How to deal with excruciatingly dull meetings at work

Office Space GIFThis week I was interviewed by The Telegraph newspaper on that bugbear of corporate life, the meeting.

My main focus is always on how to avoid the whole world of pointless meetings by exiting corporate life but I've also picked up a few strategies for better meetings along the way.

The piece includes the story of my worst meeting ever:

The Telegraph – How to deal with excruciatingly dull meetings at work

Telegraph Meetings article

Radio interview

The Telegraph article led BBC Wales to give me a call to speak on their morning radio show - listen below...

How to get established quickly when you’re just starting out

When you're starting out on your own, it's hard to imagine how you can compete with the big players in your field. How can your idea for a book on personal finance possibly stack up against Rich Dad Poor Dad?

How can your idea for a time management app succeed when there are so many other apps out there? How can you get noticed as an NLP practitioner in a sea of similarly qualified people?

Well I have a strategy I teach in the Screw Work Academy IDEA LAB to solve this exact problem.

I call it superniching.

Don't take on the big players at their own game, instead choose a very particular corner of the world and set out to provide the very best service/product/event/blog for it.

“If you want to be the best in the world, 
make your world smaller”
– Seth Godin

A superniche can be a very particular kind of person. Your time management app could be designed entirely for visually-minded or 'right-brained' people (a group very poorly serviced at the moment).

Or your superniche could be a very particular problem you solve. If you've got yourself out of personal debt and learned a lot along the way, your finance book could be focussed purely on that.

Don't try to emulate the giants

If you look at the giants in your field and try to copy them you won't succeed. That's because those giants usually started out by superniching too.

Facebook may be the #1 global social network now but when it launched it was strictly only available for Harvard students (you had to have a Harvard email address to register). Then it was rolled out to other US colleges, then UK colleges, and finally the general public.

Oh and it looked a little different back then:

Facebook - Harvard

Starting out with a very particular niche didn't slow down Facebook's progress, it sped it up. It allowed Facebook to spread quickly throughout Harvard and go on to dominate other groups even though there were several other more well established social networks available at the time.

How can you superniche?

Which specific group of people could you help? Or what problem are you best placed to help people with?

Whether you end up providing a service, writing a blog or book, launching an online business, running events, or creating an app, the same principle applies.

Find out how to positively impact one very particular group or problem. If you can do that, then you can expand from there – or you might just find you can make a great living with your favourite little niche.


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How to create a PayPal button and add it your website or blog

One of the very simplest ways to start making money on your website or blog is to create a PayPal buy button.

Here's my short video showing exactly how to do it:

Want to learn more?

Sign up to get more tips and strategies to get paid to do what you love.

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Making your first 10k doing something you love

When you make your first £10,000 (or $ or €) doing something you love, you never forget it.

It's one thing to make a few pounds/bucks here and there but it's another altogether to make that first 10k.

And that's because, as I discovered earlier on in my career, that the activities that could make 10k go on to become significant income streams or even 6-figure businesses.

12 years ago this month I quit my job and declared publicly that I never wanted another job for the rest of my life.


The first thing I did as a stepping stone was to land myself a short consultancy gig at the BBC and walk away with £12,000. I knew then that consultancy was going to work out for me (and indeed it made me more than my previous salary but in a quarter of the time).

Similarly at Screw Work Let's Play HQ when my first group programme made £10k in a few months I knew that the only way was up. I then launched my first large scale programme that made £15,000 in a few weeks. (The same programme later went on to make £50,000 in the same timeframe)

So that threshold of 10k is an important landmark.


How do you get to 10k?

If you're not already there, how do you get to the point of making your very first 10k from something you love doing?

Well I've boiled it to down to a progression of 6 steps - right from the beginning when you don't even have an idea of what you're going to try to make money out of.

The key is to focus on just one of the steps at a time.


Here are my "6 Steps to 10k":

1: Generate dozens of candidate ideas
(this is actually very easy when I show you how to do it properly)

2: Evaluate your options quickly & choose your basecamp idea - a starting point for something you'll enjoy doing and that can make proper money 

3: Take your basecamp idea & make something of your own out of it - something that stands clear from all the competition

4: Choose one of a dozen easy monetisation methods for your idea

5: Make your first thousand - when you know how, you can do this without elaborate marketing strategies and without even having a website. Make a £/€/$1000 and you know your new thing is something that people will pay for

6: Your 6-figure strategy - choose your strategy for recurring income and scaling to 6 figures, build your platform of prospects/readers/raving fans and hit that all important first 10k

Because when you can make 10k, you can make another and another and another...


When you know how each step really works it is a lot simpler than you would imagine. That's not to say it's effortless of course; you'll learn a whole heap of fascinating stuff at every step and develop yourself enormously.

But the payoff is profound.

You feel like a different person when you've been through the whole process of finding something to pursue, making it happen, and making some proper money out of it.

At that point, freedom is in your sights - making a great income from something that you care about and that really excites you.


I've got to be honest though, getting through these steps on your own is hard. Most of us have been misinformed about how this whole process works and on top of that it's difficult to maintain the motivation and discipline when you're doing it alone.

Fortunately you don't have to.

I've seen the transformational effect on participants of my programmes from being in a like-minded group and from having a clear plan to follow with regular expert input.

So I decided to create something new to lead people through the 6 steps to 10k

It's called IDEA LAB and it's the result of my work with 150 people over the last two years in the Screw Work Academy – people who have gone on to create hit blogs, get paid for their creative work, write bestselling books and quit their jobs.


Read all about it on the new website - click the logo below:



If you need to ask something before you book your place on IDEA LAB, there is a chat button on the site where you can leave a message for the team or even speak to me live.




PS. There are currently some specially discounted places available for people who take action quickly. The details are on the IDEA LAB page

If you’re trying to choose an idea, STOP!

To start making money without a job you need an idea for something to do, right? Some kind of business idea or other money-making idea.

And if you can't think of a specific idea to start then there's nothing you can do until you happen upon one.

At least that's what we're taught to believe.

Well I'm here to tell you to STOP looking for an idea.

Call off the search for a fully formed idea that's ready to fly.


Because that's not how ideas are found. And believing that you should wait around until something falls out of the sky (or the deepest recesses of your subconscious) leaves you completely stuck - as you might have noticed  :)

Here's what to do instead

base-campDon't look for a specific business idea or book idea or blog idea or anything else ready to go.

Focus instead on finding a basecamp idea.

A basecamp idea is a step in the right direction. It's simply choosing which mountain you want to climb.

Then you can choose the specific route you're going to take to the summit later.

Your basecamp idea will probably sound too vague if you said it aloud to other people but that's OK because it's simply a means for you plot a path you want to explore some more.

An example basecamp idea would be to explore non-fiction book topics, or to experiment with possible iPad apps, to develop some kind of event, or to find ways to help people in a particular situation, or a fun way to use a particular skill you have.

Whatever it is for you, it's a million times more useful than sitting and doing nothing because you "don't have any ideas". Once you're at basecamp and immersed in exploring the area, that's when you'll start to get real inspiration to create something great.

What's your basecamp idea?

What could you choose as a rough direction to head in? What's the basecamp you're heading for? Leave a comment and let me know.

Finding your basecamp idea is step 2 of 6 in IDEA LAB - my new programme to find your 6-figure idea and make your first £10k out of it.

Read about the other steps and check out the earlybird offer on IDEA LAB here


What to do when you want to start doing what you love but you need money now

So you want to start doing what you love but you also need money - you know, for rent and food and similar luxuries. What do you do?

This comes up a lot and the most pressing version of it is when someone has just left their job. The freshly escaped 'player' rushes headlong into writing their book or blog or starting an online shop. But as time goes on and little or no money rolls in, they start to panic and lose faith in what they're doing - perhaps they're being unrealistic and should go back and beg for their old job?

The next day they read something inspiring and, feeling emboldened, double their commitment to their new line of work... until the mortgage is due and they lose their confidence again.

What's the solution?

The solution to the panic and flip-flopping is to stop thinking of your choices as either/or.

Start thinking in terms of two tracks running in parallel, at least for a while.

Two tracks by Triviaking one is the thing that makes you money right now.

It's something you can win work in fairly quickly (in a few weeks) because you have skills, experience and a proven track record you can point to.

Track two is the thing you love that you might need to learn new skills and establish new contacts in.

So it's likely to be a while to get to the point you can make money out of it - months rather than weeks. And probably longer than that before it makes enough to completely replace your current source of income.

The less this new work bears in common with your career to date, the longer it is likely to take.

That's why you need track one to keep you afloat in the meantime. Then you can take that paralysing pressure off yourself.

What does track one look like?

If you've already got a job then this could be your track one. You might be keen to get out of the job but unless it's really terrible (e.g. a toxic working environment / very long hours), you might be surprised how your attitude changes once you see your job as supporting you while you launch your track two on the side. Now rather than being a burden it's part of your escape plan.

If your job is in danger of burning you out or if you've already jumped (or been pushed) then one option is to find what Barbara Sher calls 'a good enough job' - something that pays you enough, doesn't demand excessive hours, and suits you well enough that it doesn't drive you crazy or leave you drained at the end of the day.

It's surprising how often people give up on their dream and then get what seems like the worst imaginable job almost as if they are punishing themselves - for instance creative people taking the most mundane office admin jobs. Instead, think of what is the best possible version of your old work and go hunt for that.

Aside from a job you could also try temping, freelancing or contracting in the field you already know.

Once you've got that sorted you can turn your attention to starting what you really love on the side. And you'll be in a much calmer and more creative state of mind when you don't have to worry how you'll pay the next month's rent.

At some point down the line when you're making good money from your track two you'll be ready to finally give up track one. Or you might even find an interesting way to merge the two tracks using the best of both.


Has this been helpful to you? What are your two tracks? Leave a comment and let me know...

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Fancy a little bit on the side? (The easier way to start a business)

Last week I asked Screw Work readers a question: "What do you most need help with now in your journey to get paid to do what you love?". I received hundreds of responses that fell into a number of clear categories - from "I don't yet have an idea to start" to "I have several ideas but can't choose" to "I'm making my main income from my own idea, how do I make even more?"

Over the next few weeks I want to answer the biggest and most common questions here on the blog. I'm sure wherever you are, I'll be able to help.

So let's start at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start apparently).

What if you don't have an idea yet?

If you want to escape the world of jobs and make a living doing what you love you'll need to choose something to do. That might be freelancing, consulting, advising, blogging, writing books, speaking, an online shop, creating app, running events, or any number of things that you can start without sinking a lot of money into it.

But what if you don't have an idea for anything to start?

Well you're certainly not alone for a start. In the survey, Tara in London said that what she most needed help with was, "Working out what I would enjoy doing for a living" and Anne in Australia said, "Deciding what I want to do with the rest of my biggie" (Ha!). Rick on the south coast of England said his concern was "Breaking away from current role without the fear of risking family security".

And there were many others in a similar position.

To address these issues we need to tackle two deeply embedded myths drummed into you by school, careers counsellors, employers and many others.

#1: The Career Myth

You've been taught from a young age to think in terms of careers - a full-time vocation that you are dedicated to long term. But the career is a concept from the last century.

It's time to let it go.

Almost no one has a job for life any more and very few stay in one field for their whole working life. And starting something of your own is even more flexible. So you're not choosing for life – or even for a year. You're just choosing for right now.

It is however worth building skills and knowledge that you can use in other projects even if you change direction. Developing skills in an area like writing, speaking, managing projects, handling finances, marketing, using online systems, or working with others will stand you in good stead wherever life takes you.

#2: The Big Leap Myth

Because our model of work is based on jobs and careers we think starting something of our own works the same way - quit your job, dive head first into something new and pray that it works.


If you want to start a traditional business that requires funding, premises and staff that might be true but there are so many easier ways to make a living - and they're safer too.

Here's a better way to approach it.

Start a little something on the side

Write down everything you think you might enjoy doing and have some ability for (even if it's a bit of a guess).

Choose your favourite based on 3 things: it excites you, you bring some skills, knowledge, talents or other assets to it, and you think it might be interesting or useful to others. As for making money, if other people are making a successful living out of something very similar then that means people are willing to pay.

Then find a way to start experimenting with it on the side.

Don't quit your job, or wait until you know what you want to do with the rest of your life. If it turns out it's a bad fit for you change it and try something else. If it's working for you you can scale it up and try to make your first money from it.

Even if you change your mind completely starting something on the side is almost never a complete waste of time. You'll be flexing your entrepreneurial muscles and practicing putting yourself out in the world and those are skills that will benefit pretty much any project you pursue next – even if later you decide you want to create a much bigger business like a tech startup.

So what are you going to start on the side? Or what have you already started?

Leave a comment and let me know...

What story is calling to you in 2015?

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 has started well for you. I've just returned from a month-long holiday in Singapore and the Philippines, where I had a great time exploring both remote islands and big cities.

John at Ku De Ta

No holiday of mine would be complete without an excessively large collection of books to read. I managed to narrow my selection for this trip down to a mere 5 books (not including 4 travel guides!)

One of these was Donald Miller's A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - which I saw in author Barbara Winter's list of "25 books I could never part with".

Barbara is one of the best storytellers I know so it was interesting to discover that Donald Miller's book is all about stories - how they work in movies and how they work in our lives. And this turned out to be a great topic to explore at the beginning of a new year.

Donald's story

After writing several books (at least one of which had been quite successful), Donald Miller found his life had gotten into a bit of a rut. One day some film-makers call him up and tell him they want to turn his bestselling autobiographical book Blue Like Jazz into a movie. After he gets over his initial shock, the film-makers come and stay with him for several months to work on the script together.

This inspires Donald to learn more about how stories work. He attends Robert McKee's famous Story Seminar for scriptwriters and realises that everything he is learning also applies to his own life. One of the most important rules of stories is that a character "is what he does". You can't tell a reader of a novel or the audience of a movie that your protagonist is heroic, they have to do heroic things. You can't say they're a good person, they must do good things.

Donald realises he has been spending too much time sitting at his computer, or on the sofa watching TV. This is not a good story for a movie – or for a life. So he sets out to live a better story and takes on some big challenges. He gets in contact with his father who he hasn't seen for decades, he hikes the Inca trail (despite being quite unfit), and he cycles across America. He learns to notice whenever he feels "a story calling to me".

A good story is not an easy story

Donald MillerDonald also makes the point that interesting stories are not meant to be easy. Think of any great movie or novel and there is hardship along the way. The same is true when we set out to make something important happen in our own lives.

His analogy is of an arduous boat trip. And to me it perfectly echoes those early stages of starting to do what you love and get paid for it:

It's like this when you live a story: The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative, and you're finally out in the water; the shore is pushing off behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The distant shore doesn't seem far, and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of your boat and walking the distant beach. You think the thing is going to happen fast, that you'll paddle for a bit and arrive on the other side by lunch.

But the truth is, it isn't going to be over soon...

The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It's about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.


I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.

This is what I see so many people do when the going gets tough in their journey to make a living doing what they love; they go looking for another story – only to find that it too gets hard in the middle. But the rewards only come to those who keep going:

It's like this with nearly every crossing, and with nearly every story too. You paddle until you no longer believe you can go any farther. And then suddenly, well after you thought it would happen, the other shore starts to grow, and it grows fast. The trees get taller and you can make out the crags in the cliffs, and then the shore reaches out to you, to welcome you home, almost pulling your boat onto the sand.

What story is calling to you?

So in 2015, what story is calling to you to be lived? What story is important enough to you that you're willing to stick at it even when it takes longer than you hoped and has more setbacks than you would have wished? Because that story is the one that holds the real rewards - both for the life that awaits you on the other side and for who you will need to become along the way.

I'm here to help.


Playing from your heart

Our last Screw Work Let's Play 30 Day Challenge just recently finished and as I reflect on all the wonderful projects launched in 30 days a theme strikes me - that the real 'challenge' for the participants is to dare to do something they care about and put it out into the world.
Jerry Hyde

I learned a lot about daring to be different and playing from the heart from one of my mentors who I've been been working with for more than a decade. His name is Jerry Hyde and what he does defies categorisation - sitting somewhere between therapy, coaching, advising, and group facilitation. 

Jerry is the person who inspired the title Screw Work Let's Play and I'm excited to be able to announce that he's released his first book. And in typical Jerry-style, it's not quite like a normal book.

First off it's called "Play From Your Fucking Heart" and rather than trying to adopt some writerly tone, Jerry writes like he speaks and he shares his own failings as well as some great wisdom.

When I was thinking of an appropriate quote for his book I came up with, "Jerry's book will ruin your life - and you'll thank him for it". And what I mean by that is when you truly accept some of what Jerry writes about you won't have any choice to live a different way - a way that's more authentic and more in touch with the reality of life.

I asked Jerry to answer some questions about the book for Screw Work readers and here's what he said:

So Jerry Hyde, what do you do? 

People call me a Gonzo therapist which means I break a lot of rules - for example, I despise the notion of a code of ethics - any code risks becoming dogma.  I devise a taylor made code of conduct with everyone that I work with.  It means I have to be conscious of an individual's needs and personal boundaries rather than following a prescription.  I wear my dysfunction on my sleeve and lead by example.  And I'm a therapy lab rat - if I hear of something challenging that seems to help people I'll go and do it - if it lives up to the hype I'll turn my people onto it but I'll never ask anyone to do anything that I'm not willing to give a go.      

Do you have any career/business goals? What are they if so?

To single handedly destroy the myth that therapists are 'sorted' and therefore superior beings.  We're all wounded and we're all trying to evolve. As I say in the book, "sadly there’s more and more battery-farmed therapists around than ever who read their Jung and Freud but never did an hour’s work on themselves – I say get a fuckup any day, just make sure they’re one step ahead and there are no blood stains on the couch." 

What is your book Play from fucking heart about?

It's subtitled 'a somewhat twisted escape plan for people who normally hate self-help books.'  Kinda does what it says on the can using everyday language in an attempt to make what can be heady psychotherapeutic models accessible and understandable.     

Were you worried the swearword in the title might turn some people off or cause PR problems for you?

I never envisioned the book being a mainstream thing, its whole ethos is the exact opposite, and so I wasn't really bothered about WH Smiths and that gave me a whole lot of freedom when it came to just expressing what I felt was important to say.  And it didn't do John Parkin any harm... 

Who is this book for?

Again, a quote from the book answers that best: "I realised that there was a gap in the market for a more ‘twisted’ self-help book, a book for people who wouldn’t normally be seen dead reading a self-help book – fucked up rock’n rollers, scooter riding creatives, left-field crazies, dope fiends, Hoxton untouchables, underground eccentrics, midlife burn-outs and hipsters trapped in mainstream suits and lives wanting an escape plan.  Those of you who, dare I say, it, live on the ledge ... beyond the edge. My kinda people. Outsiders." 

How did you get the idea for your book?

I was laying on my couch when the original working title popped into my head.  It was 'The Keith Richards Health Plan'.  Up until then I couldn't see any reason to write a self-help book in an already flooded market, but when I got the working title I thought - oh yeah... I could write that book.  Keith's people obviously thought differently. 

What do you believe the key to happiness is?

By not trying to be happy.  Accepting everything that life throws at you - and by accept I don't mean give up or don't try to improve, but don't get stuck in moaning about the things you don't like, take every experience as a learning opportunity.  Resistance to painful experiences tends to prolong them. 

What is your advice for people who don't know what they want to do with their life?

Do what you love, risk everything on an imaginative vision or by indulging your creative passion, fall on your arse often and get straight back up, entertain the idea that you could find your life's purpose in your heart, not your head.  Do what turns you on the most, and whatever you do, don't make sensible career decisions, make wild and crazy career decisions.   

You work mostly with creative people, and some very successful ones at that. What do you see as the common thread that has contributed to your clients' creative success?

See above.  They never listened to the voice in their head that told them to get a normal job.   

You've been very successful in your field - running multiple men's groups, vision quests in the UK and Tasmania, and an annual event event you've dubbed 'Manstock'. What's your advice for people who want to stand out and be successful in a crowded marketplace? 

Like the book, it's incredibly simple.  Follow your truth, be yourself and you'll always stand out, fitting in with the crowd is called camouflage and whilst that's great in the army it's useless in the marketplace.


If all this chimes with you, why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present?


Buy Play From Your Fucking Heart on Amazon here

Play from f**king heart

Alternatively you can read more about the book on the book website here or check out Jerry's work with clients here

And... if Jerry's style doesn't click with you that's OK. When you're authentic and make a strong statement, not everyone is going to resonate with it and not everyone is going to like you.

I am taking a long holiday in Singapore and the Philippines over the Christmas break. I hope whatever you're doing for the holidays you have the kind of celebration you want.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


What dreams have you left behind?

We need to talk... about all those things you'd love to do, love to create, love to make happen...  
...but which have been left behind like this lonely little doggie :)
Lonely puppy
Am I making you feel guilty yet? :)
We all have ideas for things we'd love to do – blogs that would be fun to write, events that would be amazing to run, book ideas you daydream about getting published, an exhibition you'd love to hold or art project you'd love to do, website or business ideas that pop into your mind, and perhaps even exciting new career ideas.
But then something gets in the way. You can't see a way to do it without spending a fortune or quitting your job first. Or it's just too damn scary. Or you can't see how it could ever make money. Or you just can't seem to make the time.

So you procrastinate. Or you try to start and your perfectionism gets in the way. Or you hit an obstacle you can't see a way around.
So your idea gets left behind like the little fella above.

Sarah Weiler knows this all too well.
Sarah started writing funny songs to cope with the stress of being a teacher.
She even had a go at performing one on stage once. It went down well so she started thinking about running her own comedy event with several performers.
Then suddenly 4 years passed and she hadn't got round to creating her event.

That happens surprisingly regularly. (It certainly happened to me before I learned how to make my ideas happen.)
So when Sarah saw me emailing about the 30 Day Challenge back in May she was inspired but thought that she could perhaps set her own deadline and use that as motivation.
Then she admitted to herself that she wouldn't really do it.
In fact she told me this week when we had a chat on the phone that part of the power of the 30 Day Challenge is that paying for it makes you determined to follow through!

So she joined the Challenge and she decided to do something very brave.
She set a date for her comedy event for just after the end of the Challenge and spent her 30 days finding a venue and performers, writing material, setting up a facebook event, and inviting people to come along.

That's how on the 10 July I found myself travelling to Kennington to attend the inaugural Laughing Stag comedy night. In the packed room there I met lots of the 30 Day Challenge community there who had come along to support Sarah.
And you know what? It was bloody brilliant!

Sarah's songs (including one about MP Michael Gove) were superbly funny. And every other performer Sarah invited had me and the rest of the audience laughing out loud too.
It was a cracking night and Sarah even made money out of it. And it was all pulled together from scratch within 30 days using the techniques we teach in the Challenge.
Sarah Weiler performing at her comedy event

Now Sarah's made it a monthly event and has already booked some standups off TV shows like 8 out of 10 cats.

This week when Sarah saw that we are about to kick off what could be the last ever 30 Day Challenge she emailed her friends to encourage them to join. And she copied me in so I could see what she saying.

Here's what she said in her own words:

Hello lovely creative people,

I just wanted to let you know that the (possibly last ever) 30 Day Challenge is starting again in November.

I honest can't recommend it highly enough. It's the course I did in June which gave birth to my now monthly comedy night (the first of which paid for the 30 day challenge).

It's a mixture of playing out and finding the stuff you love, dedicating time to lost passions and pastimes, a real focus on specific goals you want to achieve as well as being part of an incredibly positive and inspiring online community of 300 people all over the world. There is a coach online every day and each morning you're given a daily buzz with advice, reflections and success case-studies.

The amount that everyone achieves in that short space of time is unbelievable and only requires 20 minutes time a day. So log off Tinder early, do it over dinner, or watch a shorter episode on Netflix. However you want to fit it in!

It's basically 30 days of working towards a goal, with a deadline and with a massive community to support you.

If anyone wants to ask me any questions about it I would be happy to answer!


So what ideas have you left behind?
What dreams, ideas and projects could you dust off if you had some expert guidance and the incredible rush of 200+ supportive people cheering you on?

Let me know in a comment below and let's see what we can make happen


Meanwhile this last ever 30 Day Challenge is now nearly half full.