Archive for July, 2009

Never Catch the Fox

July 30, 2009

I had the privilege recently of meeting with a distinguished businessman.  And no, I didn’t go to a nursing home to see this gentleman.  Bill is now 81 years old but came to my office with a very big business proposal for a joint venture that would gain full benefit in the next 3-5 years.  He had a spring in his step and a sparkle in his eyes – obviously enjoying every minute of our business discussion. 

In asking a little about his background, Bill shared that he had some early successes in business and “retired” to an island just off the east coast in 1991 – eighteen years ago at the age of 63.  He had achieved the success he was looking for and would never have to worry about money again.  And then he told me, “Living on that island was the most miserable four years of my life.”  He returned to his roots in business and re-engaged in the daily challenges that drove him previously. 

His summary of what happened was simply – “Never catch the fox.”  What do the hounds do if they ever catch the fox, or what does a dog do if he actually catches the car?  Watch them sit down and lose interest quickly.  Cervantes said, “The road is better than the inn.” 

Don’t think reaching your goal is the only thrill.  Understand that the process of getting there is actually more thrilling than arriving.  I loved Bill’s gentle reminder to me to not just dream of the future – but to savor today.  Enjoy every step of your journey!

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Who’s Got Your Back?

July 28, 2009

Last Thursday my daughter Ashley and I drove down to Atlanta to attend author Keith Ferrazzi’s presentation on his newest book – Who’s Got Your Back?  Keith talked about the critical importance of having 3 deep personal relationships. 

The University of Phoenix has discovered that if someone has a study buddy they are three times more likely to complete their program compared to someone trying to do it alone.

Bishop T.D. Jakes  says that we all need someone to weep with us when we weep and to rejoice with us when we rejoice.  He says you can’t be a David until you find your Jonathan.

As a young eager learner I read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.  In that old classic the author made it clear that we all need a MasterMind Group – a practice that I continue today with my Wednesday morning Eagles Group. 

On Thursday night Keith told us that if you have 3 trusting relationships you are set up to experience a disproportionate level of success.  In the research for the book they found that roughly 50% of Americans could not identify one person who has their back. 

If you’re struggling, perhaps the next step in releasing your success is not another degree, a guaranteed salary, a bank loan, a secure patent or a winning lottery ticket – but rather a friend you can confide in.  How do you find a friend?  Be the friend everyone is looking for. 

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In a recent newsletter I listed the tips for How to Win Friends — and Jobs  

Have you created a money machine or just a “job?”

July 28, 2009

I’m currently working with a physician, a high level specialist who is respected nationally.  Yet his description of his situation is summed up in – “I’m at the top of my game and I have no life.”  Yes, working 100 hours a week will culminate in that unfortunate end result, no matter how excellent your work may be. 

This physician is trapped in the model of generating linear income only.  He gets paid very well but as soon as he stops operating or consulting his income stops as well. 

Is it possible to leverage his expertise in ways that will create income while he sleeps? – Absolutely.  Here’s just one example:

Every year he speaks at Harvard Medical School on the business principles used by Four Seasons Hotel for excellent customer service and employee commitment.  He does this for free and just enjoys the break from his office (while his income stops). 

My recommendation to him is this:  Look at your Four Seasons presentation as a body of intellectual property rather than just as a speech.  You’ve already done the hard work to create the content.  Consider:

  • Creating a 3-ring binder instructional manual complete with your text, graphs, charts, and perhaps an audio CD or a demonstration DVD.   And suddenly you have a residual income possibility.  If the message is focused toward medical students then your marketing focus would be quite simple to develop.  If you gave that a great title with an attractive physical presentation you could position it at maybe $189.  Your target market is easy to identify.  If you sold to only 1% of the 301,270 physicians in the United States alone, you would significantly increase your net income from that one thing alone.  And the pressure of continuing your income with the insane hours required would evaporate.
  • Having the very prestigious Harvard University as your established venue, you could now offer to make the same presentation to 12 other medical schools.  Yes, you could still offer to come for free – or perhaps just ask for travel expenses.  But then approach 3-4 major corporate sponsors for let’s say a $20,000 sponsorship package.  Pfizer, Mercedes, Bank of America and Four Seasons are just the beginning possibilities.  You can modify those numbers any way you want but the implications are clear.  Here’s a step-by-step guide for writing a corporate sponsorship proposal

Most of you reading this probably have a similar area of intellectual expertise.  How could you leverage what you know rather than just doing what you do?  What other opportunities do you have for creating residual income? 

Principles from No More Mondays

Drowning in details?

July 20, 2009

Are you exhausted with the bombardments of deadlines, required planning meetings, urgent emails, tweets and 55 more people who want to “friend” you on FaceBook?  Maybe you need to disconnect from those demands that consume your days. 

Have you considered a few days in a monastery?  I’m serious.  No, you don’t have to take a vow of chastity or poverty – just spend a few days in this alternate lifestyle.  There are hundreds of them across the country that will welcome you into their quiet world.  You may want to sign up for a retreat with a focus.  A retreat is a time to “take off your shoes,” to leave schedules and projects behind, and to be open and vulnerable – ready to be changed and deepened, and to view one’s own life as “holy ground.”

You may just need a few days of simple living, quiet and solitude with no stated focus.   “We open our doors to anyone,” says Sister Josie Sanchez, of the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs.  “And if a person can’t afford the $50 per night fee for accommodations and food, they can work around the property,” she says.  Another center says they will help you “Retreat, Rest, Reflect, and Renew.”

I personally have spent time at the The Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky.  You may be familiar with this monastery as the home of author Thomas Merton.  One of their stated goals is to “tone down excessive self-concern.”  Thus there is no talking.  Yes, it’s a little odd at first but I quickly got used to and welcomed it.  A wonderful time for contemplation, prayer and cleansing.  All they ask for is an anonymous donation as you leave.  No phones, TV or email will cause any of us to think and reflect in ways we normally miss.  Believe me, you will hear, see and think things you’ve been missing all along.  You may get a clearer sense of your purpose in the absence of daily clutter and chatter.  And most of these monasteries have an architectural beauty that is rare in the United States.    

Monastery1

Here’s a list of over 1200 monasteries in the English-speaking world:  Religious Life Communities 

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I had already posted this blog when I got a message about an upcoming John Michael Talbot retreat at his monastery farm in Berryville, Arkansas.  John Michael was a very successful member of the old country folk/rock band Mason Proffit, but decided to withdraw from that life.  On August 7-9, 2009 he’ll be teaching Lessons of St. Francis.  The registration fee is only $200.   Or you can wait until the following week and catch Michael Card at the same retreat center.   

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As in most areas of our lives, we get to choose.  Do you want one more draining trip to Disneyland or a few days of quiet, peaceful silence?

Will you pay for a “free” book?

July 20, 2009

In a controversial new book — FREE, Chris Anderson (editor Wired Magazine) says that natural forces are pushing us toward making all intellectual content free to the consumer.  Wow – what does that mean for newspapers, magazines, websites, authors and musicians.  He says that musicians better get used to having people download their songs for free – yes, they will continue to make money, but it will be from live events and merchandise – not the songs themselves.  For authors it will be the same thing – give away the content and make money with events and merchandise. 

Now what would you expect the price to be on his book – Free?  Well, yes it is free – kinda. 

Free

I’ve created a link where you can find the entire book – absolutely free.  Just open and read.  And if you are currently marketing intellectual content in any way, you need to read this book.  Here’s your link:  Free book

If you prefer the audio, here’s a link for the free audio:   Free audio  At least listen to the sample clip under the book graphic.  It will give you a great overview of the book’s contents. 

But here’s the irony.  While the book is titled Free and is readily available in either print or audio format, it is also available from Amazon as a traditional hardcover book.  Free on Amazon It sells for a pricey $26.99 and is currently at #191, which means thousands of them are selling. 

Does it surprise you that a book can be “free” and still be selling briskly at $26.99.  Welcome to the new world of marketing, where everything is changing and some things seem counterintuitive.  If you are a musician, author, journalist, pastor or teacher, you need to recognize the changing world of “selling.”  There is a new term that captures where business is going – “conversational marketing.” 

There’s even a website called TheFreeSite.com.   How are you prepared to generate income if what you are providing is expected for free?

Need an Extra $15,000?

July 14, 2009

Need an extra $15,000?  I have a proposition for you.  Recently I purchased 5000 copies of the Spanish edition of 48 Days to the Work You Love from my publisher.  While sales of 48 Days to the Work You Love continue to rock I didn’t really have any plan for these Spanish versions and as of right now they are just sitting in our warehouse.  So before I initiate my own plan to sell these out I’m offering you an opportunity to exercise your creativity and innovation.  Many of you are looking for new opportunities.  New opportunities come easiest with new ways of thinking, so here’s your chance. 

This book retails for $9.95.  I’ll give you anything over $3.00 each. So if you discount them 40% and sell them for $6.00 each you’ll get 5000 x $3.00 or $15,000.  Sell them for $7.00 each and you’ll get $20,000.  Get a deal for $3.50 and you’ll get $2500.  You determine where you’ll end up. 

48 Days -- Spanish Version

You could:

  • Have one included in each freshman welcome packet at the University of Mexico this fall.
  • Include a book in McDonald’s Happy Meal.
  • Have Bank of America give a book as a bonus with any new account opened in San Antonio.
  • Recycle the paper and print your own book.
  •  ??????

What I want is an imaginative but doable plan to sell all 5000 copies.  I don’t want a plan to sell 50 or 100.  I reserve the right to accept or reject any plan presented – but trust me, I’m open to something really radical.  You’ve got until the end of July.  You don’t need any investment, any credit approval process – only your unique plan.  And I do mean a plan – I don’t want just an idea that I have to implement.  You make the arrangements – close the deal!

This could be your ticket for several months’ mortgage payments or your nest egg for your own business start-up.  The clock is ticking.  Be the first with a real plan and we’ll let everyone know how brilliant you are.   Just post your plan here – you’ll obviously be credited with the idea if you’re first in line.

Just Gimme a Little More Time!

July 14, 2009

In the first few moments of the movie Collateral, the taxi driver, played by Jamie Foxx, tells Tom Cruise’s character: “I’m not in this for the long haul.  This is just filling in—I’m putting some things together—I’m going to open my own limo service.” Cruise asks him, “How long you been doing this?” To which the taxi driver replies, “Twelve years.”

This is a classic example of how life happens.  I once saw a client who had taken a temporary job at a bank. He knew that wasn’t where he wanted to be; it was just a fill-in job while he did his real job search. That was fourteen years ago. Life just happened; he got used to where he was and didn’t take enough initiative to move on to a higher level of success.

Here is a step-by-step process for change (with example clarifications):

1. Clarify your current situation.

  • I have been in the same job for twelve years with no change in sight.
  • I detest the monotony of my job.

2. Seek the advice and opinions of other people.

  • I will ask four or five trusted friends or professionals what they would do if they were in my situation.
  • I will ask the members of my Sunday School class what they would advise.

3. Identify the alternatives.

  • I could go back to school and get a degree in education.
  • I could create a clear focus and do a job search with a company with some advancement potential.
  • I could start my own chauffeuring service.
  • I could request a manager’s position with my current company.

4. Choose the best alternative.

  • I will start my own chauffeuring service.

5. Act.

  • I will create my business plan in the next thirty days, give my two weeks’ notice fifteen days after that, aggressively plan to purchase my own vehicle by that time, and be open for business sixty days from now.

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Whether it’s choosing a new school, a new place to live, a new car, or a retirement center for a parent, you must keep a clear deadline in view.  Otherwise, procrastination will lead to indecision.

The point is this: Don’t wait on perfect conditions for success to happen; just go ahead and do something.

Okay the Ferrari limo — that may be just my dream, but anything’s possible

Lemonade Stands Rock

July 13, 2009

Want your children to understand business?  The lemonade stand is the American classic for that first business experience.  If your child is between 5 and 12 years old you can help them enter this annual INC magazine contest.  Entries must be in by August 24th.  Just start here — Lemonade Stand.  And be sure to watch the twin boys who won last years contest.  These little guys have a punch card program for regular customers and allow prospects to shoot baskets for discounts and prizes.

When I was 10 years old I would get up very early in the morning, pick the remaining sweet corn beyond what my Mom wanted for family use, and load a little trailer that I could pull behind our farm’s Ford tractor.  After driving two miles into town I would proudly set up and sell that corn for $.30 a dozen.   When my oldest son Kevin was 14 we sent him to a window tinting training in Atlanta.  He then launched a very profitable business that funded his bicycle racing travel and expenses.  When younger son Jared was 14 and looking for a summer income generator we made up fliers announcing his bicycle repair services.  He provided free pick-up and delivery to our 438 house neighborhood as his unique selling proposition (USP) for a very profitable summer that did not require Mom or Dad driving him to his “job.”  Both sons now head up their own businesses. 

Are you teaching your children business principles?  How to provide a product or service that people want?  The experience of accepting responsibility, controlling costs and making a profit may be more valuable than sitting passively in one more class.  It may also give them insulation from being fired, laid off, or downsized.

Read and Succeed

July 10, 2009

If there is one thing to which I could attribute any success I’ve had it would have to be the reading I have done.  I never tire of absorbing the wisdom of the ages that is so readily available.  And I have become more and more aware of how little reading of great books and listening to great messages people who continue to struggle have typically done.  Every week I talk to people who see no opportunities and struggle in many areas of their lives. When I ask the titles of the last six books they’ve read, they often look at me with a blank stare. 

The wealth of information readily available is astounding.  You can become an “expert” in nearly any area in 30 days if you simply read 3 books on that topic.  You’ll bypass 98% of the population in knowledge on that particular topic.

I just received a link to the first three chapters of my friend Mark Victor Hansen’s newest book – Cash in a Flash.  Mark is a gentle and generous spirit who shares readily about the mind set and actions that lead to success.  In Cash in a Flash he provides a formula for success:

Success = a focused mind + a determined heart + a team of focused, determined people

Even if you are a solopreneur you can still have a team of people around you.  Create your own mastermind group, Eagles Club or whatever you want to call it.  Don’t miss the power of like minds. 

Here are the first three chapters of Cash in a Flash

And if you want my personal recommended reading list, here it is:  Dan’s Reading List

Why did God do this to me?

July 6, 2009

Here’s a question from a reader – an engineer.  (We’ll call him Bill)

I’m at a job that I hate mainly because I feel like every day I’m set up to fail. There’s no job satisfaction. I go to work and try my best but the bosses and organization demand excellence in everything that we do. That is a good goal to have but there’s no way to accomplish all that needs to be and do it perfectly. ………So why would God place me in a situation like that for 8yrs??

Bill, be very careful about asking “Why did God put me in this place?” I certainly believe God is omnipotent – but I don’t think He micromanages the little details in our lives. I think our own decisions lead us to where we are. But that’s hopeful, because you can make new decisions that put you in a different place. Don’t wait for supernatural movement — just start by seeing what you can do to move yourself in a new direction in the next 30-60 days.

When I found myself at the negative end of a business deal a few years ago with $430,000 owed to creditors I’m sure I could have asked, Why did God do this to me?  But instead I looked back at the series of decisions I had made that put me in that position.  Yes, in reading Proverbs each day I was amazed to see the biblical principles I had violated in getting me to that unfortunate crisis.  God had not done that to me.  I simply made decisions that resulted in that end result.  And I very quickly made decisions to walk out of that horrible experience. 

Sometimes we assume that our current situation reflects random, individual, disconnected events.  But seldom is that true.  Rather, we are where we are because each decision we make is a step in a particular direction.  And over time that direction determines our position in our work, our finances, our health, our relationships and our spiritual well-being.  If you think God did this to you, then it justifies doing nothing until God again decides to change your situation.  And in doing nothing I see people open the door to blaming, resentment, anger, guilt and depression.  I think God deserves better from us.

You can look back and see how the path you have been following has gotten you to where you are.  If you don’t like the direction it is taking you, what are you willing to do to put yourself on a different path?