Archive | December 2005

Updating…

As you can tell, I’m in the process of updating the design/layout of danputt.com.  Since I really don’t have any experience in programming, it’s definitely been a frustrating and educational endeavor.  I’m interested to see how this whole thing will turn out, bear with me.

Reflections of my mom (cont)

It’s amazing to see how many people were touched by my mom, in so many different ways. I’ll always know her as mom, but it is really neat to read about her as Laurie. Another reflection from her dear friend Thea:

Daniel, thank you so much for letting us know about Laurie’s transition into Pure Positive Loving Energy. It helped so much to know what that transition was like. It was comforting to see her in my mind, surrounded by all of you, loving and supporting her, and birthing her into her next dimension. A wise teacher said that the day of our leaving is determined. We get to choose how we will experience the time we have been given. And Laurie made some awesome choices about how to spend her time.She focused on the beauty of the world, on how much love she had for her family and friends, and always looked for opportunities to support others.

Daniel, I want to share a memory that has to do with you. (Mimi, bet you remember this too). We were taking a cranial class from the great and wonderful Charles Ridley. It was an awesome class and Laurie had to leave early on Sat. to pick you up at the airport. You were returning from Europe as I recall, and she hadn’t seen you for quite awhile. She was so excited to see you again and told us that she might not come back for class on Sunday but if you were planning to sleep from your journey that she would return. She was in class Sunday morning and we began our class with a meditation and after that meditation, Laurie began to tell us of her experience of watching you walk from the plane and how full of love and appreciation but mostly “wonder and awe”. “He stepped back into my life, like a Greek God, radiating with life, gorgeous, wondrous, and I am his mother.” I may not have gotten the words exactly right Daniel, but close, because the words are burned in my brain. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The love and gratitude. . . the wonder, the awe, was palpable in that room. She set the tone in the room that day and it played out to be magical for all of us.

Laurie and I began our relationship in 98 or 99. We began doing private breath sessions and then she joined the Breath Group and then assisted in the next breath group. I can still see her in her role as assistant. While others were slipping into a deep meditative state and experiencing the peaceful place within, Laurie would watch their faces like a mother watching a sleeping child and I would see tears fill her eyes. “Aren’t they beautiful, Thea?” is what she would say to me.

I went to Laurie for massage. Our love and respect was so great for each other that on her table I felt like a child being taken care of by her mother. One day I was so filled with that child like wonder and joy, I began to walk out of the door without my shoes. “You forgot your shoes, Thea”, she said and we just laughed and laughed. After she gave up her practice, she would come to me for cranial work. We created a magical world where we talked about this miraculous world, sea turtles, flying geese, the synchronistic happenings that convinced us we lived in a magical world. Sometimes we would both be aware of another presence in the room, and I would get up and put a song on the stereo and she laugh and say, “how did you know that was my mother’s favorite song?” Her parents would come to her and bring her much comfort. But mostly we both would drop into that dimension where there is only one, we called it magic, and she told me our time together was a life line for her.

I didn’t see your mom these past few months because she told me she felt like she needed to focus on some healing herbs and be more proactive on a physical level, but she would be back in touch as soon as she got all that organized. Time got away from me and I didn’t realize I hadn’t seen her since fall. During her illness she had been very private with her time and energy and I wanted to respect that. So the last time i saw her was right after your reception Andrea. She brought the board she had made with the pictures of the wedding in Maine. As she was leaving, Steve Haber was coming in for his first appointment. He’d been waiting for about 15 minutes, was a bit nervous about being here, and out comes Laurie with this big story board and shares the whole experience with Steve and my husband Bob. You should have seen the light in this woman’s eyes as she told us the story of the wedding, as she described her daughter on her wedding day, and how the whole family had come together including her exhusband Dick and she told us, she had never know such a feeling of peace, joy, love, gratitude, that the whole summer had been pure MAGIC!!!!! She was so grateful to you kids, you were her teachers. She would say, “they aren’t afraid to get out there and really live” and I would remind her that she had created a safe, loving world for them to grow up in and without fear, there would be lots of love. That your worlds would be ones of magic.

We promised each other that we would continue to work with each other no matter what dimension we were on. Our definition of “work” is to create magic in each other. This morning I awoke in a place I have never been in before. It is a place I have known about with my mind and a place that I have been close to, but this dimension was new. I will try to describe it with words, but please be patient, because the words seem quite pitiful compared to the experience. Imagine the “aha” you might have and the feelings that would come from that aha if you were a child and you suddenly realized that all the “characters” around you were your sweet loving parent dressed up in costume just to delight you. Wouldn’t you just laugh at the sweetness, and laugh at yourself for being scared, and feel relief and safe and excited? The Divine is everything and everyone and it is all good. Your mom and I were so connected and I believe she is experiencing that now and she is bringing that “knowing” to me. We would remind each other not to focus on the inconsequential and miss the profound. She is sending back to me the feeling of the profound.

Daniel, Andrea, and Tom, please know that Laurie had a “family” of friends who delighted in watching her dance, loved to hear her talk about her kids, tell Tom stories of their walks and magical messages from the Universe. We are so very blessed to have her in our lives. I know my relationship with her will continue. She and I didn’t need words to communicate.

I hope it helps to know that we are all thinking of you and holding you in our hearts.

Sending you much love. THEA BLAUVELT

More reflections of my mom (Laurie)

This is reflection passed on to me by my mom’s good friend Ren. They went to massage school together, and competed for the best test score (the two of them probably never received a score below 97% on any test or assignment). His reflection really captures my mom’s childlike zest for life.

“I met Laurie at massage school in 1999. Coming into it, we shared some things in common: Catholic upbringing, Life Success, Thea’s breathwork but in some ways we were very different. My idea of a good use of a vacation was traveling to El Salvador during its civil war to see what our government was really doing there. Laurie preferred time on a Florida beach (and she passionately described that experience of being there so you could feel the breeze, the warmth, the sense of freedom, and companionship).

Because we lived near one another we car pooled over that year and a half and shared the challenges and discoveries of massage. We became good friends and supporters for one another and came to share other experiences in related workshops and in breathwork. I particularly remember one workshop during which she started this crazy and beautiful full-body unwinding process when I was working with her. At the end of the workshop, the facilitators had us go around to thank one another. Laurie was just glowing. Her eyes were wide, she was so beautiful. I was amazed at the power, love, and beauty she contained: all of it radiantly displayed on her face.

It was through her friendship with Gary Vollbracht that we both came to join Stillpoint. I’m sure that without her encouragement I would not still be practicing massage. In many ways, Laurie has been a guide for me.

Laurie was vibrantly curious about life and living things and all that supports them: the magic and wonder of existence. I cannot help but think of Laurie every time I look up at the stars. She had a beautiful, clean energy of engagement in the people (especially her children and Tom) and creatures of life. I felt that Laurie, as are we all, was wounded by life: the early deaths in her family, the break up of her marriage, and perhaps things she brought from a prior life. I guess that this wounded ness heightened her compassionate nurturing for others and her passion to find the magic in life.

Somehow God put us together in massage school and at work thereafter certainly for some reason. Hopefully, I’ve become more aware of the magic and awe in life all around me. Somehow too, I think there is a lesson to be learned, or perhaps better a mystery to be lived, about reconciling the beauty in this world with its pain and suffering.

If there is a reason why things happen, then one of the most striking coincidences occurred about four months after she told me that she was diagnosed with cancer. It took place at the Rave cinema, a place I’d never been before nor since. My wife, Elisa, and daughter, Carmen, and I were there to see Finding Neverland, the Johhny Depp, Kate Winslet movie about the inspiration behind playwright James Barrie’s creation of Peter Pan (certainly this would be a whimsical show, right?) Well, after purchasing our tickets I stopped at the bathroom while Elisa and Carmen chose seats in the theater. When I entered the theater looking for my family, the first people I saw were Laurie and Tom. Then I noticed Elisa and Carmen sitting in the same row. When I greeted Laurie and Tom, Elisa realized for the first time that it was them – they had not recognized each other when Elisa picked the seat. So the seat I came to sit in to watch this movie, was chosen in a purely random way, to sit right next to Laurie!

But the coincidence goes beyond this. As I’m sitting next to Laurie the movie unfolds to reveal that the main female character, Sylvia, is dealing with a serious disease. She says:

“My understanding is that my condition might be quite serious. However, my wish is that life should go on as normal. So, I’ll have the examination and I’ll take whatever medications they advise. But I don’t want to know what they’re for. And I don’t want you to inquirer into it any further.”

This sounded much like what Laurie had previously told us about her preference in managing her disease. The last scene is at her funeral. Though the disease is not named in the movie the historical Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, died of cancer. Whoa! At the time I wondered what this meant. The only processing I did with Laurie about this was immediately afterwards to say that I didn’t expect it to be a sad movie. I don’t remember Laurie’s response but I don’t remember her looking sad.

Nearly a year later another coincidence arose. The week before Laurie’s death, at a regular meeting of Stillpoint Center members we were acknowledging Laurie’s withdrawal from membership there. Gary mentioned how he had just rented the movie Finding Neverland and how amazingly similar it was to Laurie’s approach to handling her disease.

So, Monday, after hearing of Laurie’s transition, I rented the movie, thinking there’s got to be a message in there for me: there were too many coincidences. It felt like the universe was hitting me across the forehead with a 2 by 4 shouting: pay attention. According to the movie, Neverland is a place where the child version of us never grows up, never grows old. Where we always live in childlike wonder. The movie does not answer the following question: does imagination create a Neverland that we can escape to or does a lack of belief keep us out of Neverland? Jesus would seem to answer the question as follows: “the kingdom of God is in your midst;” and “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

There are many messages in the movie: about love, relationships, loss, and wonderment. I think the overall message of Peter Pan is to maintain childlike wonder: worrying about time and its consequences catching up with us is counterproductive. Laurie was all about that. She passionately enjoyed living in that childlike state of wonder. I think she resented parts of her self (e.g.: old mental programming) that interfered with maintaining that state and she worked to rid herself of them. So, what’s coming to me from the experience of this movie, from my time with Laurie, is to cultivate that state of childlike wonder: to do this in my work, in relationships, even when engaging with issues of oppression and justice to which I’ve been led. To appreciate the brightness and beauty of every sparkling moment and the mystery and magic of the universe behind it.

Here are some lines from the movie (which also depicts part of the play, Peter Pan) that stood out to me this week:

Wendy: “You know fairies, Peter?”

Peter Pan: “Yes, but they’re nearly all dead now. You see Wendy when the first baby laughed the first time the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about and that was the beginning of fairies. And now, when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl.”

“Ought to be? Isn’t there?”

“Oh, no. Children know such a lot now. Soon, they don’t believe in fairies. And every time a child says, “I don’t believe in fairies” there’s a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”

An elderly theater goer who recently lost her husband: “I suppose its all the work of the ticking crocodile isn’t it. Time is chasing after all of us.”

“Just believe!”

“I can fly!”

Peter Davies: “I thought she’d always be here.”

James Barrie: “So did I, but, in fact, she is because she’s on every page of your imagination. You’ll always have her there. Always.”

Peter Davies: “But why did she have to die?”

James Barrie: “I don’t know, boy. When I think of your mother I will always remember she went to Neverland.”

Peter Pan: “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

Peter Pan: “Second (star) on the right and straight on till morning.””

The most wonderful person in the world.

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My mom, the most wonderful, loving, caring, passionate, curious, life-loving, person I’ve ever known moved on this morning at 916 am. She was 52. She was surrounded by the ones she loved most, and went peacefully while being held, loved, praised, and thanked. She will be remembered always as the woman who loved to learn, loved to teach, loved to read, loved being a mother, her kids, gold finches, the spring, walks in the park, the ocean, the beach, turtles, gardening, the trees, Christmas, chocolate, ice cream, Thanksgiving, bragging about her kids, her car, astrology, the moon, the stars, the weather, and the love of her life, Tom. Without a doubt, she is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She stared down an overwhelmingly powerful disease that refused to let go, and with an unbelievable amount of strength she held it back and squeezed out all the time she could. She was determined to see her daughter marry in Maine. She was determined to enjoy her daughter’s wedding reception in Cincinnati. She was determined to see my graduation. She did all of those things and more. She always, despite her pain and sufferings, had to put others first, up to the very end.

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My mom’s impact on this world by no means ended this morning. Those who knew her will continually be guided by the love and lessons she provided. And the many who were so deeply affected, will undoubtedly share the love and curiosity for life my mom so passionately shared.

I could never write something that would even come close in putting into words just how incredibly my mom was. I owe everything of who I am, who I want to be, and what I’ll do in this life time to my mother. I truly believe that the deep love I feel for my mom could only be the result of a very long, ancient, loving relationship going back hundreds of years. She really believed in reincarnation, and she always said “we’ve been together before, and we’ll be together again.” She herself faced many deaths of loved ones in her life, but she always maintained a positive attitude. She always said, “death is as natural and beautiful as birth.”

She’s moved beyond the body that failed her, but her powerful spirit continues on. I appreciate all the love and respect you all have shared with my wonderful mother throughout her short time here. I can assure you that she valued, enjoyed, and learned from every relationship she ever had. And even if she just knew you for a moment, she cared for you. That was my mother.

Mom, you are the most important person in my life. I love you with all my heart.

The first of several celebrations of my mom’s life is planned Thursday December 22, 2005 (perfect for my mother as it is the first day when the days begin to get longer after the winter soltice) at the Life Success Conference center starting at 7pm, but we welcome everyone at 6:30pm. A map and directions can be found at this link:
http://tinyurl.com/d5236

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you send a donation to the Nature Conservancy, an organization my mom truly loved and believed in. You can make donation in her name, Laurie Putt, by calling (800) 628-6860 or sending your donation to:

The Nature Conservancy
4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100
Arlington, VA 22203-1606

Please feel free to post a favorite memory of my mom below, or by sending me an email:
danputt1ATgmail.com
Thank you again for all you did for my mother,
Dan

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$731

Best day yet in my affiliate marketing project.  Yesterday I generated $1,186 in COMMISSIONS on sales (sales I created for the company I have an affiliate relationship with) of $49,679!!!.  My net for the day was $731, which is an annual income of $266,000 (of course it will take a serious amount of effort to maintain this level after Christmas spending sprees die off).  Not bad for something I just wanted to play around with.  I really have a lot of fun playing with this, and I’ve basically gotten a fairly in depth education in ppc marketing on someone else’s dollar.  So now when I’m ready to market for my own businesses in the future, I will have all the tools I need.  But I can see that it really is possible to make an incredible living on the internet without buying any goods to sell, paying any programmers, or even owning a website! 

I also expanded my little operation by opening a new credit card that has no interests/no fees for 12 months.  I’m currently putting my advertising charges on to this card so that I don’t have to worry about carrying an interest bearing balance on cards while I wait for my commission checks to come in the mail (supposedly no later than 30 days from the end of the calendar month).  My biggest complaint is that google only extends “credit” of $500 on beginner advertising accounts.  Basically they will not let my advertising amount payable go above $500, regardless of time period.  So if I spend $500 in a day on advertising (which I’ve done twice), they charge my credit card at the end of the day.  This is incredibly annoying.  In the perfect world, I would accrue advertising expenses over a 30 day period, and then the balance would be billed to my credit card at the end of those 30 days.  Therefore I would have an additional 30 days to be billed for that amount on my credit card, and potentially another 30 days to pay it off.  The potential 90 day float would make paying off bills (even on interest bearing cards) a snap.  But google denied my request for more credit (too new of an account apparently).  Despite that annoying little feature, this business model is incredibly easy to manage financially.  At this point the only issue I may run into is not having enough credit.

By the way, my current ROI is around 67%, thus I’m earning roughly .67 for every $1 I put in.  Not too shabby.

Niche, Niche, Niche

I’ve been struggling lately in developing the next product offering from Call True.  I know, I know, you say why not focus on what you have now?  I can’t.  I’m not happy with it, and I absolutely need a new product with a more defined purpose.  I know that we will probably redefine our niche a 100 times over the next few years, but our current strategy of just going after anyone with a website doesn’t feel productive.  How can we possibly build a comprehensive product for everyone? My good friend and business partner yesterday told me “we do have a niche, we’re going to become the 1 provider of click to call in the world.”  Sounds good right?  I don’t think so, let’s do a scenario to clarify:

Let’s say you want to create some jeans that will work for everyone.  So you create a pair  of elastic waistband jeans that fits everyone in the country (from little kids to Big, Big guys).  Sure your market potential is enormous, but the reality is you’re not going to really appeal to anyone.  For the little guys those jeans will be huge, awkward and uncomfortable.  They will only buy those jeans if your price is low enough.  For the big guys they’re really going to have to stretch those jeans out to fit right, which will make them tight, awkward, and uncomfortable.  They also will only buy if the price is low enough.  But you say the big and tall guys are paying $100 for a pair of jeans, why wouldn’t they pay $75 for ours?  Well the $100 jeans is the #1 pair for the big and tall market, and as a defined expert in that space they can command a better price.  It doesn’t matter if mine are cheaper, they aren’t built exclusively for big and tall.

In the world of Internet commerce building a niche is even more important in determining success.  Look at google, yes they are huge but they are still very much a niche play.  Their goal simply is to develop and maintain the best search engine in the world.  Everything else they do is a direct result of their claim, and delivery of the best search results on the Internet. 
My favorite example of defining a niche is one I heard in a recent episode of the fantastic podcast, Venture Voice (it’s nothing but weekly 30 minute interviews with entrepreneurs) with the founder of Fog Creek Software.  Fog Creek was started by a former Microsoft employee, his blog, and when he first started the company he set out to be a software consulting company.  His goal was to advise companies on software issues, and build customized software for companies.  The problem is there are tons of companies out there doing that, including one called IBM.  Joel’s company had a few clients, made a little bit of money but never really got anywhere.  Until they really get hit hard by the dotcom bust, and were forced to fire all their employees after losing all their clients.  He went back to the drawing board, and focused on building good software.  He realized that as a programmer he really had difficulty sniffing out the bugs within his code.  So he built a little program to do just that.  And as the consulting jobs starting coming back in again, he sort of put the debugging program he had written up for sale for others to enjoy.  And the orders started coming in, slowly but surely.  He was shocked.  He thought to himself, “can there be enough programmers in the world to make this worthwhile?”  Ultimately he chose to drop everything, and become the number 1 provider of debugging software in the world.  Sure there are a lot of ocmpanies with debugging software (microsoft included), but joel’s is the most popular.  He is after all the only company that really focuses on debugging software all year long, thus he has a better product he can charge more for, and he has incredible customer loyalty.  Did it work?  On the morning of that podcast he had sold nearly $10,000 worth of software already!  He readily admits, if he hadn’t found his niche he’d be nowhere. 

Niche first, expand later.  Conquering your industry is a step by step process.  Do one thing, really, really, really well now.  You’ll be rewarded.  For me becoming the “number 1 provider of click to call solutions” starts with one niche, in one industry, with a set customer in mind. 

I think I’ve found our niche.  I’ll keep you posted.

Intention Update:
intention for $1 million dollars this year: current income since intention – $5,800
intention for mom’s good health: she’s up walking, cooking etc so there is a definite improvement
intention for call true to reach $5 million in 12 months: we’re finding our niche and making connections in that niche as well as connecting with potential programmers.

Advertising as a pure market

After reading Fred Wilson’s post on “When is a market really a market?” I really started thinking about the future of advertising as more of a futures market. I completely agree with him in the sense that the current setup, although moving in the right direction, is still definitely lacking in the liquidity and transparency needed for a true “market.” It is really impossible to know how much someone like Microsoft is paying on each ad within their massive XBOX 360 campaign, nor is it impossible for anyone other than publishers to “invest,” (by invest, I mean placing ads pay per performance ads within their website) in this campaign. But after running my recent adwords arbitrage, I am starting to see how online advertising along with affiliate programs is moving us closer towards a true advertising market, or really a market where leads can be bought or sold. I believe that the future of advertising is really this, which is very similar to existing affiliates market:

Walmart wants buyers. So they list on a “leads exchange” that they are looking for buyers of say Product A, and they are willing to pay $10 per sale to anyone who gives them a lead for that sale, up until 1 million of product A’s being sold. They don’t care where the leads come from, or how so and so gets the leads to them, just that they’ll pay $10 for each sale. Anyone and everyone can see this, it’s completely transparent. So Company A knows that they have a lot of people coming into their shop/restaurant/website who would love Product A, but they don’t sell any products similar to it. So they make it known to their visitors/patrons/etc that Walmart is selling product A, and this is what it does, etc, head out and get it. Their cost to promote product A is only $3 per sale in opportunity cost(space, time, etc) or actual cost so they net $7 per lead and everyone is happy. It’s amazing because Walmart doesn’t have to worry about spending money on advertising, preparing the best marketing message, or figuring out how to target their target market. All of the risk is handed off to lead generators, who believe they know more about Product A’s customers, or have access to more of them than Walmart does and therefore can reach them in a more cost effective way. It also gives walmart a sense of the potential success of Product A by providing them a real time glimpse into the marketplace’s willingness to actively promote the product or not. And Walmart knows exactly their cost per goods sold ahead of them actually being sold! There would have to be active players in this market as well providing the liquidity and keeping the active transfer of commissions and lead generators open. I can’t really seem to wrap my head around where the money is made in the middle, and I know there are some holes in this. UPDATE: I’ve been thinking that the value in the middle could be created by middle advertisers. For example I run a website that talks all about Product A. So in addition to making the $10 per sale in my own promotions, I also am willing pay others for just qualified visitors. And I know that most people could get a say 5% conversion of traffic to buyers promoting product A, but I could get 15% conversion from customers. Therefore I’d be willing to pay people a certain amount just to drive traffic to my site/store/whatever because I know more people will buy from me, and they’re willing to send them my way because of the guaranteed return. But the key here is that “affiliate” programs can and will be moved off the net and into the real world. Companies will be able to effectively monetize friendly discussions (you should check out this), just as amazon has monetized book recommendations (blogs and affiliate links). I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and will continue to do so.

Bottom line, big things are happening and I’m excited to see where they go.