I popped out into this world into an environment of wealth. My grandfather had made a lot of money in the tubing business after World War II. So far so good. But when I looked around, I noticed that not everybody enjoyed my good fortune. Even I didn’t fully appreciate my good fortune. And, like a typical spoiled brat, I wanted more. On top of that, I was envious of those who had even more than I did!
As you already know, the golden rule is: “Those who have the gold make the rules.” I could have whatever it was my grandparents wanted to buy me, and sometimes, that was what I wanted. From early on, my problem was how to make my own money so I could buy whatever it was that I wanted, without begging, explaining, or selling.
Also, one of the questions I pondered was why I was so fortunate and others were not? Yeah, I felt some guilt and embarrassment because people were looking at me, and I couldn’t explain it. Was there a way to help others have what I had? Both so I could feel better, as well as have some friends to play with?
Wait a minute…
I couldn’t have any friends to play with unless they had more stuff? If I had more stuff then more people would like me? Or was I confusing envy with popularity? There it was…. To my 6-year old mind: Stuff = Popularity & Happiness.
While growing up, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “All you need is a good idea… sell it… and live happily ever after.” I guess it’s the American Dream. I heard it from my grandfather who founded a tubing distribution company after World War II. His company, TubeSales, became a successful worldwide distributor of industrial tubing.
Dinner table discussions were often about the tubing distribution business. When I was six, my grandfather imparted this wisdom to me: “You’ll never make any money working for somebody else.” He also advised, “Get a product (or invent one) and sell it.” This was the answer I thought I was looking for! I scrounged around the house looking for something to sell. Because my grandmother was on a political election committee, the next day I was in business for the first time, in our driveway, selling Ronald Reagan for Governor buttons for .25 cents each. My mom and grandmother each bought one. Not exactly the success I had dreamed of.
There must be a scheme for me to get rich on my own!?!
I figured that when I got rich on my own, I would help other people do it, too.
In college I majored in engineering and business, but I was crazy for finding something to do that was real…. I learned about a do-it-yourself used car lot concept, and I built and ran it from my fraternity bedroom. After college, I sold software for analyzing real estate investments. Next I sold electronic components for Texas Instruments, and after that, I sold financial software for mid-sized businesses.
Sales… selling… ugh! Was this what it took to get more stuff so people would like me? So, I reversed that – I got a job at the Sharper Image Catalog as the electronics buyer…. I knew electronics and I knew which stuff I’d buy. That worked. What a great job that was! Imagine having access to all that stuff! One weekend, another buyer and I were going skiing, so we went to the sample room to grab as much cool stuff as we could. After an hour, we looked at each other and all the stuff, and agreed that it was more trouble than it was worth. We put everything back and went skiing without it! Hmmm, stuff can be a burden.
During this time, I started reading books on business success and taking seminars on personal development. It never ceased to amaze me what changed in my world after I reconciled some immature assumption or idea left-over from my childhood. I learned that most realities were merely a point-of-view – often, someone else’s. When I changed my point-of-view, things changed. Sometimes everything changed. The telephone would ring from someone I hadn’t spoken to in years, or a customer would call in an order, and things like that. This kind of stuff really works. My frustrations and anxieties were transformed. I learned to use the BS of my past as fertilizer for my future! And this was the start of my new perspective of stuff.
Use the BS of your past as fertilizer for your future!
Back then, I thought I wanted to either get rich on something silly like a Pet Rock, or change the world with something serious like Penicillin, and I’d always wondered what happened to the inventions and other stuff featured in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics.
Some 22 years ago I learned about business plans. Before that I had heard little of them. I was surprised at how many business owners did not write a business plan at all. The owner/entrepreneur had some ideas in his/her head, and just went forward. If you’ve ever worked for these people, you’ve probably also experienced a lot of screaming and frustration.
I discovered that writing a business plan actually enabled others in the business, not only to understand the big picture, but to be pro-active, make better decisions, and work together to forward the action in favor of the big idea. A friend needed help writing his business plan to sell his software to Apple. I worked long and hard to develop what I thought was an elaborate brochure to sell his idea, at all levels of his business. He got the deal and my phone started ringing. A business plan is an unusual document, something most people rarely write, but while they are all very unique, there are specific characteristics that all require. Long story short, I invented a “template” that proved wildly effective.
Perhaps inventors and others could benefit from my business plan template. Perhaps supporting others to introduce their solutions for our world was better leveraging of my skills and a more important contribution for me to make to the world right now. This was cool stuff!
Being wealthy comes from being worthy.
Being worthy comes from progressive realization of a worthy cause. Throughout history, great minds from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein have studied causality. What is the cause that creates the effect? What is your cause? What is your cause that will create your effect? (From Roger Hamilton’s book, Your Life, Your Legacy.)
Today people buy – not just your product or service – buy WHY you developed your product or service. My favorite example is Patagonia. The founder & CEO is an avid outdoorsman, rock-climber, surfer, etc. I like the idea of buying a jacket from a guy who himself hangs on a cliff using his own equipment and keeps improving it for a better experience. He makes useful stuff for him to do what he likes to do – and you can have one, too.
My cause is to help others succeed in delivering their ideas, innovations and inventions to the world, to build their businesses, because that’s exactly what we need right now in this time of economic uncertainty. The point of this story is to put stuff into perspective. What kinds of stuff are you creating, and why?
At the end of the day, my best product is me. Your best product is you. Your business’ best product is a solution to someone’s problem. Something that makes someone’s pain go away. Something that provides joy to others. That’s the stuff they want.
Asked why people buy from me it’s because they want to buy from me. After all this time, the stuff I was looking for to make me attractive, liked, and happy was in me from the beginning. Today, I am more appreciative and thankful for that. (Read Paulo Coelho‘s The Alchemist) Working on my own stuff provides my best return on investment. Helping you evolve yourself to deliver the stuff we need in our world is what I love to do. And it’s working!
I wrote my book, Business Black Belt to share my favorite business and life lessons. Everything I learned from the workshops I participated in, from the consultants I worked with, from my experiences working for large and small companies, as well as for 20+ years invested in developing business-building software tools, I actually studied and documented what worked and what needed to be done differently. Think of it as a 20-year head-start in business and life. It’s full of actionable specifics for what you do AFTER you’ve taken the motivational seminars.
Although your life is your dojo, my niche is in your business being your dojo – where everyday events provide opportunities for growth. Here’s where I can help you to be, do, and have what you want.
About the Author
Burke Franklin is known as the man who’s helped “launch a million businesses” since he invented business planning software with his BizPlanBuilder®. Today, his Business Power Tools™ dashboard provides instant access to apps & templates for launching, funding, and building businesses. Burke’s highly praised book, Business Black Belt teaches 100+ conscious business practices and is rich in hard-won advice for building and running a business today. Burke is also an internationally sought-after speaker for entrepreneurial events.
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