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The Best Content Marketing Strategy You Aren’t Using (But Really Ought to Start)

I have this perpetually procrastinated blog post always quasi prepared, loosely titled – “What to do when Google hates You”.

I just can’t really come up with the time to flesh the whole idea out in it’s entirety, so it never gets posted, which is a shame…..because one of the things I do know for sure is that Google does in fact hate me.

I don’t think it’s a personal hate per se….because I’m a pretty good guy deep down where it matters most.  But on the surface, and that’s really where Google tends to look, I’m easy to dislike.

A little bit of quick background: Continue Reading

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The Secret of the Irresistible Offer – How to Turn “FREE” into a Profitable Business Doing What You Love

If you are looking for some good ideas (and an email template you can copy and use) for creating new clients out of “thin air”, you are going to love this approach.

The steps are simple:

  • Have a high value FREE service to offer that has empirical, real world value.
  • Have a back end “THIS is what I do” value proposition to extend the offer beyond free.
  • Simply pick 10 or 12 local professionals who are in your ideal audience, or who you’ve identified as your target market, and copy and paste the basic email template I’ve included at the end of the post.

Hope you enjoy….and more importantly, that you try, apply and actually USE this approach to build your own local consulting business, starting this weekend! 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Product Launch Specialist Strategy (LAUNCHiT Local)

Do What You LOVE for a Living

Join our brand new beta marketplace of coaches,consultants, teachers, trainers, artists, authors, marketers, mentors, enlightened entrepreneurs and PASSION professionals who want to wake the WORLD through your work!




If you are NOT on my email list…..here is a short, simple but VERY powerful process for literally branding yourself as the go to person for local LAUNCHES…...for everything from realtors to lenders, to brokers, bakers and candlestick makers.

The truth is, it’s amazing how many amazing opportunities there are these days to leverage TOOLS, templates and technology to offer world class services to people of passion and purpose who really CAN use them, without having to reinvent the wheel, or be super duper smart yourself.  (everything from ROLL YOUR OWN crowdfunding campaign plugins to viral launch frameworks like the one I write about in today’s newsletter) Continue Reading

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The LAST Niche Marketing Exercise You Will Ever Have to do (Or…….How to Discover Your Life Purpose and Embrace the Privilege of Being Yourself)

I know that many people who read this blog aren’t on my email list…..so I wanted to share this simple, exciting, enlightening and exhilarating exercise for picking a niche that CAN transform your life, your focus and your sense of passion and purpose…..all in about 5 minutes.

It is….i can confidently state with 100% certainly – the only niche picking exercise you’ll ever need to do. Continue Reading

Million Dollar Authority Site Ideas

Actually…this is more like a 47 million dollar (and counting) authority site idea that picks up where AIRBNB leaves off :-)

There have been so many different unique, eclectic and hyper specific style authority sites in the last few months that have made national news….all using the basic “directory” style model we’ve covered here ad nauseum over the last year or two.  (and that many of you I know are now using to build your own brands as well)

The good news is, not only are there an absolute unending amount of ideas in this space, the tools, templates and technologies that are available, even on a bootstrap budget, is light years better than it was just a short year or two as well.

The truth is, you can build a highly functioning, beautifully designed web directory in just about any niche, market or industry under the sun…..from hyper local community sites to national niche directories, and just about anything in between…complete with full marketplace functionality, booking integration (so that the professional profiles or service professionals can actually ACCEPT clients directly from YOUR site) and do all sorts of other cool and creative things……and launch it all for under $300 bucks to boot. Continue Reading

Holding on To Our Heroes

Who are your heroes?

To say that we;ve got a screwy sense of who we look up to in this culture would be a captain obvious understatement of the most unnecessary kind.

I’m really entering that phase of life where half of the people in the news – the stars, the celebrities – the raconteurs and provocateurs who stir the social media feeding frenzy – are names I simply do not know.

Their names – their faces – are fuzzy reminders of the fact that I’m probably approaching middle age far faster than I like to admit.

But real heroes – the sort that inspire us – that humble us – that make us look deeply inside at ourselves – how we live – why we live and who we touch – thankfully, those aren’t hard to recognize, even when they’re names are new. Continue Reading

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Your Bill Gates Face

My favorite Einstein quotes are almost always the ones that it looks like he never really said.
So in the odd chance it turns out that Einstein didn’t say this – he should have.

It would have made him sound smart.

Everyone has genius in them.

Of that I’m certain.

The secret to succeeding in anything in life, actually…..at life itself, is finding out what you do better than anyone else, and simply do it as much as you can, for as long as you can, and to be paid as much as possible for doing it was well as possible.

Look, to be honest with you, I’m not even sure the “paid as much as possible” piece matters much.

But most of the folks who read my blog ain’t reading it to hear John Lennonish deas on living life with one more tree….and one less TV.

Find out what you love to do and DO BEST…… and do it.

Period.

I’ve said this a zillion times – a few times on my blog – and a billion others in my head, to myself.

I suck at most stuff.

This is true.

I have a terrible sense of direction.

I really do.  I get lost easily.

I’m not making that up.

I can’t fix anything.  I mean that – anything.

If you put me on the side of a highway with a flat tire one of those fancy  pants strobe lights and spotted me 20PSI – i still would be walking home.

This exercise – the exercise where I list the things I suck at – could go on for a while.

But I’ve got a football game to watch – and an episode of the Walking Dead to catch, so I’m going to cut this short and hope you get the point.

None of us excels at everything.

Few of us excel at most.

But all of us are geniuses when it comes to something unique to us.  Be it what is woven into the very fabric of our DNA – offered up by the Universe by some sort of cosmic karmic contract or the byproduct of pure random robotic luck – you’ve got a gift.

I don’t know what it is – because I don’t know you.

Let’s face it – we’re total strangers and it’s a bit creepy that I’m writing this, and you are reading it.

But there is something in life – that you you do better than Bill Gates.  Something that would make George Clooney shake his head in envy.

Something that Hillary Clinton would love to have in her arsenal of ambitious talents and quiver of spectacular skills.

Stop over complicating it – and simply do what comes natural.

I’ll tell you a quick story.

I was talking to a good friend the other day – brainstorming BIG ideas for changing the world and doing what you love and re-igniting the sense of passion, purpose and intense entrepreneurial enthusiasm that so many of us lose so early in life.

All of his ideas were like – what can we MAKE, create, or come up with that people need, and use everyday?

Because to hear us talk about in that frozen moment – to change the world…..you’ve got to manufacture something that touches the fingertips of those who brush up against the hard stuff of the world on their way to work – the commute – the kitchen – or the cubicle.

The truth is, I don’t have those sorts of ideas.

I’m never going to get a hug by the bald angry looking guy on Shark Tank while counting zeros on the big paper check they’re writing offstage.

That’s not my genius.

And it’s probably not yours.

But if you told me I’ve got 10 minutes to say something that makes someone think, smile, shed a tear or take a step in the direction of their dreams, I’ll take my chances AGAINST ANYONE IN THE WORLD.

And feel free to give Bill Gates those same 10 minutes and sit him on the other side of the table with pen and paper and a 2 paragraph head start.

If you are going to blindfold the judges and need to bet on winner, you really ought to pick me.

Maybe I’m right – or maybe I’m wrong.  But in that world – my creative confidence reigns supreme.

The same is true for you.

You have your bill gates game face – the one that is HAPPY, humble, focused, fearless and free.

That natural space where you simply intuitively excel.

Where the smart money says – go all in on YOU.

Life is short.  We’re all on the same clock – don’t wait for the alarm to wake up to the work you really feel called to create.

Cultivate that – celebrate that – and contemplate what life would look life if you could actually DO that.

And then get up tomorrow and figure out how to begin.

 

 

 

A Few Great (FREE) WordPress Themes for Brand Builders and Agencies

If you are building an online agency or doing brand building work for clients, one of the most common (and profitable!) requests is for a blog or website makeover.

The truth is, if you have my design skills……this is the sort of work you should routinely pass up.

Okay, I know what you are thinking.  And it’s true…YES, I do have a very cool collection of Ekhart Tolle-eque cardigan sweaters, and yes, for a straight guy, I do have a very uncanny and innovative eye for suave summer style.  (which comes in handy when you live in a seasonless,  perpetual summer sunny climate like south Florida)

But, when it comes to designing websites – other than having a good sense of what should go where, and what looks and converts the best – when it comes to actually DOING the design work – it’s always something I need to outsource to others more skilled than I.

And that’s fine – a web designer I’m not.  But often times, you’ll find that by outsourcing the design elements to others, you are taking a few thousand dollars off of the table that your clients SHOULD be paying for marketing – but instead, want to allocate to making their blog (and brand) look good, as the first step.

(I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a small business that has a budget of 5K or less….that will end up spending 60 or 70 or even 80 percent of their funds on a jazzy looking website, rather than a super simple blog or website, only to have very little leftover to actually build their blog (and bank account) when the fancy pants design bells and whistles stop making whizzing)

So what I recommend for just about everyone…..is to use templates.  Good looking, professionally designed templates that can reduce your development costs by 95%…and site and design aesthetics that are super clean, easy to read and absent the many (expensive) moving parts that are completely unnecessary and that reduce conversions to boot.

Tumblr, for example – is a great and FREE way to build a great looking blog, create content that CONNECTS with your community in a unique way, and is something that YOU, as a marketing expert, agency or brand building pro can use to deliver amazing, interactive and incredible sites….with a whole host of creative, content curation strategies built in, for a fraction of a fraction of what your clients would pay a design house to build.

Pixel Revel builds KILLER themes for both WordPress and Tumblr – and some of the favorites from their portfolio are totally free.

For sheer minimalism – and something I’m recommending for WordPress sites that need a pure content focused design that is great for authors, artists and PASSION professionals is their Thoughts theme.  I love it – it’s 100% free – and I am using this on a new project myself…and have 3 or 4 coaches who are now using this as well.  (both for themselves, and for their clients as well)

There is only 1 day left to grab this for free (I meant to share this a month ago :-) but THIS kick ass creative theme on Themeforest, which has been free for the month of October, so you have to get it by tomorrow if you want it gratis.  This is not so much a minimalist theme…..but one that can do some very cool things and can be customized in lots of crazy ways to really be cutting edge – which you can see in their demo examples.

BUT, there is a great plugin that comes with this theme called “Canvas” which is uber cool as well – and gives your clients (or your own sites) a great “featured” page to promote anything you want, in a very subtle but super cool way – and again….you can download and experiment and see for yourself for FREE, if you grab it before the end of October.  (which is an evasive way of saying – by tomorrow at midnight)

You can literally use professionally designed templates like these to build a quick and easy and great looking site for your clients in an hour or two – charge them as little as 3 or 4 hundred dollars – throw in some low cost hosting, a dedicated newsletter or relationship marketing campaign, and quite literally – offer world class value to people who truly need what you have, in a way that empowers, inspires and motivates them in an affordable way – all while still earning a few hundred bucks an hour for your effort.  (and opening a big back door to all sorts of other offers and ideas and referrals and so forth along the way.)

Launcheffectapp is another free theme that works wonderfully well for the above as well.  (you don’t even really NEED the premium version to offer something incredibly valuable to your clients that they would be clueless to do on their own)

There are now TONS of killer Ghost themes that are 100% free that look like (and have been) created by world class designers.

I’ve been sharing a list of my own favorite FREE WP themes on Campfire with chat clients over the last week, (we’re up to 20 really good ones, including some suggestions others have made I didn’t know about, and am stoked to add to the arsenal as well)

I’ll publish that PDF sometime next week, along with some innovative ways you can use free themes to build a thriving web marketing agency that focuses on high paying clients and premium priced services, and starting on a bootrap budget to boot.

Also – as I don’t promote this via newsletter anymore……

If you want to join our Campfire Chat community – I’m adding a group chat “mastermind” functionality in November where 3 or 4 of us all catch up to brainstorm and share ideas several times per week, and….in addition, I am available to you via chat and phone work specifically on growing your brand, blog, and business.

(this is $500 per week, per client or small group of related clients  – this is a firm and non negotiable rate so please don’t inquire if that feels like a stretch for you in any way – and is for folks who are really inspired and motivated to build something magical and meaningful and have the passion and persistence to follow through –  I will take 2 more of these  in November and 1 in December – if you want more info – drop me an email)

Important little update:

Discussion on BEHEMOTH_ Reshape Your Personal WordPress Blog | ThemeForestA Few people have  emailed me that the free wordpress file above is no longer free – and it’s not yet midnight on the 31st.  It appears like themeforest is on australian time, which means that, for most of us….we are a day behind, and quite literally, a dollar short.  (or in this case, 43 dollars short)

Sorry if you didn’t manage to get to download this for free – if you really need/want the theme, send me an email and i’ll give you mine.  (but don’t tell anyone – it has to be between you and me, which at this point – based on the readership of this blog – ain’t gonna be that much of a stretch :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Building Something New

Or said differently, Some Random Thoughts, and Things I’ve Learned About Building a Brand New, Fun & Profitable Community Site from Scratch.

As a few of you know, the last 3 or 4 months I’ve been working on a number of new “authority” sites in one super specific niche.  (the spiritual growth and mindfulness marketplace)

In a lot of ways, it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in a long time……simply because it’s given me another opportunity to start something from the bottom up, with pretty much just my own vision to lead the way.  (while this is a project with multiple partners, it’s pretty much been my own ideas,input, inspiration and direction that we’re following, or at least insofar as what we’ve built thus far – which offers me a bit of freedom to experiment with things I haven’t quite had on some other more democratically constructed projects in the past)

I’m going to share some of the things I would have done differently, some of the mistakes and simple oversights that I’ve made, and some of the things that are really working wonderfully well, for those of you who are still trying to build something viable, valuable, fun and meaningful in your own markets, niche or industry.

My hope is to give you the inspiration to KNOW, empirically, how easy this work can be.

I’ll probably spread some of these blog posts out over time – or maybe I’ll just hammer them all out in one fell swoop – I’m not yet 100% certain, as I know that most of the folks reading this aren’t ultimately going to be part of what I’m doing next – in my own life and business.

In keeping with the above – I’m pretty much totally “out” of the general online marketing blogging business – if you are on my newsletter list – not the one noted above – but the one that the vast majority of my subscribers are on  – some 15K strong – the aweber list that I’ve used for years……I cancelled that account about 45 days ago, without keeping a single name – no exporting to my new list – no email campaign in advance of that – no advanced “warning” or grateful goodbye.

Just one single innocuous email to invite folks to check out a new marketplace  project when it launches in September.  (oops!  Note to self:  Invest in a good non end of the world Mayan Calendar)

Because to build something new, sometimes the best incentive is to burn the old.

Take away the comfort of a net – and instead, go back to your instincts – your inspiration  – and sense of passion and purpose about working with ideas – and people who truly get what it is that you’ve got.  (or not)

I decided a few years ago that I’d love to work with professional people in the spiritual development, the personal growth and the mindfulness/meditation marketplaces.

The reasons are many – and probably a bit out of the scope of what I want to cover here, but in general, being a pretty discplined devotee of various meditation practices over the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve seen first hand how tranformative this sort of “spiritual” practice can be.

(especially for someone like myself – who traditionally fell into the more atheistic/agnostic camp about all things bigger than our bodies)

Having had many extraordinary experiences through very specific meditative practices, and later having some decidedly “paranormal” experiences that I would have laughed off if someone I knew or loved shared with me in the past, I decided I really wanted to spend as much of my life  exploring not only these states – the powers and possibilities that they “point” to from the perspective of human potential ……but the people who routinely offered them up as part of their professional practice.

Of course, even as I write this….I’m super skeptical of most of what I read and see in this field.

This does provide some challenges when cultivating a community of passionate professionals in a field where my ideal audience – my target audience and client pool – as well as their fans/followers and friends seem to be, quite often, dangerously deluded about the nature of reality.

But, then again….what do I know about reality?

Not all that much, I guess.

I know the Eagles are winning.

Other than that, I’m not all that sure.  So part of this project – and this process – is suspending a bit of my skepticism and working with ideas that turn me on – even if some of the folks I’m working with make me shake my head and roll my eyes, before they spit out a single sentence.

So there is that challenge, if I’m being honest.  Staying true to my own sense of power and possibility, while building a brand, multiple blogs, and a businsess around ideas that I’m  100% sure I’m not always going to be on board with, let alone believe.

Of course, the chances are, this isn’t all that applicable to you – as you are probably working in a field or industry not fraught with the credulity challenges above.

So I want to share with you some of the things I’ve done to build a vibrant, viable, and valuable community in this niche, from scratch….pretty much just over the last 90-100 days or so.

This is NOT a get rich quick marketing system – but instead, a process of quite literally, building something.  Building a blog – and a brand – and a business – and your bank account, around an idea that turns YOU on – and makes you want to connect with a community (and clients) that you can see yourself cultivating for years to come.

I have no real notes for this blog post – I’m just thinking aloud – but I’ll share with you some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far – and some of the tools I’ve used – and some of the results thus far – and I’ll make all of this into a series that those of you who want to, can keep coming back and checking in on.  (i’d recommend subscribing to the RSS feed, so you get updates when I post something new – rather than using the mailchimp newsletter above, as I’m not sending anything out to that list on this at all – or at least not until that marketplace is ready – which may or may not be anytime soon)

So here are some of the really big brush points:

1 – Beginning with the end in mind, as cliche as it sounds…..is so incredibly important.  Having a super strong sense of why you are doing what you are doing, and how it will utlimately all be worth it, be that monetarily or psychologically or a creative combination of compelling reasons as to WHY you want to build an authority/community site in your marketplace is just key.  If I was just trying to build a directory (which is the first cog in our community – a directory of professionals who work in the field) it would probably never really feel, financially  or emotionally, worthwhile to pursue the project.

However, knowing that I have a BIG back end in mind (working with, and developing real relationships with these higher end, often fairly well known spiritual coaches, consultants, teachers, trainers, and “enlightened entrepreneurs” – helping them build their OWN brands with products and books and courses and help them expand their own influence – is a great way of offering overwhelming value in the beginning stages when they have no idea who I am.

Said differently – by creating an authority site that I own – and inviting them to particpate in that – and having them see all of the amazing people, and their professional peers, who are already involved….offers me the appearance of expertise and creates a measure of trust that I simply could not have earned otherwise.

I have complete confidence that I can help 90% + of these folks instantly improve their brands and businesses – their content and communities – but I also know that they have no idea who I am.  Proactively creating an authority site – or a community site that appears to be where “all the cool kids are” is a great way of opening eyes – and attracting an audience that wouldn’t pay attention to me otherwise.

(and this is working wonderfully well exactly as designed – we’ve had over 200 people in this niche SELF INCLUDE themselves in this community, just in the last two months alone – many of whom, are now PAYING us to be part of the community every month :-)

I also of course, at heart….really want to write more – books, courses, products, and so forth.  So my BIG back end objective is not only to get more exposure for my own books on spiritual practice, mindfulness and mediation and the amazing array of experiences this offers, I’m culitvating a community of fans, friends and followers amongst some of the most important “thought leaders” in this space  – relationships I can later leverage for helping me expand MY audience for my books and blogs on topics that I’m not known for at all.  (spiritual stuff)

2 – Complimentary content is the absolutely EASIEST way to grow your community…..without any question.  Write nice things about people, and those people will not only read them, but they’ll tell other people to read them too.  We’ve used this “sneaky” strategy to have some high profile, TV personalities share our content – and our community with their tens of thousands (or more) social media followers, and this has been  a BIG boon for our brand.

How?  Because if your community is sharing your content – and that content is driving a ton of traffic – this helps in ways too plentiful to count.  BUT….one obvious benefit has been that many TOP level professionals in a niche, are always followed by others who work in the same marketplace, and strive to be as good, or as well known as they are.  So if they see the person (or persons) they professionally admire SHARING your community – and specifically, sharing complimentary content you wrote about them – those “second tier” folks are very likely going to be called to join your community as well.

One simple content share – on Twitter – last month – directly resulted in 12 new signs up to our directory in less than 24 hours – half of which PAID for inclusion – which not only generated easy money across a multitude of marketing metrics (sign up fees, adsense clicks, book sales, affiliate offers) – that second group of people ALSO shares with their fans and followers, and so cycle continues to spin.

All of this emanates from a single piece of COMPLIMENTARY content to sort of expedite this process in predictable ways – content that is easy and enjoyable to write as well, especially when you have genuine admiration for those you flatter in print.  (or pixel :-)

Again – this is somewhat disorganized in terms of my thoughts here – but I’d like to also share a few of the REALLY big mistakes I’ve made, especially using the directory model specifically as the launching point of a much larger community project.  (next we have a marketplace for digital goods and services that will feature many of the same people – and will leverage our trust and traffic – both from the public – and the professionals – who now regularly freqeunt and recommend our site.

Google hates us.

Yes, I can honestly say…..if my job description was SEO guru for this community – I’ve failed in a major league way.  Here is why:  (and I knew better…..and saw this coming, I just was lazy and forgetful and didn’t want to ask people for more than the minimum to join)

The people (the 200 or so above) that have joined our site as PROFESSIONALS (e.g. – they are listed on the directory in their geographic area and area of expertise) are pretty much copying and pasting their bio info from their main blog or website.  This means that the vast majority of our listings – our profiles – are cut and paste duplicate content.  I’ve NEVER been one to bemoan duplicate content – and always offered up an eye roll at the experts who waxed poetic on this and other content marketing sins.

However….I’m now seeing, first hand, through our own internal anaytics and the precipitous decline in natural search traffic (and the way Google has been crawling the site to precede this) that the Google gods think we are a content farm of recycled nothingness.

Of course this isn’t true…..we’re doing all sorts of other things to combat this content wise – but in the short run, at least for the last month or so – Google has cut our natural search traffic to about 5 people a day.   (from about 500 we were getting at week 3)

A little bit encouraging is that Bing and Yahoo are both sending us a good amount of natural traffic, but in the grand scheme of things, seeing them in the referall logs every day just reminds me how much better we’d be (and will be) doing if Google would come back to the party.

Interestingly, this defecit has really FORCED me to come up with more creative ways to generate non search traffic – and using the COMPLIMENTARY content approach above has really been a godsend – as our natural referall traffic from social media, and even the links other folks are placing on their own sites, promoting their listing on OUR community, is really more than enough to keep the lights on.

Also – and I’m going to cover this in some depth – (just not today) we are crushing it on Facebook, every day….specifically using QUIZZES and trivia orienited content to generate a seemingly never ending source of inexpensive, paid traffic.  Currently, on 3 campaigns that are using quiz content – we are paying UNDER 4 CENTS a click for traffic – which has driven tens of thousands of visitors to our community – many of whom then browse our members, click on their links, click on adsense ads, and so forth.  As a matter of fact, we are making actually getting all of our Facebook traffic 100% for FREE, as the clicks on the adsense ads, on a daily basis, more than offset the cost for our FB campaigns.

The other big regret I have that I’ll quickly cover here is, I didn’t include a subscribe to our newsletter checkbox when folks registered for our community until last week.  There are some great free plugins that will do this for you – add a “subscribe to xyz list” when you join, and I didn’t do this until way too late.  Is it a big deal?  Not really…..but it does make sending out a newsletter offer to our community a bit more cumbersome – as there are several hundred PROMINENT people who “could” be on my client newsletter list for premium offers, upgrades, and services I want to sell, and now I’ve got to add them by hand, or email them individually and suggest they subscribe to stay updated for great offers, blah, blah, blah.

When we added the “add to mailchimp” plugin to our registration process – almost 9 out of 10 of our new members have subscribed at the point of registration.

Now, and especially because many of the higher end names are already members…..I worry that we’ve needlessly lost an easy way to connect automatically as we begin to roll out bigger and better offers, and a whole marketplace to boot in about a week.

So…there are some thoughts for you.  Again – this is the DIRECTORY model (we’re using the Directory child theme and Vantage from App Themes – the whole combo cost $139 – and I made some very specific modifications to the template that have directly resulted in lots of paid businesss – I’ll share that easy mod with those of you who want it – it’s made a dramatic difference in paid members for obvious (to me) reasons.

Any questions? Feel free to email me and ask – I will start to post questions on the blog and answer those for the benefit of all.  (myself included :-)

Sorry for all the typo’s – this was sort of a pre-game 1 world series brain training exercise in just letting some thoughts flow and see where they went.  Hope it was helpful to the (very) small group still paying attention!  :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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