Successful selling from your website, requires a plan of action, so that you know what you’re trying to do with each advert, each piece of content, each image, video, graphic.
Effectively it gives you a strategy, an aim for everything you’re doing, you have direction and structure and purpose.
Firstly, you’ve got to get people on to your website, from wherever they currently are, whether that be searching on Google, socialising on Facebook, browsing imagery on Instagram, or consuming content on other websites.
So the question becomes, how do you get people who are minding their own business or searching for something, to want to click through to your website, instead of continuing to do what they’re doing?
Well, first you have to be in the same location your prospects attention is focused on. If they’re on Google, searching for information, services or products, you’ve got to be there either through Search Engine Optimisation efforts, or Pay Per Click advertising. You need to be on the first page ideally, because most searches don’t extend beyond the first page.
If they’re on social media, you also need to have a presence there, either in the same groups, or by delivering content that they find interesting, or via paid adverts.
Secondly, you need to get “noticed”, this means standing out from the crowd in some way, either with eye-catching graphics or attention-grabbing words or copy.
Once you have them on your site, you must provide what you promised them on your adverts or copy. Don’t mislead them, because they will be annoyed and disappointed and this isn’t good for your brand reputation. Trust takes time to build and seconds to destroy.
Include information that is entertaining, informative, insightful and adds value to the person consuming it.
Also make sure this content is relevant to what you’re selling. No point providing cute pet videos if your customer is looking for business solutions.
There is no point getting random traffic to your site, you want people who are going to benefit from your services/products, and only them. So keep it relevant to your target market from initial content on social media or in search results through to your website pages.
Finally you need to have a “call to action”, either getting them to sign up to your newsletter, so you can keep providing value and pitch your service/products, or have a buy now option, where they can purchase directly from you straight away.
Test different approaches to see what works best for you, but remember people buy based on TRUST, COMPETENCY, CONVENIENCE, RELIABILITY, QUALITY and VALUE FOR MONEY. Selling on the internet is the same as selling face to face, in this respect.
Getting visitors to opt-in to your mailing list (via your website) provides a great way of directly communicating with them at a later time, in fact it should be one of your on-line marketing priorities. Imagine if you lost your Facebook page or Twitter account (and it can happen), how would you contact your audience?
Having a list of email subscribers keeps control in your own hands, rather than relying on a third party platform, and gives you a direct path to people that, by subscribing to your list, have qualified themselves as being interested in what you have to say. If they arrive on your site, read a little and leave you have nothing. As the old adage goes “the money is in the (email) list” and this is unlikely to change any time soon.
What you’ve first got to think about is that, from your visitors point of view, why would they want give you their email address? They usually won’t want to be contacted unless you have something interesting or useful to say or offer.
If you think you can simply add an opt-in form to your site and people will immediately fall over themselves to sign-up, then you’re sadly, misguided. Try it for yourself and see what happens. There needs to be something else in place to get that all important email address, and incentives are a great start.
So you’ve got to give visitors some incentive, provide some benefit to them in return for their email address. They have to want to get communication from you for some perceived advantage. Generally, people don’t like to be sold to, so you need to get over to them that you’re looking to help them to either solve a problem or achieve a goal rather than sell them something, and communicating the benefit of your offer is vital if you’re to succeed. Answer the question “What benefit is in it for them”.
Benefits can be short-lived, and particularly relevant to one piece of content (content upgrade) or could be more long term focused and offer ongoing value. If you capture an email because of a content upgrade you should look to keep them as a long term subscriber by having a strategy in place to provide ongoing value and support, otherwise they will simply opt-out straight away. Check out my in-depth list of opt-in incentive ideas.
Sell the benefits – Use wording within your opt-in form that sells the benefit of this incentive to your visitor. “Increase productivity with my 5 efficiency hacks” or “5 efficiency hacks that will increase productivity”, obviously make it relevant to your particular incentive, answer the question. “Why do my visitors need this incentive?”
Don’t promise something you can’t produce or provide and never ever try to mislead subscriber’s. Be honest, and reliable at all times. Once you break trust it is unlikely, unless you have history with them, that they will ever forgive you, and why should they? Check the section about credibility, capability and trustworthiness (below), for more information.
Offsetting the risk for subscribers
If I am the visitor on a new website I consider the risk reward balance of becoming a subscriber. Asking myself “If I give this person my email address can I opt-out if I change my mind?” So adding some text to your opt-in form saying that subscribers can opt-out easily at any time, and will not be pestered thereafter, will help to reduce this concern.
The main fear for many visitors, that prevents them from subscribing, is being swamped with spam emails that don’t offer any value to them and that become a pain to get rid of. Knowing they can click a button and never see your mail again is a big risk reducer. “One click to unsubscribe at any time – guaranteed!”.
Another concern is email addresses being sold onto third parties without the subscribers permission, and this should never happen, but sadly does. Make sure you state that there is no risk of this happening if they sign up with you. “We will never spam you” or “We will never share your email address with anyone else” or a combination of the two will help.
Adding extra value
When a visitor lands on your page they probably don’t know you, they don’t particularly care about you and your brand, or want to build a relationship with you, what they want is to get some benefit from you and your site. It’s your job to answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” The benefit should be so good they just can’t resist to sign up. The promise of insider information, better quality bonus information, discounts, rebates etc. and they’ll get that exclusively if they sign up.
This content can be hidden on your site, free from being indexed like your other content, on a page rather than that a post so it doesn’t appear in the blogroll. There are a number of WordPress plugins that will help you keep this content off your sitemap or navigation. Contact me for more information about this.
Other considerations for getting email opt-in’s are:
Getting people to see your page in the first place is of paramount importance, but the traffic volume alone is no good, you need traffic that is interested in your offer, so targeted traffic is what counts. Laser focus your marketing messages to speak to people who are interested in your niche and only them. Check this post for more information.
Once they arrive on your site, you need them to stay around long enough to see your opt-in box, so having content that will keep them engaged and on your site long enough to get the chance to opt-in is another big part of the jigsaw.
There needs to be some demonstration of value in your content that makes the visitor think, “I like this enough to sign up”. Think about it, if the content on a site you visit is not engaging or of high quality or relevance, are you going to sign up for their email newsletter?
You need to be thinking “I can get some value from this person” to even consider signing up. There’s got to be an interest from the visitor in the subject matter, and then they have got to like your take on that subject matter to want to stay around and hear more from you.
Placement of opt-in
You should consider placement of your opt-in form, do you put it in the sidebar, and if so at the top, middle or bottom? In the post itself, and again where is best? There is no definitive answer to this, the best advice is to test for yourself and see what works best for your audience. Some ideas for placement testing include:
Sidebar – top, middle, or bottom separately and altogether,
within the post itself – above the fold or bottom of post or both
It’s great to include an opt-in form on both the “homepage” and “about us” pages, and again test multiple locations and see what works for you.
Make it stand out
As well as considering the location, it’s important, wherever you place your opt-in form, to make sure it stands out and is noticed. Use the rule of contrast, and make your form the opposite colour to the rest of your website. Visitor’s must be drawn to your opt-in form and the human brain is hard-wired to notice things that don’t match the rest of the environment, that stand out.
Number of fields
Think about how many fields you’re asking the visitor to fill in – my testing shows the fewer fields the visitor has to complete the more subscribers you will get. On the flip side I have seen research that suggests converting subscribers to paying customers (further down the sales funnel) tends to be better from leads who originally opted-in via forms with more fields, so as always test variations and see what works for you.
Credible, capable and trustworthy
Credibility, although last to be discussed here, is without doubt the most important element you need to sell anything online. If you can prove you know what you’re talking about, you know your niche, your product or service, you’re three quarters of the way to achieving online success.
Credibility builds trust, and gives your audience confidence you can deliver the results they are looking for. Credibility comes in the form of customer testimonials and reviews, case studies, demonstrations, free samples, free trial periods, social media following and interaction, before and after photos, published income statements, in fact anything that shows you can do what you say you can do, and the better you can demonstrate this the easier selling will be. Think of why you shop at Amazon (for instance), is it because of their stunning website design, the colour of their sidebars or footers?
You buy from Amazon, because you trust them, you know they can deliver what they say they will, and when they say they will, you can check out product reviews, you can return it if you’re not happy with it when it arrives. If I didn’t say it before “Credibility is key”.
There needs to be so much more in place to get subscribers onto your email list than just having an opt-in form on your site. Without subscribers, selling online, while not impossible, is much more difficult for some type of businesses. This varies depending on the type of niche you are involved in of course, my photography studio business sells lots of experience vouchers online without needing to get subscribers (although I still collect the emails of visitors to send promotional offers to), but this seems to be very different for none physical businesses that sell things like digital products and solutions, where getting subscribers is much more important in the sales process.
Below is a list of elements you will need to get visitor’s email addresses.
You’ve got to get targeted traffic to your site in the first place,
Provide good relevant content to engage your visitors and keep them hanging around, also the more of this content there is and the longer you have been around helps in the perception of credibility
Have an opt-in form generator such as Thrive Leads to capture your visitor’s email address and an auto responder such as Mailchimp or Aweber to deliver the relevant incentive promised,
An opt-in incentive and the wording used to sell the incentive to your visitors. Also think about an ongoing strategy for offering continuing value that requires staying subscribed to get access to it. (list of ideas here)
Risk reducers – using reassurances such as:
We will never spam you
We will never share your email address
You can opt-out with one click at any time, but please give us a try
Positioning of the opt-in box:
On the home page
Within post above fold and end of post
On the “About us” page
In the sidebar
Don’t overdo it though, sometimes less is best.
Number of fields the visitor has to fill in – keep to a minimum.
Make sure your opt-in box stands out, use the rule of contrast when deciding what colour to use, which involves looking at the predominate colour of your website and picking the colour opposite on the colour wheel
Most importantly – being perceived as credible, capable and trustworthy – trust elements, money back guarantees, free trial periods, income reports, testimonials, review, case studies, list of major brands you have done work for, TV appearances etc. Without credibility, I doubt having all the other elements in place would lead to much success, it is the single most important ingredient of selling online, and off-line for that matter. If you were to consider what to spend most time on improving, it should be this. As I said earlier, I sell lots of photo experience vouchers online, and the main reason for this undoubtedly being seen as credible, capable and trustworthy.
Once you have all the elements, described in the preceding paragraphs, in place you have a fighting chance. Test all of the variables to see which is more effective with your audience, it’s an on-going process of testing, and re-testing. There is no magic bullet, and what works for one doesn’t guarantee will work for someone else. Don’t assume you know best either, use your hunch as a starting point and test against it.
Just a word of warning regarding testing. Don’t change more than one element at a time and make sure you are getting sufficient volume to make the results meaningful. This will be hard when starting off, because you will obviously not have the volume of visitors, but online success is not achieved overnight, and measuring performance from the start is what will give you an edge over other newcomers, and ensure you have taken a solid first step.
It’s all very well getting lots of traffic onto your website, but if it’s not targeted traffic, then you’re not going to earn much money from all those visitors. If you’re selling dog collars for instance and getting people to your website who are looking for holidays, then all that will happen is those visitors will bounce off your site and go elsewhere. So think laser focused targeting for all your marketing messages. Appeal to prospects that actually want what you have to offer. Find out who they are and where they hang out, and deliver your message to them and only them. To test the depth of knowledge you need to have a about your audience, can you answer these questions?
Who is your ideal reader/visitor
What do they look like, talk about, care about, hate, fear, desire
Who do they hang out with, talk to, argue with, ideolise, want to be
Where do they hang out online, in person, want to go, not want to go
What products, brands, personas, do they love and hate
How do they talk, formally, passionately, analytically
What lingo do they use (ie keywords)
Why are they coming to you?
Why should they listen to you instead of everyone else
What problems are they looking to solve
Where to find your audience
Does your audience frequent Facebook or Twitter. Do they love to spend time on Youtube surfing the “How to…” videos in your niche? Would it be more productive to target them via the major search engines such as Google and Bing? If so then you would need to consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and getting your site up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. If you want to get yourself in front of your audience fast, then Pay Per Click (PPC) might be the way to go. Think very carefully about your acquisition strategy because getting it wrong can cost time, effort and money. To summarise:
Optimise your site to make it search engine friendly,
Use PPC – make sure you know what you’re doing with this method,
Participate in forums,
Get active in Facebook groups,
Network on Facebook and Twitter,
Guest post on blogs in your niche (good for reputation, traffic and SEO),
Attend events and conferences – great off-line method,
Link out to other valuable resources/sites.
Getting yourself a home
Don’t rely on making your main internet home Facebook or Twitter, because although these are great platforms to engage with your audience, relying solely on these could wipe your business out overnight should these platforms decide to change the rules, as many software companies have found to their costs. For instance Shortstack started off providing engaging Facebook competitions until Facebook decided to cut them out and do it for themselves and although Shortstack have evolved away from Facebook to some degree, they recently wrote a blog post detailing their acknowledgement of the mistake of over-reliance on a third party to support their business.
I now use WordPress for all my sites, it’s free to use (except for the hosting of course if you’re using a self hosting option), comes with lots of plugins to add functionality to the site, is loved by Google and is ideal for SEO and has tons of free themes to make it look original. Most of the modern themes are also mobile responsive which is a must these days for both ranking and user experience.
Building relationships – Email Marketing
Provide Great Content
Once you get targeted audience to your website, you need to have something interesting, useful, unique and most of all, helpful for them to read, look at and engage with. Look to help them with some problem they have or to achieve something they want to achieve. Great content should:
Be valuable (don’t waste peoples time)
Be delivered in multiple formats if possible
Be as short as possible but no shorter
Solve problems by providing solutions
Attract an audience
Above all – be results oriented.
To do this you must understand their wants and needs. Use surveys, interact with them via email and find out their pain.
Tips about Content generation
Think about what someone in your niche is going to need to follow in your footsteps. Think about your progression and map this out for your audience if they are trying to replicate you.
Use easy to remember forwarding URLs for certain topics to make them easier for your audience to memorise, these can be purchased as domain names and pointed to any page on your site. Promote this easy to remember URL in your marketing messages.
Use the medium that best suites your site. Look what the competition are using and do it differently and better.
know the product – be a sales agent for it, if you haven’t used it and found it useful don’t try to sell it. Become a resource of information for using that product. Give your audience tips and tricks for getting the best from it. Show the product being used, “un-boxing the product” is a popular type of video content. Ask yourself “Can I trust the product to be good for my audience?”. Become a source of information for that product. “How to….” videos and articles, show you using it for your own purposes, helpful tips and advice, and reviews
know what you want your audience to achieve by using your website what is their goal, then design a road map to help them achieve that goal, show them how using your products will help them get to their goal.
Build deep relationships with your subscribers. The deeper the relationship the shorter the pitch required. Speed up the building of relationships by:
Be personable – easier to connect. Use video and podcasts,
Tell stories and entertain,
Random Acts Of Kindness – reply to comments, give them a special deal, put comments on their blog,
Build trust first:
Give lots away for free, add value without charging. If your seen as a giver people more likely to respond positively,
Get others to recommend you
If you don’t currently use the product yourself, get in contact with the owner of the product and ask some questions about the product and write a post about the conversation.
Get a special deal just for your audience, or give a rebate (using part of your affiliate earnings) back to the purchaser if they go through your affiliate link.
Create an epic post about the product. A ONE Stop shop resource,
Multiple Youtube videos about different aspect of using the product,
Hold a webinar for the product,
Publish a webinar replay – Be sure to record your live webinar so that you can embed it on your website as a replay for those who didn’t watch it live, and those who did watch it live but want to get the information again,
Use an indirect social push – link to a post or a resource that will engage people beforehand about the product or a video about it, not directly to an affiliate link
Keep track of your click through’s – use pretty links or crazy egg,
Indirect email list promotion – For me, I like to indirectly promote on my email list – like I do with social media – it’s all about giving people as much high-value content as possible, and on the email, it’s exactly the same. I don’t directly promote anything on my email list – and if there are any links in my emails they all point back to my blog,
Indirect promotion on other people’s sites,
Be honest and disclose that they are affiliate links,
Thank people in advance for going through your affiliate links,
Review and compare products of the same type,
Focus on how it will help your audience (benefits not features),
Believe in your recommendations,
If it doesn’t work try another offer,
Test, test and test again,
Make your own product instead,
Be patient. Trust is built over time,
Provide a resource page full of all your affiliate products and links,
Offer a bonus
Extra content (i.e. extra skins for a opt-in box)
Discount price, rebates,
Tips and tricks document included,
How to use document included.
Email Sign ups
Encourage visitors to opt-in to your email list so that you can keep in touch with them and continue to help. You need to have an opt-in box on your website to do this. I have them dotted around my site in the sidebar and footer of most of the posts. I encourage you to do the same. Only ever provide great content and assistance, don’t ever spam them with endless sales pitches. We all hate that, don’t we?
You can use what are known in the trade as opt-in bribes to encourage subscriptions. An opt-in bride is something of value that the visitor has to exchange their email address for. This could include:
Tips and tricks information
A white paper
A resource list
In fact anything that adds value, and is perceived as being valuable and relevant to your visitor. If they don’t want it, they won’t sign up. If they do sign up always make it really easy to unsubscribe from your list as a matter of courtesy.
Note: If you sign up for our newsletter, feel free to respond to any of the emails we send you asking for our “Lead Magnet List” which will give you more ideas for what to use as Lead Magnets.
Have something to sell
Ultimately we are looking to build a business from our online endeavours, so we need something to sell. Something that will help our audience, something that gives more in value than it asks for in payment. Think of saving your audience time, effort, money wherever possible. Look to help them make money or solve some problem or pain they want to remove from their lives.
You can look to sell your own products or be an Affiliate and sell other people’s products. There are literally thousands of such products available to sell from physical products, services to digital products and everything in between.
If you’re starting out in online marketing, it is probably wiser to sharpen your marketing skills before investing a great deal of your resources in developing your own products, and Affiliate Marketing is an ideal option. Products can be found via networks such as Clickbank, Commission Junction, Amazon and JVZoo to name but a few.
summary of where to find products to sell
Amazon affiliates / associates but look for high value products,
Odigger.com or offervault.com,
Commission junction you can be an affiliate or sell your product through them,
Think about what you use yourself,
Directly approach the company yourself, ask if they do affiliate program,
Forums and ask for ideas to the likes of web warrior forum and digital point forum,
If you cant find a product make one yourself.
Where to use affiliate links
Put affiliate links in an Ebook
Put affiliate links within content section and as many natural links as possible, without overdoing it. Not everyone will read the full article
Create own advertisements, use text widgets to rotate text links,
Affiliate links in your images.
Keep the conversion going
Keep providing help to your audience, otherwise they will move on and leave you behind. If you’re only looking to service a narrow band of people at a certain stage in their development and don’t intend to offer support for them later, than that’s fine as long as you know how to keep the flow of new recruits coming to your website. Have a plan and work the plan.
To be truly successful in Affiliate Marketing you need to build an audience that keeps coming back to you for more, I’ve heard it described as building a tribe or engaged community, even raving fans – whatever you want to label it, it’s about engaging on a regular basis and building a relationship with them. In order to achieve this you must provide great, unique, valuable, and actionable content that your audience needs and wants. This should be your major focus. Without an audience you can’t hope to build an affiliate business.
If you’re looking at doing it as a sideline, or full time business you will probably want or need to earn money from it by selling something. I prefer to use a method that adds value and genuinely helps people. I love to talk about Marketing and Business so write about it a lot. I have to make a living but have decided to only sell products that are relevant to my audience, I would be proud to have developed myself, and that are of genuine use. If I don’t like it I won’t try to sell it.
If you’re getting into affiliate marketing then pick a niche you are passionate to write about, otherwise you won’t enjoy it and will likely give up if the going is tough. Don’t do it just to make money, do it to help others. The side effect of adding more and more value is you tend to make more and more money.
If you’re business is not currently online, you’re potentially missing out on lots of business, which is going straight to your competitors.
Is business good? Well it could be so much better with an online presence.
My photography business survives without any passing trade, it’s all done online and of course word of mouth.
It’s not enough to just have a social media profile business page. What if it goes away or get’s hacked. What you need is your own website, a based from which to grow from, that’s your own.
Next you need to be found in search results.
You can still use your social media channels, if you have them, but your website and search is a whole new marketing channel.
Staying as you are is of course an option, after all you’re in your comfort zone. But remember if you do what you have always done, you’ll likely get what you’ve always got. Well that’s not entirely true, because more and more business is being conducted online these days.
You’ve got to be where your potential clients are hanging out. This is online, sure, on social media, but also on Google search. People search for things on Google and other search engines. You have got to be there to be found and you won’t be via Facebook or Instagram.
Appearing in search means..
You need a website (hosting)
You need to find out what you prospective customers are searching for (keyword research)
You need to have your site optimised for search results (SEO)
You need to fill in the gap between going live and being found in search, through advertising via PPC (Google Adwords)
You can convince yourself that you’re okay with the way things are, that you can manage without the need to go online, but really you’re ignoring all the potential business you’re giving up.
Why settle for okay when things could be great with more business coming through the door?
It’s easy to make excuses, after all they make us feel better about dealing with things as they are.
Here at Get Lasting Results, we call them coping excuses, and while they are justifications for dealing with our current behaviours and allow us to feel better about the way the land currently lays, we can all do better and demand more.
Once you deal with the discomfort of making the initial transition online, you’re there. After the initial effort it gets easier, it becomes part of your normal work routine.
In fact we can hold your hand throughout the whole process, and do it for you, from hosting, keyword research, SEO to PPC.
For more information follow this link (sign up), fill in your email and we’ll get the conversation started.
Perceive reality as it is, you wouldn’t recognise it
Your brain takes in info and sifts through it to find patterns and uses it to create your reality
It’s not about what’s hitting your eyes, it’s your brains interpretation
Perception has less to do with outside world and more to do with what’s going on inside the brain
The brain is completely cut off from the direct senses
Sound, vision, hearing, smell and taste is all the same stuff in the head
Photons of light or sound waves are getting converted into electro chemical signals that travel through millions of brain cells, known as neurons that send electrical pulses to other neurons. This is what creates our sense of reality.
The brain turns it into something meaningful by sifting through a huge stream of incoming data and finds patterns which are assembled into our reality
The result of millions of years of evolution
Seems effortless and instantaneous
When we see, many different systems have to work together. To see we use all the other senses to build a picture of the world around us, sight is only one part of that. We wouldn’t be able to see if we couldn’t touch for instance
Example – A blind man, who becomes sighted later is still unable to process the data, as the brain requires rewiring to deal with processing the visual data, something that it has never done before, so it’s like starting from scratch. The parts of his brain that would have dealt with sight have been used by other senses, in its absence
Depth perception and facial recognition not being processed by the brain as it would in a person with sight, even 10 years later on
Many parts of the brain are used in vision, approx 40%, all are needed to form an image
The best view of how the brain operates is to see what happens when it’s interrupted
Example – Headset that flips the view of the environment, left becomes right and visa versa
Visual data no longer makes intuitive sense
Takes brain 1 week to adjust and behave normally and manage in its new reality and after two weeks spacial map is altering, forget what is left and right. It takes a couple of days to readjust afterwards
All senses come into play to decode. A new reality is created
Babies don’t just touch stuff to feel what they feel, like they are learning how to see
Only means something if we can cross reference using other senses. What we touch influences how we see, taste is affected by our sense of smell, sight informs what we hear, and our reality is built by comparing these streams of data and when woven together our reality is constructed.
All sensory input takes different times to process and our brains have to merge these together to make our reality. Sound is processed faster than vision, because visual system takes more processing time than the hearing system, but it feels as though it is done instantly
Touch of hand is processed faster than touch on foot
All data from senses is first collected and processed before the brain builds a story. It takes ½ second to do this. So when we clap our hands, our reality of that clap is ½ after the fact. As a result our reality is based on the past
Different parts of the brain deal with different parts of the processing and it is all woven together to create our reality
Example – Solitary confinement; Deprived of sensory input – brain begins to create own reality. Going on imaginary trips and see illusions as reality.
What we see through our eyes, is less than the data that goes from our Thalamus to the cortex and our visual
Data from eyes goes to Thalamus and on to outer brain Cortex and visual Cortex.
6 times as much traffic going in opposite direction
Most of what we see is less to do with light from our eyes and more about what’s going on inside heads. An internal generated reality.
Known as The internal model
Use incoming data to update and correct internal model of the world through past experience, rather than rebuilding our world through sight
Example – Mask of face inside and outside appears to be sticking out. Internal model expects to see face stand out not in, so fools us into thinking it is
Your model sees what it expects to see. The Thalamus compares with what is coming in through the eyes to our internal model
Example – Eyes jump around but the internal model is only being updated, it doesn’t take in all the details, so the scene doesn’t jump around in the same way the eyes do. Data is taken on a need to know basis
Anytime you look around, colour doesn’t exist. Colour is reflected as black and white and only becomes colour in our heads
Only see a small spectrum of light. Less than 1/10trillonth of the full spectrum
All our senses are only picking up a tiny part of the information that is available
Nobody is experiencing objective reality, only what we need to perceive, same for all animals. Dogs have great hearing
Most people experience the same things, but a small percentage experience the world experience differently. Synesthesia – is a condition where the person sees letters in colours, “Hannah” looks like a sunset. Some see music, some experience many different types of psychotic experiences of life. Chemical imbalances in the brain.
Everybody’s life is constructed via beliefs and values
The Brains experience of time results in it compressing and stretching time, seeming longer or shorter. Moments of terror = slow motion
The Amygdala takes all the resources from other parts of brain and records more detail, richer and more vivid, and when replayed in memory they appear to have taken more time. The distortion of this time comes from the memory of the event. The brain is the ultimate story teller.
Each brain has its own unique model of the world. Reality is what your brain tells you it is.
What makes you who you are
3 lb organ. Wet biological stuff, fire billion electrical signals every second, results in the experience of being you
What shapes who you become?
Your life shapes your brain and your brain shapes your life
What makes me, me?
We are born helpless, more than any other species
Many other animals have life skills built in
Zebras can run within 45 minutes
But if these animals are in a strange environment, they won’t survive
People are pre-programmed to survive in any environment by being equipped to “learn” over having certain skills built in
We learn on the job
This gives us an extraordinary advantage
Same number of brain cell (neurons) in children as adults
As child grows, age 2, twice as many neurons as adults, after 2 growth is halted, and the number of connections are reduced and existing connections are strengthened. Links not used are lost. We become specialist rather than generalist.
But adults cells have stronger connections
But this process relies heavily on the outside world (our unique environment) and can go wrong if environment is not conducive to healthy development
Example Romanian orphans’ – neural activity reduced, because lower input up to age of 2.
When brain is starved of needs, development is stunted
And as adults, these orphans are still under-developed
What we experience in our early years goes a long way to shaping us in the rest of our lives
Genetics also shapes us – hormones change our appearance as teenagers.
Brains also change as teenagers. Example teenagers sat in window and have strangers look at her, brain reacts different to adults. Teenagers more sensitive to being looked at compared to adults
This is because the medial prefrontal cortex is highly active in teenagers, this results in them being more sensitive in regard to their self-consciousness and the situation in relation to themselves. Emotional situations carry a lot of weight
Also poor impulse control as the brain develops, results in greater risk taking
As we grow out of our teenage years our brains change less so
The knowledge – the Posterior Hippocampus becomes larger through revision.
Experience changes the brain through plasticity. The brain is a work-in-progress
Our identity is constantly changing, who you are and who you can become
Good and bad
Charles Witman, killed his wife, mother in law and 13 people. He asked for his brain to be examined, and he had a tumour which was putting pressure on his Amygdala, which is involved in fear and aggression, making him more violent
Disease, drugs, and aging can reshape the brain
Our brains may change but our MEMORY is a constant part of our personality
What if you could meet yourself at different ages – memories are likely to be different in each of yourselves at different ages.
When we experience an event we use all our sense that are woven together to make up that experience
As a memory it becomes less vivid, and subsequent events supersede it and affect how we feel about that memory.
Leading questions can contaminate existing memories
It’s even possible to implant completely false memories, if plausible enough. i.e. lost in mall as child, and after giving it time more and more detail creeps into the false memory. We embellish the false memory, we are imaginative storytellers
Our memory of the past is not a faithful record, it’s a reconstruction, a mythology
Why are our memories so unreliable, because it doesn’t just record what happens, it allows us to simulate what is coming next. It is a narrative that links the past with the future, so that we can work out what we need to do tomorrow
Keeping the brain active, helps sidestep the brain as it ages and the onset of disease, creating new neural pathways
Conscious experience is our unique perspective of the world. It’s not about the neurons because they will still be there after death, it’s more about how the neurons work together. Like drummers making just random noise, but then start working with one another to create a performance. Consciousness is a performance of neurons.
During sleep, the neurons are still interacting as if awake, and in deep sleep they become extremely synchronised but I am not there during this time.
I am the relationship between the neurons in a certain state
Why do we care about anything. The Meaning of life is the web of associations from our unique history of life experiences
We don’t perceive objects as they are, we perceive them as we are. Brains are as unique as snowflakes. We are completely unique from anyone that has and will ever live
From cradle to grave, we are works in progress
Who is in control of you?
Every action and decision and belief are driven by parts of brain you have no access to, the unconscious
Your brain secretly controls everything you do outside of awareness
Human consciousness is awaking in the morning, when we wake from sleep
Waking is the birth of you. Your brain comes online, but this is also the beginning of a great deception
It feels like you are in control of your decisions, but it’s not quite so simple
The conscious you makes up a very small percentage of what is going on.
The hidden activity includes:
Controlling the body – Hitting a baseball happens so quickly, even before conscious awareness has time to kick in
Cerebellum in the brain calculates micro adjustments to body to say, just hold a cup of tea, millions of times without our awareness
Why is so much of what we do buried out of reach?
EEG scans show motor skills reduce cognitive activity load, brain activity is almost in a rest state if what you’re doing is greatly practiced. Carving the skill into neurons so you can perform the task rapidly and without need for conscious attention.
New skills change our brains and are hardwired into the structure of our brains (muscle memory)
Brain requires only as much energy as a 60 watt light bulb, which is incredible considering its power
The consequence of all this, is many processes have become hidden from our consciousness
We go into autopilot when carrying out these tasks (such as driving) as our brains and body’s take over
Brains can be trained to do any skills automatically and they seem almost super human
Blackout of consciousness – enter a flow state. The zone. The neural circuits can run without the conscious mind being present. Perception is heightened, things slow down and things become more vivid, stop thinking and start just doing. Free of thought and struggle
The hidden parts of the brain can take control of our body’s and shape our lives in more profound ways
Freud pioneered studies about what’s beneath consciousness
By watching what’s happening above the surface, you get a peak at what is happening below it
Unconscious shapes thoughts and behaviour
Eckhart Hess in the 1960’s ran an experiment showing faces and asked questions about how friendly, how attractive this person was. The images were the same women but with dilated eyes – men found the women with dilated eyes more attractive. Brains were analysing details and acting on them, without the men’s conscious awareness
Warm coffee =closer relationship, harsh smelling environment = harsher moral decisions, sat next to hand sanitizer = shifts political opinions to a more conservative stance (less outside threats)
So why aren’t we just unconscious beings?
What is the point of consciousness?
Because conscious mind deals with unexpected situations, to make sense of a new situation. When expectations are violated, consciousness is woken up. It also plays a vital role in dealing with problems in internal sub-systems.
Conscious is like a CEO, rising above the daily routines to take an oversight role. If you’re hungry but on a diet, your conscious mind tries to work out what’s best and make an executive decision. It has a unique vantage point. Consciousness is a way for individual cells to view themselves as a unified whole. It is a long term planner
If consciousness goes completely offline: like a blackout, sleepwalking. Walking involuntarily and doing actions without conscious awareness
Unconscious brains steer our behaviour
Why do we all do different things, behave in unique ways?
Genes also play a part in behaviour. The Y chromosome (males) makes men more prone to violence, environment also affects genes, what happens to us and impacts on genes
Culture, ideas, belief systems, environment all interact with our genes
Do you have free-will of any kind?
We think when we choose to do something we are in control, and get to decide, but science can’t find evidence for this
Example – TMS causes participants movements, but the participants thought it was due to their own free-will. The conscious mind is good at telling itself that it made a choice when it hasn’t
If there is no free-will, it is still hard to make predictions, because one thing effects something else which effects something else and has a knock on effect and the outcome of all those interactions, results in there being no way of knowing the outcome (ping pong ball into a tank with other ping pong balls)
Conscious experience is only a tiny part of what makes us, us. Our inner space is vast, a reflection of the universe perhaps
Decision making processes
Our brains are constantly making decisions, we are aware of some, however most of which, we are not
Decision making allows us to navigate through life and has led us to where you are now
Making choices, looking at options, results in us being constantly in a state of conflict, do this, do nothing or do that
Why do you choose one over the other, for example, eat yoghurt or not?
These rivalries are internal, different networks competing against one another
Example – The word “Blue” in orange colour is confusing. The colour network, competing with the word network
Example – Alien hand syndrome
The struggle that is waged inside our head every day. Two systems that come into conflict REASONS versus EMOTIONS
Example; 4 men on track, out of control carriage heading their way, either move lever to divert onto different route but will kill one (most choose to move lever and kill one but save four), or second scenario, push a man into path of carriage to stop it, killing one to save 4 men (most can’t purposely push man to save 4)
Warfare, long range strike, removes the emotion and makes it easier to do
Why do we have emotional system?
When things go wrong, easy to see what might be happening, for example – Lady who can’t make decisions after having accident and damage to brain, doesn’t care to be able to differentiate between options and this frustrates her
Emotion is a necessary component of decision making, can’t decide on one choice over other, doesn’t care for one over the other
Need to value one option over the other. If you don’t care it can be hard, so need emotions to help out in the decision making process
Emotions important for making decisions
Emotions also interact with our physiology, which allow us to put a value on a choice
This conversation between body and brain is going on all the time
React physically first (heart rate increase, dilated pupils, empty bladder) when facing a threat
Hunches start before rational brain kicks in as proven by “Iowa gambling test”. Feeling/intuition spots the fact that cards from stack A and C are more rewarding/lucrative
Hunches pick up after 10 cards have been selected, conscious rational brain at 20 cards, as proven by sweat glands showing signs of negative reaction to picking from wrong stack
Hunches are the rational brain catching up with emotional brain and physiology
Ego depletion – running down on energy, needed by the pre frontal cortex which effects decision making as shown in test of judges making decisions before lunch of guilty and less so after lunch
Example lap dancers earned more when ovulating. Estrogen effects how the ladies appear to men, softer skin etc and these are picked up by the men who give them more money
Why do you stay with a partner – Oxytocin, strengthens the bond we feel when in a relationship and makes other competitors less attractive. Brains preconditioned decision to keep couples together for sake of offspring
Some choices are made by our DNA, which are inherited from parents. Some basic responses are predetermined
Example -The greater the disgust response to images shown, the more likely you are to vote conservative within the next 6 months, the less of an adverse response the more likely to vote liberal they are. This was tested by the responses in nervous system after showing gross images to participants
How do we make choices about future decisions?
We run simulations of the future and give each a value. 10 units for this, 5 units for that, 50 units for the other and we keep re-evaluation options. A best guess of the future outcomes. Our Dopamine system is what is used to change the value of things based of our latest experience of it. If better than expected, evaluation goes up, if worse than expected goes down.
When Dopamine goes out of control can lead to addiction. We can lose control of our impulses
Example – Sub-prime disaster shows how we can lose control. The pull of the now outweighs consequences in the future. The future is just an idea of what might be. The here and now has much more psychological pull. The present versus future conflict.
We rely on will-power to keep us in check, but will-power gets used up and when it’s in short supply we give in to temptations or distractions or just give up altogether, if what we’re doing is hard
We use will-power up like a tank of gas
Ulysses contract – social pressure to keep us on track, and bind oneself in the future
Example: addiction – Suppress on one side and crave on the other, and the conflict and balance between the two, learning to find strategies to move the balance to increase suppression over any cravings. Move away from being a slave to our impulses
What does a brain need to be healthy?
Nutrients from food, oxygen and OTHER PEOPLE
Our brains are wired to work together
We are fundamentally social creatures
The most basic encounter relies of trust – buying from a shop
Much of our brain activity is dedicated to communication with each other
We try to impress each other and exchange ideas
Example – Easy to form stories from simple shapes on a screen interacting
We look for intention and relationships all around us
We navigate the world around us by judging others’ actions
Example – Babies (with little life experience) make judgements on teddies that are either mean or nice, based on instinct, not just by what has been learned
Many regions of the brain are used in social interaction, this is less defined in people who suffer from Autism, resulting in social integration problems
Example – Harvard medical school did a test on a patient who suffered from autism, after being given TMS targeting different parts of his brain. When they did it to the Dorsolateral Prefrontal cortex, a region responsible for abstraction, he became able to read people, where he couldn’t before, and this was completely by accident, and it never went away
Movement in facial muscles can be read in milliseconds and we subtly mirror what we see
Mirroring happens because it allows us to identify the emotion in others, and read other people. People with Botox are not able to mirror expressions and as a result, correctly identify the other person’s emotion as accurately
When we go to the movies, we know what we are seeing is actually make-believe, yet we still react emotionally to what we see. This is because the pain matrix is activated in us and empathy for others is triggered, we kind of feel their pain. We are able to step into their shoes as if it were us. This is hard-wired into us
If the brain is starved of human contact we may go into an animal like state, pacing. Then into a plant like state, mind slows down and becomes repetitive. The brain turns on itself and becomes a source of deep psychological pain
It creates a reality from the scant sensory input, and makes up stories
The world around you is part of who you are, in a vacuum you lose a sense of who you are
When we feel excluded, the pain matrix is activated. Social rejection is so meaningful it hurts
Our Brain pushes us in the direction of bonding with others. We seek out alliances, a sense of connection
We strive to work in groups
There is also a flip side to this, where there are in-groups there are outsiders, such as Jews in the war
How can the social orientated brain suddenly change into something that can cause genocide? Germany, Bosnia where neighbours killed one another
What is going on here? How can this happen?
Such occurrences keep happening throughout history. We need to understand genocide as a neural phenomenon
Where there is separation between in-groups and out groups our brains are changed and this effects how we respond to other people’s pain if they are perceived as in the outgroup. What team are you on?
Networks in prefrontal cortex become active when we interact with others, in psychopaths (who make up a small percentage of the population) this is less so, and with those involved in genocide, who are just everyday people, they dehumanise their victims, seeing them rather like viewing inanimate objects. And group behaviour amplifies this to a greater extent, like group contagion
Propaganda plays into this by dehumanising the enemy to appear like animals
Example the school children experiment where children were separated into blue and brown eyed children. Putting blue eyed children on top and reversing the day after. The children’s behaviour dramatically changed towards their friends. This changed them forever experiencing both sides of the coin. They realised systems of rules can be arbitrary
What’s next for our brains, what will we be capable of?
Who will we be?
We’re marrying our biology with our technology
Plasticity – example Cameron Mot started having drop seizures, and had the diseased part of her brain removed to try and eradicate it. An entire half of her brain had been effected by the disease. With the loss of all that brain tissue, she has only slight weakness on one side, but not much else. Her brain has overcome the loss of brain tissue, through plasticity
All incoming information, through eyes, ears, nose or via touch, is turned into electro chemical signals. The brain makes sense of any input, even through cochlear implants. As long as the input is consistent, the brain will figure out how to use it
It doesn’t matter how signals find their way to the brain, it will figure it out over time. There is no limit to the sensory expansion that we can create. The brains capacity to take on new inputs, we should be able to expand the experience of being human
We are not confined to the transitional senses
There is no limit to what the brain can incorporate
How we sense the world is only half the story, the other half is how we interact with it
Paralysed woman who’s brain is unable to communicate with her body, is making use of robotics to connect her brain with a robot arm, just by thinking about it. There’s a direct physical link between her robot arm and brain
Not just replacing limbs, but improving them, and expanding our capabilities and expanding the body
What if technology could address our mortality?
When we die all our knowledge and information is lost
We might be coming to a time where we could take the information from a dead brain and interact with it again, giving the dead a chance to live again
Cryonic suspension to preserve brains and bodies
Other ways to access the information from a dead brain, to be able to read it out directly
Map out all the huge, and unique connections which underlies all its functions – known as “The Connectome”. Like a wiring diagram
Slicing thin slices of brain onto surface of water, each slice pushing the last, like a conveyer belt, into strips, then scanned by electron microscope and magnified hundreds of thousands of times, and then stacking on top of each other and following the neurons through the images to make a 3D model, mapping all the wiring that underpins the brains thought, experiences and beliefs. This would be a zedobyte of data, more than all the current worlds data.
But the time might come when computing power isn’t an issue
The computational hypotheses – hypotheses if the wet biological part of the brain is not what’s important it’s the connection and interaction that’s important, we could run digitally. It’s not what the mind is, it’s what the brain does.
Creating models based on biological data, to create a simulation of a human brain – could the mind live in a computer
Create machines that think via AI. Proven to be extremely difficult. The goal of a sentient machine is still to be achieved. Machine learning, like babies to be able to learn, without being pre programmed. With each interaction it learns and builds on its knowledge
Lines of code, instead of chain/train of thought. In 1980’s John Surril came up with a thought experiment, called the Chinese room. You are locked in room, outside is someone who only speaks Chinese, you in the room have a book that match Chinese symbols, the Chinese person posts messages to you, you look up the answer, matching the symbols, and post back the matched reply, to Chinese speaker. The Chinese person thinks they are having a conversation with someone that speaks Chinese. But I the operator, don’t understand Chinese. The argument goes, this is how a computer is, just manipulating symbols and following instructions, it doesn’t understand
This exposes the difficulties and the mystery of how physical pieces and parts comes to equal our experience of being in the world
Looking at the natural world, such as Ants we see how the individuals contribute to a larger organism as the colony. They work individually but all for the common good. Relying of chemical signals from other local ants, when isolated they are very ineffective. The ants work as a system, no one ant sees the bigger picture, but it works as a super organism.
Emergent properties. This is thought to be how neurons work, being embedded in a network, reacting to local signals. Enough of them working together and the mind emerges into consciousness.
Maybe they need to interact in specific ways to be effective
When you wake up in the morning, beforehand there is nothing when you awake there is everything
When asleep the strand of activity is restricted, when awake the activity is much more widespread, experiences are bound together a composite of numerous possibilities. Consciousness may come from these patterns of interaction
Building consciousness on different media is still in the realms of science fiction, but the possibilities are still there
When we imagine simulated life the choices are endless, and what we are experiences of life now might be it. It is difficult to disprove it. How can we ever know what we are experiencing is reality?
There is some “me” at the centre of this, trying to figure it out. I’m thinking about it, and therefore “I am”
We might be at the point of an evolutionary leap, transformed beyond what has ever been done before
Hugh Rank may be better known for his model of persuasion, but he did also come up with the Pep talk, a framework for analysing political language.
It’s particularly important to be aware of the tricks politicians might employ to take control of the population through a form of mind control, manipulating the masses to their will.
Rank believed arming people with this framework might help protect against such trickery.
When you’re next watching the news, or some political broadcast, look out for this framework at work. Question politicians and media motives, pay particular attention to the language being used. For example if you’ve listened to some of the Brexit debate lately, you may have heard terms such as
“we risk falling off a cliff edge”,
“into the abyss”,
“storm clouds are gathering”,
“we’ll be left in the wilderness”,
Now, consider the intent behind such emotive language. What are politicians (and the media) trying to get you to do, what is their intent?
Whether you believe it’s likely to be true or not, what such language is attempting to do is influence your views, mess with your emotions and stir a reaction from you. It’s trying to stoke up fear, largely based on nothing but opinion and assumptions rather than fact and evidence. This isn’t the Pep talk framework in full effect, but some elements are at play here.
However you have seen the Pep talk at work, in all it’s glory, during the war on terror, particularly after 911.
The “pep talk” calls for committed collective action. Emotional intensity and group bonding are the two prominent features of a “pep talk” which is made up of the following components..
(1)the Threat; (2) the Bonding; (3) the Cause; (4) the Response.
1. The Threat
Rank believes persuaders are often problem makers using the following tools:
words – warning, name calling, horror stories
images – atrocity pictures to intensify threat to the group by evil other
Persuaders use predictable fears – “We fear that someone stronger (DOMINANCE) will take away our life (DEATH), our possessions (DESTRUCTION), our territory (INVASION), our freedom (RESTRICTION); or that someone else has more (INJUSTICE); or that a human system will break down (CHAOS).
There are six category of fears;
Death and destruction
The threat may be direct and tangible (such as traffic gridlocks, widespread power outages, computer network failures, mob riots, food shortages, contamination) or the threat may be indirect and intangible (such as inflation, bank failures, devaluation of currency). But, in both cases, the harmful effects are, nevertheless, real and felt.
In political campaigns, the incumbents usually stress how well the systems work; the opposition party charges that the system should work better, and that there should be change, reform.
2. The Bonding
Hugh Rank believes there are three basic themes in bonding actions, which are the same, no matter what threats or causes are involved, these are:
Unity – “united we stand”
Loyalty – “be true to your…”
Pride – “we’re number one…”
Such bonding activities relate to past and present and involves organised group activities such as teams, parades, picketing, chanting, singing and/or wearing uniforms, these are used for gathering and keeping the group together ready for action.
Once the group is bonded a structure and organisation comes into being. Individuals often gain self-esteem from joining such groups, have roles to play and jobs to protect.
So bonded groups need a sense of movement and progress, often obtained by introducing new threats and new causes.
3. The Cause
Rank says a cause involves a sense of duty to defend someone from a threat and gain a benefit.
People working on a cause often increase their own self image and have a sense of moral superiority and self righteousness. They basically come from the view that “we are informed and good: they are ignorant and evil”
Causes often conflict, sometimes directly, more often indirectly. Opponents often disagree on what the main issue is. Dominance, or power, is sometimes the “hidden agenda.” Related causes often cluster, so group-bonding attempts often overlap.
Cause rhetoric can sometimes be controlled, like a thermostat, by organized groups, but sometimes gets out of control, like a wildfire, because individuals may internalise a strange mix of messages and respond in violent ways.
to Defend … Protect … Guard … Save … Help … Shield … Safeguard … Aid … Serve
the … Nation … Country … Homeland … People … Workers … Common Man … Poor … Oppressed … Children… Unborn … Future… Animals …. Environment
… from a threat and gain a benefit:
If the Threat is:DOMINATION
the benefit is: Victory … Triumph … Success … Conquest … Control … Sovereignty … Mastery … Superiority … Dominion … Supremacy
If the Threat is:DEATH & DESTRUCTION
the benefit is: Peace … Security … Safety … Stability … Tranquility … Calm
If the Threat is:INVASION
the benefit is: Territory … Country … Homeland … Fatherland … Birthright … Community … Inheritance … Neighborhood
If the Threat is:RESTRICTION
the benefit is: Freedom … Liberty … Independence … Choice … Liberation … Emancipation … Autonomy … Self-determination
If the Threat is:INJUSTICE
the benefit is: Justice … Equality …Right … Fairness … Balance … Retribution … Revenge … Vengeance
If the Threat is:CHAOS
the benefit is: Order … Prosperity … Progress … Abundance … Plenty … Growth … Efficiency … Honesty … Ability … Integrity
Rank says that duty, defense, and altruism are the key concepts. The basic concept of a “cause” can be expressed in the following formula:
A “cause” involves a sense of duty to defend someone from a threat and gain a benefit.
4. The Response
Effective cause group rhetoric usually identifies specific actions to be taken by the receptive audience. Often, an urgency plea is used, together with some common triggering words.
Start – lets go, move, start or passively – rest, stasis, indecision or inaction
Fight – struggle
Endure – keep on, hold on, standfast, stick to it
Change – redirect, transform, channel, convert.
If the Threat is:
Key “Cause” words:
Fight (or) Stop
DEATH OR DESTRUCTION
Win (or) Stop
Keep out (or) Get out
Free (or) Ban
More (or) Less
Keep (or) Change
Save (or) Keep
This is the outline of Ranks Pep Talk, it’s difficult to find much about it on the internet, his book by the same name is available on Amazon, and although, I haven’t read it, other than on his website, many years ago, it’s an intriguing subject, and as relevant today as it’s ever been.
I was recently contemplating, what are the most important aspects of running a business. Here in order of importance, is what I have come up with..
1. Add value
Provide something of value that people are willing to pay you for, after all, if you’ve nothing that people want, regardless of how much you might like your offering, it’s a non-starter. Find a solution to a problem, something that scratches an inch, so to speak. Find a need, find a want, and work out a solution to solve it.
Become a good deal maker. Middle men leverage their resources to help both creators and customers. They bridge the gap in such a way as to provide value to other parties.
Win-win situations are the best for sustainability, for customers, suppliers and partners. If you’re not providing some benefit to any of these parties, you’ve got a limited shelf life.
Find gaps in markets. Where are existing solutions falling short?
Use and combine existing solutions to create even more value. My photography business brings together makeup artist and photographer to provide makeover photoshoots. It adds value to the existing propositions of both services.
An effective business person, successfully executes the promised value proposition from sourcing through to production/service to final output.
2. Have the right mindset
Find and maintain motivation so that you take action and follow through.
Believe in what you’re doing or trying to achieve. But always keep number one in this list in mind.
Become self aware. Understand why you do what you do and don’t do what you don’t do.
Initiate momentum. Progress from a standing start into something meaningful. Once you make a start inertia will build and make things easier.
Take responsibility for actions and outcomes. No blaming others and complaining that this or that isn’t working out for you. Develop a can-do attitude.
Be resourcefulness, make use of yours and other people’s resources and make it happen!
Learn to be able to shift perspective. Re-framing how you think about something can often change your performance, because thoughts lead actions. Most of our beliefs are built on shaky ground, built from assumptions and inferences, rather than facts and evidence. I love to use quote graphics as a way of looking at something from fresh perspective.
Be committed to what you’re doing. Burning bridges, means you’re forced to give full commitment to a particular course of action. I’m not particularly advocating this extreme approach, but if you’re forced down one path, you’re likely to find a way, even if the road ahead is a bumpy one.
Develop a strong work ethic. You’ve got to be prepared to put the work in if you’re going to succeed. Sure you can look to make things easier, by working smarter, but the more you’re prepared to put into something, the more you’re likely to get from it.
Embrace change and uncertainty. Change and uncertainty presents uncomfortable risk for many, particularly if they live from hand to mouth or with little margin for error, in terms of indebtedness. From an evolutionary standpoint we’re hard wired to resist situations that present uncertainty, because our ancestors may have mistakenly wandered into the path of a dangerous predator in years gone by, possibly resulting in loss of life. These days, we don’t live with such life threatening consequences if we get things wrong, but we still fear any threat to the status quo, in much the same way.
Always try to overcome fear and inner conflict, because these feelings will inevitably hold us back from making progress. Often the fear is greater than the reality.
Pay attention to your coping strategies. Coping strategies are designed to prevent cognitive dissonance, but often we use them as excuses not to follow through. I call them coping excuses, because we justify to ourselves why we do or don’t do something, even if it’s not really the right thing.
Replace bad habits with good ones. Bad habits are hard to break, and often it’s easier to replace them with good habits.
Stay focused. It’s so easy to get distracted by the new shiny thing, but staying focused and maintaining progress is so important. Know where you’re going and measure progress against this. Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Be organised and work against a plan of action. Having a system to work within makes daily activities routine and habitual, and as a result much more likely to be done efficiently. The more you do things the better you get at them. This advice comes with a caveat though, don’t stifle creativity. Routine and organisation, is a left brain activity, creativity is a right brain activity, and it’s hard to keep switching between the two.
Improve problem solving and decision making. All life is about solving problems and making decisions and the better you can get at these, the more successful you will be.
Utilise IQ, EQ, talent and skill. Play to your strengths, improve and work at making them better, and use them to your advantage. You are uniquely you, so make the most of what you’ve got. We all have something.
Find the best way things can be done, not just the best way you can do them. Be a master of what you know, and an apprentice of what you don’t know. The moment you think you know it all, is the moment you stop listening and learning. Take the scientific approach and look to disprove your hypothesis, rather than falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where you look to confirm what you believe, while ignoring or rejecting anything that runs counter to them.
Find reliable sources of accurate information. Don’t be embarrassed to admit you are still learning. Life has something to teach us every day, even if it’s how not to do something. Always be learning.
Employ experts to help you. Don’t expect to do everything yourself, use the expertise and passions of other people to help your business. Get skilled employees, partners and suppliers to grow your business. Get others to do the things you don’t like to do, this underlines the point I previously highlighted about the importance of improving self awareness.
3. Master the art and science of Marketing and sales
Always be marketing and building your brand.
Think long term over short term.
Build your reputation, and influence what people say about you when you’re not there.
4. Understand your Financials
Financial literacy is essential to business success.
Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.
Understand the importance of cash flow and the difference between it and profit and why you can go out of business even if you’re making a profit.
Study your profit and loss figures.
Use financial info for decision making.
Remember there are only 2 ways to make more profit, either by selling more goods and services (volume) or by making more profit per £ of sales.
There are only 3 ways to get more sales; by getting more customers, increasing transaction volume or by increase transaction frequency.
Keep costs down. They only rise if more is being spent per £ of sales or sales are increasing therefore increasing costs (volume).
Know lifetime value of customers and use this knowledge to work out your marketing budget.
5. Have direction
Be a meaningful specific rather than a wandering generality as Zig Ziglar used to say.
Have a clear vision and goal to give you a strong sense of direction, otherwise you’ll by like a rudderless boat, being dragged around by the tides of circumstance.
Develop a definite plan of action and strategy, but build in room for flexibility, because sometimes things come along we could never have anticipated, and we shouldn’t reject them because they don’t fall perfectly in line with what we were intending to do. Just be wary we’re not being pulled unnecessarily and unproductively off course with no benefit.
Work on the business not in it. Don’t lose yourself in the day to day stuff, you’ve got to keep one eye on the big picture at all times.
Be ahead of the demand curve not behind it. Otherwise you’ll have to work harder to maintain income, because of the downward pressure on prices later in products life cycle.
6. Future-proof yourself
Disrupt your own business model before others do. Technological advancement is so rapid these days, you’ve got to keep an eye out for major shifts in your industry. The music and film industries have endured major industry shifts over recent years, and they won’t be the last to do so.
Innovate. Always be look to be better, faster, be more convenient, provide better quality, and add more functionality to the value you provide.
Demand continuous improvement, from yourself and your team.
Consider multiple income streams to hedge and spread risk. Having your eggs in one basket is a dangerous game to play in such a fast moving and changing environment.
If you’re not progressing you’re falling behind, so drop the idea of maintaining the non-existent status quo.
Always be doing SWOT analysis. SWOT which stands for strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats is a great tool for analysing your business. If you pay particular attention to the threats your business faces, you have a chance to turn these into opportunities, and disrupt your competitors.
Use cost benefit analysis to weigh options.
Use Decision matrix when considering options, so that you fully analyse all the variables and attributes in play.
7. Be a good Leader
Lead your team.
Use a carrot over stick approach.
Sell your vision to your employees. Get them enthused by your passion.
Encourage contributions from employees. Two minds or more are often better than one. They give you an opportunity to see things from a different perspective, from someone with different life and work experiences than yourself, and this can only be a good thing to tap into.
So there you have it, hope you get some value from this post, please share with anyone you think will benefit from reading it.
The quote “Often wrong, never in doubt” is often used in the context that you have to be confident in yourself and not doubt yourself even though you may be wrong. Doing something and failing is far worse than doubting yourself and therefore not even trying.
An alternative view can be taken from this statement, the meaning I took from it when I first heard it, was that it refers to over-confidence in some belief that could very well be wrong. It’s the delusion of certainty without actually having the full facts.
I see this as a major problem, rather than something to draw inspiration from. Sure we have to take risks in pursuit of dreams sometimes, but we should always strive to have the full facts and not follow things on a whim.
Beliefs shape behaviour and at the extremes, people are willing to die or kill in pursuit of their beliefs, As a society, we really don’t want beliefs being built on such shaky ground.
Question yourself, where have your strongest held beliefs come from? Can you back them with evidence? Are they built on truths?
I’ve done this myself, and many of my beliefs, held for many years are built from assumptions, inferences and from the testimony of other people, often people I considered experts and authority figures. Very few have come from my own research, from facts and backed by hard evidence.
I’ve learned to test and check as much as possible, and take everything else with some level of scientism.
Relying on the testimony of others seems like a good strategy, it makes sense, after all we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we can stand on the shoulders of giants and make use of their knowledge. If you want to learn about wealth creation, learn from someone who has built wealth, if you want to learn about health, learn from someone who has achieved great health and fitness.
However be wary of authority figures manipulating you for their own ends. We’ve all seen scandals and cover-ups from banks, politicians, businesses and trusted individuals who turned out to be lying and misleading for their own ends. I take the view, the bigger they are the less we can afford to trust them. Mainly because financial pressures change people, the more they have the more they fear losing what they have. This makes them do things they might not have done before.
I am now very cautious of anyone who is certain of being in the right, knowing the truth, and who are subsequently certain that this or that will happen in the future, but have no real evidence or data to back that opinion up. If they are unwilling to at least, listen to an alternative view, I tend to run a mile. Their beliefs are out of control, and it’s likely to end in tears for somebody.
So what should you do if someone tells you something?
Critically evaluate information right away. That may help prevent your brain from storing the wrong information. “You want to avoid encoding those potentially problematic memories,” Rapp said.
Consider the source. People are more likely to use inaccurate information from a credible source than from an unreliable source, according to Rapp’s previous research.
Beware of “truthy” falsehoods. “When the truth is mixed with inaccurate statements, people are persuaded, fooled and less evaluative, which prevents them from noticing and rejecting the inaccurate ideas,” Rapp said.
I would add a couple of other things to this list. First, whoever is telling you, ask yourself, what’s in it for them? What’s their angle, have they anything to gain for telling you what they’re telling you? Even if you can’t answer these questions, be skeptical.
Finally I would add one last thing, ask them, how do you know? where’s the evidence? If their answer is something like, they’ve heard from a friend, or from unnamed source, take it with a pinch of salt. If they’ve got first hand experience of it, then take note, but again refer to the previous point of questioning their motives.
So in conclusion, we should be very cautious about our beliefs and those of others. Question everything, don’t just take things at face value. Beliefs are dangerous, particularly when you hold them with conviction, and have little insight into where they really come from. Social conditioning is very effective at indoctrinating people into doing what’s best for society or for a particular cause. This is not always the best for individuals.
For instance, parents often push us to play safe and not take unnecessary risks because of their social conditioning and fears instilled in them by their parents. They are just as socially conditioned and as blind to their conditioning as we are. It’s kind of like the blind leading the blind. They love you and care for you and want you to be safe, so they project their fears onto you, and so the cycle goes on through you and your children.
We might grow up with the belief that we should always PLAY IT SAFE, when we’d be better taking calculated risks at certain times or WORK ON OUR WEAKNESSES, when we’d be better doubling down on our strengths.
Question your beliefs and subsequently your opinions and views, and don’t be one of those people who are often wrong, never in doubt.
Non-attachment is about not resisting loss. It’s partly about surrendering to what is and not holding on to anything or anyone so tightly that you invest your sense of self in that attachment.
This is easier said that done, but it’s the goal. Partly by adjusting EXPECTATIONS, by understanding that all attachments are fleeting, and impertinent.
Also you can adjust your PERCEPTION of your relationships with attachments, removing ownership desires and delusions.
If you can do this with any attachments, you can enjoy them more with a deeper level of gratitude. Enjoy them while they last, rather than wasting energy fearing their loss.
The reality is you are going to lose them at some point, so better get your head around it, enjoy them and get on with it.
More about attachments
Think about your attachment to say, your home. You invest your hard earned money in something that you hope will not just provide you a home but also some security in your old age. It’s free to live in once you’ve paid off your mortgage, but when you die, you will leave it to your kids most likely. You surrender your claim to it through death. It provides security in life but death parts your ownership of it. The reality of your attachment is, you get to make use of it while you’re here, but then it moves on to your next of kin. The ownership is permission to exclusively use of it, for a limited time, nothing more.
Ownership of your home is one of the more financially savvy things to do, but we often attach to other possessions in much the same way, but not for investment reasons. We feel attached to anything we consider “mine”. Cars, clothes, phones to name a few. We feel the same sense of loss for things that don’t actually have any investment value to us. They depreciate in value over time, yet we get upset if we lose them or they are taken from us. This is because we have invested our sense of self in them.
They come to mean something to us, they are part of who we see ourselves to be. They are part of us. If we hear about someone, we don’t know, having their car stolen, we may not pay much attention to it, but if it’s our car that’s stolen we become upset. This is attachment. The difference is my car is part of my sense of self.
The more stuff we have, the more attachments we have, the more chance of feeling upset when we lose any of them, because we feel we’ve lost something of ourselves.
Attachments spread to people. We may invest our sense of self in our friends and family. They become part of us. When they suffer, we suffer. We mourn their loss. We may focus on our lives not being the same without them. It’s never going to be the same again, we may think. This is mourning a loss of the quality of our lives, a loss to our sense of self. Sure we may also feel sorrow for the other person, for their lost opportunities, unrealised desires etc, but a big part of grief is loss for ourselves. It’s a selfish tendency, but a natural one, when we hold tight to attachments.
We need to enjoy our close relationships, make the most of the time we have with them, but understand they are impertinent. When that person has gone, enjoy the memories we shared, sure, but always focus on our remaining relationships, because they too are impertinent.
We can also be attached to ideas, thoughts, political parties, religious ideologies, mental positions and views. When these attachments are challenged or attacked, we feel the same emotions as if we were being attacked, personally.
It could be argued that attachments to possessions and people are in fact attachments to the the thoughts or ideas about a possession or person, rather than an actual attachment to the subject of the attachment.
Attachments to thoughts can be very dangerous, because repetitive thought patterns become our BELIEFS and most of what we do in life is shaped by our beliefs. Wars are fought, lives are lost over strong attachments to beliefs. I won’t go into depth about belief attachments here but they are discussed elsewhere on this website.
It’s self preservation that pushes us to attach to things. Attachment is a survival instinct. We fight for what we are attached to. But attaching has a downside. We feel pain when we lose the subject of our attachment.
We are destined to feel pain, because all attachments are impermanent. In spiritual terms, attachment is of the Ego. We have ourselves wrapped up with the attachment, it is part of our sense of self, part of who we see ourselves to be. “It’s mine”, we tell ourselves.
We can become attached to people, possessions, ideas, thoughts, and political and religious ideologies. In fact all attachments are made via our thoughts. thoughts about people, possessions, mental positions, ideologies etc. Thoughts are the creator of attachments and also the point where we can break our attachments. If we change our thoughts about these attachments, we can change the attachments themselves.
Changing our expectations about our attachments means we no longer expect them to be available to us forever, because all attachments are impermanent. This is a fact, but instead of fearing their loss, fill your energy with appreciation and enjoy them while you can.
We can also Change our perceptions about our attachments. We get to enjoy them for a time, but they are not ours. Ownership is an illusion. We are custodians only for our possessions, and only for a limited period of time.
We should also question our thoughts about all our attachments, increasing awareness about the why we hold on to them. Where do we get our ideas, thoughts from? Why do we hold only certain political and religious ideologies.? Most beliefs, which are rigid thought forms, are taken from inferences and assumptions, rather than from fact and truths. So be very curious about any such attachments. We are all products of our experiences and environments, and we may only know what someone else wants us to believe, rather than what is fact and what actually serves us best.