Monthly Archives: June 2008

Phoenix Business Expo – What Fun

On June 25th We went to the business Expo. This is a once a year event put on by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. It had 200 businesses that purchased a space there. One thing they did that I really liked is that they made the price very cheap so that even the smallest business could afford it and they limited each business to only 1 booth. Most were 10×10, about 50 were just a table around the outside and 5 were larger for the sponsors. I have been to many events where some large company buys up 10 booths to show off everything and drown out the competition. None of this was here.

To me this is one of the most fun things I get a chance to attend during the entire year. You get ideas of what other people are doing. You get to see what people think will be successful. You also get to see booths from distributors for many of the MLM’s, it lets you see which ones are popular beyond the internet.

The motto of the expo this year was “Stay Up in a Down Economy”.

The highlight of the expo was a free seminar they hosted. It was all about the new way of marketing, using relationships, the first speakers was Victoria Trafton from the Referral Institute of Arizona. She talked about how it is so important to build up relationships with your customers and get them to refer your business.

The second speaker was Raymond Lambert. He is an expert at using a website called linkedin. Here is his LinkedIn page. I have known about linkedin for a long time now I even created a profile about 6 months ago, but I never realized how big and important it is. After going to his event I would suggest that everyone create a linkedin page. It costs money to get the advanced features but it may be worth it so most people. He really made it hit home that this is a great way for you to build any business you are in, or to just promote yourself.

The last speaker was Dave Barnhart from Business Blogging Pros, here is his blog and his other blog. He has a business where he helps people unlock the power of blogging.  Most of what he said is stuff that I already knew, but I only knew them because I am a blogger and a techie.   After it was over I talked to him for a few minutes and he was very smart and knowledgeable.  He suggested that I try Feedburner, and that I also try Typepad instead of WordPress because it has many more features.  If you are looking for someone to help you blog you can call me for the basics, but if you really want the advanced stuff call Dave.  (He lives only a few miles from my office, I think I will call him later and ask if he wants to market eachothers products)

As a direct result of this Expo I have already wrote over $1,500 in business and I have reminded many previous contacts about our company.  I have upgraded my linked in page, and added more features to this blog.  I also handed out over 100 business cards and collected about 100 so that I can call them this week.  After the expo was over they had a great reception, free food and 2 hours of mingle time with about 400 other business owners.

All and all it was a great event, that I look forward to all year.

You are meant for much more than you are now.

Yesterday I saw the movie “Wanted“. In general it was a great action flick but one of the main premises was that most of us live up to only a very small part of our potential. There is so much more that we should be doing, and most of us have tragically missed our calling. Here is a quote from the movie, it is not perfect but close.

It a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face: to remain ordinary, pathetic, beat-down, coasting through a miserable existence, like sheep herded by fate, or you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside. ……. This is the decision that lies before you now: the sheep, or the wolf. The choice is yours.

This is something that I have always thought about, There is so much more to living than the meager existence that most people live in. This is something that has always challenged me, I know that I have been called to be much more than I am today, I know I have wasted a ton of time and a ton of effort with little progress.

There is a group called SwitchFoot that sings about this concept. They have many songs about this the best of these is “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move

Here are some quotes from these songs.

The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we’ve been livin with our eyes half open
Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah

They are good poets. Click the links and watch the videos.

You we are all meant to live for something more than our current existence. This is something that I strive to go for often, but usually it gets lost in the busyness of the day. To remind myself I wrote down my “Why” the reasons that I do what I do. I posted this in my bathroom so I read it each day as I get ready. I also posted my “How” and my short term goals.

Find your calling and go for it.  Do it today.  Don’t wait for an uncertain future to do what you want to do with your life.

Thanks for reading, please post a comment.

DTV and how some companies can't get around their systems.

DTV logoSo I am sure that everyone in this country that watches TV knows about this DTV conversion. I mean they have a huge amount of ads and news coverage. So in January I sent away for the coupons to save $40 each. I received two coupons, one I used on Monday (4 days ago) at my local Wal-Mart, the other I kept in case I wanted to try a different unit. The unit I got has the RCA logo on it, though it is actually made by some small Canadian company. It works well, it was able to get 28 channels here in Phoenix, Arizona. 20 of those channels are ones that I do NOT get on cable so I was glad I got it. The picture was very clear, and it even had a digital TV guide converted off the airwaves.

Now here is where the story turns bizarre and a bit techie. See how fast you can figure it out. My second $40 coupon was set to expire on 6/27/2008. Sometimes I am devious, so I figured I would take this chance to test some of the systems at Wal-Mart. You see this coupon looks and works like a credit card. It has to authorize through the credit card network. So I decided I would visit them after 10pm, and it just so happened that 10:10 was the time I got out of my movie so it worked out well. We went there and grabbed the unit, and about 20 other small food items that we needed and went to check out. They rang it all up and like I expected the card was declined. It gave no other message, of course the card looked real and had all the security features, because it is real. The reason it did not work was because the servers that told the cash register if the card was good or not are located on the east coast, or in the case of Wal-Mart, maybe Arkansas. Where the servers are located it is the next day due to the time zone difference, so they said they were expired, but where I am located they were not expired.

Wal-Mart had never experienced one of these cards not working, the assistant manager quickly came over and kept blaming the cashier that she was doing it wrong. After a bit I told them what I thought was going on and the assistant manager called the head manager. They talked for a bit and did not know what to do. The head manager told the assistant manager to override it and just hit generic vendor coupon. That is what she did. Then about 30 seconds later the manager called over and told them to stop, that this would throw off all their accounting, but because the AM already did it they had to void the whole thing. I had to empty the whole cart again and have the re-ring everything again because there was no way to undo the coupon. They figured it out, and I paid my balance and it was all over. All the while the two people behind me in line already had their items on the belt and were waiting.

Now I am going to engage in some techie heresy. Systems are good to manage a company but over dependence on computers, with no way to get around them without messing things up is a recipe for disaster for any company. There is always the thing that a programmer overlooked. I bet some programmer thought about this, and thought the chance of this happening was so remote that it was not worth the 20 minutes to put the code in. But I bet that a lot of people wait until the last day to use their coupons, and some of those may be located west of Arkansas and shop in the evening. But I also bet that no one at Wal-Mart will figure this out, or bother to fix it.

Yahoo Groups as a Great Business Tool

I don’t know if you have ever heard of Yahoo Groups.  As the name implies it is owned by yahoo and it is a way for you to build and maintain a group of people.  It is actually very easy to use.  I have been a member of different groups for years now but today I started my own.  I started a group of local people who are interested in real estate investing.  If you are interested in that topic click here to sign up, it is focused on Phoenix Arizona but anyone can join.

There are many things you can do with this group.  It works a lot like a blog.  You can change most everything, and it is very fast and user friendly to set up.  You have the choice of making things private or open.   It will manage members, and send them all new messages in their email.  You can choose to moderate the messages, you can mange who is a moderator.  You can post photos, polls to ask questions, post a community Calendar, have databases to store information that every needs, and you have a section add files that people can download.  (You even get 100MB of free space)

All and all it is really a great service offered for free.  The only semi scary thing is that you don’t have real control, what if yahoo decides to stop offering the service, or what happens if they decide your group as not a good group and they delete it.  I think the chance of both is very slim.  You also run that same risk with wordpress.

Are you money motivated?

I have found that some of my best thoughts have been posted on other blogs. Over the last few days I have written a series of comments on another blog and I would like to share them here.

I had a very successful computer business. I was working 80 hours a week, and it was my whole life. It was not so fun. I wanted much more with my life, so I started to replace myself. I first started by finding people who could do what I did the same or better. This let my focus on other things. I soon took this too far, spending only 20 or so hours a week working on this business, the rest of the time doing other things and working at my church. I also started a few more businesses on the side. Everything was good, then I really started taking it far, I decided that I liked to travel so I soon was spending weeks at a time away, they could still call me but that was about it.

I had put systems in place, the only problem was that I did not put systems to watch the people managing the systems. My flaw was that I thought everyone was like me…honest and money motivated. So I put in place a system where an honest person could make a lot of money by doing fun work that helped people. The problem I found was that most people are NOT money motivated, when they have enough money they stop working, and second I found a few too many people who were not honest. Due to people not being honest and taking my customers and my assets and also due to lazy people who sat on the payroll I lost about 400k in a matter of 2 years. Much of this time I was away, traveling while managers said it was all going perfect, but they were the main crooks.

Finally I took on a partner, he bailed us out financially. Scaled back the business and made it manageable. The damage had been done, and we shut down our retail operations in Nov of 2007. We still try to sell online, but very little comes from that.

I still think that the idea of systems works, and my goal was always to be able to travel, and leave it to people, but the problem has always been the people. In my years I have employed at least 100 people, some were great and some took me for thousands, I just wish I could know in advance who is who.

Then some people asked me questions…here was my answer.

First when I mean money motivated, I mean people that want to earn big money. Most people are fear motivated, they have the fear of not paying the bills, and not having food, and not having a safe place to live BUT once those fears are gone (Once they earn enough money so that they don’t have to worry) very few people that I know will continue to do what it takes to make higher levels of income. This is why 80%+ of people have crappy jobs and are not really striving to do better.

You second question was, what would I do different. Well FIRST off I would have got out of the computer industry back in 2003 or so when it became super price competitive, and there was no margin or market. I also would not have borrowed the 300k+ that I did to keep my company alive, I would have just let it die and go start something else. But if I had to keep the company I would have had more time mentoring the employees. I would have spent more time figuring out who was good and who was bad and got rid of the bad people. I would have been much quicker to fire people, and slower to hire them.

I also would have spent a lot less money on print advertising and spent a lot more money paying people to make phone calls and go door to door. Our return for that was at least 20 times higher than any print ad we ever did.

600 Word Essay, for 7m7y

Over the years I have always known that I was different, I could not even think of getting a job, I had to be my own boss. I have always seen ways to do things better, ways to make more money and systems that could be done to make it all work better. For most of my life that has worked out very well for me. But recently I have lost my way. One big reason, I believe, is because of the people I am around. They try to talk me out of the ideas I have. I don’t have many friends that are successful the way I want to be, and when I have found successful people I get some information from them but mostly they don’t see me as a peer. So a few months ago I started blogging, I used wordpress. I was able to find many other people who thought about success the way I did and some of them even had achieved it. I quickly found google reader and added the top blogs I liked to read to my reader.

I was now finding a ton of useful information. But I knew I needed more, I needed to find successful people that I could hang out with, bounce ideas off of. I needed a mastermind group, I found a few local ones, they were very expensive to join, and the people in there were great at running their business but not really what I was looking for. I also went to seminars, I found a few really good people there, one guy who I sat next to, was cynical about the content and did not stick around, we talked a bit so we traded cards. I told him I would call him later with a summary of what he missed. So I did just that, and when we talked he told me that he was a large commercial real estate investor, (Something I always wanted to do). I knew of many of his projects, most of which are worth tens of millions. A few weeks later we met for lunch and we talked for about 2 hours. I got great encouragement from him but he was way out of my league, he did tell me that if I ever found some good deals that I should call him up.

Around this time, AJC, the author of one of the blogs that I read regularly, 7million7years, decided to have a contest. This was a contest for this multi millionaire to personally mentor and help 7 people. This guy was the real deal, and even better he was a techie like me, he made his money in business and also in investing in real estate, everything that I wanted. This was what I was looking for. So I signed up. I was hoping to finally find the key that had been missing, to find the wherewithal to finally go out there and get what is mine. He first asked for an application that I quickly filled out, next he asked for a 100 word bio, I also quickly sent in. Next he posted that bio and tested the finalists on how to drive traffic to it. I did a popunder and a 120 second refresh metatag from my most popular site, I also mentioned it here and here in my blog. I also sent a few emails to friends to go look at it. I made the top 30, now I doing the next test, a 600 word essay, so that I can make the top 15.

I made the top 30 in 7m7y.

I don’t know if you remember.  But a few weeks ago I told all my readers about how I was entered into a contest called the 7 Millionaires in training.   Well last week the announced the top 30 and I was in it.  On thursday of next week I will be hoping to be in the top 15.  From there it will be the final 7.  The prize for this contest is something really cool and really great, it is a mentorship from a highly successful serial entreprenure and real estate investor.  It does not say how long this will last but I bet it will last until most of the final 7 are millionaires, at least that is my hope.   Cross your fingers and wish me good luck., God knows I need it.

His blog is really good, find it here, he has written many of my favorite articles like this, this and that.

If you would like to tune in, there is a web broadcast show every thursday night at 6pm PST.  Click here.

Very interesting article from a counterpoint. The Lottery Class

I have always believed in counterpoint, or whatever the proper name is. I define it as reading from someone or something that is totally opposite of what I believe in. I do this for a few reasons, first to see where their point has logic so that I don’t become completely one sides. Also to see what is in the mind of the person I may one day debate.

This year, as you know, is a presidential election. I am a republican, I have always voted republican, and I plan to do so. I simply don’t believe that the government should be in our personal lives as much as they are. And every democrat I have ever heard wants the government to have more control, more rules, more of my money, and do more things that I disagree with.

Now that all of this has been said democrats OFTEN come up with interesting points. I have been a subscriber to the newsletter for over 4 years now, but recently I have have been reading and writing blogs, one that I found early on, and is full of good info is one by Jon Taplin. I will say that most of the time I totally disagree with him. But when he is just stating facts, his facts are very interesting. Today he posted an article about ‘The Lottery Class” You will notice something VERY interesting. The poorest people spend over 5% of their money on the lottery. These people also spend at least 5% of their income on transaction costs that the rest of us usually get for free. I mean, they pay to cash checks, then they pay to buy cashiers checks. Also many of them pay a huge amount of their income to very high, and often abusive fees for borrowing very small amounts of money.

I have never been able to understand the logic that many of these people have. I had a good friend that was like this. Was always borrowing at 20% per month interest rates and such, he never had money and over 10% of his income was going to these things.

About a week ago YouTube featured a video that was made by and about this subject. It was crazy, but so real in the subject matter. Please watch this video. It helped me understand this underbelly of our economy a bit more.


Now what should be done about this. Well first off even if rates were lower these money loaning companies would be still highly profitable. Here in Arizona they are getting ready to regulate these much more. I am PRO government regulation that protects people, I am against government regulation that makes the burden on all of us higher, such as having to file a Tax Return.

Lottery’s are almost always ran by the government and the profits go to the government at the expense of the poor. State and local government have gotten very used to the money they receive from this. (Not to mention the 8% or so that the place selling the ticket gets) Now you should not totally get rid of the lottery because a certain amount of our society will resort to illegal betting to get their fix, but you CAN have the government stop promoting it. They can stop all forms of advertising, they can stop listing the numbers on the news broadcasts. You could also limit the number of places sell it, to say only places that have a liquor license. That would remove the kiosks in the malls. And of course they should remove the automated vending machines that people under 18 use to buy the tickets.

I have not played the lottery in a decade or so, and in my whole life I have spent under $50 on tickets. But the lottery is such a rip off, they only pay back 45% or so of the money to the winners. And even when they do that the government takes 40% of the winnings of major winners in taxes. Basically half of all money spent on lottery tickets is a donation to the government, and comming from the people who can least afford it.

That being said I am not so strict on gambling. Games of skill such as poker are much more fair, you can have a positive expected return based on your skill. And games that payback almost all of what they take in are better, they are more like entertainment. For example craps, if you play the passline, pays back about 98%. So if you bet $10, and do it 100 times (Which would take HOURS), on average you will only lose $20. Sounds like a lot of fun for a small cost. Black jack is about the same if you play correctly. Even slots are MANY times better than the lottery, though MUCH more boring.

In the end people need to think a lot more, keep their eyes and mind open. Too many people walk around, close minded, they do things in the old ways and get the old results. Poverty and being out of control of their life.

2008 is Half Over. Lets make some goals.

Most people review their plans every year for new years, they make resolutions, some minor and some major.    For most people these are gone by the end of January.  I try to update at least once per quarter, and usually break down goals for each month at the start.

In this blog I am really talking to people who run their own business, who can determine how profitable that business is, and want to make stellar profits.  It is said that 70% of the people in the US don’t have any specific goals.  27% have goals in mind, but only 3% have written goals.   In this 3% you will find over 95% of the entire wealth of our nation.  Most people who have jobs fall into that 70%.

For this month my goals are in two main areas.  First in my computer company, I want to market more to existing customers and drum up at least 10k in profit from doing this.  The plan is one of daily action and contacting people.  I have a huge database to work with, which is good, but the economy is limiting spending which is bad.  I also want to do more real estate investing.  I want to do at least one thing each day to build my network, knowledge and to actually do deals.  Today I looked at various agents to work with.

So far 2008 has not been a very good year for me financially, though many steps have been made in the right direction.  I have spent a good deal of time rebuilding from the bad things that happened in 2007 and the end of 2006.  I have stopped the bleeding, and now we have positive cash flow for the first time in a long time.  I also have expanded my knowledge and my network by huge amounts.  All of this was important but is meaningless with out action, now is the time for action, and to put everything to work.

So what are my goals for the second half of 2008.  Well my two main areas of focus are Real Estate investing and the continuation of the computer company.  The computer company is fairly easy money, because I have a huge database of customers, a ton of existing marketing and websites and everything is in place.  But computers are not very profitable right now.  For this reason I have been trying to move into real estate for years.  I understand the local Phoenix market very well because I was born here, I have been building my knowledge to the point that I am confident that I can most any sort of thing I want to do.  Now I am building my network of buyers, agents and money suppliers.  I want to do at least 10 real estate transactions before the end of the year.  I also want to Average 30k in sales per month for the computer company.  With an average real estate deal of 20k and a monthly computer profit of 10k that would net $260,000 by the end of the year.  Of course this needs to be broken down to monthly goals and then to daily action.  In order to reach these goals daily action must be done, I have a huge checklist for each business of things that need to be done, and my goal is to spend at least half of the working hours of each day working on these goals.

The point of this blog is not to talk about what I have done, but to inspire you to do the same.  Write down where you want to be at the end of the year.  Then figure out what you need to do each month to get there, then figure out the specific actions that must be done to get there, break it up into daily chucks and then ACT on it.  I have usually been good at the planning but a bit into it I would get discouraged, and settle back to a lower level of action, and then I would miss my goal.  One cure for this is accountability, you could do this in a few different ways, one is to make all of your goals, subgoals and actions public and let your friends have access, so that they can help you.  I have decided to simply talk to my business partner each day and we each will keep the other accountable.

So go out and make your action plan today.