Sidebar 9: Fully Wired, Where Our Online Identity Can Take Us

You have a distinct online identity. An identity built through your interactions with Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and others. This identity knows more about you than your parents do. Your parents know a few of your friends, Facebook knows them all. Your parents know your girlfriend, Google knows everything about her. Your parents might know you went to Vegas last weekend, but Twitter knows everything you did while you were there. (Thank your friends for uploading those pictures…) Your parents know what companies you’ve worked for, LinkedIn knows every colleague you interacted with while in these roles. This might be a little scary to some, but the brave see the potential in this electronic identity to open up a world completely personalized to their needs.

In today’s world, this identity lives entirely online. You open your computer and upload status updates, pictures, and information about yourself to share with friends. When the computer closes or the smartphone is turned off, you leave this identity behind and head into the physical world. But what if this personal identity could be extended into the physical world as well? Let’s think about what a day would look like in this futuristic new world.

Your morning starts with your alarm clock (synced with your Google Calendar) waking you up an hour before your first appointment. As you stumble into the bathroom to take your morning shower, a sequence of events is triggered. First, your coffee pot checks the time of your last Facebook activity from the night before and realizes you only got four hours of sleep. It automatically starts brewing a double dose of dark roast to get you through a rough day. At the same time, a touch screen monitor in the shower loads your schedule, email, and a list of important items due today while simultaneously setting the water temperature to your personal preference of 112 degrees. As you get through your shower, the thermostat, aware that you like the bathroom a toasty 80 degrees when you exit the shower, raises the temperature. Your car, realizing you’ve got to be at work in an hour, begins checking the traffic and construction reports on your route to work. It notices a detour in your route and sends you an email, which you get in the shower, warning you to leave early. As you exit the shower, your closet’s built in weather center checks the weather and learns it is supposed to be a chilly forty degrees today. It automatically rotates the clothing to bring your favorite cold weather attire to the front, keeping in mind your preference for gray suits for client meetings like the one you have today. As you zip your coat, grab your coffee, and head for the car, the smart kitchen checks its inventory versus your standard lineup and automatically places orders for bread and cereal.

Not bad for an hour’s worth of work. And the best part is that this is just a start. As your personal identity continues to grow and more devices gain access to the cloud, there is no limit to the potential customization of the world around us. Imagine every device you interact with being tied to your personal identity and fully customizable to your preferences. Every couch has adjustable lumbar specific to the user. Every TV adjusts volume, brightness, contrast, and content to the user. Windows and fans in every room automatically open and turn on to suit the particular user. Every vehicle adjusts handling characteristics to fit the specific driver. Every restaurant adjusts the menu to fit your culinary preferences. The possibilities are truly endless. So in the end, maybe it’s a good thing that your personal identity is becoming so detailed. I would certainly trust it more than my parents to pick out my clothing for the day.

Motivation 12: There's More To Life Than The Corner Office

"What is the best, most redemptive thing I can do for the greatest number of people?"

While the question is simple, it too often goes unsaid in our daily routines. If there was one message that I walked away from this book repeating, it was this.

There's More To Life Than The Corner Office by Lamar Smith and Tammy Kling is an extremely quick read. Both my wife and I finished it in a single sitting, which is extremely rare. The format of the book is an educational fable. Much in the same way that The Richest Man in Babylon (One of my all time favorites!) delivers a message of frugality and saving, There's More To Life Than The Corner Office uses an entertaining story that forces us all to step back and reexamine our priorities in life.

The story starts with an overworked, slightly bitter protagonist named Patrick Mitchell slogging through a stressful and depressing life. While his career seems to be moving along well, his personal life is in shambles, with a pending divorce staring him in the face. Through a fortunate encounter on-board an airplane, Patrick is introduced to a "business icon" named Al Crafton. After realizing that Patrick is a good person with tremendous potential, Al decides to mentor him and teach him the ways of the world.

Through regular meetings, the two discuss their life stories and Al provides innovative ways to look at the problems that Patrick faces. In many ways, most of us can relate to the situations that Patrick encounters, and I constantly found myself making parallels between his life and mine. The lessons that Al teaches are delivered in thoughtful and insightful stories, many of which derive from his days as an aviator.

My main complaint with the book was the simplicity and predictability with which the messages were delivered. Although the lessons learned were valuable, the story lacked surprises or the true "rising action" that most great fables contain. In addition, the authors write the book in relatively simple linguistics, appropriate for many that read infrequently but not as sophisticated as most business savvy readers would like to see.

Finally, I can endorse this book for the unique method with which the message is delivered. I hope that it begins a new trend of using clever fables to deliver life's lessons rather than the simple lecture style that most business books tend to adhere to.

I also support the key message of maintaining balance in every aspect of our life. When is the last time that you REALLY told your wife that you loved her? How about spending a night on the back porch staring at the stars and thinking about your hopes and dreams? And most importantly, when is the last time that you asked yourself "What is the best, most redemptive thing I can do for the greatest number of people?" before planning out the next few years (or days!) of your life.

Think about it.......

For more on Lamar Smith and his teachings, you can visit his website at

Sidebar 8: My First Billion Dollar Company

I am pleased to announce that I have my first billion dollar company!! By selling a 0.000001% share in my company to an eager young investor, my company's official value finally crossed the billion dollar threshold!

Ok, so I stole the idea from the article below, which you should definitely read. I posted this for two reasons, entertainment and education. The entertainment side speaks for itself, but the education lies in the shear genius of this press release. By thinking outside the box, this company managed to generate a lot of positive buzz for their company. Kudos to them for the effort, and hopefully this will inspire you to think a bit more creatively with your future pursuits.

Enjoy the article!

37 Signals Press Release

Path 19: Copy And Paste (ie. Buying a Franchise): Part 1

Resources On The Topic:

While McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken may get all the credit for the franchise concept, it has actually been around far longer. History shows evidence of franchises in China as far back as 200B.C., though they may have started even earlier. If 2200 years of success isn't enough to convince you of the power of a good franchise, then hopefully this article is.

For starters, because the topic of franchises is so large and important, I plan to break it up over a few postings. The first post today will address the franchise discovery process. Later postings dive even deeper into the franchise topic.

So my guess is that if you stumbled upon this article, you have some pent up desire to head down your own road to financial freedom, but you haven't found that "guarantee" just yet. While there are no guarantees in the world of small business (or big business for that matter!), buying a great franchise is the closest thing out there. You gain the knowhow/processes/marketing support/web presence/name recognition of a successful business, which allows you to focus on one thing: being a small business owner.

When starting the franchise discovery process, there are a TON of resources available to you. A trip to your local library or book store will provide you with a host of magazines such as Entrepreneur Magazine or Fast Company. These magazines do a great job of profiling several successful franchises, telling you about the new rising stars. If you prefer to do the work on your own, there are also magazines such as Business Opportunities Handbook that are nothing more than a listing of franchises. They can be a bit tedious to read through, but provide more than enough information on the available franchises, no matter what niche you are considering.

In addition, a new company called FranchiseMart is spreading around the country and can provide a useful resource for your franchise search. Visit their website and see if they have a location near you. For a small fee, they will work with you to find a franchise that fits your needs.

These resources serve as a great starting point for understanding what is available, but the next step is even more critical. You need to spend some time answering the following questions and use them as a guide to selecting the right franchise for YOU:

1) How Much Money Am I Willing to Spend Upfront? Depending on your resources, some franchises may be out of the question right away.

2) How Many Hours Per Week Do I Want To Spend Working?
While being a small business owner is rewarding, it can actually become more time consuming than a normal 9-5 if you aren't careful.

3) What Does My Geographic Area Need? While a chain like Pak Mail is very highly regarded, you need to consider whether or not there is enough local business to support it.

4) What Competitors Are Out There?
To use Pak Mail as an example again, if your region already has a FedEx, UPS, and DHL, then you may struggle to pull customers away.

5) What Will I Enjoy Doing?
One of my favorite franchises is Little Jimmy's Italian Ices. Operating a snow cone cart outside on sunny days is hardly working in my book. This is important to consider.

6) What Is My Final Goal?
Do you want to run this business for life? Do you want to establish a business that you can sell to someone else for profit? You need to understand your long term goals before you take the plunge.

This should be enough to get you started. Use the tools and questions above to narrow down your options. In future articles we will discuss the franchise management process in a bit more detail.

Good Luck!

Keys to Success:

Read Up! There is a ton of material on the subject.

Take Your Time. Selecting the right franchise for YOU is critical.

Ask For Help. Once you've chosen the franchise for you, don't hesitate to contact the owners of existing franchises to ask questions. In most cases, they will be glad to help.

Entretool 5: How I Made My Millions

At Upward Lifestyle, we believe that everyone has a million dollar idea hiding deep within them. At some point in our lives, all of us have said, "You know what would be a great business?", but unfortunately few of us follow through on those ideas. When I stumbled upon the show "How I Made My Millions" on CNBC, I saw it as the ultimate inspiration, and I think you will too.

For starters, you can find the full version of the show on CNBC's website. The host, David Faber walks through several amazing stories of people who took a simple idea and grew it into a remarkable business. Some of the cool companies include Burt's Bees, 1-800 Flowers, and SuperPretzel. While I won't ruin the details of the show for you (You should watch it ASAP!), I do want to walk through my quick and dirty analysis of the unique cases presented. I think there are a few similarities that all the companies shared, and we should be mindful of these as we wander down the road to our alternative career.

Here are my thoughts on the common themes between the success stories:

1) No Groundbreaking Inventions: Most of us have this misconception that we need a groundbreaking idea in order to start a successful company. This show proves that taking products that already exist in the market and tweaking them slightly can be enough to dominate the competition if marketed properly. "The Headblade" is the perfect example of this. Todd Greene was going bald and was frustrated by the difficulty of using conventional razors on his head. By simply tweaking an existing razor to fit his hand better, he cornered the market for head shaving devices. Check out his website at

2) Minimal Startup Costs: If money is your worry, look no further than Kernel Seasons for motivation. By mixing up a few different popcorn seasoning flavors in his kitchen and selling them to the local movie theater, Brian Taylor created a whole new market for gourmet sprinkle-on popcorn seasonings. The lesson here, poor people can start companies too!

3) A Good Website is Critical: In order to judge the credibility of your business, most customers will head to your website. And as they say in business, first impressions are EVERYTHING.

4) You Don't Need an MBA:
While some business knowledge may be useful, most of the daring entrepreneurs on this show lacked high level educations. The one common denominator though, all of them spent extensive time studying the things necessary for their success, such as web design and marketing.

5) It Takes Time: None of these millionaires were overnight success stories. They developed a concept, refined it, marketed it, and slowly grew their business. Quitting your job to start a business is a dangerous proposition and a good way to go broke. Start small and then as your side business grows, look for the right point to exit your old job, but don't jump off the ship without the raft........

Enough of my ramblings, head on over to CNBC, watch the show for yourself and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Entretool 4:

As promised, we proceed with our entretools section. These are essential tools to help you get your entrepreneurial dreams off the ground. We have moved through two great books, The Dip & The Four Hour Work Week and a great podcast called Internet Business Mastery. If you haven't checked them out by now, I strongly advise you do so.

For this posting, we will move into one of my favorite online tools, As we discussed in several past postings, every business endeavor, regardless of the field, must have a web presence, and is without a doubt the easiest way to get that web presence in place, RIGHT NOW.

The site starts with an easy user interface that anyone can use. It also eliminates the hassle of registering a domain name and paying for hosting. handles all of these tasks for you. The true beauty of this site is that it can serve as the ultimate spring board to your success. While many of us struggle to get started for a variety of reasons, a few minutes setting up a website can make you realize that the road ahead of you isn't nearly as challenging as you once thought.

So what can you do on the site? Well it starts with an incredible array of clean and classy templates. They look far more professional than other free templates you would find in programs like Microsoft Publisher. Pick a template that fits your theme and get rolling. From there, you can set up your home page, info pages, forums, a blog, merchandise order pages, and a huge variety of other pages to meet all of your customer needs. If you are just getting started, focus your efforts on a professional looking homepage. Review your competitor's pages for ideas. At a bare minimum, you will want a brief description of your company and some great looking graphics.

Once your site is up and running, you can continue to add pages that fit your company's needs. I would highly recommend a blog to update your customers with your latest products or offerings and for many businesses, a forum is also a great way to encourage repeat visitors. Finally, most businesses will eventually add a product sales page to distribute your products to your customers.

It's that easy. With less than a half hour of work, you can have a high quality, professional site up and running. can allow you to establish a presence online and start you down your path to entrepreneurial success.

Good Luck!

Sidebar 7: Lots of Ideas Leads to Great Ideas

Did you know that Thomas Edison's name is listed on 1,093 United States patents? And how many of those great inventions can you name? The phonograph? The lightbulb? (kind of...) Let me tell you something, a good portion of those other thousand ideas were not so meaningful. You can read about all of the inventions here, but I wouldn't waste your time.

So what is the lesson of the story? Not every idea is a home run, but the more you have, the more likely you will find a winner. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you simply can't afford to ignore interesting ideas that pop into your head.

Your lesson for today is to pick out a small pocket size notebook and take it with you EVERYWHERE! You will be amazed how many ideas pop into your head throughout the course of a day that you simply ignore. This notebook is used to record every these ideas and give you the chance to filter through them later, when you are in an entrepreneurial mood.

I want to give you one more tidbit of motivation. Have you ever heard the name Charles Goodyear? I am guessing that at least the second part of his name sounds familiar. That's right, he founded Goodyear Rubber Company and is credited with inventing the vulcanization process that makes rubber usable. Goodyear was actually a bit nutty. He spent a good portion of his adult life obsessing over rubber and ways to improve it. You see, the problem with rubber in its natural state is that it is extremely temperature sensitive. As the heat rises, rubber changes from its useful, springy state into a globby, sticky mess. This makes it useless for most applications. Goodyear tried every additive he could think of to improve rubber's characteristics, to no avail. Luckily enough for him, he left a small piece of his rubber sitting next to the stove one day. As the material cooked, it's properties amazingly changed, and the vulcanization process was discovered. While the invention was a bit lucky, Goodyear was observant enough to notice the change, and capitalized on it.

How many times have you stumbled upon a great idea and simply let it pass? Well not any more. Starting today, you can document these ideas and eventually, you will find your home run, and once you do, head over to our Inventing and Reinventing posts to find out how to bring your idea to life.

Good Luck!

Motivation 11: Your True Hourly Wage

Do you want real motivation to leave your job and get to work on your own business? If the cars, houses, vacations, and freedom haven't yet motivated you, then I am certain that this posting will. The activity that I am about to describe below is truly eye-opening.

Before we get into the details of the exercise, let me first give credit where credit is due. One of my FAVORITE all time books on money, Your Money or Your Life presents a ton of unique perspectives on careers and money, but none resonated with me the way that this exercise did. I would highly recommend clicking on the hyperlink above and picking up the book for yourself, but if nothing else, at least follow this exercise as directed below and you will be SHOCKED at the results.

The exercise is called "Calculating Your True Hourly Wage". It is designed to help you realize that the great "career path" you are currently heading down may not be as great as you imagined. Let's start with your current "hourly" wage. For the purpose of this example, I am going to use $20/hour. This is certainly considered a respectable wage in our society, but we are about to see just how deceiving (And disappointing!) that number really is. For the rest of the exercise, we will represent this hourly wage as a simple ratio as shown in the image below.
Makes sense so far, right? For an eight hour day, your employer pays you $160. Well this is where the exercise gets interesting. Now we are going to apply some modifiers to the top and bottom of this ratio to account for the conditions of the real world.

Let's start with the top. That $160 sounds nice until you start to adjust for taxes, lunch, fuel, car depreciation, and various supplies such as clothes, briefcases, etc. The numbers below are just examples, you should try and come up with your own numbers. In the example below, that daily take home pay quickly drops to $101.

Now let's move to the bottom of the ratio. Again, the 8 hours that your company pays you for is actually a much larger number when you add in your commute, your lunch break, your prep time prior to work, and finally your decompression (think Miller Lite and Seinfeld reruns) after a rough day at work. This example works out something like this:
Now with the top and bottom modified, let's revisit that equation again......
Ouch. No more twenty dollars per hour for you! As it turns out, the true reward for your toils in the office/restaurant/factory is far less than you realized. Kind of depressing isn't it?


It isn't supposed to be depressing, it is supposed to be liberating, motivating, and EXCITING! If you leave your job, you won't be leaving nearly as much behind as you thought! So what are you waiting for? Scroll through the list of alternate career paths on the right of the page and find the one that fits you. After all, what have you got to lose (other than that 9 measly bucks an hour?)?

Path 18: Following the Herd (ie. Technical Analysis)

Resources On The Topic:
Technical Analysis For Dummies by Barbara Rockefeller
Chart Your Way To Profits by Tim Knight
Yahoo Finance
Rob Black's Website and Podcast

When I say the word "lemmings", what comes to mind? Most of us think of a herd of lemmings following their leader off a cliff to a horrible mass suicide. While the legend of the lemming is pure fiction, the lessons learned apply extremely well to human nature. In fact, a whole genre of investment strategies have been born by studying this "herd mentality". That genre is known as Technical Analysis. We discussed Value Investing (aka fundamental analysis) in a previous posting, and now we will look at it's evil brother.

For starters, let's briefly discuss the herd mentality and talk about a case study, the recent housing collapse. Home prices escalated at an utterly unsustainable rate over the past few years, constantly luring in more and more investors. Many people who rode this wave up made millions as long as they were smart enough to jump out of the game before it all came crashing down. Technical analysis aims to use mathematical methods to look for these waves in the stock market. If a wave can be identified, investors can hop in, ride the wave up, and (HOPEFULLY!) hop out before it all comes crashing down.

While this posting is far too brief to dive into the full details of technical analysis, let's hit the basic concept:

These waves (known as trends) often occur in similar, repeatable patterns, which can be manipulated for financial gain.

Books such as Technical Analysis For Dummies do a great job of introducing these various trends, discussing their success rates, and helping you use the patterns to trade more effectively. If done properly, you will learn when to enter, how to set limits for your trades, and finally, when to exit in order to maximize your gains and minimize your risk of getting caught in a wave that's crashing down.

So how do you get started down this path to prosperity? Well this path really requires a LOT of studying. The most popular chart patterns take some serious skill to detect, so your best bet is to start by jamming your head into one of the resources above. After some time reading, your next move is to head over to Yahoo Finance. This site is a fantastic resource for studying and tracking stocks. They have a ton of powerful charting tools to help you easily spot and identify trends. You can add trending tools such as Bollinger Bands, Moving Averages, and MACD (Moving Average Convergence-Divergence). With a little knowledge of common trends and Yahoo Finance's powerful charting software, you can tear through a ton of stocks in a hurry until you find some that fit your trend criteria.
Now that you have found some charts that appear to be "trending", it is time to take the next steps.

1) Determine the right point to make an entry, and do it.
2) Set a trailing stop, basically an automatic selling point that protects against quick and unexpected reversals.
3) Follow the stock religiously, and when your selling rules are met, EXIT!

In the end, the true beauty of charting is that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more people that study charting, the more times the patterns fulfill their expected outcomes. Of course, this also means that you will be competing against some brilliant mathematical minds, so set your rules, stick to them, and suppress any emotional responses. You may miss some big runs, but you will also be protected against those devastating drops. The key is to run with the lemmings, but do everything you can to jump out of line right before that cliff......

So what are you waiting for? Pick up a book, listen to Rob Black's podcast, and set up a fake portfolio on Yahoo Finance. You'll be talking the technical analysis talk and walking the technical analysis walk in no time!

Good Luck!

Keys to Success:

You will be competing with some great minds, so don't bring a knife to a knowledge gunfight.
Set Rules and Stick to Them.
There are a ton of different techniques, so pick one you like and follow it religiously.
Don't Be Afraid To Miss The Tail End Of a Run Up.
Just ask any homeowner who got burned in the housing collapse and they will tell you how painful it can be. Better to jump out too early than too late.
Ask For Help
. As great as Yahoo is, finding great trending stocks is not easy. Listen to podcasts, watch TV shows, and count on some others to help you find the big winners.

Entretool 3: The 4 Hour Work Week

Do you remember the famous quote from The Matrix?

"You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. "

In my opinion, reading The 4 Hour Work Week is the same as taking the red pill. Once you've read it, you will NEVER be able to return to your old life. Why? Most simply, the author has an uncanny ability to distort your image of the dream life. Where you previously fantasized about a big house and nice car, Ferriss will have you dreaming of a life without borders, filled with travel, unique experiences, and absolutely nothing holding you down.

The book's author, Timothy Ferriss is, among other things, an entrepreneurial genius. He developed a nutrition supplement and an incredibly clever system to market, sell, and distribute his product online with little to no effort. This system allowed him to generate a healthy income with a limited time commitment. He shares this simple money making program and all of it's secrets with his readers.

As if this system isn't enough to encourage you to pick up the book (This is an entrepreneurial website after all!), then the other concepts of the book will definitely draw you in. Timothy introduces and explains the concept of "The New Rich." This is an entirely new class of wealthy individuals, with goals that differ greatly from those of past generations. He rips apart the old traditions of owning multiple high price (and high maintenance!) homes in this country, in favor of a free lifestyle with "mini-retirements" in various locations around the world. These retirements of several months allow you to fully immerse yourself in different cultures. In Ferriss' case, he chose Germany, China, and Latin America. Leaving behind all of his worldly possessions, he traveled with the goal of immersing himself in the culture, taking in all of the wonderful things that these other countries had to share, and evolving as a person because of it.

In the end, this book is THE SINGLE BEST entrepreneurial motivator that I have ever read. While many books help encourage you to get up and get to work, none of them FORCE you to leave the security blanket of your current job the way that this one does. Mini-retirements are simply not possible without setting up a successful business venture and cutting the strings to your old career. Only then, can you truly experience the wonderful cultural revolution that is The 4 Hour Work Week!

So what are you waiting for? Go get the book right now!