I helped a homeless man and felt worse about myself

Disclaimer: I posted this on Facebook in March 2016. This is unedited. When I think about this story, I don't tell it so I look like a saint. I tell it because this was an experience where I was unsure of right and wrong, and what it means to be homeless.

I hope you enjoy reading and find your own lessons in it.

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I was walking home a couple of days ago when I noticed this homeless man in a wheelchair in the middle of the street. Like "blocking traffic" in the middle of the street. So I went over to him and asked if he needed help getting to the curb.

He said he was going all the way to Jack in the Box (about 0.4 miles away), so I rolled my eyes, but then decided to give him a push anyways. I felt bad for him. His jacket was grey, his odor potent, and I swear there was a fly around him. But I had some free time, so I grabbed onto the handles of the wheelchair and off we went.

He told me his name was Kevin Ware, former minor league baseball player and player at USC. I have no ideas if these are lies or not, because I know nothing about baseball. He looks tall enough sitting down, so I believe him. He told me he played with the greats in high school, and that he misses those times. Now his family is all gone, and it's just him in these streets. Just last year he was hit by a car, hence the wheelchair. He asks me about where I'm from and how I like it here. Standard conversation.

People in the street start staring at me. I see a guy literally walk forward for 30 seconds while keeping his head towards me. I guess it's not everyday you see a young Asian guy pushing around an old black guy in a wheelchair.

We start talking about music and he seemed to like the oldies, so I told him about how I love Nat King Cole. A few minutes later and we're bellowing out Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" on 30th Street.

I ask him if he wants a new shirt, and he says yes, so I bring him to Goodwill and find a Clippers t-shirt. As I'm waiting in line, I notice the Spanish mother behind me looks at him in disapproval. He leaves a puddle underneath his wheelchair as he leaves.

Kevin tells me he's hungry so I wheel him into KFC and buy him the cheapest thing I can find with the highest calorie count. I get him some food and some nearby people tell me I'm doing a good thing. It feels awkward for some reason. I'd "done my part" as a civilian, so I wished him farewell as I had a meeting to attend to.

But then he asks for another time, "can you push me back home?".

I don't want to sound mean, but I had already given this guy an hour of my time, some new clothes, some food, and now he wants to ask for another favor from me?

I say I can't and he seems irked and turns the other way. I tell him that I hope he gets better from this day on. I skate away and that's that. I'll never know if he was telling the truth about anything but I'll give him benefit of the doubt. I just know by the end of this experience, that I never want to be in his position. It just makes me all the more thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me.

You're a better person when you blame yourself

This title is not meant to be click-baity.

Your life really gets so much easier when you blame yourself.

See it's all about what you give your power to.

When you're young, a lot of you get told that "oh it's not your fault, there's nothing you could have done about that." We tell that to kids who just failed a test. We tell that to teens who apply and end up getting rejected from jobs.

It's a way to protect them from feeling shame.

Because when you say that there was nothing you could have done, it lets you off the hook.

"Well, if I couldn't do any better then why should I try something different?"

"I should just keep doing the same thing and hope luck turns in my favor this time."

Kids don't have to take responsibility for things anymore. Nowadays, the situations are more like this:

  • The economy is the reason why you can't get a job. It's definitely not because you're an average student and never learned how to effectively sell yourself to an HR manager.
  • The rich and 1%ers are the reason why you're poor. And that's definitely not because you never learned how to pick up new skills to provide businesses with real value.
  • The job and money you make right now is why you're unhappy. And that's definitely not because you haven't figured out how to enjoy the people around you and the present moment.

Do you see a common theme happening?

You know these people. They're always blaming something else for being the reason why they aren't where they want to be. Maybe it's a bad boss, a shitty job, a terrible boyfriend or girlfriend.

Sometimes you indulge in these complaining sessions as well. They're fun. Being helpless to the world and complaining is the in thing to do.

But when you actually blame yourself for things you can control... well then there's magic.

You start to view failures as tests.

Every failure you experience is just a way for you to see, what went wrong, what you did right, and how you can eliminate more of the things you did wrong.

You don't blame anyone else, you just accept that it happened.

You take it upon yourself to change the world, not waiting for presidents or politicians to change the world. It's you who has the power to change things when you shoulder the blame.

Blaming yourself is taking responsibility. It insinuates that things were in your control, you just didn't pay enough attention. You could have done better, so now you know that and it's time to figure out what your next steps are.

Obviously there are some freak accidents, where it's true. You couldn't change the outcome. It was not in your control.

Don't ever feel guilty for something you couldn't stop.

But be honest with situations you can control.

Don't trick yourself into believing for one second that your life is ruled by other people.

I can bet you that you can control a lot more than you probably think. You are the king of your own domain. Once you understand how much power you have, you'll realize how powerless other people feel.

It's your job to give those people that power.

Why don't the people around you believe they can change the world like you do?

Blame yourself.

* * *

I leave you with one of my favorite clips from Rocky IV. It's a must watch.

Advertising To People Who Actually Want To Listen - Evan's Facebook Ads Series Part 4

The best feature of Facebook Ads is its ability to target people specifically by characteristics.

So if you were a U.S. brand trying to sell trendy fitness gear, your audience profile would probably look like:

  • People located in US
  • People aged 18-34
  • People who like fitness
  • People who like Crossfit, powerlifting, and paleo
  • People with income <$40,000
  • People who like sports, leagues, or athletes

You don't have to waste money hoping that this person walks by your billboard or listens to you ad. You don't have to waste money showing your ad to people who would never care.

How deep can you customize your customer profile?

Here's a snazzy little graphic I grabbed off the internet.

 Click the image to find a link to download.

Click the image to find a link to download.

Pretty small, right?

So now, you know how to:

  1. Find a killer image to intrigue your audience
  2. Write copy that provides value
  3. Target the right people for your ad

And with that, you're probably in the top 25% of people in terms of Facebook Advertising knowledge. Pat yourself on the back. No, seriously.

The bar is pretty low.

All you really need to do is create your own ad and see what happens using $5 for your budget. Then you can pretty much claim that you know how to use Facebook Marketing for a company.

Good luck out there!

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Hope you enjoyed this mini-series!

4 Tips To Writing Copy That Hooks - Facebook Ads Series Part 3

Now that you have your audience interested, you have to seduce them with your words.

How important is copy, really?

Super important.

Like if it sucks, then no one will want to like it, share it, click on it, marry it, or anything. It will fall into the graveyard of ads that people simply pass by on.

Great Facebook ad copy is what separates 10 people clicking on your ad to 1,000 people clicking on it. The great thing about Facebook is that you can test out different variants of copy, to see which one resonates best with your audience.

Let's go on it. When it comes to writing copy for Facebook ads:

1. Keep it Short.

Why are people on Facebook? To stalk their ex. But also because they have short attention spans and need variety and a barrage of cool things to quench their boredom.

But since their attention spans are so low, it also means that you have to make your ad stand out even more.

That's why I've found that it's best to keep your copy short and punchy.

Ain't nobody got time for huge paragraphs.

2. Lead with Value.

Don't just be another internet marketer. There's hundreds of them begging for people to buy their stuff.

The only way you can stand out, is by providing them what they want to hear.

You need to be able to identify your audience's deepest desires, and their pain points, and speak out to them. An important distinction to make is give them what they want, not what they need.

For example, don't try to sell a workout plan by saying "you'll get better in 3 months if you go 3x a week!". Think about what marketers do right now -- they promise washboard abs in 30 days.

A scam? Maybe. But it taps into the desires of the customer.

3. Have a Call-to-Action.

These are really hard to start writing when you're new to copywriting.

But trust me, they make a difference.

So a Call-to-Action (CTA) is when you literally tell the user what you want them to do. ("Click on this link below to get 50% off!") It sounds ridiculous, but it helps the user understand what the next step is to get what they want.

I don't know the science behind this, but I believe it's because consumers don't want to think too hard to get their solutions. They just want them. So the less you make them have to think, the easier it becomes to cooperate.

Just a theory.

4. Write for your Audience.

In part 4, we'll discuss how to use Facebook's Ad Targeting to put your ad in front of exactly the type of person you want.

If you wanted to sell diapers to single moms in Boston who play tennis and have incomes above $75,000, you literally could do that on Facebook Ads. It's amazing.

So that also allows you to speak directly to your audience.

You have to think: what would a single mom in Boston want to hear?

Once you can figure that question out, you're off to the races.

Bonus: Test, Test Test.

There's no reason you shouldn't be testing different variants of copy.

You never know what words will resonate with people at any level of the game.

I'll talk to you guys next time when we talk about the coolest part about Facebook Ads Marketing: audience targeting.

How to Choose A Facebook Ad Image That Resonates - Evan's Facebook Ads Basics Part 2

Think of your image as the lure that catches your audience's attention.

They may just be swimming around their Facebook feed until a snazzy image catches their eyes.

"Oh what is this?"

THAT moment is what you want to capitalize on with your image. You want to get them attracted to read or skim your text (also known as "copy"). According to Hubspot, ads with images do 94% better than ads without images.

Think about it: if you're just scrolling down your feed, what's going to grab your attention?

This?

Or this?

It's probably the second one right?

It's not only the quality of the burgers that makes you want the second one, it's the quality of the photo. It's striking, it has color, and it looks fresh.

That's how you want to draw audience in.

The more people notice your "lure" the more people will be willing to give your ad a shot.

The picture is you earning your audience's attention.

You can do this by following these rules:

  1. Find some really good stock images (my favorite free ones) or better yet, take them yourself if you have a good camera!
  2. See how they look in different dimensions and placements on the feed by following Facebook's Design guidelines here.
  3. When you're creating your ads, test out different photos to see which ones perform best. We call this A/B testing, because we keep everything else the same, but we see the difference a change (an image for example) makes.

Next post, I'll talk about the juicy stuff: the ad copy!

The first thing a user sees is the image. That's what gets them to pay attention.

The second thing they notice is the copy: that's where you hook them in.

Evan's Basics of Facebook Advertising - A Series!

Before you were swimming underneath your daddy's polka-dots, advertisers would spend huge amounts of money on random ads. Billboards, TV spots, radio endorsements, you name it. All forms of trying to get you to buy things.

But there was only one problem: they had no clue who would see the ad.

You had no idea who's going to pass by that billboard, watch that TV spot, or listen to that radio endorsement.

There was no guarantee of return.

And it was costly. I'm talking thousands of dollars and up.

If you had an awesome new product (organic juice, t-shirts, or your band), it would be incredibly unrealistic to consider any of the above options.

But we don't face that situation today.

Paid advertising is cheaper than ever and you can target exactly who needs to see it. This is thanks to social media advertising. Today I'm going to talk about one of the most powerful advertising platforms: Facebook Ads.

Facebook has a user base of over 1 billion people.

That's a lot of people you can reach without being physically limited. You get access to people in Canada, in California, in Massachusetts, wherever. On their platform, you can reach these people while also having the ability to:

  1. Pay $10 to advertise (dirt cheap).
  2. Target based on age, location, sex, and interests.
  3. Learn from automatic statistics on how many people engaged with your ads and products.

This is groundbreaking for startups.

Actually this is groundbreaking for anyone who wants to sell things, anyone who wants to get people to come to an event, and anyone who wants to learn advertising.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to break down the essential things you need to know to start using Facebook ads in a professional capacity.

This is a very learnable skill that you can pick up in a couple of hours and feel confident adding it to your skill set on LinkedIn. You don't have to be a master, you just have to be good enough to start using it.

If you're interested in digital marketing in any capacity, this is a great primer to start gaining skills in the world of paid social media advertising.

I'm going to focus on 3 things in particular:

  1. Picking an Image
  2. Writing Copy
  3. Targeting

These are the main things you should focus on to get the most out of your ads. They will be super digestable short guides and I'll reference links to resources that have helped me. By the end of the series, you should feel comfortable starting your own Facebook Ads Manager account and advertising something for $5.

I'll see you on Thursday with the first guide: How to Choose An Facebook Ad Image That Resonates.

Quick hack for managing your online presence

The web is often construed as this one giant place things get lost. You can post something and it disappears into the ether. Someone can post something about you on the internet and you'd never even know it.

Until today.

One little known secret is that you can monitor anytime a website posts something about you.

How is this possible?

Google Alerts.

 This is my setup here. Feel free to add these alerts to your account if you're obsessed with getting the latest scoop on me!

This is my setup here. Feel free to add these alerts to your account if you're obsessed with getting the latest scoop on me!

Whenever anything about you gets posted to a website online, Google Alerts will let you know by sending an email to you.

Amazing if you're a writer who's content might get referenced somewhere else.

Also, if you're doing work for a company and your job is to manage their PR (public relations), this is a solid way to track if and where you're getting coverage. This is just one of many useful tools for being in the know about what people think about your company.

So quick one from me today, but hope that helps you manage your online presence better!

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Side note: I won an Amazon Echo Dot today! Anyone have any fun use cases with it?

We don't need teachers, we need mentors

Pretend for one second that mandatory public school didn't exist.

What would that look like?

You'd have to answer these 3 questions:

  1. What would kids do in the absence of school?
  2. What would teachers do in the absence of school?
  3. What would the community do in the absence of school?

If kids had no school, I feel that most people would assume it looks like this:

But I picture something different.

Maybe if kids didn't have to spend 45 hours/week in class (assuming a 7-hr school day + 2 hrs of homework/day) they could be exploring the interests that matter to them most.

  • Maybe this does result in video games all day.
  • Maybe this results in 3 extra hours of violin practice.
  • Maybe this results in a full 8-hour session of physics and quantum mechanics.

We don't know. What people are interested in is unpredictable, but that's the beauty of it. Maybe they get that extra time to be with their families. Or they just goof around one day. No ones hurt because of it, yet children are made to feel guilty for indulging in anything that is not science, math, or social studies, etc.

Maybe all of the pressure that causes depression in teens would subside when they don't get the chance to base their value off of grades.

On to question 2.

I believe that with teachers, there would be a separation: good teachers would continue to teach through books, online courses, and seminars. Mediocre teachers would not survive the teaching market and have to do some other type of job.

When there are no teachers (aka babysitters) of our kids, who would the kids look to for guidance?

The community.

They would look for mentors in the community who mirrored their goals or values. Mentorship from people who's lifestyle consists of more than just grading papers and giving presentations can be so valuable for the right kid.

A kid who looks up to their local firefighter could spend her days "apprenticing" for the fire department, and learning the ins-and-outs of rescue, responsibility, and the importance of details.

She would gain valuable skills and be free to leave and learn from someone else if the relationship is no longer beneficial for both parties.

What happens today is that kids are forced to interact with individuals who spent their whole lives learning how to teach academics. Unless you grew up wanting to be a teacher, what incentive do you have to want to learn from this person?

We want to learn from people we respect.

We want to learn from our mentors, not our teachers.

We want to learn from people who we aspire to be like.

I Got My Salesforce Certification

It happened.

 Oh yeah.

Oh yeah.

My goal has always been to help companies I believe in grow. I want to be an asset to startups to help them scale with their data, business processes, and organizational structure.

This is why I chose to study Salesforce.

It's a cloud-based software that helps companies manage sales, service, marketing, analytics, and app-building. There are so many capabilities that you can use it for, and it can automate nearly any process. That's why it's so valuable to companies -- it can allow 10 people to do the work of 100.

Here's how it went down:

I study all of last month, about 1-4 hours a day just hammering in the concepts.

I drive to my test center all confident. I've put my hours in, there's no way I can fail. I open up the online test.

My confidence drops.

Most of the questions I have no idea what the right answer was, but I use my good intuition of what the right answer should be.

I just need a 65% to pass.

I review the test multiple times. I gather the courage to press the submit button.

I wait for the results screen... I passed.

That's when I learned this really odd lesson:

Studying is just a way for you to make better guesses.

I didn't know all of the answers, but I made way better guesses by studying for hours everyday. That's sort of what life is: work really hard and study so that you can make better guesses in business, life, and relationships.

I'm now a Salesforce Certified Admin! This is just one step on the way to building my own company in the future. I'm going to use this certification to do freelance work, build up my understanding of how other companies run, and overall get more comfortable consulting.

 

How I Almost Got Involved In A Ponzi Scheme (MLM)

It's so easy to get roped in by your desires.

I know this really well.

I was almost a peg in someone's pyramid scheme.

What is a pyramid scheme?

Also known as multi-level marketing (MLM) or Ponzi schemes, this is a type of business where the people on top directly receive a commission from the people below them. So when the employee sells one of the company's products, the boss receives a direct chunk of that profit.

It's an extremely exploitative business structure, that is actually illegal in many countries.

They tempt you with "being your own boss", platinum/diamond status, and being able to hire people under you as well. There's a lot of incentives to do it.

I was actually a little embarrassed to tell this story, because I was close to doing it. I feel like it has to be told though, so that other people don't get roped into this scam as well.

How a Ponzi scheme works

What happens first is you're identified online and told that you have a lot of potential. This is to butter you up and make you feel like you could actually make a living doing this.

You have to pay a membership fee to join.

If they successfully convince you to join an MLM, your job is to sell a bunch of shitty products that no one's ever heard about. You're encouraged by other MLMers to sell to your friends and family. This will surely ruin your relationships.

You will earn little profit. Other MLMers will tell you that the key is to recruit more people to sell under you. If you want to screw over and basically enslave people, then you will identify individuals online and try to rope them into this trap.

The person who brought you in to the MLM will profit off of you AND those you recruited.

It's a sick game and I'm glad I had the friends and self-knowledge to say no. I feel bad because this structure exploits hard-working people by promising so many things.

I just want to give a warning.

Stay away from MLMs.

Also, friends don't let friends do MLMs.

If you want to learn more about why MLMs are a scam, check out this podcast on The Art of Charm.

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Stats about MLMs to make you mad (from Pink Truth)

  • 99% of all distributors in these companies earned on average less than $13 a week in commission income. (In 10 of the 11 companies, the commissions were less than $10 a week.) This isn’t even enough money to cover the minimum purchases they’re required to make in order to “qualify” for commissions.
  • Recruitment into these companies is largely based upon the offer of an “income opportunity,” yet these statistics show that the income opportunity is essentially non-existent and falsely promoted.
  • The losses of 99% of the distributors are transferred to less than 1% of the people at the top of the sales chain as “commissions.”
  • The companies studied have essentially non-existent or unfeasible retail sales opportunities (i.e. participants can’t make much money selling the products because they’re overpriced).
  • The promise of profit from retail sales by MLM sales representatives to consumers is the basis for the industry’s claim that it is a form of “direct selling,” yet virtually no multi-level marketing companies sell significant amounts of their products to the public and are therefore not in the “direct selling” business.
  • Commission pay plans in these companies send most of the money to the very top levels:. One of the largest MLMs in the world sends 84% of all commissions to the top 1% of its distributor chain. What chance would the newest recruits at the bottom have to earn a profit?
  • In half of the 10 companies, 70% or more of participants earned no income at all. For example, 96% of Arbonne’s sales representatives never earn any commissions at all. 80% of YTB’s “agents” also earned no commission at all.