Salim Ismail‎ – Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)

Salim Ismail‎ – Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) is the first of 3 books I’ve read recently, all stemming from Singularity University, and was full of big thinking around what exponential organisations are and case studies of how some were formed, how they scaled and problems that they went on to solve.

I don’t have an MBA in business, I’m a computer nerd who’s worked with successful startups and large enterprise companies, so I still have a lot to learn and this book filled a few gaps with solid explanations. e.g. obviously I’ve been exposed to the waterfall model of software development (since 1997..) but wasn’t aware of the formal New Product Development process, or NPD, which includes the following steps:

  1. Idea generation
  2. Idea screening
  3. Concept development and testing
  4. Business analysis
  5. Beta and market testing
  6. Technical implementation
  7. Commercialisation
  8. New product pricing

Whilst basically being the waterfall approach I learned a long time ago, it’s nice to experience formalised positive reinforcement and see it written down and discussed in an interesting manner.

Entrepreneurial success rarely comes from the idea. Instead, it comes from the founding team’s never-say-due attitude and relentless execution. Those who really want something will find options.

One of the biggest takeaways from the book covered something I’ve always been curious about for a while, how to build business models around products that are given away for free. I registered November 2005 and every time I had to use the Internet to solve a work related problem, I blogged about it. Over the years I engaged with other Linux bloggers and we all faced a similar problem, how to monetise a blog based around freely available information? Everyone in the industry who is good is self taught based on other people’s blogs and white papers, you don’t generally want to hire someone with an RHCE.. This book covers how to build an exponential organisation around free information.

  1. Immediacy: Immediacy is the reason people order in advance on Amazon or attend the theatre on opening night. Being the first to know about or experience something has intrinsic cultural, social and even commercial value. In short: time confers privilege.
  2. Personalisation: Having a product or service customised just for you not only gives added value in terms of quality of experience and ease-of-use or functionality, it also creates “stickiness”, as both parties are invested in the process.
  3. Interpretation: Even if the product or service is free, there is still considerable added value to any service that can help shorten the learning curve to using it.
  4. Authenticity: Added value comes from a guarantee that the product or service is real and safe.
  5. Accessibility: Ownership requires management and maintenance. In an era where we own hundreds of apps on several platforms, any service that helps us organise everything and improve our ability to find what we need quickly is of particular value.
  6. Embodiment: Digital information has no “body”, no physical form, until we give it one – high definition, 3D, a movie screen, a smartphone. In 1997 I paid for RedHat CDs even though it was free to download as it was more convenient than my 33.6kbps modem 😉
  7. Patronage: Some fans want to pay and will if given an easy way to do so and the amount is reasonable. I personally will buy limited edition vinyl of an album if I love it, despite services like Youtube or Spotify offering virtual, and often cheaper, alternatives.
  8. Findability: Creative works have no value if no one can access them, so putting yourself out there on effective channels and digital platforms so your great content can be found has considerable value in itself. Some of the amazing photographers in Asia who just use Facebook for marketing need to understand this as it took me 9 months to find them and that was only through word of mouth.

I find blogging about books I have read helps the reflection and understanding, and if I could sit here listing all the takeaways I got from Exponential Organizations I’d just end up writing another book.

The Science Of Amazon Ranking Graphs And Why They Are Important

A few people have recently mentioned to me that they don’t understand the usefulness of tools like Amazooka or AMZ Tracker for tracking their products, after all tracking a products BSR or rankings for a particular keyword doesn’t lead to more sales, so I’m going to describe how I use them and why I find them to be important for my business.

Really I should have written this 3 months ago as a lot of people have also been asking about sales drops the last few months due to being in Q3. If these same people had graphs of their BSR and keyword rankings, and knew how to read them, they wouldn’t be asking these questions.

Amazon KPIs

Out of the many Amazon Key Performance Indicators, two that are most important and easiest to track are:

  • Amazon Product’s Best Seller Ranking, or BSR. The ranking of your product in a specific amazon category, e.g. Health & Beauty.
  • Amazon Keyword Ranking. The ranking of your product for a specific search keyword on Amazon

The Science Of Amazon Ranking Graphs And Why They Are Important 1

For some organisations, the process of measuring data can be a complete waste of time, measuring data and KPIs for the sake of it, without using the measurements to reach strategic goals. When used correctly however, KPIs become an important part of a company’s strategy. For the small business owner, measuring the right KPIs, understanding the data and then creating actionable items from the data can elevate a company above the competition.

I’m going to take one of my products as an example and discuss it’s BSR history and it’s keyword history as well as what the graphs tell us about it’s sales performance.

Amazon BSR Graph

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This is the Best Seller Rank graph for one of my products, since it’s launch, you can see a very jumpy first few months during the product launch, followed by an ascent towards March then followed by a slow descent. By looking at this graph, at this scale, with this one single graph, all you can really deduce is that the product had growth until March then the rankings started to slow down after March.

Amazon Keyword Graphs

Keyword Alpha

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This keyword is the main product keyword, the heavy weight. It is the one people are most likely to search for and is the most competitive. For this product there is a lot of entrenched competition.

Keyword Bravo

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This is one of our slightly longer tail keywords, it has less searches and less competition but is still product relevant.

Keyword Charlie

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This is our long tail that keeps us where we are, we identified it during the product research phase, new that it applies specifically to our product and that there was room for us in the market then went all out to target it.

Understanding Amazon KPIs

Right, so we’ve been graphing our BSRs and our keywords and Amazon already does unit and sales KPI reporting for us, now it’s time to tie it all together to understand what is happening in our business.

1) Product Plateau

  • Sales: No change
  • BSR: No change
  • Keyword: No change

This is the easiest case to look at, your sales are constant, your BSR is constant and your keywords is constant. In short, nothing is happening dealing with your product. Some might consider this acceptable but there is a business philosophy you might want to consider

If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

So you might want to have a look at seeing if you can grow the product now rather than worry about clawing it back later.

2) Product Category Slump

  • Sales: Sales are slowing
  • BSR: No change
  • Keyword: No change

If your sales are slowing but your BSR is constant and your keywords are constant then this will be due to a variation in your product category. Simply, for whatever reason, people are buying less products in your category so it’s not that different really to the product plateau case. This is a perfect example for what happens during Q3, which is the slowest time for commerce, so if sales are down but your products meet these KPI criteria, it’s not too much to worry about, but try to focus on growing it some how.

3) Product Niche Slump

  • Sales: Sales are slowing
  • BSR: BSR is dropping
  • Keyword: No change

If your sales are slowing and your BSR is dropping but your keyword rankings have no change, then this means there is a variation in your product niche. Perhaps you are selling Christmas hats during the summer, even if you’re ranked #1 for all your keywords you’re still going to make less sales than you would on the run up to Christmas.

4) Product Slump

  • Sales: Sales are slowing
  • BSR: BSR is dropping
  • Keyword: Keyword is dropping

IF your sales are slowing and your BSR is dropping make sure to check all your keyword graphs because if it isn’t a seasonal or niche slump then it might be because your product is losing keyword rankings which is effecting your BSR and sales volume. This could be your rankings for just one keyword has changed or it could be your rankings for several keywords.

5) Product Category Boost

  • Sales: Sales are increasing
  • BSR: No change
  • Keyword: No change

When sales are increasing but there is no change in your Amazon BSR or keyword rankings then the opposite of #2 is happening, sales in your product category are picking up and taking you along for the ride.

6) Product Niche Boost

  • Sales: Sales are increasing
  • BSR: BSR is increasing
  • Keyword: No change

When sales are increasing and your BSR is increasing but there is no change in your keyword rankings then the opposite of #3 is happening. Sales for your particular niche are picking up again.

7) Product Boost

  • Sales: Sales are increasing
  • BSR: BSR is increasing
  • Keyword: Keyword is increasing

When sales are increasing and your BSR is increasing you again also want to check your keyword rankings as if one or more keyword ranking is increasing that could also be driving more sales for you, again this is the opposite of #4. It could be a single keyword or all of them.

Keyword Observations

Changes In One Keyword

If just one of your keyword rankings is changing, it is more than likely something in your copy has changed that is fundamental to that keyword. It could be a search term has been added or removed.

Changes Across All Keywords

If the majority, or all, of your keywords are seeing change than it is more than likely an issue relating to the conversion rate of your product page. With out going in to too much detail, this could be due to a change in your title, images, review average, number of reviews, quality of the latest reviews or copy.

Graph Observations

So with these case studies in mind I’m going to reflect on several events relating to my product and what the graphs tell us.

July 2015 – August 2015

  • BSR: BSR is all over the place
  • Keyword Alpha: Massive ranking improvement
  • Keyword Bravo: Massive ranking improvement
  • Keyword Charlie: Massive ranking improvement

July to August was the initial product launch so the BSR was all over the place. Keywords Alpha and Bravo were jumpy then found there place whilst our long tail, Charlie, came straight in at 4th due to a properly optimised sales page then move us to 2nd place. This is my launch and product strategy in a nut shell, get a product to rank for a long tail that makes sales, leverage the position over time to grow rankings for other, harder keywords. This is a classic case of #7, a product boost.

September 2015

  • BSR: BSR is dropping
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings are dropping

September we had a ‘good problem to have’, we ran out of inventory so sales slowed whilst we got everything back together, as such all our rankings dropped. This is a classic case of #4, a product slump.

October 2015 – November 2015

  • BSR: BSR is increasing
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings plateau
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are increasing
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings plateau

October to November was great, We saw steady BSR growth whilst keyword Alpha and keyword Charlie plateaued. We can see keyword Bravo steadily increase driving that growth however. This is another case of #7, a product boost, but driven by a single keyword, Charlie.

December 2016 – March 2016

  • BSR: BSR is increasing
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings are increasing
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are increasing
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings plateauing

December to March was great, everything showed growth, our BSR and our keyword rankings, we made the big time, this is another case of #7 product boost but was driven by all our keywords. You can see the knock on effect take place, our long tail Charlie helped us grow so we could start ranking for the shorter tail Bravo which then got us on to the first page for our actual target keyword Alpha. It has to be said, Charlie was plateauing because we were already at the top, there wasn’t really anywhere for that keyword to grow!

March 2016 – June 2016

  • BSR: BSR is dropping
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings plateau

One of the problems with success is Amazon start to take notice and after our period of growth March came and with it so did our page 1 ranking, then from March to June we entered a period of slow decline, so what happened? The first 2 pages or so of most product categories contain very boring product titles Brand Name – Product Name. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about Amazon using short product names as a ranking factor due to this observation to the point of fact some experts recommend going with short titles due to this observation bias. The truth of the matter is the opposite. Amazon have a product listings clean up crew!

I had a slightly longer title that included more description as well as some benefits to our product, Amazon nerfed it in favour of Brand Name – Product Name to make the search indexes more pleasant. This did three things

  • Kill click throughs
  • Kill sales
  • Kill rankings

There are some fundamental problems with what Amazon did to our listing, e.g. consider the effect of the Amazon sales team renaming Acme – Wooden Baby Spoon to Acme – Spoon. Now people searching for a spoon for their baby, or a wooden spoon, or a wooden spoon for their baby, won’t choose our product, but this isn’t the time to go in to the ramifications of that.

In short, due to the title change, our clickthrough rate decreased which caused the product to lose sales and keyword rankings. A classic case of #4, product slump. Our keyword Charlie is still holding on strong.

June 2016 – July 2016

  • BSR: BSR is dropping
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are dropping
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings plateau

The big difference between June/July and the previous period stems from just one keyword, keyword Bravo. Because of the title change it removed a descriptive word directly relating to this keyword and we are seeing the ramifications of that clearly now. The solution to this problem is to try and get that keyword back in to the title or in the page to help increase rankings for it. This is the first obvious action item that the graphs have given us. We need to get our rankings back for keyword Bravo asap!

August 2016

  • BSR: BSR is dropping fast
  • Keyword Alpha: Rankings are dropping fast
  • Keyword Bravo: Rankings are dropping fast
  • Keyword Charlie: Rankings plateau

August has been interesting, we still haven’t got keyword Bravo back in yet but we did get something else going on. I’ve been trying for 2 years to join the Amazon subscribe & Save program under the assumption that the subscriptions will drive more sales and I’ll make more money! The truth of the matter is that it’s killed our conversion rate so our BSR and keywords Alpha and Bravo are plummeting faster than ever whilst we are seeing sales decline and no subscriptions occur.

My first action task after this is to get rid of Subscribe & Save.


Whilst tracking Amazon BSR and keyword positions for your products won’t in themselves lead to more sales, they are very important KPIs to monitor and shouldn’t be ignored as they can let you fully understand what is happening with your business and empower you to make intelligent decisions accordingly.

Whilst most people are already using tools like Amazooka or AMZ Tracker for their product giveaways, the importance of tracking KPIs is often understated as they don’t in themselves have an obvious ROI whilst an auto responder or a product giveaway has an obvious and visible impact on your bottom line.

From observing my graphs I am now going to turn things round by improving my keyword rankings for Bravo and removing Subscribe & Save to improve my on page conversion rate.

Robert B Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Anyone doing any kind of marketing should read this book, period. Covering 6 key principles of influence, Robert Cialdini is a committed genius who not only uses scientific case studies to back up the principles he describes, but also real world experience, having ‘gone under cover’ working in restaurants, etc. to observe influence in action! Not only do you see how the principles play out but Robert goes in to detail about how your mindset can help you not fall for them when used as a marketing tactic.

  • Reciprocity – People tend to return a favor, thus the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. The good cop/bad cop strategy is also based on this principle.
  • Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self-image. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. Cialdini notes Chinese brainwashing on American prisoners of war to rewrite their self-image and gain automatic unenforced compliance. See cognitive dissonance.
  • Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  • Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  • Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
  • Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

Peter Thiel – Zero To One

Zero To One is a great book that pulls no punches, the basic premise of it is, when creating a startup, to really make a difference:

  • Be first
  • Be 10 times better than the competition

Obviously it’s up to you what you do, some business models are just about scratching some of the existing market rather than creating a new one and that’s fine, but this definitely echoes a recent project I was late to market for, which definitely wasn’t first and was only objectively 3-4 times better than the competition 😉

It was a fun read and a great way of thinking about things, I definitely recommend this for anyone entrepreneurial!

Hong Kong – The Worst Of 80s London

Hong Kong - The Worst Of 80s London 1

I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t drink, or because I stayed in the completely wrong area of Hong Kong, but my week here was not as fun as I had expected and super expensive. A lot of my friends completely love Hong Kong, I’ve friends that were born and raised here then moved to the UK, friends from the UK that moved out to Hong Kong to live for a few years and then I know other nomads that love travelling here. So there must be something about it that’s awesome. I was hoping for a super fun, sexy, James Bond Bottoms Up club vibe, but what I found was basically a super corporate, concrete city reminiscent of 80s London with the price tag twice that of 21st Century London!

Kowloon Park

One (two really..) of the awesome things about Hong Kong is the parks, it’s super cool to be walking around a beautiful woodland scene to see massive skyscrapers poking out from behind the trees, a hybrid of metropolitan city life and artificial countryside. There’s also lots of interesting things to find, like the teapot museum and a massive aviary that was definitely modelled after Jurassic Park 3’s Pterodactyl pen!

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park has a kick ass Olympic village thing in it, as well as more plants and wildlife, and of course more skyscrapers to see!

Hong Kong’s Dirty Little Secret

Most people in Hong Kong seem to have live in nannys that work Sunday evening through to Sunday morning, living in their employees home, this work force is mainly formed of Filipino and Indonesian girls making about $300 a month. On Sunday’s they have nothing to do and no where to go, so they take to the streets to chill out, eat and have fun during their time off, as such a lot of Hong Kong’s roads close down to accommodate them whilst they practice modelling, learn dance routines or play on their phones. They seem quite happy, and arguably are doing better than my friends back in the UK, the girl I met saved pretty much her entire pay check, which was posted back home to Indonesia. I don’t know many people in the UK saving $300 a month, most are juggling debt.

Hong Kong Harbour

Hong Kong’s biggest feature is it’s harbour, which is pretty awesome! There are old school Junks taking tourist trips around it, really cheap ferries that will take you from one side to the other and light shows across all the buildings!

Man Mo Temple

Because no trip to any country is complete with out a trip to a place of worship, I visited the Man Mo Temple! It was pretty cool, full of lots of smoke and incense with a great vibe.

Food In Hong Kong

I made a huge mistake over January, which was to do a bulking cycle at the gym, this meant I got to eat lots of meat in Hong Kong, which was great, but put on a bit of weight I’m now back to cutting. After this last 6 months of weight lifting I’ve now learned as a type 2 diabetic I should never bulk, I should recomp or cut until I’m shredded. Bulking isn’t good for my health!

Singapore – Grab Taxi Or Die

Singapore - Grab Taxi Or Die 1

Just before Christmas I needed to leave Thailand on a visa run as I’d done my 30 day VOA + Extension so after much humming and harring, as I didn’t really want to leave, the day before I booked a weekend in Singapore! It was pretty awesome.

The first thing I noticed though, getting a taxi was impossible. Very few taxi ranks and even when there were, the taxis came and immediately picked up someone who used Grab Taxi, then departed. This actually resulted in quite a few heated arguments between people in the taxi queues and the Grab Taxi users! Fortunately I’m smart and worked it out! Unfortunately I cheaped out and bought a data only SIM card on arrival so couldn’t activate Grab Taxi as I didn’t have an actual Singapore number. Idiot.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum was undoubtedly the highlight of Singapore. There’s always something interesting about visiting old places of worship, especially ones still in use. The air of reverence they carry is intriguing.

Full of incense and awesome statues, it spanned several floors including one with the Buddha Tooth relic.


Chinatown was suitably awesome. Even more so because I accidentally left my iPhone 6s+ on the table at a street restaurant and when I went back to get it, 30 minutes later, the waiter had rescued it for me!

Clarke Quay

I know, that shirt, awesome isn’t it! Clarke Quay was nice, I like walking so got to walk along the river and around the harbour.

Gardens By The Bay

The Gardens By The Bay was amazeballs. But we went there too late at night so all the inside stuff was closed, leaving us just the outdoor stuff. Which was still amazing. I want to go back next Christmas because I didn’t see any otters!!

Orchard Road

Orchard Road is the shopping street, so I decided to get myself a Playstation 4 as it’s a bit more traveller friendly than the XBox One. The Christmas lights were a lot of fun and the food was epic. Singapore is expensive but it’s a fun weekend getaway!

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Set Up Your Hosting Account

Your hosting account is where your websites will live, so before we get started with WordPress we need to get you up and running with a host!

The host I personally use is Bluehost and I will walk you creating your hosting account and then building your first WordPress site. Hold on tight for the ride.

  • Bluehost is a proven company, trusted by millions of customers, they have been around for years and are here to stay.
  • Fanatical customer service. Bluehost are located in the US and offer 24/7 support with real people, they will answer the phone to solve your problem fast.
  • You can host up to 100 WordPress sites and domains on your account!
  • As a trusted VIP partner of Bluehost, I can pass on my great rates to you.
  • Bluehost have are one of the highest performing hosts in the industry, guaranteeing your site will he available and fast!
  • Automated backups! Forget everything else, the peace of mind knowing there is a backup of your site is worth a fortune! Most hosts do not have this.

CLICK HERE to claim your free domain and signup for hosting with Bluehost, and then follow the steps below and the video! Lets start your business today, together.

Bluehost Step 1

Click here to visit Bluehost, then Click the green ‘get started now‘ button.

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Bluehost Step 2

Choose your hosting plan. I recommend the most popular ‘plus‘ plan as it means you can host unlimited websites.

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Bluehost Step 3

When you sign up to Bluehost you get a free domain for your first website, pick the domain you want to go with here! If you can’t think of one, don’t worry, just choose anything, at this stage if you don’t already have a plan just getting the experience will open up new doors to having your own online business. Now is the time to start!

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Bluehost Step 4

Account creation time, enter your name, address, choose your package information (I recommend the backup plan!) Then enter your credit card details for payment.

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Bluehost Step 5

Boom, Congratulations taking action. We’ve done it together. You now have signed up for your Bluehost hosting plan.

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Bluehost Step 6

Now choose a secure password for your Bluehost hosting account. Watch out for the rules though, it will need a lowercase letter, an uppercase letter, a number and a special character, e.g. Hunter36! (but don’t use that one, that’s mine! 😉 After you have set your password you can log in to your Bluehost account using the domain name you chose earlier as your username!

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Bluehost Step 6

Ok, this is where the magic happens. Find the ‘Install WordPress’ button like I’ve highlighted in red below and click it!

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On this page simply choose the free option, the green button that says ‘Install‘. Then choose the domain you want to install WordPress with. You’ve probably only got one domain at this stage, so that part is easy!

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Bluehost Step 7

Now we need to configure the site. Expand the advanced options tab and choose a site title, a username and a password, then wait a minute or so for WordPress to be installed.

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Bluehost Step 8

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Barcelona – The Entrepreneur House with Chris Reynolds

Barcelona - The Entrepreneur House with Chris Reynolds 21

The entire purpose of my European rail adventure was to head down to Barcelona, Spain, to live in one of Chris Reynold’s Entrepreneur Houses for 4 months, get some serious work done and get a handle on my type 2 diabetes situation.

The premise was simple, at any time 10-15 entrepreneurs were living together as a social and work collective, with regular organised dinners, social events (beach trips, running of the bulls, etc), co-working and most importantly masterminds. It was absolutely amazing to be able to drop in to a new city (and country) and be given the keys to an affordable apartment as well as an instant social circle of amazing likeminded individuals who have now become friends for life.

I’d been hearing about Chris’ Barcelona project since I arrived in Chiang Mai for Christmas. Some very successful friends of mine were talking about their plans for the summer and mentioned it so I had a chat with Chris over email and paid him remotely whilst I was still in Phuket! Chris gave me an address to meet him at and then 6 or so weeks later I turned up, bags in hand!

All of the Entrepreneur Houses were located in the green circle, an amazing, central location slap in the heart of Barcelona!
All of the Entrepreneur Houses were located in the green circle, an amazing, central location slap in the heart of Barcelona!

People came and went, Chris (the organiser), myself and one other were there the longest, some people stayed for one month, others 2, and it was fascinating to keep meeting new people, grow with them, socialise with them and help them with their very unique business problems as well as get feedback on mine.

Everyone knows I can be bought for the price of a cup of coffee and one of the highlights for me was at the very end with a sit down with a new friend for a consultation for turning their business model in to a SaaS which resulted in my amazing (but messy :D) flatmate of 4 months becoming their new CTO. (Don’t fuck it up please or I’ll look bad!!)

Some people came to slog out work, working on existing businesses or launching new ideas. Some new ideas succeeded, others failed quickly, sometimes a pivot turned a failure in to a success. Not every idea can work and not every idea can get results within a matter of days, but its amazing to see that happen from the side lines, especially when your friend has been working so hard on it.

Others came more to chill out as they’ed already built a successful business and now wanted to test out travelling whilst running it, which was great as I was able to join them for mini shopping trips and sneaky lunches whilst we chatted about love, life, business and the world.

Whilst I and a few others created a similar experience to this in Phuket, brain storming and co-working together after training, this was the first time I’ve ever done anything full on like this and I think that to maintain what I’m doing, and grow both as a person and with respect to business, I need to have an experience like this at least once a year. Fortunately I have found something similar for the moment in Bangkok but I definitely want to join up with Chris in South America at some point though maybe 2017..


Not many people understand the importance of masterminds and when I went to DNX Global I sat in a conference hall full of people who had never even heard of them. Essentially it’s a regular brain storming session with people around your business ideas and problems to get feedback and critique. I’d been doing them back in England for the past 4 years with my entrepreneur friends, all be it loosely, as we’d been operating similar businesses with similar problems. One of the great things about Chris’ Entrepreneur House experience was he did it in a more formalised way.

Each Wednesday everyone would meet together and have a meeting where something creative would be posed as a brain storm puzzle or teaser to get us in a creative mood. One time someone posed the question “You have 2 weeks to create a new business model to raise $50k, what would you do?” as I’d been pondering this very question for the past 10 years most of my answers would have landed me a few years in the Bangkok Hilton but everyone else’s answers were really awesome.

After the creative start, 2-3 of us would then spend an hour in the hot seat, doing a show and tell presentation on their business in general and the problem they need help with. Everyone would then give feedback and offer assistance.

The unexpected reason this was amazing was because everyone was coming from different backgrounds and experiences. When I’d done this kind of thing before everyone was well versed in IT to some extent, either as a business owner, a coder or a sys admin. This time we had people from the catering industry, people running contractor agencies, ecommerce wizards, the range of expertise was incredibly diverse which meant new insights to old problems could be found quite easily.

I ended up doing 3 mastermind sessions. mostly asking for critique on ideas I had for my businesses and got a lot of value out of it. My last session came across a little self absorbed as it was more about personal development rather than business and I worded the question wrong but I still got amazing feedback essentially saying I should give back in some way, so I’m now mentoring someone my Bangkok personal trainer for 1 hour each day, helping them with their online business as well as get their physical business off the ground.


In Phuket when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I was super lethargic the entire time and unable to train or go to the gym so I bought a Fitbit Surge and tried to do some walking each day. When I arrived in Barcelona I was feeling pretty good and joined a gym, only to decide I hated it. For whatever reason I wasn’t enjoying it so I broke out the Fitbit again and took to the streets.

Barcelona is one of the most amazing cities to walk around, there are tons of winding little alleyways, as well as the sea front on one side, the hills and Olympic park of Montjuïc on another and then the mountain range of Tibidabo. I started just walking around to get my 10,000 steps a day in, then started getting adventurous, exploring everywhere I could and the more I explored, the more Fitbit awards I achieved, motivating me to walk further each day. My record for Barcelona was 55,000 steps, when I decided to walk round the entire of the city (roughly) by the time I got back to my apartment I’d basically done a marathon, so I carried on walking around town until I’d hit 26.4 miles. A week later we went to Montserrat where we hit over 200 floors climbed whilst we went hiking around the mountain and monastery. Barcelona, for walking, is amazing and I became a massive Fitbit addict, adding a Charge HR to the line up!

Keto Diet

Looking at my blog you can see that I spent 2-3 weeks drinking, smoking and eating junk as I travelled from Oslo through to Barcelona. Terrible behaviour for a recently diagnosed T2 diabetic to have but it was a last hurrah. As soon as I arrived in Barcelona, I stopped drinking, stopped smoking, switched up my diet to a calorie counted ketogenic diet, booked my self in to visit an endocrinologist and came off my medication. Because Chris was doing all the organisational work and most of my income being passive I was able to invest time in to my health, which was the entire purpose of this 4 month period.

The keto diet took some getting used to and I had to supplement for the first 3 months with potassium and magnesium, else I’d feel fatigued. This is due to an electrolyte imbalance occurring due to excessive peeing. Eventually this did sort itself out and now I just eat the occasional processed sausage.

What was great about the diet was that it made my cost of living really cheap. Spinach, chicken, broccoli, minced beef and butter costs peanuts so my daily spend was tiny and there was plenty of room for variety!


On the 11th June 2015 when I met my endocrinologist, my hba1c was 6.4% or 46mmol/mol. I’d also received some liver damage due to the 2-3 weeks of drinking, my AST was 118U/L and my ALT 69U/L they should both be less than 40 and 46 respectively!

After 3 months of clean living and exercise, I’d lost all of the weight I’d put on during the rail trip going from 83kg to 76kg but then put 4kg back on after I gave up nicotine patches!! Going back to 80kg.

The next round of bloodwork was done on the 29th September 2015. My hba1c was down to 4.6% or 27mmol/mol and my AST and ALT were down to 17U/L and 13U/L respectively. My hba1c was amazing and my liver was back to perfectly healthy! Whilst I definitely wasn’t cured, I was in much better shape looking after myself properly than I had expected!


Due to the nurturing from the Entrepreneur House, over the summer my passive income projects exploded, killing it with the old affiliate stuff I was phasing out and releasing 1 new brand and 3 new physical products.

A lot of work was done on Amazooka in the 4 months I was in Barcelona, both from a development point of view and from a systems point of view, creating something genuinely unique that can expand massively, helping Amazon sellers get to grips with what they are doing! Whilst there was some drama around the marketing and unexpected launch of Amazooka, because of the way the situation was handled, I was let back in to the Dynamite Circle and built some fantastic relationships with people running other Amazon related SaaS tools, all of which inspired me to return to Thailand, moving to Bangkok, to grow Amazooka and take it to the next level. I have to say a massive thank you to everyone in the Entrepreneur House with me at that time, as with out you guys I would have cracked up completely during this!

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

It’s impossible to directly quantify how beneficial being in surrounded by so many entrepreneurs was but it is obvious that I got more value out the experience than I paid for. A few people were turned off by the price of the Entrepreneur House, saying they could live in the same location for less. The value of Chris’ Entrepreneur House isn’t the brick and mortar flat you live in and the bed you sleep in though, it’s having access to other, successful, like minded individuals. The price presents itself as a barrier to entry so you are living and working with people successful enough to afford it, people who’s behaviour, knowledge, work ethic and input to your own business will be inherently valuable. If you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, what do you think you’ll be like after spending time with 15 amazing, motivated, inspirational entrepreneurs?

You don’t get to do what you want by doing something else.

Whatever goal you’re working towards, you’ll be able to achieve it in the Entrepreneur House. I gave up a bunch of vices, lost even more weight, completely got a handle on my diabetes, and totally dominated across all 3 of my business ventures. I smashed every single goal I had set myself thoroughly and so did everyone else around me.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I’ve been wanting to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona for a while as Scarlett Johansson is dead sexy and one of my good friends back in Brighton switched me on to how awesome Woody Allen films can be. During the summer on of my friends from the UK who became a nomad, primarily based in South America, came to visit, so we decided to follow up from what I’d started in France, watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona and then visit as many places in the area that had appeared in the movie as we possibly could! It worked out quite well as it involved a lot of walking, a lot of sight seeing, we both lost weight and we also both got a lot of work done.

Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

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We bought a Barcelona Museum passport, which let us go in to all the museums at a discount price! I am not very good at museums, but I like them. Mostly I just walk around and take pictures of cool stuff. I can’t remember which one specifically was Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art but they were all pretty awesome!

Casa Milà

You can visit Casa Milà during either the day or the night. As we were in full tourist mode we opted for both, which was a shame. Whilst the day was interesting, when we went during the night we had to be part of a guided tour, which just took us through all the stuff we’d previously seen earlier that day at a snails pace. The perk of the night tour though was the lit up roof which had a 20 minute light show which was amazing.

Les Rambles

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Les Rambles was kind of cheating, as I lived next to it, so didn’t have to walk more than 10m from my flat to find it. It’s a horrible place. During the day it’s full of tourists that get in your way and during the night its full of drug dealers and prostitutes. Whilst I have nothing against drug dealers and prostitutes, they are very in your face, and most of us were in some way straight up sexually assaulted whilst walking through. I got my junk grabbed plenty of times and watched 2 fugly tranny hookers attack an old guy who refused their advances whilst walking back. There are legitimate places to go if you want that kind of thing in Spain so the last thing you want is a street walker anywhere near you. The dealers are also super persistent shouting at you, Coke, Marijuana, Beer, repeatedly. Barcelona was voted the filthiest city in Europe, so now they clean the streets with pressure hoses twice daily. After all the cities I’ve been to, and all I’ve witnessed, Barcelona is still filthy.

Parc de Montjuïc

Montjuic is a pretty cool place, theres the remains of the Barcelona Olympic Park, a huge forte, loads of hills to walk around, restaurants, cafes, parks, this was one of my favourite spots and it was only a 10 minute walk from my flat to get in to the heart of. I took great pleasure introducing my friends to it when they came for walks with me as they had no idea!

Park Güell

Park Güell was pretty awesome, but the graffiti and everything else in the area showed how much the locals hated the tourists. It was good go see more of Gaudi’s art in a different manner.

Church of San Felipe Neri

This place was bombed during one of the wars, and you can see bullet marks all over the walls. It’s also full of teenagers making out 😮

Sagrada Família

What can be said about the Sagrada Família that everyone doesn’t already know? It looks amazing, it’s taken way too long to complete but it’s getting there! It’s a mecca for tourists and rammed with people non stop. It was awesome!

Ciutadella Park


Tibidabo is an awesome place full of fun. It’s in a mountain range and you can see if from where ever you are in Barcelona because it’s so high up! As such is offers amazing views of the city. There’s a tram and a funicular to take you to the top, which was great fun (the clue is in the name!) and when you get there theres an awesome little amusement park too. I walked there from the sea front several times and did some great day trips with my friends.

Hotel Casa Fuster

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We didn’t actually go inside the Hotel, but we walked past it and it looked nice. I’m sure it’s lovely ..

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

This museum was awesome!

Els Quatre Gats

Els Quatre Gats is a nice, but slightly overrated restaurant, originally opened in 1897! The food was delicious.

Taller de Tapas

Taller de Tapas is a chain of tapas restaurants and featured at the end of the film, I think! I’m not sure if we got the right one, but we think we did! The food was pretty tasty!


I spent 4 months in the Barcelona Entrepreneur House operated by Chris Reynolds, in that time I made more amazing friends than I ever hoped to, sharing some awesome experiences with all of them, getting help and support whenever I hit a snag and hopefully helping out a few of the people I met myself. Inspired by Chris I created a Digital Nomad House project, Amazooka blew up (in a good way) my physical product business doubled in size and I got a grip on my health, with a bit of paper saying I’m just as healthy as a normal person 😀 (Oh, and I was well within budget too!)

I really can’t gush enough about how fucking awesome every day was to be completely frank about things.

Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords: How to Access 100 Million People in 10 Minutes

As a beginner to Google Adwords, who was blowing $100+ a day and making no sales (serious) this book was an eye opener.

In theory Adwords is easy, choose keywords, create advert, throw money at problem, profit, but the reality wasn’t quite like that for me. This book explained exactly why, what I was doing wrong and how to make it right.

I was expecting the Ultimate Guide To Google Adwords to be extremely dry, but instead it was full of fascinating commentary like how to crowd source the best brand name or tagline quickly, by simply by creating Adverts for each one and seeing which gets the most clicks!

As well as describing a sound strategy for creating, and maintaining PPC campaigns, interesting business takeaways such as mentioned above, the book also delves in to the pros and cons of outsourcing your advertising to 3rd parties and what to watch out for.

Whilst I haven’t resumed advertising with Google Adwords yet, I will be doing so in the immediate future and I will be using the techniques this book describes!

Paris – Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual

Paris - Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual 1

Paris is undeniably one of my most favourite cities. It’s nice.

Cinema Paradiso

As I travelled round Europe I used the app to help me find my way, which is single handedly the best app you can get for your phone, other than Google Maps and some others. One of the awesome lists of things to do for Paris was a list of places from films! This was good as it kept me very entertained, I got to do a lot of walking and I had to get to grips with the underground system which was hilariously easy. Like most underground systems, it put the London underground to shame.

Cafe Des deux Moulins - from the film amelie
Cafe Des deux Moulins – from the film amelie

Le Nemours - The Tourist
Le Nemours – The Tourist
La Tour D’Argent - Ratatouille
La Tour D’Argent – Ratatouille
The Louvre - Da Vinci Code
The Louvre – Da Vinci Code

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was pretty tall and had a tennis ball hanging from the centre, which was nice. I didn’t go up it though due to a crippling fear of heights.

The Louvre

The Louvre, as featured in the Da Vinci Code, is cool. One of my favourite things is ancient civilisations, particularly Egypt and Mesopotamia and the Louvre is totally full of stuff relating to this.

Everyone else was doing it :(
Everyone else was doing it 🙁

Food In Paris

Carbs carbs carbs carbs steak carbs. It was all good, lots of foie gras, which is definitely becoming a trend now I’m back in this region. Whether it was the real thing I’ve no idea, a lot of people advertise duck pate as fois gras nowaddays.