….instead the guy was an absolute comedian!! He had the whole place in laughter most of the time, all while peppering his speech with serious points. He’s 69 years old and has been doing this for years, and you could easily tell. I truly enjoyed the time he spent speaking. His speech was incredibly natural, he never used the teleprompter or stood at the podium and it seemed he honestly enjoyed being up on the stage doing his speech.