Archive for June, 2010

Business is up and down – that’s good

June 29, 2010

Pat Cuartero was a Merrill Lynch analyst.  But as he says – he discovered a higher purpose – getting more people in New York City to play with yo-yos.  He funded his startup with $8,000 on credit cards and netted $32,000 in the first five months.  It was enough to persuade him to leave his “real job” and develop his passion for yo-yos.

Instead of just selling yo-yos, Pat developed YoYoNation – a robust community of enthusiasts.  There are blogs, forums, contests, and yes, you must register to be part of the community before you can buy a yo-yo.

He’s projecting $1.6 million in sales by the end of this year.  You can get cases, string, bearings, t-shirts and other gear once you’re part of the community.  You can start with the standard Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo for $2.99 or step up to the handmade Oxy Ti titanium model for $549.99.

Anyone remember Tiddlywinks or the Slinky?  Probably just waiting for a champion to come along.

What’s your passion and what are you doing to develop it?

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Poverty or Simplicity?

June 28, 2010

The current “recession” or economic downturn has prompted many people to enjoy a healthier, greener, ecologically responsible, and simpler lifestyle.  So what is the difference between poverty and simplicity?

If I’m angry that I can’t afford a new Ferrari I may feel that I’ve been doomed to poverty.  However, if I enjoy the classic lines and character of a 20-year old sports car that I can easily afford, then it appears I have chosen simplicity.  If I “can’t afford” to eat at Ruth’s Chris I may begrudge the government’s tax and economic policies.  If Joanne and I invite some friends over for a potluck dinner where our contribution comes from our neighbor’s left-over cucumbers and tomatoes, our peace of mind may originate from our choice for simplicity.

John Robbins turned down his family’s Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune in order to “live a far more simple and earth-friendly life.” He and his wife built a tiny one-room log cabin on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where they grow most of their own food.  John says, “This isn’t about deprivation.  It’s about choice and self-determination.”

The dictionary defines “poverty” as – “The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.”  The definition of simplicity is – “the absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.”

Could it be that whether we live in “poverty” or “simplicity” is primarily a choice of how we view our situation?  Simplicity has many rewards that go beyond saving money.    Among those may be the experience of living well.

One of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau once said: “For my greatest skill has been to want but little.” In Walden he expands on his choice to live simply:  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”

If you’re in challenging financial times, don’t miss the opportunity to suck out all the marrow of life.  When good times return you are likely to find that your giving goes to 20 or 30% while your simplicity remains the same.

Reverse Telecommuting

June 27, 2010

There are so many new words being birthed by the changing workplace.  Words like “googling” as a verb, electronic immigrants, prairie dogging, ohnosecond, blamestorming, seagull manager, chainsaw consultant, flight risk, assmosis, uninstalled, and cube farm.

We all understand the term “telecommuting” – when you have work from the office to complete at home.  How about the opposite of that – “reverse telecommuting.”  This is the commonplace practice of bringing personal work to the office. It’s no secret a whole lot of time is spent with employees paying personal bills, making personal phone calls, making flight arrangements, medical and social appointments, reading online newspapers, updating FaceBook, and texting family members – all on company time.

Arguably, some of these can only be handled during normal work hours, but how much is acceptable?  According to a recent survey by Salary.com, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.  Yes, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when they determine employee pay.  However, the survey indicates employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.  Estimates are that employers are spending $769 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

Would you be willing to be paid for results only, rather than for time spent in the office?  Would that increase or decrease your compensation?

Write a book – you’ve got to be kidding

June 24, 2010

I love writing in all its forms: blogs, articles, books, etc.  However, the statistics for choosing this as a career are dismal.  One in four Americans does not read one book per year.  Over 200,000 new books were published last year.  Average book sales for a Christian book put out by a major publisher are about 4,000 copies.  AuthorSolutions reports that sales of their self-published titles average about 150 copies each.  The average sales overall for a book published in America is about 500.  Yes, sales of eBooks is growing.  But if you think that technology is eliminating “real” books you’ll be interested to know that eBooks comprised about 4% of the overall dollars ($23.9 billion) in book sales in 2009.

Garrison Keillor recently commented on the sustainability of the publishing industry, in the Chicago Tribune:  “I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea.  We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (UR2 1derful)…The future of publishing: 18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives.  Average annual earnings:  $1.75.”

If you care about statistics and averages, the information above is enough to discourage and redirect anyone.  But what if writing is your passion?  Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol hit the #1 spot last year at 5,543,643 copies sold.   Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue sold 2,674,684 copies.  Obviously, there are still some amazing opportunities in writing books.  Have you identified why your book should be written?

I currently have six book projects in the works.  I can’t imagine doing anything else that I would enjoy as much – or that could bring me more success.  The bad news doesn’t discourage me but it does remind me that I must write with excellence – as success in any area requires.

Just gimme a faster horse

June 23, 2010

As thinkers, inventors and entrepreneurs we hear a lot of clichés.  “Find a need and fill it.”  “The customer is always right.”  “Winners never quit; quitters never win.”  And so on.  But as entrepreneurs we recognize that common clichés are often not true at all – as with those just mentioned.

If you wait for your customers to tell you what they want, you’re going to be too late.  You’ll go the way of universities that “teach” business practices that have already been used for 5 years by the brightest and best in real business.

What did customers in Henry Ford’s day want – not the Model T; they wanted faster horses.  Giving customers what they want will force you to be playing catch-up with competitors.  Steve Jobs doesn’t give customers what they want – he creates innovative and unheard of products and then wows people into wanting them.

If you provide the service your employer wants you will get a paycheck and two days off a week (feed the nice horsey).  What would happen if you provided an idea or service that would transform your company?

Go ahead — Astonish me

June 22, 2010

Astonish is not a word we hear much.  But what is it you do that is brilliant, amazing, excellent, remarkable, essential, extraordinary, outstanding, noteworthy, incredible or astonishing?

What is it that displays your personal best – your personal brilliance?

The story is told that one day the great artist, Picasso, was walking in the market.  A woman approached him, handed him a pencil and piece of paper, and asked, “Can you do a little drawing for me.”   Picasso replied, “Absolutely.”  He did a quick little drawing and handed it back to the lady.  She looked at it and said – “That’s amazing.” After thanking him she started to walk away.  Picasso stopped her and said “Excuse me, that’ll be $1 million.”  She said, “One million dollars – that took you 30 seconds.”  To which Picasso replied, “My dear lady, it took me 30 years to do that.”

A fellow comedian once asked Steve Martin, “How can I become as well known as you are?”  Steve told him, “Be so good at what you do that people cannot ignore you.”

There are only 3 legs to extraordinary success:

  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • How can you do that with excellence – perhaps better than anyone else?
  • What’s your economic model.  How are you generating income?

Integrating these 3 components will separate you from 97% of the people on the face of the earth.  How can you be the Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, Bono, Mother Teresa or Billy Graham in your area of passion?  Don’t let false humility keep you from sharing your best with the world.  Go ahead — Astonish me.

Pray with your legs

June 15, 2010

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” — Frederick Douglass

Okay – I referenced this quotation last week and it continues to prompt a whole lot of questions from you, our readers. People want to know what that means, and furthermore, can I find scripture to support whatever it means.

Yes, I see far too many people who are “praying” for solutions and answers – and simply living in that prayerful mode – hands folded and eyes closed, waiting on God to supernaturally give them the specific answer that will remove their challenge. So, just how does God answer our prayers?

Imagine any of these situations with me:

  • You really need a job
  • You’d like a better car
  • You want to make peace with your spouse
  • Your lawn mower is broken
  • You want to have a best-selling book
  • You would like to have a college degree
  • You want to be a more effective parent
  • You must have $5,000 for a new air conditioning unit

I believe God is the providential supplier of everything we need. But I also believe that his delivery system requires our active participation – “praying with our legs.” If you need a job identify 30-40 target companies; contact them each three times and God will provide a job. If you want a best-selling book write something of value then be willing to persist through the rejection of 14 publishers as Max Lucado did with his first book (his books have now sold over 30 million copies.) – and watch God open doors. If you want a college degree explore six options for doing so that are possible even while you continue working. Block out 2 hours a day for focused study and see God allow that degree to be yours.

And can I find scripture to support faith and prayer that involve our legs? Oh yeah. My favorite is in Exodus 14:15. Moses is dealing with those whining, complaining children of Israel who see the Egyptians coming after them in the desert. I can just see them on their knees, praying and begging God to solve their problems. And the verse says – “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!’” (Living Bible)

God provides food for the birds – but he doesn’t just show up and throw it in their nest. Sometimes the exercise of faith we need most may be to engage our spiritual quadriceps, stretch those hamstrings and use our gluteus maximus for something other than supporting our head while we pray.

Are you a Linchpin?

June 6, 2010

Okay – I’m going to assume that anyone who clicks through to this is familiar with Seth Godin’s book titled Linchpin.  On June 14th there will be meetups all over the world for those who consider themselves Linchpins.

In this new world of building one’s own brand we all understand the power of networking.  The events taking place on June 14th are a great example of connecting with like-minded people whose skills likely compliment your own.

There are now 772 Linchpin meetup locations registered.  We’ll be hosting one of those here at The Sanctuary in Franklin, TN.  If you are in this area and consider yourself a Linchpin, feel free to join us.  Wherever you happen to live, check out the Linchpin meetup near you.  All Linchpin Meetups worldwide

Don’t miss out on a free opportunity to grow your network – and your business.

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?

If you kill the Golden Goose, this will….

June 1, 2010

Here’s a note I received this week from someone who wants to be a coach.

”Dan –With the poverty of the USA my spirit doesn’t feel right charging the poor that need help for coaching them in the right direction. Out of the love in my heart for others and their burdens I cannot see putting a boundary up (money) for what I know can help them.”


Coaching is a helping service – as I hope whatever you are doing in work is a helping service.  Coaching is not unique in being the only way to help others.  So we could substitute anything you do in the following sentence:

”With the poverty of the USA my spirit doesn’t feel right charging the poor that need help”

  • making their house payment
  • getting groceries
  • having dental work
  • fixing a plumping problem
  • repairing their car
  • preparing their taxes
  • getting legal help
  • having competent daycare
  • knowing how to get a job
  • keeping their yard trimmed or
  • having access to great books

I too have a heart for the downtrodden.  I allow 10% of my time for humanitarian and ministry needs.  That allows me to address those needs and still provide for my family.  But I couldn’t spend 90% of my time helping the poor – I’d simply become one of them and deplete my ability to help.  It’s impossible to give when your own cup is empty.  A sincere desire to help and serve can kill the golden goose just as much as raw greed.