Apr 22 2012

I have what you need and want now!

You are not what you sell.


You are what you solve.


True business professionals who dwell in the world of sales, and all small business owners (who live there too) know instinctively that they are not really salespeople pushing their wares and services on others.

They recognize that they are actually problem solvers who listen carefully to customers and prospects and respond with solutions. They focus on building relationships.

The problem is that solving the problem is often glossed over, dismissed, and sidetracked in the process of communicating with a customer or prospect. How often have you heard a store or organization or company rep start out (or jump to her or his safety net when a positive response is not evident) by rattling out a long list of product or service features?

It’s human nature to talk about all the strong points and unique features of a product or service we want others to like, and want, and dive into their pockets for the money we hope they’ll produce. But human nature doesn’t move sales. Customers and prospects don’t buy features. They buy benefits.

How long will this product or service last? How economical is it? How does it work? What colors are available? How spectacular is the price deal? How great is the supplier company or organization? These are all very nice kinds of things to get across because they help purchasers justify their decisions to others (bosses, spouses, friends, etc.) BUT . . .

None of those kinds of features will trigger a purchase.

Features are rational objective things. People are motivated by emotions. Maybe they’re simply charmed by the rep, or maybe they’ve been convinced that the personal benefits to be had outweigh the expense . . . because the product or service solves their problem!

We buy benefits: how easy and convenient this makes your life, how much your friends and neighbors will admire your good taste, how great you look with/in/next to it, how terrific your garden will be when this thing keeps the deer and rabbits away, what you can do for your children’s/grandchildren’s future with the savings from this policy, how wonderful this will look in your living room/dining room/kitchen.

And how do you get someone to this decision point? 1) By listening carefully (prompt customers and prospects to talk 80% of the time!), and 2) By processing what you hear and see to show how what you have to offer can solve their problem.

Anyone can ram features down someone’s throat. This loses more sales than anything else. It takes patience, understanding, and sitting (mentally and physically) on the same side of the table, working in concert to solve the buyer’s problem.

For immediate, focused, affordable sales help, call me now: 302.933.0116

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 With thanks to my LinkedIn friend Kevin Kempler for inspiring this post

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Open  Minds  Open  Doors

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Jan 11 2012


 You’re an entrepreneur?


You’re probably the


 runt of the litter!



Ask anyone who’s made it big in the service business, and the odds –by my calculations– are roughly 9 out of 10 that she or he did it by staying small. Makes sense. Most runts of the litter have entrepreneurial zeal and instincts. They scrap, scrape, and battle for food and attention from the day they’re born.

And runts make great dogs but not always great parents, which raises a key how-to issue about staying small. From my experience, there’s hardly ever a good and reasonable reason for adding payroll employees when you’ve passed the point of generating strong revenues on your own..

At most, you may decide to put an assistant on payroll, but herein lies the secret to continued growth: The person you choose must be dedicated and loyal to you at all costs. He or she must be a super organizer since –as an entrepreneur– you’re probably not. This individual must have no greater purpose than to make you successful.

In other words, do NOT seek a creative thinker. That’s your job! Do NOT seek a super salesperson. That’s also your job! Find someone you can trust absolutely all of the time. Find someone who will be assertive with other people on your behalf. Find someone who will rise to the occasion, who does not need hand-holding.

You need a person with strong judgement skills, who can readily size up others (and situations) and who knows enough to know when to insist on over-communicating with you. In other words, if you need to hire someone, hire a leader. If you can find this individual, and it may take years of searching, you won’t need anyone else.

Anyone else you take on should be on a commission, performance incentive, or parttime basis. Once you add a payroll position, and get the wrong person involved, you commit to stagnation and foreclose your prospects to succeed; you commit to the odds of adding expenses without being able to cover them. You commit to status quo.

In a product business, you need only to add skilled labor on a highly selective and prudent basis. One person with know-how, and the drive and energy to do the work of two people at one and a half times a one-person salary is far better than two people doing two jobs for three-quarter person salaries.

The bottom line: Runts of the litter excel as entrepreneurs. They are more independent, inventive, industrious, and self-sufficient. Rather than waste time looking, they will use a coin for a screwdriver. But once in a while, they need to back off and do some hard thinking about where they’re headed and where the next bone is coming from.

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Oct 03 2011

For better or worse, richer or poorer

 If you’re not going to


marry your business,


don’t get engaged to it!

America’s abysmal unemployment situation has inadvertently spawned a burst of fledgling entrepreneurial enterprises. It’s been: “Outta work? So what. Who needs all that aggrevation anyway? I’ll start my own business.”


If you are caught up in this thinking, un-catch yourself! If you’re telling yourself you can start a little business and still work 9-5 with weekends, sick days, personal days, vacation, and holidays off, you might as well be living on Mars. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying don’t be disillusioned from the start.

Business Ownership

is a marriage.


If you’re not willing to accept the fact that you and your new business venture are going to have to eat together, sleep together and get along with each other 24/7 for a number of years, don’t buy an engagement ring, get down on one knee and pop the question –OR plan the wedding and fantasize the honeymoon–  to start with!

Even if the bantered-around figures that claim 9 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 11 years (and don’t break even financially for 6 years) are only half right, consider your odds for success realistically.

Every new business idea  

is a great idea

before the doors open.


With a super unique product or service and a ton of investment money, with a brother-in-law accountant and an uncle lawyer and your spouse cheering from the sidelines, your chances for survival (nevermind success) are still practically non-existant if you are thin-skinned, hard-headed, inattentive or ungrateful, and that’s just for openers.

The attentiveness to detail, and to every single exchange with every single person every single day, plus the ultimate responsibility for paying every bill and returning every investment (plus a return ON every investment) that were none of your province or burden as an employee rest squarely on every business owner’s shoulders.

Spare yourself the agony of separation and divorce and probable bankruptcy if you’re thinking you can just gloss over or dismiss or delegate stuff and concentrate on sales or production or IT or some other aspect of your dream. The sad truth is that no successful entrepreneur can concentrate on any single aspect and make money.

Successful small business

owners and operators

concentrate on all of

what they’re doing

 . . . all of the time.


Operations, finance, sales and marketing, cashflow, legalities, IT, distribution, partnerships, collaborations, staffing, service,   innovation, creativity, leadership, suppliers, product and service knowledge, and industrial/professional/community relations are all equally important!

So, what was it that grandpa used to say? “Look before you leap!”??? If you’re intent on charging into your own business, do it with your eyes (and ears) open. Reality beats fantasy hands down. For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health . . .

Of course if you’re not ready for marriage (or your hands are already full with the family you have), there’s nothing wrong with using your ambitions and skills to find another, and hopefully better, job than the one you’ve left behind that prompted you to think a business startup would be a piece of cake. It can be if you’re a baker!

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Sep 22 2011


“Detail” Counts


Big Time In 


Small Business


My first employee review in my first real job accused me of not liking or tending to detail. Decades later, I still don’t like it or tend to it, except as absolutely required by clients, the IRS, or a book manuscript or marketing program that demands it. And even then, I still don’t like it.

After all, how can creative spirit flow freely

 with “detail anchors” weighing it down?


And, it seems when I look back, that entrepreneurs and small business owners of every conceivable description, similarly hate having to deal with detail. Yet, meticulous attention to detail is what often makes a small business become a big business. At every level: finance and operations as well as marketing and sales.

By listening carefully (vs. just hearing) to what customers and prospects say they REALLY want, you engage yourself in the world of providing detail, and the better you do at it, the better you will invariably do at not just servicing, but delighting each person and entity that you confront.

Detail –except in word choices and design applications– is not generally an area that commands great attention from those who provide creative services.

Attention to detail is most typically the milieu of those who provide accounting and legal services, intricate products, operational equipment, and safety-oriented products.


This doesn’t mean you need to be a bean counter, brain surgeon or rocket ship c0mponent manufacturer to justify the need for attention to detail. In fact, the further away from these “expected” areas of business a customer or prospect encounters what you have to offer, the more likely you are to have positive impression opportunities.

Why? Because most people don’t expect a roofer or plumber, or dog groomer, graphic illustrator, a self-proclaimed SEO or social media  “expert,” or shoelace salesman, to be able to support product and service claims with hard evidence and factual findings –details– that boost and solidify the sales message. 

Details are what drive home the emotionally-triggered sale by providing the objective, factual, unemotional supportive features that purchasers use to justify their decisions to themselves, their spouses, their boss’s, their partners, their associates, employees, shareholders.

Details may not always be fun. But –in every sale, they prevail! Do you? Are you supporting claims with facts? Attention to detail means attention to customers and prospects . . . a practice you can never go wrong with!  

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Open Minds Open Doors

Many thanks for your visit and God Bless You.

 Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Sep 21 2011


It’s the middle name for



most entrepreneurs, but



is it the source of



real solutions?


Multi-tasking —as in walking post haste to the men’s or ladies room, chewing gum, texting your accountant while cell phone conferencing your lawyer and signing off on a major customer delivery form on a clipboard being held by your assistant . . . and all the time knowing that in just a matter of seconds, you’re going to need at least one hand free.

Yes, entrepreneurs live in the fast lane, and yes multi-tasking is a way of life for the small business owner. But does the end always justify the means? Surely you’ve heard more than once from a filled-with-wisdom grandparent type that “Haste Makes Waste!” and have no doubt proven the truth of that to yourself a few times, true?

But now you have passed all recollection of those life experiences into the deep, dark, dingy caverns of your mind and no longer carry the need to heed such warnings anywhere near your front burner, and in fact probably harbor them back in that little storage area that holds memories of a flunked course, a failed romance and poor toilet training when you were three.

Though –aha!– the more you try to do in a hurry, the more likely you are to screw something up. Why? Because it’s been scientifically proven many times over that the human brain (though many protest the thought with what they believe to be contradictory examples) cannot do more than one thing at a time, meaning in the exact same moment.


Sit in a chair.

  • Lift your feet off the ground. turn your ankles so your feet make small circles (any direction you like — one in one direction and the other in another, or both in the same direction; it doesn’t matter).

  • Next, get your hands moving in sync by turning your wrists.

  • When you start feeling like a well-oiled machine, try to reverse direction with your hands while maintaining the original direction your feet have been moving. Or switch and reverse foot direction from your hands.

The point is that multi-tasking may look impressive to others who are easily impressed, but don’t expect that any kind of steady diet of trying to do more than one thing at a time is going to produce some miraculous level of off-the-charts productivity to write home about.

It is not better to do half a job well instead of a whole job not well. Doing half a job well simply means the job is only half done. Period. Doing a whole job not well means that effort and determination were present, and that, presumably, something important was learned in the process. Uh, this is true at least for most successful entrepreneurs. The rest? Who knows?

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Open Minds Open Doors

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Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Aug 08 2011


What Makes You Think


You Can Wing It?


 Farmers, carpenters, doctors, lawyers, firefighters, pilots, seamstresses, stylists, realtors, even Cub Scouts do it.


So what makes you think that you can wing it? Now I’m not talking any hundred-page document with 37 pull-out spreadsheets and an annotated bibliography featuring a gazillion itemized resources. Who cares? I’m talking about an Entrepreneurial Action Plan.

Yes a plan of any kind needs a goal.


And that goal has to be realistic and specific and flexible and due-dated. If it’s not all four of those criteria, it’s not a goal, it’s a wish. Wishing may work in Disneyland, but business success comes from taking action. Taking action without a goal-based action plan is like trying to control a rudderless ship in a storm.

Your Entrepreneurial Action Plan


Like any good news release, your Action Plan must answer the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? And be realistic, specific, flexible and due-dated. It’s always a worthy endeavor to include a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement at the beginning of your plan to set the stage.

A quick market assessment, a marketing plan, a management approach and/or team lineup, an operational outline and a financial plan and projections — that all answer the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? (and that are realistic, specific, flexible, and due-dated) will do the trick.    


Is this over-simplified?


No. It’s actually very simple. An Entrepreneurial Action Plan is simple and quick to execute. It is not a formal business plan. Many of the same ingredients are in both, but business plans are primarily done for the purpose of raising investor or lender money. Action Plans are to get things going, and build momentum; they are not fancy.

An Entrepreneurial Action Plan can be scribbled on the back of a large envelope.


It is definitely not for the feint-hearted crossed-t-dotted-i perfectionists or analysis-paralysis corporate types. The best results come from those who chunk up their plans and adjust them frequently. This doesn’t take thousands of hours or a rocket science degree. Oh, and what a great amnd illuminating collection the saved scribbles make.

BUT your Action Plan does need to capture.


It needs to capture the five “W” questions and one “H” question above, and it does need to target goals that are realistic, specific, flexible, and due-dated. Otherwise, you are captaining a rudderless ship in a storm, and are bound to have schools of lawyers circling you, closing in for the kill.

Yes, put it in your pocket, not a spiral-bound or 3-ring binder.


It’s a working document for the day, week, or month. I do daily scribbled Action Plans for each blog post. I do weekly versions for my writing/consulting/marketing business. In the end, it’s all about why you are an entrepreneur in the first place . . . to make your idea work by exercising the freedom to continually adjust it.

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Aug 02 2011


Are you on drugs?


Is someone in your family?


Someone who


works with you?



The stress of owning and/or running a business is enough to make almost anyone crazy. It’s also almost enough –and occasionally more than enough– to prompt entrepreneurs, family members, and employees to resort to drugs. Do you ever feel like sometimes the whole world is on drugs?

Just swipe your eyes over some pharmaceutical and alcoholic beverage industry numbers. Scary stuff.

Factor in all the illegal Mexican drug cartel trainloads. Add illegal outputs from Colombia and Brazil and Turkey and Scandinavia and the Orient and thousands of other supply chains around the world. Scarier yet. (Hey, look at the people running our country. Now that’s scary.) Wheee! Drugs all around. And it’s not even Woodstock!

The trouble is that talk like that draws snickers from many, and it’s just not funny. Individual lives, entire families and businesses, whole nations have been wasted and destroyed by drug and alcohol dependency problems that literally drag them out of being in touch with the present here-and-now, into past and future fantasyland.

There are very few things in life more destructive than drug and alcohol dependency –even cancer– because in addition to also being degerative, drug and alcohol addiction that’s not brought on by parental genes and/or birth conditions (e.g. “crack babies”), is a disease that is often the result of (usually unconscious) self-destruct choices.


If addiction is a struggle of yours, you’re obviously smart enough to be doing something about it, or you wouldn’t be reading this. If it’s someone else’s struggle that you are somehow engaged with, be careful, first of all, that you don’t get sucked into the whirlpool, because it is not a forgiving experience.

Everyone who’s battled addiction (their own or someone else’s) knows that it’s difficult if not completely impossible to be “under the influence” and to own, operate, or manage a business of any kind without “outside” professional help to monitor and guide a structured program of rehabilitation. But shop carefully.

There are a zillion helpful individuals, groups and organizations out there ready to pounce on a tollfree call of crisis and desperation. Unfortunately though –unlike a latex glove– one size doesn’t fit all, and it seems that most of these well-intentioned helpers are, in the end, very limited in what many affected people will allow them to achieve.

Many who say they want help, really don’t want help; they want only to say that they want help! Like trying to stop decay once it starts, addiction carries an ever-increasing degree of both business and social irresponsibility. This quickly disintegrates into a growing sense of apathy for everything except the next drink, the next fix. 


In trying to teach me to swim, my father who was a great swimmer, threw me off a motor boat a mile out into the ocean. I failed to learn anything but fear; he had to hire a swimming instructor. I spent many years as a group counselor and stress management trainer, but couldn’t help some of those most in need who were closest to me.

It’s hard to shake off emotional connections when pragmatism and self-discipline are called for.

The bottom line is that if you or someone close needs help with an addiction problem, you/she/he has to be coherent and genuinely dedicated enough to want help, and to go out and find it, and to follow the path. No one else can push anyone into a resource situation that doesn’t fit or feel right, and expect some overnight miracle.

Addiction is a mental, emotional, and physical disease. Just as it takes time to “catch it,” it also takes time to work it out of your system and get rid of it. And some never do. Regardless of caregiver credentials, pedigrees, or intentions, others truly cannot help those who are not willing and eager and able to help themselves.


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 Open minds open doors

 Thanks for visiting.   God bless you. 

  Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Jul 31 2011

Overcoming the odds . . .

35 years ago,


a doctor told me my back 


was so bad, I’d never


walk again. 


I bought a horse


and a jet ski!

(and my back has been better ever since!) 


Stubbornness or determination? Probably both. [And Thank God, I walk just fine.]

Stubbornness and determination represent attitudes that would get corporate muckity-mucks fired, but they’re not such terrible traits to have as an entrepreneur. Ive’ heard a lot of definitions of entrepreneurship over my years of teaching, consulting and doing it, but none sum it up as succinctly as stubbornness and determination’

We always hear that entrepreneurs have to have “fire in the belly” to pursue their ideas and make them work.

That they continue to move forward when everything around them is moving backward.

That they see the light at the end of the tunnel that others can’t even find the entrance to, or once they’re in it, slam their gearshifts into reverse.


Yet we also know that entrepreneurs historically take only reasonable risks. So the point of distinction occurs a few hundred feet into the tunnel when the light from the entrance is just about to dissolve away.

It is that moment in time that separates the courageous pursuit of free enterprise from the gutless wonders of government agency security and handout-dependent careers, and from corporate analysis paralysis treadmill careers. Entrepreneurs plod fearlessly forward as others turn and run. Sound like a military invasion? Well, isn’t it?

The enemy of entrepreneurs is lethargy and complacency. You remember that pair from your C-Span Current Affairs course? They are the two culprits that have gripped our economy since the present White House occupants took control. They are what must be overthrown if America is ever to survive and thrive again as a nation. 

The only difference in fighting this war of entrepreneurial enlightenment (vs. other, older ones) is that small business owners can no longer charge forward with their heads down. This time, we’re up against liberal fanatics who are not simply putting up roadblocks; they are actively fighting in the name of progressiveness to stop progress!

Go figure.

America’s present Administration refuses to stop short of literally pulverizing small business.

Over-taxing, over-regulating, over-burdening the very entity in society that has been solely responsible for new job creation, for economic stimulation, for boosting America’s reputation and strength worldwide . . . to what end? 


It’s not a puzzle; it’s a plan.

There are 30 million small business owners  in the United States. We have no ability to “certa bonum certamen” (fight the good fight) on our own, acting as individual small businesses. We all need to accept that the strength in numbers we are capable of can accomplish more than individual efforts.

We must vote AND prompt votes for any candidate who appreciates and respects small business owners and operators, our nation’s military people . . . and stubbornness and determination. November 6, 2012. Be there


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 Open minds open doors

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Jul 28 2011

Kill The Frills!

Economy-crunched small businesses, stampeding to reduce payroll, need first to pull back the bells and whistles.

S C A L E   I T   B A C K.

Ideas, Proposals, Recommendations, Products, Services



Stop to think about it: If YOU are having trouble affording employee costs, your CUSTOMERS may be having trouble affording your product and service “extras.” [Restaurants have been scaling back since 2008 by offering better quality in smaller portions on slightly smaller plates!]

Let’s say you’re a consultant, and know in your heart of hearts that a client organization you work with needs to develop three new levels of consumer goods and services to stay competitive, but you also know that their naive management has failed to get its arms around the budget stranglehold that White House pressure has put on them.

You can lay it all out for them , knowing they will never pay your fee, and go down with the ship . . . or chunk up your recommended action plan to address just one new level, leaving the other two to simmer until the first of these can produce enough revenues to cover the investment and your fee, setting the stage for a level two proposal.

It’s worth the reminder that, as my father was known to exclaim and as Giovanni Torriano was first credited with recording the phrase in his Second Alphabet in 1662, “You can’t get blood out of a stone.”  And while we’re on the subject of hard subjects and difficult feats, you may want to accept the inevitable and just agree to “bite the bullet.”

In other words, when you can see that your proposal carries with it the hand-wrenching anguish that forces your client to back away from the table, scale it back. What can be accomplished by eliminating the bells and whistles and still manage to develop a new first level that’s acceptable, that can be expected to perform adequately?

Does this put a burden on you? Of course. When you may have been thinking you could do a $15,000 fee project, you find yourself settling for a smaller $4,995 fee project. What’s the answer? Do it with a $15,000 fee attitude, and use the extra time to get out and sell another client or two on projects that total $10,000.

So, now what? You lose $5? Ah, but now you have three clients and can more safely hedge your bet. If you work at it you may also generate $45,000 total a short way down the road, instead of just the opening effort for $15,000.

You can do this. The point is that everyone in business has reached a point of struggle (or at least substantial concern). How much further can this go? Will we have to go belly up? How can we pay the bills? 



Force yourself to take a good hard look at what you’re selling and to whom. Can it be streamlined and priced lower without losing value or impact or safety? Can the excess packaging be eliminated or relaced less expensively without risking damage? Can you use 2-day Priority Mail instead of more expensive overnight shipping? 

Can you make arrangements to package the cars you sell with a gas or routine servicing giftcard? Some lawyers are doing reduced price packaging of basic family and couple’s wills. Some chiropractors will do basic 2 for 1 adjustment visits. The travel and hospitality industries constantly offer discount incentives that strip away luxury cost extras.  


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 Open minds open doors

 Thanks for visiting.   God bless you. 

  Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Jul 24 2011

Only You!

“I am me . . . 


in all the world,


there is no one else


exactly like me.


I am okay!”


 — World renown family therapist VIRGINIA SATIR


[What? You came here looking for that all-time great 56-year-old recording hit “Only You,” by the Platters?]

People around you may sometimes prompt you to think –because you own or run or manage a small business or professional practice– that you are Mr. or Ms. (or Dr.) Awesome in the flesh. And perhaps that’s warranted, especially if you are what’s commonly referred to as “self-made,” in which case: congratulations!

If, however, you can’t even begin to think about your business success because right now you’re down there in the trenches with America’s other 29,999,999 small business owners who are struggling to survive the fanatical progressive/socialist/liberal agenda that has steered government into a trample-free-market-competition mode.

Then the time has come to step back and take personal stock of who you are and where you’re going. And I’m sorry to tell you I can’t help you with where you’re going; only you know that answer. Godspeed!

So let’s explore the real you, the only you, the you that only your inner circle of family and friends knows. I can help you with that. I have lots of experience guiding people (especially business people) to find themselves. It’s not always easy. Some entrepreneurs thrive on making themselves be needles in a haystack.

Begin with accepting the awareness that you are unique.

There is (if you check with your friendly local DNA expert, and as Virginia Satir’s quote above says), no one else exactly like you.


Next, consider that if in fact this is true for every human on Earth, then HOW employees and customers respond to the messages you put out is never exactly the same twice.

Now that should tell you something right off the bat. What you want others to know about you, your products and services is very likely to be not what they are getting from your messages. But let’s return to you.

Government has cultivated dependency among the brain-dead, who make themselves too busy with life to bother with work. Who needs a job when you can get it all (food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education) for free? There are others who work just enough to get by, but most of them seem to have RDD (Responsibility Deficit Disorder).

You are not among those who live off of others or you wouldn’t be reading this.

But some questions for you are in order: Do you choose to make yourself too busy with work to live life? Is it essential to your survival or are your business priorities simply wrapped around “what if” worries? Do you take enough breaks and pat yourself on the back enough for the good things you do? Do you eat and sleep right?

Have you ever almost died”?

Do you get enough exercise? Are you answering these questions truthfully? Do you realize that because you are unique, so are your needs, so is your activity level, so is your spunk and gumption, so is your faith, your sense of patriotism, and your entrepreneurial spirit? When did you last stop to think about those values and variables?

What can you do right now to give your unique self a boost?

We do, in fact, become what we think about. Have you been thinking about what you really want to become, or have you been preoccupied with being the person you think others want you to be? There’s no such thing as working smarter and not harder. The issue is one of balance. There is a way that you already know . . . and, there is prayer.      


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  Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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