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What is the best thing you've looked forward to in your life?Getting my medical license.The process is so painful that sometimes I feel like stabbing myself in the heart and gouging my eye out, and jumping off a bridge at the same time. And the most frustrating part of it is that there’s not a single thing I can do to speed things up.The website isn’t very user friendly.They request way too many documents. Like, you need to submit 6 different things to prove your citizenship. Can’t it be assumed that if the Federal Government gave me a passport, they know that it’s because I’m a citizen? Can’t it also safely be assumed that if I graduated from a residency program, I must have graduated from a medical school at some point?The website doesn’t tell you everything you need to send. After you’ve filled out the application online, there is a PDF you’re supposed to find somewhere. The PDF was the old application form. You’d fill it out by hand or by editing the PDF. If you did that, you’d see an number of appendices that told you what other documentation you were supposed to supply. But if you apply online, there’s nothing to let you know what you’re missing. So, you have to call them. When you do, they tell you that you need a bunch of stuff you’d never have guessed: a background check, forms you’re supposed to submit to your residency programs, etc. Why not put that in the online application?Then, after you do all that, you might wonder if your file is complete. So, you call. They’ll tell you that your application hasn’t been processed yet. How long till it gets processed? 3 to 4 weeks! So, they won’t even look at your file for 3 to 4 weeks. And, 3 to 4, of course, means 4. Then, when they look at your file, it might even be week 5 by the time they respond to you. At that point, they’ll tell your that your file is missing some stuff.You ask for clarification about the missing stuff, because you’re pretty sure you’ve already sent it. You hear nothing back for a week. You call them, only to hear that they thought they’d emailed you what you were supposed to fill out… You submit what they’re asking for, having wasted another week waiting. Then, they tell you that your file has been submitted for final approval. YAY!Then you’re told that, since you used to be a nurse, you should also submit a nursing license verification. Okay, no biggie, you think. You did a similar thing for Iowa a few years back. You’ll just go online and have the state of Michigan send the state of Tennessee some information about the nursing license that expired 6 years ago.You get on the Michigan website, and things are so disorganized that you can’t for the life of you figure out how to submit the verification request. Oh, and the process has changed. In 2015, you could use the Nursys verification site. But Michigan has pulled out of this process, because… just because. Now, you have to call during business hours, realize that you’re supposed to download and fill out a form, attach a money order (you can’t pay online anymore), and mail it to a P.O. Box.You do that, sending it by express mail. You call the next day to see if it’s been received. Now you’re told that if you want to send things by express mail, there’s another address you should have sent it to, an address that was never communicated to you when you talked to the Michigan people on the phone. You learn that sending mail to the P.O. Box means that it will sit there for a week, after which it will be processed by the Cashier’s office/Finance office/Treasury office, then slowly make its way to the Bureau of Licensing… this process might take 2 weeks. At this point, you’ve sent your initial application 8 weeks before. You wonder why it is that the process couldn’t be more streamlined. Why couldn’t they be a uniform process for all states? Why couldn’t they at least be a central database where healthcare providers could send their documentation, so that whenever they apply for licensing in a new state, that state can immediately receive all the relevant documentation. You’re powerless. You try to think of other things you might do.You remember that Iowa must have a copy of your nursing verification license. You wonder if you could talk to them and see if they’d share it with you. You’re told that they will emphatically not release the document to you. Why? Who knows. Anyway, they might consider releasing it to the Tennessee people if they are contacted directly by their Medical Board. You sheepishly ask the people in Tennessee if they’d be willing to contact Iowa, giving them a phone number, email, and fax number, knowing full well that it will be to no avail.You decide that maybe, if you were to track down the cashier’s office in Michigan, you could fly there and make the payment in person, in a bid to speed up the processing of your license verification request. It’s after hours now, so you can’t be sure. There’s a plane early in the morning. You could fly to Detroit, rent a car, drive to Lansing, and give it a shot. But… what if it doesn’t work? You decide to wait until the morning and call the office to see if getting there in person would make a difference. You are told that it is impossible to make a payment in person, because… rules. There’s literally not a damn thing you can do.And that, my friends, is the story of my life right now. The most frustrating part of this saga is that not only can I not work, but I’m sort of homeless right now. Let me explain. A while back, I bid on a house. I used what is called a physician loan. What my lender did not tell me is that you need an active medical license. So, we were a week from the closing date before I learned this. At this point, I had three options:Walk away from the home purchase and rent. This wouldn’t have been a terrible idea.Prolong my temporary lease at the place I was renting. I would not do this because I hated, hated, hated them with their nickle-and-diming tactics.Wait for my license.I opted for number 3, because I thought it couldn’t take much longer until I’d get my license. My belongings are currently in storage. I’m staying with my sister in Florida. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone in human life, but it’s still really frustrating. The only bright spot is that I get to spend time with my family. I have a nephew and two nieces here that I hadn’t seen in 9 months. They’re growing so very fast. I am constantly peppering them with mental math questions, but they seem to love me for some reason. So, all in all, things could be worse.
If my attorney stops responding halfway through my divorce paperwork, what is the process of hiring a new one?If my current attorney stinks, can I hire a new one?Great question. And one that many clients are afraid to ask (or afraid to get an answer). But the answer is good news:You are not stuck with the attorney you started out with.Yes, you can fire your attorney.I’ve made two videos about the power and freedom you have to fire an attorney you’re not satisfied with:Unless your attorney is so bad (i.e., doing you more harm than good) that you’d be better off with no attorney than another moment with the bad attorney, it’s best that you not fire your current attorney before you have found an attorney you want to replace your current attorney.Once you have found the attorney you want to replace your current attorney, you hire the new attorney, and then notify your old attorney that he/she has been replaced.If you’re uncomfortable with telling your attorney yourself, "You're fired," then you can ask your new attorney to break the news. Your new attorney is permitted to do so (and your new attorney should have no objection to doing so). Make sure it’s in writing too.Your new attorney will then give notice to the opposing party and the court of the substitution of counsel, so that everyone in the case is aware of the change.Replacing your attorney is your right, it's not hard, and if you have a lousy attorney, you should replace your attorney with a good one as soon as possible. Your attorney is your representative, and if your attorney is doing a bad job, then your attorney is making you look bad. Bear in mind that I practice divorce and family law in Utah, so make sure you learn the rules in your jurisdiction, but the principles should be similar in most jurisdictions (and note: while I am the one who wrote the script for these videos, the man in the video is Brian Godfrey, who was my legal assistant at the time).
Is Canada like America’s little brother? I've heard that if an Army tried to invade Canada, that America would attack them.Is Canada like America’s little brother? I've heard that if an Army tried to invade Canada, that America would attack them.This question begs the question, HOW? The only land border Canada has with anyone is The United States of America. Using conventional methods and weapons, an invading country would have to make landfall and under those conditions, they are very restrictive and exposes the invader to great risks.If it did happen, America would not come to Canada’s aid as a friend. It would come to protect its national security. The Americans use Canada as a buffer state between Russia and China.So as much as Canadians would like to think that America is their big brother, it isn’t so.Actually, after having been attacked by the United States in 1775 and 1812–14, and subject to invasion plans by the 1930s infamous Red War Plan, Canada has come to America’s rescue a number of times. America, just once and limited to private donations.Canada is no little brother to anyone. I would like to paste this quote from the UK Telegraph article that was published shortly after a number of Canadian infantrymen were, in my opinion, murdered by a reckless American fighter pilot who acted against orders.The country the world forgot - againBy Kevin Myers The Telegraph-UK 12:01AM BST 21 Apr 2002UNTIL the deaths last week of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a US warplane in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops were deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will now bury its dead, just as the rest of the world as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored. Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.That is the price which Canada pays for sharing the North American Continent with the US, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts. For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: it seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Yet its purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10 per cent of Canada's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, its unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular memory as somehow or other the work of the "British". The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone. Canada finished the war with the third largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world.The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time. Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign which the US had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.So it is a general rule that actors and film-makers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer British. It is as if in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakeably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1 per cent of the world's population has provided 10 per cent of the world's peace-keeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peace-keepers on earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peace-keeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.Yet the only foreign engagement which has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.So who today in the US knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan? Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost.This weekend four shrouds, red with blood and maple leaf, head homewards; and four more grieving Canadian families know that cost all too tragically well.
How do you fill out a car accidet release form, and what purpose does it serve?If this is a release given to you by the insurance company, it is a contract regarding your settlement. You are agreeing to accept a stated amount of money in exchange for releasing all claims arising out of the accident. After you sign the release and send it back to the insurance company, they will send you a check for the stated amount. The release ends the claim.If that is not what you meant, or if you have other detailed questions, please elaborate.
What are the common mistakes that seed-funded startup founders make?I raised $500,000 at 19. I was on my way to change the world. Three years later everything burned down.This post is not about how to shoot for the stars or run a company. Others are better at that.This is about what not to do.I’ve made every mistake possible. But ironically, I’m constantly meeting teams doing the exact same things that caused my first startup to implode. Everything I’m writing about I’ve experienced first hand through my own startups as well as various businesses I’ve been involved in. It’s been all my fault and this is my story.Some of you will disagree with me. Others will have things to add. I’m happy to discuss in the comments.Here’s my attempt.ZUCKERBERG SYNDROMMy girlfriend didn’t know what I was working on for nine months. I slept with a chair blocking the front door. My phone was tapped. Corporate America and Uncle Sam were listening. Someone was going to kill me to steal the idea.I really believed this. So I did everything possible (literally) to avoid getting feedback out of the fear of having our idea stolen.Ultimately, secrecy and stupidity killed us. Three years and hundreds of thousands later, we released an alpha version to a modest 30 people for the first time. Everyone hated it. Our capital was gone. Our morale: zero.I see this all the time. Startup founders hiding their ideas because of the fear that someone will steal it. Remember: no one cares about you. Your biggest issue is getting discovered. If someone steals your idea, that means you’re doing something right.Because of this syndrome, most startups are wasting their time and money building products no one wants. Why? Lack of testing. The biggest mistake a company can make (product wise) is to avoid talking to and testing with potential and current users. Every day. It’s also one of the main reasons startup’s fail.If you’re not constantly releasing and looking for feedback you’re either a) delusional (me) thinking too many people will sign up/buy your product and you won’t be able to scale b) scared that it’s not good enough (me) or c) someone will steal your idea (as I was).A. SCALING“Your priority, in short, is proving that people will use your product at all. If they won’t, then it won’t matter if you can’t scale. If they will, then you will figure out a way to scale. I’ve never seen a startup die because it couldn’t scale fast enough. I’ve seen hundreds of startups die because people refused to embrace their product.” — Guy Kawasaki [Emphasis mine]I’ve done this and I’ve experienced this in the past three startups I’ve worked in. It’s completely delusional. If five out of five people tell you that they wouldn’t use your product (before you build), quit. If eight out of ten people tell you that they hate this feature and you empirically see that they’re not using it, kill it. Don’t assume. Always be testing.More on feedback below.b. TESTINGSee point A.C. STEALING(!)No one will steal your idea. It takes time, money, skills and immorality to steal. Not everyone is born that lucky.Most importantly, no one cares about your idea.They’ll only start caring when there’s a massive amount of initial traction (50,000+ users). By then, you’ve already established a strong user/customer base and it’s too late for the others.HIRING FOR WEAKNESSOnly hire for a strength that needs to be filled in your company. Never for a weakness.Not once did any of the startups I worked in hire for a strength. I repetitively recommended hiring people purely out of loneliness, fear and scarcity repetitively. Each time it sunk us deeper.But what does that mean?Hiring for a weakness means that you attempt to fill a weakness in the fundamenetals in your company by hiring for a weakness. Example: If you’re building a product and it’s not gaining traction and your company doesn’t have inherent fundamentals, hiring Ryan Holiday to sell your product won’t help. You can’t fight weakness with weakness.However, if you have a rockstar engineering team and you want to add a marketing person to help take the product get to another level, then you’re adding a strength.Hiring for weakness also means:a. You hire a B+ player instead of a A+ player.b. You hire people so that they go through the struggle with you, so that they share your fears and paranoia. Not so they execute on what’s needed.c. Hiring someone to fill a position. Not to compliment the rest of the company.d. Hiring someone and not having any idea of what the hell you want them to do.e. It means hiring someone because you think there’s no one else. Scarcity.f. Hiring a client’s friend. Because you’re scared.It’s ultimately about the fundamentals. If the fundamentals of the product and the team aren’t there, adding someone is just adding a weakness. It won’t help, because it’s not a strength.PAINTER’S DILEMMAApproving emails? One week treks. Our first wireframes? $40K and four months. Did we have a working product after all this? No. We failed.The Painter’s Dilemma is when you’re so deep in the details of your project that you don’t even know what the idea is anymore. You’re blind. When you’re too deep you need help.How to solve it? Stop. Talk to people. Get feedback. Iterate and build. Release. Breathe.Repeat the loop.The more feedback you get the healthier you and your product are.FEEDBACK*I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t get feedback (everyday) you will die. I never got feedback. EVER. Well, until the cash ran out. Oops.If you’re not getting qualitiative and quantitive feedback/data everyday, the cancer will start.It’s easy: speak to people, Google Analytics, send surveys. Just don’t hide from it.*This is the crucial and worth a dedicated blog post in the future.COMMUNICATE“Don’t talk to him, he doesn’t understand. He’s out of the picture next funding round anyways.” I hid everything internally. It was easy, we were in 5 different countries! Our developers were remote (I’ll get to that) and Basecamp was our only means of communication. In other startups, I wouldn’t included people from discussions because “it isn’t necessary. That isn’t their job”New features, awful designs, conniving plans were all pushed through a funnel. I was the leader of the deceiving. Architecting a blue print to push my own delusional “never test and succeed” agenda. My style? The longer the email the less likely someone important will read it. What a strategy. As always, the CEO is the biggest idiot.I don’t care if you’re a church, a tech startup or a non-profit. If you don’t have a system of communication in place that keeps everyone aware of what everyone is doing in the company, in real-time, for every milestone, everyday, you will die very soon.Lesson: Live and breath Scrum.SCREW LAWYERSLawyers are criminals.I spent $15,000 on legal documents/fees we never used. Every entrepreneur/startup I’m involved with thinks lawyers are the first step to success. Bullshit.DOCSAll the legal documents you ever need are available online. If you’re B2B, all companies that you’ll work with have their own standard LOEs, NDAs, etc., that they anyways steal from Fortune 500 companies. Request it. Then use it. B2C? Here.BUT I NEED A TRADEMARK!Unless you have 10,000 clients you don’t need to think about copyright or even the name. Prove the concept first. Worry later. If you do have to worry, those are very nice worries to have.PATENT IT!Patenting something that isn’t validated with at least 10,000 clients is moronic. Ironically, this is the only mistake my first startup didn’t follow through with (fully, at least).DECISION MAKINGI was traumatized from taking decisions. Most startups never take decisions. In other statups I work in, decisions took weeks. People join startups for the reason of avoiding bureaucracy but everyone still does it. Why? Lack of trust and overview of the team, so they choke the process (have I suggested Scrum?).The board should decide on the vision and the group should decide what to execute on by creating a backlog for the week. The team should then have the power to execute it. With a great communication process in place, teammates should be able to take decisions without reporting to anyone while keeping everyone updated with everything’s that going on, live. Have a flat structure to achieve this by using Scrum.Let people do their jobs. Trust them. Don’t have a tedious review process as most startups do. Don’t suffocate the system. Empower your people.Read Scrum by Jeff Sutherland on how to manage your team. Then read Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal for how to organize the information flow. Both books compliment each other perfectly.THE BOARDThe ideal board is 3–5 people maximum if you’re a startup. Anything above that means that either no decisions will ever be taken (my first company) or someone has a hidden agenda and profits from a discombobulated board.A business is not a democracy. Unanimous decisions don’t work and will never work.Who’s should I put on the Board?Only investors/shareholders who hold a large stake and are extremely active in the success of your venture.INVESTORSSmart Money vs Still MoneyJust because someone is offering you cash almost always means you shouldn’t accept it.Your investor can have the greatest contacts in the pharmecutical industry. She can be CEO of Merck. If she doesn’t have a massive network in whatever industry you’re in, it’s worthless. The money will be worth nothing. This is true 100% of the time.Always onboard investors that can help you in your niche industry.MEETINGSThis is my top 3 favorites. Most won’t agree with me on this.I’ve never been to a meeting that has made me money/funded my venture. I don’t think anyone has. Has anyone ever handed you a check at a meeting? I doubt it. Today, it usually happens by wire-transfer.Meetings are pointless. Every team I meet, consult for/work with all think that going to meetings is the most crucial part of business. Most importantly, the whole team should be there. Pick up the fucking phone. Travel is time and money expensive. Even if you’re taking a cab.I would fly 10,000 miles for a 3 hour meeting and then fly back to Europe that same day. $30K. Gone.“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: ‘meetings.’” - Dave BarryMost of the discussion can be ironed out over email and FaceTime.Ok yes, I agree. Meeting in person is important. But not until it’s necessary. Most of the time, it’s unecessary. And even when it is, it shouldn’t always be an excuse to leave work for a business lunch or to Shanghai for the day.Avoid meetings. Get more done.It’s a waste of time 99% of the time.FOUNDING PARTNERS = YOUR SPOUSEYou will be married to your partners and investors for the next 7–10 years. Choose wisely.Know your team. Speak to your investor’s enemies. Get references for everyone.Don’t be a deceiver. Use Scrum.WORKING HOURSWe worked 16 hour days. Yey! Startup life!No. Work 8–10 hours and you’ll get more done than working 18 hours a day. Don’t believe me. It’s proven.Working 18 hour days leads to a burn out, which leads to painter’s dilemma, then delusion, then deceiving others around you, then depression. Then it’s too late.Ultimately, the more you work the more mistakes you’re prone to make. Mistakes made are mistakes that need to be corrected. Mistakes that aren’t correct can take up to 24x longer to correct than if they were corrected immediately.But you can’t see that. You’re burned out. You’re in Painter.PRODUCT / MARKET VALIDATIONAnother reason I refused to test in the three product startups I was involved in was because “the ideas work successfully elsewhere. They will also work here.” Doesn’t work like that.Just because you’re making a mishmash of several products that have product/market validation elsewhere doesn’t mean people are willing to use your product. I have yet to meet a new founder who hasn’t claimed this.In order for someone to switch to your product, your product needs to be at least 8x better.*Is your product really 8x better than your biggest competitor? If the answer isn’t a clear yes, quit.*Read Hooked by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover for how to build habit forming products.RECREATING THE WHEEL“God gave you eyes, so plagarize.” -Michael LewisNo need to re-create the wheel. Everything is out there already for a reason. Use APIs, read books (many books), steal functions, designs, ideas, marketing slogans, branding, on boarding processes, software, colors, clients, everything from other people/companies who are successful.This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test it in your own environment. You must validate every single function that you put out there. Use the Lean Startup KanBan by Ash Maurya for this.DILUTIONWe gave away 51% for our first funding round. How much did we plan to keep when we “exited?” Think about that. It doesn’t make sense.Startups do this all the time. If you retain 51% after the seed round, how much does the founding team plan to keep by Series B? 20%? If you take the average of what you got paid for equity after the exit + your salary you’ll be paying more in taxes with a minimum wage paycheck for the past 8 years it took you to exit. Might as well work in a shoe store.If you don’t have the bargaining power (a validated product) to raise money with, quit.GUYS IN SUITSOur tech partners wore suits. That made us comfortable. They ended up quoting $100k. We ended up with nothing.If you see tech people in suits, run.OUTSOURCINGI lost well over $100,000 for our first version that was outsourced. We were smart enough to not learn from our mistakes so we found another team to outsource with. Another hefty sum gone. Only myself to blame.I’ve had terrible experiences with outsourcing and great experiences with in-house development.However, many products (we all use everyday) have found great success in outsourcing. I also know many entrepreneurs who outsource and are extremely succesful. While there are massive benefits, there are also downfalls. If you plan to, find a free consulting company that has pre-screened teams.Either way, using Scrum increases your chances of success in-house or out.YOUR TEAMEntrepreneurs read about Steve Jobs’ management style and think he was a tyrant. So they curse at their employees and tell everyone that they are “shit.” They think that’s how a company should be run and that’s how teammates should be treated. Wrong. Treat your team like shit and you’ll get shit.Either way, that’s not how Steve Jobs did it. Steve Jobs empowered his team. He told them that what they’re outputting is shit because he knew that they could do better. Because they are the best in the industry. He made them feel good. He challenged them and today Apple is Apple because of that.On the other hand, I lied. Didn’t speak about the hard things and repressed whatever fear or worry we had. We were scared that someone would quit or that we would look bad if we showed our emotions in front of our investors.You should always be able to tell your teammates all the fears and worries you have. Chances are, if you’re worried about something, everyone is worried about the same thing. Bring it up. Talk about it. I keep mentioning Scrum* because it encourages team members telling each other what’s bothering them and what’s impending the growth progress. This is key to not failing.Not once, in any of the startups I was in, did I or others get credit for great work or for their ideas that ended up being implemented. Not once did anyone congratualte a teammate on a engineering triumph, a beautiful design or a new lead. Startups think “business is business. This isn’t a cute place to pat each other on the backs.”BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT A BUSINESS SHOULD BE. You should be holding each other up, helping one another and listening to the problems in the team. Because ultimately, you’re on the same mission.The second the negativity flows in people become scared. They stop raising issues, telling you how they feel and how to improve the business. When that happens you start to slowly die because you’ve fell into dillusion that everything is working. Six months later, you’re on the street.Empower your team. Congratulate people. Love each other. When someone screws up, tell them that. But also tell them how to improve and ask them why they think they screwed up and how to make their job easier.You’re a team. Be one.*Believe it or not, I’m not affiliated with Scrum in anyway. I’m not even a Scrum Master.—When I reflect on all the stupidity I’ve personally done and the startups I’ve been involved in, I realize that the only thing I ever followed up through and executed with absolute perfection, were the things that eventually ended up killing us: not telling a soul what our idea was. Talking to lawyers. Partnering with bad teams. Hiring out of weakness. Going to too many meetings. No decision making system. Not using Scrum. Hiring people out of fear. Hiding from reality.Mistakes are simple to make but hard to correct. They’re usually the first option that pops up. But as entrepreneurs we do thing because they’re hard, not because they’re easy.Hard choices take a long time to get right. It takes guts, intuition, experience and lots of luck. But never settle. Never accept your situation.Life can always be better.…..This was originally posted on the NY Observer and our blog on Penta.Follow me @lukaivicev or contact me directly at email@example.com.
What course of action do I take to become a copywriter?So you wanna learn how to become a copywriter my junior friend? Well it’s very possible. In fact, there’s really no formal education you need. Some of the top-paid copywriters in the world never went to college or took a writing class!No education!No formal training!!Make lots of money!!!…..now before you start getting crazy, let me step you back into the reality of becoming a copywriter:1.) What Is Copywriting?Copywriting is essentially moving words around to sell better.Let’s say I work for a company that has a webpage which gets 1 out of 500 visitors to buy something.If I was a copywriter, I would figure out how to make 1 out of 100 of those people buy. This means 5x more sales from the SAME webpage!A good copywriter will understand how to do this with their words, and also how to re-arrange pictures and buttons to get more sales.A good copywriter is not just a writer. They are a keen studier of the human psychology behind purchase decisions!2.) Understand why people hire copywriters:Think of the huge amount of content a lot of companies have to put out.A single insurance company will have to put out all this stuff:Ads on TVAds on the internetAds on radioBrochures for B2C salesBrochures for B2B salesBrochures for every different productForms to fill outForms to fill out for various different product linesGoogle adsFacebook adsUpdate their TwitterUpdate their Facebook pageMake content for their websiteMake the content for their website about each different productMake sure their content is convertingMake sure customers understand how to signupSend customers packets explaining their policyHave scripts for their sales people to followHave scripts for their customer support people to followWrite press releasesThe list goes on and on and on and on…Allllll of these things need to get written by or looked over by a copywriter. And that’s just a single example! Some companies will rely heavily on copywriters. Some companies (like 37Signals) require ALL members of the team to be great writers before they ever start.So people will pay a copywriter good money to handle these things for them. But YOU my young friend, need to understand that to get that money, you need to keep relationships within those companies that need those services.How to Get Clients As a Freelance Copywriter:This is by far the biggest question I get. And people seem to forget one thing:Establishing yourself as a freelance copywriter is the same as building a business from the ground up.You’ve got to put in LOTS of effort in the beginning, show talent, and not expect immediate riches. There’s no free lunches here boys and girls.A lot of people get entranced by the prospect of working from their laptop from anywhere in the world as copywriter. In fact people go nuts when I post pictures like this from various locations!Since all my copywriting business is conducted from a laptop, I can take off and go work from the beach.Or if I wanted to drum up an extra $10,000 really quick …..I can just devote some of my hours to copywriting gigs.But these luxuries are the result of hard work, actual results, and existing exposure.This won’t happen overnight for most copywriters. And probably NEVER will for a lot of them. However I’ll share some of the ways I’ve personally seen people get amazing (and high paid) copywriting gigs:METHOD #1.) Becoming popular on the web as a copywriter.If you become known as a famous copywriting figure, you will build instant credibility.And if you have high credibility, you can ask for more money.So how did I build credibility for my copywriting career?Building Copywriting Credibility Step 1.) Practicing what you psignNow:I originally ran a couple of businesses starting from high school, and I first applied some copywriting techniques to the email list I had.METHOD #2.) Becoming popular in a specific nicheSo a lot of lower-end copywriters will insist “I can write everything!” But in reality they should niche down when they start. For example, if you worked for a big health company and did a lot of writing for them, you should call yourself a copywriter that specializes in the health space.This will make it easier to gain credibility in a specific area.You probably wouldn’t super-trust the guy who mows your lawn for financial advice…..however you REALLY might take his advice on how to hedge bushes and get a clean line on the edge of a lawn.He has very specific advice, and lots of experience practicing what he’s talking about.Instead of being “just a copywriter” ….it would be better if you were “A female copywriter who specializes in talking to 1st time expecting mothers.”It would be best to hang out and network in places where people are selling stuff to 1st time expectant mothers. If someone need a copywriter, and you have experience in EXACTLY their niche…..guess who has a high chance of getting the gig??My personal niche started out with smaller companies and daily deals. Then moved into medium sized businesses.However if someone approached me to write for 1st time expectant mothers, I could DO It……but I don’t have experience and can’t exactly relate to the struggles of that demographic. So I try to stick to my area of expertise so I can deliver the maximum results.METHOD #3.) Becoming popular for big companiesTHIS method can apply to certain people, and be quite lucrative.Let’s say you worked for a big company in the marketing department and you were exposed to how a big marketing department tests & releases products.If you were to build a nice little network in the same industry, and then become a consultant with a VERY SPECIFIC expertise, then you get some other big companies to fork over A LOT of money.Smaller freelance gigs can pay a few hundred dollars. But a huge corporation who is a doing an 8+ month rollout of $100,000,000+ product will pay you some phat-ass cash to ensure they do it right.Now I personally probably couldn’t get one of these gigs because I’ve never worked inside a huge company. That means I lose major credibility because I’ve never walked the walk.But if you do have some very niche experience within a big corporation and had a few big wins, you might be able to become a very highly-sought-after consultant.The cool part is you only need a few good contacts for this.I know someone who wrote an oil-management program in the 70’s that’s still used today. Till this day he gets sweet-ass gigs from multiple companies JUST to be around if anyone needs help implementing it.Since the projects he consults for are $2billion+ …..the companies don’t mind shelling out major cash just to keep him around.Boring? Yes.Sweet cash flow? Yes.This is one of the benefits of working with a big company:You know how to implement projects within a large company. That is actually a rare skill.METHOD #4.) Get small-time gigs.Now there are some other ways to get copywriting gigs, but I’ve never seen anyone who consistently made big money doing these things alone, so I’ll just list them quickly:Posting on Fiverr for copywriting gigs.You’ll definitely get some leads this way, but your clients will usually be bargain-hunters and not HUGE jobs.Posting on Craigslist as a copywriter for hire. This will generally result in corporate copywriter jobs that are relatively low-paying ($35,000 – $45,000).Posting on UpWork as a copywriter for hire. This will get you small to medium gigs. It’s not my favorite wayMETHOD #5.) Post in Facebook Groups where people can use copywriting services.I think this one is the easiest. Just go to groups like The Cult of Copy Job Board that you are offering your services for a one-time low price of $xxxxx and that you’re for hire.A lot of times people will bite.People also constantly post gigs there such as:Not all the gigs will be good, but some will.In the beginning you will have to scrape together gigs, but if you start putting all your work inside a simple portfolio, you can gain some steam. Which brings me to :Make a Simple Copywriting Portfolio!Ok, listen to me carefully young buck:You DO NOT NEED a fancy website. In fact, I’ve never never ever seen someone get a copywriting gig directly from their portfolio. EVER!!The reason is: people are looking to hire you based on your skills at copywriting. Not “how fancy your website looks.” This is a common mistake. Look how crappy my copywriting consults page is. That page generates huge returns even though it sucks super bad. The desire to buy is created from previous exposure to me, NOT the way the page looks.People will spend months and lots of money and time on a fancy website, only to realize NO ONE IS COMING TO IT. The only people going there are the people they meet directly and tell to go there.The best type of copywriting portfolio is a simple page with the following elements:Your name.Your expertise (Social Media? Landing Pages? A/B Testing?).A few examples of your work.How they can book a session with you.I know it sounds counterintuitive, but some of the best copywriting pages I’ve EVER SEEN are super simple one’s like this:See how simple that is?It also only leaves them ONE option of what to do next, and that’s to book a session with you.These sessions should generally be a minimum of $100.If a client is not willing to pay at least $100 for a consultation session where you point out everything wrong with their page, they are NOT going to buy anyways.My minimum consultation session is $597 now. And I’ve learned the hard way that if people are not willing to pay it, they are not going to be willing to pay you more (or they just simply can’t afford it).Oddly enough, the more I charge for each hour session, the more respect and compliance I get from the client! They want to make SURE they get their money out of that session , so they ensure they show up on time and show up prepared.I would personally avoid doing free sessions. Because what generally happens is:1.) Everyone gets excited about working together.2.) You setup a meeting with this “prospective client”.3.) You prepare for the meeting and draw up a proposal.4.) You talk with the client and tell them what you’re going to do for them.5.) They tell you “let’s talk again soon after I run this by my boss.”6.) You never talk again…..and all that time was wasted.7.) You become sad and poor :-(To get people taking you seriously, you need to charge them for your time. If they decide to go for a full contract with you, then you can comp them the hour long session. However if they don’t go with you, at least you still get paid.Charging people for your time is a sure-fire way to get them to value your services.Every single successful freelance copywriter I know ALWAYS charges for their time.Some Copywriting Books for you to read:I’ve read a helluva lot of copywriting books, and these are the one’s I recommend you read to get off to a great start:BOOK 1.) Read The Gary Halbert Letters (Free) Start by reading “The Boron Letters”. Make sure you print each chapter out for maximum effect!Ch 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25You can also buy The Boron Letters directly from Amazon.BOOK 2.) If you want a book that sits on your desk and can re-cap this kourse quickly, then grab my book called “This Book Will Teach You How To Write Better” from Amazon.BOOK 3.) Read Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugarman. This book usually costs in the $30 range, but is one of my go-to books for ideas on how to position copy. Almost every successful kopywriter will know this book.BOOK 4.) Also, check out Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (great for traditional advertising advice as well)Your Next Steps To Becoming A Copywriter:I showed above in this post some good things to do first:Read the copywriting books I recommended above.Making a simple copywriting portfolio.Put yourself out there.Well my young friend, I hope this answers your question!-N
What are the most effective methods of promoting surveys online?Excellent question.I have actually written about that in the past. Let me run it down for you.We hear it all the time that you need to get feedback from your customers.Yes.But how? How do you collect feedback?The value your company places on customer feedback is what will separate you from a good or great company.“Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions” – Ken BlanchardBut feedback is only effective when you are able to get it right. In other words, feedback is helpful when you manage to get it from the right person, in a timely manner and format.Building a successful voice of the customer (VoC) program requires patience and commitment. Knowing how to unlock and read the signs of user inputs is what sets apart a surviving from a thriving company.Having such an organized program in place will ensure that your team gets the right amount of feedback, but also the true benefits of those responses.It will lead your team to define the customer experience your customers want. Yes, turns out those customer insights are effective.So, how do you promote your survey?Optimize For The Right Feedback ChannelFirst, it’s important to identify the right channel(s) to collect those feedback.Do Your HomeworkThere are different questions you can ask yourselves.Where Are Your Customers Staying?The first thing to figure out is where your customers are staying. You don’t want to send them feedback request through email if none of your customers read their email.Similarly, if you own a Facebook Group with your users, and you managed to foster a community of engaged users, you would want to get their feedback through the Facebook Group. It would save them an email in their Inbox, they would be thankful for that, but it would also feed your group with more engagement.If you are requesting SaaS feedback, ie. your customers are actual users of your application, consider using an in-app widget from tools such as Feedier to request relevant feedback.Which Channel Can You Leverage Without Coming Off as Spammy?The same way you want to be relevant to your customers, you also want to make sure that they will engage your message.Which is why following-up is key.Sending too many messages is not ideal, neither. Make sure to have a cohesive approach across the organization, and inform all your colleagues about the requests, you don’t want to sound redundant.Let’s get into the different channels you can use to get feedback from your customers.Request Feedback Response By EmailThe first channel and the most obvious one is email.Email works great when you are in regular contact through the channel and they expect to see your messages.You can ask your customer feedback question directly in the email.Make sure to A/B test email copy and subject line.33% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.Ask Customer To Fill Out a SurveyBesides asking for feedback through direct email, you can also ask your customers to fill out a survey. Consider channels such as:Website SurveyText Message SurveyIn-App SurveyDirect link to the survey through Email, Social Media, or online communitiesCustomer Support SurveyIf you are going to use a feedback survey, the first thing you want to do is identify the right customer feedback tool for your use-case.Using surveys would allow you to get more structured and organized feedback, all in one place. You could also reap the benefits of integrations with other tools such as your Customer Relationship Management software.Use a Website Feedback WidgetAs you have seen, surveying your customers can be done through different channels. One of the most effective in one-site.For instance, if you want to obtain direct feedback from your customers ordering on your website, you could trigger a pop-up on the order confirmation page.Another example is the release of a new feature in your web application. You could wait for a special event to occur and request the feedback at this point. Tools such as Intercom allow you to get feedback through chat-messaging, and tools such as Feedier would allow you to embed your feedback form in the widget.This would be obviously automated. If you have a large user base, you should consider whether you need to ask for feedback to every single customer or not.Collect Feedback From Customer Support SessionOne quick piece of feedback you can receive is immediately after a support ticket is closed.This would not only help you determine the effectiveness of your support team and their answers, but also the cadence at which your customers expect you to answer.Leverage Online Forums And Social Media FeedbackBeing active on social media and online communities is another way to get feedback, which is usually set aside.Crowdsourcing feedback on niche/industry and associated engaged and active forums works fantastically well and is frequently overlooked. An example of this in action that I’ve recently discovered is Indie Hackers and Failory In this example, it’s mainly for entrepreneurs and developers but has wider marketing and business appeal also.Lee Wilson, Head of SEO, Vertical LeapYou can not only seek feedback by engaging with communities, asking questions, and even dropping a link to your actual feedback surveys.Consider adding value to the community before immediately pushing for feedback. You don’t want to come across as too selfish.Communities such as Reddit have special requirements and a minimum number of engagements needed before being able to post. It cuts through the spam.Besides leveraging communities, you can also build an engaged base of fans on social media. Not only you can actively seek feedback, but also you can listen and wait for the feedback from your customers to come in naturally.We will touch on this in section 5.4. Ask For Feedback From Customers The Right WayBuilding a feedback machine means that you provide a cohesive customer experience. Your feedback requests seem natural to your customers, and they are able to answer them smoothly.You get what you ask for.If you are not able to ask for the right feedback question, you will not get the expected feedback.Ask For Feedback At The Right TimeThe first thing you want to do is ask time-relevant feedback. The same way you would not want to receive a Christmas offer during Summer, your customers don’t want to receive irrelevant feedback request.For instance, in the case of customer service feedback, you would want to send your request right away, as soon as the support ticket is closed. Sending the request 3 days after the ticket has been closed would not make any sense, the customer has moved on by then.The same way you would not want to ask for feedback in the middle of the checkout process, you don’t want to interrupt your customer halfway through the flow.Respect Your Customers’ TimeI hate the feeling of my time being wasted. Don’t you?Always be respectful of your customers’ time when asking for feedback.You could even be even kinder with your customers and incentivize them for their feedback, and their time.More About Survey Gamification In This ArticleThis is usually referred to as survey incentives. This is a surefire technique to build relationships with your customers and show them how much you value their time.But it also depends on what you’re asking for. If this is for simple feedback, an incentive would not be that helpful.Either way, ask straightforward questions and strive to make the customer experience as cohesive and easy as possible.
When will the SSC GD constable application form be released? How can I fill out the form?SSC GD 2018 New Offical Notification has been released on ssc official website and you can go and check there or You can also see our very exciting and enlightening video on SSC GD 2018 BELOWMODE OF SELECTION(i) The recruitment process will consist of Computer Based Examination (CBE), Physical Efficiency Test (PET), Physical Standard Test (PST) and Medical Examination.(ii) All candidates whose online applications are found to be in order will be called to appear in the Computer Based Examination. The Commission will conduct the examination for all candidates in Computer Based Mode only. Admit Cards for Computer Based Examination will be uploaded on the website of the concerned SSC Regional Office.(iii) Computer Based Examination will be held in English & Hindi only.(iv) The number of candidates shortlisted for PET/PST on the basis of merit in the Computer Based examination will be around 10 times of the number of vacanciesEducational Qualification:10th Pass from a recognized board or government authorized educational institute.AGE LIMITMinimum: 18 yearsMaximum: 23 yearsHOW TO APPLYCandidates must apply online through the website http://www.ssconline.nic.in. or 'Click here to apply' link provided at http://www.ssc.nic.in>Apply>GD-Constable.APPLICATION FEE1)Fore General/OBC candidates: Rs 1002)For all other categories: NILShiksha DriveShiकsha डrive
Do military members have to pay any fee for leave or fiancee forms?NOOOOOOO. You are talking to a military romance scammer. I received an email from the US Army that directly answers your question that is pasted below please keep reading.I believe you are the victim of a military Romance Scam whereas the person you are talking to is a foreign national posing as an American Soldier claiming to be stationed overseas on a peacekeeping mission. That's the key to the scam they always claim to be on a peacekeeping mission.Part of their scam is saying that they have no access to their money that their mission is highly dangerous.If your boyfriend girlfriend/future husband/wife is asking you to do the following or has exhibited this behavior, it is a most likely a scam:Moves to private messaging site immediately after meeting you on Facebook or SnapChat or Instagram or some dating or social media site. Often times they delete the site you met them on right after they asked you to move to a more private messaging siteProfesses love to you very quickly & seems to quote poems and song lyrics along with using their own sort of broken language, as they profess their love and devotion quickly. They also showed concern for your health and love for your family.Promises marriage as soon as he/she gets to state for leave that they asked you to pay for.They Requests money (wire transfers) and Amazon, iTune ,Verizon, etc gift cards, for medicine, religious practices, and leaves to come home, internet access, complete job assignments, help sick friend, get him out of trouble, or anything that sounds fishy.The military does provide all the soldier needs including food medical Care and transportation for leave. Trust me, I lived it, you are probably being scammed. I am just trying to show you examples that you are most likely being connned.Below is an email response I received after I sent an inquiry to the US government when I discovered I was scammed. I received this wonderful response back with lots of useful links on how to find and report your scammer. And how to learn more about Romance Scams.Right now you can also copy the picture he gave you and do a google image search and you will hopefully see the pictures of the real person he is impersonating. this doesn't always work and take some digging. if you find the real person you can direct message them and alert them that their image is being used for scamming.Good Luck to you and I'm sorry this may be happening to you. please continue reading the government response I received below it's very informative. You have contacted an email that is monitored by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Unfortunately, this is a common concern. We assure you there is never any reason to send money to anyone claiming to be a Soldier online. If you have only spoken with this person online, it is likely they are not a U.S. Soldier at all. If this is a suspected imposter social media profile, we urge you to report it to that platform as soon as possible. Please continue reading for more resources and answers to other frequently asked questions: How to report an imposter Facebook profile: Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16... < Caution-https://www.facebook.com/help/16... > Answers to frequently asked questions: - Soldiers and their loved ones are not charged money so that the Soldier can go on leave. - Soldiers are not charged money for secure communications or leave. - Soldiers do not need permission to get married. - Soldiers emails are in this format: firstname.lastname@example.org < Caution-mailto: email@example.com > anything ending in .us or .com is not an official email account. - Soldiers have medical insurance, which pays for their medical costs when treated at civilian health care facilities worldwide – family and friends do not need to pay their medical expenses. - Military aircraft are not used to transport Privately Owned Vehicles. - Army financial offices are not used to help Soldiers buy or sell items of any kind. - Soldiers deployed to Combat Zones do not need to solicit money from the public to feed or house themselves or their troops. - Deployed Soldiers do not find large unclaimed sums of money and need your help to get that money out of the country. Anyone who tells you one of the above-listed conditions/circumstances is true is likely posing as a Soldier and trying to steal money from you. We would urge you to immediately cease all contact with this individual. For more information on avoiding online scams and to report this crime, please see the following sites and articles: This article may help clarify some of the tricks social media scammers try to use to take advantage of people: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/61432/> CID advises vigilance against 'romance scams,' scammers impersonating Soldiers Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749 < Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/180749 > FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center: Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx< Caution-http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx> U.S. Army investigators warn public against romance scams: Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130...< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/130...> DOD warns troops, families to be cybercrime smart -Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450...< Caution-http://www.army.mil/article/1450...> Use caution with social networking Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146...< Caution-https://www.army.mil/article/146...> Please see our frequently asked questions section under scams and legal issues. Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ < Caution-http://www.army.mil/faq/ > or visit Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ < Caution-http://www.cid.army.mil/ >. The challenge with most scams is determining if an individual is a legitimate member of the US Army. Based on the Privacy Act of 1974, we cannot provide this information. If concerned about a scam you may contact the Better Business Bureau (if it involves a solicitation for money), or local law enforcement. If you're involved in a Facebook or dating site scam, you are free to contact us direct; (571) 305-4056. If you have a social security number, you can find information about Soldiers online at Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... < Caution-https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/sc... > . While this is a free search, it does not help you locate a retiree, but it can tell you if the Soldier is active duty or not. If more information is needed such as current duty station or location, you can contact the Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) by phone or mail and they will help you locate individuals on active duty only, not retirees. There is a fee of $3.50 for businesses to use this service. The check or money order must be made out to the U.S. Treasury. It is not refundable. The address is: Commander Soldier's Records Data Center (SRDC) 8899 East 56th Street Indianapolis, IN 46249-5301 Phone: 1-866-771-6357 In addition, it is not possible to remove social networking site profiles without legitimate proof of identity theft or a scam. If you suspect fraud on this site, take a screenshot of any advances for money or impersonations and report the account on the social networking platform immediately. Please submit all information you have on this incident to Caution-www.ic3.gov < Caution-http://www.ic3.gov > (FBI website, Internet Criminal Complaint Center), immediately stop contact with the scammer (you are potentially providing them more information which can be used to scam you), and learn how to protect yourself against these scams at Caution-http://www.ftc.gov < Caution-http://www.ftc.gov > (Federal Trade Commission's website)