Investing in yourself the Best Investment?

I’m frequently asked by clients about investments. Should they invest in the stock market, mutual funds or maybe even real estate. I respectfully ponder these questions knowing full well that for any professional school is never really out of session. At the end of the day the absolute best investment that anyone can make is in themselves. I can prove it!
Seattle recently had the wisdom to enact a minimum wage of $15 per hour and the law of negative consequences is already taking place even in advance of the law taking effect.  If you are an owner or an employee of a restaurant you are looking at some big changes.  The cost of food has to rise to reflect the new cost of help and if you are an owner you still need to make money.  If you haven’t bothered to invest in what you know and getting better at what you know the voters just made you a victim and you have little hope of fighting back.  Likewise for the employee because they are an unwitting victim as well.
Had you invested in learning new techniques and new ways of operation you would have skills on board to help you navigate the new economy that was created virtually overnight.  Learning new things (no matter if you are the owner or the employee) brings unusual freedom and power and the conscious choice to avoid learning brings unusual reliance on governmental programs and hopelessness.

There are books on tape, You Tube learning (I use this every week), the library and even college if you get really desperate.
Your best investment is and always will be yourself.  The people I know that do well in every economy invest there first and every place else second.  Not sure what to read or listen to?  Give me a call at 916-230-176 or leave me an e-mail at

7 concepts Steve Jobs viewed as critical to success

Steve Jobs is one of the few actual visionaries that we have had a chance as a society to watch close up. He was open enough to allow us to see his successes and failures. It was Warren Buffett who said that he spent very little time looking at companies that do well in the short term because of what he calls dumb luck. No one who looks at what Steve Jobs accomplished in his lifetime would call it dumb luck and I use the term his life and not Apple because he would likely have achieved these goals without regard to the culture he was in because he created that culture.

Steve Job was big on street skills. This was not a polished executive, he was rather someone who got things done in any way possible. Does anyone really think the iPad was the result of a polished and reasonable approach to business? This was a product that no one knew they needed and now cannot live without. This is a product that has encouraged no end of copy cats and wannabes’, some better than others.

Here are 7 concepts Jobs viewed as critical in the world of success. I would love to hear your thoughts after you read them…

  1. You have not failed enough. Mediocrity can be very comfortable and mediocrity happens when you don’t try. It’s easier to talk about doing something than it is to do it. While many sat around and were afraid to try he spent his time failing as fast as he could. He failed so he could learn and then make adjustments.
  2. You are held back because you care what others think about you. People want to fit in and many believe that being different is only cool if you are different in the same way that everyone else is different. Jobs invested in himself and cared little what the world thought of him. What other Fortune 100 executive would open an annual convention is a ragged sweatshirt and a 3 day growth of facial care. He focused on what mattered.
  3. You think you are smarter than you actually are. Jobs spent precious little time worrying about how to pass societal tests. He knew that most learning happened outside of school. He studied life and learned by living. He paid attention. He knew that smart is not what you know it’s how you live. He knew that the tests of life and business aren’t graded on a bell curve or based on a percentage, they are based on survival!
  4. You don’t read enough. Most people read no more than the required stuff, if anything at all. Many think history is boring and philosophy is stupid. Many watch Colbert or CNN to get their news. Few respect that all the power in the world comes from those that preceded us. Instead of spending your time learning about a football team or a movie star, attempt to better understand the world around you. At all times remember that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him think!
  5. You are not curious enough. Are you getting your news from Yahoo or some other form of mass media? Ever consider that what they are telling you could be a lie or just a nice distraction? Jobs thirsted for knowledge. While other people were playing video games he spent his time learning about Quantum Mechanics or how to make a beautiful dollhouse. If you went into a debate with him on any topic he could crush you because he learned multiple topics from several angles and used that information against opponents. Jobs was dedicated to seeing and learning both sides of every argument.
  6. You don’t ask enough questions. Jobs questioned authority and as a result he questioned himself. He knew that asking a question and them letting them talk gave him enough information to destroy them when need be. He knew that control comes from structuring the context of questions and then asking more. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it built an empire!
  7. You can’t handle the truth. People refuse to admit that they don’t know what they don’t know… And in most cases they don’t! If most people knew that everything would be different tomorrow they would wait until then to do anything about it. Even when other didn’t think so, he was aware of his surroundings. Many people walk around with their head up their ass, oblivious to the world around them and he knew how much fun the truth actually is. He understood understanding and knew that the only thing holding him back from the truly amazing was himself.


Steve Jobs often said that death was one of the greatest and least   appreciated aspects of life.  Death places a time limit and encourages  urgency. What could you accomplish with these seven ideas from a true visionary?  


Americans Want More Spending And Lower Taxes.

A survey recently conducted by the research team NORC at the University of Chicago showed that Americans want more government spending and they also want lower taxes. The same survey showed that support for spending more tax dollars on health care has dropped dramatically! Could anything be less surprising? Who else wants more for less?

This is the customer we are working with. They want more, more, more and are willing to do precious little to get it. These are some of your competitors in business today as well. And I thought they knew better.

I met someone last week in a profession where sales skills matter. They have never invested in a sales class and never even listened to a sales training tape. They were doing ok until 2008 when there was a particularly nasty recession as you may recall. Most people I know weathered it with ease while some just fell apart. This man fell apart and wants to put his business back together. He wants to hit the “Easy” button and solve his problems. No customer list, no testimonials, never visited his business Yelp Account and while he gets a few calls from Angie’s list and has no earthly idea why. In short, he doesn’t have a business… he has a job and that explains the panic mode.

His solution requires some old fashioned roll up your sleeves and get focused work. He says he is ready to get that done. For the sake of him and his family I hope he is being honest with himself.

Success is seldom bestowed on anyone who wants more while giving less, and when it does happen its’ typically a short term win. No one wants short term by the way!

The early indications are positive. His next 24 years will contain a level of focus the last 24 lacked. Time will tell what happens next. As the player said in Jerry Maguire… “Show Me The Money!” his base is saying “Show Me Why I Am Using You”. When we move from a job into a business we show them why. Everyone needs to focus on showing them why!


6 ways to Improve your Business Productivity Starting Now.

I am a to-do list junkie and find myself dedicating more and more time to specific client services. During this time the phone is shut off, the e-mail is disabled and I just work off of my to do list and get stuff done. During this time I waste very little time because my white board serves as a reminder of what’s important and what’s next. This is a system we could all use.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that in a 10 hour day the average executive (that means you!) has less than 3 hours of productive time. Here are 6 ways to expand that by 20% or more and not spend a single second longer at your desk!

  1. Manage Your Mood… Most productivity systems I have seen assume we’re robots – most forget the enormous power of feelings. Starting the day calm makes it’s easy to get the right things done and focus.
  2. Don’t Check Email In The Morning… To some this is heresy. Many can’t imagine not waking up and immediately checking email or social media feeds. I’ve interviewed a number of very productive people and nobody said, “Spend more time with email.” Why is checking email in the morning a cardinal sin? You’re setting yourself up to react. An email comes in and suddenly you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.
  3. Before You Do It Faster, Ask if It Should Be Done At All… Everyone asks, “Why does it seem impossible to get everything done?” The answer is actually easy: You’re doing too many things. Want to be more productive? Don’t ask how to be more efficient until you’ve asked “Do I need to do this at all?”
  4. Focus Is Eliminating Distractions… Ed Hallowell is a bestselling author of the book “Driven to Distraction”says we have “culturally generated ADD.” Has modern life permanently damaged our attention spans? Not necessarily. What we have done is to have more tantalizing, easily accessible, shiny things available to us than human beings have ever had. The answer is to lock yourself somewhere to make all the   distractions go away.
  5. Have Your Own Personal System… I’ve talked to a lot of insanely productive people. None of them have ever said “I don’t know how I get stuff done. I just wing it and hope for the best.” Not one. Routines can be formal and scientific or personal and idiosyncratic – but either way, productive people have a routine.
  6. Define Your Goals The Night Before!!! Wake up knowing what’s important before the day’s defined and expected emergencies come into your life and your inbox screams new commands. Define your one or two most important to-dos before dinner, the day before!


Taking these actions has a lot in common with going to the gym or dieting. Not easy to do at first and in the long term you will develop habits that begin to serve you for the long haul. Gaining 20% or more from your week is worth working toward. Still not sure? When you get home tonight ask your spouse or kids if they want you around more. If they say yes you should consider this… If they say no you should have started on this weeks ago!

Go Forward And Kick Some Ass This Week!

Why People Like Peyton Manning Are Invaluable…

peyton manning

With apologies to San Francisco 49er fans, I watched the Broncos vs. 49ers game Sunday night. This game was billed as the Kid vs. the Vet. Kid Colin Kaepernick is a complete physical specimen and a great athlete while Peyton Manning is supposedly at the twilight of his career given his advanced age and 4 neck surgeries. Here are a few of the facts and what we should all take away…

mark ross 001

The 49er Quarterback is younger, faster, stronger, more mobile and can do things that the older Manning cannot even consider. What Manning has going for him is that he has seen everything that any team can throw at him, he does his homework   at an level few can believe and when the coin is tossed before the game he knows that he’s done everything possible to get the win. While the win is never         promised he over prepares himself, demands the same from his teammates and demonstrates what is expected. This is part of the reason he has thrown 510 touchdown passes in his career and will likely hit 600 according to his former coach Tony Dungy.

I am privileged to work with people that display this demand to win on a daily basis. One of those people holds the positions of Sales Manager and Lead Sales person for Brower Mechanical. Mark is slightly older than Peyton Manning and while he does not have the desire to climb around in attics or climb on roofs he has something that eliminates the requirement to do these things. Mark is a   master at paying close attention to his customer while learning everything about them before deciding what to do next. There are times that Mark will walk away from what could be a sale because he knows that there’s not a fit between his solution and the prospect! He has learned a lot in his years of in home sales and knows what works and doesn’t work. Like Manning, Mark does his homework and over prepares for each situation he goes into. Mark is a great salesperson and he lives the mantra “They will never care how much you know until they know how much you care!”

From the reading I’ve done it’s clear to me that whenever anyone gets to the top in what they do, they are both a hard and smart worker. I recently learned that Jimmy Kimmell works between 75 and 90 hours every week and is always the first one to the show to get the ball rolling. This is why he’s able to make it all look so easy… He is over prepared and it shows! When things go wrong on his show or a joke bombs he takes responsibility for it and moves on. This is what Manning did after he lost the Super Bowl to the Seahawks and what Mark does when he doesn’t close a sale he believes he should have closed. Responsibility, when it’s combined with hard work is the easiest thing in the world to handle.

As you may know I took last week and spent it in Las Vegas. This was a combination of work and rest. While I was away I took in 5 webinars and met with 6 potential clients from the Las Vegas area. I am not sure who said that business and pleasure don’t mix but they were wrong! You not only can do both but you should do both in my estimation. The people I know that do well all have this in common and it shows. I had a client recently go to Italy for a week and told me in advance that he wanted and needed educational material for both he and his significant other for the flight there and back. He does this every time he goes away for pleasure and this is what keeps him at the cutting edge of what he does I’m convinced. Don’t take anything I’m writing to suggest that your life should be all about work because that is NOT what I’m saying. As Jeff Olson points out in the book The Slight Edge, it’s easy to do the things that will make you a success and it’s easy to not do the things that make you a success. Reading 10 pages of a good book every day is easy to do and easy to not do. Which easy thing are you going to do?

What about the rest of us? What could you add to what you do that your competition is unwilling to do? Are you going to simply outwork and out prepare your competition or are you willing to leave it to chance? Being a leader requires just a little more work than being a follower and unless you are the lead dog the view isn’t going to change!


If you demand to be the leader you were meant to be give me a call at 916-230-0176 or email me at and let’s get to work! There is much to be done and less and less time to do it!



First Sears… Then Wal-Mart… Then Amazon?

sears kmart

As I sit here today and reflect on 25 years ago, I remember that the lead dog in the retail land was a little company called Sears or Sears and Roebuck for those old enough to go back that far. They were the undisputed leader and that was in pre-Google times! Much has changed since then. In the last 10 years Sears was bought out by another failing retailer by the name of K-Mart and few would question that they will ever return to their glory days.


Along came Wal-Mart… they are now the leader of the pack. Wal-Mart leveraged small markets and quietly became the largest retailer on the planet. They show no signs of   slowing down! Even Wal-Mart has done a poor job of talking about what they do. The     average train of thought is that everything they sell is made in Japan, Korea or China when in fact less than 10% of what they sell comes from other countries. Most of what they sell is made in America but you’d never know that. Things like food are almost all from America! It seems that Wal-Mart is here to stay as the lead dog in retail for the rest of our lives. I don’t think that anyone cleared that idea with Jeff Bezos from Amazon even in light of their current issues.


Amazon started as a small online book seller and not much was said about them other than the fact that they were losing money and would soon disappear from the landscape. That message was never received by Bezos. Amazon continued to lose money on every book they sold and they parlayed that into a retail beast that Wal-Mart will have to reckon with. Amazon is a     company that was able to get the Post Office to start delivering packages on Sunday using   non-post office staff driving Post Office vehicles. This is a huge advantage over Wal-Mart and I just learned that the Post Office is going to start delivering groceries via the Amazon platform! While people may hate the Post Office studies show that most people love their letter carrier. Amazon working with the USPS is an example of buying credibility. Amazing!

How does this equate to what each one of us does on a daily basis? Simple! What Sears,     Wal-Mart and Amazon bring to their customer matters to that unique person or cross section of buyer. What does the buyer of your product actually expect to be delivered and how can you add to that in an effort to amaze? Steve Jobs changed the game with the iPad and iPhone and sadly he passed opening the door for Samsung. Samsung saw what Jobs did and created a hybrid of a phone and a tablet called a “Phablet”. Samsung now leads the industry in this category. I have no doubt Apple would have arrived here first with Jobs in the picture. Jobs isn’t and Samsung is the gold standard with Apple in the odd role of playing catch-up. How can you redefine yourself, change and enter this game?

I know that if you have the identical business today that you had 3 years ago you are dying! Things change too fast and too dramatically for any of us to remain the same. If you are a general car repair you need to start the transition to Hybrids because they are the rage. If you sell insurance you better sell financial investments as well. Work in heating and air conditioning and you had better sell Solar,     insulation and lighting or you are going to get passed by. In other words you need to stay informed and respond to trends… and trends change! To survive and thrive in the years ahead you are not only going to have to change, you are going to have to be comfortable with change. Change is where the             opportunity lies and where you will need to live.

Last week I referenced the book “The Slight Edge” where he writes that doing little things to   succeed are easy to do and easy to not do. Reading 10 pages of a good book every day is easy to do   and easy to avoid. Just like listening to 15 minutes of good content on your car stereo or exercising for 20 minutes 3 times per week. These things are all easy to do and scary easy to not do. Investing in your own success is the gold standard today and even a small investment will create a big result. The people I work with that are doing the best are the ones that are pushing daily and staying in a position of being             uncomfortable. A lack of comfort at some level today creates massive comfort down the road and the   reality is that most people who retire become lost, dead or start greeting at the local Wal-Mart. If you think retirement sounds good I would invite you to visit the same local donut shop 5 days in a row take note of the people there. They share the same stories daily, the same pictures daily and you can almost see them age during your week of observation. A truly sad waste of talent and experience.

I know a man who sold for Hilton Vacations for years. He made great money and loved what he did. His friends begged him to retire and join them and he did just that. He went bat shit crazy within a year and had to get back in the game of sales. It took him a while but he did it on his terms. I’m convinced he is happier than ever. He changed several times in a little bit and it served him. It will serve you as well if you let it!


Get comfortable with change. I promise it’s here to stay! Change everything that seems   reasonable. Exercise, read something that fosters growth, take your spouse or kids out to dinner with no cell phone for anyone, mentor a child (possibly your own) and decide that this is your time. Statistically there will be 10 people at your funeral that will cry so what the hell? Make some mistakes and change some things! Call me, I can help!