Archive for June, 2009

TGIM #208: Fifty-Six Signers — Plus One

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Geoff Steck’s
THANK GOODNESS IT’S MONDAY  #208

FIFTY-SIX SIGNERS
– PLUS ONE

On the Fourth of July I like to think about what the Declaration of Independence means to us in these “modern” days. So, once again, I’m posing –

An Independence Day Challenge for you: Make your declaration.

As I have in every TGIM I put out at this time of the year, I encourage you to take time between the hot dogs and fireworks and whatever to re-read (or read for the first time) the document those 56 signers pledged themselves to. I vote for reading aloud and sharing the duties with family and friends.

TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: To do this you don’t have to be Nicolas Cage and steal the original National Treasure … or dig out your old American History textbook … or slog through Thomas Jefferson’s 18th Century handwriting, (though it’s not that difficult and there’s something extra inspiring in the original document). Print out an easier-to-read printer-ready copy from the National Archives.

And as you read, consider:

Would you have signed this Declaration?

Some of you may be old enough to remember –

In 1975-6: The People’s Bicentennial Commission sent out ten pollsters who asked twenty-three hundred federal employees to endorse a paragraph that read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …” They came up with some rather startling results in a survey.

Maybe you guessed: Sixty eight per cent of those approached not only did not hold these truths to be self-evident but in fact found them decidedly subversive and refused to sign. Forty-seven per cent of those polled did not recognize the passage as part of the Declaration of Independence — but of those who refused to sign, 83 per cent did recognize it.

More modern history: A decade or so ago, in a survey conducted in New Hampshire, one of the original 13 colonies, only six of every ten adults knew we celebrate the Fourth of July because it commemorates the signing of this document.

As the prolific thinker and writer Norman Cousins (1915 –1990) observed:

The American Founding Fathers — the writers and signers of this remarkable document — believed deeply –

  • in the ability of a human being to learn enough in order to take part in self-government;
  • in the capacity of people to make sense of their lives, if given reasonable conditions within society itself;
  • in the responsive power of men when exposed to great ideas;
  • in people, to stand under the due process of law;
  • in man, to make basic decisions concerning his religion or his politics or anything else — again, given  the conditions that made this possible.

There were 56 signers of the document we treasure. These few days before we celebrate the document they inscribed it’s interesting to take a look at the composition of the group and note what we today have in common with them.

  • They were of varied backgrounds, ages and experience.
  • Some were already famous – Franklin, Adams; some were unheard of, recruited at the last minute as replacements for men who refused to support independence from England.
  • Two of the signers were only 20 years old; sixteen were in their 30s; twenty in their 40s; eleven in their 50s; six in their 60s; and only one, Franklin, over 70.
  • All but two were married. Each had an average of 6 children.
  • Twenty-five were lawyers; twelve were merchants; four were doctors; one a preacher; and the old, famous one could call himself a printer.
  • Half were college graduates; some were self-educated.

There’s more – much more – to note about them, of course. (There’s a spectacular recap of “who was who” among the 56 and what became of them HERE.)

For our purposes: Allowing that it was the 18th Century and they were all white men, the “nutshell” summary above covers enough bases to lead us to this –

TGIM Takeaway: Could this, with the added advantage of 21st Century diversity stirred in, be the makeup of, say, your local Chamber of Commerce … or Networking group … or PTA … or 14 people who live each way from you in the four compass directions — immediately North, South, East and West?

Sure it could. This was America. And it is America at its best.

Listen, America: This July 4 please take time to remember that the freedom we celebrate was hard won by people just like you and me — and how easily it can be lost. In 1776 few of the 56 benefited from their bravery, but not one recanted his original declaration of independence.

Hats off to all the American people. And to celebrate this July 4 I’m joining the signers of the Declaration of Independence HERE. Will you, too?

Geoff Steck
Chief Catalyst
Alexander Publishing & Marketing

8 Depot Square

Englewood, NJ 07631
201-569-5373
tgimguy@gmail.com

P.S. One more patriotic note. You can probably recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But did you know that, in 1918, Congress adopted The American’s Creed which its author, William Tyler Page, described as “a summing up, in one hundred words, of the basic principles of American political faith. It is not an expression of individual opinion upon the obligations and duties of American citizenship or with respect to its rights and privileges. It is a summary of the fundamental principles of American political faith as set forth in its greatest documents, its worthiest traditions and by its greatest leaders.” Here it is:

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

P.P.S. The driving principles of the Best Year Ever Program are much like the message of this TGIM: You must be responsible for your success … Change comes from within … All improvement begins with self improvement. To dig deeper, check the information at the right.

GEOFF STECK leads Alexander Publishing & Marketing, a company he formed in 1986. The core AP&M mission: To create and publish leadership, sales mastery, self-improvement and workplace skill-building resources and tools. The focus: Areas such as business communication, staff support, customer care and frontline management. Geoff also puts his corporate and entrepreneurial experience, independent perspective, and skills as a catalyst to work for other firms (ranging from multinational corporations to more modest operations), not-for-profits, and individuals who have conceived or developed programs or initiatives but are frustrated in getting them implemented.

TGIM #207: Worse Than Swine Flu? PLOM Outbreak Detected!

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

ARE YOU FEELING A LITTLE ANTSY about the H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu) which continues to make headlines, particularly in major metropolitan areas?

The idea plagued my thinking recently. I confess that my concern about contracting some contagious malady did click up a notch or two for me recently.

Reason: I spent many busy days full of handshaking and close talking among tens of thousands of visitors and exhibitors at, not one but, two multi-day events at Jacob Javits Convention Center in the crossroads of the world, Manhattan.

And it was there I detected a little-reported outbreak of a malady that may be as pernicious as H1N1 spreading among the attendees.

TGIM EPIDEMIC ALERT: To inform yourself about this outbreak and learn how to safely immunize yourself and those you care about from this scourge, let me state the case for you here.

P.L.O.M. runs rampant in New York!

As I worked my way from exhibitor to exhibitor at Javits I found an almost universal trace of PLOM in the folks I talked with.

You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. As visitors stopped at my home base, virtually every one exhibited the telltale signs and behaviors of infection. And since the folks I met came from around the nation and the world, I think we can conclude the contagion is global!

While PLOM is not a new disease, the particular strain I encountered seems to have evolved into something virulent and its contagious aspects threaten even previously immune and robust individuals.

With my usual dedication to bringing you the facts I tried to dig back to find the origins of PLOM but came up with nothing definitive. But I think some of the previously discovered remedies can still counter the dread disease, if you’re willing to apply them.

So first, let’s spell out the basics.

PLOM stands for
Poor Little Old Me” disease

My old mentor John Beckley, founder of The Economics Press and longtime publisher of business-skills training and motivation and inspirational material, first made me aware of the childhood form of the disease. He told this story:

Years ago, when a childhood friend of ours was in a foul mood, and complaining bitterly about almost everything, her mother would, sooner or later, interrupt the proceedings.

“Melinda,” she would say. “It seems to me that you’ve got a bad case of PLOM.” Then she would send Melinda to her room with a paper and pencil to write down a list of things she ought to be thankful for. When the list was long enough – and when her attitude improved enough to satisfy her mother – Melinda would be allowed to rejoin the group.

The conclusion that Mr. B reached: We all, adults as well as children, occasionally overemphasize the bad side of things and underemphasize the good.

Certainly some folks more than others. Yet the fact is we all have things to be thankful for. It’s also a fact that, practically no matter what the situation, it could be worse. So if we do for ourselves what Melinda’s mother enforced for her, we should get a better perspective on things.

Helen Keller, who certainly knew adversity, counseled: “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.

Now, about the PLOM epidemic sweeping through Javits Center:

I hear you. It’s been a rough year – maybe longer. No doubt “The Business” … “The Economy” … “The Politicians” … maybe even “Life” … have dealt you a bad hand. Perhaps you’ve lost customers, money, family or health.

I get it. Everybody enjoys wallowing in a little self-pity. It makes us feel better to remind ourselves how terrible the world is … how we’ve not been given the right opportunities … how people are against us … how life has been a real struggle.

I sympathize. No doubt you (and I) have had undeserved blows and missed out on many opportunities.

But here’s an axiomatic –

Secret to Happiness:
Don’t believe everything you think

Yes, you’ve got reasons to think that fate really HAS been unfair to you. But feeling sorry for yourself and whining about it is not going to help the situation. PLOM thinking and behaving like a victim only sinks you deeper into the quicksand of apathy.

Think about this: It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you handle what happens to you that makes more of a difference in your life.

Q: Are you really the kind of person who can’t do anything about the things that happen to you?

If you’ve read this far, I doubt it. So stop feeling sorry for yourself and actually GO and DO something about it.

TGIM ACTION IDEA: Turn your attention to the things you really appreciate: Favorite daily moments. Interesting ideas. Attractive sights. Stimulating experiences. Funny incidents. People who brighten your day. Think about these things. Write them down. And appreciate all of the stuff that you can appreciate.

TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: Here are a few more PLOM-countering suggestions to help you combat the dread disease and maybe even inoculate yourself with happiness and joy so a more “healthy” mindset becomes the dominant factor in your daily routine and life.

• Let the future be the future and the past be the past. Live in the “now” as much as you’re able.

• Focus and work hardest on your own life and your own path forward. Let go of judgment, resentment, criticism, blame. Let others have their own experiences and lessons.

• Take a personal inventory. Would you exchange your work … your eyes … your freedom … the people you love … the people that love you … for things to be better? Define “better.”

• There is always someone else worse off. Practice random acts of kindness. Or not-so-random. Give of yourself to someone whose need is greater. (Wasn’t “The best way to forget your own problems is to help someone else with theirs” one of TGIM #206’s Universal Rules?)

• Make some time just for you. Step back. Get “quiet.” Go within. Pray or meditate. Listen to what some might call “your higher self” wants and needs.

• Do the Melinda’s-Mom Drill. Make a list of something/someone you are thankful for. You don’t have to stay in your room until you’re called. Start with one person and one thing you are grateful for each day and build on that.

• Add your new-and-improved PLOM-resistant attitude to the items on your list.

There. That makes me feel better about those lousy days stuck in Javits with all those whiny people. (Just joking. In fact I thank them for bringing these TGIM strategies back to top-of-mind awareness for me. See. It works.)

Geoff Steck
Chief Catalyst
Alexander Publishing & Marketing
8 Depot Square
Englewood, NJ 07631
201-569-5373
tgimguy@gmail.com

P.S. So-called Swine Flu is real enough and I don’t mean to make light of it in this TGIM. It was recently declared a pandemic. In our home state of NJ and in neighboring states it continues to take lives and in this hemisphere it’s not even the flu season. Just plain seasonal “flu” claims over 35,000 lives in the USA each year. So let’s take this opportunity to recap some basic flu prevention measures.

TGIM ACTION IDEA: First and foremost, hygiene works. Wash your hands. Keep your environment clean. Watch for symptoms and don’t ignore them. Stay home until you’re symptom free. Get plenty of rest and exercise to keep your immune system strong. Eat a healthful diet. Sunlight provides system-supportive Vitamin D. Finally, relax. Like PLOM, flu feeds on psychological stress which produces a weakened immune system. “The preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality.” The English philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) posited that.

GEOFF STECK leads Alexander Publishing & Marketing, a company he formed in 1986. The core AP&M mission: To create and publish leadership, sales mastery, self-improvement and workplace skill-building resources and tools. The focus: Areas such as business communication, staff support, customer care and frontline management. Geoff also puts his corporate and entrepreneurial experience, independent perspective, and skills as a catalyst to work for other firms (ranging from multinational corporations to more modest operations), not-for-profits, and individuals who have conceived or developed programs or initiatives but are frustrated in getting them implemented.

Eric's Instant Inspiration – 6/17/09 – I Will Persist Until I Succeed

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

FYI #162/TGIM #206: A Special Message Today

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Dear High Achiever:

“WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT TODAY?” YOU ASK? Well, before we attempt to Inspire you this morning, I want to acknowledge some changes in the format of today’s FYI / TGIM that you may have already noticed:

Starting today, we’re hoping to give you a more informative, inspirational and engaging experience throughout the summer and the remainder of 2009.

Thank Goodness It’s Monday will be the featured stand-alone article. Geoff Steck, my friend, editor and collaborator on the Best Year Ever! System has successfully delivered intelligent, motivational and educational TGIMs for the last 205 weeks, each Monday. (Duh. When else?) Geoff has a great business mind and is a life-long student of achievement and personal development. He is also a very talented writer.

• My commitment is to inspire and energize you every Wednesday “live” via video with my Instant Inspiration FYI – For Your Information and Inspiration.

Here’s why we’re changing the format:

Some of you know that my friend and father-in-law Poppa Ray recently died. His life and his death has motivated and inspired me more than any other major life event, other than the birth of my five children.

So, this summer I committing to myself and Poppa Ray to finish a book project I’ve been working on for the past 3 years. It’s about my experience producing the seminar Empower New Jersey on September 29th 2004. Christopher Reeve was the keynote speaker on that memorable night. He died ten days after the event and his words of inspiration changed my life forever.

To honor Chris, Poppa Ray and my commitment, I’m dedicating my writing time to finishing the book.

So, with that as groundwork, below is Geoff’s TGIM. And I will see you “live” this Wednesday with my latest Instant Inspiration video.

Eric Taylor is the Chief Inspiration Officer of SelfGrowth.com and founder of New Jersey based Empowerment Group International. He delivers more than 100 energized and interactive keynotes, workshops and seminars each year to corporations, associations and tradeshows. He is the author of the Energy Passport, Co-creator of the Best Year Ever! Success System and Co-author of The Complete Sales Training Encyclopedia. To get complete details about Eric’s background, his products and services, visit Eric Taylor’s Blog and review Eric Taylor’s Profile.

Thank Goodness It’s Monday # 206

UNIVERSAL RULES TO LIVE BY

DO YOU HAVE RULES YOU LIVE BY? Of course you do. We all do. Some are so basic and ingrained that we don’t even notice them.

Examples: The absorbed-in-childhood rule for crossing the street: “Look both ways!” Or the underlying imperative present in virtually every mainstream religious teaching, the so-called Golden Rule: “Do unto others …”

As good as those rules are, our successes are built around other Universal Rules we incorporate into our lives and our philosophies and aspire to live by.

Example: The fundamental Rules of Self-Improvement –

#1: It will be difficult.
#2: It will be worth it.

Got it? Great! So a good rule for getting even more from this TGIM is to click through here for more Universal Rules To Live By:

The Universal Rule of …

• Time management: Make the time because you’ll never find the time.
• Happiness: Don’t seek happiness. Create it.
• Laughter: Be able to laugh at yourself.
• Winning: The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.
• Preparation: Dig the well before you’re thirsty.
• Sales: Stop selling and start helping.
• Overcoming adversity: The best way to forget your own problems is to help someone else with theirs.
• Getting what you want: Ask for it.
• Dealing with others: Patience.
• Goal setting: Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll end up among the stars.
• Risk taking: If you don’t take a chance, you’ll never stand a chance.
• A successful product or service: Be first, best, or different.
• Fitness (or healthful living, or weight loss): Eat less and exercise more.
• Overcoming procrastination (aka The Nike Rule): Just do it.
• Starting the day off right: Say “Good morning!” even if it isn’t.
• Being a great student: Ask good questions.
• Being a great teacher/leader: Keep being a student.

Were these useful rules for you? Did they make you smile … or say, “That’s true” … or at least bring some long “forgotten” rule you’re guided by back to top-of-mind awareness?

TGIM ACTION IDEA: Share please. Post a blog response. Or reach out to me directly at tgimguy@gmail.com. It would be cool if your Universal Rule can be stated concisely like these. But it’s not necessary. We’d love to read your rules and maybe even include them in future TGIMs or FYIs. Just tell your story to the best of your ability. And if you have a source or attribution, please share that. Thanks.

TGIM IDEA IN ACTION: Here are just a two more Universal Rules about Rules that should guide our thinking:

• The First Rule of Rules: There’s usually an exception to every rule – including this one.

• The Last Rule of Rules: Reading these or any other rules is not enough. If they are to work for you, you have to use them.

Geoff’s personal rule: Everything happens for the best – for those who make it happen. (EHFTB-FTWMIH.)

Make it happen.

Geoff Steck
Chief Catalyst
Alexander Publishing & Marketing
8 Depot Square
Englewood, NJ 07631
201-569-5373
tgimguy@gmail.com
P.S. “Rules are made up for people who aren’t willing to make up their own.” Famed test pilot Check Yeager said that.

GEOFF STECK leads Alexander Publishing & Marketing, a company he formed in 1986. The core AP&M mission: To create and publish leadership, sales mastery, self-improvement and workplace skill-building resources and tools. The focus: Areas such as business communication, staff support, customer care and frontline management. Geoff also puts his corporate and entrepreneurial experience, independent perspective, and skills as a catalyst to work for other firms (ranging from multinational corporations to more modest operations), not-for-profits, and individuals who have conceived or developed programs or initiatives but are frustrated in getting them implemented.

FYI #161: What Is Your Hourly Rate?

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Dear High Achiever,

IF YOU BREAK DOWN your current annual salary or annual commissions, what are you worth per hour in the marketplace?

If you stopped and calculated the number, you probably had one of three reactions:

Ouch…
Cool…
or
I Quit!

So now you’ve got that number. My next challenge for you, and it’s an important one to ponder, is:

• Are your daily actions and behaviors of less value than your hourly rate?
• Or are they of greater value?

Provide more value and be valued more. The marketplace doesn’t care what you need. It’s the marketplaces perception of value that counts. The marketplace pays you the value of the product and service you provide.

Let me give you an example: If you’re a commissioned sales person with the potential to earn $250,000 annually — but you’re doing activities that a person getting paid $7.00 an hour could do for you — you need to re-evaluate your activities. You don’t get to put “potential” in your pocket.

Speaking of market place perception: When was the last time you drank a “New Coke?” Oh right, that was 1985 when it was introduced and wildly and widely rejected by the public. Got “Classic Coke?”

Let’s get back to your money and your hourly rate.

The marketplace doesn’t know the word entitlement. It doesn’t exist.

Since its graduation time, I’m reminded of the classic story:

At the end of a job interview, a human resources representative asks a recent MBA graduate, “What starting salary are you looking for?”

The grad replies, “In the neighborhood of $150,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.”

The interviewer says, “Well, what would you say to a package of six weeks’ vacation, 20 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary and a company car leased every 2 years — say, a red Ferrari?”

The MBA grad sits straight up and exclaims, “Wow! Are you kidding?”

And the interviewer replies, “Yeah, but you started it.”

Graduating from college, grad school or med school doesn’t entitle anyone to $150,000 a year, a new Ferrari and a paid vacation or any of that. Remember: If you want to earn more you must provide more.

Personally, I don’t believe in being compensated for my time; I believe in being compensated for my results. Now don’t get me wrong, my time is very valuable and I absolutely put a high price tag on it. When I am booked to speak at a seminar or conference, I have a fee.

But my mindset in business and in life is that it’s best for all concerned if the bulk of my compensation is linked to the value and/or the revenue that I create or generate. I want to be compensated for my results.

That arrangement focuses my concentration. When that’s the way the deal is structured, all of my activities during the course of my day during “money-time” are in alignment with providing value and driving revenue through sales and service.

• When I provide a product or a service to one or many and they are ecstatic about the value, I get paid.
• When I don’t bring value to the marketplace, I don’t get paid.

You’ll often hear people argue about the amount of money that professional athletes make. I agree that some of the salaries are ridiculous, so ridiculous I wish I was earning that much too!

It’s simply who supplies more. Who provides greater value. Who creates bigger and better results. Just ask the television networks.

More people would be watching the NBA finals if Lebron James and the Cavaliers were playing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The networks could charge E-Trade more money for a 30- and 60-second commercial simply because more potential consumers would be watching.

More people watch a golf tournament when Tiger Woods is playing. The television networks, ESPN and the world love Tiger Woods and he makes big endorsement bucks because he supplies more … provides high entertainment value … draws more viewers who translate into bigger and better results for advertisers.

What value do you provide? I want to challenge you to creatively think about how you can increase your value to your employer, your customers and to the marketplace.

FYI Takeaway: Raise your own bar by consistently bringing high value to the marketplace and you’ll surely increase your hourly rate, your net worth and your self-worth.

Make this Your Best Year Ever!