Archive for November, 2010

Fantastically Poorly-Written Sentence

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Found this sentence in the resume of a guy who works for a company who thinks they compete against As Was. I think this sentence is fantastic in how bizarre it is. It's almost like someone challenged him to pack the most buzzwords into one sentence.

We lead our market share by offering business consulting and proven recommendations to new & existing business owners looking to address the eBay / eCommerce opportunity effectively.

I can only compare this to a Dilbert cartoon where one of the characters says something like, "Let's qualitize our paradigm so we don't overinundate with datums."


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I’m Thankful For…

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

It's Thanksgiving. I'd like to take a moment to give thanks.

First, thanks to my nuclear (biological) family: Grandma Lee, Uncle Jay, and Aunt Linda. You don't read my blog, but I love you guys. :)

Thanks to my "adopted" family: Terry and Mark, Linda N., and Eli and Margery.

Thanks to my closest, bestest friends on the planet: Mike, Katie, Jeff, Ana, Bryan, Joe, Seth, Mickey the Cat, and Eve the Cat. They evidently don't read my blog either. Special thanks to Bryan for embarking on another secret project with me. :)

Thanks to two who are no longer on this plane of existence, but are with me all the time: Rita the dog and Grandpa Abe.

Thanks to all of my Facebook friends. I only friend people who I trust and am friends with. Facebook is a personal world for me, and thanks to everybody there for being wonderful. I greatly appreciate the support!

Thanks to the great clients I love working with. Thanks to my AMAZING staff, who make our clients super happy.

Thanks to all my blog readers, lurkers, and non-spam commenters… even if you disagreed with me.

Thanks to the companies who think they compete with me for making me look even better, in comparison. :)

Thanks to La Botana in Tucson for being the most delicious place to eat.

Thanks to The Eco Chic Boutique for having amazing products.

My life is amazing, and it's like it's just starting again.


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Signs Your Relationship Isn’t What You Think It Is

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

So yes, I realise I need to break my relationship blog posts into a new blog. Working on that. For now, they're here since people seem to like them. :)

I read another great blog post over at Baggage Reclaim. She's looking at 12 boundaries to live by. I read them, and thought about how they are also great ways to assess a relationship you may already be in. Here are my takes on some of her points.

Her first point is that nobody should date someone who is married, in a relationship, or newly separated. I've mentioned before that I've been on all sides of this one, and ya know what? It's never good. It never works. I started dating someone just before I left my husband in 2002. That means that new boyfriend was dating me while I was married AND newly separated. And he was pining over an ex-girlfriend. We were both emotionally unavailable, but didn't realise it. Yes, I'm glad he was the catalyst for me getting out of that bad marriage that was never going to be the right marriage, but we were doomed for so many reasons. My main tip: don't date the emotionally unavailable no matter what their relationship status is.

Her second point was that nobody should wait for someone to become the person you think they should be. I hear that SO MUCH from my married friends… things like, "Well, he'd be right if he were this and this, and like this." Or, "I'd want to stay with her if she did this, and felt this way about this, and treated me this way." Well, heads up: they're not that person. Why are you waiting for someone to be someone they're not? Would you want someone else waiting and holding out expectations about you magically becoming someone you're not? When my friends read me the list of what they want their husband or wife to be, I tell them to just leave them. Don't expect someone to twist into a pretzel to become what you want. That's not who they are at their core. Evidently, who they truly are is someone you don't really want. So just go!

Her third point is about not being in a relationship where you're not treated with love, trust, and respect. I know from past relationships that once you feel the love has died, or once the trust is broken, there is NEVER any going back. NEVER. You can smooth it over, you can play nice, you can get counselling, you can "try," but you will second guess each other forever. Like when will he break trust again, or when will she make me feel unloved again.

I have a friend who kissed another woman, and eventually admitted it to his wife. He is now on the shortest leash known to man, and even though it's years later and he hasn't done anything like it again, she doesn't totally trust him. I do NOT suggest staying in relationships where love once felt dead or trust has been broken. I've never seen or heard of any of those 100% truly being fixed.

Her fourth point is about not dating someone who mostly talks glowingly about the future. How good a relationship is is how good it is today. Right now. Not when his dreamy future scenarios happen, if they happen. You can't stick around waiting for what might come down the road. You only have this moment, and when you look at him or her, what does your heart say RIGHT NOW? Greatest love of your life? Most amazing guy who treats you like freaking gold? Beautiful woman who is everything you ever wanted?

Her fifth point is about dating someone who wants to control things, or wants the relationship on his terms. Like the guy with the list you have to match up to… whether or not that list is actually written down. The "right" relationship will be right. Nobody else will have a to-do list for you. Nobody else will need you to change. There is a right person for you who won't need you to change for him, or live up to his list of needs.

Her eighth point is about not dating someone who lies to you or distorts the truth. That seems obvious, yet so many of us stick around with people who have lied to us in big ways. I know I have! And it doesn't make sense to stick around once you KNOW about the lies. I deserve better. I deserve someone who can be completely honest with me. That will make me feel respected, and it will match the complete honesty I give him.

Her ninth point is about not pursuing someone who has rejected you. I think this is still my Achilles Heel. I call it "campaigning," where someone pulls away from you (or rejects you), and you ramp up your fantasticness in ways you know he would want… more sex, more sex his way, more cooking, more cleaning, more whatever it is. Why are we doing that? Why try to keep around someone who has made it clear that he doesn't want us or that he wanted someone else? I wouldn't even want a guy who's dating me, but fantasising about other women since that would make me think he's not present with me and fully wanting ME. The right person will choose you and only you, and I'm getting better at disconnecting from the guys who are not choosing me.

Her tenth point is about not playing nurse to "the walking wounded," including people with substance problems. Another Achilles Heel for me. As a "rescuer" type of personality, I tend to attract the "victim," who wants my help. My last serious boyfriend was an alcoholic and addict, who asked for my help what felt like daily. When I gave him the help he asked for, I was an enabler. When I told him I didn't cause his problems and don't have the power to fix them, I enabled the "not getting his fix" side. Whether the addiction is food, sex, alcohol, drugs, or something else, we can't help these people. We just can't, and we need to stop losing ourselves in a dizzying maze of trying to help them with their own psychological issues.

Besides, the right guy for me is on the same page as I am, and I'm not a current, former, or future addict.

Her blog posts are excellent, and I suggest that everybody read the Baggage Reclaim blog. While it's written towards women dating crappy men, the advice is absolutely helpful for any gender dating any gender.


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Picking On People Is Harmless Fun, Right?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

I know people who are nasty. I'd say they are bullies. I've seen them pick on people. I've seen them find something someone is sensitive about, and focus on it. Or share someone else's secret. And in many cases, these people laughed while they did this. Often, they're looking around to find approval and see if others will laugh with them.

So thing one, never laugh with them. Thing 2, call them on that crap.

I've been watching some of the videos from the It Gets Better Project, where LGBT people talk about the bullying they experienced growing up. The thing that amazes me is how many of those people look visibly upset telling their stories. These are people who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s… they haven't been bullied at school in DECADES… and they are STILL hurting from the memories of it.

I was bullied in school, but not for being gay (mostly because I'm not gay :) ). I was bullied usually for being the smart "know it all" kid, and sometimes for being the artsy-fartsy weirdo. My mother put me down frequently (mostly for being the artsy fartsy weirdo), and my father was as good as absent. I felt like I had nowhere to turn. I fantastised about suicide often. I was sure it was the only was to solve my problems.

I never tried to kill myself, and I think that was only because I had a close friend who tried to kill herself when we were teens. That hurt so much, and she never really told me why she did it. So, I focused on going to college in another state, and starting my life over when I got there… which I did. Somehow, I had my head on straight enough to NOT turn to drugs, promiscuity, or other self-destructive behaviours.

And if you are or have a teenager in a world of pain, you can start your life over too. Go to college out of state. Parents, get your bullied kids to liberal colleges out of state. That's my advice!

Words can hurt. Words can ruin someone's life. Think before putting someone down. If you hear your child belittle another kid, put a stop to it. Teach them that's not acceptable. The people who hurt me were someone's children, and somewhere, they learned that this is how you talk to someone… or this is how you feel better about yourself.

The cycle has to stop. Picking on people is NEVER harmless fun… not for the recipient of the comments, and not for the true intentions of the speaker.


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Are Pay-Per-Bid Sites A Scam?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

There seems to be a flock of new "auction" or "reverse auction" sites out there. Many people wonder if these are scams. We've all seen ads for $56 iPads and $72 week-long vacations that people won at these new auction sites. Let's use OffAndAway.com as an example since I recently stumbled on it, and let's also compare these to eBay since many of us know what eBay is, and how to use it.

For OffAndAway (OAA to save typing), you have to BUY bids. On eBay, bidding is free. OAA charges $1 per bid.

OOA doesn't let you bid a maximum amount like on eBay. Every bid on OAA raises the price by a fixed amount, which is 10 cents. That means when the winning price of the item goes up $1, OAA collected $10 in bids from various people. On OAA, something that ends at $400 started at nothing, and went up 10 cents at a time.

eBay auctions have firm ending times. OAA auctions are extended 20 seconds every time someone bids. If someone bids with 1 second left, there is now 21 seconds on the countdown clock. This makes auctions go on for HOURS past their originally-stated end time.

For both styles of auction, you can lose by a very small amount. It can be frustrating! If only you got in one more bid! :)

So are pay-per-bid sites like OAA a scam? Not if you completely understand what you're getting into. OAA is more like a raffle or casino game. You might buy raffle tickets, you might put money in a slot machine, and you might never win. Same for OAA. You might put in a zillion bids at $1 each, and you might still lose. You might bid on eBay and not win, but at least that cost you nothing.

When playing with pay-per-bid sites, remember to count what you're spending on bids in your budget. If you won something for $100 but spent $100 in bids, that was a $200 item. So be a smart shopper!

I do find the business model interesting. Let's say that a hotel is willing to give away a few-night stay, and let's say they make a deal to sell it to OAA for $500. OAA lets everybody bid and fight. Many of these hotel packages are ending around $300. At $1 per bid, that's $3,000 OAA collected from bidders who played the game. That easily gives the hotel the $500 they want for the stay, OAA pockets a pile of money, and the winner is thrilled to pay $300 for a hotel stay that might be worth $1000.

I think we will continue seeing more of these sites, but the funny thing is that I think they only really "work" for buyers while the sites are new. Once prices are being bid up to market rates, or once people get tired of the 20-second extension and the price per bid, then the site will drop off. Plus, who would tell friends about this? They don't want to bid against friends! I think this is why we see so many of these come and then go. I wonder if anybody will ever create such a site that really finds its sweet spot.


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MLM: A Psychological Study

Friday, November 19th, 2010

 

A few months ago, a client came to me wanting to tell me about a great business opportunity that was just going to make me so much money. He was sure it would make me $20,000 per month. Well, sure, I'd like that. I emailed him asking him to tell me more. He started sending me to websites that had videos. All the videos were REALLY long, and revolved mostly around three things:

  1. You're not spending enough time with your kids. You're not getting the things you really want… that vacation, those nice things, some time on a yacht. This is to prime your desire, and get you motivated to jump on what they offer as the solution to fill that desire.
  2. Questions and statements that challenged me to be "good enough" to be part of this.
  3. How I get paid for levels and levels of people. If you know MLM, you know the more people you bring in, and especially when you bring in people who sell the product, you get cuts of it. Whatever! 

But let's back up and look at #2. I think I have now watched close to an HOUR of videos this guy's MLM company has produced to try to get people into this idea. Here are some great phrases from the most recent video he sent me:

  • "This is not for everyone. Some people can't really grasp the idea of freedom… of owning their own time." Puts you on the defensive. Of course you understand freedom and the value of your time! You wish everyone else did! You are fired up.
  • "[Some people can't really grasp the idea of] being free from the stresses and frustrations of ordinary people." Well, you are special. You do NOT want to be lumped in with ordinary people! You are extraordinary! No, she is NOT talking about you! Fired up.
  • "Other people simply aren't willing to take action, to take responsibility, and to take steps to get what they say they really want." Hey, don't say that about me! I take action. I follow through. I work REALLY hard! I WILL take steps to get what I want! Fired up.
  • "You are here because you're ready for a change. You're sick and tired of wanting and not getting." This is the "we understand you are different and better" part. Yes, I'm ready for a change… I want so much I'm not getting. This is the "we feel your pain" part to make you feel connected to what they are about to say.
  • And let's not forget the images in the videos and on the web pages… the yachts, the vacations and landscapes, the nice cars, the huge houses, the happy families. Those are all chosen very deliberately to make you think you can have this because other people have it, and you deserve to have it too! Well, you DO deserve to have it, but the road to that is not through this MLM system.

I had over a dozen emails with this client plus a phone call because I couldn't tell what this business was. What am I selling? What is this product that is so amazing that I'm going to make all this money? He kept telling me that the product was the business opportunity. That doesn't make total sense to me. I am an entrepreneur, and I live in a world where a product or service has to be for sale.

I finally had to talk to the top of the pyramid, who explained to me that it was a travel concierge service. That's what is for sale. In this economy? Really? When we're all booking with Kayak and Orbitz, you think there is a lot of people who would pay $$$$ for a travel concierge service? I thought the people with that much spare money already HAD one… it's called a travel agent.

I ran an informal poll of my Facebook friends. None of them would buy it. That's what I thought. And don't forget you're going to pay monthly to be part of this pyramid. But I noticed that both my client and the top cheese made me feel like there was something wrong with me for not seeing what an amazing opportunity this was. They told me they had NO problem signing many people up every day for this, and they were raking in money like mad. Everybody involved in it was raking in money, and I seem like I'd be smart enough to get this, but I'm just going to miss out. That was the message.

They just contacted me again to show me their next product. It was hard to figure out what this product was, but it seems to be some sort of training kit (like CDs, books, I'm not totally sure) that was going to teach you to run an online business. You would learn things like time management, information mining, running online ads, etc… So their target audience is that really smart person with sharp business skills… who needs this course?

The bottom line is this. Some MLM systems have nice products that people like, and the focus is not as much on the pyramid. I have bought Arbonne products and liked them. I never felt like I had to or wanted to join the pyramid. Many MLM systems play on fears… fears about money, not giving your family enough love, not giving your family enough PERIOD, not having those nice things other people have right now.

The video I just watched had MINUTES about how the economy is so much better than people say. After all, drive by a shopping centre! Cars are parked there! People are walking out with bags. They are spending money. Cruise lines are building new ships because people are spending money on "luxuries" like vacations. This is just more stuff to make you feel like you are not giving your family enough. You just may not have money to spend like everybody else. You'd better fix that, and these people have that fix.

Do not listen to the fear-based crap. Do not fall for all the information that will make you feel like the loser in the wolf pack. Or like you aren't keeping up with the Joneses. When you hear a video challenge if you are really "able" to grasp this, or are you really ready to make things happen for yourself, or something like that, know that they are playing with you. This is a game, and the guys at the top are typically the only winners.

It's a mind game, period. These video scripts and LONG web pages are specifically written to play into your fears and desires. Don't fall for it. No matter what the "opportunity" looks like. Don't fall for it. It's a gamble. Most gambles are NOT worth it.

Let's just think for ourselves for a moment. I know many people who try and use these MLM systems. I know some who are involved in a few at a time. If they are THAT lucrative, wouldn't you need to only do one? And wouldn't you need to do very little work because it's just going to make money for you, once you get it going? How many of us know people using MLM systems? And how many of us know those people to be RICH? Totally financially independent? With all that free time to hop from vacation to vacation, just like the video said? I know zero of these people. How many do you know?


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I Don’t Jump For Money

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Earlier this year, I went to an AT&T Store to learn about the iPad, when it was first coming out. I didn't really want one, but I was curious. I'm on Sprint, and very happy with them. The AT&T people tried very aggressively to get me to switch to them. At one point, very confidently, they told me they would give me $75 RIGHT NOW if I switched. The drool told me that this must work all the time.

I looked at them, and told them I don't jump for $75. If you want me to be disloyal to a service I'm happy with, you'd better offer a lot more. Or there may not be any price on my disloyalty.

This week, someone emailed me wanting me to try his alternative to Terapeak. I asked him what it did that was better. He told me it was just like Terapeak, except it had fewer features. I asked him who would want that. He wrote back, "You?" asking if I would want that. Nope, go fish.

I asked him who would want a version of Terapeak that did less. I'd also think that if there were a huge market for that, Terapeak would come out with a lower-feature option. His reply was that he will put my name on it, I can sell it as my research tool, and make money off it.

Nope, I'm not going to jump for that. I've been recommending Terapeak since I first checked them out many years ago. They've been my pretty consistent recommendation. I think they do a great job with eBay-related research. I see no reason to fake-compete against them just to put a few dollars in my pocket. I think relationships are worth more than that.

When I told him that, he complained that I was supporting a monopoly. Well hey, goofball. If I use Terapeak, they make money from that. If I use your competing product, Terapeak's parent company makes money from that. It's a monopoly either way, though I'm not complaining about that, and would never have thought of that!

So use Terapeak! All the time! For everything! :)


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Video of My Presentation at PayPal X Innovate 2010

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

See blog post here for info and video. Thanks!

http://brassflowers.com/video-of-my-presentation-at-paypal-x-innovate-2010/


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Who’s Running Your Meetup Group?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

I joined a Meetup.com group for eBay sellers. It was run by a dude from a company that we don't directly compete with, but some may think is a competitor. OK, no problem yet. He welcomed me in. Thanks!

Yesterday, I got a mailing through Meetup from him. It was sent to all of the members. It was his guide to "Getting Noticed" on eBay. OK, let's give that a read. Oh, it has his company URL on every page. Oh, it's the middle of holiday selling (mid-November), and most sellers don't have time to change their holiday selling strategies right now. Well, let's give it a read anyway.

Sweet holy Lord, I strongly disagreed with some of the advice in there. Most importantly, it was a document about getting noticed, and it said NOTHING about Item Specifics. Right now, Item Specifics are nearly THE most important strategy to use so that your items do well in search results.The fitment database would be the equivalent for Motors sellers.

However, the guide had plenty of room for examples of their design work. In general, I'm against their style of design as I feel it works against current technology as well as the way eBay shoppers approach a listing. But then again, if any other company took my approach or had my UX/UI background, I'd have a direct competitor in the eBay world, which I don't. :)

So to sum up, the eBay Sellers meetup group is run by a vendor who would probably like every member to hire him. He sent everybody a guide with incomplete and incorrect information. I emailed him about this, and his response mostly orbited around how people like the guide. My point was that they don't know what info is missing! He told me they worked hard on it. My take: not hard enough if it's missing Item Specifics. Does this guy NOT know about Item Specifics? And he's passing himself off as an eBay expert?

Oh look. I just noticed that his company is the sponsor of the group. So they're the sponsor AND they run it.

I wasn't comfy with the whole scene, and not because a few people might think we compete. I left the Meetup group. I can just imagine every meeting, this guy plugging his company or giving wrong advice, and I'll be there correcting him or rolling my eyes. Better to spend my time somewhere else. I have run Meetup groups, and I have always chosen to NOT run the group when I might be a vendor to other members. That's my choice. Won't be everybody's.

Who is running your Meetup group? Somebody with something to sell you? How do you feel about the "subtle" sell, where the company name just happens to keep popping up on everything you see related to that group?


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Who’s Running Your Meetup Group?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Oops! Double posted. Please see http://aswas.typepad.com/hall_of_fame/2010/11/whos-running-your-meetup-group-1.html  Sorry!


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