Friday, November 28, 2008

Business Strategy, A Square Tire

Monday, I introduced this series of articles in which I was to come up square tire on the floor by brochure standwith a way to get out of debt fast, show you how to fix your personal finances, and show you how to succeed in business. My first article was “Get out of debt fast, a parent’s rant”. On the second article, “Self Responsibility, let’s stop the mooching” I probably touched some reader’s nerves, since I did not pulled too many punches. I also promised you that I was going to show you a square tire, and here is the picture. I found that tire in a back alley shop in Kuwait Kuwait CityCity (and yes, that is in Kuwait). Along the way, I am supposed to make these series of articles so interesting, that you will want nothing more than to bookmark my blog, and recommend it to your friends. So, let’s see…

What can you do with a square tire? Other that using it as a fairly big paperweight, or exhibit it as a curiosity, it is worthless. Now, imagine how many people would buy a square tire. A few would, since you can sell almost anything to most people. Soon, however, the novelty would wear out, and you will no longer be able to sell square tires. What is the problem with that business model or business strategy? You spend money buying raw materials, pay employees, pay benefits for your employees, and produce something of little value. As time goes by, revenue diminishes, raw materials probably increase in value, fix expenses remain there, and suddenly, you realize that you are on the road to bankruptcy.

What am I trying to say here? I will probably hurt some sensibilities yet again, and that is ok by me if I can get you to think outside the box. Someone once said that the only people that like changes are “babies with wet diapers”. So, here it goes:

First thing first: Lets check out the reason the Economy of the United States tanked, and see if we can learn something from it.

Early in the twentieth century, the American Dollar was king, and thegold bars reason for it was that the Dollar was backed by gold. Money being printed, actually had an intrinsic value, since it was to be readily converted to gold. Later on, someone came up with the great idea that the United States, the great industrial Nation that introduced the so many advancements to the world, including the assembly line, could still guarantee the dollar, and the currencies of the world were to be measured against the U.S. Dollar, which was supposed to be converted to gold. As you can see, there is really no big problem, since we still had gold to back our monetary system. This was an international compact called Bretton Woods Agreement.

Somewhere along the way, the United States continue to prosper, sure, we had our rough patches. Who can forget the Great Depression in the late twenties and thirties caused by protectionist laws, and lost confidence in the economic future of our Nation. With an average jobless rate of 25% and most able to workers having their hours cut, in addition, we had a President that ruled for four terms FDRhorse (FDR) and yes, I am using what I believe is the right term, since he ruled for four terms. Thanks God the Constitution was amended to prevent further Presidents from Governing more than two terms.
Unemployment during the Carter years, was over 10%. And interest rates were over 20%. Just imagine if you had an Adjusted Rate Mortgage in those years. Compare that to a more or less 6% unemployment rate today, our economy is in bad shape, but it is still better than on the Carter years. The claim that we are in a depression equal to the Great Depression, is a severe exaggeration. Are we going to get there? Who knows. Also, Iceland, Russia, Venezuela, and many other Nations are just in as bad a position as we are.

But, I see some alarming trends. An out of control government is Depression in the 30s one, the mistake that we as a Nation made to go from a production Nation to a purely consumerist society, is another.

Now, I am not an economist, and even though I have tortured myself with marketing, macroeconomics, microeconomics, managerial accounting, and a few more of those… I have over 195 college credit hours, I do not claim to be an expert. However, I have made plenty of economic mistakes, and I have seeing first hand how not to run a business.

Let me ask you a simple question… if you have no assets, and your debt is twice as much as what you make, can you survive? In your private business, if your debt is twice as much of your assets, you are not producing anything of great value, will you be able to get a loan? I do not think so.

Right now, according to the to The Bureau of Economic Analysis (, the Gross Domestic Product for 2007 in the United States was about $3.4 Trillions. The latest estimates of the financial bailout of the United States is in the hammer small $7 Trillion Dollars. You know as much as I do that when the Government gives you cost estimates, they are usually wrong; these are the people that paid about $700 for a hammer, for goodness sake, and the same people who cannot run their own Cafeteria without tax payers subsidies.

What does that tell you? Our primary lender has several Trillion Dollars of our debt in their possession, and if they decide to cash in, how are we going to pay that debt?

What does the United States produce? Other than debt? Our auto industry is destined to fail. Their business model does not work, remember the square tire? They cannot compete with the foreign auto industry, and if they get a bail out, we are only prolonging the patient’s death. The auto industry can be revived but it needs to be allowed to go bankrupt, so their debt, and contracts can be renegotiated, their business model can be streamlined, and it can go back to be a world class industry. Remember the square tire? If I give you more money to continue producing square tires, I am wasting my money, and eventually, you will want to get more money from me, since I just slowed down the rate of which you go bankrupt. Next time, I will have no more money, because I will be the bankrupted one.

I declared bankruptcy once, it was not easy. But I can say that I learned my lesson, how about the big executives of the many businesses that are too big to fail, have they truly learned from their mistakes? Our

Fannie Maepoliticians are still receiving counsel from the likes of failed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who cooked the books in order to receive bigger bonuses, one of such received over $90 million dollars in salary. The ones who are screaming the loudest in Congress are the ones who were saying that there was no problem in the United States Housing Industry. The politicians come up with a new bailout scam almost every other day, and use the money for whatever else, other than what they say it is.

The United States deficit is in the Trillions of Dollars, and Government has not specified one government program that they are going to cut, or reduce. They keep increasing the size of Government, and by the looks of it, nobody has a clue of how to fix the problem.

When a Nation stops producing, taxes their businesses, and overtaxes the higher earners, it slows down the economy, since it is those people and businesses that create jobs, thus stimulating the economy (Economics 101). The top 10% of earners in the United States pay he highest capital gains taxes in the Planet (, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris).

So, the bottom line:

1. When you get advice from someone, don’t imitate Congress, do your research and make sure that you understand what you are getting yourself into.

2. Fire those who are not producing, lie to you (like politicians do), and if they have no clue what they are doing, and cannot be trained, fire them also.

3. When your operating expenses are close to matching your own revenue, it is time to streamline your operation, reduce personnel, and decide whether is time to close shop or start a new paradigm.

4. Do not get so in debt, that you cannot fulfill your obligations.

Rodin's Thinker 5. And last, but not least, learn to “Fail Forward Fast”… If your project is not working, scrap it, and do something different. Make sure that you do your homework.

6. Make sure that you are producing something of real value for your customers.

This is just common sense, if what you are doing is not working, what makes you believe that it will work?

Learn to be flexible, and be smart about it.

I am not an economist, but, like someone likes to say, “I am a thinker”. Follow your gut instinct, take action, and use common sense.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. I encourage you to post your best business strategies; and, since I am not a historian, you are welcome to expand in the history of the topics expressed here.

Let me know what topics you would like me to cover or rant about. Let’s make this blog your blog.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Self responsibility, let’s stop the mooching

In my previous post, I introduced the topic of getting out of debt, and pointed out the need of our society to change the focus, from one of entitlement, to one of diligence and self reliance. These two characteristics, together with the one that I will introduce in this post, are the basis of entrepreneurship. Some might believe that this topics have nothing to do with social media marketing, or internet marketing, or business strategy, or SEO, but as Mr. Christensen commented earlier, these are the basis that need to be laid if we want our society to thrive once more.

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. The first step to deal with addictions (alcoholism, drugs, sex, etc.) is to recognize that you have a problem. It took a long time for me to identify my shortcomings, because in my eyes, I couldn’t do anything wrong. It is human nature, and thanks in part to the mental health community (it is your parents fault, or someone else other than you) and the “what’s in it for me” generation, it is the other guy’s fault that I am broke, and cannot succeed. “It’s the man’s fault for keeping me down.” Unless you live under a dictatorship, there is usually a choice.

Quoting a hated radio talk show host: “It makes blood shoot out of broken TV my eyes” when I hear the excuses that people use to justify their addictions, their marriage failures, their lack of ambition, their acceptance with the status quo. I wanted to throw a brick at my radio when the radio played a clip of a sobbing woman saying that, and I quote: “I don’t have to worry about my mortgage, or about putting gas on my car now, because…” a particular candidate for President won.

You might hate my guts for what I am about to say, if I make you think, it is worthy.

Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are either en entrepreneur, a thinking person, someone looking for a way out of poverty, or have within you the spark of entrepreneurship.

no excuses, accept self responsibility The First Step on the Road to Success, as an entrepreneur, or as a person, is Self Responsibility.

Unless you were born a paraplegic, or with any particular condition that prevents you from reasoning and working, have been slaved, are held against your will or are a child, you are where you put yourself. Think about it:

1. If you do not have a High School diploma, it is because you chose to drop out, or refused to study. We have free schools in this Nation.

If you say that the schools are not adequate, or that the school system does not have enough money, I beg to differ. Throwing more money to the school system is not going to work. It has not worked, Drunk Not an Alcoholic and will not work. You, as an individual need to decide to make good use of the education that is freely provided to you. My parents did not know how to read or write, my father was an alcoholic, who worked in construction in Puerto Rico, and other than food and basic clothing, everything else that he earned went to alcohol. We never had a vacation, and I cannot remember going to the movies when I was growing up. I learned to do research by myself, and maintained good grades.

Consider that some of today’s greatest minds in the Nation, do not hold a college degree and they earn millions every year. Our movie stars do not much else than throw their lives away in excess, for the most part have no talent, or useful skills, nor, in my opinion, their reasoning process is anything to write home about.

2. If you have bills to pay, but have money for alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes, you really have no excuse for those bills. You chose to use cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol; and can choose not to use them.

Find a Job 3. If you do not have a job because you do not want to work at Burger King, or any other job because is too low for you, you need to quit the whining, and get to work. Two part time jobs are better than no work, and they are hiring.

Do some introspection. If you are hanging out with people whose idea of a good time is getting drunk or high, or spend the day playing video games, HERE IS A NEWSFLASH:

“It is not the man who is keeping you down, is you and your so called friends.” Decide to change, and improve yourself. Others have done it, you can too.

Nobody will pay your the rent for you, nor should they. That is your Chris Gardner responsibility. Even if you are in dire need, you can lift yourself by the bootstraps. Read the Story of Christopher Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness, he was homeless, and with a son, and became a millionaire.

Again, the key is self responsibility.

Here is the key to stabilize your financial situation (you are going to hate my guts even more, but again, I want to make you think).

Pyschoactive Drugs1. Learn to live below your limits. Eliminate the Starbucks, or the soda (water is better for you anyway). Eliminate the movies, and cable; they only teach you to blame someone else. Eliminate candy and chips. Learn to eat healthy. You will loose weight this way, and improve your health. Eliminate cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

2. If this is still not enough, get a part time job. If you have teen age kids, have them get a job. If they want to go to the movies, they can pay for them themselves. If they want a cell phone, they can pay for it themselves also. Cell phones, movies, bowling, hanging out, are not human rights.

3. If you have able bodies living of you, put them to work. Our society has degenerated into a parasitic society, where young people believe that they can live of their parents until their parents die. That is not fair to their parents. If they are living at home, they need to get in gear, and at least pay rent, groceries, and not take one penny of their parents or grand parents. They should also be looking for a pace of their own. No job? Again, Burger King is hiring.

4. With all your savings, pay all your debt. If you are smart, you can do it in just about three years; with the exception of probably your car and mortgage.

5. Contrary to what the politicians want you to believe, owning a house is not a human right. There is nothing wrong with renting until you pay your bills and can afford a house.

pay bills 6. Learn to buy because you really need it to survive, and not because is a nice to have.

7. Become an entrepreneur.

Do this, and you will be debt free, and will be a lot happier. Stress tends to disappear when you know that you have a steady flow of income, the kids have moved away from home, and are not leeching their way through life, and you are living within your means.

There are many ways to pay your debts in about a fourth of what they would usually take. It just requires for you to:

1. Recognize that you are responsible for your situation.

2 Recognize that you can do something about it.

3. And like Nike: “Just Do It”.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Get out of debt now, a parent’s rant

Our society is in crisis, our economy is quickly going down the drain, Turn off the darn cell phoneand heads of households are asking for help. How can I get out of debt now; how can I make money now; as an entrepreneur, how can I succeed?

I saw my wife have “a talk” with one of our kids, and made me proud of her. We try to watch our spending, we are not perfect, but we are as responsible as we can. There was $45 extra on the cell phone family plan. Quickly, my wife found out where the glitch was, one of our kids went 17 minutes above what we allocated to him, and the other went over a hundred minutes above. Normally, they are pretty good about staying within their limits, and this is the first time in almost a year that we had that situation. So the conversation went something like this:

Momma: “Jerry (name changed to protect the not so innocent), you went over your minutes this month…”

Jerry: “My bad…”

Momma: “Yes it is. I will collect some money for you to help pay for the bill, and you will stay within the limits.”

spoiled bratJerry: “We need more minutes, 200 minutes is not enough, I call my   girlfriend during my break at work…”

Momma: “Well, it sucks to be you, I cannot afford a bigger plan, we have bills to pay. You will reduce your minutes use spending and you will help pay this bill.”

The extra $45 dollars is not going to kill us, but we do work hard for the money we make. We jumped on our kids when  we overheard them talking about how they threw away nickels and pennies. Our society is so used to abundance, and wasting that they have no concept of the real cost of life.

All of Hollywood’s self and immediate gratification marketed to our youth have made our Nation soft, wimpy, …

“If my parents don’t get me a Jaguar for my sixteenth birthday, I will harm myself…” was the comment of a young bimbo in a reality show. “If my boyfriend wants me to look sexy at the dance, he will have to buy me the gown…” was the conversation I overheard at the mall. This last one was a girl that could not be more than 12 years old. What in the world a 12 year old needs to be sexy for? Check point in Iraq

I spent a year in Iraq, and was fortunate to live in an 8 feet by 20  feet metal container. I had a room mate, and for two months we had three people living there. I say that I was fortunate, because some of my friends used to live in buildings where the windows and part of the walls and the roof had been blown to smithereens by bombs; and you have to see the sandstorms that we get over there.

We worked hard to help the people of Iraq to obtain potable water, to rebuild their schools, to convince them to allow their daughters and wives to attend school. We help provide medicines, and medical care. We provided security so the husbands could open their markets and work. Most of them are happy to be able to work in order to bring food to their table. Life can be rough over there.

In other places in the world, you are lucky if you get one meal per day, and some families go without food for days at a time. I remember help feeding the betrothed right after Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990, in the Middle East.

 workers at rice patty in KoreaI also remember seeing “adashi” (hangul for man) leave the frail shack at about 4:30 a.m. for the rice paddies, and work well into sunset so he could feed his family.

So, when I see our kids wasting money, and behaving like the world owes them a living, or someone wants to take the money away from those who work hard to earn it, I grow increasingly frustrated.

I make a decent leaving, and I am grateful to God for it, I dedicate time to volunteer work, and donate money to charity, because I know that there are others out there that are not as fortunate as I am. My bedroom bathroom is bigger and a lot more comfortable than the place where my buddies and me used to live in Iraq.

These life experiences make me what I consider a better human being, and I try to pass the experience along to my children and to all who would listen. We work hard…

The economy in the world is in shambles. The Russian Government has threatened their media (the press) in such a way that hey will not report their economical crisis, and how their banking industry is no better than ours here in the good old’ U.S.A.

Still, we have a lot to be grateful for. You don’t believe me? Answer this then: do you have a roof over your head? If you have being Sodier helps fix a school in Iraq.foreclosed on, can you rent a place to live? If you go to the emergency room, do you get emergency care? How many television sets are in your house? Do you get cable or satellite TV? Do your kids have cell phones? Do they have a school to go to? Do you get at least one hot meal per day? Do you have easy access to potable water? Do you have easy access to a washing machine (a Laundromat counts for this one)? If you can say yes to most of these questions, you are Blessed.

I know that this article has nothing to do with Social Media Marketing Strategies, nor with expert Search Engine Optimization, or with Social Networking, or getting out of debt now, nor with making money now. My next two articles this week, will deal with the economic crisis. I might make a few of you mad at me. That is fine, as long as I make you think. My next article will deal with family budgeting, getting out of debt, and economic success; while the last of this series, will deal with business economics and the concept of “Failing Forward Fast” and I will show you a “square car tire“.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recession proof yourself Now

I think that it was Abraham Lincoln who said that if you had an hour to chop down a tree, you should spend the first 45 minutes of your hour, sharpening your axe.

I usually am the opinionated kind, and like to do my own writing, but yesterday, I found an article on a blog that impressed me. The author was trying to convey his or her thoughts about how to get ready for the upcoming recession, and use the acronym G. U. T. to convey the message. Grow your Network, Uncomfortable, and Tout your success.

I can relate to the post, because those three tips are things that you should do anyway on a regular basis if you want to remain competitive. Let me explain:

As a Soldier, I was brought up to understand that, and now I quote from one of my favorite authors Richard Marcinko, “the more you bleed in training, the less you bleed in combat”. Everything that we do as Soldiers is training. When we take care of our families, is in preparation for combat, for when we are not there and they have to fend for themselves, when we get up at 4:00 a.m. and run like maniacs through the neighborhood, is training, when we go to formal schools is training, when we go “camping” is training… Because when the time comes and we are called to go to combat, there is no time to get ready, it is too late to train or to sharpen the axe.

As entrepreneurs, or bloggers, or whatever we call ourselves, is easy to forget that we are making money now, but, what about tomorrow?

Growing up in Puerto Rico, one of the major companies in the region used to be the Commonwealth Oil Refining Company (CORCO). We used to hate the stench around it, but we also were amazed to see the ritzy neighborhoods in the nearby towns. There were no mansions, but the houses looked big and comfortable, and the neighborhoods where pristine. One day, the news hit the island like a ton of bricks, CORCO was closing its doors. A lot of people that worked there, suddenly found themselves with no job. People that were just a few years away from retirement, suddenly found themselves thinking about how they were going to be able to retire, when the source of their retirement income had vanished. It was sad. Decades later, the area economy is still in shambles.

Twenty to thirty years ago, the paradigm changed from “you work hard for thirty years for the same company and then retire” to the current 401K or IRA retirement accounts that you drag with you every time you switch jobs.

We are now more familiar with the uncertainty of job availability. So, it only makes sense that you will prepare yourself in the event that “change” comes and you are suddenly laid off.
The aforementioned blog post starts with growing your network. I agree with that. Social Media Marketing can make you money, and you can use it to market yourself. There is nothing wrong with self promotion. Social Media is a tool that many misuse.

Nobody really wants to see the pictures of you acting foolish drunk out of your mind, and neither do your future employers.

“But, but, it is my life, and I have the right to my life”. NEWSFLASH: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE UNEMPLOYED TOO.

Create and maintain tasteful profiles, job scouts, now days, conduct a search for your name on the web to see if you are a suitable candidate to work for them. If your online behavior has being shameful to say the least, chances are, they will hire the other candidate. Don’t believe me? On the job questionnaire required if you want to work for President Elect Obama’s administration, several questions have to do with whether there are any potentially scandalous events in your past, and online… go figure.

So, in other words, take down your semi naked pictures, and clean up your online persona. Also, start participating in forums and online groups related to your expertise. Do contribute to the forum, otherwise, you will be considered a spammer, and worst, if you claim to be an expert in your area, your comments will either verify your claims, or expose you as a fraud. The “U” of the acronym, the article expands, relates to “Uncomfortable” or learning to grow.

As we grow and settle in our ways, it becomes harder to expand our knowledge base. I am amazed at high school kids graduating and swearing never to touch a book again.

I believe that the moment you quit learning, you start dying. In the Army, we cross train our people, to the point where every member of a section knows how to do the others jobs, and old timers like me, have a certain disdain for those who believe that they can get away with saying that such task is “not their lane”.

My personal philosophy is to do something outrageous, or something I have never done before at least once a year.

Pushing your comfort zone on a regular basis, prepares you for the unpredictable, and makes you a better asset on the workforce. Finish your degree, get another degree, just do something our of your comfort zone on a regular basis.

And last but not least important, promote yourself. It is hard to maintain a balance between becoming a rambling lunatic, and an expert; but if you can manage, your credibility will grow with your popularity.

Use business Social Networks like Linked In to post your resume and keep it updated. Participate in professional forums, and you will grow. Social media marketing can give you a leg up the competition.

All these things are steps that we should be doing on a regular basis. This is the twenty first century. We are living in historic times, and we have the opportunity to make history. We either make history, or we are history.

What will it be?

Again, think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? Share your ideas with us…

If you enjoy the article, please add it to Digg, Stumble Upon, or your favorite social media sites so more people can enjoy it, and learn.

Read more at:

The world is in turmoil; Door of Opportunity

Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?

So you want to make money online?

Should you write your goals down?

The responsibility we have grown to lack

Why is it that some people are more successful than others?

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Intellectual Honesty in Marketing and Life

When I spent a few weeks without updating my Face Book Groups, I was expecting to see their membership reduced probably by a few dozen people. I was pleasantly surprised to see that in all actuality, the groups did grow, if not by much, they were alive and thriving.

I have friends who have groups three and four times the size of mine; and I am happy for them. Hopefully, they are making a lot of money, and helping others at the same time. I could have grown my groups by a lot, if I had used the same principles that I used to create them. But in reality, I am more interested in giving freely to the community. My work schedule could be considered backbreaking; so I do not feel bad about not having breached the thousand members yet.

This morning however, when I visited my groups for a second, I saw that three people had signed off. I was in a hurry, since I was running late for my part time job. “Note to self, Blog about my part time job.”

A few hours later, I started my research, and an idea came to mind.

My last post was about Honesty, and credibility… If you have not read it, please do.

I knew when I wrote that post, that it would be controversial; specially, after I posted another bit of news (this time from a newspaper blogger) to my Face Book Profile. It did generated a lot of views, controversy, and comments.

I dislike conflict, that is my nature. You would say, “yeah right, this guy spent 22 years as a professional Soldier, is a martial artist, at 42, earned the 2d Infantry Division Heavy weight Tae Kwon Do Championship for his belt class, and he says that he hates conflict?” Well, believe it or not, I do.

But I ran with the post. I try to be intellectually honest, and as a blogger, I express my ideas. If you have read some of my posts, by now you know that I emphasize honesty and integrity in business and in life. Yet, when you stick by your guns, speak your mind, and make your beliefs known, people will call you controversial.

I do a lot of work in Civil Rights, and unfortunately, I see the good and the bad in mankind, more often than not, I see the bad; and have to confront it face to face. So, when on my last post I started by exposing how the media here in the United States used the comments of a blogger , a fake one at that (the author of the blog was a fictional character created as an idea for a TV show according to Associated Press), to trash a candidate for Vice President of the Nation, I knew that I would be touching some readers sensitive spot. Yet I ran with it anyway.

So, at this point I tell you today, that as a business person or an entrepreneur, there will be times when you will shake your head. And have doubts about what you are about to do. That my friends, is the time to ask yourself some questions:

1. Is it legal? If not, why are you considering it in the first place?

2. Is it morally right?

3. Who will be affected by my decision?

4. What kind of effect will my business suffer, or enjoy, as a consequence of my actions?

5. How will the image of my business or mine be affected?

6. Will I loose revenue? Will I have to lay off personnel?

7. Is there any other way to achieve my goal without harming anyone?

Intellectual honesty brings rewards as well as not so great consequences; but at the end, to me, it is important that I can look at the guy who is looking back at me when I face a mirror and be satisfied.

One of the hardest things that humans do, is becoming aware of themselves, and the reason it is hard, is because sometimes we do not like what we see. Sometimes we see weakness, or selfishness, or ignorance, or evil. Some of these characteristics, can be changed, but is not that easy.

I equate these traits to an addiction. You cannot change anything in yourself, if you are not aware of it. The alcoholic will not stop binge drinking as long as she or he does not realize that they have a problem. The addict will not quit the habit as long as he or she continues to find excuses for their behavior.

Businesses take the identity and some of the traits of their founders and managers. Why am I saying this? A business will be only as successful as their managers or owners. So, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, I suggest that you start by analyzing yourself. What are your motivations? Making money? There is nothing wrong with that. Is how you go about making your goals a reality that matters.

Remember the list of questions that I suggested you ask yourself when you are about to make a decision and the butterflies start messing around in your gut? Use the same questions when is time to make a business decision as when is time to make a personal one.

Intellectual honesty does not come cheap or easily, it takes guts, but, as you make it a habit of doing the right thing, it will indeed become easy. That uneasy feeling is what is call a cognitive dissonance, in other words, when your values contradict what you are about to do. Understand that your values are yours alone. Some other people might believe the way you do, but some others will believe otherwise, and there is where controversy starts. There is no way to convince everybody all of the time; and the sooner you come to terms with this reality, the sooner you will achieve peace. As long as you remain honest to yourself, your conscience will be ok.

But, as always there is a but somewhere in there… as a good friend of mine suggests every time we teach, look at yourself in the mirror. Be honest with yourself, find something that you cannot quite put your finger on, and that either cause you to doubt, or straight up makes you feel uncomfortable, and you would like to improve on. Understand where that trait, or habit came from, and figure out a way to modify that behavior, habit, or way of thinking. Make it a point to improve yourself, one day at a time.

Being intellectually honest with yourself, makes it easier to be honest with others as well. And as you portray the image of the honest person, you also portray the image of the honest business person. A lot of people might not agree with what you say or do, but eventually, they will learn to respect you and your business. Personally, I don’t like crooks, and can’t care less what they think of me. As long as I am honest with myself, and in all my dealings, my business will be ok, and so will I.

What values are important for you and for your business? Why? Who taught you those values? Have they changed over the years? Let me know.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Military Strategy and Business

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Freedom of Speech, Responsibility, credibility and Niches

Today I read a news piece that really got me irate: "MSNBC retracts false Palin story; others duped". Yes, I know that my Nation prides itself on our Constitution, and the First Amendment of the Constitution, guarantees our Freedom of Speech. MSNBC confessed today that they went half cocked taking the comments of one blogger, and making it into National News. Remember the story about Governor Sara Palin not knowing that Africa was a Continent? MSNBC explained that they got this rumor and ran with it without verifying it; and it so happens that the comment came from someone who created a fictional character as an idea for a TV show. The blogger does not exist, since it is a fictional character, and of course, the character never worked for the McCain campaign as claimed. The media took pleasure on running pointless stories about topics that had no merit, and forgot to investigate and run the ones that were really important to the American public.

Why am I writing this article that has to do with politics, not for my politics blog, but for my social media marketing blog? The answer is very simple. Our political campaign here in the United States was plagued with rumors, innuendo, half truths, and misdirection. Are not all political campaigns like that? Sure they are. But the point of this article is to highlight the importance of bloggers and social media in this day and age, and the key to your credibility.

Rumors, innuendo, and half truths almost ruin the political campaign of Governor Sara Palin, and caused undue stress to her family. Yes, she is a public figure, but my question is, what gives people the right to write whatever they want on blogs as if it is the truth, without the proper disclaimers?

Yes, we have Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of speech is an incredible power. But, on the words of Peter Parker, AKA Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Now, my point is simple. News outlets acted irresponsibly, when they did not verify their stories before publishing them, and did not published the realy important ones. It wasn’t the first time, and it will not be the last. But that bit of news throws egg on the faces of serious bloggers, and entrepreneurs that publish their blogs as a marketing tool.

Growing up, my father taught me that my word is my bond. As an entrepreneur, it is just as important to ensure that whatever product we endorse, and whatever we publish, is air tight. People will be making decisions based on the information that we publish, and some, will invest serious amounts of money.

Honesty is very important because our words have repercussions. I cringe when I see headlines that say: “I made $75895 in a month and I will show you how how”.

Think about it. If I make so much money, why am I selling you a $4000 weekend with me? I sure as heck would have better things to do to spend my time; and those who brand themselves as philanthropists, would do workshops more affordable.

I publish everything I know for free. I could use a few more millions, but I believe that the more I give, the more I will eventually receive.

No, I am not trying to discredit anyone, nor I am trying to lower your expectations, or ambitions. My goal is to eventually make $10, 000,000,000. So no, I am not lacking ambition. The more money I make, the more people I can help.
What I am trying to drill into you is very simple: HONESTY.
Honesty will do more to improve your credibility than any shenanigan you can pull. False scarcity, incredible claims, false testimonies, I see them in sales letters and landing pages all over.
Learn from others mistakes. MSNBC had to recognize that they didn’t do their job the right way. Neither do many others news networks. But I want to bring you back to your blog, and your business.

Social Media, and Social Media Marketing are a force to be recon with. There are millions of blogs out there. Take pride in your craft, even if you are an aficionado. The bottom line is, that whatever you do, you will reap the benefits from it, or the consequences of your behavior. I have made mistakes in the past, and I bet that so have you. But I can honestly say that I try to verify what I publish.

I want you to succeed, and as you succeed, make sure that you keep a clean image, if nothing else, because that will add to your credibility, and to your bottom line.
What do you think? How important is honesty in business to you? Would you buy something from a crooked business person?
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Making Money

Twenty years ago, in Germany, I approached my Troop Commander, I was supposed to communicate an important message to him. He was a very busy man, we all were on those days, and the pace has not slowed down yet. His opening statement to me was direct and to the point: “I have ADD, if you cannot tell me in less than two minutes, do not waste your time or mine”. His ADD did not slowed him down. He went to become a very successful leader, and he taught me a very important lesson. “Objectivity” + “Purpose“ + “Specificity“ = “Success“. Let’s see if we can apply that lesson to making money.

Objectivity: I have a degree of Attention Deficit Disorder myself, and like my old Troop Commander, if you describe every single detail of a conversation, you will drive me nuts, you will bore me to death, and even though I will try to be polite and listen to you, the bottom line is that I will probably be thinking of something else within the first few minutes. I have limitations. I know that. As a Martial Artist, I know that my ground fighting abilities are not as good as I would like. As a writer, I still have trouble differentiating between the word belief and believe, you see, English is my second language.

It is important to be objective and know where your weaknesses and strengths are. So, when I listen to an audio class, and the speaker is talking about wiggling his fingers, I start shaking my head and doing something else, like right now, I’m writing, and trying to listen to a class. I have learned to overcompensate for my weaknesses. I’m a ferocious fighter, and will overwhelm you in the first few seconds of the fight, that is enough for me to win. In combat, you just need to win the fight and survive, it does not need to be pretty, you just need to keep yourself and your party alive. Some people cannot see their weaknesses, and cannot see how to overcompensate in order to accomplish their mission, whether it be survival, or making money in business.

Understand that you need to know what your weaknesses are, and figure out a way to overcome them, or go around them. If you are lousy at Statistical Analysis, find a friend that is good at that, and is willing to help you. If you are a lousy teacher, find someone who can teach. If you don’t know how to make a website, learn.
Purpose: What do you want to achieve? I have talked before about William Tell and how hard, if not impossible, if for good ole Mr. Tell to hit the apple on his son’s head, if he was blindfolded. Remember my old Troop Commander? I figured out that if I could tell him what I wanted to do in three sentences or less, he would always say yes. You need to know what your goal is, and the more that you can narrow it down, the easier will be for you to achieve your purpose.

Specificity: This is a quality that you need to cultivate. How many of us do hate meetings? How many of us like meetings? My main problem with meetings is the wanna be leaders that cannot say what they need to say in three sentences or less, shut up, and sit down. I found that I can finish a meeting in 15 minutes or less, if I am objective about what we need to do, what our limitations are, what our capabilities are, and what resources we can muster; if I know what my purpose is, and if I can narrow our goals as specifically as possible.

In every organization, you can find people that have incredible capabilities, your only problem is that you need to get to know them. If you are a lone wolf, like me, I try to learn how to do everything; we call that cross training in the Army. But you can always find someone who can give you a hand. Remember the story of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Making money is easy, you know how to do it, you just need to figure out a plan of action, put everything together, involve the right people, take action, and voila…
In short, “Objectivity” + “Purpose“ + “Specificity“ = “Success“.

Think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? The way you do business, could you use new ideas? Can you change the way you do certain things in your day to day operations that would save you money, and improve your output? Share your ideas with us…

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For more information on ADD, follow these links:

NHS Blog Doctor: Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder : AAADD

Treatment Options for ADHD

Virtual ADD ADHD Conference

The Looming Attention Crisis

What I Said May Not Be What I Mean

Friday, November 7, 2008

Military Strategy and Business

What does it get you?

In the two previous posts, we cover the “why” or why does it matter? Why do we really need it? Or is it that we really want it, but can do without? We also covered the “How much does it cost?” factor.

An important factor in deciding whether we can have it or not is as expressed in article number two of this series of three is if we can afford it. If we cannot pay for it without getting behind in other bills, or without putting our financial stability at risk, or without using money that should have gone to pay other bills, or without counting with future income (future income might not arrive), we cannot afford it. It is that simple. And, if we cannot afford it, then, guess what: we will have to wait.

Now, we go into the “What does it get us?” part of our discussion.

When I arrived to the organization I currently work for a few years back, the common wisdom was to pay the print plant for the books that we would use to give to the students of our training program. We also bought two or three boxes of two inches binders, and spent hours poking holes at the books printed so we could place them on the binders, and pass them on. That was a very inefficient use of our time. The rational was, that our organization did not have that much money, so we needed to save. I walked into the print plant and asked how much money were we talking about to have them bind the books, and put a cover to them? They told me about $25 per job. We were spending about $50.00 in binders per job, plus the manpower.From that point on, we quit buying binders, and poking holes, thus saving us money that we redirected toward internal training for our people, and we were able to pass on a professional looking training manual to all our students. It also reduced the last minute stress of preparing the binders, since we now don’t have to.

For the other course that we teach, we used to pass on a manual that we never did cover during the class, and a few handouts. We used to spend about $400.00 in binders, and printing; plus the manpower to put everything together.

I made a master DVD with the manual, a few other regulations, and the flyers that we usually printed and placed inside the binders. Total cost? The cost of a spool of DVD-R, and someone recording them. A lot easier than poking holes on papers and trying to place them in binders, and a lot cheaper.

“What does it get you?” A more professional look? A cheaper product? Think outside the box. I saved my organization thousands of dollars in training materials, and used the money to diversify our people’s training, thus having more prepared and professional employees, improving the quality of training that we provide, and eliminating the stress of hours of boring manual labor.

What does it get you? Remember the previous question? “How much does it cost?” Sometimes, just knowing how much something cost is not enough to make an intelligent decision.
The final output might be the determinant factor in whether you are really saving money or not. Here is a more mundane example:

I criticized my wife for buying every movie that came out! Yeap, you know it, I was wrong… patiently, she explained to me that if we were to take all three children living at home at the time to the movies, that would be about $25.00, plus fuel, plus, pop corn, plus drinks, that would be a grand total of about $50.00 plus the aggravation of three kids arguing with each other. She spends less than $15.00 at Walmart, and the kids can watch the movie at their convenience, by thus actually saving money, and eliminating the aggravation. My wife is a heck of a lot better manager than I am.

You get the point. Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective. Challenge the usual paradigm. If what you are paying for does not produce a more professional output, or at least reduces stress and aggravation, is it worthy?

If you are counting on future revenue in order to get those decorations for your office, will the money not be better used by applying it toward your bills? If you think that by skipping a step or two you are saving money, are you presenting a professional appearance to your customers?

Think about it: Why does it matter? How much does it cost? What does it get us?

Again, think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? The way you do business, could you use new ideas? Can you change the way you do certain things in your day to day operations that would save you money, and improve your output? Share your ideas with us…

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Read part one of Military Strategy and Business here.

Read Part two here.

Marketing on Budget.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Military Strategy and Business part 2

Why does it matter? How much does it cost? What does it get us?

How much does it Cost?

I don’t know you, but budgeting has always frustrated me. I quit my Managerial Accounting class back in 1977, and still have not taken it again, but life experience, decades of falling flat on my face, and having to get up and start all over again, have taught me a thing or two.
First things first, understand the term “delayed gratification”.

The past two generations, have being so influenced by MTV, movies, and reality TV, that for the most part, they can hardly understand the difference between reality, and fiction. It takes a significant emotional event to wake them up from their “I want state”. Have you seeing the teenager that cannot wait to get his or her driving license because daddy is going to buy them a Jaguar or a BMW? Or the 15 year old girl who cannot wait for her birthday bash, because mommy is going to spend thousands of dollars in a party so she can flaunt here social status?

Guess what, for the most part, as parents, we have failed in teaching our children the value of an education, money, and unselfishness.

Well, that is enough of my soap box, let me step down from it, and bring our conversation back to business.

I was reading the political blogs the other night, right after a political infomercial, which I did not watch even though I am an avid student of politics here in the United States, and someone commented that one of the “real life persons” that had a role in the infomercial acted shocked when receiving the bill for the food that he had ordered at a restaurant, and proceeded to indicate, that because of the bad economy, he will not be able to eat out as much. I could not believe it.

First of all, if the economy is bad, and you have a hard time paying your bills, you prioritize. And eating out, unless it is an emergency, does not constitute a priority. TRANSLATION: you do not eat out until your bills are paid off.

You do not buy a new car or trade your old one, until you can afford it, or makes sense to do it. You do not spend thousands of dollars in a party for your children, you do not spend hundreds of dollars in new clothes, in cell phones for teenagers, or for yourself for that matter if it really does not make financial sense.

It is the same for your business. You do not hire somebody to take the trash out, if you are not making a profit, and you can actually take it out yourself.

You do not buy new computers, unless your old ones crash and you can afford them.
Think about it. You are in business because you want to make money, right? Otherwise, it will be a hobby.

Find out what your overhead expenses are, find out how much they are per month, and for the entire year. Overhead expenses or fixed expenses are the ones that you need to pay on a regular basis or you cannot operate; rent, mortgage, car payment, electricity, DSL Internet, phone, office supplies, etc.

See that I did not included Marketing, or employees in there. The reason is simple, if you cannot pay an employee, you will have to do the job yourself, or will have to contract it out. In the beginning, you will need to do the marketing yourself. Remember, if you cannot pay for it now, you just cannot afford it; TRANSLATION: Do Not Buy It.

I taught my children that if it was too expensive, we could not afford it, which means, we either get a second job, or do not get it. Both of my kids at home work, and I am proud of the fact that they are showing signs of responsibility; if they want it, they pay for it themselves, and do not expect a hand out.

As entrepreneurs, the same should apply to us.

I failed several years ago at business ownership, mainly because I did not make my intentions really clear, and while I was absent, my business partner went crazy purchasing inventory that we could not dispose of. That put us in a financial bind. Lesson learned.

How much does it cost? Can we afford it? Can we afford it now, or, if it really important, do we need to wait until we can afford it?

Write down all of your expenses. If it does not matter, why buy it? If it is too expensive, can we make do with something more economical? Or, can we improvise a way to achieve the same results without the expense of buying the hi tech, ultra fancy doohickey? Can we afford the new house and give a 20% down, or will it be more reasonable to rent while we fix our credit and save for the down payment?What expenses can you cut? Is it necessary to stop by Starbucks everyday for a latte at $5.00 plus or $25.00 a week? Or does it make sense to buy a $30.00 esspresso maker, and have as many lattes as you want daily? The $30.00 espresso machine will pay itself, if today is Monday, by Monday next week.

If the only work out you do at the gym is walking on the treadmill, and your membership is $500.00 a year, you can buy a treadmill for $500.00 and safe the membership for the next few years.

There are many ways to cost expenses. Remember, you are in business to make money, if all your money goes to business expenses, and you have not cut expenses by now, you are probably a lousy manager. There is usually a way to cut expenses, and streamline production.
Why does it matter? How much does it cost?

On our next post, we will cover the question: What does it get us?

Tell my your experiences with budgeting… What have your experience taught you?

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Again, think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? The way you do business, could you use new ideas? Can you change the way you do certain things in your day to day operations that would save you money, and improve your output? Share your ideas with us…

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Military strategy and business management

Why does it matter? How much does it cost? What does it get us?

I had the opportunity to be at a meeting on Friday. Under normal circumstances, I dislike meetings, but this one was a bit different; it provided the opportunity to network, the guest speaker was a distinguished military leader, and he was to provide some information that would be important, if I was to forecast the future. Every manager is a fortune teller, every CEO is supposed to be gifted with the capabilities to pierce the veil of secrecy if the fates. Those who don’t, are destined to mediocrity, and failure.
All along, this military leader keep reminding us the mantra used by him to change the paradigm of day to day business.

See, the United States Military is like the hydra of many heads. Each head has a brain, that contrary to popular belief, it is used on a regular basis, and each head has an enormous amount of authority. But, like with every major enterprise, when you have many heads at the helm, little is accomplish, unless you standardize procedures.
That is why this meeting was important to me. It is at times of war that you realize, very quickly, what will work and what will not. What works in peace time might not be as efficient during war, and will probably fail royally.

So he told us the story of how the military obtained money for different projects, and how, some sections of the military where very well trained, but their infrastructure was deplorable, think 21st century military, housed planning, and working from World War II era buildings; and some areas of the same military were just not as well trained, but their infrastructure was futuristic, and majestic. Obviously, there needed to be a change if the military was to continue providing a service of excellence.

The change needed, was a change in the state of mind of the decision makers; or, train each individual head of the hydra to think alike, within the same principles.
Why does it matter? How much does it cost? What does it get us?
And that new paradigm, has literally transformed the U. S. Military in the course of a few short years.

Why is this important to you as an entrepreneur, Social media marketing expert, expert search engine optimization manager, Internet marketing director, program manager, service manager, etc?Simple, lets start with the first question, and I will use the other two as the topic for the next two posts of this blog.

Why is it needed?

Do you remember William Tell? Or are you too young to know of the Archer who was forced to shoot an apple from the head of his son?

If you are an American who has never being overseas, and suddenly I drop you at the port of Ashueibah (I know that the spelling of this name is probably wrong, but trust me, it does exist), and then tell you: “your mission is to prepare the area for the arrival of 25,000 people, and about 15000 vehicles, combat systems (some of those top secret), weapons, explosives, computers, pencils, notebooks, printers, bullets, kitchen appliances, soccer balls, weight sets, Bowflex systems, rifles, school supplies, water purification technology, generators, and who knows what else… notice the disparity in the classes of supplies, facilities needed to house or store each individual class, and personnel needs to be able to do it efficiently… you are dropped there with a friend of yours, no money, no food, no map, just your wits.

Well, that happened to me in 2003.

What would you do besides crawling to a corner, assuming the fetal position, and cry like a baby?

Bring back William Tell… will you?

What would have happened to Mr.Tell’s son if good ole Bill would have being blindfolded, spun around, and ordered to soot? His son would probably have died, or the arrow would have being wasted, since Mr. Tell could not possibly find his target.

It is the same with your blog, website, business, marketing project, career, life, marriage, etc.
You should have a clear picture of what you want to achieve, and why does it matter.
Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, and why does it matter, gives you the perspective needed to prioritize, and work more efficiently. Why does it matter where I place my ads on my blog? Why does it matter if I hire an expert search engine optimization professional, or not; why does it matter if I spend my entire budget on part “B” of my project or not?

Answer that question, and you will be ready to begin, and yet, if it really does not matter… why are you doing it anyway? That if the mentality that you need to posses, in order to sort through the cluster of seemingly unrelated tasks that you face day to day, and not crawl into a dark closet, assume the fetal position, and cry like a baby. That mental attitude, will give you a more concise list of tasks to accomplish, in order to accomplish the mission, and be successful.

Tell me what you think, what principles do you use to keep you focused?

Again, think about your previous experiences. Has this article given you new ideas? The way you do business, could you use new ideas? Can you change the way you do certain things in your day to day operations that would save you money, and improve your output? Share your ideas with us…

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Read other related articles:

Reasons for my absence
Money Matters
Marketing on a Budget