Archive | 2014

Website Performing Badly? Speed it Up With These Tips

Optimizing your website for maximum speed when loading pages in a browser is extremely important if you want to retain visitors to your website. Statistics show that the average Internet user will wait 3 seconds or less for a page to load before they venture off of your site and go browse somewhere else.

Before you can engage your website visitor with your valuable content, you must first insure that they stay on your site long enough to see your content. You can do that by insuring your Home Page loads fast and that load speed is consistent throughout the rest of your pages.

There are specific tasks that you can complete to insure that your site loads fast and remains that way. None of these tasks are particularly difficult nor expensive. You do NOT need to work tirelessly on SEO to accomplish good page loading speed.

Let’s look at some of the most important page load optimization strategies and then I’ll show you where the “tweaks” can be found in your back-office.

In these examples, we will be using a WordPress website since WordPress dominates the content delivery platform on the Internet.

Visitors to my website blog frequently comment that the site that you are on right now, ScottAlanReed Dot Com, loads extremely fast. And they wonder if I’m doing some tricks to make that happen. I’M NOT! I’ll show you in the video, exactly what I do to insure fast load time.

 

Get an IP Address That Is Yours, and Yours Alone

 

By default, when you sign up with a web hosting company, your site shares an IP address with any number of other websites at the same hosting service. That means that your web traffic is competing with the web traffic of other websites that are sharing the same IP address that your site uses.

If those other websites are getting a lot of traffic, yours slows down and vice versa. This leaves your load time at the mercy of whoever is sharing the same IP address as you. So stop sharing your IP address with other websites so that the speed of your website is not dependent on theirs.

Think of an IP address as being the highway into and out of a web server, and one to many domains . You share that highway with other websites; but you don’t have to. My hosting company (Bluehost.com) offers a dedicated IP address to my website for about $4.85/month. My IP address is mine alone. I don’t share that highway with anyone. I share the web server with others. But the highway into and out of my website belongs to me.

If my website ever slows to a crawl, I would want to consider getting and paying for a dedicated server so that I can monopolize the memory and CPU power of the server for my needs alone. That would be expensive at $125/month. That time will arrive soon enough. For now, I recommend a dedicated IP address for your website in order to boost your sites page load time.

 

Run Your Domain On CloudFlare – It’s Free

 

CloudFlare is a CDN or Content Delivery/Distributed Network. A CDN is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers around the world and Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.

CloudFlare works just like Amazon.com. Amazon owns hundreds of data centers around the world.

Amazon handles an incredible amount of traffic quickly by recognizing the visitor’s geographical location and then by connecting the visitor to the Amazon data center that is geographically closest to them in order to maximize the speed of the Amazon website.

I use CloudFlare for ScottAlanReed.com and several of my other websites. I don’t pay anything for this service. Use of CloudFlare speeded up my blog website dramatically and is the primary reason why I am able to achieve fast page load times.

I’ll show you how to add your website to CloudFlare in the video below.

Also there is a CloudFlare plugin that you must install, but it’s also free and there are no complicated options to set up. All of the plugins that I mention in this article are free from WordPress.org and can be found in Plugins | Add New | Plugin Name (or search).

If you have heard a rumor that the CloudFlare network is rife with spammers, don’t believe it. I heard the same rumor a year ago before I started using CloudFlare. My sites are not getting spammed nor attacked. So much for rumors.

Use a Caching Plugin

 

You absolutely must have a cache plugin on your website. A cache stores the most frequently accessed pages and page elements of your website in memory so that they can be retrieved quickly the next time the page is accessed. If you are not using a cache, every single page on your site that is accessed is being fetched from disc or the server HDD. Fetching something from disc is a slow process.

There are good cache plugins and not so good cache plugins. I recommend WP Super Cache created by Automattic, W3 Total Cache, or WP Super Cache – Clear All Cache.  Yoast has a caching plugin that is good but it has a ton of settings. They can be complicated to set up. But the one that I use isn’t too technical. And it gets the job done. This speed enhancing strategy is likely the second most effective page load speed booster, second only to CloudFlare.

 

Keep a Handle on Article Revisions, Visitor Comments, and WordPress Databases

 

In the course of composing new article content for your website, you create multiple revisions of the same article. Every time you save your work, you create another draft copy of the article that you are creating.

I have over 60 articles on my blog. It’s not uncommon for me to have 10 revisions of one article before I am ready to publish that article. If that were true for all articles that would be 600 copies of content of which I am only concerned with the final published draft of 60 articles.

Get rid of the old revisions. They drag down the performance of your website.

User Comments can do the same thing. It’s not unusual for me to have 4-6 thousand SPAM comments every couple of days residing in the SPAM queue waiting for my review and approval.

Not all of these comments are really SPAM. A SPAM comment on my website is any comment that contains more than two links. The primary link in a comment is the name of your website. Your e-mail address is another link. If you put something in the body of your comment like “please visit my blog at this link and tell me what you think”, that is a third link and your comment will fall into the SPAM queue.

Many websites automatically delete SPAM sight-unseen by the site owner. Most SPAM must be deleted manually. Since not all SPAM is really SPAM, I review most SPAM quickly and look for the comments that were made by the visitor who never intended to SPAM my site. It is easy to accidentally create SPAM. I have found some of my best and most constructive comments in SPAM. It’s obvious that the person who created the comment did not intend to create SPAM. And it’s a simple matter to weed out the offending link and approve the comment.

However, no one has the time to review and edit 6,000 SPAM comments. I’ll peruse a half-dozen pages of SPAM and delete the rest. Leaving massive numbers of unapproved comments in your comments queue will drag down the performance of your website. I’ve seen SPAM comments occupy 166 pages in the SPAM queue. That’s like pulling an anchor around your website. Get rid of that dead weight and do it often.

Fortunately, there is a handy WordPress plugin called “Optimize Databases After Deleting Revisions” that will handle this. The plugin not only keeps your WordPress databases clean, it also deletes all old article revisions (except the most recent revision) AND empties the SPAM queue for you.

I’ll demo this plugin for you in the video below so that you will see the actual size of my website in megabytes before and after optimization. There’s a big difference. The larger your website in megabytes or gigabytes the slower it runs, unless you have taken steps to compensate for this, like moving your site to a dedicated server. It isn’t necessary to do that with most sites. And as I said before, dedicated servers are expensive.

Getting back to the “Optimize Databases After Deleting Revisions” plugin,I run this plugin after reviewing comments in order to keep my site running on all cylinders. You should too.

 

WordPress Plugins Can Impede Performance

 

This is kind of a touchy matter. You need plugins on your site. But too many or the wrong plugins can be a drag on performance. It’s a judgment call. You will have to decide if the plugin functionality is worth the drag it puts on performance. Just don’t get “plugin happy” because plugins will come with a price in lost performance for your site.

Really “heavy duty” plugins should be tested in advance of use. If performance has been affected, your visitors will let you know in their comments when page load times are slower or are getting intolerable. By “heavy duty” I mean plugins that are described as doing just about everything you can imagine except shine your shoes.

If you are not using a plugin, deactivate it and then choose to delete the plugin’s files. Deactivation does not remove the plugins files, which means that the plugin PHP code still resides on your website. When WordPress prompts you with “Delete Files?” upon deactivating a plugin, choose “Yes”. If you change your mind and find a use for the plugin you can always reinstall it.

 

Don’t Host Your Own Videos

 

Most video files are huge. Do not store them in the Media section of your WordPress website. There are plenty of free video hosting websites available. YouTube is the most obvious one. Wistia.com will also store videos for free with their free plan. Vimeo also offers free video hosting accounts.

 

Be Conscious of Image Sizes

 

Using photos on your website is important for illustration and engaging your audience. But the use of too many photos, or photos that are too large can drag down page load times. There’s no sense in loading a 20MB image file when you’re only going to display it as 300×300 pixels! Image quality is important, but only if it is noticeable. Image quality is achieved by using higher pixel concentrations (resolution). But resolutions in excess of 72 dpi (dots per inch) are not appropriate for the Web.

There are some plugins that will help you control the impact of images on your page loads. The WP Smush.it plugin will optimize JPEG compression and strip the unnecessary metadata to make photo files smaller. You might also consider the Lazy Load plugin, which will only load images when they are visible to the user.

 

Optimize Your JavaScript and CSS

 

If you still cannot get a handle on slow page loads, you might consider plugins to optimize your JavaScript and CSS. I do not use these plugins because my page load speed is good. But as websites increase in size (and they will as you add more content over time) these plugins will help speed things up.

 

For the longest time, one of the most trusted solutions for shrinking down your CSS and JavaScript files was a plugin called WP Minify. It’s still pretty good at making those files far more compressed and efficient, but the plugin hasn’t been updated for over two years. A more up to date solution would be Autoptimize, which effectively performs the same kinds of actions to your JavaScript, and CSS.

 

Summing It All Up

 

This is how I achieve fast page loads on Scott Alan Reed Dot Com. No tricks.

  • Get your own dedicated IP address.
  • Subscribe your website to CloudFlare. It’s free and it makes a big difference.
  • Use a caching plugin to cache pages and other elements that are accessed or viewed most often.
  • Use a plugin to clean your WordPress databases, the SPAM queue, and old revisions of posts.
  • Minimize plugin use. Delete plugin code that you are not using.
  • Do not store video files on your website. Use a service. Many offer free accounts.
  • Avoid huge photo files. 72 dpi resolution is sufficient for the Web. If unsure about resolution, look at the file properties.

I have not had a need to implement the following for faster page loads.

  • Use a plugin to optimize your JavaScript and CSS files.

If you have implemented all of the above steps but are still facing unacceptable page load speed, I would first consider looking around for a better hosting service. And if that doesn’t resolve your problem, you may need to consider putting your website on a dedicated file server.

Most web hosts offer several packages for improving website performance. Some hosts have optimization consulting experts on staff and available for a nominal fee. They will evaluate your website to insure that it is running at peak performance.

Web hosting is highly competitive. And because of competition, these companies use special service offerings to  compete against each other. Take advantage of these services. Since competition is stiff, these services are often offered to you at bargain prices.

10

We’re Mad as Hell! And We’re Not Going to Take It Anymore!

I rarely write about politics. Primarily for two reasons. My feeling has been that government is just too big and complicated to deal with anymore. So there’s nothing one person can do about political issues except vote.

Secondly, it’s easier for me to be apathetic and look the other way than it is to complicate my life with daily worrying about political issues that I can do nothing about.

So I’m guilty; guilty as hell. I’m guilty of not giving a rip about what goes on in Washington D.C..  And it’s that kind of attitude that has got us where we are today. I contribute to that mess. And I’m sure that a lot of other folks do too.

However, I have some good news and some bad news……..

First, The Good News

The good news is that  it’s no longer a secret what is wrong with our economy and government. Some say it’s an Obama problem. It isn’t. Some say it’s a problem with Democrats in general. That’s not true. Others say we didn’t have these problems until we pushed this “global economy” thing and now that the whole world is just one giant economy, our political/economic affairs are in shambles.

But everyone seems to know that a big problem does indeed exist. That’s good. That’s a start….

The White House

Neither party seems to be able to put forth true leaders for President. What ever happened to the Abe Lincoln’s, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s, and the John F. Kennedy’s of the world? You know; people who could lead and had vision. We’re in a leadership vacuum with only a 40% approval rating for the current President.

The Congress

What happened to our representation in Congress? We elect a bunch of “no-bodies” that no one ever heard of and then once they arrive in D.C., their only interest is in getting rich on our tax dollars and spending whatever is left over. Have you ever wondered why one candidate would spend $100 million dollars in order to gain a seat in Congress? That new record was set in the most recent mid-term election by a candidate for the U.S. Senate, who would represent North Carolina, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

What is it that causes candidates to desperately risk anything and everything in order to get a seat in the federal government? I don’t think that it has anything to do with representing the issues that most concern you and I.

The Judicial Branch

The judiciary branch is supposed to be non-partisan. But the judges on the Supreme Court are appointed by the sitting President, and the President takes care to appoint a “good ole boy” whose philosophy is closely akin to that of the President and the President’s party. So much for the non-partisan part.

How many more years is the Court going to debate abortion? That debate began in 1973. How long will gay rights be debated? The debate started in 2003 with Lawrence vs. Texas. That was eleven years ago. Is there anyone in our government who is capable of making a decision?

Oops! There’s Also Bad News

Now the bad news…. We let all this happen. By we, I mean all of us. We have been apathetic all these years about what takes place in Washington D.C. primarily because we all feel that there’s nothing to be done about it.

Like I said, I’m just as guilty as you are. But as the old adage goes, “you can try the patience of a saint”. I’m not a saint but I’ve been told more than once that I’m pretty short on patience. Now I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. You may feel the same way once you watch the following video.

I don’t know where this video came from. Somebody uploaded it to YouTube in March 2009. Our current President took office January 1 of the same year. One of my wife’s good friends sent the video to us in e-mail and my wife asked me to watch it.

It’s easy to be apathetic about politics and then go on with your life. But when someone throws everything that is wrong with government in your face in 6 minutes, it’s pretty intense. I was livid. I was aware of the issues. But, due to my disinterest in politics, I try not to think about them.

  1. Why are our “public servants” in Congress exempt from Social Security when the rest of us are expected to live on a puny S.S. check once we turn 62 years of age?
  2. Why do our “public servants” get to retire on full pay for life when the majority of the people that they represent cannot even make ends meet in retirement? After the Great Recession,  many “baby boomers” can no longer afford to retire.
  3. Why do our “public servants” get fee medical/dental insurance for life when the rest of us get “Obamacare”?
  4. Why do our “public servants” vote on their own pay raises in secret when their constituents haven’t see a pay raise in years? (Caterpillar Tractor Co. comes to mind. Bloomfield Business Week Magazine recently reported that workers at Caterpillar haven’t seen a pay raise in over 10 years).

Now Let’s Cut to the Video!

I’m going to stop jabbering for fear of getting myself into more hot water. WATCH THE VIDEO! It’s good and it’s well done. How good, you say?

I’ll share this with you. I received unverified information that a White House staffer discovered the video on YouTube and made Mr. Obama aware of the video. Obama watched it and was deeply disturbed by its content. So much so that he secretly summoned the video creator (a civilian) to the White House. Before doing that, he instructed his staff not to mention or talk about the video or the meeting with the video’s author. There was to be no press or even an acknowledgement that the White House knew anything about the video. As I said, I cannot verify this information. Take it for what it’s worth. It came to me via an e-mail stream from people that I know and trust. WATCH THE VIDEO.

So how did that feel? I was pretty much left speechless. How much of our money do you suppose is being wasted in Washington D.C.?

Don’t even attempt to answer that. So what now? I’m not feeling quite so apathetic anymore. I seem to have been shaken out of my political stupor. Or maybe it was the video in combination with the most recent Congressional mid-term election fiasco.

Time to Take Action!

Here’s what I intend to do. First, I’ll send that tea bag to my Congressmen. I have plenty of tea bags. They need to get tea bags in the mail year round.

Then I will bookmark the contact information for the two Senators from my state (Wisconsin) and the House representative from my district. And I will be more vocal about what they are doing (if anything) in Congress.

Do you have any idea how easy it is to get on-line, click on a bookmark in your browser, and fire off an e-mail to your Congressional representatives to let them know how you feel about the issues at hand? I can do that. Heck, I send and receive all kinds of e-mail in the course of a day. Why shouldn’t I pop off a couple of e-mails and let my guys in Washington know what I think about the way that they are behaving?

What would happen if all of us did the same? Now that’s a pretty scary thought.

  1. How much money do you think this country could save if we asked Congress to retire on the average retirement stipend of their constituents instead of full pay for life?
  2. And as a bonus for our government representatives, let’s require them to pay into Social Security, just like we do. So that they can enjoy that Social Security check when it arrives every month after the age of 62. But they must be careful not to let greed overtake them. Because if they have any ideas about retiring rich, that puny little Social Security check gets taxed so that what’s left can barely buy a tank of gas. I know that from first-hand experience.
  3. How much more would our government save if we asked our Senators and Representatives to reduce their monthly pay to the average monthly pay of their constituents? No need to vote on raises anymore. If average monthly pay for their constituents goes up, so does the pay of Congressmen from that state or district. If it goes down, same deal for Congressmen. Maybe they would give a little more consideration to raising the minimum wage IF IT DIRECTLY IMPACTED THEIR PAY!
  4. How much more would this country save if we asked Congress to locate and buy their own medical and dental insurance, just like we do? Do you think that would change their opinion of ObamaCare, which the majority of the people in this country hate?

Why is it that our representatives in Washington D.C. do not live under the same set of laws and policies that we do?

Take Action With Me. I Did the Leg-work Below For You

I’ll stop pestering the issue now. I think you get the point. In order to make your life easier, here are the bookmarks that you need in order to fire off an e-mail to your Congressmen whenever the urge strikes you.

The House of Representatives (http://www.house.gov/)

  1.  In the upper right hand corner of the Home Page, just below the search bar, note that is says “Find your Representative”.
  2. Enter your zip code and click on Go.
  3. On the next page you’ll see a thumbnail photo of your representative on the left.
  4. Next to the thumbnail photo you’ll see a little envelope icon. Click on it.
  5. Now you are ready to type your e-mail and let your representative know what is on your mind. How hard was that?

(Hmmm. It says the House is not in session now, November 8, 2014. What a surprise! Did I miss a holiday or something?)

The Senate (http://www.senate.gov/)

  1.  Again, in the upper right-hand corner of the Home Page, you will see a drop-down menu where all you need to do is pick your state and click Go.
  2. Bingo. The next page displays your senators information.
  3. No thumbnail photos this time. But note that each Senator has their own website. Click on the link.
  4. That will take you directly to their contact page on their website where you can compose your message right on their page.
  5. Note that there is a check box so that you can request a response to your message from your Senator. How cool is that?

Now when writing to your Congressmen, there’s no need to be eloquent and proper. You are exercising your right to free speech. The contact information is there specifically for your use. Just be you. There’s something about being you that makes what you write become real. Does that make sense?

Be nice and be polite. Being nice gets results. Being rude, disrespectful, and going into a rant tends to get ignored.

Summing It All Up

I found the video to be so compelling that I had to do something. I hope that you feel the same way. I promise not to write about politics anymore.

My tea bags are on their way in the mail to my one Representative and my two Senators.

My bookmarks are saved in my browser. I think the first issue that I will raise in e-mail with my Congressmen will be about pay. I want to know how much I am paying them and how they feel about reducing that amount to the average pay of the constituents in their district or state.

And I think it’s only fair that I mention that I support performance raises. Their constituents can vote on their congressmen’s performance each year and also vote on what percentage increase/decrease they feel is warranted based on the performance rating scale. Let’s make this easy and do the voting online based on sufficient e-mail reminders from our representatives. We’ll work out the details later.

Did you watch the video in it’s entirety? Did you send your tea bags? Did you bookmark your representatives web page or website? Good for you! Now we’re doing something about the problems identified in the video, and we’re no longer sitting on our “bums”.

0

Where Did This Theme and Colors Come From?

So many visitors have asked me how this website template came into being. And they want to know how the websites color scheme was chosen; especially the “blended” woods and water theme on the Home Page.

Introducing a New Series of Articles on Blogging Finesse

I decided to tell the whole story of the template and colors as an introduction to a series of articles that I will be writing on blogging. Those articles will be slanted towards helping other bloggers to enhance their blog sites with custom templates and plugins.

I’ll also address the most worrisome characteristics when creating posts for a blog – writer’s block and writing style. What do you do when you can’t think of anything to write about? How do you start an article and get into what you really want to communicate? How do you know anyone will read what you have have written?

We’ll talk about those things in the upcoming blog series of articles. But for now, let’s talk about how this blog got started, the template, the theme, and the colors.

Here we go.

A Strange Name for a Website Blog

Some years ago, I think it was 2008, my wife (Mary) and I decided that we wanted to learn what all the fuss was about in Internet marketing. So we hired a consulting firm in Utah to teach us about Internet marketing, affiliate marketing, drop-ship marketing, and ecommerce marketing.

We were clueless at that point in time. We didn’t know anything about Internet marketing. What we did know was that I retired early, I had a technical background, and I needed something to do once I left my corporate 9-5 job.

We paid the consulting firm in Utah $13,000 for a six month program to build a website and teach us how to use it. The consulting firm had been recommended to us by Robert G. Allen, the real estate tycoon. The short video below features Robert talking about his new book, “Multiple Steams of Income”. He and Stephen Covey also co-authored “Multiple Steams of Internet Income”. Good stuff.

The decision was made that ecommerce training was a good place to start. So under the consulting firms direction, we began to create a website called ThisISthenorthwoods.com.

The consulting firm chose the web hosting company (Bluehost.com) and also chose the web development application, which would be WordPress.

The original domain name (ThisIStheNorthwoods.com) was kind of weird. But that’s all that we could come up with. The name of the website reflected a common phrase used in the Midwest that describes the most desirable place in the upper Midwest to visit and live – the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

The Northwoods refers to the extreme north of Wisconsin where woods, wilderness, and water are common. The Northwoods is a favorite vacation destination for residents of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri due to the endless woods and more than 10,0000 lakes. It is common for local Realtors, when selling land or residences in this area, to brag, “This IS the Northwoods” (with the emphasis on the word IS) insinuating that the property that they are selling is a true reflection of living in the very heart of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. They wanted to let their customers know that.

I had always had an interest in real estate and had earned my broker’s license ten years previous. In order to expand my real estate knowledge, I accepted an offer to manage a brokerage in the Northwoods for Coldwell Banker for a few years. So I was exposed daily to this local habit of bragging that the property being sold really IS in the deep Northwoods.

Thus the original website name. That would be changed later. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in this story.

What Would the Website Look Like?

The website would be an ecommerce site and we would sell things that are unique to the Northwoods and made by the local artisans in the area. These included things like air-brushed saw blades (the kind used to fell trees in the 1800s), books, photos, quilts, wood burning scenes on birch or kitchen cabinets, home-made candles scented with the smell of the Northwoods, and so on.

Our coach at the consulting firm that we hired, created a website using WordPress. I didn’t know anything about WordPress at the time; or any other website platform, for that matter.

They asked me what the theme should look like. I told them to make the theme look like the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Use fall colors and show some water and trees. The colors of northern Wisconsin are incredible in the fall. I sent them some photos of fall colors in this area (below). Can you guess which photo found it’s way onto the Home Page? It’s the one on the bottom left. The woods and water page header was also my idea. But even though I specified fall colors, the faint fall scene blended into each page background was Stephanie’s idea (our web developer). She deserves credit for some serious originality for that design.
Photo of fall leaves in northern WisconsinPhoto of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin

The design that Stephanie came up with was rather remarkable. That is the origin of the Home page. In addition to the $13,000 that we paid them to teach us the basics of Internet marketing, we paid Stephanie another $2,500 to design the Home page and create a template for the rest of the site. The photo thumbnails on the Home page were my idea. They provide links into the rest of the site to complement the main menu of links. I also insisted on a photo slider at the top of the Home page. I wanted something animated on the Home Page.

All of this was built on a paid theme from Woothemes.com called Coda. Coda is no longer available but Woo Themes has many other custom themes that I like even more than Coda. If you want a stand-out blog site, seriously consider a custom paid theme. They are not all that expensive.

Photo of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin 4

Photo of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fall colors used on the site are as follows.

Page background: DFCAA1 (I can’t remember the color name)
Page headings 556B2F (dark olive green)
Page text 7F532A (saddle brown)

ThisISthenorthwoods.com was supposed to be an eCommerce site but that’s not how it turned out, for a couple of reasons.

The website design was completed. But the website content was not. Our coach quit the consulting company we had hired and went to work as a communications expert for a Senator in Washington D.C.. Our replacement coach was an ATV nut from Salt Lake City and had little experience with WordPress. We didn’t know anything about WordPress at that point in time. So continued development got a bit rough.

We hobbled along with our second coach for a few months and then he left the consulting firm for another opportunity. Things got worse. We had the bare bones of a website but no content. To make matters worse, we had no idea how we would logistically acquire, package, and deliver durable goods made in the Northwoods or anywhere else for that matter.

The website languished. The consulting firm that we had hired did not offer us a replacement coach or a refund of the money that we had paid them. Instead they gave us lifetime access to their corporate website and course material as well as phone and email support forever. In other words, I think they expected us to teach ourselves about this Internet marketing thing.

They were very gracious and kept in touch with us. But with no plan and no direction, ThisIStheNorthwoods.com just sat there on the Internet while I paid the yearly hosting fees. It sure looked cool but it did essentially nothing since it had no content.

A year later, we still had the Internet marketing itch and hired yet another consulting firm to teach us the basics of affiliate marketing and drop ship. We paid them $9,000 for a six-month program. They were owned by Mike Filsaime, a legend in affiliate marketing. Due to Mike’s reputation, we knew that we were going to nail this Internet marketing thing and make some serious cash while having loads of fun doing it.

But That’s Not the Way That It Turned Out

My interest was in affiliate marketing. I was able to ascertain that that is where the money was at. Drop ship, and eCommerce seemed to be a pain since we had to deal with taking orders, shipping, returns, customer support etc..

But the new consulting firm that we hired wanted to start with drop ship and get into affiliate marketing later. So that is where we started.

I was bored with drop ship but muddled through and did the assignments for a couple of months. Then I started to miss appointments with my coach because I had not done the assignments.

And then the proverbial sh_t hit the fan. I discovered that material in my training manuals was outdated. Websites that I was supposed to study and review no longer existed. So I put the matter to my coach. He eventually admitted that some training material needed to be updated and commented that it was a challenge to keep everything up to date in a fast moving environment like the Internet. So I asked him directly, “am I learning outdated material, old strategies, and old methods of doing things that likely will never work in today’s environment. He reluctantly said Yes. And that was the end of that coaching program. There was no refund offered for the course fee.

So we were out in the cold again. And we still owned and paid hosting fees for ThisIStheNorthwoods.com which still did nothing except occupy server space.

I Took Matters into My Own Hands – No More Coaching

By that time, I was even more determined to master this affiliate marketing thing. So I got a Clickbank account and taught myself WordPress by building a new website called Onlinecashfromhome.com or something like that. The site featured all the top ways (and products) for making money from home via affiliate marketing.

To build the site I used a very challenging theme that was based on an online magazine framework. That is what made this theme so challenging. The framework seemed to have a mind of its own when it came to banner and article placement. It took months of trial and error to figure the framework out. I featured products like Clickbank Pirate, Commission Breakthrough, Stealth Profit Machines, Profit Siege, and many others. Once completed, this website was a marvel and I was a WordPress expert.

But I was clueless when it came to driving traffic to the site. And, of course, Google was not going to rank an affiliate marketing site. They hate affiliate marketers.

So this new site lasted for about six months and died a natural death. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I had mastered WordPress when building this site. So it was not a total loss.

Back to ThisIstheNorthwoods.com

With my new WordPress skills, I began to putz with our original, unfinished website. I like to write and I needed a release so I wrote some articles and published them. After all, ThisIStheNorthwoods.com was a WordPress site. And what is the most popular blogging platform on the Web – WordPress!

I still didn’t know how to drive traffic. And Google was not impressed that I had switched from affiliate marketing to blogging. So I waited. And before you knew it, I had comments from visitors. And then hundreds of comments. And they liked what I was writing! So I wrote more. I could hardly keep up with their demands. It was crazy. I still don’t know how these folks found my blog amongst the millions of other blog sites on the Internet.

It couldn’t be keywords that brought these visitors. Many of my articles had no keywords. I learned about SEO later. But to this day, my rule is this:

1. I write an article from the top of my head from start to finish.
2. Then I go back and ask myself – what is this article about? What are the main ideas and keywords/phrases.
3. If a keyword or phrase is not used within the article, I don’t claim it. My rule is that if it can’t be found in the article, it’s irrelevant.
4. I don’t write articles around keywords to get rank. I write what pops into my mind and worry about keywords later. I often wonder if other bloggers do the same. I heard the other day from the guy who writes the biggest blog on the Web that he finds the keywords first and then writes the article around the keywords. I thought you were supposed to write articles for people, not words?

The Domain Name Has to Go

I never did like ThisIStheNorthwoods.com. But it’s an intimidating task to change the domain name on an existing website. Especially when thousands of visitors have RSS feeds or bookmarks linked to your domain name.

Nonetheless, it had to be done. I hated the name. And it’s a personal blog. I wanted to brand my name. So I changed the name a couple of years ago but kept the old domain name for over a year and parked it so that it still pointed to scottalanreed.com. That way, bookmarks and RSS feeds would not break.

And then I let ThisIS theNorthwoods.com expire. It didn’t hurt that much. Traffic took a dip for about six months. Google changed the age of the website from five years old to brand new, which hurt any ranking that I had acquired due to website age. You can always depend on Google to screw you one way or another.

What’s in the Works For the Site?

More video!! I was on Jeff Walker’s personal blog and he has video on every article. I loved it. Never mind that he is a millionaire many times over and his videos are professionally done. On a side note, Jeff Walker is an Internet legend. He was launching his own information products in 1996 when the Internet was in its infancy. He created Product Launch Formula off the top of his head. And now that is the only way that new products are launched on the Internet. He’s also a great guy.

More photos in-line with the articles. Previously, if I had a lot of photos to share, I would put them in galleries and link an article to the gallery. But I don’t think anyone pays any attention to the galleries. I’ve had a lot of requests for more photos in-line with articles.

A survey or two or three. I have no clue what topics are most popular. When I first started blogging, I would write about the amazing outdoors around where I live and the multitude of outdoor recreation activities and wildlife. Folks liked that stuff and still dig around in my archives to find it.

Now I write about topics to get you to think, expand your mind, and develop as a person. Articles are longer and more in-depth because that is what you asked for. But many of my best articles go unread.

So I’m stumped. Time for a survey.

I’m going to break one of my golden rules of blogging and put some ads on the site. But they won’t be ads for stupid things like iPhones or feminine care products, or men’s testosterone supplements. They will be ads for tools that I use on a daily basis to make my business go.

I wrote an ebook about the three primary marketing models that I use to make a six-figure online income. You guys don’t know about this stuff because I do marketing in the background and not in your face. So if you ever wondered how I make some bucks without advertising like crazy on my site, now you will find out what goes on behind the scenes if you read the ebook. It’s free.

Finally, you have the opportunity to influence the direction of this website through your comments and feedback. I’m sure you all know that my e-mail address is scott@scottalanreed.com by now. That and my other social contact information is listed under Contact on the main menu bar. If you would like to see something in particular for content, drop me an e-mail and tell me.

You don’t know how many folks ask me in their comments to drop them an e-mail. Say what? I’ve never been able to figure out why they don’t just drop me an e-mail and tell me what’s on their mind.

Summing It All Up

So that’s how the colors, theme, design and all that came together. I chose the fall colors, thumbnails, water scenes, and Home Page slider, Stephanie chose the Woo Theme, framework, and made a real hit with the page background.

But that leaves one problem for me. This theme is old and unsupported. It’s not mobile responsive and I get a lot of complaints about that from mobile users. If I had an ounce of sense I would get a newer theme that is more powerful and responsive. But I have thousands of visitors come to ScottAlanReed.com whose initial reaction is, “Woah, what the hell is this!!? I can’t believe this theme! I’ve never seen anything like it!”

So what do I do? The obvious solution would be to find Stephanie, give her a new theme and framework like Thesis and tell her to make it look like ScottAlanReed.com. But I don’t even know Stephanie’s last name. And she could be living in a mud hut on some South Pacific island for all I know.

So that would mean paying big bucks for a web developer to do the same from scratch without Stephanie’s creative ability. By the way, I’m partial to the Thesis theme and framework if you haven’t figured that out yet.

So that’s the story about the theme and colors. I think that the next topic that I will tackle in this blogging series is writing style and writer’s block. That seems to be what stops folks in their tracks when blogging so we’ll tackle that subject. Until then………………….

7

OMG! A Weight Loss Solution that Actually Makes Sense!

Just about every woman I know wants to be thinner. Even women that are thin already want to be thinner. That’s the influence of magazines for women, fashion for women, clothing for women, music for women, and movies with women in them. Thin is in. The pressure to be thin comes from everywhere. It must be hell if you’re a woman who is normal body weight for your bone structure and height. Get thinner anyway. You can always be thinner. Right?

I admit that I’m a health nut. And I’m more interested in women’s health that I am in men’s; probably because a women’s body is far more complex than a man’s. And the more complex the issue, the more that issue peeks my interest. That’s just me.

Alright that’s enough of that. Let’s get to the crux of this post. I stumbled across a weight loss solution  for women that actually makes sense.  No miracle “fat busting” pills or juices, no starvation or rigorous exercise and no voo-woo magic potients. It works permanently so no repeat dieting either. It’s called The Venus Factor because it’s just for women.

The Venus Factor makes sense because it addresses one little known hormone in a woman’s body that sabotages her every effort to maintain or lose weight. Without addressing this hormone, every effort to lose weight by any means will result in failure.

Look at What’s Currently Available to Help Women Lose Weight

Starvation? We already know that doesn’t work. That approach is not only unhealthy, it’s something that a women cannot do on a long-term basis. And as soon as she stops starving herself, the weight comes back. Women want the problem solved once and for all. Short-term solutions are not good enough.

Fad diets? Same problem. They are only effective as long as you are on the diet. Stop the diet and the weight comes right back. And then it’s on to another diet. Just to mention a few of those diets, they are the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet and all of the so-called “celebrity diets”.

The Venus Factor banner woman will belly fatFat-busting pills? Now I’m a believer in Garcinia Cambogia. I saw Dr. Oz’s presentation on fat-busters on TV. The man was excited. He had seen the case studies and the results. Unfortunately there are very few companies who will step up to the plate and offer a Cambogia that meets Dr. Oz’s requirements, which are a minimum of 60% HCA in every capsule of Cambogia. In the rush to make money off of Dr. Oz’s recommendations, there are more sub-standard Cambogia’s on the market than there are effective Cambogia’s that meet or exceed requirements. It’s cheaper for the pill companies to make worthless Cambogia than it is for them to make effective Cambogia.

Many women have purchased sub-standard Cambogia, because it’s less expensive, and they have been disappointed by the results. That disappointment produced doubts about the effectiveness of Cambogia which eventually found it’s way into the news media. There was never anything wrong with Cambogia. The problem was with the manufacturer and their reluctance to make the product effective by bringing the HCA strength up to sixty percent.

But Cambogia has the same problems as the other weight loss solutions. They are temporary. They only keep the fat away as long as you take the pills. Stop taking Cambogia and the weight problem returns. And good Cambogia is expensive. Effective Cambogia can costs as much as $60+/month. That’s right. Sixty dollars plus for a bottle that will last you one month. That’s $720+ per year to keep taking it. Stop taking it and the weight problem returns.

The same applies to other fat-busters like raspberry ketones or Acai berry extract.

 Why is The Venus Factor Different?

Let’s get back to an effective solution which only The Venus Factor offers. John Barban, nutritionist and consultant created The Venus Factor by researching human metabolism for two years. Why did he do this? Because he had helped thousands of women lose weight permanently, but the person closest to him, his only sister, was depressed and grossly overweight due to a recent birth and he did not know how to help her out of her depressed and obese state, even though he is heavily credentialed in women’s health. He had to find help for her.

John discovered that one hormone, which exists in both men and women, regulates metabolism and appetite and decides when fat will be stored or burned as energy. It controls the hunger drive by signaling the brain that food is wanted. That hormone is leptin. Woman have twice as much leptin as men. So they are far more capable of losing weight than are men. But the key to losing weight is in controlling  leptin. Because, as you shall see, leptin can be your worst enemy.

The bad news is that women are three times less responsive to leptin than men. Overweight women tend to be leptin resistant. And that is why women struggle with weight more than men. Traditional diet solutions tend to decrease leptin thus making it harder to lose weight. When leptin in the body decreases, metabolism drops which compounds any efforts to lose weight. That’s why traditional diets work for a little while, but once dieting stops, the weight comes right back with a vengeance. After a diet leptin is low, metabolism is low, which is a perfect environment for storing fat.

Low leptin = signals increased hunger, metabolism and energy are low. This is bad.

High leptin = signals decreased hunger, metabolism and energy are high. This is good.

Let’s Take a Look at What Wikipedia Says About Leptin

Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells which regulates total body fat by regulating both the sensation of hunger in the brain and energy expenditure in cells throughout the body. When the total fat stores reach a certain level, leptin is secreted, and circulating leptin triggers receptors in the brain which leads to decreased hunger and thus decreased food-seeking behavior, as well as increased energy expenditure in peripheral cells.”

In other words, when the body detects that fat stores are low, leptin decreases and that signals the brain that food is needed in order to replenish fat stores. Metabolism is also decreased, which aids in fat storage because low metabolism (low energy) burns less fat. When fat stores are high, leptin is high and that signals the brain that more food for fat storage is not necessary. Metbolism is also high because there is plenty of fat to burn for energy. Leptin plays a primaryPhoto of slender womans waist after losing weight role in telling you when to eat and when not to eat.

However, in severly overweight or obese individuals, leptin levels in the blood stream are totally out of whack. This is called leptin resistence. Leptin gets so confused by excessive fat storage that it remains at a low level all the time thus signaling the brain that more food is needed when food is not needed (binge eating). Metabolism stays low so little to no fat is being burned for energy and the individual keeps putting on more weight, which makes the leptin resistance situation worse instead of better. Managing weight becomes a downward spiral.

One reason why women gain the weight back quickly after a diet ends, is because fat stores are low and leptin signals the brain that food is needed. Metabolism is also low, energy is low, so whatever is eaten during this period is stored as fat. The solution is learn how to control leptin to be your friend instead of your worse enemy. Leptin levels can be controlled by adding specific foods to your diet that stimulate leptin production.

Child birth introduces more complicating factors for women. During pregnancy, the female body puts on more weight for two reasons – first to feed and store extra fat for both mother and child, and secondly to cushion or protect the baby with a protecting layers of fat in the belly area .

So how can women make leptin their friend instead of the enemy? This is the substance of John Barban’s research in The Venus Factor. If you can control leptin levels, you can control your need to eat and boost your metabolism or energy at the same time. The Venus Factor focuses on three key areas.

1) Control the effects of leptin signals to the brain by adding certain foods into your diet that stimulate leptin. When leptin is high, your brain is being told that you are not hungry. And your metabolism is also high so you have more energy.

2) Eat what you want to eat. But avoid foods that are “leptin killers”. Certain foods, like those high in salt and granulated sugar, decrease leptin which signals your brain that you are hungry. It’s no secret that food manufacturers put excessive amounts of salt and sugar in the foods that they sell in order to trigger our brains to want more.

3) Leptin also responds to exercise. But not just any exercise. The Venus Factor makes a key distinction between exercise that is appropriate for men, and those exercises that are appropriate for women.  When women are determined to lose weight, they often exercise rigorously like a man. Women should never exercise like a man. Men exercise rigorously for  body-building and cardio using free weights to build muscle quickly.

What is appropriate for women are “soft” exercises primarily for toning muscles. Rigorous exercise lowers leptin which increases the desire to eat. That’s okay for the body-builder who will store that excess food as new muscle tissue. But women do not need lower levels of leptin because additional food intake will be stored as fat, assuming that they are not female body-builders who are trying to build muscle through continuous hard exercise.

Finally, according to The Venus Factor program, women can eat what they want but must avoid foods that lower leptin while adding foods to their diet that increase leptin. By doing this, they will lower the desire to eat when they are not really hungry and they will have more energy due to increased metabolism. Furthermore, light exercise will increase leptin which increases energy. That’s a win-win situation.

Let’s Summarize

So Scott, this sounds like a product promotion. Are you promoting this? You bet I am! Everything I post on this blog is a promotion of something whether it’s promoting social signals on your website in order to boost your traffic OR promoting putting procrastination aside in favor of taking action because the latter will take you where you want to go. I promote outstanding ideas and books. I promote taking your headphones off and spending more time thinking. I promote positive thinking and the Law of Attraction over negative thinking because a positive attitude will turn your life around. I have written posts on all these subjects.

The Venus Factor banner of woman on a beachTake a look once more at the options for losing weight that are available to women. Pills, juices, starvation diets, soup diets, fad diets, plant extracts and fat-busters. They all work for awhile. But what happens when woman stop taking this stuff or are broke from buying it? The weight comes back. Not true with The Venus Factor program.

Here’s a shocker. Sounds like an expensive program, right? I mean two years of planning and research from a degreed nutritionist? Nope. Just $47 for a 12-week program delivered on video and DVD, with support options. No cheap ebooks. I won’t spoil your surprise by telling you about all the free bonuses that come with the program. And there’s a 60-day guarantee. If you don’t like the program or don’t see dramatic results in 60 days, just submit a refund request. Do you know any woman who would not trade the equivalent of a tank of gas in her car for lasting, long-term, natural, weight loss results without having to repeat the process again and again when the weight comes back? That’s my point. There are no other programs like The Venus Factor. It’s a one-of- a- kind.

Now go watch the video. It’s a real eye-opener and well presented. The link below will take you there. Don’t worry. You aren’t committing to anything by watching the video. It’s good information, even for men.

The Venus Factor Video Presentation

1

Revealed: The One Secret to Making Friends

Introduction

The one secret to making friends every time is knowing their personality type. You only have four to choose from. But it gets a little more complicated because every person is a combination of a primary personality type and a secondary personality type. Once you know this, you will have the power to win and influence friends regardless of their unique personality make-up.

Are you successful at making new acquaintances? Or do you feel uncomfortable meeting new people, stumble over your words, and find it hard to make new friends?

Did you know that with a little knowledge of the various personality types, you can become quite comfortable meeting new people, know exactly how to best communicate with them, and you can increase your friendship groups in leaps and bounds. You just need to know something about the four basic personality types so that you become better at “reading” people and know what their hot buttons are.

Do you find yourself constantly on the losing end of a good discussion or argument? Do people talk over you or ignore you and your opinions in a group discussions? Do you struggle with getting involved with certain groups of people but find that they shun you because they feel that you have nothing to share? Then stop doing whatever it is that you are doing and don’t attempt to make another friendship until you take the time to learn something about people and what makes them tick. People are complex. You can’t just go barging into their lives and expect to be a hit unless you know, in advance, what’s important to them. What things do they like to talk about? What subjects should you avoid? Are they personable or do they shy away from people that they don’t know?

Those who are very successful at making new acquaintances, communicating effectively, and promoting their agendas, are able to accomplish all this at the outset by using one simple technique. They know how to identify the personality idiosyncrasies of first acquaintances and how to use those idiosyncrasies to their advantage.

This post is a discussion of the basic personality types that will show you how to immediately recognize what people want, what they want to hear, what they want to talk about, and what is the most tactical way for you to approach them so that you will be heard, understood, and liked. And when people like and understand you, they are putty in your hands. Additionally, I’ll give you a personality profile test so that you can determine YOUR OWN personality type. You probably don’t know it.

The Four Basic Personality Types

Those who study personality development and temperament agree that there are four basic personality types. These are Choleric, Melancholy, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic. Most individuals are a combination of two types; a dominant type and a lesser type. Some behaviorists use other terms to refer to the four personality types. But the four basic types remain the same. In this post, we’ll start by introducing the Choleric personality type. Decide if this type describes YOU or someone you know. The test or profile that I’ll give you a little later will confirm your suspicions.

The Choleric Personality Type

Cholerics are born leaders. They are dynamic and active, yet unemotional. Cholerics have a compulsive need for change. They dislike  routine. They are strong willed, decisive and exude confidence. They are independent and self-sufficient.

photo of Obama

Choleric – I’m always right

Due to their independence, they have few close friends. The few friends that they have, they choose wisely. They are happy as loners and prefer prefer personal time versus being a part of a group.

As a parent, cholerics establish goals and motivate the family to action. They have all the right answers and believe their solution is the only solution. Consequently, they see their primary family role as being the organizer of the entire family.

On the job, they see the big picture and are goal-oriented. They are good organizers and make gut decisions that lead to action. They thrive on opposition but it is difficult to convince them that another agenda, other than theirs, is the right course of action. They can be bull-headed and stubborn.

If you know someone who is a choleric personality type, realize that they have little need for friends. They are independent. If you know someone who has one good friend but few other friends, chances are that person is a choleric personality type. They will work in group activities but their decisions are usually the correct decisions, at least in their eyes. Cholerics are extroverts, doers, and optimists. They are risk-takers and excel in crises.

Take the Personality Type Test

Once we introduce the other three personality types, and once you determine YOUR personality type, we’ll discuss how YOU can identify someone’s primary personality type just by chatting with them for a few minutes, while observing their body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. Once you know their personality make-up, you will be able to communicate with them better and use what you know about their personality to persuade them to your point of view. You’ll know their hot buttons as well as their weaknesses. In other words, you will have an unfair advantage with everyone you meet! Knowledge is power, and you will have that knowledge.

Now click –>HERE<– to download and take your personality test. Follow the instructions. Your test will open in a new tab so don’t worry about losing your place in this post.

Once you complete the personality test and grade it, come back here and we’ll look at the next personality type – the Sanguine. Do you know people who seem to always be “the life of the party”? That’s a sanguine.

Remember that those who are very successful at making new acquaintances, communicating effectively, and promoting their agendas, are able to accomplish all this at the outset by using one simple technique. They know how to identify the personality idiosyncrasies of first acquaintances and how to use those idiosyncrasies to their advantage.

Grading the Personality Test 

Welcome back. I hope that you learned something by taking the personality test.

Before we talk about the sanguine personality type, how did your own personality test turn out? You should know after you graded the test, what your dominant personality type is (the column in the test with the highest score) and what your lesser personality type is (the column in the test with the next highest score. If two columns on the grading sheet had the same score, that’s extremely rare. But it means that you have two personality types which dominate your character equally.

Since two dominant personality types are so rare, let’s be sure the test results are accurate. Erase your results and take the test again. Only this time, don’t over analyze the personality characteristics. Go with your gut reaction or your first impression on all the rows of potential answers. Another helpful exercise is to ask your spouse or partner what they think about each potential answer. They often know you better than you know yourself. If you don’t understand the meaning of a particular characteristic in the test, look it up in the definitions that are provided with the test.

Set the test results aside and keep them. You’ll need them later when we talk about how you are going to use this information to put you in control of any meeting or dominate any conversation.

The Sanguine Personality Type

Now let’s look at the “life of the party” – the Sanguine. Needless to say, sanguines have a very appealing personality with an excellent sense of humor. They are extroverts who love people, love to talk, and love to tell stories. They are always cheerful and bubbling over with enthusiasm. They are so much fun that people love to chat with them. The sanguine can hold onto any listener while other personality types cannot. They are not shy. And while the rest of us tend to have “stage fright”, the sanguine will leap at the chance to speak from a stage. They are uninhibited and comfortable in any situation.

photo of a black guy having fun

Sanguine – life of the party

Sanguines are curious, sincere, innocent, and they never seem to grow up. They are having so much fun with life that they seem to still be in childhood. Walk into a party or any organized event and the sanguines stick out like a sore thumb. They are the obvious life of the party. Every one loves them and they love everybody. They thrive in crowds. The more the merrier.

At home, sanguines make family life fun. Their children’s friends love them. They don’t let crisis or disaster bother them but, instead, turn it into humor. In the home, they function like a circus master.

On the job, the sanguine volunteers enthusiastically for anything and inspires or charms others to join. Life to them is a party so they are energetic, enthusiastic, creative, and colorful.

As a friend, the sanguine has no problem making friends. They love people and other people envy their demeanor. They don’t hold grudges so they will be a friend for life. They prevent dull moments, are always excited, and they like spontaneous activities. They are fun people. If we were all sanguines, life would be one giant party with no need for any of us to worry about anything. Can you imagine that?

 So far, we have discussed the Choleric and Sanguine personality types. Who do you know who possesses strong characteristics of either a choleric or a sanguine? It might be worthwhile to start making a list of people that you know who seem to fall into one of these two personality types. This will help you tie what you know, to a real live person so that you can see the personality types in action. Don’t worry if people that you know do not seem to be strong cholerics or strong sanguines. Remember that everyone is normally a combination of two personality types – a strong, major type and a weaker, lesser type.

 The Melancholy Personality Type

Now let’s look at the perfect Melancholy personality type. Perfect because they are kind of anal. Everything in their life must be organized. Do you know anyone who walks into a room and begins to arrange everything on the tables so that everything is symmetrical and in it’s proper place? That’s a Melancholy.

photo of a business professional

Melancholy – the engineer type

Melancholys are your engineer types. You’ve seen them. They are the guys who have a pen/pencil holder in their shirt pocket that is stuffed full of various writing instruments. They are serious, analytic, and deep thinkers. They are also talented, creative, and often times, prone to genius. They’re introverted. Their most dominant characteristic is that they are perfectionist and idealistic. But since things are not always perfect, they are prone to being pessimistic.

As a parent, melancholys want everything done right and they want everything in its proper place in the home. They are self-sacrificing and pick up after their children in order to get everything back in its proper place versus asking their children to address this task. Melancholys encourage their children in academics and scholarship in order to do their part in creating a perfect world, which a melancholy must have.

Their perfectionist attitude and high standards are evident when they are at work. They are schedule-oriented and detail conscious. If they start a task, they must finish it. They are not good at multi-tasking since they are so detail-oriented and must finish what they start. They can identify problems quickly and are good at finding creative solutions. They are masters of things like charts, graphs, figures, and lists. Their office space is always neat, tidy, and well organized since they have to have everything in its proper place. You’ll never find a melancholy‘s desk stacked with papers and other junk.

It’s not easy for a perfect melancholy to make friends because they are so introverted and cautions about friendships. They prefer to avoid causing attention and remain in the background. However, once they accept you as a friend, they are faithful and devoted. Melancholys have a deep concern for others and can often be moved to tears with compassion. It takes them a long time to find a mate for life because they demand the same perfection in their soul mate, that they demand for themselves.

It’s interesting to note that a perfect melancholy would never live with a sanguine or choleric personality type. The sanguines are too optimistic, happy, messy, and extroverted while cholerics are loud, obnoxious and demanding. In order for melancholys to commit to a choleric or sanguine partner, that partner must be a weak choleric or sangunine with strong melancholy characteristics.

The last personality type that we’ll discuss, the phlegmatic, is laid back and generally a slob. So that situation would never work for a melancholy either. Melancholys  tend to seek their own personality type as life-long mates since none of the other personality types are a good fit for them.

Let me remind you once more that with this knowledge, you will be able to identify someone’s primary personality type just by chatting with them for a few minutes, while observing their body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.  When you know other people’s personality make-up, you will be able to communicate with them better and use what you know about their personality to persuade them to your point of view. You’ll know their hot buttons as well as their weaknesses. In other words, you will have an unfair advantage with everyone you meet! However this knowledge will make you popular with everyone since you know how to treat them. And when you are popular with everyone, new opportunities will be at your doorstep.

The Phlegmatic Personality Type

Do you know someone who is so laid back that it is hard for them to accomplish something as simple as opening their mail? That’s a Phlegmatic 

Emotionally, Phlegmatics are introverts, watchers, and natural pessimists. They are so laid-back, low-key, and easy going that they tend to be irritating to others who want them to get going, do something, do ANYTHING. Nothing seems to bother them. They are patient, cool, calm, and collected. The word stress is not in their vocabulary. They are quiet people watchers. They keep their emotions hidden and are happily reconciled to their well balanced lives.

Photo of a guy who doesn't have a clue

Phlegmatic – just doesn’t care

They make perfect parents since nothing upsets them and they are in no rush to do anything. They take time for their children. Good news or bad news – it doesn’t seem to matter to them. Stress and anxiety are completely foreign to them.

At work, they are a real asset since since they are competent, peaceful, and agreeable. They prefer to avoid conflicts and have a knack for finding the easy way out of problems. They have administrative ability and respond good under pressure because they never feel any pressure. They are good dedicated workers as long as no one “leans” on them too much.

As a friend they are easy to get along with since they are so easy-going that they never try and force their own agenda. They tend to have many friends, likely because others do not find them to be threatening. They are good listeners and have a rather dry sense of humor. They can be quite witty. Unlike the other three personality types, they tend to overreact and show strong compassion and concern whenever any or their friends have problems.

Do you know any Phlegmatics? Write them down. If you have three or more children, chances are good that one of them is a Phlegmatic.

Putting This All Together

We have covered all of the personality types in previous sections. Additionally, you have taken the personality profile test so that you now know your own personality type. Click –>Here<– for a chart that ties all the personality types together and illustrates their like characteristics and differences. Use this diagram to remind you of the strengths and weaknesses of the four personality types and what those types have in common. You’ll need the diagram in order to understand the next section of this post. I arranged for it to open in a new tab so that you’ll have it handy.

Now let’s look at all of the personality types together and see how you are going to apply this new learning so that you can interact with people and communicate with them better because you now know a lot more about them then they know about you.

For example, if you are primarily choleric, you are outspoken and possess leadership qualities. So do sanguines, according to the chart. So this is something that you have in common. You already know that sanguines are the life of the party and love people. Knowing that, once you identify an acquaintance as a sanguine personality type, speak to what you have in common and you will become friends for life. Sanguines can never have enough friends. And they are fun people to be around so befriend all sanguines when you have the opportunity.

As a choleric, you are unemotional, decisive, and well organized. But sanguines are emotional and easygoing. You need to become a bit emotional and not as demanding when approaching a sanguine. But once you remember that and use that knowledge, you can master relationships with sanguines and do the same with any personality type. Let’s look at a real life example.

Choleric vs. Phlegmatic – Example

Jon is the youngest child in the family. He has a choleric father and older brother. Worse yet, he also has a choleric sister. However, Jon’s mother is a strong Melancholy. Every time the family wants to go somewhere or do something as a family, Jon always brings up the rear. He’s in no hurry. He’s a strong phlegmatic. He’s unemotional so he feels no stress. All the yelling to hurry up and get ready and in the car doesn’t accomplish anything. His personality causes everyone else in the family to be late whenever the family goes anywhere. Because the rest of the family is always barking at him, Jon is starting to feel like an outsider to the rest of the family. He’s getting that “youngest kid syndrome”.

But once the rest of the family recognizes and accepts Jon’s personality, they realize that Jon can’t help being laid back. That’s his personality. And all the yelling and threatening by the rest of the family is not going to change Jon’s personality and get him in the car any sooner. But it WILL eventually make Jon feel like an outsider. Realizing this, and accepting Jon’s personality traits, the family now allows more time before departing for family outings. The screaming at Jon is no longer necessary. Jon is happier. And so is the rest of the family. How much friction is there in your family because you do not recognize or accept each other’s personality characteristics?

Use the chart as a cheat sheet until you can remember what characteristics separate the four personality types. Speak to people’s strengths and what characteristics you have in common with them. People will be drawn to you and you’ll be everyone’s friend. Avoid speaking to their weaknesses. You should know that an emotional, goal-oriented Melancholy is your best choice for assigning work to be done. Don’t give important assignments to a Phlegmatic. They are relationship-oriented, not task-oriented. They are unemotional and strong-willed. So you will never change their mind about whether they need to do what you are asking them to do. Find a task-oriented Melancholy who is naturally emotional. They will readily do whatever you ask them to do and they will be excited that you asked.

Melancholy vs. Sanguine – Another Example

Both of these personality types are artistic and emotional. If you are one of these personality types, remember that when meeting a melancholy or sanguine. That’s what you have in common. And that’s how you will create a connection. But the sanguine is energetic, loud, and people-oriented while the melancholy is introverted and soft-spoken. These personality types seem to clash, and they do. That’s when you have to seek out their lesser personality type characteristics and speak to those. Your goal is to be able to relate in some way to everyone, despite their personality hang-ups.

Whenever I meet new people, I remind myself of one rule that I set for myself so that my strong choleric personality doesn’t repel people. Empower people. Find their hot buttons and subtly build them up. A new acquaintance should feel better for having met you and taken the time to interact with you. If that be the case, then you have done your job well.

Back to the melancholy and sanguines, which seem to clash. If you are the sanguine, you are trying to figure out whether the melancholy‘s lesser personality type is choleric, sanguine, or phlegmatic. If choleric, you are both born leaders, optimistic, and outspoken. Use these characteristics to create a connection. If sanguine, you are in luck. Since you are sanguine, you have much to talk about. If phlegmatic is this person’s lesser personality type, you are both relationship-oriented. Use that to create a connection. But remember that phlegmatics are really laid back. So as an energetic, fun sanguine, you will have to “back off your throttle” a bit in order to keep from “spooking” the melancholy/phlegmatic away.

Are you getting the knack of this? It wouldn’t hurt to fold the one-page chart which ties all personality types together and put it in your wallet or purse. Don’t whip it out in the presence of a new acquaintance. But when in a gathering of people, it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek at it before you go diving into the crowd to meet some new people.

Conclusion

Now that you know all the personality types and how they compare to each other (don’t forget that everyone has a lesser type), you have what you need in order to develop strong relationships with just about anyone. It can actually be fun to look around crowded room with your partner or spouse and try and guess what personality types are in the crowd. Then go speak to someone and confirm your suspicions.

When you speak to someone’s personality strengths, you are opening up a 4-lane highway to communicating with that person. And you are showing them that you understand them and care about the things that interests them and are important to them. That’s a winning combination that cannot fail. Now go make some friends and have some fun while doing it!

Lastly, here’s an interesting six-minute review of the book on which this post is based. I first read Personality Plus by Florence Littauer in the early 1990’s. Since that time, I have re-read it and used it as a reference for other writing. It really is that good of a read and an eye-opener. I’m including this video here for three reasons. First, the guy in the video really does do a good review. Second, you guys have been asking me to put more photos and videos in my articles. Third, Google loves it when you use Youtube videos in your blog posts and we all know how much “Uncle Google” dislikes me. Check out the video.

References

Personality Plus – Florence Littauer

Positive Personality Profiles – Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.

Personality Test and Scoring Sheets

Personality Test – Definitions

Chart of Personality Type Relationships

 

 

 
 
8

What’s Your Excuse?

Introducing Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer who in 2009 shocked the judges on the TV series,  “Britain’s Got Talent” , was in the national news for most of this week. Susan was diagnosed as having Asperger’s disease, a form of Autism  that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and peculiar or odd use of language are frequently reported.

Why is Susan’s condition international news? Because Susan has had an international following ever since her stunning performance on the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent“. Read on. I’m going somewhere with this. And turn your speakers up. You are in for a rare treat in this post. For those of you who know nothing of Susan, I’ll fast-forward a short bio of Susan Boyle for you.

She lives in a small village in Scotland. Susan was unemployed in 2009 and decided that it was time to do something with her life that she had always wanted to do. And that was to sing for the Queen of England. But Susan was not a singer. Most regarded her as a nut.

At first sight she has a “50-ish nanny appearance”, she’s a bit overweight, plain, with a personality that is odd, a bit clumsy, and rough. Susan knew that something was wrong with her since birth. But she no idea what it might be. Nevertheless, she was bent on singing for the Queen. She made the trip to Glasgow, Scotland to see if she could qualify to be in the Britain’s Got Talent talent contest.

Her performance on “Got Talent” became legendary when Susan shocked the judges and the world by singing a flawless opera piece to a standing ovation.  I recall seeing that performance in 2009. Since she was back in the news, I decided to re-visit her stunning performance on YouTube. I recalled how the audience laughed and sneered when Susan announced that she would sing an operatic piece. Simon Cowell’s facial expression hinted that he jut wanted to get her off the stage and out of there.  No one believed she could sing anything. But Susan’s dream was to perform before the Queen.

It was an incredible performance from a woman with an uncanny voice.  Despite her Asperger’s and associated personality disorders, she still found the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer and stunned the world in the process. Her performance on “Got Talent” and the audience’s standing ovation still brings a tear to my eye. What a voice! What a talent! What courage she had, despite her feeling that something wasn’t quite right with her since birth. She got on that stage anyway. You can watch that short performance below. Go ahead. Watch it now.

Once I had revisited Susan’s video, I noticed that YouTube had placed other “Got Talent” videos in the page sidebar. Some of the video titles caught my attention so I continued to watch other performances. By the time I logged off of YouTube, I was totally wrung out emotionally. I had seen jaw-dropping performances from a homeless kid in Korea, a seventeen year old fat kid in Scotland, and a Gothic freak in the USA who said that “he is not very good at anything”. These are all people who knew all too well what their dream is, and they went after it despite the odds against them.

You can say that about anyone who tries to qualify for talent contests like “Got Talent“, “American Idol”, or “The X-Factor“. They all have a dream of making it big in the music industry. But the performers that I viewed on YouTube were different. They all had additional handicaps that would severely limit their chances of realizing any kind of success.  But they persevered anyway. What’s your excuse?

Here is the performance by the homeless kid in Korea on “Korean’s Got Talent“. Watch it. It’s in the Korean language so you will have to read the captions at the bottom of the screen. You have never met anyone who has had a life as horrible as this Korean kid. I want you to watch the faces of the audience and especially the reaction and facial expressions of the judges. If you have a dry eye after viewing this short video, than…………I can’t finish this sentence without offending you. So I won’t. Watch the video.

So what’s your excuse? If Susan Boyle, an unemployed and over-the-hill nobody, can go on to produce and sell 4 million albums despite her Asperger’s disease and her personality disorders, what prevents you from going after your dreams? If the homeless kid who lives on the streets in Korea and sleeps in public toilet facilities can get on stage and sing before millions, even though he felt his voice was just okay and he had only a few voice lessons, what’s the reason why you can’t take a few more steps towards realizing your dream? Did you put limitations on yourself as a child and now you can’t overcome them? Did someone else convince you that you would not amount to much?

 

Meet Jonathan and Charlotte

The fat kid from Scotland had been severely obese all his life. And all his life his peers had made fun of him until Jonathan retreated inside himself.  He had shoulder length locks; hardly what you would expect from an opera singer. Yet he sang opera. No one believed he could sing in the shower let alone, opera. He was just seventeen. And he was so shy, he had to sing a duet with a female friend just to get enough courage to get on the stage. You can see in the video that the audience is nervous about this kid. So are the judges. Some people in the audience are biting their lip out of nervousness about what this kid might sound like. It could be embarrassing for all. You be the judge. The video is below.

So what’s your excuse? There’s something about watching a person who has nothing, realize their unlikely dream that tears at your emotions. Did you sense that while watching this video? If you are not watching the videos than you will have no clue what I’m trying to communicate in this post. Go back and watch the videos!

 

Can We Still Have Dreams or is it Too Late?

As an adult, do you take time to dream? I don’t mean dreaming while you are asleep. When you are alone and are doing nothing else, do you day-dream? As a child, you used to do this all the time. Do you remember what it was like? Take the time to do it now. Think about what you want to do, what you want to be, what you want for yourself and spouse or family. Everything that I have studied tells me that if you can form a mental image in your mind of what you want, you can have it.

Let me give you an example. I have always wanted to skate on in-line skates. I’ve never done it before. But I have seen others skate. I tried it once and it was a disaster for me to find balance on in-line skates. I have an old pair in the storage room that used to belong to someone else. But they fit.

When you are in retirement and thinking about old age, you think about things that can make you feel even older. Like not staying in shape. Just because you are aging doesn’t mean that you have to feel old. I still want to skate. And if I can see myself coasting down the road in front of my house, that means I can do it. I saw myself with the pads on my knees and elbows, skating gloves and a helmet on. I was coasting down the hill in the road in front of my house at a pretty good clip. I prepared to make the turn at the horseshoe at the end of the road and then pick up speed to get up the hill that I had just come down.

So what do I do to make this happen? The first thing that I did was to dig out those old in-line skates in the storage room. I cleaned them up and took them upstairs to my bedroom. I placed them at the foot of my bed on the floor where I could see them every day. I know that I have to be physically fit in order to strap those skates on. So I make daily trips downstairs to the exercise room and spend hours on the Bowflex Xtreme resistance trainer that I bought 20 years ago. I take the skates with me so that I can see them as I pump iron. By doing that, I know why I am pumping iron. It makes it easier to build the muscle that will be needed in order for me to put on those skates.

That’s just a little dream. You need to dream bigger than that. Because you and I can accomplish much bigger things if we simply take the time to think about them and see ourselves in possession of what we want.

 

Have you Heard of Andrew de Leon?

Andrew de Leon is a freak. Black leather, chains, heavy make-up, withdrawn, shoulder-length hair. This is a kid who grew up feeling like he was never a part of anything. Andrew told the audience, “I can’t do anything very well.” That was AFTER he sang – leaving the audience and the judges on their feet, clapping, crying, stunned at his performance. Andrew had not sung for anyone previously; not publicly, not for his friends, his parents, nobody. But he got on that stage and left his audience breathless at his performance. See for yourself.

What holds you back from your dream?  Have you thought about it? Can you define what it is that constantly sabotages all your efforts to move closer to your dreams? Do you have a dream?

We all have a dream; something that we want but feel that we can never achieve. I could watch these short videos at the start of every day. You know why? Because they handily remove all my excuses for not pursuing my dreams vigorously. I have valid excuses. Or so I thought until I saw how courageously these kids overcame every obstacle in order to have a shot at their dream of singing as a profession.  My excuses are puny and ridiculous compared to what these folks had to overcome.  And that’s exactly why I should be forced to watch these videos at the start of every day.

I don’t feel like working on this or that right now. It’s hard. I don’t want to get on the phone and talk to so-and-so. I’m not ready. I have to go through my mail basket today. I’m not going to have time to do what’s really important.

Limitations and Comfort Zone – Getting Outside the Box

There are no limitations other than those that you artificially establish in your own mind. Get rid of them. You have the ability and the talent to do anything that you want. It doesn’t matter what you have been taught all your life. Forget what your parents told you. Forget what your friends say. Ignore the norms of society. The only thing that matters is you. You don’t have to please anyone but yourself. And if you let yourself down, that’s a bigger crime than letting others down.

Was your upbringing as bad as the Korean kid who was dropped off at the orphanage at the age of three, was sold for money, beaten up at the orphanage and forced to flee to the streets and sell gum for money, sought shelter in public toilets and then learned to sing a simple song by listening to performers sing in taverns. But that did not prevent him from getting on the stage in front of an international audience in hopes of getting just one shot at his dream, of something better than the streets. It doesn’t get much worse than the Korean kid’s story. So if your excuse is upbringing, unless you had a worse time than this kid, upbringing doesn’t count anymore. Find your dream and pursue it despite all obstacles.

Are your physical limitations similar to Susan Boyle’s. Susan thought she was brain damaged at birth. Others thought Susan was brain damaged. Some thought she was just an odd duck with a quirky personality to match. She felt like an outcast but didn’t know why. All she wanted to do was sing for the Queen of England. That’s all that mattered. When she got up the courage to do just that, people laughed at her. The judges on “Got Talent” told her so. No one believed she could sing opera. It must be a joke. After all, Susan looks and talks like a joke. She’s obviously a nut. Simon Cowell thought she was a nut. In the video he looks totally disgusted that the judges even have to waste their time listening to this nut.

Are your physical or mental limitations similar to what Susan Boyle had to face. You know that since she chose to ignore those limitations, she’s rich and happy now, having recorded and sold millions of her songs to an international community who loves her singing, despite her mental deformities. So what’s your excuse? I doubt that you have Asperger’s syndrome or are autistic. So you say that your situation is not really as bad as Susan Boyle’s situation? That’s wonderful news. Now let’s get a dream defined for you so that you can move on to the life that you deserve.

And lastly, Andrew the freak Gothic kid. Did you notice in the video how Howard Stern, one of the judges, even takes a moment to poke fun at Andrew? “What are you supposed to be? Have a rough day at the office? Do you always dress like that? Sort of a Gothic thing, huh?”

That’s good of  Mr. Stern. This kid has been ignored, alienated, withdrawn, and mis-informed all this life. And he finally gets up enough courage to sing in front of millions on stage and you make fun of him and ridicule him in front of that audience!!!!!? Based on Andrew’s story, he was already down and out. But her certainly did not need the likes of Howard Stern to verbally finish him off.

Nonetheless, he triumphed. Once again, the audience and judges were stunned by an unexpected superb performance. So he likes to sing arias like a girl. So what? That’s Andrews dream. And he’s incredible. Watch his semi-final performance. It’s pretty incredible. He choked in the semi-final performance, was sent home, and then was called back for a second chance. What happened next? Watch the video clip and find out.

So are you a total throw-away, like Andrew? You really have to use your imagination to understand what Andrew must have had to endure when growing up. What’s your excuse? Why is it that you don’t pursue your dreams? Did you have a life like the Korean kid or Andrew? If so, I’m very sorry. I really am. I have an immense amount of respect and compassion for the Korean kid, for Andrew, and for you. If you didn’t have a rough life, I still respect you. But let’s define a dream for you and get going.

These folks that I have been talking about will put all your (and mine) excuses to rest. I’ve had some bumps in my life but nothing compared to what I have just seen and heard on video from these performers. I’m sure that you can say the same.

So let’s get going. I’ve heard it said that the vast majority of people let their dreams die with them and they take their dreams to the grave, unfulfilled. Don’t do that. If there’s an excuse that I haven’t addressed yet, what is it? As soon as you tell me, I’ll find someone with that same issue who has overcome it and moved on.

Folks, you need to get out of your comfort zone and be, or become, or do what you want. There are no limitations. There are no excuses that haven’t already been overcome by someone else with lesser qualifications than you. Just find them.

Whatever has you boxed in right now, just make a decision to step out of the box. It may take persistence, perseverance, courage, initiative, determination, or a change in attitude. If these qualities are lacking, then get someone or something (like a book, a video, an audio book, a course, a life coach or whatever) to help you acquire these characteristics and then make your move.

If you need learning, learning is available. If you need support, support can be found.  If you need some encouragement, do what I just did. Find some over-comers on YouTube and listen to their story. You wont’ find me slacking off any more. I got an eye and and earful today. I had good excuses not to define and move closer to my dream. But they were all shot down.

Have you ever heard of the expression, “whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” W. Clement Stone said that in his book, “The Success System That Never Fails”. What that means is that if you can see it in your mind, you can do it. If you will take the time every day to form a mental image or picture in your mind of what it is that you want, and you will believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that you can have it, you WILL have it.

Can you still daydream? That may sound like a silly question but found through personal experience that the ability to daydream becomes harder with age. We used to daydream all the time when we were kids. We didn’t even have to force it. Remember? Our parents used to shake us out of daydreaming. “Stop daydreaming, Scott, and come to the dinner table.” I can still hear it as if it were yesterday.

Anyway, learn to daydream again. You already know how to do it. Just plant yourself where you won’t be interrupted and daydream about what it is that you really want. That’s your dream. Now make a high-level plan for getting there and start moving.

You’ve already learned in this post that obstacles and excuses are of no value to you. If you find yourself back-sliding on your dream, just think of the Korean kid, or Andrew de Leon, or Susan Boyle, or the fat shy kid with the terrific tenor voice. Watch the short video again for a reminder if you have to.

I’m Flat Out of Time

We haven’t addressed time as an excuse. Obviously all the folks in the videos had time to chase their dream despite occupational, family, or logistical requirements. I’ve seen some of these shows in the past. And I recall many potential show candidates indicating that they told work, “I quit. I’m off to pursue my dream of becoming a professional singer.” And of course work said, “Sure. Whatever.” and everybody laughed.

But you don’t need to go to that extent. Just go to bed each night with the satisfaction that you are closer to your goal and dream than you were the night before. That’s sufficient. If you can do that, you at least know that you are not standing still.

Maybe It’s Just Me

Take time to bring your dreams to fruition. That’s likely the most important time in your day. I didn’t know that the whole morning this morning was going to be spent watching the above videos multiple times. But the message in the videos hit me right where it hurts. And I needed that lesson. That was likely the most important time of my day today. And yes, it did move me closer to my goals and dreams.

I ask myself at least once every day, “Am I spending my time today where it matters most?” The answer is usually no. And then I make adjustments.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe others do not get the same message that I do from these performers. I asked myself, what is it that tears you up from watching these performances. It’s witnessing first-hand, other people overcoming overwhelming obstacles to chase their dreams and make them happen. That hasn’t happened for me. And it strikes a heavy-duty chord within me. You need to do that.

Don’t worry about what others say or think. There are always plenty of nay-sayers. Ignore them. Nothing can hold you back except you. Forget the limitations that you set up in your own mind. Get a dream and go chase it. Do it now!

 

4