Archive for February, 2009

Please give me my $.97 back

February 28, 2009

We just had someone email that he wanted a refund on the only purchase he ever made from 48Days.  That was a teleseminar from over a year ago where the cost was $.97 – that’s right – ninety seven cents.  He maintained that he was serious – even though he also stated that the teleseminar was very helpful. 

I cringe at the thought of this transaction.  Trust me, we gave him his $.97 back – even though there was no physical product; he just listened in on a phone line.  But I cringe that this poor guy could find no more productive way to invest his time.  It just portrays a mindset that is not likely to see the big picture.  I also cringe that he was exposed to even one segment of our resources and walked away with no more creativity than that.  Don’t they give you $20 for a vial of blood down at the plasma bank? 

I know times are tough for a lot of people – but please expect the challenges to increase your ability to “see” opportunities – not diminish them. 

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Do You Have PLSD?

February 24, 2009

Well, here’s a new term for you.  There is growing body of evidence that says survivors of layoffs often experience severe feelings of fear, grief, guilt and anger – and it’s called Post-Layoff Survivor Disorder (PLSD).  Of course we need a name for any malady, probably a psychiatric category, a way to file an insurance claim – and basically an excuse for the negative feelings.  Closely related to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD), Post-Layoff Survivor Disorder victims (meaning you still have your job) should try these tips: 

  • Talk to someone about your feelings.  Don’t just bottle it up and keep it in – find a coach, counselor, co-worker or friend to share your guilt and fear.  Try this before pills or medical claims.
  • Connect with your recently departed colleagues.  While you suspect they hate you for being allowed to stay, you may be surprised to find they are relieved and excited about all the possibilities.  Hopefully their enthusiasm will be contagious and help you endure the stress of your ongoing position.
  • Find ways to increase your contribution where you are.  You may not be happy about having to do your own work and the work of three people who were let go, but show the company you are up to the challenge.
  • Continue to clarify your highest areas of competence.  Don’t assume you’ll be at the same place forever – make sure you know how to describe your marketable skills in three sentences.
  • Don’t allow your fear and anger to sabotage your best work.  Take a deep breath, take a brisk walk around the parking lot, release those negative emotions and get back to work.
  • Make sure you have a life outside of your “work.”  Remember, work is simply one tool for a successful life.  Jobs come and go, but that should not change the direction or quality of your “life.”

 And be confident that if your guilt and fear are not addressed, you are probably sabotaging your current position anyway and will soon join the ranks of the laid-off where you will no longer have to suffer from PLSD.

Sell or Starve

February 16, 2009

To get a job, you have to sell yourself.  To start a business or run it successfully, you have to sell a product or service – every day.  Gone are the days of “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”  If you are going to be successful in any way you have to learn to sell, and do it well.

Here are statements I’m hearing from people who have not learned how to sell:

  • “I’ve applied for lots of jobs but no one’s hiring.”
  • “Everywhere I go they tell me I’m over-qualified.”
  • “I’ve got to just stay on unemployment since the economy is so bad.”
  • “No one can afford to engage a career coach right now.”
  • “I’m not expecting any new customers for my landscape business as long as we’re in this recession.”
  • “I’d love to start a business but I don’t have any money.”
  • “I’ve been rejected by 10 publishers – I guess I’m not an author after all.” 
  • “I started a church but it turns out we were in a poor location.”

The cover story in the current issue of Success magazine profiles George Foreman. (Big Business with Big George) Of course we all know George because of his boxing success – or do we?  No, there are lots of boxers, but we know George because he learned how to sell.  He says his athletic ability was less a factor in his success than his selling skills. “If you learn to sell, it’s worth more than a degree,” he says.” It’s worth more than the heavyweight championship of the world. It’s even more important than having a million dollars in the bank. Learn to sell and you’ll never starve.”

Free Ideas — and Free Money?

February 12, 2009

Okay – many of you that I talk to say you are still looking for your great idea.  Some of you have your idea but feel you need a chunk of money to get it off the ground.  Well, here’s a solution for both.  Billionaire Mark Cuban is offering to fund any business that can show a break-even cash flow in 60 days and be profitable in 90.  So – no problem getting any amount of money you need (no minimum – no maximum) – if in fact you have a solid business plan.  The Mark Cuban Stimulus Plan.  And if you still need an idea – no problem.  Seth Godin’s current group of 9 six-month MBA candidates just came up with a list of 999 Business Ideas – free for the taking.  I believe every single one except #789 has merit.  I’m going to study the entire list and find 3-4 to develop myself. 

No more excuses – plenty of ideas and plenty of money.  All you need to do is take action.  If you don’t have a money making business 90 days from now – look in the mirror to identify the roadblocks.

“Successful Failure?”

February 9, 2009

Dan, I would like to hear more of your thoughts on failure.  Since most of us who are trying to live a life with “No More Mondays” are probably going to fail several times, what does a “successful failure” look like?  How much should we risk in pursuit of our dreams?  As you often say, we must not be paralyzed by our fear of failure but I doubt you would suggest that we risk our marriages, health, homes, etc. while seeking to reach our goals.  What do you think is the right balance in this area?  Thanks, Eric

Great question Eric.  And I believe there really are “successful failures” in business.  That is not an oxymoron. Napoleon Hill once said: “Failure seems to be nature’s plan for preparing us for great responsibilities.”

So part of the issue is – Do you want to do something great – in any area?  If you are content with mediocrity in your life, then you will try to protect yourself from any failure.   Just recognize the trade-off.  

But here’s an important distinction:  It’s not just what you do in a job or your business that will identify you as a success or a failure.

  • Not having “date nights” or saying “I love you” daily will put your marriage at risk of failure.
  • Spending 65 hours a week at your job will put your emotional well-being at risk of failure.
  • Eating Twinkies and Big Macs and not exercising will put your health at risk of failure.
  • Financing a car or paying more than the equivalent of one month’s income in cash will put your financial health at risk of failure.
  • Spending less than an hour a day on spiritual and personal development sets you up for the risk of failure.
  • Expecting a company to continue giving you a paycheck puts you at risk of failure.

These are ways people set themselves up for “failure” totally aside from whether they pursue a No More Mondays work option.  The counterpart to this is, if you are successful in all the areas mentioned above, then “failure” in a business venture is not crippling.  It is simply one area in which to readjust and start again.  I’ve heard that Richard Branson will not invest in any company unless the person in charge has failed at least twice.  I’m convinced that had I not had a major failure in business a few years ago – leaving me with a $430,000 loss – that I would have continued with an unrealistic view of my golden touch.  I think I needed that experience to open my eyes – not to make me cynical, but to help me create a more solid business structure going forward.

I’m also totally convinced that someone who commits suicide upon losing a job or business had neglected excellence and success in the more important areas of life.  Having rich deposits in relationships, spiritual well-being, health and social connections act as a buffer in carrying you through any temporary business failure.  Whether you have a job, volunteer your time or start the next Microsoft – none of these alone will determine the success of your life. 

So here’s what I recommend for risking in a No More Mondays work option:

  • Take responsibility for where you are – whether good or bad.
  • Continue making deposits of success in the physical, spiritual, personal development, and relationship areas of your life.
  • Pursue work that engages your passions as well as your abilities.
  • Weigh the financial requirements very carefully.  Personally, I have seven different areas of revenue generation in my small business.  That way if one “fails” it’s not devastating. 
  • Recognize that a temporary financial loss does not need to be the end of your business venture. It’s probably just a wake-up call, helping you to readjust for bigger successes in the future. Make the adjustment and know that you are now closer to ultimate success.

So Eric, recognize that many people “risk failure in their marriages, health, homes, etc.” while desperately trying to hang on to a “real job.”  Identifying your passion, creating a careful plan of action, and moving into a No More Mondays work venture may be the very thing to reduce risk and increase your opportunity for true success.  Thanks for asking.

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“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs,

even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor

spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live

in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

                                      Theodore Roosevelt

Seth Godin on why you should be the best

February 8, 2009

Most of you know my admiration for the business wisdom of Seth Godin.  His latest book, Tribes, talks about the power of small groups who believe in a common cause and have a way to communicate.  Much of what we do at 48Days.net is built around that concept.  We want you to be passionate about your area of interest and then connect with a few other people with that same passion.

This week Seth is at the TED conference in California.  TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.

Here’s a video interview Seth did two days ago at TED.  He explains why we all need a tribe, and why if you’re going to do something, you need to be the very best.  Whatever you do, don’t be mediocre by trying to appeal to everyone in the world. 

He also gives a very interesting explanation for why he is not on Twitter.  It’s a twelve minute video – and worth every minute if you’re serious about making your impact on the world.

Remember the Sabbath?

February 7, 2009

A day of Sabbath is more than just a spiritual suggestion – it’s a necessity for balance and restoration.

A reader writes:

Hi, Dan. I feel like I am on the verge of a breakdown. I want to take a short leave of absence from my job to try to get things under control. How do I handle this without my employer thinking I am cuckoo? I just need a break. I am a wife, mother, work full-time, take care of an elderly parent, you name it. ~Signed, Very Overwhelmed in Georgia

Is it “cuckoo” to want a break from the typical worklife?  In the “busyness” of modern life, I see people who have lost the rhythm between activity and rest.  “I am so busy.”  We say this as a badge of honor, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, and our ability to withstand 70 hour weeks a mark of real character.  We convince ourselves that the busier we are, the more we are accomplishing and the more important we must be.  But is this really so?  Does more activity really mean more accomplishment?  To be unavailable to friends and family, to miss the sunsets and the full moons, to blast through all our obligations without time for taking a deep breath – this has become the model of a successful life.

The Sabbath was designed as more than just a day to rush to church, cram into a restaurant, and then hurry home to get all those odd jobs completed before Monday.  Hopefully it’s a day of rest for you.  Embrace Sabbath days and times in your life.  Wisdom, peace, creativity and contentment will grow in those times.  Take a walk, give thanks for simple things, bless your children, take a bath with music and candles, turn off the telephone, pager, TV and computer – carve out those times for restoration and spiritual breathing.

University professors typically get every seventh year off – to think, write, travel and re-energize.  Pastors should get the same.  In Mosaic law, every seventh year, the land was to remain untilled to give it time to rebuild its resources. 

Maybe your job loss or business failure is really an unexpected “sabbatical.” 

And incidentally, in today’s times your company may welcome your request for a 1-2 month sabbatical.  Rather than seeing you as “cuckoo” they may embrace the reprieve in paychecks and see you as a more valued employee.

50,000 are Jobless in Nashville

February 4, 2009

This was the recent headline in the Nashville Tennessean newspaper.  Oh no, the sky is falling.  Actually, that number puts Nashville solidly at 6.2% unemployment. So let’s see, that means that we have 93.8% of the people fully employed and going to work every day, or roughly 760,000 who still have jobs.  Experts consider 5% unemployment “full employment” as there are always that many people transitioning or taking a break.  So really we are up 1.2% or about 9700 more people looking for work than normal out of the 810,000 workers in this area.  So why don’t the headlines scream that Nashville has 760,000 people who are getting regular paychecks each week?  Because good news doesn’t sell newspapers.

Be careful how you receive the “news” being offered right now.  You could get the impression that no one is hiring, all banks are failing, everyone is losing their home, and every small business is on the brink of disaster. 

Incidentally we have a 99% chance of sunshine tomorrow and a   1% CHANCE OF HAIL, TORNADO, EARTHQUAKE, AND LOCUST ATTACK!

Unemployed — or ready to launch?

February 3, 2009

Losing a job can lead to anger, resentment, guilt and depression.  I once worked with a gentleman who having lost his job, tried to reposition himself and do a job search, only to become discouraged after just a few days with no success.  Then he started hiding out from his wife, pretending to be doing a job search, while in reality he was going to the library to surf the Internet and read magazines.  He consoled himself in fast food and high sugar snacks and quickly added about 25 pounds.  This, in turn, made him self-conscious about his weight and ill-fitting clothes.  “I hated my job, but am still angry about being let go,” he said.

This story is not unusual.  New research confirms that losing a job can put people at an elevated risk for emotional and physical problems.  Unemployment can start a vicious cycle of depression, loss of personal discipline and decreased emotional health.  “Depression can contribute to much longer searches,” notes John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Failure in a business, the dissolution of a relationship, a breakdown of health, or a financial disaster can also be a set-up for these negative, self-defeating feelings.  Any of these situations can make a person a candidate for the downward spiral of anger, resentment, guilt and depression.

Negative attitudes will keep you living in your loss – rather than moving toward new gain.

To break the cycle, take charge of the areas where you can experience immediate success. 

Five Tips to Break the Cycle of Losing:

     1.  Start with doing what you can to stay sharp physically. If that’s walking two miles a day, then start with that.  Notice the birds, children, trees and sky as you’re walking.

     2.  Spend at least two hours every day reading or listening to positive, uplifting materials.

     3.  Invite a friend and treat yourself to a great concert – in every city I visit there are amazing concerts at the local universities and churches every week.

     4.  Take a class – there are multiple agencies and churches offering free career transition classes and workshops in nearly any city. 

     5.  Volunteer to help someone else.  A man asked Dr. Carl Menninger, “What would you advise a person to do if he felt a nervous breakdown coming on?” Most people expected him to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person.”  Helping at one of the prisons, your local mission or the Salvation Army will do wonders for helping you see your own brighter future.

Making deposits of success in life areas aside from the career and financial pieces are the best way to prepare yourself for success in those areas ultimately.  If you are depleted in personal areas you will come across as weak and needy when presenting yourself for a job opportunity.

None of these are directly related to getting a new job, starting another business, rebuilding your health, or finding another friend and yet they are very much related.  From these actions come the boldness, confidence and enthusiasm necessary to nurture the success you are seeking in the work area.

“They say when one door of happiness closes, another opens.  But
the problem is… we look so long at the closed door that we
never notice the open one.”