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In case you missed any of February’s Lessons Learned, or didn’t learn anything yourself, the following is a short list.  Now get out there and learn something!

Nun with RulerFocusing on CONTENT over design

Lesson Learned: If you are going to spend valuable resources (time and money), on web development, be wise and spend more on content than design.

Delete your e-Goo

Lesson Learned: The e-life can keep you connected and enhance your life, or it can drown your time and attention in a cesspool of digital e-goo.  Your choice…

think less…DO MORE

Lesson Learned: Stop thinking so much. Don’t wait until tomorrow or until the goal or plan are crystal clear. Get out there and do something.  Trust your intuition and take chances.

Is Your Homepage Sending the Right Message?

Lesson Learned: Be crystal-clear about who you are and what you’re offering.  Spend as much time as needed clarifying your message so that it can be quickly and easily understood by your audience.

What do Elephants and Google Have in Common?

Lesson Learned: Protect your personal brand at all costs.  The world, or more appropriately “Google”, is watching, listening and won’t be forgetting any time soon.  As Google puts it… “Don’t be evil.”

They never forget.

An Elephant Remembers

An Elephant Remembers

I just read a post by Seth Godin called Personal Branding in the Age of Google. He laid out an experience a friend of his had, after posting an ad on craigslist for a housekeeper. The friend received three responses, and Googled each of their names. Turns out her three candidates were a drunk, a thief, and lastly, one that planned to quit the “menial job that is below me, and I’m annoyed by it” as soon as she “sold a few paintings.” Sources for this eye-opening information included a Myspace profile, a police record and a personal blog. Ouch.

MY PERSONAL BRANDING NIGHTMARE

Seth’s post reminded me of my own Personal Branding nightmare. I think at one time or another we have all Googled our own name. You know, to find out what Google’s got on you.

So I searched… Michael Bungartz… and there I was on the first page:

– “Michael Bungartz is accused of using profanity, threatening an officer with loss of his job and insulting the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department…”
– “Michael Bungartz… disorderly conduct…”
– “…arrested for disorderly conduct after a domestic dispute.”

There’s even a YouTube video clip from a regionally televised news station, breaking the story. Yikes!

IT WASN’T ME! I’M INNOCENT

The problem is that… I’M INNOCENT! See my name is Michael J Bungartz, obviously, and I am originally from Wisconsin. Well so is Michael J Bungartz, Chief of Bloomer Police who is also from Wisconsin.

This guy is totally killing my rep! I’ve gone from entrepreneur and all around good guy, to a profanity spouting-abusive-disorderly-jackass (sorry Mr. Bungartz from Bloomer, but it’s true).

PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Luckily I’ve been blogging for a while now, and have a couple of other plugs out there and this imposter is continually getting pushed down the list of Google’s search results. Although there was nothing with in my power to have stopped this from happening, it does bring up a valid point. Your Personal Brand or Image is a delicate thing. Screw up and the world can, and will find out (literally the world). No more hiding.

Lesson Learned: Protect your personal brand at all costs. The world, or more appropriately “Google”, is watching, listening and won’t be forgetting any time soon. As Google puts it… “Don’t be evil.”

Stop Watch3 Seconds and Counting…

When positioning a new Internet StartUp for release, it is imperative that your marketing message be clear and easily understood.

Remember that online, your visitor’s attention span is measured in seconds. Interest or engage them in those few precious seconds or lose them. Personally, 75% of my time online is spent scanning, not reading. My time is precious and with SO MUCH information available on the web, more is only a click away. So tell me you have what I’m looking for or I’m gone.

Simple, Clear & Easily Understood

A marketing message on the web has to be clear and easily understood. If I come across your site/service, I should be able to understand whom you are and what you do in three seconds or less. If there is a question about who you are…I’m gone. Developing and refining your marketing message is critical to online success.

Case In Point: TheEcoKey.com

Yesterday, I took some time to browse LinkedIn’s Answers section to see if I could offer some helpful advice to fellow entrepreneurs. I came across a question asked by Jennifer, founder of TheEcoKey.com. Jennifer was looking for advice on how to market and drive traffic to her newly launched website.

the eco key dot com

TheEcoKey.com is a great idea and has a great cause and story behind it (I encourage you to check it out). The problem, as I explained to Jennifer was that their message was unclear. I’d visited the website and could not help but be confused: “The Eco Key: Cleaning up our planet, one search at a time.” Umm… I don’t get it, and neither will anyone visiting the site without further explanation.

In order to discover why I should use TheEcoKey.com I had to find the tiny ‘about’ and ‘FAQ’ links at the bottom of the page for a further explanation and to find out what the heck is TheEcoKey… If I hadn’t been trying to help the EcoKeyers out, I wouldn’t have looked at the page more than a split second before hitting the back button. Sorry…I’m gone.

Lesson Learned: Be crystal-clear about who you are and what you’re offering. Spend as much time as needed clarifying your message so that it can be quickly and easily understood by your audience.

robotIn a previous post, ingeniously titled Seth Godin: Man or Machine?, I gave Seth a digital pat on the back for being an inspiration to marketers and entrepreneurs with his blog.  Providing ‘us followers’ with a daily dose of valuable innovative wisdom.

Now that Seth has published his 3,000th blog post, I think this may be the evidence needed to confidently answer the question of Man or Machine, and say that Seth Godin is definitely a Machine.

Congratulations Seth, I look forward to the next 3,000.

I was meeting with my friend and fellow entrepreneur Scott Silvi this last weekend, and was explaining to him how I had all these irons in the fire that I could not ignore, but didn’t want to give up on my 4-Hour Workweek in 90 Days. My current commitments include; a job in sales, which at the moment keeps my bills paid, a big iron in the fire with RentUpdate.com, which is a long-term venture, as well as a handful of other projects including this blog as part of my short-term goals. All of them have their place on the list of priorities and meet a certain goal (Keep the Bills Paid, Long-Term, Short-Term, etc.).

So can I accomplish everything at once or do I need to jettison some smaller projects that meet my short-term goals? I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and having thoughts to give in on my 4-Hour Workweek, and asked Scott for advice.

After a few seconds of reflection, Scott replied, “Pay yourself first.”

Most have heard of the concept of paying yourself first in conjunction with personal finances, in which out of every paycheck, before you even pay bills, you take the first x% and dedicate it to yourself (e.g. Save, Tithe, Invest). He went on to explain, that if your short-term goals or smaller projects are important goals that you want to accomplish, then “pay yourself first” and dedicate the first hour of every day focused on the achievement of that smaller short-term goal. That way, at a minimum even if you don’t get back to that goal by the end of the day, you have at least dedicated one hour towards accomplishing it.

So if you are one that also has numerous irons in the fire, and have trouble managing your time between keeping the bills paid, your long and short-term goals, take Scott’s advice. Don’t give up on your goals, “Pay Yourself First” and dedicate the first hour of every day to taking one, even small step, towards achievement.

Thanks Scott…

think less…DO MORE

thinking monkeyDisclaimer:  Thinking less can be dangerous and must be used wisely, serious action may occur.  Not advised while driving, with credit cards, or taking exams.

Why can it be so hard to take action?  Is it fear of failure that paralyzes us, or perhaps laziness?  I am not one to think of myself as neither fearful of mistakes nor lazy, yet at times I can find it difficult to take hold of a goal and take immediate action towards the fulfillment of that goal.  As odd as it sounds, I would advise myself to do less thinking and more doing.

Action starts with conscious thought.  Physically, we must think, before we act.  But can we think too much?  Growing up, undoubtedly we have all heard that we must “think before we speak” and to “think about the consequences of our actions” before acting on them.   But for some, we can think “too” much before we act.  Over-thinking our actions can paralyze us into inaction.

In his blog post, Task Ninja: Form the Action Habit, Leo Babauta advises to;

“Stop thinking so much. Thinking is a good thing. Overthinking isn’t, and it gets in the way. Put aside all the thinking (analysis paralysis) and just do.”

Lesson Learned: Stop thinking so much. Don’t wait until tomorrow or until the goal or plan are crystal clear. Get out there and do something.  Trust your intuition and take chances.

Update (2/20): Just before posting this, I happened to find a great post I would recommend reading. Check it out; Is Analysis Paralysis Stopping You from Taking Action?, Vincent offers 7 Tips for combating the Over-thinking virus.

Stack of Cash

I love it… Opportunity abounds with evolution of the Internet.  It amazes me how today a company can manage to raise staggering amounts of funding ($57 Million) and have a valuation of an estimated $250 Million, without a stitch of revenue.  Furthermore, not even knowing how they will monetize and generate revenue moving forward.

But, I suppose when you have 4.1 Million people coming to your site everyday, almost a 1,000% increase over the last year, and an estimated 4-6 Million users, you apparently don’t need to make money, because people just hand it over by the dump truck load.

Three months ago Twitter rejected a $500 Million takeover offer from facebook.com, and now this week has closed on a reported $35 Million infusion of capital in its third round.Twitter Logo

This news coincides perfectly with my post from yesterday on How to Make $1 Million with $50, although not as simple, it is incredible how the Internet continues to bulldoze the business landscape and continue to reveal new opportunities with every turn.  Opportunities to make gobs of money, sprout new with possibility every day. It makes me wonder if it will ever slow down or what awaits us online-business-folk around the next corner.

But that’s for the entrepreneurs among us to find out, who with the right idea and a butt-load of ambition, will shed light on the next big thing.