Discovering Your Sources of Insight

Back in August of this year, John had a promotion where you could get a free $500 review if you enrolled in Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind program. One of the people who took advantage of this promotion was J.D. Meier, who is now using his free review to promote Sources of Insight, a blog centered on discovering the “world’s best insight for work and life.”

Finding Inspiration and Putting It in Action

Unlike many John Chow dot Com fans who have blogs focused on making money online, J.D. Meier has taken a distinctly different approach with his blog. Sources of Insight isn’t so much about trying to rake in the cash as much as it is about personal development. In this way, it approaches a wide variety of topics that are aimed to improve your overall way of life as well as your productivity in the world of work.

In terms of overall design, Sources of Insight automatically has a Zen-like appeal as it makes use of a minimalist color palette and a clean layout. Above the fold, the blog appears to take on a magazine-style template, featuring the most recent article with a relatively large picture, but below the fold, the layout is much more akin to a standard blog, displaying recent posts in reverse chronological order.

While you may find well over 30 categories in the sidebar, just five are highlighted below the most recent blog post. These categories, like emotional intelligence and personal excellence give you a great sense of what you should expect from Sources of Insight.

I’m not so sure about John, but the exploration of personal development is of great interest to me. It’s all about making better decisions, improving your quality of life, and looking at your day-to-day in entirely new ways.

Who is J.D. Meier?

One of the key features of any successful blog is a good “About” page. It is here that readers can learn a little more about the person behind the computer screen and, more importantly, why they should care what this person has to say. Looking at the About Page on Sources of Insight, I found it to be somewhat lacking in this kind of information.

There is no photograph of J.D. Meier, nor is there any information about who he is and why he may be qualified to discuss personal development. Even the information about the blog itself, aside from the “vision” statement, is quite vague and superficial. Instead of a series of very short bullet points, it would be better to have a few short paragraphs.

Insightful Posts for Insightful People?

Sources of Insight aims to tackle all the aspects of a person’s life, not only approaching financial and career choices, but also how we approach relationships, having fun, and interacting with the world around us. Some of the posts that caught my attention include the following:

Many of the blog posts on Sources of Insight fall under the Book Nuggets collection. While insight can be drawn from a wide variety of sources, J.D. Meier derives a fair bit of inspiration from the various books that he reads. Yes, you can find insight outside of the Internet.

Always Room for Improvement

As with all blogs, Sources of Insight is not without its shortcomings. I am very glad to see that the more recent posts, like the one about helping colleagues look good, come with an embedded image, because many of the older posts are very text-heavy. Relevant pictures can be great for making your content more approachable.

However, like the About page, I found that many of the blog posts felt somewhat superficial. Many posts were very heavy on short bullet points and blockquotes, but they were lacking in any deeper discussion or analysis. Given the nature of the “personal development” niche, I think that readers would appreciate something with a little more substance. More specifically, J.D. Meier should offer more in terms of a personal touch or opinion.

Also, while I’m not sure how much of a priority it is to J.D., the monetization on Sources of Insight is quite lacking. There is a basic AdSense block and a small Amazon widget in the sidebar, as well as Amazon affiliate links within the blog posts themselves, but he could be leaving a lot of money on the table. Don’t be afraid to explore other ad networks (and placements) if you want to make cash providing insight.

All in all, Sources of Insight offers some value to people interested in personal development and personal excellence, but J.D. Meier still has plenty of room to grow too.


31 thoughts on “Discovering Your Sources of Insight”

  1. iusefirefox says:

    Great review John and congrats to J.D.

    I agree that I think he should post a little more info on himself to give the readers more of a connection with him and his blog.

    1. Sohail says:

      the review is written by Michael Kwan šŸ™‚

      1. Michael Kwan says:

        Thanks Sohail. At least one person is reading the byline. šŸ™‚

      2. beat me to it by a mere few SECONDS lol

    2. I don’t think John wrote the review, as the author is titled as Michael Kwan – I could be wrong tho!!!

    3. Jon says:

      I have been doing this for several years now and am developing an online system that will give everybody the tools to get the most out of their lives. Hoping to launch soon enough!

      Jon
      http://blog.legendarylife.com

    4. No, it’s written by Michael Kwan

  2. Li Weng says:

    Good post and quite an extensive review. I particularly like minimalist design, it makes everything clear and easy to follow. And I do agree with isurefirefox. It does seem a little impersonal with his posts.

  3. Good write up!!! I myself run my blog with a bit of insight blogging as well, with my articles on “Looking at the Big Picture.” Hope some of your readers will check it out!! šŸ™‚

  4. Sohail says:

    A nice and detailed review…..nice resource for personal development

  5. Greg Ellison says:

    Very cool blog. Thanks for sharing Greg Ellison

  6. Sohail says:

    I wonder if i can find a post from someone about something like “Johnchow impact” just to see the traffic u receive from review on johnchow.

  7. Sound says:

    Nice looking blog.

    And, some tips that many of us can relate to.

  8. Melissa says:

    Good niche and popular nowadays. I truly believe by helping others, good things come your way. I think J.D. is on the right path and would definitely be interested in knowing more about him and what motivates him.

  9. J.D. Meier says:

    Great write up and great feedback Michael!

    I updated the About. Is it an improvement?

    I originally tried to shine the spotlight on Sources of Insight, but you’re right – readers want to know about me too. It probably does matter that I’ve managed million dollar budgets, lead teams on impossible missions, and authored several books, available on Amazon. I guess I glossed over that stuff šŸ˜‰

    It’s there now.

    I get that the posts are text heavy, but I do think adding the pictures helps, so good call. I will likely do more of my bulleted-point take aways, since a lot of people are really overloaded with information and want faster, actionable insights.

    I’ll try to work a bit more of “me” into the posts, but it’s really about standing on the shoulders of giants. In fact, I’ll be having some guest posts by some authors of some pretty influential books soon. Lately, I’ve injected a bit more of my insights, but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that there’s a treasure trove of great knowledge in the world, and I’m hoping to help be a guide and mentor and lead more people to it.

    I did share a lot more me in my latest post on the Golden Circle, which is a technique for getting at the heart of why do you do what you do. You read more on the why behind me at http://sourcesofinsight.com/2008/12/12/why-do-you-do-what-you-do/.

    I’m not sure how to improve the monetization. I like the idea of other networks and placements. Any key suggestions I can act on here? I’m up for experimenting.

    Again, great distillation and great points. I’ll do what I can to turn your feedback into action, since I’m a big believer in leading a life of action!

    1. It’s really good to read that JD is really using what the review to make his site better for his customer. It’s also nice to read reviews other than the typical networking and affiliate ones. Great write up, Michael and great job on taking action JD.

  10. thanks for many great tips to build nice blog ……very useful

  11. Andy E says:

    I’ve personally used a lot of the guidance and its great to see J.D. sharing his insight on personal development and life topics. The life frame has been invaluable.

    He’s got a lot of personal experience working with teams and growing people.

    I like the layout, flow and feel of the blog visually. Its nice to see descriptive text about the categories.

    I’ve worked with J.D. professionally and personally for 7 years and he’s got amazing talent for blazing trails through difficult challenges and finding a way to maximize results.

    Monetization? Who needs monetization if you make the world a better place? šŸ˜‰ I know where your heart is.

    J.D. => re: “personal touch” and “more approachable” content, I think this may just be subtle style tweak since your more recent work has targeted a technical crowd who demand small quick lists. For life growth you probably need to expand a little. Like most newspapers target an 8th grade level. Build a story and reinforce it. Let people “feel” your guidance. I also think a lot of times you speak in your native ‘maximizer’ toungue and you need to translate for the rest of the world.

    I’m certain that the feedback here will help make SourcesofInsight all it can be.

    You’ve got great insight, keep up the great work J.D.

  12. Per says:

    Thanks for the review Michael.

    I have worked with JD in Microsoft for 7 years.

    JD’s “why” is about making a positive impact for other people. This web site is more about the “how” and a bit about the “what”.

    Telling good stories and exposing JD’s own achievements are valuable as a way to catch and encourage people to make changes. Which may more be about convicing the reader about the value, i.e. the “why”.

    For people that trust JD’s skills, you can use the bullit lists as “how tos”. Wrt book summaries it is one way to get JD’s essence of what’s good about a book. In reviewing “Thank You for Arguing”, I found that JD made an excellent summary.

    I can vouch for JD’s capability to mentor and coach individuals and teams wrt “do, learn and perform” over time. The outcome is the outstanding books (also published online) he and the teams he worked with delivered. JD’s mentees has provided excellent feedback about his ability to help them grow.

    This web site is an attempt to scale JD’s contribution. Let’s help him make it valuable for more people and thanks again to Michael for doing this review .

  13. Nice review, time to visit that blog!

  14. BusinessX says:

    Michael Kwan did a very good review, think he should hire himself out to write reviews for those sites that let you write your own review or highlight. Good job.

  15. Very interesting blog. Unique I should say.

  16. game-girl says:

    The topic ”Personal development” might interest plenty of people. It’s the apex of attention in the whole world.

  17. Hans Haneef says:

    Awesome review and Awesome blog!

    Congrats to Michael & JD!

    I think JD is lucky of the blog being reviewed in John Dot Com. To be honest, I’ve been dreaming to have my blog reviewed too…however, I would feel shy if that situation really happen to me since I think my blog is not good enough to be reviewed like that. I like blogging because I’ve found this is the only way to express my feelings and my theory about life… it took me so long to initiate it because I feel I’m not good in writing, what more to write in english since it is not my first language. šŸ™

    Whatever it is….congratulations again to Michael & JD…

    Your fan
    Hans Haneef

  18. Its a wonderful review of JD’s blog – great job Michael Kwan!!. Reading about the blog review was more fun because of my long term association with JD. We have been together on many successful projects at Microsoft and also have co-authored few books.

    Even though the blog is about personal development – JD has done some real geek work and some of his books on performance and security are popular even after 5 years and termed as bible for perf and security by .NET community.

    After working with him for so long – JD still does not cease to amaze and surprise me every single day of my life. He has lead some of the most prestigious and most successful projects at Microsoft, the success of his projects attribute to his ability to transform his team into the most efficient bunch of go-getters. Its not only his energy or enthusiasm that rubs-off the team but the way he mentors and helps transforming individuals from average to the best.

    He had been mentoring quite a few folks outside his teams in Microsoft and I am glad that he has started sharing his lessons of personal development through his blog, which will surely help lot many out there to shine as they have never done before.

    But than, blog has its own limitation – learning few tricks in person is more fun, and I am lucky to be one amongst few.

    Best of luck JD and keep bloging!!

    Prashant

  19. Nice review and congrats J.D. I had visited your site myself a few days ago from your comments’ link and enjoyed what I saw. Keep up the great work and good luck in 2009!

  20. J.D’s site looked quite peaceful and relaxing when I first visited it back in 2008. Since then I noticed J.D. has taken on John’s suggestions and have tried “monetizing the site. Great work and good luck for 2009!

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