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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Don’t Let Yourself Be “Chris Matthews-ed”

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Chris MatthewsA large part of influence is believability. Believability inspires trust. If you are believable once, you’ll get a shot at being believable again. If you are not believable just once, however (especially if it’s someone’s first exposure to you), the chances are excellent that you will not be considered such from that point on.

I recently witnessed a person make a somewhat dogmatic statement during a discussion. When asked to cite his source he began to hem and haw. When further pressed he grumbled something or other and got mad at the person who questioned him. Whether his statement was right or wrong, his lack of even basic source knowledge made him…unbelievable. In this case, “UN-believable” was not a good thing. :-)

The incident immediately brought to mind an interview conducted in May, 2008 by MSNBC TV Hardball host, Chris Matthews. In this segment, one of his guests was Los Angeles-based Radio Talk Show Host, Kevin James. As James began to bring up British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain’s well-known appeasement of Hitler during the lead-up to World War II, Matthews asked him to explain what he meant. In other words, how exactly did Chamberlain appease Hitler?

Beginning at 4:10 of the video and all the way through the 7:05 mark, James danced around the issue. Matthews, of course, refused to let him off the hook. Finally, it was determined that James wasn’t able to cite anything specific, most notably the infamous Munich Agreement.

Now, does that mean that Mr. James was wrong? Not at all. Chamberlain certainly did appease Hitler. And, if you listen to that part of the interview, James wasn’t incorrect in anything he said.

However, the fact that he couldn’t cite an example of this appeasement — one of the most famous in history — simply took away any type of credibility he might have had with Mr. Matthews’ audience.

Personally, being a Libertarian and believing in both free minds and free markets, I certainly don’t agree with most of the political ideas Mr. Matthews advocates. Nor do I enjoy his communication style. He’s an interrupter who at times can even be insulting.  But, you know what else Mr. Matthews is? He’s very intelligent; he’s very sharp. And, he’s not about to let someone get away with “not backing up their statements.”

I learned a hugely important lesson from that interview: to never place myself in a position where I can be “Chris Matthews-ed.”

In other words, if we’re going to make a statement of fact or attempt to persuasively advance our idea, we need to not only know what we’re talking about, we need to be able to communicate that we know what we’re talking about. Especially, if pressed to do so.

Of course, I believe we should do this with tact, kindness and respect for the other person, even if we do not agree. Part of being able to do that effectively is knowing — really knowing — from whence we speak.

Your thoughts?



Very soon we’ll be re-opening our Certified Go-Giver Speaker Program to 12 more speakers. We limit it to 12 so that each new Speaker can receive the attention and teaching they need and deserve and be ready to hit the ground running in their business. Want to be alerted when we re-open? Visit www.GoGiverSpeaker.com.

Seeking The Ultimate Freedom

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

FreedomIn the final sentence of one of her recent daily emails, Esther Hicks wrote:

“You are determined to be freedom-seekers in a Mass Consciousness society that is determined to make you the same.” 

What a powerful statement, and on so many levels!

In the context of her entire message, she was referring to internal freedom.

Yet, we can think about why physical, personal and economic freedom/liberty (what my favorite magazine, Reason would call “free minds and free markets”) is such a high ideal.  The more freedom one has individually, the more prosperous and happy will be the society.

Yet, society, by its very nature, seeks to conform the individual.

While we cannot control society (even if we could, that would simply be another form of mass consciousness control Mrs. Hicks referred to) and we should not try and control other individuals, we can control ourselves.

In his classic, Man’s Search for Meaning, Nazi concentration camp survivor and psychiatrist, Dr. Viktor Frankl considered choosing one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances to be the highest level of freedom; the last of human freedoms. The one type of freedom that could never be taken.

So long as we do that, we can — to paraphrase the title of one of Harry Browne’s most famous books — “find freedom in an unfree world.”

The Only Possible Way To Profit…

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Harry Browne The Secret of Selling AnythingRecently, on my Facebook page, I posted:

“Profit is a reward for satisfying the desire of someone else.”

~ Harry Browne, The Secret of Selling Anything*

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? And, it is. But it’s something many don’t realize. Yet, in a free-market based economy, that’s what it all comes down to.

If we desire to have a healthy and profitable business, we must please the marketplace of consumers we serve.

This is why Free-Market Capitalism, to the degree it is allowed to exist, by it’s very nature actually benefits the consumer even more than the business person. After all, it’s the consumer who ultimately makes the decision. And he or she says yes only if they value owning the product or service more than the money they are being asked to exchange for it.

Thus, only those business people who are focused on pleasing the consumer will have that healthy and sustainably profitable business.

As Harry said, the secret of success is:

“Find out what people want and help them get it!”

And, to do this, the successful salesperson must recognize that — when it comes right down to it — it’s all about the consumer, not the salesperson.

Your thoughts?


* This magnificent book was published posthumously from a manuscript written by a hero of mine and a treasured mentor, Harry Browne in 1966. It may be ordered in paperback form online via The System Press or directly by telephone at 1-845-757-5037. Or, you can order the kindle version at Amazon.com.

“Conscious Capitalism” GREAT Book, Just Mistitled

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Conscious Capitalism book coverFirst things first: The book, CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM: Liberating The Heroic Spirit Of Business is outstanding. As a case study on why companies that honor all of their stakeholders and not just their shareholders actually do much better financially than those who don’t, it’s terrific! As a look at how companies can create an enthusiastic and happy team, ultra-loyal customers, and feel great about the value they provide, it’s amazing!

John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, along with Dr. Raj Sisodia, Bently University marketing professor and author of Firms of Endearment, show why the companies they call “Conscious Companies” simply do better.

But, that’s just it. It’s really about conscious companies. Putting the modifier before the word “Capitalism” simply furthers the incorrect premise held by so many that Free-Market Capitalism, in and of itself, isn’t good enough. In other words, the title implies that for Capitalism to be “legitimate” it needs to have a word like “conscious” in front of it. ARRGHHH!

Now, if the author (here, I’m referring to Mr. Mackey, as it’s written in his voice) really believed that, there could be a respectful debate on the topic. However, that isn’t the case. He is a believer and noted defender of true, Free-Market Capitalism. (Chapter One is even entitled, “Capitalism: Marvelous, Misunderstood, Maligned”.) He even makes the distinction a number of times between what’s often called “Crony-Capitalism” and Free-Market Capitalism.

{Note: I often say that I wish the great defenders of Free-Market Capitalism, such as Mackey, as well as one of my heroes, John Allison, would stop using the term, “Crony-Capitalism” as it only serves to confuse people into thinking that it is a legitimate form of Capitalism. It is not. Crony-Capitalism is to Capitalism what Chinese Checkers is to Checkers; Nothing! Instead, it would be much more accurate to simply call it, “Cronyism.”}

Even Bill George, the iconic former Chair and Chief Executive of Medtronic, Inc., who provided a glowing Foreword, wrote: “In these pages, they call their version conscious capitalism. I consider it just capitalism, as it is the only authentic form of capitalism.”

The authors begin by discussing the benefits of pure Capitalism as “the greatest system for innovation and social cooperation that has ever existed.” And, they are correct. Capitalism creates an environment where the citizenry lives longer, healthier, happier and more financially prosperous lives. Even the poor in a mainly free-market based economy are much better off than those in countries not based on such.

But…the term, “Conscious Capitalism.” This is the name of Mr. Mackey’s and Dr. Sisodia’s organization, and this book is one excellent manner in which they are spreading the word.

Their intent is more than noble, but I believe the name is counter-productive. Free-Market Capitalism works for everyone living wherever it exists. Entrepreneurs create value for the marketplace. They and the buyer voluntarily exchange financial value for the product or service. Both parties come away better off after the exchange than they were before.

The profit enjoyed by the company can be invested in expansion which results in more employees. This allows for more value creation. The employees have money to spend with other companies that, as a result can expand, hire more employees and create more value for the marketplace. And on and on and on.

When entrepreneurs are left free to operate with minimal interference from government, abundance and a booming economy results. There are enough jobs for everyone who wants one, and sufficient charity for everyone who truly needs it. No, it’s not Utopia. However, it is so, so much better than any other economic system. (Of course, protecting the citizenry from force and fraud are indeed legitimate functions of government. Creating unnecessary roadblocks, red tape and unfair advantages through cronyism are not.)

Capitalism does not need to become more conscious. Literally, it cannot; it is simply an economic system.  However, those who want to operate successful companies within that economic system do indeed need to be more conscious in the way they do business, if they want the resulting benefits. As the authors magnificently demonstrate, those companies with a higher purpose than simply financial, and who honor all of their stakeholders; employees, customers, suppliers, community, the environment, etc., actually make substantially more money than those who don’t.

Please understand, there is nothing theoretical about this; the evidence is abundant. Throughout the book, the authors cite a number of companies and provide many very specific examples. And, of course, Mackey has run his company exactly as he describes in the book and the proof is in the pudding (though, in his case, it would be a very healthy pudding). :-)

It’s really a tremendous book. I’m so glad I read it and had the opportunity to benefit from it.

And, in my opinion, it would have been so much more accurate to have titled this book, Conscious Companies or something similar.

That aside, whether you are a solo-preneur, have just a few employees, or the leader of a huge organization, or believe that one day you might be at the helm of any of the above, the wisdom in this book will put you nine steps ahead of the game…in a ten-step game.

The Financial Meltdown – What Really Caused It?

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure book coverSince our country’s housing and financial crisis occurred, I’ve often felt like Don Quixote tilting at the windmills of public opinion and belief.

Not only have I claimed the meltdown not to be the result of Free-Market Capitalism or having had anything to do with it whatsoever; I’ve provided many an “amateurish” explanation, as well.

So, I was delighted and ecstatic to hear that one of my heroes; John Allison, had just come out with a book on this very topic.

It is entitled, The Financial Crisis And The Free Market Cure. This is an absolutely fascinating look at what really caused the crisis and the thinking/action needed to get us back on the road to liberty and abundance.

Important: This is not about Democrat versus Republican or Conservative versus Liberal; it’s about why free minds and free markets work (if, by work, one means abundance, prosperity and a higher standard of living for all) and why government — when operating outside its legitimate functions of protecting its citizens from force and fraud — does not.

Ask Most People What Caused This Crisis

If you were to ask most people today the main cause of the housing and financial crisis they would answer something like, “unfettered Capitalism”, “deregulation” or “not enough government oversight.” And, as Mr. Allison proves with compelling yet easily-understood facts…they couldn’t be more wrong.

Capitalism? Hardly. That such a large number of people believe it to be the cause in the first place is not only a shame, but perhaps the biggest problem of all. After all, it’s difficult to defend a concept when you don’t understand it and cannot define it. Capitalism is *not* the same as “corporatism”, “cronyism” or, as it’s often called, “crony-capitalism.” (Actually, Crony-Capitalism is to Capitalism what Chinese Checkers is to Checkers…NOTHING. But, I digress.)

There was a high degree of cronyism — not Capitalism — which led to the crisis.

Deregulation? Not one bit. It was not deregulation but horrible — as the author accurately terms it — “MIS-regulation.”

And, it was a huge amount of interference from the government and the government-sponsored entities that operate with government’s full force and backing. The Federal Reserve, several presidents, congressmen, government-sponsored entities, regulators; they all had a huge hand in this monstrosity that took place. And as usual, the fix was more (and all-too-similar) government solutions to the government-caused problems.

Mr. Allison lays it out for the reader in a very logical and easily-understandable fashion.

What Are The Author’s Qualifications for Writing This Book?

That the Harvard Business Review named him one of the decades top 100 most successful CEOs is certainly a nice shot of credibility. More importantly, however, during Mr. Allison’s tenure as CEO, his bank grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets. And, they were hugely successful during a time when many banks failed spectacularly.

This was accomplished via rational, long-term thinking, a desire to provide exceptional value to customers, employees and shareholders alike, and by acting from a base of uncompromising values.

Key Point: It is interesting to note that BB&T did not participate in sub-prime lending, choosing to write only conventional mortgages.

Having learned of Mr. Allison several years ago and watching some of his lectures, my expectation was that the book would be enjoyable to read and with great knowledge, information and insights that would never be gained from listening to the usual experts. It is that, indeed!

The bonus, however, is that anyone who wants to learn how to become a principle-based leader and a hugely successful individual, both in business and in life itself, can gain a TON of wisdom from reading and studying this book.

But, that is simply the bonus. What this really is…is one’s opportunity to understand why the crisis really happened. If you are already a believer in Capitalism but not sure where to separate fact from fiction regarding the financial crisis, you’ll love this book.

If you tend to want to believe that Capitalism is the enemy and that big government is the friend of the poor, I ask you to read the book, even if you choose to read it with total skepticism. That’s okay. But, at least read it. Then, come to your own conclusion.

I believe this book is a Masterpiece!