Book Review: Szen Zone: Reaching a State of Positive Change

The Szen Zone MECH.indd

Disclosure: A free copy was provided for review

About the Author

Gary Szenderski is an author, speaker, teacher and branding specialist, internationally acclaimed as an expert on the subject. He specializes in helping people and organizations to navigate change, and frequently speaks and writes on the topic of emerging brands, personal branding and companies in transition. Gary is an award-winning writer, author of the Book of Szen and Szen Zone, often quoted marketing expert, and recipient of the Distinguished Instructor Award from the University of California in Irvine where he teaches branding. He resides in Southern California.

Readers can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Review

Gary Szenderski has compiled a series of short stories of anecdotes relatable to the reader and advice to cultivate positivity in change, remaining present and productivity. 

The books main theme is change and covers topics in productivity, letting go of the past, embracing the future and risk taking.  Letting go of the past has given me something to think about as this is one of my main issues when it comes to me.

I love how the book is broken down to bite-sized portions, made for easy reading – especially for the busy person who is constantly rushing from place to place, task to task.  Each section leaves you some food for thought and contains 60-word “szen” stories, as well as numerous tips in sections labeled “szneippets”.

Overall without giving the book away I highly recommend the book for a great motivational read and for a great start to the new year!

Book Review: It is Only Money: and it Grows on Trees!

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Disclosure: A free copy was provided for review

Blurb

It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees!, by Cara MacMillan, is a narrative that explores how the concept of money differs throughout various world religions and cultures. It also looks at ways in which readers can increase their own wealth through consideration of these practices.

The story takes place in a classroom where a teacher named Catherine has written the word, Money, in large capital letters on the blackboard. She invites her students to help her define what money is. The students propose varying answers, and Catherine explains how each of these different definitions comes from our cultural, religious, family, and economic backgrounds.

It Is Only Money will inspire, challenge, and encourage you to ask: Why am I not rich? What do I need to learn? And how can I change my thoughts and actions?

“This is not a get rich quick book – it is a book about authenticity,” says MacMillan. “When we learn to break free of our patterns and choose to recognize that money is just a resource, we too can become rich and truly enjoy today.”

About the Author

Cara MacMillan is a thought leader in sustainability and financial management. She has the privilege of teaching and learning with courageous individuals who are committed to making a difference for themselves, their world, and future generations. As a thought leader, Cara regularly publishes in the areas of personal finance and investments.

As an adjunct professor in the School of Business at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, her vision is to empower people to think and act for themselves financially.

She also serves as a Climate Reality Leader in The Climate Reality Leadership Corps. This group is a global network of activists committed to taking on the climate crisis by providing training in climate science, communications, and organizing to tell the story of climate change and inspire communities everywhere to take action. The result is a dynamic group of world-changers shaping the conversation on climate in forums from family dinners to international summits and building a 21st-century movement for solutions.

Cara lives in Ottawa with her life partner and best friend, David, and their two children. She is currently working on her next book, Make Big Money and Make a Big Difference, for readers who want to learn how to invest in responsible companies and opportunities.  It is due out later this year.

Readers can connect with Cara on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://caramacmillan.com/.

My review

A very enjoyable book that takes a unique approach to Personal Finance and what different cultures and religions teach about money.  It is very simple to understand and very informative.

Cara MacMillan tells the story from several different character’s perspectives, their attitudes on money and how they are formed.  This makes her book differ from normal finance and investing literature and makes the book easy to understand and the characters relateable.

You get an idea on the context of money in the real world and what money means to others.  This has certainly changed the way I look at money.

The book consists of 80+ pages and 10 chapters of interesting and insightful stories and theories around personal finance and an accompanying workbook that makes it interactive.

You can get It Is Only Money: and It Grows on Trees! through Amazon in paperback or Kindle formats.

 

6 Steps to Truly Let Go and Realise Our Potential

Learn to Let go

If you let go a little, you will have little piece. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. By Ajahn Chah

I recently read a post from Tiny Buddha on letting go.

This has inspired me to write today’s post on letting go as I realise that sometimes despite how much we want something we end up feeling overpowered, confused and mentally blocked.  We have to take a step back, relax and let it come to us…whatever this ‘it’ maybe.  The above quote speaks volumes as sometimes our inability to let go causes us a lot of distress.  This can be extremely distracting, stressful and takes up a lot of headspace when we can use it on something else.  Our burden can come from anything, from something as deep as a past event or something so simple such as quitting an exercise class when you’ve built up loyalty, it just becomes hard to just stop going.

I personally have a lot going on which stops me from being able to devote as much time as I like to blogging.  I attend classes in the evening AND work long hours.  I have been loyal customer to a club that I have been attending for a few years but I feel that I want to use my time better in the evenings.  It was hard to let go as I have gotten to know my instructor and the ladies in class, I worried about missing out on learning new things and as spaces are limited, if I leave and want to go back I won’t be able to and will have to wait my turn.

Leaving the club is easier said than done but what helped was taking a deep SWOT analysis (see below) to the classes and figured out that in a class:

  • I couldn’t do what I wanted to do if there wasn’t a consensus
  • The teacher spent very little time with me to perfect my learning as they were spread thin across other students
  • I wasn’t getting value for money
  • My time wasn’t very well spent

In the end I left and asked for privates which is up to my flexibility and time allowances.  It is more expensive but the one to one time makes up for it all and further more I get to learn what I want and spend my evenings focussing on my blogging activities.

I have come up with some steps that are designed to help you to really let go of your demons and allow your mind and effort to focus on what really matters.

6 steps to truly let go and realise our potential

Be Present – If you have read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, he teaches the importance of being present and in this sense being mindful.  We spend far too much time living in the past, replaying history over and over or worrying about a future event that hasn’t or may not even happen.  If we remain present and focus on the now and what is happening around us we can see that yesterday’s and tomorrow’s problem with no more.

Cry – Don’t be afraid to cry, we tend to feel better after we have let out some tears.  According to studies, it has been shown crying causes the release of endorphins that is our body’s natural pain killer.  Result is we feel better.

Do a SWOT analysis – A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat analysis helps us to analyse our situation and dissect it to identify the pros and cons of doing something.  Does the pros of letting go of something outweigh the cons, are there hidden opportunities?

Take an outsider’s perspective – Put yourself into the shoes of your friend or family member.  What would they say about your situation? How would they advise you?  Sometimes taking on an outsider’s perspective can help you to reveal your true desires.

Be aware of your thoughts – Sometimes our mind catastrophes a situation we go through.  Be aware that when you are coming up to something stressful, ground yourself and change your thoughts to something else or imagine back to a time where you last felt relaxed.

Talk to others – Other people’s perspective can offer a lot of value.  This is because other people see things differently, have more knowledge than you and can point out what your mistakes are.

What are your tips for letting go? Have you had to deal with situations and events that just play on your mind? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

 
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Easy Ways to Make Money Online

easy-ways-to-make-money-onlineSince I am in pursuit of trying to free myself from the chains of a corporate desk job and to pursue what I love to do, I have put together this post on ways you can make money online.   Some of which I have tried and others I have yet to try.

It is truly a wonderful feeling to be financially free and not have to force yourself into routines that you don’t love if you can work and earn on your own terms.  Not only can you achieve financial freedom but it is life changing… and I have yet to experience this! (more…)

How to create an EYE CATCHING header for your blog

3How to create a beautiful blog header

No matter if you are new blogger or a seasoned blogger, having an attractive headline is a must as it forms your brand.  As I am relatively new to blogging with limited funds, I embarked on creating my own with some great tips from Wonder Forest and will document the process here to show you how easy it is.

Having a great header is essential to making your blog welcome and attractive to visitors as well as adding an air of professionalism to your blog. For my header, I use Canva to do this.  I love Canva as you can create anything from scratch or use their ready made templates without needing any design skills. And it is all possible with the tips below.

Tips on creating an eye catching header

  • Keep it Simple
  • Limit yourself to a maximum of two fonts
  • Select a font that is legible and easy to read
  • If you are using two fonts, try to create contrast using a fancy font and a simple font
  • Try to leave the same amount of padding around all edges
  • When adding graphics, ensure that they don’t obscure the headline text or overpower it, they should be subtle, adding to the effect.

I have included a series of images from the process of my header redesign, starting with the use of two contrasting fonts, this is a very simple style.

How to make an effective header for your blog

So I have added in my tagline and some linear distraction and made it in another colour to add a fresh look to the header.  Of course this colour will need to change to match my blog.

How to create an effective header

I have also change the font of ‘Eternal Pursuit of’ to create more of an emphasis on Happiness which is what this blog is focusing on.

I have also moved the header down so the padding is equal around the text.

It is also important when putting together a header that it describes you and your personality. Picking a rounded, streamlined text gives the expression of professionalism and chic in one, with added fancy font to give an indication of fun.

How to create an effective blog header

With a play on colour – my blog will be feminine and chic in style so I like the line being in this peachy pink colour.  However the tag line looks better in black and stands out more.

Adding a graphic, enhances the header but too much black has taken the simplicity away and muddled up the header too much.  This is to be avoided.

How to create an effective header

Adding corner floral decoration has changed the professional and chic impression of the header and has instead given it a feminine feel.

How to create an effective blog design

Changed the colour of the floral but it has become quite flat – too much of the same tones.

How to create an effective blog header

All in all, I have decided on the penultimate version as I feel the variation of colours has added a fresh feel to the banner.  Who says you need to hire a graphic designer to create a header (when budget is tight)? This was also really fun to do!

If you are interested in starting a blog, follow my 3 step tutorial to getting started.  You can also sign up to Bluehost, starting at only $3.49 per month through my link. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a FREE domain name.

So, over to you – did you make your own or would you prefer to hire a graphic designer? Do you use any other tool that are not mentioned here?

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September 2016 Income and Traffic Report

september-2016-income-and-traffic-report

This post may contain affiliate links.

Welcome to my second income report! September has been a relatively productive one in terms of me developing my blog and learning more about the world of blogging.

To be honest, I am still struggling to bond with my blog and still don’t feel like I have quite grasped my niche/passion.

I have found this month quite technologically challenging in the sense of having to learn about setting up email campaigns in Mailchimp, for example getting it to send out email notifications when I have submitted a new post.

This month I have also learned about content upgrades and ways to develop and build your email list. I have only got together a list of feminine stock photo sources and it took me a while to learn how to implement Rapidology’s Opt-in forms. I still don’t feel very confident with it and it has not yet yielded any results because I will need to promote the designing blog graphics tutorial a bit more. I have been feeling more tired and ill this month sadly so time I will spend on the blog has diminished. However I am still fulfilling my weekly posts. *pat on back*

Other things I have achieved this month is I finished my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course and set about implementing what I can from the course. I have not yet made anything through affiliate marketing but I suspect is because sadly, my posting frequency and the lack of time I have spent promoting on social media. I have patience though, fear not!

If you remember from my last August 2016 report – I set about listing some of my physical goods. My Etsy experiment to sell my handmade tablet case has not yielded any results either but I have sold a total of…wait for it… ONE bottle of my factory stock of liquid chalk. I made £4.44. But they are imperfect goods after all.

I rejoined People Per Hour but have not been contacted yet, somehow I feel this is a good thing as I don’t think I would have the energy to do freelancing. But I am a hard worker, a super one at that, so my profile is still up there in case anyone is interested.

Traffic Report

For this month, I have actually put a lot of effort into growing my social media following. I have yet to see the benefits from Twitter and Pinterest as I don’t find any of the traffic clicks through to my site. I did make use of Tailwind and my trial has expired so I am now trialling Boardbooster. Facebook has been great in terms of content promotion and site promotion but I question the quality of the traffic and if they will become loyal readers.

Page Views – 919 vs August 559 (64% increase)

Sessions – 272 vs August 108 (152% increase)

Users – 219 vs August 79 (177% increase)

As you can see above there is a massive increase BUT the crunch line is that I didn’t start properly blogging and implementing my strategies until 19th August that month so it isn’t really a fair comparison but still exceeded my expectations.

So what worked for me was the constant promotion and joining social media groups.

> Facebook groups – I have joined several and interact daily to promote my posts and this is where most of my traffic come from.

> Twitter – during my commutes in the morning and back from work, I spend my time liking and retweeting helpful content. I have also begun retweeting my own content in case there are some followers who have missed it. Lately I realised I could auto schedule content on Hootsuite. I also made sure I have added several users in my niche – chances are they will like you back.

> Pinterest – I still haven’t got my head around Pinterest but have set Tailwind to post a few times a day. I have also added several users in my niche in the chance they would add me back.

So, my readers – I present to you my social media traffic

Facebook – 134 likes vs 6 likes (2133% increase)

Pinterest – 133 followers vs 44 followers (202% increase)

Twitter – 280 followers vs 126 (122% increase)

It has been a great month for growing my social media followers. It is tiring but worth it. My Facebook page was started towards the end of August so the real comparison begins next month.

Income Report

So, I managed to bring in this month:

  • EBay sales – £4.44
  • Google Adsense -£0.21

Not astonishing but we’ll get somewhere one day!

September 2016 goals

My goals for September were:

  • Set up a social media strategy – kinda – October continue to try out new strategies
  • Pinterest followers up to 100 (achieved) – October 200 followers
  • Twitter followers up to 300 (fail) – October 400 followers
  • Facebook likes to 100 (achieved) – October 250 followers
  • Network more with other bloggers (achieved) – I have spent a large amount of time to comment and appreciate other bloggers in the niche
  • Prepare at least 4 posts for this month and if I can get ahead of October (fail, I only prepared unto mid-October)
  • Grow my email subscriber list and possibly set up a lead magnet with an offer (half achieved, need to work on this more)
  • Goals for October is focus on the above and building up my email subscribers list which is at a grand total of 3.

This month has been relatively productive in terms of blog posts and I superseded my goal of 1 post per week. I wrote 7!

If you are interested in starting a blog, follow my 3 step tutorial to getting started. You can also sign up to Bluehost, starting at only $3.49 per month through my link. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a FREE domain name.

How about you? What are your goals for this month? Please leave a comment, or say hello.

Before you leave: please share this post on Facebook, RT on Twitter. Follow me on social media via the buttons on this page. If you like what you read please subscribe below to receive email updates. Thank you for your support!

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Complete Beginner’s Guide to Saving Time with Tailwind

complete-beginners-guide-to-saving-time-with272This post may contain affiliate links.

Tailwind is one of the main tools I use to help me save time and automate pinning on Pinterest. Tailwind is a Pinterest partner and their main goal is to help you grow your Pinterest account. Perfect!  As you may know (or not) Pinterest is every bloggers most recommended platform for growing your blog’s page views and subscribers.  As I have only just begun this blogging journey from starting my blog from scratch – I then embarked on understanding Social Media and how to maximise my time after I discovered how much work it added to my day.  It became overwhelming until I discovered Tailwind.  So, I’m going to show you how to use one of the easiest blog growing tools around.

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Should I Pay Back My Student Loan?

should-i-pay-my-student-loans

Disclaimer: Please note I am not a financial adviser and this article is based on facts gathered from the internet.  If you require financial advice, please seek out a professional.  This article may contain affiliate links.

One thing that has always ran through my mind is shall I pay off my student loan debt? In the UK students receive loans from the government for the duration of their studies and I have heard stories of people purposely joining university just to take advantage of these loans as they are low in interest.  Afterall, it is the cheapest loan you will get.

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Review of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing - Michelle Schroeder-GarnerNote: This post may contain affiliate links.

Before I started my blogging journey, I googled ‘how to make money online’ just out of interest to see if it was possible and stumbled upon Michelle’s, Making Sense of Cents blog and a couple of other influential bloggers in the field of personal finance.  This was just over a year ago and I have been an avid reader of hers since then and eventually was inspired to make a go of it after reading about her income reports.  When she announced her new Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, I was excited and was one of the many who jumped at her early bird offer.
I have to say though because my blog is in it’s infancy stages, I was slightly hesitant as I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make use of it until I grew a bigger audience.  Some of my main concerns were whether it was worth taking at this stage as 1) I have VERY little traffic, 2) I don’t have a clue what I am doing and 3) I don’t think I have enough content; however I am pleased to say that there are tips that even I can put into effect. *happy squeals* (more…)

12 Killer Ways to Write Eye-Catching Headlines

12 Killer Ways to Write Eye-Catching Headlines

Please note post may contain affiliate links.

Do you want to know the secret to making clickable and shareable posts? You know how they say first impressions count? Well, it is the same for headlines, they also count as readers skim over your headlines to make a judgement on whether it is worth clicking into it.

So, headlines are also important and worth giving it some thought too. Afterall, we stumble upon many, many headlines in the wonderful world wide web, so it is important that your headline stands out from the rest. I will definitely be employing these tips gathered from my research and I hope these help you too!

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