Life Happens

Well, life has gotten busy, and I've had little time for business activities, let alone blogging.

Hopefully things are on their way back to (relative) normalcy soon.


Failure A Prerequisite To Success

Jeff Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind blog has a great post on failure's crucial role in success.

Some interesting points:

Our culture seems to be drifting into an alarming view of success and
failure. We seek quick or even instant success. I see it in entrepreneurs who
look at their businesses as deals to yield a quick, short-term windfall rather
than as a sustainable source of income and good jobs. We seek our fortunes
through lotteries and lawsuits rather than hard work.
. . .
America has become a society of people who blame everyone and everything else for our own failures.

Read the whole thing.

Star Qualities

For a much shorter list, here's Entrepreneur's top five traits found in the best salespeople:

1. Focusing on the customer

2. Following through

3. Having the right knowledge

4. Understanding customers' problems

5. Going above and beyond

(Read the whole thing for elaboration on each point.)

Secrets Of Success

Found this interesting list when cleaning out my IE "Favorites" list... The compiler of the list, Dale Kirby, notes:

"This page is a list of ideas to which various hard-working people have attributed their success. Many of the items were culled from The Secrets of the World's Top Sales Performers by Christine Harvey, but others have come from various interviews, books and articles whose sources I was negligent in noting."


1. A tightly scheduled 12-hour day.
2. Have contacting goals.
3. Systematic communication.
4. Know your subject.
5. Learn from questions you are asked: Don't get caught twice.
6. Always have an active prospect list that you contact regularly.
7. Respond fast.
8. Keep your name in front of the customer.
9. Develop innovative strategies for yourself and your customers.
10. Impressive preparation.
11. Finding a niche.
12. Weekly targets.
13. Show people their strengths.
14. Use 80/20 rule.
15. Each day write down 2 things on the job you did that you enjoyed
or found satisfying.
16. React to problems promptly.
17. Honesty.
18. It's all or nothing for the customer.
19. Thorough planning.
20. Verify key points after meetings in writing.
21. Start meetings with a review.
22. Bring, show or discuss one positive they are not expecting.
23. Tried and true case studies.
24. Develop a system that allows you to find info in 15 seconds.
25. Respect deadlines on promises made.
26. Use flexibility to break into new markets.
27. Perfect your communication.
28. Mentally walk with them.
29. Put features and benefits into layers of pyramid and focus on best layer.
30. Mind-emptying excercises.
31. Structured follow-up
32. See how success works and copy, copy, copy.
33. Don't get tired of service.
34. Flair
35. Anticipate questions and know the answers.
36. Believe in your product.
37. Know exactly where you're going to start the next day.
38. Have high daily targets and when you achieve them--quit.
39. Set up definte rules to get over each hurdle and on to the next.
40. Know competitors products.
41. Create pride of ownership.
42. Have a structured selling answer to "What do you do? & a handout.
43. State your price as a benefit.
44. Answer, "What do you do?"
45. Spend 90% of your time either prospecting or on appointments.
46. Develop solid closing questions.
47. Know your product--shoot the answer.
48. List the benefits of your product.
49. Look as if you've operated the product all your life.
50 Full-scale mock-up. Prototype.
51. Be there when you're needed.
52. Never, ever forget one single thing you've promised to do,
no matter how trivial it seems.
53. Respect the client for what he is and for what he has accomplished in life.
54. Verbalize respect.
55. Reliability, responsiveness, tangibles, assurance, empathy.
56. Know your case and their case.
57. Put enormous thought and energy into reconfiguring your world
so that when emergencies happen you have exactly what you need
to do the job.
58. Know their history when you arrive.
59. Always know and communicate the next step.
60. 3 Steps: Previous, Current, Next.
61. Way of the gull: Work like hell and go after every scrap.
62. Leverage time and effort.
63. Analyze, measure, identify my selling, marketing, advertising and operations.
64. In a minute, describe what it is about your business that gives
greater advantage, greater benefit, and greater result to your client.
65. How can I test one way against another?
66. What is my clear, accurate distinct vision of my business?
67. How many better, other additional ways could I be doing?
68. How can I get the highest and best use of my time and opportunity.
69. Who could recommend me?
70. What do my clients pre-do and post-do that I can leverage.
71. Do one good thing consistently well.
72. If something works, experiment with a copy.
73. Never create the same routine twice.
74. Trial and error but debrief.
75. Rise before dawn.
76. Be willing to be consumed by a task as long as it takes.
77. Practice the basics endlessly.
78. Your core investment must be in understanding your customers.
79. Stress high quality relationships
80. Be a perpetual prospecting machine.
81. Lose the no's.
82. Have a strategic plan and a relentless apllication of the plan.
83. Document everything. Always know what happened.



Move and show me what you can do
When you step into the circle and shake like we do
Move when you just can't take it
And move if you just feel like breaking it

Can you hear me? Stop, look, listen to my voice,
It was never my choice to feel all alone
This is my home
Back up, you don't know if you've never been here,
You've never been to the place inside, I face my fear
It takes everything I am

Move and show me what you can do
When you step into the circle and shake like we do
and Move when you just can't take it
And move if you just feel like breaking it

Come near me, stop, look, listen to my voice
If you're making the choice tell all the girls and the boys

Either scream or rejoice
Let's make that noise
Either move or we will all be destroyed
Back up and let go if you've never been here,
You've never been to the place inside, I face my fears,
It takes everything I am

So just
Move and show me what you can do
When you step into the circle and shake like we do
and Move when you just can't take it
And move if you just feel like breaking it

I come crashing to the floor
And I know there must be more like me
I've seen this all before, I can't carry this anymore, break free
So breath, and leave until the storm is over
'Cause underneath, there's a diamond passing over
So breath, let's leave until the storm is over,
Because I want to take you away

Move and show me what you can do
When you step into the circle and shake like we do
and Move when you just can't take it
And move if you just feel like breaking

--Thousand Foot Krutch

Blogging and Referral-Based Marketing

(Just going back over some old posts and reread my original response in comments to the blogger "webchicky" which I highlighted in my "What Went Wrong?" post. I've decided it's worthy of it's own posting, so here it goes...)

Heard of referral-based marketing? No, how about blogging? Same thing. You sign up, then you recruit people to subcribe to your point of view, who hopefully tell other people about it and pretty soon you have a BILLION readers!

The more clever bloggers, of course, incorporate links to services or products that their loyal downlin-- er, I mean, subscriber base can purchase-- these are done via what's called affilliate programs-- a contractual agreement between a referrer and a supplier in which the supplier agrees to pay the referrer a set compensation for purchases from the referrer's subscriber base, who are identified via an ID number or code.

Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other respectable businesses employ this method. Other bloggers register with an advertising service, such as BlogAds or Google Adsense, wherein the same principle applies-- the referrer drives the traffic of his/her blog subscriber base to the advertisements of various products and services and is paid a set compensation for the click-through rate, by the 3rd party agency (like BlogAds).

Others still employ their blog to raise awareness to their eBay auctions, in which they rely on the infrastructure of an established 3rd party company to facilitate the selling of products and collect a set percentage. Some bloggers, resorting essentially to begging, implement Amazon or Paypal tipjars. Some even sell t-shirts, hats and coffee mugs created by a 3rd-party companyfor their blog, which earns them a certain percentage.

Some, the very most clever, use their blogs to teach other bloggers how to make money from blogging they way they have, using any or all of the above methods. The more people they recruit to be loyal to their site, the more money they make. Is Darren Rowse of problogger a scam artist or cult leader?

No? Why not? His blog has money-making tips all over it, and his blog generates income. Is he, in a sense, recruiting? Certainly. Does he make money from his recruits? Well that's the point, isn't it? How scandalously unethical-- oh wait... he's called a leader, a trendsetter, an entrepreneur! Why is that?

All of this is considered acceptable and unoffensive in the blogosphere-- indeed, nearly every blogger aspires to more traffic (i.e. a bigger subscriber base) to their blog, and if possible, enough compensation from affiliate programs, ads, tip jars or memorabelia on their blogs to pay for the blog hosting and maybe a little spending cash.

In addition, everyone engages in product or service referral, online and offline. Taking a casual scan of webchicky's blog, I see referrals/endorsements for the following:
-4 ft pre-lit artificial tree at Target
-an health and fitness regime involving a gym and vitamins
-Maximillian's Grill & Wine Bar
-518 West restaurant
-Firefox 1.5
-Carolina Hurricanes
-Trans-Siberian Orchestra
-Do Not Call Registry
-MSNBC news
-several Starbucks products

Just taking the first two for example, had webchicky established an Amazon affiliate program and linked to the 4 ft pre-lit artificial tree at their partner store, Target; or had linked to vitamins she is taking for her fitness regime in Amazon's health and beauty section, would anyone regard that link as her engaging in scam-like or cult-like activity? Does her linking to her online business carolinawebdev.com via therogans.com strike anyone as predatory or shamelessly opportunist?

Of course not. That's just business. If people happen to establish a sense of acquaintence or trust with her via her blog and then just happen to find a need for a web developer and enlist her company to fill that need, that's just how business is done. Whether good bloggers or good business persons (Quixtar-supplied or otherwise), they are essentially leveraging the relationships they're building (in the process of providing products or services) in order to influence the behavior of the other person for their own benefit. As long as there's also a legitimate benefit for the other party, this is not unethical.

Hmm. Interesting.

So, the only difference I see here is:

1) webchicky, like most people, engages in product/service referral for other companies but fails to take advantage of existing affiliate programs which would compensate her for activities she is engaging in anyway-- she essentially markets for other companies for free. That is her perogative. Others are a bit more enterprising. That is their perogative.

2) Unlike Amazon's affliliate program, whose compensation plan is only 1-tiered (payment is only made for direct referrals, not referrals of referrals) and often only 1-time (referred customers who return to Amazon for later purchases aren't necessarily credited to the original referrer), Quixtar's affiliate program is infinitely tiered and recurring.

3) Unlike Amazon's affiliate program which accepts virtually any referral link, Quixtar's affiliate program requires personal relationships to precede business transactions, requiring individuals to develop *gasp!* relationship skills and, like, personalities and stuff.

4) Not all persons find such personal development a desirable prerequisite for making money-- although anyone making any sustainable income from any venture online or offline are already engaged in similar personal development activities whether they realize it or not.

5) Not all business owners contracting with Quixtar's affiliate program have quite perfected the necessary skills to engender professionalism and trust in their prospective clients or partners-- apparently the grocery store couple is still in the development phase. I'm sure carolinawebdev.com's very first web project was as exemplary in technological prowess, aesthetic design, navigational efficiency and infrastructurally stability as their most recent project-- wait... no? Hmm. How disgraceful. People shouldn't be allowed to start a business until they have perfected themselves, right? No again? Hmm.

So why all the "cult" and "scam" language?

6) When a person opens a more traditional business, whether online or offline, they have something visible to hide behind-- a store front, a website, a product, a service-- while they gradually develop any skills, personality and self-esteem they may be lacking which are necessary to sustain the business for the long-term. When a person opens an affiliation with Quixtar, whose compensation plan favors those who establish multiple tiers of referrals, that aspect of their business is essentially invisible-- they initially have nothing to show but themselves, nothing to hide behind.
That frankly scares the begeebers out of most people, and in encounters like the amusing scenario webchicky described, this fear is a factor in the behavior of both sides involved. Behavior that is subsequently exhibited in ways that run counter to common business sense until the involved persons get their game together. Does that make this couple scammers or cultists?

No. It makes them a peculiar creature called "human."

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April Accountability

-STP (qty, goal 10): 0
-Personal Use (scale of 1-10): 8
-Clients (qty, goal 10): 5
-Book reading (scale of 1-10): 2
-Tape/CD habit (scale of 1-10): 7
-Function attendance (scale of 1-10): 10
-Teachable (scale of 1-10): 6
-Accountable (scale of 1-10): 8
-CommuniKate (scale of 1-10): 9

Comments: Improvement in the client area (XS Energy drink is so easy to sell after giving a free sample), but I did poorly with business exposure otherwise. Still lacking in the book-reading area. Still only performing at a Prosumer level.
This is really frustrating to me, as I started the month with a high level of expectation.
Anoniwife is pregnant, which is of course fabulous news-- but the chaos wrought in the most basic elements of our daily schedule (eating, sleeping, housekeeping) due to morning all-day sickness and a hypersensitive nose has definitely been a challenge and a big eye-opener to just how poor my time-management skills are (not to mention an increased appreciation for what a great partner my wife is!)

I think time management is one of the key areas of discipline which keeps most IBOs from succeeding. I must overcome this.

Going forward, I will post my accountability weekly, only I'm going to change up the parameters a bit, more along the lines of the "Business Pulse" section of my last Financials posting.

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Quixtar Personal IBO Websites

Dave Robison has the lowdown on the new free offering for IBOs from Quixtar Corp.: Personal IBO websites.
This is a nice move by Quixtar, one that many have wanted for a long time.

For those IBOs without third party or LOS provided websites, there would an awkward moment for an IBO, after singing the praises of the future of ecommerce, when a prospective partner or client says, "Sounds great, what's your website?"

To which the IBO would be forced to lamely reply, "Uhhh... well my supplier's website is..."

Dave covers the limitations well, so I won't reiterate them, but suffice it to say, I'm very pleased with WWDB's my.biz offering in comparison and find it to be well worth the fee.

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Flippers, Bubbles and Boomers

Real Estate is one of the prime economic indicators for the national economy; and not surprisingly, 46% of U.S. millionaires own investment real estate-- a statistic that "No Money Down" house-flipping infomercials or seminars would be happy to cite. (The survey does not actually state that real estate investment was the means of aquiring the millions, however, just simply that millionaire assets include investment real estate.)

An MSN Real Estate article asserts that "Flipping houses is harder than it looks." Key quotes:
  • "There is a boatload of competition out there, which means that the obvious deals are gone in a heartbeat. The pros will tell you that they make their money on the front end by buying properties for at least 30% below market value. Finding those houses takes time and once you find them, you'll need to move fast. And no matter what the late-night gurus say about doing this with no money down, it hardly ever works that way. That means you'll need access to cash to do the deal, not to mention the rehab."
  • "The masses believe in the dream that's been promised to them, that they'll be making a fortune in the next six months . . . They don't have the basic know-how. If it were as easy as they make it seem, 286 million people would be flipping real estate."
  • "Right now, you have people jumping in on frenzy and it will bankrupt a lot of Joes and Susies who have no business doing this"
  • Access to large amounts of cash is the hardest part -- and one of the biggest misconceptions -- of the business. . . "If you don't close in 30 days, they keep your money . . . Then you need more cash to carry the house, the insurance, the utilities and the maintenance. You won't get a contractor to renovate a house for no money. People go to trade shows and buy these books and tapes on how to buy a house with no money down. I've never seen someone actually do that."
  • Another reason that access to cash is so important is that you'll probably need to hold on to the house for at least three months because of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) anti-flipping regulations. Houses sold less than 90 days after they were purchased aren't eligible for FHA mortgage insurance; those sold between 91 and 180 days are OK but require an additional, independent appraisal to make sure the sales price is justified.
    What that means for you as the owner is additional carrying costs. Every day you own the house costs you money in interest, utilities, taxes and insurance.

Another MSN Real Estate article that might interest house flippers and ordinary Americans alike: "Housing bubble: Top 30 cities to watch"

It lists 10 U.S. cities where housing appreciation is likely to grow, 10 cities where the housing market is topping off, and 10 cities where the market is likely to decline.

What was interesting to me about this article is not which cities were doing what, but rather how short-term the study was... in analyzing the growth record only the last few years were compared, and in projections, only the next 2-3 years were considered. This is understandable, given the variable nature of the real estate market.

What seems more concerning to me are economic trends like climbing rates of mortgage defaults. Do a Google News search for "foreclosure rates"... scary.

The Housing Bubble Blog is an interesting resource on this topic.

What about a little bit more long-term view? Follow my sidebar link to Harry S. Dent's site and spend some time getting a grasp on his "Key Concepts" section for a nice eye-opener. Keep in mind that he's accurately projected major economic trends for more than 15 years using the methods in his Key Concepts.

I'll try to summarize: Mr. Dent's economic theories rest on one major factor: Demographics. (Technology plays a significant role as well, which I'll come back to.)

In our time, the most significant demographic force is the Baby Boomer generation. Simply put, they have made up the largest economic force in American history, and have exploded every market that they have moved into.

But what goes up must come down. Another first in American history: The Boomers are the first generation who will not be followed by a rising generation larger than itself. Historically, Americans reach their peak spending years at age 46.5, in the height of real estate, automobile and education expenses for a family, as well as invesments towards retirement. This is the spending that drives the economy. (We've been seeing that boom since it started to manifest in the early to mid 1980's.)

But then comes the empty nest, and the clamping down of spending at the onset of retirement.

Let's do a little math. The baby boom started at the end of World War II in 1945 when people made babies in record numbers. Let's add 65 years to that to see when the largest economic force in American history clamps down on the purse strings: 1945 + 65 = 2010.

Four years from now.

Let's do some basic supply-and-demand economics: What happens to a market when there are more buyers than sellers? Price goes up. What happens to a market when there are more sellers than buyers? Price goes down.

Now what happens when the largest economic force in American history suddenly cease to be buyers in virtually every market (except maybe Healthcare) and in many cases (investments and non-retirement real estate) suddenly become sellers?

Depression. That's not my term, that's Harry Dent's projection: a "Deflationary Shakeout, a depression era like the 1930s that will begin between late 2008 and 2010. In the last 80-year cycle, this occurred from 1930 to 1942, says Dent:

"Stock prices fell dramatically, losing 90% of their value, from late 1929 and into 1932. Consumer prices fell equally dramatically from 1930 into 1933. Real estate values plummeted . . . During the Deflationary Shakeout, we see a disinvestment of production facilities and labor that were built up in the race for leadership during the Growth Boom. It is the worst time for employees and most investors." (emphasis mine)

The bright side? In the movie Cinderella Man, there's a scene where the main character, in the middle of the Great Depression, is going to beg for a chance to get money to feed his kids, when he passes a Rolls Royce limousine. It begs the question: when so many were scraping to simply eat, who could afford a Rolls Royce limousine? Those who invested in the Power Wave of their generation, before the Deflationary Shakeout kicked in.


"The Power Wave peaks when these innovators enter their 50s and 60s. As they
assume positions of corporate power en masse, they stimulate a revolution in business practices that truly exploits the advantages of the new technologies.
For example, what the assembly line production revolution was to the Henry Ford generation, the Internet marketing revolution is to the baby boom generation today
." (emphasis mine)

Rhetorical question: Gee, how ever would the average person be able to take advantage of this "Internet marketing revolution"?

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Get Rich Or Die Trying

A bit off-topic, but I found this Get Rich Or Die Trying blog to be interesting.

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