Friday, September 11, 2015

911DAY Won't Ever Bring Me Down.... It'll Always Lift Me Up

It's a testament to the human spirit, this willingness to be kind, to be selfless, to want to remember the souls of yesterday and make them live again for tomorrow each and every day.

So this video says it best. Those two towers may be gone and replaced with something even grander, but thanks to our hearts, they -- and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice -- will forever be immortal.

Remember #911DAY.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Look at Lotus Cars: How Location Plays in Marketing Strategy

If there's one thing that always remains energetic in the auto industry, it's this: marketing strategy. The auto industry without a doubt is not only competitive, but a high-octane industry where trends come and go, auto selection gets efficient, and brands need to continually build just to stay ahead of the game. This includes something as simple as location.

Why Is Location so Important?

Think about it. Geography plays a role: you've got a customer base (or not); you've got accessibility (or not). If you're not in the right location, you could be sitting dead in the water. But if you're in the right location, not only do you garner a nice percentage of the market share in the business, you just might dominate!

Case in point: Lotus Cars USA.

Here's the Skinny on Lotus Cars and What They're Doing

Michigan might be benefiting very soon with a new brand taking up shop in the Wolverine State as Lotus prepares a more strategic push into the North American market, what with the new Evora 400 making its launch in December. That's right, you heard that correctly: we're going to have a new automobile brand here in the U.S. from Lotus, and the Lotus U.S. headquarters will be right smack in the middle of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good news for Michigan, among other stories in the state at the moment.

The car company originally had a home: in Lawrenceville, GA. It just so happens that the corporation already has a presence there in Michigan with their Engineering division, hence you have a streamlining of operations and centralization that should prove to boost cost efficiency.

Location, Location, Location

That's just one piece of news out there in today's auto industry information super-highway. So I suggest you get the ignition on, strap in the seat belt, and start riding. It'll be quite a journey, and the sights you'll see will be plenty interesting and thought-provoking. Go the speed limit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How a Model Financial Portfolio Can Give You Clarity

After you're done reading this, you'll be a numerical genius rivaling that of any other-worldly mathematician (not really). Why? Think of what it would be like to get to look at any financial advisor's portfolio of services; exhausting, maybe? Perhaps. That's because what you're looking at is a jumble of code only the Matrix and Neo could ever comprehend. Or if you're not the One or a massive computer-generated dream world, you're just one of the accountants for Cloud Based Bookkeeping serving the hundreds and hundreds looking to get their finances in order with excellence.

But You're Not. You're a Professional Needing the Assistance to Figure Out Which Financial Advisor Can Serve You the Best.

And do to that, you need a look at that financial portfolio, but what you need to grasp is whether or not the past accounts for said advisor were managed with simply algorithms over and over again, or some complex strategic initiative tailored to the client. In other words: is the financial advisor treating the account as a unique situation? Is every client considered a special case deserving specific attention?

That would be the unique selling proposition for a game financial advisor trying to win new clientele over for not just tax planning, but other stuff as well. When consulting customers, that's what an advisor would do -- show up a portfolio, not because a specific number would work, but because the advisor can get a little creative, maybe even a little ambitious with trying to nurture success, growth, stocks, bonds, residual income, and other streams of revenue.

We're Talking About Some Serious Financials

There are truthfully a lot of questions to ask when consulting with a financial advisor. This, though, undoubtedly is the killer question, separating the amateurs from the pros in the business. Ask for that portfolio; let them show you what they've got. Or not. Or at least show you that there is no spoon.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Yes, You Can Have Your iPhone Charging Station by the Microwave Now

Shouldn't we all be wireless by now? Hasn't technology advanced so much that we can call people with our brains, a microchip built in to target Wi-Fi waves? I'm getting impatient with that, people! I want the goods when it comes to electronics and technology, like Tron and the light cycles. Greetings, program!

We Just Might Be Seeing Something Close to That Wireless Technology, Though -- Right in Homes

As far as real estate trends for 2015 go, the one common theme we've seen year by year is that we want a trend to emphasize convenience. Ease of use. Expediency.

Think laundry chutes, mud rooms, and attached garages. A home that makes life in general that much easier is quite the selling point for any buyer looking for a place to live. Remember that. For this particular trend in the real estate market, though, we see quite the benefit for many moms out there (and perhaps some dads) that want to ensure their smartphones get charged no matter what without having to pull the charger out of the wall and carry it like a security blanket.

Let's say you want to cook dinner. Your spouse, though, is on the way home, and you want to contact him/her to ask if he/she can pick up another gallon of milk. Oh, maaaaaaaaaaaaan.... Phone's dead. So now you have to get downstairs to where your charger is, plug it in, wait for it turn on, all while your noodles are about to burn on the stove and cause a fire.

Then your spouse shows up along with the fire department. And you're covered in soot. It's not a pleasant situation to be in.

Is It Any Wonder That We Like This Idea of a Charging Station by the Microwave, For Example?

Thank God, though, that the fire department showed up. And perhaps maybe Superman could make a pit stop and get the cat out of the mud room or laundry chute for you! All in all, you're a happy camper, avoiding a disaster, all because you have a built-in space in a corner of a kitchen specifically designed to charge digital devices.

This makes sense with Wi-Fi proliferation and the compactness of those devices, doing away with the home offices and separate spaces dedicated to keeping the electronics in order. Mobile devices have now become much more mobile than before.

So plan on seeing this trend making waves in home design. The busy homeowner appreciates the convenience.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

7 Best Motivation Proverbs to Get Your Project Going

Sometimes that handy Post-It on your computer screen with the catchy saying will be enough to propel you through a tough project and get you finished long before your 8-hour shift at the office is up. Blog writers, too, love those notes -- in fact, writers in general love motivation! Nothing beats facing a 10K word-per-day quota, and writer's block creeping up on you as you feel the motivation slip away without any hope for Linkin Park to save your day. Or maybe perhaps you can call on Dr. Seuss to lend a hand with your SEO projects? You'll do anything to keep you going.

Thankfully, this may be enough: these quotes, words of wisdom, proverbs standing the test of time and always improving your productivity. To go one step farther, though, we'll break them down for you, making it clear. Because that's all we really need, right? Clarity. Like crystal.

"Men's Best Successes Come After Their Disappointments." -- Henry Ward Beecher

Simply put, don't be afraid to fail. Be motivated to screw up. Thank the lucky stars for being a failure. That gives you the opportunity for redemption, and there's nothing sweeter.

"Do Not Wait to Strike Till the Iron Is Hot; But Make It Hot by Striking." -- William B. Sprague

Be active. Tenacious. Tough. Ambitious. Set the trends. Take a risk. Think beyond the box (or better yet, just toss the box completely!).

"Motivation Is a Fire From Within. If Someone Else Tries to Light That Fire Under You, Chances Are It Will Burn Very Briefly." -- Stephen R. Covey

No one can motivate you but you. You are your greatest cheerleader. You're also your greatest critic. You pick which one you'd rather be!

"Success Is Not the Key to Happiness. Happiness Is the Key to Success. If You Love What You Are Doing, You Will be Successful." -- Albert Schweitzer

Please don't ever choose a job based on the prospects of high salaries, bonuses or industry trends. The bottom line is if you'll hate the job, you most likely won't last long in it. Always find something you love to do, because you know you'll do it well. And ultimately you'll profit from it.

"Desire Is the Starting Point of All Achievement, Not a Hope, Not a Wish, But a Keen Pulsating Desire Which Transcends Everything." -- Napoleon Hill

Hoping to be a Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist won't get you anywhere. That's putting too much faith in the world, gambling by chance and daydreaming. It's all well and good, but if you don't have the desire to pursue that dream, you just won't get anywhere!

"You Can Have Anything You Want If You Are Willing to Give Up the Belief That You Can't Have It." -- Robert Anthony

"I can't" never could, basically. Your ability to direct your path via your own voice is absolute. If you say you can't have it, you won't. No matter how much you want it.

"Great Spirits Have Always Encountered Violent Opposition From Mediocre Minds." -- Albert Einstein

Lastly, the great scientist said it best: people will disagree with you, especially if you have an ambitious thought, or idea, or prospect. Don't be discouraged. Expect it. Face it. Embrace it. And prove them wrong.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Unlock Your Power of Persuasion Better Than Obi-Wan Kenobi

I'll be honest: I worship Star Wars. The methodology is timeless. Some of the quotes are even more timeless and appeal to our better sense of positive nature as human beings from a philosophical standpoint, as those fools out there are not as foolish as those who follow fools. Thank you, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope, and you've definitely nurtured my personal development in ways only a Jedi Master can, but even you don't have all the key skills, say, an FBI agent or even Jack Bauer could have when it comes to persuasion and negotiation.

For starters, though, using a Jedi mind trick or two would be mandatory in a lot of cases, even when involving credit repair! You can take Kenobi's teachings farther, though, by considering this important mantra:

You Must Change People's Minds Before They Say "NO"

What does that mean? Simply put, you can -- like any FBI agent -- read someone's minds, not through the will of the Force, but by reading body language. Simply observe a person's mouth and know that whenever lips purse or pucker, or even round out, you're looking at someone who has already formed a decision before actually speaking it out loud. Even better, that person's decision is a resounding NO. And that's something you don't want to hear when negotiating or persuading someone, such as in a job interview, or a business meeting, or even a sales conversation.

Here, though, you have a tremendous advantage, like when you say that these are not the droids you're looking for. You already know what a person thinks before they actually say something. Now the trick is this --

You Have to Change That Person's Mind Before They Actually Say Anything!

It's not as easy as it looks. But perhaps with the help of a light saber, someone might be persuaded. Let's say, though, for argument's sake, you don't have one. What do you do? Keep pushing your pitch, emphasize benefits, counterattack any objections before they're ever addressed. After all, the reason why a person says 'NO' has to involve specific concerns or objections, so it's important to know what they are and address them immediately.

It's important to know this fact, though: you have to get all this out before the person says anything. And I mean anything. Changing what a person thinks is a whole lot easier than changing what a person says. Once it's said, out in the open, you're engaged in an uphill battle. That person's 'made up his/her mind'.

A Jedi Feels the Force Around Him

Move along. Again, I repeat: these aren't the droids you're looking for. So says Kenobi. Luke Skywalker certainly learned well and became a Jedi like his father before him, and you can be the negotiation expert like your mentors before you as long as you realize that your key advantage is changing a person's mind how?

Before they open their mouths.... Impressive. Most impressive.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why It’s Awesome That Michigan Schools Are Fostering Talent for the Brewing Industry

What? A degree in making beer? Is that for real? Well, yeah, in a way, it is. No joke, but very soon it seems as you may be pursuing a degree in a Central Michigan University campus or even Ferris State, you just might have the opportunity to target a Bachelor of Science in industrial chemistry, which -- when you think about it -- plays a very integral role in the brewing industry, thereby in one facet promoting education with collaboration.

This Isn't Just About Brewing Beer, Though

Typically, brewers were at the heart of a Bohemian revolution, immersed in the romanticism that is brewing, which is not unlike the same feeling you get when you make wine. Makes you want to get a cabin out in the middle of one of Traverse City's many wineries, and enjoy some summer sausage and cheese while you're at it!

Believe it or not, brewing beer is a true science and apparently many educational institutions out there in Michigan are recognizing that:

  • Central Michigan University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • Michigan State University
  • Lake Michigan College

Now instead of the art of beer brewing as an inexact method of trial and error being the standard, education's putting their best foot forward to make this art form into a scientific study as well, emphasizing innovation, engineering and sustainability.

Give Me More Hops

And bring the nachos. Too bad we're already past the Super Bowl. At least we have next year, and by then, I'll have my Bachelor of Science, and I can brew my own beer efficiently.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“That’s Beyond My Ability!” (How to Sabotage Myself From Accomplishing My Goals)

Picture a prison, people. It's small. It's dingy. It's dark. As you lay there in the darkness, you mull over the sad affairs in your detest and despair of the world, wondering when it will all end, when your agony will perish in the flames of mercy as you look for something to hold in your hand as you end it all before anyone outside the cell can ever experience the satisfaction of watching you squirm.

Not fun, right? Here's the funny thing, though -- sure, you're sitting there by yourself, and you want to get out of there, but what you don't realize is that you're safe, you're presumably healthy, and off in the corner of the shadows is a slot machine with the same three symbols to hit every time you pull the lever, releasing millions of dollars, plus a hammer and chisel for you to pick your way out and buy a ticket to the Bahamas --

See What I Just Did There?

I expanded my imagination. I thought above and beyond what was currently my situation. Sure, this is a bit of an exaggeration, as you'd be hard-pressed to find any slot machine in your jail cell, let alone a slot machine that can puke out a hammer and chisel for you to go all Shawshank Redemption, but regardless, you've achieved something monumental --

You've effectively changed your outlook. You did it all without anyone helping you. Admit it: if you were that prisoner, you'd smile just a bit, and that makes all the difference.

Let Me Be Clear: Self-Confidence Starts From Within

Again, though, I exaggerate to prove a point. The worst thing you can do when facing adversity is to simply say that you've got "no chance." That your limitations will make it easy for you to say NO.

When you think about it, we limit ourselves all the time. Why? Why limit ourselves? Why not take a stab at it and build our self-confidence as shown here by expanding our expectations, transcending what we think we can accomplish? It's worth a shot....

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Key to Good Brainstorming: Question EVERYTHING

If you've ever studied Leonardo da Vinci and his genius mentality, you'd know one of his great mantras ever was to question everything in life.

Question society. Question the world. Question yourself. Question religion. Question philosophy. Question people. Question nature. Be skeptical. Be challenging. Ask the hard-hitting questions like a journalist on acid, and people will bend, sway and follow your tune like they're rats and you're the pied piper.

This Spurs You to Always Keep a Journal on Hand

When you do that, this is what happens: it forces you to take notes. It forces you to log in questions. Don't worry so much about getting them answered, though, quite yet. Don't even give yourself a deadline. Simply answer the question and let it simmer in your journal like a pot of stew, merging the flavors slowly and letting it seep into your nostrils.

That way whenever you're in a pow-wow or a conference with X amount of people, you can either have that journal on hand (or locked-away questions in your head), and you're prepared to stimulate the thinking in ways that can only be explained as genius. Like you're a new Leonardo da Vinci.

Hence a Brainstorming Session Isn't About You Carrying on the Conversation

When you ask certain questions, you'll get certain answers. You'll get everyone thinking about something. You'll inspire. That gets results. That develops new trends in action plans for whatever business or focus you're in. You're not leading any conversation that way; you're simply encouraging others to help in leading.

Effective Brainstorming: It Involves Everyone

See how simply questioning everything can draw everybody in? Take note then as we end here: the ultimate goal of any brainstorming session is this -- involve your team. Get them thinking. And the way to get them thinking is simple: ask as many interesting questions as you possibly can.

Flipping Houses: Don’t Be Daring, But Smart With Real Estate Investment

I won't lie to you: flipping houses can be risky. Actually, it is risky. You can hit it big, though, if you know what you're doing, know the market like the back of your hand, and have been at it for a good number of years. Stellar negotiation skills, too, would help tremendously.

You Do Need Some Cash in Your Pocket for the Real Estate Investment

So recognize the risk there when it comes to real estate investments, particularly of the more upscale properties. You're basically paying for something that might not sell. Are you okay with that? If yes, great. If no, okay. The good news is you have a market that's saturated with high demand for rehabbed homes. Just look for the markets where the prices are climbing. Your chance of finding a buyer willing to make an offer to recoup your investment just might be good.

Watch the Real Fixer-Uppers, Though.... Don't Fall Into the Money Pit

The problem many flippers have, though, is the fact that some renovations just get way over their head. There are numerous problems:
  • Deadlines
  • Additional Costs
  • Extra Manpower
And it's like quicksand. You have a goal in mind, but the house is so far under that you end up spending more than you had budgeted out, and before you know it -- you're way too high in the market, and you'll never find a buyer worth the green. It's not a pretty situation to be in.

Instead, Be Strategic, and Look for the "Cosmetic Fixes"

Ugly ducklings don't have to be ghastly geese. If the cosmetic repairs won't cost a whole lot (not cheap, of course, because you want it done right and well) and, more importantly, can be done quickly, congratulations: you've found a flip that most likely will result in substantial profits for you.

Just make sure the comparables in the neighborhood and the market itself shows an increase in pricing, because you will have no doubt that real estate agents for buyers will view the numbers and ensure that those individuals make the best offers.

Do the numbers, subtract your selling and buying costs, contractor expenses, and always figure in your profit margins at 15% to 20%, and you'll have a clear idea of what you're looking at -- within deadlines, without headaches, and with happy thoughts -- well before your flipped house goes on the market.

That being said.... It's easier said than done! Although, I'll say this: you're up for the challenge, aren't you?