Book Review: The Art of The Start

Posted by 23 February, 2009 (10) Comment

The Art of The Start

The Art of The Start is by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is an accomplished author, venture capitalist, but prior to all of that, he was an accomplished innovator in Silicon Valley who began his roots at Apple before Apple was big.

You can tell from the beginning that either Guy has been around Silicon Valley for quite a while. His book offers great nuggets of information if you are looking for pitch your company to a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist.

I really enjoyed his ideas for “starting something” (note that Guy is big into Karma):

1. Make Meaning – “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning – to create a product or service that makes the world a better place.”

2. Make Mantra – “Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them – much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.”

3. Get Going – “Don’t focus on pitching, writing, planning:.

4. Define Your Business Model – “No matter what kind of organization you’re starting, your have to figure how to make money”. You can have the greatest product ever, but it you don’t plan and you can’t make money from it, your company won’t last very long.

5. Weave a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks) – “The final step is to compile three lists: (a) major milestones you need to meet; (b) assumptions that are built into your business model; (c) tasks you need to accomplish to create an organization.

The hardest thing about getting started is getting started. Remember: No one ever achieved success by planning for gold.

I also enjoyed Guy’s Key Principles for Getting Going:

1. Think Big – While I think most entrepreneurs would agree with this statement, it’s always nice to hear it over and over and then a few more times.

2. Find a Few Soulmates – Guy empathizes that although history likes to point to one guy has having invented this or that, many companies or inventions are discovered by a few people.

3. Polarize People – I’m not sure if I agree with this, but Guy is basically stating that you should get people to really like or really dislike something. Perhaps, this is my non-confrontational side speaking.

4. Design Different – Guy states that there are at least four different approaches.

(a) “I want one” – This is when the designer and customer are the same person. This also implies that people also want what the designer wants which isn’t always true.

(b) “My Employer Couldn’t (or Wouldn’t) Do It” – This assumes you have an idea for a product that your employer can’t or won’t pursue so you decide to pursue on your own. This is probably a better way to go since you probably have an idea what the customer’s desire.

(c) “What the Hell – It’s Possible” – As Guy points out, this could be a tough road if the market isn’t ready for it.

(d) “There Must Be a Better Way” – “They simply got an idea and decided to do it”.

Overall, I thought there were a lot of great resources and books I hadn’t heard about prior to this book. It was a quick read which is always a positive. However, I really thought that this book missed the objective that was placed on the front cover: “The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything”. I didn’t really find this to be true. If I were a Silicon Valley guy looking to pitch my idea or business to a Venture Capitalist, then I think this book is for you. I’m not that person. I am interested in starting businesses. I have an interested in starting many businesses for that matter. A good portion of the book was spent on pitching to venture capitalists and I didn’t think that “Anyone Starting Anything”, as indicated on the front cover, was really applicable. Given Guy’s background, I understand where he is coming from and think it’s a must read for a Silicon Valley entrepreneur looking for pitch an idea to a Venture Capitalist firm.

I give this book a 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.

Other Posts:

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Interview: FairRepair.com
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009


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Interview: Professional Blogger

Posted by 19 February, 2009 (27) Comment

Miranda Bizzia

I was fortunate enough to meet Miranda through a blogging organization. I had seen her profile through multiple social networks and was fascinated at how she seemed to be EVERYWHERE. You can find her at her blog, www.mirandamarquit.com. Let’s get to know Miranda Marquit!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a 29-year-old freelance writer and professional blogger. I’m a work at home mom (WAHM) with one son. I have a M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University. I love that my work allows me to live in the back-end of Utah and still make money while my husband finishes school. In addition to blogging, I write a column for my local newspaper, report for PhysOrg.com and do a little editing. I’ve also contributed book chapters to different projects, and have done some work for Discover magazine (along with other print publications).

Q: Are you a full time blogger? How did you get into blogging and why?

Out of my about 30-hour workweek, nearly 20 hours are spent in a blog-related way. I began blogging nearly four years ago when Robyn Tippins, who does sleepyblogger.com and is the Community Manager for Yahoo! Developer Network, found me posting regularly on Associated Content in a desperate attempt to pay the rent. All of my fellow grads were working in magazines or newspapers, but I knew I wanted to stay home with my son — so I went the online route. And I had no idea what I was doing. Robyn told me that blogging would pay much better, and that I could do it professionally for companies looking to integrate blogs into their online campaigns. Turns out she was right. Along the way, I discovered that I love the editorial form known as the blog.

Q: You seem to be all over the Internet. Between stumbling other people’s articles to commenting, you seem to be everywhere. Do you think this web networking has contributed to your success as a blogger?

It’s funny you should mention that. I’ve had long-lost friends, trying to reconnect, say that I’m the easiest person for them to find. Sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing…Anyway, the blogosphere is a very karmic place. I find that more people want to visit my blog if I visit theirs, and contribute in some meaningful way — whether it is with a non-spam comment or some sort of social media vote. Web networking definitely plays a role. So many people have been introduced to me through social media — and I’ve found many gems through networking as well.

Q: Is there any other networking that you do to help your blogging business?

Not really. I let people know offline, but, really, for the most part nearly all of my networking takes place online. Twitter and LinkedIn have both been especially helpful.

Q: What are some of your goals this year for your blogs?

What does every blogger want? Better stats! But really, I’d like to develop a more refined “voice” that speaks to the audiences I have for my blogs. And at some point I’d really like to do more with my personal blog and work on monetizing it. After all, when you write for someone else, you only have so much leeway to really be yourself.

Q: How do you keep coming up with material? I seem to struggle sometimes with coming up with different articles and I only have one blog.

One of the best ways to come up with material is to have a news reader. Every morning I see what it is going on in the world of finance and business. I have feeds from mainstream sources, as well as my favorite blogs. Additionally, I keep my eyes open for what’s going on in my life, and in the lives of those around me. In September 2007, my experience as a first-time homebuyer provided several posts for one of my mortgage blogs. If you are writing about something that applies to you, it is a little easier to find material.

Q: If someone was interested in blogging, what would be a few things you would suggest?

I suggest blogging about something you know. Additionally, take the time to find your own voice. Just copying someone else will leave you unsatisfied. Figure out what interests you, and then write about it authentically. Post regularly, and try to vary things up a bit, changing the length of posts and adding other media — images and video — to your blogs on occasion. And, of course, have fun with it.

Q: A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

The first tip is to scale back your expectations. I’ve found, personally, that blogging for other people pays faster than trying to build your own blog from the ground up (although if you’re really good at your own blog, you can grow your earning potential through advertising and other means). Realistically, though, it is important to understand that you don’t make money overnight when blogging — no matter who you do it for. When first starting out, you’ll be lucky to get enough to cover your Internet costs. If you work for other people, you may find that, until you get a little experience, you will be paid as little as $3 to $5 per post — or less if it’s all based on traffic or revenue sharing. (Right now, I average about $18-$23 per post, plus traffic bonuses for some clients.)

Contact Info:

E-mail: mirandamarquit [at] gmail.com

website: www.mirandamarquit.com

Other Posts:

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Interview: FairRepair.com
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009


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Cool Links for Week of February 16th

Posted by 16 February, 2009 (3) Comment

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I just uploaded a new post about my updated adventures in Forex trading. Check out my previous post and watch my progress as I attempt to make this another stream of alternative income.

Customer Stories – These customer stories come from Steve at My Wife Quit Her Job. Steve and his wife own an online wedding supply store. While owning your own business may be seem “glamorous” to some, it definitely has it’s challenges as illustrated by their stories.

Do You Want to Grow Your Web Business – Derek is a successful online entrepreneur. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with him on many occasions through Gtalk. If you are interested in growing your web business, he is definitely someone you should speak with.

How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough by Glen – This is a guest post by Glen at PluginID. Glen offers some solid advice on accomplishing your goals while not in optimal conditions.

What Does Working Hard Mean to You? – To me, working more hours is not working harder. I feel working more effectively and efficiently is working harder. What do you think?

How I Became a Millionaire (Part 4: My Thirties) – Jen shares her story about how she became a millionaire. I hope to have a similar story, but with my own little twist. You can read the other parts of her series here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Top 100 Books for Freelance Writers – Great list of books. They are all now in my queue.

From 10 Hours a Week, $10 Million a Year – This is a neat story about a guy, Markus Frind, who had a great idea, put in some work, and now has a thriving enterprise. Does this happen often? I would say most likely not. I think this fits well into what Derek says about “tying it all together”. Work is a negative word. Instead, don’t find work to make a living, but find something you enjoy.

50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence On – This is a great list of social networking websites. I’m on most of them, but there are a few I had never heard of before.

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words – There are a few great photos from the Olympics that I’m sure will enjoy.

The 15 Best Business Ideas & Sectors That Thrive During a Recession – I agree with most of these business ideas and sectors. I would also add to the mix business similar to the Dollar Store.

Should You Pay Your Kids for Good Grades? – The author, Nickel, doesn’t believe in paying your kids for good grades. I don’t have any kids, but I tend to agree with his philosophy.

Photo by Ethandb


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Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)

Posted by 16 February, 2009 (23) Comment

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Here is a link to the first post regarding my adventures in Forex Trading. I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made over the last month. I probably spend an average of 5-10 hour per week talking with my mentor Mindy while simultaneously trading and watching the market.

I think the biggest surprise for me has been how fast the market can move. The first few weeks of my training occurred during the Christmas and New Years holidays. This time of the year is a quieter as far as Forex trading is concerned and the market wasn’t as active due to many of the large currency traders being on vacation since we are trading the Euro/USD pair.

ACCOUNT SUMMARY
Beginning Balance 15,479.00
Comm Trading Commission 0.00
Rollover Rollover Fee 26.70
PnL Profit/Loss of Trade 1,262.70
Depos Deposit 0.00
Withd Withdrawal 0.00
Option Options Payout 0.00
Comm Options Commission 0.00
AdminFee Administrative fee 0.00
MngFee Management Fee 0.00
PerfFee Performance Fee 0.00
Void Deposit Rollback 0.00
ASPComm ASP Commission 0.00
MargInterest Interest on Usable Margin 0.00
Ending Balance 16,768.40
Floating P/L -2,787.10
Equity 13,981.30
Necessary Margin 300.00
Usable Margin 13,681.30

Above is my account summary for the month. This is a demo account so no actual money is involved. This represents my trading from January 14th to February 15th. The first thing to take note of is my beginning and ending balance. I’ve gained over $1200 or 1200 pips for the month. The rollover fee that you’ll notice in the third line is for any trades that I have executed, but the trade was open after 4 p.m. CST. The bank charges interest for the ability to leverage money and this is represented in the rollover fee. Mindy’s strategy for me is to not hold trades for very long, but I’d much rather hang onto a trade for a little while as opposed to losing money. I do want to point out that while I have gained money in the balance column, if I were to close out my account today and sell my trades, I would still be negative over $1000. I want to make sure I’m not sugar coating my experience. It’s very interesting and I’m making progress, but I would be negative if I were to close out today. Fortunately, there are tactics that Mindy could help me employ if needed – for example if my usable margin (currently at 97.80% as I type this on 2/15) were 80% or lower.

My goal for the next month is to have an equity position that is over $15,000 (my original position).

Have you ever traded Forex? What are your experiences?

Photo by Wili

Other Posts:

The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Interview: FairRepair.com
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009
Book Review: The How of Happiness


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The TED Spread and What It Means to You

Posted by 12 February, 2009 (4) Comment

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You may or may not follow the market. Personally, I try to stay out of the day to day activities partially for my sanity, but also because it doesn’t matter if I look at it or not because we aren’t selling anytime soon. While I try to stay away from all of the “hoopla” mentioned in the news, I do want to be educated so I know what I am doing and have a plan of action. One item that I had heard about previously in news articles, and in a podcast (Plant Money from NPR) I listen to while running, is the TED spread.

The TED spread is the difference between the three-month U.S. Treasury yield and the three-month Libor rate. The Libor rate is the rate at which banks charge each other on the London interbank exchange. NPR and The Big Money have in fact stated that we should be following the TED spread and not the Dow.

So, how do you know what number is good or bad for the Ted Spread?

CNN states that “A jump in the spread shows how panicky banks are, in that they are charging each other a bigger interest-rate premium than money lent to the U.S. government“. This basically means that banks are afraid to lend to one another out of fear that the firm borrowing the money will fail or the firm lending the money might need the money for it’s own crisis.

To give you an idea of what the TED Spread has looked like more recently and in the past, I found a nifty chart via Bloomberg.

Ted--Spread

If you look at the chart above, you’ll notice that the TED Spread typically stays at around 50 points or less, but since late 2007, it’s been a different story. In fact, it’s been more than double over it’s average for over the last year.

For more information on the TED Spread, there are several resources below. The article from Slate, “Now, Dow” and the Vinny Catalano Interview are great resources in understanding the TED Spread.

The current TED Spread trend seems to be going in the right direction. Do you think the economy is on it’s way back?

Photo by: Azrainman

External Resources:

What is the TED Spread?
TED Spread by Investopedia
The TED Spread Alliance by NPR Money
Vinny Catalano on NPR discussing the credit markets, Treasury yields, Libor and the TED Spread
Now, Dow?

Other Posts:

Interview: FairRepair.com
A Sure Fire Non-Money Maker!
What’s the Best Financial Decision You’ve Made?
10 Reasons Why I Want You to Be Financially Independent
529 or an IRA for College Savings


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