Taking any challenge

Sometimes it seems like some of the things that we are involved in will never succeed. That some of the ambitions we have are unobtainable. Some of our dreams just too far away. Some people shy away from projects where there isn’t a high chance of success. Most people are just not interested in trying to do something to help something, which may seem like it is failing.

When I look at challenges I don’t just look for ones that are going to succeed, I look for things that are important to me and things that I can help. Even if the project doesn’t succeed, if I can say that I played a measurable part in getting it closer than anyone thought we would to succeeding, then that is good enough for me and I will sleep well in the knowledge that I got it closer to succeeding than anyone thought it would.

Are you too scared of failure?

We live in a world where people are too scared of failure. Failure doesn’t define you and doesn’t stay with you if you don’t let it. As long as you learn with every failure and can say that you put your all in to it, then you have not failed. Don’t let the chance of failure stop you from putting your hardest effort in either. If people think a project is going to fail they start to think it doesn’t matter if they don try hard but that is a mindset which is not going to get you where you want to be in life.

Offer what you have

Don’t get involved with projects you can’t offer anything to. Don’t just go in to a projectand feel good because of the work of others. If you are going to get in to a project make sure you can contribute to it and give it your all. If time is all you can offer, then offer it abundance. Being able to spin it on your CV that you played a critical role in a successful project may get you an interview but if that is a lie and you can’t back it up, then you will soon be found out.

Regardless of what the project is and regardless of whether people know it or not, I want to go home everyday knowing that I made a tangible difference and that it mattered that I gave up my time to do something for it.

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When a plan comes together

As regular readers will know, over the last year I have been very busy working on my book project. First it started with me releasing an EBook, then I did a Crowdfunder to raise money to make it available in print, which raised more than my goal and since then I have been working on getting it in to production and available across the globe. The book is titled “Unbreakable Bond” and is about my story of caring for my mum who had early onset dementia.

Hard at work

Since the moment the funds came in I have been hard at work transforming the Ebook in to a print book, which has been no easy task. I could have gone the easy route and used an off the shelf self-publishing company like I have with previous projects but for this one I really wanted to push the boundaries.

For this book I have done everything myself. I purchased the ISBN directly through Nielsen, I set up my own publishing company called TeamSibley Publishing, I enlisted the help of a professional to proofread the book, a professional graphic designer to do the cover and used an accredited template supplier to work on the formatting.

Paperwork

This has only been the start though as whilst doing this I have also had to find a company to print the book (Lightning Source), file all tax exemption forms in various parts of the world, set discount rates for retailers and now I am looking in to distribution channels for the book.

The reason I am pushing on all these levels is in the hope to one day see my book in book shops up and down the country, which wouldn’t have even been a possibility if I had self published in any other way. Retailers are very picky when it comes to stocking self-published titles so to give myself even a shot I had to be very careful and put in this hard work up front.

Stress

When you are new to all this and are trying to do it all whilst raising a family and a full time job, it gets rather tricky. It has involved many phone calls and emails, it has involved a lot of stress and it took longer than what I thought it would but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully by the end of next week I will have received my proof copy of the book and if that is approved then October should see it released worldwide, which I am very excited about.

It has been a two year journey to where we are today but I am so glad I didn’t give up and that I have something that I am immensely proud to show for it.

Projects

All of my adult life, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t have a project on the go. I am one of these people that likes to fill my time with things, likes to experiment and likes to achieve more than I already have. A project can be anything from creating a piece of art to re-organising the running of your house.

Pressure

The current big project I have on at the moment is to get my book ready for publishing and to get it published by mid September. After releasing “Unbreakable Bond” in EBook form, I then successfully crowdfunded the costs of making it available in print, both of these were big projects in themselves. Now however, because so many people have so kindly given to get the book to print, the pressure is on to make it happen, as it is something that has to happen.

Getting a book published is not an easy task. There are many moving parts to this project and I have to keep on top of them all if I am to hit the deadline. Before I can even get in to the admin side of getting it to print, I have to get the book proofread and formatted by professionals and I need to work with a graphic designer to get the book cover completed.

Putting the hard work in

I want to one day get my book in to bookstores like Waterstones, this means however that I can’t just go through a one stop online shop, that register an ISBN for you and handle the printing and distribution. For my book to have the possibility of one day getting in to bookstores, I have to register the ISBN myself, get my book printed by a company in the UK and get a contract signed with a distribution company that has routes in to traditional bookstores. I am determined to get my book in to bookstores, so it means that I have to work a lot harder than if I was just happy with it being available online, that I could do in 5 minutes and is something anyone can do these days.

Stressful

Projects can be stressful and can take over your life at times, so you need to be careful with them. Mot projects you will do in your spare time, you won’t be paid for them and most will cost you money, so you need to be careful not to get too carried away. It is important that you don’t let a project interfere with your work, your finances and your family life.

You only get out of a project what you put in to it. For me personally I would rather try really hard at something and get something out of it that I am proud of, rather than just spending some time on something, not really trying hard and not being too impressed by the outcome. The key thing when doing a project is knowing what you want to get out of it. Once you have finished a project its then time to look at if you got what you wanted out of it and look at what project you want to do next.

Not every project I do is successful, but I don’t think I have ever had a project that I didn’t learn something from.

Raising Money

As many of you know I am currently running a Crowdfunder campaign to crowdfund the print version of my book ‘Unbreakable Bond.’ You can find out more about it and donate to the cause by going here:

http://www.gofundme.com/unbreakablebond

Through this experience it has shown me how the internet has helped so many people with good causes and ideas raise money, that they wouldn’t have been able to do 10 years ago. Securing funding for projects used to be about filling out funding application forms, pitching ideas to panels of investors and standing behind a stall in a street or at an event. Now in the space of five minutes you can set up a crowdfunder page for free, where people can donate online and the money gets dropped straight to your account.

As easy as online shopping

There are lots of people out there who have money, who are generous and who are willing to give. People are becoming more aware of crowdfunding everyday and everyday it is being seen as a normal and successful way of raising money, with more people donating to crowdfunder campaigns. The other beauty of crowdfunder sites is that it is as easy to donate money to something as it is to buy something off Amazon, so there is nothing putting people off. With more and more people shopping online, more and more people will give to crowdfunder campaigns.

Media, Social Media and YouTube have made it so easy now to let people know about your project and to encourage people to support it. On social media I think people share statuses and links a lot more with other people now, so by putting something online it can quickly be spread and be seen by 1000s of people who you don’t know or will never meet. I have had so many people donate to my crowdfunder that I have never met, which I think is amazing. It touches me when my story touches people that have never met me and they feel so supportive of the project that they feel led to give. This is when crowdfunding is at its best, as it shouldn’t be just friend funding.

Media is a powerful tool

Regardless of what you are raising money for, media is such a powerful tool. Media has the ability to shape our opinions and can encourage us in to action. Well-worded statuses and well-created media can be the difference most of the time between people giving and not giving. Even though I passionately believe in my cause, sometimes media is that powerful that if done well it doesn’t matter what the cause is.

With social media everyone is watching and can watch what you do, so when you start a campaign like a crowdfunder, organisations like news companies, magazines, blogs etc. can pick up on your campaign as they are actively scouring the internet for stories. By this happening you can get coverage for your project and have it exposed to wider audiences.

I am so happy I got in to the crowdfunding game and I hope this project is the start of many more in the future. Crowdfunding is something which is evolving and an industry where there is lots to learn and I would love to experiment further with it.

My first adventure in to Crowdfunding

I have been a big fan of Crowdfunding for some time. I have contributed to some Crowdfunding Campaigns and have helped promote some, but never have I done one myself before and I have to say I am quite excited to have this week started my first.

The mission – to raise £600, so I can release my book ‘Unbreakable Bond’ (which is currently available in eBook form), in print. For those that don’t the story about my book, it was something I wrote as a promise to my mum before she passed away in 2013 at the age of 54, after battling early onset dementia. The book is full of my stories and experiences caring for my mum, over the years before she died.

Doing everything myself

As I am self publishing it means that I have to do everything myself from getting the ISBN to making sure the artwork for the cover, spine and back are all in the right format. I have also budgeted money for marketing and buying stock of the book.

The reason for getting it published in print form, isn’t for vanity, the reason behind it is a want to get the book in as many hands as possible. Having it available in print with an ISBN number will mean that anyone can walk in to any bookshop in the world and a order a copy. Although eBooks are becoming increasingly popular, there is still a huge market for paperback, so it is important that the book is available in that form.

Awareness

On top of just making it available in paperback, I think the marketing budget is key as I just don’t want to make it available, I want people to know that it is out there. This is why I have gone down the Crowdfunding route. I could have just released it on my own in print without an ISBN for free, somewhere that no one will find it but that to me seemed pointless.

Going down the Crowdfunding route will give those that donate to the campaign a sense of ownership of the book and the campaign in itself will act as a marketing drive, for when the book finally does become available in print. I think my book is an interesting Crowdfunding proposition as it ticks so many boxes. The book isn’t just a book it’s a cause; it is something I have created to make a positive impact in the world. Writing is art and a book is art, so it is a creative project and I am trying to do something new and get a project off the ground, which are all things that to me Crowdfunding is about.

Ownership

I have been involved in charities for many years and have done many fundraising activities and events. It just feels great now to be able to do a fundraising campaign for my own project as I feel so much ownership of it.

I hope this blog has inspired you in some way and I would really appreciate it if you had the time or money to donate to the cause or help me promote it by sharing the link:

http://www.gofundme.com/unbreakablebond

Keep it Simple

There are many of us out there (me included) that would love to impact and change the world. There are people with big goals and lots of things they would like to achieve or change about the world in which we live. The problem is that a lot of these ambitions are so hard to achieve, that many people give up. My message today is – if you want to impact the world, start with something simple.

If you read my blog regularly you will remember my blog about the crowdfunding page, that was set up to help a football fan that was attacked after a game:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/dont-just-read-the-news-react-to-it/

This was a simple idea, which not only ended up providing financial support for him but also worked as a platform to unite football fans and to send messages of hope. From one goal, which was to raise money, many other things were achieved. It shows you that if you focus on one thing you can still achieve more things than you intended to.

Focus

The simpler we keep things the easier they are to achieve. If you keep your project or message simple, more people will be able to get on board and identify with it. To keep your idea simple you need to really focus on what is the one most important thing you want to achieve and think about the simplest way of achieving it.

My wife and I were at an event on the weekend and we heard a man talking about research in to Parkinson’s disease. This man was interested in gaining stats and information, so he set up a programme which records people voices through a phone app in which now thousands of people have contributed. This man was interested in vocal patterns and came up with an idea that was simple and easy for people to contribute to. People were willing to give of their time to record their voices as it was a simple exercise, wasn’t time consuming and could be done from anywhere in the world.

Action

I think before you start setting up groups, charities, NGO’s and not for profit companies, it is important to put a simple project in to action first and see how it goes. The project and what you want to achieve from it should be the focus, your time at the beginning of an idea should be to test it if it works or can have an impact, before you get caught up in paper work, committees and legalities.

I would much rather do one thing amazingly well, than doing good at a lot of things. I think if you focus on one thing you increase your chances of making a difference in this world. It is important to stick to what you care about and not get sidetracked from that path, the more you get sidetracked in to other things the less likely you are to achieve your goal.

Investing

Investing time at the beginning to really think your ideas through is key. If you can invest time to make your ideas as simple as possible, you start on the right foot. From then on it is up to you to make sure you keep to your plans and always keep things simple, this will save you from being overwhelmed, giving up or taking longer to achieve what you want to achieve.

30-Minute Burst Challenge

Last week I blogged about getting out in the garden and doing some gardening because of the lovely weather we are experiencing, here in the south west of England:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/the-sun-is-here/

Our back garden is quite big and in the back we have two areas that need a lot of love, the front garden is small, but again there are two flower beds that really need some attention. Since my last blog about gardening my wife and I have been out in the gardens keeping up the commitment, in the hope to see them one day looking good and becoming easy to manage.

I tend to go out in the garden and work in 30-minute bursts. I do this because I am a believer in quality over quantity. I believe working at things in this fashion is the best way and is how I attack many projects in life.

If I go out and spend 2 hours in the garden, many things will happen. The first thing is – I will get tired. When you get tired that normally leads to many things happening, like putting less effort in, liking the job less and being much less likely to want to go out and do more tomorrow. With working in 30-minute bursts I don’t get bored, I don’t get tired and at the end I always want to do more.

I would much rather keep hold of that feeling of wanting to do more when I come in over that of wishing I had stopped earlier. I think you will get more done in 4 30-minute bursts than you would in a 2-hour session. If you are going to put the hard work in, you should want to get the maximum reward for it.

Another thing I do is I don’t set myself targets of what I want to achieve when it comes to gardening. I think if you set yourself goals and you’re like me, you will want to achieve them and by doing this you end up rushing and not doing a thorough job. Sometimes (especially with weeding at the moment) jobs take you longer than you expected and if you set yourself a goal you would either be disheartened that you didn’t achieve it, or annoyed with yourself that you didn’t do a thorough job.

I haven’t set myself an end date for when I want the garden complete, but I know I am going to keep working at it until that day comes, because of the manageable system my wife and I have. By doing 30-minutes a day I don’t resent it, it doesn’t tire me out and I can fit it in to most evenings, without affecting anything else we have planned to do.

I would encourage everyone to take up the 30-minute burst challenge and see how it helps you to achieve something that you have been trying to achieve this year.