Monthly Archives: December 2015

Three Words That Will Change Your Life

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
 
 
Three Words That Will Change Your Life
 
By Alex Green
Talk about a model prisoner…

In 1985, Fleet Maull began serving a 14-year sentence for drug trafficking. During his incarceration, he completed a Ph.D. in Psychology, authored a well-received book, became an ordained priest, founded a prison hospice program and launched the Prison Dharma Network, a non-profit organization that supports prisoner rehabilitation through contemplative spirituality.

Today Maull works as a peace activist and personal effectiveness coach, lecturing at leading universities, in corporate boardrooms, in high-risk areas like Rwanda and the Middle East, and in what he calls “the forgotten world” inside our jails and prisons.

Maull has plenty of wisdom and experience to share. But he sums up his core message in a single phrase: Radical Responsibility.

Maull believes we create everything that’s happening in our lives, good and bad. It’s only when we accept complete responsibility that we take the giant step from childhood to adulthood. Self-responsibility is the key to personal effectiveness in every sphere of life.

Yet many choose to embrace the psychology of helplessness and victimhood, preferring to explain all their struggles in terms of the actions of others.

Like you, I meet many middle-aged men and women who are still grumbling and complaining about earlier unhappy experiences, who are still blaming their problems on other people or “the breaks.” They’re angry with their parents, fuming at an old boss, still simmering over their ex-spouse. They’re trapped in the past and can’t get free.

Yet the great enemy of success and happiness is negative emotions. Fear, self-pity, envy, jealousy and anger hold us back, tie us down and suck the joy out of life.

Studies show that there are four root causes of these emotions. Once you identify them, you can begin to banish them:

·         Justification. You can be negative only as long as you convince yourself that you are entitled to be angry. Unhappy individuals will always be found explaining and elaborating on the profound unfairness of their situation.

·         Rationalization. Rationalization is self-deception, an attempt to create a plausible explanation for a socially unacceptable act. (As in, “If I turn this in six weeks late, no one will care anyway.”)

·         Blaming. There is no quality more closely associated with unhappiness than the habit of blaming others for our difficulties.

·         Poor Self-Esteem. Low self-esteem is generally characterized by a hypersensitivity to the opinions of others. No one wants to lose the respect of others, but conscientious people don’t need to fret about what other people think.

Management consultant Brian Tracy points out that there’s a simple antidote to these factors that create negative emotions. You need only say three words: I am responsible.

Whether your problem is joblessness, addiction, overspending, obesity, or a damaged personal relationship, you move closer to a solution the moment you say, “I am responsible.”

It’s impossible to say these words and still feel angry. The very act of taking responsibility short-circuits and cancels out negative emotions.

As Tracy says, “Every time you blame someone else or make excuses, you give your power away. You feel weakened and diminished… Without the acceptance of complete personal responsibility, no progress is possible. On the other hand, once you accept total responsibility for your life, there are no limits to what you can be, do and have.”

Yet many would rather train for the Boston Marathon in three feet of snow than say these words. Why?

Psychologists say human beings have a natural propensity to accumulate pride and shun regret. Whether we recognize it or not, we tend to take responsibility for the positive developments in our lives and attribute unfavorable developments to others or circumstances.

This is not to say there aren’t times when our lives are significantly influenced by outside forces. Maybe you’re a great worker who lost her job due to a corporate downsizing or the poor economy.

Maybe your parents really were poor role models. But victims don’t create change. It’s only when you choose to focus on what you can do and how you should act that you gain power.

Businesses and other organizations today are looking for people who are willing and able to think, who are self-directing and self-managing, who respond to problems proactively rather than merely waiting for someone else’s solutions.

A study done in New York a few years ago found that people who ranked in the top 3% in every field had a special attitude that set them apart from average performers in their industries. It was this: They chose to view themselves as self-employed throughout their careers, no matter who signed their paychecks.

These are people who set goals, make plans, establish measures and get results.

Radical responsibility changes everything. It means you own your thoughts, impulses, feelings and actions. You are accountable for the consequences they bring and the impact they have on others.

This is not a burden, incidentally. It’s a privilege and an honor to take ownership of your actions. It creates freedom and control. It gives meaning to life.

Self-reliance is the great source of personal power. We create ourselves, shape our identity and determine the course of our lives by what we are willing to take responsibility for.

Want to change your life and solve your problems, starting today?

Say three simple words:

I am responsible.

About the Author: Alex Green is the author of excellent books like, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters, and Beyond Wealth, that show you how to lead a “rich” life during trying economic times.
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A Lesson From Abraham Lincoln on Persuasion

“Who is mighty? That person who can control their own emotions  and make, of an enemy, a friend.” – Talmud
 
 
A Lesson From Abraham Lincoln on Persuasion
 
By Bob Burg
The 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was one of the best when it came to mastering the art of positive persuasion — what I often refer to as Winning Without Intimidation. He knew how to make friends out of enemies, and keep conflict to a minimum. I believe the following story is an excellent example of the president’s abilities in this regard:

“…{On one occasion}, when another official sharply criticized Lincoln’s judgment, the president responded to a reporter’s interrogation by saying he had great respect for the other man, and if this official had concerns about him, there must be some truth to it. Such discretion disarmed divisiveness that was intended to draw Lincoln into side-skirmishes, it won the hearts of his friends and foes and it allowed Lincoln to maintain focus on more important issues.”

What Lincoln did was to utilize the tactic of “deflection.” This means to softly “parry” a strong challenge or accusation, deflecting it into another direction where it is now harmless. Allow me to explain by way of a boxing analogy.

If you watch a boxing match you’ll notice that when one fighter throws a jab (a straight punch, usually with the left hand) the intended target will, very coolly, simply wait until the punch almost reaches him. He’ll then just parry it away with his right hand by using only a very slight flick of the wrist. The “rub” is that, the harder the punch is thrown, the less effort it takes to deflect it into a harmless result.

This is what Lincoln did, and what you can do, as well.

Use The Other Person’s Force…To Your Advantage

When someone says something to you, or about you, don’t fight it, battle it, or try and stop it. It won’t work. In fact, it typically will have only the opposite effect of drawing you more heavily into the confrontation and providing fodder for the conflict. Instead, do what Lincoln did. Compliment the offender and leave him and his comment without power to harm you. You can do this one of two ways:

1. If you’re told what someone said about you, then, like Lincoln, express your admiration for that person and suggest that, “If Pat said it, it’s something I should at least look into.”

This parry, or deflection, will totally disarm the person who just related Pat’s words. He or she cannot argue with you, because you did not argue with them. They can’t debate the point, because you’ve politely refused to debate. And (perhaps, most importantly), they cannot quote your “defensive” response to anyone else, including Pat, because you did not respond defensively.

Another positive consequence of this is that often your kind and complimentary words will make their way back to Pat, who will now have a newly-found respect for you and think of you (and feel about you) much more positively than before.

If something is being told to you that is meant to be offensive or disruptive, directly acknowledge to the person that he/she may just have a point and it’s something you need to consider.

If that’s not appropriate, simply thank the person for bringing it up. You can then decide whether or not a further response or explanation is necessary. An excellent parry, or deflection, is to simply say, “That’s a good question” or “You make a valid point.”

Don’t Confuse This With Being A Doormat

Please understand and keep in mind: I’m not saying not to answer and/or stick up for yourself. Taking a definite position might be very necessary. What the deflection does, however, is keep it impersonal. It allows for positive detachment so that the answer can be of best service to everyone and not indicative of negative personal feelings.

Here are three practice exercises you can do over the next week to strengthen yourself in this area:

1.    Work on deflection via parrying every time you are confronted, regardless of the lightness or seriousness of the confrontation.

2.    Watch other people during their conflicts and observe how they handle a “left jab.” Do they deflect it with a classy parry, or do they get caught up in trying to “stop” the verbal punch? How does the option they took (consciously or unconsciously) work out for them?

3.    Watch interviews on television and observe the dynamic. Note the ones who seem most efficient in the art of deflection, and determine to model them in future similar situations of your own.

And, the following is perhaps the most powerful of all ways to prepare:

Mentally rehearse a situation in which someone verbally attacks or criticizes you or passes along a similar remark from someone else as in the example with President Lincoln.

See yourself, in your mind’s eye, responding with calmness and serenity, completely in control of your own emotions and thus, in control of the situation. Your response is a perfect parry; a smooth deflection that leaves everyone feeling good about themselves and the situation. Imagine how terrific you feel afterwards.

If you can do it in your mind, you can do it in a real-life situation. Just as an astronaut training for a mission goes through numerous simulated missions before ever actually going into space, you’ll find rehearsing in your mind before the event ever takes place puts you nine steps ahead of the game…in a ten-step game.

When you become really good at doing this, you’ll find it to be one of the most self-empowering (not to mention, fun!) aspects of your interpersonal communications.

And, you’ll be the one that others see as a master of people skills and persuasion, and a person of powerful influence.

About the author: Bob Burg speaks at corporate conferences and entrepreneurial events. His books (which include Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver) have altogether sold over a million copies. His newest book is Adversaries Into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion. To get Chapter One, visit www.burg.com.
 

 

Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Debt

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” – Napolean Hill
 
 
Don’t Pay Your Credit Card Debt
 
By James Altucher
My dad got off the phone and started crying. My mom yelled at him, “He didn’t give it to you!”

My dad had lent $2,000 to S. and S. couldn’t pay him back “yet.” This call happened at least once a week.

S. was his best friend for 20 years. My mom would scream at my dad, “I told you not to give him money! What are we going to do now?” And she would start crying.

I was a kid. But we were going broke. My dad needed the money. I was a little kid but I felt scared and didn’t know why.

S. went to jail. Not for the $2,000 of course (who cares?) but he was convicted of bribing a company that made him millions of dollars.

All of this is to say: your character creates your future.

My dad was too trusting and too sad and died from the cocktail of both.

My mother’s pessimism gets contorted into anger.

And S. didn’t have integrity and ultimately went to jail.

Your character today is your fate tomorrow.

What does this have to do with credit cart debt?

Everything!

First, always pay your friends back. This is what integrity is about.

This is what friendship is about. This is what handshakes are for. This is how you build character.

Credit card debt is NOT the same as friendship debt.

A bank is not your friend. A bank is usually a trillion dollar institution that charges you fees, interest payments, has lots of fine print, and makes you sign lots of contracts.

You have a contract with a bank.

The bank says, “we will lend you up to $X, and you will pay us back all the money plus interest, plus penalties. Or else we will seize your assets.”

So it’s give. And it’s take. Like every contract in the world.

It’s “I will do X, and if I don’t satisfy my responsibility, you can do Y.”

There are usually other terms in the fine print, by the way.

A) If you default on even one of your credit cards, the interest rates on other cards you own might go up.

One card, with First Premier Bank, even had interest rates go as high as 80%. You had to read the fine print to see that. They ended that card in 2011.

B) You usually get low rates for the first six months, and then much higher rates, and if you miss a payment, your interest rates might be as high as 20% or more.

So the banks are not your friend.

Where does the bank get the money?

No problem: they borrow money from the U.S. government, and the government will seize customer savings accounts if the bank defaults.

What interest do banks borrow at? Basically, 0% give or take. And this is how banks make money: the difference between that 20% (give or take) and 0%.

That’s a lot of money. There’s about a trillion dollars in credit card debt out there. I’m being very rough here, but that’s $200 billion in potential profits.

This post is in response to a question I got a few weeks ago. The question was this (verbatim):

“Hi James, Please please help me. I lost my job. I’m having trouble paying my mortgage. I’m really depressed and I think my wife is going to leave me and I have to put food on the table for three kids.

“But every month I owe a ton of money to the credit cards. Should I file for bankruptcy? I can’t sleep at night. I feel like killing myself. What should I do?”

Answer: DON’T PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD DEBT if it is hurting the rest of your life.

Whatever you do: DO NOT file for bankruptcy. Then the courts just give the credit card companies your money. You have no say. Who do you think will win that battle?

It’s not an ethical issue. It’s a contract issue. You signed a contract.

Now the banks have to do their end of the contract. They have the full right to seize your assets. (but I’ll get to that in a second…)

By the way, the banks don’t even care. They have 100 PhDs who have already modeled out how many people will default.

They simply sell off your bad debt to hedge funds.

Why would a hedge fund buy your debt once you start to default? Easy: they pay 3 to 6 cents for every dollar you borrowed.

If you borrowed $1,000 on your credit card, the bank will sell it to a hedge fund for $30.

The hedge fund now has to collect from you.

I can tell you: these hedge funds do very well.

How do I know this?

Because I was invested in them. They buy your debt for three cents on the dollar and they might, on average, collect eight cents on the dollar.

They outsource to either collection agencies or law firms in your local area to collect from you.

Maybe they give the collection agencies, on average, two cents. So now the hedge funds have made 100% on their investment. Not a bad business to be in. These hedge funds still do very well to this day.

By the way, hedge funds analyze these collections of bad credit card debt like they would any other investment.

They look at the ages of the borrowers (younger age means they will pay less money), they look at the age of the debt (older means they will pay less money for the debt), and yes they look at race and gender and what state you live in.

North Carolina and West Virginia, for whatever reason, are the worst states if you are a buyer of batches of bad credit card debt. Nobody could tell me why. But they might only pay 2 cents on the dollar for those.

This is all happening between three and 12 months after you stopped paying on your debt.

Now collection agencies start calling you day and night. You can change your number.

Or if you answer the phone, record the conversation. Every state has different laws on how collection agencies are allowed to talk to you. You can google the laws in your state.

It’s very easy to catch them breaking the law. Then you owe nothing. So record the conversations and try to get them angry.

They will try to scare you. They use fake names like “Dick Brockman” and they say things like “In five days we have to go to court and seize all of your assets.” Again, in some states this is illegal to say. In some states it might not be.

One thing you always have the right to do: Say, “Show me the proof I owe this money.”

Since the collection agencies got your name from a hedge fund that might have bought only part of your debt from another hedge fund, who knows where that original proof is? It’s gone! They are required to show you proof if you ask.

How do I know this? Not because I was invested in the hedge funds. But because “Dick Brockman” called me in 1994.

I once owed on library fines from 1988. In 1994, collection agencies would call me and I would get scared. I eventually paid. What an idiot I was! Six years later! Library fines!

Local lawyers are a bit tougher. They can actually threaten you with court action and they might not be bluffing.

No problem. If they have proof (unlikely), then settle.

If you owed $1,000, offer them $100. Ten cents for every dollar. They might take it. It’s above average. Oh, and offer a payment plan. Maybe a little bit each month for two years.

They’ll take it because it’s like free money for them.

It’s a negotiation at this point. They are pretty happy to collect on anything so they will probably say yes.

Again, I know this because I know the hedge funds that are the ultimate beneficiaries (not the banks, or the credit card companies).

The investors in the hedge fund make money but mostly the hedge fund manager gets enormous fees off off the money they collect.

That’s where all the mansions come from while you were struggling to pay your mortgage.

I’m not saying they don’t deserve their mansions. They take risks buying all that defaulted debt.

But you don’t deserve to struggle with your mortgage either. Or worry about killing yourself or feeding your kids.

You deserve a good life without stress. You weren’t trying to be bad, but (as the banks already modeled) sometimes bad things happen to good people.

You signed a contract where everyone knew the risks. Even if you didn’t read all the fine print (who does?) and even if the banks are gleefully hoping you pay penalties, etc, the flip side is they know there is a reasonable chance you can default.

It’s not like friendship debt where you need to pay back.

Default in the credit card industry is, by itself, an entire industry that many people benefit from.

What would happen if everyone followed this advice?

The system would totally break. The economy would collapse.

But here’s the good news: not everyone will follow this advice.

And if you owe $10 and have $100 in the bank, you might as well pay your credit card debt. Don’t get any more credit cards after that. They are a scam once you read the fine print.

But if you are struggling and your kids need food and your marriage is at stake and you lost your job, then simply stop paying your credit card debt and follow the process I describe above. It’s a 1-6 year process.

I would say mortgage debt also but that’s another post. Student loan debt is yet another post.

Ok, you might say, but what about my credit score? Won’t my credit go bad?

I’m going to be totally transparent. I’ve never in my entire life had a credit card. But still…

I separated from my ex-wife in 2007. In the confusion of houses, and misery, and despair, and kids were scared, and “nothing will ever be the same,” we were a few days late on two mortgage payments in a row. I was also late on a state tax return (but not federal).

I paid everything but it was too late.

Just those two things, and because I have no credit cards (so no opportunities to show regular payments), my credit score fell from 780 to 580.

It’s horrible.

That was 2007. It’s still 580.

Guess what? I can make it 780 again anytime I want. I’ve done it before.

I can pay an agency that does it for me. It cost me $2,000 last time (in 1999 – those library fines were haunting my rating). They call up the credit agencies and “fix” things.

But I won’t pay an agency. Since 2007 I’ve rented four other apartments, had background checks run on me, and even leased two cars (I don’t drive but Claudia Azula Altucher does).

Did anyone bring up my credit score? Of course they did! Did it effect the final price on anything, or cause me to be rejected from anything? No! And sight unseen. People didn’t even know what I looked like.

People want to make money. They want to sell you things regardless of credit score. Credit scores are a scam industry also.

In one case I had to promise to pay an extra month’s rent as security. But we ended up not renting that apartment anyway.

I felt really bad about my dad, and my mom, and even S.

When I was a little kid, S. owned a small publishing company.

I was an expert at solving Rubik’s Cube when it was popular. I had my own tricks to do it fast.

S. told me he would publish a book with my formulas if I wrote them down. I felt great. I bragged in school I was going to be a published author.

One teacher told me not to say it anymore. She said, “You can’t say it again until it happens.”

I ended up not finishing it. And now S. is in jail. I often have ideas I don’t finish. Even to this day.

Character defines your future.

If God Can Use A Donkey

If God Can Use A Donkey
by Lawrence Powell

God wants to use you! You might have difficulty receiving it because, “You don’t know where I’ve been, Pastor; you don’t know what I’ve done.” God does. He knows everything about you. God, Who is omniscient, already knowing everything you’d ever do, was never taken by surprise that when He told you to go right, you still went left. He knows when you’ve been abused, when others have taken from you what they could get and then cast you to the curb. That’s not how He will use you. God is waiting for you to make yourself available to Him, allowing Him to be glorified in and through you–through your talents, skills, abilities and more. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you have anything to offer!

In Matthew 21, we read of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry before the crucifixion. At the beginning of this passage, Jesus sends His two disciples into the village to retrieve for him a donkey, tied to a fence, and her colt with her. Their instruction was to tell anyone who says anything to them, “The Lord has need of them.” Please notice that when Jesus was arranging transportation for this most important moment, He did not choose a white stallion or a black stallion, a gray mare or even a brown camel; He chose a donkey! Jesus chose a donkey to use on His very public, triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

It is interesting that this wasn’t the first time He used a donkey. In Numbers 22, we read that God opened a donkey’s mouth to speak to a wayward prophet named Balaam. Balaam was entertaining the idea that he could, for a price, curse the people of God even though they had been blessed by God! This aroused God’s anger against him. God sent an angel to block Balaam’s path. Three times the donkey saw the angel blocking the path and halted, and three times Balaam whipped the donkey. The third time, the beast opened its mouth and said, “Why do you keep on striking me? For years I have served you faithfully and have not caused you any anger. Why are you now striking me? Can you not clearly see the angel blocking our path?” The Lord then opened Balaam’s eyes, and it says in verse 31 that “he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His sword drawn in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell on his face.” God used a donkey to get a prophet’s attention.

Move forward to Judges 15, and you’ll find another account of God using a donkey – or what was left behind of one! Here, the Philistines were coming with shouts toward Samson. Verse 14 tells us, “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson… And he found a still moist jawbone of a donkey and reached out and took it and slew 1,000 men with it.” We often think of Samson as being buff, someone naturally intimidating. But he wasn’t really. He was an average Joe, a natural guy with a supernatural anointing. Just about anybody can sing, anybody can talk, anybody can preach, but it’s another thing to have the anointing of God upon you. The anointing brings distinction. It causes burdens to be removed and yokes to be destroyed, and whenever you have an anointing, God will allow you to get your hand on some things – even some things you think are useless. They’ll be useful in the hands of the right person! God used the fresh jawbone of a donkey in the hands of an anointed judge, Samson, to bring deliverance to His people. If God can use a donkey, certainly He can use you!

When I think back to Jesus’ triumphal entry, I discover these three things are essential:

The donkey was SELECTED. It was chosen. In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You didn’t choose Me; I chose you and have appointed you to go bear fruit.” He prearranged your selection before your grandmother ever met your grandfather. “Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure He took in planning this! (Ephesians 1:3-6, MSG).” You are not His second choice; you are His first choice! Don’t allow the enemy to convince you otherwise. Despite flaws, imperfections and issues, you’re chosen. Isn’t that wonderful?! You’re here today, not because of your goodness or what you’ve done, but because of what He’s done. He sees something in you and says, “That individual, that one, has something I can use.” God says, “I choose you.” Accept your calling today!

The donkey was SANCTIFIED. Mark 11:2 tells us that no one had sat upon the colt. It was sanctified. Sanctification is not just about being set apart from sin. It is also means to be set apart to God. When God calls you out of this world’s sin and bondage, He also calls you into His light. Sanctification is more than the way you dress. I remember how that was such a focal point in times past when women had to wear peanut butter colored stockings that were so thick Superman couldn’t see through them just to be considered sanctified. Now our culture has swung the other way, acting as if sanctification and your dress code have no connection. Our eyes are supposed to be on Jesus, not on you! Be truly sanctified, observing the Lord’s instructions, and be careful that you don’t allow the world’s system to have such an influence on you.

The donkey was SATISFIED. Please notice that this donkey said nothing. It was content to be used of the Lord and had no issue with all the praise and glory going to Jesus. If you’re going to truly be used of the Lord, then settle it in your mind today. May it be your resolve that when He uses you to bless someone in song, you’re satisfied that He gets the glory and not you. When He uses you to pray for the sick and the sick recover, be clear on this: to God be the glory. When He uses you to sow and water a seed, and yet someone else brings in the harvest, be sure to give Him the glory, praise and honor. It’s not about fame or fortune. It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus. Let your prayer be, “Lord if you can use a donkey, you can use me today. I will be faithful to give you the praise and the honor.”

Remember that there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor in the Master’s house. If you cleanse yourself, you will be “a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Timothy 2:20-21).” Do you want to be used of the Lord today? Tell Him you’re available!

u may have heard the phrase: “French women don’t get fat.” Frankly, I find it abrupt and provocative, but the truth is, it’s true. In fact, most Europeans enjoy a nice silhouette, so they must be doing something right (Read on to find out what). Don’t worry; I know their tricks. I spent about half of my life in Europe before coming to this great country and eventually becoming a proud American. Today, it just so happens that I received the following email from a reader, so this is my chance to unveil the secrets. “Hello Chef, I purchased your Eat More Burn More cookbook and have made several delicious meals from it! I still don’t understand how European women can stay thin when they eat croissants, pasta, bread, etc… all the time! Unless, they make these things with the adjustments you suggest. And what about eating out?? Our family will be spending 2.5 weeks in Italy this month — eating in restaurants often!! Any advice at how we can successfully do this? How do I get around the croissant breakfasts and pasta??? Thank you!” — Lorine Answer: Great questions, Lorine. You see, the more I spend time in the US, the more I understand the cultural differences between the US and Europe, as they relate to nutrition, exercise, and healthy eating. How do European women keep their figure? Well, first, things are changing and the adoption of an American lifestyle by Europeans makes things a little harder for them. Nonetheless, there are details in their lifestyle that make a big difference I think. Here they are: Soft exercise is one of them (you walk everywhere in Europe). Having longer meals and taking the time to enjoy, and have conversations at the dinner table. That also makes a difference (digestion takes more time, which helps). The portions are smaller. The food is more authentic and healthier as a general rule (less processed foods). Europeans eat more fiber (more veggies, more nuts, seeds, less empty calories). Pastries and sweets are usually enjoyed at the end of the meal. Less fast food. All this makes a huge difference. It makes the difference. Lorine, I’ll be surprised if your family gains weight during your trip to Italy. Please let me know when you get back. I bet you’ll be all fine. Enjoy your trip, live like an Italian (enjoy the small portion of pasta as an “appetizer,” walk everywhere, eat what the locals put in front of you, have a glass of red wine daily, chit chat with your hosts…), and don’t worry so much about gaining weight. In my experience, when my US relatives visit my family in France, they actually lose weight! The food there is actually much more fiber oriented, with less empty calories and less sugar. And that is exactly what I promote in my book Eat More, Burn More. Have a good trip and let me know if I’m right. :)

By Gui Alinat

You may have heard the phrase: “French women don’t get fat.” Frankly, I find it abrupt and provocative, but the truth is, it’s true.

In fact, most Europeans enjoy a nice silhouette, so they must be doing something right (Read on to find out what).

Don’t worry; I know their tricks. I spent about half of my life in Europe before coming to this great country and eventually becoming a proud American.

Today, it just so happens that I received the following email from a reader, so this is my chance to unveil the secrets.

“Hello Chef,
I purchased your Eat More Burn More cookbook and have made several delicious meals from it! I still don’t understand how European women can stay thin when they eat croissants, pasta, bread, etc… all the time! Unless, they make these things with the adjustments you suggest. And what about eating out?? Our family will be spending 2.5 weeks in Italy this month — eating in restaurants often!! Any advice at how we can successfully do this? How do I get around the croissant breakfasts and pasta??? Thank you!”
— Lorine

Answer:
Great questions, Lorine.

You see, the more I spend time in the US, the more I understand the cultural differences between the US and Europe, as they relate to nutrition, exercise, and healthy eating.

How do European women keep their figure? Well, first, things are changing and the adoption of an American lifestyle by Europeans makes things a little harder for them. Nonetheless, there are details in their lifestyle that make a big difference I think.

Here they are:

  1. Soft exercise is one of them (you walk everywhere in Europe).
  2. Having longer meals and taking the time to enjoy, and have conversations at the dinner table.
    That also makes a difference (digestion takes more time, which helps).
  3. The portions are smaller.
  4. The food is more authentic and healthier as a general rule (less processed foods).
  5. Europeans eat more fiber (more veggies, more nuts, seeds, less empty calories).
  6. Pastries and sweets are usually enjoyed at the end of the meal.
  7. Less fast food.

All this makes a huge difference. It makes the difference.

Lorine, I’ll be surprised if your family gains weight during your trip to Italy. Please let me know when you get back. I bet you’ll be all fine. Enjoy your trip, live like an Italian (enjoy the small portion of pasta as an “appetizer,” walk everywhere, eat what the locals put in front of you, have a glass of red wine daily, chit chat with your hosts…), and don’t worry so much about gaining weight.

In my experience, when my US relatives visit my family in France, they actually lose weight! The food there is actually much more fiber oriented, with less empty calories and less sugar. And that is exactly what I promote in my book Eat More, Burn More.

Have a good trip and let me know if I’m right. 🙂

The Truth About Luck and Success

“I shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me. Or I can be lost in the maze. My choice. My responsibility. Win or lose; only I hold the key to my destiny.” – Og Mandino
 
 
The Truth About Luck and Success
 
By Craig Ballantyne
Luck has been in my corner since day one back in 1975.

I was extraordinarily lucky to be born in Canada into a lower-middle class family. Lucky enough to have been educated in the years of the first home computer, to have come of age with the first Internet generation, and to have stumbled across Internet Marketing before everyone and their uncle knew about it.

When I was a child I was also lucky enough to have an alcoholic, underachieving, embarrassing father who gave me the first chip on my shoulder, one that compelled me to work harder, achieve more, and go further so that I could escape his shadow.

I was also lucky my mother had dropped out of high school and spent the rest of her life working for barely more than the minimum wage, never earning more than $28,000 in a year (an amount that I’ve made in a single day on several occasions). I was lucky, because of her mistakes, that she would never let me make the same ones.

And boy was I lucky to have went to grade school with patches on my knees, for this caused me great embarrassment and instilled in me the drive to do better, to excel in school, to get into the best program in college, to make the Dean’s Honor List three years in a row, to get accepted into a Master’s program, and to study until 10 p.m. on weekends so I could earn a scholarship to help me pay for 6 years of post-secondary education — so that I’d never feel embarrassed like that again.

It’s as though I’ve had a horseshoe made out of rabbit’s feet around my neck for these past thirty years.

I’ve also been lucky to make friends with entrepreneurs like Bedros Keuilian, a real-life American Dream. Bedros was lucky to have been born in Armenia (then part of the Soviet Union) and to have a father that gambled his family’s safety by bribing their way out of the USSR so they could arrive virtually penniless in America (legally).

Bedros was also lucky enough to arrive in America in 1980 without being able to speak a lick of English. He was fortunate that his family was so poor that he had to dumpster-dive behind grocery stores for food.

Without this luck, Bedros wouldn’t have the burning desire that has allowed him to succeed and create a better life. He calls this The Immigrant Edge, and claims it to be his secret weapon for success.

“Craig,” he often says to me, “My kids will never have to spend an hour of their lives in daycare thanks to my luck.”

And I’m lucky enough to be friends with Matt Smith, another lucky young man from my generation who, like me, grew up with a disappointment of a dad and a mother that spent the little money she had to take care of her children.

Among Matt’s lucky childhood experiences was the night when his mother scraped together a few dollars for a special Friday dinner of take-out pizza. That night, the Smiths were lucky to have mistakenly left the pizza on top of the car as they drove away. The pizza fell off the car’s roof into the middle of a busy intersection — where car after car drove over it — and this was a lucky break for Matt.

Why?

Because the Smiths’ had no money to go and buy a replacement pizza. And so Matt will forever remember that night — and that feeling — as something he will never want to experience again. It’s just another lucky motivator in his drive to do better and succeed so that his children won’t have to experience that great fortune.

That kind of luck leaves a burning desire that NOTHING — certainly not a life of iPhones,  TV’s in every room of the house, unending after-school activities, or 24/7 Internet and cable TV access — could ever top.

My luck continues. I’m fortunate to know Isabel De Los Rios, one of the world’s most successful nutrition experts, who herself was lucky enough to spend almost a decade as an unhealthy, overweight, and unhappy young woman, so that she could truly understand the troubles that her millions of female clients go through.

Isabel was also lucky enough to be downright broke when she applied to my Mastermind Group in 2008, having to borrow the money from her fiancé. Her luck caused her to work harder than almost any other person I’ve ever coached. This has allowed her to pull herself up from financial distress and into a business where today she has over 1,000,000 customers that have been lucky enough to get Isabel’s help as they change their lives.

Finally, we’ve all been lucky enough to learn from Michael Masterson, our mentor that was lucky enough to grow up in a poor household of ten children. He was lucky enough to have so little that it drove him to become the entrepreneur and mentor that we all came to know through Early to Rise.

This is the luckiest group of individuals you might ever meet. We were lucky to have had the experiences we did because they taught us so much and drove us to great action. Without our setbacks, what would we have achieved? We have been part of the luckiest generations to have ever lived.

What about your luck? Have you lucked out and been fortunate to have gone through similar struggles? Have you been given the inspiration to work harder than ever, to explore new opportunities to take control of your future, and that drive you towards financial independence? Are you one of the fortunate ones that were not born with a silver spoon so that you could learn the importance of adding value to the world in exchange for a fair return? Have you been lucky enough to fail again and again?

Never forget that failure isn’t bad. Failure isn’t final. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving the success you deserve. If you’re struggling, keep hustling. Keep taking at least one big action step each day.

Failure is good luck. Just listen to these experts.

“Problems are in your life so that you can discover potentials that you didn’t even know you had.” – Barry Michels

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” – Zig Ziglar

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” – Napolean Hill

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

“Everybody in your situation has the same choice: you can rue your situation or you can dedicate yourself to changing it. Accept responsibility for your future. Refuse to complain, criticize, or condemn. If you want us to help you achieve your goals, then trust in and follow our advice. Stop doubting it. Stop denying it. Have faith.” – Mark Ford

I can only hope you’ve been as lucky as I have over the years. And the old saying is true, you know, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” So take that luck that you get and press it. Keep on pushing. It only gets easier from here.

 

Everyday Things You Can Do To Lower Your Cancer Risk HuffPost Live | By Rahel Gebreyes

This year, more than 1.5 million people are estimated to be diagnosed with cancer. Even more grim is the fact that half of cancer deaths stem from preventable causes. In recognition of World Cancer Day, which pushes positive and proactive approaches to fighting cancer, HuffPost Live took a look at the things that you can do to lower your risk.

While putting down the cigarettes is one aspect of cancer prevention, Dr. Margaret Cuomo told HuffPost Live on Tuesday that regulating one’s diet and exercise habits should be part of the equation. For starters, she recommended a plant-based diet.

“Look at your plate as a round circle … and divide it into two-thirds whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and a third lean protein. That could be poultry, it could be fish,” she said.

So what types of foods should you avoid?

“We discourage red meat because red meat is a risk factor for cancer — especially processed meat, but all red meat — so we want to minimize that,” Cuomo told host Nancy Redd. “The fewer processed foods you bring into your home and onto your plate, the better.”

Physical activity is also a healthy habit that may ward off cancer, Cuomo added, and it doesn’t have to be done at the gym.

“You can build exercise into your work day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator,” she said. “Walk a few more blocks if you take the bus or subway. If you drive, park a little farther away from your destination and walk.”

5 Step Plan for Making First 100 Sales

5 Step Plan for Making First 100 Sales
By Craig Ballantyne
Recently a young reader named Nate Miller asked me to outline the 5-steps for making his first 100 sales online. Here was my advice…

Q: There is so much to do and no one to be accountable to when trying to start an online business. How do you stay on top of everything when it seems so overwhelming. Also, I follow everything from you and Mark Ford. But how do you get a mentor when starting out and you don’t have the money to pay for them? – Nate

Answer:

Nate – Keep it simple. It need not be overwhelming.
Step #1 – Figure out the best product you can create that will solve people’s problems in the niche market you have chosen.
Step #2 – Figure out who has your customers (are they on a certain site, someone’s email list, or specific pages on Facebook?)
Step #3 – Start working your way in front of them.
Step #4 – Create a simple website with great copy that persuades your best customers to buy the product.
Step #5 – Once the site is up, put all of your effort into getting those best customers to your site. It could be writing articles, doing affiliate deals, or buying traffic (start with Google or FB – depending on what is the best way to get in front of them).
The end.
Make some money and then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
As for accountability, there are 7 billion people on the planet. There is no shortage of people to be accountable to. Find someone.

How to Get Ahead at Work

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” – Thomas A. Edison

How to Get Ahead at Work

By Cooper, The CEO

Do you want to get ahead in your organization?

In today’s essay, I’ll tell you how to become a superstar employee. I’ll start by sharing two stories with you about employees who recently displayed excellence in my business.

Last month we held a massive customer appreciation event. On the day of, a customer service agent working the event introduced himself to me. Within our company, he helps customers get started when they sign up to one of our premium products. For example, after someone subscribes to the product, he calls them to explain the product and to make sure they have everything they need to get started.

During our conversation at the event, he told me he had lots of ideas to improve the onboarding process for all of our customers.

He was dedicated to adding value above and beyond his job description. He was always thinking about how he could improve the part of our business he’s responsible for. That is a huge secret to getting ahead.

Here’s a guy who is thinking about how things should be done. He’s coming up with specific plans for improvement and working to execute on those plans, and that’s a big secret. Almost everyone has ideas, and some folks even have great ideas, but it’s the execution on your ideas that matters, whether you are an employee or a business owner.

His story gets better. At one time this employee used to commute 90 minutes each way for his customer service job. That alone shows incredible dedication and drive. It’s not surprising that this same guy is proactively thinking of ways to make our business better.

Here’s your first lesson on how to get ahead at work

You must always be thinking of, and executing on, ideas that can improve whatever it is you’re responsible for. Identify problems and outline how you would fix them. Pitch your ideas to supervisors (both what you want to do and any big ideas you have to improve the company). Always think of how you can create value and always show that you are willing to take action. That’s one way to get ahead…

The second way to get ahead is to do what is asked of you and do it well, especially when it comes to problem solving.

I believe the ability to do this (as simple as it sounds) is the single-best predictor of professional success.

If you solve one problem for your supervisor, they will give you another important issue to work on. If you’re successful with the second problem, you’ll get another. It’s a natural way to gain more responsibility in any organization. But it’s rare…

We recently had an issue with the display dates for certain publications in the member area of our website. We knew about this problem for weeks and I felt it was taking too long to resolve. I was frustrated. I asked someone in IT to troubleshoot the issue. One employee took it upon themselves to evaluate the problem, identify the cause, and organized a team to fix it. And he did all of this within just a few hours.

Again, it sounds simple, do your job and do it well. But while the concept sounds simple, it clearly isn’t. Otherwise everybody would always be doing it well and incidents like this would go unrecognized, rather than being an exception that I had to tell you about it.

It takes a special kind of person to grab hold of problems, quickly get to the crux of the issue, and stick with the problem until it reaches a clear resolution. That last part is the most difficult. Too many people give up too soon when it comes to problem-solving. If you’re willing to show even a modicum of persistence in your work tasks, I’ll bet you will get ahead at work.

And if you’re an especially great problem solver, you’ll find yourself moving up the ranks with unimaginable speed. Your supervisors will rely on you more and more, you’ll become integral to the organization and your authority will grow.  So will your compensation.

#1 Skill for Life at Any Age

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius
 
 
#1 Skill for Life at Any Age
 
By Craig Ballantyne
It was a little past four when I got out of bed on Sunday morning. The winter’s first snow was still coming down, and the streets and sidewalks were a blank canvas, waiting for early morning artists to leave their mark.

I slowly descended the stairs. My legs are a little stiffer in the morning hours. As I shuffled through the dark to the kitchen, the dog didn’t stir from his mat. He sleeps more deeply now that he’s older. We both hit milestone birthdays this year, 40 for me and 10 for him.

My nose was slightly stuffy from the previous night’s Christmas cheer, and I sniffled a few times while making my morning energy drink.

On a weekday, I would have opened my laptop and written one thousand words for a newsletter or my next book. But that was not my plan that morning. I had something more important to do.

Grabbing pen and paper, I went into the living room, sat in my comfy chair beside the fireplace, and went to work on the most important activity in life.

I started thinking.

The average man hates thinking. He’ll do anything to avoid it. It’s why most people go through life head down, immersed in their smart phones, streaming Netflix, tracking sports scores, and reading idle gossip “newspapers.” The search for external amusement knows no limits.

“Most people fear being without audiovisual stimulation,” Nassim Taleb writes in The Bed of Procrustes, “because they are too repetitive when they think.”

For the average person, thinking is punishment, and they look for the easy way out.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is,” said Henry Ford, “which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

But if you want to get ahead, you must think. You must set aside time to plot and scheme your way to freedom, like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. He did not sit idly by when opportunity raised its head. And neither can you. Thinking is the number one skill you can use to improve your life at any age.

Certainly action is important, but if you act without thinking, you can make things worse. Much worse. If you don’t think ahead and properly plan your course, you become the proverbial person in the deep hole that keeps digging.

After all, what is the first thing you scream at your child when they foul up?

“What were you thinking?!?”

Clear thinking, on the other hand, is the foundation of success.

“An hour of effective, precise, hard, disciplined – and integrated thinking can be worth a month of hard work,” states Kekich Cred0 #44

“Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work…while others party. If you’re not consciously aware of putting forth the effort to exert self-guided integrated thinking…if you don’t act beyond your feelings and instead take the path of least resistance, then you give in to laziness, make bad decisions and no longer control your life.”

Harsh, yet true. But even for those of us that recognize the power of thinking, few of us make the time.

There are no excuses. The beauty of thinking is that it’s best done outside of your regular work environment. The idea for my first million-dollar business came to me on an airplane. One of the side benefits of traveling as much as I do is the time spent alone with my thoughts in novel environments. This provides the right environment for breakthrough ideas.

Our brain operates differently – and more creatively – when we’re in nature, out walking the dog, and doing mindless tasks. That’s why you get flashes of insight in the shower, while washing the dishes, or when exercising.

To foster your ability to think, you need to follow the instructions in my Perfect Day Formula book and get up fifteen minutes early each day. That’s enough time to start making big changes in your life. Eventually you should get up even earlier, but this is good enough for now.

When you are the first out of bed, it’s just you and your thoughts. If you have prepared a plan the night before, you can set your mind to solving the number one problem in your life. You’ll eliminate the obstacles getting in the way of your success and happiness, or preventing you from making great progress on your big goals and dreams.

But if you insist on getting up late and rushing through the day reacting to busy work, you’ll end up with the average results of the average person in a world where average is rewarded less and less each day.

The Art of Thinking gets as much respect as hoarding gold. Both stand the test of time and have endured for centuries amongst wise men, yet its critics dismiss it as a barbarous, ancient relic.

“You don’t need to think, you just need the latest productivity app!” the cutting-edge folks say today.

Such claims cause me to roll my eyes, and shuffle off to a corner seat where I can sit and think, sans smartphone, happy to be the only dinosaur in the room using his own brain.

And so, on that recent Sunday morning, I settled in to do just that, armed with my high-tech thinking tools – pen and pad.

But what should you think about?

It doesn’t have to be about work. That’s just my personal preference.

You can use the quiet early hours of a weekend morning to think yourself out of any problem, from health issues to credit card debt.

Start by dumping out the contents of your brain. Free your mind and then connect the dots. Identify the opportunities. Make a plan to overcome the obstacles. And prepare the correct course of action that moves you towards success.

I like to think about the answers to five questions first taught to me by my mentor, Yanik Silver in his 18th Maverick Business Rule.

“Keep asking the right questions to come up with innovative solutions. “How?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “Who Else?” & “Why?” open up possibilities.”

And so that’s what I do, I sit there and think and scribble down my answers to these questions for my businesses, my health, and my personal relationships.

How can we attract more contributors and customers to the ETR world?

What can I do to help our ETR team members grow personally and professionally?

Where can I be today, this week, and this month to grow my network and meet interesting people?

Who else in my network can I connect with and help today?

Why should I keep doing certain activities in my business or daily routine?

Sometimes I’ll also do the 10 Big Ideas exercise that author James Altucher recommends. I scribble down 10 ways I can help a friend or a business partner. I might write down 10 big connections I want to make or 10 new products to create and books to write.

No editing is allowed. Just big, fast, wild thinking. It’s fun, useful, and puts a smile of optimism on my face. It sure beats spending the same amount of time worrying, gossiping, or reading the horrors on the front page of the New York Times.

And so that is how I start my Sundays.

There are reasons why we all love weekends. It means more family time, watching movies, and playing sports or taking hikes. We reward ourselves with bigger or better meals. We feel no guilt in enjoying an extra glass — or two or three — of wine.

But for me, it means more time for thinking, and more importantly, clearer, better thinking. Weekends mean fewer incoming emails, no meetings, and only friendly phone calls, so you don’t have any of those regular work stresses clouding your judgment. Weekends were built for free, clear, and integrated thinking.

Don’t throw away this opportunity. Embrace your chance to think. When done alone in a creative space you’ll find yourself experiencing the mental breakthroughs that you’ve struggled to find during your regular workweek. You’ll see new solutions to old problems and wonder, “Why didn’t I think of this before?”

After sixty minutes of thinking on that cold and dark Sunday morning, I was satisfied. My mind was emptied, my plans clearer, and my success foundation bigger and stronger than ever. But I wasn’t done yet. Now it was time for the dog and I to stretch our old legs, take a walk, and do more thinking while leaving our mark on nature’s snowy canvass.