Feb 13

Choose Your Words And Control Your Destiny

Your words are your reality. I have been reading about the power of the words people speak. These instructions they give their subconscious mind directs their activities and ultimately creates their reality. I have been paying close attention to the words I use when I am making statements. The idea boils down to expressing independence versus dependence and shapes our reality.

We all use these subconscious words daily. I was surprised how often I use words of dependence – which was not the reality I intended to be creating or the vibe I was giving off to the world. Have you ever said “I need… (fill in the blank)?” Using the word “need” expresses to everyone and anyone who will listen that you are thinking of yourself as dependent. You are a victim. Are you attempting to convey to the world that you are a victim? More importantly, are you attempting to convince yourself that you are a dependent victim?

Wishing, wanting and hoping are more of those words of dependence and will ultimately leave you unfulfilled. Remember, your words create your reality! If you catch yourself saying I “wish” I was rich, you are expressing to the universe that you are at its mercy and a dependent being. The reality that those words will create for you will is more wishing that you were rich and not the reality of being rich. If you say instead I “intend” to be rich, you will instruct your brain to begin formulating the blueprint to make it happen. Even in its subconscious state you still control what your brain thinks.

I am going to be rich.

I will go to law school.

I intend to take vacation next month.

Using statements like those above challenges your brain to solve the problem you just posed. You will develop a plan and achieve those goals. You will also not allow yourself to spend time shuffling through your “go to” excuses for not achieving your goals. Excuses are the “outs” we give ourselves when we set our list of achievements up from the beginning with those loophole words above.

Needing yields only more needing.

Wishing yields only more wishing.

Wanting yields only more wanting.

Hoping yields only more hoping.

I challenge you to pay attention and see how much you and the people around you use words of dependence. You gain knowledge of a person’s outlook on life. Do you want to surround yourself with or do business with people with a dependent victim mentality who will have a propensity for not achieving goals and making excuses? Refuse to be the victim by not speaking like one. Be empowered!


Apr 12

When and How to “Give Back”

Rhonda Byrne wrote of gratitude in her book “The Secret.” Byrne described gratitude as the fuel that propels your visualizations into your reality. The idea of gratitude is something that many people don’t think about regularly. If they did, they would feel more content with their lives and happy for what they have.

When one can empathize with others around them, he/she could begin to live graciously and look for opportunities to give back. We here the spoiled millionaire athletes speak of giving back more often than any other demographic. They know they’ve got it good. They get paid millions to play games. It’s easy for professional athletes to empathize with the struggles of others because they lived that life and one day and the next they were getting paid millions to participate on a pro team.

For regular people, the thin line between the haves and have-nots is much harder to recognize. Most of us are not rich. We can’t just buy everything we want. We would like a newer car or a bigger house. Why then, if we are still building our own lives, would we think that we are in the position to “give back” ourselves? Everyone had certain struggles in life. That’s just life. That’s also not an excuse to not give to others that are less fortunate than you.

I have gathered together a few of my favorite charities for you to review. This list can almost continue infinitely and I am not judging organizations that aren’t on the list as there are too many to list.

I am sure if you thought about it you could find things in your live to be thankful for. If you have no money to give, perhaps you are thankful for your health and should donate your time instead of your money. There are also many selfish reasons to give back. As Byrne wrote in The Secret, living graciously is the fuel the propels your visualizations. Thus, you will get everything you want out of life by living thankfully. Another selfish reason to give is that it makes you feel good. There are also financial benefits to giving. If you itemize your tax returns, you can write off all your charitable contributions provided you gave to a IRS designated 501(c)(3) organization. Its also fun to give. Decide who and how much. This might be a fun exercise to do with your kids to teach them to be thankful and help others.

The bottom line is that many organizations need your help just to make ends meet and support their good work. Take some time and learn about them to ensure that at least 70% of their funds will go to programs and not to overhead. If you don’t have money, donate your time. Teach your kids to give from an early age. The time for you to give back is now.


Nov 11

I am the 99%

Its true, I am not in the richest 1% of Americans so I am officially part of the 99%! No shit right? In fact, I highly doubt that I have ever been in the presence of a member of the illusive 1%. So theoretically the Occupy Wall Street groups are speaking for me. The are making demands on my behalf – which is nice because I need to be at work.

What are the Occupiers demanding for me anyway? Are they going to negotiate a cash payment from the 1% to the 99%? I would like some cash. Are they going to force the government to give me a full retirement at 50? I would like to retire early. Maybe they will actually manage to forgive my mortal sin of amassing school loans to pay for my education. Get in line for free stuff!

(David Shankbone, Creative Commons)

The actual list of demands is very difficult to come by and even more difficult to discern. It seems that most demands center around the usual suspects: stop foreclosures, pay off everyone’s student loans, throw bankers in jail and reform campaign contribution rules. The demands seem to vary from city to city and read more like a wish list than a well thought out strategic campaign with a specific and attainable end game.

It seems to me that these Occupiers are nothing more than pissed off citizens that are fed up with the direction the country has been moving and wishes to express their right to free speech to voice those sentiments. I am pissed off too.  I have school loans that I decided to take out and agreed to pay. I have a job, but know many friends and family members that cannot find one. We are fighting multiple wars that we cannot afford for reasons we can’t even imagine. We are an out of control bus and just want someone to stand up and take the wheel.

The hard truth is – no one is going to save us except ourselves. We have to take the wheel ourselves. We need to overcome whatever the particular hardships we are facing as individuals and elect only responsible people to represent us.  These Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are nothing more but excrcises in futility, but if these protests make these 99% feel like they are taking the wheel then good for them. I would rather work as much as possible to pay off my own school loans and move on. I may be officially in the 99% according to the definition, but please don’t speak for me Occupiers. I have my own voice.


Oct 11

Creative Problem Solving: Creative Thinking II

This posting is the second in my Creative Thinking Series and follows “Sane People with Insane Ideas: Creative Thinking I”. In the first post, I discussed having the courage to allow yourself to think creatively. Thinking creatively requires you to imagine an alternative path; a third path besides the two Frost wrote about diverging in a yellow wood. Its not about the road less traveled by, its about the road not even conceptualized yet. The road Frost didn’t even think about. Choosing either of Frost’s paths just lead to ordinary ends. To be extraordinary you must create your own path. In this post you will read about the importance of creative problem solving and its implications.

Thinking photo via Flickr by Victor Perez. Creative Commons License

Being creative takes practice. In fact you should practice creativity regularly. Pick something you like to do and do it daily. If you like writing, write daily. If you like painting, paint daily. Play a video game that allows you to create something from scratch. You use it or lose it. One of the most “interesting” blogs I read, Altucher Confidential by James Altucher as recently compiled some advice on this front.  Check out his “Nine Ways To Light Your Creativity ON FIRE.”

Its very important to have this tool ready to innovate or create when needed.  I say “needed” because life doesn’t throw you softballs for you to just stand around and blast out of the park. Life throws curve balls and damn good major-league-type curve balls at that. When you don’t get curve balls, you get 95 mph fastballs. You have to have the ability to develop creative solutions at a moments notice. Your ability to innovate will be the most important tool in your arsenal to solve your life’s problems and business problems.

Creativity is prevalent in successful businesses. Henry Ford developed the assembly line and reinvented the way automobiles were built. Mass production changed the world and is still the standard method of producing anything. Apple Computer, which I have written about the post “Steve Jobs – Evil, Genius or Evil Genius?”, is constantly creating new and exciting products that work together as a system.  More on Apple later. It is well written that most successful products solve a problem that no one else has solved yet.

Outhouse in the Woods photo via Flickr by Anthony van Dyck Creative Commons License

The first and most vital step in creative problem solving is recognizing the problem. Before the invention of the flushing toilet, people thought they had solved this smelly problem by simply moving the throne to a separate building called the outhouse. In winter new problems were encountered as people needed to suit up just to read the newspaper… or anything else they wanted to do in the outhouse. People just accepted this as normal and this uncomfortable element of life continued on. Until one day, one guy said “hey, I am sick and tired of having to go out in the cold and dirty outhouse every time nature called.” and then the most important: “there has to be a better way.” And there was a better way. Now people all over the world can read their newspapers in the warmth of their own homes and they never have to use an out building again (unless they want to, I am not judging).

Every entrepreneur is in the creative problem-solving business first and foremost. Without this tool in their toolbox they would have no product or no product people would need. As a creative problem solver, you identify problems and then they move on to the next step, identifying the need. The need is the solution to the customer’s problem as defined by the companies product or solution. Its the sell. “You need my product because it solves this problem.” A need is vital and much more important than just a solution.  There could be many solutions to a problem but unless a company can “own” the solution, literally and figuratively there is no way to monetize it. Thus, a company must own a own a particular solution before it can sell the need to its customers.

Which brings me back to Apple. In the past I have compared Apple to drug dealers and now I make a new comparison. Apple is great because they do business like the mob. These outfits run a similar operation in that not only do they sell the “need” to the customer, they also have to sell the “problem they they invent” to the customer. This method is like creativity on steroids, here’s how it works.

Two thugs bust in to a convenience store and rough up the proprietor with a few punches and take the cash. Before the cops are called a couple of mob associates show up and tell the owner how bad the neighborhood is.  They tell him that if he paid the mob a small “protection fee” they would make all his troubles go away.  Then the mob pays off the first two thugs they hired and on to the next one. The mob makes their money by selling a solution to a problem that they created! Genius!

Apple operates in the same way. No they don’t hire thugs to rough up PC users when the new MAC is coming out, but what they do is create solutions to problems that they create. For example, Apple sold Ipods as a solution to the problem of a world without the ability to carry every song they own with they at all times. Back in the 90’s everyone was perfectly happy and content with their CD Walkman and the 3 CD’s we could manage to lug around with us. I have to admit it is pretty cool carrying 2000 songs with me as I go for a run though. Sometimes I can’t make up my mind between Dave Matthews or Metallica. Thank you Apple for not making me choose!

Excercise your creative muscle daily. You will need it when you least expect it just in your regular life let alone business. As an entrepreneur you are in the creative problem solving business. Try and develop solutions to problems that no one else labels as “problem” yet. Create a need that you can sell your customers by owning the solutions to those problems through patents or other means.

Always ask yourself if there is a better way!


Jul 11

The Debt Ceiling and Gridlock in DC

The gridlock in Washington, DC right now is not just on the beltway. It seems so simple right? Just set a new debt ceiling and the country will get back to stagnating between disaster and mediocrity. The reason for the drama being played is the exact same reason why DC can’t seem to get anything done and the exact same reason that we live in the best country in the world.

Capitol Hill. Photo by Wally Gobetz via flickr.com. Creative Commons License.

The forefathers that designed our system of government created so no one group could take control and lead the country in a direction that the citizens did not approve of. These complex checks and balances are currently being exposed for what they are; a way to force critical examination and debate of important issues. The system also can slow the decision-making process to a glacial pace.

A problem arises in times like these. When time is of the essense and the entire globe waits with baited breath to see if the economic sun will rise the next day. The government, doing exactly what it was designed to do, can actually bring an ecomonic apocolypse through inaction instead of action.  A scary thought to say the least.

I often wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of their creation after 200+ years. I hope they are proud. The United States is the best country with the most just goverment in the universe. I wrote an article about how great our country is called Is America Down and Out? Their creation is little changed in its core. I wonder if they would be shocked to see how large their little Federal Government has grown almost exclusively through loop holes and add-ons to legislation which created the vast assembly of agencies and departments.

I wonder if they would be embarrassed by the amount of debt their little Federal Government has borrowed. I would assume that they could not even comprehend the complexities of our financial system. These were people that took great pride in paying off their debts. In fact, I would assume that they never owed too much to anyone. They only bought what they could afford to buy. I think the Founding Fathers would spend hours scratching their heads as they attempted to figure out what the little Federal Government need to buy. In their time, the States were the most important governments and the Federal Government was set up to unify the States, to enforce property rights and a few other very specific purposes.

As the world waits to hear its fate, there are few certainties. We are frustrated with the partisan bickering coming out of Washington. Maybe our frustration is even moving towards anger at this point. I can tell you that your anger is not being directed in the right place. Just as you cannot fault a wild animal for attacking a hiker in the forest, you cannot be angry at the current US Government for arguing and banging heads with little or nothing to show for their efforts. This is exactly what Congress was formed to do. Instead, your anger should be directed at the polititians of the past who chose to borrow and chose results NOW, to pad their pockets and their legacies. Default or no default. This should serve as a wake-up call for every American. Borrowing now and leaving the next generation to figure it out isn’t the responsible action and has to stop. We should know because we ARE the next generation.