Infographics: Your UVP is the Number One Determinant of Your Business Success

Your Customers Should Understand Your Unique Value

What one business statement makes everything you’re doing make perfect sense? It’s your UVP.

Creating this statement can be a fun and illuminating experience, if you’re passionate about your business. I hope you are.

eyechartuvpMost businesses fail or succeed due to this one factor: their unique value proposition.  This statement of who you are and what you offer makes choosing your company a no-brainer for your customer.  It helps you differentiate your product/service/company as the only one your customer should consider. You’ll build loyalty, sales, and an unbeatable brand — in any industry when you do it right.

Creating an accurate, perfectly descriptive UVP takes time so have fun with it, open your mind, and get ready to see the core essence of whatever it is you’re doing. I want to discuss the basics of your business UVP and hopefully you’ll provide your feedback on how you did it and what’s important. I’d like to hear from you.

Seek Perfect Clarity – You Won’t Regret It

ClarityIf your UVP is not crystal clear in your mind (or in your marketing communications), your prospects/visitors/customers will be confused too. Or, they won’t be compelled to do business with you because you didn’t hit the bullseye with them.

All of your business activities, marketing strategy, staffing choices, and goals, actually sit on top of your unique value proposition. Everything points back to your UVP. From a strategist’s point of view, it’s important stuff. Without it, you don’t really have a strategy. You’d have a bunch of tactics (which is how it really is with many marketing departments).

When you’re confused here, you waste more time and money , lose sales and customers, and even generate the wrong clients/customers.

It’s All About Marketing, and Marketing’s all About the Value Proposition

If you can only give your customers one thing, make sure it’s your UVP. No one cares that your product’s hard drive is bigger, processor faster, and that you have 1000’s of apps. Product improvement isn’t the key. Your current unique value — and this goes beyond features and benefits, to include the customer experience and personalization. We’ll get into the exercises in my next post.

In its simplest terms, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide and how you do it uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives – Michael Skok in post.

Children, mothers, fathers, employees, athletes, musicians, entertainers, and everyone else have unique value propositions. If we fail to provide some compelling value to others, they’ll disregard us. Therefore, having a clear, powerful and productive UVP has survival value – and actually is a key to happiness.

It’s Not Enough to Be the Most Valuable – You Must Communicate it

Why do some of the best products and companies disappear? Because they didn’t get their message across laser accurate, or they presented their amazing value proposition to the wrong target audience. And not knowing your UVP means you don’t even know what compelling value you have to offer that’s better than your competitor’s.  That’s why customers leave and go somewhere else, and why they click away from your site online.

Your UVP – Positioning You as the Most Compelling and Relevant

Your brand image and your UVP are intimately intertwined. While brand image is about the message being conveyed to whom, the UVP is more about the value of what you’re bringing. Some might argue that they’re exactly the same, but the customer doesn’t really see the whole value that is being created in the background. The UVP goes deeper into your company and its personnel and how much value can be generated.

Your UVP is how you do business and even who you do business with – your customers. It’s expressed in all your activities.

Selling Luxury Real Estate to the Wealthy

A good way to learn UVP strategy is through a case: My former client Dream Homes Magazine is the premier real estate magazine for the wealthy and prestigious. Its print publications showcase incredibly beautiful homes in California such as San Diego and all over the world. The pictures show rooms, landscaping, and vistas that can make you cry. The magazine is exceptionally well designed.

DHM caters to what everyone dreams of, but only a few will ever enjoy. And that exclusivity is a key part of their value proposition to targeted wealthy buyers.


The magazine’s photos and copywriting are excellent. Do they really hit the mark with the wealthy?  If wealthy buyers do dream of elevated lifestyles, does the material convey the relevant lifestyle benefits perfectly?  There’s plenty of questions to be asked to your customers and to yourself when you’re developing a UVP statement.

There’s no replacing the power of high resolution pictures in a big glossy magazine that presents itself almost as a coffee table book. You can’t get the same experience via a laptop or smartphone display. Technology has diminished a key part of their value proposition — an easy to read print piece that’s a conversation starter. Without that, upscale real estate agents may not be willing to buy ad space in their magazine.

This is not the usual real estate market. These are million dollar exclusive properties and buyers have very different values and preferences.

Many real estate agents are testing waters with their own websites and online presentation. But you can’t hold a website in your hands like you can a print magazine. The print magazine is still a key part of  DHM’s UVP (they have digital versions on the website).

There are Many Customers to Serve

Dream Homes Magazine has 2 audiences: wealthy home buyers and real estate agents/brokerages. Other audiences are advertisers of home related products. Now, online, there’s a 3rd audience. These are thousands of social media and web users who might spread the word about Dream Homes Magazine if they had a compelling reason to do so.

And that’s critical. To be successful, you must get other people to promote you – to pass on your unique value proposition.

Dream Homes Magazine’s UVP: [my version]  DHM is the largest and most compelling source of luxury real estate listings and opportunities, and the premier, prestigious print real estate publication with the widest geographic distribution. Being listed in DHM is the only way to be seen, admired, and respected as a top luxury home seller, since buyers buy image.

Unfortunately, other competing luxury home magazines crowd the market with hi-res glossy photos and slick copywriting, and with good distribution.  Competitors could position themselves to offer more homes of a particular type, price, location, and amenities.  But specialization is very costly in print.

What DHM could do is grow their presence online via social media – to generate conversations that make the home shopping experience more pleasurable.  Social media is all about conversations, transparency, trust, and delivering value. Digital conversations tend to isolate themselves to online, but they can also point to real world events, activities, and lifestyles. This is where a business can really differentiate itself and add value to customers.

More, improved pictures, slicker copywriting, better layout, and better distribution won’t do the trick.

This is the same problem millions of businesses are facing: how to do digital, print, and customer experience marketing simultaneously.

Their new UVP: [my version] DHM is the premier shopping centerpoint for the luxury homes most in demand by discriminating buyers.  We offer unique photographic perspectives, distinctly styled copywriting, and showcasing of luxury home agents to present a powerful, compelling image to buyers, and we engage them in conversations that make their home shopping an intensely enjoyable experience. We bring our agents into buyer’s lives to help them discover their dream lifestyle.

Of course, the complexity of such a business is well beyond us, however the principles of discovering a UVP and building out your business upon it are the same.  Be true to your core and you can be more confident it will work.

How To Get Started with Your New UVP

Discovering your UVP begins with good questions:

  1. Who are you and what is it you want to offer the market?
  2. Who is your target market precisely?
  3. What does your target market want?
  4. Specifically, why is your product/service the most relevant?
  5. What are our most important features and benefits?
  6. What is it that makes you and your company uniquely differentiated?
  7. What questions should you ask your customers when you interview them?
  8. How can you present yourself so that you can’t be imitated?
  9. Which marketing tools will best help you communicate your UVP?
  10. What needs to change from where you are now to where you need to be?
  11. What are you doing right now that’s really wrong?

There’s a lot of questions to ask, and you’re likely aware that asking the right questions is a key to success.

Also part of your business/personal UVP are issues such as being fascinating and compelling, choosing the right customers,  developing your imagination, protecting your freedom, and identifying the skills your business needs to possess.

Good luck discovering your true UVP and applying it successfully.


Here’s a few more resources that might help:


Here’s a general description via an inforgraphic from Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel.


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Infographic Courtesy of Quick Sprout 

Digital Salary Survey Fall 2014

Digital Media is King

The rise of digital media in the business and marketing realm is nothing new. It’s just now it seems that digital workers are getting some respect. But while some digital superstars are highly sought and well paid, salaries for others will not be all that great.

Bobby is a friend of mine in his 20’s. Well educated and multi-talented, he’s able to travel internationally as a copywriter for his company. His picture demonstrates his excellent creativity. Traditional pay and benefits will not appeal to Generation Y. They seek lifestyles.

If you’re an entrepreneur who desperately needs good digital marketing talent, you’d be wise to use a well-connected recruiter to find the best. Wasting your time and money on the big talking wannabees could cost you big time.

If you’re a digital worker, it might sound the alarm to be aware of skills development and knowing where the best digital niches are. Instead of jumping jobs, you may want to stay put, manage your employer’s demands, and build up to date skills they can leverage. Then it’s a win-win situation.

If you’re a medium-sized business manager, you may have the maximum flexibility to acquire the talent you need, pursue market niches, and provide the pay and benefits talent is looking for.  You’ll want to look at the talent’s skills and their growth potential as well. One benefit large corporations can’t offer is growth.

The 2014 Salary Benchmarks Survey

The 2014 Salary Benchmarks Survey conducted by Marketing Magazine is available in the November edition.  The report reveals that salaries are beginning to rival the levels of traditional marketing staff such as VP marketing and brand managers.

The list below lists salary levels according to the size of the firm.  Surprisingly, the strategist positions have lower levels of salary compared to manager positions. This might tell us that companies are still struggling with implementation and management of digital marketing initiatives. Performance is not yet high on the agenda as yet.  It appears companies are withdrawing funds from traditional media and throwing it at digital hoping it’ll stick somewhere profitable.

2014 digital jobs salaries

I think the best comment from the article was Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche in Toronto:

“Agencies are facing an identity crisis as their clients increasingly build internal teams. The war for talent has intensified. The winners will be those organizations with great leaders and interesting business models, as well as flexible cultures that focus on getting out of the commodity game and communicating an incredibly clear vision for success in their market niche. The ones that will lose are those that take a dictatorial approach to leadership. Those cultures are generally unbalanced in terms of work-life balance expectations, and will continue doing business in the same antiquated ways. Many think that a beer fridge and one or two cool client accounts are all they need to retain talent. They’re wrong.”

My View of Digital Jobs and how Canadian Companies will compete:  smaller firms will need to find multi-talented digital producers who can fill several roles and offer more support to others on staff.  These could be personalities who don’t fit into rigid corporate cultures.

They’ll need to be very creative with providing benefits/perks which larger firms will not provide.  Work autonomy, vacation time, work hour flexibility and other benefits are proven to be what workers want. They’ll want to take a good look at what Google has done in that regard in the last 10 years.

Staffing Strategies Will Need to Evolve Fast

Filling their teams with specialists will keep salaries low. so they’ll be unable to keep the good talent they have. Many will be desperate, stuck using marketing interns to do work they can’t cope with. With big companies buying smaller ones and merging, the demand for good specialist talent will grow and they’ll raid the smaller firm’s staff.

Gen Y workers overall will become increasingly less loyal as they scramble to find good paying jobs, while employers will struggle with the decision to try to retain and train them. Oddly, while employers are ignoring headhunters and recruiters with assessment skills now, they may need them to find and determine which employees are worth hiring and hanging onto.

Salaries reported for copywriters, web designers, art directors, web developers, application developers,  and database managers are shockingly low, from $32k to $84k per annum.

Money seems to be attracted to positions where decisions need to be made and there’s control of a product.  The rise of mobile will create demand for mobile content producers and mobile advertising specialists.

Here are a few of the salary ranges reported in Marketing Magazine’s 2014 Survey:

  Large Companies Mid Sized to Small Smaller Entrepreneurial
  Start Top Typical Start Top Typical Start Top Typical
CEO 250 1,600 300 – 500 180 850 200 – 375 120 750 150 – 300
VP Marketing 110 300 180 – 225 90 225 165 – 190 90 200 110 – 150
Analytics Manager 70 140 80 -110 65 140 75 – 110 60 100 65 – 95
Social Media Strategist 50 150 70 – 110 40 150 55 – 90 40 150 55 – 80
SEO/Search Marketing Strategist 65 150 75 – 90 60 150 80 -90 60 150 70 – 90
Digital Product Director 100 225 120 – 160 70 200 100 – 120 60 175 85 – 110
Content Strategist 60 90              
Content/Editorial Director 100 225 120 – 160 70 200 100 – 120 60 175 85 – 110
Ecommerce manager 80 120 80 – 120            
Data Analyst 60 80              
Mobile Director 100 225 120 – 160 70 200 70 – 200 60 175 85 – 110
Statistics Courtesy of 2014 Salary Benchmarks©, Marketing Magazine

For more information on salaries, check out

Good luck with your staffing goals and objectives in 2015. If the economy does improve, the competition for the best will be intense.

The Top 12 Factors for SEO Mastery

SEO Will Never Disappear

Panda Penguin images courtesy of Web Yours.

It’s been 19 years now since I began search engine optimization and it continues to deliver the highest ROI of any marketing channel. The traffic potential is greater than ever.

Although people believe everything has changed in SEO, in reality, it’s pretty much the same even with its new RankBrain master algorithm controller.  I explain this in the Guide to SEO and Content Strategy.

Google Likes Lots of Money

Google made the changes not for better results, but to force spammers and small businesses to pay for Google advertising. That worked surprisingly well since their profits are up billion$

If you’ve given up on SEO because you heard it was irrelevant and that social media is everything now, you’ve misunderstood the truth. The fact is, Google is still the major source of quality referrals and revenue for most businesses.

What is Modern Search Engine Optimization?

Modern SEO revolves around sophisticated keyword phrase choices, epic engaging content and powerful outreach strategies. It’s about really good visual content that engages readers so they stay and then share it online.

With respect to keyword choices however, Resonation is where the sophistication comes in. Using keywords in your links and headings won’t give Google the quality signals it’s looking for.  Google assesses your page, your site, the trustworthiness and authority as well as the keyword themes of the pages that link to your page to gauge its keyword relevance. You still get much of your ranking from other websites.

Google’s new ranking emphasis also revolves around content engagement. They can see if your content is engaging to visitors or if they’re bouncing off of your website.

What are the Top SEO Ranking Factors?

Google reports that they use over 200 factors in ranking web pages (and they are more focused on single pages now than ever before).  I cover the key ranking factors in my SEO Book, but here’s a quick list of what your SEO expert will have to take into consideration.

Here’s the 14 Most Important Ranking Factors:

  1. Keywords in copy
  2. Keywords in headings
  3. Keywords in page url
  4. Quality of websites/pages linking to your site (authority, keyword themes)
  5. Visitor engagement
  6. Synonyms, related words and stemmed variations in the copy and near text links in the copy or clickable buttons
  7. Good paragraph structure
  8. Keywords near links
  9. Links from other websites that have a reputation for that keyword topic
  10. Links from very trustworthy sites (Google’s trust factor)
  11. Social cues: links amongst and to your social media pages (as long as you link them to your website)
  12. Fresh, frequent content
  13. Traffic to your site and time spent (yes Google does track it)
  14. Expert internal linking of your content

Each of these ranking factors are important so use them all well. Google looks to the core unique content on your pages and filters out anything that is repeated such as your footer links and navigation menus. There’s not much your webmaster or designer can do for you now to raise your rankings. What they need to do is stay out of the way and not screw up robot access or key content navigation routes for users and Googlebot.

Creative, Passionate, and Focused Experts are Worth Every Penny

For all intent and purpose, your content strategist and copywriter are your SEO team. Look for SEOs that are compelling writers who create fascinating, unique, original material woven into your content fabric. Sophistication means moderation and focus in orchestrating your symphony of Google cues.  You’re creating the ultimate experience for Googlebot, Google searchers, and most importantly your customers and clients.

By all means, check out my new Content Strategy Book available for purchase.

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Web Sites – Are Your Web Pages Serving a Purpose?

Your Web Pages Look Pretty but Do They Have A Purpose?

Are your web pages working like one happy team to get your message across powerfully and move your visitors to the right action?  That would translate into a lot of revenue.

You spent a lot of money on design and coding of your website.  But in all that frenzied planning for mobile device compatibility, SEO friendliness, user-friendliness, and ecommerce readiness, is it all dressed up with nowhere to go?  If you’re suspicious about an underperforming web site, maybe it’s time to get back to basics and get your pages to create customers.

The fact is, your pages represent your business. They’re your online employees. You have to understand their role, if you expect to measure whether your site is successful or where it is failing.

Samsung’s products are captivating but can you tell what that object is above? Do you understand how it relates to Samsung’s UVP? The image links to their Samsung Gear product page where you’ll discover it’s a new type of watch. They make the visitor think hard to figure out how it works and why it is relevant. After seeing these 2 pages, do you understand Samsung’s unique value proposition? What do you want to do next? Do the other pages accessible via this page help you commit to a purchase action, or are you lost in a sea of slick imagery and copy, ready to leave the site? Does this impel you to buy it online or go to a retail store? Or is it simply a self-admiring statement about the Samsung brand?

And this is where so many websites are sorely lacking. A good part of that deficiency comes from a lack of strategy – content strategy and business strategy.  The growing interest in customer experience strategy suggests marketers have neglected it and we’re all thinking more about how visitors navigate and experience the brand on the site.

Your Unique Value Proposition is Your Starting Point

Strategy evolves from your unique value proposition. If you don’t know what your UVP is, you’re in trouble — because you don’t know what issue you’re solving for your customer, better than all your competitors.  Why should visitors trust you and do business with you? What is your compelling proposition?

Hubspot is well known for it’s applications and capabilities in inbound marketing. Their about us page is very sophisticated, but does it work to build credibility to potential subscribers? Is this page for users, developers, or potential investors?  After reading this page, are you feeling impelled and being directed to product page that is relevant to you? After reading this page, are you certain of their authority and credibility as a provider of the best inbound marketing software?

What is Your Sales Team Telling Them?

Your pages get your proposition across in a compelling fashion and move the visitor to do business with you. Your web pages are your CSR, sales, management and administrative team. They speak as one to get your UVP across.

Each page plays its role in capturing attention, informing, building attention and desire, and then generating an action. It takes more than pretty design and the latest HTML5 coding to do that today. It’s competitive online.

As any branding guru will insist, each page must support the brand image, which in essence is your unique value proposition. And each page should support other pages. This way, the visitor is moved into the other page with purpose and in a way that continuously builds the brand image in their mind.

What is the Objective of Each Page?

Let’s take a closer look at the true purpose of each page:

The Home Page is often considered the face of your business.  People will arrive and stay for 5 seconds. This page must get your value proposition across brilliantly right away. If you’re too impressed with yourself or product, your visitor will fail to understand what it is you will do for them.

About Us Page supports the unique value proposition set forth on the homepage. It greets the visitor as a friend, and with authenticity allows the visitor to see your management, staff and products/services as they really are. Transparency and authenticity rule, but you get to reveal your brand image in an entertaining way that elicits trust.

Product Pages demonstrate product features and benefits and when these flow beautifully from the brand’s unique value proposition, the products become irresistible.  If these aren’t believable, then you’d better load up on guarantees and trust signals to get the customer to buy.

Service Pages bring assurance that active benefits will absolutely be delivered. If your pages work together as a team to project trustworthiness, transparency, clarity, and authenticity, customers will gain tremendous confidence in your service quality.

Contact Us Page – if your other pages have built desire and intent, the contact is often the page they see before they contact you. What do they see? Your address and phone number?  This page needs to be a friendly but professional and personal invitation to let the visitor tell you their problems and needs. It shows you sincerely want to help them.

Testimonial Page  – customer endorsements and comments can help significantly if they corroborate with the unique value proposition you’ve fused into all your pages.  Their testimonial needs to complement what has been done in the other pages.  A testimonial that doesn’t look perfectly authentic can damage everything you’ve done.

Special Purpose Page – These pages are created specially for showcasing your unique value proposition. It could be a new product announcement or a promotional event. The page breaks the visitor away from the dull and routine into a special magical place where you can reach them emotionally or drill a very specific point into their mind. For specific audiences, these can be excellent landing pages that perform much better than your common pages. A blog post can be a special purpose page.

The role of each page and the nature of its content can be much more sophisticated. These are the basics you need to put some thought  into.  As you’re creating your pages, keep your UVP in mind.

In a recent blog post, I highlighted how the personalized unique value proposition is becoming haute couture for professionals.  Real estate agents, artists, comedians, and performers must leverage the power of their own personality to deliver a brand that is inimitable. When others can’t copy you, and steal your brand value, you can win big.

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The Pursuit of Happiness: 12 Keys to Feeling Good & Empowered

What are the Keys to Happiness?

It’s been many years since I wrote this post on happiness, the most elusive thing in many people’s lives. Most pople live their lives casually never thinking about developing a sustainable way of feeling good.

In this age of empty values, fragmentation, and poverty, I can’t think of too many things that rank above happiness. Happiness is a reward you bestow upon yourself when you do things right. It’s a primitive signal from your body that you’re taking care of it. It’s nature rewarding you with a blissful state of warmth and well being.  The body even releases hormones as a way to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing.

And if you find no joy in your current workplace, home or city with the people in your life, it’s you warning yourself. Change is needed. You might need new frends, new activites or pursuits, or perhaps you need to spend more quality time with your friends and family. Maybe you need to move somewhere else, because “HERE” doesn’t work for you.

Why Can’t I Escape the Trap I’m in?

It’s a complex topic and I think you’ll find some interesting insights to help you move your happiness needle to the right.

What’s dawned upon me is that happiness could be whatever you want it to be – you get to choose your path and what you feel about your experience.

Yet, the world around us can impose, restrict us, and make our life miserable. Props won’t work. A phd, a new car, million dollars, perfect health, lots of friends, job opportunities, safe community, and a beautiful house won’t guarantee happiness.

Happiness comes down to a question:  How do you feel about what you’re doing with your life right now? It’s not the past and it’s not the future. What is stopping you from feeling 100% about you right now?

If you don’t like your current life and situation, unhappiness is the result. Are you a victim, or is it possible to move in the direction of happiness just by making a decision right now to take that path?

Whatever the pain, you must take action and move toward a better life for yourself — on the basis of faith in yourself.

Adapting to the Less than Ideal

Adapting is being comfortable and avoiding discomfort. Comfort is related to contentment and contentment is the realxed state we want, yet contentmnet is temporary.  I can speak as a seasoned expert on the fact that we adapt ourselves to misery instead of facing the pain and uncertainty of choosing what we want. It’s in how we’re raised.

From a young age we’re punished for wanting what we want and we’re rewarded for adhering to rules and restrictions.  Our inner voice dies and we lose the confidence to take chances to be happy. We lose our freedom.

If we look at happiness as some Eastern religions do, being happy could be a state of balance, equinimity, harmony, and peace, free from fear and anxiety rather than fleeting states of exhilaration and laughter. However, happiness can still exist when other bad things are present.

Of course, that perspective might not fly with theme park owners and Hollywood comedy film writers. It seems we believe happiness has a lot to do with euphoria not equanimity.

Expert physiologists may agree with the euphoria crowd, that endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin don’t flow without the euphoria. There’s not much research pointing out the healthy state of mind and hormone levels that come with just being yourself and liking yourself as you are.

Psychologists point to action, reaching positivity, but they may not ever ask “what do you want?”

With these opposing views in mind, let’s look into what the 12 factors of happiness are.

Are you Feeling Really Good Right Now?

Yes, well congrats, because in this day and age, you’ve beaten incredible odds. Enjoy this amazing time for you. Just take note that this is a pinnacle moment for you. In fact, at a time when minimum wage is a career path, $50k student loan debt, society is shattered, when all you believe through common sense is doubted and trashed by the media, your brief moment of happiness is still wonderous. You are a marvel.

A relaxed happy smile is nice to see. Is she just spoiled, priveleged, and lucky? You don’t know do you? Could be, she has suffered greatly yet still has a direct connection to her inner spirit.

Happiness is a very complex topic, one that few are brave enough to tackle.  The complexity is mind-boggling. So relax.  Does it really matter that you’re not a genius, adventurer, socially popular, or the Dali Lama?  Did you ever think that genius, adventure or martyrdom might your problem anyway? You can figure this out.

Don’t look for all the answers about why you can’t get a degree, fall in love, get married, have kids, have a great continuous 40 year career, stay continuously respected, enjoy freedom, attend parties once a week, avoid disaster, meet family and employer expectations, earn big money, achieve inflencer successs, or write a respected book. If you can break it down to these 12, you might do well.

There are 12 tenets of happiness below that will help you reconnect to yourself  and build such a profound internal strength that nothing will stop you from feeling good consistently.

This post is for those of you who  are in tough situations right now and likely feeling skeptical. I understand competely.  I’ve seen enough stinky, drug induced, pierced/tattoo homeless, angry, ill-behaved, and silent people to know that certain things can wipe out happiness completely. I know it from experience.

There’s a lot of poverty — a key driver of most unhappiness.  Poverty is devastating because our society is built completely on money. Without it, you are in trouble. I’ve gone through homelessness, social assistance hell, death, sickness, strife, unemployment, hopelessness, family strife, career failure, and so many other losses. These experiences when analyzed have tremendous value — you learn a tremendous amount from failure and disappointment.

A lot of people want instant results, in marketing and in love, career and in lifestyle.

  • you realize you’re a good person and you could do better next time
  • you realize your failure isn’t life ending, that the next time could well have it all
  • you remember times when you were happy, and that they will happen again
  • you realized that you once you got momentum, things improve nicely
  • you realize that the job, person, lifestyle, income, and is as close as you believe they are

Turns out that one factor does make a big impact, even for people who just lost millions of dollars, lost someone they care for deeply, didn’t achieve their dreams, are stuck near homeless, can’t pay their bills, and who suffer guilt because they didn’t achieve what others expected.

And this thing that I speak of is barely understood by the surgeon general, Dali Lama, the Pope and others. Happiness  comes from within – it’s a direct positive line to yourself. Our culture cuts that direct line. The industrical society wants productivity from you, and doesn’t care if you end up with depression and a feeling of emptiness. The corporate gods want money.

Today, even Santa has to think about what matters to him.
Today, even Santa has to think about what matters to him.

If you’re not in the category of sad, depressed, unsuccessful, poor, trapped, and irritable, then this post probably won’t mean much to you, unless you’re the victim of self-deceit. If you are unhappy, and you’re wondering why your yoga, exercise, activity frenzies, family get togethers, and meditation aren’t making you happier, then by the end of this post you’ll understand why.

YOU: Sharing and Caring

This post has one laser clear concept and 12 tips that support that happiness principle — one that nature gives us, but our society takes away. It comes from my experience, extensive studies, and my observation of people who seem to be happier and not prone to feeling down.

When I was young, I had no idea why they were so resilient and upbeat. Some of these people have nothing to feel good about, but still do. That flies in face of what our culture tells us.

2 critically important points: It’s all about sharing and caring.

Generous, giving people are usually happy because thery’re supercharging their own happiness.  They care so much about you, they give what they have to help you.  Humans are social, and sociability has survival value, so it’s not surprising that sharing is one of the high values of a civilization, whether it’s food, information or help.

While happiness comes from freedom, that freedom is enhanced when we share with others. Sharing also enhances the results, provides feedback, and creates reciprocol support for you.

As part of your search for the perfect social and prfoessional connections, choose people who are really into the things you’re most passionate about. They may have personal issues, they may not be all that good looking, and may not be rich, yet they share your passions and with them, your  thoughts, opinions, humor and generosity mean something.

Create a crcle of like people to supercharge your feeling of meaning, relevance, and self-esteem, and accomplishment.

Avoiding Bad Advice – The Things That Could Make Your Feelings Worse

Two years ago, I read a blog post on about the 7 ways people poison their happiness. Avoiding negative people and surrounding ourselves with positive people was the advice in a nutshell. Okay, good quick fix for avoiding poisoning your life, however it creates the wrong mindset.

Leaving our happiness hanging precariously out there like that, where we’re so vulnerable to others bad attitudes, where we have no control, isn’t a good approach.

Our happiness shouldn’t be dependent on others. We should have control of it and we should nurture and protect it effectively. While his advice was well meaning, it tends to make even more susceptible to the moods, attitudes and beliefs of others, which often have an adverse effect on your mood. It creates a negative cycle, or syndrome that you’ll never escape from.

In this widely shared post, by Keep Inspiring Me, the writer focuses on 30 factors that may reduce happiness. That’s all well and nice, but it misses the real crux of the matter — that core of happiness is to be true to ourselves and to be true to our own passions, intelligence and belief in ourselves.

You can see this in practice when people insist on doing things that are right for them such as buying a house, going back to school, travelling, going for a walk, joining a sports team or community club, and other things that really make them feel fulfilled.  You often hear them say “No, I’m doing what I want. I’m excited about this even if you aren’t.

And that statement paraphrases the whole matter perfectly.

I’ve got 12 key factors that feed into the core of long term happiness. Yes, money, security, career, travel and leisure, and good health are all part of it, yet these don’t mean much if we can’t take control of our happiness.

Is happiness a place or a static situation you exist within, or is it a process and a goal? It’s all of these and you must take control of each and enjoy each.

Depression and Who Controls Your Happiness

The matter of who controls our happiness inspired me to dig in and discover the essential attitude, state or direction that creates good feelings and fulfillment. I could cite people who are incredibly happy and joyful, but you know what? You probably wouldn’t want their lives even if you were paid to live them.  You’ll understand why shortly.

Of all the factors of success, happiness is also the ultimate scorecard. And although we can generate periods of happiness for a few years, to sustain it might might require a little more knowledge and a determined commitment. What do you think, right now, is that commitment?


Sharing is Good for your Social Health. Share this post on Happiness to remind people that they do control their sense of fulfillment.

The only reason we work hard, get married, buy a house, make money, achieve, exercise, travel, and share experiences with others, is to feel happy and fulfilled.  But does anyone understand this fleeting state called happiness? It wouldn’t hurt to take a closer look and yes you can sip some wine and nibble at your chocolate:)

Who Owns our Happiness?

All too often we feel that happiness is outside our control.  That belief is almost institutionalized, pushed on us, and enforced by everyone we know. There is a strong bias against the personal underpinnings of happiness.

Photo courtesy of Paul the Counselor

To feel good about yourself and celebrate your life is likened to conceit and narcissism and being anti-social. Better to be responsible to others and miserable than to pursue your own joy. To be self-motivated, courageous, and actively display self-approval can get you labelled as wacko. In times past, this is how governments and religions imposed control, and they still do this. They’re not concerned with your happiness, they’re concerned with their control.

People, good and bad, often make demands that aren’t wise.  We need to say No. And there is an author who touts the power of saying NO. Saying no is a good example of rejecting others negative influence and staying true to our core.

It seems we need outside validation for everything we do all day long. I’d say that as Nathaniel Brandon said in The Psychology of Self-Esteem, that if you don’t love, honour, and celebrate yourself first, you’ll never achieve much or be happy. Brandon did much investigation of how society turns us against ourselves in an endless binge of self-hate and self-disparagement.

“To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” — Richard Branson

“True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self.” –– Joseph Addison

Is money important? Yes. Money represents work, energy, socializing, privilege, and even trust. Without it, we can’t make our lives work. Each person has their own setpoint of income where they can make their life work. With all due respect to Walden and his log cabin, some of us require an exciting, active existence to be happy.

What do Happy People Feel?

  1. self-respect
  2. comfort
  3. secure
  4. socially-connected
  5. healthy
  6. satisfied/fulfilled/content
  7. hopeful
  8. fully engaged/active

Being True to Thyself

Being true to thy self may be the most important pursuit in life, but it doesn’t mean others will let you.  If they’re not happy, they’ll want you to join them. And sometimes misery isn’t a single human being. Many times misery comes in groups with their dysfunctional and obnoxious groupthink, where you’re told what you should pursue and value, and how to behave.

Graphic courtesy of Kaylee Coppola at Pinterest

Our happiness seems to be something owned by others for which we rent at the going rate. It might be leased too, in deeded form. As long as we keep paying the mortgage payments, we get our daily dose of approval. Without taking control of our feelings of happiness, we can’t possibly be successful. We have to take back our control of self-esteem and put others in their place.

One big source of unhappiness – other people, and taking back your right to feel good about you is what it’s all about.

JP Sarte, the French Philosopher said “The devil is other people.” What he probably meant was other people’s beliefs and values are the devil.  Alienating your own goals, needs, desire and beliefs is the fastest route to ongoing misery.  And putting other people first is tough to break if it’s become part of your personality structure. But you can change.

What really is essential  is what you feel and think.  Left to your own devices, you probably would feel very good about yourself all the time.  And you’d be smart too, not contorting or diminishing yourself to allow others to feel good about themselves. And when you’re reading blogs about success, ambition, self-improvement, and even happiness, you need to stand your ground and feel good about where you’ve gotten in life. What experts and fools believe doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is your commitment to yourself and what you really want. What you want is usually valid. But then, what is it we really want?

Check out this post on vision boarding, and use to create a picture of a better life, with you at the center purusing patiently those things you dream about. If you dream about them and feel very good about them, they’re likely worth pursuing.

Please make sure what you’re dreaming about and pursuing isn’t just a fancy, or a neurotic compensation for your current boring life.  That would lead you down the wrong path. Think of the most ambitious, challenging, exciting and most fulfilling things you could head toward, and you’re likely getting it right.

Check out this post on passion and this one on fascinating people. You need to be fascinating to yourself, and pursue your passion.  Also check out those post on what your spirit means and about the joy of travel (revitalization).

Happiness and your Heart’s Real Desire

And isn’t it sad when our work, lifestyle, situations, or entrepreneurial ambitions also become a trap that leave us wanting our real heart’s desire? And what happens when we seemingly can’t have our heart’s desire? Do we give up, settle, forget, re-evaluate, play mind games with ourselves, or just work harder?

Photo courtesy of – Daily Positive Inspirations

Your own ambition can become a form of torture unless you know yourself, accept yourself, and pursue things that really do represent who you are about. Others will have opinions about that. That’s not to say other’s opinions are wrong and misguided. But they don’t know really know you. So in a pleasant and respectful fashion, you can acknowledge their offering and that you’ll take it under advisement. If you acknowledge their values and opinions, they might stop bothering you.

I’m not a believer in Freudian childhood trauma theories and I know for sure that our thoughts about the future are delusional. Our happiness or misery is about the present, and we shouldn’t have to hide that. If others think our unhappiness is somehow a reflection of them, they could be right, but that’s their problem.

Altruism, Meditation, Status? I Don’t Think So

Search Inside Yourself – Mindfulness & Emotional Intelligence for leaders, supported by science.

I wrote about Google’s approach to business and its  creative, positive environment for employees.  However their top HR guy, Chade Meng Tan says he found Google employees were unhappy. He left his spot as Google engineer, and made it his mission to find out why.  If he believes meditation, money, altruism, good attendance, new projects, or achievement will create happiness for them, he doesn’t understand what people are searching inside themselves for.

If Google employees became unhappier, it’s likely because Google’s needs rose above their own.  Tan needs to reconnect employees with their own individual purpose. Google won’t lose any profit when staff become engaged with their reason to make more money for the company.

Happiness and misery are as fleeting or lasting as we want them to be. We get to choose.

Your Sense of Self Worth and Happiness:  12 Ways to Enforce It

  1. Join with others and give of yourself; share, participate and enjoy more of what makes you feel good
  2. Do what you like to do: listen to your favorite music, exercise, go to parties and out to restaurants, do social media, date who you want, read what you want, and celebrate your private victories.
  3. You can’t do it all – relax and accept your real abilities but know that you are great
  4. Don’t be afraid of who you really are, good and bad – relax and accept yourself and don’t let others tell you who you are or what is best for you, or that you aren’t great
  5. Make some close friends – give and take with people who are meaningful to you and who support your personal strength, enablement, and positive future
  6. Feel good about being alone with yourself – be your own best friend no matter where you are
  7. Don’t worry about not having complete control – manage what you can and be the master
  8. Be okay about failure – you’ll learn from it and it guides you to doing the right thing and not be quick to take others advice
  9. Be true to thyself and your own values – Your first priority and commitment is to you and what you want to experience (make sure that’s in your marriage and employment contract).
  10. Be content with your achievements, looks, lifestyle, brains, and situation. You’ve done what was expected, and this is where you are now. You’ll be moving to a happier place soon.
  11. Be open to new opportunities to fulfillment – don’t shut yourself out – you deserve the best. Your openness to opportunity may be the single most important factor in your life, and you’ll realize this when you’re older
  12. Be open to new growth opportunities – you need to be confident of taking care of your life and if you find your heart’s desire, it will be so simple to grow and learn.

That’s my humble look at the matter of happiness and how to enforce it.  You’re your own cop. You have the authority, right, and power to serve and protect.  And remember, good deeds speak.


Going back to the beginning, I mentioned that you probably wouldn’t want to live some happy person’s life. I hope you understand that happiness is uniquely ours. We can’t wear someone else’s life like wearing their clothing. Wear your own happiness.

What if your digital marketing strategy was an adventure? What would it look like? A safari, a wingsuit flyby of a building, a mountain bike ride, surfing a big wave, exploring a lush rainforest, or racing a Porsche down a winding mountain road?  Don’t make it dull. Jettison the common and choose me!

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