Dream or Reality?


We tend to dismiss fresh, wild ideas simply because they seem hard to realize or attain.

What appears impossible today, may very well become possible tomorrow. Technology is but one domain where this observation is quite valid. How about our own lives? We can all remember a time when we looked at a situation, a goal, an aspiration, and said: “Boy, that would be great, but it’s out of my reach, it’s impossible.” Then, a few years, days, or dreams later, we see someone else be, have, or do it.

Stretching applies to the soul as it does to the body. A worthy vision deserves our best, doesn’t it? And we all agree that our best is not where we are at this point. It lies in the open, unknown range before our eyes, our real sight.

I came across this quote by Hellen Keller while reading On Fire by John O’Realy: “The most pathetic person in this world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” However, a vision that stays locked down in a notebook, or hung on a wall is only worth the page or the wall it’s written on.

How can we translate a dream into reality? This question is as old as time. Yet, the answer is ever new and unique to each and every one of us. What if we dare to ask: “What if?” Would new possibilities open up in our hearts and minds? That, my friend, is the first, and most crucial step in fulfilling a dream!

Now that we’ve established the belief that our dream is “possible,” it’s time to stretch into new parts of possibility. Unkown territories of thought and action. Regions we’ve never dared to step into so far. A lofty dream calls for a daring mission, uncomfortable undertakings. One is answering the question: “What is it that I really want?” We need to get down to some details, but not too much at this point.

When it comes to manifestation, one must be clear, and positive. Surprisingly enough, we manifest what we want as much as what we do not want! The dynamics are the same. The only difference is the ‘not’ factor:)

Clarity goes a long way to affect the quality of the results we get. That’s why it’s important to write down that which we really want. Chances are if you don’t write it, you won’t get it. How can we achieve something we never admit we want. It’s the inner chamber of thoughts and feelings that matters here, not the ‘world’ view of what we aim to manifest.

When we write something down, new brain pathways start to emerge, especially if we use a pen/pencil and paper. Our mids are sensitive to action as well as thoughts and emotions. The wording is very important, too. “I don’t want to fail” leads to different results than “I intend to succeed.” Here we start to see the effect of negative statements. An even better goal would look like: “I intend to get an A in math this semester.” While the first intention is positive, it’s rather vague for the mind to start working on. The second, however, points clearly to the target.

We will delve into the ‘how’ in the next post. In the meantime, see if you can write down one or two of your dreams following these guidelines. Would be awesome if you’d share what you’ve written so we’d work together on turning a goal into a realistic action plan. Please use the comment section if you feel comfortable sharing.

Stay tuned.

The Wealth Maker

Image Credit: Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

Risk and Reward- The Vital Two R’s of Business


We are risk takers by nature, all of us, in varying degrees. But marching into the unknown is a human instinct that manifests itself in obvious, as well as mysterious ways. Every hour of every day we take risks. You may allow your mind to explore this idea and find examples. Traveling to a new country, hiking an unmarked trail, buying a gift for a loved one, tasting a weird- smelling food, going to war, getting married, asking for forgiveness, climbing the Himalayas, camping, skiing, driving, falling in love, leaving home, and doing nothing is also a form of taking risk, yet indirectly.

For the sake of our topic, let’s narrow down that endless list to just one: Starting your own business and deciding to become an entrepreneur.

Why do people leave the comfort and security of a guaranteed pay-check, and go on their own? For starters, that comfort has become unattainable lately. Downsizing, mergers, acquisitions, financial crisis, to name a few, have made job security a thing of the past.

But that is not the main reason entrepreneurs go out and face the world alone. It is something within each and every one, a calling if you will. I bet you’ve heard this before and you might be thinking: “OK, a calling, but what is the percentage of success of that calling? Show me the money!”

True, no matter how strong a calling was, and how enthusiastic the person would be, a business venture must yield financial results. In other words: Money 🙂

That’s why, before delving in the ocean of entrepreneurship, one must evaluate few traits that are vital to making that journey a pleasant and fruitful one.

So what are those traits? The first that comes to mind is risk tolerance. I’ve talked about this, giving it an acronym of RT in several posts about investing, and it still applies here, probably more so. A low RT isn’t going to help here. A very high one would result in taking too much risk, and again that is dangerously dangerous 🙂

We are looking for a healthy RT, which on one hand drives the entrepreneur to explore new, uncharted frontiers, most of the time alone and with little knowledge and tools, and on the other, keeps him/her aware of the potential challenges, and do enough research and preparation ahead of, during and after taking the risk. What is that called in plain English? Wisdom combined with courage. And in eloquent English: Courageously wise or wisely courageous 🙂

The heart of our discussion here is the following:

‘Risk and Reward are proportional: The more risk one takes, the higher the probability of reward. The opposite seems to be true, most of the time.’

Let’s start with a simple example: If you decided not to teach your four-year old child how to ride a bike, fearing the risk of injury, you denied him/her the rewards that come with riding a bike. One of them is innocent joy!

To get any reward, we must do something, right? And any doing involves taking a risk, no matter how small. That’s why they are related proportionally.

Raise the level of one, the other gets a boost. The challenge is to find that threshold where raising too much would result in unwanted results rather than rewards. And that threshold differs depending on the situation.

In the example above, rushing the learning curve increases the risk of injury. Taking the matter way too slow may delay the reward or even prevent it from happening.

We need to be patient with the whole process. We start by taking small risks and observe our emotional and mental reactions, just like building, you start with a foundation, then keep adding to it.

Another aspect of this building process is appreciating the results, no matter how small.

When it comes to building a new business enterprise, the principle would be the same, however, the application is different.

Does that mean you start with a tiny little venture then expand gradually? That’s one way to approach it. Say open an online store with only one product line, give it your best till it starts making profit, then add a second product line, and so on.

Nevertheless, if you know that your RT is high enough to get into bigger business adventures, especially if you know you have good financial and practical backing by trusted partners, then you may want to create a vision that would lead to more aggressive plans. For example, starting an eCommerce platform, where small business owners can open their one-product-line stores.

The web is full of tools and articles on how to assess your RT level. Here’s one, which I have no affiliation with, and can’t guarantee its results, but you may want to give it a shot, or look for something else in that line of tools:

http://www.moneycontrol.com/personal-finance/tools/risk-assessment-tools.html

In conclusion, know thyself before starting a new business. The time, money and energy spent doing that is worth the clarity that result from being aware where your next step will hit the ground.

All the best,

The WEalth MAker

StoreFour: Continuous Enhancement


Launching an online store requires a great deal of planning and attention to detail. From selecting the theme, to designing the logo. What will be the static content? How about navigation, payment processing, shipping rules, taxes, and a lot more.

Then once that’s been taken care of, comes one of the most important decisions to make at this point of store building: What exactly are we selling here? Is this going to be a general merchandise or a niche-oriented online experience? Who are the customers, and why would they buy from us?

Down the line from that is product strategy: What products should this store showcase and for how much?

As you move from one stage to the next you realize new understandings and, of course, learn new things.

The final ‘product’ just before the launch will never be perfect, and you know it. But does that mean you keep improving while delaying the launch? No! Continuous enhancement must hold a permanent place-holder on your project plan, just as sales and marketing. Failing to do so means choosing to fail in this fiercely competitive landscape.

Since the launch back in May, StoreFour has gone through several reviews, the last being just very recently. The depth and breadth of each review vary, but they all keep asking some essential questions:

  • In exchange for revenue, what value does this store offer?
  • Do current products serve that value?
  • Is there a clear line of sight between the products and the vision/mission of the business?
  • Are customers satisfied? How can we measure that, then improve it?
  • What products to keep, modify and/or delete?
  • What products to add?
  • Are marketing and sales efforts fruitful so far, and if not, why? How can they be enhanced?
  • What are the short and long-term objectives of this store?
  • Are the store’s design, look and feel expressive of its message and brand?
  • Is it easy to navigate and find information?

As you you can see, the questions do not follow a specific order. In these reviews, you capture questions as they arise, randomly. I like to use a large poster and a bunch of colored markers to write down whatever comes to mind. Then gradually move to a mind-map, before finally creating an action plan on a digital tool.

Casually writing down thoughts, questions and ideas allows something interesting to emerge: Clarity!

While just before you’d started your mind was processing everything simultaneously, and rapidly, now it can observe patterns and priorities, reasons and results. It’s much easier now to find answers and chart a new course, or adjust an existing one.

During the last review, which concluded around mid October, I realized that we need to have more focus on our brand, which means redefining or resharpening the concept behind that brand.

While the message has been to ‘Be, Love, Create and Live’, the products didn’t clearly trace back to it. The four dimensions sit on the titles of four product collections. However, when reviewing individual products, it wasn’t very obvious how each one would serve that message.

We finally came to an interesting conclusion: Let’s not try to find ‘Love’, or ‘Create’ products per say, but rather look a bit deeper and ask: Can a ring, for example, help the customer promote love in her or his life? How about a wallet or a bag? does any have a link to ‘Live’ or ‘Create’? And isn’t ‘Be’ a common thread underlying all others?

Of course, another concern is: What is the market pulse for any product we offer? On the one hand, we definitely want to provide true, authentic value. Yet on the other, the business must meet its financial objectives in order to continue serving that value and progressing to even higher levels of success.

From that understanding, and to bring more focus to the product offering, we decided to keep the main theme, but rename the collections: Rings, Bags, Wallets and Digital.

With few specs about what products to choose for every collection, including high-quality, trendiness, and usefulness, we did an extensive research and decided to have only nine products under each collection. This is a major shift from 30 or so products, some didn’t clearly reflect the theme. Now when a customer clicks ‘Rings’, she or he will only see rings under that collection. The same applies to Wallets, Bags, and Digital.

It’s logical and natural after feeling that comfortable with the content of your store to turn to marketing with a renewed will and a fresh determination.

On that, StoreFour now has its Twitter and Pinterest storefronts up and running, with new content and interaction on a daily basis. Facebook already showcases StoreFour, and all are ready from another round of ad campaigns.

We are very pleased to share these exciting developments with our readers, and as always, happy to hear your questions and comments.

Till the next post, be open to new, enriching ideas!

The Wealth Maker

© Image Credit: StoreFour, https://storefour.ca All Rights Reserved

Multiple Streams of Income (MSOI)


msoi

 

I was first introduced to this term by Bob Proctor, a prominent Canadian author and motivational speaker on matters of financial wealth, among other fields related to human success (the definition of human “success” varies depending on the paradigm we use).

The concept is fairly simple, but not simplistic. During and after the industrial revolution (1760-1840), most workers started earning their income through employment in factories and enterprises that supported factory work (banks, press, railways, post, mining, and so forth).

By the turn of the 20th century, more than 50% of the North American workforce had shifted to employment. Excluding the Great Depression period (1929-1939), that percentage had experienced an upward trend, reaching its peak during the era after WW2. Fewer people took farm jobs or started their own ventures. Large corporations absorbed small businesses, manifesting capitalism on a wide scale.

Most of the population had retired to a sense of financial security derived from a “guaranteed” paycheck. The widespread possibility of serving the same employer for prolonged periods of time had supported that disposition. Job security had been perceived as a reality.

The Information Revolution came to shake things up. By the mid Eighties, assured continuation of employment had taken a backseat. Clinging to a job that would end with a two-week notice turned out to be questionable.

Disruptive changes are not always bad. They serve the individual(s) who is open to learning and growing, riding the wave of change, instead of getting washed out by it. Rigidity is synonym to breakdown!

Where does all of that lead us to? Flexibility, autonomy, and being in command of one’s life. Blindly following the crowd is risky, and oftentimes, intellectually and financially fatal. Relying on one source of income in today’s economy is not a wise choice, to say the least.

What are the alternatives? Take multiple jobs at different companies? Work “harder” at the same job to the extent you forget your children’s names or birthdays?! Or rely on social programs, where they exist, to bail you out when the unfortunate happens?

None of these options is viable. We can easily discount the first once we consider the conflict-of-interest provision in any employment contract, let alone the strenuous stretch and excessive stress endured by the employee.

The second is possible, and so many people have traversed that rocky path. However, the impact on personal life is undeniable. Furthermore, those who put 70- and 80-hour work weeks are not immune to reorganization storms. Management by numbers has become the rule at the end of the day!

Social programs can help, but they are not enough. They are meant to supplement other incomes, not replace them.

Now we’ve come to a point in our study where we are ready to consider better alternatives. Alternatives that lay a strong financial foundation, upon which to pursue higher intentions. The tool must remain a tool. When making money becomes the chief concern amid the struggle to “make ends meet”, life loses its meaning, its exuberance and joy. Happiness seems like a mirage dancing on a sun-broiled horizon.

Here is a mathematical representation of the solution:

T = P + (n * S)

T: Total income

P: Primary income

S: Secondary income

n: Number of secondary sources

P could be a form of employment or an established business. What about S? It can be any legitimate, ethical activity that produces money in exchange for providing real value.

Investing is one example. Online stores, part-time teaching/training/coaching, freelance writing (blogging, publishing, technical writing), creating digital products and selling them online on sites, such as Amazon™ and ClickBank™.

You could discover more sources. The bottom line is to find something you love and have the skillset to produce, grow and maintain, without jeopardizing your personal life. Again, we’re building a foundation, not a whole structure.

I have covered investing in great detail throughout this blog. You can learn about online stores by reading this particular post: https://soaring-eagle.org/2012/07/04/making-money-online-online-stores/

Please share with us your comments and suggestions. This article is not comprehensive, as the possibilities are endless. Its aim is to open doors of exploration, to deliver the message that there is more to work-life than a single option…

 

The Wealth Maker

 

© Image Credit: www.windowssearch-exp.com

 

How Can an Investor Read The Future?


Investing is not only an intellectual enterprise. It challenges all dimensions of an investor’s personality and character. That’s why it is an inner job, before it manifests in the outer.

Nonetheless, an investor is not a fortuneteller, a speculator, or a gambler. He or she sees the activity as a business, which is prone to loss and profit, rise and demise.

Human beings are bound by the laws of cause and effect, and governed by the flow of time. Is that so? We tend to “like” to surrender to such determinism because our minds need to find closure on everything. Without such “unconscious” obedience to these laws, without time, the mind gets lost.

Within each and every one of us is a potential greater than the mind. Tapping into that potential requires awareness and inner work. You may start by paying attention to the mind’s ceaseless thinking, and train yourself to be an observer, not a participant in the thousands of thoughts the mind conjures up everyday! You can reach a stage where you “choose” what serves you and add value to your life, while releasing that which confuses or troubles you.

The mind can’t stop working. This is a blessing. Nevertheless, it could turn into a curse when the mind starts using us to “entertain” itself, especially as it finds itself “free”. Keep it busy with something suitable to its nature, and useful to you and to the world around you. Apart from that, practice the art of “un-participation”. You are not your mind!

Here you might say: I’m confused! Are you telling me to be mindless?

Not at all. I’m asking you to be “mindful”. To be the master of your mind not its slave. There is a huge difference between the two worlds.

How is all of that related to investing? Surprisingly a lot!

When you become in command of your mind, and hence your life, all your activities start flowing effortlessly. You bypass the mind’s resistance to the new in favor of the old and familiar.

That leads to a very important fact, which sets the stage for the rest of this discussion: History does not repeat itself! Each and every moment is independent and new, and it may surprise you.

Does that make me read the future? You might ask.

Not literally. However, it advances you light years ahead in your ability to engage the moments while they unfold, which is, in my humble opinion, better than reading the future.

As you rid yourself of a troubling past, and be fully present here and now, you become “aligned” with true universal principles. Time becomes your friend. Cause and effect your servants. You are no longer asleep, spiritually. You start to “see”. You begin to “know” without thinking. You step into a new realm that has already been within you, but now you’re “awake” to its existence and brilliance.

From this new foundation, your investment decisions (and all your decisions) will change, for the better. You have on your side the best advisor ever, you! The real you…

This can only be proven through direct experience. Do not believe any of the above, but try it and practice it, honestly.

After all, whose life and whose money are we talking about? Doesn’t that deserve exploring something new? Haven’t we had enough of resigning to the old, only because it is familiar? And we all know, too well, that “familiar” does not equate to “successful”. Most of the time, it leads to the opposite.

Any breakthrough, throughout human history, has come about by challenging habitual thinking and exploring the frontiers that laid dormant behind the mind.

Gravity isn’t only physical!

The Wealth Maker

Can Wealth Be Attracted, Unconventionally?


 

The advocates of the law of attraction suggest that people “attract” into their lives what they think and feel repeatedly. That is a big statement, and an alarming one, for that matter.

I recently stumbled upon an audio product titled “Attract Wealth”, by barainsync.com ™. It is presented (and probably authored) by Kelly Howell, a well-known figure in that field.

The message is this: If you could bypass the traffic lights of your conscious mind (the gatekeeper of everything you know since you were in your mother’s womb), and delve into the subconscious, impressing upon it messages of wealth and prosperity, you would see different, positive results manifest in your financial life.

Coming from an engineering/science background, I can’t seem to find a method to “test” or measure such claim. The only way of validation is direct experience. And that differs from one person to another.

Regardless of whether the proposition is valid or not, my own view is that it should be treated as a supplementary resource, just like multivitamins.

What does that entail? We still have a need to work, to provide value and be rewarded for it. If something can make that meaningful effort easier and more enjoyable, then why not?

On the other hand, it is true, in my opinion, that the universe is much more than what the five senses convey to our minds. If we can’t see, smell, hear, taste or touch something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that “something” does not exist. Existence is not as simple as we might think. It’s real, complex, and mysterious at the same time.

A word of caution before you try to “experience” the above-mentioned product (or something similar). The soundtracks have embedded brainwaves and subliminal messages. If you don’t know what those are, Google™ them. You’ll find thousands of pages. Here’s the one I’d suggest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainwave_entrainment

If you decide to give it a shot, why not share with us your findings by commenting on this post?

 

The Wealth Maker

 

 

The Trader: Financial Awareness


 

“When a proactive, constructive idea hits you, all of a sudden, never dismiss it, act on it instantly”

That exactly what happened one afternoon, two months ago. I felt so driven to create a LinkedIn group, and name it The Trader. No analysis or deliberate planning, just a strong gut feeling.

Are gut feelings, intuitions, inspirations enough to embark on a new business idea, take an investment decision, or get married!

Honestly, I am not sure. It depends on the person, the topic, and the circumstances. In this case, it was clearly a good idea. The only resistance came from this part that always says no!

I’m so glad now I listened to that hunch. The Trader has become an exemplary group, in less than two months. Not because I created it, but because of the fine people, who accepted my invitation to join, then shared their wisdom, expertise, and hearts. I owe this success to them.

So what is this group all about? Most LinkedIn groups are networking boards. It is different with The Trader. The vision, in three words, is to learn, share and grow.

The world today is filled with financial advisors, professional traders, investors of all types, wealth management experts, financial authors, or just novice beginners, who are eager to find their way through all the clutter, online and off-line.

The Trader aims to start a movement of “financial awareness”. When the right people get their heads, and their hearts, together, have a clear vision, and robust intentions, they can create miracles. You don’t need thousands of members, just a selected few.

The discussions are still spontaneous, which is perfectly normal and healthy. Down the road, and guided by the group’s vision, The Trader will step on its path.

I believe The Trader can present a robust and sane investing model to the industry. That could be the nucleus for a revolutionary trend, one that is rooted in the principles of value investing, yet flexible enough to utilize the best of evolving schools of thought.

It is still young. It has a bright future, and a rich potential.

The Wealth Maker

 

The Art of Prediction


 

Investing is a business that relies heavily on objective knowledge, such as statistics, probability, math, historical data and trends, analysis, logical judgment, in addition to several other fields of factual knowledge.

Most investors, especially those who rely on technical analysis methods to reach buy and sell decisions, stop there. If their analysis suggested that a specific investment did not fit the mathematical model employed, they wouldn’t invest in it.

There is, however, a small camp of investors who use something else, in addition to all the above. That is intuition.

You may have come across the notion of the two hemispheres of the brain. The left hemisphere is specialized in logic, analysis, the outcome of the data feed that come from the five senses. The right hemisphere is intuitive, subjective, spontaneous  It is responsible for our emotions and spirituality.

People differ in terms of which part of the brain they use more often. Accountants, for example, are mostly left-brained. Poets, on the other hand, tend to be more right-brain oriented. A low percentage of any population can use both sides of the brain effectively. Those are hard to find. If you stumbled upon one of them, and were able to recognize the gift, I’d recommend you stick to them as long as possible!

To be a true enlightened investor, you should not ignore your right side of the brain. Although that is a gift, it could be improved with training and practice (to some extent).

So how would intuition help you make investment decisions?

Let’s tackle that tough, and interesting question in the next article.

Till then, why don’t you get more familiar with your brain/mind? Observe your daily life and see which part you utilize more. Here’s a little drill: The phone rang. It’s your best friend calling from the airport, telling you he’s in town for two days. You already had plans, yet, you’d like to see your friend and spend quality time with him. What would you do?

 

The Wealth Maker

 

Life Without Money – The Roles of Money


 

The last post seemed to have opened the Pandora box! Life without money!? Are you out of your mind? Nobody actually said that, but I could read it between the lines.

Yes, life without money, why not? Things, by their very nature, are replaceable. People, on the other hand, are not. The social/emotional crises that sweeps across most Western societies has something to do with this simple fact. Most businesses “cling” to things and let go of people. An employee is referred to in the “books” as a “cost center”, while a desk is an “asset”! Wow! How had we come down to this? No wonder our economies are “soft” nowadays.

Well, maybe I got a bit emotional there. I’m not suggesting that we throw money out of the window overnight, then fall into an even bigger disaster.

Changes of such magnitude take decades, if not centuries. But everything starts with a single idea. If any of you lived to see that happened, please remember yours truly!

Then how would we approach this idea? How would we explore it? I suggest we start by understanding the role of money in our lives.

It is easy to realize that money plays multiple roles, all important. Let’s start with the obvious one: An instrument to facilitate the exchange of benefits and value among people. What does that mean? A company needs the right expertise to build specific products. A group of Engineers have that expertise. There is a potential for benefit exchange and creation of value here, but what is the facilitator? Yes, money. You know the rest of the typical story: As the engineers create the desired value, they receive the benefit in the form of money.

What else? A discriminator. Imagine the price of a first class ticket from Vancouver to Auckland was the same as the price of an economy class ticket; who would travel economy? The carrier would run into a multitude of problems. Money, right now, is the only instrument to “discriminate” among passengers, forcing them to choose what fits their budgets.

And? A controller. In a business joint venture, the party that invests 51% or more has the final word in any dispute. Even in families. In some cultures, after high school, the boy or the girl has to go into the major that her or his father (or mother) chooses, simply because the latter is going to fund the expenses.

Finally, an organizer. Let’s take traffic as an example. When you exceed the speed limit, you run a chance of getting a ticket, in other words, pay money. Consequently, you adhere to traffic laws, and we end up with an organized, smooth flow of vehicles across the city, and over the highways.

We covered the role of a motivator in the previous article, despite the fact that money is not very good at that role. It performs it rather forcefully and negatively!

I guess that should be enough for now. Will carry on in the next post to see what would be an alternative that could satisfy all the above roles and more. Or maybe shift the whole paradigm, and spread the discussion to other fields such as sociology, psychology, policy, etc…This sounds complex, but let’s take it one step at a time.

In the meantime, let’s keep making and growing wealth, the usual way 🙂

The Wealth Maker