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Writing a sales page can be a real drag. You start, stop, start and stop. But is it possible that you're writing a sales page in an inefficient way? What if you started writing the landing page from the bottom up? What if that bottom up method got you to create a quicker and far superior sales page for your product or service? Find out a simple, tested method that works time after time using the bottom up technique of writing sales pages.

Direct download: How-to-write-a-salespage-quickly-using-the-bottom-up-method.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm FJT

Most of us have grand plans to succeed. Yet, almost the moment we start there are a million distractions in our way. Chaos lurches around in our doorway and there seems to be no way out. At Psychotactics, we had managed to get around most of the chaos but then I was in charge of mentoring my niece. As she moved from Year 6 to Year 7, it seemed like we were hit by an okinami of chaos. What did we do to find our way out? How did we manage to avoid the madness that we had no control over? Find out in this episode of The Three Month Vacation.

Direct download: 107_How-to-manage-incessant-chaos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

Food, drink and sleep. That's my dream for every vacation. And yet this trip to Goa, India was quite the opposite. So what did I learn that almost turned my life around? That's what this podcast is about. And it might just turn your life (and health) around as well. 

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Sometimes life takes you down a diversion. And you end up exactly where you need to be.

This is the story of my trip to Goa, India.
It’s where my grandparents came from.
Where I spent many summers under the mango trees in the sweltering heat.

It’s also the place that has led me back to where I need to be.

So what did I learn? I learned a few things:
1- The importance of digestion (and sleep)
2- The importance of food and types of food
3- Breaks are not enough to avoid extreme stress.

Part 1- The importance of digestion (and the avoidance of sleep)

“When you turn 40,” my dentist said to me, “you should go for an annual medical checkup.” There I was on the dentist’s chair having a bridge fixed and my dentist wasn’t giving me dental advice. Instead, he was telling me to go see my doctor, even though I hadn’t been sick a day for almost 20 years.

And since my negligence with my flossing was causing me a small fortune, I decided to take the dentist’s advice. I went and visited my doctor and did my first ever medical test.

It wasn’t good.

My blood pressure wasn’t high, but it wasn’t normal either.
My cholesterol and blood sugar was creeping up too.
And like clockwork, year after year, those numbers edged upwards. Sometimes, they nudged their way downwards, but the general trend was not looking terribly good.

You know me. I’m the 3-month vacation, take weekends off guy.

I work hard, but I take a lot of breaks to rest, think and just do nothing.
And yet all of that nothingness wasn’t dropping the pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar. And then I did something that made a huge difference to my life and health. I went yet again on vacation and this time to India.

I have a love-hate relationship with India

I grew up in Mumbai, vacationed in Goa and travelled through many parts of India before I finally moved to New Zealand. India seeps within you as you hang around that sub-continent. The food, the culture, the languages, history and science going back thousands of years. This trip was about the monsoon (something that’s worth experiencing), the food and most of all to see my parents (who I hadn’t visited in five years).

Yet within days of landing in Goa, my agenda was hijacked

Oh sure I started out with the food and drink, but we also wanted to get a few massages. And that search for massages got us to an Ayurvedic centre. Now you’ve probably heard of Ayurveda, an ancient system of natural healing from India. Some think it’s 5,000 years old, others believe it to be older, going back a whopping 10,000 years.

But I wasn’t there for any medical checkup—I was just there for the massages…
Yet life takes you down this diversion, and it’s just where you need to be.

It was July, the rain was coming down in torrents and the doctor at the Ayurvedic centre was available. And we found out that my blood pressure and cholesterol was pretty high (conducting the article writing course and working through 12,000 posts helps, I guess). But even as he was telling me about the course of action to take, he brought up one important, yet obscure point.

“The reason why we have a lot of problems with our health isn’t the food we eat,” he started.

Food makes a difference, but the bigger problem is digestion. If we don’t digest the food completely, it sits in our system and it becomes like the inner side of a kitchen pipe. It’s got all this junk that starts to accumulate over the years. And it’s that junk that causes a huge number of problems. So he put me on an Ayurvedic course to get rid of the junk.

It was interesting, this course

Spanning over 11 days, it started mildly. All I had to do for the first three days was avoid oily food. But then it got really weird. For breakfast, all I could have was liquid ghee (mixed with some herbs). I don’t know if you know what ghee is, but it’s high in saturated fat. And if you’re trying to get someone’s cholesterol down, it sure seems like the last thing you want to dole out. And yet, it wasn’t just a sip of ghee. On the first day it was 30ml, then it went progressively to 80, 130 and 180 ml (almost a full glass).

As it turns out, the ghee is supposed to permeate all the parts of your body down to your fingers and toes. And then to cut a long story short, the ghee pulls all the impurities and chucks it into the stomach. And you know what happens next, right?

So did it work?

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a “quick fix”. I detest Lemon diets and detox diets of any kind. I don’t care to believe in quick and easy. But there I was, on vacation, and keen to get the cholesterol and pressure down. And 11 days later, we had our results. The blood test before and after could not have been more dramatic. There was a plunge from abnormal to well within normal range and in the process I’d even lost about 3 kilos (about 6 pounds).

But I’m skeptical about quick fixes

So when I got back to Auckland I did another blood test. And I weighed myself again. By now I was down 5 kilos and the blood test showed something remarkable. My current cholesterol and blood pressure was not only normal, but it was the best it’s ever been in 7 years.

“It’s the digestion” said the doctor who put me through this treatment.

Get the digestion right and you’ll find that a lot of things go perfectly well. And part of the issue of digestion was eating foods that digest well, that we all know. But the second part was giving the food time to digest.

I love my sleep because I sleep so little anyway

And I will take an afternoon nap when I can. Yet, it flies in the face of digestion. The moment you wake up, the body is running like a machine and having any nap causes it to slow down. What doesn’t help is that nap is usually right after eating a meal. Now it’s not like I’ve not taken a nap since I got back to Auckland, but the concept of digestion is clear in my mind.

That was the first learning for this trip.

I never realised how much digestion mattered.
I ignored it as much as I could.
And then it proved that once your body is clear of the junk, it works more efficiently.

But that’s only the first part of this learning experience. The second factor was one of food and types of food.

Part 2- The importance of food and types of food

I’m no vegetarian.

If you look at my Facebook page, I’m updating it almost daily with some sort of food. And when you read The Brain Audit or many other books from Psychotactics, it’s quite clear that Butter Chicken takes a place of prominence. Even so, this trip changed my mindset a bit simply because I wasn’t allowed to eat any meat—or fish for that matter.

My diet for at least seven days was pretty spartan

In India, we have a dish called Khichdi. It’s a combination of spices, cumin, ghee, rice and yellow moong dal. It’s a dish that is very easily absorbed by the body, which is why it’s often recommended to older people and for very young children. The version of khichdi I was allowed to eat was more basic. It consisted of no spices, no ghee and on most days all I ate was yellow moong dal and rice, tossed into a pressure cooker.

So when I got to the other side even the simplest vegetarian dish was amazingly tasty.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of vegetarian food and if you’ve ever had the chance to visit India, you’ll know there are over 150 types of vegetarian food for breakfast alone. Once I was off the spartan diet, I wasn’t that keen on meat any more. It’s not like I haven’t eaten any—it’s just that Im not keen any more, especially since I found so many different recipes.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been sidetracked by a diet

Back in 2011, I was told not to eat spicy or oily food. And yet we were on our way to Vancouver and Washington D.C. to do our workshops. That’s when I discovered another side to Chinese, Ethiopian and other foods. But to go back into my own culture—my Indian culture—and find so much to eat took me totally by surprise.

I don’t know if a vacation will make such a change for you

But I think it just might. A trip like this to India or even to an Ayurvedic centre somewhere could change your mindset a bit. I wake up everyday and enjoy exploring food I can make in just 10-15 minutes. Food that may involve something as simple as rice flour and semolina. Food that’s easier to make and digest. Food that’s still extremely delicious and nutritious. And amazingly good for you.

It’s a change, but the biggest change of all was simply following the diversion.

Part 3- Breaks are not enough to avoid stress

11,645.

That’s how many posts were generated in just three months of the Article Writing Course. And though the course has just 25 clients, there’s a ton of activity and assignments. So to have that many posts is pretty normal for a Psychotactics course. What’s not normal is having to write a whole new set of notes, new assignments and re-recording all the audio.

In short, it was too much—yes, even if you’re a crazy person like me.

And that’s one of the recurring themes from most vacations. Almost always I’ll work myself to a frazzle, then go on vacation. And that’s because I like to do so many things. I like to paint, write, deal with 10,000+ posts on the forum—and most of it fits into my work day. I realised that the additional bit, like having to write the notes and re-recording was just too much.

It seems obvious to you, doesn’t it?

It’s obvious that too much work is too much work. And that all that extra work leads to unwanted stress. Stress that directly leads to health issues. And that while I may take time off on weekends and vacation, there needs to be more paring back. To be hit with such a blatantly obvious idea seems odd.

And yet it’s taken me a long time to figure this one out. For starters, taking weekends off was not obvious but in late 2015 and then in 2016, I got it all under control. This trip underlined why my health was not quite as good as it could be. There’s a direct link between too much stress and cholesterol and pressure.

I get it.
It took a while.
It took many vacations, many weekends.

But now I get it.

I get that we all need to be less frazzled. I get the fact that vegetarian food and fruit is good for me.
And I get the digestion bit.

This vacation was supposed to be about food, drink and sleep.

We didn’t get to eat the food we wanted.
We were told to avoid alcohol during the treatment.
And yes, no sleeping in the day time.

And yet, it’s been one of the best vacations I’ve ever had.

Sometimes life takes you down a diversion.
And it’s exactly where you should be.

Next Step: Do Tell A Friend About The Podcast? 
http://www.psychotactics.com/general/podcast-friend/

 

 

Direct download: 106_What_I-Learned-On-My-Super-Unusual-Vacation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

Who's Doug Hitchcock? And in a world full of goal-setting exercises, why does Doug's system stand out? Find out why most goal-setting goes hopelessly off the mark and Doug's plan works almost like magic year after year. Find out not just how to set goals, but how to create a stop-doing list (yes, that's a goal too). And finally, learn why most goals are designed for failure because they lack a simple benchmarking system. Find out how we've made almost impossible dreams come true with this goal-setting system. http://www.psychotactics.com/goal-setting-successfully/ ------------------------------- In this episode Sean talks about Part 1: Why most goal-setting goes hopelessly off the mark Part 2: How to set goals, but how to create a successful stop-doing list Part 3: Learn why most goals are designed for failure because they lack a simple benchmarking system Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer. Useful Resources Chaos Planning: How ‘Irregular’ Folks Get Things Done Learning: How To Retain 90% Of Everything You Learn 5000bc: How to get started on your goal setting ------------------------------- The Transcript “This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.” This is the Three-Month Vacation. I’m Sean D’Souza. Doug Hitchcock was my first real mentor and he had been bankrupt thrive. When I first moved to Auckland in the year 2000, I didn’t really know anyone. I was starting up a new business, I was starting up a new life. I joined a networking group and within that networking group I asked for a mentor. Well, no one in the networking group was willing to be a mentor, but someone did put me in touch with Doug. The only problem with Doug was he had been bankrupt thrive. Now, when I say he was bankrupt thrice, it doesn’t mean he was still bankrupt. He just pulled himself out of the hole three times in his life and there he was, at about 70 plus, and he was my first mentor. Before he starts to talk to me about anything, he asks me, “Do you do goal setting?” I’m like, “Yeah, I have goals,” and he goes, “No. Do you have goals on paper?” I said, “No.” He says, “We have to start there. We have to start with goals on paper.” That’s how I started doing goal setting, all the way back in the year 2000. Almost immediately, I got all the goal setting wrong. You ask, how can you get goal setting wrong? After all, you’re just putting goals down on a sheet of paper. How can you get something like that wrong? You can’t write the wrong goals, but you can write too many goals. That’s exactly what I did. I sat down with that sheet of paper and I wrote down all my work goals, my personal goals, and I had an enormous list. That’s when Doug came back into the scene, and he said, “Pick three.” I said, “I could pick five.” He goes, “No, no, no. Pick three.” I picked three goals in my work and three goals from my personal life. You know what? By the end of the year, I’d achieved those goals. Ever since, I have been sitting down and working out these goals based on Doug’s method. Doug may have lost his business thrice in a row, but he knew what he was talking about. Most of us just wander through life expecting things to happen. When they happen, we say they happen for a reason, but they don’t happen for a reason. They happen, and we assign a reason to it. In this episode, I’m going to cover three topics. The first is the three part planning. Then we’ll go the other way. We’re create a stop doing list. Finally, we’ll look at benchmarks and see how we’ve done in the year. Let’s start off with the first one, which is the three part planning. Does the San Fernando earthquake ring any bells in your memory? Most people haven’t ever heard of this earthquake, and yet it was one of the deadliest earthquakes in US history. It collapsed entire hospitals, it killed 64 people, it injured over two and a half thousand. When the damage was assessed, it had cost millions of dollars, and yet it could have been the disaster that eclipsed all other US disasters. That’s because the earthquake almost caused the entire Van Norman Reservoir to collapse. The dam held, and yet, if it had collapsed, the resulting rush of water would have taken the lives of more people than the Pearl Harbor Attack, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, 9/11 and 1900 Galveston Hurricane combined. In barely 12 seconds, the top section of the dam had disintegrated and yet, the surrounding areas were extremely lucky. The reservoir was only half full that day. The aftershocks of the earthquake continued to cause parts of the dam to break apart. A few feet of free board was the only thing that stopped a total collapse. This total collapse is what many of us come close to experiencing as we try to clamber up the ladder of success. We try to do too many things and we don’t seem to go anywhere. In effect, this is like water cascading down a dam. There’s too many things and we have no control over it. What’s going to stop it? The only thing that seems to stop anything is some kind of focus and goal setting is focus. The way we go about our goal setting is the way Doug showed me. The first category of goal setting is what we want to achieve at work. The second set comprises of our personal goals. The third, this is the most critical of all, what we’re going to learn. Should we start off with the first one, which is our work goals? Well, that’s not the way we do it as Psychotactics. The way we work at Psychotactics is we look at our personal goals. Our own lives are far more important than work. What we do is we sit down, and first, we plan vacations. As you know, we take three months off. We’ve been doing this since 2004. We started our business at the end of 2002. Yet by 2004, we had decided we were going to take three months off. The thing is that your vacations also need planning. Our vacations are broken up into big breaks, small breaks, and weekends. Now the big breaks are the month long vacations, and then the small breaks are in between that. We’re go away for a couple of days somewhere, and that’s our small break. I’m saying weekends, because before I wouldn’t take weekends off. I’d be working on the weekend at least for a few hours on Saturday morning and a few hours on Sunday morning, and I don’t do that any more. Now that’s almost written in stone. It’s very hard for me to get to work on weekends. I’ll slide sometimes, but it’s very hard. The most critical thing to do is to work out the long breaks. When are we going to have those, and then the shorter breaks. That comprises that whole vacation concept, but you also have to have other personal goals. Maybe I want to learn how to cook Mexican dishes, or maybe I want to learn how to take better photographs. Now, these are personal projects. They’re not not pseudo work projects. They’re things that, at the end of the year, I go, “Wow, that’s what I’ve achieved. That’s how much I progressed.” That’s how you start off with personal goals. You plan your breaks. You plan what you want to do personally. Once you’re done with that, then you go to your work goals. We have a lot of work goals, we have the article writing workshop coming up, we’ve got the 50 words workshop, which is, how do you start up an article. We’ve got a whole bunch of things, because we’ve got products, we’ve got courses, we’ve got workshops. All of this has to sit nicely between, so that we work for 12 weeks and then we go on a break. We’ve decided that we’re not having any workshops next year. We’ve had a lot of workshops this year, no workshops next year. Now, this leaves us the chance to focus on the courses and the products. Now my brain is like that dam, there’s always water rushing over. I want to do a million projects, but then I have to choose. The article writing course is one of the things that I want to do for sure. I want to do a version 2.0 of it. The cartoon bank, I’ve been putting that off for a long time. That’s definitely something I want to do. Then I’ll pick a third one. Do I stop at three? No, but I make sure that I get these three down. The three that I’m going to do, they go down on paper. Some other projects will come up, a lot of stuff that I might not expect, and yet I’ll get all of this done, but these three, they’ll get done. Those three vacations, they will get done. Then we get to the third part, which is learning. What am I going to learn this next year? Maybe I’ll learn a software, or maybe I’ll learn how to use audio better. The point is, I have to write it down, because once I write it down, then I’m going to figure out where I have to go and what I have to do to make sure that learning happens. This is not just learning like reading some books or doing something minor like that. This is big chunks of learning, so that by the the end of the year, I know I’ve reached that point. When it comes to planning, the first thing that we’re always doing is we’re looking at these three elements, which is work, vacation, and learning. If we have to do other sub projects, we’ll do it, but these nine things get done. Year after year after year. This is what Doug taught me, he gave me this ability to focus. I consider myself to be unfocused, I consider myself to want to do everything and anything. That was the gift of Doug. In the year 2008, we had a program, it was a year long program. You probably heard of it. It was called a Psychotactics Protégé program. We would teach clients how to write articles, how to create info products, public relations. Lots of things along the way in that year. As you’d expect, it was reasonably profitable. 15 students paid $10,000, and so that was $150,000 that we would have in the bank before the year started. In 2009, we pulled the plug on the Protégé system. Why would we do that? We started it in 2006, it was full, in 2007 it was full, in 2008 it was full, in 2009 there was a waiting list. We decided not to go ahead with it. We decided it was going to go on our stop doing list. We were going to walk away from $150,000, just like that. Yes, some clients were unhappy, because they wanted to be on the next Protégé program. They had seen the testimonials, they had seen the results. They knew that it was good enough to sign up for. They knew that $10,000 was a very small investment, for a year long advancement. On our part, we realized that we had to walk away from $150,000 that we were getting on cue, every December. This is what’s called a stop doing list. We’ve used this stop doing list in our own lives. When we left India, and got to Auckland, it wasn’t like we were leaving something desperate. We were leaving something that was really good. I was drawing tattoos all day, going bowling in the afternoon, having long lunches, Renuka’s company was doing really well. They were picking up all expenses, and the only thing we really had to pay for was food but, at that point in time, we decided we had to make a break. We had to stop doing something so that we could do something different. We don’t know whether that different is better, but at that point we have to stop it, so that we can explore what is coming up ahead. There are two things that you put on your stop doing list. One, something that is working exceedingly well. The second thing, something that’s doing really badly. Or something that’s getting in your way. Now, the first one doesn’t make any sense. If something is doing exceedingly well, why would you stop it? Well, the point is that if you continue to do something, then you can’t do something else. You don’t know how good that something is until you stop doing it and then you go on to do something else. Last night, I was reading The New Yorker, and The New Yorker is one of my favorite magazines. There’s James Surowiecki saying exactly the same thing. He’s saying that Time Warner should sell HBO. HBO has now 120 million subscribers globally. It has earned over 2 billion dollars in profits last year. It’s stand alone streaming service has got over a million new subscribers since last spring. What does the article recommend? It recommends that they get rid of it, they sell it, they get the best price for it at this point of time, when they’re doing so well. What if it doubles in its value? That’s the answer we’ll never know, but the article went on. It talked about ESPN and how in 2014 it was worth 50 billion dollars. Disney owned it, they should have sold it, they could have banked the money. They could have focused on something else, but no, they kept it. ESPN is still doing well, it’s still the dominant player, but you can see that it’s not exactly where it was in 2014. The Protégé program was doing really well for us, clients were with us for the whole year. They would then join 5000 BC, we’d get to meet them. It was a lot of fun, and it generated a sizable revenue and we walked away from it. It enabled us to do other stuff that we would not have been able to do. When you say stop doing list, it’s not just the bad stuff that you have to stop doing. Sometimes you have to stop doing the things that are very critical, like next year we’re not doing workshops. Workshops are very critical to our business, but we’re not going to do the workshops. Instead, we’ll do online courses. Instead, we’ll do something else. We’ll create that space for ourselves, even though the workshops are doing really well. The other side of the stop doing list is stuff that’s driving you crazy. You know it’s driving you crazy, but you’re not stopping it. For instance, in September of this year, we started rebuilding the Psychotactic site. Now, there are dozens of pages on the Psychotactic site and I want to fiddle around with every single one of them, and do things that are interesting, different. The problem is that there are other projects, like for instance the storytelling workshop. Of course, vacations that get in the way. The point is that, at some point, you have to say, okay, I really want to do this, but I’m not going to do this. I’m going to put it off until later. This is procrastination, but it is part of a stop doing list. You can’t do everything in the same time. Last year, this time, we had the same dilemma when we were going to do the podcasts. I wanted to write some books for Amazon, and I wanted to do the podcast. Every day, we would go for a walk, and it would run me crazy. I didn’t know where to start, when to start, what to do first. I had to sit down and go, okay, what am I going to stop? I just dumped the Amazon books and started on the podcast. Now we’re on podcast number 70, and it’s not even been 52 weeks. It shows you how that stop doing list can help you focus and get stuff out of the way. Sometimes you have to procrastinate to get that point. Now the stop doing list is not restricted to work alone. You can take it into your personal life as well. For instance, I used to get my hair cut by a hairdresser, and I was dissatisfied for a very long time. You come back in, you grumble, and my wife, Renuka, she said, “Okay, stop grumbling. Go and find another hairdresser.” I ran into Shay, now Shay was cutting my hair so well, it was amazing. I wasn’t the only one who thought that was amazing. Usually, I was on a waiting list at a barber shop. I would get there, and there were two people in front of me, waiting for Shay. While a few of the barbers just stood around, doing absolutely nothing because no one was interested. Then, one day, involuntarily, Shay went onto my stop doing list. Kimmy was around and Shay wasn’t and so Kimmy cut my hair. She was better than Shay. I thought, “Oh my goodness. I should have done this a long time ago.” Then Kimmy got transferred to another branch, and now there’s Francis. You’ve heard about Francis in other podcasts. Now Francis is my top guy. There you go, even in something as mundane as cutting hair, there is a stop doing list. You have to push yourself a bit, and at other times you have to pull back and go, “No, we’re not going to do that.” The stop doing list is for good times, as well as for pressurized times. You have to decide, I’m going to stop doing it, I’m going to move onto the next thing. This takes us to the third part of planning, which is benchmarks. Now what are benchmarks? Often when we set out to do a project, say we’re going to do that website. What we don’t do is we don’t write down all the elements that are involved in doing that website because a website can go on forever, can’t it? It expands exponentially. When you are saying, I am going to write books for Amazon. Well, how many books are you going to write? How many pages are the books going to be? What’s the time frame? Where are you going to get the cartoons from? Who’s going to do all the layout? Having this kind of benchmark in mind makes a big difference. When we plan for something, for instance if I’m planning for the article writing course, which is version 2.0. I’m going to have to sit down and work out what I’m going to have to do. When I’m doing the stock cartoons, I’m going to have to sit down and work out what kind of stock cartoons, how many. It’s perfectly fine to write a top level goal. You should do that, you should say, “Okay, I’m going to do the website,” but then you have to get granular. The granular bit tells you, have I reached my destination. Otherwise, people don’t get to their goals, and that’s why they’re struggling, because there’s no clarity. Usually, you’re going to get the clarity when you have only three things to do, but even so, if you don’t have benchmarks you’ll never know when you’re reaching your goal or if you’re going to reach your goal. That brings us to the end of this episode. Summary What did we cover? We looked at three sets of goal setting, and that is your personal goal setting, your work goal setting, and your learning goal setting. Instead of having 700 of them, you just have three things that you want to achieve in the year. Three major things that you want to achieve in the year. Logically, you start with the work, but don’t handle the work. Just go to the breaks. Organize your breaks first, because you get reinvigorated and you come back and then you can do better work. First, fix the breaks and then go to the work, then go the learning. That takes care of the first set. The second thing that you want to do is you want to make sure that you have a stop doing list. Sometimes, things are working, they’re going your way, and they still have to be dropped. That’s what we did with the Protégé program, that’s what we did with our move to New Zealand, and a lot of good things have become better, because we’ve decided to move along. Sometimes, you’re just confused because you have too many things to do, and procrastinate. Go ahead. I mean, I know this about planning, not procrastination, but procrastination is a form of planning, when you have too much to do. Finally, have the benchmarks. Make your goals a little more detailed so that you know when you’re hitting those benchmarks. Plan it in a little more detail. That’s how you’ll reach your goal. This is what goal setting is about. It’s very simple. People make it more complicated than it needs to be. What’s the one thing that you can do today? Very simple. Work, vacation, and learning. Get your paper out, get your pen, and start writing. Three goals. You can start off with seven, or ten, but whittle it down to three. Oh, and make sure you write it down. When you write it down, things happen. It’s like magic when you write it down. Keep it in your head, it’s not as powerful. Write it down, it happens. If one of your goals is to join 5000 BC this year. That’s 5000 BC, our membership site. You’ll find that it’s quite a nice place to be. It’s a very warm and friendly place. It would be great to see you there. It also gives you the opportunity to be first in line for any of the online courses that we’re having. That might not seem like a big deal until you see how cool the online courses are at Psychotactics. It’s not just another information dump, you actually get the skill. If you set out to be a cartoonist, you become a cartoonist. If you set out to be a writer, you become a writer. It’s not just information that you’re getting, it’s all very practical. Being a member of 5000 BC gives you that little edge to get in there before everybody else. You have to read The Brain Audit, however. You can get that at psychotactics.com/brainaudit or on amazon. Com. If you’ve read The Brain Audit and you would like a special collector’s edition, then email us at Psychoanalytical. We’ll give you instruction on how to get the special collector’s edition. That’s it from me at Psychotactics and the Three Month Vacation. Bye for now. One of the biggest reasons why we struggle with our learning is because we run into resistance. Resistance is often just seen as a form of laziness, but that is not true at all. There are hidden forces causing us all to resist doing what we really should do. This slows us down considerably. Find out how to work with resistance, instead of fighting it all the time. Click here to get the free report on ‘How To Win The Resistance Game’. http://www.psychotactics.com/free/resistance-game/

Direct download: 105_Doug_Hitchcock-Three-Point-Planning-system.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

What's wrong with this statement? Instead of wondering when our next vacation is we should set up a life we don't need to escape from.? There doesn't seem to be anything wrong, is there? And yet this entire line is based on a myth. And that's not the only myth that circulates so well and widely. Another myth is that a business has to grow; has to increase clients; has to increase revenues. But is that why you really got into business? Did you set out to create a life that's work, work and more work? Join us as we explore three big myths, and destroy them: Myth 1: That your business needs to constantly grow bigger. Myth 2: Somehow you'll have more time, and your business will be on auto-pilot / Myth 3: That we need to set up a life where we don't need to wonder about our vacations. / / Yup, incredibly silly business myths. Let's take them head on and get some sanity back into our lives, instead. http://www.psychotactics.com/three-business-myths/ ================ In this episode Sean talks about Myth 1: That your business needs to constantly grow bigger Myth 2: Somehow you’ll have more time, and your business will be on auto-pilot Myth 3: Vacation is the enemy and work is everything Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer. Useful Resources The Power of Enough: Why It’s Critical To Your Sanity Three Obstacles To Happiness: How To Overcome Them 5000bc: How to get reliable answers to your complex marketing problems ================ The Transcript “This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.” This is the Three Month Vacation. I’m Sean D’Souza. Imagine you’re a band, but not just any old music band. Instead, you’re the most popular band in the whole world. You’ve sold over 200 million records. You’re in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and probably only five or six bands have sold more than you in the entire history of pop. Barry Gibb has never done this before, never taken the long walk to the stage by himself. Speaker 2: Is it important for you to do this? Barry: Yeah, it’s everything to me. It’s all I’ve ever known. I don’t know how to do anything else. Speaker 2: t went pretty well, though. Barry: I can’t get a job. Speaker 2: He’s the only surviving member of one of the 20th century’s greatest vocal groups, and this night, at the TD Garden in Boston, he’s about to begin his first ever solo tour. You have to ask yourself why. Why would Barry Gibb, with all his success and all the money that they’ve earned over the years as the Bee Gees, do his first solo tour. It’s not like he needs the money or the fame, because they’re the only group in history to have written, recorded, and produced six consecutive number one hits. As Barry Gibb himself boasted, “We weren’t on the charts. We were the charts.” In that spring, as he hit the road across North America for six solo shows, every show was costing him half a million dollars a night. He said he would be lucky to break even. But that’s not the point. “I have to keep this music alive,” says Gibb. To me, that’s what embodies what I do. I want to keep the music alive. I think this is true for most of us. Most of us aren’t really looking for this magic pill. We’re not looking to double our customers, triple our income, do any of that kind of nonsense. What we’re trying to do is keep our music alive. We’re trying to get some purpose in our lives. The money, the fame, all that stuff’s really nice, but does it matter in the long run? At the height of The Beatles’ fame, John Lennon said, “Work is life, you know, and without it there’s only uncertainty and unhappiness.” When you look at someone like the guy who runs Uchida, a little restaurant in Vancouver Island, the restaurant is only open from 11:00 to 2:00. When you get there you eat some of the most delightful Japanese food I’ve ever eaten, and I have traveled to many places, including Japan. That magic is expressed in his work. He gets to work and he stays until the restaurant closes at 2:00. It doesn’t open for dinner because from 2:00 to 9:00 he’s preparing the next day’s meals. Every day the meal is just so amazing. It’s different every single day. It’s a big surprise, and it’s always amazing. Today I’m going to talk to you about three myths about business. We’ve run Psychotactics for the past 13 years, but the business goes back a long way when I used to be a cartoonist. I’m going to bring to you these three myths which I think are important. I think they’re important because everyone is talking about the other side, about more money, more customers, doubling your income, doing all that stuff. As I said, that’s really nice, but is there a flip side to it? That’s what we’ll cover in today’s episode. First up on the menu today is the fact that you have to grow. That’s myth number one. Myth number two is that things get easier as you go along. Myth number three is that you have to create a life that you don’t need a vacation from. Let’s start off with the first myth, which is you have to grow. Once a year, we have a really important meeting at Psychotactics. My wife Renuka and I meet with our accountant Steve, and we go over our accounts. We look at how much money we made in the year. How much are our profits? What are the expenses? All the stuff that you do with an accountant before you sign off everything. We’re in 2015, but when I look at the accounts, it looks exactly as it did in 2007. 2007 was a really good year. We earned twice, maybe thrice as much as we needed. Of course a third goes to the government. That’s just what you do; you pay tax. Even so, you had twice as much as you needed, and our needs are not much. We take our breaks. We go on vacation. We buy little goodies here and there, but we’re not flash people. We don’t have the flashiest car. We don’t fly business; we always friendly economy. We keep our expenses under control. But even so, having twice as much as you need, that’s quite a lot. The way that a lot of businesses go about this situation is to say let’s double it, let’s triple it. Here’s what I’m telling you. You don’t have to double it. You don’t have to triple it. You don’t have to enter that rat race. All you have to do is stay comfortable. That was your goal in the first place. Your goal as a business owner was to start up a business, to have control over your life, and be comfortable. It was not to struggle anymore. It was never to double and triple your income. In fact, when you read the stories of business owners that have doubled and tripled, and I don’t know, quadrupled, quintupled their income, you find that there is a huge sacrifice. That sacrifice is their family, their life, their health, everything else. When people talk about all of the extra stuff, the extra money that comes in, the extra fame, they don’t talk about that part until a lot later when they’re doing their memoir. The reality is you have to double or triple nothing. When we look at our list, for instance, our list grew from 200-300 people. Now there are 37,000 people. It might seem quite small when you think about it, because we’ve been around since 2002, to have only 37,000 people. I know it sounds like a lot if you don’t have 37,000 people, but if you’ve been around since 2002, you should have 350,000 people. Here’s the reality. Those 37,000 people don’t open the newsletter. Maybe 4 or 5,000 people open the newsletter at any given point in time. This is a reality. Out of those 4 or 5,000 people, probably 400 people generate more than 90% of our income. Most of them are our members at 5000bc. At this point, this whole message seems very conflicting, even hypocritical, because what we’re saying is we’re very comfortable. We are earning thrice as much as we need. We’ve got this huge list. I’m saying to you, don’t do that. Don’t go crazy over stuff. We could have had a list of 350,000 people. We could have ten times the income. What would we do with it? How many sacrifices would we have to make to just do that kind of stuff. Instead, the sacrifice comes from other places. This is where the growth really matters. When you look at many of the products at Psychotactics, you will find that they have been polished over time. When you look at The Brain Audit, it started with version 1, and then version 2, and then version 3, and then 3.2. that’s where we grow exponentially. When you look at the courses, they improve by 10% or 15% every year. How do we know this? Because we get feedback. Every course has one full day of feedback where clients tell us what we did wrong and how to fix it. We have to fix it, and that takes a lot of time. There there is the growth. We still take exactly the same number of clients for every course as we’ve always done. We never exceed 25. If you’re in a workshop, it’s never 30. There is never this need to continuously grow and grow bigger, and grow fatter, and grow … I don’t know. There is no need. The need is in making magic, in getting your work better. Why is this need so important? Because you as a person, you feel satisfied. You feel wow, my work has got better over the years. You’re fixing it and it’s improving and it’s evolving. Then you look at your clients and see that they are achieving these skills. Their business is growing. They’re more satisfied. They’re taking more vacations. You think, my mission is on its way. It’s not finished. It’s on its way. The benchmark needn’t be the fame and the benchmark needn’t be the money, and the benchmark needn’t be the growth. That’s one of the first myths that I want to take apart. Because almost every book out there is talking about something quite the opposite. In fact, yesterday I was on Facebook and there it was again: double your income, lessen your work. No, your work is interesting. Your vacations are interesting. I get the point. You can’t sell a book that says stay stagnant with your income. Stay stagnant with your revenue. Stay stagnant with your clients. It’s not going to sell. Maybe it will, I don’t know, but the point is it’s a myth. You have to be satisfied first. Your work has to bring great satisfaction and you have to be comfortable. That’s all that really is required from you as a small business. Let the Apple and the Google and all those big companies do whatever it is that they want to do. Let them double and triple and do whatever they want to do. That’s probably not for you. If you’re the person that enjoys your family time, and enjoys your life, and enjoys the little things, then this is how you go about it. Because, as we saw with the Bee Gees and Barry Gibb, the fame didn’t make that much of a difference. It made a difference, but at the end of the day, it’s about keeping the music alive. It’s about keeping the magic alive. That brings us to the end of the first part. Now we go to the second myth, which is things get easier. Back in the year 2000, if you went to a site called millionbucks.co.nz, you would find our site. Yes, I’m embarrassed by the name, but that was what I wanted to do right at the start. I wanted to grow the business, make a million bucks, do all the stuff that we’re told we are supposed to do. Unfortunately, no one, or very few people were making money online at that point in time. The online space was not seen as some place where you could go and by stuff. It was always about information and sharing that information. It’s not until 2002 that we launched Psychotactics. That’s when we sold our first copy of The Brain Audit. That was a big surprise. We were forced to setup our credit card system by someone else who kicked us into doing it. Then someone showed up and bought the first copy, took us completely by surprise. Then my wife Renuka would do a happy dance. She would get up from her chair and do a dance in the room. Then of course, as the months passed, we would get some more sales, and every time a sale came she would do a happy dance. It does get to the point where you can’t dance anymore and you have to sit down and do your work. You also buy into this idea that things will get easier. Because when we started out, we were working five, six, seven days a week. I realise there are only seven days in a week. But we were working all the time. We thought things will get easier, and they have got easier. But wait a second, we still put in five full days. We take the weekend off now but we still put in five full days, so how much easier has it got? The point is that if you want to do superb work, things don’t get easier. Because you’re always making it somehow better. You’re always learning. You’re always getting feedback, and feedback kills you. Because feedback tells you that your work isn’t as superb as you think. That dish that you just cooked, that you’ve been raving about, that you think everyone should praise you for, it’s too oily. There’s too much salt in it. Or maybe there’s just over the top salt and it tastes good but that’s too much salt for human consumption. You cannot take that feedback because that feedback means that you have to fix something. Clients will come back right after we’ve written a book and they’ll say, “You should fix this part or you should move that part.” They’ll get onto our courses and they’ll start to move things around. They’ll suggest different types of technology. We have to listen. All of that listening means all of that doing, and doing means that things never get easier. It’s like the story of the Golden Gate Bridge. They say they start painting at one end and by the time they get to the other end, they have to paint it again. I don’t know if the story is true, but that’s approximately what your business is going to be like. It’s going to have lots of ups and downs, but more importantly, it’s not going to get easier. If you want to improve your work, if you want to make it magic, you’re going to get that feedback. You’re going to ask for that feedback and you’re going to get that feedback, and you’re going to have to fix things. When you fix things, it’s work. When you create new stuff, it’s work. All of this work brings an enormous amount of satisfaction. I can look back at a lot of the things that we’ve done, and if it weren’t for the clients, I wouldn’t have done it. If it weren’t for the deadlines, I wouldn’t have done it. But all of it is work. You look at the storytelling workshop that we’re doing now in Nashville and Amsterdam. I would never have written the notes. I’ve written a series on storytelling. It’s available as a book. But this is more comprehensive. This is more in-depth. I’ve had to spend weeks working it out. I sit at the café looking pensive, drinking my coffee. Then it’s work. To me, it never gets easier, because you’re always trying to explore that depth, as it were. You’re trying to get that magic. You’re trying to keep that music going. We all start out with this dream of sitting on the beach and doing nothing. That’s not how the brain works and that’s not how the body works. In fact, if we sat at the beach and did nothing, we’d soon be a vegetable in no time at all. If we don’t do our daily walks, and we don’t exercise, and we don’t meditate, and we don’t do all the stuff that we’re supposed to do, we don’t do all this “work,” there’s no satisfaction in life. Today I can write an article in 45 minutes. I can do the podcast. I can do webinars. I can do a lot of stuff. What happens is you get much faster and better at doing stuff, and you want to get faster and better all the time because it improvements your work. You put more cartoons in the books. You tweak the workshops. You do stuff that only brings more work. Of course that’s why you need the vacations as well. Because you need to wind down. You need the weekends to wind down. That’s really how life continues. It’s not about the beach. The beach, that’s vacation time. There’s a separate time for it. The third myth is that vacation is the enemy and work is everything. Because we’ve been talking about work, haven’t we? Let’s look at this third myth, which is that vacation is the enemy. But is vacation really the enemy? It seems like it, doesn’t it? Because wherever you go on Facebook or on the internet, you run into this little saying by Seth Godin, and it says, “Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense to have a great life and you don’t need a vacation. It doesn’t make sense to me at all. Because when you look at that saying, what it’s saying is that your job, whatever you’re doing right now, or your business, whatever you’re doing right now, is so tedious that you’re not enjoying yourself. It’s saying that the enemy is that bad job, that unsatisfying job, that unsatisfying business that you’re running right now. And that you need to find something that is satisfying. That’s the enemy. Look what happened here. Vacation came in. Vacation came in as the enemy when vacation is not the enemy at all. That bad job, that’s the enemy. The good job, that’s your friend. Vacation is the time where you get better at what you do. You take time off just like a flight takes off, and it lands, and it has to refuel, and it has to be maintained. That’s what vacation is all about. It’s about going to new lands, learning about stuff, learning the different types of food, enjoying yourself, reading, sleeping, drinking, doing stuff that we did as kids. When we grew up, we weren’t working all the time. We’d go to school and then we had vacations. Vacations weren’t the enemy back then. How did they become the enemy all of a sudden? It’s because we’ve got this crappy job or we’re doing this business that is deeply unsatisfying. Then you have a statement like this, which is probably just off the cuff, but it has made vacations the enemy, and vacations are not the enemy at all. They are the friend. That’s myth number three, that you don’t need vacations. You need the break. Think of yourself back when you were a kid and you just enjoyed the time of absolute nothingness. You would like to get that again, wouldn’t you? What’s the point of sitting at work the whole time? There is really no point. You can fool yourself, but the reason why we sit at work the whole time is because we get what is called work momentum. We work and we work and we work and we work, and then that momentum takes us into more work. The moment we go on vacation, we’re thinking of what? Work of course, because that’s what we’ve been doing for so long. Then when you go on a vacation, if you have enough time on your vacation, you get into vacation momentum, and then you get more and more relaxed. Then when you get back to work, it’s very hard to get back to work. This management is important, this management of work and life. It’s important not to just take anything you see on Facebook, this nice little phrase, just because it came from Seth Godin or some other guru, and then take it at face value. You want to deconstruct it and understand why you did things the way you did. You want to see it from your perspective as a human being. You want to see it how you were when you were a child. Because vacations are like a drug. Once you take vacations, work becomes so much more satisfying. Okay, I’ll stop ranting and raving. This brings us to the end of the episode. What have we covered in this episode? We covered three things. The first thing we covered was this factor of doubling and tripling your income, and your customers. At Psychotactics we’ve grown organically. We’ve just done things and the list has grown to quite a sizeable number, but it’s very slow. It does matter. If you do what you love and you do it really well, and you will over time, then you will find that there are clients and there’s enough revenue, and you live a very comfortable life. You’re spending time with your family. You’re doing things that you really want. That’s what’s important. That takes us to the second myth, and that is that life doesn’t get easier. It gets easier if you do nothing with your work, if you don’t take feedback, if you’re not big enough to take that feedback. Because most of us are insecure and we feel like someone is attacking us when they give feedback, so we don’t ask for feedback. We ask for praise all the time. But praise doesn’t improve your work so much; feedback does. When you get that feedback, you have to do some more work. Of course that takes more time, and so things don’t always get easier. You just get better at it and your work gets better, but never easier. The final thing is that vacation is not the enemy. It has never been the enemy. We’ve made it the enemy because of crazy sayings that float around the internet. When you look into your childhood and your early years, vacation has always been your friend. You’ve just forgotten the friend and decided to adopt another friend, who’s a workaholic. Well, get rid of the workaholic and go back to your childhood. Go back to your young years and you’ll see that it’s a lot more fun. That brings us to the end of this episode. What’s the one thing that we can do today? Well this episode was not quite the things to do episode, but even so, one of the things that you can do today is make more work for yourself. Whether it’s in your personal life, the hobbies that you have, or whether it’s in work, you want to ask for feedback. You want to ask people to tell you what you can fix. Stop asking for so much praise. The praise is important, but the feedback is just as important. Create a little more work for yourself and then take a vacation. Because, as Barry Gibb said, you want to keep the music alive. When you listen to this podcast, we’re likely to be on vacation. We’re going to Morocco. Our trip is across the United States, then to Europe, then to Africa, then to Asia, and then back to New Zealand. Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities on the planet, and after our trip Nashville we’re going to be in Amsterdam for quite a while before heading to Morocco. It’s going to be fun in Morocco. No tourists because it’s not as hot this time of year. We’re going to be at a seaside place, really nice place, do nothing, just relax, just paint, eat, drink and sleep. The reason we’re headed back to Auckland in a bit of a hurry is because Auckland is amazing at this time of the year. It’s summer; there’s no one in the city. We go for long walks. When we get back after our vacation, we’re going to take another month off until February. That’s when we get back to work. If what I’m describing to you sounds so unreal, then remember that it was unreal for us as well. We decided that this is what we want to do. We want to take time off. We want to take weekends off. We put these things into place, and that’s what you should do as well. That’s exactly what the next episode is about. It’s about goal setting, but goal setting our way, and you would expect it to be different, so listen to it and tell your friends about it. If you haven’t given us a rating on iTunes, then please do so. If you would like to give us a one-star rating or a two-star rating, that’s fine. But give us a rating. If you haven’t done that already, go to iTunes, give us a rating, and total your friends about the Three Month Vacation. That’s me, Sean D’Souza, saying bye from Psychotactics and the Three Month Vacation. Bye bye. Still reading? Find out—The Three Obstacles To Happiness (And How To Overcome Them) http://www.psychotactics.com/three-business-myths/

Direct download: 104_Three_Extremely_Unusual_Business_Lessons.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

How do you make your product or service irresistible? With tens of thousands of similar products or services in the market, can you use simple techniques to create a great offer? This episode shows you two psychological methods that we can't turn down?as humans. We love both the buffet and the specialty. No matter if you're a small business or a big one, you can use these techniques and increase your product and service sales. In this episode Sean talks about Part 1: Buffet vs. Specialty Principle Part 2: How Studio 54 put out a buffet of fantasy Part 3: What does this mean for you when you’re selling a product or service? Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer. What Are The Factors in Play Behind An Irresistible Offer: Part 1 of 3 Imagine you’re Frank Sinatra. No matter where you go on the planet, people know of you. Doors open magically for you. People can’t help but gape in wonder as you show up at an event. So imagine a place where the great Frank Sinatra can’t enter. It’s inconceivable, isn’t it? And yet it happened. When Frank showed up at Studio 54, he was turned away. So was the president of Cyprus, the King of Saudi Arabia’s son, Roberta Flack, and several young Kennedys. Even the famous movie star, Jack Nicholson was unable to enter on opening night. Studio 54 was like no other place in New York From the moment it opened its 11,000-square-foot dance floor, it was packed with celebrities dying to get in. Olivia Newton-John, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger, Tine Turner—you get the idea—they were just some of the visitors to Studio 54. Almost every night since it opened its doors on April 26, 1977, it was packed to its capacity—almost 2000 people a night. If you considered yourself cool, you wanted to get into Studio 54—but there was no guarantee you’d get in. There was someone stopping the flow… This someone was at the door Studio 54 night after night. He’d show up at the door at 11:30 pm and get on a step stool above the crowd. He’d pick who could get into the club that night—and who was to be turned away. His name is Steve Rubell, part-owner and the person who made sure the Studio was one of the most irresistible places in New York! So what made Studio 54 so irresistible, when there were so many cool places in New York at the time? And what makes any product or service irresistible, even without star power? Let’s take a look at three core elements. Buffet vs. Specialty Exclusivity Build Up Buffet vs. Specialty Principle If you were to go to Lynda.com you’d be faced with a buffet. On Lynda.com there are hundreds of tutorials on software, business and creative skills. In 2004 alone, there were over 100 courses on the site. And that course number has gone up exponentially. For the past few years, Lynda.com been adding more than 18 hours of content, almost every single day of the year. That means you’re likely to run into thousands of hours of tutorials topics such as Photoshop, computer animation, 3-D animation, photography—in all about 224,413 tutorials to date. That’s a huge buffet, don’t you agree? And as humans, we’re primed for buffets. We love the “eat all you want” concept and it’s even better if the “food” is of an extremely high quality. This means that a potential client of Lynda.com can access all their content for just $250 a year. Immediately you see why this kind of deal is incredibly irresistible. If you decide to learn a program like InDesign, you can easily do so, because there are at least a dozen courses on InDesign alone. If you want to learn to work with WordPress, hey, there’s a mountain of video instruction already in place. No matter where you look, the volume and quality of content tantalises you. Which brings us to our first principle—the buffet principle If you’re offering your clients an enormous amount of something, they’re instantly drawn towards it, whether they can consume it or not. When given a buffet option, few of us can stop ourselves from feeling the need to buy the product or service. When you look at 5000bc.com, you get a buffet option 5000bc is the membership site at Psychotactics.com. The moment you get to the sales page at 5000bc, there’s a feeling of a ton of information at 5000bc. There are cumulatively, hundreds of articles on topics such as copywriting, web design, branding, lead generation etc. Which is why most clients tend to sign up to the membership site at 5000bc. It’s more than likely they’ve been a subscriber at Psychotactics for a while, bought and read The Brain Audit, possibly even bought some other books from Psychotactics—and then they’re exposed to 5000bc. And the buffet concept kicks in. At $259 a year (remarkably similar to Lynda.com), clients can get not only a ton of curated content, but also have the opportunity to ask me dozens of questions—some of which are answered within hours, if not minutes. This concept of a buffet becomes impossible to resist, and has been the main factor in attracting clients to 5000bc since it started way back in 2003. Studio 54 put out a buffet of fantasy The magazine, Vanity Fair, describes it as the “giddy epicenter of 70s hedonism, a disco hothouse of beautiful people, endless cocaine and every kind of sex. Once you were within the velvet ropes, you were exposed to raunchiness, debauchery and creativity of an unimaginable scale. “It felt like you were going to a new place every night,” says Kevin Haley, then a model, now a Hollywood decorator. “And you were, because they changed it all the time for the parties. Remember the Dolly Parton party? It was like a little farm with bales of hay and live farm animals—pigs and goats and sheep. The designer Karl Lagerfield’s party: an 18th century paty with busboys dressed up as courtiers, powdered wigs and then—a live reggae concert at 3 am in the morning. Another night might bring Bianca Jagger popping out of a birthday cake. Some nights might bring in a sea of glitter, another night Lady Godiva on a horse—or Hell’s Angels on Harleys on the dance floor. Ironically, the buffet-concept represents just one way to create an irresistible offer. The other way is the exact opposite—where you take away everything and create a specialty offer. Remember Lynda.com where you get over 200,000 tutorials? Remember the price? Yes, it’s $250 a year. And yet, at Psychotactics we sell an InDesign course that’s $269. It’s not an entire course in InDesign. It’s not even a partial course. All the course promises is ONE thing. It shows you how to create an e-book in InDesign in less than an hour. If you were to learn a course in InDesign, you’re likely to take at least 18 hours—and that’s the first time around. It’s likely you’d have to go through the entire course (or at least part of the course) a second time. And then when you’re ready to create your snazzy e-book, you have to work out which part of InDesign will help you get the result you seek. It’s not inconceivable to spend 40-50 hours just to get your e-book going. Now the specialty offer makes a huge difference to the client Instead of wading through hours of material, they get right to the point. And this specialty concept applies to more than just courses or training. A phone. Most of us want smartphones that have all the bells and whistles. But what if you want just a cell phone that makes calls? The Doro Phone Easy 626 does just what you’d expect a cell phone to do—it makes calls. Like the InDesign course, it’s not meant for everyone, but just a smaller audience that finds it irresistible. What does this mean for you when you’re selling a product or service? It means you can have your cake and eat it too. When we sell the book, The Brain Audit, it is akin to a buffet (like most books). It has several chapters and spans 180 pages. Yet, elements of The Brain Audit are then isolated. For instance, one of the elements, uniqueness, is a complete course. Another element, testimonial is a 100+ page book. Clients who buy The Brain Audit are extremely satisfied with the content and applications. However, when they want to go deeper on an isolated topic, they will buy the other products as well. Studio 54 catered to almost 2000 people a night—yet there was isolation in place If you were part of the select few, you could go down to the basement. The basement was essentially a storage area connected by zigzagging passageways. The in-crowd was in the basement, away from the party upstairs, mostly talking through the night and drinking bottles of a vodka brand— Stolichnaya. Even if you’re no Studio 54, you can have a smörgåsbord of goodies while at the same time putting a velvet rope over other product or services. And since we’re talking about buffets, a restaurant could have the buffet, while at the same time offering a special meal for just a tiny audience. A website designer could put together a website with all the bells and whistles—then create a service or product that was very niche and hence, irresistible. To be irresistible, you don’t have to choose between buffet and specialty items In reality a specialty item is easier to put together (because it’s less stuff, rather than more). In the grand scheme of things, it’s also easier to market as it has a clear point of focus. While we’ll look at all three elements: buffet/specialty, exclusivity and build up, it’s important to note that specialty is a great starting point. So start small—and charge more. This takes us to the second element: Exclusivity. Have a look here—for the continuation on How To Make Your Product or Service Irresistible: Part 2 and 3.

Direct download: 103-How-to-Create_Irresistible-Products-Services.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

What's wrong with this statement? Instead of wondering when our next vacation is we should set up a life we don't need to escape from.? There doesn't seem to be anything wrong, is there? And yet this entire line is based on a myth. And that's not the only myth that circulates so well and widely. Another myth is that a business has to grow; has to increase clients; has to increase revenues. But is that why you really got into business? Did you set out to create a life that's work, work and more work? Join us as we explore three big myths, and destroy them: Myth 1: That your business needs to constantly grow bigger. Myth 2: Somehow you'll have more time, and your business will be on auto-pilot / Myth 3: That we need to set up a life where we don't need to wonder about our vacations. / / Yup, incredibly silly business myths. Let's take them head on and get some sanity back into our lives, instead. http://www.psychotactics.com/three-business-myths/ ================ In this episode Sean talks about Myth 1: That your business needs to constantly grow bigger Myth 2: Somehow you’ll have more time, and your business will be on auto-pilot Myth 3: Vacation is the enemy and work is everything Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer. Useful Resources The Power of Enough: Why It’s Critical To Your Sanity Three Obstacles To Happiness: How To Overcome Them 5000bc: How to get reliable answers to your complex marketing problems ================ The Transcript “This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.” This is the Three Month Vacation. I’m Sean D’Souza. Imagine you’re a band, but not just any old music band. Instead, you’re the most popular band in the whole world. You’ve sold over 200 million records. You’re in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and probably only five or six bands have sold more than you in the entire history of pop. Barry Gibb has never done this before, never taken the long walk to the stage by himself. Speaker 2: Is it important for you to do this? Barry: Yeah, it’s everything to me. It’s all I’ve ever known. I don’t know how to do anything else. Speaker 2: t went pretty well, though. Barry: I can’t get a job. Speaker 2: He’s the only surviving member of one of the 20th century’s greatest vocal groups, and this night, at the TD Garden in Boston, he’s about to begin his first ever solo tour. You have to ask yourself why. Why would Barry Gibb, with all his success and all the money that they’ve earned over the years as the Bee Gees, do his first solo tour. It’s not like he needs the money or the fame, because they’re the only group in history to have written, recorded, and produced six consecutive number one hits. As Barry Gibb himself boasted, “We weren’t on the charts. We were the charts.” In that spring, as he hit the road across North America for six solo shows, every show was costing him half a million dollars a night. He said he would be lucky to break even. But that’s not the point. “I have to keep this music alive,” says Gibb. To me, that’s what embodies what I do. I want to keep the music alive. I think this is true for most of us. Most of us aren’t really looking for this magic pill. We’re not looking to double our customers, triple our income, do any of that kind of nonsense. What we’re trying to do is keep our music alive. We’re trying to get some purpose in our lives. The money, the fame, all that stuff’s really nice, but does it matter in the long run? At the height of The Beatles’ fame, John Lennon said, “Work is life, you know, and without it there’s only uncertainty and unhappiness.” When you look at someone like the guy who runs Uchida, a little restaurant in Vancouver Island, the restaurant is only open from 11:00 to 2:00. When you get there you eat some of the most delightful Japanese food I’ve ever eaten, and I have traveled to many places, including Japan. That magic is expressed in his work. He gets to work and he stays until the restaurant closes at 2:00. It doesn’t open for dinner because from 2:00 to 9:00 he’s preparing the next day’s meals. Every day the meal is just so amazing. It’s different every single day. It’s a big surprise, and it’s always amazing. Today I’m going to talk to you about three myths about business. We’ve run Psychotactics for the past 13 years, but the business goes back a long way when I used to be a cartoonist. I’m going to bring to you these three myths which I think are important. I think they’re important because everyone is talking about the other side, about more money, more customers, doubling your income, doing all that stuff. As I said, that’s really nice, but is there a flip side to it? That’s what we’ll cover in today’s episode. First up on the menu today is the fact that you have to grow. That’s myth number one. Myth number two is that things get easier as you go along. Myth number three is that you have to create a life that you don’t need a vacation from. Let’s start off with the first myth, which is you have to grow. Once a year, we have a really important meeting at Psychotactics. My wife Renuka and I meet with our accountant Steve, and we go over our accounts. We look at how much money we made in the year. How much are our profits? What are the expenses? All the stuff that you do with an accountant before you sign off everything. We’re in 2015, but when I look at the accounts, it looks exactly as it did in 2007. 2007 was a really good year. We earned twice, maybe thrice as much as we needed. Of course a third goes to the government. That’s just what you do; you pay tax. Even so, you had twice as much as you needed, and our needs are not much. We take our breaks. We go on vacation. We buy little goodies here and there, but we’re not flash people. We don’t have the flashiest car. We don’t fly business; we always friendly economy. We keep our expenses under control. But even so, having twice as much as you need, that’s quite a lot. The way that a lot of businesses go about this situation is to say let’s double it, let’s triple it. Here’s what I’m telling you. You don’t have to double it. You don’t have to triple it. You don’t have to enter that rat race. All you have to do is stay comfortable. That was your goal in the first place. Your goal as a business owner was to start up a business, to have control over your life, and be comfortable. It was not to struggle anymore. It was never to double and triple your income. In fact, when you read the stories of business owners that have doubled and tripled, and I don’t know, quadrupled, quintupled their income, you find that there is a huge sacrifice. That sacrifice is their family, their life, their health, everything else. When people talk about all of the extra stuff, the extra money that comes in, the extra fame, they don’t talk about that part until a lot later when they’re doing their memoir. The reality is you have to double or triple nothing. When we look at our list, for instance, our list grew from 200-300 people. Now there are 37,000 people. It might seem quite small when you think about it, because we’ve been around since 2002, to have only 37,000 people. I know it sounds like a lot if you don’t have 37,000 people, but if you’ve been around since 2002, you should have 350,000 people. Here’s the reality. Those 37,000 people don’t open the newsletter. Maybe 4 or 5,000 people open the newsletter at any given point in time. This is a reality. Out of those 4 or 5,000 people, probably 400 people generate more than 90% of our income. Most of them are our members at 5000bc. At this point, this whole message seems very conflicting, even hypocritical, because what we’re saying is we’re very comfortable. We are earning thrice as much as we need. We’ve got this huge list. I’m saying to you, don’t do that. Don’t go crazy over stuff. We could have had a list of 350,000 people. We could have ten times the income. What would we do with it? How many sacrifices would we have to make to just do that kind of stuff. Instead, the sacrifice comes from other places. This is where the growth really matters. When you look at many of the products at Psychotactics, you will find that they have been polished over time. When you look at The Brain Audit, it started with version 1, and then version 2, and then version 3, and then 3.2. that’s where we grow exponentially. When you look at the courses, they improve by 10% or 15% every year. How do we know this? Because we get feedback. Every course has one full day of feedback where clients tell us what we did wrong and how to fix it. We have to fix it, and that takes a lot of time. There there is the growth. We still take exactly the same number of clients for every course as we’ve always done. We never exceed 25. If you’re in a workshop, it’s never 30. There is never this need to continuously grow and grow bigger, and grow fatter, and grow … I don’t know. There is no need. The need is in making magic, in getting your work better. Why is this need so important? Because you as a person, you feel satisfied. You feel wow, my work has got better over the years. You’re fixing it and it’s improving and it’s evolving. Then you look at your clients and see that they are achieving these skills. Their business is growing. They’re more satisfied. They’re taking more vacations. You think, my mission is on its way. It’s not finished. It’s on its way. The benchmark needn’t be the fame and the benchmark needn’t be the money, and the benchmark needn’t be the growth. That’s one of the first myths that I want to take apart. Because almost every book out there is talking about something quite the opposite. In fact, yesterday I was on Facebook and there it was again: double your income, lessen your work. No, your work is interesting. Your vacations are interesting. I get the point. You can’t sell a book that says stay stagnant with your income. Stay stagnant with your revenue. Stay stagnant with your clients. It’s not going to sell. Maybe it will, I don’t know, but the point is it’s a myth. You have to be satisfied first. Your work has to bring great satisfaction and you have to be comfortable. That’s all that really is required from you as a small business. Let the Apple and the Google and all those big companies do whatever it is that they want to do. Let them double and triple and do whatever they want to do. That’s probably not for you. If you’re the person that enjoys your family time, and enjoys your life, and enjoys the little things, then this is how you go about it. Because, as we saw with the Bee Gees and Barry Gibb, the fame didn’t make that much of a difference. It made a difference, but at the end of the day, it’s about keeping the music alive. It’s about keeping the magic alive. That brings us to the end of the first part. Now we go to the second myth, which is things get easier. Back in the year 2000, if you went to a site called millionbucks.co.nz, you would find our site. Yes, I’m embarrassed by the name, but that was what I wanted to do right at the start. I wanted to grow the business, make a million bucks, do all the stuff that we’re told we are supposed to do. Unfortunately, no one, or very few people were making money online at that point in time. The online space was not seen as some place where you could go and by stuff. It was always about information and sharing that information. It’s not until 2002 that we launched Psychotactics. That’s when we sold our first copy of The Brain Audit. That was a big surprise. We were forced to setup our credit card system by someone else who kicked us into doing it. Then someone showed up and bought the first copy, took us completely by surprise. Then my wife Renuka would do a happy dance. She would get up from her chair and do a dance in the room. Then of course, as the months passed, we would get some more sales, and every time a sale came she would do a happy dance. It does get to the point where you can’t dance anymore and you have to sit down and do your work. You also buy into this idea that things will get easier. Because when we started out, we were working five, six, seven days a week. I realise there are only seven days in a week. But we were working all the time. We thought things will get easier, and they have got easier. But wait a second, we still put in five full days. We take the weekend off now but we still put in five full days, so how much easier has it got? The point is that if you want to do superb work, things don’t get easier. Because you’re always making it somehow better. You’re always learning. You’re always getting feedback, and feedback kills you. Because feedback tells you that your work isn’t as superb as you think. That dish that you just cooked, that you’ve been raving about, that you think everyone should praise you for, it’s too oily. There’s too much salt in it. Or maybe there’s just over the top salt and it tastes good but that’s too much salt for human consumption. You cannot take that feedback because that feedback means that you have to fix something. Clients will come back right after we’ve written a book and they’ll say, “You should fix this part or you should move that part.” They’ll get onto our courses and they’ll start to move things around. They’ll suggest different types of technology. We have to listen. All of that listening means all of that doing, and doing means that things never get easier. It’s like the story of the Golden Gate Bridge. They say they start painting at one end and by the time they get to the other end, they have to paint it again. I don’t know if the story is true, but that’s approximately what your business is going to be like. It’s going to have lots of ups and downs, but more importantly, it’s not going to get easier. If you want to improve your work, if you want to make it magic, you’re going to get that feedback. You’re going to ask for that feedback and you’re going to get that feedback, and you’re going to have to fix things. When you fix things, it’s work. When you create new stuff, it’s work. All of this work brings an enormous amount of satisfaction. I can look back at a lot of the things that we’ve done, and if it weren’t for the clients, I wouldn’t have done it. If it weren’t for the deadlines, I wouldn’t have done it. But all of it is work. You look at the storytelling workshop that we’re doing now in Nashville and Amsterdam. I would never have written the notes. I’ve written a series on storytelling. It’s available as a book. But this is more comprehensive. This is more in-depth. I’ve had to spend weeks working it out. I sit at the café looking pensive, drinking my coffee. Then it’s work. To me, it never gets easier, because you’re always trying to explore that depth, as it were. You’re trying to get that magic. You’re trying to keep that music going. We all start out with this dream of sitting on the beach and doing nothing. That’s not how the brain works and that’s not how the body works. In fact, if we sat at the beach and did nothing, we’d soon be a vegetable in no time at all. If we don’t do our daily walks, and we don’t exercise, and we don’t meditate, and we don’t do all the stuff that we’re supposed to do, we don’t do all this “work,” there’s no satisfaction in life. Today I can write an article in 45 minutes. I can do the podcast. I can do webinars. I can do a lot of stuff. What happens is you get much faster and better at doing stuff, and you want to get faster and better all the time because it improvements your work. You put more cartoons in the books. You tweak the workshops. You do stuff that only brings more work. Of course that’s why you need the vacations as well. Because you need to wind down. You need the weekends to wind down. That’s really how life continues. It’s not about the beach. The beach, that’s vacation time. There’s a separate time for it. The third myth is that vacation is the enemy and work is everything. Because we’ve been talking about work, haven’t we? Let’s look at this third myth, which is that vacation is the enemy. But is vacation really the enemy? It seems like it, doesn’t it? Because wherever you go on Facebook or on the internet, you run into this little saying by Seth Godin, and it says, “Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense to have a great life and you don’t need a vacation. It doesn’t make sense to me at all. Because when you look at that saying, what it’s saying is that your job, whatever you’re doing right now, or your business, whatever you’re doing right now, is so tedious that you’re not enjoying yourself. It’s saying that the enemy is that bad job, that unsatisfying job, that unsatisfying business that you’re running right now. And that you need to find something that is satisfying. That’s the enemy. Look what happened here. Vacation came in. Vacation came in as the enemy when vacation is not the enemy at all. That bad job, that’s the enemy. The good job, that’s your friend. Vacation is the time where you get better at what you do. You take time off just like a flight takes off, and it lands, and it has to refuel, and it has to be maintained. That’s what vacation is all about. It’s about going to new lands, learning about stuff, learning the different types of food, enjoying yourself, reading, sleeping, drinking, doing stuff that we did as kids. When we grew up, we weren’t working all the time. We’d go to school and then we had vacations. Vacations weren’t the enemy back then. How did they become the enemy all of a sudden? It’s because we’ve got this crappy job or we’re doing this business that is deeply unsatisfying. Then you have a statement like this, which is probably just off the cuff, but it has made vacations the enemy, and vacations are not the enemy at all. They are the friend. That’s myth number three, that you don’t need vacations. You need the break. Think of yourself back when you were a kid and you just enjoyed the time of absolute nothingness. You would like to get that again, wouldn’t you? What’s the point of sitting at work the whole time? There is really no point. You can fool yourself, but the reason why we sit at work the whole time is because we get what is called work momentum. We work and we work and we work and we work, and then that momentum takes us into more work. The moment we go on vacation, we’re thinking of what? Work of course, because that’s what we’ve been doing for so long. Then when you go on a vacation, if you have enough time on your vacation, you get into vacation momentum, and then you get more and more relaxed. Then when you get back to work, it’s very hard to get back to work. This management is important, this management of work and life. It’s important not to just take anything you see on Facebook, this nice little phrase, just because it came from Seth Godin or some other guru, and then take it at face value. You want to deconstruct it and understand why you did things the way you did. You want to see it from your perspective as a human being. You want to see it how you were when you were a child. Because vacations are like a drug. Once you take vacations, work becomes so much more satisfying. Okay, I’ll stop ranting and raving. This brings us to the end of the episode. What have we covered in this episode? We covered three things. The first thing we covered was this factor of doubling and tripling your income, and your customers. At Psychotactics we’ve grown organically. We’ve just done things and the list has grown to quite a sizeable number, but it’s very slow. It does matter. If you do what you love and you do it really well, and you will over time, then you will find that there are clients and there’s enough revenue, and you live a very comfortable life. You’re spending time with your family. You’re doing things that you really want. That’s what’s important. That takes us to the second myth, and that is that life doesn’t get easier. It gets easier if you do nothing with your work, if you don’t take feedback, if you’re not big enough to take that feedback. Because most of us are insecure and we feel like someone is attacking us when they give feedback, so we don’t ask for feedback. We ask for praise all the time. But praise doesn’t improve your work so much; feedback does. When you get that feedback, you have to do some more work. Of course that takes more time, and so things don’t always get easier. You just get better at it and your work gets better, but never easier. The final thing is that vacation is not the enemy. It has never been the enemy. We’ve made it the enemy because of crazy sayings that float around the internet. When you look into your childhood and your early years, vacation has always been your friend. You’ve just forgotten the friend and decided to adopt another friend, who’s a workaholic. Well, get rid of the workaholic and go back to your childhood. Go back to your young years and you’ll see that it’s a lot more fun. That brings us to the end of this episode. What’s the one thing that we can do today? Well this episode was not quite the things to do episode, but even so, one of the things that you can do today is make more work for yourself. Whether it’s in your personal life, the hobbies that you have, or whether it’s in work, you want to ask for feedback. You want to ask people to tell you what you can fix. Stop asking for so much praise. The praise is important, but the feedback is just as important. Create a little more work for yourself and then take a vacation. Because, as Barry Gibb said, you want to keep the music alive. When you listen to this podcast, we’re likely to be on vacation. We’re going to Morocco. Our trip is across the United States, then to Europe, then to Africa, then to Asia, and then back to New Zealand. Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities on the planet, and after our trip Nashville we’re going to be in Amsterdam for quite a while before heading to Morocco. It’s going to be fun in Morocco. No tourists because it’s not as hot this time of year. We’re going to be at a seaside place, really nice place, do nothing, just relax, just paint, eat, drink and sleep. The reason we’re headed back to Auckland in a bit of a hurry is because Auckland is amazing at this time of the year. It’s summer; there’s no one in the city. We go for long walks. When we get back after our vacation, we’re going to take another month off until February. That’s when we get back to work. If what I’m describing to you sounds so unreal, then remember that it was unreal for us as well. We decided that this is what we want to do. We want to take time off. We want to take weekends off. We put these things into place, and that’s what you should do as well. That’s exactly what the next episode is about. It’s about goal setting, but goal setting our way, and you would expect it to be different, so listen to it and tell your friends about it. If you haven’t given us a rating on iTunes, then please do so. If you would like to give us a one-star rating or a two-star rating, that’s fine. But give us a rating. If you haven’t done that already, go to iTunes, give us a rating, and total your friends about the Three Month Vacation. That’s me, Sean D’Souza, saying bye from Psychotactics and the Three Month Vacation. Bye bye. Still reading? Find out—The Three Obstacles To Happiness (And How To Overcome Them) http://www.psychotactics.com/three-business-myths/

Direct download: 102_Pebbles_How_To_Write_Sales_Pages.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

What is the meaning of life? This utterly vast and philosophical question pops into our lives with amazing frequency. But is it the right question to ask? What if we move the words around a bit and asked another question. Like: What gives your life meaning? Hmm, that changes things a bit doesn't it? And even when we change the words, we may still move towards the specific. So why does the abstract help more? Find out in this episode. http://www.psychotactics.com/meaning-of-life/ ---------------------------

 

------- The Transcript What gives your life meaning? It was 6:20 AM. I was close to the beach, halfway through my walk, listening to this podcast on Transom.org. There was this reporter who was asking older people how they went through their lives. They were 100 years old. She started out with this question, which was: What is the meaning of life? I’ve grappled with this question before, and it sounds very philosophical, but then somewhere in the middle, the question changed. Those words just interchanged somehow and it became: What gives your life meaning? I had to stop. I had to stop on the road just to absorb what that meant. Just by that little interplay in the words, suddenly the whole sentence, the whole construct changed. It was amazing to me. As you tend to do, you tend to try to answer the questions. I tried to think of the people in my life and I tried to think of the things that I do. Then I realized I was going about it the wrong way. In today’s podcast we’re going to cover three elements as always, but the way I’m going to cover it is, I’m going to talk about me me me. I’m going to talk about the three things that give my life meaning and why I approached it the wrong way. But I think it is the way that we need to approach it. Of course you might choose to borrow these, or you might choose to bring up your own three elements, but this is the way I think that you’ve got to approach the question: What gives your life meaning? Part 1: Space I think the right way to approach it is to go through an abstract sort of thinking. The three things that give my life meaning are space, deadline, and elegance. Let’s start out with the first one, which is the factor of space. About a month ago, it was August in New Zealand. Well, it was August everywhere, but it’s wintertime here in New Zealand. I had this little piece of paper in my pocket. I’d been carrying it in my wallet for well over a year, maybe a year and a half. This piece of paper had been given to me by my doctor. I’d done my annual checkup the year before and I was supposed to get the blood test done. I had been procrastinating for quite a while, as you can tell. That day I decided I’m going to park the car and I’m going to walk to the lab and get the blood test done. I wasn’t expecting anything. I’d been walking every day. I’d been eating sensibly, I think, drinking sensibly. Yet, the very next night I got some news from my doctor. He said, “Your cholesterol is high.” I went and looked it up, and I found that there was no real linkage to what you eat and cholesterol, but there is a very distinct relationship between stress and everything, not just stress and cholesterol but stress and everything. That is when I started taking the weekends off. Now we fool ourselves. We say we’re taking the weekend off but we check email and we work for a couple of hours, or do this and do that. Suddenly, the weekend is not really off. I found this to be true for me. I used to get to work, even on the weekend, at 4 AM because I wake up at that time. Before I knew it, it was 9:00, 10:00. I put in five or six hours on the weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. Of course I had my excuses. The podcast takes so much time, and we’re doing this course, and I have to write this book. When I got this report, I suddenly realised the importance of space. I realised that there is no point in me doing this stuff on a consistent basis and driving myself crazy, and that the weekend was invented to give us space. Now we take three months off, and you know that, but these minor breaks become very major breaks on the weekend. I had to find a practical use for this, because at the same time we have courses going on, like we have the headline course going on. Now our courses are not about just information. They’re about practical usage. Clients will come in five days a week and they’ll do their assignment every single day. This is a problem for me, because in the US it’s Friday, but here in New Zealand it’s Saturday. That means I have to look at the assignment on a Saturday. That’s what I was doing. I convinced myself it was only going to be a couple hours here or there. I had to then go to all the participants and say, “I’m going to take the weekend off, but my weekend, is it okay if I take it off?” I had to take their permission. No one had a problem. I don’t know I was expecting that they would have a problem, but no one had a problem. This is the concept of space. I’ve had to use this concept of space over and over and over again. Every time, it drives me crazy when I don’t. For instance, now I’m preparing for the storytelling workshop and I have to write the notes and do the slides. I have to create this space. I have to go away from the office and sit in a space that is quieter and less disturbing, and then work through that. This factor of space had an effect that I didn’t expect. Whenever you’re in any business, you’re always going to be slightly envious of someone else. If you’re a writer you’re going to be envious of other writers. If you’re a dancer you’re going to be envious of other dancers. It’s just natural human behaviour. Now a lot of people interview on their podcasts. Once we finish what we’re covering, they will talk to me just casually. Occasionally someone will say, “Oh, I’m so excited. We’ve just finished 1.8 downloads,” or, “Oh, we’ve got 5,000 more subscribers.” This used to drive me not crazy, but you think about it. You think, how come? We’re putting in as much effort into this podcast. How come? The question changed the moment I realized that space was important to me, the moment I realised that weekends were important to me. I started asking myself, are you getting the weekend off? I’d listen to that person saying that they made so much more money or they got so many subscribers. I couldn’t get myself to be envious. This was a change for me. This was a big change for me, because I thought that somehow that would never go away. The space became the benchmark. It was no no no, this is more important to me than the money. It’s more important to me than your subscribers or your downloads. Having that space allows me to think and relax. I have not felt this way, like I’m feeling right now, in a very, very long time. It’s taken me about a month to slow down completely, as in to feel really relaxed. It’s just because of space. This takes us to the second element, which is in direct contrast to space and quiet. That is deadline. Part 2: Deadline In 2014, we had one of the most harrowing years of our lives. It wasn’t harrowing personally, but professionally it was a real pain. That was because we had hacker attacks. It first surfaced on psychotactics.com. Now that is a very popular site, and for over a decade it has been in the top 100,000 Alexa ratings. It’s natural that hackers like that site. We put a little Band-Aid on the system and we fixed it, but they came back, and they came back, and they came back. They wouldn’t stop until the entire website had to be completely reorganised and rebuilt from the ground up. Then after that, they went after 5000bc.com, which is our membership site. They did the same thing. Then they went after the training site, which is training.brainaudit.com. You can just tell how frustrating this is. You’re going about your business as passively as possible, trying to keep your head above water, and these hacker attacks continue to come and disrupt your life and drive you crazy. When I think about it, the hacker attacks were the best thing that happened to us because they gave us a sense of deadline. When we think of deadline, we only think of writing books or an article or finishing this project, but the hacker attacks were so cool. They forced us to do what we hadn’t been doing for several years. We’d been putting off tidying up the website and making it just resistant to these fun-filled creeps. They came there and they went through the system, and then we had to pull up our socks. We just had to do whatever we had to do. This is the beauty of deadlines. A lot of people consider me to be a pretty crazy person, as in I’m doing a lot of projects. I don’t see myself that way at all. I see myself as a very lazy person. I see myself as someone who loves to lie on the sofa and get a lot of that space and not a lot of deadline. Yet, without the deadline nothing happens. All the books that you read on Psychotactics, starting withThe Brain Audit, they were written because someone forced me to do it. The cartooning course, I didn’t want to do it. Someone said, “Oh no no, you have to do this. I’ve tried all the cartooning courses. They don’t work for me.” I’ve written a book on storytelling, but to do the course was something completely different. I’m discovering elements of storytelling that I didn’t know existed, or I’m discovering depths that I didn’t know existed. Of course it’s frustrating to have to build a whole course from nothing, to write notes, to create slides, to get all the event venue, to get everyone to sign up. We could do without it, but putting that deadline in place gives my life a lot of meaning because it enhances what I do and it forces me to do it by a specific point in time. Take this podcast for example. In October we’re going to Australia to Uluru. For those of you that don’t know, this is Ayer’s Rock, that big red rock in the middle of Australia. This brings up its own set of deadlines, which is I have to write extra newsletters. I have to put in extra vanishing reports for 5000bc, and of course podcasts. I have to do more of these podcasts so that it covers all of October. Then in December we’re going to Morocco. I know, I know, it’s a hard life. The is that the deadline brings meaning to my life. Without the deadline I wouldn’t achieve as much as I do. Those creeps, those hackers, I wish I could send them chocolate, like howwe send our clients chocolate. Because they made such a difference to my life. They brought in this deadline, this “you have to do this right now.” It’s made our life different and I would say a lot better. The first thing that we talked about was space, and having the space creates so much of quiet in your life, and of course a lot less stress. The second thing is this factor of deadline, which forces you to rush, rush and create that stress. They both coexist together just like music. There is quiet in music and there is this huge flurry of notes. They both have to be that way because that’s what makes music. This takes us to the third element, which is one of elegance. Part 3: Elegance Now I thought about it a lot. Why elegance? Why not simplicity? Simplicity is so difficult. Why elegance? In 1990 I was still living in India. A pen panel from the United States came across. She was there for a couple of weeks. She created a deadline of sorts for me. I hadn’t seen a lot of India at that point in time and she wanted to see India, so we booked a trip. We got to the Taj Mahal. Now by this point in time I wasn’t doing very well with this pen panel. When I was in university we were sending each other letters, ten pages, 12 pages, really long letters. It seemed like we would get along fine with each other. Yet, the moment she landed that wasn’t the case at all. Something about her drove me crazy. Something about me drove her crazy. By the time we had reached Agra, which is where the Taj Mahal is located, we were pretty much going our own ways. She’d set out later, but me, I wake up early in the morning. I decided one day to go to the Taj Mahal as early as possible. There was this huge fog that was in front of the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t see it until I was very close, and it was amazing. It was stunning beyond my understanding. I’ve seen thousands of pictures of it over the years, but nothing came close to standing there right in front of it in that fog. As I got close to it, what struck me was the elegance. It was just so beautiful. It was simple. There wasn’t anything fancy about it. Sure, it was big, it was really big, bigger than I ever imagined, but elegant. It was so elegant. As we’ve traveled the world, we’ve run into places like Japan. When you buy something in Japan, it’s amazing. It’s like you never want to open it. You can buy the smallest thing in Japan and they put it in this little box and this little wrapping. Then they put this ribbon on it. Everything in Japan is so beautifully packaged that you never feel like opening it. There is this elegance to it. It’s not just thrown at you. As I started to be more aware of the world around me, it struck me that there are three ways to do pretty much anything. When you look around you, you see stuff that’s really crappy. We don’t want to go there because that’s just crappy and sloppy. That’s just how it is. Then you go to the next stage, which is where it’s simple. When I look at a book on Kindle, it’s simple. There’s just text. It’s been thrown in Microsoft Word. It’s out there, nothing to it. Then you look at something’s that’s elegant and you know that someone has spent some time and effort and simplified it so it looks beautiful and it reads beautiful. The words work together and the pictures work together. Suddenly you have this feeling of the Taj Mahal. It’s beautiful. It’s a monument. There are thousands of monuments in the world, but some stand out for their sheer elegance. To me, that’s my third principle, that when I create this podcast I somehow have to be dissatisfied with it. I’m happy, but I still want to improve it. That quest for improvement becomes quest for elegance. The best example of elegance is a software program, because when you look at a software program it comes out as slightly crappy. You have version one and it’s not so great. Then version two and it’s a little better. Then it gets bigger and more bloated and it stops being elegant. Now you have to improve things without making it bloated and terrible. You have to bring in elegance. That is the thing that gives my life meaning: to create information, or to create product, or to create a cartoon, or to do anything that is more elegant. The beauty of elegance is that sometimes it doesn’t get noticed, like when you’re watching a movie and there’s this music that enhances the movie and you don’t notice the music. That is elegance: that feeling of creating something that’s so beautiful that it doesn’t matter that no one notices it, as long as you know. Summary This brings us to the end of this podcast. I know it was about me, but I think it resonates with you as well. To me, the most important things, the things that give my life meaning, we could summarise them with three words, and that is space, and deadline, and elegance. Your three words might be similar, they might be different, but I think we have to stop asking ourselves what is the meaning of life, because that question is too big. Instead, it’s what gives our life meaning. Then bring it down to this whole abstract feeling. I think that’s the one thing you can do today. I think you can just sit down and write down these three terms on paper and start to think about it. What are three things that give your life meaning? Because even hackers can give your life meaning. So how can be solve the eternal problem—The Meaning Of Life? Or A Life of Meaning? Especially when Chaos hits us everyday. Click here to find out—Why and how to make chaos your friend. http://www.psychotactics.com/chaos-planning

Direct download: 101_How_To_Have_A_Life_of_Meaning.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

When you're giving away bonuses, it's easy to believe you don't need to give away your best product or service. The best information always needs to be sold—so you can earn a decent living. And yet, this podcast episode takes an opposite stance. You need to put your best stuff out in front—free. Yes, give away the goodies, no matter whether you're in info-products or content marketing; services or running a workshop. Giving away outstanding content is the magic behind what attracts—and keeps clients.

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Resources
To access this audio + transcript: http://www.psychotactics.com/100

Email me at: sean@psychotactics.com

Twitter/Facebook: seandsouza

Magic? Yes, magic: http://www.psychotactics.com/magic
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In this episode Sean talks about

Part 1: The Concept of Consumption
Part 2: Why Package Your Free Content
Part 3: Why You Must Feel Pain
Right click here and ‘save as’ to download this episode to your computer.

Useful Resources

5000bc: Where smart people come together to help each other honestly
Goodies: How to design a visual “yes-yes” pricing grid for all your products
The Brain Audit: Why clients buy and why they don’t

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The Transcript

“This transcript hasn’t been checked for typos, so you may well find some. If you do, let us know and we’ll be sure to fix them.”

What are the three benchmarks that you need to create this magic?

Many years ago when I started my cartooning career, I used to get all kinds of jobs. What I really loved was the plum jobs, the jobs where you had this fabulous stuff that you could do and used to get paid really well. I would spend hours and days and weeks doing those kinds of jobs. Then you had the recurring jobs. These were tiny cartooning assignments which didn’t pay very well, so I’d just work very quickly through them because well, they weren’t paying that much anyway. One day, my neighbor, who happened to be an art director of Elle Magazine, he stopped in and said, “Sean, why are you doing such a bad job with these cartoons? Why is it that this work looks so shoddy?”

Of course I said, “Well, they don’t pay much.” He said, “I don’t really know how much they pay when I look at your work in the newspaper. I only look at the work and I say, ‘This work is shoddy. This work is sloppy. As a reader, I’m not supposed to know how much you get paid. I only see the end result.'” This is true for us as well. In today’s world, where we’re giving away free stuff, we look at the stuff we’re giving away and we think, “Wait, we need to put in all our efforts into creating great products and great services. But if it’s going to be free, then we need to pull back about it. We can’t put in all the effort into free.” My art director friend would tell you, “I don’t see it that way. It cannot be shoddy. It cannot be sloppy.”

That’s what we’re going to cover today. We’re going to cover how you need to make your free product as valuable or even more valuable than your paid product.
What are the three benchmarks that you need to create this magic?

Part 1: The Concept of Consumption

The first thing that we’re going to cover today is the concept of consumption. The second thing is how it needs to have that unhurried look, that unhurried texture, that unhurried feeling. Finally, we need to feel pain, real pain. Let’s cover these three topics. Let’s start off with the first topic, and that is one of consumption.

In case you didn’t already know it, Netflix has been monitoring your behavior for a very long time. Netflix is big time into consumption. The reason for that is very simple. The more they get you to come back and watch serials and movies, the more likely you are to renew your subscription month after month, year after year. For ages, the television industry has suggested that the pilot episode is the most critical of them all. If someone watches the pilot episode, they’re going to watch all the rest, or at least that’s how the philosophy went until we ran into Netflix.

Netflix started pinpointing the episodes for each show season in which 70% of all users went on to complete the entire series. Here’s what they found. When they looked at Breaking Bad, the hook was not episode number one; it was episode number two. When they looked at the prison comedy, Orange is the New Black, they found that episode number three was the one that made the difference.

In some cases, it was episode number eight that made the difference; in some, four; in some, three; in some, five. What they found, however, was that people wanted to get to the end, and that if they got them to binge watch, they would watch all of them one after the other. What does this tell us about our clients? What does this tell us about our reports and our newsletters? It tells us that people are a lot more willing to give us a chance than we think, if we can get them to the end. This is why consumption becomes so critical.

When you look at all of those signups, you know those little boxes that say just give me your name and your email address, and let’s do this quickly. Well, that’s not how people really behave. When you do the study, people behave differently. They want to consume stuff. They want to spend more time at your site. They want to read a little more before they commit. When you’re creating a product, maybe it’s just a report, maybe it’s an article, a series of articles, maybe it’s a webinar or a podcast, people will take their time. They will give you more than one chance. It’s not like you need to have a sloppy first time, but it’s not like you have to convince them either. Because they take their time.

What you have the ensure is that they get from point A to point C at the very least. You have to get them through the stages. This is what we do with the Headline Report. When you get 2 Psychotactics and you subscribe to the newsletter, you get a headline report. It shows you how to write headlines, just taking three easy steps. But there is no hurry. You go through the introduction. It gives you the philosophy. Then it takes you to step one, and you’re able to create a headline, and then step two, and you’ll be able to create another headline, and step three and the third type of headline.

In under ten minutes, you can create headlines just reading the report, but it gets you to the end. When you get to the end, you already have this superpower. You have this ability to write headlines, to figure out which headlines are missing those components. It’s complete. What’s happened there is it has been designed for consumption. It has been designed to make sure that the client gets that superpower, that ability to do something.

When you look at a lot of the webinars online or the podcasts, a lot of the stuff is based on information. It is more and more and more information, but not stuff that you can directly apply. This is what we have to work at, because we’re not in the entertainment business like Netflix. Their goal is to make sure that you get to the end of the episode, of the next episode, and then right to the end of the series. They’re totally in the entertainment business, and we are in the information business, but we need to make sure that we’re not just giving information but we’re giving that client a superpower. We’re giving them the ability to write headlines. We’re giving them the ability to do something specific at the end of it. We need to start off with the end in mind. That’s probably what Netflix is doing anyway. They’re going, “What is the end point of this series?”

That end point is then creating all of the series back to back so that you get hooked. You need to ask yourself that question as well. When you’re creating a report, when you’re creating an article, when you are doing anything that you’re giving away free, the shoddiness comes from the fact that you were just going to give away information, more information. In reality, if you think about it from a perspective of when they finish this, what superpower will they have, that changes everything doesn’t it? That makes your client more likely to binge read, binge listen, binge watch, whatever it is that you’re going to throw. Then the free becomes more important than the product itself because they haven’t paid for anything and they’ve got this value which they just didn’t expect.

Consumption comes in very quickly and consumption becomes more critical than attraction and conversion, which gets bandied about all over the internet. You need to know how to attract. You need to know how to convert. Once you’ve gone through that, the third stage, consumption, that’s the most critical of all. You can start off with your free product or your report, or just about anything, as long as you know what is the end in mind and how will it help the customer get to that end and have the superpower.

That brings us to the end of this first section. Let’s go to the second section.

Part 2: Why Package Your Free Content

Let’s explore why your free product content needs to look very unhurried, and yet, very unpackaged. On Fridays, something very strange happens at our café. The usual baristas disappear and someone else takes their place. Now it bugs me when baristas get changed on Friday, because you’re starting to settle in, you’re starting to relax a bit, and then your whole routine has changed because of this change in barista.

Anyway, this new barista, she’s making the coffee and she places it in front of us. She goes away and the café is reasonably quiet, almost too quiet for a Friday. She comes over and she’s asks for my opinion. She’s says, “How did you find the coffee?” Of course I’m the wrong person to ask for an opinion because I will give it. She’s standing there for about 20 minutes listening to what I have to say, because I’m telling her how I evaluate the coffee. The way I evaluate coffee is I look at the barista themselves and I look at how they’re dressed. Maybe this is just me, but every time I see an untidy-looking barista, I get bad coffee.

The first thing I’m looking for is how tidy does the barista look. Then the second thing I’m looking for is how tidy does my cup of coffee look. Is there art on it or is it just coffee in a cup? Before I’ve even tasted the coffee, I have a pretty good idea whether the coffee is going to be good or bad. Then of course there are variables; that can be humidity, the temperature of the milk. There are so many variables in the coffee, but at the very core I’m looking for this unhurried professional cofee that comes out in the midst of a deadline. This is what your client is looking for as well. They’re looking for this report, this article, this information that is unhurried. They know that you’re busy, but they don’t care. They’re the clients. They want this product or this service to look professional long before they open it.

Packaging becomes very critical, and packaging needs to look unhurried. It needs to look like someone has spent a little time despite the deadline. You see this a lot in Japan. I have mentioned this before on the podcast, that Japan is probably the best place in the world to buy pretty much anything. You can go to the smallest store and ask for food, and you’ve seen how sushi and sashimi has been packaged. It’s always very cleanly packaged. There’s this design element around it. You can go and buy some sweets. You can go and buy a little pendant. You can buy pretty much anything in Japan and you get packaging. You get this look of unhurriedness.

When you have this product, whether it be a webinar or a podcast, you need to feel that packaging. What sets off that packaging? For instance, in this podcast. The story that starts up right at the beginning, that tells you that some amount of research has gone into the whole Netflix story. The fact that there are three points that we’re going to cover, that tells you that’s a very clear outline. This is like the barista. You’ve not really listened to the episode yet, but you get this feeling. You get this feeling that there is a logic and there is work put into this, and it’s unhurried.

That is what is critical, because it sets you up for the rest of the binge listening or the binge reading or the binge experiencing. You can tell the difference between a great presenter and a crappy presenter. You can tell the difference between a good writer and a bad writer. There’s always this factor of unhurriedness. We need to get the client to feel this packaging long before they get to the meat of the content.

Netflix, their research has shown exactly that: that clients are willing to go the distance before they decide this is really good or this is really crappy. We will walk into cafes and look at the barista, and either stay or walk out. It’s based on this factor of unhurriedness. How do they present themselves? How do they present their coffee? It’s the same thing for your product. You cover your introduction, your structure. That needs to be very clear before I get into the meat of the matter. That’s what you really need to work on.

That’s what makes the difference between a free product and a paid product. It needs to look like a paid product. It needs to look like something you paid a lot of money for, and yet you got it free. Now you don’t have to spend months and years working on this free product, but make it tidy. This takes us to the third part, which is the pain that you must feel when you’re giving away your free product.

Part 3: Why You Must Feel Pain

As you know, I like to cook Indian food. Two dishes that make me very happy are butter chicken and a dal. A dal is a lentil, by the way. If you were to ask me to give away the butter chicken or the dal, I would hesitate. Now I like them both as much, but I like one better than the other. Well, not really, but here’s the thing. I still would hesitate to give away the chicken, the butter chicken. That’s the kind of dilemma that you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with a situation where you’ve got this really good stuff and you’re not really that keen on giving it away.

You think maybe it would be a good idea to give away something that is not quite so salable. Because when you look at what you’ve done, you’ve spent a lot of time and effort, and somehow it seems like a shame to just give it away. You’ve got to feel that pain. You really have to feel that pain, because when you feel that pain, that’s when you know that the client is going to feel wow, this is amazing. It’s almost too easy to give away something that is not quite up to that standard. You know the standard. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, you know your standard and you know what’s possible, and you know your best. When you’re giving away your best, you feel that pain.

I remember the time I went and met a friend of mine. He is a world-class watercolorist. He had just finished a workshop in Auckland. Of course we met, we had a beer, etc. After that, he gave me one of his sketches. He just pulled it out from his bag and he gave it to me. What did I do with the sketch? I look at it, I said thank you, I took it home. Do you think it was his best sketch, his best watercolor? Of course not. It was just something that he was doing, just a rough sketch. It stayed around the office for a while, and then it went under the bed. Then I don’t even know where it is anymore.

Now, even if he were listening to this podcast, he would not know that I’m referring to him, because I know quite a few watercolorists. If you’re a watercolorist and you gave me a painting, there’s a pretty good chance that I don’t know where it is right now because it wasn’t your best. This is the whole point. When you give away stuff, give away the best stuff, or at least part of the best stuff.

Now we sell a course called the Pre-Sell Course. This teaches you how we sell our courses, how we sell our workshops, how we sell our products. We sell our products faster than pretty much anyone on the internet. Courses that cost $3,000, in 20 minutes the course is full. No strategic alliances, no ads, no joint ventures, no nothing. How do we do it in 20 minutes? The Pre-Sell Course shows you that. It’s not cheap; it’s almost $400. But we wanted the audience, our members, our subscribers, to understand how powerful this course was. What we did was we sliced it up into about a fifth of the course and gave it away. You know someone wrote back to me and said, “You know, I didn’t buy the rest of the course, but just using that one-fifth, I was able to launch a product very successfully.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking right now? We’re giving away stuff that is so powerful that the client might not even need to come back for some more, but they will come back. That’s what we’ve found consistently. We’ve found that when we give away stuff which is useful, that is consumable, that is powerful, the client comes back. Because that’s what happens in real life when you give away a sample.

Something that’s amazingly tasty, it’s not like the diner goes away and just doesn’t come back. We’ve found time and time again, and this isn’t the Pre-Sell Course by the way … There’s a whole section on sampling. It talks about how sampling increases sales by 200, 300, 400%. It’s incredible. I didn’t think that sampling could do that, but it does it. There are statistics to prove it. But if the sample itself is not so powerful, not so outstanding, why is the client going to buy a product or service from you in the future?

Summary

This brings us to the end of this podcast. We covered three things. The first thing was the factor of consumption. You need to get the client from one point the other. Interestingly, as we saw in Netflix, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to speed up the process. You don’t have to get people to sign up right away. They read, you know? They read a little bit. They read the introduction. They look at how it’s constructed. That takes us to the second one, which is your packaging needs to be great and unhurried. It’s like every time we go to the café, we look at the barista and we say, “How are they? Are they neat? How’s the coffee presented? Is it perfect?” That’s how you know you’ve got a great coffee. That’s how you know you’ve got a great product.

Finally, you have to feel that pain when you’re giving away your product. If you don’t feel that pain, it’s like giving away the dal instead of the butter chicken. It’s not that the dal is bad; it’s just that the butter chicken, well, you would rather be eating it yourself, right?

What is the one thing that you can do today?
The one thing that you can do today is to look at whatever you’re giving away and see is it built for consumption. Can they go from A to B to C and then have that superpower? If no, then you’re just giving information. We don’t need more information. We’re done with information. Just give me some skill that I can sort out in the next ten minutes, or 15 minutes, or 20 minutes, whatever, but quickly.

We’re done with this podcast episode. I store all my podcast ideas in Evernote, so if you’ve got some ideas, some questions you want to ask me, send them to sean@psychotactics.com, or on Twitter @Sean D’Souza, and Facebook at Sean D’Souza. If you’d like to join us at 5000bc.com, then please do so. It’s a place where introverts gather, and we talk and we discuss, and there’s a huge amount of information. I’m there 17,000 times a day answering questions, writing articles in response to your questions. It’s a cool place to be.


Still Reading? Now that you understand why free products need to be better than paid products or services, do you know how to price your products? Here is a detailed visual “yes-yes” pricing grid, to help you—Dartboard Pricing: Yes and Yes Grid. You’ll see how to construct the pricing grid (it’s easy), and then you can adapt the concept on your own slides, pricing sheets, or website. And yes, increase your prices! (http://www.psychotactics.com/cb)

 

 

Direct download: 100_Free_vs_Paid_Which_one_works_better.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm FJT

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.

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A friend wrote to me today and asked me what seemed like a pretty normal question.

She expected 5 lines, maybe 6.

Instead I ended up with 1800 words.
So what was her question? What traits do you consider to be hallmarks of quality in a piece of content?

The answer is something that most writers may not want to hear. It’s an answer that demands sacrifice, going against the grain and being persistent when things are going horribly wrong.

Still interested?

Well, here’s the question again: What traits do you consider to be hallmarks of quality in a piece of content?

The answer

1- contrast
2- lack of pandering
3- the gap between style and ability.

————
1) Let’s start with contrast

It’s the year 1986. John Heritage and David Greatbatch have an itch to scratch. They’re studying applause and what causes it. So they embark on what could be considered one of the most boring tasks in the world: they analyse politician’s speeches.

476 of them.

And what were these two poor souls looking for?

Applause, that’s what they were keen to find. Why was it that one speech received total silence, while other speeches got applause? But not just applause, but applause twice per minute!

Nineteen thousand sentences later they had a clue

It was contrast. The moment the audience encountered applause, the brain was no longer dormant. Contrast brought a smile to their faces, and cheering followed.

Contrast requires you and me to work so much harder

But contrast also puts you in a strange and precarious position. If everyone says: You should go this way and there’s a writer that says, “Nope, you’re headed into sheep land. This is the way to go”. Now that is going out on a limb. Contrast is scary. It’s much easier to say what everyone else is saying.

If you want to start with the hallmark of quality, contrast is where you start.

Let’s take an example of contrast

Let’s say you’re writing about a subject such as productivity, for example. Now productivity doesn’t bring to mind any sort of rest or sleep does it? Instead the enduring message of productivity has almost always been one of focus and concentration.

It’s always been one of working out astounding efficiencies to do more work than ever before. At this point in time, let’s say your article talks about sleep. It talks about taking the weekends off. It even goes on to suggest that you take several months off in a year.

You’ve shaken up the force a bit, haven’t you?

You’ve created a counter force that may at first seem impossible to defend. Yet, that’s what great writing is about. Conceptually, it stands out and picks a topic that’s contrarian. But not all topics need to be contrarian to have that hallmark, do they? You could write articles on topics that have none of this rebellious nature and still bring out the big guns.

This calls for a bit of a roller coaster in your writing

An article needs to have a flow so the reader can move forward, but just as important is a counterflow. So let’s say you’re writing about how to “grow a curry leaf tree”, you also need to bring in the counterflow as you’re writing.

That counterflow would be a possible glitch in the planting process. It could be a couple of mistakes you’re about to make. To be able to speed ahead, brake and go in a counterflow direction isn’t easy. Some writers do it while creating the material. Others create it later during an edit process.

Flow by itself is super boring

Try this paragraph for example: We went to the airport, there was no traffic on the highway. We got through check in and immigration in next to no time. And then we sat down to have a beer.

So what are you thinking at this point in time?

I’ll tell you what. You’re wondering if the story has any purpose. And yet, the moment counterflow comes into play, you’re alert again. Let’s go back to the story. You’ve had your beer, when a policeman walks up with a grim face.

That’s drama, that’s contrast. And the hallmark of a great article is the ability to insert contrast into various sections of your article. Case studies can have an up and down. The concept can start out being all in favour of something and then diverge without warning. Now you’ve created contrast and lifts the tempo of your words.

Counterflow needs to head back to flow, however

Too much counterflow and your reader is turned off. The grim policeman, the spilling of beer on your white shirt, the missing of the flight—and the article seems to be falling right out of the skies. Which is why contrast matters so much. Contrast is about a constantly evolving set of words that get you to slip slide through like—yes—a roller coaster. Up, down, up and down.

But contrast is only one hallmark of good writing. The second is a lack of pandering.


2) The second hallmark of great writing is a lack of pandering.

Clients often ask me if I write articles with keywords in mind.
The answer is no.
I never have. I’ve been told I can get ten times the traffic if I pandered to keywords, but frankly I don’t care.

The moment you pander, you’re not really writing for yourself

Most of the greatest writing is not done for another. Most outstanding writing is done to clear the cobwebs in your own mind. You know this feeling well if you’ve tried to do a bit of a project like writing a report, presentation, or a book. There are a million thoughts floating through your mind and none of them seem to sit well until you put them down on paper.

The reason why I wrote a book on the Secret Life of Testimonials wasn’t because a client asked me to do so.

I wrote because I had these floating ideas in my head. And when I started writing the book, I expected to complete between 20-30 pages. There was good reason for me to have this pagination estimate. I’d already written a book on testimonials earlier and the first edition stopped quite firmly at 30 pages. Imagine my surprise when I went past 30, onto 50, then over 75 and sailed past 100, before settling at 125 pages.

When you pander you lose your soul

You stuff keywords into your headlines, write less than interesting opening paragraphs and do things that just don’t resonate with being a writer. And we know this to be true with one simple test. Would you use those same words if you were writing the article back in 1995? Pandering means a compromise that’s not necessarily walking step by step with producing the best possible work.

No one is saying you have to be this crazy, independent soul forever

All of us end up pandering in some shape of form. The great artist and sculptor, Leonardo da Vinci was known to be a lover of nature and hated war. Yet he created some of the most destructive weapons.

And his patron, Cesare Borgia was one of the most hated men in all of Italy. Pandering at some level is almost inevitable, yet Leonardo didn’t stay in pander-land forever. He moved on creating work that was enduring and mostly for him. He didn’t want or expect you to see La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa. He did that for himself, to make himself happy.

Galileo stopped pandering.

The father of geology, a Scot named James Hutton, refused to pander.
Charles Darwin wrote 400 pages of stuff that rocked our world forever.
The biggest exposés, the most interesting movies, they all refuse to buckle down and pander even when they know that pandering is profitable.

So where’s the happy medium between doing what you love vs. pandering?

It’s impossible to tell, but when you create a benchmark for yourself, you can decide whether you have time and the resources to create better work, or just work that’s good enough for the masses. At first you may have no option.

You’ve got a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed and life is about meeting those obligations. To go down in flames before starting is not a good strategy. But then as you get a little more comfortable, it’s time to go out on a limb.

At Psychotactics, we set a benchmark for ourselves: we wanted to work nine months a year and take three months off.

Our income has been almost identical since 2007. We don’t need to double our income, double our clients or do any of that stuff that others find so endearing. This allows us not to pander. We know we can reach our goals easily and still do only the projects that are exciting and rewarding.

Pandering is an obstacle we all have to learn to overcome.

It applies to life, just as it applies to your writing.
You can be enslaved by headlines like “7 Ways to attract clients”. You can stuff keywords into all your content to attract the search engines. But every time you do you’re running your soul on the pander-grater.

That’s the second hallmark of great work: the move away from pander-land. Which takes us to our third hallmark of great work “achieving style through cross pollination”.


3) Which takes us to the third element: The gap between style and ability

When you first start writing, getting an 800-word article on paper is enough to drive you to devour a tub of ice-cream. In time, however, your brain works out what needs to be done. A combination of writing, learning, resting and confidence bubble up to the point where writing is never exactly a joy, but no longer a frustration.

Yet, when you’re done with the writing it seems to have no soul

It reads pathetically like the work you see all over the Internet. Yet as Ira Glass, host of “This American Life” says: “The reason we get involved in something is because we have good taste. But there’s a gap. For the first couple of years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good.

It has ambition to be good, but it’s not that great. But your taste—your taste is still “killer”. And your taste tells you that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people give up. A lot of people quit. And it’s only by going through a volume of work that you can close that gap.”

Ira Glass is referring to the gap in your brain

But what he doesn’t say in that video is what he and every other great writer or creator knows to be true. That style is about getting worse before you get better. Your work is bad but then turns crappy.

The reason why you give up is because you’ve pushed your boundaries and ended in crappy land. And you figure out: well, if I’m going to go from bad to worse, I must have no talent whatsoever.

And you’re right

Talent isn’t inborn. Talent has to be acquired. You have no talent whatsoever. And that seemingly stupid thing you just did when you pushed your boundaries—well, that just made the gap between your ability and taste so much greater.

There’s a reason, of course, why your work goes downhill

The brain is stepping outside its comfort zone. When the brain steps out into this frosty land it has to read a lot more. But not just a lot more in your own field. No, who told you that nonsense? Read about how continents were created, how birds took flight, why diamonds should logically never exist.

When you read, read many authors, copy many authors. But also push your reading and copying way beyond your immediate field of knowledge.

If you’re a designer, put your design books in a safe

If you’re an architect, go look for books on gravity.

If you’re going to really learn style you have to push up and wide at the same time. You’re going to have to learn your craft, yes, but you’re also going to have to get into other worlds. And there’s a good reason why. Style is an amalgamation of thoughts. You may consider your style to be unique, but every style is simply a melting pot, bubbling slowly and deliberately.

A lot of style seeps in when you’re reading, but there’s also a factor of copying

The greatest works of our times have involved copying (not plagiarism, but copying) to the point that you become a sort of style-clone. Then when you’ve had your fill of one, you copy someone else—and then a third, fourth and fifth.

One day you wake up and you have a style

You know this to be true because everyone around you says so. They comment on your unique style. They say it’s so different. And what they’re commenting on isn’t just a look.

It’s a culmination of your taste and your skill. A combination of the ideas of the masters that have gone before you. An amalgamation so deep that you feel the style is all your own but know deep down, that it’s come from that cavern of knowledge that’s too deep to go back into.

And then just as you’ve reached your pinnacle of taste, you realise you’re not the guru you aspired to be. You’ve climbed one mountain and there before you lie the Himalayas of taste. You have so many mountains more to climb. The gap continues to exist.

Let’s summarise, shall we?

Contrast is crucial. There must be flow, then counterflow and back to flow again. This is what makes for great content.

The lack of pandering is scary but that’s where originality springs forth. Pander if you must, but move away from the evil as quickly as you can.

The gap between style and ability is incredibly frustrating, but sooner or later you close that gap enough to be amazing, but never quite at the level you want to achieve. And that eternal gap is what keeps you interested in the game forever.

Useful Resources:

1) Why Inspiration Can Be The Key To Winning The Resistance Game
2) The Secret of How To Get Clients To Keep Coming Back Repeatedly
3) Three Unknown Secrets of Riveting Story Telling

Direct download: 99-Article-writing-advice-writers-dont-want-to-hear.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35pm FJT