Sunday, July 11, 2010

Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do

Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.

If you are a baseball fan or even if you are not, you would probably agree that the New York Yankees has been the most successful baseball team in history.

They have won many American League championships and the World Series more times than any team in history. It is funny that they call it the World Series, since it takes place only in the United States, but that is another story.
On the other hand, Soccer has a real world series since every country in the world can participate. Spain won the cup fair and square and the players must be very proud to have done so. They are really the world champions.

Anyway, talking about the NY Yankees, the catcher for that team is Jorge Rafael de Posada, re-named by the Yankees as Jorge Posada. (They said for publicity purposes, it was much easier to pronounce and write). Jorge is my cousin. In fact he and I are the last Posada’s in our family line.

Luckily his first born was a boy, second child a girl and I have had two girls so the name has a chance to continue because of that boy although I haven’t given up yet.

When Jorge was much younger, Jorge Luis, his father, asked him if he wanted to make it to the big leagues. Jorge Luis is a scout for the Colorado Rockies and very knowledgeable about baseball.

Jorge replied, “Yes, Dad, I want to make it to the big leagues” “Well” said Jorge Luis, then you have to be a catcher”. Jorge was a second baseman and he liked that position. Jorge Luis explained that he had a better chance as a catcher because of his strong legs, his strong arm and in addition, he can hit a baseball. But he wasn’t fast enough to play the infield.

He started learning the position and working very hard to develop the skills necessary to reach the big leagues.

Another day, Jorge Luis asked his son if he still wanted to go to the Major Leagues and he said yes. “Well then, you need to star batting left handed”. Jorge said, “Dad, I am right handed”. “Well, if you want to make it to the big leagues you must be a switch hitter, bat left and right”. “OK, Dad, I will do it” said Jorge.

The kid started batting left handed and he struck out sixteen times in a row (his Dad told me he struck out 19 times in a row but for sure at least sixteen) until he had a hit.

In 1998 Jorge batted 19 homeruns and 17 were left handed. In the year 2,000, he hit a home run from the left and from the right and in that same game Bernie Williams did the same thing making it the first time in history that two players from the same team have done that. That year he hit 28 homeruns. In 2,001 he hit 22 home runs and signed a very hefty well deserved multimillion contract. It seems signing that contract did him some good psychologically, since he hit 30 home runs in 2003 establishing a record for all the catchers of the New York Yankees, tied with Yogi Berra.

He is the only Major League catcher to ever have hit .330 or better with 40 doubles, 20 home runs, and 90 RBIs in a single season. Since 2000, my cousin had more runs batted in, home runs and hits than any other catcher in baseball.

Why has Jorge Posada been so successful? Because he was willing to do things that unsuccessful players were not willing to do.

An excellent basketball example about willing to do what others are not willing to so, is Larry Bird. I have done psychological work for three teams, The Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers and most recently the New Jersey Nets. I have seen great efforts by basketball players but

Larry’s example is very present in my mind. He was willing to study every inch of the basketball court to find imperfections and not lose the ball by bouncing it in that area. He also noticed marks in the court so that he could be facing away from the basket and knows exactly how many feet to the basket. He could then jump without looking at the basket and turn around in the air and take a shot without much possibility to be blocked. He would then take 300 foul shots for practice.

He was willing to do things that unsuccessful basketball players were not willing to do.
No matter what you do in life, if you want to be successful, you need to do what others are not willing to do.

When Domino’s pizza wanted to be successful, they did something that others were not willing to do, deliver a pizza in 30 minutes or your didn’t have to pay for it.

If you have a business, you need to know what your customers want and then give it to them. You will find that many of your competitors are not doing that and you will obtain a competitive advantage.

What a simple principle, do what others are not willing to do, and yet not many put it into practice.

The importance of being different and communicating it to the customer

The importance of being different and communicating it to the customer.

Let’s say that you need to paint your car. Puerto Rico is an island so lots of people live very close to the beach and as you all know, salt is the enemy of metal and many cars show the rust that affects the car. You go to the yellow pages or to the internet to look for a reputable body shop with a good offer and lo and behold, what would you find?

There are more than 200 body shops in Puerto Rico more or less. You start looking for ads that attract you, ads that convince you that you should give that body shop a try and you don’t find any that stands out. They all say things such as “ We are here to serve you”, “we do all kinds of body work”, “computerized estimates”, “Chassis specialists”, “Fair Prices” “oven painting”, “we deal with insurance companies”, etc. etc. etc. In summary, all the ads look alike and there is little differentiation, which is the reason why
I am writing this column on marketing.

First of all, everyone must realize that 200 body shops mean that there are more body shops than we need. If divine justice worked perfectly, and all the cars involved in accidents were divided into all the body shops in the island, we know that they couldn’t survive. So, for any body shop to survive, it needs to take business away from other body shops.

I bet that if we did a study, the Paretto principle would work in this situation. For those of you that don’t know the Paretto principle or have forgotten about it, it is also called the 80/20 principle. It says that 20% of all the body shops in Puerto Rico do 80% of the repair business. It says that 80% of all the accidents are caused by 20% of the drivers. 80% of all the sales in a company are sold by 20% of the salesmen and the other 20% of the sales are sold by 80% of the salespeople. 20% of the people commit 80% of all crimes. This principle has stood the test of times and it is amazing, even uncanny, how it works.

The challenge for every repair shop in Puerto Rico is to become part of the 20% that will do 80% of the business because if it doesn’t become a part of this elite group, it will go out of business. We can also say that in five years, only one out of five body shops in business today will still be in business.

What can a body shop or for that matter, any other types of business do to become one of the successful ones? This is not an easy question and the answer is quite long and complex. We can ramble out some answers right here: Offer great service, do quality work, be well capitalized, be well managed, have good marketing etc. In this article, I want to concentrate on one aspect of marketing, one that is very important for businesses to understand no matter what field that business is in.

I am referring to the Unique Selling Benefit or the Unique Selling Proposition as it is also called.

The ads I looked at in the Yellow Pages didn’t convey a unique selling benefit in most of them.
What is a USB? A unique selling benefit is that distinct, appealing idea that sets your business apart from every other competitor in your marketplace.

Pay attention to this, your entire marketing and operational success should be built upon your Unique Selling Benefit.

Your USB may touch any part of the marketing mix—price, service, quality, or even uniqueness. But it must be very clear to the client what your USB is. Most businesses don’t understand this concept.

There are many examples of USB’s. Let me share a few with you so that you may get an idea of what your own USB might be.
Some companies position themselves as having the best selection or the broadest range of buying options. Their USB is “ Broad Choice”
Other companies do not have as many options but their USB is “lowest prices” or “lowest mark up”.
Other companies may decide they don’t want to be known for just price or range of options, so instead they offer excellent quality at a higher, but reasonable price. Quality or exclusivity—even snob appeal—is its USB.
Still, another company may offer a product at average prices but their distinct selling appeal is that they offer an excellent service or a super guarantee.

The possibilities for building a USB are unlimited. A business, though, should communicate a USB that addresses an obvious void in the marketplace that you can fill and fill very effectively. Be very careful, though: It is a big mistake to adopt a USB if you can’t fulfill the promise.

I would like to describe a curious situation. When you ask a business owner to articulate clearly and concisely in one paragraph or less, his or her USB most business owners have no answer.

A few years ago I met with some executives from a well known super market chain and I asked the President if he knew what his USB was and that if I asked the other two executives in the meeting, would they have the same answer. He said that he was positive that all three would have the same answer. I proceeded to take three pieces of paper and I gave one to each and told them to write it down. They did and when we looked at the answers, they gave three different answers. The President was flabbergasted and couldn’t believe his eyes. I was hired by the way to work with the company.

Why did this happen? Because they had never thought through or analyzed what their real strengths are in the market.

Most businesses have no USB’s, only a “me too” spine less, nondescript, business that feeds solely upon the momentum of the marketplace. There is nothing unique, there is nothing distinct. They promise no great value, benefit, or service---just “buy from us” for no justifiable reason.

Let me suggest a worthwhile exercise for your employees. Ask them what your company’s USB is and you will be surprised by their answers.

The different perceptual realities we all hold

The Different Perceptual Realities we all hold

In the eighteen hundreds there was a poet named John G. Saxe who wrote about six men in a village named Indostan “to learning much inclined, who went to see the Elephant (though all of them were blind), that each by observation might satisfy his mind”.

Any reader that is familiar with that poem will remember that the first blind man felt the broad side of the animal and described the elephant “to be like a wall.” The second gentleman, feeling the elephant’s tusk, was very surprised: “Did you say that it is like a wall? I can’t believe it, it is more like a spear! The third blind man, grappling with the elephant’s squirming trunk, said, “Wall? Spear? That elephant is more like a snake!” The fourth man, touching the elephant’s knees, said “Stupids! The elephant is like a strong tree!” The fifth gentleman, feeling the ear, said “Have you all gone mad? An elephant is like a fan!” The sixth man, feeling the elephant’s tail, said, “Any chump can see that an elephant is thin as a rope.”

If we analyze each man’s answer perceptually, we must conclude that all of them are right. I mention this anecdote in this article because most efforts to persuade human beings are no more than one blind person asking another blind person to “see or perceive” the elephant as he or she does.

Have you ever considered that your friends, your bosses, coworkers, customers and your politicians live in their own personal perceptual realities?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to instead of expecting them all to see the elephant as you do, why not make an attempt to see what they are seeing? If you persevere and make an honest effort, you might be able to see enough parts of the elephant from different perspectives so as to have a much better chance at understanding the reality of the situation and finally make sense of it all.

Doing this is applying a very wise principle, “seek to understand and then be understood”, one of the seven habits my friend Stephen Covey wrote about.

Human beings must someday understand that most of the truths we adhere to depend greatly on our point of view, on our paradigms, on how we interpret reality.

Right now the Israeli government is battling a problem of perception because they boarded a ship that was supposed to take food and supplies to people in Gaza and they were attacked with sticks and knives. Many people were hurt and about ten died. The Israelis say that the ship belongs to a terrorist organization and that it was within their right to board the ship and the occupants of the ship didn’t want that to happen. The world press perceives that it was an unjustified attack, so unless the Israelis are able to prove their point, they will be in serious trouble. Sometimes, even if you prove a point, the perception still remains and you are also in trouble, especially since for reasons that are not within the scope of this article, the world press is against you.
Right now, there is a strike at the University of Puerto Rico. That strike is affecting thousands of students that want to go to the University to study and advance their lives. Both sides must understand each other or we will get nowhere.
We have serious problems in P.R and because of these disagreements, nothing is getting done. Is our government going through difficult times? Shouldn’t the budget be balanced? Should the government reduce working hours from the employees or should they be fire more of them? Why is the cost of water and electricity so high? Why hasn’t our economy grown some more? What should we do about it?

All of our leaders have different points of view, different ideas on what to do and how to do it. Could it be that they are all blind and they are seeing different parts of the elephant?

There is an old legend I read about in a magazine many years ago about a tribe that was always at war with other tribes. They murdered, raped and stole. They had no morals, love or compassion. Sooner or later they were all going to kill each other.

An alarmed old man called together the few reasonable members of all the tribes to try to save the violent natives from themselves. After much discussion the reasonable members decided to take the secret of success and happiness away from those who abused it and hide it from them. But where should the secret be hidden? Some suggested it be buried inside the earth. Others said to hide it on top of Mount Everest. Still, others suggested it be sunk in the deepest ocean. There was no agreement until the wise elder who had called the meeting made a suggestion:

“Let us hide the secret within the people themselves”, he said. “People like this will never find it there.”

To this day, all over the world, all over Puerto Rico people have been persistently pursuing success and happiness, searching for the secret. Very few indeed, have found its hiding place—within themselves.

Is opening and running a business a good idea for you?

Is opening and running a business a good idea for you?
To own a small or medium size business is both good news and bad news. The good news is that you can have lots of fun running your own small business and make lots of money. But, don’t let anybody kid you, the bad news is that you can lose your shirt or blouse in opening and running a business.
The difference is something I discovered a long time and ago and I have been teaching all over the world. In fact, the reason I am writing about business in this week’s column, is that I just returned from Ciudad Juarez where I spoke to about a 1,000 entrepreneurs and business people and this was the topic of one of my two speeches.
The difference between making money and losing money in a business is something called “business knowledge”. You can be an expert in your product or service and that won’t do you any good unless you know how to run a business.
I constantly tell my fellow professional speakers that until they treat their speaking business as a business and not as a profession, they won’t make it in that highly competitive field.
There are three ways to acquire business knowledge and the first way is the most common one and the most dangerous: trial and error. If you want to find out if the stove is hot, you place your hand on it. It is rather a very good way of learning from your own experience, but also a very painful way of doing it. In fact, several major universities, one of them as I remember, Tulane University in New Orleans, did a study some years ago and discovered that the average small business person failed almost four times before they finally succeeded. Think about the pain and suffering you must go through by learning from just your own experience.
The second way of acquiring business knowledge is through the purchase of a franchise. There are very good franchises that will make you lots of money but to be able to own one, you really must put down a lot of money. As a plus, they will give you an exact road map on how to run the business and the fact that the brand is already established, they will avoid lots of headaches and heartaches in running a business.
The third way of acquiring business knowledge is the most painless way and that is what you are doing in reading this article, learning from other people’s experience. Anyone can learn from their own experience, but the really smart person learns from the experience of other people and that is what I try to convey in this article.
Any business you want to open has an association of businesses that belong in order to help and learn from each other. For example, I belong to the National Speakers Association and I believe that a very important factor in my success as a speaker is due to what I have learned in that association. Again, I learned from the experiences of others.
It is no secret that the economy is hurting here in PR, in the US and all over the world. Lots of people have lost their jobs so because of it, they are now in a position that they must do something to survive and one of the alternatives is opening your own business.
People have lost control of their lives and what the lack of control can mean is stress. In fact, now we know that stress is directly related to the lack of control. Think about the things right now that are causing you the most stress. These are the things you have no control over. But one good thing about small business is that you start to get control of your own life.
It is also lots of fun creating new ideas, new products or services and testing them in the market place.
One of the paradoxes however that I have discovered in my career, owning my own speaking business since 1995 is that small business is not for everybody, but it doesn’t matter if your work for somebody else or you work for yourself: If you only do that work for the money, and that is the weird part about this, is that you will never make any serious money. But, if you get involved with a job or a small business that is so much fun that you say, “I would do this for free”, that is when you can make lots of money. And, that is the paradox.
Go out there and find some fun and follow your passion.
Somebody some time ago said that small business is not about making money, but rather becoming who you really are. And you have got to get involved with a business or a job that is having some fun while you work at it.
Finally, one thing about business I don’t want to forget mentioning is that there are no restrictions or limits.
You know, when you work for somebody else, you are always limited in how much money you can make, or how much responsibility you are going to have based on your boss’s perceptions of your own skills. And a lot of time their perception is based on a resume or an interview.
In small business, no one cares about that. For example, although I tell everyone to get a degree, some of the richest men in the world didn’t go to college, dropped out of college and some didn’t even through high school. In a small business, no one cares about those things.
In small business, no one cares about your age. Harlan Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken with a social security check inside this shirt pocket.
In terms of sex, how many women reading this article are tired, frustrated, and angry and pissed off because they are working right next to a male counterpart and on average according to some statistics, are making 10 or 20 per cent less for no other reason than their sex.
Maybe this is one of the reasons that women right now are starting small businesses at a higher rate than men.
No, opening and running a business is not for all, but if you have no job, you have some common sense, you find a need and you fill it, you might hit the jackpot.

Hackers and Crooks a real menace to society

Hackers and crooks, a real menace to society
I am aboard American Airlines flight 857 on my way to Dallas, then El Paso to cross the border into Ciudad Juarez.
Yes, many friends and business associates have warned me on how dangerous it is to travel to Juarez, arguably the most dangerous city in the world, even worse than Caracas which we all know thousands of people are killed every year victims of crime. And yet, it has great, decent people, and I have good friends in the city.
I will be speaking in an event hosted by entrepreneurs that want to help Juarez pull out of that horrible reputation as a high crime city. Yes, they have quite a problem with drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder of innocent victims. But as a society they need to face this situation firmly and do what needs to be done to eliminate these problems.
I am speaking in a wonderful event "Va por Juarez" planned in order to show people that when you work together, great things may be accomplished and even though they are facing a difficult situation, lots can be done if they get together to look for solutions and implement them.
So, even though I could write this article about the perils of visiting Juarez, I will instead focus on a problem that affects most or all of us rather directly: Identity Theft.
It was 1.38pm yesterday when I received a text message from a friend saying that he was so sorry that I had been vacationing in London and that I got mugged. He told me that my wallet had been stolen and that I was in need of some funds so that I could return home.
That was news to me since I was at the time in a law office helping my daughter with a project she was involved in.
I told him that it wasn’t me and that I probably had been hacked. This happened in the highly popular site, Face book. I thanked him for telling me and that I would change my password as soon as I got to a computer.
A few minutes later, I get another email by a friend telling me the same story but he wanted to make sure I was in trouble and that I had written that. So, he asked me where we met so that if it was a hacker, he couldn’t give him the answer.
Another friend wrote me asking me for our secret word, (funny that I had no idea) so that he could establish if it was me the one asking for help.
Then a Face book friend, a nice lady who I really didn’t even remember since I have over 1,200 friends in Face book called me on my cel phone and asked me if I was ok because I had texted her saying that I had been mugged in London, England.
I thanked her, went down to my car, connected with my Sprint card to the internet, went into Face book and changed my password.
What happened to me, luckily, I was able to stop rather quickly. But what if some of my friends had wired money to England to get me out of a jam and it was all a swindle?
I must warn you that even though we are living in the most exciting time in history, we are living in the most dangerous of all times.
Years ago, we only had to worry about rubber checks, phony investment schemes, embezzlement, what they called white collar crime but now, a very simple crime, very easy to carry out and highly profitable is endangering all of us: Identity theft, the wholesale lifting of someone’s identity for illicit gain. It’s stealing that identity, then using it to access a person’s bank account, their most intimate and personal information and their personal finances. It is becoming someone else to take possession of all their money, even their lives.
Listen carefully, if someone gets a hold of your name, your date of birth, and your social security number, that is all you need to become someone else. A phone and a cheap computer is all you need to pull it off.
Last night, a good friend who has a business helping executives present better using power point and other software, called me to tell me that he lost quite a bit of data and money because a Russian Hacker had taken possession of his web site and had taken all of his data and then erased it. It took him a week to try to construct everything again and he obviously wasn’t able to recoup everything.
He described last week as the worst week of his entire life.
If I want your social security number, all I have to do is to go to an online provider of social security numbers, I won’t provide the information here because I know that there is at least one crook reading this article right now, and get the number. It will only cost me $49.00 to do that.
If you go on to that website and you know of a child who is ten or eleven years old and he’s got a social security number assigned to him that he obviously has never used yet, simply type in his name and address and you will get his social security number. What a problem for that child when he enters the work force and faces this situation.
There is even a detective company online whose ad is “we will tell you everything and anything about anybody for a fee. The fee is $150.00.
What they will tell you is where you work, what your salary is, your date of birth, and your social security number, who you are married to, and who you have been married to. They will tell you whether you have had a DUI, if you have ever been arrested, where you went to school and where you went to college, everything a hacker would need to become you and steal your money.
There is even another site who will tell you what the FBI knows about you.
What can you do?
I really don’t know. I do know that for starters you should change your passwords rather frequently, be on the lookout at all times for anything suspicious, never use your debit card anywhere, instead use a credit card. American Express has a very safe system and probably Visa and MasterCard too.
You should check out a service called Privacy Guard, they are experts at guarding your identity.
If you have already been a victim, immediately call the credit bureau’s fraud department and report it.
Shut down all compromised accounts and documents.
If your passport has been stolen, contact the State Department at
File a police report, not really to catch the thief because it probably won’t happen, but to make it easier to deal with the credit bureaus
Keep a good record of everything you do, send certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep copies of everything.
If you have determined as best as you can the extent of the fraud, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www. or by phone at 1 877 IDTHEFT.
It is not a bad idea to report it to the FBI also at or give them a call.
Finally, make sure you hire a web developer that knows his stuff, that knows about safeguards and is an expert on avoiding someone hacking into your site and making your life miserable.
This is not a motivational column obviously, but I do hope it motivates you to start taking steps to protect your identity and your life.

Do we have the guts to do what Greece is doing?

Do we have the guts to do what Greece is doing?
It is not very difficult to look at what is happening in Greece with such a huge debt and other countries in Europe following in its footstep and think, “Are they stupid or why can’t they see it?”
It is obvious that they want very generous benefits from the government that they simply can’t afford.
A rather simple individual could conclude that they need to cut benefits and raise taxes.
How are we in the US different than Greece?
With the kind of government that we have now, I believe that is a very pertinent question.
The numbers on our federal debt are becoming alarmingly similar. Our debt is projected to equal 140% of GDP within the next 20 years.
Greece’s debt by comparison, equals 115% percent of its GDP as of today.
Our GDP as it stands today is about 87.3 of GDP.
Let’s be clear on what all of this means:
When the government spends more than it receives in tax revenue, it borrows the rest by issuing US Treasury Securities. The US public debt or national debt, as it is called, is the sum of all these outstanding securities.
Please, let’s not confuse it with the trade deficit which is the difference between net imports and net exports.
The US might never face such a catastrophe, although it’s not impossible, for many reasons but the core reason of this problem, is the same.
Both governments have a bigger government than they are paying for. And since we are on the subject, the same thing happens in PR with our government.
Corruption and bad government are important causes of these huge negative numbers, but that is not the whole story.
We must stop blaming the government for everything and we must accept responsibility.
We still don’t know which kind of government we want or should have.
We all favor Medicare, Social Security, good schools available to all, paved roads, welfare programs, oh yes, and a strong military and this has to be done with lower taxes.
What is interesting is that whenever a politician talks about fixing some of these problems, there is a backlash against the politician and everyone jumps on him or her.
Greece owes $400 billion, Portugal owes $175 billion, and a stone throw away sits Italy with $2 trillion and Spain on the hook for $819 billion.
Taking a look at these numbers, how much confidence can a $1 trillion fund offer?
A very important question in everyone’s mind. How will Germany react?
For many years, there is a general consensus in Germany that unemployment can be tolerated but inflation not.
They can’t forget the fact that Hitler took over when they had galloping inflation and they fear it like the plague. However, a bold German effort to save Greece and maybe even Italy would go against this fear of allowing inflation to surface again and it would undermine confidence in the German’s ability to pay its debts.
Germany was caught between a rock and a hard place. If they helped Greece, they could undermine confidence in German solvency. If they didn’t help Greece, they would undermine the Euro. Both roads lead to inflation.
As it stands now, Germany’s debt to GDP ratio is 77 percent, not as bad as Italy’s 115 percent or Greece’s 125 percent, but heading steadily in that direction.
If Greece is allowed to default, inflation will certainly hit them as faith in the Euro diminishes.
Greece’s entire economic and political system will have to change for Greeks to be able to live up to their commitment.
How Greece performs will not only affect Greek citizens but the value of the Euro and every one of the 27 nations that make up the European bloc.
If we do a careful analysis we would find that the European Union is the world’s largest economy, called by many as the United States of Europe. I agree with Tom Friedman of the New York Times who says that “two United States are better than one”. A failure by the E.U will affect everything from possible exports the US can export the next few years to how many allies will the US have in the next war, if we have a next war.
What would that mean to us?
Our export driven recovery, fueled by improvements in Europe, is likely to disappear and the dollar will strengthen, making our exports less competitive in the world markets.
There is no question that the present US administration has chosen to increase our deficits and it now exceeds 80% of our GDP. It is ironic that President Bush, the much criticized President, left it at 60% when President Obama took office.
A friend of mine made me laugh when he said “The Obama deficit is a gift that keeps on giving”.
I will now make a statement that will surely attract lots of criticism.
Although the PR government, politicians, corruption, etc. has a lot to do with it, the main fault lies with all of us.
We all know that our government is a big bureaucratic elephant. We all know that the job it should do can be done with maybe half the people.
We elect a government that promises to trim it down, and after cutting 30,000 employees, everyone criticizes what was done!
Yes, there are ways of dealing with this situation that are better or worse, but the bottom line is that expenses must be cut and the people and a great percentage of my fellow members of the press simply don’t allow this to happen.
The message seems clear, curse the politician that goes beyond merely words and shows some fiscal restraint.
Let’s face it, this situation is unsustainable, we simply can’t in the US and here in PR continue accumulating these gigantic deficits.
What have the Greeks already done?
They increased the average retirement age for government employees from 61 to 65.
They cut the wages of every public sector employee by 20% and their pensions by 10%.
The value added tax was raised from 19 percent to 23 percent, and there has been an increase of about 30% on gas, alcohol and tobacco.
The number of municipalities is proposed to shrink from 1,000 to 400 and public owned companies from 6,000 to 2,000 to save money and bureaucratic red tape. Now hear this, so far, the deficit is down 40% from last year.
Is our deficit down 40% from last year? Of course not.
Are we willing to cut eliminate 60% of our municipal governments? Of course not.
We need leaders that are willing to take action even at the expense of losing the next election.
Otherwise, we will be in a heap of trouble and everyone will suffer sooner or later.

Build Quality in your own life day after day

Build quality in your own life day after day.

There is a story about a soon to be retired carpenter that had worked for one home builder most of his life but now was ready to call it quits.

He told his employer of his idea to get out of the house construction business so that he could live a better life with his wife and family.

He knew he would miss his weekly paycheck, who wouldn’t, now a days, but he had pretty much made up his mind. He believed he had enough money saved up and his earned social security checks would be enough to help him get by.

The home builder was sorry to see his employee go and asked him one last favor. Could he build just one more house, only one more and then he could retire? He asked him and told him it was a personal favor that meant a lot to him.

The carpenter agreed and he proceeded to start working in the house. He worked for a few days and then weeks but soon it became clear that the man’s head wasn’t into building this house. Even though he told the builder he would do it, he was going through the motions but at a very slow pace.

He resorted to ship jack workmanship and used very low quality materials. Come to think about it, it was a very regrettable and unhappy way to end his long career, his many years of service to this home builder.

When he finally did manage to finish the house, the home builder came to inspect it and before he left, he looked at his employee in the eyes and told him, “I want you to live in this house. This is your house, my gift to you.

What a surprise and shock to this man. He was dumbfounded and then it hit him. If he had only known he was constructing his own house, he would have done it all differently. He would have used better materials, he would have paid more attention to details, he would have simply done it better. Now, he had to live in the home that he had carelessly built.

So it is with many people all over the world. As they construct their lives each and every day, they don’t give their best effort. They collect a paycheck but they don’t involve their minds and their souls in their work. They don’t feel pride for what they do. They are only concerned with a paycheck and on many occasions, they bad mouth their employers, the hand that feeds them. With great regret they look at their lives and what they have created and they feel sad.

Vince Lombardi, one of the great football coaches said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor”.
This is a very important message. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. You might be the janitor in your company, what you do is very important to the company. Imagine what clients would think if they see the bathrooms dirty and the facilities full of trash?

You might be the guy that drives the company truck and makes deliveries. The way you treat your truck, how clean it is, even how well you drive, will send a message to clients and to everyone that sees your truck while you drive around.

A dirty bathroom, a dirty truck, will have an effect in clients and some will stop doing business with your company.

You might be a truck driver or a delivery person, when you deal with a client, at that particular moment, you represent the whole company.

In fact, at that particular moment, you are the company. The client doesn’t care who the President of the company is. The client only cares about the business he is transacting with you and whether you are satisfying his needs and doing what you are supposed to do to please him or her.

We are now competing with countries all over the world and now more than ever, we must all make a tremendous effort to turn out quality products and services. We must be leaders in those industries in which we compete. We must be certain that we do as good a job as it is possible and that way we will feel very proud of what we do.

The house we are building might be our own house once we are finished.

Rats, Humans and Personality

Rats, Humans and Personality
Last Saturday I spoke to students of Purchase College in New York, members of Latinos Unidos, a Hispanic organization in campus.
Last year they also had me as their keynote speaker, so I had to make sure that since at least 30% of the students heard me before, I had to include new material so as not to bore them.
Since my fees for nonprofit organizations are less than my regular fee, I often try out new material in these types of events.
I decided I was going to try out my rat experiment with the group.
Years ago, a psychobiology researcher at John Hopkins School of Medicine conducted an experiment with rats that I am sure most of you, dear readers of my column, might find shocking.
The purpose of the study was to study the effect of water temperature on endurance. To do this, his team placed dozens of defenseless rats into glass jars, one rat per jar, and then filled each jar with water.
Because the walls of these jars were too high and slippery to climb, the rodents were left in a sink, which meant die, or swim situation. The researchers even had water jets blasting from atop to force the poor rats below the surface if they just tried to float lazily instead of swimming for their lives. They then measured how long the rats swam, without food, rest, or possibilities of escape, before they went under, drowned, and died. It certainly takes a special kind of researcher to be able to conduct such a cruel experiment.
But, anyhow, what is done is done, and now we can learn from it.
The researchers were astounded to find that even when the water temperatures were identical, rats of equal fitness swam for considerably lengths of time. Some of those poor animals continued swimming for an average of 60 hours before capitulating to exhaustion, and yet, other rats sank and died almost immediately.
It was as though, after fighting for 15 minutes, some rodents simply gave up, while a few others were willing to push themselves to the utmost of their physical limit.
The surprised researchers speculated whether some rats were more convinced than others that if they didn’t give up, if they continued to fight no matter what, they would eventually escape and save their lives.
A good question would be: were rats even capable of having different beliefs?
What else could account for such a significant difference in achievement, especially when supposedly the survival instinct of all the rats must have kicked in?
For animal lovers, I understand that it gets worse but that is what they did.
They took more rats and rather than pushing them into the water right away, they picked up the rats several times, each time allowing them to extricate themselves free. After a few times, they became accustomed to such handling so the rats were then placed in jars, blasted with water for several minutes, then removed and returned to their cages. This mechanism was repeated multiple times. Finally, you guessed it, they were put into the jars for the sink or swim test.
None of those rats were going to make it, unfortunately, but at least a lesson was learned from such a cruel experiment.
When the rats were thrown in each jar with water, none of the rats showed signs of giving up. They swam for an average of more than 60 hours before becoming exhausted and dying.
Most of you will feel uncomfortable describing rats as having “beliefs”, but having previously escaped from their captors several times and having also survived blasts of water, they must have believed that they couldn’t only endure abhorrent circumstances but break free of them.
Their experience had taught them that they had some control over the outcome and perhaps, that rescue was just a few minutes away. Of course, it never happened and one by one each of them died.
The big lesson here for human beings is that when the rats thought they had a little bit of control, or when they had hope that maybe, just maybe, they could be saved, they wouldn’t give up.
When human beings lose control or they perceive they have no control or when they lose hope, they will stop fighting, they will stop trying to survive.
What determines whether a human being will give up or not?
Personality psychology concerns the nature of human nature. It answers three general questions: 1. How and in what ways are we all alike? 2. How and in what ways are all different? 3. Why do we as individuals do what we do?
So, why do some of us give up rather quickly versus some of us that don’t until we reach our goals?
Why do some leaders have the ability to think strategically while others don’t?
Why do some leaders have the inability to develop good working relationships with key stakeholders and others do?
Why do some leaders have the ability to build and maintain a team and others don’t even know what a team is?
All of these reasons are rooted in personality and even from rats we are able to learn quite a bit about human behavior.

In life and especially in sales, you need to know when to shut up

In life and especially in sales, you need to know when to shut up
A very prominent psychologist once said that “we are always in danger of telling others more about ourselves than they are interested in knowing”.
There is a well known story in the venture capitalists world about a conference in which a brilliant young inventor had to explain his latest invention to some of the venture capitalists attending that convention precisely to find projects in which they could invest in.
As you may imagine, the minds of these investors were open since they were there precisely to listen to intelligent people who had brains and worked hard but had no money.
This was a very important meeting for this young inventor, it was his big chance, his opportunity to get his story across and influence this group of people with the money and the connections to buy and then manufacture his invention.
Shortly before 2pm, it was the inventor’s turn to present. He started off by dwelling on the exhilarating conception, the painful birth and all the money he had to spend so as to develop the idea he was presenting.
He then went on and on, drawing complicated charts on a flip chart and a lot of numbers and formulas.
After about two hours, one of the venture capitalists exploded. He told the inventor that they had been patiently listing for more than two hours about his scientific adventures, all the difficulties he had, every single hole he had gotten himself into and how he had come out every single time. And even after two hours, they still didn’t know what the invention was about and what problem would it solve for consumers.
The inventor said that he would eventually tell them but that he thought it was important that they knew about all the obstacles that he had to clear in order to be standing before them that afternoon.
One of the investors couldn’t take it anymore and told him, “look, people are not interested in processes. People are interested in results. People will never know what you have been through and what’s more, they couldn’t care less”
He told him that everything that happened to him had to remain within himself especially when he had to present the idea to other people. He taught him a very important lesson that we must all learn very well in today’s business world.
People only care about what a product or service will do for them. In other words, people care about the benefits of a product, not its features.
Very funny but very true is what the three time all star baseball pitcher and then coach Johnny Sain said: The world doesn’t want to hear about the labor pains,” he said. “It only wants to see the baby”.
Even though this young inventor didn’t realize it, he was a guy trying to make a sale. If you think about it, we are all salespeople because we are always trying to sell something. We are trying to sell our products and services, but even people who are not in sales, are trying to sell their ideas, their methodologies, their ways of doing something.
A janitor in a company is not a janitor; he or she is a salesperson. It just so happens that someone has to clean the bathrooms. The president of that company wants that janitor to tell other people what a great product or service their company has instead of describing how he cleans the bathrooms.
In some of my conferences, before I start, I ask how many people in the audience are in sales. Only the salespeople raise their hands. Then I tell them that everyone should have raised their hands because we are all salespeople.
Leaders must be excellent salespeople because they need to sell their ideas to others and persuade them to follow or get out of the way.
For those of us that are extroverts, it is much harder to shut up and keep quite. We simply like to talk quite a bit, especially me, since I earn my living by talking all the time. But we must not forget that we must listen more than we talk, especially if we want to sell something or convince someone to act.
Asking the right questions and listening carefully for the answers is the most important skill that leaders and sales people must possess.

What do you do after you fail is what will determine your future

What you do after you fail is what will determine your future

I have just arrived at Casa de Campo, in La Romana, Dominican Republic. There is a world outside Casa de Campo and another world inside Casa de Campo.

When you go inside that beautiful resort, you see some of the most beautiful houses in the world. It is a huge place and you go everywhere in a little golf cart. There are golf carts everywhere and you rent them for $29.00 a day. I find it a very steep price, but since there is no competition, that is the best I can get.

I am attending the wedding of my friend’s daughter who in turn has been my daughter’s friend since they were kids in kindergarten.
About 85 people are here, must from Colombia, Miami and San Juan with a lone young lady from Amsterdam.

The first activity is in a beautiful house down two houses from Sammy Sosa’s house in Bahia Minitas.

We were the first to arrive and since there wasn’t anyone there, we went into the kitchen to say hi to the cooks and waiters working the party. I start a conversation with a young man and we start talking about sports. I tell him that I attended the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic in 2003 and he tells me that he participated. He was the fastest man in the Dominican Republic and he ran the 100 meters. He then tells me that he had two false starts and was disqualified. In other words, he spends years training very hard for that race and he doesn’t even have a chance to compete because of a false start.

If he had raced and he had won or at least gotten a medal, I doubt that he would be serving tables and working as a waiter. Obviously, he gave up and didn’t continue competing and since he didn’t win, he couldn’t benefit from lucrative contracts or a career as a celebrity.

I haven’t met a great successful person that hasn’t failed not once, but many times in life. Failure is part of success but it will always depend on how you handle it.

Hayley McGregory in 2004 finished third in the backstroke event, .7 seconds from first place. That means that she didn’t qualify for the Olympics in Greece. She was devastated.
She finished third in the 200 meter backstroke by .54, less than one second also.

Hayley went back into training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

She was given the opportunity to represent Great Britain since she is also a British citizen and in that team it would have been much easier to qualify since it is a weaker team.
Her answer was NO. That would be a sign of weakness and she was determined to make
the US team.

In the preliminaries she broke the world record in the 100 meter backstroke and qualified for the finals.
That night, in the finals, she came in third, this time by .2 seconds.
In the 200 meters backstroke, you can imagine, she came in third.
She had to watch the Beijing Olympics in the television set.
Four times in eight years, she has come in third and missed the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.
What is Hayley doing now? She is training for the 2012 Olympics in London.

This young lady hasn’t given up! No matter what happens in the 2012 trials, she will always be remembered for her persistence. In fact, if all else fails, she can become a motivational speaker because she has a heck of a story.

This young man, failed in one race and he gave up. He now is a waiter taking care or people and waiting for a tip.

But what is very important, is that he had a choice. Just like Hayley had the choice of quitting or of continuing to race, this young guy had a choice to continue training and trying to win a medal.

Remember when you were a teenager? You probably couldn’t wait to grow up. I bet you fought for freedoms and privileges that come with adulthood didn’t you? “Mom, please, treat me as an adult”, “why do I have to go to bed so early”? “Don’t you trust me?” “Let me borrow your car”, “I need to make my own decisions”. This is natural and it happened to all of us.

But then, something happened. You grew up (chronologically I mean since some have not grown up at all, go to our legislature and you will see what I mean) and you found out that with all those freedoms and privileges you were fighting for, come a bunch of responsibilities. Many more rules to follow, not less. Very soon, the world was holding you accountable for your actions and your results.

Well, here is the way the world works: Unless someone is pointing a machine gun at your chest, every action, every thought you hold is your choice. This is true in your personal life and in your professional one. You choose how to behave, how to conduct yourself, how to work within a team, how to treat your clients and even how you react when others provoke you or because you stress. You choose the level of integrity, honesty and the values you will spouse while at work. You will become a responsible member of society or a deadbeat. You will fail many times and what you do and how you conduct yourself after failing is your choice.

The important point here is that there will always be consequences to each and every choice we make. If you make a bad choice, you will pay for it sooner or later. You might try to blame others and for a while, it may work but believe me, sooner or later everyone will catch up and the blame will fall on your shoulders. Having the “it’s the other guy’s fault” victim mentality will lead you very far away from where you want to be.
We all want to be successful. No one wakes up in the morning and says “how can I screw it up today”? I am sure that most of us wake up wanting to do a good job. If we take responsibility for ourselves and our choices we will be a step ahead. We must choose well of course, but even if we make a wrong choice and take responsibility for it, we can learn from our mistakes and most likely will not repeat it.

I am a collector of quotes from famous and not so famous people. Let me share a couple with you:

“For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?” Analyze this quote. Analyze the profound meaning of what James Allen communicated to us with these simple questions.

How about this one for those that believe that success will come without much sacrifice:
The elevator to success is out of order. You will have to use the stairs…one step at a time. Joe Girard.