Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Staying Ahead of the Curve

A couple months ago my younger son and I got away for a long-weekend camping trip. This is something we've done the last couple of years, and we both look forward to it. This year we camped up along the Mogollon Rim, and got to enjoy some of the amazing views that Arizona is famous for.

I know the boy scout creed of "be prepared" from my youth, so we prepared for the weekend - knowing it was monsoon season and we would likely get some afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Waterproof tent? Check.
  • 10' x 10' easy-up to give us shade from the afternoon sun and protection from the afternoon rain? Check.
  • Plastic to cover our firewood? Check.
  • Jackets for the rain? Check.
  • Ready to have a fun and relaxing weekend? Check.
So what happened?

We set up camp, pitched the tent, popped open the easy-up, and sat down to relax, when the sky immediately opened up with a torrential downpour, followed by high winds and a significant drop in temperature. The rain was exciting for the first 10 minutes, and tolerable for a half hour. But after 2 hours of heavy rain with sideways-blowing wind, I learned that we weren't as prepared as we needed to have been.
  • Jackets? In the tent, not doing us any good.
  • Easy-up? Not much protection from a sideways-blowing downpour.
  • Firewood? The plastic ripped and blew open, and our firewood was soaked. (along with every other piece of wood in the forest.)
  • At least the tent stayed dry!
It took us an hour that evening to find-cut-whittle enough kindling and tinder to start a fire, and another hour to cook our dinner over the not-very-hot fire using damp wood. We went to bed that night not feeling very satisfied.

This was our campsite 20 minutes into the 2-hour rainstorm.

The next day we spent a couple hours splitting wood to get dry pieces from the center of the logs, while also laying pine needles and smaller pieces of wood around the sunny areas of the campsite to dry out. It took a chunk of time out of our day, but we eventually got ourselves back on track, to the point where we could have fire on demand and cook a quick meal when we wanted to for the rest of the weekend.

Of course that experience of being behind the curve, of not being able to start a fire when we were hungry for dinner, got me thinking about how a little planning and preparation goes a long way towards staying ahead of the curve with newsletters.

Waiting until the end of the month to "do your newsletter" is inviting unforeseen problems to throw you off track.
  • What happens if you get sick the last week of the month?
  • What happens when a high-maintenance client calls, and you spend the week in your car showing homes?
  • What happens when your kids have a project-crises-illness-event, and you're pulled away from your computer?
These are the 2-hour rainstorms that happen from time to time - you don't know exactly when they're coming, and if you aren't fully prepared they will drag you way behind the curve.

End of Month - I recommend you have next month's topic picked out before this month ends. Knowing what you're going to write about lets your subconscious start working on an outline.

First week of the month - Write up an outline or some bulletpoints about what you want to say. Are you going to need any graphs, charts, or images?

Second week of the month - This is when you should write your newsletter. You have an outline and a gameplan; now you simply have to tie it all together and send it out. Make the 15th your target date for delivery.

Third week of the month - This is your backup, just in case a rainstorm hit during the second week, you still have a cushion to write your newsletter without any time-induced stress.

Last week of the month - Find a topic for next month's newsletter. Rinse and repeat the whole cycle.

Thanks for reading.

Life is easier when you're ahead of the curve. I hope you found something useful here that you can use to make your own business run a little better.

Or, if you want somebody else to take this task off your desk, I would be happy and honored to help out. Give me a shout anytime.

- Chris Butterworth


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

OPGS - Blame Charles Mochet

Other Peoples' Good Stuff (OPGS) - There is so much good content available online that we can't possibly get to it all ourselves, so I'd like to share one of the best and/or most thought-provoking pieces I've seen recently:

Recumbent bicycles were banned from sanctioned bike races in 1934, because Charles Mochet, after designing a superior bicycle, chose a not-so-respected rider to set the world record while riding it. Today, 80 years later, we still don't see recumbents as "real" bicycles. (End Bikeism.)

image credit - flickr photoateller

Cars have two headlights because horse-drawn carriages had two lanterns - one on each side of the horse. It would be easy, and safer, to have one bar of light across the front of a car, but the status quo was set over a hundred years ago.

Sometimes the status quo doesn't make any sense, but no one understands why it is the way it is.

What are you doing (or not doing) with your business, just because that's the way it's always been done?

- Chris Butterworth

PS - And if sending out a great monthly newsletter is one of those things you want to do, but you find it difficult - check out my newsletter service - easy and affordable!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

OPGS - It's only working for the white kids

Other People's Good Stuff (OPGS) - because the internet is chalk-full of great ideas and stories. You can't find and read them all, and I can't write them all, so I'm going to share this one with you..!

"It's only working for the white kids - American soccer's diversity problem" - published at last summer, this article talks in depth about how our youth soccer system does not produce the best possible national team, and why so many great American youth players don't make it to the higher levels of the sport.

This story relates to youth soccer in America. It resonates with me because my son has been playing club soccer for a number of years (and we've been writing those checks for a number of years), and because I've often wondered about the economics of national-level soccer and why our national team isn't as good as it should be considering our nation's population and wealth..

I could talk around and around and try to explain how this topic relates to a monthly email newsletter, but let's be honest - I don't think it relates as much as I just thought it was interesting.

That being said, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic, and I'd love to help with your monthly e-newsletter. Give me a shout anytime.

- Chris Butterworth


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What is your word worth?

I bought a new car this summer, which is unusual for me - the car I replaced was 11 years old and had over 200,000 miles on it. This presented a challenge.

The old car was a rare combination of model and features, and was in great condition. Online research showed I should be able to sell it for about $2,000 - $3,000 more than what the dealership offered in trade, so I decided to sell the car myself. I also decided to negotiate with several dealerships in an effort to pay less than what the internet said I should pay for my new car.

image credit - flickr clement127

I was honest with everyone I talked to throughout the process - potential buyers for my car, and every person at every dealership who might be my seller. Unfortunately that courtesy was not returned.

On the up-side, I came out about $4,000 ahead compared to if I had traded my car in and paid the internet's "fair" price, which felt good - it made the 2-week process seem worthwhile.

On the downside, I am still trying to wrap my mind around how many people gave me their word about xyz and then failed to deliver. And surprisingly enough, this was more from the buyers than the dealerships! (although not exclusively.)

It got me thinking about my own business - what is your word worth?

Honesty, integrity, loyalty, service - are these what you stand for, or are they just buzzwords you use?

I was honest about my car, and I'm honest about producing good newsletters - I can write and send your newsletters for you, completely turn-key, so you don't even have to lift a finger. Take a look around and let me know how I can help!

- Chris Butterworth