Monthly Archives: October 2014

What is a retweet worth on Twitter?

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There are certain twitter accounts that are called, “prolific.” That word means producing offspring which doesn’t seem to capture what they do. These accounts, are either manned by humans somewhere 24 hours a day, or by computer programs, or a combination. I’m not sure what their “raison d’etre” could possibly be. They don’t make money from retweeting hundreds of people per day, and the quality of their retweets is so low, that I would not follow them. I tend to think that these prolific accounts are only followed by people who don’t read their inbox feed — ever. Because if you did read it, you would be flooded with very low quality stuff.

But, does it help if they retweet you?
First of all these prolific accounts seem to gravitate towards a particular tag. One account might retweet lots of stuff with the tag #animal for instance. If you use that particular hashtag regularly, you might get retweeted daily by these human robots or “hubots.” In any case, what I learned, is that a retweet from these guys, might get you seen by someone else who might retweet you again which might result in your tweet actually being seen by someone who will actually read it.

Selective retweeters
The benefit of being retweeted by what I call a “Selective retweeter,” who only retweets one or two things per day is much greater. Twitter created the retweet function so that top quality content could be accentuated, promoted, and shared. They didn’t do it so that every post with a particular tag would be shared. I have found that one retweet from someone selective is worth several retweets from the robots. Of course, it is hard to have hard statistics on this, since I don’t really know where my new followers are coming from. But, once I was retweeted by a selective person with 6000 followers. The following day, I had triple the new followers than I normally do. So, that particular retweet really meant something.

At the end of the day
When the day is over, and you are counting how many people retweeted you, that is not a metric. Change it to how many robot retweets did you get and how many selective retweets did you get. Then, see how many followers your selective folks had, add them up, and then you have a metric. That metric is exposure or reach for the day. How many inboxes your tweet reached. Of course at any given time on Twitter, probably only 2% of accounts are checking their inbox. But, if people like you, they will visit your account hours or days after you tweeted something, and favorite or retweet that special tweet that they liked so much!

A programming company that charges $25,000 per week?

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OMG! I can’t believe they charge so much. Why is this?

I interviewed a company in Florida. They seemed like the best programming company in the world. They assign you a team of four members, and they will prepare the specifications ahead of time of what they are going to do for you. Then, they will work for a week or more and get your huge project done with a bang.

My worry was that if they needed me in the middle of the project and I was not available, what would happen? At $4000 a day, if there is any small problem with the server, you are out $500 per hour while you wait for solutions. What if, what if. I think that if I were a larger company, and knew these guys better, the arrangement might make great sense. I asked if there was any other way to proceed, but they said that was their business model. It is an interesting business model, but scary for me.

When hiring programmers, be aware that there are many programmers out there with different levels of expertise, caution, care, and styles of getting work done. You need to find someone who works on your speed and who gets along well with you. Personally, I prefer to do between two and fifteen hours of programming per week. That way I can be involved in the process and make sure everything goes right. But, your style might be completely different. Good luck, and start saving up for your $25,000 week today!

Think big, but start small in business

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There are so many people out there telling us to think big, and that big businesses are the only ones that count. There is a problem to this type of thinking. The problem is that we all have to start somewhere and accumulate knowledge, technical and people skills. If your rich dad handed over a multi-million dollar business to you upon his death without training you, you would fail without question and fall on your face. I’m not trying to discourage you. Business takes skill, endurance, wisdom, and hard work. These traits can’t be manufactured overnight — you need to work at it. So, it is imperative that you start small in business.

But, what about having big dreams?
Dreaming big and thinking big are so important. Without a larger vision, you are stifling your company without even realizing it. You might be wasting twenty hours per week doing small tasks that don’t matter that much while much more critical tasks are being completely ignored! I personally spend far too much time doing inconsequential data entry for my company simply because I don’t trust anybody else to do it. A week ago I came to the conclusion that I just need to NOT do it at all. Let it slide for the most part. I need to focus on bigger things. If you don’t dream big you will never focus on tasks that lead to bigger things.

Part of dreaming big is to dream about employees
Some bosses dream about having star employees, others just want people who will work, while there is also the type that dreams about his secretary. That last guy will have a disgruntled wife — guaranteed! But, growing a successful business requires dreaming not only about what you are going to sell or do, but also about the systems in place for you to do that, and also the individuals who you are going to hire. A great corporate culture is so important. Also, the lifestyle of your employees matters tremendously as well (not to mention your personal lifestyle.) Part of setting yourself up for success is to spend more time testing out new employees and subcontractors. You can’t make good hiring decisions unless you become an expert at the topic.

Do you have a business model which has capacity for growth?
Most people are so caught up in their daily reality, that they don’t have any idea how their business model would grow. Is there room in the marketplace for growth? Can your company adapt to growth? Do you have the right management team that can accommodate new employees and train new managers? If you do not have the capacity to train new people to do key tasks at your company, then you simply can’t grow. And if God forbid, you lose a key employee, do you have a mechanism to replace them?

What if you have a company with ten employees.
Two are managers, and eight are workers. Those managers are so busy managing everything that is going on, that they have no time to hire, fire, inspect the quality of work, or think about growth strategies. Your company is stagnant. At most companies in India, the manager:employee ratio is more like one to twenty-four which is much worse. Regardless of what type of management:employee ratios are optimal for your company, you need to have some SLACK in the equation for someone to think of optimizing efficiency, growth, and analysis.

What about your systems in place?
Forget about employees for now. How do you want your company to do what it does? Do you dream about having better systems? Part of dreaming big is not only about imaging your annual million dollar income, although keep that thought! It is actually a proven fact (at least with me personally,) that focusing on top-line income on a daily basis raises your revenue. Checking your income stats daily and being determined to keep the numbers up really does make a difference. But, if your company doesn’t have really great systems for getting work done, then there really can’t be any substantial growth. If you are doing data entry, perhaps there is a better system you can have for checking on the quality of your work-force, or a better way of attracting new clients. You might have ideas of investing in better technology to make your work more streamlined or convenient. The specifics are something you would know more than I would know.

Your company will have an easier time growing if you are always experimenting with new systems, new employees or types of employees and growth models. If you keep everything the same, you might find your company to be stagnant, so experiment, and develop upon what got you positive results. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the key to success just as long as you don’t repeat your failures! Have fun, think big, start small, and get rich — then, take a vacation for a while and de-stress!

Is it safe for women to take a cab in India?

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It is safe taking a cab in India if you are a woman?

Many feel that taking a cab in India is not safe for anyone, but conditions for women in India leave a lot of room for improvement. The first thing to remember about transportation in India is that there are many modes, and each mode has its own hazards. Just crossing the street in India involves risking your life! Taking the bus means being crammed against other humans. There is always a risk on a train of being a victim of terrorists. Taking a rick-shaw means that you are getting into a vehicle that won’t last in an accident, and only God knows who the driver is.

Many middle class women in India take cabs instead of rick-shaws. Cabs work for a centralized office who dispatches their call. The cab driver can’t get away with price gauging or sexual harrassment since the main office will fire him if there is an issue. Just a note that if you get a cab at an airport, make sure you confirm that it is really registered with a reputable company so you don’t get kidnapped or robbed. But, rick-shaws don’t offer the safety of registered cabs. I had a female friend who generally took cabs. But, one night she was in a hurry took a rick-shaw. The rick-shaw guy liked her and followed her home. Thankfully her family was home and told him to go away.

In India, women can’t go to parks alone because they will be followed sooner or later. They are not safe taking a rick-shaw. They can’t take the bus without being inadvertently touched by men. India is a prison for women in many ways. Additionally, on the road, there are no safe places for women to visit the restroom which is another huge issue. And if there are restrooms, they are so filthy, that no woman would want to set foot in them.

The irony is that Hinduism is the religion that supposedly respects women. Islam has a reputation of oppressing women — yet, there is no safer place for a woman to be than in Saudi Arabia. If anyone harasses you or molests you they will be sent to jail! In India if a policeman witnesses a woman being harassed, they will generally not punish the victimizer much if at all. I’m not from India, and have only visited, but based on what I call “word on the street,” the government really needs to think of ways to protect women in India!

Think Pink!
I suggest a new rick-shaw system for women, and by women called Pink Rick! It would be a network of rick-shaw stops around major metros. The rick-shaws would be pink. There would be security at night at rick-shaw stops. They could have share ricks going to other nearby stops as well to economize and cut down on traffic. I also suggest that rick-shaws have safety mechanisms inside. If you get hit by a truck you will die in one of those. Perhaps some padding or airbags (or anything soft) would help.

Women only buses
In India, train compartments are by use and by gender. There is one car for those with huge bundles, others for mail, women have their own cars so they don’t get groped, and then there is a men’s compartment which women are allowed in but don’t go into unless they are with someone. Why not have women only buses? That would solve a problem for women. Maybe mini-buses, so that they could come more frequently. I also recommend that these buses should be pink. My final note is that buses are not washed much in India. I think they get a wash every three years whether they need it or not. But, to emphasize the pink color, perhaps a wash every few days would be in order. Women like cleanliness after all. Having clean and clearly demarcated bus stops would be nice too.

Restrooms for women on the road
If you are a woman on the road, it is often not safe to use a restroom in someone’s home. You don’t know what could happen to you, especially in North India. It would be safer to have clean, state-run restrooms on the road with soap, proper lighting, and last but not least — toilet paper. When I say that it should have toilet paper, I don’t mean that sometimes it should have toilet paper until it gets stolen or runs out and then you wait two weeks to replace it if the manager is available. I mean you should always have it, and the roll should be padlocked to the wall so it doesn’t wander off!

Enjoying the “Four Hour Work-Week” by outsourcing

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There are people out there who run small businesses who have read the book: The 4-Hour Work-Week by Timothy Ferriss. It was a very interesting book that gave me a lot of new insights about outsourcing. The basis of the 4-hour philosophy is to outsource almost all of the tasks that you do. You need to calculate exactly what you do all week, how long each task takes, and who you could outsource it to. Part of my problem is that I like doing as much as I can myself, so I know that it gets done correctly. If you outsource without knowing who you are dealing with, you could get into a lot of trouble. You need to make sure people are reliable and not ripping you off.

Outsourcing mundane tasks so you can grow
Regardless of whether you want to enjoy a lot of free time, or free your time up to use it in other ways to grow your business, you need to understand the concepts of a four hour work-week. If you bog yourself down doing mundane tasks that someone else could be doing for you, you will not have time for more critical tasks that you need to grow your business. You will also not have enough time to take a long daily walk and keep your weight down.

Finding the right people
Finding overseas virtual assistants in the Philippines or India is easy. There are so many of them. Outsourcing your bookkeeping to someone in India or locally is also easy. There are many people who are good at that. But, what about harder tasks like blog writing. If you want to find someone who can write viral blogs, you might spend more time searching for them, that they spend writing blogs. As hard as it might seem, it is worth it to learn to be an expert at hiring people to do more difficult creative tasks like writing and blogging. It will take a lot of time, but if you find the right person, the rewards could be huge.

Empowering people to make decisions
Part of the philosophy of decreasing your workload is enabling your outsourced workers or employees to make their own decisions. If you let them make smaller decisions themselves, they won’t be bothering you while you are on vacation or working on a big deal. Your time needs to be spent making big decisions, or creating the rules for making small decisions which you share with your workers. The more your other people can do themselves, the more you can do more critical tasks.

Finding great travel deals while you enjoy your free time!
To get to the point in your business where you can outsource almost everything means that you probably worked twelve hour days for over a decade to get into that position. That means that you deserve a vacation. Optimizing your vacations is a skill that is quintessential to any four-hour work-weeker. There are particular cities in the world where you can enjoy five-star comforts for a very affordable price. Timothy Ferriss mentioned that Berlin, Tokyo, Buenas Aires, and a few other locations offered a great lifestyle for less. That was many years ago, and it is unclear where the bargains are to be held these days. But, if you search around, you can find great deals on villa rentals, dance lessons, karate lessons, and other fun stuff to do.

Personally, I enjoy travel in America and to other fun locations in the world. I am less worried about the daily cost, and more interested in how cool my experience will be. But, for domestic travel, I learned that Albuquerque is a wonderful place to visit where I can get a comfy hotel room for $55. Going to Phoenix when it is hot, I stayed at the Hilton for $95 which can get up to $500 during peak season. Tucson is more mild during the summer and I was able to go hiking every day and get 4-star hotels for $89! The bottom line is, if you have money and time, and an eye for optimizing your experience, you will find great deals in parts of the world you never thought of. You will be using the same skills you use when finding optimal employees who can do it all for a reasonable price. BTW, next year I want to visit Bali and enjoy comfortable hotels at $20 per night and great spicy meals for $2 per dinner. Wish me luck!

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