Why Did I Become an Affiliate Marketer

For some time I was fed up having an unfulfilling and underpaid job. Deep down I knew I could do much better and I was informing myself what are the possibilities.

From all the options I considered, becoming an affiliate marketer was standing out because of these 3 crucial characteristics:

Characteristic 1: Simple Business Model

The affiliate marketing business model is perfect for first-time business owners because of its simplicity. You are only concerned about marketing products and services of other people.

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All other parts of the chain, such as product development, fulfillment, payment, and customer care are being taken care of by someone else, for example, Amazon.

After 30 years of being an employer in the corporate world, I was going to make a move to entrepreneurship. This on its own requires a big mindset shift, so starting with a lean business model was essential.

Amazon is the largest online retailer. Around 50% of all sales on Amazon come from affiliates.

In addition, while many businesses are struggling at the moment, Affiliate Marketing is thriving. The industry is worth an estimated $12 billion right now and is set to grow by at least a further 10% over the next few years.

Characteristic 2: Location Independent Income

All I need to run my affiliate online business is a laptop and a good internet connection. Location independent income means a lot to me, it means freedom!!

I will be able to work from home or wherever I need and want to be at a given moment. This will allow me to combine work with travel, but also visit my parents more often and help them with the difficult moments they might encounter as they grow old.

Family instead of face time in Macedonia

I will have more autonomy in organizing my time, so I will be spending more quality time with my children, family, and friends.

The location freedom is priceless and a big motivator getting me through the initial steep learning curve.

Characteristic 3: Personal Growth

As an affiliate marketer, I am promoting products and services that I love and value. To determine what is that you want and can bring to the market, you need to go through a wonderful self-discovery journey.

You need to become clear about what your top values are and what makes your life and professional experience unique. I have written some more about it here.

You also need to figure out what is your ideal day and create a vision with an action plan to come there.

This personal growth journey will help you determine what is your unique contribution to the world, which brings value to others for which they are willing to pay.

In addition, starting your own online business means, you are the boss now. To act like a boss, I needed to learn to take risks, to deal with big money, to be resourceful when things don’t turn as planned. This is exactly what makes me fulfilled, what brings me more excitement and joy in life!

It is not always easy, but you grow together with your business! The path into entrepreneurship is a path of learning to deal with fear and at the same time having a solid and clear vision that feeds your faith to make the small, persistent steps every day.

How do you choose products to promote

As an affiliate marketer, I promote other people’s products and services, earning a commission if people actually end up buying thanks to my marketing. I need to study the products and services that I feel have value.

To determine the products I could promote, I looked into how I spend my free time, which activities I enjoy doing and what are the objects in my home that I love to be surrounded with. I also started noticing which topics I love to discuss with my friends and this is how I concluded to start promoting digital educational products and books.

Awakening the feminine sexuality retreat: Tantra teachings https://christianeameya.com/

The world of tantra yoga and teachings was also a good affiliate niche candidate, but I decided to start small and park it for now.

By the way, this is another convenient thing about this business. You can start with one product and grow your product palette once you have honed your marketing skills or when your personal interests and hobbies change.

What are the skills of the affiliate marketer

My part of the game as an affiliate is to learn everything about the product I promote and find customers for it. I need to know how people can benefit from using the product and educate customers to understand those benefits.

Another part of my job is to know where to find those customers who match with my product. Are they on Youtube and when? Are they using specific digital forums or frequenting specific websites or facebook groups?

For example, I have a whole website around the topic of meaningful work, also called in the marketing jargon, an authority website. I might promote this book by Tim Ferriss by writing a blog on my website and explaining how this book gave me the idea of affiliate marketing as an alternative or addition to the 9 to 5 corporate job.

If you trust me and you find the information valuable, you can then click on the link and buy the book. In this case, Amazon will pay me a commission.

This is called content marketing. There are many other digital ways I can use to get to the potential customers and market my products. I can use social networks like Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram, or I can create ads to be shown when people search on Google for things related to my products.

The digital ways to reach potential customers are plenty, but once you hone your marketing and communication skills, you can apply them everywhere. So here are the basic skills:

  1. Building and maintaining an authority website – this is a combination of digital skills and building confidence that your voice matters, that you do have something of value to say.
  2. Creating inspiring and valuable content, copywriting, story-telling, topic research. These skills can be compared to journalism in combination with personal growth and self-discovery.
  3. Digital marketing – finding out where potential customers are (market research) and building a valuable and trustful relationship with them (communication and human behavior studies).

Where to start?

If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing and how to start your own online business, then I strongly recommend you to check the Mentors education platform.

There are lots of training institutions out there, but this one I know from the inside and I can tell you that the quality of their education, tools, training, and support is exceptional.

I love being part of this vibrant international community and to have access to all the entrepreneurial and marketing knowledge for the same money per month I pay for my sports club.

Contact me if you have questions or directly create a free account to experience it with your own eyes.
You can create your free account here

All in all affiliate marketing is a good way to get started as an entrepreneur in the online world. Are you considering it?

Let me know in the comments.

Can we improve our emotional intelligence?

I am very fortunate to have Martyn Newman as a trusted and inspiring friend. He is a clinical psychologist and thought leader in the field of Emotional Intelligence. He would often share his knowledge during our interesting dinner conversations to help me address personal and career development issues.

I would like to share the essence of his advice with you. It boils down to developing three crucial emotional intelligence skills:

  1. Self-Reliance
  2. Confidence
  3. Optimism
Me and Martyn spending holidays together with our families

Developing these skills (yes, they can be developed!!) has enabled me to make the right decisions and navigate with confidence the challenging times we are in.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

We used to think that our behavior is explained almost exclusively by intellect and personality and that these things are fixed by the time we are 20.

The social and behavioral sciences discovered that before our intelligence is involved, physical and emotional experiences arise within us that shape our intellectual response. Our judgments and behavior are really driven by these primary experiences.

The effective management of emotions in ourselves and other people is crucial for being effective and successful.

This is what Emotional Intelligence in essence is about. Unlike personality, the skills of emotional intelligence can be learned and developed.

We now know that emotional intelligence skills are those that make exceptional leaders. We all have these skills dormant within us and we can develop them to access our full potential.

I will elaborate on the three skills that are most frequently found in great leaders.

Self-Reliance

This skill enables us to go inside ourselves and find the courage to take responsibility for our thoughts and our actions. It means, learning to influence our mindset to create beliefs that will motivate us to rise above the limiting circumstances and take bold actions.

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” – American Congressmen Bruce Barton

Often life brings suffering. Those who thrive, rather than simply survive, are those that have learned to protect their minds being brought down by negative emotions, panic, or fear. Self-reliance is the first step in reclaiming our personal power, instead of becoming a victim of the negative circumstances.

To develop self-reliance, we simply need to start taking action. If it fails, admit it frankly and try again something new. Experimentation and persistent action are key to developing this leadership skill.

Confidence

This skill is about feeling good with ourselves. Healthy self-confidence is based on two factors:

  1. Self-liking
  2. Self-competence
Photo by Rene Asmussen, Pexels

The first factor, liking yourself, is a decision you can practice. When you look inside yourself, whatever you find there, you need to make the decision to like it. Because if you don’t, no one else will.
By accepting who you are, the good and bad stuff, you will protect yourself from spending your life compensating for not really valuing who you are. It doesn’t mean that you should not change the things you are less happy with instead, it means to be self-compassionate. You may not be everything that you like to be, but still, begin to treat yourself more kindly.

Self-competence is being shaped in childhood, but can also be learned. Parents who are overprotective can limit their children from experiencing the positive learnings of taking risks. Instead of acknowledging the creative, resourceful, and brave actions of their children, they focus solely on safety and rules. These children do not learn to trust and see themselves as competent.
Micromanagement on the workflow can have the same devastating effect on people. Overcontrolling managers have difficulty with the delegation of tasks. They fail to create a culture where people feel free to be themselves, feel valued and competent.

Luckily, we can take things into our own hands. To boost confidence, we need to start taking risks, developing new initiatives and new skills, and backing up our opinions. This will clearly get us out of our comfort zone, but the more we do that, the faster we will get the nurturing benefits of self-licking and self-competence.

Optimism

In twenty years of psychology research, optimism is the single most reliable predictor of how well people will do in life. I am not talking about some superficial pink glasses through which we should look at the world, neglecting the circumstances. What I mean is choosing optimism as a strategy of not giving up. It is a skill of being creative, looking over the horizon to see what is possible, recognizing opportunities that will help you bounce back from a setback.

I love how Melinda Gates has described optimism as a conscious choice to not look away. This is what she said once she visited one of the hospitals that Gates foundation sponsors in Africa:

Optimism for me isn’t a passive expectation that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better – that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is, we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away.

According to the founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman when people are suffering prolonged adversity, the default and automatic response is helplessness, a sense of a lack of control of our environment.

Optimism is not an inborn quality, but the skill that enables us to protect and maintain hope. We need to learn to deal with the helplessness. We need to learn how to maintain hope, the perception that we can control, and harness the unpredictability around us. The ways to develop optimism are by looking ahead into the possibilities, by experimenting with alternative solutions, by learning lessons from the current situation, and last but not least, by taking constant action.

Emotional Intelligence is all about building leadership skills. If you want to learn more about it, I suggest you read Daniel Goleman.

The main message I wanted to convey with this article is that self-reliance, confidence, and optimism are not inborn skills.
Anyone who puts effort into improving them, can learn how to influence his mindset, protect his mood, and stay flexible and strong in difficult circumstances.

Get in the driver’s seat and create the life you love!

Own Business As Alternative To MBA

Do you want to bring your career and life to the next level and are ready to develop new skills? Are you considering an MBA?
The MBA studies are the standard answer to your need for growth however, creating your own digital business might be even a better investment of your precious time and money.

The MBA Promise

I must admit that the MBA promise sounds really attractive.

You will become a leader with a purpose who can create her job description based on her clear vision. You will unlock your full potential, stand out, be able to identify solutions to complex problems and reflect on your values, goals, and beliefs. You will produce significant value to others and you will be paid abundantly in return. You will be free from financial worries. You will show to the world how much more you have to offer

In my opinion, in the current post-pandemic economic climate, the chances that you will achieve the above goals through an MBA study are much lower than if you would study how to start a digital business instead.

Here are the five reasons why I chose to learn how to start my own business from scratch with the SFM over the MBA.

Comparison Between MBA and Starting Your Own Online Business

I chose to become a digital entrepreneur for the following reasons.

Higher increase in income

  • MBA graduates report salary increases between 60% to 200%
  • SFM student sets up his own digital business during the studies and can start earning while learning. My forecast is that my business will become profitable by the end of the first year. Opposite to how a salary works, I can scale my income, and have seen many fellow students do it, to six figures and beyond. This solely depends on my effort and dedication to develop my business further.

Lower costs

  • In the UK, the tuition fees for a full-time MBA can cost anything from £30,000, to £90,000.
  • The SFM education costs around £100 per month for group online lessons, including access to over 10,000 e-Learning courses in Business, Marketing, Creative and Technology and free access to all the Linkedin Courses. If you want Expert Mentorship, Masterminding & Over-the-Shoulder Training it will cost you another £2000 per year.

Bigger Return On Investment – ROI

  • Only after the MBA graduation, you can profit from a higher salary position. However, given the current situation, an MBA might not make any difference to the recruitment opportunities as big companies will be looking hard at their bottom lines.
  • The digital economy on the other hand is booming and the pandemic is even accelerating this trand. According to the latest research of HSBC Global Markets and Banking, some 10 – 30% of retail sales are currently online in most developed countries with double-digit growth over the past year. They estimate that about half of goods consumption could be online in many developed markets by 2030.
    With SFM you can earn as you learn. Usually, it takes 3 to 6 months to start getting revenue from your digital business and then you can focus on developing and fine-tuning your strategies to become profitable in a very agile way.

More freedom and flexibility

  • In your new MBA role, you will most probably be working longer hours than before, be under much higher pressure, and still selling your time for money in a very hierarchical environment.
  • Once you set up your own digital business, it runs on autopilot. You can establish valuable relationships with customers all over the world and run your business from the comfort of your home or where ever you want to travel or be.

Personal growth

  • With an MBA you will probably stay in the corporate world and develop knowledge and leadership which is specific to your role and industry.
  • On the contrary, your own business is centered around your purpose and the things you love to do. You will provide services or products that play to your strengths and that you would feel are truly worthwhile.

Conclusion

I hope you can use this comparison study between MBA and Starting Your Own Digital Business to decide what is the best way to bring your career and life to the next level.

The new circumstances brought by the global impact of COVID-19, have stimulated many people to reimagine their future and ask an even bigger question than the choice of education.

If you are interested in developing new skills and are prepared to invest some time and spend some money to do so, what would you really like to do?

What is that service or product that plays to your strengths, that someone will pay you for, and that you would feel is truly worthwhile?

To learn more about the digital economy opportunities and the SFM educational platform, check the free Webinar given by Stuart Ross, one of the top digital business strategists I have the honor to have as a mentor.

How To Move Other People

Wouldn’t it be great if you can confidently persuade your boss to support your next project?
And how satisfied would you feel if you can cajole your teenager to limit the screen time?
If you are up for a real challenge, imagine convincing your partner to get a dog?

If you can handle the above situations smoothly and achieve the desired outcome then:

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I couldn’t help but borrow this rhyme from Kipling’s poem “If”. We will talk about it another time, but for now, read further if you want to learn how to move people.

We Are All In Sales

Sales? Blecch, I would have exclaimed some years ago.

Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

I was associating selling with being annoying and pushing people to do something or buy a product/service they didn’t want. Today, I know better.
If I could teach my children one skill only, then that would be the skill of selling. I have never thought of myself as a salesperson, but I have come to the realization that we all are.

Only a little part of the sales skills is related to selling products. Selling in a broader sense is moving others to take action and this is what we all spend a significant amount of time on. Today, for example, I have persuaded my daughter to clean her room. I can assure you, this was not an easy task!!
I also wrote this article to convince you that selling is a useful skill. On Monday I will pitch my project to my boss hoping that she will approve its implementation because I understood her needs and requirements well.

woman standing in front of children

Sales is not just about earning money. You can sell ideas, time, attention, anything that can be exchanged and is of value to others.
We can learn a good deal about sales especially from professionals working in not overly commercial sectors, such as education and health care.

Physicians are selling a remedy and are convincing patients to embark on a healthy lifestyle. Teachers are selling knowledge, persuading students that investing time in education will get them a better future.

How To Master Selling With Attunement

If selling is so important and omnipresent in our lives, let us learn how to do it properly. According to Daniel Pink attunement is where we should start.

Attunement is a capacity to see the perspective of the other, to get inside of other’s head. If you are attuned with the other, you are able to step outside of our own experience and imagine the emotions, perceptions, and motivations of the other.

Perspective-taking is related, but not the same as empathy. The first one is a cognitive capacity and it is practiced by thinking and imagining, while empathy is an emotional response. Studies show that to achieve attunement it is “more beneficial to get insight their heads that to have them inside one’s own heart”.

The simplest way to get into the head of others is to start a conversation and ask open questions. Be curious about their world and listen actively. Give space to small talk to find commonalities. People are more likely to move together when they share common ground and we usually have more in common then the first sight might suggest. Check this amazing ad from the Danish Television channel TV2.

For even better results, you can reduce your power to open space to the other person to express himself more freely. Another way to attune is by applying strategic mimicry. Both are explained in the continuation.

Reduce your power level

In his brilliant book “To sell is human” Mr. Pink pulls out a very interesting social science research.

He concludes that reducing our own power level when starting encounters helps to get attuned. When we position ourselves lower and act with humility, it is more likely that we will actively listen and we will be more focussed on what we can learn from or about the other person. Much like the art of improvisational theater, we accept any offer from the other person, so that he can feel free to express himself in an honest and authentic way.

Here is an exercise that can help you discover the power levels of the conversation participants.

Exercise: Discussion map

Next time you have a meeting start drawing a diagram of where each person in the meeting is seating. Then every time someone talks mark an X next to his name. When person A speaks directly to person B draw a line from A to B. Here is an example, from which you can see that ST is talking the most, TT is sitting it out, and AT is being targeted perhaps with criticism or complaints.

To reveal a groups social cartography, building a mental map will ...

Especially nowadays where video conferencing is so prevalent, you have the perfect occasion to exercise this without anyone seeing you 🙂 Go ahead, learn to observe, and discover the power games within your team. Create a better understanding of the social relationships and the context adopted by others to be able to get inside of their heads, assume their viewpoints and start moving them in the right direction.

Strategic mimicry

Another technique that can help us be more attuned is mimicking. You can mimic speech accents, tone, and patterns, body positions, facial expressions, basically all the behavior patterns of your conversation partner. In fact, without realizing that, we are naturally mimicking already like for example if the person you talk to leans back in his chair, we tent unconsciously to follow and lean back too.

This technique is about observing your partner and bringing awareness of his body position and expression. Then using mimicry strategically to build rapport.
I know, at first, it might sound like “aping” others, but scientist’s view of mimicry is different. To them, this tendency is “deeply human, a natural act that serves as a social glue and a sign of trust”. This gives us unconsciously the feeling that we are in sync with the other, which increases trust.

Here is a simple game to help you be more aware of the body language and the expressions of yourself and your conversation partner.

Exercise: Mirror, Mirror

I just played this nice game with my daughter (11). She loves it. It goes like this.

Me and my dautherplaying the mirror, mirror game
  • You stand facing each other observing for a minute what is the body position and the facial expression of the other person.
  • Then you turn the backs to each other and each of you changes something small.
  • After a minute you face each other again and try to see what the other person has changed. Small things, like the head leans a bit on the side now, or your feet are slightly more apart.

This exercise is fun to do and it trains you to become a better observer so that you can easily focus on the perspective of the other.

As simple as it sounds attunement requires deftness and finding the right balance between being strategic and being human, between when to speak up and when to shut up.

Conclusion

By now, I hope you realize that selling is a crucial skill and that in most cases, it is not related to commercial objectives. It is much more about building relationships based on honesty, directness, and transparency. Sales is about understanding and moving people to action. Following  is a modern definition of sales from Pink’s book I can relate to:

“The ability to influence, to persuade, and to change behavior while striking a balance between what others want and what you can provide them”

Mastering sales and moving others is a transformative experience. It takes you from being a follower to becoming a leader. Although it is not something we can learn overnight, we do have the opportunity to practice it and get a little bit better every day.

To Sell Is Human

The Power Of Writing

Do you sometimes feel moody or sad and unable to pinpoint the reason? Is it difficult for you to imagine your desired future in vivid detail? Or perhaps, you would like to be able to transform anger into constructive action?

All these and much more can be achieved by the simple act of writing.

Journaling to get in touch with yourself

Intuitively, I have felt the profound power of writing and have been keeping a journal since my student days. This was the time when I started living on my own and had to rely on my own judgment. On the days when I felt uncomfortable and irritated or excited and overwhelmed, I would find a quiet place – that was easy back then without kids 🙂 – and talk to my journal.

I would write whatever came to my mind and for as long as the words kept streaming out of my pen. After that, I felt lighter and calmer with a sense of clarity and direction. This practice is called journaling. Even just 10 minutes are enough to harmonize your mind and emotions.

If you want to start journaling just do it. All you really need is a pen and paper. For more guidance check the advice of Dr. James Pennebaker.

Writing to boost your imagination

Writing is also a perfect way to boost your imagination. This is important because imagining how you want your life to be, is the first step in creating the life you love.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
― Albert Einstein

Here is a fun writing exercise you can do.

Recall a feel-good, positive memory and write it down. Then rewrite it to be not only positive but perfect, like in your wildest dreams. Let me give you an example.

Here is a memory of mine:

I am having a holiday and for a week I don’t have to waste my time commuting. I have all the freedom to choose how to spend my time. At the end of this week, the feeling of joy and freedom is replaced by nervousness and dread as I face the moment of entering the rat race again. The thought of spending my time on endless, unproductive meetings and commutes instead of on the things that matter to me, makes me unhappy.

Now I will use my imagination to rewrite it. I do that by removing (crossed out) words and adding new (bold) imaginary experiences until it feels perfect.

I am having a holiday and for a week I don’t have to waste my time commuting work. Yet, my work is so interesting that even when I am on a holiday I enjoy focussing on it now and then. I have all the freedom to choose how to spend my time. At the end of this week, the feeling of joy and freedom is replaced by nervousness and dread as I face the moment of entering the rat race again. The thought of spending my time on endless, unproductive meetings and commutes instead of on the things that matter to me, makes me unhappy. In fact, since I have started my own online business, I have all the freedom to choose how I spend my time in general, not only during the holidays. I am really pleased with myself as I reflect on the fact that I dared to stretch myself and create this freedom to live life on my own terms. 

Your unconscious mind can not tell the difference between a real or imagined event. So, by doing this writing exercise you are actually instructing your unconscious on how to support you in achieving your goals. Interesting isn’t it?

Feel like exploring more? This book gives practical guidance on how to harness your unconscious mind.

Write to channel your anger

Writing is also a fantastic way to calm down anger and channel it into productive action. I have taught this simple technique to my daughter and see her regularly applying it.
When she was around 7 years old she used to have difficulty accepting no as an answer. Often she would burst into anger, for something very insignificant, like not being allowed to have another ice cream.
The technique is really simple.

young_manuel13.jpg
Creative Commons: Credit to Manuel Noah Angeja

When her anger tantrum was beginning, I would give her a piece of paper and suggest she draws or describes what she feels. And to my surprise, she would accept my suggestion and stay in her room busy with that paper for quite some time.

She would come out of her room, calm and approachable. I was amazed at how transformational and healing writing was, even at such a young age.

All in all, writing is a very simple and powerful tool to understand and manage yourself better. And who knows, one day you might even discover that you have a talent and the world will be yearning for more of your amazing stories.

Do you have time for the things that matter?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized? Have you ever caught yourself complaining that you have less and less time?
In addition, as we age, we perceive that time passes faster and the urgency to do something great with the time left increases.

There are far more interesting things to be done and opportunities to be pursued in this world than we have time to invest in. To help you focus on the things that matter to you the most, I am describing 3 practices which I find useful:

too many choices
Our world of endless choices
  1. Find your purpose
  2. Filter the opportunities
  3. Get support

By applying these practices you will be able to manage your time wisely and focus on the important and exciting things.

Find your purpose

For some people this might be totally unknown territory. Others consider finding their purpose as the ultimate and mandatory spiritual journey. I prefer to look at it from the practical side and regularly ponder these 3 questions to figure it out:

  1. What do I feel deeply inspired by?
  2. What am I particularly talented at?
  3. What meets a significant need in the world?

By finding the answers to these thought-provoking questions, we can start seeing how we can add value to the world by developing our talents and interests. In my opinion, this should be our purpose, finding the intersection of these 3 domains, finding our highest point of contribution.

We all have experienced that very special feeling when we were doing something we were passionate about. Do you remember the excitement, the lost sense of time, the feeling of being “in the flow”, the extreme focus, the satisfaction?

Once you have at least a slight idea of your purpose you can start filtering the activities and opportunities coming your way.

Filter the opportunities

All you need to do from now on is, ask yourself every time you are required or tempted to do something, “is this task/project/opportunity aligned with my purpose?”

Instead of working harder and trying to do it all and please everyone, your purpose gives you a framework to explore and evaluate different options before committing. You can deliberately choose to focus on the things that matter and leave the rest aside.

In my case, this was easier said than done. I was not able to choose, for example, between working on my passions on Sunday or spending time with my family. I would always underestimate the necessary efforts and try to squeeze both in my agenda, unrealistically hoping that somehow I can successfully manage both activities. My exhaustion was telling me day in day out, that my energy is limited and that I should change my approach. I am so glad I found a perfect way to deal with this concern in this engaging book:

Today when I am planning my day, instead of asking myself “What do I have to give up?” I reframe the question as “What do I want to go big on?”. This small change has a profound impact on how I perceive my spending of time. It enables me to embrace the inevitable trade-offs as strategic choices instead of ignoring them or even worse, letting them make me feel guilty and stressed.

Once you pick an option worth committing and you have accepted the trade-offs, you will experience peace of mind and freedom to go big on it, show your beautiful authentic self and make your highest contribution.

Get support

If you are serious about focussing on what really matters to you, I encourage you to read the Essentialist book I mentioned above. It is a treasure of tips and tools on how to manage yourself and your time better so you can focus on the matters that are important to you.

Obviously just reading the book will not do the magic. You will need to engage discipline in place and develop habits to consistently and rigorously keep cleaning your life from the non-essential clutter. You will also need to develop self-confidence and leadership skills to be able to say a deliberate no, for example to your boss or family, while continuing to be respected and appreciated.

I am so glad I do not have to do this on my own. Through my SFM membership I have access to a world-class education, talented mentors, and like-minded people to help me along the way. The SFM membership is much like my membership to the fitness center and for the same price, only it focuses on my leadership and digital business skills.

At the SFM, I am not only learning how to create time for the things that really matter, but also how to run a profitable online business from doing those things.
If this sounds attractive to you as well, then you can check the ALL-IN Package membership below.

The SFM All-In Package

Once you gain clarity of purpose, it becomes easier to determine and stick to the activities and efforts that really matter. You will be in control of your time and will have the freedom to make your best, authentic contribution. You will be experiencing joy, and tapping more of your unique potential.

3 Tools To Help You Stay On Track

I am going to tell you nothing new and yet it will be valuable if it moves you to take action. These are the 3 easy to apply tools that will help you progress in a stable and consistent way, whatever your current goal might be:

  1. Define your KPIs
  2. Maintain an action tracker
  3. Focus on one thing at a time

I will dive into each of these standard business tools in some detail below. As I said, they might be known to you already, but the secret of their power lies in applying them on a regular basis.

Define your KPIs

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator and it is used to measure performance towards a certain goal. For example, if my goal is to become an authority on a given subject and I do that by blogging, some of my KPIs worth tracking could be:

KPI: Number of blogs per week
  • My Productivity: number of blogs per week ( my goal is 7, I am almost there ;-))
  • Audience Engagement: number of blog page visits, number of comments left on my blogs, number of newsletter subscribers, etc.

For each KPI you can set an initial goal and work towards it. Once per week, or in any case on a regular basis, you need to seat down and evaluate your success. You will either have a moment of great satisfaction cause you are moving in the right direction. Or you will have some insights on what needs to be adjusted if the results are not as expected.

Maintain an action tracker

This one is really easy and it takes no more than 5 minutes a day. You need an excel sheet or any other tool that supports To Do Lists.
Write down the most important actions that you need to do tomorrow to progress towards your desired goal. You do not have to write all the things you do, just the most important, challenging ones or those actions which are not yet part of your daily routine.

For some time I used my paper journal for this, cause I love writing with a pen. However, it is difficult to spot trends over a longer period by flipping the pages all the time. For this excel is a much better tool. Every day at some point you need to do a quick check on how far are you with the actions of today and write down the actions for tomorrow. I do it in the evening before I go to bed.

With this tool, you are holding yourself accountable. You can see trends such as procrastination of some important actions for weeks or on a more positive side, you can realize that you have been exercising 3 times per week for a month now, just as you wanted, so make sure celebration is on your action list for tomorrow.

Focus on one thing at a time

Related image
One bite at a time

When you are enthusiastic about something or have a big, exciting project ahead, it is often very difficult to know what is the next best action to do today. If you have 10 things, all contributing to your goal, how do you prioritize them?
Instead of feeling overwhelmed and inefficient, switching from the one to the other task, you need to focus. In other words, the only way to eat a whole elephant is bite by bite.

I personally love multitasking and for me, it is very difficult to stay disciplined and focused on one thing at the time. Luckily, there are books to help me manage myself better. If you are like me, I recommend you to read this book by Greg McKeown.

It talks about how to make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter to you. It talks about how to free time by focussing on the essential stuff and actively and consciously acknowledging and accepting the trade-offs we make, the things we leave for later, or maybe never.   

All in all, these 3 tools are very easy to use, but it takes a systematic discipline to make them move you in the desired direction of reaching your goals. 
Let me know what are the tools you use to stay on track! 

Can I become financially independent?

Can I really become rich? Can I achieve financial independence?
I am not born in a rich country, nor in a rich family. I work for a salary and am already halfway through life. According to the businessman and committed financial educator Robert Kiyosaki, I am a bit late with starting to think about this subject.
However, he also says, it is better to start now than never which is why I dived into his #1 New York Times bestseller “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and here is the wisdom I found.

He basically says that the two most important things you need in order to get rich are financial education and a mindset change. With these two in your pocket, you can develop a plan to thrive and avoid being a victim of these difficult COVID-19 times.

Financial Education

This is something we generally do not learn at school. These are subjects like Accounting, Marketing and Sales, Law, and Investing. Even if you happen to have specialized in one of these subjects, you most probably do not use this knowledge to become financially independent. Instead, you are filling the pockets of your boss or the government.

Learn Financial, Digital Marketing and Sales skills as soon as possible

The children of the rich people take in the knowledge of these subjects with the mother’s milk. They learn to make the money work for them on the dinner table. This doesn’t mean, that for them, it is not hard work to become or maintain their wealth, but they do have a huge start advantage with experienced mentors guiding them.

I am not so worried about learning new skills. If you are anything like me, having a career in the fast-paced corporate world, you are used to updating your skills on a regular basis. We also have a natural need and curiosity to grow our knowledge, so spending time learning new skills feels satisfying for most of us.
So, why not follow the advice of the rich dad of mister Kiyosaki and pick up on Investing to learn how to create assets that will bring us passive money?
Why not follow Digital Marketing training, or Sales and Online Business to learn how to inspire people. To understand how to add value in their lives, for which they will be grateful and willing to reward you.

Mindset change

This one is the tougher of the two things you need most to get rich, according to the book, and I fully agree with Kiyosaki, as I have tried it. Changing your mindset takes time and lots of discipline. It requires identifying your fears and learning how to embrace them without being distracted from your goal. In other words, learning to take controlled risks and building your courage and self-esteem.
You will need to get to know yourself much, much better. Discover your purpose, your strengths, passions, and beliefs. Change those ones who are not serving you anymore.

Financial independence requires a mindset change from employee to entrepreneur
M.C. Escher “Hand with Reflecting Sphere

You will need to start loving yourself including the things you do not like at the moment.

As you can imagine, these are not easy tasks. However, they are very fulfilling and will add enormous value to your life. Instead of being a vulnerable employee, you will be an entrepreneur who takes the lead, imagines, and creates the future he loves. You will become wealthy, an achiever, and will be able to impact the world in a profound and meaningful way.

The mindset changing is a journey of personal growth. If you want to progress quickly, the support of likeminded people and mentors, who are steps ahead of you, is crucial. Getting the right skills, that you can do on your own. There are plenty of books and online courses.
But you can not do the mindset shift alone, or at least not quick enough to live a substantial part of your life in abundance.

Having the support network, on the bad days, on the days you are doubting and feeling miserable is of uttermost value. Having people who will hold the space for you, who will listen deeply and guide you in every step of this incredible journey is the key to keeping persistence and not giving up halfway through.
You might be lucky and find this sort of support in your current circle of friends, yet the chances are high that their mindset is exactly the one you want to change. You know that you are a product of your environment, right?

The SFM platform has both

This is why I want to introduce you to the SFM mentoring and training platform I am part of.

Check the ALL-IN-PACKAGE of the SFM mentoring and training platform

Their biggest value is not the sophisticated tools and world-class training programs, events, and webinars, but the personal guidance and support they give to help you break through the ceilings in your life and business.
It is the people, the community, the unique culture of helping each other to grow and become the best version of yourself. Check what they offer by registering for this Free Webinar and let me know if I can be of any help to you in your personal journey to becoming rich and living life on your own terms.

Writing a shareable story about anything fast

Stories are a foundational part of our culture. We use stories to communicate, to remember things, to build our identity, learn, teach, entertain and inspire.
Although it is natural for us to tell stories, creating likable and shareable ones requires a special skill.
You can hone this skill and profit from it daily. Colleagues will hang on your lips during your presentations, your blog subscriptions will rise and your marketing will flourish. Even at home nowadays, with the Corona lockdown, this skill is indispensable. Why not impress your children with it and make homeschooling an exciting adventure.
Let’s get started with the basics.

The basic story structure

I will let the famous and highly prolific American writer Kurt Vonnegut explain the structure of a story.

To summarize, there are five basic elements:

  1. Exposition – description of the basic context and situation: who, what, when and where.
  2. Inciting incident – Objective or something needs to happen to push the story forward. A protagonist with a certain desire or forces that are for or against the protagonist’s goal.
  3. Rising action – a conflict that impedes the protagonist from achieving their goal.
  4. Climax – we see if the goal is achieved or not
  5. Resolution – The result, what this all means in the end, the lesson learned

Let’s find these elements in the popular fable “The Fox and the Crow” credited to Aesop, a storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece. 

The Fox and the Crow - Storynory

Exposition: A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree.

Inciting incident: “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.

Rising action:  “Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”

Climax: The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.

Resolution:  “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese, I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”

Marketing stories

Knowing how to build authentic, shareable stories is paramount if you are in the marketing business. The stories in marketing are specific. They are usually about:

  • the character of the brand
  • the features and benefits of the product
  • the value of the service

To tell a marketing story respecting the above basic structure use the two worlds technique:

  1. Describe the world that is (lacking something)
  2. Describe the world that could be (the change)
  3. Place your product/service right between these 2 worlds

Tell the world that is from the consumer’s perspective, so that he can feel that something is missing.

There is a great course on Linkedin if you want to dive deeper into this topic:

Welcome from Storytelling for Advertising Campaigns by Stefan Mumaw

A good story never makes someone feel in a certain way, but rather pulls out of them something they already feel. A good story adds value. Wouldn’t it be great to master this skill?

From Idea to Reality

Many of us have plenty of marvelous dreams, but often we do not put work into making them become reality. The dream come true process is not rocket science, it requires some discipline and persistence, but it can be learned.
I know this for sure because anything we see around us has started as an idea, as somebody’s dream. Somebody, who believed his dream can become a reality, did all it takes to make it happen.
We have the amazing power to create things out of nothing, out of an idea, a thought. And luckily this process is well explained nowadays and we can all learn to apply it.

Visualization

One technique that will certainly help you in this process is visualization. You probably are already familiar with it through the teachings of your favorite spiritual leader, personal growth mentor or business leadership coach.

Credits to Creative Commons: Ahmad Nady, Ali Anwar

Visualization technique can help you:

  • Envision the final goal and strengthen your belief in achieving it,
  • Identify the resources and actions you will need to take to succeed,
  • Keep motivated to strive for your goals and dreams.

Visualization has this effect on us because apparently our brains can make no difference between dreaming, imagining or stuff happening in reality. The sensory experiences of the dream or the visualization can be just as convincingly real.

Here is some scientific proof from Psychology Today, if you don’t believe my words 😉

I decided to try it myself and finally go for the spacious house on the top of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France. Something like the Bubble palace of the famous French fashion designer Pierre Cardin.

The Bubble Palace of Pierre Cardin

The devil is in the detail

Let’s do it. Get yourself in a comfortable space without distractions and think of something you want to have or achieve. Now, start mentally imagining it as if it has already happened. Stimulate your imagination by asking questions like, how does it look like? Which colors and patterns do I see, what do I smell, how do I feel knowing that I have achieved my goal? Who is around me, what are we talking about? The more detail the better.

Actually the word visualization doesn’t cover all the aspects you include while imagining. It is not only about the visual part. You need to include all the other senses, the movement and your global state of being. It is more of a mental projection in time and space, but that might sound like science fiction, so let’s stick to the word visualization for the sake of simplicity.

Back to my goal of living in a house by the sea. Every morning in my 15 min visualization slot, I imagine myself waking up, going outside in the garden and checking the calmness of the sea. I do my yoga exercises while being caressed by the gentle breeze and the warm Mediterranean sun. I synchronize my breath with the sound of the waves. I become one with the nature around me and the feeling of calmness and joy runs through my whole body.
Before I start working in my spacious living room, with the glass doors open to the sea, I take pleasure in smelling each of the plants I have personally planted in my garden: the pine and the fig tree, the rosemary and my favorite at the end, the agapanthus azur.

Is it easy?

I wouldn’t say it is, but it can be very empowering and rewarding. Imagining beautiful things and daydreaming sounds like fun, but that is just the beginning. To progress in the realization of your goals, you need to be disciplined, create a routine, hone your skills of imagining more detail, especially for difficult goals, which might feel like mission impossible from this perspective.

I will have this beauty in my garden ( agapanthus azur )

If you are anything like me, visualizing isn’t your natural skill. I get distracted very quickly and start wandering off to random thoughts or the todo list of the day ahead.
Luckily, this book “How to get lots of money for anything Fast!” by Stuart Lichtman contains a well-structured technique that helped me learn it, much like driving a car.
Don’t get turned off by it’s cheesy, over the top title. It is an easy read, a great, practical manual in setting up goals, designing the solution and monitoring the progress.

One final tip, do not keep your plans and dreams for yourself. Talk about them with your friends, your community and mentors. In this way, they will soon become part of your reality. There is nothing to be ashamed of in wanting to create the life you love! Go for it!