What Do You Think?

I remember driving to work across south San Jose California listening to Earl Nightingale’s sonorous voice say, “...it’s because they never learned to think.”

He goes out to help us understand that “thinking” is not remembering or calculating. Thinking is now even more rare than when Earl recorded those words. 

So, how are you exercising your thinking skills? 

If you have never listened to Earl Nightingale, I can’t recommend him enough. His outline of the vital principles of life in his great album “The New Lead the Field” quite literally changed my life. Check him out!

Where are the Jobs?

Last week there was another jobs report. The economists wait around their computers to learn whether or not their estimates were right, and the investors and money people make decisions based on those numbers. There's a real problem with all this that appears to be invisible to virtually everyone: jobs are a myth, those that did exist are disappearing, and there is nothing anyone can do about it! A couple of weeks ago I wrote in Revelation and Transformation that I had been reading Seth Godin's books Linchpin and Poke the Box. In Linchpin, Seth makes a compelling case for the cooperation between industry and government to create a large base of reusable employees for factories by building the educational infrastructure to train people to do what they are told, fit in, follow rules, and be efficient. This was the world of our fathers and grandfathers.

The problem is that their world is no more!

Just as quickly as it arrived, it is fading.

If you're looking for a job, stop. Their time is passing quickly. Instead, find a way to add value to others.

How can you do that?

How to Succeed, Part 2

In the first installment in this series, I mentioned the first law of success in Zig Ziglar's terms: "You can get anything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want." As you dissect that concept, you will begin to see how powerful it is. The value you generate to others will determine what you receive in life. There is a value that you generate for one person which is multiplied by the number of people you find who want it. As you grow the per-person value, your reward grows. As you expand the number of people, it also grows. While outlining this law in his famous record "The Strangest Secret," Earl Nightingale articulated it in this way:

Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you render. Most people will tell you that they want to make money, without understanding this law. The only people who make money work in a mint. The rest of us must earn money. This is what causes those who keep looking for something for nothing, or a free ride, to fail in life. Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success — and success is in direct proportion to our service.

Most people have this law backwards. It's like the man who stands in front of the stove and says to it: "Give me heat and then I'll add the wood." How many men and women do you know, or do you suppose there are today, who take the same attitude toward life? There are millions.

We've got to put the fuel in before we can expect heat. Likewise, we've got to be of service first before we can expect money. Don't concern yourself with the money. Be of service ... build ... work ... dream ... create! Do this and you'll find there is no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you.

Apply this rule today and you will begin to see a change for the better.

Rule 2 will become present in your life very quickly, then. In fact, it has been often on my mind this week and has come up in multiple conversations. Here's the story of one of them:

I met with a good friend for lunch this Wednesday. He's an Elder in our church, and I have served with him on the board of directors for a local non-profit. He is a wise and successful man. We met to talk business, challenges for some of the people we know, and the influence of spiritual truths on our lives. During our conversation, we shared our thoughts on helping two of the men we know. These men have been challenged in the job market that has emerged during this time of economic uncertainty, but they have given up. Their wives are working, but they are not. The stress on their marriages have them both on the rocks. Unless something changes, it's likely that we will see both of their marriages rendered asunder, kids damaged, and souls devastated.

All because they have been broken against the rocks of the second law.

Ironically, during the conversations with my wise friend, we talked about his response to the economic conditions. His story was much like my other wise friends, and went something like this: "When the economy changed, on of my primary sources of income stopped. Suddenly. Overnight, services that had been providing 30-50% of our income dried up. I had to find ways to replace it. I went back to school. Renewed my license to broker loans, and added that to my services."

Do you see the difference?

During the second world war, Viktor Frankl was taken prisoner first to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and later to Auschwitz. During his time in the camps, he came to a profound understanding of the strength of human consciousness in the face of difficulty and suffering. It was he who said, "Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible."

And it was he who first pointed out, "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

"...our power to choose our response." This concept is pregnant with potency. So many avoid this truth and hide from their responsibility by pretending that their lives are not their own; that somehow the faceless "others" dictate the direction of their lives. They seem themselves as powerless to make their own choices. Yet these thoughts are all lies... and they lead only to pain, suffering, and failure.

It is you who chooses. They are your choices. No one controls you, although many will work to influence you using a broad range of tools from their words to their threats and from there to the exercise of authority. Ultimately, though, as Frankl so thoroughly proves in his seminal work, "Man's Search for Meaning," it is up to you what you do and no one else is responsible, accountable, or capable of living your life or making your choices.

Recently, my friend and mentor Matt Furey has expressed this truth in this way: "You are not to blame for everything in your life—but you are responsible for how you think and feel about everything in your life."

This is the second law of success.

How to Succeed, Part 1

I read it again today. While sitting in my kitchen reading my daily dose of news, I once again read about how evil the wealthy are, how they don't deserve what they have, and how they "aren't paying their fair share." All untrue.

We certainly do need leaders, but since our current crop of political parasites do not have the fortitude to lead, it will fall to us to lead ourselves.

First, it's absolutely critical to understand the truth about money and wealth. It's the starting point. Without that understanding and mindset, nothing else will matter.

To explain, let me take you back a few weeks to a hotel conference room in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It was a Sunday afternoon. We were nearing the conclusion of a solid three days of coaching and instruction when my friend Everte Farnell stepped to the front of the room. He held us spellbound with his wealth secrets from the ancient wisdom he has been studying (more on that in the future on these pages), with one package of insights so clean and important that I will share some of it with you now.

First, it's useful to know that during these sessions I had experienced some intense one-on-one coaching in front of the room. So, during his talk, Everte looked directly at me and challenged my thinking. Then, he said something very important to the entire room: "We live in a cultural lie. Our culture is egalitarian. The lie is that everyone is the same, so if someone is more successful than someone else, it must be because they have lied, cheated, and stolen. It's not true! Everyone is not the same. Some are smarter, more skilled, and more valuable as a result. Believing otherwise will keep you in bondage for the rest of your life."

Can you see how easy it is to buy into the lie that everyone is the same? Of course, we are all human beings and we have inherent value as people, but that does not mean that what we have to offer others is the same as anyone else.

For example, is Steve Jobs more valuable to Apple than Gil Amelio? Of course! Amelio nearly killed Apple, while Jobs has brought it back and into a dominant role in the marketplace. Amelio is a very talented individual, but wasn't the answer for Apple. Jobs is much more valuable in that role.

The same is true of you. You offer unique and valuable skills and abilities. What are they? How can you tell?

This is the first secret. It's difficult for some people to accept. Regardless, it's true. Here it is:

Your financial value is exactly what another is willing to pay you for what you offer times the number of people you can find to pay.

There is no other measure of financial value.

The first secret of success is this (as put by Zig Ziglar so many times): "You can get anything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want."

What can you help other people get that they want? The more valuable it is to them and the more people you find who want it, the more you will earn.

You really can get anything you want out of life if you just help enough other people get what they want.

Will you?

A Prayer for the Fourmile Fire

On Monday, the Fourmile fire raged. This photo was taken Monday afternoon near Gold Hill very close to the source of the conflagration:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the fire overshadowed much of life in and around Boulder. Thousands of people were evacuated. 166 home burned. We had friends in the path of the fire. We knew many who were evacuated and waited to hear of their homes. Our friends Bob and Betty spoke with us on Wednesday morning. They are among the resilient who take the good with the bad in living in the mountains. Betty laughed as she said, "Well, we called the house this morning. The machine picked up, so we know it's not a puddle of plastic... yet..."

For them, the fire missed their home.

As the fire started and raged, a close friend of my daughters was evacuated. Both of my daughters dance with Sarah, and she texted them on Monday of her fear as the fire was very close when they evacuated. My daughter Rachel remembered a story that she had been told by her youth group leader Jamie. In the story, a pastor's home was threatened by a raging wildfire. His church members gathered around him in prayer as the fire raged.

When they returned to pick through the remains of the pastor's home, an amazing picture met their eyes. The black desolation stretched across the land from horizon to horizon. But there, in the middle, was an island of green surrounding the pastor's home, still standing.

With that picture of faith in her mind, Rachel prayed for Sarah and her family as the fires burned completely out of control across the hills. She asked God to do it again. She held that picture in her mind and prayed for the red-roofed home of her friend.

You see that home in this near-infrared image in the middle right surrounded by burned homes? Here's a closer view of that home, with it on the right hand edge of the photo:

The fire went around their home.

Asking, "Why?" is dangerous when there is nothing to be learned from the answer. In this case, the faithful prayers of a loving friend had an impact on the unpredictable path of a violent wildfire.

More about the idea of learning from the "Why?" shortly. For now, celebrate that sometimes amazing things happen.

Burning Above Boulder... The Fourmile Fire

Monday morning during our Labor Day weekend, I was sitting in my family room working on a new series for coaching business leaders when the light changed. I knew right away. The light which had only moments before been Colorado bright and streaming through the trees had turned an eerie orange. Fire.

But where?

I stood and walked out onto the back porch. White grey smoke was covering the sky to the south and moving east. I looked towards the mountains and the thicker smoke that direction. I walked to the front of the house to get a clearer view of the source of the smoke and that's when it was clear that the mountains were ablaze. What is now officially the Fourmile fire had ignited around 10am, burst through stands of trees dried by death from the bark beetle infestation of the past few years plus the typically dry summer weather of Colorado's Front Range. First reports were of a fire that was moving fast, pushed by the mountain winds, devouring trees and brush, buildings and propane tanks.

By midafternoon, the sky was full of smoke, and a glow of fire colored the cloud. That afternoon, I went to the nearby grocery store for food and took this photo:

The fire dominated the sky, the air, and our thoughts. We have friends who live up there.

By late in the day, the fire had grown to over 3,000 acres. The smoke created an eerie view of the bright Colorado sun as we headed for nightfall:

The evacuation notices were coming quickly. Friends were texting and tweeting their whereabouts. Boulder exhausted its firefighting resources within the first few hours and state and national resources were called in. Reports of exploding propane tanks, homes destroyed, the historic town of Gold Hill threatened, and livestock needing shelter were all filling the airwaves and the Internet.

We did what we could to help, but at the time it was mostly to stay out of the way and offer assistance to those that we could.

By nightfall, the orange fire was clearly visible along the ridgelines, although this digitally-zoomed photo from my iPhone doesn't do it justice:

We wondered what Wednesday would bring.

More in the next post...

How Do You Judge Your Worth?

First, by the gift the Creator gave me in breath this morning. I am worthy of His care and His love. That is enough. But there is more...

Second, by the knowledge that I am unique in all history. There never has been nor will there ever be another just like me. As a result of the rule of rarity, that makes me priceless. Finding the path to the exercise of that value is a lifelong journey, but that does not diminish the truth that I am of exceptional worth.

Third, by those who have chosen to love me, starting with my amazing bride who has put up with my vagaries for more than 26 years. My kids, who love me even in their teen years. And the friends and mentors who have been so generous with me.

Lastly, by the value I am able to bring to others through who I am and what I know and do. Being valuable and generous in the eyes of others is a reminder of my worth. When I am not there, there are things that won't (or can't!) happen.

What about you?

The Secret to 21st Century Capitalism

Last week I sat reading an email from one of the mailing lists that I receive. Some Internet friends and I have shared our lives on this list for well over a decade. From life and death to kids with croup, we've laughed and cried together. Maybe I'll tell you more about the group one of these days, but for now, I'd like to let you in our conversation from last week: the changing face of business. My friend Cindy Collins-Smith, the editor of Customer Relationship Management magazine who has had the opportunity to edit thought leaders such as Don Peppers/Martha Rogers, Chip Bell and Pete Blackshaw, among others, put it very well and succinctly:

Loyalty, not individual sales, is what will sustain [businesses] over the long term. [The] idea of maximizing profit at every point of contact is 20th century capitalism, not 21st. Successful 21st century capitalists will be looking for ways to build relationships with customers (audiences) over time, not just looking for immediate, short term profits.

This is a fundamental paradigm shift, and many businesses are missing it. In fact, many people are doing their level best to pretend that nothing has changed; that we'll go back to the way things were. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Twenty years ago, very few people had heard of the Internet. Today, it is a staple of every day life from the streets of Manhattan to the mud walkways of Kigali, Rwanda. The world is smaller and more interconnected than ever before, and the process is accelerating. How will you respond to this brave new world? How you respond will determine the degree of your success.

Ten years ago, most businesses poo-pooed the Web. They didn't see the value or the importance. While they were busy holding on to the past, visionary entrepreneurs like my friend and coach Matt Furey were creating Internet empires that would generate millions of dollars in sustainable revenue.

Today, we find ourselves at another juncture very similar to those turning points. Business is once again driven by relationships as it was a century ago. Now, though, those relationships are with like-minded people anywhere in the world. And today, the most powerful technology drivers are the social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others.

Social media really is the wild west, though. Even those of us who have been involved in various social media for many years (for me, it started over 25 years ago!) are finding it work to stay on top of the ebbs and flows. Yet this is what you as a business leader need to do to remain competitive and to catch this wave. So get on it!

If you want some help, get it from someone who focuses on business first, not the latest gadgets and "cool sites." A number of experienced business people have done just that and so I am working with them to build social media into their overall business strategy. It's your turn.

To YOUR success, ssh, your Geek Whisperer

PS Because my work with my clients is so hands-on, I can only take 3 more clients for the Social Media QuickStart program. Jump on it now!

What Have You Done for Me... Lately?

This is a tough one... As I sat in my family room this morning, dwelling on the beauty of spring in Colorado, breathing in the delicious morning air, I couldn't escape the thought that has been pressing on me for two weeks or more: What have you done for me... lately?

Perhaps you've heard this said by a colleague bitter at the turn of event at work. They've worked hard and delivered some great value for the company in the past, but that doesn't seem to matter. Now it's all about, "What have you done for me... lately?"

Perhaps you've even felt this way. I know that I have.

Let's turn it around for a minute to see whether or not it makes sense...

Imagine that you have a problem with an appliance -- say your washing machine. A helpful repairman comes to your home and does an excellent job fixing it. You are grateful, and pay him whatever the fee was. All went well.

However, six months later, he shows up on your doorstep. "Remember when I fixed your washing machine?" he asks. "I've run into a bit of a lull and need some more to make my bills. So, would you please pay me?" Are you eager to pay him more? Do you feel like you owe him more?

Of course not! He hasn't done anything for you... lately.

It's no different when the roles are reversed.

The key is to understand your Master Equation, and to make sure that you're adding value to your side of that equation every day. As Carl Hubbell said, " A fellow doesn't last long on what he has done. He's got to keep on delivering as he goes along."

What are you delivering today that is of outstanding value?

To YOUR success, ssh

PS My coaching students get personal feedback on both creating and communicating value. I may have a couple of slots opening. If you're interested, just send me a comment.

How to Fix the Recession

Before you get the wrong impression and before I go any further, let me just say that I love London. My wife Terry and I are enjoying our time here immensely as we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary here, but, just like in the States, they just don't get it. Today, the famously blunt British press was all over the Prime Minister (PM), his cabinet, and the Members of Parliament (MPs). Seems that many of the government's so-called servants have been busy ringing up tabs at taxpayer expense, many of which the press and constituents find wrong -- especially, as the press like to point out, during a recession.

I'll talk more about that later this week, but for now I want to focus in on a statement that was repeated multiple times this morning: It seems that the opposition is convinced that PM Gordon Brown can't "fix the recession" and his few remaining supporters are convinced that he's the right man for that job.

Irrelevant and misleading commentary. It's CRAZY!

For anyone to claim that government has a way to "fix" anything is the height of both stupidity and conceit. They have no such power, and, in fact, are finding their power more reduced by the day.

The good news for you, though, is that it doesn't matter which is true. There IS a way to fix the recession.

How?

You do it.

That's right, YOU.

It's really not hard to understand. It just takes some work. Here's the secret: produce a product or service that enough other people value enough to make it profitable for you. Then, sell enough of the product or service to earn as much as you would like.

And yes, it really IS that simple. That's how it all works.

So ignore the press. In fact, kill your TV and stop your newspaper subscription. As CNN found when they interviewed me, I get my news from Twitter and Facebook! Just dump the rest of that stuff. It's a waste of your time and bombards you with so much negative energy that it takes hours to recover.

What will you produce that others will want?

To YOUR success, ssh

PS Yes, this works even if you have a job. More on that tomorrow.

Your Master Equation

It was 15 years ago that the process began for me. I was sitting in my manager's office at IBM, getting yet another positive performance appraisal. After 11 years with IBM, I had matriculated to a senior technical position, was well-respected around the world by my colleagues, and had helped create a business that would one day rescue IBM. But, my manager was talking about my value, and what she said shocked me. She said, "Steve, I don't understand why you're still here. I don't want to lose you, but I can't give you the raise you deserve. You could make two or three times what you're making here if you were out there. Why are you still here?" It was an interesting question, and one that propelled me onto a path I'm still following to this day. Before I started on that road, though, I had to figure out my master equation.

First, though, remember my post about how the economy really works? In it, I described how value is the key ingredient for determining your success in life and how other people see you. The key to really understanding your value and the amount of value you have to generate is your master equation. And after that meeting, I had to figure out mine.

Here is how I did it:

First, I determined what I wanted to earn in order to maintain our commitments and our basic wants, including all of the costs for benefits that I had taken for granted at IBM like health insurance, computers, office space, and anything else that I would require to run my business. This was a number similar to what IBM called the "burdened cost" of an employee (salary, benefits, and the facilities and equipment required). If you are an employee, it's the cost of having you as an employee to your employer.

Second, with that number, I worked the equations.

For purposes of illustration, let's say that I decided that I would need $150,000 per year to make it all work. That's the amount above the costs for any products that I would sell. That is what I would need to make a business work. The equation answers this question:

How many customers do I need at what profit per purchase to earn this amount?

Using our nice round number, I would need to sell 150,000 people my product or service at a $1 profit each.

Or, I would need to sell 75,000 people my product or service at a $2 profit.

Or, I could sell one person at a $150,000 profit.

Or anything in-between.

Those numbers give you the minimum value that you must add in order for your customers to be willing to pay your price. Your sales job gets easier if you add substantially more value. With my coaching clients, we work on finding ways to add ten time the value so that their customers see that it's obviously in their best interest to buy from them at those prices.

What about you?

Work these equations for yourself. Are you worth substantially more than your employer or customers are paying for you? The more valuable you are, the more obvious it is that it is in their best interest for your customers (or your employer) to continue working with you.

Those who are most valuable have the greatest chance for success. Every day, you can determine your value, and then you can drop back and look at a broader view to see how you are delivering value to those around you.

It gets really interesting when you realize that value isn't just about money.

Let me know the thoughts that this brings up for you. And...

Let's go! ssh

PS I did just get a new shipment of the Mastering Life book, so I can make a limited number available personally autographed. Visit my book page to check it out and order while I still have some.

The Truth About "The Economy"

Earlier this week, I sat in our kitchen surrounded by two dozen members of Terry's family. The conversation was ringing off the walls, as the family members dug into the food generously laid out by friends who supported us during this difficult time (for more on that, check this blog entry). I sat quietly for much of the time and listened to what people were saying. The topics ranged widely as you'd imagine, but work, business, and the economy figured prominently, especially since the family is spread from Colorado to Connecticut and New York City, with Peoria, IL thrown in for good measure.

As I listened, I realized that there are many people who do not understand even the simplest truths about "the economy" or "jobs" or "money" or who needs to take action to fix what's wrong. That's when I realized that funeral or no funeral, I need to sit down and write you about this to make sure that YOU know.

First, let's make sure that we're clear: YOU are selling something. Your time, your personality, your expertise is for sale, and ultimately, everyone in your life decides if you're worth whatever you cost. I know; it's a cruel truth, but it's the truth. And that truth, once truly understood, will give you all you need to be as successful in life as you want to be.

Want more? Be worth more. One of my favorite people (Zig Ziglar) says it this way: "You can have anything you want in life if you are just willing to help enough other people get what THEY want." This is the way that compensation moves from one person to another. In fact, it's the ONLY way.

To prove it, turn it around: Will you pay "too much" for something? Do you spend "too much time" with people who don't make your life better in return?

Of course not.

In that case, the only way to get others to pay you what you want, to spend time with you, or to compensate you in any other way is to deliver to them something they value MORE than what you cost them.

This is the secret truth that so many people miss. And, in fact, it is the truth that puts the lie to much of what's being said and published these days.

No one owes you anything. You don't owe anyone else anything. Each of us is free to give to others, to compensate others, or to walk away at any time. This goes for your employer, your customers, your family, and YOU.

This is the Law of Value.

It doesn't matter if you believe it or not. It won't change. But, when you dwell on it enough to "get it," it will change your life for the better. Immediately. All becomes clear.

My coaching students have seen this in their lives and businesses. They are taking it on and making a difference in the lives of their customers and their families. You can, too. Spend the time to really understand this, then make the commitment and change your life.

Let's go! ssh

PS You can have the same experience as the members of my coaching group. Apply today and I will contact you directly and work with you personally to give you the guidance and accountability you need to be successful. Go here today.

The Long Good-Bye

I was sound asleep when the phone range. I learned later that it was 2:45am. Not usually a good time for a phone call. Terry answered it, and came back to bed, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. The phone rang again at 6:05am. That second one was the call.

If you've followed along, you know that I wrote about Terry's dad recently and his battle with Alzheimer's. I always thought it was an insidious disease, but watching him battle it and seeing the impact it had on him, on Terry's mom (who had spent the past 67 years with him!), and the rest of the family, I have come to hate it. It is evil. It is a disease that eats your brain. And I will not allow it to impact you or me without a fight!

A few years ago, I met a man who has been fighting this fight longer than I have. The first time I met him, I was struck by his gentle nature and his deep intelligence. I have come to appreciate him as a friend. In the process, he has begun to teach me how to fight back against the enemies of our brains. I would like you to be able to do it, too, and now he's put a package together for laypeople to understand what we can do to fight, to stop brain cell death, and to reverse its impacts.

You really need to get this!

His new book is called “Dead Brain Cells Don’t Lie: 97 Ways To Stamp Out Memory Loss, Slow Brain Aging, and Prevent Alzheimer’s”. But it’s much more than just a book – it’s a complete memory-boosting program complete with a special DVD featuring Dr. Dharma’s Secret Sequence to Grow New Brain Cells. With this, you can improve the power of your brain fast. Plus, he’s included an amazing array of complimentary bonuses to make sure you have every tool you need to help you truly succeed at boosting your memory and warding off Alzheimer’s disease.

This system is finally available after almost a year in production. I can’t think of a more important gift to yourself or someone you love. The good news is that the process is simple and anyone can do it. For some, it may require a shift in thinking. Regardless, if I can do something now to keep from the dark tunnel of memory loss, I’m going to do it.

That call came last Friday. Terry's mom let us know that her dad had passed into eternity. His fight was over.

The good news for us is that we have the information to overcome this, thanks to Dr. Dharma's research and the work he's done to explain it to us. There is nothing about it that is hard. You can do everything he describes. You can reverse memory loss. You can reverse the effects of dead brain cells.

Go find out more and grab your copy today. I already have mine!

Let's go! ssh

P.S. Drugs can't help with this one. The good news is that you can take care of your memory without it. Go learn more now.