Archive for the ‘Down Economy’ Category

Video clip from a November speaking engagement

April 18th, 2010

Here’s a video clip from a talk I delivered November 2009 to a group of professional performers (magicians, speakers, entertainers, etc.).

Down Economy, Embracing Fear, Goal Setting, Success, Video

How NOT to Get Hired in a Recession

December 6th, 2009

Unemployment has been kept under ten percent nationwide and everyone is celebrating about that…except those in the ten percent (thanks @bradmontgomery)

But for a very long time in this country there has been a trend that has crippled and undermined the people who most need to be helped right now. For the past few decades there has been a growing quest to celebrate victimization. As each socio-ethno-political group and sub-group strives to prove that they are more put-down, held-back, shut-out and suppressed than the other socio-ethno-political sub-groups (or at least more so than the other gender in their own sub-group) people have slowly come to believe that rewards go to the most down-trodden. The sadder and more pathetic you can appear, the more likely you will be to gain favor from those in a better position.

It is as if we have lost our identity as a nation of survivors and instead adopted the idea that we are a nation of victims. Every news report tells about the victims of crime and the victims of a storm and the victims of automobile accidents, even when these people are NOT victims but SURVIVORS. The difference is much more than semantics. It is about how we internally identify ourselves. And our self-identity is a critical element in how we address problems. It affects how we relate to others and even how others relate to us.

This is point number one. If you want to get a job during a recession or to move forward in any endeavor at any time, begin thinking about yourself as a survivor and not a victim; in all situations, no matter what. And here is another, even more important insight about human behavior: People place a higher value on things that are in-demand or that are scarce enough to not be easily obtained.

Among those who are unemployed right now there is an almost uncontrollable urge to let others know how bad things are for you. I was listening to a radio segment where callers can offer their “verbal resume”. One of the questions the DJ asked each caller was “How long have you been unemployed?”, and each caller seemed to want to out-do the caller before, with greater tales of woe and hard times.

In spite of the fact that society lately has been training people to believe that the more down-trodden you are the more entitled you become, the truth about the way humans actually behave is the opposite. Human beings are attracted to those who are successful, active, engaged, in-demand, and even those perceived as “lucky”. There are countless studies that reveal our natural disposition to want whatever others want. Robert Cialdini, in his book “Influence” calls this phenomenon “Social Proof” and it is a double-edged sword. Not only do we want what others want, but we will avoid what others are avoiding.

The callers on the radio segment I listened to who were recently let go seemed like a far better catch than the ones who had been looked over and refused employment offers for eight, nine, or ten months. This seemed true not because they were more convincing or even more skilled, but because there was a natural inclination to wonder what was “wrong” with those who had been unemployed longer. Logically I KNOW there is nothing wrong. We are in the worst recession in at least 80 years and it might eventually prove even worse than the Great Depression. Very competent, qualified, dedicated people are unemployed through no fault of their own.

But even as an author and expert in human behavior I am not immune to the effects of humanity. I am as susceptible to the natural psychological triggers as all of us are. I recently brought on a very highly skilled person who had been laid off from a job that paid quite a bit more than I was willing to pay. One of the things that attracted me to having Paul on our team was the fact that even after being laid off, he was still very much in demand, in large part because he created the image of being in demand. He took on jobs that many people with his background and education would think would be “beneath” them. He even volunteered at places just to keep his schedule very full.

I don’t know if he did it consciously and strategically, or if he is just naturally driven to stay busy, but regardless I wanted him on my team. In fact, when he first approached me I wasn’t even in the market to take on a new team member and told him so. But like a survivor, he kept the conversation going and now I find myself worried that someone is going to hire him away from me.

This is not about playing “hard to get” games like a teen-ager in angst. It is not about posturing to pretend you are in demand. It is about filling your schedule with real, meaningful activities so that you ARE in demand. It is about taking charge of your situation. It is about becoming a survivor, which means you have to act like a survivor.

Down Economy, Scarcity, Social Proof, Success

Connecting in Philadelphia

November 22nd, 2009

I am pretty stingy with my endorsements. I have lots of friends who want me to sell their stuff but I politely decline unless I TRULY believe in it. This usually happens less than once or twice a year and invariably I end up catching some flak about it for some reason or another.

Faithful readers might remember LAST November when I endorsed a company called Think Right Now for the help they provided me in really cementing some important beliefs in my mind that helped me accomplish more while getting into the best shape of my life. I liked the product so much (it’s just  a simple CD) that I invested in the company and endorsed their product and when people bought it, I made an affiliate fee (the HORRORS!). This created quite a little controversy. Apparently some people think you should only make money doing things you loathe and DON’T believe in and if you DO believe in something you should to that for free. I disagree, but we are all entitled to our opinions.

Anyway, if you are a performer or speaker or aspire to be either, I HIGHLY encourage you to purchase a set of the DVDs and CDs from the recent Eric Paul Super Conference in Philadelphia. It is no exaggeration to say that this was quite probably the single most important event I’ve ever attended either as a speaker or attendee, and at this event I was both.

I spoke on growing your business in a down economy and I will admit that I got a little “passionate” in my talk. If you are easily offended don’t watch the DVD of my session as I probably crossed the line on a few occasions and definitely crossed it at least once. It caused a bit of a stir at the conference but many people came to my defense and the video is evidence that what I said was absolute truth.

Frankly, Eric Paul (the organizer of the event) is down on his health and I think it has caused him to make some decisions that he wouldn’t normally make. He’s giving 14 DVDs, 9 audio CDs and a CD-ROM for less than you would pay for ten CDs. He’s charging less than most of us paid to fly to Philly! And you get it handed to you on a silver platter to listen to and watch at your convenience.

It is a great opportunity to catch some great speakers, hear some amazing insights, and review them at your leisure and he’s giving it away WAY too cheap. I’m buying a set and I was there to see it live. Get your hands on it while you can. He’s taking it off the market at the end of November. You have until the 27th.

Here’s the link to get what you need: Eric Paul Super Conference DVDs

And if you are interested in the product that I endorsed LAST YEAR, still use, and still get great results from, feel free to visit:  Think Right Now

But FYI: I will make some spare change as an affiliate on both of these products, so if this bothers you, don’t use the links above. ;-)

Down Economy, Getting Things Done, Success

Getting What You’re Worth? Prove it!

October 19th, 2009

The other day I was listening to a guy complaining that he wasn’t getting paid everything he felt he was worth. I finally got sick of hearing him whine and so I called him out on it. It doesn’t matter what you think you are worth. The primary factor in your pay is what the person paying you thinks you are worth. If you have a boss, what are you doing to prove your worth to him or her? If you are a salesman, what are you doing to demonstrate the VALUE of what you sell? If you are a business owner, what are you doing on a consistant basis to PROVE that what you provide is worth MORE than what you are asking for it?

What have you done TODAY to prove your worth to the world? For more than seven years I’ve written a monthly column called The Business of Magic in a trade journal for magicians called The Linking Ring. That is a volunteer position that I have faithfully delivered on for almost 100 consecutive articles all for the simple opportunity to demonstrate my value as a writer, as a marketing consultant, and as someone who delivers on a promise consistantly over time. For almost that long I’ve been contributing to this blog and producing a periodic e-newsletter, again simply as a method of demonstrating my value as a professional speaker and expert on human behavior change.

When I first founded the company that is now called “Library Rat” there were times early on in the business when I would go do shows myself that I couldn’t pay anyone else in my company to do because the mileage covered would be more than we made in total fees for that one simple show. But I knew that when we got into that new marketplace and demonstrated value that we would have the toe hold we needed to grow into the most successful provider of school assembly programs in the state of Texas. Any very successful person can tell you stories about various times in their life when they had to work particularly hard for little or no compensation other than the chance to demonstrate the value of what they were working on.

We are in a sluggish economy right now. Almost everyone is feeling it at some level. Money is still there. Money is still being spent. But buyers feel a stronger need to ensure they are getting the value they are paying for. If you don’t feel that you are getting as much money as you deserve it might be because you are failing to demonstrate sufficient value. Think about ways to demonstrate and prove your value to the people paying. Think about ways to increase the value of what you do.

HINT: The things you do that you THINK create value are almost never the things that your customers and clients think are valuable. It’s the old “Features vs. Benefits” argument. Know that your customers don’t care if the table is made of 5/8″ solid mahogany planks treated with an impermiable solution of blah-blah-blah. All they care about is that the table is strong and it will clean up easily even if their kid colors on it with a green crayon. People are rarely concerned with the clever details you find so facinating unless you take the time to explain how these details actually add value for them. Buyers never care about how DIFFICULT something is for you to do, they only care about the finished solution and how quickly and effectively it solves their problems or makes their life easier.

So I’ve seen two responses to the sputtering economy. There are businesses (and employees) who have dealt with the lower sales by cutting corners, reducing quality, and delivering with an attitude of pessimism. There are also businesses and employees that have heard the wake up call and are paying even more attention to the customers they have, doing everything they can to ensure the satisfaction and happiness of the people who deliver money to them and their business. Today is filled with opportunities to begin demonstrating value. What are you going to do today?

Customer Service, Down Economy, Success

Get Uncomfortable Before It’s too late!

August 2nd, 2009

The stock market seems to be turning around, albeit very slowly. Housing prices are on the slow rise again. And while this economic glitch hasn’t left us yet, it is easy to tell that she’s already packing her bags to go.

Frankly, I’m going to be a little bit sad to see her leave.

She’s like an old, crazy aunt from out of town that drops in to visit uninvited, stays longer than she’s really welcome, and puts everyone through hell while she’s in the house. But once she’s gone everyone looks around and realizes that they are somehow better because she was there.

Comfort is the enemy of change. Anytime a person is comfortable there is no real reason to go through the effort of changing.

You’ll never lose weight until the discomfort of your weight (physical, mental, or emotional discomfort) is greater than the discomfort you will experience doing what it takes to lose the weight.

Your business will never break new ground until your current model becomes so frightening, unsustainable, or discomforting that you take the risks involved in growing into new areas.

Relationships will never mature and develop to their full potential until you step out and take the risks involved in being emotionally vulnerable. And if a relationship is doomed, it will continue to linger like a dead albatross until the pain of breaking up is dwarfed by the pain of staying in the relationship.

Pain and discomfort are the ultimate catalysts of change. All growth is the result of change at some level. We grow when we become uncomfortable with where we are. Painful recessions are a great way to make lots of people uncomfortable enough to grow.

These last two years or so have really pushed a lot of people to take risks that they wouldn’t have taken in other economic circumstances. Some of those risks paid off, others did not. But society is better because the risks were taken. And the individuals and companies taking the risks are better off for having taken them as well. Yes, even the ones who took risks that didn’t pan out as expected, because every change results in some form of growth, whether emotional, mental, physical, or financial.

Down Economy, Success

Success is Inconvenient

April 7th, 2009

Driving to the gym every morning is inconvenient. It’s a hassle to get up at 4:30 and go run in the cold. Even writing this blog entry takes up time that I could be spending watching Ellen or reading a book. I’ve got a mastermind meeting tomorrow afternoon and want to connect sometime today with my mentor (Karen McCullough, CSP – Branding, Generations in the Workforce) as well as Mike ThreeSixty Svat, THE Branding Guru in Texas. I don’t know how I’m going to manage all this as I still have a long list of things I need to do in MY office. To make matters worse, these meetings are inconvenient because I have to drive across town and often have to do so in coordination with other people’s schedules.

But I’ve found that much of success is inconvenient, and I think that’s why so few people attain all their goals.

We want success, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our television schedule or require us to get up too early in the morning, or stay up too late in the evening; as long as it doesn’t require exceptional effort or long distance phone calls. Success would be just fine, thank you very much, if you can deliver it to me next Wednesday after 2 pm, but please don’t ask me to go out and pick it up myself. I want success, but I don’t think I want it THAT much.

I think that the way the economy is right now, the ground is shaking. There are people who have skated by on half-effort while collecting full pay. Personally I’m glad the ground is shaking. I’m looking forward to the disruption, though I wish it didn’t have to be so painful. The future is bright for those who are hungry for opportunity. Right now is a great time to proactively seek out opportunity.

Just be warned that it will probably be at least a little bit inconvenient.

Down Economy, Success

How the Economy Creates Competitive Advantage

April 4th, 2009

When money gets tight people don’t just “spend less”, they become more cognizant of the value they are getting from the money they spend. In fact, as the economy worsens I find myself spending MORE money than I have in the past because I am finding lots of value as prices fall.

Interestingly, I am also finding that when money gets tight, there are a few businesses that will actually grow and profit from this turmoil. 2008 was a down year for all four of my companies, but 2009 is already setting new records of growth for us and I think a big part of it is what Seth Godin describes in his book The Dip (also available in audio format).

The premise I’m referring to is the fact that as one competitor establishes themselves in the marketplace, if they are able to establish a strong competitive advantage they create a sort of gap (what Godin refers to as “the dip”) between them and their other competitors. The wider and deeper this gap becomes the stronger the competitive advantage.

When the money gets tight people don’t stop spending, they just become better consumers. The result is that the poor providers fall to the wayside while the companies that provide superior products and offer impeccable service (like will see their business barely affected during a down economy and many companies will see their profits rise in the coming months.

Even better (for those on the right side of the dip anyway) is that as competitors crumble, even if your total revenues are down, your slice of the total pie is getting bigger and bigger. When we come out of this crises, and we will, then those who have weathered the storm will be a a near perfect position to reap huge rewards.

But, if you aren’t in the right place right now, fret not! It isn’t too late. Even though down economic trends comprise less than 20% of the time, fully 60% of the businesses that comprise the companies used to calculate the Dow Jones Industrial Average were all founded during economic down turns. Now is the time to strike out and make good decisions.

And don’t worry. This isn’t the last economic crisis we’ll face, either. There will be plenty more after this one.

Competitive Advantage, Down Economy