Monday, December 15, 2014

ROI- College Education

Indiana University

Yes, I went to Indiana University.  It is a beautiful and fun place to go to school.  During these years, I learned a ton about growing up, accounting, dealing with others and made some amazing life long friends.  Both Judy and I wanted this experience for our kids.  Thankfully we had the means, as did my father, of providing this education to my kids.  It didn't bankrupt my dad and it didn't bankrupt me.

But things have changed. 

Over these past years, the cost of education has continued to grow.  Now, it is feasible that a student would graduate with $100-200,000 in student loans.

Many kids have got to consider what they plan to do with this investment that they have to make in themselves.  Are they planning on becoming a teacher?  Do they want to do social work?  These are great careers and will provide great tangible and intangible rewards.  But will they be able to pay off these student loans?

Today, there are so many other ways for kids to get a degree (which I still think is important for many people) that are FAR cheaper than that traditional college step.  There are many on-line universities today that provide a high quality education.  And they do it at a fraction of the cost. 

I know that means not having the same experience as their parents and maybe their friends are having.  But in 10 years, while they are debt free and have purchased there first house... that friend is still not able to finish the loan repayment.  Much less consider buying a house!

Consider experiences to round out that education.  Take a year and go to China to teach English.  Go to Alaska and work on the fishing boats. 

As Apple says, Think Different!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Trade Shows- Why attend? How to attend?

I have been attending the Long Beach Hair Show since 1989.  Most of those years, this show was on Super Bowl weekend.  But as most attendees are female, it did not hurt the attendance. 

Since I sold my business, I have not exhibited at this show.  (Frankly, it has had some ebbs and flows in terms of its popularity.)  But this year it seemed to be well attended and the quality of the attendee seemed to be pretty good. 

As I talk to many different vendors throughout the show floor, each vendor sees the show completely differently.  Some vendors said the show was WAY down from last year.  Some vendors say it is the best show is years.  And others say that it was about the same.  The show organizer told me that the ticket sales over the past 3 years has been about the same.

So why the huge disparity from the vendors?  I would say it is because each vendor is at a different stage in their development.  Some companies are brand new to the show.  Some have been coming for years.  And some are still building a presence. 

For the new vendors, they have exciting booth presence, a solid product, and positive people working the show.  These vendors steal the show usually.

Existing vendors have already been seen by these regular attendees.  What makes them stand out and require attendees to look again?  They MUST have new items, new booth, or be constantly be renewing relationships with existing customers

The rest of the vendors just feed off of the traffic of the show.  Many of the vendors sell the same product for the same price.  The only thing that sets them apart is their booth location and the people behind the booth.  Unless you are in the business of doing trade shows, I see know reason to attend to see vendors like this.

But for me, each time I attend a trade show I learn.  In my 6 hours at the show, I likely had 60 conversations.  In each conversation I ask, what's new and exciting?  People would tell me about their brand, their personal life, or their customers.  After the show, I will follow up on a couple of solid product leads... that is new places for me to sell Mirabella.  Second, I will follow up with new relationships that I made.  Perhaps nothing will come for my business, but I can always learn from others.  It can give me a great or different perspective about the industry.

The only people that I hate to visit with are people who are stuck in a rut.  They act like nothing new is happening.  They think only negative thoughts of the future.  These people will drag you down! 

Personally, I like speaking with the people who are actually making new things happen.  I spoke to a manufacturer who was us 20% on the west coast... who had been selling out here for 20 years!  I spoke to a new brand that opened 150 new salons from the show last year... and expect to do even better this year.

Its all about your attitude isn't it?  If you hang around with a bunch of people that think everything is bad... it likely will be.  If you speak with people who are positive about the future, you will likely think the same.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Setting your kids up for success with money matters...

Over the years I have spoken to so many parents that tell me they feel like an ATM machine for their kids.  Kid wants to go to lunch with his friends, ask for money.  Kid wants to go to prom, ask for money.  Kid wants to go to the movies, ask for money.

Now this is all great if you want to turn your kids into beggers.  But if you want your kids to develop money management skills, this is NOT the best way to help them handle finances.

Luke 17, Austin 20, Judy and I, Andrew 23 and his wife, Sierra
Our kids didn't really spend any money before they got their licence.  So when they turned 16, I brought them to the bank.  We established a checking account with a debit card.  Plus we established a credit card for them.  Each one of my kids had a little money saved over the years from birthdays and odd jobs.  So we transfered that money to their new account.  And they get a monthly check for $200 from us.  (You might think that is too high or too low.  The amount is not as important as the skills you are teaching them.)

Our kids did not get jobs in High School as they were all athletes and good students spending their time doing that.  If your kids have jobs, more power to you!

With that money, they were responsible to pay for all of their entertainment.  They had to pay for the gas in their car.  They had to pay for the movies or lunches with friends.  If they wanted to go to prom, they had to save up.

Each month, they got the bills for the credit card.  And they had to manage their checking account.  Each month, they would have to make decisions on what they would and would not do based upon their bank balance, not mine!  When I go to the movies, I always get popcorn.  When they go to the movies now, they skip the popcorn.

Fast forward to college. 

When they graduate from High School, the allowance ended.  They needed to get a job and pay for their entertainment on their own.  (We had the means to pay for the schooling, fortunately.)  During the summers and at school, they found ways to make those ends meet with different jobs. 

My oldest son finished college in 3 years.  And my next son is on that same path.  They are motivated to get out into the world and begin their lives. 

Yes, perhaps they are missing out on the fun of college life, but I am hoping I prepared them to live independently.  A pastor friend of mine once told me, "Our job raising our kids is NOT to protect them, it is to PREPARE them."  That thought has always rang in my ear and helps me as I negotiate parenting my 3 men.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The REAL key to achievement!

This past year at Mirabella, we started the year hoping to open 1,000 salons and achieve $7.8 MM in sales.  Currently we have only 1,400 salons selling our product and our sales were barely over $6 MM.

Those are some HIGH goals!  I like to reach high.  What is the worst thing that happens?  You miss them?  No problem.

The challenge with that for the organization is that if you set goals that are potentially unattainable, it demoralizes your team and has a negative affect on morale.

While I was reading the book The Element by Ken Robinson, he talked about the teaching profession.  In this profession, they classify the steps to education as:
  • Curriculum
  • Pedagogy
  • Assessment
The school administration sets the curriculum for each subject.  Then most schools set goals for how well the students should learn the subject, assessment.  They miss the most important step which is pedagogy, or how to teach the subject.  What are the actual activities that a teacher must go through to make certain that the curriculum accomplishes the assessments that school wants to achieve.

Much is made of the standardized tests that students take.  Those assessments could be valid.  But the real question is, if the method of teaching was altered to help EVERY student learn the curriculum in such a way that everyone got it.  Everyone's assessments would be close to the top.

I am not in that business, so I cannot know if that is true.

But it made a profound impact on me in my company!

Thinking back to those enormous goals I set for the company.  What was wrong?  I set goals-- curriculum.  And I set goals-- assessment.  What I didn't do is pedagogy (I like this word!).  I didn't change the activities of our company to achieve these goals.

In 2014, we realize our success is based upon distributor store success.  So our activity is to be at 4 meetings per year to speak with all 700 of these store managers.  Our other activity is events.  We know that if salons will do events in their salons, they will sell a lot that night.  But more importantly, they will bring the focus back to our makeup within their salon.  And every day for a little while they will sell more.

In 2014, we are pedagogy based.  I still set goals and will do assessments each month on how we are doing.  But the big change is we are changing the activities.  By making good activities, we should have good results!

Go Mirabella!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Contentment verses Competition

As a Christian, we are to be content with the circumstances that God has you in.  But we strive for more and more.  Is that OK?

I am a very competitive person.  I love to win.

So how do you balance these two realities?  Can I still be content in what situations that God has me in and still be striving for more, being competitive?

Yes!  Throughout Proverbs, it teaches many times to NOT be lazy.  There are many passages that talk about the rewards for those who work hard.

So you work hard, striving to do your best, but you cannot pay your mortgage?  You are giving your all to make your business successful, but you are behind where you were last year.

It is very hard to be content with this circumstance.  I would rather be content and successful!  But sometimes, God doesn't have that for us.  Sometimes we need to learn to be content in the failures of life.  We need to be OK with the fact that your best was NOT good enough.

God could be teaching me something about dependence.  Perhaps all my hard work will only get me so far.  Without HIS blessing, without HIS hand of you; all of our striving will be for naught. 

Keep striving for your dreams!

But be content in the circumstances you find yourself!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Much to be thankful for...

My son Luke just returned from a missions trip to Haiti.  For anyone who has served in this way, you get the sense that you are going to do this work for the people.  You are going to fix roads, build fences and encourage the local missionaries.  But that is not how God sees it. 
Luke and his friends during the work in Haiti

He always does much more IN YOU than He does through you.  Luke is a great kid.  But he, like all of us, takes for granted the amazing life that we enjoy in the US. 

After spending a week in Haiti, he fell in love with the people.  Even though they had almost nothing, they had joy.  He played duck, duck, goose with some of the orphans and now wants to sponsor them.  He saw how the other 95% of the world live.  Very sobering, very humbling.

He cannot stand social media now as the kids his age complain about the stupidest things.  For example, they don't have to get their water from a polluted river.  His friends will likely not have to beg for their meals today. 

I am proud of my son.  But convicted as well.  How can I let the problems of my day in any way get me down?  Traffic, aches and pains, business setbacks... hey I have a God who loves me, a wife who is my best friend, amazing kids, and I love my job. 

Thanks for the reminder Luke!

Monday, November 11, 2013

What are the Keys to being in the Zone?

Recently I read a book called The Element.  It has already inspired one of my recent blog posts.   The idea of the book is that for us to be all that we are going to be, we have to be in our element.  And your element is kind of like your sweet spot.  Another way he describes it is these following words:
  • aptitude
  • passion
  • attitude
  • opportunity

These words lead you to learning what your element is. 

First you need to have the aptitude at it.  For example, you might think you want to be an engineer, but if you fail your math and physics courses in high school, you might not have the aptitude to pursue that career.  For me, I took an accounting class in high school and it totally clicked.  It just made sense.  Many of my friends thought it was hard.  I could not understand how they couldn't get it!  

In college, I took my first music class, piano.  I could slowly but surely learn how to apply the keys to make different notes.  But when we put it together to make a tune, I fell far behind all of the other students in class.  I think my teacher quickly assessed I should not make music my career!  Zero aptitude.

Second, do you have a passion for that which you are gifted?  Ideally, the things you are good at you love.  You love it so much that you don't consider it work to spend time doing that activity.  You think about it when you are not doing it.  You talk to people everywhere you go about this passion.

Next, the aptitude and passion should produce an attitude.  This attitude should be of perseverance, self-belief, optimism and ambition.  Sadly, many of us don't have this attitude because of the life we grew up within.  Perhaps your home wasn't very encouraging.  You may have been one of those who wasn't "intelligent" as the world might judge it (standardize testing and traditional school).  These sorts of things will definitely get in the way of your success.  It is impossible to succeed without the attitude that believes you CAN!

And finally opportunity plays a role in being in our element.  The example he uses in the book about the cowboy who grows up in Antarctica.  He may have the first 3 but in that he is not in a place to succeed, it doesn't happen.  I would also say that if you are middle class or above, you likely have a much better opportunity to be in your element, discover your element.

Putting these all these together allows those to succeed.  These are generally the people that you meet who say they don't think of work as work.  Rather they LOVE what they do for a living.  This is a great joy!  I feel that is where I have been.  I started my own business then worked for a family business.  And now I run a makeup company.  I have always loved the chance to set my own path.  I have enjoyed the risks and rewards of setting that path.  I have certainly not always succeeded, but regardless, I have an aptitude for business.  I have a passion for it.  I was raised in an environment where everything seemed possible giving me the right attitude.  And finally, I was raised in a family business.  I had the opportunity to learn about business every day at dinner.  We had the means to send me to college.  All this has allowed me to be in my element.  I have always LOVED what I have done! 

I trust this is you as well!  Work takes up way too much of our time to NOT love it!