snowboarding gear flat lay
Life

What My Snowboarding Gear Consists Of

snowboarding gear flat lay

When I first started snowboarding, it was a completely new activity to me. I remember how unfamiliar everything was, and how awkward I felt. One of the problems that I definitely faced was what to bring and wear/use. A lot of items were very new to me, and I didn’t know my preferences, nor what to look out for when buying something.

For most items, I had to buy several different kinds before I found something that I liked. Eventually, it took me multiple snowboarding trips, but I finally got a much better idea of what I need. Nowadays whenever I go snowboarding, I bring the same set of gear. I wish I knew about this packing list when I first started, so I hope this helps you out, especially if it’s going to be your first time snowboarding.

Here’s how it looks like, and a breakdown of each item.

Snowboards/bindings/boots: I have two snowboards, a 151cm Burton Name Dropper 2018 for park and a 154cm Burton Skeleton Key 2018 for all-mountain use. I first started with the Skeleton Key, but as I realised I wanted to do more of switch riding and tricks, I decided to get a more park-focused or freestyle-focused snowboard.

I have one set of bindings (Burton Genesis EST) and I transfer my bindings to whichever snowboard I’m planning to use for the day. I also only have one pair of snowboarding boots – a pair of Burton Ion BOA. It’s a great pair of boots which is lightweight and comes with dual BOA zones. Having dual BOA zones is important because loosening/tightening becomes a breeze, and that’s something that you always do as you take breaks throughout the day when you’re snowboarding. The only modification to the boots that I had to do was to install Burton’s J-Bar cushions. I’d have so much heel lift without them, and installing them has practically removed all that heel lift.

Snowboarding Clothing (Jacket/pants): You can get any kind of snowboarding jacket and pants that you’d like, as long as they are waterproof and windproof. I prefer mine with some insulation, so I don’t have to layer up. Make sure your jacket comes with zippered pockets, and has a ski pass pocket, preferably on your jacket forearm. If I were to make a recommendation, get something that’s made from Helly Henson, or The North Face.

snowboarding padded shorts

Padded shorts: Your butt and tailbone can get into pretty bad falls, and I found that a padded short helped save me many times. Even now when I’m more comfortable at snowboarding, I still wear these because you’d never know when you’ll have a bad fall.

snowboarding wrist guards

Wrist guards: I went through several wrist guards before I found these Dakine wrist guards. Personally, they offered me the best mix of comfort and protection. I also like how it’s low-profile so that wearing mitts over them is easy enough. This is important, especially since I take on and off my mitts multiple times throughout the day.

snowboarding touch glove liners

Glove liners: At first, I didn’t believe in glove liners, but then I realised it not only added warmth, but also prevented your wrist guards and mitts from stinking up after a few days of snowboarding. I went through several pairs before I found one that worked really well because the ENTIRE glove liner is touchscreen-compatible, which is really convenient. Most glove liners only give you a small part of your thumb and index finger to be touchscreen-compatiable, which gets really annoying because the contact is intermittent. When these gloves give out, I’ll get GliderGloves, which works the same way and has good reviews.

burton mitts

Snowboarding Mitts: Unlike skiiers who need to hold on to ski poles, snowboarders don’t, and can use mitts instead of gloves. My extremities, such as my hands and feet, get cold easily. I found that mitts were a lot warmer than gloves. I also got mitts that were sized larger so that I could fit them over my wrist guards. These Burton mitts were hardy, warm, and had a wrist strap (very important!).

smith helmet with be wireless earphones

Wireless earphones: After I became more comfortable with snowboarding, I bought a pair of wireless helmet earphones so that I could listen to songs while I snowboard. These also drop right into my helmet’s ear pads, and last the whole day and more. This is important, because I typically try to snowboard the full day from 8am to 4pm.

Snowboarding Helmet: I chose the Smith Vantage helmet because it had MIPS technology, was lightweight, and had ear pads that could accept my wireless earphones. With these ear pads, I could hide my earphones away completely within the helmet, and there would be no wires to annoy me.

Snowboarding Goggles: Absolutely essential for snowboarding. I used to buy cheap goggles, but they would always fog, and visual clarity was not great. So I went around shopping and tried many different goggles. Eventually, I found that Dragon Alliance X2 goggles had a great Asian fit, and had a wide range of lenses. I typically use the reflective orange lenses, and only switch to the rose-tinted lenses for cloudy days.

snowboarding balaclava

Balaclava/Face Mask: It took me some time to find one that was good quality, warm enough, and has a cut-out for breathing. In addition, this has a hinged design, so I can choose to pull down the face mask, or pull down the top. I’d highly recommend this balaclava.

snowboarding knee pads

Volleyball knee pads: A pro tip that saves your knees. Low-profile volleyball knee pads allow you to rest kneeling forwards while on your toe-side edge. Especially important if you have a long day of snowboarding and are with a group of friends (lots of waiting!).

snowboarding socks

Snowboarding socks: Unlike regular socks, snowboarding socks have more padding in areas like your shin, your heel, and the top of your foot. These give you more comfort, especially if the socks are made from wool or merino wool.

Base layer: I wear a top and bottom base layer, and that’s pretty much all I wear underneath my jacket and pants. At the end of the day, I just hand-wash these and they’d be dry the next day.

Snowboard bag: To store all of this gear, and keep it safe while I travel around the world, I use a 156cm Burton wheeled snowboard bag. It’s well-padded, has wheels, and also has a shoulder strap so that it’s relatively easy to carry around. If you travel on planes, something wheeled is very much more recommended in terms of protection because it has a lot more structure than the bags without wheels.

Hopefully this list helps you out, especially if it is your first time snowboarding. Have fun!

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snowboarding views niseko
Life

5 Crucial Reasons Why I Snowboard, And You Should Too

When I was running my business, I didn’t have much time to pursue any hobbies or interests on a consistent basis. Much of my time was spent on the business, since there was always something that could be worked on. My work consumed me, and I justified it because I was improving my career, and besides, it was better to spend time on my work than on idle and negative activities. It was only after the business got acquired that I actually felt that I needed more purpose in my life. So I went to look around for a hobby.

There were so many things that I could try, but I remember trying out snowboarding when I was much younger, and being horrible at it. I was falling and stumbling all the way down the mountain. But I didn’t take any lessons then, and I thought I should try it again, this time with proper snowboarding lessons.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I made, because I eventually fell in love with the sport.

Why Having Hobbies Is Important

The important thing that it taught me was that your identity needs to be multi-faceted or multi-layered so that you can develop more holistically. My work used to be my hobby, but it wasn’t healthy because it meant that work was my entire life. It was only recently that I discovered how important having real hobbies were. Snowboarding became my hobby, and I learnt 5 crucial reasons for having a hobby.

1. Experiencing Flow

Flow is essentially being in the zone. You know you’re in a state of flow when your mind is clear and stress disappears. For the moment, distractions, and responsibilities fall away, almost as though you’re meditating. Time passes imperceptibly. I go through hours of snowboarding without realising it.

Experiencing flow is important because it is here that your mind gets a reset. Not coincidentally, this is also typically when new ideas and solutions suddenly come to mind. This is because the mind is suddenly free of its daily tasks, and left to its own devices, it can start exploring new possibilities. Some of us can even experience this state of flow when we do more mundane things that allow us to disconnect, such as showering or taking a walk.

snowboarding views niseko

No matter what activity it is, as long as it’s a positive activity that promotes activity and challenge, you can find that state of flow. Flow is a state of mind that’s elusive, but rewarding and satisfying when you achieve it. I regularly experience flow when I snowboard, and the sense of satisfaction is incredible.

2. Finding Awe

Remember when you were a kid, and everything was amazing because everything was new to you? That was a sense of awe. It evokes feelings of wonder and amazement in us, and works to expand our world view. Recent research has shown that it’s not just a pleasurable feeling, but also helps us have stronger social bonds, improve our health, and boost our well-being.

Snowboarding is a sport that takes me to mountains every time, and the views on top of every mountain never ceases to fill me with awe. In fact, one of the primary triggers of awe is a sense of vastness. Not necessarily in terms of space, but in terms of anything letting you feel that it is much larger than yourself.

snowboarding views nozawa onsen japan
Views while snowboarding at Nozawa Onsen, Japan

A hobby exposes your to these moments of awe more often. It could be something as simple as appreciating good craftsmanship, the ingenuity of a move in chess or a sport, a new flower growing in your neighbourhood park, or even the re-discovery of an old spot down your street. Seeing beauty, even in the ordinary, is done best by leaving your comfort zone in whatever you do.

3. Increasing Confidence

I remember when I first started learning snowboarding. Like learning any new skill, such as swimming, rollerblading, or cycling, it is difficult to pick up because your mind and muscles aren’t familiar with the skill yet.

As with any new snowboarder, you’ll find yourself falling and stumbling more often than not. However, once you put in practice, you’ll experience a point in time when the skills “click” and you’ll suddenly be able to snowboard smoothly for a much longer period of time.

That point of time when you start becoming comfortable is a point of time when you get a huge confidence boost. What was incredibly difficult and seemingly impossible to learn, became a skill that you internalised. That is an accomplishment that you can be proud of.

In my hobby, my journey didn’t end when I could be comfortable with the basics of snowboarding. I wanted to learn more tricks and handle increasingly difficult terrain. And this is typical of any hobby that challenges you. The overcoming of challenges is the best way to increase your confidence in yourself and in your ability to learn and overcome.

4. Socialising

When you have a hobby, you get to mix and bond with strangers who also share the same hobby. You can choose to be as sociable when you meet these strangers, or as withdrawn as you would like, depending on how comfortable you are. When I go snowboarding, I can be chatty and talk to strangers, or I can be withdrawn, depending on how I feel at the moment. The beauty is that all that is now open and available to you when you have a hobby.

A bond also forms with your friends, especially those who share the same hobby. I found myself having more in common with more of my friends, with snowboarding as our common activity. I used to hang out with my friends over just drinks and food, but these days, I can organise snowboarding trips together with friends. It doesn’t just apply to friends who have the same hobby, but also other friends who are curious about the activity or interested in your life. It gives you stories to tell, and experiences to share.

5. Finding A Sense of Purpose

In the past few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that our lives have no predetermined purpose. We have to give meaning and purpose to our lives with what we feel is important to us. Work and my business were my sole purpose until one day, I decided that I needed to experience more of the world and of life. That was when I started looking for a hobby outside of my work. I found it in snowboarding, and it gives me such a great sense of purpose.

I now plan snowboarding trips, actively looking for ski resorts that are fun and new. It allows me to rope in friends to come along, or meet friends who are living near where I’m going. Besides enjoying just snowboarding down the slopes, I also look at drills and how I can practice so that I get better at the sport.

Snowboarding might be trivial and uninteresting to other people, but to me, it gives my life purpose. Having an activity that I can look forward to and get excited about has been a feeling that I’ve lost since I was a teenager, and I’m glad that I’ve found it again.

Find Your Hobbies

It doesn’t have to be snowboarding that you fall in love with. It can be any positive hobby. It can even be a more everyday activity such as reading, or gardening. The important thing is that it must be an activity that truly makes you passionate about, and you’re more than willing to spend hours upon hours to get lost in it. I remember there was a day trip that I took to snowboard at Lake Tahoe when I was in California’s Bay Area. The drive there and back took 7 hours, and my actual snowboarding time on the slopes was just a total of 3 hours. But still, it was worth it for me.

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how to start a business
Work

How to Start a Successful Business With Just $115

How to start a successful business isn’t going to cost you as much as you think you need. Before I started my first business in 2002, I was a freelancer who did website design — which was another way of saying that I was a student trying to make money designing websites for companies. I had no business nor company, but that was a plus point for some businesses. They were willing to work with freelancers like me because we could charge them a lower fee as a result.

There are risks for businesses to work with freelancers though. For instance, unlike a business, which might care more about their business reputation, some freelancers may not be as reliable. Unlike dealing with a business, freelancers might not issue an invoice, so some freelance work might not be seen as a legitimate business expense.

To legitimise the business and to start attracting more customers, I roped in a close classmate of mine and set up a business together with him. However, we were doing the exact same thing that I was doing when I was a freelancer. The difference was that we had a business name to operate under, and a business bank account. That lent us the legitimacy we were looking for.

I didn’t know the terms back then, but this was known as a service-based business. And it is an awesome way to start a business.

How to Start a Successful Business

Low Start-up Capital

Since you don’t have any inventory, staff, nor research, your start-up capital is simply the costs that it takes to register your business.

Depending on where you are, business registration costs will differ. In Singapore, a sole-proprietorship or a partnership costs SGD115 (or USD85) to set up. You’ll need other recommended items, but they’re very affordable as well, and completely optional if you’re tight on finances. Namely, a business bank account, and a domain name with web hosting. If you take up a monthly plan, that should cost you about SGD40 a month to get all of that going.

When we started our business, this was what we did. Once we had everything set up, we created our business website and made ourselves look bigger than we were. We added testimonials from my previous freelance projects, and used a family friend’s office as our office address. Our website was worded as though there was an entire army working in the business, instead of just two students.

Reduced Business Risks

In addition, you drastically reduce your business risks because you don’t have research and development costs, tooling and inventory costs, or manpower costs. You’re basically exchanging your time for money, which means you have a very low on-going burn rate.

This allows you to keep costs extremely low until you get your first client and project. Once you close the deal and deliver, you get paid the full sum. After which, you can roll the revenue into growing your business while you continue working on more projects.

Since we were a couple of broke students, we did whatever we could to market our business for free. To get our first clients as a business, we printed flyers and put them inside business books in public libraries. We spammed online forums and free classified ads. Using the phone directory, we cold-called and cold-emailed businesses who had no websites, or had poorly designed websites. And it worked. Through sheer determination, we found our first few clients this way, and it allowed us to seed the growth of the business.

How to Start a Successful Business Now

If you’re looking at how to start a successful business, then there’s no better time to start than now. A service-based business allows you to skip all the risks that a product-based business has. And if you’ve been saying that you don’t have the entrepreneurial skills to start a business, then these businesses would allow you to learn what you need as you go.

There’s really no better way to learn the proper skills than to get your hands dirty. To run a business on your own, you’ll need to know things like SEO, social media marketing, copy-writing, basic website design, financial accounting, budgeting, and the list goes on. Jump in at the deep end, and learn to be an entrepreneur by actually doing it.

The only bad thing about a service-based business is that you’ll never have the scalability that a product-based business has. However, I wouldn’t worry about how to scale up your business so soon. With all the advantages that it has, a service-based business is an excellent way to start your entrepreneurial journey. If you have a passion or skill with a particular service, consider developing it into a business. And that’s how to start a successful business, right now.

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value of time money
Life

I Didn’t Understand Money, And I Lost Over $800,000

For everything in life, we need a frame, and that’s necessary too if you want to understand money. The problem with frames is that it can be faulty or sub-optimal unless you constantly test them and update them.

When I was growing up, I had a very basic frame to understand money. As I grew older, that frame didn’t get updated much until I starting earning an income. That came in the form of part-time jobs when I was a teenager.

Updating Your Frame To Understand Money Better

I had a 2-month internship at Microsoft once when I was around 19 years old. It paid me around SGD350 a month (or about USD250). I knew it was a very low-paying job, but I was a student, and it was the going rate. It didn’t become clear just how low-paying it was though until I went out for a nice dinner with my friends.

The mains at the restaurant cost about SGD35. It struck me that it would cost me quite a fair bit of my salary. My daily salary was about SGD16 (SGD350 divided by 22 working days in a month). Each hour that I worked got me about SGD2 (SGD16 divided by 8 working hours in a day). What this means is that I had to work about 2.5 days or 16 hours, before I could actually afford that meal. I was shocked and appalled.

The work that I did as an intern wasn’t anything to shout about too. It was often that I felt the seconds creep by at work. I rearranged chairs for conferences, compiled presentation decks, or did research for senior employees. To go through 16 hours of that kind of work was significant, and I felt that it was a huge price to pay for a meal.

As I progressed with my career, my income and salary increased. It made it more affordable for me to afford that same SGD35 dinner. As my income grew, a SGD35 dinner that used to take 16 hours of work to afford, now took a much shorter time instead. Some of you might even be able to afford a SGD35 dinner with a few hours or minutes of work.

With my growing salary, the memory of my days of being an intern soon faded, and along with it, the lesson that I learnt.

Understand Money: Time is Money, Money is Time

I started buying a lot more things. Some things didn’t even feel like a splurge. Maybe I felt like I needed a new pair of pants. Maybe that new pair of pants needed a different color shirt to match. Perhaps I would enjoy having new speakers, or a new LED monitor so that I could be more productive. Much more expensive dinners also seemed a lot more affordable and easier to pay for. A new car seemed to make sense, because it felt like a great reward for myself.

What I forgot was that it doesn’t change the fact that whenever you work, you are basically exchanging your time for money. Only recently did I remember this lesson again when I realised I had spent over $800,000 on items that did not move the needle in my life. I became conscious of the fact that anything that I buy is still taking some form of my time away from me.

It was something that I had thought about when I was younger, but it took many years before the lesson was learnt. Better late than never though, and I’m glad my perception of money changed for the rest of my life.

understand money by knowing your value of time

There’s a popular saying of “time is money”. When I was growing up, I used to think that this means that you have to work hard, and not waste time. The logic was that with every minute that you waste, you could have used it making more money instead. Now I realised that if “time is money” is true, then the converse of “money is time” can and is also true. It helped me understand money so much better when I realised that money wasn’t really just money, but time.

Focusing on What’s Important When You Understand Money

The awareness of money’s nature shocked me into making great changes. I started simplifying my possessions and my lifestyle and I became a minimalist. I realised that some of the desires and expectations that I had were irrelevant, unhealthy, and downright ridiculous. I started embracing minimalism. I sold my car, my apartment, and a bunch of stuff around the house that I never used in years.

Because I had less stuff, I could start renting a smaller apartment. Though it was small, its location was very much more convenient. The convenience meant that I no longer needed a car, and I could take the train to my office. I also had a gym, eateries, and supermarkets just minutes away by foot.

My savings every month went into various investments. I had the goal of increasing my passive income. I wanted to reduce the need for me to work and trade time for money, and more passive income allowed for that.

Simplifying my lifestyle and increasing my passive income were game-changers. It enabled me to have more free time to focus on things that were important to me and/or made me happy. This isn’t new info though. Research published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people who valued having more time were happier with their lives.

I used to feel that money was controlling and managing me. With these changes, it made me feel that I was controlling and managing money instead.

What about you? What is the value of money to you, and how do you manage and control it to give you happiness?

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Lamborghini Gallardo
Life

I Became a Millionaire at 33 And It Was A Profound Disappointment

I’ve heard hitting the magical 7-figures mark is a goal of many. It was mine, too, for many years, until I finally did it, became a Millionaire, and got to have a million dollars in my bank account. It was an extremely long process though, because it came about when the business that I co-founded and grew for 17 years got acquired, and I walked away a millionaire.

For context, I came from a low/middle-income family. My parents dropped out of school after the age of 12, and their hope was for their kids to not be like them, and be university graduates instead. That was what they felt guaranteed success.

When I was 17 years old, I had the good fortune to bump into this one particular classmate of mine, who would later become my company’s co-founder and business partner. We started a small business after knowing each other for a few months, with no capital nor investors, and we worked day and night growing it into the company that it became.

With my newfound status, the first thought that I had was that I finally made it – I had became a millionaire. The second thought was that I was suddenly very lost. The business, which was a large part of my identity for almost half of my life, was suddenly gone.

I had to start exploring and look for new things to occupy my time with. This path led me down what was most readily accessible and available – chasing material possessions as though it was a hobby or even a newfound purpose.

Fancy Watches

watches when I became a millionaire

Mechanical beauties, fancy watches can be exclusive and very expensive. The right ones may make you money, but that’s really an exercise in speculation because no one really knows which watches can really make money, even for established brands, like Rolex. I had a few fancy watches from Panerai, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Breitling, Omega, Rolex, and Chopard. Panerai was a favourite of mine because I particularly liked the styling, and I had several of their watches. 

What I found though, was that my love and appreciation for the mechanical ingenuity, and the aesthetics of the watches, does not last. I found myself getting bored very quickly, and watch ownership was made worse by the fact that maintenance rears its ugly head again.

For some brands, even a polish can cost a few thousand dollars, and worse, take 6-12 months before you get your watch back from the service centre. This is on top of the fact that you face an ongoing depreciation of the value of your watch.

Expensive Meals

I’ve also always wondered about expensive, fancy dining, so when I became a millionaire, I thought that it was the right time to go try these dining options. After all, it seemed like what wealthy people did.

I went about trying various restaurants, and specifically at Michelin-starred restaurants, purportedly the very best in dining options around. Sadly enough, despite the price, the food can still be a hit or miss. In the end, I found it to be extremely unsatisfying, even though it is supposed to be quite the experience.

Flashy Cars

Lamborghini Gallardo when I became a millionaire

I also decided to get a Lamborghini because it was always a childhood dream of mine, and I thought that I was finally able to afford one because I became a millionaire. That was such a wrong mindset.

The first day that I took possession of the car (it was a second-hand Lamborghini), I was ecstatic. A dream of mine was coming true! I was also nervous as heck, having never driven a car so powerful nor so expensive before. It was an experience just simply driving it home that day.

After a few weeks of owning the Lamborghini though, the allure of the dream just started to fade really quickly. The realities of ownership set in. One evening, I had a blown tyre, and it happened right before a business trip that I was scheduled to go for that night.

I learnt three very valuable things that day about being an owner of a supercar.

Firstly, it’s difficult to find a tyre shop that has ready stocks of Lamborghini tyres. To compound that, it’s infinitely more difficult to find said shop that would be open at night.

Secondly, Lamborghinis have a special wheel nut that requires a special tool that only Lamborghinis have. Typical tyre shops will not have this, as typical cars will not need this wheel nut. This tool typically comes with the car, but because I bought a second-hand Lamborghini, somehow it was missing from the original equipment, and I didn’t know enough to check for this tool.

Thirdly, if stuff goes wrong, and you want to leave your car overnight at a workshop, they’re very reluctant to let you do so if your car is a high-value car, like a Lamborghini. Workshops will not want to bear the risk of any liabilities, just in case something goes wrong with your car overnight.

I managed to get all those issues resolved that evening, but I had to make a lot of frantic phone calls, and it was a very stressful experience that I wouldn’t like to repeat. Now, admittedly, some of that is my fault for not checking, but if I were to drive a typical car, I could at least leave it at the workshop while I head off for my business trip.

This, amongst many other problems that happened over the course of my year-long ownership, left me a very sour taste for high-end flashy cars. I decided to sell off the Lamborghini, and truthfully, the only 2 days that I was happy were the days that I bought it and the day that I sold it.

Big Apartment

If a flashy car was a mistake, then I thought I couldn’t go wrong buying property. Property was heralded as a superior investment, and I thought that it would be a great idea. So I looked around and decided to get an apartment, and finally settled on a 1320sqft apartment that was in a quiet neighbourhood.

In my mind, I had all these dreams of entertaining guests over at my place, cooking big meals, and throwing parties. In reality, though, I realised I didn’t have the patience nor passion to cook or clean up after people. In fact, just tidying up a big apartment is a gigantic chore in itself.

In addition, because the apartment was in a quieter neighbourhood, I was far from supermarkets and eateries and public transportation. That meant I was reliant on my car and made me very helpless whenever the car was in the workshop for servicing or repairs.

What I learnt After I Became a Millionaire

I’m not dissing big apartments, flashy cars, fancy watches, or expensive meals. Some people have a genuine love for these things, and I respect that. However, it’s just not something for me, and I’m now very much more aware of what makes me happy. Which is ironic, because I only started to get clarity after I became a millionaire.

My choice of apartment is a small one that’s just right for my needs but located at a very convenient location such that I don’t have to drive to get to the supermarket or other amenities. I do not drive, and if I do need to buy a car again, it would be an economical car that’s functional, not a flashy one.

My watch of choice is a Xiaomi Mi Band 3, a watch cum heart-rate tracker that costs SGD30. I have meals at the neighbourhood eatery and seldom dine anywhere expensive unless I have to. When the basics are taken care of, I find myself facing greatly diminishing utility.

Even though I have the ability to buy nice things, I now know that my previous pursuit of material things did not make me happy. What being a millionaire does is open options to you. When I became a millionaire, I started being introduced to other people who were successful in their careers and industries. This gave me a better idea of what people were doing, and how they were managing their wealth and the kinds of pursuits that they were engaging in.

What Really Makes Each Of Us Happy

One of the greater things that I experienced after I became a millionaire was the ability to have options that I previously did not have. An option to provide financial assistance to financially needy people. An option to go experience things that you couldn’t before. An option to have the freedom to do whatever it is that you want. These days, I focus my efforts on philanthropy, fitness, travel, and experiences.

The words that Jim Carrey said come to mind, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”.

It’s easier to say that now that I’ve seen the other side of the fence, and a lot of people will definitely think that way. I know the younger me wouldn’t have believed this too, but hopefully, something will click in a few of you such that you’ll start to re-evaluate what your life goals are, and what you are pursuing.

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Miscellaneous

How To Dynamically Insert Affiliate Links or Track Referrals With Aweber

If you are looking to build an email list, and want to be able to use custom variables in the emails that you send out, then this guide is for you. Here are some example use cases:

  • Tag subscribers to affiliates, so that you can add their Clickbank hop ID to all your links, in all your future email broadcasts/autoresponders
  • Track total revenue based on where you acquired a subscriber. E.g. track Google Analytics variables by appending them to all future links that you email out

I chose Aweber because it is a great email marketing service that is very popular because of the advanced features that it allows.

One great feature is the fact that Aweber allows you to use custom variables, but many people don’t know or don’t use this feature. You should though, because this allows you to a lot of cool things. In this post, I’ll show you how you can automatically track who referred a subscriber to you, and insert their affiliate link in your emails. This is good to have for merchants, because you can run an email list on your sales page, and still get affiliates to wholeheartedly refer visitors to you still.

Requirements:

  1. PHP
  2. Aweber

To do this, you’ll need to setup a custom variable in Aweber. Let’s call it “ref”. Here’s a screenshot of where to do this in Aweber.

aweber creating a custom variable

Now that you have a custom variable, we need to use it in our opt-in forms. The problem here though, is that the form builder in Aweber doesn’t allow you to insert PHP code (which is what we require for this to work).

So just create your opt-in form as per normal, but without the ref field (you’ll see it in the form builder). Now this is where things differ: when it asks you to publish as Javascript or HTML, choose HTML. Grab that code, stick it on your website where you want it, and paste this line of code right before the </form> tag. Remember to change the words YourDefaultRefGoesHere. This will set a default ref to use, just in case the visitor got to your form without a referrer (Thanks Mike!).

Note: A cookie-version of the code has been added (Thanks to Chris’s suggestion!). What it does is to cookie visitors, and then read the cookie when they visit your page again. Instructions within the text file.

  1. See the code here (txt file)
  2. Cookie-version of code here (txt file)

Alert: The only drawback for this method is unlike the Javascript method, you won’t be able to track impressions on your form. The benefit is that EVERYONE can view a HTML form, whereas some people may turn off Javascript support in their browsers, or have a browser that does not support Javascript, so they won’t be able to see your Javascript form.

Now that the form and variable is complete, we’ll need to actually use it. The following screenshot shows you how to do so. Simply create a broadcast or followup message as per normal, but click on the “Personalize” link, and choose your custom variable, as shown.

You’ll notice 2 variants of your variable listed, and here’s what they mean. For our case, we can just use the first version, which is {!custom ref}. These are basically the only two variants that you’ll be faced with:

  • {!custom variable_name}: Whatever information is stored in the variable_name custom field
  • {!custom_fix variable_name}: Whatever information is stored in the variable_name custom field, with the first letter of each word capitalized

After this, anyone who gets referred to your page like so: YourPage.php?ref=jack will automatically have “jack” stored into the custom variable of “ref”. In future, anytime you want to dynamically insert the referring affiliate, just use {!custom ref} in your emails.

An example link will be:

http://www.yourdomain.com/product.php?ref={!custom ref}

Viola. Now you can dynamically insert affiliate links in your emails or track referrals with Aweber! If you don’t already have Aweber, I highly recommend it because of the features and performance that it offers. The above technique is just one small feature that Aweber offers – think about Geo-targeting, or split-testing…just some more of the advanced features that Aweber offers.

Update: This works if you’re a Clickbank affiliate as well. Just change “ref” to “hop”, and you can use the following URL structure:

http://{!custom hop}.MERCHANT.hop.clickbank.net

Now your affiliates who refer visitors to your email list can continue earning their rightful commissions!

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