When Preparation and Opportunity Meet

You’ve likely heard…

“Success is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet”

… and it’s absolutely true!

Nay-sayers and those with a victim mentality will say things like:  “He/She is so lucky!”  “He/She has all the luck.”  To me, the greatest source of “luck” is held within your own hands and mind.  Having said that, however, you also have to agree to be accountable for yourself, your actions, your decisions, your “lot” in life, and so on.  Most aren’t willing to do so — at least not to that standard.  If you were to ask those with “all the luck”, though, they’d probably tell you stories of long nights, lost time with friends and family, etc., so they could invest in themselves, their trade, their knowledge base, or some other form of – wait for it – preparation for that which had yet to come.

Lottery TicketSee, they anticipated a future opportunity and put in the work ahead of time so that when the opportunity arose, they’d not only recognize it, but also be prepared to take full advantage of it.  You may want to earn a six-figure income every year, but if all you do is sit around wishing for it instead of mentally preparing yourself to handle it or investing in your skills (essentially yourself), the odds of it ever coming to pass – short of a lottery ticket – is slim-to-none.

This philosophy works in a variety of situations – good and bad.  Most of us are familiar with the positive or success-driven scenario.  Most of us do not, however, internalize it when the negative arises; we just recognize that an unpleasant or unwanted situation has occurred – like a flat tire or something.  You may be unable to prevent the flat tire from happening, but you can minimize your own stress and dramatically alter the outcome by being prepared.

Allow me to share another example, more recent and very close to home for me.  In fact, at my home.

Just this past week, my son had left work and gone to get a soda with a friend before coming home.  When they finished, he returned his friend to work, dropped them off, and proceeded home – via the “scenic route”, which he’s fairly inclined to do.

On this occasion, however, he came upon somebody who began to “tail” him… for about five miles… through turns here-and-there, driving way out of his way, etc.  The unknown truck persisted.  (Oh, did I fail to mention it’s about 10pm and very dark outside at this point??)  Disclaimer:  In no way am I condoning using a cell phone while driving; I’m merely recounting an event and stating that I feel, given the situation, it was one of his better decisions.

Man Driving on Cell PhoneSo, I get this phone call.  “Are you at home?”

“Yes, why?”

“There’s a guy in a big truck who’s been following me for about five miles.  I’ve been turning and going all over the place, but  he keeps following me.”

“Where are you now?”

“On Madison, headed home.”

“Okay, which driveway are you going to pull into?”

“Probably the one at the garage.”

“Alright.  I’ll grab my coat and the dog and meet you out there.”

Sure enough, as I stand there, my son comes into view just a minute or so later.  Right behind him (like, less than a car length behind him):  a big, beefy, dark truck.  He turns the corner to the garage, and the dog and I begin walking down the driveway past my son as he pulls in and toward the truck.  The truck stops abruptly upon the dog and I coming into view of “his” headlights, I presume.  The truck immediately backs up, crossing an intersection without stopping, about one-and-a-half blocks, then stops.  (The thing to note is that “he” is only about one-third of a block away from another intersection behind him.  He could’ve easily continued to back up and pull onto that street, driving off in an opposite direction.)

As my son, dog, and I stand waiting to see what the truck is going to do next, I pull my cell phone from my coat pocket and call 911.

The truck begins to drive forward at what appears to be at least an accelerated rate.  So much so, in fact, that I honestly wondered to myself if it was going to just come back across the intersection and aim for me or my dog – so I call the dog closer to me and prepare to move back from the street into the driveway quickly.  Although the truck turned the corner at a fast rate, without stopping, at least it didn’t come further toward us.

Needless to say, the police arrived and a report was made.  They’re now “on call”, patrolling our neighborhood on a regular basis.

Bottom line:  Although it’s a situation that we’re definitely unfamiliar with or, until now, had a reason to be prepared for, we’d at least discussed things like this and had some kind of plan if it did.  Now, I’ll tell you:  Our plan has now changed since it has happened, and we know what can happen.  This means we’re now planned for a variety of other – even worse – scenarios.  It puts a whole new spin on…

“Preparation Meeting Opportunity”

… doesn’t it?  But what if we hadn’t been?  It does drive home how important it can be to be prepared for opportunities – good or bad.

I’d encourage you…  No, I implore you…  Esepcially as we enter into a new year and everybody on the planet will be focusing on “new” goals…  to get a clear about not only setting those goals, but preparing for their accomplishment, so you recognize and take advantage of all opportunities.

To your success in 2015 and beyond!

Crystal Schwindt

www.crystalschwindt.com

Ditch Your Friends Now

I say to you, “Ditch your friends now.”

“But I like them!,” you may say.  “Why do I need to ditch my friends now?”  Have you ever heard…

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’

~ Jim Rohn

The premise behind this quote, I believe, is because of two things:

The Law of Averages

The fact that most people reflect their environment

See, the Law of Averages dictates that when you “plant seeds” many will die.  But, because you continue to sow, some will also grow – simply because you continued to sow and the Law of Averages demands that, over time, you’ll reap rewards on that which you sow consistently.  That said, you may be thinking, “Well, Crystal, I continue to sow the seeds of what I want consistently, so I’ll reap those rewards eventually no matter what.”  In reality, no… because those who you spend time with and the environment you lock yourself into will affect the quality of seeds you’re sowing.  The seeds may be dropping, but the soil may be of poor quality or the water may be scarce.

Even I pride myself on my ability to submerge myself in environments and people who are far removed from “where I am” in terms of life, level of success, etc. and remain unaffected, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally unaffected and have total disregard for the influencers in my life and never need a reprieve.  For most people, if you spend the majority of your time around negative people, let’s say, it won’t be long before you’re talking and thinking just like them.  It’s very difficult to be unaffected.  Likewise, if those people earn less income than you want to, they’re unable to stretch you and your thinking to the point you need to be, to become the person necessary to receive and responsibly handle that which you seek.  Their view of the world is different.

For instance, the average person will use the terminology “spend time”.  I want you to think about that for just a moment.  Spend time.  Most of us would agree that “time” is our most valuable asset, right?  Time to “live”.  Time to learn.  Time to “spend” with friends and family.  Right?  Isn’t it fair to say, then, that we don’t “spend” our time anywhere, doing anything… we invest it?  When you invest, you do so expecting a return, do you not?  So, by the same premise, do you spend time living?  What about learning?  Do you even spend time with loved ones – because you at least expect to receive an enjoyable time and, perhaps, some great memories to take with you, yes?

 Measure Your Assets

Assets

Now take a quick inventory of two things:

  1. Who are the top five people you invest your time (really, your thoughts, energy, and future) with?
  2. Are those people where you’are currently “at”, where you’ve “been”, or where you want to “be”?

If you invest your money but get no return over time, would you continue to invest your money there?  Likely not.  The influence of your environment and those you hang around most are no different.

Now, am I saying that you need to ex-nay every person whose shoulders you’re unable to climb upon for your own personal gain forever and ever?  Absolutely not!  In fact, you should never, in my opinion, only gravitate toward people who are “ahead of you” for the purpose of your personal gain.  Despite the fact that you may be “behind” them at the current moment doesn’t mean you also have nothing to offer them.  Nor does it mean that those “behind” you have nothing to offer you.  Simply make a decision to make the top five influencers in your life of a status and quality that you seek to become.

Yes, I can hear you now, “Well, I want to be a millionaire, but I don’t know anybody who’s a millionaire.”

The truth is:  It’s great if you meet them, form a relationship, and so on… but it’s not required in order for them to influence you.  Read about them.  Learn their life’s lessons.  Glean their wisdom from interviews, auto-biographies, etc.  They’re still going to influence your learning and, hence, your life and lifestyle.  If you submerge yourself in such a way, you’ll find yourself walking in their confidence, talking like them, thinking like them, and taking actions they would take.  And, before you know it, you’ll look around and find yourself meeting real live millionaires!

So… take personal inventory today, look at where you are and where you want to be in life, and decide if you need to …

Ditch Your Friends Now!

To your success…

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

Cash-In on Saving Money

What does it mean to “cash-in on saving money”?  To the average American, probably the most immediate thought is, like, savings accounts or something.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.  People use savings accounts as a means of “saving money”, in their mind.  My question is:  Do you really save money by utilizing a savings account?  And, more importantly, is that savings account allowing you to truly “cash-in” on the act of saving money?  When you begin to shift your mentality, you’d likely agree with me that the answer to those two questions is “no”.  So what do we mean… and how do we do it?

Awareness is the first step in change, so we have to recognize that “saving money” is a different beast from “building assets” (or, more loosely referred to in terms of investing, generating more money from your savings in the form of dividends, and so on).  For me, the purposes of saving money are to (a) accelerate and eliminate debt (if you have any, which most Americans do) and (b) redirect that savings into assets and the generation of more money.

Below are some suggestions for simply saving money, and your daily or monthly budget is the easiest and quickest place to start.  Take a good look at all the expenses currently coming out of your budget (net funds available for paying  your living expenses and necessities).

  1. Cell Phone – A common expense these days that practically every person has. (I know homeless and unemployed people who somehow still manage to
    Girl with Cell Phone
    http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
    By Witthaya Phonsawat

    have a cell phone!)  The competition in this service and the products offered is fierce, so use it to your advantage.

For instance, my service was acquired through a major carrier eons ago.  In my opinion, as the company grew, their quality of customer service and ability to be competitive in the market place dropped, so, you guessed it, I switched.  Initially, I moved my account to a small, regional provider.  As it turned out, their service left me with “dead spots” on highways that I traveled frequently.  This wasn’t good for me.  If I broke down or something, I’d have no use of my cell phone – for any reason.  Outside of that, they were actually a good and far less expensive alternative.  (Regional providers are probably great for those who stay within a certain area, therefore experiencing fewer “dead spots” when it could prove to be not just an inconvenience, but perhaps also a safety issue.)  So, I went back to a major carrier… but one that offered a plan better suited to my particular needs.

Then, in my own quest to “cash-in on saving money”, I began to research and talk to other people about their choices and reasons for those choices.  In the end, I was able to move my account to a lesser-known provider… who contracts with the exact same major carrier (thus the exact same coverage for my phone usage)… resulting in a cell phone expense reduction of nearly 50% — with a few more and better features than I’d originally had.

Boom!

Just saved money.  Now it can be reallocated to another area in my budget.

  1. Insurance – If you’re like me, you’re likely “insurance poor” – either by mandate or the fact that you have liabilities you want to protect because you’ve yet to accumulate a significant enough amount of cash to become self-insured (the ultimate goal). Besides, who really even likes insurance?  I mean, for the
    Insurance
    www.fsinsuresme.com

    most part, you pay your premiums for a long time, nothing happens, no claims are processed (for you personally), the insurance company gets to keep your money, and you have nothing to show for it.  Then, you finally do have a claim of some sort, and you’re  either hassled over it or the insurance company wants to pigeon-hole you into some kind of repair or replacement that’s lesser for you but allows them to retain more of your money that they need to now “give back” to you.  In my opinion, insurance does serve a purpose and has a very viable market:  Those who lack the self-discipline to save money and not touch it so when “stuff happens” they have their own funds to go to for those repairs or replacements.  (Yes, that’s the majority of the American population, I understand.  Their market is HUGE!)

Again, I had multiple policies (mostly for the meager discount you get by bundling policies) with a major, well-known provider.  When you break those policies down, however, and begin calling around, comparing genuine apples with apples, you’ll find discrepancies and a few absolute gems.  Now, that said, the last time I did this, I honestly would’ve paid more (to a point) to stay with my then-current agent simply because of him and his staff.  They were awesome!  My point?  “Price is only an issue in the absence of value.”  I checked a lot of places and found them all to be somewhere in the same ball-park.  Then, I found an insurance broker who did some shopping within their network for me.

Bottom line:  I was able to get pretty much the exact same coverage and benefits for just over 50% less each month!  (That said, if my old company ever gets it together and revamps their programs so they’re more realistic and competitive for me, I’ll switch back in a heartbeat.  Why?  Because the communication and customer service of this broker’s office… well, let’s just say it’s lacking.  As I said, I’m okay with paying a little bit more in exchange for the peace of mind knowing all I have to do is make one phone call and never worry about whether or not things will get done or done the way I was told – over 50%, though, nah.)

Boom!

More money saved… to be redirected elsewhere.

  1. Utilities – This is an area where the vast majority of people think they’re stuck. Like, you gotta have ‘em, right?  I mean, water, electricity, gas…  You have no choice, so you’re held over a barrel when it comes to whatever they want to charge you.  Well, yes, but no.  You may be surprised.  Just hear me out.

Let’s first get clear that when it comes to normal living expenses, you’ll do best to do your own forced level-pay, whether you actively do this with the provider or not.  It’s a budgeting tactic, but one I like quite well and relieved a lot of stress for me when I implemented it.  Second is when you learn little Pay Billtricks – unknown to average consumers – that will allow you to have at least some control over what you’re being charged and how it impacts your life.  We’ll break ‘em down one at a time.

Here’s how you do a self-inflicted, forced level-pay:  Take every statement for the past year and add up what the actual bills were.  Take the sum and divide it by the number of pay periods you have in a year (i.e., 52 for weekly, 26 for bi-weekly, 24 for semi-monthly – You get the idea, right?).  The answer is the amount you’ll automatically put in a separate “household” account (whether an actual bank account like I do or a simple jar at home – The bank is a better choice for most because it’s less likely you’ll get into it for other reasons, resulting in you not having money to pay those bills when you need it.) each and every time you get paid.  Then, when the monthly bill comes in, you either pay directly from that account, or, if you’re like me, you transfer that amount from that account (savings) into your normal checking account, and pay the bill through that account.  When the bill is less than the average amount, the overage just accumulates to off-set the times of the year when you use more of that commodity.  When the bill exceeds the average amount you deposited, you’ll be drawing on the overage you’ve already created.

Here’s a little-known trick with our local water:  I learned that, although the usage fluctuates from month to month, the rate applied to each level is based upon an average usage over a particular quarter each year.  So, if you just know which quarter that is, you purposefully remain conscious of the amount you use during that period, which means the records (aka paper trail) will reflect that your usage went down or is minimal.  Then, when that quarter is over and, say, the usage goes back up, the rate applied to that usage will be less because your actual usage during that time was lower.  Make sense?  (Discreetly ask your own water and other utility personnel about similar workings in your own local area.  You may be able to capitalize on this also.)

Boom!

Again, a money savings to be reallocated elsewhere.

These are just three examples of how you can cash-in on saving money; there are a multitude of others.  Remember, though, once it’s saved, you must decide what to do with it.  My personal favorite is to do several things simultaneously, depending on your personal circumstances:

  • pay yourself first (especially if you’re not already)
  • establish financial freedom accounts (such as savings, emergency, and investing)
  • add a portion of that saved back toward debt that you need to accelerate to eliminate more quickly.

Using this strategy allows you to protect yourself against future debt while paying off existing debt.

Boom!

And that… is how you…

Cash-In on Saving Money!

Wanna see the system I use to raise my financial worth?  Enter your information below for instant access to a free video.

To you and your success…

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

2 MOST INSPIRING DAILY AFFIRMATIONS VIDEOS

This little girl is amazing! There are some adults who still don’t understand the importance of daily affirmations, let alone practice them. Kudos to her parents, too, for teaching her this so young and ensuring she develop the habit!
  1. JESSICA’S “DAILY AFFIRMATION”

    We should all follow Jessica’s lead. What a different world we’d live in if we did!
  2. I AM A BILLIONAIRE – AFFIRMATIONS

    “Link” yourself to the mindset and vision preparing your mind to receive the money and wealth that flows around you each and every day.
Your mind is the most powerful “computer” on the planet. It alone doesn’t know the difference between truth or lies, reality or fantasy. “What goes in must come out,” right? So… be careful what you “feed” it.
To you…
~ Crystal

How to Own a Job

DO YOU OWN A JOB?

Sounds like a silly question, right? Amazingly enough, most people who DO own a job don’t even realize it. So, let’s break it down and see if you do… and if you want to continue to.

See, you’d have thought that I, of all people on the planet, would’ve know… understood… the difference. Why? Because even though I remember my mom working a normal j-o-b for a while when I was in high school, both my bonus dad (aka step dad) and my real dad, well, I never remembered either of them working a regular job – like, as an employee. Now, in defense of one, I never developed a very close relationship with my real dad (another topic for another post lol), but I knew enough to know that he seemed to never work – not like I was used to seeing family members and friends work. Truthfully, not even as my bonus dad worked. And my bonus dad always had his own business, as far back as I could remember, so, to me, he was a business owner. It wasn’t until I was exposed to Robert Kiyosaki and his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, containing the illustration of the Cashflow Quadrant and explanation of the four quadrants that it really made sense to me – AND allowed me to hone in on which quadrant I personally wanted to be in.

Quadrant #1: Employee

This is what we all seem to visualize when we hear talk of a “job”. You know the drill, right? For me, it started when I was 14 years old, but I think laws restrict that now, which is crazy in my mind. Anyway, at the age of 14 I wanted stuff, okay? Designer jeans, shoes, etc.  Cash Flow QuadrantStuff. And, my parents said, “No.” Really what they more fully said was, “It’s our job to provide your needs, not your every want. Jeans are jeans. There’s no reason to pay that kind of money for a pair of jeans. If you want them, you’ll have to earn your own money and get them.” I don’t know what they thought would happen, but… to work I went – and, yes, they had to then provide transportation for me. Lol (Later, as a guardian to my niece, I got to see what a friggin’ inconvenience and responsibility that can be!)

I talked to people. I put in applications. And, I landed a job bussing tables at a restaurant where my parents somehow knew the people who owned it or something. (Hhmmm… You think there was some behind-the-scenes negotiations going on there??) I was in heaven… sorta. I didn’t really like the work, and I didn’t really care for going to school, doing school work, then also going to a job – but I loved buying that first pair of ATB jeans! I’ll never forget it!

I punched a clock at a business somebody else owned, performed duties I was instructed to, and, in exchange, I received a paycheck. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an employee. Quadrant #1. This is where most working class people “live”. photo from rayhigdon.com

Quadrant #2: Self-Employed

Now, this was my bonus dad and (I thought) my real dad. (I learned later in life that this wasn’t the case. I’ll get to that in a minute.) I wasn’t stupid, afterall; I knew they weren’t employees.

As a business owner, you own the business. Duh! That also means that YOU do the work. YOU are self-employed. If a customer calls, you go. If work needs to be done on equipment,you either do it or call the repair person to do it. If there’s a complaint, you handle it. You take the calls, keep the books, send out invoices, make deposits, reconcile accounts, etc. The business doesn’t run without YOU, plain and simple! When you see “Bob’s Home Repairs”, this is usually Bob’s gig. (Occasionally, you’ll find a franchise or something that’s chosen a mom-n-pop name, but not as a norm.) The hole-in-the-wall pub or eatery… usually a self-employed business owner. The head bartender or cook is usually the owner. And, under most circumstances, may be the ONLYperson running the business.

What does that mean? Well, if he or she is sick, has a family emergency, wants to go watch the kids’ basketball game or piano recital, or anything else outside the realm of business, the business shuts down. No cashflow is coming in. This also means that money is being lost or potentially even “going out” when no money is “coming in”. Just think about vacations, right? I remember a few growing up but not many. Any guesses why?? You should be getting the picture about now, right?

YOU… OWN A JOB!

Quadrant #3: Business Owner

This is a little better than a self-employed person. Some would say quite a bit better. Given only these options, I’d tend to agree: THIS would be the “cream of the crop”!

A business owner is like a franchise owner or something like that. They usually still own the business, per se, but, more importantly, they own a system. And, they’re usually still involved in the operations in some way, some how. Where the “split” occurs, though, is in the fact that when a business owner takes off for the afternoon, the business still runs. The fam wants to go on vacay: Cashflow still happens. Money still comes in, and money still goes out. There’s a little more freedom in this quadrant. More responsibility? More headache? Well, the nay-sayers would argue that, and, I suppose, in some situations that could be true. My argument would be that they should’ve hired a higher quality of staff – ones they could trust, who possess impeccable work ethic, and who have the common sense when it’s alright to call and interrupt the vacay, if needed. Lol It’s usually a huge monetary investment… but the higher quality of life could be well worth it!

Quadrant #4: Investor

This is where the REAL freedom lies. Almost everybody WANTS to get here. Think about it: If you ask 10 people, who wouldn’t want a life of total freedom AND enough cashflow to do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want. Heck, I wanted that my entire life! Lol The challenge is that few people really understand this quadrant and even fewer ever get here. THIS is where my real dad “lived”, so I came to learn.

An investor is the epitome of what it means to have your money work for you. The people in this quadrant “worked hard”, make no mistake about it. People, for as many who scour the internet looking for the “get-rich-quick” schemes… I sincerely believe there are none. Are there ways to accelerate your success? Yes, absolutely! What are genuinely thought to be shortcuts, though? Nope. Don’t believe in them. There are a few reasons:

1. This quadrant requires knowledge… expertise… an understanding… personal growth…

2. Many people who already occupy this quadrant are unwilling to “give the goods away”.

So, if you’re interested in getting here… the place of passive, residual income… you must be realistic, tenacious, and willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to get you here. In other words, don’t ever give up. Learn, grow, ask questions, get mentors, try, fail, pick yourself back up, and keep doing it until you find the right vehicle, have become the person you need to be mentally and emotionally, honed your skills for the vehicle you’ve chosen, then make the leap to Quadrant #4.

My real dad… I still don’t know really how he did it. I mean, like, I don’t know the actual “moves”… and, he’s passed away now, so I’m unable to ask him. What I do know is that he began purchasing real estate. That was his biggest vehicle, I believe. Now, he also became involved in other things: funding business ventures for others; loaning personal capital; investing in material objects that he knew would appreciate in value over time; and, investing and reinvesting a portion of the cashflow to ensure the longevity of his life in this quadrant. He invested in things that generated income, right? Not things that cost him money. THIS is my chosen quadrant!

So let me ask you again…

DO YOU OWN A JOB?

Is that really where you want to be? If you’re in any other quadrant besides that of an investor, are you satisfied being there? Is that the destination you’ve always imagined your life’s journey taking you? If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, I need to ask you one more… Well, maybe two… questions:

What are you going to do about it? And when?

Yesterday Past

Make the most of it.

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

How to NOT Be a Leader

Leaders are born, not made.

I’ve  heard that said.  In fact, I probably grew up being told and believing just that.  Truthfully, I’ve not believed that for quite some time; it appears society is taking a while to catch up with my progressive style of thinking, though.

See, I now believe that the capacity to become and be an incredible leader is likely within each and every one of us.  Does that mean we’ll all respond to the “call”?  Absolutely not!  You don’t even need statistics to prove that to you; just look around.  The majority of people won’t respond.  Why is that?

Because it’s just too darn comfortable to NOT be a leader!

Here the top four things you can do (or continue to do) to secure your spot in life as a “non-leader”:

  1. Cling to your title, position, or longevity at all costs

Once upon a time, title, position, and longevity (or you may know it as seniority) was everything; today… not so much – from the company and employee viewpoints.

See, respect (a characteristic found in all great and effective leaders, whether you like them personally or not) is something earned… not freely given.  Let me qualify that statement, though, because I can hear some of you groaning right now.  Take me, for example:  I’ll show a certain amount of respect to every human being on this planet – just for being who they are!  That said, I also keep some “in reserve”.  This means there’s some I hold on to, allowing people to earn and maintain the respect they actually deserve, from my vantage point.

And, sadly but justly, in my opinion… respect can also be lost – in the blink of an eye, by one single action done, statement said, or failure to do what you should.  Once lost, it can be extremely difficult to get back because we’re all human and forgiveness probably doesn’t come as quickly, frequently, or easily as it should.

For me, titles, positions, and seniority, well, they mean virtually Corporate Titlesnothing.  YOU are a person, and your “title” doesn’t define you!  My “judgment” and amount of corresponding respect comes in time and is solely based upon who you are and your personal actions and/or statements – never the words you may feel tell the world who you are.  (Note:  From a self-esteem perspective, allowing these things to define who you are can lead to a very detrimental outcome in your life one day, so be very careful with this!)

  1. Settle for mediocrity

As a non-leader you want to fit in with everybody else, right?  I dunno that I want to go so far as to say you’re a follower… but you are, kinda.  And, as a “follower”, the society of today would dictate that you just need to sit down, shut up, and settle for the mediocre, mundane life you’ve been dealt.  I view it as the “minimalistic mentally” in it’s healthy, thriving mode.  It can be very alarming to watch, let alone experience.  For example, today I went through my local Starbuck’s drive-thru.

I don’t go there a lot, but somewhat regularly at any rate.  I placed my usual order (tall, vanilla bean frappuccino – plain) and drove to the window, then handed the girl my card, which she promptly ran.  When handing it back to me, she said, “Okay, here ya go.”  No offer of a receipt, nothing about my order…  Nothing.  I sat and waited.  A few minutes goes by and another girl comes to the window with a vanilla bean frappuccino… with whipped cream topping!  As she opened the window, I told her I’d ordered my drink “plain”.  She asked if that meant I didn’t want whipped cream on it or anything?  I said yes… plain.  She replied, “We didn’t know what you meant by that,” and walked away with the drink.  She returned – mmm… fairly quickly, I guess – with a vanilla bean frappuccino… with “no” whipped cream and a flat lid.

Now, I’m relatively certain she just took the drink, spooned out the Mediocritywhipped cream topping (as evidenced by the indention that remained in the top of the drink), slapped a flat lid on it, and brought it back to me.  Some would say, “What’s wrong with that?”  From a business perspective, makes perfect sense, right?  I mean, “throwing away” that drink and making me a new one with NO whipped cream topping is throwing away product.  Here’s the thing, though…

What if I’d ordered my drink “plain” because I was allergic to whipped cream topping?

Can you say, “legal liability”?

Poor customer service… and likely the loss of MY business (and now I’m telling YOU, right?).  There are just too many other Starbucks for me to choose from if I want a PLAIN vanilla bean frappuccino!  Minimialistic mentality.

  1. Stand for nothing

Some people say, “go along, get along,” but I tend to not adhere to that credo.  I understand completely that no matter how I may try to be likable, please people, be a good person, etc., the fact of the matter is… not everybody is going to like me.  Period.  I’m okay with that.  I’m not going to “like” every other person on the planet either.  I love my fellow man, regardless – but that doesn’t mean I like all of them.  Nor does it mean that I’m going to allow others to dictate and control my own moral and ethical compass.

You’re likely a non-leader if you struggle with either of these things – not because you don’t want to be; more likely because, for whatever reason, your value is misplaced on a thing (i.e., title, sense of needing approval or acceptance of others, etc.) rather than found and defined within  yourself.  Leaders tend to stand their ground and speak their peace — at least unless provided a viable alternative that fits within their personal boundaries.  (Yes, they usually develop the skill of knowing when, where, and how to do so… but they do typically do so. Lol)

Just today, I’d finally had my fill of observing a particular scenario over a period of time:  A few people in an office receive a fair amount of flack for various things that it seems others are allowed to do,

Winston Churchillwith absolutely no recourse.  So, when the opportunity presented itself, I made a comment.  That comment led to the other person defending those who were being allowed to do these things (most of them have worked there a while together, are social with one another, and so on).  She also became rather worked up about my unwillingness to abate my position:  If it’s okay for some, it should be okay for all – in general terms anyway.  See, I didn’t really care which way it went (all allowed or all disallowed); I just cared that the “rules” be consistently applied to everybody.  Could I suffer some repercussion due to the expression of my “moral and ethical compass”?  Perhaps.  Time will tell.  I’d like to think not.  I think I’m right and believe most would feel as I do, given the same situation.  That’s not always the world we live in, however.

  1. Think small

Non-leaders tend to think small.  This doesn’t always mean “small” as in lack of a greater vision (although true leaders are, as a norm, very big “thinkers” and dreamers); it can merely be not thinking forward enough into the future to see what your actions today may bring you tomorrow.  Many people get tangled up in this.

When I was younger, I was fairly quick to say whatever I felt at any given point in time.  And, well, I’m pretty quick-witted, with a darn sharp tongue sometimes.  There’s no doubt I likely said some sharp, hurtful things.  We all start where we are, though, and that’s all the “tools” I had in my “tool belt” at the time to express and deal with things.  As I grew (mentally, emotionally, and in years), I acquired more “tools” that afforded me more choices when faced with things.  More ways to respond and deal with situations.  More “tools” also meant more… bigger… possibilities.  More ways to make my bigger thoughts and dreams become reality.  Life is defined by whatever it is you think you can do.

Henry Ford

So, if you simply adhere to these four things (forget about the plethora of other options available), you’re almost guaranteed to not stand out in a crowd – whether literal, virtual, or proverbial – and you’ll likely have mastered the fine art of…

NOT becoming a leader!

I challenge you to do, be, and become more… greater…

Starting today.

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

 

Cash Is King

CASH IS KING!

We’ve all heard it, right?  But is it really?  Still?

It seems you really can’t even function in today’s world without a debit card, credit card, department store card, or some other kind of “card”.  In fact, I remember my late father getting so ticked because he never had (or believed in) any of those “cards” and would get so hassled for it whenever he traveled.

There was one time he was ranting to me because he’d tried to rent a car.  The reservation representative told him he needed a “card” to rent one of their cars.  He kept insisting that he had cash!  They kept insisting on a “card”.  Finally, they explained that the “card” would be authorized for the “incidental” deposit, then credited back if the car was returned with no damage.  He told them he had enough cash to give them, and they could just hold that until he returned the car.  They disagreed.  He found alternate means of transportation.

Think about it, though.  Car rentals, hotel reservations, etc., pretty Credit Cardsmuch require a credit card.  Department storesoffer “specials” and “discounts” for using their store credit card.  And, even when you don’t run into that situation, they’ll incentivize you with a “loyalty” card. (Have you ever really thought about what information is being collected and analyzed about you every time you use that darn thing??)  There are even some gas stations that ONLY accept a credit card of some kind as payment. Cash isn’t even an option.

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE…

A few months back, my son and I took a short road trip.  Drivable in about five hours or so, I think.  Short enough you didn’t mind driving; long enough you still had to fill the car up with gas a few times.

So… we’re on the drive back, watching the gas gauge, figuring out where the best place to stop might be, etc.  Then, like an oasis in the middle of the Sahara (I kid you not; it was just like that!) stood a lone gas station and convenience store… just out in the middle of nowhere.  (When you drive in the Midwest, though, almost everywhere seems like you’re in the “middle of nowhere”. Lol)  It wasn’t even that great of looking establishment – but something caught my eye…

“2% DISCOUNT FOR CASH”

Well, since I’m all about saving money any and everywhere I can, I had to investigate further.  We pulled in, and I read the sign more closely.  (Life – and my natural inquisitive nature as it relates to all-things legal – has taught me to always look for and read “the fine print”.  Are you with me?There was no fine print!  It said, “2% Discount for Cash” and nothing more.  So, I had to step inside to confirm with the clerk.

“I saw your sign about a discount for paying in cash.  How does that work?”

“Tell me that’s what you’re doing, and I’ll turn the pump on for you.  When you’re done getting your gas and come in to pay, we’ll take 2% off the top if you pay in cash.”

Shut the front door!

Look, I know 2% isn’t that much, but it’s 2% more than I got to keep had I not paid in cash.  Needless to say, I was stunned by this old-fashioned way of doing business (and my own excitement over saving money on a commodity that I feel is SO over-priced anyway) that I immediately took advantage of this offer.  Now, in reality, that merchant is really just saving themselves the expense and inconvenience of dealing with a credit card processor that charges them that 2% for processing every single “card” transaction.  Regardless,  I was satisfied with the treasure I’d found and money I’d “saved”.

The moral of the story?  We may live in a credit-hungry, “card” happy world nowadays, but, if you look (or even ask, which I’ve learned to do now and, surprisingly, you get more similar “discounts” when  you ask for the option), you can still find proof…

CASH IS KING!

Cash is King

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

Edit Microsoft Office Attachments in Gmail, Compliments of Google Drive

Google Drive now enables you to edit Microsoft Office documents sent to you as attachments via Gmail!

It appears the days of copy+paste, conversion, and other drawn-out tactics to edit the Office documents emailed to you are over – at least if they’re sent to you via Gmail… and you utilize the new tool announced today by Google.  Convenience, convenience, convenience.  We always knew the players were big… but they just got bigger.

Simply click the Google Drive icon that’s now present in your email when an attachment is present, and you can automatically convert them to Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets.  And… BONUS!  You can put save it in the cloud-based Google Drive, so it’s available to you anywhere you are – where there’s an internet connection, of course – with revision history.

Take a look:

 

Google Drive also has support for an additional 15 Office formats including dot, dotx, dotm*, and docm* to Google Docs; xlt, xltx, xltm*, and xlsm* to Google Sheets; and pot, potx, potm*, pps, ppsx, and ppsm* to Google Slides.  Without too much detail, Google says these formats will arm you with “improved charts, images, and tables support.”

Some would argue that this just adds another notch in the battle between the two behemoths:  Google and Microsoft.  Both offer very similar products and continue to pull them closer and closer to integration; I’m sure in an attempt to secure more and more of the marketplace. 

Both companies have their advantages, but, seemingly in slightly different arenas:  Microsoft with Office Online, Outlook, and OneDrive and Google with Google Drive and Gmail.

Who will be the ultimate winner?

I say… YOU!

Check it out now, then come back and leave a comment with your thoughts.

~ Crystal