Muscle Building For The Mind

Every day, millions of us across the world spend hours of our day working hard on exercising our bodies to create the perfect shape and look. Toning arms, strengthening legs and shaping torsos is all part of the daily routine, for many people. But, what about the most powerful and under-utilised muscle in the human body? How much time do we spend exercising that? Is it about time that exercising our mind became part of the daily routine too?

Experts estimate that we use only ten percent of the brain’s capacity in day-to-day life. Simply by exercising the brain, in the same way as we exercise the rest of the body, it will gain strength and become powerful. Similarly, if we don’t exercise the brain, it becomes lazy, unresponsive and slow just like our physical bodies when we neglect them.

Our daily lives bring us in to contact with many opportunities to either strengthen or weaken the mind. One of the most popular brain busters is the television. So many shows, so much choice but lots of trash TV and very little to challenge and enhance the brain. Is daily TV watching as bad for the brain as junk food is for the body?
brain
A daily routine for the mind can be the most important, productive and valuable exercise workout you can do. Here are some tips to incorporate strengthening the number one muscle in the body into your daily routine…

Morning exercise

Starting the day with some mind building exercise is the one of the best and most satisfying ways to ensure the day starts well and continues on the same path. Personal development guru Anthony Robbins references the ‘Hour of Power’ in his book Awaken the Giant Within. Robbins says physical exercise, meditation and learning are the most effective way to start each and every day. The full hour isn’t always necessary, thirty minutes is all it takes. If this time can’t be squeezed into the morning routine you currently have, then set the alarm earlier…it really is that simple, and very productive.

Exercise in the car

This isn’t necessarily all about having to find more time in your day, it is about using your time more productively – and your daily journeys in the car could be the answer. There are so many CDs and audio books available now that the radio can be replaced by a daily mind exercise routine. Whether it’s on the motorway, on the school run or simply on errands, for ten minutes or the full three hour traffic jam, it’s a brilliant way to make the most of your daily travel.

Evening exercise

If watching a lot of TV on a daily basis is reducing mind capacity, just thirty minutes per night, every night of mind building activity will make a significant difference. The options for how to fill that time are vast; reading a personal development book, watching a mind exercising DVD or listening to one of the CDs from the car. The daily routine creates the discipline, which in turn creates the long lasting positive effect.

Combining the physical and the mind exercise

How about combining the two forms of exercise in to one? Both are important, and if your schedule doesn’t allow both in separate forms, then doing both at the same time can be the perfect compromise. Replacing the accompanying music during your physical exercise with personal development audio provides the mind with exercise, as well as the body.

Why Everyone Should Have A Business Mentor

How’s your business going? Are you really happy with it, or are you always wondering if there could be a little more you could do, to maximise effectiveness and enhance the time you spend on it?

As bloggers, there is always something new to learn, and new software, platforms and ideas coming along that we could do with keeping up with. Add this in to the everyday needs of our blog, and we soon realize that things can get pretty complicated if we aren’t running a tight ship and keeping on top of everything. Sometimes, though, we can be left struggling for inspiration, and find it tough to work out exactly where we are at with our blogging business, and where we should be headed to get more money, more customers, and more time.

This is where a business mentor can really transform the way you work, and the direction of your business. A savvy mentor can look at your blog objectively, helping you to draft out where you are now and where you want to be. They can usually tell you a simple plan to get the most out of your existing assets, and help you develop a strong strategy which has been proven to work, to get your business to the best possible place to make more money and optimize your products or services.

You don’t need to choose a mentor like Donald Trump or Alan Sugar to set up a great ongoing partnership. Your mentor should have the following characteristics to bring you the best possible support:

  • A strong understanding of you and your business
  • Knowledge of the industry you are operating in
  • Patience to support you without being critical
  • An ability to support you to develop a long-term strategy to shape the future of your business.

A great mentor can be found in every industry – they are the people who lead your field of interest, anticipating customer requirements and proactively meeting them. Your ideal mentor will be someone with whom you already have a good relationship, but don’t be wary of approaching leaders in your field and asking them to support you in this role.

Most outstanding people have an equally outstanding person who has acted as their mentor, spurring them on to business success. It’s never too late to learn more, develop your business, and see what else you can achieve!

Going The Extra Mile – How To Give Your Readers Outstanding Customer Service

I love it when I see or receive an example of awesome customer service, just as much as I really dislike being on the receiving end of bad customer service. Today, I was lucky enough to come across a great example of someone willing to go the extra mile just to make their customer happy.

A shopping trip to the mall was going as expected, when I came across a guy offering free shoe shine trials. I had a bit of free time so I thought I’d give it a go. Now, I’m normally very skeptical about free trials and I’m always looking for the catch, but this guy shined my shoes brilliantly, made great conversation during the time I was in the chair, and to cap it off he gave me a $10 voucher for his shoe and sneaker store in the mall to use whenever I next needed a new pair of shoes.
Shopping mall
Within fifteen minutes he had secured a new customer, and boosted his business, while I came out of it feeling great about our transaction. Bringing together a great service, a great personality and a great offer, he demonstrated just how simple it is to attract new custom, no matter what trade you are operating in.

That got me thinking about how we can offer great service to our customers online. Here are some top tips.

Under promise and over deliver

This is a classic way of ensuring clients comes back to you again and again. Clients are always really impressed when they get a better than expected response. If you put a time limit on when you will respond back to them, can you regularly beat that by 50%?

Ask questions and listen to the answers

Often the most difficult, but certainly the most beneficial, question you can ask your customers is ‘How can we improve our product/service to you?’ The fear is all the negative things that they might say… and I mean MIGHT say. In reality, customers love to feel that their opinion is valued. If you get feedback good or bad, listen and act on it, they will make going the extra mile easy for you because they’ll tell you how!

Thank your clients for their business

The most grateful act you can do is to personally thank your clients for the business they have placed with you. Whether that is through a web order, a postal order or a face-to-face order, the best thing you can do is to sincerely say ‘Thank You’. A card, an email, a letter all give a personal touch that leave your customers feeling like they are valued and – guess what… they’ll come back to you again and again.

Reward your customers for their loyalty

Loyal customers are the most precious thing in the world. I read somewhere once that it is six times more expensive to get new customers than it is to keep your existing clients. If you give great service and great value for money, then your clients will keep coming back. Another great strategy for ensuring they keep coming back is to reward their loyalty. A voucher each quarter, money off next time they shop with you, a free gift when they purchase in a certain period of time are all great ideas. What would be suitable for your business?

Going the extra mile with your customers means you will create a customer base that will stay with you and not go elsewhere. Valuing your customers is an essential step to maintaining and developing your business.

Procrastination: The Evil Nemesis Of Blogging

Have you heard the old adage, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today? It may be something which our grandparents mumbled at us when they saw our bedrooms could do with a tidy up, but it remains as true today as it did generations ago. When we put things off and procrastinate instead of getting down to work, a host of negative things happen which can sap our enthusiasm and leave our sites out of date, our admin piling up, and our work/life balance looking decidedly… unbalanced.

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Gaining Confidence In The Blogosphere

Are you a confident blogger? Do you sit down each week with a feeling of anticipation when you are about to put pen to paper, feeling great about what you have to say, and how you’re going to say it?

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How To Eat An Elephant…

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time’, and it may be over-used these days but it’s a great adage for the best way to run your blog. When we first start out in the blogosphere it can seem a little overwhelming – so many different things to consider, coupled with the need to get your blog published, up and running as soon as possible, can leave you feeling a bit frazzled.

Continue reading How To Eat An Elephant…

Cutting Down On Distractions

We each of us have at least eight hours a day which we can use to be highly productive, when we work from home. With no commuting time, nothing else to focus on, no distractions from peers of colleagues, and full choice over whether we answer the door or phone, or not, people who work from home must be the most productive, prolific and successful people on the planet.

Right?

So, why do we seem to be stressed, floundering or sometimes simply swamped with work? How come we can never seem to reach the end of the bottomless pit which is our list of things to do, and walk away from the end of the working day feeling smug, satisfied and relaxed?

Distractions. The one thing coming between each of us and reaching our goals for our business. The thing which prevents full productivity, and stops us from achieving everything which we dream of both on our blogs and throughout the rest of our lives.

When you take any given day, how is yours filled? What do you do, usually, which takes you away from your desk and plunges you in to the sphere of unproductivity? For me, it’s small things which you don’t even question – helping out around the house, popping out to the store, tinkering in the garden. All of these things, as valid activities, tend to work well to keep me from doing the actions which I have set out for the day to help my business, without making me feel guilty about wasting time.

The problem is, however, they are all time wasters. If I had the method and perseverance to stop getting sidetracked by activities which weren’t associated with my blog or business, imagine how much I could achieve? Imagine the potential if I could tap in to a full eight hours a day without getting carried away with a job in the house or garden, a phone call from a friend or that sudden desperate urge I have to go and check out the box set of ‘24’?

The reality is, not one person on the planet has the power, diligence or downright stubbornness to seat themselves at their desk and apply themselves to their business for a full eight hours. Basic needs such as the washroom or lunch time will come in to play. We will need a coffee. The dog will need walking. All of these activities can be undertaken in less than half an hour a day, perhaps. This still leaves a full seven and a half hours to get on with what needs to be done.

Breaks from work are positive – they leave us feeling refreshed and comfortable, ready to apply ourselves again. The trick is to know just how long a break you may need to leave you ready for work, without letting your break expand until it becomes your full day. If you go to the kitchen to fix a sandwich, don’t suddenly notice that the washing up needs doing, the shopping putting away, the refrigerator re-stocking. Do what needs to be done, and then go back to work.

Having a conscious battle against distractions is tough at first, but very soon it becomes a habit – a discipline which you can apply automatically without feeling an internal struggle. Give it a go – and see what you are capable of, if you set your mind to it.

Five Ways To Be A Better Blogger

One of the main questions I get asked, when I explain what I do for a living, is ‘How do I become a better blogger?’ In truth, I never quite know what to say. There are so many different things which can separate the good blogger from the bad, it’s difficult to seize on a simple response and know I’m imparting good advice. So, for the benefit of anyone out there looking for five sure-fire ways to enhance your blogging practice and get in to a great habit for ongoing success, here are my top tips…

Blog

OK, this may sound like a stupid recommendation, but have you any idea how many people I know, who have failed at blogging – because they actually didn’t blog? Your blog is your business, and so you have to put more care and attention in to making it flourish than in most other areas of work. People’s blogs fail more often than not simply because they allowed them to fall by the wayside, neglecting to post up articles and look after their sites.
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The internet is like one big children’s home for lost, neglected or orphaned blogs which started out with a loving parent and then ended up shriveling in to a sad and lonely, disbanded site because their owners forgot to give them the things that they needed to survive. Blogs work, when people blog through them. Write at least three articles a week, and love your blog to make it flourish.

Blog for others

You may have nailed your blog, and you could be a great owner, posting up articles and looking after your site, but did you know that blogging for other people is just as effective as posting up articles on your own site? People who write guest posts for others bring traffic to their own site, generating more business and broadening their readership significantly.

So, for every three articles you write on your own site, why not factor in a fourth to post up somewhere else? This is a simple, easy and highly effective way of getting people to find out about you, your site and your business for no financial outlay and a very small investment of time.

Be responsive

Responsiveness is a key trait for any successful blogger, as you reply to the comments which people have posted up on your site, get back quickly to those customers seeking your advice or support, and generally maintain a healthy and involved approach to your business. The best bloggers spend time each day to answer questions, communicate with customers and respond to their requests, requirements and suggestions. By staying ahead of what your customers want or need, through listening to their feedback and responding, you will always be in a position to grow, develop and enhance your business.

Be proactive

Nothing kills a blog off more quickly than allowing it to stagnate, preventing it from developing and evolving in line with the requirements of the industry and customer base. It’s important to stay ahead of shifts and trends as a blogger, understanding the potential twists in the industry and catering for them just as they emerge in your market. Knowing what your customers are looking for, and providing it to them even before they were aware they had a need, will ensure you always stay ahead of your competitors and succeed.

Set a routine

Finally, having a great routine will enhance the way you run your blog, forever. Set apart a time to update your site, and have a strong and inflexible schedule based upon what you need to achieve each day, and when you want to achieve it by. This firms up your strategy and task list, and keeps you on track to be an outstanding blogger!

Premium Series: Woo Themes Will Make Your Visitors Say Wooooo!

In my Premium Series I’m taking a look at Premium WordPress plugins and WordPress themes that I personally use, either for myself and for others. All opinions are my own and not influenced by affiliate commissions or anyone connected to the product.

Premium (or paid-for) themes have really taken off in the past year or two, with many seeing them as a viable alternative to a complete custom design. In fact, even with complete custom designs, these are often done on the top of a premium theme to provide the best of both worlds – the great backend features, and the unique design.

One company that provides a lot of WordPress themes is Woo Themes.

Who Are Woo?

Started by three guys, Adii, Mark and Magnus, Woo now has a large number of collaborative designers who contribute code and designs to Woo. They’re also behind the new menu system in WordPress 3.0 that I absolutely love.

They offer over 60 different themes, each with different in-built color schemes, there are themes for almost every conceivable type of blog. They also release at least 2 new themes per month, each with new features.

Not all are paid for, in fact there are over 10 free themes available, so it can be worth downloading one of those to see the quality.

What’s Great?

There are a lot of things that Woo do really well:

WooThemes - Quality Themes, Great Support
  • The themes look wonderful. It’s all a matter of opinion of course, but generally their themes look great.
  • Price.They have a permanent 3-for-1 offer for $70, but more about that later.
  • Updates. One thing that has always impressed me is the constant updating of even pretty old themes. Whether it will be bug fixes or adding functionality that other themes have, often you will find a new and improved version of a theme you already have.
  • Support. Like most premium theme providers, Woo give a lot of forum support and each theme has it’s own support if you’re having any problems.
  • Theme framework. Without getting too technical, Woo have a great menu system for all of their themes that work in a similar way for each theme so even if you change which of their themes you’re using, the admin options and template functions work in the same way. The admin options work smoothly and provide various levels of configurability so you don’t have to touch the code. You can also now automatically update this framework through the admin panel, so you get the latest features and fixes.
  • Demo system. The website has a great demo system where you can not only demo any of their themes, and their color style choices, you can also get your own WordPress login and play with the theme options panel for each theme. Very nice!

What’s Not Great

While there are a wonderful number of styles for each theme that can be changed with one click, the themes are not as easy to customize as, say, Headway is. HTML and CSS skills are required to customize some parts of the theme, and PHP experience is often a bonus.

Some people prefer to start from a blank canvas, and here themes like Thesis and Headway are better for that.

The styles also often require a reasonable number of graphics, so if the in-built color styles are not quite to your taste, it takes some graphic work on all the elements to change. This can be time consuming and needs a little experience, though is no different to most other themes but the number of graphics can be frustrating. However a Photoshop of the file helps a lot, but this is only available in the Developer packages. This leads us to the pricing plans…

Pricing

There are four options overall, two single purchase and two monthly subscription.

The license for any option is awesome, use on as many WordPress blogs as you want! Very refreshing compared to more common stricter one or two site licenses.

The monthly options allow you get the new themes as soon as they come out, PLUS access to all the previous themes (yes all of them!) that have been released. You have to remain a member to get the new themes and updates however you get to keep any themes you have already downloaded if you do quit.

The single purchase options are very well priced. The Standard package now offers their permanent 3-for-1 deal, so three top quality premium themes for $70 is a great deal. The Developer package varies only by providing 4-for-1 and the Photoshop file for each themes. As I have previously mentioned, the themes are quite graphic intensive so the Developer theme is a must if you, or your tech person, are going to be changing the graphics.

What Type Of Sites Are Woo Themes For?

Woo provide a great number of types of themes. They broadly categorize them into six groups: Magazine/News; Personal Blog; Portfolio; CMS; Business; and Multimedia. Most of the free themes are in the Personal Blog category but with the 3-for-1 offer you can pick up a theme from different categories if you’re unsure of what type of site you have, or use them on multiple sites.

Which Are The Best Themes?

Theme choice is a very personal decision, the same as what clothes you like to wear. It also depends on the purpose of your blog, a business site is going to require a very different theme to a video blog or a site promoting your latest paintings. The Woo Theme Playground demo system really is the best way to take a look at the choices available.

They do have a Theme Leaderboard which is ranked by sales, but I really urge you to make up your own mind and see the choices that are available. There really is something for almost everyone!

BTG logo Summary

Where I use this: On many sites, such as Theme Vids.

Pros: Great variety; Excellent Value; Nice designs with different color options

Cons: Can be relatively complex to alter structure or graphic design if needed.

Cost: $70 for three themes

From: Woo Themes (affiliate link)

Testing Your Site in Different Browsers

Not too many years ago, virtually everyone who surfed the Web used Internet Explorer, with the AOL browser lagging slightly behind as the world’s second surfing utility. The rise of Mozilla shifted the tide significantly, as Firefox fans showed the world other browsing possibilities indeed existed. These days there are literally dozens of ways to surf the Web, and the odds are good that your blog traffic is divided among multiple browser users.

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