Great quote…

I got this quote (slightly paraphrased) from an article by Niurka, a former corporate trainer for Tony Robbins and now a speaker, author, trainer in her own right…


A great Zen proverb …

… when you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice.
You do not get apple juice.
You get what is inside.

When you are squeezed by life’s pressures, what comes out of you?

It is often said (by motivational speakers) that diamonds are formed under pressure… but I like the idea of squeezing the best out of yourself.
What comes out of you when you are squeezed?
d.Mark “Dave” Wheeler

The Power of Habits

This morning I read an interesting article by Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin called “Habits Can Beat Goals for Improving Performance“. This got me thinking about the habits that I am developing on my way to being thinner (shrinking) and a millionaire (growing).

Of course what originally caught my eye in the article was the picture of me… or was it Arnold Schwarzenegger?

But seriously…
Here are some great points about Timing and Environment in the article …
Habits = Less Thinking, Less Stress
Wood and two other colleagues studied habits in everyday life and found that people who perform habits use less of their conscious thinking and have less stress when engaging in the habit compared to those who engage in a conscious, deliberate goal. Using exercise as an example this means that people who view exercise as a habit do so automatically – they don’t even really think about it; they “Just Do It” as Nike proclaims.
Wood and her colleague David Neal at Duke University have identified a theory of habit-goal interface. They propose three principles:
  1. Habits respond to environmental cues (same place, same time)
  2. Habits arise when people use a particular behavior to pursue a goal, and habits will remain even after people stop having that goal as a pursuit (the habit of running every morning can aim towards the goal of losing weight; running will be habitual even when the ideal weight is reached)
  3. Habits do not change to meet current goals; they remain linked to the environment in which they were created (running outside in the summer may not be transferable to running inside in the winter)
My (relatively) new habits…
I’ve been using the Time/Place Habit* (TPH*) theory to boost the likelihood that I will be consistent with my workout schedule. Currently, the first thing I do each morning when I roll out of bed is to check my computer while I begin putting on my workout clothes. Depending on how inspired I am by the challenges presented to me via email and how long it takes to finish them, I usually find a good place to take a break after an hour or so and go out for a run. So far, this habit has worked pretty well… it has been about 6 weeks and I am exercising at least 5 days a week on a regular basis.
* I needed my acronym fix today so I created “TPH” !

Since I work in my home office, I am able to “hit the kitchen” for healthy food more easily than “swinging by McDonalds” on the way to work. I can definitely see that my location (home) is helping me nail down my habit of eating better. (And I will need to be aware of the challenges when I leave the house for an early AM appointment.)
Mental & Emotional Simplicity…
The best part of the TPH Theory is that I don’t even have to think about exercise or eating healthy anymore. Actually, I should rephrase that… I have much less to think about since I’ve committed to exercising and eating healthy. It is like other habits… I just do it (and I don’t waste time thinking about (or stressing over) whether “I feel like it” or “is it too cold”).
Speaking of cold…
The “environment” here in Connecticut (the “Place” in the Time/Place Habit theory) is starting to get colder. I am finding that I do have to think about what to wear on my runs … but thanks to Senia & Margaret’s article, I know that I will continue to develop / evolve my “exercise habit” as I get “in the groove” for the Fall / Winter and adapt to my changing environment.
Special Thanks…
to Margaret and Senia for their article. Look for their upcoming book “Profit from the Positive: What Every Business Leader Needs to Know From the New Science of Positive Psychology”.
d.Mark “Dave” Wheeler
My other [mostly business] sites include…
www.NoteWordy.com (art / notecards / blog)
Original (Source) Images:
Arnold Schwarzenegger Abs courtesy of d_vdm

The Challenges of Success

Don't Get Stopped by HurdlesThe biggest myth about success today is that there is an “easy way”. The second most common myth is that “Success is hard and only special people can do it”. The answer lies in understanding how success can be easy & hard and anyone can have it.

“If I win the lottery, I won’t have any problems.”
That’s obviously WRONG. Problems don’t go away when you pour money on them. Some problems, like hunger, might be reduced in severity (temporarily), but they don’t go away if you don’t solve the underlying cause that created the problem in the first place. We have all heard the stories about people who won a large lump sum of money through a lottery and went on to end up bankrupt (or worse).
Are we destined to be poor if we start out poor?
What we rarely hear about are the people who won the lottery and were responsible with their money.

A study of 576 lottery winners from 12 states included winners of sums ranging from $50,000 to millions. The data indicated that winners did not engage in lavish spending sprees and instead gave large amounts of their winnings to their children and their churches. The most common expenditures were for houses, automobiles and trips. It was found that overall, winners were well-adjusterd, secure and generally happy from the experience. [The study by H.Roy Kaplan was funded by a grant from the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies in White Plains, New York and report in The Journal of Gambling Studies].

Clearly a good number of lottery winners were able to overcome the problems associated with the added wealth. (This is good news for those of us who are working towards becoming a millionaire.)
It has been said (and I agree) that if all the wealth in the world was taken away from the current owners and distributed evenly to all the people of the world, it would be back in the hands of the same people in less than 5 years (certainly in less than 1 generation).
Why is that?
“Success”, if you define it as more wealth or power or status, does not mean fewer problems… it just means dealing with different problems. Do you think Donald Trump does not have problems? Of course he does. He has had properties go bankrupt, he is on his third (?) marriage as I write this and I’m sure he is not an easy person to get along with if your ideas run counter to his (or at least that is my perception based on his TV show). And this isn’t even counting the problems he must face on a daily basis as he runs his real estate empire. Most of us can only imagine how he handles those problems.
Imagine the problems you will face on the road to wealth….
If you can begin to think about the problems (or challenges, as I like to call them) you will face on the road to wealth, you can begin to solve them now, rather than later when they could be much harder to solve.
For example, I knew that I would need to own my own company if I was going to get to the levels of income and wealth that I wanted. [If you don’t believe that the people who OWN the companies make substantially more than the people who WORK in the companies, send me an email explaining why at theshot92 [at] gmail [dot] com … it would make for another whole blog article.]
What are you tackling dummy?
So far, these are the problems / challenges that I have run into or expect to tackle on my road to wealth…
  • How do I create an LLC or Corporation?
    [Researched online. NewStartHomeBuyers LLC and Investanium, Inc. created 2009]

 

  • Where will I get the funding I need for my real estate investments?
    [Joined CTREIA, found seminars about real estate, discovered "hard money lenders" in addition to the ability to tap into 401K funds.] 
  • What do I need to do regarding taxes? Accounting?
    [In the process of getting referrals for a business accountant and tax attorney. Purchased legal structure home study course at a real estate seminar.] 
  • How do I generate business for my real estate investments?
    [Attended seminars and multi-day bootcamps to gather proven systems from experienced investors.]

 

What challenges do you foresee on your road to success? How are you going to prepare to deal with them?
The challenges don’t get smaller.
If anything, they get bigger and you must grow to meet them. You must step up emotionally and get out of your comfort zone. You must be coachable and seek out the knowledge that will allow you to overcome any obstacle placed in your path.
As the Star Trek saying goes…
Seek out [your] new life… Boldly go where no one [that you know] has gone before !
d.Mark “Dave” Wheeler

The Power of Connection

I just read an article on Wired.com and NYTimes.com that mentioned “new” research showing that obesity and happiness can be tied to your social network. Researchers used the Framingham Heart Study (a famous study about diet, health and weight control) and built a model of the social connections within the group of study subjects.

What did they find?
From the NYTimes article…

By analyzing the Framingham data, Christakis and Fowler say, they have for the first time found some solid basis for a potentially powerful theory in epidemiology: that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.

Christakis and Fowler have also written a book that I am looking forward to reading (or listening to on audio CD if available)….Connected… the book
Bottom Line…
You are influenced by the people you are connected to and if you want to change your outlook, you may want to consider changing your environment.
How can you use this information in your life?
What if you consciously thought about who you hang out with and chose to put yourself in new settings based on the people involved? That is one reason why I enjoy being a part of Toastmasters (a public speaking and leadership development organization). The people that join Toastmasters are the type of people who want to improve, are willing to try new things and regularly stretch their comfort zone. If hanging around these people helps a little of those qualities rub off on me… that’s a good thing !
Where else can you apply this?
  • Athletic events… these are usually attended by people who have a focus on physical health.
  • Real Estate Investment Associations… I’m a member of one in Connecticut and have found it worthwhile to be around people who want to make money in real estate.
  • Churches… if your spiritual growth is important to you, church events could be for you. I would suggest ones where there is interaction between attendees so that you can make stronger connections within the group.
  • Civic organizations… Toastmasters is just one example of like-minded people gathering together. Others include Lions Club (my grandfather was part of Lions for many years), Kiwanis club or others.
  • Schools… I lost an incredible amount of weight when I was in graduate school and I’m sure a good amount of that was due to the fact that I was around thin, athletic people all the time. Schools or continuing education are also good places to connect with people with an interest in personal development or a particular lifestyle that interests you.
  • Online groupsFacebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites might not offer as much interaction as face-to-face groups but they can definitely help you identify possible groups to join. Meetup.com is another great place where you can find groups online and then attend the meetings in person.

How has the “Connection concept” impacted my life?
First, it got me thinking about who is in my life now and who has been in the past. In terms of weight, some of my closest friends from as far back as high school are as overweight as I am while a surprisingly large number of my friends from Toastmasters and business interactions are much thinner than I am. I guess that means that I am going in the right direction. My ex-wife was thinner than I am and when we were together (and often eating the same diet), I was much thinner than I am today. The people I communicate with the most now are also in pretty good shape which means that either they are influencing me to be thinner (thanks!) or I’m influencing them to be heavier (sorry!).
I have begun to apply the concept to my business dealings as well. I am a member of the Connecticut Real Estate Investors Association (CT REIA) and have met a bunch of like-minded individuals (along with heard some excellent speakers). It is hard to say when or how this will pay off… I’m just convinced that it will.

What ideas do you have?
Please leave a comment below with ideas that might help our readers apply the “network effect” to their lives !
d.Mark “Dave” Wheeler

A Million is not what it used to be…

When I did a Yahoo Search for “Incredible Shrinking Millionaire”, the top listing (as of today, 10Sept09) is a post by Johannes Ernharth on his Vigilante Investor blog.


Here is a brief excerpt…

… In other words, when you watch a classic film from the 1930s or 40s in which the characters are all abuzz over someone being the local “millionaire” of the story, they were talking about someone with a whole heck of a lot more wealth than a comparatively measly $68,000-$81,000. They were talking about someone with 12 to 14 times what a million dollars means today. …

I guess that means that a million dollars per year cash flow is a better definition for “millionaire” than the old definition of someone with a million dollars worth of assets (although I am still working on the million in assets too).

The difference is that the “million in assets” is now only a milestone on the way to “a million in cash flow” !

Think Cash Flow !

d.Mark “Dave” Wheeler

Approaches to Creative Outsourcing

Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable and many other business books, had an interesting post recently about two different ways to outsource creative projects.  The two forms are “blank slate” vs. “inside the box” (although Seth calls them “clean sheet” and “strategic mission”).  The “blank slate” refers to a very basic set of instructions to the creative talent and relying on them to come up with something that you like while the “inside the box” refers to a clearly defined set of parameters for the project.

The strategic mission takes more preparation, more discipline and more difficult meetings internally. It involves thinking hard without knowing it when you see it. It’s also the act of a mature individual, earning his salary.

The clean sheet of paper is amazing when it works, but involves so much waste, anxiety and pain that I have a hard time recommending it to most people. If you’re going to do this, you have an obligation to use what you get, because your choice was hiring this person, not in judging the work you got when you didn’t have the insight to give them clear direction in the first place.

What if you could combine the two approaches?
Every project, at some point, is a “blank sheet” and the question is simply when you decide to bring a creative talent into the process.  The sooner you involve the talent, the greater chance you will get an outstanding result.

Why would you get better results?
Because people who wear the label of “creative talent” (whatever that means in your situation) have tools or ways of thinking that they bring to the table which are often outside the realm of “typical business”.  They are also a pair of objective eyes who can see your problem in a new light and question some of the basic assumptions that may be causing the problem or, at least, holding you back from achieving an outstanding result.

It’s not about the box.
While Seth Godin’s blog post kicked off the discussion, his short post didn’t really capture the full spectrum of possible working scenarios available when outsourcing creative project work.  Most creative types actually work well when they are given “a box” to work within and the best actually rise to the challenge of finding a creative solution that fits.  On the other side, if creativity is applied to the creation of the box the results can be, in the words of Seth Godin, “amazing”.

What’s worked for you?

D.Mark Wheeler
Founder,

Values and the 10-10-10 concept from Suzy Welch

SuzyWelchHave you heard about the 10-10-10 idea (as discussed in Suzy Welch’s book by the same name)?  

Have you ever had a difficult decision to make and needed some way to put your alternatives into perspective?  To take away some of the confusion from all the options and consequences that were swirling around in your head?
The basic idea of Suzy’s 10-10-10 method is to use 3 time horizons as a decision making tool.  

What would be the implications of your decision in 10 minutes (near term), 10 months (mid term) and 10 years (long term)?

If you watch the video of Suzy on the Today show with Matt Lauer (clip is available on Suzy’s website), she mentions the importance of understanding your values as part of the 10-10-10 decision process.

“Thinking about those consequences in each of those timeframes is not as powerful if you don’t bring your values to it.  How do I want to live?  It is not a device.  It is a way to shape your life and that happens when you bring your values to it.”

Do you know what your values are?  Are you living your values?

If you are wondering what your values truly are, click here to learn about a”tool” under development called Value Discovery™ Cards that help you identify values that you are currently living as well as the values that you want in your life (but may not currently have IN your life).   

If you have a good handle on your values… you can use the 10-10-10  method to help you make better decisions !



Creativity all around us…

Did you realize that there are opportunities to boost your creativity all around you?

One aspect of creativity is the ability to see things in a different way and because we often get into a rut where we simply do things the same way over and over again without thinking about them, it is important to break your pattern.

Take your living space for example. Do you always sleep on the same side of the bed? What would it feel like to wake up on the other side of the bed some morning? (Assuming someone is not already there … although that might be interesting too!)

I noticed this phenomenon when I used one of my guest bathrooms today. I rarely, if ever go in there, but it gave me bit of a shift of perspective and helped me generate this blog post.

I know what you are thinking … Shift Happens ! (or were you thinking that this post should be flushed?)

Seriously though… when was the last time you opened your eyes to the new experiences all around you? Take a new route to work … or come home “the long way”. Whatever it is, it will help rejuvenate you and… in the end… it will boost your creative energy !

Give it a try !

d.Mark Wheeler

“I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost quotes (American poet, 1874-1963)

Top 5 ways to name your company

As any entrepreneur starting out knows, the name you apply to your business is a critical part of the startup process. Sure, you could change the name later, but you are probably going to invest in business cards, signs and a website based on the name you come up with for your company so you would prefer to do it right the first time.

Here are the top 5 ways to come up with name for your new company (in no particular order)….

1) Brainstorm associated words based on the vision you have for your company. This is a good exercise because it may also help you clarify your vision at the same time. Once you have a list of words associated with your vision of the company, you can brainstorm words associated with those words. The key is to not filter yourself prematurely… let the words flow because a poor word may lead you to a better word which might lead you to the perfect name for your company.

1a) Word combinations sometimes expand the possible name choices but try to stick to two word combinations at the most. Multiple words start to sound like a sentence and while that may make it easier to find a matching website name (longer names are less likely to be taken), it will sound less like a company and more like a tagline.

2) Naming Software is available that can help you generate name options. These are usually based on a powerful thesaurus and maybe even a search function to see if names have been taken. Examples include NameRazor, NameBuilder and others.

3) URL searches now include alternatives to your selected terms and they can offer ideas for alternative names. Since you will want to own the “dot com” web address for your company (and probably some of the variations on the main site’s name), it is good to do a quick search based on some of the words you came up with in your brainstorming sessions.

4) Umbrella vs. Specific Names sometimes trip up some companies. An umbrella name may sound “grandiose” or give the impression of a larger company than you really are (e.g. Worldwide Plumbing or Global Cleaners) but you should be careful not to confuse your customers, especially if your business will be local. Specific names can also limit you since they tie you into a specific location or product. If you name a shop “Nuts R Us”, it may be difficult to expand into other foods or hardware (depending on what types of nuts you are talking about). In general, I tend to lean toward the larger names as long as they give a good impression of the market you are trying to serve.

5) Focus Groups are another way that you can expand the possible name choices. These can be used to test possible names (if you have time) or they can be done informally to expand the brainstorming process. In any case, be aware that you are probably dealing with a very small subset of your customers or potential customers so there is a real chance that they may not represent the feelings of the majority of your customers. (Especially if your family is part of the group.) Be careful with Focus Groups!

In the end, it is your decision and it is one that you will probably have to live with … or at least pay for.

Nothing says that you can’t change the name of your company or create a new company but the effort that is put into getting a great name from the start makes the whole process of building your business that much more enjoyable.

Create a better world !

d.Mark

Additional Resources:
Trizle.com (http://www.trizle.com/topics/684-how-to-name-your-company)
This site also includes ideas for what to do once you have a name for your company.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition by Al Ries

Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer