First, I hope everyone who’s celebrating whichever holiday you believe in has a good one.
I have two friends I’d like to talk a little bit about today. Both are very successful people, both are millionaires a few times over.
My one friend is a really interesting case. He has a Ph.D. in Nursing. He owns a hotel, two restaurants, two buildings, two houses in the same city, another house in Mexico, and two other businesses. He might have another house somewhere; I’ve never asked. He works hard and he plays hard. He travels all over the country and lives in hotels most of the time. When he goes on vacation, it’s not to resort cities like Cozumel for relaxation. He vacations hard; he takes 3 week trips and goes to places like the jungles of Costa Rica and Vietnam, or rides rickety trains like the Orient Express into places like Mongolia and many of the former USSR countries. He’s a very engaging guy, very knowledgeable, but sometimes doesn’t know how to turn it off and just relax and talk about other things.
My other friend is actually more interesting, if that’s possible. She was born in another country whose name is no longer known by most people, and came to America with little money and a couple of little kids. She’s had two businesses that made her wealthy, and is now in real estate, where, despite all the troubles the industry had last year, she actually made out very well and had a multimillion dollar year. She has houses in multiple states as well, and is another person who puts in tons of hours working. She also pays for a life coach, very big dollars, who she talks to every day because he holds her accountable for everything she does. And for the most part her work day, every day, runs from 6AM to 9PM.
These two people are driven, that’s for sure. I like both of them; I just don’t know that I could be like both of them. Sure, I want to be rich, but I also kind of want to do it on my own terms. I don’t mind hard work, but I’ve found that, after many years of working a lot of hours for others, that I need a bit more work/life balance. Both of these people are exhilarated by what they do, but I have to tell you the truth; just thinking about it makes me tired.
It begs the question I asked in the title; how far are you willing to go to be successful? In a weird way, I guess I should talk. I’ve been working for myself since 2001, and there are days when I put in 18 hours on the computer. In January and February of 2009, I was working on a project that consumed 20 hours a day, and in one stretch I didn’t go to bed for two days, trying to complete the project on time. I got paid well for that, but I knew that wasn’t a pace I’d ever be able to keep up for long periods of time.
At the same time, there are also some major compromises that one sometimes has to give up to be that kind of successful. I’m not one who genuflects well; I need the same kind of respect that I’m giving, or else I’m out of there. After all, I’m an incorporated business; I’m legitimately the CEO of my company, which has multiple divisions. No, I’m nowhere close to millionaire status, but by title and by having given my own version of sweat and blood to the cause, I feel that I’m at least the equal of anyone else I meet, financial background notwithstanding.
Now to you; how do you answer this question on this Sunday that’s so special for so many, while also being the 42nd year of the assassination of Dr. King?
By the time most of you read this, I should be on my way to New Jersey for almost a week of consulting for a hospital system in the area. This is a big deal to me because it means that the chains are finally off the wallets of some hospitals, now that the health care bill has been passed, and that most of them have some kind of idea of what their monetary situations are as it pertains to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
As I look at health care, it makes me wonder whether the economy is finally starting to turn around for the better, after about 2 years of horrible financial distress around the world. Actually, that’s not quite a true statement. I don’t wonder about it at all because I think I know the answer, and I’d like us to discuss it to see if I’m alone in this thought.
What I think the answer turns out to be is “no”. Here are some reasons why I say that.
1. Unemployment in the United States is around 9.7%. It’s remained there for the last two months, which means it hasn’t gotten any better, but it hasn’t gotten any worse. I’m not one who believes if you’re not falling further behind that you’re actually making progress.
2. Housing is still in the tank. Real estate people are saying that things are getting better because foreclosures are starting to diminish. I’m sorry, but if foreclosure rates were around 40% a month for awhile, and now they’re down to 22%, to me that doesn’t mean things are getting better, just that there are fewer properties for banks to foreclose upon. Home sales in general aren’t getting all that much better, home prices are still way down, and banks are trying to inflate the prices of some homes by withholding how many foreclosed properties they’re putting on the market.
3. Banks are closing at a higher rate than last year at the same time. There were around 140 banks that were closed last year by the Federal Reserve, the highest number since 1990. As I wrote on my finance blog last week, we were at 37 bank closures before Friday (that’s usually when you hear about more banks being closed), which was 16 ahead March 28th of last year. Also, all the large banks that had received bailout money from the government have paid it back, but more than half of those banks are recording losses ever since they left. That doesn’t bode well for anyone.
4. And that’s only in the United States. British banks are in trouble because the American banks are in trouble. Most of you heard about the problems in Abu Dhabi as they thought they’d be able to build forever without having any extra cash, investors, or clean water, let alone building everything on slave labor (no, they don’t like talking about it). Foreign investments are having problems as well, and let’s face it, the Chinese market is killing all of us because they just won’t open up; Chinese leaders, communism is dead and dying!
5. Credit. I’m talking about all of it, or the loss of it. Remember when you used to get 3 to 4 credit card offers a week? For about 8 or 9 months I stopped getting any, and now I’m getting one a week, for my business, and that’s it. Banks have learned the wrong lesson. They were giving a lot of credit to people who didn’t deserve to have it, or as much as they gave out, and they got burned. They got burned because they generated a lot of revenue that’s not real money, and when people were suddenly out of work and couldn’t pay, even collection efforts couldn’t save banks because all that money, which they turned around and invested, wasn’t real.
Now they’ve decided they’re not giving almost any money out, even to people with high credit scores, which I’ve already deemed are worthless. There are people with high credit scores being turned down for loans; that’s a shame. And let’s not even talk about how people are being cheated as it comes to their credit cards, even with the new legislation. Once again, this isn’t just in the United States.
Those are only a couple of reasons why I don’t believe the economy has turned around. I could go into a litany of things, but this should be enough to get a discussion going. Yes, some things are finally starting to turn around for me, but I never use myself as a gauge for how things are going for everyone else. What say you?
In my post talking about my online goals for 2010, I got a quick request from one of my readers who has never written a comment as far as I know named Connie Baum. It’s always great to hear from people who enjoy what you have to say, and she asked me if I could write a guest post for her, which I did entitled Watch Out For Internet Marketing Scams. I hope you check it out.
Then I asked Connie to write a guest post for me, since her blog is all about internet marketing, so she’s created this post for us. I hope you enjoy it.
Creating a blog post for someone whose work you admire is akin to being a child, visiting a classroom where the teacher places you at the front of the room to introduce yourself. You think you would rather be having a root canal at that moment. You are embarrassed; you are not sure what to say. You feel certain that the friend who brought you to school is biting his lip and wishing his mother hadn’t MADE him bring you.
Internet marketing is the reason I have been closely following Mitch and ‘I’m Just Sharing.’
There is something endearing about every post he makes. I aspire for my blog posts to call people to action the way Mitch’s do. When Mitch extended the invitation for Guest Bloggers, I raised my hand and ‘Teacher’ called on me. I’m looking forward to reading what other Guest Bloggers have to say, for I fancy I can learn something from every post. The trick of course, will be remembering what I learn and implementing it properly.
The mother in me is compelled to admonish all internet marketers, including Mitch, to do two things and in the proper order. Remember, kids, I’m Just Sharing. Grin
1. Take very good care of yourself
2. Take your marketing work very seriously but don’t take yourself so seriously.
Health and wealth walk hand in hand. If you lose your wealth but have your health, you can recover and resume. But if you lose your health, you also stand to lose your health as well. Doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, now, does it?
With a nod to #1 and taking good care of your body, let’s address how important- no, critical-it is to eat well and wisely; to remember to move away from the desk from time to time to move and play.
If you are fortunate to work at home where there are children-or fun loving adults, for that matter-you can schedule recess time! Go out of doors, jump rope, run, walk, turn cartwheels! Do whatever it takes to get your heart rate up and pop a sweat. Then you will be ready to go back to business and resume the creativity and discipline of work.
Your body needs water to keep all your cells functioning optimally, so keep handsome pitcher of water close by. Drop a wedge of fresh lemon in it to make it more tantalizing. And don’t be fooled into thinking that anything wet counts as water because if there is anything in the water, it isn’t really water any more. Don’t rely on coffee and other caffeine loaded beverages because those will dehydrate you and literally shrivel your brain.
Another facet of self care is to reward yourself for meeting your online goals. For example, when your new blog makes the first page of Google, you are entitled to have lunch at your favorite eatery that day. Or, you might have added 100 new names to your new list of subscribers. This calls for a hot chocolate break with your spouse or significant other! You need to figure out what floats your boat and use those things to motivate you. Some popular rewards include scalp massage, nail care, pizza, fresh flowers; new socks. You probably have your own list of what trips your trigger.
Let’s address item #2, taking your business seriously. If you are new to internet marketing, I would offer that a good coaching program would benefit you. You will learn skills you did not have previously and you will network with others who will enhance your journey.
I would also remind you of the recess idea from item #1. Being completely silly and operating with abandon for brief periods of time will increase your creativity and make you far more productive. “Do use discretion,” she warned.
Read other people’s blogs with sincere interest. Comment intelligently, adding value to their site. Interact with the bloggers; get to know them. Attend every live event you can and take copious notes whenever you are on a conference call, webinar or brainstorming session with others. Partner with others to capitalize on one another’s strengths; offer added value in any way you are able to help others.
It has been an honor to present my ideas through Mitch’s blog. Here’s hoping some value was added to your life, even if it did not shake the earth.
I thank Connie for this wonderful guest post. Here are her blogs for you to check out when you can:
I’m not going to lie. I love finding free stuff on the internet. If it’s applications I can use that will handle little stuff for me, it’s all good. If it’s information that I’m looking for, even better. It’s not that I’ll never pay for anything, but I find most of the time that the free stuff addresses my specific need and nothing else. Most of the time that suits me just fine.
I also recognize when I have to be realistic and pay for something. Depending on what it is and how much it is, I will look around for a bargain. But sometimes there’s only one place, or one way, to get certain information. if I need it bad enough, I’ll pony up the cash and get it done.
Sometimes it’s us who are giving away a lot of free stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but every once in awhile we have to look at what it is we’re giving away, how much of it we’re giving away, and whether it’s time to start charging for at least a portion of it. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve started out establishing that you’re doing a lot of things for free.
Such is the case with my Medical Billing Answers site. Many of you know that I’m also a healthcare finance consultant, centering on revenue cycle issues. That’s charge capture and billing for most of you. Anyway, I set up that site to try to give information to people in terms that were fairly easy to understand. I add articles to that site from time to time also.
I actually created the site for people who wanted to learn some things about insurances and the like and to get some information on how medical billing works as far as getting their bills paid. I also said that I would answer medical billing questions, one per customer, for free.
What ended up happening is the people who were asking me questions were people in medical billing. And some of the questions they were asking was some pretty technical stuff. I had answers for everyone, but sometimes I had to do a bit of research. That didn’t trouble me all that much; however, when more of them wanted me to provide links to prove that my information was correct, I figured that was the last straw, so to speak.
About 8 days ago, I decided it was time to go for a paid model as far as answering questions. I set it up on my consulting services page that I would now answer medical billing questions for a fee, $4.50 per question. I would also entertain as many questions as people had, as long as they paid for it, which obviously was a change in the business model. And, while I was at it, I set up a monthly consulting fee that I don’t think is overly high and is a pretty good deal for smaller hospitals or physicians offices that don’t the money to bring in a high priced consultant to help them out.
Then, while I was at it, I figured it was a fairly good business model to add to my business website also. After all, if I can provide consulting services and stay home, all through email, and can get enough people to pay my monthly fee, why not take a shot, right?
So, how have things progressed thus far? First off, no one has paid for anything, but it’s still early, and we had the holiday. As a matter of fact, I figure that all the bad stuff I’m going to mention can be blamed on the holiday week, so I’ll probably have to check the stats after another week to see how things really are. Anyway, second, I haven’t made a penny since last Monday, and this is my biggest Adsense money making site. However, my consulting services page is also the 5th visited page over the course of the week, which means people are at least looking at it. And they’re reading it, as they’ve spent an average of a minute and 55 seconds on it.
How about on my business site? My new consulting services page was the 8th most visited page for the first week, and people stayed there an average of 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Now that’s a bit of overkill if you ask me, but in my mind it’s telling me that people were at least thinking about it, even if they didn’t pull the trigger. Maybe it was because of the holidays; I can only hope. Since I only have Adsense on a couple of pages on my business site, I didn’t expect it to bring in any money.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to make money from your specialty. I can honestly say there are a few blogs I visit where I know they have some stuff that they should probably be charging for. Not everything, of course; I’d never charge anyone for reading my blog, like Garry Conn did at one point for certain posts (I’m not sure if he’s still doing it, but it looks like he’s started accepting comments again, and he has good stuff so give it a look). But I have been asked why I’m charging for my webinar when many people use theirs as freebies to help promote themselves. And I answer because I didn’t give a fluff presentation of nothing to entice people to pay big money for something later on, I gave real information that people could immediately use and thus I charged for it.
It can be a struggle in deciding what, and when, to start charging for certain things. If any of you have tried it, or have thoughts going to a paid business model of some sort, please share them, because I think it’s something valuable that many people should think about every once in awhile.
Officially I’ve been in Reno over 168 hours, so that counts as a week. I thought I’d get some impressions down while they’re still in my mind. This is an “I’m Just Sharing” post, and not an internet marketing post, so if you’re not up to being entertained by a story, stop reading here and come back tomorrow morning, when another post is already scheduled to appear, and a guest post at that.
I talked already about the time issues I’ve been dealing with. Those remain, but I’m starting to get more acclimated to it; not really. I’ve just figured out how to do it my way; but I’m jumping ahead of the story.
When I arrived in Reno, I found the same thing I found in Las Vegas many years ago; there are slot machines in the airport. All over the place, mind you, though I didn’t use the bathroom so I can’t confirm or deny that one. I guess they want to put it in your mind that this is the thing to do; it’s probably the reason most people come to Reno. I got a great rental vehicle, a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe, red mind you, and it’s been great.
The first thing that strikes you about Reno is the same first impression you get of Las Vegas; it’s really brown. That’s what life is like being in the desert. However, Reno is surrounded by more mountains than Las Vegas, the Sierra Nevada Mountains to be more exact. There are actually residences on the mountains; that just freaks me out. Everywhere you go, you can see the mountains. A few of them have snow on them, not because it snows all that much here, but because it’s so cold up there that when they get their little bits of snow, it sticks around. Reno has a total of 26 mountain summits and peaks; that’s something else. The picture above is what I see out of the window of my hotel every day; neat, eh?
There are also a goodly number of casinos here. I’ve counted 10 thus far, and if there are more I won’t be finding them, or looking for them. If I get on the main highway to where I work I pass 2 casinos, and there’s one that’s one block away from where I’m working, and it’s connected to two other casinos. I learned that they’re now all owned by the same corporation, which explains the arrangement. If I go a different way, the back way so to speak, I pass three other casinos, though it takes a little bit longer to get to where I work. But not much; I’m in a pretty good way with where I work and where I’m staying.
I’ve mentioned brown, and I’ve mentioned casinos; at that point is where the similarities between Las Vegas and Reno end. The image of Reno is much different from the reality of Reno.
In the other post, I showed you the famous Reno sign. What I didn’t mention is that, because of the economy, the area where that sign resides isn’t as active as it used to be, even on the weekends. During the week, the casinos are fairly dead.
Where I’m working is downtown Reno, as are the casinos, and one day last week I walked over to one of the casinos to eat lunch at one of the buffets. I was amazed at how easily I could walk to the casino, as there wasn’t a car moving on what’s supposed to be the second busiest street in town, and very few moving on the busiest street. There weren’t many people in the casino, and I walked right up, paid my money, and was immediately seated at a buffet; that just doesn’t happen in Vegas.
It doesn’t often happen at the casino where I live during lunch time or dinner time. The place where I’ve played poker has only 9 tables in the poker room, and the three times I’ve been has never had that room full; that’s shocking to me. Even today, a Saturday, four of the tables weren’t in use most of the day, and by the time I left, they’d closed another table. That’s shocking to me, but I guess the people who live in a casino town aren’t the ones who’d be going all that often. So, parts of Reno are suffering because the economy is killing the number of visitors.
Reno is also set up for lots of shopping. There are all sorts of malls around the city, though nothing downtown, which seems to fit a pattern I’ve seen in many other travels of mine. I’m within range of a bunch of them, though thus far I’ve only gone in one direction, which leads me to the places I want to go. The cost of groceries is higher than where I live also, but I’m not sure if that’s a thing out this way or if it’s specific to the town.
My hotel is great, but I’ve had a problem here and there. I finally had to turn on the heat on Wednesday, and the smell was horrible. Like most smells, you get used to it when you’re in it, but the minute you get out of it and come back, it’s horrible once again. The water in the bathroom area was also messed up. I was brushing my teeth and went to rinse, and I noticed the water was hot. So I turned it further to what I thought was the cold water and it got hotter. I turned it all the way to the other side and it was also very hot. I’d never heard of a water problem where there was no cold water, which was the reverse problem I had in my hotel room in Chicago back in October. Because of those two issues, Friday night I was moved to a different room, now on the 4th floor by request, where the view of the mountains is better and the problems that existed are gone.
There is one more problem I’m having, though I’m not quite sure which problem it is. I’ve developed itching all over my body, and it’s either attributed to the sheets on my bed, or the very dry air here. You don’t tend to think about dry air when it’s cooler, but they haven’t had any precipitation in this area in a very long time, and none is predicted at least for another week, and I’m just not used to that.
Sounds like an odd thing to complain about, but my skin is also drying out, and when a black man’s skin dries out, this thing called “ash” makes us look,… well, we don’t look good. I tried putting the hotel’s lotion on parts of my body, and other than my hands, the rest of my body seems to be saying “are you kidding; that stuff isn’t going to work on me”. It absorbs into my body and nothing changes; the oddest thing I’ve ever seen.
I’ve noticed that I’m drinking lots of bottles of water at work, though I didn’t think about it until today, and in the hotel I’m always drinking something, but then I did that at home so I hadn’t really noticed the change there. The women down at the front desk said they’d ask someone to put older sheets on my bed, but that was before I changed rooms, plus the hotel’s only been open, as of today, seven weeks; just how old could the sheets be? After talking to my wife earlier in the day, I’ve bought something called Eucerin, which is supposed to both moisturize my skin and help stop the itching; we’ll see how well it works, as it’s a very uncomfortable feeling.
The diabetes news is that, for the most part, it’s holding its own. I had one really bad day where I just lost my mind and ate lots of stuff that just isn’t good for me, and it jumped drastically high. I have to be more careful about that, but I’m not used to the availability of some things I really love where I’m working, some of it things I haven’t seen in years where I live.
That’s not even counting the groceries I bought Wednesday night, as I’m staying in a Homewood Suites, which means I have a kitchen where I can prepare some of my own meals. If my wife was with me, we all know I’d have purchased much different stuff, but it still might have come to more than $100. The price of food here is more expensive than at home, as I mentioned before; lucky for me, I had it, but we’ll get back to that part later on. Today, being Saturday, I prepared my own brunch, and right now I’m cooking something to eat for a very late dinner, as I forgot to eat earlier; oops.
To get this out of the way, this is a pretty good consulting assignment. Everyone has been extremely nice, and the first week I’ve even made my own impact on things, as I’ve been able to get some folks to do some things they’ve never thought of doing before. Once again, I’m the only American black person in a position of leadership, but Reno’s demographics at least make sense with that one.
he time thing I talked about I’ve solved by doing something that would be considered as unconventional by most people, but hey, this is me. I’ve started staying up until at least 1AM, which would be 4AM at home, and since I usually sleep 5-6 hours, I’ve been able to stay in bed until at least 7AM. I don’t think I can continue in that vein for long, though, because if I have problems sleeping, like I did Thursday night, it makes for a miserable tiring day, and I was quite miserable Friday, and having a high glucose number in the morning didn’t help matters much. It came way down by the evening, as I took care of how and what I ate during the day, but the headache started around 10AM and didn’t go away until very late Friday night, just before I decided to go to the casino.
The final piece I’m going to talk about is the poker playing at the casino. This is for Khaled, who’d asked me to give an update from time to time on my poker games, though I may not be talking about it all that often.
I went Monday night, which was unexpected, and I ended up coming back to the hotel up over $650. Friday night, when my headache finally went away after changing rooms and eating something, I decided to go again. When I finally left that night, I had added another $305 to my winnings. Then today, I went again, after working on another business project for almost 5 hours that I had thought would only take 2 hours, and I didn’t play as well. I lost about $400 of the money I’d won, but that means I’m still up over $500 since I’ve been here. I’ve had to eat, and I bought those groceries, but my money is holding up really well otherwise, and I get paid after this week, so life is looking pretty good.
Except for the meal I just made, which tastes terrible. It was a can of Chunky Soup, a brand we have at home but not this particular kind, and I don’t like it; oh well, I’ll just eat something else, since I have the food here. Anyway, that’s the story of Reno from my eyes, and I’m going to be here a long time, except for the two weeks during the holidays. My wife is having fun at home without me; guess I haven’t made myself indispensable yet. I’m going to have to work on that.