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A View that Leads to Bigg Success

watchBigg success is life on your own terms. Our focus today is growth, one of the five elements of bigg success.

We tend to avoid information that’s not consistent with our beliefs. There’s been a long-running debate between psychologists:

Do people actively avoid contradictory information or is it a more natural process? For example, it may be that we don’t hear opposing views because we hang out with people like us.

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Some new research [PDF] (led by a psychology professor at the best school in the world, the University of Illinois) has answered that question.

If you seek opposing views, you’re in the minority

The research confirms that people do avoid ideas that disagree with their own. They did this study to “see … to what extent people are willing to seek out the truth versus just stay comfortable with what they know.”

The researchers found that two-thirds of us choose information that supports what we already think. However, the more interesting part of their research to us was this:

They found that two types of people are more likely to listen to alternative points-of-view:

People who are confident in their own beliefs

We were out with a friend right after we read this research. The timing was perfect. She’s very politically active – politics is one area the researchers cited that we’re particularly reluctant to consider the other side.

Our friend told us that she no longer subscribed to a certain magazine. She said that she found she always disagreed with their point-of-view. After further discussion, it was clear that she’s not confident in her opinions.

If she had confidence in her opinions, it wouldn’t bother her to read the other side. In fact, by reading the other side, she might gain confidence in her positions. Or she might change her mind, but be more confident in her new opinion.

The best way to confirm your opinion is to continually test it against all the information available. Talk with people who hold counter opinions. Read everything you can. Try to balance opinions on all sides of an issue before arriving at a conclusion.

Even then, continue testing that opinion with any new evidence you find, both pro and con. Then you’ll have confidence in your opinions.

People who have to defend their ideas in public

It’s interesting that the researchers cite the much-maligned politicians here. Politicians constantly have to defend their point-of-view.

They serve as an example to us. Don’t keep your opinions to yourself; defend them.

We should point out two things here:

  • You have to be careful discussing certain subjects with certain people.
  • We’ve talked about things here in very black-and-white terms. Obviously, many if not most issues are full of grey. That’s what makes for interesting discussion!

When you do discuss your ideas, you will hear other points-of-view that you can synthesize with your own. Your ideas will sharpen and grow. So will your confidence in what you believe.

That’s bigg success … as long as you agree with us!

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Thanks for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we’ll discuss what we can learn from cats about communication. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00438-071609.mp3

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A Costly Cost Cutting Measure

cutting_costs.jpgBigg Success is life on your own terms. Today, we’ll focus on one of the five elements of bigg success – money.

We’re all looking for more ways to save money. That’s understandable. However, we need to think about not just survival, but “surthrival.”

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Many business owners and managers, small and large, are cutting back on their advertising. This cost-cutting practice can be very costly in the long run.

Could not advertising cost you $1.5 million?

A McGraw-Hill study, about the recession in the early 1980s, found that companies that maintained or increased their advertising had sales 256% higher three years after the recession ended.

Think about that … two companies, each with a million dollars in sales go into a recession. The company that holds tight on its advertising, or perhaps even increases it, will do over $2.5 million within a few years after the recession ends if the second company, the one that cut its advertising, treads water.

Signaling the end of your business

A recent study by Ad-ology found that 56% of the people surveyed thought that retail stores that cut back on advertising must be struggling.

In other words, your advertising sends a “signal” to both your existing and potential customers. Just like a company cutting back on its dividend, you’re telling the public you don’t expect your future to be bright when you cut back on advertising.

The signal is so strong that 15% of the people surveyed thought it meant that the firm who cut back on its advertising wouldn’t be in business much longer.

The time – money trade-off

One of the other elements of bigg success is time. If you’re a regular here you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:

If you don’t have money, you have to spend time. It’s part of the price of bigg success.

So if you really feel the need to cut back on how much money you spend on advertising, it will pay to spend more time promoting your business.

That means networking

Depending on your business, you may primarily build relationships offline or online. However, you will probably be well-served to do both. Integration is one of the keys to success in business today.

If you have employees with down time, make good use of it. Tell them that you want to keep spreading the word so you all surthrive.

What you ask them to do will also depend upon your business. You may have them put out door knob hangers or give away free samples of your product. Perhaps they can make some phone calls or send e-mails to your list of customers.

Where to place your focus

We stated it subtly in that last sentence. We should emphasize it – focus on your existing customers to get the best return on your investment (of money and time).

Research has shown that it costs between five to eight times as much to get a new customer as it takes to keep an existing one. So, at the very least, make sure you’re communicating with your existing customers at least four to six 6 times a year.

Find out what their problems are. Find a solution – even if you can’t solve it directly, help them find the answer to build your relationship.

The most cost-effective way to grow your business

Building relationships with your best customers is the most cost-effective way to grow your business. When you can “wow” your customers, they will …

  • buy more
  • buy more often
  • tell others

Segment & tailor

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marylynnWhile we’re talking about your existing customers, can you segment them into smaller groups so you can tailor your communications more precisely?

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georgeI used to own a heating and cooling service company. We got our technicians to note the age of the furnace or air conditioner when they were in our customer’s home or business. Then we wrote a letter specifically to this group. We generated over $300 of sales for every letter we mailed!

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This highlights another point we alluded to earlier – get your staff involved. Help them understand how it not only makes their jobs more secure, it also means you continue to grow as a company so there will be more opportunities for everybody. That’s bigg success!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss what the underlying meaning of “I don’t have enough time.” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00411-060809.mp3

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Clowning Achievements

clown.jpgIn case you’re wondering, there isn’t a typographical error in today’s title. We don’t want to talk about crowning achievements.

We saw a fantastic article in Business Week about the impact of humor in organizations. It’s an interview with Chris Robert, a management professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of a recent study The Case for Developing New Research on Humor and Culture in Organizations: Toward a Higher Grade of Manure.

Now there’s a professor with a great sense of humor!

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Chuckles and creativity are connected

In his paper, he points out that humor is a universal language. It helps us feel more comfortable with other people. It brings out our child-like nature. It’s also contagious – one joke often brings on another.

Humor is also associated with intelligence and creativity, highly valued traits in today’s workplace. Dr. Robert notes that the main theory about humor is that we often laugh when two disparate things are put together.

A theory about humor? How funny!

He states that creativity often involves the same thing – connecting the dots. This link between being funny and being creative is supported by a number of studies.

Crack a joke and keep your employees

There’s also a strong connection between humor and positive emotions. He says that numerous studies have linked positive feelings with productivity in the workplace. So if you want a higher performing team, develop a sense of humor.

Finally, he points out that the real benefit comes in employee retention. People are less likely to quit if they feel their place of work is a positive place to be.

So how do you bring humor into the workplace?

Connect the dots

As we mentioned earlier, connect things that don’t naturally fit together. Here’s an example from Jay Leno:

“It’s crazy. First we had Mad Cow. Then we had bird flue. Now we have swine flu. Do we have to check the Chinese horoscope to see what flu is coming next?”

He’s mixing a current topic in with animals and the Chinese horoscope.

Pull it back in

Bring up a topic that was funny earlier. Or maybe it wasn’t funny earlier but it may be funny now. David Letterman is a master at this. Do you remember, “Uma … Oprah”? It bombed at the Oscars, but Dave often gets a bigg chortle when he does this.

Word play

The title to this post is an example. It may not make you laugh out loud, but you might get a little chuckle out of it. Sometimes a play on words can set off a bigg laugh.

A few lessons

Share other people’s humor like we did with Jay Leno. Understand that humor is subjective. You have to know your audience. Dave’s humor didn’t fly at the Oscars.

Be yourself. You can’t force it. Some people are good at off-the-cuff comments. Others have to plan it out.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to be funny yourself to participate. Laughing at a joke connects you just as much as making one!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Please join us next time when we talk about a great way to have fun with your friends using only things you already have in your home.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00389-050709.mp3

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How the Rich Make Money

golden_eggs.jpgThe Federal Reserve recently published some new wealth data [PDF]. They looked at levels of net worth and the income associated with each. They defined net worth as total assets (including a primary residence) minus any money owed.

You need a net worth of over $8 million to make the top 1%, $2 million gets you in the top 5% and it takes about $900,000 to place yourself in the top 10%.

So those are your targets if life on your own terms means being in the top 10% or above.

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Making more doesn’t mean having more

This report also looked at share of total wealth. As it turns out, the richest of the rich – the top 1% – didn’t get richer. They still held approximately one-third of the country’s total wealth in 2007, the same as 1995.

However, their share of income was up significantly – from 17% in 1997 to 22% in 2007.

The wealthiest people in our country saw a bigg increase in share of income, but their share of net worth didn’t go up. Does that mean rich people got caught up in the “spend, spend, spend” economy? Possibly.

We often think, “If I could just make a little more money.” This study offers further proof that making more doesn’t necessarily translate into having more – even for the richest among us!

Make do, then make more

The crucial thing – the starting point – is to figure out how to make do with what we already have. Then when we make more, we’ll have more because we manage it all better.

We can enjoy some of it now and invest the rest for our future – for the life we dream of living.

How the rich make money

As might be expected, the average person gets most of their income from salaries and wages. As we move to the top 5%, we see that a larger share of income comes from business ownership and investment real estate.

It really kicks in for the top 1%. Plus they have built up enough assets to get a significant boost from selling those assets for a profit. It’s Economics 101 – buy low and sell high.

But it’s no panacea

We’ve recently seen people losing money in business and real estate. Like most things, it’s no panacea. It’s risky. But if you aren’t trying to get rich quick, you can greatly improve your odds.

The best advice

We also found it revealing that this study showed that the bottom 50% lost money holding assets and from the ownership of businesses and real estate.

The rich made a lot. The bottom half lost money. What do the rich know?

Before you jump into investing in a business or real estate, educate yourself. Get advice from someone who’s actually succeeded at it. If they’ll mentor you, that’s great. If they charge you for it, it will be worth every penny.

You’ll get where you want to be faster by learning from people who have done it rather than trying to learn it on your own.

So if life on your own terms means building wealth, get started creating multiple streams of income today – even if it’s just part-time!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Please join us next time when we ask, “Are you talking to the right person?”

Thanks for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00381-042709.mp3

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Should I Accept a Promotion

indecision.jpgWe recently ran across a study by the University of Warwick. We found it interesting that their results fly in the face of a long-held assumption.

For years, it’s been assumed that people get healthier after a promotion. Researchers postulated that people who get promoted feel more in control of their lives. They also thought these people may feel better about themselves.

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More mental strain

But the researchers at the University of Warwick found that this wasn’t the case. In fact, they showed that people who get promoted have ten percent more mental strain on average.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? A promotion often comes with increased responsibilities, increased hours, and perhaps more people to supervise.

It can place a tremendous amount of pressure on our free time. The researchers at the University of Warwick cited this time pressure as a reason that people were twenty percent less likely to go to the doctor after a promotion.

It’s life on your own terms, not the terms of your company

Our business culture tells us that we’re supposed to move up. We’re supposed to seek out opportunities to get promoted.

But as you know if you’re a regular reader, bigg success is life on your own terms. You have to decide if a move up is consistent with how you define bigg success. Nothing else matters.

It’s not absolute

There’s more than one way to move up. One person may choose to move into management. Another one masters a craft and becomes known for it. That’s moving up too!

You may want to move up, but now is not the right time. When you think of life on your own terms, think of “terms” as phases of your life. You may have kids at home and want less responsibility right now. That’s a great reason to postpone a promotion.

When the kids go to school full-time, the time may be right. You’re breaking life on your own terms down by the terms of your life.

A framework for decision-making

We’ve identified five elements to bigg success – money, time, growth, work and play. You can use the five elements to help make decisions like this one. Let’s break it down:

Money – You’ll presumably have more if you accept the promotion.

Time – You have the same amount no matter what. But most likely, you’ll have less time away from work.

Growth – Even though their sport seems like it requires mostly physical abilities, top athletes understand how important their mental condition is. We must understand that we need to look out for our health as well as our mental abilities. Besides that, a promotion may allow for a lot of personal growth or it may detract from the personal growth you really want.

Work – You may find your work more, or less, fulfilling. It depends on your goals.

Play – You’ll likely have more money to spend on leisure but less time to enjoy it.

When you know what life on your own terms means to you, it makes it easier to make decisions. The five elements offer a framework to make those bigg decisions. Think about how the five elements come into play with life on your terms and then consider how any potential opportunity affects them.

Don’t stop there!

We’ve also said that the bigg idea behind bigg success is to find synergy. You may realize that the real secret to making this promotion work is to learn to delegate effectively. That’s growth – one of five elements.

You may find that you can accept the promotion, move up at work, and make more money without sacrificing time for play. It may even involve a little more time initially while you develop your delegations skills, but you know it’s worth it because of all the long-term benefits.

Look for synergy in the five elements as you consider opportunities for even bigger success!

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So what if you decide a promotion isn’t for you? Please join us next time when we talk about how to turn it down.

Thanks for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00374-041609.mp3

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