Are You Ready to Get Financially Fit?
Matt does a great job here summarizing my favorite points in the book. I LOVE the After Action Review! Read on!
Originally posted on Matt Mielke:
I just finished reading a short book from the LIFE Leadership development system titled “Get Er Done – The Green Beret Guide To Productivity” by Michael Martel, a former Green Beret (as I would expect).
It is a short, easy-to-read book with a lot of good wisdom. One section in particular is titled “Who Are They To Judge.” I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was not a typical chapter on critics and how to deal with them, as I had originally assumed.
Have you ever attempted to do something and have been questioned by someone, probably negatively, why you would do that? Prior to your friend’s query, you probably spent time in thought and prayer, studied the potential reward and consequences, acquired special insight and information and, with all positive intentions, decided to move forward and then, WHAM! You get hit with seemingly unwarranted criticism, rejection and negativity.
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Forbes Magazine has been a respected source for business news for decades. As a widely respected publication, it has produced consistently excellent articles on business, investing, and leadership, and I have been a reader since my college years. However, even the best sometimes get it wrong. For instance, the 2008 article featuring Orrin Woodward and Network Marketing is an inexplicable outlier from the publication’s usual journalistic standards. There is so much wrong with the piece I almost didn’t know where to begin. If you’ve ever had the opportunity of being on the inside of a news story, and felt the befuddlement of comparing your experience to what was actually reported, you’ll know how I feel. The following is my briefest attempt to clean up the startling inconsistencies and omissions.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but as a kid growing up I was mesmerized with The Guinness Book of World Records. The whole concept of setting a “World Record” was fascinating, and so were those women with the really long nails or that guy who was eleven foot tall. I remember laughing at all the obscure records and categories, and wondered who would be crazy enough to do most of those things.
Then a friend of mine (who shall, for the time being, remain anonymous. Let’s just call him some guy (spelled Sum Gui)) suggested that for a promotional idea for the release of Orrin Woodward‘s new book, And Justice for All: The Quest for Concord, that he (Orrin, not Sum Gui) should break the record for the number of books signed in one sitting. As soon as he made the recommendation, all my childhood memories of looking through friends’ Guinness books came flooding back to me. My initial reaction was, “Is that stuff real?” But then, having lived a few years here and there, I realized that, of course, it was real, and quickly deduced that there must be a real company somewhere that kept track of these things and made sure they were “official.”
Realizing that Sum Gui had come up with a really good idea, we quickly found out that the previous record was held by a guy (different guy from Sum Gui) named Sammy Lee from China, who signed 4,649 books in January of 2013. We also learned that, yes, in fact, Guinness had a process for all this, and you could get the services of their “adjudicator” to bless the proceedings and declare them official (assuming that you did, in fact, set a new record).
All it would take was thousands of people, a book to sign, and a signer willing to subject himself to the grueling marathon of signing book after book for hours on end.
Orrin Woodward would be perfect!
All we’d have to do is make sure he felt sufficiently challenged, and then, as everyone who knows him knows, there would be no way he would quit until victorious. So we promptly told him about our idea, that it would be a fun way to launch his new book, and that we were quite sure he could never do it (this works in basketball, too, if you ever happen to play against him. Just trash talk him a bit and you’re toast). So voila! We had ourselves an “Official Guinness Record Attempt!”
And would you believe it? Orrin broke the record without taking even one of his allotted five minute breaks, and he did it in less than half the time of the previous record holder! But that wasn’t the end. Orrin continued on until he had not only broken the record, but shattered it! The final official count was 6,786 books!
Now, if I could only think of some kind of record to break . . . maybe I’ll start growing my nails . . . .
John Wooden, record-setting coach of the UCLA basketball team and one of the most successful coaches in any sport, wrote, “Activity – to produce real results – must be organized and executed meticulously. Otherwise, it’s no different from children running around the playground at recess. Time, used correctly, is among your most potent assets. For many leaders, however, it seems otherwise. The months, weeks, and minutes are ill defined and almost intangible in their minds, evaporating without leaving a trace of achievement behind. In the mind of those leaders whose organizations get things done, time is tangible, a commodity as touchable as gold. The success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely. Respect time, and it will respect you.”
This is personal management of the highest magnitude. Note that any consideration of personal management necessarily involves a focus on what you are doing with your time. But it also involves other aspects, such as how you think, the management of your attitude, and your overall hunger to accomplish your purpose.
There are a few practical things to seek out in order to maintain the highest level of personal management, and thereby keep yourself fully locked into productive life habits:
In 1923 a member of the board of directors for Lloyd’s Bank in London asked a literary expert at a party: “You may know of one of our employees who is, I understand, a poet. Mr. Eliot.”
To which the reply was given: “Indeed I do. He is a very remarkable poet.”
“I am glad to hear it. He is also most proficient in banking. Indeed, I don’t mind telling you that, if he goes on in his present way, he will one day be a senior bank manager!”
Thankfully for fans of literature the world over, T.S. Eliot didn’t settle merely for what he could become, but instead pressed forward to what he should become.
We have discussed the elements of meaning and scandal as they relate to leaving a legacy. These two opposite poles should be ever present in our minds as we live out our lives. We should strive to matter as much as we possibly can, and guard ourselves against the inevitable temptations that would come along and cheapen our accomplishments. But leaving a legacy is much more complex and multi-faceted than all of that. There are other elements that must be part of the mix. Primary among these is originality. There are many things we can do, but probably only one that we were born to do.
Your Personal Brand
It happened to you and it’s uniquely yours. No one else has your story. No one else has your particular mixture of experience and ability. Not only did God make you unique in all your parts, but also the life he lets you live is just as uniquely yours. Nobody else experiences the world in exactly the same way as you. These concepts are important to understand, because they form the basis of your personal brand.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is whatever you do or bring to the world that is entirely and uniquely yours. Perhaps surprisingly, the more you stick to what is uniquely yours and the more authentic you are in what you do, the more interesting it is to others and the more marketable it is.
Allow me to give an example.
My wife Terri Brady is a very interesting person with a compelling personal brand. Beyond all the foundational things that attracted me to her back in our college days (her love of the Lord, her values and her upbringing, her beauty, her courage, her playfulness, her native intelligence, her musical gifts, and above all, her undeniable wisdom in choosing me!), she has lived an incredibly interesting and inspiring life. Her list of brand experiences include prolonged infertility, surviving a life threatening brain tumor, engineering degree and work experience, home schooling four children, a consistent record of physical fitness, mastery of multiple musical instruments, dedication to serving in the name of Christ, leading and mentoring many other women, high level entrepreneurship and business ownership, fabulous public speaking to audiences around the world, a very popular blog, not to mention being married to a rascal like me!
In addition to these unique experiences, many of which were beyond her control, the way in which she carried herself through them is even more impressive. The trials came without complaint, and the victories came without conceit. If you wrap all these things together you’ve got one incredible woman with a lot to share. All of these pieces together comprise Terri’s personal brand. They make her interesting. They give weight to what she teaches. They give power to what she says.
Now, what would happen if Terri tried to teach people about scuba diving? Or produce a product focused on fashion? It wouldn’t work. It’s simply not her. It doesn’t fit her brand, and people would sense it subconsciously, rejecting it as false or insincere.
The purpose of this example (beyond a shameless ploy to get points with my wife) is to demonstrate that who we are at the core, in the most authentic version of ourselves, is what we should focus on bringing to the world. When you do precisely that, you will be the most fulfilled. It’s when you are doing exactly what you were built to do with the specific gifts God gave you that you feel the most alive. Any time you stray away from this reality you feel less yourself, less alive, less real. Further, though, it is when you strike this authentic chord that the world takes notice. People only want the best you have to offer, nothing less.
The Margaritaville Concept
Jimmy Buffett is an overwhelmingly successful musician and entertainer. He has attracted a following of fanatical fans who dress up in crazy costumes and follow him around on concert tours. He has sold millions and millions of dollars worth of music and books. He has a string of successful restaurants and a clothing line. He even has a channel on satellite radio! Over the course of more than four decades,
Jimmy Buffett has assembled a massive entertainment empire. And really, when it gets right down to it, he did it all with just one song.
If you listen to Buffett’s early music, you will notice that it doesn’t really match his brand. Most of the songs are serious, the topics are ordinary, and it’s obvious that in those early days he hadn’t really struck the chord of his true authentic gift, of his personal brand that would someday delight millions. Brent Webster, a musician friend from Buffett’s very early days, said about how badly Buffett wanted to break into the music scene: “The impression was, he was trying too hard. His exuberance preceded him.”
Twenty-six record companies rejected Buffett. Capitol Records executive Joe Allison said of Buffett in those days, “He pitched some stuff to me, but it wasn’t anything I could ever use. His stuff is so off the wall it’s hard to think of somebody else doing it. He didn’t write like everybody else, he was really different.”
As soon as Buffett released the song Margaritaville (originally to be titled Wastin’ Away Again in Margaritaville, but changed by Buffett at the last minute), he had found his authentic swing – an escapism genre that whisked people away from their cold, boring lives and put them in the warm tropical sun. According to Steve Eng, “Jimmy’s deepening commitment to Caribbean imagery was at once separating him from mere country-rock and from new-hippie folkpop. By the mid-Seventies, Jimmy was setting, not following, a musical trend.” The song Margaritaville would win the 1977 BMI pop award, the 1978 country award, and the “Three Million Air Award” for that number of radio plays that year. All of this was pretty impressive, but it was only the beginning. The most important part was that Buffett had not only struck upon his true, original gift, but he quickly recognized it. Ever since, with each and every album, song, book, restaurant, and clothing line, Buffett has exploited this very original personal brand.
The image we get here is of an ambitious young musician working hard to make it, searching for his particular and unique personal brand, and then gradually combining all the elements of his life interests into his music. Eng wrote, “Jimmy claims that the Florida Keys theme of his albums wasn’t planned, it just evolved naturally.” It may have evolved, but once it did, and he discovered this original niche, he built upon it relentlessly.
Imagine going to a Jimmy Buffett concert. You take in the enthusiastic crowd; you sing along with some of the songs, you feel relaxed and happy as you too escape to the islands for a few fun figurative moments. But what would happen if Buffett finished up his concert and failed to play the song Margaritaville? You would not only feel disappointed, you’d feel cheated. Buffett has to perform that song at every concert because it is the classic embodiment of his personal brand, and Buffett, being the consummate entertainer and crowd pleaser, knows this better than anyone.
This principle applies everywhere. How disappointed would people be if Stephen King came out with a marriage book? Or if Dave Barry released a serious novel? Or if Michael Jordan left basketball to play, I don’t know, let’s say baseball? These people, and every successful person in every walk of life, have succeeded by finding their true authentic gift and then giving it over and over again with gusto.
Which brings us back to you.
What is (or could be) your unique brand?
What are your particular foundational gifts?
What are your unique experiences?
How have you grown as a result, and what can you give out of it?
What innate talents has God given you that are yours?
What makes you feel the most alive?
What makes you feel the most fulfilled?
What things do you do that seem to bring the most accolades from people?
What could be your Margaritaville?
The key is to know yourself, to know what you have. You may not be able to answer these questions just yet, and as was true for the entertainers we have considered in this chapter, it might take years for you to discover. But I guarantee that if you answer these questions and package all of this together, you will be at least heading in the right direction. Knowing that you should be looking to discover this idea about yourself is a great starting point.
Whether this means you will write books, blog, create music, speak on stages, preach, start a company, paint, organize something, play sports, become a surgeon, lead a charity, invent a new technology, or whatever, if you line things up to be a product of who you are and what you uniquely can contribute, you will succeed. You may not be a musician, but you’ve got your own, original figurative song to sing. You may not do what you do in the public eye, but you still have a personal brand to be discovered and built upon. I truly believe that everyone has his own Margaritaville waiting to be discovered. By this, I mean that you will find meaning and fulfillment in contributing something that only you can contribute.
Don’t live anyone else’s life for even a minute. Live yours. It’s unique. Find your Margaritaville and then sing it with all you’ve got until you can’t sing anymore. Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, said, “. . . what this spun-out, overhyped world is absolutely famished for is a little genuine personality.”
I promise, there will be fans cheering for your authentic output. There will always be a market for your original best.
I posted the following article on our Life Leadership Forums page, and it received so much traffic I thought it appropriate to also post it here as well. The purpose is to help people understand the difference between knee-jerk reaction to information that is not credible, and what is actually available as a viable business.
I remember when I was first exposed to this profession, I was quite certain that it was, in fact, a scam. Or, at the very least, that it was a haven for the misinformed, mindless lemmings to pacify themselves that they were going to be rich someday, when in actuality they would never accomplish anything. I was quite certain of my opinions, too. Confident in my ignorance, was I.
However, there was also a time in my life when I was quite certain that girls had “Cooties,” a belief that was happily dispelled for me when I met a certain girl named Kendall in 7th grade. The point is that there is no crime in having incorrect beliefs and conclusions about things, but it is not okay, and heck, may even look a little silly, if we never gain new information and move beyond those false conclusions.
All meaningful companies have a history born of an attempt to right a wrong, serve some great purpose, and hopefully help its stakeholders (shareholders, employees, and customers) prosper. This usually arises out of a situation in which those who launch the company fight for something they believe in (such as Sam Walton trying to help poorer Americans with his “Low Prices Every Day,” Twitter being a way people could communicate what they were doing and thereby feel a little “less lonely,” and Steve Jobs making technology usable and cool, to name a few examples).
In the case of the LIFE business, we felt that a significant opportunity existed in the space between four major trends (a. Home-based businesses, b. Community building, c. Life coaching, and d. Personal development), out of which participants could not only offer an extremely important service to customers (personal growth, self betterment, and living the life they’d always wanted) but could also operate a profitable, personally owned business while doing so.
Opportunity Between Trends
In our opinion, there were things about each of these industries that needed improving, and therein lay our opportunity. Our goal was to establish a business in the space between these four trends, making a new combination that took the best of each trend while casting away the not-so-good portions. Here is what we thought we could improve:
1. Home-based businesses: the dominant force for this over the years had been “networking” or multi-level-marketing (MLM). But the pay plans had not usually been lucrative enough to make participants in the field much money, and the cost of operation could creep to high levels by overpriced training systems, which brought little results.
2. Community building: is really more of a sociological phenomenon than an industry or trend. Still, the mania of connecting socially through electronic means of communication (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) indicates the deep human need for real relationships. Someone needed to come along and provide a “high-touch” to go along with the “high-tech.”
3. Life coaching: the very concept of obtaining a coach to point out one’s strengths and offer constructive inputs for improvement is sound. However, much of the infantile life coaching industry (if it can yet be called that) is filled with people who are giving advice but have no results in life themselves from which to give it.
4. Personal Development: This has sometimes been called leadership development, self-help, or a rash of other terms, but the overall approach is to share life enhancing principles and techniques to people who are committed to betterment and achievement. There are some great individuals and companies who have provided excellent content for years, but much of what is out there is extremely overpriced, and unfortunately, some is just plain worthless.
Enter the Antagonists
Opposed to our revolutionizing the industry is, of course, anyone who wants things to stay as they are in any of the above four trends. As the saying goes, “When you set out to change the world, you’d better beware of those who already run it!” This includes entrenched competitors and those who work for them or prosper by their position, who are, as is only natural, threatened by what we are attempting to achieve. What results is the most natural situation in which two different sides are battling it out in the marketplace for proof that their way of doing things is best. As is so wonderful in the capitalistic system (as Orrin Woodward has written about often) the customer gets to decide. We respect our competitors of all stripes and sizes and look forward to the challenge they provide on the playing field of free enterprise!
What LIFE Offers to Customers
In this spirit, here is what we at LIFE Leadership are offering the customer:
1. World-class products with proven worth in the marketplace. In other words, our information, principles, and techniques really do help people improve their lives. (click here) As we like to say, our product is “Life changing information.”
2. A 30 day money back guarantee for any LIFE product if the customer is not completely satisfied (click here)
3. High value, low cost pricing that is extremely competitive and usually below everyone reputable we know of in the marketplace
4. Award winning content providers from the fields of leadership, financial management, relationship building, and team building (contributors include NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today best selling authors, US patent holders, decorated public speakers, internationally recognized consultants, etc.) (click here)
What LIFE Leadership Offers to Members
And here is what LIFE Leadership offers those who join and become “members,” thereby making themselves eligible for compensation for moving LIFE Leadership products to customers and building groups of others who do the same:
1. An extremely aggressive compensation plan that pays approximately 70% of total “point value” revenue back out to the members in the field. We know of no other pay plan that even comes close. (see attached “Comp Plan” PDF below)
2. Glamorous paid trips (see the same PDF below) to exotic locations for early achievement in the pay plan. People can qualify for these trips within just a little past their first year of participation. We know of no other opportunity providing this type of incentive this early in one’s time in the business.
3. An optional world-class marketing system including mobile apps, a web based back office, branded emails, personal home pages, voice messaging system, and an audio training Internet radio.
4. Some of the most affordable, most effective training available in the form of live events, audios, videos, downloads, streamed events, books, and ebooks.
5. An electronic office that tracks all the member’s business activities, automatic deposit of earned bonuses on a monthly basis, and One Time Cash Awards for new levels of achievement.
The Reaction of the Antagonists
In the meantime, those who want to protect the status quo, for whatever motivation, behave by throwing stones, misappropriating the truth, mounting smear campaigns, and nearly anything else you can think of in the book of unfair play. Not to worry, however, because we are not bothered by it. We understand competition, preach it everywhere we go, and know that name calling, bashing, spreading false negatives, and the like are nothing more than what’s expected in war (as the marketplace certainly is)! We would wish it to be gentlemanly and accurate, but know that in this world that would never be the case. Heck, even Mother Teresa was violently criticized throughout her life!
LIFE Leadership’s Vision
Our vision is to build Life Leadership to the point where it is the world’s number one provider of leadership services and personal development. On top of that, we want the Life Members who are responsible for moving our products into the world to be the most thrilled and best-compensated entrepreneurs in our entire industry. In fact, we intend to redefine the impression people have of our profession altogether, one jubilant customer at a time! We may not be perfect (and as long as I’m involved, certainly never will be!) but are striving mightily for higher levels of excellence every day.
It’s time to spread the word and help people live the lives they’ve always wanted!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Someone really should give you a big fat hug. Or a sloppy dog-slobber kind of kiss, or at least a candy bar, because candy bars are cool.
Have a great day!
LIFE Leadership Creative Director and CEO