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Archive for September 1st, 2009

How A Russian Immigrant Revolutionized The Beauty and Movie Businesses

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

The benefits immigration has historically provided to the America economy and lifestyle has been thoroughly documented. The waves of Irish, Italian, and eastern European’s that swamped Ellis Island during the 19th century brought little more than hope and the drive to discover an opportunity to pursue a better life in the New World. They were ravaged by the historic poverty in their homelands, hungry, illiterate in many cases and did not speak English. And yet, despite these daunting obstacles, these immigrant masses were the forerunner of the diaspora that continues to this day and from which the United States has enjoyed immeasurable benefits.

Many contemporary Americans have knowledge of family histories that detail the struggles of their first generation American forefathers. There are so many famous stories of immigrant successes from the period: Sam Goldwyn (movies), Guglielmo Marconi (radio), Eugene Strauss (department stores, Macy’s), Levi Strauss and Isaac Singer (sewing machines) are only a few examples.

Max Factor was an amazing example of immigrant success and the entrepreneurial cocktail that only America has ever fully perfected. Factor was born into poverty and a large family in Russia. He came to the United States at an early age speaking no English. The name Factor was most surely an assigned “Ellis Island” name. Eventually he moved to St. Louis and took a job in a theatre.

At this time, in the late 19th and early 20th century, theatrical plays and actors were very limited by the poor gaslights of the time. Nuance, subtlety and emotion were very difficult to convey to an audience in the stage environment of the time. Mr. Factor, standing in the rear of the theatre each night, waiting for the performance to end, began to notice that the actors were limited by the lack of definition that could be seen in their faces. To be sure, they wore a type of cornstarch makeup, but they appeared as mannequins, over painted and stiff as dead mackerel. He set about finding an answer, a way to project real emotion.

His efforts were rewarded by the introduction of two seemingly obvious creations (at least obvious today): the false eyelash and pan cake makeup. Ask any actor working today what tool they use most crucially to portray emotion and they will answer, the eyes. The false eyelash Mr. Factor created was a rough, stiff, heavily glued shock of trimmed horsehair. Difficult to apply and painful to remove though they were, actors adored them. Within months Mr. Factor was creating false eyelashes for actors everywhere. They unanimously were willing to put up with the pain in return for the opportunity to project emotion to an audience with their eyes.

Pancake makeup was created to give the face a more natural glow while highlighting each actor’s unique physical features. The old starchy pastes made every actor, even male and female, look alike. Finally, there was a light, blended powder base that could be buffed to highlight features. Actors are vain. They love to display themselves, physically, emotionally and vocally. Max Factor’s pancake makeup was the breakthrough that modernized acting as a more subtle, visual art.

Mr. Factor quickly moved to Hollywood. He recognized that the future would be in moving pictures and the movies would require a completely different lineup of cosmetic products. Cameras require light. Light offered new opportunity and Max Factor was always keen to seize opportunity. He adapted pancake makeup to the new demands of movie cameras. Almost immediately, Max Factor became recognized as Hollywood’s leading, must-have makeup designer for the movie studios. His entrepreneurial instincts not sated, he began to package products for sale to the public.The most prominent retailers of the day such as F.W. Woolworth and Kresge dime stores in the United States and Boots in England carried his products. This was the beginning of a worldwide cosmetic empire that continues to prosper to this day.

During most of the 20th century Max Factor enjoyed worldwide popularity with the Company’s cutting edge beauty advances. The Max Factor name and brand became world famous.

Max Factor always praised America and revered the freedom, opportunity and economic system that he discovered here. He came with no money, spoke no English and had no formal skill. During the course of his remarkable life he was instrumental in the maturation of two major industries: cosmetics and movies. This could never have happened had he stayed in Russia.

The opportunity to fail, or succeed, is just as possible today. The opportunity to try is not available in much of the world. Men like Max Factor are inspirational. They confirm that our system, while not perfect, is better than anything else yet invented. When you hear a citizen of this country whine about, well, about everything people whine about today, remember that millions of immigrants want to still come here for a reason. There is no place on earth so open and offering so much possibility.

Please contact me at your convenience to discuss this article, or any of my other articles. In my consulting business we help many entrepreneurs, a disproportionate number of them new immigrants, to pursue their dreams. I can be reached at gficke@msn.com : www.duquesamarketing.com .

The Sales Theory of Relativity: ABC = Always Be Closing!

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The Sales Theory of Relativity: ABC = Always Be Closing!

by: Geoff Ficke

Albert Einstein’s famous “Theory of Relativity” (e = mc2) is as familiar to many millions of people as a popular modern commercial limerick for a soft drink or a jingle for a candy bar. Even though very few amongst these millions actually understand the scientific premise of the “Theory of Relativity”: people innately understand its import and relate it to its brilliant creator, the wild haired genius Albert Einstein. The famous equation is to energy, as H2O is to water. It has been seared into the collective mind of contemporary culture in even the most the most scientifically challenged people.

There is a similar equation that is as relevant, contemporary and important as it relates to the fading art and skill of selling: “ABC = Always Be Closing”! The age of instant communication, computers, teleconferencing and electronic product submissions has caused the most important business skill ever employed to generate commerce to erode in spectacular fashion. The art of selling is dying. The ability to find, cultivate, qualify and close a sales transaction is being sacrificed on the altar of impersonal contact and fill-in-the-blank approaches.

Modernists might argue, “so what if sales is a dying art, look at the consistent growth of the economy, new companies, outsourcing and emerging markets. Modern technology has facilitated this growth in a spectacular fashion”. I agree. Technology is wonderful. The ability to call anywhere in the world on a cell phone, receive e-mails 24 hours per day and FedEx documents overnight is a huge advance in efficiency and productivity.

However, if sales skills, particular the art of closing the sale, were being honed, polished and continually perfected in every organization, no matter the size, how much more commerce would be generated? The aged axiom, “nothing happens in any business until someone sells something” is as true today as it has ever been. The mating of modern technology with the application of the time-tested art of closing sales is a prescription for even more amazing economic growth and enrichment for every area of our society.
There are many excellent, successful, very rich automobile and real estate sales people. However, a visit to most auto dealers, or a house tour with the median real estate agent is all too often an exercise in frustration and an amazing window into the current poor state of the art of sales. The ability to ask questions, listen to answers, identify customer needs and supply answers to their needs is rarely exhibited. Sales people want to teach and tell before learning what the customer wants to be taught and told.

Sales people are not alone in needing to perfect selling skills. No matter what direction your career path takes you will be selling. The design engineer at an automobile company is selling his creative vision, designs and art to his supervisors and the managers that will decide whether his art makes it to showroom floors as auto product. He is competing for a finite amount of production capacity, marketing and funding money with other designers. Lee Iacocca, Harley Earl, John deLorean and Henry Ford were not just “car guys”: they were Salesmen!

Steve Jobs has launched Apple Computer twice. Once as a startup company, and in a phenomenal second act, he has resurrected the company he founded after it was left for dead a decade ago. How has he done it? Excellent product? Sure. Flair? Absolutely. But most importantly, as the face of Apple, he is always selling his brand.

In every local media market in the United States there is a businessman who becomes the face of their company, product or brand and is bombarding the public with sales messages. Often these businesses become regional and occasionally national in scope. The important point to remember is that they all started small and local. The owner, founder, or spokesperson has been able to cut through market clutter and succeed because he could identify customer needs, address those needs and sell the consumer that his product had unique benefits for them. Frank Perdue, the “King of Chicken” started locally and became the face of his nationally successful company. Californians will remember the clever auto dealer Cal Worthington. Mr. Worthington parlayed his animal-centric commercials, using dogs, lions and elephants into storied guest spots on the Tonight Show.

“Always Be Closing” is a mantra worn with pride by every successful business and sales person I have every known. From the initial contact with even the most disinterested possible client, to the actual closing of the sale, successful people are looking for ways to help fill an identified need. This is not about a hard sell. It is about providing a real benefit that the customer realizes will offer excellent value for money.

It feels great to close a sale. It is especially rewarding when you have provided a good or a service that is needed, valued and appreciated. People do not like to be sold. They like to purchase when they see how a product will benefit them. ABC is crucial in learning the REAL, not perceived or stated, needs of the client. Every question asked, every answer listened to, qualifying question offered and detail provided about a product or service is key to laying the groundwork for a successful transaction.

A key part of any application of ABC is the “discovery”. The “discovery” is so elemental, so crucial to fulfilling customer needs that any lack of attention to the discovery process is almost always the reason for failure. “Discovery” must be practiced, it is not easily taught, and certainly not taught in a formulaic process. Establishing rapport, conversational, relaxed, learning about the prospect is the door that must be entered before ever discussing the product on offer. Listening during a good “discovery” will provide endless morsels of information that can be utilized to provide the correct product to fit client needs.

Whether selling insurance, automobiles or cosmetics, working as a clerk in a bank, a waiter in a restaurant, a travel agent or a park attendant, there are constant opportunities to enhance your career by practicing ABC. The practitioner of this sales commandment will succeed. The practitioner of ABC will also discover that when it is time for the final close, the answer is so obvious to the client, that there is not much deciding required.

Whether we are citing Occam’s Razor, Moore’s Law, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Lords Commandments, ABC = “Always Be Closing” or any time honored bromide, it is wise to note the simplicity of the interred logic. Adherence to intent of these words is invaluable in enhancing performance whether in science, business, sales or life. ABC will be used daily by most people; it is only a shame that more people do not recognize that fact and strive to perfect its application.

A Famous Car Auction Offers Some Answers For United States Auto Manufacturing Woes

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

This past New Years holiday weekend, I had planned on the ritual television viewing of endless college and professional football games with my son. He is home for Christmas break from university, and the last weekend of each year we have always devoted to eating, lazing and yelling at the screen as teams with which we have no real interest slug it out in endless gridiron skirmishes. However, this year, our viewing habits were turned upside down by a re-run of a car auction.

Each January, the Barrett-Jackson Classic Automobile Auction takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona. The auction takes the better part of a week and features the most stunning car stock in the world, selling for mind numbing prices to ultra-rich celebrities and collectors. If you like cars, and as a child of the 1960’s I do, this is addictive stuff. My son and I saw very little football this weekend, as the auction ran hour after hour, a repeat of the January, 2006 auction as shown on the Speed Channel, and we were consumed.

Watching the auction was revealing on several levels: not only was the auction exciting, the cars beautiful and unique, the bidding spirited, but collectors demand for American classics overwhelmed the markets desire for all other types of collectible vehicles. Ferrari’s, Porsches and Maserati’s were offered and sold, however, all of the record sale prices were achieved by American muscle cars from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Were ANY American automobile executives in attendance, watching on television or even aware of the insatiable demand for their historic nameplates? At a time when Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, virtually all that is left of the once mighty American auto business, are losing market share, bleeding cash and shuttering factories, the demand for once-pedestrian priced rolling stock is immense. Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Hemi, Chevelle, Camaro, Firebird, Mustang, and dozens of other American auto models, all once widely sold and, at prices virtually every man could afford, commanded prices as high as $2 million. That is right: $2,000,000!

The re-run of the Barrett-Jackson 2006 auction underlined clearly what ails the American automobile business and what the prescription for a return to the glory days must include. The engineers and designers of the mid-20th century American cars loved the industry: They were car guys first, last, always! Their designs and performance enhancements reflected passion. Cars were more than mere mass transportation; they were statements of creativity, art and American leadership and inventiveness. Can any of these traits be applied to today’s bland, look alike, pedestrian offerings coming to us from Detroit?

Harley Earl at GM, Raymond Loewy at Studebaker, Lee Iacoca at Ford, John DeLorean at Pontiac, and Virgil Exner at Chrysler were craftsman whose designs and styling cues influence the worldwide auto design industry to this day. Can you name the lead designer of any contemporary American auto model working today? They are as faceless, and colorless as their vehicles.

The classic “baby bird”, the Ford Thunderbirds of the 1950’s, were allowed to atrophy, became gluttonous and boxy before being put to a long deserved death in the 1990’s. A few years ago, Ford announced to great fanfare that the Thunderbird would be re-offered in the original two-seat sport roadster presentation. Expectations were high for the “new baby bird”, pre-production bookings encouraging and publicity generous in anticipation of the return of this American classic.

Sadly, the car proved a bust on every level. Performance was dull, lines and body silhouette a pale memory of the distinctive 1950’s design and the public walked quickly away from the car. After only three years of disappointing sales, the new Thunderbird was discontinued.

Ford at least tried. My question, re-issued while watching the 2006 Barrett-Jackson auction was this: Why didn’t the new “Bird” body look exactly like the old bird, gorgeous pastel colors, cutting edge styling cues, continental kits, but with modern mechanics under the hood? The “old Bird” is a recognized classic. Every collector wants a classic Thunderbird in the garage. No one cared for the lame attempt at a pseudo-Bird as offered by today’s Ford designers.

The contemporary American car business suffers for many reasons, including legacy costs, past management mistakes and bloated staffing. However, the biggest mistake by far, and I believe any casual viewer of the Barrett-Jackson auction would agree, is the stodgy, sameness of their contemporary offerings. When a Cadillac, a Buick, a Hyundai and a Toyota look the same, the car with the lowest price, best warranty and best service history will claim the lions share of the sales. Unfortunately these are not currently benefits associated with American cars.

The historic design pedigree that naturally could, and should be attached to American models has largely been forfeited. When a 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda (original sticker price, $4000) sells for over $2 million and Shelby Mustangs regularly sell for $1 million the market is making a clear statement. Is any body in Detroit paying attention?

Why First World Entrepreneurs Are the Third Worlds Best Friend

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

Many years ago I watched a television news interviewer allow Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, the de-facto dictator of Ghana at that time, to rant about the absolute rape of his tiny, poverty stricken west African nation, by multi-national companies like Nestle. Ghana’s major export product was the cocoa bean. Nestle, Hershey and other major chocolate purveyors were Ghana’s major customers for the cocoa bean. Rawling’s gripe: commodity prices were unfair to Ghanian growers based on the high retail prices enjoyed by the manufacturers as reflected in their finished products.

A bit of perspective is important as regards cocoa beans, and, indeed, all commodities. The cocoa bean, as grown and harvested, is inedible. It is tough, dry, bitter and rock hard. Native Ghanian’s historically had no use for the beans and considered them a nuisance.

That is, until the 19th century when Europeans perfected the process of converting the cocoa bean into refined lusciously tasty, highly desired chocolate food products. For centuries, chocolate was a dilettante’s delight, the food of royalty. Chocolate was rare, expensive and difficult to distill. Nestle, Cadbury and Hershey were among the many businesses that perfected the mass manufacturing processes essential to bringing the delights of chocolate to the masses, and as a result, created the market for the formerly unwanted Ghanian cocoa beans.

The pricing of the raw cocoa beans that Flight Lt. Rawlings was so agitated about are controlled by market forces. A socialist dictator, of course, does not understand market forces. Supply and demand, drought, market conditions and competitive forces determine what any commodity is worth on any given day. Without an industrial process capable of converting a commodity into a finished product, a system to distribute that finished product and an organized marketplace for the sale and consumption of finished goods, there would be virtually zero value in most of the world’s raw materials.

The genius of capitalist markets is reflected in the sweep of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”. As entrepreneurs have pursued opportunities to commercialize their ideas they have unwittingly created sub-markets for commodities that were once considered useless. The cocoa bean, without the modern creation of a manufacturing system, distribution channel and consumer desire for refined chocolate products, is only one obvious example of markets turning something of no value into a marketable commodity with real value.

For centuries the Middle East camel caravans and traders were confronted with a constant nuisance: trade routes were often submerged in a bog of oil seeping uncontrolled from beneath the earth. The resulting need to chart and create new routes was time consuming and expensive. Oil was considered the “devils drink”. Camels could not drink oil. The Bedouin could not sleep or wear the oil.

The dawn of industrialization, mechanization, steam engines, the internal combustion engine and mobile transit created a need for significant stocks of oil. Initially, oil was plentiful and affordable in the United States. Petroleum engineers, anticipating the coming worldwide demand for petroleum distillate products, visited the Middle East in the 1920’s. The first oil concessions were negotiated with the House of Saud, and thus began the rise of omnipotent Middle East oil principalities. This is but another example of an unwanted, valueless commodity suddenly gaining remarkable currency as a result of industrial, really entrepreneurial success.

Bauxite, plutonium, titanium, cobalt, magnesium, and dozens more raw materials and minerals are of immense value in our contemporary world because, and solely because, modern economies have created products and industries that have need of these elements. The final products we see on our store shelves, personally consume or utilize to perform our work usually consist of a perfected blending of the world’s commodities that alone, have little use or value.

Have peoples and countries been exploited of their indigenous raw materials? Absolutely, and forever and a day this has occurred. Long before the industrial revolution people were robbed, enslaved and exploited by stronger groups in order to exploit water, salt, cattle or some perceived benefit that was not readily available to them. The modern industrial craving for raw materials to propel industrialization has been a real fact.

My point and perspective is to simply state the obvious: raw materials often have no intrinsic value as stand alone products or consumables. Without a marketplace that creates demand and valuations for minerals as product components, native peoples would enjoy even lower standards of living than Jerry Rawlings and so many current third world leaders, continually complain about.

The discussion of the appropriate use of mineral revenues by third world countries is for another article and another day. Suffice it to say that rarely does a specific nations mineral wealth benefit the native population. Vast amounts of revenues that could be applied to indigenous poverty, lack of education and economic development seems to wind up in off-shore accounts, yachts and Parisian shopping sprees.

The third world peasant unknowingly has a great benefactor in every entrepreneur. Because so much of the second and third world lacks basic property rights and rule of law, there is a resulting lack of entrepreneurial activity in these poor countries. Patent protection, intellectual property rights and transparent legal systems are essential for entrepreneurial endeavor to thrive.

Innovation that utilizes the raw materials so prevalent in many poor countries is the engine that can, and should be instrumental in eliminating poverty and ignorance. Demagogue’s ranting about the abuses of capitalism inevitably are key to keeping their populations poor. The entrepreneur, with a better mousetrap and a plan to market the device, is far more beneficial to the peasant living in darkness than the charismatic blowhard with a bushel full of rhetorical claptrap and a Swiss bank account.

Since the dawn of capitalism and the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs have created products, services and whole industries that have improved the human condition. The poorest amongst us, living in the most remote third world villages, have enjoyed at least some indirect benefits of this flood of inventiveness. The real shame is that demagogues, charlatans and political poseurs keep so many people in the dark and removed from the full benefits of participating in capitalist, profit seeking, entrepreneurial enterprise.

Inventions such as polio vaccine, the telephone, the laser, freeze-drying and flight are of amazing benefit to the poor. The capacity of the internet and electronic media to enlighten, and thus embolden formerly untouched villagers with hope, education, and ambition to improve their lot is on display in many areas of the third world. This march will not be stopped. Once people are exposed to modern comforts, opportunities and methods to peacefully improve their lot, well, as the old saying goes: “It is hard to keep them down on the farm”.

The drive to be entrepreneurial is deeply imbedded in human nature. The opportunity to use natural resources productively and profitably is just as possible in the third world as anywhere else, if transparent legal systems are in place. Creating jobs, profits and new products is what successful entrepreneurs do best. It is unfortunate that third world poverty is wrongly blamed on productive uses of indigenous resources that would be of no value to anyone if left in the ground. The real misfortune for the worlds forgotten poor is their exclusion from full economic participation in so many economies based on the willful, spiteful complicity of their leaders.

As a counselor and consultant to many entrepreneurs I am always amazed at the spirit and drive they exhibit. As I have become an internet user over the years, I am really encouraged by the contacts I receive on a daily basis from prospective entrepreneurs living in countries and continents that are not normally associated with creativity and free markets. In most situations, these hopeful entrepreneurs will not have the ability to commercialize their ideas. However, the mere fact that they have ideas, ambition and courage, despite the circumstance of their geography should be of great solace to all of us. A better world can happen and freedom, personal and commercial, will be the first rail of such a world.

The Sad Case of Humans Not Learning The Lessons of History – Dutch Tulip Craze and South African Milk Culture Type Ponzi Schemes Are Too Prevalent Today

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

For the past several years I have been amazed at the continual bombardment of radio, television and print advertisements offering people the supposed opportunity to work, profit, succeed and be independent with little pain or effort required. Every night there are numerous 30 minute long form infomercials touting real estate, multi-level marketing, foreclosure, stock trading schemes, warehouse purchasing, and more, all aimed at inducing the viewer to take part, make an investment, buy a course and sit back as success falls into their laps. I wish that it could be so!

Obviously these shameless pitches are working. Commercial time and print advertising are very expensive, even at 3:00 in the morning on the Home and Garden Channel. Gullible people have always found the con irresistible, and con artists are only too happy to grease the inevitable human hope that riches can be easily attained.

The Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi created the scam for which his name is so nefariously linked: the Ponzi Scheme. Mr. Ponzi was not the first, just the first to be caught and publicized, as a seller of goods he did not own. The first purchasers of these products seem to realize an excellent return on their investment. The Ponzists’s then proceed to tout this return too many other investors creating a feeding frenzy, greed being the principal motivator, with the last sets of participants owning deeds, warrants or contracts worth nothing. Money gone, hope shattered, trust gone, the losers in these schemes would seem to be a cautionary trial horse for everyone seeking to become involved in the chimera of something great to be gained for very little risk.
Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, many of us will suspend our disbelief and good judgement and join the frenzy.

The Dutch experienced an infamous spin of the Ponzi Scheme in the 1700’s: The Tulip Craze. A tulip mania was created by promoters that lured thousands of unsuspecting of Dutch families into converting their savings and land into tulip farms. The theory was that worldwide demand for tulips was so great and commercial farming capacity so limited, that planting the crop would yield huge profits. Bulb stocks became hot commodity investment vehicles. As prices soared the mania quickened. Alas, the reality was that hugely inflated, mature tulip crops had no greater market outlets than in prior years. The winners were the fad promoters. Well, at least the tulip is a beautiful flower, and Holland must have been very fragrant and colorful during the craze.

A more contemporary example of a whole society losing their minds over what now seems to be lunacy was the 1980’s craze over Cleopatra’s Secret. A South African promoter created the myth that a milk culture was the miracle ingredient in a skin cream called Cleopatra’s Secret. The cream was supposedly uniquely formulated with a key ingredient derived from aging milk cultures in petree dishes placed in strategically determined climactic conditions. This was the reputed secret of the legendary Egyptian queen’s beauty.

During periods of the 1980’s virtually every house in South Africa seemed to have milk cultures sitting in sunny windows, smelling up the dwelling.

The South African Stock Exchange had a booming listing for the company that was purportedly selling the milk culture kits that were ultimately to be harvested: on a regular basis to produce the miracle cream.

Oops, a funny thing happened on the way to thousands of housewives cashing in on the Cleo mania: the promoter shut down, there was no after-market for milk culture. Unfortunately for South Africa, the country was not as fragrant or lovely as Holland awash in tulips. Milk cultures stink!

Today the scam artists pitches are smoother, more believable and so tantalizing to so many people hoping to take a shortcut to comfort, profit and freedom from boring toil. The opportunity to work from home, at your pace and leisure and profit based on your needs is intoxicating to millions. No money down, just follow the time-tested template lesson plan, we have eliminated all of the pitfalls from the fool proof program, and so many similar spiels are targeted to make the consumer feel almost foolish if they are not participating in the game.

I have a rhetorical question we should consider when presented these get rich quick pitches: “If this is so profitable, why aren’t you (the marketer) spending 100% of your time capitalizing on this gold mine formula, rather than selling a video course, or a how-to book for a few dollars”? “Would you altruistically share a multi-million dollar secret with strangers when there are piles of money left to be made”? We all know the answer?

There is no get rich quick scheme that I have ever discovered, and believe me I have looked. Unless there is illegality involved, you will have to settle for getting rich slow. The prudent investor, inventor and businessperson will always win out over the reckless dreamer.

My firm views hundreds of new product submissions each year. Many have real commercial merit and potential. Most do not. The products that have real success opportunities offer user benefits of real value. A product that helps improve an experience or need always can find a home. The key point to consider when pursuing an economic opportunity is the markets need for that particular product, service or invention. If that niche need can be identified and filled, then chances increase exponentially for a successful placement.

Millions of people cultivating tulips, or tending smelly milk cultures, seeking foreclosure opportunities, or chasing the latest get rich fad will always lead to disappointment. Even worse than the money lost investing in these scams is the loss of trust.

The next time you are exposed to an advertisement promising to change your life, add to your income, enable you to buy a McMansion or a helicopter, and obtain riches painlessly, be very cynical, very careful. There are no shortcuts to success. If there were, we would all be very rich and probably have our own infomercials.

The author, Geoff Ficke is an international marketing consultant and small business expert. A frequent radio and television guest, Mr. Ficke is also a university lecturer, mentor and coach. He can be reached at gficke@msn.com – www.DuquesaMarketing.com – 859-567-1609 .