Do You Want To See The Stars?

800px-Elgin_Observatory-300x225The picture to the left is the Elgin National Watch Factory Observatory, a picture from 1994.  I remember going to the observatory while my kids were still small and seeing the stars from inside the building, projected on the ceiling.  It was like being in a cloudless, lightless evening staring at the sky.  It was a cool experience I wish I could share with you, although I believe you can visit the observatory yourself today.  It is at 312 Watch Street in Elgin, Illinois.

Now if seeing the stars within the Elgin Observatory is not good enough for you, there are many places throughout the country where you can look at the stars without having city lights dim them.  Or maybe your goal is to see the stars from outer space.  That dream is possible through much training and sacrifice, but is a much bigger dream.

I say all of this because I really want you to seriously consider going for your big dream.  Especially if you are in high school and dream of a college degree.  You can accomplish this goal, and you can accomplish this at the college of your choice.  Probably the bigger question is what do you want to do with your life?  I am sure that the college education is not your ultimate goal, but a stepping stone along the way.  Would you like to be a policeman or fireman?  Would you like to be an actor or musician?  Would you like to be a talk show host, news anchor, or sports announcer?  All of these dreams are very possible, you just have to pursue excellence in your chosen profession; you have to be the best at what you do.  And you can be… if you really want your dream to become reality, you will try your best to be the best.

Parents, please support your young dreamers with their dreams of choice.  The scary thing is that they just might make it.  They just might be excellent at what they do and raise the next generation to new heights.  It is worth the risk you have to take to get them there.

My dream is not nearly as glamorous as my childrens’ dreams.  I have three children and one is an excellent salesman, one is a promising actor, and one is a promising musician.  My son Jeffery graduates from AMDA in Hollywood next month and has already been an extra for Glee and CSI.  My daughter Chelsey heads to Belmont University this fall and is hoping to be a songwriter and musician.  Big tough dreams.  But I have to tell you that falling short of a big dream is much better than falling short of a small one.  Maybe they will or maybe they will not get their ultimate dream, or maybe it will be even better than they hoped.

I have always felt that I have exceeded my expectations for myself.  But what if I had gone for a larger dream?  Where would I be today?  I am not saying that I regret the path my life has taken, I do not.  But it is always curious to think about what might have been.

Originally posted 6/23/2011 on businessfizz.com

10 Reasons I Did Not Create A Video In The Past Week

I am not sure if this is a compelling headline but here goes…  The top 10 reasons I did not create a YouTube (or any other) video this week:

#1. 350 unique visitors per day on splashplan.com

We continue to have a large number of unique visitors as well as 15 – 20 new member profiles created per day.  I am still grappling with what that means as far as security, bad data, and possible software bugs.

#2. Still working on the new blog at splashplan.net

I edited about three months worth of posts this weekend, and have many more months to go.  I am concerned about content that is not mine… although so far it has been cited correctly when I use a guest blog post.

I have a lot of garbage to delete or edit so it has proven to be productive.

#3. Fixed the member’s area downline list so it no longer breaks its frame.  It was only an issue for my id but still needed it corrected.

#4. As part of correcting the downline list page, I created approvals screens so we can review changed member profiles.

We just wanted to make sure member profiles had good links mainly.

#5. Taxes taxes taxes

It is that time of the year so I have been working on my personal taxes, the business ST-1 (sales tax), the yearly corporate report, California taxes (still owe them one year), and the corporate 1120s.  I figure if I complete one task per weekend for taxes I am doing good.

#6. 40 hours per week for a client

I am still working for a client at 40 hours per week and they need things from me… mostly technology related.  I love the client so its just about getting things done.

#7. I am still married

Paying attention to my wife is a good idea every tonow and then.

#8. I have parents

My mom is concerned because I jump on a jet weekly.  I need to let her know when I am leaving and getting there at minimum.

#9. I have great children

My children are doing great things and like to talk with me every now and then.  I’ve been subbing the wife temporarily but eventually I need to keep up with them.

#10. I have a grandchild

Owen is wrestling tomorrow so I will probably be at wrestling tomorrow.

Is no time to make a video a good enough excuse?  I seem to have time to write…

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes In Business

10899233_488467124626488_1514679904_n-300x300Mistakes can be expensive.  Mistakes can also be foolish.  Mistakes can create friction with customers, suppliers, employees, yes.  But the thing is, as perfect as you are, you will make mistakes.

If you are so petrified that you will make a mistake, you will do nothing, which is the most expensive choice of all.  A thoughtful choice made that turns out to be a mistake is better than a choice not made.

It is very important that you make ethical and legal choices, but if you make an honest mistake, you can expect to be able to work your way through any problems created.  However, if you make a bad choice knowing it is a bad choice, you can expect consequences.

The body of knowledge needed for business is so vast, not everybody can know everything.  Ultimately that is why you work with teams as your business grows so that your accountant, attorney, technical specialists, and analysts can help you with advice to avoid as many mistakes as possible.  But still, mistakes will happen.

Don’t be afraid.  Go forth and make good choices and you will be okay.

Have A Cookie

1538382_1555501981350264_1128781899_n-300x300Opportunities abound. I mean, they pass you by every day. Really. Once you tune into them, your problem will be which one to choose… and I am going to give you some help there.

To reach the most people, you need a unique solution to a problem. There are so many problems to solve too. For instance, how do I get from point A to point B at 800 miles per hour without leaving the ground? How do I get into space with much less waste? How can we use much less oil-based energy?

Problems like these are gifts. Like a cookie. If you can create a practical solution, you can become wealthy beyond belief.

Many of you have smaller dreams… like to own a service station on the interstate, or become a distributor for a product line. Regardless of what you do, you can create a unique product and a unique brand that will do better than a “me too” business. Study what’s out there… many people get it and you will see them with their unique takes on given businesses.

Have The Courage To Try The Impossible

Have you ever thought “This is too big for me, it is just impossible…”  Well it’s not.  The bigger your thinking, the greater the outcomes.  Even if you don’t achieve your goal, you will achieve greater things than you ever thought possible.

To my kids I put it like this: Make big goals so that when you fall short, you will still have achieved a lot!  The bigger the better.  Believe there is nothing you cannot do, because generally there isn’t.

Now I may have a tinge of negativity in my sayings.  Like falling short.  Here is what I will say about that… Often you set off in a direction with a destination in mind, and somewhere along the way you learn about a great destination within a day’s drive.  Your original destination may be miles and days, and you’re not quite sure if it’s even there.  But this other destination is closer, you know it’s there, and you can return to your path once you’ve visited.

Always be on the lookout for opportunities even as you pursue your goal.  You never know, you may find something even greater… but if you hadn’t started in the direction of your big goal, you would have never found this other opportunity.  So keep your eyes open!

Opportunities pass us by every day.  Most of the time we don’t recognize them, but if you tune yourself to them, you’ll see them.

Is It All About Stamina?

You are a long-distance runner. How do you win the race? Mainly by not dying before you cross the finish line. In business, you are also a long-distance runner. The difference is that you don’t know how long the race is and if there even is a finish line, but if you get there you will be one of the few to make it. Many rewarding past times are similar, such as Texas Hold-em or even the lottery. For the lottery, you just have to buy a ticket a week for 170 million weeks. That’s all. In Texas Hold-em, which is poker, you can generally play forever if you are conservative. You do have to be bold every once in a while to win a pot, and you could go out at that moment, but otherwise you just play and play. Eventually you will be at the last table. Then you might be one of five. If you can keep from passing out in your chair you might just win.

With all of this I just want you to know that if you have a good vision and plan but you give up too early, you still fail. But how long should you hang in there? Often you have to hang in until there is no hope. If you give up when you hit the first negative person, you might as well not go into business. Because people will think you are crazy, nuts, when you first start out. Get beyond this you might just get established. But every rung you climb up the ladder makes you wonder how long the ladder is. Is there an end? Will success ever come? Can I keep climbing? You will keep being tested and tested again, and when you think you can’t go on you’ll be tested some more. You have to believe in yourself and your vision, and keep moving.

I urge you to keep up the good fight as long as you can, until you believe your vision is no longer sensible. Ask yourself: Does my vision make sense? Has anything changed? If nothing has changed, what makes you think your vision doesn’t make sense? You may just need more time to make your dream a reality. You may need more money than you originally thought to get it going. Recalculate your return on investment based on your new reality. Is the return still worth it?

Please let me know how things worked out for you. Was it easy to get started? Was it hard? What made it so hard and how did you persevere?

What Are Your Barriers To Success?

I can guarantee you that having no opportunities is not your barrier to success.  Opportunities are plenty.  Often you just need to choose one and focus your energy on making that opportunity successful.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  It’s not!  It’s hard friggin work!  But being successful is possible for each and every single one of us.  Perhaps in different ways, but definitely possible.  So let’s take a look at what is holding you back.  Or in my case, what is holding me back.  I’ll take about my past and present psychological barriers and perhaps you’ll see yourself in what I’m saying.

When I was in my first business, my barriers to bigger success were as follows:

1. Fear of sticking my neck out

I was often afraid to invest more or do more for fear of losing everything.  I was afraid to quit my job until everything was secure.  I was afraid to leverage the talents of other people.

2. Not being ready for financial success

I had some personal issues with money that were amplified with more money.  Money doesn’t cure your problems, it usually makes the problems you have more pronounced.

After we closed our first business, my barriers to success were as follows:

1. Afraid of the outcome of working my guts out

We worked hard during our first business and it’s end was a sign to me that I could go through this kind of failure again.  If I invest myself totally in a business again, I might just fail again.  Although this could be true, not doing it again delayed my next success.

2. Afraid of financial failure

I was also afraid of financial failure, though I have taken steps now to prevent complete personal financial failure with my current business.  We incorporated this time and have insurances that will help.

3. Afraid of losing my life

I might be somewhat afraid of dying, but my bigger fear is missing out on life.  Now I realize that I lose more by not going for success.

My current barriers to success, and perhaps barriers all along, look something like this:

1. Fear of money

I am sometimes afraid of being wealthy and losing touch with what’s really important.  Money is a nice tool, but my family is more important.  However, being too afraid of wealth is problematic also.  It can lead to unconscious sabotage.

2. Fear of unemployment

I am a little afraid of being between consulting assignments now and sometimes wish I had a regular paycheck.  Being an employee of someone else does make it difficult to be successful, but certainly not impossible.  Still, I am better off by far being on my own and the risk of unemployment is no more than it would be as an employee.

3. Fear of making the wrong choice

Sometimes I am concerned about heading off in a direction that is not as profitable as a different direction could be.  Inaction is a far worse killer of success than the wrong choice… so I keep making decisions.  I just try to keep my decisions thoughtful.

4. Fear of indebtedness

I am definitely afraid of having too much debt.  I would like to say it’s a healthy fear, but debt can be good in some situations.  It can help you buy a house for instance.  In my opinion, debt for education is also a good debt.  In business, you can finance your business through loans or equity, and I am a little petrified by both.  Currently I am building with cash only which can be foolish.  But I am still in the learning stage of the business and don’t want to stick my neck out too far right now.

Yes I still have some fears that may be a barrier to my future success.  But I also challenge my fears at times and do things in spite of my fear.  I also do things that scare me to death that I probably shouldn’t do… sometimes I am a little impulsive… but it all seems to work out in the end.  So really there is nothing to be scared of at all.  You do something and make a mistake, it’s a learning experience.  It rarely means crashing into a brick wall at 80, it usually means some sort of setback.  So all we really have to fear is fear itself. (FDR)

It Is Darkest Just Before The Dawn

I believe the phrase is “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.  I think the person who wrote this phrase must have been in business or must have been going for some other big dream, because you can’t be successful without a trial by fire.  You must go through the bad times, the dark days, and be tested.  You have to pay your dues like everyone else.  People will be negative.  Your best customer will move away or decide to buy from someone else.  You will find out that you forgot to pay a big important bill.  All kinds of things happen.  If you are going through your dark days, find comfort in knowing that you are probably on the verge of a huge success.  You just have to keep a positive attitude and treat everyone like they are about to give you a million dollars.

In our first business, you might think that we had instant success because our activity level just shot through the roof.  The truth is that you have to spend money ahead of making money, and we spent much more than we made to support the activity level we had.  It was pretty scary.  We had faith that the sales would come around and they did, but there was the ever-present risk that it wouldn’t.

Sometimes you do get to that place in your business where you have to put it all on the line to get the next round of growth.  Bob Parsons decided to put it all on the line for GoDaddy by buying expensive advertising during the Superbowl.  DesignAShirt.com founder John Anton (I attended high school with John) got a $300,000 home equity loan to buy t-shirts for his business because he was concerned about rising cotton prices.  Several times Howard Hughes borrowed money against all of his assets to do something for his business he knew was the right thing to do.  You might imagine that each of these gentleman have balls of steel, but I am sure they were afraid out of their minds when they did these things.

When things are bad, you may need to spend a little time deciding if you need to change your approach.  If not, just keep doing what you are doing and be confident in your ability to rise above the problems.  You can do it!

Small Businesses Can Still Flourish In An Economic Downturn

The following is a guest post by Daniella Graham of Giveacar:

Starting a new business is always a risky endeavour. But starting something new in the midst of a recession, based on an idea that has never been tested with your target market, can be suicidal. However, with a clear and strong concept and lots of commitment it is possible to create a successful enterprise even during economic turmoil.

In January 2010 recent university graduate Tom Chance started social enterprise Giveacar, a service that offers to take away your unwanted scrap vehicle and donate it to charity.

Chance had got the idea for the scheme during his studies when he had started to deal in old cars. Realising that people were willing to accept the smallest sums just for their unwanted vehicles to be taken away, Chance spotted a gap in the market.

Although car donation is an idea that has been going strong in the States for a while, in Britain it was non-existent. Chance, working out of his bedroom, created some initial interest over the internet and by word of mouth.

He began by donating the all proceeds from the scrappage or auction of the donated vehicle to charity. However, realising that he needed to grow his business he started taking a small percentage of the profits from the donation. After five months he was able to move out of his bedroom and employ another member of staff.

As awareness of his company grew and interest increased from the local press, more and more donations started rolling in. Today Giveacar is still able to give 75% of each car’s value to the donor’s chosen charity, with the remaining 25% reinvested. Just a year old, the scheme has already raised more than $300,000 for a host of charities around the globe.

Giveacar proves that there is success to be had during a downturn, and that a clear idea and lots of passion can go a long way.

To find out more about the scheme, please visit the Giveacar website at http://www.giveacar.co.uk/.

Motivation Revisited

I had written an article a few weeks back about motivation, saying that skills are more important than motivation.  What I mean by that is simply that sometimes companies try to motivate their people to perform, but the motivation alone is not enough to improve productivity.  People also need to know what to do.

The same could be said of an entrepreneur.  He might listen to motivational tapes or go to seminars, but without knowing what to do, he will just be spinning his wheels.  Most people need to take a pragmatic approach to being productive: First learn what to do, then motivate yourself to do it like crazy.  You may also what to revisite the “what to do” every so often to try to improve the skills you have.

Now if you improve your skills, but you are less than motivated to put them to work, of course nothing happens.  I personally think that results are motivating, so I will work hard to get to the first success, but after that the work kind of does itself, no need to add motivation.  Maybe you feel the same way, maybe not.  But regardless, to be successful you need to do as well as learn, no getting around it.  And usually you need to do much more than you originally think you do.  While this can be disheartening, it also presents you with a challenge that you can accomplish if you put the remainder of your heart into it.  People can do much more than they think they can.

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