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Inspiration – A River Runs Through My Own For Dummies® Book Cover

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (that’s me on the faux For Dummies® cover holding the cd except that that point should’ve been on the top of my head ha!).  So what can I say? I’m feeling a little feisty today and thought this would be fun to put up here.

In fact, I’m creating a bunch of fun goodies like t-shirts and stickers for all of us Dummies – you know, we simple folks who have special ideas that just don’t quit…that invade our thoughts and days without effort…that wake us up at night…and “talk” to us in our dreams, waking and not.

Writing this got me thinking that sometimes our thoughts flow through us like a river untamed. But a river does not just flow – it cuts rocks, carves mountains, moves boulders, and leaves behind pieces of what it’s collected along its path. A river has a goal, too – create a path to allow the current to find a way to keep moving towards the ocean.

Every day is an opportunity for you to move one step closer to your own ocean…even an inch is progress…so let yourself flow! See how this process works? Inspiration is everywhere if you just let it in…even when you’re poking fun at yourself in a goofy book cover.

P.S. Maybe I will go to Comic-Con 2012 this year in San Diego with “Big Dummy” on my chest. Whatta ya’ll think of that? Now all I need is an illustrator to make a Dummy Zero™…a super hero! No tights. But a cape and cool mask…hmmm…ideas?

I crack myself up sometimes…8-)P

©2012 Dummy Zero All Rights Reserved

My Phoenix Rises from the Smoldering Ashes of a Love Letter

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As I get involved with more projects aka “butterflies” I’ve found that I’ve gotten further from my roots. First and foremost I am a writer (okay an inventor, product developer, and creative marketer, too, but a writer first). I’ve written everything from resumes to business letters to newsletters to marketing and technical white papers to instruction manuals to direct mail letters and web content (even a movie script).

Just recently I wrote a love letter that fell on a deaf heart. At first I was crushed and felt as if I had lost some direction in my life. But reflecting on that loss I had an epiphany that everything would be just fine – it’s not the right time for me to travel in that direction…and with someone who doesn’t share the same vision with me anymore. And within that introspection I found clarity of purpose for both my personal and business lives.

So why am I letting you inside my personal love life and what could it possibly have to do with my Dummy’s blog? Everything my friends. We don’t have inspirational, a-ha, or life changing moments in a vacuum. We learn from our various lives, our heart, and our gut and move forward wiser and happier and wealthier (yes, one is hopeful). It’s give and take. So sometimes life and those in our life let us know when our direction is right – or just the opposite – when it’s not and when it’s time to say goodbye as it was in my case. This holds true in business as well because at some point we may need to evaluate what’s best for us and our business – after all it is a relationship, too.

I just finished reading a blog post written by John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing. In his post, he describes my recent processing – you need clarity of purpose to really be successful in business and to enjoy your life. Clarity of purpose helps define you, your role with your business, and your business. That got me thinking: if you can’t delineate what it is that you’re doing for yourself and for others clearly – and understand the need or want for what you’re offering – then why are you doing it in the first place?

As I mentioned earlier a business is more than just an idea it’s a relationship…with a beginning, middle, and an end (sometimes). And just as with any relationship, to be successful you need to accept that it’s a living process that needs constant nurturing and food for thought to help you maintain that clarity of purpose. I’ve found through my years that introspection is a powerful tool to bring to the table when you’re evaluating your business for yourself and its intended purpose. How many times lately have you held on to an idea or belief or hunch that what you’re doing is absolutely right – yet little or no fruits from your labor seem to be blossoming? How many red flags have you been missing or avoiding or refusing to acknowledge because this is the way you’ve always operated your business?

Am I saying that the clarity you have right now couldn’t be right about your idea or business? Nope. I’ve read that Colonel Sanders tried selling his chicken seasoning recipe 1,009 times over a two year period driving across the U.S before he had his first sale. So it’s quite possible your idea or business is right on. But keep in mind that Colonel Sanders must have had a total clarity of purpose to do what he did and he was driven – maybe being broke helped.

But what if you’re not sure that you have that kind of clarity for your own business or business idea? What can you do to give yourself a swift kick in the parts and a help you get a clearer vision of what you’re doing and why? Here’s some food for thought to get you started:

Consider asking yourself why you’re approaching your idea as a business for yourself or for someone else – does it make sense in the form that you’re imagining? Does it make sense at all? How do you know? Or even more importantly for a going concern: does it make sense to continue your business in its current operating environment – retail, wholesale, online only, etc? For example, Qualcomm stopped making cell phones and started licensing their technology to companies whose core business was making phones. Can I repackage my idea, product, or service as something else? Is this really a brick and mortar business? Would digitizing it work perhaps as a web application instead of something more labor intensive? Would someone else be better suited to running my business? Can I lease or sell or insert my business, idea, product, or service into someone else’s idea, product, service or business? Should I consider getting outside help – physical or consultative? Have I already been down this road before? Should I close up shop or expand? What do I do best and what do I really have to offer and is it worth it to any of us?

If you’re sitting alone – trying to go it alone – or you feel alone answering these types of questions probably the best thing you can do is visit and participate in discussions on blogs and join Meetup groups. Thousands of blogs and Meetups are out there that you can explore. Talk to friends and family for other points of view. I think you’ll find as I have that someone else has been down your road before. Pick their brains because knowledge and wisdom is out there for those willing to ask for it. When I first started my publishing company I did it all by myself. Research. Writing. Binding. Pitching. It was a lot of work. But one day I just knew that if I didn’t get help nothing was going to happen. So I reached out to my friend in the publishing business and asked for help. You know the rest of the For Dummies® story.

I’m not saying that it’s an easy process. I sure as hell am not 100%…but who is anyway. Look, you don’t have to have to wait for a heartbreak like mine to have your Phoenix rise as mine did. Get clarity, keep it simple, and then move forward with conviction and with a renewed sense of purpose. It’s a safe bet that you can recover from those eventual stumbles and blind corners a bit faster and with more confidence.

It’s working for me – I’m writing again – and loving it.

Your turn.

© 2012 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

The Fwee. The Foh-yih. The F-Word.

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There’s been some discussion about the correct pronunciation of “Feuille”. Some are calling it “fwee” (Tweety’s free). Some are calling it “foh-yih”.

But all I can say is that I’ve heard it pronounced in French and, to me, it sounds like “fwee-yih”.

Yeah, yeah. Branding gurus may want to kick us in the shins because we picked a French name for an American product. But the definition of feuille is “leaf” which is appropriate for the leaf-like Feuille Finish™ that’s created with our tool. And the “hawk” is what plasterers use to hold their plaster…hence, the Feuille Hawk™! And really it’s no more difficult to pronounce than some Venetian plaster techniques like marmorino, scagliola, or sgraffito. Compared to those names ours is not only simpler but also more descriptive.

What’s important is that the Feuille Hawk™ is incredibly simple to use – and it can produce some amazing texturing possibilities to complement existing “sister” faux finishes like Venetian plaster, Trompe-l’œil, Strié, color washes, or rag painting. (We’re excited to report that one of our local casinos is featuring our Feuille Finish™ right now as part of a larger project. Sweet!)

So how do you pronounce feuille? We think “fwee-yih” would be good. It’s easy to pronounce, yes? But you never know when inspiration will strike. Just last week I asked a local hardware store owner about demonstration opportunities for our Feuille Hawk™ at his shop. When I said fwee-yih he scrunched up his face a bit and paused for a minute. I thought he was making an effort to parrot my pronunciation. Simple, right? Fwee-yih.

Then his face lit up. And he smiled.

“We’ll just call it the f-word. Everyone understands that!”

Geez…

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

My Watch Seems to be Two Days Slow…

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Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! My product launch is where I’ve been at.

The Mad Hatter’s got a watch that’s only two days slow. Mine seems to be broken entirely and is now more of a glimmer on my wrist than a timekeeper. (Funny how time whistles by when you’re working hard.)

But I’ll get back here with more stories and more good stuff soon. I have a meetup group and another product that’s on hold, too.

Thank you all for hanging with me.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

Feuille Hawk Product Launch coming soon!

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Well, folks, my product launch for a new faux-finish designer tool is finally coming. It’s only taken a year – not to mention the prior two years of focus groups and tool engineering to get that tool to work its magic.

Our tool is called the Feuille Hawk™.

“Feuille” (pronounced foh-yih) is the French word for “leaf”, which refers to the intricate, leaf-like patterns created by this tool. The resulting texture  pattern is called the Feuille Finish™. It’s remarkably versatile, opening up countless interior design possibilities for walls and ceilings.

What’s really cool is that you can embed stones, glass, or tile into the texture to create a mosaic effect, something you might see in a premier Las Vegas hotel. You can also apply faux finishing and airbrushing techniques if you want a more colorful and contemporary appearance. (We were thinking that the finish on our ceiling would look really cool with a paintball spatter!)

All you need is a little drywall compound and our Feuille Hawk™, and you can literally transform those drab white ceilings and walls into surreal landscapes overnight – goodbye poopy popcorn and boring walls!

I realize this sounds like an ad. Okay, it kinda is. But I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with my business partner and want to share it. Maybe some of you reading this would be interested in trying out our tool on your ceilings or your walls.

Unfortunately, our website isn’t finished yet.  So you won’t be able to find our Feuille Hawk™ or find anything about the Feuille Finish™. Heck, you won’t even find anything about feuille on the Internet because this is brand new (actually there’s more to that story, but I’m not going to spill it here). I’ll post our web address here as soon as our site is up.

And maybe when this launch cools down a bit I can get back to this blog and start writing again.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

A Big Dummy Try is All You Need to Succeed

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I was reading this sports story, St. George’s Calls an Audible, about a Rhode Island high school that pulled out of a game because of the size of the other team’s players.

The opposing team’s players were not just huge; they were NFL gigantic when compared to the “smaller” team’s players. And because of that disparity, the St. George coaches pulled out of the game because they were worried about the safety of their players.

So what does this have to do with my blog? Well, my issue with what the coaches did – understanding that I’d worry about my sons playing against those behemoths – is that the kids didn’t’ get even get a chance to test their mettle. They didn’t even get to try.

Playing that game for a kid would’ve been a good life lesson – it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. You’ve got to meet challenges head on and with skill, preparation, and the belief that you will finish no matter what. Okay, you may get knocked down more so than others. I did. But so what. You’re in the game to play and to win. So you get back up, get in the game, and you keep trying!

The takeaway from this story is especially appropriate for us creative types who try to participate in the business arena.

You’re going to find opposing players – both companies and individuals – exponentially bigger and maybe more talented than you are. You’re also going to run into people who nay say your creative bent. I know I did. But I continued. And so should you. Don’t sideline your talent, your invention, your idea or your tinkering because of what others think or say – or what you imagine they can do to you. Move forward. And keep your brain out of their gutter.

Eighty percent of the battle is getting out there and trying. The rest is how you use your gifts to realize your dreams. In fact, you can’t play if you don’t start. And you definitely can’t win if you don’t play. (Can you imagine what kind of junk we’d have in our lives if there were no competitors to beat or innovative products to use created by people like us? We’d still be reading those nasty DOS encylopedias. :-))

I didn’t give a crap about giant publishers like Wiley or Que because I knew in my gut that I was on to something. I already formed my own publishing company. And I went out and wore a path in book aisles for nearly a year before I made my move (that’s a really s-l-o-w game). Then I took action to make my dream of publishing and writing come true.

Now grab your ideas and gizmos and tinkerings and creative Pandas by the short fuzzy hairs. Then get that bloody helmet on and step up to the line. Time to show the world – and yourself – what you’re made of.

Game’s on!

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved

So I’ve Been Almost Crazy All These Years?

Guess my recurring happy-happy joy-joy behavior over the years finally caught my sister’s attention yesterday because she sent me this New York Times article to read, “Just Manic Enough – Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs“.

Okay, it’s an interesting read and although it described me in parts, I am not as extreme as the star of the story, Seth Priebatsch. The sleep part may be closer to home, but I watch tv and listen to all kinds of music.  And I like to talk to people and listen to what they have to say. Why limit yourself to only one caged stream of thought? Imagine getting to live other  lives and thoughts and ideas inside your own brain for a while. Sometimes I feel like the Universe’s personal business and idea incubator. How fun is that!

And I believe that my ratio of qualities and quirks, including my hypomania, is just right for my psyche as an entrepreneur. So I should be able to pass any test they have out there to prove it. In fact, based on the article’s info, I’m flying just under the medication radar because I’m the near-perfect entrepreneur. 🙂

But this article also got me thinking about the fact that I haven’t yet approached other people for money for my product ideas. I’ve always thought it was better for my creations to be self-funded, especially during the start-up. Loose lips sink ships. So does extra weight.

The  Dummies concept is a case in point: I brought in the writer and organizational contacts. But I think now that I could’ve owned the entire franchise (or a bigger piece) by getting the financing and building my publishing company. Oh, well. No sour grapes here. Why would I want more than I have already anyway? And I still have a few bragging rights left lol. 🙂

Still, I’m leery of formal venture capitalists because they’re the epitome of too many cooks and they always want the big half of the pie. My dad worked with them and taught me a good deal about how they work. So it’s fair to say that I’m jaded. But that doesn’t mean smaller contributions from smaller investors wouldn’t work as well. Now I’m going to make an effort to move in that direction as foreign as it seems right now.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime I suggest that you read the article to find out if it fits you. Also, if you’re looking for venture financing you can always try out the company that found Mr. Priebatsch and cut him a check for his “crazy” idea. (Personally, I think that Mr. Priebatsch is using some kind of stealth technology to mask his hypersonic mania so therapists can’t find him.)

I learned something else from the article: I think being almost crazy all these years has made me a better dad, better friend, and better entrepreneur. I think my family might like me better, too.

Thanks for the tip, sis.

Have you borrowed money for your own venture? Are you looking for investors? Let me know.

© 2010 Dummy Zero™ All Rights Reserved