Building Your Brand – Why Blog, Why Use Display Ads etc?

“You’ll never get yourself off the treadmill of paid ads, if you don’t build your brand”

Someone on a Search Podcast, 2019


It’s very easy to dismiss online content, blogs, image assets and even display ads as pretty much useless – because you don’t have the instant gratification of seeing leads and/or sales.

This is completely understandable; especially if you have a background in sales – where your job has been to ‘finish off the lead’ and get a sale.

However, if you are in it for the long (or medium) run, then building your brand is a must. Whether you are a tradesman or a giant corporation, your brand’s reputation and the brand-awareness is your safety net when it comes to consistent website traffic, leads & sales.

It takes time to build a brand – but once it is built, those people who come to you direct because they know who you are – are effectively free – or at least very cheap in comparison to some of the cost per click of Google Search Ads these days.

Building a brand is not easy however. Take my other blog for example – Blackbeltwhitehat.com

The blog has over 600 pages of content, lots of it really long, in-depth and time-consuming to produce. The site has 5,000-10,000 visitors per month, but virtually nobody comes to my website via a branded search on Google.

This could be down to one specific reason – the domain name is crap and hard to remember.

I’ve bought a few more memorable domains (like WokeMMA.com “Woke” being an ironic term for self-awareness used in the MMA & Jiu Jitsu communities) and I am currently weighing up the time & effort of re-branding everything like GoogleMyBusiness, TrustPilot etc. – plus all my back-links currently point to blackbeltwhitehat.com (I’m aware of 301s etc. but I’ll still definitely see a drop in rankings).

My blog is ultimately a hobby that I’ve invested less than $50 into over 6 years.  But if I had some more budget – I’d put together a plan to build my brand online…

Logo Design Illustrator
Blackbeltwhitehat.com

How to Build a Brand Online

First make sure you know your target audience & do one of those SWOT analysis. Then make specific goals to establish some brand KPIs.

Here are some ideas on what to do next:

  • Get a relevant, easy to remember domain name!

Learn from my mistake, a short catchy domain name is an easy-win if you are just starting out from scratch. A lot of the best and obvious domain name will be taken however, so you’ll have to do some research first. If you are just starting out, don’t name your business until you secure your domain name!

  • Display Ads

Depending on your niche, you can set tiny max CPC bids in some instances – and they’ll still get thousands of impressions for very little spend. Gmail ads work particularly well for (potential) low CPM (cost per 1000 impressions).

Rotate your display ads’ design & colours to stop people ignoring them due to ‘banner blindness’.

  • Blog & Outreach

Blog are great for reaching people who are researching a potential purchase.

For example, I landed on Perfect Keto’s blog a few times whilst researching Exogenous Ketones. Then ended up buying their branded product on Keto-pro.co.uk; because, for what ever reason, I trusted their brand.

Create great content, with statistics, images and video – and then outreach it – i.e. send it to relevant blogs and websites.

If you can afford it, use “PR-Level” outreach and contact national newspapers etc. This can be done via websites such as gorkana

If you content gets links too – then great – that’s good for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Doing some of your own exclusive research and generating tables of statistics are great for generating back-links naturally i.e. passively.

So consider doing some market research using Google surveys etc. These guys calculated RV/Campervan depreciation in value, just by looking at vehicles for sale online and get hundreds of back-links.

To turn blog’s into direct sales, you can also use relevant ‘CTA’ images below your blog.

For example, if you post a blog about the Walking Path’s of Snowdonia on your Snowdonia-based-bed-&-breakfast website; consider adding a relevant & clickable ‘book now’ and/or ‘get your free brochure’ button with eye-catching image at the bottom of the post. Many people now do this with newsletter sign up pop ups, which are a bit annoying but do work.

Before you start a blog, do your keyword research.

  • Create Tools

Content is great – but tools tend to do better than copy. For example, NerdWallet’s top page in terms of organic traffic – is their mortgage calculator.

  • Reviews

As well as brand awareness, you want some social-proofing of your brand. Start with a free account on Trustpilot and GoogleMyBusiness

  • Video & Social Media

The number 1 mistake people make on social media is to harp on about their brand all the time. Be entertaining, provide useful information and insightful comments. If you are over-promotional, people will not follow you. Build some authority by providing helpful insights that your target market will appreciate.

Videos & podcasts can be costly in terms of time. If you don’t want to set up your own podcast, guest-appearance on other people’s podcasts can generate valuable awareness and also back-links to your website (important for Search Engine Optimisation/Rankings).

  • Build an amazing product and/or service

This is your foundation and one of the reasons that Apple is so successful. An LSD-fueled Steve Jobs came up with some amazing ideas and concepts. The brand also turned itself into unique hybrid of tech & fashion thanks to their pioneering products.

The big, light-up apple on the back of Macbooks no doubt was a design aimed at building brand awareness too!

Please note – I realise this blog has a rubbish social media following. But that’s due to lack of time/money investment. I generally just use this blog as somewhere to record my thoughts & to remember how to do all things marketing related. E.g. here are my notes so I remember how to use Screaming Frog to scrape OG tags.

See my 2019 guide to Keyword Research by Clicking Here.

KW Research in 2019

Hello,

Just thought I’d write a post about how I go about doing my SEO & PPC Keyword Research these days.

  1. Add head term to google search bar in chrome

Make a note of the suggested searches & predicted searches

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.29.22
Predicted Searches in the Address/Search Bar

suggested google searches
Related/Suggested Searches at the Bottom

 

 

 

2. Google ‘Alphabet Soup’

Put in your main head term and then add a

then b, then c and so on

Make a note of the relevant suggestions

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.18Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.21Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.33.23

 

For product related KWs, this also works if you go to the desktop version of the Google Play Store.

 

3. Have a Quick Look on Reddit & Amazon

Have a look at any relevant subreddits on Reddit – e.g. https://www.reddit.com/r/jeffbridges/

Do a quick search for “KW” site:reddit.com

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.41.49.png

 

Have a look on Amazon, just search your head term and see what products appear

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.42.40.png

In the example above .- “The Dude and the Zen Master” might be a decent KW

Other forums can help too. For example, when looking for KWs for my MMA blog, I’ll look on sherdog forums for trending & frequent topics.

 

 

4. Add Competitor Domains to Ubersuggest

https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ or use the SEMRush plugin.

If necessary, we could export the KWs in this report, and then filter in Excel for those containing “Jeff Bridges”

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.46.34.png

 

5. Upload your Final KW List to Keyword Planner

 

https://ads.google.com/intl/en_uk/home/tools/keyword-planner/

 

A final note on search volumes.

For some blogs and websites, even keywords with 0 monthly searches may be relevant.

My other blog – blackbeltwhitehat.com has built all of its traffic off KWs that Google KW planner says has 0 searches.

It all depends on how authoritative your website is and your competitors are. You can go after bigger, more popular KWs if you are a huge website with a DA of 90. It’s a different ball game if you are running a personal blog with a DA of 15

Try and include a number of the relevant searches in your articles etc.

Brexit, The EU & Small Businesses

European Union (EU) referendum decision day is almost upon us and no-one truly knows what the implications of an exit from the EU will have on businesses or our day-to-day lives.

We can take an educated guess though, so here are some of the ways an EU exit could potentially impact small businesses in the UK.
What is an EU exit?

The UK is currently part of the EU, a politico-economic union of 28 member states across Europe that enjoy freedom of trade and movement of workers. These trading rules also apply across the wider European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

On June 28, 2016, the UK will held a referendum to decide whether or not the UK should remain as part of the EU – and we all know the result…

PPC mistakes

 

 


How does EU membership benefit UK small businesses?

EU membership means small businesses can move goods and services across both the EU and EEA without paying any customs duties, a system which opens up greater opportunities for small businesses to trade across the continent.

It’s estimated that being part of the EU has increased trade between the UK and some European countries by as much as 50%

This trade arrangement provides a standardised set of rules when it comes to customs procedures and this reduces a lot of the paperwork and admin faced by businesses doing business internationally.

If this freedom of movement is removed, not only will it make it more difficult for UK businesses to trade across Europe, it’ll also mean there’s more red tape to negotiate.

There is also free movement for all workers across the EU, which means talent can be brought in from a much bigger pool than if businesses were restricted to only employing UK nationals, else encounter more red tape.
confidence


How does EU membership hold back UK small businesses?

Current EU regulations on patents are strict and this can stifle innovation and hold back industries trying to enter new markets and attract new customers. It’s believed an EU exit will instantly see much of this red tape removed and allow imaginative small businesses to prosper.

The UK pays an annual net contribution of around £8.6 billion – that’s more than £23 million per day – to be a member of the EU, money which the pro-leave campaign argue could be invested directly back into UK small businesses to help both new start-ups and existing businesses.

While it would never be a simple case of splitting this money between all small businesses, the suggestion is that there would be more money to go around.


How does EU membership benefit UK consumers?

EU health and safety legislation means that any products designed and sold within the EU must adhere to strict safety regulations and stand up to scrutiny under stringent quality control, which means it’s harder for companies to cut corners and sell unsafe goods to turn a profit.

If UK companies no longer have to meet these stringent safety regulations we could see businesses selling sub-standard, even dangerous, merchandise.  This issue could impact a number of manufacturing industries, but farmers and food distributors have voiced their concern regarding an array of chemicals, preservatives and farming methods, that are currently banned in the UK, but not in the USA.  With a UK exit from the EU, the entire industry and food processing itself, could be changed drastically.


So what will an EU exit mean for UK small businesses?

It’s impossible to say whether UK small businesses will sink or swim if the ‘leave’ campaign is successful, as there are pros and cons for each eventuality – it really is a trip into the unknown.

The Open Europe think tank has estimated that while an EU exit could see UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grow by 1.6% by 2030, it also forecasts a worst-case scenario could cost the UK 2.2% of its GDP.

There are so many potential implications for UK businesses that could be impacted by either staying in, or voting out of the EU.

For example the EU data protection rules that became law in 2018 affected everyone in the EU. If we leave the EU, it could mean less restrictions on data – great for people working in digital marketing like myself (it’s much easier to target specific buyer-personas and demographics when I manage USA accounts vs UK ones), but is this in the interest of the consumers and internet-users?

This is one example of how subjective things can easily get. As a business owner you may prefer ‘looser’ laws around data, but the general public may not. To put this into context, let’s say you own a vegan food shop in Manchester, stricter EU laws make it more difficult to target vegans living in specific parts of Manchester…

One thing’s for sure, Brexit appears to be having a very positive impact on UK tourism and with more Brits likely to stay at home this summer, thanks to the push by protesters concerned with global warming; there could be a real boom in the industry.

Here is some suggested further reading:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/05/this-is-why-businesses-ba…
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/02/uk-small-businesses-are…

Insert Blank Rows at Regular Intervals

Need to:

Hold down Alt & F11 to bring up VBA.

Add below code:

Sub InsertRowsAtIntervals()
'Updateby20150707
Dim Rng As Range
Dim xInterval As Integer
Dim xRows As Integer
Dim xRowsCount As Integer
Dim xNum1 As Integer
Dim xNum2 As Integer
Dim WorkRng As Range
Dim xWs As Worksheet
xTitleId = "KutoolsforExcel"
Set WorkRng = Application.Selection
Set WorkRng = Application.InputBox("Range", xTitleId, WorkRng.Address, Type:=8)
xRowsCount = WorkRng.Rows.Count
xInterval = Application.InputBox("Enter row interval. ", xTitleId, 1, Type:=1)
xRows = Application.InputBox("How many rows to insert at each interval? ", xTitleId, 1, Type:=1)
xNum1 = WorkRng.Row + xInterval
xNum2 = xRows + xInterval
Set xWs = WorkRng.Parent
For i = 1 To Int(xRowsCount / xInterval)
    xWs.Range(xWs.Cells(xNum1, WorkRng.Column), xWs.Cells(xNum1 + xRows - 1, WorkRng.Column)).Select
    Application.Selection.EntireRow.Insert
    xNum1 = xNum1 + xNum2
Next
End Sub

Press F5 to run code

How to Buy Bitcoin…

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency have come a long way since the days of Magic the Gathering. It’s now seen by every Wall-Street-Hero with a Mercedes, as a legitimate and sensible place to invest a few quid.

bitcoin logo

It literally takes 10 minutes maximum to buy some Bitcoin..as long as you can find your wallet…

Make sure that you are on a legitimate site and not a scam-site, always check for the https in the address bar of your browser before submitting sensitive information too.

Also, don’t try and explain Bitcoin to the Motherinlaw, as you have no chance.

How to Invest in Bitcoin

  1. First grab your credit card, a valid photo driving license or Passport for ID & your mobile phone
  2. Go to CoinBase
  3. Follow the instructions – firstly sign up and verify your email address
  4. Verify your Mobile Phone number
  5. Upload your ID – You just need to take a picture…it didn’t work for some reason when I choose to verify my ID with a mobile phone picture, but worked fine when I used my webcam instead
  6. Enter you Credit Card info.
  7. Buy Buy Buy!

How to Buy Bitcoin
At the end – Click the Massive blue “Buy Bitcoin Instantly” Button at the bottom

 

If you wish, you can also buy other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum.
Whatever you do, keep all your login information safe!

I bought £50 worth last year and still can’t find my login details! #bellend

You should also get yourself a Bitcoin Wallet. This will mean that if Coinbase gets hacked, you’ll have an offline, backup of your Bitcoinage. You can also get App version for your phone, but it is recommended to get an offline version too.

 

 

Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing

online marketing

My friend has an interview on Tuesday for a marketing manager role, and has never done any online marketing, so here goes my introduction to it…

About the title-image, sorry it’s a bit sexist – studies suggest that faces looking at you are the best for Calls to Action (CTAs) and for thumbnails on Youtube videos.

The above image is used for my marketing video and thought it would double up to get people to click on my blog post. May as well embed the video now! Here you go:

Internet Marketing Jargon

Online marketing has so many abbreviations, that if you don’t know them, it sounds like another language

What is a “Browser”?

A browser is Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari on an Apple device or Opera. It’s a piece of software for navigating the internet and downloading/rendering websites.

DO NOT say that you use Internet Explorer in an online marketing interview. Say that you use Chrome.

The main reason that people use Chrome and Firefox is that you can get plugins/extensions for Google Chrome. The most popular in online marketing is probably the ‘Mozbar’ which helps you see the ‘Domain Authority’ of a website.

What is a CMS?

Content Management System.  A typical CMS is WordPress. This site is made using the free version of wordpress that uses the WordPress hosting platform, a free design template. The wordpress software can also be used when hosted with a different company such as GoDaddy, and the paid WordPress software allows plugins.

What are “WordPress Plugins”?

They are add-ons to your site that allows you to add ‘functionality’. For example you might add a Paypal plugin that allows you to create a shopping cart and payment system on your site to make in an online shop/ecommerce site.

What does “SEO” Stand For?

Search Engine Optimisation. This is the process of ranking as high as possible on Google and other search engines such as Bing.com.

Some terms to be aware of in SEO:
Meta Description – This is the description that you add the theof your website page’s code that shows in the Google Results. It just described what is on the page. Meta Descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

Meta Title .- this shows at the top of the tab in your browser and in the Google results pages.

meta-description
Image Source

What does “CRO” Stand for?

Conversion Rate Optimisation. This is the process of getting people who visit your website to buy things or sign up for a newsletter or submit a form. If you have an online shop, a ‘conversion’ would normally be a purchase on your website.

What does “PPC” Stand for?

Pay Per Click advertising (not Payment Protection Cover as I thought in my interview at the bank I used to work at). The 2 most popular forms of this are Google Adwords and Facebook advertising. Facebook is usually more effective on a smaller budget.

SEOmoz-PPC-vs.-SEO2

Image Source

What is HTML?

HTML stands for hyper text markup language. It structures websites whilst something called CSS – Cascading Style Sheets.

The best place to start learning HTML is w3 Schools. It can be overwhelming at first, but it’s easy when you get the hang of it. It’s just a load of numbers and letters inside angle brackets <> to remember. There’s no working out or formulas to remember, just letters and numbers.

HTML is one of the ways a websites ‘talks’ to a browser, so that the browser can render the website and show you what’s on there.
CSS makes it looks nice, adding colours, styles etc. For example the CSS might tell the browser to make all the main headings red and all the list items italic.

What is DA?

DA stands for Domain Authority. DA is an indication of how ‘powerful’ or authoritative a website is. The higher the DA (score of 1-100), the more valuable a link is from that website.

What is a Link?

A link or a hyperlink is a bit of text or an image, that you click to go to another website. For example this red underlined text is a link to a fitness blog. When you click it, you should be taken to another blog.

The more links a website has, from high quality websites, the more likely it is to rank higher in Google. You can gain links by creating great content, you can create and run marketing campaigns that people will want to write about, or you can be naughty and pay for some links.

What is Guest Posting?

Guest posting is an old school tactic to gain links to your website and rank on Google. You create an article/blog post, send it to a blogger in an email and ask if they would like to use it on their website. The article will contain a link back to your own website. The typical response from a blogger is either “no thanks” or “okay, that will cost $50”.

Now, this is against Google guidelines and you can get penalised by Google for doing this. People still do though. In theory, if a blogger accepts a payment to link to another website, in any form, whether it is via a blog post or sidebar-link or banner, then it should be a ‘no-follow’ link.

What is a NoFollow Link?

A no follow link has the HTML code – rel=”nofollow” added to it.

This tells Google NOT to count this link and not factor it in to it’s ranking algorithm.

What is the Google Algorithm?

It’s the formula that Google uses to work out where to rank websites on their results pages. Apparently nobody knows all of it, but it looks at how many other websites link to yours, the quality of the websites linking to yours, the quality of your website and its content and how fast your website loads.

What are Keywords?

Keywords or KWs, are search terms used in Google. If I search for “Red apples” then the keyword is “red apples”.
Rather confusingly, search phrases are also called keywords. You want to find KWs with lots of monthly searches, that don’t have lots of competition and add them to your content and headings in a natural format.  Don’t stuff them in everywhere.

Use the Keyword Planner Tool to find KWs with lots of monthly searches. And do a Google search to see which websites rank for those terms. If the top 10 websites for that KW are the likes of the BBC, Fox News and Amazon, you probably aren’t going to rank on the first page for that term.

Long Tail Keywords are less popular KWS, with less searches but often ‘convert’ to sales etc. better.

A Head Term might be “Tennis Balls”
A Long Tail Keyword might be “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK”

“Tennis Balls” will have a much higher volume of monthly searches but will be very hard to rank on the first page of Google for. “Buy Yellow Slazenger Tennis Balls UK” will have less search volume each month, but will be easier to rank for and people searching for that term are more likely to buy/convert.

Tools for Internet Marketing

A CMS – such as WordPress so that you can create a website

A Keyword Tool such as the Google Keyword Planner. So that you can see what keywords to try and rank for or advertise with if you’re using PPC ads.

Google Analytics – to see who is coming to your site, where from and to what pages.

Google Chrome and some extensions such as the Moz Bar

Screaming Frog for Technical SEO. This gets all the information from a website and downloads it into an Excel Spreadsheet.

SEO Mofo – to make sure your meta titles & descriptions are the correct length. Add a CTA – Call To Action such as “Book Now!” or “Learn More” at the end of your descriptions.

Yoast SEO Plugin – This makes it easy to add meta titles and descriptions as you make your webpages and blog posts.

What I’ve Learnt from Reading Books & Watching Ted Talks

I recently read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and decided to write my own…

These are generally things I have read, I implement some but not others (e.g. the career ones, I do aspire to achieve/do most of them though) .

I see a lot of nice, ‘well brought up’ people with depression and one of the main reasons is that they’ve been brought up to do good, to share, to think of others, and this is not how 80% of the world works, especially the working-world.

Stoic philosophy helps best with this issue, I don’t think that there is one quick fix…just learn to laugh at injustice and don’t take life or yourself too seriously.

Also – don’t expect life to run smoothely, you may work hard, get a good degree, but then you might (like me) struggle to get a job, have to gather yourself again and try another direction. Don’t get angry with the injustice of bad things happening, stuff not working out as planned, regroup and go again!

Happiness

  1. You reap what you sow – if you are constantly complaining about people, treating people with contempt and being bad tempered, you will angry, unhappy and low spirited. I don’t believe 100% in karma, but I do think your words, actions & thoughts are all related
  2. Focus on what you can control – Your reaction to people & events, and the work you put in. Most other things are out of your control.
  3. Take 100% of the responsibility for your actions; it’s rare that you are the victim of circumstance & there’s never a time where you can blame other people for your actions. Attributing all of your problems and flaws to external forces such as bad luck, your wife, parents etc. leads to depression and learned helplessness.Rather than complaining, take ownership, analyse and make sure you make better decisions going forwards. Avoid saying “I haven’t got time” and “I have to…”. Blaming others leads to a victim mentality. So does blaming lack of time and money.
    e.g. If someone asks you to go on a lads holiday, you might say “I’d love to, but I’d prefer to spend the money on my university books”, rather than “I can’t afford it”.
    Saying “I can’t afford it” is logical in many instances, but it really helps to reframe the phrase.If you fall out with someone, or something goes wrong in work – focus on what you could have done differently, rather than what others did wrong. E.g. If you’re a project manager a someone doesn’t tell you about a mistake, you can analyse your own communication skills and approachability.
    See Jocko Willink’s ‘Extreme Ownership’ Ted Talk.
  4. Thoughts of the self create much suffering:
    e.g. concerns regarding appearance, self worth, importance, how you are perceived etc
    True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself, less. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking people give you a second thought.
  5. Thank people for criticism and use it objectively to improve. Defensiveness is usually a sign of insecurity and is the cause of most arguments
  6. Logical (& cynical) thinking, is not always the ‘best’ way to think. e.g. logically thinking it’s someone else’s fault – is often not the best way to think. Or a logical approach to faith, or karma etc.
  7. If you are made angry by something or someone, then it has beaten you. Laugh smile and be flexible in mindset. Prisoners of war survived the Nazi concentration camps by having a sense of humour, so don’t allow small problems & trivial insults overcome you 
    smile
  8. Beware of the narrative in your mind – “You are not your thoughts”. Don’t be ‘in’ your thoughts, observe them. It is okay to have jealous, aggressive thoughts, as long as you don’t speak or act upon them. “Automatic thoughts” are often negative & aggressive, acknowledge them, disassociate from them, and replace with rational, nice thoughts!
  9. Perfectionism is an illness. Strive to improve, not to be perfect or the best.
  10. Don’t Be a Harsh Judge or Critic – you force yourself to take life a little more seriously each time you do. For example if you criticise someone for having a cheap car, you’ll make yourself and those around you more anxious about the state of your/their car.
  11. Be organised, to allow mindfulness – have a ‘To Do list’ in work and at home. This helps you to be mindful, rather than scanning our mind for things you may have forgotten.
  12. You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with. Avoid negative and superficial people. Don’t judge them, they are just on a different path in life and unaware how they affect others.
  13. Don’t Watch the News – Consume positive media only, negative news and events are normally out of your control and will only make you more negative.
  14. Attachment is the cause of all suffering – especially to possessions. Take care of things, but don’t invest emotions in them.
TedSnow
Ted Enjoys the Simple Things
  • Acceptance is important. Resisting ‘what is’ makes it infinitely worse.
  • Life is all about good experiences, interesting & fun experiences can happen anywhere like work, in a traffic jam, anywhere if you can learn to laugh and have fun. You don’t need to be on an expensive holiday to have a good experience.
  • Avoid hate, jealousy and bitterness. Life is just a random cluster of events, full of inconveniences & injustices that must be laughed at. Acceptance is key for happiness when you literally can’t change something.
  • Everyone needs a hobby & a passion. Ideally one which gets you in ‘flow state’ and builds social connections with ‘nice’ people. Remember to put your family before your passion however…
  • Type A Personality – If you have one – highly competitive and short tempered – don’t make the mistake of expecting everyone else to be a highly motivated Type A like you – the world would be a very stressful and unhappy place if this was the case. Your judging will lead to narcissism, which will lead to entitlement, which leads to anger and further frustration.
  • Happiness has a ripple effect
    “Capitalizing on the Happiness Advantage does more than solely benefit us. Research into social networks has shown that behavior is literally contagious, good or bad. Our attitudes and behaviors infect the people we work with directly, but also spread to the people they interact with. This is called the ripple effect” (p.201)
    The Happiness Advantage
  • Peace begins with a smile
  • Flexible people are the happiest – be flexible in terms of plans, set backs etc. Adapt, change & chuckle
  • Write down 3 good things which have happened each day
  • Write down a negative thought, then write down 4 positives. e.g. work is boring – positives – I don’t have to work shifts, I don’t have to travel to a city centre, I don’t have to deal with angry customers, I work with nice people
  • Find the positive in the negative whenever possible. e.g. I lost my job but have learnt massive amounts about careers & life that I can pass onto my children.
    see the Zen Farmer – bad luck can be good luck:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81XIhTePvKE
  • Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk – Once a milk bottle is smashed and milk goes down the drain, no complaining or whining will bring it back. Deal with it and clean up the mess.
  • According to Jonathan Haidt, suffering can lead to happiness if you respond positively and adapt
  • Happiness is not an Entitlement – Many people have to work at it, by giving gratitude everyday, meditating, exercising and eating good clean foods.
  • Stay_uncomfortable_comfort_breeds_complacency_fireman_up
    Stress can help you, as can unpleasant people. Just learn to laugh and roll with them – never hate a hateful person

    Citizenship & Social Skills

    1. Be kind, you can make or break someone’s day and people hold grudges for decades – so be nice to everyone
    2. Only hold aggressive opinions about things you have researched completely and deem as highly important. Whilst discussing politics, pretend you are interviewing someone rather than arguing with them
    3. Don’t Expect People to Make an Effort with You – people will never really know what to say to a ‘new’ person. Smile and make an effort but don’t worry too much if they don’t fall head over heals to welcome you to a new team or job etc
    4. Popularity is not important
    5. Love & care for your family, friends and local community. See Dunbar’s number. Your brain isn’t designed to care about 7 billion people. If you care for the entire world’s population you may begin to suffer from stress and depression. You can do the right thing to help them, donate money etc but try not to invest too much emotion.
    6. Speaking of Community – Everyone needs to be in one. We’re social and tribal animals and we need a sense of belonging, this is often cited as a reason for Crossfit being so successful! Crossfit, Church, Football, the pub – whatever it is, you need to be part of one (obvs stay away from dodgy cults and political groups though).
    7. Never say “I hate people”. Focus on those you love, not those you don’t enjoy the company of. Focus on what is good about people not there 1 or 2 flaws. Don’t judge, everyone starts off as a happy baby and is shaped by their environment (and genes).
    8. People Will Always Pick on Those They Perceive as Weak or Naive. Try your best to say things with confidence and stand tall etc. Easier said than done!
    9. Never ‘tut’!
    10. Say “you’re right” instead of “I know” and you’ll appear much nicer.
    11. Never Expect Gratitude. It’s a bonus rather than an entitlement for someone to say thanks
    12. Say nice things about those you don’t like – It will sometimes get back to them that you’ve said something nice, and will seem like a sincere compliment coming via someone else

    “Look in the Mirror, Not out of the Window”

    Focus on what you can change, not what you think other should change

    Money & Career

    1. Adverts (& the news) use negativity, fear & comparisons to sell you things. Don’t buy something because of an advert. It’s like a game to get you to part with your money.
      Beware of social proofing, loss aversion, the law of reciprocity and the power of authority – all used in marketing. Know the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’.
    2. Business is always mixed with politics, don’t let it bother you. Read The Prince, The 48 Laws of Power and How to Win Friends & Influence People, this makes you revel in the politics rather than hate it. I used to get angry about work-politics but it comes with the territory, especially at bigger companies.
    3. It’s better to have a small house and disposable income, than a large house and concerns about money. Be aware of the hedonic treadmill.
    4. Buy investments not liabilities. In the book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ the author describes how poorer people tend to buy ‘liabilities’ that decrease in value like cars, whilst the rich look first to buy assets (things that increase in value) like properties, currencies, gold etc. For both assets and liabilities, make sure you can afford them!
    5. Move to get Promoted – When you’re single if you can buy a house, rent it out, then move anywhere in the world (literally) for a job that’s senior to your current position. Obviously the ‘buy a house’ bit only works if you work hard/get lucky to begin with and get a good job! The principle remains the same if you don’t have a house though, you just don’t have an investment to fall back on. I didn’t do this, I was too much of a pansy and came home after 3 months in America.
    6. Set up an Online Business – Get Paid in Sterling or US Dollars and live like a king on bahts in Thailand.
    7. Learn to entertain yourself for free or on a low budget. e.g. hiking, camping. Those who need expensive holidays to be entertained usually find it hard to be happy day to day and are often skint.
    8. “Don’t outshine the master” pretend your life and your knowledge is slightly inferior to your boss’s
    9. Meditate – meditation is all about not judging thoughts. Therefore it helps hugely if day to day you don’t judge people.
    10. It’s good to have rubbish employment at some stage in your life. You’ll appreciate a better job later in life eg. I don’t let boredom effect me, after working in a call centre getting verbally abused all day. Boredom is good.
    11. Social intelligence & confidence is just as important as knowledge when it comes to your career. (Perhaps different if you’re a highly skilled doctor or engineer)
    12. Have a Stop – Loss Formula – Set a limit so you never risk more than you can afford
    13. Experience is much more Important than Qualifications – Do unpaid work or start your own business if you have to, in order to get some experience.
    14. If you work in an office, have a cold shower twice a week and engage in intense exercise at least once a week. Otherwise your body and immune system are likely to become weak.
    15. If you are unable to rid yourself of anger – use it to motivate yourself. For example, gain new and better skills to move to a different job.
    16. Act Formally When you start a new job – If you are too quick to make fun of yourself, then some people will see this as an invite to join in. You want to avoid these people if possible!

    Learning New Skills

    1. It takes 10,000 hours to become a master, 20 hours to become ‘good’ at something. When learning new skills, learn the basics and then practice, gain feedback, adjust, then practice again, gain feedback, adjust, etc. Don’t read and read about how to do something, you need to practice it
      cropped-dadblog1.jpg
    2. Set Monthly personal development goals such as reading books, going out of your comfort zone, or building character e.g. Take a cold shower each morning, speak to 2 new people each day
    3. Growth mindset – never be afraid to learn new things – never say “I can’t do it”, you can’t do it yet.
    4. You don’t need much money to be happy, but you do need sleep. Aim for ‘fuck you money’ – have enough money to say no to jobs etc you don’t want to do. Things don’t make you happy, other than food & shelter
    5. Cheerfulness is always the best approach to problems and day to day issues.
    6. ‘Start with “why?”’ when trying to motivate and persuade people
    7. Do everything with enthusiasm
    8. Treat repetitive tasks like meditation. 1 thing/item at a time, don’t think about the past or present, just what you are doing, 1 at a time.
    9. Never be afraid to fail. You win or you learn.
    10. Low energy can be mental or physical but normally both
      Address both potential issues with diet & exercise for physical, reading, CBT and meditation for the mental.
      Diet – probiotics, fermented foods, high omega 3, low omega 6, low/no sugar

    CBTNegativeThinkingCycleExample
    Having Low Energy Can be a Mental Health Issue (or a physical issue)
    Image Source

  • Feedback is crucial when learning new skills – perfect practice makes perfect. Video yourself is required.
  • The Goal Posts Move – Once you’ve learnt a new skill, keep up to date, or you’re skills will become out of date.
  • General

    Marcus Aurelius' meditations
    Marcus Aurelius’ first life lesson – be mild tempered
    1. All great men and leaders in history preach ‘a mild temper’ (see above photo)
    2. Don’t procrastinate for 1 moment – as this is the beginning of the biggest delays. Make a decision and do it straight away.
    3. Beware the power of Intermittent Positive Reinforcement. See Skinner’s experiments. Gambling is addictive because of intermittent reinforcement, as is social media
    4. What you criticise represents your own insecurities. e.g people’s appearance
    5. Beware of all the cognitive biases – self-serving, confirmation bias, etc. Learn more here. These are crucial and should be taught in school!
      For example – Self Serving Bias:

      The selfserving bias is people’s tendency to attribute positive events to their own character but attribute negative events to external factors. It’s a common type of cognitive bias that has been extensively studied in social psychology

      source

    6. Be aware of ‘Faulty Thinking’ in CBT – for example, Mental filtering whereby people disregard the positives and focus on the negatives. e.g. when you focus on the one thing that went wrong in a presentation. More info here.
      success
    7. Don’t build huge expectations in children. Telling them they’ll be a dentist or a great football player when they grow up, may upset them if they end up working nights in a factory – not that there’s anything wrong with this.
    8. For every person that says ‘never give up on your dreams’ there’s another 100 people that didn’t and never made it. Beware ‘survivor bias’
    9. Reward effort, not outcome. Say ‘well done, you must have worked really hard!’ ‘instead of well done, you must be really talented/clever’.
    10. Don’t personalise anything other than direct personal criticism. If someone is blunt, miserable etc, it’s generally nothing to do with you
    11. Love imperfections for their quirks – they give things and people character
    12. Don’t eat in front of the TV – you will eat ‘mindlessly’ and not appreciate the food or even register it going in
    13. Have a preference for how people behave, but not a demand. e,g. it’s nice if people say thank you, but don’t expect it
    14. Awkwardness – ‘move into it’, don’t be afraid of it – it can be used to manipulate you
    15. You can Meditate doing any task – Be mindful when driving by constantly focusing on the road immediately ahead & bringing your thoughts back to the road, be mindful when walking by focusing on the sensations of touch and movement -such as the feeling of the wind on your face & the feeling of your feet pressing onto & driving off the floor, then be mindful of all the sounds you can hear
    16. Everyone started off a smiling baby, people are a product of their environment & genetics. Had Gandhi been born in Nazi Germang, he would have likely been a Nazi, not a spiritual leader. Remember this when trying not to judge others.
    17. Expect shit to happen & don’t be dramatic – The world and the universe is in perpetual chaos and gives zero fcuks about you. Just because you live in a comfy house and work a set rota, doesn’t mean random stuff and hassle won’t happen. Expect hassles like stuff breaking and just get on with fixing it.

    meditation-1384758_960_720
    Meditation – Usually not so dramatic
  • Life is hard for everyone. Get on with it with a chuckle & less drama
  • Never be unhappy or angry about your lot in life. Others will always have more.
  • Change a negative inner narrative by listening to and repeating positive affirmations.
  • Sometimes you’ll do nothing wrong and get told off anyway. No dramas.
  • You Learn by Mistakes – but they don’t have to be yours – learn by reading.

  • Ted
    Learn to enjoy stuff that’s free
  • Magnesium is a powerful muscle relaxant, great for headaches & sleep
  • “All disease starts in the gut” Hippocrates. If you have an inflamed gut, you will struggle to feel good regardless of how much you read and meditate. The gut directly impacts the brain and mood. Have a read up on leaky gut and the FODMAP diet
  • Power corrupts virtually everyone, don’t be surprised or upset by greed etc, all large organisations appear to have at least an element of corruption too.
  • Risk to Reward ratio – Only take high risks if the rewards are really high. Is it worth doing an exercise in the gym that might make you more powerful but could dislocate your shoulder if you get the technique slightly wrong?
  • I wish someone had of explained ‘banter’ to me earlier in life – possibly a British thing, whereby you exchange witty insults and the person who gets upset first is the loser
  • Resilience is related to flexibility. If you’re plans and ideals are flexible and ‘changeable’ then you will be more resilient than someone who is very fixed ideals and plans.
  • Guy Ritchie said (to paraphrase) on the Joe Rogan Podcast – there’s 2 worlds, an inner one and an outer one. You don’t need the outer world to validate who you are or your worth.
  • marcus aurelius horse
    Marcus gives a nonchalant wave from his horse

    To summarise

    • Don’t take life or yourself too seriously and remember that having a sense of humour & being cheerful is always the best way to cope
    • Always pick out the positives. Bad luck often makes you appreciate specific things or people or often turns into good luck if handled correctly
    • Don’t be duped by the system, which wants you to compare yourself to others, feel negative and buy things
    • Learn something from everyone – people don’t have to be role models, they can also be hideous warnings
    • Don’t judge your thoughts or other people if you want to be mindful
    • Be nice & don’t insult people unnecessarily – they’ll hold a grudge for decades
    • Read
     
    self development

    Tips to Avoid Early-Midlife Bitterness

    1. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or others
    2. Take complete ownership of your career – don’t blame others for a decision that you made and ‘wrong turns’ that you took
    3. Don’t be judgemental. All the most miserable people I know, are constantly judging others (not that I’m judging them for judging).
    4.  Never be angry with your lot in life because someone had it easier or handed to them on a plate. Get on with what you have.
    5. Don’t sweat the small stuff don’t be offended by anything other than a serious threat, don’t have a nervy B if a household appliance breaks or your car gets scratched.
    6. Eat well and consider natural adaptogen

    “Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.” 

     Epictetus, The Art of Living 

    Experience is the best form of knowledge, reading is different but still highly valuable. I try and read books when I can, but I listen to audio books more nowadays and watch animated book summaries (or just listen to them in work if I’m doing something dull).

    If you’re interested  – you can listen/watch Ted Talks here or on youtube

    IF

    Go Light, except on bench & deadlifts

    One thing I’m pondering at the moment is whether or not you should make an effort to fit in, with work colleagues etc.

    People seem to like your company if you match their energy levels & mood. So for example, 2 negative people will get on well, whereas a negative person & a positive, energetic person, will not.

    Another great book summary I’ve just stumbled upon:

    • Set your intention for every transition during the day.
      For example, when you arrive home from work think to yourself
      “What emotions & thoughts & energy do I want to bring into my family home”
      Then reset with these new positive thoughts & attitude and release any tension from your body.
      When you go to a meeting in work you might want to release tension and bring enthusiasm, patience & curiosity
    • To stay motivated think of 1 person who will benefit from your work. Maybe you have a boring task to do in work, think of 1 person who may benefit from your task, picture them and how a good job may help them.

    Stuff Not To Do

    • Constantly bring conversations back to you, to talk about yourself
    • Give in/roll over for people & then complain about them taking advantage
    • Don’t disempower people, then complain that they’re lazy

    Correcting Hunched Shoulders From Working at Desk All Day

     

    Quick post on this which I will update at a later date…

     

    Take a muscle relaxant like Magnesium glycinate

    All magnesium is good for relaxing tense muscles, but glycinate is the only form which won’t give you the trots in high doses. It can make you sleepy, so take it in the evenings.

     

    Stretch your Chest

    The easiest way to stretch your chest is against a door frame, take a look at the video below for some ideas

    Band Exercises

    Maintain or increase your range of movement with band exercises. You use it or lose it with flexibility.

     

    Rear Delt Flyes

    Perform slowly with a squeeze and hold at the top of the movement

     

    Invest in a Foam Roller

    Lacrosse or cricket balls are good too for getting into particularly tight spots.

     

    Hip Flexor Stretches

    If you have hunched shoulders, there is a good chance that you have tight hip flexors and a titled pelvis from sitting down all day.
    Make sure to stretch your hip flexors every day!

    The reverse hyper machine is also excellent for correcting poor posture. It decompresses the spine and promotes blood supply to the lower back. The motion of extending the hips is also good for poor posture which results from sitting down all day.

    Redirects – Check All URLs end with a slash

    When doing redirects, for a new site –

    sometimes, when you crawl the old/current site you will find a few rogue URLs that start with http: not https: and don’t end with a backslash.

     

    If you’re doing a find and replace job, to create the destination URLs, this can mess with your final URLs.

    Search “http:” to ensure, that if applicable, all the final URLs use the correct http protocol

    Then use the formula below, to check the all end with a backslash

     

    =IF(RIGHT(A1,1)=”/”,TRUE,FALSE)

     

    Excel_backslash_formula

    Lunchtime 25 Minute Workout Routines

    I’ve been working in my latest role for just over 3 months, and training at the gym there most days, but never actually got around to creating an exercise programme;

    So – in an attempt to be more organised, here’s what I shall endeavour to follow for the next 6 weeks –

    2-4-2 tempo = pause for 2 seconds at the bottom, take 4 seconds to press/lift the weight, then pause for 2 seconds at the top.

    Monday – Legs & Back

    Rowing Machine – 1000m

    Bulgarian Split Squats x 2 sets of 2-4-2 tempo reps to failure

    Seated Row – Core warm up – Sit away from the supporting frame to engage core and use super light weight

    Seated Row x 2 sets

    Seated Rear Delt Fly with 1 rep, 1/2 rep protocol x 2 sets

    Lunges x 2 sets

     

    Tuesday – Chest

    Cross trainer – 1 min warm up then 4 minute Tabata Interval

    Chest Press x 2 sets

    Dumbbell Chest Press x 2 sets – 2-4-2 tempo

    Cable Punches x 2 sets of 10 reps on each side

    Modified Fly x 2 sets of max reps

     

    Wednesday – Back

    Rowing Machine – 1000m

    Lat Pull down – 2 sets of 6-8 reps

    Negative Reps – Machine Row

    One arm Row – 2-4-2 Tempo

    Angled One Arm Cable Shrugs x 2 sets

     

    Thursday – Shoulders

    Cross Trainer – 5 minutes

    Single Arm Shoulder Press 2 sets of 8-12 reps

    Single Arm Shoulder Press 1 set of eccentric reps

    Shrugs / Upright row – 2 sets of 10-12 reps

    Hindu Press ups x 1 set of max reps

     

    Friday – Stability Ball Workout

    Core Ball Workout

    Press ups x 2 sets

    Reverse Hyperextensions x 2 sets

    One arm row x 2 sets

    Hamstring curls x 2 sets

    Pikes x 2 sets

    Plank x 2 sets

     

    Martial Arts Techniques to drill in between sets

    Guard framing

    Double leg ‘rotation’ to finish takedown

    Chest to Chest Guard Sweep

    Wizzer Throw to Ankle pick

    Wrist control to ankle pick – pull back on right arm and then ankle pick right foot/ankle

    Front Kicks

    Side Kicks