Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Invisible Hand, Why Not Let It Work?

There was a revolution of thought that sprang forth in 1776 with two great writings that changed the face of the world forever. One we are hearing a great deal about today, once again, The Declaration of Independence,by Thomas Jefferson and edited by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The other, not quite as well known, not as short and succinct, but equally earth shattering in its implementation was "An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," by Adam Smith, most commonly known as "The Wealth of Nations."

In Wealth of Nations, Smith passionately promotes the simple, yet revolutionary idea that individuals are fully capable of setting and regulating prices for their own goods and services. He argued for free trade, yet stood up for the little guy. The Wealth of Nations gave us the very first, and frankly still the best description of the workings of a market economy. Smith's writing is witty, readable, yet a work of genius. It is filled with the significant theories that form the basis for our own capitalist system. His ideas were embraced by his contemporaries across the pond in places like Boston, Braintree, Philadelphia, New York, and throughout Virginia by those with names like Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and others, and became the foundation of our own system of government and economic engine. They revolutionized the way our government, and later many governments and individuals viewed the creation and dispersion of wealth, and continues to do so today.

Smith's core principle can be found in his reference to the "Invisible Hand" of competition. He believed that if left alone, and not interfered with, the invisible hand of competition would correct all wrongs eventually. If a business owner was producing shoddy products, charging too much, and ripping off his customers, it would only be a matter of time in a totally free market society that someone would see an opportunity to go into competition with him and serve those customers a better product, at a more fair price, with integrity and run the crook either out of business, or back onto the straight and narrow way to save his own business from ruin.

This same theory extends to employees as well. If a business owner is mistreating, cheating, and abusing his employees, in a totally free market society, someone else, likely one of his better employees, to compete against the tyrant and will lure away the best and brightest employees to his company, leaving only the poorest employees to the bad employer dooming him to failure.

You may ask, if this theory is so great, why doesn't it always work today? The biggest problem with "The Invisible Hand" is that it has very rarely been tried without restraints and without intervention and manipulation. Governments are constantly stepping in with regulations, rules, and programs of all kinds to manipulate the system to try to make it "fairer" less dog eat dog, whatever. What it does is muddy the water and won't allow the competition to actually do it's job of shifting the business and wealth from the weak, or bad company to the strong and or good company. Government wants to level the playing field, by doing so, you don't get the best, you promote mediocrity and keep the weak alive.

Corporations are often somewhat Socialistic as well, they too try to level the playing field, make it safe and protect those who are not strong enough to survive on their own at the expense of those who could be even better if their wings were not continually clipped for the "greater good."

We as a society are so focused on protecting the weaker from failing that we hold down the strong from reaching the levels of success they could. Prince Charles in one of his most lucid moments once commented on the state of economic affairs in England before Margaret Thatcher employed Reagan's supply side economics, that "England became so enamored with the poor and downtrodden, that all of England became poor and downtrodden."

The only time in history where these principle were actually allowed to work was during the time of the great Robber Barons. History has tried to paint them as evil capitalists and selfish megalomaniacs. However, if you truly study the history of the times, those impressions we have been fed don't fit the reality nearly as well. To socialize America, progressives like Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt had to demonize the tycoons, but it was those same tycoons who created the explosive growth and innovations that made the richest nation on earth for all to be attained. It was the unrestrained freedom they enjoyed that changed the world through better and cheaper steel, transportation, fuel, and more, and in some cases financially carried America through some rough spots.

If you want to see another economic explosion unlike anything in any of our lifetimes, take government's and corporation's feet off the brakes, release the creative juices of our entrepreneurs and let them dream their dreams, and chase them without roadblocks. You would see more new innovations, more growth, more success, and more wealth, not just for a few, but for our nation. In other words, let's let Adam Smith's ideas truly release The Wealth of Nations!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Has Your Cheese Moved?

These are the times that try men's souls. For the first time in many lives people are dealing with real challenges, personal, financial, and career battles. We all grew up listing to our parents or grandparents tell us we didn't know what it was like for them as they navigated through the Great Depression. We would often make fun of the conservative habits that our grand parents continued, washing and reusing "disposable" products etc.

Many folks today are now learning first hand the realities our grandparents knew, or at least a pretty good taste of it. If we gauge unemployment numbers using the same formula we use today since changed during the Clinton Administration, we would see that around 17% of Americans are now unemployed. Who knows how many would fall into underemployed as well.

One of the hardest hit industries, and the one that first took the blunt of this economic tsunami is the housing industry, specifically the new home construction industry and in its wake all of those surrounding industries that supported it, and were supported by it. Those like developers, lumber, flooring, plumbing, drywall, cabinets, lenders, advertisers, printers,and dozens of others, all have faced the same hits. With each leaving hundreds of qualified, talented, hard working employees and business owners cast out in the wake.

When things like this happen, many find it difficult to come to terms with the reality of their world. That they can send out all the resumes they can print without getting a call if their position is simply not needed today.

In 1991 I was interviewing a gentleman for a position with a company I was building. I met him at his home at Geist Reservoir, a beautiful lakes side home, with two Mercedes sitting in the driveway, each with for sale signs. We sat at his breakfast table as we talked. He told me that he was the National sales manager for a high tech company that sold their service of testing microchips. His company was falling apart around him, he had gone from 140 sales people reporting to him down to 12, with his income dropping accordingly. He had his resume out to every competitor he could trying to find an escape hatch. He blamed the economy on George H.W. Bush, I simply asked, is the industry not making the devices that use these microchips? His response will forever burn into my memory. "No, they are making more and more all the time. It is just that where they used to use 10-15 microchips on a board, now technology has increased where one can do what all of them could before, and many of these self-test." All I could think was, did he hear what he just said? He just explained why his resumes were falling on deaf ears, he worked for the very best buggy whip manufacturer in his industry, but buggy whips they were.

The problem that gentleman had, and so many of us find, is we get emotionally involved and can't see the truth that is right in front of us. The book "Who Moved Your Cheese" points this out, and the solution. We have to come to grips emotionally first, then realized we may have to reinvent ourselves to move to our next adventure.

People as a species hate change, we are creatures of habit, we want to stay in our comfort zone and when it is taken away many freeze in an emotional panic like deer in headlights.

One of my favorite economists, Paul Pilzer, speaks of the ever present and ever more rapid pace of change in our society and economy today. He points to the historic ages were named for their dominant technology of their time. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Manufacturing Age, and now Information Age. Until recently it moved slowly, most people were born, lived, and died in one age, under one dominant technology. However, since the 80's when Reagan gave tax incentives for companies to retool and reinvest in themselves creating the desktop computer explosion starting at work, and then as people used them at work bought them for home things have been happening at an ever faster pace. Now entire industries come and go in just a handful of years, like our friend at Geist.

Pilzer points to how in 1930 there were 30 million American farmers barely raising enough food for American. By 1980 with increased technology in agriculture sciences there were only 3 million farmers raising such a surplus they were being paid by the government not to plant crops to cut down on oversupplies. This worked because many farmers got old and retired, and their kids, seeing no future in farming, went to town to get jobs. Many of them ended up in the Rust Belt making carberators for cars where in 1980 in Indiana and Michigan 250,000 people were employed doing so. By 1985 there were none doing so because fuel injection was invented. Many of those displaced workers went to work in Indiana and Pennsylvania stamping out vinyl records. In fact 1989 was the biggest selling year in history of vinyl records, but by 1990 those jobs disappeared due to the invention of Compact Discs.

Pilzer tries to teach us that the old idea of learning to be the best, and most expert of anyone in any job or industry is not the way to succeed in today's fast pace change. Today, we must learn to be able to learn new technology and techniques quickly, it is the quick and the dead today. We must embrace change or be swallowed up by it.

With that said, I am working with Ron Weaver from Tampa, who has started a resource program for those displaced by the economic tsunami of the building industry. His program is called Real Estate Lives. They are a reaching out to those who have been damaged, whose careers have hit the rocky shore, and need help getting back in the game. It is for those who have successfully navigated through the storm but are still dealing with reduced incomes, and the frustrations that come with that. They offer support for the spouses as well. I believe that this can be a very positive group to offer all of those in Greater Indianapolis Area from all types of jobs that supported the new home industry. We want to reach out to sales people, construction workers, managers, drafting, you name it, we want you.

Please if this touches your heart, give me a call, or email, let's talk about how to get our team together to start offering support. Mr. Weaver suggested that I target retired stars from the industry who want to reach out and help, people who have been through it and have navigated to a successful new venture, those who have recently been cast aside and are going crazy at home who would love to have something to do while they are looking for something new, and those who have been out for a long time and have given up looking. Those last group he said often find having something to get excited about and working to help others creates in them a new fire that often finds them getting a job again quickly.

If you are interested, don't worry about not knowing how you can help, we can figure that out. Let's make a difference together!!!!

Call me Jim Morgan 317-574-6659 or email me at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Can You Make Your Business And You Stand Out, and Stand Apart?

If your business is one where attracting talented people to join your team to succeed, how do you make it stand out and stand apart from the crowd?

Business owners see their companies, their offices, and their opportunities through their own eyes. How do those who already work with you see them? What’s more, how do those who you would like to join your firm see them?

Today, let’s explore together our own visions of what makes a great opportunity, and let’s look at what we believe our current team, and future team members want to see. Then let’s look at what makes something stand out, or stand apart from our competitors. Let’s look for, and discuss, just what is that magic bullet that everyone is always looking for might be.

Let's play in my world in Real Estate, how would you describe the ideal Real Estate Office? When you are reading this, just change out what better fits your own industry for these questions.

What would it have? What would it look like? How would it work? What would the personality be? What would the culture be?

If you could wave a magic wand and have anything you would love to have at your office, in your business, what would it be? Why? What would that mean to you? To your agents? To your recruiting?

• Describe your ideal Real Estate office.
• Where would it be?
• How would it look?
• What would it be like?
• What would the corporate culture be?
• What would it look like?
• What features would it have?
• How would these features benefit your agents?
• How would they entice other agents to want to join you?
• What do you like best about your current office? Why?
• What do you like least? Why?
• What would be the first thing you would change if you could? Why?
• How would your agents answer these questions? Why?
• Have you ever asked them?

Now, looking at all of the things about your ideal office, how do you stack up? How does your competition?

What separates you? What is special about your office, your business that makes you stand out over your competition? Why? Can you agents pick this out? Can your potential recruits see it, or feel it? Does the market place know it? If not, is it really there?

What is that magic bullet? If you can do this change, or add that feature, or make this available, will that magically make your company stand apart, and stand out?

Too often we find ourselves treating the symptoms, and not the cause. Let’s look at what actually brings magic into the office. It isn’t any one feature or benefit; in fact no feature has a benefit if there is not first a diagnosed need that it fills.

The magic is found in this question, “Are you working your business, or chasing your dream?” If you are only working your business, there is no passion in it, just the daily grind, and the daily rut, focused on the problems that pop up daily. There is no inspiration, no passion, and no burning desire, without that; there is nothing to draw the right people to you and your company.

People follow passion; they see your dream and just want to be part of it. They may not articulate it, but they simply feel something is happening and don’t want to miss out. You become a magnet for others who want to be excited about chasing their own dreams. When you create that atmosphere of success, that air of expectancy, it creates a buzz; it creates a culture where people want to be a part of it. It is easier to find 100 people who want to run with you toward a dream than it is to drag one who doesn’t want to go.

When it comes to not reaching your goals the problem is not the problem, never has been, and never will be.

What do I mean? What I mean is that we like to find something, or someone, to blame when we miss our goals. Often we choose not to set goals because too often we have been disappointed by not reaching them in past attempts. So, those "obstacles" we want to believe are our "problems" that keep us from reaching our objectives. Are they really the problem or are they excuses? Or is there something else that is the true "problem" that we have never before identified, to they seem to be the problem?

The truth is that those things can't possibly be the true problem. If they were there would never be anyone who has accomplished similar goals with similar situations. We may say "I'm too young, or too old, too educated, or not educated enough, too this or too that." It might be "If I had more money, more supportive parents, a better spouse, better health", you name it there are at least as many excuses as there are people. So if others have accomplished such goals and dreams with such obstacles, how can those obstacles actually be "the problem?"

It was explained to me in this way, let's say we're sitting at a diner and we take a salt shaker and a sugar dispenser and separate them with a napkin holder, (think old school stuff.) Now say you are the salt shaker and your dream or goal is the sugar dispenser but you are too short to see it over the napkin holder, if you can't see it, how can you focus on it?

What I am saying is that your dream isn't big enough to keep you focused on it. You need to find something that moves you, something that excites you, and makes your passion come alive. What you need is a big enough dream or goal to be able to "see" it over the obstacles. Your focus needs to be on that dream, and not on the obstacles or problems. They are always going to be there, but what you focus on, you will get more of. If the dream is big enough, the facts simply don't matter.

Consider this, if you are standing at one end of an auditorium full of tables, chairs, and other obstacles, and your goal was a flag at the other end, and all the lights are out, but there is a spot shining on the flag. If you just keep focused on that flag and walk toward it you will run into tables, and chairs, step on conference attendees, maybe even fall down. However, if you never take your eyes off that flag you know that you will reach it. How many times have you heard of stories of people climbing mountains who came just short of the peak, or swimmers swimming the English Channel, because they "couldn't go on" when fog set in? They lost sight of their goal or dream and couldn't go further.

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways," and what does that mean? "You can't hold two diverse and opposing thoughts on any subject at the same time." In other words, you can't as a sales person talk to your clients about how this is the greatest product, home, neighborhood, widget, whatever in the world, and then talk to your co-workers, spouse, friends, and bartender, whoever what a dog it is. You can't hold two opinions at the same time. If you try, and many do, then you are double minded, and unstable, and your clients will instinctively know it. They feel it at a subconscious level; it is if they smell it on you.

My belief has long been that sales is nothing but the transference of emotions. I believe a sale is made in every meeting; either they are sold to believe about your product, or business, just as you do, or you were sold to believe their reason for not buying, or joining just as they do.

Do you want your prospect to believe the same way about your product or business as you do? Do you? I hope so, if not maybe the next sale you need to make is to you, or find something else to do. Unless you have the emotional disconnect of a con-man, which I hope you don't, what you really believe is what will be the guiding force in each transaction.

Let’s look at your Dream Office, your Dream Business once again. What would your Dream office or business look like? What would make you excited again, what would make your juices flow, your passions burn, where you find it hard to sleep and not by worry, but by excitement? What is it that truly excites you, how would you dream your business to be? Keep in mind, spiritually the Bible says we were created in God's own image. Those are powerful words, if we were formed in God's image, who is God? He is a Creator, so wouldn't that make us creators? How did God Create? He spoke the world into existence, so will you.

People will follow you, when you are following your passion. There is no practice that is a magic bullet; no one is going to get fired up over a new feature that you are offering in your office, if you are not passionate about it. You have to be the thermostat for your business, not a thermometer; you need to set the temperature not just report it.

The movie Field of Dreams said “If you build it they will come.” I believe that if you Believe it, and are sold yourself, and are chasing your dream passionately, they will come.

Remember, The Problem isn't the Problem. The Problem is that you are focusing on the obstacles not the dream. Focus on your Dreams!