September, 2010 Archive

Philippines: Truly beyond the usual

September 28th, 2010 by Liz in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

A few more days and we are saying goodbye to the Philippines.

I am going to have such wonderful memories of this piece of paradise, and it is with a heavy heart that I will leave this place.

So before I go, let me just paint you a picture of what I’m experiencing in this charming country.

First of all, the Philippines is such a contradiction <g>.  Or maybe it just has too many islands, scattered throughout its archipelago, that it’s difficult to attribute a definitive feature to explain what this country really is like.

Let me illustrate my point.  When you arrive, you land at the airport right smack in the main city of Manila which is the central business district.  Manila is heavily populated and never in my life have I encountered an ABSOLUTELY INSANE traffic.

Everyone drives like maniacs according to US standards, but what’s surprising to us is they all seem to know where everyone else is going.  Despite breaking all the traffic rules as Ric noted, the drivers are just totally in sync.  As proof, of the tens of thousands of vehicles we saw over a number of weeks – we saw only 1 mild fender-bender <g>!  Absolutely insane, I tell you!  If you’ve driven here, you can drive anywhere else in the world.  But that’s just Manila.

From the city to the sea

Go a little farther down south and you get a glimpse of the charming countryside, with the magnificent chessboard fields, and long, long trails of greens, and a clear, blue endless sky.

Ric said the transformation was just so poetic <g>.  We rode in a banca – a very long, VERY narrow boat with bamboo “wings” on either side that help it skim through the water – across the Verde Island Passage for the first time on our way to check out our new home.  From the city of Manila – one of the most heavily populated cities in the world – to the serene welcome of the crystal clear waters from one of the most beautiful bays in the world – to the provincial peace and quiet of our seaside home – it was just marvelous.

Puerto Galera on the Island of Mindoro is the nearest coastal town, a mere three-hour drive and 60-minute boat ride from Manila.

I’ve NEVER been a morning person, but here I naturally wake up between 6 and 7am every morning for the simple reason that I just have to admire the amazing view from my window.

I lie in bed looking out the open glass doors onto the bay as it wakes up. The birds calling, the sun cresting the ridge of the mountains in the East, the few men out in their tiny bancas fishing with hand lines, and the sweet heavy scent of tropical flowers greeting the day.  And that’s just a view outside my bedroom.

One thing that I’m going to take with me when I get home is the wonderful memory of this view.

Then of course, Ric and the kids have their own take-homes.

Stefan said he will always remember ‘driving’ the water buffalo cart through the “jungle” to the waterfalls <g>.  The farmer driving the cart let him ride in the driver’s seat the rickety wooden cart and hold the rope that acted as the reins.  He has made a lot of friends here from the community and they have tons of fun creating sand castles and picking pebbles.

Chandler can’t get enough of the water.  I can’t blame him since the water is basically downstairs from our front door.  He just heads out on the dock, jumps in, goes snorkeling, or takes the kayak out to the floating slide, or dives in the deep water. Everyday <g>!

He has also discovered diving off of rocks at this craggy falls called, Hidden Paradise Waterfalls in Mindoro. (I try not to watch!)

As for Ric, he said he’d love to bring home the food, since he couldn’t bring the bay <g>.

Trip to Sarap

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food” - Erma Bombeck

 

We seem to have a continued string of surprises waiting for us at every turn here in the Philippines.  And the best surprise is the food <g>.  Chandler, who’s a picky eater, thought he wouldn’t like the cuisine- BUT the kid is eating us out of house and home.  Jocelyn, our cook and housekeeper, made steak one night and he ate 3.  He ate an entire “whole fish” one night, and he’s developed a taste for Calamansi juice.  Calamansi is about the size of a Key Lime and tastes like a cross between a lemon and a lime. Maybe this is what Sprite had in mind with the “limon” <g>.

I guess it’s no longer a surprise that the first Filipino word I learned is ‘Sarap’ which means delicious <g>.

If I could, I want to bring Jocelyn home with me.  She is an absolutely AMAZING cook and she prepares our lunch and dinner every day that there’s no need for us to go out.  Often I’ll order some local dish in a restaurant then come home and ask her if she knows it – she always does and hers has always been better.  It was a bit embarrassing when we asked her to make fried chicken and hers was better than mine! I’m a Southerner after all <g>.

From the sea to the mountains…

 

The family’s ‘voyage’ to the mountains was a bit of a misadventure, but hey, those seem to be the spice of international travel  and definitely serves to make the trips even more memorable.

Perhaps the route we took wasn’t the best one.  Long story short, Stefan’s tummy didn’t agree with the long and twisty roads leading down through the mountains and he got car sick.  It was indeed a long and smelly 9-hour trip home from the famous city of pines.

But overall it was well worth it! The mountains the city is located in are absolutely stunning <g>.  We stayed at the Camp John Hay Manor Lodge where everybody soaked up the cool mountain air outdoors.

We all went horseback riding a couple of times – and Stefan got to ride on his own for the first time.  It was amazing, to be on a horse while enjoying the scenic view and the fresh mountain air <g>.

 

Come rain, come shine, come stars…

 

The Philippines has only two seasons: rainy and summer.  Thank goodness we’re here during the rainy one, because the heat can be tough on those of us who have winters.

It’s actually cooler here than it is at home in Virginia – but the difference is we have air conditioning there and not here.

Not that I’m complaining because I do love the afternoon and evening rains that cool everything off.  And though I’m also used to living in an enclosed house, I have come to love ‘living outside’ <g>.

Here, we basically live under the stars.  The living room is a second-story raised open Lanai – the dining room has one wall as an open sheer cliff, and the kitchen and all the bathrooms have “windows” but instead of glass insets they have decorative wrought iron bars that are open to the outside, and my bedroom has a series of 3 sets of glass double-doors that are perpetually open onto the 3rd story balcony.  When we stayed in a hotel a few weekends back I actually started feeling a little claustrophobic with being enclosed – going home will be an interesting adjustment.

More leave takings

After all the books, advice, travel blogs we’ve gone through before our trip to the Philippines, there still is no better way to figure out a place than experiencing it for yourself.

Get those sails ready!
Liz



Blogging Your Way to Better Business

September 21st, 2010 by Ric in Sharing Success

Imagine walking into a store where nobody really speaks with you. When you want to find out more about a particular item, they hand you a brochure, or point to the description on the side of the box.

Now imagine another store where people greet you when you come in, and where they try to answer any questions you have. They even tell you what they like (and don’t like) about some of the products on their shelves.

Which of these stores would you rather shop in? Which of these stores would want to own?

If, like me, you picked the second store, you should know that blogging is the online equivalent of owning that second store.  You see, a blog is one of the best ways to give your website a face or a personality. It’s a great way to actually interact with your readers and engage them in conversation. It’s a way for you to show them a brochure, and also discuss your own experiences with the products you have on offer.

The ability to interact with your customers isn’t the only reason you should have a blog. Luat Van Tran has an article up on Small Business CEO Magazine called Super Blogging – 5 Reasons Why Blogging Can Skyrocket Your Profits that, as the title suggests, gives you five more super reasons. Here’s what he has to say:

1. Blogging is simple.

Luat Van Tran really puts it quite well: “an average adult can read and type, or at least click a mouse. It’s like having a virtual piece of paper.”  What can be simpler than that? You share your thoughts and ideas, and others can share theirs too.

2. Blogging is authentic.

Blogging evolved from online diaries where people kept a record of their day-to-day activities, and while many blogs cover a wider array of topics, that personal element is still very strong.

As I mentioned in the previous point, blogging allows you to share your thoughts and ideas. You don’t need to recite some sort of marketing spiel, which, by the way, most people probably tune out – instead, you can share your experiences with a certain product and discuss many things that can’t be found in the packaging or the sales brochure. This gets people to listen (or read) because they see you and the people in your business, not just a brand or a product.

3. Blogging is free.

Any business owner wants to maximize ROI (return on investment), right? Blogging costs nothing (or next to nothing), but it can help you generate more income, grow your market, enhance your credibility, and basically improve your business. That makes it a good investment, right?

4. Blogging builds credibility.

As you write more about a specific subject, your readers begin to depend on you for information on that topic. You probably also learn more on the topic as you write about it too, giving you even more stuff to write about – and this perpetuates the cycle.

Eventually, you become known as an expert on the subject, and more readers visit your site. These new readers are likely to link to you, and bring in even more readers, and possibly, some companies or organizations that want to advertise on your blog.

5. Blogging builds your market.

You’ll probably start out with just a few readers, but with enough effort and a little bit of time, you can expect your readership to grow. As the number of readers you have rises, so does the number of potential customers, as well as your potential profits.

Luat Van Tran also shares some techniques for expanding your readership base, including: placing a link to your blog in your email signature, offering exclusive information to subscribers, conducting surveys, and others. I won’t go into them here – instead, I suggest you read the full article at the SBCEO site.

6. BONUS: Search engines love blogs.

This is a point that Martin Sejas makes in his post How to Make Money Blogging, also on SBCEO. The reason is simple, “blogs tend to have the freshest and most up to date content on the Web,” and search engines simply love fresh content. So if you want to shoot up the search engine rankings, blogging is one of the best tools available.

Since I brought up Martin’s post on How to Make Money Blogging already, I think we should tackle some of the other points he makes too. The first point he makes is this:

Blogging is Just a Vehicle to Making Money Online

Martin puts it best: “99% of people do not make a full time living directly from their blogs.” However, he stresses that using blogging as a vehicle to make money online could be very lucrative.

We’ve already tackled the second point he makes, which is Why Blog? The answer is that search engines love blogs. Now we can move on to his other tips:

Content Is King

Martin suggests that you continually update your blog – these updates, after all, are what the search engines love.  The more often you update, the better – but he does suggest sticking to a cap of 1 new post a day.

You Pitch, You Lose

Blogging is not about marketing, pitching, promoting, and basically selling a product – it’s about conversation. You don’t go up to somebody at a party and immediately pitch them something you’re selling do you? Doing the same thing on your blog will only turn off visitors (and potential customers).

“The best way to make money with a blog” explains Martin, “is by using your blog as a medium through which online visitors can get to know you and what you are about. Use a blog to build rapport and trust with them.”

Build a List
We’ve emphasized the value of lists several times in our different sites, so it’s no surprise to see this tip. The point of the list is to allow you to find out who among your vistors are really interested in you, your business, and your products. This allows you to promote your products or services without turning off your other readers.

How do you build a list?

It’s simple – you ask for their names and email addresses. Of course, you need to give them something in return.  A few ideas Martin suggests include access to a weekly newsletter, a free video, and a free report, among others. The point is that you have to give them something of value.

The Key to Making Money With a Blog

Martin really sums it up well in the following paragraph:

“The better and more regular your content is, the higher your blog will rank in the search engines. And the higher your rankings, the more traffic your blog will get. And the more traffic it gets, the more people opt into your list. And the more people that join your list, the more sales and customers you can make.”

When doing business, you want to interact with your customers, converse with them, and let your personality shine through – this leads to happier customers and better business.  You want to do this online too, and a great way to do this is maintaining a blog.

Happy Blogging!
Ric


Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



The Definitive Guide to Wasting Networking Opportunities

September 14th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle

We’ve discussed how networking is both a skillset and a mindset, but we’re not done with that topic yet. You see, the “father of modern networking,” Dr. Ivan Misner,  has given us a ton of useful information on the subject, and I’d like to share a few more of his ideas with you.

This time around, we’re focusing on the things you do not want to do while networking. Think of this as the a guide to wasting networking opportunities. He shares some Networking Faux Pas on Small Business CEO Magazine, and tackles the Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group over at Healthy Wealthy n Wise.

First let’s go over the faux pas. A faux pas, literally translated, is a false step or misstep – and it usually refers to a violation of etiquette or social norms. The following are some networking faux pas you definitely want to avoid:

1.  Not responding quickly to referral partners

It is very important that you treat your networking partners like you would all of your best clients, and this includes responding to them in a timely manner. Making a referral partner wait for your call sends them a message about your credibility and reliability, and it probably isn’t a good one.

2.  Confusing networking with direct selling

We’ve covered the Farming Mentality mindset in the past, highlighting the need to cultivate relationships with potential clients, referrers, and partners – this is the exact opposite of that. The people you meet networking functions are not just prospects, and the business cards you collect from them are not fodder for your distribution lists. Networking is more than just collecting contact information – it’s about building relationships.

3.  Abusing the relationship

Ivan shares the story of a woman who was invited to an associate’s birthday party. She decided to attend, but found that “the ‘party goers’ were being recruited for a business opportunity.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how these ‘party goers’ felt.

The last thing you want to do with a networking partner, or any other person for that matter, is to betray their trust. Networking, as we keep saying, is about building relationships – and trust is one of the foundations of a good relationship.

Like I mentioned, I also want to share Ivan’s Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group. Ivan’s list has such a wonderful flow to it, so I’ll save my comments for the end. Now let’s get straight to the time-wasting tactics:

10. Go ahead, air your grievances among your fellow networkers and guests; after all, they really want to      hear about your complaints.

9.   Wing it in your regular presentations to fellow members, you’ve got plenty more chances anyway.

8.   Use 1 to 1 meetings to talk about your networking groups’ issues instead of learning a lot more about each other.

7.   Focus your efforts on selling your services primarily to the members of the group.

6.   Don’t rush to follow up on a referral when someone gives you one. Hey, they know where to find you ifthey really need you… right?

5.   While other people are doing their introductions, that’s the perfect time to think about what referrals you can give that week.

4.   Why invite your own guests? Just focus on those who show up.

3.   Don’t worry if you get to the meeting late. No one will notice.

2.   Be absent, it’s no big deal. You can just call in your referrals… right?

and the #1 way to waste your time in networking groups…

1.   It’s OK, take that phone call or text message during a meeting, it won’t bother anyone and it’s a real sign of professionalism that everyone admires.

I think Ivan has come up with some fantastic ways to waste networking opportunities.  I personally love numbers 3 and 1 – it’s just so empowering to make people wait for you or show them how busy and important you are. I also love number 7 – networking is all about getting new customers, right?

That rounds out our guide to wasting networking opportunities. If you think we missed anything, or if you have your own stories about wasted or botched up networking opportunities, share them with us in the comments.

Again, happy networking!
Ric


Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Some Guys Have All the Luck

September 9th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

“Some guys have all the luck,
Some guys have all the pain,
Some guys get all the breaks,
Some guys do nothing but complain.”

- Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart may have been complaining in this song, but he did get something right: some guys really do have all the luck, and some really do nothing but complain.

There are people who seem to have been born lucky.  They know what they want, set out to get it, and somehow, everything falls into place.  Even if something goes wrong along the way, they still manage to land on their feet.

Some people, on the other hand, who just can’t seem to catch a break.  These are the people who believe that someday their luck will turn, and that someday, the “lucky ones” will run out of luck too.  Some of them will simply blame the stars – they believe they’re fated to be unlucky, and they can’t do anything about it.

In a strange way, the unlucky ones are right, or so says Drawk Kwast.  In his article Science of Luck on Small Business CEO Magazine, he explains that “The biggest reason you don’t have the life you want is because you are focused on what you aren’t getting. You see only your lack of luck. Successful people live life as they desire because they focus on what they are getting.”

The unlucky ones are unlucky because they believe they’re unlucky.  Makes sense, right?

Drawk shares the results of a study conducted by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.  In the study, he asked two groups of people, a “lucky” group and an “unlucky” one, to look through a newspaper and tell him how many photographs were in it.    On average, the lucky people had their answers in seconds, while the unlucky ones took two minutes.

Luck is about keeping your eyes open

The lucky ones saw a large message taking up half of the second page that said: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”  The unlucky ones totally missed it and kept counting.

The key, as Drawk puts it is this: “It’s not about luck. It’s about keeping your eyes open.”  He goes on to say that he’s among the lucky ones, “not that I have better luck than other people; it’s that I can see things that others can’t.”  Drawk can identify opportunities for growth and success that many others can’t, and he also interacts with as many people as possible to create those opportunities.

Luck is about extending your hand

This idea is shared by other lucky people.  One of them is Tom McCarthy, whom I interviewed a few months back for a NOBS TALK on Increasing Your Luck.  Tom explains: “One of the things lucky people do that unlucky people tend not to do is they maximize the number of opportunities that come to them.”  By being outgoing, by introducing yourself to others, and by expanding your network, you create opportunities for yourself, and improve your luck.

Luck is about listening to your gut

Tom also shares that lucky people listen to their “lucky hunches,” while unlucky ones go against them.  If that doesn’t quite make sense, replace “lucky hunches” with gut or intuition.  You improve your luck by following your gut – it might not get it 100% right, but more often than not, your intuition will steer you in the right direction, and you’ll be happier for it.

Luck is about keeping a smile on your face

This brings us two the idea that lucky people are happier.  The idea seems so obvious – if things just seem to fall in place for you, of course you’ll be happy about that.  What most people don’t see, however, is that it works when you flip things around – happy people are luckier too.

J.D. Roth discusses this on Zen Habits in his article How to Make the Most Out of Luck in Your Career and Life.  “A person who leads a balanced life is happier, more relaxed, more open to new experiences,” J.D. Explains.  “If you maintain good relationships, pursue satisfying hobbies, go out of your way to help others, and continue to pursue personal growth, you will become a well-rounded person, just the sort that ‘luck’ favors.”

Michael Levy also discusses this briefly in his article The Five Principles for Prosperity. The first principle he shares is to Enjoy Everything.  Enthusiasm and exploration, he says, “leave the door open for future development.”

Drawk Kwast really sums it up well: “This has nothing to do with luck. It’s pure science.”  Luck is all about your attitude and your outlook.  It’s about opening your eyes, creating opportunities, following your gut, and maintaining a positive attitude.  The question now is this:

Will you create your own luck, or will you be one of those who do nothing but complain?

Good luck!
Ric


Image by: chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net