My Favourite Word

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My favourite word in the English language is “Insouciance” — pronounced in-shoo-see-ance.

It means a casual lack of concern; indifference; playful.

It comes from an 18th-century French word that means ‘not’ and ‘worrying.’

It encompasses a great philosophy and attitude for life as a whole.

There are lots of ways to apply it.

I was once undergoing a business mediation, although not a formal legal process it was nevertheless a distraction and annoying. In my rebuttal of the accusations against me, my written reply was done so with an attitude of insouciance. I wrote my response as a second-grade kid, pointing out things I didn’t understand and writing with “me thinks there is sum’mut wrong wid that.” It was hilarious, although the mediator didn’t really get it and my accuser became madder. The more insouciant I was about the whole thing, the madder and more threatening he got. I guess that was his aim, to make me less insouciant or to make me worry more.

In other areas of life, it applies. Spilt milk? An insouciant attitude makes a joke out of it.

Like anything, it just takes practice. If you practice being insouciant, making fun of the things that usually upset you—not necessarily making fun of the people, but the situation—you’ll find, sooner or later, those situations make you laugh.

Go ahead, give it a try. What have you got to lose, except your worry?

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Unregistered the Movie

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Unregistered is a short film created and directed by my friend Sophia Banks.

She has done a truly amazing job of creating suspense, drama and action all focused around a compelling love story.

Sophia comes from a background of 15 years in the fashion industry - starting her career in film as a costume designer and upon returning to school for further training in film she broke into the industry with her award-winning short “Making it On Time” for Christian Siriano and Vogue, featuring girls wearing high-end couture gowns skating through an urban DTLA setting-the first video of it’s kind.

She continues to do commercial work and has worked for notable clients such as: Pepsi, Chobani, Blistex, Kendall and Kylie Jenner as well as Dell and Target. She has a diverse reel focused heavily on beautiful shots and stunning frames that catch your attention. (Check out her show reel here.)

Much of her experience and eye for detail as well as passion for all things visual is what has given her an edge in creating her first Sci-Fi short film, Unregistered.

The film was made with a stellar cast of actors and crew, including Director of Photography, Paul Cameron, who worked on such films as; Collateral, Westworld and Man on Fire.

Unregistered is a love story unlike any other, set in the near future of Los Angeles, where the Federal Government has a “State Of Emergency” law that limits one child per home due to overpopulation.

Here’s a sneak peak.

And to find out more visit unregisteredthemovie.com and connect via Facebook and Instagram


Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Made Simple

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I first heard about Bitcoin many years ago, way before it took off. Unfortunately, I was busy with other projects and didn’t have the time to fully research the subject and thus missed the boat. Given how money works in this society, it’s no surprise that Bitcoin and other crypto coins took off, as they bypass the central banking system.

But I don’t regret it missing the boat. For those who remember the dot.com boom at the turn of the century, the frenzy that rocketed share prices sky high was followed by a massive dive. Well, that event marked the beginning of the internet revolution. Once the frenzy was over, only companies that offered true value where the ones that flourished—companies like Google, Amazon and Apple. Life changing technologies such as the iPhone and Facebook came after the frenzy.

That’s why I have no regrets about “missing the boat” on Bitcoin because in my opinion (based on history) we’ve only just begun.

What is Blockchain?

Let’s keep this very simple.

Blockchain is like a spreadsheet. It’s a place to record a transaction.

Imagine each row in the spreadsheet is a single transaction between two people, such as Bob gave $10 to Alex.

Blockchain is like a spreadsheet

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What makes Blockchain special is that each transaction is verified many times, by different members of the community.

A spreadsheet can be used for many things. And so too can Blockchain. Bitcoin is just one application of blockchain, just like Angry Birds is just one app available in Apple’s iTune Store.

In that sense, think of blockchain as a platform and the cryptocurrency as an app.

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Yes, you read that right. Cryptocurrency is just an “app.”  And money is only one use of blockchain.

So while there is a lot of talk about Bitcoin, what’s far more exciting is blockchain—that’s what makes Bitcoin work.

The possibilities of blockchain are endless. Ten years from now we’ll be using blockchain technology in ways we never dreamed of. Just like we never dreamed we’d all be connected via Facebook sharing videos with our friends from our phones.

One company that is putting the power of blockchain to work is USA based Sterling Consolidated (Stock Code: STCC - note they are a client of Melvin.Media so be sure to read this compensation disclosure.)

Sterling is a 50-year-old company that specializes in importing and distributing of o-rings—those tiny little rubber rings that you’ll find in all cars, hydraulics, aeroplanes, rockets, swimming pools and more.  

O-rings

It’s an industry where most of the materials are manufactured in China. While this is cheaper than manufacturing in the USA, it presents other business burdens, such as long delivery times and high transaction costs. To find out how Sterling plans to solve some of these problems, visit investor.sterlingconsolidated.com

And for further reading of Blockchain I recommend The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

If you have any questions, feedback or want more articles on this subject, comment below or contact me.

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Writer's Myth #1 - The Number of Words

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One of the most common myths I hear is that a book must be a certain number of words— not too many and not too little.

Let me tell you, that is an arbitrary rule.

Here's a principle you should follow: 

 

The whole purpose of writing is to
convey your message or story.

 

If you do it in a 100 words, great. If it takes 10,000, fine.

What's important is that your audience understands what you have written.

Some publishers or editors will tell you that a book should not be too big, but what about that classic Gone with the Wind with over 400,000 words?

Others will say that a book can't be too short either, then how to you explain the success of Fight Club with less than 50,000 words?

So throw away this myth and just write, say what you want to say, no more, no less. 

The only real purpose of counting words is to measure your daily or weekly production as a writer, if you must. I have personally never done so. I measure my production on the number of chapters I complete.

And as a self-publisher of 7 books, I don't need to adhere to someone else's idea of "ideal word count."

And never let anyone tell you that you need to write more or less. It's a myth.

Feel free to ask questions.

Hit the heart button if you liked it and leave a comment. 

How To Get Your Social Security Number (SSN) in the USA

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To get your SSN you need to:

  1. Complete this form
  2. Visit your local Social Security Office
  3. Take your passport with you.

I was told I also needed a I-912 Visa Waiver Form, which is a form used at customs when you don’t have a travel visa. Of course, I do have a visa, so this was not needed. However, even the Social Securities Officer got confused on this point and said it wasn’t possible to apply without it. I explained that’s a visa waiver, and I have a visa, so he gave it a shot, entered the data in the system it worked!

Surprisingly, when the card arrived it was not as I expected. In Australia we have a medicare card that is plastic like a credit card. But a SSN Card is printed on paper and you are instructed to NOT carry it with you. Apparently all that is needed is the number!

Hope that helps.

Feel free to ask questions.

Hit the heart button if you liked it and leave a comment. 

How to get a B1 Visa for 6 month stay in the USA

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After writing my article on how to obtain an E2 Visa for the USA, I've had quite a few enquiries about visas. 

This article is about the B1/B2 Visa, it's ideal for those who want to stay longer than the 3 month granted to a tourist.

The "B" means "Business." It doesn't mean you can set up a business in the USA, but you can visit and promote your business (the one in your home country), visit suppliers, etc. The B1 is for the "business" person and the B2 is for their spouse and family. 

The B1/B2 is a 5 year visa that allows stays upto 6 months, with the possibility of extending to 12 months. 

Thankfully it's easier to get than an E2.

As a simple and rather obvious disclaimer, I am not a lawyer or immigration professional. This is not advice. It’s information from my own experience. Use at your peril (or benefit).

Here's how to obtain a B1/B2 Visa:

1. Get your passport photo taken, a digital version.
2. Complete the DS-160 Application form (https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/). You will upload your photo as part of this process, and they'll let you know if your photo is acceptable.
3. Complete a profile at www.ustraveldocs.com, this is also where you pay the application fee and schedule an appointment.

It can take 2 to 3 weeks to get an appointment.

Note: the ustraveldocs.com website is shocking. Be prepared to be kicked out several times (like 20 or more) until it actually works. I think it might be part of the filtering process. Keep out those who are not very determined. 

The Interview

The interview process is the same as an E2, with the main difference being the types of questions they ask you. The assumption is that you intend to violate the B1 and try to stay in the USA in some way, so the main focus of the interview process is providing enough proof and certainty that you have ties in your home country and intend to return. It’s a case of assumed guilt and the need to prove your innocence.

Stage 1: Security

You go through airport-type security, surrounded by guys with guns. Your passport is checked 3 times before you take a seat and look at a wall. Your phone and belongings are confiscated. You are told to sit and wait until you are called. I think the purpose of this stage is to make you feel intimidated. It works.

Stage 2: The Pre-Check before the Pre-Interview

You are escorted by security guards to the interview room. First, you have to hand over your passport (4th time) though a thick plated glass window. Once verified that you are the same person on your passport, you are permitted to go through a security door and join the queue.

Stage 3: Pre-Interview

Behind a thick window sits a person who you converse with via a speaker. You hand over passports again (5th time). I was asked the name of my business, which I remembered without too much trouble. You are digitally fingerprinted, both hands. Then you are told to take a seat and wait for your name to be called.

Stage 4: Interview

Hand over your passports again (6th time). You'll be asked questions about your intentions to stay, what ties you have to your home country. They want to see proof that you will return and not violate your visa by overstaying.

Stage 5: Cashier

It costs $160 USD per person to get the visa added to your passport.

Stage 6: Complete

You hand over your passports to the interviewer. They'll courier them back to you within the week.

The entire process was perhaps an hour. The actual interview is a few minutes.

BONUS! Once you have your B1/B2 Visa, you can renew it via mail and avoid the interview process.


Hope that helps.

Feel free to ask questions.

Hit the heart button if you liked it and leave a comment. 

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Did You Know Debt Is Negotiable?

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The Rich know everything is negotiable.
— Tony Melvin

The above quote is one of the key Rich Habits is. It applies to debt too.

All debt is negotiable including credit cards, personal loans and mortgages.

You can put them on hold.

You can reduce rates.

You can eliminate fees.

You can, in certain circumstances, reduce the debt by 90% (so you pay $1,000 to eliminate a $10,000 credit card).

All of this can be achieved when you:

  1. Realize that debt is negotiable.

  2. Know how to negotiate with lenders.

Here’s an example, a text message I received from one of my clients who was initially stressed out about his debt, but then he did the Rich Habits coaching.

You don’t have to feel burdened or stressed about debt because debt is negotiable, and you have the ability to eliminate it faster than you think.

The only missing ingredient is the know-how to do it. And you can get that by reading Rich Habits.

Check it out now.

I look forward to hearing your wins.

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Property Investors: The Difference Between USA and Australia

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I’ve been studying the USA property market for some time now; there are lots of amazing opportunities with rental returns ranging from 10% to 20% of the total property value (e.g. between $50k to $100k rental income on a $500,000 property.)

For Australian property investors this is something new. The usual reaction from my American friends, whenever I tell them that Australians lose money on an investment property to get tax breaks, is “ That’s crazy!”

Of course, the Aussie market has a steady capital growth and unlike the USA, didn’t crash after the subprime fallout in 2007.

But still, the yanks think it’s a crazy system to lose cash flow and wait for capital growth.

However, the Aussie investor can get in on the USA market and use the positive cash flow to help ease the burden of the income loss created by negative gearing.

Research Results

Here’s what I’ve discovered from my research:

  1. Single family home can generate rental income of 10% to 15% per year of the property value (so it’s more if you use leverage).
  2. Multi-family homes (a block of apartments) can generate upwards of 20% annual income (of property value).
  3. Renovated or rehabbed properties can generate 30% increase in value (after costs), plus the 10% to 15% ongoing rental income (of the increased value).

Key points of difference

The main differences between the USA market and Australia is this:

  1. Australian landlords rely on capital growth to increase wealth, whereas in the USA, capital growth is secondary to rental returns.
  2. Debt reduction is easier in the USA. The added cash flow helps reduce debt creating equity and the ability to purchase more property, faster.
  3. In Australia, apartments are sold individually, some are owned by investors and others are owner occupied. In the USA, apartment blocks are called multi-family homes and the entire block is owned by an investor, with all apartments rented. (Note: the term condo is used when the apartment is owned by an individual, not by an investor.)
  4. Finance is cheaper in the USA and easier to obtain.
  5. Raising of capital has less restrictions in the USA.

With these differences, creating a portfolio of cash flow positive property in the USA is an easier task than it is in Australia. This doesn’t make Australian property investing ineffective, it’s simply means the strategy is different.

Using USA cash flow positive properties to ease the burden of your negatively geared Australian properties is something worth considering.

My Strategy

My plan is to build a very large USA portfolio that is a mix of all 3 methods above (single, multi and renos/rehabs).

If you’d like to invest with me, register your details below and I’ll send you the documentation once it is ready. In the meantime, feel free to reach out and ask any questions in the comments below or privately here.

And you don’t have to worry about any tenant issues, after all I’m an Aussie, all I have to say is, “that’s not a knife…”

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Tony “Dundee” Melvin 😃

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