Every Minute of Your Time is an Investment

October 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

You can always make more money but you can never make more time. 

Each minute you have needs to be used, to be valued, to be invested.

If you are writing an email with advice, could that email be turned into a blog post?

I’m not saying don’t ever watch TV or hang out with friends, because those also have value.  Let me explain.

Like eating a balanced meal, our energy and emotions also need to be balanced.  But, everything in moderation.

Instead of watching 3 hours of TV, cut it back to a half hour.  Keep it focused on having value – i.e. you’re watching that show in order to relax or to laugh or exercise your brain.  If you’re watching a show because it creates drama (Jerry Springer style) do you really need it?  Garbage in garbage out.  Know why you’re doing it and make it be an investment in yourself.

What are the critical areas in which we need nurturing?

  • Sleep.  Don’t be that useless hero who tries to go days without sleep.  Sleep gives us energy.  Take what your body needs, don’t cheat.
  • Food.  Stay away from the junk. Take the time to eat slowly and not in a rush.  Your body will thank you.
  • Friends.  Invite the friends and association into your life that will nourish your soul.
  • Family.  Every family, including the Cleaver’s, have hard times.  But (in most cases) your family will be that ultimate grounding.  Devote time to nourishing these roots (there is a reason they’re called roots!).
  • Mental Stimulation.  Contact and conversation with friends, coworkers, etc. or a trip to the museum.
  • Relaxation.  Spa, climbing, yoga, hot shower, that half hour of your favorite show, journaling, Sunday brunch … pick a vice, just keep it in check.
  • Exercise.  Healthy body, healthy mind.  Even 1 walk per day will help get your energy flowing.  Don’t be sedentary.  Make the time.

These all feed into our emotional and physical health.  But for the rest of your seconds, minutes, hours – all of it should count.  Create, learn, grow.  Don’t waste.

Taking a road trip, could you also be listening to an educational program, talking to a business partner, enjoying a much needed chat with a friend? … whatever it is, figure out your checks and balances, and make every second of your time a personal investment.

6 Tricks to Sell Out Your First Skillshare Class

October 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Tricks for building a successful Skillshare class and how to sell out your first Skillshare class.

1. Promoting

If Skillshare already exists in your city….  great!  You can leverage their lists for distribution.

If Skillshare is new to your city or doesn’t really exist yet, ask:

What other business networks exist locally?

What other networking platforms exist where you can post your content?

For example:

  • EventBrite
  • Meetup groups
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Biznik

Be careful of terms of service, but what I did is I pointed the other services to my Skillshare class link.  It’s all extra promotion (and SEO) for Skillshare and they encourage you to promote via social networks.  Leverage what you can, as long as it drives people to Skillshare, it’s a win/win for everyone.

Also, for the first class, keeping the costs low ($15-$25) and the class size low (5-7) will guarantee higher success.  Saying your first class “sold out” with people on the waiting list helps create demand.

The first class is hardest.

2. Build Interest

Tip: “seed” a few people in the class.  Nobody likes to be the first person to book the class.  People who are passing by and think the class looks interesting are more inclined to come if they see that others are also interested.  This validates your class concept and gives social proof, which is a must for the first class particularly.

Create a few promotion codes and give them out to friends and influencers.  Having 2-3 influencers in the community you’re targeting on the list will guarantee that your class will fill up.

Be sure to post the class a few times before it begins, for example:

  • 2-3 weeks prior make the first announcement
  • 1 week before the class, post on a day where your target audience will be most active (have your seeders planted by this stage)
  • 2 days prior make a post about how excited you are about the class to continue to build excitement
  • the day of (for those last-minute attendees)

3. Create Networking Opportunties

Potential students are likely looking at the profiles of those who signed up.  Having people who have interesting profiles helps because the potential students are going not just to learn but also to network and to create a network around a similar subject.  Encourage the students to meet other like minded people in class.

4. Focus on Great Copy:

In your class description:

  • what is it you’re teaching and why?
  • what will the student walk away with?
  • how is it applicable to them?

Don’t use tech terms that nobody will understand.  But don’t be a used car salesman either and play buzzword scrabble.

> You’ll learn: 

In this section, instead of saying

“how to use social media to grow your audience” (very generic and non-unique weak promise)


“how to increase your Twitter following to 1,000 quality followers in the next 30 days”  (realistic target, high quality, great ROI on class)

> You’ll walk away with:

Make sure these are practical skills.  The student should see themselves having actionable items immediately from this course.

  1. a twitter account (if you don’t have one already)
  2. the knowledge and tools to go from 0-1,000 twitter followers in 30 days

> About the Teacher:

Next, they want to know why you are qualified?  Have you done this?  Why you?

Self-promotion is SO hard but it’s necessary.  Students want to know and believe that they will walk away with the tools and knowledge to do what you did – this creates a WOW factor and will help also drive attendance.

5. Select a Great Location

Having a great location, one that resonates with your audience, is also key.  If you’re talking about tech issues to a tech crowd and you plan to meet at planned parenthood, it’s probably going to affect the turnout.

Remember, you are still selling your skills and a new class.  If you hold it at a reputable location, your credibility increases.

6. Connect with Students

This is less about filling seats, now, and more about quality.  You want to build value.  Send the students an email, a survey, take an interest and interact prior to class.  Tailor your content to the needs and interests of the eager learners.  They want to learn and they are taking time to come see you.  Give them so much value that you feel like you’re getting ripped off.  They will walk away feeling like they got their money’s worth and then some.

The result?

Powerful endorsements and “street cred” on Skillshare.  Your next class, while still following similar principles, will be easier to sell and you can increase the size of your class, and price.

At least that’s what I did.

Where Will the Next Best Tech Talent be Sourced?

July 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Not the United States.

Not the UK.

Guess again – it’s Eastern Europe. This may not surprise you if you’ve worked in startups who’ve outsourced tech talent and will tell you that the best talent comes from Eastern Europe. Even Victoria Ransom of Wildfire Interactive started this Silicon Valley VC-backed company with two Engineers from Estonia. Coincidentally, Estonia is ranked no. 1.  


Here’s a piece of Victoria’s story from her Mixergy interview

What we did though is we found some very small teams. Our first team of developers were in Estonia. It was a team of two guys. So we were dealing right with the developers themselves. And we were able to get very high caliber developers at a price that you could never have got in the US. Having said that, it was still more expensive than we probably would’ve got if we’d gone with an outsourcing firm. So we did pay for high talent.

I’d say that’s a key learning. Don’t skim on your development costs because you can end, it can end up costing you a lot more if you have an ineffective or inefficient developer.

But the other challenge is we found these two guys, I believe it was — giving away some secrets here — but it was on a website called workingwithrails, which I’m sure others have looked at. It’s a great rubyonrails site where you can find different developers and see how they’re ranked by their community, their peers.
But nevertheless we found these two guys in Estonia who we never met, and we’re not developers ourselves, so how could we know that the code they were producing was good? So what we actually did is — we were in Boston at the time — we found a local developer, someone we could get to know in person so that we could get very comfortable with him. And we had him not code for us, but just take a look at the code that these two guys in Estonia were producing for us in order to just…

You know, we could judge the end product, but what about what was under the product. The last thing we wanted to do was just create a product that was just a mess underneath. So this guy worked with us for about six weeks just looking over the code. These guys were producing it and the honest truth is, after a little while, he said you know what, these guys are brilliant; they’re even better than me, don’t worry about it.

And we worked with those guys now I guess it’s been two and a half years, but it’s been fantastic. They’re a core part of our team and then we were able to find other developers overseas to work with. But you know, that’s how we did it. Neither of us, that’s how we did it in a cost effective way without having any needs for a developer background ourselves.

Where will you look for your next tech talent?

FreeConferenceCall.com launches StartMeeting

July 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I’ve been using FreeConferenceCall.com and FreeConferencing.com to connect remotely with clients.  I have been happy with my service from FreeConferencing and had switched from Webex after testing it.  But, I was wondering how FreeConferencing was planning to monetize with all calls and conferences being free and zero advertising… but today I found out how – with a sister company called StartMeeting.  A premium service for audio and web conferencing.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I am confident that, based on their track record with me, it will deliver.  I’ll let them tell you about it below.  If anyone has experience with StartMeeting, can you share your experience?

Premium Services from FreeConferenceCall.com

It Took a Conference Calling Company to Get Screen Sharing Right:
StartMeeting Offers Conference Calls or Conference Calls with Screen Sharing

StartMeeting.com Logo FreeConferenceCall.com has launched a sister company, StartMeeting, to allow you to Share Better at a fraction of the cost! StartMeeting is a new audio and web conferencing service that incorporates state-of-the-art features including screen sharing; easy-to-use meeting recording; and a customizable online Meeting Wall.StartMeeting is offering customers the audio and web service for significantly less than similar services. Prices for screen sharing start at $19.95 per month for a 50 participant capacity. This is compared to $39 for 15 participants at GoToMeeting and $49 for 25 participants at WebEx.For more information, visit www.StartMeeting.com


  • Cloud-Based Recording: User-friendly simultaneous recording of screen sharing and audio meetings, and files can be shared via Facebook and other platforms (Windows and Mac).
  • Synchronized Audio Conferencing: Reservationless calls include toll, toll-free, and an integrated high-definition VoIP platform — all with a dedicated access number.
  • Dedicated Meeting Credentials: Unlike some other audio/web services, hosts are given exclusive credentials to set up their meetings that never change.
  • Screen Sharing: Unlimited screen sharing of content. Subscriptions are offered with 50, 200, 500, and 1,000 participant capacities.
  • Meeting Wall: Customize it with colors, logos, profile pictures, and upload files or links that support the online meeting (without emailing the documents to participants).
  • Audio Web Controls: Mute, lock, identify or disconnect a caller; enter lecture mode (one-way communication); and hold Q&A Sessions with participants.
  • Enhanced Audio Features: Customize hold music and a greeting for participants entering the conference.

Stephen Covey Began with the End in Mind

July 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm

While teaching my very first Skillshare class, I was in the middle of crediting one of my heroes, Stephen Covey, when someone in the class raised their hand and said “Did you know he just died?”

The day before class, Stephen Covey had passed away at age 79 due to complications from a bike accident in Utah a few months prior.

We all stopped mid-class and did a symbolic pause and toasted a great human being, now passed.

On my Kindle app on my iPhone I’ve been re-reading Habit 2 from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I pull up generally on a New York subway to pass the time, as well as learn and continue to be inspired by Covey’s teachings.

The greatest impact, though there have been many, from Stephen Covey, for me, was “Begin with the End in Mind”.

Covey said to imagine yourself at your own funeral (we did this in class, just after the news, and it was powerful).  There you are, at your funeral, lying in your casket.  There are people around you.  Like a fly on the wall you can buzz around the room and hear what each person is saying.

Covey asked “what are they saying about you?”

The question then becomes… “what do you want them to say?”

Thus begins your journey.  Always know where you’re going before you get there.  What’s your roadmap – based on your values, your principles, your knowledge of your strengths, and based on your own imagined script.  Who do you want to be?  Really think about it.  Any one of us could be in that casket tomorrow and it’s never too late to think about how to make a change today that can impact your own life and the lives of others.

Begin with the End in Mind.

Thank you, Stephen Covey, for touching my life and the lives of so many others.  No doubt that as people are talking at your funeral, they are giving thanks.  Your legend will live on for many years to come.  RIP.

Scrubbing Toilets in Malaga

May 1, 2012 at 2:26 am

I once said I would do whatever it took to go overseas and earn income, even if I had to scrub toilets with a toothbrush in Malaga, Spain.

Thankfully for the Internet, I can go to Malaga to brush my teeth and not the toilet.

It’s not that easy to uproot, to find a job, to pay for travel expenses, home expenses and loans, to learn a new language, adjust to cultural differences, or to scrub toilets.

I used to spend hours (at work, sorry Inger Reilly, it was only “hours” because the Internet was dialup!) researching ways to live and work abroad – visas, stories, tips, how-to’s.  Not much existed when the Internet first started.  Even still, we continue transforming in the digital era.  The Internet and technology evolve rapidly but humans are much slower to make shifts.

After having a first taste of life in Spain, I was hooked and needed to find a way to get back to exploring new cultures, languages, and places.

Finding a serious boyfriend, moving to Seattle, and getting a job at Adobe, “life” eventually hit me.  I got caught in the rat race and looked at what was around me, not within me.

There are a few ways to travel as a profession, and by that I don’t mean busking on the street and eating out of trash cans (though I’ve seen former corporate slaves do this).  You can be a writer or journalist, a photographer, become a roadie with a band, be sent overseas by your job, contractor.  For me, I tried many of these things (except for the band).  My options are contract work, self employment, and earning revenues either residually from business or from the sale of my company.

I’ve tried or am trying them all.  I have taught English in Spain, sold artesian crafts with gypsies on dirt streets, built websites in Hungary and Nicaragua, helped translate and sell tours in Oaxaca, promoted and sold tickets for a disco in Costa Rica, helped a musician friend panhandle in Argentina, and I once sold an octopus to a restaurant in Mexico …. so for the record, I just might scrub the toilet.  I have some great stories, though thankfully, there are better ways. Read on!


“Not all who wander are lost”

November 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

- J.R.R. Tolkien

Anywhere Sumo

October 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I’ve been a fan of AppSumo since the day I was introduced to it.  I am not a fan of daily deal sites.  But I fit the web geek demographic like a glove.  I read AppSumo content every day and I’ve taken advantage of some of the free samples they’ve given out.

App Sumo Anywhere Entrepreneur Live Work Anywhere

What I didn’t know, and what I just found out thanks to this video, is that they also travel the world while running a business.  Kudos Sumos!  I might have to call you ‘Idol’ instead of Sumo.

I was inspired by the fact that Chief Sumo was able to keep his business running while in in another country, namely Argentina.  Last year in Buenos Aires, I was there having a conference call for Beer2Buds.  If it weren’t for the power unexpectedly going out, there would have been no glitches.  I worked from 10 am until 10 pm.  But, when I went out for groceries, for a run, or for dinner – I was in Argentina!  That’s the difference.

Web Conferencing for Traveling Professionals

July 16, 2011 at 12:32 am

Working remotely means remote communications: trainings, conversations, interviews, sales meetings, presentations, tech support, and so on.  I was using webex at $49/month until freeconferencing came out with their webinar software.

Benefits of freeconferencing:

  • FREE (really, it’s free, and so is the conference call line you use to dial in – I’ve been using this for a couple years and it works great)
  • simple setup
  • browser based
  • recording, screensharing, chat
  • connect to Skype - For an international traveler who is conscious of international roaming, this is a big one!

I’ve been testing it side by side with webex and there’s no downside, even for a newly released product it’s been great.  If anyone has had any other experiences, please let me know.  Otherwise, highly recommended not just for cost savings on the software, but also on phone call costs for the world traveler.

Web Conferencing for Traveling Professionals

The Virtual LandLord

July 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Today I received a fax with a 12 month lease and deposit for my rental in Seattle. After 2 months of being vacant and going through 30+ inquires and applications, the house is finally rented.  All done from New York City.

This is a topic I’ve always wanted to write about.  I’ve always wanted to have my own place to call ‘home’, a place to rest my stuff when traveling.

Libby's House in Seattle

Here, in Seattle, I bought a house and I’ve been renting it out for the past 6 years.  I had two houses, but sold one as I downgraded to 4 boxes (previous post).

I learned that with the housing market and having refinanced to an interest-only loan that was just at the end of its 3 year pre-payment penalty, that I would have to sell the first house.

The second one, the one in the picture, I remodeled and turned into two full living spaces with separate entrances.  I’ve discovered that you need to have overage of at least 25% in order to break even from maintenance, vacancies, and so on.

Becoming a virtual landlord isn’t easy, but it’s doable – from anywhere in the world.

Before leaving Seattle for NYC, I filmed a video tour of the house and put it on YouTube. When prospective tenants would call, I’d send essentially the same template that would include:

  • more information on house, deposit, neighborhood, etc
  • pet deposit (if applicable)
  • asking the prospective tenant’s current living situation, number of total tenants in consideration, and when they were looking to move, as well as what they did for income
  • a link to the YouTube video
  • setting up a time/day for a viewing
  • a link to my Google Voice number (if I were posting from Chile, I would still have a US number and able to take/return calls (see previous post))

I hid a key before I left.  After qualifying the tenant and arranging a day/time (and after I’d send the video so they were able to see if they liked it before either of us would waste any more time), I would then send them to the house and tell them I had a friend place the key and that they would be by, but not until after their timeframe.

Finally after several potential tenants and one guy falling through not once, but twice, I got the signed lease faxed today to my Ring Central number.  Done!

A few hurdles along the way such as a friend going over to open the house and accidentally locking all doors which locked out the potential tenants when they arrived for their scheduled visit, or my sister and her new husband crashing at the house and locking the key inside – I had to get copies made and overnighted to Seattle in time for a coworker to head over and unlock the house.  But, other than those fun snafus, it all worked out and I’m able to enjoy my time in NYC with the peace of mind of my house being rented.