Money Ain’t The Motive

I can’t honestly start this post off by saying money has never been a motive of mine. When I was younger, money was a motive. I wanted to make more of it, so I could buy things. Money was not talked about as it is today. There were no podcasts on finances. Only people older than your Dad were talking about it. What we did have was the beginning of what MTV and the influence rap music was having on us. It was all about money and getting it any way possible. After maxing out a credit card and slaving to get it paid off, I had learned my lesson. I did not like being a slave to anything. What took me many more years to learn was how to actually save money. There always seemed to be something I wanted and I never had enough money to have what I wanted and save money at the same time.

In my early 20’s, one of my businesses required me to work long hours. It was a lot to have on your shoulders. The retail space is hard but stack two online businesses on top of that, plus some freelance work and it was too much for one person to handle. What I didn’t mind at the time was not having much overhead. I worked my butt off and was able to keep, I mean spend most of the money myself. I had an HD TV before you could even watch anything in HD. Stupid stuff like that. I had became a slave to something else, my business. There are many other ways to lose some or all of your freedom and I have experienced some of those as well.
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7 Year Anniversary Gift – Copper

When my wife and I started discussing what we would do for our 7 year anniversary, the topic of gifts always comes up. This year it was decided that there would be no gifts. My wife knows that I never keep my promises when it comes to gift giving. I am not sure which will be the bigger gift, this project, or the fact that I am doing a tutorial on it and pinning it to Pinterest.

In the past years, I have tried to be creative but have not really came through with anything really nice that would be worthy of hanging onto for any length of time. This year, I wanted it do be different. A quick Google search let me know that the 7 year anniversary gift was copper. Further research led me to a project that involved listing important dates with pennies. I really liked that idea so I left for our local Michael’s and picked up the items I would need to create my own project.

I already had a few tools, so my list of items needed was not that long. It was a rather inexpensive project to pull off. The hardest part was finding pennies for the correct years.
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Staying Focused on the Curves Ahead

This year marks the 15th year that I have been working for myself with no other source of income other than what I have been able to generate on my own. When I started my first business I was 18 years old. I attempted to build an online business that was way before its time. I had limited success but not enough to justify putting much effort into it. A couple of years later I decided to start my own local business by opening a physical store selling retail products. Aside from having a couple of jobs in Mall stores, I had no experience at all. What I didn’t know at that time is that I was starting on a path of self-reliance that would shape my entire life.

It hasn’t been an easy journey at all. It takes more than one hand to count the amount of times that I have made six figures in a given year only to end up with an overdrawn bank account. After starting that first brick and mortar business and deciding to close it, I knew that I at least had a stomach for doing my own thing.
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FoundersCard Review

The name Founders Card sounds pretty inviting. I mean, I have founded a couple of companies so shouldn’t I have a card that says “Founders Card” on it? When Founders Card first launched, the price was high and the perks were ok. I began the signup process but never pulled the trigger. I watched as other entrepreneur friends on Twitter signed up and had mixed reviews, so as I do with things I am unsure about, I waited.

I have 20 invites available which will get you your own Founders Card for $395 instead of the regular $795/yr. price. Use this link to sign up: https://founderscard.com/membership?code=FCJERAD425

After a couple of months went by, and a few dozen perk announcement tweets from Founders Card were posted, I decided that it was time for me to sign up. They had just added Hilton Honors and Virgin America perks, both are companies I do a lot of business with. Getting instant Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status Membership and a variable discount on flights with Virgin America was enough to justify the cost of joining. I was able to obtain a referral from a friend who was a member, so at $395 it was well worth the investment.

Since receiving my Founders Card Membership early October of 2014, I have used many of the perks. A rough calculation showed that I had saved about $1250 over a 4 month period. Let me explain how that happened.
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Education Problems in America

There are many problems that plague the education our youth is receiving today. Education is being more standardized which is taking away the creativity and passion our teachers have for educating and the cost of higher education is so expensive it is pricing out those who are not willing to go into debt to acquire what is still referred to as a “formal education.”

I don’t agree with everything said in the video below but it makes some good points and the video ultimately led me to blog about the topic. Hopefully some interesting conversation becomes of it.

Being relevant is important. There is value in an education but considering the costs, you need to look at the ROI of that education. How long will it take you to make back that $50k in student loan debt? Yes some professions require an education regardless, I get that. You are not allowed to teach yourself medicine or law, but 95% of the rest of the professions of this world can be learned faster and more effectively on your own if you have the right ambition and drive. Not all have the right ambition and drive to self educate, which is where education outside of k-12 comes in, unless of course you want to become a doctor, lawyer or do something totally valuable like major in some weird niche of history. #sarcasm

Back to the topic of relevance: Being relevant has never been more relevant. I know that sounds stupid but if you look at society and the way information moves these days, I am sure you agree. Young people these days want to learn from and look up to relevant people. Earlier generations never looked up to CEO’s of startup companies. Just look at what they talk about and share on social media to see what their true interests are and what they find most relevant. This is not to say that a college professor can’t be relevant, it’s just that there are not many that are.

Below the video player I will break down my thoughts on quotes from the video. I apologize for the few bad words in this video, but I think it is a discussion starter if anything.

“It has never been less valuable to be smart about information than today.”

I agree. Those who know and understand the information that is relevant to whatever discussion, job or project they are involved in are more likely to succeed. Information is at the core of everything. What schooling does do, or perhaps used to do, is teach you how to learn. Today kids are being taught the answers to the standardized tests they need to take because our government is taking away our teachers ability to be creative and relevant.

..They’re making them memorize facts that are at their fingertips.”

I believe we should all have a basic education that is similar. This is what k-12 is. We learn a lot of information that not only gives us somewhat of an understanding of the world we live in but also teaches us how to learn. Do I agree with everything that is taught to our k-12 students? No. This is why I have decided to sent my children to a private school. It has nothing to do with the teachers, it has everything to do with what is forced to be taught.

“Most kids are learning more on their own because they have more information than they do in the classroom.”

Kids are learning more outside of the classroom than they are in the classroom because of the information that is available to them. That does not mean that all kids are learning valuable information outside of the classroom. Some kids are, such as the growing population of iPhone App Developers under the age of 16. However there are even more kids who are learning hazardous information because of the media and television shows that are available today. Parental controls are almost impossible to enforce.

Should kids be allowed to choose the information they wish to ingest and replace that with school? No way. This is what parenting is. Parenting does not stop when you drop your kids off at school nor does it stop when you put a laptop or iPad in the hands of your kids. This is what happens in a world where there are far too few households with a parent present throughout the day. Properly parented kids are much more likely to choose to ingest information of value and not waste their time fantasizing about what the entertainment industry glamorizes.

“The internet is the biggest culture shift in the history of human beings.”

What about the fall of man, or the birth and death of Jesus Christ? Perhaps the internet is the biggest culture shift in our history of the last two hundred years. That I might agree with.

“We are teaching our children to memorize &*%^, and regurgitate it.”

If we keep letting the government have their way, this is exactly what will be the case for education, especially public education. Teachers need to be given the freedom to teach. Teaching is not just a process of cramming information into the heads of our youth, it’s about taking that information and making it real. If you hated history, it’s not because history isn’t relevant or interesting, it’s because your history teacher sucked.

“I hope my children are D & F students because that gives me the time to teach them the real $%^# because they won’t be working on their homework.”

So what he is saying is that he will be an involved parent but he won’t embed the importance of being able to learn from others into the minds and personalities of his children. How communist of him. I want my children to be able to learn from anybody who has something worth learning and I want them to be able to differentiate between what is worth learning and what is a waste of their mental capacity. I am a more hands on learner who likes to learn by example. I don’t excel learning by textbook. Textbooks today are evolving but the textbooks of the 80-90’s were horrible. Paying attention in school, doing homework and meeting deadlines so you can get a good grade prepares you for the future as you will most likely be required to do work and meet deadlines as an employee. I think that it takes schooling and hands on parenting to grow children into adults who will add value to society and be able to provide for themselves. I do believe that this could be taught outside of school but it would require just about as many hours as you put in at work each day and most of us are not going to be able to afford to retire by the time our kids reach schooling age.

“There is eye rolling and checking out in classrooms across this country.”

I think this is a less of a problem with education and more a problem of how children are being raised. Most children are more interested in their Angry Birds score than they are interested in getting a 100% on a test at school. This is a parenting problem which ultimately results in an attention span problem as kids age. However, there were many classes I took in college where I knew my professor was teaching us at a snails pace and was teaching information that was no longer relevant. This led to much eye rolling and checking out from me and ultimately led to me dropping out of college.

What are your thoughts about education today? Is it the fault of the government, our teachers, professors or parents? What can fix it?

Facebook Video Ads – 15 Days In

Facebook recently added the ability to upload a video and turn it into an ad. This is cool because Facebook videos start to play in the newsfeed as people scroll. As a photographer and videographer, I have visually appealing content that when actually seen in the newsfeed, gets a lot of views and likes. Some of the top liked items on Facebook are cat pics/vids and wedding photos.

As I have with all other Facebook ad tools, I gave it a try. I had a video reel that I had put together from a previous wedding season which I thought would be a good video to try out Facebook Video Ads with. It was a simple process, just as easy as starting a text based ad using an image. I uploaded the image, set my target demographic and hit start.

The video started off a bit slow as far as views and interactions went, but as time moved forward, that view count grew and is now receiving about 900 views per day. I am running this campaign from December 19th through the end of January. Today marks day 15 of that campaign.

Here is what that ad looks like”

Facebook Video Ad

Here is what the view count looks like over the past 15 days:

Facebook Video Ad Dashboard View Count

And the most important data about the Facebook Video Ad Performance:

Facebook Video Ad View Analytics

So far I am enjoying the result. Of course it comes down to whether or not I end up booking any of the brides who contact me, but so far I have received a lot of inquiries. In the first 15 days, the video received 9,000 views, 100 likes, 4 comments, and 1 share using the share button. Beyond that, there have been a lot of clicks to my website as well as inquiries that have came in stating the Facebook video was what led them to contact me.

Metrics that stand out to me the most:

3.489% Clickthrough rate – That is pretty good even though it sounds like a small number.
62 Website Clicks – This means that 62 people clicked the learn more link and visited my website.
39 Other Actions – This is the conversion pixel I placed on my website to track conversions. That means that 63% of the clicks that come to my website are resulting in inquiries. You do the math.

It will be interesting to see how many of these inquiries turn into booked weddings. Time will tell. Perhaps after all this is over I will post a followup article.