10 Secrets to a Successful membership site

A lot of people are talking about membership sites these days. There are a number of advantages to creating one; most specifically, it allows you to receive residual income from people coming to your site for membership benefits.

Typically, when you market an information product, most people buy the product from you, pay you once and just go away. You may keep them on a mailing list and send them other offers from time to time. When you put people into a membership site…your customers pay you month after month…and you can make the product more affordable…AND provide a whole lot more content and multi-media experience…such as a video showing people how to do it.

I recently heard a great podcast from Internet Business Mastery  on membership success secrets, and this post is primarily thanks to Jay and Sterling. (if you are not listening to these guys, I highly recommend them).

While the temptation is to rush out and create a membership site right away, here are some success strategies you should consider when making your own membership site.

1) Create a community.

While your customers may initially join your membership site for your “premium content”, give them more than what they bargain for. Surround them with a community. As Jay and Sterling points out, “people came for the content, but they are staying for the community.” This is especially true if you are actively involved to build a caring and supportive community.

Attrition is the #1 enemy of operating a membership website. The more community energy/culture you can build, the less attrition you will experience.

Help the members find the support they need. Encourage new members to ask questions, and old members to help new members feel welcome. Ideas such as a general greeting announcement from all members to say “welcome home” to any new members makes them want to belong.

Choose a membership system where your members can “drill down” other members…much like Facebook, Linkedin, etc. The more you can help them get to know each other..the tighter the bond…the longer they want to stay.

Facilitate local meet up groups. Encourage your members to form their own master mind groups. Facilitate ways for them to have “side ways” communications with each other.

Seed your community with key customers and vendors. This is crucial in the beginning to build critical mass and content. Give key members deep discounts or even free membership for their name/brand/content/contribution to your network.

2) Provide a Step by Step Guide.

Often times, when you join a community site, it can be overwhelming. There’s usually so much content that it is overwhelming. Make your content displayed in an easy “Step 1, Step 2″ format. At the very least, give your members a “Getting Started Guide”. Show them what to do.

Provide your members with a Week, by week guide. A Work Book, or some way to keep them moving forward and on progress.

If your site has technology to restrict access to content until a certain number of days/weeks has elapse since the member has joined, all the better. This content restriction is actually good…as it does not overwhelm your clients (and keep them on your membership site for longer).

One of the top 3 reasons why people leave community websites is confusion. When people get confused, they disconnect…when they do this, then you’ve lost them. Make it simple.

3) Create a Clear Procedure Manual – Systematize everything

Document your process. “McDonald-lize” your operation so that other people such as virtual assistants can follow your process. The idea about creating a membership website is to create residual income…and get your out of the day to day work. By documenting how you create content, how you create events, how you moderate inappropriate posts, this makes it easy for your employees/VAs to take over the task for you, so you don’t have to do it.

Start doing this practice early so the task is not so overwhelming. Create a schedule and stick to it.

4) Be in Integrity.

Deliver what you promise and more. Rise above the mediocre. Give people the “Wow!” This is how your business grows because the experience exceeds their expectation.

Do what you say you will do. This may be a no brainer, but you’d be so surprised how many people in business fall short of this. If you can’t deliver what you promised, then be honest about it. Don’t give excusses. The only way to succeed in this era is complete transparency. Otherwise, your people will talk…and news will spread.

In this age of low trust, your customer has shown considerable good faith to decide to do business with you. They are giving you an A score, and it’s yours to lose. Don’t waste it. Go from A to A++.

5) Provide a Resources Page

Include your rollerdex of vendors, clients, resources, websites, tools, etc that your people will need to be successful.

I’ve gone to so many conferences where the list of websites people share with me was well worth the price of admission. For example, a local media contacts list, where to buy stuff at wholesale, a list of websites/tradeshows to promote your products.

Include videos showing how to use the tools would also be handy.

6) Copy Best Practices

Join other people’s community sites. Don’t be judgemental or defensive. Keep an open mind. Learn. See what other people are doing that you like and dislike. Remember, “if you copy what successful people do…you will get the same results as those successful people.” It’s called mirroring.

Ask questions. Don’t be shy. The only silly question is the ones unasked.

7) Mix up the content.

Provide your content in a number of ways. Use videos, podcast format, as well as writing. Some formats work better than others.

If you are a gardener, then filming may be best. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities of production quality. People are very forgiving (within reason). Focus on the content.

If you are showing people how to use tools online…then a Camtasia video might work better. If you use a mac, I recommend ScreenFlow

Highlight Success
Congratulate and praise success stories from your members. Give them the spot light. Allow them to put up stories about their success. Interview them and put up the audio for others to listen to it. Success breeds success. People want to know “how did you do it?”

9) Keep it Fresh and Exciting

No one wants to join a boring and stale site. Regularly add content, updates…additional field research to your site.

Launch competitions and challenges with your members. Raise the bar. Push your people to be better.

Invite special guests to write articles/content on your site. Better still, host regular “members only” teleseminars/webinars with a special guest and allow members the opportunity to ask questions with your guest.

10) Membership has its priviledges.

Fundamentally, it goes down to “what’s in it for me?”. To keep your members excited and interested about your site, you have to earn their attention. Why should they spend time on your site rather than time with their family?

Give your members special discounts to your products. Haggle special discounts from other vendors to give to your members.

Put together a conference for your members to attend so they can meet one another. People of like mind build synergies, allow the magic to happen.

Make a place for your members to access you…a place where they can ask you questions and that you commit to answering without giving them your personal email address.

Encourgage your members to give each other “members only discounts” to sample/buy each others’ wares.

Maybe create a Join Ventures room for members to cross promote their products to each other’s lists.

Conclusion
I liken the membership experience to joining a guild in World of Warcraft. In WoW, in order to really get ahead, you should join a guild…yet there are thousands of guilds to join…which should you join? Some guilds are better than others. The best guilds are the ones that give it’s members common benefits. For examples, guild members get free stuff from other guild members instead of having to buy it from the auction house. They go on adventures together. Provide escort duties for members to go through difficult areas to fulfill quests.

Remember, there may be other products out there. Other gurus. Other places your members can spend their time, but they have decided to invest their time with you. Respect that. Give them a compelling reason to join, and stay.

Like any other business, owning a membership site is in many ways just like raising a baby. It’s an investment. The more you invest in time and love for the baby, the more it will grow.

Sincerely
George Tran

10 REASONS WHY MY DAUGHTER IS MY BEST FRIEND

There seems to be a set pattern in life of friends. There are the friends you will always have for life and can call up at any moment, chat like it was yesterday when you last talked and not speak for another four months.

There are the friends who you had when in college that you cannot hang out with now because they are “not married” and it just feel weird if they do not have a date. You know what I mean.

There are the friends you have who are married but do not have kids. They are great to hang out with but don’t understand when you go on a rant about how cute it was when the child did this or went potty in the big girl potty!

Then there are the friends who have kids close in age to you and it is great! But planning play dates are hard because nap times, mommy need alone time and a diet coke kind of day, or you really just do not want to get out of your pajamas.

Then there is YOUR BEST FRIEND. That’s right your children.

Here are ten reasons why my daughter is my best girlfriend in life:

You can rock out to music together:

Listening to Taylor Swift “Shake it off” ten times in a row seems a bit much. But when you have a tiny sidekick to literally “shake it” by your side then who cares! You can make a fool of yourself and not care because your best friend is too!

You always have someone to tell something to:

I love it because all day long I have random thoughts and will just say them out loud! My little talker will say silly things back like, “hm hmm mom- no way- ok- yup-see ya- bye” all at once like she gets what I mean.

You always have a workout buddy:

My favorite part of the day is when I sleep in and get up with the kids. This means I also get to do my morning workout with them! I love it. It always brings more laughs because not only do I have a copy cat next to me but I don’t feel as lame working out because she is doing much sillier workouts than me.

There is always someone to hug:

It is great having a best friend right next to you because there is always an unlimited number of hugs each day. You can never feel bad when you have someone giving you multiple hugs a day!

You ALWAYS have each others backs…even in the bathroom:

You know the drill, ladies always go to the bathroom together right? Well same applies at home. You can always have someone to talk to, someone to hand you toilet paper, or open and close the bathroom door for your entertainment.

Drives are never filled with a dull moment:

Whether it be singing nursery rhymes, telling them to look outside just to pass driving time, or listening to the sweet sounds of them screaming, you will always have someone in the car to “entertain” your every moment.

Going shopping is a self-esteem builder:

Now that I have a talker on my hands I feel that I can get an honest opinion out of her…

Me: “Do you like this shirt?”

Her: “yup mom i ke it!”

Me: “Do this look good on mom”

Her: “Yup mom peeety!”

Me:”How about this one, do we like it too?”

Her: “No goss let it go”

There will always be a goodnight kiss and story time:

I love reading stories with my little ones. I learn more from the stories than my kids do! I love that there is always someone who needs a kiss and hug before bed. No better friend than that!

You get to play dress up daily:

your inner child comes out. Before kids acting “goofy” implied hanging out playing games and calling it a night. Acting goofy with a toddler means dressing up as their favorite princess character and having tea parties on the porch…daily 🙂

You can always use each other for an excuse!

Lastly the one we know all of us has used more than once on “one of those days”. As best friends you know you can always use one another for an excuse and still love one another afterwards. Tell her sorry I used you and you get a simple “srry k” .

You best girlfriend in right under your nose (literally) . Go out for ice cream, feed the ducks or whatever your best friend loves to do! Chances are she will return the favor and do your favorite things also!

Thanks mom for always being my best friend and letting me use you for an excuse at times!

xoxo

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10 Habits Of Highly Annoying People

For my Top Ten Tuesday post I thought I’d take my pet peeves and types of people I find annoying and put them into a list. I do this in a poking fun manner and really don’t mean to offend. If you’re my friend or in my family and you’ve done/ do these things I DO find them annoying but I still love you. *Wink* I know I can be plenty annoying myself and have been the culprit of some, if not all, of these at one point.

1. Not RSVP-ing.

I have to say this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I’m always inviting people to something or other and find it really annoying when people don’t RSVP. It’s fine if you can’t come! But does it really take that much effort to send off a quick e-mail or click ” Not attending”? if I ask for an RSVP by a certain date I’m not just doing it for kicks. Most people need an RSVP so they can plan accordingly.

2. Nazi Mom.

You know the mom. The one who thinks her way is best and if you do something different you’re WRONG. And most likely a bad mother in her eyes. She forces her opinion on everyone whether they ask for it or not. The poor new mom is usually her largest prey.

3. Jay Walking At A Green Light.

Nothing gives me road rage more that someone who jay walks at a green light. It’s usually some punk with their pants hanging down their rear, who walks past the line of cars waiting to go through the light with a slow swagger. It makes me want to revv up and step on the gas every time. No, please. Take your time. I love knowing the color and brand of your underpants. You.are.the.man.

4. Mom who’s life is soooo much harder than everyone else’s. No really.

I’ve written about a “friend” who has always tried to “one up me” with the amount of kids she has or how she has no help or how her life is just so tough. When she had one kid I had no kids, so therefore she trumped me in the tough life category. When I had one kid she had two kids. Trumped again. When I had two kids…yep…she had three. When I mention a busy day ahead she says ” Yep! I have a busy day too. And I have to work.” Oh boy! I guess I have it easy!

I understand that there are moms who really do have it tough!! Much more so that I do. But, give me a break, some moms need to put on their big panties and suck it up! Most of the mommies I know are truly blessed and really have nothing to complain about. Especially if they live in America. As moms we need to support each other and show compassion and understanding. Not try to win the gold medal for MOST HARDWORKING MOM WITH A TOUGH LIFE.

5. Using text language in an e-mail or in comments on FB.

I cannot stand getting an e-mail or comment on Facebook with text language. I find it lazy!

Eatn at da food court n then goin shoppin. L8ter goin 2 da movies w my BFF n hangin out. Wut r u doin 2day?

Annoying much?

6. Not using punctuation when commenting or writing a status on Facebook.

Yet another habit on FB I find extremely annoying. And if you add the text language with it I don’t even bother reading or commenting.

Example:What a day don’t know what to do my car broke down and my boyfriend broke up with me what are you going to don though right

OR even worse:

Wut a day dnt kno wut 2 do my car broke down n my BF broke up wid me wut are u going 2 do tho right.

U.G.H

7. Saying “let’s hang out” but not really meaning it.

Does this only happen to me or is it a world wide phenomenon? I am always having friends and acquaintances who keep saying ” We should get together sometime” and never follow through. And what makes it all the more inconsiderate is when I try to make a date they start back peddling and telling me how busy they are and will have to let me know.

What?!? Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!

8. Taking forever to reply to e-mails.

Ok, I think I’m the only person I know who this really bothers. I’m very attached to e-mailing and Facebook as a way to communicate. I think three days is a good time frame to allow for responding to an e-mail. I don’t get people who take a week or more to reply to an e-mail I send them. Especially if it’s a question or some matter that is relatively important to me.

9. Saying you really want to stay in touch but never actually stay in touch.

I can’t stand it when someone says “I’d love to stay in touch with you!” and then I NEVER hear from them. This goes along with #8. Then when I finally hear from them or they finally respond to an e-mail I sent a long time ago it’s because they’ve been soooooo busy. Obviously busier than me. The fact of the matter is, you make time for what you really want to do. Therefore, if I never hear from you it’s because you don’t really want to stay in touch. Just save your breath and don’t say you want to stay in touch!

This is why I love Facebook. I find it to be such a great way to really stay in touch with people and know what’s going on in their life. This way you don’t have to write long update e-mails to friends and family. If you write a couple of statuses a day then friends and family comment,voila ,you’re staying in touch. And what I don’t get is people who get offended when they find out news about us way later than everyone else! If I don’t hear from you , you won’t hear from me. It’s as simple as that. Staying in touch is a two way street. If you don’t comment on my Facebook statuses, I won’t be taking the time to comment on yours. Oh, and “liking” everything doesn’t count.

10. People who blame their problems on everyone else.

We all know this person. They never take responsibility for anything in their life. They come in all shapes, sizes and genders. If they’re always getting fired it’s because the boss was bad or unfair. Nothing is ever their fault. I really try to avoid these types of people at all cost.

Do you find any of these annoying? Is there something else you’d add to this list?

Do tell!!

10 First Date Tips For Men

First dates are stressful just as they are exciting, and some men really require advice prior to taking this plunge with a woman that they like. By following these first date tips for men, you’re fairly much assured to experience an excellent initial date with that special lady.

1. Plan the perfect date. Even though some websites that claim to give first date tips for men may recommend that you visit dinner and a film, this is not an excellent first date. Rather, attempt something short and sweet. A casual lunch, eating ice cream in the park or enjoying a cup of coffee at a quaint little coffee shop are great initial date options.

2. You ought to dress to impress for the first date, but don’t put on something too formal. A crisp collared shirt, a pair of good jeans and clean sneakers ought to make you look great. You do not just want to dress well to impress your date, but you always wish to impress yourself. If you really feel confident about your look, you’ll exude this self-confidence on your date.

3. Pick up the tab on your initial date, but make certain that you do not spend too much cash. In the event you spend a lot on your first date, your new girl will think that you are merely showing off, or she will expect costly dates each time. Instead of spending a lot of money, concentrate on enjoying the date.

4. Don’t plan for a long date the first time around. A very long date will make both you and the woman feel a bit awkward later on, and it will be hard to make an excuse to escape when the two of you aren’t feeling each other. Plan to get a brief and sweet date the very first time about, then plan something a bit longer for subsequent time.

5. Focus on your girl only whenever you are on your date. Although it may be difficult to not take a look at other attractive ladies while you’re out, doing so will make you appear like a pig to your new woman. Reserve the staring and flirting for whenever you are out with your guy buddies.

6. Try to engage the woman in an interesting conversation, and allow her do most of the talking. Make certain you are really listening, however.

7. Find out much more about your date, but do not make her feel like she is being interviewed for a job. Casually asking her about her life will make her really feel like you’re interested, but prodding her about all of her exes, her family members, or her job is not cool.

8. Show off your enjoyable and playful side. There’s a time and a location to become serious, but your date should be a lot of fun for each you and the woman. Share jokes and funny stories and try to think of other ways to make your date laugh.

9. Don’t get too physical on the first date. You’ll be in a position to know when the lady is interested in kissing you; if she does not show any indications of wanting to do something physical the first date, avoid making a move or pressuring her. She will like it better if you act like a gentleman, and it’ll make her much more likely to give it a chance on your next date.

10. Make sure to phone her the next day. Even though many first date tips for men suggest that you wait a few days or even a week before calling her, she wants to know that you’re nonetheless interested. If you’re, contact her sometime the following day. If you do not wish to do that, at least send her a fast text message.

Peter Mclucas is an avid traveler, educator and writer on a variety of subjects. Watch his video on first date tips for men

Playing Pokemon x on the Nintendo DS

If you’re experiencing difficulty with your Pokemon X or Y (version) and can’t get it to function properly, you may want to try this. There is a method to restart Pokemon X and begin over. While this technique will not work for every version of Pokemon X and Y, it should suffice. What you need to do is…
To begin, as is the case with the majority of things in the Pokemon series, the only method to “reset” Pokemon games is to save them. This procedure will also work if your “Pokemon Black” or “Pokemon Yellow” discs are not working. If you’re playing these older games, you’re unlikely to be able to save your progress. As a result, before you can continue playing, you must format and delete your current save file. To do so, when you reach the main title screen, simultaneously press Start on the D Pad, A, and X.


After completing these steps, you will be asked to backup your original save data. To do so, go to your selection menu and choose “save game,” then enter a name. This creates a backup save file that you can simply download and store to your hard drive, from which you may access the new game.
After downloading and saving the backup save file, the next step is to load and play the new game. The majority of emulators have a setting that allows for the use of cheats, hacks, and other modifications. You may activate these options to make these cheats and hacks available to you. These changes will enable you to play Pokemon x on your existing cartridge rather of purchasing a new one.
However, if you have a cartridge that is more recent than the one you are presently using, you will be unable to do so. However, this does not preclude you from playing Pokemon games on the Nintendo DS. They may also be played in various ways. One alternative is to play in the conventional manner by inserting a fresh cartridge and repeating the procedure. The disadvantage is that you will have to repeat the processes.
Another method to play the DS is to boot up the game’s flash-based version. This will load the game and enable you to play it on your DS. The sole disadvantage of this choice is that it restricts you to playing just one Pokemon game. However, if you own several Pokemon games, it’s worth a try.
If you have an older cartridge and want to play the new game on it, there is a simpler method. A special software application will be required to convert your DS cart into a format compatible with the newer system. This program is available for free download through the internet.
Once you’ve downloaded the software, all you need to do is power on the DS and transfer the data from your old game to the memory card of your new DS. Once the data is in place, you may play the game and pick up where you left off in your last session. Bear in mind, however, that if you download the game through the web site used to distribute new games, some components of the new versions may not be compatible with your older cartridge. Therefore, if you already own the DS version of the game, ensure that it is compatible. Otherwise, you would have spent time and effort attempting to make the new one work with the existing one.

10 Booby Traps that Hinder Breastfeeding Success

Booby traps are lies women believe about breastfeeding that lead to problems, and/or failure, of the breastfeeding relationship. Although normal, breastfeeding does not necessarily come natural. Women seek out information from friends, family members, and the internet.

Not everything they hear or read, however, is true and helpful. In fact, some advice can hinder breastfeeding success.

Let’s discuss the top 10 booby traps that hinder breastfeeding success.

1. “My milk never came in.”
This one is very common and comes in various forms. Your grandmother may even say something along the lines of, “Oh you can’t breastfeed. My milk never came in, your mother’s milk never came in, yours probably won’t either so I wouldn’t even bother trying to breastfeed.”
Did you know that it can take up to fourteen days for milk to come in? That’s two weeks! That’s well after you are out of the hospital and back home. It’s also a lot longer than most people give for their bodies to show signs of milk production.
To help establish a good milk supply, a baby should be fed, on-demand, for the first 6 weeks of life. If your baby shows feeding cues, put him to the breast. Feeding your baby tells your body that it needs to make more milk. Your breasts have a built in supply and demand feature. The more your baby eats, the more they produce. Feeding your baby regularly is the best way to ensure your milk comes in.

2. “I’m not making enough milk.”
Much of the information presented on milk supply comes from a culture that doesn’t understand the dynamics of how breastfeeding actually works. Your breasts do not have to be leaking, feel full, or be engorged to indicate milk supply. A baby going through a growth spurt can cause a woman to believe she has low supply because she watches the clock instead of her baby’s hunger cues. A baby who is fussy and perceived as hungry “all the time” may cause a woman to believe she has low milk supply.
Whatever the reason for the belief, there is one, sure-fire way to know if your baby is getting plenty of milk. Check their diapers. If your baby is making 8-12 wet and 4-6 poopy diapers in a 24 hour period, then your baby is getting plenty to eat.

3. “My baby just won’t latch.”
Did you know that just a you are learning how to breastfeed, your baby is also? It’s a learning curve for both of you. Give your baby some time to figure out how things work. By time I mean more than just a few tries. This could take your team several attempts to figure out (especially if you used any type of relaxant medication during labor). Utilize your hospital’s lactation consultant or your midwife. That’s what they are there for.
Have a lactation consultant check your baby’s oral anatomy. With the discovery of lip/tongue ties, many latch issues are able to be fixed with simple revisions by a local ENT.

4. Timed feedings
“Feed your baby for 20 minutes on each side.” Why? I mean, really, why? There is no scientific evidence to back this suggestion. The best way to feed your baby is to let them guide the feedings.
Nurse your baby on one side until they appear finished. Burp them and offer the other side, if you desire. You could offer the same side again if you want and let them eat from the other side at the next feeding. It’s completely up to you.

5. Supplementing feedings in the first few days or weeks.
The first 10 weeks after birth is the crucial time to establish milk supply. Proper feedings and nursing on-demand ensure you will have good supply that will last throughout your breastfeeding goal.

6. “Breastfeeding will make my breasts sag.”
Actually breasts saggage is based on genetics and not because of breastfeeding. If saggy breasts run in your family, it wouldn’t matter if you never had children, you would still get saggy breasts when you got older. Go ahead and breastfeed. You’re breasts’ firmness isn’t based on breastfeeding.

7. “I will have to change my diet.”
The only reason your diet would need to change is if you or your babies had an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food. Certain foods causing gassiness has not been backed by scientific evidence either.
What if you are a junk food junky? Your breast milk will create and supply the nutrients your baby needs. If you want to clean up your diet because you want to feel better, that’s great. Don’t do it simply because you think you have to in order to breastfeed.

8. Breasts need time to “fill” between feedings.
This booby trap comes from the misconception that breasts are like canteens because they can feel full before feedings and empty afterward. However, your breasts are never completely without milk and as milk is removed during a feeding, more is made.
This is especially helpful to know when your baby is going through a growth spurt and wants to eat every 30 minutes to an hour.

9. If you or your baby are sick, you shouldn’t breastfeed.
If you or your baby are sick, breastfeeding is exactly what you should be doing. Breastfeeding boosts both yours and your baby’s immune system helping your body fight the illness more easily. If your baby is the only one sick, breastfeeding may actually help prevent you from getting sick. Your body will create antibodies in the breast milk to help your baby fight the illness. Those antibodies remain in your body and can prevent an infection from taking hold.
In addition, breastfeeding can provide immunity protection for future illnesses. It has also shown to protect against various forms of cancer.

10. Breastfeeding is easy.
Breastfeeding is normal, but, often, it doesn’t come natural. For many, the process of learning how to work with your baby to develop a successful breastfeeding relationship is overwhelming. Instead of seeking out support or professional help, many women give up. Thus depriving themselves and their babies of the many benefits associated with breastfeeding.
Many cities have breastfeeding support groups. Check with your hospital, birthing center, or local La Leche League [http://web.archive.org/web/20150806021442/http://www.llli.org/]. Attending a support group gives you access to a professional lactation consultant and to other women who are facing similar challenges.

Booby traps can hinder breastfeeding success, but you don’t have to let it. Take a class, talk to a counselor, and join a support group. Work with your baby as you take this journey together. Believe in yourself and your bodies ability to sustain your baby and you will meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

Changing the Universe

So, were my letters to myself vague enough for ya? Vague though they were I think that would have been exactly what I would have wanted to hear in those various stages in life.

In one of those letters, I mentioned that something scary happened to my sister, but I turned that knowledge I gained from that and turned it into a career. Joanna commented that she wanted to hear the story, so I think it’s about time that I do.

When I was in 8th grade, my youngest sister, Emmi, was in 1st grade. We started noticing very subtle changes in her. She was getting neck aches, headaches, and the weirdest thing: she couldn’t sit up straight any more. We’d be at the dinner table and she would be at her seat leaning slightly to the side. My parents would tell her to sit up straight, and she’s reply “but I am!”

My parents took her to our family doctor and they thought whatever she had could be a virus or something, but basically, they were told it was no big deal. So we headed off to Disney World that February.

And that’s when things got REALLY weird. She started blacking out. Passing out. Wetting herself. She rolled off the side of the bed in the hotel one afternoon and didn’t know how she got there. Her motor skills were so bad that she couldn’t hold my parents’ hand as we walked through the parks. They actually had to hold her upper arm really tightly because even though she thought she was walking straight, she was actually walking at a severe angle. This would have been one of those times where having a child leash would have been really helpful for my parents. There is a photo of the three of us kids where Emmi is leaning to the side and her eyes look kinda, well, off. My mom can’t even stand looking at that photo.

We got back home and my parents took Emmi to a new family doctor. After doing a basic exam, she asked Emmi to do a simple task. She had to touch each one of the tips of her fingers to her thumb. She couldn’t do it. Instantly the doctor said that she was concerned that there was an issue with her brain and told them to head to the hospital for a scan immediately.

What they found was no less than really freaking scary. Looking at those scans now is still amazing to me. There were big black holes where brain matter was supposed to be. The diagnosis: hydrocephalus

Here’s the way it was explained to 13 year old me: There are ventricles in your brain that contain fluid. These each have drainage tubes. Emmi’s drainage tubes were defective, so her fluid wasn’t draining the way it was supposed to. It had built up over time and had started pushing her brain up against her skull, which explained all the strange behavior.

The fix? A shunt. It’s basically a catheter inserted into her ventricles with a tube that runs out of her brain, down her neck, and into her stomach. That keeps the ventricles sufficiently drained.

The surgery went well, thank God. She was back to school soon enough and was able to finish out the year. But here’s the weird part. Hydrocephalus doesn’t just “show up.” If you have it, it means you were born with it. It’s a complication that is either discovered at birth or else something traumatic happened to cause it.

So what caused it??

I don’t know how long after this we found out why it happened. Once the swelling in her brain went down, another scan showed us why it happened to begin with. Her neurologist discovered a tumor on her brain stem. Tectal Glioma . According to what I’ve read, these tumors just kind of come up out of no where. And because it’s located on her brain stem (which controls all of your functions to live like breathing and heart rate) it isn’t in an area that can be easily operated on without leaving her with some kind of permanent effect.

So for now, the tumor stays. And as long as it doesn’t grow, it’s fine where it is. She gets yearly MRIs to check it to make sure it stays the size that it is.

Ok, so how does this tie into what I do now? Well, from the swelling of the ventricles which essentially squished her brain, Emmi was left with a brain injury. She’s had some neurological testing done which shows she has executive dysfunction (which affects her auditory processing, her processing speed, planning, sequencing, attention to detail, etc.) and her fine motor skills were affected.

For her, this means that it takes her longer to understand information. Test taking is hard for her and she has to take her tests untimed or time and a half. Her organizational skills are affected too. It’s difficult for her to organize things she has to do and then complete them. Reading is hard, too. She can’t just read a book and expect to get anything out of it. She needs her books on tape so she can read AND hear what she’s reading at the same time. Her fine motor skills are affected too. It’s hard for her to write with a pen/pencil because of the fine detail that you need to have to write. She takes her notes with her computer because it’s faster for her to type information than it is to take the time and concentration it takes her to write her notes.

But if you met the girl, you’d have no idea. She’s seriously one of the most intelligent people I know. We can talk about religion, politics, our anger at BP , or whatever. The only time I’m reminded of her disability is when we are having a conversation like that and a dog then walks by and she’s distracted and starts going on and on about how cute that dog is and how that’s the kind of dog that she wants and aren’t doggies cute and when she grows up she wants to live on a farm and have horsies and instead of having kids she wants dogs and do you think she could have a monkey on her farm or would the horsies trample the monkey? See what I mean?

Ok, so for me, I took a fascination with her. Well, maybe not HER per se, but her disability. I majored in psychology in school and ended up working at a company that provides services to individuals with brain injuries. The more I learned at this job, the more I learned about Emmi, and vice versa. I’ve become really fascinated by how the brain works and how it can be affected by something as simple as a concussion. I’ve studied the different areas of the brain and how they work and how they can be affected by car accidents or, like in Emmi’s case, a brain tumor. I was even studying to become a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, but I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and I just couldn’t do it at that time. I’m going to do it again this fall, however.

I think I’m going to be one of those mothers that INSISTS on my children wearing a helmet at all times while doing anything, biking, rollerblading, sports, whatever! I take concussions very, VERY seriously. Did you know that the brain of a professional defensive lineman at the time of retirement (around 35) looks like the brain of a 75 year old with Alzheimer’s? Even wide receivers without a history of ever having a concussion can have Alzheimer’s looking brains .

Brain injuries are something that we are just now starting to realize is more and more of a big deal. As the founder of our company always says “It could happen to you.” This was before she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and almost died, coming out of it with her very own brain injury.

Emmi was extremely lucky. I thank God regularly that she is still here with us without any severe lingering effects. But because of what we went through with her, I’ve developed a passion for working with others who are worse off than her, but who suffer from the same issues.

This passion has extended further, as well. I’ve been extremely moved by Keegan’s story and by Joanna’s  fund-raising to help his family pay for some of his medical needs. Today is the last day to donate to Keegan’s fund to be entered to win some fabulous prizes. But we will be continuing to collect any donations. Even $5 can go a long way to help the Chupps. Please consider heading over to Raising Madison to donate. Or just click the Donate button at the top of this page to go right to the paypal donation site. Just $5 can help a family who needs our help right now. And thank you, from the bottom my heart, for helping us!

1 Simple Method To Conquer Your Fears

What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of flying, people, heights, clowns, prospecting, etc…? It doesn’t matter what your fears are, the good news is you can conquer your fears!

I am going to share one personal story with you of how I learned to conquer my fears at a very early age.

My father was involved with a civic group in our community. The civic group used to maintain the community pool. I would go to the pool in the evenings, with my father. While he would do daily maintenance on the pool I would use the time to swim and have the pool to myself. Those were great summers growing up. Well anyway I became quite good at performing ones and one and a halves off the low boards. I practiced every night, so I could show off to my friends during the day.

My dad would watch me and asked one night why I don’t do my dives off of the high dive. I told him I was afraid of the high dive. He asked me, “What are you afraid of”? I told him it was too high. He asked, “Can you jump off of the high dive”? I told him I didn’t want to.

My dad started to climb the high dive and told me, “Follow me up and I will show you how to do it”. We get to the top of the high dive and my chest felt tight and my mouth went dry. He talked me out to the end of the board and I remember shaking and trying not to show any fear. He told me to just stand at the end of the board, take some deep breaths and look out at the horizon. I did what he said and began to calm down. He started talking to me as I was staring out over the pool. He said, “John, this is just another diving board, it is no different than the one down below.” “When you are ready I want you to step off the end of the board.” I told him that I was not ready. He said, “I’m going to count to three and you will step off.” He began to count one; two…and then he pushed me off the end. I hit the water and quickly came to the surface and realized that nothing bad happened to me.

Dad hollered for me to come up again. I was a little shaken but went up the ladder and out to the end of the board. Dad asked if I was ready to jump again. I told him I was not sure. He told me to go to the end of the board and take another deep breath and relax. He then began to count, one, two, three…I didn’t jump. He then pushed me off the board again. Once again I came to the surface but this time I felt exhilarated! I quickly went back up the ladder went to the end of the board and jumped! It felt great!

On the ride home I thanked Dad for helping me jump off the high dive. He told me, “John you just learned a fear conquering secret.” I was only in second grade so I did not understand what I had learned. So I asked him what I had learned. He told me, “If you are afraid to do something, just do it three times in a row as fast as you can.” That lesson has stuck with me and I will never forget it. I have used this technique in everything I was afraid of doing. Let me tell you it works!

Within two weeks I was doing my ones and one and a halves from the high dive. I will never forget that summer.

What ever your fear may be, Like the Nike commercials, Just Do It! Do it three times in a row as fast as you can.

 

This will apply to almost any fear you have, whether it is public speaking, flying, prospecting, cold calling, heights, and clowns, whatever it is this will work for you!

John Stone

What is Your Fear?

Cheaters Make Liars of Us All

Here is a PSA: If you decide to cheat on your significant other, please keep it to yourself.

I have an acquaintance, Liz, with whom I share a good friend, Michelle. I see Liz occasionally at weddings and other social functions that cause a big group of us to travel and get together. So although she isn’t one of my close friends and we don’t keep in touch aside from the get-togethers, we are friendly and have known each other for close to 10 years now. Liz is incredibly sweet and I really like her a lot. The only reason we aren’t closer is because we always ran in slightly different circles and didn’t spend much time together in college.

A few years ago I was spending time with Michelle who had just come back from Liz’s wedding. She had been a bridesmaid and was telling me how uncomfortable the entire weekend was for her. She disclosed that since college, the groom, Brian, had been cheating on Liz. The worst part is the person he cheated with was another one of the bridesmaids named Jenny. I swear, it’s like an awful soap opera. They had been cheating together since college, so for at least 4 years when I heard this story. I should also mention that Jenny, who had been cheating with Brian, was also recently married at the time I heard this story. Michelle came by the information because she is also close friends with Jenny who had confided in her.

I do not know if the affair continued on past either marriage, but it doesn’t matter. Every time I see Liz, usually with her husband in tow, I feel incredibly guilty because I know the dirty secret, and it seems like she is completely oblivious. She is still close friends with Jenny and she appears to be incredibly happy in her marriage, so I assume she doesn’t know. Although, you never know what is going on behind closed doors.

I was around both couples a few years later at a wedding and the entire time I was cringing watching them all spend time together and dancing on the dance floor. I just pasted a smile on my face and tried to act normal but internally I was disgusted that Brian and Jenny could act so normal around one another and keep the wife in the dark. It just felt so dishonest.

I realize the affair may all be a rumor, but Michelle is not the type to spread gossip. She was venting to me about how uncomfortable she had been at the wedding, knowing what she knew. And I couldn’t blame her. It’s not our place to spill the beans, so we have to just sit back and watch. It makes me feel like a terrible and dishonest person.

I think perhaps if Liz were a closer friend, and if I had heard the information first hand from Brian or Jenny, I would consider letting her know. But I’m not entirely sure I would actually tell one of my best friends if I had this kind of information. If it was me, I’d want to know. But what if the friend already knew, and they had worked past the issue in their relationship? Then there I am, drumming it all up, rehashing an old issue, and I am sure making her feel embarrassed that others know her private business. As a distant friend of Liz, I certainly do not feel like it is my place to step in and get involved, especially when all I have to work with is hearsay. Regardless, every time I see her post a picture of herself and her husband saying how happy she is and how much she loves him, I cringe with disgust for him, and feel guilty myself. I feel like I am somehow being dishonest and deceitful.

Knowing this kind of information is not fun. I know many might think it is juicy gossip, but this is the kind of gossip I would rather not know. So before you spread these kinds of details about someone else’s life, please think twice. Not only because you are burdening the person you are telling, but because it could really ruin someone else’s life or relationships, and it would all likely be based on a rumor or hearsay. We don’t know the truth behind other relationships, nor should we. It is not our business.

Marvel Heroes [Review]

Holy Crap….Did Marvel Heroes ever catch me off guard. When I first saw this game about a year ago, I had the same thought as everyone else, “Oh sweet, a Diablo 2 clone. This is gonna suck.” WHAT A FOOL I WAS! Marvel Heroes may be a Diablo 2 clone, but there is a VERY GOOD reason for that. David Brevik, the visionary behind Diablo and Diablo II (President and COO of Gazillion Entertainment to boot), helped mold this game into what I wish Diablo 3 would have been. Teaming up with Marvel super-scribe Brian Michael Bendis, they’ve crafted a plot where you must stop a cosmic cube wielding Doctor Doom.

The kicker is Marvel Heroes is a free-to-play game. There is a hard currency system for buying in game items, boosts, and additional characters. Additional costumes are also available so you don’t have to be boring ol’ derp eye’d Spider-Man like everyone else. Additional costumes can be found ONLY as rare drops, like the Colossonaut skin, so its not all pay-to-win.

 

Did I mention its a Diablo clone? If your familiar with the play style, not much has changed. Use the mouse to move around and aim your attacks. Skills are bound to 6 keys, giving you 8 active skills including the left and right mouse buttons.

Each Hero has 3 skill trees with certain skills in each that synergize with each other and 1 ultimate ability. Every Hero has their own unique power bar, i.e Colossus has an Armor life bar that regenerates or Jean Grey gains Phoenix power to transform into something similar to D3′s Wizard’s Archon Form.

Sporting 9 chapters, you’ll hit about 30 by the time you finish the game. Using the classic way point system, travel to different locales on various missions. Enter unique dungeon instances and get grouped in the auto-party system, no need to LFG.

The game offers a NPC donation system. The player can instead of selling their trash items, donates them for XP to level up the vendors for better items and crafting options. A high level crafting vendor allows the player to turn blues (Rares) into purples (Epics) and add offensive and defensive effects to their costumes.

One of my favorite aspects Marvel Heroes gets right is Boss runs. The introduction of event (world) boss’s lets everyone get a piece of the action. Watch your screen lag (only occasionally) as 100 players take down villians like Venom, Rhino, or Blob and Toad. Once defeated, bosses drop medallions that bind on equip. These medallion each have a unique boost and differing stats, meaning you can keep coming back for it til you get the perfect one.

The graphics are on par with Diablo 3, nothing machine breaking. All your favorite Marvel characters look just as you remember them from the comics. Great visual effects when you use yours skills, lots of attention to detail. The environments look amazing, taking the player to all sorts of iconic places like the Avengers’ Tower, Xavier’s Mansion, The Savage Land, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier.

The loading screens feature some sweet character and scenery art. Hopefully they add more though, currently I’m staring at the same handful of screen. Its not like Marvel has countless Artists to make more.

The cutscenes are done as motion comics, which is a BRILLIANT IDEA! These fully dubbed clips are sprinkled throughout the chapters and help the story unfold. Though not at impressive as Blizzard’s CGI cutscenes, the style Gazillion chose feels right.

 

The music sounds just like the themes in the Marvel Studios movies. I swear I’ve heard that tune from the Avengers when they are all kicking ass with team-up moves. It all feels really Heroic. Sadly, the Xmen animated series theme is no where to be found…

The voice talent in this game also really help bring it to life. Most of the voices are close to their cartoon series counterparts. Steve Blum, Nolan North, Tara Strong, and Keith David to name a few. All of the cutscenes are fully voiced, as well as most of the quest dialog. Characters throw out little quips as they pass friends, enemies, pick up items, talk to vendors, etc.

 

Did I mention its a Diablo 2 clone? LOTS PEOPLE STILL PLAY THAT GAME!!! Dailies, PvP and End-Game Content, loot/level grinding, and the introduction of new Marvel characters and costumes should keep this game fresh for years to come. This free-to-play game, like League of Legends, will actually make you spend your money on it happily. But honestly it isn’t required to have fun in this game, since there are rare drop chances of picking up the items and characters you can pay for. In my opinion, spending money in Marvel Heroes is supporting a great game and ensuring there’s more content to come. For less than the usual $60 of any new title, you could buy 1 or 2 of your favorite characters for $20 and start leveling.

 

WILL YOU JUST PLAY IT ALREADY!!! Is FREE too much for you? Scared you might spend money on it? Just give it a try and get through the boring prologue (its probably the worst part of the game and its 5 mins long). Once you’ve reached the actual game and start running around with other players, it’ll start to sink in how much this game got it right. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 1 and 2 were a success in their own right, but I didn’t imagine this game would hit me in the nostalgia so hard. Still kicking myself for not buying in sooner and getting some of the exclusive content in the founders pack.

Overall, I think some of the price points might scare people away from this game outright. I agree that the costumes are overpriced, but I’m sure there will be sales. I’m optimistic that the game will be around long enough to go through one or two expansions with TONS of new characters being added periodically. There’s a quality free game to play here and its possible to get by without spending anything. If you enjoy Diablo 2 or Torchlight and you care somewhat about Marvel lore, you’re gonna wanna download this game off Steam ASAP. Then, judge if its worth dropping some dough to enhance the experience. Marvel Heroes is currently in development for Mac, so soon enough everyone can play. Join ‘PhatTyla’ as I strive to create the tankiest Colossus you ever did see and whoop some fools in PvP.

UPDATE: I’ll have a follow up review to cover the End-Game Content and PvP just as soon as I reach it. Tune in next time!LATED POSTS FOUND!