Try Something New

The other day I was a little thirsty. Had some work to do so I delayed my short trip to the kitchen as much as I could. After one or two hours, the thirst become really important to me, so I left my home office and went to the kitchen. To my surprise, there was only a small bottle of water left in the house. This is happening extremely rare as I am quite a freak when it comes to water, food and supplies. Well, I took a glass of water, pour the whole bottle in it, then put in on my table and start looking at it.

“If I don’t drink the water, I’ll have this glass full for a long time”, I thought. “It’s the only water I have in the house, so it’s really precious, must take good care of it”. But after a few seconds I realized I’m still thirsty. More and more thirsty.

“If I drink the water, I won’t be thirsty anymore. But I won’t have any water left in the house. I know in several hours I’ll be thirsty again, and then I won’t have this glass full of water. It will be empty. That means I should really go out and start looking for some fresh water. And I really don’t wanna do this right now.”

Learning To Let Go

I’m sure you laughed while reading the monologue above. You have all the reasons, it’s a weird monologue. A guy talking with his glass full of water is always funny, I know. But as thirsty as I was, I realized this monologue was something very common to me. It’s a monologue I play every time I’m afraid to try something new. Every time I’m on a safe environment and I’m enjoying it and try to squeeze everything out of it. I was really enjoying working on my office and the idea of getting out for some fresh water was really unpleasant.

And I realized I have to do it. As unpleasant as it seemed, it was something necessary for me. And I also realized that every environment is perishable. Each situation is finite. Trying to extend a pleasurable situation beyond its natural boundaries it’s not only useless, but most of the time quite impossible. You must accept this sooner or later. You have to drink the water and accept that you’ll have to find fresh water soon. You can’t rely on a single glass of water to quench your thirst for your entire life.

Keeping your game into a single playground will soon dry it out. If you don’t do something to constantly refresh your resources, you’ll empty your field by using it. If you don’t get out in the wild to get some water you’ll run out of it.

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Wasted Power

The worst thing that can happen to you is to realize that you have unlimited power. That you can do anything. That you can create everything you want. That there is nothing outside you and everything is inside, waiting to blossom. The worst thing is to realize that you’re here to create your own life. Why?

Because you’ll face some terrible questions.

Life Purpose

First question: what should I do with my life?

It’s so much easier to live without a purpose, thinking that you have limited powers, that your destiny was engraved in stone and you can’t do anything to change it. Asking questions like “what should I do with my life, now that I DO have the power to change it?” it’s a difficult process. Not everyone is ready to ask that question, and even less are ready to give an honest answer. It’s so much easier to put your entire life on somebody else’s plate.

Put it on your parents, they didn’t love you when you were a kid. Put it on the system, it’s making you a 9 to 5 slave. Put it on your spouse, for being lazy or angry or unconsidered. Put on your kids are they are here to steal your precious time, a time that you would otherwise spend on meaningless tv shows or useless gossip.

It’s easier to put the guilt on somebody else, it will free your consciousness and ease your pain. Why live a life with a purpose when there are so many difficulties? Why do something if somebody (your parents, spouse, kids, boss, this out-of-nowhere man) will prevent you for doing it? Why searching for a higher purpose when you can think you’re just a limited individual with limited power and limited beliefs?

Living a life without purpose, without accessing your enormous power is always a safer bet. Admit it: this concept of unlimited power doesn’t fit with your current lifestyle. So, it must not exist at all.

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The Gratitude Experiment – Conclusions

After almost a month since I started it, it’s time for me to write the conclusions for my gratitude experiment. Some of you may already have read a follow up on this but now it’s time to write the full conclusions. For those of you who came here directly I will shortly outline the core of the experiment, if you want to know more feel free to read the first and the second post.

Too keep a long story short: this gratitude experiment consisted in daily writing in a journal the things for which I am grateful. Being quite a geek in some areas, I chose to do this using some advanced technology like an iPhone and a specific application designed apparently exactly for that, a gratitude journal. Of course, if you ever want to start something similar you can do it with pen and paper, this is not even remotely about technology. It’s about you.

Gratitude Is Acknowledgement

It’s pretty difficult to define gratitude because of a strong cultural connotation caused by religion and / or spirituality. Gratitude has a lot to do with those areas, but it’s not entirely tied up to them. I think gratitude is only overlapping with those areas, is not contended by them. Every time you want to talk about gratitude you feel a little discomfort because it tends to take you out of the normal, day to day routine and put you into some serious and rigid realms like religion or spirituality.

We’re conditioned to perceive religion and spirituality as serious, almost limiting domains, some places where you should behave with humility, strive harder and generally lose all the fun in the life. Redemption, guilt or excessive frugality are common ground for all major religions and so we tend to act a little bit cautious toward it, unless of course, we do have a daily religious routine and we’re placing it very high in our value scale.

But gratitude is not only religion. In fact, gratitude is so flexible and versatile that sometimes appears to me to be quite the opposite from the fixed paths of religion. Gratitude is your way to tell the Universe it has been good to you. It’s an acknowledgment, it’s a confirmation you send back. It doesn’t have to be in a fixed form, nor to be contained in any ritual or structured philosophy. All it takes is to be honest.

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Travel As A Personal Development Tool – The How To

This is the second part of my short series about how to use travel as a personal development tool. I covered the “why’s” and the benefits of this in the first post, so if you came here directly you may want to read that too.

While started to work on this, I realized that travel as a personal development tool can be split into 2 main categories:

  • short rides around the city or at maximum 3-400 km away from home, which usually last less than a day
  • long trips, more than 3-4000 km, which last at least one week.

There are some differences between the those trips, at least from a personal development approach, so I will split my post accordingly.

Short Joy Rides

Those trips are fantastic perspective changers. I used to do unexpected rides all the time when I was feeling stressed or under pressure. After several months of doing this on purpose, my general approach toward my business completely changed. I switched from a very tense attitude to a more relaxed one and I was able to spot opportunities much easier.

From my experience, you should use this whenever you have feelings of lack of time or pressure. Sounds very counter-productive and somehow like escapism, but is not. Just start a short ride around the city, drive around or walk if you want. You can even take public transportation like urban trains or trams. Just go there, be with the flow and give your mind a break. Do this for at least 3 or 4 hours. Don’t even dare to think that this time could be better used if you “worked”. You’re still working during those rides, you’re only doing it differently.

The trick here is to do this on purpose and for several weeks / months in a row. Yes, you got it right, you must make a habit out of it. Sounds strange to make a habit out of short trips, but believe me, it works. You don’t have to come to the end of the rope and try it as a last resort, just do it while you’re still able to think it clear. Because you still have the capacity to shift your focus from your problems (what is pressuring you) to your solutions (what could free you).

The other key point is to not plan your itinerary, just go in the car and ride the road you see in front of you. Let yourself caught in the road, stop your mind and enjoy what you see. Extract yourself from your current flow of habits, break your unconscious walls and immerse yourself into the unknown. After 3-4 hours, return home. That’s it. As I said, it’s very important to this for at least several weeks in a row.

Short trips without an established goal worked fantastically well for me. Helped me to achieve a better clarity and sensitivity. My work actually improved, both in terms of performance and volume during that period, so I never feel I lost time during those trips.

The best image I can use is something that comes out of the fog. This is how I felt after several weeks in which I follow the habit of short 3-4 hours trips.

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Working Out Your Money Muscles

Playing the money game is something really fun, when you do it with an easy heart. And by that I mean that whenever you focus only on the money part and lose the game part you derail yourself from a path of joy and learning. Making money is just something you do in the process of creating value. The focus must always be at creating value, not at money.

In today’s post I’ll share some of my money game experiences, I will show how money can be compared with a fitness workout and I’ll take a closer look at one very scary notion related to money, and that would be debt.

The Money Game

For me money is just a source of energy. I wrote about that before so if you want to know how you can make money with a purpose, just go and read that post and return here a little later. If you already read it, than you know what I mean: each time you interact directly with money, you break an energy flow. And direct interaction with an energy flow can be really dangerous. You should consider using switches for manipulating money, the same way you manipulate switches for electricity, in order to light your room or make it warmer.

Money is just a part of a game, is something you use in the process, is not the process itself, nor the goal of your actions. People tend to forget this and they do it especially when one part of the game become a little naughty: when they are caught in debt.

Debt and win are just two faces of the same coin (ironically, I use a money object in order to describe a money concept). If you win money in the process of creating value that simply means you have more resources than you had in the beginning. If you used more money than you had at a certain point, well, you just created a debt. The problem with debt is that is very often perceived like a threat or a burden. And it surely is, as long as you don’t know the value you created with that debt. If you used that money in order to build something, you created a certain value. (If you didn’t and just spend it on a shallow lifestyle, well, that’s another problem and your debt should really be a problem for you.) But if you created value, your only question is:

Is my created value bigger than my debt?

If the answer is “yes”, you’re on the safe side, and the money game is working for you. If the answer is “no”, well, you should do your best to create more value.

That’s what makes the difference between successful people and losers. Successful people know all the time if their created value exceeds or not their financial debt. And most of the time, that value is well over the debt. Losers (sorry for the term, but it’s the most appropriate term I found for this category) never know where their created value is compared with their debt. At the first sign of a debt they consider something is wrong and stop doing everything, start complaining, become irrational or simply run away.

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Managing Abundance

So, you want more. Good for you. You want more time, more money, more stuff, more satisfaction, more life. Great! You strive for abundance which, by the way, happens to be our natural state as human beings. But are you prepared for that? Are you really ready to enjoy what you wish?

I’m not talking from a philosophical, law-of-attraction-ish standpoint. I’m talking from a very practical, day to day approach for managing your future abundance. If you consciously chose abundance and if you achieve it honestly, then you have to be able to actually manage it.

During my life I had several abundance thresholds. When I left home and came in my country’s main town to study, I had virtually nothing. I worked during my studies and I successfully managed to financially sustain myself during that time, and I did it more than decent. During next years I passed over several abundance milestones: from going out of the student’s hostel to rent my own apartment, later to buy my own apartment, and even later to move into my own house. Which, by the way, I discovered I had to clean a lot.

Each time I reached those milestones I faced several challenges. Each time I had to cope with a bigger flow of stuff coming into my life. But it wasn’t only stuff, it was more than that. I realized that abundance can walk into your life by taking one of the following three shapes. There is another one, the 4th shape, but I reserved a special chapter to it, at the end of this post.

1. You can have more stuff: 2 cars instead of one, a house instead of an apartment, more gadgets, more clothes, more things – you know the drill…
2. You can have more action: going to the gym, socializing in a different way, making appearance to new events, doing something completely new – everything that your new status requires from you to do in order to keep it up and running
3. You can be involved in new relationships: new friends, new social positions for you, a pool guy, a maid, a chauffeur, or just new persons that needs your constant attention

Don’t laugh. Or if you laugh just keep reading because this is about you and the abundance you are eager to achieve. It will include all this stuff. It will change your life. It will challenge you at a very deep level. It’s ok to laugh, as long as you’ll be prepared.

Failing to realistically manage your abundance can have unpleasant consequences. You can find yourself overwhelmed and lose track of your possessions, or you can fail in managing your new level of relationships and let your wealth slip through your fingers. Or you can be fooled into a “don’t deserve this because I don’t don’t know how to handle it” pattern, which is even worse than the first situation.

So here comes the practical advice:

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The Making Of An Online Business – Partnerships

This is the 5th article of the Making Of An Online Business series and it will deal with your partnerships. After talking about your projects, teams and money, it’s time do dig a little on your alliances, associations, or, in other words, partnerships.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles in this series by clicking on the links below:

What’s A Partnership?

A partnership is at the organizational level what your team is at your human resources level. As the words imply, it is a resource, a complementary resource that will provide more value to your business.

Generally speaking, a partnership is an alliance in which each part is providing specific values to the other parts. It is based on trust, acceptance and common goals or resources. A partnership is a temporary association of two or more organizations in order to attain a specific goal faster or with fewer resources consumption.

Why Partnerships?

I will say this again, until it will be really clear: online is the most dynamic business context ever. Things are happening lightening fast. Like really lightening fast. Keeping the old individualistic approach of “I’m the best in my field” won’t work anymore. Because you can’t be the best in your field anymore. You can only offer a slightly more interesting perspective than your competition, and even that only for a limited time.

If you want to increase your market penetration, you have to let go a little on your ego and trust on partnerships. I’m not saying to rely exclusively on partnerships, but treat them at least as necessary tools for expansion.

The real trick here is to chose your partners extremely carefully. They must operate in the same business context as you, but they don’t have to make the same things as you. They will be, of course, your competition, in this case. I can’t believe how many people ignore this simple and apparently dumb rule when they are going out for partners. And they do that by either trying to partner with the competition (not a bad thing for a desperate business, by the way) either by going for partnerships way too far from their audience.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Money

This is the 3rd article from The Making Of An Online Business series, and it will focus on the money part. If you’re looking for a way to monetize your project, I covered this topic in the second article of the series, about creating and maintaining online projects, which you can find on the link list below.

This post will deal with my way of interacting with money as an online entrepreneur. There are tons of other blogs or courses from where you can learn the basics of money management, so don’t expect to find that kind of information in this article. Instead, expect to find some fresh approach to money interaction as a whole, applied to an online business.

If you came here directly I encourage you to read the rest of the articles and the summary by following the links below:

Start Your Own Business
The Making Of An Online Business – The Series
The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects
The Making Of An Online Business – The Team

Money Is Hot

From the early beginning I will tell you that I always felt money is hot. Meaning I can’t really keep it in my hand. In fact, money was so hot for me than I rarely saw it in big piles. Every time I had a serious amount of money available I was reinvesting it like the next second. Please note the difference: spending versus reinvesting.

And it was a good decision. By reinvesting the money in my own business I accomplished at least 3 good things:

1.  I always had new projects coming

This is crucial in the online. As I wrote before, online has the highest availability degree you can imagine, higher than any other business field, but it has also the tiniest loyalty mark, so your audience can be stolen away almost instantly. You have to be able to offer new things, you have to innovate, to re-create stuff. And fueling your R & D department with generosity is the easiest way to keep you on top.

Don’t expect that any projects you launch to be a success. But do expect to learn from any of your projects, both successful or unsuccessful. Spending money on new projects is like paying for your own education.

2. I soon learned that money is a resource not a goal

Too often money is seen as a goal. Blame the modern society, consumerism, your mom and dad. You can’t deny that, everybody judge success by the amount of money you have in the bank. But if you have the courage to not pile money out of your business and reinvesting it back, treating it like a resource, you will grow your business. And in the end that’s the only thing that matters.

You can win a lot of money out of one project and then get scared not to loose it and stop reinvesting it in new projects. Big and dumb mistake. Money is not the stake, growth is the stake.

3. I always had to closely watch the money flow

Starting new projects constantly makes for a great financial discipline, because you really have to know all the time if you do have enough resources to keep you going. I learned to maintain a constant money discipline, and that thing is benefiting me now tremendously. I always know how much money I have, even if you wake me in the middle of the night.

Knowing how much money you have, how much money you can spend and how much money you will make out of something has nothing to do with scarcity. It’s a transparent mindset that keeps you connected. It’s like always knowing your resources and potential and avoid walking on thin ice.

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The Making Of An Online Business – The Projects

This is the second article in the series about managing an online business. It will focus on what you actually do in an online business, how can you measure it, the various stages of each project and how you can monetize your work. If you came here directly you can go back to the summary of the whole series or you can start with the first article which deals with starting your own business.

Please keep in mind that this post is rather long, more than 3000 words, so  make sure you are away from interruptions when start reading it. If you can’t read it now, you can bookmark it and come back later.

Online Processes

More than in any other business, in the online universe, a product (i.e. a website) is more like a process and not like an object.

If you are in the furniture business, you’re selling objects. A chair, a table, a couch. Every once in a while you change a little the design, but you are largely selling objects.

In the online field, you sell things which are continuously shaping. An online service is by definition dynamic. Your websites need continuous upgrade, otherwise they will fade as importance and eventually lose their audience.

The online has a high availability, which means your potential audience is huge. But the online has also a high volatility degree, which means that the potential huge audience is very easy to be moved toward your competitors.

Online Projects Metrics

You need a way to quantify the behavior of your websites in order to measure their success. Otherwise you’ll be lost in the jungle of millions of other websites, portals, forums, blogs or online shops. I worked with only three main online project metrics:

– traffic, the total number of users that accessed that website in a given time interval
– money, the total amount of money that website produced in a given time interval
– resource consumption, how many resources (people, money, assets) that website consumed in a given interval.

Although it seems pretty straightforward, the way in which those three metrics can combine is infinite. You can have projects with minimal traffic but with good money flow in. You can have websites with little or no money in, but with huge traffic (I guess the most famous example is YouTube in this area). Or you can have websites with zero resource consumption (auto-pilot websites) with no money in and just a decent traffic. but still consider them as successes. Each combination of those factors can play a role in the bigger picture and you must not overlook any possible outcome.

Now, let’s take each metric and see how you can interpret it.

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