Category Archives: Business / Finance

Illegal Immigrants? Follow the Money!

As Deep Throat said in “All the Presidents Men” … Follow the money.

It’s no secret that the United States has an immigration problem. People flow in and out of our borders faster than shoppers on Black Friday when Walmart opens its doors.

And the debate for the last 20+ years, especially since 911, has been how to stop them.

Granted, we there are a nefarious few that are bent on trying to hurt the United States of America. This discussion really doesn’t focus on them. While building a wall will help keep some folks out, it really won’t do much for those seeking to commit atrocities on U.S. soil.

Pew Research CenterWhat I do want to address are the immigrants, which those of Mexican descent seem to be the focus, who come into our country each year without a lot of regulation. The pew Research Center estimates that the number of illegals within our borders has stabilized at about 11 million since 2009, and that about 8 million of those are in the U.S. labor force.

The claim by those wanting to get rid of all illegals is that they are taking jobs in that U.S. citizens could have.

The claim by those who don’t want them exported is that they are doing jobs that Americans don’t want.

So how do we solve this problem?

As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money.”

It seems that if we simply beef up and rigorously enforce the laws that we already have on the books regarding the employment of those in the country illegally (Cornell University Legal Information Institute), the problem will solve itself. Let me explain…

If you read the code linked above, you’ll likely end up in a deep slumber. Suffice it to say there is a lot there that to my untrained eye seems to be fluff. But I think by shortening up the statute, cleaning up the language and making it clear that violators will be prosecuted, we can get this done.

In my view, the whole problem with illegal immigration is that the prospect of coming to America, even be it under bad working and living conditions, is evidently still better than living in their own country. If that’s the case, we need to take away the reasons for their reason for being here: a.k.a. The Money.

With that said, here is my proposal:

  • Establish a uniform I.D Card for American Citizens – This will alleviate some of the issues currently Hiring Employeesexperienced by states that have not yet met the requirements of the Real ID Act. It can even have electronic attachments to it like your state of residence, whether you can drive a car, motorcycle or none of the above and if you’re an organ donor. Oh yeah, if you have a criminal record that would be on there as well.
  • Impose a financial penalty for hiring someone who is not in country legally – For some places like Walmart and Target, fining them something like $10,000 would be the equivalent of hitting a star baseball player with a $10,000 fine for using a corked bat. It looks good to the public, but when they guy makes $20 million a year, it just doesn’t hurt. So the fine for hiring a non-citizen of the United States would 10% of the company’s gross earnings.
  • Impose a jail sentence for hiring a non-citizen – This is where it would get real for people. The jail sentence would be 2 years with no probation for the company’s CEO/Owner and anyone who helped facilitate the hire. If they are found to have done it knowingly and attempted to cover it up, the fine and the jail time automatically double.
  • All employment records are cross-checked with employee tax returns – It’s the computer age. If my son can play something like Call of Duty across the world wide web with a few dozen people, this should be easy pickins. But this allows businesses to prove that they people that they say are working for them actually do. And all of these records are made public, so everyone can see who’s doing it right and who is not.

This means that the United States needs to start talking to each other electronically. It means that people need to be verified BEFORE they start working for you, whether it be on Wall St. as a trader or on Maple St. as a day-laborer building your new deck. It means that people will have to be – Heaven forbid – responsible for what they do.

I know, I’m such a bastard.

The creation of a singular ID card for citizens will also be immensely helpful in other areas like voting and healthcare. If you walk into vote during an election and you don’t have a card, then you don’t vote. Same with health care. I know that seems harsh, and there will be some very unique exceptions, but while the United States is a charitable nation, we need to make that decision in our homes and offices and not because someone just decided to come here and get something for nothing.

Now I’ve heard the argument before that requiring ID to vote will prevent some folks from voting. Sorry, but that’s just ignorant. We’re not charging for this card, you get it when you prove you’re a citizen of the United States. It gives you access, it doesn’t take it away. And it would give those with it in their possession preference over those that do not have it.

Without a source of income and healthcare, illegals will find living here a lot tougher. They will clearly have more options and opportunities in their home country then they would here when they enter the U.S. illegally.

Building a wall? Decent P.R. move but poor execution.

If you really want to get illegals to leave and not have some gigantic police state where actual citizens are getting tossed over the border by mistake, you have to take away their reason for being here.

No money, no reason to be here.

How to sync your Facebook Calendar with Google Calendar

NOTE – From the Blog BufferSocial.com, a great tip to help you keep all of your Facebook events synced with your daily life.

 

If you’re looking for a way to get all of your events in one place, this is it. Syncing your Facebook Calendar will help you stay in sync with all of the events from your favorite groups. And when you use the Google Calendar app on your smartphone, you’ll have all of your appointments right at your fingertips.

How to sync your Facebook Calendar with Google Calendar

I find this one is extremely helpful. My calendar is like my personal assistant, and I use it to plan and organize both my work and social schedules.

If you use both Facebook events and Google Calendar, combining the two is amazingly useful and pretty simple. Here’s how to do it:

Head over to Events on Facebook, and click on one of your ‘Upcoming events.’ Once you’re on the event page, click on the ‘Options’ button and select ‘Export Event’ from the dropdown, as shown below:

export-event

Next you’ll see the below lightbox popup. Here you’ll want to copy the URL under ‘Subscribe to all upcoming events on your calendar.’

save-url

Once you’ve copied the URL, open up Google Calendar and on the left-hand side you’ll see an option called ‘Other Calendars.’ Click on the drop down next to ‘Other Calendars’ and choose “Add by URL” as shown below.

Once the lightbox opens up, insert the URL you copied from Facebook and your Facebook events will now sync with Google Calendar.

google-calendar

Let them eat cake.

Since Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” law was passed, it’s just getting weird up in here.

For some reason, the central debate seems to be over a Christian baker having to service a gay couple’s wedding. And in the discussions I’ve had, it all seems to be about who knows what and when they know it.

As I see it, the cake has nothing to do with someone getting married. It’s an optional part of the post-ceremony celebration. It has nothing to do with a couple – be it man-woman, man-man or woman-woman – getting legally married in any of the 50 United States or its territories.

If I’m wrong, please let me know.

If you don’t think so, then take Las Vegas, Nevada as example. There’s an average of 315 weddings per day (http://www.lasvegas-how-to.com/fun-facts.php) in Sin City, and most of those go off without a cake. In fact my guess more of them include Elvis than they do a cake.

And no, I will not be debating the religious validation of “The King” on the wedding vows. At least not today.

But the defense I hear is that if a gay couple came into a Christian baker’s shop, that the Christian would then know that the cake they were making is for a gay wedding and thus, violate their Christianity and causing them to sin. Those standing behind this equivocate baking the cake with participating in the marriage ceremony, and that’s where they lose me.

As far as I can tell, a marriage ceremony needs only a couple wanting to be wed, a marriage license, a witness and someone who is legally able to wed them. Some states require a blood test, but I think even that gets waived in some places.

Cakes are for the celebration of that event. So maybe that could be touchy, but I still don’t think so. Here’s why…

romans-323If it is the fact that a Christian knows that the cake they are making is being used for a gay wedding that is the crucial point – meaning they know it will be used by a sinful person(s) to celebrate a sinful event – then Christians cannot be businessmen. Why? Because Christians know that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

See Christians know that everyone, including themselves, are sinners. And if the qualifier as to whether or not you can sell to someone is their status regarding sin, then Christians have no one they can sell to – not even those of their own faith or particular denomination.

Sin has no hierarchy, therefore all sin is the same. So from a Christian standpoint, someone living a homosexual lifestyle is just as much a sinner as someone who lies, steals or even takes the Lord’s name in vain. And that’s just three of the Ten Commandments.

No, the issue as I see it is that Christians are once again attempting to legislate their faith rather than actually live it out. It seems like people of faith think it would be a lot easier to pass a law and force people to live they do – or at least the way they are supposed to be living – rather than live their lives in such a way as to cause people to choose God over life without Him.

See, if a Christian baker were to live their lives and run their business in such a way that God was honored in every aspect, then I find it very unlikely that gay people would even want to venture in the door. In fact, I’m pretty sure the God I serve is big enough to handle whatever comes down the pike in that regard.

I once owned a photography business and I sent out some emails to various club teams and programs asking if they might have need of a photographer for their events as well as team and individual shots. On the bottom of each email I included a Bible verse that we based on business on (“As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. Proverbs 27:19).

One night I got a response from a gymnastics group stating that the club’s coach would love to use us, but that she didn’t do business with people who put Bible verses on their emails. I wrote back and told her that while I understood her choice, that we decided honoring God in our business was important. She sent several more terse communications and each time I told her we’d just have to agree to disagree.

We were by no means a big business and offering to cave might have gotten us the contract and some cash. But I felt we were better off honoring God.

Later that night a purchase came in for about $40 on an account that was more than a month old, a 911 event that we had shot in Las Vegas. I figured it was probably a straggler that just got around to ordering their images. But a few minutes later another came in, and another. In an hour we had done some $200 in business. And within the next 24 hours we did almost $1,000 total from an account that we thought had run its course.

God had something else in mind.

Christians – and I mean this in a loving way – get up off your butts and quit trying to force the world to live the way you chose to. God affords every sinner the opportunity to CHOOSE him. None of us were forced to be Christians, we chose to follow Christ. We chose it because we saw in someone else a way of life that we felt was better than what we had been living.

Quit trying to be lawyers and start being the light and salt of the world, shining so brightly that the darkness that’s left will simply fade away.

God doesn’t need more chefs in the kitchen making up their own recipes, he needs more delivery people getting the Bread of Life to starving masses.

Not Even Close

Religion (as defined by Meriam Webster)

1 a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

   b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness
4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Watch that definition very closely, because it’s about to be changed.

Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law is anything but, essentially giving people carte blanche to discriminate againstReligious_Freedom-09cbc anyone if they don’t lineup with their personal beliefs. The law has, in essence, created personalized police state that allows any individual to be judge, jury and executioner if someone disagrees with them.

The law, signed into action my Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), allows businesses to deny business to anyone who doesn’t fit into their personal set of beliefs. Notice I said beliefs and not religion, because it is in that fourth line of the definition that this law will find it’s doom – assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down before the ink dries.

And if you think I’m wrong, then you’ve never been in Indiana during basketball season as an opponent.

An article in The Daily Grind from March 28 relates how an Indiana business owner named Ryan called into 100.9 RadioNOW and professed his support of the new law, stating that he freely discriminated against the LGBT community. I’d love to tell you the man’s last name or that of his business, but he refused to give them.

Before I get into what I believe are the Christian ramifications of this law, let’s take a brief look at this particular business owners actions:

  1. Ryan (the business owner) thinks discriminating against the LGBT community because they are in sin is OK. Let’s run with that for a moment. I wonder if Ryan remembers the time before he was a Christian? You know, when he was a sinner. I wonder if he would have been OK with people discriminating against him then? And will he be OK when he walks into a place owned by someone in the LGBT community and they kindly tell him to get out because he doesn’t match up with their beliefs? Or would he be even more surprised to enjoy an excellent meal, only to have the owners tell him where he had been eating afterwards?
  2. Ryan’s personal convictions are so weak that after “bravely” calling the radio station to spout his nonsensical rhetoric and boast of his “religious” stance, he won’t tell the station his last name or what his business’ name or location is. Wow! What moral conviction! Plus he gets free air time and missed a chance at a major plug that, as we now see, would have gone nationwide. This guy is clearly a marketing genius too.
  3. Ryan’s faith is such (I will call it outright fake, cheap at best) that instead of telling people why he is discriminating against them, he lies to them. So not standing up for his ‘faith’ aside, that commandment about bearing false witness goes right out the window too.
  4. And assuming his has any measure of actual faith in him, when Ryan has people that he believes are in sin in his business, he ignores the one commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder if Ryan knows that Jesus came to earth and hung out exclusively with the sinners of the day, eating with them and ministering to them? I mean the only “quality” time that Jesus spent with the religious leaders of the day, they were in the process of trying to kill Him.

Christians are split on this matter and I feel it’s due to a concern about what they will have to give up in order to allow people who are not of their faith make a decision about Christ. What would they be giving up – the safety of their personal religious cocoon – the one Christ never intended us to have.

I have a friend named Greg who I have known since kindergarten. As the electronic age has come upon us and the miles between us have grown, Greg and I have taken to debating a number of issues through social media. We usually focus on politics and religion, so you can only guess that this new law was hotly debated just a few days ago.

Some Christians view the mere act of serving someone not of their faith as denying Christ and participating in that customer’s sin. For example, if you were a caterer and baked a gay couple a cake or food, that that constitutes taking part in their ceremony. Another might be a photographer taking pictures of that same wedding.

Others, like myself, think that it would require more than just providing the service. So in the case of caterer, I don’t wedding-cake-ideasfind an issue with a Christian baking a cake for a gay wedding or even serving the food, for that matter. But if they wanted me to serve it some plate with sexually suggestive images on it or wanted the cake to look like a phallic symbol, then I’m not the caterer for them. Likewise, as a photographer I’d have no issue taking the various images that you normally take at a wedding, including what are sure to be variances due to a couple being both men or both women. But if those images were to include anything suggestive, I’d have to tell that those are services my business does not provide.

The Apostle Paul clearly spoke to this matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Verses 20 and 21 are the keys as I see it. Verse 20 addresses those that are under the law (those of Jewish faith) and that we should become as though we under that law, even though we are not. The Jews are the extreme opposite of the LGBT community, adhering to laws and rules that we, as Christians, think were done away with by Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Verse 21 goes to the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that to those without any law we should also become like them – even though we are still under the law of God.

And that may be the sticking point. Just like when you were dating and minded all of the Ps and Qs you would later forget about after you got married, following the law of the Jews is easy for a short time to try and show them the salvation of Christ as we know it. But where do you draw the line going the other way?

Over the years I have made a number of friends who are gay and even have one family member who has expressed an interest in that lifestyle. We eat, we hang out, we do things together. But when it comes down to things like affection, we give a friendly hug and that’s it. When it comes time to eat, I say a prayer over my food quietly while they usually start chowing down.

See, what I think Christians today are forgetting is that becoming a Christian is a choice. God doesn’t force it on us, nor does He want to. God wants you to be under his guidance, care and discipline because we choose to be, not because we have to. And it is that choice, one that every Christian has to make (and no, you are not born into Christianity. But that’s a topic for another post) that they seem to forget that were allowed to make by God Himself. And it is a decision that, for some strange reason, they don’t want to let anyone else make for themselves.

If a person of the LGBT community coming into your business and buying a sandwich or a shirt is that threatening to your Christianity, then your faith isn’t worth a plug nickle. If all it takes is the mere presence of sin in someone else – and believe me, there is still sin in every Christian because none of us are perfect. NONE of us! – to throw you off track, then you better close your business, go home and plant your nose in your Bible and prayer 24/7.

God wants us in the world. He needs us in the world. We are His hands and feet, carrying the gospel to all of the lost, not just the people that we’re OK sharing it with.

In a time when the forces of the day were openly giving letters of authority to hunt down and kill Christians, God called the worst offender of them all to his ministry to preach His word. He preached it to the people of that time and to millions since.

His name was Paul.

Christ broke down all of the Christian faith into two commandments and one commission. The commission we covered above, but the first commandment is to love God with everything you have. The second was like it and was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Notice is doesn’t say “fellow Christian” or “like believer”, it says neighbor. Your neighbor may be a Christian, or they may be gay, or lesbian or even worse in Indiana – a Michigan fan.

And finally, if you think that discriminating against the LGBT community is OK and a righteous thing to do, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine with it when they turn the tables on people of faith. Don’t think it will happen? Maybe you should take a gander at the book of Revelations:

It (the second beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” ~ Revelations 13:16-17

As Christians, I do not believe that we are afforded the luxury of ignoring the masses that do not share our faith. Christ’s Great Commission requires us to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s the only way that we can reach the lost. It was the only way that any Christian was ever reached with the Gospel.

I’m going to include links to two songs that I feel are very germane to the topic at hand. The first is from Steve Taylor and speaks to doing business with people who do not share our Christian faith. The second is from Petra and speaks to a Christians desire to sit safely inside their church, never reaching out to world around us.

 

A Few Questions for “The Interview”

OK, I’m tossing this theory out there. Believe me, I know it’s a long shot and pretty unlikely. But when I think of the myriad of other things that have happened over the years that were scams or just unbelievable things that individuals/companies have done, this one looks like one of the more mild ones. So here goes …

What if the whole thing with “The Interview” was a planned publicity stunt?interview_tout_large

Grab some cookies and milk. This is gonna take a while.

You have a movie that, by normal standards, was getting OK reviews in advance of its Christmas Day opening and the whole debacle with the North Koreans. And even after it’s showing online and at some 300 theaters across the U.S., it’s still pretty mixed.

“The Interview” cost $44 million to make, which is roughly equivalent to what it’s competition – “Unbroken” ($15.59 million), “Into The Woods” ($15.08 million) and the two-week old “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” (#13.14 million) – made in a DAY. Toss in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” ($7.35 million) and “The Gambler” ($5 million) and there wasn’t going to be much of a box office left for Seth Rogen and James Franco to get a piece of. And with at least the top four movies in that list with significant staying power, “The Interview” was just never going to make a ton of money any time soon.

So, we have a so-so movie scheduled to open on a very powerful weekend. Not a good mix from the get go.

Then we have Franco and Rogen. Neither are Hollywood elites and generally make second-tier movies that make some money, but not a bunch. And neither is anything like the traditional stars we all know and love. Rogen is generally considered a bit of a loose cannon, and there always seems to be an inference that he is “on something.” Franco is a multi-talented guy who is always trying something new, and who loves a good joke.

And so here we are: Sony pushing a marginal flick with a pair of stars who just might go along with a gag like this if would help the film make money.

Yeah, I know. It seems too farfetched, too insane and just flat out crazy.

But let’s assume for a moment that a meeting was held in some shadowy back office at Sony one night with just a handful of players involved. What might the reasoning have been to try and pull the wool over the world’s eyes?

I can’t have that? Gimme 12 of ’em!

Let’s start with the outrage. I mean, aside from Denis Rodman, who really has a whole lot good to say about North Korea to begin with? We already know that Kim Jong-un is certifiable, recently proclaiming that no children born in his country may share his name and that those who already do must change it. He has made it clear he has no love for America, but has little armament to do much about it, and so he becomes the perfect patsy.

But think about Jong-un’s ego for just a second. If he and North Korea really had been able to hack Sony’s system, doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy who would brag about it endlessly? Much like the Klingon empire, he rules by showing his superiority over another nation to his people. It seems to me that he would have much to gain by claiming this accomplishment as his own and playing the heck out of it in front of his population, not to mention the world.

So with a hated rival apparently stopping the release of this movie, American’s felt outrage. “How dare you tell us what we can and cannot watch! Why, we’ll go see this now even if we weren’t going to before!” A Dec. 22 story on Wired.com stated that the ratings people are giving the film (mostly people who haven’t seen it) are summed up in this way, “By giving The Interview glowing reviews, the thinking goes, those making the threat will hear loud and clear that the people support this movie and will not buckle to terrorists.”

Yeah, there we go. Invoke a little 911 terrorist backlash sentiment and we get a few more people to show up for a film that they might never have seen, much less rented.

Read All About It!

Interview Bad-Press-PublicityThere is no such thing as bad publicity (Succès de scandale), or so they saying goes. As stated previously, the reviews for “The Interview” were mixed. And like any good American company, Sony can’t afford to have one of its products sit around forever attempting to recoup its original $44 million cost. They are about making money, not breaking even.

So the reasoning might have been that if “The Interview” was going to be a financial stinker anyways, why not take a shot and see if it can do something that no other movie has – debut successfully online.

Assuming the hack was faked, Sony’s stunt did cause a bunch of regular theaters to jump ship at the first sign of terrorist threats. Threats, mind you, that the Department of Homeland Security could never verify. According to Slashfilm.com, “… the Department of Homeland Security says there’s no credible info to indicate an actual threat. (to theaters)”

So with most theaters out of the loop, Sony stands to make more money from the film by not having to split it them.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.

Movies are costing more and more for the public to see, and that’s an issue for … well … the public. Sony may have come up with an idea years ago and “The Interview” may have provided the perfect testing ground for it.

Sony is big into electronics. Duh! And while they do great at movies, they do immensely better in what they’ve been doing for years – electronics. So why not try and corner the market by providing the buying public with both?

“The Interview”, which did draw over $1 million in just 300+ theaters and that could be streamed online through limited outlets, could be Sony’s test case for releasing movies straight to services like Netflix, YouTube Movies and GooglePlay in the future. Why go through all the hassle of theaters and them taking a cut when you can go straight to the consumer? And who’s to say that Sony couldn’t just make its own home entertainment network more accessible and just release them there?

But if Sony can convince movie lovers that there’s nothing better than seeing a movie in the comfort of their own home – which they do a pretty good job of already – then they already have a foot jammed further in the door to sell them more high-end equipment to create their own home theater experience.

Yeah, it sounds crazy. Crazy like a fox.

Does the jury have a verdict?

So one argument I hear over and over are the lawsuits that are being filed against Sony for not protecting the personal information of its workers in the hack by the Guardians of Peace (GOP). OK, maybe so. Can someone provide me a list of Sony Workers so we can we verify that they are, in fact, actually employed at Sony? Or even exist at all.

Look, I know it’s a reach. But if this is playing out like some bizarre Hollywood script – about as crazy as a talk show host being asked to assassinate the leader of North Korea – then disseminating the names of a bunch of fake people and all of their fake personal data is well within the realm of possibility.

So, two hackers walk into a bar…

Want to hear something funny, try the generous message from the GOP to Sony employees about the potential release of their personal data:

“Message to SPE Staffers,” it read. “We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees. If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.” (NYPost.com)

Employees working in a call centerI have to be honest here, I get a little perturbed when I have to reset the password for one of the people on our church staff of 11, because it escapes me how they forget their email password and don’t just have the browser remember it. But the GOP, the guys who slithered their way through Sony’s digital security, seem more than happy to sort through almost 141,000 names to make sure that one person’s data won’t be released if they just “drop them a line.”

Try getting that kind of service from your typical bill collector or telemarketer.

What’s good for the goose…

Since the government got involved in the hack, Sony could face some pretty stern discussions with members of the House and Senate if this is all a fake. Heck, they may even get called befor a subcommittee or Homeland Security and get asked “What the hell were you thinking?”

So what’s the government going to do? Close Sony down? Fine them into oblivion?

Doubtful.

Ford Automotive, one of the car manufacturers that got part of the $80 billion bailout in 2009, employees roughly 180,000 people. If they are too big to lose, then why would a company that essentially pulled an oversized prank get a worse punishment? The government is stupid, but not that stupid … especially with an election year looming on the horizon.

How well would it go with the younger crowd if you’re the senator who killed “Paul Blart 2”?

Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.

As a result of the ‘hack’, Sony had approximately 50 scripts released for various movies. (BGR.com) Thirty of these were for films that were already released.

Interview TalladegaSo, exactly when was the last time you saw a great movie and suddenly ravaged your Google search engine looking for its script? If you have, then you seriously need to move out of your parent’s basement.

Oh, and none of the already released movies were anything of note. Unless of course your local theater group is hoping to do a stage production of “Talladega Nights” or one of the first two “Smurfs” movies.

Of the 20 that have not been released, there’s nothing earth-shattering about the titles either. “Annie” and “When the Game Stands Tall” have already opened, so now it’s an 18-32 split. Of the remaining flicks, we all know pretty much how every “Paul Blart” movie is going to go, with a few pratfalls that we may not have seen coming. But getting the scripts for stuff like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Smurfs 3” (yeah, it’s a trilogy now just like “The Matrix” and “Ironman”) is not going to break anyone’s bank.

And again, who is going to be checking these scripts word for word when these movies are released? If this is you, it’s just another reason to get out of your parent’s basement.

You’ve got mail.

So the basic crime here is that some executives had some emails published that were less than favorable reviews of some of their stars. Let’s face it, as far as this goes it’s pretty slim pickins. We all know that stars think they are end-all-be-all of the world, while execs believe the world could spin on its axis without them at the helm. Neither party likes the other and I’m fairly sure that if they started publishing the emails of various stars, none of them would be too flattering about the execs either.

Toss in what films cost, discussions on luncheons and tennis matches and the budget for the Motion Picture Association of America and you have the equivalent of most folk’s spam folders.

This one’s a wash at best.

Push *#62##7*3 For Customer Support

Interview FBI The Feds were able to trace the cyber attack, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers stating that he was “fairly confident” that North Korea was involved. (Deadline.com) But today (Dec. 27) FoxNews.com released a story where critics have a number of more likely theories on who hacked Sony, on e of which was a Sony employee.

And North Korea’s infrastructure is looking less and less likely to be the source of the hack. It has just over 1,000 IP addresses, one ISP (Star Joint Venture Co. and is used almost solely by the government. Sounds like Kim Jong-un and his crew barely have enough power to run a Roomba, much less try and hack Sony.

That’s a wrap everybody!

In the end, I’m finding a lot more reasons to believe that this whole thing is a giant publicity stunt than one would think. Yes, it would take incredible daring and gall to pull off, but if it is and if they did do it, the rewards could be almost unimaginable.

Almost as much as two bungling TV personalities actually killing the dictator of a third-world country.

Sources: Forbes.com, USMagazine.com, Wired.com, Wikipedia.com, NYPost.com, BGR.com, Nola.com and others listed in story.

5 is the friendliest number

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one
~ Thee Dog Night (1969)

There may have been a good reason for the classic rock band to have stopped at two back in the day, but likely not because they figured out what we now know today about the number five.

pool_ball_5_rolling_lg_whtThere are lots of ways to get the message out about your business. But its generally accepted that the best form of advertisement is word of mouth. There is something about the personal referral that really seems to hit home with people.

So how do you get people chatting about your business, and particularly in a favorable fashion?

A good product helps. But even great products have gone bad when service isn’t part of the equation. People like to feel special.

Lyoness, like a lot of other home based businesses, relies on people sharing it for those involved to be successful. But when hit with the initial though of sharing something like that, people tend to freeze.

I recently did a survey where I asked people to think about something in their life that they were at least somewhat passionate about. It could be a person, a project or a cause, but the important things was that they cared about it to some degree. And when asked to consider that, I asked them how effective they though they could be sharing it with others.

Of those that responded, just over 86% thought they could share that passion with others and recruit at least five people they know to help with that cause and be somewhat passionate about it as well. Another six percent thought they could share their passion with others, but not get five people.

I also asked if they thought they could accomplish the task in 30 days? 77% thought they could do that while 6% thought it would take them longer than that. Eight percent though that they could do it in less than that amount of time.

So in summary, about 4 out of 5 people thought they could recruit the five people and do so in 30 days.

“OK Allen, why all the stats? Are you gonna start talking about your days as a high school basketball player again or something?”

No, I only bore my wife and kids with that stuff.

But what those stats show is that roughly 80% of people in my survey thought they could share something they believed in.

So the question is: Do you believe in Lyoness?

Recently some seminars have shown that by just sharing the Lyoness cash back card program with five people, and helping them do the same thing, can have dramatic results.

Let’s say in a month you share Lyoness with five people, so there are six of you. And in the next month those five people share it with five more of their own. That means that your Direct and Indirect referrals now number 30. Not too shabby. And if you all spend $1,250 a month with Lyoness merchants on the things you already buy, you get a minimum of $12.50 in cash back and get $187.50 in Friendship Bonuses.

Not too shabby!

But let’s assume that you and your 30 friends all take your cash back rewards and route them into your back office. I mean, seriously, what are you going to do with $12.50 but blow it on lattes and scones, right?

The reason you’d put it into your back office is that it would give you a minimum of $25 a month in your Loyalty Account. That means that every three months like clock work you and your friends would create a Shopping Unit. More on that in a minute.

Back to you 25 Indirect Referrals for a moment. What if they kept up the trend and in 30 days referred five more of their friends into Lyoness. That would add 125 more people to you tree. And if that replication process continues every 30 days, with everyone spending $1,250 with Lyoness merchants, at the end of month four you have 625 more people in your tree. At the end of five months there are 3,125 new people and after six there are 15,625 more.

So what do all of these people mean? Well, remember that every three months they generate a Shopping Unit. And as they do the sheer number of units passing through your group of referrals will establish you in the Volume Commission and Volume Bonus sections of Lyoness. When those 3,125 people generate their units, they establish you at Level 5.

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoNo, that doesn’t make you one of the Agents of Shield.

What it does do is qualify you for a $4,500 monthly payment and at least $1 for each of the 3,000-plus units that got you there. That’s a payout of at least $7,000.

And once you’re established as a Level 5, you’re good for six months. Hit the Level 5 qualifications again just once in that period, and the clock resets for another six months.

Those are just two of the 10 ways to get paid in Lyoness, and Level 5 is only halfway up the Volume Commission schedule. A little hard work and encouragement of your team could pay off big down the road.

All because you saw fit to share Lyoness with just five people.

So how much can you do?

If you’d like more information about Lyoness, send me an email or leave a comment below. You can also open your email program by clicking on the Lyoness link on the right of this blog. As always, the information and the membership are totally free.

Tis The Season For Shopping

It’s a wonder Santa Claus hasn’t taken a cue from Costco and Sam’s Club and started making his rounds in August.

santa_claus_lounge_on_beach_11_30_08_pc_proBut even as ol’ St. Nick spends his final three months of vacation in a thong somewhere on a Bermuda beach (Yeah, try and get THAT mental picture out of your head) we’re turning the corner on that time of year when we our thoughts turn to presents, snow and tons of great food.

And with all of that we’ll spend a ton of money.

That’s right, beginning October 1, we’ll begin the biggest single spending quarter of the year. What with presents, big meals and people traveling everywhere, Americans spend more in the last three months of the year than at any other time.

So as consumers and small businessmen, how can we take advantage of that?

As business owners, finding new ways to attract customers is key. If we can get them now we may be able to keep them well into the new year.

As consumers, we know that businesses are fighting for our hard earned dollars. So we should be looking for the best deals and savings and any way that we can increase our buying power.

Lyoness gives both sides of that equation just what they’re looking for.

I Buy, Therefore I Am

Think about all of the stuff you’re going to buy in the next few months. For most of us the expense of gifts alone with be several hundred dollars, if not a thousand. We’ll probably hit a few dozen stores to collect just the right gifts for the people on our list, even though one in seven of our recipients (14.3%) will return them.

christmas_presents_bouncing_lg_whtYeah Aunt Edna, I’m watching you.

Gift cards have grown in popularity over the years, with one study showing that nearly 61% of adults would rather have one of those than something they may end up returning or not using.

As a gift giver, Lyoness gives you the perfect opportunity to make the best of both scenarios. Whether you shop online or in person, whether you’re buying actual gifts or loading up on gift cards, Lyoness can help you save money and earn extra cash.

If you remember from a few posts back, we saw a stat that showed the average family of four spends about $1,500 a month on things that a Lyoness membership would help save money on. So over the final quarter of the year that would be $4,500. And for the sake of argument, let’s say that same family is going to spend about $2,500 extra on presents, food and travel to get to grandma’s house (driving over the river and through the woods is not cheap). So all in all, about $7,000 in expenditures.

I think my wallet just had a seizure.

But then it remembered it had a Lyoness card in it and all is well.

Over the course of the coming quarter a Lyoness member could earn as much as $140 in cash back, not to mention what could be going into his piggy bank (aka Back Office). With some retailers giving as much as 10% in Loyalty Benefits, that could add up to an additional $700. That’s almost 10 shopping units.

But remember the Lyoness mantra – Shop, Share and Repeat!

So if you make any kind of an effort to share Lyoness and they made similar expenditures in this final quarter, your Friendship Bonus for their purchases would net you $35 per family. Share it with just 5 people and that’s $175. Share it with 10 and its $350.

And if your five friends share it with five friends, all of similar family size, that’s $1,050 in Friendship Bonuses. If you had shared it with 10 and they shared it with five, (that’s 55 people contributing to the bonuses) you’d earn $1,925.

That simple act of shopping and sharing could  pay for your normal $1,500 in expenditures for all of January, and leave you a few hundred bucks to start planning your wife’s Valentine’s Day gift.

Yeah guys, I’m lookin’ out for ya here.

Ummm … What’s In It For Me?

So I’m a business and all these shoppers are able to make money by using Lyoness over the holidays. Can I use it to make money too?

Lyoness will hit more than 100,000 members in the U.S. well before year’s end. At this time last year when I first registered I was member 28 thousand and change. And at that time, there were only a few hundred businesses online. Now there are more than 2,000 merchants in the states and thousands more around the world.

man_riding_graph_higher_lg_whtLyoness is growing and growing fast. And as a business, you need to take advantage before the opportunity passes you by in more ways than one.

First, don’t miss the opportunity this holiday season to become a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant. Lyoness members are looking for deals, for ways to save money and make money while they shop. They are fiercely dedicated to finding deals. Become one of their choices.

Secondly, Lyoness will only allow up to 50% of the businesses in a given industry to become part of their network in each city. That allows their loyalty merchants to have a leg up on the competition. So if you owned one of 10 restaurants in a given city and five of them registered, you’d be out of luck unless two more came along.

Don’t sell your hair to wig shop, become a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant today.

Another big advantage of getting on board before this holiday season starts is that you can register customers as Lyoness members when they come in. They’ll shop with you and get cash back and loyalty benefits. They’ll be happy, come backl and tell their friends.

But they won’t likely spend all $2,500 of that extra money in your store (but if they did, WOO HOO!). So as they scurry about getting gifts and fruit cakes for their loved ones, you’ll be earning Friendship Bonuses on all of their purchases with other Lyoness merchants.

The average person maybe has eight or nine friends they’ll be able to easily register for Lyoness. As a business, you have hundreds of customers every day that are all looking for savings. What better way to help them out by offering them a free Lyoness membership that saves them money in your store and thousands more around the world?

And what a great gift for your employees? Register them, let them register your customers and they could start earning a great holiday bonus that will show up every month throughout the year!

If you get any of your suppliers to become Lyoness Loyalty Merchants, or maybe you already shop at some place like Sam’s Club for a bunch of your stock and supplies, you could be earning even more cash back.

Joining Lyoness is smart move any time of the year, but getting on board now with the holidays closing in is a great chance to take advantage of the extra shopping you and others are going to do anyway. Don’t miss out.

If you’d like more information on Lyoness or would like to get registered so you can start turning your expenses into income, leave a comment below or drop me a line via email. The information  and the membership are always free.

Are You Ready For Some Business?

It’s really a shame that Hank Williams Jr. wasn’t able to communicate his political views as effectively as his love for football. I really miss him opening up Monday Night Football games.

But tell me, are you ready to do business? Really, really ready?

With all due respect to those like my wife who go through life making plans that have all the attention to detail of a third-grader’s water color project, making a business work takes detailed planning and effort. So let’s take a look at what we’ve got to do to get things moving in the right direction.

And in business, the right direction is any upward movement in the bottom line.

To be successful we have to consider the four basic elements of any good marketing plan. Dr. Jabs at California Baptist University (Riverside, Calif.) drilled these into my head over and over back in the day, and no matter how hard you try everything boils down to them.

Product. Price. Place. Promotion .

Goods and Services.

What you’re selling is perhaps the most important of these four. Dr. Jabs might beg to differ, but over the years I’ve found that if you don’t really believe in what your trying to sell, you’ll never give it 100 percent. Oh, you might for awhile to impress some supervisor, but eventually you’ll slack off because you just won’t be that passionate about it.

Pet Rocks circa 1975

Pet Rocks circa 1975

Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in several industries where I really loved the business I was working for and the products we were promoting. When I was teaching, that look of accomplishment and understanding on a student’s face was the best high ever. When I was giving seminars on financial literacy in schools and to the community, hearing stories of how I had effected someone’s budget and quality of life did it. And as a sports editor for nearly nine years, getting to tell exciting game stories every day was just incredible.

For me the trigger seems to be making a difference. And that is a big reason I latched onto Lyoness when it was presented to me. Lyoness allows people to earn a few extra bucks back on their every day shopping without any buy in whatsoever. And with that same free membership, they can share the program at a minimal cost and create a small to medium revenue stream.

Lyoness helps people help themselves.

So what is it that drives you? Is it making a difference? Is it the pride and prestige of being the leader? Is it the almighty dollar? Look at your past jobs and what has made you really happy in them. Ask people you’ve worked with when they thought you were at your best. You might  be surprised.

Now that good feeling aside, you really do have to have a product that people want and, at least in their mind, that they think they need. Real need versus perceived need is unimportant, as the latter becomes the same as the former if people believe it. Don’t believe me? Why do you think we have a gazillion fast food places? It ain’t because we really need them, it’s because we think we need them. Get rid of them and America’s obesity problem ceases to exist.

My nephew once had a great idea for a trash can that stopped the bag from bubbling up with air when you put a new liner in. It was a plastic can like every other one you see in the grocery store, except it had small holes in the bottom to let air out to prevent the bubbling problem. He had a patent company give him rave reviews and they took some of his cash and even got to a development stage before finding out that no one really wanted the product.

Why? Well, there were two reasons. First, anyone with a hand drill could easily punch a few holes into their one plastic trash container and solve the bubbling problem. Second, anyone who has done that knows that no matter how clean you are, the inside bottom of your trash container gets stuff on it and starts to stink. And when there are holes in your can, you whole kitchen stinks.

Nice idea. Bad execution.

So check your idea to make sure it meets an actual need, that it works and that it can’t be easily replicated. That’s a great start.

But as P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And as a culture, Americans are some of the biggest suckers around.

I say that to point out that not every product is going to have some logical use or function. Don’t believe me? I leave you with two words: Pet Rocks.

I rest my case.

How Much Is That Gonna Cost Me Again?

As Madonna told us, we’re living in a material world, and we’re all pretty much material girls.

Price is really the center point of whether or not your product will survive. It’s the key player on the Supply-Demand Curve that will determine whether you make it big or make nothing at all.

quarter_guy_walking_lg_whtI’ve always found price to be a funny thing. You can have a great product and determine that you want to make just a little on each sale, but sell a lot of them to make a substantial profit. But when the consumer looks at it they say, “Well, it doesn’t cost very much so it must not be very good quality.” It makes no sense to the businessman trying to crack into a new market, but we’re not selling to ourselves. Again, the perception becomes the reality and reading what the consumer is thinking is the key.

Most recently I saw this in my freelance photography business. I take great pictures but couldn’t get enough gigs as my prices were evidently too low. I actually had people tell me they thought I must be giving them a cut rate product, when what I was trying to do was make the youth sports picture buying process more affordable for the masses. Having been through that as a player and a parent, I knew how much is spent on my kid’s athletic endeavors.

But when I raised my prices, the gigs started coming. It made no sense, but it made me more money.

It’s been my experience that people will buy into a 10%-20% discount on the going price and not think there is a drop off in quality. But go much beyond that and their wheels start turning, even if its done with bogus inferences and information.

And that may be one of the biggest hurdles that Lyoness faces. While multi-level-marketing (MLM) companies keep trying to bring people in with promises of big money only after some initial buy-in, Lyoness seeks to do exactly the opposite. The returns are small at first and are completely dependent on your business savvy and effort.

The price is definitely right, its just not what people expect.

Where’s Waldo & Your Product

Where you plan to sell your product is also important, but less so in today’s internet-driven market. But unless your Chris Henson, a buddy of mine from college, you better look into it closely.

travel_map_lg_whtChris was a unique guy who I’ve always said could probably sell anything to anyone. One day while chatting I told him just that, stating “I bet you could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.” Without missing a beat he replied, “You bet! To them its a heater.”

That kind of thinking eludes me most days. I have flashes, but that thought process is rare and does not come easily for most of us.

I’ll state the obvious by saying that you’re likely not going to do well selling snow cones in the middle of the Christmas rush, unless of course you’re below the equator. So look for a natural fit – either one that seems logical or one that people think seems logical.

One of the great aspects of Lyoness is that it can be used just about anywhere. From groceries to autos to travel and everything in between, you have a lot of options that can help Lyoness work for someone. You simply have to show them the places it works and let those that referred you and the program do the rest.

And delivering it is very easy. Moments after they are registered they have an electronic version of the membership card they can use on their phone or one they can print out if they really need something in their hand.

Takin’ it to the Streets!

Once you’re ready with the first three P’s, get the word out. Many a great product has died on the warehouse shelf because no one ever knew it was there.

The Internet makes it really easy to get the word out these days. Places like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are great avenues to tell people what you have and where to get it. But everyone is using them, so how do you make yourself stand out?

For starters, be unique. Now that sounds obvious, but its not easy. There has to be something special in what your product does or how you present it. Your product may be an updated version of some old standby, but if you give it a twist that catches the attention of your target market, it could be a winner. Even a flash in the pan could be enough capital to get you to the next bigger project.

One of the trends today are viral videos. Something weird is always making its way around the net, so get creative. If you can find the hook that becomes the next Harlem Shake, you’re in.

Lyoness’ hook is what we talked about earlier – its free. That tends to bother some people because they immediately hear the old adage in their head about “You don’t get something for nothing.” True enough. Lyoness is free, but it requires the shopper to be a little more discerning in their purchases to make money when they shop. And if they want to make a little more at it, Lyoness requires that you share the program with others.

But it’s overall uniqueness is what drives Lyoness ahead of the others. Merchants drive the benefits, not the members. And that make it very unique.

Product. Price. Place. Promotion.

In large part these four items will determine just how successful you’ll be in any business. Knowing how to address each and how to best represent your product within those four areas is a big step in getting your product off the ground.

If you’d like more information on Lyoness, or would like to get registered for a free membership, leave a comment or drop me a line with one of the links on this page. As always, the information and the membership are free.

Smart shopping can lead to dividends

Like a run away truck on a steep mountain pass, we head to the store weekly, sometimes daily, to buy the things we think we need to survive. And like Wilma and Betty, we seldom think twice about what we purchase or where we buy it from.

But in this day and age, we have find a way to stop our expenses from going higher while our income gets smaller.

And Lyoness is that answer.

In previous posts we’ve talked about how Lyoness is the world’s largest shopping community with more than 3.5 million people. And we’ve discussed how merchants are looking for loyal shoppers and are willing to give some of their advertising dollars back to customers who shop with them.

Today we’re going to look at the practical application of how a family can make their expenses turn into income. That first step is changing how you shop.

And remember, the savings may look small but collecting them all up in an easy and systematic way can payoff big down the road. Just like Gus Gorman (aka Richard Pryor) in “Superman III”, you just have to know how to get them all working for you.

The Internal Revenue Service has compiled some shopping numbers that are very interesting, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to figure out just how much we all spend on the basics of life each month. Here’s what the table looked like as of September 2, 2013:

Common Expenditures ~ Bureau of Labor Statistics 09/02/13

Common Expenditures ~ Bureau of Labor Statistics 09/02/13

For the basis of this post, we’re going to look at how we can use Lyoness to affect the expenditures above for a family of four. According to the BLS chart, additional family members would be an additional $281 each added to the bottom line for the total.

Chowin’ Down

Food is the number one thing we all think about when we consider our monthly expenditures. After rent or a house payment to make sure we have shelter from the elements, we have got to get some food to keep us going.

As yet, Lyoness doesn’t have any major grocery chains as loyalty merchants, well if you don’t count Walmart. Walmart will figure into just about every other category in this budget discussion, and offers some great options to make your dollar go farther when used in conjunction with Lyoness. But as far as food goes, if you have a Walmart that can handle most or all of your grocery needs, you’re in good shape.

On that $777 projected spending for a family of four, you can earn 1% cash back. Not a ton, but remember that Walmart’s coupon policy is that they take everyone’s coupons. So just think of your Lyoness card acting as an extra 1% on every coupon you clip as well as the stuff you don’t.

But in the end, that $777 turns into $7.77 in your pocket. If there is a local Lyoness loyalty merchant that can satisfy your grocery needs, you’ll likely double your cash back to 2% and a total of $15.44.

And don’t forget – Near many a Walmart there is a Sam’s Club next door with great prices on bulk items and gas. One more way to save.

Home (and everything else) Is Where The Cash Is

Guys, once you purge the bachelor mentality from your head and start getting serious about finding that special girl, you’ll totally get this. Until then, You’ll just keep asking yourself, “What’s he mean, cleaning supplies?”

Cleaners, soaps, deodorants and everything else that makes your house a home are also available through Lyoness loyalty merchants. And while Walmart is great at 1% cash back, its chief competitor Kmart is trying to get some of their action with a 2% offering. So while the ‘Big K’ may not have a blue light special on meat, they will likely have it on just about everything else.

So on the remaining $688 in household, apparel, personal care and miscellaneous items you can glean another $13.76 without a lot of effort.

On The Go

The IRS’ chart leaves out one huge monthly expense from their estimate – Gasoline. You’ve got to have some go-go juice to get to your job, school and everywhere else. And at a national average of $3.78 (www.fuelgaugereport.com on 09/03/13) it’s certainly nothing to be overlooked.

AutoSpies.com reports that the average American family has 2.28 cars per household. We’ll round that down to two for the sake of our post and my less than stellar math skills. But let’s figure that will all of the commuting going on that each vehicle gets filled with $50 in gas three times a month. That may be a little high, unless one of your drivers is a teenager and then you’re probably thinking, “I spend that in a week!”

Believe me, I feel your pain. I can’t wait my teenage son gets a job and starts paying for his own gas, which will unfortunately mean he’ll never leave the house again.

But my problems aside, most of the gas stations in Lyoness will give you 1% cash back or $3.00 on those monthly purchases. Again, it’s not a lot, but its better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

Adding It All Up

adding_machine_dollars_hg_whtNow these are the basic needs that a family has and doesn’t include a night out once or twice a month or even gifts throughout the year. But on those essential purchases – things you’re already buying anyway – you could be making $24.53 a month on the low end. Find that 2% grocery store and it could jump to $32.30.

Now take a good, hard look at that number. If we use the $24.53 number, we’re talking about a free tank of gas every other month. That’s $294.36 a year. If we use the bigger monthly total it becomes $387.60.

Now who’s laughing at the small change?

But it ain’t over until the fat lady in the back office gets done singing.

La La La

In previous posts we’ve discussed how Lyoness gives you cash back with every purchase and puts money into your back office. And that’s exactly what’s happening with every one of the purchases we talked about above.

On every purchase on those essential items made through a Lyoness loyalty merchant, you’re earning the cash back plus at least 1% into your back office or “piggy bank”. That means that every month another $24.53 (yes, Kmart pays 2% into the back office too!) would be getting added to that piggy bank until it hits $75 total. A night or two out or maybe a gift purchase once a month would easily push that $24.53 to $25.00 and you’d be making a Lyoness Shopping Unit every three months.

I’m going to let those who wish to catch up on how units work do so by reading my post “A Unit by any other name“, but needless to say that they are a great bonus from the merchants for being loyal to them. As those units build and you share the program with others, they will pay big dividends down the road.

Oh, did I mention sharing Lyoness right there? I sure did.

Remember that if you shared Lyoness with just 10 people who shopped like what we’ve described above, you’d be getting 0.5% of all of their qualifying purchases with loyalty merchants in the program. So on $1,465 in purchases each month you’d realize $7.32. Multiply businessman_woman_shaking_hands_lg_whtthat by 10 and you’d earn an extra $73.20 in cash for sharing.

And if your 10 friends shared with 10 friends of their own, your Friendship Bonus would balloon to $805.75 a month.

That’s more than a few tanks of gas. In fact, it’s almost enough to keep my 18-year-old son in chicken nuggets and Gatorade for about a week. I swear that kid has a hollow leg.

So you can see that just by shopping and sharing the program, you can actually turn your expenses into income. It takes a little work, but then again anything worth having in life requires at least a minimal effort.

If you have further questions on Lyoness and how to earn cash back with every purchase, please post a comment below, drop me a line or follow this blog. As always, the information and the Lyoness membership are absolutely free.

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.

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