Friday, December 20, 2013

Axiom 44: Networking


"The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work." -Robert Kiyosaki

"Poverty, I realized, wasn't only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself." -Keith Ferrazzi


Networking is one of the most critical things that everyone should do that somehow doesn't get the priority that it deserves. This world really is about who you know just as much as what you know.

So why don't people put more emphasis on networking if the potential payback is so great?

I believe there are a few misconceptions that put up an internal barrier preventing active, outgoing networking: 

The first misconception is networking appears to be something that only extroverted, smooth-talking sales people can be great at. The truth is that we all meet new people in business each and every week. Just take a little extra time to reach out and remember these people and make sure that you are memorable in their minds as well. Being sincere will go along way and you don't need to put a sales pitch on everyone you meet just to win them over.

The second common misconception is that it requires a good amount of time and resources to become a great networker  The truth is that now with the advent of online sites like LinkedIn networking is free and easy. There are also more traditional networking opportunities in the form of joining industry organizations, attending trade shows, visiting customers or vendors, receiving trade magazines, and so on. Many employers are willing to cover the costs of these traditional networking activities if they see a benefit to the company from it.

The third misconception is that you need to network with really successful people to see results. The truth is that we all started at the bottom. Networking at the bottom will pay off eventually. The man or woman you take the time to help when they are starting out may be indebted to you someday if they become successful down the line. Everyone is trying to move up in this world so don't devalue a connection because of their current experience.

Really successful people have numerous connections across multiple industries. Make today the start of trying to actively build your professional network. If you do this successfully you'll never find yourself without a job, without a client base, without a favor you can call in, and most importantly you'll never find yourself without the resources to bounce back in tough times.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

My Review of Katz's Deli in New York City


Until this year I had been to New York a couple times before but never made it to Katz's Deli. 

"I've been to Carnegie Deli, that's close enough," I thought. 

This trip was going to be different. I was going to go out of my way and head down to the Lower East Side to Katz's to see what all the buzz was about.

I left the touristy glitz of the Theater District and caught the F train down to Houston Street. The neighborhood looked a little sketchy. Still I continued a to walk a couple blocks over to Katz's where I saw a long line around the building. This was a good sign.

In line the I overheard someone saying this place was a tourist trap. After about a 10 minute wait I got inside to what reminded me of organized chaos. I was handed a pink ticket and told to get in one of the six lines to order. The place was packed.



I was a little put off by the crowd, the confusion of the whole process, and the comment that I overheard in line that I was at a tourist trap. I was starting to expect disappointment.

Then I got to the front of the line and ordered a pastrami sandwich on rye. The guy cut me a sample piece and gave it to me. "Holy S**t!, Amazing!"



Then the guy next to me in line said, "I'm from Queens. When I want the good stuff, the really good stuff, this is the only place to come."

And he was right. This sandwich was amazing. Better than any other sandwich I have ever had. It was worth the trek out here. All I could think was that I was glad I didn't cop out and go to Carnegie instead.

So if you're in NYC mark this down as a definite stop for lunch. This place has been around since 1888 and they are still here with a line out the door for a reason!

Katz's Delicatessen - 205 E. Houston Street - katzdeli.com 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Axiom 43: Serendipity Through Meditation


"Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice. Better than knowledge is meditation. But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace." -Bhagavad Gita

"Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.
-Swami Sivananda


Many successful people meditate. Steve Jobs meditated. Many large companies in silicon valley now have meditation rooms. Meditation is no longer a religious activity or some obscure backroom hobby - it has gone mainstream. So, should you try it?

For one, meditation offers you a stress-free release from the world. It allows you to clear your mind, relax, and gain mental clarity and control. It teaches you to block out the useless noise in our modern world.

Some of the other side-effects may not be noticed for weeks. Solutions to problems may just come to you as you get use to clearing your mind to focus in a different way. You may notice that the things at work that use to stress you out no longer bother you.

It all sounds great, right? So how do you meditate?

Here are a few beginner guidelines:
  • Block out about 30 minutes 2-3 times a week to start.
  • Find a quiet spot where you can comfortably sit up straight on the floor with your legs crossed.
  • Buy a meditation music soundtrack from Itunes to listen to while you meditate.
  • Close your eyes, have controlled deep-breathing, and clear your mind.
You must remember to totally clear your mind. Try not to think about anything. It can be really hard starting out to do this but practice will improve this. Just focus on your breathing and concentrate on the area between your two eyes - this helps keep the mind clear.

Try meditating for at least one month and judge the results for yourself. You should find that your overall stress and problem solving skills will improve.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Axiom 42: You Are What You Wear


"Good clothes open all doors." -Thomas Fuller

"You'd be surprised how expensive it costs to look this cheap." -Steven Tyler


In 1971 the Stanford Prison Experiment took a small number student volunteers and put them into the roles of prisoners and prison guards to see what would happen. The goal was to research the causes of prisoner / prison guard conflict. After just a short while the students internalized the roles so much they had stepped beyond the predicted behavioral bounds to create some borderline dangerous situations. So much so that the experiment was stopped early.

I would argue that the Stanford Prison Experiment proves the power that clothing can have over human behavior. The students dressed as guards started to internalize the authority that wearing a badge gave them. The students dressed as prisoners started to internalize the savage and reckless behavior that wearing a prison outfit exudes.

It makes me realize how important clothes are in how we are treated by the world and how we feel about ourselves. Ever put on a good suit or nice dress and felt like a million bucks? Did you feel like people treated you with a little more respect?

A few years ago when I would go out to my favorite local bar I would always run into a guy who simply called himself "Big Time". (That's his picture with me above). Every time I saw him he was always wearing a different handmade suit. I saw at least 20 different suits over the course of the few years I would run into him. He told me he only would only wear a suit for one night only. Pretty interesting, huh?

If Big Time had just worn a t-shirt and jeans every time I saw him I would have probably never noticed him. Other people would not have noticed him. He would have blended in the crowd. He wouldn't have got the admiration and respect that he did. 

When Big Time walked in to a place people were excited to see him. I looked forward to seeing what new suit he would be wearing. People would shake his hand and offer to buy him a drink. Ladies ran up to have their photo made with him. He was a local celebrity.

and it was all because of the way he dressed. Get my point?

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Predictions for 2020


The documentary Transcendent Man is a great look at what the future might be like for us. In the documentary Ray Kurzweil talks about the snowball effect that technology has on itself that allows exponential and rapid growth in new technologies.

While 2020 seems like such a long way off here are some of my personal predictions of how life will be different:

  • Wearable tech is the norm - Google Glass and smart watches are in their infancy. By 2020 it will be more normal to check your watch for a text message than to pull your phone out of your pocket. Wearable tech will totally sync with your house, car, phone, and watch. It will be commonplace to use smart devices to make payments, unlock doors, adjust lighting, and other menial tasks from one centralized smart network.
  • Cloud ownership over physical ownership - By 2020 I predict cloud ownership will be more normal than physical ownership. Photos, documents, music, movies, will all be in the cloud and lead to the ultimate death of removable media and physical storage.
  • Driverless Cars - Self-driving cars will be a reality for the at least some of the mainstream population. The only hold up will be because of new regulations needed to work out the legal kinks. By 2020 at least some main roads and freeways could possibly be okay-ed for self-driving vehicles. Ultimately as the technology advances self-driving cars will be the norm on all roads and greatly improve traffic flow without having to add more traffic lanes.
  • Improved Night Vision - Night-vision car windshields and prescription night-vision glasses my be available by 2020. Researchers have made great advancements in night vision technology over the last few years that will allow everyone a chance to use night-vision in a useful way in their daily lives.
  • 3D Printing - By 2020 many homes will own 3D printers. This will be the death of many factories and brick and mortar retails stores. Instead of buy a wrench from Home Depot you'll probably be able to log on you their website and buy a "digital" wrench you can print right at home. Traditional regulations will get much more complicated as outlawed products like some weapons will be able to be printed at home.
  • Extreme Personalization - We are already seeing personalized results from Google & Facebook - more about that here. The days of a "one-size-fits-all" mentality are ending. Instead by 2020 more products and services will be tailored to your individual likes and dislikes. Databases will store and remember your preferences and will shape your interaction with the world.
  • Change in Shopping Patterns - Amazon has started slowly rolling out its home delivery service in a few cities nationwide. By 2020 many people will be using this service, or one similar, instead of going out to shop. Huge distribution centers are being constructed now instead of huge shopping centers. In 2020 people will order groceries and other basic items via their computer, TV, and tablets for same-day home delivery. The days of fighting crowds at the mega-store are coming to an end.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Axiom 41: Reciprocity


"In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us." -Flora Edwards

"It is better to give than receive." -Unkown


I was channel surfing late one night and came across one of those Christian shows asking for donations. The preacher was talking about the Biblical teachings of reciprocity. Reciprocity means whatever you give to God he blesses you back tenfold. 

I didn't connect the concept of reciprocity and business until I read The Education of Millionaires. The book talks about giving unto others without requesting anything in return. Sometimes this can backfire if you give to a person who is a taker by heart. Surprisingly enough though, this seems to be the minority of people. Most people are so taken aback when you give to them without asking for anything in return that you often get paid back exponentially in the long run by establishing a strong personal connection.

This Axiom will be a short one. Make it a point to share with others without asking for anything in return. Share knowledge, time, resources, connections, and you will find that in time the same will be shared with you. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Axiom 40: Color Psycology


You've probably never heard about a little something called color psychology but we're all subjected to it subconsciously every single day. Colors affect everyone emotionally and color psychology reveals the secrets of how we can use color to our advantage.

This is not a quack science. Casinos have used color psychology for years to design table games, slot machines, and the ambiance of the casino floor to get you to part with your money more easily. Politicians use color psychology to dress in a way that helps them identify with their audience and convey a specific tone to their message. Big corporations use color psychology to reinforce brand messaging and create an emotional connection with customers.

What's quite interesting with color psychology is that meaning of colors can vary among cultures and also change over time. A color that has one emotional response here in America could have the opposite response in China. Furthermore, like fashion, the popularity of colors changes over time. Some advertising and PR firms conduct studies and release color psychology reports ever year.

So how can you use color psychology to your advantage?

The biggest impact you can have personally is to make sure your clothes communicate the right message with color. You don't need to worry about this everyday, but you should keep it in mind for any important client meetings, job interviews, etc.

So what color should you wear?

There is a great guide to all colors and their meaning here. Generally the two best colors to wear when it counts are red or blue. Red is a power color and conveys strength, passion, action. Red can also have a negative meaning in some situations and convey aggression so wear it sparingly. Red is a great color for job interviews and new business ventures. Blue is usually the most well received color and conveys calmness, control, and deep thinking. Blue is a great color for important client meetings.

And there are many more uses beyond red and blue. Do a little research for yourself and you'll find that color can influence the message you are trying to convey. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Five Websites that Can Change Your Life


The Internet is a glorious place that can actually help you become successful and finish your projects if you know where to look. Below are five fantastic website that you should be using.


5. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) - LinkedIn is now the world's greatest networking website. With over 200 million members this is a great place to make new connections. This is not just a website people come to that are looking for a job. This is a website that you can use to connect with customers, follow companies, network with new business contacts, discover new products, follow market trends, and so on. The benefits are almost too great to mention and best of all a basic membership is free.

4. Elance (www.elance.com) - Any task that can be done at least 80% as well as yourself should be delegated. That's where Elance comes in handy. If you have a project you are working on and need a little help why not hire someone else to do the heavy lifting? Elance allows you to post a project you want done and allow freelancers to bid on it. On the flip side Elance is also a great site if you are a freelancer looking to make some extra money.

3. AppSumo (www.appsumo.com) - AppSumo is a great little site that sell various products designed to make your career life easier and make you more successful in the process. You can sign up for their very non-intrusive daily email offer that will send you new product deals. Most of their products are very affordable and very effective.


2. TED (www.ted.com) - TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It is a website with a vast collection of video clips from some of the brightest people imaginable on a wide variety of topics. New videos are added constantly and it is guaranteed that you will find something that peaks your interest.

1. Lynda (www.lynda.com) - Lynda is a monthly subscription based website that has in-depth video tutorials for almost every piece of software on the market today. If there is any piece of software you have ever wanted to know how to use Lynda is the best place to go. Reading software books can be tedious and confusing. Instead, save yourself the frustration and watch Lynda's videos of someone using the software in real time.




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Axiom 39: Success in the Sales World


"A smart salesperson listens to emotions not facts." -Unkown

"Don’t sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do." -Ben Feldman


I've been in sales for years now and have learned a few valuable lessons on what works and what doesn't. The funny thing is that when I started out in sales I felt really uncomfortable with selling and my ability to sell. As time when by my success increased and it became much easier. Much like everything else in life after about 10,000 hours of real world sales experience things started to click.

At one point or another in life you will find yourself selling something. It may be a product, or it may be selling yourself to get a job or an opportunity. No matter what it is that you're selling, here are a few insights about sales that I have picked up over the years:

  • Have a positive, confident, "can do" attitude - Customer's want to know what you can do for them, not what you can't do. Take charge and let them know that everything will be alright when they are dealing with you.
  • Solve the customer's problem - Every customer has a problem that needs to be solved. It is your job to figure out what that problem is so you can make the sell. In some cases this can mean giving the customer what they need, not necessarily what they want.
  • Know what you are talking about - Make sure you know what you are selling. The deeper the product knowledge the more you can leverage the sell.
  • Be ethical and honest - Do what you say you are going to do. Don't risk ruining your reputation just to make a sale.
  • Streamline your process - Use the resources you have to make sure you respond to your customers quickly. Service with the least amount of effort as possible needed to maintain a strong customer relationship.
  • Identify the person with the purchasing power - This goes back to Axiom 16: Talk to the Lion. Don't waste a lot of your time with people that don't have the power to buy from you. Find out how to get to the decision makers.
  • Follow through - Always follow up on a potential sell. This separates good salespeople from great salespeople. You'd be surprised how many more sales you can make simply by following up.
  • Network - Work to build a network of connections. As your reputation builds your network will begin to sell for you by referring customers to you.
  • Every sales call has an ROI (Return on Investment) - Your time is your most valuable asset. Don't waste time with customers or sales where there is little or no return. It is okay to dump bad accounts if you can fill that time with good, profitable customer accounts. Raise the prices on the bad accounts to make them either go away, or make them worth the time and effort involved.
  • Measure your results - If you quantify and measure all aspects of your sales process then you can see patterns emerge to help you become a better salesperson.

It is interesting to note that I wrote this above blog post before I became involved in a sales training class from Sandler Sales Training. They teach many of these same concepts above. I would recommend this class for anyone that heavily relies on sales for their career. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chocolate Soda Review: Chocolate Coke, Canfield's Chocolate Fudge Soda, and Coco Fizz


I like chocolate and I like soda. It sounded like a good idea for me to put them together and see what the end result was.



Chocolate Coke - I went to the store and got some chocolate syrup and coke. I figured that the flavor of Coke would naturally lend itself to chocolate syrup. I mean it does have the word coca in its name after all. I mixed them together and was underwhelmed by the flavor. The chocolate hits you more as an aftertaste. Overall the feeling is more like a stomach ache waiting to happen. The taste is not overtly bad but not something that I would be ever craving again.


Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda - Not ready to concede the idea of a tasty chocolate flavored soda I came across this brand on Amazon. I had gone through the whole process of ordering, receiving, and drinking and entire can of this stuff before I even realized it was diet. As you can see from the picture on the can above the word "diet" is almost invisible, and who would have guessed anyone would even make a "diet" chocolate soda anyways?

That being said I really despise the flavor of aspartame no matter what the brand. I was not a fan of this drink other than the pleasant chocolate aroma it had. I went back to order the "non-diet" version of this drink but it appears Canfield's does not offer one.


Coco Fizz Chocolate Soda - Still not ready to give up I found Coco Fizz by the Durango Soda Company. The flavor of this soda was lighter and more palletable than the first two. The ingredients tasted like they were of a high quality, which makes me curious to try the other soda flavors the company offers. Overall I reached the conclusion that this was probably the best one could hope for in combining chocolate and soda flavors. Still it's not something I would probably be craving ever again.

....but... the story doesn't end there. I was about to write this article and proclaim chocolate sodas a failure when I had the idea to make a chocolate soda ice cream float.



I'm glad I tried it because it was absolutely delicious! The flavor is very unique and was worth the time and trouble of this journey to discover. A great ending to my chocolate soda journey.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Axiom 38: How Do You Define Success?


"...But...to sing,
to dream, to smile, to walk, to be alone, be free,
with a voice that stirs and an eye that still can see!
To cock your hat to one side, when you please
at a yes, a no, to fight, or- make poetry!
To work without a thought of fame or fortune,
on that journey, that you dream of, to the moon!
Never to write a line that's not your own...
-Edmond Rostand, Cyrano De Bergerac


So why have I made it all the way to Axiom 38 before I attempted to define for you what success is?

Let me try to explain....

Your specific definition of success will vary widely depending upon your current situation and where you are on your path in life. I would argue that most people see success as being manifested in future tense as material goods only. This I think is an incorrect mindset to have.

Success is the accomplishment of one's goals in a way that allows you more control over your resources and ultimately more control over your life. This control if done correctly should result in a higher quality of life, happiness, and the ability to influence your destiny.

The Axioms I have presented until now cover a wide variety of "resource building" topics to help you increase your awareness and help you gain control of what resources you have available to you. You have to become self-aware of your own situation and resources before you can figure out how to leverage long-lasting success.

The road to success is largely different depending on if you are younger or older. If you are younger the key to success is to aggressively dive in. Travel, read, experience, and learn as much about life as possible so as to become aware enough to avoid costly potholes early on that could be detrimental to success later in life.

As a young person intelligent choices are key and have vast consequences later in life. I like to think of these choices like a ship sailing from Europe to the new world. In the beginning of the journey small directional changes require little effort and produce a big changes in your final destination. However, further into the journey it requires huge changes and lots of effort to change course and change your destination. Keep this in mind as you make decisions as a young person.

As an older person success can be achieved by using the resources your already have. If you're not sure what these resources are go back through the previous Axioms and stayed tuned for the upcoming ones. We all have more resources available to us than we might initially think. Use the resources you have and create a snowball effect by building upon them to help reach the success you want.

And no matter what, stop every once in a while and examine the successes you already have in life. Realize that success means more than the amount of money you want in your bank account tomorrow.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Axiom 37: What is Your Legacy?


"Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day." -Billy Graham

Recently I watched an excellent documentary on the History Channel called, The Men Who Built America. This show is an absolute must watch for anyone interested in what it takes to become successful. It is a historical account of the great early American capitalists: John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and a few others.

It was interesting to learn that as rich as the early American capitalists were they were also very generous with their charitable donations. Today we still often see their names even decades after their deaths. This brings up an interesting topic of what it means to have a legacy.

If you stop for a moment and ask yourself, "What do I want my legacy to be?", you might find that the answer probably has little or no relationship to money. We often get so caught up in tying money to success that we often overlook the bigger picture.

One day you'll be gone and what will remain? The memory of how much money you had in your bank account or the effect you had on the lives of others?

Now I know it sounds weird I am mentioning the success of early American business people while preaching that money is not important but hear me out. When it came down to it and these guys made their fortunes they then looked to see what good they could do in the world. They gave a lot of their money away and ultimately changed their legacy in the process.

So I ask you again, "What do you want your legacy to be?" It's not something that can be crafted in a few days, weeks, or months. It's something that takes your whole life to define. It is the sum of the work of your life, good and bad. It is the quality of your friendships, family, and actions. It is the one question you can answer that will help you align all goals underneath. The one question that will not be fulfilled until your last day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Brew Your Own Beer


For most guys brewing beer at least once in their life is on their bucket list. After successfully completing my first couple batches of home brewed beer with the help of my brother-in-law I am here with a few tips and tricks for anyone that is thinking about giving it a try.

Tip #1 - Buy a Brew Book: Buy and at least skim through a good book on what it takes to brew your own beer. There is a great one called How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time

Tip #2 - Buy the Right Equipment: Brewing beer takes a little bit of upfront investment in good quality equipment. Don't cut corners on equipment to save money. If you're brewing your own beer just to save money from buying store bought beer keep in mind that it will take a while to make back your investment money. After you pay off the equipment you'll be able to brew good quality beer for around $.62 per 12oz, or cheaper, in ingredients. It helps if you can also find a good local home brew store to go to.

Tip #3 - Set Aside the Time to Do it Right - It takes about four hours to do the initial batch, and then two weeks later it will take another 4-6 hours to clean and bottle. The whole process takes about four weeks.

Tip #4 - Clean Everything Thoroughly - The main thing that can spoil a batch of beer is by not cleaning everything properly. Make sure that sanitation is your number one priority.

Tip #5 - Use Good Water - Good tasting water helps make good tasting beer.

Tip #6 - Take it Easy - Start off easy with a kit that has all the ingredients prepackaged along with a recipe. Once you get the hang of everything then you can try something a little harder.

Cheers!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Axiom 36: The Problem of You


"The way we see the problem is the problem." -Stephen Covey

"A problem is a chance for you to do your best." -Duke Ellington

A problem is an opportunity, not a setback. For too long people have blamed problems on others. I'm here today to tell you most of your problems are opportunities in disguise.

Everyone has troubles in life from time to time, but ultimately it is who you blame for those troubles and how you react to those troubles that defines your world.

Don't get me wrong - everyone deserves help when they're in trouble. The problem is when some people continuously blame other people instead of themselves for all of their life's woes. By blaming other people they give away control of the situation. It creates this perpetual mental state of negativity and misery. They instigate a continuous cycle of bad luck that they think they have no power over.  

For example - let's look at the mentality of someone who blames them self for an impending foreclosure versus someone who blames everyone else.

First, the person who identifies them self as the problem:
"It's my fault this foreclose happened. I should have put at least 20% down on the home so my payments were lower. I should have had six months of savings in the bank. I should have bought a house I knew I could afford. I'll try to find some temporary work I wouldn't normally do so I can try to pay my mortgage until I can get a job I really want again. However, if they foreclose my house I know what I need to know to keep this from happening again."
Now here is the person that blames everyone else as the problem:
"The bank and the government shouldn't have approved my home loan knowing I may not be able to afford it. It's their fault they didn't require a bigger down payment. Everyone deserves a home. It's in society's best interest to bail me out since they created this mess to begin with."
People that think they're being oppressed, people that feel they're entitled, people that believe in bad luck, they all tend to see the glass as half-empty. The people that view themselves in control of their problems view the glass as half-full. They're able to accept the blame and make constructive criticism against themselves.   

So the next time something bad happens blame yourself first for a change. Ask yourself what you could have done differently to avoid that situation. You'll learn more when you admit you're the problem, not someone else. 
 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Axiom 35: First & Best


"If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in." -The Law of Category from the book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

"If you ain't first, you're last." -Ricky Bobby


Do you know who was the second person to walk on the moon? The team that came in second in last year's Super Bowl? The second person you kissed? Remembering firsts is easy, remembering seconds is a struggle. 

Society tends to remember the first person to do something new and forget the people that follow in that same path. That's why you should try to be the first at something. It doesn't always guarantee success, but it does help your chances a lot.

First, find your USP (Unique Selling Point). This is the thing that makes you number one in a particular category. If you're not sure what your USP is take a little time to do some self-reflection. Everyone has a USP you just have to figure out consciously what yours is. Once you have identified your USP then create a category and market yourself as a first.

Here are some examples defining your USP and becoming #1:

  • John is an independent accountant. There are thousands of accountants in the city John lives in and he struggles to find clients as a general accountant. John also has knowledge of industrial manufacturing and import/export laws. This additional experience is John's USP. John then markets himself as the only industrial manufacturing accountant in his city with an emphasis on import/export accounting.
  • Sherry graduated with a film degree. She always wanted to work in Hollywood but the never got a break. Her father owns a dry-cleaning shop and pays Sherry to shoot a commercial for local TV. Next thing you know another shop in the same shopping center sees the commercial and hires Sherry to do a commercial for them also. Now Sherry is known for being the #1 person in her community for filming local TV spots.
  • Jack starts a local grocery store in his city. Before he knows it a huge big-box grocery store opens nearby and he starts losing business. Jack decides he can't compete on price, but he can compete on service and gourmet products. This is Jack's USP. Soon he is running ads touting, "less crowds, faster checkout, quality high-end products". Pretty soon the wealthier people in town choose Jack's store over the "heard of cattle" approach the other store takes.   
Once you set your self apart from the crowd and become first at something everything becomes easier. Doors open, people remember you, people want to do business with you, and so on.

If you want to read more on this idea and other great ideas pick up a copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Friday, May 24, 2013

An Idiot's Guide to Luxury Watches


Anyone involved in a white-collar line of work should be somewhat familiar with luxury wristwatches. For the few business people that spend money on a nice watch they will no doubt be impressed if you spot it and say something like, "Hey, nice watch! That's a Panerai isn't it?"

The most common luxury watch brands you'll encounter are Rolex, Cartier, Panerai, TAG Heuer, Breitling, and Omega. They all look distinctive and are fairly easy to spot. For those of you interested in buying a nice watch yourself please do your research and buy from a reputable source. Fakes are numerous and you can get burned easily. If you want to save money you're better off buying used from a reputable pawn shop or jeweler than from a fly-by-night internet sight.

There's a great book that comes out yearly called the Wristwatch Annual. It has pictures, prices, and details for all the latest watches on the market. This book is great for anyone looking to train their eyes to easily identify any luxury watch out in the wild or for anyone looking for a thorough buyer's guide.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Axiom 34: Dare to be Great


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."  -Theodore Roosevelt
In 2002 I was finishing up my undergraduate degree here in Texas. My goal at the time was to work in entertainment PR in Los Angeles. I knew it was going to take something special for me to break through the pile of rèsumès and noticed. I had one PR firm in mind in Beverly Hills that I really wanted to work for so I put together a plan to get noticed.

I flew from Dallas to Los Angeles with a briefcase and rented a car. I drove straight to where the  PR firm was on Wilshire Boulevard and walked into their office. I acted like I was with a courier service and I dropped off the briefcase and a letter for the president of the PR firm. I even had the secretary sign a fake delivery log.

What happen next was a thing of beauty. The president read the letter. In it I introduced myself and asked for a chance to work there. At the end of the letter I gave the combination to unlock the briefcase, 777.

Once he opened the briefcase he saw posted inside my rèsumè and a quote from Benjamin Franklin, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." The rest of the briefcase was filled with fake $100 bills banded with the PR firm's logo.

It made a strong statement and they called to set up an interview. That's were the good part of the story unfortunately ends. Being that the cell phone technology of 2002 sucked compared to today the message was lost. I didn't realize what happened until I got back to Texas and read and email from them saying that they loved the stunt and had called me to set up a meeting. I tried to reschedule but they wouldn't respond. Opportunity lost.

Looking back things turned out for the best. This experience taught me that taking chances can pay off. Don't be afraid to do something big. Sometimes things will still go wrong but in the long run you'll be glad that you took the risk.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

5 Skills You Can Study to Change Your Life


Are you stuck and not sure what to do with your life? Below are five skills you can start learning that may lead you onto something bigger and better. They are five skills that pay dividends and transcend multiple careers.

5. Learn a Second Language - Learning a second language increases your vocabulary. It makes you a better thinker. It opens you up to new cultures. It introduces you to new people to do business with. It opens up new travelling opportunities to you. Once you master a new language you'll always be of higher value in many situations. A free site to check out is www.memrise.com 

4. Work on Your Computer Skills - Take a little time each week to learn something new on the computer. A great website that has video tutorials is www.lynda.com. Learning computer skills helps you learn new shortcuts you can use at work. It helps you learn problem solving skills. It helps you learn how to accomplish big projects by yourself. Starting and running a company, designing a product, marketing products, shipping and distribution - they can all be done by one person and a computer with a little know how.

3. Practice Writing - Writing is a skill that gets better the more you do it. Set aside some time each week to write. You can do it via a blog, a personal journal, or as a freelance writer. Great writing skills will help you become better at expressing yourself. You'll become better at negotiations and pitching products. You'll be a more effective communicator, especially in the new business environment of emails.

2. Networking - Joining groups and reaching out to people is a great way to open up new opportunities. Go out of your way to help others without any expectations of anything in return.

1. Sell Something - Find something to sell. Sell something on Ebay. Sell something on Craigslist. Just practice selling. Start a business and sell something on the side from your daily job. Everything in life comes down to selling, so practice it as much as possible.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary!


Two years ago The Axioms of Success was born from a long dream of mine to finally write down many of my ideas and life experiences. I couldn't be more please how things have turned out so far. 33 Axioms down and many food experiences later and I feel like I am just getting started.

As I am writing I often think, "Where does this all end? What is the final Axiom?" I'm still somewhat unsure but for now I have notes for at least 60 axioms - each one adding to the personal toolbox needed to accomplish one's dreams.

Thanks to all of you who visited and took the time to read my thoughts. I'm looking forward to this coming year being busier than the last. I am in the prime of my life and my passion for learning has taken on an accelerated pace. 

It's been a long road traveled but there is still a long way to go.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Axiom 33: Change Your Handwriting, Change Your Life


Whether you knew it or not, your handwriting tells a lot about who you really are inside. When you write in cursive your personality flows out into your handwriting. I first became aware of this after hearing a radio interview with handwriting expert Bart Baggett. At first it sounded like quack science but I was interested enough to investigate the handwriting of some people I knew to verify that there was validity to what he was saying. 

The first big thing I noticed is that women and men have different writing styles. They both think differently and it is reflected in the way they write. Then I thought, "but what about successful people versus unsuccessful people? Do they have different writing styles as well?" 

According to Bart Baggett they do.

There are a couple of handwriting traits that successful people might have. First, writing words upwards from the baseline is a sign of optimism. Secondly, underlining your name is a sign of self-reliance. See my signature above for an example of both these traits. I changed my signature to exhibit these traits after I saw these same traits in the signatures of successful people I know.

Another big trait that successful people often exhibit is found in the lowercase "t". People that cross their t's higher tend to have higher confidence. People that cross their t's lower tend to lack confidence.

Consciously forcing yourself to write differently can actually rewire your brain to think differently. You can boost your confidence, change the way to view the future, change your ability to react to problems, change your attitude, and so on.

I don't normally like to plug products, but for those interested in finding out more check out Bart Baggett's website: www.bartbaggett.com      

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Axiom 32: Everything is Cyclical


"What goes up, must come down." -Proverb

"What goes around, comes around." -Proverb


I work in the commodities markets so I've seen booms and I've seen busts. I've learned that everything is cyclical. You always have to anticipate the next step in the cycle otherwise you'll always be playing catch up.

You should be buying when everyone is selling. You should be selling when everyone is buying. Always run the opposite way of the crowd. Don't be afraid to do the opposite. People that never takes chances never make big profits.

Products follow a very predictable cycle. If you can anticipate this cycle you won't be caught off guard.

This is the life cycle that every product follows:
  1. A new product is born - People buy it because it fills a need and solves a problem they have. There is a lot of money made from the sales of this new product and the businesses and people that sell this product usually make huge profits.
  2. Other people and businesses copy the original product - People want to cash in on the success of the original product so they come up with something similar to compete. Market share is split and profits go down for everyone.
  3. The market gets fully commoditized - More copycats sell a similar product to the point that the market gets crowded and profits get smaller. Some companies go out of businesses because they can't compete.
  4. The product dies or is reborn - Usually sales of a product eventually drop off as new, better products enter the market. These new products begin their own product life cycle. The only hope for an older product to survive is to be "reborn" in some way that it is made like new again.
The life cycle of a product can make you a victim or make you a winner. Watch for these signs in the market and take advantage of them before others do.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bring Yuengling to Texas


I want to take a minute to shout the praises of a regional beer you may have never heard of outside of the East Coast called Yuengling Traditional Lager.

I discovered it on a business trip to Charlotte. The first time I heard someone say the name (pronounced Ying-Ling) I thought it was some sort of Chinese beer. Actually, the name is German and the brewery is in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Yuengling is the oldest brewery in America, since 1829. Budweiser actually sued them over this claim and lost in court.

Yuengling is currently run by Dick Yuengling, who believes in slow and steady growth. They've been expanding distribution state by state very slowly. Unfortunately for me here in Texas that means I probably won't see Yuengling for sale here anytime soon. Currently Yuengling is only sold on the east coast, and there are currently no distributors west of Tennessee.

So why all the fuss anyway? Because this beer is awesome. I don't care what the beer snobs say, this reasonably priced beer is the smoothest I've ever had. There's nothing else here locally that even comes close, and there's nothing better than washing a great meal down with this stuff.

I'll do anything to get Yuengling. I've driven 8 hours to Memphis to buy it. I've smuggled it in my airplane luggage from New York City. I've had friends and business contacts bring it to me from Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Yes, it's that good.

So Dick if you're reading this please bring Yuengling to Texas... or at least send me over a few cases. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Axiom 31: The Tipping Point


"The best way out is always through." -Robert Frost

"No great achievement is possible without persistent work." -Bertrand Russell


Most of the time in life there are no shortcuts. What usually happens is that we get a great idea of something big we want to accomplish and everything fizzles out in the beginning. 

I've noticed that all of my accomplishments in life had a tipping point. A point in which I realized that I was so far into a project that it was easier to finish than quit. That's why I encourage you to rush toward the tipping point on anything you want to accomplish in life.

Take college for example. How many students drop out during their first semester as opposed to students that drop our during their last semester? College students reach that tipping point where they accumulate so many credit hours that they wouldn't dare drop out unless they had a huge reason for doing so.

So whatever you want to accomplish in life rush towards the tipping point before you lose momentum and fail.

Here are some ways you can get to the tipping point quicker:

  • Tell your friends and family about your goals. This holds you more accountable to finish what you start.
  • Ride the wave of enthusiasm as hard as possible in the beginning and commit as much time as possible. This will get you further along in your project and allow you to reach the tipping point before your enthusiasm has time to fade away.
  • Set dates and schedules to finish your projects and hold to them.
  • Make a financial investment in your project. Although usually an investment of time pays greater dividends.
  • Invest in education about the goal you're working on.
  • Network with people that will help push you toward your goal. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Adventure to the Four Corners Monument


Ever wonder what lies at the four corners? The spot where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet?

There really is something there. It's called the Four Corners Monument. I was in the neighborhood last summer so I dropped by to check it out.



Let me first say that unless you just happen to be nearby this place is not worth the trip alone. It's literally out in the middle of nowhere. The nearest towns are miles and miles away. There are scarce amenities here and cell phone service is questionable at best.

The four corners sits on Navajo land. They charge a $3 admission fee to enter. I should also mention that the turnoff from the main road to go in was so ambiguous I actually missed it the first time and had to turn around.



Once I got in there was not a whole heck of a lot to see. There were four sets of stalls (one in each state) where Native American merchants sold stuff. Most of the stuff for sell consisted of t-shirts, jewelry, and other Native American crafts.



In the center of everything on the ground sits the actual marker for the four corners. Everyone was crowding around getting their picture made. I waited about five minutes myself for a picture after which I was ready to get the hell out of there. Although it looks empty in my picture above there were actually about 20 people crowded right outside of what you can see.

What I found most interesting is that there were so many people there. There was no one on the surrounding roads for miles, yet this place was packed. If you happen to be nearby, or if this is on your bucket list, it's worth a stop. Otherwise just look at my pics above and you'll get the full experience.