Monthly Archives: February 2010

Goodbye To Google


by Harvey Segal (guest blogger)

You read that right. I’ve told Google to push off. Stop spidering me.

I no longer want my online business to depend on its ever
changing whims as to what makes a good or bad ranking.

I don’t want to spend time collecting thousands of
backward links then find that they are probably worthless
because the anchor text does not contain a suitable
keyword, or the site does not have sufficient page rank,
or whatever the latest algorithm is.

I don’t want to buy expensive cloaking tools and run the
risk of penalization.

I don’t want to be bothered about whether a domain has a
static or dynamic IP address or have to use different
hosts to make a network of minisites.

What’s that you say ? You don’t need fancy tricks – just
provide good relevant content.

My answer ?

Nonsense.

I have a huge content site devoted solely to ClickBank,
the only one of its kind.

If you wanted to find the most relevant content for a
search on the keyword ‘ClickBank’ don’t you think that
would be at the top ?

Well Google used to agree with you.

It was ranked number 2, with only ClickBank.com itself at
number one.

Today it is ranked … wait for it … number 426.

It is beaten out of sight by sites which have nothing to
do with ClickBank but happen to mention that keyword once.

I asked a search engine expert about this and he suggested
that it was due to keyword density, in other words too
many mentions of the word ClickBank.

Well that has to be the case – the site is after all a
‘Complete Guide to ClickBank’

His advice – try replacing the word ClickBank occasionally
e.g. use ‘CB’.

No way.

That was the last straw and became the inspiration for me
to develop a revolutionary approach to getting traffic.

It led to me being called ‘The Guru who said goodbye to
Google’ in the marketing forums.

And this new approach ?

It uses some of the fundamental pillars of Internet
marketing that you already know – techniques which will
never become obsolete.

But they are combined together in a new way and with a
viral twist that you won’t have seen before.

It includes giving out free information in a certain way
and I show you how exactly in my book, The Ultimate
SuperTip.

And just to illustrate the principle:  the book is free! Click here

http://bit.ly/cIZ2FM

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Filed under Entrepreneurship, Social Networking, Twitter

How to Get A Live Person at the GA Department of Revenue


It’s that time of year again folks, and if you live in Georgia, that means another wait for your tax refund check from the Georgia Department of Revenue. As a former “insider” I am frequently asked, “How can I get in touch with a live person at the Georgia Department of Revneue?”

If you happen to be one of the several hundred thousand individual taxpayers calling about a tax refund for this, or any prior year, it’s not that easy to actually get a live person. But, it can be done. Here’s how:

  • File electronically. Statistically, you have a better shot at getting your refund faster if you file electronically, and especially if you elect for direct deposit.
  • If you haven’t received your refund within two to three weeks (filing electronically) or six to eight weeks (filing a paper return), then you should begin by going to this website https://etax.dor.ga.gov/WMRefund/index.aspx and searching there. Don’t worry, it’s safe and secure and actually works in most cases. You’ll be asked some identification info – your SSN without dashes, and the whole dollar amount of your expected refund.
  • If this doesn’t work, then there’s no need to call the Refund Inquiry Hotline (877) 423-6711, because it has the EXACT SAME INFORMATION, but if you do, press 2 and you will be taken to the exact same computer system as the website in the previous bullet point.
  • If you must call, do so early in the morning. The Automated Caller Distribution System switches from the night message (which says they’re closed and gives you the hours of operation) to Active status at about 7:30. If you call at exactly the right time, you can be among the first in line. Then the callers will back up behind YOU, because they don’t read my blog. Later in the day, it is not unusual to experience an hour or more hold time. Frequently, a call to this number returns a fast busy, which means that the system is overloaded with calls and cannot take another one. If you get this, wait 10 minutes and call back, or wait until early the next morning.
  • The Refund Inquiry System is on the main income tax number (Press 2) and it will ask you for your SSN and expected refund amount.
  • If you receive a response like “we do not have a record of your return” or something to that effect, don’t send in another copy. They probably have your return somewhere. If you mailed a paper return, shame on you. If you filed electronically and they say they don’t have it – then you may have a problem.
  • If everything is correct on your return and the name and address information matches what is in the Department’s files from previous years, then you should hear a message like, “Your refund should be deposited into your account on __/__/2010,” or, “Your refund check will be mailed by __/__/2010.” These dates are pretty accurate if you get to this point, because if they have assigned a “check date” to your refund, then it’s approved and they really will mail it or deposit it when they say they will. The Department prints checks and does direct deposits frequently throughout the week and they are pretty good at getting the COMPLETED refunds out the door. Commissioner Graham has a pretty decent record on this during his term.
  • At every menu level in the Department’s phone system, you should be able to click through to a live person by hitting the “0” or “#” key to get to a live operator.
  • When you do get a live person, please be nice. Don’t tell them how long you have been on hold. They know. They’re sorry. It’s not their fault. Trust me on this. Comments like these waste your time and theirs. Just avoid those kinds of comment, and you will be met with a much nicer person on the other end. These examiners take as many as 500 calls per day apiece, with about a second and a half in between, and everyone has been on hold and most of them complain about it, as though the examiner somehow wasn’t aware of this.
  • Bear in mind that the “operator” you will get at this level is likely a seasonal employee (we used to call them Temporary Tax Examiners), with just enough training to answer some basic questions about your refund, but not necessarily trained to talk to you about your whole tax return at all.
  • The GADOR is crippled by a number of old computer systems (some from the  1980’s) that do not “talk” to each other. This necessitates Tax Examiners having to toggle between various systems to answer a single question about a specific taxpayer. The Refund Inquiry operators may or may not have access to any other system, so any kind of examination takes a long while.
  • If you have a question about your return, or if the system tells the Examiner that your return is in some type of “Review Status”, then you will need to speak to a higher level Tax Examiner.
  • Likely, these higher level examiners are already speaking with someone else, so you will be placed on hold again. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get a Refund Examiners to transfer you to a specific Tax Examiner, but it’s worth asking.
  • When you are transferred to a live person, try to get them to give you their direct phone number if you want to call back for further information or questions. Almost every employee at the GA DOR has a direct line (and usually a group fax #). Try to get both of these if possible. In my experience, the examiners are more likely to answer a direct call than one routed to them via the Automated Caller Distribution system.
  • Also, try to get the correct spelling of both the first and last name of the employee. Departmental policy changes from year to year, but typically, they are only required to give you their employee ID, but most of the employees will give you their first and last names when requested.
  • Armed with first and last names, the nomenclature for the emails at the DOR is simple: firstname.lastname@dor.ga.gov . So, if you can get the examiner’s first and last name, you can at least email them any future questions.
  • Finally, if you are still unable to get through, there are some backdoor tricks that I have found to be effective. I will be posting about some of these over the next few days, so please subscribe to this blog (in the top right corner of this page) and I’ll let you know when there is an update.

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Story of Historic Photo Revealed


The photo shown below is of Dr. E. Urner Goodman. It was taken in front of the fireplace in his “Brotherhood Lodge” at his home in Bondville, VT, which as you can clearly see in the background. The hearth was constructed of stones and bricks contributed by Order of the Arrow lodges in existence at that time around the country. Notice the “Unami” (WWW #1, Cradle of Liberty Council, Philadelphia, PA) stone and the “Immokolee” (WWW #353, Chehaw Council, Albany, GA) stone in the background.

Copyright 2010 Big Rock Publications, LLC

Photo of Dr. E. Urner Goodman

This photo was taken in preparation for, and as a memento for Passaconaway Lodge #220, who hosted the 1962 Area 1-A Section Conclave in Manchester, NH. The original prints of this photo were presented to Mowogo Lodge #243, Northeast Georgia Council, Athens, GA – now Pendergrass, GA (Displayed since 1962 on the mantle in the Administration Building at Camp Rainey Mountain); Passaconaway Lodge #220, Daniel Webster Council, Manchester, NH; Achunanchi Lodge #135, Choccolocco Council # 1, (1921-99), Anniston, Alabama, AL (Merged); and the photographer.

**An interesting side note is that the original print presented to Passaconaway Lodge may have been lost in a fire in the Lodge at Camp Leo (now called Camp Bell) sometime in the 60’s or 70’s. (This point needs verification).

The photographer relayed the following story about visiting Goodman at his home:

“I had called Goodman several weeks earlier to ask for a chance to stop by and visit him and to invite him to the conclave, for which I was the Section Adviser.

“By this point in his life, Goodman was very famous and was constantly being visited by admirers – scouts and scouters alike from all over the country. I think he was probably the second most famous living scouter in the country behind (William) Green Bar Bill (Hillcourt), even though Goodman was Bill’s boss for about 20 years!

“Over the years, OA Lodges from around the country had given him gifts for visiting their lodges and people were forever bringing him tokens and totems. He had this little museum out behind his house. I think it may still be there. Notice the bricks behind him in the fireplace? They were from stones sent from all over the country from as many lodges as they had back then – there were a lot more of them then than there are now.

“So . . . on the appointed day, the Section Chief and I drove over from New Hampshire to Goodman’s home. We rang the bell, and who should answer, but Goodman himself. The old man was dressed in his regular clothes, which was kind of a shock to us. Because we had met before, he knew me and remembered what I was there for. He said,’ I guess you’ll be wanting a photo. We’ll go down to the lodge for that.’ He invited us in, excused himself, and returned 15 minutes later in full regalia. He wore his dark olive wool dress uniform with all the decorations he had become so famous for, which you can clearly see in the photo.

“Then he invited us down to his Lodge, where we took the photo. He was very cordial and we spent a good hour or so just talking about the Order of the Arrow and Scouting. Goodman told us how he was looking forward to the upcoming conclave and that he would be in proper attire. After he had clearly had enough of us, he apologized and said that he was to meet some other scouts later that day and that he needed to rest.

“It was quite an afternoon, and one that I will always remember. Now that I am older than Goodman himself was on that day, almost 50 years later, I can still remember every detail of Goodman’s uniform.”

If you would like to purchase a reprint of this photo in vibrant full color, click here to visit our store.

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Confessions of an Entrepreneur


Have you ever caught yourself spending more time (and money) on your hobby than on your job?

Do you find your mind wandering when you should be “working”?

I know. I used to do that, too.

 
Here’s my story:
 
I have had a number of real jobs in my life, where I worked for someone else. It wasn’t until I was able to make the leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship that I realized my full potential.
 
Three years ago, after a life changing three-hour meeting with a guy I met through church, who was known as a successful entrepreneur, I left a pretty comfortable position wtih a large government agency in order to start my own business. I had discovered how to carve out a small niche for myself serving the clients of my former employer in a way that they were unable to do themselves www.taxtraxx.com. In the ensuing three years, my partners and I have been blessed to have been able to build that business, and a couple others into profitable, reputable and duplicatable businesses. Let me be frank. We’re not millionaires, and we’re not “overnight success stories”. But, we have been able to carve out our place in the world.
 
As I have converted from employee to entrepreneur, I have been asked to speak to many groups about how to start your own business. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I want to run my own business, but I don’t know what to do,” or, “I wish I had a good idea for a business, but I’m not an idea person.”
 
If you’re someone who is like that – I’d love to connect with you to see how we can equip YOU to do the same thing I did. Let me help you find your big idea. I’m here to help you see how to turn your passions into profits, or, as I sometimes say, “Your Hobbies into Jobbies”. Or, if you are interested in having me speak to your group, leave a comment below.

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Spending the Day at Startup Riot


I’m spending the day today at a fantastic event at the Egyptian Ballroom at the Fabulous Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta call Startup Riot (Twitter @startupriot #startupriot, www.startupriot.com or live feed at www.live.startupriot.com). This is the third annual edition of this local phenomenon where local startup companies can meet any number of potential investors, angels, VC’s or strategic partners.

Each of the 50 companies represented today have three minutes on stage and a maximum of four powerpoint slides to tell their story in front of the 400+ attendees. Then, each company has a display table in a separate ballroom at which they can talk directly to any interested attendees.

A really cool aspect of Startup Riot is that “service providers” (e.g. Law Firms, Accounting firms, phone companies, etc) who provide services to small businesses and startups are not allowed to solicit customers at this event. Man, that’s refreshing, and I applaud founder and organizer Sanjay Parekh (@sanjay) on this wrinkle.

So far, today, about halfway through the event, we have seen and heard about 20 presentations ranging from startups that haven’t really started yet, to companies that have been in existence for several years with established brands – even one who says they aren’t looking for money, but rather strategic partnerships only.

Couple of highlights for me were LessAccounting, who has developed an “accounting system in the clouds” for small businesses to use in place of the ubiquitous #Quickbooks. Allan Branch, founder of LessAccounting (@lessallan) had the best quotes of the day, “All accounting systems suck. Ours just sucks less,” and “Quickbooks Tech support is the number one cause of suicide in the U.S.”

The opening speaker, Bo Peabody, founder of Tripod.com and numerous other companies over the years talked about how to embrace humility in becoming an entrepreneur. He said, of entrepreneurs, “normal people go to work at companies like Procter and Gamble or Coke. If you’re an entrepreneur or go to work for a startup, you are a sociopath.”

There is also a tremendous amount of Twitter traffic flowing throughout the building, with live comments on presenters and companies, the lunch scene, and other aspects of the event.

So far, the event has been fantastic.

You can find out more at www.startupriot.com or follow @startupriot on Twitter.

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Snow Mountain – What to Know if You’re Going


Snow Mountain, in its second year of operation at Stone Mountain Park just east of Atlanta, has had great luck with the weather this year. We took the family yesterday for a two-hour session, and I felt pretty good about the whole deal.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some answers to questions that I had before going.

First, what is it? Snow Mountain features a 400′ tubing hill, which is actually a huge scaffold system covered in man made snow, comprised of 12 lanes. If you’re familiar with Stone Mountain Park, it’s on the lawn where you watch the laser show. Each lane has a staff member who gives you a push over the edge. The first hundred feet or so are probably a 35 to 40 degree drop off, then it levels out and you slide for about another 150 to 200 feet to a dry, carpeted landing zone. You ride in an inner tube, similar to the ones we all used at the pool when we were kids. These are wrapped with a nylon “seat” with handles and a towing strap attached.

The other cool part is a 30,000 sq ft snow play area with plenty of space to throw snowballs, build snowmen (with provided kits of eyes, noses, and scarves). Our children really enjoyed this part.

What to bring? Nothing. They don’t allow any outside equipment, but you don’t really need anything. We were there for a 3pm-5pm session. The temperature was in the mid 40’s and we were all over bundled. There were people there in many various forms of attire, from those who looked like they had just come from church, to those who were dressed like they were climbing Mt Everest. Ski gear is not necessary on the tubing area, because you don’t contact any snow to speak of. You load on a carpeted starting area and end on a carpeted landing area. Just wear enough clothes to stay warm for whatever that day’s weather is, and you’ll be fine. No special attire required. Gloves are handy less because of the weather than having to pull your own tube for two hours.

We were able to make 5 runs during our two hour window. We could have gone for 6 (we had about 10 minutes to spare) but the children (5 and 7) were pretty tired by then. Because they stagger the sessions (i.e. there was a 2-4 session, ours was 3-5 and there was a 4-6 session) there is a window at the end and beginning of each hour when the crowd is cut in half. The folks from the earlier session are leaving and the folks from the next session haven’t started. So, from about 45 minutes after you start to about 45 minutes before your session ends, there is a good half hour in which you will experience very short wait times.

The procedure to get to the top is fairly painless. You start your session at the bottom of the hill and pick up a tube for each person in your party. You’ll keep those tubes the whole session. You then ride a moving sidewalk up the hill. After dismounting the moving sidewalk, you queue for about 600 feet and then walk up a ramp (pulling your tube behind you all this time) straight onto the launch area. Once you get to the to of this final ramp, there is little or no wait. The attendants at the top do a good job of keeping traffic flowing and are very careful to make sure that your lane is clear before launching you. There are raised mounds of snow separating each lane, and, despite my best efforts, I was unable to jump into an adjacent lane. My only word of caution is to avoid lanes 1 and 12, because they have a wall very close to the side – I bonked my head once going down.

So, go ahead and get your reservations, because they are only a few days left this season. You can make your reservations at www.stonemountainpark.com

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Filed under Georgia Government, Social Networking, Twitter, Uncategorized