Day 11 – The quick and dirty decision

Natalie: “Which business model is best for you and what one revenue stream is most feasible?”

Much water has flowed under the bridge since I last posted an entry. I was challenged in the interim to a heartfelt look at what I am doing to create revenue pursuing what I love.  On the one hand, I am selling myself, as a consultant working with SharePoint solutions.  But that pursuit represents a large shift in my career direction and I am starting essentially from scratch: new business, new network, new city. Hmmm. In spite of great intentions and, perhaps, unrealistic expectations, this has not taken off to the extent desired.  That is ok! I did, however, count on revenue from my old career of technical writing, something I do well and which is in some demand.  Not, apparently, as much demand as I would like! LOL…

So I started looking more closely at the world of internet business in keeping with Natalie’s line of thinking and which provides less location dependence and more residual type of income. I really need to find something that will generate revenue in the interim while I build my business and figure out what aspect the online part will cover.  It’s a bit of a challenge with so nebulous an offering. I mean, consulting?  How do you package that online?  Well, it’s done and I will do it–eventually. And so, on the other hand, I am planning for residual earnings as well.

Interestingly, the universe often (nearly always) lines up to provide for those who ask. And, believe me, I’ve been asking. I came across an interesting opportunity that I am now undertaking.  It’s relatively simple and straightforward. It’s not unlike what Natalie offers, just packaged differently and like anything, requires some considerable work up front. It will teach me additional fundamentals of internet marketing over and above what I am already learning from Natalie. I’m excited and eager to start. Well, I am starting and this will provide me with both immediate and residual income to fuel me while I build my consulting practice.

Stay tuned to hear more in case you too would like to participate!

Oh, and by the way, I have been invited to participate in a tiny consulting job! So it is unfolding as it should!

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Day 10 – Online profits? Who am I kidding?

Natalie: “What are the key ways in which you want to make money online in your chosen business OR Which are the key online revenue streams you want to focus on in your existing business?”

A recent revelation has me questioning just about everything in pursuit of my business the past few days.  I no longer know exactly how I will make money online. Until a few days ago, I was planning to do software consulting for business implementation and change management. Now, I have come to realize that I am not entirely, or easily, qualified to do the consulting I had intended.  Nor will I be able to obtain that qualification any time soon. In the meantime, it’s imperative for me to evaluate some alternative strategies.

With respect to an online business and regardless of specific content, I suspect I will produce video training products, some of which will be free, and other, more in-depth, available for paid use. For now, this is the only product I can foresee for now although, in future, I may have a template product which could be very interesting. Much of my business will be face-to-face at the beginning until I can learn other ways to monetize the web space.  I’d like to write a book but believe that books are not a great way to make lots of money. According to Bill Walsh, they are more like business cards.

The one I have begun to understand about online content, however, is that there are several key components to selling success: a video presence, so people can see who they are dealing with, an information-intense site to build credibility and trust, and the actual product itself. It’s critical to have a system that delivers the content in a logical, intuitive way making it easy for buyers to  purchase.  Finding ways to build suspense to introduce a concept is a great way to get folks excited. This afternoon I’ve signed up for a presentation to learn how to build a successful online business. There is a very defined system in place to introduce this opportunity and it’s impressive. First an email with a link, then a short video showing some great results–very large bank deposits! As well, there are work sheets to download and use during the upcoming webinar. I also received an email confirmation with these follow-up links. I am already excited and I have no idea what I’ll be watching.

The upshot of this post is that I am uncertain about my product, not clear about what to do, need some ideas for how to get started and looking for help. Thanks, Natalie, for assisting me to get rolling!

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Day 9 – Heroes

Natalie:  “Whose online business do you admire most and why?”

In starting the business I have in mind, while much of the product will not be online. I have learned enough from one of my mentors, Bill Walsh, to know that an online presence is critical to success.  From the “squeeze” page to the actual product offering, there are many places in between to promote a business–videos, blogs, advice, feedback, social media, newsletters and so on. I look forward to doing Bill’s Rainmaker Summit to learn more about how to do this.

Long before online business appeared, I bumped into Brian Tracy when I took his Phoenix Seminar. It was a fabulous, inspiring course that changed my life at the time. Just hearing his voice inspires me. Just now, I checked out his site. There are no fewer than 14 products referenced right on the front page which also features a video and a blog.  Phew!  

Bill Harris of Holosync fame got me hooked years ago with a free offering that and program that I eventually purchased. I used the program for months and months in a particularly stressful time and I think it saved me. I continue to receive emails that are packed with information, videos and lots of additional material both free and for sale.

Natalie Sisson was referred to me just recently and clearly she has her mission figured out because here I am.  Her online presence is hugely inspiring and the community she is building is truly astounding.

Lorna Vanderhaeghe has created a fantastic line of herbal supplements that help to build hormones and improved health in ways that most physicians don’t recognize. I saw her speak last week and was truly impressed. Her website is loaded with great information and giveaways and her products are amazing.

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Day 7 – Great tools, new and old

Natalie:  “Which key tools will you turn to regularly to maintain your mindset and how will you use them effectively?”

Answering today’s blog question now will bring me up to date and that, in itself, is the first tool: Do the hard stuff first.

Anytime, I put off doing something, I add it to my A list. Once it hits the A list, I have to do it as soon as possible. I’m developing a system which, I hope, will evolve into a really effective way to measure my progress. Each item on the Activity Log is either A, B or C.  An A item is worth 3 points, B is worth 2 points and C is worth 1 point.  But there are no points unless three A items have been completed.  This is somewhat arbitrary but so far it’s working. To date, I have accomplished anywhere from 9 to 17 points daily, with an average of 13 points (3 A items and 2 B items.)

Tool number two:  Stay focused on the end goal and believe, believe, believe.

I have now been looking for the next revenue generating contract for seven weeks. It’s not a long time and I should allow longer but the pressure is on. Maintaining focus and believing are psychologically challenging and more important than ever. I know something will fall into place soon. It always has.

My secret weapon, number one: Meditate every day.

At no time in my life has waking up in the morning been easy. Rarely have I leapt out of bed raring to go. But the early bird gets the worm. This I know and I strive daily for an early start. However, regardless of what time I wake up and finally sit up, I do my 10 to 20 minute meditation. While I learned great techniques for guided meditation years ago, it’s simpler now. I sometimes use internet ones–I’ll check out Natalie’s recommendations. I incorporate different things as I learn them. Lately, Dr. Wayne Dyer has some wonderful ideas I use every day. I am not entirely sure how effective my meditation is in empirical terms but my life is simply splendid and I just have to believe that the meditation contributes in large part.

My secret weapon, number two: Exercise.

This past June, a sidewalk jumped in my way and fractured my left foot. It was the first time in my life I have ever been sidelined so completely. As we, on the west coast, experienced the most stunning summer in decades, I found myself unable to walk far, unable to exercise, and, surprisingly, having to rest often because, darn it, my body needed to heal.  After an agonizing nine weeks in a cast, I was free!  I started back to the gym, swimming, riding my bike to the beach, attending Pilates and yoga classes, doing a Ski Fit class–it’s over the top! I realized how incredibly important exercise was to me–my goal, to do something active every day.

New-to-me tool: Start a mastermind group.

I did it! Only two of us so far but we have a weekly phone conversation to review our goals, chat about research and motivate one another. I look forward to adding participants and creating a vibrant support group to keep me going!

I know other tools will become part of my life but these are the keys for me.

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Day 6 – The hardest question yet

Natalie: “How to live life on your own terms? What are my three priorities for the next 30 days that will move me closer towards living life on my own terms?”

I’ve always been a follower disguised as a leader.  I am really good at appearing confident and knowledgeable.  Well, along the way I have become confident and knowledgeable <laughs out loud> but I know deep down that I’m faking it until I make it.  This is a huge confession to make both to myself and in particular in a “public” blog.

This summer I attended a really inspiring program called Coming Alive at The Haven on Gabriola Island. It was six days of very close contact with 26 other people. We spent three intense hours every morning and afternoon in a large group and then two or more hours in a smaller group in the evening. There were some prescriptive exercises where we practiced honest communication from a place of true feeling. In other words, what specifically do you feel in your body right now?  Needless, to say this type of exercise elicits a lot of emotional response. Some in the group had endured unspeakable traumas in their lives both recently and in the distant past. Once the emotion began to express in someone, the leaders would work with them to get right into the feeling and release it. Expressing all that pent-up emotion was the key to coming to peace in most instances. It was a miraculous process for the individuals but also for those of us who witnessed the experience. It was impossible not to feel very emotional along with the person who was clearing. And therefore to get in touch with some genuine inner feelings.

When you spend that much time with others in such an intimate process, it’s impossible not to begin to communicate in a brutally honest way. One of the highlights for me was being called a “performer”. I had hardly said a word in most of the open sessions and here was someone telling me exactly who I was! At first I was mildly indignant–afraid, is more like it. Then I realized that the truth had been spoken and I knew it all along. Busted! Performing always according to a script carved from my perception of my audience expectations, much of the time it worked well. Sometimes, it was a dismal failure.

All this to say living life on my own terms is a real challenge to define. And that is because I have been following along most of my life. It took me a very long time to even begin to understand what things were important to me in my life and how I wanted to live it. It turns out, as I grew older, I did bring many of my childhood values with me–integrity, honesty, spiritual pursuit. But the things I valued as part of my life were more difficult to figure out. Once I got to the West Coast, it suddenly dawned on me that I had finally landed in a place where I really wanted to be.  And I learned that skiing was, in fact, my favourite winter activity–something I pretty much knew but didn’t do enough of until my arrival in the big mountains. I also learned that I loved the beaches–there are seventeen beaches in the Lower Mainland. One summer I visited as many as I could. It’s relatively easy–there are ten accessible by public transportation! Even later on, I finally started taking real holidays (not visits to parents) and that was another epiphany. It became my passion to get to a west coast beach every time I went!

Recognize also that it was not all following along. I was never very good at working in a bureaucratic environment. Some hierarchical organizational structures made me cringe. I’ve been much more of a loner than not over the years. I’ve never fit into the pack, always circling the outside, dashing in and out of different groups. So I’ve managed to carve out a life on my own terms simply because I wasn’t willing to engage with the “gang”. To me this was more of a default life. That’s why this is such an interesting and difficult question.

And so it goes. The learning continues, there are bumps along the way–both small and very, very big and terrible–but they are all lessons that help discern how better to live my life, what terms I want to live it on and how that will continue to unfold.

Right now, to identify three things I need to do in the next 30 days to live life on my own terms, would be to outline how I have been living my life for the past few years–really, since I moved back to the West Coast. One, I focus on the moment knowing clearly what my goals for the future are. Two, I plan my actions according to the goal of the moment–growing my network, learning my business product, finding the next contract. And three, I live in the firm belief that the universe will show me the way.  With a clear goal in mind, the how will be shown. This largely spiritual practice has been working for me for many years and is vastly improved by clarity, self-care and being as positive and optimistic as possible every day of the week.

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Day 4 – Relocating the question

Natalie:  “What it really takes to be location independent?”

Wow, I don’t even know where to start with this one.  I don’t have a desire right this minute to be location independent because I have been down that road, more or less. Being the homebody that I am, I have always enjoyed traveling as a short-term thing-a week, two weeks, three weeks if I’m lucky.  Over the years, though, I have had much longer breaks from work where I was, in fact, traveling or living an alternative lifestyle. But often, those were unintentional times off where the work wasn’t readily available or I was having trouble finding what I wanted–and then, sometimes having to settle for doing something I didn’t want.  That happened too often and is probably one of the driving forces for wanting to make this business proposition succeed.

And here’s something else. I have just finished working for an organization that is 1000 kilometers distant from my home. So while telecommuting was terrific for me and worked out really well, I still needed to go to my office for five days every month and see my teams and enjoy some face-to-face contact–which I loved. But after three years of that, it was time to start looking for an opportunity closer to home.  It’s been a huge relief not to have to plan every single month for a business trip all the while trying to fit in other trips for myself (or my family).

So now, it’s more about simply being independent and creating a business that will let me travel when I want and not necessarily when I have to. And yes, with all the comforts of home–which can be a challenge in its own right. Today, for example, after two relative good days, I am having trouble getting focused. I have some really great things  happening–a potential part time consulting contract (very desirable and very luke warm), a potential technical writing contract (much less desirable and also very luke warm), a meeting with a SharePoint consultant that might (emphasis on might) lead to some consultanting hours (no temperature reading on this one) and a meeting with a company that will likely give me some consulting hours but no firm dates as yet.  This doesn’t add up to very promising. It means that I have to keep on networking, networking, networking.  I am running out of ideas for networking–I need some new inspiration.  I do have to go back and follow up on a few people–that is a good place to start.

OK, so I did a bit of that and after checking on a couple of social networking sites, came across an article on mindfulness and focus–interesting message for me there! So I will finish up my thoughts here first, post it, figure out “trackbacks” and then move on to the next task at hand. Over the past few days this focus thing has been an overarching theme. This week, until today, it went reasonably well, albeit with a couple of swerves along the way. And this afternoon, at least for the next hour and a half, I am setting the timer for my twenty minutes at a time.  This was a great strategy yesterday–wow, those minutes flew by–and I will see how it works today!

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Day 5 – Is a perfect day possible?

Natalie: “How to create your perfect day in work and play”

This should be easy. Why is it not easy? Do we really spend so much of our lives embedded in our everyday routines that we fail to envision our perfect life?  Well, yes, of course.  Who has time? Who has the money? Even when we plan a wonderful vacation, we know it is temporary. We save up for it. It’s a break from the reality of our regular life, a rest, a change and an adventure. And yet, here is Natalie changing people’s lives with the notion that you can run a business while you are on that vacation. She’s upsetting the idea of a vacation as an escape and making it an everyday occurrence.

Well, I have done this exercise before–more than once. And frankly, my life does improve by the day and is dramatically better than ever. While I am still not exactly living my perfect life, I am closer to it in many ways.

On my ideal day, I rise early, next to my perfect partner, feeling refreshed.  I manage this refreshed part on a few days. For awhile over the past year, I awoke at 5:00 am. I’d listen to the news, meditate for 20 minutes, and then head to the gym before 6:00. Waking this early means I can lie in for a bit if I want. Now, I am re-learning that routine starting at 6:00 am. It’s taking some getting used to and eventually I adjust the time back further. So this part of my ideal day is my experience. As for the rest…

My perfect world is around me to some extent. Living on the Canadian west coast is my ideal.  Granted, that beach-side house overlooking the ocean in a tropical climate isn’t quite attainable here. OK, we have a few palm trees, amazing and beautiful beaches, and many, many ocean and sunset views available. I won’t leave my fabulous downtown condo for anything but a home with one of those views. I have plans for that, it’s on my vision board and it is unfolding as it should!

So I can get up and go for a run on the beach first thing in the morning–preferably in the summer! And during the winter, I have another home in a balmy climate where I spend time. Unless, I am my Whistler home, where I’ll fit some skiing into my work day (unless it’s a powder day, when the 20 centimetre rule kicks in!).

On one of my dream days, in my southern-situated home overlooking the ocean, I have my breakfast by the pool–fresh-squeezed orange juice, my signature smoothie and fresh decaffeinated coffee–checking emails on my laptop. From 8:00 to 11:00, I work on my business–building my network, reviewing training for myself or others, updating my virtual assistant on social media tasks, writing, reading, listening, learning, planning. Then as it’s getting warmer, I dive into the pool, swim a few lengths, shower and get ready for my first appointment of the day–a lunch meeting in an outdoor cafe, discussing business plans and opportunities. On another dream day, I change and head for the slopes for a few hours of steep and deep turns before heading off to my next rendezvous.

After lunch, I have meetings with clients and associates–strategizing for success! This is the time when we dig deep and do the actual work necessary to profit in this business. If I don’t have a dinner meeting organized (al fresco wherever possible), I might head to the gym if I didn’t get there this morning because of a breakfast meeting. When I dine at home, it’s always a salad with fresh, local market ingredients and my signature salad dressing (I have a few signature recipes that can’t be beat!) and maybe a piece of  fresh fish–salmon or tuna caught by my local fisherman (seriously!). I usually read work-related material while I eat and sometimes I actually watch TV. But I have to get to the emails again for a while before getting ready for bed.  And it’s imperative that I lay out my plans for tomorrow so I can do some of the work in my sleep!

I get into bed as early as I can so I can read–still some work-related and then, a luxurious novel. Of course, sometimes, it’s 9:00 pm, and sometimes it’s midnight, depending on the evening.

Evenings can vary too. I do a lot of volunteer work so evenings can entail both performing this work, if it wasn’t part of the day’s activity, or attending a fund-raising gala.  I love these because it means I can dress up in one of my gorgeous outfits and go out looking fabulous. Sometimes, I entertain friends at home. I used to do all the food preparation myself but now I have a chef to help me put together wonderful meals so I can spend my time with my guests. As well, my delightful and inspiring partner makes a perfect co-host!

All in all, a day with any of these is a good one. When I retire at night and feel as if I had time to myself, productive time with others, some meaningful time with my partner, some entertainment, exercise, nutritious and tasty food and some fresh air, life is perfect!

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