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The Magic Button of Good Design

At least once a week I receive questions about the design process behind the self-published work I’ve made, in particular the three manifestos I offered a few years ago.

"What software do you use?" people want to know. In other words, how do I “make them look good”?

I'm no designer, but as a writer I appreciate the value of imagery and structure that works in harmony with words. I also know that there’s no big secret to it, nor is there a shortcut.

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Prepare for Tomorrow by Doing One Thing Differently Today

Here’s a trick that will help every time.

Work hard during the day, and cross off as many things from your list as you can. But as you’re winding down, save something. Leave one thing undone.

Don’t actually do that one more task—but do identify it.

Stop before you’re completely ready to stop. Build a bridge to the future, and leave your current day’s work knowing what you’re going to do next.

It will work. Every time.

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To Stop Insanity, It’s Not Just About Doing Things Differently

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
-attributed to Albert Einstein, but likely apocryphal

Whoever said it, you’ve probably heard this quotation at some point. And in one way or another, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of doing the same thing over and over, all the while expecting a different outcome.

I think the real danger of going insane doesn’t come from something new, but rather from something that we’ve been doing for a while.

Most of us are smart enough to realize that if we try something new and it doesn’t work, we can’t just keep trying the same way and expect different results. We might try again, but we’ll usually switch up the tactic. Even mice in a maze will learn to adapt and attempt different solutions.

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Tomorrow’s the Last Day for Online Business Training (+ Free Bonuses & Year-Long Support)

9389852584_cd001db345_z Link: 8 Weeks of Online Business Training

Bonuses: Get Naming Rights to My Firstborn A Ton of Great Bonuses When You Sign Up

(Note: You’ll automatically receive the bonuses when signing up at the above link. There’s no need to do anything else.)

Hey everyone,

Just a heads-up that tomorrow is the final day to register for Marie Forleo’s online business course. I’ve said a lot about it already, so this is just a quick notice and an important explanation about why I decided to promote the course.

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One Log Cabin and 800 Yoga Mats: Some Unconventional Tax Deductions from My Life in 2014

I’ve been working on my tax return this week, which is complicated for a lot of reasons. First, I run several different businesses which all have their own set of accounting. WDS, our annual gathering, has its own legal structure, including a foundation that is completely separate from all my other projects. Last year we started an all-new event that also has its own legal structure.

So yeah, it’s complicated. It takes about 20 hours just to prepare all the info for my accountant, and as with most tax-prep tasks, it’s not usually a fun process. But I do enjoy seeing some of the charges on my statements from the previous year. They remind me of the crazy life I have, and the many fun experiences that I'm fortunate to participate in.

As I went through all the expenses, a few things stood out that I thought were especially interesting or noteworthy. And yes, my accountant usually has a lot of questions for me about these things before we actually complete the return and file with the IRS.

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How to Learn About Entrepreneurship Without Spending a Cent

As part of the promotion for this year’s B-School program with my friend Marie, I wanted to point out two very clear things:

1. I think this course is fantastic, and well worth the cost. If you like the idea of establishing a freedom business, like I’ve done and so many AONC readers have done, this is a great way to get going in a structured program.

2. If you don’t have the money or aren't sure you're ready, you don’t need to pay for this or anything else. You’re not "missing out." There are always other ways you can learn and participate.

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Immerse Yourself in What You Want to Become

38563077_a0e8fc4065_z In reading the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech at MusiCares, I also liked this part on the origins of his songwriting:

“There's nothing secret about it. You just do it subliminally and unconsciously, because that's all enough, and that's all I sang. That was all that was dear to me. They were the only kinds of songs that made sense.

I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that's fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.

For three or four years all I listened to were folk standards. I went to sleep singing folk songs. I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals. And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other. I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I'd heard it just once."

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Stop Marketing to “Millennials” or Any Other Generation

SocialMedia From time to time people ask my advice about marketing to Generation X or Millennials or any other group of people. When this happens, I always worry.

One research firm offered me $250 for an hour-long consultation on this exact topic. I said no, partly because I don’t like to trade time for money, but also on the principle of “What would I say?”

If forced to say something, I suppose I’d say that unless you’re selling diapers, it’s a bad idea to market to people based on what generation you think they belong to on account of their birth year.

Instead, maybe you should think first about making something that matters. Then, stop putting people in boxes based on how you expect them to behave and what you think they want. You might be surprised at the results, and you might be a lot more successful.

Cartoon: Tom Fishburne

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How to Run a Business and Still Care for Your Family

I met a guy who was a busy executive at a startup in Silicon Valley. His family, a wife and three young kids, lived several states away. He lived in a hotel during the week, worked every evening, and flew home every weekend before returning to the office on Monday morning. Not a very dedicated family guy, right?

On the contrary. When I asked him about living in two cities, he admitted it was sometimes a challenge. But then he talked about what the weekends were like. “We do everything together,” he said. “We go camping. We bake and cook. We play hard the whole weekend long. I know I have to go back on Monday, so I'm constantly thinking about how to squeeze as much time and as many experiences in as we can.”

His family had discussed the arrangement of him being away mid-week, and they re-evaluated it twice a year. So far, at least, it was working.

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Why I Became an Entrepreneur 16 Years Ago

102269936_c53eb13bef_z The best and most honest answer is that I wasn’t good at anything else. For better or worse, I learned that I was a terrible employee. I was unreliable and unskilled.

I’ve written before about my last official job, lugging boxes onto FedEx trucks in the middle of the night.

Stacking boxes was surprisingly hard! It wasn’t just about picking up the box and tossing it in the truck—you had to stack it in a certain way that led to maximum efficiency (and presumably out of some concern for the contents, though that never seemed to be much of a priority).

I lacked the spatial reasoning to do this task well. I was decent enough at Tetris, but when it came to real boxes, I sucked. I kept waiting for that big horizontal bar to come down the chute, so I could clear off four lines of bricks or boxes all at once, but it never arrived. Instead, the supervisor kept messing with me, adding boxes with incorrect zip codes to the queue while laughing at my poorly-stacked pallets.

Whatever. I quit and never went back.

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The Light Outside My Window on the Morning After Launch

This morning I woke up at 7:20am, and it felt so late. There was a touch of light outside—what was that? Oh right, sunrise.

For the past few mornings I’ve been getting up at the entirely unreasonable hour of 5:30am or sometimes even earlier. My breakfast place opens at 6am and I’ve been at the front of the line shortly thereafter. The sun rose two hours after I’d been awake.

Two nights earlier, I went to bed with my laptop on the nightstand. Yep—it was another product launch week.

As I made another cup of coffee on the morning after having slept “so late,” I thought back on the launches over the years. How many have I done? I honestly don’t remember.

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“What do you do for a living?” “I confound expectations.”

Bob Dylan gave a rare 35-minute speech at a MusiCares event for the Grammys last night. It's all interesting, but here's my favorite part:

"Critics have made a career out of accusing me of having a career of confounding expectations. Really? Because that's all I do. That's how I think about it. Confounding expectations."

"What do you do for a living, man?"

"Oh, I confound expectations."

You're going to get a job, the man says, "What do you do?" "Oh, confound expectations."

And the man says, "Well, we already have that spot filled. Call us back. Or actually, don't call us, we'll call you."

Here’s the full transcript.

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Build a Sales Machine That Works While You Sleep — Free Training with Ramit Sethi

RamitSethi Link: Free Training from Ramit

Starting a business can seem overwhelming. With so much terrible advice on the internet, there are thousands of hopeful online entrepreneurs that waste years spinning their wheels wondering "When is the money going to come?"

My friend Ramit Sethi, who has built a hugely successful online business and community with a massive portfolio of products, has a better way.

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Checking Your Bank Accounts Will Not Make More Money

Seems obvious, right? We wouldn’t expect that driving past the gym will make us any healthier.

But when it comes to money, those of us who are self-employed tend to spend a lot of time on activities that do nothing to help the bottom line, either directly or indirectly.

I don’t just mean “administrative work,” because some administrative work has to be done even if it’s not particularly exciting. You still need to do customer service, update outdated info, and so on.

No, I mean the tendency we have to log-in just to see something. I’ll just check one more time... says the addict.

So here’s an idea: the next time you feel like checking website stats or bank account numbers, hold off a moment. First, do something that matters. Do something that will actually increase or improve whatever metrics you’re tracking. Then, go ahead and check them—because that’s human nature. But make yourself work for it first. Make yourself earn it.

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