First Steps To MLM Success

Let’s face it, most network marketers don’t make it. Why? Because they are like search lights out there prospecting in their boats in stormy seas, trying to save people from financial ruin one person at a time. We teach you how to do it differently. We teach you how to become a Lighthouse Marketer, attracting people into your business.

OK, here it is. Absolutely free information, real information, First Steps to getting started successfully in your MLM business.

PART I – Find the best company for you.

First, the most important thing is to find a company that is right for you. You have to ask yourself several questions. Does the product stand-alone? If there were no financial opportunity would you still use the product? Do people want it? Will they use? Is it a   unique  product or just a passing fad? Is it consumable? In other words is it a one-time buy or are your customers going to use it up and buy it over and over again? Can you honestly tell people this product has improved your life?

Second, is the company solid? How long have they been around? Are they financially stable? Are they here to stay, and what background and experience to the leaders have? In this business, reputation and honesty can be, should be, everything.

Third, is it affordable to the average person? Let’s face it, there are many great companies out there, but when you have to write a check for $500 to $2000 just to get started, that seriously limits recruiting. People will often put up $35 to $50 for a product and opportunity, but when you start asking for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, that is a

different story entirely. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that some of these companies are not great. I’m just saying that it seriously limits your participating audience. Believe me, I have been there.

Fourth, does the company provide the tools for you to succeed? Is great training provided for free on a regular basis? Are there things like frequent live training calls, replicated websites, affordable account managing tools that provide such services as auto-e-mail responding and lead tracking? Can you build a down line using the Internet and train your new recruits

over the phone and on your company website, or does everything have to be done in person? Believe me, person to person is a great way to do business. It is just not practical any longer in this business. Weekly hotel meetings, home parties, or just going from friends house to friends house with a DVD are things of the past. Not only will you probably not be very successful at your business, but your friends and family will start to avoid you. Take my word for it. Been there.

There are many aspects to success in the MLM business, but first and foremost, find a great company with:

1.Products that are consumable

2.Solid Foundation

3.Affordability to all

4.The Tools to do the job

PART II – Invest in yourself.

Once you find the right company, you need to work on yourself. Get your mind right. The best way to start educating yourself is by reading. Read one chapter a day from a list of recommended self-help or motivational books. One chapter a day isn’t hard to do and it is retained easier than trying to cram in as much as possible. At the end of a year, you will have absorbed a vast amount of knowledge that can be invaluable to your life and to your business.

Be a listener. Make it a point to listen to a successful person for at least 20 minutes a day. It can be a CD, DVD, or a live or recorded training call, any source of information to help further educate you in your marketing venture. Twenty minutes a day is very easy to do. Everyone spends at least that much time driving or riding in a car every day. Put that CD

player to good use.

Every ninety days or so get out and see a live speaker. There are always inspiring speakers appearing somewhere for relatively little money. If you live in a small town where this never happens, make a weekend of it! Take a group or simply a companion and go to the big city, eat some good food, attend the event, and soak it all in. Nothing is quite as inspiring and

motivating as a live event full of successful people sharing their story.

These three things are so very easy to do. They are even easier not to do. Everyday you are either moving forward or falling back. You decide. You have to commit. I have seen so many people get into this business thinking it is going to be easy money. Haven’t we all been to those hotel or dining room meetings where the guy making a million dollars tells everyone how easy it is and how by just sharing this idea with a few friends and family, he became financially independent, and debt free and how he and everyone else there is going to help you do the same thing!

It is easy to see why so many people get into this business, spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, thinking it is a get-rich-quick plan. Why, you would think it is damn near like hitting the lottery! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

Nothing worth having is given to you. That includes your business and your down line. It all falls on you. It is your business. You have to build it. You are responsible for its success or failure. Don’t misunderstand me. It is not difficult. It just takes a determination and effort and a stick-to-it attitude that many people simply do not have or do not realize they need and they soon quit and fall by the wayside when success is not immediate. Think of it like this. Many people spend the majority of their life building a successful business. The bigger and more successful their business becomes, the harder they have to work and more of their time is required. If you will diligently work and market a good MLM product, within a relatively short period of time, you can build a business with a down line that will provide you with a comfortable income for the rest of your life while you put in just a few hours a week. Depending on your perseverance and willingness to work, you can become financially independent with time freedom in a one to five year period. Just seek out the seekers and leave the non-believers to go along their merry way.

There are many good people out there who are willing to help you. You just have to find them. There are also many out there who say they will help you, but in the end, just want to sell you something. Be careful. These companies are like everything else. They range from down right lousy to great. Be wise. Ask questions. If the answers to all your questions are vague or are always answered with another question, run the other way. It’s OK if the other person doesn’t know all the answers as long as they can tell you where to find them. A knowledgeable, helpful up line is invaluable. I know that if I help my team succeed, the rest will take care of itself. Happy marketing!

How to Become a Professional Home Builder – Part I

Over the years I’ve had many of our builder students ask pertinent questions such as what size home do I build; what do I put in it; where do I build it? Looking back it’s easy for me to make these decisions now, but when I first started building in 1975 these were trial and error situations. And my hindsight is crystal clear. It’s very easy for me to look back and see things I wished I had known when I first started building. That’s what you’re going to learn in this article.

You’ll learn the pros and cons of being a speculative or spec builder (as opposed to a contract builder.) If you’re not familiar with those terms, a spec builder is one who will select a site, choose a design, build a home and then sell it to a client. A contract builder is a builder that you hire to build a home for you. By the way, spec building is how I suggest you begin rather than building a home for somebody else. I’ll explain why later.

I’ll begin by showing you how to be one of the best spec builders in your area, even if you’ve never before built a home. I’ll expand this information by discussing points that are unique to spec building. Next I’ll discuss points that are unique to contract building, and points that pertain to both spec and contract building.

A Word Of Caution

I want to stress that when starting your construction business, you must separate your business from your personal life. In the early 70’s I was in real estate commercial sales. I barely survived a major recession. Almost everything I owned was in my name and most of it was repossessed. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have retained that large home, that Mercedes and that airplane.

In the construction industry there are many things that can happen to you, some of which you have absolutely no control over. According to the 2008 Annual Report by the National Center for State Courts, in 2007 Americans filed over 90 million lawsuits, more than a third of which were civil cases. This does not include the volumes of legal disputes that were settled before a lawsuit was ever filed. Based on the sheer number of legal disputes that arise, in and out of court, one could say that most Americans run the risk of being involved in a legal dispute at some point in their lives – for many people, more than once. This is especially true for those who work in professions with high lawsuit vulnerability such as doctors, dentists and, yes, especially builders! You should invest in hiring professionals to help you protect your assets. It’s easier than you may realize. This is one time you can’t procrastinate. I can tell you some great horror stories but I don’t want to scare you this early in the game. Anyway, don’t live in fear of what might happen. You only lose if you don’t play.

I. Speculative Building

A. How To Be One Of The Best Spec Builders In Your Area

Before you buy a lot, before you buy any house plans, the first thing I want you to do is put together your success team. I call this the Henry Ford philosophy. If you read about Henry Ford, you’d learn that some people considered him to be illiterate. He once sued a Chicago newspaper that wrote an article claiming he was illiterate. In the lawsuit, Henry Ford emphasized that he didn’t need to know everything about everything because he hired experts to assist him in all that he wanted to do. This left his mind free and clear to do all the things that he really knew how to do. Well, I’ve learned from that philosophy myself over the years. I realize there is not enough time in this life to do everything. I now hire experts to assist me in my decision-making, and it has been a positive factor in my success building homes.

Your success team should include the following:

1. Real Estate Agent

2. Landscape Architect

3. Artist/Architect

4. Kitchen/Bath Designer

5. Interior Designer

6. Lighting Designer

I’ll discuss each of these team members in detail as we go through the course. Don’t be concerned. When you start out, you don’t need the best. These team members are more affordable than you could possibly imagine.

B. Obtaining Your First Loan

Let me tell you a story. And the further you get away from this story, the harder it’s going to be to borrow money to get started.

Let’s assume that you’re gainfully employed. If you’re not employed, but instead are self-employed, then you have to have a high credit score or produce tax returns for the past three years to qualify for the loan. If you currently rent a home or apartment and you want to build a home for yourself, you’re a prime candidate to borrow money to build a home – for yourself. So, you get the money. You build a home. You put it on the market during construction. You sell it. You go to the bank. You borrow money under the same premise. You get the money. You build a home. Put it up for sale. Sell it. Do it over and over again and pretty soon you walk into the bank and the banker looks at you and says, gosh, you should become a home builder. And you are.

Now, that’s the easiest way to get started. Most every builder I know got started in the industry this way. This method will also provide you with the least risk. Why? Because if you don’t sell the home you’ll simply move into it. In turn, this will make it easier for you to sell because a home that is furnished will normally sell faster than an unfurnished home. You’ll eventually sell it and can start the process again. The bad news is that you may be moving a lot. I remember one couple that wanted to own a home free and clear. They used this method on five homes, plowing their profit back into each home. Their sixth home was constructed completely from cash. They owned it free and clear and got out of the construction business. They simply wanted to do what it took to own their home free and clear.

The further you get away from the above scenario, the harder it is to get the initial loan when you’re just getting started.

For example, let’s say that you currently own a home and you want to borrow money to build another home for yourself. A banker will generally be negative. They tend to look at the downside and might comment something like this. “That sounds real good but you currently own a home. What are you going to do with your current home?” Your response is, “I’ll put it up for sale during the construction of this new home and then I’ll sell it.” The banker comments, “That sounds pretty good, but what if you don’t sell your current home?” The banker generally looks at the downside – that is you’re going to be stuck with two house payments. If you’re able to show you can afford two house payments, you may very well get the money.

You always have to have a successful conclusion to your story you tell the banker. Never look at the banker and say, “Well gosh; I’m only borrowing 70% of the appraised value. If the bank had to repossess the home the bank would have a bargain. The bank could sell the home, and make a good return on its investment.” Never use this kind of logic on a banker. Bankers don’t want to be in the homeowner business. Never imply or even think in your mind this will happen.

If you’re not gainfully employed or you have a problem with your credit or you have no cash, your next best method is to find an investor that will joint venture a project with you. I’ve done this on many large projects when I didn’t have the finances to afford it myself. What I normally did was to structure the investment so that the joint venture partner would put up very little or no money. Investors really like that! What I needed was their strong financial statement. Understand, there are many investors, such as medical doctors, who have tremendous financial statements but they have very little cash. So if you can structure the investment so that it requires very little or no cash, it becomes a relatively easy investment to sell. When I’ve worked with a joint venture partner, after selling the investment, the investor would be repaid any cash he had invested, plus a fair interest rate that was agreed upon up front. All remaining profits would be split 50% to me and 50% to the investor. Normally in a situation like this, the investor would let me deduct any out-of-pocket expenses but, understandably, they would not let me take any salary.

You would not believe some of the wild, crazy, ridiculous investments requiring large amounts of cash I’ve seen these people put money into. Many of them have the same luck in the stock market that I have. These people should feel blessed that you came into their lives with a viable real estate investment. I’ve found these people by talking to friends, going to investment seminars and running ads in the paper.

Dim Light in the Bar

(San Francisco, October, 1968)

When I walked through the door of the bar, the bartender saw me right away, looked over at me, smiled, reached for a wet glass, wiped it dry with the white towel he had in his hands.

“I’ll take a beer,” I said.

“Tap or bottle?” he asked.

“Tap’s fine,” I responded with a slight grin to smile, put a dollar on the counter, and he gave me back fifty-cents, drew the beer from the tap into the glass he just cleaned, and gave it to me.

“What’s up? The barkeep asked me, knowing I was a little drunk already, he didn’t expect an answer, and he just looked everywhichway as if not to bother me, as I lit a cigarette, and took a gulp of beer, near, simultaneously.

“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked him, after I caught my breath from the gulp and drag off the cigarette.

“No, thanks, the owner gets mad if I drink while on duty, even if the sale is to his credit.”

“Where am I anyways?” I asked the bartender, “what street is this, I got walking about; I live over on Dolores Street, hitting the bars tonight, and ended up here?”

“Mission, you’re on Mission Street, does it ring a bell,” then he hesitated looked at me some, strangely, added, “does it really matter?”

“No,” I said to bartender, putting my glass down, and nodding my head for a refill.

“Tap beer, right?” he commented, as if to make sure I hadn’t changed to bottle beer.

“The same,” I said, with that side grin and half smile.

“Any whores for sale tonight here?” I asked bluntly.

“Listen,” he said “we don’t run that kind of place here, and if you’re the law, get on out of here!”

“I just asked-no problem, I’m not the law, just need some company.”

“Well, okay, but get off that whore stuff,” said the barkeep.

“Come on, Joe,” said a large real whitish middle aged woman, “perhaps I can help the young stud out,” and the bartender laughed, and the man sitting by where the large woman was, laughed.

“What the hells so funny,” I said.

“You,” said the woman called Colleen, “you look so drunk you couldn’t keep it up, if you had someone in the sack-anyhow!”

“Are you sure about that?” I asked.

“Pretty sure,” she said, looking over at the man she was sitting by, “do you think I should?” she asked him.

“Get the money first,” he said, and the big whore laughed again. She was big, real big, and heavy, broad shoulders, but had a nice tone to her rough voice, she had a colorful dress on, must have weighed all of two-hundred pounds, and about my height, not a beastly fat, just a saggy kind of overweight-ness to her. Dirty dishwater blond hair, short, and looked more on the order of Gertrude Stein. She now stood next to me by the bar; she put her hand on my thigh, said with a trying smile “Well?…are we or aren’t we?”

The bartender turned and said to Colleen’s friend, “He’s too drunk to get it up!” and they laughed, and as Colleen was trying now to make her deal, they just kept on laughing.

“How old are you, sunny?” she asked.

“Twenty-one a week ago,” I said, “want to see my ID?” And she chuckled, “No, I believe you,” she said-with a doubtful ‘Huh!’ to her voice. And the more I looked at her, the uglier she got, and now she looked as large to me as a haystack, climbing up on her would be a challenge indeed, if not a feat.

“That’s all right,” she said, “if you can’t do it, fine with me, but if you want to, let’s get going, twenty-five dollars.”

“I only got fifteen,” I said.

“Sure,” she said, “you’ll never last anyhow. I have an apartment across the street we can do it there.”

As we walked out of the bar to cross the street she told her boyfriend, “I’ll be right back, he’s no threat, don’t need you outside the door, just have another beer, I’ll be back in fifteen.”

We went to her apartment, and I staggered about and fell on the bed, she had to unbutton my belt buckle, and she tried everything to get me going.”

“Listen,” she said, “I told Hank I’d be back in fifteen, it’s been twenty minutes and you aren’t even hard, I’m not staying here all night long trying to get you to come.”

“Oh, shut up,” I said, I had never been with such a beastly looking woman before, heavy as she was, it was unnerving. She moved just like a whale, slow and when she moved she crunched everything so tightly together it was hard to breathe, although she was respectful.

Hank knocked on the door, “Everything all right in there?” He asked, but not in a threatening or worried voice, perhaps more on the order of: is he still alive.

“Oh this kid just can’t get going,” she cried.

“I thought so,” he said, “give him five more minutes, then just take his fifteen, and let’s get on with the night’s drinking.”

“You heard him,” she mumbled to me.

She was more than most women would ever be, I say it because she played the tough gal, happily played her role in life with a smile, even at the ugliest moment, she had a pretty smile, true it was that she was large, but she wasn’t dead, although flat with emotion for me and that mattered, and my drunkenness mattered, but she was really friendly. But boy oh boy was she large and wide and all that kind of stuff, and when I left, she smile and said, “You know where I’m at-baby!”

The Manager As Gardener

I once worked with a company that had a   unique  way of dealing with people who were not producing in their job. Sometimes it was a lack of discipline; sometimes the person was a constant troublemaker; sometimes the skill needed to do the job just was not there.

The company’s  unique  way to deal with these situations was to create a faux department where these non-performers and troublemakers were placed. (Inside the company, the other members called the department “The Rubber Room!”) When placed in this “department” there was not any expectation these people would contribute much to the company. The company had a strong aversion to termination, so this department was the last stop as long as the person remained with the company.

Instead of trying further exercises of development, or instead of terminating the person when they had done all they could to help the person perform better, they gave these people a broom and some dust rags and told them their job was to “clean.” Interestingly, the company had a formal maintenance department that had the assigned responsibility for cleaning.

Think about the consequences of this. It not only cost the company money for which they got little return, but the individual humans involved were allowed to stagnate and never develop whatever potential they had.

Managing and developing the performance of direct reports is one of the principal responsibilities of a manager or supervisor. Yet, with the pressure of “getting the work done” on a daily basis, meeting other deadlines, extra work that comes along, and a myriad of other distracting issues, managing and developing direct reports often falls through the cracks. And no, we are not just talking about doing a performance appraisal once or twice a year. We are talking about on the job support and development on a regular basis throughout the year.

Think of a manager as a gardener with regard to the people he or she leads. The gardener prepares the soil, acquires and plants the seed, supports and nurtures the seedlings as they begin to grow, cultivates the plants, weeds the garden when it needs it, and finally is rewarded with the harvest of produce.

Preparing the Soil

It is not worthwhile to put significant time and effort in recruiting a new working member unless the work environment is positive to support the new member.

Questions to ask: What is the manager’s attitude about people? Does there seem to be good cooperation between the manager and working members already in the department? Do the working members feel supported and challenged to grow on an on-going basis? Is overall production in the department at a high level?

Planting

With the environment at the ready and clear expectations about what is sought in the new member, recruitment is really the effort of selecting the best prospect to be planted. In other words we don’t plant seeds for corn when we are really trying to raise beans. Questions to ask: Is the job description clear and are performance expectations explicit about outcomes? What are the skills and abilities that the new member should possess? Do we know the history of how this person has performed the necessary tasks of this kind of job in the past? Is it clear what kind of support this person will need to survive?

Support

The gardener does not walk away once the planting is complete and hope everything will come out OK. This is a critical time and the manager as gardener realizes that despite all the other stuff requiring attention, the new plant needs support. Questions to ask: Are there frequent meetings early on with the new member to let him or her know how he or she is doing? Does the member have the tools and material available to do the job? Are the other members of the department available and willing to help the new member?

Cultivation

When the plant interacts with the soil, water and environment in order to grow, the gardener needs to intervene by cultivating. Is the soil loose so the new plant’s roots can grow? Is nourishment available through fertilizer? Does the new plant need the support of a stake or fence as it grows? Questions to ask: In addition to ongoing performance assessment, what dos the manager offer? Are regular coaching and mentoring part of the development process? What about formal training offerings the company may provide? Is there assessment of the person’s potential for the long term? What can be done additionally to cultivate this person so production is as full as possible?

Weeding

A garden is always threatened by weeds. Removal of the weeds is necessary for the plant to thrive and grow. Questions to ask: Does the manager realize that by not weeding, the other members of the department are affected in their growth and productivity? Is the manager willing to terminate a member after sufficient coaching and support has been offered? Does the manager realize that if chronic poor performance or disciplinary problems are not tended to, the other members in the department begin to think “Why do I need to be disciplined or perform satisfactorily in my work?”

Harvest

In the best of circumstances, the harvest may not yield the highest amount of “produce” possible in the garden. Nevertheless, experience shows that the overall productive garden requires constant attention to the details of the process outlined above. If the manager thinks and acts like the gardener, he or she will enjoy a productive work group. The productive work group will enjoy their work more because they know their manager cares about and supports their growth and development. It is a well planned interactive process that doesn’t just happen by chance.

Assisi by Norman MacCaig – Literature Review

A poem which explores an important theme is Assisi by Norman MacCaig. The reader is drawn into an uncomfortable tableau where the themes of hypocrisy and corruption inherent in the affectation of religious piety are brought into sharp relief. Written in the poetic form of free verse, the poet sidesteps the traditional form of rhyme and rhythm in an attempt to develop this idea of corruption. Through careful word choice and stark imagery the poet presents a vivid depiction of both the duality of man and the societal dichotomy of wealth and poverty.

The poet immediately introduces this separation through the title. Ambiguously referring to either the city of Assisi or St. Francis of Assisi, the title Assisi alludes to both. The city of Assisi is known to be ornate and grandiose; home of magnificent architecture and associated with great wealth. In direct contrast, St Francis of Assisi dedicated his life to the poor and gave up his aristocratic riches for a monastic life, symbolising great poverty. Hence, the one-word title, before even being aware of the situation of the poem, is skilfully used by MacCaig to introduce the theme of hypocrisy.

This theme, together with corruption in the modern Church, is developed throughout the poem. Assisiis the story of a deformed dwarf who sits outside the Church of St. Francis. Whilst a priest conducts a guided tour inside, the dwarf sits begging on the stairs outside: a subtle reference to the social divide. Through the personification of these characters, MacCaig develops the main themes.

In the first stanza, MacCaig introduces the dwarf as a pitiful figure by describing his hands as being ‘on backwards’. Both literally and metaphorically portraying the dwarf’s uselessness, the subsequent line ‘sat slumped like a half-filled sack’ develops this idea. Suggesting a lack of rigidity, the simile invokes an image of the dwarf being misshapen and deformed, whilst sibilance is used by MacCaig to heighten the feeling of disconcertion in the reader.

The piteous image of the dwarf is expanded in the lines ‘tiny twisted legs from which/Sawdust might run’. In fact, in these two lines alone, MacCaig employs a myriad of techniques to develop the image of the dwarf’s worthlessness: lexical choice of ‘twisted’, which not only suggests pain and functional ineptitude but has connotations of inversion and corruption, which also intimates to the central theme of the poem; the use of consonance on the hard ‘t’, used to promote an emotional response of unease; and enjambment on ‘Sawdust’, highlighting his objectification of the dwarf. The metaphor is extended from the previous line and is intended to dehumanise the dwarf, characterising him as an insentient article, and stripping him of human quality.

A dry, sarcastic tone is adopted by MacCaig in the next line. He describes the ‘three tiers of churches built” to show how elaborate the Church is and to highlight the irony of such a pitiful creature being in such a grandiose setting. We are also told that the church is built “In honour of St. Francis”. St Francis was a humble man, who would not have cared for opulent cathedrals being built in his name. He surrendered such riches to help people like the dwarf, therefore the fact that he sits outside hungry and destitute is deeply ironic. Other techniques are employed by the poet to emphasise this. For example, the enjambement of this line highlights the large scale of the building. Similarly, MacCaig changes the expected syntax of the last line of this stanza “Of not being dead yet” to emphasize the irony. This inversion also reflects inequality and injustice, whilst simultaneously perpetuating a disconcerting tone.

In the second stanza, we are introduced to the priest who is conducting a guided tour of Giotto’s frescoes inside the church. This is poignant because it illustrates the corruption prevalent in the Church. The frescoes were originally commissioned to teach the poor the stories from the Bible. In Assisi, they are being used as a source for capital gain, and not for spiritual development, as was their original purpose. The priest’s role has been diverted from that of a spiritual guide, to that of a tour guide and MacCaig uses a self-deprecating tone in this stanza to underline the palpable hypocrisy. He also reveals his contempt for a social duality; that great riches and great poverty often exists side by side. This is evident from the lines “… I understood/The explanation and/The cleverness”. Enjambement is used by MacCaig to great effect here, showing his contempt for the priest’s neglect, and by extension, society’s neglect.

In the final stanza, MacCaig uses other techniques to explore the main themes. Firstly, he uses an extended metaphor the priest as a farmer. He describes a “rush” of tourists “clucking contentedly”. The word “rush” connotes an absence of deliberation, suggesting that the tourists are unaware of the irony of the situation. The use of the alliteration and onomatopoeia alludes to the tourists being simple-minded and unthinking, like chickens. The metaphor is extended by describing the tourists as “fluttering”, conjuring an image of them blindly following the priest, ignorant of any hypocrisy. Another technique used by MacCaig to reflect the main themes is also used here: “… as he scattered the grain of the word”. This corruption of a phrase used in the Bible is deliberately intended to echo corruption of the Church’s values. It also reflects that, in the poet’s opinion, the priest has forgotten his spiritual responsibilities and the tone is rather disparaging.

In the close of the poem, MacCaig further displays his revulsion and a sense of injustice. He tells us “it was they who had passed/The ruined temple outside”. The word “they” conveys an accusatory tone. The group had failed to notice the dwarf’s suffering, too absorbed and shallow to realise how hypocritical they were being: it is here we learn that the poet is repulsed by this situation. The juxtaposition of “ruined temple” conveys a powerful message. The word “ruined” symbolises the dwarf’s broken physical exterior, whilst in contrast, the word “temple” symbolises the dwarf’s perfect and sacred interior i.e. his humanity.

The imagery of the dwarf in this last stanza is particularly poignant and successfully unites the poem’s main themes. MacCaig, quite brutally, further describes the dwarf’s physical appearance: “… whose eyes/Wept pus, whose back was higher/Than his head, whose lopsided mouth… “). This harsh depiction of the dwarf is employed to create a particular effect: to shock the reader into feeling pity; in fact, we are being defied to withhold it. In the final lines of the poem, MacCaig reclaims the dwarfs humanity by revealing his inner beauty. The simile “… voice as sweet/As a child’s when she speaks to her mother/Or a bird’s when it spoke to St Francis” very clearly displays the purity and innocence of the dwarf. The tone also represents the sheer injustice and unnecessary pain that is obviously a big part of the dwarf’s life. Why should his suffering go unnoticed?

Through a plethora of techniques, MacCaig successfully engages our sympathy and through exploration themes such as corruption and hypocrisy, we are forced to question what it means to be human. The duality of man unfolds through both characters. The priest may be a man who serves God, but the role he plays serves only capitalism. The dwarf, who is broken, is also whole – deformed to the world, but perfect to God. Through the structure of the poem we observe these two lives as separate, yet MacCaig communicates absolute synonymy. Thus we have Assisi: a poem of conscience.

TVI Express – The Ultimate Get-Rich-Quick Deal?

In today’s world of job losses and high unemployment there are literally millions of people scouring the Internet every day trying to find ways to make some money. From work-at-home businesses to MLM companies, franchises to direct selling opportunities and, inevitably, the get-rich-quick deals. One of the problems we face is how do we sort through the thousands of options out there and how do we sort out the good from the bad? The good news about the Internet is it allows us to do instant research at the click of a mouse. The bad news is it allows anyone to put anything online both good and bad at the click of a mouse.

So let me set the scene. We discover a link on our Google search that states, “Invest only $250 one-time and reap the rewards of $10,000 income month after month”. Do we click on that link? I am not sure if any research has been done on the percentage of people that have clicked on such links but my educated guess would put it close to 100%! The question I would ask is why do we take a look? We all understand there is no such thing as something for nothing, right? Or have we been brainwashed by society with stories of lottery winners and instant millionaire TV shows that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance to get-rich-quick.

Is there such a thing as a “legitimate get-rich-quick opportunity”? After the old cash pyramids were outlawed several years ago, some were enhanced with “product offerings” which attempted to legitimize them again. The regulators moved in and defined in more detail what, in their eyes, was legitimate or not. The general rule of thumb that has emerged is that at least 50% of any MLM company’s revenue has to come from real product sales. But every so often a company comes along that appears to challenge the authorities. One of those companies is TVI Express.

TVI Express (Travel Ventures International) is in the travel business. This is a service industry that is the biggest single industry segment on the planet, is truly global and has a reported sales volume of $7 trillion. It is an industry that has been revolutionized by the Internet with more than 80% of all sales being transacted online. Anyone seen a brick-and-mortar travel agency recently? Several companies have entered this space with an MLM concept but none like TVI Express.

The TVI Express business model is based solely on building a large organization and rewarding their independent reps that do so. The signup fee is about $275 and the model calls for you to just “recruit two, who recruits two”. For doing that the compensation plan is reported to get you back your original investment “in a couple of weeks” and to then start paying you $10,000 on a regular basis “after 30-90 days” as you cycle through the system and as people join under you. I believe there is enough solid evidence on the Internet that proves these claims to be true and that some people have received these payouts.

There is no mention in the compensation plan of commissions being paid on product sales, which for a lot of people is a red flag taking into account the aforementioned history with the authorities (in the USA). But TVI Express is not a US based company and is reportedly headquartered in the UK. This seems to be in doubt as nobody can be reached at the telephone number published on their website. They are processing all of their transactions through an international exchange account and have banking facilities on the island of Cyprus in Greece. No credit cards. It is also not quite clear who owns TVI and names of their management team are nowhere to be found.

Having said that, TVI Express seems to have the makings of a very sophisticated get-rich-quick opportunity. It is still in its infancy, having started first in India and China at the beginning of 2009 and arriving in the US just a couple of months ago. As it will not be easy for any authority to tackle the issue of TVI’s legitimacy, we can expect them to have a fair amount of time to continue operations. The web presentations are professional and the travel story sexy. They also appear to have some incredible bonus opportunities for those that build large organizations. How about winning a luxury car outright? Then you can advance to win beautiful villas in dream locations and top that off by being presented with a luxury yacht or private jet!

Are these fantasies or reality? After studying the compensation plan, and if the owners are not greedy, TVI Express will be able to afford these types of rewards. Their global presence will also fuel their expansion as they start to publicize some of their success stories and people start to chase their dream. Is it something you should get involved with? That is for you to decide but if you can afford to risk $275 for the chance to live like a millionaire, why not. After all, most people spend more than that on lottery tickets and coffee at Starbucks every year!

The Art of Leadership, a Review

Ghanaian author, Evangelist Dr. Dag Heward-Mills, has written other books grouped into seven series. Below is a list of these series with their corresponding books in parentheses: Loyalty Series (‘Fathers and Loyalty’, ‘Leaders and Loyalty’, ‘Loyalty and Disloyalty’, ‘Those who Accuse you’, ‘Those who forget’, ‘Those who leave you’, ‘Those who pretend’), Church Building Series (‘Church Growth’, ‘Church Planting’, ‘The Mega Church’), Anointing Series (‘Catch the Anointing’, ‘Ministering with Signs and Wonders’, ‘Steps to the Anointing’), Work of Ministry Series (‘How You Can Be in the Perfect Will of God’, ‘Losing, Suffering, Sacrificing’, ‘Dying’, ‘Many are Called’, ‘Proton’, ‘Rules of Church Work’, ‘Rules of Full-Time Ministry’), Pastoral Ministry Series (‘The Art of Leadership’, ‘Transform Your Pastoral Ministry’), Success Series (‘Why Non-Tithing Christians Become Poor and How Tithing Christians Can Become Rich’), Christian Life Series (‘Backsliding’, ‘Daughter, You Can Make It’, ‘Demons and How to Deal with Them’, ‘Model Marriage’, ‘Name It! Claim it! Take it!’, ‘Quiet Time’, ‘Tell Them’).

In one hundred and twenty nine (129) chapters contained in five hundred and twelve pages, Heward-Mills holds the reader spell bound with his fluid, time tested physical and spiritual principles that would transform the tyro into the dynamic leader. The title, ‘Art of Leadership’, implies that the concept must be learned and the book is a very useful guide.

The issue of reading is given considerable and deliberate treatment in the book. This is really as a result of the relative ignorance of spiritual leaders in this information age. A considerable number of church leaders erroneously believe that all they need to do is to widely open their mouths and God would readily fill them. Others say that there is no need for teachers since the Holy Ghost teaches everyone. Though unjustified, this is clearly among the reasons why ministers of the Gospel are normally not treated with respect because there is much to learn.

In chapter 24, he encourages every potential leader to spend any amount of money and time to get a book since the information could well make a difference in one’s life. He not only passionately argues that reading is one of the most essential habits of every leader but warns that “if you do not read, please do not try to lead anyone” (p.122) as ignorance is mankind’s greatest enemies. Reading is therefore essential for leadership since, among other reasons, it leads to growth (intellectual and spiritual), improves one’s vocabulary and develops one’s leadership abilities. It is therefore evident that there are dangers of choosing to be an ignoramus in this age.

As one builds a personal library, Heward-Mills reminds the reader that “wisdom comes through reading” (p.343) and also makes an interesting radical departure from some traditional but misleading views. Some leaders narrow-mindedly assume that the Bible is the only book that one should read. The author reasonably suggests one should “read books which expand your imagination and frontiers of knowledge” (p. 347). Though some materials are poisonous to the Christian, there are several non-Christian books worth reading.

The importance of training cannot be overemphasized. In addition to investing in buying and reading books related to one’s work, Heward-Mills encourages the reader to actually spend money to be better trained and prepared for the assigned task from God. This reminds one of a very important character included in the text titled ’70 Great Christians’ written by Geoffrey Hanks and published in Fearn, Ross-shire by Christian Focus Publication in 1992. She is Mary Slessor, the Missionary to the Calabar. It is observed that “she realized she would need to improve her education if she was to become a missionary and started to borrow books from the church library. She also joined an evening class for two nights a week.” (Hanks, 1992, p.194).

More than one publisher (Parchment House and Lux Vertbi. BM Ltd.) has been responsible for the production of this book which is a clear display of its importance. The fact that the sixth printing was done in 2008 demonstrates the very high demand of the text and the publication of the second edition in 2011 lends further evidence to this fact.

In the Holy Book, we learn that Jesus and Samuel eventually grew both in wisdom and stature and were favoured by God and man. This underscores the importance of man’s recommendation. The foreword of the book under review was written by a household name in Christianity, Yonggi Cho who is incontrovertibly one of the most successful contemporary Christian leader. This implies that he endorses a considerable portion of the credible information in this timely publication. Furthermore, the inclusion of this West African author, Dag Heward-Mills, in the board of Church Growth International Ministry is a testimony to his relevance.

The text is very easy to read due to the length of each chapter, some as short as a page or two, for example, chapters 3 (The Type of Leadership You Must Avoid), 9 (Maintain Personal Integrity), 11 (Never Use Power Without Wisdom or Wisdom Without Power), 12 (Do Not Be a Lifeless Leader…), 91 (Translate Your Vision into Reality), 129 (Constantly Thinking about the Day of Accountability) etc. Further, the font is large enough for the average reader to clearly decipher. Scripture passages clearly stand out since they are in bold print and, except for verification, passages are not merely referred to but are reproduced to avoid laying the book aside to read from the Bible.

The general presentation of women, however, is not well balanced in the text and would give a first impression that women are not being regarded as important in church leadership. Though the writer appeals to the reader not to be angry with him but to direct such to God, he observed that “in its rawest form, the leadership of a woman is a dangerous thing” (p.34). One would have expected a treatment of some fine qualities of biblical women leaders such as Deborah, Esther etc.

The imprint (an umbrella term that comprises city of publication, publisher and date of publication) is incomplete. The missing link or strand on this chain is the city of publication which is not clearly indicated in the text. This is a very important bibliographic information. Instruction is however given to write to P.O.Box 114, Korle-Bu, Accra, Ghana. One wonders if the city here could be used as the place of publication.

Consideration to add an index and bibliography would further enhance the quality of this invaluable text. An index generally facilitates relatively faster retrieval of information. A bibliography, a descriptive list of reading materials consulted, could be very helpful on such an outstanding publication since many insights were given and several readers would be inspired to make further references. Adding a bibliography, an alphabetical list of the authors names (surname followed by other names) and the respective works cited in the next edition which is anticipated, would be quite helpful.

The above notwithstanding, Dag Heward-Mills’ text is very easy to read due to the length of each chapter, some as short as a page or two, for example, chapters 3 (The Type of Leadership You Must Avoid), 9 (Maintain Personal Integrity), 11 (Never Use Power Without Wisdom or Wisdom Without Power), 12 (Do Not Be a Lifeless Leader…), 91 (Translate Your Vision into Reality), 129 (Constantly Thinking about the Day of Accountability) etc. Further, the font is large enough for the average reader to clearly decipher. Scripture passages clearly stand out since they are in bold print and, except for verification, passages are not merely referred to but are reproduced for ease of reference.

I unreservedly recommend this classic publication to every potential leader. Every pastor must read this book.

Review: The Campaign

The world of politics can be a very dirty place for anyone who’s trying to make a living in it. The mudslinging can get down right disgusting, especially during election season. The Campaign is a movie about those things, but it involves a comedic touch. That should be expected when you have Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis in the lead roles as rival politicians.

When a couple of extremely wealthy business men get wind of a major public error by Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), they see it as a chance to gain influence in a North Carolina district by bringing in their own politician to win the upcoming election and take his place. They feel that they can use just about anybody to take on the task if they throw enough money behind him and they’re doing so with the awkward and unknown Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis). With their help, Huggins enters the race and each side pulls out all the stops in doing whatever it takes to win.

Cam Brady is a charismatic politician who is living his dream life in his current position as a congressman. Brady has power, two children, women and a wife who’s only with him for money and status. He’s a virtual lock to be re-elected into office whenever election season comes along and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever come out on the opposite side of victory. That’s mainly because no one else in his district ever wants to run for office. What more could he ask for? He’s a guy who takes full advantage of the situations and has no plans on giving up his role as a congressman.

Marty Huggins on the other hand, is the direct opposite. While Huggins also has a wife and two kids, he also has a pair of pet pugs that he loves sincerely. What separates Huggins from the likes of Congressman Brady is that he’s a nice, but extremely weird man that no one seems to take seriously. He’s always wanted to be a politician, but he’s never had the chance up until this point and time. With the backing of his father (Brian Cox) and a group of people who support him by making sure he doesn’t suck, Marty marches on to challenge for the seat that only one other man wants.

Once everything is set-up and the characters personalities are fully established, the movie moves forward into the campaign as the two men begin their run for office. Getting into the run for office is where we see the comedy that anyone would show up for this movie for. I was sure that there were going to be some laughs to be had going in and that these two political hopefuls would partake in the usual mudslinging, but I didn’t think they would go as far as they did. Some of the chances they take to humiliate and discredit each other stoops to lows of epic proportions.

The Campaign has comedy that’s insanely funny at times and it ranges from conventional to extreme. This politic satire is filled with a large number of crazy ideas that work in the situations that are put on display. It would have been hard for me not to like the comedy in this movie. It’s “laugh out loud” funny at times and it’s carried out nicely by a willing cast led by Ferrell and Galifianakis. These two leading men fit their characters as well as they could have hoped and put out very fun and energetic performances.

That’s something I couldn’t say about about Ferrell’s last movie Casa de Mi Padre. That was terrible and it was one of the worst movies that I’ve ever seen before. I was wondering if that was all Ferrell had left as it looked like he was going into full on Adam Sandler mode and just start tanking it in every movie. The Campaign shows me that he’s still has something left and he’s willing to give the necessary effort. It sits at the opposite end of the spectrum in large part due to Ferrell and Galifianakis and it helps to restore some of Ferrell’s credibility.

As entertaining as The Campaign is throughout its entirety, it does slow down after a while. It would have been hard to remain at the pace that they came out with for the whole film and that’s understandable. This gets off to an amazing start and slows down, but remains good throughout. The script, the comedy and its characters never allow The Campaign to ever come close to completely falling of the table.

Surprisingly, The Campaign takes its time to throw in some real issues that plague politics and our real lives. I was expecting something related to politics in this, but I didn’t think that they would go as far as they did. They speak on many current affairs that are having an impact on the lives of many people. It’s some heavy stuff that’s being shown in certain scenes and it hopes to get people to look at what might be happening in the world of politics. This aspect of The Campaign truly has meaning and I believe that it adds unsuspecting substance to a movie that’s all about comedy.

When looking at the comedy, the performances and the purpose that’s behind the plot, you get a movie that’s telling a meaningful story and having fun at the same time. With The Campaign, the audience must expect the unexpected at nearly every corner in this film, because that’s what you’re going to get. Is it perfect? No, but it’s a fun watch for adults who want something that’s graphic and a little different.

Score: 3.5/5

Rating: R

Director: Jay Roach

Cast:

Will Ferrell

Zach Galifianakis

Jason Sudeikis

Katherine La Nasa

Dylan McDermott

John Lithgow

Dan Akroyd

Brian Cox

Film Length: 85 minutes

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Book Review – The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento

The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento is the tale of a ballplayer who grew up surfing and playing cricket with his father who finds baseball. The player, Damian, turns out to be a fine player and signs on with an American team to play in the minor leagues.

It’s an interesting story of an Australian traveling to the USA to play ball. The story shows a young boy struggling to find his way in the world of baseball. Seen as an outsider, he has to work hard to impress and move up the ranks to reach his goal of making the major leagues one day.

The story takes place in the early 1990’s before the Australian Baseball League was formed. So Damian learns the ropes of the game through the tournaments around Australia. He rises fast in the ranks of the Australian players and is soon signed to a minor league deal with one of the fictitious Sacramento Sea Lions’ minor league teams.

Damion travels around the US playing in small towns in Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, and others getting a good dose of small town America which is very different than what he is used to back home in Perth, Australia. You get to ride along with Damion as he learns a few new things in life like driving a stick shift.

The book focuses not only on the baseball side of life for Damion, but also the trials he has in his love life. He leaves a girl back home and the long distance relationship is too much to handle for the two of them.

There is humor in the book as well. Anytime you get a bunch of young guys together for long periods of time funny things are going to happen. Thrown in some alcohol and things can get out of hand for a few of the ballplayers. It’s a lighter side of the life of a ballplayer that the author shows here. Letting loose is something every player has to learn to do at some point to help deal with the stress of the job. Thus hilarity ensues as each player deals with the stress in their own way.

The story doesn’t stop with Damion in the minor leagues but follows his story to retirement and beyond. I don’t want to give away just how far he gets or how long he plays because I think it would take away from the story. However, I will say that he is not a one year flame out.

This is a story for any baseball fan. You get to see the game from the perspective of another country. The language used to describe certain parts of the game are different than what an American might say which makes it that much more interesting. Even a casual sports fan would enjoy the journey of this young boy because it’s about more than simply baseball. So go out and pick up a copy today.

Unique Birthday Party Locations

ROCK THE BIRTHDAY

Birthdays are one day that every single one from kids to the adults eagerly await for every year. Everyone is super excited for celebrating their birthday in an exclusive way. Not only are the birthday guys or girls excited about this special day, so are the parents or friends or relatives. When it comes to arranging Birthday parties in New York City, the first thing that has to be done is to search for a happening venue. Either you go for a comprehensive package and enjoy a stress free party or go for managing it on your own. Here are some venues that you could consider, while planning a Birthday party to remember, a Birthday that would be power packed.

Carnival – This is one place that would make all the youngsters go crazy and all the adults feel like a kid again. A distinctive event space with distinct features for the perfect birthday, this place is a cocktail of boardwalk style gaming, superlative recreation facility, mouthwatering cuisine and insane music, the perfect recipe for a perfect party. This place is nestled over the Bowlmor Lanes in Union Square and should be quite an accessible venue for all your guests.

Hudson Terrace – A venue that is contemporary piece of art, an outstanding and panache venue for a arranging Birthday Parties in New York. Celebrating your B’Day at the aristocratic roof top bar would be quite an experience. The modern d├ęcor, outstanding catering, excellent service make it one of the most happening destinations particularly for elite Birthday parties.

300 New York – If you are a planning party with bowling theme, then 300 New York is 100% the venue you should be reserving for the same, when you plan a Birthday Party in New York. It renders comprehensive catering and enhanced food and beverage menus for a  unique  Birthday party arrangement.

Spin – Nestled in the picturesque flatiron district of Manhattan and covering a big space of 13000 sq ft, this is one happening hot spot for birthday parties that are a mix of music, merriment, sports like table tennis and more for that zing and different experience and nothing but full-on entertainment.

Tonic East – This roof top venue not only has a rocking name Tonic, in fact it is a tasty tonic for the invitees, unquestionably. Birthday parties in New York at this roof top are sure to be simply amazing with the DJ playing mind boggling music, the charismatic ambience and the, simply great cocktails. Rest assured, this multilevel sports restaurant is one of its kind with an elegant bar, a stunning patio, large screens for an incredible viewing experience topped with a cozy atmosphere and great vibes.

Pulse Karoake – Popular for its splendid lighting arrangement, fully stocked bars and New York’s only multimedia lounge, Pulse lounge should be a good choice for comprehensive musical experience.

Flute – If you are willing to splurge lots of dollars for a extraordinary experience which has the perfect recipe made out of sparkling cocktails, menu that gets your taste buds tickling and an ambience that has the flavor of the premium quality champagne, the Flute has to top your list to be venue for a top notch Birthday party in New York.

Empire Hotel – Synonymous to its name, The Empire hotel stands for panache and imperialness. If you have a lavish birthday bash in mind then this is one of the A-class venues for the New York Birthday. Housing lavish interiors, variety of cuisines and cocktails and more, one hot spot for a really titanic bash.

Ink 48 – An exquisite experience at an exotic location, that’s what Ink 48 is all about. This boutique Hotel presents panoramic shots of the city, though the interiors are so magnetic that you would not get over them for a long time. A fully equipped hotel with all the premier facilities, this place is but a package of luxury. It also offers thoughtful combination packages for a pocket friendly celebration.

Chelsea Piers – For an ultimate action and adventure packed B’day party this venue is the best option. It comprises of a vast water front spread over 30,000 sq ft. For Golfers or Golf lovers, & bowling enthusiasts, it would be a truly entertaining experience. This place has a variety of packages for birthday celebrations and parties, packages that are easy on your pockets at the same ensure a memorable experience.

Celebrating Birthday Parties is quite a task when it comes to making it a memorable experience. A right event space can make this task half easier and if the venue is equipped with comprehensive facilities that suit your budget than an explosive entertainment New York Birthday party is child’s play for the ones throwing the party and a treat for the ones who are invited.