Tag Archives: Leadership

Debunking Myths: Even YOU Have a Team!

The term “team” is typically used in reference to sports or direct sales and network marketing. In reality, though, nearly every person (especially adult) on the planet has Funny Kid and Dog Teama team. That being the case, when asked, you also have supervisory skills. 🙂  The only question is how good those skills are. Allow me to explain and put to rest the myth that if you’re not involved in sports or network marketing – or are involved in network marketing but have yet to attract people into your downline – you have no team… and no way to hone your leadership skills.

Sports is easy, right? Unless you’re involved in a solo kind of sport like individual tennis, skiing, and so forth (with no hope of playing at a level where bigger teams are formed, like the Olympics), defining your team and the hierarchy within the team is fairly simple. Probably not a lot of explanation needed on this one. You either have one or not. You’re either a part of one, or you’re not. So let’s look at what “team” means in other areas of life and how it’s applicable to your professional life, level of success, and leadership skills.

See, in network marketing, terminology like “team” is often used in reference to your downline, or those who are recruited and coded to you for the sake of commission overrides. Think of it like a real estate brokerage office: Everybody in that particular office is a member of that broker’s team. Got it? Then, outside of hourly employees (such as clerical staff), the broker receives a commission from the sale of every darn house sold by any and all of his or her real estate agents.

Now, if you weren’t already aware of that fact, hang with me for a few minutes before you allow your feathers to get all ruffled. This is actually as it should be, in my opinion – only the amount would be up for debate from my viewpoint.

A broker is entitled to this override for several reasons:

1. He or She is required to acquire and hold a higher license than a real estate agent. This license allows them to supervise other agents. That’s not all, though, because when I say “supervise”, I could also interchange “be held responsible or accountable” for other agents. So if an agent in their office creates a liability in a transaction or contract, the broker is ultimately held responsible for overseeing the activity of the agent. This means that, even though the agent acted, the broker may end up bearing the brunt of any issues or lawsuits because he/she is supposed to ensure the agent really knows what they’re doing and that it’s done correctly and properly. That alone is a big responsibility, from where I stand.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward”. I’d say that’s accurate in most instances… including this one.

2. It’s the broker who ultimately pays and is held accountable for paying for all the normal expenses of that office. Things like electricity, heating and air, phone landlines, and so on – even though the agents often have their own areas to meet clients and conduct business. That also means that his or her name is the one listed as being responsible (or liable, depending how you want to look at it) on any lease agreements.

So, see, when it comes to a pay structure, a brokerage is very similar to network marketing. The biggest difference I’m aware of, being that a brokerage is contained to or limited by one broker and the number of agents that can be “housed” in that office. In direct sales (aka network marketing), those limits typically do not exist. Let’s move outside the pay structure, though, so we can dispel this thought that if you don’t have a “team” in this conventional way of thinking, you (a) have no team and (b) have no leadership skills (or the opportunity to hone any).

Believe it or not, we’re all in sales, which is the profession we hear the term “team” used mostly. Every one of us. Yep, even you. The person who says they love sales and everything about sales… is involved in sales. The person who says they absolutely hate sales, everything related to sales, and every salesperson they ever met… is involved in sales themselves. How can I say that? Well, let’s look at the facts.

From the day you were born, you not only became aware of “sales” and the necessary skill of persuasion, you began to practice those skills. Who was it, as a toddler, who would either bat those pretty long eyelashes or baby blues in order to get Mom or Dad to give you what you wanted? Or, who was it who threw themselves in the middle of the floor, screaming, kicking, and yelling until Mom or Dad gave you your way? Granted, one is obviously better and exhibits more finesse than the other, but they’re both sales. “I want [this], and I need to “talk” Mom or Dad into giving it to me.”

As we age, we either get better or worse, but it’s still sales.

Then, if you’ve ever been asked on a date or asked somebody out on a date, you were practicing sales, right? I mean, you were either “buying” or you were “selling” (yourself) to the other person. Starting to make sense? This means that, even if you thought or have always been told you sucked at sales, there must’ve been a time… I’m jus sayin. 🙂

Take a minute and think about all the times you’ve practiced being a buyer and salesperson throughout your life thus far. Were you a good buyer? What about a good salesperson? Did you get better or worse as you aged?

If you’ll remember, I wrote a recent post where we discussed the fact that fear is a learned response to certain stimuli, and, as a learned response, it can also be un-learned, so to speak, if you choose to. Well, you weren’t born a salesperson; it just didn’t take you long to figure out that doing certain things were more apt to convince your “buyer” to do as you wanted, give you what you wanted, etc. If you really hone your sales skills on a professional level you learn, of course, that the art of selling is much more and, if done properly, you’re not selling people things they don’t want to buy (which may be the case as a toddler or young child); you’re actually educating the buyer and helping them make a decision about the purchase they’re already contemplating. Real sales (as I’ve been taught) is more asking than it is telling, which I’ve also found more people to be most receptive to. This way the “buyer” gets to feel totally in control of the process.

Are we good on this?

Great! Let’s integrate all this knowledge on the correlating myths as they relate to teams, team-building, and leadership.

Remember I said that even YOU have a team? Like, right now, YOU (most likely) have a team. It may be a team of one or hundreds of thousands, but you have a team.

In conventional employment, a team may be a department, a group of managers, a supervisor and a subordinate… Teams. There are upline and downline teams. There are horizontal teams. There are vertical teams. Conventional businesses and conventional teams.

Let’s say you’re not in a conventional business, though. Let’s say you have an online or offline network marketing business that you’re building. And let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you have nobody who’s joined your current downline. So you think you don’t have a team… but you’re wrong, and thinking that way will actually sabotage what you’re striving to achieve. The reality is that you DO have a team; you’re just in the mode of preparing for them – or that team in particular, anyway.

Look at your life.

If you have a child or children, you have a team. If you have a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, you have a team. If you have a family (that you actually associate with lol), you have a team. If you have close friends who you hang out with, maybe “break bread” with, you have a team. And, I might add, you also have supervisory and leadership skills. Now, I can’t guarantee that this philosophy is going to fly if you try to put it on your resume, but I can tell you — as somebody who previously built a very loyal and stable network marketing team, as well as somebody who’s currently involved in the network marketing arena — the dynamics of these teams in your life and how you lead and work with them would certainly have a bearing to me if I was considering you for my team. These interactions and relationships are some of the most trying in life, so if you learn to lead gracefully and follow when necessary, you’ll have impeccable leadership skills when your new team finally finds you.

Here’s a Pepsi commercial to help illustrate the effectiveness of a small, yet powerful and un-covnentional team.. and what it can do for you!

(I don’t necessarily suggest you round up your posse and try THAT, but I did think it was funny.  You get the idea, right? 🙂 )

Here’s another example:  Let’s say you’re married and have umpteen-dozen children. In fact, you have your own softball, basketball, or football team. If you’re able to maintain a good relationship with your spouse and children while leading them effectively, by all means, click here and join my team. Seriously, right now. The conventional world may tell you that you have no real team-building or leadership skills, but I know better. The abilities and skills that you’ve acquired and honed so you can effectively manage and grow this part of your life truly isn’t that big of leap to what you’ll need to succeed in the same capacity in business, on a professional level. (Good thing we could care less about degrees and the like in my business. Lol)

Now, as you begin to shift your thinking in this way, you’ll also find that you begin to behave differently, too. And, as you begin to behave differently, you’ll find that you also begin to attract the team you desire into your life and business – whether conventional or not, online or off. You can’t help it.

So, stop being sad, thinking, “…but I don’t HAVE a team.”

I’ve just proven to you that you do. I’ve proven to you that you have supervisory and leadership skills that you may have never realized you have. What I’m NOT telling you is that you’re done learning, you have no need to improve or grow, or all you need to do is sit back and wait. That’s all false. You must do all those things, or you’ll find (in short order) you have a team that’s outgrown you – much the same way as one partner in a relationship may outgrow another. The learning and growing on your part is vital to the longevity and stability of your team – personal or professional. Just remember…

Even YOU have a team!

See you at the top,

Crystal Schwindt

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How to be Successful: Lean Into Your Fear

Man on Tightrope Over Skyline
Courtesy of Coen Tan – http://coentan.com/

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you that one of the most critical success factors is the ability to lean into your fear. What does that even mean, though?

Certainly there are as many definitions of what it means to be successful as there are people who actually give thought to it. Why? Because success is very subjective. What it means to you could be entirely different from what it means to me.

Couple that with the definition of fear, which is also pretty darn subjective, right? I mean, we humans fear all kinds of things: fear of flying, fear of people, and, heck, even fear itself… as well as nearly everything else under the sun.

Somehow when we put these two words together, they take on minds and bodies of their own. There’s even a fear of success! Crazy, right??

I’ve read, by the way, that fear is taught, not inherent… for the most part. “They” (whomever the “powers that be” are in the scientific realms that study this stuff) say that we’re only born with two fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.

Personally, this makes sense to me because you spend roughly nine months incubating in a safe, warm, cramped, muffled environment only to find yourself released one day into a seemingly loud, cold, and very big place that’s completely foreign to you. If I had to guess, I’d say the “loud” thing is due to the fact that, while in the womb, everything you hear – from the sound of your own mother’s heartbeat and voice to the roar of thunder to the slam of a door – is muffled by distance, liquid, etc. And that fear of falling thing (which I find to be akin to the fear of flying – If you fly, you could fall, right? That could be a long way down.) comes into play because, again, you’re incubated in a relatively small compartment where you’re sealed on all sides, yet get to move however you want with no risk of ever falling. So, when you’re born, everything you knew to be safe is gone – hence fear.

Bottom line: If fear is taught… it can be un-taught, don’t you think?
Alright. Now let’s begin to apply this to becoming a “successmaker”.

Since we all pretty much have definite thoughts and reactions to success and fear, yet they’re almost polar opposites, and each cancels out or prevents the other from catching traction in your life, how do we use this knowledge to our advantage? You lean into your fear – provided your quest is to be successful. If it’s not, well, you needn’t do anything except allow your fears to control your life. For the rest of us…

1.  Spend some time first figuring out what defines success to you. Be clear and specific about it. Is it money or acquiring money (because, ironically, that’s NOT the case for everybody – even some people who have lots of money)? Is it to be the best mom or dad you can be? Is it to Pen and Paperachieve a sense of fulfillment with your Creator and find peace in that relationship? There’s something. Figure it out, and write it down.

2.  Spend some time figuring out what you fear most. This may take a bit more time because humans are funny creatures who tend to mask their fears with other emotions or justifications. Your fear of commitment may stem from a feeling of abandonment way back in your early childhood. I’m just sayin’.

For instance, I have a significant hydrophobia (or fear of water). This doesn’t mean, like, bath water, but, like big bodies of water – pools, lakes, rivers, oceans, etc. I can tell you with 100% certainty that this fear was learned as a result of a sunny summer afternoon with my sister at the pool – who thought it’d be “cute” to take her little sister who couldn’t tread water down to the diving area and “drop her off”. So see, this experience as a young child ruined swimming and water sports for me from that point on.

Write yours down.

3.  Here’s where the painful and most productive work takes place. CHOOSE which is stronger: your will and desire to succeed or the fear of “whatever” you feel. (Some people even have a fear of people, believe it or not! That’s a real thing, apparently.) If you decide the fear is stronger, do nothing. Stop reading. Stop this short exercise. Put down your pen and paper, laptop, or other device. You need not expend one more ounce of energy to achieve your end result and defined level of success. If your desire for success is stronger, however, read on.

Still with me? AWESOME! I’m still here, too. Lol

4. Make a decision right now to “lean into your fear”. This means: consciously plan a way to meet your fear head-on, work through it, and overcome it. Now, odds are, you’re gonna have to engage in so-called fearful activities a few times; just stick with it.

Taking my fear of water issue, for example…

When my son was fairly young, he LOVED water. He was probably part fish.

I saw this early on and decided to open opportunities to explore this love – despite my own fears. To this, though, safety and precautions had to be implemented, right? So, off to the YMCA we go… at 6 months of age… until he was about 8 or 9. Swimming lessons. I knew that if we were at a pool or something (because I wasn’t about to allow MY fear to ruin HIS love) and he found himself in trouble, beyond a shadow of a doubt – fear or not, outcome good or bad – I’d go in after him. Now, maybe I’d surprise myself (like other heroic stories) and “miraculously” save us both, but I wanted to stack the odds as much in our favor as possible.

As he grew, though, he wanted ME to engage in swimming and water sports with him – even to the point that HE determined he’d “teach” me to swim… just so we could enjoy this time together! My heart ached.

So, I “leaned into my fear”, took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and scheduled some private swimming lessons for myself. I didn’t tell him about them but went while he was in school and such. (Telling him would ruin the surprise.) Then, one day a few months later when he asked me to get into the pool with him, I said, “Okay.” He was so surprised and excited. I’ll never forget that day… his expression…

Don’t misunderstand. I’m NOT a world-class swimmer, and I still do NOT like big bodies of water. (Let’s say I have a deep respect for them and what can happen in them; that sounds good.) I AM a bit contradictory about it now, though, because the idea of a cruise actually sounds appealing to me (I’ve not quite been able to secede to the “pleasure over potential pain” in this activity yet.). I did go para-sailing with my son once (tandem, just me and him), and actually found that I like that a lot – as long as I never hit the water. Lol And, various water sports look like a bunch of fun to me, like jet skis and stuff. (I only boat on shallow-water river type excursions and when my bonus dad is driving because everybody else – seemingly – thinks, again, that it’s “cute” to scare the girl who’s already terrified. I’ve learned, so I just don’t do it.)

Lucky for me… my fear of water doesn’t prevent me from achieving my definition of success. If my definition involved becoming a marine biologist or something like that, there could be a much greater issue. Get it?

So, where the proverbial “rubber meets the road” is the spot where your definition and desire for becoming a “successmaker” clashes with your fear. THAT is where you lean into it.

Let’s scale it back a bit and choose a very simple example.

If you’ve found yourself in Sales but have a significant fear of the phone – essentially, calling people – you have two choices:

• Allow your fear to dictate and find another career choice where you may achieve a lesser degree of success


• Lean into your fear.  If you detest the idea of calling your clients, following up on potential sales, etc., maybe your choice is to do that which you fear most first every day. That way the seeming burden is lifted, and you feel freer the entire rest of the day. And, if you’re hardcore, maybe you give up your sales job for a bit, go to work in a call center to overcome your fear and hone your phone skills, then return to a career in sales better equipped to deal with your fear or have none of it at all.

Make sense? Great!

Now you’re armed with the knowledge that, ultimately, the sum of all fears is rooted in your mind. So…

You also know how to be successful by leaning into your fear.

Go get ‘em!

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How to Improve Customer Service

Customer service. It’s a pet-peeve of mine.

Good service, bad service. Good customers, bad customers.

Here’s some simple techniques on how to improve customer service, whether your business is online or off, brick ‘n mortar or virtual. We’re all customers at some point, and we all deliver customer service sometimes… whether we realize it or not.

Follow this one basic rule and even if you DON’T attend all the seminars or read all the books or focus on honing your skills… your customer service skills will open many doors for you.

Join the conversation below, and add your comments.

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How to Choose the Best Network Marketing Company

So, maybe you’ve read a previous article about network marketing and the companies that utilize direct sales as their marketing and distribution platform.  And, maybe (hopefully) you’ve taken the next step and reviewed Robert Kiyosaki’s video describing the type of person who will do best in network marketing.  If not, you may want to do that now.  Okay, now that we’re square on that, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

First, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Not all network marketing companies are created equal, in my opinion.

Second, they span across a multitude of industries.  As of today’s date, when I Google “network marketing companies”, there are 52,500,000 results!  Yes, that’s 52 million.

52,500,000 Network Marketing Results in Google

Now, in all fairness, it is Google, so it’s also likely that not ALL 52+ million results are actual companies.  Some of these results are likely network marketing haters and nay-sayers posting videos and articles bashing one company or another.  Still, there are a lot!  Agreed?

How do you even begin to find the right one for you??

Although I’m really going to hone in on the business-savvy and logical aspects of targeting the best network marketing companies, I also believe whole-heartedly that it’s vital to find one that’s aligned with you, your personality, and your passions.  Why?  Because it’s going to be difficult to do what you need to do if you’re dreading dumping yourself out of bed every morning and there’s nobody and nothing “there” to motivate you to do it – like a boss who you have to answer to if you’re late… again.

So, to begin with, I think it’s best to ask yourself what’s really important to you about a company you’re going to align yourself with.  Truthfully, this should be a consideration and thought process that takes place whether it’s network marketing or a traditional employment situation.  I mean, you can get just as burned out (if not moreso) at your j-o-b than working as an independent contractor in a network marketing situation.  If you’re in alignment, that’s less likely to happen.

Where do you begin paring down 52 million results, though?                        Man holding head leaning by question mark

Well, for me, some important things were:

  • transparency (in dealings, complaints, value, compensation, and so on)
  • a fairly wide open market (leaving plenty of room for growth in all directions)
  • stability (I think the stats are something like: 50% of all new companies – traditional or not – fail within the first five years and 50% of those remaining fail within the second five years)
  • leadership (both of the company and my sponsor)
  • consumable products (or at least those that I can see people paying a monthly subscription for)

When you start looking at these things, the list gets shortened pretty darn fast.  Believe me, though, I’m in no way trying to say that even with all these things in place a publicly-traded company – with all it’s “transparency”, years of operations, seemingly stable leadership, in-demand and barely tapped market, and needs-based products that are consumable – can’t dupe the American population.  They can and will – even with the government’s knowledge!  History has shown us that.  It’s no different than a traditional business, however – whether online or off – as we’ve witness by the dot-com bubble, real estate bubble, pending economic bubble, and the list goes on.  We’re just hedging our bets here.  Even with a traditional job, you can be hired this week and the business be insolvent in another one or two.  (This actually happened to a friend of mine.)

So, to further narrow down the search…  IF your list is similar to mine…  It may be wise to check into DSA (Direst Sales Association) registration, listings, complaints, and standing status.  See, the DSA only ranks about the top 200, I think, so you’ve now gone from 52 million to 200 with just this one criteria!  (For instance, the company I chose to align with is within the top 10, I believe, and is the only one in that range for its industry – health and wellness.)

New York Stock ExchangeWith this knowledge in hand, you should be able to wipe out the vast majority of even the DSA’s list of 200.

  • Find something you feel passionate about and can “get behind”
  • Check the DSA for stats, complaints, standings
  • Look at company performance on the NYSE

Next, are there any documented endorsement or testimonials.  Be sure you understand I said “documented”.  How come?  Because – especially with the use and ease of the internet – people can throw whatever they want up on a web site.  Again, using my company as an example:  Would you agree it’s pretty powerful to be able to tell people (customers and potential network marketers, alike) that the company’s products are endorsed by over 600 professional athletes – some of whom are Olympians??  I mean, those people are tested, right?  And they have to be in optimum physical condition.  Those things help in terms of customers wanting to do business with a company backed with that kind of confidence by people who use the very same products they’re considering using.  Plus, those building a home-based business within the company get the confidence of knowing that that very same confidence exists outside of themselves, their sponsor, or even the company president.

Then, the biggie:  earnings.  As discussed in a previous article, network marketing is a place where you can make no money, some money, or an Shiny Gold Dollar Signabsolute abundance of money… depending on your own focus, efforts, growth, etc.  The company’s statement of average earnings should be a great indicator if you’re serious about your business and know the income level you’re aiming for.  (Some people just want a little more money at the end of their month, and some want six and seven-figure earnings and beyond.)  Again, almost every company has at least a few who are or have been quite successful.  As is said in the industry, though:  “Those results are not typical.”  I’m the kind of person who (although I’m tend to be very optimistic) will always evaluate for worst-case scenario, knowing that everything above that is “gravy”… a “bonus”, if you will.  With that said, I look at a company’s average earning statements this way:  If I can accept the lowest amount on the statement for average earnings, then I’m pretty good with everything above that.  See, one of the companies I was a part of did have million-dollar earners… but the majority of people aligned with them made no money.  None.  Conversely, when I saw my current company was paying out an average part-time income of $25,000, that seemed reasonable to me.  (I supported my son and myself on less than that a few times during my 16 years as a single parent!)

And lastly, let’s look at the leadership.  This applies, in my opinion, to both the company and the sponsor.  (No, I don’t believe your sponsor directly determines your level of success.  One of the beauties of direct marketing is that your “boss” can be a total jerk, know less than you, etc., and you can still go on to earn more money than them!  I do believe having a great sponsor as a leader can dramatically reduce your learning curve, though — and thus, speed at which you achieve success.)  I’d suggest you really evaluate why the company was started, how it’s been developed, whether or not it’s aligned with your personal values (One of mine is philanthropy, so it was important for me to find a company that also “gives back” in proportion to its success.), and what their overall mission statement is.

Believe me, if you’re seriously considering a network marketing business for yourself and just spend a few hours on one day to go through these things on your own, I have no doubt you’ll find…

The absolute best network marketing company for you.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt


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Goals-to-Results in 3 Easy Steps

Dreams to GoalsAs the year winds down, many of us will sit down to think about and set New Year’s resolutions.  Less, but still some will go a step further and call them goals.  Still fewer will take another step and actually write them down for frequent reflection and reminders.  And, only a fraction of the original lot will put in the time and effort to reverse-engineer those goals, putting action behind them so they become quantifiable results.

 Do you want to make this the year that your resolutions and dreams begin to come to fruition?

Or, are you going to be happy and satisfied with yet another year of making resolutions that fail to last even three weeks into the New Year?  Decide now.  If you’re in the second group, you can stop reading; I have nothing to offer you.  If you’re in the first group, however, hold on to your hats because we’re about to embark on the journey of a life-time – and I can hardly wait to hear about your successes and achievements!

  1. Make a list of dreams you’d like to turn to results in the coming year.

Remember:  This is one year – not two, five, or ten.  Keep them realistic and manageable.  That said, this year’s goals can be part of bigger goals that will take a longer time frame to accomplish, which is okay; just see and know it for what it is.

  1. Pare that list down to your top three-to-five highest priorities.

It’s not “bad” to have more, and I don’t personally think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  What life has taught me, though, is that, for the majority of people, focus is easier to achieve and maintain when there are fewer distractions.  So, the more you can place a laser-focus on your target, the better your results are going to be and the faster they’ll come.

  1. Reverse engineer the goal.

What does that mean?  Well, this is the part where you really begin to exert some mental power and time into the process because it means you need to actually think about the steps it will take to achieve that goal.

For instance, if you want to lose weight or become more healthy in the New Year (unsurprisingly one of the most common – and least fulfilled – resolutions that people make each and every year), put some thought into what this means for youWhat defines “weight loss” for you?  Is it 10, 30, or 100 pounds?  Everybody’s different, so define what’s best for you.  Then, choose the steps that are going to help you make this a reality.  You may end up with an action plan that looks something like this:

GOAL:  Weigh “X” pounds by December 31, 2015

  1. Eat one serving of fresh fruits and vegetables each per day
  2. Weight LossEat six small meals each day instead of two or three big ones
  3. Go out to eat one time per week as a reward for sticking to my plan
  4. Enhance my food regimen with high-quality vitamins and minerals to maximize my energy, stamina, mental performance, etc. (Free Health Assessment available here)
  5. Do some kind of cardio workout 20 to 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  6. Do some (light) weight training 20 to 30 minutes ever Tuesday and Thursday
  7. Weigh myself every morning and record my progress
  8. Envision myself as this lean, healthy machine daily (5 to 15 minutes)

Make sense?

But what if your goal is non-physical?  Let’s say… financial, since most people rack up a lot of credit card and other debt at Christmas then try to recover from it all year long — so they can do it again next year, right?  This is the year that pattern gets interrupted, and the way you look at and feel about money moves to a higher plain.  Your plan may look more like:

GOAL:  Eliminate “XYZ” Credit Card Debt

  1. Create and adhere to a budget (based on percentages, not dollar amounts, for psychological reasons; aligned with your frequency of pay)
  2. Credit Card DebtContact my credit card providers and request a lower interest rate
  3. Improve my financial education by reading on the topic 20 minutes daily, by those who are where I want to be or are at least debt-free
  4. Apply a consistent additional amount to my payment every month – or make a partial payment every time you get paid
  5. Set-up separate accounts for different purposes:  savings for short-term accumulation, checking for paying expenses, special-purpose savings for taxes or insurance or household expenditures…
  6. Give to some cause or charity every month (or pay period)
  7. Match your “giving” to yourself, and put it in another account or investment vehicle
  8. Plug-in to a free Financial Freedom Friday call for knowledge, strategies, and support (click the link or send a blank email to awlist3692158@aweber.com for details)

See, the thing is, most people make resolutions and goals with the greatest of intentions; they simply fail take actions that drive results.

And, honestly, most people try to rely on themselves to “make the magic happen”.  In reality, though, the encouragement, support, and sharing of ideas and knowledge you get by working with others who have (a) either “been there, done that” or (b) are like-minded and also taking action will compound and accelerate your progress, getting you results beyond anything you can imagine.

Make your plan today – not midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Keep your “head down”, focusing on  your goals; and by this time next  year, you’ll come up for air, look back at how you and your life has transformed, and be amazed by how much you’ve achieved.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt


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


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


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


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