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Chris LoCurto

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March 8, 2011

Come Here Kid!

March 8, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

The Washington Post reported on a new way that banks are taking advantage of people – in this case, college students.

Shortly after students show up on campus, they receive a welcome letter that contains a MasterCard from a company called Higher One. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill credit card. It’s a card that accesses student loans. That’s right, students can use the cards to add debt to their student loans that they already can’t afford. Not only that, but the cards also come with high fees.

So this company is essentially targeting kids who are in debt and have no money of their own (Right? Or they wouldn’t have a loan.), is encouraging them to spend more money they don’t have, and then topping it all off with high fees.

This is genius! Why hasn’t someone thought of this before? Let’s get all of our graduating students in horribly desperate situations and send them out into the workforce. That ought to make for some open-minded, creative, happy workers.

According to the report, college officials contend that the loan cards make it easier for administrators and can provide income for cash-strapped schools. So… let’s get students further in debt so the school can make more money? This is ridiculous!

The article goes on to quote Anne Gross, legislative affairs director for the National Association of College and University Business Officers, as saying, “Sometimes people are looking for evil intent where there is none.” Riiiiiiiiight, because this plan is angelic!

If you’re a parent of a college student or a soon-to-be college student, there are three things you can do to avoid the college debt trap:

  • Edumacate ‘em – It is your duty to make sure your kids leave your house as responsible adults. Please tell me you’re not expecting the school to do that. Make sure that they understand how to handle money by budgeting and living on less than they make.
  • Scare ‘em – Do everything you can to teach them the dangers of debt. Show them how they are going to be tempted, and basically attacked, by offers that sound really good but will make them slaves to debt.
  • Hit ‘em – On their cell phone, that is. Make a point to stay in touch with your kids and hold them accountable. You want to know what they’re doing in their relationships and if they’re staying out of trouble. It’s the same with money. Ask them how they’re doing financially and find out if they’ve been approached about debt. It will train them to always be on the lookout.

On top of all of this, pray! I promise, you can’t do too much of that. Think about the pitfalls you constantly had to navigate at their age – and then multiply them by 10!

Question: What great advice do you have for students starting out?

Chris LoCurto

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March 7, 2011

Grease Is The word!

March 7, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Since I travel a ton, I stay in a lot of hotels. All different kinds, shapes, colors and brands. Each being a little different, and yet, strangely the same. My routine is pretty much the same, too. I almost always get to a hotel at night, hopefully with enough time to go eat somewhere.

Hotel Towels

Image by davidsteltz via Flickr

When I get to my room, I always turn on the TV for background noise, find a place for my suitcase, unpack the things that need to not be wrinkled, put my shaving kit in the bathroom and then sit down to write… or channel surf for two minutes before I realize what I always realize – there’s really never anything good on a hotel TV.

I set two alarms: a wake-up call and the in-room alarm clock. Why? The first time you only set one and it doesn’t work, you’ll understand. Going to bed is all about finding which of the four pillows on the bed will work. Hopefully they aren’t all the kind that the second you touch them, they deflate like a soufflé.

Since I set two alarms, I always set the clock alarm for 10 minutes before the wake-up call. I know what you’re thinking… that’s so I have 10 minutes on the snooze button. Actually, it gives me a little time to wake up, and I use that time for prayer. I’m not sure if God understands anything I say at that moment, but it’s the thought that counts…right?

I stopped using caffeine to wake me up a long time ago. So sometimes it takes me a little longer to get my senses going. But nothing helps that more than a great shower. And you always hope that you have a great shower. As you reach for the faucet, you have that fear, Is this going to be a 10-year-old, water-saving shower head?

Exiting the shower is one of the most crucial parts of the morning for me. Again, I’m still not really awake. But I turn the shower off, slide open the curtain which lets the steam out, and reach for a fresh, clean, fluffy white towel. My whole life I have had a habit that the first thing I do is take both hands and dry off my face. I’ve done it so long that I don’t think I could ever change that habit.

So, I take the towel, put it to my face, and BAM! There it is! The smell of grease! Yep, since it’s a hotel, and it has a kitchen, they have a tendency to wash their room towels with the kitchen towels that were used to wipe up all of the used grease. Ugh! Well, I’m awake now!

Every time it happens, I think to myself, Stop smelling the towels! No. Actually, I think to myself that the people who run hotels must not take showers in hotels. Now, I’m not saying that they should leave home every day, come to work, find an empty room, and take a shower. I’m just saying that if they would experience their hotel a few times a year like we do, surely they would realize that there’s a funk among the towels. Then they could simply…change the process.

What areas of your business have you not experienced from the customer’s point of view? Take the time to walk in your customers’ footsteps. You just might be surprised by what you find.

Chris LoCurto

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March 4, 2011

You Can’t Have That!

March 4, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Today we are in Kansas City for the EntreLeadership 1-Day event teaching business owners and leaders how to grow and build their business. And I just want to say that I am a capitalist! I have no problem with someone leaving the cave, killing something, dragging it home, and keeping it!

My New iPhone 4 Arrived today! - June 29, 2010

The Bible specifically says the diligent will prosper. If I decide to put my energy into creating a product that changes or enhances lives, and I make money for that, what’s the problem?

There is this crazy idea that you shouldn’t be able to make a lot of money for your hard work. If you do, you should give it all away. Who came up with this idea?

I don’t know who came up with the idea, but I do know who brings it up all the time. It’s always someone who doesn’t have anything. Someone who isn’t willing to work their tail off to obtain a better standard of living.

Someone who thinks that life and money should be handed to them. This is the same person who wants to partake in luxuries but doesn’t want the company who makes those luxuries to have any money.

Question for ya: How would Apple research, develop, and get the iPhone out to market if it didn’t have any cash? “Didn’t a lot of this stuff start in a garage somewhere?” Yes! And do you remember how long it took to get to market? Be reasonable.

Does this mean that I don’t think businesses should give? Not at all. In fact, David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, recently gave $70 million to a university. $70 MILLION! Now ya can’t do that if you don’t have any money, can you?

On the way back from lunch today, I saw two people standing in a median, each with a stop sign on a stick that read, “STOP CORPORATE TAKEOVER.” That’s right. Two healthy-looking people, in the middle of a workday, denouncing corporate “greed” to everyone who drove by.

I didn’t see that they were getting much support. After all, most of us were on our way to earn our living by working for those “greedy” corporations who pay us.

I believe most people are not upset about what other people have. They’re upset about what they don’t have. Again, the diligent prosper. If you want more, instead of being jealous of someone else, try working harder. Or come up with other ways to make money.

Don’t be a hater! (That’s street lingo.) I once heard that the difference between jealousy and envy is with envy, you want what someone has. With jealousy, you want what they have, and you don’t want them to have it.

Let’s just work on getting what we want and not worry about what others have, mmmkay? Please share some situations that you’ve experienced.

Chris LoCurto

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March 3, 2011

Watch My Leader Dance!

March 3, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

On a recent trip out west, a few of us stopped in at Shirley’s Tippy Canoe to eat. It was a fun atmosphere with a great staff. Working where we work, we immediately noticed that something was different about this place. Our server, Amy, was a happy gal who seemed to love what she did for work. Believe me, you can recognize that quickly because in today’s workforce, it sticks out like a sore thumb. In other words, it’s not a common occurrence.

So we took the opportunity to ask her what she thought about working there. She just lit up!

Amy: “Shirley is incredible to work for! All of the cooks have been with her for eight or more years.”

EIGHT YEARS?! That’s amazing in the restaurant industry to have cooks who stay with you that long!

Amy: “She is always there for you. If you need help, you can call her. ‘Here’s my truck.’ ‘Here’s a draw.’” (Insert FPU teaching here, so there’s no need for a draw. J)

CLo: “Wow. She sounds like a great leader.”

Amy: “Yeah, and she’s always having fun dancing around the restaurant. It’s fun when she’s here!”

The whole time we talked with Amy, she had a smile on her face. You don’t have that if you hate where you work or who you work for. I believe there are key things in what Amy said that all leaders need to strive for:

  • Help – One of the most profound things I ever learned came from one of the sweetest ladies on the planet. Montel Hardwick was my pastor’s wife. One day, we were standing together praying over some people who were having some struggles in life. I looked over at Montel and just put my arm around her and gave her a hug. She then said to me, “Chris, always be there when they’re hurting.” I can hear it as if it were yesterday. You have to be there for your people. They will make mistakes, and sometimes it will drive you crazy, but they are kind of like a second family to you. Make sure you are there for them.
  • Have fun – You have to be willing to dance around the restaurant. Or whatever the place is that you’re in. Okay, maybe not dance, but you have to make your place an exciting place to be. Our web developers have this thing that happens every Friday afternoon at 5:25. They each have a bunch of small foam footballs. When the clock strikes, so do they. It becomes an all-out war with foam balls flying in every direction. I got caught in it once, and it was a blast. So, lighten up the place a bit. It makes the times when you’re crazy-focused better.
  • Be loyal – I believe to get loyalty, you must be loyal. When you set up an atmosphere where your people are taken care of, and they are allowed to have fun, then you get people who want to hang around a while. You get an Amy who, at the drop of a hat, tells people what a great place the Tippy Canoe is to work. You get people who stay with you for years, even in an industry where that’s just unheard of.

As a leader, you have to remember that it’s not about you. Unless you’re the only one there. And then, by definition, you’re not a leader.

Chris LoCurto

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March 2, 2011

I’m Fine, Really.

We are extremely blessed here at Dave Ramsey‘s organization to have world-class speakers/teachers/preachers do our devotionals each week. We recently had the incredible author of The Search for God and Guinness, Stephen Mansfield, talk to us about some research he’s done. He shared how he’s been called in to help with situations where high-profile athletes, pastors and artists have “crashed” by having a meltdown, an affair, etc. He discovered that in every situation, there were 10 warning signs. I just wanted to share my notes from his talk with you:

Cover of "The Search for God and Guinness...

Cover via Amazon

10 Warning Signs of a Crash

1. Isolation

The person isolated himself from his usual “band of brothers.” You need an accountability group who will walk closely with you – people who love you but are not impressed by you. People who will tell you you’re being stupid and then go grab coffee with you. Reasons for isolation:

  • View of authority – The person thought he was above others.
  • “I’m better!” – Their exceptional talent leads to pride.
  • Guilt – The person felt bad about something they were doing – porn, bad marriage, etc.

2. Crisis Of Friendship

There were no friends who could speak truth into their life. They cleared the decks by pushing their friends away and caused problems so their friends would back away. Again, you need strong friends. Your spouse and employees aren’t enough. You need people willing to chew you out!

3. “Mechanical” Relationship With The Lord

Everything that was sweet and exciting about the person’s relationship with God became something he had to do. He developed a phone-in relationship with Jesus.

4. Stopped Nurturing the Poetry of His Work

If you can’t get up in the morning excited about what you do, you are moving toward burnout. Always ask yourself: “Am I staying connected to the poetry?”

5. Casting Out the “Demon” of Fun

The person didn’t allow himself planned distractions – fun and exciting things in his life. A man needs to have fun, blow something up, have outrageous sex with his wife, or pee in the sink. In other words, find a way to be rowdy! If you are not on the hunt for excitement in a healthy way, you’ll look for it elsewhere, like in an affair. The secrecy and the hunt of an affair will make up for the lack of excitement in other areas of life. Nobody needs to be overly domesticated!

6. The Schedule Is The Tyrant

The person became bitter about his schedule because it wasn’t workable.

7. Roles Were Reversed

In aptitude tests, women score above men in all areas except abstract thought and aggression. A woman who doesn’t have a strong man in her life will be tempted to look for an affair. If she has to be the decisive one all the time, she’ll look for a man who takes control. Women don’t want the responsibility for everything. Men often abdicate their responsibility and become passive, and that can come out in other ways of perversion. Weak men make angry women. You end up with passive, feminine men who are drawn to cranky women who take control.

8. Home As Opposition

The person began to see his home as a place of opposition, where all his flaws and shortcomings were magnified. Instead of being a warm place of beauty and rest, his home became a place he did not want to go to.

9. Defining Episodes Of Bitterness

All of us have had episodes, but how we move forward and deal with them matters to whether or not we can be successful. The soul has a memory like an elephant, so this bitterness leads to a feeling of entitlement. For example, a husband may turn to porn to get back at his wife after she points out his shortcomings.

10. Covering Up The Dysfunctions

The person felt he had to protect the “image” at all costs. He had to keep things looking good.

All of these sign are things you should be watching out for. Not only for yourself, but for those you love. But the deal is, you have to be strong enough to chew on them about it, as well as love them out of it!

I would love to see some discussion on this so please comment. What do you think of these 10 signs? Would you add anything to the list?