Technology Overkill

I’ve been flaunting around Twitter this week with the hashtag #techNOlogy along with little proverbs on how freeing yourself from this technology-invested world can actually do great wonders. In fact, I’ve deleted so many distracting and relatively-useless apps that it’s given me back what little sanity I used to have.

So how does technology overkill affect you and your business?

Instead of using bullet-points or fancy numerals, I figured I’d approach this post with a more relaxing flow. This post shouldn’t be advice you instantly jot down or chant like a monk’s mantra throughout the day. This is meant to form your professional philosophy.

I’m sure you’ve seen it – the C-suite exec’s walking and talking on their fancy Blackberry devices, numbed to the outside world. It’s fascinating as much as it is tragic. We all at some point in our lives, strive to become these impressive, powerful and influential individuals – emailing away to high-profile clients in Europe or that major supplier from Tokyo. While there’s nothing wrong with this desire, it’s the imbalance which affects us most.

Facebook, Twitter, Email, iMessage, Facetime, Texting, Messengers…

The constant emailing, Tweeting, updating, texting, mobile obsession we’ve all succumbed to. That’s the technology overkill I’m talking about. And it’s ruining our culture, or more importantly, your business. And here’s how.

Frequent use of social media and interactive professional services (such as LinkedIn or email) are a great asset to anyone’s professional life. The enabling features of these services allow you to expand your brand in incredible ways. But they can also disrupt the quality or perception of your brand in the public eye, not to mention its disruption of your own personal life.

When we text, Tweet, message, Facebook, email, connect, etc.. there is always good use and overuse. The good use of these tools is evident: they help scale and improve business. In the realm of overuse, instead of using these tools, we become used by the tools. They overtake our lives and consume our time.

They make us zombies.

Cue The Walking Dead‘s dramatic intro. But it’s true – the amount of technology we have today has developed us from a productive culture into a counter-productive one. Sure, we get that report to that person for that project by that deadline, and we remind friends what time to come over, but have you noticed how much of our personal life has been consumed by technology? It’s almost as if our lives are dictated based upon whether someone RSVP’s to that event on Facebook or if that Tweet gets favorited.

Because the condition of our personal life affects the way we conduct business in our professional life. And to have that constant obsession – or rather, worry – hanging above your head can be scary. To wonder when someone will respond to your email or text message, or if that friend of yours will accept your third Facetime request, can really have a negative impact. Let’s be blunt.

Social media makes us anxious.

And anxiety is not something you wake up in the morning and greet with a smile. It, like I just mentioned, affects the way we conduct ourselves both personally and professionally. What we need to do is take a step back from technology – not to allow ourselves to become so engrossed in the digital world. Businesses are built by the people who run them, and not by the technology which runs the people.

It is true that many businesses take advantage of the plethora of tools made possible to them, and it is great that they do so. But when the workplace or home life becomes far too enamored with excessive emails, Tweets, or messages, it draws away from the real connection we’re meant to make as people.

And as people, we’re supposed to be happy, right? Well this study by the University of Michigan reports that Facebook has shown to lead to a decline in overall happiness. It’s no wonder that in a world of instant-gratification and technology overkill we see this type of issue present.

So what about your business, your brand?

The good news is that, if you’re reading this, your business and your brand aren’t in much trouble. This has been meant as more of a warning – a wake up call – for you to realize the potential impact technology has on zombifying you and your work.

Try to make little changes in your daily routine, whether that be through turning your phone off or allowing yourself a quick 15 minute no-tech timeout. I personally use part of my post-workout routine to relax and meditate without my phone or iPod as I stretch. I find that this does tremendous help to get me through the day, feeling refueled and refreshed.

 

Best of luck in timing yourself out from the digital world!

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Invest in Yourself to Build Yourself

Everyone talks about investing – investing in the stock market, in a new car, a new house – and whatever that investment might be, it usually comes with a decent price tag. A big area of investment that not many talk about is investing in yourself. Sure, lots of people joke about shopping sprees being a great way of “investing in yourself”, but that’s not exactly what I advocate.

How do you invest in yourself?

You are invaluable. You are a priceless asset to your own growth. There’s simply no better way to put it: if you avoid investing in yourself, you are avoiding tremendous growth. So how do you invest in yourself? I’ll throw you a bone…

Dress for success

You might be thinking that your thick pinstripe suit looks great with that wide tie and suspenders, but you are very wrong. Dressing yourself according to current fashion trends will only solidify your own self confidence and how others view you. Of course, what others think shouldn’t matter, but holy heck – you’re trying to build your own brand for Pete’s sake! Sadly, what people think of you does matter, at least to an extent.

Check out Combatant Gentlemen for fashion tips and some rather fantastic prices.

Be healthier

Living a healthier life style only enhances your own personal outlook and professional ability. I recently wrote an article about improving your brand by improving your health, and I suggest you check it out! It goes through the whole process by which you can kickstart your health and your brand.

Educate yourself

Websites such as Udemy, Code Academy, General Assembly, and other various online resources can help advance your knowledge and ultimately your career. It doesn’t hurt to dish out a few bucks for one of the top courses out there – and there’s always a discount opportunity awaiting you. There are also other free resources such as Khan Academy and various podcasters who offer a variety of knowledge (check out Entrepreneur on Fire and The Montoya Experiment).

For example, Udemy has a course by Mark Fidelman on Building a Personal Brand, and it’s only $39!

Hire a coach

But it doesn’t have to be formal! You can easily network with other entrepreneurs, some of whom may have had success in an area that you are trying to focus on, and they will be more than glad to lend a helping hand. Getting input from other entrepreneurs in your field is absolutely crucial.

Additionally, hiring a formal coach can run you for your money, but used efficiently and for a handful of goals, you get out what you put in.

Don’t be a cheapskate

Do you like that WordPress theme, but would rather keep looking for a free one than sink in the $19 – $39? Oh wait, it’s $49? And you don’t want to buy it? You must not be expecting to make more than $49 through your personal brand then. I should just stop writing this piece right now.

Or… you could make the decision to budget your branding money and use it to invest in the critical components for your business. Branding can definitely cost you a pretty penny, but these important pieces help build the basis for a successful business and a better brand. Some of these important pieces include (but are not limited to):

  • Website theme
  • Your brand logo
  • Professional headshots
  • Business cards

These are just some of my thoughts on investing in yourself, and using that investment to better both your business and your life. Your money matters, and so by putting it into your brand, you make your brand matter.

 

Best of luck!

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My Biggest Mailing List Mistake

While I wouldn’t consider it a complete failure, I do look back now and realize that my biggest mailing list mistake has cost me a number of subscribers, below-average open/click rates, and most importantly – my confidence.

When I first started this blog – back in December of 2014 – I had one thought in mind: help people become entrepreneurs, or at least become better at being one. I myself have had my share of successes and failures, and so I found that it would be a great opportunity to impart that knowledge onto others. It was a good mission!

And so I began building my blog. The posts, the creative energy, the stimulation of marketing-moxie – it was all so good. I started off by writing about all my ideas – some of which you might remember. Ideas such as my Content Writing Service, which netted me $700 in just one month, or the Gyroscale: Accuracy in Gravity, which led to some great emails.

All of this was an attempt at helping others kickstart their entrepreneurial spirit by offering already-brainstormed ideas for free (initially there was a price, but I ended up changing my mind). But with all this great, informative content, where was I to get my readers? My subscribers?

That’s where things took a turn for the worst. At the forefront, it did not appear that there was any damage done, but little did I know. So I went ahead and began asking around, doing some small self-promotion, nothing too big.

I had already put together an email list of friends and acquaintances who were either entrepreneurs or expressed interest in that area. I also had a list of college emails from people who were involved in business clubs. You can probably guess where this is going.

So I went ahead and took that list and put it to use. I think it was around 100-200 emails in size, I don’t quite recall how many exactly. Many of them bounced, but I’d say that I was left with around 150 (this includes the list of friends I mentioned).

Running my first email campaign was nerve-wrecking. What if I didn’t include enough content? What if it wasn’t good? What if it was spammy? All these what-if’s had my mind racing.What if?

But the analytics from my first email were incredible. I had a 58.1% open rate and a 12.9% click rate. I was ecstatic, on cloud nine, in a state of euphoria. However, that didn’t last for too long.

After about the 5th or 6th mailing, I began to realize that my numbers were dropping. From that golden 58.1%, I had open rates <20%. My click rates were nearly nonexistent. Granted, the list had grown to about 380 subscribers, with a handful of people who unsubscribed.

Now is when it all started to go downhill. The next five mailings saw anywhere from 3-7 unsubscribes, an average open rate of 15%, and a click rate of <1%. What had I done wrong? What?

Let’s backtrack. Just a few paragraphs back, I mentioned that you can probably guess where this is going.

I had already put together an email list of friends and acquaintances who were either entrepreneurs or expressed interest in that area. I also had a list of college emails from people who were involved in business clubs.

This is where I went wrong. This was my biggest mailing list mistake. Sure enough, anyone who was interested in business, finance, or entrepreneurship would have loved my initial emails. Some of those initial readers are still subscribed! But the majority?

If you one day began to receive emails from someone whom you know, and they seem to be sharing genuine advice about a topic of interest, you would most likely keep reading their emails either out of eagerness or out of courtesy – right?

But say this is a couple emails in. Say the eagerness or courtesy has run out. Say that the emails aren’t of interest to you anymore because you never really signed up. Say that I made a mistake.

After taking a moment to compare my initial subscribers (the ones I added) to now the 400+ which had organically subscribed, I noticed that while the initial subscribers had great stats the first few mailings, their interest / traction seemed to trail off. Whereas now, my current list, has a steady open & click rate, and the analytics I have garnered has been much more beneficial.

So now, my golden rule: learn from your mistakes. Of course I could tell you not to add emails which aren’t real organic subscribers, or not to post poor-quality posts. But that’s what everyone will tell you. And everyone has a different experience.

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Learn from your mistakes, plan to make the right changes, and you will grow into a much more successful entrepreneur. But fail to do this – to learn and to plan – you are planning to fail.

 

I wish you the best of luck in your planning.

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