Steve-olson.com

For People Pursuing Freedom

Birthday Today – 45 Years Old!

You know, when I was 15 I didn’t think I’d live to see 18 and when I made 18, I didn’t think I’d live to see 21. Well here I am at 45 and in the best shape of my life.

I’ve included a tribute to all of us who grew up in those days and made it. Here’s too ya!

Just curious, if you’re still reading this blog, drop me a comment and let me know.


5 Simple Ways to Build Self Confidence

Guest Post by Matt Maresca

Having self confidence is one of the biggest keys to your success. If you do not believe in yourself, it is difficult to accomplish any worthwhile mission. Further, if you do not exude a sense of confidence, other people will not have confidence in you. Below you will find five tips for building self confidence. Don’t just think about these tips, give them a try. Allow them to work for you!

1. Start Each Day with a Smile

Don’t ignore this tip because it sounds cheesy. Smiling has a special way of making you feel good about yourself and your life. When you smile, you are accentuating the positive; you are exuding happiness and contentment.

But don’t just smile; think of a reason to smile. You are alive. You are about to start another day. This could be a very special day. A new day means new opportunities. And this means new ways to make yourself happy and get closer to your ultimate goals.

So tomorrow morning, when you wake up, think of all you have in life and smile warmly. Beginning the day on a positive note will set the tone for you to do great things.

2. Dump Your Doubts on Paper

We all have doubts. We all have worries. Some of us just tend to let these things stew in our minds more than others. Don’t let these doubts eat away at you throughout the day. Get them out on paper in the morning. Write out all your doubts, and just keep writing all your thoughts. Don’t even think about what you are doing. A lot of your doubts are subconscious. Simply start your writing with, “I have doubts about myself. They are…” and just keep writing until you are done.

Many times, you’ll find that as you are writing you will discover that a lot of your doubts seem silly. Sometimes you’ll begin to subconsciously start thinking about your strengths. This is because your strengths may lie below your doubts in your brain’s hierarchy right now. Once you dump your doubts from your brain, you will find out what actually you like about yourself.

3. Do Something You Love to Do

It’s no secret that we tend to do best at the things we love to do. This is because we can really put our heart and spirit into it. Take some time out today and do something you really love doing. Immerse yourself in the moment and let go of all your doubts. Have some fun and loosen up. What happens when you do something you really love is you don’t worry about not doing it well. You just focus on having a good time.

Once you’ve done this, take this feeling into other areas of your life. Life isn’t about being perfect; it’s about giving the most of yourself to each moment. Remember the good feelings and let them stream throughout your day.

4. Make a List of Everything You’re Good At

I know you’re good at some things. We all are. This is because we all have special talents and unique skillets. Just because you can’t throw a baseball 90mph or solve quantum physics problems doesn’t mean you aren’t gifted. Even if your special talents aren’t readily apparent to the layperson, this doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Your talents are important because they are unique to you. Once you’ve discovered your special talents, it is up to you to do something special and meaningful with them.

So make a great list of everything you are good at. No matter how small your talent or skill may be, write it down. You may surprise yourself just how much you have to offer.

5. Face One of Your Biggest Fears

As I like to say, nervousness is often just your brain’s way of telling you that your fears will feel great to conquer. You are nervous because you care. Since you care, you will feel good to have accomplished the feat. Your fears will go away once you face them.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said you should “do one thing everyday that scares you”. Once you have done this thing, you will have conquered a new fear. You will grow your comfort zone. You will gain confidence in your ability to do this thing. You will grow your confidence in your ability to face your fears. Do this on a regular basis and the things that used to scare you will give you some of your happiest moments. You will be stronger and wiser.

The key is to be consistent. At first, facing your fears will make you very uneasy. You are not used to operating out of your comfort zone, but realize that it will only make you a stronger, more confident person. Day by day, it will get easier. And day by day, you will be able to conquer bigger and bigger fears.

Pretty soon, people will be asking you for advice on building self confidence!

About the Author

Matt Maresca is a motivational entertainer who aims to inspire others to take their lives to the next level of personal happiness through self improvement. This growth often begins with building self confidence. For more, check out Matt’s website at MyLifeMotivation.com.


If you find yourself procrastinating, this guide will help you learn why you do it and how to change it. Also, if you have a procrastinator in your life, a child, an employee, a spouse, you can turn to this guide to help you understand why they do it and how you can help. This guide has a host of information on how to overcome procrastination, how to minimize the tendency to procrastinate, the psychological roots of procrastination, and how you can turn procrastination into productivity. Believe it our not, there are times when procrastination is a good thing.

Procrastination is a Complex Phenomenon

There is no silver bullet to the problem. Some of us struggle getting started on things we need to do to improve our careers, our health, our relationships, and our spirit. Some of us start but can’t finish. Why do we procrastinate? There are many reasons and perspectives on that. If you want a comprehensive understanding of procrastination you must tap many resources. There are a lot of smart people who have written about this subject and you’ll find links to many of them here.

This Guide is Structured Into Three Parts:

  1. 24 of the Best Articles on Procrastination
  2. 4 Videos About Procrastination
  3. My Take on Procrastination
  4. 3 Must Read Books About Procrastination

The Best Articles on Procrastination

Structured Procrastination – If you’re a procrastinator, this is by far the best essay I’ve read on harnessing procrastination as a gift. John Perry is a successful academic and chronic procrastinator. He’s learned to turn his procrastination into a productivity hack.

Chronic Time Abuse – This pdf file is from the Harvard Business Review and written by Steven Berglas. It explains why ordinary time-management techniques don’t work for some people, the childhood roots of time abuse, how to understand the four distinct time abusers, and how to make them more productive.

Good and Bad Procrastination – Paul Graham founder of Y-combinator and Hacker News and prolific internet essayist, makes a strong case that impressive people are terrible procrastinators and trying to “beat” procrastination is impossible. Paul describes three types of procrastination and that we should strive to be a Type-C procrastinator. What does that mean? In a nutshell it means, “Good procrastination is avoiding errands to do real work.”

Later – What does procrastination tell us about ourselves? – This in depth article by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker delves into the philosophical roots of procrastination.

Fight Procrastination! – David Cheong shows us via illustration how to understand Procrastination vs. Pain and Payoff. He shows where we want be and how to get there.

50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work – Jerry Oltion at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America writes about the major paradox of the writing profession – work avoidance. Why as writers do we find ourselves doing ANYTHING but writing? Since no single solution works for everyone, Jerry gives you 50 strategies to try.

An Unexpected Lesson About Procrastination – Penelope Trunk tells us what she learned about procrastination from her experience having a baby with a birth defect and how she discovered procrastination is one of the best tools we have for taking care or ourselves.

Procrastination: Ten Things To Know – This list shows us that bad procrastination can be the result of authoritarian parenting/schooling, the child never discovers self-regulation, and/or uses procrastination as a coping mechanism or a passive-aggressive form of rebellion which then leads to issues like substance abuse.

Procrastination – This is a fascinating post citing multiple scientific studies that show procrastination is not the result of laziness, but instead a result of meta-cognition. To get past your tendency to procrastinate you need to find ways to trick yourself in to thinking differently about thinking.

From Procrastination to Motivation – This is an A to Z reference guide about why we procrastinate and how to beat it. It explains the many reasons why we procrastinate, offers full color illustrations and flow charts, and a guide to motivating yourself past your blocks.

Overcoming Procrastination Instantly Using Self Talk - At litemind we get solid practical advice on how to re-frame the language you use in your thoughts. When you re-frame your thoughts you’ll produce different actions with different results. With a little training anyone can change their thoughts.

7 Common Causes and Proven Cures for Procrastination – Marc and Angel offer a good breakdown of common causes of procrastination and simple methods you can use to overcome the problem.

Letter to a Young Procrastinator - This is a well written letter that Seth Stevenson appears to be writing to his younger self – “Stop resisting and embrace your procrastination.” If you’re going to procrastinate stop agonizing over it and have fun with the time you are wasting.

Procrastination hack: ‘(10+2)*5′ – Merlin Mann has a method that lets you be lazy and still get things done.

Dead Simple Guide to Beating Procrastination – This guide IS dead simple. The first step is perfect.

Overcome Procrastination Once and For All – To overcome your thoughts and fears about procrastination you need to get clear about what you want in life.

Top 10 Motivation Boosters and Procrastination Killers – Lifehacker provides some of the most original content available. This one doesn’t disappoint.

How to Overcome Procrastination in 8 Easy Steps – Does your procrastination come from lack of prioritization. First visualize the end from the beginning, then count the cost, read the rest…

Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit – J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly is a self admitted procrastinator. Here are his methods for beating his bad habits.

Modern Procrastination – Seth Godin makes the case the being busy is a form of procrastination. We stay busy in order to avoid doing the risky things we are meant to do.

How Procrastination Can Make You More Productive - Kelly Watson teaches us to ask ourseves three questions that will help us understand why we are procrastinating and how we can turn procrastination to our advantage.

7 Tips for Avoiding Procrastination – Gretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project gives us sound advice on how to avoid procrastination altogether.

7 Ways to Move Beyond Procrastination – Henrik Edberg at the Positivity Blog puts together another list of 7. He leads with the advice that procrastination is more painful than work. Yes sometimes it is.

How to Overcome Procrastination – This is a susinct list of things you can do to get moving on any task or project.

 

Videos:

Procrastination by John Kelly – This is a creative description of procrastination. Most of us will find our our own methods of procrastination in this video.

 

Author and Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely on Procrastination

 

A Humorous Look at Procrastination – “Procrastination” Tales of Mere Existence:

 

Ellen DeGeneres will make you laugh as she explores her own procrastination:

 

My Take on Procrastination

As long as I can recall I’ve struggled with procrastination. I am sure I started procrastinating even before I can remember. I rarely if ever turned in assignments in school that I wasn’t interested in. Over 30 years ago I recall a teacher assigning me a report on the composer Rossini. I checked out one book about him in the library, never read it, and never even started the report. I wasn’t interested. Did it hurt me? I doubt it, but I still think about it today and it became a common issue during my schooling. I procrastinated and failed to start/finish many assignments.

I can see the seeds of procrastination in my sons. They naturally avoid doing things that need to be done. They love to start a craft project, or take out the legos, or set up a board game, but they NEVER want to clean up the mess and put things back where they got them. It’s more fun to take out another item and another item and another item. When you ask them to put something away the excuses flow as naturally as water seeks a river, “I am still playing with it, I was putting it away, I’ll do it in a minute, I was playing with both of them.” When you press them, feet stomp, followed by yelling, screaming, and sometimes worse.

This manifestation of procrastination seems to be selfishness/immuturity or an inability to understand how your own inaction affects others. I’m certain it isn’t about perfectionism. They expect someone else to clean up their messes and would rather do something fun.

But as a parent you shouldn’t try to kill this innate tendency to procrastinate, just redirect it a little. Sometimes you shouldn’t do what others tell you. Instead you should do what you love. Why should you do busy work instead of real learning? Why should you accept monotonous boring work instead of creative work? You shouldn’t! To be happy productive people, we need to understand the difference between being responsible and using others to justify yet another form of procrastination – failing to live up to our potential. As a father it is my job to teach that distinction to my sons. The best way (and most difficult) is to live it by example.

Procrastination is good when it keeps you from wasting your time and money. I’ve found, if you put some things off, you’ll find later that they didn’t need to be done. The trick is knowing what those things are, and they are different for all of us.

Procrastination is bad when you fail to take care of yourself, when you fail to grow, when you fail to learn, when you fail to create.

So the key is… overcoming bad procrastination, maximizing good procrastination, and learning to identify the difference.

3 Must Read Books on Procrastination:

I recommend the following books on procrastination. In this section, I won’t review each book. Just click through to Amazon and read the reviews there. All three are dyno-mite!

Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now –

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play -

The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination -

I’ve planned to write this for months now. After reading Procrastination and Perfectionism a week ago, I began to finish this post.

P.S. I have some friends who say they want to write. If any of you are reading this, my advice is… Then write! Start a blog! It’s never been easier to write! Most obstacles are in your mind. Clear your mind and just do it. Stop Procrastinating Now!


Just a reminder… In case you’ve forgotten who you are and what life is about…

To live a great life is to live boldly with courage and strength. Do not try to be fearless, just be aware of your fear and act in spite of it. Tell the bullies, worriers, and fear-mongers both inside and outside your head, to go to hell. Submit them with mental Jiu Jitsu. Choke them out of your mind. Remember that life is short, and that you need to live a confident, humor filled life. Not a life of anxiety and worry, but a life of action, fun, freedom, and intelligent creativity.

Don’t mistake any of this for recklessness. Recklessness leads to fear, anxiety, poor health, poor finances, poor relationships, and lost freedom. The bully, the worrier, and the fear-monger are the animals that try to trick you into reckless behaviors. Learn to hear them, identify them, and then crush them before their lies and tricks take root.

Live intelligently. When the bully in your head shows you a scene or hands you a feeling of shame, guilt, worthlessness, or fear. Shout it down. Clog the pit from which it rears its head. It doesn’t matter if the scenes and feelings were real in the past. Your past is gone. It is over. It is unchangeable. The only thing that is changeable is the decision you face right now, in this moment. Are you going to choose to live in fear and guilt and shame and anger or will you choose to live with courage and confidence in everything you do next? Your choice will determine your future. Your choice will determine how you feel, what you do, and the impact you have on others.

Don’t try to live in the past. The past is an imaginary place full of nightmares and fairy tales. Forget the past, and forget the people who remind you of it. Reminiscing is a fools game.

So right now, in this moment, let me tell you who you really are…

You are strong
You are loving
You are creative
You are intelligent
You are confident
You are capable of anything
You have honor
You have credibility
You are healthy
You are honest
You are wealthy (wealth is more than money)
You are fun
People respect you
People follow you
People love you as you are right now
People need you
You are a leader

Now go out and be who you really are!


A post from Christine…

Do you want to sell books online? This post is for you. Selling books online is a great way to earn extra income. If you work hard, you can even make a living. But first you’ll need to learn the tricks of the trade.

Keeping it Simple

This is a long post with a ton of information in it. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible for you. This post is a mixture of my own advice combined with links to other helpful content. We will focus on selling used books.

About Me

I have been selling books for nearly 20 years. I started selling books online while working in my father’s bookstores. I set up an eBay account in 1998 under the name c-olson which my father still uses today. Starting with a few titles from a single store, my online listings were a great success. In 2002, I quit working to become a Stay At Home Mom. In 2003, I started selling books online from home. In 2004 we bought a bigger house to accommodate my growing business and another child. In 2009 I signed a 3 year lease on a 3200 square foot warehouse to run my business. Right now I deal in overstock, remainder, and used books, DVDs, plush toys, and gift items. My goal is to open a discount bookstore, selling new and used books and media related items integrated with online selling. I sell under the name blitz-kitty on ebay and Half.com, Books-MN on Amazon and BooksMN on ABE and Alibris. I also run the websites http://www.BooksMN.com and http://www. ChristinesBooks.net. (I didn’t follow one of my tips below which is to “choose a business name and stick with it!”)

New Warehouse Aug. 2009

Where to Buy Used Books

Friends of the Library Sales – Find FOL Sales near you using BookSaleFinder.com. Also, check your local paper for library sales or call the libraries near you. Most libraries have sales at least twice per year. Contact the libraries to learn the dates and times of the sales. Some FOL’s allow members to attend special early preview sales. It may be worth joining.

Garage Sales – Great place for cheap books. Be sure to ask if they have more books they haven’t put out yet.

Estate Sales – Arrive early, offer to buy all the books for one price.

Church Rummage Sales

Craigslist – Post an ad that you want to buy books. Advertise that you will pick-up books for free.

Thrift Stores – Visit thrift stores regularly, get to know their routines and when they put out new books.

Family, Friends and Neighbors – Let everyone know you want to be a bookseller. People will give you books for free. It’s a great way to try it out. Don’t let anyone talk you into selling books for them and splitting the profit. You won’t make any money and you will do all the work.

Goodwill – Some Goodwill stores “cherry pick” the good ones, some don’t.

Salvation Army

Half Price Books or other Used Bookstores who don’t sell online.

Barnes & Noble – Many times they have half price sales on their remainder books. A great time to pick up some large picture books.

Where to Sell

Here are 5 major sites to consider along with the fees they charge:

Amazon.com – If you plan to sell more than 40 books per month on Amazon, pay to become a ProMerchant Seller. Amazon charges a monthly fee, plus commission, plus per transaction fee.

Half.com – No monthly fee, commission fee at the time of the sale.

Alibris – Monthly fee plus commission. Join when you have a minimum of 500 titles otherwise you might not sell enough to cover fees.

ABE – Monthly fee plus commission. Join when you have a minimum of 800 titles otherwise you won’t see many sales.

eBay – Monthly fee for an eBay store, insertion fee per item plus commission fee and paypal fees. Watch your fees and price items accordingly. Booksellers only need a Basic Store. Selling on eBay has become much more difficult. Be sure to read and understand all the rules before you start selling. Breaking the rules on eBay may get you banned. There’s money to be made on eBay but it doesn’t come as easy as it used to. If you don’t know much about selling on ebay I highly recommend reading Skip McGrath’s 77 Tips & Tools for Selling on The New eBay. You can also subscribe to his free newsletter that contains lots of great information.

Websites for Multi-Channel Selling

If you choose to sell on all of these sites you need to keep track of your inventory. I use www.theartofbooks.com to manage my inventory and sales across multiple venues. TheArtofBooks.com charges only a small commission fee. There is also www.fillz.com. They charge a base fee plus a commission fee. I do not use The Art of Books for my eBay listings. I use www.inkfrog.com for eBay listings and picture hosting.

FBA

FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. You send your books to Amazon, they pack and ship them for you. Many people love this set-up. I’ve tried it, with some success but I don’t think it will continue in my business plan. I want to open a bookstore so would prefer to have my inventory with me. Also, at this time, space is not an issue for me. I highly recommend reading about FBA if you are interested: Selling on Amazon’s FBA Program.

Scanning Tools

Many book resellers use scanning tools. If you go to a FOL (Friends of the Library) sale you will see people scanning barcodes on the backs of books with handheld scanners. The tools pull information from Amazon, instantly telling you the current pricing and the Sales Rank (lower seller rank good, higher seller rank not so good.) Some popular scanning tools: ScoutPal and ASellerTool.

Finding the Right Price

Pricing your books is an art form. You want to get the most money you can in the least amount of time. I check Amazon to price all my books.

First I check other seller’s pricing, both New & Used, then I check the sales rank. The sales rank indicates how popular the book is on Amazon.

Rank:

  • 1 – 10,000 most popular
  • 10,001 – 100,000 very popular
  • 100,001 – 200,000 moderately popular
  • 200,001 – 300,000 well, get the idea

These numbers go up into the millions

The lower the number the faster your book is going to sell if priced accordingly. You never need to be the lowest price to sell a book. Even if you are the lowest price when you list, in a few hours you will be undercut you by a penny by someone using repricing software. Both The Art of Books & Fillz offer repricing software. I don’t use the software. I haven’t taken the time to figure it out. For now, I ignore sellers who continually drop prices and I price my books somewhere 3 – 4 spots above the lowest price at a point where I still make money.

Condition Guidelines

You have be careful when grading your books. Since customers can’t see the book they are buying they rely on you to tell them its condition. Each selling site has their own rules. Be sure to read them. Here’s some guidelines from Amazon:

Amazon’s Guidelines:

New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition.

Like New: An apparently unread copy in perfect condition. Dust cover is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and are not marred by notes or folds of any kind. Book may contain a Remainder Mark on an outside edge but this should be noted in listing comments.

Very Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged.

Good: A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (including dust cover, if applicable). The spine may show signs of wear. Pages can include limited notes and highlighting, and the copy can include “From the library of” labels.

Acceptable: A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact (the dust cover may be missing). Pages can include considerable notes–pen or highlighter–but the notes cannot obscure the text.

Feedback

Why is feedback important to you as a bookseller? Buyers make decisions based on two things, price and feedback. Most selling sites allow customers to leave feedback about their experience buying from you. If your feedback levels fall too low you may get kicked off a site. eBay is particularly difficult with feedback. If you have slightly less than perfect feedback you will lose monetary discounts and possibly be banned. Be proactive with customer questions and concerns. Make your e-mail address readily available on your packing slips which should be included in all your orders.

Dealing with Customers

Although you are not selling face-to-face you still need customer service. They have questions, they have problems and they want to be reassured. Always deal with customers in a friendly matter. Even if they are wrong and you are right, sympathize and find a solution. Some customers are impossible to please, but honestly, I rarely get them. Book buyers tend to be an honest bunch.

Your Own Website

The most popular bookseller ecommerce hosting site is www.chrislands.com. My chrislands site is www.christinesbooks.net. It’s…. okay. Not perfect, we have very little control of design with chrislands, but the price is right and they have good Google Feeds. I also have another site using www.PrestoStore.com under www.BooksMN.com. Both of these sites can be supported by The Art of Books or Fillz so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of your inventory and orders. Watch out when choosing an ecommerce host, make sure there isn’t a limit on the number of items you can list. As a bookseller, you will end up with 1,000’s of SKUs, you can’t afford a hosting company that charges based on the number of SKUs you have.

You need to take credit cards and paypal on your website. For credit cards, I use www.propay.com. They integrated easily with my websites and have low fees for small sellers. Google Checkout is another good option to have on your website.

Where to Buy Shipping Supplies

When I first started buying shipping supplies I looked for sales or coupons from Office Max. Then I started ordering them from sellers on eBay. Now I order all my shipping supplies from www.Uline.com. I find they have the best prices if you order in bulk. Uline also has excellent customer service. If you order more than $300 worth of supplies at any one time you can ask for Free Shipping with next day delivery! Uline also offers fun freebies if you order $150.00 or more in supplies.

Shipping

How you choose to ship your books is a very important part of your business. Your shipping choices will affect your customer’s experience and your feedback. Most booksellers ship their books in bubble mailers to save on shipping costs and supplies. I ship most of my books in boxes or cardboard fold-overs (s-165 on uline.com). I only ship small paperbacks and DVDs in bubble mailers. This is a personal choice. When I sell books in “New” condition and I want the books to arrive in “New” condition. Books get damaged in bubble mailers unless you wrap them in several layers of bubble wrap.

Most selling venues will reimburse you $3.99 for shipping and handling costs. For books that weigh under 4 lbs. this is enough to cover your costs. If your book weighs over 4 lbs. you will need to raise the price of your book to reflect the extra postage costs.

Shipping International: I have had very few problems with international shipments. If you decide to ship international, be aware of the costs and have a shipping scale handy, you can buying a shipping scale on ebay from this guy: GreatScales. Amazon only gives you one low price for covering postage on international orders. This price may not cover your costs. Amazon allows you to opt out of international shipping on a book to book basis, if your book does not fit into a Flat Rate Envelope, do not select the International Shipping option on Amazon. I keep a chart handy telling me how much it is going to cost me to ship to Canada and the rest of the world so I can input prices on ebay when listing. You can calculate prices on the usps.com website.

Media Mail is the most popular choice for books that weigh over 8 oz. Under 8 oz, it is cheaper to ship First Class Mail. Media Mail takes 4 – 14 days to arrive. Since Media Mail is so slow, I always ship within 2 days of receiving an order to minimize the customer wait.

Use professional packing materials. Do not use old cereal boxes or empty tissue boxes to ship items. Important: Do not wrap books in newspaper, the ink will rub off and damage the book.

The US Post Office

Important – Make friends with your local post office crew. You’ll see them everyday and you’ll need their help. They can make your life miserable, so don’t argue or pick fights with the folks at the Post Office. You can’t afford to be enemies with them.

Things your friendly post office crew can help you with:

  • Tubs to help you carry your books
  • Hampers for when you have extra large loads
  • Extra Supplies of Priority boxes, Flat Rate envelopes, Customs Forms and more
  • You can order Free Priority Mail Supplies on the usps.com website

Printing Postage Online

Printing postage online saves you time. Once you start selling several books per day, you’ll to want to start printing postage online. When you print your postage online, you won’t have to wait in line at the post office. You’ll drop your stuff, say hi, and then leave. You will also get a discount on Priority Mail and a discount on delivery confirmation.

I recommend www.endicia.com. It has a small monthly fee. Most other services (usps.com, paypal, amazon) charge extra for printing Media Mail postage.

You also need a Zebra Thermal Printer that uses 4” x 6” labels. Buy a used one on eBay from HippoVariety. I bought a refurbished one from them over 5 years ago and it’s still running strong. I buy my labels from Trek.CompuLabel.com. Buying topcoated labels is important because the post office sometimes will put a zip code sticker right over the address. If the label isn’t topcoated that sticker won’t come off and your package will be returned to you.

Shipping Station

A good shipping station consists of the following:

  • Multiple Box Sizes
  • Multiple bubble mailer sizes
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Packing Tape with dispenser
  • Scale
  • Box Cutter
  • Scrap Cardboard
  • Void Fill (blank newsprint, peanuts, foam, etc.)
  • Scotch Tape with dispenser

Your shipping station should be comfortable, easy to access, and not cramped. Try to make your shipping process as smooth as possible to avoid repetitive stress injuries and shipping mix-ups.

Important Tips for Serious Businesses

If you plan to turn bookselling into a business, here are some must follow tips:

  • If you sell on eBay, you need a paypal account or you will get no sales
  • Choose a business name to use across all sites, including your own website. Check GoDaddy to see if the website name is available.
  • Buy your domain on GoDaddy.com
  • Open a business account at your local bank.
  • Have a business credit card that pays cash back
  • Register your business with your state.
  • Register your business with the Feds and get an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Blogs to Read

Book Think
Weber Books – Selling Books
Sell Your Books Online

Books to Read

Selling Used Books Online (A little dated but some good info)
The Home Based Bookstore
Book Finds, 3rd Edition: How to Find, Buy and Sell Used and Rare Books
Online Bookselling: A Practical Guide with Detailed Explanations
How to Sell Books on Amazon The Stay at Home Mom’s Secret Guide
Selling Online: How to Start a Home-Based Business Selling Used Books, DVDs, and More
Tax Loopholes for eBay Sellers (great advise for all small businesses!)
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Skip McGrath Sell Used Books on eBay, Amazon and the Internet

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In Closing

Slinging books is not a glamorous job. You get dirty, your nails get broken, you throw out your back once in awhile, your eyes dry out from using the computer too much, and your hands crack because the books have sucked all the moisture out of them. Booksellers and book buyers are an odd bunch. You will realize this by going to your first few library sales. When books sell for .50 cents a pop it brings out some strange creatures. If this all sounds fun to you (I think it is!) your best approach is to dive right in. Start researching some of your own books and see what you can sell them for. The great thing about bookselling is you don’t need to spend much to get started, but there is a learning curve bringing it to the next level . You can figure it out by trial and error and by reading about selling books online.

Good Luck and Have Fun!


Anger, Passion, and Pragmatism

Anger is a negative emotion with a positive side. It makes you vulnerable, but it reveals passion. It can result from a deep sense of justice and honesty. The best way to reduce anger is to become pragmatic and practical. But pragmatism kills passion. I wonder where we’d be today if Churchill had been a pragmatist instead of a stubborn visionary.

I’ve never had a lot of time for pragmatism.

To me, Pragmatism means – doing what works instead of doing the right thing. The problem with a pragmatic approach to life… is…

YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL WORK AND WHAT WON’T, UNTIL YOU TRY!

If you fail, so what? Get up, modify your plan, and try again.

In general, the only reason something is impossible is because someone has decided it is impossible.

Pragmatism is a common tactic to dismiss dreams, to stifle innovation, and to crush creativity.

“But we can’t do that! It isn’t practical!”

Phooey!


How to Live Longer and Healthier

So you want to live longer? Healthier? Happier? The first thing you should do is…

Get off your butt! Stand up! Quit sitting so much! There, I said it. It sounds too simple doesn’t it? But it’s a fact - Sitting for long periods is killing you regardless of your exercise regimen.

According to this study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology:

  • Regardless of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Regardless of physical activity - Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Women who sat more than 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.
  • Combined with lack of physical activity – Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 48% more likely to die prematurely than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day.

My Personal Story

I’m open to trying new ideas to see if they can improve my well being and my productivity, so a few months ago I put together a sit/stand workstation in my office. Today I spend 80% of my work day standing.

Here’s what happened:

  • I’ve dropped 3 pounds without changing anything in my lifestyle
  • I sleep better at night
  • I have more energy during the day
  • For over six years I’ve had joint pain in my knees and my hips. It’s gone.
  • For years, I’ve had dull pains in my abdomen, just under my ribs. It’s gone.
  • I’m more productive while standing
  • I feel I’m more creative while standing
  • I can’t imagine ever going back to sitting at a computer all day

The Information Age Changed Everything

Years ago sitting wasn’t as common as it is today. When we were an agrarian society, we had to get up early and work on the farm or we’d starve. During the industrial revolution we stood on our feet working the factory floor, but in the information age, many of us spend 8-10 hours a day on our butt in front of a computer, spend 45 minutes in the gym, and then spend the rest of the evening sitting in front of the TV, or a video game, or a computer again. We have to make a living writing, or programming, or building websites, or helping others on the internet. So how can we change?

  • We have to stand up at our computers!
  • We have to stand up when we game!
  • We have to stand up when we write!
  • We have to stand up when we program!

Burn Double the Calories

According to Marc Hamilton (associate professor of biomedical sciences at University of Missouri-Columbia) simply standing up will burn double the calories while talking on the phone or watching a sporting event. I assume the same is true of using a computer.

Fend Off Disease

A growing body of evidence shows that sitting for long periods increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. See this article about the link between sitting and diabetes and cancer, and this article about the link between sitting and heart disease.

Stand Up and Build your Health Consciousness

35 years ago, science began delivering data that smoking was killing us. Since then the smoking rate has dropped from 60% to 20%. Similar health benefits can be gained by creating a sit/stand culture in your company, at home, at school, and anywhere else we spend too much time sitting. This doesn’t need 35 years to take hold. Changing the way we work is easy and relatively inexpensive (ask me how). With most lifestyle related changes, you have the power. You get to decide what you eat. You get to decide not to smoke. You get to decide to exercise. Now you need to decide to stand up while you work! If you own a business, create sit/stand workspaces at your company. If you don’t own a business, change your workspace. If your employer doesn’t understand, send them the facts about what sitting is doing to your health.

Join the Sit/Stand Uprising at:

http://juststand.org

If you’re interested in learning how you can stand more, send me a note via my contact page and I’ll see how I can help you.


Need a place to find the best self-improvement blog posts ever? One big list of inspiring geniuses? Well, here it is… my list of the best self-improvement posts ever:

1. - How to be Creative – Originally published in 2004 by Hugh Macleod at the Gaping Void. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing some of the best advice ever given freely over the internet. If you have read it, read it again…

2. - How to Make Money From Your Blog – If I had a dollar for every person who started blogging after reading this post… well… I could quit my job. This post motivated untold numbers of people to start blogging for money. Some of them have quit their jobs and rose to internet fame, others are squeaking out a modest income, and others gave up. This post tells you in specific detail how to get a blog off the ground and turn it into a business. But beware, Steve is brutally honest in this post.

3. - Zen To Done (ZTD): The Ultimate Simple Productivity System – This is a post you can put to use to improve you life immediately. In fact it is the beginning of a series of posts. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits lays out a productivity system that focuses on habits, action, structure, simplification, and goals. This post starts with 10 essential habits. At the end of the post you’ll see another post for the next entry in ZTD system. Or you could just click the link at the bottom and buy the eBook.

4. - How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour (Plus: A Favor) – Tim Ferris describes in detail how you can learn the basics of new language quickly through a method he calls deconstruction. This post is three years old now, but it is timeless.

5. - The Art of the Finish: How to Go From Busy to Accomplished – This post was written about three years ago on Scott H Young’s blog. It was written by Cal Newport who was a PhD student at MIT. He made the observation that many highly accomplished people did not have good productivity habits. What they did have is a common trait – they completed projects. They are compulsive finishers. That habit of finishing then unlocks opportunities and big scores. Cal gives us detail on completetion centric planning.

6. - 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do – Marc and Angel give us a comprehensive guide to self reliance and self-education. This huge list states a thing we should know how to do, tells us why we should know it, and then supplies us with the information to learn it. Man this must have taken Marc and Angel a long time to put together. Thanks, Marc and Angel!

7. - Do You Have Weirdo Syndrome? – I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt like a weirdo. Like I never quite fit in. I think about weird things, sometimes I wear the wrong clothes, and I have weird ideas. And when I try to fit in, I give up a part of myself and I still don’t fit in. Charlie Gilkey addresses this in a wonderful way – “You can’t be remarkable and fit in at the same time.”

8. - 120 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power – Luciano Passuello supplies us with a list of 120 things we can do starting today to help us think faster, improve memory, comprehend information better and unleash our brain’s full potential. Luciano also adds 35 more ideas from his readers.

9. - 279 Days to Overnight Success – This isn’t a blog post. It’s a 79 page pdf written by Chris Guillebeau about how he became a full-time writer and professional blogger in 279 days.

10. - 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job – This is by far one of the most visited blog posts ever written. Ever wonder why you should start a business? This advice isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you. If you are interested in working for yourself. This is a must read.

11. - How I Left the Rat Race (And You Can Too) – Glen Allsop is the real deal. If you want out of the rat race, listen the Glen, he’s done it, all before the age of 21. This post is really a series of posts that lead to another series of posts. If you’re serious about changing the way you live and the way you think about money, give these posts your attention as well - How I went from Nobody to Industry Expert and everything on ViperChill.com.

12. - The 99 Best Business Books: The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List – From the site: “MBA programs don’t have a monopoly on business knowledge: you can teach yourself everything you need to know to succeed in life and at work.” If you follow Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA program you can skip b-school and $150,000 loan; and get a world-class business education just by reading these books.

13. - Top 5 Ways to Build a Wonderful Life – I recall the day this post made the front page of Digg and Delicious. What a fantastic piece of writing. John Wesley wrote this back when he owned Pick the Brain. It’s short and simple and to the point.

14. – Fifty Success Habits – Craig Harper will tell you the hard core truth about self-improvement. It takes courage and work and sweat. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. This is one of his best posts, ever.

14. - Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life – Henrik Edberg publishes the Positivity Blog, and this is one of his best posts ever. Why? You’ll have to read it. He combines a series of quotes from the famous American writer Mark Twain, with 9 tips for living. Mark Twain was an odd duck and did things differently than others. That combined with his genius mind is what makes his advice so powerful. Mark Twain’s insight combined with Henrik’s commentary, gives us a real sense of what it takes to develop our potential.

15. - A Devious Trick to Handle Chronic Complainers – This is one of those simple pieces of advice I had known about years ago. It’s so simple it makes me laugh out loud. Complaining drives me nuts! Especially when there is nothing you can say or do to help the person complaining. They shoot down everything you suggest. No doubt, this piece of advice from Alexander Kjerulf AKA The Chief Happiness Officer, is golden.

16. - Relationships: 8 tips for finding the right thing to say in a difficult situation – The quality of our life is only as good as the quality of our relationships. Communication is key to creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project gives us 8 tips on communicating in difficult situations. It isn’t the easy situations that make or break us, but what we say and do when the situation is challenging.

17. - 106 Tips to Become a Master Connector – Donald Latumahina put together this list on his Life Optimizer blog. Donald summarized the best information he gleaned from the book Never Eat Alone and put them into 106 easily digestible tips. Relationship building is one of the critical components to success in business, success in life, and self-improvement. This is straight forward advice for the 21st century.

18. - How to Defrag Your Mind In 5 Easy Steps – I know one of my biggest problems is I have too much crap in my head competing for my attention – too many ideas. To move forward we’ve got to focus on the important stuff and follow through. Dragos Roua gives us a simple formula he uses to prioritize and move forward.

19. - How to Make Friends and Get a Social Life – To some people this stuff might seem obvious. But to many of us geeks with social anxiety we need this advice. Solid social skills are more important to happiness, financial success, and longevity than any other skill you can acquire. Chris at SucceedSocially.com offers critical advice for the shy, anxious, and awkward.

20. - Connect with Your Creative Writer – This one from Tina Su at Think Simple Now made the front page of Digg. She explains creativity and mental blocks, offers her 8 step plan to overcoming writers block, and finishes up by offering 13 tips to unlocking your creativity. Tina had a baby boy this year. Congrats Tina and good luck to you and your family.

21. - How to Travel Full-Time For Less Than $14,000 Per Year – No doubt travel is a key ingedients to self-improvement. Travel opens your eyes to opportunity, ideas, culture, diversity, and knowledge. This guest post by Nora Dunn on I Will Teach You to Be Rich, is a long, detailed, comprehensive guide to cheap travel.  She tells us how to save 80% on airfare, how to get free accommodations, how to work while travelling, and a host of other tips for cheap travel.

22. - 8 Destructive Thinking Patterns and How to Change Them – You know the cliche’ – I can be my own worst enemy? Steven Aitchison detail 8 ways your own thinking may be hurting you and others and how to change it. Steven has made several great posts about ending the negativity in our minds. Don’t forget to also check out 7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life and 10 Beliefs that could hold you back in life.

23. - 8 Harsh Truths that Will Improve Your Life – This is a guest post by Glen Allsop on Dumb Little Man that takes an original angle on the personal development subject. He takes a series of apparently negative truths about life, and draws lessons from them, positive lessons.

24. - The Best Way to Solve a Problem: Give Up – Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? I’m not giving it away, but this post is right on, sometimes you have to quit. It’s the only was to improve. Johnathan at the Illuminated Mind does a lot of posts that seem to offer counterintuitive advice, and in each case the advice is good.

25. - Six Conversational Habits to Ditch Today – These six tips are obvious, but very few of us have mastered them. They are bad habit we all need to break if we want quality communication and quality relationships. My favorite is –  stop seeking attention by complaining. Thanks Sara!

26. - Seven Can’t Miss Ways to Kick-Start the Writing Habit – This is simple and actionable advice on writing. Part of the writing process is simply sitting down and writing something… anything… this post will leave you with no excuse not to start writing now. Don’t forget to check the reader tips too.

Do you have enough to read now? No? Okay then, I also want to share a few of my favorite self-improvement books:

The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success by Marcus Buckingham

Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

Leadership the inner side of Greatness by Peter Koestenbaum

And a book on becoming a pro-blogger:

ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett


People always ask us the best way to buy used and discount books online, so I put together a how-to guide and published it on our new website booksmn.com.

We put together a 3000+ word guide that will show you with text and illustrations…

  • The best places to buy used books online
  • How to decide which seller to buy from
  • How to get the best price for the best service
  • How to get the best deal on shipping
  • How to minimize damage during shipping
  • How to ask questions before you purchase
  • Other hints and tips for getting a steal
  • What book conditions really mean

You can find the guide here: How to Buy Used and Discount Books Online. We hope you find it useful. Any and all feedback is appreciated.


I’m tired of everyone telling us how to save money. What we need is people telling us how to make money.

Like a lot of people today, maybe your budget is tight. Maybe you read Money Magazine looking for a few tips to get ahead. Or maybe you read Get Rich Slowly (one of my favorite blogs). Most money sources have oodles of tips on how to save money and make your fixed budget go further.

Common Tips About Money:

  • Cutting coupons
  • Eat out less
  • Quit buying books and use the public library
  • Bring a bag lunch to work
  • Shop at the Salvation Army and the Goodwill
  • Buy in bulk at a warehouse club
  • Refinance your home
  • Send away for rebates
  • Get DVDs from Redbox
  • Use 0% credit card offers
  • Increase your insurance deductible
  • Keep your used car
  • Limit gift giving
  • Take advantage of matching 401k funds
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Stop Smoking
  • Avoid late payments
  • Replace light bulbs
  • Buy energy efficient appliances

I’m sure you’ve read dozens more. These are great ideas, but… they won’t solve most people’s money problems. They’re too minuscule. Too incremental. They’re a good start at getting your debt under control, or dealing with a lost job, but in the long run, they won’t get you were you want to be. They are temporary fixes to a lifetime issue.

We all want more money for one reason… It gives us freedom to pursue our goals, to travel, to grow, and to create the life of our dreams.

If you focus all your attention and energy on saving money, you aren’t focusing on the solution. You are focusing on the problem. The solution is creating wealth. To create wealth, you need income and you need to grow it. So if you’re focused on coupons and light bulbs you aren’t focused on the long term. You’re focused on a band-aid fix.

What is Supply Side Home Economics?

In 1997, Christine and I decided we would focus 80% of our money consciousness on the supply side. That means – we focused on creating more income for our family – the supply side of money. That doesn’t mean we don’t negotiate. We recently reduced our phone service by $30 per month. We also cut our cable and internet bill by almost $500 a year without compromising service. Focusing on Supply Side Home Economics means spending 80% of your energy on generating income.

Think about it…

If you make $50,000 per year and you spend $50,000 per year, you’re broke. But if you increase your income to $70,000 and you don’t change a thing, you’re solving your money problem. The bigger problem is… too many people spend everything they make no matter how much, but that’s another blog post…

How to start?

Look for opportunity everywhere. Instead of spending an afternoon chasing down a 50 cent discount on milk, work on a business. Sell stuff on craigslist. Sell stuff on ebay. Create new internet sites. Look for ways to help other people get what they want.

As noble as conservation and frugality is, it doesn’t create economic growth. Hunkering down and not spending will not get the economy out of this slump. Creating wealth will. Likewise, hunkering down will not get you or your family on the path to prosperity. Focusing on growth will.

With the technology available today, at near zero cost, there is no reason why you or anyone else can’t create $500 – $1000 in new income in your spare time.

How do you get there?

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you have around the house you can sell?
  • What unique knowledge and life experience do you have?
  • How can you offer that knowledge and experience to others?
  • What value can you provide others?
  • How can you give them more value than you charge for your goods or services?
  • How can you help others sell their stuff?
  • How can you teach others your unique skills and knowledge?
  • How can you gain valuable specialized knowledge?
  • What makes you unique and how can you offer that to others?

Economic Fact:

When you create more wealth for yourself, it makes us all wealthier. It isn’t zero sum. The pie grows for everyone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. So help humanity by making yourself wealthier. Here’s a great place to start (don’t let the hyped up title throw you off, it’s great).


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