10 Rules – What They Don’t Teach You At School

I came across a post that was attributed to Bill Gates about a speech he gave at a school.  Sadly, it has been wrongly referenced to Bill, but regardless of this the messages still rang true with me.  So I have taken these 10 rules and adapted them to fit better in the UK.  So for anyone who is leaving university or college these are not meant to be condescending or patronising, but these are the rules for life that school/college/university doesn’t teach you.

RULE 1:

Life is not fair – get used to it.  Life also does not owe you a living.  If you want something out of life, you have to go and make it happen.

RULE 2:

The  world will not care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.  You may think you are amazing, but it means nothing if no-one else agrees.

RULE 3:

You will NOT make 30 thousand pounds a year right out of College or University.  You won’t be a Vice President with a company car, phone or laptop until you earn it.  Sadly, your qualifications are one piece of the pie, another significant piece is experience.  You may think your undervalued and you may be right, but without experience you can’t prove otherwise.  Put the hours in.

RULE 4:

If  you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, and get’s nowhere near the same holidays.

RULE 5:

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents and parents had a different word for burger flipping, they called it Opportunity.  You have to start at the bottom and work your way up

RULE 6:

If  you mess up, which you will.  It’s not your parents’ or colleagues’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

RULE 7:

Your  school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have  abolished failing grades and they’ll  give you as many times as you want to  get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 8:

Life  is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own  time.  But bare in mind the time you have away at the beginning is giving all of your competition the advantage in work experience.  In most careers “Life experience” doesn’t count for much.

RULE 9:

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to  jobs.

RULE 10:

Be  nice to Nerds and Geeks. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

I went through these rules with my best mate from School before I published this and we were both agreeing with all of the points.  He maybe wasn’t so keen on the last one, but we were both in agreement about one thing in particular.  When you find yourself agreeing with the rules above, you know you’re getting old.  What do you think?  Do you agree with the above rules or are they a bit grumpy old men ish?

An Open Letter To My NHS Dentist

To all the regular readers I apologise for the following.  It is no relation to e-commerce, but it is me venting my frustration I experienced over the weekend.  Normal service will resume next week.  Regardless I hope you still find the following at least entertaining if not informative.  Thanks.

“Dear Dr Cretin

If I charged one of my clients for a service which they then found out they were not receiving two things could happen.  I would potentially get sued.  I would also never get the chance to do work for them again.  That is a given.  So I would like to ask you a question.  On Friday 15th February I came to you for a normal 6 month checkup at 9:00am.  By 09:02am I was walking back to my car with the only instructions being “See you in six months”…I can inform you that is most certainly not going to happen, I fear for my own health far too much for that…but more about that later.

Later that same day I started to get a niggling tooth ache in the lower part of my right jaw.  At first I thought it was maybe because you had scraped between my teeth so hard you thought you might find oil…I then remembered you charge £17.50 for 2 minutes work, Oil for you would be a step backwards in the finance stakes.  I had to take painkillers just so the pain would subside enough so I could sleep that night.  Sadly 3 hours later once my pain killing time was up I was awoken by untouchable pain back in the bottom right side of my mouth…

Unable to sleep I lay there as long as I could before I was driven to get up, find more painkillers and hope that there would be some sort of help line on your voicemail.  After listening to the voicemail twice due to the arguing Dalek in the background making it very hard to decipher what on earth was being said, I managed to decode a number.  With a glimmer of hope I rang the number.  The glimmer was short-lived.

The lady on the phone couldn’t understand why I was ringing her as I did not fall under her ‘jurisdiction’ as I do not live in Heywood or Middleton.  Terrific.  Luckily I managed to convince her to find out who I should ring.  Thankfully she was able to complete this simple request.

Now on my merry way I ring the new number.  The lady is a little more helpful and is actually now asking me about my toothache and after assuring her I wasn’t pregnant she confirmed that a clinical nurse would ring me back in an hour.

True to her word 40 minutes later I received a call back.  I told my story again and after giving her my ‘pain rating’ out of 10…I gave a rather honest an a bit on the soft side score of 8.  She said that as I had had a checkup the day before that my dentist i.e yourself may have caught part of my gum when scraping and polishing…(she must know you well) and that the gum may have become slightly inflamed.  She then advised I take painkillers all weekend and if it still hurts then to give you a call on Monday.  As you can imagine, this was not the response I was hoping for.

Out of desperation I rang my mothers dentist.  She has been a private patient at a dental surgery for a long time and very luckily managed to pull a few strings to get me seen that morning.

I hope you are still paying attention as this is the bit which you should find interesting.  As far as me being one of your patients this is where the final nail in the coffin comes from.  All through this next part please keep in the fore front of your mind, that this Dentist has no obligation to see me, no obligation to offer me any advice let alone treatment.

I go in to see him and after thanking him profusely for even seeing me I explain to him the pain I am having.  As soon as he looks in my mouth he immediately announces he doesn’t like the look of my tooth at the back.  He pokes it with his metal stick (im sure it has a name) and I flinch.  He immediately sets up for me to have an X Ray to look closer at the tooth.  What the X-Ray shows is quite alarming.  I have since alerted Professors Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking that I have found the super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy.  It was hiding in my wisdom tooth the whole time.

black hole

In all seriousness, this was not a small hole, so much so, the X-ray showed that the nerve was exposed.  This is what caused the pain.  The tooth now needs to be removed which suits me fine.  The dentist I went to see Saturday morning, X-ray’d my mouth, numbed it with an injection and then proceeded to treat it to stop the pain.  I was in his chair longer than I have been in your’s for the past 7 years.

The thing that bothers me most is, he knew just by looking at that tooth that there was a problem, yet just 24 hours earlier, you had completely missed it.  I have checked with a scientist and am reliably informed that despite appearances the hole was not a ‘black hole’ and hadn’t spontaneously appeared but is something that has occurred over a long period of time.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  I mean I am really seriously contemplating sending this formally to the NHS as I do wonder what on Earth is going unnoticed to your other patients.  I would argue that someone on football wages should be providing a service better than what I have received from yourself over the years.

So in conclusion you have lost a client.  Yes it will cost me more in the long run to move to a private dentist, but if that means any problems are prevented before they get to the stage I am at now, then that is a price I am willing to pay.  Thanks for the memories over the years, not fond ones granted but memories none the less.

I won’t see you in six months

Dave”

Formatting Amazon Descriptions, A Little Goes A Long Way

As we all know, your product descriptions are hugely important when selling online.  They are part of my E-commerce Holy Trinity along with Pictures and Titles.  Thanks to twitter however a friend of mine brought to my attention some of the confusion surrounding Amazon descriptions and what is and isn’t allowed in the Amazon catalogue.

A quick search online will throw up plenty of forums stating that absolutely no formatting is allowed in Amazon descriptions at all.  It must just be plain text which describes the product.  I am not going to link to said forums etc as they are largely incorrect.  Basic formatting is allowed on your Amazon descriptions and here I am hopefully going to show you, how you can do it, and what a difference it will make to hopefully bring you more sales.

It is no secret that I think descriptions are a hugely important ingredient in your perfect listing recipe.  As you may remember the first E-commerce in Plain English Podcast covered “Descriptions that sell” If you haven’t heard it yet, then click the link here and give it a listen.  The key for your description is to make it concise, descriptive (obviously) but importantly easy to read.  With a bit of formatting help we can make descriptions really easy to read and therefore increase the likelihood of a conversion.  Amazon want its marketplace sellers to create listings that fit in with their catalogue.  There are limitations to how much formatting you can do, unfortunately you wont be able to go to town like a true Amazon listing such as there Kindle descriptions.  So no pretty graphics, embedded video’s or photos are allowed, we are going back to basics here but it can make a difference if done properly.

What you can do

Now by no means am I an HTML expert and never would I profess to be, but with a few simple HTML tags you can quickly emphasise and structure your descriptions to make them clearer and easier to read than a plain text paragraph.  I imagine most readers will know these tags already but in case you don’t here are a few you can use when entering your amazon product description.

A  very  quick intro to HTML.  You have an opening and a close tag if you want to cause an effect to whatever is in between the tags.  If you want to insert one piece of formatting on the page then you only need to add that tag once per effect (no opening and closing). I haven’t explained that very well but the below examples should help.

<b> </b> – These are a simple bold tag.  Everything that is in between these tags will appear in bold text.  This is perfect for sections of a description that you want to separate or important parts you want to highlight.  n example of how to use this would be: “<b> Technical Specifications </b>”

<br> – This is the tag for a line break.  You can insert these to insert a line break in your description.  Perfect for making sure there is a difference between two paragraphs or drawing attention to a different section of your description. An example of this would be: “this is the end of one paragraph. <br> This is the start of the second.”

<ul>

– These are the tags needed to create bullet points in your listing.  The ul tag stands for unordered list and everything in between them it will know to put in bullet points.  The li tags are there to differentiate the different bullet points.  It’s really simple when you see it in practice so here you go:

The bullet point list

<ul>

<li> this is a bullet point </li>

<li> and so is this one</li>

</ul>

By utilising these simple HTML tags you can make a massive difference to how your Amazon product description looks, and increases the chances of someone buying your product.  Now for a few live examples.

How not to do an Amazon description

I am not a fan of naming and shaming and that’s why I want to look at the positives for this link I am about to provide.  The title is straightforward and states exactly what the product is.  The picture is good and shows the product with a plain white background although the resolution could be a little better.  However the description is awful.  Take a look here .

Not only is it all in capital letters which is a huge pet hate of mine, but it is all bunched together and as it is in Caps and only over two lines it makes it very easy to miss if you are just scanning the page.  It doesn’t look professional and makes it look like an incomplete product page.

How to do an Amazon Description

The next example is a fantastic showcase of product description formatting being used.  There is not much I can really add to this description other than to show you it so you can see first hand.  This product is courtesy of Better Bathrooms and can be seen here .   They have used the bold tags to effectively distinguish titles and sections in the section, and they have used line breaks instead of bullet points to list specifications.  I’m sure you can agree this looks much better and all that has been used is some basic HTML and a little bit of time to get the description looking right.

With just a bit of time spent getting your product descriptions right and making them easy for potential customers to read then you greatly improve your chances of converting on Amazon.  Remember you create your Amazon product once and it stays in the catalogue forever so make sure you make it as good as it can be from the beginning.

If you have any comments or questions then please as always leave a comment below or send an email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

spring fair 2013

Spring Fair 2013 – Will I See You There?

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Have you ever heard of the Spring Fair before?  I hadn’t until a good friend of mine was asked to speak at the 2013 event, and that’s when I looked into it more.  If you havent seen, been or heard of it before you can find out more here: SpringFair.com

For me it is a good excuse to get away from the computer, support a friend and also hopefully meet some of the people who read this blog face to face.  I have already had a few emails asking If I would be attending.  So the answer is yes I will be at Spring Fair only on Monday 4th February and I will be there most of the day.  I will be available on Twitter most of the day so feel free to tweet me @Dave_Furness and we can hopefully meet up.

If you come to this site then chances are you are interested in e-commerce, if this is the case and you are at Spring Fair on Monday, then you really need to head over to the Fashion Catwalk at 3:00 pm to hear the brilliant Matthew Ogborne from Lastdropofink demystify the market place websites, and how they can act as dynamite for your business.  This is a must for anyone currently selling on marketplaces or thinking about taking the leap into e-commerce if they haven’t already.

Spring Fair looks to be a great event.  I have also been given orders from the other half to find the Yankee Candle exhibit, hopefully I can get Valentines day wrapped up at this event too 😀

Have a great weekend and hopefully see you Monday

Dave