I find some hugs annoying and intimidating

awkward-hugDidja hear about the Walmart employee in Missouri?

Seems that after working for the chain 20 years, they fired his ass. And it’s got a lot of people all hot and bothered.

You see, this guy Frank, left disabled from a childhood accident many years ago, has had a life goal to “make other people feel good about themselves and to bring a smile to their face.”

So one of the reasons Frank got fired was that he’d hug customers.

“I was asking the ladies if I could give them hugs before I hugged them,” Frank says. “They said yes.”

Walmart management warned Frank about hugging customers. They didn’t like it. He did it anyway, insisting that he was respectful of people’s personal space and always asked permission first.

Walmart canned him.

OK, I’m sympathetic to Frank’s well-meaning intentions. But fact is, if a Walmart employee asked me for a hug everytime I went into the store, I’d quit shopping at that Walmart.

That’s just me. I’d find the persistent requests for hugs annoying and even intimidating. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d be creeped out.

Frank made a choice. He decided to act against the wishes of his bosses. And he was fired.

That’s what can happen when you work for other people.

Now, if you run your own business, you can hug all the people you want (at the risk of scaring away customers, of course).

Maybe “free hugs” is even the way you brand your business.

It’s better to work for yourself, huh?

How to affect the outcome of this election

GettyImages-151397786-article-headerSomebody just asked me what I think of the political conventions and the upcoming presidential election.

So I know for a fact that they’re not a Facebook “friend.” I smack those folks in the mug with my anti-political rants every other day.

So at the risk of pissing off a few people (or a LOT of people, as the case may be), here’s my take on the upcoming election…

Despite both Left and Right, and Republicans and Democrats and Libertarians and Greens, telling you this election year is “the most important, life-changing moment in U.S. history,” it ain’t.

Sorry.

Come the morning of November 8 (or late next January, the start of the next presidential term), I think you’ll find that things will be pretty much status quo.

Taxes will still be high.

Government agents will still be threatening your liberties.

Airline security will still be a bitch.

The world will still be on the brink of war.

And whether your candidate wins or not, you’ll still be pissed off in the long haul.

Rather than expend your energy on things you can’t control — like this election — the best thing you can do right now is focus on what you CAN control…

Growing your business by providing superior value to others.

Shift your focus off the political rhetoric (cuz that’s all it is, friend, meaningless rhetoric that’ll be forgotten after the election).

Go help some people.

Do business.

Get successful, in spite of the bastards.

Get your hands off my aebleskivers!

dsc_0077We’re making a daytrip to Solvang today to celebrate family birthdays that happen to fall in July.

I always look forward to visiting Solvang, which is a little Danish “tourist town” just 45 minutes south of here. It’s dotted with dozens of bakeries and restaurants, which offer me plenty of chances to pig out on aebleskivers.

You know about aebleskivers? They’re Danish “pancake balls” (slightly smaller than tennis balls). They’re kinda fluffy like popovers, sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with raspberry jam.

I like ’em at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Yum.

But here’s the deal…

I don’t share my aebleskivers.

My thinking is, if you wanna taste some aebleskivers, get your own damn plate and leave mine alone.

You don’t want me to go Viking on your ass.

The good news, though, is that I share plenty of other things.

Like, didja know there’s almost FOUR HOURS of free downloadable audio business instruction available on my website?

For example, there’s an hour with entrepreneur Ed Ritchie, where we talk about how he and I generated cash from multiple income streams, all operated simultaneously.

Then there’s a chat with freelance travel writer Bob Howells, where we discuss (among many other things) how you can run a full-blown bizniz from a smart phone at the summit of the highest peak in Iceland.

There’s an interview with Warren Bluhm, author of Refuse to be Afraid, about how to squash your fears and move on with launching your own business.

You’ll also find my romp with radical libertarian podcasters, where I expound on how to promote freedom by hightailin’ it out of the job culture.

You can grab hold of all this stuff real easy.

No opt-in. No obligation. Just listen right there or download it all into your iPod, iPhone, or whatever you use to listen to MP3 files.

Fear and loathing in the middle of Nowhere

nowhereI try to avoid weddings as much as I can.

But we went to one Saturday.

The venue was out in the sticks, the ceremony was outdoors, and the reception was inside an old, refurbished barn.

Actually, the whole shindig was pretty cool, despite being awkward as hell.

By “awkward” I mean that of 150-plus people there, my wife and I knew only two of ’em. One was the bride; the other, her mom.

Everyone else seemed to know EVERYBODY. They were hugging, chatting, laughing, having a grand old time.

Deb and I sat together under the trees, waiting for the ceremony to start, for the food to get set up, for the cake to be served, talking to ourselves and drinking lots of lemonade and wine and beer.

Funny thing, though…

When we left after a few hours, Deb and I were hugging new friends goodbye and telling them how we had to keep in touch and even get together again soon.

It was all bullshit, of course, because we’ll probably never see any of them again.

But here’s my point…

Despite the discomfort of not knowing anyone at the wedding, Deb and I eventually stepped up, said hello’s, launched conversations, and had a great time.

Your enjoyment of life depends on what you create out of each and every experience.

Sitting on the sidelines is fine for awhile.

Sooner or later, though, you have to get in the game.

In relationships.

In business.

Celebrating a Darwin Awards double-whammy

MachuYou know what the Darwin Awards are, right? They’re given posthumously to folks who meet their maker by their own hand and in the most ridiculous ways.

A Darwin double-whammy occurred in Peru on the very same day last week, and coincidentally, both involved tourists plummeting to their deaths.

First one was a 28-year-old South Korean who was taking a selfie at the Gocta waterfall in the Amazon jungle. He wasn’t paying close enough attention, I guess. Whoops! He plunged 1,600 feet.

“The tourist was found dead, submerged 7 meters deep in the lake into which the Gocta waterfall runs,” a police official said.

Number two was a 51-year-old German dude who thought it’d be cool to pose for a photo of himself jumping into the air, as if in flight, at Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes.

But it didn’t turn out so cool.

Seems this guy decided to have his picture taken in a dangerous cliff area, off limits to tourists.

So he jumped into the air, and the photographer snapped the shot.

And the German’s body landed some 600 feet down a ravine.

Here’s the deal…

You can lead an exciting life.

You can take risks.

Hell, you SHOULD take risks and lead an exciting life.

But don’t do stupid shit.

Do something smart.

And watch your step.

http://tinyurl.com/mqfobrn

I’m in an especially generous mood today

mr-burns-evil-grinI’m leaving town in a couple’a days for one of my geeky fanboy events (an early screening of the new Tarzan movie on the Warners lot in Burbank, if you really gotta know), and I’m in a good and giving mood.

Lucky you.

I got a great email this week…

“I’ve been selling a 137-page eBook about fighting moles and voles and gophers to folks on the internet gardening forums,” this boychik writes, “and I’m building an email list of gardeners who’ve bought it.

“Now here’s my dilemma: I want to offer more products to these customers, but I’m stuck on what other kinds of things I can produce and sell to this market.”

Guess what…

Awhile back, I actually produced a special report that solves all this guy’s problems. So I sent him a freebie copy, then decided to share it with you, too.

The report contains a whopping 51 suggestions for taking what you know and slicing it, dicing it, squishing it, and expanding it for your customers and prospects. These ideas work for any niche market, and now you can have ’em.

Free.

“51 Powerhouse Info-Product Formats” is the title of this report.

You want it?

Costs you nothing.

There’s no opt-in, no obligation.

All you’ve gotta do is click on the link, download it, and use the information.

Oh, and feel free to share the report with friends and business associates you think might be able to use the info, too.

Watching TV commercials can make you rich

Network-TV-AdvertisingI almost always skim through commercials with my DVR.

But sometimes, I think, hell, I really ought’a watch them a bit more closely, even study ’em. After all, I dispense marketing advice quite a lot, and I really should keep up with what sales tactics work or don’t work out there in TV land.

So for the past few days, I stopped skimming through commercials.

And here’s something I noticed…

Most TV commercials don’t advertise price.

I asked myself why and came up with two answers.

1) In this cynical era, most of us don’t believe advertised prices.

We’ve been caught in the old bait-and-switch too many times. Or we’ve discovered that a product’s “new” price may be lower, but the size of the item is smaller. Or we find that the real cost — higher than we’d ever imagine spending — is hidden behind “47 easy monthly payments.”

More often than not, we don’t trust the prices quoted, and advertisers know this.

2) Most of us don’t make buying decisions based on price.

Think about it.

Before we even consider price, don’t we usually determine whether a product will solve a problem for us?

Sure, we do.

And before we consider price, don’t we normally decide whether a product is going to make us feel good?

Of course.

So here’s a marketing tip, learned from watching just a handful of TV commercials:

Stop talking price.

Don’t run an advertisement that says…

“Bedroom Slippers Now Ten Bucks a Pair!”

Instead, run an ad that says…

“These Velvety Bedroom Slippers Will Comfort Your Sore, Tired Feet So Thoroughly You’ll Swear You Could Easily Run a Marathon in Them!”

You know, you should apply a similar approach when you’re marketing YOURSELF. You’ll find quite a few great ideas right here.

How I kept my head down 24/7

does-duck-and-cover-really-workHard to believe that it’s already been a full year since I spent more than a week face-down, 24/7.

Last June, I had retinal surgery done on my left eye.

And post-op required that for successful healing of the retinal hole, I had to stay 100% face-down for the first EIGHT DAYS.

Daytime, I sat in an uncomfortable ergo-chair, my head cradled by a face-cushioning blue plastic donut. Reading was uncomfortable and eating was awkward. I could drink only through straws, so I went cold turkey without hot coffee. I watched TV using something called a MajicMirror Viewer that was propped on a little table under my face.

At night, I slept on an elevated cushion with, again, my face stuck in a donut. No moving. No rolling over. I slept, but fitfully. Whenever I tried to roll over, I woke up. My lower back ached. My shoulders cramped. Hell, as bad as captivity in the ergo-chair was during the day, I absolutely DREADED going to bed at night.

After eight days, the doc said I could safely sleep on my side (NOT on my back). But for another seven days, I still had to stay face-down for 50% of waking hours.

Finally, after 15 post-op days, I got the thumbs-up to “go vertical” whenever and wherever I wanted. The ergo-chair and bedtime apparatuses were shipped back to the hell from which they had crawled.

I felt like a new man.

And even now, 12 months later, I still more fully appreciate some of the simpler things in life. Like eating without annoyance, guzzling hot cups of coffee, watching the sixth season of Game of Thrones without the use of mirrors, and even smoking cigars in the backyard.

Yeah, it usually seems like life is shit. But it really isn’t.

Especially when you remember to apply a few lessons learned…

http://tinyurl.com/mqfobrn

Secrets lurk under the streets of Seattle

db953d6833513da178f184945a2dce44I was telling someone about the dark secrets of Seattle yesterday, and they looked at me like I was bonkers.

I’m not, and everything I’m gonna tell you now is absolutely true.

Just imagine…

A city wiped out by apocalyptic fire.

The survivors rebuild atop its ruins.

For decades, the old city hides quietly beneath the new, no more than an urban legend to modern generations.

Toss in a few mutants and you’ve got the next zombie TV series — of which, I’ll agree, there are already too many.

But I’m talking about real-life Seattle, Washington.

After fire destroyed some 24 square blocks of downtown in 1889, citizens built retaining walls and hoisted an all-new Seattle above the soggy tideflats to avoid old flooding and sewage problems.

This left the original sidewalks and building entrances underground and forgotten — until restoration of historic Pioneer Square began in the 1960s.

A few summers ago, Deb and I took a tour of Seattle’s surreal subterranean city. We walked through dark passageways that squirm underneath busy modern-day sidewalks and past crumbling 19th century doorways and signage. We got a fascinating history lesson.

And I discovered a business lesson there, too.

Here’s the deal…

A whole crapload of historic treasure lay unexplored, untapped, and unexploited below Seattle for more than 60 years.

Then a journalist slash columnist slash humorist slash PR dude slash historical preservationist named Bill Speidel decided to spearhead a campaign to save deteriorating Pioneer Square from the wrecking ball.

Speidel did that by diligently researching the city’s past. And that’s how he discovered the buried ruins of early Seattle.

The result?

Well, for one thing, the old neighborhood was designated an historic district.

For another, Speidel became an entrepreneur. He wrote bestselling books about the city, became a sought-after lecturer, and founded the popular guided walking tour of Seattle’s underground that we enjoyed so much several years back.

So I’ve got a couple of questions for you:

First, like the remnants of old Seattle, what treasures — wisdom, knowledge, ideas, contacts — lie unexplored, untapped, and unexploited inside of you?

And second, when are you gonna take advantage of them?

Sorting earthquake people from tornado people

maxresdefaultI recently read that in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a bigass underground cavern might someday gulp down part of Highway 285 and maybe a church, a handful of businesses, and even a trailer park.

Scary shit.

Now here in California, tremors of various magnitudes rock us hundreds of times a day.

Once in a while, one of ’em REALLY rocks, and you hear about it on the news.

But generally, earthquakes don’t bother me much.

I was once told by a woman from Kansas, “I don’t know how you can live out there with those quakes!”

She routinely faces tornado seasons, and that doesn’t seem to worry her.

Quakes. Killer caverns. Tornadoes. Tsunamis. Floods.

Whatever doomsday natural phenomenon routinely menaces the place we call home, we’re always relieved we don’t live where any of those other terrors linger.

Fact is, one person’s nightmare is just another person’s ho-hum.

Do you know what nightmares keep your target customers awake at night?

What are their problems, their challenges, their fears?

What gives them cold sweats?

And how can you best solve those problems and quell those fears?

Too often, we enter the marketplace with a new idea, a new product, or what we think is a bang-up service. But it leaves our potential customers cold.

The thing is, you might be addressing their tornado problems when what really scares the pants off them is earthquakes.

You’ve got to talk to tornado people differently than you do earthquake people.

But before you can do that, you have to know which group is which.

Ask your target market questions. Survey them. Find out what’s bugging them. Then offer them a solution to those problems.