What kind of a goal-setter are you?

“Set wildly ambitious goals, and you’ll get results beyond your wildest ambitions!” – lots of self help books

How many times have you heard that? If you’ve ever read a book on achievement or goals or life, you’ve probably heard it tiresome numbers of times.

qtq80-6XwszZSo you went about setting your wildly ambitious goal — make $200,000/year, let’s say — and you read the affirmations — “I make $200,000/year!” — and yet there was a little voice inside your head that said “Wait a minute! No I don’t.” And pretty soon that big crazy goal seemed just plain stupid and maybe a little delusional, and definitely out of reach, and so you quit.

Wrong goal style, wrong results.

There’s nothing wrong with you. This doesn’t mean you’re “not a goal person” or “just not cut out for that kind of thing,” it just means that the person who wrote that inspirational book had different motivational style than you do.

Personally, I love impossible dreams. Impossible dreams motivate me and make me work harder, because I truly in my heart am an optimist and I believe anything is possible.

But if you’re a realist and you need a fairly realistic trajectory, I’m not going to try to convince you that the universe is infinite. You will still benefit from written goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I still do believe that the universe is infinite and we can achieve amazing things if we are sufficiently motivated, but you don’t have to believe that in order for goals to be an important and practical part of your life.

Here’s why: without written goals, life is just a big ol’ pile of to-do lists.

You may shuffle through them, crossing off tasks and getting stuff done, and meanwhile the things that you have in your heart — like riding a horse, or having a weekend with your best friend — don’t get done. It’s important to keep these bookmarked and present in your life.

I’ve been setting goals for years upon years, and I know it’s so important to have a well-rounded life. I think part of us knows that, and that part will sabotage any single-minded focus if we haven’t fully rounded out our goals.

If you’re interested in setting some really amazing goals that are right for your personality, sign up for my totally free goal-setting course.

Just do the next right thing

Each of us was put on this planet for a reason. Each of us is a catalyst for a change in the world.

And even if you don’t have a persistent ringing in your heart (or ears) telling you what your life purpose is, that’s ok. Because your responsibility is to just go and do the next right thing.

So ask yourself: What is the one thing I could do today, right now, that would make a change in the right direction to the world around me?

It could be something as small as sharing this post so your friends could do their next right thing. It could be grabbing an envelope and brainstorming the next 5 “right thing”s you can do to execute your big dream. It could be literally picking up the phone and making a sales call. It could be asking your boss for a 10% raise so you could contribute to charity.

And then watch, because amazing things start to happen when you do that one next right thing.

In the comments, tell me what your one next right thing is, and I’ll do my best to support you in it.

Banished from the Kingdom: Why Google sends some sites into the frozen tundra of not-first-page

“Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?”
“On the second page of search results!” – Old search engine optimization joke

It’s a testament to Google’s accuracy that few people ever will see the second page of search results, because the perfect result is usually right at the top.

In an effort to give searchers (their customers) the most interesting and relevant results, Google updates how it decides which pages are most relevant. This is done automatically. An algorithm “reads” the pages (including the code) and ranks it. When someone searches for keywords, the search result pages show the most relevant results at the top.

Periodically, Google changes what they think is important, and the SEO (search engine optimization) world is shaken to its foundation with alarm and stories of people being banished from the kingdom (the first page!).

Their sites have violated some Google rule, and Google has punished the offending company.

For example, in a recent Google update, sites without mobile-friendly pages were banished. Google decided that so many people browse pages on their phones, that it’s a universally bad experience to have non-responsive (responsive = mobile-friendly) sites.

So how can you keep up with these updates and avoid being punished?

Google wants to provide the best possible experience to anyone who is using their site, and part of this is providing the absolute best results.

Google’s robots (also called spiders) read pages in certain ways, and understanding those ways is helpful, but not necessary.

The important thing to remember is that Google is just trying to provide the coolest experience to their customers.

It’s not personal. You don’t have to “game the system.” You just have to provide relevant, interesting, updated content, in a format that is pleasing to readers, and Google will take care of the rest.

Ok, so there you have it.

If you’re interested in learning more about search engine optimization (aka SEO) from me, I happen to have a course on SEO for small business (lookit that!). I personally love SEO because it’s half magic, half sleeves-rolled-up nitty gritty.

Google itself has tutorials and resources that are (mostly) updated with the most recent news.

How to sell to 122,000 times as many people as you do today (and totally not worry about the competition)

I was trying to make an infographic to show how many more people you could reach by making your online presence stronger, and I came up with this:

(see bottom of article for numbers used)

I was trying to show the relative size of your market if you’re selling in each of these places. Pretty neat idea, right?

Except the size of the customer base of “friends and family” and “farmer’s market” were so small that they don’t even register on the infographic.

Why confine yourself and your business to such a small pond?

If you’re like most makers, you didn’t start your business to become an internationally distributed power-brand. You enjoyed making something, you made it well, and people loved it, so they bought it from you.

Eventually, some switch flipped and you thought, “You know what? I could do this for a living.” And – VOILA! – you started a business!

And you started dealing with things like costs, and the economies of scale, and your business grew and grew, and then you had to sell a certain amount now that you’re depending on the income and you’ve made all this investment…

… and then someone local moves in a couple booths down from you, and you see other people going to their booth at the farmer’s market, and GAH HOW COULD THEY?

It bothers you, of course, because there’s scarcity.

There are only so many people coming to your market, and so many dollars to go around. So if someone spends money over there, they’re not spending money with you.

Online, people are spending $294 billion. That’s what the new-age gurus might call “limitless abundance”

In 2015, 200 million digital shoppers spent an average of $1,700/person.[3]

If you’re feeling frustrated with your local sales, don’t just feel frustrated and rue your competition, walk yourself to a bigger pond.

And this particular pond doesn’t require any schlepping at all. Heck, you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas on most days.

Consider these stats (provided by this source):

Only 28% of U.S. small businesses are selling their products online.

60% of adult Americans are happy to know they won’t have to shop in a crowded mall or store.

Almost 20% of U.S. retail sales come during the Christmas shopping season.

The average U.S. shopper expects to spend $718 on holiday gifts.

41% of independent retailers rate social media as a “very effective” marketing tactic.

44% of online shoppers begin their product search using a search engine. (find out how to best show up in search engines in my “6 Weeks to Search Engine Superstar” class)

91% of eCommerce retailers saw a lift in their search engine rank thanks to social referrals.

(As a side note, your success on Amazon will be greatly bolstered by your search engine optimization skills, since Amazon is pretty much just a gigantic product search engine).

Whether you’re online already or are just getting started, you can build your business with some quick and easy online marketing. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates about classes, tools, and more.

cup of awesome skills

Potential Customers:
Friends and Family: 700
Farmer’s Market: 20,000 (generously)
Etsy Shoppers: 25,000,000 [1]
Shopify Shoppers: 35,000,000 (guess)
Amazon Shoppers: 244,000,000 [2]

[1] Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/amazon-statistics/
[2] Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/etsy-statistics/
[3] Source: https://www.nchannel.com/blog/retail-data-ecommerce-statistics/

Support preservation, equality, charity, and kindness: My 10% plan

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I shared this last night because I’m really struggling with what to DO now.

First, I want to remember that not all the supporters of Trump are pussy-grabbing bomb-lovers who want to banish all other races from the United States. Among them are caring, wonderful, loving people who are as frustrated with things as we are.

I have met many of them, and I even have them in my family, and most of them feel that Trump is just “not good with words.” They don’t take what he says literally, they just feel like he is clumsy and over-states things.

To me, this alone makes him unfit to be President, but that is not the shared opinion of this nation.

Second, I want to remember that this is NOT the “silent majority,” as long as there are people who would vote for compassion and equality who remain unmotivated to vote for a two-party system.

I’m not a political person (I mean, I research the issues and I vote, but I find the government so bafflingly complicated that I would not be the person to organize such a movement), but I think THIS is the time to work on ways we can come up with alternatives to this “the lesser of two evils” political system.

When I was in Germany, I learned they have a six-party system because everyone gets three votes. People can pour their votes into one person, or people can distribute their votes among their favorite candidates. Would that work for the US? I do not know. If you are a political strategist, for the love of God, please propose something, and QUICK, when everyone still cares, and before Trump is in the office. I think we all want something we can get behind.

Once again, by the way, the Democratic candidate won the popular vote, but the electoral college went to Trump. SOMEONE with a bigger political interest has got to work on that.

Third, and personally most importantly, the reason I posted that quote last night is because I feel that we must become MIGHTY. We must grow prosperous and dedicate our voice, energy, and wealth to causes and people who further LOVE and COMPASSION.

I spent my whole life being a fraction of what I am capable of, sending my life’s calling to voicemail. But recently, I woke up.

If that resonated with you, STOP SLEEPING. Grab your calling, make your plan, and get on it. I need you. WE need you. Don’t decide to watch TV if you should be writing. Don’t do what I did, and anesthetize yourself so you didn’t have to listen to the nagging call in your heart. GET ON IT.

Make a ton of money, donate to causes that resonate with you, and get over whatever is standing in the way of you doing that.

Example: National Parks. If we ALL gave money to the national parks, do you really think they would need as much federal money? Yes, our taxes (ideally) support it, but hey, the world is abundant and so we just have to make 10% more and give that 10% to the National Parks.

I actually mathed a tiny bit, and Clinton got 59,233,484 votes. If everyone made an average of $40k/year (the national average is $51,939, but let’s lowball) and donated 10% of their income to a cause that was important to them, $236,860,332,000 would be in play toward causes of preservation, equality, charity, and kindness.

Do you know what kind of a difference that money would make? Do you know what kind of a difference your intention and energy would make?

If you are financially limited and can not afford my courses, but would like to make 10% more so you can give it to preservation, equality, charity, and kindness, send me a private message and we will work something out.

Lots of people supported me and said they loved my product, but where’s the $$?

“I don’t get it! All my friends said they thought my idea was great, but I launched and I’ve had basically no sales. WTF?” – Countless discouraged entrepreneurs

Any new venture is terrifying, and those of us who have the blessings of supportive friends and family often make the mistake of believing friends and family will become paying customers.

Sometimes friends and family do become customers, and that’s great (because birds of a feather flock together, and people want to be supportive, God bless ’em), but it puts incredible strain on friendships if you expect (and maybe even kind of demand) that your friends support your venture.

I have seen it, and it isn’t pretty.

That’s why things like marketing, press, and search engine optimization are so critically important to start right away

If you hope to have a business, you absolutely can’t lean on your friends and family to be your customers. You can make it available to them, but availability and pressure are very different energy.

The key is to cultivate a relationship with customers

If you’ve done your market research and you know the customers are out there, you have to set your business up in a way that will reach your (future) customers. You have to find people who love your product not just because they love you, but because they truly just love your product.

In fact, Facebook even penalizes businesses whose posts don’t get a lot of click-throughs and comments, so if you just beg your friends for a ton of page “likes” without any strategy, that can actually hinder your marketing efforts.

The world is mindblowingly vast, and millions upon millions of people are searching for products, services, and experiences that resonate with them. Is yours one of them? You have to get in front of those people so they can find you!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” – Chinese Proverb

All these things take time, money, or both. But you have to start somewhere, and sometime.

If you’re a new business just getting started, you may not have yet traversed the muddy bog of getting strangers to buy your products. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Stay tuned for my small business marketing tips.

The Skeptic’s Reason to Write Down Your Goals

You’re too jaded for this woo-woo “The Universe Conspires” stuff, and you’re too smart for this logical pain-in-the-butt writing down stuff.

Who needs it, right?

You’ve got a good idea of your goals, and if anyone asks you, you’ll have a great answer of exactly what you’re looking for — it’s specific enough. So why bother with all this paper and ink bullshit?

I’ve read tons of interviews and biographies about successful people. I’ve read books on productivity. I’ve sat through webinars and expensive course videos. They all say to write down your goals.

Seriously, look it up. I’ll wait. (actually, no, I have other things to do)

So if all these successful people say you should write down your goals, and writing down your goals takes approximately a few hours every year, and reviewing them takes a couple minutes every day, why not just do it and take your chances if it doesn’t work?

Worst case scenario, you’ve wasted a couple hours of your life.

I did the math, and the very generous 20 hours you could spend working on goals makes up 0.00285% of your life. I’m all for efficiency, and that seems like a fine amount of time to gamble.

Best case scenario, you actually fulfill your greatest vision for your life.

I mean, WHOA.

It just so happens I’m teaching a totally free class on writing goals. I’m so passionate about writing goals that I’ll hold your hand (or kick your butt) through the process.

What have you got to lose?

Our Sacred Responsibility

I had a dream last night that changed everything.

It was, in a broader sense, about our sacred responsibility to those we love, as they (and we) go through life changes. Including death.

Five years ago, my first and beloved dog Diva passed on. Through her aging and death, I realized that she was enjoying life and living in the present. She passed, and it was me who felt sad. She felt no sadness, just the natural progression of her life.

And it is that way with everyone around us.

Our lives are a kaleidoscope of people and animals and situations around us, always turning, and never looking exactly the same. Your toddler is a young man tomorrow. Your knees aren’t as good as they were, so the time for backpacking through Yosemite has passed. Life in the current moment is sweet, but it is only a window of time before different situations exist, and different opportunities are in front of us.

Our sacred responsibility, as custodians of our lives and the brief time we have, is to spend our time in the present, enjoying the people and opportunities in front of us today, not worrying about the missed opportunities of the past, or the diminishing opportunities of the future.

Prioritize those experiences whose window is open now.

The Logical and Practical Reason to Write Down Your Goals

I wrote about the Woo Woo Spiritual Reason to Write Down Your Goals a couple days ago. But if you’re not into the woo-woo spirituality thing, you may want to know the Spock-like logical reason to write down your goals.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Writing down your goals helps you take a serious look at who you have to become and what connections you must make in order to achieve them. When we write down goals, we start to create a mental list of the skills we need and the attitudes we have to adopt.

For example, one of my chief aims is to get Outlaw Soaps to $1.6M in annual revenue by 2021. When I wrote down that goal, and worked back what I had to do in order to get there, I realized I needed a good advisor or mentor, and maybe an investor… but before I could get an advisor or an investor, I needed a better idea of our current financial situation. So I reached out to an accountant I met at the Quickbooks Connect conference last week.

Why was I at the Quickbooks Connect conference? Because earlier this year, I decided that in order to move our business to the next level, I needed to make some new connections. Shortly after I made that decision, a discount code for the conference showed up in my inbox.

Blah blah blah the Universe blah blah woo woo spiritual stuff aside, it’s likely that dozens of promotional messages for conferences (and probably even for that particular conference) had landed in my inbox before that message, but I hadn’t paid any attention to them because they weren’t relevant to me. But as soon as I realized I needed to make different connections — BAM — here was the Quickbooks Connect conference (with a discount code!).

In addition to meeting a great accountant (happily coincidentally in my local area), I also met one of the authors I most admire, and picked up a lot of knowledge about selling on Amazon. I made some great advances in my quest to be the type of person who is a CEO of a $1.6M company, that’s for sure!

Written goals, revisited regularly, keep you focused on what you want in your life and give you a much better chance of getting them

Hey, nothing is certain, but wouldn’t you rather have the absolute best chance of getting what you want, rather than living your life as a cork on the water?

If you want some videos and worksheets on goal setting, sign up for my goal workshop.

The Woo-Woo Spiritual Reason to Write Down Your Goals

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

I think there’s a reason I am becoming more woo-woo spiritual as I get older: I have been too many places and seen too many things to deny there’s some weird shit going on here.

I don’t care if you believe in God or the Universe or a flying spaghetti monster or source energy or whatever, I think everyone comes to a point in their lives when they go “Oh holy shit. I get what I ask/act for.

If you’re not there, you’re either too inexperienced in the ways of the Universe, or you’re not asking for big enough stuff.

But if you’re reading this, I’m just gonna assume you’re on board with the whole woo-woo “Universe conspires to help you” stuff.

So, Why are SPECIFIC Goals Important?

It’s easy: when you don’t have clear, specific goals, the Universe keeps throwing stuff at you to try on. Some of it is stuff you like, some of it is stuff you don’t like.

The Universe is handing you all these “opportunities” (sometimes in the form of majorly earthly-shitty things, I’ll grant you that), not knowing which you’ll take and react bonkers awesome to and which you’ll stagger under the weight of their burden. To the Universe, it’s all just doors to other realities that you may or may not want.

You might think “But the Universe has to know I don’t want to get fired, right? I mean, exactly how dumb is this Universe anyways? And what am I going to do without this job?” (or any of the number of other shitty things that might happen) To the Universe, this is an opportunity. Maybe it’s an opportunity to find a different job, or start a business, or realize you’re totally in the wrong career! Mayyyybe it’s not the opportunity you wanted, but this is the Universe’s version of an opportunity.

“Idle hands are the Devil’s playground” on the Universe’s scale is a pretty dang humongous thing.

But the minute you tell The Universe what you want, it gets to work on that immediately. If you keep thinking about it as happening, and getting ready for it, pretty soon the thing you want will come along.

That’s why if you have vague goals, you get vague results — eh, it’s pretty close to what you wanted, but it’s not hitting a home run.

But Why are WRITTEN Goals Important?

Our brains have a funny way of attaching to disbelief.

I don’t know why… maybe we’re all just too smart for our own good, or we’ve been so bombarded with jaded messaging that we’ve become jaded.

But writing down your specific goals is a way of keeping yourself honest about the miracles unfolding in front of you. You need to know when you’ve crossed the finish line.

I have seen some seriously crazy creepy stuff come to pass as a result of written, specific goals. Stuff that I find years later in my journal. A goal list that I tucked in a book and forgot, and I read and realized I’ve checked off most of the things… almost by accident, just because the opportunities were there.

But how?

I’m so glad you asked! I’ve been diligently writing down my goals for years. My dad actually sat my brother and me down and taught us how to do it, starting with 5 years out, and working back to 3 months out.

Over the years, I have modified my methods to include inspiration from Brian Tracy, Napoleon Hill, Jack Canfield, Jen Sincero, and more.

I’m so passionate about writing down goals that I’m offering a workshop at the end of this year (evergreen after that). If you’re interested in seeing how the Universe can conspire for you, enroll (it’s free) and we’ll get to work on December 26!