Are You Living the Dream?

Are you living the life of your dreams? Do you even know what your dream lifestyle is?

living the dreamDo those questions sound silly to you?

If so, that’s a major mindset issue you really need to change. I know that, because I’ve been there, and not that long ago.

Have you ever been to an event or read a book which asked you to describe your dream life or list what you really want in life, or something along those lines?

If so, did you find it hard to answer?

There’s something seriously wrong with that!

If you’re asked to use your imagination and describe what you really want out of life, why is that so difficult to answer?

Keep in mind, these questions almost always just ask what you want, not how you would get it.

Do You Know What Your Dream Is?

It’s sad, really. A lot of us have dreams as kids, then by the time we get through high school and perhaps college, we have all the dreams sucked right out of us. We’re taught that we will have to spend most of our adult lives working for someone else, doing what they tell us to, living where it’s convenient for them, not where we really want to live, and if we’re lucky, eventually retire some day, then sit around in our old age wondering where all the years went.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

I spent about 15 years trapped in the corporate rat race. I’m not sure I realized at the time how bad it was, but it was no way to live. I would get up too early Monday through Friday, sit in traffic to drive to a job that I didn’t like, hope not to get fired or in major trouble, come home, have dinner, watch a little TV and go to bed. Repeat 5 days a week, year round, eagerly waiting for the weekend or holidays or vacation time to arrive.

Not much of a lifestyle, really. Certainly better than many people in other parts of the world, but nowhere near living the dream. If someone had asked me back then what my dream was, it probably would have been something lame like to get a higher paying job or nicer house, not something that would have truly fulfilled me.

I don’t think I even knew anyone back then who was living their dream.

More and More People Are Living the Dream Right Now

Over the past few years, all that has changed. The Internet has made it much easier for people to live their dream lifestyles, and I’ve gotten to know more and more people who are living their dreams or in the process of creating their dream lives.

Most of these people are young, under 30, some still in their teens. Why aren’t there more people over 40 but not yet retired working on this?

All I can say is that the older you get, the easier it is to get set in your ways. People get more years accumulated in their jobs or careers, and it seems easier to stay on the current path than start something new.

But if you’re 40 or 50, why condemn yourself to another 10-25 years of the rat race, when you could start living your dream within a year or so?

Why wait til some corporation or government agency says you’re old enough to retire, to start living your dreams? My dad worked his whole life, retired after 30 years with one big company, then died 3 years later. A whole 3 years of retirement, most of it spent waiting for my mom to retire. Fortunately her retirement lasted 30 years, but almost all of it without her husband.

Living the Dream Right Now

For the past few years I’ve been meeting many people who have started living their dreams.

Some people’s dreams involve living in specific places, pursuing certain activities, or making specific amounts of money.

One of my best friends loves to surf and was able to move to Costa Rica, live by the ocean, and go surfing every day in one of the world’s best surfing spots. He’s living his dream right now.

Even if you don’t like being in the water, you have to admit that’s pretty cool, right? (He even gave his team the name Living the Dream.)

An interesting thing about some of these dream lifestyles is that they don’t cost a lot of money, sometimes no more than living in a typical apartment in the United States, but they just sound exotic.

I recently met someone who just turned 20 and was able to pursue his dream of moving to Thailand and working very part time, in just a few months starting from scratch.

There are many others I could tell you about, but I’ll save those for another time.

What Is Your Dream?

Drop me a comment in the box below and let me know what your dream lifestyle is. If you’re not sure what is, take some time to really think about that.

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Your Product Doesn’t Have to Be That Original

Have you ever thought about creating your own product? (If not, you probably should.)

In this post I want to address what I see as a very common problem: people who have the potential to create good or even great products but don’t bother because they don’t think they have enough to offer.

A very common version of this thinking goes like this: There are already products about subject X, so I shouldn’t create my own.

That is really bad thinking that successful business people don’t waste their time entertaining.

Note: I am not saying you should blatantly copy other people’s products or create lousy products. Let me give you a real example of what I mean.

A Real-Life Example

Recently I met a man who makes a very comfortable living with a specific type of offline business, a common one that many people have done, but very few make a living with. He works about 10 hours a week on it, has no employees, and makes more than enough to support his wife and kids. He’s been doing that type of business almost 15 years and making a living from it for about 10 years.

I asked him if he had ever considered doing coaching or creating a course to teach people how to do that kind of business and he said yes, many times.

Naturally I wondered why he hadn’t done it, since he certainly was qualified to teach that and had the time to do so.

He said the main reason he hadn’t created a course was that there are already other courses that teach how to do that business.

Of course there are. Like I said, he’s in a common business. But since he’s been doing it for so long and making a good living at it for close to a decade, don’t you think there are people who would love to learn from him?

I know of other courses on that subject, but after talking with him for few minutes, I’d rather learn that stuff from him than some industry guru, and I’m sure there are other people who would feel the same way, too.

That’s because anyone with that much real experience in a subject is bound to include ideas in his product that the others aren’t teaching.

It’s also because his style of teaching would be different from anyone else’s, because everyone’s style is different.

Stop Thinking That Way

If you think you can’t or shouldn’t create a product on topic X because there are already products on that, stop thinking that way!

If that’s really the way things work, there should only be one product about each topic. Imagine how boring a world would result from that. Imagine if there could only be one book about playing golf, one about raising dogs, one about investing in stocks, and so on.

I have created courses on membership sites and Kindle publishing, among other subjects. Are there other courses on those topics? Yes, of course, but I didn’t let that stop me, because I know mine are different and have some ideas the others lack.

Imagine if Dave Thomas hadn’t started Wendy’s because McDonald’s and Burger King were already selling fast food hamburgers. I seriously doubt he ever spent even 5 minutes thinking that way. Yet, every day, people are selling themselves short by not creating products because someone else already has a product that covers that topic.

Forget About Competition

If you’re waiting for a topic that no one else has written about, plan on waiting a long time, or finding some topic that’s so obscure that there’s nothing available on that topic because there’s no demand for it.

You might manage to find some brand new topic and be the first to create a product about it, which can be a great advantage, but don’t expect to be alone for long if the market is a good one, because other people will create products and won’t have the hangup about having to have no competition.

Forget about competition!

Three Simple Questions

If you’re considering creating a product (specifically an information product such as a book, membership site, or course), there are really only three questions you need to answer:

1. Is there a demand for the information? If not, don’t bother creating something no one wants.

2. Can you create a quality product on that topic? Note that doesn’t mean you have to be the expert. You can find someone else who’s an expert or research the topic.

3. Do you want to create a product on the topic? (I’ll assume the answer here is yes, or you probably wouldn’t be considering it.)

If you can answer Yes to all three of those, go for it, do your best and forget about competition. If not, find something else to do.

It’s really that simple.

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The Secret- Is the Law of Attraction Real or Just New Age Baloney?

The movie and book The Secret stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy a few years ago.

In this post I’ll share my thoughts on them. The book is pretty much a transcript of the movie, so I’ll focus on the movie itself, which came first.

What Is the Law of Attraction?

Some ways to define the law of attraction:

  • Thoughts become things
  • You get what you think about
  • Like attracts like

Although The Secret is fairly new, the concept is not. The Secret is just a new name for an idea called the law of attraction, which has been around for a long time.

Napoleon Hill and the Law of Attraction

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill says that throughout that book is a secret which is important but he will not spell out exactly what it is. The first time I read that book years ago, I got pretty frustrated about that. Just tell me what the secret is!

After seeing the movie, I was convinced that the secret Hill was talking about was the law of attraction. That makes perfect sense, considering the title of the book and the fact that the first chapter of the book is titled Thoughts Are Things.

The Debate over the Law of Attraction

People who have heard about the law of attraction seem to fit into one of two camps: those who believe in it and practice it, and those who think it is nonsense. I doubt many people from either group will be persuaded to change their mind; it would almost be like debating religion.

The law of attraction should really be called the theory of attraction, because in science, a law is something that is scientifically proven, like gravity, while a theory is an idea that some believe has merit but has not yet been proven.

By its very nature, the law of attraction is unprovable. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, just that if a person practices the law of attraction and gets their desired results, it’s impossible to prove the results were a result of the law of attraction. After all, plenty of people get what they want who have no clue about the law of attraction.

I think the law of attraction has been misinterpreted (even by some supporters) as “just wish for things and they will magically appear.” I can see where people might get that impression, but I didn’t hear anyone in the film say “do nothing.”

The Movie The Secret

The Secret is a well-produced documentary-style film, not unlike something you might see on The Discovery Channel or The History Channel. It’s mostly narration with some visuals to make an impact, intercut with snippets of interviews with experts who teach about the law of attraction. The experts include Joe Vitale, Bob Proctor, Michael Beckwith, John Assaraf, Jack Canfield, Loral Langemeier, Bob Doyle, Denis Waitly, John Hagelin, and many others.

Many of the experts have slightly different interpretations of what the law of attraction means, which is not unusual for that type of subject matter.

Regardless of your point of view on the topic, I highly recommend watching the movie.

The movie is sort of a Dummies guide to the law of attraction, and I mean that in a good way. It’s a good introduction to the subject, and there is a lot of other material out there on the subject if you want to know more.

The Law of Attraction: Real or Nonsense?

It’s hard to argue with many points made in The Secret.

For example, visualization has been proven to work in many studies done among athletes. Before those studies were done, it might have been hard to believe that just the act of imagining yourself performing a physical task well could help you do that task in real life, but that’s now accepted as fact.

Here are some other tips and teachings from The Secret:

  • Decide exactly what you want
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Think about what you want, not what you don’t want
  • Visualize what you want in as much detail as possible
  • Express gratitude
  • You don’t have to know all the steps to where you want to go, to start heading there
  • Believe you deserve what you want
  • Feel good as much as possible
  • Set big goals

What Do I Think of The Law of Attraction?

Whenever I’ve taken a personality test, I’ve always scored in the extreme analytical / logical sector of the population, just a bit geekier than Spock. So my natural tendency is to hear an idea like the law of attraction and think it must be total bull.

But like I said above, I see a definite connection between the law of attraction and Think and Grow Rich. That’s a book everyone says you must read, even people who think the law of attraction is complete nonsense. Interesting, eh?

I’m going to throw an idea out there: Why not just pretend the law of attraction works and act like you believe it’s true? What if you followed the advice in that list above? Can you really argue with any of it?

That’s what I plan on doing, after rewatching The Secret twice in the past few days, once just to watch, and the second to take notes.

What’s the worst that could happen? You set some big goals, feel better, but don’t fully achieve them? You figure out what you want in life but don’t quite get there (yet)?

I also plan to read and listen to more material about the law of attraction and related topics, as well as reading more Napoleon Hill.

What Do You Think of The Law of Attraction?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Drop me a comment in the box below and tell me what you think of the movie, the book, and/or the law of attraction. Thanks.

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The Buried Life – What do you want to do before you die?

What do you want to do before you die? That question is at the heart of The Buried Life, a TV series that ran on MTV in 2010.

What Is The Buried Life?

The Buried Life features four young men from Canada (Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, and brothers Duncan and Jonnie Penn), who make a list of 100 things they want to do before they die and set out to do those things. It’s the same concept as a bucket list. They drive a bus around America doing the stuff on the list.

The Buried LifeSome sample things on their list:

  • Ask out the girl of your dreams (a celebrity)
  • Tell a joke on a late night talk show
  • Escape from a deserted island
  • Crash a parade
  • Play basketball with the president
  • Get in a fight

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the guys on The Buried Life don’t always manage to do the thing they sent out to do on the episode. That’s kind of the point, because most of the items have a certain degree of difficulty or risk to accomplish. Their list is not a set of mundane items like “go skydiving” or “visit Paris” that anyone could do simply by paying money.

The Buried Life works on several levels. At first it might seem to be another MTV reality show about young people doing stuff. But it’s not a reality show; it’s more a documentary than anything.

The Buried Life is great for escapist entertainment, but it’s also deeper, because it makes you think about your own life, or at least it should.

Here’s a trailer for the show:

The Message of The Buried Life

What do you want to do before you die?

That question should make you think. If you watch The Buried Life with the right attitude, it will make you start thinking about what you want to do with your life, maybe some of the same things the guys on the show want to do, and probably some totally different things, too.

Another tagline of the show is Anyone can do anything.

It’s also a pretty good example of cashing in on your passion. Those guys didn’t just start doing things on their bucket list. They got a major network to pay them to be on TV and travel around the country having fun and doing what they want to do anyway. Do what you want, get paid for it, and get some degree of fame for doing it, too.

The Buried Life Gives Back

Besides chasing their own bucket list adventures, on each episode of the show, the guys help a stranger do something on that person’s list, usually something they would have had trouble doing on their own. This often involves things like reuniting with someone they haven’t seen in years.

The Future of The Buried Life

The show ended prematurely after only 18 episodes, which you can get on DVD.

Since the list had 100 items on it and each episode focused on one item, it sure looks like the plan was to make many more episodes. The future is unclear, although the guys are reportedly working with MTV on a new project.

The guys also published a book, What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?, which became a number one bestseller.

Go check out The Buried Life and soak in its message.

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Swimming in the Shark Tank

Last night I got to go on a new web-based show called Shark Tank JV, modeled after the TV show, on which people pitch their products to a group of independent investors (sharks) to try to get someone to invest in their company.

On the TV show people usually have a physical product and are looking for a shark to invest a certain amount of money in exchange for a percentage of the company. Some of them make deals that can make them rich and some don’t get a deal at all for various reasons. It’s interesting and educational to watch the negotiations to see what it takes to get one of the high net worth sharks to invest some money.

shark tankI’m a big fan of the TV show, which features sharks like Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, and Barbara Corcoran, people who have made hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in business and are looking for places to invest their money.

I was invited to go on Shark Tank JV as a vendor, someone looking to get a shark involved with his project. I was in uncharted territory, since this was the first episode of Shark Tank JV, so no one really knew what would happen or what a “normal” deal would look like.

What was it like going on Shark Tank JV and what lessons can be learned from it?

What Happened in the Shark Tank

It was definitely a huge advantage that I’ve seen most or all of the episodes of Shark Tank on TV, because that helped me avoid the mistakes a lot of people make. Here are a few of them.

They get greedy and ask for too much by overvaluing their business. A lot of vendors use logic like “Soft drinks are a $10 billion dollar industry, and if we could get just 1% of that, we’d make a fortune.” The big word there is IF. Just because an industry is huge doesn’t mean your personal brand of cola is going to be able to compete with Coke, Pepsi, and all the other well-established drinks in that market, or even get 1% of the market share.

Some people seem to think that if they make an outrageous offer, the other person will just negotiate something more reasonable, but what usually happens is that people just laugh and walk away. It’s like if you listed your house for sale for $1 million when the real market value is $200,000. People will see you’re so far from reality that they won’t bother to make an offer.

A sign of a successful negotiation is when everyone involved thinks they got a good deal, even a better deal than the others. To me that means you should generally start somewhere close to what you think the others will accept.

I’m not going to say here what my starting offer was; you’ll have to watch Shark Tank JV when it airs to find out, but let’s just say it got the job done.

Many people screw up by going into the shark tank when they don’t know their numbers. Sometimes vendors are asked what their sales are or what their profit is per unit and they don’t know the answer, or there is more than one person doing the presentation and they don’t agree on the answer.

It looks pretty bad to a shark if their basic questions like that can’t be answered. It’s hard to make a rational business decision without the numbers, and it makes the person look unprepared or unprofessional. It’s like going on a job interview and not knowing what a typical salary is for that job.

I had that one covered by doing a little digging before the show and looking up my number of sales and refunds, conversion rates, etc. I had some of the numbers in my presentation and had the others handy assuming someone might ask. It wasn’t hard to do, but if I hadn’t done that little bit of preparation beforehand, it wouldn’t have gone so well.

If someone asks how many copies of your product you’ve sold and you don’t know, that looks pretty bad, since it’s something you should expect to be asked in the shark tank. Sales numbers help show you have a real product that people will buy, not just an idea that may or may not work.

Another big mistake people make on Shark Tank is that they go in too early with an unproven idea. They’ve invented something or created a product that they think is great, but all they have is a prototype or not even that, with no sales. Sharks don’t usually invest in ideas; they want products or services that have been tested in the marketplace and have some sales to show their potential. A crazy idea with proven sales record is usually better than a good idea with none.

Some people go into the shark tank too late. I’ve seen some people on there whose products had been on the market for years with few sales, and that makes sharks think there’s not much demand for the product. Of course it could just be poor marketing, but the feeling seems to be that if the vendor hasn’t made something happen with their product after several years, something is wrong with either them or the product.

I got lucky there on the timing aspect of it, in that my product has made enough sales to show it’s viable and been around long enough for the sharks to get an idea of what refund rates will be, yet only a small fraction of the potential market has heard of the product. That’s just about perfect. If I had just released it last week, that’s not long enough to see if people like it, and if I had already sold 50,000 copies it might look like the market is getting saturated and most of the people who might buy it already have done so.

Or was the timing really luck? Shark Tank JV just started, so I couldn’t have gone on it a few months ago, and I certainly wasn’t going to wait a long time to apply for it. However, I did have complete control over which product I submitted, so if I had used one that’s not finished yet or has already been heavily promoted, I probably wouldn’t have done too well with that.

Like they say, you often make your own luck.

One final mistake people make on Shark Tank is they just assume they will get a deal and the only issue is what the details will be and which shark(s) will sign on. It’s great to be confident, but assuming a deal will happen is borderline arrogant. I think people do that because they desperately want or need to make a deal, but that doesn’t mean a shark will want to make a deal.

You never really know til you go in the shark tank what each shark is looking for or what kind of deal they might do. Having a great product with a proven track record isn’t enough; it has to make sense with the shark’s business. It’s quite common for a shark to say they love the product but are going to pass on it because it’s not what they’re looking for or they’re not an expert in that area.

If you’re going to get a deal, especially working with a shark, rather than just getting an investment of cash, it should be with a person who can help you the most, like someone who specializes in the industry or niche your product is in, or who already has a list of contacts in that area.

I think the sharks can smell when someone just assumes they will get a deal, and they find that insulting. Sharks don’t like being taken for granted. Just because someone has a lot of money or is an expert in what you need or is a major player in your industry, doesn’t mean they will want to work with you, especially if you come across like you think you’re entitled to it.

It’s a delicate balance, but I went into the shark tank with the attitude that no one there owed me anything, that they would give me a fair shot if I made a good presentation, that I have a good product that people like, and that probably at least one shark would be interested enough to make some sort of deal, but that it was possible I would get nothing but at least learn something from the experience.

When I found out I was going to be on Shark Tank JV, I didn’t know how many other vendors would be on or what order we would be on. I was relieved that someone else went first, so I had a chance to see what they did right or wrong and how the sharks reacted. I even made some adjustments to my presentation based on what I saw. I didn’t know when I would be on until they put up the slide with my bio, then I knew I had about a minute before going on.

So What Happened in the Shark Tank?

Since the show hasn’t aired yet, I can’t say too much, but I will say that I made a deal that I’m pretty happy with. (You don’t think I would write a long post about it if I had crashed and burned, do you?) In fact I had multiple offers and got more than I asked for, but I’m not going to say any more about the details or the people involved. You’ll have to watch the show to find out exactly what went down on Shark Tank JV.

The reality of what happened in the shark tank didn’t quite hit me til this morning, when I woke up thinking did I really just go on a show where top people competed to work with me, or was that some crazy dream?

I can also say that not every vendor got a deal; some went away empty handed. (I’m grateful to not be one of them, and I can only imagine how bad that must feel.) I saw people make some of the mistakes I’ve discussed here, and I’m wondering how many of them have seen the TV show Shark Tank to at least get a rough idea of what to expect. Watch Shark Tank JV Episode 1 online to find out what happened to everyone.

Thanks to the guys at Shark Tank JV for having me on, all the sharks for giving up a couple hours of their valuable time to sit through our presentations, and especially to my friends who did their best to help me get ready for my stint on Shark Tank JV.

BTW, be sure to catch Shark Tank Friday nights on ABC.

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