Viralogy’s awesome guide for Optimizing Apparel eCommerce Conversions

How to Optimize your Apparel eCommerce Site

My company Viralogy is working hard to help online retailers get higher traffic and conversions. Here’s a guide that can significantly improve the conversion rates of apparel sites. It would be awesomely amazing if you can forward it to your friends who run online retailing sites so they can learn how to improve their performances! Any feedback is welcomed!

A Personal Update from Chou

Long time no blog

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. Things have been crazy for me as I have experienced some of the most challenging events in my life in 2010. I have been extremely busy due to Viralogy and some personal issues, so I haven’t been able to write much. However, every time I check Google Analytics I still see that a good chunk of my daily traffic is from Direct Traffic (meaning people typed in “http:yukaichou.com” in their URL bars). If you found my site because you clicked on a link or searched for some content, that is fine. But for those who make an effort to see if there’s anything new I have to say, I do feel apologetic for disappointing you in the past 6 months. I owe an update to you. I’ll try to share as much as I can about everything that is going on in my life, but some things are truly quite personal so I’ll keep it somewhat vague.

Ending of a relationship

Personal life in 2010 has mostly been slumpy. My beloved girlfriend of two years and I broke up due to the long distance and some differences in values. The break up itself was somewhat smooth, but the aftermath became very ugly. I thought I would be okay and can simply focus on work, but it simply devastated me. For the first time in my life I told my team that I needed some time off. I thought a week would be enough, but the effects of having someone you loved very deeply attack you for no reason hurts – really really badly. I’ve never really experienced this in my life, but it felt like there was a fire burning in my head, vaporizing my thoughts. I couldn’t really think, and I could barely feel. All there was was this burning burning burning in the head. Breathing kinda sucked, and my sight was darkened. Yes, it seems like this is something you read in novels, but that’s really how I felt….for 30 minute durations during those bad moments. For being known as one of the most emotionally stable person among my friends, this was quite new to me. I DO NOT want to have this feeling ever again in my life.

Family Stuff

At the exact same time, I went through one of the most trying times I’ve had in my family. Since this is very personal and highly related to my family members, I won’t share much. Just know that there were dark moments where I couldn’t see any hope, and I was required to take the role of moderating what I didn’t want to see happen. Luckily, this issue turned out alright a few months later, but the process was quite draining indeed.

Shortly after, I learned that my grandfather unexpectedly passed away. He was 92 and lived a good life, but it was still a huge shame that I couldn’t see him as his only grandson for the past 4 years due to Taiwan’s military draft. I learned that he called out for my name multiple times in his hospital bed, and was disappointed when I wasn’t there. Fortunately, due to new regulations in Taiwan, I was allowed to visit Taiwan for two weeks and attend his funeral (I am in Taiwan right now writing this).

What made me very sad about the situation is my grandmother. She is 82, and despite having a very healthy body, she has some memory issues. She keeps on forgetting and relearning/reexperiencing my grandfather’s death. Sometimes she would notice something and ask, “Did your grandfather pass away?” I would tell her he passed away two weeks ago. She would then react in devastation and say, “How come I didn’t know this? How come no one told me?” and then start to cry. I have never seen my grandmother cry before this.

What makes things worse, is that the government is taking away her house that she has been living in for sixty years. These houses were giving to veterans in the early days, and now the government plans to rebuild them into high-rise apartments for the private sector. Of course the government is compensating my grandmother for a new place to live, but having such big changes in her life can really be detrimental to her emotional health. Especially with her memory issue, it would be pretty awful if she suddenly forgets where she is at and think she is being kidnapped by her helper that she has never seen before. I wish I could help more but I still have my residency status problems that wipe me of the stability I need to take care of people.

International Status

Speaking of that (okay, I promise I am close to finishing my list of complaints :P), my international status has truly been a pain in the butt for me. Because I don’t have citizen or green card status for the US nor Canada, my company can make money, but it cannot pay me a salary since all income opportunities should be reserved for citizens. My status does not even qualify for a McDonald’s job to support my living and can only hangout with my savings as she continues to lose weight (although sometimes family members and occasional speaking/consulting gigs would feed her). Even more ridiculous is that I need to enroll in local colleges to ensure I have status in this country. Being an entrepreneur without income is tough enough. Now try paying worthless tuition (need full-time status) and spending useless time for classes I don’t need in a local college, despite having a decent degree from UCLA. Do that for three years, and it’s understandable that it’s relatively hard to be the one that is always positive and bringing everyone up in difficult situations.

An interesting note is that, my case is so extreme that I received a call from the New York Mayor’s office and they wanted to use me as a great case study to push through the new Startup Visa regulation. “Look how sucky this guy’s life is trying to make this country better. We need new laws!” It is quite sad being in a country that doesn’t want you there to create jobs and innovation, but instead strips away your rights as a basic human being.

New Relationship

On a brighter side, I have a new girlfriend now. I met her at church in the SF Bay Area and we love each other very dearly and passionately. It’s still early in the relationship so it’s hard to make any final conclusions, but so far it seems like we both know how to appreciate each others’ best qualities. We really make each other better.

The only problem is, my mother completely dislikes her and says she will never accept my new girlfriend, mostly because my girlfriend is significantly older than I am. Lets just say she is 10-15 years older than I am, towards the less conservative side. Yea, it’s okay to gasp right now. I understand 🙂 But I really didn’t know our age difference was that huge. I thought she was 4-5 years older than I was, and she thought I was maybe 4-5 years younger than her. When I found out our age differences, we were already kinda together and I truly truly like who she is, so I decided that who she is was more important than her age.

She does look pretty young (as well as her personality), as most of my friends guess that she is 27-29. This elder lady in her 60s even thought we were the same age. I understand that one day she will grow and look older, but I think love is more than that. Can a man love an unattractive woman? Of course! Can a man continue to love a woman after she gains 30lbs? Of course. As an entrepreneur, I go for the optimistic outcome, no matter how unlikely, but am ready to take responsibility for the decisions I make in my life.

Some challenges

But my parents don’t think so. I’ve gotten into so many fights with my mother because of this, to the extent that she’s on the merge of disowning me. Needlesstosay, this has been rather disheartening too. I understand where she is coming from, as most parents wouldn’t accept this, but I also think that I should be the one that decides who I love and who I want to spend the rest of my life with, not someone else. Luckily, Angel also understands my mother’s position and have been patiently supporting me emotionally on all battlefields in my life. We have both been praying patiently for this.

Of course, another issue is timing. I would like to have kids one day. However, if I wait it out till I feel like everything is ready, she might not be at the right age for that anymore. Of course I’m not going to be the type that marries a women he meets in Las Vegas 24 hours prior. We would still want to wait a couple years. I just can’t wait for 5-7 years before we get married. Hopefully in this time period, people around would slowly accept our situation instead of disdain it. It would suck if my parents do not show up at my wedding.

Misc info

Hmmm, other random questions you might have on your mind: No, she has not married before and does not have kids. She did not marry because she was in a 7-year relationship that didn’t pan out, and before that a 4-year relationship that didn’t pan out. She is Taiwanese (just like me), is a working professional in San Francisco and has a very stable lifestyle. She also loves the Lord more than anything else and she makes me a better Christian. She is okay that I’m an entrepreneur. I interact with her the same way I interact with any past girlfriends, and nothing is unnatural.

I know this is a very gossip-worthy topic, and being open as I am (that’s what I teach in social media, after all), I can’t stop people who know me from talking about this. But I do ask this: please don’t make any assumptions about who she is, who I am, or the reasons why we are together. I already know this is going to be a less than smooth path, and people will says things that are unkind and inaccurate, but I would appreciate you as my friend or blog reader not being in that group.

Work

Work has actually been pretty good for me in 2010. My company has had more progress than any other year in the past. We have started to attract more customers, investors are getting more interested as we move forward in our fundraising goals, and the team is finally full-time together. I also got invited to be a small guest lecturer at a course in Stanford early next year, which is definitely pretty neat. Obviously there’s still struggles every week and new crisis to manage all the time, but all in all, the company is in great shape and we are looking to make our mark in this world as entrepreneurs and innovators.

Being a hero

Another interesting event is that my previous chess student from years back wrote me an email saying he has a school assignment that requires him to interview someone he considers his hero. He wanted to interview me. Naturally that made me feel pretty good. He sent me over a dozen questions, and the first one read, “Have you ever saved a life? If so, how?” Wow, this school assignment sure has some high prerequisites for being a hero. Luckily, it turns out that I have saved a life before. Once I wrote a blogpost on Asian culture, and unexpectedly a reader emailed me and told me on which exact date he attempted suicide in the past but failed. He was then going to do his second attempt, but decided to go online for some answers before doing it. He stumbled upon my blog, and some how it made him decide not to end his life anymore. This was years back, and we still stay in touch today. So thank you blog for giving me the opportunity to do this and not fail my chess student’s interview! I wish I had more time to update this blog.

Conclusion

This is probably the only blogpost I wrote that focuses on my personal life way more than my work. Before I view my blog as sharing my professional experiences and knowledge (if you call it that) to help others. When I’m busy, I feel like all my “working time” needs to be devoted to running the business instead, especially when what I do is already hard to appreciate. But for this post, I guess I treat it like sharing my thoughts and feelings with my personal friends. This post is more for me than anyone else.

After all of this, I am still the same person. I will still work with much hope and optimism. I will still always be there for friends and strangers who need me. I will continue to do my best to create value and bring innovation to this world. And I will always live my life with love, faith, and hope.

I know some people write personal entries to the world and it comes back to bite them when unexpected individuals read them. I hope this doesn’t happen to me. If you read all the way up to here, you are a true friend that cares about me. You should say hi 🙂

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Lifestyle Gamification Coaching: helping you master the Game of Life

Power

Lifestyle Gamification Coaching: Life Coaching for highly motivated and ambitious individuals

Lifestyle Gamification Coaching. That’s basically teaching people how to become powerful in whatever fields they are in and things they care about. It is similar to the common Life Coaching, but more geared towards ambitious individuals who does not just want to live a comfortable and stable life but want to become the best in what they do and become influential and impactful in this world.

This would be an extension to the Lifestyle Gamification concepts that I created in 2005. (Check here to see my presentation at Google on it)

Is Power Bad?

I first want to make a disclaimer that “Power” has a slightly negative connotation, as people say “power corrupts” and how the rule of nature is the “powerful exploiting the weak.” However, I believe power itself is neutral.

Power just allows one to make something happen, so it could be used to do extreme good, or extreme evil. In the context of this blog, Power simply means being resourceful and influential enough to create an impact in whatever you care about.

Finally, since I like to draw analogies from the gaming world to this world, Power is just a common phrase in being really strong at something (and isn’t that where a lot of passions lie? Many people couldn’t do what they want in the real world so they decide to be a hero in a virtual world).

Again, I am not teaching you how to gain “freedom” or create passive income that allows you to chill at the beach all day. Sure, these would be very useful in becoming powerful, but that’s not the end goal. The goal is not to let you live a “free” life but to let you live a “fulfilling” life. It’s the life of “With great power, comes great responsibilities.”

If you were playing a game and you had absolute “freedom” in running around, going to town, the fields, eat and buy stuff, but you don’t have a mission, would that be fulfilling? Probably not.

This blog will be about how to beat the game.

Continue reading Lifestyle Gamification Coaching: helping you master the Game of Life

Yu-kai Chou of 2010

Today is the first day of a new decade.

Yes, some argue that 2011 should be the beginning of the new decade, but I don’t care. At least my bank uses the format 1990-1999 and 2000-2009 to determine one period. Perhaps if I failed on my goals this year, next year I will say “NOW is the beginning of the new decade. ROAR!!”

But lets hope not.

THIS is going to be the year. This is going to be the year where I straighten out everything in my life, where I finally launch the long-boiled fleet of Carriers, D-Web enabled Corsairs, handful of Arbiters, and of course a couple observers.

I’m not going to make a “New Years Resolution.” I don’t think they really get met much. It’s more like a joke that appends “expected to fail and renewed the year after” (and I do have high respect for those who actually meet their NYR for an entire year). Instead, I will create principles of how I should live my life in 2010, a “plan” or “strategy” on how to become a stronger character on my server, conquer harder quests, and beat the game of life.

Here are the things that I think are essential in 2010 for me to convert all the things that I have built up to into actual success:

2010 is the Year of Hustle

I like to think through a lot of things, contemplate how everything comes together, see trends, match personalities and parties, and analyze everything on each step while I am taking actioning. As a result, my execution might be slower than it could be. This is the year where I WILL improve my execution and hustling. After all, in our industry the first to market usually does not produce winners. It’s the ones that execute the best that are the winners.

Continue reading Yu-kai Chou of 2010

The Free Customized Magic Mirror that Everyone Has

Ask for Directions

We have huge blindspots

Most of us want to become better at what we do or become a better person in general. The problem is that we have too many blindspots for ourselves to really find out what we really need to work on. When something goes wrong, we can think of a hundred external factors for that reason, but we genuinely cannot see our own faults.

And when it comes down to it, most people WANT to know their flaws that they don’t see themselves. The problem is, it’s considered impolite for people to tell you of your faults when it is not completely necessary. Most people are non-confrontational, and not everyone takes criticism constructively.

Use the magic mirror around you

The solution to this? Just ask. I have experienced and seen numerous times when someone randomly asks, “What can I do to improve myself?” And immediately, almost without thinking, people give the asker a very constructive list of things they can work on. It’s like they’ve been thinking about it all along but never felt comfortable enough to share it.

By asking this very simple question often, you will constantly find things you are blinded by and can improve on. This works especially well when you ask people who can benefit from your improvement (like being more considerate to loved ones, setting more accountability for the team).

For instance, if the Queen from Snow White had a magic mirror as good as the “straight-forward friend”, the mirror would tell her that her problem is not that she’s not fair enough, but “You are too vain, self-conscious, and jealous of others. You can never be happy if you can’t accept yourself. You should just be happy with who you are and love life.” I consider that an infinitely better solution than trying to poison an innocent girl to death.

Set up Mirror Alerts

Often times, even after we know we need to improve something, it’s never instant, and we usually make the same mistakes over and over without realizing it. So after you know what you need to improve on, a good follow up is, “Thanks! Can you remind me every time I do that again? Sometimes I’m not aware of it…” And now you gave people the permission to harass you whenever you screw up. Pretty awesome.

What straight-forward advice have you gotten from friends, or one’s you have given to friends?

Reading is good, but socializing is more fun! I look forward to your ideas and experiences in the comment section!