2017 -01-01 Reset

Everyday is a reset – John Logar

And today, the first of 2017, is as good of a day as any to reset.

Completely.

Here. We. Go.

Discover Niche Ideas For My Internet (Kindle) Empire

Recently I have been studying and taking digital advice from Steve Scott (www.stevescottsite.com). He’s killing with Kindle Publishing in the most authentic and awesome way that I am aware of: he writes the books himself and they are about areas that he is interested in and he makes mid six-figure from his one niche. Nirvana! 

Below is an exercise he recommends to work out a niche that anyone could start a Kindle empire on. From this process I actually narrowed down 3 niches and a potential “idea sex” that I really like (but doesn’t fit into a conventional “niche” like “dating” or “personal development”.) I’ve listed the questions below and my answers. If you are going through the process of picking a niche for your digital empire, I would recommend this exercise. You may look at the questions and think “how is this going to help me find my money niche.” It actually works really well because it combines a potential money niche (Profit) with something you are already interested in or already good at (Passion) into a combination that you can use to be both working on something you care about AND making money at the same time (Purpose). This was the “idea sex” I mentioned earlier :) 

Have fun with this!

  1. How old are you? In my later twenties
  2. What is your gender? Male
  3. Where do you live in the world? Vancouver Canada
  4. What is your racial background? Asian, Vietnamese
  5. What is your relationship status? Single (but taken :)
  6. How do you relate to other people? Huh? Wasn’t sure about this question so I haven’t answer it yet
  7. Do you have children? No
  8. How do you spend your time? I spend a lot of my time on my laptop. I spend a good 3-5 hours a day on a sales job with Less Doing. I spend the rest of my time looking at, working on business ideas: I’m starting an Amazon physical product business, I’m working on 2 web design projects for cashflow (that I would love to stop doing because I don’t care about it at all, but, I feel like I’m being forced to keep doing this for another while until my other businesses take off, either the Less Doing sales will pay for my bills, or Amazon physical product will start paying off. But then I already know the ASM won’t pay off until 6 months from now so that’s more of a long term play. So really I spend 4-6 hours a day on cashflow stuff (Less Doing, web design) and the rest on ASM, or reading, watching training videos or courses
  9. What do you do for fun? Oh man… I have put on a limit of what I do for fun, mainly for financial reasons. Right now I watch movies primarily for fun. Occasionally I’ll go on hikes when the weather is good. But mainly movies and occasional eating out. Rarely, iceskating. What I would LIKE to do for fun if money wasn’t an issue: I would like to go on road trips, ideally weekly, even over short distances (I live in Vancouver so a trip to Squamish or Whistler would only take a few hours.) I would also do more outdoor and social activities like going to the bar with friends, going to museums or social nights, going to game places like escape or paint balling etc.
  10. What are your current hobbies? Hmmm. Again, I have put limit on what I choose for hobbies because of financial reasons. Currently I mostly read books and online materials on self development, consciousness, meditation, so the spirituality arena. Actually other than that I don’t really have a hobby that I regularly go to. Self Development in all forms: reading, listening, watching is pretty much all I do for hobbies. If money wasn’t an object, and I don’t artificially put no time for hobbies and fun stuff on my daily routine (because I feel like I need to maximize my daily hours on working and improving myself to make more money so then I can have time to do fun things and spend time in my hobbies). If money wasn’t an object, I would pick up scuba diving as a monthly or biweekly hobby. I enjoy diving in the water and exploring the underworld. I would also pick up dancing. I would also get back to drawing/sketching, something that I used to do regularly (everyday) when I was in junior high.) I would definitely travel more often, to neighbouring provinces, down to the US (now that I have a US visa), and internationally. I would also pick up another skill, probably computer/technology-related because I am fascinated with technology and how it can be the tool to liberate human labour (so that we can all spend our time doing what matters most to us)
  11. What is your current career? I am a new and trying entrepreneur. I sold $10,000 worth of websites last year. I started a Kindle publishing business last year and it has generated about $2000-3000, but I’ve probably only broke even on that. I’m starting a new part-time sales position with Less Doing, a productivity coaching organization
  12. Is there a career you’ve always wanted to try? Hmmm. I don’t know if there is one that I have always wanted to try since I was little. I remember wanting to be Bruce Lee really bad when I was little. Then when I read a lot of love novels, I wrote poems and even started writing a short novel (which I don’t think I finished. It’s been such a long time now I can’t quite remember.) Then in University I wanted to take up computer programming because I was into gaming and I wanted to learn it. I remember finding it fun to reinstall Windows on my laptop and going through the process. But then I didn’t. And then I actually wanted to start a technology/software startup, because I liked technology and startups and the potential to be big and influence the world. So I don’t know if there is one specific career I’ve always wanted to try. There is a theme throughout this which is my natural interest in technology and figuring things out.
  13. What skills do you possess? Hmmm… this is another hard one. I learn quickly and I am adaptable. I know a little bit of HTML and can wiggle my way around HTML code (probably 3/10). I know copywriting and I can write efficient copy (6/10). I can sell (somewhat. I would give myself a 5 out of 10 with selling). With computers, I’m quite efficient (8-9/10). I also know about efficient web design structure that sells (not designing websites, but making it efficient at selling). I know how to buy domain, configure email addresses on the hosting
  14. What skills would you like to learn? I would like to learn how to make money online and how to run successful businesses that are virtual and can be run from anywhere in the world. If there is 1 skill I would like to learn this year, it would be that. I would also like to learn how to turn Passion (Purpose) into Profit. I would also like to learn the process of how to identify someone’s passion. Actually now that I think about this, there’s at least 3-5 books that I can write about the Passion to Profit “market”, if that’s even a market
  15. What are the things you’d like to achieve? In 2015 or immediately or as soon as possible, I would like to be able to earn $5000 a month from a business that is: location independent (I can work from anywhere), time independent (I can work at anytime) and doesn’t require more than 2 hours a day. If I accomplish this in 2015, I would be satisfied with my progress, career/business-wise
  16. What are your fears? 1. that I don’t know enough about the subject to write about it. 2. that the niche isn’t profitable. 3. that people will think less of me if I write something out of the ordinary (like, consciousness) 4. that this model will not work out and I won’t be earning money
  17. What challenges do you experience on a daily basis? 1. Staying consistently focused on one thing. 2. Knowing exactly what to do that will either progresses me further or make more money
  18. What obstacles have you overcome in your life?
    1. Language and culture barrier. I came to Canada when I was 17 and I had to learn to speak English while going to school.
    2. I’ve immigrated myself to Canada, something that’s not easy, compared to my peers.
    3. Overcome my anxiety and depression tendencies and inactions and get off my ass
    4. Juggle full-time study, 2 jobs and volunteering gigs in college
  19. What are your favorite books, movies and songs?
    1. Favourite books: Man’s Quest for Meaning, Power of Now, Autobiography of a Yogi
    2. Movies: Fight Club, Avatar, Inception, Matrix (they all have to do with the nature of reality – false reality genre
    3. Songs: Ain’t No Mountain High, The Impossible Dream
  20. What do people tell you’re good at?
    1. Computers and tech stuff
    2. Coaching and counselling
    3. Systematization: putting something into a process, breaking things down into steps

The Study Abroad Epidemic

When is the right time to live life? Now, or in the future? Or worse, sometime in the past?

Sometime ago I saw a discussion on Facebook of Vietnamese students studying abroad. It was about how some people think studying abroad students have a good life, and the students were arguing that it wasn’t. The students listed all the things that they have to endure and give up for this “studying abroad life.” 4 years ago I would have agreed. But…

The thing is, now, this very moment, is all that we ever have to live. Think about it for a moment. What you did 5 minutes ago is gone, you can’t even go back 1 minute. Nor can you go forward 1 minute. Now is the only time you have to live in this universe. Yet some of us think that we can somehow delay living. There isn’t a pause button for your life. Either you live it this very moment, make it count, make it fun, make it worth living, or you will never get it back.

The mentality of “studying abroad students” is that, we are here, in Canada, in the USA, for 5, 6 years to study. Our lives are somehow paused, because we left everything back home. But no, we carry our lives with us, because we are our lives. You see, 10, 20 years from now looking back, these studying abroad years may well be the best years of your life. Just because you’re “studying abroad”, does that mean you can escape the unannounced visit of death? Of course not.

So please don’t think your life is miserable. Or that you had to give up something for this life. If we can take away any lesson from living abroad, it’s this: you only have one life to live, and you decide when you start living CONSCIOUSLY. If you are waiting for a “someday” when your life will start, then you’re not living consciously. Choose!

The 5-year Comrademanship

We’ve been roommates for 5 years. Since 2006 when I first came to Abbotsford to start school at UFV. 5 years later, 2011, I am hardly the same dude I was then. And in all honesty, you, the roommate, have great influence on this change. Today, you are moving out to start a new chapter in your life. This post is devoted to you, Toan Nguyen, aka Leon, aka the Uncle, aka the Cousin.


5 years we’ve shared the rent together. It’s hardly a blink, though it feels like it. We have been through thick and thin. That’s probably why it feels like a blink.

Let’s start at the beginning. You had internet. I just arrived. And for 3 months I had to use wifi from the neighbourhood because you neglected to share the internet with me. Wasn’t the best impression, but hey, I was getting free food and free rent from your parents (who are my Grandparents in Vietnamese terms,) so what the heck right?

Then Grandparents told you to take me with you to Vancouver. You used to go to Vancouver a lot to visit your friends. You didn’t take me, your newly-arrived and still-shy-as-hell nephew. So grandparents kinda have to tell you to. So I met Tony Luu. The first time we met, Tony was living in the basement with his parents. We walked in, and he’s on the computer playing World of Warcraft. I think every time we saw him during that period, he was on WOW. So my first impression of him was: slop :) (though he is really not)

You got me my first job (ever!) at Modern Nails. You were “doing nails” there, and took me to learn. I got as far as knowing (kinda) how to paint nails (and mostly hold girls’ hands, wait, I meant old ladies’ hands). Then I switched to answering the phone, because the owners had worse English than I. Then I got laid off. I made the first 400 dollars in my life! It was the best feeling, making money for the first time. It must be similar to how people feel when they get outta prison. Ok maybe that’s a bit exaggerating. Then I lost all of it to the bus.

Actually, I lost a lot of things on the bus: wallet (along with the $400!), gloves, shoes (my first skate shoes), food, books… You used to be like “oh my god, you lost your [fill in the blank]. After a while, you just shook your head :D

Then we moved out to anh Truong’s house. Grandparents moved back to Campbell Rivers. So it was just you and me. That’s when I marathon-ed through 197 episodes of Naruto you gave me in 3 days. I felt pretty sick after that.

That’s when our division of labour started. You cooked I cleaned. Years of working in restaurants made you unable to eat the crap I made (when I actually did make them.) This division lasted years until Tinnie :)

Then we moved to the apartment. Then Tinnie.

In these 5 years, you’ve taught me directly and indirectly many things.
1. Being Clean and Mindful
I always forgot things. I was very “đãng trí” back then. Aside from losing everything I possibly can on the bus, I would forget to turn off the oven at home. Sometimes I would put the rice cooker in and not turn it on. And you used to get so mad.

2. Standing up for Yourself
You’re the kind of guys who don’t take shit from someone. At least, not the ones you don’t like anyway. You have no problem saying no, at lot of times to me as well. It sucked when you wouldn’t pick me up or drive me somewhere then, but I really learned from you the gut to say no. And nobody messes with your money. I learned this from you as well.

3. Cooking
I am by far “decent” at cooking, more like “edible” cooking. I learned (eat) a lot from you about cooking, including our last lesson on how to (kinda) fillet a salmon. Thanks to you, now I know how to make a decent dish.

It’s been hell of a fun time man. The movie marathons, the weed, the cooking and clean up. I’ve been a better person because of you. So today when you’re officially moved out, I feel that a chapter of my life has closed. You are a big part of it, and I’m thankful I learned the good things from you.

Best of luck, “buddy”

Improve Your English Tips for ESL Kids (like me!)

English 105 time. This is the introduction course to the Writing Process. I delayed taking this course until now, my last semester, because I was hoping that UFV would drop it from the Accounting program (UFV did drop Eng 120 but never 105! Bummer!) However, I’m quite enjoying this course. After all, I do enjoy writing. It seems that writing in English (like speaking in English) is much more pleasurable and direct than in Vietnamese. I like it!

For ESL kids out there, myself included, learning English has always been a dry and memorized experience (especially when learned in a non-speaking country.) We Vietnamese kids started learning English back when we were in grade 1. However, everything was only in theory. Thus, after 12 years of studying English, I still spoke like a new born baby when I first came to Canada. And it was never really a language, it was more like a mechanical process of knowing where and how words fit, but not really “feeling” it. For example, we learn how to use Active and Passive tenses. But we were never told when to use them, and that Active tense is actually preferred to Passive.

Well, today you’re going to get tips from my English 105 course about improving your writing skills. There are a lot of tips in the book but I’m only going to share some, especially ones I think no ESL kids learned back in their countries. Here goes:

1. Shorter sentences make more sense. Unlike the artistic, poetic writing style (in Vietnam anyway,) shorter is better here.

2. Did you know that “Because of your error in our shipment, we expect a refund” is better than “We expect a refund because of your error in our shipment“? Neither did I. The first one is better because it introduces the familiar information first, and then gives the new information.

3. Use Active voice whenever possible.

4. Use Passive voice selectively (example: lab report)

5. My favourite: eliminate redundancy. Tell me what’s wrong with these phrases:

totally oblivious

past experience

free gift

mental awareness

mutual cooperation

The answer: “totally”, “past”, “free”, “mental”, “mutual” are all redundant. WOW. I love it!

6. Avoid starting with “There” and “It”. How many “there” and “it” openers have I used?

7. Ever heard of “weak” verb vs “strong” verb? Give a summary of is weaker than summarize. Take action is weaker than act.

8. That’s it!

Enjoy!

Blogging from iPhone

Hello world. This is the first post from WordPress the iPhone app. Why? Because I can. What’s up with you lately?

This post is a rant about friendships.

Who are the people in your life you enjoy spending time with the most?
And who are the people you are spending time with that you don’t really truly enjoy?

When I’m with certain people, I’m just happy. For no particular reasons. And taking note of this fact I think is a key component in finding happiness (this came from an email from Keith Ferrazzi which he credited to Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness)

And then when I’m with some other people, I just turn bitchy, mad, critical. For no reasons. You have anyone like this? Maybe we should spend less time with these folks. For everyones sake. Life is too short doing boring/unhappy things. They should be spending time w people they enjoy.

Figure this out. We will be one step closer to lasting happiness.

Blogging Without An Audience

blogMy buddy Yunhe asked me a while ago:

Dude, why are you writing anyway? Nobody’s reading it except me

I thought I should follow up on this. First of all, there are more than just you Yunhe :) There are at least a couple. Second of all, I know there are tons of blogs out there which don’t get the same comments as I do. There’s this one corporate blog with 100+ posts and I think there’s probably 1 comment in the entire blog! But here’s the main reason why I’m blogging (with or without an audience)

Well, I’m a true Gen Y so I have to!

Kidding.

Blogging is like writing journal. There are tons of benefits, but you don’t do it too often. Sometimes you remember, sometimes you don’t. When you’re crunched for time, it’s the first thing you sacrifice. But then something happened, and you feel like you need to write journal again. And you remind yourself: “From now on, I’m gonna write it everyday”

The cycle repeats.

It’s essentially the same reason why I’m learning public speaking with Rise and Shine Toastmasters. Speaking and writing are sooo important! And I think we’re over-educated in academic/essay writing. The fact is, writing that gets things done is short, simple, and concise writing. Unlike my rambling right now. And writing well takes practice. What’s the proof for this? I know tons of people making a living from writing – either in writing itself, or public speaking, financial advice, fitness, etc. Whatever your career or expertise is, effective writing can help.

As more and more businesses and life move online, you’re going to have to write more often!

Lastly though, it’s the possibility. That one day I can make a difference by helping someone through my blog posts. Maybe I’ll help someone by sharing my experiences being an International student and learning a new language. Maybe I’ll inspire someone to be more involved with school. Just maybe. But it’s the possibilities that move.

That’s why I blog with a tiny audience buddy.

Yours Truly,

PS: My iPhone speaker is broken – if you don’t mind getting back to me Yunhe, that’ll be greatly appreciated. :)

Struggling with English? It’s never too late!

A lot of international students at UFV want to transfer to UBC and SFU. A good portion of these students want the transfer for reputation’s sake. Back home, nobody probably hears of UFV. UBC and SFU will give them a better chance at being recognized. Another portion of the transfers though, is because these students can’t get into the degree program. And I have been told that it’s because they struggle with the level of English. Here is my story of learning English and I hope after reading this, you, international students if you happen to stumble on this post, will feel that it’s never too late to try.

I practically learned English in 4 months. I woke up after a big sleep, and I realized I had 4 months left to learn English before the TOEFL exam. UFV required that the TOEFL score to be at least 88 out of 120. I came out at 94.

I came to Canada in October 2005, at Saskatoon airport – Saskatchewan. My host family was wonderful. Ken was a friendly and quiet farmer. Gisele worked at a credit union. Ken would make the most amazing bbq ribs I have ever had, and Gisele would make me a sandwich for lunch every day. I was “culture shocked” though. Coming from a 7 million people city – HoChiMinh city (or Saigon), I couldn’t believe that it would take 15 minutes to drive to our nearest neighbour.

The house was lovely next to a small lake. I loved watching the sun’s reflection at the bottom of the lake every day coming back from school. Ken and Gisele didn’t get home until 6 or 7pm, sometimes even later. I got home at 4pm and sat on their computer to chat, email, and play game until 2am the next day. I woke up at 6 or 7am and the cycle repeated itself. I had no idea how much I racked up their phone bill (the internet was on dial-up.) All I knew was, one day, my English teacher told me if I didn’t improve, I might not pass the grade. She got me a tutor after school too. I was so ignorant that I completely forgot why I was there.

When I woke up, 4 months have passed, and I still spoke English like I have never been in Canada. And I only had 4 months to go, before I had to write the TOEFL exam and apply to UFV. Here’s how I did it.

– Completely forgot about Vietnamese. Everything I did, I meant everything, was in English. Except about 10 minutes a week talking with my parents back in Vietnam. This included: reading the news, listening to music, watching movies, emailing friends. And the most important is: THINKING in English. If you don’t think in English, there is no way you will ever speak as well as an English-born.

– Made friends. Actually, people came to make friends with me, because they were the friendliest people I have ever met. You can’t stay in your groups, international students. If your friend portfolio doesn’t include 50% English-speaking friends, then you are limiting your language ability to the ability of your friends’.I hung out with my friends (which were all English-speaking by the way. There weren’t any other Vietnamese in my town) every day and almost all weekends. I have made some of the best friendships that still last till today.

– Realized WHY I was there. I was there to learn the language, and the education. In order to learn the education, I had to master the language first.

In the end, it is all about making the best out of what you got. After all, we, the international student population is tiny. As of Nov 2008, there were 60,000 Vietnamese students studying abroad. That is 0.1% of the 15-65 aged population. We are the only few who were given the opportunities to see the world. Why not make the best of it?

This Is Why Google Still Kicks Bing’s Ass

I was doing a search for Vietnam National University – Hochiminh City – International Teaching and Education Center (long name!). The keyword I used: “vnu hcm itec” (abbreviations of the long name!)

Bing returned nothing close to what I was searching for. And Google nailed it on the second link.

Booyah!

PS: Who still uses Yahoo Search anyway?