Monthly Archives: August 2013

The difference in 50 years

I apologize for not getting more posts out the last week or so. Life, as they say, happens.

But one thing I was able to catch and wish to share with you here is a commentary that Keith Olbermann did last night on his new ESPN show. Yes’ its a sports show. But Olbermann in his own, unique way put a great spin on the 50th celebration of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

And so rather than muck it up with my own stylings on it, I offer you the commentary itself.

Man was MSNBC dumb to ever let this guy go.

Remember, always ask the question.

He had us all Punk’d

Twelve days ago, Ashton Kutcher ended what may have been the longest running prank he’s ever pulled.

What’s funny is it seems the target was himself first, and then the rest of us.

What I refer to, in case you’ve been living under an electronic rock or vacationing on an Amish dude ranch, is Kutcher’s acceptance speech at the Aug. 11 Teen Choice Awards.  The 35-year-old had just won the Ultimate Choice Award, which Kutcher quickly tabbed as the ‘old guy award.’

But even as they guy closest to needing an aluminum walker on stage that night, Kutcher knew he still had the pulse and the ear of America’s youth.

And if we’re smart, those of us a lot closer to the old folks home than the guy who starred in a TV show about our youth (That 70’s Show), we’ll take note and lend this guy an ear.

Before we  begin, listen to the entirety of the speech itself.

So Kutcher started dropping his pearls of wisdom by citing a time-honored standard – Hard Work. This is nothing knew. We all heard this from our dads when were teens and pretty much ignored it until some time in our late 20s. Some of us got it sooner than others, but in the end life is a fickle mistress and no one escapes her reach or her reality.

But the real meat of this point for Kutcher was the statement that he “… never had a job in my life that I was better than.”

That’s a big statement and one that a lot of people don’t think about on a daily basis. We get into a place some times and start letting things slide. We cut a few corners, we slack off on striving for excellence and get to a point where we think the place we work would never function without us there.

The truth of the matter is they’d be just fine without us. Oh, they may stumble and sputter a bit, but it is a rare, rare thing that a business loses one person and goes to hell in a hand basket over night.

You may be valuable to your company, but you’re never irreplaceable.

Kutcher not only back stabbed the Hollywood establishment with his second point, but he likely blew more than a few fuses of the young audience members when he said, “The sexiest thing in the world is being really smart, and thoughtful and generous.”

Kelso, is that really you in there?

Now stop and think about what Kutcher really said right there? No really, think about it.

In one sentence he said that literally everything you see on TV, watch in a movie and pick up from magazines and the internet is utter crap. He didn’t say ‘bad for you’ or ‘could hurt you’ or ‘you could do better’, he said, “Everything else is crap! I promise you!”

Angus Jones

Angus Jones

We all thought Angus Jones went a little haywire when he blasted the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men” last fall, telling the world to, “Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with that filth.” But maybe he was just saying what some of the people industry really believe.

And Kutcher may have just verified it.

He closed by talking about building a life, about not settling for the status quo. It’s not that the status quo is bad, but like the V’ger spacecraft in the first Star Trek movie we typically end up asking ourselves, “Is there nothing more?”

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Kutcher just put that phrase in terms that the less athletic among us would understand. You have to be in the battle, in the midst of the fray if you really want to change your world. If you don’t like the way things are, work to change them. Don’t just sit idly bye while the events that affect you unfold to determine the course of your life.

Like Cameron Frye, there comes a time when you have to make a stand.

It may appear like you don’t make difference, that you didn’t even make a dent. But if you truly believe that what you are doing is right – and I would urge within God’s calling and plan for you life – then nothing on this planet should be allowed to stand in your way.

It may take longer than you think, but will never be longer than what God planned.

I’ve admitted several times since Kutcher’s speech that I have evidently misjudged him. Either that, or the experience of climbing inside Steve Jobs head for a few months has greatly affected him.

Regardless, my stock in Ashton Kutcher has just risen 100%.

And so has the stock in myself.

Bigger isn’t always better

You’d think at some point we’d learn.

But I’m sure it’s not without reason that God refers to us as sheep and goats.

As you look at a project like the Great Cross Alliance (GCA), you just have to wonder if these people have ever even cracked open the book of Genesis.

Great Cross Alliance (Concept Image)

Great Cross Alliance (Concept Image)

So what is the GCA? Well, they want to build “… the largest, longest-lasting Christian monument in the world.” It’s main funding is from people and families buying mausoleum vaults, or above-ground graves, in a price range between $4,000 and $30,000.

Mike Nowland, who along with his wife Laurie, are the chief architects of this concept, explained it this way in an informational video from their web site: “The goal was to build a landmark that would serve to once again unite the body of Christ,” they explained in the video, which compares the proposed monument to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “The Christian world hasn’t built great monuments for a while, and it’s time to build another one.” (quote paraphrased from The Huffington Post, 08/17/13)

So Christianity is about building it bigger? Evidently if we don’t have the biggest monument on the block, we just aren’t doing our job.

And as I think of it now, Christ really missed some great sight-seeing opportunities while He was with us here on Earth … beeing too wrapped in giving people their sight so they could see.

The Great Pyramid at Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Temple of Zeus would have made great photo ops, right? But I guess for a guy who is all-knowing and everywhere all the time, He was probably kind of ‘been there, done that.’

And had He not been so busy helping the needy, the lame and the sick – not to mention all those people who’s souls were lost – He could have whipped on over to see the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which still had pieces hanging around until the early 1400s.

Yeah, the ancient built one of these already too.

But something about this GCA project just sounds so familiar…

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” ~ Genesis 11:4, NIV

This is just looking more and more like a bad idea.

I was always taught that being a follower of Christ, being a disciple of who He is and what He stands for, is all boiled down to loving people right after loving God. And doing both with everything we’ve got, including our land and real estate.

I looked through most of the site and could not find a single Biblical Scripture to back the GCA’s project. Maybe because Christ and Godly men of the Bible spent a lot of time tearing down stuff like this.

OK, let me try and clear my head and look at this objectively. So what feature might it have to change my mind on this?

Well, according to The Huffington Post, the entire text of the Bible will be engraved inside, in four different languages. Wow, that seems kind of cool, right? Wonder which four they picked? I mean, considering the Linguistic Society of America has estimates that range from their being as “few” as several hundred to as many as 6,909, four just doesn’t seem real adequate.

Scooby-DoobyI’ll give them an ‘A’ for effort on this, because any time the Word of God gets out there its a good thing. But its a big ‘F’ on execution. The approximately $1 billion used to build this gigantic structure – which will no doubt end up being the setting for some future Scooby Doo cartoon or the third installment of the “National Treasure” franchise – would be much better used feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and providing shelter to those with none.

It’s going to have huge crosses inside and places where people can pray. Gee, maybe going to where the people are that need those prayers, showing them the love of Christ, might be a better use of that cash.

It’ll be a cross that can be seen from space! Hmmm … that verse from Genesis just whipped into my head again.

I mean, why does God need to see a collection of dead people from His throne in Heaven when He can already see into our hearts?

And aside from God, who the heck else is going to see it from up there? Are they building this to impress Richard Branson and his fleet of Virgin Galactic space shuttles to nowhere?

The last thing that just sticks in my craw about this whole project is that it is a ‘for profit’ venture. Why? Nowland told the Northern Nevada Business Weekly, “people don’t take nonprofits seriously.”

It has nothing to do with the non-profits, Mike. It has to do with the people in charge of them. They are the problem.

And the same goes for the GCA.

James makes it pretty clear in the opening chapter of his book of the Bible why this whole thing just doesn’t add up for me.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” ~ James 1:27, NIV

While I love the idea of jobs coming to the Nevada desert, this is one that just doesn’t work for me.

No, the world doesn’t need another monument, Christian or otherwise. What the world really needs is what Jackie DeShannon sang of back in 1965 – Love, sweet love.

That is one thing that there is just too little of.

Growing Big While Staying Small

Income Strategy:

Lesson 3

Small Businesses

As the economy seesaws between recovery and failure, what’s a small business to do?

Variable incomes make projecting anything into the future a guess at best, and employees are constantly looking for their next gig.

What if you could give your employees some help with a bonus that you don’t have to pay for and get new customers while generating an additional revenue stream?

Lyoness can make that happen for you.

In our third installment we’re looking at how to give your business an edge in the marketplace. An edge that will put you ahead of the national chains and those local competitors with less foresight.

In a previous post (“Lyoness: A Common Mistake”) we looked at the basics of how Lyoness works. In short, you can get cash back by shopping with Loyalty Merchants and earn a small cash bonus when your share the program. We also talked about how Shopping Units work in “A Unit by any other name“. So with all that in mind, let’s answer the question, “How can Lyoness really help my small business compete, especially with the ‘big boys’?”

Getting The Word Out

techie_yelling_positive_thru_megahorn_hg_whtAdvertising is always a gamble. You’re never really sure if your message is getting in front of the right people, even if you do tons of research. But becoming a Lyoness SME (Small-to-Medium Enterprise) Loyalty Merchant, your business gets put in front of people looking for deals and most importantly: looking for you!

When you become an SME, your business is added to the Lyoness Phone App. Ok, whoopee do! I hear ya. But in Lyoness this is a key way for people to shop. They can access details on merchants and search for nearby places that have what they need.

Best of all, the app shows people the businesses in the immediate vicinity and it shows only those businesses that are physically headquartered there. So, if you’re a restaurant and there’s an Outback Steakhouse nearby, the Aussies won’t show on the app because their corporate office is in Tampa, Florida. That means that if someone is ‘jonesing’ for their Bloomin’ Onion, you’re probably out of luck. But if they are just looking for a great place to eat, then its just you and the other local Lyoness merchants they will see first.

And if Lyoness members do their search online by zip code, same deal: You show and they don’t.

Reeling Them In

Now that you’ve got their attention, how do you keep ’em hooked?

Quality service is always a good start, and word of mouth is a big help.

fisher_tugging_lg_whtBut through Lyoness you can now offer a loyalty merchant program that pays the instant customers make a purchase. We’ll cover just how to register your customers in a second and why its a huge advantage for you to do so, but getting them on board means they can get their benefits the moment they pay their bill. No stars, butterflies or points to collect. Just immediate benefit and gratification. How great is that?

As a Lyoness SME you’ll be able to offer customers a percentage of their bill in return for their patronage, a sort of ‘Thank You’. You negotiate with Lyoness how much that percentage is, giving you a chance to set the tone in your market place.

Finally, you don’t have to manage some program to figure who gets what when. Lyoness does it all after you report the sales to Lyoness each week via the Internet.

It’s all done with a scanner that allows a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant to scan either the customer’s membership card, or the virtual card that can be found on the phone app. And merchants have the option of using the just the membership card, taking cash straight from the member’s Lyoness Purchase Account or both.

Getting Everyone In The Boat

Now that you’re an SME, here’s a tactic that I’ve developed and am seeing used as businesses consider Lyoness for their loyalty merchant program.

The SME registers their employees into the program. This works great for people on your staff that deal directly with the public, but everyone could join. Think of it as giving them a discount card they can use for the rest of their lives. Employees like servers or clerks that will be doing the bulk of your sales are perfect. This gives them the ability to benefit from Lyoness when they shop. Win number one.

As customers come in, your staff is trained to ask if they are part of your loyalty merchant program called Lyoness. If they are, great! If they aren’t, then the employee can ask if they’d like to sign up for free. (People love free stuff! Don’t you?!) Depending on your setup, the employee could register them right then – sending a confirmation email to the customer’s smart phone – or they could wait until they get home. If they have the smart phone, the can confirm the email, download the Lyoness Phone App and activate their card right then and there! And, as a new Lyoness member, they’ll get their first cash back that night.

The key here is that when the customer is registered that they will be signed up under the employee. The employees would bear the small $1.50 online registration fee and would also see benefit from the new Lyoness member whenever they shop.

And that leads us to our next topic …

The Phantom Bonus!

What do your employees get for signing up customers into your loyalty program? That’s where the Lyoness Friendship bonus comes in. As those customers use their Lyoness membership at your business, and at any of the more than 2,000 Lyoness sheet_ghost_flying_lg_whtmerchants online and around the country (and even more worldwide), they earn a 0.5% cash bonus on those purchases. The amount from any one customer may not be much, but as they register more and more customers they’ll see the amount grow from a few dollars to a lot more.

They get a bonus with your help! You get happy customers receiving a discount whenever they shop with you, your employees get some extra cash in their pocket and no one has to worry about coupons or one-time deals!

Ah, but there’s more!

Make Money Without Selling A Thing

Remember, the Lyoness Friendship Bonus goes two levels deep. That means that if you referred your employees, you get 0.5% from everything they spend at Lyoness merchants as well as everything their Directs (aka your Indirects) spend! When they shop with you or any Lyoness merchant, even if they are a competitor, you’ll be seeing income from those purchases.

quarter_rolling_in_circle_money_hg_whtAnd as those people share Lyoness with others, there are even more ways to create an additional revenue stream that will support your efforts well into the future. That’s where the above article on Shopping Units comes in.

Lyoness gives small business owners options that no other merchant loyalty card can. It keeps track of the benefits, it promotes your business and gives you and your employees a chance to make a few extra bucks by sharing it for a small, one-time fee. And Lyoness SMEs never pay another thing unless they make a sale. No monthly fees, minimums or processing charges.

Do you have another idea about how to use Lyoness in a small business environment? Maybe you have questions about becoming a member or getting your business on board with the world’s largest, fastest growing shopping community? Drop me a line or leave a comment. I’d love to discuss it with you further.

As always, the information and the membership are free!

Getting the upper hand on college expenses

Income Strategy:

Lesson 2

College Students & Family

The cost of higher education isn’t getting cheaper and classes aren’t getting any easier.

So how does a family that wants top support its college-bound student make the ends get a little closer together?

In our second installment of Income Strategy we’ll look at how creatively structuring your Lyoness tree can help maximize the benefits for everyone.

A recent family I spoke with wanted to know how they could best maximize their membership to help their soon-to-be 18-year-old daughter pay for college. We sat and talked and came up with the following strategy.

teen_boy_giant_backpack_lg_whtFirst, use Lyoness as much as possible. There are several ways top do this, beginning with either of the textbook suppliers that are Lyoness Loyalty Merchants. Textbooks.com and BookByte.com are two great resources for students as they look for great deals. Both of these member merchants do quality checks on the books and you can get either a new or used version when you buy.

So I’m just gonna get my cash back on that purchase right?

Oh no, not if you’re smart.

See, my suggestion to the couple was that they sign up their daughter on her birthday, and that she in turn sign up her mom. Her mom would then sign up her dad, giving them a tree three people deep and a grand investment of $3.00.

From there they would take advantage of the Lyoness cash back and Friendship Bonus. So, the father buys the book and has it shipped to his daughter at school. Meanwhile, the mother and daughter each benefit from a friendship bonus of 0.5%. It may not look like a lot, but if you’re buying hundred’s of dollars in books each semester it can add up quick.

So what else is our new member of the academic community going to need? Well, clothes for starters, and there are a ton of online and retail merchants where they can get those. And again, all shopping is done through the father so that they can maximize both levels of their Friendship Bonus.

Paper, pencils and pens? Maybe Kmart or Walmart. They carry ink cartridges and some computer supplies as well.

Maybe a prescription when they get sick? Walgreens and CVS are available. They also have some pretty good prices on juice, soda and snacks for those late-night study sessions.

Gas for the car? Sam’s Club (Walmart’s club store) and some Kmarts have gas pumps, or you could just use Chevron or Exxon.

The point is, have the student use the card for those ‘immediate need’ items and the parent for the ones that can be planned out. But with more than 2,000 stores out there, and that number growing every day, everything you need for school short of housing can be purchased through Lyoness.

Toss in the every day purchases that the couple will make while their daughter is away at school, all made through the Father’s membership, and they can double up on the savings.

Let’s see what that might look like…

Purchases made to get a student ready for college.

Purchases made to get a student ready for college.

OK, so we have the material needs out of the way. But what about trying to generate some additional income? I mean, it’s all about the Benjamins, right?

So while their baby girl is off at school, mom and dad can get busy sharing Lyoness with family and friends. And just as we described before, two things will happen as they do that. First, the family will get the benefit of great deals and cash back on whatever they buy from Lyoness Loyalty Merchants. It won’t be a ton, but anything helps in today’s economy.

But when you share, the power of the Friendship Bonus comes back into play. First, for anyone the Father refers into the program, that person becomes a Direct for the Father and an Indirect for the Mother. Again, double the Friendship Bonus. Let’s looks at it…

Purchases made by the Father's Direct referrals.

Purchases made by the Father’s Direct referrals.

We’ve already covered how the Father’s Friendship Bonus would work, but see how that Direct now pays the Mother as well? Pretty nifty.

And when the Father’s Direct refers a new person – an Indirect for the Father – he’ll see rewards from those purchases as well.

College_Father Base

Purchases made by the Father’s Direct and Indirect referrals.

This setup allows a family to make the most out of every purchase they make, as well as those that refer into Lyoness. And the more they share, the bigger the rewards.

Oh, and as for their son who is just entering is sophomore year in high school? They can take care of him too. He can be registered into Lyoness when he turns 18 and can become the beneficiary of his parents when they are gone, as Lyoness memberships are able to be transferred or included in a will.

There may be other strategies. Maybe even better ones. If you have an idea for how to make this model work better, let me know! I’d love to hear it, maybe modify this post and pass the information along.

If Lyoness is about anything, its about sharing.

Maybe you’d like some help understanding more about Lyoness and how it can work for you. Just let me know with a quick comment or email. The information is free and so is the membership.

Past can be Prologue for Small Businesses

Income Strategy:

Lesson 1

Small Business Contractor

Small  businesses are being hit with all kinds of weird stuff today. From new health care laws to taxes and the constant competition from some guy down the street who thinks they can do it better.

In this series of posts, all with the subheading of “Income Strategy”, we are going to examine tactics that small businesses, families and individuals can use to make the most of their income from a program like Lyoness. In this opening edition we’ll be looking at a tile contractor who went into retirement after the financial crash of 2008 when construction hit an all-time low in Las Vegas.

Ron’s Tile was one of many such contractor’s in Las Vegas, doing tons of business as homes and casinos shot up seemingly over night. Because of his long standing and contacts in the community, owner Ron Coldren was able to keep his crews busy year round.

construction_workers_reading_blue_prints_lg_whtBut when the crash hit, he and his wife decided that 28 years in operation, combined with new fees and licenses being put in place, were enough to close the business and retire. It was a short time later that he joined Lyoness in its early stages here in America.

As he became more familiar with the program and its member merchants, it became clear what the possibilities could have been had Lyoness been in operation during his company’s existence. And when his son, Mack, came over to ask about using Lyoness merchants as opposed to ones more specifically suited to his new endeavor, Ron had a suggestion.

“I suggested they do both,” said Ron. “First, buy from Lyoness merchants locally and online. Then take those receipts to the local supply shops that aren’t Lyoness merchants yet and share the program with them.”

Mack thought that was a winning idea.

The conversation caused Ron to look back over his business’ expenditures that were for things outside of the tile and marble suppliers that are now Lyoness merchants and was shocked at what he found.

Annual Expenditures at now Lyoness Merchantsaccountant_searching_through_papers_lg_wht

$18,000 ….. Home Depot
$04,800 ….. Sam’s Club & FedEx
$21,600 ….. Gas & Automotive
$06,000 ….. Business Meals/Meetings
$50,400 ….. Annual Total

“Had these merchants been with Lyoness when we were still in business,” observed Ron, “We would have received $765 in cash back awards and created 20 Shopping Units totaling $17,460 each year!”

Over the 28 years they were in business, Ron’s Tile would have realized more than $21,000 in cash back rewards. Additionally, they would have created 560 Shopping Units, more than enough for a tidy retirement. If he rolled the cash back into more units, he could have purchased an additional 285 Shopping Units for 845 total.

Another consideration is the possibility that he could have shared Lyoness with countless customers, friends and suppliers that would have also benefited from getting cash back on purchases and the friendship bonuses Ron would have received as a result.

The staggering nature of ‘what might have been’ looms even larger when you consider that Lyoness has collected 3.5 million members in Europe over its first 10 years and over 83,000 in its first two in the U.S. Ron’s Tile could have had its array of friends grow into the hundreds of thousands over its nearly three decade life span, generating even more revenue away from the work site.

The unique structure and open availability of Lyoness makes it a great partner in any business.

If you have a small business and would like to discuss how Lyoness could be used to get new customers and create additional revenue streams, drop me an email. Offering your customers Lyoness while you continue to move your business forward is a win-win for everyone.

As always, the information and the membership is free!

Working For A Living

Work can be as nasty a four-letter word as there is some days, especially if you aren’t doing something you love.

But find the right job and every day is like playing a game.

My dad, Edwin M. Allen Sr., was a mechanical engineer. He spent every day at Michelson Lab at China Lake working for the government to help develop missile technology. It seemed like a lot of numbers and a lot of work from where I sat as a kid. And I never could understand his sheer giddiness when one of his Sidewinder missiles took out a Libyan jet in early 1989.

But once I understood it, it was like uncorking a bottle.

While the man worked in a windowless, temperature-controlled office all day behind fairly tight security, he was literally changing the course of history. The guidance system he designed for that weapon changed the way pilots all over the world fought aerial battles. Looking back, I can see why he brought his work home with him every night, even to the point of murmuring top secret numbers while he napped on our couch.

So how do we find out what it is we really want to do? That thing that makes us giddy? Let me offer a few pieces of advice that I’ve gleaned over the years to get you headed in the right direction.

“Hey Look! Mikey Likes It!”

The kid in that seventies commercial had no clue if he liked Life cereal or not. But when he finally tried it, he loved it.

Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial (1972)

Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial (1972)

Sometimes we have stuff we hate and are dead set against going anywhere near it. Other times we have stuff we love and think we could do it the rest of our lives. The point is, we have to try them.

Now that may seem a bit redundant. You’d think if you like something you’ve probably already tried it, right? Well there can be a huge difference between liking something you choose to be around as opposed to being forced to be around it every day.

If you don’t believe me, get a serving of your absolute favorite food and eat it. And when you’re done, force yourself to eat 13 more. You may find that your favorite food doesn’t taste so good come plate seven or eight, maybe sooner in some cases. And if you somehow stick it out to 14 total helpings, you may see that food in a whole new light, if ya get my drift.

When you’re young, try out things you think you really like or maybe have an aptitude for. Doing an internship somewhere (working for free while you learn the ropes) is a great way to go. Working part-time is another. Some places have clubs, like the Explorers for police and fire, where you can be part of what is going and get an inside view of what they really do every day.

Testing Your Patience

When I was a kid I really didn’t like school all that much. It seemed like they made me do a bunch of things that really weren’t all that fun. I kind of liked science a little because we got to actually do stuff. But math and writing? UGH! So the whole thought of just being in school was kind of ‘yuck’.

test_hg_whtSo right after my junior year of high school I took an aptitude test and what did it come back with? Yep, you got it – be a teacher or a writer.

I gave that test about as much chance of being right as lottery ticket where someone had scribbled in the letters A, B, Q and the word ‘broccoli’ over the numbers in hopes of having a one-of-a-kind winning ticket.

So after going through college and trying my hand at computer programming, telecommunications/broadcasting and business administration, guess where I ended up? I spent about 15 years of my professional career teaching and writing. And in both professions I was blessed enough to receive some substantial awards.

And every day in those jobs was a blast. They didn’t always pay that well, but going to work was never that big of a deal.

So while tests in general kind of suck, there are a few that are OK.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

This seems pretty straight forward, and is easy to dismiss as a given. But take it to heart!

If you’re not having fun at what you do, every day is a chore. And as we all know, chores are no fun.

My wife loves to putter around our front yard with the plants. She gets out there and digs and waters and digs and prunes and, well, did I mention she digs a lot? I have little interest in that. My dad made me do that stuff when he decided it would be “fun” to build these slump stone walls around our house when I was in sixth grade. And then he offered to help the neighbors build theirs, selling my ditch-digging services out for glasses of ice tea that he drank.

So you can imagine my reaction when I’m asked to go dig in my front yard now. I smile and help because its my wife (guys remember, “Happy Wife. Happy Life.”) and then I make sure she has some beverage other than ice tea on hand and that I will be getting at least one glass of it.

When all is said and done, I’m sure it was probably guys like me that invented minimalistic landscaping.

The point is, when you’re doing something you love it ceases to become a job. Sure, you gotta spend time and collect a paycheck to pay your bills, but the time passes so fast its incredible.

When I was teaching or writing sports stories, my wife had to remind me to come home some days. Yeah, it was that fun!

Believe You Can Fly

Yeah, another opportunity to sing and I’m passing it up for your sake. But one of these days…

Once you’ve found that passion, that thing that really makes you want to get up every morning, do it with your whole heart. Make it the best you can regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

I wrote previously about the wonders of the 70s Pet Rock, but there are things that we take for granted now that no one thought was a good idea when they were first presented. Here are a few:

  • Star Wars – George Lucas couldn’t get any studios to produce the first one (well, what we now know as Episode IV) and so he did himself. It is still the biggest selling independent film of all time. And when he was ‘finished’ with his project, he sold it to Disney and now they will continue the franchise in 2015.
  • Rubics Cube – Yeah, this totally looks like fun … NOT! Yet it even had jocks like me trying to figure it out in secret so we’d look smart. My only problem was I couldn’t peel off and reapply the stickers fast enough to not raise suspicion.
  • Baby On board Signs – Creator Michael Lerner came up with an idea to put the signs in cars to encourage people to drive more safely, and it quickly mutated into a way to show your style. His take was more than $38 million after some 15 years in business.

Anything you do is worth doing well. And if you believe that God has a calling on your life to do it, then all the better reason to give it your best. I think Colossians 3:23-24 says it best:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” ~ NIV

The Finishing Touch

In the Bible we’re told to put on “… compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12, NIV)

In business its things like being disciplined, a self-starter and confident.

In friendship its about sharing sorrows and pain, being able to disagree and remain close and earning trust.

But in list after list, and as James puts it so well in the opening words of his book of the Bible, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4, NIV)

I’d been struggling to write this post for a few weeks now. I’ve felt compelled to share it for several reasons, but the largest being that the last thing I ever did for my pastor Lorri Conover before she she went home to be with the Lord two months ago was to read her husband Ed’s favorite book of the Bible to her: James. It just wasn’t that until today I had the proper perspective and words to get my message in order.

Think of all the things that people want from you and then weigh that against what they really need. And I mean really, really need.

I spent three years working for a credit union doing presentations on financial literacy topics, stuff like budgeting, credit and identity theft. But one of my favorite things to cover when talking money was about the difference between wants and needs and how we have seriously screwed up the definition of these two words in our daily lives.

Ask yourself, “What do I NEED to survive?”

Go ahead, I’m waiting…

Got it? You should only have three things.

We need food and water to survive.

We need shelter to survive.

Clothing is a funny thing. We think we need it, but mostly because there are just a large group of us that no one wants to see naked. If you don’t believe me take a break from this post and watch the video below. You’ll see what I mean.

So yeah, we need clothing.

But what others want and really need from us is perseverance. They need to know that no matter how much they screw up, no matter how many dumb things they do, that we will still love them and need them.

If you claim the name of Christ in your life, then you’re going to face trials and tribulations. Those are just 65-cent theological words for you’re going to get hassled, picked on and single out. Be ready for it. Deal with it. But remember this – while God told us up front we’d suffer on account of Him, he also promised to be right there with us to help us get through it.

And it is getting through it that produces perseverance.

When I was younger I was graced with the ability to push through things athletically. I was by no means the fastest, strongest or most talented player on any team I ever played on. And if I was, we didn’t win a lot of games. But then again, Being the ‘big man on campus’ wasn’t my job description. My job on just about every team I ever played on was to push the guys in front of me and make them better. There was little glory in that, except for a strange cult-like following that gave me 20-foot posters in our gym with the nickname ‘Magic Gut’ in neon letters spray-painted across them.

Trust me, that nickname is a story unto itself.

As I’ve grown older I’ve found that persistence and perseverance have served me well. I’m certainly not always be the smartest guy in the room, but it just bugs me a little when people settle for less than what they are capable of.

‘Bugs me a little’ may not be the right phrase. Drives me out of my freakin’ gourd is probably more accurate.

As James goes further in the opening chapter of his epistle, he tells us that we can ask God for stuff that will make us better such as wisdom. But he admonishes us that “… the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV).

I like hats, and a crown is a pretty cool hat.

Perseverance, persistence or tenacity are not merely given, they are awarded. They are like a badge of honor that say you made it through this last task and I can make it through next one as well. It’s kind of like that line from Disney’s Aladdin, “You’d be surprised what you can live through.”

That same tenacity in life can be transposed into our business life as well. If we see a place or a product that God has called us to, we need to pursue it like it is the last thing we’ll ever do on earth. A calling is a calling, period. People have had some pretty weird ideas over the years that became multimillion dollar successes.

Pet Rocks circa 1975

Pet Rocks circa 1975

My favorite was the Pet Rock. A plain, smooth rock in a cardboard box with fake hay in it that people paid $3.95 in 1975 (which is $16.63 in today’s economy) that did NOTHING!

Even if you weren’t on drugs in the 70’s, you had to have been on something or been too close to someone who was to have bought that thing.

Every business opportunity, like everything in life, has to be evaluated. As much as we hate it and hope it will go away after high school, we have to do our homework on everything. We have to use our own eyes, ears and brain to look over whatever gets placed in our paths and make a decision as to whether or not we should get involved in it. We must be persistent, we must persevere to find all of the facts and not just settle when we feel comfortable or get the answer we’re looking for.

That’s how the government and scientists got us into the mess we’re in now.

So what got me so fired to finally get writing all this? Well, as ports typically does in my life, a Sports Center feature reminded me to get off my butt and stay in the game. I may not be a star, but I’m a vital part of the plan. If you don’t believe me, just ask God. He told me I have stuff to do and He probably has a few things on His list for you as well.

“Richie Parker: Drive” by ESPN

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1

For those of you that are a little more musically oriented, I’m gonna close with one my favorite Petra songs from back in the day. Run for the Prize

A Unit by any other name

There are units of measurement, currency and time.

Frank Zappa named his daughter Moon Unit and former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson was called ‘The Big Unit’.

But in the world of finance, Lyoness may be creating the best unit of them all.

The biggest sticking point for a lot of people who look into Lyoness are the Shopping Units that are found in the Back Office. They don’t understand where they come from or how they work, and because the way they operate resembles structures seen in some Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) programs, they shy away without getting any more information.

My goal today is to try and clear up what Shopping Units are and are not in Lyoness and why they operate in a way completely unique to other programs.

The Creation Theory

First, let’s start with where these little buggers come from. Shopping Units are created in one of two ways, the most common being when someone is a Lyoness member and shops with Loyalty Merchants within the program. Each purchase you make gives you 1%-2% cash back, but also gives you another percentage (called a Loyalty Cash) into your back office Loyalty Account. Let’s take a look at a sample of how that might work.

Let’s say you spend $1,000 at Walmart & Sam’s Club in a given month for your family of four, buying food, clothing and gasoline (Sam’s club has great prices on gas, especially here in Las Vegas). Not an unreasonable total for that much stuff. Walmart offers a 1% cash back benefit to Lyoness members, meaning you’d get $10. They also offer a 1% Loyalty Benefit, which would go into your Loyalty Account.

Yep, it’s just that easy.

It is ALIVE!

So now you’ve got $10 in your Loyalty Account. And it will stay there until that account accumulates $75 in value, at which point it becomes a Shopping Unit. Understand, this is not money you’ve put into Lyoness. It’s money that merchants have negotiated with Lyoness to give loyal customers whenever they shop with them.

Small Bus 3That $75 Shopping Unit now starts to snake through the first of five Accounting Levels. This is where sharing Lyoness really comes into play. While you will always get the Friendship Bonus from your Direct and Indirect Referrals, they can also play a part in how fast your Shopping Units make their way through the Accounting Levels.

For your $75 Shopping Unit to get through Accounting Level 1 (AC1), you need a total of 70 Shopping Units behind it – 35 on top and 35 on the bottom. Think of it like a family tree. Your mother’s half of the family needs to supply half the units and your father’s the other. Those supporting units, could also be more of your own Shopping Units as well.

It’s important here to understand that the supporting units could come from you, your Direct or Indirect Referrals or anyone that they refer into Lyoness for as far as the eye can see – and even beyond that! So if you’re interested in making Shopping Units work for you, sharing Lyoness becomes kind of important.

When that $75 Shopping Units gets through AC1, it pays you $675. This payment comes as a result of either you doing one heck of a lot of shopping (and I mean a lot) or you having shared the program effectively with a lot of people. Depending on how many people you have shopping with you, that Shopping Unit could pass through AC1 in a decade, a year or two or maybe even a few months.

Many hands make light work, and can do a lot of shopping.

And when it gets through AC1, that Shopping Unit graduates to AC2 and does it all over again at a higher level. And there are levels all the way to AC5.

Get by with a little help from your friends

There are also some bonuses as that Shopping Unit passes through AC1, you can receive bonuses at some checkpoints before the Shopping Unit even makes it to the end.

For example, when you have six total units behind yours (three on top & three on the bottom), Lyoness pays you $12 if you have at least four people that have registered and become members as a result of your referrals (Direct referrals). When you hit five-and-five for a total of 10 units, they pay an another $18. There are three more bonus check points along the way that total $198 when the level is done, making that initial Shopping Unit not worth just $675, but a grand total of $873 – all because you shared Lyoness effectively.

One more thing … As those Shopping Units go through AC1 they create four more Shopping Units that head back into the Accounting Levels to generate more revenue.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question

It would be easier for me to just give a flat answer here and be done, but to complete the above quote, it wouldn’t be nobler to be so flippant. So here goes…

stick_man_thinking_puzzle_solver_lg_whtYou can purchase additional Shopping Units rather than waiting for them to be generated by your shopping. There are varying amounts that you can spend all the way up to $3,000 (US). At that level, also known as becoming a Premium Member, you would get 13 total Shopping Units. This is called “making a down-payment against future shopping” and is likely the single most misunderstood aspect of Lyoness.

Here’s the one key word you need to remember when thinking about purchasing Shopping Units in Lyoness: OPTIONAL.

There is no obligation to buy them whatsoever. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nil. None. Nada.

So what would be some good reasons to become a Premium Member with Lyoness? For starters, you are immediately eligible to refer people in other countries. “Big Deal” you may say. Well, we don’t all have a ton of friends residing around the world … Or do we?

Social Media like Facebook and Twitter have changed all that. Heck, just from playing a little online game called Puzzle Pirates, I probably have a two or three dozens friends that I chat with on a semi-regular basis that I could talk to about anything, including Lyoness. A few of them reside in India, a country that Lyoness has not gone into yet and that has a population of around 1.3 billion, almost four times that of the United States. One Direct Referral there when it opens up could mean a lot of people helping my shop later on.

But a more realistic reason would be because your a small/medium business that wants to become a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant. I’ll cover all of the potential benefits of becoming one of those in a future post, but the most immediate is that you get your Lyoness business membership cut in half for as long as that promotion lasts. So you’d get those 13 Shopping Units, the ability to recruit globally and customers seeking you out because you give a great deal to Lyoness members.

And finally, when you share Lyoness the tree of people below you will eventually grow to be very big. And when it does, the Shopping Units they create will help yours find their way through the various Accounting Levels. And that will result in your seeing some nice money come your way – all because you shared.

Somewhere down the road…

I promise, I’m not about to break out in a Barry Manilow song. I like you more than that.

road_curve_lg_whtUnits also play a part in the long-term income that can be generated within the Lyoness shopping community. As those that you’ve referred branch out and refer more folks into the program, they will eventually start creating or buying Shopping Units of their own. When they do, and they cannot help but create them, everyone below you that creates a Shopping Unit will earn you points in the Lyoness Commission and Volume Bonus Plan. Its a way that pays you for being very, very effective at sharing and encouraging others to do the same.

So that’s pretty much the story of Shopping Units in Lyoness. They can seem a bit intimidating and confusing, but just rest assured that as people shop they will create them. And as they do, they can be a great way to generate some extra income for everyone involved.

Lyoness is a great way to shop. If you’d like more information on how the program or would like to join, please drop me an email below or click the large blue box at the right. I look forward to hearing from you.

As always, the information and the membership is free!

Lyoness: A common mistake

Whenever I speak to someone about Lyoness, it’s usually a question I get asked within the first 5 minutes.

“Is Lyoness an MLM or pyramid scheme?”

It’s a common mistake to be sure. But when you closely examine programs that are true MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing) and try to compare them to Lyoness, they just don’t match up.

See, MLMs are based on sales. Look at the definitions from a few web pages on MLMs.

Multi-Level Marketing. A sales system under which the salesperson receives a commission on his or her own sales and a smaller commission on the sales from each person he or she convinces to become a salesperson. (LINK)

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit. This recruited sales force is referred to as the participant’s “downline”, and can provide multiple levels of compensation. (LINK)

As can be seen in both examples, for people to make money in an MLM, they have to be selling people something. It is also sometimes referred to as “direct selling”, using personal referrals to get people to buy their product (e.g. Amway, Nu Skin) or lay down cash to join some system (e.g. ACN).

Lyoness is nothing like those.

In a group like Amway or Nu Skin, people make money when you buy their product and become a distributor yourself. But the problem here is that you have to convince people – either those in the system or those outside of it – to buy a product they likely would never buy on a normal shopping trip. It could be stuff they do buy, but at an exaggerated price. And if you decide to be a distributor, you have pre-buy inventory and have a way to store and deliver it to your customers.

Or it could be like ACN, where there are actually a few cool products that consumers might buy. But this program only makes people money if they (A) pay $500 to get into the system and (B) get others to buy into the system as well. People involved in these kinds of MLMs typically find the customer stream of family and friends running dry very quickly for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is who has a spare $500 lying around in this economy?

So how is Lyoness different?

Lyoness is all about the shopping you already do, not selling someone something they don't really need.

Lyoness is all about the shopping you already do, not selling someone something they don’t really need.

First, Lyoness is not predicated on selling, but buying. Sounds like semantics, right? Not really.

People can earn cash back on every purchase they make through a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant. How does that work? Simply put, Lyoness Merchants reroute a portion of their advertising budget to say “Thank You” whenever you shop with them instead of putting that same money in some advertisement and saying “Please come shop with us.”

So you can make money in Lyoness if all you did was shop at member merchants and never told another soul? Yep. Not a lot, but nothing worse than the time you spend sifting through a Sunday paper and cutting out endless coupons for 25 cents off a box of Capt’n Crunch.

Ah, but what if you do share it?

For starters, people joining Lyoness do so for FREE. That’s right, the new member does not spend a single cent to come on board. No big buy-in. No bunch of over-priced products to buy. Just let a Lyoness member know you want to earn cash back whenever you shop, they sign you up and you’re in. It’s that simple.

There is a cost for someone signing up. It can be either $1.50 or a whopping $3.00. Those prices are for being registered online (the former) or by using a Friendship Flier (the latter). And that miniscule cost is born by the person signing you up. They are paying the small processing fee to get you in and saving on your shopping – just like they are already doing.

Now, the person who signs you up will benefit from your shopping. Not your selling, but your buying. And that’s just you buying the things you do every day, week or month. Just shop with Lyoness Loyalty Merchants and everyone benefits.

And for sharing it with you, merchants give the person who referred you to the program a small benefit. Again, it’s not a lot, but share it with a bunch of people and it could end up being anywhere from a few tanks of gas a month to maybe a whole grocery run.

So what’s the catch with Lyoness? When do I have to buy a bunch of stuff from them?

You don’t and you never will.

As you shop, part of the benefit is that a portion of the Loyalty Benefit from each Lyoness Merchant goes into your Back Office. It sits there until it creates an Accounting Unit, or what some members call a Shopping Unit. When that unit equals $75.00, it begins moving through a pipeline based on how many people you’ve shared Lyoness with. And when it pops out of the end of the Level 1 pipeline it’s worth $695. That could take a month or it could take 20 years. It totally depends on how much you want to share the Lyoness cash back shopping program with people you know. It’s all up to you.

And there are five Accounting Levels, each getting progressively bigger as they go.

Cubs-logoThere is an option where you can buy some Shopping Units (known as putting a down payment against future shopping), but that is totally optional. You don’t have to do that ever unless you want to. Again, if you wanted you could just shop with Lyoness Merchants and get your cash back from now until the Cubs win the World Series or the end of the world (whichever comes first, and I wouldn’t wait on Chicago) and no one would ever ask you for any additional cash.

And even if the Cubbies did manage a world title, you’re still not getting hit up for more cash.

Lyoness is different and it’s slowly changing the way people think about shopping. While various stores create their own rewards programs to get people to keep shopping with them, their cards are only good at their store. Lyoness is just people banding together to form the world’s largest shopping community, leveraging the same shopping power as people who belong to Costco or Sam’s Club. (By the way Sam’s Club is a Lyoness Merchant, Costco is not.) The bigger the numbers, the better the discounts.

As of today there are 1,963 merchants in the United States that have joined in, with thousands more around the world.

If you’d like more information on Lyoness, click the image at the right or send me email below. The information is free and so is the membership.

Your cash-back lifestyle is just a click away!

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