The Search For ‘Curiosity Searchers’ Continues

The biggest challenge with getting the right people on board while a project is in development is being to show them something tangible.

 

When I started pitching the idea of doing a series that focused on activities that could help curiosity bloom, some of the things I received from respondents were:

  • Which company did I represent?
  • Is the post for business audiences?
  • Where would it be published?
  • Will I link to their site?
  • Can I tell them more about the project?

 

The moment I get asked which company I represent…that is a sign that this person is worried about a possible conflict of interest (and from experience — if that’s a big worry, it’ll be an ongoing issue…no matter how much I address their concerns).

 

Though not having that initial post to refer to as a sample, it was the biggest opportunity as well. The initial respondents that I’m going to include in the series. (I will not readily identify them — and it does not mean that those included in the first few posts of the series are from that first pool of individuals. Though if you want to know if a particular person is….let me know….and I’ll check in with them)

 

 

The other huge hurdle I had to clear was ensuring each group had a unique activity to share. With juggling those that I already had, my strategy was avoid generic things like: ‘play music’ or ‘spend time with friends’.

 

It was definitely daunting, and whenever I felt overwhelmed with the immensity of it — I’d just remind myself that it’s a small number. 365 is no big deal. And for that side of me that worried about double ups — well….I think about that post about the inevitability of duplicates (TBA for the link —- Scott Adams mentioning that readers noticed some of his strips looked quite similar).

 

Though I’ve got my pitch email tweaked now to make it easy for the right people to ‘get it’ — and the wrong people to stick out more. I do have that second step that attempts to help those out who have veered more in the generic territory.

 

 

So if you are staring at your screen reading through my pitch email…and have absolutely nothing. That’s okay. There’s another way you can go about it: take a week or two to test out activities, and see at least one of those activities would ignite those ‘curiosity neurons’ (is there ever such a thing?)

 

Here are some to get you started:

  • Participate in Inktober
  • Get a friend to pick the next film you see. (Okay…you can give some requirements — I’m not going to advocate you going to watch something graphic if those kinds of films are ones you specifically avoid)
  • Attend a film festival.
  • Ask your bestie what would be an almost impossible project she would like to see brought to life
  • Do 10 days of NaNoWriMo — then send out what you have so far to be evaluated.
  • Find a mentor for an activity that you keep rescheduling.
  • Ask your favourite client what you can improve with your service.
  • Use GIMP to produce an illustration.
  • Look for a publication that you can submit your writings to. (Have those pieces that really haven’t found a home yet?)
  • Commission a composer to write a song for you. (Get involved in the process as much as you can)
  • Work with an arranger to structure your pieces for a chamber music quintet.
  • Upgrade your beatboxing skills
  • Take voice lessons
  • Go through your contact list and find ten people who you can introduce to each other.
  • Work on a 1,000 piece puzzle
  • Sell something on Etsy
  • Create your logo. (Maybe you’ll even find the right graphic designer to make it happen)
  • Print a limited run of business cards.
  • Find the next evolution of your wardrobe.
  • See how you can apply minimalism in your life.
  • Sample various playlists in Deezer to find what helps you focus more and get things done. (Maybe you even have a different playlist when you are doing activities that you hate: like reviewing and updating business expenses).

 

 

 

Apparently the Tumblr post I link to gets shut down every now and then (though I don’t think it’s because of the content of the post) so…I went through one of them (it’s been reblogged a number of times that it’s easy to find versions of the post) and thought of ideas based on the list.

 

In its simplest form. It’s to name an activity that helped you get to your next idea. Whether it is the best way to restructure your company during the exit process, choosing your business partner, helping you be more patient with your adolescent kids, understanding a client more….

 

 

Oh….and have you tried boredom? My go-to activity is doing laundry and washing dishes. A way to step away from my workstation and just let my subconscious free while I sort out some suds and make a couple of floormats huggable again. I know that’s more of idea generation —- at least you are left with the an idea even if you couldn’t clearly recall the web of connections that got you there.

 

I’ll be updating this post as each post of the series gets published:

  1. TBA

 

 

Are there activities that you discovered recently that I should add to the list? Tweet it out to me at @LeighLim (Or you can reply to this, this, this, or this)

 


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Thrive And Beyond

As I continue to set free written pieces out in the world. I noticed that sometimes I do get ideas for posts that don’t specifically fit in any of my feeds. So rather than just shrug the ideas off (even when they get distracting, I believe that each time an idea comes — it should be noted in some form), I continually collect them as they ‘hit’ me.

 

One category that pops up every now and then is relationships. I know it’s sort of close to a bit on what is on Thrive, yet I get the feeling they should be curated in a separate one.

 

The next step is to find the right sites, so I’m currently reaching out to contacts (both old and new!) to get their help on finding the right publication to publish.

 

Looking at the stats for some of the sites where my pieces are published:

 

I’ve included a breakdown more topic related here.

 

I can either go for equivalent sites:

  • Huffington Post – 137.67 M
  • Elephant Journal – 2.56 M
  • Thought Catalog – 17.95 M
  • Tiny Buddha – 2.6 M
  • Mental Floss – 15.74 M
  • She Knows – 14.64 M
  • Primer Magazine – 800 K
  • Made Man – 1.03 M
  • Entrepreneur – 18.52 M

 

 

Or next level ones:

  • The Verge – 64.59 M
  • The Atlantic – 40.08 M
  • The Washington Post – 227.76 M
  • Wired – 29.16 M
  • CNet – 176.91 M
  • Techcrunch – 31.32 M
  • Inc – 20.87 M

 

One thing I enjoy about being a contributor for Thrive is how the pieces themselves look when they are published. I don’t need to worry about page load times (or ads that ruin the reading experience).

 

I know I can’t always have that freedom whenever other sites publish my written pieces, it’ll just be a nice bonus.

 

Are there publications that you discovered recently that fit your pieces? Tweet it out to me at @LeighLim (Or you can reply to this, this, this, or this)

 


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The Zone and Flow

I was reminded of one of the optimal ways I can get myself to that place where not only do I have the ideas flowing, I also have the motivation to carry me through the activity (however many of them).

 

Surprisingly, it’s using a REALLY old tablet (until I figure out how to root it so I can ‘up’ the system storage), which due to its age…I only am able to keep a limited amount of apps. One I use often is Opera Mini (somehow even less resource exhaustive than the native browser app) to collect posts that would remind me when it is time to create content (either for public consumption — or for clients).

 

Maybe it’s while having a meal (I’m okay eating near phones or tablets — but not a laptop of desktop…) or while cooking.

 

Does one activity come to mind that just gets you there?

 

Additional Readings:

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Systems vs Goals

One takeaway I got from Scott’s chat with Srini was the idea of setting up systems rather than goals.

For me it makes sense, because I do believe that we have no idea where a project could lead to. So as Scott shares how he just started blogging, which ended up helping him write his book (as well as write for publications like The Wall Street Journal), which in turn helped him get speaking gigs.

 

Systems:

  • Writing a joke a day
  • Posting on your blog every week (even if you’re inspired or not).
  • Starting conversations with 10 people a day (Say you’re hoping to find a friend…who’s closer than a 4 hour drive!)

 

Goals:

  • I want to perform at the Late Show (not really a goal of mine! I just thought of Jerry’s one joke a day as an example — so this would be a related goal!)
  • I would like 100,000 views per month on my blog
  • Finding 5 new friends

 

The biggest upside of having a system (or at least focusing daily actions broken down from your goal) is that I can easily focus on what I have control over. I mean I can’t control the number of people who visit my site, and I also can’t control where a conversation leads. Though I can schedule to write every week and publish on specific days, and find a way to start up a conversation with someone who’s carrying a copy of Creativity Inc!

 

 

A supporting theory was mentioned during his chat with James about no one knowing what a good idea is (so don’t be too discouraged if someone tells you something is a bad idea — unless well…it’s a bad idea…like what Jimmy cooked up during Season 1 Episode 1 of ‘Better Call Saul’ to get the Kettlemans to sign with him).

 

 

 

 


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Clients

An extension of my post earlier.

I limit talking about this particular income stream because I intentionally limit the people I serve in this area (I’m happy and their happy too because we both get to spend significant time with each other).

To get the best results:

  • Think of ways you can apply this concept to your brand.
  • Read as many entries as you can! Because one of them might be the trigger you need to unblock your creativity. (Yeah I know, that means it’s not likely that you’ll end up as a client…but that’s okay.)
  • Read the FAQ (even if it is cheeky…its still informative!) — if we end up working together…that’s a quick download. Definitely helpful for me to know if we can bond over other things. (Not a requirement…it just moves you up the list!)
  • Understand that I really do constantly generate ideas. Really! And nothing would make my day more than knowing that they are in good hands.

Then

Decide the arrangement you’d be most comfortable with when you send me a message:

  • Fixed Budget (Spots available: 4)- only for previous clients.
  • Results first then Payment (Spots available: 8) – I spend time learning about your brand to find action items (experiments, tests, strategies…) to implement. Then my fee is a percentage (35%) of the results you get. And yes, that means if the result is $180,000 over that period…then my fee is $63,000.

 

Though the first option is decidedly simpler. I give my clients the second option because that way, they already have what they plan to pay for…so I’ll know the client is happy — which means the odds are VERY VERY low for a refund. Less admin stuff to deal with, which means, I can focus on adding more value. 🙂

 

 CAUTION:

If you are someone who is only concerned with impressions (fancy website, photo driving a Maserati GranCabrio — so people would be drawn to you) rather than results (e.g. $72,000 increase sales after 8 months): you are not a fit.

Tempted to try your luck to see if you can ‘game’ the system? Well, no matter how you approach me (by filling up an application form, reaching out directly, or even somehow getting recommended by a current client)…in the end…if you are not a fit, it’ll come out at some point.

Ponder this: Wouldn’t you rather  spend all those hours finding someone who is a better fit for you rather than wait for the day that I’ll say: ‘Sorry…I wouldn’t be able to help you’?

Last Update: 01 January 2017


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Don’t Just Nod

Feel like how you were treated as a customer was unacceptable? Don’t worry about being the rare case (if your supplier claims that you are the first to be unhappy with their service), instead keep in mind that if you are able to do something — there is a likelihood that you’ll spare at least one person the grief you’re experiencing now.

Now I’m not advocating doing something like raising your voice (or worse…screaming or calling them every negative name you could think about), instead do something by harnessing that energy towards something that could result in the kind of change you are hoping for.

With regards to that supplier, maybe you can check in with one of the executives — and mention what you went through, and some suggestions on how the experience can be made better for you. Worse case, you say farewell to them and go with your second choice (who now becomes your first choice!) —- best case, your current supplier will be forever in debt…and throw in some sweeteners with your current agreement with them as a sign of thanks…and in hopes that you’ll stay with them for years to come.

One of the projects that sprung out of my frustration of the accepted thinking: ‘you stick by your current circle, even if you’ve outgrown them’ — helped me direct that frustration in a constructive way (catch someone when they do something you appreciate — so they’d be encouraged to do more of it).

Even if I don’t get the kind of appreciation I hope for each time I send one of the notes, I know that each one gets me closer to my new ‘five‘.

 

From different perspectives:

 

Are you in the process of trying to figure out how to harness that energy of frustration positively? I’d love to get a chance to cheer you on!

 

 

 


 

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The Journey To One Thousand

My approach to finding my 1,000 is by thinking of the different ways I could serve others.

Since I have a mind that likes churning out ideas, I’ve combined it with my appetite for exploring things (films, books, music, essays, personal development…) — and as a result, there are days when I am a recommendation machine!

Then to make it clearer which group of people the content is for, I make sure that they are classified accordingly. For example, personal development stuff would be on my personal blog. Artist explorations are done within the WNE Q&A Series. For film comments/recommendations — I’m considering signing up to Rotten Tomatoes. Musical ideas are lumped in my YouTube Channel.

Now there’s the cooking and gardening explorations…still not sure which site to publish those entries with. Though I’m thinking it might work better if I just approach sites I’ve found helpful.
Sounds like a lot isn’t it? Well…it is! And my solution on not being overwhelmed (and avoiding losing hours of sleep) is to focus on two actions that I think would make the most difference. Though I’ve known this for awhile now, the path to action was helped along after reading a bit of ‘Good Strategy / Bad Strategy’ by Richard Rumelt. I managed to come up with those two actions based on spending some time with Richard’s three guiding principles in the book.

 

 

  • Diagnosis – “The Challenges the business or project faces”
  • Guiding Policy – “Overall approach for overcoming the obstacles, channeling actions in certain directions without defining exactly what shall be done.”
  • Coherent Action – “To have punch actions should coordinate and build upon one another…”

As a result, I’ve now been dedicating 5 of my 6 days to those two actions. It’s a pain…because the thing I hate the most is doing things repetitively…then I remind myself: ‘For those who are aiming to get to a certain fitness level, daily strategic actions are required to get there.’

 

Action #1: Do 100 Pitches per week for the ‘10,000 Notes of Encouragement‘ Project

Action to switch to once milestone (20% funding) has been achieved: Send next 1000 notes.

Action #2: Send 100 Q&A invitations per week.

Action to switch to once milestone (20 interviewees engaged enough to have a weekly response rate) has been achieved: Publish next 10 Q&As.

 

Note: This post started out as a comment for this entry. I liked how the sentences kept coming, so I wanted to do a version here! (At the moment of writing, my comment is pending approval.)

 

Are you also on your journey to finding your one thousand true fans? I’d love to get a chance to cheer you on!

 

 

 


 

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Cleaning Up Audio Using Audacity

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I’d be making a guide to take you through improving the quality of the audio you’ve recorded. This helps if you want to eliminate background noise or want to level out certain parts of the audio.

 

After you’ve opened the audio file you wanted to clean up:

  1. Check if you are happy with the volume level (listen to your audio). If not, use the amplify tool (once audio has been selected click on effect –> amplify) 2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Amplifyor increasing the volume output (if you choose this method I recommend you to save the file — by exporting it as wav or mp3)2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Volume
  2. Identify areas where noise (aka unwanted sound) exists, then use the noise removal tool. 2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Locating NoiseOnly noise should be present — because if you have a combination of noise and the audio you want to keep…and you use that as your noise profile…the result would be is that your ‘wanted’ sound would dissappear as well! (so this is pretty important! Just look for areas where only ‘noise’ exists)
  3. Get your noise profile (effect –> noise removal —> get noise profile) 2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Noise Profile
  4. Proceed removing noise by selecting all (CTRL+A) then going to effect –> noise removal —> okay. (If you made a mistake and need to turn back time…one step back…just remember the undo button! or CTRL+Z)2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Noise Removal
  5. After that, you’ll notice that your audio is visually (and audibly!) cleaner!
  6. Repeat as necessary (since you can visually see if there is noise  — even how faint it may be — you can just apply the process as much as you like).

 

* If you are wanting to clean up the audio that came with the video you’ve taken, you can also use audacity to capture it. Once Audacity is open, just select stereo mix as your source — then hit record. 2015-03-03 - Cleaning Up Audio - Grabbing(If stereo mix is not available as a choice, enable it from your recording devices preferences. Right click on the volume control icon; select recording devices; then a window would come up with your current available devices; if stereo mix does not appear, just right click and you’ll be able to display disabled and disconnected devices; once you tick them you should be able to enable stereo mix)

Looking for a way to mix your audio with your video? check out my previous entry.

First time visiting? It’ll be great if you head here after reading. 🙂

 

Video Editing: Adding Audio (Windows Live Movie Maker)

Don’t discount the capabilities of the video editor that comes with Windows! The one I used as an example is from Windows 7.

Whether you’d like to sync external audio or would like to add music to your video — here is a quick how-to. 🙂

  1. Once Movie Maker is open — then start adding the video you’d like to use.
  2. Click Add Music — select the audio file 2015-02-28 - WMM - Adding Music
  3. If you are syncing external audio — you can drag the audio file, until it fits the video. For millisecond related changes — you can zoom in then drag the audio to the right position. 2015-02-28 - WMM - Adjusting Start-Stop - ZoomAnother way to do millisecond related changes is to click on the music tool option, to manually enter the start time for your audio file until it syncs up with the video.2015-02-28 - WMM - Adjusting Start-Stop - Specific Start Time
  4. If you would like to change the volume levels of both the imported audio and the audio that came with your video, just click on music 2015-02-28 - WMM - Audio Volume Mixand video volume. Once there you can adjust the levels (or even completely mute the audio from the video you took) as you see fit. 2015-02-28 - WMM - Video Volume Mix

 

Happy editing! 🙂 Let me know if your video is up on YouTube so I can check it out!

Next entry, I’d like to give a quick tutorial to clean up an audio file using Audacity. This helps if you want to eliminate background noise or want to level out certain parts of the audio.

 

First time visiting? It’ll be great if you head here after reading. 🙂

 

A Cool Contact Form

If you are thinking about the format of your contact form, you might want to have a look at what Merlin Mann has on his site. 🙂

While listening to his episode on Beyond The To Do List, I latched on to something he said — and was reminded of a book I was reading. Reminded by what Mel Robbins said during her talk (“If you have one of those little impulses that are pulling you. If you don’t marry it with an action within five seconds, you pull the emergency break and kill the idea.”), I instantly clung to the thought of sending him a message — and went straight to Merlin’s contact page.

Now when I got there…I instantly noticed (okay…maybe not instantly!) that this was no ordinary contact form. As Merlin has sprinkled some notes for different sections of the form.

Name (A tidbit from DC and how disagrees with it)

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Name - Blank

Email Address (Assuring you that it will be safe…then pulling your leg.)

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Email - Blank

Your Introduction (How you know him. My favourite bit: “If we haven’t met, please tell me your favorite thing you ever made. Where I can go to admire it?”)

* Now…I’m guessing my brain is still on autopilot, because somehow…despite having read that. I still had it in my head that I should put in my message (I didn’t expect there was a next page! Sorry Merlin!)

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Intro - Blank

Message Importance (I really like this one, as it can tell a bit about the person sending the message. Would the content of their message match the message importance they have selected?)

 

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Importance - Drop Down

Subject Line (he hints — and slightly dares you? — that it would be good to put some thought on the subject line you go for.)

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Subject - Blank

Message Content (a limit might be a good idea for first time…message…senders..)

2015-02-23 - MM - Contact Form - Message Content - Blank

Doesn’t that make you smile? I did notice that on his FAQ, he mentions that he will likely not be able to get back to my message. Even with the knowledge, that I may not hear back from him…I still find him likable (Isn’t that great? Being able to leave a good impression, even if there is a significant chance a visitor from your site wouldn’t likely get a response from you?).

Have you come across a contact form that you were delighted by? I’m sure others would like to hear about it as well! 😀

P.S. I got another chance to apply Mel’s advice right before I hit send (the thought was: “this would be an interesting post!”)…and the action was to make a note of the structure of the post. I managed to jot it down quickly — and am using it now as a guide. 🙂

 

First time visiting? It’ll be great if you head here after reading. 🙂