Networking Tips from the White House

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Love him or hate him, Clinton was arguably the best networker the White House has ever seen. ((c) St. Anselm College)

This week I interview Christine Comaford-Lynch. This five-time CEO not only sold or took public all of her companies, she has also assisted more than 700 of the Fortune 1000 with accelerating innovation. Bill Gates has called her “super high-bandwidth,” and she’s consulted with both the Clinton and Bush administrations. The best part? She never graduated from high school.

I convinced her to take time out from her new book, Rules for Renegades, to discuss one of the most important skills she’s used to climb to the top–networking.

1. How did you get yourself in the White House, and what were the most important networking lessons you learned there?… Continue reading “Networking Tips from the White House”

The 7 Commandments of Blogosphere (and Life) Self-Defense

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I learned self-defense early (Tim, first grade)

I love and hate blogs. One minute I feel like David Weinberger and the next I feel like Andrew Keen.

The beauty of blogs: they give every genius a voice. The beast: they give every idiot a voice. To be fair, most of us are neither pure geniuses nor idiots but seem to alternate between the two. I get stuck in idiot mode at least 60% of the time and don’t realize it 99% of the time.

So the question of blog self-defense isn’t just “how do we defend ourselves against full-time idiots?” but also “how do we defend ourselves against part-time idiots who are probably cool most of the time but woke up on the wrong/stupid side of the bed this morning?”

“Defend ourselves against what?” you ask? Here is a glowing fan e-mail I received one week ago:

[Your sport] shows that you are a hypocrite to profess helping others with your book. You are showing a grave example of the White horseman to our children. Shame on you. Shame on you… Shame. And Wickedness… It is the most evil war on earth, the one for blood spectacle for those who would entertain by whoring themselves prostituting violence to those who seek and lust to watch inhumanity. You are an evil one who has gained the world and lost your soul.

Was this in response to my how-to article on clubbing baby seals? My “Top 10 Places for Tripping Blind Old Ladies” post? No, ma’am…

It was in response to my post aimed at helping the non-profit Donorschoose raise funding for public school teachers. I mentioned my background in collegiate wrestling (and elsewhere mixed-martial arts training), a controlled contact sport between consenting participants. This reader has since sent me more than a dozen increasingly threatening e-mails (BTW, save all of these types of e-mail for law enforcement, if later needed). I suspect that threatening me into embracing the peace teachings of Christ isn’t what good Christians do. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a sin somewhere. For shame! Shame on you! Shame!

One female career blogger I know laughed when I lamented about these attacks. She gets an average of one death threat and one sex request per week… and she’s trying to help people build more fulfilling careers! How dare she! Shame. And Wickedness.

Why do people attack others trying to do good things? I can only come up with two theories:

1. There are two ways to increase perceived self-worth: elevate yourself or cut down others. The latter takes less time. It’s a case of “the worse you look, the better I feel about myself” and a short-lived high.

2. Empowering others involves removing external excuses for inaction. This is threatening to those who would rather complain than take action to improve their circumstances. Their alternative solution is thus 1 above: attack the messenger instead of the message (referred to in logic as an ad hominem attack).

Here are the 7 commandments of blogosphere self-defense that I’ve found to work.

Most of them are adapted from my time as a bouncer, which was one of several jobs I had to help cover expenses at Princeton. I weighed about 175 pounds and the other bouncers were all between 220-275, which meant that every drunk wanted to fight me. There were five of us who were paid twice as much as other bouncers because we never had to throw a single punch. Here are a few of the rules I used, adapted here for social media:

1. The only way to win a fight is to avoid it.

2. Focus on getting your desired outcome, not on being right.

3. If a fight is inevitable, strike first.

4. To diffuse a fight, admit mistakes and validate others’ feelings.

5. If a group fight is unavoidable, take out the leader.

6. Remove anonymity.

7. There is strength in numbers. Never fight alone unless you have to.

Here is how I adapted them to social media:

1. The only way to win a fight is to avoid it.

No one ever “wins” a fight. There is an emotional cost even for the victor in an argument, and certainly in a physical altercation. It is not possible to win a logical argument with an illogical person, so don’t bother. Your attempts will just fuel the fire and cause the situation to escalate, encouraging them and draining you. The best response is often no response, unless they are recruiting more formidable attackers and becoming a leader. This is covered separately.

I could spend all day every day responding to attacks from critics who have never read the book. It would be a waste of my life and I would get nothing important done. I even told my agent in the beginning — as he forwarded me every Google Alert for my name, including the negative — “Unless it’s something I absolutely need to respond to, please don’t send me the negative stuff. I need my enthusiasm and confidence right now for the bigger picture, and reading cheap shots just slows me down.”

Ignore idiots whenever possible. You do it offline all the time, so why not online?

2. Focus on getting your desired outcome, not on being right.

Fix the problem, not the person. Being effective doesn’t require being nasty. One reader posted a comment on the blog calling me a fraud for not allowing him to access the “so-called” bonuses on the reader-only section. This was immediately followed by “If your moderator does not post my comment, I will post it on several sites that discuss fraud.” Both comments were approved, and I responded with the following:

Dear [no need for names, right?],

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had some trouble. Are you referring to the reader-only section on www.fourhourworkweek.com? We’ve worked really hard — there is a team of four or so who work on the site — to add even more extras than are listed in the book. We are really proud to have less than a 1% inquiry rate from those who attempt to register, but sometimes things do pop up, like glitches related to Firefox 2, spam filters for Earthlink/AOL, etc. We also sometimes take down a bonus to add to it or make improvements. More are on the way.

I apologize if you ran into problems and promise that my tech team is really doing their best. They respond to at least 98% of our tech-related e-mails in 18 hours or so, and we’ve made repeated improvements to the registration area based on user feedback.

In all cases, I can’t stop you from putting us on fraud sites, but I’d ask you not to, as there is no fraud here. Please take a second to give it another shot at http://xxxxx.html and email Steve at guru-at-fourhourworkweek-dot-com if you still have problems. We’re really doing our best. Alex and others may also be able to help.

Cheers,

Tim

So, what was the problem? The lead of my tech team spent close to five hours with him, and it was an issue with how he had ZoneAlarm firewall configured on his computer. He thanked the team profusely via phone and said he would post a retraction on the blog. It never came, but the accusations ended. Problem solved. Focus on outcomes, not on being right.

3. If a fight is inevitable, strike first.

If someone is lining up to punch you, there are clear warning signs that a strike is coming. If it’s inevitable, you pre-empt the attack with a loud verbal interruption or you subdue them (for you aspiring bouncers, finger locks work well) so no one gets seriously injured. Knowing that I would be the lightest bouncer on staff at all of the clubs, I fully expected that the drunkest athletes would aim for me at around 1:30am.

The solution? Invite a few of the biggest football players to judo practice for a few consecutive weeks–I was the president of the club–and toss them around or choke them. Word spreads fast and problem solved.

In the case of the book launch, I knew that most people would find my bio unbelievable and aim for personal attacks. To pre-empt this, I put video documentation on the site of the USAWKF kickboxing (sanshou) national championships in 1999, the tango world championships, breakdancing, etc. It didn’t stop people from claiming I was a liar, but those who did due diligence were satisfied. Predict the objections and accusations and pre-empt them.

4. To diffuse a fight, admit mistakes and validate others’ feelings.

and

5. If a group fight is unavoidable, take out the leader.

As a bouncer, you follow the rules of the club and allow in who they want to allow in. This, as you might imagine, produces all sorts of anger in people who are turned away. Simply saying “I don’t make the rules” doesn’t appease anyone, but pointing out that “I would feel the same way, and I hate doing this, but these are the rules I need to follow to keep this job” helps them to empathize and averts most disaster. Emotions run high at the door, so apologizing for an overly aggressive comment also goes miles.

On June 14th, a reader (thank you, Scott!) pointed out a mistaken attribution for the “slow dance” poem featured towards the end of my book. I had hired an intern to double-check the source on this specific reference, but she missed what Scott found. Mistakes happen. I immediately contacted the original author and made the correction that same week for the next printing. Here it is:

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On the 15th, Robert Scoble e-mailed me about someone–let’s call him NBTD (“Nothing Better To Do”)–attacking me all over the web, who was now trolling on Robert’s blog.

Group fights are dangerous. There is a mob intoxication that can drive normal people to attack without good reason. One of my fellow bouncers, a physics graduate student and former amateur middleweight boxing champion of the USSR (this is a world-class accomplishment), had his head kicked in by a group of four shot putters from Princeton and nearby Rutgers. Based on his account, one of them was clearly the leader who incited the rest of a hesitant group to do the unthinkable.

It is near impossible to defeat multiple opponents. The good news is that you don’t have to. If you cut off the head of the group–the leader–in full view, the rest usually regain their sanity or lose their mob-induced balls. I once faced a similar situation with athletes at the door of a club, and as soon as I saw it escalating with one clear alpha-male leader who squared off, I hit him with ippon seoi-nage onto the grass. He just had the wind knocked out of him, but it was so decisive in appearance that the rest of the group dispersed.

NBTD was clearly becoming a potential leader, and I soon saw the extent of his slander all over, but I chose to respond on Robert’s blog because it has the most exposure. Here is part of my response:

I appreciate the skepticism, as I realize that my bio seems unbelievable. I’m a skeptic myself and would probably respond the same way.

I’ll address both of your points here, as I’ve only now come to realize how many places you’ve posted the same criticisms/comments. I would have replied sooner but have been on the road.

I made the attribution of the poem on p. 284 based on the legitimacy of the source of the e-mail — a close friend and doctor. I only just became aware of its use in chain e-mail thanks to a heads up from one of my readers (thank you, Scott), and this will be immediately corrected in the next printing. No fraud involved. I have nothing to gain from making inaccurate attributions other than headache.

For the fighting, please the multimedia section of my site. There is video footage — and has been since the site launched — of me winning the national sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) nationals at 165 lbs. In 1999 in Maryland. I also have a feature article with a photo of me fighting in the May 2007 issue of Fortune Small Business (FSB). I have a black belt in judo from the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan, where I competed from 1992-1993. I have also trained at Brazilian Top Team (Rio) (photos on Flickr), Norwegian Top Team with Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen (Oslo), Takada Dojo (Tokyo), Kiguchi Dojo (Tokyo, where Takanori Gomi trains), Enson Inoue’s Purebred (Omiya, Japan), Yuki Nakai’s Paraestra (Tokyo), and Fairtex Muay Thai in Bangplee, Thailand (one of my Muay Thai knockouts — knee to the liver — is also on the fight video on my site), among others. I now train with some of best in the world of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at www.akakickbox.com. Drop in anytime to see me in action.

I hope this clears things up. Robert, I sincerely apologize for the confusion caused by my delay in responding.

Have a great weekend to all,

Tim Ferriss

P.S. [NBTD], I’d sincerely appreciate it if you could hold a ceasefire on the assault. I am not a fraud. I’m just a first-time author doing his best to spread ideas that might benefit a few people.

Did it end all of his attacks? Of course not. But it allowed me to prevent an unfounded en masse attack. More people also came out to ask him to stop his one-man war. That’s the best you can do against those who have NBTD.

6. Remove anonymity.

Anonymity breeds what I call coward courage. For that reason, if someone was about to start a fight with me as a bouncer, I would always oddly stare at their face for about 10 seconds without saying anything at first. “What the $#%& are you doing?” they’d ask, to which I would reply, “I’m memorizing your face so we can call the police and press assault charges if you do anything you’ll regret.” Oh. That drops the testosterone right quick. Be stupid and you’ll face consequences.

In the world of blogs, pointing out that you have IP addresses often silences the courageous cowards. If it doesn’t, silence them with deletion or banning. I never publish comments without real e-mail addresses, and I have no problem with deleting and banning users. I treat my blog like a gathering in my home. Polite and productive debate is great, but I have no time for rude people in my living room. I set the rules–spit acid and nonsense somewhere else. Allowing BS on your blog is a disservice to your readers, in my opinion, and it reinforces the type of behavior that does nothing but breed more idiots.

7. There is strength in numbers. Never fight alone unless you have to.

Don’t fight alone unless you have to. Take a breath and see if the community will correct the attacker. If you give it even 24 hours, this happens more often than you might think. Even in the tsunami of misinformation (and disinformation) that is the Internet, the facts sometimes win.

Here are a few goodies I’ve mentioned elsewhere that were strategically missed for these entries:

-I gave out well over 300 advanced copies of the book. Close to 200 were given to SXSW attendees alone. The fact that there were more than 15 five-star reviews the day debuted on Amazon is not strange at all. It is a reflection of A) the sheer number of advanced copies sent out, B) the content, and C) the fact that I encouraged people who e-mailed me about the book pre-publication to post on Amazon when it went live. Few people spend much time reviewing on Amazon, so I can understand how some NBTDs would turn it into the JFK conspiracy, but the numbers alone explain how this happened.

-The body composition changes and muscle gain I talk about on the blog (what does that even have to do with the book?) were measured at San Jose State University using hydrostatic weighing and circumference measurements, combined with measurements from the Brooks Brothers tailor at Santana Row in San Jose, CA.

-I was national champion at 165 lbs. in the 1999 USAWKF sanshou (Chinese kickboxing) championships. I was cornered by Jason Yee of Boston Sanda and hundreds of people watched it unfold. I was nicknamed “sumo”–which was chanted from the stands–for my unorthodox style of throwing or pushing people off the platform to win by default. The African-American I competed against in the kickboxing video here was the silver medalist. Here’s a recent e-mail from one of the coaches, Josh Bartholomew, at Boston Sanda, who videotaped the whole spectacle:

You mean the tournament where you weighed in at 165 and fought at 180. The guy at the scale said that if he put one drop of water on you, you would have been too heavy. You won all of your fights on push outs. You had three or four fights — I have them all on tape. I could probably put them on a DVD for you. Dude I have a memory like a steal trap. I can tell you a great deal more about that event if you want. -Josh

Thanks, Josh! And, no, I don’t want to spar.

After winning the 1999 finals — bowing to the judges.

-Chinese TV? Here is an advertisement I appeared in for one show. I am one of the FBI agents, second from the left, behind the casket (looking very serious and sad). This was filmed in the Bay Area, Daly City, if I remember correctly:

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Of course, you can’t win them all. You can’t prove everything to everyone.

When all else fails, just remember what Maryam Scoble once told me: “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” Word.

How Does a Bestseller Happen? A Case Study in Hitting #1 on the New York Times

Last Friday, the impossible happened and a lifelong dream came true: The 4-Hour Workweek hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list! Thank you all for your incredible encouragement and support.

More unbelievable, this week 4HWW is simultaneously #1 on the NY Times and #1 on the Wall Street Journal business bestseller lists.

How is this possible? How could a book from a first-time author — with no offline advertising or PR — hit both of these lists and stick for three months and counting?

The book was turned down by 13 of 14 editors, and the president of one large book wholesaler even sent me PDFs on historical stats to “reset my expectations”–it could never be a bestseller. The odds seem impossible: there are more than 200,000 books published each year in the US, and less than 5% ever sell more than 5,000 copies. On a given bestseller list, more than 5 spots could be occupied by unbeatable bestsellers like Good to Great or The Tipping Point, which have been on the lists for years.

On a related note, how could a blog that didn’t exist six months ago now be #2,835 on Technorati with 874 incoming links and an Alexa ranking of 9,615?

Is it all luck? I don’t think so. Luck and timing play a (sometimes big) part, but it seems to me that one can still analyze the game and tilt the odds in their favor. I don’t claim to have all of the answers–I still know very little about publishing–but I’ve done enough micro-testing in the last year to fill a lifetime.

The conclusion, in retrospect, is simple… Continue reading “How Does a Bestseller Happen? A Case Study in Hitting #1 on the New York Times”

3 Bibles for Developing Clear Thinking and Problem Solving (Plus: Get an Original 4HWW Manuscript with Extra Content!)

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I have this on my refrigerator

Feeling overwhelmed? Chances are that, after looking everywhere else, unclear or cluttered thinking is the root problem.

Have you defined your desired outcome and eliminated the extraneous? Removed all of the busy but non-mission-critical activities that consume attention?

Business books and consultants often skip the fundamental shift we need most often: better mental software. Cut out the bugs and upgrade your machine with these three blueprints, listed in the order I recommend reading them:

Simple & Direct

by Jacques Barzun

(288 pages)

It is hard to improve thinking. It is near impossible to remember and review after-the-fact. Practicing writing (thinking frozen in time) is the best way to refine thinking and upgrade your present awareness. Barzun’s stated goal in this book is “to resensitize the mind to words.” His refrain, which applies as much to self-talk as it does to communicating with others, is: do not use a word unless you know both its meaning and its connotations. Great advice and a great book.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

by William K. Zinsser

(336 pages)

I have read this book more than a dozen times, more often for thinking than for writing. It is a hysterical read and a great example of what it teaches: how to cut all clutter and keep your communication and thinking crystal clear. If you think you think and write well, read this book at least once. It’s like going from a tricycle to a ten-speed.

The Elements of Style

by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

(128 pages)

This is the de facto nuts-and-bolts desk reference for all writers and thinkers alike. There is a refreshing artistry to its bluntness… and brevity. I also love that the New York Times can sum it up and violate its rules at the same time with “Buy it, study it, enjoy it. It’s as timeless as a book can be in our age of volubility.” Volubility? E.B. would have slapped them.

Get the Original 4HWW Manuscript with Extra Content!

This list was in the original manuscript for The 4-Hour Workweek, but it was removed — along with bonus chapters and some awesome case studies — due to space constraints.

Would you like to have 1 of the 8 remaining original manuscripts in the world? This was an early version sent to about 15 people for advanced praise quotes, and even the cover is different.

I’m offering it on eBay now, and I’ll return the full sales price to the winner (minus eBay fees) in the form of a gift certificate to DonorsChoose, the educational non-profit I’m addicted to.

I will also write a personal note on the manuscript and give you 30 minutes on the phone to discuss or ask anything you want. Since I don’t do private coaching and my usual speaking fee is $15,000-25,000 per hour, this is a rare offer.

If you’re a fan of 4HWW, this is the ultimate collector’s item for an unbeatable cause. Check out the bidding here!

The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now

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Is this what your thinking looks like?

[Thanks for the Japanese vending machine, Woesinger!]

Words are thoughts.

The better we choose our words, the more we hone our thinking machine, and just like software, it’s a case of GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Thinking hard is pointless if we don’t use the right tools.

Think and speak with precision. Less is often more. Here are 10 common words I have observed to cause stress, depression, and conflict due to their vagueness. All of them are overused to the point of being meaningless. The solution? Stop using them and find more descriptive alternatives. I recommend focusing on removing one or two each week, even if just as an exercise.

In no particular order… Continue reading “The 10 Most Common Words You Should Stop Using Now”

The Best 8 Beverages in the World (Plus: Maui Treehouse and Wild Dog Video)

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Pocari Sweat, not to be confused with Calpis

I am a consummate consumer in the literal sense.

Beverages, perhaps more than any other indulgence, have fascinated me from my first sip of Pocari Sweat in Japan. From Brazil to Zimbabwe, each locale has its superstar drink, and some are as defining of the culture as the people themselves. Here are my top 8 beverages in the world:

#8. Paulaner Kellerbier (Munich, Germany)

Paulaner is one of the six main breweries in Bavaria, and their incredible kellerbier is the only beer in the world that I love. I generally hate beer, but this is as pure as snow and as smooth as silk. It’s a good thing, too, as bottled water is more expensive than brewskies in Munich.

#7. Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee (Tanzania)

Tanzanian peaberry coffee beans, freshly brewed with a simple Krup machine, are near perfect for curing AM grogginess. The only close competitor for early-morning favorites would be Kenya AA coffee, which ups the caffeine but sacrifices some flavor. The former is more elegant, the latter more brute force.

#6. Portuguese Green Wine (Portugal)

Vinho verde, so named for the ripeness and not the color, is sweet and refreshing, perfect for a hot and humid early evening in Lisbon. If you don’t like fruity wines (think Zinfandel), you might be better off trading green wine for a drier Napa Valley Pinot Noir.

#5. Pocari Sweat (Tokyo, Japan)

Not to be confused with the always amusing Calpis Water, Pocari Sweat is the post-exercise darling of Japan. Clear and less sugar-laden than Gatorade, it rehydrates without causing stomach upset and helps you recover from the oppressive heat in a heartbeat.

#4. Acai (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Acai, an Amazonian berry, can be found on any beach in Rio. Generally served with a dash of guarana syrup for caffeine and a guaranteed sugar rush, it looks like purple frozen yogurt and is delicious with a bit of granola or banana on top. Just keep an ear open for “acai, acai, acaiiiiiiii!” and look for tan men carrying coolers on their hips or heads.

#3. Long Jin Cha Green Tea (Hangzhou, China)

The famous “dragon well” tea of the western lake district is well known for good reason. It is one of the top 10 best-regarded teas in China and delivers a beautiful combination of lightness, mild taste, and immediate alertness.

#2. Cold Mugicha Barley Tea (Tokyo, Japan)

Mugicha is the anti-heat weapon of choice for millions of Japanese and Koreans. It has a strong flavor, but the few sessions it takes to acclimate and appreciate this unique drink is well worth it. It improves circulation and, in so doing, helps decrease body temperature more than simple ice water. A delicious but acquired taste.

#1. Yerba Mate (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Consumed from a gourd, and replete with a straw that strains the leaves for you, yerba mate is the food of the gods. It contains three stimulants (caffeine like coffee, theophylline like green tea, and theobromine like cocoa) and provides an extended increase in mental performance without a subsequent crash. I love “Cruz de Malta” brand, and I credit this beverage with producing my first book. Pura vida!

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German Riesling or real Thai Red Bull? Mexican horchata or Panamanian passionfruit? What is your favorite liquid Epicurean delight?

[This post was originally published this morning on the “traveler’s weblog” Gadling . Digg it here!]

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Other News and Goodies:

Want to learn how I hit #1 on the Wall Street Journal and #4 on the New York Times with no advertising or offline PR? Here’s a chance to hear what I did, step-by-step…

I’m aiming for #1 on the New York Times business list this month.

I was #2 last month, beaten by “Outrage”, which is political and shouldn’t be on the business list at all. Arghh! Here’s what I’m offering until end of day this Sunday, July 29: If you order 10 or more copies of 4HWW on BN.com (NOT Amazon) and send the email receipt to amy-at-fourhourworkweek.com with “BLOG BONUS” in the subject, I’ll send you an exclusive interview I did with Jack Canfield–who co-created “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and has sold more than 150 million books–in which I discuss exactly how I planned and executed my blog launch for the book. This interview cannot be bought, and this offer is only good until end of day this Sunday, July 29. Get your ten or more copies for friends, colleagues, clients and workaholic spouses or children here!

Remember the treehouse and wild dog from Maui I mentioned a week ago? Here’s the video…

Trouble playing the video? Click here.

Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing

Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas

[Ed. note: We’ve been able to repair some links by redirecting to the Internet Archives. Please allow extra load times for these pages.]

How far can you push personal outsourcing?

Can you outsource your dating? I did.

Can you outsource your worrying? AJ Jacobs did.

Reading to your children or bickering with your spouse? No problem. Send it all to Bangalore or Bosnia. Even mainstream media like the Wall Street Journal is starting to explore the basic options, but we’ve been there and done that. The mundane is simple if you can cover the ridiculous. So the more interesting question becomes:

What are the limits — and the most entertaining uses — of personal outsourcing?

One friend of mine insisted last April that there were serious limitations to what could be effectively “outsourced.” What about face time? Not in work, mind you, but in the harshest competition of all: mating. In Silicon Valley, where Santa Clara is called “Manta” Clara and San Jose is called “Man” Jose, the odds are against heterosexual men.

Bets were placed over a few glasses of wine, and so it began: I would outsource all of my dating for four weeks.

Even if you would never consider doing something this outrageous, the results were beyond belief, and the process used to pull it off can be used for almost all personal outsourcing. If hacking matchmaking isn’t of interest, no worries. How about a personal chef for $5 a meal? Just keep reading… Continue reading “Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing”

Media Feast and How to Get on TV (Plus: Winner of the Endless Summer!)

There are three main paths to getting on TV:

1. Make so much noise elsewhere that TV has to pay attention (online is the best place to kick up a firestorm, IMHO)

2. Be a billionaire heiress or pop singer, then either shave your head or go to jail

3. Create and pitch a trend + segment instead of you and your product

Number three is the most neglected.

I once thought that pitching the person and story were the keys to the TV kingdom, but I’ve since learned that’s Minor League. Why? A single person, unless already a celebrity, doesn’t fill 30 minutes on the most popular shows.

The solution is to develop an entire segment based on a new trend or phenomenon.

This is how it looks: find statistics that indicate a new trend, tie yourself into the trend, add experts, case studies, PhDs, and other guests to help fill 30 entertaining and credible minutes about this topic. Give it a good headline and pitch it to producers at the top shows. It’s a simple concept and it works.

To become a quick study in pitching media and creating buzz, I highly recommend picking up Losing My Virginity by billionaire Richard Branson, and for a good tactical guide minus the autobiographical stories (which are awesome), see Author 101: Bestselling Book Publicity, co-authored by one of the top experts in TV placement in NYC, Rick Frishman.

Find below a few recent examples of TV pieces I’ve done — Fox and Friends and Businessweek TV — that resulted from approach 1 above:

http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/4hourworkweek/index.html

http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/4hourworkweek/index2.html

And approach #3? Keep an eye on this blog for more TV news coming soon… 😉

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Grand Prize Winner of the Endless Summer Competition!

With 39.6%, the winner is… Roger! Congratulations to all for such amazing entries. Roger, I’ll be in touch so you can get that trip to Japan you’ve wanted, the coaching, as well as the donation for the causes of your choice. Well played!

The New Face of Philanthropy: How You Can Give $5 Million to Education This Week — Help Needed Now

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Charles Best, educational visionary, at Ms. Shubitz’ Class

I need your help. This is serious.

This week brings a rare chance that expires soon: to give $5 million to education in the US. This is not a joke and not an exaggeration. First, a bit of personal background…

Perhaps once or twice in a lifetime, there is a mentor who makes you believe in yourself, thus changing your world forever.

For me, one such man was Mr. Buxton. Much more than a wrestling coach, he trained us all to be purpose-driven machines. Each of the wrestlers on our 1992-1995 teams went on to enter the “real world” and push the boundaries of the possible: in business, entertainment, and even education. Charles Best, now CEO of DonorsChoose.org, has gone from teaching in the Bronx to rubbing shoulders with Queen Noor, all in the name of revolutionizing education in the US.

Where did it all start? Bashing heads with me each week as we fought for the 152-lb. varsity spot under Mr. Buxton.

The below interview with Charles will show you how to pair a luxury lifestyle with changing the world, how he went from zero funding to receiving help from Pierre Omidyar of eBay, how he got on Oprah, and much, much more.

DonorsChoose.org, which started in Bronx public school cafeteria, is — after years of sweat and tears from hundreds of volunteers — now a semi-finalist in the American Express Members Project, which you’ve seen on TV with Martin Scorcese, Ellen DeGeneres, and others. This is their one big chance, and 100% of the funding will go to classroom projects that you get to choose. In the spirit of “letting the people decide,” they would distribute DonorsChoose gift certificates to all the people who voted, enabling them to apply the award proceeds to classroom projects of their choice.

The margin of victory could well be a hundred votes or less. This is one contest where each person’s vote makes a huge difference. If you want to skip the interview and vote, click here. Otherwise, read on and be amazed… Continue reading “The New Face of Philanthropy: How You Can Give $5 Million to Education This Week — Help Needed Now”

How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)

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The incredible Sony VAIO VGN-TXN27N laptop. This beauty is less than 2″ thick and weighs 2.8 lbs. If I add a few ounces of weight with the extended battery (on the right) and trick it out, I can get 15 hours of battery life. [Update: I now use a MacBook Air]

The name of the game in world travel is being “fashionably light.”

Practice in 30-plus countries has taught me that packing minimalism can be an art.

I returned from Costa Rica last Wednesday, and have since landed in Maui, where I’ll stay for one week. What did I pack and why? Check out the video… Continue reading “How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less (Plus: How to Negotiate Convertibles and Luxury Treehouses)”