Websites Should be Built for the Customer

Customers have inherent questions when they visit any business online. Some of these questions are determined by the customer’s personality, while others are influenced by the customer’s first impression of the Web page they landed on. If your potential customers can quickly and easily get their questions answered, they are more likely to convert to paying customers. If you or your Web designers did not build your business website with the customer in mind, you might want to think about a redesign.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, look at your website, and ask the following questions:

– Is this what I expect to see?
– Can I tell what this company does?
– Will I benefit from the products and/or services here?
– Are the prices reasonable?
– Can I trust the refund policy?
– Do I want to spend time here?

– Does the site look credible and trustworthy?
– Is this company established?
– What do other people think of this company?

Next Steps
– What actions can I take from here?
– Are there any promotions I can take advantage of?
– Can I talk to a live person?
– Are there any case studies on the site?
– How do I learn more about the company?
– How do I contact the company?

Along with the questions I have listed, there will be questions that only you can think of (because they will be specific to your respective entrepreneurial project). Take some time to brainstorm as many questions as you can (better yet, ask some of your current customers to help you), add them to my list above, and evaluate whether your website is effective at giving your customers the answers to these questions.

Remember, most people hit the Web to gather information first. Provide this valuable service to prospects and these potential customers might just honor you with a few more seconds of their valuable attention.

Your Fitness Journey Should Start Now!

Just like most popular worthwhile endeavors, there is a plethora of information out there about health and fitness. The Internet has a lifetime of information you can consume about various, and sometimes competing, ways to get healthy or start a fitness program. With all this information available to you mere keystrokes away, when do you say enough is enough and get started?

The answer is now!

You probably aren’t studying for a fitness exam. And if you are an adult, there is little you need to mentally prepare for… you learned enough in high school to do something. Get up from the computer and get out there. Shorten the distance between contemplation and action. Fitness is a “learn as you go” proposition anyway. To get started most people need only to simply put one foot in front of the other and repeat. You don’t get your heart rate elevated by planning, fitness requires doing. So get started now! If something is not working for you spend some time to make the needed adjustment, then road test (or gym test) what you’ve discovered. You don’t like what you are currently doing? Take a class and learn as you go.

Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with researching and planning, but not doing this in tandem with exercise is simply your excuse to not get started. Start slow, but burn (calories) as you learn. Take the first step to a better you today!

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Well honed concentration skills are a cornerstone of being able to perform at our peak. Concentration is the ability to do a chosen task by focusing on the outcome and either blocking or mitigating distractions.

Recent studies have shown that concentration can be improved through meditation:

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Meditation is the practice of channeling our own consciousness through various forms of relaxation techniques. One of the many benefits from meditation is a more focused mind. When we are able to channel our focus, we improve our chance of achieving optimum performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that undisturbed focus can even help people overcome personal limits.

Roger Bannister is a perfect example of this. It was a steadfast held belief that no one could ever run a four-minute mile. Yet Mr. Bannister broke this barrier by repeatedly visualizing this accomplishment in his mind’s eye so intensely that he was able to achieve a physical result, a 3:59 mile. He not only overcame a personal limit, he forced people to rethink the limits of human potential. Once Mr. Bannister had set the precedent, and people “knew” it was possible several others duplicated this feat within a year.

Getting back to mere mortals like myself, in the psychomotor study referenced above, meditators took Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) tests after meditating (which is a fancy way of saying they stared at LCD screens, and their response times were measured between seeing an image and pressing a button after being aware of the image’s presence). In this particular study, those who had gone through some sort of meditation (even if they are not experienced meditators) performed better during PVT testing, thus showing measurable improved mental performance.

Races on Super Bowl Sunday 2011

Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers is set to take place on Sunday, February 6, 2011. It is an American tradition, where even the most health conscience fitness enthusiast gives himself or herself the day off to enjoy food, friends, and a beer or two. Fortunately, race promoters across the United States make us feel better about the break in our otherwise healthy regimen by offering various road races across the country before kick-off. Here is a list of just a few, one of them might be in your neighborhood:

Redondo Beach 33rd Annual Super Bowl Sunday 10K/5K
A yearly spectacle that consistently attracts more than 10,000 participants, the Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K/5K run is probably one of most well-known Super Bowl races in the country. The yearly costume competition is a highlight of the event, providing an outlet for those runners who like to dress up and cannot wait for Bay to Breakers in May. Celebrating the grandest day in sports by walking and/or running through the breathtaking views of Southern California is a sure way to pump you up for Super Bowl Sunday.

Lehigh Valley Road Runners Super Bowl 10K
The Lehigh Valley Road Runners Super Bowl 10K is a yearly tradition for locals of Pennsylvania. This year marks the tenth year of the race. The event which happens on the 6th of February is in partnership with the HCM Foundation in order to help families dealing with cancer.

Super bowl 5K Road Race
This 5K Super Bowl race in Novi, Michigan is another Super Bowl race which advertises plenty of good traditional Super Bowl eats available after the race.

Run Denver Super Bowl 5K
Run the Mile High City in this Super Bowl run organized by Run Denver. The Run Denver Super Bowl 5K of Colorado will test your running power in high altitude. The event, which happens February 5th, 2011, is part of the Assurant Health Run Denver series which benefits the Prostate Conditions Education Council.

HRCA Super Bowl 5K Run
The next day in Denver, HRCA’s Super Bowl 5K race takes place on February 6th, 2011.

4th Annual Tempe Super Sunday 5K Run
Looking for a warmer race? Try the Arizona 4thAnnual Super Sunday 5k Run and 1 Mile Fun Run event. The event is held in Tempe, Arizona on the 6th of February, and is a great way to get fresh air and workout before kick off.

Super Bowl Touchdown for the Homeless Run
Start Super Bowl Sunday with this 10K/5k Run/Walk race that benefits homeless families in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This race also features a costume contest. The Super Bowl Touchdown for the Homeless Run is held on February 6th, 2011.

Super Bowl Sunday Run II
Sacramento is hosting a race for the Super Bowl named “Super Bowl Sunday Run II”. Enjoy the Super Bowl guilt free by running this 10K. It is a flat, scenic course along the American River Parkway. Jersey style T-shirts are given to all entrants and football themed awards are presented to the top finishers. Plenty of game day food and beverage is available post race as well.

2011 Super Bowl 5K/10K Fun Run & Walk
The 2011 Super Bowl 5K/10K Fun Run & Walk in Folsom, CA is in its 2nd year. To be held on the 6th of February, the race runs along the paths of the Folsom Parkway Bike Trail. Tailgate style food is provided after the race. In addition, raffle drawings and an award ceremony conclude the event.

Super Bowl 4-Miler Run
Rain or shine, the Super Bowl 4-Miler in Goleta, CA will be a great way to set up your Super Bowl Sunday right. The course is flat and fast along the streets of Goleta, plus a portion goes through the trails of Lake Los Carneros Park.

The Virtual Super Bowl Run
If you can’t find a Super Bowl race that is within a reasonable distance of where you will be Super Bowl Sunday, consider running The Virtual Super Bowl Run. If you sign up you will be provided with a custom-made numbered bib with your name, city, and country imprinted. They only ask that you make a small donation to a local charity to compete in this “virtual” race.

Start Super Bowl Sunday right by getting you blood pumping, then enjoy the game (and game day snacks and beverages) guilt free with family and friends. Be safe and have fun!

Contrary to Popular Belief, Peak Peformers Get Sleep

Peak peformers get sleep

Many people think peak performers are always burning the candle at both ends. I certainly believed that at one point. Others of us struggle to find balance and give up healthy habits like exercise, or spending time with friends and family, in an attempt to work harder thinking we will get more done. In extreme cases, some peak performers get anxious at just the thought of sleep because they fear the lack of productivity that occurs during restful periods.

To the contrary, as humans, we need to commit to balance of which adequate sleep is a crucial component. When we are asleep, we become free of all of the stress from the outside world and our body’s energy is able to restore & renew.

There are three very basic factors of sleep:

1. The time you enter sleep

2. The quality of sleep you get during rest

3. The time you wake up

To help improve these three factors you have to have proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a fancy term used to describe ways to set yourself up for optimal recovery during rest. Organize and implement simple sleep hygiene principles and performance in all areas of your life will improve:

1. In the evening do things that are relaxing (such activities include reading a book and listening to slow music). Avoid things that are stimulating (such as exercise or watching a scary movie).

2. Have a pre-sleep routine. Routines train your mind it is time to go to sleep. Examples include taking a warm bath, reading a fictional book, or listening to relaxing music for a few minutes.

3. Have a fixed bedtime and wake-up time. Go to bed at a predetermined time and try to wake up at the same time every day. Keep in mind that you need at least 6 hours of sleep but the common suggested amount of sleep is 8 hours.

4. If possible, schedule all of your day’s activity. This means determining and following a scheduled meal time, workout time and other activities.

5. Avoid taking naps during the daytime especially after 3 PM. Naps sort of reset your energy level for the day, which can be beneficial but not if you have trouble sleeping. Doing so would mean you’ll have more energy and less of a sleepy feel come bedtime.

6. Put away gadgets or any electronics that would make you do something related to your work or remind you of your responsibilities or problems. Relax and remove your worries.

7. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol well before your bedtime. Typically, it is suggested to avoid this 4-6 hours before bedtime as these chemicals are all powerful.

8. Avoid sleeping pills or if inevitable, take them with caution. Consult your doctor before taking sleeping pills or if you need them at all. Once you establish dependency, it is a downward spiral.

9. Buy a comfortable bed and use comfortable bedding; Buy them personally so that you are comforable with the feel.

10. Eliminate noise and light. Make the bedroom quiet, cool and dark. This type of environment soothes the senses and relaxes the mind.

11. Use the sun as part of your biological clock. As soon as you wake up, try and face the sunlight for a few minutes. This can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder as well.

Your bedroom should only be used for sleep or intimate encounters. Working, watching television, and/or playing on your laptop can all hinder sleep. A radio is okay if the station is not talk radio. Reading non-fiction or listening to talk radio is not recommended because it keeps your brain stimulated.

Getting the best sleep possible is one of the best ways to optimize the next morning’s challenges and opportunities. Getting sleep is one of the most undervalued traits of the peak performer. Improve the quality of your sleep and you will be rewarded!

Using Kaizen as an Entrepreneur

This post is about using Kaizen principles as an entrepreneur. Kaizen is a Japanese concept meaning “continuous improvement” or “change for the better”. When applied to entrepreneurship it honors improving processes — and optimizing the entrepreneurial journey — more than focusing on static outcomes. The underlying philosophy is not the comparison of a beginning point and endpoint but the process of improvement and growth in the present. When applying Kaizen to an entrepreneurial system, you should involve every member of your business (across all levels). There are five elements to consider:

  • Teamwork
  • Discipline
  • Quality circles
  • Morale
  • Employee Input

In Kaizen, everyone within your endeavor is expected to share in the collective entrepreneurial experience… successes and shortfalls. This is not a one day event or celebration, rather an enduring process which aims to eliminate inefficiency and ambiguity. In addition, it also aims to create a harmonious working atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to participate in making the business better. Using Kaizen principles, organizational structures are flattened and everyone works with everyone else within the business. Furthermore, it is assumed perfection can never be truly achieved, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, this is not a problem based approach… it is a constant process. Everyone around you becomes a big-picture thinker.

Using this philosophy your employees begin to understand that their opinions are important and useful. They naturally become more empowered. The biggest takeaways from Kaizen is the importance of process, and that success is a journey that has no end… it is paved by being mindful of small consistent victories. Everything is built by taking small steps, by taking everything into consideration. Entrepreneurs using Kaizen principles take nothing for granted and constantly look to improve by taking small steps everyday and honoring the process of building a meaningful business. If you would like to learn more about Kaizen, I suggest reading Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, Second Edition by David Mann.

PQQ Dosage | What size pyrroloquinoline quinone pills should I take?

What is a reasonable PQQ dosage for an active adult?

This question has not been fully resolved and is complicated by the inability to measure all forms of PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone | methoxatin).   However, it is possible to make several good inferences from current animal studies and data for the pyrroloquinoline quinone content that researchers have found in food.

PQQ dosage

First, from the animal studies, it is pretty clear that not much PQQ is needed for normal growth and development (in every animal that has been studied at least).  For example, as little as 200 to 300 nanograms per gram of diet seem to support normal growth and development in mice, which is about half the requirement for folic acid in mice (400 to 500 nanograms per gram of diet). Of potential relevance, this is also near the same concentration of pyrroloquinoline quinone derivatives scientists have found in human milk when expressed on a milk solid basis. In adult humans, who consume the equivalent of 400 to 500 grams of solid food per day (2000 to 3000 calories), one might infer from what is in human milk that 0.1 to 0.15 milligrams of PQQ equivalents (per day) might sustain normal function.  For perspective, the adult human recommended dietary allowance for folic acid is near this amount, less than half a milligram. For most animals that have nutritional requirements for given dietary growth factors and vitamin-like compounds, the requirements are remarkably similar when they are expressed relative to dietary energy needs (or the number of kilocalories actually utilized).  If done in this fashion, it is possible to extrapolate a guess for suggested human pyrroloquinoline quinone intake from animal models.

Then why is the amount added to supplements often 10 milligrams of PQQ (or more) as the daily dose?

First, the 0.1 to 0.15 milligrams of PQQ per day amount (referenced above) is based on the lowest extrapolated amount needed to promote growth in young animals. These studies were using highly purified diets or the direct extrapolation from human milk to get pyrroloquinoline quinone.  When a more complex diet is consumed, it is assumed a higher amount of PQQ is needed.  For example, to get a measured response in adult animals fed a complex diet (such as a change in mitochondrial function) there is the need to feed 2000 to 3000 nanograms of PQQ per gram of food (in other words, 10 times more than the amounts  mentioned above).  Some possible reasons are that consuming a complex diet activates numerous xenobiotics and secondary metabolism pathways, which can cause PQQ to be catabolized at higher rates.  Also, at the gut level, there is a greater competition for nutrient absorption.  Playing on this assumption, the amount of PQQ needed would be on the order of 1 to 1.5 milligrams pyrroloquinoline quinone (methoxatin) per day, which most humans get based on typical diets. Moreover, it is a reasonable assumption based on what researchers currently know about assessing and addressing the limits for other vitamins and growth factors. For example, consider the following for ascorbic acid (vitamin C):  Although 8 to 15 milligrams might protect against the overt signs of scurvy, the recommended dietary allowance currently stands at 75 to 90 milligram per day (for adults, excluding pregnant and lactating women) for optimal function, and an even higher  dietary reference intake (DRI) is again in review.   Over and above these government recommendations, many supplements contain even more than this amount (depending on the application).

A second problem with making a more precise estimate of need is the fact that PQQ is very reactive and forms complexes easily with proteins and amino acids.  There is evidence, however, that some of these complexes can dissociate back to methoxatin (pyrroloquinoline quinone).  The nature of the products, however, makes it difficult to obtain precise data for nutritional balance determinations. There simply isn’t enough data to make assumptions about the percentage of PQQ complexes that are absorbed in humans.  In mice, some data from studies using isotopically labeled PQQ  suggests absorption is on the order of 40 to 60 percent, but more research is clearly needed.

So why have nutraceutical companies chosen 10 to 20 milligrams of PQQ per day as a dose for humans instead of a lower amount?

First, frankly there is the lack of precise nutritional data to make a general assumption of need.  Although arbitrary, taking 10 mg per day, you can assume an optimal dose is being delivered for normal applications.  Also in several clinical presentations, a 10 milligram dose in young adults lowers plasma triglyceride levels in some individuals, improves indices important to inflammation, and acts as a potent antioxidant.  Further, the equivalent dose in animals has consistently improved various mitochondrial functions.  Although anecdotal at this point, 10 to 20 milligrams per day seems to improve exercise tolerance in humans as well.  Because PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone | methoxatin) has been shown to be safe at this amount (10 to 20 milligrams per day), it is currently the amount you will find in most supplement formulas.

Making Fitness Fun

This week we are going to discuss making fitness fun. Too many of us drag ourselves to the gym to get in a quick workout because of some sort of self-imposed obligation. While the gym is great, why do we drive 20 minutes to sit on a treadmill for 30 minutes?

Fortunately more and more people are finding ways to exercise outside the gym, whether in a local or national park, the beach, a playground, or even their own backyard. For instance, simply jumping rope in your garage for 15 minutes is a great workout. It enhances and tones your legs, improves cardiovascular health, and does wonders for your vertical leap.

Hitting the dance club for a night of dancing (not drinking!) is another great example; it’s good exercise and allows you to enjoy the company of friends while getting a full body workout. If you want to try something to really move your muscles, take a hip hop dancing class.

If you are looking for something more serene, try an outdoor tai chi, yoga, or qi gong class. These ancient movement regimens combine smooth body motion and meditation to help improve overall wellness.

If you don’t want to go far from home and you are a video game junkie, the Wii and Microsoft Kinect are offering some increasingly intriguing options to have some fun while elevating your heart rate. Do you have any good ideas not mentioned here? Please share them by leaving them in the comments section below.

Creativity and Imagination

New research shows that creativity and imagination are two important qualities in human performance and are often overlooked attributes. Today, most employee performance evaluation checklists show metrics that measure one’s analytical skills, job competencies, interpersonal and communicative skills, but creativity and imagination are often not revered and/or evaluated.

Jonah Lehrer discusses in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works that it is creativity and imagination that are seminal in generating ideas that can lead to innovative solutions in the marketplace. For instance, a simple example is project presentations that leverage these two attributes, which (when used) usually have a higher likelihood of winning over skeptics both internally and/or externally to get a particular project started or funded. Imagination and creativity are often what differentiates a mediocre performance from an outstanding one — not just regarding presentations, but many facets of various work.

Along the same lines as above, imagination and creativity also allow people to prepare and plan for future actions by creating creative solutions that can only happen when imagination and creativity are working together. As business processes get more and more complex, it is often our imagination and creativity that saves the day. Using imagery and imagination allows us to prepare, rehearse, and perfect our future actions. This type of planning and practice is a consistent pattern for peak performers in both business and sport. As we get older in age, we unfortunately often get less imaginative. Imagination and creativity are also important aspects of brain plasticity, and maintaining these skills help us sustain our cognitive reserve as we grow older allowing us to operate optimally late into life.

There are simple things we can do to maintain our imagination at any age. One exercise is to draw a peaceful landscape that does not exist in reality. The definition of “peaceful” is unique to each individual, so you have creative license to draw whatever you want as long as the environment is completely imagined (i.e. not drawn from memory). The way we perceive and operate in the world is personal to our respective selves. The world as we know it is defined by our experiences and developing our creativity also allows us to expand our capacity to understand our human experience. In short, these are important but often overlooked skills in both one’s professional life, as well as one’s personal life.

Five Steps in Permission Marketing

This post is about the five steps of permission marketing found in the classic book aptly titled Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin, and includes 10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business. Enjoy!

Five steps in permission marketing:
1. The marketer offers the prospect an incentive to volunteer to opt-in to inbound messaging.
2. Using the attention offered by the consumer, the marketer offers a curriculum (over time) teaching the consumer about their products and/or services.
3. The incentive is reinforced to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission given to the marketer.
4. The marketer offers more incentives to gain even more permission from the prospect as the relationship ages.
5. Over time the marketer leverages the permission to change consumer behavior and turn the new behavior into profits for the company.

10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business:
1. Figure out the lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
2. Invent and build a variety of communication suites that you will use to turn strangers into friends

a. These “suites” should take place over time
b. They should offer the consumer a selfish reason to respond
c. The responses should alter the communication moving forward
d. The communication should have a “call to action” so that you can measure the success of a desired result

3. Change all advertising to contain at least some call to action
4. Measure the results of each suite, throw out the bottom 60% and replace them with new ones
5. Measure how many permissions you achieve through your efforts
6. Protect the permission base that is built, make sure you or someone else ensures that this permission is not abused
7. Work to automate your communication and move towards email (if you haven’t already)
8. Rebuild your website to turn it into a permission building machine
9. Regularly audit your permission base to see how well you are doing and how deep your permission goes
10. Leverage your permission by offering products and services and/or co-marketing with partners