The Three Month Vacation Podcast: Online Small Business|Marketing Strategy Plan| Sean D'Souza | Psychotactics

How do you win when your back is against the wall? Will aggression help or should you use something else, like questions? Questions play a role, but nothing does the job quite like calibrated questions. In this second part of negotiation strategy we find out exactly the questions you need to ask to get the information you need to get your negotiation to work out stunningly well.

Direct download: 181-_Why_Calibrated_Questions_Enable_You_To_Win_Your_Negotiation_Battle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Imagine you're dealing with a terrorist or hijacker who has captives and threatens to blow up everything if you don't agree with his demands. How would that knowledge help when negotiating with a boss, a client or perhaps your own kids? And how are you supposed to remember what steps to take? That's exactly what we'll cover in this episode—and you'll get to hear how we applied this learning just a few days ago (and got to a perfectly great settlement). Listen away!

Direct download: 180-Negotiation_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Is it really possible to get a surge in sales with products? And are product sales similar or different from services? In this episode we go exclusively into the sale of products. But more importantly, you get to see where you need to dig to create the power of your headline and how the consequences that follow make a massive difference. Listen and read to this episode. You'll enjoy it.

Direct download: 179-How_To_Increase_Product_Sales_using_The_Brain_Audit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07am +12

So much effort goes into the launch of a product, but what happens next? How do you handle the calm after the launch? How do you keep selling products on an ongoing basis? These are the questions we tackle in this episode as we get rid of the "post-launch" blues.

Read the article online: How To Sell A Product When There’s No Scarcity Factor

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Do you like cold pizza?

Apparently, some people do. They eat pizza, leftover pizza, the next day and they thoroughly enjoy it over breakfast. Some people eat it as a snack, while others may eat it for lunch or dinner. What's the point of this pizza discussion, you may ask? The pizza analogy is to demonstrate that barring some exceptions; pizza is almost always treated as some kind of food.

A similar sort of concept applies to selling a product.

Often, people believe that selling a product is entirely different from a service. Or that selling training, a workshop or course, for example, must somehow be different from selling info-products online. The reality is sales is sales—pretty much like pizza.

There are various situations in play, but by and large, whether you're selling a dump truck, a $20,000 course or a pizza, the principles are remarkably similar. You launch a product or service when it's ready. You get a few, possibly a fair number of sales. And then what?

This article is about the “then what” that occurs right after you've done your launch

And the reason for all that “pizza preamble” is because the example you're about to read about involves a digital information product, namely, The Brain Audit. When we launched

The Brain Audit back in 2002, we had no clue what we were doing. To put things in perspective, Google was just four years old, YouTube didn't exist, and hardly anyone bought anything online, let alone an e-book that was twice the cost of a hardback that you could get in a bookstore.

We launched The Brain Audit, then we waited. And nothing much happened.

A similar concept might apply to whatever you're selling, whether it's a product or service. You'll launch the product and wait, but find that nothing seems to happen. How are you supposed to keep selling the product/service for years on end? Do you create scarcity all the time, or will it get old and tired? Will clients get fed up with your tactics?

This series outlines the things we've done with The Brain Audit, just because it's our most enduring product

However, just to give you a framework so that we're all on the same page, we've sold services too. We've sold consulting, both one on one, as well as group consulting. We've sold seminars and workshops, courses like the info-product course or the Article Writing Course.

And as you'd expect, e-books, videos and audio—both digital and physical, as well as to sell a membership site like 5000bc. In short, while this story is mainly about The Brain Audit, it's really a “pizza story”. You can quickly and efficiently apply these steps. And they are steps. They take time, often months and years.

But that's the reason you're reading this article, aren't you? You've created a product or service, and you don't want it to languish on the bottom shelf, do you? You want it to sell on an ongoing basis.

Let's find out how we rolled out The Brain Audit. Let's go all the way back to 2002, shall we?

Stage 1: You've launched the product; now what?

The moment after the launch can often be a thud.

Nothing happens, simply because nothing is supposed to happen. All the clients who intended to buy your product at launch stage bought your product or service. Those who hesitated, stay in the wings and what you're faced with, is an unreasonable amount of nothingness.

This is true for any product, like software, a new kind of shampoo, or for that matter a workshop announcement. There's a bit of a spike at the launch, and then there's nothing.

We were faced with this nothingness factor when we first sold The Brain Audit

Except our launch was a bit different. We simply put up a sales page, and one person came along and bought the e-book. It took us totally by surprise. And so we'd sell a book here and a book there, often selling twenty or thirty books speaking at local events in Auckland.

Nonetheless, the slow pace of sales can't be sustained forever. There are two primary reasons why an increase in activity is essential. The first and I think the most important is that a client that doesn't read your information will often go elsewhere.

To me, getting that client to understand that information was far more important than just seeing yet another sale. Nonetheless, the sales matter too. Which is why both of these factors are vital. Your product partially brings a client into your “fold”, your way of thinking but it also helps create revenue. Even so, there's a lot of “nothing” that happens once you've launched your product.

Which is why you need to prepare for both the drip and the next launch

The drip is your newsletter or any method you keep in touch with your clients. At first, we'd send out one newsletter a month with an article. Then we changed it to twice a month and finally a weekly.

We then moved it to twice a week, once on Tuesday and the other on Saturday (no, there's no logic for the days chosen). But to go back to the very start, all we'd do is send out the newsletter and then add a little blurb—an interesting blurb—at the end of the article. It would say something like: “Aren't clients odd?

They nod at all the right times, agree with what you're selling, and then suddenly don't buy. Or worse, buy from someone else. What causes such behaviour? Find out what's going on in the brain of the client with The Brain Audit (and there'd be a link). That little blurb would cause the drip purchase. A few people would buy the product with every e-mail. As we increased the frequency of the e-mails, the sales of the product went up as well.

Then we'd announce a bonus sale several times a year.

We'd package The Brain Audit along with a few other goodies or bonuses and offer it to our list. The bonuses always did the trick. We'd get a tidy spurt in sales with every launch. Right from the very start, we tried to put ourselves in our client's shoes. We didn't want to be in their face all the time with all of these launches, which is why we'd send out an offer twice or thrice a year.

If we went really nuts, it would be four times a year. And just for good measure, we'd pick days that were supposedly bad days. For instance, one of our e-mails would go out on Christmas Day. No one is supposed to be checking e-mail on that day, but our sales would be extremely high. A few launches like this for The Brain Audit and we were well on our way to creating the leverage we were looking to achieve.

The key is not to get too predictable

If you know there's going to be a sale or some goodies, would you buy something earlier and forfeit the goodies? Which is why we kept the announcements of such sales, unpredictable. It ensured that clients bought through the year in small batches and then we'd see a spurt in sales. However, there's a bit of a downside to this strategy as well.

If you don't put in the dates in your calendar, you'll see the months fly by without the bonus sale happening. We'd often “wake up” to find half the year gone and we'd forgotten to announce a bonus sale. We now have the entire year planned to make sure this kind of periodic amnesia doesn't recur.

There's a little note about the bonuses too

When we began, we only knew what we saw around us. And everyone would pile up a ton of bonuses. Monkey see, and monkeys do, so we did the same. In time, we realised that a single bonus is enough. However, there's a significant point to consider, which is to have a must-have bonus. Every product or service has must-have items, yet they're often included as part of the package.

Unbundling the item from the product or service and offering it as a bonus, is an excellent first move. However, you then have to take the time and effort to describe the bonus in detail, almost as if the bonus were the main item; almost like the primary item doesn't exist.

We weren't always brave enough to keep one bonus over the years.

For instance, the Article Writing Course has many bonuses, just as a matter of legacy. We put it there, and now we haven't removed it, but by and large, when announcing the bonus sale, a superior move would be to choose or create one bonus and then push that bonus to the hilt, so that the client must have the bonus, no matter what. And all, or most of this selling is done through your own channel, most often your e-mail newsletter.

Your newsletter is easily the most powerful way to drip sell and to sell a bonus version of your product or service. However, it's not the only way. The other way is to get onto someone else's platform. Let's explore how to sell via someone else's list, without making a big hullabaloo about it.

2: If you have a podcast or videos or anything, keep repeating the name of ONE product over and over again.

Many years ago when I first started in advertising, I read a book by David Ogilvy. Ogilvy was a master at promotion, but he came about it the hard way. He had to sell products door to door and work out what caused customers to buy.

One of the things that he seemed to underline to aspiring copywriters was an idea of consistency. And my memory is a bit hazy because I read those books back in 1990, but it went something like this: You'll need to follow up about nine times. And it's not because the client is not paying attention. It's just that she or he is lost in their own problems.

Which is why repetition is a must in your newsletter, but it's easy to go off track in other media

When you're sending out a newsletter, and if you do it on a frequent basis, you're going to think about including your product. You could either add the links to the product as part of the editorial, below the editorial (right at the end) or do a sales pitch several times a year.

However, when it comes to other media, that factor of repetition might not be as consistent. Take the podcast for example. When we started the Three-Month Vacation podcast, I'd mention products, courses and workshops right at the end of every podcast in the section called, “What's happening in Psychotactics land?” However, the choice of product or service being offered would not always be consistent.

Then at one point we decided to create a format of sorts

Every podcast would talk about 5000bc, no matter what else was trying to hog the spotlight. Let's take the Houston workshop we're conducting in the last week of October. That would need to get into the podcast, but even so, 5000bc would be mentioned, even once the Houston workshop promotion ceases. In short, you want to get the same message over and over and over—and over again.

But do you say the same thing?

Essentially, yes. I always say “5000bc is filled with introverts and that I'm the extrovert”. However, the tone or the message may change from time to time. At times, there may be an example from 5000bc or a story that's related to 5000bc, but the core message of “introverts” and “5000bc” stays doggedly on target. You too need to change the angle but keep the story consistent.

Let's take an example of The Brain Audit

If you were to drive home one message from The Brain Audit, it would be about “hesitation”. It's about why the client gets hesitant. Why at the last minute she goes from being not sure and not buying your product or service. That concept of hesitation has to be drummed in, over and over again.

However, let's take a chapter from The Brain Audit. Let's talk about the concept of “uniqueness”. How does the concept of “uniqueness” and “hesitation” relate? Or what if you picked a chapter like “objections”. How do “hesitation” and “objections” relate to each other? Did you buy a 99c app online? Did you spend 3 hours and possibly six days wondering if you should buy that app or not? What caused you to hesitate?

With 5000bc, the message of introverts represents “a safe place”.

All the messaging about 5000bc has to be about it being safe. And what does “being in a safe zone” mean to most people? It means it's different from other places online where there's hacking and hustling, pimping and pumping.

It's the polar opposite of people trying to climb over one another to get noticed. It's a place where you can be heard and treated with respect. Both 5000bc and The Brain Audit have a consistent message as do most of the products and services on Psychotactics.

All of the consistency comes from “one wordWhen you examine your product or service, it will almost always seem to represent more than one word. Take The Brain Audit for example. It could be about hesitation, but it could also be about “speedier conversion”.

If you have a service like a yoga class, you might achieve mindfulness, flexibility, injury-free. You could end up with three, four, even a dozen ways to explain your business. The big mistake most people make is they use two or three, and in the process, they don't get a single message across.

A single message sent out repeatedly is what sticks in the brain of the client. And that's what you need to put in your podcast or video.

I say video, or podcast, but the application doesn't matter

You might be using webinars, speaking to live audiences, or getting your message through social media. The consistency is what is going to bring you repeated sales. The consistency of the “one word/one idea” is the ONLY thing that's going to cut through the clutter. When the client runs into flexibility issues, they're not thinking of mindfulness.

Drum home that one message and you'll get the point across. Then take the same message into videos, podcasts, speaking, webinars or any medium that you're going to employ in the future.

However, it's not enough to do a sales pitch. In almost every situation, you also need to embed the product or service within your content. Let's find out how.

3: Embedding the information within the editorial

Russian dolls.

You've seen those Matryoshka Russian dolls, haven't you? Also known as nesting dolls, it's a set of wooden dolls inside each other. You open one doll to find another smaller doll within, the smaller doll reveals yet another smaller doll, and so on. It's like one doll embedded into the other.

When it comes to selling your product or service, it's a lot like embedding the information within the editorial content, with one prominent difference. The embedded information doesn't necessarily get smaller. If you do it right, you can take all the time and space you need to get your point across.

Let's get right to the example, shall we?

If you've been following this series, you'll notice that there was an entire discussion about 5000bc, our membership site. You got told how 5000bc was for introverts and got other bits of information about 5000bc.

Then, there was a follow up of The Brain Audit, which is also a product being sold on the Psychotactics site. In effect, you were introduced to two products, and if you paid close attention, the sales page/landing page workshop was brought up as well. Yet, you may have also noticed something else.

You didn't resent the information at all. If you're already a member of 5000bc, you are happy that your decision to be a member has been reinforced. If you've already read The Brain Audit (thrice as suggested), then you don't resent the information. And the workshop: that too would have caught your interest if you wanted to attend a Psychotactics workshop in October.

In short, the entire piece in part 2 was embedded as a form of a sales pitch, as well as the information you just read in the past paragraph. What makes it so non-confrontational is that it's giving you information that is useful to you. If you imagine a photographer conducting a workshop, you'll know exactly what I mean.

Let's say that photographer is a stockist for some lenses. And during the workshop, she can either talk about the lenses and give you the prices, or she can do something quite sublime. She can introduce you to the lenses, let you see them, play with them, even use them on your camera. Not everyone will be captivated, of course, but some will. And in embedding that information, she's got prospects who move over to clients.

Think of that yoga class we mentioned earlier

What could you do in the yoga class? Maybe you're having a weekend session. You could say it during the class itself. It's possible you are selling some new yoga books that you've sourced.

Often enough you don't even have to mention the books. You could simply display them on a stand, and you'd get clients wanting to buy the product. However, not everyone notices or gets why one book is better, or why they should join one membership site over the other. And it's why editorial is so very crucial.

When you explain concepts using the editorial format, the client gives you lots of time to drive home your information. Try doing a sales pitch as long, and many, if not most of the clients will tune out immediately.

However, there's one more point to pay attention to when bringing up your product or service

You can't merely keep the spotlight on yourself. Notice that Psychotactics doesn't have yoga classes. It doesn't sell photography lenses, either. Even so, you ran into those examples and for two good reasons. The first big reason is that more examples let the client get a better picture.

If you're embedding examples of info-products and courses, for instance, a lot of clients may not make the leap. But as you add more examples, like yoga and photography, you're creating depth in your presentation. You're giving them examples of both products and services, and you're doing something even more critical.

You're moving the spotlight away from you for a little bit. Once you've embedded your information, it's time to move on and give other examples, just to level the playing field a bit. Clients don't feel like they're stuck in an unending sales/editorial sequence.

Embedding sales information in your product isn't hard to do

Once again, you can use it not only in your articles but also in your video, podcasts, webinars and every other media. Even a casual social media post can show a bunch of camera lenses or photo equipment. Or it can mention a workshop that you're thinking of having in New Zealand.

Whatever the eventual goal, you don't have to get stuck with just trying to sell. You can also use plain ol' editorial to keep selling products through the year. You may not sell in huge volumes when mentioning the product or services through the year.

Your sales won't see any great spike. However, that doesn't mean your clients aren't paying attention. These embedded pieces of information are getting through, and when you finally do your sales pitch or your sales email, all of this hard work will pay off.

There's really no downside to embedding like a Matryoshka doll. You've created great content, have sound examples and have moved strategically towards greater sales of your products and services.

Next Up: Find out the magic that already exists within your existing info-product and why you don't have to keep crazily searching for newer clients all the time. Find out how  you can really double your sales of a product you've created a while ago?

Direct download: 178-How_to_have_Enduring_Sales_After_the_Launch_of_a_Product.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

How do you sleep in an exceedingly noisy environment?

How do you beat jet lag? These are some of the questions we've had for years. This episode shows you how we've stumbled on a few nifty tricks to make travel so much better.


Read online: https://www.psychotactics.com/travel-tips/

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My friend loves egg curry

And though I've learned over the years to make complex Indian dishes like biryani, peeling a humble hard-boiled egg seemed to be beyond my control. So here's what I did. I tapped the egg dozens of times so that it looked pretty much like a parched field.

Six eggs probably had six hundred fragments with that insane tapping of mine, and it took me about half an hour to peel six eggs. Then I went on YouTube and found that all you had to do was tap the egg once on the kitchen bench and roll it forward and the entire peel would unfold in a matter of seconds.

That's tip. A nifty tip.

And since we travel so much every year, we've picked up some of these goodies along the way. Let's take on four of them. Some of them we've been using for years, and some we picked up just on this vacation to Sri Lanka and India. Here are the four, all in a row.

1: How to entirely sidestep jet lag
2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs)
3: A travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys)
4: Why travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet).

1: How to completely sidestep jet lag

In 2010, we conducted a series of workshops based on The Brain Audit. It seemed simple enough. The first three- day workshop was in California, the second just outside Washington D.C and the third in Vancouver. There was just one problem. All three workshops were in a span of approximately two weeks.

This meant that we had to fly economy (we fly exclusively business now, but back then we flew economy) from Auckland to California. That's a distance 10,492 km and 12 hours. We conducted our first three day workshop in Campbell, California and then flew to Washington D.C.

You see the problem unfolding, right?

The time difference between Auckland and California can be between 3-5 hours. You land in a different time zone, have little or no time to get used to the difference and you're off to Washington D.C, which is three hours ahead. And Vancouver? Yes, Vancouver is three hours behind.

All of this meant that we were zipping back and forth between time zones, and bear in mind we had 3 workshops to conduct and no time to get used to jet lag.

Except there's where our first nifty trick comes into play

It's called No-Jet-Lag. They're tiny little pills you take every two hours on the flight. So if our flight was 12 hours long, we had to take 6 of those pills for the journey. There's just one problem: homeopathy isn't supposed to work. The dosage is so tiny in any homeopathic prescription that most doctors will tell you that it's a sham.

Do we care? Of course not, because for years we've been having these pills on flights, stepping out on the other side and getting right into the time zone.

To give you an extreme example, we were speaking at an event in Sweden in 2017

Sweden is the “polar opposite” of time zones for us, because there's about a 12 hour difference. We flew from New Zealand to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Stockholm and the entire trip, if I recall, was 39 hours door to door.

The day after we landed, I was to give an hour-long presentation at around 3 pm. If you do your calculations correctly, that's 3 am New Zealand time (plus you do have to wake up, shower and go through some practice runs).

We don't have the time or the energy to argue with whether homeopathy works or not

All we know is that we travel a lot every year, crisscrossing the globe for work, but mostly on vacation. International travel is tiring and No Jet Lag won't help you with the tiredness. It's like being in a car. If you travel 12 hours, it feels like 12 hours.

However, you don't feel like you've changed so many time zones. For me, especially, this is important, because more often than not, a Psychotactics workshop will be three days long. It's one thing to get on stage and give an hour long speech, but quite another to be on your feet (and awake) for three whole days.

There are no doubt, many methods to beat jet lag

One ex-air hostess said she doesn't eat or drink anything on the flight. Sorry miss, but we love our champagne and the food helps us pass the time on these very long trips out of New Zealand.

We've used No Jet Lag since 2004, and it's worked just fine for us, so we'll stick to our weird little formula.

There's one downside, however

No, it's not to do with the ingredients. Instead it's more to do with keeping to a plan. Before I leave, I set alarms on my phone to go off every two hours until we reach our destination. That way I can be sure we don't miss the two-hour cycle.

Apparently, you can take it every four hours if you're asleep, but not many of us sleep for hours on a flight, hence the alarms keep us on track. The instances where these tablets haven't worked is when we've been sloppy and popped them whenever we feel like it.

Like this trip, returning back from India. We didn't keep to an alarm plan and we were waking up at 3 am for about a week. Do your due diligence and you're likely to still be exhausted, but at least nicely ensconced in the new time zone.

No Jet Lag is made in New Zealand, so pretty much every medical store and travel store has it on display. If you go to their website at http://www.nojetlag.com/where-to-buy-No-Jet-Lag.html, you can find out where it's available. Try it.

And that's it. Our first nifty travel tip. The second one is pretty cool, though because noise is just part of travel. How do you sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs)? Get ready for a story that you're just not expecting.

2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without earplugs)

Let's assemble some speakers, shall we?

Let's take a speaker, the size of your desk. Then let's add another speaker on top. Then just for good measure, let's add two more huge speakers on the other side and turn them on at full blast. Do you think you'd be able to sleep through the night?

When we travelled through Sri Lanka, we ran into some exquisite hotels and villas

However, nothing was quite as nice as Apa Villa. A huge mansion-like villa, it seemed to be surrounded by forest. Almost without fail, as you were seated for breakfast, you'd have wildlife of all sorts not more than 50 metres away.

Monkeys, peacocks, monitor lizards and the occasional mongoose, they all were part of this jungle scenario. And in the middle of it was Apa Villa, in all its luxury—but mostly, quiet. Quiet that we luxuriated in.

Then on the last day something happened that would shatter that quiet

The place had been rented out for a big, noisy party that would start at 9 pm and go on until 7:30 am. And those speakers, that wall of speakers, was aimed right towards our room.

And where there's a party, there are people drinking, talking and getting louder every minute. Except for the fact that we mostly slept through most of the noise.

The secret is white noise

The moment this concept is brought up, most people nod and smile. They know what white noise is all about. It's a sound created by say, the hum of an air conditioner. Or the sound of the sea. However, most people don't think of battling noise with more noise.

Instead, what they tend to do is try and reach for earplugs. Which, if you're someone like me, is a pointless exercise. Not only am I a light sleeper, but I damaged my right ear, using cotton buds when I was younger. I can't sleep with anything in my ear as it just hurts.

Enter the white noise app

We turned it on loud, to the sound of rain. At first, it might seem too loud for your ears, but your brain soon adjusts to it. And in doing so it tunes out the rest of the noise almost completely.

Think of it as being at a party. Someone across the room mentions your name and your attention is instantly focused on that person, instead of paying attention to the discussion right in front of you. White noise—and yes, there's an app for it—does exactly that function.

It helps your brain focus on the rain—or whatever sound you prefer, and tunes out the rest.

We slept through the party in Sri Lanka

We slept through the noisy clatter of feet in Leiden, in the Netherlands.
We even slept with a jackhammer going outside our hotel window in Goa, India.

Few hotels in the world have true soundproofing

And the more you travel, the more you realise how much you crave silence on your vacation. Well, there you have it. Battle noise with white noise and you'll have a restful sleep.

In fact, don't just use it on vacation. You can even use it at home when your neighbour has decided to create his own wall of speakers to party through the night.

3: A travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys)

Many people go on vacation from Point A to Point B.

If that's the case, you don't need much help, do you? However, if your travel plans are a bit like ours, you're going to need a bit of help. And incredibly, that help is free in an app called TripIt.

The app works like a really efficient secretary. As you book hotels, cars, and other elements on your vacation, you tend to get an e-mail with the confirmation.

All you have to do is forward that e-mail to TripIt

The moment you forward it, it will collate all the information from that e-mail and order it sequentially in the app. This means if you're headed to Auckland on Thursday, via Air New Zealand, then staying at an Airbnb, and picking up a car at 2 pm, the app will slot all of these activities in chronological sequence.

All the details, booking numbers, directions—anything contained in the e-mail will all be put in neat little sections so that you can dig deeper into your reservations as well.

If you've forgotten to book a room, TripIt pays attention

As soon as you open the app, it nudges you with a paid link. You are likely to ignore the paid link, but it's enough of a red flag to get you book your accommodation for the night.

If you choose to opt for their paid service (which isn't much at $45 or so, per year) you'll get a lot more features that all help the frequent traveller. If you're not a frequent traveller and just a complicated traveller like me, then the free version works just as well.

But what about your privacy?

Obviously all of this information is sitting somewhere in a server. Someone could get all of this information and use it for nefarious purposes. They know where you're going, what you're doing, etc. Isn't that dangerous?

Yes, it's dangerous, but if someone really wants to track where you're going; if they're really motivated, there are many ways to get that information. The moment you start booking things online; or rather the moment you went online fifteen or twenty years ago, your privacy was private no more.

There's always the option of keeping all the information in a printed format with your passport, but if you're into digital apps, this is the way to go.

That's nifty trip no.3. Shall we go onto 4?

4: Why travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet).

Travel agent?
Isn't that a profession from the last century?

That's what I thought until I ran into a travel agent at a party. We got talking and later when I got in touch with him, I realised that the Internet wasn't the friend I thought it was, after all.

For years, Renuka and I have been booking our air tickets and hotels online. Imagine my surprise when I realised I'd been paying a lot more by going online. Granted, our trips can be extremely complex, but even so, I was shocked at how useful the travel agent happened to be.

Not only was he able to save us money, but help us avoid a lot of needless arguments

A single vacation can involve several hotels, connections etc. And if you're zigzagging, it's not easy to find connecting flights or even airlines that you prefer. These days, all I do is e-mail the travel agent, and a few hours later, with no work whatsoever, on my part, he shows up with all the flights I need.

Just to make things easier, he knows we hate to catch early morning flights because it means you've got to wake up even earlier. Many of our flights take off around 11 am or noon, or even later, depending on where we're headed. In short, the travel agent's screen is entirely different from the one you have at home.

Instead of burning through an entire evening trying to get the flights and hotels you want, an agent takes over all the hard work for you and gives you a quote.

Agents know you have Google

They know they can't randomly throw in high quotes. At first, we got some incredibly unintelligent agents, but in time we did run into one who understood our needs and was able to make the bookings quickly, effectively and at the prices that worked well for us.

This agent also looks at my schedule and will make suggestions. For instance, he told us to avoid spending more than a couple of days in a city in Europe because the city was boring (it was). It's the little bits and pieces, the little suggestions that make a good travel agent worthwhile.

Plus if you get stuck, things change, while the other passengers are lining up, a travel agent can quickly make changes for you.

Walk into a travel agency today if you're planning a trip. You might be amazed at how much time and energy you save in the future. And at no extra cost either.

And there we have it, our four nifty tips.

1: How to completely sidestep jet lag. You do it with No Jet Lag. Remember to set your alarms before you leave.
2: How to sleep soundly in extremely noisy environments (without ear plugs). Get a white noise app. Most of us would sleep soundly to the sound of falling rain.
3: TripIt is a travel app that sorts out your entire sequence (especially if you have a complex set of journeys). Every single part of your journey is mapped out in handy screen. No need to dig through a dozen e-mails. And you can often use the information on TripIt when checking in at airports.
4: Travel agents are invaluable (even though you can book everything on the Internet). You may never have considered a travel agent recently, but I am totally hooked. Our travel agent has saved us hours of needless searches, gotten us out of boring places, made bookings in places where everything is seemingly full and done it all without any extra charge. I don't know about you, but that's magical.

That's pretty much it. Bon Voyage!

Next Up: No one thinks running a small business is easy But even so, there are forces that pull you in all directions.

These forces almost seem to tear at us as we go through our daily work. Find out the answer here: How do you cope with the forces of small business?

Direct download: 177-_Four_Nifty_Travel_Tips.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

What is the hallmark of great content? When you start writing articles, you get advice from all sides. But there's advice you don't want to hear. It's advice that goes against the grain. And yet, it's this advice that forms the hallmark of great writing. So how do you get from average to great? You take the road less-taken. It's harder and yet far more satisfying. Here's advice you probably don't want to hear.

Direct download: 176-Replay_8-Why_Contrast_Ramps_Interest_in_Article_Writing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere This is an elaboration/review of the book by Pico Iyer. How do you slow down? What do you mean by going nowhere? And how can we slow down with our busy business and family life?

Direct download: 175-Replay_7-How_To_Slow_Down_Even_Under_Crazy_Conditions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Why do some landing pages work while others fail? The core of a landing page lies in picking a target profile. Yet, it's incredibly easy to mix up a target profile with a target audience. And worse still, the concept of persona comes into play. How do we find our way out of this mess?
Presenting the target profile mistakes we make and how to get around them quickly and efficiently. And create a landing page that attracts the clients we want.

Direct download: 174-Replay_6-When_Landing_Pages_Go_Bad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

In this episode we look at the relationship between energy management and time management. In the modern age we are expected to be on the go continuously; working while on holiday, being ever available for phone calls and e-mails etc. By the time we get to the end of the working day we often find we have no energy. Is there a way to not only have energy for work but also remain energized during our time outside of work?

Direct download: 172-Replay_5-Why_Energy_Management_Is_Far_Superior_to_Time_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12

Listen in to find out how you can receive a surprise Christmas gift!

Direct download: 173-Surprise_Christmas_Gift-The_Brain_Audit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm +12