Category Archives: Uncategorized

Encore Episode: The Fine Art of Celebration

How to Fuel Your Team with Affirmation

Encore Episode: The Fine Art of Celebration

Celebration may cost a bit of time and money, but it is well worth it. If you invest the effort in celebrating with your team, that effort will be more than repaid in improved morale and increased productivity. In this episode, we’re going to explore the who, what, when, where, why, and how of celebrating-especially with your team.

While Michael and Megan are on a July sabbatical, we’ve hand-picked a few of the most popular episodes of the podcast for you to enjoy. We’ll be back with more great content in August.

Advertisements

The Science of Reading

What your brain does when you crack that summer novel

The Science of Reading

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “reader,” you read all the time. Signs, instructions, articles, bills, blogs, newspaper headlines and grocery lists all depend on literacy. Literature is the icing on the cake. Reading permeates so much of our lives, and yet human civilization has only been literate for a tiny sliver of our history.

Ancient texts suggest that writing and reading had already been developed in Mesopotamia roughly 5,000 years ago, but it is only in the last 300 years that literacy rates have skyrocketed. Why did it take thousands of years to bring reading to the masses?

Put simply, our brains were not made to read.

The reading brain

Most of us have forgotten the work we put into learning to read because, once learned, the practice is natural and automatic. So automatic, in fact, that it is nearly impossible not to read when you look at a familiar word.

As children, reading is far from automatic. We all spent hours with Mrs. D and Mr. P. We sang the ABC song while we were learning to count. We had books read to us before we could speak. Our most important tasks, for years, included sounding out words, spelling, and mastering increasingly complex reading tasks.

We spent all this time learning and practicing because the capacity to read is not a native feature of the human brain. Intensive training created complex connections that otherwise would not exist. Today, modern tools have given us a glimpse into the permanent changes we create in our brains when we learn to read.

The capacity to read is not a native feature of the human brain.

-ERIN WILDERMUTH

Tweet Quote

EEG explorations

An EEG reading is a visual representation of your mind’s electric orchestra. Key notes, or high-volume evidence of inter-related activity in response to sensory inputs, are called event-related potentials (ERPs). Though analysing EEG results and identifying the mechanisms at work in ERP is a tricky business, a 2009 study delves into the electric brain patterns of reading.

The study looks specifically at word recognition, an essential component of reading, and finds that this seemingly simple process includes at least three ERP. First, you need to see the word. Cue visual cortex. Next, you need to apply an understanding of how words work. (In what order are letters read? What is spelling?) Enter sublexical orthographic coding. Finally, you need to map this understanding to the word at hand using phonology. These distinct activities, researchers believe, make up the three ERP identified in the EEG signals of reading.

Bottom line: Word recognition is incredibly complex.

MRI activation findings

Beyond brainwaves, researchers are interested in which parts of the brain are activated in reading. This is especially important in identifying the neurological basis of learning disabilities like dyslexia, a language-based learning disability that impacts roughly 10 percent of people.

A 2014 study comparing the brains of non-impaired readers to dyslexic readers found differing patterns of activity. Non-impaired readers had strong activation in posterior regions of the brain and weaker activation in an anterior region called Broca’s Area. Dyslexic readers showed the opposite pattern of activation. Broca’s Area has been most strongly associated with speech, not reading, which might explain why dyslexia impairs reading skills.

Researchers believe that the posterior regions are important for connecting sounds to letters and making automatic phonetic connections, precisely the tasks where dyslexic readers struggle. Though we aren’t certain of the reason for overactivation in Broca’s area, it wouldn’t be the first example of a brain compensating for one weakness by relying on alternative strengths.

Reading is an essential ingredient in our great success as a species.

-ERIN WILDERMUTH

Tweet Quote

Structural evidence of reading

Scientists have also found that reading changes the very structure of your brain. In a 2018 study of 21 children, researchers measured word reading fluency and sentence comprehension. They then compared proficiency in these skills to cortical thickness. They found proficiency in word reading correlated with increased thickness in four distinct parts of the brain. Thickness was observed in two other parts of the brain in correlation with superior sentence comprehension.

Equally interesting, researchers were able to predict proficiency in phonetic representation, phonological awareness, and orthography-phonology mapping skills by looking at the cortical thickness of respectively associated brain regions.

Beyond reading

Reading is an essential ingredient in our great success as a species. It has allowed information sharing on a historically unparalleled scale. Complex invention, collaboration, and technology are all supported by the written word. Though correlation doesn’t equate to causation, our advances as a species have evolved in parallel to our ability to read.

Harvard University neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf has a theory. Not only were we “never meant to read,” but reading has initiated a man-made evolution of the human brain. Given the studies documenting very real changes that occur in our brains when we learn to read, science appears to agree with her. If the last 300 years are any estimation of our future evolution as a species, the future is looking wordy – and bright!

Why This Hi-Tech Career Mom Loves Her Side Hustle

Why This Hi-Tech Career Mom Loves Her Side Hustle

In my professional career, I was often involved in designing or contracting out website development. In the early days, we built ‘beautiful’ websites to convey messages about the company and its products, just like an online brochure. It amazes me how many serious companies stop there, even today.

Despite her professional experience with creating websites, hi-tech business executive Ayelet Porat said she only understood how the Internet worked after she found Solo Build It! (SBI!).

Following SBI!’s timeless principles of creating high-quality content around in-demand topics, she no longer needed to rely on advertising or SEO tricks to get traffic to her website.

She could even apply what she learned at the start-up companies she worked at. But let’s back up a bit. Why does a sought-after hi-tech sales manager start a website about Tel Aviv? And how did she develop this side-hustle into a steadily growing additional income stream?

That are just some of the questions we asked Ayelet in our exclusive interview.

1. Ayelet, you are a successful hi-tech business executive. What made you decide to build an online business? And why about Tel Aviv?

I was an ambitious hi-tech sales manager for many years. I enjoyed my work, but once I started a family, I found the juggling act between being a good Mom and a successful business executive quite difficult to manage.

At various points in my career, I tried out different solutions to achieve a better work-family balance:

  • I worked and employed an au-pair to help with the kids and housework.
  • I stopped working completely.
  • I purposely went “down” the career ladder.
  • I worked as an external consultant.

I constantly struggled and dreamt about finding the best solution. Starting an online business seemed like a great step in the right direction.

Why write about Tel Aviv? There are a zillion topics that interest me. I considered genealogy, which is something I love, but I don’t feel I’m enough of an expert in this field. I toyed with the idea of writing about my professional field of expertise, enterprise hi-tech sales, but I wanted a break from that!  

In the early days of my website, I partnered with my good friend Nathalie, a hi-tech marketing gal. Both of us had moved to Tel Aviv many years ago, she from Paris and I from New York. We both loved Tel Aviv.

After keyword research with SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool, we saw that it was a good topic. And that was that.

Mom Side Hustle
Ayelet and her daughter Eden on their way to Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market.
TAKEAWAY #1: If you are a working mom (or dad!), you can probably empathize with Ayelet. Balancing a demanding career with family life, especially when your kids are young, is quite the challenge.

Should you stop working completely, switch to a less demanding position, reduce to part time, or find a work-from-home opportunity? It’s not an easy decision to make. You’ll have to consider the financial and personal consequences carefully.

Ayelet tried several options and finally found her ideal solution – starting an online business. It brought her the benefits she was looking for:

  • She can work from home, at her own pace.
  • It gives her a nice break from her job, as the topic has nothing do with her career.
  • It has the potential to grow into a full or partial replacement of her current income.

2. Despite your professional experience with creating websites, you said you only began to understand how the Internet worked after you found Solo Build It!. Can you tell us more about that?

In my professional career, I was often involved in designing or contracting out website development. In the early days, we built “beautiful” websites to convey messages about the company and its products, just like an online brochure. It amazes me how many serious companies stop there, even today.

TAKEAWAY #2: This amazes us, too! Although it’s probably no wonder, given how much emphasis popular website builders like Wix and Squarespace place on “stunning websites.” As if a beautiful look alone would generate traffic and income!

It does not. In recent head-to-head studies we learned that SBI! members are 33X more likely to build high-traffic sites than Squarespace users, and 115X more likely than Wix users.

When site owners don’t get the results they expected from those “beautiful” sites, they have to either pay for traffic or try all kinds of techniques – some questionable, and all of them short lived – to get at least some visitors to their sites. Let’s hear what Ayelet has to say about that topic…

Over time, we learned about search engine optimization (SEO). We started using keywords and we invested in buying ads to generate leads. Many of our external consultants used all kinds of SEO tricks to generate traffic.

But thanks to SBI!, I understood the logic behind the internet rather than search engine “tricks.” I was even able to apply what I learned from SBI! at the startup companies I worked at. Things like…

  • How the basic business principle of supply and demand is just as relevant in the internet, and can be applied to select the best keywords to write about to attain high scoring pages.
  • How to always consider who your typical target reader is, and how to write great content so that he/she will want to continue reading. Not just readers will love that, search engines will notice and send more traffic.
  • How to present great content based on proven internet reading habits.
TAKEAWAY #3: Solo Build It!’s philosophy has always been to work with the search engines, not against them. “Keep it real and add value!” – that’s the motto behind everything we teach.

It starts with researching and refining the best possible niche for your interests, goals and time availability, and ends with planning, implementing and optimizing the best monetization methods. In between there’s a lot of writing outstanding content, tailored to the needs of your audience, building up trust with your readers, and much more.

All of this is explained step-by-step in SBI!’s 10-Day Action Guide. No guessing, and no tricks involved. You’ll know exactly what to do, and how to do it, every step along the way.

Mom Side Hustle - Jaffa
View of Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s ancient port city.

3. Tell us about your philosophy regarding content. How do you know what your prospective customers are looking for? Where does this information come from?

I choose to write content based on keyword results and research using Brainstormer.

There are two main exceptions. I sometimes publish pages that may not have an ideal score as part of my cooperation with a referral/finder that generates an income stream.

The other exception is if I have a guest writer who is willing to contribute content on a topic that I am not familiar with, or which I would have a hard time researching. For example, I was recently contacted by someone writing a neat, new website on hiking in Israel.

Besides exchanging links, he wrote me a page (which I always reserve the right to edit) and supplied great photos. So even though the page’s keyword demand is relatively low, my time investment is quite low too.

TAKEAWAY #4: With “Brainstormer” (part of Brainstorm It!), Ayelet refers to one of the many integrated tools that are part of every SBI! subscription.

The Brainstorm It! tool spares the solopreneur the time-consuming, laborious process of developing and researching hundreds of keywords (topics and subtopics) that become the website’s theme.

It also brings back demand and supply numbers for each keyword. You’ll know how many people search for this term (demand) and how many web pages are already talking about it (supply or competition). Ideally, you want to write about topics that have high demand and low supply.

But – computers cannot think. They collect and report data with incredible efficiency. But they cannot ask themselves, “Does this make sense for my niche?”

So, at all times, “be like Ayelet!” Of course, do keyword research. And then, use your knowledge and understanding of your niche, and your passion for the subject, to make the final calls. If this also leads to a mutually beneficial relationship with a guest writer or a monetization partner, all the better.

4. You provide lots of information and resources for free. How do you “upgrade” people from being free-content seekers to paying customers?

All the content and resources I provide are free of charge. Aside from passive income, I am constantly thinking about what a tourist would be willing to pay for when they hit a website travel blog such as mine.

I consider what I would be willing to pay for if I were planning to travel somewhere, which is not much! I monetize by preselling and tempting customers with interesting services and products that they may not have thought of initially.

TAKEAWAY #5: Ayelet teaches us two important lessons here. First, put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Review every piece of content on your site (or in your newsletter or on social media) from the point of view of your “ideal customer.”

What information, product or service would be helpful to you if you were – to stay with Ayelet’s example – planning a trip to Tel Aviv?

Second, put your visitors in an “open to buy” frame of mind. How? By providing lots of highest quality information for free. Information that’s tailored to your readers’ needs and desires (see lesson #1), presented in your unique “voice.”

When your readers like what they see, they will come back, subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media. We call this process “PREselling.” It’s the crucial step that comes before monetizing.

Want to learn more about PREselling, developing your unique voice and how to connect with your readers in a genuine way? Download our eBook “Make Your Content PREsell!” for free here.

Mom Side Hustle - Carmel Market
On an exploration trip to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.

5. How many different income streams do you have? Which ones perform best?

My current income streams, in order of performance from highest to lowest are: finder’s fees, Amazon’s Associate Program, Google AdSense, and other affiliate programs.

Finder’s Fees – I make most of my income from finder’s fees, which I far prefer to affiliates because I earn at least 10% commission or more. The main possible “danger” is the need to have a solid trust relationship. I have several of these partnerships and am always on the lookout for more.  

Amazon – I sell a few books on Israel via Amazon, but the sales are low. I hit upon my Amazon “bestseller” by chance. I wrote a page about the electricity adaptor needed for Israel, and linked to relevant adaptors in Amazon. This became a hit and generates a nice, steady income. It seems so obvious but I would never have thought of it without Brainstormer.

Google AdSense – A few months ago I activated “auto ads,” a new AdSense feature, which doubled my earnings. I plan to continue with personalized ads in line with GDPR requirements.

Other Affiliate Programs – I work with affiliates for group tours, Israeli products, hotels, and more. Since I currently don’t have the time to develop my own products, I want to more actively promote Israeli products via suitable affiliate programs.

If I give up my day job or when I decide to retire, I will focus my monetization on creating products of my own to sell.

Mom Side Hustle - Amazon Promo Example

Ayelet promotes her “Amazon bestseller,” a travel adaptor for Israel, on a dedicated page, detailing her experience with the device. When a reader clicks on the link and buys the adaptor, Ayelet earns a commission. You can see the full page here.

TAKEAWAY #6: Feel overwhelmed by terms like finder’s fees, affiliates, associates program, auto ads and GDPR? Let alone by the idea of creating your own products to sell? Don’t be intimidated. Many solopreneurs start with zero knowledge about building a web-based business.

Even Ayelet, with her background as a high-tech business executive, admits that she only understood how “the Internet worked” after starting with SBI!. When you take the time to work through the Action Guide step-by-step, you’ll learn everything you need to know to become successful online.

For example, DAYs 4 and 10 of the Action Guide are focused on monetization. You’ll understand the various ways to earn an income with your website, from passive methods like advertising and affiliate marketing to active methods, like developing and selling your own products or services.

You’ll get a handy checklist to evaluate how suitable each method is for your niche and your personal circumstances. Building your business in your spare time, in addition to your day job? Start with passive monetization methods, which are easier to implement and maintain.

The more your “spare time” grows, e.g., by reducing to part-time or retiring, the more “active” you can go with your monetization methods.

6. How long did it take to start earning income from your online business?  Is it a full-time or a part-time income?

Go-TelAviv.com provides me a part-time income that continues to grow steadily. It took about a year to start seeing initial AdSense and affiliate income trickling in.

The biggest boost in revenue came when I started forming finder partnerships.

Given that I work only a few hours a week and have only written a mere 150 pages, the finder income is instrumental in generating some decent revenue.

TAKEAWAY #7: With “finder partnerships” Ayelet refers to the previously mentioned finder’s fees monetization model. It’s the online version of the good old “word of mouth” marketing: You know of a business or person who provides exactly the product or service your reader is looking for. You tell her about it. She uses the recommended service or buys the recommended product, and you get a commission for the referral.

The tricky part of the finder’s fee model is to ensure that you get paid for your referral. Because – unlike affiliate programs – there’s no automated system in place to track that this person was referred from your site.

So we asked Ayelet how she ensures she gets paid. But before we get to the payments, we first wanted to know…

How do you find and approach potential partners?

Here’s Ayelet’s response:

I am always on the lookout for possible services or products that could benefit my readers. I’ve been a business person for many years, so approaching potential partners is easy for me.

But even if you are less experienced, it really isn’t difficult. You aren’t asking for any favors; you’re suggesting a win-win business cooperation. After you do it once or twice, it will become easier. And if one potential partner isn’t interested, there are lots of other fish to fry.

I talk with the potential partner about my website, about the traffic it generates on a daily and monthly basis, and how it can be a great way to generate quality leads for them.

I explain which pages I will write to support the business cooperation and any other techniques (social media, newsletter, etc.) to promote them. In return, I ask them for lots of information and pictures.

Even though I am actively “selling” my referral service, I make sure to purposefully keep their expectations low, explain that it takes time to generate leads, etc. They will be responsible for replying to form submissions and closing the sale.

A finder commission should always be higher than an affiliate commission. I will not run such a valuable lead-generating service with dedicated content pages, without getting at least 10%; for low-cost products I ask for a higher percentage. It also depends on the “market-rate” for a finder’s fee for that particular product or service.

After talking on the phone and/or via email, I always try to meet face-to-face – if possible – to get a “gut feel” for the person. Depending on the person or company, I occasionally sign a basic finder agreement (you can find templates on the web and adapt them).

At the minimum, I summarize the agreed terms in an email, with a “call to action” request for a confirmation. If the cooperation doesn’t bear fruit or if I suspect they are bypassing me, I will know that fairly quickly and just get rid of the online form and – if necessary – the relevant pages I wrote to support the venture.

How do you ensure that you get paid (as there is no automatic link tracking, as with affiliate programs)?

Every time a reader fills out an online form, I make sure that both the other party and I receive copies of the form, and I insist that I am copied on all the follow-up correspondence.

So I see the progression from interest, to follow-up, to price quote, to deal closing. If an opportunity seems to have died (as most do), I usually follow up to make sure.

If there seems to be reader interest, but no sales are being closed, it can either indicate that there’s a problem with the service being offered (which might need to be altered in some way), or that something fishy is going on. In both cases, I will eventually stop offering that service.

To sum it up: The finder’s fee method is not foolproof, but for me, it’s the best income stream without a product to sell.

TAKEAWAY #8: Phew, that’s a lot of hands-on tips for the finder’s fee monetization model. It’s indeed a great way to step up your profit margin if you don’t have the time (or inclination) to create your own products.

Let’s summarize the key points:

  • Keep your eyes peeled for potential partners.
  • Get yourself in the right mindset: you’re not asking for a favor, you’re proposing a win-win business deal.
  • Explain clearly the high value of your potential leads while managing expectations.
  • Ask for lots of information and images, so that you can create great PREselling pages to explain your partner’s service or product to your reader. (If you find it difficult to write that page, consider doing it in interview format.)
  • Add contact forms to your PREselling pages. Make sure that both you and your business partner get a copy of the contact request. (This is super easy to do with SBI!’s form builder. Here’s an example of a such a page with a contact form on Ayelet’s site.)
  • Insist on being included (or at least informed) about follow-up communications between your business partner and the customer.
  • If you suspect that you aren’t getting paid, or that there’s some other problem with delivery of the service or product, follow up with the person you referred. After all, he or she came to your website first, so you want to make sure s/he gets the best possible experience from your partners.
Mom Side Hustle - Motorhome
When she’s not working, Ayelet loves exploring Israel in a motorhome, together with her extended family and two dogs. 😎

7. How do you “do it all”? How do you combine a demanding job with having time for your family and building an online business?

I have occasionally asked myself why bother keeping up with the online business, given my demanding day job…

But the truth is that I am proud of having built this fun hobby/business on a topic I love. It still amazes me (and even more so my husband!) that for the cost of the annual SBI! fee, I am generating a part-time income.

Maybe I am keeping it for retirement. Maybe one of my kids will take it over one day. But I won’t give it up!

TAKEAWAY #9: Wait a minute… didn’t Ayelet say she started her online business to get away from her high pressure day job and find a better work-life balance? She did say that, and that’s also what she did for a while. But when her kids turned 18, she got lured back into a hi-tech sales job.

By then, she had already built a solid foundation for her Go-TelAviv.com business. So why not keep it?

One of the coolest benefits of an online business is its flexibility. Contrary to a regular job, or a brick-and-mortar store, you can put it in “maintenance mode” for a while, and pick it up full steam when you’re ready.

8. What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed you, your life, your family?

I am surrounded by entrepreneurs. I grew up with a father who built himself and his business from scratch. My husband also runs his own businesses, and he would have a hard time working for someone else. So the entrepreneurial spirit, the mindset of building something on my own, feels very natural for me.

Also, now that my children are young adults and they see me working on my website, I think that it inspires them. Seeing me spend free time on Go-TelAviv.com teaches them about how succeeding at anything is about hard work and grits.

At the same time, they see that beyond a classic day job working for someone else, there are untraditional ways of earning a living. I believe this is especially relevant for generation Y.

TAKEAWAY #10: The premise “teach by example” comes to mind when reading Ayelet’s response. Or, to quote Albert Einstein: “Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.”

Who wouldn’t want their children to understand the value of building something of their own, especially if that “something” has the potential to give them financial and personal freedom?

For young people, building an online business has another, invaluable benefit: it teaches them skills that are essential whether they choose a “traditional” career or stay on the solopreneur path.

Plus, it’s simply fun and rewarding to express your creativity while providing value to others. That’s at least what teenpreneur Sydney Englund told us. She started her online business at the tender age of 9 years!

Mom Side Hustle - Restaurants
Enjoying Tel Aviv’s restaurant scene and beach views.

9. And finally. What’s your top tip for someone who is just starting a solopreneur career?

Like everything else in life, I believe there is mainly one formula for success as a solopreneur. Being smart helps, but it isn’t enough. Writing about a topic you love makes it more fun, but I don’t believe it’s essential.

The secret sauce is persistence, persistence and more persistence. You need to follow the Action Guide and do the work. You need to think deeply about monetizing. You always have to be ready for changes along the way, just like in life.

If you have the patience and determination for a marathon run that never ends, there is no reason why you can’t succeed.

Key Takeaways from Ayelet’s Story

  1. Looking for a career change or better work-life balance? Building a passion-based online business might just be the perfect solution for you.
  2. Don’t be fooled by the promise of “stunning websites.” A beautiful look alone does not generate traffic and income.
  3. Base your content decisions on keyword research and niche knowledge. The business principles of demand and supply apply online as well.
  4. Building your business in your spare time? Start with passive monetization methods. Develop more active methods as your time availability increases.
  5. Consider finder’s fees (referrals or lead generation) as a way to monetize passively, but with higher profit margins than you get from ads or affiliate programs. When you negotiate with potential partners, remember: You’re not asking for a favor; you’re proposing a win-win business deal.
  6. Teach your kids by example that there are more ways to earn a living than with a traditional 9-to-5 job!

Author information

Ayelet Porat

Throughout her life, Ayelet Porat combined following the traditional pursuits of life with venturing off the beaten path. She has been in the hi-tech world for 30 years, where she prefers working with startups rather than at larger companies. In the middle of a successful career, she chose to drop out and travel around the world for a year, and still loves to roam the world. She’s lived half her life in New York City and the other half in Tel Aviv, where she currently lives with her husband and two children. Ayelet constantly seeks new ways to challenge and enjoy herself, whether it’s working on http://www.go-telaviv.com, exploring Israel in a motorhome, or translating and publishing her father’s holocaust memoirs on Kindle.

The post Why This Hi-Tech Career Mom Loves Her Side Hustle appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Encore Episode: 4 Steps to Communicating Vision

Encore Episode: 4 Steps to Communicating Vision

There’s just no substitute for vision. When we have a compelling, unifying view of the future-and we’re able to communicate that view-it can motivate people to accomplish astonishing things. And those who lack vision, well, they’re just “unready” for the challenge of leadership. In this encore episode, we explore the importance of vision to energize and motivate our teams.

While Michael and Megan are on a July sabbatical, we’ve hand-picked a few of the most popular episodes of the podcast for you to enjoy. We’ll be back with more great content in August.

How to Beat Travel Fatigue

3 Strategies to Bounce Back to Your Best Self

How to Beat Travel Fatigue

There is really no way of getting around it: traveling is exhausting. If your professional obligations have you traveling as often as mine do, fighting off travel fatigue can become a job all of its own.

As a writer, much of my work focuses on highlighting entrepreneurial solutions to economic and political problems, so I am often traveling in search of personal stories to share with my audience. Whether it be a tech conference in Austin or a networking event in Washington DC, I sometimes travel once or twice a week. This means a lot of time spent in airports and in the air.

There is really no way of getting around it: traveling is exhausting.

-BRITTANY HUNTER

Tweet Quote

While many travelers find airplanes an ideal place to catch up on sleep, dozing off at 35,000 feet in the air is not my specialty. I have tried everything from overpriced neck pillows to top-of-the-line noise canceling headphones. Nothing seems to work. To make matters worse, I often find it difficult to fall asleep in new places. So for me personally, traveling is never synonymous with sleep. Worse, there is often no downtime to recover in between traveling on the weekends and reporting to the office Monday morning.

Luckily, traveling so often has given me unique insight on how to cope with the dreaded travel fatigue, both during and after trips. Follow these 3 strategies and feel the difference.

1. Rest matters

While many seasoned travelers may tell you not to pack too many activities into each day, that isn’t always possible on work trips. Not only are your days consumed with lectures, meetings, and other networking opportunities, but you will also probably want to get in some sightseeing while you are visiting a new city. This is a lot to pack in a few days, so making sure you are as rested as possible is a must.

To that end, I always bring a bottle of melatonin with me on my trips. Melatonin is the hormone that is naturally secreted by your pineal gland and helps your body fall asleep. Taking a melatonin supplement will help your brain produce more of the hormone so that you can fall asleep with ease. Unlike other sleep aids, melatonin won’t leave your brain foggy the next day, making it easy to get up and start your busy day. I also try to keep my bedtimes as consistent with my regular schedule as possible.

At many professional networking events, alcohol is free flowing at dinners and happy hours. However, alcohol consumption can drastically interfere with your sleep cycle. While it may initially help you fall asleep, alcohol can wreak havoc on the second half of your slumber. As Dr. Irshaad O. Ebrahim warns that while the “immediate and short-term impact of alcohol is to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep” and often put you in a particularly deep sleep, it also results in “more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night.”

For this reason, I limit myself to one alcoholic drink per night, preceded and followed by lots of water. For many, this advice might seem counterproductive to having a fun trip. But it’s a lot easier to handle travel exhaustion when you are not also dealing with the repercussions of a night of heavy drinking.

2. Recharge without sleep

One of my favorite ways to recharge during long breaks, and flights, is to do a 10-20 minute guided meditation session. Using the Headspace app on my smartphone, I put on my headphones and find a quiet place to meditate. It is amazing the rejuvenation that can occur after a brief session.

Another way to restore my energy when sleep is not possible is to use sensory deprivation tanks. During a recent trip to DC, when I knew sleep would be inhibited, I carved out time during my lunch break to visit what is often referred to as a “float center.” Sensory deprivation tanks are small pods densely filled with salt water, allowing the user to float effortlessly. These tanks are also pitch black and soundproof, so the floater is relieved of all primary senses.

When I first visited one of these centers I was told that one hour of float time was the equivalent to three hours of sleep. While I am not sure if this was science or clever marketing, I felt energized after my hour session had ended. And that is all that mattered to me.

It’s also a good idea to make caffeine count when your travel. Instead of drinking cup after cup of complimentary coffee, I drink one cup in the morning, filled with butter and coconut oil, also known as bulletproof coffee. It helps to provide both energy and focus.

3. Rebound time

I return home Sunday completely spent, with a travel hangover. How I doctor that hangover impacts the success of my entire workweek. First, if possible, I always select a flight time that allows me to return home early in the afternoon, plan ahead, and clear my schedule.

As soon as I get home, no matter how early it may be, I sleep. There is nothing so lovely as falling asleep in your own bed after a trip. Turning in early ensures that I will be ready to tackle work the next morning.

I am a slave to my morning routines during the week. If I do not get a sufficient night of sleep post-travel, good habits are harder to keep. Continuing my routines, which includes more mediation and yoga, also help me to fight off any lingering fatigue the next day.

It is also extremely important to set realistic expectations for the following work day. If I know it may take me a day to fully get back in the swing of things, I avoid scheduling meetings with important clients or agreeing to strict Monday morning deadlines. That way I can avoid unnecessary pile-ups and meet all my obligations later in the week.

For whom the travel tolls

Travel takes a major toll on your body, even on short trips. That doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the overwhelming fatigue. By planning ahead, I’ve learned to stay energized and tackle travel hangovers with gusto. You can too.

Video Interview: A Solopreneur Fairy Tale

Video Interview: A Solopreneur Fairy Tale

It’s not work, it’s fun. I mean, it’s just what I love to do. I get to sit around all day and talk and write about my favorite thing (Walt Disney World). The whole thing is just a dream job. It really is. If I would have laid out my life, I couldn’t have laid it out any better than what turned out.

In 2018, Carl Trent celebrates his 10th anniversary as the “Disney Dad.” Since he was 4 years old, Carl was fascinated by Walt Disney. He even wrote high school papers about Disney. This passion stayed with Carl all his life. When he approached (early) retirement, he knew he wanted to “do something” centered on Disney.

More specifically, he wanted to help people get the most out of their trip to Walt Disney World.

First, he dabbled a bit as a part-time Disney Travel Agent. For various reasons, this didn’t work out so well. Then he found Solo Build It!. Carl thought to himself: “Build a website around my passion, and make money with it? Heck, yeah!”

DadsGuidetoWDW.com was born. 10 years later, Carl’s “side hustle” has grown into a flourishing business with a team of 50 people.

Most solopreneurs don’t grow their online business that large. They prefer to keep it simple and “fly solo.” And that’s perfectly fine. The beauty of running an online business is that you have that choice – stay small or grow big.

Carl started small as well. He still had his full time job and worked on his site in his spare time. He did all the work himself, as he explains around the 24 minute mark in the video. At that time, Carl didn’t realize that he’d be growing his web-based business into a mid-sized enterprise with a large team.

If you’re thinking that you’d prefer to keep your business small, perhaps adding in a part-time Virtual Assistant – maybe even a full-time employee as you grow in size and confidence – that’s fine. SBI! shows you how to do that, too.

So don’t be intimidated by what Carl has achieved – the most important step he took was to just get started.

Now, that said, something happened to Carl…

He discovered his “inner entrepreneur.”

An unknown gear shifted him into full-time entrepreneur mode. Carl talks about reaching that “tipping point” at the 27 minute mark.

Who knows – that shift might come for you, too! It’s an exciting journey, and if you have a hidden entrepreneur inside you, SBI! enables you to discover and nourish it. Beyond that, what Carl has achieved amazes us as much (perhaps more) than it does you.

Once Carl had reached that tipping point, he knew he needed help. He wasn’t good with outsourcing though, as he told us in our first video interview in 2015. Instead, he believes in building teams.

How he built his team, and why he thinks a great team is such a crucial element to his (and your!) business success, is one of the highlights of our conversation with Carl.

Other highlights in our 30 minute video interview include Carl’s take on Facebook groups versus pages, how he uses live broadcasting to grow his audience, and why choosing the right web host is so important.

To get the most benefit for yourself and your online journey, we suggest that you watch the whole interview. It’s a hands-on, real world “how-to” in online business building that you won’t see anywhere else. Or use the “Table of Video Contents” to jump directly to the sections that interest you most.

Table of Video Contents

With passion, hard work and lots of fun, Carl built his dream retirement business. While it sounds like a fairy tale, there’s no magic involved. All you need is an idea, a can-do attitude and the motivation to succeed (we call it BAM!).

And Solo Build It!, of course. 😊 No other sitebuilder or web host gives you a better chance to build a high-traffic website. In recent head-to-head comparisons, SBI! members were 10X to over 100X more likely to achieve high levels of traffic.

What about YOU?

Whether your goals are small, medium or big – heck, perhaps you don’t even know how big your goals may get as you grow – SBI! enables you to reach them.

You bring the BAM. We’ll provide what it takes to succeed. And if you grow it beyond your wildest dreams, we’ll be right there, one of your biggest fans!

Ready to start living your dream? We’re here to help. Sign up for SBI! today or talk to one of our friendly advisors.

Author information

Carl Trent

Carl Trent

Carl Trent, Dad, or The Disney Dad is a true Walt Disney World expert. Just ask him. Carl has a dream job. He sits around and thinks about Walt Disney World all day. Carl is the owner of Dad’s Guide to WDW and WDW Magazine. He publishes a yearly Walt Disney World Wall Calendar and in 2015 released The Best of WDW – Volume 1, an incredible coffee table book of Walt Disney World pictures.

The post Video Interview: A Solopreneur Fairy Tale appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Stay Fit While Traveling for Work

5 Ways to Turn Turn a Pain into a Win

Stay Fit While Traveling for Work

Recently I was sitting in a restaurant in Munich, staring in resignation as my wine glass was refilled another time despite my protestations. It had been a long day of sitting through meetings, punctuated by breaks where we were plied with finger foods and coffee, followed by lunch, and then more sitting, and then after-meeting cocktails, and then dinner with two gentlemen who were hoping to land a new contract.

“Try this bread!” my host boomed, “German bread is delicious!” I tried it. It was delicious. It was only day three of my conference, but already I felt flat-bottomed and bloated. Taking the tiniest sip from my wine glass that I could manage, I resolved to get myself back on track. You see, for me, business travel is a time to reset my mind and my body.

An opportunity to start something new

The biggest obstacle to overcome is your own mind. When setting out for a work trip, I always pack certain splurge items that I wouldn’t normally use at home: sheet masks for my face, nail polish, teeth whitening strips. With a career in full swing and a six-year-old son in full zoom, I don’t have time to take care of myself at home.

When setting out for a business trip, I view it as a time to reconnect with myself and take care of my body. This also includes being mindful of what I eat. Start your trip with a pledge that you’re going to take extra care of yourself-not less. View it as a vacation from your normal routine-and your normal unhealthy habits. Here are 5 ways to get that vacation started.

1. Airplane food is not required

Just because a smiling flight attendant hands you a steaming mystery meal of dubiously-sourced ingredients doesn’t mean you are obligated to eat it. Airline food is full of sodium and sugar and usually leaves people feeling bloated. If I have time in the airport before my flight I pick up a ready-made salad, some fresh fruit, almonds and some jerky to snack on when I am hungry, instead of conforming to the airline’s idea of when a proper meal time is.

2. The hotel gym is your refuge

Hotel gyms can vary in quality-everything from well-equipped and air-conditioned temples of fitness to one treadmill and a weight set in a large broom closet. When I get into a new city, if I have the time, my first order of business is to check out the hotel gym and spend at least 30 minutes in it.

Usually, I have just emerged from an airplane with cramped and sore muscles that need to be re-stretched again. A short stint in the gym upon arrival at the hotel makes a good start to your trip. Likewise, I always try to hit the gym for an hour before I get on my return flight as well.

3. Resist the room service

It’s tempting but ordering room service is not a good way to stay on track. As wonderful as it is to have someone wheel a cart full of food that you didn’t have to prepare (and won’t have to clean up later) into your room, just say no. Instead, try venturing into the hotel restaurant. They probably have the same expensive food, but after you eat it you don’t have to spend hours with it outside your door. Better yet, find the closest walkable restaurant if you are in a safe area.

4. Nothing good ever comes from just one more drink

One of the most ever-present diet obstacles on business trips for me as a Marketing Manager is the wine. The cocktails. The happy hours. The galas. A lot of alcohol gets consumed at conferences and summits, and getting tipsy while traveling never helps your reputation the next day, so why risk it?

When I’m in the presence of people who are constantly refilling my glass, I pace myself slowly, and alternate between a glass of wine and a soda water with lime in it to stay hydrated. For the sake of your waistline, and to avoid being the subject of office gossip, just say no to another drink.

5. Take your travel routine home with you

Travel is hard on our bodies physically. Changing time zones, unfamiliar hotel beds, shooting ourselves 2 miles into the air inside of metal tubes filled with other breathing, coughing humans-none of this does our bodies any good. Travel is the time to take extra care, not less, to treat ourselves well, and possibly form new and good habits.

Resolve to cultivate these habits when you return home healthier and refreshed. You may even be able to enjoy your better, fitter self until the next trip.