Being a Salaried Employee vs. an Entrepreneur

Oftentimes we talk about being our own boss and dream of being a self-employed entrepreneur or a lifestyle business owner.

We talk about making lots of money, about quitting our boring day jobs, and early retirement?

We aspire about starting a lifestyle business and later perhaps someday even turning it into a billion-dollar empire! 

Not all career ladders go up, some are just flat 😉

Employee vs. Entrepreneur

But, have you ever wondered what would be a better course of action for you? Being a salaried employee or being a small business owner? Perhaps, the best answer depends on our particular situations and where we are in our life.

Let’s say, you are a small business owner. Whether you have an online store or you are hustling as a Solopreneur.

Small Business Owner

Say you work as a contractor (or are self-employed, for example as an uber driver).

Say, you make $40/hour and work 40 hours/week. That’s ~ $84,000 USD per year. Sounds like a lot of money, right?

But, do you realize:

You’ll be taxed 22% off that money by the Federal government

You’ll be taxed 5% off the remaining by your State government

5% will be gone into your health insurance

5% extra will be taken to match your share of Social Security and Medicare Taxes

10% of the money will go on gas, car insurance & maintenance, & other business expenses

10% will be spent on comfort good or eating out because of stress

20% of that money will be gone in unexpected emergencies and/or later years health care costs as you get older

25% will be gone in rent and utilities if you choose to live *modestly*

The Long Term Outcome

This leaves you with 0% money for investments, education (self-improvement), travel, and other life events (weddings, etc.) or life emergencies.

Now, knowing this and giving this some more thoughts, would you still do it? Would you still drive for Uber or start a small business?

If so, what would you change and how would you split your expenses and which investments and savings decisions you would make?

You don’t have to be a slave or a drone

Now let’s say you are a 9-to-5 slave to your stable biweekly paycheck. Let’s see what happens in this case.

A Salaried Drone

Say, you make $84,000 a year. Say, you get 2 weeks of paid vacation, paid okay healthcare coverage, and a 3% match on 401K contribution.

Let’s say you live in the city as the above example and your transportation, utilities and rent expenses are the same.

This means, you are spending the same money as in the above situation BUT, you are getting:

  1. Ten days of paid vacations + 10 paid national holidays each year (Read: this is your opportunity for having a paid vacation)
  2. You are saving 5% of your income on healthcare because it’s provided by your employer
  3. You are getting 3% extra income-bonus through your employer’s 401k match, and also you are forced into saving at least 6% – 10% of your income each paycheck
  4. You are not contributing double taxes in Social Security and Medicare taxes because your employer is paying it for you
  5. Because of life and income stability, you are less worried and therefore you can afford to make a plan about bringing lunch from home, not eating out, and even putting some money towards an emergency savings account.

What would you do? Which path will you take? Would you rather be an unhappy 9-to-5er or will you try to strike your own destiny?

Are you an employee or an entrepreneur? Why/why-not?

Cog vs Clog: How to Build A Healthy Company Culture

Every organization is made up of and sustained by a group of interdependent individuals and teams. As boring and unromantic it may sound, the truth is most of us are usually just a cog in a big, complex machine.

So, for a moment let’s accept that we are all cogs. Once we are past the terminology (and get real with life), we can come to the meat of today’s topic.

Alright, are we cool? Now, assuming we are cogs, then the question is what IS our true role and purpose? What is the expectation from an individual contributor and a self-organizing team?

Hello! What’s the status / The Naked Soul

Cog vs. Clog

A cog (member) helps continue or transfer the motion by positively engaging with another cog (member).

A clog (member) on the other hand sucks the energy from the rest of the system without providing any real value. Worst yet, they block any positive movement and become a hidden impediment to the long-term success of the team or an organization.

Why Bureaucracy is a Bad Idea

A good rule of thumb is ‘less is more’. A simpler system, a simpler administration, a simpler rule, and regulation is always better than a complex one.

Every complex system runs the risk of accumulating some clogs over time (due to hidden and asymmetric risk and rewards that gets built into the system over time).

Mostly, this is due to the apathy of team members and over-complexity. And, bureaucracies are inherently complex systems.

The Long Term Cost & Damage

Most of the time, by the time clogs are identified and removed, much of the damage is already done. It is therefore critical to employ “prevention is better than cure” approach in cogs vs clogs dynamics.

No matter where the clogs are (anywhere from the C-suite to the most junior individual contributor), they will continue to impact the rest of the cogs. With time, the damage accumulates in terms of cost, loss of individual morale and team spirit.

It is important to realize that any large and complex system will develop some clogs over time. It is in the nature of complexity. In other words, you can think of it like this:

If something (a solution, new regulation, new process) is too complex to implement, it means, it already has a lot of built-in clogs. You may first want to do a precision surgery to shake out and identify the clogs. Once the clogs are identified, you may want to simplify the solution by removing all of the clogs from the rest of the otherwise healthy system.

Teamwork is about leveraging everyone’s strength / The Naked Soul

Clogs are the Organizational Fat

Clogs can be found at any level in an organization (large or small). Whether it is your lowest level cog or a C-level executive, a clog if left untreated can potentially choke the growth of the company at any level.

That said, unfortunately, there is one area in any organization that is notorious for harboring the maximum amount of clogs. Take a guess before you proceed.

My guess is that your guess will be likely correct because let’s face it, there is nothing new under the sun.

Non-Producing Employees

Okay, before we jump into non-producing employees, let’s first take a step back and think about what do we mean by “producing” vs. “non-producing”?

A producing employee (a functioning cog) is someone who is consistently bringing value to the team and the organization. Ideally, on a daily basis. The project or work won’t move forward without this cog.

A non-producing employee (oftentimes a clog in the system) is someone who is not producing anything directly but is only responsible for filling in the voids or generating reports on other people’s work. Without these non-producing, the work can still successfully carry on and someone above or below this person can easily absorb her or his role and responsibility.

Now, please keep in mind, a non-producing employee can do more than just reporting or filling in the void. They can also work as a grease, an organizer or team motivator or problem solver or may even step up as a passionate team-player.

In such cases though, these folks, (irrespective of their primary roles) are not only bringing in value but they are beneficial to the entire team.

Where are the Clogs?

Question: Okay, so where are most of the clogs in any average/typical organization?

Answer: Mid-level Managers.

Did you guess it correctly? If so, please let me know in the comments. If your answer is different from mine, please let me know that as well in the comments.

Hard Facts and Easy Choices

It is a hard fact that it is very rare to find a good and effective manager. And, truth be told, it is far easier to hire a narcissist and dysfunctional manager (because they are good at roleplaying) than to groom and promote your own employees into managerial roles.

But there is a way to weed out these notorious clogs. Most ineffective and bad managers lack empathy and accountability. The term “bad boss” is used for a boss who fails to protect her or his team and uses fear tactics to get the work instead of investing real emotional energy into the team or the product.

Understand, many mid-level managers are people who are skilled enough to get to the management positions but rigid or broken enough to not realize that they have become a clog in the system. They focus their time and energy in playing petty office politics with the sole intention of protecting their jobs. The team, the product, the organization doesn’t even fall in their priority list.

Building a great team is like solving a puzzle

What Should Leadership Do?

In case of having to decide between a non-producing, status-reporting middle-managers vs. not having anyone at all, it is better to go with the latter choice. The company and team’s productive and ROI is always greater when there are no clogs in people’s tracks than having an extra helping hand.

The absence of negativity is much more beneficial and powerful than having one extra person on the team. So, when in doubt, it is better to remember and practice the wisdom of “less is more.”

Beware of those who just trade their 40 hours with constant noise and ho-hum for a steady paycheck. This particular category of non-producing cogs soon turns into the stickiest clogs causing severe blockages.

Clogs are not only harmful to the company culture in the most direct sense but they are also responsible for turning the rest of the cogs around them less-productive, less-motivated, and less-engaged. Which leads to workplace politics.

Remember, it takes time to play office politics. And you don’t want either your time or money spent on any of that. Nor do you want your resources doing the same.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Ideal Education System: The Future of Education

Everyone feels that the current education system is broken and outdated. Throughout the history, we have had several forms of educations. Before we talk about the future of education or an ideal education system, let’s first look at our history.
 
In the ancient Greece city-states, for example, the purpose of education was to produce good and loyal citizens.
In ancient Egypt, education was not for the common citizens. Formal education was reserved mainly for the priestly caste and boys from the wealthier families. Girls rarely were taught in public. These ancient Egyptian kids started school at the age of 7 and were taught to read, write, and as well as mathematics.
 
In ancient India, kids at a very young age were sent to an ashram (similar to a private boarding school) where a child lived in close proximity to his guru (teacher) and was taught in person or group setting for up to 7 to 10 years. In some schools, the curriculum covered learning about medicine to martial arts.
In ancient China, formal schooling systems were established as early as 2000 BC. The curriculum covered reading, writing, basic mathematics, poetry, Confucianism, and interpreting I Ching. 
 
During the industrial revolution in England, the purpose of education was to the train future factory workers. However, times have changed. We are currently living in the age of superintelligent computers, rockets flying to the Mars, and self-driving cars.

The Future of Education

What should be the future of education? Can we design an education system that will be both well-rounded and meaningful for our future generations? A system that is compatible with both the spiritual and scientific aspects of our life. 
 
I believe every human child should be taught and trained in the following 11 disciplines. It is best to design and structure an education system in the following fields from grade 1 through 10. (That’s first 10 years of formal learning.)
 
Afterwards, each student (or seeker) can pick some of the fields to master for another 10 years. (This will be a combination of 10,000 hours and practical and experiential internships in any given field.)

Ideal Education System

An ideal education system and the future of education will be structured into the following 11 domains. It will cover all aspects of human life.
 
  • Language and Literature
  • Music (Instruments, Dance, Singing)
  • Martial Arts & Survival Skills
  • Mindfulness & Philosophy
  • Foundational Maths
  • Foundational Science
  • Computer & Machine Programming
  • Metalearning (Learning how to learn)
  • Entrepreneurship
  • World History
  • Human Rights & Social Governance

Let me know what you think of this structure? Would like me to expand on these 11 domains? Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below. 

A Perfect Blog Is Like A Perfect human Body

I have been on the Internet now for more than 18 years now. And, I have been blogging for the past 12 years. Starting from the Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Blogger blogs, WordPress blogs, to Facebook Notes to the many aggregated blog platforms.
Eventually, for me, this long journey reached its first significant milestone with the launch of “The Naked Soul” blog in 2015. The next major milestone was the launch of “The Art of Travel” blog in 2016. The third big milestone for me was the launch of my eCommerce site,  The Art of Travel Store, in 2017.
This may seem like a long time, but I feel we are in the beginning stages of a really long journey. Eventually, all humans and many A.I machines will have their own blogs, eCommerce store, biodata, resumes, medical history, and other details, all online, for anyone to access at any time, based on access level.
 
But my today’s blog is not about A.I. or the future of the Internet. Today, I want to talk about the perfect blog.The anatomy of a perfect blog. What makes a blog perfect?

A Perfect Blog

A healthy and successful blog is like a perfect human body. It has strong bones, healthy blood, lots of muscles, some fat, beautiful face, is attractive, has great skin, and has healthy-functioning joints. It is flexible. It is adaptable. It is resilient. Above all, it is living and growing.
 
I’ll take the example of my own blog here, The Art of Travel blog.
 
The Art of Travel is a baby right now. It is growing fast. It is healthy and it is cute but it is far from perfect or matured. Let’s note, it’s only an 18 months old baby right now.
 
The FREE Destination Travel Guides on our blog is its Bones.
The hundreds of Blogs are its Blood.
All the Content on the blog is its Meat and juicy Fat.
The formatting and structure is its Skin.
The Home Page is its beautiful Face.
The hundreds of internal hyperlinks in our blog’s thousands of pages are its Joints.
 
For this baby to grow into a strong, matured, perfect human adult, we are working to make its BONES strong. The thousands of FREE Travel Destination Guides need to be expanded and showcase the best and most gorgeous photos from each destination.
Like a human skeleton, these bones (destination guides) connect to each other and form sections (Asia, Europe, Australia, etc.)
 
Our current focus on the Travel Blog is building muscles and adding some “Meat” and “Juicy Fat” to it. The several hundreds of blogs that we are planning to publish each year are just that. It’s like adding meat to the skeleton. More blogs, more juicy stories, more topics are like making this blog work out and build up.
 
The Internal Hyperlinking Project (similar to Wikipedia structure) is making sure all Joints are properly linked and functioning. The more joints a body has, the more flexible, bendable and adaptable it becomes.
 
The Skin (formatting) and Face (home page) are already healthy and glowing. We are just ensuring that this shine stays.
 
A healthy blog is never complete. It is always growing. And, we will keep it growing.
 
That’s it. This is “the Secret” of giving birth to a winning blog, a healthy and growing blog. This is how we are planning to raise this The Art of Travel baby. This is it. This is all. 
 
PS: I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what you think is the best way to grow and build a perfect blog. Please comment below.

The Ultimate Thesis On How To Crush It On Social Media

How to crush it on the social media? Today’s customers and fans expect every brand to be on the socials. And most brands are. We are. But, how do our fans judge us? What are the criteria that determine which pages, personalities, or accounts get followed or which brands are cooler?

I have found that there are three critical criteria.

Social Authority

What’s the first thing you notice when you stumble upon a brand’s social page? The number of followers it has? Right! Why do we look at this number and why is it important? It’s important because we unconsciously judge a brand by its existing social reach and authority. The bigger it is, the more trust it has.

If a million people follow a particular t-shirt company, then their t-shirts must be good. So we must also follow them to see what they have got and how can it benefit me! A big follower count matters! It demonstrates dominance and most people want to cheer for the winning player!

Social Engagement

Soon after when are back to the reality and the flashing light of big numbers fade into the background, we look for who else is excited to be part of this brand’s community? What’s their story? Who all are commenting and what are they saying? Or, am I the only one excited here until I move on to the next one.

If a brand page has half-a-million followers but no one is talking in the comments, and no one is sharing, then something is wrong. Either the brand doesn’t care about its community or the community doesn’t care about the brand. Either way, it’s just a bunch of inactive people clumped together without their consent or awareness. May be they were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!

Immediately your mind will go, “may be they [these fans] were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!”

So, as a brand, you need constant engagement to sell your story to a new prospect and to keep the current ones engaged! What could be better than to make your community part of your brand’s story? Think about it!

Advertisement vs. Entertainment

Ok, yes, I like these fan pages but that doesn’t mean my existence is for the consumption of their products. We need fun. More of it. The last criteria that we use to filter who to follow and who to unfollow is by how much advertisement they push upon us vs. how much valuable information or entertainment they share that engages me. It’s all about the value add!

What benefit am I getting by following this brand? Are they inspiring me? Do they have solutions or answers to my problems or questions? Are they affordable? Are they high quality and better than their competitors? Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their damn marketing!?

Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their dumb marketing!? As a brand, you must answer to these and make sure you are positioned in the best possible way!

Treat your fans with respect and love! If you truly care for them, then show it to them by sharing your best content, information, videos, Infographics, etc. for FREE! Then, go for selling and even then keep it to a minimum! Let your fans come to you for a purchase. You want to pull them with your story, not push them through excessive marketing!

Thanks for reading! You have a beautiful day!

The Attack Of The Pollens | Spring Pollen Allergy

Two years ago I had my first nightmarish experience with pollen allergy. Since, I had no clue what I am having, I went on suffering for weeks without knowing how to treat my symptoms. Spring season pollen allergy is bad and I wrote about it in full details describing what can you do, from taking allergy tests to various allergy prevention method.

But what is an irony here is that when you are an allergy sufferer, you feel helpless. Even though when you know that you have pollen allergies, you can’t do anything but suffer when the pollen allergy strikes back.

These are some of the quick tips for the uninitiated:

1. Sign up for allergy alerts (pollen.com is a great resource for that). You can set it up as a text alert on your mobile. As simple as that.

2. Monitor the allergy counts in your town or city on a daily basis. All you want to look for is: Low, Medium, High.

You job is to protect yourself on High Pollen Count days. If possible, do not go out. If you have to get out of your sealed bunker, wear sunglasses, cover your nose and/or face, wear full length clothing and when you get back to you home, immediately discard the cloths and change into a fresh sets of pollen clean clothing.

Also, since the pollen counts are higher in morning hours, try not to go out from 5 am to 11 am. Avoid, dry and windy days in particular. Winds are your enemy.

3. Keep your house windows and car windows closed. Do not use outside air setting in your car or home AC.

4. Wash your face and hands with lukewarm water and take anti-allergy medication. Keep the anti-histamines handy and take it before the pollen counts get higher. Remember, you will get hit. The solution is to be proactive.

You are not going to beat pollen at this game. So, the best you can do is prepare to minimize your suffering.

5. Some basic rules which should be common sense. Take shower daily. If you go out, then may be twice. Shampoo your hair whether you go out or not. Change your bedsheet and pillow covers every 3 days and wash them well with hot waters.

6. Avoid rubbing your eyes and nose. You will only irritate them more and make it red from inflammation. If your eyes are too itchy, use eye drops and lie down and rest. Close your eyes and rest. Rest. 

It’s too much repititon but it is important my friend. I know what you are going through. Trust me, I suffer just as you do.

Sometimes, taking breaks from work is the best thing you can do stay consistent with your daily chores and work. So, don’t be shy from just taking few hours off to give your eyes a break.

Doing this will only lessen your pain, anger and suffering.

Remember, you can not control pain but you can minimize your suffering. A lot of suffering is self-created.

Let me know how are you doing this year.

For one thing, (I must say) this year has been actually better. It’s mid-May already and the pollens have just come out now. Just one more month and you will be happy like a puppy playing in a big playground.

Just hang in there. We are close to the end of spring-pollen-allergy season.

 

10 Years Business Plan and 1 Million Dollars A Year Income

the right way to do anything

Today, I am going to reveal my 10 years plan. As many of you (those who are regular on the Naked Soul blog) know we started this community to connect like minded individuals around the concept of “naked soul” in summer of 2014. This blog was launched in Oct 2014.

I published the Naked Soul, book I (a collection of erotic love poems) in January 2015. We started the Naked Soul Podcast in November 2015 and here we are today. It’s already April 2016.

2015 was a great year for me. But 2016 came with disappointments. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer and I went to care for him full-time for almost 3 months. I stopped the podcast series, stopped blogging, stopped writing and did not get paid for almost 2 months.

I had to borrow huge amount of money from my relatives to pay for my father’s medical bills. It was brutal to say the least. Emotionally I was at my all-time low and the entire first three months of 2016 was just painful and exhausting.

After I returned back to my normal life (not sure if I am truly back to my normal state of being), I started to write and blog aggressively. I am re-starting the Naked Soul podcast and working on publishing my second book (a poetry book on a spiritual theme). Sign up for Naked Soul VIP letters to get notified when it comes out.

Okay, so coming back to main topic for today’s blog. I was assessing my standing, my expenses around running this blog, podcast among other things and my income statement today. I have to admit, things do not look over-the-top, but I do see a trend here and a viable options to create a million dollar a year company which adds probably over 100 folds in value in return to the naked soul community and society in general.

I started The Art of Travel project which we would be launching soon next month. We separated Health & Fitness and Travel from the Naked Soul and created separate YouTube channels, blogs, social media accounts, and so on. So, now, our vision and messaging is even more clear and focused.

Although, traveling to explore your inner self, staying healthy so you can be of service to others and living like a naked soul are all related. Yet, we decided it is better to separate the three so that we can serve each communities within our larger community better and effectively.

What I wanted to tell you though is you can do this too.

I am going to outline my plan and revenue streams. I have written about some of these income streams in my other blog posts so make sure to read them. I won’t be repeating anything in this blog post. Everything is new and fresh. We want to take a step forward.

To cross $100K in yearly income and to hit 7 figure income you first need to plan out your long term financial goals.
Following is my financial goal as a whole (which includes The Naked Soul, The Art of Travel, & Fit Couple Goals):
Year 1 2015 $500 (yes, I made only $500 in my first year)
Year 2 2016 $2500 (5X growth)
Year 3 2017 $20,000 (10X groth)
Year 4 2018 $60,000 (3X growth)
Year 5 2019 $120,000 (2X growth) (one person retires)
Year 6 2020 $250,000 (2X growth) (both person retires) 
Year 7 2021 $450,000 (1.8X growth)
Year 8 2022 $675,000 (1.5X growth)
Year 9 2023 $875,000 (1.3X growth)
Year 10 2024 $1,052,000 (1.2X growth)
What is X factor here?
The X denotes the times or multiplier. So for example, 5X growth means five fold growth or growing 5 times. Similarly, 1.5X means growing 150% or one and half times compared to the previous year.
Income sources
There are several ways you can bring in revenue. Some of these income sources bring in revenue for me today and some don’t. But as your community matures you can can be sure that all of these revenue sources will bring in some cash flow for the engine to keep running.
You need cash flow or else your engine will shut down. So, you have to plan this out from the early on.
(In no perticular order)
  • Blog ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Book sales
  • Podcast ads
  • Merchandise/Other Products
  • Speaking fee
  • Online Courses, Webinars, & Trainings
  • Private Consulting
  • Affiliate Income
  • Freelancing
  • Investment
  • Jobs/Gigs
There is a good chance that you are either a freelancer or a employee somewhere meaning you have a job (full time or part time). The first step is to bring in enough cash so you can safely exit and begin serving your community full time. To grow something into a self-sustainable business, you have to give your 100%.
And you can’t give your 100% if you work 8 am to 6 pm. Can you? Well, not really then read: learn how you can grow when working 8 to 6 is your only option. I was there. Been there, done that. 
My main objective is to replace my current private consulting income and begin engaging in full time entrepreneurship.
And, by year 10 (i.e. by year 2024), I want the enterprise to cross cross 7 figures in revenue. Well, revenue is not same as income, but that would be sufficient to grow these communities world-wide.  
Next, I will suggest you to draw the vision board for the next 2 years, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years. I did that. This is a very important step. Don’t skip it. Spend a lot of time creating your vision board.
Next, like ours, your biggest challenge is going to be the first three years, 2016-2018. 
But, having said that, after you have created and spent time absorbing your vision boards, just FOCUS on hitting the 2016 goal for now. Just focus on Year 1. That’s it.
Our 2016 goal is to bring in $2000. You can set a different number. It can be $100 of passive income. Or it can be $10,000 of side income in year 1. Again, it doesn’t matter. You decide and then plan it out according to the formula that I have just shown you above.
So where are we in 2016?
So far in 2016, we have made, $490 (Naked Soul YouTube) + $20 (Art of Travel YouTube) + $20 (Fit Couple Goals YouTube) + $380 (print book sales) + $200 (kindle) + $170 (Naked Soul Blog)  = $1280
$ Made = $1290 (in 120 days)
Target by Dec 31, 2016 = $2500
$ to Hit Target = $1220 (246 days to go)

I am totally confident that we are going to hit our goal.

If you noticed, one trick is to set a realistic goal; a goal that you are likely to hit and one which is not easy either. This way you won’t feel disappointed if you fail because you won’t fail too far off (if you fail at all). The point is not to avoid failure but to really hit your target. 

And, if you succeed, your small success will act as a motivation for you. This will make you more likely to work harder for your next year goal.

Let me know if you any questions? I would be happy to answer anything you may want to ask me.

Take care for now and stay tuned for The Art of Travel. It is a beautiful, beautiful website with a lot of great essays, entertaining videos, inspiring pictures from around the world, travel tips & hacks and more.

May the Circle Complete: How To Deal with Negative Experiences


my only wish

I am feeling sad today. Actually terrible. I just learned that someone I trusted and admired actually turned out to be not so nice after all. A cunning businesswoman who pretends to be something different.

I feel hurt by her actions but I am also thankful to her. She is in a place of higher power and could have done more harm to me (if she wished). Maybe she is not a bad person. Anyways, she doesn’t owe me, anything. Nothing. She has been nice to me in the past and has also helped me. Perhaps, this was it. Perhaps, this is as much and as far as we go. For now.

It’s true that I am feeling hurt, betrayed and angry. But do I have the position to feel so? Am I justified? Maybe not. What about her help and kindness in the past.

So instead of sending her a nasty email that I typed, I sent her this in an email. It turned everything 180 degrees around. No, my loss was not reversed or compensated. But the feelings between us changed. The air around us became breathable and lighter. I don’t hate her, why should I? She is on her own path and her mistakes are her seeds of her own destiny. I wish her well for her future.

What about me? My heart? I feel better. I wish she benefits from me from the things that I am doing with my life. I do not have to like her to wish her well. I can simply wish her well. In all sincerity.

What should I do with my losses? Actually, nothing. That’s right. Nothing. First of all, what loss? I am posting this quote on Instagram, I am mentally sane, physically capable and hopeful for my future. Why should I worry or feel that I am at loss? I have people who love me, I have a great happy family and a good circle of funny and capable friends. What more do I need in life anyway!

I am happy that I saw the light. I am lucky. I am proud of myself for not sending that nasty email. Instead, I chose to send something positive, light-hearted and loving.

Thank Universe! This is an awesome day and I love my life.

12 Tips On How To Develop Self Confidence & Self Esteem

This is a common question and a good one. I am assuming the right question is “How do I develop myself in general?” Or, “How do I improve myself to be more successful in all areas of my life.?” Let me offer some perspectives on these questions as I answer them in this blog.

To grow in life, you need these 10 things and everything else will follow.

1. Good Habits: Build good habits. Build as many as you can. Good habits are going to benefit you in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life. You can learn a new skill or add an activity you like to your daily schedule. Habits are powerful and helps eliminate procrastination (which is critical for success in life). What are some good examples:

Making the Bed in Morning: This is small thing yet it creates peace, order and harmony in the otherwise chaotic life.
A Simple To-Do List (No Bigger Than a Postcard): This one simple habit is that one productivity hack that you have been looking for.
(If you are a early riser) Waking up a little early and watching the sunrise, or taking a 10 minute walk in the nature or outside in the fresh air. The morning hour has a powerful affect on the human brain.
A short (5 min) session of meditation and yoga or stretching.
2. Become a Master: Try to figure out what you are interested in and decide to become an expert in that. A world class expert, master of your field. How do you do this?

3. Start Small: Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, break it into smaller milestones and goals. If it is a business, break the ultimate goal into sub-goals and milestones such as number of clients, revenue, monthly volume, etc. If it is a degree program, break each semester into interesting milestones such as networking with one Influence in your field per semester, one foreign travel (or road trip) each year, etc.
4. Share Your Vision (But Selectively): A few trusted people in your circle should know about your mission. Once you have told others about your venture or goals, they will you ask you about how is it going? This will become a constant reminder for them and you would be bound to share frequent updates, your challenges and your small victories. Most importantly, you will feel accountable to succeed. This technique also comes in aid should you need external motivation and a little pressure to up your game.
5. Affirmations: Practice affirmation and talk positive to yourself. Do not tolerate negativity and negative people in your life. Share love but remember you do not owe anything to anyone but to yourself and no one owes you anything. Yet, practice compassion, empathy and altruism. Find a problem and make a purposeful intention to solve it.

Examples:

  • This is a new day. I can start a fresh, new journey today.
  • Today could be the last day of this earth. I promise to myself to appreciate everything that happens during the day.

 

6. Travel: When you are traveling, you are learning more than you can ever from a book or a school program. Traveling is the ultimate reading. You learn about adaptation, living in discomfort, empathy, new cultures and how other humans just like you live in a different place and culture. Travel is fun, a lot of fun. Learn a new language and you will enjoy traveling even more.

 

7. Read Great Books: Read a lot of books. Read whatever you can afford and get your hands on. Good or bad, all books are helpful. A good book will feed your soul. A good book will uplift your soul and will inspire you, teach you and tell you how you can become skilled and great yourself.

 

8. Promise Yourself that You’ll be Great: This is the Law of Self-fulfilling prophecy. It is true that what are you think is what you will attract in your life. This is not magic but science. By dwelling on a thought you are constantly focusing on it and searching for it. If it is negative and about despair, your brain will automatically give more importance to matters related to despair and hopelessness. Likewise, if you think of learning and education, your brain will automatically start spending brainpower (energy and focus) on things that you want to learn.

 

9. Look for the Big Picture: Life is short. Before you were born the Universe existed for 13 billion years and after you will be home the Universe will keep on going for equally long time. The fact that we are here for a short period of time makes us think of time in a unique way. Life is short. Try to make the best out of it.

Some practical advice:

There is no gain in fighting and arguing. In any adversity, look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself: will this thing still matter 5 years from now? 20 years from now? If the answer is “No”, don’t stress yourself.
10. Attitude of Gratitude: Whatever you have and whoever you are as a person, father, leader, daughter, employee, anyone who you think you are is the product of countless people and their miniature help and support to you. Sure you have done the hard work and the bulk of it but remember the phone you are using is built by someone in China, designed by Apple in California and uses chips and hardware made in Germany and Japan. We all are living well because hundreds of thousands of people are contributing to each other. There is plenty to be thankful for.

 

11. Uplifting Association: A lot of what we eat, do, watch and talk are highly dependent on who we hang out with. If you are into fitness but five of your closest friends (with whom you spend most of your time) are into pizza and unhealthy lifestyle, there is no way you can be lead a healthy and fit life. What should you do instead?

Associating yourself with positive people, you will pick up their (good) habits and start thinking positive, talking positive and living a more positive life.


12. Practice the Power of Spoken Words: The spoken words have tremendous power. Whatever comes out of your mouth shapes your thinking in a major way. What you speak (in front of others) creates an image of you. And by your image you shall be treated and judged. If you have set up an image of a no-nonsense, cool and happy guy or gal, your peers will start treating you in a cool, fun, positive way. Choose your words carefully. They literally carry the power of life and death.

Read more on some other aspects of self-development in my other blog posts:

When you work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., how do you grow as a person?

What is the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle?

How can meta-learning be taught? (Learn how to learn)

 

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Instagram Tips: How To Succeed On Instagram

“Last spring, Forrester analyzed more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks.

 

Unfortunately those brands achieved less than a 0.1 percent engagement rate on six out of the seven platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram posts, however, generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Let’s look at a real life example of this difference.

This week, Red Bull posted a photo of Lindsey Vonn on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, the brand’s 45 million Facebook fans had liked the photo just about 20,000 times, while its 2.2 million Instagram followers had liked the photo nearly 70,000 times.”

Instagram Tips

So what does this mean? Seven social platforms analyzed. It means, Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat included. Your effort should be more on Instagram than other social media. Instagram for writers or artists means:
1. Make good art consistently (which many of us love to do). Write, record audio, music, paint, draw, sing, dance, talk, whatever you do
2. Turn your art into poems, quotes, pictures, videos
3. Post them (in fact, post more frequently 4x/day)
4. Cut videos, audio, music into 15 sec or less frame & post as videos or slideshows
5. Engage with comments and other users
6. Reply to relevant DMs
7. DM other Instagram users and build a team/network of friends 
8. Collaborate and do S4S (shout for shout)
9. Unofficially advertise on Instagram through other big accounts
10. Officially advertise on Instagram through Facebook

Currently, many of us are not doing a lot of these steps in our Instagram marketing and outreach.
What do you think? Can you suggest some game plan on how someone can become more efficient in using Instagram without spending more time? Read my detailed post on Instagram:

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status (Hacking Instagram Growth). 10 Tips On More Followers, Likes & Comments.

How To Succeed On Instagram

1. Post Regularly: Whether it is an old post or something small (and interesting), post regularly. You can think of recycling here.  If you have 500 posts on your Instagram, that means, you can recycle easily at the rate of 1 old post per day. That’s huge. It basically means, if you simply repost your old posts, you can literally continue to do so for one year at the rate of 1 post per day.

2. Theme: You can create a simple background theme for each of your writing we post. This strategy is widely adopted by most of the users with more than 30k followers.

3. Data & Science: Remember, according to one study done with 30 featured images on Instagram out of 8 million total, Curalate found:

  • Bright and high light generates 24% more likes than darker images.
  • Images with plenty of background white space generate 29% more likes than those with minimal space.
  • Images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
  • A single dominant color generates 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
  • High levels of texture generate 79% more likes. (Think about this one!)

The point here is not to copy these strategies but to test it out for your content and your audience. Try and test different things. And then stick with the winning strategy.

Comment below! What do you think? What would you like me to cover next?

 

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How To Build A Successful YouTube Brand

Earlier this year, I deleted most of the irreverent videos from The Naked Soul YouTube as I want to take Naked Soul more towards the literary, self-help, and podcast domain.

Build A Successful YouTube Brand

This is what happened in the past 12 months and what I learned from it.

1. My Naked Soul subscriber count went up from 1200 to 1682. My watch time went up by 182,000 minutes monthly and 62,000 views monthly from 30,000 views/100,000 minutes in the past.

On the flip side, my earning went down from $100 monthly to $66 despite doubling my views. Why? Maybe AdWords is becoming competitive. This is bad news for every Youtuber, by the way.

2. By using custom thumbnails, I was able to grow my Fitness YouTube by 700% in just past 3 weeks. (See picture attached with my notes).

 

3. By uploading videos consistently, I was able to increase the view time for my Travel channel. (screenshot attached)

YouTube Video Marketing

1. When I did not use custom thumbnails, our total Fit Couple YouTube view was 50 for the first 3 months (Jan – Mar). After I created and upload custom thumbnails for each video, my views went up to 350 in just past 2-3 weeks. That is almost 700% growth.

2. Fit Couple Goals uses custom thumbnails on all of the videos. 12 subs and 350 views, 10 likes, no dislike, videos getting added to several dozen playlists — all good signs. Mainly because of catchy titles and thumbnail.

3. My Travel channel does not effectively uses the thumbnail technique (not yet) and therefore is suffering view counts and click-thru-rate (CTR) despite having more subscribers and total # of videos. 23 subscribers and only 400 views. Also notice, only 5 likes and less videos in playlists. Why? I guess, not having catchy title and video cover (i.e video thumbnail).

 

4. It takes time and creativity to write a good catchy video title, descriptive description, meta tags to maximize the video’s SEO and finally, a nice catchy thumbnail is the icing on the top. This is essential for YouTube success.

5. From my notes on the screenshot, you can see how adding a lot of new videos helped The Art of Travel to gain average watch time, total views, and total view time. So, that’s a good thing.

6. On the other hand, more interestingly, Fit Couple Goals did not add as many new videos but see the spike in total views after I uploaded custom thumbnails for each video. See the above screenshot for details.

Your YouTube Brand

What does this all mean? I have something interesting to share with you all (in my next post) but first I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think is the future of YouTube videos vs. Facebook video? YouTube like revenue sharing with users or Facebook like total control over revenue from advertisements.

Facebook sells advertisements to its users and keeps 100% of the revenue. Due to low organic reach FB is no longer the first choice for entrepreneurs or new advertisers. On the other hand, YouTube has been sharing revenue with content creators and has finally turned a good profit.

Also, what about Vine and Instagram? Snapchat? Periscope? All of these platforms allows the users to broadcast and post videos of various length. Should you and your brand be on all of these platforms? My first response to this is “Yes!”

But is it that simple? Or is it even needed of you to be everywhere with your video content.

These and other questions similar to the ones I have pointed above is currently being brewed in my mind’s lab. Check out back in few weeks for part 2 of this interesting discussion. For now, bombard me with your comments! 

 

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Upstart Review: Better Loans & How To Pay Your Debts Faster

I love to study money. I love maths. And, it is no surprise that I love economics. I am a lifelong student of personal and social psychology. Recently, I have been hearing a lot of peer-to-peer lending and how it is better than traditional borrowing from a bank or a credit union. Well, I was curious and I wanted to find out.

How To Pay Debts Faster

Things changed in our country after the 2008 global financial crash. Borrowing became harder and unemployment rate everywhere, in every industry was getting higher and higher. I was no different. I lost my job and was without any stable income from 2008-2009. Almost a year. 

I was living with one of my friends and selling stuff on craigslist and Amazon to pay my minimum credit card balances. Life was hard. 

When in college, some of my Verizon mobile payments were missed and I literally did not have any money to pay to them. I was sent to collection and it really hurt me. That collection record for just $430 cost me thousands of dollars in the higher interest rate for the past 7 years.

I also was late on few of my credit union loans when I was without a job in 2008-2009. Overall, life was hard and it continued to be so because of high-interest credit cards and more interests adding to my already high debts. The only solution is to:

1. Make more money,

2. Save money (spend less than what you earn and buy what you need and not what you want),

3. Refinance your debts (and existing loans) with lower interest. This is what Upstart does for you. Eben if you are 640 or so, you can get a loan for as low as 7.2% (as I did) as long as you have a stable job with a decent salary and a good education.

BTW, if you are currently in a large debt, read my post on “How I eliminated my $50,000 debt” in just 2 years. Not everything will apply to you as every debt situation is different but you can use some of the tricks that I used and my story may inspire you to take actions.

I hope in future more and more peer-to-peer lending startups will change the general Wall St. culture of “suck all the money you can out of students, poor and those who are already in debt.”

This is not an exaggeration or an attack. This is a fact. A fact that people are greedy by nature. Being human means being selfish, and self-serving. Does that mean we are all evil? No. Not at all. Let’s look at this. (And please feel free to recall your own life and memories of your past behaviors and actions. You will see the light and truths for yourself.)

If left to rule of nature and biology, then yes, we humans are just like animals. We prey on those animals who are weaker than us, including other humans. But, human animals have evolved new-cortex, a new area of the brain which gives rise to thinking, cognition and even consciousness. Humans have the full awareness of the “I am”. And this is what makes us empathetic and compassionate and even altruistic.

So, if we feed our soul and mind, with stories and values about kindness, silence, self-reliance, and contentment, then yes, we are the creature made in the image of God. But, if you have no such practice such as meditation, reflection, journaling, volunteering and martial arts, and so on… then yes, you are in danger and you are more likely to act out selfishly.

Money is a powerful thing. Let’s agree on this and get it out of the way. Now, if we all agree that “MONEY IS POWERFUL” then what do we need to do? Well, if you know electricity is powerful and touching a live wire will shock to your core instantly, you become careful around it. You became aware of it. But, interestingly, money is more than electricity. With the money, you get to buy whatever you want. With money, you get to skip the line and pass on others before you. With money, you get a leg up and sometimes an unfair advantage over others. So, yes, that’s why money is not only a powerful force but also very seductive.

Let’s also make it clear and get it out of the way before one of you start bashing around the argument that money is not evil, it is the people who are good or evil. No. I disagree.

Yes, I agree, that money is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil, and this love can germinate in anyone’s heart if left unguarded. So, it is not that people are good or evil. No, no one is born evil or good. In fact, we are all a mixture of some good and some bad. Notice that I did not say good and evil because evil is different. It takes time to transform bad into evil. People have shortcomings, I do. You do. We all do. We are all bad in some ways. But, it takes constant dwelling on the bad to become an evil person.

So, if you give in to money, you will start liking it more and more. More than your health. More than your romance. More than your family, and more than other human beings, nature and life in general. And, this is what happens in a culture which is dominated by Wall St.

All day long you talk about money. You shuffle money. You dream about money. And you think you won’t be susceptible to its seduction? C’mon. And, if the people in power are all under the spell of “make more money”, what are we as citizens going to get?

We get the lesson of work harder, save money, and pay your debts on time. Or, else, we will charge you even higher interest rates because you do not have money. Think about that. What a joke. Honestly, have you ever wondered, why the Supreme Court has never looked into it? Go figure that out!

Upstart Review

Coming back to my experience with Upstart. My thoughts here are not only to demonstrate that companies like Upstart is the dawn of a new era but also that as we move forward in our 21st century, it’s honestly time to revisit how we view our finances, economies, employment, education and more.

The loan application process was simple and efficient. The loan was easy to apply. Upstart is an institution that considered an individual’s potential earning power in the next few years and does not judge one by his current credit score, age, and past.

It is great for people finishing up professional training, recent graduates with a job offer and young adults making a decent salary. If you are older, it is still a better deal than taking a loan from a bank or credit union.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Market & Monetize A Poetry Collection

The Ultimate Guide for All Poets Looking to Promote Their Poetry CollectionI am a writer and a bestselling poet. However, writing is only part of my passion. The other part is creating an effective brand that adds value to the society. I make videos, engage in public speaking and offer one-on-one consultation. Building an author brand is more than just writing.

Today, I want to focus on how can you monetize your writing of poetry online? This is part 5 of an 8-part series on book promotion and marketing.


Older posts (2000+ words long and detailed)

Read part 1: How I Am Marketing My Self Published Poetry Book | Book Marketing and Promotion Plan for Poetry and Fiction

Read Part 2How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

Read Part 3: How to Make Money Online (eBooks, Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube) | A Business Model That Works

Read Part 4: Platform Building: Where & How to Spend Your Time & Energy? Promote Your Brand The Right Way


How To Market A Poetry Collection

Let’s begin, shall we?

I am going to outline what I’ve gone through to promote my debut full-length collection of poetry, “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”, published by The Naked Soul Press. Professional and amateur poets can monetize their poetry both online and offline. And if writing is your bread and butter, you should. You have to.

Very few poets ever live off the proceeds from their work. Most poets, even the most widely published, hold other jobs (such as teaching, lecturing, speaking) to pay the bills. That said, it is still a great idea to market your poetry book.

Marketing your poetry can help give your poetry recognition and appreciation from the wider public. In addition, for most poets, any money earned from the sales of books is appreciated even if it doesn’t pay all the bills. It certainly helps.

I am going to outline 22 steps that I have used to effectively build a brand around The Naked Soul. These steps (when combined together) have helped me monetize my writing and grow my author platform exponentially.

Everything You Need to Know on How to Monetize and Promote Your Poetry

1. Create a high traffic blog

Your goal is to cast as wide a net as possible. Your blog is your brand’s first impression. Direct traffic from everywhere (Twitter, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to your blog.

On your blog, build a relationship with your reader by enegaing with them in the comments, asking questions, offering help and free eBooks that your readers wants and need.

Blogs are great for sharing your love of poetry, and they’re great for sharing your stories. I have even created a dedicated page on my website for my quotes and poems.

Guide your blog traffic to your book’s page on Amazon or sell directly from your website/blog.

 

2. Turn your poetry into eBooks, Books, Audio

Once you publish your work, immediately create an eBook. Or, if you have published your poetry collection as an eBook, turn it into Print as well. Once you have both eBook and Printed version of your book, start work on creating an audio book.

Before you begin though, test your audio (your own voice or someone you hire) on YouTube. 

You can do so much here. You can use royalty-free music to go in the background. You can use images and short video-clips. You can do one poem per video or several. Experiment and test what resonates with your audience.

But, at the end of it all — you must have your book in all formats possible: audio, print, eBook.

 

3. Submit Poems to Both Print & Online Magazines

You can start with simply googling the magazines that matches with your genre and style of writing. Send them your poetry. This is a challenging work but doing it correctly will get you published in a reputable source and that in turn will help you with your book (and author bio) as well.

Plus, this simply adds a lot of credibility ad instant trust to your name.

Online Poetry Magazines

Research and find all online poetry magazines in your genre and published your poems for fee or free. If it is a free magazine, make sure you are getting valuable links back to your blog and other social media sites. Sometimes, poetry magazines may want to interview you and if you get such opportunities, jump on it. All these press will later help you with your next book.

 

4. Use Social Media

Post poetry on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, everywhere possible. Your goal here again is to gain exposure. The goal of social media is not to sell your book. Selling occurs when you have earned the likeness and trust of your audience.

Social followings and signals affect trust and your author image. So, focus on building your brand the right way from day one.

For example, once you have a new book coming out, you can announce about your upcoming book to your social fans. Once your book is available, you can guide the traffic to Amazon or your website. Make connections to other poets and poetry lovers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Goodreads, etc.

When you read a poem that touches you or a short piece that moves you, try to find that writer on social media and send a friend request. It is in your best interest to know what good poets are doing, when they’re getting published, and how they promote their work.

Social media has become a great vehicle for poets to express themselves and become discovered by poetry lovers. A serious poets should use social media to find people who like good poetry. This is where you begin your platform building journey.

 

5. Email Newsletter

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION STEP in this entire list. Start a newsletter for your fans. Email is one of the most powerful tool for marketing. I have used email newsletters to announce book launch, announce when I am doing a free giveaway, and when I publish a new blog posts.

A great email list is your best shot on success as a new author. Your goal, above all else, should be to grow your email list. More people will buy your books from your email blasts than your posts on any social media platform.  

 

6. Start a Podcast

I host The Naked Soul Talk Show (an internet radio talk show podcast) where I interview published poets and others in the literary world and provided writing, publishing and promotional advice specific to my listeners. Podcast is also great in terms of marketing since it is a less crowded medium compared to blog and other social media.

I also post my podcasts on my YouTube to find new audience. If I have a video recording of my interviews, it is a value add on YouTube because on Podcast you only listen to the talk.  Podcasts also have the advantage of being monetized if you build a large enough audience. So, start a podcast. It is a must.

 

7. Poetry Readings and Slams

Poetry books will sell if you go out and do a lot of readings wherever anyone will listen. For example, you can do poetry readings at a local library or coffee shop. You can read your poetry on a street corner with a stack of books on your side. You can participate in a poetry slam. You can even organize your own poetry reading.

“The best way to market poetry is to do live readings. Absolutely the best way. Always has been. Likely always will be.” — John Kremer, Author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book

You might check with your local bookstore or coffeehouse to see if they host readings or other poetry programming. Next, visit the National Poetry Map on www.poets.org, click on “poetry near you” to find poetry readings, conferences & literary festivals.

Browse the event listings and plan on attending. You can not only network with other poets but also learn more about poetry readings, popular and emerging poets in your region, and other events where you can share and promote your poetry.

You can find poetry slams (a poetry slam is a competition where poets read or recite original work) at www.poetryslam.com. You can join for $20 for basic membership and get information on all kinds of poetry slams.

 

8. Perform Book Reviews

Offer book review services with link back to your website and/or amazon page. You’ll also build connection with other authors and poets who in return can later turn out to be your ally during your next book launch.

One extra tip: When you write reviews, add your book in your signature. For example, I always end my (books, movies, products) reviews with, Salil Jha, bestselling author of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

 

9. Book Editing

Offer book-editing services to other writers and poets. In addition to the benefit described above in #8, editing will also give you the opportunity to hone your craft of writing. Plus, your name would come in front of new readers through book’s acknowledgment page.

 

10. Participate in Literary Festivals

Plan on participating in multi-author panel discussions (search meetups in your local area), literary festivals, and other similar events. This is often neglected but this simple outreach and outgoingness can prove incredibly value to your writing journey.

 

11. Organize and Host Events at Local Libraries

This one takes some planning, prior work and networking. Your goal here is to organize and host some type of annual (or quarterly) event at your local library. You can give it some catchy name such as Writer’sJourney, WritingLife, A Good Writer Tells, etc.

The purpose and set up of the event can be also flexible and you have the complete freedom to design the event. For example, you can invite a few of the published authors from your area and have them answer questions posed by aspiring authors on writing, finding agents, publishing, self-publishing and book promotion.

You can offer poetry publishing workshops for aspiring writers and poets. You can expand the workshop by including fiction-writing, memoir-writing, poetry-publishing and book-publishing workshops as well.

 

12. Mentorship and Teaching

Offer to mentor high school or college students interested in a writing career. You can also lead and organize a monthly writing group/workshop at your local library. Combine this strategy with #11 above.

 

13. Get Interviewed by Local Newspapers

In this age of Internet and TV, newspapers still play their role. For example, the books are rated and charted on The New York Times list. Being featured in a newspaper is still a prestige and credibility issue.

Your goal is to approach all local weekly newspaper and try to publish with them or interviewed by them. Approach them several times if you are unsuccessful the first time. Once interviewed, use that interview as a PR when approaching the next one. Usually, the first one is the hardest and then it gets easier.

 

14. Approach Local Bookstores

Give a copy of your book to all the local bookstores in your area. If they like your book, they may stock and sell it on a commission basis. A lot of people who still shop for books in physical stores (and do not know have an Amazon account or interest in online book shopping) will be able to discover your work and will learn your name. This is again a great way to gain free Press.

 

15. Local coffee shops, dentist, beauty/barber, etc.

Similar to above step (#14), talk to local coffee shops to offer up book signing event. Talk to other places you visit regularly and have good relationships with to keep few copies of your book. At the least, this is free advertisement and branding for your book.

 

16. Speaking Events

There are always some big events happening and the event organizers are always on the lookout for speakers. Mostly, these events are paid and so you get paid for speaking. Search and apply to be a speaker at such events. Beyond the big events, there are local gatherings of poets at libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, retirement homes, and other locales. If you can’t find one, you can organize one (similar to #11 above).

 

17. Online Video (YouTube, etc.)

Poetry can be a powerful transformative tool if properly used with music. Music captures far more heart than simply words. Rhythmic words when put together with good music creates an unbeatable duo. On simple yet effective way to promote your poetry is through the use of videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Vines, etc.

To begin, you can take one of favorite poems and set it to music and matching pictures (or simply words) in a short video and post it on various online video sites such as YouTube. Test it out, the results may surprise you.

I used few of my poems when I made book trailers for my book launch. Check it out:

 

Other examples:

Forgetfulness (an animated video) by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America’s best-selling poets, reading his poem.

 

The Don’t Quit Poem has had more than 4 million views.

 

18. Online Poetry Communities

Share your poetry in free online poetry communities besides social media. Comment and build relationships with other poets (similar to other networking advice given above). The more exposure your gain, the more chances you’ll secure for your book’s success.

http://www.deepundergroundpoetry.com/ (Me on Deep Underground Poetry)

http://www.hellopoetry.com/ (Me on Hello Poetry)

http://www.poemhunter.com/ (Me on Poem Hunter)

http://www.poetfreak.com/

http://www.poetry.com/

http://www.allpoetry.com/

http://www.originalpoetry.com/

http://www.poemish.com/

 

19. Get Great Reviews for Your Book

If your budget allows, submit your book for Kirkus independent book review ($425). Here (as an example), you can read the excellent Kirkus review for my book. 

There are also a lot of journals that review poetry. Here is a short list of many such journals.

Great 5 stars average reviews is what separate a successful, bestselling book from the crowd. Good reviews (specially from the reputable sources) also help your marketing efforts. Customer reviews are important. More the better. Your aim should be to get atleast 10 positive reviews for your book before you begin aggressive promotion. Ask your family, friends, and fans to post reviews of your poetry book on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble.

 

20. Enter Poetry Contests

Enter as many poetry contests as you can afford and have time for. Many of the online poetry communities (mentioned above in #18) have poetry contests as well. Moreover, here is a short list of poetry contests that you should participate into. 

“Branding is a long-term endeavor that builds steam over time. All successful writers take many years and multiple books to create that overnight success moment. Writing career success is a process of connecting with one reader at a time.” – Salil Jha, Creator of The Naked Soul

 

21. Charity Dinner/Event

Organize a dinner party and read from your books and offer copies for sale with all profits being donated to the American Red Cross or any charity of your choice. This one is easy. You can experiment with just your family or friends or family and close friends at first. May be invite 20-50 people and plan group activities and games. Have dinner (you can use catering).

You can sell the event ticket for $20-$25 per person. As an up-sale, you can read from your book and have extra copies for sale. This is in a sense similar to hosting a book launch party.

 

22. Subway or Busy Market Corner

Like music students and street rappers, some poets have been known to do quite well going to the subway station or setting a booth at a busy market corner (with their books on display) with a stack of poetry books and reading their poetry out load to the bustling crowd until all their books have sold.

This is easier said than done. If you are not comfortable with reading your poetry in a busy public place, skip this step. No biggie. But, if you want to go all out — at least give this a shot, just for once. You will gain a lot of confidence.

 

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What do you think about my poetry marketing approach? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

How To Write A Book Every Year: The Secrets to Writing A Million Words

Power of Words

There are many writers who are renowned for the sheer volume of words that they have written in the course of their literary career.

Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer, produced over 400 volumes of work and was commended for his work with prestigious awards. What did it take for him to write so much during his lifetime? Writer’s Digest magazine asked him for the secret to his prolific writing and he said, “I guess I’m prolific because I have a simple and straightforward style.”

One author, Sean Platt, author of an article, “How to Write an Article in Less than 20 Minutes” published eleven books in the course of nine months. That is basically writing, editing and publishing over one new book each month for almost a year.

How was he able to produce such a large body of work in less than a year? Platt states: “Get a timer and set it for five minutes. Think of a topic and write three prompts, these can be as short as a word or as long as a question. Start writing. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. Now read over what you wrote. Your writing is better than you thought it would be, right?

This won’t seem easy until it finally is but it will happen almost immediately. Again, don’t concern yourself with quality. You can always go back and edit though you won’t need to clean up nearly as much as you think.”  

 

Secrets to Writing A Million Words

To become such a productive writer, it is important that you take the time to learn skills that will improve your writing. You can read books and blogs about writing and attend writing classes. You will then be able to apply what you’ve learned to your writing.

A key component of good writing though is remembering to edit. Georges Simenon, the author of 500 books, described his approach to the craft of writing when he said, “I have always tried to write in a simple way using down-to-earth and not abstract words.”  

A strong and moving purpose: Paul writing his epistles.

The Purpose

You also have to understand your purpose for writing. Is it a love of storytelling that motivates you? Is it the way you wish to earn a living? Is your mission to establish a literary reputation and fame and fortune?

Alexandre Dumas, the author of 277 books, wrote: “Infatuated, half through conceit, half through love of my art, I achieve the impossible working as no one else ever works.”

A highly motivated writer will write every day. John Creasey, the author of 564 books, had a set word count for each day that he writes, and stated, “How many words a day do I write? Between six and seven thousand. And how many hours does that take? Three on a good day, as high as thirteen on a bad one.”

How To Write A Book Every Year

The Daily Word Count

It is indeed possible to become as prolific a writer as the aforementioned writers mentioned in this article. Setting a daily word count will help you to potentially produce a similar output as these authors.

For example, if your goal is to produce 100 books at 75,000 words per books over the span of 30 years, you would have to write 1,000 words a day for five days a week and for 50 weeks in a year. Seems doable, if you have the discipline.

Or, you can start humbly with smaller but a manageable goal. In other words, mathematically speaking:

Monday – Friday: Write 300 words each day

Saturday, Sunday: Write 750 words each day

Weekly total: 3000 words

Yearly total: 156,000 words = That’s roughly 1-2 books each year (after editing)

 

 

The Habit Of Reading

What makes a writer even more successful is setting aside time to read. On a personal note, I have been influenced by the books that I’ve read and my stories reflect those inspirations.

Henri Junttila, a freelance writer, had another example of this when he said, “For example, I help change makers build a thriving online business so when I’m reading sales copy and it moves me to buy, I backtrack. I go inside and look at what it was that moved me. Then I think about how I can use that in my writing and business.”

Another key to success is being confident in your ability to make an impact with your writing. Rachel Toor, an associate professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University, stated, “Perhaps it’s confidence, perhaps it’s Quixote-like delusion, but to be a prolific writer you have to believe that what you’re doing matters. If you second guess at every step, you’ll soon be going backward.”

A writer I know likes to say that over the years he has “trained” his family not to expect him to show up for certain things because they know his work comes first. You have to be willing to risk seeming narcissistic and arrogant even if you don’t like to think of yourself that way. The work takes priority.

 

The Next Step Is Yours To Take

I hope that the advice contributed by the numerous authors cited within this article will perhaps allow you to produce plenty of creative strings-of-words in your lifetime. It may be challenging at times to find the right words but remember that every great writer struggles with “writer’s block.”

I know I certainly do and what helps is thinking about the subject of your piece as you go about your day and then coming up with the ideas that will shape the direction of your writing.

You have to believe in yourself as a writer and know that with practice you can develop the habits of authors who have published a large body of work. What I’ve learned through my studies of the practices of these prolific authors is that it may indeed be possible to write a billion words in a lifetime or even less time particularly if you truly love to write.

 

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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have a writing ritual, please tell me more about your practice. I am always on the lookout for awesome life-and-productivity hacks.

My Morning Ritual For Success & Super Human Productivity

We all want to be successful, live a good life, travel and experience this world our way. But, only a small percentage of people are able to achieve a level of success that truly matches our expectation and dreams. Why?

The answer lies not in work ethic or luck, education, internet access or hard work. Surprisingly, the answer lies in we do not know how to focus our energy. We do not know what we truly want from life and how to get it.

Morning Ritual For Success

Today, I am going to share my super-human productivity secrets with you all which has made me achieve both financial and platform and brand building success.

Do you believe that you can make it to the other end? You must, because, you can.

The first thing I recommend to everyone (and to all my students) is to write down what is their vision of their ideal self. What characters do they want to portray to the world?

This is the first step and is critical. You want to create a personality which is coherent.

For me, these are the 11 characters I strive to achieve in my ideal self. And these are the same character traits that I also want to project to the world. Therefore, I always seek to improve myself or check myself against these ideals.

Compassionate

Romantic

Fair

Honest

Accountable

Responsible

Highly energetic

Creative

Charismatic

Fearless

Fighter/Hustler

Next, the second thing to do is to create a morning ritual. The purpose of the morning ritual is two-fold. First, to prime and set yourself for success in the morning so that you can win the day easily. And, second, to allocate time for the most important task of the day.

Usually the most important task is the one that gets pushed to the next day and then to the next day. We procrastinate most when it comes to anything which is slightly uncomfortable and important. Sounds, counter intuitive, it is. Well, this is human nature. We always seek the easiest route to anything. My Morning Ritual

6 AM

1. Get fresh (5 min)

– wash face

– brush teeth

– drink water

 

6:05 AM

2. Daily growth (60 min)

– Meditation (12 min)

– Affirmation (8 min)

– Visualization (10 min)

– Writing (30 min)

 

7:05 AM

3. Eat breakfast (15 min)

– Drink protein shake

 

7:20 AM

4. The most important task (20 min)

 

7:40 AM

5. Get ready for work (20 min)

 

8 AM

6. Commute (+listen to audio books or a podcast) (60 min)

 

9 AM

7. Office (9-5)

You can create your own version. Again, as you can see above, the goal is to do what makes you most positive and energetic. And set some time aside for that one important task that is most critical and also slightly difficult. With all the fresh energy and focus that you have in the morning, it is easier to tackle a difficult task in the morning than at any other time during the day or evening.

Goal vs. tasks. Set the correct goals so that you can create and execute the right tasks.

How do I wake up early with excitement for the new day?

Great question. Here is a little known secret. Follow these 7 steps (these are time tested and it works for me and most people who try them.)

  1. I sleep with purpose and affirming for good dreams and sound sleep.
  2. I read my affirmations and definite purpose before sleeping (this can be done quiet, with eyes closed).
  3. I wake up and immediately turn on the lights.
  4. I think and capture the excitement from the previous night.
  5. I brush my teeth.
  6. I drink 1 glass of water.
  7. I partake in my morning ritual (as shown above).

Now comes the beast. How do I get done so much every single day. I manage various social platforms, I write, I run my business, work as a consultant full-time and exercise daily to stay fit and ripped. How?

The secret: daily checklists. (And, today, I am sharing those with you.)

I do my morning ritual and then go about my day (according to the needs of each day and make sure I am working on my checklist and checking each item off before 9 PM).

The Checklist for Success and Super-Productivity

Monday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Tuesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

3. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

4. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on NS Instagram

7. Post on FF Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

11. Dishwasher run

 

Wednesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Thursday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

3. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on NS Instagram

6. Post on FF Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Friday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage Tailwind (for Pinterest)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Charge all cameras/batteries (for the weekend) and pack the backpack

11. Dishwasher run

 

Saturday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage AgoraPulse (for Facebook)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Dishwasher run

10. Check all bank accounts

 

Sunday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Buffer for all social Platforms

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

5. Call home

6. Call/email a friend

7. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

8. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Meal planning

11. Backup your blog

12. Check analytics and health for:

– Goodreads (tracking social activity)

– CreateSpace (tracking book sales numbers)

– KDP (Kindle digital)

– eLance/UpWork/Freelancers (managing contractors) 

– SiteGround (my WordPress hosting admin panel)

– Google AdSense

– Google AdWords

– Google Analytics

 

True hustle is when you are constantly striving to become great. Greater than who you were yesterday. A hustle to become more, better, complete, and whole. Are you hustling?

Hustle is life. You are breathing air into your lungs and your heart is pumping blood without any rest, ever. Take a moment, pause, think about it. Your body is literally hustling to just keep you alive. Hustling is not just about making money to meet your ends.

I keep all my checklists in my phone and as well as printed over my desk. To be completely honest, I do not hit 100% check mark on all days but I aim to cross each item on my checklist every day. However, if I have covered 80% or greater for a given day, I count it as a success.

Give it try and test it for yourself. Write to me about what works for you and what doesn’t. If you have questions or if your situation is different which doesn’t allow you enough free time, please feel free to leave a comment below. You may need to leave some of the less important items and focus on high output, higher priority tasks.

 

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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you already have a morning or evening ritual, tell us more about your practice. I am always on the lookout for awesome life-and-productivity hacks.

Platform Building: Where & How To Best Spend Your Time & Energy

How to effectively market and promote your blog, author platform, and your books or products.

Platform building is a long and difficult process. Where and how to best spend your time, energy, and money for the best possible outcome is a neverending quest for most of the independent artists, authors, and musicians.

In this blog, I will share my best tips and tools to make your strategy successful.

Platform Building

A. Idea Incubation & Content Creation

1. Write original content (books)

            – Reading

            – Researching

            – Writing

   Travel

            – Take pictures, make videos, learn

 

2. YouTube

            – Create content (video making)

   Blog

            – Create content (writing)

            – Create email list

   Podcast

            – Create content (talking & recording)

   Instagram

            – Create content for SM

            – Post content

 

B. Marketing and Promotion

Online Platforms

3. Social Media (Share content)

            – Facebook

            – Twitter

            – Quora

            – Pinterest

            – Periscope

            – Vine

            – Google+

            – etc.

4. Email Your List

5. Broadcast your podcast

 

Offline Platforms

6. Speaking Engagements

            – Paid

            – Free

7. Attend Industry & Networking Events

            – Tradeshows

            – Meetups

            – Events

8. Book tours and book signing

            – Locally

            – Extensive

Promote Your Brand The Right Way

Prioritize in terms of revenue generation or monetization capabilities.

1. Speaking engagement > income from speaking fee

2. Podcast (or Talk Show) > income from advertisement

3. Books > income from book sales

4. YouTube > income from advertisement

5. Blog > income from advertisement

6. Social Media > income from traffic volume, shoutouts, endorsements, & brand awareness

7. Products or White label Products > income from product sales

8. Affiliate programs > income from commission

9. Online courses > income from fee

 

 

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Do you need help in platform building? I provide online mentorship and one-on-one coaching. Or, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. 

How To Make Money Online (eBooks, Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube) | A Business Model That Works

Today I want to share how I make money online. How I invest my time and where I invest my resources. I have made simple diagrams which will explain volumes. Let’s dig into it.

 

As you can see, I am spread all across the board. I am an independent consultant and I run my own business as a self-employed boss. I am also having few small-scale businesses where automation works for me.

The difference between Self-employed vs Business quadrant is primarily of automation and systems. For example, a small mom-and-pop shop is basically being self-employed. You have to ask yourself this question to identify a true business.

“If I do not work today, will my business make money?”

If the answer is NO!, then you are a Self-employed individual.

On the other hand, if you own a Chipotle franchise or a McDonald franchisee, you have a system and team of employees put in place to work on behalf of you. In this case, if you get sick, your business still runs and makes money for you.

How To Make Money Online

As you can see, I invest heavily in real-estate and that’s put me into the I (Investor) quadrant as well.

My goal is to completely ELIMINATE the “E” & “SE” quadrants and invest all my time, money, energy and brain into the “B” & “I” quadrants. In next 5 years? We’ll see.

But that’s my goal. My 5-year goal is to operate a > $5 Million USD business and grow my net-worth to > $1 Million USD. You can have your own goals and then work backward.

So, what am I doing about my financial and business goals? Well, the answer is continuing to do what I am already doing.

 

How can YOU do this too?

Yes, you or anyone can do it by putting in enough dedication and hard-work into the process I am about to describe. Just follow the steps as shown in the diagrams below.

 

 

The promotional tools are the tools where you “spend” time and/or money. These tools allow you to leverage the power of the Internet. When used properly and with creativity, they allow you to both build a brand name and do marketing for your products and services at a minimum cost of traditional marketing.

 

 

 

 

As I have said in my earlier posts on Blogging 4.0 that blogging alone or YouTubing alone or writing eBooks (or books) alone will not cut it anymore. There is simply too much competition out there. Plus, think about it and ask yourself: “What difference are you making in this world?”

You have to not only create true value for others but also differentiate yourself. One way to do so is to take advantage of Podcasting, YouTube, writing books and creating and offering products and services.

Then, you got to slowly-slowly remove yourself from the business process and automate everything. You want to be in a position where even if you can’t show up for work, you still generate cash flow.

 

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What do you say? If you have suggestions, feedback, and thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to honor your requests. If you would like me to expand this post, please let me know what would you like me to describe in greater details? (The first 3 commenters are always my favorite.)

Meal Planning Simplified (5 Free Videos) | Health & Fitness

This week I wanted to show you a little bit of my home, what I eat, how I cook and my lifestyle. I have a few videos to show you today on meal planning and cooking clean breakfasts for optimal fitness.

Meal Planning Simplified

Meal Planning in its Simplest Form

 

Breakfast for Bulking & Bodybuilding (Clean Eating)

*You can substitute white potatoes with red potatoes. (I eat red 99% of the times, we made this video using potatoes that were available to us.)

 

Meal Planning for Fit Life (Chicken, Kale, Hummus, Celery)

 

Honey + Lime + Cinnamon Water for Weight Loss 

 

Healthy Breakfast for Fit Life | Bodybuilding Meal Planning Made Simple

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What is your biggest fitness goal right now? Do you like these videos? If you want me to cover something in specific, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to cover them in my next video. Please share your pro-tips if something is working for you. It may help others. (The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.)

Creative Photoshoot: How to Give Facial Expressions

How do I improve my facial expressions? How to look good in pictures and photoshoot? If you are asking yourself these and similar questions, well, I have thought about them too.

It is all about camera angle, facial expressions and what you can do with your eyes.

Creative Photoshoot

First thing first. Realize and accept that “you are beautiful, complete, and enough the way you are!”

That is the key to being relaxed in front of the camera.

Below is an example video of a photo shoot session we did in just 30 minutes with little to no makeup.

The purpose of this video is to inspire you to look great, exotic and full of expressions in your pictures. This video is about mastering facial expressions.

Your Face Speaks A Thousand Words
Being expressive, using your face to maximum advantage, is a very useful tool in getting your message across. This skill also allows you to use fewer words, to show emotion and to send a message directly to your audience’s minds and hearts.

How to Give Facial Expressions

Practice Being Expressive
As a model, you must be aware of how to use your facial expressions and create ones that work for you. This is especially important if your audience is a long way from the stage. The further away from you, they are, the more expressive you can be!

If possible, look at a mirror when you are practicing or rehearsing your looks.

Try showing happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise and love.

Make Your Expression Your Message
Start including facial expressions that support your stories and reflect your emotions.

For example:

  • arching eyebrows – when you are surprised or questioning
  • frowning – when you are moody, disapproving or concerned.
  • grimacing – when you are fearful, in pain or anxious
  • smiling when you are happy, pleased with your situation or circumstance.

All facial expressions are related to emotions.

Emotions or Ideas that you can convey

  • Happy / content
  • Fun / playful
  • Scared / lost
  • Sad / broken-hearted
  • Serious / in thoughts
  • Lonely / bored
  • Fantasizing / day dreaming
  • Scheming / flirting

Tips on How to smile for Camera
Learning how to smile sounds ridiculous – surely everyone can do it? In fact, smiling ‘to order’ is a real skill, and one that professional models need to master.

To improve your smiling skills, position yourself in front of a mirror and practice the following steps.

  • Put your lips together without moving them. Look at your face in the mirror, concentrating on the eyes. At first, they’re lifeless. Now lift up the corners of your mouth and watch your eyes come alive.
  • To create a smile, say “MMM” without opening your mouth. No teeth should be showing. Don’t forget to turn the corners of your mouth up.
  • To create a broader smile, say “MMM” again with your mouth still closed and again, don’t forget to turn up the corners of the mouth.
  • This time say “ME”, whilst opening your mouth and showing your teeth but keeping it soft. Next say “ME” again, this time with a big smile showing all your teeth.
  • When you say “HEY,” you produce a very natural facial expression. Say “HEY” and hold it – you will notice your tongue is coming forward and your lips are apart. Now try it again, saying “HEY” with a smiling expression.
  • Create a gaunt look by saying the word “POOR”, keeping the lips very soft and sultry and holding for a few seconds.
  • To achieve an open and happy laugh try saying “HAA”, remembering to focus your gaze on someone or something to avoid a “lifeless” look.

Here are 3 other facial formulas for maximum expression during your next photoshoot.

1. Smiling Eyes
Every person you know has a different smile. In fact we all have more than one. Practice smiling with your eyes. First grin slightly, then narrow your eyes slightly  into a stare. This will allow you to project those good vibes.

2. Looking Up
You can’t share your feelings so you have to project them. One way to project is to turn your eyes to the skies as you contemplate.

3. Guffaw
Open up. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud “especially at yourself”. They’ll laugh with you.

 

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What did you like about this post? Do you find it challenging to give different poses? If you want me to cover something in specific, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to cover them in my next video. Also, please share your pro-tips if something is working for you. It may help others.

How Much Money Do I Make On YouTube? | How To Make $100,000 A Year

My last 30 days on YouTube = $51.65

Can you imagine how much money do these kids make with millions of views on their videos? A lot of them make over $10,000 each month. Some make over $30,000 a month.

The point is not to join the YouTube wagon but to create multiple funnels of income.

You may be a techie, or you may be creative.

You may have books in you. You may have CDs and music in you. You may have documentaries and films in you. These are all various funnels for income.

You have social media.

You can be a consultant.

You have a job.

You can become a teacher.

You can drive Uber part-time for a limited time to make some cash. You can do Airbnb and rent your rented house.

You can invest that cash (say $1000) in a Roth IRA or IRA and then start investing $200 or whichever amount you wish until retirement.

You can create your own investments with Vanguard IRA or start a simple savings account. You can invest in Stocks or Real Estate or both.

It always amazes me to find out how people complain about being poor when all they may need is Uber + Airbnb + few consulting gigs. You don’t even need an employer. You can be your own boss.

And, if you already have a decent paying job, what are you waiting for? You are in lucky 20%.

To make money, you got to first make money so that the money you make can later make money for you!

All you have to say is “I can do that, too.” Then do it.

Learn to use every talent you have to create income. That’s the right mindset. You can also create simple gigs on Fiverr and build revenue, create simple video webinars on Udemy and Skillshare.

If you have something to share that adds value, you have an opportunity. (As the popular saying goes, if you are good at something, you should probably charge for it.)

You just have to take one step each day.

365 days it is.

I want to see where I’ll be in 365 days from now! I am interested in measuring my own progress in 365 days from today.

Game on.

Do you accept this challenge? If yes, tweet to me or comment with hashtag #365Days.

Involve your friends and make it a fun challenge.

#365Days

 

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What are you doing to make $100,000 in next 365 days? What other creative ways one can use to make some extra cash? Share your pro-tips if something is working for you. It may help others. (The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.)

What is the Easiest Way to Live a Very Healthy Lifestyle? Lifehacks & Pro-tips

A lot of you have been asking this question lately. What is the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle? Physically, mentally, and emotionally. By easiest way, I mean with the least amount of effort and avoiding controversial methods, latest fads and diets.

Easiest Way to Live a Very Healthy Lifestyle

Let’s apply the 80/20 rule to the healthy lifestyle design.

What 20% of effort will bring the maximum, i.e 80% or more beneficial results to my overall well being?

A healthy lifestyle is one where there is a balance of challenges that pushes us to grow, relaxation and leisure.

Therefore, to achieve the optimal well being, we need to work on both our mental and physical fitness.

A. Mental Health (the 20%)
Generally speaking, mental health can be divided into three sub-categories:

  1. Emotional Health
  2. Intellectual Health
  3. Spiritual Health

1. Emotional Health


a. Start meditating
Be it 5 minutes or 15 minutes or 1 hour long, twice daily — it doesn’t matter. Start meditating so that it becomes part of your daily ritual.

The type of meditation also doesn’t matter as long as you are quieting your mind and inner chatter.

b. Exercise your idea muscles
Think what can you do for your career. What kind of businesses you can build. What kind of problems you can solve. Think and write down ideas that come to your mind.

Do not filter good ideas from bad ideas. Just focus on coming up with ideas.

 

2. Intellectual Health (Intelligence)
a. Play mental improvement games
Sudoku. Play chess. Solve puzzles.

b. Practice speed reading
Read a lot of books. When driving, listen to Audiobooks or Podcasts.

3. Spiritual Health
a. The Attitude Of Gratitude
Keep an optimistic perspective on life. Think of all the good things that are happening to you. Find a way to known how blessed you are.

b. Positivity
Keep a positive attitude. Think positive, talk positive and surround yourself with only positive friends.

B. Physical Health (the 20%)
1. Exercise
Workout. 30 minutes each day is the minimum. Ideally, you should do both the weights and cardio exercises.

Exercise helps the blood flow and regulation in the body. This means, exercising is also good for your brain.

2. Sleep
Sleep 8 hours. If you can manage 9 hours, get 9 hours. Sleep is directly related to your ability to come up with new creative ideas.

3. Food as Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates. Eat well, eat healthy, fresh, local and organic if possible. Eat small portions and several times throughout your day. Once a month, take a full day complete fast except for water. 

Juice your vegetables and ingest your fruits as smoothies. If you eat well and take care in this important area of your life, you will reap hundred fold results in productivity, energy and vitality.

 

This is the 20% that I personally follow to stay in the zone and achieve peak performance and super-productivity.

Hope these tips help you as well.

 

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What do you say? Tell me what YOU are doing to live a healthy lifestyle? The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.

A Writer’s Daily Routine | A Day In the Life of a Writer





Writing a book can be a long, hard grind. On the other hand, writing can be fun.

Writers love to write. Writing is a true joy when it is done for the sake of writing alone. Writing is both art and meditation. For me, writing is akin to a spiritual practice. Writing gets me into the flow state. Writing keeps me in the flow. Writing is my Zen.

I write whenever I get chance. I wake up and I want to write about the dreams that I had.

When I am driving, I want to write about the flow of life. Of-course I don’t write while driving but my mind is often flooded with ideas, thoughts and new observations on human life.

When at work, I want to write about people and their lives. I want to write stories of hope and inspiration. I am writing in my mind all the time.

My mind chatters non-stop like a drunk poet until I let it loose and write something.

My heart which is like a sponge soaks in other people’s emotions, good or bad. I feel for them. Sometimes, I feel I can hear their thoughts. I want to become their unspoken voice.

I want to sing the songs of human journey. Songs of this earth, our home, this life, of love and of loss.

I write. This is why I write.

A Day In My Life

This is how I write.

6:00 am: Get up. Kiss my love. I boil water to make green tea, brush and get fresh.

6:30 am: I sit on my writing desk and begin writing.

7:30 am: Finish the morning writing session. Dress for work and prepare breakfast.

8:00 am: Leave home. Drop my love to work. Continue driving to my office.

8:30 am: I listen to podcasts while driving. I generally listen to The James Altucher Show, The Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes , The Art & Business of Writing with Chris Jones and The Smart Passive Income with Pat Fylnn.

9:25 am: Make myself a coffee. Read my emails. Re-read my to-do list from last night.

9:45 am: Scan through the day’s meetings. Set up new calls or meetings based on emails from past 10-12 hours.

10:00 am: Work. No emails, no internet unless required.

12:00 noon: Take a break. Go for 10 min walk.

12: 10 pm: Eat lunch.

12:30 pm: Reply to all mentions on Twitter. Acknowledge and reply to blog comments and comments on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.

12:55 pm: Reply to emails.

1:15 pm: Do a 15 minutes status call with my team*. Resolve road blocks, if any. Discuss and review results and growth.

*As a writer and authorpreneur, it is critical to have a team (atleast 1 personal assistant/researcher). My company provides Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) to artists and creative people: writers, musicians, anyone for $199 (part-time) and $399 (full time). If you would like to have a VPA, contact me.

1:30 pm: Go for second walk. Listen to some songs.

1:40 pm: Make myself second coffee. Write a new blog post or edit one from my saved drafts. If it is M, W or F, publish a new post.

3:00 pm: Finish rest of the work for the day. (I work as a senior business consultant for healthcare companies).

5:00 pm: Start for home. Listen to Audio books. Make phone calls to my friends and business associates.

6:00 pm: Get home, relax, get fresh.

6:10 pm: Cook and/or eat dinner. Run the dishwasher. Pack lunch for next day, if there are leftovers. We do try our best to cook extra so that we can eat our own food for lunch. Saves lunch money, time and calories.

7:00 pm: Leave for YMCA/gym. Car talk (me and my girlfriend)

7:20 pm: Run 1 mile. Do 20 minutes of elliptical. Lift weights or do body weight exercises. (Listen to music or half-finished podcasts from the day).

8:10 pm: Cool down. Do 10 minutes of Sauna and/or Steam.

8:25 pm: Head back to home. If groceries needs to be done, do that.

8:45 pm: Take shower.

9:00 pm: Make to-do list for the next day.

9:15 pm: Read for pleasure. Occasionally, watch a good movie or documentaries.

10:00 pm: Poetry writing and/or editing my manuscript.

10:30 pm: Bed time.

 

Writing Habits

Morning writing
I sit on my writing desk by 6:30 am. Then I write a few keywords from my dreams if they are still lingering in my mind. Sometimes, I will just draw an image. This is mainly for the purposes of building list for future writing materials.

Then, depending on my mood, schedule and timeline, I write new chapters of my book or edit the last one. If I have an interesting Quora question in my queue, I write answer to it.

Day writing
Depending on my day and work load, during the day I will usually write for the Naked Soul blog.

Night writing
At night, I will sit down and write poetry. I will post these pieces on my social media accounts and would tweet on Twitter.

Waiting in line
If I am waiting in line (irrespective of place or reason), I am writing on Quora.

I use my Quora answers as seed materials for my future blog posts. Vice versa, I use my blog posts as materials to answer questions on Quora.

Weekend writing
On weekends, I allocate few extra hours of writing. I would spend the time to mainly write new blog posts.

My goal is to write enough so that next time I can pick up my draft post during week days and edit it and be able to publish it during lunch hours when at work.

Solitude writing
When I am home alone for few days or a week at times, I use this sacred time to mainly write new poetry.
I also use the solitude time to do a lot of re-vision and re-writing.

Timed writing
I practice timed writing where my typical goal is to write 500 words or more in 25-30 minutes. Next time, during one of my editing sessions, when I pick up a piece from my timed writing session, I would take out a lot of fluff and leave just the cream.

Then, I would either turn it into a poetry or use it as a opening sentence for a paragraph or a new chapter or may be a new book idea altogether.

iPhone writing
The notes app on my iPhone has over 100 notes as of right now. And this is a new phone.

I am typing small notes, small pieces, small poems, small quotes, small observations all the time on my iPhone.

 

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What do you think? Do you want to be a writer or a poet? Or are you already in the grind of life and creative process? Tell me more and share with us your thoughts. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them.

Enter Blogging 4.0| Strategies to Achieve Success in the Age of All Things Online

Blogging 1.0 and 2.0 is over.

Sad but this is a fact. Read it, research it, accept it, swallow  it, and get over it.

If you are thinking of creating a passive income from your blog and you are starting now, you are entering into a very competitive domain. That said, let me show you a few things that you need to do to be successful at your online business built around a central blog.

 

Blogging 4.0 Defined

Blogging 4.0 basically means an online business centered around a blog since 2014. This is not a new concept but a new strategy and new perspective to look at the world of blogging and online business in general.

 

Enter Blogging 4.0

Blogging is competitive and it takes lots of hours. You need to research, you need to write, you need to post consistently.

Building a readership from scratch is tough (read: not worth the time investment). Building a large readership who engages with your content is even harder.

Today, you need to think beyond blogging. This is where blogging 4.0 comes into the picture.

There are over 250 millions active websites, over 8 million blogs and almost as many vlogs (video blogs), and about 115,000 podcasts (audioblogs).

 

Blogging 4.0 includes (well, more than just a blog):
1. Blog (for long form content + introducing your product/services)
2. Podcast (this is the least competitive domain)
3. Social Media Platforms (for short form content)
4. Videos (Youtube, Vine, Vimeo, Periscope, etc)
5. Repurpose Your Content (Quora, Medium, LinkedIn)

 

1. Blogging
To start, here are few tips:

  • Blog long form content. Save the short quotes and daily muse for social media. If you want to succeed in blogging, go long and detailed.
  • Try to solve a problem. Try explaining a situation from a new perspective. Tell a good story that most people can relate to.
  • Write and then offer free eBooks.
  • Collect emails so that you can email to your group when a new blog post is up.
  • Guest blog and cross promote each other.
  • Encourage your blogger friends to leave a comment. Reciprocate the generosity.
  • Provide incentives to your readers for commenting. For example, reply to your comment and answer their questions. Or simply just acknowledge them.

 

2. You need a Podcast
As I mentioned above, podcast:blog ratio is very low. Podcasts integrates with both blogging and social media. Podcasting is technical and intense. And that’s why you have less competition there.

You must explore this medium to connect with millions of 9-5 job going workers when they are commuting to work, exercising at gym or taking a long walk.

Example: Podcast Launch | The Naked Soul Talk Show | Full Human Potential | Daily Growth | Lifestyle Design

 

3. Build Your Tribe
In the past, your blog was your platform. Not anymore.

You need to build your online tribe on various social media platform as that’s where your readers are already gathering. Social media is usually the best free source to send traffic to your blog.

Read my 4000 word long detailed blog post on building your platform:
How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status| Hacking Instagram Growth |10 Tips on More Followers, Likes & Comments

 

4. Go Video
You are writing. You are researching and inserting catchy images in your blog posts.

You are building your social authority and building your platform on each major social media.

Now go full circle. Go video.

Make videos. Make SlideShare out of your blog posts and turn those SlideShare into YouTube videos.

Make video of some of your audio recordings (podcasts) and push it on Youtube.

Make videos out of images and add music to it. Publish them.

Remember, rather than waiting for people to find your blog, you want to find your tribe. You must go where people are already gathering. Then broadcast. Let your lost tribe members find you.

Bring them home (to your blog). Reward them for following you.

5. Repurpose Your Content
Just as if you have a book to offer, you’ll most likely sell it on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble rather than your own website, similarly, you must blog on platforms which are already trusted by millions of users.

There are studies done that vast majority of readers prefer (read: trust) to buy a book (or a product) on Amazon than directly from a blog or website. And the reasons are simple.

Return. Refund. Shipping options. Trust. Existing account, etc.

Likewise, rather than publishing your posts just on your blog, be mindful that there are millions of users on Medium and LinkedIn and Quora who would not go to your blog because they spend a vast majority of their online time on these platform. They do not have any need to go to your blog.

 

So what can you do?
You repurpose your content. Change a few things and tweak it to the like of the target readerships and re-publish. Leave a link to your blog.

Those who would resonate with your content and find value in your offering would become your reader.

What do you do then? What do you do in the end after all is said?

Publish. Be Original. Be Consistent.

Consistency is the key.

Strategies & Steps to Achieve Success

Creating and Curating The Best Content
Yes, how many hundred and thousands of people create and curate the best content on Internet but eventually give up and FAIL because there were no eyes looking at their blog. There were no readers and no money coming in.

 

The Truth Behind the Expenses
I am listing the minimum that you would be spending if your blog is going to be a an online business.

You need to attract visitors, you need them to sign up for your mailing list, you want to offer them something of value in return, you want your website to load on mobile and computer, be fast and responsive to devise site and browsers.

Okay, okay. But, wait.

You also need to spend enormous time (= opportunity cost) to develop your product, market your product, engage with your customers or fans and handle customer support.

Let’s take a look at the dollar-and-time investment.

Domain name/renewal: $15/year
Website hosting: $300-$500/year
Website upgrades: $100/year
eBook creations: $500/year
Equipments (lights, camera, mike, recorder, et al.): $1000 – $2000
Podcast hosting: $120/year
Social Media promotion: $500/year
Time: between 40-100 hours/week
and a bunch of other things…

The 4.0 Strategy
What can you do? First, you know that you are a serious blogger. You are committed to take your blog as a mini online business.

Your first goal should be to break-even. Here is the 6 phases of it:

  1. Spend the minimum that you can afford and sustain.
  2. Then work your best to recoup your investment.
  3. Invest in upgrades and expansion.
  4. Invest and building a brand that attracts readerships on its own.
  5. Offer products and/or services to recoup your additional investment.
  6. Break even on quarterly basis and achieve a state of financial balance
  7. Grow your blog-business like a rockstar.

 

The caveat here?

The CAVEAT Rule
Caveat stands for:

  • Consistency
  • Authenticity
  • Value
  • Enthusiasm
  • Attitude
  • Theme

Consistency
Read my Quora answer on “Consistency”. Consistency is the most important rule for blogging to succeed.
(What are you struggling with as a blog writer?)

 

Authenticity
You have to be authentic. You have to present your true self before your audience. Your voice should sound genuine. No mimicking, no imitation, but your voice, unfiltered, afraid, naked yet true.

 

Value
Provide value. Provide Quality. Look how can you improve the quality of an information, service or product out there. It took me hours to write this answer and then organize the content in such a way that is easy to read.

Did I increase the quality of my post by spending time on it? You be the judge. Was value added by me to the blogging community as a whole by spending over 8 hours of my time) on this post?

If the answer is Yes and Yes, then I have to do the same on my:

  1. Blog
  2. Podcast
  3. Social Media Platforms
  4. Weekly emails (newsletters)
  5. Books that offer for free
  6. Books that I write to sell
  7. The products that I am building to market
  8. The services that I provide

On Quality
Quality content is integral part of providing value.

Make sure, in terms of Quality, your videos and pictures are high-resolution, clean and clear. Make sure your podcast is noise-free. Make sure the background of your videos are neat and organized.

Likewise, your blog posts should be clean, neat and organized. Add pictures. Edit the post before you publish. If you notice an error after publishing, edit and fix immediately.

Treat your blog as Apple treats its product packaging.

 

Enthusiasm
Energy is the raw material for enthusiasm. You have to stay fit, exercise and be healthy. Read What is the easiest way to live a very healthy lifestyle?

Apply the 80/20 here to get your base covered.

Now you have the energy it takes to be a real-life blogger who actually makes a living or decent passive income from her/his blog. Great! You must feel good to have all this energy to work so hard. Not 4 hours a week but 100 hours.

How do you use this raw energy to create a positive, uplifting enthusiasm that motivates your community and wants them to come to your content again and again?

Simple.

Follow these 3 Simple Rules

1. Do not engage with haters, spammers and negative people, comments, or content out there on Internet. Save your energy, every ounce of it and use it for your blog. If someone makes you angry or frustrated, instead of fighting, turn that emotion into a blog post. (Remember, everything is a material for a writer).

2. Present a positive solution, scenario and interpretation to a negative problem, scenario and story. Go deep. Go long content. When you are trying to cover a topic or an issue, get to the heart of it. Again, look at this Quora answer as an example. It is pain to type such long answer… my back is hurting; I want to drink coffee; it’s Saturday and sunny, I rather go out… but damn! my answer is not complete yet! But I am going to write until the question is completely answered.

3. Engage with your fans, readers, customers, whatsoever you call them as if your life depends on it. And it does. They pay for your services or books. They use your products. They send you thank you emails and talk good about you. These all makes your life more meaningful and makes you feel fulfilled. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are replying to all comments, even if they in hundreds. Reply to as many emails as you can. Again provide value. Be energetic. Be a lion. Be a cheetah. Be a deer. Be a rabbit. Be whatever it takes.

 

Attitude
Attitude is your mentality, your personality. How do you interact with failures? How do you take losses? Attitude is very important.

Even if you do everything right as I ask you to do in this post, there are chances that you will fail ten times. May be you wont see readership or visitor growth for 6 months or a year.

May be you are having hard time coming up with new ideas. Perhaps, it will be hard for you to allocate this much time to build a great blog.

What will do? Because, I can tell you, this will happen.

And if you are mentally not prepared, you will quit or settle for a mediocre blog which no one reads and then you will ask a question on Quora, how to get more traffic to my blog in hope of as if some magic answer will you fix your attitude problem.

Are you a sheep? Or are you a lion? Are you a giver, quitter and loser? Or are you made for hard battles and fighting until you win or die? Ask these questions before you wet your feet in the murky waters of online blogging-businesses.

Successful blogging business is not for the faint of heart. But if you think, this is You, then welcome. Start today. Hit me an email or comment. Create a network of other successful bloggers.

Share ideas, exchange tips. Help one another. Create a mastermind group (online or in your city). Create a Facebook group and share your daily wins and fails. Have fun. You have to make this process fun because it is incredibly time consuming and difficult. But can it be done with laughter while having a good time? Oh yeah, that’s what I am having.

Guest blog and mutually support one another.

I am sure, thousands of other bloggers can say the same.

Welcome to the club! Bloggers 4.0.

 

Theme
Stick to a theme (a topic). If you want to cover a slightly bigger niche, break down your blog posts into various topics or categories. Check out my blog (Naked Soul Blog | The Blog of Salil Jha) as an example. Tim Ferriss (author) does the same thing.

On the other hand, another popular blogger Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) focuses on books, art and life advice. James Altucher focuses on writing, books, and online business building.

On social media too, you would notice the biggest accounts or pages are those who stick to one theme or context such as fitness, bodybuilding, jokes, poetry, etc.

Start with a sub-niche. Then cover your niche to which your sub-niche belongs. If you are successful up until here, go broader.

That said, it is always better and more effective to cover a single theme or semi-related, overlapping ideas. Both Tim Ferriss and I, for example are doing the later.

We cover more than one topic on our blog and social but all of them are overlapping with a single goal of improving our self.

Hope this helps!

Now go build or do something meaningful!

 

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If there are aspects of this important topic that you would want me to cover in-depth or an area you think I have missed and should have touched, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post or write a new one. What do you think? Tell me and share with us your thoughts on blogging 4.0. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

Productivity 101 Explained | 80% Result with 20% Work (Pareto’s Law)

Productivity 101 (80% result with 20% work)

You do not have to do all 10 of them. Even if you implement just one tip, it will greatly enhance your personal productivity. And, if you are able to implement all 10 of these in your life, you’ll become a Super-Human MACHINE! 

Are YOU ready? Let’s begin. 

  1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minutes of your day).
  2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
  3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
  4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
  5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
  6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
  7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
  8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
  9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
  10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What do you think? Tell me and share with us your top productivity secrets? If you have questions, please comment and I’ll try to answer. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

How To Grow As A Person When You Work A Long and Boring Job?

I was there and I am thankful for my fate to endure such long hours.

My life completely changed when I was forced to work in an environment with long hours and a long commute.

I realized I have to do something about it. (I was sleeping earlier but it woke me up.)

How To Grow As A Person

When you have a 10-11 hours long workday, how do you grow as a person? Spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and financially. This is a fair question and an important one.

I used to asked this question to myself and my colleagues. Sometimes this question used to scream at me at night. My job was very technical (debugging code and sql stored procedures) and I was learning and growing as far as my technical skills were concerned.

But, the focused screen time was taking a toll on my eyes and after my job, I did not want to look at any screen which emits light. I was done for the day.

That said, it was also true that I am not a kind of person cut out for a 9-5 or 8-6 job! I am a person cut out for 7-7 (irony?) but as an entrepreneur.

How much do I make an hour? About $200. Will spending one hour to write this blog help me make my hourly rate? Nope, not even a single dime… but here I am. (Because I like doing this and therefore do not mind the hours.)

It’s not about hours, it’s about passion and growth

Why do I do what I do and make my day 7-7? Because, I am passionate about my mission in life and I have the freedom to work on whatever project I want, whenever I want.

It’s Monday, 10:30 am. No problem. I am going to spend an hour writing this blog.

My heart is in answering questions, writing blogs, writing books, running my own company, and investing. I am learning every day. I am growing every single day. On all fronts. Spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and financially.

I try and tend to accomplish at least 20 hours of productivity each day (during my 7-7). I structure my time to do this. I have a routine (even though I work from home). And, I read a lot.

What can you do in your situation? How to grow financially, intellectually, physically, and mentally?

The 5 Point Solution

1. First celebrate yourself
Celebrate the fact that you have a 8-6. A lot of people do not have a job or they have an underpaying job for their skills. You may not realize this but you are in an advantageous situation over many other (reading this answer right now).

May be you are commuting 2 hours daily for your job. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks. That is your 2 hours of daily reading. Powerful.

2 hours daily x 5 days a week = 10 hours of reading/week
i.e. 40 hours of reading/month
i.e. 3-4 books each months + dozens of self-development, business, entrepreneurship podcasts

Imagine, after 6 months of doing this how powerful your mind will become! How much knowledge you will have!

2. Meditate, Visualize and Affirmations
When you wake up in morning, spend 10 minutes (not too much to ask for) to meditate (if that’s your thing). If not read a spiritual book (again depending on how you define spirituality and what is spiritual for you).

If nothing comes to mind and meditation is not your thing, just practice deep visualization of how you would want to shape your life. Visualize clearly that everything that you desire have come to the fruition. Visualize them as vividly as possible. Feel the emotions.

You can also read aloud your self-affirmations. An example would be:

“I am a positive person who is happy for my long commute so that I can listen to uplifting audiobooks and podcasts.”

“I am a happy person who likes to learn as much as I can on my work. I am happy for my job because it provides for my family.”

And so on..

3. Meal and life planning
Since you have time consuming job, I would assume it is also stress inducing. You should cook on Sunday evening for your next three days of lunch. On Wednesday evening, you should cook lunch for Thursday and Friday.

If your team eats out on Friday, join them. Make connections. Build relationships.

Stick to your lunch box on the rest of the days. Try to eat on your own (if possible). Or, with other folks. It’s up to you.

Take a small walk. Let new ideas come to your brain whenever you take a break from your work. Be it small tea or coffee breaks or be it a small walk.

Spend these moments alone. Atleast try to. That is when your inner fire will transform your passion into great ideas.

Besides, the above benefits, you are also saving money on lunch dollars if you are currently eating out. This small saving will pay off in big ways in terms of self-discipline, routine, structuring your life and allowing yourself the luxury of having the free time during lunch hours to think hard and come up with ideas that will make your life better.

4. Exercise and evening ritual
If you are in a relationship and have kids, spend time with your family. If you have to drop your kids for classes or gymnastics, you should participate with them as well.

Swimming? How about you and your partner swim as well with your kids. Music lessons? How about you train yourself in music too. Pick up an instrument that you always wanted to learn.

Gymnastics or dance? How about you start training your body just as you are training your mind.

If you are single, you are lucky. Eat light dinner. Go straight to the gym and workout. Give your best. Lift heavy weights. Challenge your body to its maximum limits. Run as if you are preparing for a coming zombie apocalypse.

This is how you grow your physical self. This is how you become mentally tough. This is how you show to yourself, you are serious. That you are committed to transforming your lifestyle.

5. Weekends are yours to keep
Weekends are sacred. Use those 48 hours as if your life depends on it because it does.

Let’s say you are single. (People with family will have a somewhat different structure on weekends. I can cover them in an another quora question.)

Talk to your friends who are equally motivated and positive as you are. Cut off from people who are negative and time-money-and-blood suckers. By now, you probably know who they are in you life.

Limit your Facebook and social media time to 30 minutes each day on weekends.

Take a trip to somewhere new or go for a hike. When you walk, your brain thinks smarter and faster. When you are moving, your brain gets stronger.

During afternoon or in the morning, (depending on your schedule), sit down and come up with ideas on how you can make some passive income.

Think: How can you save more money? How can you cut your overhead cost by 10% and invest that money? How you can earn more money?

Spend some time learning about money, investing and the world economy.

Think about all the hard questions about your life and try to come up with answers. If you do not have the answers, it’s okay. Ask questions to others and find the answer. Your goal is to just explore possibilities at this time.

I can promise that if you do this for just 6 months, you will be transformed into a new soul in a more youthful and stronger body.

 

Now that you are smarter, get a new job
Now, you are ready to look for a new job and start a business on the side. If you are not a risk taker, then you would come up with ideas on smart money management and smart investment techniques and strategies. Business is not for everyone and it’s okay to accept that.

In such case, you would simply want to improve a skill that you have. Assuming, you are already happy with the money.

Or perhaps, you would just like to relax and take things as they come. Whatever you wish or want, you have the mental and spiritual toughness to face it with grace and gratitude.

Don’t forget to cook your meals on Sunday night. Respect money and it will serve you. Learn discipline and it will take you to the next level.

Have fun in the process. Life is too short to spend figuring out everything when all the beauty of this creation is right in front of you. Take it easy and enjoy the process.

Good luck!

 

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So are you ready to take control of your life, your finances and your future? What challenges are you currently facing? Tell me in the comments and I’ll try to answer your questions.  I would like to help you with your situation. The first 10 commenters are always my favorite and I like to personally communicate with them. So share your thoughts.

What is Meta Learning? Strategies for Teaching Meta Learning or Learning It

Our brain, perception, and learning

For those who might not know the meaning of meta-learning, it simply means, “learning about the learning.”

Meta is a root word that comes from the Greek, which generally means beyond. (An example would be, metaphysics). Meta also means something that is “self-referencing”. (An example would be ‘meta-learning’.) It is almost symbolic as in where a Zen haiku says “the ocean is in the drop of water and the drop of water is in the ocean”.

The word “meta”, when used with a noun, takes the meaning of a simple object or process to a whole new level. For example, consider these two words: Meta-Data (data about the data) and Meta-learning (learning about the learning). Or, consider this: Meta-physics (beyond physics).

4HC Method

Tim Ferriss in his book The 4-Hour Chef (4HC) talks about DiSSS and CaFE. This is his prescribed formula and it is quite good. I have tried it myself and it works well for any skills (be it computer programming or martial arts).

DiSSS stands for Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence, and Stake.

CaFE stands for Compression, Frequency, and Encoding.

 

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, “Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.”

Teaching Meta Learning

Learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin. When you learn, you are actually teaching yourself something. Likewise, when you teach something (to others), you learn the material in new ways. Your nerve cells make new connections and new reference points which helps you in recalling the learned material faster at later a time.

I would break down the principle and process of Meta-Learning into 3 various phases.

1: The 80/20 rule

I am fascinated by the 80/20 rule. 80/20 rule basically reduces the learning material and shortens the learning curve of any skill. What this means is to attain mastery of any new skill, it may take a student 6 months to 2 years instead of a standard 10 years of practice.

An example:

The power of the human mind. Meta-learning is actually natural.

 

2: The Flow State

I am also endlessly fascinated by the process and mechanism of the creative-flow-state. I try to ask questions such as: How to achieve Flow state intrinsically? How to take creativity beyond the reach of few naturally gifted people to everyone by transforming creativity into a learned skill?

How to make education and learning process more fun, practical and approachable for most people? Questions like these keep me awake at night once a month or so. I then go on to research, experiment and apply the answers that I come up with or learn from others. Whatever sticks, I make that in the toolkit for daily/weekly/monthly practice.

3: Meta Learning

The last step is to follow a structured approach to meta-learning.  It is a more refined method of learning new skills at a much higher rate and with faster results.

I call it: DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT, BiTS

You can read about it more on a long-form blog post that I wrote a few weeks ago called, Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning| Accelerated Learning Template and Methods In The World.

 

In short, it means (the steps are):
D = Deconstruct

R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

You first work on DR. BevO.

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)

Then learn while practicing, and practice when learning by engaging in Dad, Me, MoM & our CAT.

DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it

Consider this example of a mind-map:

Mental map for memory. Look at the use of various colors.

In the last phase, you can do all three or just one, it doesnâ€t matter. You get to pick. Pick one, two or all three of BiTS.
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)?  If you have tried Naked Soul method or The 4-HR Chef’s (or Tim’s method) DiSSS and CaFE, please share your success stories. Any other comments or questions, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

A Definitive Guide to Defeat Seasonal Pollen Allergies: Tips On How To Soothe Your Eyes & Nose

This is a mix of various pollen

I hate allergies. I have never been allergic to anything in my life (up to age 29), until last year. Then suddenly, one fateful evening in early May 2014, my eyes were red and itchy, my throat was sore and I was feeling feverish, flu-like symptoms.

I went home, ate a light dinner and went to bed. Next day I woke up and my eyes were still red and itchy. I did not have a fever but my nose was slightly dripping and I was sneezing all day long.

This went on for a couple of days. At night, it used to get worst. I had trouble sleeping due congestion in my nose. I just could not breath form my nose anymore. Night time was the worse. I had to breathe from my mouth and in the morning I will wake up pain in my throat due to the dry air. Damn! This was getting worse.

My job was affected, so was my focus and concentration. I was not able to do anything properly. I was irritated all the time and used to get angry at the slightest of anything trivial, benign or frustration-worthy. Life was suddenly hell and I had no idea how did I get here and how to get out of it.

After a week or so, I finally took the lesson home that this is not the seasonal flu and I am having seasonal allergies. People at work started to tell me, I am having seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies? 

What in the world is that? I have never heard of pollen allergies before? Really. I am allergic to something in my environment. But, I have been living here in Boston for almost four years and I never had allergies before. Before Boston, I lived in California, Arizona and North Dakota (in all seasons).

I never had any allergies there as well. I never had any allergies in India where I was growing up and lived until age 22. How can I be allergic to pollen or whatever is causing me allergies? I needed to find out the answers.

Two Types of Allergies

Allergies can be:

a. Seasonal

b. Perennial

There are two types of allergies: seasonal, which are more common, and perennial that happens throughout the year for no particular or specific cause but due to any number of variable causes, for eg. dust mites, dust, change in temperature, etc.

Seasonal Allergies (Pollen Induced)

In this blog post, I am going to talk about only the seasonal allergies that are caused due to an allergen (eg: pollen) during the spring season or early summer (May and June).

If you get itchy, watery, red eyes and drippy nose during a specific time of the year, you are like me and this post is for you. (For others, this post may serve as informational but this is not written for any other kind of allergies.)

Also, this post is not medical advice by my own story and how I cured my seasonal allergy problem. (This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.)

I have been suffering from both Eye Allergy and Nose Allergy for the past 2 years. I was waiting to find out what happens this year.

Around May 7th or 8th, I started to get the symptoms and I was, oops, I am indeed really allergic. Took me two seasons to accept the truth. I am going to share, what I did (immediately) to get rid of my allergic symptoms and problem.

First Thing First

If you are having the same symptoms as I have (as described above), first, however, you must see an allergist to find out if you truly have allergies before making drastic changes at home or starting a medication.

You may be unsure about the cause of your allergy symptoms, get a skin test or a blood test to identify the allergens that cause your problems.

The bigger red hives means I am allergic to that particular allergen.
Here you can see I am not really allergic to anything from this batch.

All insurance plans cover allergy checkup and tests and these tests are simple and can tell you a wealth of information about your body. Here, you can see what a typical skin allergy test looks like and what results you get at the end of it.

The test is about 30 minutes long. You can easily schedule the test during one of your lunch breaks.

In total, I was tested for 36 most common allergens.
The last batch of test, my both arms fully covered with needle pricks.

After the test, I found out that I am not allergic to pets (dogs and cats), dust mites and mold, thank God! Sorry, folks, I won’t be covering the allergies caused by pets in this post.

But after your test, if you find out you are allergic to pets, the simplest thing to do is not have pets and avoid contacts with them. For more information, you can google and learn more. If you do good research and find something new, please share in the comments below.

 

Watch Out for April – June

Seasonal allergies happen only at certain times of the years, usually early spring through summer and into autumn. They’re caused by exposure to allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.

When a person has seasonal allergies, the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to substances like pollen or mold as invaders. These substances are called allergens.

An allergic reaction occurs as the immune system tries to fight off the allergen. These pollen induced seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone. As you can see, you and I are not alone. This is a big issue. I hope there is a better cure for this. For now, let’s keep reading on.

 

Myth: If you are not allergic to pollen, you are safe and you won’t have it.

Truth: You can become allergic to particular pollen or substance later. Look at my test results above. This is called “acquired disorder”. [6]

What are Pollens

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the micro sperm cells of seed plants, which produce the male sperm cells. These sperm cells. Need I say more.

Pollens are protein that seem like an intrusive foreign substance to the body’s immune (defense) system. Our body does not accept any foreign proteins (amino acids) without a grain of salt.

And this is a good thing and this is how we fight bacteria and viruses but this self-defense mechanism gets bad when it starts fighting a natural, non-harmful substance such as tree pollen.

 

Forms of Seasonal Pollen Induced Allergies

Eye Allergy is an allergic reaction to pollen that affects the eyes. Eyes may become watery, itchy, sore, red and/or swollen.

Nasal Allergy is an allergic reaction that gets worst at night with nose congestion, dry throat and thus resulting in sleep deprivation.

Hay Fever is an allergy to pollen that is present in the air at certain times of the year. Symptoms include itching in the nose, the roof of the mouth, throat, and eyes; sneezing; stuffy nose; runny nose; and tearing eyes.

Usually, your eye allergy will happen along with nasal allergy symptoms. Likewise, you can have all of them at once or only one prominent one.

 

Two Common Allergy Triggers

Your Overactive Immune System

Many things can trigger an allergic reaction. That’s when your body’s defenses attack a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. The reaction can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. About 1 in 5 Americans have allergies. 

Pollen

Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. You might be sneezing and have a runny or stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes. Treat these with over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. To prevent symptoms, stay inside on windy days when pollen counts are high, close windows, and run the air conditioning.

 

Nasal Allergies

Let’s move on to nasal allergies, understand it and then defeat it for good. With nasal allergies, there are five things that happen when an allergic reaction occurs:

There’s sneezing, itching, runny nose, mucus formation, and nasal congestion (swelling of the mucous membranes).[1]

As an example, as soon as you crawl in bed prepared to get a good night’s sleep, you realize that you can’t breathe through your nose. So, you position yourself differently on the pillows and just as you get comfortable and find a good breathing position, postnasal drip (thick mucus) starts to collect in the back of your throat, causing you to cough — and cough.

The more you cough and try to breathe through your congested nose, the more miserable you feel.

Thus, all night long, you toss and turn and cough and snore instead of sleeping. The next day, you awaken feeling exhausted and irritable because your allergies have wreaked havoc with normal sleep.

Gravity is to Blame

Sinuses are small airbags, found in the bones of the face. When they cannot drain properly, it is very difficult to breathe through your nose. This problem can worsen at night when you lay down.

Gravity plays a role in sinus drainage. While in a lying position, the sinuses may drain down the back of your throat, causing irritation. If you lay on one side or the other, the sinuses will drain to that side, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.

 

Allergens

Allergies could cause nighttime stuffiness. If the night is the only time you appear to have problems breathing out of your nose, you may be allergic to the material and or stuffing, that is contained in your pillow. Allergens cause an influx of histamines, which lead to a stuffy nose.

An allergic reaction may be caused by laundry detergent and the direct contact your face has with the sheets and pillowcase as you sleep.


Nose Allergy Medications

Two types of allergy medications may help nasal allergies.

Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help with sneezing and postnasal drip.

Decongestant: Decongestant medications help with stuffiness and nasal congestion. A better and more effective approach to treating allergies might be the inhaled nasal steroids and intra-nasal antihistamines.

These inhaled nasal puffs and sprays address all four allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose, and mucus formation, and nasal congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes.

If you try the inhaled nasal steroids, it’s better to start taking it two weeks before pollen season begins to prevent allergy symptoms. You may plan on staying on inhaled nasal steroids for months, if needed, to keep allergies at bay and avoid sleep deprivation.

I am using Nasacort Allergy 24 HR. That’s all and I am doing perfect.

 

DIY Nose Allergy Relief

Drink More Water
Another thing that you can do is drink more water, which works to thin mucus. Thin mucus does not stick to the back of the throat and cause postnasal drip. You’ll know that you’re well-hydrated if you’re hitting the bathroom frequently.

 

Closed Windows
Keep the windows closed in the bedroom to keep out pollen and nighttime dampness.

 

Pillow Height

Raise the head of your bed a few inches. The higher the head, the less the nasal congestion with allergies. (This works well for me).


Exercise

Exercise for 30 minutes daily, inside a gym. Do not walk outside (even if it is sunny and bright outside). Wait until mid-June. It is not that you cannot go outside, you can on proper medication but go out only when it is necessary. 

Talking about exercising, your blood will flow easier, you’ll have superior posture (on account of stronger back muscles) and also your sinuses will shrink, eliminating the stuffy nose during the night concern.


Herbs

Herbs like Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Mint/Peppermint oil, Ginger, and Olbas oil, all have the skill to soothe and also cure aggravation and also swelling in the nasal lining.

Ginger is actually used to make a powerful nighttime herbal tea, that clears the sinuses and also throat. It seems to have the additional advantage of stopping nausea. Ginger tea might end up being through boiling fresh ginger roots, or perhaps using packages of dried ginger.

Use these herbs by adding the essence oil to a bowl, and position it near whenever you rest, to inhale in the vapors. One may likewise place a couple drops of Eucalyptus essence oil, or even Olbas oil to the pillowcase, to add in the calming vapors while sleeping.


Steam therapy

To use steam therapy, boil various ounces of the free of moisture herbs, and also pour the boiled water in a ceramic bowl. Place a towel over the head, covering your head and the bowl completely, to ensure that absolutely no steam escapes. Take deep breaths of the herb water throughout your nose to soothe the nose lining.

 

Why Allergies are Worst At Night (When I go to Sleep)?

There can be several reasons for this (and this seem to be a common ailment for most allergy sufferers, including myself). This is what I researched and did in order to sleep well at night.

1. Allergen could be in your face or hair – wash your hair and body right before you go to sleep.

2. Shoe outside – Pollen can enter your bedroom through your shoes, so keep your shoes outside.

3. Change your bedding daily – all of the pollen and other allergens that accumulate on your bed during the day are collected in your pillow and bedding. Wash them and change them every two days. You can also place a clean towel on your pillow.

I bought two allergen-impermeable (allergy proof) pillow covers from Amazon.

Eye Allergies

Now, let’s understand eye allergies and then defeat it for good.[2For many seasonal allergy sufferers, pollen irritates their eyes the most. They suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the white part of the eye, the back of the eyelids and front of the eyeballs.

Allergic people may become especially miserable in spring and early summer as grass pollen season kicks into high gear. Grass pollen are especially irritating to the eye. So are ragweed pollen, which will begin spreading later in the summer. (In my skin allergy test, I found out that I am not allergic to Ragweed pollen, Halleluljah!)

Even though people blink an average of 15,000 times a day, pollen still gets in their eyes.[3The good news is that the same treatments and self-help strategies that ease nasal allergy symptoms work for eye allergies, too.[4]

Allergic Pink Eyes

 

Symptoms of Allergic Pink Eye

The five major symptoms of allergic pink eye include:


Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid, Increased amount of tears, Itchy eyes, Blurred vision and Swelling of the eyelid.

Eye allergies can be annoying but they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. Remember, like all allergies, eye allergies are caused by a glitch in the body’s immune system. There is nothing wrong with your eyes or vision.

The allergy starts when the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes) comes into contact with something that, while actually harmless, is seen as a threat.

In a mistaken attempt to fight off the threat, the immune system makes antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine and other substances. That, in turn, makes eyes red, itchy, and watery. The most characteristic symptom of eye allergy is itching.

 

DIY Eye Allergy Relief

The first approach to controlling eye allergies should be to limit your exposure to allergy triggers. Here are several steps that people can take to reduce pollen’s irritating effect on their eyes:

Stay Indoors

Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores).

 

Outdoors

If you go out, wearing eyeglasses or big sunglasses can help block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.

 

Pillows
Limit your exposure to dust mites by encasing your pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one. Old mattresses are often teeming with allergens.

 

Clean floors with a damp mop

Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. So use damp mop. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains.

Clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution.

 

Humidity
To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%. That might mean using a dehumidifier. Clean the dehumidifier regularly.

 

Eye Cold Compress
Don’t rub your eyes. That’s likely to make symptoms worse. Try cool compresses instead. A bag of frozen peas or a moist washcloth that has been placed briefly in the freezer can reduce itching when put over the eyes.

Allergy Medications for Eyes

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. Remedies include:

1. Sterile saline rinses and eye lubricants can soothe irritated eyes and help flush out allergens.

2. Eye drops containing ketotifen can relieve allergy symptoms for up to 12 hours. They won’t cause rebound redness even with long-term use. Refrigerating eye drops may help in providing additional relief of allergy symptoms.

3. Oral antihistamines can also help. Walgreens, CVS or any pharmacy will have medicines from well-known brands. These tend to be less sedating and most of them will provide you long-lasting relief.

I am not taking anything specific for eyes. Your choice of medication will depend on what is more severe for you: eyes, nose, fever or throat, etc.

Summary

I have included here everything that I have tried. Also, I have removed anything that is confusing (words or language). There are other methods of course but they either did not work for me or they are not convenient enough to practice. 

If your allergy symptoms are severe or only getting worse or not improving despite trying everything that I have mentioned, you should definitely consult your doctor and ask for Immunotherapy.

 

What did I buy?

Allergy Control Pillow Encasement (two of them) – this is #1 bestseller from Allersoft

 

Medicines?

1. Nasacort Allergy 24 HR (1 unit) – works for multi-symptom

2. Wal-Zyr, 10 mg Antihistamine (Cetrizine) (1 unit) – from Walgreens

 

Most Important

Monitor daily pollen forecast. If pollen counts are high, try to remain indoors or at least limit outdoor trips to rural areas.

I monitor daily pollen forecast on Weather.com.

 

That’s all. And, I am back to life like a normal person I used to be, with no major symptoms, peaceful night sleep, and open nostrils. (The only mild symptoms I still have is itchiness in my eyes, that too occasionally).

I hope my research and story help you if you are suffering from seasonal allergies. If you happen to know someone who is suffering and have watery, red eyes. Do her a favor. Share this post with a person affected by allergies. Her vision is already blurred, and this will save him countless hours of google search time and conflicting information and confusion.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Are you suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you have it since childhood or you developed it later? If I have missed some simple solutions to treat allergies, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use the tips from my experience, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other questions, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Hacking Instagram Growth: How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status

I have been using Instagram for only 8 months now and observing the very successful and unsuccessful IGers, I have some thoughts to share. The following post is my crystallized tips on how you can experience explosive growth (like me) and gain very high user engagement on Instagram. This post is all about hacking Instagram. Ready?

I am going to do this blog post a little different. First, I’ll give you the main course. Then I will serve you the dessert (i.e my own growth story and timeline) and then finally I will serve the appetizers (what I am going to do in the next 6 months).

You should chew on the main course and try to apply them to your own strategy. Then you can move on to the appetizers and try to do the same and match results after 6 months.

 

Hacking Instagram Growth

1. Engagement Rate

Engagement is the number of likes, comments, shares, mentions, tags, etc. Remember, engagement with your fans is much, much higher in importance than your number of followers. Or even the total number of Likes.

For example, @The.Naked.Soul has a little over 44,000 followers but our average Likes is somewhere in 300-400 range and average comment per media is 20ish something. That’s not a lot, but that’s not bad either. However, I would like to increase my engagement score.

Now, consider doing this exercise. Go to Instagram and find out at least two accounts (that are your size, +/- 20%) that get a lot more comments and/or likes than you. After you have found them, follow them (try to build a relationship with them). If they do not follow back, it’s okay.

Your main job is to study their post, timing, the way they write their caption and how they interact with their fans. Â Study them and try their techniques, one at a time. See what clicks with your audience. Stick with the best and leave what doesn’t work.

the.naked.soul Instagram account

 

2. Account Age

The longer you have been posting on Instagram, the more likely is that the people those who follow you will remember you (your name or your brand name). Over time, seeing your name regularly in their homepage feed, your followers will begin to trust you more, read more from you and perhaps even begin to connect with you more.

How long have you been Instagram matters! If you are reading this, my guess is you are a (relatively speaking) new account. Don’t worry. Keep patient.

Know that Instagram has only ~700 million users and at least a good 10% of them are dupes and scam accounts. My guess is the real “active” users must be in the range of 500M. So what does this mean?

This means that as more and more people join Instagram, your account will be considered older in due time. So remember, account age – it matters and over time, this factor will get in your favor as you are here for a long haul.

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

3. Post Frequency

The more frequently you post, the more you are going to stay in people’s short term memory. The world today is an overcrowded place with too much information flow out there. People have a very short attention span.

To be remembered and trusted as a reputable brand name, you have to be constantly out there. You can not afford to not have an active presence. Besides, the more frequently you post, the more new people you reach out to. People live in different time zones and new people find you using hashtags. Each time you make a new post, your use of hashtags makes you reach new potential fans.

One more point, the more frequently you post, you increase your chances of being read by your followers. Remember, your average fans are also fans of many other things. They have several things to read at any given time. When you post frequently, you can hope that they notice you and actually read your content. And no engagement can occur unless someone feels connected to your words.

I suggest you post 3-4 time per day. This should be a cardinal rule, not to be broken at any cost.

4. Post Good Original Content

Okay, so this comes right after the point made above that you should post frequently. But you should not post recycled and boring content.

Try to post original content if they are not world class. Occasionally, you can throw in a good quote or a sweet little poem or a cute puppy picture or a half-naked selfie but try to post interesting, never seen before, new content. It could be an artsy view of the street lamp in your city or it could be anything as long as it’s artful and interesting.

Also, when you post original content you tend to get more quality followers who really enjoy your Instagram gallery. These people are priceless since they really enjoy you.

What to do if you do not have tons of good, original content? Well, in the beginning, keep to one post a day and build from there. Also being under the pressure that you got to make a new quality post will also spark your creativity. Post one original, and one daily quote.

As you can see, I have come down from 1000 new followers a week to 376 new followers last week.

 

5. Alliances

No man or woman can achieve much on their own. You need help from other people. It is crucial to build relationships with other similar accounts (early on) to gain additional visibility. Everything at the end of the day comes down to “trust”. When you build partnerships and alliances, you gain instant trust in the eyes of the fans of your partner. Use this strategy effectively.

Action Item: Find alliances you can partner with other accounts (your size) for the long term. Do not do blind shout-4-shout, as doing this a lot will make your account look “too promotional”. When I started @The.Naked.Soul account, I did some S4S (perhaps ten in total) but only after I had gained at least 1000 followers. And I never did s4s more than once a week, and rarely twice per week.

Tip: Post a lot of great content first. Gain followers. Aim to cross 1000 followers mark, or 500 (depending on your goal) and only then engage in #S4S. 

 

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account

 

6. Free Giveaways & Challenges

Do free giveaways based on some sort of challenge, lucky draw or even better create a competition. Plan on doing something in the next 7-10 days. No worries, trust me, give it a try. Once you have created some giveaway and/or challenge, track your performance. Write your case study and then share here in the comments.

Also, by doing these sort of thing you will get comfortable doing any future promotional event. If you are a writing account, consider organizing 8 words or 9 words poetry contests or week-long poetry challenge. Try anything new and creative. Give it a twist.

This will not only engage people but also propel words about your account. Moreover, people always love free stuff. Remember, “free” is an effective marketing strategy. The more people participate, the more new followers you gain.

7. Ton Comments and DMs

Okay, so this is the last armament in our arsenal, but very important. Without this nothing will happen. To grow on Instagram you will have to expose your account (your media be it pictures, videos or even written quotes) in front of a large audience. This is humanly not possible. This is where steps 7 – 9  comes into play.

First, you need to start engaging with real people out there. Nothing happens until you meet a few right people.

A few right Instagram friends and your comments start soaring which in turn draws other people and comment and engage in a conversation. You start commenting and building a relationship. Doing this consistently will get you cross 1000 followers mark easily.

However, if you are aiming for 100,000 followers or 1 Million followers, read on.

Next, you need a tool that you can automate to send Likes and comments on your behalf. Automated comments mostly come as spammy and therefore I do not recommend it.

Sending mass Likes is one easy way to expose your username to thousands of users on a daily basis. A lot of these users (whom you have given Likes) would check you by clicking on your username. On your profile if they find that they like your gallery or if you are an interesting person, they will follow you. Some of these people will be themselves interesting and you can follow them back.

There are three tools that I have used in the past to achieve this goal. They all work but the best two are:

1. Instamacro

2. Instagress

In this step, also remember to geo-tag your pictures as well as it will help people looking for users or pictures from a particular place find you. I used to geotag places around Boston but now I simply put my website in location.

This is another way users can see your home address without having the need to go to your bio page. (Please keep in mind, only a fraction of your followers will be checking your bio after they have followed you. So if you have a website, make sure to take advantage of geo-tagging.)

Naked_Soul_Poems Instagram account. % of pictures with geolocation

8. Engage with your Competitor’s Followers

Next, as mentioned above, you need some power users. Users those are actively engaging with the content similar to yours. One of the best ways to find such active users is by looking at the comments on the pictures of your closest competitors. Read the comments, reply to a few of the commenters.

This strategy works best when the account is so large that they ignore all the comments/commenters all together. But people ask questions in the comments all the time. This is your opportunity. Answer the unanswered questions. Â Actively engage with these audiences.

Remember they are the power users. These people have already shown interest in the niche that you are part of. Turn your competitors’ followers into your followers.

How do you do this? There are four things that you can do:

a. Follow some of these users

b. Like their photos (if they are public accounts)

c. Comment on their photos, ask questions, appreciate, talk

d. Send a Direct message (talk about why you think you guys are similar)

 

The more you engage, the more output you’ll get. Above all, never forget that you are dealing with human beings with feelings and emotions. In execution of any of these strategies, do not do anything rash. Keep patient, go slow and keep reasonable goals. Over time your account (business or personal) will grow.

9. Sponsored Posts, Product Reviews, Shout Outs

Now we come to the most important strategy. All the above-mentioned strategies will bring you the result but not at a pace which can make your account cross 100K followers in 6 months or 12 months. To really create a big Instagram follower, you would need a shout out from a big account or better many big accounts.

These endorsements, or call it sponsored post can be free or paid. The way you can have a big account give you a shout out is by sending your product for their review. They get a free gift and they post a picture of your yours or your product with your account name in their caption and boom! There you go!

This is where you start making a measurable impact. You need to DM and/or email to other, larger accounts in your niche, exposing your brand to their audience.

So how do you do that?

First, make a list of all the large accounts in your niche. (Usually 10K-300K). Leave accounts with millions of followers for now as they will most likely not hear to your request or their cost will be beyond your humble budget.

Second think beyond your niche. If you are a flower business, think of gardens, love poetry and other flower related domains.

Third, make sure you are already following these accounts, if not, follow them before you reach out to them.

Fourth, find their email address and email them. If email is not available, DM them and also comment and ask your question that you have a question how can you contact them.

When you finally do get a hold of them, ask them if they would like to receive your product for review. Tell them that you think they will like it and you have following them for some time now and you can guess if this would be a nice thing for them to try, read, apply, review, etc.

Second, ask them their sponsored post pricing. This is to be asked even if you are giving away a free product. Especially, if the account is above 100K followers, ask them. Smaller accounts will give you a shout out for no cost but larger accounts might charge you since they might be getting similar pitches from other people as well.

Third, depending on the size of their audience, stick to $19-$49 per post shout out/endorsement.

10. Instagram Tools for Productivity

There are hundreds of tools out there that can help you and your Instagram strategy. In this post I mentioned five key ones help you build your audience and engaged them.

1. IconoSquare (formally Statigram)- An app that provides analytics and insights into your account, followers and much much more. (All the screenshots and pictures inserted in this post is taken from IconoSquare)

2. Schedugram – Schedule your Instagram post for the most engaging times. If you have trouble finding times to make posts on Instagram, this tool is your savior.

3. Webstagram – A tool to find the best hashtags for your posts and people for your sponsored/endorsement posts. When you do a search for particular keywords, Webstagram will also show you the top Instagram accounts that feature those keywords.

My Plans for the next 6 months

Okay, so what’s next for me personally. As I said earlier, all the above-mentioned strategies are the tested ways to grow your followers count or to grow your brand engagement score.

However, as I have started to give more time to this blog, I have become more passive towards my Instagram growth. But, I want to change that. I do want to blog more frequently but not at the cost of slowing down my Instagram growth rate. So this is what I am going to do in the next 6 months.

1. I have not taken advantage of Sponsored posts (even though I have seen it since day one). I am going to make a list of big accounts (50K – 400K) and them send them a copy of my book and artworks and will ask for a free or paid shout out.

2. I am going to restart using Instagress/Instamacro. I used them for the most part of my earlier growth but then stopped using it. So, I will be reusing the auto-Likes feature. I am not so sure about the auto-comments at this time.

3. I am going to blog more frequently. This way I am gaining exposure that is beyond Instagram. This will also lead to further growth on my Instagram.

4. I’ll start pre-scheduling my Instagram posts. My goal is to post more frequently. My current average post frequency is 1.5 posts a day. I want to increase it to 4 posts a day.

5. I’ll keep following and taking advantage of all of the above 1-10 steps, tools and techniques.

 

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Have you used any of the tools mentioned in the post today? If you know of any other strategies to hack Instagram super growth that I have missed here, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use my strategies, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

How To Get Out Of $50,000 Debt | Tips On How To Overcome A Large Debt

 

Part One of a Three Parts Series

Every time I have lost money is when I have tried to make more money than what I was already making. ~ Salil Jha

Week 1

I have been hit hard (twice now). I have got an IRS bill for $17,000. This needs to be paid in 30 days. Five months ago, I got a similar tax bill from IRS asking for $8000 in various taxes. I took a loan from my girlfriend and paid $8000 thinking it was a big fat check for an expensive business lesson. I thought to myself, I have already learned a lot in my various business venture. But, unfortunately, this was just the beginning.

This is a story of resilience, positivism and making lemonade out of life’s lemons. This is my story. A true story. A story of an immigrant boy trying to chase his American Dream and the mistakes made on his perilous journey.

I started an IT consulting business in Oct 2011. My primary goal to start Precog LLC (the name of the company) was to generate some side income and possibly grow the business to enough profit so that I eventually sponsor my H1B visa and Green Card through it while making good cash.

The goal was also to help recent college grads to find jobs and help them in whatever way possible. There were a lot of bad and abusive companies in the IT consulting realm and our goal was to purge the abuse of innocent and poor college students.

The company was started by Albert Pen, my good friend and me. The company was incorporated in his name, the same month he got his Green Card. I was the man running the engine. Albert was the legal structure beneath our company.

One thing that I did not mention yet is that Precog was not originally conceived as an IT consulting firm.

The groundwork of Precog started in early 2010 when two of my good friends and I thought of building an electronic stretching machine. Our ideas was to make stretching easier to learn for martial artists, yogis, gymnasts, and any fitness enthusiasts.

But, one of my friends had another idea, a rather big idea to build flying drones and sell the idea to state governments.

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

Look, back in 2010, a Canadian company was in fact building and selling drones (UAVs) to DC police. Their product was in $20,000 USD and we wanted to build something for half the price.

We started to work on the first prototype, leaving the electronic stretcher idea on the back burner. As we got more involved in our overly ambitious project, all of us started to realize that we need more capital than what we had initially planned for.

Together we spent $6500 into the project and as you can probably predict from the story line, we lost it all. One of my friend who has spent into a powerful computer took his computer and factoring that still lost about $1000. I lost about $3000 in this failed venture.

So this was the beginning of Precog. And this Precog was about to be transformed into a service-oriented company where you do not have to invest a lot of cash up front.

The Precog LLC Era

I worked very hard building Precog. I created a website for our company and began to advertise our services. Soon, I had several interested students calling me for IT training and assistance in job placements.

I started to teach classes, often charging $500 for each student per course. Initially, I was mainly working with recent college graduates.

The first 6 months were tough. Not for the business but tough on me. I was working a full-time job and I was running Precog part-time. I used to wake up early at 6 AM, do a training session, then get ready for the job.

During my lunch hours, I used to call and screen my students and answer to new inquiries. In the evening, after returning from my job, I used to take another class, sometimes two classes in a row.

I was working with various vendors. I was working with my students over the phone to prepare them for job interviews. I was talking to clients and other marketers. It was an all-consuming job. I believe I used to work ~16 hours a day, maybe longer on some days.

In the first 10 months, I invested almost $10,000 USD without much return. This was the turning point for Precog. It was “do or die”.

One of my friend, Matt Joy, who was trying to find a job came onboard during this time. Matt took charge for saving Precog. He was Godsent. Precog not only survived but actually thrived after Matt joined the team. Soon, we hired a marketer from India. His name was Daniel. And now we were a strong team of three, making some real cash.

The $750,000 Venture

We placed more than a dozen consultants between 2012-2014. We trained a lot of students. We were making some noise. This was late 2012. Things were looking sunny. We did over $500,000 in revenues in 2013 alone. In total, we did almost $750K in business in two and a half years of Precog’s life.

The business was doing great but my mind and body wanted to give up. I was single and occasionally dating. I thought to myself, business and money can come anytime but this is the time to find my life’s partner. My focus shifted from business and money to relationships.

2013 was hard on me personally. None of my relationships were lasting more than 3months. Matt was getting frustrated with me because he was all pumped up and wanted to take Precog forward. I, on the other hand, was distracted between dating and running a company.

I did not have the energy or interest in doing so. By this time I also began to realize the tax and accounting complications that Precog was facing. We had consultants working in 8 different US States.

All the tax paperwork in itself was 20 hours of work per week. The stakes were high, money was rolling in, and the business was getting complex.

 

Week 2

This past week, I have been thinking of ways to repay my $50K debt. The breakdown of my current debts are like this:

$18000 IRS/Business Dissolving Cost

$14000 – Girlfriend’s loan

$18000 – Credit cards debt

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$50,000  Total debt

 

This past week, I canceled some small monthly payments (to stop the slow bleeding). Subscriptions such as Spoitfy premium, TU Credit Monitoring and Audible membership were the first three to go.

These small monthly savings will not amount in big numbers but it is for the motivational purposes. These steps gave the mental confidence that “I CAN DO IT.” And I have 2 years to clean this mess up without significantly downgrading my lifestyle.

I am not giving up on music, reading or financial know-how. Instead, I am switching to Pandora’s free account, switching to Kindle eBooks (much cheaper) and Credit Karma’s free credit monitoring. I do not have any upcoming big purchases or loan request so I really do not need any credit monitoring at this time.

Next, I gave ultimatums to all other people I have employed on eLance for blog writing, manuscript editing, etc. This is going to save me $140 per month starting May 1st.

However, I have decided to keep one editor to edit my two upcoming books and one Virtual Assistant to help me grow my public platforms. In total, this is $200 per month expense. It is important to note that these costs are not new addition but the continuation of on-going expenses so I won’t feel a blow but will have to suffer the heat, well at least for now, until I find a better solution for my requirements.

I took advantage of Citi double points credit card offer. This will let me use $1700 credit for next 18 months without any interest.

I applied in my girlfriend’s name and got another $6700 for 21 months at no interest. These two credit cards will give me enough credit to use for the next one and half years.

In the coming months, I will be paying off all my existing credit cards where I also pay interests on purchases and existing balance. This way I’ll be saving $30-$40 in interest each month.

My girlfriend and I also applied to TD Bank’s checking, debit and credit offer which is offering $200 cash back and 5x points per dollar spent for the next 6 months. Together, we both will be able to get $600-$1000 back from TD bank’s offer in next 6 months. In the coming months, we will be looking for similar bank offers where we can earn or save a few hundred bucks.

The $10,000 credit union loan that I applied, I am still waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I applied for a $10,000 loan from my local Credit Union in my girlfriend’s name as well. If she will get a better rate from the Quincy Credit Union, we will take the loan in her name with Direct deposit payments. I’ll be transferring the monthly amount to her.

 

The other things I have decided to do are:

1. Call Xfinity and cancel the service in my name and get the service in my girlfriend’s name. Being a new customer, she will be getting better rates than what I am paying right now. If she gets the same rate, then I will cut the TV in our package and only keep the high-speed internet. This will bring in additional $20 monthly saving.

2. Once the free APR Citi credit card arrives, buy a new router and model through our new credit card and ask Xfinity to take off their rented Modem and Router. ($10/month savings)

3. Ask my employer to take off my health insurance ($397/month). Expected savings $280 per month.

Total monthly savings: ~$350 – $500 (per month)

In part 3, I’ll be focusing on selling old iPhones and other electronic devices that we are not using. Also, how meal planning and bringing lunch from home is saving me additional $200 in foods by not eating out.  My goal for part 3 write up (next week) is to save another $350 – $500 each month.

Week 3

Now, I am at a phase where action means more than planning. I have prepared a very detailed plan and now it is all about execution. The key here is quick action.

The first thing I did was email my website hosting company that I will be shutting down Precog’s website (i.e. $375 per year saving). I also listed both the domain and website for sale and auction on both GoDaddy and Flippa. I hope to at least sell the domain name and recover whatever I can from the sale.

I also listed my other domain names for sale which I am not using or plan on using in the next 2 years. In total, I have put five domain names on sale.

Next, I emailed MyLLC (the registrar for Precog LLC) that I would like to dissolve the business. There are some paperwork and a $99 fee. I am working on it and hope to close the business by April end. I found out that I have not paid my 2014 fee for NV and there were several other interests and penalties. In total, I paid $500 due on Precog since Oct 2014. Another $500 bill added to the debt bucket.

My girlfriend and I went to Quincy Credit Union and signed our loans. I borrowed $12,500.00 at 12.65% interest rate on 24 months repayment term and my girlfriend borrowed $7000 at 11.65% interest rate on 12 months repayment term.

I hope to repay this amount back in 24 months and 12 months respectively. I am setting aside $1200 to pay back these two loans. Starting month 13, I will continue paying $1200/month to QCU towards my $12500 loan to cut the time short and save on interest.

The next day I transferred $14000 to Albert and asked him to deposit the amount in Precog’s account. We have $3000 plus change in Precog’s business account and this will take care of the check that we will write to IRS.

I opened all my Credit Cards account and organized my balances and interest rates. I found an interesting thing. I had Credit Cards ranging in 11.15% – 23% interest. Since my big loans are in 11.65% – 12.65% range, I decided to pay off all Credit Cards which is charging me > 12.65%.

Luckily, my girlfriend does not carry any debt on her credit cards and therefore we do not have to factor in any cash there. After looking at all our credits, this is the summary.

Pay Citi, US Bank, and Chase in full and stick with Capital One (11.15%) and Discover (15%). Since the bulk of my credit card debts are consolidated in my Discover card (~11000), I have no other choice but to keep the debt there for now.

This past weekend, I started to find out all the electronic junk and books that I do not need and gathered a pile of items to be sold. I listed both our old iPhone 4S, two old digital cameras, and 2 books.

I have about 20 more books to put. At the time of writing this, I have already sold both iPhones (within 12 hours of listing on Amazon for $95 + shipping) and one book (The Art of War by Robert Greene) for $8 + shipping. I’ll continue to do this until I am rid of all the things that I do not need, use or have touched in a year or so.

Also, anything that I am not using and does not need and that cannot be sold, I will simply donate or throw away.

Keeping your home and mind clean and organized helps you in better managing your debts. I mean, it is not scientific but it works for me and few others.

I called home and explained the situation to my parents and discussed my options with my elder brother. They were stressed by the news but after talking for about half-hour, everyone got calm understanding that the situation is under control.

We continued the meal prep on Sunday and this is our third week on meal planning. I believe, meal-planning itself is saving us ~ $300-$400 each month by not eating out our lunch and dinners.

Meal planning is not only effective to save lunch dollars but also dinners. And when you do eat out, for most of the nights, you can eat at Panera and Chipotle. Note, you have to avoid restaurants because you pay for the meal and then you pay tips and end up getting drinks. So sticking to Chipotle/Panera type food joints works best.

Last week, I also called my employer and canceled my Health Insurance ($397/month pre-tax dollars). I have been on health insurance from January –  March.

If I go out of it (I understand it is a risk but it is a calculated risk that I am willing to take). By going out of health insurance, I will incur MA state tax penalty in 2016 for 9 months.

This fine will be half of the premium amount of the cheapest health insurance. By paying a fine 12 months from now and by paying it far less than what I am spending on health insurance is a better choice for me.

After taxes, this might increase my paycheck by $300 per month. I will also try to take advantage of 3 months no-penalty gap period between health insurance enrollment periods. This way I will buy cheap health on my own in 2016 and not have 3 months of coverage.

I have always had health insurance and therefore I am up-to-date with my physical, dental, vision, and everything. I feel, going out of health insurance for say 12 months is risky but worth the bet given my miserable financial situation.

I called and email all my friends to whom I have loaned money. I explained my situation and they started to pay back. I got $330 from Norm Matthews and $140 from Sean Attitude.

Tim Robert said he will try to pay me back $1410 as soon as possible and Bill Tequila said he would like to pay me back $800 loan from last year. Â In total, this will bring me $2680 in cash. I’ll use this extra cash to pay off the high-interest credit card debts or my income tax liabilities once I do my taxes for 2014 this coming week.

I have ~ $250 in my OptionHouse stock brokerage account. I have to make a decision whether I liquidate my remaining position and get out or leave the money there. $250 is not a big amount. A hard thinking line for me but I hope to come to a decision very soon.

 

 

Week 4

I started this week with some excitement and joy of paying off three of my low balance (but highest interest rate) credit cards. In total, I paid off close to $3000 in outstanding debts. Doing this is going to save me $50 in monthly interest. I also canceled my PostPlanner subscription from May. This will save me $29 each month. Phew right there, just in one day I have saved myself another $80 each month.

 

I put aside these three credit cards (Citi Diamond Preferred, Amazon Chase Visa, and US Bank Visa) on my card box (and out of my wallet). I deleted these cards from all recurring payments and moved all automatic monthly payments to my Discover Visa and Capital One Master Cards.

As of today, all of my credit card debt now reside in three cards: One Citi Double Cash (0% interest, a new card that I applied and got), a Discover card (holding the biggest portion of my debt, almost $12000 at 15% interest) and one CapitalOne card (11.15% interest, the cheapest card in my wallet).

 

I mailed $10,000 check to IRS by a 2-day priority mail so that it can reach on Monday, 04/13. I wrote a letter, signed it and sent it along with all the forms and supporting documents proving my unintentional mistake.

In my letter, I basically requested IRS to forgive my penalty (~ $2500) and to add back my educational credit of $1415. I’ll call IRS in 10 days and check on its progress. If I receive some financial breakdown, it will help.

If I do not receive any financial breakdown, Albert will take on the missed education credit payoff and I’ll pay off the rest of the balance within 5 business days once we hear back the final word from IRS.

Lastly, it is worthy to note that for the past few weeks, I have been tracking all of my expenses in an excel sheet across 50 different areas. This sheet as I continue to fill in and track my daily expenses has been mind-blowing.

For example, even after doing meal-planning, I have spent almost $500 on eating out while my grocery expenditures have been only $125 so far.

This is 4:1 ratio. This clearly shows that there is a lot of room for cost cutting and improvement. I hope to update on this after 8 weeks of tracking. I am sure, I’ll discover surprising findings.

Money you can earn and spend but time – time is a finite resource. You can’t borrow it, you can’t store it. It moves only in one direction and there is only a finite amount that you have got. To be successful, while in debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. ~ Salil Jha

Week 5

IRS cashed my $10K Precog tax check on 04/15, that’s good news. Who would call loss of $10K a good news? Well, when you have messed up and there is no way out, any little progress (similar to drinking bitter medicine to cure illness).

Now, this IRS bill is not something that I should have paid because, overall, it was indeed a net loss. What went wrong is that during the tax filing, we did not show enough expenses thinking we have already saved on taxes (once our tax due became $0).

We stopped and did not add any further expenses. And now, after IRS did an audit and a match on our revenue, they came up with additional $40,000 in our 2013 income and since we were $9000 in the loss, after doing the simple math, made a decision that our net profit in 2013 was $31000.

This $31K was then taxed at a higher rate (sort of understatement tax penalty) and assessed a Self-Employment tax of 15% (which is ridiculously high). 

Anyways, let’s move forward with our story. I called Discover Personal Loan to check if I can take a loan to pay off my remaining Credit Cards and lower my interest payments.

I qualified for $15K loan at 11.99% and paid off my remaining Credit Cards. After a while, I will seek to refinance this loan again at a lower interest rate, say between 8-9%. How?

Since consolidating your credit card debt into one personal loan often helps in credit score within a few months. This is one reason that I did not try to move my one credit card balance to another credit card with 0% APR.

The goal for me here is to not only eliminate debt (by changing my spending habits) but also to improve my credit score which in turn will open up future opportunity to further lower my interest payments and therefore the overall debt burden.

 

At the time of writing this:

My total credit card debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

My IRS debt = 0 (Zero dollars)

Loan from my girlfriend = $14000

My other loans: $34500

Quincy Credit Union (in my name) = 12,500 ($595 per month x 24 months)

Quincy Credit Union (in my girlfriendâ€s name) = $7000 ($620 per month x 12 months)

Discover Personal Loan (in my name) = $15000 ($690 per month x 24 months)

Quick Maths

So, as you can see from week 2 (above: my total debt amount roughly remains the same. $48500 instead of $50,000 but now at least I have put up a plan to pay it off in 24 months without changing my employment or sacrificing too much on my lifestyles.

However, my game plan has just begun.

Continue Selling

I continue to sell my electronic gadgets and equipment that I do not use. Books sell as well but they bring on a very little amount of change (when we are talking about $50K).

I sold our two old iPhones (4S) for $200. Tim paid back $500 to me (actually just today). Tim still needs to return me $1115.

I have deposited $7500 in Precog’s business bank account just to wrap up Precog and pay off the remaining bill to IRS.

Both I and my girlfriend received our TD Bank cards this last week which is giving us $200 cash back for spending $500 in first 90 days. We have switched all of our expenses (and subscriptions and/or automatic payments) to TD card to meet $500 threshold.

On the flip side, last week, we also did our personal taxes and ended up paying $5000 and $900 to IRS and $52 and $200 in State Tax to Massachusetts (my girlfriend and I, respectively).

She had to pay a lot of federal tax because of how her I9 and W4 was set up with her ex-employer. She has had already anticipated and planned for high tax amount and therefore these taxes did not affect us financially.

Nevertheless, this was a lot of money going out of our bank accounts. At the end of the day, after paying over $6100 in taxes, we felt broke looking at our checking account balance.

Weeks 6-8

This past three weeks I have been selling my older books and other non-necessity items on Amazon and as a Garage sale in my building. I sold a few electronics toys to my friends and colleagues at work.

I am currently enjoying $0 in Credit Cards debt. As I mentioned above as of today my credit score has jumped from 670 to 720. Having a loan is actually a good thing for the Credit report and not having a Credit card debt is also one of the best things you can do regarding your personal finance.

At this rate, I hope within 6 months, I’ll be able to take loan offers at a much lower rate than what Discover is currently giving me (11.99%).

Conclusion & Next Steps

I’ll end the first part of this story here. I’ll have a second blog post on it with more details in 6 months. We’ll revisit my total financial debt and what new measure I am employing to get rid to the single penny.

Hope this post has been inspirational, motivational and educational in some regards.

Remember, to be successful, to get out of your debt, you have to work extra hard to make up for not having money. You have to solve each problem creatively. This is a blessing in disguise. You will get to exercise all the creative brain cells if there is such a thing inside the human skull.

You have to make sure that you are not losing time by missing out on good opportunities. Remember there is a thing called “opportunity cost”. You have to keep moving forward with time and not wait until you are out of debt.

I hope to shed some light on this topic in my next blog post as well. See you in six months.

If this blog post has been helpful to you or if you have faced a similar situation in the past, please DO SHARE your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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If you have tried any of above-mentioned methods and/or tactics to successfully get rid of debt (whether a small sum or large), please share your success story. Also if my post has made you laugh or helped you by motivating you or giving you a direction, I would love to hear from you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

7 Tips On How To Connect With Influencers | The Right Way To Introduce Yourself

Do want to know how to influence an influencer? In this short blog post, we’ll talk about 7 simple, easy-to-do, specific tips (and proven tactics) to help you connect with the influential people in your niche or any well-known expert you admire. 

Whether it is a celebrity, currently in the limelight or a fading star, yet impossible to reach out. You can meet and get in touch with almost anyone if you want to. Even the Mr. President (44th).

But first, let’s talk about who is an influencer? For our blog post, we will call a person an “Influencer” if they’re well respected and highly visible in their industry.

These are the highly successful people who have earned the trust of their audience (or readership) through the content they create and provide.

These are the people who have built their credibility as an “influencers” in their niche for some time. They are well known and they have millions of fans on social media and TV.

For example, Seth Godin and Neil Patel in the Marketing space, Maria Popova, and James Altucher in blogging, Tony Robbins in motivational speaking, Elon Musk in disruptive technology, and so on. The list goes on.

My point here is two-fold:

No. 1, there is no shortage of influencers in any industry.

No. 2, they come in all shape, size, and background. Some are well known by more or less anyone in the general public (example, Bill Gates for Philanthropy and Business) and some are well known in their specific niche but are largely unknown by the general masses (example, Pat Flynn in Podcasting on Passive income).

Nevertheless, an influencer’s blessing can take you or your cause to the next level. Be it a charity fundraising event or a new book that you are publishing or a tech start-up.

How To Connect With Influencers

1. Write about the Influencers whom you want to meet. Write in a newspaper, magazine or simply on your blog.
2. Email these Influencers how you have used their teachings and applied their methods and found success. Send them a success case-study.
3. Engage with them/comment/mention/follow when they do not even know you. Communicate with them on their social media. When they ask for feedback, be sure to leave one. If they are asking specific questions, be sure to answer them.
4. Find where these influencers are teaching and lecturing. A lot of the Influencers also guest speak or teach somewhere. Find out and attend their classes, conference or event. You’ll get plenty of opportunity at the event/class to introduce yourself.
5. Reach out to these Influencers (by email first) and tell them how can what you do can help them to solve a specific problem.
6. Volunteer and meet them where their heart is. If the person you are trying to reach out also happens to support a cause that you are equally passionate about, meet them there — where two hearts are united as one.
7. Organize an event and invite these Influencers to speak or present. Even better, tie it to a cause or charity or for education. For example, a college campus or a local town hall meeting. 

Say Yes to fear and Goodbye to comfort-zone.

I have met a lot of great and wonderful people by doing the above 7 steps. The names are not big enough to drop it here in this post but, let me openly challenge myself in front of the internet public and say this: I am going to follow the above 7 steps and meet some of the big names that I have mentioned in my blog.

Once, I have successfully made an introduction to them and have something more solid to show for, I’ll do a follow up blog post.

In the meantime, how about, some of you take my challenge as well. If you think you have a wonderful plan that will make this planet a better place for everyone, why not try to meet some of the Influencers in your field and share what you are doing to meet them.

Please share your thoughts and stories (success as well as failures) in the comment below.

 

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If you have tried these methods and tactics to successfully introduce yourself to an Influencer, please share your success stories and how this has helped you. Any other comments, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

Best Meta Learning | Rapid Learning | Accelerated Learning Tools, Templates & Methods

Rapid learning is a skill that can be acquired by anyone. Likewise being highly efficient and productive is also a skill and lifestyle habit that can be learned and integrated into one’s life.

Let’s talk about productivity first before we get into the world of #MetaLearning.

How To Learn Like A Machine

Understanding Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

Effectiveness is getting greater or equal output for a given input. Efficiency is having a superior process so that for a given input the output is always exponentially greater.

Productivity 101

80% result with 20% work

1. Create a morning ritual (the first 90 minute).
2. Establish a daily routine (daily structure).
3. Establish a weekly routine (weekly short term objective).
4. One postcard size to-do list (to be disposed at the end of day).
5. Keep a pen, dairy and a voice recorder always handy.
6. Do your most important task during your most productive hours (in terms of mental energy and freshness). Do your least important or auto-pilot work during your weakest hours (again speaking in regards to mental energy).
7. Practice Lucid dreaming and practice conscious dreaming to strengthen your visualization skills.
8. Sleep 8-9 hours. This sounds paradoxical but it’s true that sleeping 33% of your time keeps you super productive for the rest 66% of your waking hours.
9. Seek creative solutions to your complex problem in your dreams. Harness the power of your unconscious brain.
10. Master a ritual or routine that helps you to get into the “Flow state” faster. Get into the flow state as often as possible, and aim to stay there for as long as possible.

Meta Learning Explained

As with most things in life (or word), there is no one best thing or way. One technique might works for someone while another may prove helpful to another.

Also, ion our context of methods to learn faster, the best technique will also vary based on the subject at hand. For example, learning music or musical instrument is significantly different from learning investment strategies in the stock market.

The Word ‘Meta’

The word “meta” comes from Greek and it means “beyond” (or after). This is why we have words like Metaphysics (beyond conventional physics). Etc. Meta also means “self-referential”. In Computer Science, metadata means “data about data”. Metacognition means “cognition about cognition”.

 

Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin

Tim Ferriss‘ DiSSS and CaFE is a good method for learning cognitive tasks such as Language learning, Computer Science as well as for physical activities such as Archery and Brazilian Jujitsu.

Tim’s method is external, dismantling and then rebuilding, and effectiveness driven. This is explored in depth in his new book The 4-Hour Chef.

Josh Waitzkin‘s art of learning (meta learning) focuses on integration, transformation and channeling. His method included conscious unlearning (instead of ignoring).

Josh’s method is systematic but creativity driven. Josh explores his ideas in his autobiographical book The Art of Learning.

Best Rapid Learning Tools and Methods

In my own experience, I have learned 5 languages so far and I am currently learning Nepali (my 6th language).

I am a published poet and I’ve worked as a coder and as well as solar panel plasma depositor.

I am a black belt in Shotokan Karate and at the same time a start-up guy. I am a blogger and also work a full-time job. I have traveled to all 50 US States and 32 countries so far (as of 2019). So how am I managing all this within the constraint of the 24 hours that we all have?

I have utilized both DiSSS, CaFE and Josh’s Art of Learning principle. Moreover, what has worked for me is a combination of everything plus my own experiments as outlined below.

I learned SQL and programming from nothing. I learned dancing from not knowing how to move. True that I had a background in martial arts (a form of dance-like art) and true that I studied engineering and took a few computer languages class. But, still, in my own mind, I was a zero. How did I do that?

Learn fast and have fun in the process

An Effective Meta Learning Template

 

DR. BevO, DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT BiTS

This can be further broken down into three layers (top, inner, and outer) of organized learning principles.

 

Layer 1 (The top layer): DR. BevO

Layer 2 (The inner layer): DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

Layer 3 (The outer layer): BiTS

 

The top layer: DR. BevO

Step 1: Deconstruct and Dissect.

This step is all about methodically breaking down a body of knowledge in order to study its internal parts and complex interconnection.

What is the minimum useful unit of knowledge? For a foreign language, it would be a word. For a programming language, it would be a syntax.

 

Step 2: Reference framework (to not reinvent the wheel)
Pick a reference framework. To learn a new skill, find out what one you already possess and if you have to teach it to someone totally new, how would you structure your classes and why?

For example, if I have to teach someone Martial Arts, I’ll start with the four most common kicks among the top four schools/styles. Learning most common (& effective) four kicks will put you in top 10% of fighters.

SQL or Programming – Most common functions, syntax and/or statements
Learning most common syntax and statements will make you query work 80% of the time.

Think first and think deep.

 

Find and study the “normal (i.e average)” and the “experts/masters/anomalies”. Ask these questions and write down the answers.

Question 1. What do the average people do?

Question 2. What the experts or master do not do that the average do?

Doing this will help you to determine:
– List for quick reduction
– The goal is to not become a master or mimic a master but to simplify so that you can enter first and then go on to conquer.

 

Step 3: Bird’s Eye View (View from 30,000 ft)
Look at the extreme and center. Do this to filter out whatever intimidates you. You can always come back to the additional learning materials later. Compress the most important 20% or so into a 30,000 ft map (to be used later).

A bird’s eye view map. This step is related to navigation and to correctly size your problem. This step is also to get a reality check. Once you know what you are up against it is easy to fight it by breaking it down into smaller conquerable pieces.

 

Step 4: Order

Order is to sequencing your learning material into modules (linear and later overlapping). In other words, what’s the most effective order for learning these parts that you broke down in step 1 – 3?

 

The inner layer: DaD, Me, MoM & our CAT

This is the second layer of learning. Here it is all about putting the pieces together. This is the battleground. In layer one, you have done all the planning and you have made your strategies. Now, time for the action. Are you ready?

 

Step 1: Draw diagrams
Draw as many diagrams as many you can. Connect the dots. Connect the concepts together. Find correlation. Find overlap. Find opportunities for integration. Find the opportunity for improvements. Question and find the gaps.

The more you draw and trash and draw better knowledge diagrams, charts, and maps, the more efficient you will become at the application of your newly acquired knowledge. This will also help you with the next step.

An example:

Memory mindmap

 

Step 2: Memorization
Memorize the map. Memorize 20%. Memorize the syntax. Memorize the kicks. Memorizing in this step is about rapid memorization.

If some of the things do not make sense, still memorize. Slowly, slowly, you’ll learn to connect the dots. Do not worry about understanding the full theory here, just remember the most basic units of your learning material.

 

Step 3: Mental Maps

Creating mental maps is going a step further than drawing knowledge charts and diagrams. Mental maps are where you start to connect the dots between what you have understood so far. Mental maps also take advantage of your 30,000 ft view to help you understand what you need to do next to reach your ultimate goal. This map is the map for your beginning to end the journey.

Note, mental maps will keep refining as you get better in the application of what you have learned and when you start to understand what you have bluntly memorized.

 

Step 4: Cheat sheet (no bigger than one page)
This is to be made by you. Irrespective of how small or big this gets, you alone must create this. Again, as with the whole theory behind this method, you’ll keep refining your cheat sheet.

A cheat sheet is what you have learned. This contains mostly what you have not memorized and the essence of what you have memorized already. You can also prepare CliffsNotes of any books, articles, etc that deals with the skill that you are trying to learn.

An example of using a diagram to organize information

 

Step 5: Action (& Practice)
Action means to practice in real-time. This is where you get comfortable with the hands-on phase of any skill acquisition. This means real-time coding. This means kicking high. When in action phase, you are NOT to learn new things unless and until you have mastered the things that you have broken down so far.

(You can, however, dig deeper into what you are practicing if time permits.)

Remember iteration is the key concept. If you are learning SQL selects (for one database table) with group by, order by, and all the other basic SQL commands then until you are master in all the variations of select, do not jump to joins (selecting data from two or more database tables).

Practice with the diagrams you have drawn and the cheat sheet. Refine your diagram and cheat sheet as you make mistakes in action/practice phase. Also, needless to say, you are also modifying and improving your mental maps.

 

Step 6: Time it (Distributed learning)
Two things to do in this last phase. Time your learning window and then test yourself. By failing to remember or do something you’ll feel that internal kick which will make your brain in super-receptive mode. Remember, sometimes real learning happens when you have failed a test. So fail many times in mock tests before the real test comes.

Secondly, distribute your learning sessions. Rather than sitting whole night or two days straight, split your session. Do something fun in between or you may even play with something totally different. It is better to keep the primary focus on one difficult thing at once but you can surely have fun with something that does not require high cognitive energy.

Note, you learn well when you are enjoying your subject. That’s how you get into that flow state. And to enjoy your subject, you need that mental energy. You do not want to be fatigued.

 

The outer layer: BiTS

This is the third layer of learning. You need only one of the following three. If you can do more than one, even better. But you must have at least one of these to keep you in accountable and interested in the game. Make learning fun, make it a game.

 

Step 1: Buddy system
Having a buddy whether it is programming or martial arts helps you quiz one another, challenge one another and therefore learn faster. The more fun a new adventure is, the faster you master it.

 

Step 2: Teaching
Find someone whom you can teach what you have learned and what you might not have learned. Teaching others is one the fastest way to learn something yourself. If you cannot find someone to teach, teach yourself. Play a mind game with yourself. Quiz yourself and answer to yourself.

 

Step 3: Stakes

This is all about staying in the game long enough to reap rewards for your hard work. Too many people quit a new skill after some trying because they feel it is not worth it. First thing to note here.

1. Are you motivated by negative outcome (fear) or positive outcome (anticipation of reward)?

If you are the fear type then you need to find out what psychological and social mechanisms can you set up for maintaining your inner discipline?

For example, you can publicly share your goal with your friends so that you feel accountable. On the other hand, if you are internally motivated, perhaps, set up a reward for yourself if and when you achieve a milestone (or mini-goal).

 

Summary:

D = Deconstruct
R = Reference (cross POV)
Bev = Bird’s Eye View
O = Order (sequence)
DaD = Draw Diagram
Me = Memorize
MoM = Mental Maps
C = Cheat Sheet (CliffsNotes)
A = Action  (& Practice)
T = Time it
B = Buddy (Partner)
T = Teach
S = Stakes (& Rewards)

 

Hope this helps in reaching and achieving your goals. Please feel free to leave me your thoughts in comments below.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in touch!

Do you have a favorite meta learning method that you follow (or have followed in the past)? If you have tried Naked Soul method, please share your success stories and how this has helped you learn a new skill faster. Any other comments, please feel free to share your thoughts with us.