Archive for May, 2010

American Idol – you can do it!

May 25, 2010

Okay, here’s an example of the power of this 48Days.net community.  On May 11th, on our weekly telemember call, I had 48Days.net member Chad Jeffers as my guest.  As Carrie Underwood’s guitarist he called in from Austin, TX that night.  We talked about his rise in music and his newly released book, 25 Notes for the Successful Musician.

Another member, Brian Griffith was listening to that interview.  The next morning he contacted me.  As the owner and designer of Anthology Gear Wear, he just wondered if there would be any way I could get one of his amazingly beautiful straps in Chad’s hands.  I simply connected the two – and here’s the potential of this community.  Brian has sent Chad one of his straps – and Chad is going to be using it tomorrow night when former Idol winner Carrie is performing on the season finale of American Idol.

In a note I received from Chad he said:  “The last time I played a particular guitar on the Grammy’s a few years ago, the luthier (builder) received 10 orders the next week!!  Hopefully I’ll have a strong impact for Brian.”

How would you like to have your product seen by the estimated 22 million viewers expected for the Wednesday night show?

Not all of us make guitar straps or play with Carrie Underwood.  But the real question is — what creative ideas are you using to actively increase the marketing exposure for your business?

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I’ve got a dirty mind

May 23, 2010

Sunday morning I walked down our long lane to retrieve the newspaper we get once a week.  It was a beautiful summer morning – birds were signing, the neighbor’s horses ran to the fence to greet me and I saw four new baby rabbits.

Upon returning to the house I sat on the porch to scan through the newspaper.  Do you think that added to the pleasure and positive excitement of the day?

No, instead, I read of major flood damage, property lawsuits, investment fraud, bank failures, car wrecks, foreclosure auctions, oil-soaked marshes, nuclear waste pollution, Agent Orange illnesses, FEMA financial waste, political anger, immigration disputes, 4 upcoming death-row executions, religious hate here in Nashville, an athletic hero arrested, $100 million art theft, priest sex abuse, 2 police officers killed, “fear grips Bankok,” toxic mold dangers, fecal matter in public pools, rapist convicted, and “double-dip” recession feared.

Okay – so much for the beginning of a great day.  If our minds are like mental factories, what am I likely to produce if these thoughts are the raw ingredients I pour into it each morning?

When I walk into someone’s house, the first thing I want to see is their library.  If the only reading material I find is the daily paper, the National Enquirer and US, I’ll doubt that person’s ability to do anything great.

I used to rationalize getting the Sunday paper because of the many coupons – but I’m not sure wanting those justifies allowing the bad news they’re wrapped in into my house.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “The first hour is the rudder of the day — The Golden Hour”

I’m very protective of how I start each morning.  I know I’m planting the seeds for what the day will hold.  Today I need a mind cleaning.

“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.

Sweet CeCe’s

May 17, 2010

We live in Franklin, TN, a quaint little town with rich heritage and eateries. Recently a new place – Sweet CeCe’s popped up in a space that has been used unsuccessfully by several sandwich, coffee and ice cream businesses.  So I cringed when I saw yet another “yogurt” place open there recently.  And frankly I thought here goes someone else’s failed dream.

Friday night Joanne and I were cruising through town at and I suggested we at least try this little place.  After parking we walked past Ben & Jerry’s (5 customers present) and Starbucks (8 people inside).  We approached Sweet CeCe’s and I thought there must be some kind of party going on – people were everywhere, with a waiting line of about 20 people.  Being curious – and awed by what we had seen – we visited it again Sunday night at about 10:00 PM.  Being a balmy evening probably helped.  But there were over 50 people standing around outside enjoying their Sweet CeCe’s cups.  Inside there were another 30 seated and approximately 40 in line.

What’s the deal?  Every business has to have a “unique selling proposition” (USP).  At Sweet CeCe’s you draw your own yogurt, add you own fresh fruit toppings or any of a wide variety of goodies, then have your treat weighed and pay by the weight.  There are no prices shown for anything – you simply make your concoction and pay by the weight.  The menu is very limited and not unlike plenty of other establishments.  But their USP draws like a magnet.

Do you know your USP?  Whether you are an employee, physician, dentist, pastor, teacher, web designer, author, artist, musician, human resource director, professor, politician, or entrepreneur, you must know what makes you remarkable.  Without that, your success will be mediocre or non-existent.

I think I need a wife!

May 14, 2010

How’s this for a thought-provoking question from a female reader:

“Men have the luxury of a wife to hold down the fort while they concentrate on their job. How can women prioritize and still make progress in starting a business. And I still need to work part-time at my former job as I begin my new career. I think *I* need a wife!”

We all have 168 hours a week.  Do a zero-based budget where you decide in advance how you will allocate those 168 hours.  You may in fact need an assistant – if you imply that a “wife” does all those things that could be done by someone else and keep you from doing your highest leveraged activities.  I tell people that in a small business like mine there are probably 20-25 different areas of responsibility that need to be covered.  I do maybe 2 or 3 of those really well.  And that’s where I want to spend my time.  So yes, I have lots of people whose skills compliment my own.  Not “employees” but simply service providers who are categorized as free-lance, independent contractors or something similar.  I have about 15 such people who then allow me to do what I love most – thinking and writing.

You can find a virtual assistant that can help you with lots of things you may be doing yourself – freeing you up to do those activities that give you a higher return.

Here are just a few places to find your “wife:”

http://www.odesk.com/w/

http://www.elance.com/

http://www.virtualassistantisrael.com/

http://www.contemporaryva.com/home/

http://www.isimplifyva.com/

http://www.48days.net/ search  “virtual assistant”

Now that I think about it I am blessed with a harem – and Joanne approves — how cool is that?

Sell Baby Sell

May 14, 2010

Here is a note I received for my podcast this week:

Dan, I have been in sales since the late 80s, but never considered myself a salesman. It was the career that chose me when I needed a job.  I’m tired. My self-esteem is probably at an all-time low. I have been relegated to again looking for sales positions that pay what I need to sustain my current lifestyle. I feel I am truly living Henry David Thoreau’s quote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

When you say you don’t want to be in “sales” you imply you don’t want to have to work that hard or be paid for “results.”  No one should be expected to be paid for their “time.’   Ultimately we are all paid because we are selling something.  Whether you are a teacher, pastor, librarian, receptionist or computer programmer, you are “selling” what you do.  That’s the only way to expect compensation.  Selling in its purest form is simply sharing enthusiasm.  If you see a great movie and tell 20 friends – you are selling.  If you go to a wonderful restaurant and then spread the word – you are selling.  We all get paid for sharing our enthusiasm.  What you need is to find something you are so passionate about that you want everyone else around you to experience the same benefits you are enjoying.

To get this next job, you are “selling” yourself.  To keep a job you are “selling.”  To start your own business you are “selling.”  To get paid for anything you are “selling.”  Don’t back away from selling.  Just find that “fit” and you’ll find your self-esteem, confidence, boldness and enthusiasm will all skyrocket.

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.