Friday, July 25, 2014

Three Truths in Life (humor)

This post goes to the heart of life and business; and all things that are constant and true. Being able to live with theses is often difficult, and sometimes these truths are best told in a story, as illustrated below:

The madam opened the brothel door in Miami and saw a rather dignified, well-dressed, good-looking man in his late forties or early fifties.

'May I help you sir?' she asked. 'I want to see Valerie,' the man named Richard replied.

'Sir, Valerie is one of our most expensive ladies. Perhaps you would prefer someone else,' said the madam.

'No, I must see Valerie,' he replied.

Just then, Valerie appeared and announced to Richard she charged $5,000 a visit. Without hesitation, Richard pulled out five thousand dollars and gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs. After an hour, he calmly left.

The next night, Richard appeared again, once more demanding to see Valerie. Valerie explained that no one had ever come back two nights in a row as she was too expensive. But there were no discounts. The price was still $5,000.

Again, Richard pulled out the money, gave it to Valerie, and they went upstairs. After an hour, he left.

The following night Richard was there yet again! Everyone was astounded that Richard had come for a third consecutive night, but he paid Valerie and they went upstairs.

After their session, Valerie said to him, 'No one has ever been with me three nights in a row. Where are you from?'

The man replied, 'Delray Beach.'

'Really,’ she said. ‘I have family in Delray Beach.’

'I know.' Richard said. 'Your sister died, and I am her attorney. She asked me to give you your $15,000 inheritance.'

The moral of the story is that three things in life are certain.
1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Being screwed by a lawyer

Sunday, July 20, 2014

15 Things Confident People Don't Do

Highly confident people believe in their ability to achieve. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else put their faith in you? To walk with swagger and improve your self-confidence, watch out for these fifteen things highly confident people don’t do. 

Highly confident people take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They don’t blame the traffic for being tardy at work; they were late. They don’t excuse their short-comings with excuses like “I don’t have the time” or “I’m just not good enough;" they make the time and they keep on improving until they are good enough.
Highly confident people don’t let fear dominate their lives. They know that the things they are afraid of doing are often the very same things that they need to do in order to evolve into the person they are meant to be. They know they need to go where they don't know.

Highly confident people avoid the comfort zone, because they know this is a place where dreams die. They actively pursue a feeling of discomfort, because they know stretching themselves is mandatory for their success. They know that success is rarely found on a well trodden path.

Highly confident people know that a good plan executed today is better than a great plan executed someday. They don’t wait for the “right time” or the “right circumstances”, because they know these reactions are based on a fear of change. They take action here, now, today – because that’s where progress happens, and there is no time like the present.

Highly confident people don’t get caught up in negative feedback. While they do care about the well-being of others and aim to make a positive impact in the world, they don’t get caught up in negative opinions that they can’t do anything about. They know that their true friends will accept them as they are, and they don’t concern themselves with the rest; and to worry about things you cannot control is folly.

Highly confident people have no tolerance for unnecessary, self-inflicted drama. They don’t feel the need to insult friends behind their backs, participate in gossip about fellow co-workers or lash out at folks with different opinions. They are so comfortable in who they are that they feel no need to look down on other people unless it is to offer a hand to help them up.

Highly confident people can make use of whatever resources they have, no matter how big or small. They know that all things are possible with creativity and a refusal to quit. They don’t agonize over setbacks, but rather focus on finding a solution. They know there is always more than one way to solve any problem.
Highly confident people know that they are not competing with any other person. They don't envy other people and are not jealous of other's success. They compete with no other individual except the person they were yesterday. They know that every person is living a story so unique that drawing comparisons would be an absurd and simplistic exercise in futility.
Highly confident people have no interest in pleasing every person they meet. They are aware that not all people get along, and that’s just how life works. They focus on the quality of their relationships, instead of the quantity of them. 

Highly confident people aren’t in need of hand-holding. They know that life isn’t fair and things won’t always go their way. While they can’t control every event in their life, they focus on their power to react in a positive way that moves them forward and don't go fishing for compliments.
Highly confident people confront life’s issues at the root before the disease can spread any farther. They know that a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that problems left unaddressed have a way of multiplying as the days, weeks and months go by. They would rather have an uncomfortable conversation with their partner today than sweep an inconvenient truth under the rug, putting trust at risk.
Highly confident people get back up every time they fall down. They know that failure is an unavoidable part of the growth process, and from those failures they learn everything. They are like a detective, searching for clues that reveal why this approach didn’t work. After modifying their plan, they try again (but better this time).
Highly confident people take action without hesitation. Every day, they remind themselves, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” They always seemed prepared for any contingency and usually have a plan well in hand as well.
Highly confident people don’t limit themselves to Plan A. They make use of any and all weapons that are at their disposal, relentlessly testing the effectiveness of every approach, until they identify the strategies that offer the most results for the least cost in time and effort.
Highly confident people don’t accept articles on the Internet as truth just because some author “said so.” They look at every how-to article from the lens of their unique perspective. They maintain a healthy skepticism, making use of any material that is relevant to their lives, and forgetting about the rest. While articles that offer DIY advice are a fun and interesting thought-exercise, highly confident people know that they are the only person with the power to decide what confidence and success really mean.

Credits: A version of this article first appeared on

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to Be More Productive (Graphic)

People are always complaining that they do not have enough time anymore.  Most of the cause of this is that there are more distractions and useless activities than ever before that suck time away from your productivity.  Here is a graphic designed by infographic author Ana Vital.  Follow these easy to follow "rules" and viola, more time.

  • eMails – Limit your email replies to only 1 per minute
  • eMails – If you cannot understand what the email asks of you, do not reply
  • TV/Radio – Tune out the News. Nothing really happens most of the time
  • Phone – Do NOT answer the phone unless it is a true emergency. (Emergencies are Rare)
  • Computer – Use Computer Shortcuts and Macros
  • Define your fashion uniform. Wear it Daily
  • Wear Smart Fabrics (and natural ones if not)
  • Be Prepared: Carry an all-occasion outfit with you
  • Discard what you stop using (use a 3 year rule)
  • Visualize your end product
  • Start BEFORE you feel ready. Avoid the chicken-and-the-egg.
  • Assume you are right when in doubt. Decisiveness if productive.
  • If you have a mind block make a mind map of your thoughts
  • If you do not write it down, record it
  • When you read something useful, write the author 
  • Manage anxiety – run, swim, dance…exercise is key
  • Sleep more – you will actually get more done well rested
  • Take naps when tired – recharge you batteries 
  • Do what is easiest first (small victories)
  • Prioritize one item (to complete) per day
  • Set a daily routine (and break it every now and then)
  • No meetings unless they are decisive
  • Better done than perfect (get it done)
  • Routinize your diet
  • Eat healthy food (no junk, you are what you eat)
  • Use delivery service to save time
  • Negotiate a daily deal with your favorite local cafe
  • Notice the 80/20 Rule. What 20% gets 80% of the work done?
  • Focus on the important, suppress the urgent
  • Decide the outcome before starting
  • Start an “Idea Dump” journal for genius ideas you cannot work on now
  • Eliminate time on trivial decisions, like what to wear
  • Learn to ignore the insignificant. No need to respond to everything
  • Do a bad draft first. You cannot edit a blank page.
  • Treat time as your money (it is!!!) 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

7 Signs of Success

Of course, we all want to be successful and have dreams of ‘making it big’ one day, but how many of us actually take at least one step in the process of following through with those dreams? We make excuses for our lack of success, saying things like, “There was never the right time,” or “I did not have enough money saved,” or “I was too busy,” or “I just was too scared?”

But what about you? How can you tell if you are going to “make it” or not? Is there any talisman that can indicate your predisposition to be successful or not? Some of us are on the cusp of deciding if we should take the chance and move forward, and doubt if we got what it takes to make it big. After reading innumerable books and studying hundreds of successful people, I have distilled that there are 7 indicators that might help you decide if you have what it takes to be successful, and can give you a indication now of your chances, even before you get there..

1. You are able to go it alone (differentiation, willing to stand out)
There are two quotations that would apply here, “You never find wealth on a well trodden path,” and “Unless you can demonstrate your benefits, all you are left to compete with is price.” My own personal motto is “Differentiate or Die.”

So what does this mean exactly? Well, if you want to make it, you have to know that no matter what, that you believe in your abilities and you can go it alone, ever without the support of friends, family, and collaborators, then you have true commitment. Also, most successful people realize that they have to do something no one else has ever done. Scary? Absolutely, but a necessity.

2. You know you need others to get you there (no such thing as a self made man)
OK, this seems almost totally counter to #1 above, but in actuality, it is not. Indicator #1 has more to do with internal determination, drive and conviction, where this has to do with knowing you will need a great team to help you, and other people to help you become successful. As the saying goes, ‘There is no such thing as a self-made man,’ and realizing this now is a great indication that you are least possess enough humility to become a star. 

3. You want to change the world
What’s your vision? What do you want to accomplish? What are your hopes and dreams? Having a dream – even if it’s a little vague – is crucial for success. Before you can start your journey, you need to have a goal in mind, and in order to achieve that goal you need a plan! In the words of Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry, "A goal without a plan is just a wish."

Now, just having a goal does not necessarily mean you will become successful. You have to have a BIG goal. “Playing small doesn't serve the world in any way,” states Marianne Williamson and it does you no good either. Make your dreams large and in the words of Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it." (And before you can do it, you've got to dream it!) 

4. You have a plan, sort of..but more importantly, you are committed to action 
They say success is where preparation and opportunity meet. So, when opportunity is knocking on your door, you are going to want to have your plan already in place. Think of it as your road map to making it big!

And that plan should include what steps do you need to take to get where you want to be? Who do you need to know to make it happen? What skills do you need to have and do you have them or team with someone who does?

Oh as a reality check, you have to realize that NOTHING EVER goes exactly according to plan. You need to be able to adapt to whatever life throws at you, but not sit and fret away worrying about them. Think of those things as detours, and as Machiavelli said, "Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage."

Finally, one of the MOST important facts of any plan is committing to following though. Plans of action mean nothing if you never get off your coach. As I have been quoted as saying, “Committing to a goal does not always bring action, yet committing to an action will invariably bring you to your goal.” 

5. Your Sense of Curiosity demands you know how and why things work 
Your curiosity gives you an innate fascination with whatever it is you are working on or towards. You seem almost obsess with learning as much as you can about the industry, the people, the culture, and why and how everything works. Albert Einstein once stated that curiosity is more important than knowledge, and Clarence Birdseye (the founder of Birdseye Foods), stated “Only through curiosity can we discover opportunities, and only by gambling can we take advantage of them.”

It is this desire to understand the problems and be excited about finding solutions is what motivates you. Yes, in some sense the hunt might be more exciting than the goal. You get passionate, excited, and driven not only learning all aspects about your business, but what could effect it. You discovery is not only deep, it is also broad.

When Larry King made his debut in radio, he made a point to become consumed in all aspects of the business of radio. In addition to doing his own show, he did the weather reports, the sports updates, and the news broadcasts. He even volunteered to fill in for people who were out sick, and took on double shifts.

Why? He wanted to learn all there was to know about the not only what he was doing, but what radio was all about. He wanted to practice. He just did not want to be good at what he did, he wanted to be the VERY BEST at it. The only way to do that was to explore and go above and beyond what was asked of him. He called it "taking extra batting practice." What Mary Kay Ash called it going the extra mile and stated, “Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure." 

6. You can mix unbridled confidence with humility 
This is a tough one. How can you both be confident and humble? Well as the author of “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu stated some 2,500 years ago, “In wishing to be above men, put yourself by words below them, and, wishing to be before them, place yourself behind them.” This might be the single greatest tenet of leadership.

Of course any leader who is successful has to have confidence in themselves and in their your abilities. Without confidence, you can so easily get crushed by negativity and criticism – things you will have to deal with once you hit the spotlight. Emerson once wrote, “If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me,’ as so it is true with any successful person.

To be successful, you have to be confident. You have to trust yourself. And you have to have a deep understanding that you are going to make it. Charlie Chaplin, the founder of Hollywood, stated about confidence, "Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the streets trying to find enough to eat to keep alive, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel that exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it you go down to defeat." It was confidence in his talent that allowed him to become one of the greatest actors of all time. 

7. Failures and setbacks just make you try harder 
I have quoted this often, “Failure, loss and defeat are just mile markers on the road to success." If you ever think you are going to be a success, you have already removed the word “quit” from your vocabulary. “Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality,” as Bruce Lee stated.

In the end, you are successful because you never failed; you successful because you never gave up give up. The second you quit, you’ve lost. Take Michael Jordan for example. He said his formula for success was, "I've failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed." He persevered and did not let failures discourage him to the point of quitting.

Every successful person has failed at some time in their lives. Even George Washington only won a handful of battles, but when it counted he won the big one. I would like to close with this quotation, "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been.”

OK, what is your tally? How many of these qualities do you possess? If all 7, congratulations. I cannot wait to see your name in lights soon! If less, and you want to be successful, start developing the ones you do not have now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Trains, Watches, and Telegraphs

One thing I love is stories about how seemingly random events turn out to be huge successes. It is amazing how often these kismet moments result and macromental changes in history...and well, the following story is so evident of this randomness...but it is not randomness at all, it is the power of developing a network, even it that network is just one other person!.

If you were in the market for a watch in 1880, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station!

Sound a bit funny?

Why were the best watches found at the train station?

The railroad company wasn't selling the watches, not at all. The telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town.

It was usually the shortest distance and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.

Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad.

They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches.

As a matter of fact, they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.

This was all arranged by "Richard", who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the East.

It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.

So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches.

The manufacturer didn't want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did.

He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch.

He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.

That started it all.

He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked!

It didn't take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah.

And the rest is history as they say.

The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods.

Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago -- and it's still there.

YES, IT'S A LITTLE KNOWN FACT that for a while in the 1880's, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station.

It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck!

Bet You Didn't Know That!!!

Now that's History!!!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Banquet

Many times people mistake what a man wears for what he is, or desire possessions and status in the hopes of attaining happiness or becoming a person of character. As Henry Ward Beecher once quipped, "He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has." 

In that vein, here is a story about the wise Sufi storyteller, Nasruddin, and an invitation he receives to attend a banquet in his honor.  See if you can figure out his wisdom, and do you apply it to your everyday life, in your business, and with your customers?    

Nasruddin Stature
One day, it happened that someone said something to someone, who said something to someone else, who somehow formed the impression a certain wise Sufi, Nasruddin, was an important person. The result of this chain of folly was that he was invited to be the guest of honor at a caliph's banquet.

Although he was puzzled by the invitation,
Nasruddin was honored to be invited. At the appointed day Nasruddin presented himself at the door of the banquet hall. He had been walking all day in his usual simple garb to get to the city in which the banquet was being held in time, and it is supposed he could have used some freshening up. At any rate, the guards at the door took one look at the Sufi and barred the door.

“But I'm Nasruddin, the guest of honor!”

“Of course you are!” the guards laughed. One bent toward him and said, “And I am the Caliph himself!” At which both guards roared with laughter. Still chuckling, they said, “Go away, old man, and don't let us see you here again!”

Nasruddin obliged them with the first part of their request. The banquet hall was located on the city square, and he recognized a friend's house on the opposite side. Walking there, he knocked on the door, and his friend answered.

“Nasruddin!” his friend exclaimed and embraced him. They gave each other warm greetings and gratitude to Allah, glorious and merciful is He, for this meeting. Nasruddin came right to the point.

“Do you remember that red brocade coat you wanted to give me last year?” he asked.

“Certainly! It still hangs in my closet, waiting for you. Are you ready to receive it?”

“With gratitude,” he replied. “Do you have other plans for it?”

“What do you mean, Nasruddin?” he asked.

“I just wondered if you would like the coat back after I have borrowed it?”

“Oh, no, Nasruddin! It is yours to keep and do with what you wish!”

“Just so, my friend. Thank you,” Nasruddin replied. They visited for a brief while, then Nasruddin bathed, received the coat and put it on. He made his apologies for the intrusion and departed back across the square, adorned with a dazzling brocade coat with gold braid and colored stones lining the epaulets. The buttons were ivory, the fastenings were jet black. All in all, it was a wonderful and dazzling sight.

The guards bowed low at Nasruddin’s approach, and ushered him into the banquet hall. The table was richly laid, and all the guests were there. Someone showed him to a seat at the head of the table, and announced “The august, the wise, the true Nasruddin!” He sat, and everyone else sat at the same moment.

They all watched expectantly, waiting to see what the guest of honor would do. The first course was soup. When it was served, all eyes were on him. Nasruddin picked up his bowl of soup and stood, holding it high. He then poured the soup down the front of his coat.

The guests were astounded. A gasp arose so that the air was almost sucked from the room. Then they broke into remonstrations and shouts. “What are you doing!? What are you thinking!?”

When it was quiet enough so he could speak, the Caliph asked Nasruddin why he did what he did. Upon which Nasruddin replied, “When I came to your banquet in my simple garb, I was turned away at the door by your guards. Once I returned in this fine coat, I was let in immediately, and seated at your table as a guest of honor. So, it is clear that it my coat who is welcome here, not I!” 

To which the Caliph replied, "Again Nasruddin, I am humbled by your astute and simple wisdom. It is the man that makes the man, not his clothes."