Where Have You Been Daddy Brain? Time Management and the 80/20 Principle

You may have noticed that the frequency of my postings has dropped from 2-3 per week to about once per month. It’s not that I don’t have anything to talk about. Far from it. But recently things have changed pretty dramatically, and for the past three months I’ve found myself on a journey back to balance.

On January 20th, 2010 I was laid off of my job.

Wait, don’t feel bad. It was actually a great gift. For months leading up to the layoff, I had been wondering how I was going to make the transition from full-time copywriter to the next phase of my life – a combination of professional speaker, book author and freelance copywriter (a crucial ingredient until the former two professions get some momentum).

Believe it or not, I’ve had less time (and less energy) to blog since I was laid off.

Which leads me to an interesting concept I stumbled upon recently in a book called, The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss. In his chapter “The End of Time Management,” Ferris speaks of Pareto’s Law (also commonly known as the 80/20 Principle), which has vastly changed my life for the better. I’m hoping it can do the same for you …

What is Pareto’s Law?
According to Ferris, it was originally a “mathematical formula he [Pareto] used to demonstrate a grossly uneven but predictable distribution of wealth in society – 80% of the wealth and income was produced  and possessed by 20% of the population.”

But that’s not what I found interesting. The effects of this concept go WAY beyond Pareto’s original intention. It relates to each and every one of our lives – from time management, to what we do with our time to begin with (and who we spend it on).

Ferris goes on to explain, “80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. Alternate ways to phrase this include:

– 80% of the consequences flow from 20% of the causes
– 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time”

Since I’m only able to work about a 20-hour work week (1. because that’s all the hours I want to work and; 2. family stuff won’t allow for much more than the 20 hours anyway), I started to examine everything I do in a day. From e-mails, to how I go about procuring work, to what I actually work on – I used a pair of questions Ferris asked to determine what’s effective and what’s been a waste of time.

1) Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
2) Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”

Pretty simple. Pretty powerful, too. Some of the things I realized were that my hour-a-day online job search was basically a complete waste of time (although I do love using my Mac) – while referrals, developing my speaking career and contacting literary agents has been manifesting positive results. It’s important to remember that activity (being busy) is not the same as accomplishment.

How about the greatest source of my problems? Me. I’m not kidding. I was getting in my own way by letting stress, anxiety and worry get the best of me – and drain my energy. That had to stop (still working on this).

The good news is that I had some well-developed goals when I got laid off, so my transition had a clear focus from day one (if you’d like some help defining, setting and attaining your goals click here, or search keyword “Goals” in the search box on the right).

The truth is, you don’t need to lose your job to make a transition to a better life. Whether it’s managing your time, or setting goals for a better life, getting started now is the best way to reach your destination.

Picking up Tim’s book is well worth the investment. It’s full of great information, ideas and tools to help you accomplish some short-term goals. And it’s a good read. If nothing else, it will expand your thinking and show you that there are other ways to live (and manage your time). For more on Tim’s book, go to Amazon.com.

And remember, you are not alone …

Life is like a puzzle…with a lot of pieces

A couple of weeks ago I bought a 1,000 piece puzzle for the family to put together. When I looked at all the pieces, scattered on one of our play tables, I realized it was a lot like life. Let me explain…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there’s no one clear answer for anyone. No matter what you’re struggling with or working on, there’s not one sentence, exercise, vitamin, book or coffee blend that will make everything right. There is no instant answer. Instead, each day is like a piece of a huge puzzle.

If we focus on placing one piece in the correct place, each day builds on the previous one — just like a puzzle. If we try to put a 1,000 piece puzzle together in one day what happens? We fall short, get frustrated and perceive our inability to accomplish the goal as failure. The thing is, unless you’re a puzzle genius, there’s no way you can succeed if you try to do the whole thing in one day. Simply put, your goal is too large.

When I started looking at life this way, it greatly simplified things. Each day, I could either place ONE piece correctly, or fail to place it correctly. Since it’s a 1,000 piece puzzle, some things would clarify after only a couple of weeks — while others would take years to take shape. This simple analogy is a great starting point to look at goals. (Click here for more details on this subject, or search keyword “Goals” in the search box on the right).

What am I really talking about here? Perception.

We either see a situation as hopeful or hopeless. If we believe we can accomplish something, we will. Eventually we will find a way. If we don’t believe, then we won’t. Either way, we’ll be right.

How you perceive your life defines whether you become a shining star, or a burnt out porch light.

I realized that if I shift my perception a few things immediately change:
– I use less energy being positive than I do being negative
– If I’m perceiving a situation as positive, then I’m more likely to think, speak and act positive. This draws positive energy to me like a magnet (just as being negative draws negativity to a person)
– It makes things better for the people around me. My positive attitude helps improve their lives. It puts them in a better mood, and I’m more likely to be helpful instead of a hinderance

Have you taken a look at how you perceive things lately? Here’s a link to an article called The 7-day Mental Diet. It can help you eradicate negative thinking, so you can create a better reality for yourself and your family.

And remember, you are not alone…

Family Blogs

Loss and the Erosion of a Human Being

Feelings of loss permeate my existence. They often lie just below the surface of my conciousness, occasionally jumping out like flying fish that pop out of the ocean. Problem is, the feeling does not disappear back into my subconscious. And there are more fish than ever swimming around and popping up inside my head.

Loss seems connected to every facet of my life right now. Each one seems to have eroded a little piece of me. And although I’m working on rebuilding myself (the topic of a future blog post), I’m missing pieces. I’m incomplete, which makes rebuilding all that much harder.

What kind of loss has worn on you? Here’s a brief list of what I’m struggling with on a daily basis:

Loss of energy; loss of time with my boys; loss of our two daughters; Grandma Frances; Grandpa Rick; our families in New York (we’re currently living in Wisconsin); loss of my youth; financial stability; loss of intimacy; loss of the relationship my wife and I had before we had kids (dates, holding hands, long talks about something other than survival, romance). Until recently, I had lost my dream of making the world a better place.

Something I often wonder about is the loss of innocence. I still remember when I lost mine as a child. It happened on four separate occasions – all of which involved my father. Am I contributing to the loss of innocence of my boys?

I feel so burnt out. Every week, a little more so, making the week before somehow seem more bearable. I feel hopeless that I will never accomplish some of my big life goals.

But then I realize: these are only feelings, and they’re based in fear. Fear of more loss, which equates (at least to a degree) fear of failure. These fears are a poor representation of my reality. Whether these negative perceptions become my reality is up to me, because FEAR is really False Evidence Appearing Real. This is an acronym I’ve learned, and it’s true.

But knowing this doesn’t make the fear magically go away. I am afraid of loss, and I’m connecting all of the losses in my life to my current situation, fearing more loss.

I’m having trouble getting things done. Goals that, for the most part, should be easier to accomplish. What makes it worse is that these goals, once accomplished, will put me and my family in a better place.

My wife says I’m being hard on myself. She’s right. But you know what? It’s up to me to do these things. There’s nobody else who’s going to do it for me. My family is depending on me and I feel like I’m failing.

I’m struggling. Why is it so hard to admit that?

Beyond all of the emotion, all the exhaustion and the pain, I realize the biggest loss would occur if I gave up. I refuse to give up, and so should you. As long as we’re breathing we can change our lives, we can help others do the same.

So after this fairly depressing article I have something to ask of each and every one of you:

Please don’t give up.

And remember, you are not alone…

Do You Have Spirituality in Your Life?

It’s been almost two years since Daddy Brain posted its first article.

Way back when, one of my goals was to write blog posts about spirituality. But the only one that resembles a spiritual post has the word schmuck in the title, so I’m guessing there’s more to explore.

Many of the issues I’ve written about – including discipline, yelling, hitting, manifesting reality, and giving kids a voice of their own, have a spiritual component. These articles touch on treating our children, ourselves and others better and living life with integrity. And as difficult as these things may sometimes be to do, they’re even more difficult if we don’t have a spiritual connection.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and sell you on any type of religion or spiritual practice. But I do want to ask:

Do you have spirit in your life?

Notice I didn’t say religion, because religion does not automatically include a living, breathing spirituality. Do you feel a connection to Universe, God, Wakan Tanka (Native American), Buddha or some other form of spiritual practice? Have you ever?

These questions are crucial for two reasons:
(1) Being tapped into spirituality reminds us that there’s something (or someone) bigger than us to help us through our lives. In the mayhem of each day, it’s easy to forget that we’re constantly supported. It’s easy for our sprit to get buried. But spirituality helps center and ground us. And if we acknowledge and trust this support – life flows easier and goals are attained more readily.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have to do our part. A great example is the joke about the drowning man. Have you heard it?

There was an old man sitting on his porch watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into his house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came by and the people on board said, “We have to evacuate, you can’t stay here!” The old man replied, “No, God will save me.” So the boat left.

A little while later, the water was up to the second floor when another rescue boat came. Again, the old man was told to evacuate and hop on board. The old man again replied, “God will save me.” So the boat left.

An hour later the water was up to the roof and a helicopter flew over the old man’s house, dropping him a ladder. The pilot yelled down, “grab on and climb up! I’ll get you out of here safely!” Again the old man refused to leave stating that, “God will save me.” The helicopter flew away to save others.

Soon after, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he sees God he asks him, “Why didn’t you save me?”

God replied, “You dummy! I tried! I sent you two boats and helicopter — what more do you want?”

I’m sure you’ll agree the point is obvious — we simply must take action.

(2) If we do not live with spirit on a daily basis, who will teach our children to? I’ve known people who are not comfortable with formalized religion, so they forgo cultivating a true spiritual life. This was my problem for a very long time.

Living with spirit does not necessarily mean praying on one’s knees every day, going to church, or sitting in the lotus position (if you can get into it) and chanting. But these are options that work for people.

On a practical level, “living with spirit” is being kind to others, helping others, doing what’s right (not what’s convenient), living with integrity and being honest. It’s being mindful and as centered as possible (deep breaths are helpful with this).

Our children are depending on us to teach them these qualities.

And remember, you are not alone…

People are Dying to be Heard: an Interview with Ben Merens

Ben Merens is a professional speaker and radio host.

His radio show, At Issue with Ben Merens, is very popular because it examines a variety of topics that have relevance to our every-day lives. As a speaker, Ben’s message is gaining more and more attention because of its importance: people are dying to be heard.

Ben was kind enough to answer some questions about this topic, which should be of interest to just about anyone. No matter how good a listener you are, there’s always room for improvement. We also have a right to be heard ourselves…

Daddy Brain: Can you overview what you speak about at your seminars?

Ben Merens: I talk about the importance of listening to others because People Are Dying To Be Heard. I discuss the three levels of listening basic to all our lives: listening to ourselves; listening to those we know; and listening to strangers. I also stress the importance of living and listening in the moment. I try to help people block out the distractions in their lives that impede their ability practice “Uni-Tasking” or focused listening.

DB: Where did this topic originate?

BEN: The topic comes from my 25 years in the journalism profession. I’ve learned that people all want to tell their stories. I’ve also learned that we tend to take less time to listen to others today because we all feel so busy and hurried. I find that it is healthy to just sit still and listen to another. The benefits of listening are both for the speaker and the listener.

DB: Do you feel the need to be heard? If so, is your need being fulfilled?

BEN: Yes, I do feel the need to be heard. I think we all have this need to some extent. I feed the need daily on the radio but more so when I am giving a speech about the Art of Listening. When I am speaking from my heart to a group of people from 25 to 250, my soul is fed and I am at peace.

DB: Do you have any suggestions on how a parent can balance listening to their kids with accomplishing a task that needs our full attention – like cooking dinner? We want our kids to be heard, but at that moment it might be difficult to really pay attention. What do we tell them?

BEN: If you’re comfortable cooking and talking…go right ahead. But when the conversation needs your full attention, use the opportunity to build trust and teach your child. Teach him/her patience by telling them that you need some time to finish cooking (or whatever else it is you need to do) BUT that you’ll give them your complete attention at … and state a time here. And, then stick to it. This is where the trust comes in. As long as you stick to your promise, over time your child will be willing to wait because he/she will know that you will be available. I don’t think a parent needs to be available for their child whenever he/she calls…but we need to find a happy medium between a child’s call for attention and a parent’s ability to provide it.

DB: How do we teach our kids to respect when mommy and daddy want to talk? Other than telling them, “mommy and daddy are talking, you’ll have to wait your turn,” how else can we instill the art of respecting mom and dad’s need for communication? I would think leading by example would be a good start.

BEN: I think the same rules apply here when Mom and Dad need to talk in private. A child needs to know that sometimes Mom and Dad need time alone. And sometimes, the child will have that same opportunity with one parent. Kids get it. They will learn to be patient if they sense there is justice and fairness in the request.

DB: I remember being told to “be quiet,” often as a kid. I was a talker, still am. My need to be heard has not left me, but I sometimes feel that what I have to say might not really be important or that people just don’t want to be bothered listening to me. How would attending your seminar, or listening to your audio book help me?

BEN: I teach others how to balance their need to be heard along with the willingness to listen to others. I help people learn how to prioritize what they want to say…so they can be heard about what really matters and disciplined enough to let the less important messages be left unsaid.

DB: How do we let them know they have a right to be heard?

BEN: We let them know they have a right to be heard by listening to them. And, we also let them know that they have an obligation to listen. An easy way to teach this to kids is to point out that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen twice as much as we talk. It is a good rule of thumb for adults too.

DB: Dads still struggle to be heard. For too long, we’ve been trapped in a paradigm where we’re not supposed to have feelings, doubts or worries. Many of my readers are daddy bloggers who have found a voice of their own, or are struggling to find their voice. What advice do you have for dads that may not know where to look for their voice, let alone express it?

BEN: I would tell dads to start by listening to themselves. I advise people to sit still in a quiet place and think about what is important to them. If you don’t know what is important to you, it is unrealistic to expect others to hear you. But, once you have a message that you want to express, allow your passion for that message to get the attention of others. People can hear when you have something important to say and when you are just filling space. We all want to be heard, so we all have to recognize that we can’t always be the one talking. And, when we limit ourselves to voicing the truly important messages, people tend to pay close attention to us.

DB: How do we teach our community, family and friends that dads need to be heard too?

BEN: I don’t think it is a matter of segmenting out the needs of dads to be heard. I think we need to recognize that all of us need to be heard. And, just because someone tends to be quiet or not generally forthcoming in conversation, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have something important to say. Dads have feelings too. And they deserve to share them just like everybody else.

– – – –

Thank you Ben, for taking the time to answer my questions.

To learn more, feel free to visit Ben’s site at BenMerens.com. If you’re interested, his seminar is available on audio. You can also click here for more about his WPR radio show. If you have Internet service, you can listen in for free from anywhere in the world by clicking here and adding Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network to your iTunes, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. It takes about 30 seconds to download the station. Then, just double click the downloaded icon to automatically add to your playlist.

And remember, you are not alone…

Little Acts of Love, by Paul Peterson

I came across a wonderful article at one of my favorite blogs, paulpetersonlive.com. I was so moved by Paul’s message, I felt it was important to share with you:

Last night our family took a friend of ours to Cracker Barrel for his 30th birthday. Our friend is from Honduras and speaks broken English (though he’s getting better all the time). My Spanish is limited to what I’ve picked up by watching Dora the Explorer with “The Ladies”. We have a good time together. I probably amuse him with my lame attempts to speak Spanish. I’m such a gringo.

While we were ordering, I slipped our waitress a slip of paper that said, “My friend had a birthday. Let’s go crazy!” They did! After dinner they brought him some peach cobbler and sang a rousing and VERY loud “Happy Birthday!”

I watched my friend. His eyes were wide with multiple emotions ranging from fear to amazement. When they were done and left he looked down at his cobbler for a long time. I saw him biting his lip. I was biting mine too. So was Sherri.

We sat with tears in our eyes. Silent. Hesitant to talk for fear we start bawling.

After a few minutes my friend looked at me and said, “No one has ever sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.” He went on to say that this year even some of his closest family has not called and wished him a “Happy Birthday.” He said, “I will remember this day for 50 or 60 years.”

I have thought much about this experience. What is it about a little thing (an evening, a dinner, a song) that can make adults cry and create a memory that will never be forgotten?

Here’s what I’m thinking, we know we are to love one another. Often we look for the BIG ways to show our love, and because we can’t find or afford the BIG ways we put our love on hold. We live with the knowledge that we should… but we don’t. Consequently we live unfulfilled Christian lives.

MAYBE we should stop waiting for the BIG and start doing the little, and in doing so we may just find that LITTLE is big.

What LITTLE thing can you do for someone today to show them you love them?

Remember this, what may seem “little” to you may be HUGE to someone else! Go for it!

And remember, you are not alone…

Self-Publishing: An Interview with Peter Bowerman, Part 3

Welcome to the conclusion of my interview with Peter Bowerman. If you missed them, Part 1 overviewed two of Peter’s books, while  Part 2 began our
Q & A about self-publishing. Peter is an award-wining author, veteran commercial freelancer and business coach. His books are informative and a joy to read. We pick up here on the topic of self-publishing…

You mention the cover design of your first book as being crucial to its success – in fact the old adage that people judge books by their covers seems to hold true. Can you pass on any do’s and don’ts about cover design?

Very simple. Invest time and money coming up with a good cover. Conservatively, 250,000 new books are published every year. Those in a position to distribute, stock, or review those books are always looking for reasons to “cull the herd,” and the most common way to do so is covers. Don’t make their job any easier. Hire a professional, NOT your cousin who’s “artistic.” As an author, don’t trust yourself to know what good design looks like. Trust in others who know.

Even though self-publishing seems to have thrown off – to a degree at least – the negative aspects of vanity publishing, do you think that self-publishing is still viewed with suspicion and prejudice by the book market. Why do you think this is in a world dominated by social media and the citizen journalist?

While there’s still a stigma attached to self-publishing – well-deserved in most cases – self-publishing is definitely rising in respect and prestige. At the annual Ben Franklin Awards, produced by IBPA (The Independent Book Publishers Association, the largest organization catering to independent publishers), there are always “talent scouts” from the big publishing houses in attendance, or at the very least, monitoring, and in many cases, contacting the award winners and in effect, “cherry-picking.” They know the winners have written solid books. So, the perception is changing.

In addition, I’d like to think that bar is rising, in part, thanks to books like mine, both The Well-Fed Writer, by example, and more logistically, through my book, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. One of my key goals of writing that book was to raise the bar on the quality of self-published work, and judging by the feedback and results it’s spawned, so far, it’s succeeded.

If other freelance writers are considering self-publishing as a part of their writer platform, what do think their biggest challenge will be with the process?

Well, whether you’re self-publishing or conventionally publishing, everyone starts in the same place: coming up with a topic that’s marketable. Using my books as an example, I knew there was a market for a book (The Well-Fed Writer) offering a complete blueprint for starting your own lucrative writing business (as opposed to another simply straight “freelance writing” book – most of which discuss avenues of dubious financial potential).

Ditto with The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, a book offering a complete blueprint for profitably self-publishing your book. Not just telling you how to self-publish, but (as my subtitle – accurate, mind you – promises), how to indeed turn one book into a full-time living. And that’s the key – you have to make sure you separate yourself from the pack somehow.

And of course, for many writers, the biggest challenge will be “MARKETING.” The very word is enough to terrorize writers, but having come from that background, I have been able, in my books, to demystify those often-scary concepts so they’ll work for you not against you.

Do you have any favorite self-publishing resources that other writers may want to consider?

Well, the book that inspired me (and thousands of others), of course, is Dan Poynter’s, The Self-Publishing Manual. This guy is the godfather of self-publishing, started doing it back in 1977 (hard to imagine…), and has updated the book a zillion times since.

John Kremer’s, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, is another classic. A ton of great ideas. But know that John will be the first to tell you that you can only do 4-5 really well!

Brian Jud – Beyond the Bookstore, for those books that have “special sale” potential (i.e., can be sold in large quantities to different entities).

Shel Horowitz’s Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers.

These are the ones that come to mind.

– – – –

Thank you, Peter, for taking the time to talk (or in this case type) with Daddy Brain. If you’d like to learn more about either of Peter’s books just click the appropriate title:

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And remember, you are not alone…

Related Links:
Putting Your Passion Into Print: Get Your Book Published Successfully

Self-Publishing: An Interview with Peter Bowerman, Part 2

Peter Bowerman is an award-wining author, veteran commercial freelancer and business coach. He’s written two of my favorite books, which remarkably are not about being a dad! Peter’s books are about making a living by writing: specifically freelance copywriting (The Well-Fed Writer), and self-publishing (The Well-Fed Self Publisher).

Part 1 of this series overviewed both books. Part 2 focuses specifically on self-publishing. Peter was kind enough to answer some questions on the subject. I hope you find them helpful…

Can you outline why you got into self-publishing with your first book? Why not take this to a traditional publishing house?

The short answer, I suppose (only half-joking…) is that I’m a control freak at heart! But, seriously, I’m not sure what gave me the sense that I could do it (since I had zero experience in publishing of any kind), but what I WAS sure of was that the “deal” being offered by traditional publishing houses was no prize: You give up the rights, control of the creative process, control of the timetable and almost all the profits. And then you’re still expected to do most of the marketing yourself. And if anything, that scenario has gotten worse for authors since then.

An author with a $20 retail book like mine might make $1 a book through a publisher. Even on the low end (i.e., through the bookstores and Amazon, where you’re giving up 55% of your retail out of the gate), I’ll still make 4-5 times that. Sales on my own site? I can net $14 or so. And that doesn’t even count the potential to market companion ebook products to web site buyers – that they’ll purchase along with the hard-copy book, and which represent pure profit – often $20-30 more, on top of the profit on the hard book. I’ve that quite successfully with both my last two books.

Looking back at the experience of self-publishing the first edition of the Well Fed Writer, what key advice would you give to new aspiring self-publishers?

Let me preface my remarks here with this: my experience is in non-fiction, and specifically, non-fiction “how-to,” so this is the only book genre I can speak about authoritatively. Fiction is a different ballgame – though, that said, many fiction authors have applied my strategies with good success.

Whether you’re self-publishing or conventionally publishing, the first step is crucial: come up with a topic that’s marketable. Using my books as an example, I knew there was a market for a book (The Well-Fed Writer) offering a complete blueprint for starting your own lucrative writing business (as opposed to another simply straight “freelance writing” book – most of which discuss avenues of dubious financial potential).

Ditto with The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, offering a complete blueprint for profitable self-publishing. Not just telling you how, logistically, to self-publish, but (as my subtitle promises), how to turn one book into a full-time living. You have to separate yourself from the pack. If there are already 20 books on your subject, does the world need a 21st and if so, what makes yours better in ways that’ll mean something to a buyer?

Just as crucially, is this: Write a Really Good Book. I had an epiphany recently that this is THE #1 most important marketing strategy any self-publisher can employ. Write a really good book, one that’s better than it has to be – well-written, well-produced, topical, comprehensive, useful – and you’ll make your ongoing marketing infinitely easier. Why? Because you’ll have precious and powerful word-of-mouth advertising going for you. ,

For many writers, the biggest challenge will be “MARKETING.” The very word is enough to terrorize creative types, but know that it’s not nearly as scary as it first seems. Having come from that background, I’ve been able, in my books, to demystify those often-scary concepts so they’ll work for you, not against you.

Finally, many people fail as self-publishers because they forget that first and foremost, that this is a business and you need to bring rigor to the running of it. Be committed to excellence, reliability and service, and you’ll do fine.

With the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently when you published your first book? What pitfalls do you now avoid?

I was rushing to get it done, having pre-sold 1,000 copies to Writer’s Digest Book Club, and I proofed it myself. BIG mistake. I cringe when I think of how many errors were in that first edition. Thank goodness the first run sold out relatively quickly and I could get the next printing right. Other than that, believe it or not, I actually didn’t make any major blunders the first go-round.

– – – –

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series, which completes the interview. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about either of Peter’s books just click the appropriate title:

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And remember, you are not alone…

Related Links:
Putting Your Passion Into Print: Get Your Book Published Successfully

A Book Review & Interview: Peter Bowerman, The Well-Fed Writer

Peter Bowerman is an award-wining author, veteran commercial freelancer and business coach. He’s written two of my favorite books, which remarkably are not about being a dad! Peter’s books are about making a living by writing: specifically freelance copywriting (The Well-Fed Writer), and self-publishing (The Well-Fed Self Publisher).

I’m highlighting Peter’s books because they might prove helpful if you happen to be looking for a new career path, a flexible (good paying) second income, or if you’ve been contemplating writing a book…

Copywriting: A Little Backstory
The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less, helped me launch my career as a professional copywriter* almost eight years ago. It’s a book my wife discovered, but of course I was too cheap to buy it. One night as we walked by Barnes and Noble, she informed me that we were going inside the store and we were buying the book. Within a month, I had completed my first copywriting job and was paid $400 for less than 8 hours work. Not a bad deal.

*Note: In case you’re wondering, a copywriter is someone who writes copy (words) for catalogs, ad campaigns, press releases, etc. It has nothing to do with the “copyright” you see on books and music.

Quick Synopsis: The Well-Fed Writer, newly released, is the updated compilation of Bowerman’s two original WFW titles: the 2000 award-winning Book-of-the-Month Club selection of the same name, and the 2004 triple-award-finalist companion volume, TWFW: Back For Seconds. Bowerman bills the book as, “a detailed how-to guide to help writers start a lucrative commercial freelancing practice: writing for businesses and creative agencies, and for hourly rates of $50-125+.”

More Interested in Self-Publishing?
The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living, is a book I’m currently reading (you could even say studying). I’ve been writing a book of my own, and until a few months ago knew nothing about the business, let alone my options. Whether you ultimately decide to self-publish or go the traditional route and work with a publisher, this book is chock-full of information & insight that you need to know. It covers every facet of the book publishing process — making it a must read for anyone who’s serious about developing a successful book.

Quick Synopsis: Landing a publisher has never been more difficult. Yet, seeing one’s labor of love in print remains a dream for so many, even if it’s achieved by so few. But a new book, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living, offers up another option to the legions of authors brooding over stacks of publishing company rejection letters. Its message: Publish it yourself and make a living from it.

In the next installment of this series I’ll talk with Peter about self-publishing. If you’re thinking of going from electronic media to the printed page (or e-books and CD books for that matter), it’s an opportunity to gain some insight.

To learn more about either of Peter’s books just click the appropriate title:

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And remember, you are not alone…

Can a Smile Transform Your Life?

I’ve seen this commercial a few times now, and every time I see it I wonder:

Why can’t I be more like this dad? Why don’t I smile more?

Look, I know the guy is probably an actor, but it’s a valid question. Most days I find myself struggling in some way. Issues like exhaustion, finances, work, my family’s health, and isolation have a way of taking their toll. We all have our own struggles, but I am tired of mine all to often defining how I act – especially because how I’m acting is not true to who I am.

I have been stuck in reacting vs. responding for far too long.

No matter what the situation – is fretting, stressing or lamenting going to fix anything? Or make it worse? I’m determined to adopt this habit of smiling (and enjoying life more) into my existence.

In many ways, I’m setting a good example for my boys. But I have room for improvement on this one.

And remember, you are not alone…