Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

Did I Make A Big Mistake Doing Video?

iniartworksmallI’m starting to think that maybe I made a big mistake trying to do so much video. Should I just have been doing audio instead?

I’ve just driven home after listening to the StartUp Podcast on the way home as well as some Invisibilia which is a pretty cool podcast and it got me thinking as to the medium in which I present the information that I give.

The way that I like to learn is I love listening to things. I love listening to podcasts in the car. I love listening to podcasts while I work.

If you look at my habits on YouTube a lot of the stuff that I like to consume are talks where you can watch the people talking but you don’t really need to in order to get the information across. It got me started to thinking.

I decided to invest more in video because I know that largely that is a big way that the internet is going to go and that’s a big way that people are going to be consuming information in the future.

However, on questioning myself as to whether that is the right decision because I’m not as good at video and I feel like I could potentially be a lot better with audio only than I could be with video and audio.

Therefore I’m actually exploring the idea of doing a lot less video and instead focusing on audio but making it better, making it more engaging because when I’m doing video I’ve got to think about so much more. It’s definitely not as natural to me. My editing skills are not there.

I don’t really have the passion to edit things in a good way like someone like Casey Neistat who is a famous YouTube vlogger. He does these amazing edits of his daily vlog and that’s something that I’m just not interested in. But when I listen to the StartUp podcast, when I listen to well-produced audio content it really gets my juices flowing, it really gets me inspired.

Therefore I’m not sure whether I’ve made a big mistake. Say that I made a mistake obviously it’s going to be good to create video content and good to get that sort of exposure. It’s good to try that.  And it also created audio content for me as well so I haven’t lost anything in doing it.

However, if I want to put pursue some sort of passion project that is not just to make money but something that I could do to try and have an impact, try and push my skills to the next level then I feel like maybe it’s going to be an audio. Maybe audio is going to be my thing maybe it’s not going to be video after all.

It’s kind of annoying I guess to just go through this process and to say well actually I’m pretty passionate about audio. And even though there may not be as big an audience in audio as there is in video if I can do audio well then chances are I am going to reach more people through audio that I am through doing videos that just aren’t that good.

So this is something I’ll continue to think about, something I’ll continue to explore moving forward because there are some video things I still want to do. I tried streaming for the first time today so I play a game called super smash brothers melee I want to become top eight in Queensland within the next six months. Currently I’ll kind of top 20 and so that means I probably need to do about an hour practice a day – the goal that I set for myself. And I thought you know what I might just stream while I do that practice.

That’s a video that I’d probably still like to keep doing. There are a lot of great reasons to do video in different scenarios. However I’m just thinking if there’s something that I wanted to do that will really push my skills and that would really force me to create something high quality then audio would probably be it. So I’ll keep thinking about that.

I’ll keep you guys updated and if I ever release anything that is audio content that is going to be top quality I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

It is quarter past eleven and I’ve just pulled in home from being out playing Melee all night. Sometimes inspiration and insights just hit you at the weirdest times.

That’s it from me guys. Until next time if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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#73 What Can I Be The Best In The World At?

iniartworksmallToday I explore the hedgehog concept from Good To Great and try to work out what I can be the best in the world at.

Today, I want to talk about what I could potentially be the best in the world at.

Hey, I am Ryan from Instructions Not Included and this is a show where I talk about how I am trying to make a decent living online. Just a quick update, we have had a seller month in terms of referrals for Ben the buyer’s agent, my friend who I recommend.

We are looking at potentially cracking $10,000 this month in terms of referrals, so absolutely stoked with that. You may know if you listened to the show for a while that we had huge cash flow issues a while back and hopefully, that is all going to be part of the past as we continue to recommend Ben and his services and work closely with him.

So, that has been really cool. We have not hit that yet and obviously there are still things that can happen between when the sale is made and the waiting period before commissions are paid and things like that.

Anyway, we have been doing well. I got halfway through the month and I have had a great month; I earned enough profit to get by for the month and I was only halfway through.

And so I started thinking about what do you do when you are earning enough money in half a month? What do you do with the other half of the month? Now obviously, you can do things to earn more money or to prepare for the leaner months which we know I have had in the past, but I wanted to think about ‘okay, I know I want to dedicate 2 to 3 days to On Property exclusively and basically smash out On Property in 2 to 3 days and run that site, build that site, maintain that site, all that good stuff.’

What am I going to do with the next 3 days of my time and I was thinking about – you know, the truth is I need to do stuff every day. I do not want to sit around doing nothing, playing games on my phone or something like that. I would love to play Super Smash Brothers Melee every day but I do want to grow my business, I do want to have a positive impact on people’s lives and I am not going to do that through sitting on my ass, just playing games all day.

I need stuff to do every day and so even if On Property always made enough money for me to get by – more than enough, even if I were completely financially free I would still want stuff to do. So the truth is I need stuff to do every day. I have those 2 or 3 days where I need to maintain or grow On Property to make sure that money keeps coming in but I also need to grow some other income streams that are separate from On Property just to hedge out bets against things.

And other thing that I wanted to do is I want to dramatically improve my communication skills. I thought I was a pretty good speaker. I thought things were going pretty well until I went to New Zealand and I tried my hand at commentating some Super Smash Brothers. Now, if you have listened at all, you know I love this game called Super Smash Brothers Melee, which was released in , but I played this as a competitive.

There is a tournament scene that I attend and compete for prize money for a whopping $10 for third place up to $100 for first place for a whole day of gaming. It is not big money in it but I love the competition; I love the game. Anyway, I was over in New Zealand, there was a tournament. I went to the tournament. I got kicked out; I came fifth and so I decided to try my hand at commentating some of the games that were going on. And instantly, I knew I was out of my depth. It was very hard to commentate, very hard to talk about the things happening in the game. Everything was so fast-paced.

I actually spent a lot of the time talking about what players did wrong, which is actually considered quite rude. And the more I think about it, the more I look at commentary that happened; it was pretty bad of me to do. So basically, I failed at commentating – I did a really bad job, and in some cases where I said some offensive things. I did not mean to be offensive but it was just not very nice. And so, that was a big eye-opener to me – that I need to dramatically improve my communication skills if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

And so, I started thinking about the hedgehog concept in Good To Great, which if you have not  read Good to Great, it is one of the best business books out there. It is up there with The Lean Start Up, with Linchpin by Seth Godin. Good to Great is probably on my top 5, definitely probably – that is not a good statement. It is definitely on my top 5 of the best business books I have ever read. Innovator’s Dilemma is also up there as well, so there, you have 4 books. I cannot think of a 5th that I would absolutely recommend.

Anyway, the hedgehog concept is this combination of 3 areas that define something that you build an excellent business that goes from good to great. And so, these 3 areas: what are you deeply passionate about, what drives your resource in general – how do you make money, and what can you be best in the world at; and by finding the combination of these 3 things, that is the goal to create a really great business. So, I went through this activity looking at these different aspects and what is the middle and combination of these 3 things for me and I am trying to work that out. And so, what are you deeply passionate about?

So, this is actually a myriad of different things. I am deeply passionate about communication skills and public speaking. I am deeply passionate about gaming and Super Smash Brothers Melee. I am deeply passionate about my family. I am deeply passionate about God and Christianity.

I am deeply passionate about helping people, financial freedom, encouraging people to be the best they can be, all of these sorts of stuff. So it is a whole myriad of things that I am deeply passionate about. I am not just passionate about one thing; I am deeply passionate about a lot of different things. I was not off to a great start there.

Next, I looked at what drives my resource engine? What makes me money and what can I survive off? And so my resource engine when I looked at it across all my websites, I make money through advertising.

I make money through affiliate sales so selling affiliate products. I make money through referrals like I refer people to Ben the Buyer’s Agent. And I also make money through my own e-products, things like e-books, courses, membership sites, that sort of stuff. So, my research engine is all kind of standoff my websites but yeah, advertising, affiliate sales, referrals, e-products, all sorts of stuff online.

And then I was thinking what can I be the best in the world at. I just watched a tournament of Melee called Battle of the 5 Gods and my favorite player won the tournament and he is currently ranked number 2 in the world. By the way, he is going, he could definitely be ranked number 1 this year and I thought could I be the best in the world at Super Smash Brothers Melee? Probably not.

Could I be the best in the world at communicating? Probably not, in terms of being a public speaker and up on stage. What could I be the best in the world at? And it came back to something that was in the very first episode of Instructions Not Included, which was when I asked my wife ‘what do I do? What makes me useful online?’ and she says “You have a way of explaining really complicated things and making it easy to understand for people.” So, I take really complicated concepts – things that are hard to understand, and I make them easy to understand for people, and I thought you now what, that is something that I could probably be the best in the world at.

It is making complicated concepts or ideas simple and easy to understand. I remember an example when I was interviewing someone for On Property and she was talking about some concept – the person that I was interviewing, I cannot even remember what it was, but it took quite a long time to explain that and I was then able to narrow down what she said into a succinct sentence.

I was able to take all of these concepts that she was explaining in a very complex, very difficult to understand way, and I was able to summarize it into one sentence that would make sense to almost absolutely everyone and that was a moment that I remember where I was like ‘okay, take note of this because I am probably very good at this.’ And so, I was thinking about it and I was thinking I could be the best in the world at taking complicated things, making them simple, and that would combine my passion for communication and getting better at that all the time, which I am deeply passionate about, as well as the other topics that I am deeply passionate about and like to talk about.

So, when I look at this hedgehog concept, what could I be best in the world at that is making complicated concepts simple and understandable. What drives my resource engine is all the advertising, affiliate sales, my own products, etc. and then what am I deeply passionate about is the variety of things. And so I looked at my sprawling business of a bunch of different websites like one on public speaking, one on property investing, one on podcasting, I have this personal one as well, I have some niche websites as well, and I thought ‘you know what, like I am kind of living the hedgehog concept but I just need to refine it slightly.’

So, I am doing what I am the best in the world at which is taking complicated ideas and making them simple for people and I am doing that through the content that I create. And I am creating content about things that I am deeply passionate about and I am driving revenue through advertising, affiliate sales, etc.

And so, I have found out – at least I think, and as you know I change my mind all the time, but I believe that I can run multiple different websites and that I do not need to run just one website because what I want to get the best in the world at is taking complicated ideas and making them simple to understand. I want to do that in the future even when I plan to study psychology and maybe work with kids with autism or stroke victims or things like that in the future.

This is still going to be something I could potentially be the best in the world at so I want to work on that skill. I want to get better at that skill but I can use that skill across a variety of different niches and I do not have to focus just on property and be the best in the world in property investing because I am not deeply passionate about that. I am deeply passionate about helping people across a variety of different topics. So I guess as I say this, what are you deeply passionate about, I am deeply passionate about helping people like helping people to make good decisions and take control of their life and all of that sort of stuff.

I love the idea that I could potentially do this and spread myself across a variety of niches that I can talk about property, I can talk about public speaking, I can talk about business, all these things. But what I am best at is that communicating complex things, making them simple and so I just need to do that more and more every single day as much as possible. And when I look at how I spend my days, I spend a small portion of my day – maybe half an hour to an hour, where I am actually doing that and the rest of my day is spent with busy work and things like that.

So, I am definitely passionate at the moment about setting up systems where I can expand my niche so that I can jump in and jump out of things as I need to, so for example, I would love to be able to jump into PodcastFast at the moment creating a new series there; jump back out.

I would love to jump into Public Speaking Power, create a couple of episodes there and jump out. And because I have a resource engine of advertising, affiliate sales, etc., that fuels that, I can actually do that. So that is what I will be focusing on moving forward for the next week or so is getting a system in place where I can jump in and jump out of niches so that I can take concepts that are difficult to understand, explain them simply, but then I will jump out and move to something else because otherwise, I find that I am just forcing myself to create content.

It is not very good so I want to be able to explore my passions, talk about the thing that is on my mind and that I have been thinking about at the time and obviously continue to drive resources for me.

So with that, I have decided to start a Super Smash Brothers Melee website. I bought the domain Melee.co a while ago and so I am going to set up a website for that. I already created 2 episodes, basically going to document my journey from a failing new player – only played for about a year, hopefully on the way up as I become a better and more professional player.

We can see that progression happening. So, that is something that I could fund potentially get some advertising revenue through that, but you never know. So, that is something that I am starting. I am also working on my other sites as well; continue to work on On Property. But yeah, I am pretty excited where my head is at; I am pretty excited about my business moving forward.

I have found some things to do to fill my time even if On Property makes me enough money. I am absolutely excited about that. I hope that you are excited about your business. I encourage you to go through and do this exercise yourself and to find the combination of the 3 things; again it is what are you deeply passionate about, what drives your resource engine, and what can you be the best in the world at.

It is not easy to understand; it has taken me years to get to the point where I think I have it nailed down and then it may change over time. But it is a worthwhile exercise and one that I found very interesting. So, go out there. Do this exercise. Take some strides in your business and until next time, if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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#72 Moving House Sucks, Fraud Sucks but Business Is Good

iniartworksmallI have had a crazy last couple of weeks with horrible house moving, fraud and bond issues. But luckily business is doing well.

Hey and welcome to episode 72 of Instructions Not Included, with your host, me, Ryan McLean, the guy who is trying to make a decent living online. And wow, have I had an interesting number of weeks. One of the big things that we did in the last few weeks is that we moved house – to a new house. We were renting in an old house.

We were having problems with the agent who weren’t treating us well and we’re about to go through a renovation that the owner was doing we were going to live there through renovation, but they were just treating us so poorly. We were so scared about living through this renovation that we decided to pack up and to leave and we have moved to a much nicer place that is slightly bigger. It has a backyard, has some grass where our other one didn’t.

And so, we decided to move, which is stressful enough in and of itself. Not to mention that on the day of moving, 2 hours before we’re meant to move, I get a call from my removalist saying, “Hey, look, I don’t actually have a truck because my truck is broken.” So I’ve got these random guys that are going to move for you.

These guys rock up like 2 hours late. They take ages to pack all our stuff. We finally get to our new house when the sun has gone down at about 6:30 at night and they can’t get up the driveway.

We were homeless for a night with no furniture. Ended up sleeping at my mother-in-law’s. I had to go out late at night and buy a blow-up mattress so we could stay there because there weren’t enough beds. And then, almost had to pay an extra $600 or $700 the next day. But luckily, thanks to my wife who can get angry, she saved us a lot of money and we ended up getting that second day for free. So moving didn’t cost us heaps, but it was massively painful.

The next day. After we finally get into our house, I get a message from the bank saying, “There’s some strange activity on your card that we believe may be fraudulent.” So then, we enter into this massive saga of how 2 replacement cards that were being sent out to the bank were somehow intercepted, activated, and someone had gone on a $1600 spending spree on our behalf.

The issues dealing with the bank to get this sorted was very difficult. Fast forward another week and I got another replacement card because, obviously, some were compromised, and that has also been intercepted and someone’s gone on a $500 spending spree on my behalf. So, all in all, spent over $2,000 of my money through these stolen cards. Needless to say, we have changed banks and I’m just working through that fraud issue at the moment.

That wouldn’t be that big a deal. $2,000, I’ll get it back eventually, but on top of that, the bond, which we were meant to get back from our real estate agent hasn’t come through yet. And so, that’s another $2,000 out of pocket that we have. Definitely, very interesting situation. Luckily, we’ve got enough savings to get us through all of this, but I do feel sorry for the people who don’t have savings like we do to weather this storm.

If you’re living week by week, month by month, we would definitely be in a very difficult position. Over that couple of weeks, I also did a trip to New Zealand to go to an old friend’s wedding. A guy that I’ve known for many years, who I met at space camp. Super nerdy, but that’s a story for another day. But that was an absolutely awesome trip to go over there.

I also got to attend a Smash Brothers tournament over there. If you’ve been following me for any length of time for the last year, I’ve been into a game called Super Smash Brothers Melee and playing that competitively. So I got to go to a competitive tournament in New Zealand. There was 18 entrants and I came 5th. I was pretty happy with that result, that’s my best result at a tournament ever, so very happy with that.

A lot has been happening with the business as well. Business is going quite well. On Property, I haven’t even looked at the traffic recently. So let’s have a look live on podcast. How well is On Property doing and is it maintaining its traffic levels, which were about 3,000 people a day? So, traffic levels, yeah, seems to be between 2,500 to 3,500 people per day, so traffic levels are going good.

I am focused more heavily on recommending my friend, Ben the buyer’s agent, and that’s going well as well. So we’ve had 5 sales this month and we’re halfway through the month, so that’s a nice income for me and our goal is 7 sales per month, which will put us about $10,000 or so per month for me in terms of revenue and probably 4 times that, so like $40,000 for him per month in terms of revenue from those. Plus, he also has his own customers and his own marketing methods and things like that.

So in terms of On Property, things are going well. In terms of life, in terms of stress and all that sort of stuff, maybe not going as well. But at least I’m not having life to stress about and also having business problems and money problems that I need to stress about. So, no money problems apart from the fraud and not getting my bond back. The business seems to be doing well. Now that we’re in our new place, I really need to again assess where I want to go moving forward.

It’s hard to get back into the swing of things after losing over a week to moving house, the issues we had ,the fraud, the going to New Zealand to come back into it now and to be like, “Okay, what am I going to do? What am I doing?” I have found myself sitting in my computer at times not really 100% sure what I should be doing to move forward in my business.

I created a few videos, but I don’t really have a studio setup where I can film at the moment. I had the perfect corner, perfect wall, perfect lighting – okay, it wasn’t perfect, but it was really good. I had this huge window at my old place. The new house, our bedroom, which is where my office is, so much darker making it so much harder to film. So this is an issue that I need to resolve so that I can go on creating content.

But also, I need to think about what sort of content do I want to create? It’s getting harder and harder to create content for On Property. Interviews, I’m definitely getting better at and they seem to be happening more and more often. I’m not having any problem creating content for interviews, but when I’m doing solo content, which is probably 50% of the content I do, it is a lot harder to find topics to go into that I haven’t covered already.

Because I have done over 350 episodes now. So 350 interviews, that’s easy – talk to a new person every single time – not easy, but easier. But when you’re creating solo content, you’re trying to answer people’s questions, it does get a bit harder. So hats off to Pat Flynn who does the Ask Pat podcast and has done hundreds of episodes there. Hats off to him for doing that. Originally, I thought it was easy, but it does definitely get hard.

So I’m just trying to assess at the moment what do I want to do moving forward. I don’t want to spend all my time on On Property. I do want to spend a couple of days a week doing it, but what I’d love to do is do full, hardcore 2 days a week for On Property, but then be done for the week with On Property. And then have the rest of the week to explore things like the niche site that I’m working on as well as other projects that I’m pondering and maybe interested in.

I do want to begin developing more streams of income and I do want to develop more passive streams of income.

I created a website, pelt.co, where I created a bunch of videos. Let’s go on now to the Youtube channel and I’ll find out how many videos I actually created. It was probably around 20 videos or something like that. So let me go to Pelt, which currently has 65 subscribers. Let’s go to the Creator Studio so I can see my videos. Because I don’t actually know how many videos I created. Okay, I’ve created 32 videos for pelt.co. Some of these videos are short videos of a couple of minutes long.

Some of these are full 12-part series on how to create a membership site, etc. So I’ve got a bunch of videos there – 32 videos. And if I go to the analytics for Pelt, then I can see that these videos are making me, in the last 28 days, somewhere around the $10 mark. So $10 a month, but what I absolutely love about this is because they’re on Youtube, they’re not costing me any money. I don’t need to maintain any websites. There’s absolutely no work that goes in to maintaining this, but I’m getting some passive income from it.

Let’s go to Podcast Fast, which is a series I created on how to start a podcast fast and a bunch of other videos. So let’s see how many videos we have. Again, I’ll go to the Creator Studio and we can see that I have 29 videos. And again, in the last 28 days, around the $10 mark in terms of revenue. Let’s go to Public Speaking Power, which is a site that I haven’t touched in years. Probably 2 years since I added the last content for this one.

I’ve got 36 videos on there and that one is creating a little bit less than the $10 per month. So those 3 things combined, $30 per month Now, that is not going to blow your socks off, but that is $30 per month and if On Property goes the way of the dinosaurs and for one reason or another, ends up crashing, then I’ve got some small amounts of passive income on the side that I’m generating. So I do want to build that up.

I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I am focusing on this niche website, which last month made me probably $10 or something like that. And so, looking to build that up and build up multiple sites.

Basically, my goal was by the end of the year, I wanted On Property to be 50% of my revenue. Now, On Property is growing in terms of revenue, so 50% of that is getting harder and harder, but hopefully, we can at least move it up 10%, 20%, 30% from other sources. So we’ll see how we go by the end of the year.

I am happy to be back at work. I’m happy to be podcasting and talking to you guys. If you have any questions, you can email me, ryan@ryanmclean.net and I will answer them on the air. That will obviously give me content for Instructions Not Included on the days when I’m not feeling super inspired.

That’s it for me for today. I will continue working on my business. I will continue working on my Smash Brothers skills. I will continue moving into my house, getting my studio setup, etc., etc. and I hope that you continue working on your business as well. Things are going well enough.

I am happy that income is growing. I am happy that I don’t have to stress about the income, but I do need to work out what am I going to do with my time? If income is covered for me, how am I going to grow it and basically protect myself against the things that may happen in the future? Signing off for today.

I’m Ryan McLean. You can check me out at ryanmclean.net and see all the episodes over there for Instructions Not Included. If you want to get your own website setup, then I do suggest Arvixe as a web host.

They are not the best web host in the world, but they are pretty darn good and they are one of the cheapest web host in the industry. I think I signed up for maybe 2 or 3 years and I pay something around $3.20 per month. So it’s ridiculously cheap and I host about 4 or 5 websites through Arvixe. Go ahead and check them out, go to pelt.co/arvixe and if you use the code, “PELTDISCOUNT”, you’re going to get 20% off your first invoice.

I use Arvixe, I recommend them. They’re not flawless, but they are very good and very cheap. So if you need your website hosted, consider Arvixe. And again, use the code, “PELTDISCOUNT” to get 20% off.

That’s it today for me, guys. I wish you the best in your business and until next time, if you want instructions, go and buy some furniture.

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#66 My Business Strategy Moving Forward

iniartworksmallSince I realised my current business strategy wasn’t working I have created a new strategy that I will be testing.

Hey Guys, Ryan here from Instructions Not Included. I wanted to give you an update on my strategy of my business moving forward.

I last recorded and episode a little over a week ago how I made the realization that my business wasn’t actually viable the way I was approaching it and I needed to make some major changes to my business and to my business model. And so, I wanted to give you guys a bit of an update on where I’m at with that and some of the plans I have moving forward. So, if you haven’t listened to the previous episode, go back and listen to that so you can see the realization that I had.

But basically, the way that I was looking at it, I thought I was running a sticky membership site where people would recur over and over again, but what I’ve discovered was that 90% of people were leaving within the first year.

So basically, ever single year, I’m starting from scratch with new members.

So what has that affected? Well, it’s affected the way that I sell On Property Plus. I now think of it more as a single one-time product than I do as a recurring membership subscription. So I’ve gone back to selling it through an evergreen sales funnel. So people come into the funnel, they get some free videos and then the door’s open for them for a limited time – for 5 days.

They get special links for that and they get 5 days to act and to purchase. Otherwise, it then closes for them and they can’t access it anymore. So it adds scarcity to the situation to help get people over the line and it’s actually real scarcity because they only get that only opportunity for that set period of time and if they don’t take action, then they can’t actually sign up after that. I’m also considering doing a couple of major launches throughout the year, but I haven’t taken any action on that.

A bit of an update there. My first cohort is going through this week of I think it was around 60 people or something like that. It opened the doors yesterday. I’ve already had one sale of $300. So that is a positive outlook for me seeing as I can already see that it’s working. I haven’t had annual sale in like 2 months. So to get an annual sale on the first day that doors opened was very exciting and I think it’s next week from the tracking that I looked at, we’ve got over 300 people going through the launch sequence next week.

These people aren’t as targeted, so we’re really going to have to track that and see how things go, but it’s going to be really interesting to see if this is going to be viable. If I can achieve my goals through this. So that’s set up – that’s really good.

I’ve also gone deep into the tracking. And so, what I’m going to be doing is tracking what freebie people signed up for. And then, I can track based on what people signed up for, how likely are they to convert into a sale. So I can estimate; okay, someone who signs up for the new build checklist, they’re, on average, worth $1 per user. Someone who signs up for the free properties checklist, on average, they’re worth $6 a user. So then I can focus on creating free content that attracts the right people. So that’s the idea behind it. So I’ve got about 5 or 6 things that I’m tracking there.

I still got a bit of work to do to setup the tracking in full for that, but I’ve got a little bit of it going, which is good.

What else are we at? Okay, Property Tools is just ticking away. No changes there at the moment. I don’t have any plans for that, but basically, On Property is going on autopilot. I did get another commission from Ben. But, yeah, On Property, in terms of content, in terms of marketing, it’s going basically on autopilot.

I’m going to collect some of that data and based on what the data tells me, that will drive what sort of content I create in the future because I want to create the right content that attracts people who are likely to buy from my product. So I’ll scale that up slowly through content marketing, but I just want to focus on the right content for me and for the product that I’m selling. And then, hopefully, I can just fund that with On Property Plus as well as commissions from Ben.

So that’s On Property out of the way. That was the big thing that we had to deal with last week was that it wasn’t viable and now we’re in a situation where we believe it’s going to be viable moving forward. It’s not going to be a homerun success. It’s not going to be the future of my business, but hey, it can tick along in the background. It can generate enough revenue to keep us going and for me to pursue other things.

Now, let’s talk about what I am doing and the plans that I have moving forward. When I started working for myself full time, when I quit my 6-figure income job to work for myself full time, I had big dreams about what I wanted to do with my business and the kind of thing that I wanted to create. When I was talking to my wife about our whole situation, she said to me, “Go back to the place where you last felt like God was saying to you, ‘Yes, this is what you’re meant to do.’ where you last felt like you were on track to create what you wanted to create.” Going back, the last thing where I was absolutely like, “Yes.

I’m really passionate about this.” was when I was thinking about creating an education company for adults, basically. What I want to do is help teach people basically any form of education that’s going to help them improve their lives in some way. I want to be a part of that. I always wanted to create really practical education things that they can use to apply to improve their lives.

So going back, that’s kind of the last time I was really happy – the last time I was really passionate. And so I went back to that and I thought, “Okay, let’s just say On Property ticks away and we’re going to survive. I’m not going to have to go back to work for myself, how do I want to move forward with my business?” The problem with On Property, you know On Property was great. Creating your own products is a great way to make money, but there’s a lot of maintenance in creating your own products.

There’s a lot of effort that goes into creating your own products, which takes away from creating free content to market those products. And then, once you launch them and sell them, obviously, there’s ongoing support and maintenance for that. And so, I was thinking, if I want to build a large, scalable company, I need to think about things other than my own products. There’s definitely going to be some situations where I will create my own products, but if I want to go broad, I need to think of a business strategy that is going to work better.

Something that was really cool was I created this mini course on how to start a podcast fast. So I talk through it, it was really practical, step-by-step guide on how to create a podcast. And I just created that, I put it on Youtube.

I put it on my website, podcastfast.com and basically set it up. And I had big plans for the site to launch my own products, but I never got around to it. But anyway, that course has been viewed thousands and thousands of times by people and it’s made me over $1000 Australian in referrals to a web host which I recommend, Arvix. Basically, people go through the tutorial. Part of the tutorial is here’s how you setup a website for your podcast and here’s a host that I recommend, it’s Arvix, and I got a coupon code.

A special coupon code that gets them 20% off, but then also that’s an affiliate link, an affiliate code and so it’s get tracked to me and I make money every time someone signs up. So over the course of how ever long it’s been since I launched that – I would have to go back into the Instructions not Included archives to work out when I launched that, but it’s made about $1,000 for me.

I feel really great about it because I was able to put out free content, really help people and then, obviously, there’s the financial reward of the $1,000 that I’ve received. And so, I thought, “Okay, well, this is a business model that I’ve kind of micro tested and kind of proven to work. Maybe I can take this idea and I can take it to other things that I know how to do.” And again, my wife was really encouraging me to go down this route.

She’s been talking about it for months. For me to create videos, to create podcast, to create lessons on the things that I know how to do. Things like how to create a website and stuff like that. But I never wanted to be in the make-money-online niche. I have been in that in the past when I wasn’t making any money online. I don’t want to be one of those make-money-online gurus and have the majority of my income come from me telling people how to make money. I was really put off by that for a long time.

But then I thought about this podcastfast series that I did and I thought, “You know what I could do, I could create series that showed people practically how to do some of the things that I do.” So rather than saying to people, “Here’s how to make money online.” I can say to people, “Okay, you want to make money online in X way, here’s how to go about setting that up.” The same approach I’ve taken for On Property.

I don’t own any property so I can’t say to people, “Here’s the best way to invest. Look at me, I’ve invested, I’m so successful.” I say, “Okay, you want to invest in positive cash flow property, here’s how to find them. I’ll teach you how to find them or provide services for you on how to find them.” So I’m telling them they should invest this way. I’m not saying I’m successful. I’m just saying I know how to find positive cash flow properties and so, here, I’m going to help you.

I like to relate it to the gold rush. I am someone who’s selling pans to the people who are coming to the gold rush. So I’m not selling a course on how to become rich through the gold rush. But what I’m doing is I’ve got a shop where I’m just providing people with pans or with Levi jeans that they can buy that’s going to help them when they’re out there panning for gold. So rather than saying, “Here’s how you should pan for gold.” People are like, “I’m coming here to pan for gold.” and I’m like, “Well, here’s a pan.” or “Here’s some jeans to keep you warm while you’re panning for gold.”

The first course that I’m going to be creating is how to create a membership site with zero coding. So how can you setup a membership site and sell your membership site without touching a line of code at all? And so, this will be a mini-series.

It ended up being broken into 12 parts and it’ll walk people through exactly how to setup a membership site that they can go ahead and sell. Start from the very beginning, about buying a domain name, getting a hosting, all of that sort of stuff. And I have a couple of affiliate products in there that I’m recommending – domain name, hosting and LeadPages as well and WishList member. So I think I’ve got 4 affiliate products that I recommend as part of how to create this membership site with zero coding.

The goal is this is the same as podcastfast – to put it out, to create this awesome, epic mini-series that just walks people through exactly how to do it and then the goal is to create affiliate income through that, through the products and services that I recommend.

I also have plans for how to create an evergreen launch sequence. Maybe some stuff on email marketing. Maybe that’s all I’ve got – the membership site and the evergreen launch sequence are kind of the two that I’m mulling over at the moment. I’ll do the membership site one. Move on to the evergreen one and then, hopefully I’ve come up with another idea for something I can create after that. So that’s what I’m up to. That’s my strategy at the moment. Get On Property ticking away and then use my time to create these educational videos that I’m giving away for free. And then, the business model is that there’ll be some affiliate income through that.

That’s where I’m at at the moment. That’s where my business is at. All of these lessons will be hosted on my website, Pelt. So I’ve got pelt.co and so that’s a brand name that I’m going with. Originally, I wanted to make it stand for something like, “Personal Education Life Transformation” or “Personal Education Learning and Tools” or “Learning and Training” or something like that. But in the end, I’ve gone with Pelt – Learn Faster. That’s my tagline at the moment. I don’t think it’s awesome, but I think it’s good enough for now.

So all of these tutorials, you guys can find. Just go to pelt.co and you’ll be able to find them all over there. Yeah, I’m really excited for this. I’m really excited to create these really helpful mini-series for people. I think it’s going to help a lot of people and I think it’s also a potential for me to create the passive income that I want to have the live that I want in 3-5 years where I can travel with my family and have the freedom and flexibility to do a whole variety of things. Some of these stuff that I recommend will be one-time payments and I’ll get a fee, like with hosting. But then, some of it is recurring as well, so the email marketing stuff I’ll recommend will be recurring.

I’ll also recommend Snappy Checkout to receive payments, so that’ll be recurring. So if you need to receive payments for any of your products, there is no better solution. This is my shameless plug for Snappy Checkout, I’m affiliate for. Go ahead, check it out. Go to pelto.co/sc for Snappy Checkout and you can go ahead and check that out. It’s absolutely my favourite way to collect payments.

It integrates with Paypal or Stripe so they can pay credit card or Paypal. Their fees are really low. I was just actually looking at their fees and it’s 2% or $0.50, whichever is lower. So I worked it out – if you have a product over $25, the most you will pay is $0.50. That’s where it becomes $0.50. I sell a product for $300, right? If I went to somewhere like Gumroad, they charge 5%. So, on top of Stripe, which is 2.9%, I’m paying an extra 2.1% if I go with Gumroad. Let’s just call it 2% to make it easy. So on a $300 product, an extra 2% is $6 for me.

If I sell 10 a month, that’s $60 a month. If I sell 100 a year, that’s $600 a year if I go with Gumroad. If I go with Snappy Checkout, then I’m paying $0.50 rather than $6 on that $300 product. So it’s no-brainer that I would use Snappy Checkout. And also, their checkout, I really it because it looks really professional. It looks really trustworthy. And also, they don’t require people’s shipping addresses. Often, you’ve got this checkouts and people need to put in their shipping addresses to buy an electronic product and I think that lowers conversions and so less people checkout.

You can tell, I use it for all of my products. I absolutely love it. Please go and check it out through my affiliate link, I’d really appreciate it. Go to pelt.co/sc for Snappy Checkout and sign up for an account today.

So that’s where I’m at in my business. Not planning on doing Instructions Not Included episodes daily at the moment because I just don’t have enough to keep updated, but I’ll probably keep them going about once a week or just whenever I feel the urge to say something to you guys. So I hope that you are moving your business forward. I hope that you’re learning from my mistakes. And if you want instructions, you know what to do – go and buy some furniture.

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#44 On Ending Night Terrors With Varun From Lully

[youtube id=”ouMUg28noJk” align=”left” mode=”lazyload” maxwidth=”500″]

[youtube id=”ouMUg28noJk” align=”left” mode=”normal” maxwidth=”400″]Night terrors occur when your child has a tantrum but isn’t actually awake. Today I talk about Lully, a product that stops night terrors in children.

Hey guys, Ryan here from Instructions Not Included. Today is a great episode because I actually interview another startup founder. This guy’s name is Varun and he started a company called Lully or Lully, depending on how you pronounce it; tomato, tomato. But this is a really cool company. They solved the problem of night terrors in young children. Now, if you don’t know what a night terror is, then consider yourself lucky.

A night terror happens when your child – they wake up but they don’t actually wake up. And generally, it results in them having a tantrum but they’re not actually awake. And so, you can’t console your child, you can’t fix the tantrum. Often, when you go to try and help them or hold them down to stop them hurting themselves or something, they don’t respond to you and, in fact, they get worse. So, night terrors are a really serious issue for parents because it’s very traumatic as a parent.

I have a child who gets night terrors. It’s very traumatic as a parent to watch your child go through these traumas, to go through these nightmares where they don’t wake up, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

Varun created a company with his co-founders that solves this problem. Basically, they created a product which is like this disc that goes under your child’s bed and vibrates. Along with software, it’s an app on your phone, that tells you when to turn it on. We talk about how they started the company, a whole bunch of stuff around night terrors and how they ended up going through and getting this product created.

This was someone that I really wanted to interview because I really love this product. It solves the problem of night terrors for my child and I hope that by creating this, some people out there will learn about night terrors and learn about how to fix it for their children as well. So, here’s the interview with Varun from lullysleep.com.

Ryan: My kid had night terrors and I actually found out about you through This Week in Startups. Do you listen to that podcast at all? Jason Calacanis.

Varun: Oh! Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. So, anyway, he was interviewing a VC and they were talk about, “Oh, yeah, we invested in this company that helps people whose kids wake up screaming in the night.” I was like, “Oh my god! That’s my kid!” I didn’t even know what a night terror was. And then, I heard that and so I went on a Google spree to find you. Because they had mentioned, “Oh, they were from MIT or something” so then, I’m googling “MIT night terrors”. Eventually, I found it and I was able to get one and ship it out to me.

How did you even start to think, “Oh, I know, we’ll deal with this issue that’s like night terrors and we’ll just put like vibrating disc under kids’ beds and that’ll fix the problem.” Because there seems to be no other solution out there. It’s just so random solution. What happened?

Varun: Stepping back a little bit, it sort of started because my co-founder grew up with a sister who had night terrors and more recently, his nephew had started experiencing night terrors. Both of us were at Stanford at the time doing a healthcare innovation fellowship. It’s a program that essentially helps you find ideas what’s [inaudible 3:28] and a lot of the times, it results in companies being spun out. Anyway, so, we met as a part of that program and he brought up night terrors as an interesting area.

He’s a clinician by training. It was sort of an interesting insight where the clinical community looked at night terrors and really thought they were benign. They’re something that kids will eventually grow out of. There were really no terrible adverse outcomes from night terrors. And so, the clinical community had said it’s not a problem. But in reality, for a parent dealing with night terrors and specially a family with consistent night terrors, it’s pretty draining. And it’s pretty emotional to see a child in that state. As we were looking at the problem, we thought it’s something that definitely warrants solving. So, that’s sort of how we got started working on night terrors.

Ryan: I think that’s interesting because night terror, for people who don’t know, is like your kid wakes up screaming in the night sometimes throwing a tantrum but they’re not actually awake. And if you try and console them and try and calm them down, usually, it makes things worse. Super frustrating as a parent because there’s nothing you can do.

But I can see clinically why people have ignored it because my child doesn’t even remember having them in the morning. So it’s really stressful as a parent, but as a child, I don’t even know if that registers for them that these things are happening.

Varun: Exactly. The kid doesn’t know. I think another part of it is pediatricians really didn’t have a tool. If they did start seeing night terrors was a problem, their hands are still tied because they can’t really offer you a solution to it. Part of it is that playing out as well.

Ryan: Yeah. Do we know what causes night terrors? Like, why does this happen?

Varun: Yeah. So, we don’t know exactly what causes night terrors. When you do overnight sleep studies or polysomnograms with children who experience night terrors, they tend to have a lot more spontaneous partial awakenings from their deep sleep – a lot more frequently than other children.

Ryan: Does this mean they don’t have a standard sleep cycle where they go into REM sleep and then come out and go back in?

Varun: Overall, their sleep architecture remains the same. But most kids, they’d go in a deep sleep. During a continuous period of deep sleep, they may partially awaken once or twice very, very briefly but they’re in deep sleep for majority of that time. Children who have night terrors have multiple – significantly more of these partial awakenings from their deep sleep. What people believe is those are triggers of night terrors.

Ryan: So what is a partial awakening? Is that like, when you kind of wake up and you roll over and pull the covers on yourself or something like those sort of moments?

Varun: That’s one type of partial awakening. The clinical definition of a partial awakening or non-sustained awakening is, I believe it’s less than 3 seconds. There’s no recollection of the event in the morning. You may do something that you typically do when you’re awake, like, yeah, roll over and pull the covers over. But you really haven’t fully woken up from sleep and you really don’t remember ever doing it.

With nigh terrors, what tends to happen is during some of those partial awakenings, the brain enters a dissociative state. And what that means is, part of the brain is awake while the rest of it is asleep. With night terrors, the part that’s responsible for motor activity is awake but the parts of the brain that are responsible for processing external stimuli and for laying down memories is asleep. So, they act like they’re awake but they can’t process any input. So, if you’re trying to hold them, you’re trying to control what they’re doing, trying to keep them in bed, they tend to fight you off.

Ryan: Yeah. So, why does it result in a tantrum? They can move around but they can’t respond to input. So, they don’t know you’re there or they don’t know that someone’s touching them or something. Why is a night terror not just like the kid stands up and walks around the room or something like that? Why is it so severe in terms of a tantrum?

Varun: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. We’ve gotten a couple of questions along that [inaudible 8:45]. There are actually a spectrum of sleep disorders called disorders of arousal and night terrors is probably the most intense. And then, the middle of the road is sleep walking. So, your child is still appears to be awake, they walk around the room but there’s no yelling, there’s on screaming, there’s no crying. And the mildest form of disorders of arousal is called confusional arousal. So, your child usually is still in bed. They may mumble a little bit, they’ll toss and turn, they may moan a little bit, but nothing…

Ryan: Is this like sleep talking?

Varun: Yeah, a little bit. So, they all fall under the same umbrella of sleep disorders and they’re all tied to the same dissociative state in the brain. They’re all very, very similar.

Ryan: So, with Lully, so it’s a vibrating disc under your bed that you, as a parent, turn on at a certain point in time. You get an app on your iPhone that connects to it and you turn it on and it vibrates for 3 minutes or you turn it off when your kid starts moving.

How did you guys come up with the idea, “Let’s use vibration to interrupt like a sleep pattern”? I think it’s genius because I don’t have to medicate my child. I hardly have to do anything. I let the app know when my kid goes to bed and then it notifies me and says it’s time for Lully and I do it when it’s time and that’s all I have to do. How did you come up with the idea, like, “Let’s skip medication, let’s just try vibration?” Did you try a bunch of things or was it just…

Varun: Yeah. It was sort of 2 parts to it. The program we were in at Stanford, called “Biodesign”, it teaches a very specific philosophy to innovation. You really identify the problem that you’re trying to solve and then you build a set of criteria that the solution to that problem needs to meet. This is way before you even start thinking about whether you can solve the problem or not or how you’re going to solve it.

Ryan: So you just say, “Here’s our problem. In order for this problem to met, we need to meet certain criteria.” And that’s kind of how you start.

Varun: Exactly. One of our most important criteria was it shouldn’t be drug-based. Criteria like that are things we gather talking to customers. So, we talked to moms and dads who are dealing with night terrors and try to understand what are the most important aspects that a solution needs to meet for it to be adopted by a parent dealing with this problem.

So, it not being something that was drug-based was really important. It not being something that interrupted with sleep routine or the sleep environment was really important. It not being something that they’d have to wear was important from a compliance standpoint. So, we put together this list of 8 to 10 requirements that are really important for a solution to meet. That’s sort of phase 1 of coming out with a solution.

Then, phase 2 was really clinical-research-driven. Spend a lot of time looking back at early literature about night terrors. Honestly, there isn’t a lot about night terrors, but…

Ryan: Yeah. It must be hard if clinically, they think it’s benign so let’s not worry about it.

Varun: Exactly. So no one wants to study it. No one gives you a grant to study night terrors. But we did find a handful of papers – they were just case reports. So, 2-3 kids being studied back in the ‘80s and some clinicians describing a technique called  “Scheduled Awakenings” where they suggested keeping a track of your child’s night terrors and then walking into the room at some point in the night fully waking up your child, keeping them up for 5 minutes and then putting them back to bed. It was a small sample size in terms of clinical studies, but the results look really compelling.

These were families that were dealing with night terrors for years on end and all of a sudden, they do this for a couple of weeks and in 12 months of follow up, these children didn’t have their night terrors come back.

Ryan: Was this something that parents would do every night?

Varun: Yeah. Parents would do it every night for up to 7 weeks. So, there was some clinical data which said, “Hey, there’s something about interrupting sleep cycles that looks like it may make sense.” So that was sort of data point number 1. The second was, we were at Stanford and we were really lucky to be at Stanford because sleep medicine as a field was created at Stanford by Bill Dement and Christian Guilleminault back in the ‘60s and ‘70s and Dr. Guilleminault still practices there. So, we went and started working with him and he’s sort of a walking encyclopedia about sleep.

We’d walk into his office on a Friday afternoon and just rattle off questions and he’d just answer them off the top of his head.

Ryan: So it’s like Google, but for sleep disorders and stuff.

Varun: Yes! Exactly! For a very, very specific space [inaudible 14:26]. We were also lucky because there was a clinician from the University of Minnesota who used to come to Stanford once a month only to run their parasomnia clinic and nigh terrors are considered a parasomnia. He’s someone who’s being invited to Stanford only to run a parasomnia clinic because he is one of the best in the world. So we had tremendous resources at Stanford, 2 clinicians who understood what was going on.

And then, the third bit was talking to pediatricians, talking to the sleep community about why scheduled awakenings hadn’t caught on. The data looked so compelling.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s what I’m thinking, if it was done in the ‘80s, why has no one picked up on it?

Varun: Yeah. So no one practiced it. That was always curious for us. What we learnt through talking to both clinicians who recommended it and parents who had tried it was your clinicians would talk to you about scheduled awakening in a 15-minute appointment and tell you, “Keep a track of your child’s night terrors and then at some point before that, go into the room and wake your child up.” So, this has a bunch of problems once you get back home.

One, you never know when you should be waking up your child because no one really told you when to wake up your child. The second is you’re breaking a cardinal rule of parenting, which is wake up your child once you’ve put them to bed.

Ryan: Yeah. Never wake a sleeping baby, isn’t that the rule?

Varun: Exactly. So, you’re stuck as a parent with not having enough information to implement it and being really worried about implementing it because it took you an hour to put your child to bed and now they’re telling you to wake them up. So we sort of looked at that and said, “Compliance, education, automation and awakening were the big problems with scheduled awakening as a therapy as it existed.” We looked at it, can all of this be automated? And technology is a great way to automate things that have compliance problems.

Technology is a great place when you have a compliance problem. And so, we looked at this entire problem and said, “Okay, is there a way to reduce this technique to something that can be taken home with someone and implement it without really needing to know anything more than, ‘put this under your child’s bed and start using it’?”

So that’s sort of how we learnt about this being an effective solution and started defining and designing the product. This is a long, withered answer to your original question of, “How we thought about the vibrating pod under the bed?” It sort of came back to some of those really important criteria that we set out for a solution. We wanted it to be something that wasn’t wearable and outside of the – that didn’t disturb the environment of the bed, didn’t disturb bedtime routine; which is why it went under the bed.

We also learned that about 40% of children share a bedroom with a sibling.

Ryan: Yup. That’s true for my children. They share a bedroom.

Varun: Okay. Yeah. And so, we didn’t want, you know, if you think of other ways to partially awaken a child, it’s light, sound, vibrations and light and sound could potentially wake up someone else in the room as well. Whereas, vibrations is very personalised. And so we picked that as an intervention mechanism.

Ryan: Was your original goal that we use these vibrations to actually wake the child up?

Varun: That was the other key bit that we learnt working with the clinicians at Stanford. A big hypothesis we had was – all the studies previously had said you have to wake up your child and keep them awake for 3-5 minutes. We said, if that was required, we couldn’t productise this. No one’s going to do that.

So, we instead tried to understand why waking up your child worked. And the reason was it sort of resets the sleep cycle. It gets the entire brain into the same state so that you don’t end up with part of the brain being awake and part of it being asleep. So we sort of speculated…

Ryan: Is that because the whole brain wakes up? Or, does it take you out of REM sleep and put you back to the start of the sleep cycle, what does it do?

Varun: Right. When you wake up someone, you take them out of whatever stage of sleep they’re in. You bring the brain entirely to the awake state. And then, if they nod back to off, they’d into light sleep and back into deep sleep. So that’s why fully waking them up works.

We were looking at whether we could do the same thing without fully waking up someone. So we came up with this concept of partial awakenings where you get the child, you bring them very, very briefly out of the deep sleep state that they are in, but don’t keep them in the awake state long enough that they fully wake up but let the body go back to sleep.

What the vibrations does is very briefly bring them out of deep sleep. And as soon as the brain sees that trigger, it tries to put the child back to sleep without ever letting them fully wake up. That was sort of a critical insight for us to be able to translate this technique into something that’s actually a product.

It was a hypothesis that we came up with while we were still at Stanford and then we ran a scientific study to validate it. We had children who had night terrors enrol in the study and we practiced this partial awakenings technique on them for a period of 3-7 weeks and saw comparable results to what was published in the previous studies back from the ’80s.

That was sort of our aha moment of, okay, we know how to build a device that doesn’t wake up the child but is enough to reset their sleep cycle. We can do it from under the mattress without preturbing their sleep and without interfering with their sleep. Now we have something that met all the criteria that we initially set out.

Ryan: Yeah. That’s awesome. Can I ask you, sometimes when I do the Lully, my child doesn’t move. So it goes for the 3 minutes and they don’t move at all. Does that mean they’re not getting that partial awakening? Or, are still getting it but their body is not responding?

Varun: Yes. It’s the latter. Because the brain can still be activated and have a partial awakening without the physical manifestation of a movement. But without having a bunch of leads on a kid’s head, you really can’t pick those up. When we see a movement, there’s a guarantee of a partial awakening, but once the vibrations are on, there could be a partial awakening that doesn’t result in a movement.

Ryan: This is so good for me to know. It makes so much sense now why you turn the vibrations off once your child starts moving, because they’ve obviously achieved that partial awakening state. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know why do you turn it off when they started moving. I thought it was just so you didn’t wake them up fully. So, yeah, that’s cool to know.

Varun: Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s probably something we need to spend some time educating our users about.

Ryan: The way it happened for me, my child would only have night terrors maybe once a week or twice a week to once a month, it really varied. So, we didn’t really know what it was. We didn’t know what a night terror was. We didn’t even know we really had a problem. We just had a kid who woke up screaming who you couldn’t fix.

We would fix it, we would have to put on a TV show like Peppa Pig and wake him up to get him out of that state. That was a solution we had come up with and it wasn’t until I heard about, oh, there’s this startup company that’s done this thing. And I was like, “Oh my goodness! That’s the problem that we have.” I didn’t know.

So, you did all the studies. You came up with the idea. Talk to me about how hard was it to start a company like this and to get a product created to be able to sell it? I sell information products, but I’ve never had to create something physical.

Varun: It’s definitely it’s own set of challenges. Today, all physical products have a software component, so I almost fell like we’re taking on the challenges of both the software and the hardware world when you build physical products these days. It’s definitely a journey. It takes a lot longer to develop physical products.

Rewinding the clock a little bit. So, we wrapped up at Stanford June-July of last year. We spent the rest of the year doing our clinical study to show that what we claimed was an effective way to help with night terrors was in fact effective.

Ryan: Is this so you could market the product as effective for night terrors? Because otherwise it could potentially be…

Varun: It sort of had 3 different reasons for doing that. One was to prove to ourselves that this was a product worth developing. And it actually solved the problem we were going after.

Ryan: Yeah. It’s not snake oil or something that you just think it helps but it doesn’t actually.

Varun: Right. Exactly, exactly. That, as a company, as founders, was really important to us. The second was to be able to make the claims that we do. We needed to have data backing it up. The third, honestly, was to get investor buy-in.

We were talking about a problem that isn’t talked about a lot and talking about a solution to a problem that hadn’t ever existed. So, there was definitely skepticism behind both whether this problem really existed and whether this problem could be solved the way we claimed it could be. That clinical study was definitely played a very big part in getting us across that hurdle.

We raised a little bit of money towards the end of 2014. We were fortunate enough to apply and get accepted in Y Combinator, which is Bay Area-based accelerate incubator now fund.

Ryan: Yeah. I didn’t know you guys were in YC.

Varun: Yeah. We were in winner 15.

Ryan: Okay. Cool. To get the product made, did you guys do – I think I pre-purchased the product or you had sold out and I purchased it before the next run. Did you go through YC and then do a Kickstarter or something like that to get it funded, to create it?

Varun: Yeah. We didn’t go down the Kickstarter approach because this really was problem that parents wanted solved today and not 9 months from today. It felt like something we needed – when we took someone’s money, we need to promise them a solution to it. So, what we did, we sort of did in 2 parts. During YC, we did 100-family beta.

This was to show that we could put a product in the hand of the lay consumer and they could use it and see comparable results to our clinical study. So, that was 100-person beta we did. And then, starting July this year, we started selling the full commercial product.

Ryan: Yup. I think that’s when I bought it. It was in July or maybe even a little bit before that. I don’t know if you did a pre-sale, did you?

Varun: Yeah. So we were taking pre-sales before our launch for a couple of weeks, that’s right.

Ryan: Okay. So I got in on the official launch, did I?

Varun: Yeah. You did.

Ryan: Awesome!

Varun: You’re an early adopter.

Ryan: The reason that I committed was just the sheer fact that there’s nothing out there. Once I realised I had this problem, you do some googling about it and really, there’s no solution out there that’s, like, this is actually going to fix my problem. And then, I think it was your sales video as well. When I saw the parents’ experience in that sales video, it’s like your kid isn’t waking up and then when you said you try and help them and they get worse.

I’m like, “Yes. That is me.” I’m like, if this is going to cost me $200 in terms of Australian money, then that’s totally worth it for me.

It’s so funny. As a parent, you’re willing to spend money on this even though your child doesn’t remember it and you’re child’s going to grow out of it. It’s such a traumatic experience that you’re like, “I will pay almost anything to not have to deal with this.” It’s just too much.

Varun: Honestly, it’s a combination of the trauma, the unknown, the heartbreak and the sleep deprivation. We have families that have 3-4 night terrors a night and it’s been going on for 3 years. I don’t know they’re functional.

Ryan: Yeah. I can’t imagine doing that. I have 1 every week or so and that was hard enough. I can’t imagine having a couple a night.

Varun: Right. It’s hard to deal with as a parent, each one is really hard.

Ryan: Yup. So, what do you guys think your plans will be from here? Is it just really get more distribution of the product and get it out there?

Varun: Yeah. Right now, we’re definitely focused on getting the product out there, helping as many families as we can. Both in terms of educating them about night terrors and then offering a solution if that’s warranted. Ultimately, our goal as a company is to be the children sleep company.

One of the things that struck us as really odd or struck us as a really good opportunity was the fact that technology had helped parents in so many different ways and it helped make parenting so much easier. But the one guarantee as a parent today is you’re going to be sleep-deprived for the next 2-3 years. It was sort of shocking.

Ryan: Yeah. I’ve got 3 kids a the moment and I’ve got a 6-month old who’s sick at the moment. And he is up all night with sickness. Yeah. I’m very sleep-deprived.

Varun: It was sort of shocking to us that in today’s day and age, with all the technology we have that was an area that hadn’t seen much of improvement and saw an opportunity to come at it from the medical, the clinical or the scientific side of things. A lot of products in the children and baby space are more consumer-driven products.

Ryan: Yeah. Like toys and colourful things and stuff like that? Cots and beds and that sort of stuff? Yeah.

Varun: Right.

Ryan: I know. I mean it. [inaudible 31:21]

When I shared this with my friends and stuff like that, one of the things that I was asked; I’ve got a friend who has – I can’t remember what the condition is called, but they had nightmares but while they were awake and they can’t move their body. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Varun: Sleep paralysis?

Ryan: Yes. Sleep paralysis. I was just wondering, can something like this or something you guys work on, will that ever help with sleep paralysis? Because that seems like one of those things that there’s just no solution and it’s just really bad.

Varun: Yeah. And that’s really scary for the kids themselves because in sleep paralysis, you’re actually fully awake and you know what’s going on and you have memory of the event.

Ryan: It kind of sounds like the opposite to night terrors. Like, night terrors your motor functions work but you’re not awake.

Varun: Yeah. They are. Right, right.

Ryan: Yeah. So they were asking me, can Lully be used for sleep paralysis? I’m guessing the answer is “No”.

Varun: Not the product we have. The product we have in the market right now is really for night terrors. But as we work through our product pipeline and get more and more products out there that are able to help with sleep, hopefully, one day, we are able to find a way to solve sleep paralysis.

Ryan: Are you able to tell me what other problems you are working on? In terms of what other sleep issues?

Varun: I can tell you broadly that it’s still within the infant-toddler-pre-schooler sleep space. I’m not sure I can get necessarily into much more detail, but we’re staying very focused. We’re not going into the adult sleep space. We’re not going into the clinical sleep space. We’re sort of focused at helping babies, infants, toddlers sleep better.

Ryan: Cool. I’ll definitely be monitoring you guys and finding what’s coming next. Because I still got toddlers and I still got young kids. And that’s the thing, I never knew I had a problem and so, if you’re saying the things that you’re creating can help parents with sleep deprivation, dude, I am all on board with that! That sounds great for me. I’ve been running off 4 hours sleep a night sort of thing for this week. Because I’ve got a sick kid and I’m like, “Oh! I just can’t do this anymore!” I can’t work. I struggle to focus. So, yeah, it’s really, really exciting.

Thanks for coming on. Thanks for telling me the story. This is a product I am pretty passionate about because it deals with such an intense issue that I have in my family and I hope that by creating this, some people will find it as well and will realise that there’s a solution to their problem. Where can people go to check you out and to find out any information that you guys have, whether it be your product or your educational stuff on night terrors?

Varun: They can go to lullysleep.com. We have a ton of information about the product. We’re constantly creating more and more content about night terrors as well. Hopefully, we’ll be the go-to resource for education on night terrors soon.

Ryan: Yeah. I hope so, too. I hope there’s a lot of parents out there who can find a solution. Because we don’t want them to have to deal with that.

Alright. Thanks, Varun. I really appreciate you coming on and I wish you the best with your company and fixing sleep deprivation for parents.

Varun: Thanks again and it was my pleasure sharing the story. It’s always really exciting to hear from parents and users of the product. So, really appreciate you reaching out as well.

Ryan: I hope you enjoyed that interview, guys. If you have kids with night terrors or if you want to check out Lully at all, go to lullysleep.com, L-U-L-L-Y sleep.com and you can check it out.

Just so you know, they currently only ship the product to the US. And this was something that I had a problem with. They couldn’t ship it out to Australia because I think they weren’t sure about the compliance and stuff like that. So, to get around this issue, what I did was I setup an account with I think it’s myus.com. Let me just go ahead and check that, myus.com. But basically, this is a US company that receives shipments on your behalf and then forwards it on to you.

So, obviously, there’s a bit of an extra cost there in order to get it shipped out to you. But you can purchase the Lully, MyUS gives you an address, you can give them the address, get it shipped out to you and you can then get myus.com to forward it on to you.

I think, also Lully is now available on amazon.com. Just going to check it for you. Let me just check for you. It’s called Lully Sleep Guardian – Proven to Stop Night Terrors. It’s on amazon.com for $129 at the moment.

I think I paid $169 plus all the postage, it ended up being over $200 Australian for it. But it was absolutely worth it for me and I totally recommend it if anyone has children who have night terrors. Absolutely, 100% works. I hope that you go ahead, check it out. And if you need it, go ahead and buy it. And if you don’t need it, I hope that you enjoyed this episode nonetheless to learn about someone else’s journey and how they came up with this idea.

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#42 Manufactured Deadlines

iniartworksmallPretty cruisy day today, not because I don’t have any work to do but because I don’t have any deadlines. All the deadlines I have I manufacture for myself.

Hey guys! Ryan here from Instructions Not Included and back to work today, on a Monday.

It has actually been a very cruisy day for me not because I have not done any work but just because I do not have any deadlines at the moment. Most deadlines that I have I manufacture for myself like I presold my course and had delivery dates for those so every week I knew I need to deliver 2 new videos this week for that course and so I had that.

And so the only manufactured deadlines I have at the moment is delivering my next course in a month’s time, on the 15th of October and then I have another deadline for my third course on the 15th of November. And so what I did was I sent out an email of Friday saying to everyone, “Look, final videos for your course on How To Find Positive Cash Flow Properties are out.

Go and check them out and here is a special offer as well for the next 2 courses.” And so I gave them 50% off the next course and actually 75% off the following course just because it is going to be so long between when they pay for it and when it comes out.

I just want to reward them and give them that discount. Of the 18 or 19 people that have signed up for my first course, 2 of those people purchased the next 2 courses and they both actually signed up for both the next 2 courses. It is good to see – yes it is not a massive portion, 50% of people coming across, but it is good to see there are people that enjoy my first course enough not just to buy the next one but to buy the next 2 and that shows me that I am not just filling a need in my course that someone is like, “Okay, I want to find positive cash flow properties. That is it. So enlist Ryan’s course to help me do that.”

But they are actually wanting to learn from me about investing in property, how to research an area, and the entire process. So to have 2 people that signed up for 2 more courses is absolutely awesome and that is another $150 in revenue for me which might have actually pushed me over my top month. So let us go and I am going to log on and check that out and see if we have actually beat our best month ever in terms of revenue for my own products.

Now I am very excited about my own products. I want to keep growing that, not so much fast about affiliate stuff. So oh yeah! So my biggest month was June with $5,817 and now for September, $5,883. So that is absolutely awesome! I am really, really stoked with that.

I was asking my mum the other day while we were driving, “What is $75,000 divided by 12?” Because my mum is a math nerd. And so she actually came back and she was right, $6,250. So if my goal is $75,000 per year that means $6,250 in revenue per month. And so what have we had? July, my revenue was very low, around $2,000. August was around $4,000. But then September, I am likely to hot that revenue target and then I have the whole year to grow.

So I guess what probably is going to happen is that first 6 months of the financial year will be slower with some bumps. This is obviously a bump this month because I did the closing down of On Property Plus and changed it to On Property Listings and upped the price so it is a bit of a bump in terms of revenue. But I am guessing it is going to be a bit slower in the first 6 months and I will continue putting out free content, continue building more courses and then get more and more sales towards the end of the financial year.

So my goal, $6,250 per month and that is what I am working towards and I think we can hit it this months. We are only $400 off hitting it this month so that is cool!

Another thing that I was I am thinking about is I want to start earning some US dollars. At the moment the Australian dollar seems to keep going down compared to the US dollar and I am just wondering with the world economy and the way that China devalued their currency, if the US currency is going to increase in value as people, I guess, pin their hopes on the US dollar as the one currency that kind-of the world relies on.

So I do wonder if the US currency will get stronger as more and more people invest in US dollars as China devalues their currency, etcetera and that is going to affect the Australian currency. And the reason that that affects me is I earn money in Australian dollars, everything from OnProperty.com.au is earning in Australian dollars but most of my expenses are actually in US dollars.

My hosting is US $100 per month. I have all of these stuff that are in US dollars and when I am paying US $100, at the moment that is more like $150 Australian dollars. And so what I would love to do is create a course for Outspoken.co or Podcast Fast and sell it in US dollars and just kind of cover my costs.

So I would love to earn enough US dollars that I could pay my virtual assistant and I could pay all of my expenses in US dollars from the US dollars that I make. In that way I am not just playing the currency game, I am just making enough in US to pay my US expenses and then I can focus on making my Australian money in order to pay for my lifestyle and pay for my wage and stuff like that.

Today I did a couple more videos for my virtual assistant just really around creating content and so now there is a complete flow for when I upload a file in Dropbox getting that all the way to getting that uploaded to YouTube, to SoundCloud, getting it on a blog post, ordering the transcriptions, all of that sort of stuff now flows all the way through. And so that is really exciting because I did not have that set up for a while and it has kind of held back my content creation.

So now that I have that system in place, it is going to encourage me to create more content and just makes it easier for me to get that content out because there is less management on my side that I have to do. And more content generally equals more money because more people drive into my site, more people learning about the products and services that I do have.

So that is where I am at today. Tomorrow, what else will I be doing tomorrow? I do not know, maybe some free videos or maybe I will work on some of the paid modules, I am not a hundred percent sure. But until next time guys, if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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#40 My Grandfather Passed Away 25th Aug 2015

My grandfather passed away and we are going to Sydney as a family. This time off is forcing me to get a lot done in a short amount of time.

Hey guys! Ryan here from Instructions Not Included. You can get all of these episodes over at ryanmclean.net and this week has been an interesting week. A bit of a sad week, my grandfather passed away on Thursday or Friday last week and so we are heading down to Sydney for the funeral this week, we are actually heading down tomorrow.

And so basically what that means for my work is that it cut my work week dramatically from 5 days to 2 days because we are heading down to Sydney on Wednesday, have the funeral on Thursday and then staying in Sydney on Friday, coming home Saturday. So spending some time with family which is very important; it is important to time with family especially when it comes to death in the family.

We need to prepare and get ready for Sydney. But one of the things that kind of threw a spin for the works for me was that I have pre-sold this course How To Find Positive Cash Flow Properties with the promise that I would deliver 2 modules each week for the next 4 weeks. So what that meant was they gave me just 2 days to create the next 2 modules rather than 5 days to working and create the modules.

So I have really been a nose-to-the-grindstone, did some work Sunday night, did a lot of work Monday. Got filming-all of the filming done for all the modules. Got module 3 up and edited and got the thumbnails done for that so module 3 is completely in the bag, done and ready for consumption. And then module 4, I have completely filmed and I just now need to edit it and upload it and then Tuesday is my last day working. So I just need to get it done today, get that up. And then I need to email out to the subscribers to say this is now available. We are not doing Friday because I am heading down to Sydney, blah, blah.

But it has really been interesting because as you may know if you listen to past episodes, my goal is to begin to work 25 hours per week. By the end of this financial year, by the 30th of June 2016, I am hoping that I would be working 25 hours a week.

That might be 5 hours per day or it may be 2 days and 10 hours and then a 5-hour day and then 2 days off and then the weekend or something like that. I kind of got that flexibility there but I really want to get into other activities, spend more time with my kids, spend more time at the beach, go surfing more or that sort of stuff. But this is kind of been good to say I only have 2 days this week, what is the most important stuff to get done and then just hammer it out. So go to work, work hard, get it all done and hammer it out.

So I think it has shown me that I can definitely work 5 hours per week and I probably could get as much done I think in 5 hours a day as I am getting done in 8 or 9 hours per day just because I will be so much more focused when I am working, less dillydallying, less poking around just doing random stuff, watching YouTube videos. Let us get to the point, what is my biggest impact activities, let us get those done and let us move on with our lives.

I guess sad week but then also a good challenge to try and get this work done in just 2 days and to see if my goal of 25 hours per week is actually achievable which I think it definitely is. So yeah, that is kind of where I am at. We will deliver those modules. This is going to be a really good course. I am really excited about this. I think the value is there to sell this for $100. I think it is going to be a good course.

I think it is going to sell continuously and it is going to sell in a not-heaps-of-copies, maybe one or so a month or a couple of months or something like that but it is a good course and is something that I will be proud to recommend that people purchase and something that I think will really help people do exactly what it says which is find positive cash flow properties all over Australia.

So I am excited to get this first course out. We will see how it will go and then I will be looking to launch a second course and probably do the same sort of thing, pre-sell it and implement it over a 4-week period, and then put it up for sale for real. And the next time will probably on how to research an area. That would be cool and yeah, I will just enjoy in building up all of these courses.

Alright, that is it for me guys. Until next time, if you want instructions go and buy some furniture.

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What Do You Really Do?

I am willing to bet that the answer you give at parties to the question “what do you do” is actually completely different to what you actually do to be successful in your job.

My answer: “I’m a pharmaceutical rep. I sell drugs to pharmacies…you could say I am a legalized drug dealer. ”

What I really do: What I really do is more like what they do in the movie Inception than sales. I spend the majority of my day using my words to open the minds of really smart people. I make people see that they can and will achieve more. I get them to believe what was previously impossible is now possible, and that they can do it too.

It just happens that by doing that it generates more sales for my company and more success for my customers.

What do you really do?

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Getting The Job Done

Leaving home over 2 hours earlier in the morning to see a client far away. First business meeting at 7:30am the next day with a dinner a 6:00pm. It is all about doing what is necessary to get the job done.

However, I believe it is important to mix getting the job done with a balance. Ensure that despite long hours you find dedicated time for your family and have days that just aren’t as hectic.

If life gets out of balance (which it often does) you can’t get ahead by working more hours. If your marriage falls apart or your family don’t know you then your work will suffer and no one wins.

Getting the job done isn’t about working harder always. It’s about sprinting when you need to and maintaining the balance so you can continue to deliver good work week in and week out.

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The Art of Meaningful Work

You are a child of God. Your playing small does NOT serve the world

For me this quote conjures up images of my two children and it reminds me to do more and be the best I can be.

Art used to be paintings and poetry, but now art comes in many forms. Writing, speaking, singing, leading, teaching, working.

Doing meaningful work is a way my way of creating art.

How can I say that thing in a different way so my customer understands me better? How can I change that inflection to create motivation and drive? How can I come at a problem from a different angle or with a different thought process to get a better result?

These questions are what I consider meaningful work. Driving results and creating better interactions and a better world.

The day I decide that what I have is good enough for me is the day I need this quote plastered over my office car with images of my children.

The challenge keeps things fun, and I love work when it is fun. I love my work when I feel it is meaningful. I am an artist…I just don’t know how to use a paintbrush.

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