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Friday, September 30, 2011

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

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10 Marketing Message Myths By Kathy Slusher-Haas

Your marketing message is a crucial piece in your overall marketing plan. Without it, you won't have a foundation for your marketing. Your marketing message is meant to elicit curiosity and stand out. Far too often, however, marketing messages are flat and gain no attention. Here are 10 marketing myths that can lead your marketing message astray.
Myth 1: Facts and Figures Sell. Wow Them With Numbers
Unfortunately, too much emphasis is placed on showing facts and figures and not enough on the emotions behind what these facts and figures mean. People decide they want to buy based on emotional factors. Are you speaking to their values? Are you hitting on emotional triggers? Do you understand the thoughts, fears and desires of the people to whom you are speaking? That is what makes people want to buy. The facts and figures help justify the purchase and will help demonstrate the value of the purchase. Value = Benefits-Cost.
Myth 2: Find & Fill a Need
While there has to be a need in order for people to buy into your product or program, the need alone doesn't guarantee a sale. One of the biggest factors in people choosing whom they will buy from is the genuine passion of the person they are speaking to. You have to truly believe in what you are selling. If you're not bought in, they won't be bought in.
Myth 3: Overcome Mental Chatter
We get over 3,000 messages a day. That doesn't include the messages we are constantly telling ourselves. You may feel as though you have to overcome that mental chatter and chatter loader and longer to get the attention of your audience. The point is not to overcome that mental chatter, but rather to tap into it. Figure out what your target audience is facing; what are the thoughts that are keeping them up at night? This will demonstrate to your audience that you truly understand.
Myth 4: Teach Them About Me and What I Do
Your marketing message is not about you or what you do. Your marketing message is about what your target audience is going through and what they desire to be, have, and/or do. What you do, whether it be coaching, massage therapy, intuitive readings, social media consulting etc. is the tool to help them achieve what they desire.
Myth 5: Get in Front of as Many People as Possible. It's All About the Numbers
You can get in front of thousands of people and not get a single client. It's not about how many people you talk to. It's about talking to the right people about the right thing. This is why it's so important to define your niche: target audience + the challenge they are facing/solution you offer. Understanding your niche will help you describe their world and what they are experiencing.
Myth 6: Spread Your Message Across as Many Mediums as Possible
One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when marketing is trying to do it all. You can't, especially if you are a solo professional. Pick 3 to 5 marketing outlets, article marketing, public speaking, teleclasses, networking etc. and own those 3 to 5 activities. Consistency is more important than spread.
Myth 7: They Need to See the Value
Yes, they need to see the value. But the emphasis should not be on THEY HAVE TO SEE but rather on WE HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE. It is our job to demonstrate the value of what we offer and justify the prices we are asking.
Myth 8: Speak to Your Target Audience as a Group
Although we are speaking to many people through our marketing messages, they should be written and spoken as though we are talking to one person sitting across the table from us. Personalize your marketing. No one wants to feel like one of the masses. They want to feel unique and special. Speak to them as though they are.
Myth 9: Don't Use Lingo
The issue here is really whose lingo are you speaking. Many industries have their own lingo. But this myth is about speaking in lingo in general. When speaking to your target audience, it is perfectly OK, if not preferable, to speak in their lingo, using their language. It helps them feel as though you are one of them and understand them.
Myth 10: The Intention of My Marketing Message is to Get a Client
Many times when I ask my clients what is your intention with this marketing message, they say to get clients. The trouble is, a marketing message is meant to be the first step in developing a relationship. The relationship will end in clients.
There are really two intentions you should focus on when writing your core marketing message. The first is what you would like your target audience to get out of it. Do you want them to feel understood and heard? Do you want them to know the possibilities of what might be? Do you want them to know they're not alone?
The second is what would you like to get out of your marketing message? Do you want them to see you as an expert or resource? Do you want them to think of you first when they decide they want to make a change? Do you want them to know you have the answer?
While these are only a few marketing myths out there, they are biggies. Don't fall into the trap of a flat, ineffective marketing message. Your marketing message is often the first impression people will receive about you and your business.
About the Author: Kathy Jo Slusher-Haas is a certified marketing and business coach who specializes in helping other certified coaches build their coaching empire. Interested in more tips to help you grow your business and market like an expert? Visit http://www.marketyourcoachingbusiness.com/Free-Stuffs for instant access to your own free Marketing Survival Guide.

10 Remedies For A Bad Day by PAUL CASTAIN on SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

1)   Give The Matter The Attention It Deserves. Whenever nonsense shows its face in my life I won’t spend time thinking about it or dwelling on it . . . I simply move on. Granted there are some things that you can’t dismiss and that’s where items 2-10 will come in handy!
2)   Try To Find Humor . . . in either the event or just think about something funny to get you laughing. Can’t think of something? Why not listen to some comedy and while you’re at it, have a comedy playlist on your i-pod for those “Momma said there would be days like this” moments!
3)   Try Doing An Activity That Requires A High Level Of Focus: My Dad used to recite poetry. The focus took the focus off the bad day.
4)   Move! Motion creates emotion because certain types of movement release endorphins which create that “runners high”. You can walk, exercise, pace or moonwalk as I often do in the offices of Castain Training Systems.
5)   Engage Your Spiritual GPS! Certain things are simply beyond us and we need all the help we can get.
6)   Say “Thank You” I’ll preface this one with a firm “I know how difficult it can be to do this” We’re saying thank you because we are about to receive a lesson in something. Whether it be in dealing with a Grade A  A Hole or a lesson in keeping ourselves calm, cool and collated as my friends in the printing industry like to say!
7)   Go through a “Gratitude Inventory” Many of us have the bad habit of taking a “Screw You” inventory of everything that stinks in our life. A gratitude inventory gets you in into a frenzy of positivity!
8)   Talk With Someone! Vent and then shift the conversation to solutions!
9)   Ask Yourself Problem Solving Questions Such As “In what ways can I _______________?” “How can I turn this around?” “Who do I know that could help or offer advice?”
10)               Think And Use The Old “Start, Stop Continue” Framework! Ask yourself “What do I need to start doing to fix this?” “What do I need to stopdoing to fix this?” “What should I continue doing to fix this?”
I help companies and individuals sell more and reach new levels of Jedi Mastery. If we aren’t working together, perhaps its time to stop putting it off and call (631) 455-2455 or email paul@yoursalesplaybook.com

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 Important Tips on Using Business Credit Cards By Pamela Williams

We often hear the advantages of using business credit cards. But the benefits you earn also depend on how well you use them. This article contains useful card tips that are especially meant for business owners like you:
1. Apply from your personal bank. Getting a card from your personal bank can give you a faster approval with your application. If you haven't yet established your business credit, your personal credit history will be used instead. Applying with bank who has had you as a client for a long time will work in your favor.
2. Don't get too many credit cards. One or two should be enough for you to use in your business. Not only is managing multiple cards difficult, it also puts you at a greater risk of bad credit.
3. Use your credit card for all your business expenses. Some entrepreneurs use their personal credit with their business purchases, but it is wise to stick with your business credit instead. Even if you're running a home-based business, it's best to separate your personal finances from your business account. In addition, your business statement of accounts will be a big help in doing your accounting tasks and in filing your taxes.
4. Use your yearly summary as reference to your bookkeeping. The yearly summary of account provided by your card issuer will come in handy in your bookkeeping tasks.
5. Use your card wisely. Just because you have a card on hand doesn't mean you shouldn't watch your spending. Make sure that everything you charge on your business credit card is really important for your business.
6. Make the most of rewards. Take advantage of the rewards you can get from your business credit card by choosing one with the right reward program. Make sure that the card you get matches with the needs of your business.
7. Distribute supplementary cards to your employees. Because all purchases charged to your business credit card will be reflected in your statement of account, you'll have more control of your employee's expenses.
8. Pay off your bills before the grace period. Usually, the card will extend up to a 21-day grace period before you incur the interest rate. To save your finances, make it a point to submit your payment before the due date to avoid the interest rate completely.
9. Check your business account regularly. Always check your business account to make sure that all the charges are accurate. Generally, credit cards provide business owners online access to their accounts, so you can check them right from your desk.
10. Avoid cash advances from your card. Cash advances are not covered by the grace period, so you incur the interest rate the moment you take out the cash. You might as well charge it to your account and pay it back before your payment due date.
About the Author: Pamela Williams is a Loan Consultant, Internet Marketer, Writer and owner of http://BusinessCreditCardSite.com, a finance company in Las Vegas, Nevada that provides support for businesses all across the US particularly with obtaining credit cards for business. Visit http://www.businesscreditcardsite.com

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

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Within Him, Without Him By DAVE ITZKOFF Published: September 23, 2011



TO the fans who thought they knew him George Harrison was both omnipresent and enigmatic. Of the four members of the world’s most famous band, the Beatles, Harrison made the least effort at being a public figure, and though he shared himself in recordings as disparate as the catchy pop of “Taxman,” the desolate strains of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and an album of spiritual chants and musicthat he produced for the Radha Krishna Temple, he could be inscrutable and distant behind it all. Even as he sang “Got My Mind Set on You,” his consciousness seemed to be focused somewhere else entirely.
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George Harrison (on his English estate, Friar Park, in 1975) is the subject of an HBO documentary directed by Martin Scorsese.

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George Harrison onstage with Billy Preston at Madison Square Garden in 1971.
To Olivia Harrison, who married him in 1978 and remained with him until his death in 2001, her husband was contradictory in different ways. He was, she said recently, her “scoundrel yogi,” who partook of the pleasures of this life while he contemplated the next one. And he preserved nearly everything he experienced, whether he was recording his first sitar lesson with Ravi Shankar or retaining fully packed suitcases from trips abroad that he kept as time capsules. But he wasn’t concerned with how posterity would regard him.
“When he used to be asked how he’d like to be remembered, he said, ‘I don’t care, I don’t care if I’m remembered,’ ” Ms. Harrison said in an interview, affectionately imitating George’s clenched Liverpool accent. “And I really think he meant that. Not in a sarcastic way, but it’s like: Why do you have to be remembered? What’s the big deal?”
These many sides of Harrison — the artist and the archivist; the mystic and the mystery — are all on display in a new documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” directed by Martin Scorsese, which HBOwill show in two parts on Oct. 5 and 6.
Though the story of the Beatles has been told in many forms before, including in “The Beatles Anthology,” the documentary, record and book series released by Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney beginning in 1995, “Living in the Material World” is a significant and substantially new take on the band and its most elusive member. It is the first film to center on Harrison, the so-called quiet Beatle, and the first time Mr. Scorsese, whose roster of rock documentaries is gradually rivaling his celebrated résumé of fiction features, has focused on the Beatles.
The three-and-a-half-hour documentary would be noteworthy simply for the scope of the material it uses to tell Harrison’s story, including previously unseen footage he kept in Friar Park, his massive estate in Henley-on-Thames, England, and new interviews with band mates, colleagues and loved ones like Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and Dhani Harrison, George and Olivia’s son.
As much as the documentary has to say about its subject it reveals an enduring kaleidoscope of perspectives on Harrison, who continues to fascinate and confound his admirers long after his death.
For Mr. Scorsese the project has allowed him to immerse himself in the life of a fellow artist who, like him, was never at rest.
Harrison’s songs “were not typical blues-based rock songs, they were different in their structure and content,” Mr. Scorsese wrote in response to questions sent by e-mail. “As a person he seemed to be always changing and moving towards one deep interest after another, whether music, meditation, movies or the restoration of the gardens at Friar Park.”
But for Ms. Harrison the film is a public unfurling of her husband’s life as well as her own, one that took her several years to become comfortable with.
On a late summer visit to the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan, Ms. Harrison, 63, was smartly attired and articulate but did not necessarily seem comfortable in the spotlight. Regarding her husband’s legacy, she said, “I have an overdeveloped sense of duty.” However, she added, “I’m not a celebrity.”
“I almost don’t want people to see it,” she said of the documentary, for which she is a producer and an interview subject. “It’s like showing everybody into your most private place.”
Though her continuing affection for Harrison was abundantly evident as she spoke, she was not blind to his past battles with substance abuse or the life he led before meeting her. Asked if she knew that a documentary about her husband would invariably require a recounting of the story behind “Layla,” Mr. Clapton’s lust ballad about Pattie Boyd, Harrison’s first wife (who later married Mr. Clapton), Ms. Harrison calmly placed her hands over her ears and began to sing, “La la la la la.”
With a laugh she said, “There were certain things that I know, with my life with George, did not define our lives.”
Still, she said, “if there’s going to be a film made about George, then the most important thing was that his essence be represented, and that’s what Marty has done.” She added: “And I know it’s truthful because it makes me squirm.”
Dating back to “The Beatles Anthology,” Ms. Harrison said her husband vowed he would do an anthology of his own. “When four people do a story,” she said, “it’s ‘Rashomon.’ ”


To that end Harrison had been saving decades’ worth of photographs, letters and memorabilia as well as footage recorded during numerous interviews or with his own cameras, in formats ranging from eight-millimeter film to digital video. But he was not able to realize his goal before he died of cancer at the age of 58.
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George Harrison, second from left, with the Beatles in 1967.

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Harrison with his wife Olivia, a producer on the new film, in 1986.
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Ms. Harrison with Mr. Scorsese in Cannes  in 2010.
Within months of his death, Ms. Harrison said, she started receiving requests from production companies that wanted to make a film about her husband’s life. In 2005 she saw Mr. Scorsese’s documentary “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan,” another weighty meditation on a different countercultural bard, and believed she had found the director to tell Harrison’s story.
In a filmography teeming with gangsters and low lifes, Mr. Scorsese has famously used rock music to stirring effect in the pop and doo-wop soundtracks of movies like “Mean Streets” and “Goodfellas.” His fanaticism for rock music has been further confirmed in documentaries like “The Last Waltz,” about the Band, and “Shine a Light,” about the Rolling Stones, though Mr. Scorsese said he did not strategize about when to make fiction or nonfiction films.
“It’s impossible for me to imagine not making films about music,” he said. “If you mean, why do you make documentaries in between fiction films, then I have to say that there’s no difference — it’s all following through from the same gesture.”
Already intrigued by the idea of a film about Harrison, Mr. Scorsese said he was won over in a meeting with Olivia Harrison where she showed him correspondence from her husband to his mother that was written when he was in his early 20s but that read like the words of a more mature and self-assured man.
“He was expressing the idea that he knew there was more to life and existence than wealth and fame,” Mr. Scorsese said. “That was a person I was interested in getting to know better.”
But getting Ms. Harrison to part even temporarily with her husband’s personal items or to speak about him on camera was another story altogether.
“I couldn’t let go of anything,” she said. “It was like: ‘We’d like to borrow a shirt. Could we have your entire wardrobe?’ ”
To accommodate her Nigel Sinclair, a producer of “Living in the Material World” who had worked previously with Mr. Scorsese on “No Direction Home,” and his company, Spitfire Pictures, set up a production team at the Harrison estate, scanning and digitizing materials provided by Ms. Harrison.
A second team, in New York, conducted its own research and sought out archival footage, while producers conducted interviews with longtime Beatles associates like the bassist and visual artist Klaus Voormann, who designed the cover of “Revolver”; the photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who took many of the earliest photos of the band; and the producer Phil Spector, who in 2009 was sentenced to 19 years to life for the murder of the actress Lana Clarkson.
Asked how the meeting with Mr. Spector was arranged, Mr. Sinclair said, “We were able to capture that interview before he was no longer available to us, which is a very euphemistic way of saying it, isn’t it?”
In other interviews seen in the documentary Mr. McCartney discusses a working relationship with Harrison that was not always an even partnership and could occasionally be contentious; the usually jocular Mr. Starr chokes up and sheds some tears; and Mr. Petty recalls a time when the excitable Harrison, who played with him in theTraveling Wilburys, showed up at his house with a trunkload of ukuleles.
Despite his supremely laid-back demeanor, Mr. Petty said that talking about Harrison on camera was an unexpected challenge.
“I’ve done thousands and thousands of interviews,” he said. “This one was particularly emotional, because that was my big brother. You don’t want to let someone like George be put into a small box, because he really was quite a person who covered a lot of ground.”
Ms. Harrison was among the last people to be interviewed, and in one of the film’s most gripping sections she discusses in detail a 1999 incident in which a man broke into the Harrisons’ home and stabbed her husband multiple times before the peaceful couple’s self-preservation instincts kicked in and they physically subdued the intruder.
“I didn’t think that should be a defining moment of George’s life,” Ms. Harrison said of the attack, “but in actual fact something really profound came out of that, and that was the reason to talk about it.”
It took about three years to edit the film, a process that continued while footage was still being gathered. Asked how he was able to direct a feature in which he could not predetermine every element to the same degree as in a fiction film, Mr. Scorsese (who was also working on the documentaries “Public Speaking” and “A Letter to Elia” during this time) offered an impressionistic response.
“Working with interviews and pre-existing images,” he said, means “patience, letting them speak.” Mr. Scorsese added: “Once one image is placed against another, once a particular song is paired with a particular set of images, you see how they interact, how they come to life. It’s something like the pieces of a DNA sequence coming together.”
Mr. Scorsese said that films like “Living in the Material World” were “no less important to me” than movies like “Mean Streets” or “Raging Bull.” But David Tedeschi, who edited “Living in the Material World” and worked previously with Mr. Scorsese on “No Direction Home,” said documentaries offered the director opportunities that even his fiction features could not.
“He can do things on these films that he can’t necessarily do on a commercial film,” Mr. Tedeschi said, whether that means not having to constrain the movie to a two-hour running time or taking as much time as he wishes to complete it.
For Ms. Harrison the documentary provides a different kind of satisfaction. Though she is also releasing a book, which shares the title “George Harrison: Living in the Material World” and contains many of her husband’s photos and letters, she described Mr. Scorsese’s film as “the definitive project for me.”
“I don’t think there’s anything more I can do,” she said. “That’s one reason I tried to just open up as much as I possibly can. You can’t do this again. Marty’s told this story. It’s a whole life from beginning to end.”
Though she remains a partner in Apple Corps Ltd., the Beatles’ company, and forever connected to the spouses and children of her husband’s band mates (whom she called “the most kind, embracing people in my life”), Ms. Harrison suggested that the documentary was closing a chapter in her life.
Having shared so much of herself and her husband in the film, she was asked, is she now entitled to the freedom to not have to keep doing it?
“Thank you very much for saying that,” Ms. Harrison replied. “You could just say that I said that.”

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? By MARK BITTMAN Published: September 24, 2011


THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli ...” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
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This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)
In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.)
Another argument runs that junk food is cheaper when measured by the calorie, and that this makes fast food essential for the poor because they need cheap calories. But given that half of the people in this country (and a higher percentage of poor people) consume too many calories rather than too few, measuring food’s value by the calorie makes as much sense as measuring a drink’s value by its alcohol content. (Why not drink 95 percent neutral grain spirit, the cheapest way to get drunk?)
Besides, that argument, even if we all needed to gain weight, is not always true. A meal of real food cooked at home can easily contain more calories, most of them of the “healthy” variety. (Olive oil accounts for many of the calories in the roast chicken meal, for example.)In comparing prices of real food and junk food, I used supermarket ingredients, not the pricier organic or local food that many people would consider ideal. But food choices are not black and white; the alternative to fast food is not necessarily organic food, any more than the alternative to soda is Bordeaux.
The alternative to soda is water, and the alternative to junk food is not grass-fed beef and greens from a trendy farmers’ market, but anything other than junk food: rice, grains, pasta, beans, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, bread, peanut butter, a thousand other things cooked at home — in almost every case a far superior alternative.
“Anything that you do that’s not fast food is terrific; cooking once a week is far better than not cooking at all,” says Marion Nestle, professor of food studies at New York University and author of “What to Eat.” “It’s the same argument as exercise: more is better than less and some is a lot better than none.”
THE fact is that most people can afford real food. Even the nearly 50 million Americans who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) receive about $5 per person per day, which is far from ideal but enough to survive. So we have to assume that money alone doesn’t guide decisions about what to eat. There are, of course, the so-called food deserts, places where it’s hard to find food: the Department of Agriculture says that more than two million Americans in low-income rural areas live 10 miles or more from a supermarket, and more than five million households without access to cars live more than a half mile from a supermarket.
Still, 93 percent of those with limited access to supermarkets do have access to vehicles, though it takes them 20 more minutes to travel to the store than the national average. And after a long day of work at one or even two jobs, 20 extra minutes — plus cooking time — must seem like an eternity.
Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald’s you can drive to Safeway. It’s cooking that’s the real challenge. (The real challenge is not “I’m too busy to cook.” In 2010 the average American, regardless of weekly earnings, watched no less than an hour and a half of television per day. The time is there.)
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The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch. “People really are stressed out with all that they have to do, and they don’t want to cook,” says Julie Guthman, associate professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of the forthcoming “Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism.” “Their reaction is, ‘Let me enjoy what I want to eat, and stop telling me what to do.’ And it’s one of the few things that less well-off people have: they don’t have to cook.”
It’s not just about choice, however, and rational arguments go only so far, because money and access and time and skill are not the only considerations. The ubiquity, convenience and habit-forming appeal of hyperprocessed foods have largely drowned out the alternatives: there arefive fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the United States; in recent decades the adjusted for inflation price of fresh produce has increased by 40 percent while the price of soda and processed food has decreased by as much as 30 percent; and nearly inconceivable resources go into encouraging consumption in restaurants: fast-food companies spent $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009.
Furthermore, the engineering behind hyperprocessed food makes it virtually addictive. A 2009 study by the Scripps Research Institute indicates that overconsumption of fast food “triggers addiction-like neuroaddictive responses” in the brain, making it harder to trigger the release of dopamine. In other words the more fast food we eat, the more we need to give us pleasure; thus the report suggests that the same mechanisms underlie drug addiction and obesity.
This addiction to processed food is the result of decades of vision and hard work by the industry. For 50 years, says David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and author of “The End of Overeating,” companies strove to create food that was “energy-dense, highly stimulating, and went down easy. They put it on every street corner and made it mobile, and they made it socially acceptable to eat anytime and anyplace. They created a food carnival, and that’s where we live. And if you’re used to self-stimulation every 15 minutes, well, you can’t run into the kitchen to satisfy that urge.”
Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around. Somehow, no-nonsense cooking and eating — roasting a chicken, making a grilled cheese sandwich, scrambling an egg, tossing a salad — must become popular again, and valued not just by hipsters in Brooklyn or locavores in Berkeley. The smart campaign is not to get McDonald’s to serve better food but to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden, or at least as part of a normal life.
As with any addictive behavior, this one is most easily countered by educating children about the better way. Children, after all, are born without bad habits. And yet it’s adults who must begin to tear down the food carnival.
The question is how? Efforts are everywhere. The People’s Grocery in Oakland secures affordable groceries for low-income people. Zoning laws in Los Angeles restrict the number of fast-food restaurants in high-obesity neighborhoods. There’s the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a successful Pennsylvania program to build fresh food outlets in underserved areas, now being expanded nationally. FoodCorps and Cooking Matters teach young people how to farm and cook.
As Malik Yakini, executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, says, “We’ve seen minor successes, but the food movement is still at the infant stage, and we need a massive social shift to convince people to consider healthier options.”
HOW do you change a culture? The answers, not surprisingly, are complex. “Once I look at what I’m eating,” says Dr. Kessler, “and realize it’s not food, and I ask ‘what am I doing here?’ that’s the start. It’s not about whether I think it’s good for me, it’s about changing how I feel. And we change how people feel by changing the environment.”
Obviously, in an atmosphere where any regulation is immediately labeled “nanny statism,” changing “the environment” is difficult. But we’ve done this before, with tobacco. The 1998 tobacco settlement limited cigarette marketing and forced manufacturers to finance anti-smoking campaigns — a negotiated change that led to an environmental one that in turn led to a cultural one, after which kids said to their parents, “I wish you didn’t smoke.” Smoking had to be converted from a cool habit into one practiced by pariahs.
A similar victory in the food world is symbolized by the stories parents tell me of their kids booing as they drive by McDonald’s.
To make changes like this more widespread we need action both cultural and political. The cultural lies in celebrating real food; raising our children in homes that don’t program them for fast-produced, eaten-on-the-run, high-calorie, low-nutrition junk; giving them the gift of appreciating the pleasures of nourishing one another and enjoying that nourishment together.
Political action would mean agitating to limit the marketing of junk; forcing its makers to pay the true costs of production; recognizing that advertising for fast food is not the exercise of free speech but behavior manipulation of addictive substances; and making certain that real food is affordable and available to everyone. The political challenge is the more difficult one, but it cannot be ignored.
What’s easier is to cook at every opportunity, to demonstrate to family and neighbors that the real way is the better way. And even the more fun way: kind of like a carnival.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Doubling Your Strengths? By learning how to exploit your "weaknesses," you can turn them to your advantage By Marshall Goldsmith

Do you believe—as most of us have been led to—that you have strengths and weaknesses? Psychologist Tommy Thomas believes something quite different: that people have only strengths. He believes that once you get hold of the idea that your weaknesses are actually strengths, you'll have twice as many personal strengths—ones not often recognized—to draw on.
Tommy was in my neck of the woods recently to give a speech to a group of CEOs, and we met at my house for a conversation about strengths. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation:
MG: Can you explain how you define a strength?
TT: A strength is a conceptual way to reduce a lot of information into a single idea. We use these ideas to identify specific related aspects of a person's ability to think, feel, and behave.
We are taught early on that those things that we are not good at are "weaknesses" and should be disguised and ignored. However, the message is confusing. It says: To be successful, we need only half of our selves—our strengths. By redefining the concept of strengths, I have created a framework that describes all of the ways that a person can think, feel, and behave as strengths.
How is it that we don't have weaknesses?
We are so used to thinking in a positive-negative framework, which is a self-limiting way of thinking. So, it's almost natural that when we think about a strength we have, we immediately start looking for a negative, or a weakness. For example, if you see yourself in positive terms as outgoing and gregarious, you might think negatively about yourself when you are quiet and less expressive. I want you to see yourself not in terms of strengths and weaknesses but in terms of opposite strengths.
How can executives be more successful by seeing themselves in terms of opposite strengths?
An all-too-common assumption that executive coaches make is that executives must reinforce their strengths—by doing—and avoid their weaknesses—by delegating. This way of thinking, however, rejects half of the executive's natural strengths. What people consider weaknesses are actually strengths they don't want to use, don't like to use, or don't see the value in using.
It's these lesser-valued strengths that actually sustain the success that comes from what people consider to be their only strengths—those things that come easily to them, that they like to do, or that they value. By re-defining all the ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving as strengths rather than labeling some of them as weaknesses, executives can feel comfortable drawing on all of their internal resources.
Give me an example of a strength and its opposite one and how an executive uses them.
One of the six strengths that people have is thinking—the ability to rationally analyze. The opposite strength of thinking is what I call risking, the ability to move into action. An executive uses her thinking strength to create strategy and craft options. If she ignores her risking strength, she would find it difficult to take any action. She would prefer to analyze and reanalyze. She would become paralyzed into doing nothing, which could be disastrous.
One CEO I worked with had been very successful using his thinking strength. When his company came into a windfall of cash some years ago, he analyzed the best ways to invest it. But he did that for two years without making a single investment! I coached him to use his risking strength to take action. He finally started making investments based on the best information he had as a result of his thinking strength.
How can your idea of strengths help executives be more successful?
Marshall, in your book What Got You Here Won't Get You There, you identify 20 habits that people must break in order to get into the executive suite. As I see it, 17 of those 20 habits stem from the exclusive use of one specific strength while ignoring the opposite strength.
That's intriguing. Can you explain?
The strength is independent risking—the ability to rely on yourself to take action, to be independent. Executives are sometimes led to believe that the opposite strength, dependent risking, or the ability to form relationships and delegate responsibility, is a weakness, so they shy away from it. When they focus only on their independent risking strength and ignore their dependent risking strength, they develop most of the habits that you wisely advise people to break.
For example, your habit No. 11 is "claiming credit that we don't deserve." Executives do this when they are stuck on their own importance, so they don't pay enough attention to others and their relationships. By shifting their attention to the opposite strength of focusing on their relationships with other people, CEOs enhance their own success.
How can you recognize when you're overusing one strength?
Pain. Simple as that. Pain is a great internal mechanism that tells us that something is wrong. And pain can come in many forms: not being taken seriously, being fired, being passed over for promotion, or losing an important account.
Many times we develop blind spots because we've felt positive about using a strength. It's like being an ice hockey player who never skates backward. He's best at skating forward but has trouble skating backward, so he never does. As he spends more time on the bench, he'll notice other players skating both ways and realize that developing more skills will give him a chance to move to the next level of play.
How can people discover how they might tend to overuse one of their strengths?
Hundreds of executives have taken my Opposite Strengths Inventory to learn which strengths they use naturally and which strengths are hidden gems. I invite your readers to e-mail me for instructions on how to complete the online inventory and get a complimentary report explaining the results.
Thank you! I love giving my readers the opportunity to try new things! I am going to do it myself. How can we reach you?
I can be reached at www.oppositestrengths.com or by e-mail at tommy@oppositestrengths.com.
Readers, I would love comments from you. What are your ideas about strengths and weaknesses?
Goldsmith's new book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There, was recently listed as America's best-selling business book in The Wall Street Journal. He can be reached atMarshall@MarshallGoldsmith.com, and he provides his articles and videos online atMarshallGoldsmithLibrary.com.

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