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Chris LoCurto

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December 17, 2010

Let Me Tell You Something

December 17, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

There’s always “that guy” who wants to tell you how your thing needs improvement. How you could have done it better. Why you should change what it is that you’re doing. Okay, it can be “that girl” as well. Whether it be a brother-in-law, a grandmother, a co-worker, a client, or the guy at the end of church service who waits for everyone to leave, so he can correct the pastor on his sermon. No matter who it is, most of us will grit our teeth, or bite our tongue, and say, “Wow, thanks. I really appreciate that!” Okay, maybe there’s one person out there who genuinely likes that time of criticism. Me, not so much!

However, I have discovered in all of my years of leadership, and studying personality styles, that more than not that person is trying to help. I know, you’re like, WHATEVER! But again, most of the time it’s true. They just don’t know how to express it correctly. Okay, maybe correctly is a selfish term. How about, in a way that works for the recipient?

They usually are a high task and detail kind of person who processes differently than most people. The important thing to realize is that if you learn to communicate with this person, you would be amazed at how much they have to offer. In fact, handled correctly, you can build a relationship where they feel needed, and you have someone to give great input into things you might be missing. “Well that just sounds like you’re using them.” It is, if you don’t actually have a heart and care about that person. The truth is, they LOVE to make you look good. They get pleasure out of serving. It’s just that nobody has taken the time to understand them, how they think, how they process, or why they approach situations and opportunities the way they do.

So the next time you come across this person, instead of shooting daggers from your eyes into their skull, take the time to sit down and talk out their suggestion(s) with them. How did they come to it? Why do they see it that way? What other options do they have for solutions? And then ask them if there is anything else they want to share. You will start to see this person in a whole new light. You’ll begin to see an ally instead of an enemy. Trust me…just ask them about it. :)

Have you ever had that person in your life? How did you react?

Chris LoCurto

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December 16, 2010

Don’t Touch That!

December 16, 2010 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Theif caught in the act

Image by GollyGforce – on a new quest via Flickr

Ann Brenoff posted a couple of months ago about an armored truck in Indianapolis that dropped a few boxes of cash on the street. People slammed on their brakes, leaped from their cars, and grabbed as much money as they could. Then they took off with their new-found blessing. At least that must be the way they saw it. I’m a little shocked, although I probably shouldn’t be, that people would not see that as stealing. It took a guy picking what was left up, putting it in his car, and waiting for the police for people to stop taking the money. Ann feels that this is a sign of the economical times hitting people so hard that they would be willing to steal. Hmmmm.

We were on vacation in Orlando sitting out at the pool waiting to watch one of the Harry Potter movies on a big screen they put out there. The movie is so not important to this story, but it was pretty cool to watch a movie on a big screen at a pool. Anyway, we were working on our iPads when a couple from England sat down next to us. The husband immediately made a comment about our iPads and shared how they both have them. He then ran back to his room, grabbed his iPad, ran back, and began to show us how to “jailbreak” it and get whatever applications you want. He then made the comment, “why not, they’ve been stickin’ it to us for years!” I can’t help but wonder who they are. Where do you find “they”? Should there be a www.they.com that you could blame for all of your hardships in life? To the best of my knowledge, most of the they’s are people or small business that created an application that make my life either easier or more fun. I’m not really sure how they have “stuck” it to me for so long. Maybe I’m ignorant about how I’m being taken advantage of by the guy who created iThoughts, which makes my life so much easier, and he only charged me $9.99 for it. Hmmmm.

While I think the issue of stealing is deeper than just hard economic times, (I’m Christian you see) I do know that when you follow God’s principles for handling money, you don’t need to steal. In fact, you have no desire to steal. Crazy thing is that when you come to the realization who it actually belongs to, a natural result is you becoming more of a giver. Does that mean you won’t fall on hard times, heck no! It just means your dependency becomes less on survival like wild animals, and more on trust that He will provide for you every day. “Well that’s easy to say sitting where you are now, on the other side of this kind of stuff!” Ha! I laugh at you! (Which is really me since I’m writing this) If that’s what you’re thinking, they you’re definitely someone who doesn’t know my history personally. More importantly, if you feel that way, then you’re most likely in the situation I’m talking about. Try something different. Try changing. Try spending time on your knees asking for help. You’ll be amazed at the outcome.

I would love to hear your comments on either of these two situations, or some that you have experienced. I may just put a post out of those comments in response to this post. Let’s see.

Chris LoCurto

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December 15, 2010

No Trust For The Church

December 15, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Dollar Coins

The place that we should trust the most is becoming the place that some people trust less and less. At least when it comes to the area of handling money. A group of us were brainstorming the other day on ways to help churches get out of debt. During the meeting we were spending some time on why people don’t give when one of the guys in the group said, “people don’t trust the church with their money!” It hit me like a ton of bricks…or feathers…either way it was heavy. I’ve been working to help people with their finances for over ten years. For that same amount of time I’ve been helping churches. And while there are many reasons as to why people don’t give, (not understanding why God has them to give is what we hear more than anything) trust is definitely one of the problems. I’ve known it for years, but it took somebody saying it out loud for it to hit home.

We spend our time trying to teach people how to live on a plan. Spend money on purpose, get out of debt, save, invest, give like mad! The problem with that last one comes in when people turn to their church to see that the church isn’t doing the other things. They watch churches going deep into to debt, putting up a buildings they can’t afford, and then cutting ministry out like crazy because they don’t have the money for the debt that they’ve acquired. In Why The Church Is Broke! I talked about how there is no difference in how God wants people to handle His finances, and how He wants the church to as well.

The incredible thing that we have seen lately is, when a church starts to follow God’s plan in the area of money, the people rally behind the church like warriors! They don’t just get behind the church, they take up a sword and run into the battle. In Momentum we have testimony after testimony of churches bragging on how their people accelerated the debt payoff by giving more when the church stood up and took responsibility for doing it the wrong way.

Again, trust isn’t the number one reason people don’t give, it’s just another one. The goal needs to be removing all obstacles that are in the way of keeping people from seeing God’s will for their life.

Comment on how you feel, or have felt about the church handling money.

Chris LoCurto

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December 14, 2010

Be Quiet

December 14, 2010 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Shhh...

Image by Move The Clouds via Flickr

Occasional random thought. There are so many times in this life that the hardest thing in the world to do is to be quiet. Even when we’re all by ourselves, the super highway of thoughts never seem to stop. When I get away from the chatter of people, all I hear is the chatter of my own mind going a thousand miles an hour. Being a high D, that’s just how my mind works. Did I make the right decisions today? Was I rude to the cashier at lunch? Why does my dog love me so much? I really need to call my parents! I need to call my Uncle Benito in Italy! I so wish I had a new pair of jeans that fit!! Anyone else feel that way? Especially about the jeans? (I know, it’s a weight thing.)

It’s during these times that I also have a tendency to doubt that everything in my life is going the way I think it should. That I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. I allow things to creep into to my brain that tell me I should be worried, I should panic, I should make some drastic changes. And although I am so not the kind of guy who normally asks God why something is the way it is, but I have done it…once. :-) I still don’t have the much-needed answer on that one thing, but it’s not always for me to know God’s ways. No matter how frustrating, no matter how painful, sometimes He just doesn’t clue me in. Or perhaps, I just don’t get quiet enough to hear the answer. As a dear friend of mine Ron Cook reminded me, God never stops talking to us, we just have to learn what His voice sounds like! The problem, I believe, is sometimes we’re not actually listening.

There is one scripture I have…clung to in times like this. Psalms 62:5, “My soul, wait silently on God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” It took me a long time to figure out what that actually meant, and I’m sure I still only understand part of it. What I have learned is that I have to quiet the craziness that is inside of my head. I need to calm my soul down and allow God to do His thing. Sometimes, in those moments, I’m actually able to hear what He’s trying to say. The things I couldn’t hear over me! If I will trust what Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”, then I can trust that He will show me the answers that I need. That He will make a way for the things that He wants in my life. What’s the worst that could happen? I spend some time focused on Him instead of me, and at least it should be calming to the super highway in my head. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll even get that pair of jeans I want so badly.

Chris LoCurto

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December 13, 2010

The Red Mist

December 13, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

There are two types of racing that I love: alpine skiing and formula car, both of which I continue to participated in. Growing up in Tahoe we tore teams apart on a regular basis. We were a bunch of misfits, kinda like the Bad News Bears. Some of the kids were from broken homes and some from broke families, but put us in the gates and step back. There were times that we would go to a ski hill and the team there would have matching jackets, pants, hats, everything. They would make fun of us for a while, but that only added fuel to the fire for us. When we got to the awards ceremony we were the ones with big grins. To this day whenever I go skiing I have to find a place with a race course and crash the gates.

Over the past few years I have been racing formula cars. I started in a Formula 2000 and worked my way up to a Formula 3 (pic above). The funny thing is that you never lose that desire to blow everybody away. From the moment I got in the car, all I’ve wanted to do is win…and have fun…but mainly win. Which I did my first race at Sears Point in Sonoma. So it came as no surprise to me what happened at Mid Ohio. I was racing way out of my league with guys who have raced several years longer than me. I was working my qualifying laps just trying to put down some good times and not worrying about the better drivers. I had a bad exit out of one of the turns, so I was passed by two cars going into the next turn. And that’s when everything changed.

I totally forgot about my times and completely focused on running down those two cars. I caught one six turns later and dove really hot into a hair pin. I made it but got really loose, lost the back-end but caught it in time. This cost me momentum, and all I could think about was catching the other guy. In that moment I made a decision that would…thwart my plans. I short shifted in a corner taking away all power to the wheels that were holding me like glue on the track. It was a stupid mistake that I KNEW not to do, but I did it. I lost the back-end, headed for the concrete wall. I worked that steering wheel back and forth like Miles Davis and John Coltrane trading solos! (If you don’t know them, shame on you! Look up their competitions.) By the grace of God I caught pavement, whipped it in the other direction, and went off the side of the track with the gravel trap.

When I was in the pits explaining it to another driver he said, “ahhhh, you saw the red mist!” It’s an old road racing term that means you’ve become so focused on something that you begin to make bad judgments. All you see is a red mist. That was me!

I think some of us have a tendency to do that in life from time to time. As sales people we want to beat every salesperson around us. As leaders we want to be smarter and have better ideas than other leaders. As administrative people we want to serve more, better, and faster than others. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s when it becomes the driving force, and all we see is winning no matter what the cost. That’s when we make fatal errors.

What are some ways that you have experienced red mist?

Chris LoCurto

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December 10, 2010

You Should Retire

December 10, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Retirement

Image by The Rocketeer via Flickr

Well, maybe not this minute, but someday. Okay, I actually can’t see myself ever really retiring. If you can do something you love, and you’re called to, why would you stop doing it? According to Rabbi Daniel Lapin there isn’t a word in the Hebrew for retire. It’s an understanding to the Jewish people that you work until God calls you Home. Lapin also explains that worship actually derives from us honoring God with our work. That we are to worship God in our work. Check out Colossians 3:23-24. Therefore, they believe retirement is in Heaven. Now there’s nothing wrong with retiring from a specific job and moving onto what God has for you, but do yourself a favor and save like you’re going to retire for good.

With that said, Jewish people do believe that the wise store up for the future. That you should have so much that you can leave an inheritance to your children’s children. Baby, that’s a lot! That means you have to be saving for a long time so that you have enough to take care of generations. But today, that seems almost impossible to do the way we’re spending everything we have.

Some parents are concerned about just paying for college, much less leaving an inheritance. Sandra Block pointed out in her column a survey from “How America Saves for College” that shows nearly 25% of parents are using a retirement account for their kids college. Folks….seriously? First off, you’re cheating yourself in so many ways. You’ll lose out on the growth, you’ll increase your taxable income in the year you withdraw the money, and you won’t have that money at retirement, which is the biggest issue. And second, the truth is that your kids can actually do something that I mentioned in Stiffed Again!, work. Yes, they can actually hold down a job and go to school at the same time.

My daughter Chelsea worked her way through college. She worked some nights, some weekends, and through the summer. Was she tired? Heck yeah, but she graduated without any debt! She’s been teaching for a year and a half and she has something most teachers don’t have…money in the bank. I was so proud of a young man I met in Vegas after I was speaking at Canyon Ridge. He came up to me and asked if he was doing the right thing by working through school and not taking out any loans. YES MY BOY!!! When I explained to him where he would be after college compared to his friends, he got this huge smile and chuckled. Then I explained where he could be when he was at retirement age and he was shocked!

The greatest thing is that young man has a plan. How about you? Is your goal to keep working like crazy, spend everything you have, and wonder why you have no options later on? I suggest changing that plan. Stop spending everything you have and start saving for the future. It doesn’t take much, just the decision to stop living the way you have been.

What are your thoughts on saving for the future?

Chris LoCurto

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December 9, 2010

Stiffed Again!

December 9, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

I’m a big tipper! That is just a fact. And it comes from having been a server. It’s my belief that all teenagers should be required to do two things before entering the rest of their life:

  • Work on a farm and actually come to an understanding of what hard work looks like. I don’t know a single person who has, that didn’t have an incredible work ethic!
  • Work as a waiter/waitress in a restaurant and learn what it means to serve.

Now, I understand the farm one is a little difficult due to the actual numbers of farms and the need for workers. BUT RESTAURANTS ARE EVERYWHERE! The need to serve is laid out before us. The call from on high, “Go forth ye and serve!” In my mind there’s no better way to serve than to wait on someone who’s paying for food. You would be amazed at how many jerks there are in your city. (If you’re offended by that statement…guess what, it’s you.) That’s why I always start out with a 20% tip, and you really have to screw up for me to drop that. Even then I try to convince myself you’re just having a bad day due to somebody being mean before I got there.

With that said, I do want to bring up a situation that happened recently with a colleague of mine. Now, as I get to the end you’ll see that it was just a misunderstanding, but the greater issue for me is what you as a business person should be concerned with. What happened is he called ahead and put in two HUGE orders with a coffee-house chain that equaled 150 drinks over two days. Afterward he sent over a thank you card with a very large tip. Somehow the tip didn’t get to the manager. A week later that person made a comment about how this guys company didn’t tip and they were surprised about it. Now, let’s stop there so I can tell you that the manager brought in extra help and they all worked their butts off to get the orders done. And to understand more, the manager has a heart towards the team members as I believe they only make minimum wage, so tips are a fantastic thing for them. From my point of view, if you’re ordering tons of drinks like that and you don’t tip, you’re a dork!

Here’s what I don’t want us to miss in business. If my average customer buys 1 item from me, and you come in and in 2 days order 150, I’m a pretty happy person! Crud, how do I get you to do that again? How do I get you to do that multiple times a year? A month? How do we miss out on the fact that due to you spending money with me, I get to pay people who get to take that money home and better their lives? This is a crazy good leadership moment to come along side the team members to show them how they need to use this opportunity to thank the customer for choosing them to provide their coffee needs. It’s also a great time to teach them that, due to their efforts, 150 are about to have a much better day. If a tip comes in, celebrate it! But still do the others. If you’re not helping people to see that their job is bigger than them, then what are you doing to energize them? Look for every opportunity possible to show them that the work they do matters! It changes lives! Especially if what you do is wake up the country’s workforce each day.

What are your thoughts?

Chris LoCurto

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December 8, 2010

The Secrets We Keep

December 8, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

"LIES"

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

I used to date a girl whose mom handled the finances for their house. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that she would also handle spending all of the finances for the house as well. As for her husband…clueless! He would bring her check home…hahaha…his check home and give it to her. (Interesting slip of the tongue.) Since they are supposed to be one in marriage, let me say their check. Anywho, she would cash the check and burn through it faster than a cement torch. She also happened to be a rep for a multi-level product line, so she was constantly purchasing stuff that she wasn’t able to completely sell. She would then give away the leftover so it didn’t look like they were spending money on something that wasn’t working. On top of that, she had run up a BUNCH of credit card debt that he didn’t know about. The whole time he was oblivious to what was going on. She would give him his $20 allowance a week and he would be on his way. It was no surprise that her daughter, my girlfriend, had completely destroyed her finances after watching her mother do this to theirs. I didn’t stick around to find out what the outcome was, but I hope they got some help.

Come to find out this kind of thinking isn’t foreign. There was a time when a bunch of people from our office (Dave Ramsey office) went to support a friend of one of our team members by attending her “in home party to sell you kitchen stuff” party. Now, I have no problem with the company that does that, we own probably everything they have since we have supported so many friends as they sold it to help get out of debt. Great idea! The problem came in at this one ladies party when she dropped a bomb. After doing a fantastic job explaining all that they had to make our lives in the kitchen easier, she began to explain the payment processes. (Keep in mind who’s in the audience.) She said, “…and ladies, you can put it on your credit card so your husband won’t know.” Seriously? That’s your sales pitch? Lie to your husband! Great, I’ll take two of everything then!!

The amazing thing is this really isn’t that uncommon. As a matter of fact, men and women have been lying to each other over purchases for all too long. CNNMoney.com did an article highlighting 6 men and women who apparently are so ashamed of it, that they did an interview for A NATIONAL NEWS OUTLET! The genius of it all!! Not only will I hide my spending from my spouse, but I’ll tell everyone who’s willing to read about it.

I do believe you need to have an amount that you agree on that is okay to spend without approval from your spouse. Past that, if you’re having an issue discussing what you’re spending, then you have a much bigger problem than buying too many shoes. There’s a lack of trust in the relationship, and that should scare you more than if they find out you spent too much on prime sirloin. That’s why you MUST be working on your budget together. It’s okay if one person puts it together, but both need to be going over the numbers and agreeing to only spend what’s in the budget. When you spend the next month’s money on paper before the month begins, if there’s a discrepancy it won’t be hard to find. Thus holding everyone accountable. Then you can brag to the world on how well you’ve done NOT lying to your spouse.

Without naming names, do you know of someone who’s done this?

Chris LoCurto

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December 7, 2010

Hiding the Truth

December 7, 2010 | By | 5 Comments">5 Comments

Something that everybody close to me knows is that I love babies. LOVE THEM! I’m the guy who gets the mean look from a mom when she’s trying to feed carrot mush to her child in a restaurant, but can’t because I have the little blessing of God laughing at me making funny faces at the other table. (Sorry to all you moms. I’m working on it.) One of my favorite games is when you play peek-a-boo by covering your eyes, not theirs, and they still wonder where you went. Every time you remove your hands from your face it’s like you just reappeared out of nowhere, like New Kids On The Block. The funny thing is that you were there the whole time.

Sometimes as business leaders we can play the same game with the realities we don’t want to face. One of those areas that I see from time to time when I’m working with companies is the hiding of expenses or adding of revenues to their Profit & Loss statements. (P & L’s are taking your revenues less your expenses to show you your net profit.) What I mean by that is, many times to really see if something is being successful you should put it on what is called a sub P & L. That’s where you assign all of its own expenses, income, and fair share of overhead to a single P & L. Now, if you make one widget, only sell that one widget, and never plan on doing anything but that widget…then keep reading anyway ’cause you might change your mind someday. But, if you have at least two different revenue producing items then, it’s not a bad idea to separate them to see how successful, or tragically failing they are on their own. As you get more and more items, it becomes almost necessary to do so. This is a great measuring stick to see how a product is doing.

The problem comes in when an owner/leader is either too busy, or is already doing a bad job with the accounting as is, or they are afraid to see the truth about what is going on. I’ve seen both. I understand the busy thing, it’s wrong, but I get it. The one that bothers me most is when someone is unwilling to see what’s going on. I can’t tell you how many times the team members of a company will tell me how the whole company knows that they have divisions that are dying and bleeding money, but the owner refuses to look at the numbers individually since they are all lumped together. As long as they see a bottom line that’s in the black they feel that everything is working flawlessly. This is a tragic mistake. Not only is it a waste of money/time/resources but it’s also demoralizing to the team members who see it. The converse of this is the number of times I’ve seen a leader collapse sub P & L’s into one to hide what they’ve already found out. Once again this is ridiculous.

Fix the problem! If the problem is that you’re too busy, get someone who can do it. If the problem is your inability to handle the truth, don’t worry, it will eventually reveal itself to you. Let’s just hope that at that time you haven’t lost your team, your bottom line, and your company. Take your hands away from your eyes and get in the game!

Have you experienced this in business? What about personal finances?

Chris LoCurto

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December 3, 2010

Why Credit Cards Are Like Taxes!

December 3, 2010 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

How in the world are you going to tie those two together. Well, it’s actually quite easy and I get to use the wisdom of the Federal Government. wink wink. Stephen Moore and Richard Vedder have done some incredible research about raising taxes in the U.S.

In an article they posted in The Wall Street Journal, thank you Marsha Blackburn, they show that post World War II through to 2009 for every $1.00 of new tax revenue raised politicians spent $1.17. As they put it, “Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in—and a little bit more.” If you are a proponent for higher taxes because bureaucrats say we need them…WAKE UP!

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, what does that have to do with credit cards? Well, the average person has a tendency to think the same way as the government when it comes to spending with credit cards. If I have it, I can spend it…and then some. I remember when I was eighteen years old, in one week I got a Visa, MasterCard, and an American Express.

I was on cloud nine. I could buy anything I wanted, that I couldn’t afford at eighteen, and all I had to do was pay the minimum payment! Uhhhhh, except on that last one. Nobody told me that you had to pay off the Amex balance every month. So I didn’t. Then one day while I was in a video store renting a VHS movie (some of you may have to Google what VHS tapes and video stores were, uh, are) it was taken from me. THE HORROR! THE EMBARRASSMENT! I couldn’t believe what had happened, and with people around me watching. But I’m the dummy who for a few months spent way more than I actually had, and when I saw the statement, I just sent in what I felt was doable.

The great thing was that I still had two cards that only required me to pay the minimums. I continued to spend like I actually had the money, and ended up in trouble down the road. Does it sound familiar to how our government handles taxes? But there’s a way for you to actually reduce your “deficit.” It’s called living on less than you make!

I know, it’s edgy, but it actually works. “But Chris you don’t understand my situation!” Really? I bet it’s you who doesn’t truly understand your situation. Here’s what I know, every time you don’t go into debt, you don’t have to pay any debt off! Every time you don’t spend everything you make it leaves you with this funny thing called cash.

Say it with me, C…ASH, C..ASH CAASSHHH. See, that wasn’t so hard. So here’s an idea, get serious about getting rid of the debt that you have. Get on a plan of spending with cash, and don’t spend everything you have! Then you can truly begin to enjoy life without the stress of not having money. It gives you more room to stress about the way Government spends.

Chris LoCurto

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December 2, 2010

Why Are You Here?

December 2, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

And when I ask that, I mean, where you are in your place in life. Why do you live where you do? Why do you go to the church, school, gym that you do? And why do you work where you do? I can tell you that as I’ve grown older there is one thing that has become very apparent to me, I’m too old to work somewhere that I don’t love! I came to the realization of that at the age of 30! Which was last year….or maybe 10 years ago.

You see I’ve spent a lot of my life working jobs that I had to because they paid well, or because I was really good at the job, not because I liked it. Take logistics for example, something I was fantastic at, but hated every minute of it.

The product was highly volatile so it was not uncommon for me to get a call on my brick of a cell phone at 2 AM and have to work for an hour or two to fix a problem. Thus the reason if you call me I have a tendency to want to get off of the phone in about 2.3 seconds. I hate the phone! I will talk face to face with you, but I’m just not that excited about a phone chat…sorry.

I will tell you that if you’re not passionate about the work that you’re doing, leave!! Discover what you are passionate about and go do it. Life is too short not to! Now, if you are completely in debt and this job pays so well that you can’t give it up, that’s another thing.

Debt robs you of your options. Be smart and get your finances in order. Work 4 jobs you might not like to get your options back. But once you do, find out what God wants you to do and go do it! for 2 reasons: one, you’ll be much happier being a part of what you believe in, and…you’re possibly holding up the seat of someone who should be where you are now.

So how do you find that thing? Well, in Dan Miller’s books 48 Days and  No More Mondays he talks about the first steps you need to take to find your happy place. He quotes Frederick Buechner as having said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So to discover that Dan says it needs to be a mix of 3 things:

  • Skills and Abilities. What skills do you actually have that you can use?
  • Personality Tendencies. How do you relate to people? Are you detailed or expressive? What environment are you comfortable in?
  • Values, Dreams, and Passions. If money were no object, what would you enjoy doing the most?

As you answer these questions you can start to formulate what it is you love and you feel God calling you to. But before you do, try talking to your Father in Heaven. The crazy thing is He’s known for really long time where He wants you, but He’s waiting for you to ask for His opinion.

Chris LoCurto

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November 19, 2010

Buyer’s Remorse

November 19, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

I wonder what percentage of guys…or gals, that bought the Ronco Spray On Hair absolutely had buyer’s remorse after their debit card (’cause I’m sure it wasn’t a credit card) was charged by the customer service/sales agent at the Ronco “have we got something you need” World Headquarters. Was there a moment while using the product that they realized all they did was paint their head? If you were one of super courteous and happy customer service/sales agents at Ronco, what ran through your mind each time that purchase was made? “What a dweeb!” “Poor sucker!” “Man, I should really pick up a can of this stuff!”

While there are many ways that buyer’s remorse is created, there’s one that comes after buying from a horrible sales person. That’s right, the high pressure sale. I have seen this all too often and it absolutely drives me crazy. This is when someone with mass arrogance makes you feel like the product they have is so amazing, and so fantastic, that if you don’t drop everything you’re doing right now and buy it you’re an idiot. Now don’t get me wrong, any sales person worth their weight in gold is going to be sold out passionate for their product!

The problem comes when they think they can and need to bully someone into a sale. “I don’t have time to mess around with you. If you’re not ready to buy right now I have other people who are crouching around my feet with money in their mouths just waiting. What’ll it be?!!” Too many times I have watched someone be bullied into this purchase.

The outcome, buyer’s remorse. What does that mean for the sales person? A CANCELLATION!!!! That’s right. Once this person realizes that they weren’t served, they were taken advantage of, they all of a sudden have an Aunt who’s come down with some…crazy unheard of disease that they now have to have that money back to take care of the situation. And who could blame them for wanting to cancel. They weren’t served in the process.

If you are that sales person, In EntreLeadership I teach our 4 step process; Qualification, Rapport, Education, and Close. I can’t cover them all right now so I’ll get to the others in later posts. The first and most important step is you have to actually see if they are qualified for your purchase. If it’s a $10 item this shouldn’t be difficult…unless they’re 5 years old, then this could be a challenge. With the qualification process find out if they actually NEED your product or service. Do they have the money to purchase? Do they have the authority to pull the trigger? If not, you’re wasting both parties time.

This is your greatest opportunity to SERVE the customer. I know, it’s a foreign idea that we should actually serve someone in our sales process, but when you do, you will be blown away by how easy the rest of the sale becomes. Once we have trust, you can move onto building rapport and educating me. I can move pass the price once the scale of value has been tipped in my direction. So next time you are selling someone, try not to sell! Instead, serve them and watch what happens.

Chris LoCurto

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November 18, 2010

Why the Church is Broke!

November 18, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

We spend our every day here at Financial Peace Plaza to convince people that being in debt is one of the dumbest things they can do. Along with that we spend a ton of time trying to convince businesses that there is no difference in what God says about finances for people and business. He doesn’t say, “Get out of debt, but only if it’s personal debt. Don’t worry about the business stuff, I’m down with that.” The truth is that the Bible says that the borrower is SLAVE to the lender. No special dispensation to the church in that statement. We confess that we are trying to be devoted followers of Christ, and we follow the things He tells us to do, but when it comes to the topic of debt we tell God, “Thanks for the help on everything else buuuuuut, I think I’m smarter on this subject.”  The church is no different. As an individual we convince ourselves that the fact we were approved for a car loan must be a blessing of God. As a church if our Sunday service ends up with 3 people over capacity we convince ourselves that God wants us to go heavily in debt to build a bigger building.

As we tell churches all the time, people are tired of giving to a mortgage payment that has no end in sight. They will give to build a building that’s needed and paid for with cash, and they will give to pay off a mortgage that leadership is pushing to eliminate. But the every weekend speech about how much the church needs the money for the bills, and then they go further into debt, people are done with that. A recent report from Empty Tomb Inc. shows that while giving to churches is down, giving to religious organizations, such as World Vision and Salvation Army,  is actually up. The reason is simple, people want to give to something that’s bigger than them. They want to give to something that they believe is going to change lives and a building campaign just doesn’t do it for them. Because of this fact, churches have had to cut the exact things from their budgets that make people feel good; missions, outreach, free cupcake day. Okay, that last one is still in place at most churches. The scary thing is quite a few churches are now taking out loans to pay their payroll.

The solution? Do what a small band of rebel churches are doing and get out of debt. Stop borrowing period! During Momentum I teach a lesson called Mission Matters. In there I show how the church should apologize to the church body by letting them know that they have made mistakes in the area of money and needs the help of the congregation to fix it. You would be amazed at how quickly the hearts of your people will LEAP on board the “pay off the church mortgage” train when you show that on the church is focused on change, and has bigger and better things that it wants to do. But it starts with being debt free. It is not uncommon now for churches to be calling in on the show yelling that the church is debt free and when asked how they did it they say that their people got fired up about what the people of God could do with a debt free church. Look at it this way, what are your other options? Keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing? Well, let me know how that works out for you.

Chris LoCurto

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November 17, 2010

Personality Styles

November 17, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

If you know me well at all you know that I am crazy about understanding personality styles and the people they control. (Insert smiley face icon.) As I always say, if you’ve ever given someone direction on something and they just stand there looking at you with the deer in the headlights look, then you probably think to yourself, “I know this person is not dumb, why don’t they get what I’m saying?”

While we have a tendency to believe that the issue of understanding what we’re saying is the hearer’s fault, the truth is that it’s ours. We give information the same way we receive information. Therefore, if I give someone with a strong detail personality information the way I like it, (short and sweet, and in sound bites) then I am failing to set them up for success.

The reason I’m so passionate about personality styles is that once you understand how people, think, act, react, process, etc., you begin to learn how to some extent you can win with communication. Now hear me correctly on this, I’m not saying that you are a failure, (That’s for all of you high I’s and S’s in the DISC profile) I’m saying that you’re not fully reaching your potential. For example, about 8 years ago I hired a fantastic woman in a very stressful administrative type of role.

Actually it was admin on steroids…and…Jolt Cola. Each time I would give her a project to work on she would look at me funny, leave my office, and in 10 minutes she would be back letting me know that she didn’t understand what to do. After a few months of dealing with the same type of issue, I decided to pull out her DISC profile and read through it immensely. As I did I discovered that I was being a horrible leader.

There was no possible way she could do the projects I asked of her since I had not given her enough information to actually complete the tasks. Once I realized that, and decided to stop thinking of only me, I called her in and explained how bad I was doing as her leader. Without hesitation she said, “um, yeaaaaah…I agree!” Okay, actually she was still processing, but that’s what her eyes were telling me.

This doesn’t just stop at your team members. It carries over to your family, your friends, and your customers. If you don’t see how important that is, stop reading my blog and get back to playing your PlayStation. Even if you have taken the profile, or you’re really smart and you’ve had your team take it, I can tell you that I have met a couple of people out of hundreds who actually understand how to use them correctly.

To learn more about the DISC personality test or my Understanding Personality Styles course, check out the online store!

Chris LoCurto

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November 2, 2010

Closed Doors

November 2, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

So the other night we were in a hotel in Houston waiting to head over to Joel Osteen’s church for Dave to speak. We had just come off of me speaking in Austin, then heading to Cancun for a very successful week-long EntreLeadership event, where I taught on Personality Styles and Motivators, then to Houston for Dave to speak at Lakewood. My English teacher would not have approved of the length of that sentence. We were really road weary and in need of food so we ordered room service. It arrived well before expected, tasted pretty good for hotel food, and left us satiated on chickens we did not pluck. Sorry, old church joke.

Here’s where things got a little funny. I decided to put the tray out in the hallway so the room wouldn’t smell like food all night. It was a heavy tray and an awkward door. As I set the tray on the floor I had to let go of the door for a split second. I tried to get back to it before it closed, but no luck. Of course this would be the time that I didn’t have the key in my pocket. The following is the conversation that happened next:

knock on the door

DLo – “Chris”

CLo – “yes”

DLo – “did you just knock on the door”

CLo – “yes”

DLo – “where are you”

CLo – “still out here”

DLo – “so you want me to open the door”

CLo – “……that would be nice”

Door open

CLo – “I can’t believe we just had that conversation”

Chris LoCurto

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September 29, 2010

Crimes Against the Berry

September 29, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

I just bought a raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, muffin from Starbucks and I couldn’t help but wonder why boysenberry is gettin’ the shaft. Everyone knows it’s a far superior berry to the others. It has better flavor than cranberries, doesn’t have the seeds of raspberries, and…well…okay, blueberries are pretty cool so I’ll pull them back out from under the bus. But if you’re going with three berries in the same muffin, why not make it the muffin of the decade by adding the Lindsay Vonn of berries? Oh yes I just compared boysenberries to the skiing phenom! Like Lindsay it’s the total package; powerful, graceful, and looks fantastic in an Audi photo shoot. (If Audi were to do a photo shoot with boysenberries.) So Starbucks let’s not turn the mixers off yet. Keep workin’ and make us proud!

Chris LoCurto

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September 23, 2010

Leading by Fear

September 23, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

If you’ve ever played any kind of organized sports, than you know that talking trash is an inevitable part of almost every game…except maybe in badminton. What could you possible say, “I’m gonna hit you so hard with this birdie you won’t remember your mama’s name!”

It just doesn’t have the same fear factor as say football or say Jai Alai. (I just needed an excuse to go all Jai Alai on ya!) The goal is to make your opponent feel that you are superior. The funny part is that if you actually were superior, there would be absolutely no need to make someone feel afraid.

Unfortunately, I observe these same tactics being used in leadership. Take the threat of firing someone for instance. There are basically two reason for that threat; someone has done something stupid enough that they genuinely may lose their job, or you want to make someone feel that you are in control of their destiny.

If someone respectfully challenges your processes and your first response is a threat, then you’re not actually leading. In fact, you’re rapidly losing the respect of that person as well as paralyzing them from ever acting on instinct with you again. Any good leader knows this is a highway to the danger zone. (Sorry about that.) Your goal is to foster greatness even if it causes you to take a hard look at yourself. Only then can you truly lead.

This raises the question, “What if I’ve hired an idiot maverick who won’t follow or listen and is always causing problems?” I’ve had this person and I will be following up that answer in future post.

Tell me about the times you’ve observed someone leading by fear.

Chris LoCurto

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September 11, 2010

Rationalizing Debt

September 11, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

I had another one of “those” conversations with a guy last night about the difference between bad debt and “ok” debt. It’s like saying a broken femur is bad, but there are times that it actually helps. Let’s see, when could that help? I guess when you have your heart-broken for the first time, and you’re crying on the curb across from your mom’s office, (Or something like that…definitely didn’t happen to me.) If someone came up to you and hit you in the thigh with a baseball bat it would definitely distract you from the other pain, so I guess I could see how it could help.

The truth is that there is no ok debt! Nowhere in the Bible did God use debt to bless someone. Instead, every time you read about it, it’s a curse…like Aspartame. Since finances are the second most discussed topic in the Bible, my belief is that somewhere around the time God was laying the foundations of the Earth, He realized what kind of mess His kids would get in with money, so He gave us a ton of info on what NOT to do. It’s sad to me that as Christians we claim to be fully devoted followers of Christ, and agree with all of His “rules”, but when it comes to the subject of debt we somehow think we’re smarter. “It’s ok God, I got this!”

Do yourself a favor, the next time you feel like rationalizing debt that you’ve been using for a long time, find someone who’s been doing it God’s way for a long time and compare net worth’s. Don’t stop there, compare contentment…happiness…oh and giving. Am I saying that their life will be void of problems? Absolutely not. But I am certain they don’t start their day off worrying about how their family is going to make it, and they don’t drop their head on the pillow at night looking forward to spending a few hours not being focused on financial problems. Give it a try, what do you have to lose other than the debt…and collection agents…and the feeling you get each time you look in the mirror? Believe me, I remember it. The issue is that you are the problem. The greatest thing is that you are also the solution! Get out there and make the change.

Still trying to rationalize?

Chris LoCurto

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September 10, 2010

Hiring T.O.

September 10, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

There are many times in a leaders life that they ask themselves the question, “what the heck was I thinking when I hired that guy?!!” After the 17th person on your team tells you how difficult the new person is to work with, you start to realize there is something way more important than hiring a “star.”

You begin to understand that it doesn’t matter how talented a person is on his own. (Unless your like a tennis coach or something.) One of the worst days for leaders is when they realize they have dropped a death metal guitar player into the middle of their 40 piece orchestra. At first it looks like a fun and exciting change, but quickly everyone understands just how badly this is going to play out.

What does this have to do with T.O.? Well, if you have watched his career at all you’ve noticed that there have been some…..”bumps” in the road. There is no doubt that he is a phenomenal athlete who, when he actually catches the ball, can make some serious plays. The problem isn’t once he has the ball, it’s everything that goes on around that moment.

All I can go by is how I’ve seen him act on the field and what his teammates have said. It’s my opinion that he has done way more damage to teams than good. And the reason is simple, it’s a TEAM sport! A buddy of mine, Ron Cook, used to manage Kenny Stabler in his post career, and Stabler always said, “You can have all the talent in the world, but you will not win if you don’t have a happy locker room!”

On the other hand, hiring the right person is one of the greatest joys of any leader’s life. Building a team of right people, is as fantastic as the first time you wake up to find out that there really is a Tooth Fairy, and she left you a quarter! (Am I showing my age there? Aren’t kids getting iPads for a tooth now?) When you have a team that works together in unity, you can accomplish absolutely anything.

God talks about this in Genesis 11:6 when He said that since the people were of one mind, together in unity, nothing would be impossible for them. Just like MacGyver with a paperclip and some rubber bands. One of the keys to hiring correctly is to hire the fantastically talented, who also are equally talented at being team players. (Key word: talented!) As Kurt Russell said in Miracle “I’m not looking for the best players…I’m looking for the right ones!”

This doesn’t mean you slack on finding someone who can do the job better than anyone else, you still need to hire someone who will leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home. They just need to play nicely with the other hunters.

Question: Have you ever been T.O.ed? 

Chris LoCurto

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September 2, 2010

Cologne – pleasure or pain

September 2, 2010 | By | 5 Comments">5 Comments

I just shook the hand of a man who apparently used that same hand to apply cologne like Julianne Moore applies sunscreen. Now, I’m not upset with a guy trying to smell better than he normally would, I’m just not so fond of using a Brillo pad to scrub the smell that is causing me to lose consciousness. Please keep that to yourself.

I do feel the same for ladies that slather perfume on in some sort of attempt to attract…well, somebody. To me trying to get that much attention is as pointless as Microsoft’s packaging. (Love this video)

I do believe in moderation…at least in this area. Go light or go home! I shouldn’t be able to smell you when our cars pass. That’s just wrong.

Done right, is the woman (ugh, I guess I have to say man also) who walks by with a scent that doesn’t slap me in the face, and it happens to actually smell like something you’d want to breathe in all day. Like Sonoma when the scent of grapes just starts to fill the air. Here’s a lesson here for you over-cologners. If you smell like my older brother when he emptied half a bottle of Jovan Musk on himself before his first junior high dance, I’m probably not going to hang around and argue with you about how the word “irregardless” is not a real word.

If, however, you emanate the aroma of Martha’s cookies when I walk into Financial Peace Plaza each morning, now you have my attention—and my appreciation. I don’t mind stopping a moment while you share with me how emotionally attached the Bachelorette gets as she wades through her prey, who, after 15 minutes of conversation with her in a testosterone-filled room, fall helplessly in love with her.