Whatever your industry, it’s the question that inevitably comes up when the conversation turns to marketing and promotion: “What’s your social media strategy?” Marketing cannot be ignored, but amidst the social media craze people are forgetting that marketing is a layer that’s built on the foundation of a great product or piece of work.
Said Bryan Adams of songwriting: “Social media is a giant distraction to the ultimate aim, which is honing your craft as a songwriter. There are people who are exceptional at it, however, and if you can do both things, then that’s fantastic, but if you are a writer, the time is better spent on a clever lyric than a clever tweet.”
You and your wares need an online presence for people to detect you — being off the grid is disadvantageous. People are misplacing their efforts however when they spend more time promoting than creating. If you’re garnering ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ then you aren’t working at your craft. Your can’t do both simultaneously and while active promotion is an undeniable pillar of selling your product, it also fragments your concentration when you are trying to create something to actually sell. Social media updates and hype-building are not going to write your song, book or business plan.
Social media activity needs a block of time each week allocated to it. In my opinion it shouldn’t be something you spend time on every day. Spending hours ‘networking’ online can be a low yield exercise. To a degree one must also let serendipity play its role: Where one person finds your work, appreciates it then enthuses about it to their peers and friends. The Internet and yes, social media, are great enablers of this. But the sharing needs to be left to others, because realistically you can’t control what people choose to share. This type of organic reputation cannot be bought by posting Facebook updates or tweets, it can only occur when there’s something exceptional worth talking about.
The Happy Uprising can be downloaded to your Kindle for $2.99 (prices may vary by region).
Amazon Review: ”This is a well written, smart and happy book about getting oneself out of the ruts we often find ourselves in - not only in the job market but also in life. Highly recommended.”
When things don’t go to plan it’s natural to start questioning whether you are on a feasible trajectory. Maybe this wasn’t meant to be, you start musing. People around you will mostly sing the usual chorus that hard work pays off and encourage you to persist. Nobody wants to sound negative even if they have strong doubts inside.
Sometimes though the decision you made at the outset can be wrong. No amount of persistence or creative marketing will yield any sizeable success if you’re trying to sell ice to Eskimos. Sell them snow mobiles though and you have a much better footing on which to build further successes. If you want to get to another country as quickly as possible, it’s better to step into a plane than to board a cruise ship and persuade the captain to increase ship speed. The initial choice is key.
"Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that’s more productive." Donald Trump isn’t a likeable person but his words ring true. You owe it to every idea you start to devote all your smarts and effort to it, but if it continues to bear no fruit then you have to think carefully and decide what’s best moving forward: persist or abandon ship and start afresh? It may hurt to acknowledge a failure, but your decision must be guided by what’s best for the future, not on what has already passed.
Trump adds: “I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between perseverance and stubbornness. Stubbornness involves me forcing things to work, while perseverance requires me to work consistently with what’s already working.”
Motivational catchphrases like be positive and never give up need to be taken with a pinch of salt. They are emotional without much acknowledgement of the actual conditions, and can inadvertently encourage you to punish yourself as you persist at low yield endeavors.
Making a wrong decision is not the end of the world, but it can be if you refuse to correct it. The hole you’re in will continue to deepen. Just as you must be willing to work hard, so too must you be willing to radically adjust course where necessary. Heart and head need equal input.
The Happy Uprising is available on Kindle for $2.99 (prices may vary by region).
Amazon Review: ”This is a well written, smart and happy book about getting oneself out of the ruts we often find ourselves in - not only in the job market but also in life. Highly recommended - well worth the price.”
Plans require execution if they are to be realized - one needs to be industrious and occasionally be willing to work long hours. Ideas and creativity exist in a non-physical realm and work by a different set of rules though. People who put long hours in may push a lot of work out, but you will find they seldom produce original work - a fatigued mind isn’t conducive to creativity.
There comes a point where thinking ‘harder’ about something doesn’t produce anything new because when you try to think hard you merely think deeper along the same limited lines. Often you need to take your brain away from the coalface and let it cool off before it can be creative.
Periodically taking a full day or longer to unplug and indulge higher order thinking will see a rise in new perspectives and fruitful ideas. EBay’s president John Donahue shared his view: “In today’s 24/7 work culture, I believe the notion that business leaders need to be connected warriors every day of the year is mistaken. I am very connected 50 weeks of the year, but I try to completely disconnect for 2 weeks.
"I admit that the process of cutting off from email and the internet is frequently stressful in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a very liberating experience. Without a constant barrage of work issues to respond to, I find that my mind calms down and my intuition begins to come alive. I am able to see things through a more creative lens and new ideas often emerge from my ‘time off’."
A creative day is not quite the same as a day off: it’s a deliberate process where you lay the platform your brain needs to be inventive. At the beginning of such a day (or the night before), write your key objectives down: it could be a problem that needs solving or something you’re looking to create, like a song, movie or book. Keep them simple and few in number. Once listed have a brief look at your objectives then put them aside. You need to direct your creative energy and objectives serve to provide this direction.
Thereafter, how do you spend this creative day? By meditating, sitting still, walking around and doing mundane, undemanding tasks. You can even go for a drive, as long as you keep the radio off. The idea is to withdraw your mind from the usual cacophony it deals with: email, music, television, ringing phones, noisy open plan offices and demands from other people. Give yourself less to do and react to. Ideas start to flow when you give your mind breathing space. As useful thoughts come to you, immediately write them down on the same page that you listed your objectives, because it’s very easy to forget an idea or insight.
In the interests of maximizing effectiveness there are some basic disciplines you should observe:
• Ensure you’re well rested
• Keep your home quiet - have every electronic contraption except your refrigerator and stove switched off. Have your phone on but switch off all instant message alerts
• If you use a computer or tablet for something like writing or note taking then keep your Internet connection off - no browsing the Internet unless it’s for research directly attributable to your objectives
During the course of this day it’s okay to occasionally get distracted or feel restless. If this happens, go for a walk or take a small nap but don’t switch the television on or log on to the Internet. Music is a gray area but it’s preferable not to engage it. While music can feel soothing it also stimulates the mind, and before you know it your mind becomes a swirling pool of uncorrelated thoughts again. As long as your objectives are clear and mind unfettered, the ideas will come forth without much effort. Stillness begets creativity.
The Happy Uprising is available on Kindle for $2.99 (prices may vary by region).
Amazon Review: ”Sometimes its easy to feel burnt out from life. I liked the book because it offers a solution to that problem. Its short, concise, and easy to read. I’d recomend this book to anyone who feels stressed out from a job, and wants something different.”
In adult life it seems there are always commitments and obligations you must meet before you can do the things you enjoy: fix the broken curtain rail, complete that report for your boss, buy cleaning agents for the home, wash the car… Passions and interests are seen as nothing more than part-time hobbies by most people. They’re things to be indulged in during those few spare hours on the weekend.
You can’t treat the things you love as activities to do when you have nothing “important” left on your list, however.
Your passion is the screaming answer from God to the question: "What am I here to do?" We all have different interests and strengths (they’re usually the same thing) and those strengths and interests are God’s plan for each of us. You need to uncover this plan by committing time, discipline and energy to the things you enjoy. In short, passion needs to be taken seriously.
Your life needs to come to the stage where you primarily do what interests you 9-5, while the other obligatory stuff gets done with the time that remains. Being driven by obligations and commitments may seem noble, but in essence it’s a reactive approach where your life becomes an unrelenting cycle of perpetually plugging holes as you do little more than keep your nose above water. As pointed out in The Happy Uprising: "More days in the year are spent on meeting that one last deadline or giving that one last push than on living life itself."
Committing time and prioritizing the activities you love will allow you to synchronize your passion with your livelihood, which is the most fundamental pillar to being happy. You work for at least eight hours a day, so work has to be done for the right reasons.
The wise and successful know that your passion is meant to be the driving force in your life, where it’s something you feel seven days a week and not just on weekends.
CEO of Good Think, Inc. Shawn Achor gave a TED talk in 2011 about the correlation between happiness and the quality of work you produce. The core of his message is that you learn and work better when you’re happy.
For the most part I agree with Shaun, especially when he says:
"The absence of disease is not health," and
"The brain releases dopamine when you’re happy, which activates all your learning centres."
A happy learner is a better learner.
I will add to this that the mere feeling of being interested in something spawns happiness. When you indulge in an activity that’s stimulating, fun and thought provoking, there’s little chance you’re going to feel sorrow. Barring personal problems at home or the grief of a loss, you’re going feel deep, unconditional fulfillment when you do something that turns you on.
If interest equates to happiness, then having an interest in what you do will activate your learning centres and allow you to unleash much more creativity and productivity. Doing what you love then is not just a pleasantry, but an actual boost to your abilities. Watch the video here.
In spite of repeating “think positive” affirmations to themselves and the appearances many people put up, it’s easy to see that they’re unhappy for the most part. They speak and behave as if they love life, yet when Monday looms you can hear the dread in their voices. Their positivity is only transient, usually limited to weekends.
People take a very passive approach to fulfillment: they want to change the small things like using positive vocabulary and reserve their joy and passion for the weekends; meanwhile they accept the greatest source of their stress as a given that cannot be changed: work.
I was always tentatively happy at best until I became self-powered and financially independent. My view is simple: you can’t be truly happy as long as you’re working for someone else. And this is the first pillar that I base my book The Happy Uprising on. To quote a paragraph:
“We work for most of our waking lives, so if you are experiencing stress and health related problems, then perhaps you need to examine the stresses your occupation is placing on your life. Dr. Paul J. Rosch, Chairman of the Board of the American Institute of Stress, points to jobs as the leading source of stress for adults. Because so many companies have downsized, those who remain employed are expected to work longer hours and each day becomes a race against the clock that only really ends when they reach retirement age. The way we make our living is a prime suspect for discontent, frustration and burnout.”
Getting a hobby, adopting a different mental outlook, exercise and stress management techniques are fixes that patch over the underlying problem, but the problem itself isn’t being tackled with these fixes - they only provide temporary relief. Using creativity, passion and financial pragmatism, The Happy Uprising will show you how to carve a new way forward based on the premise that work can be fun, collaborative and rewarding…it has to be if you are to call this life worthwhile.
Yet life isn’t only about work. Our minds are restless and chaotic, bodies out of shape and lethargic, and the quest for finding meaning in life has been doused in most people. These pillars also need a strong presence in your life if you are to call yourself happy, and I share concise, useable methods on strengthening these pillars.
To quote one more sentence: “Happiness is as much a state of doing as it is a state of mind.” This then is a book about bringing happiness into being rather than merely wishing for it.
The Happy Uprising can be had on Kindle for a very reasonable price (depending on your location), by clicking here.
Many people work hard to get promoted and sometimes it takes years. Once that rise in pay eventually comes they feel entitled to “spoil” themselves “a little.” That home renovation that they put on hold, new clothes and various other little things all now seem possible. The peril is that it’s possible more because a higher salary enables higher debt repayments: it’s not so much that a pay increase brings forth a sudden increase in a person’s cash holding.
A higher salary simply magnifies the spending habits a person already has. If they are accustomed to purchasing on debt, then they just buy more stuff on their credit cards or increase their mortgage. The bigger paycheck acts as collateral. The taste of better food, clothes and cars becomes intoxicating and using any of that extra money to save or reduce debt becomes a distant sentiment. The salary-consumption-debt cycle continues and in fact intensifies as a person’s cravings and materialistic aspirations increase even faster than the size of their paycheck: They’ve tasted a BMW 3 series, now let’s aim for the 5 series. As a result, debt as a percentage of earnings can increase when a person earns more.
This is how an increase in pay usually leads to increased dependence on your job. Ironically the things you buy can literally be referred to as the trappings of success.
Yet, a pay rise presents a golden opportunity to increase your margin of safety and set yourself up for greater things. You can eliminate your debt: imagine having a positive net worth. Now while having no debt is always a lovely thing, I will also admit it sounds a bit boring. But with the extra cash you can save towards opening a business or creating some sort of venture of your own. At worst you can contribute more towards a retirement fund, which would usher in earlier retirement for you. Sure you can spend some of your increase on toys and life’s finer things, but most of your new-found money (I recommend 80 percent) should go to either:
a) Debt repayment
b) Savings or,
Getting worked to the bone is the new normal
Let’s face it: an employee earns every cent of their salary. Companies extract all they can out of you. With that promotion comes an increase in workload and responsibility. You can’t keep working at the level you currently do forever. Time takes it’s toll and I’ve often seen it on aged former colleagues. They struggle to keep working at the pace management demands and by then it’s too late for them to do anything but wait for retirement to come.
No job in this day and age is secure either. You can be promoted today and retrenched next year. I’m not trying to incite paranoia, but with globalization, ever-increasing automation and the desire to relentlessly cut costs, all companies are always on the lookout for where they can get things done cheaper.
Robots are reducing the need for people on assembly lines. If you have a desk job you’re competing with educated, job-hungry people across the world, many of them willing to do what you do for half the pay. This is a fact of the new global economy, so instead of shackling yourself to your job by buying more stuff, you should use the money from any increase to pave a new way forward.
Heavy rain hits a town and people are advised by authorities to urgently evacuate. An elderly man is sitting on his porch watching the rain come down, when his neighbor packing his vehicle notices him. The neighbor approaches the elderly man to suggest that he packs his essentials up and moves out, to which the old man replies: “Don’t worry, God will save me.” Then just before leaving the neighbor offers the old man a place in his car, but the old man simply waves his neighbor off and wishes him well.
As the water level rises, the elderly man finds himself going upstairs because the ground floor is now flooded. Rescuers arrive on a boat, but he turns them away proclaiming that God will be the one who saves him. A few hours later a helicopter scouring for survivors notices the old man on the roof of his house, about to be engulfed by a river of water in minutes. The helicopter drops a rope ladder and a rescue worker promptly climbs down. Yet again the old man simply says: “I will be fine, God will save me.”
Minutes later his house is submerged and the old man drowns. In heaven he encounters God and is anxious to know why God left him in his time of need. “I placed all my faith in you and you let me drown. Why didn’t you save me?” God responded, “My child, I sent your neighbor, a boat and a helicopter to save you. I tried to save you three times.”
Often you have opportunities and half-chances presented to you, but if you’re too rigid in the way you expect them to occur you will be oblivious to them. Such people often refer to themselves as “unlucky.” You can control the way you act, but the cosmic intelligence which bends coincidences and circumstances in your favor seldom manifests events in line with your limited expectations. Don’t bother trying to predict how things will occur, rather learn to notice when they occur. The one who is open minded enough to recognize this is the one many would refer to as “lucky.”
As is the case with absolutely any verdict, policy or bill passed in America, the voice of dissent towards the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Obamacare was large and vocal. In the U.S., they call it socialism when the government gives anything for “free” to some sector of the population. Conversely when government helps the private sector (like the General Motors bailout or any deregulation), they are “in the back pockets of corporate America.” When it comes to their government, no developed nation is as polarized as the U.S.
For a minute, look past budgetary constraints, politics and even your sense of whether this bill is right or wrong. Note this comment made by an anonymous lady on Reddit:
"I cried. My uterine cancer is back, and on the off chance I survive, or decide to treat it, I would never, ever have been able to get private insurance again. There aren’t words for how grateful I am."
This isn’t me trying to drum up support for Obamacare. What is hard to fathom is how Americans cannot agree to unite and prioritize something as fundamental as affordable healthcare for all. What’s scary is the number of misinformed people that believe sweeping statements like the ones below:
While America debates, the world is moving on In Thailand, where the gross domestic product per person is a fifth of America’s, just 1% of the population lacks health insurance. China is busy completing a $124 billion program that will see 90 percent of its residents covered. ”This is truly a global movement,” said Dr. Julio Frenk, a former health minister in Mexico and dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. “As countries advance, they are realizing that creating universal healthcare systems is a necessity for long-term economic development.”
While America haggles ad nauseam over the issue, it is getting left behind by the rest of the world. "This country can’t afford it"
So the greatest concern from those opposing this bill stems from America’s ability to afford such an extensive system. Their concern however is misdirected. This is an issue of humanity, and money should not be the determinant of who gets to live and who gets denied access to treatment. Access to healthcare is a basic human right. There are certain pillars any civilised society should deem sacred: education and healthcare for all are the first two that come to mind.
Government spends according to its budget, and the budget is a balancing act where the items of the highest priority get the most money.
The real question people should ask then, is not whether healthcare reform is something America can afford or not; but rather what the U.S. needs to reduce or give up to ensure that it happens.
The attitude of citizens needs to be that affordable access to healthcare must happen one way or another. It must become a non-negotiable pillar like the right to freedom of speech. That’s how it is in countries like France and the Nordic nations. American citizens have been lax on demanding something they should have had decades ago.
It’s well known America spends more money than any other nation on its military. What you may not know is the U.S. spends more on military than the next ten countries combined. Were its priorities straight, it could afford to give all 300 million of its citizens world class healthcare, with ease.
"You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have."
- Oscar Pistorius
After winning at will against fellow handicapped athletes, South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius sought a place in the Summer Olympics. His fight for the right to compete against able bodied athletes failed in 2008, where it was contested that his carbon fibre prosthetic legs would give him an unfair advantage over runners with “normal” legs.
Having finally won the right to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius then proceeded to come out dead last in the 400 metre semi finals, running the slowest time of all 15 semi finalists.
It is certain he knew beforehand that he wouldn’t make the final race, much less win a medal. An athlete times himself every time he trains, and well before a race knows what range of placings he is eligible for. In spite of this knowledge, still Pistorius fought to compete against the world’s best runners, who in fact were the ones with an insurmountable advantage over him: Prosthetic legs cannot muster the acceleration and master direction change like human legs can.
Pistorius is the king of handicapped athletes, yet he insisted on entering the lion’s den. Was it for his ego? Unlikely, because no doubt he knew he wouldn’t even get a podium. Looking at all possible motives, the most plausible one is he simply did this to show others that disability and disadvantage should never dissuade you from doing something you want. What a message this must have sent to both the physically impaired and able around the world.
He didn’t just go against odds or merely rise from adversity. The story of Oscar Pistorius is different: he displayed a level of courage that transcends all rationality. He is an athlete who fought for the right to compete and lose. I personally heard someone say, “He wasted his time fighting for years only to go there and come out last.”
Most people are afraid of giving it everything out of fear that they will realise they aren’t good enough. We’re especially afraid of looking incompetent in front of others. But every time such fears grip you, ask yourself what the world remembers: the story of Oscar Pistorius or the rumblings of his detractors?