Sierra Understands “The Secret”

A few days ago, a package came via UPS for my daughter Sierra. I get packages almost daily and didn’t notice her name on the box, so I opened the box and found a Nintendo DS-Lite. I didn’t know anything about it, so I called Mark to find out if he had helped her buy it. Nope.

Then I remembered…she had been asking me for a couple months if she had gotten anything in the mail. I never thought much about it, but now I wondered if this is what she had been expecting. But how?
When she got home from school, I showed it to her. She started jumping up and down, squealing with joy.

“It’s my Nintendo DS Lite! I knew it, I knew it!”

Knew what? Where did this come from, I wanted to know.

Turns out that while we were in California, Sierra had entered a contest at some fast food place and the prize was a Nintendo DS Lite. She decided that the Nintendo DS Lite was hers and would be coming in the mail.

I remember seeing a picture of a Nintendo DS Lite on the vision board in her room. I thought about how she had repeatedly asked had anything come for her. And the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Was it luck? Perhaps. Isaiah and Mariah certainly seemed to think so. And since they entered that same contest at the same time, each of them started asking if anything had come in the mail for them. Yes, they admitted it, they were jealous.

All I know is this…Sierra knows and understands “The Secret”. Do you?

http://www.thesecret.tv

What Happened to the Summer?

What happened to the summer? I looked up and it was over.

It was a busy time — we spent a few weeks in Los Angeles, with side trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. That’s when my dreams were dashed of living abroad with the triplets…or at least put on hold indefinitely. How shall I put it? They are not good travelers, too much “are we there yet?” and drama over nothing. And lack of appreciation.

Anyway, we had a good time, visiting friends and hanging out at the beach and showing them all the places we lived when they were babies. Saw some of the people I used to work with at Disney and Hughes. Ate at all our favorite restaurant. Fun!

Now the kids are back in school and I’m back to being productive again. Terry Dean and I finished our long awaited course on local internet marketing, “Next Generation Marketing Magic“. This was my first “physical” product — in a box, shipped via US Mail — and the production process was quite different than any of my previous digital products. Anyway, it’s done.

More soon…Happy Fall!

The 4 Hour Workweek – Read it!

Four Hour Work WeekMaybe you’ve heard about the book by Tim Ferriss, “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”. It’s been getting a lot of press and lots of people are raving about it. For good reason.

It’s a great book! If you don’t have it, go to Amazon.com and buy it right now. I’ll wait…

_______

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you why I recommend it so highly: it will expand your mind, even if it’s already pretty open. Even if you’re close minded, it open it just a peek.

It gives you an intoxicating glimpse into a life that most people can only dream of, and even better, tells you why and how this kind of life is available to those that dare to reach out and grab it.

It shoots holes into the idea of working all of your life so you can retire. Instead, life should be enjoyed while you’re young enough to do all those things. There’s no reason you can’t take a series of mini-retirements throughout your life…if you set things up so that you don’t have to be a wage slave and work 50-60 hours a week.

It’s a fascinating book, and when I have time, maybe I’ll write a more thorough review, but right now I have to hustle over to Tim’s site and submit my entry for his contest: The Endless Summer: How to Travel the World — and Improve It — for Free

To enter, you must describe in 350 words or less what you would do with 36 extra hours a week to better your life and make a contribution to society — it’s not all about using the wealth to get more “stuff”, but to enjoy your life and help make the world a better place.

As a result of reading Tim’s book, I’m planning to take my kids on the trip of a lifetime — to Europe for a year (or more). I never thought about the possibility of homeschooling so we could travel, and now I know that many families do it. And the kids thrive. I’m from a family of teachers, so I know they’re going to give me hell about taking them out of school, but that’s not gonna stop me.

Now, just gotta get my “muses” in order (read the book to find out what that means).

Tripletpreneur in Action

Meet my newest employee — Sierra. In her quest to earn more money for those infernal Webkinz, she asked was there any work she could help me with.

Sierra is the most serious of the triplets — many people have remarked that she is an “old soul”. She certainly is the most like me.

I looked at her for a long moment, then said “Ok. Meet me at my desk in 5 minutes.”

I decided to try out her data entry skills, copying and pasting articles into the article tracking system, which I developed in hopes of tracking the massive amount of content being developed for our growing network of authority sites.

Guess what? She took to it like a champ! Worked 2 hours one day and 1-1/2 hours the next. Then we got caught up in the birthday party preparations and end-of-the-school year activities so it’s kind of fallen by the wayside.Sierra at work

But seeing how easily she achieved this task has given me a whole new appreciation for just how much my children are capable of. After all, as of May 20th, they are 10 years old!

Of course the other 2 are begging for a “job” now but I’m stalling until I know they can match Sierra’s level of concentration. She’s really, really good.

I Love, Love, LOVE My Treadmill Desk!

Someone emailed me a couple weeks ago, wondering how things are going with the treadmill desk. Am I still going strong? (YES) Do I use a pedometer? (SOMETIMES) How has my weight changed? (lost 25 pounds so far!) So I figured it’s time for a treadmill desk update.

Simply put, the treadmill desk has been life changing for me. I finally found an exercise program that fits seamlessly into my life. No stopping what I’m doing to run to the gym. No hoping it doesn’t rain or get too hot to walk outside. No childcare issues. No boredom.

It has been absolutely amazing and so unbelievably easy. All I do is climb on and start walking. Because my mind is occupied with work, the time just flies by and the miles add up. Usually I walk 5-6 miles per day, although on occasion I’ll do as many as 10 or more miles. Very seldom do I miss a day — it’s such a part of my life now that if I do skip a day, my body misses it. And you better believe the next day I will do 10 miles!

Last month I started to feel like my body was getting used to the routine, like the pace was too easy. I stepped up the pace a bit, but you can only go so fast and still be able to type, and the idea is to walk at a pace you can maintain for 4-5 hours. I had forgotten the treadmill had an incline feature, and one day accidentally hit the incline button and there was my answer! I’ve gradually increased the incline and now am at level 5 (the max is 15). I can definitely tell the difference — it gives my legs and butt more of a workout without having to increase the pace.

As for the weight loss, it has been slow and steady, 25 pounds so far. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but I am eating healthier than before. There’s something about exercising and drinking lots of water that makes you crave fruit and healthy food, not junk. Maybe it’s the endorphins, I don’t know, but knowing that I’m doing something so good for my body makes me not want to eat junk.

As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago I made a major effort to eliminate sugar, which I’ve found is darn near impossible if you eat any commercially prepared foods. Sugar is in everything! The only way to totally eliminate it is to cook everything from scratch. I’m not quite willing to do that at this point, but I have drastically cut back on it, limiting myself to a cup of frozen yogurt every night after the kids are in bed. Knowing that I have that to look forward to, I can pass on it during the day.

I learned a long time ago not to deprive myself of my favorite foods. That’s why so many diets fail and people put back on the weight they’ve lost and then some…because dieting that way is like holding your breath — you can only do for so long. You have to be able to eat your favorite foods and the exercise has to fit into your life. This works for me — I can see myself eating this way and walking while working for the rest of my life. Good thing the treadmill comes with a lifetime warranty. (It’s the Smooth Fitness 5.25)

BTW, the treadmill desk movement is spreading — Mike Young sat next to me on a plane trip to Orlando and now he has his own treadmill desk — read about it on his blog. And everywhere I go I tell people about it, especially now since people are starting to notice that there’s less of me!

So there you have it, straight from the Triplet Mompreneur’s mouth — my treadmill desk was the best investment I’ve made in myself in a long, long time. If you can’t find the time to exercise and have the spreading derriere and waistline to prove it, think about getting your own treadmill desk. You will love it!

Tripletpreneurs – Great Coin Caper

Ok, so the ebay sale whetted my little entrepreneurs’ appetite for making money, and they wanted to know how they could earn more so they can buy more Webkinz. That $5 a week allowance is not cutting it anymore.

My eyes fell upon the big Arrowhead jar that we’ve been lugging around for years because of all the coins inside. We had long since taped over the mouth of the jar because the kids kept dropping little toys inside. In my ongoing quest to rid the house of clutter, I saw this as a golden opportunity.

So this was the deal I presented to them: whatever pennies you wrap are yours. All silver coins would be split among the three of them. This was to prevent a mad dash and bloodshed over the quarters, dimes and nickels in the jar.

The great thing about this job is it didn’t require any help from me other than a trip to Office Depot to get the coin wrappers. I was so happy to not to have to do anything else that I didn’t even deduct the cost of the wrappers.

(Here’s a picture of them wrapping coins, surrounded by those little Webkinz critters they are working so hard for…)

Tripletpreneurs in Training

Guess what? They wrapped that entire half jug of coins in about a day! It was amazing how diligently they worked, counting up how much money they had earned so far. First they had to do the pennies, which resulted in:

  • Isaiah – $19.00 in pennies
  • Mariah – $17.50 in pennies
  • Sierra – $13.00 in pennies

Then came the big event — rolling the silver money! What joy that was after slogging through all of those pennies. That’s why I made them wait til the pennies were done — the silver became the dessert. Total silver: $120.00 or $40 each

I acted as the bank, of course, accepting the rolled coins in exchange for cold hard cash. Their eyes danced with glee as I counted out the greenbacks.

After making $53-$59 each in a single day, they have told me in no uncertain terms that they will never ask to do another ebay sale. Good news for me and for our local women’s shelter, which is where all gently used clothes will go from now on…

p.s. They participated in National Lemonade Day last weekend and made $60 with their lemonade stand. They balked a little at re-paying their investor (me) the $20 for supplies…gotta work on the concept of “Cost of Goods Sold”!

The System Seminar Photos

Just uploaded the photos from my trip to Chicago last weekend. Was it only a week ago? I can’t believe how quickly time flies at seminars…everything is so intense and compressed and then, whoosh! It’s over. I’ll bet on Monday there were a lot of people like, “Where do I start?”

Thankfully I mapped out my strategy on Sunday night while talking to Ann Covenry — visit her at http://www.annconvery.com and she’ll help you get unstuck and learn to speak your business in 30 seconds or less. I wasn’t so much stuck as trying to figure out how to marry the 2 areas that I’m interested in: local internet marketing and lead generation. I’ve put a lot of time and energy into creating GeoLocal.com and don’t want to throw all of that away. But it’s become painfully obvious that “local business” is too big of a target market, which is why I’ve floundered in my quest to get my arms around it.

But somewhere along the way, I stumbled into lead generation, quite by accident in fact. Found that I had a knack for it, and within the last year or so, it has developed into my family’s main source of income. Go figure.

With my background in “everything local” it was only a matter of time until I turned my lead generation skills to the local market. Competing in a local market is so much easier than at a national level — clicks are cheaper and the SEO part is a piece of cake because so few people are doing it.

Anyway, more about that when the new course comes out — Terry Dean and I collaborated on a 6-CD audio set and it rocks (or so I’ve been told by beta testers/reviewers). One of these days (soon) we’ll finish up the graphics and all the stuff that goes into selling something. It takes longer to create all the “stuff” than to create the product. No wonder so many good products languish on shelves and in basements! Hey did I ever mention that Advanced Testimonial Strategies is going to launch any day? ;-)

In the meantime, enjoy the photos from The System — I know Dave Bullock is going to make me remove some of the palm reading pics, so hurry up and take a look.

System Photos

Are You Tuned in to “The Secret”?

The day after I got back from Chicago, I popped in the DVD “The Secret” and watched it while walking on my treadmill. My body actually missed the exercise, and I ended up doing 8 miles on Tuesday and 11.4 miles Wednesday. I love, love, LOVE my treadmill desk!!! (Will post more details about that later).

Anyway, I was so charged up when I got back from Chicago that rather than jump right in and start doing stuff, I wanted to stop and take a look at the big picture … what my business is, what belongs and what doesn’t, and how all the parts fit together.

So I decided that “The Secret” would be the perfect launch pad for that sort of thinking, and boy was it ever. Every time I watch it, I learn something new. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend to you head over to http://thesecret.tv Buy the DVD so you can watch it multiple times.

After it was over, I realized something — The Secret has been at work in my life for a very long time. My experiences in Chicago prove it.

  • I’ve been wanting a better way to identify the keywords I should be targeting on one of my biggest sites. Guess who I attracted into my life? A guy who — get this — had visited my house with a real estate agent in California in late 2002. We looked at each other, did the “you look familiar” dance, and he told me where we had met. Talked a bit about business and he told me about this amazing free tool that does exactly what I’ve been wanting to do. It shows you in real-time what keywords people are using to find your site. Did I mention it’s free? Go to http://www.hittail.com — it’s very cool.
  • At the end of the event, I was invited to the faculty mixer where I met Ann Convery, a wonderful lady who helps business owners “speak their business in 30 seconds or less”. This is something I have struggled with, but after talking with her at length that night and on the phone since I got back, I’m getting closer to being able to say what I do quickly and concisely. She loved the fact that I have triplets and encouraged me to use it as my part of my “hook”. Say hello to The Triplet MomPreneur!

Those are just a couple of examples of how I believe “The Secret” is at work in my life. Maybe you don’t believe in all that stuff and it sounds a little hokey to you, but it has worked in my life. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

BTW, I just saw John Reese’s “Rebooting Your Brain” video and it fits in well with “The Secret” (except for the part where he tells you to write down your fears). Take a look
http://www.marketingsecrets.com/reboot.html

Ok, enough DVD watching and Brain rebooting for me, it’s time to get back to work!

Back from The System Seminar

I just got back from The System Seminar in Chicago, the annual event put on by Ken McCarthy, and I must admit, it was everything I hoped it would be … and more.

I’ve attended several conferences over the last year and found most of them to be giant pitchfests, where each speaker’s primary goal is to tease you with the “what” and sell you the “how”. Not that there’s anything wrong with someone selling their products, they absolutely should if the products provide value. But if someone pays to attend a seminar and goes through all the trouble to get there and pay for airfare, hotel, etc., they should get some content that they can use as is, without having to buy something else.

This is a personal pet peeve of mine — sometimes as I’m sitting in one of these pitchfests, my mind wanders for a minute and I find myself thinking of how everyone in the room has paid to be pitched to! What a great gig for the promoter… charge people to come and listen to someone else’s sales pitch. Make money on back of the room sales. The speakers get to sell their stuff, gain exposure, ascend to guru status. Sweet. But what’s in it for the pitchee?

So imagine my surprise when I get to The System Seminar and there’s no (or very little) pitching. Sure one or two people may have gone over the line and did a full out sales pitch, but most of the time it was very subtle and limited to the last few minutes.

For the most part, the presentations were pure content. And great content at that. Afterwards you could talk to the speaker or go to their website for more info, and in the evenings there were trade fairs, where each speaker had a table. So there was ample opportunity for them to sell their stuff without cramming it down your throat during the presentation.

More seminar promoters should follow Ken McCarthy’s lead and give people what they paid for — education. After coming away from The System, my only regret was not being able to attend all of the breakout sessions live, as all of the ones I did attend were truly exceptional and I came away from each one with actionable steps to build my business.

More about my System experiences later, including photos…

My Triplets: Entrepreneurs In Training

It’s funny how the simplest little statement can give birth to a huge project. In this case, it was “Mommy, how can we make some money?”

Apparently the $5 per week allowance each of my children receives is not enough to buy the hottest, most ridiculously expensive must have toy – Webkinz. These are plain little stuffed animals, the kind you can find at Wal-Mart for $5, or even $1 at a swap meet. But the retail price for these little varmints is $9 – $11 … that is, IF you can find them. The few stores that sell them can’t keep them in stock.

So what’s the big deal about Webkinz? It’s the fact that each one comes with a “secret code” that the kids use to “register” their little creature and “adopt” it at www.webkinz.com. Then the kids earn money by playing games so they can feed their virtual pet, decorate their rooms, play with them, etc. The Webkinz people regularly “retire” some of the little critters, driving up the price and of course, the exclusivity of having this one or that one.

What a racket. Yep, that’s pure old sour grapes and jealousy right there — wish I had thought of it first.

Anyway, my kids caught the Webkinz bug and came to me looking for ideas to raise money. They’re too young to babysit or dog walk, what can they do? So I came up with an idea — they could sell some things on Ebay and keep all of the profits.

I don’t know what possessed me to say it, probably because enough time had passed since I last sold things on ebay so that I had forgotten what a pain in the ass it is, which is why I stopped doing it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I figured that at 9 they were old enough and it would be an educational experience for them.

Of course they were all for it and got really excited about the prospect of making a pile of money. I had to talk fast to tame their expectations but not dampen their enthusiasm. I told them if things went well, they could make between $150 and $200. No, not each, collectively. They did some quick calculations and figured that they would probably end up with 4 or 5 Webkinz apiece. I warned them that it wasn’t as easy as it looked and they assured me, “We’ll do all the work, Mommy!”

So on a recent Friday afternoon, we pulled all of the things out of the Ebay closet, which was quite full since I hadn’t sold anything on ebay in 2 years. Actually I’ve been on a “Clean Sweep” type binge during the last few weeks, so the pile was manageable since I had donated or thrown out most of the clothes. So we were left with a nice stack of Gap, Hilfiger, Polo, Gymboree, etc. in excellent shape.

I showed them how to sort the clothes into lots by size, although they kept wanting to sort them by color or brand. That took all of Friday evening. On Saturday I showed them how to take pictures of the clothes. That was truly funny to watch, each of them “posing” the clothes, then taking turns with the digital camera. I was very proud of the way they stuck to it, even when their little friend Maddie came by and asked them to come play with her and her puppies. They were tempted but didn’t give in … no, they had work to do. Visions of Webkinz danced in their heads.

On Sunday, it was time to write the descriptions. By now, my little people were starting to tire of the project, but they tired at different times of the day, and peer pressure from the other 2 was usually enough to keep them going. I set up an email account for them and showed them how to email me the descriptions. Each child was given a range of numbers to use to number their lots so that I would know which description went with which set of clothes. They taped the lot number on the bag and included it in the subject line of the email.

Oh those descriptions, they were so cute! I got misty-eyed and laughing cramps all at the same time, reading the way they described things in their little 4th grade English. I’m not sure how long they will be retained in ebay’s memory (yes I saved a copy of all auctions), but here’s one:

Boys 7 pc Lot Gap Hilfiger Shorts Pants Size 7-8

and

Girls 6 Pc Lot Old Navy Hilfiger Shorts Tops Size 6

Each child had a different writing style and added their own flair to the descriptions. They’d put in little details about the person who wore it. Isaiah’s tended to be very brief and to the point. Mariah wrote very long and detailed accounts. Sierra’s writing was very artsy and hip. I got such a kick out of reading those descriptions and couldn’t believe some of the words my babies knew!

Sunday evening was our target time for posting the auctions, so that afternoon I started creating the listings using the free tools at http://www.auctiva.com

It ended up taking longer than we thought, another couple of evenings (after school) to finish up the descriptions and post them to Ebay on Tuesday as 5 day auctions so they would end at the same time as the others. This was to encourage people to bid on multiple auctions.

In order to charge enough for shipping, the kids had to weigh the clothes and include that in the auction description they sent to me. So they were using all sorts of skills — writing, math, art, everything. It was quite the educational experience. People would write and ask questions about the clothes or shipping weights and I would pass it on to them so they could figure out the answer.

Of course, I supervised everything and made sure the info was correct — I have a good ebay feedback score and wanted to keep it that way. But it was their auction and they did much of the work.

Of course, the most exciting part was when bids started coming in. Every day they would come home from school and race to the computer to see how much money they had made. They started counting the number of webkinz they had earned and debating about which ones they would buy.

Hold on pardners! Not so fast. It’s not over until people actually pay. And don’t forget, you have to deliver the goods, as in put them in the mail. And then there are those pesky ebay fees that had to be subtracted from the proceeds. Hmm.

So the auctions ended and money started coming into my Paypal account. They had a total of 32 auctions, and 27 of them sold. We’d agreed that anything that didn’t sell would be donated to charity. So I printed out the postage from within Paypal, which is really cool, something they didn’t have a few years ago. Also the USPS will come to your house and pick up Priority Mail packages, which is great!

Anyway, the kids had to match up the right lot with the right person and postage label. Of course, I checked and double-checked all of this, having been on both ends of ebay mixups before. They had made $164.39, and $26.13 of that went to ebay for fees, leaving them with $138.26. So I didn’t want their profits to be eaten away by mailing mixups, where you mail the wrong item to the wrong person, then have to send them the money to send it to the right person, plus pay to mail them the right thing. With so many auctions, it would be easy to make a mistake and by then, they were tired of the whole thing. Frankly, so was I.

I had forgotten how cheap people were on ebay. Yeah, it was cute that kids were selling clothes and writing the descriptions but they still wanted to nickel and dime us on shipping and send money orders and ship to Canada and all that crap.

I tried to be nice but one lady really taxed my patience whining about shipping and how I could get a free box from the grocery store. Lady, you got a nice 6 or 7 piece lot of barely used Gap and Hilfiger clothes for $3.24 and you’re complaining about paying $10 to ship? No, I’m not running around town looking for a box, it’s Priority Shipping or no shipping. Then she paid with a debit/credit card so Paypal charged fees. Don’t you know I emailed her and made her pay me another $1 to cover those fees? My kids cracked up when I sent that email because they know that a dollar doesn’t mean that much to me, but I wasn’t going to let this old biddy take .72 out of their $3.24. It was the principle of the thing. And she was the one who had the most questions during the auction process! It’s true what they say, the cheapest customers are usually the ones that are the most high maintenance.

But finally we were finished. The last package was mailed and finally were off to the store so they could fulfill their fantasies. They carefully selected their 4 Webkinz each and have registered them and faithfully take care of their virtual pets every day. I do believe they will treasure those little critters even more, considering how hard they worked for them.

As for me, well, it was a hell of a lot of work. I worked harder during that 10 day period than I had in months. I had to take a week off to recuperate and am just now getting back in the swing of things. The fact that I could take time off to work for pennies to make them happy has given them a new appreciation for Mommy’s online business.

They know how hard we had to work for them to earn less than $150, all the while my websites were still earning money..and it’s a good thing too! One evening after we had knocked off for the day, they saw me check the stats and were amazed because they knew for sure I’d been working with them on the auctions all day. That’s when I explained to them about residual income and why it’s such a wonderful thing. You know what? I had explained it before, but on that day they really got it. That’s a lesson I don’t think they would have gotten any other way.

So it was a good experience for them and for that I’m glad. But the next time I open my mouth to make another suggestion like that, will someone please slap me?

Sharon

p.s. For their upcoming 10th birthday, I promised each child $150 to do with as they please — have a birthday party, take a few friends to the movies, or buy whatever you want. Three guesses what they want? Yep, more Webkinz. Since they’ve bought pretty much all of ones available at the local stores, guess where we’re having to look for the ones you can’t buy in the store?? Ebay!