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Planning the Best Year of Your Life

December 27, 2014 by  
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Have you recovered from Christmas yet? If you are like me, probably not.  It sure is a great and special time of the year.  There’s nothing like family, friends and lots of giving at this time of the year.

But now that it’s over, most of us begin thinking of the next year and what it is likely to bring. And if you are smart you will start planning and setting goals so that the next year brings you what you want it to bring, rather than what just might happen to you.

For me, I usually begin my planning by reviewing the past year.  I go through my planner week by week, reading my notes, my do lists, and my activities.  Then I review my goals and see which ones I’ve accomplished and which ones I didn’t.  Yes, that can be a bit of a downer but it also gives me a gentle kick in the butt and a renewed determination to work harder in the coming year.

I think it is best to remove yourself from any and all distractions so you can really stay focused on the task of planning your life for the next 12 months.  Personally I love to sequester myself on a long flight where I can’t be interrupted by phone calls, texting and emails. On a plane, I also don’t get diverted by picking up a book or file or any other stuff like that since I am not home or in my office where I can see and easily pick up something that takes me away from my planning.

So bottom line, I want to strongly encourage you to do a review of what you did and didn’t do as this year ends, and begin writing down what your goals and objectives are going to be for 2015. You might as well make it the best year of your life. And to a large degree that is up to you.

Like I’ve said many times before, “I am preaching to myself as I preach this message to you.” So let’s get to it!

A Time to Give, a Time to Live

December 20, 2014 by  
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What a great time of the year!  You can feel something different is in the air.  Of course, that great old Christmas music helps encourage that feeling of giving, loving and gratitude.  Whereas it’s true that the human brain craves novelty and unique experiences, our minds are also soothed and comforted by the familiar sights and sounds that the holiday season brings us.

I’m pretty sure you are like me, and most other people on this planet, in that you get that warm comforting feeling when you give a gift, whether it’s something fancy or a simple thing or you are giving of your time by doing something special for someone else.  Because, yes, to give is to live more fully.

You may have seen on the news recently, where some anonymous person gives away, at Christmas time, $100,000 dollars in $100 dollar bills to people who look like they are down on their luck and really are in need.  This year, he did it in cooperation with the police force.  And he has the officers give his gifts out.

As I watched how it all played out on a TV spot this year, I was quite emotional.  What the cops do is drive around looking for older, banged up and aging cars with people driving that look like that they don’t have a dime to their name.  Then they pull the people over as if they are going to ticket them.  Of course the drivers, as they see the cop walking up alongside the car, are wondering what they did wrong and as they roll down the window, filmed by body cams the cops were wearing, you can see the great distress on their faces. The drivers were obviously distressed. Some were defensive, others belligerent and others were simply and quietly upset.  But then when the officer reaches in and hands them a $100 dollar bill and says “Merry Christmas”, the drivers face is instantly transformed. Some looked shocked and some even started crying.  One woman said, through her tears, that now she could give her kids a Christmas present when she thought she would not be able to give them anything.

The cops were as touched as the people were by that act of giving, even though it wasn’t their money.  As I watched, I couldn’t help but catch the feeling and the emotions those camera caught and, yes, I teared up a bit myself.

I am pretty darn sure that the more we give, give, give, the more we live, live, live!  I sincerely hope you have a tremendous season of giving and you receive the great rewards that giving gives!  Merry Christmas!

 

The Rug Merchant of Tangiers

December 12, 2014 by  
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Today I’d like to add a footnote to last week’s blog on the theme of negotiation.  Many years ago I took a group of investors to Tangiers in Northern Africa, both for fun and for a seminar I was to put on for them. And what a seminar it was! The best part, however, was a lesson that was learned from a rug merchant in Tangier’s.

While on this trip we all took a tour. The talkative guides took us through the narrow, winding back streets, through the open markets with their pungent odors and all kinds of interesting and colorful people.  Then, after half an hour’s stop at the Kasbah, we finally ended up at a rug merchant’s large second-floor shop.

Even though I was paying for this tour, no one had bothered to tell me where we’d end up. It was there in the next hour or so that the big lesson was learned by all of us, a lesson in the art of negotiating.  We were all hot and tired but sitting comfortably on mounds of beautiful Oriental rugs. Our gracious host began telling the group about the uniqueness of his rugs then his troupe of articulate salespeople went on to sell their captive audience on the quality of the rugs.

Interestingly enough, they also explained the custom of haggling over price.  They would be offended if we were to accept their first price without some sporty bargaining. Priming the crowed into a jovial joking mood, the merchant asked someone to make an offer on a rug he said was for sale at $4500 dollars. One of the guys in my group offered $500 dollars. After a lot of back and forth the rug was sold for $1200 dollars. The buyer had been assured that its value was over $2000 dollars. I found out later that the buyer had it appraised in the USA for a mere $600 dollars.  Oops! There was lesson learned there for certain, a lesson that happens to be about one of the oldest tricks in the old negotiating handbook. That is, you start with a very high price to give the illusion of a bargain when the price is dramatically cut.

I’ve used this method many times on both the buyer’s side and when selling a property and you probably have too. You can read more about the rug merchant and related negotiation techniques in my book How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You.

 

 

Using a little Jaw Jaw

December 5, 2014 by  
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I am in the process of updating 4 of the 8 books I’ve written, which has been a fascinating and mind opening task.  First of all, it’s quite a stunning experience to read your own words that were written many years ago and then to come across something that you find to be very profound. I found myself saying “Wow, this is a pretty good money making method and is quite inspiring stuff. Did I write this?” then I’m thinking,   “I can’t believe I wrote this. Where did this come from?” However, I must admit some of what I wrote also brings on thoughts like “Ugh! This is kind of simple minded and even stupid. I’ve got to change this!”

While updating and re-writing some of my book The Courage to be Rich, I was struck particularly hard by what I wrote about the huge power of negotiating and the incredible financial rewards that come just from smart and calculated discussions.  Yes, just by using your head and your words you can make huge financial returns on your money! Winston Churchill said “Jaw Jaw is better than war war” and I will add that, Jaw Jaw alone can make you 100% in returns on an investment too!

With good negotiations you can take a mere 5% discount combined with another 5% in earnings and come up with a 100% return on your money. Sound impossible? Not at all. I have done it myself a few times and others I know have done it. It’s in the numbers.

For example let’s say you found a very attractive piece of real estate and the seller was very motivated to sell it. With good negotiating skills you could convince him to sell the property for just 5% lower than its fair market value and maybe even a little beyond that and then you buy it with just 10% down. Now, using another round of skilled negotiations, you convince a buyer to pay 5% more than the property’s fair market value by making the property sound better than it may appear to be. Of course, fixing it nicely helps too. Then, guess what? You’ve just scored a 100% return on your money; you invested 10% then saved 5% on the buy and made 5% on the sale of it for a 10% profit, or 100% of what you put down on it!

If you get tripped up at the point where I say you are only investing 10% on the property, that’s not hard to do either. Further negotiations can convince the seller to carry the mortgage or you can use a bank for the mortgage and a signature loan so in total you have 90% financing.

Go ahead and run your own numbers on any size property with those percentages and you’ll always come out with that huge fat return of 100% on your money by just using your brain and your words to convince people of what great deal you make them. These are just some of the gems you can find in my books which are available online on places like Amazon and on my website.