Is Personal Passion Our Real Energy Source? Here’s Surprising Proof

Passion is like oxygen. Without it, it’s difficult to motivate ourselves to do anything.

Many people have probably counseled you to “follow your passion” as the key to having a fulfilling career. And being passionate about your career can be an amazing source of energy that can drive you to be successful. But your passion can also be outside of work, for what your career enables you to do. In this article, we’ll discuss what passion is, why it’s important, and proof for why it is our true energy source in life.


“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela


Just as the sun is the final, major energy source for everything on earth (burning fossil fuels? That’s fossilized trees, which is just previously captured solar energy)—passion is the major energy source for everything you do in your life. Ignoring passion is like attempting to blot out the sun: You can do it, but why would you? Life is so much better and richer if you don’t. If you instead embrace that energy source and build systems to capture it and use it to power the things you want to do.

Research has shown for over a decade that passion is a key predictor of success in entrepreneurship. The more passionate you are about what you are doing, the more likely you are to succeed.

But what is passion, really?

Passion is the fire inside that can keep you pushing even when the chips are down. It’s an emotion that pushes you to action, and that action can transform your life.

If you can harness your passion, you can achieve extraordinary things.

I might like to bake, but without passion for it, I will never keep pushing myself to get better and better, even through burns, cuts and bruises, setbacks and obstacles. It’s still just a hobby. That’s why I will never be world-class at it.

With passion, however, you will keep pushing. Even when things are terrible, you’ll still love it and want to go back for more.

If you have passion for something, you know it. No one needs to tell you, because it’s the thing you keep coming back to. Even when it’s hurting, you still can’t get enough.

But what if you don’t know what your passion is? That’s okay—it’s not too late. You can find your passion, and it can transform your life. Your life before you found your passion will seem strange and distant. You’ll have the singular purpose you always wanted. And it could be just around the corner.

In fact, that is exactly the topic of next week’s article: We’ll explore how to activate passion in your life. Whether it’s in your career or somewhere else, anyone can be driven by passion to achieve incredible things. Tune in next week to find out how.

And if you’re looking for a fresh new way to express your passion, you need to try Shoutworks. It lets you share your passion with anyone through over 200 million Amazon Alexa devices. And the best part? It’s totally free to try. Try it today.

Why and How to Host Online Events with WordPress

Have you been putting off your big event? You may not need to any longer. Why not have it virtually instead?

With the world distancing at home, the global events industry has taken a huge hit. So have those of us who enjoy events and rely on them to grow our businesses.

Luckily, a wide array of companies have stepped up in a massive way to enable virtual events that can be just as good or better than the in-person version. These online events can help you grow just as much as or more than events in the past.

Read this piece by our friends over at WP Explorer on why and how to host your own online events with WordPress.


On WPExplorer: Why & How to Host Virtual Events with WordPress


Three Secrets Engineers Use To Solve Tough Problems… Can They Work For You? 

When you are faced with a challenge, how do you respond?

Do you wade into the complexity and meet it on its own terms, with a complex solution? Avoid it and procrastinate until you’re forced to throw together a messy solution?

As it happens, complicated problems don’t have to have complicated solutions. There may be simple ways to tackle even the most complex of problems. Just ask engineers.

It bears mentioning that “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”. Something may be simple, but require a lot of work to execute. But that’s where your advantage can be, and the key starting point to thinking like an engineer.

Your problem-solving muscle is the one muscle you apply across every area of your life. So it makes sense that if you can improve your problem solving, you will feel the effects in every area of your life, too.

There are (at least) three simple principles that help the world’s best engineers solve problems that others think are impossible. The best part is, they are universally applicable: which means, you can use them in any part of your life to improve your results and more readily achieve your goals.


1. Is it the problem, or just a symptom?

All engineers start with properly identifying the problem.

Many people mistake the symptom for the problem itself. Then, when they expend a lot of effort to address it, they are exasperated when the problem keeps coming back.

Engineers have a simple moniker for this classic mistake: it’s a “band-aid solution”. The solution is not solving the core problem; it’s only addressing a symptom. The underlying problem is still there.

So how do engineers tell the difference between symptom and core problem? They have a fancy name for it that belies how simple it really is. They call it “root cause analysis”.

But what is root cause analysis, really? It’s simple: just keep asking “why” until you can’t anymore.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say a factory manager is walking through her factory and spies a puddle on the floor, a safety risk to the factory workers. She orders the assistant factory manager to clean the puddle up. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. She has only addressed the symptom. If the factory manager asks, “Why is this puddle here?”, she would discover that there is a leaky pipe above the puddle. If she asks “why?” again, she would find that the water pressure is set too high. If she asks “why?” again, she would discover that the water pressure valve is broken, and can’t lower the water pressure. Now she has discovered the real, root cause of the problem. When she replaces the water pressure valve, the problem is solved: she can lower the pressure, and there are no more puddles, no more leaky pipes, and no more safety hazard.

In just the same way, when you next encounter a problem, be sure to ask “why”, then ask again. And again, until you are satisfied with the answer. Once you find the root cause of your problem, the actions you take to solve it will be much more effective. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting effort on band-aid solutions.

2. Use first principles thinking.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City, is known for his extremely ambitious and effective problem solving. When asked about problem solving, he always refers to this one simple principle that he has used to revolutionize multiple industries.

The principle is “first principles thinking”, or what he calls a “physics framework”.

When he was first starting SpaceX in 2002, and began to take his first steps toward sending humans to Mars, he came upon a major challenge. He discovered, to his dismay, that the rockets he needed would cost up to $65 million apiece. He needed a different solution, or his brand new company wasn’t going to work.

So he went back to first principles. “Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy,” he said in an interview. “So I said, okay, let’s look at the first principles. What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around two percent of the typical price.”

Thus, instead of buying the rocket on the open market, he decided to purchase the materials and build it in-house. This approach is what has rocketed SpaceX to the success it enjoys today.

And within a few years, SpaceX was able to cut the cost of creating a rocket by more than ten times, while actually pushing forward new innovation in the industry.

So the next time you are up against a hairy challenge, break it down into the small elements you know to be true. Then build a solution back up from there.


3. Prototype solutions… A lot of them.

Linus Pauling, one of the most prolific and influential chemical engineers of the 20th century, has a saying that is popular among engineers and designers:


The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.


The truth is that the best solution to a problem may not be the obvious solution. It may not be in the first 3 ideas you think of. It may not even be in the first 10, or 20. As Pauling’s quote indicates, the best way to ensure you find a good solution to your problem is to brainstorm like crazy.

However, what many people forget is that it’s just as important what you do after you brainstorm all your ideas. How do you choose the best one? How do you know which will work?

The simple answer, which engineers know well, is to prototype.

No, you don’t need access to a 3D printer in order to create prototypes. A prototype is any cheaper and quicker representation of your solution that helps get you closer to understanding the effects it will have. A prototype could take the form of a sketch with pencil and paper and take no more than 30 seconds to produce.

A good prototype will simulate key features of the final solution. For example, let’s say you want to build an app. Instead of starting by hiring an app developer to produce the real thing immediately, you can start by sketching out the screens of your app on a piece of paper. You can even stack them together in order, to simulate the experience your app’s users will have. Then, you can get people you know to interact with your prototype and give you feedback.

The key here is to create many, many iterations of your prototype. Once you get useful feedback, create another version that incorporates what you’ve learned. Test it again. And again.

Once you have gone through several iterations, you will be amazed at the amount of progress you’ve made. You’ll go from a hazy idea of what you want and whether or not it would work, to a concrete model for building your solution in just the right way.

And it works for everything, not just apps. You can prototype a job interview by practicing with friends and mentors. You can prototype a new fitness regimen by playing around with your calendar. Try it the next time you think you’ve found a solution to a problem you’re facing.


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15 Proven Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store

The first step to making your online store successful is getting people there in the first place. Then, you can worry about converting them. But first things first!

So how do you go about driving traffic to your store? Here are 15 proven methods, compiled by our friends over at MonsterInsights. Take a read through to get some inspiration for driving traffic to your site.


Click to Read on 15 Proven Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Online Store


Get more conversions through voice! Click here to try Shoutworks free, and grow your audience, increase leads, and boost sales through the chatbot in everyone’s living room: Amazon Alexa. In one click!

Tips to Create Forms that Convert in WordPress

Web forms: We all use them. But are you getting the most out of yours?

Whether you’re using them for collecting contact information for new sales leads, signing up potential partners, or getting inquiries about a service, you don’t want your web forms to turn people off. Here’s how you can create forms in WordPress that entice people to convert.

This is an article from our friends over at WP Explorer. Click the link below to read on!


Click Here to Read on WP Explorer: Tips to Create High-Converting Forms in WordPress


Get more conversions through voice! Click here to try Shoutworks free, and grow your audience, increase leads, and boost sales through the chatbot in everyone’s living room, Amazon Alexa. In one click!

Three Secrets From eCommerce Leaders Will Change The Way You Think. How Do Amazon & Netflix Get It Right?

There’s no more competitive landscape than selling online. So how do some brands grow so quickly, and why do so many others fail?

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most important strategies and secrets that Netflix and Amazon have used to sell online and dominate their markets.

You’re going to learn how these two powerhouses of online sales use three things—customer obsession, one key insight about retention, and customers themselves—to consistently outperform the competition. Let’s dive in.


1. Obsess about the customer


“There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.” – Jeff Bezos


We can all say we’re obsessed with our customers, but what does that really mean? Obviously, Amazon and Netflix take it to a whole new level. Here’s what they mean by customer obsession that you can use in your own business.

Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings, when asked what is the key to Netflix’s success, famously replied: “Consumer science.”

He explained, “Leaders like Steve Jobs have a sense of style and what consumers seek, but I don’t. We need consumer science to get there.”

What he means is that using data, plus a scientific process, can lead you to outstanding results. That means not just listening to what customers say, but actively running experiments to test hypotheses about what will delight customers the most.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon embraces this philosophy as well. saying: “There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.”

What can you take away from this? Obsess. About. The customer. And while you should listen to what your customers say, you should also develop and test hypotheses about what will delight them.


2. Relevance = retention

One great use of data is for experimentation. But you can also use data to personalize the experience your customers have on your site.

One simple way do this by providing recommendations, as both Amazon and Netflix do so well. The more personalized the recommendation, the more relevant it will feel and the more likely it will be to drive a conversion, a sale, or whatever behavior you’re looking to drive.

Amazon’s recommendations are everywhere, and given the amount of data they have on each of us they can be quite good.

These make it feel like Amazon’s site knows you, and is a huge driver of value. You’ll be less likely to shop elsewhere, for fear of missing out on discovering something great.

Netflix switched early on from a 5-star rating system to a simple thumbs-up thumbs-down system. While a bit simplistic at first glance, this resulted in two things: 1) Ratings more than doubled as a result of simplifying the interaction, so Netflix gets more data; and 2) Netflix was able to implement a “percent match” instead, which is a metric that shows how closely matched something is to you. Netflix’s algorithms behind this are complex, to be sure, but the benefit is more than that, since you’re not looking at a simple aggregation of other people’s ratings. You’re getting what feels like a more tailored recommendation, which makes all the difference.



3. Let customers do the talking

There are two ways to let customers do the talking: Through product reviews on your site (the Amazon way), and actually getting people to talk to each other about your site (the Netflix way). We’ll start with Amazon.

The genius of on-site reviews is that if they really do come from actual people, they can be incredibly persuasive. 85% of consumers say they trust online product reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family! With verified customer reviews being so effective, you’d be crazy not to use them. But you’d be surprised how many don’t use them properly.

Amazon’s reviews do so well for them because everyone believes they are real. How about on your site? What can you do to improve the authenticity of your reviews? Even if you know they’re real, many people may not trust a site at first blush. One way to hack this is to steal shamelessly from Amazon. Here’s what Amazon’s reviews look like:

That’s from the popular “Inspire Me” Alexa skill that gives a dose of inspiration to thousands every day. Notice the date and location. The actual user account. The “96 people found this helpful”. The fact that it’s so easy to leave a review yourself. You can use these elements to build trust in your reviews.

Then there’s the Netflix way: Getting customers to talk about you socially to their friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, or anyone on the street.

How many times have you had someone ask you, “Do you watch [insert Netflix show here]?” as a way to find a common interest or start a topic of conversation? How many times have you done it?

Netflix shows are designed to be remarkable enough to shock people a bit, to arouse strong emotions of all kinds. The end goal? Getting you to talk about it with others. This was key to Netflix’s success as it shifted from “that company that mails DVDs” to the powerhouse online streaming platform we know today. And you can leverage that same effect in your own site. What can you offer or do that’s so remarkable that people won’t be able to stop talking about it?


BONUS: Let people customize their experience

The more people invest in creating value for themselves on your site, the more likely they are to keep coming back again and again. That is why you want to give them the tools to do their planning, thinking, and problem solving right on your site.

Most online selling experts will tell you that online sales works like this: That customers just have a desire to buy, then either will find your site or not, then will either buy or not. The more you can increase the rate of 1) finding and 2) buying, the more successful you’ll be. This simple model can help illustrate things for a bird’s-eye-view on strategy, but it is a vast oversimplification that can really hurt you if you take it too literally.

The reality is that people are impulsive, emotional, and influenced by many, many factors in their buying decisions. There is no single moment when the customer just decides to buy what you sell—it is a progression over time, a decision process that can be nudged this way or that by anything at all. It’s like the Butterfly Effect. This is why the best online sellers insert themselves into this process, to help the customer in their decision making process.

This is where Amazon’s “wish list” feature comes in. They have made a tool to help you decide what to buy! As you’re doing your product research (which 90% of online buyers say they do), you have a place where you can dump your options to access more easily later. Once you make your choice, just hit the “add to cart” button.

Can you spot the secret reason this “wish list” feature is so smart? Because once a customer starts to use it in their decision making process, they have just themselves erected a barrier that will keep them from exiting Amazon to buy on another site. Their options are already in Amazon, so it’s now much easier to just click the Buy button instead of starting the process over again. That is lock-in in action!

Thus, the more people invest in customizing their experience, making their decisions easier, and otherwise investing time on your site, the more likely they will be to stay locked in.


Another important way to lock-in customers is to offer them an experience that no other brand in your category offers. For you, that might be establishing a presence on Amazon Alexa in one click through Shoutworks. Click here to try it free, and drive more leads through voice today.

How to Increase Website Traffic: Direct, Search, Referral, and Social

Where are your website visitors coming from?

If you don’t know, it’s going to be very hard to grow. If you do understand your traffic sources, however, you can immediately find some actionable steps to grow your audience and grow your business.

In this helpful article, WPMU Dev’s Martin Aranovitch discusses the four traffic categories—Direct, Search, Referral, and Social—and what they mean for how to focus your marketing efforts.


Click Here to Read How to Increase Website Traffic: Direct, Search, Referral, and Social


Want to drive 43% more traffic to your site through Amazon Alexa, while you sleep? You’ll want to try the Shoutworks plugin (takes 2 minutes). Quick, do it before everyone catches on!