Articles / Blog

Giving Back in Retirement

Retirement is a beautiful thing . . . I know, as I retired in November of 2015 and I'm having an absolute ball.

Since then, I have very blessed to be able to spend time with my three Grandchildren as well as travel extensively and begin to check-off things on my bucket list. Once the reality of retirement has settled into your core, however, you'll need to make sure and come-up with something of your own that provides you with PURPOSE. Not to say that spending time with the Grandchildren isn't extremely fulfilling, it certainly is. But your kids and their families are in the busiest moments of their lives so your time with the Grandchildren may be limited and there are twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. The bottom line is you are going to have to keep busy, so find something that you enjoy and dig-in!

Here is where I may be a bit different from others in retirement. I hate golf, I'm not much for hobbies either, so I decided to give back in an area that I'm pretty good at but also very fulfilling to me!

I'm helping start-ups and expanding small businesses write business plans, create compensation plans and pricing models as well as find investors or financing. I'm not accepting any money for this for a variety of reasons and I find it stimulating, fulfilling and interesting. And in the process, I meet start-ups at the very beginning of their business journey, long before venture capitol firms do, so I get a first crack at being an investor or equity partner.

My background was in sales and product management as I worked for Uniroyal, Eastman Kodak and Xerox for a combined 38 years. So my background is often very helpful to a start-up or small business. This is where you can do the same if you retired from a skilled position such as Human Resources, Accounting, Sales, Finance, Marketing, Management, Manufacturing, etc. as these start-ups and small businesses need help in all of these categories.

How I get engaged is simple . . . I have a few favorite coffee shops just walking distance from my home. I start every day at one of these and here is where I make it known to my pals that I am volunteering as a Start-Up Advisor. The rest, as they say, is history. I've worked with over a dozen so far; none from the industry I worked in which was technology & enterprise software. I personally have not invested in any of the businesses just yet, but I sure wish I had as one of them was already offered a nice seven-figure buyout by a large US Corporation which they politely declined.

So get involved, have some fun and create a new PURPOSE for your time and energy. You'll meet stacks of young, energetic and grateful entrepreneurs who may just become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in their field . . . and YOU will have played a role in their success!

Emoji Domain/Website Names are all the rage!

Up until very recently, your domain/website name had to be numbers and or characters with very few exceptions such as a dash. But thanks to innovative outliers in this industry, you can now acquire a domain/website name using an emoji instead of characters. I’ll not bore you with the technical details, so for now just know that it involves Unicode to ASCII character conversion and the reverse. Below are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Just for fun as well as an investment, I recently bought the following domain/website name . . . glass of beer, glass of beer, thumbs-up or in Unicode terms: www.xn—xj8ha74d.ws or in emoji terms, the following:

I did so largely because I saw that Budweiser (THE KING OF BEERS) bought a similar domain/website name below:  

So, if you input the above characters into the browser on your mobile device, it takes you to the main Budweiser website. Obviously, this takes some thought as there are literally thousands of emoji characters on your mobile device which takes us to reason #1 this is so important; mobile will be everything in the INTERNET of the future.

Now, imagine flying overseas and landing in a country you’re visiting for the first time. You’re not fluent in the language or familiar with its’ offerings. You are tired and hungry, but you just happen to remember this article, so you pick-up your mobile device and start typing in websites, not using numbers or letters but emoji characters, such as the domain/website below . . . pizza, chicken or in Unicode terms: www.xn—vi8hea.ws or in emoji terms, the following:

With location services enabled on your mobile device and someone in the food and beverage industry owning this domain/website name (today it’s mine) you could be directed to a restaurant or food delivery service immediately. This brings-up reason #2 . . . there is an international language advantage of owning an emoji domain/website name as not everyone on this planet currently speaks English nor do they need to.; but everyone speaks emoji! Your prospective audience is now GLOBAL, reaching up to 7.5 billion potential customers vs. just 360 million in the USA or 1 billion across the globe who speak English today. It’s a no-brainer!

Finally, I’ll touch on one last important factor . . . reason #3 that emoji domain/website names are and will be so vital to any business. As an executive in any industry . . . let’s use snowboarding as our example, not owning the generic domain/website name along with the emoji website for snowboarding may be short-sighted as your competition might grab it and/or hold it forever. Hopefully, you'll get an opportunity to acquire this “beachfront” piece of real estate someday, but I'd bet at potentially a much higher cost. If you’re not yet convinced of the ROI involved, just review what your business is currently spending on advertising, marketing and social media over the course of let’s say 5 years . . . do the math and you’ll see that owning the appropriate domain/website names along with the emoji name is a cheap date and one you can no longer afford to ignore.

Breaking News Hysteria . . .

Hysteria Reporting by our News Organizations . . .

When I was a kid, the rarely used term “BREAKING NEWS” was, without exception, reserved for a catastrophic event, such as a commercial jet airplane crash or the assassination of a president or prominent political figure.  That’s all been changed by our modern day news-gathering organizations and just about every evening here in my city of Phoenix the evening news begins with what they call BREAKING NEWS . . . and I’ve had a gut-full.  So you get an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll detail it for you from three recent news stories and you can be the judge. These examples are from both local as well as national news that have driven me to publish this brief article that I hope you take a moment to read . . .

  1. On the national news scene, I enjoy the national morning programs and for the most part they are simply awesome entertainment. However, lately when there is a large storm or heat wave covering the USA, they broadcast headlines of hysteria, such as “27 million Americans are in danger of the heat wave covering our Midwest” or “40 million Americans are at risk of severe weather today”. Give me a frickin break . . .
  2. On the local front, Phoenix has become the worst regarding so called BREAKING NEWS. We happen to have excellent reporters, many have gone on to national positions but in what can only be a poor attempt to get ratings, every evening newscast starts with BREAKING NEWS. Three weeks ago, what was deemed as the “breaking news story de jour” was this, and I kid you not . . . “A home in Phoenix was raided by police officials and it was determined that the owner was hording animals. Over 30 dogs were found inside, some thirsty and hungry”. Really? Now I love dogs like all good apple-pie eating Americans. But come one people, not one of these dogs died and this is breaking news? . . . my ass it was!
  3. Third and last in my examples of new organizations gone hysterical was a breaking news story . . . an Amber Alert was issued . . . which, again I feel is a great thing for quickly identifying the potential kidnapping of youth. This particular alert was for a child that had not come home from school. A couple of hours later it was determined that this child had decided to go to a friend’s home after school. The alert was quickly rescinded and the all-clear was issued. Crying wolf one too many times will end-up counterproductive and people listening to may no longer pay attention if we don’t do our due diligence prior to issuing these alerts.

Come on people, let’s put some pressure on our news organizations to be less hysterical and reel it in. The world can be awful enough with terrorism and refugees fleeing terrible places to live without us pouring more gasoline on the fire and getting our briefs in a knot over a whole lot of nothing.

By the way, what pushed me over the edge tonight to write this silly post was the national evening news reporting on last evenings monsoon rains here in Phoenix. This was comparable to what I’d call an average Indiana thunderstorm that would happen maybe once a week this time of year. But if you didn’t live hear and experience it yourself, you’d believe that everyone’s cars got washed down the river and we all are desperate. Well I was here and although it was one hell of a rainstorm, in reality it was no big deal for those of us wise enough to not try and drive our cars through a foot of water. They called it “a hundred-year event” and of course that translates to . . . you got it, BREAKING NEWS.

Communication Costs way too much . . .

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It used to be that your largest monthly expense was your house payment followed by your car and then a long list of other items that were all usually under $100 per month. Today, however a category I'll simply bulk as COMMUNICATIONS has passed your car payment and is now in second place, which is a crime in my book. Would you rather have all this crap or a brand new car? Let's take a look . . . 

For starters, you don't need a major cell phone company service to use a smart phone. There are, in fact many cellular companies that use the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL from my previous blog article to run their business on and the one I use is Republic Services. I'm not sure exactly how it works but I assume that they buy the excess capacity from the big boys so they can offer an internet only phone, often called VOIP (voice over IP) model for just $10 per month for all you can eat voice and text. And if you want to add full cell phone service as well, then its just $15 per month. If you compare this to what you are paying, which may be over $100 per month, it's a huge savings. And yes, I have all the latest apps on my cell phone so that when I'm a coffee shop or at home with wireless access, I get my emails and all the apps anyone could ever want.

Next, do what your kids have already figured out . . . dump the land line and get rid of your FAX machine along with your 1980's records. Come on people, it's 2016. If you have to FAX something, take a picture with your cell phone and email it to them.

Next, if you are a sports junkie, you probably have cable TV along with an expensive sports package. That is certainly over $100 per month and probably closer to $200. I simply have a digital TV antenna that I bought at COSTCO for $42 and I get over 60 channels, including all the major networks of ABC, CBS, NBC, CW and several movie channels along with weather and news for the grand sum of $0 per month. Want more movies? So did I, so for less than $10 per month enroll in Netflix and get access to thousands of movies plus some great FREE original content such as ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and GRACE & FRANKIE; simply some of the best TV I have ever seen.

Finally, you don't have to pay thru the roof for high speed internet. I just installed XFINITY for $19.95 per month and the speed is plenty fast; fast enough to stream my Netflix movies faster that I can watch them. And if I'm out-and-about, they have amazing HOT ZONES where you can log into high speed internet, even outside of some football stadiums.

All-up, all-in . . . my total monthly bill for COMMUNICATIONS is under $50 per month including tax tax and yours can be too . . . don't buy into this new obsession with being in touch 24/7, just do the math and answer this one question. Would you rather keep spending what you are today and drive your old car or sharpen your pencil and have all the communications you need AND a brand new TESLA or BMW? I don't know about you, but that's a NO-BRAINER in my book!

Excess Capacity Business Model

Taking the world by storm for a variety of logical business reasons is the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL. You may not have heard of it by name, but it's been around for centuries. Simply stated, it's when businesses make money selling or leasing the extra capacity of their core business.

I first encountered the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL when I was selling Digital Production Printers to established traditional ink and water or what we called offset printers. One such printer was in the Southwest part of the United States.  He had been in business for dozens of years and was considered a bell-weather indicator by a major university. He shared with me this EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL as one of his success business principals. Before he would purchase a million dollar offset printing press, he would sell contracts for the excess capacity to several smaller printers, thus having this huge investment paid for by his smaller competitors before he even finalized an agreement to purchase the press from the manufacturer. This brilliant idea is now being replicated by today's incredibly successful and innovative businesses such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb to name just a few. So who will be the next "unicorn" to emerge using this brilliant business strategy?

Going back to the 1800's, this business model was successfully implemented by farmers and ranchers who had more land than they could farm or ranch. Realizing that they could lease the land to up-and-coming farmers and ranchers who were not in a position to purchase the needed land made for a great business decision and partnership.

Fast forward a couple of centuries, the US dwindling middle-class has not realized a true increase in income in some 20 years. I'm a classic example of this, averaging a nice six-figure income as a technology salesman in the mid-1990's, but then 20 years later nearly 18% less. But with more hours required to create less income, we had no choice but to either reduce lifestyle for our families or find a supplemental income to make up the difference.

Airbnb, Uber, Lyft as well as others have brilliantly recognized this need for additional income and they've matched it with their offering delivery requirements. This creates a win-win for these start-ups utilizing the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL and who partner with the middle-class who are striving to earn more and get back on track with desperately trying to implement the AMERICAN DREAM.

The EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL has the opportunity to become the next big thing in business today for a variety of sound business reasons but, in my opinion, mostly because the delivery methodology already exists within millions of potential affiliates; eager and anxious to adopt a side job that will end their diminishing income levels and help them continue to realize the American Dream. Just think how long it took General Motors and Ford to build-up their delivery model consisting of thousands of automobile dealerships around the country, each requiring dozens of sales, service and administrative positions to be filled.

Fast forward another five or ten years, who will be the next up-and-coming innovative business to come up with another sector utilizing the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL; and why do we care? It's important because these few companies that I mentioned previously rose from nothing to multiple billions in value largely because their use of the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL offering them a ready-to-go delivery methodology. Any clues you ask? I've heard rumblings of long-term airport vehicle parking lots that pay you to leave the care with them versus charge you for parking as the car can be used by someone needing to rent a car in the same city you are departing. I've heard of start-ups using the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL to deliver groceries, prescriptions, food, etc. in their spare hours. Sub-leasing your car to these delivery and driver companies is yet a another one. And just last week, a 12 year old daughter of a friend mentioned that she rented a fedora hat for two months for $7 from her school friend who had many hats to spare.

According to a 2016 article in the LA Times, UBER is an example of a company who is not even 6 years old and will do in excess of $25B in sales in 2016. Industry experts value UBER over $62B, so knowing who are the innovative minds working to become the next start-up using the EXCESS CAPACITY BUSINESS MODEL is like panning for gold in California in the mid-1800s.

Monetizing Your Blog . . .

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If you don’t think you can make money with a blog, just ask my daughter. There are stacks of success stories about blogs that started-out as a hobby, and then turned  into full time businesses in just a few years. Some are even successful enough to achieve a six-figure monthly income, not annually. Yes, you heard me right . . . a six-figure income per month, and these bloggers are confident enough to display their high-achieving income statements in plain, simple English right on their blog for the world to see.

How is this possible?  It’s hard work, of course; anything worth doing is worth doing right. But you’ll be surprised to learn that there are proven formulas for success that, if followed to a T, your blog just might replace your full-time job and make you the “Master of Your Domain”.

Click below to read an outstanding article that will walk you through 4 simple steps to starting your own blog along with do-it-yourself tools to help get you there.

http://www.kristimurphy.com/how-to-start-a-diy-blog

Common Sense & Motivation . . .

As we drool over this weeks' new smartphones with app after bloody app that promise to make our lives easier, more fulfilling. . . have we completely lost all common sense? 

Having worked in Corporate America for 37 of my 59 years, I have been incredibly blessed to have what I consider a very rewarding sales career. Aside from making a good living, I have meet some of the best business leaders on the planet, attended a dinner party with a US President, I've met authors, technology leaders, and communicated with hundreds of "C" level business executives across multiple industries. Lately, however I’m seeing a huge lack of good old fashion common sense which is becoming more the norm than the exception. Rather than bore you with examples of miserable failures of common sense, I’ll focus on just one very good example of using common sense & motivation that I hope you can appreciate as much as I do.

True big-picture, long-term motivation is rarely understood by business leaders. In my opinion, maybe 1 in 10 get it. In fact those of you self-proclaimed alpha-leaders possessing all answers just quit reading now and simply follow George Costanza's advice . . . “do the complete opposite of what you are doing today” and you’ll probably increase your bottom line. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=32&v=cKUvKE3bQlY

For those of you eager to read-on, here is the absolute favorite good news HOW TO business story of my entire 37 year career. And since this is a good news story, I’ll call this person out by name as he is a master of motivation and business acumen. His name is Jule Limoli and he was our VP of Sales back in the mid-1990s in Phoenix, AZ where I was a product manager supporting a very savvy team of technical sales professionals. One of our largest customers ordered seven mainframe production printers totaling $3.5M. My before tax commission on the sale was $70K . . . more than I had earned the entire previous year. HQ called Jule and said something like “we can’t pay such a large commission on this transaction and we must invoke the large order rule”. For those of you not in sales, the so-called “large-order rule” is a policy that some companies have in place to help manage unusual performance spikes. Certainly a company wouldn’t want a sales rep making more money than their senior VPs now would they? Well, to make a long story short Jule gave this person in the commissions group a piece of his mind and said something like “Don’t you dare or Murphy will be done for the year and probably quit.” Truer words were never spoken and thankfully Jule pushed-back hard and my commission arrived, paid in full. What happened next was something only a true business leader & master motivator could ever understand. Remember I sold seven printers worth $3.5M to earn that $70,000 commission check? I was so motivated by Jule and his support of me that I went on to sell double that number and earned one of our top sales awards we call President’s Club. It didn't stop there, I continued on to earn President's Club six out of the next seven years and booked almost thirty million dollars of revenue . . . all because I had a VP with good common sense who understood the BIG PICTURE and exactly how to motivate his sales organization.

People, we need to reinstate common sense back into our business lives and FAST. We can follow the corporate structure rules to a tee but end-up having to close the doors if we continue missing the point of everything due to a serious lack of common sense. Business leaders, look long-term, always do the right thing and use your God Given common sense . . . it will make your job much easier and along the way you might just earn the respect of your employees . . . who by the way will have your back and never consider another job. I’m in my 32nd year with the same company and a large part of why I am still here was and is Jule Limoli.