Etsy Jam Episode 23: Feed the Wolf

In this episode, Richie and I talk about being self reliant – especially when it’s easier to fall into the trap of being negative. We talk about not playing the blame game but instead taking matters into your own hands and pushing forward to a solution. And feeding wolves. Just…make sure you feed the right one.

Our topic is about self-reliance, and a culture of helplessness and self-imposed limiting beliefs that smother your happiness.

Self Reliance

Self-reliance is you being accountable and responsible for where you end up in life, or in business. You are what you make of it. You are your own decisions and it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you deal with what happens to you.

The Culture of Helplessness

I was watching Tony Robbins (Salesforce) streaming from Facebook Live the other day. He is somebody that’s all about busting through your limiting beliefs; and understanding that your attitude is 80% of success.

A lot of times, it’s a matter of what happens to us. There are things that happen to us throughout the day and that’s what is holding us back. But it’s not! That’s not what’s holding us back. They are challenges that you have to overcome.

It’s easy to get in that frame of mind. When things are going wrong, it’s easy to fall into this trap of putting the blame on things and then not taking the time to reflect back on it.

Way too many people feel helpless when these things happen – that is why it is called the culture of helplessness. But hopefully our readers don’t feel that way because guess what, life has been full of challenges! Whether or not we’re talking about Google SEO, or Etsy SEO, or any market changes in general. The market and technology is changing constantly – you have no control over that. But, for every 100 people that says “Google changed their algorithm and now there’s no point!” or “Etsy changed their algorithm, they’re just gonna do it again so there’s no point.” For every 100, there’s one person out there that would say “Alright, this is just a challenge. It happened before. Let’s figure this out and see what can I do.”

The lesson, get resourceful.

How your Etsy shop can help people help you?

Don’t feel stuck. Because if you come at a problem as if you’re just completely stuck, it’s going to be really hard for someone to help you. It’s really hard to get someone unstuck when they are coming at you with a mentality of being super stuck. So, continue being resourceful and continue being positive.

To help someone help you effectively, one of the things I personally struggle with when I’m helping people is I need to know to know what you’ve tried. I need to know what directions you’ve already come at a problem with, and what you’ve already tested because I don’t want to suggest doing something that you’ve already tried.

The other thing I really like when I’m helping people, is if I come to someone and they say:

“This is the problem, these are the things I’ve tried, I’ve been working really hard at it and I have 3 more ideas that I can come to them with. I’m thinking one of these is the path to go down next but I’m not really sure. What do you think I should do?”

Now if you present people with that approach, it’s so much easier and more effective.

Whenever people are showing effort, that’s a big part. When somebody comes to you showing that they’ve put in a whole lot of effort, you’re going to be a lot more likely to be more giving with your energy and effort because you’re seeing how much that person really wants this and how much energy they are putting behind that. It’s not like they are just taking the time to type a question and hit send.

If someone doesn’t put in the effort up front to help themselves, chances are when you help them, there’s a good chance they are not going to follow through with your advice because it’s going to seem too hard for them.

A lot of times, it seems like this helplessness culture, when you’re stuck in that rut; you are not looking for help. You’re looking for commiseration. You’re looking for someone else to verify for you that life is unfair – that you have been dealt an unfair hand.

Don’t look for the things that aren’t working

It’s so easy to get negative. It’s so easy to get into a negative space and say to yourself that “I did this and it didn’t work!” Your list of things that didn’t work will always going to be bigger than the list that does. That’s how you learn.

"A master has failed more times than you've ever attempted."

Maybe you have a list of a hundred things that didn’t work, ignore them. What two things have you done that DID work? Focus on those. Find the bright spots. Even just a little bit of success, focus on those. Because you can feel good, and you can make progress forward from there.

Maybe you’ve tried 10 things and none of them worked. That’s fine too but start looking back at those and try to really figure out why it didn’t work. What are the reasons why it might not work and try if you could test those. That’s how you can learn from the failures and keep moving forward.

In Summary

It’s normal to have periods where you feel helpless. Everyone is going to get through these and you’re gonna feel overwhelmed. But it’s not about staying there – it’s about getting out. Whenever you feel stuck – it’s about keeping momentum. I guess that’s really the game, to constantly keep moving forward. There will be times where you’re going to end up slowing down and you’re going to feel like you’re stuck but just keep inching forward and you’ll get back out of it.

Look for the bright spots. Look for the positives and when you ask for help, make sure you give the person trying to help you every opportunity to help you the most effective way possible – which is to show them that you’ve really done your homework and you have come up a bunch of solutions. People will help the person that seems most ready to receive that help.

The Story of Two Wolves

This is a story of an old man talking to his grandson. The grandfather says that there are two wolves inside of us. The one is a good and caring wolf and the other one is a vile, destructive, angry wolf. He said that these two wolves are always fighting, and the fight is going inside each and every person.

The boy paused for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Grandpa, which wolf wins?”

To which the old man replied, “The one you feed.”

Whatever emotions and feelings you acknowledge and lean into are the ones that are going to perpetuate. You are gonna keep seeing those. So if you keep feeding negativity in your life, that’s all you are going to get – because that’s the one you feed.

In this episode, Richie and I talk about being self reliant - especially when it's easier to fall into the trap of being negative. We talk about not playing the blame game but instead taking matters into your own hands and pushing forward to a solution. And feeding wolves. Just...make sure you feed the right one.

Etsy Jam Episode 22: Greed Part 2

In this episode we put some meat behind Richie’s claim that free is a big lie and paid is honest. Why? Because prenatal vitamins from Target, privacy, motivation behind ads, and reasons. Up next is part 2 of our 2 part series on greed.

Free is a Lie. Paid is Honest.

Like any rule, there are some exceptions. But there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Related: The Free Rider Problem

Now I’m not saying be skeptical about everything that’s free; because you can get free sometimes. But, if there is no paid offer in sight; if there’s nothing that shows you why this is being supported or why you are deserving of this free thing, then you might want to be a little skeptical.

For example, there are a lot of people – many of which I follow – that offer free things (whether it’d be coaching programs, blog help, etc…) but they also have paid offers out there that support what they do.

Disclaimer: If you are somebody listening that provides your audience something for free, I’m not villainizing you. I think what you’re doing is good – as long as you’re being honest about it.

The Problem with Free

The real problem I have with free is that there’s a lot of online stuff that we take for granted. Facebook is one of them. It sometimes slips under the radar because everyone’s on it and it is kind of like a big necessary evil. There’s a lot of nice things about Facebook. But, I don’t think people realize how much privacy they give up when they do certain things.

Facebook is free because they sell your information to Ad companies. They sell a lot more information than most people probably realize. People put a lot of very personal stuff on Facebook. All that data gets passed around the Web and it’s kinda scary. I don’t think many people care about that type of stuff – until it matters.

The Problem with Ads

People have mentioned to us why don’t we do Ad-based. Well, we have taken pretty strong stance on Ads. Worst part about ads is when you’re scrolling through stuff and a lot of them are distracting. Some of them are even animated now and those are really annoying because I’m trying to do something and they’re wasting my time. I don’t like things wasting my time because I’m being greedy for my time.

We also did a whole episode on security. You can actually get computer viruses from ads that exploit vulnerabilities. The person serving up the ads wouldn’t have any knowledge of that happening at all – and I would feel terrible if I’m running a website that serves up ads that happens to have malicious content because my Ad provider who is paying me to put ads on my website doesn’t care about the quality or the content of the ads that they’re serving up. It would be terrible if a bunch of people that I care about who are using my site got infected by some malware that does nasty stuff.

Related: Tools to Keep You Safe Online

Privacy

It’s really about Privacy. You don’t realize how much information you might actually be giving up.

Who remembers this story about Target?

Target was marketing prenatal vitamins to a teenager. Her father then got these ads and went to the store and yelled at the manager for doing so.

Father:"How could you possibly be targeting my daughter with prenatal vitamins? This is awful!"

Turns out the daughter was pregnant. Target knew it because of all the different data that they collected.

I have read that same type of thing long before this happened. I have read that based on the data that these stores have, they know it’s you. So when you change your habits a little bit, they can pick up on things through data analysis. They can tell you might be pregnant, for example. They pick up on that stuff and they will market you as such.

That’s the type of thing that you don’t realize that’s happening until it smacks you in the face.

Why Marmalead is Ad-free

If we went Ad-based, and serve up ads within the app where we get paid when you click them or view them – all of a sudden the incentive changes. It changes from making sure you get the most effective and efficient use of your time (even if you come by very briefly) – as long as you’re getting everything you need, that should be the goal. Problem is, if we start serving ads, all of a sudden we have a built-in incentive to waste your time all day.

Have you ever been on articles on the web where they have a slideshow-like format? They present it to you and after a paragraph into it you see something like “click here for page 2” only to realize it’s like 8 pages long?

They do that for ads. They do that because they can put more ads on the page. You’re going to a separate page and that is a whole lot of opportunity to throw more ad impressions out there. They are sacrificing a good pleasant reading experience for their interest of getting you to see more ads and getting you into more opportunities into clicking those ads.

It drives me insane. They are stealing your time. You think it’s free, but think about it again because that time you spent on Facebook – and all it’s engineerings to keep you engaged and the next thing you know, half of your day is gone. What ends up happening is that you still have stuff to do. So what you end up doing is you end up missing dinner with your family, you end up missing the little league games, you end up with that kind of stuff. It’s not free, they stole the amount of money that keeps you away from doing those things you actually love.

The takeaway is people need to be more cognizant of their time. Be more aware of where their time is going and what is in it for the person who has you spending this time.

So why is Etsy Jam free?

Etsy Jam is supported by Marmalead. That is how we’re able to do this. The podcast actually costs money and it takes our time. What pays for that? Subscriptions to Marmalead.

It’s very transparent. It’s very clear. The offer is simply paying subscription to Marmalead because IT makes it possible.

The takeaway in everything that's free is transparency, privacy and knowing the cost. There's always cost to everything, so know the real cost.

The Original Intent of Etsy Jam

I talked to people who feel the same way as I do about this too. But I would love to listen to audiobooks while I work. The problem is, I can’t focus on both things. I’m either ignoring my audiobook or I’m ignoring my work. I can’t do both but I still wanna listen to something while I work. Sometimes it’s not music you want to listen to but more of a feeling that someone else is around. This is especially true when you work at home.

The original intent of Etsy Jam is that what if we create a podcast that people just put on and don’t have to necessary worry about missing out on anything? You might zone out for 10 minutes straight but you don’t have to worry about missing anything important. Sometimes maybe what you need is a companion, or some background noise while you carry on with your work.

Coffitivity

Along those same lines, if you are looking for something to listen to that isn’t us, we want you to meet Coffitivity. Coffitivity is a sweet online tool that you’d use if you want some background noise. It’s a website you can go to and they have these different environments that you can pick from; like a coffee shop, a restaurant, a college campus etc… and it’s just background noise. It just loops and you can listen to it at whatever volume you want or what I like to do is mix it with Pandora so it feels more like I am in a coffee shop.

In this episode we put some meat behind Richie's claim that free is a big lie and paid is honest. Why? Because prenatal vitamins from Target, privacy, motivation behind ads, and reasons. Up next is part 2 of our 2 part series on greed.

Work Life Balance – Fact or Fiction?

As I’m writing this, it’s nearly October and many are planning for the holidays if they haven’t already. I’m not talking about planning their holiday time off, at least not in the e-commerce world we work in. I’m talking about planning for the hardest working time of the year. A time when a shop can easily make the bulk of their sales for the whole year…

This has me thinking about Work/Life Balance and whether it’s fact or fiction. I see a lot of articles on the topic. It’s a popular thing to discuss with two very different opinions. There’s the “you must set boundaries” camp and the “my work is my life camp”. I fall in the latter.

One of the arguments for boundaries and mandatory “turn it off” times, is due to stress and health. That’s important and I get it. I wonder myself if I should approach balance differently (read try to balance at all). I don’t balance. My work/life is intertwined like a DNA sketch. Mainly I don’t have a problem with it because I enjoy what I do.

Yes, it’s still stressful and exhausting. So are sports and other hobbies we consider “life”. Work probably stresses me out less than the diehard football fan whose team loses that week. Trying to turn it off causing me more stress though. I like to say you can’t schedule passion.

There are a lot of times where I get all fired up about something, and then put it on a list for later. When I see it a few days later, the moment has past. My passion has left. That saddens me. I’m spontaneous (read I have trouble focusing on things that aren’t exciting).

My goal here isn’t to reiterate the variety of articles you’ve surely seen on the topic. Instead my goal is to share some things that work for me in keeping sanity when stress starts building. So whether or not you’re in the same camp, hopefully these will help you just the same. Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor. You’re responsible for anything you do or don’t do. 

  1. 4-7-8 Breath – For the skimmers and stressed out, I’ll put this first. I came across this exercise from Tony Robbins and then Dr Andrew Weil so it must be good. 4-7-8 are counts. You can read them as seconds, but more importantly it’s their relation to one another.
    1. Inhale through your nose to count of 4. Breathe from the stomach, not the chest.
    2. Hold for count of 7.
    3. Exhale for count of 8. Empty your lungs. Suck in your stomach and squeeze all the air you can out of your lungs.
    4. Repeat the sequence 3 times.
  2. Meditation – I was hesitant to believe I’d enjoy meditation until I reached a tipping point with others I follow who swear by it. Strangely it’s widely accepted that keeping your body healthy is important yet the mind gets ignored. 10 minutes goes a long way. Unfortunately, the more I need it, the more likely I am to avoid it 🙁
  3. Exercise – If I can regularly get to the gym, it’s amazing how much more clarity I get.
  4. Get outside – “But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir. I very much enjoy being outside. It’s easy to get cooped up in the office and forget how important it is to get outside. I always feel better after some time outdoors.
  5. Do things for you. Like this post. I wrote this because I wanted to. I know it will help someone and if it helps just one person I’ll be happy. Read that again, “I’ll be happy”. It’s nice when you can do something for yourself and others at the same time.

I hope you enjoyed my tips. In the comments below share any tips you have and/or what camp you’re in!

Etsy Jam Episode 21: Greed Part 1

In this episode, Richie and I talk about greed. Good versus bad greed – and YES – we are claiming there is a good kind of greed out there. It involves wanting only the best for other people, giving advice, crazy expensive gym memberships, and little kids who try to ride the Polar Express without a ticket. Stick around for another crazy journey in part 1 of a 2 part series on greed.

We want to redefine the word ‘Greed’ and talk about how greed doesn’t have to be something that’s negative.

The Good Greed

Would it be greedy to want only the best for people? Can you be greedy for doing good?

Well, if it’s the best for other people, it doesn’t sound so greedy, no?

One of the examples is giving advice. Have you ever had anybody ask you for some advice? Maybe you have a friend or a family member who’s asking you for advice on web design. Maybe they want you to build them a website or something like that. Have you ever had anybody spend a whole bunch of your time with nothing in it for you and you only just wanted to help? At first you thought they’re gonna love it and then after all the hard work… crickets.

It happens. It happened to me, and to some people I talk to and it’s unfortunate. Really what happens is I get all excited about whatever I’m helping them with and then after that, they do nothing. I really want them to follow through with it so they can feel good about what they did. The problem is, when people ask you for something free and they get something for free, that’s the value they place on it.

Gym Memberships

This is a famous thing about gym memberships. Have anyone ever been in a gym in January and February? Ever notice how that’s also when they have a bunch of gym specials? They get a bunch of people at the door for cheap and they make it a really low cost, really low barrier to entry. The problem is, people aren’t putting anything on the line. Their aversion to loss makes it so that it doesn’t matter if they go to the gym.

When I sell you a $15 gym membership, I don’t care as long as you pay, right? Typically that’s how gyms work – they don’t want everyone to show up. If everyone shows up, they have to get more equipment. That’s the problem with a physical space like that.

But if I really care about you, I want you to show up. I want you to gain something when you come over and I want you to lose something when you don’t. I think your gym should charge you an amount that’s painful for you to lose because once you start getting into real money – that’s when you start talking about real loss.

I think if gyms want to keep people there, and they are greedy for the people and really want what’s best for people; they would incentivize showing up more. Maybe in a gym’s case, the membership would cost you $50 per month. But, if you don’t show up X amount of times (you get to set this yourself), they’re going to charge you with a fee.

Free vs. Paid

Let me give you another example. I collect a lot of crap. I don’t know how many times I had given my email so I can have like, an eBook that I want to have because it addresses the exact problem I’m having right now. But it’s free – so what do I do with it? I put it in my folder and say to myself that I’ll come back to it tomorrow. Then the next thing you know, I have this huge folder that I can’t even bear to look at because there’s so much free crap in there that I haven’t done. Now, is there good stuff in there? Yes! There actually is a lot to learn and a lot of good lessons in there. But I ignore them because they are free.

Looking at my bookshelf though; when I pay for a book, I read it. Because I am not going to buy a book and then NOT read it because that seems like a loss. I don’t want to lose. Reading the free book is just a win. People are more averse to loss than winning.

We have been conditioned very early on that ‘FREE’ means worthless. Zero cost equals zero value. Also, there’s nothing to lose, so why do it? It’s just unfortunate that it works that way.

Greedy with your Time

Most of us have different things going on around us especially if you’re working at home.

If you work at home; obviously you can’t say you’re at the office, and turn off your phone, and pretend like you’re in a meeting. There’s a lot of distractions and there will be distractions around the house. I think being greedy with your time is important. It’s important not just because it’s good for you but if you don’t take care of yourself, and you don’t take care of your own time management – you are no good to other people. If you’re a complete disaster, who are you gonna help? So you gotta take care of yourself first, too.

Also, the more people you are trying to serve, the more demands there are on your time. Which means that in some way, you have to filter out who gets your attention when.

Related: Leaving Your Day Job for Entrepreneurship

The Free Rider Problem

In economics, the free rider problem is basically when you have people that are not contributing – but are using up the goods. If you look it up, it probably has a definition that says it is only valid when there is a finite resource that can be taken. You might ask, “What does that have to do with software and computers and stuff – I mean, those are infinite, right?” Well, they are not infinite (although they do scale really well).

The limited resource is time. Serving people the absolute best and being greedy with your time is the finite resource. As Etsy shop owners, you need to be really aware of this too.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read comments from Etsy sellers that are going back and forth with buyers haggling them in price and asking for discounts. In the end, the story is not usually a happy one. It goes one of two ways:

A. They spend a whole bunch of time, and the person never actually even ends up buying. They end up just going somewhere else. They go somewhere else even though they just took up a bunch of time. A bunch of your finite resource.

B. The other one is these sellers make all this effort for the buyer, spends all his/her time and give the discount. Then the person gets it and says “This is not what I expected. I want to send it back.” then they leave a bad review while they’re at it too. Ouch!

So what do you do to fix the Free Rider problem?

In the case of an Etsy shop, I think what shops need to do is identify the free riders. Identify people that message you for discounts, that message you if your prices are flexible, that tell you your listings are expensive, etc. because it is very likely that those type of people are not value based.

Your best use of time is not to deal with those individuals. It’s not good for you and it’s not good for the customers that are in line. Right behind those messages that you’re busy answering are serious buyers. While you’re dealing with people that aren’t going to buy, you got a buyer right there just waiting to be helped.

When someone asks you if your prices are flexible, I would recommend saving a response that you can simply copy and paste. It would save you some brain cycles and also a wiser use of your time. You can say something like:

“Thank you so much, I really appreciate you checking out my shop and my listings. As you can see, my listings are handmade and one of a kind. Our prices are set the way they are.”

Send something like that, be done with it and go help the people that are really part of your tribe.

Related: Etsy Jam Episode 8: Pricing

In this episode, Richie and I talk about greed. Good versus bad greed - and YES - we are claiming there is a good kind of greed out there. It involves wanting only the best for other people, giving advice, crazy expensive gym memberships, and little kids who try to ride the Polar Express without a ticket. Stick around for another crazy journey in part 1 of a 2 part series on greed.