The Social PR Guide To Trolls

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The Social PR Guide To Trolls

In the digital marketing world, trolls can be found in search, social and online reviews. According to Pew Research, more than 72% of internet users have witnessed at least one harassing behavior online.

The trolls seem to obsess and relish over instigating, starting quarrels or upsetting people just because.

Whether you are just entering the online space or a pro, it can particularly be disturbing, especially for social advertisers running campaigns, the last thing you want is to pay for PR brain damage. Remember, take a deep breath, they are not a reflection of your work or your client. #HatersGonnaHate 

Tip: Remember, take a deep breath, they are not a reflection of your work or client. #hatersgonnahate

Here are highlights on JT Ippolito’s troll survival guide

📚Getting Started With Trolls📚

You don’t have to put in an order for them, they will come uninvited with their unsolicited attitudes and opinions.

“I have seen cancer campaigns get trolled. I’ve seen at-risk youth charities get trolled. I’ve even seen brilliant and beautiful artists get slammed by trolls,” Howell said.

Heck, if mother Theresa ran ads she would get trolled HARD.

That says something.

They. Are. Everywhere.

And if you are making any sort of impact in this world, you’re going to need to get used to trolls.

In fact, in many ways, trolls should serve as a sign that you are making waves as they have become a staple part of the line ecosystem.

So the first step is to refocus. Trolls ARE NOT a reflection of your self worth and please do not ever base any kind of decision on what a troll may have said to you other than the decision to let it be water off your back!

📚Ways to Mitigate Trolls📚

Possible reality: you can’t truly ever get rid of them. 

“I’ve worked with too many brilliant businesses and soloprenuers to have seen first hand that they are like the barnacles of the internet,” Howell said.

But, there are things you can put in place to protect yourself and or reduce the amount of trolling you get:

✅Run awareness based campaigns before running your direct response

✅Hire community managers to handle your posts and feeds

✅Have fun with them.

Types of Trolls 

Here is a list of the most common types of trolls you will likely encounter:

🤖The Bot Troll🤖

These are basically fake bot farms that essentially are created to leave negative feedback and comments across ads and on blog posts.

How to spot them 👉 The comments seem irrelevant to you or what you’re talking about. When you click on the profile it’s a random logo or a page with no content on their feed

How to handle them 👉 They’re not human, no need to respond. Delete and block. If the issue is persistent and growing have a look at where your traffic is coming from and review your campaign objectives or targeting.

😈 The Sexual Troll 😈

They seek validation through shock factor and sexual gratification. Some are genuinely trying to connect but their approach is less than ideal.

How to spot 👉 “The dick pic in your inbox is usually a good indication,” said Howell. Comments or messages that are generated around sex or sexual acts usually give it away too.

How to handle 👉 Delete and ban the person from your ads. If someone messaged you-you can also delete and ban although I must say my team and I have a bit of fun with these types and will respond with dick pics sent from other trolls.

🤬The Keyboard Warrior Troll 🤬

These trolls are a little bit nastier than the above and will make snarky comments, accusations or leave abuse that can sting like a bitch! 

Some will take things to the next level and start seeking out all of your content to troll, leave negative reviews on your page without ever having bought or worked with you and go so far as to create negative threads about you in forums.

How to spot them 👉 Horrendous use of grammar most of the time. The profile photo is more often than not some stock image or a cat picture. When you check out their profile their feed is mostly shared links. If you check your CRM you’ll see they’ve never purchased or worked with you before.

How to handle 👉 They are rigid in their opposition to something, it stems from a deep fear of change and the uncertainty it could bring.

They must have everything on their terms and feel in control. Can you say control freak? This actually describes every single human being on this planet, however, this type of troll lacks the control in the aspects of their life that most of us as able to draw from and so find power in putting others down. 

If it’s abusive or hate-based comments – delete and ban. Be done with it. If the comments are about your product and integrity then respond in a non triggered manner.

For example: “this is a scam and they’re just ripping people off”

Response: “Hey Fred sorry to hear you think this is a scam, I can see from our records that you have never purchased from us before. Can you clarify why you say this is a scam! We have worked with over xyz customers and pride ourselves on being the best in the market

If the comment is so ludicrous you can’t even answer in a logical way a good response is “you’re right”

There’s not much someone can argue about you after you tell them they’re right but to all others reading they will see how triggered the troll was, to begin with:

Ex: “You’re just an alien trying to scam all the money.”

“You’re full of shit.”

Response: “You’re right”

😡The Angry Customer Troll😡

How to Spot 👉 Them These are customers that either struggled to get any response from your support team or weren’t happy with their purchase.

How to handle 👉  Believe it or not but you should come to LOVE these kinds of trolls as the social proof this will build on your online assets once you respond will be pure fuel to your marketing. 

Use this as a chance to look after the customer, show you care and handle the issue. 

Tip – never ever handle the logistics on the thread, always take it into a DM if possible.

Ex: “I bought my product six weeks ago and still nothing, this is just a big scam!”

Response: “Hey Fred, we’re so very sorry to hear you haven’t received your product yet! We would like to sort this out for you asap! Please send us a DM with the email address you used to purchase and we will resolve this matter for you!”

An ad with this kind of commenting will propel your conversion rate as this is the kind of stuff consumers want to see, a responsive and caring company.

🔪The Psycho Troll🔪

How to Spot them 👉“I’ve only encountered two of these in my life, but boy oh boy – it makes me shudder to still think of those instances,” Howell said. 

These are extremely rare but have a sharp bite when they decide to come after you. They appear to have a personal vendetta against you and will go to great lengths to get a reaction from you and attempt to destroy you.

How to handle 👉 If you have a psycho troll on your hands tread carefully. The key is not to trigger them further whilst putting an end to the madness. 

First, reach out directly to them and leave a voice memo asking to clarify why the sudden attacks. If this leads nowhere involve a lawyer with a restraining order or cease and desist.

“If the troll threat is serious enough – if they threaten your life, please screenshot and do report to local police,” said Page Schneider Vandiver, Facebook ad expert, and owner of Will & Page Vandiver agency.

Trolls can wreak havoc and snowball into larger problems that could cause more of an increase in negative visibility and attention. 

“It’s important to remember NEVER EVER base your success off of what a troll says – you are rocking it if you are getting trolls!” 

🤑Trolls can be a sign of success? 🤑

“Coming from the music industry I always live by the mantra, ‘I need to raise my hater weight.’ They definitely can sting at times, but I always need more haters in my life. If nobody’s hating you aren’t doing anything worth caring about,” said Martin L. Smith, Founder at Overflow Marketing Solutions.

How do you handle online trolls? Remember you run your business, not the trolls. Don’t lose yourself to the culture of hate. 

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Here Are My Top 10 Tips for Those Looking To Starting Your Own Business Over 50

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Here Are My Top 10 Tips for Those Looking To Starting Your Own Business Over 50

Entrepreneurship later in life isn’t as risky as most people think

More older adults have become entrepreneurs in the last decade than younger people. No kidding. Counterintuitive, right? But it’s true. Entrepreneurship in the 50+ age group is on the rise.

When it comes to launching a successful business, youth is not the magic elixir.

Entrepreneurs over 50, who have started businesses either from a passion or hobby, are social entrepreneurs, have launched senior-junior partnerships, or are female entrepreneurs — the fastest-growing demographic globally.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to declare my freedom from my full-time job at IBM and start my own media business. That was my personal independence day, and I’ve never looked back. Since then, I’ve also become an author of numerous books, a frequent public speaker and an expert on career transitions.

Becoming an entrepreneur after 50 is not as risky as you may think (or needn’t be) and the psychic and financial payoffs can be well worth it.

“Successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young,”

A few reasons an older entrepreneur may reap the benefits of startup success over a younger one: greater managing, marketing, and finance know-how, and richer, deeper industry knowledge.

Those who succeed typically set a flexible time horizon for their venture. They don’t make any rash moves. If necessary, they add the vital skills and degrees before they make the leap. They often apprentice or volunteer beforehand. But at the heart of all of their efforts lies a yearning to make a difference in the world, or to pursue a dream, or hone a hobby, to live.

Here are my top 10 tips for those looking to launch their own business:

Take a breath. Entrepreneurship is a process. Soul-search. You will want to begin with a solid MRI of your own passion and personality, talents and inner drive to start a business. The big questions: Why start this business? Why you? And why now? Prepare to get your hands dirty to discover just what it will take to make your dream a reality. That means picking up the phone to ask for help, researching, and getting under the hood of what it will take to really do this in terms of time and money.

Downsize and plan your financial life. Debt is a dream killer. The biggest stumbling block for many midlife entrepreneurs is money. Do a budget. Where can you trim expenses? You may not be able to pay yourself initially as the business gains traction.

Become physically fit. I don’t mean running fast miles or bench-pressing, but walk a mile or two regularly, swim a few times a week perhaps. Eat nutritiously. When you’re fit, you bring positivity to your work and your life.

It gives you the stamina and energy you will need to face new challenges. You’ll be mentally sharper, feel good, and a can-do attitude emerges. People will want to be around you and work with you.

Ramp up your spiritual fitness. I don’t mean a religious practice, per se. Starting your own business is demanding. Find a place to center yourself, and de-stress. You will draw strength from having a ballast, a core of calm, as you head down this path. You might practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation, or walk your dog along quiet pathways, as I do.

Reach out to your networks of social and professional contacts. I can’t overemphasize the importance of networking to help your business get off the ground and grow. Your network, your tribe, your believers are the ones who are going to propel you forward to success. Network with people doing work in the field you are eyeing. Ask how they got there, how they do their jobs, what they love about it. People love to talk about themselves and their work.

Tap into your alumni network. You never know who can bring you clients or help you build your business via an alumni association at your college or university, or even an alumni group at one of your former employers. Your alma mater’s career service center very well may have resources devoted to midlife entrepreneurs such as an incubator on campus, or continuing education classes geared toward career changers and entrepreneurs that are offered online, or via weekend workshops. You might even be able to make a connection to access current students who can lend a hand.

Don’t ignore the big players in the small-business help arena. Your town’s Rotary Club or chamber of commerce can be a wonderful source of mentors and advisers. Find a local chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit association devoted to teaching entrepreneurs the ins and outs of getting under way. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SCORE mentors will advise you for free, in person or online.

If you’re in the exploring stage, you might start with a virtual mentor. One of my favorite sources is PivotPlanet, a service that connects people with expert advisers working in hundreds of professions for affordable one-on-one, one-hour videoconference, phone, or in-person sessions. Most one-hour sessions range from $40 to $125.

Be specific about what help you need. When you do identify someone you want to reach out to, be specific about your goals for the connection. You might have a certain business task at hand, something as simple as advice on the best way to price your product or service. Or perhaps you’re looking for someone who can introduce you to some of the players in the market. Don’t rule out a mentor younger than you, who can offer more experience and direction when it comes to areas like social media where you might not feel quite as confident.

Invest in additional education and training. Add skills and certificates required for your new business. Take a class in salesmanship, or sign up for a course in public speaking at a local community college. You might even join Toastmasters to practice public speaking and improve your communication skills. The ability to sell your idea is essential.

Cruise the web for free resources. Tap into entrepreneurship resources at EIX.org. If you’re seeking an encore venture focused on social impact, visit Encore.org for resources to help you get started.

Finally, the richness you achieve from being your own boss is more than more zeros in your bank account. The key is the inner richness that comes from doing work that energizes you, with people who make your life richer and making an impact in the world in some meaningful fashion. That’s genuine wealth.

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The Other People

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The Other People

The other people

What’s the difference between you and ‘the other people’ that do what you do?

Why should I work with you and not ‘the other people’?

How is what you do better than what ‘the other people’ do?

What is it that you do that ‘the other people’ don’t?

Why are you more expensive than ‘the other people’?

Why are you slower/faster/squarer/rounder/funnier/more serious than ‘the other people’?

I don’t know how many of these questions you get asked but I hope you have the answers!

You will always get asked about ‘the other people’ unless you’ve made it clear in your marketing and your message that there are no other people like you. If you’ve made it clear that no-one else does exactly what you do there will be no comparisons to make.

What’s ideal is if you can make a mini-monopoly of just you.

Everyone IS a mini-monopoly as everyone has their own Thing, and even if you ‘do’ what 1000 other people ‘do’, you do it differently and do it your way and it’s your ‘Thing’. Now the great thing about monopolies (just to prove I do use my degree in Economics!) is that you can charge what you like. You have total control of the supply of your Thing into the market. You can sell as much or as little as you like and for the price you want to. Of course you need to make sure there is demand BUT provided you’ve done that, with some business celebrity marketing, then you get to run your business the way you want to and be totally different from ‘the other people’.

You can make ‘the other people’ disappear when you get a Fame Name or create a distinction around what you do that’s different. I know that ‘the other people’ do marketing and strategy—but only I do ‘being a business celebrity’.

What is it that you do that’s totally different from ‘the other people’? Make sure you know, AND you tell us!

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7 Types of Artificial Intellegnce

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7 Types of Artificial Intellegnce

7 Types Of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is probably the most complex and astounding creations of humanity yet. And that is disregarding the fact that the field remains largely unexplored, which means that every amazing AI application that we see today represents merely the tip of the AI iceberg, as it were. While this fact may have been stated and restated numerous times, it is still hard to comprehensively gain perspective on the potential impact of AI in the future. The reason for this is the revolutionary impact that AI is having on society, even at such a relatively early stage in its evolution.

AI’s rapid growth and powerful capabilities have made people paranoid about the inevitability and proximity of an AI takeover. Also, the transformation brought about by AI in different industries has made business leaders and the mainstream public think that we are close to achieving the peak of AI research and maxing out AI’s potential. However, understanding the types of AI that are possible and the types that exist now will give a clearer picture of existing AI capabilities and the long road ahead for AI research.

Understanding the types of AI classification

Since AI research purports to make machines emulate human-like functioning, the degree to which an AI system can replicate human capabilities is used as the criterion for determining the types of AI. Thus, depending on how a machine compares to humans in terms of versatility and performance, AI can be classified under one, among the multiple types of AI. Under such a system, an AI that can perform more human-like functions with equivalent levels of proficiency will be considered as a more evolved type of AI, while an AI that has limited functionality and performance would be considered a simpler and less evolved type.

Based on this criterion, there are two ways in which AI is generally classified. One type is based on classifying AI and AI-enabled machines based on their likeness to the human mind, and their ability to “think” and perhaps even “feel” like humans. According to this system of classification, there are four types of AI or AI-based systems: reactive machines, limited memory machines, theory of mind, and self-aware AI. are the oldest forms of AI systems that have extremely limited capability. They emulate the human mind’s ability to respond to different kinds of stimuli. These machines do not have memory-based functionality. This means such machines cannot use previously gained experiences to inform their present actions, i.e., these machines do not have the ability to “learn.” These machines could only be used for automatically responding to a limited set or combination of inputs. They cannot be used to rely on memory to improve their operations based on the same. A popular example of a reactive AI machine is IBM’s Deep Blue, a machine that beat chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997.

2.    Limited Memory

Limited memory machines are machines that, in addition to having the capabilities of purely reactive machines, are also capable of learning from historical data to make decisions. Nearly all existing applications that we know of come under this category of AI. All present-day AI systems, such as those using deep learning, are trained by large volumes of training data that they store in their memory to form a reference model for solving future problems. For instance, an image recognition AI is trained using thousands of pictures and their labels to teach it to name objects it scans. When an image is scanned by such an AI, it uses the training images as references to understand the contents of the image presented to it, and based on its “learning experience” it labels new images with increasing accuracy.

Almost all present-day AI applications, from chatbots and virtual assistants to self-driving vehicles are all driven by limited memory AI.

3.    Theory of Mind

While the previous two types of AI have been and are found in abundance, the next two types of AI exist, for now, either as a concept or a work in progress. Theory of mind AI is the next level of AI systems that researchers are currently engaged in innovating. A theory of mind level AI will be able to better understand the entities it is interacting with by discerning their needs, emotions, beliefs, and thought processes. While artificial emotional intelligence is already a budding industry and an area of interest for leading AI researchers, achieving Theory of mind level of AI will require development in other branches of AI as well. This is because to truly understand human needs, AI machines will have to perceive humans as individuals whose minds can be shaped by multiple factors, essentially “understanding” humans.

4.    Self-aware

This is the final stage of AI development which currently exists only hypothetically. Self-aware AI, which, self explanatorily, is an AI that has evolved to be so akin to the human brain that it has developed self-awareness. Creating this type of Ai, which is decades, if not centuries away from materializing, is and will always be the ultimate objective of all AI research. This type of AI will not only be able to understand and evoke emotions in those it interacts with, but also have emotions, needs, beliefs, and potentially desires of its own. And this is the type of AI that doomsayers of the technology are wary of. Although the development of self-aware can potentially boost our progress as a civilization by leaps and bounds, it can also potentially lead to catastrophe. This is because once self-aware, the AI would be capable of having ideas like self-preservation which may directly or indirectly spell the end for humanity, as such an entity could easily outmaneuver the intellect of any human being and plot elaborate schemes to take over humanity.

The alternate system of classification that is more generally used in tech parlance is the classification of the technology into Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), and Artificial Superintelligence (ASI).

5.    Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)

This type of artificial intelligence represents all the existing AI, including even the most complicated and capable AI that has ever been created to date. Artificial narrow intelligence refers to AI systems that can only perform a specific task autonomously using human-like capabilities. These machines can do nothing more than what they are programmed to do, and thus have a very limited or narrow range of competencies. According to the aforementioned system of classification, these systems correspond to all the reactive and limited memory AI. Even the most complex AI that uses machine learning and deep learning to teach itself falls under ANI.

6.    Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

Artificial General Intelligence is the ability of an AI agent to learn, perceive, understand, and function completely like a human being. These systems will be able to independently build multiple competencies and form connections and generalizations across domains, massively cutting down on time needed for training. This will make AI systems just as capable as humans by replicating our multi-functional capabilities.

7.    Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

The development of Artificial Superintelligence will probably mark the pinnacle of AI research, as AGI will become by far the most capable forms of intelligence on earth. ASI, in addition to replicating the multi-faceted intelligence of human beings, will be exceedingly better at everything they do because of overwhelmingly greater memory, faster data processing and analysis, and decision-making capabilities. The development of AGI and ASI will lead to a scenario most popularly referred to as the singularity. And while the potential of having such powerful machines at our disposal seems appealing, these machines may also threaten our existence or at the very least, our way of life.

At this point, it is hard to picture the state of our world when more advanced types of AI come into being. However, it is clear that there is a long way to get there as the current state of AI development compared to where it is projected to go is still in its rudimentary stage. For those holding a negative outlook for the future of AI, this means that now is a little too soon to be worrying about the singularity, and there's still time to ensure AI safety. And for those who are optimistic about the future of AI, the fact that we've merely scratched the surface of AI development makes the future even more exciting.

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9 ? to Ask When Hiring an SEO Expert

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9 ? to Ask When Hiring an SEO Expert

Nine Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Expert

If you're not an SEO expert, you might wonder what to ask when hiring SEO staff or consultants. How do you tell the difference between someone who knows exactly what he or she is doing and someone who just knows a lot of lingo?

I divided the SEO-centric questions into three categories:

General Knowledge. First, determine whether the candidate is well-versed in the SEO basics. "You want to see that sort of knowledge that indicates ... they're really deep into the process of doing SEO," Fishkin explains. "They live and breathe this stuff. They know it like the back of their hand." He suggests you ask questions like:

What is rel=canonical? (What does it do? How does it work?)

How do search engines treat the meta refresh?

What's an image title versus an alt attribute?

Strategy and Tactics. Then it's time to go beyond general knowledge and find out how well a candidate can handle SEO:

How would you create a site to rank for this set of keywords?

What are some of your favorite scalable link-building tactics?

How would you get video content into Google?

Tools and Metrics. Finally, notes Fishkin, you want to discover how candidates approach problems, "whether they're a critical thinker or whether they just take things on face value, which in the SEO world is not a great idea."

What data would you use to judge the value of a link?

What tools do you use to measure your competitors' keywords and traffic?

How do you measure social activity on a site?

The Po!nt: Optimize your interviews. You'll make the best SEO hire by asking the best questions up front.

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Are You feeling Lucky?

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Are You feeling Lucky?

One of the biggest distinctions between old publishing and new is the nature of luck.

The fact is, in the old model, something had to become a bestseller. What to Expect When You’re Expecting Justjust hit its tenth year on the bestseller lists (520 weeks in a row, 17 million copies sold). It’s a great book from a great publisher, but a run like that is as much the work of good timing, good breaks and the fickle finger of fate. There’s a reason the expression, “surprise bestseller” is in the vernacular. Most bestsellers are in fact, surprises.

Do the math: 170,000 real books published a year, probably 50,000 of them are commercial, well constructed and seriously published. Of those 50,000, as many as 100 (that’s 2 a week) hit their potential. One out of five hundred. It’s got to be some book, but it doesn’t have to be yours.

Since there doesn’t appear to be a significant correlation between publishing prowess and success (even great editors, great marketers and great sales teams at publishers don’t regularly succeed), at some point it comes down to a spin of the wheel. And the author gets to take that spin at someone else’s expense. Yes, she has to write a great book and yes she has to tour or whatever the publisher asks, but it’s the publisher that’s putting cash and risk on the line. Why do some books from unknown authors sell great while others don’t? No one knows.

Compare this to the lonely life of the self-published author. This is street fighting, one reader at a time. Getting a word file turned into an ebook is trivially easy. Getting a book into the world isn’t so hard. Being discovered and talked about: really hard.

Building a tribe is not a matter of a miracle, instead, it’s about converting tiny groups of people at a time, leading them, connecting them, building an audience. When a self-published author does this, she has a new job. Not the author part, the publisher part. She’s not putting a book into the universe and hoping it will be found. She’s not even putting a book in a journalist’s hands and hoping it will be hyped. No, she is engaging in a years-long journey to build a platform. It might take a decade to become an overnight success, but if you keep it up, if you keep building, the odds keep getting better and better.

That’s why it’s silly to compare the two ways of making a book happen. If you can get a great deal from a publisher and you’re into the spin, go spin! If you want to control the building of the platform, get your hands dirty and avoid the whims of fate, then the other path makes a lot more sense, no?

[analogy alert: the above applies to your career, to musicians, to entrepreneurs, to VCs, coaches and just about everyone who is hoping to get picked.]

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Repurposing content

Repurposing is a simple and efficient way to make a 
single idea, product or concept divide and grow 
exponentially - bringing with it a wider market, larger 
exposure and more profits.
Taking one great idea and spinning it off into many 
great ideas is the cornerstone of repurposing. A 
single information product, a book for instance, can 
grow into a series of books, lecture tours, Internet 
articles, training seminars, e-books and much more.
Repurposing existing content can take the grind out 
of creating new information products

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Online Training Programs ?

It used to feel like anyone could throw up an online training program on Kajabi and—POOF!—they'd have a strong class of students.

As more people enter the market, if you want to stay ahead, you've got to stand out from your competition. You have to deliver relevant, useful and timely content that's meaningful to your audience. And you have to help your students fulfill a need or solve a problem quickly, effectively and permanently.

One of the ways I do this in my business is by leveraging what I call the CAP Method:

  • My Corporate Perspective: Drives ROI and looks out for the bottom-line impact.

  • Academic Perspective: Drives content structure to create a consumable, engaging curriculum for students.

  • Personal Development Perspective: Drives empowerment to help students follow through—and makes the intangible real.

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Become Extraordinary and Unfuckable

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Become Extraordinary and Unfuckable

Become Extraordinary
In order to be extraordinary, you need to adhere to two simple laws: “to be unfuckwithable” and “to embrace your quest”. The former is about getting rid of your fears and anxieties through self-fueled goals. And the latter – about knowing where you’re going from the start.

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How much of the internet is FAKE

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How much of the internet is FAKE

How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually.

In late November, the Justice Department unsealed indictments against eight people accused of fleecing advertisers of $36 million in two of the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered. Digital advertisers tend to want two things: people to look at their ads and “premium” websites — i.e., established and legitimate publications — on which to host them.

The two schemes at issue in the case, dubbed Methbot and 3ve by the security researchers who found them, faked both. Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. Views, meanwhile, were faked by malware-infected computers with marvelously sophisticated techniques to imitate humans: bots “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers.” Some were sent to browse the internet to gather tracking cookies from other websites, just as a human visitor would have done through regular behavior. Fake people with fake cookies and fake social-media accounts, fake-moving their fake cursors, fake-clicking on fake websites — the fraudsters had essentially created a simulacrum of the internet, where the only real things were the ads.

How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”

In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. The internet has always played host in its dark corners to schools of catfish and embassies of Nigerian princes, but that darkness now pervades its every aspect: Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed maybe both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.

The metrics are fake.

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Take something as seemingly simple as how we measure web traffic. Metrics should be the most real thing on the internet: They are countable, trackable, and verifiable, and their existence undergirds the advertising business that drives our biggest social and search platforms. Yet not even Facebook, the world’s greatest data–gathering organization, seems able to produce genuine figures. In October, small advertisers filed suit against the social-media giant, accusing it of covering up, for a year, its significant overstatements of the time users spent watching videos on the platform (by 60 to 80 percent, Facebook says; by 150 to 900 percent, the plaintiffs say). According to an exhaustive list at MarketingLand, over the past two years Facebook has admitted to misreporting the reach of posts on Facebook Pages (in two different ways), the rate at which viewers complete ad videos, the average time spent reading its “Instant Articles,” the amount of referral traffic from Facebook to external websites, the number of views that videos received via Facebook’s mobile site, and the number of video views in Instant Articles.

Can we still trust the metrics? After the Inversion, what’s the point? Even when we put our faith in their accuracy, there’s something not quite real about them: My favorite statistic this year was Facebook’s claim that 75 million people watched at least a minute of Facebook Watch videos every day — though, as Facebook admitted, the 60 seconds in that one minute didn’t need to be watched consecutively. Real videos, real people, fake minutes.

The people are fake.

And maybe we shouldn’t even assume that the people are real. Over at YouTube, the business of buying and selling video views is “flourishing,” as the Times reminded readers with a lengthy investigation in August. The company says only “a tiny fraction” of its traffic is fake, but fake subscribers are enough of a problem that the site undertook a purge of “spam accounts” in mid-December. These days, the Times found, you can buy 5,000 YouTube views — 30 seconds of a video counts as a view — for as low as $15; oftentimes, customers are led to believe that the views they purchase come from real people. More likely, they come from bots. On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations. If you want a picture of what the Inversion looks like, find a video of a “click farm”: hundreds of individual smartphones, arranged in rows on shelves or racks in professional-looking offices, each watching the same video or downloading the same app.

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This is obviously not real human traffic. But what would real human traffic look like? The Inversion gives rise to some odd philosophical quandaries: If a Russian troll using a Brazilian man’s photograph to masquerade as an American Trump supporter watches a video on Facebook, is that view “real”? Not only do we have bots masquerading as humans and humans masquerading as other humans, but also sometimes humans masquerading as bots, pretending to be “artificial-intelligence personal assistants,” like Facebook’s “M,” in order to help tech companies appear to possess cutting-edge AI. We even have whatever CGI Instagram influencer Lil Miquela is: a fake human with a real body, a fake face, and real influence. Even humans who aren’t masquerading can contort themselves through layers of diminishing reality: The Atlantic reports that non-CGI human influencers are posting fake sponsored content — that is, content meant to look like content that is meant to look authentic, for free — to attract attention from brand reps, who, they hope, will pay them real money.

The businesses are fake.

The money is usually real. Not always — ask someone who enthusiastically got into cryptocurrency this time last year — but often enough to be an engine of the Inversion. If the money is real, why does anything else need to be? Earlier this year, the writer and artist Jenny Odell began to look into an Amazon reseller that had bought goods from other Amazon resellers and resold them, again on Amazon, at higher prices. Odell discovered an elaborate network of fake price-gouging and copyright-stealing businesses connected to the cultlike Evangelical church whose followers resurrected Newsweek in 2013 as a zombie search-engine-optimized spam farm. She visited a strange bookstore operated by the resellers in San Francisco and found a stunted concrete reproduction of the dazzlingly phony storefronts she’d encountered on Amazon, arranged haphazardly with best-selling books, plastic tchotchkes, and beauty products apparently bought from wholesalers. “At some point, I began to feel like I was in a dream,” she wrote. “Or that I was half-awake, unable to distinguish the virtual from the real, the local from the global, a product from a Photoshop image, the sincere from the insincere.”

The content is fake.

The only site that gives me that dizzying sensation of unreality as often as Amazon does is YouTube, which plays host to weeks’ worth of inverted, inhuman content. TV episodes that have been mirror-flipped to avoid copyright takedowns air next to huckster vloggers flogging merch who air next to anonymously produced videos that are ostensibly for children. An animated video of Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen riding tractors is not, you know, not real: Some poor soul animated it and gave voice to its actors, and I have no doubt that some number (dozens? Hundreds? Millions? Sure, why not?) of kids have sat and watched it and found some mystifying, occult enjoyment in it. But it’s certainly not “official,” and it’s hard, watching it onscreen as an adult, to understand where it came from and what it means that the view count beneath it is continually ticking up.

These, at least, are mostly bootleg videos of popular fictional characters, i.e., counterfeit unreality. Counterfeit reality is still more difficult to find—for now. In January 2018, an anonymous Redditor created a relatively easy-to-use desktop-app implementation of “deepfakes,” the now-infamous technology that uses artificial-intelligence image processing to replace one face in a video with another — putting, say, a politician’s over a porn star’s. A recent academic paper from researchers at the graphics-card company Nvidia demonstrates a similar technique used to create images of computer-generated “human” faces that look shockingly like photographs of real people. (Next time Russians want to puppeteer a group of invented Americans on Facebook, they won’t even need to steal photos of real people.) Contrary to what you might expect, a world suffused with deepfakes and other artificially generated photographic images won’t be one in which “fake” images are routinely believed to be real, but one in which “real” images are routinely believed to be fake — simply because, in the wake of the Inversion, who’ll be able to tell the difference?

Our politics are fake.

Such a loss of any anchoring “reality” only makes us pine for it more. Our politics have been inverted along with everything else, suffused with a Gnostic sense that we’re being scammed and defrauded and lied to but that a “real truth” still lurks somewhere. Adolescents are deeply engaged by YouTube videos that promise to show the hard reality beneath the “scams” of feminism and diversity — a process they call “red-pilling” after the scene in The Matrix when the computer simulation falls away and reality appears. Political arguments now involve trading accusations of “virtue signaling” — the idea that liberals are faking their politics for social reward — against charges of being Russian bots. The only thing anyone can agree on is that everyone online is lying and fake.

We ourselves are fake.

Which, well. Everywhere I went online this year, I was asked to prove I’m a human. Can you retype this distorted word? Can you transcribe this house number? Can you select the images that contain a motorcycle? I found myself prostrate daily at the feet of robot bouncers, frantically showing off my highly developed pattern-matching skills — does a Vespa count as a motorcycle, even? — so I could get into nightclubs I’m not even sure I want to enter. Once inside, I was directed by dopamine-feedback loops to scroll well past any healthy point, manipulated by emotionally charged headlines and posts to click on things I didn’t care about, and harried and hectored and sweet-talked into arguments and purchases and relationships so algorithmically determined it was hard to describe them as real.

Where does that leave us? I’m not sure the solution is to seek out some pre-Inversion authenticity — to red-pill ourselves back to “reality.” What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t “truth,” but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be. Years of metrics-driven growth, lucrative manipulative systems, and unregulated platform marketplaces have created an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real. Fixing that would require cultural and political reform in Silicon Valley and around the world, but it’s our only choice. Otherwise, we’ll all end up on the bot internet of fake people, fake clicks, fake sites, and fake computers, where the only real thing is the ads.

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Evolving From Human To Machine

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Evolving From Human To Machine

Evolving From Human To Machine:

Most entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants believe this lie:

"The work I do and the results I generate for my clients is special. Only I can do it, nobody else can perform my magic. My clients hire ME".

Believing this lie is a deathtrap in business.

When you believe the work you do is "magic" and "special" and that your clients are hiring "you" personally, you chain yourself to endless slavery.

There's two stages of evolution for entrepreneurs:

1.0 Stage -- The "in the flesh" stage. (manual labour, limited scale).

2.0 Stage -- The "machine" stage. (automation, unlimited scale).

You must evolve from providing value "in the flesh" to providing value via "the machine". The outcome for clients remains the same, the delivery vehicle of that outcome changes.

Instead of using your organic body (atoms), we use machines (bits).

When you do this, you'll escape the laws of physics & biology.

But but but... Sam, the work I do can't be automated with a machine?

Not true. You may think the work you do is "magic", but it's not.

Magic is simply something we don’t understand, cause and effect relationships we can’t see with our naked eye. There is always a method behind the magic -- a series of actions that generate a series of reactions.

Understanding these cause-effect relationships, mapping them and turning them into a repeatable process -- this is what we call a “proof of concept”.

Once you have a clear proof of concept you can evolve from the 1.0 “in the flesh” stage to the modern 2.0 “machine” stage.

Clients want outcomes, they don't want an organic human body using their mouthes to reverberate sound waves at them.

When you realize it's not your human flesh that your clients want, and that it's the information you provide them so they can get results, you'll be free.

Because when you have this realization, you can deliver that information using machines, you can put the info in courses, videos, workflows, etc.

Now you're delivering results to clients without critical dependance on your organic body. Now you can escape the laws of physics and biology.

Now you are truly free!

When I made this change in my business, everything changed.

I went from making $1m /year with 10 people, to making $1m /month with 1.

Three years later, I'm making $30m /year with 20.

The best part?

I'm nowhere near the limit. I'm just getting started. (seriously).

But now, I've got a question for you:

Do you want to stay in slavery delivering value in the flesh?

Or...

Do you want to be free and deliver value via machines?

If you want to evolve from human to machine, I've got something for you...


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7 Skills Every Young Entrepreneur Should Develop

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7 Skills Every Young Entrepreneur Should Develop

Every entrepreneur is a leader, and leadership roles are highly demanding. There is always a host of expectations to meet and a tremendous amount of pressure to handle.

This is especially true for startup founders. In the startup environment, the risk of failure is high and the business you are leading is often fragile and volatile.

The following skills are incredibly important for young entrepreneurs and startup leaders, because regardless of how great the business idea is, these skills are what will take a startup from an idea to an actual success.

Let’s get started.

1. You Have To Master Sales

Without knowing how to sell, a startup founder would be just another person with a great idea; to become an entrepreneur, I believe it’s essential to master the art of sales.

Great leaders are always selling. They must attract investors to invest in their company. They must convince talented employees to join their team. They must close customers on the value of their product.

Without embracing the art of selling, an entrepreneur can go only so far. Salesmanship is a pivotal skill in the culmination of your startup.

2. You Must Be Able To Assess Yourself

A startup, or any business for that matter, is unquestionably a volatile setting. Unpredictability, uncertainty, risks and failures are a part of you everyday routine, especially in the early stages. In order to lead such a volatile environment, you must be extremely self-aware. You need to understand and play to your strengths while also understanding and mitigating your weaknesses.

For example, a startup leader who is aware that marketing is not his strength will make sure to hire a marketer instead of wasting time trying on his own and failing at marketing activities.

Furthermore, being aware of these strengths and weaknesses will help you choose a team that can balance out your problem areas, helping you build a well-rounded team able to accomplish any needed task.

3. You Must Be Able To Balance Hustle & Life

Having a work-life balance might not seem very important when you are all caught up in the excitement of building and growing your own company, but trust me, it’s very much necessary for your long-term sanity!

A successful startup leader isn’t someone who has a great company but no life. Rather, it is someone who is great at time management and has both work and life sorted out.

Fortunately, we live in an age where a plethora of business tools and apps are available to help you manage your work time and increase your efficiency, allowing you to achieve work-life balance without much difficulty. When you are able to meet your human needs outside of work (or even during your workday), you will be far more productive during the time you set yourself to get things done.

4. You Must Have Peripheral Vision

Anticipating the future, envisioning the bigger picture, and guiding the team is an entrepreneurial leader’s primary task.

Your team and your employees can design awesome products by themselves, talk and convince clients without your help, and come up with innovative ideas on their own. What you are TRULY needed for is to ensure that everything, everyone and every decision is headed in the right direction and contributing to growth and success.

For example, you need to be aware of the changes in your industry. Are there new upcoming marketing platforms that could help your business? Is your technology going to become obsolete soon? Is the raw material price going to rise this year? Being able to spot, prepare for, and adapt to a changing environment will keep your business moving forward

Speaking of which…

5. You Must Be Able To Adapt

Only 1 out of every 10 startups survives, and that one startup wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t willing to change its original idea to fit what the market needed.

The market is what it is – an external factor. You have no control over it. All you can do is to stay in sync with it. For all you know, you may start out with one business model and ultimately end up with a completely different one.

Getting attached to ideas, plans and decisions can crush your startup before you even begin.

At my startup Media Marketing Management, we did about 5 iterations to our product before we could call it a perfect fit for the market demand. This involved replacing some marvelous features because there was no demand for them. Trust me, it hurt, but I had to be able to make the tough call and adapt to the market.

6. You Must Be Emotionally Intelligent

Emotional intelligence is not really emphasized enough as an essential skill for leadership.

Hiring, understanding, and motivating employees requires emotional intelligence. Building a strong team dynamic requires emotional intelligence. Successfully negotiating with investors and clients requires emotional intelligence.

You can’t escape the need for EI!

Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding and managing others’ emotions. It’s also about understanding and managing your own.

As a leader, you can’t afford to be driven by emotions or be whimsical in your decision making. You will need to be emotionally smart to become more objective and effective when making decisions.

7. You Must Be Able To Speak

Networking is an undisputedly necessary skill for a startup leader.

For example, having a wide network can help you test out product features and ideas before you bring them to life.

A network of trusted friends implies you can get a third perspective on your business at all times. Plus, this can help you promote your product faster and more efficiently.

Also, your network is one great place to look for the right kind of employees for your startup.

Final Thoughts

You may be naturally gifted with some of these skills and with others, not so much. But a skill is something you can learn, build and train yourself in.

There are some incredible resources out on the internet that will help you develop these skills. So don’t worry if you are lacking in some, you can get there with some effort.

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