Friday, 30 December 2011

The Sovereign Debt Crisis, i.e. WWIII

Michael Lewis is a very popular author so you might actually be familiar with some of his other works, such as The Big Short, Liars Poker and the Blind Side.

"Boomerang" is a review of the sovereign debt crisis. This is a global problem that 90% of Americans are clueless about.  This problem combined with the U.S. debt has the capability to be as fatal to our society as a third world war. Yikes.  Our government is trying to kick the can farther down the road so they don’t have to deal with it.  Michael Lewis' book will open your eyes to the issue from a few of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) perspective.

Why is this important to me? I think the answer to that one is pretty clear, seeing as I just compared the sovereign debt crisis to WWIII. But really, this is a real crisis and it is everyone's problem. Unfortunately, with herd mentality comes the slaughter.  I recommend you get educated on this and start protecting
yourself! As usual, I've picked out a few key points to go into detail with...

1. Doom / Gloom – I am not a "doom and gloom the world is ending" person, but logic dictates that the debts accrued by the US and the European Union can not be sustained.  The question is – what happens when the defaults start? You really need to get educated and start protecting yourself. That is the most important.

2. Savers are Losers – Robert Kiyosaki from "Rich Dad Poor Dad" (have also reviewed) always says that savers are losers. He does not mean this as a derogatory statement.  What he means is that $1 today is the equivalent to 4 cents in 1913.  This means that the dollar has lost 96% of its value.  So if you keep your savings in dollars then you are losing money due to inflation.  In 2008, 100 year old
institutions were sold in a weekend (Merrill Lynch).  MONEY AND CURRENCY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS and it makes sense to protect yourself so that you do not have counter party risk.  What this means is that if your money is in the bank, and there's a bank run, then you have counter party risk.  If you own real money like Gold or Silver, there is no counter party risk.

Michael Lewis travels the world and investigates the sovereign debt crisis by talking and seeing the effects first hand.  The book is a good story, I only wish it was fiction. Kyle Bass is the investor who shorted the big banks and predicted Fannie Mae would go bankrupt. He made millions of dollars by shorting the mortgage industry. When asked what the average person should do to protect themselves from the potential
financial carnage, he says buy Guns and Gold.  This is a scary prophecy from a guy who got it right once.

Look around and listen to the politicians.  President Obama in August raised the debt ceiling right in the last hour to AVOID CATASTROPHIC consequences to our economy. Those words are powerful but I guess the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is more important?  The U.S. masses are sleeping while this is going on.  Remember that the first thing Hitler did with his population is take away the guns before WWII? The bankers and Wall Street are taking away the value of our currency and nothing is being done to fix it.  There have been countless domino effects happening right in front of us and the only politician who remotely understands it is Ron Paul.  Unfortunately he will not be elected, but if he was, he would fix it.
The fixes involved will be painful.  Greece, for example, WILL DEFAULT because you can not change a whole culture of people overnight.  The GREEKS do not pay taxes.  They are suppose too but it is culturally acceptable to not pay your taxes and there are no consequences if you don’t.  In America, we were paying an average sales person $32 million per year to trade garbage securities.  Most of these traders would starve if they sold technology solutions yet they made millions of dollars while leveraging our future and country.  The mortgage bubble and derivatives can be blamed on less than 100 people.  A select few created these leveraged instruments and we are still caught in the middle of bailout talks.

Question – if you are drowning, does it make sense to throw more water on you?  If not, then why is the only solution to our debt problem, more debt?  This picture sums it up.  What the U.S. proposes is to increase spending and hope the economy grows. The current solution looks like this – you make $43,000 per year and have $78,000 in credit card debt thus the logical answer is to open another credit card to pay for the credit card debt.

We are borrowing money from China so we can fight in Afghanistan and Libya. – Unbelievable!!!

Anyway, that's enough for today. I hope you all have a fun and safe New Year's Eve. See you again in 2012!


Friday, 23 December 2011

The Marketing Edge & Small Biz

"Real-Time Marketing and PR" by David Merriman Scott

I picked up this book as Borders is going out of business.  This is no reflection on David as I would have purchased the book at full retail as well.  The title of the book intrigued me because our enterprise software platform is a “Real-Time” application and that is a unique advantage for us.  Thus the title hooked me to read the book.  I am glad I did.

If you are in a marketing position or have a business of your own then you need to read this book.  The tools and mind set of real time marketing levels the playing field and actually gives the small guy a huge competitive advantage over the big guys. Real-Time marketing is just that.  It happens right now and you need to understand the mindset to take advantage of it.  Remember that with social networks like  Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and Google+, you are only three levels away from 1 million people.  Things travel fast regardless if it is positive or negative. When you are dealing with an opportunity to make money then real-time marketing is critical to capitalizing on it.  David demonstrates several examples in the book. Likewise, when you have a crisis and you bury your head in the sand then bad things happen. Most large organizations are buried under bureaucracy and do not move in real time.

For the sake of time, I am going to cover three points.

1. Real-Time Attitude – Successful business today moves at the speed of NOW.  I know this sounds cliché but it is true.  In the book David talks about a musician named Dave Carroll.  He was flying United Airlines and they broke his guitar in baggage.  Worse then that he saw them do it.  After doing all the conventional methods to have United solve the problem and fix his issue, they refused.  Dave, in
turn, created a song about the debacle and posted it to YouTube. This YouTube video has gotten 8.5 million views.  Now the Real-Time attitude portion of this is how Calton Cases created a Dave Carroll addition case to protect guitars while you travel.  Calton was smart enough to make a product, promotion and deal with Dave while the iron was hot.  United on the other had no idea about Real-Time marketing and said nothing.  They were getting flamed with bad service and the bureaucracy of the company got in the way.

2. What are people saying about you this instant?  The internet and Twitter are 24/7.  It is imperative to know and understand what is being said about you and your brand.  This allows organizations to take advantage of sales opportunities as well as customer issues.  When a crisis hits then you can be out in front of it and humanize it.  This is one of the big problems with larger companies.   They can be far removed and cold.  Online tools can change all that and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

3.  Real-Time Communications Policy – Does your company block Facebook and Twitter?  This is sure sign that they have no idea on the benefits of Real-Time Marketing.  Now, you also can not let your staff run free and post whatever they want.  Remember that everything on the internet leaves a digital footprint so you need to have guidelines.  IBM has 400,000 employees and encourages them to get involved on  Blogs, Twitter and other sites.  Think about trying to regulate this.  Well, in IBM fashion, they do a great job because they have the policy outlined to cover everything that is needed.  I recommend this for all companies because this will help keep legal and executive management from having heart attacks and give employees the freedom
to engage the market.

It is obvious that David is a pro.  Real-Time Marketing and PR is a great book and gives you a road map if you want to implement strategies for your organization.  He covers the Why, What and How aspects involved in getting it done. Thanks for reading. Have a great day & Happy Holidays!


Friday, 16 December 2011

The Business of Life: Business is Booming (If You Want)

This week we looked at "The Business of Life" by Christ Brady & Orrin Woodward. Let me start by saying this: It is time for people to proactively take their futures into their own hands. We are in trying times with the world economy and global challenges. The world will be a very different place in ten years. The question becomes this: Will you be left behind or will you create your own destiny? The personal debt of U.S. citizens is very high, so I understand that answering this question may seem like a pipe dream. 
Most people I speak with are busy treading water and can’t even think of crafting a life plan because the bills and debt burden are too heavy to escape. What is the answer? The key to happiness and freedom is hard work and the right business. I know money does not make the world go round, but it provides the grease that keeps the wheels turning. Money and stress are inversely proportional. I understand that Fortune 500 executives live with high stress, but at the same time they are not worried about their next meal. The poor live with much more stress.

Orrin and Chris chat about the 4 main growth industries that provide for business and growth opportunities. We'll take a look at those here...
1. Personal Development – This market is a multi-billion dollar industry. Personal Development products do work, but face problems where the execution of the material is concerned. Most people buy products like P90X which work really well, but they forget to actually do the behavior. This provides for a real opportunity to help and an excellent potential business.

2. Networking – Networking provides the power of franchising without the costs. The book "EMyth" states that 80% of businesses fail in ten years while 75% of franchises succeed. The main reason is franchise businesses are systems businesses. This means that everything is scripted and there is very little room for error. You can walk into McDonalds in New York or California and everything is the same. Systems businesses provide for scalability. Networking is similar but the startup costs are non-existent. The key here is to find the right leadership and company to partner with.

3. Life Coaching – Most people will not invest in a Life Coach. This is a real shame because the biggest way to success is to associate and emulate people who have already done it. Sharing great content and providing direction is a huge business opportunity. Check out, it provides free tutorials and has received more than 150 Million YouTube visits. This site provides real value that is actionable.

4. Community Building – Building communities is critical in the information age and much easier than in the past. Good content is the key to building communities. This is still hard work, but the benefits are worth it. In the software business, the size of the community is more valuable than the actual Intellectual Property. Examples of this are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 
To wrap it up, I'll leave you with this quotes from Albert Einstein: "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Take Yourself to the Bank

You need to go where the money is. That's the bank. "Bank on Yourself" by Pamela Yellen describes a strong financial method to having money flow into your economy instead of out of your economy. These principles are very sound and work.

Why is this important to me? People today do not have robust savings. The savings rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has ever been. The financial community has been pitching 401K plans, 529 Education plans and other retirement vehicles. The problems with these instruments are numerous. People who wanted to retire in 2008 couldn’t because of the financial meltdown. Traditional banks utilize fractional reserve lending and with the debt crisis at historic levels, there is risk with the largest banks. Stocks have been a rollercoaster ride and the insiders have done well, the little guy – not so much

This book is full of testimonials of people who have utilized the system. What I am going to profile are some of the high level, long term strengths of this system.
1. Insurance– The vehicle to creating your own banking system is Whole Life Insurance. I know that Dave Ramsey and Suzie Orman pooh-pooh insurance all day but the fact remains that this is the safest vehicle out there for investing and with discipline can be the best. Insurance is guaranteed tax free growth and has been around for 200 years. These policies are 100 years older than the IRS. Using this vehicle to create a banking system would have eliminated all the bust cycles that have plagued the economy in the last 25 years

2. Taxes & Liabilit – Any financial plan has to be full cycle meaning that if you get sued, you will not lose your fortune. This is the case with insurance in most states. If you are a doctor and get sued, they can NOT touch your life insurance banking system. Taxes yield another huge advantage to this system. You can take a loan from your policies to buy a rental property and at an interest rate and write the interest off just like a typical mortgage. The strongest concept is that you are paying yourself back. The volume of interest goes to you and not the bank. Just like any business, it takes time to build up these reserves.

3. Habit– The key concept to remember is that if you finance purchases then you pay interest. If you pay cash for your purchases then you give up the interest. If you pay yourself the interest with your own banking system then you can achieve compound results. It is said that .34 cents of every dollar goes to interest expense. The critical point here is to understand that the “volume of interest” is what is important. In a conventional mortgage, the first 10 years of payments almost all go towards interest. That is the secret money maker for regular mortgage banks. The habit with this system is that you have to pay yourself back just like any creditor. The only reason this system will fail is if you steal from yourself. I cannot stress this enough, you have to pay yourself back.
I have touched briefly on this subject but I suggest strongly that you study it and implement it. You can check out other resources on the site for more information. I want to give you a personal example of the power of this system. I have been using it since 1999 and each year my policies have grown and the money has allowed me to buy other businesses. (My insurance banking system has not been affected by the Tech bust of 2000 or the financial meltdown of 2008. They have grown every year because it is guaranteed growth.) This strategy has allowed me to capitalize my own business without traditional banking loans. This is a big deal and the key to Economic Value add. 
Banking on Yourself is a long term strategy. If you are looking for a quick investment fix then this is not the tool for it. I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is cash is always flowing. The real question is where. The goal is to have it flow to you. And you can take that to the bank! 


Thursday, 1 December 2011

You're a Media Outlet

In lieu of the shortened Thanksgiving week, "Smarter, Faster, Cheaper" by David Garland has been the focus of our content for the past 2 weeks. At the bottom line, this book is about branding yourself and becoming a true thought leader. The good news is it takes almost no money to “go viral” in the social media world. This is truly a road map for David vs. Goliath. We can be just as effective as the big advertisers on Madison Avenue and create a more loyal following where genuine interaction is key.

David's book is broken down to 16 power-packed chapters. Since I don’t want you to fall asleep in the middle of reading this post, I will touch on the three I thought were the most important.

1. Selling Sucks: I'm talking about the old school pushy stuff. This does not work today. Think about it. If I cold call you and ask you to buy Widget X there is a 99% probability that you will not buy and be upset. If your neighbor tells you that you need to have Widget X because it is awesome, then selling becomes easy. When you're a thought leader and utilize Business Social Media, people come to you for help. Thus you do not have to sell; they will simply buy.

2. Be Your Own Media Source: This is important because it is the most elusive. People think you need to have a ridiculous amount of schooling in order to be a content provider. This is just not the case. If you have passion and like to learn then you can be your own media source.  The key is to give and help in the "area" you know.  You can start by creating how to: videos, audios and white papers. However, do not sell anything when providing this content. That's the whole point. When they're ready to

buy, they will come to you. This creates a community.

3. Tapping into the Power of Online Video: Video is powerful. With Twitter, YouTube and Facebook you can make video interactive and start two way conversations with your target markets. It's an excellent tool that lets you focus on your niche. Sure you can eat 200 hotdogs in 2 minutes and film it, but it won’t help your business even if 1,000,000 people view it. You want "viral" to happen in your niche. It's through these tools that you can create and identify niche markets for your business.

The ONE thing to take away from this book is that you can easily be a content creator and provider. Start by carving out 15 minutes of your day and writing. Even if you write like a 3-year-old, like I do, it doesn’t matter. The key to this is to start and do it daily. Write about stuff that you are good at and passionate about.

If you liked the content of this post, be sure to check back weekly for more businesses-targeted content. Please do not hesitate to pass this along and if you want to purchase David's book, there is a link on the Success Progress site. Thanks for reading and have a great day!