Forefront Conference 2017 Recap + Notes.

A couple of weeks ago I attended Ramit Sethi’s Forefront Conference in Chicago.

Who is Ramit Sethi? He’s personal finance blogger/online business guru I’ve been following for quite some time:  since 2010 as a matter of fact. Check out growthlab.com

He’s my savvy older Indian American brother berating me to be a top performer.  And I love it.

This is a quick re-cap of Forefront 2017 + all my notes: It was fun!

Ramit opened up the conference with these 3 huge bullets:

  1. Stories we’re told
  2. Stories we believe
  3. Stories we Change.

Main message: You can rewrite your story and you should rewrite your story. Being Weird is Cool.

3 take aways to Re-write your story:

  1. What if you decide to challenge that notion you’re bad with girls, or a people pleaser or can’t say no. What if you made 5 new friends? or think of 5 new ideas? Or be business consultant/coach to others (need to work on this story for myself)  Is that permanent?
  2. Make yourself the hero of the story and have fun doing it.
  3. Focus on the present + future.

He talked about four ways to experience a football game:

  1. Read about it afterward in the paper
  2. Watch it on TV
  3. Watch it in person at the game.
  4. Be an actual player in the game.What’s keeping you on the couch and preventing you from joining the game (creating an online business)?

I love this growth mindset as it’s 100 percent in tune with my beliefs. You can be a top performer. It all depends on the stories you believe and change. He also went into problems he had growing his business – I was shocked to hear this – but loved his candour. He mentioned having more FUN vibe was what made his business great – wants to get that back.

He gave us some personal anecdotes that will stay in Forefront.

Gretchen Rubin Keynote:

Main message: there are 4 types of people in life (based on her new book Four Tendencies) 

  • Upholder -someone who likes things done in a certain way. Always has a organized google calendar etc. Doesn’t like spontaneous.
  • Questioner – they want customization to their needs.
  • Obliger – the rock of the world – get along with everyone. However, they’e people who meet outer expectations but fail to meet inner expectations.
  • Rebel – want to promote their authentic self, identity focused, love to perform.  Need to be given the information, but not told an agenda – cos they won’t follow the rules.

I found this all simplistic since I am all four.  BUT as she continued speaking and answering questions from the audience I started to think I was a rebel.

My friends (who’ve known me for a few years) at the conference mentioned I am an Obliger. Interesting. Will have to take the online quiz. However I hate quizzes – all these IQ tests, Myers Briggs all seem bullshit to me.

I do find this interesting in determining hidden patterns in people, not necessarily labelling people in 4 categories.  Understand how your clients respond to internal and external expectations, and how you can better serve them. 

I remember her mentioning off hand to audience member the book ” The Nature of Fame”.

Shawn Achor keynote:

His speech was the best. Think the hilarious personality of Ryan Reynolds mixed in with happy science facts/data. Yes, that subject actually exists : the science of happiness.

He knows how convey information that makes you want to listen and learn – perfect anecdote after drinking at the Museum of Science the night before.

Key message: You are most successful when you are happy.

We also think happiness is individual focused when in reality, everything is interconnected.

The same way people are extroverted with an extroverted crowd.

Personality changes in a room. Introverts become more introverts in a introvert room. 

Happiness is the joy you feel when you’re moving towards your potential.

Rational Optimism – shields from future problems. Starts w. realism, then your behaviour matters.

You can see problems and say it’s bad and can change it = rational optimist.

Escaping the cult of average:  Doesn’t address individual needs or how to cater above avg/below average reading for example.

Positive individual changes ripples to culture change.   Individual traits vs interconnected ones – people 2-3 degrees away can benefit from you.

Ritz Hotel agents greet you within 5 meters away from you. We’re socialized to reciprocate: even the stubborn ones.

He made us do this eye gazing experiment for 10 seconds. I smiled after 5 seconds.

To be successful, focus on these 3 things:

1) optimism
2) strong social connections
3) perceive stress as a challenge –

To be more happier, do these 5 things:

1) 3 Gratitudes (write 3 things you’re grateful in past 24hrs. Could be small like avocado is ripe)

2) The Doubler (write 1 positive change and describe 3 reasons why it’s positive – also – your brain can’t tell difference b/w visualization vs actual experience)

3) The Fun Fifteen (15 minutes of fun cardio)

4) Meditation  – energy increases (whatever not for me!)

5) Conscious Act of Kindness (take 1 minute to text/email someone you care about to praise them)

If you are happy:

  • your behaviour is contagious. People model after you, even if you don’t realize it.
  • more productive
  • better at your craft

31% people claim to be optimists, but don’t show it. Often Leaders model it, show it, but don’t ask others to do it. So Tell everyone.

Tear-Downs with Ramit: one-on-one with students (he calls us his students for you newbies)

  • Anyone can have a website, but Do you have a point of view?
  • Customer Service is never beneath you.
  • Ask the right people in your industry. Start from success. Reverse- Engineer.
  • Why would they want to partner with you?
  • Demonstrate value by showing you’ve taken action.
  • If you’re going to ask, ASK.
  • 1500 list, 500 active – 200 buy. Focus on present.
  • Book: 5 Love Languages
  • Blog post to google: PMARCA “Product Market Fit – Market always wins.

Conference Cons:

The Friday evening mixer was good minus the 3 loud hosts trying to make us social and friendly. They could’ve shut up after 20 mins. I was trying to give someone a business idea, only to be interrupted every 2 mins.

1st day of the First 50K workshop was just OKAY with Shawn Woods. He was high energy, which I appreciated. However, I didn’t care about motivation. He did mention to check out a youtube – David Kelly from IDEO.  The 2nd Day of the workshop was more meaty. Hosted by Sarah Jones on coaching/consulting. “Sell the skill, not the outcome.” “Don’t give x of calls for willy nilly”. Slide deck link : bit.ly/Forefront-IA

Overall Conference Pros:

The Saturday night gala at Museum of Science was just amazing – one of the best evenings I’ve had in 2017. It created momentum in me. I was so motivated the next morning and still buzzing from it. I wrote 10 ideas down next morning.

Maze of Mirrors

Loved being around ambitious people from various industries all over the world.  Made me more energetic. A lot of us are working solo – so it was nice to connect with like-minded people. Like a cult 😉

The keynotes and workshops added gave me more substance and meat that last year’s Forefront in NYC. Last year was exciting don’t get me wrong, but this year it was like meeting old friends and digging deeper.

After Conference Activities – Socializing with these people was fun at hotel lobby, etc.  Karaoke, Starting the Dance party Friday night (me).

 

Some fellow Canadians

Hope you enjoyed these notes! Email me if you want to connect (nishant dot mehrotra@gmail.com )

Thanks,

Nishant

Cloud Gate + Bike = Cool Guy.

10 book ideas for amazon dot com

I’ve thought about writing a ebook and posting it on amazon.com for a long time.  So the other day I decided to write down ideas.  They would be quick 30 page ebooks. It would be a fun experiment to see if I could do it.  Without further ado here are my ideas:

  1.  United States in 2020 After Four Years of Trump : Lots of google searches on him at the moment. Could be a HUGE seller.
  2.  Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar Movies : discuss other movies he should have won an Oscar. For example: The Beach.
  3. Why Minorities Struggle in Hollywood/Creative Fields. This was also a big topic at the Oscars.
  4. How to Save Kanye West. He’s back in the headlines with crazy tweets. This would discuss his recent meltdown. Maybe relate it to what media does to famous people like in the movie Amy.
  5. Top 20 recipes to make in a crock pot in 5 minutes: I recently bought a crock pot and it’s slowly changing my life. I still need more recipes. This would help me and help others. Win/win.
  6. Top Rug Designs in 2016. I work with rugs so this would be a easy peasy one. A subjective one yes, but that’s the beauty of art. I can discuss trends in modern decor and interior design for young people.
  7. Top Ten Music Festivals to attend in 2016. I attend a music fest once a year for past 5 years so I could write some helpful tips. Best food at a music festival, best city, best line ups, best bang for your Canadian dollar.
  8. Canada Needs to invade Europe. This would be about stealing golden ideas from Europe, such as 8 week paid holiday leave in Italy for all its citizens and zero home work in Finland schools, and amazing 5 course lunches in France for public school kids. Free University Education in Slovenia.  Inspired by the Michael Moore movie – Where to Invade Next.
  9. How to Throw a Successful Reading Party in the Park. I’ve done 3 of these so I have some experience with this.
  10. Top 10 Hikes to do around Calgary for a Beginner. I’ve been hiking lots past year or so. Consider myself a beginner, so I’m authority on this subject.

Okay some of these ideas suck. But who cares.  Writing this list was itself a mind exercise. Let’s see if I actually follow through and turn one of these ideas into an Amazon kindle book.

Nishant.

Ten Apple Watch ideas

photo credit: Susie Ochs
photo credit: Susie Ochs

Happy August y’all,

Recently got back in the habit of writing ten ideas down every day. One of the subjects I decided to brain storm on was the new Apple Watch.

While I was travelling in Scotland recently, one of my friends was wearing the new Apple Watch.  He had one app in particular that’s a way better than that  super annoying but popular – selfie stick.

There is a timer photo app that allows you to put your iPhone on a ledge for instance and snap a photo using the watch. Nifty fifty.

I feel right now is the best time to create an app for this newly created Apple Watch platform. Why? Less competition for starters.

I read an article  by Andrew Chen called ” The race for Apple Watch’s killer app” where he talks about what ingredients are necessary for a killer Watch app. Among other things in this article he talks about the mobile apps for iphone led to huge companies like Snapchat, Uber, and Whatsapp.  Similar things could happen with wearable apps.

Anyways,

Without further adieu, here are my Apple Watch Apps that I would like use. It doesn’t matter that they already exist or not, I think they would be helpful for me:

  1.  Universal translator: It listens to the spanish/hindi/chinese speaker etc. Voice translation in English. I realize this is a Star Trek level app.

  2. Tells you how many laps you complete in the pool (water proof cover)

  3. Tells you how many yards you are from the golf hole. So you know what iron to use.

  4. Tells you how fast your golf/tennis/etc swing is. Is this possible? Who knows.

  5. In busy traffic, gives route suggestions when driving using google api.

  6. For elderly people sends notifications to important family members when they fall down.

  7. Dims the lights in your living room for sexy time (9 pm)

  8. Sends notifications when your fav roknrol band announces tour date/venue in your ciudad.

  9.  Sends me healthy paleo style dinner after my workout is complete while driving home.

  10. Alerts you when someone mentions you on fb or twitter or instragram or linked in.

bonus:   Tap your apple watch next to visa machine. Don’t need to get your credit card out. BOOM.

Adios,

Nish

fun side project: grass-fed beef website

Happy 2015!!!

During the 2nd half of 2014, I was working on a fun side project for a good friend.

I setup an online store for his grass fed beef business he had started the previous summer. I’m into healthy eating so this was a no brainer for me.

He needed help with creating a website. When he approached me I said hell yes. I was one of his first customers and thought it was great quality beef.  It comes from his ranch just outside of Calgary.

You can check it out his website if you’re interested.  It’s called Grazedright.com. 

grazedright_com

We contemplated using WordPress initially, but ultimately decided to use Shopify.com.   Why? From my research, Shopify is great for selling physical goods. Easy, fast and reliable.

Now, he initially got sales by personally selling his beef to his personal contacts – friends during the summer of 2013.

So his business had already been validated. This is the number 1 rule in marketing. Spend more time getting customers and sales, then setting up time  etc organizing things that don’t matter – ie business cards and websites. I mentioned this in my How To Throw a Cocktail Event blog post which you can check out by clicking here.

Anyways, he wanted to 1. ) market his business using the power of the inter-webs. Secondly,  he wanted to collect payment through the website, instead of manually getting cash from clients or  doing email money transfers.

Enter me. I helped him set up the store, sort out nerdy tech stuff and choose/install the theme and sort out email with his business domain. Also do some copy writing on the site.

Some minor issues? Getting business tax set up from the government. Shopify has great customer support to sort out these details.

Apart from that, it was also good fun. This project has helped me improve my skills with shopify as well!

We’ve made a lot of progress so far.

Chat more laterz,

Nishant

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how would you make 10,000 (in a month)?

Yesterday I wrote about 13 different ways to make 100 or even 1000 dollars in thirty days.

Okay let’s think bigger.

What about getting to the 10,000 dollar level?

Could be thinking of a new promotion to your existing business.

Some random ideas that work for my situation. Your situation will of course depend on your existing resources, skill level in an area, etc.

  • Find dentists/chiropractors. Sell 10 local business apps for 1,000 piece. Maybe just find 5, charge a bit more for extra features.
  • Create a business conference. Find sponsors and also sell tickets. Get 6-7 CEO’s of cool companies in Calgary area  to talk about different aspects of business (sales, copywriting, accounting, etc). This one takes some planning, hustling and an email list.
  • Hold a client night at your existing business. 3-4 new customer relationships can get you there.
  • Book a booth at Home/Interior Design Show (in my case) that has traffic of 10,000 plus people.
  • Arbitrage. Use Amazon/Ebay to sell antique furniture. We would really have to hustle, 10 or more pieces to reach that outcome. Need to do more research on this.
  • Go after 1-2 clients. Propose to re-work copywriting/full service website & marketing.

Just a matter of picking one and laser focusing on it.  Wasn’t this a good creative exercise for the mind?

How would you make $100 (in a month)?

Every day I write in my journal. I write 3 main to do’s and then little to do’s ones to accomplish those.

On top of that, I like to write random thoughts, cool quotes and something recently – business ideas. I read James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself, where he mentions you should come up with ideas every day.

For example, how would you go about earning an extra $100 in 30 days?

Extra $100 a month doesn’t have to be so hard.

Let’s brainstorm:

  1. It could be as simple as cleaning some small business store’s windows.
  2. Mowing your neighbours lawns in the summer or shovelling there snow in the winter.
  3. What about writing content for blogs devoted to interior design or travel? Email one today.
  4. Rent our your apartment using Airbnb. It’s the sharing economy!!
  5. Do Book keeping for a small business if you have Quickbooks knowledge.
  6. Sell OLD stuff. clothes, guitars, old computers, ipads, camera’s on http://www.kijiji.ca/ or have ol fashion yard sale.
  7. Installing wordpress/shopify site for a client.
  8. Walk dogs. You also get exercise. Call all your friends who are about to go outta town.
  9. All the time I see small businesses that have a website, but are using gmail, yahoo, etc. for their company email address. Email them saying you could create one with their domain.
  10.  Copywriting for a small business. Write their emails when people sign up. Maybe charge more than 100 dollars.
  11.   Offer marketing consulting.
  12. Workshop on how to outsource/build iphone apps. I would charge more than 100 again.
  13. Workshop for 55 yr old + people :How to use an iphone/android device, send pics, get music, etc with ease. Pain Free! Email all your parents friends. Maybe just go after four people – charge them 25 bucks each include free starbucks coffee lol and hold it at Starbucks.

This was fun. Some of the later ideas actually may fetch more than 100 dollars.  Perhaps even one thousand dollars. Hmm. How would you make an extra hundred or even one thousand dollars?

How to throw a cocktail event

Hola!

This is a long-ish post. But quite an informative/fun one if I may say so. Read Time:  7 mins approx.

——————-

Recently I organized a fun cocktail event on the last Wednesday of May. And it went off without any hiccups!!

It was a super fun evening and I  learned a LOT about setting up events.

Now I typically love to throw fun events for friends. Roaring Twenties/Magician party, Ugly Xmas Sweater Party, Reading party in a Park, my Birthday party ha ha ; )

Okay seriously though, I wanted a challenge this time.

Could it be possible to throw a fun event and get paid for it!?!?  I didn’t think so until I saw a blog post emailed to me from AppSumo.com Chief Noah Kagan.

He showed step-by-step how he did craft cocktail hour event in Austin, Texas. The premise was you get 1 free drink + learn how to make a craft cocktail from a bad ass mixologist + hang out  in cool atmosphere with friends.

His approach? Create a basic budget first, then validate with 3 paying customers then organize everything else later.

I decided I HAD to do it as well.I would love to attend a craft cocktail event myself and this could be a chance to do it with friends.  This could be a lot of fun. He always mentions TAKE ACTION. And sure he’s got a bigger network than me… but why not try anyways?

So after weeks of hesitating  – making excuse after excuse, over thinking, would the timing be right?  I finally did it. I got over my Fear of Failure. You’ve got to TAKE ACTION.

I want to elaborate on this point. Despite doing sales for my family business I still had some sorta of hesitation selling to friends for the first time. I’ve never thrown a paid event before – that is most probably why. This was something new.  Whenever you’re doing something different, you get these feelings of self-sabotage resistance. This doesn’t feel good. But I said to myself –  screw it, let’s do it anyways. Plus I had a feeling  this would be something my friends would love as well. I’ll give more details later on this post. So keep reading….

Basic Budget

I made a basic budge to make sure costs/revenues were sound. I didn’t think too much about this. I actually just made a wild guess that a fancy cocktail would be 10-15 dollars in Calgary, thankfully I was right.

budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Validate Your Idea.

Noah always mentions to validate your idea before spending any money. So I did.

I decided to go after 3 paying customers like he stresses. WHY?  To see if this craft cocktail idea even resonated in my social circle.  So I casually asked 3 friends and 2 paid me in cash face to face, while third sent me on money on Event Brite to get the momentum going. Hallelujah. We have lift off! I was excited.

This was 3 weeks before the planned Wednesday night event.

I chose Wednesday night, as it’s typically slow day at the bars and they’d love to see paying customers come through there door.

My Goal was to sell first then organize/book the place. Backwards. 

After I made those 3 initial sales, here’s what I did to get more sales.

1. Created a Facebook event. One friend shared this with Fb friends. That was cool. But no tickets resulted through that.

_Craft__Cocktail_Hour FB EVENT

2. I also made an Eventbrite event which I encourage my friends who bought to refer to, just like Noah did. This would make it easy for anyone to buy a ticket.

_Craft__Cocktail_Hour_at_Raw_bar_Tickets__Calgary_-_Eventbrite

3. Texting and Phone Calls. This was the most EFFECTIVE mode for selling tickets. I pretty much sold 80% of tickets this way. I created a bundle deal as well, that if you bought 3, you get One free. Two friends took advantage of that.

4. I also posted on Twitter and Google Plus, that didn’t do much. Didn’t do anything.

5. I talked to some friends of a friend on a Friday night at a bar and told them about this. They were super interested and actually got two tickets! Woo.

After doing all of this I eventually sold 24 tickets. This is way before I organized/booked any venue.

Getting Stuck

I should mention the first few days I began texting people I  still only had 6 sales.

My one friend mentioned “you should honestly cancel this event.” Thanks for the words of encouragement. I almost did.

Another good friend mentioned people aren’t coming because it’s “weird to buy tickets before an event”.

O RLY? How do concerts happen? He said people aren’t used to buying tickets from me.  Ok perhaps. Fair point. But wouldn’t you rather buy from a friend than some stranger throwing a similar event?

I went for a sushi dinner with another friend the next Monday. At this point I had about 12 sales so I was confident this would go well, but still short of my goal of 25. So I was stressing. This was taking so much time – texting, calling people, overthinking everything etc.  He encouraged me to keep pushing!! I needed that talk.

Some people said Yes to me, but didn’t buy.  This was frustrating, because I was also dealing with friends. I didn’t wanna be too pushy. It’s a delicate balance. It’s a gentle push he reminded me. You want to remind them, but also not force them. Some were genuinely not interested or busy  – fine.  Either way I came to the conclusion that throwing your first event is hard work.

One week before the event my sold tickets were 18. I was breathing better. It was at this stage I decided to phone some venues to partner with.

Luckily that Wednesday date was open at Raw Bar. They seemed excited that 20 plus paying people were coming to there bar on a typically slow Wednesday. I was more relaxed at this point.

Here’s a breakdown of my thinking/model for this business:

My validation technique: Pre-Sales. If I didn’t sell tickets to at least 10 people to this event – i’d have cancelled it and refunded everyone.

Fulfilled my interest: I had never been to a craft cocktail event myself and really wanted to. So this wasn’t just some random event just to make money.

Work backwards: People told me they would pay money for attending this sorta event.

Keep thing simple: I tried facbook, twitter, google plus, email. But what worked best was texting and phone calls when making sales.

Scarcity: Only sell 25 tickets. That was it. I’d have been very happy with just 10 people actually, but I pushed myself to get 20 to make it more of a party. Luckily I got 24 sold tickets.

Here’s some pics.. plus more notes afterwards.

photo 3 (14)
OH Yeah made my first craft cocktail!
photo 1 (23)
jon enjoying his Pimms Cup
k_shox_on_Instagram
DELICIOUS!

photo 5 (9) photo 4 (15) photo 4 (16) photo 1 (22)

 

Some Issues/Feedback from customers:

I marketed this event as “Craft Cocktail Hour.”

The word Craft in Calgary usually means this big bar called Craft. So many people thought the event was taking place at Craft!! This was sorta hilarious.

This told me that headlines are so important.

Another issue was I didn’t tell anyone initially where the event would happen. Some peeps wanted some more details about location. Well I simply said it’s most likely be at Local 510,  Raw Bar or Commonwealth –  another popular place in my circles. This may have caused some people to think this event wasn’t legit.

Other people who couldn’t make it asked me to organize other cool events later in the summer. That gave me some ideas for new events they would love to attend. That was super helpful.

Other Concerns? Could I Deliver:

I was concerned with people getting enough value for 25 dollars. One Drink + plus fancy cocktail class + cool atmosphere with friends. This was what I was selling. But will I be able to deliver? UNCERTAINTY!

Thankfully, Raw Bar is well known in the city for not only making the best craft cocktails, but also they organized it for me beautifully.  They had a super long table a little bit aways from the bar. Everyone had ingredients/utensil to share. The mixologist guided everyone in style.

People were LOVING IT.  I don’t think anyone had been to an event like this before.  Afterwards everyone was handed a card with the recipe on how they can make one themselves. Nice touch.

More importantly? EVERYONE HAD FUN!

Other lessons from this?

You can read about it, but until you do it yourselves you get the real lessons. Plus it was fun! It was eustress. Stress that’s good for you.

I felt pretty accomplished afterwards. I was happy everyone had fun.  I didn’t force anyone to come, yet they did. That was a cool feeling.

I might hold other cool events over the summer, we shall see.

Cheers to Noah Kagan for the inspiration. You can check out his insanely cool marketing blog at okdork.com

laterz,

Nishant

Time to get a shawarma.