Thursday, August 18, 2016

Listen to a podcast daily

Never quit learning - listen to a podcast daily

A combination of broadcast and pod, short for Apple iPod, a podcast is an episodic audio or video program available for download via the Internet. Podcasts span a range of subjects, lengths, and publishing schedule.

Podcasts are a great way to learn new information and/or be entertained. Podcasts are:

  • Free
  • Easily downloadable—downloads can be scheduled
  • Available for a wide range of topics—current categories at Apple's podcast store include arts, business, comedy, education, games/hobbies, government/organizations, health, family, music, news/politics, religion/spirituality, science/medicine, society/culture, sports/recreation, technology, and TV/film.
  • Asynchronous—you control when and where to listen, including the ability to rewind and fast forward content.


Another great benefit of podcasts is that you can download them to your smart phone to listen to while exercising, commuting, and working.

I listen to a variety of podcasts including political commentary, screenwriting, investigations into the paranormal, grammar tips, and literary history and news. It is possible that none of these may appeal to you. That’s fine. Search for the podcasts that will be interesting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Notes on Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

This post contains my notes on the book Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The guaranteed way to get your screenplay or novel read by Michael Hauge.


Even though I am not a screenwriter or novelist, I have collected and read several books on the craft of story. The principles of story are applicable in any type of narrative writing, whether it is a business presentation, personal letter, or non-fiction account of events.

Selling your story in 60 seconds

According to Amazon, I purchased Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds in 2011. In a recent review of my planners I came across my notes from my reading of this book. The concept of providing a short pitch of your story is similar to giving an elevator speech.

From the back cover:

  • How to design, perfect, and present the 60-second pitch
  • The 10 key components of a commercial story
  • The 8 steps to a powerful pitch
  • Targeting your buyers
  • Advice from 40 major screenwriters, novelists, agents, and executives
  • Pitching templates for every genre

10 Components of a commercial story

  1. Hero*
  2. Empathy with the hero by creating sympathy, putting the hero in jeopardy, making the hero likable, making the hero funny, and/or making the hero powerful
  3. Setup of the story
  4. Opportunity presented to the hero
  5. Outer motivation* (desire) consists of one of four visible goals: win a competition or love of another, stop a negative event from occurring, escape from a place or person or situation, or retrieve thing of value
  6. Conflict*
  7. Hero's arc (character development throughout the story)
  8. Deeper issues that tap into universal human themes or issues
  9. Antecedents (previous or similar stories)
  10. Your passion for the story*

Components with a * are most essential for making a pitch.

60-Second pitch

The best way to introduce your story to someone is to start with "I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell your how I came up with the idea" or "I've always been interested in ...." Then provide some personal detail relevant to your story.

Next, transition to, "What if ...?" Based on how you arrived at the idea for your story, walk listeners through the scenario you considered, "What if a young man whose relatives were just killed set out on an adventure in the universe?"

Finally, provide a detail about the hero, his or her desire, the essence of the conflict in the story, and one unique element.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Read a blog post daily

Never quit learning - Read a blog post daily

Blogs are proliferating everywhere online. A truncated version of "web log," a blog is an information page that consists of several entries, known as "posts," usually with the most recent appearing at the top of the page. Most blogs feature the ability to search for various posts either by keyword or date. It is easy to start a blog, and many begin this journey but abandon it along the way. Millions of blog sites exist.

The vast majority of blogs are hosted by Blogger, part of the Google family, or Word Press. For the purpose of searching for information, it doesn't matter where a blog is located as long as it is easy to find and maintained with current information.

President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid and prolific reader. On a typical day, he read 2–3 books, sometimes more! However, some recent statistics suggest that people are not reading books like previous generations.

Consider these findings from the Barna Group: 

  • 35% of adults say books are too long 
  • 41% of men and 28% of women feel books are too long 


Percentages of respondents that feel books are too long:

  • Elders (born before World War II): 27% 
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964): 30% 
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1981: 31% 
  • Millenials (born between 1982 and 2003): 49% 


Considering that from one-third to one-half of people believe that books are too long, blogs are the perfect solution. Most posts are fairly short and, if following the proper structure, clearly delineate different sections by using headers and lists. This structure accommodates both those who will take the time to read the full post as well as those who will only scan the highlighted information. Regardless of your interests there are blogs for you. Search for an area of interest and add "blog" to the search. A listing of blogs related to your search topic will be displayed.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

July Update

Blog Posts

How to give an elevator speech
Use a technique taught by Hilton Johnson to deliver the premise of your business, product, or service in two sentences, also known as an elevator speech.

Government image sites
Below is a list United States government image sites. In addition to specific image sites, many government agencies also have Instagram and Flickr accounts.

Write your book in a weekend, Part 2
This post is based on notes from a couple of different webinars I attended in 2009 and 2010.

Be willing to learn
Never quit learning - Be willing to learn.

Free image sites
This post is a review of several free image sites.

Master your tools
Never quit learning - master your tools

Find answers on the Internet
Never quit learning - find answers on the Internet.

Made to Stick - reading notes
This post is a summary of the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

Read a book monthly
Never quit learning - read a book monthly.

Writing 365

I have been faithfully writing every day. As of yesterday, my word count is 320,576. At the beginning of the year, I wasn't sure if I would achieve 365,000 words by the end of the year. However, instead of focusing on the end of this journey, I have kept my focus on the goal of writing at least 1,000 words per day.


Since I have been recording the number of words written for each category for each day, I am able to analyze writing patterns throughout the year. Below is a chart which shows how many times I wrote in each category by month. I did not include the journal category, as I have written consistently every day. On some days I wrote more than one entry for the ebook category.



Thursday, August 4, 2016

Notes on Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking

This post contains my notes on the book The Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie.


Many individuals are familiar with Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking is another book Carnegie wrote based on materials from his highly successful course he started teaching in 1912.

I read this book in 2012, the 100th anniversary of Carnegie's unique and effective method for improving communication. What follows are my notes as I recorded them in my 2012 planning journal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

10 reasons to write a blog

A blog is an extremely versatile tool that can be used for marketing, writing, and reference.


I have maintained two blogs fairly consistently over time. I keep recipes online and periodically add to the collection at my vegetarian recipe blog, www.EatAtHome.info. The other blog is this one, www.PersonalChange.info. I wrote my first post in January, 2011: Play. While my consistency in posting has waxed and waned since then, I am definitely glad I have maintained, and continue to add to, this blog.

Below are ten ways blogs can help you, regardless of your profession, interests, or goals.

1. Blogs can be a great marketing tool.

If you have a business or are selling a product, blogs are a great way to generate leads by offering education information related to your business, services, or products. Visit RayHigdon.com for great resources of marketing with blogs. I reviewed Ray's blogging webinar in 2014.

2. Blogs help you write regularly.

Some bloggers post every day while others post less frequently. Like every recurring activity, posting daily vs. posting once a week can make a significant difference in terms to the number of posts written by the end of a year. Since I started this blog I have experimented with various posting schedules, including taking extended breaks. Currently I try to post 3-4 times per week. This fits with my scheduled of other activities. I also use the scheduling feature of Blogger to write several posts and then schedule them over a period of weeks.

3. Blogs are flexible.

You can have a blog focused on a specific topic, and you can also use blogs as a platform for other types of writing. Nina Amir wrote a book and teaches others how to blog a book. Instead of writing in a word processing application, a blog can be used to organize posts into chapters using hashtags. Blogging a book provides the ability to write consistently (daily, etc.) while accumulating several words and chapters over time. Blogs can be configured to be public or private, so you could write extensively without anyone else seeing your work.

4. Blogs are a good personal reference tool.

Many of the topics I use as blog posts are for my own later reference. I like to put notes on my blog, especially if there are links to books, sites, and other resources. I use the custom Google search feature regularly to find information on my blog.

5. Blog content is easily sharable. 

There may be times when you want to share information on Facebook or Twitter but the information itself requires more than 140 characters or a few lines to share. By writing a blog post, you can then share the post on any social media platform, including Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

6. Blogs provide a hub for transmedia.

As I have written about previously, transmedia means sharing the same content on multiple platforms. You can write a blog post and use the content to create a video, SlideShare presentation, Instragram and Tumblr images, etc.

7. Blogs can function as a basic website.

You can buy an inexpensive domain from Google Domains, GoDaddy, or other sources and link it to your blog, as I have done with this blog. In addition to the regular list of posts, you can also create pages with additional information.

8. Blogs can be customized.

Both Blogger and WordPress offer a variety of plug-ins, such as lists of posts, images, etc., to enhance the functionality of your blog. Additionally, you can adjust the look of your blog and layout of various elements on the page.

9. Blogs are interactive.

Unless the feature is disabled, blogs allow the ability to comment on posts. This is a great way to interact with readers who find your blog.

10. Blogs include tracking statistics.

In the back office of my blog, I can see the number of views for each blog post. Additionally, I can view the number of total views on a daily basis, and the primary sources of views.

Start today

If you don't already have a blog, today is a great day to start. You will be amazed how quickly posts will accumulate over time. If you already have a blog, please share it in the comments below, and use this post as a reminder to review how regularly you post and what you can do to make your blog even better. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Read a book monthly

Never Quit Learning: Read a book monthly

For one of my classes in high school, I wrote a paper on aspects of the Roman Empire. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote one of the books that I needed. My school's small library did not have the book. Instead, I had to order my own copy of The Collected Works Of Josephus. When the large volume (about the size of a dictionary) came, I used it for probably thirty minutes! Still, it was a resource that I needed at the time. Today, if I needed to read Josephus again, I could simply utilize a free, online source.

Books have never been less expensive and more available than they are today. Even with today's online bookstores, you can't really appreciate how many books are published unless you visit a library or bookstore. I enjoy visiting a brick-and-mortar physical bookstore such as Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million. It is always interesting to me how books are available that no one ever buys. In the life cycle of traditionally published books, books that are prominently displayed at the front of the store one month may end up in the dollar bin later on, or at best, heavily discounted. Even sadder, I was at a charity thrift store, where donations of items are sold inexpensively, and saw 100 brand new copies of a book.

There are three basic formats for books: print, electronic, and audio.

Print

Printed books are traditionally how books have been published. Until the mid-1900s technologies did not exist to sell books in other formats. Even with the variety of technologies and devices available today, books and information printed on paper are still the most permanent and most portable. Print does not require software updates or electronic devices.

In 2000, my office gave me a new Palm Pilot. The Pilot was popular at the time and provided functionality to keep track of appointments, contacts, notes, and e-mail. I transferred all of my information into the device and it worked well ... until the battery died. There was not a way to replace the battery, and so I reverted back to a paper-based planning tool. I still use a paper-planning tool. Even if I still had the Palm Pilot today, most likely I could not retrieve the information in an electronic format to load into another, more contemporary device.

e-Books

Even though I still purchase books printed on paper, I also buy electronic books, known as “e-books.” E-books are convenient because they can be viewed on a variety of devices including computers, smart phones, tablets, and dedicated e-book readers. For books designed for Amazon.com's Kindle platform and for Apple's iBooks, content is available concurrently on all devices, so you can start reading on your computer and keep reading on your smart phone. E-books are also usually less expensive than their printed counterparts.

Soundview Executive Summaries provides succinct, four-page summaries of business books. One of the factors they use to rate books is shelf life. If a book covers content that is likely to be out-of-date in a short period of time, it has a short shelf life. Every four years, as part of the lead up to U.S. Presidential elections, a variety of political commentators, and increasingly the candidates themselves, publish books. Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate for President in 2012. The books about him are now available secondhand for as little as $0.01! Alternatively, books that cover broad topics can remain popular for years.

To help me decide on whether to purchase print books or e-books, I use the following criteria, created here as a flow chart.

Audio books

Audio books are especially useful when traveling, whether part of a daily commute or long trip. Audio books, like e-books, work across many platforms. However, unlike e-books, audio books are usually more expensive than printed books. The primary reason for this is due to the extra costs to produce and record the reading of the book.

Whether you purchase books new or used, or borrow from a library, take the time to read one professional book per month. In addition to books that may specifically focus on your area of expertise, many broad categories such as communication, marketing, sales, and personal improvement are beneficial to read.