Twilight

Miss Tortoise in the sun.
Miss Tortoise in the sun.

Little raises the fear of bad things happening – if you’re a cat owner – more than the phrase “high kidney enzymes.”

The last month has been a time of quiet sadness for me, because my sixteen-year-old tortoiseshell, Miss T-Tail, has these aforementioned blood characteristics. As Dr Andrew refers to her, she’s now a “kidney patient.”

T-Tail was a rescue cat, one of a pair. My Silver Tabby, Moneypenny, passed away two years ago, so the decade and a half of memories of both of them now reside in the body of this eleven-pound senior. Cat lovers are infected with a special kind of affection for their pets, which others find hard to fathom. We love that they’re independent, a little crazy and all complete individuals. We adore them when they decide, usually once a day, to spend time with us rubbing and getting close. They’re choosing us. And there’s nothing as soothing as the look of a content cat basking in the sun, purring for no good reason other than the sheer joy of warmth.

Cats live in close quarters with we humans; that’s their nature. We get to see their quirks close up, to recognize their smell, and be aware of their moods. There’s enough that we recognize ourselves in them, which sounds odd until you experience it.

T-Tail then, is pretty clearly in her twilight. She’s on two kinds of pills, and I infuse her with 100ml of fluids three times a week, the cat equivalent of dialysis. Since we began this treatment over the weekend, she’s gained weight and seems happier. Difficulties arise when you ask a cat just how they’re feeling – masking is their forte.

We have to guess how they’re doing, and how best to alleviate their malady.

For me, this is a time to figure out a few loose ends. At what point is it right to say good-bye to Miss T? Why is it that life is a mix of sadness and happiness? Why do we keep going when loved ones leave?

One Brick at a Time

How to build a house.
How to build a house.

Hooray.

Yesterday, Sunday, I signed my first customer. My friend Tim, whom I’ve been courting for six months now, became a customer of my company. Here’s a little summary of the process:

# of presentations given: 2

# of conversations about my company: more than 15

# of months from first direct approach to signing up as a customer: 6

# of different product categories that didn’t change his mind: 3

# of product categories that did swing the deal: 1

 

The lessons here are clear.

1. Selling is a process, not an event.

2. You will never know what tips the scales, so…

3. A number of different options (products/services) and approaches might be necessary.

4. Let the customer tell you what interests them, and therefore,

5. Listen. And listen. And listen some more.

 

As it turns out, Tim’s point of interest was my company’s range of supplements for heart and circulatory health. Our patent-protected absorption system and unique range of concentrated natural ingredients is a natural for anyone interested in longevity and – equally importantly – healthy longevity.

 

Scorecard:

Presentations Given: 4

Sales Made: 1

Months Spent Selling: 6

Do Not Be Surprised…

The start of something new.
The start of something new.

…if you find that when you retire, no government program will be able to help you.

In the United States in particular, but pretty much everywhere else too, money for the elderly will be in increasingly short supply. This doesn’t apply just to ‘social security’ payments, but medical and disability too.

Here’s the truth: western countries are facing a double-whammy of cratered public finances and aging populations. There’s no cash, because current outgoings outstrip tax receipts. Borrowing is problematic because countries that have until now financed advanced nations’ deficits are no longer buying their debt. (Think specifically here about China buying US Treasury-issued debt.) And even countries with clever policies, like Australia and Singapore, are really too small to make a difference.

The bottom line: If you plan on receiving anything from your government when your working days are done, you’re taking a bet with gradually worsening odds.

The other bottom line: You can do something about it now, by working towards a recurrent income for you and your family. Be independent of governments by taking responsibility for creating your own retirement income.

And my question: How much more secure would you feel, and how much stress would be relieved if you knew you had a regular, repeatable income for years into the future?

 

If you’re up for a serious look at just how bad matters are in the US, check this out. Medicare and Social Security will neither care for you, nor provide you with security.

From The Outside Looking In

Through the looking glass.
Through the looking glass.

For most of us, there is a limited future working for other people.

In the US in particular, average wages haven’t changed in ten years. Employers are about to be put in a squeeze by the insanely misleading Affordable Healthcare Act. Productivity improvements will increasingly come from automation and fight-to-the-lowest cost controls. Employees are oftentimes seen as a necessary cost rather than a creative resource.

The first lesson I learned about business is that there are three inputs: labor, equipment and capital. With high unemployment rates, it’s natural that the cost of labor will decline as a percentage of total input. That’s the second business lesson, that supply and demand always work in the end. In short, unless you’re in one of the handful of fields in which the demand outstrips supply, you’re unlikely to see a pay raise soon. Sorry.

I’m an employee. My employer does not provide anything more than an hourly rate. No benefits. No paid vacation. Nothing. Which explains my determination to become the best salesman I can…the fact that I will own my own business, be rewarded for my effort, and decide the architecture of my working day. That, my friends, is a future.

The beauty of my business is that the same inputs I mentioned above apply, but in a different way. Firstly, my efforts attracting customers doesn’t result in a one-off hourly payment. When I sign up a customer, they will continue to buy my company’s products each and every month. That means a commission for me each and every month.

Secondly, the capital input to my business is tiny. All I need is enough money to buy my products each month, and my status remains active.

Thirdly, the equipment. I need a car, which, by the way, the company will pay for once I reach a certain turnover. A computer is handy for enrollments, ordering and to keep up with company events. A phone. My presentation materials. And that’s about it.

So the main ingredient for success here is time, a good attitude, willingness to ask people if they’re interested in a pitch, and resilience when they say no. Frankly, I’m much happier with the idea of selling great products and accepting a few knockbacks than with the prospect of another eleven hour grind working to make someone else rich.

I deserve it. And so do you.