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6 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing A Book

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You’re going to write a book. 40,000 words to go. Then the book goes to the editor, the typesetter, and the printer. Simple – right? Wrong.

Having worked with over 100 entrepreneurs on their books, I’ve found the writing and editing process rarely goes to plan. Content gets cut, reorganized and added. In four cases, I’ve even told clients to write new books.

After you’ve spent months waking up early, staying up late, squeezing your writing around family, friends and work; after you’ve said no to invitations, events and getaways; and after you’ve spent your hard-earned dollars on coaches and courses to help you put your knowledge on paper … you don’t want an editor telling you to start over.

So what can you do? Read on for the six mistakes entrepreneurs make when writing books and what you should do instead:

1. Choosing the wrong idea

You’re highly qualified in your field and have 15 years of experience but you’ve just started learning about a new area you’re really passionate about … and then your clients keep asking about something else entirely.

Most entrepreneurs choose an idea that only answers one of these areas. This is a recipe for disaster:

  • If you aren’t passionate about your idea, you’ll give up part way through.
  • If you aren’t knowledgeable about your idea, you’ll end up rambling and repeating yourself to bulk up your word count.
  • If you aren’t addressing your readers’ desires, no one will want to buy your book, and you’ll be left with a very expensive paperweight.

Instead, brainstorm until you find an idea that hits the sweet spot – the intersection between your knowledge, your passion and what your readers want.

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” – Herman Melville

2. Not choosing one type of book

Great books come in all shapes and sizes, and entrepreneurs usually write one of the following:

  • How-to books
  • Thought leadership books
  • Interview books
  • Memoirs

The problems start if you try to write a combination of all of them, which will result in a confused book with no clear purpose, or your editor cutting half of your content because it isn’t relevant. Instead, commit to one type of book before you start writing.

 

3. Failing to plan

Time and time again I see entrepreneurs getting stuck on their first drafts. Why? Because they have an idea for a book, then sit down in front of a blank Word document and rely on inspiration to provide the content.

Instead, plan your book!

  • Start with your book’s central idea – in one sentence, what’s your book about?
  • Brainstorm – get a blank piece of paper and write down your central idea. What other ideas does this sentence spur? Write down everything you can think of that’s related to your central idea.
  • Organize your brainstorming – review your scribbling and see if there are any common themes that come up. These ideas will become the main sections or chapters of your book.
  • Plan your chapters – brainstorm, organize and expand your ideas for each chapter. What do you need to cover to discuss the topic in detail?

 

4. Thinking they have a plan (when they don’t)

How can you think you have a plan when you don’t? They follow the first three steps of the planning process and then start writing. They have a central idea and five key areas they want to discuss. They’ve even organized these areas in a five-step process. Is that a plan? Not even close.

The purpose of a good plan is to guide every word you write. With a good plan you never need to worry about writer’s block, because you never have to come up with new ideas – they’re all laid out in front of you. You also never need to worry about the writing process stopping and starting, and taking months on end because, once again, everything you need to write is laid out in front of you.

A good plan takes the effort out of writing, because you’ve already done all the research, brainstorming and organization. Then all you need to do is expand your bullet points into full sentences.

Instead of relying on your chapter titles for inspiration, create a plan so detailed your book writes itself.

 

5. Including everything they’ve ever written

You’ve been in business for a few years now, and you have a slew of marketing content up your sleeve – brochures, flyers, blog posts, articles, interviews, case studies and more. Writing a book should be easy, right?

While using existing content is a great way to boost your word count, a big issue we see is clients who have copied and pasted entire blog posts or articles into their book when they don’t actually fit. And if it doesn’t fit, it often gets cut.

Instead, ask yourself:

  • Is the content directly related to your central idea?
  • Does your reader really need to know this?

It’s only when you can answer both questions with a ‘yes’ that the content should go into your book.

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.” – Isaac Asimov

6. Not making time to write

I get it – you’re an entrepreneur and you spend all your waking hours doing client work, answering enquiries, completing quotes, catching up on admin, and more. You’re lucky enough to spend time with your family, let alone write a book! The truth is, you’re always going to be busy, and those who wait to find the time never get started.

Instead, you need to make the time to write. Get started with these tips:

  • Carry a notepad/phone with you at all times for when inspiration strikes.
  • Set a daily writing target, and don’t go to bed until you’ve written your words!
  • Remember this is a short-term challenge. You only need to make the time for the next four to six weeks, and then you’ll be ready to send your book to your editor!

 

Which mistake are you having the most trouble with when writing your book? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Jacqui Pretty is the Founder Grammar Factory, a writing and editing company that helps entrepreneurs write books that boost their businesses, as well as the author of Book Blueprint: How any entrepreneur can write an awesome book. She and her team have worked with over 100 authors and their clients have become Amazon bestsellers, gotten featured on national television, landed paid speaking engagements and doubled their revenue. In short, she has witnessed first-hand the power of publishing to transform a business.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Elaine Slatter

    May 7, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Great advice, Jacqui. I wrote a “how to” book for women who want to become entrepreneurs. I wrote every day and found that it became a daily “must do” before anything else. The more you write, the more you want to tell your story, so then you write more. Before you know it you are finished. The extra research on chapter topics took more time than I expected, but it was important to get it right.

  2. Michael

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Awesome advice Jacqui I wrote my first book and it was a total flop.I am in the process of writing a second book and this article will help me a lot to get this one right.

  3. Charlene Rhinehart

    Dec 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for writing this article, Jacqui! I’m writing my first book and I’m guilty of falling into the entrepreneur trap you mentioned. I’m inspired to set daily goals amd commit until it’s done. Thanks!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Thanks Charlene, and good luck with your book!

  4. Ann_B

    Dec 21, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    ‘Repeating too much information from a previous successful publication’ can also make a point in the list. People want the next book to include new advice!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      That’s a great point, Ann. While referring to other publications and research can be a great way to add content and build your credibility, you do need to have an original take on the information to add value. Thanks for raising that!

  5. Tim Denning

    Dec 20, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Jacqui thanks for writing this article. I am writing a book right now and these tips are very useful. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks Tim – I’m glad you found it useful and best of luck with your book!

  6. Ethan Bridges

    Dec 17, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Hi Jacqui,

    I can’t answer your question yet, as the idea of writing a book only teases my mind for now.

    These are great tips. I see how specificity can nail it. Thank you!

  7. Ernie Ayon

    Dec 17, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Thanks! Awesome advice that couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m in the process of writing my first book and have learned a ton in these past few months. It’s quite the undertaking but luckily there are a lot of good resources to get started. The points you list here are great advice.

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 17, 2015 at 6:18 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Ernie. Best of luck with your book!

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Success Advice

How Writing For 1000 Days Straight Made Me A Real Man

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Writing was never my thing. I didn’t think of it as an art although in school I was told I was good at it. I never believed this compliment ever.

For more than 1000 days straight I’ve written consistently. While on holiday in San Fran, New Zealand and Japan I wrote. Waiting at the doctor’s office, I wrote. In line at the local vegetarian burger joint, I wrote. The things I’ve learned from writing have changed me from a spoilt little kid, into a real man.

Writing for 1000 days straight taught me:

 

Writing is my therapy.

My mentor Joel got a bit annoyed at me one day because he saw a few swear words in a blog post I published. I quickly realized what I’d done and then it came to me: I was swearing because it was how I released my frustration.

“Instead of seeing the Instagram culture and wanting to mass murder people like they do in America, writing was the channel I used as my therapy”

By writing about the things that upset me, I somehow felt less compelled to be angry at the world.

 

I found that my problems could be a source of inspiration for others.

You may not believe me but now I actually look forward to having problems.

Problems are what give me the fuel I need to write. Every problem becomes a solution for all of the readers that sit down and absorb my writing. Writing can inspire others and that’s what has helped me become a real man.

A real man, I believe, does things for more than just himself.

 

It taught me to stop chopping and changing.

I used to be a kid and would always throw in the towel when my passion or hobby got hard. Instead of pushing through the pain I’d just start something new. Writing made me a man by helping me realize that mastery and sticking at it is the real magic trick.

 

Happiness can be found in the strangest of places.

My dad was a writer and I always thought it was dumb. I never thought I’d ever do it myself. Doing something for more than 1000 days straight teaches you that you can find happiness in places you’d least expect. Try new things, find something that feels cool and stick at it.

 

It doesn’t have to be a book or blog.

Some days when I’m busy, I count my writing as inspiring emails to fans that can help them. Other days it’s replying to comments that people leave on my social media. We can fall into the trap of believing that writing only happens when it’s in the form of a book or blog post.

Let yourself off the hook. Write whenever you can and stop being so hard on yourself. Writing is writing chief.

 

Energy will determine the outcome.

I used the following to get more energy:
– On writing days I would sleep more the night before
– I didn’t drink alcohol on days where I planned to write a lot
– I drank mushroom coffee (recommended by Tim Ferriss) for a quick fix
– I ate energy-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and the odd avocado for brain power

“If you’re a sleepy zombie then you’ll never be able to find the energy to keep pushing through all of the hurdles you’re going to encounter with writing or any pursuit for that matter”

 

The power of a deadline.

Here’s an awesome little hack I used. I’m the biggest procrastinator you’ll ever meet. If I have all day to write, then I’ll spend the last hour before dinner writing if I’m lucky. What I did instead was book in social catch-ups, trips to the cinema’s, outings with the girlfriend and anything I could that involved other people.

This gave me a perceived sense of urgency and a deadline I couldn’t miss. What’s funny is the tighter the deadline, the more productive I became. Here’s what’s even crazier:

The blog posts I’ve written, that had the tightest deadline and the least amount of time to write them, have been my most popular.

Over thinking kills creativity and so does having too much time to fluff around. These deadlines have allowed me to produce lots of writing that have contributed to me becoming a real man.

 

Writing has uncovered raw emotion in me.

Raw emotion has changed the game for me. As I got past the 10-day mark, I stopped giving a F more and more. This brought out raw emotion in me that couldn’t be faked like an Instagram filter. It’s this raw emotion that got me more readers and allowed me to make a bigger difference in the world.

There’s something about someone who makes the bold decision to wear their heart on their sleeve. Writing heaps forces you to think deeper and to dig deeper every time you sit down at the computer.

Writing for more than 1000 days became like a game to see how much I could learn about myself. The words began to paint a picture of me that I had never seen or even dreamt of.

“These words that became pictures redefined who I was”

I used these pictures to become a new man and one I could be proud of. I want you to discover raw emotion for yourself. I want you to paint beautiful pictures with words that come from deep inside of you.

 

Just get started.

There were days when I couldn’t be bothered writing. I found that once I got started, the words would pour out of me. It was as if the words were dying to get out of me some days. Instead of giving yourself excuses, don’t try and have every day be the day you produce your best work.

Some of the blog posts I’ve written I thought were barely okay. These same posts have been highly shareable more than my so-called serious stuff. 1000 days of writing teaches you to disconnect yourself from the outcome and focus on the practice itself. Discipline has made me a real man.

 

You must like the topic.

I tried writing about stuff that people told me too. I found myself hating the process every time. Have a list of suggested topics that you’ve come up with and then write about the one that makes you feel good at the time.

 

Make it up as you go.

I invent words all the time like self-disrupt, fakepreneur and too many other ridiculous ones to mention here. I break grammar rules to suit myself and to make my writing easy on the eye. What will separate you from everyone else is when you decide to make up the rules.

It’s easier to be different than it is to be a better writer, or saxophone player or artist. A rule forces you to conform to everyone else’s expectations. What made me a real man was discovering the power of my own creativity and not listening to all the hype out there.

There’s a lot of noise and people that will tell you they have the secret chicken sauce. They’re selling lies to you to benefit their own selfish goals.

Be you and make up the rest as you go.

 

Reading fuels your creative brain.

I get asked all the time “Tim, where do you get all these writing ideas from?”

I wish I could tell you that I was some idea factory that could mass-produce amazing writing pieces. The truth is I’m not that smart. In conjunction with writing, I’ve also been reading like a KFC junkie addicted to hot sauce.

Books have opened up my world to what’s possible. Books have helped me see things in my life that I had previously ignored.

“Books sold me a truth that I couldn’t get from the Internet or TV”

Every word you read get’s stored in your computer brain and can be recalled later on without you probably even realizing. Reading has taught me the lessons that have made me a man and a blogger.

 

Authenticity and transparency, plus brutal honesty, is where it’s at.

In the beginning, I was a bit of a pussy. I hid parts of myself and didn’t tell the full story. In the first 10 days, I tried to be brutal. By the 1000th day, I had enough practice and had seen the audience react enough, that I showed everything in my stories. No detail was left out.

People read my stuff because they know it’s authentic and real. I’m brutally honest and not afraid to make fun of myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I too have once been a self-obsessed, immature, coward too. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.

This brutal honesty helps you be honest with yourself too. Through these honest moments, you learn a lot about who you are and who you can become. I think real honesty helped me become a real man. A man I can be proud of.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

3 Practical Ways Successful People Attract Money

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successful men

It takes more than just hard work, grinding and strategies to become successful. Do you actually know what subtle changes to make in order to reach the level of success and financial wealth you desire?

In our constantly changing world, those who are getting ahead in the game are individuals who are learning to raise their standards both personally and professionally. The age of the Internet has certainly brought a new dawn for the average person dialing up that inner craving for more freedom and a higher quality of life.

The opportunities and technological advancements are here, but one thing seems to be lagging: Our ability to produce and maintain the money we actually need to enjoy all that is currently available.

Everywhere you turn there is a new, sleeker, more advanced version of your favorite gizmo. Whether it’s your dream phone, car, computer, or designer clothes, they keep getting better and who doesn’t enjoy having the best of the best?

However, how can we have the best of the best when increasing income continues to be a struggle? As traditional methods of working and doing business radically transform, certain confusion arises especially amongst entrepreneurs.

This is why a recent conversation with my friend and owner of Walletisland, Adrian Brown, challenged me to reassess how I am approaching some of the things we tend to consider unimportant in the entrepreneurial space. I realised there are simple everyday shifts that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs which could be the key to increasing success and income.

For the majority of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs, the backstory is pretty much the same. We all grew up in less than abundant conditions. Our approach is for the most part pretty old fashioned when it comes to personal grooming and our relationship with money. But if there’s one thing I have come to realize when it comes to producing extraordinary results, it is this: Success and attracting money is all about mindset and the attitude one carries.

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.” – Peter Diamandis

This is a law based truth I am proving more and more as I interact, connect with and learn from other successful entrepreneurs. In my most recent mastermind with a like-minded individuals, we were able to uncover a few blind spots that continue to hinder many hard working entrepreneurs.

More specifically, we came to a consensus when it comes to attracting more wealth that most individuals hit these three blind spots which hopefully after today, you will no longer fall victim to.

  • Too many success seekers are neglecting their personal appearance and self-grooming. As entrepreneurs, we think only our skillsets should matter, but that’s never the case.
  • Most people are neglecting their everyday personal interaction with money. In other words, aside from the big general numbers they have to deal with in business, most men aren’t deliberately working on improving how they handle, carry and interact with money. Part of this might be old negative paradigms around money running the show.
  • Many business owners are struggling with unattractiveness and low confidence, which certainly hinders their ability to shine, stand out and magnetize success.

If any or all of these resonate, here’s what you can do about it today:

1. Polish your self-image and outer appearance

This doesn’t have to take up too much time. With a little more deliberate thought on the shoes you wear, the wallet you carry, the combination of your clothing, hair, body language and attitude you will not only raise your professional appearance but there is much research proving your earnings will increase too.  Keep it clean, simple, clutter free and corresponding to your business role.

2. Prep yourself for a “money shift”

Is there a psychological relationship between a someones’s wallet and their money? Absolutely. In fact when Adrian got into men’s fashion it was because he experienced firsthand “the money shift”. This happened when he stopped carrying around cheap, worn-out wallets and started carefully choosing the kind that made him feel most opulent.

I’m passionate about helping men strengthen their connection and interaction with money because I realize it’s not about fashion trends. A man’s wallet is something he interacts with daily. It should be a symbol of prosperity and help him de-clutter. It should also be a demonstration of his modern take on money because in our digital society, money is transforming and it’s in our best interest to catch up lest we suffer the consequences of holding on to limiting beliefs around money.”

I couldn’t agree more. Most of us will need to shed limiting beliefs, heal money wounds and learn to handle, carry and interact with money in ways that promote its presence. What money story is your wallet telling right now?

3. Work on your self-confidence and attractiveness

Those struggling with low self-confidence and feelings of unattractiveness need to make drastic changes. Why? According to research by Payscale, over the course of a lifetime, an “attractive person will end up making about 230,000 more than an unattractive person.”

That’s ridiculous especially since being attractive and confident isn’t just for the chosen few. Now that you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford to be bullied by invisible limiting beliefs that question how capable, attractive and confident you are.

If it naturally doesn’t come to you, there are various exercises you can do and small changes you can make in order to build yourself up and make up for any disadvantages you may have had in your upbringing.

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama

As entrepreneurs, we are inclined to focus more on strategies and tactics which will help us close the sale sometimes at the expense of our personal health and grooming. Let us refrain from assuming appearances do not count just because we are no longer climbing the corporate ladder.

If the vision is to enjoy a more opulent and enriching lifestyle, take time to align every aspect of your life with this new self-made, inspiring, influential leader you are aspiring to be. All successful people go into the game prepared for that win.

What personal changes will you make to prepare you for more wealth?

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Success Advice

5 Ways to Improve Your Audience Engagement

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audience engagement

When you first thought of your business idea and created your business, you were probably thinking about how much people needed what you had to offer and all of the people you were going to be able to help. Even though none of that has changed, it can be really discouraging to continue to post on social media, do Facebook lives, and try to make any kind of a call to action when all there is are crickets when you do.

Instead of banging your head against the wall, and trying to figure out what is wrong with your idea, let me give you 5 ways to improve your audience engagement:

1. Increase the amount of content you are putting out

Sometimes, the main reason why you are not seeing the engagement you are looking for is because people are not seeing your posts. Each social media platform has its own algorithm.

Even if you posted once or even twice that day, some of those algorithms can still make it possible for your people NOT to see even one of your posts. Posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement.

2. Ask the right questions

Remember when I said that posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement? The reason it should but may not increase your engagement is because you are not asking enough of the right questions.

You can post content that you like or are interested in, but you have to remember YOU are not the one buying your products and services. You need to learn what your target audience wants to see and talk about. Learn what gets them engaged and what keeps them engaged by asking the right questions.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.” Bono

3. Switch it up a little

Have you ever had a routine that was so dry and bland it made you dread doing it? That is exactly what your audience feels like when you post the same kind of content all the time. Everyone doesn’t like meatloaf every day. No matter what you are selling, your audience craves interesting, informative, and encouraging content. If you can give this to them consistently, they will fall in love with you and keep on coming back for more.

4. Analyze your data

When you increase the content you put out, you will have a lot more data to analyze so you can understand the people who you are trying to reach. This will help you to understand which kind of content is consumed more by your audience, what platform has better engagement, and what your audience is trying to tell you they want and need.

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”- Tim Berners-Lee

5. Calls to action are key

The last thing you want to do is to give your audience some amazing content and not have a place for them to go to learn or get more. Inviting yourself somewhere can be very awkward, so why would you want your audience to do that? They may want to connect with you but they don’t know where to go and how to connect. Invite them in and make them feel wanted and welcomed. This will cut out the awkwardness and also the confusion of how they can better connect with you.

Increasing your engagement can be done easily if you are willing to follow these 5 ways to improve your audience engagement. Once you have done that, the engagement will come and the sales are bound to follow.

How are you staying connected to your audience? Make sure to comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

A Tim Ferriss Like Japan Trip Rebuilt Me – Here’s Why

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“Art imitates life so you must experience life to create art” – Unknown (possibly Tim Ferriss)

This quote is the reason why I recently took a holiday to Japan and why from now on I will travel more. All of us have a dream, a vision, a goal, a business which is another word for our own “art.”

Anything worth doing has an element of creativity attached to it which in essence is art. While on the way to Japan listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, I heard this quote above. I realized that my life’s work had fizzled out somewhat because I needed to experience life more.

This whole blogging thing only works when I experience life – travel is the best way to do that. Second to that, I have been listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast for years, and he talks a lot about Japan and how the culture can really positively impact your life.

Hearing this advice second hand just wasn’t good enough for me. That’s why, in Timmy style, I booked an unplanned trip to Japan with only two days notice. It was what I called a Tim Ferriss like trip to Japan. I wanted to transcend my current circumstances and boy did I do that!

Things before Japan had become a bit stale. I wasn’t quite me and I needed rebuilding again. It was time to self-disrupt and grow more as a person. I’d stopped growing and that’s why I felt off. Japan changed all of that.

Here’s how this Japan trip rebuilt me:

 

We’re all the same: we’re all loved.

Sitting at the airport in Australia I saw everyone saying goodbye to their loved ones. I did the same and said goodbye to my family and girlfriend. I sat there for around ten minutes and realized that we’re all loved by someone.

We all have someone who would be sad or miss us if we didn’t return home. All of us want to come home safe and see our loved ones again. While tragedy can strike, these trips to places like Japan are a must – they’re part of our journey in life.

These journeys we take are how we find ourselves. Without travel, we become lost and can’t understand how we fit into this world.

Knowing I’m loved and knowing the importance of these journeys helped rebuild me.

 

Japan can show you what is wrong too.

So far I’ve made Japan sound like it’s all roses – it’s not. I saw people working ridiculous hours. I saw Japanese people who had become obsessed with meaningless westernized brands. I saw women who still appeared to be second class compared with men.

Japan didn’t show me perfection; it showed me reality and that means that there are always going to be things that need to change. Each of us can form part of that change.

 

Objectification of women has changed men in a bad way.

For some reason, Japan gave me immense clarity. I noticed that me (and all other men) have become hardwired to look at women’s bodies. Even the nicest most loyal men who treat women well have been affected. I noticed this unconscious behavior in myself while in Australia and began questioning it.

Do we need to look at women in such a physical way? Is it really necessary? Is this addiction taking up so much of our creative genius and potential?

The answer to all of these questions, after Japan, was that a problem exists and this addiction is not serving as well. I’m not proud of this fact and I for one plan on not only being aware of it but also changing it. This idea helped rebuild me.

 

The Samurai showed the benefits of discipline.

While being an Aussie tourist walking through the grounds of the Imperial Palace, I saw some of the emperors Samurai training. The facility was surrounded by fences but being a tall guy, I could still see over the fence.

I found these Samurai to be cool because they were laser-focused on what they were doing. The Samurai had purpose and precision accuracy. Their discipline taught them patience and you could see the courage in their actions. Everything was thought through and nothing was left to chance.

The Samurai helped me rebuild my life by reminding me of what discipline can do when we embrace it. A disorganized mind combined with actions that are all over the place results in a lot of nothingness. Start with being a master at one thing instead of trying to be mediocre at lots of things.

 

Concrete Jungle vs. Nature

Before Japan, I was obsessed with visiting places like San Fran and New York to see big concrete cities and skyscrapers. Now that I’ve been to Japan I’ve realized that I’m completely bored of that. Going to My Fuji and some of the mountains in Kyoto is far more impactful.

Concrete jungles are all the same once you’ve seen a few. They all have lots of box’s – some tall, some wide, some full of lights and some full of views. When you see enough of these, you no longer become impressed by them.

Nature is impossible to top though. No matter how many lakes, mountains, beaches or forests I visit, I never get sick of them. That’s because it’s in our human DNA to feel a connection with nature. Nature is a place we can relax and recharge the batteries.

Japan taught me that for the rest of my travel adventures I am going to focus on beautiful places that encompass nature instead of man-made structures and fake tourist attractions like theme parks. Knowing what nature means to me has helped me to rebuild myself.

 

See as many places as you can.

This trip to Japan made me see that I get bored after around five days in one country. I’ve discovered that it’s ideal to see as many places as you can. The more of this Earth you experience, the more your life changes.

 

Don’t forget attention to detail.

Japanese people, I learned, are obsessed with attention to detail. Everything from the signage at train stations to the way they present food has been thought of.

“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being purposeful”

It’s the little things that the Japanese people do that make you fall in love with them by the end of your stay in their country.

 

Manners feel good.

I quickly saw that Japanese people are very kind and have amazing manners. They say thank you so many times. As you walk out of a restaurant, the whole team say thank you like a giant choir. Being grateful and acknowledging each other is at the heart of their culture.

You can’t help but smile when you witness this way of treating one another. Not every stranger you meet in a foreign country is trying to commit a terrorist attack.

All I can say is manners just feel good and it put’s you in a positive mood. Plus, you walk around with a big fat smile on your face and that feels refreshing.

 

Connection through transport.

Japanese culture feels very connected and that’s partly to do with their very efficient transport system. There’s a subway station on practically every corner that’s affordable. Trains run every few minutes, so there’s never any need to run to the subway station to catch a train.

The bullet trains allow you to skip between states or regions in a very short amount of time. No need to board a plane or go through the razzle-dazzle of airport bureaucracy gone mad (thanks to perceived terrorism and the news).

While sitting on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, I saw families that were on their way to visit one another. They looked so relaxed and sat there enjoying the countryside of Japan as I did. It was a regular occurrence made possible by a fantastic transport system that is orderly and well thought out.

 

Technology is exhausting.

The negative side of technology is prominent in Japan. There are cities that are littered with giant LED screens, bright lights and technology on every corner. In these places, I felt unable to think clearly and the bright lights made me feel like I suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder.

There was technology within the toilet seat, on the plane, at restaurants and ugly vending machines selling fat causing sugar water on every corner.

On the flip side, what I loved about Japan was that talking loudly on a not so smart phone was prohibited in most places and there were locations where phones were non-existent. Japanese people seem to know how to balance life between being “ON” and being “OFF” when it comes to their phone.

“Instead of wasting your life away on your phone, Japan teaches you to become present and appreciate the here and now”

You notice things that you normally wouldn’t where I’m from in the Western World. With so much empty space, Japan is a great place to rebuild yourself. The rebuilding process needs thinking time away from phones.

 

Minimalism and being space conscious is beautiful.

The Japanese people are obsessed with being space conscious. They have double-decker car spaces, cube-shaped cars, cars made for people who must be three-foot tall, hotel rooms where you can barely open the door and space-saving retail shops like you’ve never seen.

 

Time is money in Japan.

My plane was on time to the second. Every train was on time. The tour guide at Mt Fuji was on time. The hotel cleaning was to the minute and so was the checkout. Time is money and it’s one resource we should take more seriously. Time gives you the opportunity to rebuild and grow.

 

Low energy states can be healed by travel.

More than a year since my last break, my energy levels in my career were at an all-time low. I had headaches every day and felt uninspired to a degree. It turns out all I needed was a holiday to rebuild.

Your body guides you.
Your heart guides you.
Your mind guides you.

This Japan trip taught me to take time to relax and recharge. Don’t ignore your body ever!

 

Climbing Japanese mountains is a metaphor for life.

I climbed this mountain in Kyoto. Halfway up I wanted to quit. I thought to myself “I’ve seen enough. Why go to the summit?”

That’s the problem right there. When we’re working on our goals, we give up too soon. We settle for okay instead of amazing. If this mountain were your life, would you give up when it got a bit hard? I’m telling you not to.

All the growth and everything you ever wanted comes from pushing that extra 2% to reach the top of the mountain. The feeling at the top is indescribable. Only those who are prepared to go the extra mile will know what it feels like to look down from the top.

Two more things to remember:

1. Once you reach the top, there’s always another mountain.

2. You must also help someone else climb the mountain to reach your full potential. Living is giving.

This mountain I climbed in Japan taught me so much about rebuilding my life (and yes I love mountain analogies).

 

There’s no place like a hot spring to contemplate life and rebuild your life.

While lying in a hot spring (Onsen) in Northern Tokyo, I sat there and thought I was going to be enjoying a relaxing time in a hot spring. What no one told me is that my entire life would replay before me. The onsen became a place to contemplate everything that had transpired thus far.

The hot water from the springs has a certain effect on your mind. I often find that my best thinking and ideas come from a shower and I’ve heard other people talk about this same experience.

“The hot spring sent my mind into deep thinking that I’ll never forget”

 

To enter a Japanese hot spring, you must be fully naked. You can’t bring clothes, material possessions, technology or a corporate mask. There’s nowhere to hide and no phone to look at. You sit there naked and bare your soul. It’s the one time where people can see you for exactly who you are.

Before contemplating my own life, I observed the men around me. Many of them seemed to be contemplating their life. Some looked tired and worn out from years of slaving away and doing hard labor.

Many of them looked like they were wasting away from years of working too hard and not remembering what truly matters. It was as if they had finally discovered what matters but that it was now too late. Then I saw the exact opposite – young men who had their whole lives ahead of them.

They too would sit there and weigh up their options. Should they follow their dream or fall for the Western myth that is collecting useless objects of little value? There were times where I wanted to answer this question for them.

I realized after a lot of thought that these young men had to come to that realization themselves. When you discover these truths of life yourself, everything changes and the principles stick.

I saw these young men by the end of my time in the hot spring for who they were and what they could become (their potential). I finally understood that they too could change the world in some impactful way if they chose too. We all have that choice and it’s ours to make.

“This stark comparison between the older men and the younger men was one of the most profound lessons of my Japan trip”

Both generations of men also looked up at the sky while doing this deep thinking. I found that quite bizarre and all of them did it.

What’s strange is that I also looked up at the sky without consciously being aware. Once I’d finished observing the men in the hot spring, I turned my thinking over to my own life. I had truth bomb after truth bomb as I sat there. I found myself running to the change room every 30 minutes to write stuff down.

What I had achieved so far and what I needed to do next became so clear. I sat in the hot spring proud of who I’ve become. For the first time in my life, I got to sit there and appreciate everything I’d put out into the world. I hadn’t stopped to see how far I’d come before this moment.

I was so focused on the present and trying to gain future success that I didn’t even know how proud I could be of myself. This fact has become the foundation of me going through the rebuilding phase yet again after five years since my last major self-renovation.

 

In summary….

Everyone reading this blog post has the opportunity to rebuild their life and consistently self-disrupt themselves. Going to places like Japan gives you the opportunity to experience life and see how far you’ve come. You can’t be ON 24/7 like those picture quotes tell you to be.

Once in a while, you need to be proud of who you are and think about who you can become.

Japan is a perfect place to do this and rebuild your life. Stay true to yourself and inspire others.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Change Your Life Forever With These 30 Strategies

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There are strategies which bring together all happy and successful people who can also use them to improve the quality of your life. Usually when you want to change your life, you don’t know where to start and you risk losing the motivation because you don’t know the best strategies to apply. To change your life forever you have to change yourself. If you want to achieve extraordinary results, you must become an extraordinary person. (more…)

Danilo Maruca is a mental coach and personal growth expert. It accompanies people in achieving their goals by teaching them how to overcome anxiety and fears, give the best of themselves and get results quickly with mental training. He also manages the website www.drittoallameta.it.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Elaine Slatter

    May 7, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Great advice, Jacqui. I wrote a “how to” book for women who want to become entrepreneurs. I wrote every day and found that it became a daily “must do” before anything else. The more you write, the more you want to tell your story, so then you write more. Before you know it you are finished. The extra research on chapter topics took more time than I expected, but it was important to get it right.

  2. Michael

    Jan 4, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Awesome advice Jacqui I wrote my first book and it was a total flop.I am in the process of writing a second book and this article will help me a lot to get this one right.

  3. Charlene Rhinehart

    Dec 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for writing this article, Jacqui! I’m writing my first book and I’m guilty of falling into the entrepreneur trap you mentioned. I’m inspired to set daily goals amd commit until it’s done. Thanks!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Thanks Charlene, and good luck with your book!

  4. Ann_B

    Dec 21, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    ‘Repeating too much information from a previous successful publication’ can also make a point in the list. People want the next book to include new advice!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      That’s a great point, Ann. While referring to other publications and research can be a great way to add content and build your credibility, you do need to have an original take on the information to add value. Thanks for raising that!

  5. Tim Denning

    Dec 20, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Jacqui thanks for writing this article. I am writing a book right now and these tips are very useful. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 22, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks Tim – I’m glad you found it useful and best of luck with your book!

  6. Ethan Bridges

    Dec 17, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Hi Jacqui,

    I can’t answer your question yet, as the idea of writing a book only teases my mind for now.

    These are great tips. I see how specificity can nail it. Thank you!

  7. Ernie Ayon

    Dec 17, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Thanks! Awesome advice that couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m in the process of writing my first book and have learned a ton in these past few months. It’s quite the undertaking but luckily there are a lot of good resources to get started. The points you list here are great advice.

    • Jacqui Pretty

      Dec 17, 2015 at 6:18 am

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Ernie. Best of luck with your book!

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Success Advice

How Writing For 1000 Days Straight Made Me A Real Man

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Writing was never my thing. I didn’t think of it as an art although in school I was told I was good at it. I never believed this compliment ever.

For more than 1000 days straight I’ve written consistently. While on holiday in San Fran, New Zealand and Japan I wrote. Waiting at the doctor’s office, I wrote. In line at the local vegetarian burger joint, I wrote. The things I’ve learned from writing have changed me from a spoilt little kid, into a real man.

Writing for 1000 days straight taught me:

 

Writing is my therapy.

My mentor Joel got a bit annoyed at me one day because he saw a few swear words in a blog post I published. I quickly realized what I’d done and then it came to me: I was swearing because it was how I released my frustration.

“Instead of seeing the Instagram culture and wanting to mass murder people like they do in America, writing was the channel I used as my therapy”

By writing about the things that upset me, I somehow felt less compelled to be angry at the world.

 

I found that my problems could be a source of inspiration for others.

You may not believe me but now I actually look forward to having problems.

Problems are what give me the fuel I need to write. Every problem becomes a solution for all of the readers that sit down and absorb my writing. Writing can inspire others and that’s what has helped me become a real man.

A real man, I believe, does things for more than just himself.

 

It taught me to stop chopping and changing.

I used to be a kid and would always throw in the towel when my passion or hobby got hard. Instead of pushing through the pain I’d just start something new. Writing made me a man by helping me realize that mastery and sticking at it is the real magic trick.

 

Happiness can be found in the strangest of places.

My dad was a writer and I always thought it was dumb. I never thought I’d ever do it myself. Doing something for more than 1000 days straight teaches you that you can find happiness in places you’d least expect. Try new things, find something that feels cool and stick at it.

 

It doesn’t have to be a book or blog.

Some days when I’m busy, I count my writing as inspiring emails to fans that can help them. Other days it’s replying to comments that people leave on my social media. We can fall into the trap of believing that writing only happens when it’s in the form of a book or blog post.

Let yourself off the hook. Write whenever you can and stop being so hard on yourself. Writing is writing chief.

 

Energy will determine the outcome.

I used the following to get more energy:
– On writing days I would sleep more the night before
– I didn’t drink alcohol on days where I planned to write a lot
– I drank mushroom coffee (recommended by Tim Ferriss) for a quick fix
– I ate energy-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and the odd avocado for brain power

“If you’re a sleepy zombie then you’ll never be able to find the energy to keep pushing through all of the hurdles you’re going to encounter with writing or any pursuit for that matter”

 

The power of a deadline.

Here’s an awesome little hack I used. I’m the biggest procrastinator you’ll ever meet. If I have all day to write, then I’ll spend the last hour before dinner writing if I’m lucky. What I did instead was book in social catch-ups, trips to the cinema’s, outings with the girlfriend and anything I could that involved other people.

This gave me a perceived sense of urgency and a deadline I couldn’t miss. What’s funny is the tighter the deadline, the more productive I became. Here’s what’s even crazier:

The blog posts I’ve written, that had the tightest deadline and the least amount of time to write them, have been my most popular.

Over thinking kills creativity and so does having too much time to fluff around. These deadlines have allowed me to produce lots of writing that have contributed to me becoming a real man.

 

Writing has uncovered raw emotion in me.

Raw emotion has changed the game for me. As I got past the 10-day mark, I stopped giving a F more and more. This brought out raw emotion in me that couldn’t be faked like an Instagram filter. It’s this raw emotion that got me more readers and allowed me to make a bigger difference in the world.

There’s something about someone who makes the bold decision to wear their heart on their sleeve. Writing heaps forces you to think deeper and to dig deeper every time you sit down at the computer.

Writing for more than 1000 days became like a game to see how much I could learn about myself. The words began to paint a picture of me that I had never seen or even dreamt of.

“These words that became pictures redefined who I was”

I used these pictures to become a new man and one I could be proud of. I want you to discover raw emotion for yourself. I want you to paint beautiful pictures with words that come from deep inside of you.

 

Just get started.

There were days when I couldn’t be bothered writing. I found that once I got started, the words would pour out of me. It was as if the words were dying to get out of me some days. Instead of giving yourself excuses, don’t try and have every day be the day you produce your best work.

Some of the blog posts I’ve written I thought were barely okay. These same posts have been highly shareable more than my so-called serious stuff. 1000 days of writing teaches you to disconnect yourself from the outcome and focus on the practice itself. Discipline has made me a real man.

 

You must like the topic.

I tried writing about stuff that people told me too. I found myself hating the process every time. Have a list of suggested topics that you’ve come up with and then write about the one that makes you feel good at the time.

 

Make it up as you go.

I invent words all the time like self-disrupt, fakepreneur and too many other ridiculous ones to mention here. I break grammar rules to suit myself and to make my writing easy on the eye. What will separate you from everyone else is when you decide to make up the rules.

It’s easier to be different than it is to be a better writer, or saxophone player or artist. A rule forces you to conform to everyone else’s expectations. What made me a real man was discovering the power of my own creativity and not listening to all the hype out there.

There’s a lot of noise and people that will tell you they have the secret chicken sauce. They’re selling lies to you to benefit their own selfish goals.

Be you and make up the rest as you go.

 

Reading fuels your creative brain.

I get asked all the time “Tim, where do you get all these writing ideas from?”

I wish I could tell you that I was some idea factory that could mass-produce amazing writing pieces. The truth is I’m not that smart. In conjunction with writing, I’ve also been reading like a KFC junkie addicted to hot sauce.

Books have opened up my world to what’s possible. Books have helped me see things in my life that I had previously ignored.

“Books sold me a truth that I couldn’t get from the Internet or TV”

Every word you read get’s stored in your computer brain and can be recalled later on without you probably even realizing. Reading has taught me the lessons that have made me a man and a blogger.

 

Authenticity and transparency, plus brutal honesty, is where it’s at.

In the beginning, I was a bit of a pussy. I hid parts of myself and didn’t tell the full story. In the first 10 days, I tried to be brutal. By the 1000th day, I had enough practice and had seen the audience react enough, that I showed everything in my stories. No detail was left out.

People read my stuff because they know it’s authentic and real. I’m brutally honest and not afraid to make fun of myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I too have once been a self-obsessed, immature, coward too. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.

This brutal honesty helps you be honest with yourself too. Through these honest moments, you learn a lot about who you are and who you can become. I think real honesty helped me become a real man. A man I can be proud of.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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3 Practical Ways Successful People Attract Money

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It takes more than just hard work, grinding and strategies to become successful. Do you actually know what subtle changes to make in order to reach the level of success and financial wealth you desire?

In our constantly changing world, those who are getting ahead in the game are individuals who are learning to raise their standards both personally and professionally. The age of the Internet has certainly brought a new dawn for the average person dialing up that inner craving for more freedom and a higher quality of life.

The opportunities and technological advancements are here, but one thing seems to be lagging: Our ability to produce and maintain the money we actually need to enjoy all that is currently available.

Everywhere you turn there is a new, sleeker, more advanced version of your favorite gizmo. Whether it’s your dream phone, car, computer, or designer clothes, they keep getting better and who doesn’t enjoy having the best of the best?

However, how can we have the best of the best when increasing income continues to be a struggle? As traditional methods of working and doing business radically transform, certain confusion arises especially amongst entrepreneurs.

This is why a recent conversation with my friend and owner of Walletisland, Adrian Brown, challenged me to reassess how I am approaching some of the things we tend to consider unimportant in the entrepreneurial space. I realised there are simple everyday shifts that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs which could be the key to increasing success and income.

For the majority of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs, the backstory is pretty much the same. We all grew up in less than abundant conditions. Our approach is for the most part pretty old fashioned when it comes to personal grooming and our relationship with money. But if there’s one thing I have come to realize when it comes to producing extraordinary results, it is this: Success and attracting money is all about mindset and the attitude one carries.

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.” – Peter Diamandis

This is a law based truth I am proving more and more as I interact, connect with and learn from other successful entrepreneurs. In my most recent mastermind with a like-minded individuals, we were able to uncover a few blind spots that continue to hinder many hard working entrepreneurs.

More specifically, we came to a consensus when it comes to attracting more wealth that most individuals hit these three blind spots which hopefully after today, you will no longer fall victim to.

  • Too many success seekers are neglecting their personal appearance and self-grooming. As entrepreneurs, we think only our skillsets should matter, but that’s never the case.
  • Most people are neglecting their everyday personal interaction with money. In other words, aside from the big general numbers they have to deal with in business, most men aren’t deliberately working on improving how they handle, carry and interact with money. Part of this might be old negative paradigms around money running the show.
  • Many business owners are struggling with unattractiveness and low confidence, which certainly hinders their ability to shine, stand out and magnetize success.

If any or all of these resonate, here’s what you can do about it today:

1. Polish your self-image and outer appearance

This doesn’t have to take up too much time. With a little more deliberate thought on the shoes you wear, the wallet you carry, the combination of your clothing, hair, body language and attitude you will not only raise your professional appearance but there is much research proving your earnings will increase too.  Keep it clean, simple, clutter free and corresponding to your business role.

2. Prep yourself for a “money shift”

Is there a psychological relationship between a someones’s wallet and their money? Absolutely. In fact when Adrian got into men’s fashion it was because he experienced firsthand “the money shift”. This happened when he stopped carrying around cheap, worn-out wallets and started carefully choosing the kind that made him feel most opulent.

I’m passionate about helping men strengthen their connection and interaction with money because I realize it’s not about fashion trends. A man’s wallet is something he interacts with daily. It should be a symbol of prosperity and help him de-clutter. It should also be a demonstration of his modern take on money because in our digital society, money is transforming and it’s in our best interest to catch up lest we suffer the consequences of holding on to limiting beliefs around money.”

I couldn’t agree more. Most of us will need to shed limiting beliefs, heal money wounds and learn to handle, carry and interact with money in ways that promote its presence. What money story is your wallet telling right now?

3. Work on your self-confidence and attractiveness

Those struggling with low self-confidence and feelings of unattractiveness need to make drastic changes. Why? According to research by Payscale, over the course of a lifetime, an “attractive person will end up making about 230,000 more than an unattractive person.”

That’s ridiculous especially since being attractive and confident isn’t just for the chosen few. Now that you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford to be bullied by invisible limiting beliefs that question how capable, attractive and confident you are.

If it naturally doesn’t come to you, there are various exercises you can do and small changes you can make in order to build yourself up and make up for any disadvantages you may have had in your upbringing.

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama

As entrepreneurs, we are inclined to focus more on strategies and tactics which will help us close the sale sometimes at the expense of our personal health and grooming. Let us refrain from assuming appearances do not count just because we are no longer climbing the corporate ladder.

If the vision is to enjoy a more opulent and enriching lifestyle, take time to align every aspect of your life with this new self-made, inspiring, influential leader you are aspiring to be. All successful people go into the game prepared for that win.

What personal changes will you make to prepare you for more wealth?

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Success Advice

5 Ways to Improve Your Audience Engagement

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When you first thought of your business idea and created your business, you were probably thinking about how much people needed what you had to offer and all of the people you were going to be able to help. Even though none of that has changed, it can be really discouraging to continue to post on social media, do Facebook lives, and try to make any kind of a call to action when all there is are crickets when you do.

Instead of banging your head against the wall, and trying to figure out what is wrong with your idea, let me give you 5 ways to improve your audience engagement:

1. Increase the amount of content you are putting out

Sometimes, the main reason why you are not seeing the engagement you are looking for is because people are not seeing your posts. Each social media platform has its own algorithm.

Even if you posted once or even twice that day, some of those algorithms can still make it possible for your people NOT to see even one of your posts. Posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement.

2. Ask the right questions

Remember when I said that posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement? The reason it should but may not increase your engagement is because you are not asking enough of the right questions.

You can post content that you like or are interested in, but you have to remember YOU are not the one buying your products and services. You need to learn what your target audience wants to see and talk about. Learn what gets them engaged and what keeps them engaged by asking the right questions.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.” Bono

3. Switch it up a little

Have you ever had a routine that was so dry and bland it made you dread doing it? That is exactly what your audience feels like when you post the same kind of content all the time. Everyone doesn’t like meatloaf every day. No matter what you are selling, your audience craves interesting, informative, and encouraging content. If you can give this to them consistently, they will fall in love with you and keep on coming back for more.

4. Analyze your data

When you increase the content you put out, you will have a lot more data to analyze so you can understand the people who you are trying to reach. This will help you to understand which kind of content is consumed more by your audience, what platform has better engagement, and what your audience is trying to tell you they want and need.

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”- Tim Berners-Lee

5. Calls to action are key

The last thing you want to do is to give your audience some amazing content and not have a place for them to go to learn or get more. Inviting yourself somewhere can be very awkward, so why would you want your audience to do that? They may want to connect with you but they don’t know where to go and how to connect. Invite them in and make them feel wanted and welcomed. This will cut out the awkwardness and also the confusion of how they can better connect with you.

Increasing your engagement can be done easily if you are willing to follow these 5 ways to improve your audience engagement. Once you have done that, the engagement will come and the sales are bound to follow.

How are you staying connected to your audience? Make sure to comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

A Tim Ferriss Like Japan Trip Rebuilt Me – Here’s Why

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“Art imitates life so you must experience life to create art” – Unknown (possibly Tim Ferriss)

This quote is the reason why I recently took a holiday to Japan and why from now on I will travel more. All of us have a dream, a vision, a goal, a business which is another word for our own “art.”

Anything worth doing has an element of creativity attached to it which in essence is art. While on the way to Japan listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, I heard this quote above. I realized that my life’s work had fizzled out somewhat because I needed to experience life more.

This whole blogging thing only works when I experience life – travel is the best way to do that. Second to that, I have been listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast for years, and he talks a lot about Japan and how the culture can really positively impact your life.

Hearing this advice second hand just wasn’t good enough for me. That’s why, in Timmy style, I booked an unplanned trip to Japan with only two days notice. It was what I called a Tim Ferriss like trip to Japan. I wanted to transcend my current circumstances and boy did I do that!

Things before Japan had become a bit stale. I wasn’t quite me and I needed rebuilding again. It was time to self-disrupt and grow more as a person. I’d stopped growing and that’s why I felt off. Japan changed all of that.

Here’s how this Japan trip rebuilt me:

 

We’re all the same: we’re all loved.

Sitting at the airport in Australia I saw everyone saying goodbye to their loved ones. I did the same and said goodbye to my family and girlfriend. I sat there for around ten minutes and realized that we’re all loved by someone.

We all have someone who would be sad or miss us if we didn’t return home. All of us want to come home safe and see our loved ones again. While tragedy can strike, these trips to places like Japan are a must – they’re part of our journey in life.

These journeys we take are how we find ourselves. Without travel, we become lost and can’t understand how we fit into this world.

Knowing I’m loved and knowing the importance of these journeys helped rebuild me.

 

Japan can show you what is wrong too.

So far I’ve made Japan sound like it’s all roses – it’s not. I saw people working ridiculous hours. I saw Japanese people who had become obsessed with meaningless westernized brands. I saw women who still appeared to be second class compared with men.

Japan didn’t show me perfection; it showed me reality and that means that there are always going to be things that need to change. Each of us can form part of that change.

 

Objectification of women has changed men in a bad way.

For some reason, Japan gave me immense clarity. I noticed that me (and all other men) have become hardwired to look at women’s bodies. Even the nicest most loyal men who treat women well have been affected. I noticed this unconscious behavior in myself while in Australia and began questioning it.

Do we need to look at women in such a physical way? Is it really necessary? Is this addiction taking up so much of our creative genius and potential?

The answer to all of these questions, after Japan, was that a problem exists and this addiction is not serving as well. I’m not proud of this fact and I for one plan on not only being aware of it but also changing it. This idea helped rebuild me.

 

The Samurai showed the benefits of discipline.

While being an Aussie tourist walking through the grounds of the Imperial Palace, I saw some of the emperors Samurai training. The facility was surrounded by fences but being a tall guy, I could still see over the fence.

I found these Samurai to be cool because they were laser-focused on what they were doing. The Samurai had purpose and precision accuracy. Their discipline taught them patience and you could see the courage in their actions. Everything was thought through and nothing was left to chance.

The Samurai helped me rebuild my life by reminding me of what discipline can do when we embrace it. A disorganized mind combined with actions that are all over the place results in a lot of nothingness. Start with being a master at one thing instead of trying to be mediocre at lots of things.

 

Concrete Jungle vs. Nature

Before Japan, I was obsessed with visiting places like San Fran and New York to see big concrete cities and skyscrapers. Now that I’ve been to Japan I’ve realized that I’m completely bored of that. Going to My Fuji and some of the mountains in Kyoto is far more impactful.

Concrete jungles are all the same once you’ve seen a few. They all have lots of box’s – some tall, some wide, some full of lights and some full of views. When you see enough of these, you no longer become impressed by them.

Nature is impossible to top though. No matter how many lakes, mountains, beaches or forests I visit, I never get sick of them. That’s because it’s in our human DNA to feel a connection with nature. Nature is a place we can relax and recharge the batteries.

Japan taught me that for the rest of my travel adventures I am going to focus on beautiful places that encompass nature instead of man-made structures and fake tourist attractions like theme parks. Knowing what nature means to me has helped me to rebuild myself.

 

See as many places as you can.

This trip to Japan made me see that I get bored after around five days in one country. I’ve discovered that it’s ideal to see as many places as you can. The more of this Earth you experience, the more your life changes.

 

Don’t forget attention to detail.

Japanese people, I learned, are obsessed with attention to detail. Everything from the signage at train stations to the way they present food has been thought of.

“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being purposeful”

It’s the little things that the Japanese people do that make you fall in love with them by the end of your stay in their country.

 

Manners feel good.

I quickly saw that Japanese people are very kind and have amazing manners. They say thank you so many times. As you walk out of a restaurant, the whole team say thank you like a giant choir. Being grateful and acknowledging each other is at the heart of their culture.

You can’t help but smile when you witness this way of treating one another. Not every stranger you meet in a foreign country is trying to commit a terrorist attack.

All I can say is manners just feel good and it put’s you in a positive mood. Plus, you walk around with a big fat smile on your face and that feels refreshing.

 

Connection through transport.

Japanese culture feels very connected and that’s partly to do with their very efficient transport system. There’s a subway station on practically every corner that’s affordable. Trains run every few minutes, so there’s never any need to run to the subway station to catch a train.

The bullet trains allow you to skip between states or regions in a very short amount of time. No need to board a plane or go through the razzle-dazzle of airport bureaucracy gone mad (thanks to perceived terrorism and the news).

While sitting on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, I saw families that were on their way to visit one another. They looked so relaxed and sat there enjoying the countryside of Japan as I did. It was a regular occurrence made possible by a fantastic transport system that is orderly and well thought out.

 

Technology is exhausting.

The negative side of technology is prominent in Japan. There are cities that are littered with giant LED screens, bright lights and technology on every corner. In these places, I felt unable to think clearly and the bright lights made me feel like I suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder.

There was technology within the toilet seat, on the plane, at restaurants and ugly vending machines selling fat causing sugar water on every corner.

On the flip side, what I loved about Japan was that talking loudly on a not so smart phone was prohibited in most places and there were locations where phones were non-existent. Japanese people seem to know how to balance life between being “ON” and being “OFF” when it comes to their phone.

“Instead of wasting your life away on your phone, Japan teaches you to become present and appreciate the here and now”

You notice things that you normally wouldn’t where I’m from in the Western World. With so much empty space, Japan is a great place to rebuild yourself. The rebuilding process needs thinking time away from phones.

 

Minimalism and being space conscious is beautiful.

The Japanese people are obsessed with being space conscious. They have double-decker car spaces, cube-shaped cars, cars made for people who must be three-foot tall, hotel rooms where you can barely open the door and space-saving retail shops like you’ve never seen.

 

Time is money in Japan.

My plane was on time to the second. Every train was on time. The tour guide at Mt Fuji was on time. The hotel cleaning was to the minute and so was the checkout. Time is money and it’s one resource we should take more seriously. Time gives you the opportunity to rebuild and grow.

 

Low energy states can be healed by travel.

More than a year since my last break, my energy levels in my career were at an all-time low. I had headaches every day and felt uninspired to a degree. It turns out all I needed was a holiday to rebuild.

Your body guides you.
Your heart guides you.
Your mind guides you.

This Japan trip taught me to take time to relax and recharge. Don’t ignore your body ever!

 

Climbing Japanese mountains is a metaphor for life.

I climbed this mountain in Kyoto. Halfway up I wanted to quit. I thought to myself “I’ve seen enough. Why go to the summit?”

That’s the problem right there. When we’re working on our goals, we give up too soon. We settle for okay instead of amazing. If this mountain were your life, would you give up when it got a bit hard? I’m telling you not to.

All the growth and everything you ever wanted comes from pushing that extra 2% to reach the top of the mountain. The feeling at the top is indescribable. Only those who are prepared to go the extra mile will know what it feels like to look down from the top.

Two more things to remember:

1. Once you reach the top, there’s always another mountain.

2. You must also help someone else climb the mountain to reach your full potential. Living is giving.

This mountain I climbed in Japan taught me so much about rebuilding my life (and yes I love mountain analogies).

 

There’s no place like a hot spring to contemplate life and rebuild your life.

While lying in a hot spring (Onsen) in Northern Tokyo, I sat there and thought I was going to be enjoying a relaxing time in a hot spring. What no one told me is that my entire life would replay before me. The onsen became a place to contemplate everything that had transpired thus far.

The hot water from the springs has a certain effect on your mind. I often find that my best thinking and ideas come from a shower and I’ve heard other people talk about this same experience.

“The hot spring sent my mind into deep thinking that I’ll never forget”

 

To enter a Japanese hot spring, you must be fully naked. You can’t bring clothes, material possessions, technology or a corporate mask. There’s nowhere to hide and no phone to look at. You sit there naked and bare your soul. It’s the one time where people can see you for exactly who you are.

Before contemplating my own life, I observed the men around me. Many of them seemed to be contemplating their life. Some looked tired and worn out from years of slaving away and doing hard labor.

Many of them looked like they were wasting away from years of working too hard and not remembering what truly matters. It was as if they had finally discovered what matters but that it was now too late. Then I saw the exact opposite – young men who had their whole lives ahead of them.

They too would sit there and weigh up their options. Should they follow their dream or fall for the Western myth that is collecting useless objects of little value? There were times where I wanted to answer this question for them.

I realized after a lot of thought that these young men had to come to that realization themselves. When you discover these truths of life yourself, everything changes and the principles stick.

I saw these young men by the end of my time in the hot spring for who they were and what they could become (their potential). I finally understood that they too could change the world in some impactful way if they chose too. We all have that choice and it’s ours to make.

“This stark comparison between the older men and the younger men was one of the most profound lessons of my Japan trip”

Both generations of men also looked up at the sky while doing this deep thinking. I found that quite bizarre and all of them did it.

What’s strange is that I also looked up at the sky without consciously being aware. Once I’d finished observing the men in the hot spring, I turned my thinking over to my own life. I had truth bomb after truth bomb as I sat there. I found myself running to the change room every 30 minutes to write stuff down.

What I had achieved so far and what I needed to do next became so clear. I sat in the hot spring proud of who I’ve become. For the first time in my life, I got to sit there and appreciate everything I’d put out into the world. I hadn’t stopped to see how far I’d come before this moment.

I was so focused on the present and trying to gain future success that I didn’t even know how proud I could be of myself. This fact has become the foundation of me going through the rebuilding phase yet again after five years since my last major self-renovation.

 

In summary….

Everyone reading this blog post has the opportunity to rebuild their life and consistently self-disrupt themselves. Going to places like Japan gives you the opportunity to experience life and see how far you’ve come. You can’t be ON 24/7 like those picture quotes tell you to be.

Once in a while, you need to be proud of who you are and think about who you can become.

Japan is a perfect place to do this and rebuild your life. Stay true to yourself and inspire others.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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