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An Update on Enrichr, Software, Investing etc.

Enrichr - Pursuing Success

A few things have happened lately. One is that the Daily Press is running an article on bloggers and apparently I’m going to be featured. I had a phone interview and the photographer came over and took pictures of me standing by my computer :).

We decided to change the name of the Community of Success (mentioned below) to Enrichr – Pursuing Success. The main reason for the change is that we (there are three of us running the site) decided that Community of Success sounds, for lack of a better word, nerdy. Enrichr is a play on Flickr (obviously) and is a pretty good representation of the purpose of the site–to enrich people’s lives through providing knowledge and motivation.

I’ve also started documenting my efforts to find an investment property on that website.

I’ll take this chance to write about some good software I’ve found lately too:

1. MediaCentral – a program similar to Front Row but in my opinion better. It uses Spotlight to find media anywhere on your hard drive.

2. MP3 Trimmer – fully featured shareware with nag screens to merge mp3′s (or spilt them). I sometimes end up with audiobooks I’ve ripped from CD that are in a million files. This program rejoins them nicely. I also recently discovered you can join them in iTunes before importing them by going to Advanced > Join CD Tracks if you have them all selected.

3. Colibri – The real Quicksilver for Windows? Doubtful, but at least it looks similar. Free.

4. Loudblog – Very cool PHP software for podcasting. With Loudbot it can also be integrated with other blog software.

5. MODx – An interesting looking CMS that is “Web 2.0 buzzword compliant.” One of the few CMS’s that has looked interesting to me lately.

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January 28, 2006
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US Airways – How Not to Run a Business

US Airways

We recently flew US Airways for our holiday travels. I was unimpressed and thought I’d note a few of their shortcomings as examples of how not to run a business:

1. Not enough information. It was very rare to get any information on where we were in the flight, how far delayed we were, why there was a delay or any other information. I’ve flown on other airlines where they had a screen showing exactly where you were on a map of the world, with US Airways, we were in the dark.

2. Inconsistent. On the way to our destination they served pretzels and had a good drink selection on both flights. Both flights also had grouchy stewardesses. On the way home all the stewardesses were great but both the 5 hour flight and the 1 hour flight they didn’t serve even a light snack and there were only about 4 drinks available.

3. Uncomfortable. The airports didn’t have nearly enough seating for the amount of people on the flights–people ended up sitting on the floor and at other terminals. Once on the planes, the seats were much too close together, the fabric on the seats was old and obviously worn and there weren’t enough pillows or blankets for the passengers. The movies were bottom of the barrel as well.

4. Unconcerned. Two of our four bags were lost for more than 36 hours and finding out anything was almost impossible. From the moment they were lost we were constantly given the “I don’t have any information, try calling…” line. We had to make 2 trips back to the airport and about a dozen calls before we finally resolved the issue. No one we talked to was even remotely concerned about the situation.

These are only a few other examples from this flight. I could definitely add to this list.

It’s amazing that with airlines like Virgin, JetBlue and Southwest trying so hard to gain customers by taking care of them and making them comfortable that US Airways still hasn’t seen the light. I think this is a perfect example of a business that hasn’t caught up with the times and one that will suffer because of it.

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January 4, 2006
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How to Find a Great Domain Name

Ooooh
Good domain names are out there, but they can be hard to find. Here are some tools to help you in your search.

1. Dislexicon – Takes common words and adds suffixes and prefixes. It even gives you the meaning. This site is great for finding short domain names that look like they could be real words.

2. JustDropped – This site lets you search for domain names that have recently expired. You get a few searches for free with limited results. I’ve found that the free searches are usually adequate for my needs.

3. Word Mixer – This one lets you enter up to five words which are mixed up into new, semi-pronouncable words. The same website also has a couple other tools that are useful such as the random words tool which is hit or miss, and the mixer seeds page.

4. WordFinder – This is actually a tool for crossword puzzles, but it can also be very useful for finding a domain name.

5. DomainsBot – This search engine is geared specifically towards finding a domain name. It works best if you’re looking for a compound-word domain rather than an invented word.

6. Online Generators – If all else fails, sometimes you’ll find a gem using one of these online generators. This is usually a last resort for me though, they tend to suck up your time without out producing much.

If you find a great one that you can’t use, but want to make some cash on, this is the place to sell it.

Once you’ve found one, there are about a million places to purchase it. I personally like Namecheap.com – good price and easy to use. Good luck… there are a ton of great names left!

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August 9, 2005
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Accounting?

Skateboards
What I learned today:

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, known as SOX, has caused some major changes in the way public companies must do their accounting. This act imposes strict regulations on companies in the wake of Enron and other accounting catastrophes of recent years. Audits are now much more time consuming and expensive. Many businesses have been “fired” by their Big Four accountants (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Price Waterhouse Cooper) since there is so much more work available. These displaced businesses are now forced to find accountants elsewhere and have turned to smaller (and less expensive) auditors.

Exciting stuff, huh? Maybe not, but what it means is that accountants are more in demand now than ever. If you (or someone you know) is looking for a career, maybe they should consider going into accounting.

Source – INC Magazine, August 2005 Page 19

I also found XPize today, which makes Windows XP look a lot like Windows Media Center–a nice change. I found Crimson Editor also for Windows–it’s a free text editor with tabs, file browsing, projects and syntax highlighting. I really it like so far. I came across Temptation, software that tries to prevent you from web-browsing when you should be working. Finally, StrongSpace, basically a glorified SFTP server with a web GUI, by TextDrive opened today and looks really nice. It’s nice to see another real-world implementation of Ruby on Rails (which I’m learning).

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August 3, 2005
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Paul Frank is Your Friend

Paulfrank
This is the first in what will hopefully be many similar posts to follow. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately on various topics–from business to programming to real estate. In order to retain the information better myself as well as pass it on, I plan on posting some of what I learn here. The posts will be in the category “knowledge” as well as in the other categories they might belong in.

Paul Frank - Paul Frank’s design business is worth $100 million. He started the business with $5000 borrowed from his friend Ryan’s stepmom in 1995. Paul Frank is 37 years old. Up until he was 31 he lived at home, but says he always felt successful anyway.

Paul Frank does not have a hard time getting licenses to use other companies logos. He says, as an example–”Any company can make a green t-shirt with a John Deere logo. Paul Frank makes a fine fashion bag that is printed gold inside with a John Deer logo in gold satin and on the outside is printed some of the very first John Deere vehicles. That’s not just a green t-shirt with a Deere logo on it. We look for companies or people that have integrity and class.”

Paul Frank does not pay for product placement.

Source – INC Magazine, August 2005 Page 88

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August 2, 2005
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Ten Things You Can Do Today to Jump-start Success

10 Things to Motivate

1. Read or listen to something that motivates you every single day. If you don’t read another item on this list, take this to heart. Don’t let a single day go by without providing yourself external motivation.

2. Keep a journal of your daily progress and carry it with you wherever you go. Change and progress will happen, but in order to recognize it, you have to record it. An example of a journal entry might be “Started tracking all expenses today, woke up 15 minutes earlier, set goal to read one book a month.” Some days you’ll do more than others, but the important thing is to do something every day and write down what you do.

3. Make goals and re-write them every day. Your goals will change, don’t worry about making goals that right now feel unattainable or baseless. The hardest part of making big goals is starting. Start by recording between 5 and 10 changes you’d like to make or milestones you’d like to reach within the next three years and re-write the goals, along with a brief note of your current progress every day. Save the lists of goals as you go so you can see how they evolve and you progress. This idea is by no means unique to me, but I do it and I know it works.

4. Keep track of every person you meet. If you don’t feel like you will remember their name, write it down, along with details of the conversations you had with them. Microsoft Outlook or almost any Personal Information Manager is great for storing this type of information. Keep it in a simple, but comprehensive system.

5. Begin investing a portion of your income today. A great place to start is a high-yield savings account, an IRA or a 401k plan. Do not put off investing until you’ve found the ‘perfect’ investment. If you’re already investing some of your money, bump up the amount you invest a notch.

6. Begin looking for opportunities to build passive income (money that you don’t have to work for once you’ve done the initial work) and write down or begin working on your ideas. The most important thing you can do is be aware of the ideas you already have. Focus on building assets, not more work for yourself.

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7. Only sleep as much as you need to. Sleep is obviously important, but don’t use the most important hours of your day dreaming. If you wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11, begin to wake up at 5:30 and go to bed at 10:30. Chances are there is an hour each day that you could use doing the above things that will make you more happy and successful.

8. Look for opportunities to serve. If you are willing to help others, others will be more willing to help you. The benefits of service are real–you will find more happiness and peace through serving than through any amount of time or money.

9. Keep track of every penny that you spend or save. Record every transaction in the back of your checkbook, in a spiral notebook or in accounting software. By doing it, you’ll begin to discover patterns you never would have found otherwise.

10. Stop being a victim. Focus on what YOU can DO. Stop assigning blame, don’t look for excuses. Take the attitude of ownership. Don’t try to change others, make a decision then take action.

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June 18, 2005
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Cracking the Millionaire Code Review

Cracking the Millionaire Code
Tonight I read (or rather skimmed) the book Cracking the Millionaire Code by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen (authors of The One Minute Millionaire) at Barnes and Noble (strangely enough they have the book out 3 days before it’s supposed to hit the shelves). It’s an interesting book.

The entire book is scattered with word and number puzzles and codes and things you’re supposed to figure out. I’ll admit I didn’t try to do any of them–to me they seemed too gimmicky. The authors also have a penchant for creating new words and use them often in the book. Among them, “loverage.” I found both the puzzles and new words to be a distraction from the content of the book, which was, from what I gathered, pretty good.

The goal of the authors is to create what they refer to as “enlightened millionaires”–millionaires who give back to society. One of the key tenants of their strategies is to look to a Higher Power for inspiration and to find a noble and virtuous reason for obtaining wealth. Once you’ve found this, essentially the rest of the job of making a million dollars should fall into place, provided you follow some other advice.

Some of the notes I took are on not breakthrough ideas, but on things that are meant to get you thinking seriously about your product and company.

They outline the five major areas or types of products and use the acronym PRISM to describe them.

  • Primary Products (e.g. a car)
  • Related products (radar detectors, spare parts)
  • Information Products (signage, consulting, manuals etc.)
  • Services (manufacturing, protection, sales, repair)
  • Media (advertising, entertainment, racing, collectors).

It’s an organized way of determining what market you’re in, and what your target market could be.

Later they give ideas to help you think about how you might change your business or product, asking you to ask yourself questions such as:

  • How would a Higher Power change this?
  • How would a billionaire redesign it?
  • What will this look like 100 years from now?
  • How could this be multi-sensitized (sight, taste, touch, sound)?
  • How would the worlds leading scientists improve this?
  • Where in the world could we take this? What in the world could we bring here?
  • How would a 5 year old improve this?
  • What if we could see like the blind and hear like the deaf?
  • What if we could bring back the past? (nostalgia)

In addition, they suggest considering doing one or some of the following to increase profit potential from an idea;

  • Enlighten it
  • Residualize it (make it work for you)
  • Create multiple streams of wealth
  • Combine it
  • Add to it
  • Subtract from it
  • Multiply it
  • Make it grow exponentially
  • Divide it
  • Maximize it
  • Focus it
  • Make it faster
  • Slow it down
  • Undo/Reverse it partly
  • Connect it to something else
  • Appeal to the sender
  • Attract its opposite
  • Make it “planet friendly”

Again, nothing revolutionary, but very good starting points for thinking about how to change. Overall, I don’t think there’s a code that’s broken by the book, but it is definitely a strong motivator, inspiring people to do seek to create wealth for noble causes and giving many good ideas on how to begin.

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May 27, 2005