Book Review – Richistan by Robert Frank

Robert Frank’s book titled Richistan is about the lives of the new rich and those who make up the wealth boom occurring in the United States. The book is 250 pages long and is fun to read. While we know there are millions of millionaires in the world, Frank exposes them in completely new ways, from how they hire butlers to the silly ways in which they make their fortunes. Frank gives us perspectives that we never think about when it comes to the self-made, rich population.

To start the book, the author gives the reader an idea of just how many millionaires there are in the United States; about eight million as of 2003. This number has risen drastically between 2003 and 2009. He also goes on to define the term “Richistan,” and divides his new country into three different categories based on household net worth. Lower Richistan consists of households worth $1 million to $10 million dollars. Middle Richistan consists of households worth $10 million to $100 million dollars. The elite Upper Richistanis consist of households worth $100 million to $1 billion dollars. There are only several thousand households in the Upper Richistani category.

Chapter one is titled, “Butler Boot Camp: Housetraining the New Rich.” This chapter serves as a great introduction to the secret world of the new rich households. Frank talks of butler boot camps, especially the boot camp held at the prestigious Starkey International Institute for Household Management. Here, men and women train to simply run the households of millionaires and billionaires and get paid a ridiculous amount of money to answer to the wishes and needs of the super rich. These butlers get paid anywhere from $75,000 dollars to well into six-figure territory. They must know how to please the super rich, and tasks include washing high-end cars, rolling cigars, setting up home entertainment systems, and the usual services such as cooking and babysitting.

Chapter two is titled, “The Third Wave: The Era of the Instapreneur.” There are thousands of people who are becoming instant millionaires every year. In fact, in 2005 there were about 227,000 new financial millionaires in the United States alone. Robert Frank describes in this chapter the six ways that most people acquire their wealth and points out several individuals who have instantly made millions of dollars through development and sales of several large companies. Jared Polis, for example, has developed more than a dozen companies and sold them all for more than a total of $600 million dollars.

Chapter three is titled, “Making It: Ed Bazinet, King of the Ceramic Village.” This chapter is devoted to those who have made fortunes in an unlikely manner. One person mentioned in this chapter is Sydell Miller. Ms. Miller operated a hair salon and developed a shampoo line called Matrix Essentials, which she was fortunate enough to sell to Bristol-Myers Squibb for a mere $1 billion dollars. Then there is the chapter’s title man, Ed Bazinet, who created miniature ceramic houses and ended up mass producing them for department stores. By taking a chance and producing his line of mini houses, he is worth over $100 million dollars. This chapter gives you the feeling that anyone can be rich if you have the will and a good idea.

Chapter four is titled, “Living It: Tim Blixseth.” This chapter talks about those who love their work and make their work their life. Men and women like Tim Blixseth do not seem to have the capability to relax; they are always thinking about business. Tim may be on vacation or relaxing on his yacht, but he never stops working on his business. Blixseth started in business at a young age by buying and selling timber to various other companies, and eventually started the Yellowstone Club, which charges $250,000 dollars to join and millions of dollars for the right to build a house on his land. This ultra-exclusive club has members such as Bill Gates and Dan Quayle who want their own retreat where privacy is at a maximum.

Chapter six is titled, “Barbarians in the Ballroom: New Money vs. Old.” Formal celebrations and balls are popular in the world of the ultra-rich. People are invited and expected to attend, knowing that a large monetary donation to the charity of choice is mandatory. The rich must donate large amounts of money and when they fail to donate, controversy arises. Not only are people expected to donate up to millions of dollars at a time, but there is also controversy about who is allowed or nominated to be chairperson of these formal events. The chapter goes on to discuss homes owned by Donald Trump and Sean Combs and how much property in various parts of the country can sell for. This chapter is the least interesting of the book, but still gives good information on the world of the ultra-rich.

Chapter seven is titled, “Size Really Does Matter: My Boat is Bigger than Your Boat.” The seventh chapter is all about comparing the property and expenses of the rich versus the ultra-rich. Mega yachts seem like standard property for a rich person these days, and boats are coming in huge sizes with all kinds of crazy options. Some foreign leaders are having boats made that are about 500 feet long, costing over $200 million dollars to build. The boats come with smaller boats, helicopter pads, dozens of hot tubs, swimming pools, theaters, gold-plated bathrooms, etc. The author goes on to mention how millionaires compare cars, watches, and homes, and spend vast amounts of money just so they can have the biggest and the best.

Chapter eight is called, “Performance Philanthropy: Giving for Results.” This chapter is intriguing, and it discusses entrepreneurial charity. People like Philip Berber who made a vast amount of money with an online stock trading company which he sold for nearly a half billion dollars, are finding new ways to spend their money. Berber started Glimmer of Hope, a company which uses large amounts of money to help make the world a better place. Other millionaires and billionaires like Michael Dell have donated millions of dollars to help Berber build schools, health clinics, waters wells, and vet clinics in countries where poverty is a severe issue. Men and women like Berber and Dell have high hopes to heal the world and have taken the initiative to help fight poverty with the fortunes they have accumulated.

Chapter nine is titled, “Move Over, Christian Coalition: The New Political Kingmakers.” The ninth chapter deals with the money that drives politics and campaigns. This chapter presents how policymakers ask for money to fuel their campaigns and the differences between the techniques Republicans and Democrats use to find their much-needed money. Four Democratic supporters in Colorado helped to elect their candidate to the House of Representatives. Not only did this happen in Colorado and the House of Representatives, but it happens all the time in the race for President of the United States. The Republican Party often gains large sums of money in a public manner while the Democratic Party often collects money from the ultra-rich in a more private manner. This chapter shows that people will stop at nothing to have their candidate nominated into office, even if it means donating millions of dollars every year.

Chapters ten and eleven are titled, “Worried Wealth: The Trouble With Money,” and, “Aristokids: We’ll Always Have Paris.” These two chapters talk about the troubles that come with large amounts of money. For example, more than half of America’s super-rich agree that money does not buy happiness. Money can dominate their lives and leave little time for personal time with kids and spouses. Money can cause such concern that millionaires have started meeting groups to discuss financial matters and meet with similar people in similar situations to get concerns out in the open. Who better to talk about your millions of dollars with than other millionaires? The final chapter of the book talks about the super rich children, or those who are in prime position to inherit fortunes. Kids today are attending classes to learn about manners and living the high-life. They also are being forced to learn about finances and what to do with millions of dollars so when they do inherit the money one day, they will not make unwise decisions and blow the money away like many of today’s celebrities and heirs/heiresses are doing.

Overall, Richistan is an engaging and enlightening book about today’s new rich. This book will keep you reading as you learn facts about the rich that you probably never knew. The chapters about prestigious butlers and how “bigger is better” are especially interesting and will give you a great idea how millionaires and billionaires really live and spend their fortunes. This book is rated 4.5 out of 5.

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Selling Used Books Online – Make $ $ 2000 750- Extra Per Month Or Go Full Time For $ 5k +

Selling used books online is one of the easiest, most fun, and most profitable part-time businesses out there. There is little guesswork when you use the tools that I'm about to show you, when deciding which books to buy for resale, and they are everywhere! For as little as 10 cents you can purchase a book that will resell for $ 4 – $ 100 or more on Amazon or other online selling sites.

When I first heard about selling used books online, it seemed like it would be a big hassle. I figured you would have to list hundreds of books, not knowing what they were worth, and spend hours making an individual eBay-style listing for each one. Then ship dozens of books a day and only make a buck or two each. It did not sound too exciting.

But I looked into it further and discovered 10 exciting facts about selling used books online that I did not know:

1. You can find out what a book is selling for on Amazon with an inexpensive portable device you can take with you when you shop – and it takes less than one second for the device to scan the book and give you a value and Amazon Sales rank (popularity).

2. It is easy to visually eliminate the books that are not worth much without even scanning, once you learn a few guidelines.

3. You're actually looking for mostly newer books that are still popular in bookstores, not antiques

4. You can purchase these books for next to nothing at garage sales, thrift stores, library books sales, and more – and they're worth $ 4- $ 100 each for the right books. They also sell quickly if they have high Amazon sales (your device tells you this before you buy)

5. Once you get the books home, you simply scan them again, and using another easy-to-use listing tool, the listing for the book is instantly created. All you have to do is price the book based on the other books available and assign a condition.

6. Orders are also received automatically by special software, and the software prints prepaid sticky postage labels.

7. You can pack each book in less than a minute and apply the shipping label. Therefore sending out books only takes a short time, and you only have to do it 3 times a week.

8. You do not have to wait in line at the post office, just drop them off.

9. Your funds are auto-deposited into your account every two weeks.

10. You can instantly shut down, and reopen your store if you become busy or take a vacation.

I've been selling used books online now for about 3 years, and though my main business is real estate, I still do it because the "treasure hunt" of finding the books is still addicting. Something about buying a book that resells for $ 83 for only a dollar is hard to resist!

So think about starting your own used book business. You can shop for books on off-hours, and list and ship the books anytime of the day or night. And having an extra thousand or two dollars a month coming in, never hurt anyone! In fact, for many people in today's economy I bet it could be the difference between paying the month's bills or falling behind. Personally, I make my mortgage payment by selling used books online, and do not even have to worry about it each month anymore.

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Cost Per Funded Loan – Building a Book of Business

There are many essential metrics that must be considered when a determination is made on how to spend valuable marketing dollars. The acceptable cost per funded loan varies depending on where an individual sits in the organizational chart and how much of a stakeholder one is in the long term growth of the company. Successful lead generation firms are aware of this and for this reason there products are designed to cater to different segments of the mortgage professional population.

A mortgage banker will seek to increase volume and can tolerate slimmer margins immediately sees the benefit of of increase overall lead volume. A cost per funded loan of $400 to $700 per funded loan is acceptable and very profitable, because the bank will draws revenue from the originated loan in more than one way.

There are a number of different ways to market a reverse mortgage. However, they fall into two basic categories: 1.) Waiting for a qualifying senior homeowner to walk through your door with and request the product from you or 2.) Market to the target demographic in a clear and informational manner and let them know the product is available.

Waiting In the Office for Warm Referrals: Lowest Cost Per Funded Loan
The easiest is to rely on warm referrals from past clients. In the reverse mortgage industry this would amount to simply waiting for someone who has previously reverse mortgage there home to go to a friend or family member and to extol the virtues of the FHA HECM or private equity loan that the recently received.

Ideally, they will have excellent comments to share regarding the company that provided the loan as well as the benefits of the loan itself. In this scenario the cost per funded loan is nearly zero and the profit margin associated with the loan is high.The downside to being dependent entirely on warm referrals of this type, particularly for growth oriented firms is easy to see.

First, senior homeowners tend to keep financial matters private and may not discuss financial matters openly. Second, for many seniors, their personal network of trusted people is shrinking as opposed to growing each year. Third reverse mortgages have been available for decades in one form or another and prior to the massive increases in home values associated with the real estate bubble, which substantially reduced the loan-to-value of many properties and increased the available equity, very few loans were done when this was the primary means of communication.

A quick visit to the FHA website or review of the year-by-year statistics reveals this to be undeniable.

Marketing Programs: Growth-Oriented Referrals
Growth oriented firms, particularly those with an exit strategy that includes being bought out by a larger firm or group of investors, will require more than just walk-in to build their businesses. Even large banks and financial institutions market heavily in the communities their agents service.

Anyone familiar with the reverse mortgage industry understands that eventual sale of the business entity or the portfolio is a key characteristic business plans. The portfolios developed by Home Equity Conversion Mortgage and Fannie Mae Homekeeper originators have value in securities marketplace that is greater than many traditional mortgage products, because the loan itself is government insured for the protection of the lender and the homeowner.

Marketing represents a business expense and as long as the revenue returned exceeds the cash outlay or credit obligation the outcome is positive. Marketing is one of the key components of any successful business and marketing significantly impact the ability of the sales force to perform.

Firms with 15 or more agent originating reverse mortgages on a daily basis need to make sure that their agents are consistently supplied with a steady stream of leads to follow-up on and will need to make projections regarding future performance of their sales force. A sales force without leads is doomed. A sales force with leads has an opportunity. And, a company that has a low cost per funded loan is more profitable.

Targeted States Affect Cost Per Funded Loan:
All states are not created equal when it comes to reverse mortgages. States, such as North Carolina, have a lot less competition, whereas, California, which has had the most reverse mortgage transactions has the most competition. The recent changes in the traditional mortgage market and pending financial crises the the Federal Reserve is working to avert have made many of the high volume states very difficult to work in, due substantial changes in appraised property values.

The challenges the brokers and lenders face are also faced by the lead generation companies they use and prices are set accordingly. A lead in North Carolina or Georgia will be cost, because the marketing firms will need to make a lower expenditure to produce the type of lead product the customer requires. The leads in California or Maryland on the other hand will require more marketing effort to produce. In California, the cost per funded loan could easily be $800 as opposed to North Carolina or Idaho where the cost per funded loan could be as low as $400.

If your firm has the ability to serve in multiple states at the same time, it is good idea to spread the marketing expenditure across the states in a manner that balance the total cost of your lead program against know factors, such as: Penetration by Market Size, New Market Opportunity, Average Available Equity for Eligible Homeowners, Lending Limits, and Legislative Requirements of the State.

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Smart Ways To Business Growth And Expansion

Aim for growth and expansion is what most businesses do especially in a highly competitive business scene. If a business doesn’t work toward those two objectives, it’s basically setting itself up for an early demise for the goal of the competition is to disable the slow and weak. Business growth and expansion can be achieved through following time-tested success principles and these principles create focus for all the efforts aimed at growth, and at the same time, they uphold good standards for every activity executed toward the goal.

If you’re preparing your enterprise for growth and expansion, it’s essential to know what success principles to uphold. To help you with this, listed below are four principles big corporations attest as keys to their success.

First, know that innovation is a must. This indicates that your business understands the needs of your customers and works toward effectively meeting their needs. Innovation is creating something new and great from something that’s already good in order to deliver better value to end users.

Therefore, your business should always study your customers’ journey so you can innovate appropriately. Timing is also very crucial. You can’t be early or late when it comes to growth and expansion. Pre-empting things can spoil their potential, and at the same time a lot of good opportunities are only available for a limited period of time.

You need to be able to take action at the most ideal moment, which is why you need to study provisions carefully, perhaps even seek assistance from advisers or consultant, and be aware of the different financing solutions your business can utilise. Successful people always say that inspired efforts do not deplete energy; rather, they are invigorating. Also, inspiration will enable your organisation to turn setbacks into victorious comebacks.

Stay inspired as you’re working to grow and expand your business because a joyful process never fails to yield the most ideal outcomes. Understand that sacrifices are inevitable but fruitful. There are always sacrifices to be made when you’re aiming for bigger and better things. For your business, this can mean longer hours of work and denying some physical comforts and pleasures for a certain period of time, or scrimping on certain things so resources can be directed toward more important aspects of operations. All in all, these principles will allow you to manage your business more effectively so you can focus on your business growth and expansion.

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A Review of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala

Few books have ever impacted and amazed me as much as Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. From the very beginning, Cymbala had me hooked as he spoke of the early challenges he encountered in ministry and moved into the lessons he learned and continues to learn even in the midst of pastoring one of America’s most successful churches. Every chapter impacted me in some way and as a future pastor who has a burden for church planting, Cymbala’s points are exactly what I needed to hear.

Perhaps what attracted me to Cymbala’s book the most was how simple, plain, and scriptural it was. As a modern Christian with a burden for reaching the modern western world I often find myself frustrated and even annoyed by books that criticize anything new and innovative as “unscriptural” and that the “old ways” of evangelism and church ministry should be maintained. Cymbals book impacted me in a profound way because he did not argue for or against new methods, but he unapologetically lifted up the simplicity of true biblical ministry. This emphasis on such basic concepts as prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit greatly encouraged me as I look forward to planting churches in a secular context. For the remainder of this book report I would like to share six quotes from Cymbala’s book which I believe capture the simplicity and power of a biblical church ministry.

The first quote I would like to share comes from the very first Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire titled “The Amateurs.” In this chapter Cymbala shares the difficulties and challenges he faced during his early years in ministry when nothing (and I mean nothing) seemed to be going well for him. After experiencing their “first spiritual breakthrough” Cymbala stated, “God is attracted to weakness. He can’t resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him. Our weakness, in fact, makes room for his power” (19). Clearly Cymbala must have had 2 Corinthians 12:9 in mind for in it God says, “my power is made perfect in weakness.” This concept is a powerful one for me to learn because as a new pastor looking forward to beginning a new work of church planting I need to remember that the more I admit my weakness and lean on God for strength the more success I will experience. Ministry does not rest on my collar bones. It rests in the mighty arm of God.

The second and third quotes come from chapter two, “Catching Fire”, where Cymbala discusses the importance of prayer. Cymbala really hones in on the importance of prayer and really emphasizes the prayer meeting as the most important meeting of the church. While many of us consider the main service to be the most important, Cymbala learned that it is when we cry out to God in prayer that we begin to experience his power. I have heard it said that the early Adventists would not miss two meetings: The Sabbath school class and the prayer meeting. The main service, while important, was not as important for them as prayer and Bible study. Cymbala said it well in page 28 when he wrote, “You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or the evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting.” This is indispensable truth for those in ministry for it reminds us where the true source of power lies. It is not in our wisdom, gimmicks, charisma, or talents but in our commitment to prayer. Cymbala then goes on to quote Charles Spurgeon: “If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer” (28).

The fourth quote comes from chapter eight, “The Lure of Marketing”. This quote impacted me so much that I shouted the moment I read it. In this chapter Cymbala tackles the problem of the church’s lack of spirituality and commitment to Christ. True success can never be measured by attendance (122) and while our churches may be filled to the brim, it is commitment to Jesus that counts. Cymbala states in page 132, “The same people who want sixty-minute worship services rent two-hour videos and watch NBA and NFL games that run even longer. The issue is not length but appetite.” This is the quote that made me shout. Cymbala hit the nail on the head! As a future pastor my goal is not to meet peoples carnal needs or accommodate their unspiritual desires for non-intrusive, easy going church ministry but to help them grow in their desire for God.

The fifth and sixth quotes I would like to share come from chapter nine, “The Lure of Doctrine without Power”. This is perhaps the most important chapter for an Adventist minister to read. Historically our church has focused more on the intellectual arguments of our faith but sadly, we have done so at the expense of presenting Christ. Doctrine without power is useless. While doctrine is important it must always be centered in Christ. Cymbala states in page 145, “I can affirm the existence of Jesus Christ all I want, but in order to be effective, he must come alive in my life in a way that even the pedophile, the prostitute, and the pusher can see.” A few pages later Cymbala comes down hard when he wrote, “Does anyone really think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful” (150).

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire impacted my worldview as a minister of the gospel in many ways. I had many “aha moments” during the reading of this book and this report captures a miniature picture of how valuable this book is to me. I highly recommend this book to both clergy and laymen for it contains wisdom and power that was learned, not in the study, but in the trenches of ministry.

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Free Book Summary One Simple Idea – By Stephen Key

Stephen Key was a mentor to Tim Ferriss. If you are not familiar with Tim, he wrote two bestselling books, The 4 Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body. One Simple Idea is a “how to” book on licensing your ideas. Licensing is one of the most lucrative business models in the world. Think about these companies, Microsoft, Oracle and Apple. These companies all license their ideas and make more money per person than 99% of all other companies. I am a big fan of Real Estate but if you need to make money with less risk and less capital requirements, then licensing is the way to go.

Why is this important to me?

Most people are not familiar with the power of licensing and royalty checks. This book shows you how to do it and I will expand on the why.

Why licensing? I have had several businesses and I can tell you that licensing is by far the most lucrative of all. When you own the IP (intellectual property), your marginal revenue of the next license sold is infinite. That is a very good profit margin by anybody’s standards.

Inversion is one of the most powerful learning strategies in the world. Inversion means to look at the opposite or reverse of something. I told you above that Licensing is one of the best models out there. Let’s use inversion to show you why. When you sell somebody else’s stuff, you are only as good as your next sale. This means that no matter what, you have to buy what you sell every time. Thus your gross profit can be anywhere from 0% to 50% based on your cost structure and the competition level. This is what Wal-Mart does. Note that they are the best cost cutters in the world and competing with them head on would be a disaster.

Let’s suppose you are a consulting or service based company. Again, you are only as good as your next consulting gig. I know that consultants make a ton of money but for every hour they consult, they lose that hour of opportunity to do something else. Thus you are trading hours for dollars.

One Simple Idea is packed with great information and Stephen’s 10 step plan that shows you how to do it. We will touch on a few points.

First of all, there are two major reasons to license. Number 1 is royalty checks. You can make money while you sleep. Now you are NOT trading dollars for hours because you can be doing something else and still receive checks. Number 2 is omnipresence. You can do this from anywhere in the world. You do not have to be handcuffed to a desk in some vaulted locked building. All you need is a computer and ideas.

Stephen outlines several key factors to being successful at licensing. For the sake of time, I will highlight a few of the topics in this review.

1. Look for ideas – You do not have to be Einstein to have a break through idea. If you have ever been shopping, then you can come up with ideas. The key here is to focus on thins that really annoy you. If they annoy you then maybe they annoy others. This is a starting point for a new idea. Think about problems and come up with solutions. This also gives you a reason to go shopping.

2. Prove your idea – The traditional licensing model works like this. Find an idea, build an expensive prototype, spend a small fortune for patent protection and hope it sells. This is why most people don’t think of licensing as a viable career because the barriers APPEAR too big to bridge. Proving your idea before you spend any money is now easy to do. Google has built in traffic. It is a ready-made platform for idea creation and proof. One simple way to do this is to create a video of your idea and ask for feedback. You can do this for a few hundred dollars. This process alone will save you tons of heartache and money. You need to prove the idea before you do anything else.

3. Protect your idea- Contrary to negative belief; most companies do NOT want to steal your idea. The traditional way to protect your idea was to submit for patents. This is a very expensive endeavor. One thing Stephen points out to avoid this is a PPA. This is a provisional patent application and costs $110 to submit. This gives you Patent Pending status which is all you need for 1 year to prove your idea and get it to market. This one concept can pay for this book 5,000 times.

4. Pitch your idea – If you decide to bring your idea to market then you need to be schooled in business. This means you need money, management, and accounting, production, sales and marketing. Then after you have all this, you need customers. This is like a beginner climbing Mount Everest in the winter time. The odds all point to your death with this approach. Pitching your idea to the big guys is the way to go. They have the name brand, infrastructure and distribution channel to hit millions of people NOW. Pitching your idea is the best way to go and causes the most fear. Everybody hates to cold call but this is required for you to pitch your idea. This is much easier than it seems because companies want new ideas and that is the hook for you to get in.

One Simple Idea is an outstanding guide to help you turn your ideas into a royalty check.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is the PPA. The biggest obstacle to ideas coming to market is the shear cost of getting protection and the fear of somebody stealing your stuff. For $110, you can protect it for one year and if it makes you money then you can protect it longer. Remember, in this game, the first to market wins.

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St Therese of Lisieux Inspires Communion With the Saints As She Saves Souls With Miracles of Love

St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, is the most famous modern mystic of our times. This beloved Carmelite penned her autobiography, Story of A Soul, and captivated the hearts of readers for decades. St. Therese has always watched over me and I am amazed that it took me so long to recognize her presence. Now, I acknowledge her daily as my friend and spiritual guide.

I chose her for my patron saint because I knew her from her picture that hung in Lilly’s home where I spent a lot of happy days as a child. It was that beautiful picture of the little nun in a black habit clutching a crucifix and roses that fascinated me. I am convinced that St. Therese chose me and that is why I knew to select her for my patron saint when I was confirmed at twelve years old. I never gave her much thought growing up, but when I found myself in my darkest hour, she came to me. And it was twenty years later before I recognized her and understood how she had always been there for me.

In my darkest hour a friend told me I had a spiritual guide and described her as a woman with dark hair. My friend was psychic and she could see this presence with me. I left and went to my office in a state of total despair and asked for help from this spiritual guide. At the time I was holding a pencil over a tablet and to my complete shock and surprise, that pencil started moving slowly over the paper.

“LOUSY WORLD BETTER LOVE NOW”

Those are the words that automatically appeared on my tablet nearly twenty years ago during the darkest period of my life.

How many times had I gotten myself into trouble with my good intentions? The worst being when I married a sociopath after reading there is no cure for them, and saying to myself, I will fix him!

Oh, boy, that was the time that I entered into my spiritual trial and long dark night. A six-year period of convulsive fear and loss of every material item I owned, including my career, home, health; and worse than all of that was suffering a separation from my beloved daughter. That was my very long dark night. It was in this darkness that I found help from my unknown spiritual guide, St. Therese. She led me through without my recognizing her and I came out of that dark place and soared to new spiritual heights. The most profound being the words I heard from God, Himself, which are inscribed in my heart:

“I am the Father who created you and the Mother who loves you”

And Herself, adding in my own mother’s voice: “Why Anne, I have always been there for you.”

Ten years later I was living my Cinderella story with my new husband. It must have been another ten years after that before I found her book, A Story of a Soul. At last I recognized her! Toward the end of her book it was written that as she was dying of tuberculosis and getting weaker that she gave up her heavy pen that she was using to write her story and picked up a pencil. A pencil indeed!

Like a bolt of lightning I recognized at last the spiritual guide who had moved my pencil. And, of course, she brought me a message of love becauselove was Therese’s vocation. She made a vow on her deathbed that she would “come down and save souls!”

To this day my lovely saint continues to push my pencil as I write stories about the journey of a soul. The latest is a mystical achievement as St. Therese brings her continuing story of a soul’s journey to the pages of my book in an extraordinary adventure. Anne Urne travels the world with her cousin and describes the wondrous presence and help of the saints who come to her aid. You will marvel at the spiritual messages conveyed to her as she communes with the saints and learns that just as St. Therese always believed, heaven can be found on earth and there can be communion with the saints. A truly inspiring message that only the saints could bring and a tribute to the devotion and hard work of dedicated nuns who are responsible for bringing us the greatest spiritual classics.

Miracles are recorded and saints convey their spiritual messages in this book inspired by the most famous mystical saint of all times. Saints are present and watching over us and eager to help if we just seek them out asking for help and advice. Learn to be aware of their presence and accept their help.

The best surprise of all with this book was the recognition of Mother Agnes, the sister of St. Therese and publisher of her autobiography, Story of a Soul. Sister Agnes was probably the most single-handedly successful editor, publisher, publicist and marketing guru to ever sell so many millions of her book about Therese; a book that today has been revised to the true version, but continues to be read by millions of spiritual seekers, over 100 years since Therese’s death on September 30, 1897.

With humility and honor I welcome the addition of this most honorable sister and publisher and expect great things for the books inspired by St. Therese.

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SWOT Analysis — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

When conducting strategic planning for any company — online and/or offline — it is useful to complete an analysis that takes into account not only your own business, but your competitors’ activities and current industry happenings as well. A SWOT is one such analysis.

Completing a SWOT analysis helps you identify ways to minimize the affect of weaknesses in your business while maximizing your strengths. Ideally, you will match your strengths against market opportunities that result from voids in your competitors’ products and/or services.

Traditionally, a SWOT confines strengths and weaknesses to your company’s internal workings while opportunities and threats refer only to the external environment. Here, I suggest a twist to the “text book” approach. To get a better look at the big picture, consider both internal *and* external forces when uncovering opportunities and threats.

A Basic SWOT Analysis

You can develop the basic analysis in a brainstorming session with members of your company, or by yourself if you are a one-person shop. To begin the analysis create a four- cell grid or four lists, one for each component:

| Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats |

Then, begin filling in the lists.

Strengths. Think about what your company does well. Some questions to help you get started are: What makes you stand out from your competitors? What advantages do you have over other businesses?

Weaknesses. List the areas that are a struggle for your company. Some questions to help you get started are: What do your customers complain about? What are the unmet needs of your sales force?

Opportunities. Traditionally, a SWOT looks only at the external environment for opportunities. I suggest you look externally for areas your competitors are not fully covering, then go a step further and think how to match these to your internal strengths.

Try to uncover areas where your strengths are not being fully utilized. Are there emerging trends that fit with your company’s strengths? Is there a product/service area that others have not yet covered?

Threats. As with opportunities, threats in a traditional SWOT analysis are considered an external force. By looking both inside and outside of your company for things that could damage your business, however, you may be better able to see the big picture.

Some questions to get you started: Are your competitors becoming stronger? Are there emerging trends that amplify one of your weaknesses? Do you see other external threats to your company’s success? Internally, do you have financial, development, or other problems?

Expanded SWOT Analysis

You can take an additional step beyond a traditional “text book” SWOT analysis by delving deeper into industry dynamics. A more in-depth SWOT analysis can help you better understand your company’s competitive situation.

One way to step beyond a traditional SWOT analysis is to include more detailed competitor information in the analysis. Note Internet-related activities such as trade organization participation, search engine inclusion, and outside links to the sites. This will better help you spot opportunities for and threats to your company.

You can also take a closer look at the business environment. Often, opportunities arise as a result of a changing business environment. Some examples are:

A new trend develops for which demand outstrips the supply of quality options. Early on, the trend toward healthy eating coupled with an insistence on good-tasting food produced a shortage of acceptable natural food alternatives, for example.

A customer segment is becoming more predominant, but their specific needs are not being fully met by your competitors. The U.S. Hispanic population experienced this phenomenon in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

A customer, competitor, or supplier goes out of business or merges with another company. With the demise of many pure- play “dot coms”, examples of this abound. As each went out of business, opportunities arise to gain the defunct business’ customers.

You can also expand the reach of a SWOT analysis through surveys. You can learn more about your own as well as competitor’s sites and businesses. Areas to consider researching include 1) customer awareness, interest, trial, and usage levels, 2) brand, site, and/or company image, 3) importance of different site or product attributes to your customers, and 4) product and/or site performance.

Whether using a basic or more advanced approach to SWOT analysis, you are sure to come away with newfound insights. Use these to increase your company’s effectiveness and as input into your business or marketing plan.

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Great Ideas for Marketing Your Tile Business on the Internet

If you want to be successful at marketing your tile business, you will need to turn to the internet as your marketing solution. Thanks to the fact that most people will search online before leaving their homes to make a purchase, you will find that your tile business can have a huge advantage over your competitors if you can turn to the internet for marketing.

There are many ways that the internet can help you market your tile business. The world of internet marketing is fast becoming one of the most competitive arenas in the world, and you will find that you will have to do a good deal of work in order to market your tile business online. However, if you are willing to do the work, you will find that marketing your tile business on the internet is the best thing that you can do for your company.

Step 1: Build a Website

The first step that you will need to take to begin marketing your tile business on the internet is to create a website for your company. You can have a simple website created, as it will just be the face of your company. If you want to truly succeed, you will find that a more advanced website will be advantageous and will help you to market your website more effectively.

The reason that a more advanced website will be more effective is that more people will be enticed to visit your website. The more people you can attract to your website, the more advertising you will be able to achieve. There are many aspects of your website that will lead to your success online, but nothing will be more important than having a website that is constantly being updated. The best way to have the ability to add new information to your website is to create a blog on your website. If you can post informational articles related to your tile business, you will be able to generate more traffic that will direct people to your site. The more people that visit your site, the more likely you are to receive customers.

Step 2: Internet Marketing

Once you have built your website, you will need to start trying the various techniques involved in the internet marketing game. There are hundreds of techniques that you can try, but here are some of the techniques that will be most effective in leading customers to your website:

Social media marketing is one of the most effective internet marketing techniques, and you can start driving traffic to your site through Facebook and YouTube. Facebook is the largest social network, and you can tell all of your friends about your website. Ask them to mention it to your friends, and you will start driving traffic towards your website. YouTube is a great place for you to post videos, and you can post some instructional videos on how to lay the different types of tiles effectively. Insert a link to your website at the end of your videos, and upload them all to YouTube. The more people search for your videos, the more people will see the link at the end that will lead them to your website.

Craigslist is the largest online classified ads website in the world, and you can harness it to help you advertise your business. All you need to do is write up an advertisement for your tile services, insert a link to your website, and create a unique title that will catch the attention of readers. Post the ad in the Craigslist section for your city, and ensure that it is in the right category. Millions of people use Facebook every day, and you will find that it is one of the best platforms for advertising.

If you want to succeed in the world of internet marketing, you will find the search engine optimization is the key. The higher your ranking is on the search engines, the more likely it will be that people will find your website. Learn as much as you can about SEO, or hire a company to optimize your web page to make it as search engine friendly as possible.

Exchange links with other companies in a parallel industry to yours. Find a website that promotes painting or other construction services, and offer to promote their link on your site in exchange for them promoting your link on their site. This link exchange can be one of the most effective methods of getting your website known, as many links directed to your page will usually increase your SEO ranking. You will also find that people browsing the other websites will be interested in clicking on yours, as you are providing a service similar to the one that they are looking for.

Use Pay per Click advertisements to promote your website. Pay Per Click ads are posted all over the internet, and they are usually displayed on websites that are similar to yours. You will pay for every time someone clicks on your advertisement to visit your web page, but you will find that these PPC ads will be some of the most effective methods of driving targeted traffic towards your site.

These are just a few ways that you can start marketing your website on the internet, and the sky is the limit. The world of internet marketing is growing every day, and hundreds of new ways to market your tile business online are being discovered every month. If you are serious about marketing your tile business on the internet, you will find that you can easily learn by investing a bit of time into studying internet marketing.

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How to Conclude a Book Review

Writing a book review is great especially if you learn something new out of it. But when it comes into concluding your book review, how will manage it?

In book reviews, the conclusion is designed to reflect the focus of the rest of the piece. The idea is to leave the reader with a clearly-articulated and thoroughly polished (with the help of a quality grammar software) final assessment that brings together all the ideas you’ve presented throughout the review.

What components should go into your book reviews’ conclusions?

  1. A restatement of the topic sentence. This helps refresh the main direction of your review for the reader and is a more preferable opening sentence for your conclusion, compared to the usual approach of giving space to less-important issues, such as book format and similar details.
  2. A summary of previously stated ideas. Put emphasis on the primary qualities and materials of the book being reviewed for your summary, rather than arbitrary details (regardless of how notable they might be). It helps sum up your discussion for the reader, setting a better context for your final statement.
  3. A memorable and thought-provoking closing sentence that imparts your final recommendation. Designed to cement your recommendation to the reader, it lets you leave a final thought that endorses your general opinion of the book. You can write this as a declarative sentence or in the form of a question, for effect. Pay some extra attention here: the more elegant and impactful it is, the more likely the reader will heed your advice.
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