Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Video Time: A Very Muppet Christmas

A Classic clip to wind down the day:

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inspiration


Christmas Eve.

For me, as a young kid, it meant Santa was coming.

For me, as a young Dad, it meant time to play Santa.

But beyond Santa, let's focus on what Christmas is all about.

For Christians like me, it's about Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was both 100% God and 100% human, being born. I know the math doesn't add up, but some things are not easily explained.

Beyond the birth of Christ, we have the death and resurrection which we will be observing next year in April. We call it Easter.

There are plenty of conflicting stories of the dates that all of this occurred but, instead of focusing on those details I choose to join my wife at church at the very moment this is appearing on this blog.

(If you want more on the history of Christmas, click here).

Because beyond my faith, there is also inspiration for hope and a future for all of us. And this inspiration inspires others with hope.

I've got another example of inspiration from an email I got a couple days ago from Harvey Mackay:

Jim Rohn's inspiration lives on

If you were ever fortunate enough to hear Jim Rohn speak, you know immediately what a void his passing in early December leaves. You also know that your life changed because you were one of the 5 million people in his 6,000 audiences.

Jim was a good friend and fellow motivational speaker, with whom I shared the stage on many occasions. He was often referred to as "America's Foremost Business Philosopher." But his philosophical musings went far beyond business, which is why he inspired so many.

He was born to an Idaho farming family and was ingrained with a strong work ethic that he practiced throughout his life. At 25, he met his mentor Earl Shoaff. And over the next six years he made his first fortune in direct sales. His speaking career began when he moved to Beverly Hills, Cal., and a friend at the Rotary Club asked him to tell his success story. Jim titled it "Idaho Farm Boy Makes It to Beverly Hills."

His rags-to-riches story resonated with folks everywhere. His success story includes becoming a millionaire by age 31—and that was nearly 50 years ago, when a million dollars was an enormous amount of money.

But money wasn't his biggest motivator. No, I'd have to say it was his fundamental understanding of what makes people tick and what helps them succeed. One of my favorite quotes from Jim: "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree."

His folksy wisdom and gift for story-telling have earned many comparisons to Will Rogers. His unique delivery style made him one of the most articulate, powerful and thought-provoking speakers I've ever seen or heard. His messages are timeless. So many of his lines are life lessons all by themselves. For example:

  • "Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It is something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming."
  • "A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better."
  • "Failure is not a single cataclysmic event. You don't fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day."
  • "Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness—great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation and great joy."
  • "Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins."
  • "If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."
  • "Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."
  • "Better understated than overstated. Let people be surprised that it was more than you promised and easier than you said."

Like most successful businesspeople-turned-speakers, Jim recorded a number of CDs and DVDs and wrote 17 books. I was particularly inspired by his book, "The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle." In it he describes those pieces as Philosophy, which is how you think; Attitude, which is how you feel; Action, which is what you do; Results, which you must measure often to see if you are making progress; and Lifestyle, which is the kind of life you can make for yourself out of the first four pieces. It's a great read, one I highly recommend.

A true philosopher at heart, Jim took his audiences beyond the business of business to the business of life. "Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their futures in someone else's hands, but not you."

Jim's own words hold so much hope for us all, and optimism for what we can become. As I heard him say, "I wish you a life of wealth, health and happiness—a life in which you give to yourself the gift of patience, the virtue of reason, the value of knowledge, and the influence of faith in your own ability to dream about and achieve worthy rewards."

Mackay's Moral (borrowed from Jim Rohn): "The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become."

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

More information and learning tools can be found online at harveymackay.com.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dream Big

Sunday afternoon I was cleaning out my email inbox and found this bit of wisdom from a newsletter by Steve Clark:

"Learn From Disney and Make Your Business Dreams Come to Life!"
by Ali Brown

Whether you're wracking your brain trying to solve a business issue or deciding how to expand the company, there's a simple, time-tested concept that can help your business achieve its full potential. It's called Imagineering®.

Walt Disney trademarked the term in 1967 after he assembled a team of creative and technical wizards to turn his vision for a theme park into a real place. Disney's employees are known as Imagineers, and their job is to envision the most amazing dreams possible and then find ways to execute them through science and technology.

However, anyone can use the Imagineering process and apply it to her own business goals. It's a powerful yet practical way to dream up new ideas and carry them out.

Read on to discover how you can use Imagineering to bring your business dreams to life. You might be tempted to merge these steps into one, but in Imagineering, it's important to take things one step at a time. Otherwise, you might shoot down your dream before you have the chance to make it happen.

Step #1: Dream Big!
Once you get into the Imagineer mindset, ideas will come to you anywhere: while you're shopping, meeting a friend for lunch, or running on the treadmill. But Imagineers recommend that you actually set aside some quiet time specifically for brainstorming. Do whatever you need to feel creative, whether that means listening to music, lying down, or lighting some candles. Take a few deep breaths and empty your mind, then start to daydream and see where it takes you. If you need help getting started, then ask yourself: What would I achieve in an ideal world? And what might get me there? You could also doodle on a sheet of paper. Whatever you do, let the ideas come to you and don't get caught up on logistics.

Step #2: Give Yourself a Reality Check.
After your mind has been whirring with an array of big dreams for your business, the last thing you want to do is leave all those ideas locked inside your mind. Bring them into the open by having a reality check. You can do this yourself or ask a trusted colleague to help (just make sure it's someone who believes in your vision so they don't dismiss them too quickly). Once your dreams undergo a little scrutiny, it's time to organize an action plan and implement your dream.

Step #3: Be Your Own Critic.
Next you need to test your action plan and put it through its paces. Be on the lookout for any potential problem and ask yourself What are the consequences if something goes wrong? Am I missing anything? Then be ready to act accordingly to make adjustments.

Once you've performed steps 1-3, think about ways to enhance your product or solution. Walt Disney was never happy with "good enough," and his pursuit of excellence has worked extremely well for his company. Whatever the size and scope of your business, Imagineering has the potential to benefit every aspect.

© 2009 Ali International, LLC

Self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur Ali Brown is devoted to creating financial freedom for women globally through the power of entrepreneurship. To learn how to create wealth and live an extraordinary life now, register for her free weekly articles at www.AliBrown.com

"Entrepreneur and Executive Sales Coach, Steve Clark publishes the highly acclaimed "Tips for Profitable Persuasion" weekly ezine. If you're ready to explode your sales and skyrocket your income while working less get your FREE copy at www.newschoolselling.com."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video Time: Party Tricks

Just in time for your Christmas gatherings:

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Yes, You can Write Right

From the DLM Blog:

You Can Write Like a Professional: Here’s How

Posted: 11 Dec 2009 07:14 AM PST


Most jobs involve some element of writing – whether it’s sending emails to clients, producing reports for the boss, or creating content for the company website. If you’re not a professional writer, this can be daunting and a lot of people end up procrastinating. A project that should take a few hours ends up dragging on and on for weeks.

I’m a professional writer, and I can tell you this: when you write for a living, you don’t have the luxury of letting a project get the better of you! There’s nothing mystical or especially hard about good writing: anyone can improve their writing.

Here are my five top tips on how to write like a professional:
  1. Don’t Procrastinate, DUH!
    Writing is a high-energy task, and there’s always something easier you could be doing – whether it’s surfing the net, making a coffee, or deciding that you really need to clean the fluff out of your computer keyboard. All of these activities are just ways to procrastinate.

  2. Professional writers rarely procrastinate. (The ones who do? They’re those “starving in a garret” writers you’ve heard about...) Writers know that the initial reluctance will start to fade as soon as they start to plan, outline and research the project. They know that even on the biggest projects, such as books, a little effort each day will pay off, and that it’s possible to write even when you think you can’t.

  3. Use the Writing Process
    Did you notice that I mentioned how writers “plan, outline and research”? This is part of the writing process, which professional writers tend to follow (whether they consciously know it or not). The writing process breaks down into:
    • Pre-writing (planning and research)
    • Writing (the first draft) – this is where many non-professionals get stuck!
    • Rewriting (subsequent drafts)
    • Editing (including proofreading)
    • Publishing (or emailing, printing, etc)
    Although you can go back and forth between the stages, you shouldn’t try to merge them. Nothing kills your first draft momentum faster than stopping to research a new bit of information, then starting to rewrite everything you’ve already written.

    So what do you do if you’re drafting your big report and you realize you don’t have an important figure to hand? Simple – put a note to yourself saying “Insert annual $$ total here” or similar. Highlight it in yellow so that you don’t forget to look it up later. (Or use the “comments” feature in your word processing program to put a note in the margin.) Once you’ve finished the draft, go through to find all the notes, and research them all as a batch.

  4. Ask For Feedback
    I’ve belonged to writers’ circles for a decade and I’ve noticed something that distinguishes amateur would-be writers from professionals (whether they’re published or not): professional writers are concerned with making their writing as good as possible – not with their own egos.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback – perhaps from a colleague, from a fellow student, or from a writers’ circle. This is one of the fastest ways to improve. If the feedback is sometimes negative, don’t take it personally: see it as a great opportunity to make your piece of writing even better.

  5. Proofread Your Work
    Now, most professional writers (myself included) would admit that they occasionally slip up on this one – that’s why professional editors and proofreaders exist! Nevertheless, if you don’t have the luxury of an editor (and most writers don’t), you need to do your own proofreading.

    That means checking your work for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as typos. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of reading through emails before sending them: a typo-ridden email doesn’t create a good first impression for a new client.

    (I’m always reluctant to mention proofreading in blog posts, as some eagle-eyed reader will invariably delight in pointing out a typo! If you find one in this post, I obviously put it there deliberately to test your proofreading skills... ;-))

  6. Keep Learning
    Finally, professional writers are also students of writing. They practice their craft on a daily or very regular basis. They almost always enjoy reading – and often learn new words and new writing techniques from what they read. Many professional writers keep a “swipe file”, where they save quotes and clippings that they found particularly effective.

    Some easy ways to learn about writing are:
    • Look up the definition of any unfamiliar words you come across when reading
    • Read a book about a particular aspect of writing: there are books on everything from writing romance novels to writing advertising copy
    • Take a writing course or class
    • Read blogs about writing (I’m fond of Daily Writing Tips)
If you’re a professional writer, what tips would you add? If you have to write as part of your job and hate it, what methods make writing easier for you?
Written on 12/11/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line (ali@aliventures.com) or check out her website at Aliventures.Photo Credit: Unhindered by Talent


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Sunday, December 20, 2009

10 before 2010


You have 11 days to do these 10 things from the CodeName Insight blog. Time to start!

Now is a really busy time of year, however there are a bundle of things that you should do now, rather than later...

  1. Back up all of your files. I back up all of my business files at least once a week onto a thumb drive. Some people do this daily, depending on the quantity of work generated or the value should the files disappear into the ethers. Others do this not at all...these are the people having a meltdown at their local computer shop because their hard drive is totally toast and all of their family pictures, work, and important info has been lost forever. Get into the habit of backing up your files on a regular basis so that if your computer should die, you will still have most if not all of your important computer files ready to put on another computer and keep going.

  2. Back up all of your contacts. Whether you use GMail, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, or any other email program, you need to export your contact information regularly as well. I export my contact list into a .csv file and keep it saved with my backed up files so in case my email server should implode, I will still have this important information.

  3. Get your tax deductions in. If it looks like it will be a big tax year or you are just feeling generous, be sure to get your tax deductible donations and deductions in ASAP, at least by the end of the year.

  4. Change all of your passwords. This is also a good habit to get into on a regular basis and what better way to start off your new year than with a whole set of new passwords?

  5. Dump out the BOB and repack it. I did this a couple of days ago. I generally go through my BOB a few times a year in order to rotate the food, make sure the clothes are appropriate for the season, and refine my gear (I am on a minimalist kick and I want to be able to grab my BOB and RUN not grab my BOB and drag the thing down the street because it weights so much).

  6. Get a calendar. Whether you use an electronic calendar, a huge wall calendar, or a pocket calendar, having something to write important dates in is an excellent way to stay organized. So far my calendar includes standing meetings for 2010 and a whole bunch of fitness activities such as bike rides, marathons, and other events I plan to participate in during the upcoming year.

  7. Check all of your important documents that have an expiration date and note anything that will be expiring on your calendar so you will be able to renew them on time. Driver's license, passport, concealed carry license, credit cards, professional licenses...all of these things have expiration dates and can create a real problem if you let them lapse.

  8. Make a goal list. Each year I make a list of around 100 goals that I want to accomplish each year. If you keep these sorts of things in your head, you are much less likely to accomplish them so take the time to actually write out the things you want to accomplish (work, financial, travel, health, family goals) then set about completing them in the new year.

  9. Update important documents. The end of the year is a good time to look back over the past year and update documents such as your home inventory, your resume, and your Will to reflect any new changes in your life.
10. Start on your way to creating a "super abundance" in your home. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to worry about buying laundry soap, toilet paper, shampoo, etc for an entire year? At the end of each year I try to purchase enough of the consumable products that we use on a regular basis to last for an entire year. It greatly streamlines your life when you have plenty of everything in your home. No more running out of important items, no more running to the store at the last minute because you ran out of dish soap, always having enough of everything on hand even if you have dozens of house guests visit throughout the year...all good reasons to stock your home well at the beginning of each year.

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