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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-naysayers.gifNAYSAYERS  July 31, 2012
Want a starting point for keeping yourself pumped up? Start by watching the company you keep. Every sales team has a grumblers' table, where naysayers gather to share stories of failure. Never take a seat at that table. Negativity multiplies and, pretty soon, failure and rejection seem normal. Begin to believe that, and soon you'll believe that there is no exit to a rosier future. Choose instead to spend your time with people who can help get you back on track.

Monday, July 30, 2012

7 Ways to Show Your Followers Some Love BY JEAN M. GIANFAGNA JULY 30, 2012

Getting people to follow you on social media is crucial to a smart marketing strategy. But as hard as it is to attract social-media followers, it’s even harder to keep them. People may “like” you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social-media platforms, but they can un-“like” you in a heartbeat, too. Your challenge as a marketer is to make it worth their while to stay connected with your company.

One of the best ways to engage and keep social-media followers is to make them feel special. Here are seven ways to show some love to your social-media followers:

Create exclusive experiences. Share product previews, videos or behind-the-scenes peeks at things non-followers don’t get to see.
Offer special discounts or savings. Give followers discounts, savings or bonuses on your products, services or accessories—offers they will see only if they’re following you on social media.
Provide first access to high-value content. Let your social-media followers be amongthefirst to access new content you create, such as how-to guides, case studies, white papers or research reports.
Award prizes. Create contests that give followers a chance to win a prize. Make entries contingent on performing a task, such as submitting a photo, sharing a tip, voting in a poll or visiting your website.
Recognize individual fans.Spotlight individual fans and followers and thank them for their loyalty. Pay special attention to followers who frequently comment on your posts, share your content, re-tweet your tweets or repost your videos.
Help fans help others. Reward your fans by tying their level of activity on your pages to charitable contributions. “Help us get X number of fans, and we’ll donate $X to a [charity, nonprofit or industry foundation].”
Surprise people with something unexpected. Delight followers with an unexpected gift or bonus: “Here’s a free gift because we appreciate you.” Everyone loves surprises.

One of social media’s great values to marketers is the ability to connect with individuals. You can build meaningful relationships with customers and prospects who follow you on social media by showing them you value their loyalty and attention.

Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-giving.gifGIVING  July 30, 2012
Start giving more. One of the best ways to build yourself up is to help others. Giving someone else a helping hand is a sure-fire way to feel needed. Every week or month, schedule some volunteer work at a hospital, nursing home, animal shelter, or anywhere else you might be needed. Spend some time helping a friend or neighbor who is ill or has other serious problems. Giving of yourself to others may help you view yourself in a more positive light and gives the people you're helping a chance to let you know just how valuable you are.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

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Want to Graduate? First, Create a Company

      

                                                                                    Sally Ryan for The New York Times
At the Chicago branch of the Founder Institute, mentors reacted to a student’s pitch for a new Web site.


By HANNAH SELIGSON
Published: July 28, 2012


CAN you build a technology entrepreneur from scratch in four months flat?

Yes, contends a global training program called the Founder Institute, which was started in 2009. For tuition of less than $1,000, students attend classes with one goal in mind: to create a fully operational company. In fact, they are required to incorporate before they can graduate.

To be accepted, students don’t need to have a fully baked idea, but they must take a test that the institute says can predict their entrepreneurial success. They can keep their day jobs while attending class, but that does not mean the program is easy. The workload is grueling, and 60 percent of the students fail to graduate.

But this for-profit institute, based in Mountain View, Calif., says it has helped start more than 500 companies. It has done so by going global, with chapters in 14 countries, in a total of 27 cities. It aims to make money partly through its equity stakes in the companies created by its graduates.

Boaz Fletcher, 44, a consultant to new companies in Israel, started the Tel Aviv branch this year. “As a country, Israel is amazing at technology, but not great at building sustainable businesses, and that is one of the things the Founder Institute teaches: how to build an enduring, stable company,” he said. The branch’s first class of nine students will graduate in September.

The institute is the brainchild of Adeo Ressi, 40, who has started eight companies of his own. Back in the mid-1990s, he was a co-founder of Total New York, an online regional city guide that was acquired by AOL.

Mr. Ressi saw a need for nurturing entrepreneurs even before the idea stage. He set out to create a vocational school of sorts to teach the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship, setting it apart from highly selective programs that often support start-ups before the venture capital stage. One of the best known of these “accelerators,” TechStars, accepts only 1 percent of applicants.

Mr. Ressi says he wants to reduce the failure rate for new companies. For every Dropbox, the popular file storage service, there are hundreds of businesses that never make it, he said, adding: “Why is that the case? And can it be fixed?”

HE came up with the idea for the institute as C.E.O. of TheFunded.com, a Web site where entrepreneurs and chief executives rate venture capital firms and investors. Through the site, he has a community of founders at his fingertips, and he was able to ask them: What would they have done differently at the beginning?

From Tel Aviv to Chicago, the curriculum is partly based on answers to that question from 2,000 executives. Classes often consist of around 30 students, with a much smaller number making it to graduation. In 15 sessions, students learn about topics like revenue, costs and profits; marketing and sales; presentation and publicity; and fund-raising.

There are adjustments in the curriculum to address local markets. In Singapore, for example, there is an additional session on doing business in China. Sessions are taught by chapter leaders and by seasoned entrepreneurs who can also serve as mentors.

Fundamental to the institute is the belief that many aspects of entrepreneurship can be taught.

Jose Luis Senent, 43, had been a car broker in Paris for 20 years, but had no previous experience with technology or start-ups. He graduated from the Paris chapter in April 2011 and now runs Autoreduc, a group-buying site for cars that he says is profitable and will expand into Spain, Belgium and Switzerland this year.

“I cannot imagine starting a company without knowing what I learned at the institute — there is so much to know about marketing, business models and raising money,” Mr. Senent said. The institute connected him with mentors who challenged his ideas and set his company in the right direction, he said.

Mr. Ressi says he wants to help budding founders avoid rookie mistakes — like bad Web design and off-key marketing, or creating the wrong corporate structure.

Katherine Bicknell, 31, a graduate of the New York chapter and co-founder of Kindara, an app that helps women track their fertility, would still be calling her company “Moonlyght” if not for a session on naming and branding.

“The Founder Institute said that you had to be able to say it, spell it, read it easily, and the dot-com had to be available,” said Ms. Bicknell, whose company is based in Boulder, Colo. So far, she and her co-founder have raised $100,000 from friends and family.

The institute aims to democratize the access that up-and-coming entrepreneurs need, partly by opening up networks and opportunities to those on the outside of the tight-knit start-up world. It “helped me build my network — when I came from Turkey to the U.S. in 2008 to start my company, I didn’t know anyone,” said Eren Bali, 28, co-founder of Udemy, an online learning company that has raised $4 million from investors. “I was starting from scratch, ” said Mr. Bali, who graduated from the Silicon Valley chapter in 2009.

Carlos Rozo, 38, a graduate of the chapter in Bogotá, Colombia, said the institute steered him away from a potentially fatal mistake — starting something big and complicated — and toward something more narrow that would fill a niche. He abandoned plans for a content-sharing platform in favor of Thotz.net, a provider of software that companies can use to share information among employees. Mr. Rozo says he has received $50,000 in seed funding from Wayra, which is backed by the Telefónica Group.

“Colombia is really behind the eight ball on how to attack this amazing opportunity to have great tech start-ups. It’s a desert down here,” said Alan Colemenares, 48, who began the Bogotá and Medellin chapters last year. The first semester in Bogotá ended in the spring. So far, five out of nine graduates have secured $50,000 or more in outside funding, according to Mr. Colemenares.

VIETNAM was similarly lacking in programs to encourage technology start-ups, says Tuan Pham, 37, who began the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City sections there in 2011.

“The fact that the Founder Institute agreed to work with us is huge — otherwise, we would have to rely on what we read from books,” said Mr. Pham, founder of the Topica Education Group, a Hanoi-based online learning company with 300 employees. The Vietnam chapters have produced five companies.

Chapter leaders are generally experienced entrepreneurs from the area, and they often find sponsors to cover costs of running the local program, which can vary from around $25,000 to more than $100,000 a semester, depending on the number of staff members.

Mr. Colemenares secured sponsorship from .Co Internet, a company based in Bogotá that sells domain names. About 80 percent of chapters are sponsored by a law firm, where the students typically end up incorporating. The law firms usually charge students around $1,000 to incorporate.

Local chapter leaders acquire a stake in the companies they help nurture. Graduates put 3.5 percent of their company into a shared equity pool that expires after 10 years. If a company is sold, merged or goes public in that time, 30 percent goes back to the mentors, 30 percent to the entrepreneur’s graduating class, 25 percent to the local chapter leadership and 15 percent to the Founder Institute.

The institute says that 42 percent of participants have received external funding in their first six months of operation and that about 10 percent of its companies have failed.

But could the approach work on a wider scale? “While I would hesitate to be critical of the ‘wham-bam four months you’ve got a business’ approach, I think the vast majority of ventures take more than that amount of time to become operational businesses people can be proud of,” said Len A. Schlesinger, president of Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Babson as having the No. 1 entrepreneurship program among the nation’s business schools.

In graduate classes in entrepreneurship at Babson, “students learn the nuts and bolts of starting a business,” Mr. Schlesinger said. “But they also learn the framework of what makes a good idea and have the time to experience and experiment without pressure,” he added. He emphasized that he was not specifically familiar with the Founder Institute.

The academic route, however, comes with a hefty price tag: more than $110,000 for a two-year M.B.A. program, according to Babson’s Web site.

The Founder Institute also accommodates people who want to keep their day jobs and stay in their local regions — thus attracting somewhat older entrepreneurs.

“Younger people are usually the only ones without a family who are in the position to just pick up and move,” said Dave Lambert, managing director of Right Side Capital Management, a San Francisco-based investment firm that has invested in four Founder Institute companies. “But there is a whole other high-quality entrepreneurial market that isn’t being tapped because those people can’t just quit their job.” The average age of a Founder Institute participant is 34.

SOME are skeptical, however, about an after-hours entrepreneurship model. “I think the Founder Institute is useful as far as it can be a catalyst for putting some structures around their ideas, but we like to fund people who are working on their ideas full time and are world experts,” said Aziz Gilani, a director at DFJ Mercury, a venture capital firm based in Houston that invests in companies from accelerator programs like TechStars.

Then again, not everyone can quit their jobs to test-drive their idea — although 80 percent of Founder Institute participants ultimately do — nor are there enough spots for everyone who wants to attend TechStars or other selective accelerators.

As much as the Founder Institute aims to expand entrepreneurial opportunities, it also helps some people come to grips with the idea that they may not be in the right position to run a high-growth start-up.

Ben Cox, 35, a software engineer in Santa Cruz, Calif., left the Silicon Valley program in June after just one week. “Looking at the financial requirements of incorporating my company and bringing in a team and advisers, I just realized it wasn’t feasible,” he said.

Phil Libin, a mentor at the institute and founder and C.E.O. of Evernote, the online software program, says he spends as much time discouraging as encouraging participants. “I ask people, ‘If I could guarantee that you would spend the next 10 years developing a product millions of people will use but you will make no money for a decade and it will be a total financial failure, will you do it?’ Most people answer no,” he said.

Not surprisingly, he said, “some people drop out of the program because of the question.”


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 28, 2012


An earlier version of this article misidentified the company that Carlos Rozo started and contained an incorrect link for that company’s Web site. It is Thotz.net, not Thotz.com.




Saturday, July 28, 2012

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How Long Before You Disappear? BY ANTHONY IANNARINO JULY 28, 2012

Your dream clients have seen your kind before. They’ve seen the new salesperson come in full of excitement and ambition. They’ve seen him work like the devil to build consensus around a deal. He talked a great game and did a wonderful job selling himself and his company.

Then it came time for the execution. Suddenly, the salesperson was nowhere to be found, and all of their calls for help went to people they’d never even met. Sometimes the execution of the original sale went OK, and the salesperson was present. But once he had their business, there wasn’t any reason for him to show his face or spend time with them anymore. Complacency set in, and it was followed closely by dissatisfaction. A dissatisfaction that went unnoticed until it was too late.

And now here you are all full of piss and vinegar. You look familiar. You sound familiar. And you conjure up memories of promises made and not kept. The promises are new coming from you, no doubt, but they sound the same to your prospect. You can see that your dream clients are incredulous. It’s written all over their faces.

And so your dream clients begin to ask themselves this question: How long before you too disappear? Where will you be when the bullets start flying? What is your plan to go from quarter to quarter, from project to project, continually finding ways to help them?

What is your plan to keep from growing complacent and to keep your clients from growing complacent? How do you and your dream clients continue to work together to go from success to success, always pushing the boundaries out a little further and helping one another grow?

Why should your dream clients believe that you are any different than those that have come before you, those who made the sales they needed to make and slowly—or not so slowly—faded away, never to be heard from again?

The sales profession is like the fashion industry. Every season you have to release a new line. You have to find something new and interesting to show your clients. And it must be something that makes a difference for them and their businesses. If you are going to be relevant, you can’t disappear. If you are going to earn your place as their strategic partner, you have to maintain a presence in their lives.

Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/

Preparing to Win New Zig Ziglar book explains how you can make the most of being Born to Win.

                                 Preparing to Win
Happiness is a choice, not a result of your life’s circumstances. That’s the consensus from more than 1,000 senior citizens when asked by Cornell researchers for the highly publicized Legacy Project, an ongoing study to collect practical advice from America’s elders, from different socioeconomic groups. In Zig Ziglar’s new book, Born to Win, Ziglar makes the same powerful assertion that you can always do more than you think.


“If you put a bunch of fleas in a jar and put a lid on the jar, the fleas will jump up and collide with the jar lid. They quickly adjust how high they jump so they won’t hit the lid. After they adjust their jumping power, you can take the lid off of the jar and the fleas will not jump out! They will have trained themselves to jump so high and no higher. The fleas actually become slaves to their experience and imprison themselves inside the jar—even though they could jump out at any time after the lid is removed.

“People do the same thing to themselves. Somewhere in most people’s experience, they develop the idea that they can (or should) do only so much and no more. They adjust their expectations of themselves accordingly, and they get what they expect: less than what they are capable of!”


Ziglar’s powerful illustration of how we become imprisoned by our own limited thinking is a convicting one. Our experiences limit the expectations we set, making us fearful of risk and failure, thus perpetuating a cycle of mediocrity. But Ziglar reminds us, “Just as ships are built to sail the seas and planes to fly the heavens, so is man created for a purpose.” That purpose, although it varies from person to person, is centered on Ziglar’s eponymous title—Born to Win.


Part II: Preparing for Success
Ziglar breaks down his secret to preparing for success by four distinct steps to master: Attitude, Knowledge, Practice and Advice. Ziglar illustrates these steps with sound advice and personal anecdotes, many of which contain Ziglar’s own vulnerabilities, struggles and triumphs.

Perhaps the most inspiring of these admissions is Zig Ziglar’s honest confession that he is just an average Joe with no remarkable talents. He writes, “My wife was ranked fourth in a high school class of three hundred. I was in the part of the class that made the top half possible! Whatever success I have enjoyed as a speaker and author was not the result of some natural talent. My success was the result of hard work and practice.” Coming from world-renowned Mr. Zig Ziglar himself, that’s the most motivating quote of all.

Friday, July 27, 2012

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-prepardness.gifPREPARDNESS  July 27, 2012
It's always easier to face problems when you're prepared. The last thing you want to be thinking when a crisis hits is, "Where do I go from here?" The problem associated with this reaction is the time it takes to plan after the fact. In essence, you have two problems: one is the actual problem, and the other is your emotional energy. You can't prevent problems from creeping into your life, but you can prepare. Start to protect yourself today from the unexpected by anticipating problems or reviewing major challenges from the past. Build alternatives to better navigate obstacles, and you'll keep your momentum up.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is Relationship Selling Dead?BY JILL KONRATH JULY 25, 2012

Have you noticed that prospects these days are quick to brush you off? They don’t seem to have time for chit-chat. Even your best customers don’t have time to meet with you anymore. They’re crazy busy, struggling to survive in a frenetic workplace. The truth is, they don’t need another relationship. They barely get to see their best friends anymore.

So, in one respect, relationship selling is indeed dead. But here’s the good news: Underneath all that get-to-the-point behavior and failure to return your calls is a normal human being who desperately wants relationships with people who can help them achieve their work objectives.

Valuable Resource

That person could be you. But having a good relationship is simply no longer enough. Instead, you need to focus on being an invaluable resource. You have to constantly bring your prospects and clients ideas, insights and information to help them run their businesses better. You have to ensure that all your communications with them are relevant to what they’re trying to achieve, that you are focused on their priorities.

This is a real shift. Being likeable is no longer sufficient. You have to bring value, so that every meeting they have with you has some form of benefit to them. What you bring to them should be so worthwhile that they are willing to pay for it. And, when you do that, you’ll have tons of great—and highly productive—relationships.

Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit. 

DAILY BOOST OF POSITIVITY

boost-denial.gifDENIAL  July 25, 2012
Salespeople are great at brushing off rejections. While it's true that every no leads you closer to a yes, there's a fine line between healthy optimism and denial. Don't ignore real frustration or try to put on a happy face if you really feel down. Constantly suppressing negative feelings often leads to a short temper. Instead of lying to yourself, acknowledge the lost opportunities and the fact that they don't feel good – and then continue working.
– CONTRIBUTED BY URMAS PURDE

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Do You Have a Burning Desire To Win? BY MARIBETH KUZMESKI JULY 19, 2012 •

The most successful businesspeople I have come across in conducting research for my books are truly competitive souls—sometimes to a fault. Their competitive spirit drives the way they think, the way they act and certainly the way they react. To others, these people appear to possess a high level of passion for winning.

The most powerful characteristic I’ve noticed about the super-competitive is that they think longer and harder about the challenges they face. They are hyper-focused on what it takes to get the win and care less about what they consider to be irrelevant details. And that focus may be precisely why they win more often.

If you ask them, most competitive souls will say that they are not reaching their full potential—even if they’ve reached goals that others can only dream of. Someone who is not driven by winning may feel satisfied with what they have accomplished. Competitive people can usually point to someone who is doing more, helping more or winning more than they are.

Competitiveness does not come from your boss telling you to work harder or try harder to win. Competitiveness is something self-imposed, powered by the comparison to others and the desire to be the best. In some cases, people are born with this spirit; in others, it’s developed over time.

My son, since he was a little boy, has had a deep desire to win. When he was young, he had to win at the board game Candyland, had to be the first in line for the bus each day, had to lead on our bike rides. Any normal situation is an opportunity for him to be first or to win. Today he’s a teenage hockey player and his desire to win fuels his efforts on the ice.

So does competitiveness determine success? Not always, of course, but I would say competitiveness often determines success. Where is your competitive spirit? Are you passionate? Do you want to be number one in your firm or industry?

Some people have given up on the dream. Some never thought they could achieve it. Some are burnt out. Some are still working and fighting, fueled by their competitive spirit. Where do you fall on the scale of competitiveness?

Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Case for Voicemail BY ANTHONY IANNARINO JULY 22, 2012

A lot of salespeople tell me that they don’t leave voicemail messages when they call their dream clients. I understand completely not leaving a message if you plan to call back later that same day or week. But otherwise I don’t understand leaving no voicemail message at all. It’s a mistake and here’s why:

Is this your first call? A lot of salespeople have called your dream client in the past only to later disappear. Many have called and continue to call every quarter like clockwork, usually just to “check in” and see if anything has changed. Your dream client might even know some of these salespeople by name.

If you never leave a message, you are ensuring that you are unknown. You’re not a secret agent, for heaven’s sake! You need to be known, and you need to be known as a value creator. You aren’t accomplishing either of those things when you neglect to leave a message.

Instead, when you finally do reach your dream clients on the phone, they are hearing your voice for the very first time. They have no idea of the effort you have made to contact them, how much you want to work with them or that you can be of value to them. You have no record of making an effort to reach them.

Be known and double down. If you are serious about pursuing your dream clients, you’ll leave a detailed message describing who you are, how you believe you can make a difference and how you can be reached. Then, double down and follow up your voicemail message with an email reiterating the message you left and telling them when you are going to try to reach them again.

Your commitment to call back establishes a couple of things. First, it says that you are not going to go away, that you intend to keep calling. Second, it acknowledges that you believe it is your responsibility to call them again.

I know a few salespeople who are so good at leaving voicemail that they can get a call back by the sheer force of their personality alone. Your dream client is under no obligation to call you back simply because you left a message, but that’s not why you are leaving the message in the first place. You are leaving it because you want to be known, and you want to start establishing yourself as someone seriously interested in making a difference.

Leave a powerful voicemail message. Make yourself known. Make it apparent that you are in hot pursuit of your dream clients’ business, that you can and will make a difference in their lives and that you are not going to go away easily.

Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/

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boost-permanence.gifPERMANENCE  July 23, 2012
Technically, every job is temporary (as is life). The trouble with the "temporary" attitude is that it makes us take the tasks at hand less seriously than is necessary to do an outstanding job. The result is that salespeople who take their jobs seriously tend to move up the career ladder faster than those who think sales is a temporary thing. Commit to yourself to sales, and watch your success take off.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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FULFILLMENT  July 17, 2012
Great motivator Tom Hopkins measured success based on four areas of fulfillment: 1) financial accomplishments, based on self-image and goals; 2) emotional stability and the ability to control emotional handicaps; 3) physical fitness and feeling good physically; 4) maintaining spiritual awareness and a personal relationship with a higher power. Said Hopkins, "If you can meet all four of these, you're a successful human being by my measure of success."

Monday, July 9, 2012

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

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Being An Entrepreneur Doesn't Mean You Can't Change Your Mind. Hanny Lerner, Contributor


So you’re in your twenties and you want to be an entrepreneur. A Mark Zuckerberg. A Steve Jobs. A Bill Gates. After all, you devoted four years studying for it, another five years (or longer!) paying back student loans. And if you do start a business, you’re probably taking out another loan to kick-start it – and then spending another bunch of years trying to pay it back. Considering the options, a 9-5 job doesn’t sound so bad.

So who in their right mind would walk out of a stable career and risk everything? Well, me. And lots of other crazy, foolishly fearless people like me, who find risk and freedom an irresistible pair.

In 2009, Sim, my then boyfriend, and I launched MOD Restoration, a high end furniture restoration company, exactly five days before the market hit rock bottom. What did we know? We were both 24 years old and thought we had it all figured out. We went out into the world, hustled and landed service contracts with many large furniture companies to do in-home warranty repairs for their customers. If you bought furniture from Crate & Barrel, Jonathan Adler, Ethan Allen or Ralph Lauren Home and submitted a warranty claim between 2009 and 2011, you likely had a MOD Restoration repair technician come to your NYC home.

But try as we might, we could do nothing right in these customers’ eyes. If we successfully repaired their furniture, they hated us for ruining their chance for a receiving an exchange for a new piece of furniture. If we determined that their claim wasn’t covered under warranty, they would call the furniture company, yelling and screaming, demanding justice. Many customers even tried to bribe our repair techs with gifts and tips, in hopes that we would report their damage as a manufacturer’s defect to be covered under warranty.
Veneer Panels That Were Once On The Drawers
Veneer Panels That Were Once On The Drawers

I vividly remember this particular story like it was yesterday. One consumer claimed that he woke up one morning and found all six veneer drawer panels lying on the floor. The furniture company sent us to his home to do an inspection. Just to give you some perspective, the odds of six independent panels falling off a dresser at the same exact time by itself is probably as likely as me winning the NY Lottery. Pretty slim :) The panels were warped and bowed, a clear symptom that the veneer got wet and/or was exposed to direct heat, such as a blow dryer or steamer. When the consumer was informed that his warranty would not cover the damage, he called MOD threatening to bring us down if we didn’t change our inspection report.

Don’t get me wrong, of course there were the legitimate claims, like a sectional arriving with the wrong size seat cushion or the foam seat cushion flattening prematurely.

Seat Cushion Too Small For Sofa (Left Side)
Seat Cushion Too Small For Sofa (Left Side)

Regardless of the scenario, no one seemed happy. The customers wanted new furniture. Our technicians actually wanted to do the repair and get paid. Naturally, the furniture companies wanted to pay out the fewest claims possible. Negativity surrounded our business from all sides, on a daily basis. It was simultaneously exhausting and depressing.

There comes a time in life when we give ourselves a choice. Do we continue doing something just because we’re used to it, or do we break away into the unknown and try to start all over, in the hopes that it would actually give us genuine pleasure?

I’ve personally given myself that choice a dozen times throughout my life. In 8th grade, I decided that my Hassidic school wasn’t for me and got myself thrown out. When I was 19 and married to an ultra-religious man, I found myself yearning for a different life and gathered the courage to get divorced. The older I got, the more I found myself fighting the “norm” in a quest to do what I thought would make me happy. And again with MOD, after 2 years of building a reputable business, I found myself in that same predicament. The inability to ever make customers happy, the physical intensity of the work, and the grueling hours left me with no quality of life. The hundreds of thousands of dollars we were making wasn’t worth it. It certainly wasn’t enough. So in typical Hanny-style, I woke up one morning and fired every corporate client we provided warranty services for. I wanted to start over again.

If I had spent too much time worrying about those critical next steps, I never would have gotten out. I was positive that whatever our “next” would be, it would be more rewarding. It had to be. I wanted the opportunity to make customers happy, to provide a service that they actually wanted, and to be compensated for it, emotionally and monetarily.

I wanted to combine all the things I was passionate about. Fashion…Furniture…Fabric…Flair. It hit me. And at age 26, I decided to reinvent MOD Restoration as a reupholstery company. I wanted MOD to be branded as the “fashion for furniture” shop. And I spent the next many months turning MOD into just that.

Original Saarinen Womb Chair, 1950's
Original Saarinen Womb Chair, 1950's

Today, people come excited to our beautiful 3500 square foot Brooklyn studio to have us reupholster their furniture. Our clients are eager to watch us as we transform their pieces into one-of-a-kind masterpieces. It’s an amazing feeling to help them choose the perfect fabric and to see the incredible evolution of each piece, once it’s reupholstered and refinished.

People rarely tell us that it’s OK to change our minds. If we do, we’re considered flaky or indecisive. But I disagree. I believe that the ability to change status quo truly is a gift. It got me to where I am today. At 28, I am passionate about what I do. I love how happy our clients are with the finished product. And I am surrounded by incredibly talented and creative craftsmen and women who make MOD the great environment that it is. Not to mention – we make more money doing it, which I believe is a by-product of doing what you’re truly happy doing.

Womb Chair Reupholstered By MOD
Womb Chair Reupholstered By MOD

Have you thought about or already made a big break in your business? I’d love to know how you made the pivot and how it changed your business and your life.



Thinking About Marketing Automation? BY DAN HUDSON JULY 4, 2012

Marketing automation providers continue to grow as companies in the B2B and B2C space compete for the limited prospects available today. Go to any Sales 2.0 trade show or marketing conference and you are likely to see major players such as Eloqua, Marketo, Silverpop, Pardot and LeadLife in exhibitor or sponsor roles. They each tout how their tools will increase sales effectiveness and generate more top-of-the-funnel leads that ultimately become the highly qualified leads you need.

The reality is that these tools providers each build robust, sophisticated products that will function properly (assuming certain other conditions are met). In our work with clients to implement new marketing automation solutions, we have seen several key failure points that keep these programs from functioning at their peak. For those thinking of getting started with marketing automation, it’s worth taking note of these “lessons learned.”

*Content is king. Just as cash is king to a CFO, high-quality, value-add content is king to content-marketing and lead-nurturing programs. Having a well-thought-out messaging calendar is important, but having the right content for buyers based on their roles and where they are in the buying process is a must-have. Many buyers are making decisions based on the educational quality of the content they receive and on resources available on vendors’ websites

*Website optimization. Getting prospects to visit your site and then losing them because your site is confusing or hard to navigate is a marketing mortal sin. Through the use of quality landing pages and calls to action you can not only engage with prospective buyers but also find ways to stay engaged with them as they go though the buying cycle.

*Scoring system. All leads are not created equal. Score your prospects’ behavior by establishing a scoring model that’s simple and built to help you understand where a buyer is in the buying cycle. It does not make sense to have a salesperson engage with a prospect who is just kicking tires. Scoring leads properly will allow you to know when a prospect truly has a problem and is seeking a solution.

Marketing automation is not a miracle cure, but with the right tools, sound processes and compelling content you can move to the front of the sales pack.

Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at dan.hudson@3forward.com.

AN APPRAISAL: Sheriff Who Gave Stature to Small-Town Smarts


                                                                                                            Associated Press
From left, Don Knotts, Ron Howard and Andy Griffith from "The Andy Griffith Show."


By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: July 3, 2012


You could argue that the defining issue in the culture and political wars that dominate American life isn’t health care or big government or religion. It is whether small-town is smarter than urban, or vice versa. And that makes Andy Griffith, who died Tuesday at 86, a pivotal figure in those wars. Not for the man he was, but for the character who made him a fixture in American living rooms: Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry.
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Sheriff Taylor, among the most popular and enduring characters television has produced, came along at a time, 1960, when things weren’t looking so good for the rural-is-smarter argument, especially as it pertained to the South. News coverage was making the whole country aware of the ugliness of racism there, an impression that would only grow stronger over the next few years with clashes over school integration and the murder of civil rights workers.

A stereotype defined by ignorance and bigotry was becoming codified in popular culture as well, especially in relation to Southern characters: the obvious miscarriage of justice in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960; Rod Steiger’s good-ol’-boy police chief from “In the Heat of the Night” in 1967. Mr. Griffith himself nudged that archetype along with the 1957 film “A Face in the Crowd,” playing a Southern drunk who accidentally ends up in the fame-making machine and turns into a demagogue. That same year, a lighter but still unflattering counterpart turned up on television in the sitcom “The Real McCoys,” about a backward family of farmers from West Virginia who relocate to California. If such stuff was representative of small-town America, yeah, better bring in some Ivy League brains to set things straight.

But hold it, as Andy was known to say. While the urbanites were ascendant, characters like Atticus Finch in “Mockingbird” and Sheriff Taylor of “The Andy Griffith Show” were keeping the flame of Main-Street nobility and wisdom alive. In Andy’s town, the fictional Mayberry, a place modeled on Mr. Griffith’s real hometown, Mount Airy, N.C., slick, eggheaded urban types didn’t generally swoop in and solve problems. More often, they were the problem.

That was established right from the start, when Andy stepped out of his police cruiser in an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” in early 1960 to hand a ticket to Thomas’s character, a nightclub comedian named Danny Williams.

“You’ll kindly take a look at my name,” Danny says, handing Andy his license. “You’ll discover that I’m somebody.”

Andy glances at the license and says: “Well, you know, I knew that the minute I laid eyes on you. Yessir, I’ve never seen a car yet that wasn’t being driven by somebody.”

The episode became the basis for “The Andy Griffith Show” later that year. As that opening scene rolls on, Andy takes Danny down one peg, then another, then another. In three minutes Andy’s character is firmly established: a seemingly simple man who has a craftiness and common-sense wisdom that beat book learning any day. Sure, there were bumpkins on “The Andy Griffith Show,” including Don Knotts’s Barney Fife, one of television’s great goofballs, but there was a rock of clear country thinking at the core.

Not just any actor could have created Andy Taylor and sold him to the public during the unsettled ’60s, but Mr. Griffith made it look easy. He brought good looks and physical stature to the role, as well as a Southern accent that was strong enough to convey “country” but not so thick as to be off-putting to a national audience. (It also helped that the show was scrupulously uncontroversial and that Mayberry was a very white town; no reminders of the gathering racial storm there.) Eventually, the tumult and accelerated pace of the decade pushed “The Andy Griffith Show” aside, but not the notion that the moral center of the country lives somewhere in a small town.

Today, when you hear politicians and talk-show hosts spew platitudes about common sense and the wisdom of ordinary people, Andy Taylor is part of the collective memory they’re invoking. So is Ben Matlock, the homespun lawyer Mr. Griffith portrayed in another long-running series in the 1980s and ’90s.

Small-town mores are, of course, largely identified with Republicans these days, which shows you how good Mr. Griffith was as an actor: in real life he tended to support Democratic candidates, and he was once urged to run for the Senate against Jesse Helms. But never mind party allegiance; what would Andy Taylor have made of the deterioration in tone since he sat behind the sheriff’s desk in Mayberry?

Even the urban sophisticates who brushed up against Sheriff Taylor would have admitted that the fellow was always cordial and self-deprecating, never holier than thou. He knew he was smarter than they were, but he never let that register as a lack of respect. Andy Taylor, fundamental as he was, could never survive today as a character; he was too damn nice. Too bad.

A version of this article appeared in print on July 4, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Sheriff Who Gave Stature to Small-Town Smarts.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

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