Currently Reading: The Automatic Customer

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These days it seems like you can get anything on a subscription basis, from razor blades to entertainment. This is the popular business model choice for Netflix, Amazon, and even Microsoft. So I decided to read up on it to see how this would fit with my current company.

I am currently reading “The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry” by John Warrillow. Warrillow is the author of “Built to Sell” and also owns his own subscription company, SellabilityScore.com.

So what is a Subscription Business? Instead of selling multiple items each at one time for a single cost you sell a monthly or yearly subscription where the customer can access the multiple items numerous times.

What makes this better for the business? It creates a recurring customer base and a steadier recurring revenue. It also allows insight into your customer and needs that you wouldn’t normally get.

In the Automatic Customer Warrillow lists nine subscription models that you can incorporate into any business type. He gives examples of companies that currently use those models and how they can be used in various businesses.

Overall I found the book to be very helpful. It not only tells you how to set up a subscription business but how to calculate the cost of it if you are transitioning your business. It gives equations you can use to calculate the Lifetime Value, Consumer Acquisition Cost, and the Monthly Recurring Revenue.

The book gives you that basics on running a subscription business but if you are looking as to how you can acquire subscribers, set up a subscription company, or acquire a mass library like Netflix you’ll have to seek that information elsewhere.

Which is why my next book review will be “Netfilxed: The Epic Battle for America’s Eyeballs”. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 

Finding the Right Path and Knowing What you Want

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These past couple of months have been extremely busy and hectic. Several things took place at once; I produced/directed a web series, had a change in leadership in both church ministry and work, and went on a road trip to Winnipeg, Canada, on top of working on a big industry feature film. All while still working my regular job.

Even now I still have a lot more work to do on the web series with still taking on even more hours at work due to “Organizational Changes” *sigh*. And the next months is going to be even busier (film fests, show premieres, another vaca, and retail holiday season).

Through all these shifts moving around me, I feel a shift of my own coming. To what, I’m not sure. It’s funny, whenever you feel that something big is coming all the things around you start to move and shift and suddenly there are all these opportunities that present themselves to you. But if you aren’t careful, you won’t know if they are actual opportunities or just traps.

I read this article today and there was a part in there that perfectly summed up what I was thinking:

More than 60 percent of millennials say they’d rather earn $40,000 per year at a job they love than $100,000 at one they hate. And what they crave most is the flexibility to work when, where and how they want in order to balance work-life demands. Many are even willing to take a pay cut or skip a promotion to get it. Parade

Of course this can pertain to others outside of Millennials but this gets my next point.

There is this position that opened up at my job. One that is in an area that I know, with people who I like, more hours, and potential higher pay. Sounds good right? Except that I don’t want it. Would I like a better paycheck? Sure. The problem? I don’t really like that job, in fact that is why I changed positions in the first place.

That only thing that job opening is doing and serving as a distraction from what I really want to do. It is the easy logical route but it’s not one that I’m feelin’ right now. I’ve taken the easy route too many times now and it’s made me nothing but more aggravated in the end.

If you feel a shift coming for something bigger and better, don’t get distracted by the readily available safe options that will suddenly present themselves. They may look good but taking it may mean you miss out on the truly great one. Be honest and know what you really want, and be willing to wait for it or push for it if need be. You will find the right path and it will be worth it in the end.

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

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This is a phrase that I’ve heard frequently in my life. Sometimes posed as that, other times as ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Either way, they both carry the same meaning. You have to go after it or you won’t get it.

This seems like such a simple phrase but, it wasn’t until recently that I finally got it, that it finally clicked.

No, this doesn’t mean that you will always get what you ask for or that you will have something simply because you asked for it. It just means that you don’t really know what the answer is going to be until you ask.

Take this for example.

I am currently producing a webseries but I ran into some issues when I realized that the premise of one of the episodes would probably be a copyright issue that could blow up in my face later. Now I could have just said, forget it, and thrown out the episode, but instead, I decided to ask.

I contacted the company and asked them for permission to use their product in my webseries. And they said yes! Not only that but they wanted to hear more about the webseries and how they could help.

Now that answer could have gone the other way, I could have heard no, and had to toss out the episode. BUT it was better for them to tell me no, than for me to tell myself no, not really knowing the answer.

That’s the thing about “You have not because you ask not”, you may not have it simply because you haven’t asked. Sure you might have been dropping hints, or hoping for a certain outcome, or thought that whatever it is you wanted was just not a possibility.

Did you ask though? If you didn’t ask then how do you know? The worst you can hear is no, but hearing no is better telling yourself no or just not knowing.

Is there something out there you’ve wanted and haven’t asked for? Then ask, and see what happens.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Trust the Process

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Ever have a moment in your life when you feel like you are being stretched thin? Where it seems like you have so much to do that you can barely take a moment to breathe? These past two weeks have been like that for me.

My hours at work have been all over the place, I’m producing a webseries that, honestly, is going really well except for one slightly big problem that seems to keep throwing things in my face, and I think there may be something wrong with my car.

I feel like if I’m not working on one thing then I am working on the other and I am just stressing myself out  with worry and thinking I’m not doing enough.

So I stopped.

For the past two days I’ve cleared my mind and stopped thinking about those problems and focused on other things I needed to do like cut the grass and go grocery shopping. I even watched a movie on Netflix while eating my dinner.

Of course I continue to hear that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I am wasting time and need to do more, but sometimes you just need to do what you can and trust the process. No, things won’t always come easily, but know when you’ve done all you can and when you need to take a break.

Today is a much needed break and tomorrow I hit the grind.

Currently Reading: The Five Love Languages

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This is one of those books that is popular in Christian circles along with, “The Purpose Driven Life” and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. I know a lot of people who have read the book and talk often about how it changed their perspective on love and relationships, especially married couples. So I decided to give it a go.

I got the singles version of the book from the library and from there it continued to sit on my dresser. Periodically I would think about starting it or one of the many other books stacked on top of it. Occasionally I would get a reminder from the library, in which I would then have to renew it, again. By the third time, I thought perhaps I should finally get started. So I did. Turned out to be a good read.

The book, of course, talks about there being five different love languages and how we all need to receive love through each but one of them speaks more than the other. If the one we speak the most is not met then regardless of how much we get the other languages we are still empty.

It goes through how to tell which one is yours and how to tell what the languages are of other people. This part I thought was interesting because if you know someone else’s language then you knew how to love them properly.

So what is mine? Apparently, “quality time”. Which makes sense, what I really want is for someone to just listen when I speak and just be in the room with me. I am also fine with acts of service, receiving gifts, and word of affirmation. The hard one for me is touch.

I don’t really like touching people or being touch. I can do minimal stuff but extended touching (i.e. sitting close to somebody or long hugs) really make me feel like there is something bubbling in my stomach and it won’t stop until we stop touching. Too long and I feel like running or making a loud uncomfortable noise.

I’m not sure why this is but it definitely the hardest one for me to reciprocate, especially if it is someone’s love language. I’m trying to do better with it, but sometimes I really just want to wear a shirt that says “Please don’t touch me,”.

I do recommend reading this book, it comes in various forms depending on your stage in life. It was very insightful about myself and my friends and family. I’ll definitely start putting this in practice.

The Cost of Getting Comfortable 

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Janice had this dream to become a great architect someday. She went to a top school and had top marks, and even a really great internship. She graduated, applied for jobs, and then… nothing. She had some great interviews even made it to second and third round of hiring fairs, yet she still couldn’t land a job.

Her six months were coming up and soon she would have to start paying back her student loans, so she started getting desperate. She went to a job fair and just applied to any place that seemed somewhat interesting. She ended up landing a lower end job in a mediocre company but was grateful to be somewhere so she could pay her bills.

Fast forward to six years later.

Janice has moved up several places in the company, she’s getting a really great salary, and she even has money to go on vacations and buy things. At work, her position keeps her busy. She is in charge of a few employees and there is always something to do. Each night she goes home exhausted with little energy to do much else.

Now and again she will stand in front of a construction site and just watch as a new building is being put up. She could stand there for hours just watching but usually she has to rush back from lunch before she is late for work. She doesn’t hate her job, there are actually a lot of moments in which she enjoys it. Yet in those moments in which she becomes really frustrated with her job she wonders why she is even still there. She wonders just what happened to her dream.

What did happen to her dream? Janice became too comfortable.

When things don’t always work as we would hope we come up with a Plan B. In this case Janice got a job so she could pay her bills. That job became her security blanket. She was able to pay her bills, save money, and go on vacations; all basic things we would all like to do. Of course she would take a nice promotion. Of course she would work overtime to get a little more christmas money in her pocket and that nice bonus. Why wouldn’t she? It was the easier thing to do.

But the thing is, the more she stayed in that job, the harder it would be to switch to her dream.  That job had created a nice groove in her life and climbing out would be hard, it would be terrifying. It would take away the sureness of her next paycheck. It could cost her everything.

Why is it that we only welcome change or push for it when we are in discomfort?

Following the normal grind is easier, it’s comfortable because it is what we know. Following your dream is hard, painful, and sometimes feels like you are being torn apart from the inside out. There are moments in which I am building my dream in which I just want to put everything on pause and internet binge for the next five hours. I’ll even suddenly create a busy lifestyle of going out just to avoid doing what i know I should be doing. That is until my introvert spirit begs for rest.

I’m uncomfortable all the time but that is a good thing because the moment I become comfortable is the moment I stop growing, the moment I stop pursuing. Let’s go back to Janice.

Janice has decided to stop being comfortable. Although she is exhausted after work she pushes herself to stay upright and apply for jobs. While she waits to hear back she continues to work on sketches and 3D renderings of buildings. She stops at that construction site again but this time she makes friends with the contractors and GM.

And at work she says no to those overtime shifts and a promotion that will require her to take on more hours. It’s hard because she knows that it is good money she turned down but she knows that her dream will require sacrifice and if she is really going to make this work than she can’t be putting her time into other things. She knows these next few months are going to be hard but in the end it will be worth it.

Timing is Key

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In the fall of my senior year of college I had taken a course in entrepreneurial business. I was at this point in my life in which I decided I wanted to be a producer instead of a director and therefore needed to learn the business side of things.

From the description of the class we were going to learn how to start an online business and make money from it. I thought it would be cool so I signed up. What it turned out to be was a class on blogging.

You see at the time of the class the only sort of “blogging” I knew about was xanga, livejournal, and myspace. All sites where people just journaled their thoughts and feelings to the world. So right away I was worried about this assignment that would be the whole of my grade.

We were supposed, pick a niche, use blogger and create a website in which we continuously add content, and use google adwords to get money. Seems like a pretty neat class right? Well… at the time not so much. I couldn’t think of a single “niche” to create a website about. Matter of fact I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to put out for the world to see. AND on top of that we had to compete for the best site based on adword clicks and site visits?

So yeah I dropped the class in a hurry.

Fast forward to now where I’ve done a movie blog, a student debt one, and now this. Would that class be a great thing to have now? Yes!

The thing is, timing is key. Sometimes the things that annoy us in the past are the very same things that we embrace later. I mean how many of us hated vegetables as a kid but enjoy eating them now? How many of us hated when our parents would make us stay home or when there was nothing to do on a friday night but now we relish it? Or how about when you know someone (a friend of a friend) but it’s not till years later where suddenly you and that person really click and you wonder why you never clicked before? Timing.

Not everything falls in just like we think or hope it should because sometimes the timing just isn’t right yet.

Communicate How You Would Like To Be Communicated To

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Let’s say you interviewed for a job or you are collaborating with someone on a project. You meet, you hit it off, and you end the meeting with the other person saying they will get back to you by a certain period time. You say “Ok sounds great,” and you part.

Now you are waiting, and you hate waiting, but you understand that the other person is busy, so you continue to wait. After all the designated time in which they said they would communicate by hasn’t arrived yet. Matter of fact it’s only been one day. You know you need to chill out but you can’t help it because you are so flippin’ excited for the possibility of what could come.

Then it happens. The designated time passes and you hear nothing. Not a single word. But you don’t sweat it because, again, you know they are busy and things happen so you just keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting, until you’ve gone from excited, to worried, to annoyed, to pissed off, and finally you begin to wonder if maybe it was all in your head and the meeting wasn’t as great as you thought it was.

So you decided to shoot them an email or give them a call to “see how things are going”. But they either don’t respond or they respond with a vague reply that does nothing to alleviate your pain and you are so close to losing it that you express to everyone (even that poor barista) just how frustrated you are with the whole stupid situation. 
But then you calm yourself down and decide to give it a few days before contacting the person again in hopes of getting a more concrete answer. You ask yourself just how many times you can call/email a person before they really hate you? 
Finally, after who knows how many times, you get an answer that says “Oh yeah we filled that position some time ago” or “Yeah I got really busy so…” or “I found something better so I decided not to do it” (yes that is a legit response I was sent). You then proceed to smash whatever digital device you have in your hand into tiny microbial bits so that Sherlock could not even decipher what it used to be.
Here’s the thing: we’ve all been on both sides of this in which we’ve wished someone had communicated more or in which we probably could have done more communicating. Sometimes when we are on the side of the communicator we forget what it is like to be the person waiting to hear back.
Nobody can see what the other side is doing and even if we become busy and are just swamped, it doesn’t mean that the other person knows that. And even if they do know that, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop for a moment to acknowledge that they are waiting.
So if you say you we’re going to do something by a certain time and it’s not done, communicate that. If something is taking longer than you expect, communicate that. If the person reaches out to you and you realize that you have not been communicating: respond promptly, apologize, don’t make excuses, and assure them that you are working on it.
Even if things don’t work out in the end, you will have left a better taste in their mouth, knowing that you were open and honest in your communication with them.

Currently Reading: Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable

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When I began my new year I wanted to find a book to start off with, something that would get me going and help me to grow. I had gotten a couple of gift cards for Barnes and Noble so I started there. There were two books I got, the One Year Bible (one of my goals is to read it all the way through, so far so good) the other is Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton.

What initially drew me to the book was that I was stuck and I continually get stuck, and I needed to figure out why. It also doubled as a devotional AND it was 50% off, so how could I lose? Turns out I won big time.

You know a book is good when the intro messes you up and calls you out. I was reading it and was like Does this woman know me? How did she get in my head?

“If you ever found yourself avoiding what needs to get done in favor of something-anything-else, even other stuff you’ve been procrastinating on that now seems easier by comparison, then I bet you can relate.”

If that quote sounds like you then you know exactly how I feel. It was like a serious gut check. I ended up super highlighting this passage because it spoke so loudly. In this book Burton breaks down the different ways we can get stuck, in what areas of our life, and how we can overcome them.

She lists three reasons as to why we get stuck: Fear, Overwhelmed, and God’s will and your will don’t match. My reason? I get overwhelmed.

“The project that needs to get done feels so big you don’t even know where to get started–so you simply don’t start. you analyze it, talk about it, and even strategize. But for some reason, you don’t actually do it.”

Boom. That’s exactly it.

The great thing about this book is the realness of it. It has workbook areas where you can apply things learned in the chapter, short chapters so you don’t get bogged down with too much information at once, and scriptural references with prayers.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is stuck and not sure why. This is a great helpful tool and I am sure I will be reading it again and again.

The Easy Way Out

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I once had entered this submission contest where you had to submit a short video and the top five videos would be picked and you would receive a prize, which was to go on a really cool trip. Now when I first saw this contest I wasn’t so sure about. I had heard about it kind of late in the game, three days before it was due, and wasn’t sure if I would get it done in time. So I mulled it over and over and finally decided to submit a video.

Now I have to say the video I did put together was actually pretty awesome and definitely reflected my style and personality. As I submitted I thought “this is it” I thought that I was going to win and that this would start to turn things around for me. However I didn’t win, but what I did do was realize something about myself.

If you notice in the last paragraph I had written that I thought “that this would start to turn things around for me,”. That’s the part I learned about myself, that was revealed to me by my mentor, and that I really need to change.

You see my life up to this point hasn’t been what I wanted it to be. I seem to keep moving but I get nowhere fast. With this contest I was throwing my hopes and dreams at it and thinking that if only I were to win this than things would be better, my life would be better. Would it? Or would I just end up back where I was? And what if I didn’t win? Then what?

You see this is called taking the easy way out. It is throwing your hopes and dreams at one thing and expecting that one thing to turn your life around. But it is also coping out because if that one thing fails you can just say “well I guess it wasn’t meant to be” or put the fault onto the failure of that thing.

Examples of this could be: trying to find a publisher for your novel and not getting a hit, or pitching an idea to your boss or investors and it not taking, or going for a promotion or raise and not getting it, or saying you need a friend to do something with you (like going to the gym) and when you can’t find one you just don’t go. You get the idea, but these are taking the easy way out.
It’s saying “Oh well the door closed on that so there must not be another door,”. When it reality you could publish the book yourself, pitch the idea to someone else or fund it yourself, go for another promotion, and just go to the gym anyways.
We can’t just throw our dreams at a situation and call it quits when it doesn’t work out. When one avenue isn’t the right one, find a different avenue, even if that means creating your own. So then the questions become how much is your dream worth, what will it take, and are you willing to do it?
Like I said, this is something I need to do myself but the first step is just knowing the problem is there.