Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Challenge from Down Under

So, my Auckland, New Zealand, brother (actually, one of those people who is like the brother I never had), Brian Morris, has sent me a challenge. Do, I accept his challenge? Brian, who is five years my senior, later this week, has a correspondence school he operates internationally from Auckland. For the last year or so, he's been working at transitioning out of the school business and developing an ebook publishing business.

Oh yeah. The challenge, you ask? Brian has also been teaching some workshops in ebook writing and publishing and his assignment to his class is to publish a new ebook for distribution through the Amazon Kindle publishing program by January 31, 2013. He, of course, as the instructor, is setting the pace by publishing his next ebook by that same date. Brian has been on my case for months and months about me getting some ebooks published. So, he has challenged me to write and deliver an ebook to him to launch on Amazon by that same January 31st deadline. Of course, due to the time difference and the international dateline, I'd have to meet that challenge by January 30th.

So, do I accept the challenge? What are the pros and cons? Certainly writing is not an issue for me. Actually, the number of words he requires as a minimum isn't actually much more than some of my longest blog posts. Most of those are written in less than a day. Research? Heck, with the Internet, any topic I select has a wealth of information at my fingertips, literally. Actually, I could probably scan back through my more than 200 posts and find one on a topic that I could easily expand into a small ebook. Of course, I could certainly do a book on my 12 Steps for Living Free, but I have that earmarked for a larger book I'll be publishing myself. Getting this first book done through Brian's challenge will get me off "start" and hopefully result in getting the aforementioned 12 Steps book completed and launched as well as a few others. Time is not a serious problem. Certainly I have the time to undertake the challenge, but time management is a bigger issue for me.

I honestly can't think of any cons or downsides to accepting the challenge. So, what's holding me back? Personal inertia! That's it. Nothing more or nothing less. Getting off stop and putting the pedal to the metal.

Accordingly, I believe I'm going to accept the "Challenge from Down Under." The first step is selecting a topic and coming up with a good "grabber" title. Twenty-one years ago I was in New Zealand conducting a series of seminars on "Making Money at Home" organized by my buddy, Brian. But, the world has changed a lot since that time.

Cell phones were still expensive, heavy and limited in the functions they provided. Computers were still large and laptops, notebooks, net books, ultra books and tablets were a thing of the future. There was no Internet open to the public, yet, and the World Wide Web, email and texting didn't exist for the vast majority of the world. Accordingly there was no Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, Facebook, Google, Skype and Square-up, to mention only a few, and desktop publishing was still in its infancy. The terms on-line, ecommerce, ebooks, podcasting, iTunes, uploading, downloading and others hadn't been coined, yet. It was a very different world exactly 22 years ago this month when I went to New Zealand to conduct those seminars.

I was a one person business back then. I operated from my home. My desk overlooked the lake I lived on. I was the CEO, Chairman of the Board, producer and the janitor. For all practical intents and purposes, Brian operated his business on very similar terms about a half a world away. Our leashes (freedom to leave our offices/homes) were pretty short back then and limited to remotely accessible electronic voicemail if your phone company offered it, a magnetic tape based answering machine that could be accessed remotely by touch-tones if voicemail wasn't available and a phone company issued phone calling card that allowed you to make long-distance phone calls from almost any phone or payphone in airports, hotels, etc. The two final items were a very large brief case carrying all your heavy, paper-based, necessary files, letterhead, envelopes, stamps and good typewriter skills adaptable to whatever typewriter might be available. Essentially, one-person, home-based businesses just didn't allow for a lot of freedom.

I did something in January 1991 that I had never done before. I left my office on January 2nd and out of the 31 days of that January, I was gone, approximately 25 days out of the month returning for only one short period to dump my bags, run some wash, repack and head back to San Francisco on another project for about four or five days. This was unheard of for me up until this point in time. The impact on me was the development of an an appetite for more. Yes! A lot of things didn't get done at the office/home that January. Yes! I was busy and stressed catching up when I got back. But, I began looking for ways to make this freedom more realistic and practical.

It took several years. I got my first very expensive, bulky and primitive cell phone in the spring of 1992. I upgraded my computer to a Windows based system, retiring my trusty but limited Radio Shack "Trash 80" (TRS-80). I began getting involved in the emerging Internet in 1994 and began using email as a major form of business communication. As the cell phone services and the phone technology continued to evolve, I upgraded to gain more and more freedom. In 1999 I acquired my first notebook computer and realized even more freedom.

While my businesses still utilized wired business phones, a fax machine, file cabinets full of paper and an array of "tower" computers, networked together and all on the Internet, my main personal business computer was now a notebook. In 2008 I bought a net book computer, smaller and lighter, but capable of doing virtually everything I needed to do on the road. I bought my first smart phone in 2007, providing even more capability and freedom. I began moving my working files to small, portable hard drives in 2011, so I have every file I might ever need with me anywhere in the world and they take up little space and don't add any significant weight.

My latest generation smart phone currently allows me to do almost anything I can do with my computer including access the Internet and even connect my computer to the Internet through my phone. I'm also in the process of moving certain files to the "cloud" and adapting to cloud based application programs like word processing, spreadsheets and similar.

Twenty-two years ago I couldn't have dreamed how technology would "unleash" me to wander the globe as I can today. I take care of business while sitting inside or in my car at all kinds of locations. Some of them include: McDonald's, Burger King, Denny's, Starbucks, other coffee shops, my all time favorite - Panera Bread Cafes, many on the road travel centers, airports, interstate highway rest areas, clients' offices, friends' homes, public libraries and many other places that are easily accessible to anyone traveling. Heck, this past summer I was even checking email and sending emails from 30,000 feet in a big silver tube hurtling through the sky.

Many of us take this all for granted. Many of us have figured out that technology has truly "unleashed" us and opened opportunities we never would have dreamt of before. But, I dare say, for each of us who have embraced this technology and put it to work for ourself, there are five, ten, maybe even hundreds or thousands who don't have a clue. I think it's time for me to update my "Making Money at Home" topic and make it "Making Money from Anywhere Using Technology."

So, there's my challenge. I'll let you know how it all pans out and when you can find the book on Amazon's Kindle site.   


Melissa West said...

Good luck! Sounds exciting...I hope you enjoy the challenge. Writing is fun stuff!

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thanks, Melissa --

You're write, oops, right, writing is fun stuff.


John W. Abert said...

From reading your blog, you and I have a lot of similarities in our backgrounds, and yet I still continue to struggle to make money from home. I'm going to send you a private email, to maybe pick your brain a bit, and see if there's any of my talents that maybe you can use. I've always found that networking with the right people can produce better results for all.