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My Best Birthday Ever

I’m 41 today. Thank you all ahead of time for your birthday wishes. Chances are you’re reading this and I’m out waist deep in a river right now fishing for big trout. The power of wordpress scheduling.

I wanted to post today a recap of what happened to me last year on my birthday. I posted it on Facebook, but didn’t blog it for some reason and I think it needs to be shared. So here’s what happened last year.

I needed to run down to the local convenience store to pick up some ice and other assorted things. I arrived at the store and bought my items. But when I was walking out of the store, an older lady (probably in her 70’s) was asking the store clerk if he could give her a ride back home. She looked very confused.

The store clerk had to tell her that he couldn’t leave the store. He looked annoyed at this old crazy lady bugging him. The lady was confused. She was saying that her husband was supposed to come and pick her up but he must have forgotten. She had walked to the store she said, and now she had three big bags of things to carry home, but her husband wasn’t there. She needed a ride. Oh, and she didn’t know where she lived exactly.

I chatted with her for a minute in the store and tried to determine what was going on. Was she just crazy? Was she some kind of wacko? Or maybe, just maybe, she was just an older lady with some mental issues who needed some help? She obviously had gotten to the store on her own, so she must live close. The pizza place that I worked for and delivered 20-years ago in high school was right next door, and I grew up in this neighborhood, so I knew where I was going and I was pretty sure I could find her house, I hoped.

I grabbed her bags and told her I’d take her home and we’d find her house. She was very happy. I got her into my SUV and put her bags in the back and we pulled out of the store lot. She pointed me West, up the hill on Hillside Road. I drove slow, and she looked out the window trying to find her house.

As I drove, we chatted. I asked her if she knew my parents, she didn’t. I asked her what color her house was, she didn’t know. I asked her how far it was, she didn’t know. Then in nervous chatter I told her it was my birthday.

Just then she let out a big “happy birthday!” And then, she started to sing to me in my car. She proceeded to sing very nicely the most beautiful happy birthday song I had ever heard. I almost wanted to clap when she was done it was that good. The only thing I could keep thinking to myself was that what a wonderful person this is and how I was lucky to have run into her and help her.

I thanked her for the song and we kept driving and looking. In another half mile up the street she blurted out “that’s it, on the right!” I pulled into her driveway, or at least I hoped it was her driveway, and I got out and started to get her bags.

Just then her husband, who was also an older gentleman came walking to the car. The lady got out and started speaking to him. I stood there with her bags in hand as she explained to the man that I had given her a ride back from the store. He seemed confused as well, but very grateful. He took the bags and shook my hand and thanked me. She did the same and again told me happy birthday. Then she went into the house.

The man was so happy that his wife was home safe. I told him I was heading home to my family to make dinner and that we were having an outdoor fire and smores with the kids. He then motioned to the large stack of wood under the nearest pine tree and said I could take all that I could carry for my fire. At first I refused, but he insisted. So I gladly loaded a few logs into the back of my car and thanked him for the wood and left.

On the way home I noticed I had a huge smile on my face. It wasn’t that I was proud of myself for helping someone in need. But rather, how lucky I was to have the opportunity to actually help someone who needed my help. Damn that felt good. But also, and more importantly, I was reminded of how lucky I was to have a family and everything that I was blessed to have in my life.

Best birthday ever.

Here’s my request to you today. Go out of your way to help someone who needs it. Do it in your own way, at any level you want, but just do something. Thanks for letting me share my best birthday ever.

It Was Never About The Money (12 Days left)

Jim For Life only has 12 days left for that specific crowdfunding campaign. As you can see, we’ve raised just over $1,300 for the project, from just over 100 people. Not impressive at all, right? Wrong!

It was never about the money raised. It was about reaching new people. It was about trying something new.

I will not measure the success or failure of this project on the money. Heck, if I did why would I have made it only $1.00 to be part of it? As I said in the Jim For Life marketing material, the only reason I did a crowdfunding campaign for it was because I wanted to get more attention to help spread the word more.

And it worked. Big time. I’ve been contacted by all kinds of bloggers and media people who are watching the project and ready to write about it. I’ve been contacted by tons of authors and entrepreneurs who want to learn more about crowdfunding. I’ve been contacted by tons of people who want to know how I made the video on the campaign. Here’s how by the way.

Oh, and the entire point. I’ve connected with over 100 people who want to be in my inner circle and who want to get my new books when they come out, and hopefully, help me spread the word about them as well.

No, you don’t measure campaigns like this in dollars directly. You measure them in exposure and reach and leads. That’s the biggest mistake most people make. They focus on the money that comes direct. This was never about the direct money.

We have 12-days left to go to get all my books for the next year fro only $1.00. You in?

Plenty Of People Think I’m An Idiot

Was reading Chris Brogan’s post this morning called “Not Worthy“. Good points in the piece, but the end paragraphs got me the most.

From here on out, your bravery requires you to stop talking down about that which you produce. Instead, just focus on improving the quality of your work. Measure yourself (and only yourself) against the value of the work you create, and then against the achievement of goals you’ve set for yourself (never the intentions of others). Let no external system drive you as much as your internal measures. No gold medals, no ranks, nothing that comes from the perceptions of others.

You are worth your time. You are worth it. Your efforts are yours to judge, and yours alone. Nothing a boss or coworkers or anyone says will ever matter as much as your own perception of your work, and what it will indication needs improving.

For over 10-years now I’ve been coming up with sometimes wacky, sometimes just plain stupid ideas. I take some of them and try them, and some of them I shelf for another day. Most failed. Some succeeded. That’s the way it goes.

But I believed in every one of them. I don’t care that some people don’t get my latest Jim For Life project and think it’s arrogant. I don’t care that some people do in fact think I’m a complete idiot.

I believe in it, and it might fail. Then I’ll try again. But I believe in it; that’s all that matters.

I know my intentions; which is to help people. I didn’t do it for the money, obviously. I’m doing it because I can reach more people. Yet, because of the state of the world we live in now, some people still won’t even participate for a buck because they’re so jaded by getting ripped off and everything having a catch.

There’s no catch at Jim For Life. There’s no reason I should feel bad because it might not work. Judge your own efforts as Chris said. Live your life career on your own terms and see what happens. Be authentic to who you are and try new things.

You never know, it just might work.

Learn How To Make A Video Like This

Go here and share my Jim For Life project.

Or, here’s the other full version of the original Jim For Life video. Same concept, just a bit longer and more stuff.

Want to learn how to make videos like these? All you have to do is go here and share my Jim For Life project. Once you do that, you’ll get access to sign up for the exclusive online learning event where I’ll show you how to make videos like this.

Pretty cool stuff, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you like to learn how to make these on your own? You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars. You won’t have to get fancy video equipment. You won’t have to become a graphic designer overnight.

Making videos like this is fast, easy and fun.

I’m Not Bragging

I had two conversations with two potential clients today. They contacted me after reading my books and wanted me to help them with their businesses/brands. So we get on the phone and I attempt to figure out how I can help them, or if I can at all, free.

The first conversation is with a gentleman who wants to build a large directory site for a certain medical industry. For example, if you searched for “foot doctors” on Google, you’d find his site, which would be a country-wide directory of foot doctors. We’ve all seen these sites.

To build the site the way he wanted it, I estimated it would have cost him about $15-$20k at least. That was my quote. And frankly, he was ready to buy. But I talked him out of it.

What? You talked a potential client out of spending that much money with you? Yes, because his business model is borked. It’s not his fault; it’s just that Google has declared war on directory type sites like this, through both the Penguin update and Google Local/business pages. You see, I explained to the gentleman that if it was me, I wouldn’t build a site like he wanted because he’d be in direct competition with Google, and guess who’s going to win that battle?

He actually sounded deflated and said, “I feel like you just dropped a big bucket of water on my head.”

I did, and I’m not sorry about it. I’m not going to take someone’s money and build them something that I think is going to fail. Sorry, I won’t do it.

The second person I spoke to today was a woman that was in her retirement and had a DVD product she sells online about diabetes (curing it through good health). When I quoted her my monthly rate, she said she couldn’t afford it. Why? Because years ago she took the advice of a person who basically ripped her off for years and drained her husband’s retirement fund and produced nothing.

Sigh. I hear this once a week at least.

So I’m going to help her out by getting her a free blog setup and I’ll do a logo for here and some other stuff. She was practically crying on the phone in joy that I was going to help her.

I’m not bragging. This isn’t about that. This is about how you live your life and how you handle your business and how you build your brand.

Are you in business to make money at all costs, even from people who can’t afford it? Lame.

Are you in business to rip people off? You’re an asshole.

Are you in business to over charge people for things that they can get cheaper in other places? Go suck an egg.

I know you people exist and I loathe you. You may call it good business, but I call it being a complete douchebag.

I ask you, everyone else, what’s your reason for being in business? Mine is to help people. Plain and simple. To teach them and guide them and see them succeed.

What about you?

Jim For Life – Why Give Away My Content For A Buck?

This is the dumbest, or smartest thing I have ever done. Probably the former. Please watch the video below, and then visit www.jimforlife.com to participate. Then read below for my thoughts on why I’m doing this.

Why Would You Give Away Your Stuff For A Buck, Jim?

You have to be able to try new things and take chances if you want to find success on the Web. As I’ve always said, if you want to be remarkable, you have to DO something remarkable. The Jim For Life project is a concept I came up with about six months ago. I was sitting around thinking about how I could find ways to reach more people outside of my circle of fans/friends/customers.

You see, we all have a certain number of true fans that we reach. Those people will always buy your stuff and that’s great, but, the key to growing is to find the people outside of that circle. So how do you reach those people? You either advertise to them, or create content they need, or do something viral, or spend years and years building new connections.

Or, you develop a stronger insider circle of people (true fans) and let them help spread the word about you, for you.

I’ve been fascinated with the 1,000 true fans manifesto written by Kevin Kelly since it came out a few years ago. Just like Chris Brogan, I think it’s a very smart theory.

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

We’re all content creators of some kind. We all have fans of some kind. We need those fans to help us drive awareness about us to their circles, and so on, over and over.

Back to the question you all have: Why give away your stuff for a buck?

It’s not about making a buck off of someone. Even if 1,000 people pledged to the project, I’d only make $1,000 a year. That’s not significant money for me or for you probably. This isn’t about making money monthly. This is about building fans and reach. In fact, the only reason I’m doing a crowdfunding part of this is to generate awareness for it. Again, it’s not about making money. Why does everything have to be about “monetizing?” It doesn’t. Sometimes you just gotta do what you need to do to help people.

Here’s the scenario I imagine might happen if this works. I end up giving away a copy of my next book to a few thousand people before I sell it. Those few thousand people read the book, leave me a review (which is invaluable), like the book, and then hopefully share the book with their circles. Again, more invaluable stuff you can’t pay for.

Yes, those few thousand people may have bought my book for $2.99 each. And yes, I would have made a few thousand dollars if I sold it direct.

But look at the bigger picture. So I sell it for $2.99 instead of a buck a year. I make a few thousand in sales, but then what? My sales stop. Why? Because I’ve limited out of my low hanging fruit zone. I’ve reached as far as I can. I need more fans. How do you get fans? By letting them consume your content and having it wow them and help them or entertain them.

Perhaps instead, it’s worth it to me to forgo making a few thousand up front from my true fans who would have bought anyway, and instead rely on them to help me reach the people I could never get to before?

Is that crazy? I don’t think so. We shall see. Will fans prevail? I think so. Do I have faith? I do.

Could this entire idea fail? Yes. Then guess what? It’s time to get up and try again. I believe in this project however. I believe that I can help people by giving them what they need for dirt cheap, and they can help me reach new audiences. A win/win for both of us. I believe that even if only 10 people sign up, it will be beneficial to us all.

Please stop by the Jim For Life project and let me know what you think in the comments. You can also share the project on Twitter or Facebook here and get an extra something-something when you do. Thanks for considering it.

Or, just tell me I’m nuts in the comments. The video is pretty neat though, eh?

I Don’t Care

I have no idea how many Twitter followers I have. I haven’t checked in a year.

I don’t know how many Facebook friends I have either.

I haven’t checked my Klout score since the first time the site came out.

I haven’t checked my search engine rankings for over six years.

I haven’t looked at my Google analytics to see how much “traffic” I’ve gotten in a year.

I could care less how many video views my YouTube videos have.

I don’t check my Amazon sales stats for my books more than once a month.

Why? Because I don’t care about those things. It’s useless data to me. I measure success in sales and leads and connections. Not traffic and stats.

Yet despite not caring about those things, I still get 5-10 leads a week via my websites.

I still get journalists calling me to quote me in stories.

I still get spam and countless other pitches from people who don’t do their research.

I still get asked to speak to thousands of people.

I still get a wonderful network of associates and friends who I cherish.

I still maintain my own business and live the lifestyle that I want.

Something for you to think about. Are you worrying too much about the things that don’t really matter?

I Almost Forgot To Wear Pants To Work Today

I was halfway out the door this morning into my garage when I realized I should probably put on some shorts (not kidding). Why so distracted? I couldn’t wait to get into the office and write this blog post about my wife’s new book out today.

Read below for my special offer if you buy her book today.

Save-Green-While-You-Go-Green-23-Ecofriendly-Ways-To-Save-Money-While-You-Save-The-Planet.pdf-1My wife, also known as MomGoesGreen, has been blogging about “going green” for over 3-years now. She’s created hundreds of posts about raising a family and “being green”. In fact, for a while she was writing as an exclusive writer for Suze Orman on one of her featured blogs. I’ve always said she is a way better blogger than I am.

Today she, and me obviously, are VERY excited to announce her new book is available for purchase on both Hyperink and Amazon.

As an author of eight books (with more coming) I am super excited to have finally convinced her to join the ranks. Writing a book that people love is an amazing feeling. It justifies all of your hard work when you see people buying it, and enjoying it and leaving reviews. Not to mention it adds an extreme amount of credibility to your brand in whatever subject-matter expertise you have going.

It took me over a year to get her convinced to finally do it, and wow, she nailed it out of the park. The book is called Save Green While You Go Green: 23 Eco-Friendly Ways to Save Money While You Save the Planet. It’s a perfect book for the person who wants to finally learn some super-easy ways to greenify their lives. She’s not talking about expensive, hard to do stuff either. Chapter-by-chapter, she gives you simple, fast, and inexepensive ways to save money while “going green” at the same time.

My Offer “Bribe” To You

Here’s an offer you cannot, or shouldn’t, refuse. If you purchase a copy of my wife’s book today, and then leave a review on Amazon, I’ll give you free access to my Write A Book Already training course ($49 value). To recap… So you spend $8.50, and you get her book, but you also get my training course so you can learn how to write your own book just like she did. Sweet deal. Only good for a few days.

Deal? Just go here and buy the book, then send me the receipt to jimkukral at gmail dot com and I’ll give you access to the training course.

Thank you for your support. I know you will love her tips in the book. I couldn’t be more proud!

Building A Brand From Nothing: Sproutar.com

Read below to find out how to win a $299 free logo design contest from 99Designs.

I recently just completely a design contest for my latest website Sproutar.com at 99designs.com. When I started the project all I had was the domain name. I then had a logo made by my internal team. At that point I was ready to begin building the website design when I was contacted by the people at 99designs.com about wanting me to test out their design contests, so I did.

I have to be honest, I have used them before, way back when before I had my own on staff design team, and I have always gotten good quality work from them. But again, I didn’t need them anymore because I hired my own team in the past few years. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I accepted their challenge and created a design brief for Sproutar and hoped for the best.

To my surprise, the first designer that entered nailed it out of the park. I mean really, the others weren’t even close. I could have ended the contest on the first day. But I didn’t. I sat back and watched a bunch of other designers submit entries, some of which were dead on, and some were just completely not qualified to my tastes. But that’s the point isn’t it? To have choices.

I remember in the late 90’s my agency was doing web designs for companies and charging completely outrageous prices. For example, we’d charge you $40k for a website design and build. Wow! Now, today, you can get something as nice as that designed for less than $500 and built for even less. That’s bad for agencies, and great for buyers.

Again, I didn’t even plan on using the design they came up with until I saw it. I couldn’t be happier.

I find that most people who start new brands get stuck on these very basic things. The logo… the website design, etc… 99Designs is a good option for you to get unstuck, and find what you need at a decent/fair price. I would say give it a try.

Want A $299 Logo? – Enter In The Comments Below To Win

99designs.com has offered to give one of my readers a free logo design contest, valued at $299. All you need to do is leave a comment below telling me why you want/need a new logo and we’ll pick a winner the 2nd week of August.

Why Should You Consider Self-publishing?

This is a guest post by Joshua Sloan.

Writing a book can be a daunting task for even the most accomplished author, as it takes a vast amount of time and dedication to write a quality book that people will actually find value in. However, after a book is written, an even harder task awaits the author. That task is trying to sell that book that took hours and hours of tedious writing to create.

Celebrities and former best selling authors have it easy. They can pitch just about any book idea, get a huge advance on the plot and then write the book later. They don’t have to worry about finding a publisher, publishing costs or even marketing, as they usually have a whole team devoted to them for that purpose. A regular average Joe will start with a huge disadvantage in the publishing world and that is just the nature of the beast. However, there are ways that an aspiring author can get a new book published with a minimal investment and still have access to millions of customers at the same time.

The meteoric rise of eBooks in the past few years and the development of high quality eBook readers has broken down the barrier of entry to authors who want to get their material published. There are thousands of brilliant authors with extensive knowledge in their respective fields, and until now, that knowledge and insight has been hidden from the world, simply because the publishing industry was so hard to crack.

Amazon.com has been the pioneer of the eBook and self-publishing revolution, with an amazing marketplace that complements their popular eBook reader, the Kindle. This reader is considered to be the best in the industry simply for the fact that it is easy-to-use, inexpensive and people have access to a whole new library of content not available before. Also, people with other devices, such as an iPad, MAC or other readers, can still download books from the marketplace and read them easily with a Kindle app.

This marketplace is also where authors have found their new home in the publishing world. The self-publishing platform that Amazon.com offers is unlike any other in the industry, since it allows a person to upload a file of their work and have it published almost immediately. There are plenty of other features that benefit the author on the Kindle platform. All authors can participate in a 70% royalty program, which is incredible considering that Amazon will take care of payment processing, refunds and general customer service. Also, Amazon is an international site, meaning that you will have access to people all across the world. Amazon also serves around 50 million visitors a month, meaning an author will have less work to get visitors to see their book. In addition to that aspect, an international author can even sell their books in different currencies if so desired.

The biggest benefit to self-publishing is that an author has the ability to produce a vast amount of books quickly. If a person is an expert in a certain field, it can be greatly beneficial for them and their readers to publish a series of books about specific subjects in that field. Everyone is truly a winner and the author gets the recognition for their work while readers get new insight they may have never received before the rise of eBooks. Finally, for those that dream of being on the New York Times Best Seller’s List, self-publishing may be the best way to start out. If a person can build a name for themselves online and show they can create really good books that people love, publishers may be more open to inking them to a big deal later on. Start small, dream big and work your way to the success that you deserve.

Jim’s agency Digital Book Launch helps businesses and brands write and market books for the purpose of sales, leads and publicity. Have an idea for a book? Contact Jim to talk about it.