Monthly Archives: June 2013

Just Shut Up and Enjoy the Freakin’ Coffee

...and they all laughed at the persistent gringo.

…and they all laughed at the persistent gringo.

I didn’t even know what a French press was when I first heard the word that morning as I was eating breakfast in Tecolostote, Nicaragua.  I had arrived with an excited group from my church to help work on various projects that my friend, Paul Heier & his team had going on there for the Hope Center.

The waiter brought around the coffee and we all swooned.  It’s aroma filled the dense, tropical air each morning like a momma’s smile over a baby’s crib.  It was delicious.

Our breakfast conversation over the next 5 days always came back to how amazing this coffee was.  My friend, Whitney, explained all about how a French Press works and how it served to fully extract the flavors from the freshly ground beans.

Each day, I’d ask the staff about the coffee and they would just smile at us & serve more.  I noticed, however, that they always conveniently avoided answering my question:  “Where can I buy this coffee.”

On the final day I cornered the waiter who spoke the best English as the group was headed off to the bus.  “Can I see what a French Press looks like?”, I asked, as I began to make my way into the kitchen area.  It was then that I learned the truth.

“You can buy it at the airport on your way home.”, he replied.  “Stay here for one moment.”, he said as he hurried into the open air kitchen.

When he emerged a few moments later all I could do was grin like the gringo I was.  Our group had been duped.  There in his hand was about the most average container of instant coffee I’d ever seen….distributed by Nestle!!

We had a good laugh & I remembered hearing their hushed chuckles as I walked back towards my group.

I think we all have a tendency to think beautiful things are more exotic & mysterious than they really are. Like magic, once we identify the mechanics of something the intrigue is gone.  If they would’ve put hot water and a bowl of instant coffee on the table each morning I have little doubt we would’ve been under-impressed.

I did buy a few canisters of that coffee & it has long since been gone from my cupboard.  Oddly, it never tasted quite the same after I learned the truth.

For the record, I still don’t know what a French press looks like and I’m really not sure I want to anymore.  I think I’ll just enjoy my coffee.

Finding Pleasure in Another’s Pain- Why I Don’t Watch the News

Image Do you know every detail about the Paula Deen, ‘N-Word Gate’, scandal?  Can you already untangle every knot of the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation?  Have you already stuck your  George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin flag in the sand despite the fact that the jury hasn’t even seen all the evidence yet? Are you so wrapped up in a hometown scandal  that it has become the commanding topic amid the coffee shops & water coolers of your life? Did you just get upset because you think I’m calling you out? Read on.

I’m all for being informed. I realize the importance of creating a healthy dialogue when a current event exposes a deeper issue. My concern is that many people are more concerned with being loud  and right than being informed & kind.

I think people crave bad news because it distracts them from the monotony of their own daily life.  It is, for some, a soothing salve that numbs.

I am a lover of ideas & if there’s one thing I learned from Jim Rohn it is this.

Good ideas flow out of thankfulness & gratitude but cynisism locks all the doors.  If you want to be miserable become a practiced cynic.

The problem with focusing on negative news is that it becomes a vacuum that leaves folks more cynical than they were before. True, life ain’t all sunshine & rainbows, but its not all violence, murder & racism either.

If you are guilty as charged when it comes to the amount of time & passion you are investing into the tragedies of others, then here is today’s Challenge for you:

Consciously make an attempt to focus on negatives only in an effort to form a solution…not to sensationalize them.  If you are passionate about a specific topic that is at the center of ‘Scandal Dujour’ then, by all means, channel that passion towards a solution.  Bantering back & forth to see who can get the most likes on a comment thread may not exactly be the answer.  John Mayer talks about the triviality of our angry rants in his song, ‘Belief’:

“Is there anyone who
Ever remembers changing there mind from
The paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time”

Next week, after all the newspapers & magazines have been sold, after all the blogs have been visited & monetized, and as the scandal specific #hashtags are fading from Twitter & Facebook a brand new Outrage will arise.  I promise.  If you’re already wrapped up in one of these spectacles then go ahead and keep watch over it if you wish.  I’ve shared an idea with you and now it is a seed inside your head.  You can ignore it, be cynical of it or apply it to your life in some way.  It’s YOUR life, I’d recommend you focus on it.

A Lesson in Friendship from the Strangest of Places

Behold…The most beautiful 3 minutes and 20 seconds of your day is here!

And the story didn’t end there.  Here’s the final segment about this most unlikely duo who remained best friends until the end.

What My Voices Tell Me and How I Found Hope in a Lisp

What do Your Voices Tell You?My desire is to be transparent with this blog & this is one of the more raw posts I’ve published.  I struggle with voices of fear & doubt and they’re trying to sabotage my dreams.  The loudest of these voices pretty much repeats the same 3 words:

‘You’re Not enough.”

The quitter in me has a way of convincing me that others are doing great things but I am destined for mediocrity;  that the many imperfections I have are what is holding me back from being a published author, a speaker or a 5 Star Ambassador with Visalus. Simply put, my voices try to convince me that successful people are that way because of a natural gift, a particular skill set I can’t develop or just plain luck. I’ve a feeling I may not be alone in this.

Oddly enough, I find great comfort in Jon Acuff’s lisp. Jon is actually my favorite author and someone I admire very much. It’s a strange thing to fall in like with a lisp, I know, but it’s also the truth.  He’s not perfect & I love that about him. I’ve followed his ascension to stardom for years but never actually heard him speak until meeting him at a book signing a few months ago for his new book, START.

My biggest fear now is for Jon to actually read this & suddenly realize he may have a lisp.  Sorta like the time I intercepted a note from one of my students and found out I had a bald spot  :/ I started shaving my head the next day.  I find great delight in the nuances of others that make them unique and move them South of Vanilla.  (Now I just ticked off the vanilla lovers!)

The point is, while some may discover the imperfections of people and see less, I see them as a reminder that success is reserved for those who keep hustling.  I am compelled to silence that voice within me that whispers, “You’re not enough”, and simply respond,

“Oh no, I’m MORE than enough.”

I’m curious, what do your voices tell you?  Comment below and check out Jon Acuff’s project NoMoreVoices.com to contribute to the conversation already going on there.

NOTE: If you just thought to yourself, “I don’t hear voices in my head! He’s crazy!” Then welcome to the voice in your head.

When Your House Guest Eats the Soap

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I remember the first time a friend of mine invited me to come learn about a business he was starting.  I recall rolling up to that sprawling estate with awe & wonder.  The guard at the gate had watched me roll up in my 1993 Dodge Dakota and didn’t seem overly impressed.

I distinctly remember 2 things about that night.

Lesson 1: People are Strange

A lady with big hair and a slightly bigger affection for perfume came out of the guest bathroom and made a comment about how the bars of soap tasted exactly like they smelled. People in the room gave a nervous giggle and began shifting their gaze to the far corners of the room in a desperate search for real life.  Sure enough, I walked into the bathroom later and saw teeth marks on their decorative soap display!

2. Never Assume You Know Someone’s Story

I always have a way of being among the last to leave an event.  That night was no exception.  I was a 2nd year teacher with 4 kids to feed and a family to support.  I hadn’t yet polished up my tact & so I asked the lady who owned the home a direct question.  “Why do you need a side business?  I mean, your house has columns, your driveway is filled with new vehicles, your husband’s a doctor & you have a successful real estate business.”  Her answer was direct & profound; soaked in a sad sort of humility :  “Rob, we’re just broke on a different level.”

Her words have been rolling in my mind here lately and I felt an urgency to share them with you all.

Broke on a Different Level

This phrase is true of so many folks I speak with.  This beautiful couple had begun to make more money.  And like many others they started buying things they didn’t need, with money they didn’t have to impress people they didn’t like anyway!  In a world of big credit & small, easy payments it’s hard not to reward ourselves.

Here’s the truth: Debt is bondage (Proverbs 22:7) & you need to begin freeing yourself today.  There are 1000’s of options for you to begin with but I would personally recommend you take a look at Dave Ramsey’s resources as a solid start.

Once you get an honest assessment of where you are financially and begin to develop a game plan for your financial freedom I encourage you to start a home based business you can get excited about.  A business you’ll actually work like a business with a solid leader who will guide you towards where you wanna’ be; preferably, where they’ve already been! Doing this will both accelerate your ability to attain that freedom and give you a rich sense of accomplishment that you ARE in control again!

Knowledge is not power.  Knowledge applied is power.  Let’s take action my friends!

How a Facebook Group is Impacting an Entire Town – What I Love About Lakeland Business Leaders

Something beautiful has begun to settle into the very fabric of our culture here in Lakeland.

The week I retired from a 15 year teaching career to pursue my Network Marketing business full-time I joined a small group of local business owners in a Facebook group called, Lakeland Business Leaders.  Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to do with myself all day.  My entire existence from Kindergarten straight on through my 30’s had been centered around school hours.  I just knew that if I was going to succeed I needed to surround myself with people who were already in business for themselves. I was desperate.

I actually discovered LBL after seeing a ticker feed where a friend who was also in my company had spammed the entire group with a silly ad on how to ‘get rich quick’.  Choking back my gag reflex, I clicked the link to check out what this group was about expecting it to be just another spamming forum.  Clicking that one link however, turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Lakeland Business Leaders was started by Chrissanne Long and Craig Hosking in December, 2011.  The mission statement of LBL is not just lip-service but, I’ve found, entirely accurate as to what is being accomplished as a result of the group:

The Mission of the Lakeland Business Leaders

“To create a sustainable, evolving presence within Lakeland that leads and supports the ongoing development of an economically and socially vibrant community for our businesses and families.”

Here are some things I’ve grown to love about the LBL Group:

-We are not stuffy.  We wear jeans if we feel like it and will be among the first to roll up our sleeves to help others.

The vibe of the Facebook group is one of transparency & professionalism.  Tough questions pertaining to business, life & all points in between are posted and responded to without childish drama.  We seek to create solutions; it’s what entrepreneurs do.

We take our conversations to real life.  The ability to talk to others & present in a group has been a fundamental key to success in my field.  The weekly LBL breakfasts, monthly meet & greets as well as special events provides a safe training ground for how to communicate effectively with others.

Spamming is not allowed in the group.  In fact, only Premium Members can post about the products & services they offer and, truth be told, they rarely do.  Because there is a full-time moderator who is being compensated for her efforts the group can be adequately managed & moderated without having to burden a volunteer army with such a daunting & thankless task.

Now, I shop local! Even though I’ve called Lakeland my home for over 20 years now I never really had the desire or felt the urgency to shop local.  LBL was instrumental in bringing Cash Mobs to my town. As a result, my eyes were suddenly opened to just how integral my purchases are to my fellow small business owners. My family was actually featured in an article in the Lakeland Ledger.  It was a brilliant interview where I basically shared that I bought a mailbox and took my family out to a restaurant….but those 2 activities mattered to those small businesses that day! I learned that where we spent our dollars mattered as a result of LBL.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing of all about the Lakeland Business Leaders group is that I’m pretty sure it’s not happening anywhere else in our country.  I’m certain if I looked deep enough, I’d find something similar but I’m almost certain there’s nothing even remotely as beautiful as LBL.  If I’m wrong PLEASE share a link in the comments below because I’d love to learn from them!

What If??

What if this concept caught on in communities all throughout the U.S & beyond?  What if the right leaders took the initiative to create what has been born right here in little-old, Lakeland, Florida?

Something beautiful has begun to settle into the very fabric of our culture here in Lakeland, my friends. A like-minded & passionate group of individuals have partnered together to create a community that is both economically & socially vibrant for our businesses & families.

The Challenge:

If you live in Lakeland, I welcome you to join us…we need you!

If you are reading this from your hometown somewhere far away that you love, I challenge you to love your community enough to bring something beautiful to the place you call home.

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The Urgency Factor: The Power of Passionate Action

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Urgency is the most powerful trait you can have in your business

If I could pick one trait that most directly influences massive success in the network marketing industry or life in general I would choose Urgency.

As a ten year veteran in the MLM industry and one of the top earners in my company I can attest to the power of getting the message about your product or service to the masses as quickly as possible.

Very few companies tout an average product or service.  I’ve yet to see a Facebook status proclaiming mediocrity as a primary benefit.  Imagine if Pepsi tried this back when they started in 1965

“Choose Pepsi cuz’, well, you’re already drinking Coke”.

Here’s an observation:  We constantly see folks post on social media all about the amazing impact their company’s products are having upon people.  They market their lotion, potion, pill or powder as ‘the best’.  They share amazing pictures, testimonies & personal stories of how lives are being transformed…..and yet, they wonder why folks aren’t lined up at their door with a credit card in hand.  Here’s what I believe:

  Urgency is the most powerful trait you can have in your business.

I used to think it was passion but the truth is authentic passion CREATES urgency.

 

Why, ‘Why’, isn’t enough:

Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate the power of writing down the reason ‘Why’ you are building a business. Your why will keep you from giving up by allowing you to glance at the finish line you send you wanted to cross. But, if you lack passion or have doubts about your product or service’s ability to make a genuine impact in the lives of others, then you are in for a struggle (if you have integrity of course.)

So, if you are indeed passionate about what you do, may I simply recommend a bit of urgency on your part.  Here a some practical tips:

Urgency Tips:

Show them:  Become a product of the product and begin creating your personal success story (again, if necessary)

Confidently share without apology.  Once you’ve shared what it is you have to offer kindly ask them if they’re ready to get started.  A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is perfect.  Note: Questions are a positive sign…get them answered with urgency.

Get off social media and get to their kitchen tables.  Most everybody I’ve ever met who claims that they’re getting rich without every talking to folks is broke.  Facebook, Twitter, Google + and all the other platforms are simply a way to share who you are with an audience and a bit about what you offer; it is NOT a substitute for voice-to-voice or person-to-person interaction. 

Bring it to Them:  Allow them to hear the urgency in your voice & go to them if they don’t show up to your presentation. If you are only urgent about making money off of them then this is where you will struggle. Because I am authentically passionate about what I have to offer in my business I call my prospects immediately after they don’t show. I intentionally schedule 30 minutes to meet with them within the next 48 hours. Why??  Because I sincerely believe they HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT THIS! I’m applying the Urgency Factor!

If you’ve made it this far you are a serious student. Congratulations!  Now, for a bit of homework:

The Urgency Challenge:1. Decide whether you are passionate about what you are doing and write down 3 reasons why.

2. Write down the names of 3 people who you will actually call & speak with to share what it is you have to offer (ie. Product, Service, Business idea, Your Faith)

3. Schedule 3 appointments within 48 hours and apply what you’ve learned. 

4. Repeat as necessary for best results

 

Above all, I urge you to take action NOW if you have been inspired to do so.  

This World NEEDS You!!!

 

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below as well as the results of your little experiment. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer’s Struggle or Why I Avoid Arguments

Be Inspired. Be inspiring.Writing, for me, is a lot like having an argument.

A much needed healthy, argument.

I’d much prefer to simply solve a problem than talk about it & get all messy with the stickiness of feelings.

Even right now, I have this conflicting-deepness in the pit of my stomach. My senses are urging me to back out of writing this…to refill my coffee…to post a quote somewhere…to pray…do laundry…or………….

I’ve decided to write because, even though I loathe the pressure I feel when my keys are rat-a-tat-tatting on my keyboard, I’ve discovered the relief of resolution after each paragraph I pen.

I had a blogging friend ask me the other day what I wanted ‘the customer’ to do when they visited my blog, and I don’t think I’m ready for any sort of customer just yet. Maybe one day I’ll learn all about monetizing my blog, but right now I’m just searching for you.

My hope in blogging is that you, the reader, is out there. That you find value & meaning in these words.

Every now & again I get followed by someone whose blog has a heartbeat to it. Their words & content have an authenticity & a distinct rhythm to the patterns of a life actually being lived. I like to follow those folks.

Anyone else like me out there? I’d love to read & comment on your blog if you have one.

The Saddest Dreamer of All: Congratulations Walt

I think this world has good intentions. I always see positive platitudes plastered wherever I look on social media & commercials. It seems at every turn someone is trying to encourage me (maybe themselves) to ‘follow my heart’, or ‘Chase my dream’. Come to think of it I can’t recall the last time someone encouraged me to ‘Embrace Mediocrity’ or ‘Soak in the Glow of Resentment’. But this morning I heard a song and it kinda slapped me in my smile just a bit.

I’m in my second reading of Jon Acuff’s book, Start. The first time I approached it much like I would approach the first beef enchilada when I know I still have 2 left. In chapter 2 he referenced a song by John Mayer, and it is the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.

Now, we’ve all heard sad songs.

-When I was younger they centered around breakups,

-In my 20’s a sad song for me centered around some ‘system’ that was going to force me to grow up & be responsible.

-The minute I entered Fatherhood I fell apart anytime I heard a sentimental chorus involving sons, daughters or their mommy.

But now I’m on the precipice of 40 and I’m just now getting a foothold on living a life of significance. I want to matter. But here’s the catch…I don’t want to change the world alone.

‘Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967’ by John Mayer is the story of a man who had a dream. He painstakingly developed the skills to make his dream a reality. He had the perseverance and resolve to move forward towards his passionate pursuit despite the heckling crowd of naysayers.

If Walt Grace was paying any attention to social media & self help (self-hurt books??) back in 1967 he would’ve been very pleased. Encouragements of, “Keep going, Walt!”, would certainly pepper his comment section. But there is a problem.

Walt is a married man with children and spends his days just searching for silence from the ‘noise’ that has become his life. He has alienated those he loves to pursue a selfish passion full-time.

Here’s something I think we all need to do right now.

I encourage you today to identify your dream and invest a few moments on what your finish line looks like. Walt Grace made his dream a reality. He ‘Just Did it’. His chest broke the tape guarding that finish line he’d had his sights on all those years.

And he celebrated alone.

Congratulations, Walt.

The Art of Moving Forward When Discouraged: A Lesson in Farming

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Identify what today’s Win looks like and then accomplish that. Move Forward towards your goal but let tomorrow worry about itself.

We all have a desire to reap a massive harvest. We are bombarded by abundance and feel we are simply not keeping up when we see yet another person presumably ‘winning’. If you often find yourself discouraged then these words are for you.

Success in anything requires preparation. The difficult part about this truth is that we are bombarded on social media with proclamations of either harvest or discouragement.  It seems very few people take the time to proclaim that they pretty much just got bloodied, muddied & beat up in the field today but are ok.  There’s not much poetry in preparing a harvest of any kind unless you have the wisdom to purposely look for it.

Consider this:  Imagine the farmer who walks in the door, throws off his hat, slumps down in his chair and proclaims his day was a waste.  “All I did was plow, plant & pluck weeds ALL day!”, he exclaims.

Even the person with the most minimal of farming knowledge would be able to offer this fellow some comfort.  I could picture myself getting him a glass of cold water, putting my hand on his shoulder, looking in his eyes and saying, “I know you’re tired. You’ve worked hard today and deserve some rest.  Don’t worry, the harvest is coming.”

And that’s what I want you to know.  YOUR harvest is coming.

-Just like a farmer must plow stubborn earth that has been packed down by a combination of time and complacency, so, too, we must deal with a world that is resistant to change.

-As a farmer must deal with the painful jolt in his hands when the plow hits a stone, so we must deal with the obstacles in our business that we run into which we never even saw coming. Our plow might get a bit damaged but will you quit or move forward?

-A farmer plants seed & we must continue to do the same if we expect to see the harvest.

-A farmer cultivates his field with purpose.  He waters, feeds & protects his crop from weeds. As leaders we owe it to ourselves & the harvest to do the same.

None of this is pretty but it is essential to acquiring the harvest.

Above all, leader, I encourage you to look upon your field with Thankfulness & Hope.  Negativity is a poison to Faith and locks the doors of blessing.  Don’t just think positive thoughts…Stand firm with the absolute conviction that YOU WILL WIN!!!

Stay the course, my friend, YOUR harvest is coming.