Saturday, November 28, 2009

In time of crises, should you go into business for yourself?

In times of crisis, should you go into business for yourself?

Most people don’t have a clear sense of what they want in life. They don’t know what they want out of their businesses or careers. They have no vision, no mission, no strategy and they just exist. In difficult times, you need to get your act together and you have to do something. Don’t think exclusively on the unemployment check you can get for a few weeks. Some people are more fortunate and even though times are tough, they know exactly what they want and in many instances, how to get it.

I have written about “four hair stylists”, all four with the idea of earning a living but with different ways of going about it.

Hair Stylist #1 works in other people’s salons all his life. He spends a few years in one then jumps to another one and so on. He takes a one-week vacation, sometimes two weeks, without pay and then one day, he is sixty five, hasn’t saved a penny in his whole life and con’t continue working because his feet hurt too much. He has to find another job because he can’t survive with the social security check only.

Hair Stylist #2 opens his own hair stylist salon. He doesn’t work for somebody else. He wants to be his own boss. He doesn’t hire other people because he says, “once they learn how the business runs, they leave and open other salons. I will not be training competitors. Some will stay, mess up a few clients and then leave. I can’t live with that stress”. He works long hours, six days a week, 50 or 51 weeks a year and when he is not working the business; he is not making any money. (If the business depends only on you to make money, you have a job. If the business runs and makes money while you are away, you have a business). Then one day, he locks up his salon, goes home and he dies.

Hair Stylist #3 opens her own shop, hires four other hair stylists, a hair washer, a manicurist and a pedicurist. She adds value to the client by offering many services so she develops happy, loyal clients. She up sells and makes lots of money. She and her second or third husband take a long vacation every year and while they are away, the business makes money. She sells her salon on her 65th birthday and she and her current husband start traveling the world, doing all the things they have always wanted to do. They have a great time, lead a good life, go home and then they die.

It always ends up the same way, doesn’t it? We will all die someday but that is not the point I am trying to make. The point here is the journey not the destination. The point is for you to choose what you really want out of life, what gives you the most happiness and joy, what really matters most to you. The point is for you to reach the golden age without having to say: “I should have….. why didn’t I…. if only I…”

Hair Stylist #4 is more creative, has an entrepreneurial mindset and opens up a bunch of hair salons and then franchises the concept. Eventually hundreds of salons are opened all over the country. The fellow doesn’t know how to cut, fix or dye hair but he has a vision, a strategy on how to get what he wants and how to reach his dream. He has a very important skill: How to manage people. He knows that he cannot build an empire all by himself and needs the directed efforts of others. His business eventually will be worth millions, each franchise will sell for many thousands of dollars, and its independent owners will have a very good chance to be successful if they follow the model. He has benefited society and the world is a better place because he carried out his vision.

There is no right or wrong way to conduct your business. The reality is you should give it some thought and decide what is best for you. How big and how good you want to be? What kind of life do you want to lead? What are you better suited for? These are the questions you should ask yourself because you do have many possibilities, many alternatives but they must be thought through.

Sometimes when times are tough, you come out ahead because the situation forces to do something and often people come out better than when the crises started.

What is very wrong is for you to fly blind, to not think it through, to not analyze the alternatives and options you have open to you. What is very wrong is for you to end your life with sadness and regret.

Don’t you think you deserve to live an extraordinary life, to choose where to spend your time and your life, how much to make, to save, to spend and to enjoy?
So, the question is which Hair Stylist do you want to be?

Lessons from India

Lessons from India
This is a very difficult column to write, since India is such an interesting and different country.
I worked in Nicaragua last week and from there took the 2 and a half hour trip to Miami, then 3 hours Miami Chicago, three hour wait in Chicago to board the plane to New Delhi, a 13.5 hour trip, 8 hours in Delhi waiting to board the plane to Bangalore, only three hours and then a 4 hour trip by car to Mysore, where Infosys Technologies has its world headquarters. I arrived Tuesday afternoon.
I was attending the TED India convention, a place where remarkable ideas from global thinkers are exposed for the world to know. I heard stories that touch you deeply, irrevocably and intensely to say the least.
India has 1.1 billion people, the second biggest country in the world, behind China and three quarters of a billion people are under the age of 35 which makes it a very young country population wise. They speak 17 major languages and at least 844 dialects, with a million Gods and the most populous democracy in the world.
It is a country where 4 billion movie tickets are sold each year. A country that adds 8 million new cell phone subscribers a month.
The sheer age of civilization here allow us to look backward as we look forward.
The first university in the world was in ancient India, in Taxila in the 6th century BC. Algebra, Calculus and trigonometry; the decimal system; chess, all were invented in India. Also very fascinating is the way cultures and faiths come together in this enigmatic country.
There are 300,000 mosques in India, more than in any other country. Jews and Christians have been living here since 200 B. C. and 52 A.D. respectively. In the mean time, the Hindu shrine at Tirupati, attracts 30,000 pilgrims every day.
India hosts one of the fastest growing economies in the world as is evident when you visit one of their big cities. The national film industry is well known that is more productive than Hollywood, the software industry, some say is bigger than the US has helped make India a force in the world economy. Other sectors are making themselves felt, such as the wildly creative auto industry which recently produced the Tata Nano, the world’s least expensive car, valued at $2,500.
I must admit that there is an undercurrent of poverty and need still existing in this bustling nation. If we add India to Pakistan, Bangladesh, The Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan, half of the world’s poorest people live in this part of the world. Poverty stares you in the face in this nation and it really gets to you and makes you realize that we live in paradise. No matter how bad things get.
The World Bank recently reported that half the children in India are underweight.
One of the speakers, Hans Rosling predicted that by the year 2048, China and India were going to catch up with the United States in economic power. I highly doubt it, but it is the feeling of many experts attending this conference.
A speaker named Devdutt Pattanaik has the title of Chief Believe Officer in his company. He said that nothing lasts forever in India, not even death. This is an interesting concept.
What most impressed me from this conference was the quality of the people attending it
It shouldn’t be a surprise since TED’s motto is “ideas worth spreading”. By the way, I spoke at TED in Long Beach, California in February and you can see my talk at www., do a search and type my name.
One of the speakers that impressed me the most was Tony Hsie, a young entrepreneur that selling shoes on the internet, took his company from a million to 1 billion in only six years. His company name is Zappo’s and he says that what he delivers is happiness, even though it looks like he delivers shoes.
I found many millionaires that have sold their businesses and all they want to do now is help the poor or the needy. They have started non profits and they are tackling India and other countries.
Others that I either saw speak or spoke to, were people that had a great personal tragedy and they converted that tragedy into success.
Sunitha Krishnan really touched my heart. This woman was gang raped by eight men when she was 15. That provoked and anger in her that she decided she was going to channel into helping other women in the same situation. She told us that in India, some two million women and children, many younger than 10 years old, are bought and sold around the globe. Angry about the silence surrounding the sex trafficking epidemic, she co founded Prajwala, or eternal flame, a group that rescues women from brothels and educates their children to prevent second generation prostitution. She runs 17 schools for 5,000 children and has rescued more than 2,500 women from prostitution and 1,500 of whom Krishnan personally liberated.
After her speech, a woman who was touched very deeply by her story, stood up and said “If 10 people here donate $10,000 to Sunitha’s cause, I will give $10,000. Eleven more people raised their hand making it a $120,000 donation. Google came in and told her that they would hire their best students in India.
A very creative lawyer came up with the idea that he will stamp out corruption in India. He opened a company where anyone that deals with a government agency to try to get anything done and the official doesn’t do what they have to do, because they refuse to pay off the bribe, can call him and they will charge them much less than the corruption money they are asking for him.
What a concept? Someone is not doing their job in the government, and they ask for a bribe, gets representation, it costs them little and they get the case through. He says that it has worked 42 times.
Yes, I have learned so much. Now I have to figure out how to apply in our country.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Famous psychologist Martin Seligman spent 25 years of his life studying optimists and pessimists. The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a long time, will affect negatively everything they do, and are their own fault.

On the other hand, optimists who confront the same difficult problems we all do in this complex world we live in, think about misfortune in quite a different way. They tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary situation and that its causes are limited to that particular instance. The optimists believe that defeat is not their fault: Circumstances, bad breaks, bad luck or other people brought it about. Optimists are unfazed by defeat. Facing a bad or negative situation, they perceive it as a challenge, as an opportunity, and they actually try harder to overcome it.

These two habits of thinking, if we may call them habits, have profound consequences in life. There are many studies that show that pessimists give up more easily and get depressed or are unhappy more often than optimists. These studies also show that optimists do much better in academic life, at work or in sports. When an optimist runs for office, he or she is more apt to be elected than a pessimist. They enjoy better health, they get sick less often, age better, and are much freer than most of us from the usual physical problems of middle age, etc. There is some evidence that they even live longer.

Seligman developed the theory of personal control with its two principal concepts: learned helplessness and explanatory style.
Learned helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen. It is the great modulator of learned helplessness. An optimistic style stops helplessness, whereas a pessimistic explanatory style increases helplessness. Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you can become, or how positive, when you encounter the everyday problems or setbacks we all face in life. A good way to think of your explanatory style is as Seligman tells us, “the word in your heart”. Let me explain.

Everyone carries a word in his or her heart, a “yes” or a “no”. You probably, if you really think about it, deep down in your heart, know which word you carry.

When we are thinking, we are actually talking to ourselves. You know intuitively which words you are constantly repeating to yourself. Think about it, are they negative words or positive words. When you get up in the morning, do you immediately complain about something or you get up with a positive attitude or outlook. You get to your office, do you face the situations that come up with a negative outlook or do you face them with a positive attitude. When people deal with you at the office, do they feel your positive energy or do they feel that you drain them of their own energy. You probably know the answer to these questions but if you don’t, how can you find out?
Well, there is an easy, straightforward way. Ask your co- workers; ask your boss or subordinates. They know. Everyone that deals with you day in and day out knows.

There are many personal qualities that are fixed and unchangeable. Basic pessimism is not one of them although it is not easy to change this mindset. You can learn a set of skills that can free you from the tyranny of pessimism and allow you to use optimism when you choose or think that it is beneficial to you. These skills are not easy but they can be mastered with a very strong desire to acquire them and lots of practice.

What is the first step an alcoholic needs to take in order to stop drinking? What is the first step a gambler needs to take in order to stop gambling? Accept that you are an alcoholic or a gambler. Period. Accept it and face it.

The first step you have to take is to recognize that you are a pessimist. Then talk to your loved ones or your co- workers and ask for their help in identifying situations where you are always a pessimist. Start a daily log and every time you catch yourself having pessimistic thoughts, write them down. At the end of the week, add up all your negative thoughts and set a goal for the following week. Shoot for 20% less negative thoughts. In five weeks you should be down to very few thoughts and you should notice a change in your life and in your interpersonal relationships. If you are unable to do this by yourself, seek help from a qualified psychotherapist. Believe me, it is worth the effort. You are making a lot of people around you, miserable.

Money, Principles and Happiness

Money, principles and happiness

When the famous artist and sculptor Michael Angelo was asked how he carved his wonderful work “David” from an average block of marble, he said that the statue was already in the stone. All he did was imagine it was there and then using his mind and his hands, chisel away the unnecessary marble to reveal it.

I truly find that thought fascinating.

In a previous article, I divided our society in four segments, the three’s, the seven’s, the sixty’s and the bottom thirty per centers. I wonder if you thought about it and placed yourself in any of the four categories. Obviously, we should all strive to be either a three per center or a seven per center. What is very sad is that everyone has the potential to be in either one of the categories. Seriously, just like the “David” inside the marble, there is a potential successful person living inside you and every one of us. The key to making it a reality lies in imagining the possibilities and then having the guts and the discipline to make it happen.

Even though financial independence is not everything, it is very important in our lives. Reminds me of what author Jim Berry once wrote: Father: “Wealth and fame do not buy happiness”. Teenage son: Have you ever tried it?”

As my friend Michael Leboeuf says, there are only four things you need to know about money:
How to make it?
How to save it?
How to invest it?
How to enjoy it?

Only the top 10% of the people, the 3 and 7 per centers, know how to do this, although almost anyone in society can.

We do have that lingering question. Does money buy happiness?

I was just discussing this subject with my daughter a few days ago she just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and working for the government as a public defender, she had a leave of absence of six months. When the six months were up, she said “Dad, I can go back to work tomorrow and start making money but I think bonding with my child, taking care of him for the next two years, is a lot more important than any material consideration.” Let’s face it, in a tough economy; this is a hard thing to do, economically. But the principle behind it is more important than money by all means.

She has heard me lecture hundreds of times and lucky for me, she has followed and implemented many of the things I tell my audiences.

She was telling me how many people at work tell her that money is not that important or that money is very important but they constantly worry about the lack of it.

This very important issue needs answering right now because becoming wealthy is not easy. Unless you are born to rich parents (I was, but every penny was taken from them by a bunch of thugs in 1961), break the law; hit a hot streak at a casino or the commodities market, attaining financial freedom takes years of time.

Wanting to be very honest with my daughter I confessed how I have also fallen in the trap of trying to become wealthy in a short time. (This behavior of looking for the easy money, by the way, is seen in thirty per centers).

I told her how in the eighties I knew that soon there was going to be a freeze in the US because it hadn’t happened in four or five years and soybeans would triple or more in price and I bought $10,000 dollars worth of options in the commodities market. The freeze didn’t happen and I continued investing $10,000 year after year until I had lost $50,000. When I no longer had any money, I went to my Dad to get the next $10,000 because I knew the freeze had to be very close, and he said he wasn’t a gambler and would not want to risk his money.

Well, the freeze came that year and the $10,000 turned into $280,000 in a couple of months. Unfortunately, I was out of the market. I wonder why it always happens. You want to strike it rich and something happens that blocks you. At that time I thought my luck was so bad that if I got into the circus business, the midgets would grow.

Anyway, my Dad died a millionaire because he never took foolish risks. He of course should have taken a little bit more calculated risks to get a higher return on his money, but that is beside the point. He never lost his capital and he did well. He understood a principle that I didn’t at the time and that one was of the reasons I wrote “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow yet”.

Recent investigations into this subject, however, conclude that money does indeed buy happiness. HNW Digital of Newton, Massachusetts reported that a full 86% of the wealthiest 8.6 million Americans ranked financial success and security as important to their overall happiness and 50% ranked it “very important”. The people that tell you that money can’t buy happiness, don’t have it, don’t know how to get it, or don’t know where to shop.
Once after a speech, a fellow approached me and spoke about my cousin Jorge Posada and how he had signed a fifty million dollar contract with the Yankees. He proceeded to tell me that he was sure that Jorge would give his fortune in exchange for having a healthy son. I replied that yes, that Jorge would definitely exchange his wealth for his son’s health if possible because he is an exemplary father but thanks to the money he has, his kid has had the best medical care money can buy. What would have happened to his child if he had no money?
My friend Michael who I quoted earlier, reminds us of the husband who asked his wife, “Do you love me just because my father left me a fortune? She replied, “Not at all honey, I would love you no matter who left you the money.”

Oscar Wilde once remarked “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know that it is”.

I believe that happiness is not determined by the money or possessions you have, it’s determined by what you think about what you have. If you really think you would enjoy being a millionaire, I would be willing to bet that you will enjoy it. You must then start thinking about it now, start doing what you need to do in order to become one. I wish my Dad had taught me what I am now teaching my daughter.

If on the other hand, becoming a millionaire is not your goal, hey, you can be as happy and you might even have fewer problems.

I have a friend and I constantly tell her that “in life the ones that have a lot of money are not rich, the ones that don’t need it are”

Puerto Rico Daily Sun, sacrifice, guts and professionalism

Puerto Rico Daily Sun, sacrifice, guts and professionalism.
The Puerto Rico Daily Sun’s first anniversary is a great example of how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results.
I can’t think of any other newspaper in the world that was put together in such a short time span and with little money to do so.
The people that got together to start the newspaper, knew that Puerto Rico needs an English only newspaper and that the island couldn’t afford not having one.
Imagine the teachers in our educational system not being able to assign students in their English classes to read an English newspaper with current news.
Imagine the hundreds or even thousands of English speaking executives in the island that need to be informed about local or world news in English and Puerto Rico, an associated free state not having an English newspaper.
The employees of the Puerto Rico Daily Sun understood this well and they started the paper on their own, on a shoestring, and day by day published a newspaper.
Considering the economic situation that Puerto Rico is facing now, and seeing the main newspapers in the island laying off people and reducing expenses, only a bunch of crazy people would have dared to start a daily newspaper.
Crazy in the eyes of others, but not in their own eyes which is what really counts. What other people call crazy, they see it as passion. Only passion, sacrifice and sheer will could have made it possible for this newspaper to survive one long year.
Employees worked very long hours, even weekends and what is even more incredible; there were times when they were not rewarded with a paycheck. And yet, that didn’t discourage them.
Success is in great measure dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy, the extra effort required to give it one more try, or to look for different approaches is the secret of winning. Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
They believed so much in their cause, that they were willing to sacrifice everything, family and loved ones to make sure that their dream of having an unbiased, objective professional English newspaper became a reality.
Happiness doesn’t come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demands that everyone work as a team and that everyone gives their best.
This is the case with the Puerto Rico Daily Sun and I am honored for the privilege to work with such an outstanding group of professionals that love what they do and that are willing to do what needs to be done to succeed.

Leaving a legacy? Or just passing by

Are you leaving a legacy or are you one more human being passing by?
This is a very interesting question I have wrestled with for a few years. For some reason, for me it was very important to not simply pass through life and then die, but to leave concrete evidence after you are gone, that you left the planet a better place than when you lived in it.
A great writer named Jose Marti said that every man in order to leave a legacy, should have a child, plant a tree and write a book.
I did all three; however, I believe that leaving a legacy goes farther than doing those three things, although doing those three definitely helps in leaving a legacy.
I believe that legacy is about more than reputation or good deeds you might have done when you were alive.
I think it is about whom people become because of who you were as Dr. Gary Brandon declared during a recent speech in Orlando.
Legacy is not determined by academic titles, positions you might have had in private industry or government or by your rank in society.
It is defined as the number of successes you lead others to during your lifetime.
So, there are a few thoughts I will like to share with you on how to craft your legacy.
Mind you, this is my personal opinion, since I am sure that some will disagree.
I believe that if you are considering leaving a legacy, you must have big dreams.
If you don’t have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true.
My father used to publish who is who books and he was very successful in selling advertising in those books, producing and selling them. He must have published at least 20 of those books, his last one in 1992 just before his tragic death in a car accident in 1993. On his best selling year, he sold 20,000 copies.
I had a dream of writing my own books and outselling my father, not with the intention of making him less than I, but because I knew that he would want his own son to do better than him.
One of the biggest regrets I have in my life is that when my book Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet became a worldwide bestseller with over 2 million copies sold, he wasn’t around to see it.
I would want my daughter to write a book and outsell my book because parents want their children to do better than they have ever done and to achieve greater goals in their lifetimes.
To leave a legacy, you must re ignite your passion. My friends, if you are bored to death in your present job, you will leave no legacy.
You must do in life that which allows you to utilize your strengths and you feel passion for.
If you are in an old job and there is nothing you can do about it, for whatever reason, find new passion in your job by adopting a cause bigger than yourself. Think about what you can do in your present position that would present a challenge that will make you thrive.
Good things usually begin with a difficulty, but great things invariably begin with impossibility. Welcome the impossible as the messenger of impending greatness and progress.
Accept that you are nature’s greatest miracle. Your brain is capable of making and storing enough connections and information that the total number would be expressed by a one followed by 6.5 million miles of zeros a number that would stretch from the Earth to the Moon, and back 14 times.
There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you believe in yourself and you go for it.
Reach beyond yourself. By intentionally raising your own expectations of yourself, you will create a gap between where you are and where you wish to be. Having created this gap for yourself, everything about you will automatically begin working on your behalf to close it. This explains why goal setters enjoy boundless energy and never seem to get tired.
To get somewhere you have never been, you have to do something you have never done, so action is the most important factor in getting to the point where you will leave a legacy.
Last but not least, think big but act small.
It is the smallest acts that make the biggest differences.
Coach John Wooten always thought big. He wanted his teams to win the NCAA championship. No small feat, yet his teams won it ten times, seven of them in a row and four times he had 30-0 winning seasons.
He told his players that “seemingly innocuous things make the difference between champions and near champions.
He would begin the first squad meeting of a new season with the same demonstration year after year.
What do you think is the first thing he taught those kids?
Not how to pass the ball, dribble, rebound or the basics. No. The first thing he taught them was HOW TO PUT ON YOUR SOCKS.
That is right. How to put on your socks.
Because wrinkles, folds and creases cause blisters and those interfere with performance during practice and games and that loses games.
Yes, it is the small things that make a difference and allow you to reach your goals and leave a legacy.

It is all in the Pyramid: who wins, who survives and who loses

It is all in the pyramid: who wins, who survives and who loses.

I believe human beings fall into different categories. Let’s call them 3 percenters, 7 percenters, 60 percenters and 30 percenters.

Imagine a pyramid divided into four segments, where right at the top you have the three’s, then the seven’s, the sixty’s and right at the base of the pyramid, the thirty’s.

First, let’s analyze the 3 percenters. These are the leaders in society, the inventors, creators, the paradigm breakers. They are the pioneers and they take more risks than normal people. Because of this, they make more mistakes. They are not afraid to fail and when they do, they “fail forward” which means that they use the failure as a learning experience and continue trying.

Thomas Edison failed over 1,000 times before he invented the light bulb. The Wright brothers had many failures before they finally flew 400 meters or so. Most, maybe all successful people, fail many times before they make it.
These people give permission to the rest of society to do new things and they break paradigms. They are also called pioneers.

In the fast food industry, Ray Kroc revolutionized that industry when he convinced the Mc Donald brothers to allow him to franchise their amazing prototype. He was doing something that hadn’t been done before. How many fast food chains do we have now all over the world? I have seen a McDonald’s in practically every country that I have visited and I am around 60 as of today. In November I will go to India, so that will be number 61. I am sure I will see a McDonalds there.

The second category are the seven percenters. They are also successful people but they don’t like to be first. They will never innovate or create anything. They are very good at imitating winners. They say “I will wait to see if the concept works and if it does, I will build a better mouse trap”.

They don’t like to make mistakes, and they will make less mistakes than the 3 percenters because they take less risks. They will not stick their neck out too much, although some risk they must also take.

They are more cautious. In terms of companies, for example, Burger King followed McDonalds and then came Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Chili’s, Pollo Tropical and dozens more.

They are all successful franchises but one of them led the way.
How about Starbucks? Isn’t it incredible how someone had the idea to sell coffee at very high prices and yet be very successful? They are marketing geniuses. They are 3 percenters all right because they started it but there are now many 7 percenters getting into the business.

The 3 percenters and the 7 percenters, are winners in society. They belong to the top 10% of companies that are going to be very successful. Going back to people instead of companies, this top 10% represent a segment of society that will retire when they get to 62, 65 or even earlier and they will have enough money to maintain the same standard of living they had before retirement.

They won’t depend on social security or charity to make ends meet because they are financially independent. The other 90 percent of society, will need to continue working because they simply can’t afford to retire. (Yes, I realize that some people will continue working past retirement because they love what they do. I in fact hope that will be my case when the time comes)

Now let’s look at the next category. The Sixty percenters. Who are they?

They are the majority of the people. They work eight hours a day and when that clock hits 5.00pm, they run for the exit. They give credibility to the word “reincarnation” because dead bodies suddenly come to life at exactly 5.00pm.
They simply exist. They haven’t followed their passion for one reason or another and they exist just to make it through. Day in and day out. They also are the ones that try to take away the faith from the 3 or 7 percenters.

They tell them, “you won’t be able to do it, don’t even try, it is too difficult, nobody makes it in that field, are you crazy? Who will buy chicken from a restaurant that only sells chicken? That Colonel Sanders must be out of his mind”.

Another problem with the sixty percenters is that they don’t know they are sixty percenters. They don’t know that they are the ones that specialize in chipping away your self-confidence. They always want a guarantee and they won’t take risks. Their goal in life is: make it through. You can find them in front of the TV at 5.30 pm, most of them with a beer in their hand maybe watching a soap opera, a novela or a basketball game.

They won’t go to night school or study anything to raise to another level in their careers. Remember, they are pessimists and they don’t want to be taken out of their comfort zone.

With them, not everything is lost since t something or someone could inspire them, to find their passion in life or reach a higher goal.

If they don’t, they will remain in the mediocrity of their lives and when they die, they will leave no legacy whatsoever.

Finally, we have the 30 percenters. They are the problems in society. They want something for nothing. They don’t want to pay the price for anything. They want a free ride. The free lunch. They will never plant a seed, someone else has to plant it, fertilize it, water it etc. so that the seed will grow into a beautiful tree with wonderful fruit. The 30 percenters, will want the fruit even if they have to steal it. These people are the takers of society.
Many of them are in politics or work for the government.

They always have a excuse for everything and they will blame their misfortune on someone or something. They don’t assume responsibility and don’t want to be accountable.

It is very difficult to change them although I suppose nothing is impossible. You might have to study the situation, maybe follow your intuition and give it a try to help one of these individuals but don’t spend much time. They could bring you down with them if you are not careful. Extreme cases will end up as guests in a penal institution or in drug rehabilitation program and fortunately we have dedicated servants of society dealing with them and trying to help them as part of their job.

Are you a 3 percenter, 7 percenter, 60 percenter or a 30 percenter?

Think about it.

At least you live in a free society and you can decide where in the pyramid will you spend the rest of your life.

Capitalize on your Strengths? Short route to happiness

Capitalize on Your Strengths? Short route to happiness

The late B. F. Skinner, one of the most influential behavioral psychologists in the world, defined happiness as “doing what you are good at”.

Warren Buffett one of the richest men in the world, in a speech to students at the University of Nebraska said to them:
“I may have more money than you do, but money doesn’t make the difference. Sure, I can buy the most luxurious handmade suit, but I put it on and it just looks cheap. I would rather have a cheeseburger from Dairy Queen than a hundred dollar meal”.

The students listened to every word he said. He continued, “If there is any difference between you and me, it may simply be that I get up every day and have a chance to do what I love to do, every day. If you want to learn anything from me, this is the best advice I can give you.”

It reminds me that once Mr. Buffett went in a speaking tour with Bill Gates and the one condition he demanded was to have cheeseburgers available in every city that they had to speak.

I spoke in Jackson Hole a couple of years ago and my driver told me that he got to drive Bill and Warren all over town. And one day he took them to play golf and when they got back in the car, they were arguing about who won the bet while playing golf. How much was the bet for? $1.00

Anyway, getting back to the subject matter, what Warren Buffet and B. F. Skinner said is that human beings, should, throughout their lives and careers, do what they love to do. Doing what you love to do comes from applying your strengths to whatever you do. It is possible to be good at something that you don’t like but sooner or later, you will be so bored and disgusted that you will have to give it up.

Tiger Woods loves to play golf and he is very good at it. His extraordinary long game, hitting the ball with his woods and irons, is strength. His putting we might say is also strength. His ability to chip out of a bunker is not. I am not a golfer, in fact, unless, somebody convinces me otherwise, I find it a very boring sport. But I have been told by golfers that in “sand and saves”, Tiger is not that consistent. In fact, many golfers are much better than him. He is successful because he capitalizes on his strength.

Steven Jobs, in a business context, is a genius at taking innovations and transforming them into user-friendly computer hardware. This means that he has that strength. His ability to maintain and manage a large enterprise he is not that good at but he surrounds himself with people that are.

Expanding the title of this article to Capitalize on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses is an interesting concept, easy to grasp but difficult to apply.
Building a strong life will always be a challenging project involving many different variables: your talents, your education, your skills, your self-confidence, your maturity, the piranhas you face everyday and some might even include “your luck”.

A few months ago I had dinner with one of Willie Miranda’s assistants, a lovely lady and she was telling me some of his plans for the future. Now, life threw a curve at him, and he will have to fight the most important fight of his life, pancreatic cancer. Totally unexpected like many events in life and nothing to do with politics.

No one can give you a magic bullet to solve every problem you have or can have in your personal and professional life.

In fact, I don’t think anyone can do that except you. A good friend, many years ago, said to me that everyone, deep down inside, knew what needed to be done to improve their conditions in life. He might have been right. You have to look deep inside and see what your instincts tell you but it will definitely help if you at least have a basic understanding of psychology.

First of all, you must understand how to distinguish your natural talents from things that you learn. Strength can be described as consistent near perfect performance in an activity. The question is how do you get to near perfect performance?
Practice, practice, practice?

Or near perfect performance requires certain natural talents? You can get a little bit better at anything but practice will not get you to a near perfect performance. To develop strength in any activity requires talent.

Another question pops up? What is the difference between a talent and strength? What role do skills, knowledge, experience and attitude play in building strength?
Not knowing the answers to these questions will make you waste lots of time trying to learn strengths that will be difficult for you to learn if not impossible.

So let’s define some terms for you:

Talents are your naturally recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings, or behavior.

Knowledge consists of information, facts and lessons learned in life.

Skills are steps of an activity. For example in sales, asking questions or closing the sale would be defined as skills.

These three, talents, knowledge and skills combine to create your strengths.

Attitude is the motor behind the whole thing. Attitude is what defines how much will you achieve or how successful will you be.
When Henley wrote the prophetic lines “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” he should have added, ‘because we have the power to control our thoughts and our thoughts make up our attitudes”.

Carl Ripken, the baseball player played in 2,216 consecutive ball games. That is a record that will be very difficult to break. Carl had knowledge of baseball; he had the talent to play the game and the skills to make him a great ballplayer. It was his attitude that made him a super star.

My cousin Jorge Posada plays the most difficult position in baseball: catcher. It is very tough on your knees and your whole body because you get wacked by the ball and the bat very often. Yet, he played 1,450 games and 4,877 at bats, before being placed on the disabled list.
I bet no catcher in history has been able to do that.

You must have a very good attitude and be very motivated to be able to accomplish that.

Your attitude will be a definite factor in how successful you are. Make sure you choose a profession that you have the talent for. It is the only way you will be really happy and self realized.