Would You Join An MLM For Retirement Income?

I didn’t really have any plans of posting so soon after my previous post, but I had a Facebook friend share this article / opinion / experience from a Forbes article posted this past August. The author actually has an interesting experience and point of view of what they learned from asking some questions of business owners around the Network Marketing industry. While there is no mention as to what companies or products the Business Owners contract with, there’s some solid advice given that works with any business in order to succeed. Cool stuff.

Always interesting to get an outside view of the industry.

Happy Autumn To All!
~ C

Author: Robert Laura
Title: Forbes Contributor
Original Article: Would You Join An MLM For Retirement Income @ Forbes  ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2014/08/29/would-you-join-a-multi-level-marketing-company-for-retirement-income/ )

At some point in your life you’ve been pitched a multi-level marketing (MLM), direct selling, or network marketing business opportunity. While the pitch varies from company to company, it basically promises a chance to ditch your 9-5 work schedule, be your own boss, and make lots of money while making new friends in the process.

It all sounds good on paper, yet there is a seemingly endless debate over whether these companies and programs are legitimate business opportunities or not, so I dug in and got the real scoop. As a result, I believe that the entire industry is poised for explosive growth and can be one of the most significant solutions to America’s current retirement savings crisis.

Initially, that may sound like a bold statement, but it’s not if you understand retirement the way I do. The reality is, making a successful transition into retirement has more to do with psychology than with money… and the same may hold true for multi-level and network marketing.

Don’t get me wrong, money has a role in retirement, but it’s not the primary one every one gives it. Combine that concept with eye-opening statistics like AARP’s estimate that half of all baby boomers (76 million) are interested in starting a business and the makings of a massive trend are in place.

As far as the retirement saving crisis is concerned, more and more people are coming to terms with the fact that they probably aren’t going to be able to save enough money to just sit around and slowly deplete their nest egg from age 62 to 100. With the average 50 year-old estimated to have less than $50,000 in retirement savings, there is an obvious need to find alternative ways to either save more or generate supplemental income starting now, and continuing throughout retirement. Moving beyond just the dollars and cents, boomers are growing tired of feeling guilty or bad about their past savings habits and are interested in moving towards possible solutions.

Another growing reality that could benefit MLM and related businesses is the increasing number of baby boomers who are disenchanted with their current careers. They’re worn-out from years of the corporate grind and don’t feel the connection between their job and the people it impacts outside their office walls or company grounds. They’re shifting their focus from accumulating a giant nest egg to a desire to be part of something bigger and better… to have a positive effect on others… and working in retirement. Facets of life that can be fulfilled with specific types of products and service available through some MLM or Direct selling opportunities.

MLM and direct selling programs also offer very low barriers into entrepreneurship, often providing training, support, and ample encouragement along the way. As retirees begin to realize they need activities that keep them busy, relevant, in good health, and connected to others, the time, energy and cost to participate in these kinds of companies make them very appealing to large segments of the population caught up in these dynamics.

This is not a ringing endorsement for the entire industry. Like any investment of time, money, and energy, people need to be aware of what they are getting into and do their homework. That’s the primary reasons I began researching the topic by reaching out to regular everyday people involved in these types of businesses and who were willing to skip the hype and offer a transparent view of the programs and give their opinions as to whether this can be a realistic source of retirement income.

I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money. After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.

She admits she doesn’t attend all of the company’s local meetings and goal-setting sessions because she’s not interested in becoming a top producer. She just likes to use the business activity to keep busy (particularly in the winter) and use the extra money she earns to travel and spoil the grand kids.

Having studied the psychology and behavior of boomers, this example represents a major shift in my thinking about the industry. I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes. Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement that are rarely discussed let alone planned for, with the added benefit of supplementing other popular retirement income sources such as pension and social security.

Daria M. Brezinski Ph.D, a practicing psychologist and former marketing director for a multi-level marketing magazine, echoes these sentiments. “Many people don’t realize that multi-level marketing companies are successful because they help people satisfy a number of important human needs, including feeling significant, having connections, learning something new, and making a difference. I have heard people in network marketing say again and again, ‘I’m doing this because I’m meeting amazing people … making so many connections … and I feel so good about myself.’”

Dr. Brezinski’s point is well taken and easy to see practiced by popular network marketing companies. Many MLM and NM companies tout a three-to-five year plan to attain freedom and wealth, yet many of the people running company meetings have been in the business for five or ten years and still haven’t left their full-time job or landed on easy street. “As it turns out,” Dr. Brezinski notes, “when other human needs are being met, the members and consultants don’t focus solely on the financial aspects.”

Continuing my interviews, I challenged three others who are in the business to be straightforward, and prove to me that the process really works. What I found was good, consistent business advice applicable to any new business.

Lorene Hochstetler, from Ohio, recommends keeping your current job while slowly making the transition into MLM. She’s been able to replace her full-time income but explains, “It didn’t happen overnight, and I still work every day. I am very disciplined with my business and wake up every day knowing what I have to do in order to succeed at this. You have to treat it like a business and be willing to follow advice from others who have made it.”

Tracy Willard of California began her MLM career out of necessity. “Prior to getting involved in my business, I told my friends to never let me join one of those things… but when our family was hit by the mortgage crisis I had to do something different.” She started her business with the intention some retirees may also find themselves. “I started with the idea that I just needed to make my month easier. My company helped me figure out what I needed to do in order to make an extra $500 per month.”

She reiterated a common theme I heard throughout the interviews. “If you treat it like a hobby it won’t pay you like a business.” She also acknowledged that, in spite of her success, she doesn’t sit around eating bonbons every day waiting for residual checks to hit the mailbox. “That’s a common misconception,” she said. “I work hard at my business every day, although it doesn’t always feel like work. Similar to other entrepreneurs who profit from their passion, she says “It’s rewarding because I found a product that has made in difference in how I look and feel… and I love selling it and helping other people start a business.”

Staci Cahill runs her Washington MLM company in a way many people can appreciate. She keeps her personal life separate from her business life by avoiding home parties, offering instead workshops that educate prospects on the products she offers. “I didn’t want to be that person others hid from because they thought I was going to ask them to host a party. I like to keep my business life and personal life separate.”

When I asked her if she was successful at her craft, she pointed out an MLM approach different from what many might expect. “Yes, I am very successful given what I wanted to get out of it. I’m a single mother who used to work 50 hours per week outside the home. Now I’ve cut it to 20 hours, which is a major upgrade for me and my family.”

As a five-year veteran of MLM, she attributes her success to the fact that, “I switched companies a few years ago once I realized that pots and pans don’t change people lives. The products I now offer has changed my life and that of others… and I find a lot of value in waking up and going to bed knowing that.”

The interviews and psychological connections lead me to conclude that MLM and NM companies, along with other small businesses opportunities, are important considerations for anyone entering retirement. In fact, I believe the concept of starting a business for retirement income will become one of the most significant trends impacting retirement in the 21st century. But it has to start with redefining entrepreneurship and framing it into a retirement lifestyle. That means helping people find ways to turn a passion, hobby, or personal desire into extra money in their pocket… not to mention helping people see the importance of planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement such as replacing a work identity, staying relevant and connected, as well as keeping mentally and physically fit.
Something multi-level marketing as well as network marketing companies are poised to capitalize on. As a result, the industry could soon experience larger than life growth, spurred by baby boomers looking to adjust their retirement feelings and plans.

 

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The Dream Or The Nightmare

In my current job I deal with a lot of complaints every single day. Angry or annoyed people are forwarded to me one after the other. Why are they angry? Their cable, internet, home phone or wireless pricing has gone up due to promotions falling off of their profile or they have been billed overages that they were not expecting or are disputing, or our customer service was unsatisfactory during a recent interaction or one of our technicians did a bad job and so on.

As a telecommunications account manager once the issue comes to me the issues are a rinse, wash, repeat scenario with a few odd ones here or there. If people escalate enough to get to me then depending on what the issues are I have additional options to provide a fair resolution depending on the situation. The biggest overall reason for calls to get escalated up to me is from long tenured customers upset that their bills have gone up. And its not because the company I work for raises the cost of services every month (if there’s a price increase for a service its once annually). The pricing has increased because they were getting a discount on their services which had since expired. Now, as the company is in business to make money, any discounts are not made or meant to be given for life. In fact any promo you see from any telco company will go for a 3, 6 or 12 month period depending on the competition at the time and many other factors. Sometimes you’ll get a 24 or even 36 month option here or there but these are few and far in between. But at no point are there discounts or promotions that last for life.

And so when all options through all of our different customer service teams have not provided a solution (normally they do for the most part) they escalate up to me. The biggest line(s) I hear from some of our longer tenured customers is:

I’m a senior. I’m on a pension. I’m on a fixed income. My pension isn’t going up but your pricing keeps going up and I can’t afford your service.

For many baby boomers and seniors, this is a legitimate concern. Depending on their occupation, the company they worked for and what kind of pension plan they had, each person’s pension wages are different – but at the end of the day they’re 100% right. Their pensions will not go up. Its clear as day that the cost of living has significantly gone up and isn’t slowing. Whether a discount falls off of their TV service or gas prices continue to go up or the cost of food keeps slowly increasing….things are going up. What are they going to do? As far as I’m aware defined benefit pension plans are not made to go up as the rate of inflation goes up. And these apparently were the “good” pension plans. Anyone my age who can actually get access to a plan probably has access to defined contributional pensions where the company will match whatever we put in. Most companies can’t afford to offer defined benefit plans anymore. (Though CEO pensions and retirement payouts are in the millions…..but that’s a whole other topic….)

So that brings me to my topic. What a nightmare. Facing that in my “golden years”. Being held hostage; hoping my cable or internet provider will renew my discount for another year because I can’t afford the regular price on my fixed income. Having to consider switching companies to get the promotion de jour every 3 – 6 months. That’s horrible! It breaks my heart when I talk with these seniors who supposedly did everything right and at the end of it all they earned that golden ticket – the pension. And they’re barely getting by.

That scares the hell out of me. That’s my nightmare. Dean talks about it all the time – “You’re either motivated by your dreams or your nightmares.” So when people ask me why I’m doing this “thing” – I share my nightmare. I’m 31 now – the average college grad makes about 2 million in their working years / lifetime. Yet with the way cost of living is going up along with inflation – there’s no way that will be enough. If these seniors who got a defined benefit pension aren’t getting by and I don’t even have that – how in the blue heck will I ever be able to afford a comfortable “retirement” on a defined contributional!?

Well – I could get a higher paying job to start. However, when 60% or more of college grads aren’t getting jobs in their field of study – I don’t like my chances. I’d have to head back to school myself. So add on student loan debt to be paid off before I can start really putting in extra stuff away towards retirement. Oh there’s RRSP’s and TFSA and compounding interest and so on. But hold up….these seniors had access to these as well (minus TFSA) and they’re still having issues!

Since I was a kid I was told to get the good job. Why? So I can get paid well and get a good pension. That’s what my grandparents and my mom knew. So that’s what was taught to me. But when I look at all of these people having a hard time – that’s scary. Now obviously there are many seniors who are doing just fine. But during my conversations with them while working and with many that I meet on a day to day basis – there’s more having a tough time than not. And I’m walking on that path right now. You can tell the future. I bet you didn’t know that did you? Look at people who are in your field or have retired from your occupation and that my friend will be you plus or minus a bit depending on personal choices in life. You will be in a similar situation. And if you think that looks pretty sweet depending on what that is – really look into that success if that is what you see. Success isn’t just money. Anyone can make a good wage. But how is the marriage? How is the time to work ratio? Is there any family time? Are both spouses working all of the time? Do the babysitters and daycare workers see the kids more than the parents?

It all comes down to the question – what motivates you? Are you motivated by a goal or dream you’re working towards? Do you have a goal or dream or a vision for your life? Or are you running from your nightmare situation? Are you motivated into action to avoid a negative experience or outcome that you see yourself potentially having to live through?
If you don’t have a dream to work towards or a nightmare to work away from – it might be a good investment of your time to figure that out. Because a failure to plan is a plan to fail. You better be doing something to get to your dream or to avoid that nightmare. It doesn’t have to be the Amway business. But it needs to be something. It just so happens that I’ve seen a lot of great experiences that this business has provided to others.

Last Friday there was another retirement party in Calgary. A young man who worked as an occupational therapist walked free one day before his son’s first birthday. What a present to give – a full time father. Now there’s a dream to work towards.

~ C

Gimme That Customer Service!

As we are Canadians, it’s unfortunate that up north we sometimes don’t have the same products available to us as Americans do through Amway US. Part of that is your regular supply and demand but the other annoying part is our regulators that we have up here. ie: Body Key Appetite chews – they’re like raspberry Starburst candies and chocolate Tootsie Rolls and meant to help curb hunger between meals for those on the Body Key weight management program. The States have had them since Body Key launched. Up here, nope. Still being checked out and we’ll have to wait for the feds to “OK” it. Its definitely annoying. Especially in the case of XS flavors.

Ahh yes, XS. I am a self admitted Coca-Cola fiend. Ever since high school I loved my Coke and whenever I’m doing a project online, gaming or watching a movie, I need something fizzy. Preferrably Coke. The tough part is that there is an INSANE amount of sugar in the stuff. Not only did it do a number on my teeth over the years but that amount of sugar consumption is never a good thing. So when I got back into business XS became a perfect substitute for me. Very little to no sugar and it gave me my fizzy drink that I wanted. Originally the Cola flavor was available in Canada about 2 years ago. And then it got discontinued.

I was disappointed until I learned that it was still available in the US. And on top of that, there have been some other flavors released that were only down South. We would see other business owners enjoying them and we would chat it up and we heard good things. Luckily we’re within a 30 minute drive of the border from where we are, so a few weeks back we put together an American order to pick up in the States. Finally we could try some of these mysterious flavors and I would finally get a taste of my long lost Cola Blast.

We ordered some of the Body Key stuff that wasn’t available in Canada yet but also we got a case of Electric Lemon Blast (tastes like Mikes Hard Lemonade – no booze though ;)), Cola Blast and Summit Blast (7-Up/Ginger-Ale Combo flavor). Through one of our crossline buddies we learned about this really nice ship to the US service called Ship2Blaine. There’s a bunch of places you can ship American orders to and then pickup in the Blaine/Peace Arch area but this is run by a nice family that uses the proceeds towards their kid’s college fund. Its also by donation. We’ve used them twice to date and its been great! Plus its a nice little drive. Semiahmoo park is minutes away and provides great views of Drayton Harbor.

So we get there and find our shipment but notice one of our boxes of XS are missing.
Instead of getting this:

20130416_221620

XS Summit Blast

We got this:

XS Black Cherry Cola Blast

XS Black Cherry Cola Blast

Now, we were glad that we weren’t shorted on the amount of XS cases that we had ordered, but we were disappointed that we didn’t get the flavors we had asked for. That, and the Summit Blast is a larger can as well. So we had paid for a more expensive product and A: got the wrong flavor and B: a smaller size product. So we headed home and the next business day I called up the corporation. Not only did they do the obvious thing and send us the correct XS that we have originally ordered, they told us we didn’t have to return the other case! So we basically got an extra case of XS for free. Amway’s regular policy is that they have a 180 day cash back guarantee. They just ask that you return the other product. That’s their normal policy.

So long as I have been in business I’ve seen Amway go against their own return policy multiple times to provide that extra push of customer service. I happen to currently be employed by Rogers – anyone who is a client of their’s or has done business with them, knows about policies. Its the same for many large corporations – policies are in place as guidelines. Policies for returns, refunds, exchanges, buyers remorse, billing disputes and so on. There’s policies all over the place. But its what large corporations stick to. Whenever you need a favor or an exception against these policies….ohhh man you know you’re in for a battle. Start with front line customer service – then you go to customer relations / loyalty then you go to their manager and so on and so on. Its tiring.

Within 10 minutes after explaining what had happened, providing the lot number, the agent had sent out a replacement order of XS for us and I got on with my day, enjoying a can of Black Cherry Cola as I went courtesy of the corporation! Last year Nikki had a purse from the Personal Accents line start losing its inner lining. This was after the 180 day guarantee by the way. One phone call, 15 minutes and she had a new purse on the way. That’s nuts! I haven’t seen other companies do that! There have been a tonne of other stories from other people that I’ve listened to over Kate and while Amway does have its policies, its got to be the most easy company to deal with that I’ve experienced in regards to customer service on the phone. Their product support/quality assurance thus far for us has been exceptional for us both as customers and as business owners.

The tough part about getting the replacement XS is that it could only be shipped to the address we had used for the original order. So we had to drive back down to Blaine. We chose one of my days off and made an afternoon of it. Tuesday afternoon at the border is fun. We drove right up and got right across both ways. After picking up our order we drove down to Semiahmoo Park. The tide was out and it was a warm sunny spring day. So Nikki and I got a chance to explore and enjoy some quality time on the beach. If you have a chance to go in the afternoon I recommend it. We saw a crane, an eagle and there was a large group of Harbor and Leopard Seals sunning themselves on the breakwater docks that chatted at us as we walked over to their location. As the tide was out quite a long way we walked on a bed that was all muscles and barnacles. I’ve never seen the beach so thickly covered in them before. There was also a lady who was digging away in the dirt with a rake which we could only assume was digging for clams etc. I hope that wasn’t the case, though since there were ridiculous amounts of signage warning people to not catch and eat any shellfish due to the red tide season or something about poisonous chemicals in the shellfish.

All in all, it was a good day and not only did Amway make up for their miscue, they made up for it in a more than fair manner. Can’t complain about that.

~ C

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Borrowed Thoughts

Thoughts I’ve been picking up from some my coaches and mentors the last few months. Its too bad the system didn’t teach me this type of mindset while I was growing up…

* There are wanderers and followers or achievers and influencers.

* You cannot put a pricetag on time.

* I don’t want to be at the end looking back saying “I wish I would have or could have…”

* Borrowing your way into oblivion for a future that you cannot control and that is not gauranteed is not good coaching.

* You don`t buy a drill because you want the drill. You buy a drill because you want a hole. The drill is simply a vehicle to get you what you want.

* The gauranteed path to failure is to try and please everybody.

* Don`t mistake activity and productivity.

* We went after a future we thought we wanted based on the options we had been given. Financial freedom was never an option shown in school.

* As you remain employed you will choose to either stay with èm and play with èm or to leave to feed èm. You have no other choice in that game.

* Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end you are the faster it seems to go.

* In the job world your opportunity is someone else`s misopportunity.

* How many people were sold a bill of goods from K – 12 and trained to sacrifice lifestyle of workstyle?

* If the key to financial success is intelligence then why are there not more millionaires?

* Tigers don’t lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

* Destiny is not about chance, but about choice.

* Poverty is a mindset that leads to being broke.

* Freedom trumps career every time.

* Develop the best. The best develop the rest.

* The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.

* The more education a person has the less they know.

* Most mne have three spouses. Friends. Boss. Wife. Which one do you think is the first to go?

* Do you think opinions from friends and family on a subject means you’re educated on that subject?

* Do you think everything outside of a job is a “pyramid”?

* No one is average. They just choose average paths.

* The best job starts at 12:00pm, ends at 1:00pm and has a lunch hour in between.

* Why we do what we do is much more important than what we actually do.

* Money amplifies character, problems and magnifies your heart.

* You cannot reach higher ground until you reach a common ground.

* You will never get ahead until you change the way you make money.

* You aren’t skeptical of the facts, you’re skeptical of yourself and your own abilities.

* If you want a man to build a ship, don’t give him the tools to build the ship. Give him a love and hunger for the sea.

* Followers take someone else’s experience and make it their own. Leaders make their own experiences.

* You need someone to speak belief into your life because if you don’t all you will have is your own doubts.

* Trying is a noisy way of doing absolutely nothing.

* Invest your life for a high return.

* An hour around a wise man is worth a month of a good book.

* If you’re always trying to avoid risk you will end up with nothing but regret.

* Never share your problems with people who aren’t part of the solution.

* Never steal a struggle from someone for within that struggle is their victory.

* You’re only dead when people don’t know that you ever lived.

* You can’t be picky if you don’t have another way to retire young.

* Are you a middle class thinker or a world class thinker?

* You never rise above the level of your mentorship.

* If you end up having a gifted child, will you be able to afford them?

* True tenure rewarded should give you your time back.

* Support what supports you.

* Faith is having the courage to step off a ledge and if there are no steps below your feet knowing that you’ll build them on the way down.

* In a job you’re only as good as your last sale or performance evaluation.

* If you do nothing or try nothing you become what you’ve done – nothing.

* Everyone was born an original. Most people die a photocopy.

* For long term success you must have a vision. The vision will give you discipline which will produce passion to overcome.

* A man who will lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

* A leader gets disappointed but never frustrated.

* A leader faces the music even when he doesn’t like the tune.

* If you see someone wearing a tie at night they are probably very wealthy. If you see someone wearing a tie during the day, they are probably very busy making someone else very wealthy.

* Most people are in a position where there take home pay won’t take them home.

* This is a mentorship opportunity with a business on the side.

* If you want to change the direction of your family tree, start taking advice from people outside the family tree.

* Wealth is not about the amount of money you acquire, its about the mindset you have that allowed you to get it.

* You’re either all in to something by accident or on purpose.

* You have to believe in the blueprint before you erect the building. Without belief nothing is ever created, started or completed.

* Does your dream run your life? Or your job?

And more truth will be learnt in the upcoming year. What a journey so far. Here’s to more and more growth.

Back to the grind, eh?

The day that many parents yearn for has finally arrived! The Labour Day weekend is over! Hurrah! Get them kids back to school!

Its true that many parents find the summer months almost a more of a stress than the school year what with needing to find ways to keep their young busy while they still have to worry about getting to work. Usually the summer season equates to more spending for the average parent simply on child care or summer entertainment like day camps, summer camps etc. These things are definitely not cheap. Having to put in more “kid time” while still working full time can definitely increase a parent’s stress level quickly. Its those few relaxing moments when the parent actually has more than 2 days off that they can be less stressed and fully focussed on their home life for a change.

And yet school is still heralded as the parent’s haven. Indeed, for many just struggling to get by its pretty much a learning institution as much as it is a free daycare. Compared to summer activities that can run up in the hundreds per week depending on the activities involved.

Labour Day is considered by many Canadians to be the last final weekend of summer. Time for that last road trip, that last party etc. I was interested to find that Labour Day was originally a celebration set up in response by the Toronto Trades and Labour Council. Back in the day unions were striking because they wanted a 58 hour work week. 58 HOURS! Currently a standard work week is the regular 37.5 – 40. This works out to 7.5 or 8 hours / day for a regular shift. Back then, they were striking to get the work week down to 58! This works out to 11.6 hr/day in a 5 day work week. Or 9.6 hr/day if we allow them 6 work days with a Sunday off. And they were striking FOR this back in the late 1800s. The union organizers of the time were JAILED for staging these strikes for “conspiracy”.

Wow…..how far we’ve come, eh? Here we are now in 2012 voluntarily working 60, 70, 80 hours/per week. And this is what has come from our school systems which ties into this Labour Day is over – back to the grind theme. As I dropped my girlfriend off at work, we passed two schools along the way. Lots of new backpacks, clothes, gear etc. And a lot of parent’s hustling their kids into the classroom where their bright future’s await them. But is that the case?

Education originally was completed in the forms of apprenticeship and was completed within the family. The population in the 1700’s was much less sparse at that time. With an agrarian model most of the needs were in agriculture and farming. Formal education had no place since children learned what they needed by learning by association and learning by doing when their elder’s deemed them able to start tasks suited to their age and skill level.

It was around the 1840’s where public education and a school “system” was becoming more of an emerging consensus. “School Promoters” Egerton Ryerson in Ontario, Jean-Baptiste Meilleur in Quebec and John Jessop In British Columbia who were on constant communication with each other were main contributors to the fledgling system becoming more and more mainstream.

The characteristic conviction of the school promoters was that mass schooling could be an effective instrument for instilling appropriate modes of thought and behaviour into children; in their minds, the purpose of mass schooling did not primarily involve the acquisition of academic knowledge. School systems were designed to solve a wide variety of problems ranging from crime to poverty, and from idleness to vagrancy.

As industry quickly overtook agriculture and large hubs of commerce and trade became more mainstream, there were more needs for employees. The need for children to become well versed in their trades back on the farm compared to the amount of children being born and raised in these larger towns and cities were becoming more and more disproportionate.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not down or education or schooling. In fact its definitely necessary for young minds to learn and grow. But what exactly are school’s teaching after the parent’s drop off their kids and go off to their jobs? Two breaks and a lunch. You need permission to use the washroom. You have deadlines. You have homework.  You work alone and in groups/teams. Teacher’s teach what the curriculum tells them to. They can deliver it in a multitude of ways that matches their “style”, but the curriculum is still the same depending on province. If your child is in a private school then maybe there is a more religious tone, or a more focussed tone. But the bottom line is, they are being prepared for an adult life of: meeting deadlines. Taking your work home with you while they’ll be off the clock. Two 15’s and a 30. (The 30 is usually unpaid.) Its just a set up for the next 40+ years. And the school system sets this up like a professional billiards player.

“What do you want to do / be for the rest of your life?” It’s asked of these young minds as young as 5 – 6 years of age. Choices may vary based on personal interest or what seems “fun” or “cool” or it takes after what Mommy or Daddy does. Is there any point that asks – “How do you want to live?”. There is no focus on the outcome. Oh there’s a vague view of what the end “should” look like – living comfortably as they have a few weeks off and weekends. Some jobs lend more time off than others. But what I’ve experienced is that I was sold a bill of goods since I could understand words. Get a good education, that will get me a good job, and then I’ll have a good life and I’ll “make it”. By getting a good job I’ll make enough to pay all of my expenses and then have some fluff left over for savings, fun etc.

So my question was…how’s the fluff doing? For myself I can tell you its been one hell of a struggle. I’m doing ok for now. But this isn’t very different than a lot of adults around my age give or take 5 years up or down. So what happened? Where’s the fluff I’m supposed to be enjoying? Well to be fair I wasn’t good friends with school. I was there to play basketball and have fun. I didn’t care for studies because they bored me to tears. So my hard times easily could be attributed to shoddy effort and results from my school life. Fair enough. I can accept that. But why are there so many other adults with degree’s and other post secondary success’ working at Starbucks? Not that there’s anything wrong with Starbucks as an employer. But if you successfully completed your college or university, you should be able to get a lot better wage in your field of study, yes?

Well there’s also demand for that job to consider. So even if I “love” what I went to school for, I better take into consideration the demand it has. But if there’s a high demand, then I’m set, yes? Oh, there are hundreds if not thousands of others going for the same job/work as me? Well, I should be willing to move provinces to get that job. Not thinking that there are many others in that province/state who are looking for that work in their home area.

Oh, Cameron you’re looking at the negative! People who want to make it, will do whatever it takes to get that job. Or they’ll diversify and go BACK to school to outclass their competition. So this involves going into more debt, more loans just to get a job that will pay  me or them or whoever as little as it can because it is a business and it wants to make money first. I can’t say that I like the idea of that solution.

Each step taken was what was fed to me as a student in elementary school and high school. And I see a lot of people wondering….what the hell happened? I did what I was told to do. Why is this so hard? Why am I barely making it? The older generation will point out that nothing in life is free, life isn’t easy, and there are no gaurantees.

So hold up….wait a minute. I was told to do all of these things as a child with no gaurantee that this was going to work!? So then what reason did I go through that boring monotonous daily grind known as school? Of course there are great social benefits – working with others, interacting with others etc. But to set me up for life when there was no gaurantee the system would work seems pretty ludicrous. I think it was done because everyone else does it.

The trouble is, there are simply too many people to differentiate ourselves from in the working world. Everyone and their dog has a degree. A Ph D, a Masters. They’re a dime a dozen. And yet more people are going more and more into debt expecting it will give them success. They were fed this since grade one.

Once again, I do believe there are benefits for schools. However I strongly believe they are not the key’s to the future for kids. More students are stressed than ever. More have a heavy debtload. More parents are using their retirement savings to help their adult children. More adult children are living at home in their mid twenties.

“Nothing in life is free.” “There are no gaurantees in life.” And yet when I show them a different way, they get upset when there is no gaurantee of results. Anything outside what they have learned their whole life – trade time for money – is not to be trusted. I’ve gone through that system and have seen a life of drudgery open up ahead of me. Not just myself, but many close friends and colleagues. Wondering and wishing there was more to life than this same old, same old. And yet the grind begins again. Before we know it, another year will pass. And nothing will have changed.

There are no gaurantees in life, true. There are no gaurantees of success in my business. But then, if we stick with that status quo, there are no promises life makes us. So I’ve just chosen something that will respond to my effort. No more and no less. Life is to be lived. Not to be tolerated. It shouldn’t be a grind. That’s why I’ve gotten around people who live it and are taking me with them. I suggest you do the same if you aren’t happy where things are going. Find someone who lives how you want to live. Who has the marriage you want. Who has the time you want with your family and friends. Get around them and learn from them. Not from the broke guys around the water cooler who are in the same situation as you are. If you want your outcome to change, you need to change.

Instead of being back to the grind. Why not get back to moving forward for a new day, a new you, a new life. There are no gaurantees, but what is a life lived without the attempt at living for something more than drudgery? The comfort zone is the failure zone. If we sit and hope to stay the course, we’ll find that the course may not want to stay on a path we want. But by that time we’ve given up all control and I, for one, will not allow the end of my path be determined by anything else but my actions. How about you?

Here’s hoping your grind is only temporary so you can go out and live life. Not grind through it.

~ C

Just trying to make it….

As I sit at my desk about two hours before I should be in my office (the result of work deciding they needed me to work later without updating me until midnight last night when I was already asleep) I’ve been reflecting over the past two days of people I’ve been able to converse with as well as at the path I’ve taken thus far.

My partner and I engaged in many conversations with people we met as we enjoyed our Canada Day weekend and the common theme that we found was that people were not happy to be working. Not that this is anything new. Anyone would rather enjoy time to do what they wanted either having fun with friends and family or relaxing doing hobbies of their choice. In fact the majority of these people that were not happy to be working were actually working 2 – 3 jobs at a time!

One thing that I usually say is that if you found that working one job was unenjoyable or not working for you, why the heck would you get a second!? The need for more money is the obvious answer but it begs the question…is this what life is all about? How can a person live for anyone else when they are simply striving to get by on their own – for them? A few people we spoke with had a boyfriend or wife etc but their partner worked almost as much if not more than them! Now I could understand this if these were people building a business for themselves so that they eventually wouldn’t have to work anymore. However all but a few were actually owners. These were all employees working so they could get more money.

Money, money, money. You know….that thing that we all say “isn’t that important”. Yet 98% of the population trades their most valuable asset, time, for this “thing” that they say isn’t important. Quite a contradiction. And that was me. Luckily working for a large corporation that may or may not cut my position to save money, but still paying me a decent middle class wage for a single. I was also lucky getting a spacious rental place for around $550/ mo with utilities included in Vancouver. Unfortunately for many, my case was rare. But it allowed me to enjoy life a bit when I wasn’t stuck in the office. Leaving me wanting more for my life but not allowing me to get there. If I looked to climb the corporate ladder, I could get more money, but the increased expectations wouldn’t get me anywhere near the time that I currently had to enjoy. Sucky trade off, that.

“But thats the way it is!” we’re told. Such a depressing way to look at things. Thats just the way it is. And I see this spirit in people who are working, working, working. It consumes their life. Their waking hours like a ghost that hovers around them. Worry about getting enough hours, worry about getting a payment in before service gets suspended. Worry about debt going up or having to go through credit debt counselling. And it goes on and on.
When we work and work and work it takes a vision off of what we want for our lives. I was working for the weekend, baby. That next payday. Its like getting another hit. Gimme ‘dat moneh! I wasn’t necessarily a selfish dude by any means. If we go back when I was in high school and asked what I wanted for my life, I stated, ” To provide a comfortable life for myself and those close to me.” And I think that would be a fair desire for any person.

Its just that the options to do this sucked. I’ve never been a school guy. It was never fun. And as such, I didnt really care. I got through to grade 12 because of basketball. I sucked it up and went to class just because it allowed me to play competitive basketball. Teaching would have been ok, but the schooling to do it just pushed me away.

So after some life living I sat working for this large corporation looking around thinking…I do not want to be a lifer. Think Office Space. The options for becoming a trainer at first seemed like it could be fun. Working with people instead of annoyed customers. But my tenure and stats wouldn’t allow me any serious consideration. I looked to radio. I legitimately had been told I have a voice for it (Certainly a face for it hehe). I passed intro tests to a well known audio/ visual academy in Vancouver. But I looked at that road and just felt off.

At the time I had just cleared $25,000 worth of debt from my name. It felt good to be debt free again. To owe nobody nothing is very, very freeing. Entry to this school was approximately $12,000. Student loan time. But the thought of going back into the hole THAT much just after I had gotten out was not appealing in the slightest. That and once I graduated, the chances of getting work in my field in the greater Vancouver area was slim. I would need to “earn my stripes” in small stations in small towns throughout BC or Alberta.

I had just gotten my own place again and moving to a small town to get minimum wage for something I had gone into debt for was not what I was looking for even though the job seemed fun enough. And so here I stayed. Hoping that as the economy dropped my job wouldn’t be cut. Having that sliver of fear of “what now?” if I took a cut and became unemployed just ate away at my subconscious.

Its a very unfun way to live life. Fear. That “what if” question always lingering. And its these experiences that have helped me shape the way I view life at this time. These experiences combined with the men I’m fortunate enough to counsel with. In school there was no talk of mentorship. Of a life coach. In what I do now, we’re all about that.

I was fortunate that my good friend of years gone by wanted to give me another shot. When my close friendwent into business around 2005 – 2006, I joined him. However, due to lack of mentorship in my relationship and in my finances, I had to quit. Money was falling through my fingers like sand. Two credit cards and a line of credit that was given easily had then started to choke the life out me.

Fast forward a few years and he was in town from Edmonton to do a meeting for an organization he had out here. And he showed me his retirement day. That thing he started back then, was huge. And it was growing. And he was free. Free to do what he wanted. When he wanted. His income was based on what he had done. Not what he did.

And I saw my opportunity. It was time to get going again. And since my re-launch its become clearer and clearer how much people need this. Like me, they want more, they just don’t know how to get it. And so people settle. And even though its not fun, they get used to it. And even the uncomfortable can get routine and comfortable if you do it enough. And then people take a moment and realize…..they’ve been doing the same thing for the last year, two years, five years, ten years….where has the time gone….all thats changed is a slight wage increase….a new child, a wedding….but in the big picture, people are as strapped and stressed as much as ever.

I became sick and tired of a slight wage increase each year. I was bored with the same outcome of my dead end job. I could climb the ladder….but that success required more time than I wanted to give. I wanted my time for me. For what I wanted to do. And nothing could give me that. My friend and upline had it. And he had the experience to back it up. And he had 10 – 15 people retired backing him up as well. My time will come.

And my freedom will be not just mine. But for others looking for more.For others, like me – needing proof. I needed proof. And I had all of my excuses took away when I saw my good buddy, smashing an alarm clock on his retirement day. It took one second to switch.

How selfish of me, many people have said. “Money isn’t everything! Money doesn’t make you happy!” they say. And they’re right. Money isn’t everything. Thats why I want to not have to worry about it anymore. Money doesn’t make you happy. I’ve had inheritances that I’ve blown and it was a false security. It was a selfish, temporary happiness. Thats why I want to be able to steward money to those who need it. When I’m able to have time and a solid cashflow, I can do so much more for my mom. For Nikki’s mom and dad and family. For charities that I could have never helped because I was focussed on getting paid for ME. And MY future. Heck, I was only paid enough to take care of me and a little bit more for small enjoyments in life.

The best use of your life is to so live your life that the works of your life outlive your life. Its not about just me anymore. And I like that. There’s a freedom in wanting to be apart of other people’s breakthroughs. Later this week I get on the board for the first time. To educate those who are close to our business owners just what they’re doing, what they’re up to and what they’re involved with. To ease their fears that they are not in some sort of illegal scheme. To help them see our business owners vision for their future. To represent our organization with class, and to model for our business owners who will be going into homes and sharing this opportunity on their own in the future.

We are not where we want to be. But looking back at myself….by God I’m sure as hell glad I’m not where I was.

Here’s to moving on and moving forward not just for me, or for us, but for others as well.

~ Cameron

An Extra Day Of Freedom Causes A Lot Of Complaints

As I drove to and from work today I had heard the news that here in BC, our provincial government has decided after many many years of not having any extra statuatory holidays in February, to actually give us an extra paid day off! This will take place on the second monday of February starting in 2014.  How kind!
See http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/367238–date-for-family-day-set and http://www.globaltvbc.com/new+family+day+holiday+starts+next+year/6442649670/story.html .

Another extra day per year where I can stay home and enjoy my own time? Sign me up! Family Day its being called. Thats awesome! I strongly believe that people do need to spend much more time with their families. God knows most are lucky to get 14 – 21 days of scheduled freedom per year outside of weekends to actually spend time doing what they enjoy. That is, if they can get weekends off to begin with.

So color me surprised when I heard scores of comments leaning towards the negatory on this added day off. I had to give my head a shake as I head callers giving their thoughts on how the government completely screwed up. Anyone who is anyone already knows that the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have their family days on the third monday of February. Oh the scandal! How dare we not have the same day off to match them.

A constant issue with this mismatch is that people will not be able to have their families from other provinces come to visit them because our long weekend will not match with theirs. They “cannot join you”. Now this is just a general sentiment that I garnered from reading online comments and listening to responses on the radio. But pardon me if I am slightly bewildered. Do people not normally go head over heels for long weekends? Labour Day, May Long Weekend et al are HUGE simply because it provides people with just one extra day of freedom. And whats best is that they can get paid for it!

Yet, here we get another statuatory holiday and all there is is grumbling. Why is it that these people who are being so hard done by cannot simply go to their family in other provinces? I’m very sure it would be a great time for all and they could have that extra day to make their way back home in time to get back to the grind. Why do their family members have to come out to them? Even if they do, their family’s long weekend will allow them to come here for the weekend and they would have an extra day to get home. If indeed it is that one extra day thats stopping people from going to visit other provinces then this should help the situation, shouldn’t it?

From a business standpoint there is more negative.

Whether the business is open or not open, people are being paid effectively for not working. If they do have to work on a stat holiday they will be paid a substantial overtime premium,” he explain. “Either way, it raises the costs of maintaining people on payroll.”
– Jock Finlayson of the BC Business Council

Now in no way am I disagreeing that an extra stat day can cause more expenses for standard employers. In fact its a huge concern. One of the biggest expenses of any employer is their employees. And with rising costs for pretty much everything, the last thing an employer wants to do is have to pay their employees more. Especially when they’re sitting at home being unproductive. But you would think that with an extra day off, and a paid one at that, these families with the extra free time will be out possibly spending a little bit more on goods or services. Unfortunately for these business’ discretionary spending is going down in response to the overwhelming debt concerns of the average Canadian.

So, we get an extra free day and the business associations are upset. Regular employees are upset – what gives? I would imagine the fact that many familes can’t or won’t budget to go fly out to Ontario which is why they’re upset their families will now not come out to them. Why they won’t come out may be based on a similar situation possibly. Each side has an extra day off. I may even be so bold as to question their desire to want to see each other if one little day not matching up is going to stop this momentuous reunion from occurring.

There are probably many valid reasons and many excuses why this free day off is just unacceptable. I, for one don’t want to have a valid reason or a valid excuse to not go and see my family. I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to have the government give me an extra day, and if I’m lucky, choose to have that day match other Family Days in other provinces to be able to make it work.

As a business owner, I love the fact that this extra stat day will not cost me a penny extra in employment costs. This is a fundamental reason why many companies are doing their best to drive their customers online to shop for their products. Less need for employees to show up to work to get paid valuable dollars in this recessionary market.
Yet the business model I participate in is questioned and second guessed to the hills.

And so it is with a surprised but bemused look on my face that I turn off my radio, get out of my car, and head out to get around some of the most uplifting, positive people that I know. Because if another free day off won’t fire up the regular working joe, god help us all.

~ Cameron