Ensure you can be found on Google for the right things

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The importance of Google when someone refers you to a colleague is vital to that new client contacting you.

Most people realise the importance of Google when applying for jobs or getting clients for their business, it's pretty obvious right. But from my experience of dealing with hundreds of business leaders, most don't know what Google says about them. So I ask you, have you Googled yourself lately? If you haven't, pause and do that now...

What did you find? Were LinkedIn and your website first and second links? If not, did your brand get confused with someone else with the same name? Perhaps you changed your name when you got married or moved countries or everyone knows you by your nickname. Maybe you can't be found at all!

In all of these situations, someone who doesn't know you, but has been referred for your service is making a snap judgment about you by what they find. So what do they perceive about you? If you can't be found, perhaps your not that good or successful. If there is negative links attached to your name, they might assume it is about you, when it isn't. If they got Facebook as the first link, does it help them make a decision to work with you?

They are likely to have had a few referrals for the service they want to purchase so you get about 5 -10 seconds to impress them. Or not...

You can't control their perception, but you can modify what they find in Google. In this, and the next few blogs, we will piece together a solution to this important problem. Here is the first few tips...

Do great work

Before you start to modify your Google links, it’s important to realise that you will only be recommended if you do great work. You need to delight your current clients, otherwise, they will not talk about you with enthusiasm. Without providing quality work as the basis for your referral, the Google effort will be wasted. So ensure you get this right first.

A great way to measure your referral readiness is to ask the ‘Ultimate Question’. This one survey question called the Net Promoter Score which trumps all others according to the creator Fred Reichheld, who wrote a whole book on the topic!

You can read a review of this book here, but to make it easy for you to adopt this method into your personal marketing, begin asking your clients this question:

‘Out of 10, how likely would you be to recommend me to your friend or client?’

If you score between 0-6, you get a negative point, 7-8 is neutral and 9-10 is a positive point.

Add them all together and you have an easily measurable score on how others perceive your work. This is a very short summary of a complex system, so check their website if you are interested in learning more.

Know what they are searching for

Most people don't realise that there are three ways clients can find you:

  1. Your name

  2. Your business name, and

  3. Your product name.

It's important you can be found for all three but it depends on the type of business you run. For service providers in 85% of cases, they will refer you by your name. e.g. your local accountant, business coach or lawyer. For mid to larger companies it might be a referral to the organisation such as KPMG. For other companies that are more product based it could be the product itself, such as the Key Person of Influence Program (KPI). All of these are service-based businesses, the difference is what emphasis the owners put on which element of their brands.

The most compelling brand arrangement is to be referred and respected for all three! A difficult task to be sure but one worth aspiring too if you have ambitions of building a large business in the future.

The classic example is Steve Jobs, Apple, and iPhone. Or more locally Daniel Priestley, Dent, Key Person of Influence. Jules Lund, Tribe, Tribe Influencer app. (Luckily I have written blogs about all three!)

It's best to understand what Google says about all three brands you have. Furthermore, if you have multiple businesses and many products you will have a lot more searches to be known for.

Let me illustrate what I mean by using my brand as an example. I am a consultant and thus deal directly with clients so get many referrals for my name 'Andrew Ford' so if you Google me, I will come upon page one for LinkedIn, my personal website www.andrewford.com.au and a few other links. There are photos of my image on the page and also a Google Business Listing on the right-hand side. Hopefully, if someone is looking for me, they can easily find me.

I also get referrals for my businesses "Social Star" and "BYOB Social Club". When you Google those words the websites come up first due to natural SEO as they are a direct hit for the search term and not many people have the same names. That is why choosing a name that you can 'own' on the web is so important.

However, when we get to product searches this is where it gets tricky. Social Star provides personal branding services and BYOB Social Club is a business networking group. If you Google those words we don't come up high at all! In fact, depending on the geographic location you search from and your previous browsing history, we might not appear.

Therefore, if we were getting referrals for our products only because we failed to create strong personal brands or business, we have to spend a lot of money to stand out from the competition on Google AdWords or Facebook marketing.

Plus, these referrals don't have a preference for our specific service. They only want a product so they are more price-sensitive and less loyal than someone who really wants Andrew Ford or Social Star.

It’s important that you can be found for all three searches so over the next three blogs we will provide details on how to maximise each one.  

Enjoy!

Andrew

PS Can't wait for the next blog to come out? Love your motivation! Head to our website and grab a copy of the eBook with all the content free here.

How to get a few more Referrals in your business - my top 10 tips

Andrew Ford grey suit.jpg

Over the last 10 years, social media and Google and mobile technology have massively changed the way we communicate and do business. No big surprise there. The biggest surprise, however, is the way people get information and network in just the last few years.

If you run your own small business, the best clients are hard to reach out to. LinkedIn is getting super busy, Facebook ads work but are expensive and are not suitable for all markets. So the best way to get clients is a good old fashion referral. But how do you get more of these?

Referrals are gold! They are the free-kick of sales. A pre-qualified connection contacts you to see how you can assist them. They have a defined need, some trust of you from the person who referred you and wants to take action now! If you are not getting referrals, one reason could be your service isn't outstanding. The other reason is you don't have a quality online brand.

The difference today compared to 10 years ago is that the vast majority of people will do their research on anyone recommended to them prior to making contact. That means people are Googling your name; whether you're ready for it or not. The best opportunities start with a referral, and the best way to get more referrals is to have an attractive (or e-ttractive as we call it!) online brand.

How to build an e-ttractive and authentic personal brand?

It’s no longer your choice to have an online brand or not. Whether it’s your Facebook or Instagram page or LinkedIn profile, we all have an online presence. The challenge is how you use it to attract the opportunities you want.

Even if you choose not to be online, that creates a brand impact about you, of being conspicuous by your absence. Are you considered ‘behind the times’ because you don’t have LinkedIn or just a social person who is not serious about business, if all you have is Facebook or Instagram? It’s all about perception and “what Google says about you” is most people's first perception of you.

Luckily what appears in Google can be controlled.

I’m sure many people would be thinking, this is all too hard! Or I don’t know much about digital so how can I manage Google? I understand. However, it’s better to manage your online brand for the benefit of your career and business, rather than leaving it to chance.

We are here to help!

For most people, the starting point is to know what your online brand is right now?

To find out, simply type your name into Google and you will see what others see. Can you even be found?

What is the top link? Does it represent what you would like your potential employers or customers to see? Any photos that you would rather not be there.

Do you like what you see?

If not, don’t panic! We have a solution for you...

Download our top 10 tips to build and manage an attractive online brand for your career success to beat the competition. In it, you will find...

1. How to be found on Google

2. Maximise your personal SEO

3. Optimise your business presence on Google to attract referrals

4. Get found for your niche job, product or service

5. Build a website that performs

6. Using personal social media for your business and career benefit

7. Getting prospects to connect with you online

8. Create a clear call-to-action (CTA) for your personal and business brand

9. Email segmentation for effective communications

10. Leverage your brand with paid advertising

Get it now from the Social Star website and don't worry, we will badger you to buy something. We don't even ask for your email address! If you want some more help, you will contact us :)

Cheers Andrew

PS If you do want some more personal help. Try out 20min free online brand review by clicking here.

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Sometimes business works out and sometimes it doesn't!

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A few years ago a client approached me to create a 12-week health program as they were on trend. Michelle Bridges was smashing out her program and Kayla Itsines was the new starlet on the block. Both were making tens of millions a year with their body transformation programs. Seriously.

In fact, I heard from a reliable source that a few years ago Kayla was Australia's highest spender on Facebook marketing. That's including all the big companies!

I was excited by the project and loved creating our unique formula. Honest advice, not clickbait promises of rock hard abs in a few weeks with little effort. The strategy was not to tell you what to do, but get people who were like you and show how they maintain fitness and health.

To attract other coaches I filmed my own program as a sample and invited some of my network to join too. My program was for busy dads. Glen Manton for mature athletes post-retirement. Ossie Khan was an extreme athlete from sky diving to wingsuits, showcasing keeping safe and preparing your body for adventure sports. Miss Filly, for those aspiring girls who dance with poles for fitness and so on. We were going to have a niche coach for all segments of the market, backed up by expert advice from a Personal Trainer and Dietitian.

We were attracting a lot of attention but unfortunately, the client ran out of money (passion) for the project and pulled it before we fully launched. I attribute these issues to the core reason most businesses fail - lack of commitment to the goal. If your heart isn't really in it, you will quit when it gets hard.

The lesson for me was to ensure people have a massive 'Why' before starting a project or they will give up when the 'How' gets too hard.

Hence, my focus on a thorough Understand session as the first workshop with my new clients. Once you figure out the deep why people have and tap into that as a resource, the how becomes something they can achieve with some guidance.

Without the why, it's just a money grab and if a better investment comes along, you will pivot or give up completely.

So is your why worth the pain or starting your own business? I suggest answering that before jumping out of your job. If you don't know what your why is, come see me and I will help you figure it out!

To your health,

Andrew

PS You can still see my eBook on my website and download free - https://www.andrewford.com.au/andrew-ford

What's on YOUR bucket list? (apart from wine...)

Andrew Ford, Ben Coyle, bucket list .jpeg

Friend: What the hell is a bucket list?

Me: It's a life plan dedicated to fun, rather than tasks.

That's what a friend asked me today when I posted that I'm helping a friend host a Bucketlist Party and did they want to join me. It's next Wednesday, I said, and I'm getting a few friends together and create our own list of things we want to do before you die. Sounds a bit scary, but it's actually a lot of fun and can be quite powerful thinking about what's really important to you rather than what's most urgent.

Check out what a Bucketlist is here

My mate, Ben Coyle 'AKA the Cafe Guy', is facilitating the workshop as he is a fresh graduate of the Bucketlist School. Yes there is such a thing...My other mate, Trav Bell 'AKA The Bucketlist Guy, created a whole personal business around helping people tick off their dreams a few years ago.

Funny story, I met him when I was working at IBM. It was a few years before I started Social Star and he doesn't know it (and I would never admit it to him!) but he was part of the inspiration for leaving my corporate job to start my own business.

My main reason for leaving the corporate world was to spend more quality time with my young kids. But he was part of the motivation, proving to me that you can start a business based on your own personal brand, be successful, manage your own time and have way more fun!

Now I spend my time, helping other Corporate Escapees to free their time by starting their own businesses. I know, that for many people, starting their own business is top of their Bucketlist so very aligned with my values.

If you missed my back story, you can catch up by clicking on the photo below.

But enough about me, back to the Bucketlist story. I was chatting with Ben about his new focus on coaching people to action their bucketlist and I was keen to do one other their 3 hour workshops to get some perspective for 2019.

He suggested we run one together and here we are!

The format of the workshop is as follows...

"A Bucket List Board Party is a 3 hour group workshop where you'll learn, design & create your very own Bucket List Board.

Unlike a regular Vision Board, you'll incorporate the M.Y.B.U.C.K.E.T.L.I.S.T. Blueprint(R) & take the Law of Attraction to an entirely new level. You'll leave with an inspirational, in-your-face reminder of your 'WHY'.

This is your chance to get creative, get visual and actively start designing your life. Gather your like-minded friends and book a Bucket List Board Party."

If you are thinking about your 2019 plans and want to have a fun few hours planning out some must do goals, join Ben and myself next Wednesday in Melbourne.

---------- Here is the link to join -----------

Hope to see you there!

Cheers Andrew

PS Yes there will be wine! (...and beer, snacks etc...)

Build Your Own Business Part 1 - 'Focus on one thing'

This is the first of 12 blogs on how to Build Your Own Business. Too busy to read? I have a solution, listen to my matching podcast on the same topic click here - #BYOB podcast.

After working with hundreds of Corporate Escapees who want to leave their day jobs and build their own businesses, two things separate those who succeed and those who give up: focus & persistence.

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But how do you choose what to focus on when you have soooo many great ideas!? I get it. I'm a super creative entrepreneur too. I have new ideas every time I shower or go for a run (or a few beers...). But without a focus on a single idea, none of them will develop into a sustainable business because you will not persist.

For those new to my work, the definition of a 'business' is that you are selling something and delivering it for cash. If you are not making money, sorry buddy, it's a hobby.

Focus

The way we help clients focus on one idea in their business is to align this idea (product, target market, campaign) with their highest core values. Then you will naturally focus as it's what you really want to do.

When we talk about values we are not discussing right and wrong, like The Ten Commandments style. It's how we prioritise our limited resources of time, money and energy. (Thanks for Dr John Demartini for the inspiration for my values work.)

The seven areas we review (in no particular order) are:

  1. Business, 2. Money, 3. Family, 4. Friends, 5. Health, 6. Education, 7. Spirituality

Of course, all of these values are important, but only the top 3 will drive our behaviour and choices. If your business isn't a top value it will be tough to develop a work rate sufficient to build a strong business as your other values will get in the way.

For example; let's say Family, Friends and Health are your top values and Business number 4. It's time to do those proactive sales calls or write your blog for the week. But you have to pick up the kids from school, then you are invited by a friend for a drink and you wanted to squeeze in a run too.

What do you do? Do you put your kids in after-school care, say no to your friend and do your run, or do you get your work done? When it's your own business you can choose how you spend your time as you are your own boss, but that is a double edge sword as you lack accountability.

If your highest value was Business you would choose to do the work, perhaps not all the time, but enough to make your business thrive. If you prioritise other areas of your life most of the time, you will not have sufficient time to run a sustainable business.

Once you know your highest values, ask yourself how this particular idea supports all of your values. Try to come up with 20 ways this particular business model, product, target market or campaign support your health, family, friends etc. Once you start matching your core values to your work, it's far easier to say yes to work and no to distractions.

Persistence

It takes 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week to run a strong business generating an income to match a corporate job.

That level of effort requires persistence. Persistence comes from matching your 'Why' to your business. When you truly believe that your business will meet your long-term goals and values, you will have the inspiration to continue in the face of setbacks and challenges.

If you know that your business serves others, believe that it can make money to support you and confidence that you can do it, you will persist.

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Unfortunately, many people lack the strategy of how to build their own business, the process to build a successful marketing and sales campaign to get clients and motivation to do the work required to scale a business that is sustainable. Thus, they give up and chase another business model, create a new product or choose a different target market. But the underlying issue is they really haven't spent the time to figure out their 'Why' and understand their values to choose what to focus on and the reason to be persistent.

Most of the time the problem isn't in the business. All businesses have problems. The goal is to find the problems you enjoy solving. That takes internal work to discover your 'Why' and your values.
 

Solution

After going through it many times and coaching many clients through the same process, my advice on how to resolve this issue is to do a Values workshop. We do them at Social Star or you can find a good Demartini Facilitator to help you through the process.

By getting clear on these two areas you will significantly increase your chances of success in your business, because the only real way to fail in your business is to give up.

My advice on how to resolve this issue, after going through it myself many times and coaching many clients through the same process, is to do a Values workshop. We do them at Social Star or find a good Demartini Facilitator to help you through the process.

By getting clear on these two areas will significantly increase your chances of success in your business, because the only real way to fail in your business is to give up.

Check out this video here for more details - Demartini talks Values

Talk to Andrew regarding a Values workshop - Chat to Andrew

Why teach? The three things I learnt from my students this semester

Each Wednesday night this year I rushed off after work to teach a room full of uni students whose main ambition was not to do an exam and finish their degree with as little effort as possible. Little did they know that my mission was to be an intervention to their status quo and shock them into the reality of life outside of the protective University walls!

Andrew Ford, Social Star, Monash University

 

It's not easy to do this extra gig, but I fully believe it's worthwhile. I sure don't shlep myself to the outer suburbs and back again at night, when I could be finishing work, going to the gym or god forbid having a drink with friends for nothing. I definitely get something out of it (...and it's sure not for the pay...), so what's the juice?

Many people consider doing some part-time lecturing so before you sign up have a read of my insights into the three main benefits of teaching.

1) Great Contacts

Teaching at University has been a passion of mine since I finished my Masters of Entrepreneurship at Swinburne way back in 2010. I was invited to teach in the Masters of Marketing program to add a dose of reality to the student's theory as I was running all sorts of cool marketing programs at Sensis. Check out the Paint Party story!

One of the benefits was that's where I met Lynn, my partner at Social Star, and one of my closest friend which was a great bonus! We kept in touch for many years after uni as friends and 2014 she joined the company and has been our greatest asset for the last four years.

I have also picked up many clients from mature age students and their referrals.

2) It helps your Career

I believe teaching, like most careers, is a calling. You either love it or hate it. I love it. I think it's the chance to influence someone's life for the better that gives me the buzz or perhaps it's just my ego inflation from standing at the front of the room :) Either way, I enjoy the experience so take the opportunity when I have time.

This year I was invited to co-teach a very cool subject called Career Dynamics at Monash Caulfield. It's the first subject I have heard of that is an elective for the entire school and fully focussed on getting students a job when they graduate. Of course, I encouraged them to #BYOB but that's another story!

The benefit for my company is I got to test out my personal branding strategies on a group of students to see if I could engage them. Much harder than my usual clients who seek me out - great learning! Now I am applying some new techniques to make branding even easier for our clients at Social Star.

3) It Builds Your Character

Each week when I get off the train from teaching uni at Monash Caulfield, I am confronted by the frustrating sound of chillout music, sights of people drinking cold beers and smells of freshly cooked burgers and fries. Damn you, whoever put a bar along the fenceline of that platform 10!

When the weather is fine, of course, I would rather be having a few beers with mates, but I chose to help others instead because I fully believe that doing something for others, above your own needs, builds character. This isn't something business people discuss as much these days, but if you look to the leadership of the last century where your word was your credibility, you gave back because it was the right thing to do and you stood up for what was right - I feel a lack of charcter in many of our leaders.

Teaching this group of students isn't going to change the world, but if I change one of their worlds then it's all worthwhile. Just maybe I will make up for all the bad stuff I have done!

Hope you enjoyed the blog,

Andrew

P.S. If you haven't checked out my new podcast have a listen to my personal journey here.

Want to Build Your Own Business? Take a 'boliday' by yourself.

I recently returned from a quick 'holiday' in beautiful Phuket, Thailand. During my six days in Kamala beach, I discovered a few things about myself and my business that might be handy for those working on their own corporate escape. Here are my top three takeaways.

Andrew Ford, Social star, BYOB

 

The reason I put 'holidays' in parenthesis is that it's not really a holiday, it's a boliday. A business holiday. I go by myself to work on my business plan for the next year. I see some sights, swim, drink too many beers, but overall I am 'working' about 5-6 hours a day. It's a bit lonely at times, you get a few funny looks having your laptop at breakfast, but that's the point - to get away where there are no distractions and let your brain work out what's next on the journey. I have had a few of these and have a few tips for people wanting to try one. Hope they help.

Tip 1 - Actually Get Away

The first problem to overcome is actually getting away in the first place. I'm sure it sounds nice, but how does a small business operator even get away in the first place? Between partners, kids activities, business commitments and of course the cost I know many small business owners who would never consider taking a holiday by themselves - ever. I tend to work a lot and don't take many breaks so I have to have a system in place for me to take regular bolidays.

The system for me is to be in a travel club where I pay a small amount each month which gives me points towards a holiday. It's a package deal so you have to go somewhere nice and actually be on a holiday. The points expire so I use it or loose it! Great motivation to book a trip. By the time you get to the boliday, it's mostly paid for so the money excuse is gone too. This trip, I used my frequent flyer points for flights and the package part cost me $250 for 6 days.

So tip 1 is set up a system to ensure that once a year you take a boliday alone to work on your business.

Tip 2 - Set Intentions

Before I left for Thailand I already knew what I wanted to get done. My first book 'Creating a Powerful Brand' (written in Bali a few years ago on my first boliday) has been out a few years and I have a bunch more material I want to share. So time for book number two. The problem was I was so busy with work and kids, that I wasn't clear on what it should be about. I needed some space to reflect before I committed a year of work on that project.

Day one of being in Thailand, I sat by the pool with my notebook and wrote my intentions. I had to finish a few work and University items before I could focus, I wanted to read Daniel's Priestley's book 24 Assets to stimulate my thinking, prepare for two courses I was running and get my book plan done. I also checked in with my team and ensured the business was all okie dokie.

This might now sound like a holiday, it isn't. It's a boliday. The benefit is that after work instead of the long commute home to cook dinner, do the washing and do emails in front of the TV. I would walk down this beach (see drool photo above) and have a $10 pad thai on the beach with sand in my toes and a few beers. Not so bad after all.

The tip is to be clear about what you want at the end and write it down, review regularly and take the actions.

Tip 3 - Your Brain Will do the Work

Day one of a boliday I am always a bit anxious. I try to get clarity, I force myself to relax and will my ideas to come. Doesn't work.

This trip, I just did the work I had to get done first. This helped my brain relax as I knew once it was completed I could genuinely relax. I put myself into a relaxing environment by the pool, had a few drinks if I felt like it, read some of my book, did some exercise and cruised. It's amazing how many hours there are in the day once you take all other distractions away.

After a few days of 5-6 hours work on my stuff, I started to unwind and let my brain think about the future. It's funny how when you set an intention, your brain just starts working on it all the time without you even knowing. Then you're at Phi Phi island enjoying the sun, taking selfies and you get a moment of clarity about your book - awesome!

The tip here is, you can't make it happen, you have to set the focus and let it happen.

Conclusion

Boliday's are not for everyone, but for those considering starting your own business, I highly recommend it to get some clarity. If you have any other tips on your annual routines to plan your year, love to hear them!

P.S. My next book & podcast is all about Being Your Own Boss #BYOB coming soon!

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Like this blog? Check out some others I think you would like on my website. Here is one on my Vietnam trip.

First Chapter - "Creating a powerful brand" perfect to Build Your Own Business

First Chapter - "Creating a powerful brand" perfect to Build Your Own Business

‘Seek and you shall understand.’

Tao philosophy

In my favourite movie, The Matrix, machines have taken over the world and are using humans as batteries. In the film, the character Morpheus says a brilliant line to the newly awakened Neo: ‘Welcome to the real world.’

As in the 'Matrix': Everyone Fails the first time. Is this part of Building Your Own Business?

As in the 'Matrix': Everyone Fails the first time. Is this part of Building Your Own Business?

Coaching would help them see the bigger picture, connect the value dots and help them persist and get where they are wanting to go. The dilemma is only when they feel that this activity will reach their goals will they seek and respond to coaching and advice, but they need the coaching to see how it connects to their values! Chicken and egg situation right there.

Why jump out of a perfectly good plane? Because you can when you Build Your Own Business...

Last weekend I took my team skydiving. Yes jumping out of a perfectly good, working plane in the air at 35,000 feet with only a thin plastic sheet to stop you hitting the ground at 220 km per hour. Nice.

Separating Time from Money - Building Your Own Business Vs Corporate

Separating Time from Money - Building Your Own Business Vs Corporate

Have you ever stopped to think about the relationship between time and money? I think all of us have the dream of having control of our time and enough money to do what we want. But for 90% of the population this will remain just that - a dream. It will not be their reality.

More Travel, More Holidays, More Free Time, More Kid Fun!! But How? Hint...BYOB

More Travel, More Holidays, More Free Time, More Kid Fun!! But How? Hint...BYOB

I have finally decided I want more!  More of the stuff I like and less of the stuff I don't.  Sure we all think this at time, but what do we actually do to get it? I have taken some risks and chances to get on the road to time freedom. It's not for everyone, but if you are keen to get more time, travel, life and less work, pressure and stress - then this blog might be for you. 

Working 9 to 5, but have an awesome idea for a business? Me too! Here are 12 steps to get started

Working 9 to 5, but have an awesome idea for a business? Me too! Here are 12 steps to get started

I have seen a lot of start ups in my time. From my study days in my undergrad in marketing and Masters in Entrepreneurship, to being involved in Start Up Weekend and Key Person of Influence programs - I must have seen hundreds of pitches for new business ideas. 

Balancing kids and time - How To Build Your Own Business

Balancing kids and time - How To Build Your Own Business

Kids spell love TIME! They don't care what sort of car you drive or what brand clothes you wear, they only count their relationship with you by how much Value time you spend with them. I'm not talking about driving them places, cooking dinner, doing emails while they watch TV time - I'm talking about real Value time. 

My Entrepreneurial Journey from Corporate to Start Up: How to Build Your Own Business

My Entrepreneurial Journey from Corporate to Start Up: How to Build Your Own Business

"Burn the ships, conquer or die!" Hernán Cortés famously said during the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1519AD. Since then 'burning the boats' has become a popular motivational phrase and one which I can relate to.

'Know Thy Self' to create e-ttraction, now was that Socrates or Morpheus...

'Know Thy Self' to create e-ttraction, now was that Socrates or Morpheus...

Imagine Socrates back in ancient Greece around the 400BC mark. Sitting around in cool white robes, eating grapes with his best mate Plato thinking about stuff all day. What a life!  Much better than being a human battery like Morpheus was.