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When A Co-Worker Bad Mouths You

We received an e-mail from David. He recently overheard one of his employees make some very negative comments about his management abilities.

He wants advice on how to approach this long-time employee of the company, who is about ten years older than David.

We have three recommendations for David:

  • Know your purpose before you start.
  • You want to have a conversation, not a confrontation. You want to find out if there is an underlying reason for your employee’s comments. Behave accordingly.

  • Report on what you heard.
  • Try to use the word “you” as little as possible. As in, “You said …” Instead, say “It was said …” You’ll accomplish far more by not backing him into a corner. Be as objective as possible so you’re more likely to have a productive conversation.

  • Role play.
  • We talked about role playing a couple of weeks ago. David’s situation is a great example of an interaction where role playing in advance is beneficial. As part of your role playing, come up with the possible scenarios. For instance, He cops an attitude This is a bad sign. However, as nicely and unemotionally as you can, let him know that you want a discussion, not an argument. Tell him again that you’re more concerned about why it was said than what was said. Keep in mind, though, that he may have become the proverbial “bad apple”. You may need to let him go. If you do, your remaining employees will likely ask you what took you so long. He denies he said it This is probably the most frustrating. Remind him that you heard it first-hand; it’s not hearsay. Ask him if he agrees with you that effective relationships, at work or anywhere, rely on honesty. If you can’t communicate honestly, it’s going to be hard to work together. He becomes overly apologetic He may have just been having a bad day and you got the brunt of it. Then move on … we all have bad days. However, it’s possible he’s not being sincere; he just wants to get you off his back now. Only you can judge that. He admits it and tells you what’s wrong This is the desired result. Hopefully, it’s the only scenario you encounter, but you may take a detour through one of the others. Regardless, thank him for his candor. Then demonstrate what a great manager you are by working with him to solve the underlying problem!

Our quote today is by Ayya Khema.

“Eventually we will find (mostly in retrospect, of course) that we can be very grateful to those people who have made life most .”

It’s difficult to see a difficult situation as an opportunity to grow. But if you do … you’ll thank yourself for it later.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss intuition – it’s not just for women anymore, you know! Until then, here’s to your big success!

The Communication Debate: E-mail, Phone, Or Face Time?

Surgeons have a number of tools available to them. They choose the right tool for the circumstances. Think of surgeons the next time you need to communicate with someone. Consider all the tools available and choose the right ones.

There are three things you should mull over before you select your communication tool.

  • Know your audience.
  • All of us have our own preferences, including the person, or persons, you plan to contact. If possible, use their favorite method to connect with them. Too often, we do what’s most convenient for us. You should make it easy for them.

  • Consider the subject.
  • Are you trying to convey a simple message? Or is it complex? Does the subject lend itself to “one-way and wait” dialogue, or would real-time two-way conversation be more productive? The answers to these questions may dictate your method of contact.

  • Think effectiveness.
  • As with any interpersonal communication, effectiveness is more important than efficiency. What’s the best way to deliver your message so it’s understood? Focus on achieving your desired result, not how fast you can get it done.

Here are some examples:

  • If you need a response, but you can wait … just e-mail me.
  • If you need an immediate response … let me hear your sexy voice.
  • You need to present a very complex idea … let me see your lovely face.
  • You want to follow-up on a meeting or an interview … just e-mail me.
  • You need to discuss a delicate situation … let me see your lovely face.
  • I’m very busy and you need to get answers fast … let me hear your sexy voice.
  • You need to negotiate a deal … let me see your lovely face.

Of course, you may determine that more than one method of contact is appropriate. For example, you might e-mail me to schedule a face-to-face meeting.

As a fallback, e-mail is great because it is the least invasive. Obviously, face-to-face is the most invasive. But meeting in person is the richest form of communication. E-mail is at the bottom of that list.

Our quote today comes from Lee Iacocca.

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get
them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

So get it right – use the right communication method at the right time for the right crowd in the right way.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at what to do when a co-worker bad mouths you. How should you confront this difficult situation? Until then, here’s to your big success!

Turn Misfortune Into Fortune: Tips for Starting Over

Last time, we talked about Todd, a young real estate entrepreneur, whose triumph turned to tragedy. Todd’s story comes from an article, in the New York Times, by John Leland, entitled A Real Estate Speculator Goes From Boom To Bust. We discussed some lessons you can learn from Todd’s misfortune.

Today, we want to go beyond the lessons and offer some advice on how to recover from a devastating turn of events.

Keep your dream alive.
Stay positive. Reach out to people close to you. People love helping people. Let them.

You should also be thankful for your misfortune. Yes, we do mean that. It means you’re one step closer to success! History is ripe with examples of people who failed before they succeeded bigg. Plan on your name being added to that list!

Here’s the first step to starting over:
Assess your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not going to repeat the past, you have to learn from it. That’s how you fail forward. Learn from it and then forget about it – move on.

In Todd’s case, it’s obvious he is a dynamic young man. His banker said he performs. That’s a striking compliment coming from a banker who has foreclosed on him. It appears that Todd is good with Operations and Sales. Management, particularly financial management, is his weakness. This is common among entrepreneurs.

You want to build on your strengths and get around your weaknesses. For example, Todd may take in a partner with strong financial skills to complement his abilities.

What if you’ve declared bankruptcy (or are deep in debt)?
We’re not attorneys, or financial planners, or anything else worthy of giving you information for your specific situation. Keep that in mind.

A successful business person referred a friend, who had just declared bankruptcy, to a banker. The bank turned him down. The business person called the banker and explained that his friend was a better risk than he was.

“How can that be?” the banker asked. “You have stellar credit.”

The business person replied, “Because if you lend me the money, I can declare bankruptcy tomorrow. My friend can’t do that for seven years.”

We’re not sure if that’s still the case, but the point is to find ways of turning your liabilities into assets. Todd has changed from a merchant-model (i.e. he buys it, then sells it), to a broker-model. Now he makes money without having to invest any capital. Brilliant!

Our quote today comes from the great Dig Hammarskjöld.

“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.
Then you will see how low it was.”

Keep climbing. You’ll find that many of your mountains were really just mole hills.

Tune in next time to see what people regret the most, according to a recent study. Until then, here’s to your big success!

Lessons Learned From A Bankrupt Business Owner

Last time, we talked about jump starting your passive income by investing in rental real estate. Today we’ll look at what we can learn from a bankrupt business owner.

We came across an interesting article a little bit ago in the New York Times. It was about a young real estate speculator named Todd.

Back in 1994, after attending a seminar on buying real estate, 20-year old Todd found a property which he bought, fixed up, and sold for a $4,000 profit.

By the year 2000, Todd, now 26, was holding as many as 25 houses at a time. He had perfected his system – making up to $15,000 on every house. Eight banks were in line to provide him money when he needed it. Todd decided to start building new homes because prices had gone up so much on the houses he was buying.

Fast forwarding to May of 2006, Todd was living the American dream at 33. He had a 5,000 square foot house that cost $1.2 million. He had a BMW and a Corvette. An inventory of 89 lots was waiting for buyers. He owned an office building. Life was good!

Now, his marriage has collapsed. Banks have taken back his lovely house; he now rents a small one. His beautiful cars are gone. He’s driving a pick up truck. He’s lost everything else. He sells beverages full-time, and brokers deals to other speculators part-time.

We applaud Todd for sharing his story. And a big salute to John Leland for this excellent article – A Real Estate Speculator Goes From Boom to Bust.

So what can we learn from Todd’s experience? Here are some lessons:

Just because a bank will give you $$$, that doesn’t mean you should take it!
Todd had a banker who did him a favor, if he would have only recognized it. She told him “no”. So Todd went to another banker who kept the funds coming. If Todd had only paused to consider why his first banker said no, he may be in less of a mess now.

When you’re living on borrowed money, you may be living on borrowed time.
Todd was highly leveraged, in business and at home. Being levered in business may be fine. Piling on to that with personal debt is a bad idea. Borrowing money is a two-edged sword – it will make you rich, or poor, more quickly.

When it comes to your standard of living, keep your standards low.
Todd had the best of everything – the house, the cars, and more. Which is fine, if you have assets that will produce the income to pay for everything. But when you’re borrowing to buy status symbols, you’re bound to wind up in trouble.

Know how you’re getting out before you get in.
If Todd had done this, he might have noticed that it was getting more expensive for his customers to buy houses. He could have shifted his business model once – find a customer, then build it. That would mean he was “out” without getting “in”.

Fully analyze your situation by considering a number of situations.
Todd did this once – he shifted from flipping houses to building new ones. He didn’t contemplate how rising prices were affecting his customer’s ability to buy his product. He failed to consider how long it would take him to sell his inventory of lots. Had he done so, he may have prevented the major disaster that happened.

Todd learned the hard way – by making the mistakes himself. Hopefully, you can learn from his mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.

Our quote today comes from Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine.

“I have had dreams and I have had nightmares,
but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.”

So shake off the nightmare and rest assured, your sweet dreams will come true.

Next time, we’ll offer some tips for starting over, for turning misfortune into fortune. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Get Real Estate

Last time, we talked about how to get started in your own business or franchise. Today we want to discuss how to jump start your passive income by investing in rental property.

You may ask why you should think about investing in real estate now. The daily news is ripe with horror stories of houses in foreclosure, people getting slammed by increases in their adjustable-rate mortgages, and others struggling to sell their houses in this down market.

Believe it or not, that’s why we think now is a great time to buy! Relative to historical norms, things are not as bad now as they were good a little while ago. We’re comparing now to one of the most lucrative markets for sellers in history! Take time to note the word “sellers” in the prior sentence.

There’s less competition for property today. It’s a buyer’s market.
That’s why we think you should buy now.

We’ll assume you’re convinced – where should you start?

Start by buying your own home.
In the past, financial planners often recommended renting and investing in other assets, such as stocks. Historically, stocks have outperformed real estate. The problem – the investing part was voluntary.

Buying a home is a commitment. It forces you to save. And if you’re like most of us, you need that “forced” part. So as you pay your mortgage, month after month, you’re reducing your outstanding debt. That’s why, on average …

… homeowners are significantly wealthier than renters.

So owning your own home is the foundation for creating wealth. Now you’re almost ready for the next big step. Remember our discussion of getting aggressively passive? You’ve found money from watching your spending and paying off debt. Keep piling that money up to prepare for your next move.

Buy your first investment property.
Your next real estate purchase may be your first rental property. Or it may be your next home. Consider moving up to a nicer place and renting out your first one.

Either way, be sure you have more money coming in than going out. Hook up with a good realtor who can help you determine what your rent should be. Now, estimate your bills – property taxes, insurance, mortgage payment, and all the others. If you don’t project having money left over, don’t buy that property – find another one!

Don’t start without a cash stash.
Owning real estate comes with its risks. For example, what if your property suddenly requires major repairs? As with any business, don’t invest in real estate unless you have a cash stash. If you don’t have one, find a partner who does. Otherwise, you may lose everything.

Our quote today comes from the Australian author, Noel Whittaker.

“Becoming wealthy is like playing Monopoly …
… the person who can accumulate the most assets wins the game.”

So roll the dice, take a chance, pass GO, and collect more than $200! It’s not just play money!

Next time, we’ll look at some of the things that can go wrong – lessons from a bankrupt business owner, who happened to be a real estate speculator. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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