Ten (people) to follow in 2012

As we enter another New Year it’s time to regroup, to take stock of where we are and where we want to go. Another thing you should also consider from time to time, if you’re looking to become successful in any walk of life, is who you associate with, and who you listen to.

Clock Ticking Down to 2012 - New YearIf you’ve been reading this here blog for any length of time you’ll have heard me talk about aligning yourself with a ‘mastermind group’. This could be a personal mentor, or a select group of people. These will be people who have achieved already what you seek to achieve, and can help guide your thoughts, ideas and actions.

You will not grow as a person if you simply follow someone blindly, but it’s nearly always beneficial to have some kind of support system in place, or at least a sounding board for ideas.

Whilst putting this post together it made me remember what a unique network of smart, accomplished, “walk the talk” individuals I get to connect with. So I’d like to share with you a list of 10 people I shall be following during 2012. You may not always agree with what they have to say, and indeed they will not be right all of the time. But you can take it from me, they will always have your best interests at heart.

This is by no means a definitive list, and it comes in no particular order of merit. Please feel free to suggest other names you think readers should be aware of, and why, and leave your comments below.

Ben Aitken

From Kirkaldy, Fife, in Scotland Ben is a published author, and best known for his horse racing trends book ‘Narrowing The Field – Using The Dosage Method To Win At National Hunt Racing’. Using lesser-known angles is one way to gain an edge in the betting market, and the dosage method is an alternative approach which examines the correlation between pedigree and National Hunt racing. Get to know Ben by visiting his excellent blog at Narrowing-The-Field.co.uk or following him on Twitter

David Renham

Dave Renham is a leading UK horse racing researcher. He currently writes for the Racing and Football Outlook, where his focus is statistical horse racing research. He’s also produced website content for the At The Races website, and he worked for a time as Spotlight in the Racing Post. Quite some CV. Online Dave can be found contributing at RacingTrends.co.uk so go pay him a visit.

Graham Laurie

One of the original and best-known betting system review web sites is the CashMaster Blog set up by Graham Laurie. Today it is one of the most popular review sites around, receiving several thousand unique hits every day, and employing a team of independent volunteer reviewers. With more betting systems and services hitting the market than ever, Graham provides a valuable resource.

Guy Ward

I’ve been a big fan of Guy Ward’s Mathematician Betting web site for several years now. Unlike most wannabe tipsters, Guy has a track record of providing profitable betting advice to clients spanning ten or eleven seasons, and that’s further underlined by personal success betting for profit over several decades. In all fairness, it would be an insult to Guy to refer to him as a ‘tipster’, because the service he provides goes way beyond sending out a couple of tips every day.

Jonathan Burgess

Jonathan is probably best known for his excellent guide ‘False Favourites’ which teaches how to successfully lay horses to lose on Betfair. Indeed, that very same guide has been reviewed here on this very blog. Jonathan is a Betfair Accredited Trainer and has contributed a valuable series of betting tutorials under the Betfair Education section of the official Betfair web site. He publishes the outstanding False Favourites blog and regularly posts useful betting tutorials and articles.

Matt Bisogno

Matt Bisogno writes the superb GeeGeez horse racing and betting blog. He is a genuine punters champion, writes many truly engaging articles, as well as keeping his readers amused throughout the year. Visit his blog at GeeGeez.co.uk and sign up to receive his helpful newsltter.

Michael Wilding

Michael Wilding is the Professor Brian Cox of the horse racing and betting world. He can take what are often quite complex topics from betting theory, and explain them in a way that’s easy to digest, even for those like me who find maths daunting. Michael is the creator of the best-selling Puntology betting course and also the RaceAdvisor web site where you’ll find expert tips, betting systems, analysis and betting advice.

Paul Ruffy

Back in 2005 Paul Ruffy decided he’d had enough of working to someone else’s rules. He handed in his notice and focused solely on his web site Betting Profits Bulletin whilst continuing to hone his betting skills. Seven years on and he is still going strong, sharing the best of what he knows in his popular newsletter. If you have ambitions to generate an extra income from betting, or even to follow Paul into the realms of full-time punter, then jump on board and learn from someone who’s done it already.

Richard Van Orden

Richard Van Orden is the figurehead of what I consider to be one of the most comprehensive betting system review web sites around. However, and I know Richard won’t mind me saying this at all, but it’s fair to say BettingSystemTruths would not provide one tenth the value it does, were it not for the indefatiguable team of independent reviewers behind the scenes. Richard may be the driver, but the reviewers are the engine underneath the hood. This site will save you money, and steer you in the right direction (was that one too many automotive puns?)

Scott Daniels

I’ve known Scott Daniels for many years. We worked together at the same company, we originally started a business together on eBay, and we started SkyBlueKangaroo together. Scott is engaged in a whole host of internet marketing consultancy stuff nowadays, but he still keeps his finger on the pulse of horse racing and betting. He describes his eclectic blog Living On The Edge as a ’stream of consciousness’ but I prefer to call it a mish-mash. Whichever way you want to view it, you’ll often find insighful betting information there.

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Who else should be on this list?

And that’s it. There are several more names I could add to this list, but I’ve deliberately kept it to a round number of ten. If you could propose one more name to make this eleven, who would it be?

 

Matt Bisogno's workshop

No, my fellow TIP’s, I am not writing today about Matt Bisogno’s shed at the bottom of his garden. He may well have a shed; it may well be situated at the far end of his lawn; and perhaps it’s here that he is banished on occasion by Mrs Matt, having partaken in one glass too many of the black stuff of an evening. This is merely conjecture, and not the topic of today’s post.

No, today I want to recount my experience of the business building workshop Matt hosted recently.

I am in the business of marketing on the internet, and I try at least once a year to get myself some education in my chosen field of business, with the aim of becoming better at it, and improving the level of service I provide to my customers. Whatever you do for a living, I’m guessing either your employer invests in your personal training, or if you are self-employed you do the same as me, and invest in yourself.

The problem I found when I first started internet marketing, was who to trust, and who would give me the best value for money. Often I would turn up at a seminar only to find the information given out was vague, and it was basically a two day ‘pitch fest’ for the marketers on stage to sell their own ‘how to make money’ courses to a captive audience. If this wasn’t the case, then the seminar content was invariably generic, and often difficult to translate to my own business.

Over the years I have found myself following only a few key people. I can certainly count them on the fingers of one hand. Call them ‘gurus’ or ‘mentors’ if you like, but these select few are basically those who ‘teach’ on my wavelength, and who I best relate to.

So when I got the opportunity to attend Matt Bisogno’s seminar on building an online business in the horse racing and betting niche, I made sure I was there. Here was someone doing exactly what I do for a living, in the very same market-place, and willing to impart some of his knowledge to help others to the same.

I jumped on the train from Tring, bound for the smoke in London. Actually, it was a gloriously sunny day, and St George’s Day to boot. I took a few minutes in Trafalgar Square, basking in the morning sun and the pride of being, well, English on St George’s Day, before strolling off to the nearby Institute of Directors for 9 o’clock.

It’s an impressive venue, and I was guided downstairs to a meeting room. There were already several other delegates, and Matt greeted me warmly and invited me to grab a coffee. The day kicked off with Matt managing to compress his life story into 10 minutes, before we got stuck into the first main topic.

Matt Bisogno

Matt Bisogno teaches Product Launches

We learned how to use a software tool called Racing System Builder to research and verify profitable betting systems. The thing that I found particularly appealing here was how Matt was keen to impress upon everybody the difference between a non-sensical back-fitted system, and one based upon logic. He explained that it is relatively easy to find a set of filters that produce a profitable, so-called ’system’ from a database of horse racing results. However, if a system is not based first and foremost in logic, then any profit is more likely to be coincidental.

At this point I mentioned a system I remember one of my readers sending in to me, just for fun. He called it The Bridesmaid System. He called it that because when he got married, in June a few years back, the bridesmaids wore purple dresses.  So his system was to back any horse running in June, where the jockey was wearing purple silks. Although he could show the system had historically made a profit, it was a good example of a non-sensical system, not based on any sound horse racing logic. These are the kind of wonder betting systems we all see rolled out week after week by the scumbag systems sellers.

Matt did not want his students to be seduced by the Dark Side, but to use the power of the Force for good!

By contrast, when Matt proceeded to demonstrate how to create a viable betting system, he started from a logical hypothesis. Without going into detail, he first proposed that two year-olds making their second appearance, and after a reasonable period since their last outing to recover, could be expected to improve enough to win. Together we all then proceeded to check the results database to prove this could be developed into a profitable betting system.

We spent considerable time in this area, playing with ideas and databases for most of the morning. Having learned how to research and create a legitimate betting system, rather than tin-pot back-fitted systems, it was time for lunch!

Business building workshop

Following the morning which was aimed at developing a quality product to sell online, the afternoon was geared towards how to package that product (or racing advisory service) and market to a paying audience. We examined various business models, talked about pricing, membership sites, how to get help to create a web site, how to attract visitors to your web site, the basic tools of the trade needed to automate your business, how to conduct a successful product launch, and many other valuable topics. In conclusion, we saw for ourselves how the theory was put into practice as Matt showed us some live footage of several of his own product launches.

All in all, I have to say my day at the Institute of Directors was one of the best learning workshops I have attended. There was a considerable amount of relevent and actionable information for the delegates to take away. Indeed the main reason it has taken me until now to put my experience into words, is that I have spent the last two weeks putting a lot of what I learned that day into action myself, ahead of my own product launch at the end of this month…. watch this space for details of my new service ;o)

In an industry that is littered with nefarious sellers who remain anonymous whilst ripping-off unwary buyers, it was refreshing to meet with a professional marketer who clearly has a passion for his business, and the subject of his business, namely horse racing.

I know he does not conduct these workshops very often, but if your interest has been sparked by this editorial, you can visit Matt Bisogno’s GeeGeez blog and drop him a line to find out more.

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Gremlins, Guinness, and grinding gears

In case anyone was wondering, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’m back, glad to be back, but a disgruntled customer of British Telecom nonetheless. I’ll tell you why I’ve been offline for two weeks further down the page, I’m going to briefly recap on the racing at the weekend, including “that” tumble at Newbury, then give you a preview of what I have planned for SkyBlueKangaroo this week.

OK, where were we? I do believe I was going to report back on an evening of networking with a few other internet scribes. Well, that was the plan, but then in stepped British Telecom. All I wanted to do was move my telephone and broadband from one line to another. The guy on the Business Sales Team was very helpful, very reassuring, very persuasive. But then I guess that is why he works in the sales department, and not in customer services.

Is it me, or does anyone else find that once someone has your credit card number, they suddenly lose all interest in your welfare? No more “Hello Mr Whelan, how has your day been?” In fact a simple “Hello” would have been great! But I’ll get to that in a minute. I had been given Friday 5th as my installation day. I was told I would not even be aware of the change over…. it would be “instantaneous”.

But when I got to my desk on the Friday morning, no line tone! No telephone, and no internet connection!

There then ensued much time on the mobile phone trying to get to the bottom of the seemingly simple change of line. How come the Sales Department pick up the phone after two rings, yet Customer Services always seem to be experiencing an “unusually high volume of calls”?

Long story short, it appeared that BT cut off my old line, and it has taken until the week end just gone to get the new line operational. Just a single new line. Goodness only knows how they manage anything slightly complicated. But what has really got my back up, is how in the eyes of the company you seem to morph from an important potential customer, to something you try to scrape off the bottom of your shoe, just as soon as you make your payment?

I guess I should be used to it… I’ve bought more than a few betting systems in the past, and been treated the same by some scumbag sellers. But not by a FTSE 100 company. Rant over!

On the evening before the start of the British Telecom fiasco, I had the pleasure of meeting up with some fellow internet marketers and blog writers from the horse racing and betting niche. Going around the table there was Graham Laurie from the CashMaster Blog, Matt Watson from Favourites Phenomenon, Matt Nesbitt from Oxfordshire Press, Matt Bisogno from GeeGeez.co.uk, and me. Clearly my mother and father missed a trick when they named me Paul…. obviously you stand a better cahnce of success online if you are called ”Matt”.

Seriously, it was a lively evening of banter as well as an opportunity to bounce ideas off of a few experienced sounding boards. I’m pleased to say there is a lot in the pipleline by way of products and services, aimed at helping the betting public enjoy a flutter whilst avoiding the charlatans who would sell their own granny. Several pints of Guinness and a large Jack Daniels later, it was time to board the late train out of smokey to Tring. Thanks guys and I look forward to our next business meeting.

I’ve mentioned the gremlins, and the Guinness, but what are these grinding gears to which I refer in the title of this post?

Well, to cap what had already been an extremely frustrating week, I went out for a ride on my bike with my cycling buddies a week ago Sunday, and my gears starting slipping. The chain was slipping off the largest rear cog. Anyone who rides a bike will be aware that the largest cog gives you your lowest gear… the easy gear you rely on when faced with a tough incline. So I had to grind my way up the hills in a higher gear than I would have liked, and completely sh*gged myself out after twenty miles. The trouble was, we were doing thirty miles, and I had suffered what is technically known as a “bonk”. No energy left. I was a forlorn figure weakly rolling the last ten miles home back to Tring.

I’m sorry if so far this post is a little on the negative side, and I sound like a grumpy old man. That’s enough now. The phone lines are working, and I’ve got the bike fixed. And I had a bonus piece of good fortune on Saturday.

Similar to most horse racing fans, I was looking forward to watching the mighty Denman in action in the Aon Chase at Newbury. His final prep run before the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, and his showdown with Kauto Star. Surely this would just be a formality? At six to one odds on to back Denman, what was the bet going to be? I had my money on Tricky Trickster each way to fill the runners up spot, so I was a rather fortnunate benefactor when Denman ploughed through the birch to unseat Mr McCoy. We punters suffer many bad beats at the race track each year, so it’s nice to be on the receiving end of a bit of good fortune evey now and then.

Happily Denman seems to have come through the race unscathed, and ironically he may well have done his supporters a favour as his price for the Gold Cup has eased, and offers some value. But his mishap on Saturday just goes to show that the obstacles are there to be jumped, and even the best can get it wrong. Incidentally, I am still in the Kauto Star camp, but I’m not smug, as KS has been known to cause punters to break out in a sweat at the last fence before now. Roll on the festival.

So what is in store this week at SkyBlueKangaroo? My final review of Betting Against Horses For Profit is complete, and ready to be posted. I’ve got what I think is an interesting piece on speed figures to put up. And on Friday I shall be previewing the racing for the coming weekend, which includes the Blue Square Gold Cup at Haydock, the Ascot Chase, and the Kingwell Hurdle.

I got rubbed up the wrong way by British Telecom. Do you have any stories of customer service failure? Have you been ever made to feel a third rate human being, much less a customer, nor were you categorically NOT given the service you expected? Leave your comments below.