4 Marketing Lessons From A Broken Air Conditioner

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wrench and bolt
We’d like to have our relationships with our customers fit together as smoothly as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle just snap into place.

But it’s easy to screw things up if we’re not careful.

In the last two months I’ve had a chance to watch an air conditioner repair company make all of these mistakes.

They showed me several ways this relationship can get really screwed up, take twice as long to get half as much done, and leave everyone really ticked off.

Some people seem to have the sole purpose in life of serving as a bad example, and these guys had it down pat.

For the rest of us, it doesn’t matter what kind of business we have. Retail, consulting, internet sales, service, or even MLM, being aware of these principles are what keeps the cash register ringing.

1. Keep Your Commitments

This is the 1st Commandment of building good relationships.

Do what you said you were going to do, and do it when you said you were going to do it.

If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how good you are at anything else, people will see it as your attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

My A/C company was one big FAIL on this issue. Over a course of 8 weeks I had 5 different appointments set with them, and they missed every single one.

Actually, I came to believe that the only reason they gave me appointments was to get me off the phone.

They never had any intention of keeping them and they never called to notify me or reschedule, they just didn’t show up.

When they finally did show up, they didn’t call to let me know they were coming. At least they were consistent.

To me, and probably to you, this is inexcusable. The message it gave to me about my importance to them was not a good one.

No one wants to be an afterthought. Every customer wants to feel that they’re important to the vendor. If they do, they’ll tend to cut you some slack on other issues.

If they don’t, nothing you do will ever be good enough.

2. Don’t Make Assumptions – Seller Side

Why do we like to assume that our customers know as much about our product as we do? Just because it’s simple and obvious to us doesn’t mean much.

In fact, if there’s an issue it’s usually best to assume that the customer is as lost as an alien from Alpha Centauri at Mardi Gras.

It’s better to annoy the customer with basic questions that they’ve already considered than skip something and waste everyone’s time marching down the road to nowhere.

Asking detailed questions also helps the customer to feel that you’re taking the problem seriously, and that you’re being thorough.

Being really fast to jump to a conclusion only works if you’re right. If you’re not correct, the customer will often perceive you as sloppy and uncaring.

And they might be right.

In my case, the A/C company assumed that I knew several things about A/C cycles that I didn’t and it made it hard for me to determine whether it was fixed or not.

That’s where the basic instruction for customers is so important.

They may have false or unreasonable expectations, sometimes caused by marketing hype and sometimes caused by wishful thinking or incorrect information.

Those assumptions determine what they think of you and your product, so take the time to be clear.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Customer Side

I had to throw this in, because at times we’re the customer and we can screw things up from that side of the transaction.

We think we know how things should work. Sometimes we’re wrong.

I’m speaking mostly to us guys now, because women seem to have less ego tied up in what they know or don’t know, and find it easier to ask questions.

However, many of us (guys) make assumptions rather than admitting that we don’t understand.

If the vendor isn’t being thorough, we need to ask and keep asking until we get what we need.

In my case, I thought that if the A/C was blowing hot air, it was broken. So I’d turn it off and then back on to reset it, not knowing that there was a five-minute delay before it came back on.

When it didn’t start right away, I was sure it was broken.

How do we do that in life? We insist that circumstances and products have to conform to the way that we assume they should work.

It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing; not very productive. Don’t assume, ask.

4. Stay In Touch

Which leads me to marketing lesson #4 from this fiasco. Let’s not ever leave our customers wondering.

Find ways to stay in touch with them. Build relationships when there isn’t a problem. It’ll make your life, and theirs, a lot easier when the occasional problem does pop up.

Take a look at your product funnel and see what you need to do to stay in touch. How can you engage on social media or email? How can you better document what you do to answer questions in advance?

So there’s the four lessons – keep commitments, ask and listen carefully, stay in touch. Not difficult but very important.

Have you had a bad experience as a customer or vendor? What have you found that builds lasting relationships? Let us know in the comments.

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Do You Make These Mistakes In Visualization?

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House in forest

The con men that promise quick, easy, effortless solutions have left a lot of people convinced that visualization doesn’t work.

And it doesn’t – their way.

It does work, and you should use it. But it’s not magic, so it’s important to understand what it does, and why.

Here’s some of the most common mistakes and how to use it right.

Mistake #1: Creation By Visualization

Many people think, because the con men told them, that they can just visualize stuff into existence.

So they visualize with enthusiasm, day after day, and nothing happens. The object of their affection – a person, place or thing – fails to magically appear.

Let me be blunt: you can’t visualize stuff into existence.

Man, if it was that easy, “we’d all be drinkin’ that free Bubble-Up and eatin’ that rainbow stew,” in the immortal words of Merle Haggard!

There will be work in the form of action steps being required.

But before you even get to the action steps, you’ve got to avoid this next mistake.

Mistake #2: Seeing the Goal as Something You Don’t Have

Lots of visualization courses teach that “you should see yourself in the movie of your mind.”

So people create a mental image of themselves like they were watching themselves in a movie.

Unfortunately that’s supporting the idea that someone else, not you, has the goal and you’re watching them.

Here’s some good advice from Dr Robert Anthony: “Only vivid imagery in the first person and in the present tense changes our reality.”

What that means is that you see through your own eyes in the vision and you see yourself as already having and currently enjoying the goal, whatever it is.

Follow Dr Anthony’s instructions. Put yourself IN the movie and participate in the movie.

Don’t be a spectator, be the star! That’s what “first person, present tense” means.

When you experience your dream that way, your mind finds that easier to believe and will go to work to make it a reality.

If your vision is to take a cruise, walk up the gangplank, see the people, hear the ship noises, smell the ocean, feel the sun and the breeze on your face.

Make it as sensory rich as you can. Then when it happens you’ll feel like you’ve been there before, many times. Because you have!

Earnest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind, put it this way: “We cannot demonstrate life beyond our mental ability to embody…As water will reach only its own level, so our outward conditions will re-produce only our inner realizations.”

So when we know we have it – really KNOW – then we’ve created the right mental conditions to make it easy for the goal to be achieved.

We have the “inner realization” that Holmes mentions.

Mistake #3: Not Taking The Required Actions

What the inner realization does is not necessarily change the outer Universe, but it does change our inner mental Universe.

Our subconscious mind is a filter. We receive many more sensory inputs that we can deal with, so the subconscious mind decides what we see and discards the unimportant items.

You’ve probably heard the common story about deciding to buy a new car, and suddenly you see them everywhere!

It’s not because they suddenly appeared, they were always there.

But now you’ve told your subconscious that they’re important, and so you see them.

Your clear vision and certainty about your goal will tell your subconscious to be on the lookout for the things you need.

When they show up, take action. Wallace Wattles says that not linking vision with action is what keeps many people stuck.

We want to avoid that and be alert for clues about what we need to do.

In her wonderful book, “Your Invisible Power” Genevieve Behrend tells of her need to raise $20,000 to go to England to study with Thomas Troward.

She had no idea how to get the money, which in the 1920’s was a big sum.

Walking down the street in New York one day, pondering this situation, she had the realization that when she owned it in her mind, it was hers.

That thought stopped her in her tracks.

She had been playing with counting out the (imaginary) money every night, but this insight changed the way she looked at it.

That night when she counted out the 20 $1,000 bills, she did it with confidence and certainty.

She had the inner realization.

She still had no idea where it would come from, but at that point she knew it didn’t matter.

And within a few days she had an idea, and circumstances arose, and she followed those ideas like a trail of bread crumbs.

In less than 6 weeks she had the money in the bank.

She had programmed her subconscious and she took action.

Here’s a story from Richard Lynch that also illustrates the power of combining vision and action.

“It is easy enough to have vision; almost anyone can have one.

“But a vision will not stay with the person who doesn’t believe in it enough to bend every effort toward its fulfillment.

“Persistent action must back it up, otherwise it’s just a wish, not a determined conviction.

“I know a man who built himself a cottage on the shore of a lake.

“Someone liked it and wanted to buy it, so the man sold it and built another one.

“The same thing happened to the second one. He built another and another and soon quite a group had been built and sold.

“Someone suggested that a hotel was needed to complete the development.

“One day the man was seen building a huge chimney out in the middle of a large cleared space.

“When asked why he was doing something so strange, he answered that when he got the money he would build a hotel around it!

“Needless to say, the hotel was built. This is what I mean by ‘working out the vision.'”

You see that Lynch was pointing out that the hotel already existed in the man’s mind, and he was constructing the chimney as a start.

Most people would wait until they had all the money, but that’s not the best way.

Building the chimney, taking positive action, tells your mind and the Universe that you’re serious!

When you’re serious, you become unstoppable.

Do you have any visualizing stories? Leave a comment below.

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How To Get Help When You Need It

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Helping Hands by American Center Mumbai, on FlickrYou’ve heard me say many times that you can’t build significant success by yourself. But we all try, don’t we?

Many times we draw back from building relationships or asking for help because we don’t feel qualified.  We’re embarrassed that we might be shown up as incompetent or as impostors.

Well, here’s an approach that will work. You don’t build the relationships you need by asking for help. You build those relationships by helping others!

Here’s 3 ways that you can support or encourage others.

  1. Get involved in groups or blogs related to what you do, or want to do. Provide helpful ideas and comments whenever you can.
  2. If someone needs help in an area you’re particularly good at, offer more detailed help if that’s appropriate, or refer them to other blogs or articles that might help.
  3. Make introductions if you know someone who might a helpful resource.

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101 Whacks At The Rock

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“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it – but all that had gone before.”
Jacob Riis

It can be hard to keep going when it feels like nothing is happening from all your efforts.

You work and work on something, you give it your very best, and you feel like you’re going in circles, getting nowhere.

In my experience, there are times when things happen faster than we expect, but unfortunately that’s not very often. Most of the time it takes longer than we want.

As a friend of mine used to joke, “God, give me patience and I want it NOW!”

A worthy goal is a challenging goal. You’re asking yourself to stretch to new levels of performance.

Of course it’s going to be tough!

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Which Kind Of Courage Is Harder?

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“It is curious that physical courage
should be so common in the world
and moral courage so rare.”
Mark Twain

Humans have always played games, and many of the sporting games are violent. In football, rugby and soccer, collisions, injuries and broken bones are common.

But there are no shortages of testosterone-fueled young men and in some sports, young women, willing to put their bodies on the line in the name of winning.

Why is it that people who are so willing to risk their bodies in sports can be so cowardly when moral courage is required?

I have been thinking about this since the Penn State scandal hit the news.

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Train Yourself For Success

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“If at first you do succeed, try
something harder.”
Ann Landers

I think that our friendly advice columnist, Ann Landers, is on to something very helpful here. She’s given us two lessons for the price of one quote. That’s pretty good!

The first lesson is in how we train ourselves to be successful.

We start small. Take a little task, an easy task, and do that. Then do it again. We’re practicing doing new things and getting things done. As we do that, we build confidence.

That’s important, because we’ll need it as we move on to bigger tasks.

Some people start with a big task and then get discouraged because it was harder then they expected. Break it down into little pieces. Train for success.

The second lesson she’s teaching us is to grow. Don’t stick to easy tasks, push and challenge yourself as you go along.

If all the things you do are easy enough to do right the first time, you’re not growing. Take bigger bites. Stretch yourself so that sometimes you have to start over.

That’s OK, it’s not a failure. It’s a learning experience.

You’ll be surprised how far you can grow in a year with this process. Try, push, learn, grow.

It’s the only way anyone has ever done it! That’s the secret.

Now start.

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Just Three Stories

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The world lost a unique genius with the passing of Steve Jobs this week. In his honor I’d like to reprint the commencement address he gave at Stanford University in June, 2005.

In it he covers some of the important topics that we talk about in the Daily Gratitude newsletter and the courses that I offer on business and personal success, telling how he applied these ideas in his life. It’s inspiring, and he will be missed!


I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.”

My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life.

So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it.

And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this.

I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them.

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired.

How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley.

But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world.

In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.

I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

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The Hardest Work in the World

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“There is no labor from which most
people shrink as they do from that
of sustained and consecutive thought.
It is the hardest work in the world.”
Wallace Wattles

In our quote today, Wattles has given us the secret key to success. It’s the kind of secret that you can leave out in plain sight, because there are very few people that will use it.

As he says, it’s the hardest work in the world. It’s about taking control of your conscious mind. Controlling your thinking instead of letting it run on autopilot.

Now what does he mean by “sustained and consecutive thought?” We know that sustained means to continue it for a period of time, but what about consecutive?

One of the meanings of consecutive is “to proceed in a logical sequence.” Wattles is telling us that the secret is to control our mind so that it is always focused on the steps from where we are to where we want to be, without EVER letting thoughts of fear, doubt, lack or loss interfere!

He calls that the process of “thinking TRUTH regardless of appearances.”

It is very difficult, at first. As he says, “every appearance in the visible world tends to produce a corresponding form in the mind.” So all the news about the economy, war, famine, disease and other troubles produces the wrong forms in our mind.

Can you go through the day and see only abundance, health, love, joy and a friendly universe? Wattles says that when you acquire that power, you can have anything you want. Anything!

Is it true? I believe it is, and I’m working on getting better at it all the time. Every success in my life has been the result of holding the right form in my mind and taking action. Every setback has resulting from sloppy thinking.

How are you doing with it? Have you started? If not, when will you start? Now would be a good time.

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Turning The Ordinary Into the Extraordinary

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“There is a great opportunity at
this time for people who will
create a vision and pursue it with
determination and purpose.”
Wallace Wattles

One common error in thinking is the belief that in some way all the real opportunities are monopolized by others.

We look at the very rare successes in high technology, like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, and cry because we can’t do that.

What we ignore is the people who become rich by baking cookies, cleaning carpets, making ice cream and fixing cars.

As Wattles says, since so few people in any industry operate in the Certain Way, there is ample opportunity for us. It was true in his time and it’s still true today.

When was the last time you had an extraordinary “Wow!” experience
with a business? Hard to remember, isn’t it? That’s your opportunity. People are begging to do business with companies that make them go “Wow!”

A friend of mine went to high school with a kid named Bill in Kansas,
which is midwestern farm country a long way from the centers of high technology.

Bill got kidded in because he smelled like a cow barn from the chores he did on the family farm before school every day. No one would have voted him “Most Likely To Succeed” in their class.

But he learned the business, from pasture land to milk cows, from fresh milk to ice cream, and he put it all together in an integrated system.

Now the kids that made fun of him go to one of his 280 Braum’s ice cream stores in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and cheerfully give him their money for his fresh, tasty, locally produced treats.

Bill learned how to do “Wow!” There’s no lack of opportunity, even in the most ordinary of businesses.

So read the quote again and then go do what it says. Get a vision the excites you and go for it!

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The Truth About Cause and Effect

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“There is a science of getting rich and
it’s an exact science. There are certain
laws which govern the process.”
Wallace Wattles

One of the big mistakes that many people make about wealth is thinking that you have to be a particular kind of person, or be in the “right place” or have the right background.

Nothing could be further from the truth! If it were true it would be a big surprise to well known success teachers like Jim Rohn, a country boy from rural Idaho in the western USA, or Bob Proctor, a Canadian high school dropout!

We don’t need the right background, we need to have a burning desire for success and to learn the laws which govern success and follow them.

One of those laws is cause and effect. Many people will say, “Oh, I know about cause and effect” and miss the point. They’re thinking that “If I do A, it causes B.”

What we do in the physical world is not a cause! This is very important. The physical world is an effect of the action of thought by ourselves and others! What really happens is “I think A, which causes me to expect B, and so I do C and sure enough, B results.”

The physical world reflects the thinking of the people who are and have been creating it. That’s us.

So we change the effects we experience by changing the action of our thought, or thinking. That’s employing the law of cause and effect for our benefit.

Wattles calls this process doing things in a Certain Way. The skill we need is the ability to control our thinking. In its simplest form, it means that we use our thinking to focus on what we want, and not on what we don’t want.

It’s not easy and, in fact, Wattles says it’s the hardest work we can do. But it can be learned by anyone who is willing to practice.

The results are worth it.

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A Healthy Relationship With Money

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“It’s in the use of material things that
a person finds full life for the body,
develops the mind and unfolds the soul.”
Wallace Wattles

Continuing our series on the writings of Wallace Wattles, we see that he is pointing out that it’s an error to think that material things, like money, are not spiritual.

We need things to nurture and comfort our body, engage and stimulate our mind, and feed our soul. Poverty makes this difficult.

But, look carefully. He says the “use” of material things is necessary. This choice of words is to make it clear that the acquisition of lots of stuff is not the point.

A good example of this can be found in the work of Gandhi in India. He created the image of a monk with a vow of poverty dependent on the support of others, which was actually true. But without the use of material things, his campaign would have gone nowhere.

One of his advisers said later, “It takes a lot of money to keep Gandhi in poverty.”

The point is that we need to be able to fully express our body, mind and soul. To do that we need to use “stuff” and it’s not important whether we own it or just have access to it.

But living in actual poverty and thinking that it’s spiritual is an error. Poverty goes with lack, and spirituality goes with abundance.

Test yourself with this exercise. Complete the following sentence with the very first thing that pops into your mind.

“Rich people are………”

What did you come up with? Something positive, or negative?

Interesting, isn’t it? We all have a lot of subliminal programming.

We should never settle for doing without something we need to fully express our gifts and nurture our body, mind and soul.

In order to do that we need to have a healthy relationship with money. And the biggest block for many people is thinking that money and spirituality don’t go together.

They will, if you let them.

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Do You Have Enough?

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“No one can rise to their greatest
possible height in talent or soul
development unless they have
plenty of money.”
Wallace Wattles

This is the first in a series on key ideas from Wallace Wattles writings. His book, “The Science of Getting Rich”, is one of the best known and most continuously studied personal development books ever written.

One of the biggest errors that many people make is to consider money as non-spiritual, or even anti-spiritual. The inevitable result of that thinking is a lack of money. Resisting money just blocks the flow.

In Wallace Wattles classic book, he addresses that error in the first paragraph of Chapter 1 with the sentence quoted above. He says that we need money for soul development. Now why would he say that?

He said it from personal experience. Having lived much of his early adult life in poverty he knew that if we struggle every day for the necessities of life, we have little time or energy for other things.

When the choice is between soul development and putting food on the table, we know who’s going to win.

What was your emotional response to that quote? How did it make you feel? Your answer will tell you a lot about your real beliefs about money.

Here’s the way that the Universe works with our beliefs:

“You get to be right about that.”

If you have negative beliefs about money or rich people, you will drive money away, no matter how hard you work. If you do get some money, you’ll get rid of it as fast as you can. All because you think that in some way money is tainted.

Consider this. Some rich people are jerks. Some are generous philanthropists. The money is neutral. Why would you want to drive it away?

Do you have all the money you need for your soul development?

If not, there’s work to be done.

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React or Respond?

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“I am responsible for my reactions
to the events of my life, even though
I may not have created them.”
Howard Thurman

One of the ways that we punish ourselves and others is with the false assertion that we have attracted or created everything that happens in our life.

Do we have an influence on what shows up for us? Of course we do, but we live in a society of creative beings and we all interact.

We have to live our lives in a world in which others are creating their lives, too. Sometimes their creations and our creations are like oil and water, and don’t mix very well.

Our primary job is to keep our thinking positive and goal oriented, using the techniques I’ve written about many times.

But sometimes stuff happens. It’s not helpful to blame ourselves for problems that show up; as our quote says, what’s important is not who caused it, but how we respond to it.

We are 100% responsible for that!

If we respond with fear, anger, blame or other negative emotions we are just making it worse. Every problem has a solution and the calm, positive and optimistic mind has the best chance of coming up with a solution.

The name for this response is non-resistance. It’s the second Gratitude principle in the Gratitude ebook.

It just means that we don’t argue with “what is.” Arguing with what is” is like complaining that the sun doesn’t rise in the west. It’s futile.

So treat yourself compassionately and put your creative energy into your response to what happens.

It’s much more effective.

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How To Get Stuff Done

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“Efficiency is doing things right;
effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker

If you’re like most people, you have more than one thing to do. You have a bunch of little, easy things and you have a couple of big, complicated things.

It’s so easy to fall into the habit of doing the little things first. You can convince yourself that it’ll only take a short time and you can get those little things out of the way.

And at the end of the day, what have you gotten done? A few little things, and no big things.

Next day, same thing. So when are you going to get the big, important stuff done? There’s always going to be lots more little things.

Brian Tracy wrote a book about this called “Eat That Frog!” His point is that the big important tasks HAVE to be done first!

He say that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a big raw frog, the rest of the day will be easy!

When I remember this, I get stuff done. When I forget it, I get to the end of the day with the frog still sitting there.

It was the reason that I finally finished the 2010 Gratitude ebook collection.

I got up in the morning and worked on it until I couldn’t stand to look at another page to format. Then I finished the day with little things.

The next day I did it again, and the next day again, until it was done.

It feels really good to get stuff done. So eat the frog.

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The Power of Discipline

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“The person who can drive themselves
further once the effort gets painful is
the person who will win.”
Roger Bannister

Big wins in our lives don’t usually come easily, or everyone would have them all the time.

But that’s a mistake we all make when we see others score a victory. We see the victory but not the work that went into it.

One thing that successful people have is discipline. That’s part of the hard work, making yourself work when you don’t feel like it.

Bob Proctor wrote a book, “Born Rich,” which he later turned into a seminar and audio/video program.

He wrote the book while he was working full time. He told me that he got up a half hour earlier each morning, got a cup of coffee, and wrote for 30 minutes. Then he went to work.

It took him a year to write the book. Do you think he always wanted to get up and write? But he did it whether he felt like it or not. That’s discipline.

As our quote says, the ability to press on when quitting would be easy is the mark of the winner.

If you organize your life so that you’re usually working on things that are important to you, your dreams and goals, you’ll find that being disciplined is easier. Not easy, just easier.

What do you need to work on today?

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Make A Prison Break

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“As a single footstep will not make
a pathway on the earth, so a single
thought will not make a pathway in
the mind. To make a deep physical
path, we walk again and again.”
Henry David Thoreau

Every day by the choices we make we create our life. When we make the same choices every day, we become a prisoner, a prisoner of habit.

Although there are some parts of our habits that were suddenly created by events that had a lot of emotion or fear attached to them, by far the majority were created the way Thoreau describes them – one step at a time.

Our habits are really the outgrowth of our habits of thought. We build a pathway in the mind by thinking the same thoughts over and over.

So how do we change them? It’s not easy, but it is possible. We choose to think different thoughts and take different actions.

Not just once in a while, but every day, all the time. It takes time for the weeds to grow in the old path and the ruts to deepen in the new one.

Here’s how you can practice. Start by changing your routine when you get up in the morning. Do things in a different order. You’ll find you have to make conscious choices instead of running on autopilot.

Pick one of your favorite negative thought habits and choose to think positively about that subject instead.

Become aware of your habits and support the ones that support you, while replacing the ones that don’t.

Make a new deep path in your mind. You’ll be glad you did.

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What Do You See In The Mirror?

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“The body, like everything else in life,
is a mirror of our inner thoughts and beliefs.”
Louise Hay

Are you grateful for your body? I hope the answer is yes. After all, it’s your body that lets you enjoy this plane of existence.

If your first thought when you see your body in a mirror is criticism and not gratitude, you have some mental work to do.

Because, as our quote says, our body is just mirroring our thoughts about it.

It’s not only true for our appearance but it’s true for our health, too. It’s no longer controversial to say that our health is powerfully affected by our thinking.

The drug industry is complaining that they can’t get new drugs approved because when they test them against a placebo (sugar pill) the people with the sugar pill get well, too!

The belief that you’re taking a powerful new medicine is enough to motivate the body to health.

So appreciate your body in all its power. When you look in the mirror realize that in most cases what you see is your thinking being reflected back to you.

Love that person, and that body. It’s the only one you’ve got!

This time around, anyway.

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Why You Should Speak Your Truth

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“Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught me, as
few others could have done, that
standing for truth has consequences
and if you are not willing to pay that
price or run that risk, nothing you do
will ever be worthwhile. ”
John Shelby Spong

We all have times in our lives when we are given the choice to speak our truth, or not. Most of the time we can do that without having to suffer serious consequences for it.

That gives us an opportunity to practice. We get to boldly state what is true for us in the face of mild disapproval of some kind. This is not about criticizing or condemning others and their ideas at all. Just speaking our truth.

This can prepare us to have the courage to speak our truth when the consequences might be more serious. I think of the Chinese man who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He was speaking his truth in a powerful, but peaceful, way that was so courageous that it caught the attention of the whole world.

Our quote is from one of my heros, John Spong, who has taken a lot of abuse for 40 years for his work to move his church into the modern era with scholarship and inclusiveness. He’s written about how he was raised conservative and conventional but his experiences with people in his early ministry caused him to first question and then change his views. People’s religious beliefs being what they are, it’s no surprise that he wasn’t congratulated for his openness and spiritual growth, he was vilified as a apostate and traitor.

He’s telling us of his hero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran
pastor who took a stand against fascism in WWII Germany. The main Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church under Pius XII were either silenced or complicit, so Bonhoeffer had to write and speak his truth about the atrocities without anyone watching his back. Eventually he was arrested, and he was hanged by the Nazis just two weeks before his prison camp was liberated.

Both Bonhoeffer and the Chinese tank man illustrate for us the extreme limits that speaking our truth can sometimes ask of us. Their examples can inspire us to courageously speak out in what are usually much less deadly situations. It helps explain to me why Spong has been so fearless in the face of such awful resistance to his work that has even included death threats.

Spong’s message for us? If we are not willing to peacefully but firmly stand for our truth, nothing we do will ever be as worthwhile as it could.

I know that you want to make a difference in the world. You can start by noticing every time you keep your mouth shut because you’re afraid someone will disagree. I’m certainly not saying that we have to speak up every time someone says something we disagree with, just that on issues of real substance we should not be quiet.

We’re not looking to make other people wrong, just to say what’s true for us and to stand up for what we believe. As Edmund Burke famously stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”

So what can you do? If nothing else, you can speak your truth. That’s a big step toward changing the world. So do it.

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How To Be Happy

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“Happiness is the consequence of
personal effort. You have to participate
relentlessly in the manifestations of
your own blessings.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

At first glance, it appears that our quote is telling us that we have to work hard to be happy.

And we do, but not in the way that it might seem. Our hard work takes place in the mental realm first. We have to decide to be happy, no matter what our circumstances are, and train our thinking to agree.

That’s Gratitude Principle #3, from the Gratitude ebook. We can be happy, but not satisfied. We seek to be more, do more, have more good people and things in our life even though we’re happy right now.

And as Gilbert says, we have to participate relentlessly in the creation of those good things, the blessings. That means clearly visualizing them and taking action to manifest them.

Our happiness means that we are working from a place of joy, not need. The Universe is not fond of desperation and thoughts of need.

We create best from gratitude and joy. It’s not passive creation, it’s active work as we deal with the people, places and things involved.

So check your mood throughout the day. Are you choosing to be happy? If not, what mental thought patterns do you have to change?

Then change them. Smile, and enjoy your happiness. Create from that place of joy. You’ll be amazed how it works.

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How To Ensure Success

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“Nothing ensures success like ensuring
another’s success. And there is someone
who is looking for your help and your
support today.”
Neale Donald Walsch

None of us are in this life alone. We’re accompanied by a family of others, some of whom travel with us and some who just pass through our lives.

We make our lives so much more difficult when we think we have to do
everything ourselves.

One of the ways we can make our life so much easier is to look around
and see who we can help.

Somebody needs a helping hand or a word of encouragement. Somebody needs to know they are not alone.

You might be the one who has just the idea that they need to move forward on their path.

You’ll find that as you seek to help others, the Universe will respond with help for you. It usually won’t come from the people you help – it doesn’t work that way. But it will come.

And you’ll find as you help others that your own problems will start to shrink and your confidence will increase.

In the solutions of others, you may even find the solution that you need.

As a bonus, you’ll feel pretty good about yourself, too. Helping others does that.

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