Category Archives: Business

Be An Investor Next Year

I stumbled on an interesting site this morning.  Kickstarter founded by Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, is (per their website description)…

The largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.  Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage.  This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work.  Instead they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding.  On kiskstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands.  Why?  It protects everyone involved.  Creators aren’t expected to develop their porject without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you.  Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental.  They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse.

So what does that mean for you?  Like honey?  Super.  You can kickstart The Bees Of Crockett

Earl Flewellen's Artisan Honey, anyone?

and they’ll send you some of their delicious honey.

Enjoy street photography?  Then kickstart the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier

Her work was discovered at an auction and once revealed to the world via John Maloof's blog, has become a viral sensation.

and get a copy of the DVD.

Always wanted to write that book?  Make that product?  Develop that software? Start that business?  Finally get your yoga teacher training?

No really.  I’m serious.

Neal Pollack , writer of the very funny, Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude got his 200 hour yoga teacher training funded on Kickstart.

Very funny book whether you're into yoga or not.

If you gave him a dollar, you got an email excerpt from his latest book and he promised satirical postings about his training.  If you pledged $200 you got signed copies of various books, handmade jewelry and collages from his artist, wife, Regina Allen, plus a private yoga class for you and 15 of your friends per completion of his training.

Of course now I’m wondering how I can kickstart something and what gifts I would give in exchange for getting my dream off the ground.  I could get my own public access talk show funded by giving free speech therapy to any donors that pledge, say, $500 AND have a lisp.  I could finally write the follow up to Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie, entitled, Confessions of a Diet Junkie, and promise folks free copies of my books.  And a food scale.   Or maybe, like Neal, I’ll get my 500 RYT training funded someday by a group of people that dig me, have a few bucks to spare, and just so happen to need accent reduction therapy or vocal training?

But enough about me and my pipe dreams.  Head on over to Kickstarter and see if there’s a project that resonates with you that you’d like to fund and get cracking.  Or better yet, dust off that great idea that you’ve been pushing toward the back of your brain and get moving!  You’ve got no excuses now.

 

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Not To Be A Bitch But….

Madonna is trying to raise money for her charity, Raising Malawi. I think that’s super. I’m all for helping the underprivileged. I’m also all for the uber-rich helping the underprivileged which is why I’m confused.

To encourage her fans to part with $100,000 of their hard earned money, she has generously pledged up to $100,000 of her hard earned money to match the donations that she receives. Which is great and generous and wonderful and selfless until you consider that she’s worth over $325 MILLION!

Not to be a bitch but – write a damn check for $200,000 and call it a day!  Don’t make a video asking for my help. Don’t spend money to create and maintain a website to process the Pay Pal donations. Just write the check and drop if off the next time you’re there. In the mean time, my money will be freed up for another charity that needs some cash or better yet something that I’m passionate about.

I think Madonna should talk a page out of her friend Rosie O’Donnell’s play book. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that that Rosie gives away a shit load of money. She funds her passions herself. She’s donated a rumored $50 million to different charitable causes and organizations. During an interview with CBS earlier this year, Rosie was quoted as saying,

“I was very lucky to make a lot of money. More money than any human should make,” she admits. “I have tremendous guilt issues about the money I have. And when I started making the money, I said to the money person, ‘If I’m ever on the Forbes list of richest people, you’re fired. I never want to be on that list’.”

Now, I don’t agree with the guilt part, but I do agree that when you get to a certain level of wealth, you really need to ask yourself, “How much do I need?” If you’re hoarding it just to have it, what’s the point.  If you have all that you need, give some of it away. And if you’re passionate about a cause, then by all means, fund your passion.

But don’t ask Joe Schmoe that has 23 years left on his mortgage and two kids to put through college to fund it for you. Fund it yourself.

Why?

Because you can!

The Trend Junkie

I met a very cool guy, Greg Cangialosi, on my flight to Chicago last month. He’s the writer/creator of the blog, The Trend Junkie, and CEO of Blue Sky Factory, an email marketing company. He was great to talk to and gave me a ton of information on the use of technology to brand yourself, your company and build your business.

This information was very helpful to me since I will be helping Sol Yoga update their email delivery system soon and I hope to also implement an email delivery system at my daughter’s middle school. I’m tired of paper correspondence that’s addressed to me being left crumpled up in the bottom of her backpack and locker. I think we all survived the upgrade from mimeograph machines to Xeroxed copies and it’s time for schools everywhere to bite the bullet and go digital with their communication systems.

Why? Well like the tree that falls in the middle of an empty forest, if you send a newsletter home and no one reads it, did it make a sound? No. Likewise, if you send an email and no one clicks it open, did you communicate your message? Well, sort of….by reading a well written subject line, I can get the “gist” of an email without opening it up completely, but truly, if you’re going to send an email you want the recipient to click on it. Thus implementing a delivery system is only step one of the process. Creating a system that people readily read and not delete is obviously a very important part. So I’m trying to look at the school’s email needs in the same way I’d look at a business’ email needs to create a functional system to exchange information.

My ultimate plan (insert hang wringing and evil laugh here) is to learn from these two endeavors and then use the information to build my own business/brand down the road. As I slowly research how to build a business via the web, digital media, digital communications, social media, blogging, etc.,etc.,etc., I have learned that frankly, I have a hell of a lot to learn.

Therefore, to all the digital media/business branding/marketing/technology experts out there:

You really need to write a book or a blog or host a web site that’s for BEGINNERS trying to navigate this territory for the first time. This book needs to have pictures and charts and other visual cues for the over 40 crowd. This book needs to use really small words and be free of hype and hip, digital lingo. You need to treat us like the idiots that we are. We know we’re idiots, but we’re idiots open to learning all of this new information. Come to think of it, a digital, ebook with live, active links to the sites and technologies that you reference would be the best scenario for us. Thus we could click through while we’re reading and fully grasp what the hell it is you’re talking about.

I’m not sure what happened to my brain, but it just can’t seem to keep up with all of this changing technology and terminology. I figured out the 8-track to cassette tape switch very easily. Had no problem with CD’s replacing my LP’s. I could get the clock on my VCR to not only stop flashing but tell the time. I even learned how to navigate both the PC’s and MAC’s without having a stroke or developing a facial tick. It’s been at least two years since I’ve bought a CD, opting to download all of my musical preferences. Yet, for some reason, this last frontier is fucking with me. I could use some hand holding here.

In the meantime, I keep exploring excellent sites like The Trend Junkie and I’m slowly figuring this shit out. Clearly I’m on the digital short bus, but I’m happy to report that it’s still moving forward and has yet to run out of gas. But like the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the road I’m on is littered with pot holes. This is definitely going to be a bumpy ride.