Posts Tagged ‘Free Enterprise’

How to Give Constructive Criticism

The best advice on how to give someone constructive criticism. In this episode of Valuetainment Weekly, Patrick shares 8 points on How to Give Constructive Criticism that works in most situations and all types of work environments, sports and careers.

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I recently attended a leadership conference in Miami hosted by Inc. Magazine that led me to write this blog. One of the evenings, I had the opportunity to have dinner at Avalon restaurant on Ocean Drive with two partners of a software company from New York. We talked about business, sports, life, parenting, politics, and many other debatable topics. At the end of the evening we found areas we agreed in and other areas we didn’t, which led one of the partners to say this: “I think we can all agree that I have beliefs that you can’t change my mind about and you have ones that I can’t change your mind about, either.”

My immediate response was that neither one of us are eighty-five years old and set in our own ways, with certain sets of beliefs that can’t be challenged or made stronger. I believe this is one of the differences between being wise and being smart. Although both of these gentlemen are extremely intelligent, enough to be running a multi-million dollar business, that intelligence can pose a challenge when it comes to taking our thinking to the next level. This leads us to the topic of the difference between being smart and being wise.

We constantly hear parents calling their children smart or their children’s teachers smart, but we rarely hear the word “wise.” Do you remember when you yourself were growing up which students were called smart, or that overachieving cousin you were always compared to? Do you ever wonder how far that smartness got that student or that cousin?

Being smart is linked to having the key to success. If you were smart growing up, it was almost a given that you were going to be successful. But what about the kid who lost his father when he was twelve, lived in fifteen different places growing up, had to start working at the age of thirteen to support his mother and two brothers, and still had to find a way to have a cool image in school? His GPA almost certainly took a hit due to some of those uncertain circumstances, and that perhaps caused him to not earn the label of smart. What do we do with that kid in our society? Do we throw in the towel for him and say that he has no shot in life because of his circumstances, or do we label him as a wise kid?

Let’s look at some differences between being smart and wise:

1. Can anyone be smart?

  • What would you call someone who has spent ten years studying a topic? Sports, politics, religion, health, relationships, parenting, or any other topic. How about if she reads 100 books just on that one topic and takes courses on it for years? Wouldn’t that make her smart?
  • But does that necessarily make her wise? Have you ever met anyone who knows a ton about sports but isn’t necessarily a great athlete? How about someone who has studied religion but doesn’t implement any of the doctrine taught in his religion? What would you call that? Someone who is smart but not necessarily wise possibly?

2. Logic versus emotion.

  • Smart people tend to process information in a logical way whereas wise people process the emotional, the spiritual, and the subtle side of the logic as well.

3. Speed of growth creates wisdom.

  • Mark Twain once said, “A person who has had the bull by the tail once has learned sixty to seventy times as much as a person who hasn’t.” I’ve met many smart people in my life who unfortunately pass up the opportunity to put themselves in situations where they would grow at a much faster rate. Sometimes putting ourselves in situations where we haven’t been before empowers us to grow at a rate we never have before. It’s almost as if you experience ten years in a span of six months, which leads to wisdom.

4. Does wisdom only come with age?

  • Jimmy Connors once said this about experience: “Experience is a great advantage. The problem is that when you get the experience, you’re too damned old to do anything about it.” There’s no doubt that a big part of wisdom does come with experience, but one of the most important formulas for gaining wisdom is to surround yourselves with people much wiser than yourself whom you trust to help you on your journey of gaining wisdom.

5. When to open your mouth and when not to.

  • Here’s a humorous way of explaining the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Being smart is knowing your wife’s hair style isn’t as good as her last one. Being wise is knowing enough to keep your mouth shut. Gentlemen, this can help you tremendously.
  • Another explanation could be that a smart person is aware that a tomato is a fruit but a wise person knows not to put one in a fruit salad.

6. Know-it-all versus willing to learn and grow.

  • A wise person knows that they’re not the smartest person out there, which makes them seek new information in order for them to learn and grow. We’ve all heard the saying “he’s too smart for his own good,” but I’m not sure how often you’ve heard “he’s too wise for his own good.”

7. Knowing versus doing.

  • There’s a big difference between knowing things and knowing how to use what you know. Reading a book about how to start a business is a waste if you don’t actually start a business. Reading a book about how to improve your health is a waste if you end up having a whole cheesecake by yourself that evening after finishing the book.

8. Employing knowledge versus employing judgment under pressure.

  • A good friend of mind once said that it’s easier for a wise person to gain knowledge than for a smart person to gain judgment. The obvious difference is that being smart is a process of learning while being wise is a product of experience. Age has very little to do with this. A seventeen-year-old kid who grew up in a war-stricken environment has much better judgment when it comes down to how to react during war than someone who is fifty years old with no experience in war, even if that person has read every single book on war.

9. What did Solomon ask of God?

  • Solomon in the book of Kings asked God for wisdom to be a good king. Why didn’t he ask God to make him smarter than everyone else?
  • That prompted me to see how often the word “wisdom” is mentioned in the Bible versus the word “smart.” “Wisdom” is mentioned 219 times, while the word “smart” isn’t used once. That’s right: not even once. The word “intelligent” is used four times and “intelligence” five times, but “smart” isn’t used once. Maybe the Bible is hinting for us to change what to ask for in our prayers.

The ideal plan is to work on being wise and smart. Allow your thinking to be challenged in order to get sharper. Apply what you learn in order to turn your knowledge into wisdom. If you know but do not do, you’re considered someone smart. If you learn and apply that knowledge, even though you may make mistakes, you’re working toward becoming wise. And by doing so, you will notice a difference in the way you handle people, overcome challenges, resolve issues, manage money, and increase your value in your occupation.

Some may say that independent-contractor thinking and business-owner thinking are both the same thing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re living in times when society is doing its best to influence us to work less and to have fewer commitments, less responsibilities, and less accountability. After all, there is a lack of responsibility, accountability, and commitment at the top of the government; this type of “stinking thinking” has been passed down to the day-to-day American, which has in turn led us to where we’re currently at as a nation.

In stark opposition to this attitude, I want to address a certain kind of thinking that gives drastically different results. In order to see how you get to this higher level of thinking, let’s start by looking at the different categories of employment.

There are five stages of employment, which many of us have gone through:

  1. Unemployed: 8.3% of America falls into this category. As you can imagine, it’s very problematic to be unemployed when you have a life and a family to support.
  2. Underemployed: This is quite a large group of people today. The waiter at a five-star restaurant who used to be a CPA or engineer but is now having a hard time landing a good job is underemployed; rather than choosing unemployment, he chose to be a waiter and make $65,000 a year with tips.
  3. Employed: This means you have a job that you’re pleased with.
  4. Independent contractor: You get paid what you’re worth in this category without a set schedule. Freelance graphic designer, realtor, life insurance agent, actor, musician, salesman, and photographer are all examples of independent contractors.
  5. Business owner: This category is a combination of an independent contractor mixed with a tablespoon of the predictable routine or schedule of an employee.

Having been in all of the five employment stages I can tell you that I learned a great deal from each level. But despite what we can learn from all the stages, most people have a desire to own their own business one day. You want to be a partner or a part-owner of a business, in a position where you’re involved in making decisions that grow the company to the next level; this kind of investment requires a different level of commitment than the first four stages.

Now let’s focus on the level of thinking associated with the last two stages. The real question is this: What’s the difference between the level of thinking or mentality of an independent contractor and a business owner?

Most independent contractors think that they’re business owners, but they run their businesses more like an employee does than a business owner. They wait for a financial crisis before going out and working hard to build up their cash reserve again. If in real estate, for example, an independent contractor will work extremely hard to land a few sales; but after making $35,000 in a month, they’ll be somewhat casual the next ninety days, thinking that they’ve already made it big. Once the money runs out, they start panicking and start working hard again. This becomes a cycles that doesn’t stop until they make a decision to start thinking like a business owner.

Conversely, there are many actors, realtors, and salesmen who are independent contractors but comport themselves as business owners. These people represent only a small percentage of the market place, and they are usually the ones who are the high-income earners.

Here are ten points that show a business owner’s level of thinking versus the thinking of a day-to-day independent contractor:

  1. A business owner shows up for work at the same time everyday unless he’s traveling or on the road. He has a set schedule and is predictable.
  2. A business owner invests money into his business.
  3. A business owner runs her own office.
  4. A business owner has a supporting staff. A personal assistant is a must.
  5. A business owner has a system for every aspect of his business in order to minimize clutter.
  6. A business owner usually has a certain set of numbers they track—sales, activity, follow up, profit, loss, etc.
  7. A business owner is a risk taker.
  8. A business owner does everything with a purpose.
  9. A business owner is constantly studying and reading to find ways to improve himself as a leader as well as his business.
  10. A business owner sets goals and pushes to the very end to achieve them.

If you’re an independent contractor reading this, you may see a few items on this list that you currently practice as well as several you need improvement in. I want to encourage you and challenge you to commit to thinking like a business owner in all areas of your business. You’ll see a dramatic difference in your business, which will in turn drastically influence your lifestyle. This higher level of thinking will get you that much closer to living your dream life.

You’re probably thinking to yourself that the correct spelling is “Keyser” Söze instead of “Kaizen” Söze. Although the movie is the kind of a movie a blog could be written about, this isn’t about that. This blog is about the word Kaizen.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means a system of continuous improvement. This system includes continues improvement in quality, technology, processes, company culture, productivity, safety, and leadership. Kaizen is a philosophy that provides peace of mind for anyone in any trade and in any economy.

Put simply, Kaizen means constantly improving in all areas of your life. You may not be great in sales or as an entrepreneur; you might not be the best father, husband, brother, or sister; or you might not be great at cooking or taking care of your body. But wherever you are weak, you can improve. You won’t ever be perfect; but as long as you’re improving on a daily basis, you will have very little to worry about. Kaizen is a way of life.

This blog would be pointless if you finished reading it and walked away only thinking about watching The Usual Suspects. The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to make a list of things that you can do right away to start improving all aspects of your life and commit to acting on that list. This certainly is not easy, or else everyone would be constantly improving and we wouldn’t be where we are today as a nation. Kaizen challenges us to take responsibility for our lives and find out how WE can improve instead of expecting our spouse, our neighbor, our boss, our parents, the economy, our customers, or our relatives to improve. You’ll know you’re living a life committed to Kaizen when your relatives start saying things like “I don’t recognize you anymore” or “you’ve changed.” Remember: These are compliments.

So in closing, my challenge to you is to be an “Unusual Suspect” instead of a “Usual Suspect.”

Every four years we watch presidential candidates run their campaign around things that they will do for the American people if we vote them into the White House. This strategy of campaigning has made the American people believe that we need the government to empower us financially and personally—to, in effect, set us free. Imagine instead if someone campaigned around challenging and encouraging the American people to start making the right financial choices for ourselves: What if the campaign was built around learning how to manage our finances better, or around taking personal responsibility to read and learn about the basic principles of money? Many times we forget that this nation was built on the belief that the American people are capable of meeting any challenge that comes our way, a belief that we have proven to be well founded. Being an avid saver can help you to achieve financial freedom without the campaign promises of hopeful politicians

Here are twenty-two simple and important reasons to be an avid saver:

1. Be prepared for a rainy day.

Challenging times are inevitable, but savings can minimize the problems we face during those times.

2. Have peace of mind.

Having savings somehow makes your pillow much softer when you go to sleep at night.

3. Increase your confidence.

Knowing you have money set aside gives you the courage to invest in new business ventures or to take that family vacation you’ve been putting off.

4. Allow your idea machine to work.

Your idea machine shuts down when it’s constantly consumed with financial struggle and worries. Having savings gives your mind more clarity to come up with great ideas.

5. It simply feels good to have savings.

6. Saving is the right thing to do.

The right thing to do is to simply live below your means for as long as you can. It’s tough, but it’s the right thing to do for your family’s financial future.

7. Set yourself free.

We all want to have control of our lives and the freedom to pursue our passions. Savings provides you with both.

8. Live your dreams.

9. You can jump on good opportunities when they arrive.

When the market tanks or an economic crisis happens, people with savings can turn it to their advantage through smart purchases and investments.

10.  Cash is king!

11.  Save for retirement.

Very few like to think about retirement, but the time sure comes sooner than most people believe. Being prepared for retirement makes the transition a breeze.

12.  Save for a down payment on a house.

The days of putting $0 down payment for a house are long gone. Even if it comes back, it’s not the best thing to do financially. A down payment is a smart investment.

13.  Afford college tuition for kids.

Paying for a portion of your kids’ college tuition can give them a leg up on their financial future by lowering the amount of loans they need.

14.  Family vacation!

This is more important than most people think. Going on a vacation with the family rejuvenates everyone. It’s always good if it’s a paid vacation through your company; but even if your company doesn’t offer vacation opportunities, it’s important to set aside time and savings to make family trips happen.

15.  Purchase a new car

How annoying is it to have a car that constantly breaks down on you? Speaking from personal experience, a clunker can be costly, irritating, and even dangerous.

16.  Get your next promotion.

Employers nowadays promote executives based on their personal financial situations. Many times they prefer to promote individuals who need the money the least.

17.  Savings prevent you from making emotional decisions.

18.  Set a great example for your children.

It’s no coincidence that the financial habits of parents are passed down to their children. Parents with financial discipline usually raise children with the same habits. Children know when parents have financial difficulties.

19.  Keep in touch with your children and grandchildren.

J. Paul Getty once said, “Money isn’t everything but it sure keeps you in touch with your children.”

20.  Give back freely.

Some of the most world-changing charities were started by individuals who had the discipline to save money.

21.   Help aging parents.    

Life expectancy is increasing year after year, which means many retirees may outlive their savings. You may not be able to give your parents the entire $2,000 a month that they may need, but even $500 a month could make a major difference in their quality of life.

22.  If by any chance the Lakers go up for sale you can be a part-owner!