Either Way, You Win


Live as if you’re going to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you’re going to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

I recently told a business associate that I tend to read a book a week.

To say that they were impressed is a bit of an understatement.  Shocked is more like it.  How on earth can anyone find time to read a book a week?

Well to be perfectly honest it’s not exactly a book a week.  More like 50 pages a day.  That works out to between 250 and 350 pages every seven days.  We aren’t talking about War & Peace here.  Or Adam Smith’s 900 page opus, The Wealth of Nations. I’ve found that the average hard cover non-fiction book on just about any topic runs between 200 and 400 pages.  50 pages a day therefore is about a book a week.

I have learned that in order to be successful in life and business you need to be a life long learner. The world is changing so rapidly that we need to be constantly learning new things to keep up.  My chosen field of work, the financial services industry, is no exception.  But when you strip it all down just about every business is a people business.  And I can’t seem to get away from spirituality either.

I read everything I can get my hands on that even remotely applies to these areas.  My bookshelf is lined with the latest and classic works of, Business Management, Personal Finance, Sales Theory, Marketing, Behavioral Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, Spirituality, and Theology.

Where do I find the time?  It’s not that hard to read 50 pages in a day.  Unless the typeset is super small it takes me a about an hour.  Turn off the TV for an hour and you’re there – it’s that easy.

An hour a day is all it takes to read a book a week and be a life long learner.

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was in the Life Insurance business, in the 1960s.  He was a top associate by the time he was 23 years old and in 1965 he founded Life Management Services and all but invented the Life Coaching industry.  Millions of people have read his books and attended his seminars on navigating life’s most challenging situations.  Most people know him for his famous inspirational quote:

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

Nothing has a bigger impact on your life than what you learn from books and people.  That’s why I really like that quote from Gandhi as well.  If I continue learning at the pace of a book a week, and I live forever, I will eventually know everything there is to know.

That’s my plan.

But the first half of the Gandhi quote is important as well.  It’s important to live for today, don’t put things off, enjoy each moment as it comes and be content in whatever your circumstance.  Tomorrow might not come so live for today but if you do wake up in the morning, keep learning and make every day better than the last.  You can’t go wrong.

Live today or die tomorrow – either way you win!

How do you live for today and learn for tomorrow?  Tell me in the comments below.

Stop Sharing My Videos! – No really stop it…


My second video in the series running up to the release of the rebooted 6 Steps to Financial Freedom Coaching Program is out.

 

I’m following Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula whereby marketers are told to release a series of “teasers” ahead of the official launch of a new product. So far I’ve released two videos in as many weeks. Each time I’ve sent announcements to an email list of about 140 subscribers, posted on twitter to my 3000 plus followers, linked to them on facebook, linkedin and pinterest for about 500 more people and of course blogged about them here.

As a result, according to YouTube I have received a grand total of 0 – count them ZERO views!

(If you go now and look at them the count is actually about 20 views between the two of them but all of those are just me going there to grab the link so that I can tweet it, post it or embed it in emails.)

What gives?

I can understand if you don’t like my videos, or they don’t resonate with where you’re at right now but to have no views at all, after posting to almost 4000 followers across all of my social media accounts? That makes no sense to me.

I’m following all the rules about Social Media Marketing.

  • I’m posting regularly
  • I’m using hashtags
  • And I’m following up on all my retweets and favorites

Actually that last one is the most mind-boggling of all. So far I’ve received about 20 favorites and retweets from people who haven’t even watched the videos themselves! What’s up with that? I even had one guy forward it to a friend with a comment “you should watch this”, how could he know?

There is something very wrong with the way we engage with new products on-line.

Social Media is a relatively new phenomenon when it comes to product marketing. We’ve been taught that the key to a good marketing campaign is the social share, the more people share what you are posting the better. I’m getting shares but the sad fact is sharing is not engagement. In order to sell a product you need people to engage with it, not just say, “hey this looks cool, check it out.”

What’s worse in my case at least, people are saying “check this out” without having checked it out for themselves! How can you endorse something if you haven’t used it? Not only is it killing your credibility it’s damaging my brand in the process!

So, I never thought I’d have to say this but: please stop sharing my videos, unless you’ve actually watched them.

The third and final video in the series will be posted next week. You can watch both of the current ones here – https://youtu.be/olaDR2KhPOE and here – https://youtu.be/FJ8rWYxLTGw

Please watch, then comment, then share if you are so inclined.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and our newly re-launched 6 Steps to Financial Freedom Coaching Program write to themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Fair Weather Friends


steiner

Brandon Steiner is a sports marketing executive and founder of the New York City based Steiner Sports Marketing. Steiner’s work pairs athletes with businesses in an effort to increase profile, awareness and ultimately sales for the business in question. Opening a car dealership in upstate New York? Why not call Steiner and see which of the New York Yankees can make an appearance?

Steiner also runs one of the largest sports memorabilia sites on the web, and a number or retail outlets around New York City, selling authentic signed merchandise from all of the major sports franchises in the North Eastern United States. In 2009 Steiner entered into an agreement with the New York Yankees to sell off pieces of the original Yankee Stadium through an on-line promotion and auction.

Brandon Steiner publishes a daily blog on business leadership and marketing. Today’s installment was particularly compelling to me because of some things that have been happening in my personal life. You can read Brandon’s blog here and if you are a fan of innovative business strategies, with a sports related theme and New Yorker’s flair, take a minute to subscribe, you won’t regret it.

Throughout our lives we develop two types of friendships. There are the friendships we develop because of our influence these are the people we attract because we influence them in some way. They want to be in our shadow, gain from our wisdom and grow in their own walk toward personal fulfillment. When we can no longer provide that for them these people will slowly slip away. Influence seekers will move in and out of our lives as seasons change. Some people disparage this type of fair weather friend as somehow lacking in character and only being interested in what’s in the friendship for them. Personally I think that assessment is a bit unfair. We all do it, some of us are just better at it than others so that it doesn’t seem like we are only there to take what we can from the friendship and move on. But make no mistake if we’re being honest we all have people in our lives who are only there for what they can offer us.

friend fingers

The second type of friendships are the people who become more like family. These are the people who stay in our lives even when we can offer them nothing in return. Although almost all friendships start out as the first type, but eventually influence gives way to mutual support. The lines get blurred and it becomes difficult to see who is influencing and supporting whom. I know a lot of people who are stuck in type one friendships, constantly giving of themselves and never getting anything back. They’ve all read Dale Carnegie and think that the best way to “make friends and influence people” is to give, give, give but this does not make for lasting friendship. Zig Ziglar said that the best way to get what you want is to help enough other people get what they want, and that works on type one friendships just fine but the key to type two friendships is vulnerability.

Our families know everything about us. Influence and support is shared in a way that goes beyond mere one way and two way communication. Communication in a health family is holistic. When our friendships reach a level of communication and shared support that resembles this holistic form of community something special happens. We move from being friends that are concerned about the weather and become something more, something beautiful. We become family but not quite, it’s if we become one complete whole. We become one body.

The implications of body imagery as it pertains to friendship and community are many and profound.  Shared influence and shared support run deep into the core of our being. Could that have been what the apostle Paul was talking about when he likened the church to The Body of Christ?

Body imagery in the church usually tends toward discussions of specific roles working together to form a unified whole but could it be more than that? Could it be a description community on a whole new plain of existence, so deeply connected that it is difficult to see where one person’s influence and support ends and another begins?

Food for thought.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.[1 Corinthians 12:12-14]

 

Attention Fellow Bloggers – You’re Doing it Wrong!


I read a lot of blogs. I follow even more people on Social Media. I am very active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I spend an average of 2 hours a day on-line, not including e-mail and the cloud based applications I am required to use for my day job.

In short, I spend a lot of time looking at what people are doing and how they are using the internet. Quite honestly I think what a lot of my fellow authors and “social sellers” are doing is about to blow up in their face because they’re doing it wrong and it’s starting to piss me off.

look at me

The internet and social media has done a lot to democratize business. Today anyone with an idea and some time can open an on-line store and be in business for free in a matter of hours. My own on-line presence didn’t cost me a dime. After a few months I did decide I needed my own domain name so I pay a few bucks a year for that privilege but really in the grand scheme of things I haven’t paid anything to be on-line. I have 4 active social media feeds, a word press site and an e-commerce page powered by PayPal to sell my books.

All FREE.

And you can do it too.

But here’s the catch. The internet is set up to provide free access to information for anyone willing to take the time to look and learn. The minute you start trying to profit from you presence online you need to be aware of one key thing. Unless you are willing to invest in a physical product, that will carry some production and shipping costs, there is likely someone, somewhere online who is willing to give away what you are trying to sell. So stop hiding your “unique” information based product behind a pay wall. We see what you’re doing and we don’t appreciate it, we’ll just keep looking for a free version somewhere else, thank you very much.

E-books, On-line video courses (especially the ones about how to make more money on-line), live chats with the author etc. Snake oil, every last one of them!

The worst are the bloggers who write about how to become a better blogger. They are constantly trying to sell courses that amount to nothing more than teasers on how to buy more courses. You know what I’m talking about.

Watch this video (only $5.00, pay here), the video says, come to an evening seminar (only $500, pay here), the seminar says come to our weekend course (only $1500, plus airfare, meals and accommodation, pay here). And what do you learn after dropping all those thousands of dollars? The same thing you could have learned at your local bookstore for about $25.00. Or free at the library.

So here’s my advice for how to stop these on-line charlatans:

Number 1 – If after you add someone to your twitter feed the first thing they do is send you a note about how to buy something, especially more followers, un-follow them immediately. They probably aren’t even a real person.

Number 2 – If you go to their blog and they have a pop up about a product behind a pay wall, stop, don’t read any further. Free e-books are okay but pop up adds in general are annoying. We’ll get to your product page eventually if you show us the value of your offering elsewhere. But don’t rush us, that’s just rude.

Number 3 – If they start sending you unsolicited emails about products behind pay walls, stop, delete them immediately and subscribe. This is the equivalent of telemarketers calling you at dinner or sales people following you around the store. Just stop it!

Number 4 – If every post on their blog is really an advertisement for a product behind a pay wall, a video course or seminar, stop, delete them immediately. This is not a blog; this is a store and probably a scammy one at that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some legitimate marketers and products on line. Almost every serious retailer and author has a web page where they sell their products and services. That’s not the problem. The problem is when you assault your audience with advertising from the start and never let up. It’s like a used car salesman who follows you around the lot chatting in your ear the whole time. This tactic went out with plaid sport coats. It’s not the 1970s anymore we’ll buy when we’re good and ready.

Most people on-line are just looking for information and a little advice, if they want to pay for something they are no different than any other customer. They want value and most of them can spot a scam a mile away.

So give the people what they want. Give them information and show them were they might be able to make a purchase if they want to and then shut the hell up. Otherwise people will leave your store in disgust never to return.

Let’s be Friends…


Every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t respond in kind. So what? They probably weren’t worth knowing in the first place. – Keith Ferrazzi; Never eat alone

friend fingers

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you know they are holding something back? Like they are not telling you everything they know about a given situation or giving you all the information you need in order to make an informed decision yourself?

How does that make you feel? Lied to, disrespected, belittled, betrayed? I know for me those are some of the emotions I feel when it happens to me.

I recently had the opportunity to read through Keith Ferrazzi’s 2005 book on networking, “Never Eat Alone; And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.” While I think the title is a bit misleading since there is very little reference to actually dining with people and some of the information was a bit dated because it was published just before the Social Media boom, the book still contained a few nuggets of truth that transcend technology and social evolution.

At the end of the day; “folks is just folks” as Harper Lee said in To Kill a Mockingbird and the best way to get to know people is to be authentic about who you are yourself.

I admit I struggle with this at times. I bet we all do.

We live in a world of Political Correctness. We are constantly checking our opinions, convictions, emotions and values at the door so as not to offend anyone or damage relationships. But what kind of relationships are we building if we intentionally leave a part of ourselves out of the equation?

Just about every marketing, networking and sales book or blog I have read in recent years has been saying essentially the same thing. The days of transactional selling are over. We live in a highly networked and connected world. We started to figure this out even before Facebook and Twitter as evidenced by the publication date of Never Eat Alone. Nowadays it’s the relationships we have that lead to lifelong communities of colleagues, customers, friends and mentors.

And how do you build a lifelong relationship with someone?

It’s certainly not by starting out being inauthentic. Sure you don’t have to reveal everything about yourself on the first date so to speak. But you shouldn’t actively conceal things either. That’s just rude.

The most successful marketers in today’s world are the people who recognize that your best advertising is a strong network and community of colleagues, friends and mentors. These are the people who will be willing to take your call, help you out and forward you business. Show me a highly networked individual and I will show you someone who is successful in whatever they set their mind to. But show me a disingenuous glad handing salesperson who’s only looking for the next big score and I will show you someone who may achieve some early monetary success but will ultimately fail to build a long term sustainable business.

So let’s be honest, be ourselves and be friends. We can talk about doing business together later.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project or just to reach out and be our friend write to; themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Trust and Charity


The trust and patience of consumers is a garden to be tended not a forest to be clear cut. [Bruce Philp; Canadian Business, December 2014]

I hate door to door marketers. I hate them so much that if the Queen of England herself were to knock on my door unexpectedly I would simply ignore her. My home is my sanctuary and any attempt to breach its fortifications unannounced will be defended against in the most passive-aggressive manner possible. I have been known to walk past the window, make eye contact with a door to door marketer and keep going without so much as a nod. The message I’m sending should be loud and clear; I don’t know you, you are not welcome here, go away!

Or as my friend’s “welcome” mat says;

x2_8a370fd

I reserve my worst stink-eye for the utility companies that want me to sign up for flat rate natural gas, I once made the mistake of allowing one into my home and became so discussed with his aggressive tactics that I had to literally throw him out. But charities aren’t much better and over the last few years they’ve been getting worse.

Don’t get me wrong, I like charity. I am a huge proponent of philanthropy both for myself and for my clients. There is no better use of excess wealth than to give it away to a worthy cause. You can’t take it with you and if you don’t make provision for it while you are living the government is going to decide for you what is done with your money so you may as well give it to a worthy cause while you can. But recent statistics have shown that even with the economy in recovery mode Canadians charitable giving is down.  Why? I think it has a lot to do with the fact that most charities have begun to break the rules of etiquette and head down a slippery slope toward harassment.

It’s not just the door to door marketers who are to blame. When I worked in Toronto I would have to walk through a busy shopping district on my way to and from the train station every day. This time of year there were days when it felt like I was literally running the gamut in an attempt to avoid being harassed by aggressive clip board wielding students attempting to get me to sponsor a child in the developing world or subscribe to an over-priced magazine about global warming.

Bruce Philp, a brand strategy consultant and columnist for Canadian Business Magazine recently stated that it is these tactics that are training us that compassion is the road to marketing hell and I tend to agree. Last year I contributed (for me) a significant amount of money to a few local charities. As a result of my philanthropy my contact information was sold to what seems like every other charity in the country. I have received more appeals for help than I thought possible, each with their own heart wrenching story of need accompanied in most cases by a package full of greeting cards, address labels and in a few cases a cheap pen. One even sends me a nickel every few months with a cheeky appeal along the lines of “I we had a nickel…” Here’s a thought – if you had kept this one you wouldn’t need me to send you another one!

I realize I’m starting to rant here and I don’t want to do that so here’s the point. As I stated above I like charity, I even consider myself somewhat of an amateur philanthropist. But I am not going to change my pattern of giving because you sent me a cheap pen with which to write a cheque. I give to causes that I know, understand, agree with and can confidently say are doing good work. No cheap pen, address label or aggressive student on my doorstep is going to change that. In fact if an organization that I currently support were to change their tactics and start to pressure me into greater giving in this way they would be more likely to lose my support altogether than gain more.

With charitable giving on a downward trend I am sure I am not alone in this sentiment and the marketing departments at these charities would to well to recognize what they are actually doing. As Philp says “The job of marketing isn’t just to make this year’s numbers but to ensure charities can come back next year and the year after that.”

Charitable giving is a deeply personal and relational activity. Don’t treat your donors like a transactional customer, treat us like partners for the cause and never, EVER, sell our contact information to the highest bidder. Merry Christmas and please give to those in need.

For more on The Meekonomics Project philanthropic giving programs and consulting work for non-profits and charities write to themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Bull’s-eye!


Or Maybe Not… (A Conversation about Sin, Politics, and Financial Coaching)

bullseye

 

This past week I started a new promotional campaign for my Financial Coaching service and the books I’ve written on the subject. Check out the newly updated products page!

I don’t have a marketing budget so everything I am doing is focussed on-line and I am meeting with certain influencers who can help me get in front of the right target market. The financial service industry calls these people Centers of Influence. They are not the people who are the ultimate target market for the services I provide, but they know who they are and have influence within that community.

My first meeting was with a Christian business leader that I have known for about 3 years. I told him on the phone that I had written a book on a Christian approach to economics and that I was starting a financial coaching practice. Before I could even ask if he would be willing to sit down with me he blurted out, “Awesome, when can you come by?”

So just before lunch on Thursday morning we sat down in the board room of his company. I proceeded to walk him through the main points of “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy” and the “6 Steps to Financial Freedom” Coaching Program.

He was really great. He didn’t interrupt more than a couple of times, just to get a bit of clarification and make sure he understood what I was saying. That was good because this being the first time I had really shown my ideas to anyone I needed to get the kinks out of my presentation. I fumbled a bit, missed a few points and hand to back-track but he got it, and was very gracious.

Then at the end he asked a question, that I am sure he had been holding back since I had called him the week before. He said, “I’ve been trying to figure out where you stand politically, you haven’t answered that for me.”

Politics are a hot button issue within the Christian community. A lot of people will measure how holy you are by where you stand on certain issues and how you vote in general elections. I’ve even heard it said that there is no such thing as a “liberal” Christian. Non-sense! But that’s a discussion for another day…

I think my response surprised him a bit. I said “Good, because this isn’t really a question of politics and I don’t want to be pigeon holed as either too conservative or too liberal.”

The point here isn’t where you stand on a political spectrum. The point is whether or not you understand mathematics well enough to keep your bills paid. And from a Christian perspective, whether or not your understand God well enough to know that, this side of heaven, to a certain degree we are all heretics.

Here’s an excerpt from “Meekonomics” that sums up what I’m trying to say;

Dr. Greg Boyd who we first met in the last chapter, once put it this way.

Right Doctrine – Love = Worthless Noise

This point is this; you can have right doctrine by living solely out of a ruler mentality or solely out of the caretaker mentality. The endless debate we face as Christians today between the right wing and the left wing believers is, at the end of the day a debate between two groups that truly and honestly think that they have a clear understanding of what God wants and why we were created.

And they are both equally right and equally wrong at the same time!

The reason the debate exists is not because one side is right and the other side is delusional. The debate exists, and will continue to exist in endless perpetuity because both sides lack enough of a love mentality to be able to find balance between the two. This isn’t a debate between right and wrong. It’s not even a debate between good and better. It is a debate between sin and other sin.

When we view sin as anything short of the perfection God envisioned then both sides are sinners in equal measure.   The best definition I’ve ever heard of sin is simply to miss the mark. If the bull’s-eye is defined by the love mentality then any straying toward either the ruler mentality or the caretaker mentality is sin, plain and simple and any debate that does not take into account the love mentality is as Dr. Boyd so aptly put it “worthless noise.”

Everything, and I mean everything we do as Christ-followers, from the way we evangelize new believers and disciple each other, to the way we go about the mundane necessities of life, like going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice and paying the bills, must be done through the lens of God centered love for our neighbours.

That’s the bull’s-eye! Anything less is sin.

Does that make me a conservative or a liberal? I don’t know, and quite frankly I don’t care.

I’m a Christ-follower who loves his fellow man so much I want to help everyone I can live their best life. One way I know how to do that is to teach you what I know about finances and help you “inherit the earth”.  That’s what The Meekonomics Project is all about.

Is it perfect? No!

Does it line up with conservative or liberal theology? Who cares!?

At the end of the day it’s just math.

For more information on my Financial Coaching service visit the products page or write to: themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

And stay tuned for an announcement regarding the re-launch of “Meekonomics; How To Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy” coming soon to a book store near you.