Tag Archives: chris brady

Life Leadership and the Fight Against Illiteracy

Life Leadership and the Life on Life Initiative

Life Leadership is proud to support the Triangle Literacy Council through it’s Life on Life Initiative.  One aspect of this program involves a monthly corporate contribution of funds at the rate of $1 donated for each Life Leadership subscription.  These funds are provided to qualifying literacy centers in our various markets.

The Triangle Literacy Council is in Raleigh, North Carolina, near our headquarters.  Therefore it made sense to begin our fight against illiteracy right here in our own backyard.  Watch this video to get an understanding of just what an urgent problem illiteracy is, and what an excellent job the Triangle Literacy Council is doing to combat it.

Life Leadership also provides two paid hours per week for any of our employees who wish to donate their time tutoring others and teaching them to read. Several have already gone through the training process and are currently meeting with their assigned students on a regular basis.  This effort inspired several of Life Leadership’s members in the field in the Technical Triangle area, and they are undergoing the training process to become weekly tutors as well.

We are proud to be blessed to not only give treasure, but time and talent too, to a cause this critical to improving people’s lives, one at a time.

Laura Walters and the Triangle Literacy Council are doing an excellent job, and we look forward to eradicating illiteracy in our community together!

God bless!

Chris Brady

Pick Your Curve – Life Leadership and Power Curve Success

I have often taught that we don’t know what we don’t know. But sometimes, we don’t know what we think we know. And this second condition can lead to erroneous conclusions and frustrated efforts.

When I was a child in elementary school, one of my teachers had the nerve to teach me something I didn’t want to learn. She shared with us how the colorful objects we see really aren’t that color, but rather, the range of light waves of the color spectrum that are reflected by the surface of the item make it appear to be that color.

Woah.

And then my Dad taught me about the “birds and the bees.”

Double woah.

Here I was, cruising along on my BMX bike, wearing tube socks and thinking I had the whole world figured out. And then in an instant I discover that the way I thought everything worked was entirely wrong – twice!

Unfortunately, this condition isn’t confined to childhood. As adults, we are susceptible to the same “knowledge bias.” We think we know how something works when we actually don’t. And usually, we are very cock-sure in our incorrectness. It’s a condition I like to refer to as passionate ignorance. We are wrong, but we are certain we are right.

At Life Leadership, we are in the business of setting people free. For the vast majority of people who are in debt and struggle with their finances, we offer debt freedom through our Financial Fitness product suite. For committed, hard-working high-achievers, we provide a compensation program that authorizes people to sell our products and build teams of people who do the same thing. This is a shot at financial freedom. And, perhaps most importantly, for the few who are disenfranchised, disabled, or victims of disaster, we offer functional freedom through our Life on Life Initiative. We developed this terminology about “setting people free” and the three categories of freedom to explain our fundamental mission and how we strive to offer something for the whole spectrum of people and their particular situations.

But there is more to the story.

Most of us, without even realizing it, think of the world like the old “bell curve” we remember being graded upon in high school. We automatically think people and their performance fall into a normal distribution, or what is officially known as a “Gaussian” curve of distribution. I am sure you are familiar with what it looks like, but here it is nonetheless.

BellCurve

And in the case of the population of people in the markets in which Life Leadership operates, as described above, this bell curve of normal distribution describes very well what we see. A few at the high-end choose to take advantage of our pay plan and actually build the business. Most people are in the middle, merely using our Financial Fitness products to whittle down their debt (these people may or may not be “signed up” in our business). And a few are at the “bottom” of the curve in dire need of our help, because they truly can’t help themselves.

Freedombellcurve

But when it comes to describing the actual performance (read: results) of those who attempt to achieve high-level success, those who embrace our pay plan and determine that they want to use it to make money, things don’t follow the Gaussian bell curve, or normal distribution at all.  For this case, we must dig into the reality of how success actually “works.” You see, when it comes to success, and especially high-level success, what we think we know just isn’t so.

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s consider an endeavor totally outside of Life Leadership, such as being a professional actor/actress instead. The stage, the screen, the lights, the money, and the fame all have a strong appeal on those with such talents. We hear of high paychecks and we see outlandish lifestyles. We see the glitz and the glitter and the glossy gossip magazines. But we all know that only a few are fortunate enough to make it to this high level, and, thinking the bell or Gaussian curve describes the situation, we assume there must be a lot of people, in fact, most actors and actresses, who are somewhere in the middle, with a few terrible ones down at the lower tail of the curve. We all know this intrinsically, and yet we have it wrong!

According to leader of Google’s “People Operations”, Laszlo Bock, in his book Work Rules!, Screen Actors Guild data published in 2008 show that the financial results of actors does not follow a Gaussian curve at all, but rather what is called a “Power Curve” (or perhaps also a decaying exponential).

Power Curve

According to Bock, “Very roughly, the bottom third of active SAG members made no money from acting in 2007, and the next third earned less than $1,000. The next group, between the 68th and 95th percentiles, were paid between $1,000 and $100,000. The 95th to the 99th percentile actors earned between $100,000 and $250,000. And the top 1 percent earned over $250,000. The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent earned even more: Will Smith was the highest-paid actor, with over $80 million in earnings, followed by Johnny Depp ($72 million), Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers ($55 million each), and Leonardo DiCaprio ($45 million).” [italics added]

So for professional actors/actresses, the curve of distribution, roughly plotted, looks like the following:

Actorpowercurve

Notice that it is not the normal Gaussian bell curve at all, as we all would assume it would be, but rather a power curve. Notice also that the super high achievers at the extreme top end pull the average income way above the median. This means that most people are not average, but actually – wait for it – most people are below average! Stop and think about that for a minute. Most people are below average! (Oh! They’re not going to want to hear that!) Notice that fully 1/3 of the actors/actresses made no money! And the next third only $1,000! That’s two thirds of all the actors and actresses making next-to-nothing!

All of this goes against what we think we know. But if you really study this and understand it, you’ll quickly see that this curve for actors and actresses is exactly how success works in all categories where a government or artificial imposition is not placed upon results. Plot the financial results of people in professional sports, country singers, those who launch tech company start-ups, and even authors of books, and the results are similar – following a power curve and not a Gaussian bell curve.

Enter Life Leadership. In November of 2011 we proudly launched our company with world-class personal, professional, and financial development information and service products. We authorized distributors to sell those products for an immediate sales margin of 25% (a higher margin than many professional salespeople are paid), and then added a compensation plan on top of that sales margin to reward them for also building teams of people who did the same thing (merchandise our products and build teams to do the same). We worked really hard to minimize costs to run the enterprise and formulated a pay plan that paid very generously to the people making the sales.

Next, people joined, worked hard, sold our products, and built teams. Some people prospered and made enough money to live on, making the building of our business their professional career. A handful achieved really high levels of income, while many others only made a little. Many signed up and never did anything, riding off into the night after buying our starter kit never to be heard from again.

Each year, we publish a comprehensive “Income Disclosure Statement” designed to show the exact results of everyone who joins, whether they ever worked the business hard or not, or just signed up and rode into the night. And inevitably, someone looks at this data and says something like, “Only the people at the top make any significant money,” or, “most of those people aren’t making any money.” This criticism didn’t make any sense to us, from our angle, because we simply put a compensation plan out there that pays extremely well, and fairly at various levels all the way along the path of progress. It doesn’t discriminate in any way based upon race, creed, color, age, gender, or anything you can name. It is strictly pay-for-performance. So we have tried to explain it in different ways. But still, there will always be someone out there who says, “only a small percentage make the money.”

In a way, we can see their point. Why shouldn’t more people make more money? Why shouldn’t there be a bunch of people making a medium amount, for instance? How come there isn’t a larger percentage of people “in the middle” making the money our pay plan delivers for those levels? We’ve got a pay scale that rewards effort along the entire journey! And the 25% sales bonus is paid to everyone at every level no matter how long they’ve been with the company or how big their business is. What gives?

What gives is that our population of Life Members is not properly described by the Gaussian bell curve we all carry around in our heads, but rather by the Power Curve that depicts the results of all true performance-only systems (such as professional acting described above). Leave people free to achieve and perform in any endeavor, and you’ll get a power curve. Life Leadership and its compensation plan are no different.

This is very important to understand, and it applies to all areas of life, not just participation in Life Leadership’s compensation plan. High achievers are way ahead of the rest of the pack, and their results skew the scale and pull the average way above the median. What this means is not that one should avoid undertaking a performance-based endeavor, but rather that one should not falsely impose an erroneous bell curve in order to “analyze” the “odds of success.” With power curve situations averages are misleading because they are pulled upward by the lofty achievement of the top performers. And in true performance-only situations, there is no comfortable middle where a large percentage of the participants can hang out and do “pretty good.” Ultimately, one either makes it within the upper 1 or 2 or 5th percentile, or one doesn’t see much reward (at least financially speaking). As we said before, just apply this reality to professional sports, the arts, business start-ups, direct sales, and the like, and you will see that it is true again and again. Our false application of the bell curve simply won’t properly describe these “free to perform” situations. Such a map, in essence, doesn’t match the territory.

This is simply how the world works. In fact, the only alternative is to create a system wherein outside forces eliminate the upper possibilities based upon performance so that everybody instead gets a decent result but nothing big is available for high achievement. This, in fact, is exactly what most jobs provide. In such scenarios you will never hit it big (it’s not even available), but you can count on a steady flow of at least something for the fat middle of the pack. Some will get a little bit more, others will hang out at the bottom, but most people will be kept clumped together in the comfortable middle.

And this brings us full circle to the exact reason we launched our company in the first place. We wanted a legitimate alternative to a closed system of enforced mediocrity. We wanted to provide a legitimate shot upwards, without restriction, that would be available to anyone who chose to work that hard, learn that much, and stay at it that long. As cofounder Orrin Woodward often states, “We don’t promise easy. We just promise worth it.”

So ultimately, we have two choices in life. Find a closed system with outside forces that artificially impose a safe and “comfortable” bell curve, a situation with no chance of high highs but very little worry about low lows. Or, conversely, enter into a power curve situation where there is not much reward unless you perform mightily. It is one or the other.

It is ultimately up to each individual to choose which is right for him/her, and what God has designed and called him/her to accomplish. Just don’t apply bell curve analysis to a power curve situation and call it “unfair,” or a “scheme” or a “pyramid.” And then likewise, those who live in the power curves of life shouldn’t denigrate bell curve situations for being stifling and without upward mobility. Each is for whom it’s for.

Just make sure you choose wisely. Bell curve people are miserable in power curves, and power curve people are miserable in bell curves.

Pick your curve and live it with verve!

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

Smile - Version 2

The information presented on this blog and in any of its videos is for general educational purposes only, and provides information the authors believe to be accurate on the subject matter covered.  It is presented here with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher are providing advice for any particular portfolio or for any individual’s particular situation, or rendering investment advice or other professional services such as legal or accounting advice.  If expert advice in areas that include investment, legal, and accounting are needed, please seek a competent professional’s services.

This publication may make reference to performance data collected over various periods of time.  Remember that past results do not guarantee future performance.  Performance data, as well as laws and regulations, change over time, which could affect the applicability of the information presented on this blog and its videos.  Any data presented herein is used merely to illustrate the underlying principles.

This blog and its videos are not to serve as the basis for any financial decision or as a recommendation of any specific investment.

No warranty is made with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and both the authors and the publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this blog and its videos.

Life Leadership: Don’t Scam Yourself

“Sometimes You Need Outside Eyes”

Lead Yourself Through Life: Perspective

This talk was obviously part of a longer piece of teaching, but I think it stands by itself as a great reminder that we often are too close to a problem to find its answer.  When faced with a conundrum that appears to have you beat, try the following:

1. Attempt to gain a new perspective. Take a look at the situation through a different lens, or, as in the case with my 9 year old son, through someone else’s eyes.

2. Take a break.  As I said in my book, A Month of Italy, sometimes you need to get away in order to get a way.  This means that often, as soon as we break with our normal routine and take some time out, our brains, allowed the freedom to work on the problem in the background, will eventually pop out an answer.  So sometimes, paradoxically, the best way to solve a problem is to do nothing about it for a while!

3. Seek new combinations.  The late Steve Jobs once said that all innovation is really just creative combination.  So ask yourself what new things you can mix together that have never been tried. Often the solution is not a stand alone thing, but rather a blending of a couple of your best ideas.

Live Your life with eyes wide open

Mark Twain once called himself a “prodigious noticer.”  I love that phrase. It encourages us to make active observation a normal practice. When you look, really see.  When you listen, really hear. Try to take in your surroundings in a fresh way, opening your senses to things you might be missing.  And above all, live your life with eyes wide open.

So don’t scam yourself out of a rich and abundant life by seeing only what you are used to seeing. Remember these simple techniques and see and feel anew the world around you.  Not only might it help you unlock answers to nagging problems, but it will for sure lead to the living of a richer and more fulfilling life.

Rock on!

Chris Brady

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Life Leadership Scam and the Leadership Train

Is Life Leadership a Scam?

Have you ever seen the movie Revenge of the Nerds? It’s an oldie but a goodie. Actually, I can’t really say that, as I haven’t seen it since I was a wee teen.  However, the premise, that the nerds outsmart their good-looking, athletic, popular, jock counterparts has really come to fruition in our times.

For instance, have you ever realized that those geeky bespectacled kids you used to push around at the bus stop are the ones responsible for terms like “iOS8” and  “PDF” being part of our normal vernacular? Or that we are all now living under the tyranny of baud rates and hyper text markup language? It’s as if they all got together and decided to get revenge on those of us who are too impatient and too, well, un-geeky to care about ones and zeros.  WE JUST WANT OUR STUPID PHONES TO WORK!!!!

Ah hem.  Anyway, there seems to be no end to what the nerds will come up with next.  Take the latest round of web address suffixes.  As if getting used to .com and .net and .org and .gov and .edu wasn’t enough, some hyper-smart geek got the notion that if those “web properties” (there they go again!) were so valuable, why not create like, I don’t know, 1700 more!  And just like that, we’ve got a whole bunch of new cyber real estate to pay for.  Suffixes such as .hello, .tattoo, and .plumbing may even make a little bit of sense.  But one is left wondering just how far this will go?  How many new suffixes could possibly be introduced over time? The answer? A limitless amount!

Some of the more troublesome ones, however, are the curious ones such as .scam and .sucks. Wow. Really? Are there that many people and entities out there being paraded through the mud?  With just a few key strokes and a handy-dandy search engine, one can quickly confirm that yes, Martha, nearly everything is being called a scam online these days.  From the 9-11 attacks to Mother Teresa, and everything in between (and let’s face it, there’s a lot betwixt those two terms), it seems some mole in an hole somewhere is getting his nerdish satisfaction from hurling the term “scam” or “sucks” at it.  So much so, in fact, that one of the many minions in the nerdosphere has seen fit to create a whole suffix just for such purposes.

What a wonderful modern world in which we live!

So, when one asks if Life Leadership is a scam, I guess it should be no surprise!  If they’re questioning Mother Teresa . . . .

Is Network Marketing a Scam?

And, further, if anything and everything gets hit with the scam label, why not an entire profession that’s been around for 150 years? Sure!

So what are the answers to these intellectual questions of infinite profundity?  Glad you asked.  NY Times best selling author and Guinness World Record Holder Orrin Woodward has just released a new book that addresses both of these questions in a most interesting way.  Written as a novella with interesting characters and real life questions about the profession in general and Life Leadership in specific, the book is so much fun that I read it in one sitting! (Others are reporting the same). I believe that the questions as to the validity of the networking industry and Life Leadership‘s key position within it are answered eloquently and thoroughly. Of course, I am also biased, as I’ve enjoyed my time in the industry now for over two decades, and can’t imagine life without the opportunity to Have Fun, Make Money, and Make a Difference (all three in one place).

Is Orrin Woodward a ScaM?

Oh man, will the tough questions never stop?

Sidestepping the obvious rebuttal that a person (reference Mother Teresa above) cannot actually be defined as a “scam,” one has to wonder what drives such slander? Is there possibly such a thing in the nerd world as digital assassins? Could there possibly be those who benefit from tearing down a competitor online from the cowardly comfort of anonymity? Could it be that there are actually paid positions to do so? Let’s face it, if the nerds are capable of capitalizing on a .scam suffix, one is left to conclude that anything could be possible!

But I digress.

What I really want to do is introduce you to Orrin Woodward‘s excellent new book, which I technically already did, but forgot to give you the cool photo of its cover, or the interesting video trailer in which Orrin introduces it.

Enjoy!

(And you nerds? Well, just to let you know, I loaded all this media onto this blog post all by myself! So there.)

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

The-Leadership-Train-Cover

Financial Fitness from Life Leadership

Are You Ready to Get Financially Fit?

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

The information presented on this blog and in any of its videos is for general educational purposes only, and provides information the authors believe to be accurate on the subject matter covered.  It is presented here with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher are providing advice for any particular portfolio or for any individual’s particular situation, or rendering investment advice or other professional services such as legal or accounting advice.  If expert advice in areas that include investment, legal, and accounting are needed, please seek a competent professional’s services.

This publication may make reference to performance data collected over various periods of time.  Remember that past results do not guarantee future performance.  Performance data, as well as laws and regulations, change over time, which could affect the applicability of the information presented on this blog and its videos.  Any data presented herein is used merely to illustrate the underlying principles.

This blog and its videos are not to serve as the basis for any financial decision or as a recommendation of any specific investment.

No warranty is made with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and both the authors and the publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this blog and its videos.

Keys to Happiness: A Life Leadership Commentary


Sincerely,
Chris Brady

Success in Networking: Finding the Right People

 

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

3 Lessons for Developing a World Class Organization

Life Leadership

Personal Management – The Business of Your Life

Your Life is Your Business

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:

  1. Informational Reinforcement – to stay sharp and continue learning and growing, one needs to be plugged into a source of information pertaining to the craft at hand. Read all you can about your pursuit. Listen to audio recordings as well. Peruse trade magazines and familiarize yourself with any and all websites of authority pertaining to your field. Find out if there are events or symposiums, concerts or competitions that you can attend and use as educational experiences. Gathering and digesting all the information you can get your hands on for your particular area of chosen mastery will keep you fresh and be a shortcut forward in your development.
  1. Relational Reinforcement – There is an old joke that goes like this: “Two idiots and one genius go into a room together. After a period of time, out come three idiots.” Beyond being funny, it clearly demonstrates the power of association with others. Choose your associations wisely (as the wrong ones can be incredibly wrong). Make sure you are hanging around with people who are experts in the endeavor you are pursuing. Find yourself a Mr. Miyagi and wash the heck out of his car, sand his floors until they shine, and paint his fence like Tom Sawyer’s friends. The reinforcement you get from mentors and experts in your field will quiet the voices of dissent around you who don’t understand what you’re doing or why.
  1. Self-Talk – in one of the odder techniques available, many of the top masters in their fields long ago had to learn to stop listening to themselves and instead begin talking to themselves. This is because our minds are quickly capable of “going negative” on us, and, believe it or not, our own words to ourselves are very powerful. For this reason, practice the art of positive self-talk. This can be done through affirmation statements and memorized phrases of encouragement (Bible verses are also good for this) to keep yourself focused and provide a quick re-centering when your wheels begin to wobble.

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

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Originality: What Do You Have?

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.

Sincerely,

Chris Brady

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