Monday, December 21, 2009

Now Where Did I Put Those Instructions?

Many years ago before our technological revolution the most complicated present any self respecting parents/Santa’s helpers had to deal with was the assembly of that most prized child’s present – the bike! There’s many a story of anxious children being whisked off to bed so that a Mom & Pop Assembly Shop could be opened up in hopes of a quick construction of the project with enough hours of sleep left-over to regain strength to enjoy the next day’s festivities. I’ve also heard of many mom’s who shook their head’s in dismay as Pop would remove a good sized instruction manual from the box and tossed it aside with a cavalier, “Hey, I know what I’m doing. I don’t need instructions.”

Early the next day, the happy child would be greeted with a brand-new gleaming and (barely) assembled bike, and fortunately, was too excited to notice that pop seemed not to get enough sleep last night.

When those children became parents they found that their schedules were too hectic to “help” Santa out and so they just had the bike store assemble them and stash them at a neighbor’s house.

I remember it was in the 80s that, at least in my town, pedaling around the neighborhood with your friends was not nearly as interesting as watching your parents unpack the new Personal Computer! I don’t remember whose mouth fell open the farthest, the children at the fascinating new technology or the father when he unpacked one boxed that housed several thick books (with tiny writing) on how to assemble And run this new “toy”. Most kids were headed back to school before pop could get through what seemed like a college course of reading to get the computer running.

I personally remember years later when individual software packages were created, how each box cam with a disk and an only one instruction manual on how to install and operate the program. Instead of taking a week to get up and running it was possible to do it (with a bit of concentration) in a day.

Fast forward a year or two, and I remember the first software program I bought that seemed to only have a disk with it. I just knew all I had to do is pop the disk in the computer and she would run, and, for the most part, although this was true, this would also be the first time I was introduced to what became a PDF file, or simply, a manual on the disk. In the beginning, I thought PDFs were the greatest thing. It took me a little while to realize that, unless I wished to print out a several hundred page manual, I was pretty much stuck at my computer screen reading to learn. It also didn’t help much that I used to earmark the pages and notate important packages. If there’s a way to do that with a PDF file, I’ve not learned how to do so to this day.

Well, it took several years for me to get used to that after all once you’ve reduced the manuals from many volumes to one, and then from paper to PDF there’s nothing else left to do with it, right? Wrong?

I would love to get my hands on the person or persons who Then Decided, why go to the trouble to even put out a disk we’ll just let people buy the program right offline and let them download it. (If you think it’s hard to find a manual on a disk try finding one without the disk.) Okay, now I download the program, I install it, and I sort through even more files looking for a PDF instruction manual and when I finally find it, then, I can learn how to use the program.

Okay, so we’re done now, there’s nothing else that can be done? Not quite yet.

A couple of year’s ago I noticed that the new software downloads that I received didn’t have PDF instruction manuals with them. Instead (and maybe this was a ploy to get me to look at more of their stuff) you had to go to their website and register the software (they were only suggesting it before) in order to get access to an “online” manual. The manufacturer’s reasoning being that by doing it this way the software and manual could be updated in a timely manner. Okay, whatever you say. Just give me my instruction manual.

That’s it. There’s nothing else left to do with it right? I wish.

I short time ago, I joined Facebook. My first impulse (of course0 was to be directed to the instructions on line. Fat chance! To sign up was simple but instead of leading me to a simple set of instructions they dumped me right smack into the middle of the program. Now don’t get me wrong they did have an instruction page, but when I went to it the page had what seemed like a hundred links and even more FAQ (frequently asked questions) in what seemed like a mish-mash order. When I asked about this, everyone I know seemed to have taken the stand of “learn as you go”. I wanted to scream!

So let’s recap.

I’ve gone from bike instruction manuals that, in the day, no self-respecting man would read (much to their regret), to instruction manuals that came in volumes, reduced to one manual, reduced to a PDF file, reduced to an online file, and now we’re back to a multi-volume file online, and, at least for this guy, I’m right back to my parents’ day then, although I would love to read it, I’m just “virtually” tossed it aside and plunged in with the assembly of my Facebook. The irony of it all is it only took me a little time before I realized that I’m not the only person out there on Facebook stumbling around as well.

A couple of month’s ago I joined Twitter and I found a similar thing happening, but I also had to smile when I found this out as well. If you go into Twitter’s instruction forum some (if not a lot) of their instructions have been contributed by its users! Can you imagine that? A programmer writes a program and then has the users write the manual! Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. You only have to be on Twitter for a short time and you will find that there is a growing lucrative market by other Twitter users who have written PDF “ebooks” on how to use Twitter in various ways and will be glad to sell them to you, or with just a little searching, you can find a slew of people to follow who will give you their ebooks for free!

So, where did I put my instruction manual? Just look on my hard drive in my ebook section. It’ in there with the dozens of other volumes of ebooks I have downloaded, some moderately priced but most of them free. Now if I just could find time to read them all.

If you would excuse me, I need to get a "virtual" cup of coffee … I’ve got some reading to do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Mission . . . Statement.

Hi, Guys -

Over the last couple of months, I have been trying to find a new footing with this blog. As a legally blind business owner I realize that building a business (any business) can be very challenging with a disability. I cannot tell you (nor would I try) how many times I wanted to quit opportunities ready to pull out the explanation"of "poor vision" being the culprit. Right or wrong, the results still didn't pay the rent. And so i realized that I had to stop looking at where I was and start to concentrate more on where I was going. It was through this one thought that I believe led me to a man named Chris Farrell (a new mentor for me) and a new vision for this blog. Hopefully you will believe it to be as good as I do.

In the past, there have been many times that I have needed information for one project or another dealing with disabilities. And while Wikipedia has always helped, I have found myself still having to jump from one web page to another to get all of the information I may need. A fact sometimes compounded by poor vision.

Recently, I came upon a business site created by Chris Farrell and in it he explained how he decided to start an online business in February 2008 to help his family improve their financial situation, but how difficult it was since he either had to go to multiple places to get information all the time, or the information he received was so complicated that it was hard to grasp basic internet concepts as fast a she liked.

Well, it has been said that the "seeds" of difficulties can lead a person to great ideas. Otherwise known as "necessity is the mother of inventions". Well, Chris's invention was his new website where, not only does he teach a multitude of online business concepts on video, but he does it in a wonderful step by step process that is both easy to understand and to follow. I had only to review ONE of his FREE courses to know that I would be a member of his site forever.

Now, why did I tell you this?

Basically, the same reason. In the world of disabilities, there is a lot of information that visually handicapped (as well as many others) need as quick as possible. Well, I decided today that my new "mission statement" if you will was to place on this site through posts, links, and references to other blogs. Things that i know will help anyone with disabilities (and a lot without) to improve their lives. Not just on a financial basis but physically and spiritually as well.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't claim to know any of those things in great debt, but I have always had a knack for organizing things, and so I will not only be posting my ideas on the site, but be referencing (and crediting) any of you out there who come across any good information that can help the community at large, but those of us who are disable in particular.

And so, from this point on. If you come to this blog, I promise I will do my best to post on it items of use and I also will strive, just like Chris, to put it in a way that anyone can understand. The only thing I ask is that whether you like it or not, please comment. I don't promise to change my personal opinions about things (I'll try to keep that to a minimum) but if I have a posting or link that there's a problem with I will do my best to correct it or move it.

Anyway, as we slowly come to the end of a great year I just want to wish all of you the best in 2010, and I am looking forward to working with you as well.

Thanks for being a part of my blog and my life.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Blogger with . . . Attitude!

It's that time of year when I reach into the closet and pull out that box of Holiday movies I love so much. There was a time when I would add a new one to my collection every year but lately I've not seen a lot that I feel has just the right touch. You know, like this scene from one of my favorites:

It's Christmas Eve and a lone police officer munches on a powdered doughnut as a sound catches his ear. He glances over the tall counter next to his desk to see the squad room door open for a few seconds and then close without, apparently, no one coming in.

Curious, he puts down the doughnut, stands, and glances over the counter into the faces of (what appears to be) several small children, all but one dressed in a military-like uniform that he didn't recognize.

"Vising hours are over, kids. Go home"

"We're not kids." One of the ones up front says. "We're Elves with . . . Attitude!"

The next thing the officer knows he's pushed into his swivel chair while it was being spun at a very fast speed, while the surrounding laughing elves wrapped him up in, what appeared to be, miles of colorful ribbons.

At the time, I am sure the officer in question believed that the "attitude" the elves were displaying was very bad, although the elves believed it to be good, after all, they were on a mission to save Santa.

For most, you probably recognized this scene from one of my favorite Christmas classics - The Santa Clause starring Tim Allen.

So, what's my point? Simple, building a business is all about attitude. Building it successfully requires a good one. So, what type of attitude do you have? Are you a "half-full" or "half-empty" kind of person? Do you look at problems as disasters with no end or challenges waiting to be solved? I've been on both sides of that equation and I assure you I understand no matter how you feel right now. The key, however, is to always be working to improve your attitude no matter where it is at present. Why? Because, believe it or not, a great attitude brings great results.

So, how do you go about improving your attitude? Well, there are several ways but here's a few of my favorites:

Get around people with good attitudes - and more important - stay away from those with bad attitudes. There's been times in my life when I believed that once I got a good attitude I could "help" those with bad ones.

Unfortunately, no matter how good my attitude has been, I've found out that when I get around those with bad attitudes they do more to pull me down to their level then I can possible do to lift them up to mine. So stay away from bad attitude people at all cost (dare I say it) like they have the flu! A bad attitude is a lot easier to catch and can last a whole lot longer.

Another great way I've found to improve my attitude is to read good books. Especially books about good self-image or inspirational books. Like Skip Ross's, "Say, YES, to Your Potential" or even "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. If self-help books don't catch your fancy at first then reread one of your favorite novels. Be careful to pick one that has a positive ending.

The third way I've found to improve my attitude is to listen to fun and uplifting audios. Sometimes just hearing another person's perspectives on your current situation can do worlds of good for your attitude. I suggest that when you come across audios that inspire and/or make you happy that you keep them in a place you can reach quickly when a quick jolt of positive attitude is necessary.

One of the benefits of this time of the year is the wonderful holiday music that swirls around. You have to be a Scrooge not to have it lift your spirits. I have a lot of old "chestnuts" that I keep on standby in my computer for just such an occasion. And for anyone looking to start a collection of holiday favorites may I suggest you start with a wonderful artist that my sister-in-law, LaVerne, suggested to me.

His name is Andrea Bocelli (pronounced An-drey-a Bow-chel-lee). His new album is called, "My Christmas" and he has a wonderful classical Italian voice that can brighten anyone's attitude. For those of you who haven't heard of him (I hadn't either), He's has been on Oprah, and he sings on the album with, Natalie Cole, Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, and many more. Now how's that for a resume!

The last way I have found to perk up the old attitude is to watch uplifting and fun things, both out in the world, on your computer, and on television as well. Again, during this time of the year there shouldn't be much problem finding a lot of things to keep a cheerful attitude going. (I sometimes go just go to YouTube and look up old Hallmark Christmas commercials) There are holiday parades and family parties to attend, as well as a boat load of holiday favorites just a remote or mouse click away.

But be warned, unlike the ghosts in Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", these good attitude-shifters are not going to "haunt" you down. You'll have to go looking for them. But I assure you, if all you want for Christmas is a great attitude, you'll find it.

So get up and get going - before those "Attitude Elves" come looking for you!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Survival Is Not Mandatory!

"If you always think what you've always thought, you'll always get what you've always got!"

This was a very powerful statement that a good friend once said to me and although it is not original (nor grammatically correct) it is often true.

I also heard a very wise person say something once that I've never been able to shake: "Change is not necessary because survival is not mandatory! However, if you wish to survive then you'll have to change!."

From my personal experience, a truer word could not have been said. And the same can be said for a new online business owner.

I wish I could tell you that change is easy, but for most of us, it isn't. Frankly there were times when I thought I was the President of the "I'm perfect the way I am" club but all I had to do is look around at my life to realize that I must be doing something wrong.

I finally had to accept the fact that if my way worked I'd be successful. So after dragging my feet (for years) and getting minimum business results, I decided to change.

After I made that decision, I began to honestly access what needed to change about myself. Up to that point my life was the result of what I've done in the past which was the results of my habits which were the results of how I thought. And so the answer became clear - if I just changed the way I thought, I would change my life!

Yes, I know, easier said then done, right? Right!

But I can say this, once I made the decision to change the way I thought, the "how" came very quickly.

Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, a very successful motivational and inspirational speaker and writer is famous for saying something like: "The difference between the person you are now and the one you will be five years from now depends on the people you meet and the books you read."

I realized that the best way to change the way I was living was to change my thoughts, and since Charlie "Tremendous" Jones stated it started with the books I read and the people I associated with, that's where I choose to start.

But we'll pick this up on the next post.

A Blind Leader

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Simple Plan

Over the last 5 years I have been working with a lot of people who expressed a desire to own their own online business. Nearly all of them had no visible signs of a disability but none the less then all did.

What disability was that?

They all believed that running an online business was simply a matter of getting a product or service, creating a website, printing out some business cards, and throwing their virtual doors open. It didn't take them long to realize that the money wasn't pouring in. You see they thought that running a business, was just like working a job, but they couldn't be further from the truth. I know, because I did the same thing.

Job mentality and business owner mentality, however, are as opposite as North and South and until this fact is learned a business will never succeed.

Let's Build A House -

Let's say you own a Construction business and someone hired you to construct their home. They informed you that they had done all of the preliminary work and all you had to do is show up with your crew and get to work.

And so you arrive on the first day with your crew and you look around the site. You noticed piles of material neatly stacked all around, such as, wooden planks, bags of cement, boxes of nails, shingles, etc. Every supply you need.

A short time later, the person who hired you drives up and gets out of his car with a great big smile on his face. He comes over to you, says hello, and then points to the spot he wishes the house to be built and tells you to get started. You nod and turn to walk towards your crew and then you pause and turn back to the smiling man and ask him one question. Do you know what that question is? Of course you do, you'd ask him?

"Where are the plans?"

You see, when it comes to building ANYTHING, whether a physical structure or a virtual business nothing can be accomplished right without a plan! As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail".

And that's why many business are doomed to failure from the start. They don't have a well thought out plan. Without a plan you simply don't have anywhere to go.

Now you may recall a time in your life where you have constructed something "off the cuff" so to speak, and I will admit that many people build their business that way, and may even, eventually, build a successful business. However, they tend to compromise two simple things: money and time. And so, if you have plenty of money and plenty of time, by all means, just jump right into business building. However, if you are serious about building a successful, long-termed business, I would suggest that your First order of business be making a plan.

Parts of A Plan

In putting together any worthwhile plans you need to answer three basic questions:

- What do you want?
- When do you want it?
- What are you willing to give up to get it?

Until these three questions are addressed nothing can move forward! Some sample answers might me:

- What do you want? I want to establish an online business that will generate a net annual profit of $60,000 a year.

- When do you want it? I wish to have the "foundation" laid and in place within 12 months from today.

- What are you willing to give up to get it? I'm willing to get up 2 hours early each day to work on developing my online business, as well as postponing some of my weekend recreational activities and evening hours to work on it as well until I reach my goal.

You get the idea. Also it may not come as a surprise to you but usually the last question is the one that throws most people. It's what I call the deal breaker because most people are willing to add on extra but they aren't willing to give up anyting they already have. And without committing to this last question they will never truly have a successful business.

And so that is the reason I start out with this simple plan. (I said simple, not easy.) Because I figure to commit to even doing this little bit of planning would separate those people who are serious about a business from those people who are fooling themselves with a hobby.

Whether someone builds a "brick and mortar" business or a virtual business they both take work! And that doesn't always mean physical work, but it is important to know that until these 3 simple questions are answered, your new online business will never be able to move forward.

So, take some time, and really think about how serious you are about doing what it takes to becoming a successful online business owner and if you still wish to move forward then come back and we'll talk some more.

A Blind Leader

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome! to My World

Thanks for dropping by.

As it says in the title, I am a business owner and have been so for many years. In particular, I have been working online for nearly 5 years in several ventures. I prefer online work because of its variety and convenience.

As the title also suggests, I am disabled as well. I suffer from a hereditary eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa - RP for short. It is a curious disease that, for some, will only diminish their sight over their lifetime, while for others, it can remain dormant for a time and then suddenly "activate" totally snatching most, if not all, of their sight very quickly. I don't profess to be an expert on the disease but can only offer my perspective of it through my own experience. (If you would like more information about RP, you can check out my other blog, "My RP Survival Guide". The link is on this page.

Why Write Another Blog?

My hope is to help others, especially those with disabilities, avoid the same business pitfalls that I have encountered over the years. I mean, for most people who are disabled are able to qualify for some sort of government assistance. At present, I do, and I am thankful for it, but I also won't fool myself to believe it will last forever nor be enough for my future needs. I have observed the economic trends enough to know that the best way for anyone (disabled or not) to secure their future is to create a secondary source of income through a business of their own.

Okay, So What's The Catch?

As a good friend of mine usually says, "You're sitting on the catch". Over the years, I have found that the best way to start securing my future is to get up and get moving! And thanks to the personal computer, most people can do just that without leaving to leave their own homes.


I've always been on the lookout for better ways to make more money. I was raised with the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" philosophy and I've found through personal experience what a good idea that is. However, with the large variety of choices out in cyberspace, it can be hard to tell the good ideas from the bad. this makes it very easy for the unsuspecting person (especially one living on a fixed income) to venture out because of the risk of losing what little they have.

Now, despite what the media says, I believe there is more good in the world then bad, but just like crossing a busy street, we must learn to be cautious and discerning in the steps we take. For example, there have been times in my life when I have walked into stores with white cane in hand to purchase something, and had to "correct" the counter person on the amount of my change. I choose to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (until they prove me otherwise) and so I elect to believe that the person miscounted my change instead of believing that they decided to purposely deceive me. However, the point is still this, even if the clerk's behavior was an honest mistake, if it wasn't for the limited sight I have left I would have still be shorted my money, however with RP, there is no saying how long my vision will last. These days as a way to be more comfortable with my transactions, I have all checks earmarked direct deposit and I do 90% or more of my major shopping online.

So Why Doesn't Someone Do Something?

And that comes to why I decided to write this blog. I believe that the United States is a wonderful place to live, but even in a wonderful country like this there are still many things that can be improved -- especially for the handicapped. However, unlike most people, I don't believe it is solely the government's job to fix everything. In particular when it comes to my personal survival.

So How Can I Help?

I believe I have found a few ideas that have helped me to make income today as well as secure my future for tomorrow - with one very important catch! All my suggestions call for ACTION! Nothing fancy or elaborate, just plain honest work.

Is the work hard?

I don't believe so but that will be a personal choice. I figure if you believe the work to be hard you will either not come back or not try the ideas suggested, and that's okay. Everyone has a different time table and everyone has different challenges in their lives to deal with before starting something new. Been there, done that. Just know that I plan to be here for a while so bookmark this blog as a favorite and come back when timing's a bit better.

For everyone else, I have put together a few ideas that I will be posting in later blogs that almost anyone can try. I can't give any guarantees (because I can't determine how serious you will be about working at the ideas) but I can guarantee that I believe in what I am doing and that I will always strive to share the best information I have at the time. And while I can't guarantee your success, I want you to know that every idea I have posted here is one that I have already looked over and is personally involved with. I will always strive to lead by example and since I am not trying to lose any of my money on a venture I certainly will not be trying to lead you on one. However, if I do find after posting a link ere that the venture turns out to be not what I was led to believe, I will remove it and post the reason why.

As I stated, I will accomplish all of this through my own posts as well as through interesting and useful links I find. I will suggest successful ideas I have used and give you advice on the best ways to build a solid business foundation to build your future on. As we continue to grow together, I hope you will let me know how you are doing so that we can learn from each other and become even stronger.

I do ask one favor if you will.

If you ever come across a link listed here that you have a problem with, whether content-wise or broken, please contact me so that I can look into it. Although I will do my best to keep this blog current, anyone whose ever worked on computers for any length of time realize that links can change without notice. If you don't wish to leave the issue as a comment on the blog, feel free to email me.

Although the main focus of this blog is those people with disabilities, I know the ideas here will work for anyone willing to work the ideas.

Again, thanks for dropping by. I look forward to working with you in the near future.

A Blind Leader