Category Archives: Personal

What Makes People Change?

I have a story to tell. Back in 1993, I heard that a big blizzard was coming to the area. Instead of staying in my apartment I decided to go out of town to my parents house to ride out the storm. I got there just as the snow started to pick up, and by the time it was done where they lived there were 34 inches of extra snow on the ground.

The problem is that where my parents live, as well as where I live, we already had at least 3 to 5 feet of snow on the ground. Since I was at my parents house, we had to deal with the fact that the driveway had totally filled up with snow about four feet high, which meant my car was totally covered. As a matter of fact the entire driveway was so high that there was no way we could have gotten out to the street if an emergency had happened. This was definitely problematic.

Still, Dad and I had to try. So we went out there with our shovels and we started digging. After three hours we actually made a path that allowed us to make it to the street, but it was so thin that it really couldn’t do us much good. We knew there was no way we were ever going to be able to dig out all that snow on our own. We also knew we didn’t have many options.

But something great happened. The guy across the street from my dad looked over, saw the problem we were having, and came over with one of those super heavy duty snowplows. It took him about an hour, but he was able to clear the entire driveway of snow except for around my car, which Dad and I took care of. We were very thankful that he did that for us, and that was the day we met Doug.

Doug and his family were very nice to us, and we tried to be nice to them. His daughter Mackenzie became a fan of my dad, and he would always talk to her when he saw her outside. Whenever I would visit Doug would pop over and say a few words to me, but I never really got to know him all that well. However, the day my dad passed away, as he was being driven to the hospital in the ambulance, Doug came over and put his arms around me as I cried for the first time since I was nine years old. The next day he said that he would always look out for my mother and make sure that she would be fine.

A couple years later Doug’s life changed. His mother passed away, he got divorced from his wife, and she and his daughter moved away and we’ve never seen them again. I noticed some changes in him as well even though I didn’t see them all that often. I don’t think one ever forgets what it looks like when someone may be doing certain types of drugs, and even though it’d been years since I’d seen it in someone, I knew it was there.

Then at some point some people moved into his house, and I would see these children sitting out on the front step or playing in the driveway. I didn’t get to meet any of them until the day we buried my grandmother, when I had to go over to their house to pick up some flowers that have been delivered to our house, but nobody had been home and they had been left at his house. On that day I met his new wife and one of her three children, and he seemed very happy.

Last Wednesday I went to visit my mother, and after I parked in the driveway something said to me that I should go over and talk to Doug. I still had a bad feeling about things and I wasn’t sure why. But I decided it wasn’t my place to intrude so I didn’t go. Sometimes you just can’t act on the Spidey senses if you know what I mean.

Friday night I got a call from my mother saying that there were a lot of police cars and a couple of ambulances across the street at Doug’s house. She didn’t have any idea what was going on, and she hadn’t seen anybody including the children, but it reminded her of when they took my grandmother to the emergency room.

My mother is not necessarily the nosy type, so she wasn’t about to go outside to find out what was going on. But the next day we found out. Based on the information we have, Doug’s new wife had been stabbed to death and he was charged with second-degree murder. I don’t know if the children saw anything, but at least the children were safe. When I saw his picture in the newspaper I was sad; how had things gone so wrong in this man’s life?

I wonder about the types of things that make people change so drastically. When I met him he seemed to have a very good life. His house was brand new just like my parents house. His daughter at the time was maybe two years old, and his wife was very attractive. He had a very good job as well; it was one of those jobs where if he hit his yearly quota early he could take the rest of the year off, and he had done that for a few years in a row. He seemed to be the nicest guy, always in control if a little crazy.

But strange as it seems, most of us change in some fashion as time goes on. We have certain life events that we end up taking new clues from and altering our perceptions in some way. I know that I’m more sensitive to things both personal and in the world since my dad passed away. I’ll also cry from time to time if something hits me a certain way, and for someone who went 34 years between crying that’s somewhat irksome.

But I’ve retained my integrity, and in some ways I’m less forgiving than I used to be when people violate my three principal mores of loyalty, honesty, and trustworthiness. I like to think that the changes I’ve allowed to be made in my life have not impeded the way I try to treat people. Unfortunately, even though there’s still a trial to come, I know I can’t say the same thing for Doug.

Sometimes relatively good people do bad things that are just unforgivable. In this instance there are three children who don’t have a mother and will have to find their way on their own in life. How do these things happen?

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September 11, 2011; Ten Years Later

Today is the 10th anniversary of the most vicious act of terrorism ever on American soil. Four airplanes caused a lot of people to lose their lives; three of those airplanes caused mass destruction as well. And the world hasn’t been the same since.

A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked me why we couldn’t just move on, not necessarily forget but ease on the pain and move on. I said that this is a country that honors those who were killed mercilessly, who were caught up in the madness of someone else. That’s why there’s tribute for Oklahoma City; that’s why there’s tribute for the Lockerbie airplane bombing; that’s why there’s tribute to Pearl Harbor. And that’s why there’s tribute to those killed on 9/11/01. The pain may ease, should ease, but we’ll never forget; just not in our nature.

The video you’re about to watch, if you do, are my thoughts on what happened that day and what’s happened to the world since that day. It’s a much different place than it was 10 years ago. And I also honor and give tribute to some people, and have always been thankful, though it might be selfish, that I didn’t know anyone who lost their life on that day.

You might be surprised by one thing I say in the video after you see the links, if you visit any of these links that I post. First the video, then the links, from this blog and my business blog.

Are We Ready For The 9/11 Anniversary?

September 11, 2007 – Six Years Later

8:46AM – 9/11/01

September 11, 2001 – I’m Still Mad

9/11/01 9 Years Later; Never Forget

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Hazel Beverly: 3-23-21 Through 8-25-11

At the time you’re seeing this I am in Rochester NY as the funeral is about to start for my grandmother, Hazel Beverly, who passed away last Thursday at age 90 in her sleep. I thought it was important enough to take a break to talk about her on this day.

I hate to say this, but my grandmother’s side of the family is steeped in mystery; at least for me. Just last Thursday, after she passed away, did I learn that I have Cherokee Indian blood; of all things. I knew I had native American blood in me from my grandfather’s side, but no one knew which tribe he was from. The next day I learned that my grandmother’s only surviving sibling, who we were lucky enough to track down from the airport an hour before he was supposed to be going home, had a son along with the two daughters I knew about already. And it’s not that he’s ashamed of his son; it’s just that, in general, they all come from a generation where no one talks about anything without some reason for it to come up.

That’s how it was with my grandmother, who I always felt had Dean Martin cool about her. She was unflappable, even though a life that had its ups and downs, like most lives. She just went with whatever came up, and only having one daughter and one grandson to keep up with, felt life was pretty good.

She was proud when I graduated college, seeing as how she left school in the 8th grade. She was proud to know I played piano and sang because the did the same. She thought I was the funniest person she’d ever met; I loved to try to make her laugh. She was the one who introduced me to beets, red hot dogs, biscuits and syrup, grits, green pea soup with ham sandwiches and peanut brittle.

One of those strange memories is that she used to take me to church with her when I was 10 years old, living in Kansas City. She was devout but I think she took me for the entertainment value and to get me out of the house. It was my introduction to and probably my only experience with black churches and pretty much church in general. It was interesting because people would scream out, sing out, jump up and start dancing at almost any time, and the choir music… well, if you’re not used to traditional black church beats, which are based on 16th notes rather than quarter notes when you want to get people juiced up, still resonate in my mind more than 40 years later; I never learned how to play any of this type of music unfortunately.

But my grandmother didn’t do any of that. She wore the same Sunday dress every week she went, the same hat, and she had this quiet dignity that kept her from acting out. When I questioned her about it, as we were surrounded with all these other people that were, well, really into it, she just said “Every person gets out of it what they feel they need to get into their lives”. That was it; in her mind, nothing else needed to be said.

And that’s really one of those lessons that, from time to time, I hope I learned from her. She was pretty quiet; she only spoke when she felt something needed to be said, or when I’d ask her questions. She was sharp until the last 5 years of her life, when we’d talk about the weather for 30 minutes at a time because she couldn’t remember what I’d just said to her. But her long term memory was always there until the last few months, and she told me a few things here and there that I’ll never be allowed to disclose, but helped flesh out the family history just a little bit more.

I thank you Miss Hazel, my grandmother, for my mother, for allowing us to have a place to live while Dad was in Vietnam, for giving us a great laugh and story when you got “bus left”, for my Kansas City Chiefs jacket, for my crocheted bowling ball and pin, and for just being you, steady and cool. I’ll miss you for the rest of my life.

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The Sales Seminar That Wasn’t

I preface this with a warning. This is a long story, a very long story. It’s more than 2,000 words. If you’re not into long stories then leave now and forget you ever heard of it. But if long stories don’t bother you, then I hope you enjoy it and learn from it because there are always lessons to learn from stories, right?

I tell this tale because there’s more than one lesson to learn from it, and because it’s true. It’s a story about murder, intrigue, sex… okay, no it’s not. But it is a story about misinformation, misdirection, and redemption.

A few weeks ago a young friend of mine named Mandee sent out a link on Facebook indicating that there was a sales training that was going to take place that Saturday; it was Wednesday night when she sent the link. That’s pretty quick for me to usually make that kind of decision because I kind of value my Saturdays, but I decided I would check out the link.

The person who was going to be doing the sales training was named Jeffery Combs. By the way, turns out there’s two Jeffrey Combs, first names spelled differently, and the other one is an actor who’s been on two versions of Star Trek and was also on a show called The 4400; it wasn’t him. lol

Anyway, I saw that he’s a guy who’s been all over the country giving all kinds of seminars. It also looked like there were a lot of people who enjoyed his seminars, as I saw a lot of nice things written about him, so I figured this might be okay. I saw the things he said he was going to be talking about, and I was interested in learning those things.

It was supposed to be a sales training seminar, and as I have mentioned many times on this blog over the years sales is the worst thing I have to deal with in my business. I’m a horrible sales guy; I’ll just put that out front. Yet, I’ve been able to make it this far, and anytime I can get some pretty good sales training I’m going to take advantage of it.

I will have to say this though; the Spidey senses were tingling. They were tingling because this was going to be a six hour sales training seminar yet the cost was only $30. Trust me, if you’re going to a seminar by a nationally recognized speaker and it’s only $30 you’re probably going to be skeptical as well. After all, I charged $150 for my 4 1/2 hour seminars last year on social media. But I couldn’t figure out what I could be missing, and I trusted Mandee so I figured let’s do this thing.

Now it’s Saturday morning and I’ve driven across town to the Doubletree Hotel. I think I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love going to the Doubletree Hotel because I believe they have the best cookies in the world. I looked at the schedule of events for the hotel that day and I didn’t see the sales training. I thought that was odd, but I’m familiar with the hotel so I walked through all the different training areas and office space areas, but I couldn’t find the seminar.

I walked back to the front of the hotel and went to the front desk and asked them where the sales training was. The woman behind the desk pointed to an area and said “it’s right over there”. I looked over there and saw sign that said Isagenix and asked if she was sure about it; she was.

I walked over to that area and there was no one sitting at the desk, and there was no information on the desk about the sales training, but there were people in the room and there was someone already speaking. I was still confused because it was about five minutes before 10, when the presentation was supposed to be starting, and I couldn’t believe there would be someone already speaking, and it was a woman instead of a man, which is what I was expecting.

Almost immediately someone came out of one of the doors, saw me there and asked if I was there for the sales presentation. I said yes, and he introduced himself as Jeffery Combs. I have to admit I was expecting a bigger guy based on the pictures online, but he was very warm and friendly and shook my hand. He said I was in the right place and he wrote a name tag for me and encouraged me to go inside. I opened the door and looked into the room and saw that it was packed with people, and an absolutely stunning woman was at the front talking. I stepped back and looked at him and he told me this was the right place and to go on inside and find a seat.

I slowly walked up the side and I saw where there were three seats available, one of them being on the end. I’m usually a back row guy, but if I can’t get the back row I always try to sit on the end. I sat down, took a look to my left and saw Mandee was sitting two seats away. She had her legs crossed, and her hands were holding onto her notebook, which was closed. She looked as confused as I felt. I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote a note asking “What’s going on? I’m confused.” She wrote back “I’m confused as well.”

Let me tell you about the woman at the front of the room that was talking. I did mention she was absolutely stunning, didn’t I? She was wearing a pink wraparound dress that fit her body like a glove. And she was in great shape I must say. Her hair was long and straight just about down to her shoulders. The dress itself was about midway between knees and hip, so she was showing a lot of leg. And she was wearing these shoes… well, they’re hard to describe, but I’ll just say that they were definitely modern, something I’d never seen before, and were a cross between those high-heeled short boots that you see some women wear and open sandals. Very sexy shoes indeed.

After a few minutes I realized I couldn’t see through my glasses all that well, which meant I needed to clean them off. I got up and walked to the back of the room to try to find a napkin. Jeffery saw me and stood up and came to greet me again. He shook my hand again and then he hugged me… yes, you read that right, he hugged me. I know my eyes went wide because there was another woman who was sitting in the back who looked at me and gave me a very big smile, and I pretty much figured he had hugged her as well. I told him what I was looking for, and he looked and couldn’t find a napkin but he had a towel which worked just fine. I cleaned off my glasses and sat back down.

After about 10 minutes the lady who was speaking said that they were going to take a 10 minute break and when they came out of the break Jeffery would be speaking to the group. While she was talking I started to realize that what we were participating in was actually a pep talk for people that either sold Isagenix products, which are basically health supplements and health food items (Isagenix is a MLM company), or were being recruited to become salespeople for the products. It made me wonder if they were sponsoring Jeffery’s presentation.

During the break Mandee and I talked about how confused we were, and Jeffery came over once again to shake both of our hands again and gave me another half hug and told us what was going on. The story was that he had been invited to come speak to this group because the woman who we had been watching was a coaching client of his, and she was his most successful client. So I guess she asked him to come to give a presentation to the Isagenix people to help them learn how to make sales. Thing is, he drove in from Wisconsin and he brought about 5 people with him that also all drove in from Wisconsin; I’m not even going to try to figure out how long that drive must have been.

After about 15 minutes everybody was requested to take their seats so that Jeffery could begin his presentation. At this point I knew that we were not getting the sales presentation that I expected, but I still wanted to hear him speak to see what he was going to say. Overall, he was a very good speaker, and I loved his delivery. He also told us a little bit about his history, which helped to explain how come he had hugged me and kept shaking my hand; that’s all I’m going to say about that.

He talked for almost 2 hours, which wasn’t bad except he did go over the time that they had allotted for him. He talked about a lot of concepts, but since it wasn’t the type of sales presentation I was expecting, I have to admit that as good as he was it just wasn’t what I was expecting or looking for. I also have to say that some of the sales techniques he was teaching the people in the room were things that I myself would probably never do to anybody; let me clarify that, I wouldn’t do to anybody. In my mind, they’re the kind of techniques to take advantage of a person’s weakness when they’re not ready to make a decision, and that’s probably one of the biggest things that has always kept me from even wanting to think about participating in a MLM organization and why we often don’t trust salespeople.

There was one thing he said that kind of threw me off a bit. He said that he believes every person should belong to one MLM so they can be bringing in residual income on the back end that will always take care of those the essentials while you’re making your other money. I tend not to believe that, thinking instead that if one can make some money through affiliate or internet sales that it might be just as good without all the, well, “effort” otherwise; I’ll leave it at that.

When the group finally broke for lunch I knew that I wasn’t coming back for the afternoon; Mandee agreed. So we had some time to talk to each other for a couple of hours and I learned a lot about her and her business acumen that I liked.

The next night I found Jeffery Combs on Facebook and I contacted him. I told him that while I enjoyed his presentation, overall the event wasn’t what I expected it to be. I felt that the sales flyer that I’d seen online represented something totally different than what he did and that the entire event was misleading. But I did make sure to let him know that I thought he was good. He wrote back to tell me that he was sorry for the miscommunication, that his assistant had put something up and he hadn’t checked behind her.

What he did next was unexpected; he refunded my money. I thought that was very kind of him because he really didn’t have to do that, especially since I did sit through his entire presentation and overall I enjoyed what he had to say, even if there was some things said that I would never do. To me that showed a great level of class, and is the type of thing where I would never have any problem in recommending him to someone who was looking for a sales presenter or speaker in general.

To me, there were many lessons to be learned from this event.

One, if the Spidey senses are tingling you probably know already that there’s something not right. I went anyway because it didn’t cost that much, and though I didn’t get out of it what I expected to get out of it, I did get this story.

Two, even when things aren’t great you just might find something positive coming out of it. In this case it was my having an opportunity to talk to Mandee for a while as well as to hear how another professional speaker conducts himself with a live audience.

And three, how going the extra step when you know someone feels as though they didn’t get what was expected from something you did and trying to make it right can help to instill positivity towards you and your organization. Of course, if I had spent two hours talking to somebody I don’t know that I would’ve given the money back, but he could see how the flyer might have misrepresented exactly what was going to take place.

I know this was long, but stories are sometimes like that, especially true ones. I hope you check out the link to Jeffery’s site. And of course I hope you tell me what you think of this story, and how you would’ve reacted to everything that happened.

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The 2nd Half Of The Year; How Am I Doing On My Goals?

Yup, the short break I’ve been taking is finally over. My wife left town last Thursday morning but she spent Wednesday night at a friend’s house. She’s still out of town, not coming back until Saturday, but since I’ve basically rested until, well, yesterday I figured it was time to get back to my regular schedule, of sorts. And I figure it’s a good time to see how I’ve done on my goals for this year, which I posted and talked about at the end of December.

To save some time, in case you don’t want to go back and check out that entire post, let’s see what my goals were for 2011:

1. Earn $5,000 on the internet overall.

2. Earn $500 on this blog.

3. Get this blog up to around 50,000 on Alexa.

4. Write at least two pillar articles.

5. Increase my influence through this blog towards helping other business goals long term.

How have I done? Actually, I haven’t done bad I have to say.

For #1, I’ve actually earned around $2,300 in the first half of the year. However, I’ve had a couple of affiliates not pay me so that means I’ve probably actually banked closer to $2,000. That’s still not bad, as it means I’ve probably already tied my best year of making money online and I still have half a year to go. Most of it has been made through Adsense on my medical billing site, but I’ve also had advertisers on my finance blog and my anti-smoking site.

For #2, well, I had a feeling that one might be a pipe dream anyway. Adsense took away my right to earn anything through them on this blog, although I pretty much made nothing from them in the years I had it here anyway. Since I stopped adding products with every post I took away my opportunity to make money that way. I have made a couple of product sales of my products, but I’m not sure if they were made by people coming from the links here or not so I’m not giving it any credit. So, that might be a pipe dream goal since there’s few things I market only here that I’d know for sure were responsible for sales.

For #3, I was cruising along for awhile there when Google put its Panda update through and my Alexa ranking started to tank. Right now I’m hovering around that 100,000 magic mark again, so my actual goal will be to get to at least 90,000 by year’s end at this point.

For #4, I actually wrote a pillar post, my two-part series on Better Blogging. I’m actually probably going to turn that bad boy into a small book, adding other things I’ve written to truly flesh it out, though I’m not sure when that’ll come as I have another project to work on first. At this juncture I’m not sure what other topic deserves to be a pillar post, but I really enjoyed writing that one. It’s too bad that it didn’t get the attention I feel it deserved, but that’s how it goes sometime. If the guy who inspired me to write it is correct, by this time next year it could be one of the most popular posts ever on this blog; we’ll see.

For #5, I realize that it’s not really a measurable goal so I can only think about what I’ve written and what I’ve done to see if I’ve at least taken a shot at it. And I think I have actually done it. Though I’ve yet to get a speaking engagement or any other work out of it, I’ve made a small difference in a few posts. I’ve talked about race already more this year than I have in the past, and a couple of those posts ended up being well read and shared. A couple of these posts have been shared on Facebook and got a pretty good response as well. And if I believe Post Rank I’ve had some posts do really well this year. Did they make a difference in someone’s life? Only others can really answer that one, but I know I’ve done my part.

So I still have a ways to go for some of these goals, I’m on the right track for others, and I still have half a year to tackle it all. It should be a very interesting second half of the year; I appreciate everyone who sees where it all ends. For those of you who planned some, how are you doing with your goals so far?

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