You are not You. Weird…but true.

Let’s start at the end and work our way back.  When you die, what happens to the energy that gave you life?  Nobody knows.

Let’s strip ourselves down to the basic.

First layer – Our bodies, which are made up of our  brain, skin, hair, arms, legs and all the other body parts and organs.  

Next layer – Our lives, which is our situation.  The people around us – family, friends and everyone else that knows us.

Next layer – Our possessions – Our glasses, clothes, car and everything else we own.

These  layers make up our identity.  Everything that comes in contact with our, is part of our identity, especially our thoughts.  We exist in our present form (enter your name) b/c we recognize ourselves.  This is reinforced when other people recognize us.  It’s so real that it’s the only thing we can believe.

Ever wonder what the world is like without you?  Sure, a few people will remember you.  If you’re in the history books, your memory lives a little longer.  Most of us disappear after three or four generations.  I, personally, do not know any of my parents’ grandparents.  Not even their names.

The strongest proof that we exist is being alive.  I just don’t buy that when we die, nothing is left.  I believe the thing that gave us life continues.  It’s not something that has a beginning or an end, which is why we can’t comprehend it.

You may say that I feel this way b/c I’m afraid to die.  I don’t want to die today, but I do not fear it.  We die for a lot of reasons.  I hope mine is because I’m old and after I’ve lived my life.

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Biz Stone on Succeeding….Where Others Fail

Twitter just had an amazing IPO.  Ironic because all the press was saying that Twitter was over valued, but it managed was up 73% above their initial offering price.  Not sure if Twitter is worth $30b today, but what is true is that the team that created Twitter is very rich now.  I’d like to share some advice from Biz Stone.  He’s a billionaire now and is feeling generous with his advice.

“If I had one piece of advice to tell an entrepreneur, I always say, you have to have emotional investment in what you are working on……..You can’t just be working on something because you think other people will like it. That’s a huge mistake. The big thing I learned at Odeo was you have to be emotionally invested in your work or failure is guaranteed.”

Long story short, you have to really, really care about your product and your customers.  What’s remarkable about Twitter is that they held off the Googles and Facebooks who tried to start competing services.  Twitter won because they kept getting better.

Want more….read my blog post about Bo Peabody and the difference between being good and gettting lucky.

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Death – Thought of the Day.

“Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death.”
― Eckhart Tolle

We get attached to the world we live in, the life we create for ourselves and the people that are important to us.  This is what makes death such a difficult concept.  Letting go without knowing what’s waiting for us is stressful.  Most of us just ignore the subject of death, even though we all go to funerals and we all end up there.

What does not add up for me, in death, is that we’re fine dying when we’re old and broken down; but not fine with it when it’s childhood cancer.  How is a child dying make any of us feel better about death.  It’s something I struggle with.  I don’t think I’ll live to be ninety, but the concept of my premature death is not an idea that I can entertain.

Is our life like a trip to the store.  When you get home, it’s in the past.  The only trace of evidence that it happened is my memory.  If you wipe that away, did it happen?

 

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Want More Responsible Kids?

Make them work. I’m not saying to throw them in a coal mine, but responsibility is a good thing.   You should exercise it from a young ago.   It’s not only going to make your life easier, but it’s good for your kid.   Of course, just like anything in life, you need priorities:  family, school and homework come first.

Here is what they stand to gain:

  • They interact with adults and gain experience and confidence.
  • Understand the value of a dollar.
  • Appreciate their parents more….who work five days a week.
  • Since they’re younger, people do not give them a hard time when they mess up.
  • Less hours in front of the TV and video games.

I think too many parents are putting their kids in “La-La Land.” They think by doing everything right, their kids will get the advantage and succeed in life. It’s not what you do for your kids. It’s what they achieve on their own. This is the real world reality.

This is the premise behind Lemonade Day.  Encourage your kids to sell things.  Take them to work with you.  The defacto kid job:  lawn work.

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IRS Red Flags for Income Tax Return Audits

Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, Ltd. shares insight on IRS red flags and audits in IRS Red Flags For Income Tax Return Audits.  Read the article for a more detailed explanation, but here are the red flags.  In of themselves most of these are perfectly fine.  It’s how you use them.

  • Income Level
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Report All Income
  • Self-Employment
  • Put Business Before Pleasure
  • Home Office Deductions
  • Business Use of Vehicle
  • Be Careful With the Earned Income Credit
  • Avoid shady tax preparers
  • Be Careful With State Returns

Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, Ltd was a Chicago 101 Best and Brightest companies to work for in 2011.

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Excellent Advice From a Very Rich Man

Li Ka-shing is one of the riches men in Asia.  He said this to Anthony Scaramucci who later wrote in LinkedIn.

“…leave money on the table for your partners. Not only will you be very rich, you will be very happy. If you allow your partners to benefit from the deal, they always come back and want to do business with you. There will never be a shortage of opportunity.

It is the man who goes to the table to ask and squeeze for the last nickel who is never happy. Do you know why? It is because that person leaves the table, typically getting the nickel, but then hates himself for not asking for the two nickels. As a result, he is never happy.”

I guess if you think you have a shot at one deal in your life, you would not follow this advice.

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$19.5m Sports Memorabilia Company

SportsMemorabilia.com hits $19.5m in revenues in six years. They started out as more-or-less an affiliate listing vendors inventory on their site and doing a revenue share. Then, in 2011, they started buying merchandise and inventorying it in-house. They’re secret is knowing how to buy merchandise more intelligently, using complex analytics developed in-house.

I find two things remarkable about this company.  First the founder, Jesse Stein, is not into sports. He decided to surround himself with ten executives that are passionate about them. By his admission, he also handed out large chunks of equity.  Second, they’re building a business with triple digit growth in a down economy.

I read about SportsMemorabilia.com in Inc . Magazine titled, What a Killer Domain Name Is Really Worth.

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Killing ideas fast. This idea was a mobile app.

I think there is a benefit to killing ideas fast.  I’m not talking about knee jerk reactions.  I’m talking about researching correctly.  The conundrum with business ideas is:

  1. Somebody already did it.
  2. If no one is doing it, is it necessarily a good idea?

Recently, we wanted to start a mobile app for ordering concessions at a sporting or music event.  Sounds like a cool idea?  You enter your seat or scan your ticket, a menu pops up, order and someone brings you all your food and drink. Apparently it’s not that good of an idea.  It’s called FanGo (or Bypass Lane see the bottom)  .  At that time, FanGo raised a little over $550k.  They were looking for another $435k.

  • It did make it to Inc. magazine where a few VC’s proceeded to shoot down the idea.
  • The idea is over two years old and I’ve never heard of it.  Sure, it’s been in Mashable, but it never really made it past that.
  • Then you look at the mobile app.
    • Less than 200 downloads.  This is very telling.
    • 50 1-star versus 68 5-star.  If you remove the friends and family, that’s closer to 10.
    • Not compatible with the most current version of Android, which means they probably trashed it.

Now, they created some buzz, probably realized that there were some major flaws like:

  • Mobile internet at sporting/concert venues sucks b/c of the density of people.  If it’s not instant, it will not work.  Someday, the arena will provide it, but that may not be enough.
  • Sure, the venue’s made more money, but they had to spend money and change the way they do things.

So is it a good idea?  Owners like Ted Leonsis wants to bring it to the Verizon center in DC.

I guess we’ll see what Bypass Lane does.  They look more invested and claim to have 39 venues (Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and more).  I would love to know the economics.  On the Android side, they have at least 10,000 downloads, but only 63 Android and 65 iPhone reviews.  I still think it’s a cool idea b/c I would use it, but………………….. a dog from a business standpoint because I don’t see the support from the venues and you still have to compete with the stand alone concessions.

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Start your day successfully.

Inspired by an article in Fast Company titled, “What Successful People Do With the First Hour of Their Workday“.  I’ll put their list at the bottom.

  1. Stretch a little, breathe and realize all the good things in your life.  I think this prepares your mind to work better and get you off to a good start.
  2. Look at your list from last night.  I think it’s important to write down three things you want to accomplish from the night before.  I feel like this helps with focus and it gives you something to look forward to in the morning.
  3. Spend the first hour (what I call) planting the seed.  This is where you work on tasks that will position you for success one year from now.  The opposite of busy work.
  4. Now do the things that you have to do.
As an aside, I also think the people you surround yourself with make a monumental difference.  You need to be around people that match or exceed your ambitions.  These people are not necessarily your friends (or family) and you may be better off if they are not.  For me, family is the most important thing.  Why let something (like money) get in between that.  Here’s another post I wrote on doing business with family titled, “3 Rules of Starting a Business“.

Here is the Fast Company list:

  1. Don’t check your email (David Karp of Tumblr).
  2. Gain Awareness, be grateful (Tony Robbins).
  3. Do the hard stuff first (Brian Tracy – author).
  4. Ask yourself if you’re doing what you want to do (Steve Jobs).
  5. Customer service (Craig Newmark of Craigslist)

 

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Good article on your website’s design

With a website, I think the best methodology is to work from the back forward.  What is your ultimate goal and work backwards from that.  For example, if you want them to fill out an application, how do you fluff them into doing this?  Here are some pretty good concepts from Michael Mothnerof of an online marketing firm named Wpromote.  You can read the full article at Inc Magazine Online.

Here are the main points:

  1. Avoid buttons that ask too much.  My personal favorite is not on this list:  “Learn More”.
    1. Best Button:  “Next”
    2. Worst Buttons:  “Free Consultation” or “Get Started”
  2. Your Headline.
    1. Short and simple.
    2. Make sure it prominent and eyes are drawn.
  3. Limit the Navigation.  This is my personal favorite.  I think websites are evolving to look more like an ad as opposed to a website.
    1. On your sign up / contact form remove your other menu options.
  4. Keep the content short and simple.  You don’t want to much data there.  My opinion is that your website is step 1 of a few steps to getting a customer.
    1. You want them to “Like” you on Facebook
    2. Sign up for your newsletter.
    3. Request a consultation.
  5. The Hero image.  This is the main image on your home page.
    1. Make sure it’s personable.
    2. I like short videos.

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