Financing Your Retirement Without a Money Tree

When you retire from your job, you may receive a lunch or dinner in your honor, the stereotypical watch or plaque in appreciation of your service, and some assorted gift cards, but never what you really need to finance your retirement – a money tree. Aside from any pay off you may have from accumulated vacation or sick leave, you are pretty much on your own. Ideally, you also have a pension and savings, plus Social Security to serve as the core of your retirement. Will it be enough?

You need to start thinking of how to finance your retirement from the time you start your first steady job, but most people are too busy handling the present issues in life to plan ahead 50 years. When layoffs and emergencies come, your retirement savings may have gone by the wayside. And you may even have dipped into your retirement savings if times were hard, you got laid off, or your withdrew money to buy a home or send your kids to college. If life got in the way of planning, you need to get serious about how your retirement finances will play out.

One thing you must consider is how much of your income you will need in retirement. You might not need some funds tied to work expenses (lunches, clothes, extra driving, parking), but how many of your other payments will continue into retirement? Is your home paid off? Do you have a car payment or other debt? Do you hope to travel? If so, you will need a high percentage of your current income. As you get older, you will need more money to cover health costs.

Regardless of your past savings patterns, you need to do some quick but thorough math before you decide to retire. CNN, MSN, and many other websites have calculators to assist you. If you enter in your age, income, current savings, savings rate, and expected pensions and social security, you will receive an estimate of how much income this will yield when you start withdrawing the money. If you have saved money through retirement plans, don’t forget to account for tax payments you must make on the withdrawals.

If you come up short, you have choices.

•You can increase your savings rate to fill the gap in your remaining working years. This is a more workable idea if you have 10 years left before you retire than if you have one year.

•You can try to have your home and credit cards paid off, if you can do this and still put away money for retirement. Having fewer expenses in retirement will make it easier, but don’t forget to budget in home and car repairs. Unless you plan to drive your same car for 20 years, you may even need another car at some point.
•You can postpone retirement from your current job – a great option if you like what you are doing. If you can work out an arrangement to go part time, this may even give you the ideal combination of money, benefits, and free time you want.
•You can plan for a new career. Whether you plan to start a business or work part time at the local Walgreen’s/WalMart, you can bring new income into the home.
•You can downsize and live more frugally as time goes on. There is nothing wrong with down-scaling your expenses, but if you want to enjoy your retirement, you probably don’t want to take a vow of poverty.

Before you make drastic decisions about financing your retirement, contact a financial advisor to help you develop a workable financial plan. Even if you don’t have all the money you would like to have, you can still finance your retirement through careful planning.

Tracey Fieber

Using the very principles she teaches, Tracey Fieber went from a corporate executive in a financial institution to a retirement filled with adventure, passion and purpose, in less than 8 months at 44 years old! Tracey Fieber is the founder of and creator of The Secrets to Retirement Success System™, the most complete one-on-one Retirement Transition training program for corporate executives and small business owners in North America. Tracey is known for combining a unique blend of innovative, straight-shooter, nofluff strategies that really work, with an endless compassion for corporate executives and small business owners that are rarely seen together. Her high-energy, get-down-to-business style keeps her audiences interacting and taking numerous notes. Tracey’s motto about planning one’s retirement quickly is, "Why take a long time, I’ve got a life to live: places to go, people to see!" and her unique ability is getting people who’ve never had real success in planning for life stages to take immediate action on a systematic basis to produce a full retirement life they want to live, with more fun, in record time, every time. She is a well known and respected expert on retirement coaching for small businesses and speaks internationally to audiences whose members are looking for more fun, in record time, every time.

If You Lost Your Job, Do You Have a Backup Plan?

If there is one thing that most of us stress about, it is the fear of losing our jobs, because this in turn would mean that we will not be able to afford the current lifestyle we are living. Sometimes, it is easy to find a new job, but there are also times when it becomes almost impossible to find a job, and this is where life can become even more stressful. But do we really have to be in this situation? If you lost your job, do you have a backup plan? This is what we really should be thinking, as it is far more constructive than worrying.

Ultimately, every one of us has the possibility of losing our jobs, and in fact, the same goes for those who own businesses. In other words, whether you own a business or work for someone, there is a chance that you will be in a situation where your business goes bankrupt or your boss lets you go, so worrying about it is not going to solve anything, because if it happens, it happens. You see, whether you worry about it or not, you will still be out of funds, which means that things will go downhill. So, the best approach is to utilize the time you spend worrying to rather find a backup plan. In fact, you will see this type of mindset used a lot amongst investors. The idea is that you should diversify, because putting all your eggs into one basket will only put you at risk of losing all of those eggs if the basket happens to drop.

By diversifying your sources of income, you are in turn minimizing the risk of having no funds if one particular source dries out. That source can be stocks that you purchased in a company, your day job, or the extra night job that you took to make ends meet. If you look at most successful people, they do not only have one source, because they understand just how dangerous this way of living can be. So, always ask yourself this: If you lost your job, do you have a backup plan? You can even take this question further; how many backup plans do you have?

It all starts with the type of mindset you have. If you are living to simply survive, then you will find that it becomes difficult to think constructively, because you will see yourself as a person that is unable to live life according to your own rules. You become a machine of someone else, and in fact, that someone else is utilizing you as one of their backup sources. A better mindset would be to always want more, and to believe that you deserve having more just like anyone else. This approach will allow you to find as many ways as possible to ensure that you do not only become financially successful, but that you will have multiple backup sources to ensure that you never do run out of funds at any point in your life.

Written by Andy Pitt

July 29, 2011

Building Employee Trust – What Does It Mean?

by Leslie Allan on Jun 11, 2011

When we want to build employee trust in our managers, what exactly do we mean? This post examines the various components of employee trust so that we do not miss aspects that our employees consider vital in nurturing a productive employee-manager relationship.

In my earlier post on Employee-Manager Trust: How Do Employers Rate?, I recounted the results of Right Management’s recent survey. That survey put a spotlight on the alarmingly low levels employee trust in today’s organizations. It revealed that three quarters of all employees mistrusted their managers.

The kind of trust the survey authors were researching into was trust in managers’ ability to make the best decisions for their organization. However, that is just one component of the trust equation. When we say that we trust another person, what does that mean? Well, it may mean that we believe that they:

1.have the requisite skills and knowledge
2.accurately judge their own strengths and limitations
3.not act primarily from self-interest
4.maintain confidences
5.follow through on their commitments
6.are being truthful

To round out this definition, we can put each trust component into one of two bundles. The competency bundle includes the first two components. Right Management’s survey touched on this bundle only. The second bundle is the integrity bundle and includes components 3 to 6 above. This bundle is about the person displaying their true character and intentions; being who they say they are. Stephen Covey calls people who fail in this respect “duplicitous”.

In engaging the hearts and minds of our employees, it is this second bundle, the integrity bundle, that is as important, if not more important, than the competency bundle. If a manager is lacking in skills or judgment, but is sincere, his or her employees are more likely to work with them in mutual problem solving and goal attainment. A manager that is highly skilled but seen as manipulative and deceitful by his or her employees will quickly find employees checking out at the gate. And once this kind of trust is lost, it will be difficult for the manager to regain, if not impossible.

What examples can you think of in your work where your manager lost your trust? What aspect of your trust did they lose (look at components 1 to 6 above)? In a future post, I will gather all of your contributions and summarize them into a list of examples of how managers can lose the trust of their employees

Leslie Allan is Managing Director of Business Performance Pty Ltd, a management consulting firm specializing in people and process capability. He has been assisting organizations for over 20 years, contributing in various roles as project manager, consultant and trainer. Leslie is also the author of five books and many business articles. His company's Business Performance web site is a rich source of information, advice and tools in a variety of management areas. Visit today to download trial versions of products, free templates and introductory chapters. While you are there, subscribe to their informative monthly newsletter and join the blog discussion.

The Ten Worst Things to Put in Your Cover Letter

It's never too early to make a bad impression.

A cover letter or introductory email is often the first thing a potential employer sees when reviewing a job applicant. It's the first opportunity to impress recruiters and hiring managers and, therefore, the first opportunity to disappoint them. Everything from copy mistakes to inappropriate jokes in a cover letter could derail an application.

Here are the top ten worst things to put on a cover letter:

1. Next to Nothing

While writing something that's too long is a common cover letter mistake, what can be even more damaging is a cover letter that's too short.

Bruce Hurwitz, President of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, Ltd., a New York-based staffing firm recalls a cover letter he received a few months ago for an entry-level IT sales position. It read simply, "Here's my resume. Call me. [Phone number]."

"I cracked up," Hurwitz says. "This person had only just graduated with a Bachelor's degree. It was ridiculous."

A good cover letter should be somewhere between 200 to 250 words, Hurwitz says, and should answer the question of why a recruiter should look at the resume. "The key is to highlight one success," Hurwitz says. "For example, 'I successfully increased sales 500% over two years, resulting in increased, sustained revenue of $25 million.' Once I read that, I look at the resume."

2. Criticism of a Prospective Employer, a San Francisco-based site that connects customers with small business services, asked potential employees to submit in their cover letters feedback about their website. One candidate, a contender for an entry-level position in April, didn't pull any punches.

"The engineering of your site looks lazy and ineffective," the applicant wrote, proceeding to describe the color scheme of the site as "disconcerting to my eyes."

Needless to say, he was not considered for the position, though not before the hiring manager got in some laughs around the water cooler at his expense.

"We forwarded the cover letter to our managers sort of as a joke," says Sander Daniels, co-founder of the site. "It was the most caustic feedback we received. But we responded kindly to him -- we didn't suggest any improvements to him in approaching other employers. We don't see it as our role to counsel failed candidates."

Daniels observed that while many strong candidates turn in well-written cover letters, some have let the demand for engineers get to their heads, as Silicon Valley romances them with six-figure salaries and other job perks.

"Maybe they think they can get away with it -- but in our company, culture is a very important factor." Daniels says. "Even if Facebook's best engineer came to us, we wouldn't hire him if he was a jerk."

3. Personal Stories

While employers are sometimes interested in personal stories, especially if they give some idea about work ethic, it's best to save these stories for the interview, says Lindsay Olson of New York-based Paradigm Staffing, who specializes in recruiting communications and marketing professionals.

"I think my favorite of all time was the salesperson who poetically told me about how he decided to run a marathon, climbed to reach glaciers to have a taste of pure water, ran at heights of 5,000 meters in Peru, and biked down the world's most dangerous road and survived (over 300,000 have not)," says Olson, of a candidate who was applying for a business development position at a recruiting firm in June last year. "All this in his opening paragraph."

If you are asked in an interview about your hobbies and adventures, be prepared with a strong answer, says Olson. "What a [job candidate] likes to do outside of work might show how they are in their job," she says. "As a hiring manager, what you don't like to hear is, 'I just like to sit around at home and read books all day.'"

4. Awkward Language

Rachel Levy, director of marketing at Just Military Loans, a Wilmington, Del.-based personal loan service for military personnel, got a letter last week from a candidate who seemed to be expressing lukewarm interest in an IT analyst position.

"My name is xxx. I am pretty interested in the IT analyst position at Just Military Loans," the letter began.

Levy says she sees many applications, especially for IT jobs, to have grammatical and other language flaws. "What I've noticed is that there are a lot of people applying to these jobs, for whom English is a second language," Levy says. "So the connotations of certain words and phrases may not be clear to them. Which is fine, but they should get someone to help word their intentions correctly."

In this case, Levy thinks the applicant meant "very" instead of "pretty," but she'll never know because that applicant didn't get an interview.

5. Someone Else's Words

Frank Risalvato, a recruiting officer for Inter-Regional Executive Search Inc., is deluged with cover letters from different candidates that all obviously use the same template from the same career coaches.

"Some of these [cover letters] we see are very obviously not written by the individual," says Risalvato. "We get 15 to 20 of these a month, and it sounds disingenuous and insincere, seeing these cover letters from Seattle one week, Chicago another, and it's all the same style."

Some career experts also warn against the tired stand-by opening lines in a cover letter. "Opening a letter with a passive and clichéd statement such as 'Enclosed please find my resume highlighting my experience and skills that would help your company to grow and succeed,'" is a no-no, says Ann Baehr, certified professional resume writer and president of New York-based Best Resumes. "It's best to use something catchy and more specific such as, "If your company could benefit from the expertise of a hard-charging sales producer with a flawless record of success for closing tier-one Fortune 500 prospects in the healthcare technology market and capturing millions of dollars in revenue, please take a moment to review the attached resume."

If you're uncomfortable with that approach, make your cover letter unique to you with insights about the company you're applying to, advises Darrell Gurney, Los Angeles-based founder of career coaching site and author of Backdoor Job Search: Never Apply For A Job Again!.

"Put in a note saying something like, 'I've been following your company's progress in the last year and in February and I noticed your company was mentioned in the Journal of such and such,'" Gurney says. "That's the amazing thing about the Internet. You can spend 15 minutes online and look like you've been following them for a year."

Gurney reminds applicants to do their full research on the company if they do get called in for an interview after.

6. Irrelevant Experience

As noteworthy as an impressive Girl Scout cookies sales record may be, it's not worth trumpeting that experience when trying to break into a field like software sales. Rich DeMatteo, co-founder of Philadelphia-based Social Media Marketing firm Bad Rhino, remembers a candidate who did just that when he was working as a corporate recruiter at a software company.

"I was recruiting for a software sales position and one candidate was sure she was qualified because of her success selling Girl Scout cookies when she was a young girl," DeMatteo says. "I think she was young and didn't realize how important it is to state the right experience. Younger applicants tend to reach for skills, and try to find them anywhere in their life."

Some candidates take it even further, acknowledging they have no relevant skills, but pushing to be hired anyway.

"I read one for an IT analyst position that says, 'Although my qualifications do not exactly match your needs, the close proximity to my home is a big bonus for me,'" Levy of Just Military Loans recalls. "You have a lot of underqualified people just out of college just throwing resumes at the wall, and hoping something sticks."

DeMatteo suggests trying to focus on specifc sales figures or experience in relevant projects. "A lot of sales, for instance, is numbers-based. Stick to that."

7. Arrogance

It's one thing to promote yourself favorably in a cover letter, but watch that it doesn't degenerate into overt bragging.

This is especially true when it comes to ambiguous skills, says Jennifer Fremont-Smith, CEO of Smarterer, a Boston-based tech startup aimed at helping IT applicants improve their resumes.

"People claim to have things like, 'superior Internet skills.' What does that even mean?" says Fremont-Smith. "I saw an application from a Web developer about a month ago where he described himself as a 'rockstar in design tools,' and an 'expert in developer tools.' That kind of inflated language doesn't really tell your employer much about your skills."

Fremont-Smith recommends carefully personalizing your cover letter to the employer and listing the most relevant of skills for the job you want, and why you want it. "The cover letter is the place to tell your story about why it is that you're the right person for the company," she says. "It's about really crafting a narrative that answers the question of why the employer should talk to you."

8. Wrong Company Name/Wrong Cover Letter

Talk about mistakes that are easy to avoid.

"The biggest mistake I see on a regular basis is that candidates either misspell the name of the company or get the name wrong," says Gary Hewing of Houston-based Bert Martinez Communications LLC. "If it's a small misspelling like 'Burt' instead of 'Bert', I'd be willing to overlook that. But the big, unforgivable mistake is when someone copies and pastes a cover letter without the name or address to the correct company. That, to me, is someone who's lazy and not paying attention."

Hewing says sometimes it's hard to tell if a cover letter was meant for a particular job, even if the candidate got the company name and position right, if they talk about disconnected experience without explaining themselves.

"We're a sales organization, but at least twice a month, we'll get a cover letter with someone talking about their banking background instead of sales," says Hewing. "It's a complete disconnect to the job description and it doesn't even explain if the candidate is seeking a career change. It tells me that they're just not paying attention."

9. Cultural Preferences

Job hunting is often compared to dating: It's about finding the right match; and success hinges on staying cool under pressure and masking anxieties to appear confident instead of desperate. But a few candidates take the dating analogy too far, subjecting hiring managers to long lists of personal likes and dislikes in cover letters.

"This one guy wrote the first part of his cover letter talking about his interests like it was an ad for an online dating site," Olson of Paradigm Staffing says, about an applicant trying for a PR job. "He likes all types of music, but 'never got into country.'"

While potentially charming to a possible mate, those tidbits are not helpful in a cover letter.

10. Jokes

Breaking the ice with humor isn't necessarily a bad idea, but jokes in cover letters are usually a turn-off for busy employers, say recruiters. It might be better to save them for the interview, if they are to be used at all. Olson recalled a candidate for a communications executive position who rubbed an employer the wrong way with an off-color joke.

"She decided in her interview, for some reason, to compare kids to Nazis," says Olson. "She thought she was being funny, but the interviewer happened to be Jewish and didn't think she was very funny."

Recruiters agree that it's best to stick with tried-and-true unfunny, but effective conventional pitches about your education and work experience.

"The thing with trying to be chummy and funny is that you lose credibility," says Gurney of "It looks desperate. And the worst thing you can do in job-seeking is looking desperate or needy."

By Sindhu Sundar
The Wall Street Journal

Giving Back to Your Community

By giving back to your community, you are not only helping your community grow stronger, but you are also helping yourself become stronger. Keep in mind that no matter where you live in the world, you are not alone. Therefore, in order to truly succeed in life, it is crucial that you work with those around you. By working with people around you, it means giving back what you have taken directly or indirectly. I know that a lot of people see the idea of giving back to the community in a different light. The most common idea is that it is a charitable gesture or simply doing a good deed. This is not completely correct.

The best way to explain this is by understanding what goes on when you take any type of action. No matter what you do in your life, you will indirectly or directly be using other people to help you achieve a particular task or goal. So while you might think it is only you that is doing all of this, there are actually many other forces that are working around you in order to help you reach that particular task or goal. Therefore, when you give back to your community, all you are really doing is showing your appreciation for what the community was able to directly or indirectly do for you. This even includes giving back to people who you have had no direct dealings with; because you will find that in some way there is some type of connection, even if that connection occurred with another person that just happened to cross your path in order to help your dreams become a reality.

When you look at it from this perspective, you will soon understand the real importance of giving back to your community. It is your way of showing how grateful you are. In fact, a great way to make better sense of this is by taking a look at the law of attraction. One of the important factors that comes with the law of attraction is to be grateful. In other words, you have to be grateful for everything you have or would like to have, as this in turn will help the forces within the universe to help you make that particular thing a reality. So when you are giving back to your community, you are indirectly showing that you are grateful, which in turn will instill upon you a more powerful sense of positive thinking, which is essential to reaching your goals and staying at the top.

Written by Andy Pitt
June 09, 2011


I place quite a bit of emphasis on LinkedIn because it is widely regarded as the most appropriate social networking site for developing business and professional connections.

LinkedIn is a social network made up almost entirely of business professionals. It is not really about social interactions; rather, it’s designed for networking between people within the same industry and across industries. As social networking sites go, it's not very glamorous but for business purposes, it's got the best practical advantage since it allows anyone to build a network.

LinkedIn’s Features and Advantages:

You can:

· Maintain online resumes and link with friends, colleagues, and business contacts

· Find experts that can help you with career or job search problems

· Connect directly with any LinkedIn account holder without the need for an introduction (provided you have a premium membership).

To really appreciate the power and value of LinkedIn, you first need to appreciate the concept of “six degrees of separation.” This principle states that if we are each one step away from every person we know, then we are two steps away from every person they know. That means everyone on Earth is, at most, only six degrees away from every other person.

A simplified illustration of six degrees of separation might go like this:

You probably know Clint Eastwood!

Well, not directly. But you know David Jones (someone you know directly, called a “LinkedIn Level 1 connection”); David knows Melissa Stone (and therefore has access to her network); Melissa knows Julie Smith, a media consultant in Los Angeles; Melissa knows Mike Simpson, a talent agent for many Hollywood stars, and Mike, of course, knows Clint Eastwood. If you trace the path of these connections, you’ll see a pattern in which you are never more than “six links” away from someone you’d like to reach.

LinkedIn’s Popularity Trap

Some LinkedIn users get trapped into thinking that the name of the game is to gather as many Level 1 connections as possible. They put themselves in an undeclared popularity contest, proclaiming that they have, for example, "8,477 Level 1 connections." While their Level 1 numbers are certainly impressive, they regrettably miss both the point and the power of LinkedIn.

The real power of LinkedIn lies in the linkages that feed into your Level 1 connections, that is, the Level 2s and 3s that are available to you via your Level 1s. It is here in the “2/3 Zone” that the magnitude of your network becomes far more quantifiable; for example, 297 Level 1 connections balloon out to possibly tens of thousands of contacts at Level 2, and perhaps hundreds of thousands (or more) at Level 3.

This is an important point because research shows that the vast majority of LinkedIn users who are actively engaged in a job search find their next job through their Level 2 and Level 3 connections, not their Level 1 connections.

LinkedIn’s Biggest Benefits

There have been many books written about LinkedIn, most notably I’m On LinkedIn – Now What? by Jason Alba. Jason uses a no-holds barred style of writing to explore all the good points about LinkedIn and to expose its weaknesses, too. It’s a well-written and balanced analysis of the application by a man who truly understands how online applications are best engineered to serve the needs of users.

The biggest benefits of LinkedIn are as follows:

· Use connections to explore a treasure chest of hidden opportunities: The Hidden Job Market – (Chapter 6 in my book).

· Get your name and brand circulating right from your computer.

· Build your database of connections to strengthen your network.

· Quickly attain expert status.

· Get instant feedback.

· Network 24 x 7 x 365. Unlike traditional face-to-face networking, the Internet never sleeps.

· LinkedIn Groups give you access to individuals who are passionate about what you’re passionate about. This makes for easier, faster connections.

You now have the basics. Frank and I will cover the advanced LinkedIn techniques this Sunday!

I'll see you on the radio this and every Sunday morning at 8am (EST) on Your Career Is Calling on 107.7 FM and online on We look forward to taking your calls at 877.900.1077. This Sunday our topic is “LinkedIn – The Untapped Oasis for the CEO of ME, Inc”.

Best wishes and own your career,



Rod Colón
Master Connector, Professional Development, Executive Coach, Speaker, Author
Weekly Co-Host of Radio Show "YOUR CAREER IS CALLING".

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Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs

In these days of modern technology, job search candidates are looking toward Twitter, My Space, Linkedin, and similar sites for job leads. Have they helped? Yes they have. Does that mean that traditional job search methods are no longer valid? No.

In fact, modern technology has dramatically enhanced the traditional job search method known as networking. When it comes to results, probably the leading job search method continues to be networking. But what is networking? Do you have a network? How do you tap into your network?

Networking means to directly communicate with people. Whether it is to renew a friendship with someone, take someone out to lunch, or communicate via the Internet, networking is the most viable and most effective job search method.

Why? Because decision makers hire people they enjoy being around.

And if you were a decision maker you would do the same thing: It is a natural human need to interface with people we like, we enjoy being around, people we can easily communicate with, folks with whom we can develop a relationship.

But you say, “I don’t have a network!” Unless you are a hermit and have been living alone in a cave since you were born, you have a network.

As proof that you do indeed have a network, grab a pen and pad and answer some of the following questions. Write down as many names as you can think of. Do not consider at this point whether you will contact them or not: The purpose here is simply to compile a list of potential networking contacts.

At your present or most recent employer, who was your immediate supervisor? Did you have any other supervisors? Who reported to you? Or, if you were on a team or in a project, or in a department, who else was there?

Who were your colleagues or co-workers? Peers? Friends at that company? Spouses of co-workers. Did you have any special assignments, or were you on any company teams (quality teams, sports teams) on which you interfaced with others. Did you ever attend any meetings? Were you on any committees? Who else attended those meetings or were on those committees?

At that same company, who were your customers or clients? Suppliers? Competitors. Vendors or sub-contractors?

Who was on the sales staff? Operations staff? Human Resources staff?

Who was the company president, or chief executive officer? Who was in charge? Who was the chairman of the board? Who were the board members? Who were the other officers of that company? Department Heads? Who did you hire, train or mentor at that company?

Now go through that round of questions for each of your employers.

Answer as many of the following questions as possible: Do you know any bankers? Anyone at a credit union or finance company? Do you know any financial planners? Accountants? Bookkeepers? Who does your taxes? Do you know any accountants? Auditors? Who is your Bookie? (Joke).

Do you know any lawyers or attorneys? Judges? Other professionals? Who do you know that owns a business? Who do you know that owns real estate? Who do you know that owns a boat, RV, yacht, classic car, or has a hobby or special interest similar to yours?

If you belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, who are the other members of the congregation?

Past or Present business associates – does anyone else come to mind? Do you know any politicians, city or community leaders, someone on the city council, or someone that belongs to the chamber of commerce?

Who was your favorite teacher, instructor, trainer, or professor? What other educators do you know? Who do you know that is on a school board? Does volunteer work?

Write down the name of any college or trade school you have attended, then write “Alumni List.” Anyone who at any time has attended that school realistically could be part of your network.

Who were your roommates? Who lived in the same dormitory? Did you belong to any clubs, organizations, or sports while you were in school? Who were the other members?

Who is the best sales person that you know? What other sales people do you know? If you were in the military or Reserves, whom do you know in conjunction with that?

Who is your medical doctor, other doctors, specialists, dentist, optometrist, pediatrician, medical technician, nurse, chiropractor? If you belong to a Health, Gym or Exercise Club, who else have you met there? Are you active in any sports? Do you coach? Do you belong to any Clubs? Tennis? Country? Golf? Surf? Bike? Yacht? What are your hobbies? Crafts? What do you collect? What are your special interests, and whom do you know in relation to those?

Who is your insurance broker? Do you know any real estate brokers or sales people? Stock brokers? Escrow officers? Probation Officers? (Joke) Speakers?

Who is your best friend? Other than you, who is your best friend’s best friend? Without getting into trouble, who is your spouse’s or significant other’s best friend?

Write down the names of adult relatives who work: parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters. Who are your neighbors? Who is your barber or hairdresser? Auto mechanic?

Can you think of anyone else?

If you faithfully answered the above questions, you should have a list of names that are part of your network. Now you should develop a verbal résumé, and systematically meet with each of these folks. Let them know that you are looking for a job, and ask for any assistance or referrals they could provide for you.

by Richard M. Knappen
San Diego Reader

Richard M. Knappen is the president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California

Motivational Books To Enjoy

As the ETP Charlotte Networking Leader, I would like to be able to say that I have in some way passed on a little information that will be beneficial to everyone.

We will start our meet ups in September, 2011.

I would like to suggest several motivational books that's will be beneficial in our everyday life.

All the books that I have suggested are available on

We will still use our very own training manual "WIN THE RACE for 21st CENTURY JOBS, by Rod Colon. This is our reference guide to the reason that we are here.

If you would like to receive a copy of WIN THE RACE for 21st CENTURY JOBS, by Rod Colon please click on the link

If you pick up a great idea, use it right away even if you're not done with the book. Only through action, no, consistent action will you have a chance of creating the life that you have always dreamed of. Any of these motivational books can have the power to change your life or at least motivate and inspire you to take action. You can also get them as gifts.

"When you give someone a book, you don't give him just paper, ink, and glue. You give him the possibility of a whole new life." - Christopher Morley

1. Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins

Tony Robbins is one of the best motivational speakers out there. His book is a bit technical since he talks a lot about NLP but you will get a lot of great, specific instructions on how to change how you feel which means you will have control over your motivational level.

2. Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

This book is similar to his other book but it does have a nice goal program to help you achieve your goals. You'll also learn a bunch of cool techniques that can be used right away.

I also recommend the shorter audio version. His final message is awesome!

3. The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley

Since being financially independent is something that many people want, this book will open your mind up to what it really takes to be a millionaire. You'll be surprised to find out that the general public's image of a millionaire is way off.

4. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker

Much of your chances of accumulating wealth as well as being successful is mental. In this book, you will find out how millionaires think. When you think differently, you will take different actions. When you take different actions, you will get different results and if the results that you've been getting in your life isn't something you are particular proud of, then a change is in order.

5. Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen

I first heard about Joel Osteen from one of his televised speeches. Although he's a pastor, he speaks like a motivational speaker. His words about life and success are pretty inspiring. This book talks about expanding your vision, increasing your confidence, and finding strength through adversity among other things.

6. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, Ph.D.

If thoughts become things, then it's to your advantage that you think big thoughts. If you think big, you will achieve big dreams. How you think of yourself, your goals, and your life in general will have a great impact on the results that you actual experience in life. This book will help you have more belief in yourself in order to think big and have the confidence to see those thoughts through.

7. Quantum Success by Sandra Taylor

Part of this books in part talks about the law of attraction but it also talks a lot about some of the other laws. The law of attraction, although an interesting concept, isn't enough for you to achieve what you want in life. This book goes beyond just visualizing success.

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

This is a classic book on how to get more things done. Effective or successful people get to where they are due to the habits they have developed. Obviously, there are good habits and there are bad habits. This book talks about the 7 habits that many successful people seem to have in common.

For teenagers, I highly recommend The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey, Stephen's son.

8. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

This book is about thoughts. It aligns with the whole law of attraction subject and actually helped inspired that whole movement. It's not exactly an easy read but still a great book to pick up.

9. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

This book has probably helped more people become successful than any other self help book out there. This book also aligns with the law of attraction subject although it might not be too obvious. The ideas in this book can help you achieve your goals.

10. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

This is another classic self help book. When you think positive thoughts, you will tend to have positive outcomes. From achieving your goals to even improving your health, having the right thoughts is crucial.

11. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is one of the best selling motivational books of all-time. Actually, this probably falls into the personal development field. This book is all about relating to people. If you're in sales, this is a must read book.

12. The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol

Believing in yourself is one of the most crucial things you need if you hope to be successful in life. Many people have great ideas and even have the plan to get them there but because of their lack of belief in themselves, they often either never even start or make progress and sabotage themselves. This book will help increase your level of belief and confidence.

13. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

This book is about achieving your goals as well as time management. Brian Tracy has a bunch of other books but this one is one of his best in my opinion.

14. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

This book is great for sales people. It's written in a story format in ancient times which makes it a delight to read. At the same time though, you will learn the secrets of success through scrolls which you will discover in this book.

15. Year to Success by Bo Bennet

This is one of those 365 chapter books where each day, you will have a short article to read covering all types of topics from motivation, time management, success, money, and a bunch of other topics. You will also get to read snippets of biographies of success people. It's a pretty huge book but it's full of great information. It's one of those books where you can just randomly flip to a page and start reading and get inspired.

16. Self-Discipline in 10 Days by Theodore Bryant

This is a book talks about self-discipline. Much of success in life deals with your ability to get yourself to do what you know should be done. It offers some great tips to help you take action long enough so that those actions become habits. Possible life changer.

ME, Inc. is in Control of the Roller Coaster

Up - Down - Up Again -Then Back Down one more time . . . Welcome to the "Job" roller coaster ride. This ride is consistently powered by the perceived fear imposed by supposed economic indicators.

The American Dream is no longer attained by the old formula; four-year degree + good company + 20-30 years longevity = successful career progression.

Let's face it. You aren't down, because you're out of a job. You're down, because your income has stopped abruptly. Not being able to pay bills and take care of a family is what brings us down. If we start running ourselves like a business, the business of ME,Inc., we'll always be up and in control of the job roller coaster. Savvy Intrapreneurs clearly succeed with the same business owner mind set.

As an employee, the company you work for is a client. With that said, review the comparison below to start profitably running the company of ME, Inc. You are now at the controls of the job roller coaster.
Business Owner
1.Write a 5-year business plan. Review every 3 months and make adjustments. Business plan is a report card. It shows where you are now, where you're going and how you achieve profitable results. It is a proactive document.

ME, Inc.1.Meet with boss to write a development plan. Include evaluation tasks. Review every 3 months. Get feedback from boss to make adjustments. Waiting until your 6month or yearly evaluation for feedback is career suicide.

Business Owner
2. Marketing with ads, brochures, and business cards for product branding. Following up after the sale is marketing. Sending thank you or special occasion cards to clients is a great marketing tool for customer relationship management (CRM). The goal of all marketing activities is to creatively keep your name in front of people and always say "thank you" and "please".
Send clients article clippings on topics that interest them.

ME, Inc.
2. Market yourself with your attire, posture, communication and interpersonal skills. Something simple as sending an email is marketing. Make sure your email signature reflects your image. Remember to copy even peripheral people on emails, as you progress on a project. Keep your name in front of people and always say "thank you" and "please". Building rapport with people is marketing.
Business Owner
3. Selling includes all activities involved in winning the confidence of potential and current clients by creating win-win solutions for clients and your company. Be in the business of serving clients, not making money. The money will always follow and so will referrals, which increases sales.

ME, Inc.
3. Selling occurs all the time at a job. Making a presentation to people on a strategy or solution, quality assignment completion, interaction with co-workers is all selling scenarios. When you become the "Go to" person on your team, then people are sold on you and your skills. Mission accomplished.

Business Owner
4. Seek Advice from others; Board of directors, lawyer, accountant, mentors and business associates outside organization. Associate with other successful business owners. Partner with vendors to solicit advice from them. Talk to CEOs of companies and ask them what makes their company profitable.

ME, Inc.
4. Associate with like-minded people who can help you develop your career. Find a couple of mentors. To increase your salary, associate with people who make more than you. Ask them how they became successful. Score some browning points with your boss, by asking them how they achieved their promotion.

Business Owner
5. Networking. Get involved in organizations and events that allow for meeting new people. ALWAYS carry and give out business cards. Read article below.

ME, Inc.
5. Networking. ALWAYS carry business cards. You never know who you will meet, who may help you in advancing your career.

Business Owner
6. Diversify profit centers with multiple clients. Cross-sell products or services. 20/80 rule says 80% of profits come from 20% of current client base. The rest comes from new clients. Once you sold to a client once, it's easier to introduce a new product. Get referrals from satisfied customers. They're your best sales people.

ME, Inc.
6. Diversify income to at least equal take home pay. This is the control switch for the job roller coaster. Have more than one client, other than your employer. Use your current skills to pick up a few additional clients or start a part time business. What would you do right now, if your one and only client stopped using your services? It's not a problem if your income is diversified.

Business Owner
7. Have a business contingency back up plan, which includes having 90-120 days of operating capital.ME, Inc.

Carl E. Reid, CSI
Chief Operations Officer
Empowering Today's Professionals
CONNECTwith Carl:
Tel: 201-222.5390
Carl is author of "Foreword" in
""Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs"
Order now:

Get your Personal "ACT" together! 10 Steps for Entrepreneurs to get their personal affairs in order

Sure many successful entrepreneurs (myself included) will tell you how they've either maxed credit cards, over extended themselves, moved in with parents, sold cars, lived IN their cars, spent their entire life savings or 401k on their dream all in pursuit of their dream and destiny. Many of them took a gamble and won having built lasting profitable businesses and wealth. One of my clients successful built her company to 7 figures after being at the brink of bankruptcy, repossession, and financial ruin. list it's 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs and these are all dead on many of them echo the traits needed such as "creating plan" to learning to work with integrity and so one, however there is one that is missing...

I'm adding #26 and making it #1, you MUST have a plan for how you will get your Personal Affairs in order. This means from your personal finances to improving your credit if it's challenged, to your relationships. It's no secret to successful entrepreneurs that your personal life (particularly for women) has a direct effect on your business. Taking risk in your business is a given and while I'm neither for or against risking it all (I'm more so on the "for" side) Ignoring your personal affairs can certainly lead to undue stress.

#1 Get Your Personal Affiars in order
From your relationships, drama, and finances. If you are Planning to risk it all you NEED to have a strategy! Failing to plan how you are going to navigate and survive or deal with a mate that is unsupportive or how you plan to manage your health care can mean the difference for some of success and failure.

While it is important to have a plan BEFORE you start your business. The reality is MOST of us won't, we'll fly out into entrepreneur land blind. Hey I'm not mad at you, I get it I'm with you 100% but at some point you must get some order to your personal life in order to reach the optimal success you want to achieve in your business life. I'll share more about my own personal story tomorrow, but for now here are some steps you must take now.

1. Pull your personal credit report and get an understanding of where you credit stands. If you have challenges you may not be able to fix them overnight, but get clear on where you are so you can make a plan.

2. Make sure your tax returns are filed or at least you have a strategy and plan in place and know where you stand with the IRS. The worse feeling is being on top of the world in your business and then BAM! You are hit with an audit on the personal side. See it with don't want this.

3. Get an Life Insurance policy for yourself and your family. Leaving a comfortable 9 to 5 where they (should) provide life insurance for you, many entrepreneurs simply don't think about this when whey start out on their own. Sure you want your business to be your insurance policy but be realistic. If you are a young person be sure to have a plan of how your family will survive if you become disabled.

4. Create a Will. I hope you didn't create your business but have no plan of how it will pass on after you? Create a will for how you plan to leave your business, or other assets. A living will may be good as well to cover how things should be governed should you become disabled and unable to care for your family or your business.

5. Create a salary for yourself in your pricing. If your fee for coaching is $100 an hour, make sure you know that about $75 is going to go just to cover expenses, pay insurance, travel etc. That leaves you with $25 an hour to live off. If this isn't going to be good for you, then maybe you need to increase your hourly rate to $150 or $200 an hour.

6. Remember it's all about the customer.
Your home business is not about the products or services that you sell. Your home business is not about the prices that you charge for your goods and services. Your home business is not about your competition and how to beat them. Your business is all about your customers, or clients, period. After all, your customers are the people that will ultimately decide if your business goes boom or bust. Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising and promotional campaigns and website. In addition, you must know who your customers are inside out and upside down.

7. Become a shameless self-promoter (without becoming obnoxious).
One of the greatest myths about personal or business success is that eventually your business, personal abilities, products or services will get discovered and be embraced by the masses that will beat a path to your door to buy what you are selling. But how can this happen if no one knows who you are, what you sell and why they should be buying?

Self-promotion is one of the most beneficial, yet most underutilized, marketing tools that the majority of home business owners have at their immediate disposal.

8. Project a positive business image.
You have but a passing moment to make a positive and memorable impression on people with whom you intend to do business. Home business owners must go out of their way and make a conscious effort to always project the most professional business image possible. The majority of home business owners do not have the advantage of elaborate offices or elegant storefronts and showrooms to wow prospects and impress customers. Instead, they must rely on imagination, creativity and attention to the smallest detail when creating and maintaining a professional image for their home business.

9. Get to know your customers.
One of the biggest features and often the most significant competitive edge the home based entrepreneur has over the larger competitors is the he can offer personalized attention. Call it high-tech backlash if you will, but customers are sick and tired of hearing that their information is somewhere in the computer and must be retrieved, or told to push a dozen digits to finally get to the right department only to end up with voice mail--from which they never receive a return phone call.

The home business owner can actually answer phone calls, get to know customers, provide personal attention and win over repeat business by doing so. It's a researched fact that most business (80 percent) will come from repeat customers rather than new customers. Therefore, along with trying to draw newcomers, the more you can do to woo your regular customers, the better off you will be in the long run and personalized attention is very much appreciated and remembered in the modern high tech world.

10. Level the playing field with technology.
You should avoid getting overly caught up in the high-tech world, but you should also know how to take advantage of using it. One of the most amazing aspects of the internet is that a one or two person business operating from a basement can have a superior website to a $50 million company, and nobody knows the difference. Make sure you're keeping up with the high-tech world as it suits your needs.. The best technology is that which helps you, not that which impresses your neighbors.

11. Build a top-notch business team.
No one person can build a successful business alone. It's a task that requires a team that is as committed as you to the business and its success. Your business team may include family members, friends, suppliers, business alliances, employees, sub-contractors, industry and business associations, local government and the community. Of course the most important team members will be your customers or clients. Any or all may have a say in how your business will function and a stake in your business future.

12. Become known as an expert.
When you have a problem that needs to be solved, do you seek just anyone's advice or do you seek an expert in the field to help solve your particular problem? Obviously, you want the most accurate information and assistance that you can get. You naturally seek an expert to help solve your problem. You call a plumber when the hot water tank leaks, a real estate agent when it's time to sell your home or a dentist when you have a toothache. Therefore, it only stands to reason that the more you become known for your expertise in your business, the more people will seek you out to tap into your expertise, creating more selling and referral opportunities. In effect, becoming known as an expert is another style of prospecting for new business, just in reverse. Instead of finding new and qualified people to sell to, these people seek you out for your expertise.

13. Create a competitive advantage.
A home business must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition. This is nothing more than a fancy way of asking the vital question, "Why will people choose to do business with you or purchase your product or service instead of doing business with a competitor and buying his product or service?" In other words, what one aspect or combination of aspects is going to separate your business from your competition? Will it be better service, a longer warranty, better selection, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, lowest price, personalized service, better customer service, better return and exchange policies or a combination of several of these?

14. Invest in yourself.
Top entrepreneurs buy and read business and marketing books, magazines, reports, journals, newsletters, websites and industry publications, knowing that these resources will improve their understanding of business and marketing functions and skills. They join business associations and clubs, and they network with other skilled business people to learn their secrets of success and help define their own goals and objectives. Top entrepreneurs attend business and marketing seminars, workshops and training courses, even if they have already mastered the subject matter of the event. They do this because they know that education is an ongoing process. There are usually ways to do things better, in less time, with less effort. In short, top entrepreneurs never stop investing in the most powerful, effective and best business and marketing tool at their immediate disposal--themselves.

15. Be accessible.
We're living in a time when we all expect our fast food lunch at the drive-thru window to be ready in mere minutes, our dry cleaning to be ready for pick-up on the same day, our money to be available at the cash machine and our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or it's free. You see the pattern developing--you must make it as easy as you can for people to do business with you, regardless of the home business you operate.

You must remain cognizant of the fact that few people will work hard, go out of their way, or be inconvenienced just for the privilege of giving you their hard-earned money. The shoe is always on the other foot. Making it easy for people to do business with you means that you must be accessible and knowledgeable about your products and services. You must be able to provide customers with what they want, when they want it.

16. Build a rock-solid reputation.
A good reputation is unquestionably one of the home business owner's most tangible and marketable assets. You can't simply buy a good reputation; it's something that you earn by honoring your promises. If you promise to have the merchandise in the customer's hands by Wednesday, you have no excuse not to have it there. If you offer to repair something, you need to make good on your offer. Consistency in what you offer is the other key factor. If you cannot come through with the same level of service (and products) for clients on a regular basis, they have no reason to trust you . . . and without trust, you won't have a good reputation.

17. Sell benefits.
Pushing product features is for inexperienced or wannabe entrepreneurs. Selling the benefits associated with owning and using the products and services you carry is what sales professionals worldwide focus on to create buying excitement and to sell, sell more, and sell more frequently to their customers. Your advertising, sales presentations, printed marketing materials, product packaging, website, newsletters, trade show exhibit and signage are vital. Every time and every medium used to communicate with your target audience must always be selling the benefits associated with owning your product or using your service.

18. Get involved.
Always go out of your way to get involved in the community that supports your business. You can do this in many ways, such as pitching in to help local charities or the food bank, becoming involved in organizing community events, and getting involved in local politics. You can join associations and clubs that concentrate on programs and policies designed to improve the local community. It's a fact that people like to do business with people they know, like and respect, and with people who do things to help them as members of the community.

19. Grab attention.
Small-business owners cannot waste time, money and energy on promotional activities aimed at building awareness solely through long-term, repeated exposure. If you do, chances are you will go broke long before this goal is accomplished. Instead, every promotional activity you engage in, must put money back in your pocket so that you can continue to grab more attention and grow your business.

20. Master the art of negotiations.
The ability to negotiate effectively is unquestionably a skill that every home business owner must make every effort to master. It's perhaps second in importance only to asking for the sale in terms of home business musts. In business, negotiation skills are used daily. Always remember that mastering the art of negotiation means that your skills are so finely tuned that you can always orchestrate a win-win situation. These win-win arrangements mean that everyone involved feels they have won, which is really the basis for building long-term and profitable business relationships.

21. Design Your workspace for success.
Carefully plan and design your home office workspace to ensure maximum personal performance and productivity and, if necessary, to project professionalism for visiting clients. If at all possible, resist the temptation to turn a corner of the living room or your bedroom into your office. Ideally, you'll want a separate room with a door that closes to keep business activities in and family members out, at least during prime business and revenue generating hours of the day. A den, spare bedroom, basement or converted garage are all ideal candidates for your new home office. If this is not possible, you'll have to find a means of converting a room with a partition or simply find hours to do the bulk of your work when nobody else is home.

22. Get and stay organized.
The key to staying organized is not about which type of file you have or whether you keep a stack or two of papers on your desk, but it's about managing your business. It's about having systems in place to do things. Therefore, you wan to establish a routine by which you can accomplish as much as possible in a given workday, whether that's three hours for a part-time business or seven or nine hours as a full-timer. In fact, you should develop systems and routines for just about every single business activity. Small things such as creating a to-do list at the end of each business day, or for the week, will help keep you on top of important tasks to tackle. Creating a single calendar to work from, not multiple sets for individual tasks or jobs, will also ensure that jobs are completed on schedule and appointments kept. Incorporating family and personal activities into your work calendar is also critical so that you work and plan from a single calendar.

23. Take time off.
The temptation to work around the clock is very real for some home business owners. After all, you don't have a manager telling you it's time to go home because they can't afford the overtime pay. Every person working from home must take time to establish a regular work schedule that includes time to stretch your legs and take lunch breaks, plus some days off and scheduled vacations. Create the schedule as soon as you have made the commitment to start a home business. Of course, your schedule will have to be flexible. You should, therefore, not fill every possible hour in the day. Give yourself a backup hour or two. All work and no play makes you burn out very fast and grumpy customer service is not what people want.

24. Limit the number of hats you wear.
It's difficult for most business owners not to take a hands-on approach. They try to do as much as possible and tackle as many tasks as possible in their business. The ability to multitask, in fact, is a common trait shared by successful entrepreneurs. However, once in a while you have to stand back and look beyond today to determine what's in the best interest of your business and yourself over the long run. Most highly successful entrepreneurs will tell you that from the time they started out, they knew what they were good at and what tasks to delegate to others.

25. Follow-up constantly.
Constant contact, follow-up, and follow-through with customers, prospects, and business alliances should be the mantra of every home business owner, new or established. Constant and consistent follow-up enables you to turn prospects into customers, increase the value of each sale and buying frequency from existing customers, and build stronger business relationships with suppliers and your core business team. Follow-up is especially important with your existing customer base, as the real work begins after the sale. It's easy to sell one product or service, but it takes work to retain customers and keep them coming back.

Posted by Katrina M Harrell

Katrina M. Harrell is author of "Embrace.Your.Journey.: 180 Day Journey to Unlocking Your Wisdom, R... (The Sum of Her Publishing, 2011). President of the KM Harrell Group, LLC a Strategic Business Development & Management firm supporting minority and women-owned businesses. Her firm’s consulting services have helped many minority and women owned businesses establish foundational structures and exit strategies within their businesses that have aided them in selling for profit or obtaining investor funding. Passionate about entrepreneurship education, Katrina’s insight and expertise is highly sought after both online and off. She is also founding CEO for Your Simple Bookkeeper, outsourced national bookkeeping company for micro and small business.

Top Ten Must-Have Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs Part 2

As a bit of a refresher, the first half of this document highlighted five of the most important skill sets every entrepreneur must have at his/her disposal in order to be successful. The toolbox of skills is critical to the success of your project.

The skills one through five are:

1. Succession Planning

2. Life – Work Balance

3. Open-Mindedness

4. Talent Management

5. Conversion – Ideas into Action

Here is the balance of the skill sets I personally believe make the difference.

6. It’s About the Message – Communications is one of the most important of the most important skill sets, as getting the marketing message out in both written and verbal forms at the highest level of professionalism is a must. Every person in business, whether they be an entrepreneur or a corporate employee; everyone must have the ability to get their point across. When growing a business, it is paramount to have the skill set that will make others listen, read and hear the message. The ability to be the voice of the business, using PowerPoint, live broadcasting, video email, texting or other forms of communicating is necessary for the leader of the organization. Just as important as presenting the message is listening to others. Detractors, supporters and/or critics have opinions and it would do well for the spokesperson to possess good communications abilities.

Because the leader typically possesses more passion about the product, service or business that it is beneficial if that person is also the spokesperson. That passion is evident in every communication, even body language. That doesn’t mean that no one else can fill the bill, but it helps if the founder is also the communicator.

Communications skills in today’s business environment are all about clarity, substance and sound bites. The marketing messages of world known products and services include tremendous bits of genius that people recognize in an instant. One of the most recognizable tag lines (slogans) is from Nike – Just Do It. In just three words, only eight little letters, the message is clear. Other world famous brands include iconic emblems like the blue oval of Ford, The Chrome Cat of Jaguar or the fruit image of Apple. The message is clear, the brand world recognizable and the ability to communicate without question.

Brands begin with the mission and vision concepts of their company product or service. The amount of time, research, market surveys, analysis and deliberation that go into the construction of the brand is nothing compared to the length of time and expense to re-brand a failed attempt at creating a winning brand and message. The expense of lost business or lack of brand acceptance is a cost that is almost impossible to enumerate, but that cost is often enough to put companies out of business all together.

Those with the natural ability to clearly state the importance of the brand and messaging will do well, but those that recognize they need professional assistance will do better, more times than not.

7. Non-Sales Sales – Every word, phrase or comment needs to be accurate, enthusiastic and positive to be able to influence others. Whether it be customers or potentials, employees or investors, your ability to educate and train is a skill that must be impeccably talent-filled. When speaking to customers or potentials, your job is to educate them on the value your product or service brings to them. You must be able to articulate the benefits and features, but more importantly, help them recognize how you can make their life better. People want to know what it will do for them, and secondly how much something is. People don’t want to be sold; they want to be educated. The choice to buy is theirs, and you shouldn’t try to “sell” them.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a sales person pushes a product or service on you, even if you are in the market for some version of what this person is pushing on you? For instance, you are in the market for a car, so you go out and check out the new models. Instantly a plaid suited (no offense to any car salespeople reading this) sales person is in your face, telling you all about the great this and that of the car, never even asking you what you need out of a car.

There are people in the sales industry from every occupation, but the ones that excel are those that demonstrate a genuine interest in you and your needs. If you need basic transportation, you don’t need to purchase a BMW, when a Chevy will suffice. If you need a watch that keeps time, you don’t need a Rolex, when a Timex will do. The effective sales person understands what the customer is in need of and fills that need. This is where listening and talking must be in proper ratio. Some say that people have two ears and one mouth; to listen twice as much as they speak. Sound advice.

8. Walk in Someone Else’s Moccasins – As noted in the New Testament, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat others as you want to be treated; basic human relations. Empathy, one of those emotional attitudes and feelings; what everyone needs, but not everyone has. In fact, psychologists determine that one of the most important emotions is empathy; to be able to feel what others feel; how others experience the world. If one can clearly relate to what another person is going through, the overall level of basic human relations would change the world.

By nature, human beings are a judgmental species, and the ability to turn that emotion off, or better yet, minimize naturally by conscious thought will go a long way towards understanding others. Not everyone has a “super day” everyday. In fact, most people have so many things going on in their individual lives that their time on the job, in the office, or interacting with others is influenced so much by those “bothersome thoughts” clearly affect how they think, act, hear or interpret what is being said or done to them.

As a business owner, it pays terrific dividends to develop your empathetic skill set, regardless of the fact that it is good human relations to feel and understand those around you. Your staff, customers, vendors and affiliates deserve your understanding, positive relations and favorable thoughts. After all, why else are we here?

9. Money; Finding and Keeping it – There is a certain language that investors expect, and anyone approaching them with an idea needs to prepare him or herself. Cap Rates, Dissolution of Equity, Escalation Clause, EBITA, Regulation D, Rule 506, Section 4(2), Non-accredited investors, Private Placement Memorandums, SEC filings, S.A.R.’s, and an entire glossary of other terms particular to raising money, financial structure, deferred compensation, succession planning, financial targets and much, much more.

There is an art to raising capital; from seed money to the final round at pre-IPO. Today’s entrepreneur must have a handle on the language, because investors want to know how intelligent you are. They see dozens of business plans each day, so they won’t bother spending time reading through yours. The executive summary will get a quick look, but they don’t have the time or inclination to study it.

Investors want to know if your idea is worth their time; what’s in it for them? If you can articulate the steps involved in making sure they understand the increasing value of their investment, they may be more inclined to give you more than ninety seconds of their time. You need to make certain that when you agree to the terms of the investor group, you have sufficient investment to make it to opening. Investors don’t like to hear that things didn’t go according to plan.

So you have been successful in gathering investors, now what? You, as the Chief Experience Officer, need to ensure that the cash flows are kept in line, that you report your progress in a timely manner to the investors, and you also need to stick to the plan, unless your investors agree to alter it. A good CPA with significant start-up experience is in control of the accounting, and that all key personnel are tuned in to the fact that it is not an open check book; that every dollar is accounted for.

10. Master of All I Survey – A general management skill set is mandatory, like every other skill set on the list. What is important more than anything is the fact that the chief decision maker or the tiebreaker must be a thoroughly experienced manager of people, resources, finances, sales and marketing, public relations and supplier/customer relations? This person is the glue and overseer of the entire operation, the final word on all decisions, position and direction. This is where the buck stops; the ultimate responsible party.

This person need not be the entrepreneur, but the entrepreneur must rely and trust upon the person in that seat at the table. I have personally worked for the owners of companies that were unwilling, but mostly unable to, make the hard decisions, get out of the way and stop interfering with their own company’s success. I often refer to the process of having the owner stay out of the business is to “Owner-Proof” the business. That is, to hire the right people for the right job, provide the leadership but leave the decision-making and responsibility to the individuals in charge of their area of expertise. After all, the operation should run as good, and possibly, better than when the owner is present in the business.

Recently, an entrepreneur I am familiar with was speaking with potential investors, but had no expertise in raising capital. There is a particular language, and requires just the right skill set to be able to articulate the needs, and highlighting the returns on the investment being sought. This man had no idea how to pitch the venture capitalists, and made a fool of himself. He was fortunate enough to receive an offer, but it was conditional on him selling his business outright, and receiving a lifetime residual royalty for the remainder of his life. He would receive the amount he was requesting for a small percentage of the company, but the VC’s wanted 100% of the firm, thereby making the owner redundant. This man could have become a millionaire (over time), but he would not yield his position. His product was tremendous, with multi-million dollar, international distribution capabilities, but he had no skill sets other than passion. There was no team of experts in place, no ability to gain a bank loan due to the weakness of management, yet he turned down a very lucrative offer. Within a year, he was completely out of business. A competitor managed to talk him out of his intellectual property and his patents, and became the leader in the world for this type of product. He refused to get out of his own way. How unfortunate, but true. It seems that he was more interested in the bragging rights of ownership than he was concerned about the ability to share his dream, profit handsomely from it, and be able to retire at the age of 37.

The point is that, as an entrepreneur, it is important to know your limitations, fill in the shortcomings you have with competent people and let the experts do what they do.

Entrepreneurs and emerging enterprises have a major responsibility to their chosen project, and that is to perform at an exemplary level. After all, there are lives counting on your success, from your immediate family to the country at large. Small business generates more than fifty percent of the nation’s economic output.

David J Dunworth is a business consultant to the entrepreneur and emerging enterprise sectors, and is the Chief Executive Officer of TeXT-Icon Mobile Marketing Communications (, a full service marketing company. For additional information, see his blog at

David Dunworth

Serial entrepreneur with too many projects and too little time or caffeine. I also write a blog found

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Top Ten Must-Have Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs Part 1

This article is broken into two distinct parts and will be published a day or so apart. It is done so for the sake of publishing. Email the author for a complete version if you so desire.

Part One of Two

Like a toolbox full of items, skill sets are what’s used to build a successful business. There are those out in my audience that may think differently about the coming list, but it dawned on me many years ago that even though the names of the skill sets required to be successful as an entrepreneur may be different, they mean the same thing.

It is my solemn belief that these are mandated skill sets; that is, they either are present in the entrepreneurs themselves, or exist in the key staff or stakeholders the entrepreneurs employ. Regardless of where they lie, these skills should be developed, honed, improved and cultivated to reach the lofty goals of success as an entrepreneur.

1. Succession Planning
2. Life - Work Balance
3. Open- Mindedness
4. Talent Management
5. Conversion- Ideas to Action
6. Communications
7. Teacher-Consultant
8. Empathy
9. Financial Acumen
10. Generalist Management

1. Start With the End in Mind

After all, what are you trying to get out of becoming an entrepreneur? Most entrepreneurs actively work in the business concept; it’s their baby.They hatched the idea, converted it into a living, breathing entity, and it was because of their effort, investment, expertise (and luck), so it goes without saying. What they often fail to think about, or at least not commit to paper, is what their intentions are once the business is up and running. Some entrepreneurs are design, build, sell types of entrepreneurs, so their goals often get met within the first couple of years. Then it’s on to the next idea.

What do you do when it comes to retirement? Who will succeed you? Should you pass the business on to an heir, or sell the business outright? These are all questions that need to be answered prior to starting on a new enterprise. It isn’t glamorous like birthing a new idea, or securing the first level of financing, but this skill is the most important step in the organization of a new concept.

The majority of entrepreneurs grow the business to a level that it might produce decent revenues, maybe even a nice profit, but it slightly more than owning a job. At the conclusion of their working within the business, they either merely cease operations; allow a friend or relative to run it or some other form of transfer.

The goal in developing an entrepreneurial endeavor is to grow the business to self-sustainability, revenues in the millions, and a clear path to long term success. That is on which we need to focus our attention.

If the goal is to “build a nest egg for retirement,” you should lay out a plan to do so. What happens if the business really does become successful? That is a question many entrepreneurs don’t know how to answer. No, really. They do all this work trying to make the business into a real entity, and then when it finally takes off, they are dumbfounded and lost. I have seen many companies go from nothing to $4-5 Million in annual revenues. Once hitting that plateau, they tumble to non-existence within a year or two. Fear of failure is the buzz term, but the fear of succeeding is more prevalent, but seldom verbalized.

Leaders with a certain amount of ability are fully capable of managing their endeavor, but only to a certain point. It is fact that different revenue levels require different levels of skill. You might be able to understand everything about business, but do you know what to do when faced with a hostile takeover, or a merger, or going public or any other new set of issues? Not necessarily.

Entrepreneurs generally fall into two categories, at least in my experience. They are either great “idea generators” or “action heroes.” The rare entrepreneur is both, and has the ability to gather the skill sets for success in partners, key staff or stakeholders that fill all of the necessary requirements for assured success.

The first ones, the idea generators, are terrific at thinking up new concepts, better ways of getting it done, are quick to offer their opinion and often suffer from some form of attention deficit syndrome (not scientifically, but it seems like it). I like to call it Selective Attention. They get out-of-their-mind excited when they come up with a new idea, but move on to the next one as soon as they get bored with it. That’s often the reason why emerging enterprises never seem to make it over the revenue hurdles to become profitable and sustainable.

The second, the action heroes, are the entrepreneurs that get excited about the parts of the business of which they are good. An example of what I mean is a Contractor. The contractor in this entrepreneur loves to do the architectural planning, writing the specifications, planning the interior finishes, but is burned out from doing the actual construction. He hires tradesmen to perform the physical tasks of pouring the concrete, putting on the roof, laying the bricks, etc. He can’t afford to hire (or partner with) a sound CPA, so he settles for an accounting major from the local community college to “do the books.” Do you see where I am headed with this example? They can be extremely busy, work long hours but not accomplishing the growth of the business.

2. Successful at Home; Happy at Work

Your life and your work are intertwined, and therefore each requires attention. When one is out of adjustment, and unequal in emotion to the other, difficulties in both will emerge. I called this topic Life and Work Balance, but balance conjures up a scale, like the blindfolded goddess with the scales of justice upheld, with opposing elements under evaluation. Your personal life and your entrepreneurial endeavors are not opposing elements, not should they ever be. I choose to refer to this situation as a blend of purposes; one completely intertwined and whole, resembling a braided rope. Independent cords wound together to form an extremely strong blend, resulting in an item individual to itself.

If you have a significant other, such as a spouse, partner, a complete family, or those that are close to you, they should never have to suffer as a result of your going into business. Done well, those closest to you should be in full agreement of the newly planned venture, or you will never have harmony in that part of your life. Occasionally, an entrepreneur will have a temporary setback and have to “stay late at the office,” but substitute family time should be scheduled to make up for it. Routine late nights, long weekends at work and unrelenting stress of never being home will destroy a relationship. Even the most rock-solid of marriages have fallen apart because the scales were tipped to one side for too long; the rope of the tug of war beginning to unravel.

Your children will certainly need you to parent them, regardless of age. If they live under your roof or under your purview, they need the influence of a caring parent. All too often entrepreneurs get so involved in their venture that they begin to ignore everything and everyone that is not directly in front of them, so family, the home front and everything else is forgotten. There comes a point in time that ignoring them becomes rote, and resentment and apathy toward you will grow until it breaks the silence with controversy.

3. Constant Learning

Entrepreneurs need to be open to new things; to embrace the unknown and master it. Things you never thought of will come up during the formative phase of the emergence of your endeavor, so don’t shy away from them. It is easy to delegate responsibilities to others, but when it comes down to “getting it done” there is only one person ultimately responsible. If there is no one to delegate the unsavory or difficult tasks to, you need to be ready, willing and able to tackle the subject, learning as quickly and thoroughly as possible that skill that is required.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day, with your head down, trudging forward. It is also easy to lose sight of what is really important; filling all the squares. When gaps occur and there is no one to hand off the next cog being placed into the machine which is your new venture, you need to do whatever is needed to gain the knowledge, accomplish the task, and keep the project moving forward.

Having trouble concentrating? Then step away from the project for a short time and clear your head. Take a day off and do something that is little stress, a place of quiet or something physical. I recommend picking up a book, finding a quiet corner and taking your mind completely off the business. Pick up a copy of Dickens, or Austen, Bronte or Tolstoy, maybe the Bible or Koran, or any other type of spiritual belief material; anything other than a business journal. The classics are a departure from the every day, and offer insights into life through other’s eyes. That’s why more and more scholars recommend a liberal arts education for the first years of college. How can anyone learn anything about life if they don’t study how is has been lived in times past? You can’t learn management in school, it has to be learned by putting theory into action, repeatedly. A Bachelor’s Degree in management doesn’t make any sense to me. Listen to classical music, read the classics, and gain that generalist’s outlook on the world to regain your focus and recharge the batteries.

4. All Things H.R.

The ability to search out the finest candidate for a particular responsibility is crucial to the success of an organization. It is always best to find three of the best people in the area that you can afford. Sometimes, if the upside potential of the venture is quite positive, it may be able to hire or acquire the absolute sharpest talent in the nation/world, even if you can’t pay them what they are worth to bring them on board. You may not have the cash on hand, but you do have tremendous potential, and can offer them a base and stock options, percentage of the company, or some combination of base salary, stock appreciation rights, commission and benefit package that can persuade the top talent to work with you instead of for you. Venture capitalists are great sources for top talent, as they will prefer to place their key people into the organization to protect their financial interests in the investment. Don’t be afraid to approach VC’s when it comes to sourcing executive talent.

One of the things I recommend to my clients when hiring is to take their time. Hire slow, fire fast is my talent mantra. Take the time to fully investigate references, delve into the prospective hire’s former company, perform a background check, drug screen, and ask the person to sigh a non-disclosure, non-compete agreement once you actually decide to hire them. If there comes a point that the person doesn’t work out, or you discover that something attested to during the hiring process is false, dismiss (fire) them immediately.

There is a multitude of labor laws, both state and federal, and deserve your adherence. Companies with less than fifty employees have a different set of laws to comply with than companies with more than fifty, so if you plan to grow above that headcount, you may want to structure your company under the more stringent labor laws, saving time and retraining, revision of handbooks and policies later. It is better to over-comply than it is to get caught short. Fines, penalties and government oversight are not comfortable or inexpensive with which to contend.

When it comes to motivation, senior executives don’t need much of it. They are accustomed to performing their jobs, know what is expected, but may need some encouragement to stick to the message (Mission and Vision) when communicating with subordinate staff. As for line workers (when you get to the point of having them), a positive, employee focused set of motivators need to be in place from the onset. Today’s young workforces are more interested in quality of life than they are with compensation. They may not want to devote their entire waking moments to “the job” but they do want to excel.

5. Conversion: Ideas into Action

The ability to turn ideas into real products or services is paramount to a successful business. All too often the new entrepreneur has a terrific idea, sits on it so long that someone else thinks of the same thing and makes a million dollars. The newbie pouts, sulks and blames the world for working against him/her, never realizing that an ideas float around the universe constantly, landing in more than one place. Those who have the ability to take immediate action often are those who are deemed “lucky” or “genius” individuals. The truth is that they aren’t any luckier, smarter or blessed than anyone else, they know the value of action. These successful individuals have the knack of converting ideas, thoughts and “old to new” products or services into viable, profitable entities.

Not only is the conversion of ideas into action relative to products or services, conversion of the energy of subordinates is just as valuable. By incentivizing subordinate staff, business partners and any other stakeholders, the positive energy you bring to the idea or concept will become incrementally greater

Author – David J Dunworth is a business consultant to the entrepreneur and emerging enterprise sectors, and is the Chief Executive Officer of TeXT-Icon Mobile Marketing Communications (, a full service marketing company. For additional information, see his blog at

David Dunworth

Serial entrepreneur with too many projects and too little time or caffeine. I also write a blog found