Is Greed Good? | A Look at Business Vision and Profit

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

As our friend Gordon Gekko once pointed out, “Greed is good.” It is the oil that keeps the economic machine running, the grease that lubricates our free market, and the sludge that is produced from our toxic waste sites. I contend to you, how good is greed?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF_iorX_MAw

Our free market economic system relies on one very simple premise: supply vs. demand. Without demand, there would be no reason for supply. Without supply, demand would rise so high that even reasonable adults would transform into raving lunatics running on pure bloodlust for the next Tickle-Me-Elmo. Welcome to the holidays.

“After Target decreed that Black Friday would start at midnight Thanksgiving night and that employees must report to work at 11 p.m., an Omaha worker, Anthony Hardwick, posted a petition at Change.org asking the company to move the official start of Christmas shopping back to 5 a.m. Friday. Response from workers and others has been stellar: 192,000 signatures by Monday.” CNN.com

Each year we have watched these stores open earlier and earlier, tempting shoppers with great deals at horrible hours. It’s simple (and good business): this time of year there is an inherent rise in demand for the holidays. Because of that rise in demand, supply becomes in danger. Small stores cannot keep supply on the shelves and the wholesale market caters to those who can continue to keep demand on the rise. Big-box stores such as Target and Walmart have the infrastructure to handle holiday demand, keeping a relatively decent supply of products on their shelves for the shoppers. Obviously they want to sell more than other stores, so they compete with each other; if Target opens at 4am, Best Buy will open at 3.

The people that stand to be hurt are the employees, all of whom have significant gripes against their big-box employer (see americanrightsatwork.org to see examples of offenses). Not only do people have to be there during open hours, but stocking, delivery, preparation and clean-up work are needed also. Can you imagine shopping in a Target ravished by holiday shoppers with no clean-up? Not fun. Truth be told, though, in this instance, the stores are only responding to the public. If no one shows up to go shopping at 2am, do you think Target would remain open at that hour? No.

Thus, the question remains. Who is to blame? Is it the big-box stores? Is it ourselves? Is it a flawed economic system? Is it Cap’n Crunch’s? Gordon Gekko was right. Greed IS good – at least to a point. Greed is the emotion that pushes us to be the best doctors, inventors, teachers, producers, etc… in a free market economy. This is based on the simple principle of competition. I want a better life and to reach it must do better than others. Good business coaching focuses on this – VISION. This can be a good thing, because in order to reach that, we need the help and cooperation of other people. Thus, the “if you profit, then I can profit” ideal was born. As communal greed grows, life grows. It builds cities, national parks and green energy.

This philosophy fails when restraint dies, giving us no control over our material desires. Greed without restraint pushes us to dangerous ends that destroy others and search for our good at the cost of others as opposed to the good of all. It is this mentality that leads to corruption and is the cause of many of the symptoms our economy currently faces. When we look to help ourselves with the point of doing it at someone else’s expense, we cross the line. That greed does not rebuild our economy.

Maybe the best lesson this holiday season is a classic proverb that can help us look at things from a different approach. “It is better to give than to receive.” If we all give, then we all will receive; if you profit, then I can profit. After all, I would want my children to receive the best education possible so they have the opportunity to reach their potential. If I keep cutting the wages of our teachers, then I am not promoting good greed that grows a community (and my children’s future), I am just being selfish.

Selfishness is not vision. Vision for a better life for yourself and others is a great thing and the ultimate description of profit.

Gotta Love the Quick Fix | Business Problems and Easy Solutions

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

I vaguely remember an old movie starring Michael J. Fox and James Woods entitled “The Hard Way”. I couldn’t tell you what it was about or even why I saw it, other than I assume it has something to do with doing something in a more difficult fashion. I certainly prefer doing things the easy way, and that is one of the main reasons why I love duct tape.

“Iowa Chrome”, as many call it is a tape that can hold virtually anything together. Originally designed for duct work, its main purpose was to hold the metal ducts together against heat and sometimes even water. For a roll of tape, that’s pretty impressive! The mid-nineties witnessed the rise of duct tape pop-culture, a fashion statement that included designer duct tape suits. I once made a wallet out of the beloved material, though I regrettably never used it. It is just so simple – one roll of tape that can fix basically anything – who wouldn’t want to use it for everything?

Most people did. It became such a popular household tool, that sales have consistently risen over the years, and, according to a recent article about a spike in sales due to Hurricane Irene, proves that Americans will pretty much use duct tape for anything. Why?

According to Florence and the Machine, duct tape is simply the quick and easy solution to life’s problems, and causes situations when not readily available. “I got in a lot of trouble from my stepfather for using his duct tape, to tape up my school skirt. So the inside of my skirt was done up with electrical tape. I always find in daily life, it’s like, don’t you kind of make your own uniforms in a sense. It’s really weird.” Duct tape is simply the quick and easy solution to your fix-it needs. This is why Iowans use it so much.

What does this tell us about life? It tells us that we are all about finding the quick and easy fix to our problems. It’s been often said that necessity is the mother of invention and, since the industrial revolution, America has prided itself on its ability to figure out faster, easier solutions to problems. While Eli Whitney was brilliant in figuring out ways to make plantation life easier, the impacting result today is unquenchable desire for the next get rich quick scheme.

Hard work is considered a bad word in many parts of our culture. Even during the recession struggles of the past few years, I personally have witnessed multiple people choose laziness. This shows itself in the business world as well. While I am in no way saying that multi-level marketing is, in and of itself, a scam, it is often marketed as an easy way to get rich quick. “Discover the Hefty New Online Revenue Source To Get Rich And Generate At Least $31,650 Every Month On Complete Autopilot! Now You Can Learn The Step-By-Step Methods This 21-Year Old College Dropout Used To Make Money Fast And Generate His First $1,000,000! The Secret Is Now Revealed To Public” (http://21butrich.com/ – please do not visit this site, used only for “journalistic integrity”).

The truth is getting rich quick doesn’t work. “In an October 15, 2010 [USA Today] article, it was stated that documents of a MLM called Fortune reveal that 30 percent of its representatives make no money and that 54 percent of the remaining 70 percent only make $93 a month”.

Success and financial independence can certainly be earned, but it takes time and hard work. Whether or not you have decided to go the multi-level marketing route, it still takes work – lots of it. There are plenty of people out there helping others reach their vision, business coaches (Yay for shameless plugs!) being a good place to start. However, regardless of how many people you have helping you, there is no way to avoid hard work. If you want to strike it rich, my suggestion is to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and invent something better than duct tape. Or at least make a bad movie with an aging movie star.

What is Wrong with the World Today? | The Four Reasons People Do Anything

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

It seems that the issues we deal with are so ever-present and ever-encompassing that no one has any time for things that don’t require tissues. But what are the issues? What is it that keeps everyone paying “the man”? The video below is a beautiful look into those issues and brings up some interesting points from a business perspective.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4g8TF1uYa50

In the world of business coaching, we often deal with issues that different business owners and professionals face, and many of those issues can easily boil down to areas of motivation. Why do people act? Why do people buy? Why do people participate in reality TV? The topic of motivation can answer many questions along this line. Understanding why people change can make a drastic difference in the sales meeting, board room, and international sweat shop. After all (as the video points out), why does the price of sneakers keep rising when production keeps their overhead so low?

Here it is: no one will ever make a change of any kind until the pain of changing becomes LESS than the pain of staying the same. At the base of every decision, there is an underlying reason. No one will go to the effort of picking up a glass of water until the thirst for that water becomes greater than the effort it would take to pick up that glass. No one will buy a $1000 pain relieving pill unless the pain they were feeling was greater than the pain of spending that $1000.

Listed below are the four main reasons that people change—do anything. They are general but powerful, and can revolutionize the way you talk with people and motivate someone to listen to what you have to say.

The 4 Reasons People Change

1. Pleasure in the Future | You’ve been saving up for years to buy a cruise and it’s only six months away. You cannot wait and are totally excited, to the point that time crawls slower than Congress’ ability to get anything done. While waiting, you come across a sale for the super-powered computer of your dreams, and with your cash, you can have it today! Which one do you choose?

2. Pleasure in the Present | That computer is awesome. It actually has real intelligence and can do more than just follow programs. It’s going to take every penny that you have saved (and considering it was made by SkyNet you are slightly worried), but it’s worth it! That is until you consider the fact that you already have a computer, and though it’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, you force yourself to debate the necessity. Does your money go to the early edition Terminator, or do you hold onto the cash knowing that your 1987 jalopy probably only has a few more years left?

3. Pain in the Future | An old Jalopy is an ugly nemesis, and as any good financial steward, you sacrifice the computer so you can be prepared to replace “Clancy” (the name you gave your car after having too many White Castle burgers one late night). Thus, you’ve decided to put that money back in the bank, so it will be available when it’s needed. Satisfied with your financial willpower, you decide to do a dance in your living room while listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After all, that group is the reason for your super long hair. Turning the music up loud enough to head bang properly, you forget about the screeches that come from Flea. When they hit, your living room windows literally jumped outside and ran away. Since you’d rather not air condition the entire neighborhood, do you use the money to replace your busted windows, or hold on to it for the car at some point down the road?

4. Pain in the Present | Coming to terms with your ability get more money later, you go ahead and fix the windows. After an exhausting afternoon watching the handyman replace the windows, you decide two things: 1) it’s time to cut your hair, and 2) you are really thirsty. Even though you would need to run to the grocery store, your senses can already feel the fresh, cold fizz of a tasty Coke. Do you take your leftover pennies and splurge on that Coke, or do you risk one last head bang?

We are faced with choices every day, and those decisions are affected by the above motivations.  Test time: who will be the first person to comment on this post with the answer to this question – what is the most important reason for changing and why does that reason trump the other three? Keep it funky, my friends!

E-mail Responses and the Perceptions they Hold; Especially in Istanbul

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

There are times in one’s life when decisions just have to be made. What decisions, you ask? Life. Altering. Decisions. These are the decisions that change the course of your life – the ones that once are made, will forever change your direction and ultimate success.

One-ply or two-ply? Margarine or butter? Boxers or briefs? Ok, these are all very important decisions that need to be made, especially the two-ply issue, though I couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose one-ply; that’s just crazy. What I am talking about is deeper than that, one that affects the very core of your existence and the perception of everyone you meet. Inside the world of business, it becomes crucial. What type of email responder are you?

This is a bigger issue than when Constantinople changed their name to Istanbul! Which, since we’re on the topic of Istanbul, is why you should never make a business decision based on a pretty girl; it’s just not thinking clearly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IqJXxHi6RwQ

Anyway, the matter of your response (and response TIME) is hugely important in the business world. Who do you want to show yourself to be? Listed below are a few potential options for response times and the perceptions they hold:

1. Immediate | How needy do you want to look? If you’ve been invited out for coffee after a networking event and you jump in the car before they tell you where to meet, you might find yourself in for some disappointment. The issue of time is one to be respected, and if people know they can grab you whenever they want, they will never be around when you want.

2. Within 24 Hours | Short-term responses can be incredibly powerful. Once you have given enough time to process and understand the request, a timely response goes a long in way showing that you respect their time, which in turn should grant you the same favor. People in the business world will already assume you are busy, so getting back to them quickly will show you care about their time as well.

3. Within 24 Weeks | This strategy can be very helpful, especially when working in post-apocalyptic times. Since zombies have already established themselves as the ruling class, it is to be expected that one can go weeks without an internet connection. In fact, if it’s been a while since zombies took over, 24 months can be considered a very timely response.

4. Invisible Responses | Originally created and popularized by The Acme Corporation in the late 1920s, invisible emails were all the rage. You could write whatever you wanted and no would ever see it because they couldn’t see it! The problem was that the un-invisibility potion was not created for another seventy years, thus rendering the ability to communicate impossible. Simply put, if you don’t reply, you lose all ability to communicate.

How and when you respond to a person goes a LONG way in the ability you will have to influence, befriend, or sell to that person. Take the opportunity to consider their needs before replacing the statue you took from them with an obviously worthless replica. If you respect the time and effort they put into communicating to you by doing the same, they will notice.

Business Networking 101 | Why High School Games Never End

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

Everyone has had the dream at some point. You know what I’m referring to…the original nightmare. You slowly awake to the annoying sound of your alarm clock squawking at you like a chicken only to realize that this was the eighth time you’ve hit the snooze button and have already missed the bus for school. Hurrying as fast as possible, you skip breakfast, managing only to swallow the toothpaste as you crazily brush your teeth, forgo even talking to your parents in an effort to save thirty seconds, then hightail it to school running as fast as you can. Your heart racing, you make it as the bell rings and everyone is pouring out of homeroom, heading off to first period. That’s when you notice that something is different – something that is, for the first time, causing people at the school to notice your existence. But it’s not what you hoped – it’s far worse. You’re naked.

That’s when the real alarm clock goes off and you make sure to get dressed FIRST before even getting out of bed just to make sure that this day goes by just like every other day; with no one noticing. Regardless of your adolescent social status, everyone in high school wanted to blend in, mainly because everyone was dealing with the horror of adolescence itself. If you stuck out from the crowd, you were noticed, which, in our fantasies was a great thing, but the risk that your flaws would be broadcast was too strong; therefore, you chose to blend in, despite the true desire burning a hole in your heart.

We all long for acceptance – in high school it was called popularity. If we were popular, we would be in charge, get invited to all the parties, and soak in the warmth and love you would receive if everyone liked you. The problem was that you could not reach popularity without working your way through the gauntlet of judgment. All the eyes were on you, and many of them looking for ways to bring you down. You had to have the right friends, the right clothes, the right car, the right…everything. The basis for judgment was purely external, and that exterior expectation meant that there were only a few who could afford the trip to the top. I was certainly NOT one of the “lucky” few.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yksOJ29LZvk

The mercy of it all is that high school is temporary (unless you are Drew Barrymore). We all grow up, and even the gearheads learn that there is more to life than what is on the outside. You don’t have to be the craziest or wear the trendiest outfit to be accepted as an adult. The rules, thankfully, have changed – at least in some circles (GQ probably won’t repost this article, and I suspect neither would US Weekly).

Business networking works eerily similar to high school popularity. The most well-known, or the most popular, often achieve the highest levels of success, because in this world, as we all know, it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. That’s why networking is ultimately just like the high school game, but with one major difference. The judgments have changed. While there certainly are a few people who still live by the old rules, you will learn very quickly that they don’t generally succeed in the business world (that’s why you usually run into them at used car lots). Instead of your acceptance in the group being based on outward appearance, you are judged by internal worth.

Your ability to be friendly to people, your willingness to give before receiving, and your efforts in helping other people be successful (and to some extent, decent personal hygiene) are the benchmarks by which you are now judged in the networking world. Can you be my friend regardless of whether or not I buy from you? Can you earnestly seek to help a fellow networker with a referral? Will you try to develop a personal friendship before pushing for business?

Simply put, if you become popular in the world of networking, you can very easily write your ticket for future success, but it won’t happen because of your Armani suit or your stage dancing ability. As Martin Luther King Jr. once dreamed, you will be judged on the content of your character. If you expect to succeed, you better live up to it.

Pro/Vision Coaching VP Phil Stalnaker Relocating to Seattle for Academy Launch

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

OMAHA, NE, 6/1/2011 – Pro/Vision Coaching is making a major push forward in its company growth by expanding its services in the Seattle Metro area. Starting June 1, Phil Stalnaker will not only lead the marketing efforts, but utilize his coaching certification to facilitate the launch of the Pro/Vision Academy.

In addition to our regular one-on-one business coaching programs, Pro/Vision Coaching is launching a business academy in the Seattle Metro, based on the needs of the business owners in that area. The Academy offers programs ranging from support groups and book clubs, business courses, workshops, and even mastermind groups for like-minded owners and their key employees.  “The Pro/Vision Academy is an unprecedented change to the business coaching industry, and with its launch in Seattle, we need to make sure it is properly staffed and equipped.” commented Doug Christy, Pro/Vision Coaching’s co-owner. Working with Phil on the Academy is Paul Hajek, a successful life-long entrepreneur and business coach since 2005.

“This is the adventurous part of my corporate responsibility, helping institute the Pro/Vision Coaching model to the geographic locations within the Christy’s vision.” said Phil Stalnaker. Honing in on a way to develop business owners into successful entrepreneurs even before they start their first business is a key stabilizer to a shaky market economy. With the Academy, Pro/Vision will now be able to work with people in all stages of business ownership, leading to better returns and ultimately better business for all.

Dangerous Distractions | Small Business Owners and Technology

Originally posted at Pro/Vision Coaching.

Since we are a firm of business coaches, I feel a burden of responsibility to warn you all of potential threats to your business. Our goal is to ensure the longevity and success of each small business owner with whom we work, and because of that, there is a vital news item that I must warn you about.

I have become convinced recently that the game Connect 4® is evil. You may think I have completely jumped off the cliffs of reality here, but do you know how many grams of carbohydrates are in each piece of that game? Ok, seriously, it is evil, and not just for the carb content. The effects of that game pull itself out of the fun and light-hearted past and into the scary present of the adult world in which we live and work. Take the story below about a guy named Rod Jones-Swatrzburg from West Spencer, Virginia, as published in the Secret Adult Gamer’s Monthly Circular.

“The online app version of Connect 4®, known to smartphone users as link4® has become quite a crazed sensation. With the ability to play games against live opponents any time of the day or night, countless people have succumbed to its temptations. At the center of our story is former business owner Rod Jones-Swartzburg. He started a fly-fishing business five years ago, specializing in fancy lures. His business was surviving, despite his self-admitted ability to market, and he was even getting close to being ready to hire his first employee. That is, until he downloaded the link4® app on his phone. Though the games only last a minute or so, he found himself losing hours at a time on his device. Hours turned into days; days turned into weeks; and unbreakable habits formed. Before long, no more lures were being made, supplies dwindled, and his store closed down. When interviewed next to the cardboard box he currently calls home, his only reply was, ‘May I borrow your phone for a minute?’”

This is obviously a tragic story of senseless over-obsession is a smart phone, but the temptation is real. The scariest part is that game is known as a “gateway game”. In other words, people that participate in the link4® world very easily find themselves deeper than they ever imagined, some even going all the way to the World of Warcraft® stage. According to a local gaming-health expert, “If a person walks through the online gaming door, it is rare that they are able to go back. There is a reason why the gaming community is growing exponentially (and gets used), while gym memberships grow exponentially, but never actually get used.”

Time is a precious thing, and it’s only worth spending in the right ways. It’s not renewable (such as money, carpet stains, and Charlie Sheen’s temper tantrums) and therefore must be treated with respect. Guard yourself, keep a constant watch on your profits, and never turn down a free apple pie. For these are where the rewards come.

That’s interesting, I just got a notification on my phone that someone wants to play a game…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Oyfvj5rkteE