Archive for April, 2008

Connect Your Heart to your Head

April 29, 2008

Last week I wrote about making money – and that there are a few non-negotiable components of how I set the stage to work each day.  Those included my ergonomic chair, a weekly massage and “In the background I have music playing -specifically setting the stage for productive “knowledge work.” 

Well that prompted questions about the music I listen to.  Here’s probably more than you cared to know – but maybe it will stimulate a useful practice for yourself.

Most of the time when I’m thinking, planning and writing I have “Classic FM” on iTunes radio playing in the background. It’s just great classical music – fairly light and inspirational – and free.

Sometimes when I’m just doing routine office work I’ll switch to “Beatles-A-Rama” – all Beatles music or the all-Elvis station.

In my car with the top down, screaming down the road, I listen to U2 and Alicia Keys.

And then I sing with The Nashville Choir.  Most of our singing is based on church music.  Recently, on a Sunday night we did a community hymn sing at the beautiful new symphony hall here in Nashville with Bill Gaither, Melinda Doolittle and Amy Grant.

I believe music releases a creativity that stays blocked otherwise.  And not just listening – but singing.  Yes, I believe everyone ought to sing!  Diane Austin, adjunct associate professor of music at New York University, says “The voice is like a bridge from your heart to your head.  Singing freely releases what’s locked up in your body.”  A pilot study published in the British Journal of Nursing found that singing greatly reduces the anxiety and depression patients can experience following a major surgery.  Another two-year study of elderly people with dementia found that singing slowed the natural rise in blood pressure associated with aging.

So if you want to lower your blood pressure and unlock your creativity – try singing.  Release the music in you and you may release the other areas of success that are waiting to be set free – physically, relationally, spiritually, in your work, and financially. 

 

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Why Morning Interviews are best

April 29, 2008

Research shows that 83% of executives are more likely to hire AM job seekers.  And 70% of all hiring decisions are made before 11:00 AM.  So obviously, if you can help suggest the time of an interview, make it before 11:00 AM.       

Avoid Mondays and Fridays.  On Monday, people tend to have too much to do and on Friday they are anticipating the weekend and ready to get out of the office.  So the very best times for interviews are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings between 8-10:00 AM.  The little things can tip the scale in your favor.

Finding Your Idea

April 21, 2008

Yes, I firmly believe there are still many opportunities to make millions selling “picks and shovels” in whatever gold rush is happening today.  Here are some ways to find your idea.

  • Improving an existing product or service is the surest and quickest way to success. Brand-new products or services are usually very risky.
  • Don’t look for get rich quick schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Look at the long-term perspective.
  • Decide to be excellent at whatever you do. This provides more leverage than any other factor.
  • Go to trade shows.  If you’re looking for an idea, just start looking at what is being done in that area.
  • Check products being sold in foreign countries.  Even in our global economy, it’s estimated that 80 percent of products are never sold outside the country where they’re produced.  Years ago a gentleman saw a wheelbarrow advertised in a magazine. It was fiberglass and plastic, superior to what was then available in the United States. He asked to be the U.S. distributor.  He took one sample wheelbarrow to a home and garden show and received over fifty thousand orders. He did not invent it, did not patent it, he simply asked to be a distributor for an existing product. With only a $5 profit margin, that’s $250,000 profit!
  • Pay attention to passing fads and trendy ideas.  People have made fortunes with the Pet Rock, hula hoop, politically related T-shirts and bumper stickers, sports theme items, and other fads that present a short window of opportunity.
  • As you travel, look, listen, and learn.  Orange Julius started on the West Coast. The guy who recognized this creamy orange drink as a growing phenomenon brought it back to the Midwest and made millions.
  • Make sure you find something you believe in, something you would buy yourself and use yourself, and would sell to your best friend.
  • Share your ideas. Don’t be secretive. Get input from everyone you know. Ideas are a dime a dozen. But the person who puts a plan of action together is the only one who will benefit.
  • Eighty-five percent of what you need to know about running a successful business you can learn from running a successful mail-order or eBay business. You can experiment with nearly all the necessary components of a traditional business and adjust your work model as you learn.

Revolutionary Insight

Doggles

The inventors of Doggles-sunglasses designed especially for dogs-say they came up with their business brain wave after noticing their dog was squinting in the sunlight. Ken and Roni di Lullo of Midnight Creations tried their own glasses on their dog’s face . . . but nothing stayed on or worked well. After experimenting with sports goggles, the innovative husband and wife team developed a special pair to fit their dog perfectly. Other dog owners approached the couple when they were out walking, and a business was born. After a CNN story featured Doggles, sales quadrupled overnight, and these days the di Lullos have a $1 million business.

This is the normal process of innovation. A real person recognizes a real need and provides a solution. The most successful ideas often involve not a complicated invention process but just a simple modification of an existing product.

Examples from No More Mondays

Looking for Gold — or Making Money?

April 21, 2008

Gold was discovered in California in the spring of 1848.  By May of 1848 reports were flying that “there was more gold than all the people in California could take out in fifty years.”  28-year-old Samuel Brannan opened the small store at John Sutter’s Fort, right in the heart of the gold rush.  Brannan took a little vial of gold and traveled the hundred miles back to San Francisco.  As he stepped off the train, he swung his hat, waved the bottle and shouted, “Gold! Gold! Gold!  By the middle of June, three quarters of the male population had left town for the gold mines near Sutter’s Fort.

Brannan never looked for gold, but selling shovels, picks and supplies to the wide-eyed miners made him California’s first millionaire.  His store was selling as much as $5000 a day (about $140,000 in 2008 dollars) in goods to the miners.

Did all the miners find their “pot of gold?”  Not a chance.  Most of them wasted time and meager resources only to return to their original homes, poor and discouraged.

So where are you looking for income opportunities?  In the last ten years thousands of people jumped on the computer bandwagon, believing that programming, web design and software development were the only real sources of wealth.  As you know, not everyone going in this direction has become wealthy?  But are there associated opportunities with this area of focus – absolutely!  In the last ten years the number of massage therapists has quadrupled.  (Our massage therapist comes to our house every Friday afternoon.  Her rates are $70 an hour and she stays booked weeks in advance.)  People who work on computers all day are prime candidates for massage.

The chair I am sitting in is a HumanScale Freedom Chair.  It’s an $850 solution to the posture challenges of sitting in front of a computer.  I can’t imagine being without it.  In the background I have music playing -specifically setting the stage for productive “knowledge work.” 

Is it possible that in your own search for “gold” you are overlooking the opportunity to become a millionaire by selling picks and shovels?

Are you “Fully Alive?”

April 19, 2008

Well it’s official – Mondays barely make the cut as productive days.  In a recent survey conducted by staffing firm Accountemps, 57% of executives said Tuesday was the most productive day of the week.  Only 12% ranked Monday as the most productive.  Of course Friday tailed off with a 3% ranking. 

When I chose the title No More Mondays I wasn’t trying to erase Mondays – only the negative stigma we’ve allowed to build around that day.  I want you to love Mondays as much as Fridays.  Oh yeah – that’s what having fulfilling work can do.  If the thought of Monday still makes your blood pressure rise or stomach turn – keep looking and planning.  Don’t settle for less than meaningful work.

2nd century disciple St. Irenaeus said “The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive.”  If the 40-50 hours a week you spend in your work is a boring and unfulfilling time, you are not “fully alive.” 

Lawn Mower or Porsche?

April 16, 2008

If you don’t combine your passion with your work you will never achieve excellence and fulfillment.  I imagine it kind of like having a lawn mower engine in a Porsche.  Yeah, it will move along but it can hardly get out of the way of other traffic and it sure doesn’t give you the thrill and exhilaration that driving a Porsche should.  (I took a friend’s Porsche 959 for a spin recently.  It had been modified from its original 331hp to 615 horsepower – what a rush!)

Every week I hear from lots of people who are still trying to find their passion.  Here are some examples:

Dan, I cannot think of anything that just supremely stirs my drink. I have no passions or dreams. (I’m in my early 50s).  I mean, there are some “warm” areas. But there is nothing I feel like I want to give my life to. The old cheese has moved, and the old dreams are dead and gone. I’m looking for a new one.

 I’m currently working with a high level financial executive who, after 26 years with the same company, is being “invited” to leave.  He’s having to catch up with the new opportunities because for 26 years “I’ve had my head down, and pencil up.”

Today I talked with a 34-year-old who has a history of starting businesses “that have nothing to do with my passion.”  And then he wonders why it’s such a struggle to make them work.

I’m also working with a 48-year-old dentist who after years of frustration says, “I just keep getting better at what I intend to get out of.”

What’s blocking you from finding your passion – and integrating it into your work?  Are you convinced that work is meant to be boring and stifling – only a means to a paycheck?  Do you think that fulfilling God’s will always means sacrificing your true passions?  Do you believe that if you followed your passions your income would drop dramatically?  I believe all of these are false statements.

A couple months ago I wrote a blog on “Is Your Music Still In You?”  The response to that was so overwhelming we now have produced business card-sized magnets with those words on them for a constant reminder to not let that happen.

What’s your reason for not living in your passion?  Share your comments here.  I’ll choose 10 of the most interesting responses and send you one of the “Is Your Music Still in You?” magnets.

The Gift of Napping

April 15, 2008

I hate to be so late in notifying you that a couple weeks ago, March 12th, was National Napping Day.  I was probably napping myself when the original notice arrived.  Just today, my accountant was here working on monthly reports.  I checked with her to be sure I would not be needed for 20 minutes and then disappeared into another room.  She was amazed that I just reappeared – all refreshed and ready to go.  I find that I function much better if I respond to being tired by taking a short nap – rather than just forcing myself to keep working.

National Napping Day was established “to overcome the prejudicial attitudes that many people have about napping, and to encourage everyone to see that napping as a no cost, no sweat way to improved mood and performance.”

Boston University professor William Anthony, co-author of “The Art of Napping at Work” is encouraging employers and employees to “promote a 20-minute workplace nap and experience the amazing effects it has on productivity, alertness and well being.”

Anthony says Brahms napped at the piano while he composed his famous lullaby. Napoleon napped between battles. Churchill maintained that he had to nap in order to cope with his wartime responsibilities. Geniuses such as Edison and Da Vinci napped. Obviously nappers are in good company.

He would like to see us stop using such phrases as stealing a nap, sneaking a nap, going down for a nap, and caught napping. Nappers have naps. They don’t take, steal, or sneak naps. Nappers don’t go down for a nap, they prepare for a nap. Nappers are never caught napping, because there is no crime to catch. Nappers are merely seen napping.

Do you have a napping story? 

How Wealthy Are You?

April 12, 2008

In the book Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin says “Money is a metaphor for the strength of your human relationships.”  If that is true, then it follows that if I want more money all I have to do is work on strengthening my relationships. 

My wife Joanne is a licensed volunteer at the Tennessee Prison for Women.  Just this week she told me about one of her friends there who is being released on Tuesday.  The woman she referenced will leave the prison with no clothes except those she is wearing, no furniture, no job prospects, no money and is rightfully terrified about her immediate future.  Fortunately, with Joanne as her one friend she will be getting a start on all of those things. 

As a career coach when I see someone who is “down and out” I am amazed at the bankruptcy I often see in their lives.  Not just financially, but having no relationships from which to draw.

Think about how money works.  If you are on a desert island and you have $10 million in $100 bills in a big suitcase, you will find that the money is absolutely worthless.  It only has value as it connects you with and flows through other people.  Your human interaction produces your wealth.  The cool thing is that in today’s technological world you can expand your connection with people exponentially – and quickly.  If you have expertise in any area, you can use that as a foundation for speaking, writing articles, radio and TV interviews, newsletters, blogs and podcasts.  If you are honestly trying to improve the lives of other people through those tools, you will create new relationships and see your true wealth soar.

Last night in our 212ºConnection teleseminar Kevin and I talked about CO-mmunication and how you can use these technology tools to expand your business – and ultimate wealth.  If you were not on the live call, you can listen to the one-hour presentation on CO-mmunication here.

Five Dollars — or Twelve Thousand?

April 11, 2008

Last Sunday Joanne and I went to a big art show here in Nashville.  50 artists had been invited to show and sell their work.  You might say I’m a novice when it comes to understanding art.  So I walk in and I see a $3 canvas with maybe $2 worth of paint on it.  Thus my starting point for seeing the value of a piece is about $5.  Or we could measure it or weigh it to get another measurement of what the price should be.  Then I glance at the price and see that it’s $12,000.  And I ask myself what takes the value of this piece from its true cost of $5 to $12,000?  As I roamed around this show I saw the artists standing in front of their work.  And as I talked with those artists I began to hear the stories behind the glass pieces, the sculptures, the pencil sketches and the painted pieces.  I saw them with new eyes and agreed that the value was certainly more than the raw cost of the materials required creating them.

What about the services you provide?  Many people are paid $12 an hour for working diligently at a job.  Is that a reasonable return for what you offer?  If not, why not?  The art piece that was $12,000 was created by a 90-yr-old lady with an incredible history.  She is known the world over and she only does a few works each year.  People wait to have a rare opportunity to purchase one of her creations.  So it appears reputation and limited availability add to the “value.”  Also, she has a recognized name in those circles. 

We also talked with a young guy who creates beautiful works of glass.  3-D flowers and images give the illusion of real flowers being captured forever in his designs.  Suddenly the $595 for a small vase became not only reasonable but perhaps even a bargain.  His unusual imagination, creativity and skill took his raw materials and formed a valuable end result. 

At another booth the paintings of birds stopped us in our tracks.  It appeared you could touch the very bird this artist had painted.  She proceeded to share with us her passion for birds and how her love and compassion for them helped her see the world from their viewpoint.  Her paintings reflected that commitment to excellence in showing the world what she saw in those birds.  Her excitement conveyed a spiritual energy that just exploded in both her conversation and her work.

The question then is:  How are you using the highlighted characteristics above to increase the value of your services?  Is your “value” $5 or $12,000?

The “Instapreneur”

April 3, 2008

I have always loved the term “entrepreneur” and have considered myself one since I was old enough to say the word.  Several years ago I coined the term “Eaglepreneur.”  Go ahead, check it out – see where this takes you:  http://www.eaglepreneur.com/.  Now I’m seeing other variations, like “Instapreneur.” 

Here’s the deal.  Today you can be in business with no start-up capital, no inventory, no employees, no warehouses, no minimum orders, no sign permits, no leases and no long-term commitment.  Just jump on an idea and start shipping products this afternoon.

If you want to write a book but don’t have a publishing deal and don’t want to have to invest $25,000 for your first minimum order?  Check out Lightning Source right here in my own back yard in LaVergne, TN.  Submit your manuscript, have it available on Amazon and start taking orders tomorrow.  You don’t need to buy any – just sell them one at a time and keep the profits.

If you want to design posters, mugs, bumper stickers, calendars or Mother’s Day cards, you can jump over to Razzle, of Redwood, CA and have your products ready to ship in 24 hours.  You can design your Hillary Clinton bumper sticker, take orders and pay Razzle as they are being sold.

If you want to create your own line of prom dresses, make it happen at StyleShake from London.

Want a cool t-shirt?  Put in your text or design at SpreadShirt and join over 500,000 other t-shirt shops around the world.

Have an idea for jewelry or furniture?  No problem.  Just upload your blueprint at Ponoko and when a customer puts in an order, your piece will be manufactured and delivered.  Sell your coffee table for $250, pay Ponoko $125 for the manufacturing and shipping and bank the rest.  No equipment or employees needed.  And you won’t cut a finger off trying to do something you have no business doing anyway.

Want to get an eco-friendly grocery bag ready to sell at your local April 22nd Earth Day celebration.  No problem.  At CafePress you can choose the template, upload your photo or image and print one — or ten thousand.

Want to join the No More Mondays ranks?  Now you can’t fall back on all the typical excuses for not starting your own business.  It’s just too easy.  What are you waiting for?  You can be the next “Instapreneur.”