Panama 2009 – My First Adventure Outside the USA

In the summer of 2009 I made my first trip outside of the Country. At the ripe age of 39, I boarded a plane and headed to Central America. I’d never been though customs, immigration and had a naked passport. I wondered if the representative at the desk would question where I’d been for the previous 39 years, thankfully he didn’t.

Confession Time – I immediately fell in love with the thrill of landing in a foreign location and soaking up all the ambiance. I fell in love with the fun of working remotely from an exotic destination and even the thought that only my team knew where I was and the clients I chatted with had no idea.

My loving and fun guide on this adventure was my fantastic partner, Tomie who had previously visited Panama on several occasions. While this was my first trip, I’d been there many times in books, magazines and via the web. I began to look at moving to Panama when after the summer of 2004 in Central Florida I endured weeks with no power after 3 hurricanes visited. Shortly after that summer I learned that there were no hurricanes in Panama, plenty of infrastructure, friendly people and warm weather.

We ventured into the old City of Casco Viejo, out to the beaches of Santa Clara and into the jungle 3 hours down a winding road from Santiago. We boarded a speed boat and enjoyed an entire day and night out on Tobaga Island. From the condo we stayed in we could see the ships as they waited in line to go through the Panama Canal. While on the island we enjoyed an entire Saturday and Sunday with no internet, it was absolutely liberating.

In 7 days we ate, drank, swam in the ocean, enjoyed siestas and made some new friends. We happily lived without our Blackberries, or as I use to call them, Crackberries. Oddly enough the first two days without checking the silly thing to see if someone sent me an email was tough, then well it was actually liberating. Along the way we enjoyed wifi at most hotels, I was easily able to connect with my team, answer client questions and even make phone calls.

I learned a valuable lesson that I don’t think I could have here in the states where my phone easily let’s me get interrupted all day long. I learned that while I’m pretty important to some people, everyone who wanted to connect with me had no problem waiting a few hours or even until the next day or so to get a reply. Not responding with in seconds or minutes to an email didn’t make the earth spin out of control or my business to suffer. It actually helped me gain focus, clarity and some much needed relaxation.

Fearing the unknown often times keeps us stuck, makes it impossible for us to enjoy the life we truly want. Life is meant for us to enjoy it ~ so make a list of the places you want to visit, the things you want to do and start doing them.

Economic Conditions Have Turned Off The Light

Due to current economic conditions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off…

I saw this posted at the end of an email I received today. I know it was meant to be funny, and I did laugh when I first read it. Then I couldn’t get the impact of the statement out of my head. It kept repeating like a song that gets stuck in your head.

I want to believe the glass is half full. As a person trying to live in the real world and on the internet, the very thought that there is no longer any light at the end of the tunnel is devastating.

Fortunately I surround myself with fantastic people who always believe in a better tomorrow. Small business entrepreneurs, they come from all walks of life and they all believe in the light.

One guy buys distressed homes in the nicer blue-collar parts in town, doing most of the contractor type work himself he fixes them up. A new coat of paint, kitchen floor and clean the carpet so he can make them available for rent at affordable rates. Investing his future in the housing market in these economic conditions is a very risky and long-term investment. But he believes the light at the end of the tunnel is on.

Another couple of business owners started their own niche bar and club, party style, tour business. They work to bring paying customers to not only the larger clubs in Las Vegas, but the smaller locals style mom and pop bars around town.

They lead by example. Not only do they have fun making money while having a rolling party, but they are actively bringing the stimulus through the doors the local businesses need.

And another guy, no longer working at a local Vegas club decided to build an online business he could pass to his son after his college graduation. I’m assuming that he’s going to need a good hearty income to pay off his college loans.

He chose the niche market of sports clothing. He’s not trying to run Nike out of business or take jobs away from Big-5 Sporting or even Wal-Mart. But he does believe that even in these economic times, if you have a dream your willing to combine it with hard work there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

By surrounding myself with people who still believe in a brighter future. The people who will never except that economic conditions are so bad its time to turn the light off.

I can change that song in my head, change it to a song I learned as a child.

And with the current economic conditions, it’s needed more today than ever.

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine…

How Word of Mouth Promotion Can Help You Make Money Online

A lot of people have turned to blogging to make money online. These blogs range from providing up-to-date information about a specific type of product, topic or service like digital cameras, marathons, hemorrhoids, restaurants, etc. You name it and there’s bound to be a blog that talks about it on the internet.

But blogs are not just used for promoting products and services. Professionals from different industries have also discovered that they can make money from blogging by building a community of avid followers.

They start by building a personal brand and reputation online. Likewise, they put themselves out there and let people know that they genuinely want to help them. They then provide a mountain of tips and advices on their blog and sneak in some sales pitches in between to entice them to buy a product or two or even to avail of their services and in the process, make money online.

People, as well all know, are constantly looking for solutions to their problems online. So if they stumble upon your blog which is full of insights, suggestions and tips that are specific to their problems, they would not just visit your blog often, they would also want to share it with their personal network of family and friends! As your followers grow in number, so does your potential to make money online.

The question here now is, “how do you make sure that people find your blog?”

There are many ways to promote your blog online and I’m pretty sure that you’re well aware of some of them. However, there’s one channel that many professional marketers overlook and that is through word of mouth promotion. I know, it sounds pretty old school. But hey, it works and here’s how!

1. A Personal Encounter Has More Impact Than An Online Interaction

Let’s admit it! We can all remember our first date, our first kiss, our first car or even funny incidents with family and friends. It gives us a mental picture that we can easily pull out of our memory and share with others or just to reminisce about it.

This is also true with networking in person. Meeting people in the flesh and engaging them in a lively conversation has more impact than if you were just chatting online or exchanging comments on Facebook or Twitter. Not only that but you will leave a lasting impression which can be strengthened further when they visit your blog and read about your insightful thoughts and recommendations.

Although engaging people online in discussions has its merits, think of how you’re missing out on their expressions and reactions. A personal encounter on the other hand won’t give them a chance to conceal what they’re really thinking or feeling and you can immediately find ways to assure them or provide them with a solution. Of course, don’t forget to let them know about your blog so they could still find you online after your meet up.

2. A Personal Encounter Can Lead To A Community Of Prospects

You might be wondering how this is possible but I tell you, a number of marketers have found networking events are a goldmine of potential business to make money online.

Joining networking events and conferences such as one that is sponsored by your local chamber of commerce would give you ample opportunity to meet with industry leaders and influential people. These people would naturally have their own community of followers who they can influence and if you can get them to see the value of what you’re offering, you would have a huge chance to market to their followers as well!

Mike Eagar of Wildfire Marketing shared how word of mouth marketing had helped him sell thousands of books about social media from just one community at a time when eBook readers hardly existed.

What he did first was identify the trade shows and conferences that would attract influential leaders to join. He would then contact the organizers and provide free resources as well as conduct workshops based on the book that he was selling. However, he made it his top priority to build personal relationships with the leaders of the community.

One event alone led him to conduct more than 20 large speaking engagements that subsequently resulted to thousands of books sold!

Even though this example involved the physical selling of books, this is relevant to promoting your blog too and make money online. For instance, if you’re a social media marketer who offers coaching and social media marketing services, you can reach out to potential businesses that are looking to break in to the social media arena and use its power to boost their business from these networking events. These businesses would know of other businesses that would also want to take advantage of the internet’s reach and they can very well recommend you to them and so on.

So don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing in promoting your blog and selling your products and services on the internet. It is without a doubt a channel that every professional marketer should exploit to make money online.

Three SEO Strategies That High Ranking Websites Always Follow

Great people do not do different things. They do the same things differently. Well, this phrase is equally applicable to create websites as well. The basics of search engine optimization and social media integration are the same for everybody. The attitude and approach adopted by the webmasters makes all the difference. Let us look at some important differences between popular websites and those websites that fail to make an impression on search engines.

Always Changing, Improving And Evolving

Search engine optimization is a frustrating task primarily because it is always changing. In the beginning, stuffing the webpage with keywords was enough to improve your rankings. Then, Google started penalizing keyword spam and created the distinction between White Hat and other SEO techniques. The latest update by Google penalizes poor quality content. Judging the quality of content of your site through an algorithm may sound impossible. However, Google is making use of algorithms to weed out those websites that offer rehashed content without offering anything new.

Great sites never relax as far as search engine opposition is concerned. They never conclude that they have identified the golden formula and that they need not bother about SEO ever again. They are eager to identify newer solutions and want to find out how such solutions can help them improve rankings. If you want a one-time ticket to online popularity, then you will have to face many disappointing failures. Remaining popular on the Internet requires constant adaptation.

Search Engines Are Secondary. People Come First

This may sound sacrilegious to some SEO experts. To cater to people without bothering about search engines can lead to disastrous consequences. What is the point of setting up a website with high quality content if surfers cannot find it? Well, great websites believe that it is impossible to suppress good content online. If your content is good, then you will automatically become popular even if you are not focusing on search engine optimization.

Of course, this does not mean you should completely ignore optimization. However, your readers and viewers should be preferred over stats about your traffic. Keep your readers happy and they will spread word about your website without being asked to do so. Getting 100,000 web surfers to talk about your website is a lot simpler if you simply provide high-quality content.

Instead of spending a lot of money on expensive SEO strategists, you can adopt this simple approach and extract more value out of your investment.

Never Be In A Hurry For Results

Despite the release of panda and penguin updates by Google, it is possible to manipulate search engines and improve your rankings. However, such a short-term approach is only going to lead to complications. For starters, you can never be certain that your popularity is sustainable. If you focus on the long-term, then you will automatically make use of White Hat SEO techniques that focus on adding value at all times.

Make sure you follow these strategies. The best option is to employ an SEO expert who understands the importance of such an approach. This will help you focus on offering better quality products and services to your customers without worrying about the popularity of your website.

Being Smart About Car Security

Most cars today have the option of remote keyless entry, it’s just that many people don’t really know how to make the most of it. The common questions that arise are what happens when I press all the buttons on the key. Many are also sceptical about the safety associated with such a key if it can open a door from over 20ft away. Many also wonder about the possibility of someone else being able to open the door of the car with a similar key.

There are two basic remote keyless entry devices that are in the market. The first is a fob that is on your key ring which will lock and unlock your doors. Many keys also come with a means to arm and disarm an alarm on your car. The other kind is a small controller that is usually hung from your sun visor that will help you open a garage door. They can be part of home security systems that are remote control based.

For the first kind, that is a fob with a keychain, works with a small radio transmitter. When you press the relevant button on the fob, it sends out a coded signal to the receiver which either in the car or in the garage and this triggers the action to be completed.

Security of course is a big issue with remote keyless entry car keys. If it were that simple, then people would be opening each other’s cars and this could be a huge security threat. There are however ways and means in which each key is personalized and does not work when it comes to another car. It all is based on the programming of the chip that is inside the key and its transmitter and receiver.

There are several advantages to using a keyless entry system for your car. For one it is an efficient means of securing your car. It is simple enough to use and easy enough to reprogram to suit your needs. It works as a means of entry into the car, a means to lock it and to trigger a theft alarm whenever required. All of these advantages put together make it an excellent means of car security. It is also compact and is easily incorporated into your key or onto the key ring that you have. Such electronically created devices often have a fool-proof level of efficiency to them.

The Kinds Of Car Keys To Choose From

The automotive industry has come a long way and today car keys are no longer the old style mechanical cut versions. Of course there are several brands that still use this form of keys, but there are numerous other versions out there as well. In mechanical keys, they are machine cut as the name suggests and are more popular with brands such as Ford, GM or even Chevrolet. There are quite a few truck models too that works with these forms of keys. Despite the numerous models of cars on the road, the machine cut continues to be a favourite.

The next version you have is the laser cut automotive keys. These are the advanced versions of the machine cut keys and are also called the sidewinder or the internal cut keys. They have a square edge which have matching cuts on either side. These can fit into a car’s ignition any way you like. Their advantages are that they are not easy to pick and will need specialized help. There is a unique software used in its production and those manning the machines will need specialized training as well. These are found in luxury brand cars like that of Mercedes as well as Audi.

There are several other popular styles of car keys available. You have the transponder keys that have a minute computer chip inserted in the key handle. This is for additional ignition security and to prevent the key from being forged. There is the remote or the switchblade form of transponder keys.

Then you have the smart keys which have a laser cut key that is built in. These kinds of keys gives the driver the flexibility of entering the car and starting it without actually taking the key out of his pocket. Then you have what is known as the VATS keys. This has a unique chip on the blade which though not electronic in nature, has got the name.

And then you have what are known as valet keys. These are given along with a regular transponder key. There is however a slight modification to it, where you can open doors and ignition, but not a locked boot or trunk. These can be made out of plastic or metal.

There are several varieties of keys and the kind you get will depend on the kind of vehicle you pick up. This is essential to the safety of your car and you.

What Do I Like To Do Business Concepts – Wax My Car

Every weekend, my neighbor gets out and washers, waxes, and details his sports car. I swear he must love that thing, probably more than his wife. Interestingly enough, I know a thing or two about cleaning and detailing automobiles. In fact, I had built up a mobile auto detailing and mobile car washing business, and then franchised it serving some 23 states and 450 different cities. We cleaned fleets of vehicles, car lots, and personal cars and office buildings. It was a fun business because I loved cars, and it grew from there.

Might I suggest if you are considering starting your own business, that you consider doing something that you love to do? Whatever is your passion, that’s where you should be focusing your energy, and you should try to stick within that category. Running a business is hard work, and you’ll have to spend lots of hours, so you may as well do something that you love. Then it doesn’t seem so onerous, and the time spent isn’t boring. Now then, if you love automobiles, especially high-end cars, then you might like to do mobile auto detailing.

This is where you travel to the customer’s car in a specialized mobile detailing rig with everything set up inside, and then you clean and detail a person’s car for a very high price onsite. Basically, you are making their car look new again, and you are building your business through referrals in the process. What does it take to start a business like this? Well, there are tools of the trade, and you can find out about these things online. Once you have the right equipment you’ll need to do some marketing, and you can find books on this.

Why would you wish to be stuck in an office, when you are a car buff? You see, it would hardly make sense to be stuck in a career that you didn’t enjoy, and you felt as if you were stuck in an economically enslaved prison set up just so you could pay your bills. You must follow your passion, follow your dreams, and do what feels right. Far too many people start businesses that they think will make money, but they don’t enjoy doing. As they lose interest, they stop paying attention to the details, and eventually the business fails.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and if you are like me, and you like cars, then starting a mobile car wash, or a mobile detailing business might be right up your alley. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Immersing in New Cultures Through Travel

There is often pressure to see the sights when you travel to a place for the first time. These sights often have more tourists than space for you to move. You may be at the Eiffel Tower, but you share the experience with a few hundred other strangers. Your photos include strangers’ faces and most of your memories include waiting in line.

This may be the price you pay to see the world’s famous sights, but it is no way to experience unique cultures. Travel is not simply taking a photograph next to monuments; it is experiencing something new and far from your comfort zone. Below are some tips to help you get to know your travel destination beyond travel guides and pre-made itineraries:

Go off Book

Having a travel itinerary saves you time and money. You can get a lot done by following your schedules to the minute. Despite this, you can get to know a place better if you do away with overly strict time tables. When planning a trip, make approximate schedules to give you time to savor each activity or place. Instead of taking a tour bus, you may want to experience public transportation and get to know the city.

Choose an Interesting Hotel

You do not have to leave your hotel to experience your location. Some places have well-known hotels with themes and historical value. You can even look at accommodations in an art district hotel. You can very well get to know the true image of a city by visiting artisan and specialty shops around this district. People around these places are usually cultured and interesting to strike a conversation with.

Lose Yourself

A wrong turn into small streets can be scary, but it is an adventure for the true traveler. Allow yourself to be lost one day but make sure you have the money to return to your hotel. This is a good way to walk into quaint little establishments and remove you from places with too many tourists. Even asking a local for directions can have you learning something new about the place in no time.

Try the Local Cuisine

Food is the best and easiest way to get to know a place. Skip the big coffee shop brands and international fast food chains. You can order local dishes on restaurants, but if you want to experience the real flavors of the special cuisine, dine in hole-in-the-wall eateries. You will experience authentic local food while saving money as these places do not often charge big money for dishes.

Travel during Holidays and Festivals

Each place has their traditions and holidays. If you have a flexible vacation schedule, book your trip in time for big holidays and festivities. This is when the locals come out and wear their cultures with pride. There is often a lot of action and activity surrounding special holidays. It could be a learning experience or just a really fun weekend for any outsider looking in.

The world is too big and life is too short to spend it in one place. Splurging on experiences has longer positive effects than spending all your money on material possessions. You no longer have to be afraid of travel expenses. There are plenty of ways to get discounts if you know where to look. Check online resources for features of hotel types such as an art district hotel.

How to Safely Remove Paint Transfer From a Vehicle Without Scratching

How To Properly Remove Paint Transfers From Your Automobile

It’s been staring you in the face now for weeks. Taunting you every time you walk past your car. Those unsightly red marks on your nice white bumper that just showed up one day when you went to the grocery store. No matter how hard you scrub when you wash your car they never seem to go away! Those red marks are referred to as paint transfers and by following these steps you can finally say, “Good Bye!”, to those unsightly blemishes.

Things You Will Need:

  1. Water Hose
  2. Water Hose Nozzle
  3. 5 Gallon Bucket
  4. Automotive Washing Soap
  5. Automotive Washing Brush
  6. Water Blade
  7. Drying Towels
  8. Automotive Clay Bar
  9. Automotive Clay Bar Lubricant
  10. Automotive Cutting Compound
  11. Automotive Cutting Compound Pads
  12. Automotive Detailing Polish
  13. Polish Pads
  14. Automotive Wax (A High Grade Acrylic Sealer Wax is Recommended)
  15. Automotive Wax Pads
  16. Microfiber Towels

STEP #1: Place enough automotive car wash soap to cover the bottom of your 5 gallon bucket and fill with water using your water hose and water hose nozzle.

STEP #2: Rinse your entire vehicle using the high pressure position on your water nozzle to rinse free any loose dirt from your vehicle.

STEP #3: Using your automotive wash brush and soap to clean your entire vehicle.

STEP #4: Rinse the vehicle clean of automotive soap.

STEP #5: Using your water blade, make long continuous strokes from top to bottom to remove water from the vehicle.

STEP #6: After the majority of the water from your vehicle has been removed with your water blade, use your drying towel to completely dry the exterior of your vehicle, paying close attention to seems and joints where water collects. NOTE: not completely drying your vehicle to hinder the following processes.

STEP #7: After your vehicle has been completely dried, spray the Automotive Clay Bar lubricant generously over the paint transfer area. Immediately after apply the lubricant gently take the automotive detailing clay and gently, using a back and forth motion paying close attention not to apply any undue pressure, rub the clay onto the paint. The automotive detailing clay removes any foreign particles that may have bonded to your paint. These particles can cause scratches and swirl marks during the compounding, polishing and waxing process if not removed. After you have completed the clay bar process use your microfiber to wipe the excess lubricant from the area.

STEP #8: Apply a small amount of automotive cutting compound to your compound pad and place onto the paint transfer area. Gently cover the entire paint transfer area with the cutting compound. After you have covered the paint transfer with cutting compound begin to make quick, circular motion with the cutting pad applying a generous amount of pressure. After the cutting compound has become semi translucent, buff off with your microfiber towel. NOTE: This process may need to be repeated if the paint transfer is still present.

STEP #9: Once the paint transfer has been removed apply a small amount of automotive detailing polish to your polish pad and with tight, circular motions apply to the compounded area until you can longer see the polish. Once you can longer see the polish buff the area with your microfiber towel.

STEP #10: After the automotive detail polish has been buffed clean, apply your wax to your wax pad and in tight, circular motions apply wax to the compounded and polished area. Once the wax has been applied and has turned to a white haze, buff the area with your microfiber pad until all the excess wax has been buffed clear.

NOTE: Generally during a professional detail the entire vehicle will have the automotive detail clay process applied to the vehicle as well as the waxing process.

Your New Woodwrking Business – Knowing What To Charge

When selling your wood projects, what you charge for your final product is an important aspect of your woodworking business. If your prices are too high, you will lose customers, but if your prices are too low you risk the ability of having a profitable business that will provide you with the necessary income. This is a challenge that faces many woodworkers when starting a new woodworking business.

A good formula for determining a good price point for any specific product is to calculate the costs of materials, shop supplies, shop expenses and any subcontractor fees.

The total of these expenses is multiplied by whatever number that gives you a product price that is equal to your anticipated profit and your costs combined. Although this is pretty basic, it can be a little tricky.

Here’s a simple way to calculate all of the cost factors involved.

First, base your material costs on the price of the wood used and add 15% for waste. Add in any cost of fasteners, hardware and shop supplies like sandpaper, thinners, solvents, etc.

The next step is to come up with an overall hourly rate for your shop. The best way to do this is to combine your shop expenses with what you want to charge for your own time and labor.

Start by calculating all your woodworking business shop expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, machinery maintenance, advertising and any other shop related costs. The easiest way to come up with an hourly figure for your own time is to determine how much you would be earning if you worked for somebody else.

An average month has 4.33 weeks, and if you plan on a 40 hour week that comes out to about 175 hours a month. Add up all of your shop expenses and divide that total by 175. Now take that number and add it to what you want to charge for personal labor and you now have your shop’s hourly rate.

You now have a basic outline of how to calculate prices for any of your products. Here is a simple example:

Let’s keep the numbers simple and assume that your shop expenses are $875.00 each month. That would come out to $5.00 an hour for a 175 hour month.

Now add you’re your personal labor charge. Let’s use $20.00/hour for this example.

So the shop’s hourly labor rate would be:

$5.00 + $20.00 = $25.00

The materials for this project cost $300.00 and the time spent was 30 hours. Your price for the project should be:

($25.00 x 30) + $300.00 = $1050.00

At this point, you need to determine whether or not you are going to add in any amount for your profit margin. This is important to any woodworking business and should be added. The industry standard is 15%.

For this example the profit margin would be 15% of $1050.00 or $157.50 and you would add this to come up with a final price.

$1050.00 + 157.50 = $1207.50 Final Price

This is a pretty basic approach to calculating product costs based on your overall expenses and it is effective. Of course, if your expenses are very low your prices will also be lower and more affordable. On the other hand, high expenses have the opposite effect. A good reputation is very important to your woodworking business, so be fair and give good quality for the money.