Monthly Archives: January 2013

Listen to the people who actually do the work

Something I learned many years ago is that people who have little to no involvement in your success always have an opinion about how you can do it better. Let the people who are in waist deep with you give you the advice to go to the next level. Get rid of the armchair quarterbacks talking in your ear. Listen to those
doing the work and those who have done the work in the past and genuinely care about your success. I remember some years ago a boss of mine asking me for my
opinion on a business matter. After our meeting, he said he appreciated my candor and honesty and that he would take it into consideration. The company then hired another guy with great credentials from another industry and followed his advice. He had not worked in our particular field, but came with great recommendations. Needless to say, his advice set the company back in the short run and cost us millions of dollars in the long run. One of our competitors
followed my input and surpassed us in the marketplace. I had a pastor who, over the years, chose not listen to my counsel, and I believe it has stunted the growth of his ministry. It also severed my tie to him, because I only go to people who celebrate me, not tolerate me – something I learned from Dr. Mike Murdock several years ago. Offer advice only to those who appreciate and respect your opinion. Listen to the people that actually do the work, my friend.

Devin Oten
DO Enterprises
Writer, Public Speaker and Philanthropist

Always maintain the proper insurance

Insurance – on so many levels – ensures wealth. If you are not properly insured, you can, and probably will, create a very serious financial liability for yourself and your loved ones. Health insurance allows us to use the full benefits of good medical treatment. Car insurance will guarantee us the peace of mind of protecting our property and losses while driving the highways with uninsured drivers. Homeowners insurance allows us to protect our most important asset, because a fire, flood or burglary is a very real possibility. Life insurance will allow us to leave something to help our loved ones achieve their dreams in our absence. Remember, we must build our own dreams, but it is also our duty to help others build their dreams. I even have homeowner warranty insurance. This covers all appliances in the home – central air and heat, refrigerator, washer and dryer, range, oven, garbage disposal, hot water heater, etc. I pay $34 per month and would not live without it. As an example, last summer, my air conditioning unit went out, and you know how hot it gets in New Orleans in the summer. I called my warranty company, and they sent someone out to fix the problem. The cost was over $3,000, and I paid nothing other than my monthly warranty rate of $34. No deductible or hidden surcharges were required of me. My dryer went out a couple of months ago, and it was repaired by my warranty. The warranty covered all expenses. I did not have to touch my emergency fund, savings account or, worse still, a credit card. Some would say: “I cannot afford these insurances.” Well, keep looking for a job that offers good medical/health insurance; sell the car if you cannot afford the insurance; look for smaller insurance companies for a good homeowners policy (or downsize or purchase a smaller home); and do the same for life insurance. Stop making excuses! My church did not have the proper flood insurance, and we suffered mightily after hurricane Katrina because of this oversight. We still have not fully recovered!

Devin Oten
DO Enterprises
Writer, Public Speaker and Philanthropist

Get out of debt!

To me, debt means giving to the past and not to the future. I
remember being in college and taking my girlfriend to a fancy restaurant
for dinner. That dinner cost $100, and it took me an entire
year to pay it off. I paid over $50 in interest for that one meal. It
is ridiculous to pay interest on a meal for an entire year. Let’s get
deeper. When you give to selfish or lazy parents you are creating
debt, as your resources should be focused on your children. Sorry,
but giving to establish your children ensures the future of this
world. (There are exceptions to this rule.)
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for
he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
(The word owe in the Greek means to be under obligation,
to fail in duty, be bound and be guilty)

“Anytime your output exceeds your input, your
upkeep will always be your downfall. So never spend
more than you take in.” Gregory B. Calhoun, CEO of
Calhoun Enterprises

Unleash the energy of your workers

I like the freedom to think and be creative, and I believe we all have a desire to create what we think. Allow the people around you to harness the creative juices within. I have made millions of dollars for my employers over the years because they understood this principle. Little do you know that someone in your midst can generate thousands – if not millions – of dollars for you and your vision. Executive level thinkers are always on the lookout for talent that will create and generate income. They see people as human capital and human resources. You must learn to be tolerant and accepting of others’ personalities and backgrounds, because insisting on a very strict culture may hinder creativity. Unleash the creative beast of those around you and watch the bottom line increase.

“Knowledge workers are the brains of the company.” Bill Gates, “Business @ the Speed Of Thought”

De-layer and get rid of the fat

If you are trying to cut costs and save money, here is a word of advice: if it’s not necessary in the overall scheme of accomplishing your goals, eliminate it. Get basic cable instead of premium channels. Have the expense of one car instead of two. Eat tuna and chicken more often than filet mignon. Wear the clothes you have for another year or two instead of the new wardrobe you planned on this year. I remember several years ago I went from earning $40,000 to $100,000 annually. Instead of spending the additional income, I decided to continue riding the bus to work and continue living in a small cottage home purchased a few years prior. I was able to establish a Roth IRA, a 401k at my job, an emergency fund, kids’ college funds and put aside vacation money. I was so excited to get to this next level of financial security t hat I turned off my cable television service for a couple of years and bought a bus pass and toll tag for my car. I began to save additional thousands of dollars annually. With this newfound respect for money, I began to build wealth at an exponential rate. I learned how to think like the people in the books “The Millionaire Next Door” and “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” You may be very comfortable at this time with the amount of money you
earn annually, but try cutting the fat for a year or two and watch your nest egg grow beyond your wildest dreams.

Be number one or number two and keep redefining the market

Executive level thinkers want to be on top – first place, the head honcho. There is a curious pride that comes with being the best at what you do. God has a “me-first” mentality, and so should you. God expects the best from us, but He only gives the best to us. Don’t get your bun in a knot thinking that this belief is heresy. Deuteronomy 28:13 says, “And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not beneath.” God has an “on top of the world” mentality that cannot be denied. His driveway gate is made of pearls. His driveway is paved with gold. He has live music played at His leisure. If you find yourself falling behind, add another level of worth to your repertoire. I have been the top salesman in every marketing position I have ever held. When I sold pest control and termite services, I asked all my customers for referrals. They became my pitchmen. Not because my sales pitch was the best, but because I asked them to allow me to correct any mistake we made. For our elder clients, I would bring fruit to them on the weekends or trim their hedges in the spring. They would give me books to read and recommend me to their families and neighbors. When I sold advertising for a publishing and Internet company, I called clients on the weekend and left messages and emails. They were impressed that I worked in the office when no one else would. They knew I would work tirelessly
to help them succeed in their marketing initiatives. I no longer had to cold call anyone because my existing clients recommended me like I was family. Please pay attention, as I’m divulging my trade secrets on making the complete sales pitch. Notice I did not say “successful” sales pitch. No one wants to be “sold,” but we all want the product we purchase to complete a goal or accomplish a task.

“Every day, in every way, I am becoming better and better.”
Emile Coue’

Watch for ways to create opportunities and to become more competitive

I remember an opportunity that presented itself to me ten years ago. A basket business owner and his wife wanted to sell me their business. They had started and run the business for 20 years and wanted to retire to Florida. They had what I thought was a great product – they shipped baskets filled with New Orleans foods and treats. I did some research and found that the business was profitable and viable. I let this opportunity slip away based on a friend’s opinion. He thought I could start such a business from scratch and not miss a beat. Well, he was wrong. They wanted to sell the business to me to help the church and our members. When I refused, he sold it to someone else for a higher price, and the new owners expanded the business. I could have purchased the business for $10,000 and made $100,000 the first year, while also providing employment for three people from my church. I learned a valuable lesson from this event in my life: keep watch for ways to create opportunities, not only for myself, but also for other people I value in my life. Competition is good because it causes us who want to win to work that much harder and smarter. Be the very best you can be at whatever it is that you do. Be the best employee with the most integrity. Be the best student with the most desire for knowledge. Be the best neighbor on the block in your community.

Nurture people who share your values

I have learned over the last 15 years that people are essential to my success. With that in mind, those relationships need to be cultivated and nurtured. Proverbs 18:24 states, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Those you trust must have access to you! They should have your attention, time and access to your family, business and home. As a young pastor, I had our church ministering to people in impoverished neighborhoods several times a week. I counseled people who were members of other churches more than my own members. In other words, I neglected the people in my ministry who fully supported me and my vision, but I did not nurture or cultivate our almost sacred relationship. I learned to care for my own first, then those outside. Matthew 15:24 states, “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel first. Let me help you relate to what I’m saying: sometimes we are kinder to the neighbor’s wife than we are to our own. We treat other folks’ children better than our own. You may cook a meal for your parents before your very own husband. The people who value family, friends, hard work and citizenship should have top-secret clearance to be in your inner circle. Nurture the people who share your values.

“Keep going, gather good people around you to do what you can’t, and focus on your gift.”
Anne Beiler, CEO of Auntie Anne’s Inc.

Create a vision, then get out of the way

To be a great leader, you must be a visionary – a person of
unusually keen foresight. To have keen foresight you must be
knowledgeable about the world in which we live. Stop hindering
your ability to achieve and succeed by surrounding yourself with
negative thinkers and talkers. This will breed lack, and executive
level thinkers need abundance to accomplish their goals and dreams.
Give your vision room to grow, develop and even change as you
grow, develop and change. You may be hindering your vision by not
allowing yourself to change your opinion or not allowing the people
you trust to change their opinions. For instance, you may have
believed 20 years ago that pork was evil, and today you think eating
pork in moderation is a good thing. You may have thought that a
website with email was a waste of time, but today it is a core part of
your business model. Let those who work for you, support you and
believe in you have some input into how it can be done better. Create
the vision, train people in excellence and integrity and watch what
you have started grow beyond your original intent or wildest dreams.

“When you decide exactly what you want, the how to
do it will emerge.” Mike Murdock

Managing less is managing better

My particular management style is the opposite of micromanaging.
I prefer to give individuals the tools and training to get the job done.
Here is the trick or key to managing successfully with this style: you
must find the right people with the right mental makeup to handle this
management style. Some people are very productive when they have
someone watching over their shoulder. They need constant attention to
perform at a high level. Managing less requires finding the absolutely
right kind of person to make your job easier or more fulfilling .Some
folks love the day-to-day grind of managing underachievers, but
remember – executive level thinkers have too many important tasks to
waste time on lazy people. “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the
lazy man/slothful will be put to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24)

“Don’t confuse efforts with results.” Thomas J. Barrack, Jr.,
CEO of Colony Capital, LLC