Beauty Fuel

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It’s a good line isn’t it? Beauty fuel. It could be in a rap song or something…

Your beauty fuel is your toolbox for dealing with negative and destructive thinking. Because as we all know:

The world is cruel sometimes. And that’s life.

So your beauty fuel is the way you turn it around to appreciate the good things in life and really feel that:

The world is beautiful.

I don’t need to remind you do I? Because ideally you should have your own set of tools to make you feel that way. Whether it’s memories, a scrapbook, a song, your son’s innocent smile or something else – I can promise you it’s there. It might be very deep within you though and that’s why we need to bring it as close to the surface as possible.

What makes you feel better? Think! Write it down, create a scrapbook, compile an iTunes playlist, whatever it is that takes you to that better place. If you identify the tools you need and make them as accessible as possible, I’m sure those darker moments will be both shorter and less frequent.

Remember: the world is as beautiful as you make it.

You don’t need to please everyone

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Still we do it. I do it, I bet you do it, I bet your mother does it – we’re so afraid of being disappointments and failures we go out of our way to please the people around us. This sometimes include people who don’t deserve this AT ALL. This could involve your boss, your partner, your kid, your friends. If you feel your relationship with that person is 80-20%, where you put in 80% effort and the other puts in a fourth of that, then something needs to change.

First you need to make sure this is actually the case. Have you felt this for a long time or are you being unjust? Be truthful to yourself. My feeling is that if you’re considering it, chances are it’s exactly like that and then you need to:

1. Talk to the person and explain how you feel. Don’t scream, don’t cry, talk in as reasonable and soft a voice as possible without exaggerating. You don’t want to sound like you’re talking to a kid, unless it’s actually a kid, but the soft silent approach usually makes the person listen better.

2. If this is a friend and the behaviour doesn’t change, you probably need to change the relationship around completely – this might actually involve stopping to see the person altogether.

Does it sound drastic? It’s not. We’re talking about life here, your life. You don’t have time for abusive forces in it, because you want to feel good and give love and energy where it’s actually appreciated.

Trying to please someone who doesn’t respect you enough to please you back is just going to lead you to not respecting yourself and that’s the worst thing that can happen. A person that doesn’t respect her or himself will become a doormat of the world.

You don’t want to be a doormat, believe me. You’re better than that.

Life is short so why not make it great

I’m in a period of reading a lot. Well, I always read a lot, but currently I’m both reading fiction and “self-help” books. Why I put quotation mark around self-help? It’s because I think that term has kind of a negative weight to it, because there’s too much self-help crap out there. What I’m reading is more personal stories with some advice thrown into them.

Two weeks ago I finished James Altucher‘s very interesting “I Was Blind But Now I See” and now I’m reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I’ve also purchased The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson after a heavy recommendation from @kreelanwarrior’s blog. So I’m up to do some more reading!

Or actually listening, because I decided to go for the audio book version of both The 4-Hour Workweek and The Slight Edge.

Starting with The 4-Hour Workweek it really takes all the notions of being an office man and dissolves them. Life is about being challenged, entertained, it’s about positive stress not negative stress and Tim Ferriss is very convincing in selling that notion. He has a record to prove it too.

The 4-Hour Workweek is also about sales/entrepreneurship and making enough money and time(!) to be able to do the things you really like. Learn a language, try skydiving, take a pilot certificate or whatever your heart desires and what I like about the book is that the focus is more on time than the actual sum you earn.

Because it’s all about time isn’t it? Time is money and money is time. But it takes so much time and effort to make money that we have no time to actually use it for something! This is exactly what Ferriss is getting at in The 4-Hour Workweek.

Coincidentally (or not) this is also what James Altucher gets at in “I Was Blind But Now I See” or at least in a slightly different angle. Althucher focuses on eliminating negative energy in your life, meaning stress, crappy people who upset you and troublesome thoughts in worries. The great thing with Altucher’s book is his honesty as he’s using plenty of his own failures and mishaps as examples in illustrating how not to do things and also to explain how he came to the conclusions in the book.

Altucher is also a skilled and humorous writer which makes “I Was Blind But Now I See” a fast, entertaining and illuminating read.

I’ve really understood that reading these kind of books really inspire you in to better yourself, remove negative energy from your life, and figure out what you REALLY want to do. Even if you have heard the concepts or ideas before or they sometimes sound self-explanatory it’s just great to be able to hear it from someone else and to be reminded of what life is and how life can be.

In the end it all boils down to:

Life is short, so why not make it great?

What Happiness Is (Or Isn’t)

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It’s different for everyone I guess, but for most it would equal freedom, health, have people to love and be loved back, have a job and possibly a hobby you like, and to feel purposeful.

But we often get muddled up in a chase after something we think is happiness. Mostly it’s about money or things related to money, a promotion at work, winning the local curling club championship, or trading on the stock exchange to make an extra buck. We believe that this promotion, new object or title will bring us closer to being truly happy.

We think happiness is the end goal for all of our struggles and we believe it so HARD we lose track of everything, we forget about just BEING in the now, about being thankful for what we have, we forget about everything that REALLY matters. But happiness is not a goal it’s a state, it’s a feeling you can have at any point in your life, no matter what financial status you have, what title you possess at work, etc. Of course we want to feel this state as often as possible in our lives and for that we might need money to get us out of a job we don’t like, make us able to go on that trip we so desperately need, or pay off that loan that’s been bugging us for so long. But then money is only the tool, not the solution and not the goal.

So don’t get stuck in the hamster wheel. Look up. Breathe. Take a mouthful of fresh air. Inhale. Stop your thoughts for a minute. Let it be still. And allow yourself just to feel.

Happiness.

It’s YOU

Yeah, don’t blame me, don’t blame the government, don’t blame your parents, don’t blame your religion, don’t blame bad luck, don’t blame anyone.

And don’t blame yourself either. Shit happens (if shit has happened) so let’s get over it before we start smelling from it.

Am I coming on too strong? Maybe.

But I think everybody needs a knock in the head occasionally or a cup of coffee put underneath the nose. “Smell it, it’s life, it’s truth and it’s calling you. Wake up godammit!”

It’s too easy to feel sorry for yourself. We’re all guilty of it, we blame the world for our troubles or think there’s some grand conspiracy out to get us or make our lives miserable.

Unless you’ve wronged a big and powerful mafia organization or are in some strange real life version of Prison Break, chances are there isn’t.

We all just need to get our hands dirty and fight. Take control of ourselves, our jobs, our relationships, our issues and deal with them.

Everyone can become a slightly better person every day. You only need to set one little improvement from one day to the next. Something like:

“Today I’m going to walk to work instead of driving (if you feel the need to lose weight).”

“Today I’m going to be more positive at work and smile (if you’re usually in a shitty/stressed mood).”

“Today I’m going to do something nice for my partner/spouse (if your relationship needs some work).”

It could be the smallest thing. And it’s NOT rocket science to improve in whatever you want to do.

Do you want to learn a language? Good for you! Buy a book, take an online course, book a trip. Do it TODAY. Don’t say, “when I get time”, or “my goal is to do it next year”, take 15-30 minutes or whatever you can lay your hands on and do it TODAY. That way you’ve already started something and can feel better about yourself.

The toughest part though is not starting something, it’s sticking with it. There are too many demons in our heads telling us to procrastinate, get lazy, postpone and give up and we can’t give in to them. Because then we never become the person we want to be, we never do the things we dreamt of doing, and we never get ANYWHERE and we will hate ourselves for it.

I’ve probably started hundreds of manuscripts/projects/business ideas that I never got around to actually DOING anything with. In some cases maybe it was for the best because the quality of the idea wasn’t there, but I know that in many of the cases I would’ve been better off sticking with it and finishing something. A business plan, a short story, a novel, a song, whatever it was that got my creative juices flowing at the time.

Instead I procrastined, postponed, lost interest and gave up.

BAD, BAD, me.

When I’ve finally finished a novel and self-published it, I changed. I realized it was possible to do whatever you want to do if you just discipline yourself to JUST DOING IT. Anything’s possible. For me and for you.

So let’s promise ourselves to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and do something about it today. I’m sure there’s SOMETHING you can do to get into a positive and productive mindset and kick-start your way into a happier, more fulfilling existence. Whatever it is, is up to you.

And that’s the beauty of it isn’t it?

It’s up to YOU.

How To Apply For A Job

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So you want a job. Any job or a specific job. You need money. Maybe you need more money. You have applied and reached the interview process…now what?

This How to apply for a job article will help you! Just follow my advice and you’ll be having a (new) job in no-time!

1. Apply for jobs you want. And if you’re not in the luxury situation of applying for a job you really want – PRETEND!

2. Bring along an updated CV, nicely printed out. If you’re looking for a creative job, bring a portfolio as well.

3. PREPARE. How do you sell yourself, your skills, your personality and your attitude.

4. PREPARE SOME MORE. Learn something about the company, the job, and make sure you have a few smart questions up your sleeve.

5. Dress well. Depending on the job a suit and tie might not be required. But don’t look like a slob.

6. Look the interviewer in the face and speak up. There’s nothing worse than floor-studying mumblers.

7. Talk slowly and clearly. Don’t rush. Don’t panic.

8. Don’t ask stupid questions. This is open for interpretation but asking if you’re paid overtime before you’re given an offer is kind of weird.

9. Please don’t sweat profusely.

10. Shower before. Don’t smell.

11. Buy a gum or brush your teeth. Death breath might lose you a job.

12. Don’t insult the interviewer or the work of the company by coming with “constructive” feedback. Sometimes it might be good to say you’ve thought about how to improve the work etc, but be VERY careful. There is a risk of stepping on some very sensitive toes.

13. Don’t think you’re God’s gift to mankind and that you’re doing the company a favor by asking for a job there. Keep your ego at home.

14. Don’t ask for a ridiculous salary.

If you follow all these rules you might just get yourself a job you like. Or maybe you find out you don’t want to work at all and start writing books instead. No matter what you choose.

Good luck!

Ps. You need it. Ds.

Write What You Know?

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One of my favorite books on writing (aptly named “On Writing“) is written by Stephen King and in that book he regurgitates and then chews on one of the most common rules for writing; write what you know.

First time I read it it made a helluva lot of sense. I mean, it does sound damn difficult to write about space when you have spent all of your life with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Yet, if you can’t write about what you like, doesn’t it take away the fun of it? The reason you write is because it’s fun, right? Then it doesn’t make sense to write about accounting or plumbing (because honestly that doesn’t sound very exciting for a plot).

So the learning from this is that you should write what you LIKE. Whatever it is. Maybe you want to write about Martian plumbers? Knock yourself out. Or maybe you write a story about an accountant and his battle with Microsoft Excel? And maybe that story will be fantastic. Because it’s all about how you tell it.

Let’s say you want to write about an obese man in his upper twenties who’s decided to do what it takes to reach his dream of becoming an astronaut. Chances are you don’t know jack about being an astronaut, you might not be in your twenties anymore, and you’ve always been quite skinny. Then you need to do research, you need to listen, you need to soak up information to be able to make the story as TRUE as possible.

Don’t be lazy with research. Today you don’t have to bog your head down in library books for hours on end. Today you have your friend Google and his father the Internet. You might not be able to feel the sea breeze in the Caribbean by image browsing, but you can get a LOT of information online. Use it to your advantage. You’re going to learn a lot of stuff you don’t need, but they say we’re only using about 10 percent of our brains so my guess is you have space.

For me it works best to mix write what you know with write what you like. I have to feel an interest in the story, the characters, the topic and I have to feel the confidence that I can tell the story in the right way and make justice to it. Otherwise both I and the reader lose.

When I wrote The Wake-Up Call I placed it in a setting I was very familiar with (the advertising world) and placed it in a city I love (New York), but I also went out of my comfort zone when writing about Mexico. I wrote about something I care about (the pace of the world, how to deal with a breakdown, how to face life when it finally catches up with you) and from the viewpoint of a character I’m interested in (the narrator, Jack Reynolds). I didn’t plot it, because I don’t like plotted novels so much, and because there’s a joy in being able to unearth the fossil (another one of King’s phrases) and discover the story as I wrote it. This leads to more editing and plenty more rewrites than a plotted novel, but is a lot more fun and leads to a more creative and original end result (I hope).

The Wake-Up Call is my first published novel, although I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. It was quite an effort to pull off, because I couldn’t stop rewriting it, but after the tenth or so rewrite I decided this was it. It was time to hit the publish button.

This was in the beginning of September this year. Since then I sold a decent number of books and gotten a good review or three, but I’ve realized that to sell even more I should probably have chosen a stronger niche or genre. It seems like you really need to do your marketing research properly, even as an indie author/enthusiast.

What do I mean by that? Well, you could argue that there’s no point in writing books that nobody wants to read. Or maybe there is? Maybe you just have to get that story out of you, because YOU believe in it and YOU feel the need to tell it?

To be honest with you, I don’t know. Everybody wants to sell or at least for people to read what they’ve written and there’s few things as sad as unappreciated writers who spent years on a book that very few ever read. An extreme example would be John Kennedy Toole and his Pulitzer prize winning book A Confederacy of Dunces. Toole got the prize posthumously because he committed suicide after the book he’d worked on and believed in so strongly failed to get published.

But today in the era of self-publishing and DYI-marketing getting published is not the problem, it’s getting people to like what you write and to SELL (we don’t like that word do we? – me I think there’s a reason it rhymes with HELL).

The general feeling I have about most self-published authors is that they write either science-fiction, thrillers, crime, or romance and that these genres are very popular. Because even if you write for a small niche, the competition will be less tough and the readership more devoted to the topic and by default more interested in what you have to say.

This is what I’ve slowly come to realize. It might be that I’m off, but it’s a strong feeling.

I decided to write a book I would like to read myself (which I think goes for most writers, otherwise it would be weird) and since I’m not so much into science-fiction, romance, thrillers, and crime – I guess I’ll have to call it contemporary, commercial or general fiction (the categories among e-book sellers like Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo vary greatly).

And now here comes the crunch. Who does this appeal to? Everyone who’s into fiction? No. The problem is that the definition is so broad and the competition so fierce that it’s very hard to reach your ideal reader. Who would like The Wake-Up Call? I hope a lot of people. But how do I reach out to them and compete with established publishers and authors?

People would say social media (twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google Plus, etc), but the problem there is to reach the right person and to win their attention with your story.

I’ve come to learn it’s not easy. But you can’t give up either. You wrote the damn thing and you want people to read it.

Just take John Locke for example. He claims he spent $25 000 on marketing and didn’t get very much out of it. Then he started blogging and twittering and not long thereafter he was in the Kindle Million Club.

So social media might work for you after all.

I’m trying a little bit of everything myself. We’ll see how it goes and I promise to keep you posted on this very blog (and on twitter or Goodreads of course!)

If you want to help me out why not check out my book THE WAKE-UP CALL on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Smashwords

I know this was long and if you managed to get this far I just want to say…Thanks for listening.

How to increase your productivity

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(Well you could probably do something more productive than reading this very long post so…)

Yeah, this is another installment in my humble advice series. I call it humble because I believe someone’s about to comment “who the fuck are you to give people advice about this and that, you don’t know jack shit!” but maybe that’s just some small spark of internet forum fear (people seem to find it easier to be rude on the internet than face to face, gee, I wonder why?).

Anyway, back to the subject which is productivity and if you read the kind of pointless first paragraph you might think I’ve already wasted my own and YOUR precious time so how can I REALLY give advice about productivity, but if you read on a little bit further I will tell you how.

I’m might as well just come out and say it: I’m a major procrastinator, maybe not so much anymore, but I used to horrible. I used to find one million things to do instead of doing what I actually HAD to do. Talk about not knowing your priorities.

If I was working in my home office I would rather clean the house OCD-style (I’m no clean freak to tell you the truth) and in the end almost alingning the pens with a ruler until I actually started working. Everything else came first all the time. And with the event of multi-tab browsers, multi-tasking computers, I went in over my head and my brain whirred through different tasks, starting many, finishing few.

I’m now typing this blog post on my iPad. It’s going fairly well and I’m about halfway through it. If I was on my Macbook Pro I would probably slide my fingers on that clever Mac trackpad thingy and open up Twitter, another tab, Outlook or something to detract attention from what I was doing and make me lose concentration completely. This is very dangerous behaviour. Maybe I would check my book-selling stats, start reading an article in the New York Times or check out a new gadget I want to buy on Amazon. I would always find a way to escape what I was currently doing.

Why did I do this? I don’t have ADHD or any other disorder that I’m aware of. I used to play chess on world junior level for chrissakes! If you can’t concentrate during a chess game and stick to doing one thing at at time, you’re pretty much screwed or at least lost (on the chess board).

Maybe the abundance of choice got me? When you’re on the web or just at a computer the possibilties are endless. The world is your oyster (too poetic maybe?) and there’s too many temptations to fight boredom. I think this will be a big problem for future generations. The need to have too much going on at the same time will put both the attention span and the boredom threshold on a minimum. You have Skype conversations, a few poker tables, a word document, an e-mail you started to compose and perhaps also something else, just a click away. It’s too easy to lose your concentration! Or maybe they will all be multi-tasking masterminds because the human race always evolves and adapts to the circumstances that they themselves create. We made technology and technology has changed us and will keep changing us.

But I’m off topic. Well, I’m still writing this blog, I haven’t even switched app once and I’m happy about that. Why I didn’t? Let me tell you.

1. I’ve made a promise to myself to do the most out of myself. I’ve made that promise to myself many times, but now I’m sticking to it. I hope.

2. I have a rule to always finish the task I’m about to start unless something non-boredom-related intervenes. Like someone calling you or telling you to do this instead

3. If something takes less than two minutes, just do it straight away. This is from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” and it’s the real gem in that book (the rest is not bad but overly long).

4. Find peace and quiet and know where you work best. This is very personal. When I’m at my desk at work I get disturbed all the time. People sit down next to you when you’re in the middle of something and expects you to open the e-mail that they JUST sent. It doesn’t have to be urgent. I think this is inconsiderate. Why not just ask if I’m busy first? Or maybe they’re assuming I’m on Facebook or streaming a tennis match? Hard to tell. They need to practice patience skills though or I’m going to ask for a door.

What I can do to battle these ASAP-people is to book a conference room and close the door, put on the headphones and look very, very busy. I’ll also prefer to bring the laptop or the iPad to a restaurant or coffee shop. These places are crowded but if you’re disturbed it’s staff 90% of the time. Not co-workers with problems or questions.

5. If you can, I would greatly urge you to get an iPad. It’s excellent because it’s kind of distraction-free because there’s only one window/one app on your screen and it takes at least two clicks to get to another one.

6. Write things down. There’s a million of these productivity apps out there. Not all of them are good, but find a simple one you like and start writing stuff down (I like Things, but as I said there are countless good ones) Do you need to buy lightbulbs? Call the sales dude? Pick up the kids from soccer practice? Be specific and write it down. One place. Sync it between all your gadgets and devices and you’re set.

7. Organize your e-mail into folders like asap, ongoing, cc, etc. Put all the stuff you want done today in the asap. This is a must if you spend 70% of your workday in your Outlook. This sounds bloody depressive when I think of it, but I think it rings true for many office jobs these days.

8. If you lead a team or just work in one invest in a project management tool. I’ve tried many of them like Basecamp, ApolloHQ, Teamproject, but the one that fit my needs best was MyIntervals. It doesn’t looks so hot but does the trick and more.

9. FOCUS! Don’t try to learn scuba-diving, unicycling and horse-riding over the same period of time. Prioritize what you want and need to do the most and just DO IT. Nike got it right from the get-go. Just Do It. I just to waste time on a trillion hobbies but I’ve cut down. Priority 1: Family 2: My health (including exercise) 3: My Career 4: The rest.

10. Don’t stay the extra hour. Maybe if you’re young and you want to show your skills, but as soon as you know who you are, your colleagues will know too. You don’t show skills by working overtime.

11. Avoid meetings. Some of them you have to go to, but then set a goal for them, what do you want to achieve out of the meeting. Because they always seem to drag on and waste your precious time.

12. Turn off the wifi or unplug the internet cable. If you need to write this will minimize the number of distractions the internet provides!

I know this was long so thanks for listening!

Your appearance matters

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It does. You betcha.

It doesn’t matter if you dress sharply, look sloppy, smell bad, forget your tie when everybody else has one, pick your nose in meetings, and so on – it WILL make an impact. Someone might think, hmmm…this guy/ girl is…weird, smelly, good-looking, seems to be in control, elegant, ugly, skinny, fat, interesting or disgusting. People will think something and you can affect what they think of you. If you think you can’t, you’re in trouble.

Appearance matters. If you’re (for example) really fat, people might think you’re lazy. You might not be, but there is quite a risk that people would think you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t say no, you fall for temptations, etc.

If you’re going to an interview in a dirty suit, wearing some cheap shoes or sweating profusely, this will very likely lessen your chances of getting the job!

Appearance is a part of who you are, it’s an important part of your personal brand. The clothes, the hair, the care you put into yourself reflects the kind of person you are and can be very beneficial or detrimental if you don’t pay attention to it.

Because believe me when I say that others will.

Image: Ryan Gosling being very “vain” in Crazy Stupid Love. His character understands the importance of appearance.

The Wake-Up Call Philosophy


Oh, crap, I’m in a preaching mode…

The Wake-Up Call philosophy is about re-evaluation, about looking at yourself and asking yourself where you are in your life and where you would want to be.

It’s good to have a regular wake-up call. It’s nice to smell the coffee. It’s educating to read the writing on the wall. To pinch yourself once in a while. Hard.

I think life should be under constant evaluation, with out over-analyzing everything. Re-evaluate yourself using your gut and your heart and not your mind. This is the best way to get the good answers on where and who you are  in your life right now.

Stopping and thinking things over and being able to question decisions and actions without judging yourself too hard is incredibly important to achieving some kind of happiness.

And then we get into the never-ending question about what happiness really is and then you think you’re stuck right? Wrong. There’s no general term of what being happy is. Only you can know what happiness means to you and the only way to figure it out is to stop and ask yourself those questions:

Am I where I want to be?
Do I live the life I want to have?
Am I doing the things I dreamt of doing?

And if you’re saying NO to any one of the questions above you need to ask yourself why and you need to ask yourself how you can say YES.

Then you do what it takes. NO excuses. Just do it. Do it.

Come on.

Do it.

Ps. If you think any of this make any sense, why not check out my novel The Wake-Up Call at Amazon or Smashwords? Ds.