Tag Archive: money


Knowing your aspirations will help you filter out the stuff/things
that will block your success

Aspiration means having particular ambitions and then setting out to achieve these goals. This is your purpose, to fly high and soar to greater heights! Knowing your aspiration allows you to tailor-build your personal brand; otherwise you run the risk of building a brand that doesn’t help you reach your aspiration. Remember – if you aim at nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it! 
 
To better visualize aspiration, think about how aspiration applies to building the home of your dreams. What architectural style is this home? How many rooms does it contain? How spacious are the grounds, and are there amenities like a garage, tennis court or swimming pool? On a more detailed level, does your dream home feature hardwood floors or carpeting? What kind of fixtures are in the bathrooms? Is there a standalone kitchen table or an island? 
 
If you don’t know all these answers before you start building your dream home, the project will quickly go off track and you’ll wind up with a poorly designed mishmash of ideas and styles. Or possibly even worse, you will let a contractor tell you what your dreams for your house are, then you’ll wind up with a home that suits someone else’s dreams, but not yours. 
 
The same is true of your brand. Without first realizing your own aspiration, you will have no framework for building your brand, and you will wind up with either a poorly defined brand that does not really tell potential clients and partners anything about who you are or what you do, or a brand that has been defined by someone else.

Realize your aspiration

Aspiration is really a two-part entity: it is something that must be found and then realized. Many people have an aspiration, but relatively few genuinely find an aspiration that truly represents everything in life that they are most passionate about. Even fewer move on to achieve an aspiration once they have found it! The closer your aspiration can align with your passion, the greater the chances for sustainable success! 
 
And not having an aspiration means not knowing what you want, so how do you expect to measure your success without one? If you truly don’t know what you want out of life, make finding out your top priority. Then go back and start building your personal brand. This way you will have a realistic chance of succeeding and a way to measure how well you’re doing!

How Slammed is Your Door?

Keeping with the theme of building a home, let’s measure how slammed (or hopefully open) the door to your aspiration is. Are you open to examining your innermost hopes, dreams and skills to determine what ultimate achievements you aspire to, or have you closed yourself off and decided to “wing it” or follow someone else’s dreams instead? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree: 
 
1. I have identified an aspiration that accurately reflects where I would like to take my career and my life. 
 
2. My most trusted friends, family, colleagues and advisors are aware of my aspiration and I have solicited their feedback. 
 
3. My aspiration aligns with my vision of what my perfect day would be like and there are no significant gaps between the two. 
 
4. I have the passion necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
5. I have the skills necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
6. I have the determination necessary to achieve my aspiration. 
 
6.5 I have written my aspiration down in more than one place so I am constantly reminded of it.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You may have fantasies about having a great career or richly rewarding personal life, but have made no efforts to make them come true or even to see if they really represent what you want in life. 
 
If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. You probably have some firm idea of what you would like to accomplish, but aren’t making a real attempt to go out and do it. 
 
If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. You know what you want and have taken some basic steps to get it. Maybe you earned the right college diploma, or know someone important in the field. You’re probably at the stage where you’re “looking into” achieving your aspiration. And when you’re looking into something, it usually means you have an outside vantage point. 
 
If you scored from 27-33, you door is three-quarters open. You have followed most or all of the 6.5 steps to achieving your aspiration and have a credible shot at making it happen someday. Remember there is a difference between going through the motions and putting your heart into something! 
 
If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have fully integrated your aspiration into all aspects of your life and have made it your number one daily priority. If you have not achieved it yet, you are on a clear path and have already passed several key milestones. You understand that goals are there to be met and surpassed, not held as an ideal.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools. 
 
So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in. 
 


Key 1: Identify three of the most successful people in the area of branded expertise that you are going to capture 
 
While some people like to attribute the success of others as “luck,” this is really just jealousy talking. True success never occurs through simple luck. Even in the case where someone assumes control of a successful family business or inherits a large sum of money, if that person doesn’t have what it takes to succeed, they will fail. Many a family business or fortune has been quickly squandered when an unqualified heir inherited the reins! 
 
Likewise, a “lucky break” will be of no help to a person who is unwilling or unable to recognize the opportunity, seize it, and then capitalize on it to achieve success. Show biz legend has it that the great leading man Burt Lancaster got his first big Broadway role because a casting director mistook him for another actor. Even if this is true, do you think Lancaster could have parlayed that role into a towering stage and film career if he were a dud in front of the audience and camera? 
 
So now that you’re ready to recognize success is never an accident, identify three of the most successful people in your area of branded expertise. Think big. Don’t restrict yourself to the three most successful people you personally know, or who live in your region. If you want to be a success in real estate and you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you

Key 2: Research what they do to stay fresh 
 
You have identified three major success stories in your area of branded expertise. Great. Now it’s time to do a little homework. We live in the “Information Age,” an age where the whole notion of privacy has changed and personal details of almost anyone’s life can be found. We’ll save the debate about the overall ethics and implications of this situation for another time. Right now, we will use it to our advantage. 
 
Depending on whom you have identified and what field you’re in, researching what they do to stay fresh could be as simple as a trip to your local library or bookstore, or may involve a little more legwork. To stay with the Donald Trump example, he has never been shy about trumpeting the secrets to his success for the world to hear (for a price, of course!) Trump has written numerous books about his business philosophies and strategies, and there has been at least one major biography written about him, as well. 
 


Key 2.5: Make sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness 
 
After following the first two steps to freshness, it’s time to take the additional “half-step” of making sure that everything about you communicates and exudes freshness. Like it or not, image and appearance are extremely important, and unless you look and act the role of fresh, you can identify and research how other people have achieved aspirations similar to yours and not get anywhere with that knowledge.

Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at aspiration with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between following your aspiration and following someone else’s aspiration or following nothing at all. To find your aspiration, you need to examine your innermost passion and determine what it is you are truly best at. Then align your aspiration with these qualities and you can’t lose! 
 
Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for determining, following and achieving an aspiration that will yield you personal, economic and professional success? 
 

 

 

What will you do today? __________________________________


What will you do this week? _________________________________


What will you do this month?_________________________________

Homebuyers often have two options: a fresh new house in “move-in” condition or an old “fixer-upper.” No big surprise, the newly built home not in need of any significant repairs or renovations tends to fetch a lot more on the market.

Brands are a lot like houses – fresh houses are more in demand and bring in more money than houses that are old and in need of some “TLC.” People who achieve meaningful and long-term success personally, economically and professionally understand the critical importance of staying fresh. You can’t just land your newly developed personal brand today, move into it and expect it to carry you throughout your career and life while you do not perform any maintenance or upgrades.

Anyone who has ever been in love (or even thought they were in love) can attest to this. The initial courtship is passionate and you can’t see enough of each other. But as you know, time goes on, competition enters, and that once passionate flame begins to flicker and eventually burns out. If a relationship is to have any chance of thriving long-term success you’ve got to keep it fresh, right?

You are essentially in a relationship, or pursuing a relationship, with bosses, clients, co-workers, customers, teachers, etc. For your relationships with the people who consume your brand to thrive long-term, your brand needs to stay fresh, current and vibrant enough to retain their interest and outshine the other brands vying for their hearts.

How Slammed is Your Door?

Let’s compile a homeowner-themed “slam score” of your freshness. Is your brand’s door wide open to fresh new ideas, concepts and activities, or is it slammed shut against all progress and modernization? Rate how strongly you agree that each of the following fresh statements applies to you today from 1-5, with 1 equaling strongly disagree and 5 equaling strongly agree:

1. My friends and colleagues come to me for the most up to date information.

2. If you are looking for fresh ideas, I am the one.

3. My current skill set is the most competitive out of anyone I may come up against for a job and/or promotion.

4. I am aware of the latest technology that can help me personally and professionally.

5. When my friends and colleagues want a fresh perspective or strategy I am the first person they call.

6. The last book that I read was one that was published within the last 12 months.

6.5 My resume is current, up to date and competitive.

Now that you’ve taken the test, let’s analyze your score:

If you scored from 7-13, your door is slammed shut. You know what that means: nobody wants to purchase your brand and you’ll soon be taken off the market and maybe even put into foreclosure.

If you scored from 14-20, your door is open a crack. There is minimal demand for your personal brand, but only at a steep discount and when the more popular and competitive brands are all off the market.

If you scored from 21-26, your door is open halfway. Your brand will sell if it stays on the market long enough, but anyone seeking a truly comfortable home they can move right into will look elsewhere.

If you scored from 27-33, you door is open three-quarters. Your brand is a respectable choice for the discerning homeowner, but only as a backup if higher bidders get the more desirable homes in the neighborhood.

If you scored a 34 or 35, your door is wide open. Congratulations! You have the home that is most in demand and fetches the highest prices in town. Your buyers come to check you out early in the morning, when only the most competitive homebuyers are out evaluating the available options.

2.5 Keys to Unslamming Your Door

Just because your door may not currently be wide open does not mean it has to stay that way. Even a door that is stuck due to years of staying closed can be pried open with the proper tools.

So to help you unslam your door, or keep it wide open if it’s already that way, I offer the following 2.5 fresh keys to opening even the most stubbornly slammed door so the whole world can come on in.

Key 1: Establish a network, refresh your network – Simply put, without a well-established and maintained network, you will not go far in this world. Due to immense market pressures and the rapid speed of modern business, today’s employers do not have time to waste searching for job candidates, evaluating them from scratch, and then hiring and training one they hope will turn out to be successful.

A large number of employers are now more willing to hire people they know, either directly or through someone, who can demonstrate they will succeed with a minimum of training or development. And a few key questions that they will ask of someone who knows you (hopefully that’s in your network) is what’s your track record like, can you make things happen and can you get results. You want to empower your network members with the ability to respond with a resounding, “He/she is the person that can make it happen and they have a track record of results.”

So how do you go about establishing a network? As an aspiring or current member of the professional world, hopefully you have already taken some basic network-building steps, but don’t be complacent. Continue to join professional associations and volunteer for causes you believe in. Look for the “movers and shakers” and invite them into your network, identify people who are where you want to be and what you want to become, and soak up their knowledge like a sponge.

Also keep in mind that a network is a living, breathing organism. It needs regular nourishment or it will die (remember, you have to keep it fresh). Refresh your network on a regular basis. Call that old college buddy you haven’t seen in a while and find out what he or she is up to.

One final note on networking in the 21st century – your network is no longer constrained by physical bounds. Thanks to the unifying power of the Internet, you can build a virtual network that spans the globe. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and Spoke.com, alumni-oriented sites such as Classmates.com, and even social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, allow you to establish a profile and build valuable relationships with people you may never even “meet” in the physical sense!

If you maintain any type of personal Web site or blog, please keep in mind that it needs to reflect the type of image you want to present to prospective employers and business contacts. If you’d be embarrassed for your parents, children or spouse/significant other to see it, or for it to make headlines in the New York Times, keep it off the Internet!

Key 2: Implement five fresh steps into your daily routine – You need to do a little “modeling,” which is one of the biggest secrets of successful people. Continuing with our real estate-themed example, let’s look at the daily life of real estate mogul Donald Trump. According to his book Trump: The Art of the Deal, he rises most mornings by six a.m. and spends an hour reading newspapers. He arrives to work by nine a.m. and during the course of a working day that runs till about six-thirty p.m., makes 50 to 100 phone calls and has at least a dozen meetings, most of which last no longer than fifteen minutes. He rarely stops for lunch and will often continue making phone calls from home until midnight and all through the weekend. Trump finds all of this activity enjoyable.

If you are a beginning real estate developer, you could easily work five of these steps into your daily routine. Rise at six a.m.? Check. Spend an hour reading newspapers? Check. Arrive to work by nine? Check (come on, you should be doing this step already!). Make 50 to 100 phone calls per day? Check. Skip lunch? Check. And even if your personal schedule doesn’t allow you to make calls from home till midnight or through the weekend, you can certainly enjoy your work as a real estate developer. Implementing these steps couldn’t possibly make you less successful, and I’d be amazed if they didn’t make you more successful over the long haul!

Key 2.5: Stay fresh and keep nailing your way forward, into your big fresh mansion – The marketplace is ever changing as is the norm, so always be positioned to competitively respond. But dare you get comfortable as there is always bigger and greater in you. The “nail” will prevent the door from slamming shut and help keep it open. Don’t acquiesce to fixing up your “local generic shack” – instead focus on building a world-class mansion.

TGAPTM – The Great Action Plan

I will conclude today’s look at brand freshness with a Great Action Plan aimed at helping close the gap between true freshness and staleness. To become fresh, you need to change your attitude toward living! Rather than trying to adopt a “quick fix” to obtain pseudo-success that will not last, take the longer-term approach of developing a fresh attitude toward life that will allow you to achieve personal and professional success that permeates your entire existence.

Now using the information above, what will you do to close the GAP? What’s your Great Action Plan for becoming a fresh brand that is sought after and will yield you personal, economic and professional success.

What will you do today? __________________________________
What will you do this week? _________________________________
What will you do this month?_________________________________

Adaptability is Key to Surviving and Thriving When Times Are Tough

Some people pride themselves on having always provided the same services and/or products the same way, at the same price, for years on end. They think this inflexibility in how they serve their customers, bosses and clients is a sign of brand strength, proof that they can provide something constant in a chaotic and ever-changing world.

Hooey. The people you provide products and services to, the connoisseurs of your brand, if you will, are not looking for a constant. They’re looking for the best deal or best advantage they can get today. What works best today may not be what worked best yesterday and probably won’t be what works best tomorrow. In this difficult environment when nobody wants to spend a penny they don’t have to, the only unchanging constant associated with your brand should be that you provide a top quality brand experience. Everything else should be open for negotiation.

Let me give you an example from my own brand-building experience to illustrate exactly what I mean. When I first left my career as a top executive at a Fortune 5 company to become a full-time motivational speaker, career coach and business author, I was surprised by the need to quickly and effectively change my operating model in a seamless manner.

I mean the whole enchilda: marketing, branding, client support and customer services. I no longer had the resources of a global organization to fall back upon; I had me: Michael D. Brown. If Michael D. Brown did not complete a task, no matter how small or menial, there were no support staffers to complete it for me.

On top of this drastic change in resources and responsibilities, the economy decided to start tanking right around the time I made my career switch. As the economy proves it can change drastically without warning, you need to have robust contingency plans in place that allow you to quickly reduce your operating cost while increasing the level of service and value you provide to your customers.

When the economy struggles, consumers start to look for low-cost, quality solutions and will pay little attention to a business that isn’t adjusting their pricing without sacrificing quality. This meant I had to be willing to accept less for doing the same or even more work. After all, collecting 50% of my previous fee is a lot better than collecting 0%!

By being flexible, by being willing to alter every aspect of my brand proposition except for the top-level products and services I provide, I have been able to survive and yes, even thrive as I grow my young business during one of the worst recessions in living memory. I may not be making quite as much as I would have had I stayed in my executive position, but the freedom of being my own boss and satisfaction of helping others to earn my living more than make up for any lost pay. At the end of the day, flexibility can help you obtain the most valuable brand asset of all: peace of mind.

Have you found yourself taking a more flexible approach to building your brand, either by choice or necessity, during this recession? Let me know your story!

http://www.themichaeldbrown.com

Who can you trust with your money/assets these days? The banks, mortgage companies, company 401K plans have all seem to cause people to loose their life savings. Now check this latest story out.

Ameriprise Financial Inc. settled a civil case with New Hampshire regulators alleging that the company’s financial advisers forged at least 96 customers’ signatures.

Ameriprise agreed to pay $3.84 million in fines, investigation costs, and investor refunds to settle allegations that six financial advisers at the company’s Portsmouth, N.H., office forged clients’ signatures to make it seem that undelivered financial plans had been delivered. Regulators say Ameriprise advisers did this to make their sales numbers look higher.

Not only is this bad customer service it’s just plain unethical!

Do you trust anyone with your money or are you going to just put it under the mattress?

www.FreshCustomerService.com

On Sunday JPMorgan Chase agreed to purchase Bear for $236 million, or $2 a share — a fraction of its value even from the close of trading Friday — sent fears that there might not be much of Bear Stearns left when the merger is completed later this year.

At $2 a share the more than 14000 employees will walk away with pennies. This is so unfortunate.
The deal between JPMorgan and Bear was put together over the weekend to save Bear from both bankruptcy and possible liquidation. If approved by Bear shareholders, it will bring an end to the company’s 85-year-old history.

Bear’s employees currently own about one-third of the firm’s stock. For so long it was considered a point of pride and loyalty to own stock in the firm, and selling was frown upon.

Do you think employees should invest less in the companies they work for or is this just a case of bad luck for the employees?

www.freshcustomerservice.com

Starbucks is closing the doors at its 7,100 stores across America for a brief barista re-education.

CEO Howard Schultz announced the 3-hour closure starting at 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday to energize 135,000 employees.
He wants baristas to share their passion for making espresso, or as he says, “to pull the perfect shot, steam milk to order and customize their favorite beverage.”

Schultz says it’s part of his refocusing on the coffee customer experience.

Since the chairman returned as CEO in January he has been making changes to revive Starbucks’ growth.

This is a bold move, but I think it’s a needed one. More retailers should look at providing refresher training. The only way to survive and prosper for the long haul is to stay Fresh.

Sprint Nextel Corp.’s stock plunged Friday after the wireless carrier said it will cut 4,000 jobs and close 125 retail locations in response to a steep drop in its customer base.

Sprint shares plummeted nearly 25 percent, prompting analysts to forecast even more cuts in the coming months as the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier struggles to compete with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

The layoff of about 6.7 percent of Sprint’s work force and closure of 8 percent of its stores is to be completed in the first half of the year. Sprint said in a news release that the cuts will trim labor costs by $700 million to $800 million a year.

What do you think Sprint Nextel can do to fix their problem?:

A. Better service plans
B. More attractive phones
C. Improve customer service
D. Lower their prices

www.freshcustomerservice.com