Categories
I'm Just Sayin

Learning to Listen…

The Millionaire Mind

Learning to listen – it’s not something that comes naturally. Some people are better listeners than others, but most people that are really good listeners do it intentionally. I try to be a good listener, but I find myself wanting to interrupt often. I love to hear the sound of my own voice. I love being heard. We all do. It’s what makes being a good listener so special.

Yesterday I was in a training session for a new ministry project that I’m participating in. The speaker said to us, “Don’t be so quick to take mental notes or to think that you have the answer.” It was a simple statement, but so powerful. We often feel like we know what to say – especially if what we are going to say happened to work for us. We get this nugget of truth and then we can’t wait to share it with everyone as if it is some miracle cure. But that nugget of truth might not ring so true for someone else. Being quick to answer often only comes across as rejection and if you aren’t a good listener – people will stop sharing what’s important with you.

My mentor has me reading a book right now called, “The Millionaire Mind.” It’s brilliant, but not in it’s information about money earning, but in the advice it gives on how to deal with people. “Me-Me-Me is Dull, Dull, Dull” – this was a line from the book and it is something I now remind myself often. When I’m with other people I want to always make it more about them and less about myself. This is a learned skill. It is not easy especially if the other person has also learned the importance of not focusing on themselves. But this is where great communication comes in. There is an amazing give and take and you ask questions and you allow the other person to fully answer and even better, you pause when they are done talking just in case they have more to say.

Categories
I'm Just Sayin

Don’t be THAT girl…

When I DJ, I’m always trying to please a room full of people – it’s quite a feat I tell ya. You’ve got kids asking to hear Justin Bieber and grandparents requesting Ella Fitzgerald all the while the bride has told you not to play any country or anything by Beyonce or the Black Eyed Peas or U2…

So I am like the Wizard of Oz sitting behind my DJ booth literally making magic happen for two, three and sometimes even six hours straight and I always seem to get one girl that thinks she is the DJ and that she really knows what is best. “Play some Kendrick Lamar” she says… “Kendrick Lamar?” It’s not a name I know, I’ve heard it in passing, but it’s not something that is ever requested and definitely not something that everyone is going to know. “Will everyone dance to Kendrick Lamar?” I say in response slowly transferring the responsibility to their shoulders. “Yes, everyone will LOVE IT! It’s going to be so great!!”

I’ve heard this line now probably 100 times. There is always that person that thinks they have their finger on the pulse of society. They think that their personal playlist is what everyone is grooving too and they are oblivious to the fact that I get PAID 100’s of dollars per hour because I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. I’ve DJ’d so many parties and worked so many crowds that I actually do know how to read people. I give you what you want before you even know that you want it. You will find yourself swaying your butt to my beats even when you didn’t think that was going to happen. I go slow when you want fast because I know that you can only handle so much fast. I speed it back up right when you are hungry for speed and I keep the party ebbing and flowing all night like a well choreographed dance routine.

“This song is a sleeper!” Another girl whines as she huffs by the DJ booth. C+C Music Factory is blasting from my Bose speakers and the crowd behind her is singing every word and dancing away and LOVING it. She grabs her friend and storms off in a tizzy as if my song choice is a personal insult to her. Yes, the song was before her time, but the rest of us can only handle so much Ke$ha, Bieber and Britney.

“Can I sing a song?” This time the lady is thin and attractive and I’ve got a good feeling about it so I say, “Sure.” She does a great job singing a song and the crowd really loves it. I think that she is happy, the crowd is happy, she got her 5 minutes of fame… but that is never enough. Being in the spotlight is very addictive. Once you get a little taste you can’t help but want more. “Can I sing another song? Please?” I’m not sure why a person’s tone goes to begging so quickly, but it does when someone is desperate. It’s like they are feening for another hit of crack. “Okay, I’ll let you do another one.”  Eventually I have to cut them off. They start thinking that the reception is their personal time to shine and suddenly it is about them and their vocal talents, not the bride and groom or the rest of the crowd.

Lastly, there is that girl that not only wants to have you play their requests all night, but she brings in her iPod and insists that you play her song that is going to be a hit. “What, you don’t have it? No problem, can’t you just plug in my iPhone/iPod/Shuffle/Android/Walkman?” Ugh. It’s not enough that I’m juggling singers and lighting and dancing on the dance floor myself but now you want to plug in your device and integrate it seamlessly into everything else that I’m doing. Okay. I can do this… and I do, and normally the song is an EPIC FAIL. My assistant will often say, “Cut it” people will even come over to the booth and say, “can you change the song” but no, I force them to endure the lameness that way, the person that requested that I play the song knows that they are responsible for clearing the dance floor. I want them to go away hanging their head in shame so that they NEVER request another song again, or, at least not one that is on their playlist because if I don’t have it, it’s probably not a hit.

And ladies, I’m sorry to pick on you cause I do love you… but, it does always seem to be a gal that storms off in a fit if she doesn’t like what I play. It’s always a woman who gets drunk and causes a big scene dropping glasses of wine on the dance floor and it’s almost always a lady that gropes me inappropriately or flashes me in hopes that I will play their song or let them sing on the mic. Really, it doesn’t take all of that, it just takes being nice and flashing a smile…

Categories
Business Reviews Culture I'm Just Sayin

Don’t give me a turd in a box and tell me it’s chocolate…

It happened AGAIN. I was bamboozled for the 7th time and while the scenarios are all slightly different, the approach was the same.

It starts out with a friend or an acquaintance something like this…

“Hey Eddie, I haven’t seen you in a while, how is your business going?”

“It’s going great, it’s really thriving. God has been good to me.”

“Awesome. You want to grab coffee and catch up?”

Me, being the social person I am is always quick to agree to coffee and conversation.

“I’d love that.”

We then setup a time and meet and sometimes we come around to the real reason why they wanted to meet in the first meeting, but sometimes they wait until the second meeting, or even the third.

The first time this happened I was probably 18. The product was Excel Communications phone service. It was like any other direct marketing scheme where you sign up, IT’s A GREAT DEAL! and you sign up all your friends and then they sign up their friends and EVERYONE GETS RICH! You CANNOT Lose. YOU’D BE AN IDIOT not to sign up now!!!

The offers always sound great and you have to get in RIGHT NOW because it is growing like wildfire.

The second scheme I was hoodwinked into was Advocare. It was the same spiel. Lots of money. Products flying off the shelves. Groundbreaking. The adjectives were always superlative, there were always amazing studies to back up their claims and if that’s not enough there is always an article on CNN, Forbes, MSNBC or some other highly accredited news team that is backing up their product. I have since determined that each of these sources somehow is getting a cut of the money and so they’ll basically plug you or put you on the cover of their mag as long as they get a kickback.

The third product was Stream Energy and then of all things, me, a man, I was suckered and lured by the siren song of the pretty gals at Mary Kay. Yes. I said MARY KAY. These women fawned all over me at the first meeting saying things like “You’ll be great” “Wonderful Personality!” “Instant Sales” “Money in the Bank!!!” Flattery is indeed my greatest weakness and I succumbed to their wooing. $1000 dollars down the drain and lots of shame later… I finally walked away from Mary Kay.

In each of the aforementioned scenarios the person who invited me was a trusted friend and often the pretense was, “This will help YOUR business” or “Your business can help me in MY business!” – Which I misunderstood as a need for a new Web Design or DJ services or maybe even both.

Then if all of those schemes weren’t lesson enough, THREE TIMES I was invited to dinner, had my dinner paid for and then was pretty much sold Life Insurance Policies after a few meetings that were touted as “Financial Planning”. Ugh. SUCH LIES!  The truth was these people needed my business and my contacts. Life Insurance is a need and great for many people with families, but as a single man it is a poor investment – especially, and this is something they don’t tell you, your first couple years of paying on those policies the money all goes to PREMIUMS which means if you cancel your policy after two years you get NOTHING. Zilch. I was literally under the impression that my money was going into a savings account that was growing interest at a higher rate and that while canceling my policy would come with a penalty, I had no idea it meant that penalty would mean I would not even get PENNIES from that investment – nor could I transfer that policy to a new and better policy. Basically I was STUCK. After two years of paying $150 a month I canceled my policy and lost $3600.

So yesterday I met with a gal for lunch and while I sensed some warning flags because she was so persistent, I really thought that she was going to be LEGIT – too legit to quit even. But alas, I was BAMBOOZLED AGAIN. Someone shake me, wake me from this bad dream!!

I get to lunch and her “Friend Janet is going to join us!” – I’m still an idiot thinking that she is really just bringing a friend along and it is 3 people getting to know each other for mutual business networking. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. Janet literally came equipped with a 118 page Power Point slide. Did you miss that number ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN PAGES. CHRISTMAS ON A CRACKER!!!!!

So I had my entire afternoon disrupted – which when you are self-employed means LOSS OF INCOME – because I literally always have work to do that makes me money – and it was MISERABlE. This lady literally started talking and didn’t stop for an HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES. Inside I was hating life and hating myself for once again getting stuck in this situation. While here Janet thought that she was DOING ME A FAVOR! In reality I’d rather have been WATERBOARDED than to sit through lunch and have someone sell me some direct marketing Travel Business plan where if I “JUST SIGN UP 10 FRIENDS” and then it pretty much takes on a life of it’s own – type of product. The ONLY positive from this meeting was my lunch was delicious even if I didn’t really get to enjoy it, and at the end of the presentation there was a slide that had a little bit of honesty on it and it pretty much said that if you don’t work hard at it, then you won’t make any money.

So my message to all my friends who sell these types of products is this:

  1. People are WEARY/LEARY/SICKANDTIRED of being sucked in by some scheme where they have to sell all their friends in order to make the plan work.
  2. Is it really so hard to be up front with someone and TELL THEM what you are selling?
  3. Don’t invite someone to lunch or coffee to hang out and then BLINDSIDE them with a product – RUDE.
  4. Stop making false promises.

Truth – Direct Marketing works – if you work really hard and pretty much sell out to it. That means possibly losing all your friends and eventually making this job that is supposedly just side income – a 20-40 hour a week job. Any time you work 20-40 hours a week at something and really work it correctly, it is most likely going to succeed – it just takes time. But the same can be said for any business. You don’t start bringing in mad amounts of clients when you first start a business. iPods weren’t flying off the shelf when they were first launched, but over time a business will pick up traction and it will become less of a hassle finding new clients – especially if your product really is great. So why don’t these direct marketers just come out and say that? Do they really just enjoy spending hours signing up people only to have them drop out 6 months down the road?

In all of these scenarios I was asked “Do you have some friends that you can tell about this product or tell their names so I can sign them up?” – and normally this happened BEFORE I had a chance to try out the product. Word of Mouth sales work best when someone has had a GOOD EXPERIENCE and they genuinely boast about the service or product they received, not because they are trying to twist someone’s arm into trying something.

So there’s my rant for the week. My intention isn’t to hurt anyone with this post but to educate. I’ve lost good friends because of their attempts to sell me on something and eventually I felt like they cared more about their own product/service/cash intake than they cared about me and what kind of client relationship is that?

If you are up front with people then I think that goes a long way. If each of these people had straight up asked me “Do you want this?” I probably would have told them I wasn’t interested, but, if they had given me an outline of the facts, the amount of work involved, and the realistic return of the investment for me to review BEFORE I met with them, then I would have felt like I had an opportunity to really think through the product/service and then if I had questions or more interest then I could meet with them for coffee. This is something I could appreciate and respect.

So there it is. Be warned. I don’t want to park you out on front street for being a bad business person… but park you I will if it comes to that.

 

Categories
I'm Just Sayin

I’ve Never Been So Busy

When you do web design for a living you start to realize that it is ALWAYS feast or famine. There never seems to be a comfortable steady stream of work. Projects fly in all at once and before long you have this list of “To-Do’s” that is almost crippling. The problem is that you are afraid to say “No” to any project that has a dollar amount affixed to it because you don’t know when projects will just suddenly stop coming in – which does happen, if only momentarily.

After 3 years of being self-employed I’ve started to get used to this roller coaster but I’d like to get into a rhythm where I learn to ride the coaster and it becomes a joy instead of a nightmare.

Right now I’m working on 3 websites, one that has a logo project attached to it. Two PowerPoint projects. A mega tour launch for one client which requires a boat load of graphics and a plethora of new page designs. In total I have booked around 250 hours of work this month. But, around 50 hours of that will be unpaid hours going to and from clients offices, phone calls to take initial requests for projects and back and forth emails from prospective clients as well as day-to-day maintenance of running two businesses. Booking clients for DJ events and making out invoices and doing taxes.

Being self-employed is not easy – but I’m really not complaining. I don’t have to set an alarm in the mornings. I get to set my own hours – which translates to me working all the time – and I don’t have a boss, I have clients and that is much different than having a boss – even though I always had great bosses when I worked in the corporate world.

Anywho, I better get back to work, I just thought I’d make a quick post while waiting for some files to upload.

Cheers!

Categories
Diet I'm Just Sayin

Let’s Get Paleo…

A couple friends of mine and I started a 30 day Paleo Diet Challenge on January 2nd. The diet will run through the 31st of this month and requires you to give up processed food and caffeine. So what can you eat? Most fruit, but they say eat mostly berries. Lean Meats, so no bacon or pork products – and nuts. So that leaves you with no bread, no dairy, and no sweets. Today is day 6 of this diet and I don’t feel any lighter. I sleep really well at night, but I can’t see any weight loss – which I think is why it’s so hard to spot weight gain!

My friend Jes asked me to post my daily menu which has proved harder than I expected cause I’ve been so busy, but, my days consist mostly of this:

Breakfast:

3-4 Eggs scrambled with onions
Snack – Cashews and Pineapple

Lunch:

Grilled chicken breast
Avocado
Mixed veggies – squash and zucchini

Dinner:

Fajita meat, brisket or some type of beef. I love beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
Vegetables – broccoli and cauliflower

I have not been weighing every day. In the past I have found that to be detrimental. If I see no progress I get very discouraged instead of just digging in and realizing that it is going to take time. I plan to weigh once a week and be happy with whatever weight loss I have. Loss is loss.

What do I miss most? McAlister’s Sweet Tea. I used to drink 4-5 glasses a week. I would order it half sweet half unsweet and I plan to get some on Superbowl Sunday. That will be my first “cheat” day after this 30 day challenge is up.

But… this “diet” is supposed to become a lifestyle. I’m still trying to mentally wrap my head around never having dairy or sugar or bread or anything artificial again for the rest of my life, but maybe I can cut those things back to like 10% of what I used to eat. So the occasional half-and-half and cup of coffee instead of 2-3 cups every morning. I’ve spent 36 years learning how to eat poorly, it’s going to take some time for me to figure out how to enjoy eating like this. Variety is the spice of life and right now mine is lacking variety for sure – but part of that has been because I have been really watching my carb intake as well. The fruits that I have eaten have been in moderation just so that I don’t get too many carbs and I burn the fat a little faster.

For now, wish me luck, I need to get below 300 pounds this year. It’s been too long that I’ve put this off… too, too long.