Friday, February 28, 2014

Who are you sneezing for?

I have been re-exploring Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus, the number 1 downloaded ebook in history. In the early part of this work Seth talks about sneezers, people more likely to spread your idea than others. 

Who is sneezing for you?

Seth says “Sneezers are at the core of any ideavirus. When they tell others, they are believed.”

Who is sneezing for you? And are they believed?

Seth also refers to connectors, mavens, and salespeople from Malcolm Gladwell’s great work The Tipping Point.

People who fullfil these roles are the great sneezers. 

Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing people together and are gifted at spreading the word. Mavens are people in the know and across the detail of things. Salespeople are the persuaders, influencers and inspirers.

Who is fulfilling these 3 roles for you?

And more importantly who are you fulfilling these roles for?

When we are fulfilling these roles for others without attachment to getting back, the law of reciprocity applies and we get back in extraordinary ways. Often we receive, not from the people we freely gave to, rather those in their circle of infuence.

Who are you sneezing for?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Get Smart - Immerse Yourself in Online Courses

Little Girl ReadingThere's been a huge growth in online learning in the last few years, fuelled by faster broadband, better Web technology, and ease of publishing. If you want to brush up your skills in your area of expertise - or want to learn something new - take an online course or two. This is especially relevant and useful if you're a teacher, speaker, trainer, coach, consultant or some other form of educator. Enrol in online courses yourself as a student, and you'll see the standard expected of you when it comes to providing online education.

Coursera is the best-known provider.

There are many universities, colleges, and independent organisations offering online education. Probably the best known is, which offers online education in the form of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). When you enrol in a Coursera course, don't be surprised to be one of thousands doing the course at the same time. You can interact with other students through discussion forums, marking their assignments, and even meeting up in person at a local cafe.

The Coursera material is presented by experienced lecturers, often associated with well-known academic institutions. You'll get videos, written material, assignments and other resources during the course. The courses run over a number of weeks, and you'll be expected to do 3-5 hours of work each week.

A better starting point is Open2Study.

That last point - the time commitment - is the biggest drawback to Coursera, especially if you're doing the course to experience the process rather than necessarily learning the content. So if you're just getting started with online courses, I recommend you start with Open2Study, which is backed by leading Australian and New Zealand academic institutions.

Over the last couple of months, I experimented by taking three online courses:

I chose them with particular goals in mind:

  1. The first was Financial Literacy, which was pretty basic stuff about budgeting, handling a credit card, good and bad debt, etc. I knew the content would be easy for me, so I could focus on the process - in other words, how they delivered the course.
  2. The second was Big Data for Better Performance, which was about the new buzzword "big data". I knew some of the content would be familiar, but it's also such a new topic that I knew I would have to concentrate more on the material. So I did this one to test both the process and the content.
  3. Finally, I did Food, Nutrition & Your Health, a topic I didn't know well and genuinely wanted to know better. So this one was definitely more about the content.

You've got to try this yourself!

I could share with you the lessons I learned from this experience, but that wouldn't be very useful. I would much rather encourage you to do one of these courses yourself, so you can immerse yourself in the learning experience. If you're thinking about providing your own online courses, I think you'll be surprised at some of the things that are already available (free of charge, no less!). I'm sure you will also see some things that you will do better in your own courses. Either way, it's well worth the effort.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The great stress reliever

This weeks sparkenation.

"Stress is caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there.'"
Eckhart Tolle

"The greatest definition for concentration I ever heard is, 'Wherever you are, be there!'"
Jim Rohn

Concentrate this week, one moment, one action, one situation at a time. I guarantee you will experience less negative stress and live a more productive life. And the people who encounter you will be glad that they did because you paid real attention to them.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"If you're in the room, be in the room."
Nigel Risner

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A key reason why employee engagement strategies are failing miserably and what to do about it

Only about 1 in 8 employees are engaged according to Gallup’s most recent study that involved people in 142 countries. Actively disengaged employees outnumber the engaged 2:1.

Why this catastrophic failure to engage employees?

A key reason in my view that it’s not just about your business.

According to Gallup engagement means “employees emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.”

This is something you want right?

I believe such engagement is an outcome of what you are doing for your employees.

The thing is your employees don’t care about the goals of your business as much as they care about their own goals.

How are you helping your employees to achieve what’s important for them?

What I see is that employers helping their employees achieve what’s important to them end up with employees helping you achieve what’s important to you.

What you should be focused on is helping your employees to feel valued, fulfilled, and loved. A consequence will be “employees emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.”

I define employee engagement as people bringing their best to their work every day. When people feel valued, fulfilled, and loved this is what they do.

Further insights to help you to take action.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Life is as much about creating yourself as it is about finding yourself

This weeks sparkenation.

Life is as much about creating yourself as it is about finding yourself.

Who are you creating and finding?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“This above all - to thine own self be true.”
Polonius: Hamlet, 1, iii by William Shakespeare

"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
Oscar Wilde

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Seven Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make With A Membership Site

Build Your Membership SiteFor experienced and established businesses, a paid membership site can be an obvious next step. In fact, over the last 18 months, I've noticed a renewed interest in clients wanting to create paid membership sites. But I've also noticed a number of common mistakes that people make when planning and building their membership site. If you can understand - and avoid - these mistakes, it greatly increases your chances of building a powerful asset for your business.

The most common questions I hear about membership sites are about tactics, such as what software to use, what payment system to use, how to integrate it with your main Web site, and so on. But the most common mistakes are about strategy, as you will see from this list.

1. Starting Too Soon

Membership sites are hot at the moment, but they take a lot of work to create, sell, and maintain. Before you decide to commit, be sure you have these three things in place:

  1. Value: A track record of providing real value (that people are willing to pay for) to customers and clients
  2. Resources: The ability to deliver ongoing products and services for your members
  3. Network: A database of potential customers, access to other experts, and enough staff to manage the site

2. Overestimating the Value

When you stack up the value of everything in your membership site, it's easy to convince yourself that it offers huge value. After all, you're offering 100 e-books, 3 webinars a month, and unlimited access to you for just $47 per month! And yes, that is good value compared to paying for everything separately. But nobody else is thinking that way. They are weighing up what else they could do with that money - and that's your real competition.

Even those who understand the value are wondering how they will put it into action. They already know they don't get full value from their gym membership or Foxtel subscription. Why should your membership site be any different? The fact is, it's not - unless you can give them a clear path to getting results.

3. Selling to Strangers

If you've ever tried to sell anything online, you'll know just how difficult it is to convince people to buy. It's not that people are scared to buy online anymore - it's that you just don't know how to market to strangers who stumble across your Web site. Now multiply that difficulty by 100 when you think about asking them to buy an ongoing subscription. "You want permission to charge my credit card every month for the rest of my life??? No way, Jose!"

If you're already really good at Internet marketing, this doesn't apply to you. But if you're not, the easiest way to solve this problem is not to target strangers in the first place. Offer your membership site to past clients, or bundled in with other offerings, or to everybody who buys your book, or whatever. It's far easier to sell it first to people who know, like and trust you.

4. Running On Empty

This leads to the next issue: It's difficult to run a membership site with only a few members. You only have a few people attending webinars, hardly anybody contributes to the forum, you never get any positive feedback, and so on. And, of course, you have to keep doing a lot of work in exchange for very little income.

The solution is to do whatever it takes to build the membership fast. Offer it at a discount to "foundation members", give it away to your 10 best clients, offer it free with every workshop, give 3 months' access to people who buy your book, ..., whatever. It's better to have some members, even if they aren't all full-paying members. These first members will participate in your webinars, road-test the site, give you feedback, and give the site momentum.

5. Expecting a Lot of Interaction

That said, don't expect your members to interact a lot on the site - especially with each other. If they do interact, that's a bonus, but don't expect it. It takes a lot of work to get people involved in an online community unless they are really passionate about it (and most of your members are not passionate about your community).

Rather than spending a lot of time trying to build interaction and participation, focus on giving them high-quality resources and access to you. That's probably why they joined anyway.

6. Underestimating the Administration

You can get membership site software to do most of the heavy lifting for you (taking money, creating usernames, resetting forgotten passwords, scheduling release of modules, etc.). But you might be surprised (and frustrated!) at just how much you still need to do. Members will ask about time zones for webinars, special payment terms, forgotten passwords, tech support problems outside your control, and so on. That's just human nature. They're not dumb; they're just busy.

The best solution is to just allow time to handle these administrivia. Eventually you'll be able to delegate this to somebody else, but it's a good idea to start by handling it yourself, so you get a good feel for what your members need.

7. Waiting Too Long!

Wait ...... Doesn't this contradict #1 above???

No! It's true that many people jump in too soon, but many wait too long as well. A membership site can be a very profitable - and enjoyable - part of your business. It provides steady cash flow, loyal clients, a growing asset, and a powerful way to keep in touch with your market's needs. So understand - and avoid - the mistakes I've described above. But if you're confident you can make a membership site work, don't wait forever!

Workshop: Build Your Membership Site In Two Days: Sydney, 7th and 8th April 2014

Build Your Membership SiteMembership sites have become hot Internet properties in the last few years, and can be a highly profitable source of recurring income for speakers, trainers and other infopreneurs. For an established and experienced business, a paid membership site can be the obvious next step. But you have to know what you're doing, so you can make the site operate smoothly and efficiently, while still providing ongoing value for your and your members.

Find Out More

Monday, February 10, 2014

Failure is fabulous

This weeks sparkenation.

I failed a few times this week. Happens every day actually.

Failure is fabulous because experiencing it helps us to be better.

Through failing, perhaps more than any other way, we discover our unique gifts/talents and how to better bring them to the world.

I never set out to fail. I set out to push my envelope and be on my edge. Failure is common in this space. In failure we find freedom to be, and success is usually just around the corner.

Celebrate your failings this week. Never be afraid to make mistakes.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.”
Roman Poet Horace who lived just before the time of Christ.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The meaning and purpose of life

This weeks sparkenation.

I was blessed to learn the joy of giving without attachment to getting back from my grandparents and my parents. When I discovered my gifts/talents and began to enhance them in a spirit of giving, gratitude, and generosity towards others, my life changed. And the great paradox, I continue to receive a 1000 fold on what I freely give.

You can see why I treasure this testimonial from my colleague and self-leadership expert Andrew Bryant:

“Ian is an expert in the development of people and organisations, moreover he is generous to a fault, giving exceptional value whether he is being paid or not.”

What are your gifts/talents?

How are you enhancing them?

How much are you giving of yourself to others without attachment to getting back?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.