Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Raise My Taxes!" = "Raise My IQ!"

One of the leading news stories last week was depicting thousands of public union people in Illinois screaming "Raise My Taxes!" in hopes that they would continue to receive a paycheck. In today's day of governmental redistribution and the near outlawing of capitalism at breakneck speed, I feel it necessary to point out a few flaws of the event depicted above.

1. You are asking to take some of your money, send it to a bureaucracy, and hope to get a chunk of it back. They are calling this "Security." Would you encourage your 5 year old running a lemonade stand to take their proceeds and send it to the state who has 4-5 people paid to process the money, then hope to receive a few pennies back? I think not. Bureaucracies are expensive and inefficient by definition.

2. The protesters are handing all of their personal power over to someone else. Too many people forget that until about 100 years ago, nearly everyone in the United States was an entrepreneur of some kind. If you needed more money, you found an extra job, or helped out on someone's farm. I know several teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees who have lucrative second careers in real estate, network marketing, and other jobs to help augment their incomes. Find a hobby, a passion, or an interest, and discover how to turn that into a part time income.

3. Understand that we live in a society that (currently) allows us to freely pick our occupations. If you own a store that sells a product and 100% of your revenue comes from a certain type of client, what would happen if that client no longer had money to pay for your product? You would do something else.

When you remove flexibility from your lexicon of skills, your opportunities in life are terribly diminished.
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Flaming Christmas Tree

Last night my son, Alex and I were finishing up some yard work. We can burn yard debris in our community and had amassed quite a huge pile of stuff ranging from an old Christmas tree to dried grass that was raked up earlier in the day yesterday. When we burn, we make sure that the conditions are right. It can't be too winds (otherwise we would have a huge fire!), it can't be too wet, and I do my best to burn when the neighbors don't have their windows open. The conditions were perfect last night and we grabbed our lawn chairs, a couple of smoothies, and a glow in the dark football and headed out to the fire pit.

Once Alex touched the flame to the grass on the pile, it only took 20 seconds or so for the fire to start growing rapidly. The heat was so intense that we needed to sit about 15 feet back from the fire. Within 20 minutes, the entire pile which had started out standing about 30 inches tall was reduced to nearly nothing.

How does this apply to you and I?
1. If you have a stack of stuff that consistently gets shuffled from one location to another in your office or home, take care of it. Do it, delegate it, or dump it.
2. Sometimes things have a purpose at a specific time in our lives, then they are not needed anymore. The Christmas tree was beautiful in December, but it had outlived it's usefulness. What things do you need to purge?
3. Have some fun. Sometimes we focus too much on the "got to" areas of life, and need to look at them as "get to" opportunities. Just as we enjoyed the experience of being around the fire, you may be able to turn your project into a fun event.

Life leaves us lessons every day. What we do with them is up to us.
Always Better Your Best!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sell an Experience, Not a Product

I was captivated by an article that I read this morning featuring Ford CEO Alan Mulally. When Mulally took over the reigns at Ford, the company was at the edge of the cliff along with the other US automakers, peering down the well of bankruptcy. Unlike his competition who leaped into bed with the government (which is kind of like taking money from the mob), Mulally insisted on making Ford great again.

Let's take a look at a few things that allowed Ford's stock to rise 700% over the last couple of years:

1. Be cool. Many businesses sell products that they like, not necessarily what the customer likes. Ford recognized a need for technology and sleekness. By using sync technology, they effectively created a 4000 lb. smart phone and the unique experience that goes along with it.

The same can be said for colleges who listen to their customers (students). Many institutions seek to please their unions and faculty first, and then let the students know what they will be left with. Kaplan University has a great ad campaign where they reassure you that you can learn at your pace, using your preferred method of learning, and will even actively work at placing you in a job in your preferred field. Why? That is what their clients demanded!

2. Streamline. Ford had 97 models when Mulally took over. Now they have 20. Don't try to be a "Jack of all trades and a master of nothing." Work on doing something exceptionally well and you will stand out. When I started my speaking career, I also owned a vacuum cleaner business, a janitorial company, a health chef business, and was a speaker. I thought that people would be impressed at the diversity of my interests. Instead I found myself having a hard time focusing on 4 completely unrelated ventures. When I placed 100% of my focus on helping people via delivering meaningful messages of motivation, and business took off. What can you lose in your business?

3. Ditch the naysayers. The board at Ford was stuck in their ways when it came to integrating technology into their vehicles. You cannot ignore the importance of constantly refining and researching unique features and benefits to owning your product. They fired the board and replaced them with people who were a bit more open minded. Who do you bounce ideas off of when it comes to your business? Your parents, your cousin Eddie, and people who don't know a thing about your business?

I would encourage everyone to be a part of a mastermind group. This collaborative group allows you to share ideas and help each other out. You won't always like what your partners will say, but you will love the result!

As you begin your day today, ask yourself, "How can we create a great experience?"

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Spent $500 to Slap You In the Face!

I am fascinated by realtors. They are in a profession where nearly everyone should use their services, yet some people try to save a few dollars and do things on their own. My rule is: hire people who enjoy doing what you would have to really work at. The experience, connections, and efforts of many realtors allow you to leverage your time for more enjoyable things (like doing what you do best!)

Real estate professionals invest thousands in their licensing, continuing education, and marketing their name. With all of that being said, I just have to share an experience that I had this weekend. We are currently looking for investment property and noticed a home not far from ours that is owned by a very motivated seller. The home is listed with a very well known realtor who has been in the business for quite some time. I told Shelly that I would stop by the the open house last weekend and look at the property.

Upon entering the home, I noticed it was clean and well lit. The realtor walked toward me and instead of introducing herself and asking a bit about me, this person handed me a flyer of the MLS listing and told me that I could just look around. Whether or not the property would have fit into what we were looking for is irrelevant. The inconsiderate manner of the realtor was like a slap in the face. Keep in mind that I am not a thin skinned guy who needs a hug from someone when I enter an open house, but I was amazed at the waste of money and time that this individual exhibited. Most realtors will invest $500-$1000 (at the very least) in time, advertising, and opportunity cost to market a property. My hope for this person is that I happened to be the exception, not the rule in terms of her behavior.

When I speak to realtor groups and ask them how much an average client will make them over the course of their career, the answer is usually $40,000-$75,000. The top producing realtors who I know are people who are genuinely interested in people. That quick 10 second introduction, the follow up card, the smile can pay enormous dividends.

Here are a few tips from the top producers:
1. Introduce yourself to any prospect and find out a few things about them. The "small talk" that some people don't think they need to waste time doing are usually the subconscious factors that prospects evaluate when determining whom to do business with.
2. Be helpful, but invisible. This can apply to a salesperson or a restaurant server. I love frequenting restaurants where the server makes sure our drinks are full, plates are cleared, but they are not feeling the need to sit down next to us and show us pictures of their kids.
3. Follow up. Most people in sales are absolutely terrible at this! Drop a "nice to meet you" card in the mail. I also recommend sending a quick email thanking them for their time.

Hopefully these tips and this story will keep you practicing an "Always Better Your Best" business philosophy.
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.