“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
Reading is one of those hobbies I cannot vouch for enough. I have always read a lot. Since I was a kid, reading has been really important to me. One of the things that took me out of reality yet somehow helped me grow more and get better in the real world was reading.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
Reading is one of the best ways to learn anything you want. Think of something that you want to learn, head on to the library, and there is bound to be a few books about it. With the internet, it has become easier for people to get their hands onto books that are expensive and difficult to get.
If you don’t have a lot to spend you can still read a lot. Library memberships are a good investment to read physical books. There are tons of ebooks available for free, the ones that require you to pay aren’t that expensive either. You do not have to have a dedicated e-reader to read an ebook. You can read the books on your phone or laptop.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”
Most successful people have always read a lot. Reading is always advised by them. They all have a particular reading routine they follow. Today we will be talking about a few so that you feel inspired to pick up a book yourself.
Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, business magnate, and investor, is someone a lot of people look up to. His quotes are religiously followed by many.
When Warren Buffett was asked about the key to his success, he pointed to a stack of books, and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
At the beginning of his investment career, he took his reading to an extreme, he read between 600 and 1000 pages per day. He still dedicates 80% of his time reading. He starts his day by reading various newspapers.
“I read and think,” Buffett once said. “So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”
Read this post on CNBC that talks about the scientific reasons to follow Warren Buffett’s reading routine.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Mark Cuban is a businessman and investor. Mark Cuban is
- the owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks.
- the co-owner of 2929 Entertainment.
- the chairman of AXS TV.
- one of the main “shark” investors on the ABC reality television series, Shark Tank.
- an author.
Many people starting out in business look up to him. Even with so many things to run, he still finds time to read. Mark Cuban reads for 4-5 hours every day. He starts with reading newspapers. He is subscribed to Dallas Morning News, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and six magazines. He reads curation sites, goes through emails, does technological research.
Since he was 20, he read everything he could get his hands on. He explained what he read with this, “every book or magazine I could get my hands on because one good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between me making it or not.”
Mark wrote on his blog:
“A guy with little computer background could compete with far more experienced guys just because I put in the time to learn all I could. Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage.”
“To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business.”
Bill Gates is someone whose name is familiar to even people who have no interest in business or investing. He is a philanthropist, business magnate and investor. Who hasn’t heard of Microsoft? Gates was the principal founder of the corporation.
Bill Gates reads 50 books a year, making it one book every week. Unlike the other two we talked about, this one is easier for most to follow. If you don’t read, you can start by following Bill Gates reading routine. A book a week can be achieved easily if you are dedicated enough.
“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”
Non-fiction gives a lot of information on various topics. Successful people don’t read for entertainment, they read to gather information. They are interested in books that are dedicated to the craft they work on, as well as the biographies and autobiographies of other successful people. You can get life-changing information from reading. Reading is a form of entertainment that is sure to teach you a lot.
From their reading choices, you can make out that successful people are more selective with what they read, they value their time. Tom Corly, the author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” studied the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people over 5 years. He found that 67 percent of rich people watch TV for less than one hour a day.
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
Why Prioritizing Tasks Can Lead to Success
We often have a lot of things that we would like to do – some short term and some part of our long term goals. There are only so many hours in the day. Knowing how to dedicate those hours to goals that actually matter is very important to achieve success.
Everyone has the same hours given to them in a day and how we spend those hours defines what we are going to achieve. You see many people working non-stop yet some of them succeed while others don’t. What do you think sets these people apart?
The people who are crushing it have realized the importance of prioritizing the tasks they dedicate their time to. The importance of time management is something that when learned will help you achieve wonders.
“Think of your priorities, not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.”
To achieve what you want, it is really important to learn how to prioritize – there will always be a plethora of things you want to do but they will never all be at the same level in the priority chart. You need to learn to teach yourself to decide on what is important and stick to doing that.
Under the guise to achieving success and doing as much as we can, we’ve all had that feeling where we’re working at an incredible pace and intensity. Even after that, we see ourselves making very little progress.
The reason it feels like our progress is low or we are making no progress at all is because it is exactly that. The notion that we can possibly be doing a million things back-to-back and still be effective is preposterous, to say the least.
People often mistake being busy with being productive. When you keep all your tasks at the same level of priority, it is easy to be sucked down the path of being busy rather than being productive. Busy without productivity is one of the major reasons for failure. It is sad because you won’t know that the issue is you, the feeling of doing a lot and still failing is enough to demotivate you into doing nothing.
It is Important to Remember That We Have Constraints
You need not be doing the most to succeed, you need to be doing the things that you need to succeed. Individuals and businesses alike need to prioritize their focus. As individuals or as growing businesses we have constraints in terms of resources and time.
None of these things come in abundance so we need to be highly vigilant when doling out our time and resources to certain tasks.
It is highly important for a person or business to spend their time on the most important areas that can drive success.
“In all planning, you make a list and you set priorities.”
To work our best and to make the most with the constraints we need to take into account, it is important to not take up unnecessary work. This applies to professionals heavily. When you are working with others, it can be difficult to say ‘no’ to extra work that keeps coming your way but you need to understand that it is not rude or unprofessional to say ‘no’ time to time when you have your own important tasks you would rather be doing.
We somehow grow up with the notion that we need to fill our plates as high as we can – that might come with attending weddings and buffets and trying to make the most of the spread. It doesn’t work in the professional sense though, all it will do is overwhelm you. Do not take on more work than you can manage to do.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”
Otherwise what happens is that all the unnecessary tasks keep us from doing the work that we are actually supposed to do. It also stems from our inability and hesitance to say ‘No.’ Most people have a hard time saying ‘no’ to requests, if you are one of them, then you better start asserting yourself and start turning down requests that take away from your productivity. If you start doing extra work for everyone else, you will never be able to get the free time you need to enjoy your life or take care of your priorities or to take care of yourself. No matter how busy you are, you need to find time for self-care.
How Does Prioritizing Your Tasks Work
Like we have already established, it is really important to know what tasks need to be done when. You can use any indicators that make the most sense to you when setting priorities. My process includes dividing all the tasks into high-priority, priority, and low-priority. You can also call them must-do, should-do, would-like-to-do – whatever clicks with you. Give them a number, or assign a letter or color to make it simpler for you to consult the list.
A is high-priority,
B is priority,
C is low-priority,
now write down the letters next to the tasks; now you know which ones to do first. This also helps isolate the tasks to further organize your tasks in a workable fashion.
One thing to keep in mind is to not add more than 2-3 tasks in the high-priority section. Chances are that the high-priority tasks are the most stressful ones and there is only so much stress we can handle in a day. If all your tasks for the day fall in that section then you are most probably setting yourself up for failure.
“When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.”
Also, try to get the MITs (Most Important Tasks) out of your way first. Many people just try to handle various activities as per their instinct or according to whatever they are in the mood for and end up never doing the important things. Later, they might blame it on ‘not having enough time’, which obviously is untrue.
It can be tempting to do all the smaller tasks first so that you have more completed tasks on your list. While it might seem like a good idea and might make you feel that that will make you feel accomplished and push you toward working more, it is rarely what will happen. The reality is that your mind will be tired doing a myriad of mundane tasks and by the time you reach the important and heavy work for the day, your mind will not be at the sharpest causing you to procrastinate.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
For example, imagine that you are required to submit a report by tomorrow evening. But you have a few personal activities that are pending, including watching a movie, a send-off party, and visiting your friend who is in the hospital.
Now, if you give priority to your personal activities, then your report might not be ready by evening the next day. This can lead to various complications on the professional front while not tending to your personal work might do the same to your personal life. To avoid this, you have to arrange the activities as per their importance to you.
Here are the tasks you have –
- Complete the report
- Watch a movie
- Attend the send-off party
- Visit your friend in the hospital
Tasks like watching a movie can be done any other day so it has the least importance in the bunch. Next, visiting a friend who is at the hospital may be necessary. But again, since you can visit them on any of the upcoming days depending on how serious they are and how long they are going to be in the hospital, you can postpone it. If this friend is close to you, then it will be a priority. See that this particular task has a lot more branches to consider to make a decision than a simple root cause.
Next, the send-off party that is scheduled today can be one of your priorities since you won’t be able to attend it on any other day. And lastly, the report will come at the top of the priority list since it is related to your work.
“In all planning, you make a list and you set priorities.”
Now that you have identified the priority of the activities, the only thing left to do is to follow them. So, start doing your project today and check-in at the party later in the night for a few hours if you can’t put it off. Tomorrow, you can continue with the project and finish it off.
Then, you can visit your friend in the hospital after you submit your report. Most hospitals will have visiting hours so that is another thing you have to take into account. If the hours are in the evening, you can drop by before you go to the party.
You can then finish the day by watching a movie late at night. And by following this tactic, you will never make an excuse for ‘not having enough time’ when required to do something within a time limit. That being said, managing all the things in quick successions takes a lot of determination, self-restraint, and a sense of commitment and accountability.
This becomes easier over time. If you are new to the game, you might have to let go of the party altogether along with the movie because the report and a friend bound to the hospital will take precedence.
Without priorities, the tasks we have lose their luster. For us to do our best and keep working toward our goal, we need to identify the tasks that require most of our attention. Because without knowing what tasks will help us achieve our long-term goals and dreams, it becomes easy to be sucked into doing a lot of unrelated tasks daily without making an actual impact. Prioritizing tasks makes sure that you do not stray from the path of achieving success.
How Influencer Marketing Helps You Put Your Business on the Map
In today’s times, social media is a life-changing tool for small businesses. The plethora of platforms available at our disposal to use – to benefit us and our businesses in ways that didn’t seem possible earlier – offers huge opportunity to engage with a community of prospects at a fraction of cost.
The key, however, is targetting the right audience and then coming up with resourceful ideas to pull them in. This is where influencer marketing comes in. Influencers are people who have a community of people following them with same interests.
“Influencers are people. People (or maybe personas) with a brand and an audience. What makes them attractive to advertisers is their ability to speak to a very defined group of fans. The way the ecosystem is maturing looks a lot like the internet in the early days.”
You don’t have to go out there to look for individuals with same interests, you can look for influencers that work with your field and have millions of potential customers ready for you to convert into leads.
This practice has made marketing so much more lucrative and easier. You will be a fool to not use social media to its full potential when it comes to affluential marketing. The success of a good social media marketing campaign is in its ability to reach out to the audience and engage with them, rather than to sell stuff.
Simply running your social media accounts on autopilot or pushing content only to put your products out through Twitter, Facebook or other social media accounts to a huge number of fake followers is simply not the right way to do it.
This is when you can use influencers to do the work for you. Though it’s kind of a new landscape for a substantially large number of people even in the marketing industry, influencer marketing has been around for quite a long time. What people don’t realize is that they exist and function within a nuclear testing ground of marketing strategies and yet, for the most part, is unaffected by it.
Influencer marketing was a concept spawned out of this idea – It’s not what is being said that’s important, it’s WHO says it that makes it count.
What is an Influencer
In essence, brand marketers “inspire” or reward strategic “influencers” to get the sales pitch out to the target customer base instead of doing it themselves directly. Influencers are basically entities (people or enterprises) who have a definite large number of followers who appreciate the content put out by the influencer.
This credibility is built over years of research, building networks, and regular engagement with authoritative figures. This is largely evidenced through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Over time, the influencers garner a fan base. This fan base could also be supporting an idea or philosophy that the Influencer represents through his actions or body of work, such as published articles online, political/non-political campaigns, video content, podcasts, or other multimedia content.
Corporate marketing personnel utilize social media and content marketing to drive the message across to a target audience. Influencers are expected to spread these specially crafted content through their personal social media channels and blogs.
In some scenarios, the content is created by brand marketers. But most of the time, influencers create their own customized content.
So how exactly does this all work out?
“Influencer marketing is the first real consumer-driven marketing channel. It’s real people talking to real people. If you look back, consumers have really only had a voice for about the last 10 years. As that happened, people started to talk about things they were passionate about, building audiences and providing real valuable content to people.”
In today’s setting, an influencer can work by reaching out to your target audience and persuading them to pay attention to your business through the following techniques:
- Writing blogs about your business, reviewing products and services.
- Posting information or updates about your products and services through social media accounts.
- YouTube review videos on products and services.
- They can provide you permission to guest post on their portals, which is subscribed to by your target audience.
Influencers can do any one of the above or any combination of the above to help your business brand make an impact on your target audience.
But how exactly do you set this in motion?
Influencing the Influencer
One thing to keep in mind is that influencers are running a business themselves. They are not going to be helping you just for the sake of it unless you have a pre-existing relationship with them. Make sure to research the market value for the niche and approach the influencer with a proposal based on their influence and work. Making use of influencers essentially translates to the two following scenarios:
You will need to cultivate relationships with some of these major influencers so they end up subscribing to your blog and/or start following you on your social media channels. To make this happen, your existing content needs to be relevant to their content and needs to have solid verifiable credibility. If these influencers link to your content from their sites or share it on their social network channels, you have scored major points for your business.
You get in touch with influencers directly and persuade them to publish your content on their personal social media platforms, thereby getting an audience of their followers. Of course, for that to work, again you need to have established credibility in the first place. In this scenario, you score points as soon as your content gets published on their platforms.
Your interactions with influencers need to be based on genuine rapport and common interests. You have to prove that you are happy and capable to add value to whatever enterprise or campaign your influencers may be running. You have to show that you have a genuine interest in developing a favorable network while facilitating authors of quality content to gain exposure online.
With the influx in the influencer marketing business, it is smart to invest in people who can bring you targeted leads. You have to be thorough in your research because it is a numbers game, some influencers are not above using fake followers to show a big number to you. Along with their following, be sure to check their engagement activity – the huge number of followers isn’t going to be buying your products but the people taking the time to engage probably are.
“Any influencer can get a ‘one-night stand’. Trusted social influencers leverage data and help the brand define success to get a call back the next day.”
7 Steps to Make Your Dreams See the Light of the Day
Every person who has ever thought of starting a start-up and hasn’t seen it through has started with an idea and somewhere along the line stopped at the idea. What makes a business idea work is the persistence to see that idea be converted into a sellable product.
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
It takes time and hard work to bring an idea to fruition. Growing a business will need more work than a job ever would, which many people transitioning do not realize. You will need to sacrifice more than you bothered to consider, you will have to work more hours, you will lose sleep, but in the end, it will be all worth it.
If you plan everything properly and keep your vision set on the goal, it becomes easier. Keep moving forward and keep taking baby steps. Here are a few things you can do to finally make your dreams see the light of the day without you feeling overwhelmed and ditching your ideas before they even take their first breath.
1. Document Everything
Whenever an idea strikes, putting it all on paper is the best way to go. Having everything laid out will give you a clear idea as to what is needed to make that idea become a reality. You will get to see all the pre-requisites right in front of you and it will give you a pretty good clue of the amount of effort you will need to put in.
“Documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is better than nothing.”
You will not be moving forward with an unrealistic approach toward the project. Making a mission statement or writing down your vision in a document and keeping on visiting it from time to time will help you stay true to your dream. Whenever you feel like you are losing track of things, you can revisit this document to remind yourself what your goal was.
2. Research Your Idea
Once you know what all you are going to need or want to get to the starting point of the action sequence, to get the ball rolling, pull all stops to gather information. Information gathering is a crucial phase of any project.
A preliminary check on your target market, manufacturing and distribution costs, comparing the costs of similar products, studying the demand, etc. is a no-brainer. This is important to know that there is a profit to be made before you invest a great deal of time and money developing your dream into reality.
3. Find a Mentor
Now you have an idea and you have spent considerable time researching the market and the product, but you don’t know where to go from there. If it is a field that is completely foreign to you then the hurdles are at every corner and even if you are quite familiar with the technicalities of the field, the experiences of someone can give you invaluable insight.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”
-John C. Maxwell
Find a mentor who can help you guide through the process, someone who has been there and done that, or someone who has bright ideas as to how you can proceed and can provide you with a logical argument to whatever you have at your disposal.
4. Design a Prototype/Working Model
Having a real-life example of how your product is going to work or how it is going to be received in the market makes you ready to deal with the real deal before it even becomes a reality.
It also helps you make a more informed pitch to your investors. Having everything ready to be explained and showing how much thought and research has been put into every decision is a great way to show investors how serious you are. It also helps you discover all the flaws or kinks before your idea can be patented or the production can be started.
5. Find the Right Investors
If you do not have the capital to invest, chances are you don’t, then you will have to find an investor who believes in your vision and is willing to invest in it. This is where thorough research and having adequate documentation comes in.
Knowing the market of your product inside out will help you sell your idea to investors. Finding the right investor is important because when both the parties are on board with the idea and have the same vision, working becomes that much easier and there are fewer decision clashes.
6. Marketing and Distribution
Marketing is when you create a business plan and figure out how you would bring your product to the market. It includes decisions like whether you want to manufacture and sell the product all by yourself or you want to license another company for sale.
Distribution channels need to be figured out. Comparisons need to be made to decide what option will help you make the most profit and what fits in with the vision of your product, of your company.
7. Marketing Channels and Advertising
You might have a great product but if people don’t know it exists then there is no point of it existing. You have to put your product out there for people to discover it and try it. You have to figure out what channels are the best for the product you are planning to launch.
“Whether B2B or B2C, I believe passionately that good marketing essentials are the same. We all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context and connection.”
Learn about the tools at your disposal. Use social media to create a brand presence and to generate leads. Social media channels are also great to track customer feedback and get suggestions. It helps you make a direct connection with the customers and reach out to potential customers.
Having an idea is just not enough if you want to see your dream turn into reality. Steps are meant to be taken not stared at. No matter how good your idea is, if you don’t do anything about it, it is as good as not existing.
If it feels overwhelming, take one thing at a time. Go through the process one step at a time. Focus on developing your idea, then focus on researching – not everyone can multitask and manage different phases of the process together. It is okay to work a phase in isolation – as long as you don’t stop working toward your goal, it is okay to go as slow as you like.
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