Permaculture: The Design Arm of a Paradigm ShiftAlternative Dues Models and the Larger Paradigm Shift in Synagogue LifeBMC unveils grand new strategy for seizing the IT paradigm shiftA Prelude to an Upcoming Paradigm Shift: The Torments of the AbsurdEducating Rabbis for Jews without BordersAn Interview With Independent Black Filmmaker Alton Glass11 Recent Headlines Offer Hope That The New World Order Is Dying : In5D Esoteric, Metaphysical, and Spiritual DatabaseA Harvard Dean’s Strange Comment on Racial Protests21 Inc.: Changing the way we pay for and play with the Internet of Things[ Episode #87 // Permaculture Paradigm ]

The Paradigm Shift

In the last 12-18mths my health has been really bad with prolonged bouts of illness, many months off work and a crazy number of visits to the doctor and hospital. But you know what, I’m really glad! Yes, my health has given me quite the rollercoaster ride – and all being well it looks like that ride has come to an end so I can safely undo the safety harness and relax – but I have to say every twist and turn was worth it. Let me explain… Today’s post is about the Paradigm Shift (and no, that’s not the title of a latest Hollywood blockbuster!) – it’s about beliefs and how a single moment or event can radically change the way you think. To demonstrate, here’s a quick story… So there you are sitting on the subway home and as the train clatters down the tunnel you try to pass the time by reading your book. However, you are continuously being disturbed by a young kid who is noisily prancing around, distracting not just you but everyone in the immediate vicinity. Yes, kids are great but this little girl is really pushing the limit. What’s more the kid’s Dad is sitting right beside you and doing nothing to control his unruly daughter. And so it keeps going, the kid getting noisier and noisier – and you keep trying to read that same page of the book – until bang, your book falls to the floor, knocked out of your hands by the prancing kid. As you pick up your book you turn to the father ready to let rip how irresponsible he is being by not keeping his child under control… But he speaks first, with a warm smile on his face… “Sorry about that, I hope you don’t mind. I’m just so happy to see her having fun today, blissfully unaware”, he says, as a slight tear wells in his eye. “You see, we’re just on our way home from the hospital having seen my wife who is seriously ill – and thankfully my little girl doesn’t know critical her Mummy is.” …and with that, your annoyance is gone. Now that’s a Paradigm Shift. In a single moment your worldview is shattered and a whole new reality is revealed …often for the better. I’ve had many moments like this throughout my life where my view of a situation has changed dramatically thanks to one little nugget of information. For me, health is a classic trigger – one minute I’m thinking X and then a hospital visit puts everything in perspective! So why the blog post? Well, life and business are FULL of Paradigm Shifts. Everyday there are things that could change your perspective in the blink of an eye. The key is to notice them AND be willing to change your mind. It’s the latter which is the crucial point. No one is right all of the time and it’s important to admit when you get things wrong. I make mistakes all of the time, hell, I’ve made a few just recently! Just last week, my carefully held worldview was shattered by a revelation which turned everything on it’s head …only to be spun around again by yet another jaw-dropper a day later …so as I discovered the true reality was somewhere in between. And that’s the point… If a subject is important to you, so important that you have elevated your thoughts on it to full-blown beliefs, then you owe it to yourself to keep your eyes and ears open for further info …because you might have got it wrong and a Paradigm Shift is just waiting to hit you. Admittedly it’s a challenge because of a basic psychological fact, this being we tend to find what we going looking for, but to the neglect of everything else staring us in the face. In other words,...

The Twin Sisters of Doom

Before I begin… Yes, I’m back! Sorry for the wait on posts, I managed to acquire another bout of ill health which stole 6 weeks from me over the festive period. So since January I have been playing catch-up on everything! Anyway, I am now back in full flow and hot from the Marketing Summit where I gave a kick-ass presentation on some very cool yet simple psychology and language stuff… What follows is a taster of that presentation – ENJOY! Trying to succeed? “I’ll try and get that done”, “Great idea but…”, “I hope so…” Ahhhhhh! Language is a fascinating thing. It has the power to move people to succeed in their endeavours, inspire millions to strive for something better and create powerful change in a matter of moments. It also has the potential to disarm, disempower and guarantee failure. Ironically, the latter is often unexpected, and worse, self-inflicted. Read or listen to the words of inspirational greats such as Ghandi, Luther King and Churchill and you will hear a resolute turn of phrase with an unflinching drive and purpose. Each word builds upon the last, creating confidence and passion, compelling the listener to act, to achieve, to succeed. The success of such speakers cannot be argued, neither can it be said that each did not create powerful change in the minds of others. Fortunately, you do not need to be a wordsmith of such great standing in order to inspire achievement; in fact you could choose to change only one or two words and hence avoid unwitting sabotage of what otherwise is your plan for success. Many people set their mind on wonderful goals, perhaps even describe an impassioned depiction of a future state of success, and then immediately trip themselves up with a lame and inappropriate description of the ongoing activity. Consider the ‘twin sisters of doom’ – the words ‘try’ and ‘hope’… “I’ll try and make it work” “I hope to get it done” Hope is a wonderful thing when characterised as a will to succeed, however when used in a similar way to the word ‘try’, both words detract from the ongoing activity and introduce an alternative focus …because they hold an inherent suggestion of failure. You need only add the “hairy but” and you will have drained every last drop of success from your quest! The “hairy but” ‘But’ is an incredible word which in only three letters completely negates everything that precedes it. It has an intrinsic logic that entirely changes the comprehension of any utterance, it is as if those three letters actually say ‘I didn’t really mean what I just said, what I’m really thinking is this…’ Now when you bring together ‘but’, ‘try’ and ‘hope’, it is easy to realise how people often talk themselves into failure. Of course the real challenge is that such words are part of natural speech, for some it is even a cultural norm to temper communication and unwittingly march toward defeat… So let’s make a simple change for the better. Consider again what it is you want to achieve and steal success from the jaws of defeat by changing those words and creating a compelling message for yourself and others. Gone are the days of the ‘but’ – No longer is it what you will ‘try to achieve’; instead it is what you are GOING TO ACHIEVE! Don’t try – DO! Don’t hope – DO! Of course, communication is not just about what you say to yourself. Consider carefully what it is you are saying to others, like the employee who you wish to inspire to succeed by strangely asking him/her to ‘try and do it’, or the customer who you are supposedly helping by saying ‘I understand, but…’. Clearly, this also needs to change for the better. Switch now to the language of achievement, banish the ‘but’ and disown the ‘twin sisters’,...

The Pricing Apocalypse?

The harsh reality… Let’s start by considering what I mean by “The Pricing Apocalypse”, because with a label like that I am clearly suggesting it is a major issue. So in order to do justice to the incredible threat it poses to your business I’m sure you will agree it makes sense that I do not pull my punches… To demonstrate the danger I’ll use an example from an industry that is rife with the problem with many business owners balancing precariously on the edge of the abyss. The industry in question is internet marketing …but like I said, this threat is looming in the shadows for ANY business! In recent years the internet marketing industry has become very popular with people keen to ‘cash in’ on the huge boom in online sales. Some have added internet sales to existing businesses, others have moved entire businesses online and many have created new ‘businesses’ to supplement their personal income… …with the ambition for many being to drop the day-job and work online fulltime. (I have deliberately put ‘businesses’ in quote marks when referring to the latter scenario as there is a percentage of people in that situation who don’t necessarily call what they do ‘a business’ …however, that is of course what it is. Money is being swapped for goods or services, therefore it is a business and normal business rules apply). Now whether by virtue of their consumer knowledge that ‘online shopping equals savings’ or simply through learned-behaviour where everyone is acting in the same way (because that is how everyone has seemingly always done it), many internet marketers feel the urge to slash prices. In fact ‘slaughter’ may be more an appropriate word! Huge packages of training, powerful software tools and in-depth eBooks are being sold at rock bottom prices …and that is before paying out commissions to affiliates who have promoted those products or services. Some internet marketers go even further than this and give away all of the income to their affiliates just so they can “get a list”, the idea being they can then market other people’s products to that list. But of course, if other internet marketers are just doing the same as they are then the products they are promoting are also at rock bottom prices, so their overall income is… PEANUTS! Ironically, and like I mentioned earlier, the dream of many an internet marketer is a better life and an escape from the rat-race of a traditional job. So when you consider that many work exceptional hours for a very small return you have to wonder why they continue… …I’ll save that question for another time! But internet marketers are not alone, many businesspeople find themselves in the same situation where they have given in to perceived market pressures and arrived at the belief that low pricing is the only way forward. After all, there’s something very satisfying about making a sale, so who cares if the price was low, at least they got a sale or two! Admittedly, there is a time and a place where low pricing and discounts can be appropriate, but it shouldn’t be considered the norm. After all, on the rare occasion I too have reduced my pricing …but it has always been to a definite aim in the full knowledge of what the low price actually means for my business. So what’s with the ‘apocalypse’? Well, let’s keep the scenario running… Prices are being slashed in a bid to make sales, profits are low and still there are ongoing costs for the business. So if you are of the belief that changing your pricing is not an option, and you have no other strategies up your sleeve, the only way to make more money is to do either one or both of the following: Work harder and create even more products and services Find ever more...

All customers are NOT created equal

What if I was to suggest that many businesses suffer at the hands of their customers? …that their success is stifled because their customers are bleeding them dry? It seems a crazy situation, yet it is exceptionally common. If you were to turnaround and ask almost any businessperson ‘do you have any problem customers?’ they will likely say ‘yes’ …followed by an explanation as to why those problem customers are such a pain for their business. So you have to wonder why did they say ‘yes’ to them in the first place?! For many the problem lies in the businessperson’s failure to know what is the right type of customer for their business and so they foolishly say ‘yes’ to anyone wishing to give them money. So does that mean I am suggesting you say ‘no’ to certain would-be customers? …Yes, that is exactly what I am suggesting! On first consideration this may seem foolhardy or controversial, but as you will discover this idea of ‘choosing your customers’ is the key to better business. Admittedly, there are some people who would argue against this kind of strategy and believe “as long as the customer has money, they’re right for me”. But you have to wonder if they would be happy with any of the following possibilities: A customer who publicly berates you and your business for no reason, creating negative word-of-mouth at any opportunity A customer who breaks your copyright and adds your product to a bit-torrent website so anyone can get it for free A customer who is a ‘serial refunder’ or abuses your guarantee and therefore never really pays for anything Each is a classic example of how some customers can lose you sales and cost your business money, so most businesspeople would agree they are indeed ‘problem customers’ and not worth it. But what about slightly subtler examples… A customer who frequently has you on the phone asking for assistance …rather than using the knowledgebase and support section of your website A customer who continually pays your invoices late …causing you cashflow problems A customer who is always obnoxious and rude to you and your team …eroding enthusiasm and motivation Clearly, each of these examples has a business cost too – and, as I am sure you agree, there is no reason why any business should have to endure such things. But I’ve not finished yet…! For those still thinking they will somehow ride out the chaos caused by problem customers, they had better pause for a second before diving head first into the fire, because the issue is even worse than it might first seem. Just think about it for a moment… If you are preoccupied with these ‘problem customers’, whether in-person or just through ongoing worry and stress, then your focus is clearly not on what is right for your business. So not only do those ‘problem customers’ cost you money and time directly, but they also have the indirect cost where you miss opportunity due to the distraction they create. In other words, it is so easy to get caught up in pointless nonsense and bitter thoughts towards annoying customers that you fail to notice opportunities and new customers who are clearly right there in front of you. Similarly, you might be so busy dealing with customer problems that you inadvertently overlook the new ‘perfect’ customer waiting on your doorstep… …desperate to give you their money and appreciation. And you will not be able to help yourself; it is human nature after all. Physicist Moshe Feldenkrais called it the “elusive obvious” where we tend to find what we are focusing on …but we do this to such an extent we neglect to see other things that are obviously staring us in the face. You need only consider most magical illusions which are based on the exact same phenomenon; you are so busy concentrating...

Burger baby burn! – Be visual, get noticed

Nowadays, small businesses are faced with an even greater challenge when wishing to grab the attention of customers. There’s so much ‘stuff’ happening in everyday life that your competition is not just your usual business competitors… …it’s also everything else that is demanding the attention of your target audience. Essentially, if you want to be heard, you need to shout… LOUDER! If you and I were street-traders it would indeed be that simple – we would shout out to grab attention – and as long as we were louder than the others, as long as our voices rose above the noise, we’d get that attention. But what about more traditional businesses? …how do businesses like ours “shout out”? …how can we get noticed despite the ‘noise’ of life and business? The answer is ‘eye candy’ …how to be visually ‘louder’ Words are great, but sometimes they’re not enough. So if you want your business to get noticed you need to be visually interesting too. You need to give the customer some ‘eye candy’ to enjoy. What follows are three very quick examples of how to visually grab attention and in doing so inspire your target audience to take action… Example 1: Mystery Guitar Man and the McDonalds advert The video below is by one of the coolest independent video makers around, called “Mystery Guitar Man” (he’s the one in the glasses). He started out on YouTube creating crazy videos which were different to anything out there, attracting so much attention he had the likes of Coke and McDonalds knocking at his door… Keeping with the theme of “being different” this video is a great example of how a visual twist can hold attention …specifically, the setting is just a standard McDonalds restaurant, but he seems to have cloned himself many times over. So you end up watching the whole advert just to see where he will next appear. From a marketing point of view this is sheer brilliance, because the advert grabs and HOLDS your attention. What’s also intriguing is the number of ‘social shares’ this guy gets… …MILLIONS!   (and I’m not exaggerating) Do you think a blog post or article could demand as much attention? Example 2: Baby Brad Gosse Top marketer, Brad Gosse, is renowned for his willingness to be different and when it comes to being visual he really pushes the boat out… For example – Over the past year he has released a series of self-updating blogs that run on autopilot, automatically updating each day with 365 days of content, each piece directly linked to a high converting product …it’s a cool idea and many internet marketers buy them for the “set and forget” income opportunity. BUT… for me the real magic is in how he visually grabs attention …and he doesn’t just save the ‘eye candy’ for customers either! The images below are taken from the affiliate promotion video he did to attract partners for the launch of his “baby sign-language drip-blog”. So as you can see from that title, the end product is about parents teaching their babies to be able to use sign-language… …so naturally Brad dressed up as a baby and did the “signing” to his business partner’s presentation! Despite marketers continually fighting for promotion partners, this video stood out and the result was a stack of affiliates rushing to support his launch. But like I said, Brad is great at being ‘visual’ even his sales pages are far from being ‘standard’ stuff. Rather than a typical ‘long copy’ sales page he has an in-house cartoonist …and as you will see, his visual style grabs attention (and yes, this style of sales page also converts really well too). Click HERE for the baby signing example and scroll down the page to SEE what I mean! (link opens as a new page) Example 3: The W.A.A.R. video Recently I launched The...

Exclusive extract from The W.A.A.R. Report

What follows is an exclusive extract from The W.A.A.R. Report due to be released at 12noon EST (5pm BST) on 28th September 2012. When W.A.A.R. was first released it caused quite a storm with many marketers and small business owners hailing its arrival… “Knowing how to effectively communicate and persuade, that’s hands down the most valuable skill you can have online …And Michael has nailed it with this report. What Michael has put together here is a blueprint for creating content that SELLS… The kind of content that gets people excited about buying from you.” Scott Murdaugh, top copywriter and marketer And he was talking about the original version! The revamp is even better. So, here are the opening few pages, setting the scene and explaining a very common problem for MANY businesses …how does it relate to you? Hard-selling will KILL your business! A problem borne of a new era Currently technology, and therefore everything that is driven by it, is changing at a heart-racing velocity. Blink… and the world has moved on! In the most part this technological shift has been a major plus in terms of quality of life, choices, access to those choices, effectiveness and efficiency. However it has also changed expectation …and from a business point of view that is a major problem if left unchecked. That’s because with every step forward the buying public has adapted to the new opportunities and ways of working. This means they naturally demand what they have become accustomed to. It is no longer a case that the buyer has to go to the seller; that lofty position of authority for the seller is dead-and-buried. Thanks to the internet, the customer need never leave their home as they have easy, unpressured and comfortable access to almost every product or service on the planet. So unsurprisingly, they want to always enjoy this same level of comfort and choice, whether online …or offline. Anything which is different to this can quickly be rejected, as the customer knows they always have the option of another supplier. It’s a buyer’s market. You are defenceless and disposable Not only does the customer have this great expectation and a willingness to drop a supplier without a second-thought, they also have unparalleled ability to choose the right supplier in the first place. Again, thanks to the internet there is a wealth of information available to the customer with a click of a mouse. Never before has a customer had the opportunity to be so armed with so much knowledge that they effectively render the seller impotent and defenceless. If you go into a selling situation expecting to do the ‘same old tried-and-tested’ sales patter or approach, then you are bringing a knife to a gun fight. You’re going to die and it isn’t going to be pretty… …worse still, they can and will trample all over your bleeding body too! Why do I say that? Well, hard-selling is the heavy blunt knife which they will simply dodge and then, thanks to social media like Facebook or video sites like YouTube, tell everyone to avoid. Countless companies (including huge multi-nationals) have not only lost the sale but also continued to lose sales thanks to negative word-of-mouth spreading like a pandemic around the globe. And if that’s not bad enough, whenever someone searches for your business that video message saying you are the ‘spawn of the devil’ is still – and always will be – there for everyone to see! Putting it simply, if they don’t like you, you’re screwed! …and that’s a decision they will make in a blink of an eye! And we haven’t even mentioned marketing on the web yet! For those who actively promote their products and services via the web the problem is even worse. And that is because the nature of how customers actually find your business in the first place...

Who’s rules are they anyway? Aug23

Who’s rules are they anyway?...

Creating and running a small business can sometimes be like wading through treacle with both hands tied behind your back …and this is despite the many desires and aspirations of small business owners. Instead of those positive vibes which often kicked off the business, the small business owner suffers from a lack of enthusiasm, regular bouts of doubt, and a total loss of drive. So what’s going wrong? Well, the short answer is often… Someone elses rules. “You have to do it this way”, “you can’t do that”, “you must adhere to this way of working”… Because when you step back and look at the this thing called “Business” you find it is stuffed full of badly thought out conventions and rules …and the effect can be devastating. Admittedly, some rules have purpose – but sadly many do not. This means the success of a small business can quickly become stifled, as rules are rarely a great source of motivation. To demonstrate my point, let’s take a few examples, starting with an easy one… Example 1: Any decent business must have a nice office or premises What? …Exactly who came up with this nonsense!!!??? So, you’ve just started your small business and immediately you are dragged down by concrete boots of rent/mortgage, heating, lighting, general upkeep …the list goes on. But here’s the thing, does someone taking the ‘small business plunge’ for the first time ever wonder do they ACTUALLY NEED that office? What’s wrong with the spare bedroom at home? No spare bedroom? …well how about the spare rooms at your friends or family? No friends? 😉 …well how about your kitchen table? None of the above need cost you a penny and straight away all of your profits are just that… PROFIT!...

How much choice is enough?...

In order to solve the conundrum of ‘what to offer customers’ those with a small business often provide a range of choices, the idea being that one of those options will be right for each individual customer. But that does leave a couple of interesting questions, how much choice is enough? And when is too many choices too much? To answer those questions we need to first consider whether choice is even important for a small business in the first place. So let’s look at what ‘choice’ actually means …because not everything is at it seems! There are four views to think about… 1 – The Robot: This is where you offer no choice whatsoever and are essentially saying to your customer, “Take it or leave it!” – In other words, it’s either a yes or a no. There’s no middle ground, no grey areas, either the sale is on or it’s off. So you have to ask yourself, do your customers act like robots? (we’ll come back to this a little later) 2 – The Dilemma: You present your customer with two choices, it’s either X or Y. But here’s the thing… An X or Y decision is the true definition of a dilemma, you can either go for the red pill or the blue pill – but which is right? For the small business owner the important thing to remember is that when you present your customer with an “X or Y” decision it is not real choice, it is merely an illusion of choice, it is a dilemma. And, as is typical of such situations, it is likely the would-be customer will view this dilemma in a negative light. (Put it this way… Have you ever heard someone talk about how...

Branding a small business – The literal truth?...

One of the common concerns for many a small business wishing to succeed is brand or brand-name… What should we call ourselves? What’s a great product name? What does my small business mean to people? Small business owners will then sit down for hours, feverishly scribbling away ideas that have some profound meaning …something cool that grabs people and makes them want to buy. But is ‘getting it right’ really that important for a small business? Well, let’s have a look at some of the big brands that exist today and consider how much of a difference their chosen name has made to their success. Because when you think about it some of the biggest brands in the world have created a meaning for words which otherwise had completely different connotations or no real meaning at all… Virgin… So are we talking about a person who hasn’t had sex or one of the largest multi-brands in the world? (either that or Richard Branson has lead a very shaded life!) Apple, Orange, Blackberry… Is this fruity goodness or technology? Tesco… There’s no doubting the success of this monster worldwide supermarket chain but what’s with the name? Well, the story goes that in 1924 Jack Cohen’s small business bought tea in bulk from T E Stockwell and combined the TES initials with CO from his surname …and bam! Tesco was born. Now that all makes sense, but from a brand point of view why, in the USA, do they call themselves “Fresh and Easy” instead? Amazon… So we’re talking about the big river in South America? …Obviously not! Founder Jeff Bezos started in mail-order and wanted his new small business to be listed as early as possible in mail-order directories. In other words, he was thinking...

Target marketing – Get the insider’s edge from the comments section!...

Did you know that news websites offer a wonderful lesson in business and more particularly target marketing and who really is your target market? Let me explain… On a day to day basis I ordinarily grab the latest news from websites like the BBC, but often it is the comment section that grabs my interest more than the original article. Because if you take any piece of news and ask the readers what they think, or as the BBC calls it “Have Your Say”, suddenly a whole new world can appear. People’s opinions reveal so much about the subject in question – and rather than what the original article or news story may have said, it’s someone’s opinion of a subject that matters most. That opinion is based not just on the subject matter, but also what is going on inside of the person’s head at that time. Their beliefs, their values, their emotions all help shape someone’s opinion on a news story or subject. Zeitgeist, memes and the Higgs-Boson We also have external factors which again affect the way someone thinks… For example, we have “zeitgeist” which is defined as the ‘spirit of the times’ and “memes”, defined as ‘ideas, behaviours or styles which spread from person to person within a culture’. In simple terms you can think of both as the collective opinion for a group and when you read the comments section you will often be able to spot that collective opinion. Some websites make this particularly easy as they also offer readers a thumbs-up/thumbs-down grading as well, so you can see what comments are popular and which are not. A recent example was a story on the possible scientific discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle; reading the comments section on the story revealed two distinct groups with diametrically opposed views. The first group was excited by the main thrust of the article, this being the science and how (for them) ‘mankind had taken another leap forward’. It was clear that the focus and ideals of this group were centred on the importance of scientific endeavour. However another, perhaps more pointed, collective view was also evident… Rather than being excited by the science a significant number of readers were ‘disgusted’ with the amount of money ‘wasted’ on such ‘ridiculous’ endeavours. Again a collective opinion was clearly evident: The focus of this group was the current global economic climate and how there were more important things to spend billions on than science. The comments opportunity So now imagine that another article was to be written about the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle, it could be argued that any writer would be better informed thanks to those comments. If the author was writing for a group (or what you could call a ‘target market’) of scientists then they would do well to pick up on the excitement. The article would have a very positive slant and promote the ‘importance of scientific endeavour’. However, if the author was writing a more political piece for, say, a target market who believed deeply in the need to put the needs of the common man first …then the author’s article would do well to be critical and use the Higgs-Boson story as an example of ‘wasted money in hard times’. And here’s the key point… In both cases it’s the viewpoint of the audience or target market which matters most. So with that in mind it can easily be said that the comments section gives you that insider view, it gives you an edge, an opportunity to truly relate to your audience. What this means to your business, your marketing and the definition of your target market Zeitgeist and memes offer very useful rules of thumb for how a group thinks …so from a marketing and business point of view, if that ‘group’ is your target market then that kind of information is...