BooK Review – Powerful Focus: A 7-Day Plan To Develop Mental Clarity And Build Strong Focus By THIBAUT MEURISSE

Powerful FocusAccording to Thibaut Merisse:

The ability to focus is one of the most valuble assets you’ll ever develop. When you use it to achieve your most exciting goals, you can reach levels of success you would never have imagined possible.

If you are the type of person that keeps jumping from one task to the next. Or you struggle to stay focused long enough to achieve success. Or maybe your mind is all over the place. Then this book will help you to do things such as:

  • eliminte distractions and develop focus
  • stop jumping from one shiny object to another
  • gain clarity about your goals and focus on what matters

Why is focus important? Thibaut writes that:

Often, the difference between an average person and a highly successful one is their level of focus. Successful people know what they want and place all their focus into the accomplishment of their goals. By doing so consistently over a long period of time, they turbocharge their productivity and achieve most of their goals.

The book has 7 key steps themed as actions you can take in 7 days.

This book is divided into two parts.

Part 1 titled Clarity Deals with the first four steps discussed in the book. In this section we are presented with information to help us refine our vision. The steps are:

  • Day 1 – 15 questions to identify what you want
  • Day 2 – Gaining clarity regarding what you want
  • Day 3 – Gaining clarity regarding what needs to be done
  • Day 4 – Gaining clarity regarding how it needs to be done

Part 2 is titled, Eliminating Distractions and Obstacles. This section of the book focuses on helping you discover how to remove all the distractions around you and develop better focus. The section  has the remianing three steps and they are:

  • Day 5 – Simplifying
  • Day 6 – Reducing useless inmput
  • Day 7 – Eliminating friction and energy waste

Following are six quick lessons for you from the book:

  1. Do you want to gain more clarify and refine your life’s vision? Here are six questions you should ask yourself:
    1. What do you really, really want?
    2. If you were to wake up tomorrow, completely alone without any family member, or friend, or colleague to influence your decisions, what would you do differently?
    3. If you were to be totally honest with yourself, what would you start doing now and what would you stop doing?
    4. If you were guaranteed to succeed in everything you do, where would you want to be in three years?
    5. If you could spend your day exactly the way you wanted to, what would you be doing from morning to night? What would your ideal day consist of?
    6. If you could focus only on doing one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  2. If you have written down your goals, how do you know that they are what you really want? A simple framework to identify whether you are doing the right thing is the love-based vs fear-based model. At anytime we are either acting out of fear or love. Acting out of love focuses you on giving and acting out of fear is about getting. Love-based goals tend to be fulifing goals which communicate that we have enough and we are happy to contribute to the world. Fear-based goals are an attempt to get validation from the external world and tend to make poor goals. Check your goals, are they fear or love-based? Are they about getting or giving? Your focus should be on love-based goals.
  3. Are you doing what you should be doing today? Here’s a question for you – if I keep doing what I’m doing today, this week or this month, am I likely to achieve my goals? If your answer is no for too many days then you need to do something to change the situation.
  4. Are you constantly distracted? If so, you need to practice ruthless elimination and one way to do that is through zero-based thinking. This is the practice of asking yourself this key question – knowing what I know now, would I choose to start that activity today? Here are some examples of how you can use the question by applying them to various aspects of your life:
    1. knowing what I know now, would I still start this project?
    2. Knowing what I know now, would I still join that group?
    3. Knowing what I know now, would I still create that product or service?
  5. How do you reduce useless input? How do you stop yourself from absorbing useless information? You may need to avoid information overload and here are some steps to do that:
    1. First determine exactly what it is you want or need to learn. That will help you search for information in the right places, identify the right people to get information from and decide the exact amount of information to consume.
    2. Reverse your learning to-to-action ratio. In other words stop spending so much time consuming information and very little time acting on the information you consume. You should act more than you consume. Take a step back and honestly assess your learning vs action ratio and challenge yourself to take action towards your goals rather than just reading about them.
  6. Eliminate anything that wastes your energy and prevents you from focusing on your goals. When you constantly experience friction that holds you back from acting, you waste energy and end up not achieving what you set out to achieve. Here are some steps to eliminate friction and waste:
    1. Turn off things that can distract you such as wifi and your phone.
    2. Implement a daily routine that can put you in a more productive mindset. For some people that can be listening to a specific type of music or doing exercise.
    3. Work on your goals early in the morning before you do anything else.
    4. Be clear about your daily priorities. Have a plan, otherwise your mind will trick you into doing time wasting activities.

This is a book with a lot of simple but practical tips to help you focus better. Even if you don’t read the whole book, you will learn something from it that can improve your ability to focus.

Business Insights From Play Nice But Win by Michael Dell #1

Play Nice But WinThe book I am currently learning from is the latest business autobiography from Michael Dell the founder of Dell Computers. The book is titled Play Nice But Win and was published in October 2021. Michael Dell is one of those understated yet successful technology entrepreneurs who has managed to weather the storm of running a technology company with a decreasing market share. Dell started out as a direct-to-customer personal computer company and with the advent of tablets and other mobile devices, many forecasted the demise of company. While the company is less prominent, it survived and is still thriving.

In this book Micheal tells us a bit about his own personal story by giving some insights into his childhood and family (not much) and also how he started Dell. He then goes on to write about what he did to make sure that Dell as a company did not die, which involved taking the company private from being a public company and taking it public again.

Over the next couple of weeks as I read the book, I will share with you some of the insights I am getting from it and below is my first lesson.

THAT’S A LOT OF CASH!

Michael was 17 when he decided to buy a brand-new BMW 320i for over $15,000. So, his parents followed him to the car dealer for back-up. After agreeing on the car to buy, the dealer looked towards Michael’s parents to pay but they didn’t. It was Michael who paid with a $15,000 plus cashier’s cheque and the rest with a lot of cash. His parents had not contributed a single penny to the car. Yet Michael had paid for it without any credit card or loan debt. How does a 17-year-old pay for a car that expensive. Where did he get all that money from? To answer that question, let’s meet Michael. Continue reading

Book Review – The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog By Ana Skyes

The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog (2021 Edition): Everything You Need To Know To Create A Website And Make Money Blogging by [Ana Skyes]The She Approach To Starting A Money-Making Blog by Ana Skyes presents a sincere approach to creating a blog that can generate income. Ana wrote the book based on her own personal experience and this is not one of those books that promises you immense blog wealth by the end of the month. It goes into detail about the hard work and effort that goes into creating a successful money-making blog.

Ana went from making $0 in 2016 to $62,048 in 2020, quite a journey and she shares with us how she did it in this book. The book is divided into three parts and each part consists of a number of sections. Following is a brief review of each part of the book.

PART 1 – CHAPTER 1: SETTING UP YOUR FOUNDATION

Introduction: introduces what you will have learnt after reading this part of the book.

Knowing your why: Ana starts this section with a very important question, why do you want to start a blog. She believes having a clear reason for your blog will make you more likely to follow through with things, believe in the work you do, be determined, consistent and create an awesome blog.

Finding your blogging niche: Once you know the ‘why’ for your blog then it’s time to think about what your blog will do for others. What Ana means by this is that, you will need to identify a niche for your blog. According to Ana:

A blogging niche is simply a way to describe the topics you blog about and a way to categorize your blog according to the relevant industry.

This section goes into detail on how to discover your blog’s niche and it answers some important questions along the way which include:

  • Do you really need a well defined blog niche?
  • How much do you need to niche down?
  • What blog niches earn the most money?
  • What blogs can’t be monetized?

Identifying your target audience: If you have identified your blog’s niche then you should have an audience in mind that your blog is aimed at. Ana writes that:

We have already established that if you want to start a money-making blog, you have to solve a problem for a specific group of people. It doesnt have to be anything life-changing but, ideally it needs to be something that people are willing to pay money to make go away, fix or improve.

So, this chapter is all about identifying your blog’s audience.

Naming your blog: In this section you will read about actions you can take to give your blog a befitting name. Here’s some advice from Ana about naming your blog:

Ideally, you want the name to reflect your blog’s purpose, speak to your target audience and allow you to cover all the topics you’re planning to write about in the future.

Coming up with a tagline: Ana starts this section by reminding us what we should already know about creating a blog if we have read the book up to this point which are:

  • Why you want to start your blog
  • Whom you want to help with your blog
  • Your blog niche and main topics of discussion
  • What type of content you want to publish
  • What you’re going to name it

Here she writes about how to come up with a short mission statement which she calls a tagline. According to her:

To help tie everything together and give you a sense of direction, you need to come up with a short mission statement, also known as a tagline. These are used to explain what your blog is all about and help your target audience connect with you straight away.

She shares her tagline with us which she recently changed from ‘Empowering women to build digital empires‘ to ‘Helping bloggers increase their traffic and income‘. She did this to make it clearer and to better describe what she provides for her audience.

PART 2 – CHAPTER 2: SETTING UP YOUR WEBSITE

This part of the book concentrates on the more technical aspects of setting up a website for the blog. At the start Ana advises us not to build our blog on a free platform. With that out of the way she concentrates on showing us how to:

  • buy blog hosting
  • set up a wordpress blog
  • get advanced wordpress help
  • create blog pages, posts and content

She also shares other blogging tips for beginners which cover areas such as:

  • using social media
  • branding
  • using google analytics
  • starting an email list

PART 3: CHAPTER 3: HOW TO MAKE MONEY BLOGGING

The first two parts focused on defining a blog vision, identifying an audience and building the blog website. In this part Ana focuses on how to make money blogging and she covers a number of ways to earn income from a blog which include:

  • adverts
  • affiliate marketing
  • selling digital products
  • sponsored posts
  • selling services
  • selling physical products
  • offer print-on demand products
  • sell your blog for profit
  • host a virtual summit or create a membership
  • sell ad space
  • become a ghorst writer for other bloggers or publications
  • sell on Amazon FBA

The last part of the book before the conclusion focuses on how to form a blog monetization strategy. I have written more on this below as my key lesson from the book.

This is a book that gives you a good overview of how to start a blog as an income source. It is particularly good for those who want to start a blog and at the same time it has some lessons for existing bloggers too.

Following are my key lesson from the book on how to create a blog monetization strategy. I have summarized the lesson as a series of steps.

  1. Have a good knowledge of all the possible ways you can make money through blogging.
  2. Choose one monetization method to start with. Ana suggests that if you are just starting out begin with affiliate marketing and creating a digital product.
  3. Look at how other successful bloggers in your niche are doing things and learn from them.
  4. Don’t be quick to give up, continue working on it. Ana had to work for four months before making her first affiliate sale and it was for $7.
  5. Make a clear plan of how much you want to earn and how to earn it.
  6. Keep track of everything you earn from your blog.

Book Review – Small Habits Revolution by Damon Zahariades

Small Habits RevolutionSmall Habit Revolution by Damon Zahariades is a book that teaches a simple yet powerful technique. That of using small actions to build new habits. According to Damon:

We can learn to speak new languages. We can learn to survive in the wilderness. We can learn to cook delicious, mouth-watering meals. We can learn to parallel park (no small feat for some of us!) And we can train ourselves to adopt new, life-enriching habits that improve our long-term health, wealth, and productivity. That’s the purpose of this action guide. I’m going to show you the best method for creating positive, healthy habits. And importantly, I’m going to show you how to make these habits stick.

This is not a big book, with just about 160 pages but it does teach a strategy which anyone can start using straight away to make changes to their life.

The book is divided into seven parts. Each of the parts are outlined below.

PART 1: HOW DEVELOPING HEALTHY HABITS IMPROVES YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE

In this section you will read about the benefits of developing new habits. Each of these benefits is discussed as a separate chapter. Here are the benefits:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Better focus
  • Improved productivity
  • Stronger relationships
  • Greater sense of joy
  • Better sleep quality
  • Improved physical health
  • Ability to take lightening fast decisions 
  • Increase creativity 
  • Greater self confidence 
  • Stronger commitment to your goals

PART 2: TRIGGERS, ROUTINES, REWARDS AND LOOPS

Damon starts this part of the book with this statement:

Every habit, good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, is prompted by a trigger. When the habit is performed, it is either rewarded or punished. When habits are rewarded, they become behavioural loops, which reinforces themselves over time.

This part of the book focuses on triggers, routines, rewards and loops. These four are crucial in helping us develop habits whether good or bad.

The first section in this part of the book is titled, FIRST THINGS FIRST: DEFINITIONS. Here some key definitions are discussed. The definitions discussed are:

  • Trigger: A trigger is a cue or circumstance that spurs you to perform an action.
  • Routine: A routine is an action performed over and over. It’s another way of referring to a habit or behavioural pattern.
  • Reward: Rewards reinforce routines. They represent what you gain whenever you perform an action or series of actions.
  • Loop: A loop encompasses the three previous definitions. Every behavioural loop consists of a trigger, a routine and a reward.
  • Keystone Habit: A keystone habit is a routine that influences, and even triggers, other routines or behaviours.

According to Damon:

These five definitions will help to clarify the ideas found throughout the rest of this action guide. They’ll prove invaluable when we get to my simple 10-step plan for developing new habits that stick.

So, if you are reading the book, it’s important to get a good grasp of those five definitions.

The next section in this part is – THE FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRIGGERS. Here Damon discusses five triggers which are:

  1. Time: We all go through certain routines based on what time of the day it is. For example, waking up to brush our teeth or whatever it is you are used to doing when you wake up. Therefore, time is one of the most common issues. It’s a valuable tool for developing new routines because it’s easy to control.
  2. Location: Habits can be triggers based on settings. We may associate certain behaviours with some specific locations.
  3. State of mind: Our mind plays an important role in the way we behave. Our state of mind affects how we feel which can trigger certain behaviours.
  4. People: The people we are around can trigger us to behave in certain ways.
  5. Preceding event: Our routines are comprised by a series of actions, so preceding actions we take can be a trigger for the next actions we can take.

The other topics discussed in this section are:

  • How triggers and routines lead to new habits
  • How rewards reinforce newly-formed habits
  • How to create strong habit loops
  • Remember, you’re in control

PART 3: MOTIVATION VS WILLPOWER. WHICH ONE DICTATES YOUR SUCCESS?

This part of the book looks at motivation and willpower and answers the question of whether they can help us succeed in building good habits. The first section looks at why motivation is not enough for us to succeed and four reasons discussed are:

  1. Motivation is not constant. You don’t feel motivated all the time.
  2. Motivation is unpredictable. You can’t anticipate it.
  3. Motivation is short-lived.
  4. Motivation is often dependent on our internal messaging. If you don’t feel like doing something, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do it.

What about willpower? While willpower can help us to take actions, it has it’s own shortcomings and is ultimately not the answer because:

  • Willpower is a finite resource
  • It has a short-term nature

Damon believes building small habits is a better solution than trying to find motivation or willpower 

PART 4: 10 STEPS TO FORMING HEALTHY HABITS THAT LAST

This is a key part of the book as it outlines ten steps we can take to form healthy habits that last. Here are the ten steps:

  1. Clarify the goal you want to achieve with your new habit.
  2. Identify the habit you want to develop.
  3. Break down your new habit to its smallest iteration.
  4. Create a cue to trigger the habit.
  5. Establish a clear objective.
  6. Design a plan to slowly increase your new habit.
  7. Create a simple reward system.
  8. Perform the habit at the same time each day.
  9. Identify the stumbling blocks that can sabotage you.
  10. Monitor your progress once a week.

PART 5: SEVEN RULES FOR SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

If you have followed the ten steps discussed in the previous section how do you set yourself up from success? Damon discusses another seven rules for setting yourself up to succeed. This rules are:

  1. Start small – big changes encounter greater personal resistance so starting with small changes is much easy and has a higher possibility of success.
  2. Commit to performing your new habit for 30 days – If you can do it continually and consistently for 30 days, it’s more likely to be a habit.
  3. Develop one habit at a time – Damon writes that, ‘one of the reasons so many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions is because they try to do too much at once.’ It’s better to try and develop one new habit at a time, at the most two.
  4. Disclose your new habit to others – Tell people who can hold you accountable about the habit.
  5. Perform your new habit early in the morning – Damon believes that performing a new habit early in the morning is easier because there is less personal resistance to it.
  6. Remind yourself of your reasons – Remind yourself of the purpose for your new habit.
  7. Be willing to forgive yourself if you fail – Occasional failures will happen as you try to develop your new habit. When they happen, forgive yourself, get up and get back on the habit trail.

PART 6: HOW TO GUARANTEE YOUR NEW HABIT WILL LAST

This part of the book has information similar to what has been discussed in previous sections but the information here is still worth reviewing because it gives us a way to guarantee the new habits we are developing lasts. The first question answered here is,  why new habits fail to stick and some of the explanations Damon offers include:

  • When the new desired behaviour or routine is too big of a change for the person.
  • Many people beat themselves up when they make mistakes along the way. This can be a discouragement to continue.
  • When people focus more on the outcome than the routine itself.
  • When people lose track of the purpose for wanting the new habit.
  • When people fail to create a supportive environment to support their new habit.
  • When people try to adopt too many new habits at once.

In addition these are things that can help to maintain the habit:

  • Leverage the power of accountability. This has been mentioned before.
  • Use Seinfeld’s calendar strategy. If you are interested in this one then do some research to learn what the calendar is. Or better still, read the book.
  • Link your new habit to a reliable cue. A cue is something that triggers the behaviour that leads to the habit.
  • Insert your new routine into an existing habit stack.
  • Put your new habit on your daily calendar or to-do list.
  • Reflect on the positive effects of your new habit.

PART 7: EXAMPLE HABITS YOU CAN DEVELOP USING THE SMALL HABIT STRATEGY

This is the final part of the book where Damon suggests 23 small habits that we can develop to change our lives. These are the habits:

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Practice active listening
  3. Do pushups, crunches and squats
  4. Master the art of conversation
  5. Drink more water
  6. Write in a personal journal
  7. Compliment strangers
  8. Take short walks
  9. Read non-fiction books
  10. Declutter your workspace
  11. Smile at people
  12. Meditate
  13. Wake up earlier
  14. Express your gratitude
  15. Keep in touch with friends
  16. Help people
  17. Track how you spend your time
  18. Learn new things
  19. Save money
  20. Use the time chunking method
  21. Start each day with a to-do list
  22. Learn to breathe properly
  23. Take immediate action

The concept in this book is simple and it works. I can say that because I have tried it personally in areas such as doing exercise for five days a week and writing a first draft of a 50-page eBook by writing for just 10-minutes a day. It’s a simple concept that can have very far reaching positive outcomes if we practice it.

So, I do recommend the book. You don’t have to read it start to finish but make sure you read enough of it to start building your own small habits.

Book Review – The Start Up Kit by Emma Jones

Start up kitThe Start Up Kit by Emma Jones subtitled, Everything you need to start a small business, is a book that aims to give you the information you need to start your own business. Emma Jones, the author, is no stranger to the world of business and start ups. She is the founder of the small business network, Enterprise Nation (www.enterprisenation.com) and has written other books that have to do with entrepreneurship.

This is not a big book, it has just 141 pages and it consists of three main sections. Each section contains a number of chapters and these have been outlined below.

PART 1: PREPARE

1 – Coming up with an idea: Questions you can ask and answer to come up with a business idea include:

  • Is there a gap in the market that I can fill?
  • What is my passion/hobby/skill?
  • Is there something someone else is doing that I can do better myself?

Here are some possible business ideas:

  • Blogger
  • Vlogger
  • Social media adviser
  • Online store owner
  • Giftware maker
  • Giftware seller
  • Artisan
  • Cupcake maker
  • Cosmetic producer
  • Hair and make-up artist
  • Party organiser

2 – Research the market: Once you have your idea, turning it into a business requires some research followed by turning that research into a plan. Here are some questions your research should answer: Continue reading