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5 Step Process to Daily Growth

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“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.” John Wooden

Achieving success requires that you pursue and realize your dream. In order to realize your dream you need to gain new knowledge and develop new skills. You must evolve into the person you need to become in order to realize your dream. The key to realizing your dream is daily growth. The key to daily growth is daily learning. You need to make growth a daily habit. But how? By processing growth into your daily schedule. Each day commit to reading at least 30 minutes about something that helps you gain more knowledge. That’s step one. You then need to document what you’ve learned each day. Writing down new information helps reinforce that knowledge. Many of the self-made millionaires in my study maintained a binder that they filled with new information and then separated that new knowledge into topics. That’s step two. Once a week they would review their “fact binder”. That’s step three. The fourth step requires that you use that new information. Knowledge, without action will not stick. Finding ways to act on what you’ve learned creates a synapse, or neural pathway in the brain. Repetition moves your new knowledge into long term memory. That’s step five.

Rule of 1

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Success isn’t an event it’s a process. We have become conditioned to view success as an event because self-made millionaires oftentimes experience some avalanche of success event that gets the attention of others. But that avalanche of success event is really the result of daily growth and consistent efforts that move you closer to achieving your goals and dreams. You become that successful person, long before the avalanche of success event occurs. The manifestation of any success event requires that you learn and grow every day.

The “Rule of 1” is a strategy that will help transform you into the person you need to be in order for success to occur. It’s a simple strategy. Each month you focus on learning one new thing. Ideally, this new thing should be something related to:

  • Your main job
  • A side job
  • Your side business
  • A future side business
  • Goals or a dream you are pursuing

The “Rule of 1” process:

  1. Every day for a month spend at least 30 minutes reading about a new topic or subject (alternatively, you can listen to podcasts or watch videos on the topic)
  2. Write down important facts on a sheet of paper
  3. Summarize the most important facts on large index cards
  4. At the end of the month transfer the important facts on that topic from the index cards onto a summary sheet
  5. Put the summary sheet in a “Fact Binder”
  6. Repeat this process each month focusing on a different subject or topic
  7. Once a week review each summary sheet

After one year you will have learned 12 new subject areas. You will have grown in your knowledge. This new knowledge will help you become an expert in your field. It will move you closer to becoming the person you need to be in order to realize that avalanche of success event.

5 Habits Top Parents Teach Their Kids

Parents who mentor their kids by teaching them good daily success habits, set their kids up to achieve far more than 95% of their peers and go on to achieve great success in life. In my study of the daily habits of the rich and the poor I uncovered certain success habits that the wealthy learned from their parents as children. [Read more…]

Tip o’ the Morning to Ya – The Power of Knowledge

Rich Habits Word of the Day

Erudition – Learning, self-education.  His erudition was self-evident the moment he began to speak.

Rich Habits Fact of the Day

Arthur C. Clarke is one of America’s most celebrated science fiction writers. Too poor to go to college, he educated himself by reading magazines. He has written more than 60 books, with 50 million in print. 

Rich Habits Lesson of the Day

Knowledge has power when used. Make it a Rich Habit to learn one new fact every day. Create a Fact Binder and add to it every day. Spend 10 minutes each day reviewing one page of facts in your Fact Binder. The Fact Binder should be limited to 10 categories: Career/Job-Related, Current Events, Historical, Health, Biographical, General and 3 Personal Interest categories. As you gain more knowledge you will begin to see more opportunities manifest out of thin air. Increasing your knowledge creates Opportunity Luck. Opportunity Luck is the type of good luck created by wealthy people. Opportunity Luck increases your ability to make money and, thus, increases your wealth.

Top 10 Rich Habits in Running a Construction Business

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It is not easy running a construction business. There are many pitfalls and numerous ways to lose money. But, if you follow some basic steps you can not only make a living, you can become very wealthy.

Successful construction contractors have learned there are certain things you absolutely must do right all the time and certain skills you must have or acquire in order to make it in this very competitive industry. In this article I will summarize the top 10 Rich Habits in running a construction contractors, in their order of importance.

Most Important Factor: Hands On Experience

Do not even think about starting a construction contractor business unless you have at least five years of broad (meaning, not specialized) construction experience. The only exception to this is if you intend on specializing in one area and one area only. We call this a niche. Niche’s can be very profitable, but they can also go away, change or be replaced by technology, new products, changes in the industry or societal changes. The best chance for success in the general contractor business is to gain experience doing everything.

This general experience has many benefits. It gives you the ability to identify and hire competent individuals, fire incompetent ones, evaluate good work product and identify poor work product. Probably the most important thing it gives you is the ability to transition from being a technician to being a manager. The best experience comes from small to mid-sized construction companies that require you to be a jack of all trades. Larger companies have a tendency to pigeonhole you into niches. That is fine if your business model is a niche, but if you start a general contractor construction business with skills in only a few niche areas, you will fail unless you hire to your weaknesses.

Second Most Important Factor: Outstanding Accounting System

If you do not have a sound accounting system your construction business will eventually fail. This CPA has witnessed this too many times than I care to recount. Sound accounting systems allow you to evaluate whether or not you make a profit on a job by job basis. Going with gut instinct is dangerous and fraught with risk. A sound accounting system helps you identify those things you do right on each job as well as the mistakes you’ve made. Numbers don’t lie.

Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that most construction contractors pay little attention to their system of accounting. There is a fear that proper accounting will set the business owner up for higher taxes. Thus, cash received on a job and cash disbursed go unreported in an effort to avoid tax.

What a mistake.

I don’t care how great you think your intuition is, if you don’t have an accounting of every penny on each job, you can rest assured you are flying blind and losing money on each job. You will go out of business and your family life will suffer.

If you decide to start your own business, you need to act like a professional business owner and that means creating a sound accounting system. Failed accounting systems lead to litigation, failure and bankruptcy.

Third Most Important Factor: Proven Processes = Success

When you have hands on experience in the industry, forged by many years (at least five years) of working in every facet of the construction business, you are better able to make the transition from technician to manager. Effective management requires that you have sound procedures on many aspects of your business. Well-defined, proven processes, along with task-specific checklists, allows you to drill your workers on every aspect of a task within a job.

You should have a process with accompanying checklists for every major task within a job. This eliminates human error and allows you to make corrections before the task is completed. Processes are a construction company owner’s #1 management tool. You must develop a process for each job and each task. This process must be in writing and stored in a binder for each job, along with the task checklist. The task checklist should be calendarized. Your jobs binder should include the following:

Tab #1 – A copy of the signed contract and any change orders.
Tab #2 – Budget for the job. Budget for each change order.
Tab #3 – Accounting for income and expenses. The income portion would include the contract bid price, monies received either as deposits or as the stages of the project are completed and monies received for change orders.
Tab #4 – Task List Summary.
Tab #5 – Task #1 Process Summary and Checklist.
Tab #6 – Task #2 Process Summary and Checklist.

Last Tab – Customer sign off letter on completed work along with standard testimonial letter signed by customer, listing customer’s name and contact information along with permission to use the testimonial in marketing and as a reference for prospective customers.

Transfer copies of each testimonial letter to a separate “Testimonial Binder” that you will take with you to each prospect. This Testimonial Binder may be the only thing separating you from your competition. It gives assurance to prospects that you take customer satisfaction very seriously and may be the difference maker. It allows prospects an opportunity to reach out to previous customers in order to obtain references. It also shows the prospect your company is very organized and well run. Lastly, have a picture of the before and after on each job in this binder.

Fourth Most Important Factor: Strong Business Partnerships

A stable of competent subcontractors who have many years of experience working together is crucial to the success of a job. Each job is a team effort and having a strong network of competent individuals/businesses available to you for each job, and who understand your businesses processes, will make each job run much more efficiently. Efficiency and competency = profit on each job.

Fifth Most Important Factor: Project Bidding Process

You can be the most skilled, best managed construction company, with a stable of talented subcontractors and still go out of business if you do not have a strong process in place on bidding for each job. You can lose your shirt if you underbid a job.

How does this happen?

The most common cause of underbidding is not doing your homework and relying on your gut or unverified estimates rather than a fail safe process of checking and double checking each cost within each task. The devil in any construction job is in the details.

The bidding process is very much like your business plan for each job. It must identify every task, every cost and each cost must be checked and double checked before bidding on the job.

Where many construction contractors go wrong is in estimating the cost of tasks incorrectly. These incorrect estimates are caused by flawed assumptions on the tasks and the associated costs, which is the result of not accurately verifying and then re-verifying every task and every cost. It is a painstaking process, but you must get the bid right. Your assumptions on each task must be vetted not once but at least twice. You know the rule: measure twice cut once. This adage is particularly true in the bidding process.

Sixth Most Important Factor: Marketing

Everyone in the construction business understands the importance of referrals. Most of your prospective customers come by way of referral. But referrals are not enough. What should be part of your marketing tool belt?

1. You should have an active web site that includes customer testimonials front and center.
2. You should join a local networking group.
3. You should join a local civic or business organization.
4. You should provide valuable assistance to local community non-profit groups (one or two non-profits is enough).
5. You should have a regular process of bidding jobs that are not referral-based.
6. You should have a process for direct mailings and/or social media marketing.
7. You should have business cards, stationary, job site signs.
8. You should advertise online.
9. Customer Testimonial Binder (referenced above).
10. You should have brochures you can hand out at events or give to prospects.

Seventh Most Important Factor: Stay Current With Technology and Replace Old Equipment/Tools

You must upgrade your equipment and tools to stay current with technological changes. This will not only improve efficiency but also the quality of each job. You must also replace old equipment and tools in order to get each job completed efficiently and on time.

You will know when it is time for new equipment and tools when the old equipment and tools begin breaking down at a rate that causes recurring delays. When equipment/tools breakdown it can cause cost overruns and result in late completions. No matter how good the quality of your work is, missing completion dates damages your reputation.

Eighth Most Important Factor: Hire To Your Weaknesses

No matter how much experience you have, and how skilled you may be, there are certain things each one of us does well and certain things we do badly. More often than not, the things we do well are the things we enjoy doing and the things we do badly are the things we hate doing.

A skilled business owner will hire people who have strengths in areas the business owner has weaknesses.

As an example, one of my clients nearly went out of business because he did not like having to make calls to collect receivables. My advise to him? Hire someone who is expert in collections. He took me up on my advise and eventually, his collections expert, became his partner. His business is thriving now.

Hire to your weakness and watch your business boom.

Ninth Most Important Factor: Document Mistakes and Failures

This should be incorporated into your Job Process/Task List Binder. You must learn from your mistakes. Mistakes should not be considered anything other than an experience learned. Document those bad experiences and incorporate them into your job process and task list binder so as to never repeat them again.

Tenth Most Important Factor: Change Orders

Most contracts include language regarding change orders. Change orders are caused by many factors, which is beyond the scope of this article. But let me be clear in saying that you must cost out every change order as if you were costing out the job in the initial bidding process.

You must then process the change order (list each task and assign a date of completion for each task) and attach a task checklist for each new task resulting from the change order.

Lastly, you must get the customer to understand and sign off on the change order or you will not collect your full price for the job. Many construction contractors do a poor job in addressing change orders. They are reluctant to highlight it with the customer and, consequently, gloss over it in an effort to avoid confrontation.

The reason?

The likelihood of change orders occurring are not adequately addressed up front when you are bidding on the job – this means you are not managing the expectations of the customer during the bidding process.

Customers only see the price you gave them in the initial bid and that is what they focus on.

You must address the likelihood of a change order occurring at the outset of the bidding process and before the contract is signed. If a customer understands from the very beginning that change orders do occur often and that a change order will increase the price of the job, you will be less shy about confronting the customer when a change order becomes necessary.

Remember, success is a process. And so too is failure.

[Read more…]

What’s Your Whetstone?

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“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

What sharpens your axe?

It’s an important question because it gets to the core of what is required in order to become rich and successful.

I have spent over a decade studying self-made millionaires. The one common denominator they all seemed to have were daily habits or daily routines that enabled them to sharpen their axe by consistent daily self-improvement.

Most of that improvement was related to their business, careers or vocation. But many of those self-improvement habits also included keeping fit and healthy and little secrets they deployed to build relationships with other rich , successful people.

Because I had a front row seat that allowed me to peer into the minutia of the daily lives of the rich and poor, I learned that those who were constantly sharpening their ax happened to also be the richest and most successful individuals.

So, in an effort to become rich, I took a page out of the book of these self-made millionaires and decided to create my own whetstone to sharpen my own axe.

For me, my whetstone is a proven process that has become my morning routine, or set of habits: [Read more…]

How to Make Yourself Un-Old

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I have a binder filled with page after page of the studies I’ve summarized over the past nine years. These summarized studies are all interrelated. Each study relates, in some way, to the benefits derived from various habits.

One such habit, aerobic exercise, has so many benefits, I thought I’d highlight them:

  • Reversal of Mild Cognitive Impairment – The first stage of Alzheimer’s disease is known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Several studies of older individuals with MCI concluded that when these individuals engaged in aerobic exercise thirty minutes a day, four days a week, they showed a reduction in MCI.
  • Prevents Alzheimer’s – Other studies have documented that individuals who regularly exercised aerobically throughout their lives were 88% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. One longitudinal study even found that only 5% of women who exercised aerobically throughout their lives developed Alzheimer’s, compared to 32% of the women who did little to no aerobic exercise.
  • Younger Thymus – The thymus is responsible for manufacturing immune cells called T-Cells. It typically begins to shrink around age 20, thus producing fewer and fewer T-Cells as we age. Those who exercised aerobically, however, had thymus glands of a twenty year old – meaning, aerobic exercise keeps your thymus youthful, your immune system healthy, and these two things enable you to live a long, healthy life.
  • Healthier Hearts – Various studies show that those who exercise aerobically during their lives have stronger, healthier heart muscles.
  • Better Cardiovascular Systems – Studies show that those who exercise aerobically have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and other favorable heart metrics across the board than sedentary people.
  • Less Depression – Those who exercise aerobically have lower levels of adrenaline and cordial, stress hormones that have been linked to stress-related diseases and increased depression.
  • Better Guts – Those who exercise aerobically have higher concentrations of butyrate, a type of fatty acid that helps keep you gut healthy, lowering inflammation and increasing energy production.
  • Lower Cholesterol – Regular aerobic exercise, in many studies, lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) and increased HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes – Various studies show that regular aerobic exercise increases insulin action and glucose tolerance, significantly reducing the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Youthful Skin- Individuals over age 40 who engage in regular aerobic exercise have healthier skin than their sedentary peers. Many in various studies had skin comparable to 20 – 30 year-olds.

If you want to live a longer, healthier, more youthful life, forge the aerobic exercise habit. It’s never too late. Studies show that aerobic exercise reverses many of the aging effects that lifelong bad habits produce. Aerobic exercise, in effect, makes old people, un-old.

Everything You Need to Know to Succeed as an Author

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Prior to writing my first book, I had never written a book before, never promoted a book before and I knew no one who did any of those things.

My journey has been the most difficult undertaking of my life. Everything I learned, I learned through the School of Hard Knocks.

But, eventually, I figured things out. I learned what to do and what not to do.

And then I sold a lot of books.

[Read more…]

Are You Asking the Right People the Right Questions?

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What does it take to be successful at what you do?

Realizing a dream requires that you define that dream and then set specific goals that will enable you to realize that dream.

But what goals should you be pursuing? What action should you be taking?

The only way to know is to learn everything there is to know about the industry your dream falls into. This means you need to read and gain knowledge of that industry. Then you must find out what the successful people in that industry are doing.

This means you must seek out the leaders in your industry. Leaders in your industry understand the industry best and have all of the answers.

Once you find the leaders, the next step is to start asking them questions about what to do in order to succeed in the industry. Then document every one of their answers.

I do this via the binder system. Create a binder about your industry. In that binder will be all of the facts you’ve gathered about your industry and all of the answers to the questions you’ve asked of the industry leaders.

The binder should be separated by topic or category. As you gain knowledge you will be able to define the key topics within your industry and fill each topics with facts and answers. Your industry binder will become your bible for your industry. It will help you maintain and grow your knowledge base over time. Eventually you will become an expert in your industry, a leader.

As your expertise grows, so too will your value to others. They will gladly pay you for your value. In time, the value you provide will reward you financially. Success is a process.

 

 

 

 

Tip o’ the Morning to Ya – The Power of Words

Rich Habits Word of the Day

Analogous – Synonymous, similar.   The use of simple analogous words was one of his greatest communication skills.

Rich Habits Fact of the Day

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” Winston Churchill announced gravely in his first speech as Prime Minister of Great Britain. It was, in one sentence, a summary of his approach to all of life.

Winston Churchill’s speeches are among the best-loved public addresses of the 20th Century. It was Churchill’s perseverance in banishing fear, combined with his love of the English language, that defeated Adolph Hitler. That Sir Winston made an impression was not accidental. He carefully crafted and rehearsed each speech. Churchill developed a strategy to practically guarantee that people would remember his most important words. The secret to Churchill’s success was this: he saw words as weapons. He shot them out in short, staccato bursts. He often paired two adjectives together at a time and fired them as from a double-barreled gun. He marched them out rhythmically as if in a parade.

Churchill once told Edward Duke of Windsor, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.” Churchill understood that people remember phrases, not speeches. To be memorable, a speech must contain a few well-placed, punchy, rhythmic quotes. Churchill carefully crafted two or three such phrases into every speech.

Rich Habits Lesson of the Day

Words have power. The words you use to communicate can turn failure into success, a prospect into a client, a stranger into a lifelong relationship. It is important, therefore, to make a Rich Habit out of improving your vocabulary every day. One of the strategies I use is something I call the Word Book. A Word Book is a simple looseleaf binder I use to add new words to. Whenever you hear a new word or word that you would like to incorporate into your vocabulary, write it down in your Word Book along with its definition or synonyms. Spend ten minutes every day studying the new additions to your word book from the prior week. In time this will grow your vocabulary and increase your communication skills.