Personal Development

Three Essentials for a Banana Free Living

Posted by 10 November, 2008 (6) Comment

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I’m currently reading Letting Go of Your Bananas. Bananas in this instance, are the positive and negative things in your life. Like life, there are good bananas and rotten bananas. This book aims to help you become more successful by getting rid of everything rotten in your life.

The first piece of advice is to:

1. Maintain a willingness to be coached

I think this holds true in all facets of life. Of the successful people I know, many of them have mentors (similar to a coach). If someone isn’t willing to take the advice of others and learn from other people’s successes and failures, they may find it difficult to obtain the type of success they desire. I think in general, the intent of this statement is for individuals to keep an open mind and be willing to learn from others.

2. Develop a consistently powerful work ethic

Nothing is going to come easy. If you want something, you are going to have to work for it. Michael Jordan didn’t become the best basketball player of all time overnight. He had to work for it. On the other hand, you don’t want to end up on the extreme other side of the scale where you are putting your health at risk as has been the case in Japan as reported by the Washington Post. Zen Habits has a great post about Balance Between Life and Work.

3. Always be crystal clear about the direction of your life

If you want to know where you are going in life, you need goals. Goals are great, but they need to be manageable or else you’ll get frustrated and quit. Steve Pavlina has a great post on How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve. One thing I have done to help me achieve my goals is to start a blog. Here are My Goals for the Remainder of 2008. There are a few reasons why I started a blog to help achieve my goals.

1. I want you, the reader, to help keep me accountable. I don’t want to look like a douche bag for not completing at least most of my goals. I’ll admit though that most of my goals for this year focus on being consistent. In my opinion, that’s probably my biggest problem.

2. My goals are written down on my blog. I look at them from just about anywhere in the world and I don’t have the opportunity to lose another piece of paper :).

3. My blog helps me with my biggest problem, consistency. There have been a few night where I have really not felt like putting up a post. The recent work travel has really limited my time spent at home where I usually type up my post. However, I have consistently posted 3 times per week (2 posts and 1 Cool Links of the Week) since June so I am very happy about that.

Photo by Pamela Heywood

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Categories : Personal Development Tags : ,

The Most Powerful Weapon in The World

Posted by 3 November, 2008 (2) Comment

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I’ve just finished reading "All Marketers Are Liars" by Seth Godin. Seth Godin made the statement:

Nuclear weapons have killed a tiny fraction of the number of people that unethical marketing has. It’s time we realized that there may be no more powerful weapon on Earth.

This statement really took hold in my mind. Is marketing the most powerful weapon in the world? Seth Godin is a marketer so how do I know if he is lying or "telling a good story"?

Marketing stories can have a nearly instant impact, and that impact can be felt for decades. Paul Prudhomme created a story about redfish that made the fish a staple in restaurants around the country – and came very close to causing its extinction.

I checked on this and found it to be true. Here’s a link to the article in the NY Times. Granted this is only one source, but the NY Times is a reputable source of information in many regards. After one example, I’m not completely convinced. I’d like a more recent example.

Coke and Pepsi created a story about corn syrup, and this myth is causing the premature death from heart disease and diabetes to millions of people.

This is an example that really hits home. I’ve heard that this is true, but how do I know it’s not another marketer telling me a good story so I’ll buy the more expensive organic and natural food and beverages? This issue I found to be less conclusive since companies could stand to lose millions and possibly billions of dollars if corn syrup is indeed found to be bad for you. In fact, the corn refiners have set up a website dedicated to the "Truth About High Fructose Corn Syrup". An article at BoingBoing.com concludes that high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, but is it true or is it something we want to believe because being healthy and green is a fad (I hope it’s not a fad, but only time will tell) in the US now? Here are some other resources for this particular subject:

http://www.karljones.com/index.php/2006/05/24/high-fructose-corn-syrup/
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5342514
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/still-spooked-by-high-fructose-corn-syrup/?scp=1&sq=corn%20syrup&st=cse

The point of this post was not to state that redfish or corn syrup is good or bad. I wanted to reemphasize that Seth Godin’s point is that marketing is a real weapon. We are constantly bombarded with marketing.

Seth Godin has two questions to ask a marketer in determining whether you should believe the story that the marketer is telling you.

1. If I knew what you know, would I choose to buy what you sell?

2. After I’ve used this and experienced it, will I be glad that I believed the story or will I feel ripped off?

Are there any other recent marketing examples that you feel may end up hurting people?

photo by Giginger

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Other articles you may find interesting:

10 Ways to Become Financially Independent
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Categories : Personal Development Tags :

6.1 Key Steps to Success

Posted by 15 September, 2008 (3) Comment

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Photo by Chichacha

1. Believe in Yourself

You have to believe in yourself and your ability to be successful. If you don’t believe in yourself, you are going to have a difficult time visualizing being successful. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone supposed to believe in you? If you don’t believe in yourself, I think you are going to have a difficult time convincing a bank to support your business. Believe in yourself! Visualize your success!

2. Set Goals

Setting goals is like creating a map. If you don’t have a map, how do you know where you are going? You need to set yearly goals as well as 5 year, 10 year, and life goals. It’s great to have lofty goals, but you also have to be practical and allow yourself some successes. I know I’ve had a big problem with lofty goals and then being discouraged when none of my goals were being met. For instance, for 2008 I’ve set 14 goals for the rest of this year. [Goals for the Remainder of 2008] Most of the goals have to do with being consistent. In my opinion, consistency is one of the biggest differences between people that are successful and those who are not. Successful people set goals and work consistently toward them. What sort of goals are you going to set? Ideally, goals should make you feel good once they are accomplished. If they aren’t going to make you feel good, chances are you are less likely to complete them. One idea I read about on Millionaire Mommy Next Door is the concept of a Treasure Map. The idea is to put together a collage of things that make you happy. You should put the “Treasure Map” in a place where you’ll see it often. This is a great reminder to stay focused on your goals so you will one day be able to reap the rewards of your hard work.

3. Develop a System

Make things easy for yourself. You don’t want to be like the guy in the picture below who is struggling. You more than likely already have many struggles in life so don’t add to them! You have to develop a system and you need to stick with it. It needs to be manageable. Remember, it’s important to have some early successes otherwise it’s easy to get discouraged. Also keep your system simple. If your system is complex, it’s going to be much easier for you to want to give up and quit.

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Photo by Randy Son of Robert’s

4. Stop Making Excuses

Excuses are lame. Don’t be lame! People who are successful don’t make excuses. People who are successful define goals, put together a plan to achieve those goals, and they go do it and keep after it until they reach their goal. Remember, take the time to exert effort toward achieving your goals, and stop thinking of all of the reasons why you shouldn’t do something. As Dr. Schwartz would say in “The Magic of Thinking Big”, excuses are something “small thinkers” talk about. Don’t you want to be a “BIG THINKER”?

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

Keeping yourself accountable is pretty difficult. One of my major tools for keeping myself accountable is that I consistently post to my blog. I post twice a week on the same days at the same times. There are a few reasons why I blog, but one of them is that I post my goals on my blog. I don’t have a ton of readers, but the few I do have keep me accountable. I don’t want to have to post an article about how I did not achieve my goals. I would feel badly that I not only let myself down, but I let my readers down. I think it’s easier to deal with disappointing yourself than it is to disappoint others. Some other ways that you can keep yourself accountable to your goals is to ask that your friends and family to keep you in check. You can also search for a Meetup.com group that has members with similar goals. My last suggestion is to find people with similar goals and form a “master mind” group.

6. Tackle the Goals for Early Success

I’ve tried to make sure that I’ve achieved some goals early on. To be honest, most of my goals were geared towards being consistent and keeping to a schedule. As goofy as that may seem, I think inconsistency has been one of the reasons I have not achieved the success I want. For instance, if I post two quality articles per week to my blog, I have no doubt my blog will become more popular. In a different area of my life, I will undoubtedly be able to run a half marathon if I run a few times per week and slowly increase my stamina and distance. It’s really all about being happy. For me, reaching my goals, as easy as they may seem, will not only make me happy, but will give me a sense of accomplishment.

6.1 Create Your Own Luck

A lot of people claim that people are successful because of luck. I don’t buy it and they shouldn’t be selling it. People create their own luck and their own opportunities. I have some friends that are real estate investors that are receiving SERIOUS money by leasing their mineral rights to gas drilling companies. Sure, they are very fortunate that they happen to own the mineral rights to many properties, but they created this luck. They spent a lot of time researching, buying, fixing, and renting the properties. They are certainly reaping the rewards they may or may not have anticipated, but their hard work helped create this luck. Note that I only gave luck one tenth of six bullets!

Categories : Personal Development Tags : ,

Rules of Likeability

Posted by 14 August, 2008 (0) Comment
Have you ever noticed that a lot of successful people are also very likeable? Think about it. How will you determine who you vote for in the upcoming election? Sure, where one stands on the issues is important, but if you don’t like the guy or gal running, how can you cast your vote in their favor? Likewise, if you interview someone for a position at your company, all qualifications being equal, are you more likely to hire a candidate you like or the one you merely tolerate?
Marc and Angel posted an article that described the 21 Keys to Magnetic Likeability.
The first key is to “Be Attentive to Others and Never Stop Listening”. I completely agree with that. If you look around the room you will find the most important person isn’t the one who is talking the most, it’s the person that is engaging others in conversation. The most successful person asks questions, encouraging other participant to share their thoughts. Not only is the successful person possibly learning something new, but he/she is interested in the person speaking thus leaving a positive impression by making the speaker feel important.
Edward over at Red Deer Blog states that it’s not who you know, it’s who you know that likes you. (link to article)
He goes on to say:
If there was just one thing that could impact our lives in a positive way, what would it be?
In search of an answer, I tried to think of who I knew that seemed to have a charmed, happy and profitable life? I could think of many people, some I knew and some I read about. So I asked myself, what do they have in common? And the answer is…..

“they are all likeable”

People who are likeable tend to get the best jobs, build the best companies, have more friends, better relationships and enjoy life more. Sounds good, right? But that doesn’t even touch the benefits of being likeable. Here are a few more benefits;

* Doctors give more time and better care to patients they like
* Likeability is the most consitent predictor of election results
* Likeable people inspire others to give more
* They get better and quicker service from retail businesses
* Likeable students get better marks from teachers
* They get forgiven quicker for misdeeds (I need that one)
* They have better physical and mental health
* Live longer and happier lives

If those traits are indeed true then sign me up! I want to be likeable.

Lately, I’ve been very aware of how much I talk and how much I encourage others to speak. I’m usually VERY talkative and tend to dominate conversations, but lately I’ve been trying to focus on key questions and lots of eye contact to let the person know that I think what they’re saying is important.

In relation to work and my two businesses, being likeable could really help me in those ventures. If I’m likeable, I’m likelier to get more raises with possible promotions. I have to admit that I am introverted around my boss and many of my co-workers, so consider that a work in progress. However, if a visitor comes into our lab, I’m always very engaging. Come to think of it, I’m not sure why. In the future I resolve to be more talkative and engage my co-workers in conversation by asking questions with a concentration on my superiors.
For my two businesses, I will work on my networking skills when I speak to other real estate investors or potential team members (realtors, mortgage brokers, contracters, etc.). Is a homeowner going to sell her house to a person she really likes, or to someone she only marginally likes? For my blog, I have been asking people if they would be interested in writing a guest post, and in return I have been complimenting them on their work at achieving their various goals. Complimenting people is just one more step in my journey to Likeability.
I was able to practice my networking and likeability skills last night at a real estate investing meeting. I usually feel a bit awkward going up to strangers, but I made it a point to spend quality time with as many people as I could. I thought I did well by encouraging the people to talk about themselves and I feel that doing this at every meeting will continue to enhance my networking and likeability skills.
Now I just need to figure out a way to gauge my likeability in order to track my success, or see what I need to work on so that I can improve in those areas. Does anyone out there have any ideas as to how to achieve this? I am open to any and all suggestions.
Categories : Personal Development Tags :

Service First!

Posted by 27 July, 2008 (0) Comment

I need to think about service instead of keeping my eye on the green. If someone expects that I will give them a certain level of service, I need to perform to that level and beyond. My efforts should be focused on doing a thorough job and keeping my customer happy in whatever I do. I will tell you that it is pretty difficult to do so especially with my intense focus on finances particularly relating to paying off debt and accumulating savings. It’s especially difficult when I have several financial goals that I am trying to meet. I’ve always had a fascination with money.

So with all of these financial pressures and focus on paying debt down and accumulating savings, how does one focus on service? I see Google as a good example. The Google focus on service is number one and the way I see it, if that mantra can work for a small unknown like Google (ha!), then it can work for me too. If you agree, it may be worth your time to look at “Ten Things that Google has Found to be True“.

I think Brian Kim posted a very nice article on the problem with chasing money.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

“By chasing money, you tend to become so focused on the external means of doing so that you activate an unnatural process because you constantly focus outside yourself, which prevents you from focusing internally on how best you can serve. All the avenues that people pursue to chase the almighty dollar have the hidden flaw of taking you out of the equation. By constantly focusing on finding a “vehicle” outside yourself to make money, it stops you from asking the right questions to put the focus back on you because that’s the correct solid foundation you want to work off of. Questions such as: What am I good at? Where do my strengths, interests, and talents lie? How can I best use these to serve others? You have to factor YOU into the equation.


Here’s a link to his article. That sounds pretty convincing to me.

In the end I have two businesses that I am operating or trying to operate. My take on “service first and the money will follow” is that my real estate investing business and this blog are based on referrals and my ability to either help homeowners in their situation or produce quality content with this blog, respectively. Real estate investing is a referral business and if I go out of my way to help someone protect their most valuable asset, do you think they will remember that good deed and, for that matter, me? I would hope so! The same could be said for my blog. I hope that by posting my progress to financial independence, I can inspire others to achieve the same goal. If I can help someone be a success then that will make me a success or at the very least make me feel good about my contribution to society.

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