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Chris LoCurto

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December 2, 2010

Why Are You Here?

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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!

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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

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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.