Review: How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is a shame that I’ve grown up with disdain for salesmen. This book along with others like Think and Grow Rich, The Magic of Thinking Big, and How to Win Friends and Influence People have taught me to love the world of sales.

I avoided such books for years because I thought they were books about techniques to get people to do what you want. I was so wrong.

What I learned from these books is that true sales is about connecting with people and serving them. They taught me that integrity, honesty, hard work, and a willingness to overcome one’s fears and weaknesses are more important that making a sale. In fact, they are essential to becoming who God intended we be!

I feel inadequate as I attempt to scratch down a bit of a review here. I recognize that as is true with all good classics, I could put a lot of mileage into rereading How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling and gain immensely from each read-through.

Bettger faced failures as a professional baseball player and later as an insurance salesman, but he eventually became a huge success, commanding the respect of Dale Carnegie. What changed? Bettger decided to dig into the WHY. Why had he performed poorly in spite of hard work? He began to identify the reasons and attacked them with enthusiasm. His stories show a readiness to learn from others and implement the principles they taught him. He followed the example of Benjamin Franklin and created a system to work on several virtues that would help him succeed as a man and a salesman.

The heart of these virtues is genuine concern for others. Bettger teaches the reader how to work towards overcoming fear, how to remember names and important details about other people, how to be a good listener, how to be genuine at all times, and how selling (when done right) is simply gaining the trust of others so they are willing to let you find them the best solutions for their individual situation.

I’ll end with the counsel he gives in the last chapter. He says that when we finish reading a book we have three choices.

1. Ignore it – we might as well not have read it in this case.
2. Try to implement every good idea – we’ll fail with this approach, because it is overwhelming and unrealistic.
3. Follow Benjamin Franklin’s example and focus on one lesson at a time – this will lead to lasting success.

My first point of focus is remembering the names of those I meet. To learn more about how to master names, read chapter 22! It will be well worth your time.

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Review: 1913

1913
1913 by Oliver DeMille
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another amazing book by Oliver DeMille. DeMille is so obviously keyed into his purpose, and his years and years of intense preparation, study, and experience allow him to deliver the message of liberty with clarity and accuracy.

The most important point I took from this book is that freedom can only exist when the people care enough to study out the issues and remain vigilant. DeMille writes:

Another simple reality is this: When people lose their freedoms in such a system, it is always the people, not the system, which have failed. The people have all the power, but they must choose to exercise it.

DeMille explains three major events that occurred in 1913 that derailed America from its foundation of liberty. These are the creation of the Federal reserve and the passing of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments. These were followed by the ruling of United States v. Butler in 1936 which lambasted constitutional limitations on the federal government.

It is essential that we understand why these events are so damaging to freedom and prosperity, but I’ll direct you to the book to learn more. Do yourself a favor and read this book. It is such a pleasure to learn from Oliver DeMille, because he will never stop with identifying the problems. He always offers solutions.

In 1913, DeMille builds on the ideas he wrote about in his book FreedomShift. (Also a must read for anyone concerned with liberty and government.) In short, there must be an increase in entrepreneurship, self-directed education including voracious reading, and community building that participates in leadership development. Without these changes, the American legacy of liberty and prosperity will continue to erode.

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Review: President Ronald Reagan’s Initial Actions Project

President Ronald Reagan's Initial Actions Project
President Ronald Reagan’s Initial Actions Project by White House Staff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Initial Actions Project (IAP) is a document spelling out Reagan’s philosophy and plan of action for his first 100 days in office.

I liked many of the economic principles. I loved the lessons about effective leadership. Specifically, in a time of arrogant, self-interested politicians, the IAP conveys humility. The plan shows great concern for involving other politicians, constituents, and appropriate agencies while maintaining a firm resolve for Reagan to take the helm and assume ultimate responsibility for the course of the Nation.

I appreciate that this wasn’t just some partisan drivel. In fact, the author of the introduction speaks favorably of Clinton’s economic leadership. The IAP also cites trends of past presidents without regard to their political party. The plan seems sincerely interested in taking the good and learning from the mistakes of others.

I personally have a problem with the idea of criticizing government for being too big and expensive while simultaneously planning to drastically increase military presence, intelligence gathering, and foreign aid. It seems a bit ironic. However, I also wonder what would have happened in the Cold War with a different president at the helm. I lack enough understanding of what transpired in that time to make an educated assessment.

Overall, I think this is an interesting and important document for those serving in or aspiring to leadership positions.

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Review: Los cuatro acuerdos: Una guia practica para la libertad personal, The Four Agreements, Spanish-Language Edition

Los cuatro acuerdos: Una guia practica para la libertad personal, The Four Agreements, Spanish-Language Edition
Los cuatro acuerdos: Una guia practica para la libertad personal, The Four Agreements, Spanish-Language Edition by Don Miguel Ruiz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Honestly, I didn’t love this book, but some of the principles it teaches are so potentially life changing that I had to give it four stars.

One important note: I read this in Spanish; consequently, some loss in translation may have occurred.

The book begins by explaining that our life is a dream made up of all the agreements we’ve made. Many of our agreements are lies born of fear and negativity and those consume a lot of our personal, productive energy. Love-based agreements preserve our energy.

There are four agreements which if adopted will aid us in breaking negative agreements and will allow us to use our personal power to rewrite our dream into heaven on earth.

The first agreement is to be impeccable with our words. Impeccable means without sin. Examples of sinful use of words are: negative self talk, gossiping, lying, carelessness with words, etc. Ruiz reminds us that words have power and must be used carefully and accurately. We should never hurt ourselves or others with our words, instead we ought to focus on using our words toward truth and love.

The second agreement is to not take anything personally. Anything said and done by another person reflects that person’s “reality”, not yours, unless you allow it to become part of your way of thinking. What I liked about this explanation is that it invited me to consider what influences people who make offensive remarks. Maybe they have some emotional baggage that is causing hurt in their life. It makes it easier to have grace toward others.

The third agreement is to never make assumptions. Ruiz makes no direct mention of assumptions making asses of u and me. He does explain that assuming creates a false reality, invites problems in relationships, and creates negative emotions. We assume because we fear asking for clarification or we think others ought to know what we want or think. How much better off would we be if we simply asked for clarification.

The fourth agreement is to always do the best we can. Action leads to fulfillment and happiness. Inaction is an attempt to avoid fear or risk. When we do our best we are content because we don’t feel guilt or shame. It’s about progress, not perfection. One day our best is different than the next day, but we can only be our true self is we’re giving all we’ve got in that moment, otherwise we’re hiding or avoiding part of who God intended us to be.

There is a lot of wisdom in these agreements. It is difficult to master them, but liberating if we do.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to find more happiness and peace in their life, especially those with low self-esteem.

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Review: Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens

Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens
Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens by Oliver DeMille
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens isn’t just for kids. In fact, the subtitle is: And Every Adult Who Wants to Change the World. Appropriately so.

My wife and I learned about A Thomas Jefferson Education a few years ago and have been adopting the philosophy in our home. Many of our friends think it is a home-school curriculum, but it is so much more.

Thomas Jefferson Education or Leadership Education is a philosophy, really a way of life, focused on discovering the genius in each of us and nurturing an awareness that we each have a purpose in life. The more clearly we define that purpose, the greater drive we feel to put in the effort to learn and develop and prepare for the future.

It’s not hard to perceive how powerful this approach would be for a teenager struggling to pay attention at school. How different the focus of our entertainment-addicted would be if they understood their role in shaping the future!

You should read the book, because Oliver DeMille and Shanon Brooks explain it in an infinitely more inspiring way than my attempt.

Brooks and DeMille discuss the historical trends explained in The Fourth Turning of the rise and decline of societies. We are at a critical point in that cycle, and we need adults and youth prepared to lead effectively with integrity and a sound understanding of principles.

Conventional wisdom tells us to study hard, get good grades, get a job, and save for retirement, but this approach no longer offers the security that it did in past decades. I think kids intuitively understand this considering more and more college graduates remain unemployed or underemployed. They start their adult lives with low paying jobs under a mountain of student loan debt. It’s hard to have hope in that situation.

I see a lot of adults coming to this realization as the most experienced professionals in their field (consequently they are often the highest paid employees) are “let go” to ease constricting budgets. It definitely shook my confidence when I saw a bunch of highly competent ICU nurses replaced by new grad nurses without that literally life saving knowledge and experience. That decision was fueled by budgetary stress when the economy took a turn for the worse.

My intention is not to speak ill of professional training, but to point out that a different way of thinking is necessary in these changing times.

Politics is increasingly vitriolic, families are under attack, our prison system is saturated, the state of the nation’s finances is a joke. We can no longer rely on the “experts” who evidently cannot solve the problems. Actually, even if we had wise and principled leaders, if the people don’t understand and get involved we will never see positive change.

The key to steering our nation (and the world) through uncertainty and crisis toward prosperity and freedom is educated individuals. Not just those who have a fancy piece of paper from a university, but people who understand the questions discussed throughout the history of civilization, individuals versed in the various answers posited by philosophers and rulers, and those able to see the historical evidence of where those different routes inevitably take the societies that adopt them.

But understanding alone isn’t enough. Those individuals must also learn to communicate effectively. They must develop the integrity to align their thoughts and actions with truth. They need initiative and drive. And they must be wise enough to know that fixing the world is too big for any one individual or small group of individuals.

We all have our role to play. What’s yours? What are you doing to prepare for and fulfill that mission?

This book will help.

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Review: Kingdom’s Dawn

Kingdom's Dawn
Kingdom’s Dawn by Chuck Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kingdom’s Dawn incorporates Old Testament stories in a Medieval tale. I enjoyed the book, especially for the way it delivers important themes in a way that gets my kids’ attention.

Central to my beliefs about raising children and mentoring youth is that each individual has a purpose/mission in this life. When we understand what our God-given purpose is, we are inspired to learn and prepare. When we are preparing for and fulfilling our purpose, we experience the greatest amount of satisfaction and joy. We will also have the greatest impact for good on the world around us.

This is one of the major themes in the book, and I enjoyed that aspect of it; however, there were a couple of things that bothered me.

I don’t mind incorporating Biblical stories into works of fiction. I wish more authors did just that, but often in Kingdom’s Dawn it was way too obvious and even interrupted the flow of the story. The plot wasn’t very fluid, and I think this may have been a cost of trying to correlate so thoroughly to Old Testament accounts.

I enjoyed the story and the characters, but I found the plot derivative to the point of being a bit distracting.

Still, I enjoyed reading it, my kids like the books, and I think I’ll read the rest of the series.

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Review: TEAM Textbook

TEAM Textbook
TEAM Textbook by Chris Brady
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AMAZING!

This is the textbook for those who are building Compensated Communities through the LIFE Business; however, it is just as much a book on philosophy as it is a book about business.

What is that philosophy?

I’m glad you asked. The philosophy of The LIFE Business is centered on building relationships. This cannot be accomplished with a set of skills or techniques. Pride, dishonesty, and self-centeredness destroy it. Rather, it is a philosophy of character development and servant leadership. It is focused on progress and purpose.

The specific steps to building the business are powerful, and LIFE is experiencing incredible growth. My average reader isn’t yet part of this community, so my review will focus on a few of the character development principles taught in this book.

One of the most powerful lessons taught in this book and modeled by leaders in our community is to expect and see only the best in people.

Any fool can find fault; it takes somebody special to find greatness. In order to build a big business, it becomes absolutely necessary that we see the good in other people.

Your people need to see their victory in your eyes.

We need to make sure that those involved… need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a person or group of people that believe in them and expect the best they have to give.

The thing is, the lesson to see the best in people needs to start with oneself. In a world that constantly beats us down and teaches us that we aren’t attractive enough, smart enough, or capable enough to be great, it is essential that we remember that we are all sons and daughters of a loving God. Created in His image, we are all great in His eyes and have great purpose.

Empowering individuals to believe in themselves, educate themselves, and act on what they learn is the modus operandi of the LIFE Business. We build communities of people breaking free of mediocrity and restoring a culture of self-education through voracious reading. We invite individuals to commit to be their best, and we hold each other accountable to progressing toward that greatness – never forcing expectations on anyone, but always willing to lend a hand up when they’re ready.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to share this opportunity with others, because I’ve seen it generate significant personal victories for every single member of my team that chooses to participate.

I loved this book. It taught me to be more effective at improving lives through building relationships of love and trust.  I highly recommend it.

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