My Favorite Plugin for WordPress – WPFutureCal

It’s said that success in blogging is all about consistency and if you’re like me you’ll need a visual to help keep you consistent. This is why I absolutely cannot live without WPFutureCal.

This 100% free plugin lets me quickly see when I have blog posts scheduled and easily keep track of how consistent I’ve been with my blogging. In the screenshot below the yellow boxes represent blog posts that have already gone live, the green boxes represent blog posts I have scheduled out in the future.

WPFutureCAL

As you can easily see I try to keep to a schedule of Monday – Wednesday – Friday. This helps me know my next blog post should be scheduled for Monday Feb 15. The reason this plugin is handy for my style of blogging is simple, when I’m inspired to write I do several blog posts in one sitting. Many times those topics follow a specific theme and I want to group those posts together in a series.

Where to get WPFutureCal?

The easiest way to get this free plugin is to click Add New on the Plugins tab

1-22-2016 11-35-55 AM

You should now see a Search Box on the top right hand side of the page. There you type in WPFutureCal.

1-22-2016 11-37-12 AM

This will then need to click the Install Now button in the box with the WPFutureCal heading.

1-22-2016 11-39-20 AM

Lastly go to your Plugins Tab and make sure that WPFutureCal say Deactivate, if it doesn’t click the link that says Activate. You’re now good to go enjoy!

1-22-2016 11-43-50 AM

You don’t need to do anything else to make it work. WPFutureCal automatically detects blog posts you have already written and have scheduled out in the future.

How To Fix Skype Messages Displaying Out Of Order

Many people are having this problem that when you send a message, then your friend sends a message, then you send a message, your message will be put in the same box as the one you sent before your friend sent one.

Skype Message Fix

The reason for this is because of Windows’ time server is off by about 20 seconds.

Here is the fix!

From the Desktop, click or tap on the date and time in the Windows Notification Area in the bottom right corner of the screen.

1-19-2016 7-52-30 PM

In the the window that pops up click Change date and time settings

1-19-2016 7-42-41 PM

Another window will popup click the Internet Time tab

1-19-2016 7-45-44 PM

Click the button that says Change settings…

1-19-2016 7-47-24 PM

In the drop down menu select something other than time.windows.com and then click Update now

1-19-2016 7-48-58 PM

That’s it! Enjoy having your sanity back.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.” – Willis R. Whitney

One of the things which really annoys me in life are those people around me who always have excuses for not doing something they were supposed to do. Sometimes the amount of time and effort people put into coming up with excuse after excuse is extraordinary. Here are a couple of examples which come to mind.

I was once watching the reality TV show Big Brother, a show where complete strangers share a house together and are filmed around the clock for the viewing audience’s pleasure.

On this particular show two housemates were arguing over whose turn it was to do the washing up after dinner. “I did it last night,” said one. “Well I did it the night before and I made you breakfast,” countered the other. This argument went back and forth for at least ten minutes but during this time, quietly in the background, a third housemate was at the kitchen sink washing up the dirty plates. When he had finished he walked up the arguing housemates and said: “During all this time while you were making excuses you could have got the job done.”

Further back in time when at school I always remember one teacher who would never accept any reason for pupils turning up late to his lessons. Whenever it happened he would say: “It is your first responsibility to turn up for class on time.” I loved that expression and it has stayed with me for my entire life.

It seems to me that the whole idea of taking personal responsibility is now a decidedly old-fashioned concept for many these days. As personal responsibility declines so the excuse culture thrives and this is something we must all be wary of.

It is easy to make excuses but very often it is just as easy to find the one reason to do something and get the task in hand finished.

Why Smiles and Kindness Matter

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.” – Humphry Davy

It is tempting to look upon our lives in terms of great achievements, milestones reached or heroic efforts to secure some lofty goal or ideal. However in reality life is just not like that. Yes there will be the occasional really big moment here and there but our lives are really made up of a long series of seemingly inconsequential events. Yet it is these moments which make up the majority of our lives so we should pay them more attention.

Taking the time to smile, to say “please” and “thank-you” and to be polite to others might be little things but they are also things which serve to brighten up the lives of others and you can do this at absolutely no personal cost to yourself.

I found another example which illustrated how it is the smaller and less significant events in our lives which can be more important than we give them credit for when I read a newspaper report titled: “The top five regrets of the dying” and I was struck at how ordinary the things on that list were. The top five regrets were as follows:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

These regrets are all very telling especially the first one. Your life is your own and nobody else’s so it follows that you should be true to yourself. There is a huge difference in being true to yourself while respecting the lives of others around you and in living a life you think that others expect of you. If you can do this while getting the little things right then not only will you be a happier person but others around you will think better of you too. The little things in life really do matter but sometimes in our fast-paced world we can lose sight of that fact.

Five Tips For Selling to Knowledgeable Shoppers

Tips For Selling

Product knowledge needn’t limit marketing efforts. For many consumer knowledge enriches product and service involvement—heightening relationship scope while enabling new selling opportunities. Understandably, knowledge is an invaluable asset to retailers, online businesses and wide-reaching companies.

It’s difficult to sell to unknowledgeable consumers, but it’s also hard to gage an informed consumer’s wants, needs and limiting factors. To effectively sell to knowledgeable consumer spheres, consider the following tips:

Tip One: Answer Knowledge with Knowledge

Of course, the consumer’s knowledge dictates product sales, service information and capacity for new deals. While your consumer may know you, you might not know them. Understanding from both sides complements effective transactions, and a fully understood consumer is healthy for prolonged business relationships.

Sure, they might know your brand inside and out, but do you understand their motives, their purchasing patterns and even geo-specific behaviors? Knowledge increases options, and knowing your target consumer’s culture, community, lifestyle and related purchases is necessary to enhance feedback and connectivity.

Tip Two: Read the Competition

Informed consumers have felt out alternatives. When a buyer’s opportunity cost sense kicks in, they might opt for marginal cost decreases, slightly better benefits or even attractive packaging. The informed consumer isn’t necessarily nitpicking every product and service—but they’ve definitely scoped out related brands.

Know your competition, and understand why consumers might opt for greener pastures. Your marketing goals should be based upon product outreach, consumer groups and market slices, but your competitors are on the lookout. Consider your brand’s shining aspects, and capitalize its finer edges. Often, product marketing is a game of comparisons, and your target market makes numerous comparisons when informed of each product’s benefits.

Tip Three: Identify Your Niche

Related to industry information and defining competing benefits is defining your own niche. If you’re not marketing specialty or luxury products and services, defining—or creating—a niche will win over nervous buyers. Assuming your average consumer is well-endowed with product knowledge, industry foresight and market tactics, having incomparable benefits is a winning tactic.

If your brand’s benefits can’t be purchased elsewhere, the informed consumer will know. Flex your brand’s creative power, and specify its special qualities. Sure, every company has limitations, but niche benefits exist in many forms.

Tip Four: Avoid Sensationalism

Sensationalism is marked by global trends. Clothing styles, home décor options and even cultural amenities constantly change—and many companies unwittingly subscribe to “the next big thing”. Unfortunately, companies failing to be first are often last when new trends hit. It’s better to lead a pack than to follow.

Weigh your options, and develop a keen eye for global trends. If you want to shift your products to developing trends, do so carefully. Make careful adjustments, and consider losses associated with the trend’s disappearance. While some trends become solidified market needs, others are, simply, popular movements.

Tip Five: Develop After-Sales Services

The modern marketing world is defined by one-on-one, consumer-to-company relations. While social media and mobile technology increase, mass marketing has become relatively specific to singular relationships. Without customers, you’ll lose business. Consumer follow-up is important, and the informed consumer can become a powerful ally when invited to a prolonged relationship.

Customer retention yields best-possible profit scales in many industries, and answering queries, complaints and questions can solidify an otherwise doubtful consumer relationship. Remember: Your consumer is knowledgeable. Answering the questions they do have will increase your brand’s worth. It’ll increase its utility.

As your business grows, be adaptive. Consumer knowledge has increased greatly due to mass communications and Internet research possibilities. Don’t fear, however, as the consumer does want to be pleased. Maintaining your brand’s quality, integrity and positive industry impact can create a healthy, long-lasting purchasing environment.

3 Tips To Stay The Course

staythecourse

If you are an entrepreneur, you know that your success cannot depend on the opinions of others. Like the wind, opinions change…like the weather, opinions change frequently. To succeed at any endeavor, you must stay the course…no matter what the cost! Here are some surefire tips to help you on your journey.

1. Avoid Negativity. Negative people are all around us. They can include our loved ones as well as a dear friend. Most often, it is the opinions of total strangers that breeds the most negativity as if someone who doesn’t know or understand you is able to voice a reasonably thought out opinion about you.

No, you shouldn’t avoid those who are close to you, rather there are areas of conversation that are less profitable. Accept criticism constructively, but steer the conversation away from nonstop negative banter. Negativity will grow on you unless you take control.

2. Build Yourself Up. No, I do not mean for you to puff yourself up with pride, rather you can be your best source of encouragement by encouraging yourself. How can you do this? Read the testimonies of other entrepreneurs who have gone before you. Current day success stories of people who have gone from “rags to riches” [or from simple means to great influence] include personalities like Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, and Bill Gates. Yesterday’s success stories are numerous and include: Thomas Edison, Harry S. Truman, and Abraham Lincoln.

3. Go Back to Square One. Should you find yourself wavering, recall those things that encouraged you to take your “step of faith” in the first place. Recall what it takes to succeed: discipline, self confidence, independence, hard work, sacrifice, etc. Look forward to the anticipated results: a good income, independence, a job you love, etc. Finally, remember the worst job you ever worked…imagine yourself working there again. Blah! Use whatever it takes to motivate you.

So, toss off the negative thoughts and embrace that which is uplifting, inspiring, encouraging, warm, friendly, and helpful. You are on track to achieving great things as long as you do not let yourself become derailed by the negative words of others.

Creative Solutions Using What If

whatif

For the most creative solutions you need to get your mind looking in new directions. One of the most systematic ways to do this, is with a list of words, primarily adjectives, to create “what if?” scenarios. The process starts with the question, “what if it was…” and then you insert a word from the list. “It” in the question is the problem you’re working on, or the current solution or situation.

Let’s explain the process with an example or two.

Example one: You have is an unpleasant co-worker. You aren’t sure how to deal with him, so you ask about the problem, “What if it was…” and insert from the list “smaller.” How could you make the problem smaller? Spend less time with that person? Get reassigned?

“What if it was… fun?” makes you wonder if being annoying yourself might keep the other person away from you. “Closer” makes you wonder if this person might be nicer to you if they knew you better. You continue down the list and work with each word a bit to get new ideas, which you will look at more analytically later.

Example two: Your house is too crowded because you’re running your business from it. You ask, “What if it was…” and insert from the word list, “smaller.” Your house is already too small, but could the business be smaller? The word “divided” might give you the idea to keep the business in just one part of the house.

Since most words on the list won’t help, you can go through the irrelevant ones quickly. But don’t automatically dismiss them without a few seconds consideration. “What if it was hopeless?” may seem like a useless question, or it may make you realize that you just can’t keep the business in the house any longer. Moving into a rented office might be the most profitable of your creative solutions.

Feel free to create your own list of words. You’ll want to use adjectives, descriptive phrases, and any words that can change your perspective. Here is a short list to get you started:

What if it was… larger, smaller, farther away, closer, sooner, later, easier, more difficult, higher, fat, rich, short, black, certain, hopeless, newer, boring, casual, subtracted from, cheaper, common, divided, more interesting, extravagant, subtle, or fun?

Just as with most problem solving techniques, it’s important to allow the ideas to flow without judging them initially. You don’t want to stifle the creative process. Take notes, then evaluate your ideas later, when you have a page full of creative solutions.

Santa the Entrepreneur

santa

Most people think Santa Claus only works one night a year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, product distribution takes place on one magical night, but Santa’s operation runs year round and is one of the largest manufacturing and distribution operations in the world.

You’ve probably never considered the fact that Santa is the CEO of a large organization that not only distributes a vast assortment of products throughout the world, but does so in a single night with just a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Sam Walton would have killed to have Santa’s logistics manual.

Do I believe in Santa? You bet your red longjohns I do. I especially believe in Santa’s entrepreneurial spirit. Just consider all he does from an entrepreneurial point of view and I think you will start to believe, too.

Santa Is His Own Company Spokesperson

Santa is a brilliant marketer and knows that his image is the best marketing tool he has. No other face is as recognizable and no other entrepreneur has inspired so many songs. You’ll never hear “An Ode To Jack Welch” on the radio ten times a day.

Santa’s Customers Love Him

Just say his name around a group of kids and watch their little faces light up like Rudolph’s nose. You will never see Bill Gates get that kind of reaction. Heck, he can’t even make his own kids smile.

Santa Sets The Bar For All Entrepreneurs

When you list the traits of the perfect entrepreneur, Santa gets the highest marks. He has passion for his work. He loves his customers and will go to great lengths to make sure they are happy. He has the ability to spot consumer trends and bring products to market quickly. He can lead a large organization with a wink of his eye. He inspires those around him. He is tireless. He is dedicated. He is loyal. He is persistent. And above all, he is jolly. Name another jolly entrepreneur (other than Dave Thomas of Wendy’s fame). I bet you can’t.

Santa Is A Great Leader

Can you imagine trying to manage a few hundred giddy elves who are shut in year round and spend their off hours drinking spiked hot chocolate and doing who knows what with fairy dust? It would be enough to drive even the best of entrepreneurs to hide out at the North Pole. Somehow Santa manages the task without pulling his whiskers out. I expect he has a management system that promotes from within. The hard working elves get into management. The slackers are stuck cleaning up after the reindeer.

Santa Perfected “Just In Time” Manufacturing

Santa heads up one of the largest, most diverse manufacturing operations in the world. His product lines range from rag dolls to toy trains to rocking horses to baseball gloves for the little kids, to iPods and cellphones and diamond rings for us big kids. Santa’s factory runs year round, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week and never, ever suffers from cost overrun or production shut downs. Santa perfected the “just in time” method of production that is used by many of the world’s largest manufacturers today.

Santa Pioneered Global Product Distribution

Santa is the king of single channel distribution. How else could he deliver millions of presents to good little girls and boys all around the world on a single night? Santa’s distribution process is a closely-guarded secret (elves and reindeer are required to sign iron-clad nondisclosure agreements), but I expect it involves a highly detailed logistics plan and the best CRM software on the planet. You never hear about Santa calling up a kid and telling them a present is backordered until July.

Santa’s Delivery & Tracking Systems Are Second To None

If you think FedEx is number one at tracking packages think again. Santa’s track record is spotless. He has never, ever missed a single delivery or left a box sitting on the porch in the rain. Every package is delivered in perfect shape, right under the tree.

Santa Wrote The Book On Customer Satisfaction

Santa proudly boasts a 100% perfect customer satisfaction rating. You never hear about class action lawsuits and Better Business Bureau complaints against St. NIck. Santa makes sure that his customers are happy and if they aren’t, he’ll come back next year to make things right. If JD Power could find him, I’m sure they would give Santa their Christmas Customer Satisfaction Award.

Santa Claus Is Watching You

Not everyone believes that Santa is the perfect entrepreneur. There are those kids who complain that Santa never brings what they ask for, but we grown ups know that Santa brings the gift that is deserved, not necessarily the gift that is asked for.

Here’s a little Christmas tip: If you get a lump of coal in your stocking this year it’s because you were bad and that’s what you deserved.

It was not because Santa dropped the ball.

Life Driving Mission Statement

Mission

Most people measure us by our accomplishments — what we’ve done. In my experience, most people compile their track record of accomplishments BY MISTAKE; that is, we don’t have a plan, we simply react to opportunities as they arise. In other words, our accomplishments are externally motivated, not internally driven. What this argues for, of course, is a consciousness of mission — what each of our lives is really about. That’s what this short article will discuss — your Personal Mission Statement. A Personal Mission Statement will help you to organize your entire life — your time, your thoughts, your priorities. Actually, a personal mission statement, conscientiously developed, will change the way you view everything in your life.

Your personal mission statement will force you to constantly re-evaluate who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re doing. As an example, just look at the Constitution of the United States. The essential mission statement there is “…to create a more perfect union.” Where would we be as a nation today if they had not outlined the goals and hopes of a new nation in those terms?

The basics of a mission statement are as follows:

1. Make it short and to the point. Nelson Mandela’s mission statement, developed over his 27 years in prison in South Africa, says just this: “End Apartheid.” Another great mission statement was developed by Abraham Lincoln upon his inauguration as President. “Preserve the Union.” Note that mission statements can change. Perhaps a mission is accomplished. Franklin Roosevelt started his presidency with a mission to “End the Depression.” By the time that was almost done another threat had arisen and the United States had become involved in World War II. Now the mission statement was “End the War.”

2. Keep your mission statement short, to the point, simple. Use direct language. Be sure that a 12-year-old could understand the statement and you’ll be more or less on track.

3. Make it memorable so it can be burned into your consciousness. The rule of thumb here is that if you can’t recite it from memory, it’s too long and too complicated. Remedy: simplify, condense, “laser” your thought process until you’ve said everything you need to say in the fewest and strongest possible words.

4. Eliminate excuses. Before you can write an effective mission statement you must clear away the excuses that prevent most people from writing one in the first place. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your job IS your mission. It’s only part of it…or not. Either way, remember that a mission is larger than a job. Your job may change, but your mission may not. In fact, there are times that a job MUST change in order that a mission be completed. So don’t lock yourself in a box that says that you ARE your work. You’re far more than that. Another trap…excuse…is “My role is my mission.” If you’re a man you may think of your role as “breadwinner.”

For a woman this might be “wife” or “mother.” The operating principle here is that your role, too, may change. In fact, as your life, evolves your role will almost certainly change. The third excuse — the one most of us don’t want to cop to — is that we may believe that we’re just not important enough to have a mission statement. Sure, it’s fine for a big company to have one, or for a country to have one, but I’m just one of the “little people,” so I don’t DESERVE one. Parenthetically, we almost never say this aloud. What we do say, at least to ourselves, is that we don’t NEED one. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!! Get rid of all that silly thinking. Focus. You’ll be glad you did.

Finally, clear out influences that have driven you in the past. A mission statement isn’t about what you think you should be doing. It’s about what EXCITES you. So instead of listening to all those voices from the past…the ones that told you you weren’t worth anything, that you’d never succeed, and so forth. Concentrate on your gifts, your dreams.