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October 2011 archive

Weight loss for Internet marketers

One of the occupational hazards with working at a desk all day is that you tend to neglect exercise, eat junk food and end up putting on weight and having your body in bad shape.

For me, this has translated into putting on about 33lbs (about 15kg) since getting married and not being able to do most of the things that I used to be able to do.

Yes, I could probably have signed up for a continuity plan for colon cleansers and acai shakes, but the plan for me seemed to be opting for a lifestyle change.

All the money in the world isn’t going to help you if you’re not able (or around) to enjoy it.

Especially with 2 young kids, aged 2 and 5, I am hoping to be here for a long time to see them grow up, attend their sports games and performances, see them graduate and get married one day.

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I enrolled in a hospital-managed weight loss program which started about a month ago.

It has a lot of fancy stuff like getting a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and a MRS (magnetic resonance spectrometry), and a battery of other tests to establish my baseline health before the start of my program.

The results are that my BMI (body mass index is 29 — anything over 27.5 is considered overweight). At about 1.78m (about 5’10″) I weighed about 92kg (202lbs). With a 39″ waist you’d think that most of the fat would be around my abdomen/stomach. But instead the MRI scan showed large deposits in the love handle around to the left and right of my lower back. The fat deposits look like it was a couple of cm thick. Around my abdomen, the fat looks like it’s about 1cm thick.

But that’s not the worst of it. I’m at an increased risk of heart disease and being overweight means my insulin levels and ability to process sugar are lower than usual – which could lead to an onset of diabetes. None of this is particularly fun.

If you’re not like – not particularly happy with where you are now, or heading to where you want to be – then taking a comprehensive medical will give you pointers on what your next direction will be.

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On the plus side, my metabolic rate appears to be higher than normal, at about 1780 calories/day. The average 20-something has a metabolic rate of about 1400 calories/day, so some of the stuff I’d discovered when I was younger, that I was able to lose weight pretty easily and put on muscle mass pretty easily, seems like they would work in my favor in achieving my goal.

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The regimen that I’ll be starting involves changes to my diet and getting on a regular series of exercise.

For now the diet changes involve cutting down on fried food (mainly because most food prepared in restaurants are fried in palm oil, which is high in saturated fat and trans fat), fatty food (like pork belly), and reducing my food portion sizes. Over the years I’d kinda become the de facto “food finisher” for the family when we went out. So finishing up the food was having a long term negative impact on my health.

Having worked on medical stories for a Singapore newspaper and reading about people who have heart attacks and strokes and ending up paralyzed or even worse, suffering from “locked-in syndrome” (where you’re aware of what’s happening around you, but you’re not able to talk or move your body – I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality.

Whether you’re an affiliate, a product creator or service provider, all the money in the world isn’t going to help you if you’re in poor health and not able to enjoy it.

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So back to the diet – besides cutting down on unhealthy food, reducing my food portion sizes, the other major thing is taking meal replacements. The meals are rated at about 600 calories each and consist of (from what I can tell), a type of carbohydrate similar to milk powder, and a whey protein powder, which lessens your hunger pangs. By replacing two of my meals each day with these meal replacements, it reduces the overall calorie intake and theoretically should result in a net loss of weight (unless you decide to finish off a pint of ice-cream cos you’re hungry…..).

For the most part I’ve been good and followed the diet, and have lost about 2kg (4.5lbs) since starting this past Monday.

I’ll be tracking my weight loss in this Google doc spreadsheet.

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The exercise sessions will start up next week with a personal trainer – they’re three times a week, of about 2 hours each session. So I expect the pounds to fall off.

I don’t expect that it’ll be as intense as going on a p90x program, although I’ll probably be at 80% of my heart rate, so that should ‘burn the fat’.

The plan is to see this program through and come out it healthier and even more ready to take on the world. And you’ll get to read periodic updates here.

Post your comments or questions below.

I’m looking for a few top Neverblue affiliates. Apply here.

Since early 2011, CPA network has been expanding aggressively out of Canada and the US to focus on growing its Europe and Asia business (affiliates and advertisers) and I found out that the network had opened a Hong Kong office to fuel its expansion.

I had a great discussion with Neverblue senior network manager, Samatha Brachat, when she was in town for AdTech Singapore a couple of months ago and after discussion, I’m working with Neverblue as an affiliate consultant to help grow the company’s affiliate business.

What will I be doing?

The role will have some similarities to an affiliate manager – to help recruit and develop affiliates. Although I’ll be focusing on the Asia markets, I’ll also be bringing in affiliates from North America and Europe.

You might be wondering why I’ve stepped into the affiliate management side of things after working as an affiliate and advertiser – it just seemed like the logical next step after about 14 years in the industry.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with various affiliate managers and network owners over the years and I’ve found the most effective AMs tend to be:

  • Knowledgeable: It first starts with being familiar with the offers on your networks, being up on what the best performing offers and the most appropriate offers for an affiliate’s method of promotion. An understanding of your network’s platform, facilities like pixel placement and API are key to help your affiliates too. That’s the baseline expectation of a decent AM. The great AMs are the ones who are up on what’s happening in the affiliate space – what’s being discussed on the various IM and aff mktg forums, how various traffic sources/networks perform and how to integrate a campaign with a traffic source. Although tracking and analytics are outside of what some AMs might be familiar with, they’d be important for any affiliate to know what’s working and what’s not.
  • Responsive: Getting back to an affiliate’s query in a timely manner helps them get their campaigns up in a prompt manner. After all, if they do well, you do well. So why not help them get started as soon as possible.
  • Bringing value to the table: Going beyond what you see when you login to your affiliate account is probably one of the biggest advantages to the table. Beyond just a “how are you doing?” and “here are a few hot offers on our network”, a great affiliate manager will want to understand your business and your goals and work with you to achieve them, not merely push a certain offer. I see myself bringing ideas to the table that go beyond affiliate marketing, on operating and scaling a business if the affiliate wants.
  • Following through: Simply, if you promise something, delivering on it.

If you’re not a Neverblue affiliate yet, you can apply here and drop me an email, so I can help you get started.

If you have been inactive and you’d like me to help you grow your business, do drop me an email.

Lessons Internet marketers can take from Apple’s Steve Jobs

He was born Steven Paul Jobs on Feb 24, 1955 in San Francisco, CA. The world would know him better as “Steve Jobs”. To the Apple faithful, he would be like a god to them, but that image was broken when he died on Oct 5, 2011, aged 56, having lost his long-running battle with pancreatic cancer.

Some will be fixated with Forbes’ estimate that Jobs’ net wealth was $8.3 billion in 2010, making him the 42nd wealthiest American. They’ll probably see the glowing success of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMacs and neglect to see the failures Jobs encountered along the way. That could be a major mistake because it’s only in failures that lessons can be learned, especially for Internet marketers.

Jobs was an astute businessman, in an early episode with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, the book iCon recounts:

Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell (who later founded the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant chain). Bushnell asked Jobs to figure out a design for the game Break-Out, where players would use a Pong-like paddle to smash a wall of bricks. Unbeknownst to Bushnell or Alcorn, Jobs turned around and made a deal with Woz: Do the coding, and Jobs would split the $600 completion fee with him. Woz did the work, and Jobs got his money and gave Woz $300—his “half.” Problem was, Jobs got $1,000 as his fee. Woz didn’t find out about Jobs’s lie until a year later, according to iCon, the 2005 book by Young and William L. Simon. When he did find out, he was so hurt he cried.

The lesson is that if you own a business, you need to run it astutely. I most would consider Jobs to be charismatic and project an aura. Not as many would call him a nice guy.

His desire for getting things right played a large part in his success. In the same way that successful marketers will continually strive to get something right so that their business ran correctly. As some would say, “If you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll get what you’re supposed to get”.

Here’s an insight into Jobs’ quest for perfection from iCon;

Jobs wanted the next computer to be something different—an appliance, something anyone could use. That was the Apple II, which came out a year after the Apple I. He hammered at his message as the company grew: Computers should be tools. Trip Hawkins, one of Apple’s first 50 employees, remembers Jobs obsessing over an article he’d read in a science magazine about the locomotive efficiency of animal species. “The most efficient species was the condor, which could fly for miles on only a few calories,” Hawkins says. “Humans were way down the list. But then if you put a man on a bicycle, he was instantly twice as efficient as the condor.” The computer, Jobs said, was a “bicycle for the mind.”

Jobs had another message: These tools had to be beautiful. The Apple II did look great, for then: It had a case and keyboard and fit easily on a desk. Jobs’s aesthetic suffused everything, even the circuit boards. He insisted the circuits be redone to make the lines straighter.

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And just in case you mistakenly associated Apple’s touchy-feel human-friendly products with the personality of it’s founder, here’s a reality check:

At Apple, Jobs inspired without inspiring much love. “He’d stop by and say, ‘This is a pile of shit’ or ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,’” Andy Hertzfeld, who helped develop the Macintosh, told Moritz. “The scary thing was that he’d say it about the same thing.” The people at Apple had a name for that behavior, too: “the shithead-hero roller coaster.” Guy Kawasaki, another early employee who was assigned to recruit outside developers to write software for the new machine, said Jobs once came by his cubicle with an executive Kawasaki didn’t recognize. Jobs asked for Kawasaki’s opinion about some third-party company’s software. Kawasaki replied that he didn’t think it was very good. “And Steve turns to the guy and he says, ‘See, that’s what we think about your product,’” Kawasaki says, laughing. The stranger was the third-party company’s chief executive officer. “I’m sure the CEO did not expect to get ripped like that.”

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Lesson: If you want to get what you want, you need to do whatever it takes. This means working on your PPV, PPC, SEO campaign till you get what you are shooting for. It means working on it on weekends, holidays till you get it right. Closing shop at 5pm every day is just asking for trouble.

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Despite all that hard work though,

The board told Sculley he had to act. In April he relieved Jobs of day-to-day duties and made him vice-chairman. Then Jobs lost that title, too. At 30, he lost the thing that most mattered to him. “I didn’t see it then,” he would say in 2005, “but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.”

So even if you start a company, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be kicked out. Though Jobs’ managed to turn it into an opportunity:

After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets. Apple’s subsequent 1996 buyout of NeXT brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he served as its CEO from 1997 until August 2011.

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Although Next was touted to be the next big thing in computers, Jobs’ struggled to find buyers for his $9,999 computers. He poured $7 million of his own money into the company and it nearly went bust. Funded by VC money, the company continued to chug along.

It was only after a turn of events that Next was acquired by Apple in 1996 for $429 million.

In case you’re wondering, parts of the NextStep operating system formed the foundation of Mac OS X, which were a crucial part of Jobs’ iMacs after he rejoined Apple.

Also, Next’s WebObjects, an object-oriented software platform, would power the Apple Store, iTunes and the MobileMe services.

Lesson: Smart entrepreneurs will learn to reuse, recycle, repurpose tools and intellectual property from previous projects. If you’re an enterprising marketer, this won’t be news to you.

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While Jobs was involved with Next, he also acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm for $10 million. The company, which would later be renamed Pixar, first tried to sell the Pixar Image Computer, but failed. After years of unprofitability, the company would contract with Disney to produce animated films, the first of which was Toy Story and the rest is history, with hits like A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and the Incredibles following.

If you think running a business with “years of unprofitability” to its name is a good thing, you’re probably an optimist, but might not do well running a company. Being able to adapt Pixar’s business model not only ensure its survival, but brought it to a whole new level of profitability.

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And Apple was not without it’s failures too. It’s attempt to launch a tablet computer-type device through it’s Newton subsidiary was a pretty big failure. Placed side by side, you can see some similarities between the Apple Newton MessagePad and today’s iPad.

Lesson: Expect failure no matter how smart or good you think you might be. Picking yourself up is a test of whether you’re capable of getting to where you want to be.