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Not All Home Based Businesses Are Created Equal – Tips to Help You Decide

images-1I am passionate about the Network Marketing industry.  Whether you call it Network Marketing, MLM, a home based business or even an un-franchise it’s all the same to me.  Many have misconceptions about this industry due to some unethical fools who manipulate others for their own personal gain. There are schmucks in every profession.

I am a network marketing professional and I hold my head high.  I’ve been involved in the industry now for nearly 10 years and my experiences have run the gamut from pathetic failure to top income earner.  Having been around the block a bit I wanted to offer a few tips as to what to look for when starting your own network marketing business.  There are many options out there so perhaps this will be of help to you.

Top Tips for Selecting a Home Based Business

Choose a Solid Company– I used to believe that the only way for the average person to achieve success in MLM was to get in on the “Ground Floor”; it’s actually exactly the opposite. This lottery strategy is exciting and many fall into it’s trap.  I did.  I was involved in 3 start ups before choosing to partner with a solid company.  All 3 of those companies folded before I even had a chance to call my entire list!  The promises of ‘get in early’ are attractive to some who have seen others have success but in my experience I have NEVER YET seen a person who chose to build with a new company who was still with the company after 2 years (most are burned out before their 1st year and walk away murmuring about how the industry is horrible.) If the words “ground floor” or “get in early” are in the pitch kindly smile, nod & back out of the room.

Find a Successful Leader to work with– I love to go to dinner & movies with my friends. My family loves to frequent the movie theaters of our area to check out the newest blockbuster.  But here’s a fact you may not know- The friend who shared the business with you is probably not an expert in the industry.  I’m certainly not saying to only work with the top leaders but I am saying that you had better have some conversations & do some research on the reputation & qualifications of the leaders on your team.  Speak with them on the phone and ask them your questions.  I have seen many a friendship get weird when one is put in a role as business mentor when just last week you were babysitting their children.  Some friendships can make this transition. Personally, I find it rewarding to build a business with friends but if you are looking to have the type of success you were promised on that video you’d better have direct access to someone who has attained what you’re after.  I like to introduce all people to my wife…She has the ability to see things in people that I miss.  She calls it intuition but I call it magic!

Does the Company Have a Simple System & Quality Tools-  I joined a company once because they had the most amazing & exciting 3 minute video I’d ever seen.  Many of my friends joined our team based on the same exciting video.  The problem, of course, was that nobody really ever tried the product! If someone is coming at you with big promises and unwavering belief about a product they just heard about a few weeks ago I advise you to take a deep breath and sit on the sidelines for a bit.  Your friends and warm market are going to take action based on your relationship with them.  When they hear your passion & conviction they will be compelled to join you.  There are many great products represented in this industry and some mediocre ones as well. Don’t risk your social equity on the promises of a snazzy powerpoint slide, a well-made video or some lady you’ve never met in front of a room with a story.  If the company is solid now it will be solid when you’re done doing your due diligence.

Unless you plan on learning everything about the product, compensation plan and business model then I suggest you closely inspect what kind of tools the company has to offer.  There is a wise saying that I share with my team all the time, “USE the tools, don’t BE the tool!”  Many start ups rely on the magnetism of a few well-spoken leaders to leverage a large group to join the company.   If you can’t do what they can do when it comes to sharing the company with others then your business is doomed for failure.  Solid tools (websites, videos, brochures, sizzle calls, sampling) are the pathway to success for the unexperienced networker.  No tools, No Team!

Customers Are Good For Business-  Here’s a red flag.  Someone goes on & on about how revolutionary their product or service is!  You are sold and ready to buy when all of a sudden you find out that if you become a ‘Distributor’ you can get it at a discount.  Because this practice is so widespread in the industry I never even saw any problem with it until I experienced how healthy it feels to simply let a customer be a customer. Don’t misunderstand me, some company reps offer discounts for becoming a rep but they offer it as an option and don’t make you feel stupid for simply becoming a customer.

Most of your friends probably want to try the product or service you have to offer but when they suddenly are confronted with starting a business to get a good deal it can get awkward.  A healthy business model focuses primarily on getting customers and then promoters.  It’s totally acceptable for a company to make a customer aware of being a distributor but If the overall message of the company & the folks in the room focuses on a culture of “JUST GET YOUR 3 AND WE’LL ALL BE RICH” then proceed with caution! In fact, I have found that my best promoters were happy customers first!

These are just some initial things to look for when starting a new business.  It’s an exciting time for sure.  This industry has dramatically transformed the entire course of my family!  My intent with this post is to simply bring to light some very important factors to look for in deciding on a entrepreneurial vehicle for you &/or your family.  Success is possible in this industry and I am living proof.

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How I Became a People Person

people-person-pic2Would you consider yourself a “people person”?  Do you wish you were more outgoing than you are currently?  If so, I think I may have discovered a secret and I’d like to share it with you.  It is a deliberate strategy I began applying a few years ago and , quite literally, has transformed me as a both a person & and a business owner in the process.

I used to think that outgoing people were born that way.  That boldness & shyness were inherited like blue eyes and curly hair.  Here’s what I know: There’s no such thing as a shy baby.  When that child wants something you will know about it.  As we grow up we are conditioned to lean into either shyness or boldness based, in large part, by our environment.  “Oh, don’t mind her, she’s just shy,” says mama.  Being a people person is an acquired skill and my story is living proof.

If you remember me from school you are among the very few.  I was the introverted, vanilla wallflower who was strategic enough to avoid being picked on. My picture is in the Lakeland High School, C/O 93′ yearbook exactly 2 times and that was by design.

I remember when I made the conscious decision to be more outgoing; and that’s what it will take for you to emerge from the social cocoon you’ve been building all these years.  To best explain how I did this let me categorize every person you’ve ever met into 3 categories…Just humor me here 🙂

The 3 Types of People you know:

1. You know a person. You see them in public somewhere.  They act like they don’t see you.

2. You know a person. You see them in public somewhere. They offer the obligatory head nod, wave or  ‘How are ya’?

3. You know a person. You see them in public somewhere. They make you feel like the most important person in the world.  They seem genuinely interested in you and for some odd reason, you believe them.

How to Become a People Person:

I made a decision one day to purposely engage others. To cross the street and invest a minute or 2 to look in their eyes with a firm handshake extended and ask them, “How are you doing?’, instead of resorting to a wave.  I was scared to death but the decision to do this had already been made before I took a step into the world that day. I’ve found that in our frantically paced culture the gift of 100% focus & attention is most powerful.  Taking a moment to connect has become the rarest of gifts nowadays.  Yet, those are the people we remember, aren’t they?  They’re the people we think of when we need to make a purchase, or have a problem aren’t they?  It is a proven fact that we choose to do business with the people we know, love and care about.  You impact as a person, parent or business owner hinges on relationships.

If, right now, you have taken the stance that you are too busy for all that then you are exactly right. If, however, you’re willing to try a little experiment then read on.  It worked for me.

Take the Challenge:

We all have that neighbor, that coworker or that person we see each day.  For years now you’ve either been seeing that person and pretending you didn’t or seeing them and offering the gift of a nod.  I encourage you to take the initiative, break through the social cocoon you’ve been weaving all these years and simply talk to 1 person. Just 1. That’s all.

If you genuinely want to become more of a people person it begins one conscious decision at a time. A little confession for you: After all these years I still get nervous every time I reach out with more than a wave or nod. I’ve felt the awkwardness of a conversation that didn’t really go anywhere. But just like that second trip to the gym you slowly acclimate yourself to the mechanics of how the whole thing works and the results simply must follow if you commit yourself to the process.

Be sure to comment below to let me know your tips on how to become more of a people person & definitely stop by and let me know what happened when you took the challenge! Awkward, grandiose or otherwise I’d love to hear your story!

This loving others is a messy business but it is guaranteed to help you in every facet of your life.  Trust me, I’m living proof!

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.

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.

The Day Daddy Listened: A Blueprint for Fatherhood

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place

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The older I get the more I agree with George Bernard Shaw. I think he was probably married for a while before he came up with that gem right there.

I’m entering 15 years of both marital bliss and parenting and I find myself more and more certain that I’m the problem.

You see, I have a gift with words; and, alas, my gift is also my curse.

This blog isn’t gonna’ be long & drawn out. I simply wanted to get this out there:

I’m going to make an effort to listen more.

To ask questions.

To not presume that I know how the sentences of my wife & kids’ will end even if I’m probably right.

I’ve developed a nasty habit of leaning into my words to win the argument when it was only supposed to only be a conversation.

Being a husband and a daddy is a messy business…it’s also my primary business.

I stopped to listen to my son as he was shuffling off to bed tonight. His eyes met mine & I asked him what he was thinking. He asked me if all of the family could read for 30 minutes. While this may sound sorta silly & inconsequential to you I assure you it was the most sacred 30 minutes of the day.

I didn’t rush him off to bed.
I didn’t put him off with a, “Maybe tomorrow, buddy.”
Our family read; and so it begins.

Here we Grow again!

This video made me LOL. Statistically, more guys think this video is hilarious than women. View accordingly.

What a Man Needs Most

whatamanneedsmost.jpgLadies, do you know what your man needs more than anything?  Oh, I’m certain I know what he says he WANTS more than anything.  But do you know what his deepest need is?

I’m going to keep this blog simple and to the point.

Your man needs to know that he is enough. That he has what it takes. That you believe in his ability to accomplish the mission.

Years ago, I discovered a profound truth in John Eldrege’s book, Wild at Heart. It said,

“In the heart of every man is a desperate desire for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue,”

This truth has rattled in my brain now for nearly a decade and only recently have I fully realized it’s power.  This revelation has actually impacted what I used to hold dear as my favorite scenes from some classic films.

When I was in my teens and twenties I recall absolutely being inspired by the final scene of a good guy movie.  Rocky (just pick one) and Cinderella Man were 2 of my all-time favorites. I used to literally fast forward to that final scene where our hero comes through and takes down the antagonist. That one glorious moment would always inspire me to persevere & fight whatever Goliath I was currently facing in my life. These days however, it’s the scene right before the big scene that I find myself craving & savoring.  You know the one….when our hero has the doubts. When his head is hung low. When he’s recalling all the times he’s failed.

This is the moment when we’re introduced to the TRUE antagonist in the story. That small yet deafening whisper of fear & doubt.

My favorite scene in a movie now rests in that holy moment when the beauty he’s been fighting for goes to battle on her man’s behalf.  Strong belief, measured words and a promise to celebrate this victory on the other side are her weapons of choice.  And they are all he needs.

I’m convinced that men today are still searching for a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue even if they don’t realize it yet.

Ladies, fight for your man. It’s what he needs the most.

Check out these two posts on this subject from some ladies who I really have a bunch of respect for:

-You MUST meet Genevieve West, and read her post called, Men, Be a Woman But With a Penis

-Shanna Delap shares a very personal & transparent post on her blog. Click HERE to take a look!

A Most Dangerous Facebook Post

Be careful what you post on Facebook.  I realize on the surface you are dismissing that first sentence as obvious but I encourage you to look at it from a different angle for a few minutes. 

Words are powerful.  They have the power to bring both Life & Death.  God used words to bring about His creation in Genesis & his son used words to give up His life as a ransom for many, “It is finished.”

Last week, I underestimated the power of words. In a brief moment of availability and obedience I posted the following to my Facebook wall:

 “If you are struggling or hurting right now, would like someone to chat with & are available to go grab some lunch please send me a direct message. I don’t know who this status update is intended for but I’m confident that God will sort it out.”

 What has happened since that moment in time can only be described as ridiculous.  Turns out, when you obediently offer to wrap your life into the midst of others, ministry is bound to occur.

 What’s particularly intriguing is that most of the event of these last 9 Days were not a ‘direct’ result of that request but, rather, orchestrated by God himself.  I did enjoy a fabulous lunch & very intentional conversation with a group of 3 young people as a result of that specific post but it seems, when you rub the magic lamp of ministry, much more happens.

 The very same day I posted that I lost a good friend in a motorcycle accident.  He was a fiery & passionate young man I knew from my years in youth ministry.  How sad, I thought as I began to mourn. Then, I got the call. They wanted me to do his funeral.  WHAT?!? I’m retired from that……

 While my mind was wrapping itself around the death of T.J. I learned that another young man, Alex, from my days as both a teacher and a youth pastor had been killed in a motorcycle wreck.

 His funeral was yesterday. I could almost hear the hearts breaking as clenched fists & teeth fought death with the light of the promises of Christ.  There is MUCH ministry to do.

 This has been a rough week. 

 T.J.’s funeral was actually one of the most powerful ministry moments I’ve ever had the blessing of being involved in.  To stand before that room of grief & hopelessness and inject life & eternity into them was what I was made to do.  The words flowed & the spirit led.  Just how I like it.

 My angst now arises from my desire to do God’s Will.  While I feel like He is guiding me towards full-time ministry I can’t be certain.  Sometimes, I wish there was a script I could follow.

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I believe this journey is set to take a turn.

I’m as ready as I’m gonna’ get!

How I Met Your Mother – Blended Family Edition

To My Bride on Mother’s Day, (more…)