How to Quantify the Value of “Showing Up!”

attitude, Constitution, Personal Application, personal development, Podcast, resolutions

Society pays a price when people don’t show up.  Coaches complain when their teams don’t “show up” to play.  You and I pay a price when we halfheartedly show up and nations can rise and fall depending on who shows up.  So what does our lack luster approach to “showing up” in every sense of the word cost us?  Now that the fire works and parades of the American Independence Day celebrations have ended what will you do today to secure your own freedom?  And whether or not you “show up” has more to do with it than you may imagine.

Click here to listen to this Podcast of a dramatic true story about the power of “showing up!” 

*some of the events of Abraham Baldwin’s story was gathered from content in  Ron G. Carters book, Unlikely Heroes.

Take a Stand

attitude, character, communism, Constitution, freedom, leadership, Podcast, Success, supreme court, trust, virtue

Podcast # 19   On Taking A Stand

Learn how holding fast to your character leads to greater opportunity in this podcast!

Throughout history there are those who boldly plant themselves in the critics path to defend just principles. The strength of their character preserves freedom and justice for all.  Listen to this inspiring story of one in our modern era who did just that.  He represents the thousands of others who, in pivotal moments, put adulation, power and even popularity aside to protect the principles that set us free.   Enjoy this powerful podcast about James Donovan!

Debt: Bondage or Freedom?

debt, freedom

Debt overwhelms our society today and our attitude towards it threatens to destroy us, not the debt itself.  The Pilgrims offer a powerful illustration on this point. Many do not know the full story of the American Pilgrims who came to Plymouth in 1620.  The truth is they labored under massive amounts of debt... Click here to jump straight to the Audio or visit the podcast page by clicking here to listen to the rest of the story!

MASSIVE FAILURE and SUCCESS: The Panama Canal

Uncategorized

New Podcast # 17 Posted (click here to visit the podcast page)

Are you looking for better results from the team and projects you lead?  

Do you know why your current initiative is falling short of expectations?  

The truth is every leader must identify the currently imperceptible road blocks that are halting success before a breakthrough can occur.  Four very different leaders in the Panama Canal Project offer an excellent leadership case study in this tragic and insightful tale of an epic battle to forge a shipping lane through Central America.  Listen in and see if you don’t discover what all the “buzz” is about here and in your own leadership journey.

The Virtue of Money and the Value of Today’s Resolutions

achievement, attitude, Blog Entries, money, resolutions, Success, Uncategorized, virtue

Why do we wait for the New Year for “new resolutions,” when in reality most of those goals are just old resolutions resurrected under a different time and title?  Why don’t more of us resolve to fix our work, health and financial habits right now when we are feeling the pain?  In fact, why not resolve today to adjust just one habit that can improve your relationships or increase your sales or grow company profits?  Because just being engaged in the right activity consistently brings rewards.  Let me provide a couple of illustrations.

In a cause I have worked with for years, one of our sales reps I’ll call Bob shared with me an experience he had while cold calling on businesses for support.  During a drop in call, a customer of that business after hearing his introduction walked up to Bob and warmly said, “its good to see you out beating the streets.  I used to be a supporter of your organization before I retired and I want to support you again.”  He then pulled out his checkbook without another word and wrote him a decent sized check.  You see, he wanted to reward effort, diligence and important work.  Now, if Bob hadn’t maintained the daily habit of being out in the field he would have missed that “easy” sale.

For the next example, I turn to the author Ayn Rand.  In her controversial book Atlas Shrugged, she creates a scene which emphasizes the merit of dedicated work.  The scene is set at a party where a wealthy industrialist responds to an intellectual who proclaimed that, “money is the root of all evil:”

 

“…So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is  a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.          Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by  trade and give value for value.  … Money is made possible only by the men who produce.  Is this what you  consider evil?

“When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will  exchange it for the product of the effort of others.  It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to  money.  Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your  wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow.  [Money is],…, a token of honor—your claim upon  the energy of the men who produce.  Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world  around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money…

To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.  Money rests on the axiom that every man  is the owner of his mind and his effort.  Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except  the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return…”

 

Thomas Jefferson put it this way, “It is not to the moderation and justice of others we are to trust for fair and equal access to market our productions… but our own means of independence, and the firm will to use them.”

So what does all this have to do with resolutions? Well, I believe most resolutions stem from a desire to be happier.  One thing that keeps us from enjoying happiness is a lack of resolve to get engaged in meaningful work and worthwhile goals.  Unfortunately, society has allowed “moochers and looters,” as Ayn Rand puts it,  to manipulate the supply and flow of money to reward special interest as opposed to value added.  The more we allow this the more it affects our ability to produce fairly and enjoy wider happiness. This goes for the welfare recipient who is fully capable of working to the politician who uses his position to get something for nothing.  Happiness won’t be found that way and society certainly has no value added in both cases.  As more people buy into this “something for nothing mentality” economies slow.  Individuals then become fearful and hold on tightly to the few remaining dollars and freedom for all diminishes.

So the next time you decide to skip making your daily sales calls, or stay in bed, or avoid work or that uncomfortable conversation you must have with an associate, or skip breakfast, or burn up your savings, or stop investing, or watch TV instead of reading that book  or listen to the tabloid talk shows instead of personal development audios or stay up late playing video games instead of taking your wife on a date or whatever productive task we drop because idleness is easier, resolve to look squarely at the habits that lead to the results you know down deep that you want and ask, am “I willing to make my resolution now to produce?”  In other words, will you put forth an effort that is worthy of the honest trade of another man’s money.  Because when you do, that willing exchange will not only make you wealthy and free, but your nation as well.  And that can only happen now not on January 1st!

Follow the Money: Time to Get Financially Fit!

Podcast

Have you ever wondered why your dollar isn’t stretching like it used to?

Do you want to know how to take charge of your finances? 

With so many factors working against your financial security it pays to become educated on who/what is vying for your money and why its time to hang on to more of it.  If you are concerned about how consumerism, banking policy, government/currency manipulation and more is effecting your financial well-being, then listen to this podcast and resolve to take charge of your money now.

After listening to this podcast I invite you to check out this amazing resource I’ve been effectively using to win financially by clicking on the link below.  This program quickly helped us put more money away at a faster rate than ever before.

THE FINANCIAL FITNESS PROGRAM  

Vision, not Perfection Builds a Monument

Podcast

20140731_103233Mount Rushmore stands as a monument to great and determined men, but it wasn’t Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt or Lincoln who envisioned such a feat.  No, it was another man, unknown to most of us, who gave us something magnificent to look upon.  Listen in and discover how one very imperfect man saw this project into existence and learn how to get your big projects of the ground.

Warren Buffett:  “You Do Not Have to Cheat to Make Money”

investment, personal development, Success, Warren Buffett

At Coca Cola’s annual shareholders’ meeting last month, Warren Buffett, whose investment firm Berkshire Hathaway holds more of the companies stock than any other single holder, surprised the 700 attendees by playing his ukulele.  Coca Cola and it’s largest investor seized upon the moment by recording a little publicity piece that features Buffett playing and singing the vintage 1970s jingle about “…buying the world a coke” something Buffett admits at the end of this ditty he could do, but didn’t feel it would be prudent for the sake of his shareholders.(1)  Buffett who is irrefutably the greatest investor of the 20th century and beyond, could be criticized here for shamelessly hocking unhealthy sugar water by the ultra health conscious; he could certainly be slammed for his insatiable appetite to drive up his profit by the minimalist; and anyone from the socialist to the hard core conservative could find reason to criticize him. However, his down to earth style in this video strangely captures the essence of the man.

For the record, Buffett does enjoy picking up the ukulele and he doesn’t just hock coke for profit he actually enjoys consuming it on a daily basis. So no, he’s not the model of physical fitness nor does he care to be.  And yes, he is driven by profit, yet strangely he spends virtually none of it on himself.  Through and through he is who he appears to be.  So if greed, vanity and luxury don’t drive him, why does he relentlessly pursue wealth?  Now I am no Buffett expert, but my theory is that this unique man finds passion in the pursuit of business excellence and money or market valuation just happens to be the scoreboard.  Because Buffett has been emphatic about sticking to his core guiding principles he has developed a trusted reputation that has saved numerous companies over the years.  In 2008, just two years after signing over 37 billion to 5 different charities he was listed as the world’s wealthiest man.  Ironically, the world knows his name but he doesn’t seem to care as evidenced by the absence of his name on his recent giving and the fact that even his company, Berkshire Hathaway, lacks his name.  And though he totally recreated that company from a textile company into an extremely successful investment firm, a quick company search reveals another as its founder. It seems his passion is enough and his formula for success, though unorthodox, obviously bears fruit worthy of sampling. (2)

Robert Kiyosaki noted that wealth creation requires three things: long term vision, delayed gratification and leveraging the power of compounding.  Buffett understood this before Kiyosaki declared it and not only did he live by them, but his solid conservative mid-western upbringing taught him that hard work, frugality, honesty, determination and character must be the bedrock upon which these wealth creation principles rest.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska during the great depression, Warren learned valuable lessons on frugality when his stock broker father lost his job.  He also managed to maintain a clear vision that one day he would be wealthy.  Paper routes provided seed money and a reputation for reliability.  He soon acquired the best routes and saved his earnings.  Exercising delayed gratification he put away a staggering $ 5,000 (60 K+ in 2015 dollars after adjusting for inflation).  Upon graduation from high school Buffett was ready to start his own investment business but his father, who he greatly respected, persuaded him to go to college where he breezed through his courses.  At 19 he found himself in an interview for Harvard Business School, but Buffett laughs in retrospect at the failed interview, chalking it up to immaturity.  This “loss” however sent him to Columbia University where he met his business mentor, a professor Ben Graham, who helped inspire his philosophy on business investing.  Graham instilled in him an understanding that the market is not there to inform you but rather to serve you.  Put another way, the market is often wrong so don’t get caught in the “trends.”

Armed with ideas and an insatiable drive, Warren instantly became a maverick by turning his back on Wall Street and heading home to Omaha, Nebraska where he would start his company, raise his family and continue to live in the same house to this very day.  Though brilliant, Buffett ran into his first obstacle as a business investor: himself. Referring to this early obstacle he recollected, “My sales pitch wasn’t very effective. I was 20 years old, I looked like I was 16 and probably behaved like I was 12… I would go through all these facts and figures and then… they’d say, ‘What does your dad think?’ At that point I’d want to punch them…” Instead of bemoaning his lack of people skills, he turned to self-help books and took a course from the Dale Carnegie institute to learn public speaking and the art of communication.  Like any good student, he immediately applied what he was learning and proposed to his wife. He laughs in an interview stating, “Right there I got my money’s worth.” (2)

The rest really is history, Buffet survived through all kinds of adversity and always came through the battle whether in court, sanctions or market crisis with his character and reputation in tact.  By 30 he was a millionaire, in his 40s he was a billionaire and his company always well outperformed the market. In 1985, stock in his company was trading at $ 2,000 per share.  In 1993 the same share was worth $ 17,000 and by 2007 it hit a staggering $ 150,000 per share.  During the economic disaster of the sub-prime crash in 2008 his show of confidence in struggling financial companies saved them from ruin and though he too suffered losses in the down economy today, his shares are trading at $ 200,000 per share.

Buffett is a true rugged American Individualist; he marches to the beat of his own drum.  He’s relentless in his pursuit of a bargain.  He’s shrewd, yet honest. He’s absent minded yet laser focused. He’s driven to excellence in his areas of passion and unimpressed by any show of pomp or extravagance that doesn’t line up with his purpose. His life illustrates what can be done when one maintains a long term vision, delays gratification over and over again and allows the power of compounding to work in their behalf.  And how did he learn all this?–through self-study, mentors and the school of hard knocks.  But when those knocks came it is clear he learned, adjusted and met them head on.  Finally, the man, who though strict adherence to excellence has earned more money than just about anyone on the planet, wasn’t really that interested in spending it on himself and so he gave more money away then any other individual in the history of the world because it turns out that pursuing money wasn’t really the motive. No, it was about a passionate pursuit of being excellent at what he loved to do.

While addressing a group of college students recently, Buffet advised them that success would come if they would get out of debt, stay out of debt and then never stop investing in themselves.  Your passion to create positive change in your life or in the world may not be in business investing, but if your capital (time and money) is wasted on that which you haven’t earned, then the time required to repay the interest will hold you hostage to your creditors and your dreams and influence will escape you.  But if through some exercise of vision and delayed gratification you pursue your passion and even acquire some seed money you may just find yourself in a position to give more away than you ever thought possible, but remember your joy will be found, as they say, in the journey.  A journey defined by living free and becoming who you were meant to be.

References:

  1. http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/from-one-icon-to-another-warren-buffett-serenades-the-coca-cola-bottle
  2. Warren Buffet Biography Documentary – Produced by Luminant Media for Bloomberg TV 2012
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett accessed accessed 5/11/2015

Remember to KISS Daily!

achievement, Blog Entries, character

Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Frank Betcher declares that the # 1 reason salespeople lose business is over talking; Ron, a personal acquaintance of mine and a successful national sales trainer emphatically teaches the skill set of summarizing a prospect/client’s comments in ten words or less; and the famous Abraham Lincoln moved the world with his brief to-the-point speeches and arguments.

As a young lawyer Lincoln found himself representing the Rock Island Railroad company in a lawsuit brought by the wealthy steamboat owners who feared a proposed railway bridge across the Mississippi.  Not wanting to see their transport business diminished, they sued to protect their turf and stop the project.  The owners hired the best lawyer money could by —Mr. Judge Wead.  In his closing arguments, he captivated the crowd and the court with two hours of powerful oratory before sitting down to thunderous applause.   As the applause died down, the thin country lawyer took the floor.  The audience braced themselves for an equally long rebuttal, but instead Lincoln, simply congratulated his opponent for a fine speech, and said, “…but gentleman of the jury, Judge Wead has obscured the main issue.  After all, the demands of those who travel from east to west are no less important than those who navigate up and down the river.  The only question for you to decide is whether man has more right to travel up and down the river, than he has to cross the river.”  Following this short statement, he took his seat and the jury quickly returned a verdict in his favor.

The Bible says, “But let your communication be, yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Mathew 5:37)”  While this may have just as much to do with warning against a flattering and deceitful tongue, it also supports the idea of keeping things simple and straight forward.

Finally, take a look at the US Constitution, the first of its kind.  To this day, it remains the shortest of all written National Constitutions and yet its straightforward restrictions and protections produced the freest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known (though years of laws, case law, court interpretations and gradual power creep have changed its simplicity today).  Now imagine what brevity, simplicity and sincerity can do for your personal life, goals, businesses, communication, families and influence in community and even country.  Surely you’ve heard of the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid).  I propose instead we think of it as “Keep Inching to Success Simple.”  Or in other words your freedom and success doesn’t come because of some elaborate scheme, it comes from properly exercising your will by doing small simple daily actions.

“Simple?”

“Yes!”

“Easy?”

“No”, but the results WILL astound you.  So remember to KISS daily!

Saving a Wretch, Finding a Friend & the Will to Change the World

achievement, Blog Entries, character, freedom, virtue

John Newton, author of the profound Christian hymn Amazing Grace was indeed a “wretch” in need of saving in the year 1748, but it was physical liberation not spiritual he desired. Not yet 24 years of age, he had already experienced impressment in the navy, flogging and forced servitude after being shanghaied in Africa.  Ironically, after his physical liberation from slavery he turned back to the industry that had once shackled him and wallowed in the abhorrent slave trade eventually captaining several slave ship.  After years of participating in this inhumane business, searing pain and remorse opened John’s calloused heart.  He experienced healing through a miraculous conversion to Christianity and entered the ministry where he would have a profound influence on a young man named William Wilberforce.

Wilberforce experienced a dramatically different upbringing, enjoying the advantage of wealth, education and a charismatic, friendly personality.  In great contrast to Newton’s enslaved state in his mid-twenties, at the same age Wilberforce was enjoying the exhilaration of political success after winning his first term in British Parliament.  Wilberforce was the life of the party in social settings and was inclined towards pleasure seeking.  However, while traveling through Europe with his former schoolmaster, Isaac Milner, a shift from his hedonistic tendencies occurred.  He and Milner light heartedly discussed any topic, but when it came to religion Milner would grow serious and reverent.  William chided his friend for his sobriety, but even his whit and charm could not move him to levity on the subject.  Milner acknowledged that he could not  match his gift for debate and persuasion, but told William that when he wanted to engage in a serious discussion about the subject he would be ready.  These serious discussions came and Wilberforce quickly found himself at a spiritual crossroad.

Upon returning to London, he was perplexed by his emotions.  With out his friend Milner, who had returned to Cambridge, he was left to face them alone.  Understanding he needed a spiritual mentor his mind turned to John Newton, a clergyman he knew as a boy but hadn’t seen in some 15 years.  Newton, who had experienced radical personal change in his conversion to Christianity, stood ready to advise William not just on spiritual matters, but on the direction of his career.  He counseled him to stay in politics rather than turning to ministry so he could use his gifts, position and connections to change the world for good.  William left this meeting in peace knowing that he must discover God’s purpose for him.  As part of this process he consulted his good friend William Pitt who would soon become Prime Minister of England.  Pitt assured him either decision would not change their friendship, but he did urge him to stick with politics.  Wilberforce ultimately concluded, “My walk is a public one…my business is in the world… I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the post which providence has assigned me.”

And what was the post which providence had assigned?  In his own words he wrote, “God almighty has placed before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners (or the moral conduct of society).”  This concise and clear mission statement would drive him through the most daunting opposition for the rest of his life.  To better appreciate the magnitude of this mission, one must realize that he was taking on a centuries old lucrative British industry.  Not only did many powerful people stand to lose greatly, but numerous jobs throughout the British Empire would be lost.  Powerful lobbies therefore stood in his way questioning why Britain should just hand the slave trade over to foreign countries that would perpetuate it anyway.

A man on a mission however does not count the odds, he proceeds with faith, but even Wilberforce with his phenomenal gift for debate and his skill at coalition building could not move this established industry and year after year his bill was rejected. Finally, in 1796 his jubilance at having the votes to end the trade was crushed in the very hour of the vote when he discovered that the critical moderate swing voters he needed had been lured away from the floor by the lobbies with nothing more than free opera tickets.  It failed by just 4 votes. Simple enticements for entertainment had kept the slave trade in operation.

In spite of these set backs and other challenges ranging from severe health problems, bouts with depression and physical exhaustion, Wilberforce pressed on.  He also endured vicious personal attacks which branded him as un-patriotic during the War with Napoleon.  For decades he withstood all this and steadily moved towards his goal with character, tenacity and the support of friends like Pitt, Milner, Newton, his wife and the dedicated members of the Clapham Circle.

Finally, after persevering for 20 years, the momentous day arrived when parliament was poised to pass the bill.  The atmosphere was charged with electricity as Wilberforce stood to deliver a moving speech.  As his final words went silent, thunderous applause erupted throughout the hall.  Sensing it was at last finished he dropped in his seat and wept openly.  As the tears flowed freely the applause grew louder and gave way to an unprecedented three cheers for Wilberforce.  The final vote was 283-16, a decisive victory and an overwhelming show of support.  Wilberforce who had been vilified, ridiculed and  slandered became a national hero because of his unshakable courage, perseverance and character which in the end elevated him above it all!

Today it is nearly impossible for us to perceive the deplorable conditions that accompanied the trafficking of 11 million plus slaves out of Africa or comprehend the conditions that caused millions to perish in the process.  Thankfully we don’t deal with this moral dilemma in the same way today among the governments of the world because inspired men like Wilberforce who surrounded himself with worthy friends chose to fight injustice in his day rather then deferring it to another generation.

Bishop Desmond Tutu said of William Wilberforce, “[He] shows us that one person can make a difference.  Few of us will be in Parliament as Wilberforce was, but all of us are part of community.  Each of us can find ways to serve each other…”  Today, the political landscape appears daunting and people clamor for change but doubt that leadership exists to bring it about.  Whatever concerns the reader may feel about our current condition, remember that legislative bodies have always been slow to act and have been overly preoccupied with intrigue, favor and special interest.  But, before this thought overwhelms you, think of Wilberforce and remember that it only takes one to create positive change in the world.  Are you one who will?