Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Most List

Yes, a new year and new decade is fast approaching, but I would like to point out a few things about this New Year’s Eve that are pretty unique. First, tonight we will experience a Blue Moon. For those who do not know, it is when a full moon occurs within the same month, and it is very rare to have it on New Year’s Eve (next one is in 19 years). Secondly, instead of looking back at the year, some time ago I made a list of the MOST. These are kind of universal in their application, and thought it would make a nice addition as I wish you a very Happy New Year.

The most destructive habit: Worry
The greatest joy: Giving
The kindest word: Thanks
The greatest loss: Loss of Self-respect
The most satisfying work: Helping Others
The ugliest personality trait: Selfishness
The most endangered species: Dedicated Leaders
Our greatest natural resource: Our Youth
The greatest "shot in the arm": Encouragement
The most effective sleeping pill: Peace of Mind
The most crippling failure disease: Excuses
The most powerful force in life: Love
The most dangerous pariah: A Gossiper
The worlds most incredible computer: Your Brain
The worst thing to be without: Hope
The deadliest weapon: The Tongue
The two most power-filled words: "I Can"
The greatest asset: Faith
The most worthless emotion: Self-pity
The most beautiful attire: A Smile
The most prized possession: Integrity
Life’s Best Defense: A Friend
The most contagious spirit: Enthusiasm

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Universal Equine Equitation

"In the history of man, there have always been more horses' asses than horses."
--Jeffrey Fry

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Slanted Sayings (humor)

While I keep a blog of quotations ( I found these idioms, quips and idioms funny and an interesting spin on the obvious. Hope you enjoy them?

1. A day without sunshine is like night.

2. On the other hand, you have different fingers.

3. 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

4. 99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

5. Remember, half the people you know are below average.

6. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

7. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

8. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese in the trap.

9. Support bacteria. They're the only culture most people have.

10. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

11. Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

12. If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

13. How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.

14. OK, so what's the speed of dark?

15. When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

16. Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

17. How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

18. Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

19. What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?

20. Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

21. Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, 'What the heck happened?'

22. Just remember -- if the world didn't suck, we would all fall off.

23. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Inspirational Religious Humor

Marriage and Heaven
On their way to get married, a young Catholic couple is Involved in a fatal car accident.
The couple find themselves Sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to Process them into Heaven.
While waiting, they wondered if they could possibly get married in Heaven?
When St. Peter showed up, they asked him.
St. Peter said, 'I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked.
Let me go find out,' and he leaves.
The couple sat and waited, and waited. Two months passed and the couple are still waiting.
As they waited, they discussed that if they were allowed to get married in Heaven, What was the eternal aspect of it all. 'What if it doesn't work?'
They wondered, 'Are we stuck together forever?'
After yet another month, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled.
'Yes,' he informs the couple, 'you can get married in Heaven.'
'Great!' said the couple, 'but we were just wondering, what if things don't work out?
Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?'
St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slammed his clipboard onto the ground.
'What's wrong?' asked the frightened couple.
OH, COME ON!', St. Peter shouted, 'It took me three months to find a priest up here! Do you have any idea how long it'll take me to find a Lawyer?!


One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, "I'm not going."
"Why not?" she asked.
I'll give you two good reasons," he said. "(1), they don't like me, and (2), I don't like them."
His mother replied, "I'll give YOU two good reasons why YOU SHOULD go to church.
(1) You're 59 years old, and (2) you're the pastor!"

The Picnic
A Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest met at the town's annual 4th of July picnic. Old friends, they began their usual banter.
"This baked ham is really delicious," the priest teased the rabbi. "You really ought to try it. I know it's against your religion, but I can't understand why such a wonderful food should be forbidden! You don't know what you're missing. You just haven't lived until you've tried Mrs. Hall's prized Virginia Baked Ham. Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try it?"
The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin, and said, "At your wedding."

The Usher
An elderly woman walked into the local country church.
The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps, "Where would you like to sit?" he asked politely.
"The front row please," she answered.
"You really don't want to do that," the usher said "The pastor is really boring."
"Do you happen to know who I am?" the woman inquired. "No." he said. "I'm the pastor's mother," she replied indignantly.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked. "No." she said. "Good," he answered.

Show and Tell
A kindergarten teacher gave her class a "show and tell" assignment.
Each student was instructed to bring in an object to share with the class that represented their religion.
The first student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Benjamin and I am Jewish and this is a Star of David."
The second student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Mary. I'm a Catholic and this is a Rosary."
The third student got in up front of the class and said, "My name is Tommy I am Methodist, and this is a casserole."

The Best Way To Pray
A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.
"Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray," the priest said.
"No," said the minister. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."
"You're both wrong," the guru said. "The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor."
The repairman could contain himself no longer.
"Hey, fellas," he interrupted. "The best prayin' I ever did was when I was hangin' upside down from a telephone pole."

The Twenty and the One
A well-worn one-dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty-dollar bill arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty-dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country.
"I've had a pretty good life," the twenty proclaimed.
"Why I've been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City , the finest restaurants in New York , performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean "
"Wow!" said the one-dollar bill. "You've really had an exciting life!"
"So tell me," says the twenty, "where have you been throughout your lifetime?"
The one dollar bill replies, "Oh, I've been to the Methodist Church , the Baptist Church , the Lutheran Church ."
The twenty-dollar bill interrupts, "What's a church?"

Goat for Dinner
The young couple invited their elderly pastor for Sunday dinner.
While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their son what they were having. "Goat," the little boy replied.
"Goat?" replied the startled man of the cloth, "Are you sure about that?"
"Yep," said the youngster. "I heard Dad say to Mom, 'Today is just as good as any to have the old goat for dinner."

Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seven Ingredients of Success

Recently I was reading a passage from Tom Morris’ Wisdom Institute that outlined the Seven Degrees of achievement. They include: Conception, Confidence, Concentration, Consistency, Commitment, Character, and Capacity

The art of successful achievement requires that we focus our energies toward favorable outcomes by living in accordance with seven universal conditions for positive achievement. In times of change, uncertainty, doubt, and turmoil you need to use these seven Cs constantly and relentlessly, as individuals and teams. A summary of each is listed below

A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a true and obtainable vision, and a goal clearly imagined and a passion easily followed.

If you do not know where you are going, you will most likely end up there. Setting a goal is often difficult when the world around you is rapidly changing or in a state of flux, but it is the most important thing you can do if you ever hope to truly be successful. A disciplined use of our intellects and imaginations to envision where will we be in the future will enable us to move forward productively as great problem solvers and creative examples to others.

A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain our goal and a willingness to continue in order make it through.

In situations of uncertainty or tremendous change, the first thing most people lose is their inner sense of confidence and their will to continue. Confidence is a state of mind and depends on your attitude and, as such, is within your control. Our confidence can be aided by how we think, talk, and act. In order to see your goal through to the end, you it to yourself, as well as to those around us, to keep going and maintain your confidence. Confidence is contagious and can drive success in surprising ways.

A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to keep going and reach the goal.

More people fail not because they are not talented, but because the take their eye off the ball. Concentration and the ability to narrow your focus is what will allow us to harness our strengths and abilities. You need to focus and refocus yourself in times of uncertainty and upheaval, and concentrate your thought and energy on what is required each day for the outcomes you seek.

A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing your vision and never giving up.

Consistency does not mean doing things the way they have always done, but keeping your actions in line with our highest goals and deepest values. In this way, consistency is more like integrity. The most powerful adaptation requires this kind of consistency as you adjust to new realities.

An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what you doing in order to feed your passion.

Passion fuels excellence, and commitment fuels passion. Without an emotional commitment to your work, and to the team around you, you can easily find that unexpected change or bump in the road saps your strength. People will be fickle, let you down, and discourage you everyday. They will say “It can’t be done.” A commitment of the heart will energize you to get past these naysayers and allow you to do great things in new ways.

A good CHARACTER to guide you when you are tempted to deviate allow you to keep on a proper course.

Character in all things counts! Change often calls for compromise, but never for a compromise of character or integrity. The stronger your core values and character is, the better you will weather any storm. Practicing ethics and integrity matters in all endeavors your do, both large and small.

The CAPACITY to expand and enjoy the journey along the way.

If you can laugh at the absurdities life often throws at us, and find aspects of our work to enjoy during even trying times, you can achieve creative, lasting results. A cheerful capacity will allow you to expand the six abilities listed above. Nothing can withstand the onslaught of laughter!

By practicing the overall art of change each day – following the simple requirements of self-control, positive action, and ongoing achievement – you can position yourself to make the most of any change that comes your way. We are the masters of our destiny if we can master adaptation.

The wisdom of the past can guide us reliably into creating the future we want and deserve. If you use these seven attributes every day, you can best live the adventures you are here in this world to have, and can attain forms of success that will sometimes surprise not only ourselves even more than it bewilders our neighbors.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Money and Velocity

Almost 9 months ago the government pumped in $757 Billion, that is right Billion, into the economy, but for some reason, they still do not realize that what they did, though noble, was not the most effect way of stimulating the economy. Why? It is because they do not understand the power of money’s momentum. Essentially, the faster money flows, the stronger you economy. Why? Well, as money moves through the system, its “effect” in multiplied by the number of times it exchanges hands. This velocity of money actually makes it seem like there is more money in the system than there actually is, or that the multiplicative effect of the existing money is greater as the velocity increases.

Back in school, I learned a few interesting equations about how velocity effects things. These include momentum, kinetic energy, and finally Einstein’s equation of relativity. To review these equations are:

momentum = mass * velocity

Kinetic Energy (KE)
KE = ½ mv
2 (where m=mass and v=velocity)

Finally, we all know the formula that Einstein came up to describe his theory of relativity, e=mc2 where “e” is energy, “m” is for mass and “c” is the speed of light.

While most economist focus on the “supply” of money in the form of M1, M2, and M3, in terms of the health of the economy, I really believe it is the velocity (or exchange per day, week, month, etc.) that have a much more profound effect on our present state of affairs.

Traditionally, money supply is defined in terms of M1, M2 and M3 and the definitions as Released by Fred (Federal Reserve Economic Data @ St. Louis) are listed below:

The terms M1, M2, M3 refer to the monetary aggregates. For quite some time it was thought that there was a perfect one to one relationship between these numbers and the rates of inflation. Recently this relationship seems to have broken down, and the money supply numbers have lost some of their appeal to market participants. It is still important to watch for strong growth in the money supply which might lead to inflationary pressures as money inflates aggregate demand.

M1: Technically defined this is the sum of: the tender that is held outside banks, travelers checks, checking accounts (but not demand deposits), minus the amount of money in the Federal Reserve float.

M2: The sum of: M1, savings deposits (this would include money market accounts from which no checks can be written), small denomination time deposits (where small is less than $100,000), retirement accounts.

M3: M2 plus the large time deposits (for any of you with more than $100,000 deposits you add to this...). Eurodollar deposits, dollars held at foreign offices of U.S. banks, and institutional money market funds.

While these are great indicators to show where money is being used, they are not the best in determining the health of the economy.

The main reason why the stimulus is NOT working is because the powers that be are not focusing on generating enough velocity of money. The reason why our economy went into a tailspin after the financial bailout was that the velocity of money in the hands of consumers went almost to one. This in turn made everyone “feel” poorer because know the multiplicative effect of money essentially was one. In addition, I have developed a formula for what I believe is a good indicator of how the velocity of money affects the strength of the economy below:


Where “E” stands for the economic health, “M” is the money supply, “k” is a constant yet to be determined, and “v” is the number of turns of money per month with its minimum being 1. Looking at this equations (which is similar to the formula for kinetic energy and Einstein’s theory of relativity equation), as “v” approaches 1, the strength of the economy becomes directly proportional to the total amount of money in the system.

In contrast, as you increase the velocity of money, its effect is exponential. As an example, if you can make the number of turns “v” increase to 4, then the multiplicative effect of that velocity is a 16 times increase.

This equation is valid more for M1. With M2 and M3, “v” tends to stand around 1 or 2. The only place where v increases to a more robust number is with M1. So, when the Government poured $757 Billion dollars to expand M2, they did very little in expanding the “effect” of the money they placed into the economy. In contrast, if they had focused on putting the money directing to consumers (M1), they might have had to put in far less money ($40 Billion) to get the same effect, or if the put in $700 Billion into M1, we would probably already be out of the Great Recession.

I am shocked that no one has brought this obviously glaring “miss” in the Stimulus Package, but then again, it seems like they all had their own agendas.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Teachers and Cops (humor)

This post is broken up into tow segments: The first is about actual comments made by New York City public school teachers about their students (of course, these teachers were reprimanded, but boy are they funny (and sad)). The second is about what police officers said to drivers taken from the police cams. Thanks Steve Ackley for the forward!
These are actual comments made on students' report cards by teachers in the New York City public school system. All teachers were reprimanded (.....but, boy, are these funny!)

1. Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.

2. I would not allow this student to breed.

3. Your child has delusions of adequacy.

4. Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

5. Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

6. The student has a 'full six-pack' but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.

7. This child has been working with glue too much.

8. When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.

9. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.

10. If this student were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week.

11. It's impossible to believe the sperm that created this child beat out 1,000,000 others.

12. The wheel is turning but the hamster is definitely dead...
These are actual comments made by 16 Police Officers. The comments were taken off actual police car videos around the country:

#16- 'You know, stop lights don't come any redder than the one you just went through.'

#15- 'Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch after you wear them a while.'

#14- 'If you take your hands off the car, I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document.'

#13- 'If you run, you'll only go to jail tired.'

#12- 'Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that's the speed of the bullet that'll be chasing you.'

#11- 'You don't know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?'

#10- 'Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I'm the shift supervisor?'

#9- 'Warning! You want a warning? O..K, I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket. '

#8- 'The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?'

#7- 'Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop.'

#6- 'Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven.'

#5- 'In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC.'

#4- 'How big were those 'two beers' you say you had?'

#3- 'No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we can.'

#2- 'I'm glad to hear that the Chief (of Police) is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail.'


#1- 'You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't. Sign here.'

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Return To Skilled Trades?

Recently, I have read a lot of blogs and articles voicing the concern that America is loosing its desire to "work" and that we are outsourcing all our manual or manufacturing work overseas.  If you have ever seen the show Dirty Jobs on the Discovery and/or Science channel, you'll recognize Mike Rowe. Below is a fidoe he made concerning this topic:

This video introduce and his plea to keep the "honesty" in an honest day's work. The synopsis of his plea is that his experiences as a traveling short-term apprentice for trade-type jobs has lead him to conclude that Americans are avoiding hard work or "dirty jobs" and that America is loathe to do the type of work to keep American strong. He feels that we have all become American Idles (not Idols).

So this begs the question:  "What is the likelihood that the tide can be reversed to show that jobs once considered "dirty (brown), honest jobs" which now fall under the umbrella of "blue collar" or manual labor, can be considered good, well paying, skilled labor?

I believe that this can happen. As Mike puts it: Brown before Green.

One thing about "skilled" trades: they CANNOT be shipped overseas! Yes, you MIGHT get immigrants to come in and suppress some jobs, but as things get MORE complicated, the skill set requirements for "manual" labor becomes more demanding, and untrained, uneducated laborers will not be able to compete for those jobs.

As an example, my oldest son has foregone college to become an auto mechanic that pays $40/hour! As he goes through the trades he can be earning $75/hour. He is bright enough to be an engineer, but feels "safer" with the skill trades, and plus he saves $200,000 in college costs while generating $100,000 in revenues. It will take him 20 years to make up that difference at zero interest, and 30 years at 6%!

So, economically, it is starting to make sense to look at the "trades" again.  Money, my friends, changes everything.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poor Legislation

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
* Adrian Rogers, 1931 *

Saturday, October 10, 2009

History Rewritten (humor)

For all those who remember Art Linkletter’s show, “Kids say the darndest things” will appreciate this listing. For those who do not, some of these comments are so funny I just could not stop laughing. Look for the double entendre and malaprops. The following were answers provided by 6th graders during history test. Watch the spelling! Some of the best humor is in the misspelling.

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that all the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and threw the java.

7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out, "Tee hee, Brutus."

8. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonized by Bernard Shaw.

9. Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted "hurrah."

10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.

11. Sir Francis Drake circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

12. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple. Romeo's last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

13. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained. 1

4. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backward and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

15. Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

16. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

17. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

18. The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbits. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered the radio. Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Tomato Company (humor)

This is a sad tale of technology that I hope you will enjoy?

An unemployed man is desperate to support his family of a wife and three kids. He applies for a janitor's job at a large firm and easily passes an aptitude test.

The human resources manager tells him, "You will be hired at minimum wage of $5.35 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that we can get you in the loop. Our system will automatically e-mail you all the forms and advise you when to start and where to report on your first day."

Taken aback, the man protests that he is poor and has neither a computer nor an e-mail address.

To this the manager replies, "You must understand that to a company like ours, that means that you virtually do not exist.. Without an e-mail address you can hardly expect to be employed by a high-tech firm. Good day."

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having $10 in his wallet, he walks past a farmers' market and sees a stand selling 25 lb. crates of beautiful red tomatoes. He buys a crate, carries it to a busy corner and displays the tomatoes. In less than 2 hours he sells all the tomatoes and makes 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 and arrives home that night with several bags of groceries for his family.

During the night he decides to repeat the tomato business the next day. By the end of the week he is getting up early every day and working into the night. He multiplies his profits quickly.

Early in the second week he acquires a cart to transport several boxes of tomatoes at a time, but before a month is up he sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck.

At the end of a year he owns three old trucks. His two sons have left their neighborhood gangs to help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes, and his daughter is taking night courses at the community college so she can keep books for him.

By the end of the second year he has a dozen very nice used trucks and employs fifteen previously unemployed people, all selling tomatoes. He continues to work hard..

Time passes and at the end of the fifth year he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse that his wife supervises, plus two tomato farms that the boys manage. The tomato company's payroll has put hundreds of homeless and jobless people to work. His daughter reports that the business grossed over one million dollars.

Planning for the future, he decides to buy some life insurance.

Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. Then the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.

When the man replies that he doesn't have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address, the insurance man is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? No computer? No Internet? Just think where you would be today if you'd had all of that five years ago!"

"Ha!" snorts the man. "If I'd had e-mail five years ago I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $5.35 an hour."

Which brings us to the moral of the story:

Since you got this story by e-mail, you're probably closer to being a janitor than a millionaire.

Sadly, I received it also.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pricing: Discounting v. Unbundling

With times being so tough, most companies feel that the only way to attract new customers is to lower their pricing. While doing so in some cases will generate a short burst of activity and increased revenues, as a standard, long term course of action, it is not a wise thing to do .

The first reason why it is not a good idea to lower your prices is that your associated costs have not been lowered, and in order to make the same amount of profit, you have to sell a higher percentage of product just to stay even. A case in point, if you lower your prices by 20%, you need to increase your sales volume by 25%. If you reduce your prices by 30%, then you need a correspondent increase in sales VOLUME of 42%; a 40% discount needs a 67% increase in sales. I think you see where this is going. Unless there is a huge amount of elasticity in your pricing (where volume increases appreciably more with a price reduction), that without corresponding lowering of your costs, a reduction in price is at best a stop gap measure and at worst can lead to your eventual demise.

There are also some secondary problems that arise when you just arbitrary lower prices without taking something away in the sale. While market conditions might warrant some course of drastic action, an arbitrary price reduction can accidentally convey two things to your present and future customers. The first is an ongoing expectation that you will always lower your prices when things are tough. This essentially conditions your customers to "wait it out" until you decide to lower prices. The second is an impression that you have been lying to them all along if all of a sudden you can lower you price without giving up anything in exchange. This second situation is disastrous to the long term health of your company.

So what are you to do to increase sales AND profits? If you have to lower your prices, there are some strategies you can use to add more customers, reduce your costs, stay above the fray, and in the process keep from loosing the farm.

First and foremost, you need to look at how much PROFIT you make pre product and which products produce the most profits, not necessarily the most revenues. If you can make $10 selling a $20 item, or $20 selling a $100 item, sell the hell out of the $20 item. Plus the margin on the $20 item is 50% (versus 20%), and it will be a hell of a lot easier to sell five $20 items, than one $100 item (usually). Next, look at your portfolio of products and get rid (i.e. stop selling) those products that do NOT generate significant PROFITS. That is right! You may have to shelve high volume revenue products that are NOT producing profits. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT I CAN CONVEY TO YOU, and it will be a hard pill to swallow in some case, but in the long run the you will see the benefits of actually having MORE money and will have to exert LESS effort in obtaining it by following this strategy.

OK, say all your products make about the same profits, and they are all priced comparably, what then? The next strategy is called unbundling. Say you have a product you sell for $100, and it has 3 or 4 components to it. Well, you can now remove sell each component separately for say $40 (versus $25 in a bundle), OK, say you cannot physically separate the product what then? Well you can ask the customer to give up (or pay extra for) the warranty, or customer service, or something if you are going to sell it for anything close to $25. This does two things: First is to increase your profits (or reduce your costs) and secondly instill some value for the “freebies” you used to give away while giving your customers the power to choose what “features” they want to pay (or save on) for.

A good example unbundling comes from Proctor & Gamble's attempt to sell shampoo into India. Initially, P&G wanted to sell a 12 oz container of its shampoo into the Indian market (similar to how they sell in Europe and the USA. There initial foray was disastrous for two reasons. First, this container cost the equivalent of a day's salary and secondly since Indians do not wash their hair as often as in the West, the quantity was equivalent to a year's worth of shampoo. P&G was able to penetrate this market (and still holds an 80% market share) when repacked their product for a single use size (about 20 rupees or 40 cents). This move was actually MORE profitable for P&G than selling in volume and allowed them to services a market that was previously untapped.

Too often I just see people leave money on the table when price negotiations begin and end. With these strategies and focusing on your profits (instead of just revenues), you will be in a better position to weather this economic storm of uncertainty.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Beats Looking for a Job

Having to do a job search under any circumstance is absolutely no fun. Sending out your resume again and again over the internet onto job sites populated by thousands of people just like you is draining at best and a total waste of time at worst. How many times have you rewritten your resume in the hopes of landing one or two interviews for the hundreds of job openings you find? Every day your self esteem is being destroyed by a process you have absolutely no control over. Would it not be better to try and create something of value and where you are directly benefiting from the effort, skills and talents you put into it?

Seize the Day

As a talented or skilled professional, searching for a job is actually a very shortsighted endeavor. We are all aware that gone are the days when people worked at the same company for twenty to thirty years and retired with a pension large enough to sustain a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Since the mid-1980s, most professionals have changed jobs every three to four years not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to due to layoffs, RIFs or other such downsizing nonsense.

So what is the alternative? What is a person to do? How can you become an entrepreneur and start a business if you do not know the first thing about it? It is ironic that starting a busy takes a lot of time, effort, and planning, but so does looking for a job. The difference is once you start your own business, you might end up with something worthwhile and of value, while taking another job will just leave you looking for another one in three to five years. Not a pretty prospect.

Yes, yes, yes. You are saying that due to your experience and know-how finding a job should be easy, even if I have to look for one again in a few years. Let me correct that thinking with four really good reasons you should consider the entrepreneurial route if you are presently unemployed or underemployed.

If you have reached the stage in your professional career where you were earning a comfortable living or have developed skills honed over many years in business, there are many strikes against you on the job search front. Here are four reasons why becoming an entrepreneur may better serve your long-term financial goals:

  • Experience – Yes, this is a big negative. Unfortunately, few companies hire at a senior level and most expect you to come aboard at an entry- or mid-level role.
  • Location - The job you want may not exist in the city where you live, which either forces you to relocate or else downgrade your desires.
  • Security - There are no guarantees these days that a 50-year-old company will still exist next year or be in such a good financial state as it is today. Leaderships and markets change, and big companies are quick to fire the newly hired or overpaid quickly.
  • Personality - The corporate world forces people to conform to a particular mindset. Not all of us are cut out to operate in this manner, but having a maverick-type personality is oftentimes a dead-ender when working for others.
On the surface each of these four items should be great in helping you find a job, but are actually a detriment. On the contrary, they are exactly what can help you when becoming being an entrepreneur.

Change of Focus

Ok, maybe you have the skills and temperament to be an entrepreneur and start your own business, so what should you do next? First, make an honest list of your skills and experience. Make sure to include skills that you might not have used everyday at your old job, but what you might use when you volunteer, and your children’s school, or with your church group. Start networking with other business owners and entrepreneurs and find out with it took to start a business and what skills then needed in order to be successful. These are the types of people who love to give great advice. Check out various franchising opportunities on the Web, since buying a franchise is one of the easiest ways to own a business.

Explore your local community college and sign up for a course in entrepreneurship. People just like you who took the plunge and never again looked back at the job searching process are usually the ones who teach these classes. If you are currently employed but nervous as to how long your job will be there, begin doing some freelance work or consider starting a business on the side. This will let you see if you are cut out for the entrepreneurial lifestyle, bring in some extra cash, and provide a welcome landing spot if that pink slip shows up someday on your desk.

The Choice Is Yours

Here is a closing question for you: Where would you be today, both financially and emotionally, if you had become an entrepreneur and started your own business the last time you were laid off or unemployed and slogging through a job search?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sometimes the Truth Hurts? (humor)

This video piece features the late great Bob Hope (maybe one of the best comedians ever). The delivery is spot on, and it is amazing how things that come around go around. For some, this piece of political humor is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago, and for the others, well sorry if it offends. Sometimes, the truth hurts (wink, wink). In any case, I hope to all there is a chuckle!

Warmly, The Profit Prophet.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Woman & Financial Planning (humor)

This piece maybe a little sexist so to all my powerful female friends forgive me; but for most guys out there this is unfortunately true! Some things woman are just better at than men. Enjoy and I hope it brings out a smile! I sent this out as part of my weekly email mailing, and many suggested that I add it to this blog.

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.
'I may look like just an ordinary man,' he said to her, but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit $65 million.'

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at financial planning than men.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Entrepreneurs are Like God

As I go from network meeting to network meeting during these very uncertain times, I notice two types of people. One type is hoping, praying, and desperately searching for a job. The other type is looking to start a new endeavor or more precisely create their “own” job.

As I have been fortunate to be associated with a number of successful entrepreneurs and some successful start up endeavors, one theme keeps recurring: Entrepreneurs are the closest thing to God on Earth! Why?

Well, as the story goes, God said “Let there be Light!” In small words, God had a thought, and that thought manifested itself into reality. Essentially, God created something that was not there earlier. So too, an Entrepreneur has an idea and then goes about creating a product, service, company, system or whatever. Essentially, there was nothing and then “poof” there is something!

I believe that my background as an engineer, entrepreneur and American it is my duty to create new ideas, companies, jobs, products, services, and networks! Being a part of the “creative class” is what sets the United States apart from every other country in the world, and in the long term, is our most sustainable competitive advantage. As an entrepreneur I will fight against any law, person, institution, or organization that tries to curtain the ability for individuals to “create” new companies! I guess I want us all to be God-like!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fear Is The Mind Killer

I was watching the movie "Dune", by Frank Herbert the other day and there is a very famous line known as the Litany against Fear that goes like this:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

The reason why this is so important is that most people do not make the right decisions about thier careers or companies MOSTLY out of fear. They are afraid of being wrong, of failure and rejection, or making themselves better, of growing, or of the unknown, or of having to start over, or of really getting the success they deserve.

Right now the Economy is in the grips of FEAR. Companies are afraid to hire employees, make purchases, create new products, start new ventures. Governments are afraid of doing something other than throw massive amounts of money at perceived problems. The only thing I know for sure
is that it is not going to be Big Business or Big Government or Big Banks that get us out of this mess. No, the only people who are not afraid or who can face their fear head on are entrepreneurs and small business owners. They know that in order to survive and grow is to just seize the day.

Believe it or not, now is the time to actually get out of your fear and start that new business or implement that new idea. As Kauffman president Carl Schramm replied when asked about reasons to be cheerful concerning the demise of large companies, his reply was:

"The most important message of our research is: Don't despair. Good things grow even in the darkest times. And not all recessions are the same. Some are the aftermath of euphoria-driven speculation, like the 2001 downturn. Others -- like this one -- are debt- and finance-led. Some recessions mark breaks in economic development. The early 1980s, for example, marked the decisive transition from the industrial to the knowledge economy. But most of this becomes apparent in hindsight, and no entrepreneur is going to wait for the dust to settle. The energy crunch has given the nudge to car companies like Tesla. And nascent entrepreneurs may be waiting to pick up business left behind by GM and Chrysler."

If FEAR is keeping you from growing, then you are in a cage of your own making and NOT living the life you are capable of enjoying. Yes, Fear is a Mind Killer. It is the little death! Yes, even I occasionally have been trapped in my own cage of Fear, and was afraid to go into that place of the unknown. I imaged it to be risky, evil, wicked, painful, and lonely. I did not realize that I am the captain of my destiny, and Fear was taking that power away from me. Everyone is afraid at some time in their lives, it is just that the people who find true success are able to get past that fear. Yes, FEAR is a mind killer. It freezes us in a place where at any other time we would not want to be.

Getting past this Fear is scary, it is hard, it takes work and help to get through it, but trust me it is worth it. If you want to get to future you deserve, then face and then abandon your fears of success. Yes, I said success. I know it is so much easier to stay in a bad, or unfulfilling situation, or not try to go out and be the very best you can be, but trust me, in the long run you REALLY wished you had taken that first step into a better life. Do it, and do it now! Realize that fear is holding you back. Your fear of actually being successful often is much greater than that of failure, because success is often such a LARGE unknown to most of us.

Trust that the future will be better and start working to make it so. Fear is ONLY a little death if you let it stay within you. Let it go, and go out and create the success you deserve.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Not So Sweet Center

I wrote a blog post about a year ago titled "The Moldy Middle" which went into detail about how companies that target the statistical "mean" are doomed to fail primarily because they try to be all things to all people, and end up becoming irrelevant to anybody.

Recently, Seth Godin posted a blog about this subject entitled "The paradox of the middle of the market." In this blog, Mr. Godin actually says it is OK to seek out the middle because he believes that this is where "profits meet scale." Now, Seth might be right for a short period of time, but over the long haul all the things that he lists will come to saturate a organization and eventually paralyze its ability to respond to any changes in the market.

I respect Mr. Godin immeasurably, but find it hard to believe that he still believes that there is a monolithic "mass market" of middle of the road anything. Oh how the old ways die hard even with enlightened individuals.

News flash: There is no middle of the market! It does not exist and if you want to succeed in the "new" economy, you better figure this out really soon! GM did not, Chrysler did not, and most airlines still cannot (except maybe Southwest and JetBlue). You have to live by the motto "Differentiate or Die!" if you want to ever reaching your true goals of sustainable profits. Actually, you have to focus on fringes (Differentiate or Die!) in order to get recognized. As soon as you reach your goal of being just vanilla is when the competition starts eating your lunch (i.e. Sears, K-Mart, Xerox, Mercedes, etc.). As soon are you target the middle, you become average, and NO ONE likes that!

Remember, it is NOT important to be the largest. It IS important to be the most profitable.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Some time ago I read a great book concerning leadership by John Maxwell titled, "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership." On this father's day, I thought it appropriate to list these laws and encourage anyone (moms too) who would like to develop into a fuller, richer, and more developed individual, to read this book. Leadership is not necessarily about leading as much as it is about helping others achieve their goals and future potential. Here is the list:

1. The Law of the LID
Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness
2. The Law of Influence
The True Measure of Leadership Is Influence – Nothing More, Nothing Less
3. The Law of Process
Leadership Develops Daily, Not In A Day
4. The Law of Navigation
Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But it Takes a Leader to Chart the Course
5. The Law of E. F. Hutton
When the Real Leader Speaks, People Listen
6. The Law of Solid Ground
Trust is the Foundation of Leadership
7. The Law of Respect
People Naturally Follow Leaders Stronger Than Themselves
8. The Law of Intuition
Leaders Evaluate Everything with a Leadership Bias
9. The law of Magnetism
Who You Are Is Who You Attract?
10. The Law of Connection
Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand
11. The Law of the Inner Circle
A Leader’s Potential Is Determined by Those Closest to Him or Her
12. The Law of Empowerment
Only Secure Leaders Give Power to Others
13. The Law of Reproduction
It Takes a Leader to Raise Up a Leader
14. The law of Buy-in
People Buy Into the Leader, Then the Vision
15. The Law of Victory
Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win
16. The Law of The Big MO
Momentum is a Leader’s Best Friend
17. The Law of Priorities
Leaders Understand That Activity Is Not Necessarily Accomplishment
The Law of Sacrifice
A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up
The Law of Timing
When to Lead Is As Important As What to Do and Where to Go
The Law of Explosive Growth
To Add Growth, Lead Followers – To Multiply, Lead Leaders
The Law of Legacy
A Leader’s Lasting Value Is Measured by Succession

Friday, June 5, 2009

45 Lessons Life Taught Me

Part and parcel of being an entrepreneur is the ability to extend your wisdom and experience to other people. In this vein, Regina Brett, a 53 year old writer of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland Ohio put pen to paper and wrote an article of the 45 Lessons that life taught her. It has been the most requested article she has ever wrote, and I have transcribed it below for your enjoyment. Thank you Regina!
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood (with you).
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.