Sunday, April 19, 2015

Webinar Review - How to write an e-book in an hour

Last week I watched a webinar hosted by Daniel Hall featuring Robert Plank. Robert is an online entrepreneur and prolific e-book author. Robert covered three different content creation strategies in the webinar. The most interesting one, in my opinion, was how to write an e-book in an hour.

Choose a topic

The strategy is fairly simple. The first step is to determine a topic for your book.

7 questions as chapters

The second step is to develop seven questions that address various perspectives of your topic. For example, if your topic was "Creating and using a blog," the seven questions might be:
  1. What is a blog?
  2. How do I set up a blog?
  3. Where do I get content for my blog?
  4. How can I share my blog with others?
  5. Which platform is best for my blog?
  6. How can I use my blog to support my business?
  7. How can I optimize my blog for search engines?

Why/What/How/What-if questions

For each question, ask four more questions:
  1. Why is this important?
  2. What are we going to do?
  3. How do we do it?
  4. What-if I do this ... what's the next step?

For example, using one of the seven questions above, the questions might look like:
  1. Where can I get content for my blog?
  • Why is it important to keep developing content?
  • What are some tools to create content?
  • How do I create posts?
  • What-if I create content, what are different ways I can utilize it?

Record audio and transcribe

The process, according to Robert, is to record yourself speaking on each of the Why/What/How/What-if questions for two minutes. Seven topics/chapters times four sub-questions times two minutes per questions results in about an hour of recorded audio.

Once you've completed recording the audio, send it to a transcription service such as to convert the audio into a printed document.

Publish as an e-book

There are several resources to format the text as an e-book and publish on Amazon, Lulu, Nook, Google, and other online bookstores. I will discuss this process in a later post.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Back on the wagon

I've taken a brief hiatus from posting. OK, it's been more like six months, but I'm back on the wagon.

I once had a discussion with someone about which is the preferred place to be: riding on the wagon or falling off the wagon.

The following origin story for the phrase is from The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins as quoted in the English Language & Usage page.

The original version of this expression, 'on the water wagon' or 'water cart,' which isn't heard anymore, best explains the phrase. During the late 19th century, water carts drawn by horses wet down dusty roads in the summer. At the height of the Prohibition crusade in the 1890s men who vowed to stop drinking would say that they were thirsty indeed but would rather climb aboard the water cart to get a drink than break their pledges. From this sentiment came the expression 'I'm on the water cart,' I'm trying to stop drinking, which is first recorded in, of all places, Alice Caldwell Rice's Mrs. Wiggs of the Caggage Patch [1901], where the consumptive Mr. Dick says it to old Mrs. Wiggs. The more alliterative 'wagon' soon replaced cart in the expression and it was eventually shortened to 'on the wagon.' 'Fall off the (water) wagon' made its entry into the language almost immediately after its abstinent sister.

For now, I am back on the wagon, and hope to post regularly.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Time Lapse Camera Apps for iPhone Compared

At the risk over over-simplifying the classification of video techniques, there are basically three video speeds: slow motion, regular speed, and fast motion. A variation of video that is played faster than recorded is time lapse. Time lapse video actually takes a series of photos and combines them together as a video.

When used with animated characters, this technique is referred to as "stop motion," because the characters can be move slightly with each picture, suggesting movement. While there are several apps dedicated just to this, I'll review them another time.

For today's post, I am sharing my notes on three camera apps for the iPhone that include options for time lapse video.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Learning to think book review

During my 18 years of education (19 if you count Kindergarten), I only had two teachers that encouraged thinking.  One was my high school science teacher.  At the end of class he would frequently say, "Read the chapter, then sit back and think about what it means and how it applies to the broader world around us."

The other teacher was a professor of psychology.  In his theories of personality class, he encouraged discussion and would incorporate whatever we were talking about when he walked in as the introduction to his lecture.  He gave partial credit for any answer that made sense on a test.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Organizational Metaphors

Many of us use metaphors to describe various situations.  We may find ourselves up to our necks in alligators or at the end of our rope or looking for a needle in a haystack.

Gareth Morgan took this idea and developed organizational metaphors to describe various types of organizations and forces within a company.

Each metaphor represents characteristics:

Brain = self-organization and learning
Organism = adaptable
Culture = social reality
Political system = bureaucratic structure
Psychic prison = limitations and little risk
Flux = continually evolving, permanent whitewater/rapids, never in total control
Instrument of domination = rigid structure, implied ceilings, rigid succession
Machine = routine, repeatable processes

Based on this summary of organizational metaphors, what kind of company do you work for?  What are the implications for working for a certain type of company?

Leaders have the opportunity to identify work cultures and encourage change.  However, this can take many years, depending on the size of the company.  For employees, if the company is stifling creativity or inhibiting promotion of quality individuals, it may be a case of finding a different company.

There are not always easy answers, but identifying characteristics of a problem - defining the problem - is the first step of making positive changes.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Create conversation

I recently came across a blog post from about creating smart conversation in situations where you would normally engage in small talk.

Here is an except from the blog post.  I encourage you to read the full post and download the book from Amazon.

One way to get beyond small talk is to ask open-ended questions. Aim for questions that invite people to tell stories, rather than give bland, one-word answers.

Instead of . . .

“How are you?”
“How was your day?”
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do?”
“What line of work are you in?”
“What’s your name?”
“How was your weekend?”
“What’s up?”
“Would you like some wine?”
“How long have you been living here?”

Try . . .

“What’s your story?”
“What did you do today?”
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”
“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”
“How’d you end up in your line of work?”
“What does your name mean? What would you like it to mean?”
“What was the best part of your weekend?”
“What are you looking forward to this week?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“What does this house remind you of?”
“If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go right now?”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Descriptive quotes from Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon by James Hilton is a novel about four travelers who are hijacked from a remote airport and flown over the Himalayan mountains in Tibet.  When their plane crashes, they are rescued by Tibetans lamas-in-training from a nearby lamastery.  What the travelers learn and experience at the secluded sacred retreat will change them forever (no spoilers here!).

The book is fairly short, and is a quick read.  Lost Horizon was written in the 1930s.

Descriptive Analogies

I found myself highlighting several interesting descriptions in the Lost Horizons.

"It would be like trying to sell an epic poem to Tit-Bits," a magazine dedicated to tidbits - brief articles - from other media sources from 1881 to 1984.

"You were left with one good story to tell for the rest of your life."

... "with an air of having been compelled to attend a party at which there were goings-on that she could not wholly approve."

"I wouldn't care if it's Tibet or Tennessee."

"It's effect might not be tranquilizing."

"The night dragged on, as if each minute were something heavy and tangible that had to be pushed to make way for the next."

"One is fortunate if, as on this occasion, a touch of novelty seasons the unpleasantness."

"One of its features, for instance, was a very delightful library, lofty and spacious, and containing a multitude of books so retiringly housed in bays and alcoves that the whole atmosphere was more of wisdom than of learning."

"There came a time, he realized, when the strangeness of everything made it increasingly difficult to realize the strangeness of anything."

... "only a fragrance whose melancholy we may enjoy."

"Urgency did not clamor nor postponement disappoint."

"He did not know whether he had been mad and was now sane, or had been sane for a time and was now mad again."