Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

Just gimme some cash dude!

June 4, 2010

Yesterday I ran in to Taco Bell for a quick lunch.  The dude who took my order commented on the rather large roll of cash I happened to have in my pocket.  I asked him if he needed a loan and he said “Yes.”  So I asked him if I loaned him $1000 what he would do.  He immediately replied that he’d quit that job and just wait until the money ran out.

I explained that then he would have no job and a debt to me of $1000.  But he seemed to just bask in the thought of having a few days of not coming to work and still having money to spend.

Is it any wonder we have adults with the same mentality?

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

Okay, now I’m wondering – is this really the mentality of most people?  To just exhaust any available resources and go deeper into financial bondage?

What would you do?  What if I gave you $1000 today?

“I’m overqualified” – Oh Really?

May 20, 2010

I was approached by a young man this week after a presentation.  His question was – “What do you do when you’re over-qualified for any job available?” He proceeded to tell me he had a Master’s degree in Public Health and had been told in multiple interviews he was “over-qualified.”

Now think about the reality here – In what setting would being “over-qualified” eliminate you from consideration?  If my mechanic gets an additional certification will I tell him “I don’t want you working on my car anymore – I’m afraid you’re too smart.”  If you show up for a simple physical exam and find out the doctor is a cardiologist will you back off because he’s over-qualified?  If you are choosing a massage therapist and discover that one contender has a PhD in anatomy will you eliminate that person?  If you need a receptionist with a great personality would you reject the candidate you liked the most if you discovered at the last minute that she had a Masters in English Literature?

As in any of these situations the only justification for telling a person they are “over-qualified” is likely found in this list:

  • You are not the ideal candidate we’re looking for
  • We don’t think you’d be a team player here
  • We don’t like you
  • We don’t trust you
  • You want too much money
  • We think you’re too arrogant and condescending
  • We suspect you’ll leave as soon as you find something better

Please hear my gentle counsel – being told you are “too experienced” or “over-qualified” is simply a politically correct way of telling you they aren’t convinced they want you on their team.   This statement is a disguise – and a safe way to make it sound like the person is complimenting you.  But it doesn’t realistically have anything to do with your qualifications, knowledge, or talent.  It’s a meaningless term that protects the company from being candid about the real reason they don’t see you as a good choice.  Forget about your degrees — work on interview skills that make people like you, trust you and want to be around you.

Incidentally, the young man who initiated this blog was very defensive that it was purely his brilliance, qualifications and superior ability that made people feel inferior around him and he was helpless to change that reality.  I rest my case.

Did you catch that fish?

May 11, 2010

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” How do you best help someone who is struggling? If third-world natives are living in poverty, should we send them money? Or could we teach them how to plant crops or provide a goat that will nourish their family and allow them to sell the excess milk? If an unmarried woman has a child, should we reward her for having additional children in the way of living quarters and medical care, or is there perhaps a better method for teaching responsibility? If a person is out of work, is it more helpful to once again extend benefits, or to teach more effective ways of finding or creating productive work?


Years ago, in Monterey, California, a crisis arose. Monterey had become a paradise for pelicans. After cleaning their fish, the local fishermen would throw all the excess waste to the pelicans. The birds soon became fat and lazy.

Eventually, a new market was found that could use the waste products commercially. The pelicans no longer had a free meal. Yet, the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves. Generations had been trained to just wait and wait they did for the free handouts that never came. Many starved to death. They seemed to have forgotten how to fish for themselves.

There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap — Old Proverb

In our “instant” society it’s often easier and quicker for everyone involved to just “give” something. Teaching takes time and commitment. And catching fish requires baiting the hook, finding the right conditions, and waiting.

Burning Bridges

May 5, 2010

I’m appalled at the frequency I hear someone with otherwise common sense start to bad-mouth another person.  These days it’s often critical of a previous boss, a co-worker, the President, a spouse or someone whose success is greater than their own. 

Why is it that negatives spew out so easily when they are directed at another living, breathing person?  I believe there is a process of destruction that destroys the speaker – certainly more than affecting the target. 

And in today’s technology and communication world it’s pretty risky.  How many times have we seen a stray comment, a nasty email, a quick cell phone call or a FaceBook note end up haunting the sender of that message?  Would you really want that person to hear the message straight from your mouth?

In a famous written piece from the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) we read:  “Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.   And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.  For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said.”  (Ecc. 10:20 NLT)

Losing a job can hurt and injure your pride.  Having your house flooded with no flood insurance can be a tremendous blow.  Finding out the bank will not renew your business loan can be a set-back.  But hurling insults and finding a person to blame harms only your own ability to see positive steps forward.  Those bridges you’re burning may contain the very concrete, wood and support forms you need to build a new road.

Sucked into the “blackness”

April 13, 2010

Questions like these are arriving daily:

Dan, Help me, I’m miserable, my current job is literally ruining my life. I’m a fairly young man with a family.  I feel I’m stuck in my current position to “pay the bills” but it is making me severely depressed and affecting every part of my life.  I need to find my passion but I don’t even know where to start. I feel like giving up and accepting my fate.

I’m a single mom, 50+ and in a teenager wage job! If that weren’t bad enough, it’s like Jr high there! I am SICK every Sunday night about going & in 7th heaven when I take a few days off. No other income & few opportunities here. I don’t make enough to live on & today I just can’t take anymore! PLEASE HELP!

Dan, at 35, I feel my job is sucking the life out of me. I have been with the same agency for over 8 years. I lost myself, and got sucked into all the “blackness”. Frequent sickness, weight gain, grouchy with my family, and more recently withdrawal from all my relationships – I know where I am is toxic but I’m at a loss of how to turn around or even down a different path.

“People who are unemployed think the worse possible outcome is not finding another job,” says Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? “Actually, the worst part is losing your self-esteem. You start thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’”

But losing self-esteem can happen without a job — or with a job that’s sucking the life out of you.

  • You can’t do great work at something you don’t enjoy
  • If your work is sucking the life out of you, find something you care about
  • I know you’re talented, but maybe not for what you are doing now
  • If you’re miserable, you clearly are not using your strongest talents
  • Don’t try to “be responsible” by staying in a job you hate
  • Don’t think you’ll just stay with it until you’re out of debt – change now – it’s a whole lot easier making money doing something you love

No Money – Just Think

April 6, 2010

The most common complaint I hear today is “Dan, I’d do something on my own but I don’t have any money”  Fortunately, many of the best ideas do not require buildings, leases, employees, or inventory.  And many can be started with very little, if any, capital.

Here are some recent hits:  

  • A hunter got an option on 400 isolated acres, then sold 40 hunting licenses for $5000 each.  He then completed the purchase free and clear and pocketed approximately $50,000.
  • An artifacts dealer arranged an exhibit for some rare Dead Sea Scroll pieces.  He had 30,000 people come through a minimally promoted showing in a small town.  Now he is opening in a major city, anticipating 50,000 viewers at $19 each.  You do the math.
  • A computer guy discovered the internal battery on his Apple computer needed to be replaced – at about $125.  He researched and found a small tool at Sears for $3.00 and the batteries in bulk for $2.00 each.  With these and a one-page explanation he created a repair kit for this common problem.  In a sixty day period he sold 700 kits at $24.95.
  • An artist received a comment that her paintings were so peaceful.  This comment triggered a thought that people going to dentist’s offices needed a peaceful surrounding.  She has been immensely successful by going to dentist’s conventions – likely the only artist there – and selling her paintings to dentists.
  • A high school student went to garage sales with his mother to buy Disney items.  He then placed them on eBay, netting approximately $3000 monthly in anticipation of beginning college.  Kinda beats the $8/hr job at McDonalds.
  • Another client wanted to be in the antique business but had no money.  He leased a warehouse, dividing it into 72 spaces for an antique mall.  In a 60-day period he rented 70 spaces, collecting first and last month’s rent.  With this $7000 he completed the lease, did some minimal renovations, and opened for business.  His rent is $1500 and he is collecting $3500.  In addition, he has two spaces for his own merchandise and receives a 10% commission on everyone’s sales.
  • One of our 48 Days coaches wanted to write a book.*  He got eleven other coaches to submit a chapter.  Then he had them pay $3500 each to get 500 copies for themselves (a 50% discount off retail).  He printed the books showing himself as the lead author – put a clean $30,000 in his pocket and continues to have the contributing authors purchase books from him.

*If you want to know more about how to turn your writing into income join us for the next Write to the Bank event here at the Sanctuary. 

I’m completing my list of 48 ideas you can start with less than $2500 – and make $30-40,000 part time.  Just finishing up with pictures and links. If you want to be featured send me your success story to askdan@48Days.com.

What’s your idea?  Keep in mind, ideas alone don’t put any money in your pocket – you must ACT!!

There is no map

April 2, 2010

There is a chapter in Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin titled There is no map.  The concept is that successful people can’t be told exactly what to do.  They have to release the artist within to find their own unique success.

Think about that.  Do you need a map for everything you do?   In discussing this in my Wednesday morning Eagles Group the brilliant guys in there quickly decided we don’t need a map, but we do need a compass.  If you’re in the middle of the woods a map will take you right back to the well-worn path and you’ll see just what everyone else has seen.  However, a compass will get you to the desired endpoint but along the way you may see the baby fawns, magnificent waterfall, and other hidden treasures that have never been put on the map. 

 

If you need a map, your work may be predictable and boring.   If you need a map, your religion may be full of rules but missing authentic experience.  If you need a map, you may give your spouse a gift on your anniversary but be missing a fulfilling relationship. 

There is no map for your extraordinary success. Develop your compass – and see your life become rich and meaningful.

Stop Working – Get more done!

March 30, 2010

Yes, I know the obvious disconnect in this title.  We all believe that if we just work more, we’ll get more done.  But I’ve found that’s not necessarily true.  My best productivity comes from having a mix of work and regular breaks.

Where are you and what are you doing when you get your best ideas?  Over the last twenty years I’ve asked this of hundreds of clients and friends.  The most frequent answers are “when I was in the shower,” “when I was walking on the beach,” “when I was reading a book,” “when I was on the treadmill,” or “when I was relaxing in the bathtub.”  Seldom does anyone claim to get their best ideas when they are fully immersed in their work.

What happens when you lay down to rest, when you put on some great music, or when you take a walk in the woods on a beautiful fall day?  Most people find their breakthrough ideas when they are relaxed and doing something unconnected with their daily work.  When Leonardo Da Vinci was working on The Last Supper, he would spend days painting from dawn until dusk; then without warning, he would take a break for a day or two.  The duke who contracted his services was not amused, preferring that Leonardo would “never lay down his brush.”  But Leonardo persuaded him that “the greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.”

Look for small breaks in your daily routine.  Don’t think you can work non-stop for 50 weeks and then do all your relaxing in a two-week vacation.  Don’t think that the only productive thing you can do in a 10-minute break is to answer 5 more emails or squeeze in one more report.  I heard recently that the average businessperson now experiences 170 interactions per day (phone calls, emails, face-to-face conversations) and has a backlog of 200 to 300 hours of uncompleted work.   But sometimes the best thing to do with 10 minutes is to watch a hummingbird or to water your plants.

Here are things I often do in 5-10 minutes:

  • Fill my bird feeders
  • Walk down our long lane to get the mail
  • Read an article in one of my favorite magazines
  • Relax with a cup of tea and muffin
  • Play a game of Quiddler with Joanne

Here are some 1-hour breaks I enjoy:

  • Meeting with the Eagles Group on Wednesday morning
  • A massage from 4-5:00 on Friday afternoons
  • Weeding on of our many flowerbeds
  • Meeting a friend for lunch

Don’t let the unending list of work to be done keep you from your own version of these healthy and necessary insertions of relaxation and creativity.  You might be surprised at the increase in your overall productivity.

This is Holy Week.  I’ve heard from several friends who are going to “unplug” from email, FaceBook and Twitter for this entire week.  Could you unplug from some of your normal activities and feel more productive?

Here’s a fun 24-hour clock that deducts each activity as you list the time required.  See you day evaporate with nothing but work and other responsibilities – if you don’t plan in your own relaxation and creative rests.

24-hr Time Clock


Making a Living…or

March 16, 2010

How many times have you heard someone say about their work – “Well, at least I’m making a living.” Maybe it would be more accurate to say “I’m making a dying.” The work they describe is unfulfilling, boring, and stressful.  They dread going in on Monday morning – and every other morning.  Often they are embarrassed about their work and admit readily they are doing nothing meaningful; only extracting a paycheck in exchange for their time.

Does that sound like “making a living?” I don’t think so.  They may brush it off as just something we all do; that work is never going to be purposeful and enjoyable.  They may pretend it doesn’t really matter.  But then I hear painful phrases like, “I feel like my soul is being sucked out of me,” or “I feel like a prostitute – in exchange for my life I’m getting a paycheck.”

If you’re caught up in the typical American view of work you may say you’re making a living when in truth something inside you is being killed each day.  Every day, millions of people rush to get to jobs they don’t love and yet those people defend their choices as responsible, practical, and realistic. How can it be responsible to live the biggest part of our lives devoid of meaning, joy, and purpose?

“Making a Living” implies that you are releasing those skills and talents that make you fully alive.  Doing work where the time just flies by – work that you would want to do even if you were not paid for it.  Work that is meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful and profitable.

In a recent issue of Rick Warren’s ministry newsletter, the author of The Purpose Driven Life was talking about this idea of meaningful work. Rick referenced this verse from Ecclesiastes 10:15 (Today’s English Version):  “Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.” How do you like that? Have you been worn out at work lately? Did you know that you’ve just been put in the category of being “too stupid to find your way home?”

Well, maybe that’s a little harsher than it was intended to be and you’ll find softer language in other Bible translations, but I like the message. Don’t be so busy trying to “make a living” that you’re too busy to make a life.

And I don’t even have space here to describe what most people are doing to themselves when they think they’re “making a killing.”

Oh I’ll bet you were….

March 9, 2010

I am increasingly amused while reading current resumes.  I know that in today’s competitive workplace you need to stand out and I am the first to say that a resume is a place to brag on and embellish accomplishments.  However, we are seeing a blurring of embellishment and downright misrepresentation.  The rule of thumb seems to be – exaggerate and confuse.

Rather than reporting being a greeter at Wal-Mart, the new resume shows “customer service coordinator for Fortune 500 company.”  The grease monkey at Jiffy Lube becomes a “petroleum distribution specialist.”  Yesterday’s taxi cab driver appears on the resume as a “transportation logistics manager.”  The credentials for an 18-yr-old McDonald’s worker become “Engineer for meat inspection and preparation.”  The kid who asked three friends to join FaceBook is now a “social media consultant.”

Keep in mind that today’s “VP of Personnel” was a likely a struggling college student herself a few years ago.  She probably knows the tricks of the trade, having presented herself as a “human resource specialist” rather than a babysitter.

The bottom line is this:  the purpose of a resume is to help you get an interview.  But in today’s workplace it plays only one small part in the hiring process – if any.  You can bypass the competition with:

  • An overview of a major project you’ve handled
  • Photos or examples of your work
  • Extraordinary letters of recommendation from people your prospective employer knows well
  • A website that showcases your talents
  • A blog that is compelling and engaging

If all you have is a great resume, you may be seen as simply one more person needing a job, whether you are a recent college graduate or a former CEO.  Be prepared to show how you are remarkable, amazing and spectacular. Then present yourself with confidence, boldness and enthusiasm.


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