This may be of some interest.
Let’s get this out into the open: I bite my nails. Or at least I did. (Kinda gross, right?)
But a few summers ago, I watched as my then three-year-old son chomped down on his fingernail. That was it. The final kick in the butt I needed to see to finally stop a decades-old bad habit.
Little did I know that in my quest to stop biting my nails, I’d unlock something much bigger for myself — both personally and professionally. It was mindfulness.
According to the folks at U-Cal Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, mindfulness is about “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”
For me, mindfulness has helped me make better decisions, listen more, and above all, be present. Amidst the chaos of our busy, multi-screen, too-many-browser-bookmarked lives, it helps me return to a more centered self.
More and more, people are embracing both big and small mindfulness tactics. So, what can you do to get in on the goodness? I’ll tell you. Here’s how I met mindfulness.
Consulting a Mindfulness Expert
I knew that guided meditation and hypnosis was probably a good bet to kick the nail-biting habit.
So, I reached out to Paul Gustafson, a Boston-area consulting hypnotist. Gustafson helps people — via guided meditation and hypnotic suggestion — with anything from quitting smoking to overcoming a fear of flying.
I sat down with him for three, 30-minute sessions where he talked me into a deep relaxation and then, as I reached a deep meditative state, he provided guidance and suggestions for me to figuratively cut the cord of my past nail-biting behavior. From there, I kept his guided meditation recording on repeat.
“The immediate benefit of guided meditation is profound relaxation,” Gustafson told me.
“It’s impossible to be stressed or to worry while enjoying deep meditative bliss. One of the long-term benefits of meditation is that the relaxation becomes the rule rather than the exception. People who meditate are happier, and often feel less affected by the pace of day-to-day life. They’re healthier and more productive.”
Paul has become an oft-invoked name at my house. My wife, also a marketer, has gone to see him and notes that it’s been entirely transformative in finding her chi, both in and out of work. (After all, anyone with small children can attest to the need for mindfulness.)
How Mindfulness Contributes to Better Marketing
Mindfulness is a terrific asset for today’s marketers … but you’re probably wondering where the data is, right?
Well, a study conducted by INSEAD and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that 15 minutes of mindful meditation could help a person make better decisions. That same study shows that mindfulness “can reduce confirmation bias and overconfidence, allowing decision makers to better differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information.”
This isn’t the only study that points to how mindfulness can help you in the business world. More recent research suggests that 10 minutes of mindfulness each day can lower stress, improve your mood, and make you more creative.
Considering the vast information available to marketers, having a filter for the superfluous can let you focus on what’s most important and make decisions accordingly.
Gustafson has helped patients deal with stress related to dealing with a boss, or co-worker, too.
“I’ve had many clients come to me because of work-related stress. When someone repeats a stressful response to certain situations it becomes a pattern. Over time, patterns become rooted, and people feel powerless to change the situation. Guided meditation enables individuals to release and become free of unpleasant patterns,” Gustafson told me.
Some companies — like Google, Goldman Sachs, and Medtronic — have gotten on board the mindfulness train, too.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for a company that values its employees’ approach to work, rather than just the output.
The HubSpot perk I took full advantage of while in my role was the Nap Room in the Cambridge, Mass. office.
For me, the nap room is a meditation chamber. Just 20 minutes of guided meditation — or slow, deep breathing as the hammock gently rocks back and forth — will clear the mind and bring a sense of focus that even the strongest cup of coffee can’t conjure.
But, unfortunately, many companies don’t have a Nap Room. Some also don’t take time to encourage mindfulness or positive mental health practices. If you’re in this type of situation, there are still a number of ways to embrace mindfulness in any environment.
How to Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
What You’ll Need
When you really need to pause, contemplate life, or navigate stress, here’s a quick and simple recipe for a solid meditation session:
- A quiet spot
- An open mind
- 20 minutes each day
- Headphones, with guided sessions
- Popular apps for reminders or self-guided meditation
1. Meditate in the mornings.
Akin to the adage that a trip to the gym in the morning gives you
more energy, a trip to mindfulness early in your day sets your mind up for success, too. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your bed. Just put on the headphones as you awake.
2. Or, try to meditate at night.
At the other end of the day, it’s entirely acceptable and effective to
fall asleep as you meditate. If you’re using a guided meditation track, whether you’re awake or asleep, your mind is taking in the information.
3. Block out time for meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness activities.
Set up a recurring daily calendar item so that others don’t cut into your “mindfulness meeting.” My colleague
Steve Haase has written quite a bit on meditation and mindfulness. Haase and other colleagues sit in silence for 20 minutes on Wednesday mornings to clear their minds for the day.
4. Practice deep breathing.
Sometimes the biggest rewards come from the smallest of actions. Deep breathing falls into that category. Take deep breaths throughout the day when you feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, or just need to top off the mindfulness tank.
5. Fight distractions while meditating.
The brain is a muscle. And, when you work out any muscle, it can be hard to try doing something that feels unnatural with it. Sitting in quiet is something that is challenging for the brain, especially when you’re busy or stressed, but this is something you can train yourself to do.
For many of us, our instincts when idle — in line at the grocery store checkout, in the elevator, at the traffic light — are to fill the void with a few swipes of the screen. Don’t do it. In much the same way that good ideas sometimes arrive whilst in the shower, lying in bed, or even sleeping, simply being present can be the difference in finding clarity or that elusive good idea you’ve been chasing.
6. Practice mindfullness and meditation regularly.
Like any new workout, you might fail the first couple of times you try to meditate. For some, it can be surprisingly hard. And, no matter how much you feel like you’ve gotten mindfulness down, your mind can still slip on any given day.
Are you going to enter a state of deep bliss every time you sit down to meditate? Probably not. Your mind will wander. Just like some runs or workouts feel better than others, so do meditation sessions. No two are alike.
Mindfulness Apps and Software
While finding a quiet space and trying to clear your mind will provide a good foundation for mindfulness and meditation, there are also a number of digital aids that can ease you into a more mindful state. Here are just a few:
Headspace is a mobile app and subscription service which allows you to stream or purchase thousands of guided meditations from mindfulness experts. When search “Best meditation apps” on Google, it appears at the top of the list on a number of blogs.
Aside from meditations, Headspace also offers sleep sounds and mindfulness workouts that people can try before going to sleep.
Although you can get a free trial for Headspace, the subscription costs $12.99 per month. At the moment, Headspace is also offering free subscriptions to those who are unemployed.
For those looking for a cheaper app, Calm (Roughly $6 a month or $70 perr year) similarly provides guided meditations, mindfulness training, and sleep sounds. The app allows a 7-day free trial before charging users.
When joining the app, you can answer a few questions about why you’re looking to learn more about mindfulness and meditations. This will help the software send meditations that fit your lifestyle.
For businesses and academic institutions that want to embrace mindfulness, managers and colleges can invest in a company Calm membership, which allows employees globally to use the app on multiple devices. This membership price is not specified on Calm’s site.
If you’re skeptic of meditation, but interested in learning scientifically-backed meditation practices, you can consider the paid app, Ten Percent Happier.
The app takes a realistic approach to meditation. The creators and brand admit that meditation isn’t perfect, easy, or an answer to all of life’s woes. However, science does prove that it can help you in some areas. The primary goal of the subscription is to make users just 10% happier.
Pricing is not directly listed on the app’s website, however, a paid membership includes hundreds of guided and daily meditations, as well as access to one-on-one conversations with a meditation coach.
Ten Percent Happier offers both a free trial of the full membership and a limited free version which offers basic meditations and information, stats related to meditation performance, and daily notifications reminding you to meditate.
Sound Machines or Voice Assistants
While sound machines might offer a plethora of natural relaxing sounds or white noise that can drown out roommates or traffic outside, a voice assistant, like an Amazon Echo or Google Home, might have a number of meditation or sound related skills pre-programmed on the device. Investigate what your voice assistant or sound machine can offer and identify ways to implement these machines in your mindfulness strategy.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Still feeling skeptical about whether or not you should try mindfulness and meditation practices? I’ll leave you with just a small handful of benefits to keep in mind:
1. Your mind will become more open to opportunities.
If you expect a lot from yourself, you’ve probably experienced the anxiety of your expectations actually
getting in the way of success. With mindfulness, you can open yourself up to the moment. You can focus less on the eventual outcome (though
mindful of that goal) and instead be present to new ideas.
2. Stress-management could become easier.
Do I get worked up still? Sure (ask my wife). But more often I can find myself navigating stressful situations with a bit more grace or awareness of solutions rather than focusing on frustrations.
3. Planning things on the spot might get easier.
A less cluttered, focused mind tends to provide more room for planful thought. I’ve found myself able to pull together a thoughtful response or tidy plan in less time.
4. Being present can improve your outlook on life.
from Bill Murray. We do our best when we’re present. But it’s not easy.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Marketers tend to be very reactive.
We are conditioned to be very reactive. Whether it’s your boss who is pissed that your traffic dips or even yourself… everyone hates when sales and income drop because of something you can’t fully control.
And even when you try to be proactive, you are probably planning ahead from a 3-month period to a year max.
But that’s not how you win. You win by making bold bets that take time and can’t be done in a few months or a year… you win by doing what your competition isn’t willing to do.
So how do you come up with these bold bets?
Here’s how I come up with my ideas
Once a year I try to unplug. Just like right now… as I am writing this, I don’t have cell reception and there is no WiFi.
I’m on a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
No matter where I look, there are no neighbors. All you have is nature in its rawest form. Just look at how the lightning kept going on for hours.
By unplugging and just being one with nature, you truly realize what’s important.
See, we all have problems and issues… especially in business. But how bad are your problems? Do they even matter in the grand scheme of things?
Look, I’ll be honest with you. I am not a big nature person… I’m actually quite the opposite.
I live in a modern, cold feeling house in a heavily congested city. I’m so OCD that I have a full-time cleaner come just because I’m afraid of getting dirty (seriously).
Heck, I won’t even go through airport security without having booties in my briefcase, just in the rare chance they make me take off my shoes. There is no way I can have my socks touch that dirty ground.
Yes, I am crazy when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene.
But even me, I go to places that are full of nature and wild animals… or in this case… cows, bears, deer, snakes, mountain lions, and more. Being there really helps put things into perspective.
Because when you aren’t surrounded by noise caused by us humans, it allows you to clearly focus and think about what’s important.
For me, spending 3 days a year usually does the trick.
It allows me to forget about the bullshit we all have to deal with on a daily basis and come up with ideas about what I need to do over the next 5 (or even 10) years to win.
I know that sounds like a really long time… and it is. But again, to win you need to think long term and make bold bets that your competition wouldn’t dare to copy.
Just look at what I did with Ubersuggest.
I came up with that idea a few years ago by disconnecting (just like I described above).
Companies like Moz would constantly post their revenue stats and their competitors decided to also talk about their financials. So while being disconnected, I came up with an idea on how I could win and the first step was acquiring a tool like Ubersuggest.
And since then I’ve executed a few of the steps in my plan, but I still have a long way to go.
Nonetheless, those steps have paid off. Just look at my traffic numbers.
So what I am going to do over the next 5 to 10 years?
I am going to turn SEO on its head again.
It hit me on this trip that we all have to go to sites like Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or even Moz to get data.
But why is that?
It’s not natural in our workflow. Wouldn’t it just be easier to see this data as you browse the web?
When you search Google for any query you can use browser extensions like Keywords Everywhere to get some data or SEOquake or the Mozbar… but what you can’t get is that Ahrefs or SEMrush experience when you are just on a Google Search results page.
What will that look like? I have no clue yet, but I will figure that out over time.
Will that kill the traffic I generate to Ubersuggest over time?
But that is what needs to be done. I obsess about providing an amazing experience to my audience, even if that will kill off my existing business.
And no, that won’t take 5 years to do… I will probably do it over the next 6 months. I will first roll out a basic plugin like Keywords Everywhere and, eventually, I will add the functionally so you can get that type of Ubersuggest or Ahrefs experience right on Google or on your competitor’s site.
What will happen over the next 5 years though, is that I will be able to build something that gets you more traffic. Just like a light switch. Something that simple.
It should all be automated.
And no, I don’t mean in a templatized way. I manually send out emails every time I write a blog post because I know I can write custom copy that generates a 30% open rate and a high click rate.
But again, it should all be automated. And not just for English based sites, it should be done on a global level and work for every site in any language or country.
So how can you figure out what to focus on?
You may not be able to disconnect like me and spend the money that it costs to go to a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
And that’s fine… you don’t have to.
When I first started off, I didn’t have the resources or money, and I did just fine within my constraints.
For example, roughly 5 years ago I came up with the concept that I needed to go after global markets and compared to any of my competitors in the digital marketing realm, I’ve crushed all of them when it comes to global marketing.
Most of my competitors just translated their site or translated some of their content. Me on the other hand, I have 7 offices and teams in 18 different countries. And I’ll continue to expand so I can keep beating my competition when it comes to grabbing international attention.
But that idea didn’t come to me when I was in nature, being disconnected.
At that time, I was in my condo in the middle of Seattle and I disconnected my Internet for a few days.
Before I disconnected my Internet, I went and got food so I didn’t have to leave my house, and then I turned off all my gadgets… from my TV to phone and anything that was a distraction.
It worked well because now only 18.89% of my traffic is from the United States compared to 57% before I started to expand globally.
In other words, you can disconnect no matter where you are. You just literally have to disconnect your router, turn off your phone, and unplug your TV… it really is that simple.
If you do that for a few days, you’ll start realizing what is important and what isn’t. You’ll be able to strategize and start thinking more long term.
The key to winning long term isn’t by being reactive every time there is an algorithm update or even proactive and preparing for each algorithm update.
Because some of those things are simply out of your control.
Instead, you need to think long term and how you can disrupt your market to make a long-term bet that your competition isn’t willing to make.
Nike wasn’t built by SEO.
Airbnb wasn’t built through paid advertising.
American Express wasn’t built through social media marketing.
Tesla wasn’t built through content marketing.
Doing something disruptive or better than the competition is how you win.
Ubersuggest gets 1,668,233 visitors and 9,136,512 page views a month from people just coming directly. Not through SEO, marketing, or anything like that… I just focus on the future instead of being reactive.
That’s how I win.
Now, the real question is, how are you going to win?
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Marketing has evolved over time from,“You can have any color you want as long as it’s black” to just-in-time marketing messages that might lead to your brand posting on Reddit.
We’re embracing digital channels and understanding the need to create marketing people love more and more … but do we actually grasp what’s running behind the scenes of all these digital campaigns?Code is what lies behind so many of our great marketing campaigns. Our websites, our emails, our apps and tools that are made to give your customers a better experience — these all run because there are smart coders making them work.
So my question today is this: Since code is the basis for most of our marketing today, should marketers be learning to code?
I’d like to argue yes, we should. Here’s why.
1. Coding saves time and inspires.
Getting to grips with code and understanding the structures that bring your sites, apps, and tools to life will give you a better understanding of what is possible in the first place.
And, here, knowledge is really inspiration. Imagine seeing beyond just what others have done and having the ability to use code to create new and innovative tools that truly delight your customers.
It is key here not just to understand code, but to understand what tools your designer is using (and what other tools are out there). There is an array of helpful apps that let you quickly do anything — from building forms, to creating buttons, to building sites, and other functionality.
You need to know whether the tool offered to you is right, up to date, and will do what you want it to. This will fuel your inspiration, and save costs and time.
2. Coding informs marketers of the process.
My marketing mentor taught me that if you don’t know what’s involved in a process, you’re not getting the most out of your budget. I’m far from saying that all suppliers will try and add a few hours to projects, but wouldn’t it be great to have the confidence to know when something is quoted right?
We all need to know what is involved in building a website or a form, and what it takes to make a change to an app or your site navigation. Only then can we actually have an informed discussion about cost and timeframes with the people who will implement our ideas.
Some coding knowledge will enable you to brief a web designer or developer much clearer on your idea, and you’ll understand when a “no” is a negotiation tactic rather than an actual expression of the impossible.
Having this knowledge about coding also helps you choose the right company or designer to partner with in the first place, as it helps you determine whether they can do what you’re asking at the right price and within the right timeframe.
3. You can make quick fixes with coding knowledge.
I don’t know about you, but if a paragraph is just not doing in your CMS what you’re asking it to do, when an image is not resizing correctly, or the YouTube video you’re embedding is just huge for some reason, you want it fixed … now.
That’s the reason I learned about code. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I would have to call my web designer for every small change. So I went into the HTML view of my CMS, Googled code, and learned how to make small changes on my own.
It has saved hours of my time and budget, and my patience is still intact. At meetings with my designer, I would also ask him to explain small things about code and I started to lose my fear of brackets, slashes, and ampersands. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
4. You can make an impact with even basic skills.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t learn about code. But I don’t think a marketer should necessarily learn to code with the aim of becoming on-par with professional coders. In my humble opinion, you should leave specialized tasks to those who know how to do them right.
Web developers and designers have a very different skillset than marketers. As marketers, we decide on strategic direction and look for return on marketing campaigns. And while we might have a good eye for design and user experience, the actual implementation skills lie with others.
Often, we’re also too close to our brands — whereas a good designer will always bring in the expertise gained from different projects and current trends.
But don’t let this stop you from learning more about how code works.
Where Marketers Can Learn to Code
I started learning how to code by Googling pieces of HTML code. It’s a quick and easy way to find what a piece of code does and how to manipulate it. But this method won’t give you the real hows and whys behind it. Also, it gives you very little idea of how different pieces fit together — like HTML and CSS, for example.
For this level of information, you need to get down and dirty with code and start building from scratch. If you have a developer in your organization who can teach, why not offer a free lunch to him or her while you learn from them?
For something more methodical, I’d also recommend you check out one of the many online courses available. Here are some of the big ones:
1. Code Academy
As they say themselves, this is all about learning how to code interactively and for free. Reviews are great and I know quite a few HubSpotters who used this tool.
2. W3 Schools
W3 schools have a variety of classes for different tools and levels. There is also the option to get certified in your news skill (there is a charge here) so you can show off to your peers!
3. Code Schools
They are very active in the debate on whether marketers should code and believe that yes, we all need a good understanding on what’s possible to create. This is a paid course and you’ll have access to support via IM.
Next, let’s look at some alternate routes you can take to coding, such as programs that don’t require manual coding at all.
If you don’t have the time to take up coding immediately, that’s totally cool. That’s also why there are coding programs online to do the coding for you — let’s get into a few.
Price: Free to embed single links, then $9-99/per month
Emded.ly is super quick and clean to use for getting embed codes for a domain. All you have to do is copy and paste a domain in the box and click “embed.” Then, you’ll see this screen, where you can customize a couple of details about the embed.
Some of the details you customize include adding social media buttons to the embed, including dark theme within and making it optimized. When you check or uncheck these boxes, the embed code will automatically update for you to copy below, I checked all three.
Price: Free for single links, then $29-$399 for paid plans
If you’re a color code person, iFramely will be an absolute vision to you. Copy and pasting your domain into iFramely will generate a color-coded embed for you right underneath it.
The title of your embed is above the code, with the account name and publish date beneath it. Checking the box underneath “Copy code” notates whether the video will autoplay or not, and you can also choose the start and endpoint of the video, if you only need a section.
Price: Contact Siteimprove to request a quote
CMS Plugins streamline the performance of your website. Siteimprove is an example of a plugin that does just that. It integrates key analytics into the optimization of your domain, fixes errors in the code automatically, and allows you to add custom tags.
Price: $29-$499/per month
With RedmineUP’s CMS plugin, you can build simple pages and leave with code that’s SEO friendly. These pages are fully customizable and come with templates.
On the website developer page, you can change information at the top to add and change the code in the bottom. With this process, you don’t have to add in any brackets, quotes, or operational systems, just the content you want to see added.
Code is part of our Marketing DNA, and even if we don’t need to be able to build sites from scratch, as marketers today, we need to understand how it works to make informed decisions.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published prior in April 2014 but was updated in November 2019 for comprehensiveness.
Thank you for reading.
This morning I though maybe you would want to hear from a regular guy that has been doing this for a long time and has survived through many changes in the world and the internet market itself. I have seen business after business go away over the years and many guru;s give this up for greener pastures because they did not make the millions they thought they were entitled to.
For me this was more of a hobby for years and just because I wanted to learn and have some fun and improve all my skills as a webmaster and programmer and all of the other related computer skills that I have.
Like everyone else I also wanted to earn a wage.
Over the years I have almost done it all and have actually had some success. I never set my sights very high on the money goal as a few sales a week gave me some spare money and I was already working at a high paying job for part of the year so things went along pretty well.
I was actually was very fortunate that I could live like this for so long until my bad health finally caught back up with me. So now I am a full time marketer and trying to learn the new ways that people are doing to survive in this new age where nothing is steady anymore.
Everyone has their own theory for success but when you boil it down to the nitty gritty it still is the same old stuff at the very bottom and then you build on it to get the people interested in what you are doing.
What I am talking about is basic salesmanship, honesty, integrity, filling a need, and being nice. You never want to lie, cheat, or steal ever because when someone finds out that you have they will mentally start leaving right then.
I hope this is just the first article of many. There is a lot of ground to cover to actually be any good at this at all and it takes me time to think of what to say and then to get it written down.