Pump Up Your Business!

May 4th, 2010

Okay, watch this video closely. There are some funny things to catch. The opening scenes of us working out were filmed at the END of our workout, so you get to see me struggle to lift 25 pound dumbells as my arms were totally exhausted.

You also get to see “Mr Disney” himself, Brad Ross as he totally flubs his lines. If you know “One Take Brad” you will find this as shocking as seeing me unable to lift 25 pounds.

Marketing, Success, Video

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

The Value of Deadlines

March 15th, 2010

For some reason I never seem to get my taxes done early. I get them done and I get them done on time, but I never seem to do them early.

It seems easy enough. I have it all on the computer. I just select “Tax Report” and print. Then I give it to my accountant. It’s easy. But I never do it until the deadline approaches.

Most people are this way. Deadlines prompt us to avoid postponing the things we need to get done. Life if full of actions to take, opportunities to capitalize on, and things begging for our attention. We have to prioritize and one of the ways we do that is to deal with the most urgent things first.

Deadlines and expiration dates create urgency. I’ve even imposed artificial deadlines for myself in an effort to keep myself motivated on a task, but I’ve found that legitimate deadlines are far more effective.

For example, I’m helping to coordinate an amazing event this fall where superstar speaker Garrison Wynn will be revealing how he earns seven figures every year as a professional speaker and how he has helped lots of regular men and women to do the same thing. The event is going to be lots of fun and will obviously change some lives. We’ve already sold far more seats than we expected for an even this far out but I’ve also had dozens of people call me to tell me they were coming, but they still haven’t registered.

Well, guess what? There is a deadline approaching! It was scheduled for today but I realized this is the week of spring break, so I pushed back as far as I could, but this is a legitimate deadline, not something I have control over.

You will still be able to register after this week, so don’t panic if you miss this deadline, but by registering now you can pay out over six equal monthly installments which makes it quite affordable. After this week we are less than six months from the event and so we obviously can’t offer the six month pay option, but you’ll still be able to attend until all the seats are sold.

As we get closer there will be other deadlines and when they approach I expect that it will prompt more people to take action. Some people feel like deadlines are a form of manipulation, but our purpose in life is to accomplish our goals, whatever goals you have set for yourself. If you find ways to inspire yourself or can be around others who keep you motivated to achieve more, there is nothing wrong with this.

You can use deadlines in your own business if you think about it. Coupons usually have expiation dates just to keep people from putting things off. The idea is to push yourself (or your customers) to take action.

Don’t allow yourself to put off things that you know are going to benefit you. If you are interested in learning how the speaking business works and how you can join in on making a good living doing something you love and making a real difference in the lives of your audiences, check out http://TheRealTruthAboutSpeaking.com

Next week we will be posting a list of some of the bonuses we have lined up for everyone who attends including some amazing assessment tools to help you discover the hidden talents and insights you currently posses that others are willing to pay big dollars to hear you share. And every one of you has these insights.

Visit http://TheRealTruthAboutSpeaking.com right now to learn more.

Getting Things Done, Goal Setting, Marketing, productivity

Reinvention?

March 5th, 2010

How often do you hear someone talk about “reinventing themselves”? That seems to be such a common phrase as to almost be considered cliché, but the fact is that in this fast-paced, constantly-shifting world we live in, where the internet and communications technology has sped things up to incredible levels, the need to constantly innovate and reinvent oneself has become one of the more valuable skills you can develop.

So, I thought I would share the pattern that I’ve seen among people who consistently and successfully reinvent themselves, their careers, and their companies. It seems that these shifts in direction seem to fall into one of four basic categories, which I have labeled: Complete Redesign, Lateral Reinvention, Vertical Ascension, and Experience Integration.

By understanding these patterns you should be able to better understand the process and exactly how you can use it to continually grow and improve your market position, no matter how big or small your current business model. At the end I’ll share with you how I’ve used these ideas to create http://therealtruthaboutspeaking.com and what it might mean for you if you choose to reinvent yourself as a high-paid speaker.

Complete Redesign is easily recognized in the recent college grad who is moving from student to either employee or entrepreneur. However others frequently find themselves in a position of complete redesign. The internet can quickly change entire industries. Travel agents used to exist in retail locations all over the place but their entire existence was redesigned for them when information became readily available to anyone with an internet connection.

As industries shift, as employees are laid off, as laws are enacted, many people find themselves in a position where they are forced to completely redesign who they are and what they contribute if they hope to stay competitive.

This is a tough position, but for many it can be very liberating to start with a completely blank canvas upon which to paint your vision of who you are and where you are going.

Lateral Reinvention is a more common method of reinvention that involves a shift from one aspect of what you currently do into an other, similar aspect of the same thing. When Mark Walberg went from rap singer “Marky Mark” into being a serious actor it might have seemed like a complete reinvention, but Walberg contends that entertainment is entertainment. Will Smith followed a similar path and seems to agree as do many of the stand up comedians who have successfully moved into acting.

Other examples of lateral reinvention include actors who become directors (Jodi Foster, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, etc), magicians who become high paid professional speakers (Giovanni, Shep Hyken, etc), and employees who (usually after getting laid off) become high-paid consultants to the same companies that used to employ them.

Vertical Ascension is the most difficult to recognize, but the most widely celebrated. The reason it is difficult to recognize is because it is an upward climb within the same field and so there is always the skeptic who contends it is not reinvention at all.

Madonna has done a fabulous job of staying relevant over her 30+ year career by constantly reinventing who she is and what she does, but all within the framework of being an edgy vocalist. Similarly, Steven Jobs has been able to consistently push Apple as an innovator of technology though the technology is constantly shifting and expanding.

Experience Integration is simply blending two or more previous fields of experience into a new endeavor. For years I worked as a teacher and all my life I’ve been a magician so it seems obvious (in retrospect at least) that I would be successful creating entertaining school assembly programs. In fact, the company I created in 2002 offering educational assembly programs has been my most successful endeavor to date just by strategically melding these two fields of experience.

What method are you going to use to create a leap to the next level in your personal and professional development? If you aren’t yet sure, I suggest you consider joining us this August in Houston for a life-changing event.

Garrison Wynn, one of the country’s top speakers is holding a very limited, small-group event sharing the real truth about the speaking business and what it takes to make sure you are able to earn the high fees you are worth. Whether you’ve been speaking for years or aren’t yet sure what you will be speaking on, Garrison will help you pinpoint your unique skill and experiences and then show you exactly how to exploit them for maximum pay-off.

All the details can be found at:

www.TheRealTruthAboutSpeaking.com

Uncategorized

Discipline

February 1st, 2010

I was at a party recently and bumped into Daniel Garcia, a long-time friend of mine. He was demonstrating something quite impressive to a group of fans and they asked him “How do get to be that good”. In his usual modest way he said, “You just do it. You just do it over and over”.

And it’s true. In the ten plus years that I’ve known Daniel I have never seen him without a deck of cards in his hand or in his back pocket. Daniel is amazingly disciplined in his approach to magic. Of course he loves what he does and that probably makes it easier. But I knew Daniel when his hands got burned.

If you ever get the chance to talk to Daniel, ask him about this. You can still see the scars on his hands. The scabs were so thick he couldn’t bend his fingers and when the skin finally grew back it was so tight and stretched over his fingers that his doctors told him he would not be able to manipulate cards again.

But Daniel practiced anyway. He practiced because he loves magic. But he practiced past that. He practiced when it was boring and he practiced even when it was painful. He practiced when every coin palm stretched the skin on his fingers to the point of pain. He practiced when holding a deck of cards caused him to wince. He practiced when he wanted to, and he practiced when he DIDN’T want to. He practiced with discipline.

You just do it. You just do it over and over.

I work out because I’ve discovered this is what disciplined people do. I’ve also discovered that disciplined people have other character traits that rise from their discipline. They tend to be wealthier, healthier, and have more manageable lives.

This is not just a guess on my part. Thomas Stanly (author of “The Millionaire Next Door“) found a similar correlation that he describes in another of his books, “The Millionaire Mind“. Stanley writes “The majority of millionaires exercise regularly…those with net worths of $10 million or more had the highest incidence of regular exercise.” He goes on to speculate why this might be true but admits that whatever the reason for this correlation, he had met “very few self-made millionaires who are lethargic or even noticeably overweight”.

So there is a correlation between fitness and wealth, but I don’t think that fitness causes wealth or that being wealthy makes you more likely to work out. Instead, I believe that both of these traits are the result of discipline. Disciplined people love cheesecake just as much as everyone else, but they control their behavior in the face of temptation. Disciplined people love the comfort of a warm bed just as much as everyone else, but they choose to leave the comfort and travel to the gym or the track. Disciplined people have things they want to buy and own just like everyone else, but they limit their spending to less than they earn and they invest a pre-determined amount. Disciplined people can be sidetracked and unfocused just like anyone else, but they work to stay on-task while they practice, train, study, and learn.

These disciplined actions pay dividends over the long term. They pay dividends of fitness and health. They pay dividends of financial security. They pay dividends of expertise and skill and talent.

These disciplined actions permeate other areas of a person’s life. As you become more disciplined in one area, it is much easier, and sometimes almost automatic, that you become more disciplined in other areas of your life. When Daniel Garcia and I were recently able to break away from the crowds that seem to gather and follow him, we were able to talk in private for a few minutes. We spoke about how disciplined he has to be in other areas of his life as well.

“Man, I love talking about magic. I could sit here at this party all night long talking magic with these guys. But I have a phone call with a guy in England that’s scheduled for 8:30 tomorrow morning and I have to be awake and ready to go”. And his life is filled with these scheduled calls, lectures, talks and appearances with greater and greater frequency.

He confided in me that “I seriously sometimes need to set a timer when I get on MySpace or Facebook because I just love talking to all my peeps. Those sites let me connect with a lot of people really quickly, but I can get sucked into that real fast, too.” The more disciplined you are, the more talent you develop, the more fans you generate, the more in-demand you become, and the more disciplined you need to be. Your success is only limited by your capacity to be disciplined.

The good news is that discipline is not something you are born with. By nature we all tend to seek the path of least resistance. This is normal and usually a good thing. But we are also forward-looking beings and by imagining the future we are able to shape it as we want. Discipline is simply a matter of looking forward and thinking about tomorrow and next week and next year.

When I worked as a teacher I systematically saved 20% of my income, which was very difficult to do on a teacher’s salary. Today, the money that I saved during my 8 years as a teacher is less than 10% of my net worth but the discipline that I developed in the process of saving that money is what enabled me to accumulate the other 90% of what I own. Said another way, the discipline to save and invest was far more valuable than the money earned through the saving and investing.

In fact, I’ve come to understand that the discipline just might be the most important character trait I strive to develop since it allows for all the others to shine. A loyal spouse is a disciplined person. A prolific writer is a disciplined writer. A healthy person is a disciplined eater and mover.

And a disciplined person is not one who suffers or deprives themselves. Just the opposite is true. A disciplined person knows that the path to wealth is not an overnight journey, but a long, steady progression of steps. The path to excellence is not a week of late night jam sessions, but rather a steady progression of regular practice. The path to fitness is not losing 30 pounds in two weeks, but rather a healthy, steady progression. Slow and steady is how we gain weight and it is how we lose it. Debt creeps up on us and it takes time to beat it back down. Lethargy steals a night from us as we stare at the television, but the next day we can decide to rehearse instead.

Discipline is like a muscle or a skill. It must be practiced and exercised in order for it to develop and get stronger. The more you work toward your goals, the easier they all become. Work, not just for the goal itself, not just for the immediate benefit that will come from your success, but for who you will become in the process of attaining that goal.

You will become a person of discipline and it will reflect in all areas of your life.

Getting Things Done, productivity

2010 Resolution: Fail More

December 31st, 2009

While everyone else is telling you that now is the time to get ready to succeed in the new year I’m going to offer my bit of contrarian advice:

This new year, plan on failing more.

Many years ago, when I wanted to become a writer, I signed up for a correspondence course from an ad I saw in the back of Writer’s Digest Magazine. One of the first lessons covered was getting over the fear of rejection. “For every magazine article you publish, you should expect to receive one hundred rejections.”

To some this might seem discouraging, but in fact the opposite is true. When you realize that failure is an intergral part of success then it is no longer something to be feared. I began to see rejection letters as a measure of forward progress. If I got one and quit then I would NEVER reach my goal. I needed to stumble and fail at least ninety-nine more times before I had any right to expect a byline.

And so I kept fearlessly submitting articles and proudly collecting rejection letters like feathers in my cap. Where some would see failure, I saw markers of forward progress. Fast forward twelve years and  I have 20 books and mor ethan 100 published magazine articles. I no longer collect (nor save) rejection letters, but neither do they get me the least bit dejected.

“Failures are milestones, not tombstones.”  –Julian Franklin

I have many great plans in the works right now, some of which are sure to face hurdles and set backs, some already have. I welcome these challenges as a part of the game.

I don’t know what great ambitions you have for this year, but as you set goals, mentally prepare for the fact that you might not make them all on the first try. If, by some strange fluke you do make them all easily then you didn’t set high enough goals to begin with. Push yourself this year and then forgive yourself when success is not simple and easy.

If the stock market doesn’t cooperate with your investment goals, don’t give up. Have you been getting discouraged showing your business plan to prospective downline memebers because no one seems interested? Good! That’s a sign of forward progress. It’s much better than sitting at home not showing the plan because of a fear of rejection. Been going to the gym and not seeing the results you want? Keep going! Has the economy affected your business? Are sales down? Are you feeling forced to try new things in order keep up? Fantastic!

This year, instead of paring down your resolutions to one or two really important ones, I suggest you pile your plate high with all manner of goals, dreams, resolutions and promises. Dream as big as you can, gather lots of intermediate goals and then plow into them head first. If you want to succeed more in 2010 than you did in 2009 then you are going to have to accept more failure. The only way to fail more is to try more.

Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the president of IBM from 1914 – 1956 and the man who propelled the company to the incredible success that it became and still is was quoted as saying “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”  –Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

Don’t get too comfortable with failure, but for goodness sakes don’t avoid it! The sign of a great achiever is a long list of past failures. Get out there and start failing!

Embracing Fear, Failure, Goal Setting, Success

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