Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009 - Horrible or Outstanding?

As we head into a New Year that many people seem to be dreading, it seems to be a great time to talk about goals.

Michelangelo said "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it."

Is that how you feel in your life? If you're like most people, you probably haven't thought much about it and you fall in the latter category.

Every millionaire I know has set goals in their lives. Check out the interviews I've done with them and learn how they found success in their lives.

Will 2009 be a year of excitement for you and your family, or will it be similar to 2008? The time to make that decision is now.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lacking Ideas?

It's far easier to say you don't have an idea to act on than it is to admit you are afraid to act on the ideas you do have.

It's pretty rare that I talk to a business owner who has no ideas for their business. They may say they don't have any ideas, but once pressed you'll find fear at the heart of their decision making.

If there is one thing that is detrimental to business, it is operating out of fear. If I find myself making any decisions in life based out of fear, I know the decision will usually be wrong.

What can you do to confront your fear? If you cannot then you have two choices.
  1. The idea must not be acted on
  2. You have no business being in business
Are you operating out of fear?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Save on Groceries Quickly

Angle Food Ministries is incredible. Christine and I have been using them for months. No seconds or left overs and it's open to everyone.

$80 of groceries for $30. What could be better?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Key to Success is One Thing at a Time

Did you know that each of us has a limited supply of willpower, and that if you exert it in too many areas at once you run out? This could explain why if you try to make too many changes in your life at once, you may end up giving up.

A study from Case Western Reserve University revealed this. When researchers placed freshly baked chocolate chip cookies before two groups of participants they told one group to eat two or three and the other to eat radishes, while watching the others eat the cookies. Afterward, everyone was asked to try and solve an impossible puzzle. Those who had to resist the cookies gave up on the problem twice as fast as those who indulged.

The researcher, Kathleen D. Vohs, PhD, said to think of the reserve like gas in your car. When you resist temptation you use some up. The more you resist, the emptier the tank gets until you eventually run out of gas.

This is an important consideration if you are trying to make health changes. You should focus on the most important thing you want improve and avoid making other changes at the same time. For instance don't try to cut back on television time and try to eat healthier at the same time. You will be much more likely to give up before being successful.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Uncoachable Coach

I am usually amazed when talking with other coaches, counselors, practitioners and business owner. Many of them come to me because their businesses are not supporting them financially and they have a big lack of clients.

As a coach who coaches with other coaches and business owners to help them build their practices, I have a lot of experience in dealing with some major egos.

The amazing part is that these coaches expect clients to knock down their doors seeking their advice and pay a fee to do it, but they themselves do not do the same in their business.

I for one have hired numerous coaches throughout my tenure as a coach and a business owner. I've spent two days 1:1 with a coach, traveled across the country and have had countless phone calls to help me improve my offering.

Why in the world would I expect someone to engage with me if i won't engage with others?

And this is why 51% of coaches in the US made less than $10,000 last year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Living Your Calling or Hating Your Job?

The common thing many Americans do is to plan their life around their work. This tends to lead to stress, marital and family issues and even depressing weekends, because Monday is just around the corner.

Why do we do this? Doesn't is make much more sense to plan our work around our lives instead of the other way around? Unfortunately most people cannot get over what I call "comfortable misery".

In other words, they are stuck in a rut, but it's not so bad they are motivated to make a change.

There are many things you can do if this describes you. I suggest you start by planning your goals for next year and at least 5 years into the future. I've made our goal-planning worksheet available to you for free if you'd like a bit of help getting started.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Hottest Job Markets

With all the talk of employees losing their jobs, there are still some hot job markets in the U.S. My home city of Raleigh, NC (and neighboring Durham) scored a spot as the fourth hottest in the country in a study by the American City Business Journals.

Raleigh added nearly 79,000 jobs over the past 5 years, which is a 22% increase, towering above the nationwide average of only 6%. The Texas cities of Houston, Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth scored the top three slots.

What is not included in this study is the number of businesses that have been started in the area.

Over 98% of companies in the U.S. employee less than 100 people. Small business literally fuels our economy. If you're not in a position that you like, take charge, follow your passions and increase your income doing something you love.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Community College can Save Money

With the cost of a college education rising almost double the cost of inflation, there must eventually come a point where it becomes too expensive to obtain a higher education. Is this all a bad thing?

I don't think so. There is a lot to be said for institutional learning that is done in a school, but there is also a lot to be said for real world experience.

With 80% of college grads working in something unrelated to their major within 10 years of graduation, it may be a good deal to check out a local community college and begin the process there.

Most credits will transfer when you realize what it is you really want to do, but the biggest savings will come in the form of less money spent.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reason #6 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

You are the same as all of the other businesses around you.

Stop and think for a moment about why someone would buy your product or service instead of from the company down the street or in another state. In other words, what makes you different? If during this exercise you determine that you are just about the same as all of the other businesses then you certainly are not unique.

Every business that wishes to turn a 6-figure profit must determine their unique selling proposition or USP. The difference between you and the competition should set you apart and make your ideal customer beg to do business with you.

If you remain the same then most prospects will purchase based on price. Do you really want to market your services to someone that will leave just as soon as your product or service is offered for dollars cheaper somewhere else?

My USP in the financial coaching realm is that I do not sell investments, insurance or anything magic software that makes getting out of debt any easier as most companies do. My focus with my business clients across the country is to help their businesses turn a six-figure income in 24 months or less.

Some great things that could set you apart from your competition and have customers knocking down your door could be fast delivery, uncommon results for your clients, quickly returned phone calls, stellar customer service, overnight service, no-hassle guarantees or no-pain dentistry or doctor.

Whatever your USP make sure you convey it to your customer base. It is likely the main reason they will do business with you. Domino’s Pizza is not known for great pizza, but if you want it there fast, everyone still remembers their “30-minutes or less or your pizza is free” slogan.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reason #5 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

Marketing to yourself instead of your target market

Picture yourself as a business owner with a problem. You have a problem because your company, which has been successful in the past, has been experiencing a downturn. If you are a business owner you probably do not have to use much imagination because this business owner is probably you.

When you begin to analyze the reasons of a downturn in business it is very easy to blame the economy. “All businesses are doing bad, just look at the economy!” I hear this one all too often. But what if we thought different? What if, instead of blaming the economy for our business downturn, we embrace it and actually use a slowing economy to our benefit? What would it look like for your business to be thriving in a down period?

That is exactly what I have been coaching business owners to do. In fact, I think that now is a great time to start a business. You heard it right. Instead of blaming external factors, how about we embrace them!

If the economy has changed, that’s perfectly ok. If your business is suffering now, the market has somehow changed. My question to you is what have you not changed either your marketing plan or your entire business model to keep up with the change? If you are not marketing to consumers who need your product or service then in the long run, you are really only marketing to yourself. I for one am willing to bet that you will not be able to purchase enough from your company to stay in business. Why not change?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am Determined...

... to get a radio show to you. This morning my wife Christine joined me on the show to share how we save over $1,000 each month in our house.

We had a problem getting into the studio, but we did not let a pane of glass stop us. We broke in a few minutes before going live.

You can listen to the show here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reason #4 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

Having only one source of referrals

I coach with many coaches across the country to help them build their practices. A common problem most of them have in their business is having only one source of referrals. Many of the Dave Ramsey coaches I talk with rely solely on Dave’s company to send them all of their referrals. This is also a problem that I see not only in services businesses, but also with businesses selling traditional products.

As a Certified Dave Ramsey Coach myself, my market is a very small one for Dave Ramsey. As a result I have had to build models and streams of referrals that do not depend entirely on one organization sending prospects to me. I even consider anything that Dave’s company sends directly to me as icing on the cake, where many others rely nearly 100% on this one source.

When working directly with any Dave Ramsey Coach, I would prefer they be in a small market for Dave Ramsey because they must quickly learn to rely on building their business on more than one referral stream. Any time you are reliant on one source for anything in a business, risk enters the picture. What if someone else comes into your market that was trained by Dave Ramsey? Immediately your referrals could be cut in half. What if Dave Ramsey’s company decides to no longer send prospects to you? Again, your business dries up. What if your one buyer decides to branch out and find a cheaper product?

The importance of having more than one stream of referrals has never been more important. Take a look at where the majority of clients and customers in your business come from. Can you expand to reach other areas? As you do I guarantee your income will soar.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Overcoming Insanity

Most twelve-step programs define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Those credit cards that have barely budged during the last few years while you have been “getting out of debt” are a sure sign that your plan is not working. Since we just identified your problem, why do you keep doing the same things while expecting to be debt free? It will not work.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

How long will you persist and not make any progress? Is your spouse still on board with your plans, or have they completely forgotten about them? Are you going to keep wallowing around, or is today the day you have decided to ACT?

You must first of all ask yourself “What is my plan?” If you draw a blank after asking that question that’s great; we have likely just found the reason you are stuck. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said long ago that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Your time is valuable. Treat it as such and plan for action.

Next you must ask yourself why your plan has not worked. Specifically, is there something missing, or have you simply failed to start. It is very easy to get hung up in any stage of a plan, but especially at the beginning. Many times you just need to begin and the rest will fall into place. Do not worry if you everything does not fit nicely into your plan. If you want it bad enough you will quickly overcome most any obstacle with hard work and determination.

Do you have someone in your cheering section; possibly a good friend or better yet, your spouse? Accountability is the hidden ingredient behind Weight Watchers and is the best way I know to get out of debt. Many of my clients come to me because they need accountability, regardless of whether or not they are married.

Take a look at why your plan is not working and then readjust for action!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Working full time while growing a business?

I did the same thing while I got my practice off the ground. It can be tough to prioritize and manage every aspect of the business while still leaving time for family, friends and other activities.

Are you struggling with this area? What are some of the ideas you've put in place to make sure you stay focused while still giving time in these other important areas?

Here are some of mine:

  1. My wife and I sat down and took a realistic look at what would be required to get this going. As a captain with a large national airline, I wasn't working in my passion. We determined that it would likely take 1.5 years of sacrifice to grow the business while remaining full time. During that time we limited our functions (and our family time) in order to focus on what needed to be done. I'm all for putting family first, but unless we could grow quickly, my wife and I knew it wouldn't be effective. So we sacrificed for 18 months and I'll tell you, it was more than worth it. Often, I only had 1 day off per week, but I safeguarded it above everything else.
  2. Prioritize. What do you really need to spend your time doing? What is the most important thing in your business right now? What is number two? Do them in that order.
  3. Don't spend time hanging around the water cooler. Remain effective in your current job so you can finish your work early. If you have the ability, focus on growing your business with your new found time. Or work on it over your lunch break. Do whatever you can to focus and limit your time in the transition.
  4. Surround yourself with others that can help you grow your business. My biggest supporter was my wife (and still is). You need people in your life that will give you encouragement and provide you with honest feedback.
What are your ideas?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reason #3 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

Doing too many tasks on your own instead of hiring or outsourcing.

Many small business owners are eager to jump into their business and do everything from the start. That's a great attitude to have but I think you'll quickly find that you will be overcome with what Michael Gerber calls working in the business rather than on the business. There is a very important distinction to be made here.

Working in the business means paying bills, handling payroll, finding the best deals on internet and phone service and making sure the fax machine you have is still the best fit for you.

Working on the business means doing the sort of things that actually pay the bills (including payroll) and make you happy. This is the reason you started your business, is it not?

Grab a notepad right now and list out the things that make up your business day. Put down everything, even if you're not working in your business full-time yet. You have to design business cards, handle website maintenance and, oh yeah, actually talk with your customers.

Begin investigating what it would take to outsource some of the tasks of your business in order to both free up your time and increase your business revenues.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reason #2 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

Not defining your target market.

"You mean I can't work with just anyone?"

I get this question a lot. Why would I intentionally shut certain people out of my business if my services are for everyone?

Most people in North America are in debt and manage their money poorly. I can help almost anyone improve their relationship with their spouse and manage their money better, but if I market to everyone, essentially I reach no one.

I met a financial planner recently who targets successful women and their families. At first glance he just shut out about half of the country by not targeting men. And then he defined his market as successful women. Talk about a great niche!

But just because you designate a specific niche doesn't mean you can't work with other types of clients. My friend will work with just about anyone that comes to him. As he markets his business however, he is able to fine-tune and specify exactly the kind of clients he's looking for and go directly to the source to find them.

The more focused you are, the more bang for your buck that you get when it comes to marketing.

Auto dealers do this exact same thing. The Honda dealer would love to work on your Accord. You'll pay a lot more than at the shop down the street. There is some implied reasoning that the Honda dealer will do a better job, although some could argue that. Even though the mechanics at Honda can fix your Accord, they will also fix your Ford or GM. But you'll never see that in their marketing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reason #1 for not making at least $10,000 per month in your business

Teaching or helping your client with a task that you're unqualified to teach.

I would never hire a coach to help me reach a place they have never been. In my practice I think it's even unethical to work with a client that wants to go somewhere I have never been. I point those people in another direction where they will get the service they need.

Nothing prepares you to help others better than having lived something out in your own life. As I always say, find someone at the level you want to be at and learn from them.

Would you take financial advice from someone who has been broke all of their life and never seems to be able to get it together? What about weight-loss advice from your friend who never leaves the couch and weighs 300 pounds? Not a chance!

I don't want investment advice from someone fresh out of school with no money in the market. I am sure they have a certain amount of perspective they can add to to my investments, but I want the best, and I'm willing to pay for it.

For the same reason, if your business is a marriage counselor, but you have been married three times, I am guessing you are not making much money. If you offer auto repair but you have to constantly bum rides to work because your car is on blocks, there is a problem.

Find something you have experience in and excel at doing. Can you shape a business around that? I promise you the money will be there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Set Goals; They Don't Work

Goals often begin for most people as dreams. They envision themselves forty pounds lighter, one million dollars richer, or the envy of everyone in their neighborhood because their driveway has the newest car in it.
Progressing from the dream stage, goals often progress to New Year’s resolutions. Health clubs see their biggest influx of new members during this time of year, but most fizzle out around the 2-month mark. What is interesting is that many times these same gym goers still maintain their memberships, thinking they may still show up when the time becomes right. It never becomes right.
New Year’s is a time to pursue dreams previously unattained. Swimsuit season is approaching and “this is they year I will not feel like an outcast on the beach.” New Year’s resolutions rarely come to fruition because of one major downfall... they are not written down.
When you physically write your plans on an old fashioned piece of paper they can be converted into goals. The left and right sides of your brain get to connect when you physically write. The two independent A and B sides are finally aware of what the other is thinking.
You have a much higher probability of reaching your dreams when you convert them to goals and put them in writing, but many times it still doesn’t happen. Why not? One word... intention.
Intention separates those who do and those who only want to do. Intention begins with written goals and puts action behind them. If you want to make an extra $30,000 next year, make it a goal. $30,000 equals $2,500 additional income per month or $600 per week.
Next, state your intentions. What do you need to do to make an extra $600 per week? You might have to deliver pizzas four or five nights per week. If you are in sales that might involve getting in front of four more prospective clients each month of the year. The point is that you need a plan.
Writing your goals on paper is a good start, but it will only get you so far. If you want to reach your dreams, you must develop a plan.
Visit www.lukascoaching.com/resources.htm to download the same goals worksheet that Christine and I follow every year.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is it Ethical to Adopt a Child with a Credit Card?

My friends Stephen and C.C. would have in a heartbeat, but God had other plans for them.

They leave for China on Ocotober 24th to bring home their second child Henry. Listen to their motivating story they told me today on the radio show and visit www.henrypalooza.com for all the details, including how they are raising more than $25,000 in just 4 months!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Struggling With Business in a Down Economy?

I recently posted this question openly on LinkedIn. While the responses varied, the overwhelming majority of business folks who answered said the downturn in the economy was the biggest problem holding their company back from being great.

Mary answered simply “UM...the economy! :P”.

A few nights ago my family and I were leaving a friend’s home around 7 pm. As we drove down the interstate our 2-year old daughter said “Mommy; Target.” Sure enough, there along the interstate was the side of Target. What is interesting about this story is that at two years old our daughter cannot read. Even more interesting is the fact that the word “Target” could not even be seen from the road; only the graphical part of their bull’s eye.

My first reaction was to ask my wife how much time she honestly spends there each day. Then I wondered what it would look like if kids recognized other businesses as much as my daughter recognized Target.

Our economy is changing, I do not deny that. Ask Best Buy how much they are hurting and they will quickly tell you that big-screen TVs are at an all-time high for sales. As much as we want to blame our problems on the economy, as business owners, the problem often falls on us.

How have you adapted your business to the changing economy? The businesses I coach with have not noticed a downturn in business simply because the economy has changed. Many of them have actually noticed an increase in their business.

You must continually be adapting to the changing market. If not, you are being left behind. Target has done a great job of branding itself to its market. My guess is “the economy” is not hurting their business model. How could you benefit from adapting to the marketplace rather than complaining about it?

Here are all the answers on LinkedIn.

Can Your Brand do This?

We were driving home from a friend's house recently when our nearly 4-year old daughter said from the back seat "There's Target Daddy!"

This was in a location that we rarely drive by and all you could see was the logo and not the actual word "Target."

I realize we probably visit too much, but what would it look like for business if kids did that with your brand? My guess is that Target is not blaming the economy on bad business right now. Are you?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What I Learned from Lunch with Ron Blue

I learned that Ron and I are a lot alike. After the stock market tanked and subsequently rebounded in 1987 (does the first half of that story sound familiar?) Ron testified before Congress.

Senetor Dodd asked him what Americans need to do to survive. Ron said "Easy, we all need to do 4 things." When someone like Ron gives you a list of things you need to do, you grab a pen and get ready to write.
  1. You need to spend less than you make
  2. You need to get out of debt and stay out
  3. You need to have an emergency fund
  4. You need to have long-term goals instead of living for today.
If you know me at all you'll be familiar with this list because it's exactly what I teach! Download the steps if you like.

Senator Dodd was just as intrigued as I was when Ron announced he had a list and took diligent notes. The Senator was dumbfounded that it could be that easy. Ron's response? If it works for the people Senator, it also must work for the government."

Point taken Ron. Thanks for lunch.

Let's Hear it for Networking

I was able to attend an event last night with some of the brightest minds in Raleigh, NC. The intellect in one room was amazing.

My advice, don't ever turn down the chance to connect and meet some new friends. Whether you're looking for a new job, a change in career or any other number of things, it's amazing what can happen to open up to others and talk.

iContact owner Ryan Allis and I will be talking about Social Entrepreneurship on the Past Due Radio Show on October 4th. This is one you won't want to miss. Ryan built a company from $0 to over $1,000,000 in sales in his early 20's and is now working to eradicate poverty and human suffering without simply infusing money into a culture.

Talk to everyone you meet because they all have a story. I am willing to bet you can help them some way which always comes back to you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How's Your Portfolio?

This question conjures the image of Ivy League chums in smoking jackets spouting business jargon in an effort to impress each other. A portfolio is nothing more than a collection of investments.

Could be stocks, bonds, or real estate. Could be career, time with kids, and spiritual life.

We coach our clients in the career and financial aspects of their lives, resolving to help them regain control. Take control of your work life – do something you’re passionate about. Take control of your finances – live on a plan to eliminate the burden of debt and bask in financial freedom.

In the investing world, we’re supposed to make educated decisions with money over the long term. In our daily world, we must responsibly make decisions about ourselves and our family. You could work a part-time job in a field you love to see if there’s a long-term fit. You could leave the office and have lunch with your kids. You could read a book that challenges you to grow spiritually. You could seek help with creating a plan for your financial future.

They all take time – an investment on your part. They all require effort – you have to take control of the situation.

So, how’s your portfolio?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Ways to Get Rich

Parade recently had a great article with Warren Buffett who is the richest man in the world. According to Warren, here are 10 ways to get rich:

  1. Reinvest your profits
  2. Be willing to be different
  3. Never suck your thumb
  4. Spell out the deal before you start
  5. Watch small expenses
  6. Limit what you borrow
  7. Be persistent
  8. Know when to quit
  9. Assess the risks
  10. Know what success really means
When the richest man in the world speaks, it's a good idea to listen.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Create Demand for Your Products and Services

We all want to create more of a demand for our higher priced products and services. You may even feel like it's a hard sell to get a customer or client to upgrade and spend more money.

But what if the demand started with the customer instead of in the sales department?

My friends at iContact do a great job at this. Check out this chart that you can find if you want to upgrade your account...

At iContact you are charged more for each contact you have on your list. This chart really makes you strive to build that list, even though it costs more each month to do so.

Why remain clever or sharp when you can be brilliant, advanced or even a genius?

How can you build customer demand into your products and services? Let them do the selling and you may not have to.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Power of Relaxation

I have been on a working vacation for almost 2 weeks now. We are in California with family, but every few days I have scheduled phone coaching with clients around the country.

I often hear from business owners who lack clarity and ideas for their business. If this is you I urge you to take some time off to reconnect with why you started your business. I can't believe the number of ideas I have come up with in such a short amount of time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Raising Your Income to Become Debt Free

During the radio show this past weekend we talked about getting out of debt. Do you REALLY want to be debt free? Do you REALLY want to accomplish your long-term goals, build wealth, and become a better giver? What holds you back?

We have clients that leave our offices and immediately brainstorm what they can pull together for a yard sale by the next weekend. Some clients are out doing side work painting houses and fixing air conditioning. Others are delivering pizzas or sorting boxes for UPS and FedEx.

There are only two ways to make your monthly budget balance: increase your income, or decrease your outgo (expenses). Debt payments raise monthly expenses, so increasing income is the best way to speed up the debt snowball process.

So...do you REALLY want to be debt free? Life has plenty to offer, from fulfilling careers to making a difference in the lives of those around you by freely giving. Don't let income be an excuse that prevents you from finding your path to financial freedom.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Clean Up, Aisle Nine: Broke Customers

A recent survey by analytics firm Precima showed that 82% of U.S. consumers intend to keep cooking at home instead of eating out even after the economy improves and they have more disposable income. On top of that, 84% of consumers plan to keep hunting for specials in grocery store fliers, and 78% are making fewer trips to the store to save on gas.

There’s no doubt that gas and consumer goods price inflation has been running wild during the past year. Americans are rapidly changing their behaviors to make ends meet and keep food on the table. Is inflation causing financial strain, or revealing deeper problems? (Is this a “chicken and egg” question?)

70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck according to the Wall Street Journal; our national savings rate hovers around 0%. Perhaps rising consumer prices are enough to topple the financial house of cards so much of the country lives in. Rising prices expose the overextended. A written monthly budget allows you to take control of your money and reinforce your financial foundation.

Here are a few ideas for your next grocery store trip: 1) don’t shop hungry, you’ll buy things you don’t need; 2) stick to a list; 3) only use coupons for items you use (no sense stocking up on 4-for-1 canned garbanzo beans if you don’t eat them); 4) use CASH! Studies show we spend 12%-18% more when paying with plastic. Establish a monthly grocery budget using a cash envelope to monitor your spending. It’s easy: when the cash is gone, the only places to “shop” are your pantry and freezer.

Confronting your financial situation honestly is the first step on the path toward financial freedom. Don’t miss your opportunity to take control of your life and money today!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Why Credit Cards are a Bad Idea

As parents, we need to teach their children about money before they go away to college, and ideally, starting much younger than that.

redit card companies pay universities millions of dollars each year to hand out free pizzas, clothing and credit card applications. If you do not teach your children about how to handle money, Visa and MasterCard will.

My wife and I are choosing to take this responsibility head-on because we know our children will not learn it anywhere else. Could you do the same?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

When College Becomes Too Expensive

It is true that student loans are getting harder to obtain. There is a disparity between the rising cost of inflation (just over 4%) and the rising cost of college (just over 7%).

There must be a point at which parents and students discover the cost of college to be too high relative to the income produced as a result of that degree. Ten years after graduating from college, a full 80% of workers have moved on to an occupation unrelated to their college degree.

The question that has not been answered yet is where to draw that line and simply enter the work force as an apprentice or as a new business owner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Solitaire Specialist Wanted

As summer draws to a close many people are vacationing. Those who are at work however, are probably not accomplishing much.

As I walk out of my office, one of the workers in the building normally has a game of solitaire in progress. I happen to enjoy a game of solitaire every now and then, but after about 2 or games, I like to move on. I have to believe there is more to life and vocation than hour after hour spent in front of a computer game.

Rick Warren calls this a purpose driven life and is the meaning that many of us are trying to find. I don't think that purpose is found in front of an electronic card game, but behind the covers of a book or a walk in the woods with your thoughts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Man Your Post if You Want to Hear From God

So many of our lives have become disintegrated and compartmentalized, it's no wonder we have no idea how to get out of our current situation and make our future match what we see in our dreams.

Habbakuk 2:1 says that we need to man our 'post'. Verse 2 states that we need to write our vision down.

If you aren't hearing from God it is because you have left your post. He's trying to get in touch with you, but you're not there listening. Get back on your post and download our free goals worksheet (LukasCoaching.com/resources). Write your vision down on paper. Without clearly defined goals you will likely be in the same place you are now five years down the road. Don't you want more in life?

Shawn called into the radio show today in regards to the book Halftime that he's reading. Shawns asks, what if there is no significance in your life in the first half to be able to give back in the second half. What a great question as Shawn is not alone.

If you feel like you have very little significance in your life, regardless of which half you are in, God wants you to find it. He wants you to find your passion. Picture a grandfather who buys a toy for his grandson. After two weeks of playing with it the boy is tired. Just as the grandfather has the desire on his heart for the boy to enjoy his toys, so God wants us to find our passions and learn about our significance in life. A Career & Personality Profile is a great place to start.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Michael Phelps has Goals, Do You?

Michael Phelps is that 22 year old swimmer that breaks a record just about every time he gets in a swimming pool.

Leading up to this summer's Olympics, Matt Lauer interviewed Michael and asked him about the power of goals. Apparently Michael has been setting goals for years, but the only other person in the world that has ever seen his goals sheet is his personal coach.

In Michael's words, the two most powerful things in his life that have propelled him to greatness are his never ceasing goal-setting habit and his personal coach.

There is no way I would be so successful if I didn't write my goals on paper each year. The second reason I am so successful... personal coaching. Yes, even the coach needs to be coached.

Are you successful in your finances, career or business? Could you be? Then why aren't you doing anything about it?

Watch this short interview to find out why Michael is so successful.

From Good Idea to Great Reality

“Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

This question was the premise of a 1979 study of Harvard MBA students. Only 3% participants had written goals. 13% had goals (though not in writing), while 84% of the students had no specific goals at all. Ten years later, the class members were interviewed again.

The 13% that had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals.

And for the 3% with written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97%!

Americans are some of the busiest people on the planet. In all of our tarrying, though, do we truly believe our lives are being lived abundantly? Have you signed up for that art class you’ve talked about for years? Did you start that business you’ve been thinking about? Are you aggressively reclaiming your financial freedom by getting out of debt and living on a plan?

Writing your goals down requires you to transform an intangible idea into something physical: words on paper. Unless you crumple your goal list and throw it away, the paper becomes a source of accountability. Our Goal Setting worksheets will help you establish specific goals for seven areas of your life: Financial, Physical, Personal Development, Family, Spiritual, Social, and Career.

Feel free to get creative with the way you record and track progress toward your goals. Some of our clients post a progress chart on their refrigerator as a constant reminder of their goal to be debt free. I keep a note card in my wallet of my goals for the year, checking them off as they’re achieved.

What are your goals? It’s time to write them down and begin experiencing the power of turning an idea into reality.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Getting Harder to Lease a Car

Leasing a Car is the Most Expensive Way to Operate a Vehicle.

A Marketwatch article addressed many issues that families are facing in a changing economy. Many families have felt the pinch of rising gasoline and food costs.

Most people do not realize that leasing is the most expensive way to operate a vehicle. Both Kiplinger’s magazine and a working calculator point out this obvious fact. I for one am glad that car leases will be slowing down in the near future as I have seen many families get stuck in a lease they cannot afford.

A better option is to bank a car payment for a few months and buy a car with cash. In America we need to live below our means, get out of debt and save enough to buy a car with cash. It is not an easy plan, but doing the right thing never is.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Avoid Getting Clobbered by Credit Cards

Parade.com points out some best practices to watch out for with your credit cards:
  1. Your rates are raised without warning
    You may have been paying your bill in a timely fashion, but if you fall behind in payments to another creditor or if your credit score drops for any reason, it can trigger a jump in the rates on all of your credit cards. Even more surprising: If you charge close to your limit without exceeding it, your rate can jump too.

  2. Your due date changes
    Don’t assume that your check must arrive at the same time every month. Some banks have been accused of abruptly switching payment due dates. Others may try to trip you up by specifying that your bill is due by a certain time of day on the due date. Many banks have narrowed payment periods from 31 days to 20 days.

    Keep in mind that if even one payment is late, banks can raise your interest rate to as high as 28% as a penalty. Average late fees for large banks rose from $19 in 1995 to $35 in 2007.

  3. Extra charges and penalties
    Card companies tack on significant fees for all sorts of services: cash advances, balance transfers, conversion of foreign currency, paying off your balance by phone, and more. Going above your credit limit may trigger the biggest penalty of all, leading to rates of more than 30% a year.

  4. Misleading introductory rates
    Your mailbox is probably filled with offers of alluring low-interest credit cards—3%, 2%, 0%. These rates are usually just come-ons, and they may jump to as high as 30%. And it gets even worse. If you transfer a balance to a card with a 0% promotional rate, you may soon learn that the 0% rate applies only to the balance you transferred, while all future purchases accumulate at a much higher rate. And when you make payments, they’re applied to the debt with the lower interest—so the higher- interest debt keeps building.

  5. Mandatory arbitration
    When a credit-card company claims you owe money, your legal rights are limited. At least 75% of cards have clauses that say disputes must be resolved in private arbitration forums, according to a recent survey. So when a disagreement arises, a consumer can’t take it to court—a serious issue if you’re a victim of identity theft.
Maybe it's time to get rid of your credit cards for good.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Financial Reality Our Kids Face

We covered some great topics during today's show about Kids & Money. In order to equip you with more information about the financial world your kids live in, check out these statistics:

> In 1983, companies spent $100 million marketing to kids; in 2007 they spent $17 billion.

> Kids age 8-12 spend $30 billion of their own money annually, and influence an additional $150 billion worth of spending for their parents.

> The average college grad has more than $3,000 in credit card debt and $19,000 in student loan debt. (8.5% of college students drop out due to debt/financial obligations; 6% drop out for academic reasons)

> 32% of college students say they were "not at all" or "not very well" prepared for managing money on campus (2006 Key Bank poll).

> 35% of children would like to learn more about money management from their parents; 42% of parents say they haven't taken any steps whatsoever to discuss financial basics with their kids (2006 Capital One study).

If we aren't teaching our kids to responsibly give, save, and spend their money, the credit card companies will be happy to fill the void. Bad habits and behaviors are never easy to change, but there's definitely no time like the present to begin a paradigm shift. Today can be the day you take back your family tree and strike a path toward financial freedom.

What are you doing to teach your kids about money?

As our oldest, Ava, becomes older we're trying to teach her more about money. If you think your child's school or church will teach them about money, think again. I'm afraid the burden is going to fall on you as parents.

Don't let them go off to college not knowing anything about money.

For ideas on what to teach your kids and when, listen to the Past Due Radio Show.

Here's a picture of our oldest Ava in the studio with me. I brought a visual aid with me, which incidentally doesn't work well in radio.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Think Before Emailing

If you email a prospective (or even a current) employer, make sure you think about your content before hitting send. The New York accounting firm KPMG LLP says that about 1 of every 10 thank you messages (emails) they receive have some sort of smiley face in them :).

That may be OK if you're applying for a job at Apple (or maybe not) but it surely does nothing to accelerate your credibility.

During every step of the hiring process, pretend that your prospective employer is looking for any reason not to hire you. They really are. You cannot let them down at any level because they will find someone else. Don't let a ;) stand in the way of getting your dream job.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The first step to get out of debt

The first step you must take is to stop borrowing money. If you want to get out of a hole, you need to stop digging.

Take the first step towards getting out of debt. Cut your credit cards up or freeze them in a block of ice.

If you don't have enough money to get through a month without using a credit card then you have to face reality and either cut your expenses or raise your income.

Get $500 worth of Marketing for $100

As a small business owner, don't ever settle to get only what you paid for out of your marketing. You should be getting way more for your money!

Of course, most businesses only get what they pay for when it comes to their marketing. They will forever stay in the bottom 98% of normal companies. If you want your company to be great, you must take it to the next level.

If you advertise in a magazine, make hundreds of copies. Include reprints in your marketing material "As Seen in Time Magazine". Put a copy on your website, tell everyone you know.

The credibility of the magazine will automatically be transferred to to your business by the customer.

Of course it's not necessary to do this. If you want your business to remain normal, simply keep doing what everyone else is doing. Pay for marketing and only get what you pay for.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Your Spouse Must be Onboard

Whether you're getting out of debt or starting a new business, you spouse must be on board. When money is tight and one spouse wants to get out of debt but the other spends like their is no tomorrow the marriage is often hanging on by a thread.

You must both be on board if you want to make progress. Part of my job is to show couples how to work together to execute their plans.

Feel alone in trying to reach your goals? Often times I have each spouse separately write their list of financial goals on paper. We get back together and compare. Almost every time both sheets of paper contain the exact same goals.

Retirement, money in the bank, nice home, etc. If you have the same goals, why are you fighting?

When helping someone find work they love or start a business I like to meet with the other half of the marriage to see if they approve. They don't have the be involved, but without the support and encouragement of a trusting spouse it is much harder to succeed.

Try separately writing down your goals and comparing them with your spouse today. It could mean a world of difference and even save your marriage.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ministry Isn't Done at Church

Don't get fooled into thinking that God has a call on your life for ministry so you must work for the church. I'm in ministry and I don't work at a church. My trash man is in ministry and he doesn't work in a church. Every Tuesday morning the kids rush to meet him in the driveway. Whether we're out there or not he honks the horn.

Most people think this level of worker never completed college or even high school. Whether that's true or not, he'll never know how much his presence every Tuesday morning at 7am means to our family. It's usually the best part of our Tuesday's to see the big truck and someone who cares enough to go the extra mile.

Ministry was never meant to happen inside a building, but rather in the community. Find the work you love and use it as your ministry.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Change is Scary!

That may be true, but we all go through it. The world changes every day and you must keep up or you risk falling behind.

It's been said that if you're still doing the same thing you were 5 years ago, you have probably fallen behind.

Don't fear change... embrace it! It's going to happen so find the good and latch on for the ride!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why Financial Coaching?

There are many options available to you and your family regardless of whether you're doing great with money, or very poorly.

You could visit a CPA, financial advisor, financial planner or even a financial coach.

As a financial coach, here's my outlook on the different types of services.

CPAs are usually focused on your taxes and not necessarily very helpful in developing a budget. They should be able to help you set up a list of expenses vs. your income, but that's only about 20% of the budgeting process.

Financial advisors and planners can be very helpful as well, but keep in mind that they only make money if you buy insurance or investment products from them. That's not a good combination if you want an objective view of your money.

As a Financial Coach, my focus is to have a global overview of your life. My coaches and I look at your insurance, investments, your tax strategy and your estate plan. More importantly we work on the important part of budgeting, the 80% that most other professionals leave out.

This is personal finance and 80% of it is your behaviors and habits. Our focus is to help you determine a plan that works for you and your family. We teach you about insurance and investments, but don't sell any. While there is nothing wrong with making commissions, my team and I are unable to offer the best advice if we get kick-backs from products. Instead, we teach you what you need and show you where to get it.

You may be able to get a great plan from many different people. My advice is to schedule a meeting with a few professionals and interview them. If they won't meet with you for at least 30-minutes for free, then move on to someone that will.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back to Work

After a 3-day holiday weekend are you excited to go back to work? I talked about that idea on the radio show today and mentioned how excited I am to get back to the work that I love.

I honestly believe that if you don't feel that way about your work, you're most likely in the wrong job, career or vocation.

What would it take to turn your passions into profits? It's obviously much easier to make money doing something that you love than it is if you're working at a job you hate.

Can you put plans on paper and slowly move in the direction of utilizing your full potential?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Debt Stress

It just doesn't sound good, does it? No, it's certainly not something I want to have.

A recent poll shows about 20% of Americans suffer from debt related stress. Here are a few things and article from USA Today pointed out that these people suffer from:
  • 44% had migraines or other headaches, compared with 15% with low debt stress.
  • 29% suffered severe anxiety, compared with 4%.
  • 23% had severe depression, compared with 4%.
  • 6% reported heart attacks, double the rate for those with low debt stress.
  • More than half, 51%, had muscle tension, including pain in the lower back. That compared with 31% of those with low levels of debt stress.
How about developing a plan to pay off your debt in just 24 months or less and then do it?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Health Improvement Comes Quickly

Being consistent with your exercise and healthy eating habits pays off quicker than you think. Your health can improve in as little as three weeks, according to research from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Researchers followed 31 overweight patients with high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance. What they found was that as the patients adhered to a low-fat diet and 45 to 60 minutes of moderate walking daily, all of them reduced their risk factors for many diseases in just three weeks.

In addition, they had a 25 percent drop in LDL (the "bad") cholesterol and a 50 percent improvement in insulin processing. The lesson learned here is that it's never too late to start making changes, as long as you are consistent with them. Don't give up because you assume you're not making progress.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Japan's Plan to Slim Down

Japan is trying a new approach to controlling the obesity epidemic - measuring the waists of people between the ages of 40 and 74. The new national law, which came into effect two months ago, is one of the most ambitious campaigns to slim people down.

The law requires companies and local governments to measure citizens' waists at their annual checkups. If men's waists measure more than 33.5 inches, or women's more than 35.4 inches, they will be given dieting guidance if they do not slim down within three months.

The country's overall goal is to decrease the overweight population by ten percent over the next four years, and 25 percent over the next seven years. Financial penalties will be imposed on companies and governments that fail to meet specific targets.

While I think it's great that Japan is concerned about the health of their citizens, I don't think it's their obligation to impose weight loss on the people who live there. Generally, people don't make changes because someone else tells them they need to. People make changes because they want to do it for themselves, for their own health.

I don't foresee this campaign being successful as far as losing weight and keeping it off. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pay for Performance (Commission) or Hourly?

It's important to note that hourly wages have really only been around since Henry Ford and the assembly line. Ford needed people to do very easy but boring, mindless tasks all day long and the best way to get them was to guarantee their paycheck.

As we have moved from a manufacturing society into knowledge society (and hourly jobs are being outsourced) many people are now paid for their performance.

The only way to guarantee your paycheck in this realm is to actually do the work instead of standing around the water cooler. What a neat concept!

Don't be afraid of commission work. Soon it will be tough to find an hourly or salaried job. Instead, embrace the concept, do the work and reap the benefits.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Woman Sues Over Nutrition Info in Restaurants

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry about some restaurant dishes that have more calories than reported. There is now a woman in Seattle who is suing major chain restaurants for false nutrition reports on their healthy menu items.

For three years Anne Paskett has been trying to lose weight without much luck. She has continued to eat out, but stuck to her fat and calorie intake plan by checking out food stats online beforehand. Each week that she would get weighed she would either gain weight, or simply not lose any.

She blames the restaurants for falsely reporting the nutrition information in her meals. While I agree that restaurants should be truthful about what they are cooking, I don't believe that the chef can replicate a dish every single time it is made, so that it has the exact same calories and fat that one would expect.

I eat out once or twice a week, and sometimes I order off the "healthier" section of menus and sometimes not. But I take responsibility to balance my calories in and calories out throughout the week so that it more or less evens out.

It seems as if someone who has been unsuccessfully trying to lose weight for 3 years would stop eating out so much if they are not losing weight. We need to take responsibility for our own actions, rather than putting the blame on others.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't limit yourself

If you own a small business, open your eyes up to things that you may not have thought of before.

Stay narrow in what you offer and who you offer it to, but consider doing things that may be out of your norm. You should always have something that you can invite your clients and everyone you meet to.

I host a radio show each week that I invite people to listen to. I also interview experts that line up with what I teach in our Tuesday Teleseminar Series. These events keep me in front of the people I'm trying to reach and help change their lives.

If doing the same old thing in your business hasn't caused your business to grow, consider new ways to not only reach, but also to help people. Do you have a resources page on your website? If you do, make sure that it is great content that people can really use. Update it often and add to it.

The more varied things you do, the faster your business will grow and thrive.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Water Dilema

It’s hot just about everywhere right now. One of the most important things you can do for your body and your health is to stay well-hydrated. Unfortunately, there have been a number of conflicting reports about just how much water each person should drink everyday. Some are saying not to drink too much, others are saying we need to drink more.

A good rule of thumb that I like to use is to drink the same number of ounces as your height in inches. So, for someone who is 5’7” (67 inches tall), they should drink 67 ounces of water each day.

Don’t despair if you think that much water is overwhelming. Many food items in your diet already contain some water that can count toward your daily total. For instance, strawberries and watermelon are 92% water, broccoli is 91% water, and cucumbers are 96% water. This is a great way to get your fruits and vegetables and stay hydrated!

And remember - don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink water. Once you get to that point, you’re already beginning to be dehydrated. Instead, continue sipping water throughout the entire day. When you do this, you may find that it’s easier to reach your target total than you thought.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I've been on hold for 1 hour

Boy, is this really apparent in almost every situation or what?

I consider myself a pretty savvy consumer although my wife just calls me cheap. Sometimes it's good to be cheap, but you have to know when to pay more for quality and service.

For instance, all of the printed materials we ordered in the past came from the same company. They were by far the most inexpensive of all the online printing companies.

I put up with jobs that were slightly misaligned and somewhat damaged. When I finally couldn't take it anymore I switched to another company. While this company charged slightly more than the original company, my 2,000 printed materials all had a light blue watermark on the bottom of each.

A quick call to customer service should fix it right?

When I called I was placed on hold as #16. 60 min, 48 sec later (yes, that's over an hour on hold) I'm told I'm next in line.

Paying more for good quality would have been good advice in this case and many others. For instance:

- Don't skimp in quality when you buy a parachute.
- Don't pay less for new brakes on your car because the mechanic is new.
- Don't pay less for an electrician (plumber, contractor, etc.) who doesn't have a license.

You may need to evaluate this in your business. Do people really value what you offer or do they only patronage you because your prices are the lowest?

Remember that you almost always get what you pay for.

The price may be higher sometimes, but the quality and service must make up for it.

Years ago we decided to be different and offer 6 months of unlimited financial coaching, something most of the other companies didn't offer. We were actually able to do this and only raise prices slightly. It's much easier to explain price once than to apologize for quality and service over and over.

The end of the story... I don't know. They hung up on me when I was caller #1. I called back and now am #2 again. Total time on hold so far: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Go the Distance

Have you ever gone for a walk, run, or bike ride and wondered just how far you went? Most people tend to over estimate their distance, which has its implications. If you overestimate how much you exercise, you're likely to overestimate how much you should be eating.

I came across some great websites awhile ago that will help you figure out exactly how far you went when exercising, without having to wear a pedometer. Each website is essentially the same, but has a different name depending on your exercise:


They are simple to use; you begin by typing in your starting address and it brings up a map of the area. You click around the map and it tracks the distance as you click. And ta da! You know exactly how far you went.

Use these websites either before you exercise to help plan your route, or after you exercise to see how far you went.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is it possible to become a millionaire?

When the economy is failing, people are losing their jobs and their homes this sounds like an impossibility. The furthest that you need to look may just be to your neighbors home.

What kind of car are they driving? Do they have an elaborate home? If you think they are unassuming and don't have flashy things, they may very well be millionaires.

Dr. Thomas Stanley points out that most millionaires drive 2-year old or older paid for cars and owe very little on their mortgages.

I met with 2 couples last week that are almost millionaires on paper. Both families each had 2 cars. The value of cars in each family was less than $7,000 for both cars combined.

Maybe it's time to stop believing that these things happen once you become a millionaire and start doing these things with the intention of becoming a millionaire.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Restaurant Surprises

It's disappointing when you think you're eating something healthy, only to find out later that you're actually not. This story came out a few weeks ago where reporters ordered twenty so-called "healthier" items off the menus of well-known restaurants and had them tested in a lab for nutrition content.

What they found was quite surprising. Many of the dishes had way more fat and calories than the nutrition information indicated. For instance, all four items from Chili's Guiltless Grill menu contained more than twice the fat that they should have.

Macaroni Grill claimed that Pollo Magro was healthier, containing less than 6 grams of fat and 500 calories. When it was tested, they found it actually contained over 1,000 calories and just under 50 grams of fat. That is quite a difference.

There are a few things you can learn from this. First, never rely solely on the nutrition information on a restaurant's website. Unless the chef cooks it with the exact measurements and with the exact same method, it will never be right on. You have to use your best judgment.

Second, if a "healthy" dish looks unhealthy (i.e. it's swimming in oil), it probably is. Learn to order foods cooked in healthier ways, like grilled meats and steamed veggies. And always listen to your body - when you get full, stop eating.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's not about the gas prices

The news is reporting people struggling all over the place from the high gas prices. While they have risen quite a bit in the past year I might argue that gas prices form a small amount of the problem.

First of all, yes, you're probably paying $100 or more per month than you used to last year. For some families that has been detrimental and a big stretch to their budget.

Others may need to step back and see where they are really spending their money. If you have car payments at all, you need to get out of them. Sell it and buy something you can afford. If you can't afford to pay cash for a car, then you can't afford that car. Plain and simple. You may need to drive something that doesn't look so nice for a few years just to break that cycle. A while back I sold a car for just $1,000. That's what it took for our family to break the cycle.

Also look at your home. If your mortgage (all of them combined) are more than 25% of your take-home pay, you probably cannot afford your home. You should have a 15 or 20 (at the max) fixed rate mortgage on your home.

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate where all of your money is going. $100 extra a month in gas most likely isn't your problem.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Most Important Asset

Your health is the most important thing you have available to you. I probably don't need to say anything more about this, because I think it's a pretty bold statement that speaks for itself. But I will say more, because I am passionate about helping people live their best life possible.

We spend thousands of dollars on education to improve our minds. We spend years trying to figure out what kind of work we want to do for the rest of our lives. And yet we usually don't get a second thought to our health, until we don't have it anymore.

The truth is, good health is one of the best things you can invest in. That is because when you have good health, when you are in shape and can be active, most other things will fall into place.

Think of your health as a foundation. It is the best starting point for improving your life, so start taking care of it today.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yes, You NEED a Website

It doesn't matter if you are in business or not. Every business needs to have a website in this day and age.

If you want to reach critical mass, or even just any mass, you need a place to send people to.

You may not be in business, but you too need a website. That job you just applied for is hanging in limbo right now. Will your prospective employer 'google' you? Will they find your MySpace page or those pictures from Spring Break 6 years ago?

Or will they not find any information on you, or worse yet, information on another Brian Smith?

The easiest way to take control of the situation (and often free) is to start a blog. www.blogger.com is a great place to start and is a free blog platform. Mention your name a few times (or give your blog your name) and your chances of coming up towards the top of any listing have increased tremendously.

Take control of the situation by creating a website or free blog today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Report Card

Think back to when you were a kid. If you brought home a report card with 4 A's and a C, what did your parents focus on?

If your parents were like mine they focused all of their energy as well as mine, on improving the C. But what about those 4 A's? Isn't that where your strengths are?

Why do we spend so much time focusing on our weaknesses? Sure, it's a good thing to be well-rounded, but biology is not my strong suit, no matter how much I work on it.

What if all of us instead focused on improving our strengths even more than we already are? We're already the most powerful nation in the world, but what could we truly become when our work aligns with our passion?

What's Motivating You?

I am a firm believer that if you're going to make a change in your life, especially when it comes to your health, you have to do it for yourself. When you change for someone else it usually doesn't last. You simply don't have the right motivation.

However, I was listening to a talk radio show the other day and a woman called in to see what options her husband had because he is too heavy to get term life insurance. This guy is 6' tall and 350 pounds - which is not that outrageous, considering that so many Americans are obese. Every single company they tried turned this guy down.

Not only is his weight affecting his life, but the lives of his wife and six children as well. His weight puts him at a significantly higher risk of diabetes, having a stroke, heart attack, and his health in general. What will happen to his family if he dies with no term insurance? How will a single mom take care of 6 children?

The host of the radio show suggested that he lose weight, that it wouldn't be that outlandish to lose 100-150 pounds. The wife agreed, she knew it could be done, but that he had to do that for himself.

I think it's pretty selfish for someone who has a family (especially 6 children!) that depends on them, and they can't even lose enough weight to get proper insurance which will take care of the family if anything happens to them.

Sometimes we need to look at the motivation in our lives and think about what's really important. If you're overweight, you may think you're indestructible, that nothing will happen to you. People die every day of heart attacks, strokes, cancer - all things that are affected by how much you weigh.

Even if the issue for you is not life insurance, think about your quality of life. Make the important people in your life the reason that YOU want to change your health. I guarantee you won't regret it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Weakest Link

When I don't reach the goals I set (or even fail to set the goals I want to reach) I tend to blame other people or the situation, when in reality, I am sitting right at the heart of the problem.

It's easy to blame our circumstances when things don't go the way we plan. The economy seems to be right at the top of everyone's list right now. Home sales have gone south and everyone is losing their homes to foreclosure, right? Well, then why is my friend Preston in the office at 7:30 am and still there at 5:30 pm?

Preston is a mortgage broker with more business than he can handle. If we're all losing our homes and renting because of the economy, you certainly cannot convince him of that.

I struggle with identifying the real cause of most problems I have in my life. The scary part is that I'm usually a root cause.

When we set goals or decide to dream big, write out your plan as well on paper. Try taping that plan to your bathroom mirror. You will find it much easier to accomplish what you set out to if it is staring you in the face each morning when you roll out of bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Being Worth The Effort

I'm always surprised when I hear about the things people will do to achieve weight loss quickly. Some measures are downright dangerous (fen-phen) and others are just ridiculous (using vibration to tone abs).

Recently, while I was listening to the Dave Ramsey show, someone was asking about whether it would be wise for his mother to borrow against her 401K to pay for bypass surgery. Of course it isn't wise to borrow at 40% for just about anything, but it got me thinking about what people will do in order to avoid making the effort to achieve something.

This past fall and winter I was saving a little bit of money from each of my paychecks in order to buy a new bike for the spring. When I finally had enough money, I went to the store to buy the bike. I can't tell you how much satisfaction it gave me to work hard and save up. I bet that I wouldn't have nearly that much happiness if someone had just given me $550 to buy a new bike.

The best things that we get in life aren't those that come easily for us. It's the struggle we look back on that makes us realize just how far we've come. I would tell anyone looking for that magic bullet to lose weight that they will receive so much satisfaction from working on getting healthy rather than taking drastic measures.

I understand that some people have medical conditions which prevent them from losing weight on their own. And of course, in those cases I would encourage them to talk with their doctor. But figure out what other changes you might be able to make in your life that you can look back on and really be proud of yourself.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Focus on what You do Best

Do you have a graphic design firm? Then stop doing your bookkeeping. Hire or contract it out. You are not in the business of bookkeeping.

If you help people organize their finances through financial coaching, then stop designing websites. That's exactly what I did years ago. I enjoy designing websites and I still work on our companies, but I'm not in that business.

What are you doing now that takes away from your real offering? Don't water it down. Get right to the meat or the heart of what you do and do it well.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Know Your Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

What is your vision? Do you want to improve your practice or business? What about becoming debt-free or improving your health? You need to develop a clear plan and put steps in place to carry that plan out.

It's not enough to simply have an idea in your head. If you really want to bring it to fruition, you must write it down and develop a time line to make it happen.

If you want to improve your business, how will you do it? Will you focus on a marketing aspect? What will you do? When will you launch it ?

Focus on the long-term when planning and then pull out the short-term things that you really need to do right now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What to Wear to Lose Weight

The University of Michigan is reporting that you can lose extra weight, just by wearing a pedometer. They reviewed 9 studies on pedometers, walking, and weight loss, and found that those who wore pedometers lost about 1 pound every five weeks. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, every little bit helps.

This is especially important because most people tend to gain a few pounds every year. By wearing a pedometer, you are not only avoiding those pounds gained, but you are also losing a few in the process.

When you wear a pedometer you become more aware of how sedentary you are and are more likely to push yourself for a few more steps. Your goal should be 10,000 steps per day. You can get pedometers very inexpensively. They don't have to be fancy to do the job.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Could you be doing Better?

It struck me today during the radio show that the people that really will make some changes in their lives are the ones that don’t just sit and think about it (dreamers). The ones that will take their ideas and plans and do them (doers) are the people that are going to be winning in life when you see them again 5 years from now.

What information do you have that you’re not acting on? If you’re short of information, try reading some free articles, check out a book from the library or talk with a friend or family member that seems to be doing well.

Take just 2 or 3 of their ideas and see if they’ll work in your life as well.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get Your Kids Involved!

I love the idea of getting your kids involved in making dinners. I don't have kids myself, but I can remember that growing up, my favorite meals were the ones my mom would ask me to help with. Specifically, I can remember making spaghetti and, of course my favorite, pizza.

If you ask for your kids' help with making a meal (whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner) they will be much more likely to eat it. This is a great way to get picky eaters to enjoy a meal with you and to hopefully sneak in some veggies.

Some ideas for things kids can help with include pizza, taco bars, loaded baked potatoes, salads, or a pasta dish where they can add the vegetables they like. Have everything cut up for them ahead of time and let them decide what they want to do. The ideas are endless - get creative!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Protect Your Head

Warm weather seems like it is finally here to stay, and with that comes outdoor activities that you can now enjoy on a much more frequent basis. It is the perfect time of year for one of my favorite activities, bike riding. This means that it is also a good time for a reminder about wearing a bike helmet. Wearing a bike helmet can reduce injury by up to 88%, and reduces injury to the face by 65%. You should have no excuse not to wear one.

While wearing a bike helmet seems like an easy way to prevent serious injury, only about 38% of adult bike riders and 50% of kids under the age of 16 regularly wear a helmet. Common excuses that kids give are that they do not feel cool wearing one, their friends are not wearing one, or their parents are not good role models. If you have a child who rides a bike they should have a helmet on at all times. Parents who ride bikes should set a good example by always wearing a helmet themselves.

If you are not a parent but you ride a bike, you should never leave your driveway without a helmet. Bike helmets now weigh about half a pound and have plenty of openings to allow air to circulate through, which means they are more comfortable than ever. Some riders use the excuse that they will not be riding on busy streets, thus do not need a helmet. However, cars are involved in only about 10% of bike-related injuries

There are not many good excuses for riding without a helmet. Even those concerned about the cost should not be because you can typically buy a helmet for around $20. That is a small price to pay to protect your health.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to buy a new helmet. First, helmets must fit snugly. Next, the helmet should be level. Make sure it is not tilted forward or backward on your head. It should sit low on your forehead with the front of it just above your eyebrows. The chin strap should be tight enough to allow only two fingers underneath when it is snapped. Test it out by moving it around your head, from front to back and side to side. If the fit is comfortable and the skin moves with the helmet, you have a proper fit.

Most stores will allow you to try on various helmets and a sales person can help you make sure that you choose the right one. Keep in mind that buying and wearing a helmet is an easy step to possibly saving your life.

Words of Wisdom Before You Die?

If you knew you had one last talk to give, what would
it be? Carnegie Mellon University hosts lecturers' from
around the world each year. The premise is, if you had
one last lecture to give, what would it be? For Randy
Pausch, it was very literal. He has pancreatic cancer
and his doctors told him he only has 6 months left to

His last lecture focused on many things, but really on
how you should live your life if you want to achieve your
dreams and goals. There is a surprise ending and I will
not ruin that for you here. You can watch the entire
76 minute talk
or the condensed
on Oprah (only 10 minutes long).

You need to make time to watch this video. You will not
be disappointed in the long version.

What would you talk about if you had one more talk to
give? Have you lived a good life? Was it free of stress?
Have you remained healthy? Have you reached your goals
and have many of your dreams come true?

Did you use your unique gifts and talents to enrich the
lives of others and make this world a better place, or
did you wander through life while putting your time in
at a job you hated, only to pay your bills?

Maybe it is time to step back from it all and put everything
in perspective. Take a fresh look at your life and what
you want to accomplish. Put forth a plan of action to
make it happen. It is time to get off the sidelines and

My Lunch Costs me $18.40

I started thinking about this recently as gas prices have been on the rise yet again. I am fortunate that my office is just 4 miles from my home, so most days I drive back for lunch. I get to connect with my wife and my two children while they are still home for a few more years.

Recently I got to thinking about how much it costs me each time to drive that same route twice per day and if it was really worth it. My car averages a decent 30 miles per gallon (mpg), so at the national average of $3.48 per gallon, a 4 mile trip costs me $.46 or $.92 round trip; and I only live 4 miles away! If I drive home 5 days per week (20 days per month) then it costs me $18.40 each month for lunch.

Of course there are trade-offs here, the first being that I cannot put a price on the extra time I get to spend with my family each day. Also, how much would it cost if I were to visit a restaurant each day? That would certainly be more than if I brought my lunch to work with me.

A recent poll by ABC News showed the average worker commutes 16 miles one-way. At the current average fuel economy for a new car of 20 mpg, the round-trip cost just to drive to and from work each day is $5.57. Monthly it would cost $111.40 just to drive once each day to and from work. If you were to drive home for lunch as well, your gas bill will double to $222.80!

As American, do we ever think about this? Experience has shown that many people do not. With the ever increasing cost of fuel, it is time we start to realize the impact our activities have on our budgets. Visiting the grocery store on the way home from work can save an extra trip. So can carpooling or asking the neighbors to pick up something for us while they’re out and vice versa.

None of these ideas are convenient, but if you really want to save some money, we must stop acting like the consumers we are and begin doing things that other countries have been doing for years.

Could you walk or ride your bike to the store? Could you use a reel mower to cut the grass? Do you need a minivan (worse fuel consumption) for you and one child? Begin by starting small and watch the savings really add up in your budget!

Here is the formula to determine how much your trip costs you:

(Miles driven)(Price per gallon of fuel) / (Avg. mpg) = cost of your trip

Example: (4 miles) ($3.48) / (30 mpg) = $.46

What does your trip cost you? Leave your comment below...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Everyone Needs a Multivitamin

My doctor has been telling me to take a multivitamin for the past two years. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been putting off doing so because I feel like I eat pretty healthy and I was very overwhelmed by all the choices. After talking to a colleague who is a registered dietitian I found out that it’s generally recommended that everyone take a multi-vitamin, regardless of their eating habits. Why is this? Because it’s nearly impossible to eat perfect every single day in order to get all of the nutrients that your body needs.

So I tasked myself with finally taking the time to determine which multivitamin was right for me. The first thing I discovered was that multivitamins at a health store are not necessarily superior to those at your local drug store, such as CVS or Walgreens. The next step is to determine which multivitamin is right for you. You can easily narrow down your choices by choosing a vitamin that is gender and age appropriate.

The bottom line is that taking a multivitamin daily will help ensure optimum nutrition. Always speak to your doctor or a dietitian before starting a new supplement. And don’t be afraid to ask them questions. If you’re confused about exactly what you should be looking for, ask them for specific recommendations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My worst fear

I really have to narrow it down to just one? Yes, you do.

With all of the fears floating around in our heads, we spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about things that have a very small likelihood of ever occurring.

Is your biggest fear include losing your job, not being able to pay all of your bills this month, not looking your best on the beach this summer or even that you won't live up to someone's expectations?

Break your biggest fear down into pieces and evaluate why it's hanging over your head. Once you do that, address your fear and don't let it control you. You will eliminate the majority of stress in your life with this simple exercise... today!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't Give Up

Having a hard time reaching your goals, or even getting close? Don't give up!

The next big break may be just around the corner. If you give up now, all your hard work is wasted.

Your goal may be to become debt-free, everything but your home or including your home in 3 years. Three years may seem like a long time, but I guarantee it will pass if you choose to address your problems or not. Focus on the future and not your past.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is Overweight Becoming Normal?

It seems to me that we have become a society that has gotten so used to being overweight that what was once considered fat is now seen as normal. In Shape magazine's May 2008 issue readers were polled on the question "Should overweight travelers be required to buy an extra airplane seat?" One of the responses that made the magazine's "no" cut said, "Plane seats are too narrow even for the average person. They need to be made bigger so that all passengers can feel comfortable."

When I read this, I just happened to be on a plane, so I took a look around me at the other passengers to see if the "average" person looked comfortable. I must say that those who appeared to be a healthy weight looked quite comfortable in their seats. Perhaps what the reader referred to as "average" didn't mean "healthy."

We now know that more of the U.S. population is overweight or obese than are a normal weight. Do we look around and see overweight as normal because that's how so many people look? Are we slowly accepting that those who are 20, 30 or even 40 pounds overweight are healthy?

It's up to us to take responsibility for our weight rather than rely on how others look to influence our thought patterns. You cannot judge a normal weight by looking at others to help make your decision. Stop letting the actions and appearances of others influence the way you live your life.

How do you Find the Time?

I get asked this question all the time. Between hosting a radio show, working with personal and business coaching clients, writing articles, books and reports, and teaching classes and tele-seminars; how do I find the time?

I have done many things to “find” more time, but truthfully, I really did not find it. It has always been there and it always will be there. Using your time effectively is what matters in the long run.

No matter who we are, where we live, or countless other factors and circumstances that are a part of each of our lives, we all have the same amount of time. There is not a week that goes by that has more or less than 168 hours in it. This one commodity really is the same for everyone.

While it might seem like I work 24 hours a day and sacrifice time with my family that is simply not true. In fact, I schedule at least 1 day per week in my calendar that is completely free of work. Most Tuesdays I am able attend our oldest daughter’s dance class, and many times I am home for lunch, and almost always home for dinner.

When we were pregnant with our first daughter I did not miss a single doctor appointment with my wife. Now on number three, I have missed a few, but I schedule them on my calendar in advance and work around them. They are too important for me to miss.

By no means am I superhuman. I cannot accomplish everything I set out to do, but I do set my goals high. If I do not reach them, I come in pretty darn close; close enough to be happy with my achievement.

So while we all have 168 hours per week, the most important factor is in how you use them. While many people are watching their average of 28 hours of TV each week (according to Nielsen research, 2006, US statistics), I am reading, learning, growing and doing something I love.

Living my own life is more important and exciting to me than trying to figure out who got kicked off the island or won American Idol. In fact, I have never seen either of those shows all the way through even one episode.

Now I am not saying TV is bad. I believe there is some great programming in place on certain channels, but I do not let it play a big role in my life.

The first lesson for “finding more time” in your week: Throw a brick through your TV. Talk to your spouse, have a family game night, go for a walk, talk to God (when is the last time you two spoke?). Take the time now to improve the parts of your life or business that need improvement. We all have the same amount of time. What are you doing with yours?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Health Mistakes Parents Make

Newsweek recently reported the top six mistakes parents make when it comes to their children. I thought these were interesting.

  1. Letting kids eat in front of the television of computer screen. When you do other activities while eating, the brain is too distracted to know when the stomach is full and it leads to overeating. Sit down with your kids at the table for every meal.
  2. Too much screen time. When kids are allowed to play video games or watch tv for too long, it becomes harder for their bodies to adapt to being active. The recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is no tv for kids under 2 and 1-2 hours per day for those older than 2.
  3. Avoiding new foods. Most kids won’t try new things if they don’t look appealing. Rather than giving them a new item and telling them they have to eat the entire thing, have them try at least one bite. Chances are, you’ll find at least one thing they’re willing to eat.
  4. Stocking the cupboard with junk. Experts aren’t saying that kids shouldn’t have any junk food at all, but they’re much more likely to consume it when they open up the cupboards and it’s right there. Try having healthier snacks on hand and saving the junk food for special circumstances.
  5. Prepackaged meals. Not every parent has the time to make their child’s lunch each day, but buying prepackaged meals opens the doors for much higher sodium and fat content. Make a plan at the beginning of each week for what you can prepare for your kids. This will save time the night before, or the morning of, when you’re much more likely to give them something prepackaged.
  6. Negative role models. Parents shouldn’t tell their kids to be active and then sit on the couch watching tv themselves. If you tell your kids to play outside, make sure that you are out there with them for at least some time. Also try to model good eating habits. Your habits should reflect the lifestyle you want them to have.