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The Michael Masterson Collection

15- Ultimate Wealth Building Secrets Extracted from the Journal of Multi Millionaire

Best Selling Author - Entrepreneur

and Advisor

MICHAEL MASTERSON!

“The Michael Masterson Collection is nothing less than wisdom for the ages. A priceless selection of fifteen thought provoking- profit producing, soul searching essays, insights and golden nuggets all

Jason

serious wealth building students can not afford to be without” Holland, Associate Publisher Early to Rise

©Copyright 2011 by Early to Rise

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing by the publisher.

Published by:

Early to Rise 245 NE 4th Avenue, Suite 201 Delray Beach, FL 33483 Website: http://www.earlytorise.com

Table of Contents

Introduction

3

What Does it Really Take to Change Your Life?

7

How to Change Your Work Habits and Become

11

a

Success Machine

Taking the Big Leap

15

What it Really Takes to Become Wealthy

18

Three Ways to Get Rich

20

Motivation

28

Evolution, not Revolution

32

The “Passkey” That Can Get You In With Hollywood Big-Wigs, Fortune 500 CEOs, Famous Authors, and More

37

Getting Wealthy from Inflation

41

Riding the Trend Wave

50

Are You Resilient Enough?

56

How to Think like a Multimillionaire

60

Tracking Your Success: Why You Should Keep

68

a

Daily Journal.

Free Wealth Building Tips and Strategies from Real Experts.

73

Introduction

If you’re an Early to Rise subscriber, you no doubt are among the thousands of others who eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Michael Masterson Journal inside your inbox, each and every Saturday.

And if the letters we receive from loyal ETR followers is any indication at all, you’re also among those who can barely contain your excitement as you wait for your copy to arrive in order to find out if yet another wealth building insight, success story, or leading edge program designed to fulfill your dreams of wealth and freedom, is waiting for you to uncover.

That’s exactly what the Michael Masterson Journal is designed to do. And by all accounts, thanks to readers just like you we’re doing just that.

Michael and the entire team at ETR are here to support you and we consider it a distinct privilege to be able to provide you with:

Inspiration

Motivation

Encouragement

Support

Education

Guidance

And Ongoing Wealth Building Opportunities

That

make it possible for you to acquire the level of prosperity you desire, and

the success you dream about.

It’s letters like this one from Theo that make it all worthwhile.

I can’t describe how helpful ETR is

“I’ve been subscribed to your newsletter for a long time, and I can’t describe how helpful ETR is. You give a lot of support – and in most cases, your articles seem to be written for me. Thank you for drawing my attention to some details which I hope will finally put me on the path to a better, richer life.”

Theo P.

Like all subscribers to the Michael Masterson Journal , you get to hear directly from Michael himself, our Founder and Editor Emeritus. In each edition, he gives you his off-the-cuff take on business and life.

The one common denominator we have discovered that binds every reader of

the Michael Masterson Journal can be described in two words Oriented.”

”Success

This simply means you are an individual who actively searches for answers and proven solutions that can remove the barriers that may be impeding and perhaps even bringing a halt to your dreams and visions for acquiring the wealth, security and peace of mind that allows you and your family to enjoy a life style free of financial worry.

If this is you, you’ll quickly discover

The

Michael Masterson Collection is nothing

less than wisdom for the ages. A priceless selection of fifteen thought provoking- profit producing, soul searching essays, insights and golden nuggets all serious wealth building students can not afford to be without

Each and every chapter is and of itself a treasure trove of life enhancing, business building and wealth creating insights.

You see, as Michael points out, sometimes what we need first is an attitude adjustment, which is the topic we begin with in this collection.

What you’ll quickly realize as you move from essay to essay, is that each succeeding chapter is one more piece of the puzzle that further enriches and adds to the knowledge you need, in order to bring your own success story one step closer to fulfillment.

While on the other hand, the thread which weaves through each lesson in this anthology comes in the form of a realization that the attitudes, mind sets and

actions described in each of the selections, are the very same ones Michael used

to transform himself from a non motivated young person

motivated over achiever, and multimillionaire we all know and look up to today.

into the super self

He also knows from personal experience that oftentimes change starts with an honest self assessment, combined with a full speed ahead effort and desire.

What will become abundantly clear as you delve in to these works is that Michael Masterson is someone who not only ‘talks the talk but walks the walk’.

And like most others, your ah ha moments will come as you find yourself absorbed in Michael’s extensive 30+ year knowledge base of ultra successful, no-holds-barred advice and insights on marketing, entrepreneurship, publishing, investing, politics, alternative medicine, personal success, and so much more.

Regardless of where you are at in your own wealth creation journey, each pearl of wisdom you encounter here will not only challenge you mentally, emotionally and physically, but is sure to ignite a burning desire within you to fulfill and obtain each and every personal and financial goal you have ever desired. And enjoy the ride each step of the way.

You’re about to discover that inspiration, focus, determination and acting upon the right kinds of information as laid out in the Michael Masterson Collection, is a sure fire way to make your dreams of financial independence a living breathing reality in the coming weeks, months and years.

Placing you in a position to enjoy the life you want, on your own terms!

Jason Holland, Associate Publisher Early to Rise

What Does It Really Take to Change Your Life?

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Abraham Lincoln

I was 13 when I first heard the word “underachiever.” Mrs. Growe, my ninth-

grade English teacher, used it to describe a student who had, in her opinion, failed to work to his potential. The student? Yours truly.

“Mr. Masterson,” she announced to the class, “is the classic example of an underachiever. He doesn’t complete his work assignments. He shows up late for class and then wastes his time daydreaming. As a result, he produces C work. From a child with modest potential, I would be happy with mediocre results. In his case, I am very disappointed.”

I was not surprised at the assessment. It was accurate. I couldn’t deny it. The

female maturation process held my interest at that time. That and football. And

goofing around with my friends. And just about anything else but schoolwork.

I wasn’t a good reader. And I couldn’t sit still during class. Much later I

discovered that I was suffering from a combination of dyslexia and what is now called “attention deficit disorder.” But neither Mrs. Growe nor I knew about such things then. As far as she was concerned, I was a perennial slacker. I shared her opinion.

At least once a year, however, I promised myself that I would “turn over a new leaf.” I sensed, as Mrs. Growe did, that I was not as dumb as my grades suggested. And I felt, deep down in my bones, that eventually I’d make a success of myself.

But before I could be successful, I had to change something very fundamental about myself. And that change began at the end of my senior year, when I woke up one day and realized I was disgusted with myself.

I was tired of being the perennial screw-up. I was sick of getting lousy grades and playing the fool in class. I wanted to become the person Mrs. Growe thought I should be. But it seemed to be too late. There was only a month to go before graduation, and it was obviously impossible to rectify four years of poor performance in so short a time.

Since my grades were mediocre, I had no chance of getting a college scholarship. And since my parents couldn’t afford to help me with tuition, I had no choice but to attend a local community college. The community college was happy to take my $400 a year, and would be equally happy to give me the Cs I had been earning in high school. But I wasn’t willing to live that life any longer.

I realized that, oddly enough, my lack of success was a benefit in disguise. I was about to put myself in an academic environment where mediocrity held sway – where I would be competing with other high-school screw-ups just like me.

What if I used the remaining time I had in high school to prepare for a new and better life in college? What if I directed my energy toward developing skills and habits that would help me succeed over the next four years?

And that’s exactly what I did. The Saturday after I made my big decision to change, I drove my ‘56 Bel Air to Nassau Community College in Hempstead, NY.

I gathered together everything I could about the school and the curriculum I was

going to be involved in. I brought it all back home with me and spent the rest of the weekend carefully reading every pamphlet and brochure.

I was doing something I had never done in school: getting ahead of my

competition by planning my success. In the next few weeks, I became a minor expert in that little college. I knew every course they offered, every major they offered, and every teacher who’d be teaching freshmen that year.

Taking the initiative to plan my success gave me a very positive feeling. I could actually feel myself changing. I was becoming – even before I began – a serious and committed student.

I realized that I would be starting college as a brand-new person. None of my

teachers would have heard about my high-school antics, and none of my fellow

students would be expecting me to be the class clown.

Starting college without the bad reputation I had established in high school was like a gift from the academic gods. I could walk into my new classes as an interested, enthusiastic student who was there to succeed.

And that’s what happened. I showed up for classes in September on time, prepared with the required texts. I sat in the front row and raised my hand whenever the teacher asked questions. I did my homework assignments and spent my spare time studying. Between attending classes, studying, and running a house-painting business on the side, I worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

By the end of the first semester, I had the reputation of being an A student. Throughout the rest of my college and graduate-school career, I never retrenched.

I sometimes think about what would have happened to me if I hadn’t finally become disgusted with myself. Or if I had failed to make those preparations that allowed me to turn over a new leaf.

It’s highly likely I would be grinding out a living somewhere, working a job I didn’t like, struggling to pay my bills and making futile resolutions – knowing I’d live out my life as a habitual underachiever.

The difference for me was the simple realization that if I didn’t change myself, my life wouldn’t change – not then or ever. I had wasted my high-school years making promises I never truly meant to keep. But I was tired of doing that.

Thinking back, I can see that there were several factors that allowed me to change in a serious and committed way:

First, I had bottomed out emotionally. I had finally reached a point where I truly detested myself for not achieving what I felt was my potential.

Second, I made a decision to change completely – to go from being a C student to the top of my class.

Third, I recognized that I would have to change not just my work habits but the way I thought about myself. I would have to “become” the A student I wanted to be.

And last, but not least, I took action immediately. I didn’t wait till September to make the change. I started right away by preparing myself to succeed during my final months of high school.

Have you made resolutions that you’ve failed to keep? Held dreams of success and happiness that you’ve failed to fulfill? Do you sometimes feel that, however much you’ve done, you are still, in part, an underachiever?

If so, there is good news. Your past behavior has no bearing on your future work habits. If you can change the way you work – even just a little – you can change the way you live.

Most people reading this will think, “I don’t need another motivational speech. What I need is a change of luck.”

I’m here to say that luck had nothing to do with the change in my life. And it needn’t have anything to do with whatever changes you would like to make in yours. Had I waited for luck to come to me, I might be waiting still. My life changed when I got fed up and started planning my success.

You, too, can change your life if you are: (a) dissatisfied with the lack of success you’ve had so far; (b) willing to make a big change – and not just a minor adjustment; (c) prepared to start working differently and thinking about yourself as a different kind of person; and (d) willing to start now by preparing yourself to succeed.

The best way I know of to do that right now is to read my new book, The Pledge, from which this essay was excerpted. You can order today.

One of my close personal friends and business associates, George Franklin, a business owner, took himself from bankruptcy to millionaire in four short years after following the same core principles in The Pledge.

David Kelly, an overworked South Florida doctor, went from working 80 hours a week and squeaking by to having a net worth of seven figures – all while slashing his workweek down to just 15 hours. He credits the techniques I later wrote about in my book.

Here’s just a small taste of what you’ll find in The Pledge

Why most people never realize their dreams. Two key factors that get in the way and how to avoid them.

Crucial step you must take before you set another goal. Or you risk achieving the wrong goals and winding up miserable.

Crucial connection between your self worth and your ability to make money. And a common, easily-avoidable mistake that ruins both.

Take charge of your time and make more steady progress towards your goals. How to make sure you never let another day get away from you.

Escape the tyranny of the urgent. How urgent tasks – both important and unimportant – burn you out and ensure that you never make progress towards your goals.

Six simple steps you can take right now to become number one in your class, job, or outside interest.

Order it here today.

How to Change Your Work Habits and Become a Success Machine

“If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it,

change the way you think about it”

Mary Engelbreit

Throughout the year, I’ve been providing you with a blueprint for changing your life. So far, we’ve covered the difference between goals, objectives, and tasks… and how to structure a plan for success.

You may be motivated to get to work on your plan, but worried because you have never been able to work as hard as you know you will need to. You’ve made resolutions before. And you’ve even started to make improvements. But you have been distracted by problems and unexpected events. And you have stopped.

That’s the big problem you face now. How can you make sure you keep on working?

The following story, which dates back 40 years, explains how I did it.

How I Became an “A” Student

Near the end of my senior year of high school, Mrs. Bigsley, the career counselor, called me into her office.

“I’ve been looking at your grades and your aptitude tests and your conduct reports,” she said, thumbing through a stack of papers.

I waited expectantly. Mrs. Bigsley was the person in charge of getting students into good colleges and universities. “Maybe she’s seen the potential I have,” I thought. “Maybe she is going to help me get into an Ivy League school.”

She put the stack of paper down on her desk and looked up at me.

”In all my years of teaching, I have never seen such a complete waste of DNA,” she said. “Your parents are college teachers, are they not?”

I admitted they were.

“And your two elder siblings were ‘A’ students?”

“Yes, but…”

“And they went to top universities on scholarship?”

“Yes, but…”

“I’ve talked to Mrs. Crow, your homeroom teacher. And Mr. Dean and Dr. Mackel, too. They all say the same thing. You will never amount to anything that has anything to do with reading, writing, or math. Your grades support their opinion.”

“But…”

”Your performance in high school indicates only one career choice as far as I can see: enlisting in the Army. I think you should talk to a recruiting officer. As soon as possible.”

I tried once more to protest, but Mrs. Bigsley – and apparently Mrs. Crow and Dr. Mackel and Mr. Dean – had come to a fixed decision. I was a complete and utter failure as a student.

It was the low point of my academic life. It was humiliating. I felt nearly defeated.

But Mrs. Bigsley’s low assessment of me made me mad. I stewed about it that night and woke up the next morning with a completely new frame of mind.

I decided I would no longer be a screw-up. From that moment on, I was going to be a good student.

I started immediately by enrolling at the local community college. (If you have a beating heart, they accepted you.) Then I planned my summer. When I wasn’t working, I would spend every waking hour reading and preparing for the classes I’d be taking.

Each day, I felt better about myself. I was learning what I should have learned in high school. Day by day, I was making progress.

Still, I was afraid that when I started classes I might revert to my bad habits. To make that scenario less likely, I found a “nerd” to share an apartment with and refused to sign up for any sports or pledge any fraternities. I also told my friends that I would be “out of touch” for at least a year. I explained my goals to them and asked them to respect me by leaving me alone until the following summer.

What I was doing, I realize now, was making a radical personality change. I was changing the way I thought about myself – not by thinking positive thoughts but by taking specific actions that made me feel like a good student.

When college began in September, I sat in the front row of every class, something I’d never done in high school.

I made it a point to always do at least 50 percent more than I was asked to do. If

the assignment was to write a 500-word essay on religion, I’d write 750 words and include a glossary of impressive sources. If the assignment was to read King Lear by the following week, I’d read it twice. And then I’d go to the library and read critical essays about the play so I’d be aware of all the major interpretations.

I raised my hand every time a question was asked. And I turned in extra work, even when it would get me no extra credit.

In short, I turned myself into a full-blown hardworking, overachieving, ass-kissing “A” level student… and I made sure my instructors, and my fellow students, saw me that way.

In the beginning, other students in my classes did as much work as I did. But as the weeks went by, many of them started slipping. Each time one of them fell behind, I was motivated to work even harder. And I was thrilled when I got those early test scores back. I had never before understood how good it could feel to get an A or B+.

Those good feelings motivated me to push even harder. With each passing week, the distance between me and the other “good” students widened. And by the time freshman year was over, I saw myself as a completely different person. I was no longer the funny screw-up I’d been in high school. I’d changed into the “Teacher’s Pet” who sat in the front and had the right answer to every question.

Once my image of myself changed, my motivation became permanent. I was among the best two or three students in every class. I was going to keep that position, no matter how much work it took.

I maintained an “A” average for two years and easily got into City University – a tougher school – where I continued to perform as I had become used to

performing. Two years later, I graduated magna cum laude. Two years after that,

I graduated at the top of my class at the University of Michigan. And later, at Catholic University, I received honors on my doctorate work.

To become the hardworking person you must become, here is what you should

do:

1. Get up early, and give your day a jumpstart by doing something meaningful…

first thing.

3.

Do at least 50 percent more than what is asked of you.

4. Volunteer for challenging assignments.

5. Educate yourself on the side.

6. Become better than anyone else at the essential skills you need to accomplish

your goal.

Becoming top dog takes a lot of extra time, so you’ll have to make significant sacrifices. If you are like most people, your biggest distractions will be television, the Internet, friends, and family. Get rid of your TV. Limit your “recreational” use of the Internet to one hour a day. And let your friends and family members know that you won’t be able to spend much time with them in the foreseeable future.

Work like mad until you’ve become number one in your class, job, or outside interest. When that happens – and it shouldn’t take more than six months – you’ll feel great about yourself. And once you experience that feeling, you’ll never have to worry about motivation again.

Well… almost never. Everyone needs a motivational recharge once in a while. But after the first time, you’ll understand exactly what you have to do to get yourself going again.

Taking the Big Leap

“Whether you think you can or think you can't You are right.” ~Henry Ford

Sometime in your business career, you will have a chance to do something — and it will be obvious to you that you are looking at a great opportunity. However, you will realize that you simply don’t have the time, the knowledge, or the resources to meet that challenge. If you are sensible, you will probably say “No thanks,” and bow out. But — if the opportunity is really extraordinary — you might want to try the Grand Canyon Jump.

I’m thinking of Robbie Knievel’s now-famous motorcycle jump over the Grand Canyon. (Robbie Knievel is the son of legendary daredevil Evel Knievel.) The story I heard was that the idea was based on his father’s failed attempt at the same stunt.

I remember one of the very first times I took a “Grand Canyon Jump” — albeit in

a much less bold way. It was more than 10 years ago. Early to Rise was brand- new, and I was still learning how to apply my direct-marketing background to the Internet. I got an invitation to speak at a seminar about Internet marketing. Trouble was, I knew next to nothing about the subject. Certainly not enough to make a speech about it. (Number One Rule of Effective Speaking: Know what you’re talking about.)

But I agreed to make the presentation, because I figured it would force me to think about this important and growing part of my business. Not only did I agree to talk, I agreed to a title for my speech — “7 Myths About the Internet and 7 Ways to Profit From It” — that was, given my experience at the time, audacious.

Since then, I have made the leap many times — and it has turned out to be the driving force behind my “Ready, Fire, Aim” philosophy.

When I really want to do something but have no idea how to do it, I don’t just agree to do it — I promise myself that I will do it very well. I set a high hurdle for myself.

I suppose what I’m doing is fueling my will power with the fear of humiliation.

But it works. Most of the time.

In the case of my “7 Myths About the Internet” speech, I pushed myself because I had to. I did it by reading about what others had done. By observing what my own employees were doing — what was working and what was failing miserably.

By trying some stuff on my own. And I made remarkable progress. In fact, after only two months, I had gotten to the point where 80 percent of what I read about Internet marketing either (1) bored me because it was so simple, or (2) infuriated me because it was so obviously wrong.

As the weeks passed and the day of the presentation grew nearer, I found myself thinking harder about the subject. More than ever, I was aware of how other media that I was well-versed in (direct mail, print advertising, etc.) reminded me of the Internet. Bit by bit, it was coming together.

When the event finally took place, I had come up with about a dozen useful ideas and observations that felt right. Many of these defied conventional wisdom. But when I heard what other presenters were saying — their accounts of what had succeeded and failed for them — it all made sense.

My presentation worked. It felt good. I was full of energy when I gave it, thinking, “Hey, this really is important!” And I got a good reaction from the audience. Most important, I got what I hoped to get: a foundation of ideas that have helped me — and will continue to help me — make money on the Internet.

These days, trying to do anything in addition to holding onto your job may seem like an enormous challenge. And rightly so. But that’s all the more reason to make the Grand Canyon Jump.

Think about one thing that you have not done or declined to do that could be very good for your career long-term. It could be something general, like learning how to sell on the Internet… or something more specific, like making your next sales presentation or pay-per-click campaign work.

The next step is to announce your intention. Contact the appropriate parties and let them know what you’ve decided to do.

Finally, set a high standard for yourself. Set the standard so high that it seems foolish or pretentious — and then start thinking about how you can actually achieve it.

You can’t change the laws of physics. Robbie Knievel jumped over a “narrow” section of the Grand Canyon — but he got over it. And that gave him not only a temporary career boost but also an achievement that he will always be remembered for.

So what’s it going to be? When — and how — are you going to make your Grand Canyon Jump?

[Ed. Note: This essay is an excerpt from Michael Masterson's new book, The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life. In the book, Michael teaches you how to reinvent your life by putting together a personal master plan.

It's a formal contract between the person you are today (fed up with the problems and lack of success you've been having) and the person you have decided to be (the you who is healthy, wealthy, happy, and wise).

You will discover how to transform nebulous ambitions into specific objectives and how to apply them to the important people, projects, and processes that will give you success.

This is not a book on goal setting. It is a blueprint for fundamental change. Once you have experienced even one day of Michael's revolutionary system, you'll be hooked for life.

What it Really Takes to Become Wealthy

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will

To

trust yourself to test your limits.

That is the courage to succeed.” Bernard Edmonds

“I don’t have your attitude,” Jeff said to me. “I just don’t have the mindset of someone who can make a lot of money.”

“Do you want to make a lot of money?” I asked him.

“That’s the sad thing,” he said, smiling wryly. “I do.”

“Well then,” I said, “why don’t you forget about your attitude and focus on your behavior?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why don’t you stop thinking about why you can’t make a lot of money and do something to make it happen?”

“Such as?”

I handed him a piece of paper. “Start by writing down how much you’d like to be worth in 20 years.”

He did it.

“Now,” I said, “let’s talk about how you can build up to that number, year by year.”

By the end of an hour, he had net worth goals for 20 years running. His target for the current year was very achievable. He was motivated.

“This is great!” he said.

“How do you feel about it?”

“I think I can do it.”

Attitude can change behavior, but it is much more common for behavior to change attitude.

To put it another way: Getting wealthy doesn’t depend as much on whether you are a positive person or a negative one as it does on the specific actions you take, or fail to take. There is so much misinformation about this subject in the self-help industry.

The wannabes out there want to believe there is a mental switch inside them that, if they could find it, would instantly transform them from couch potatoes to human money machines.

“The switch is somewhere in your brain,” they argue. “Find it, trip it, and the rest is easy.”

Yes, it is easy to become wealthy… if you follow the practical, action-oriented wealth-building advice we give you in ETR.

But if the only thing you are willing to do is think about getting richer, you are going to be disappointed.

You may not like what I’m saying, but you need to hear it. Please trust me on that.

I am not saying that I don’t believe in positive thinking. I absolutely believe that it helps in many ways.

When I brush my teeth every morning, I smile at myself in the mirror at least a dozen times to give me energy and put me in a productive mood. And when I’m going to give a speech, participate in a wrestling match, or make a presentation, I use visualization to mentally prepare myself to do well.

But those things are not going to turn me into a money magnet.

To develop the power to create wealth, you need to take certain very specific wealth-building actions. And each time you complete one of those actions, you will feel a deep change inside you.

That’s what you really need — a change in your wealth-building habits and behaviors.

Keep reading ETR and you’ll find out what those habits and behaviors are. If you’re not already a daily subscriber to Early to Rise, sign up here.

Three Ways to Get Rich

“Financial education needs to become a part of our national curriculum and scoring systems so that it’s not just the rich kids that

learn about money

it’s

all of us.” David Bach

Last night I watched Michael Moore’s documentary Capitalism: A Love Story. As always with his films, I found it to be entertaining propaganda.

One of his primary arguments is that the rich have duped “the rest of us” (Moore brilliantly aligns himself with the workingman) into believing in capitalism by spreading the myth that anyone in America can become rich.

It’s a wonderful irony. Here is a guy, the son of an autoworker from Flint, Michigan, who gets rich in America through hard work and initiative… and then makes a movie whose premise is that you can’t do that.

The truth, as Moore sees it, is that the only power the poor have over their financial future is to vote in social democracy — where the “system” works to put more money in the pockets of the working and middle classes. (Though, as history has proven, that doesn’t usually happen.)

The reason socialists have a problem with capitalism is that it cannot make everyone wealthy. And that’s true. At ETR, we like the idea of making the world a richer place. But we know from experience that it can be done only one person at a time.

We have long given up on the idea of making every lazy, stupid Tom, Dick, and Harry rich. We prefer to give individual people the tools they need to make their own money.

And this brings us to the question Moore raises in his film: Is it possible for an ordinary person — without special contacts or resources — to become wealthy in America today?

I’ve been studying that question since I started writing ETR 10 years ago. And it’s clear to me that ordinary, unconnected, wage-earning Americans become wealthy all the time.

Consider this: According to a study conducted by Merrill Lynch, there were 10 million millionaires in the world in 2009, 17 percent more than the year before. And 3.1 million of them were in the U.S.

I’ve mentored at least a dozen people who started out at the bottom and are now multimillionaires. So Moore’s premise, I’m saying, is bullshit. You can get wealthy in America. And there are three ways to do it:

You can get wealthy by scrimping and saving.

You can get wealthy by hoping and praying.

You can get wealthy by earning and investing.

Getting Rich by Scrimping and Saving

The Millionaire Next Door, a bestselling book in 1996, made the shocking revelation that the typical American millionaire didn’t acquire his wealth by starting a business or becoming a banker or through any of the other ways that are celebrated in books and movies.

It turns out that most millionaires got rich by scrimping and saving.

Anyone — and I mean anyone — can get rich this way. You can start out broke. You can be illiterate. You can be a minority. You can be handicapped. In fact, you can be a dead-broke, illiterate, quadriplegic American Indian and you can still get rich this way.

Why? Because if you follow the scrimping and saving formula, it is a mathematical certainty. A 100 percent sure thing.

Start with $5,000 in the bank. Then set aside $470 a month in a conservative savings program (say tax-free bonds) earning, on average, 5% (the 100-year historical average). You will have just about a million in the bank when you are ready to retire.

If you start when you are 20, you’ll be a millionaire – no doubt about it – when you are 65 years old. If you continue to save for another 10 years, your wealth will increase to $1.7 million. By the time you are ready to leave money to your grandkids or the Metropolitan Opera, you will have a fortune of $3 million.

Getting rich this way doesn’t require guts or brains. All you need is a commitment to work enough to make enough money to save every month, and the discipline to keep socking it away.

I recommend this method to anyone who is young enough to take advantage of time. It is the primary wealth-acquisition program I recommend to college graduates in Automatic Wealth for Grads and Anyone Else Just Starting Out.

If you are not young enough yourself, you can use this method to make your children or grandchildren wealthy. (Justin Ford tells you how to do it in Seeds of Wealth – a superb book that all parents and grandparents should buy for their progeny.)

Getting Rich by Hoping and Praying

Acquiring wealth by scrimping and saving is a sure thing, but it does take a long, long time.

And even if we have the time, most of us don’t have the patience for it. All other things being equal, we’d like our wealth served to us on a silver platter by tomorrow morning, thank you very much.

Getting rich quickly — the ultimate financial aphrodisiac. Is it possible?

The answer: Absolutely — if you are very, very lucky.

You hear about it all the time — how someone, somewhere in the world, becomes enormously rich “overnight” by winning a lottery, hitting a jackpot in Vegas, coming into a huge inheritance, or by making amazing leveraged bets on stocks or bonds or real estate.

But the chance that you will get rich that way is very remote.

Your odds of winning a typical state lottery, for example, is more than 14 million to one. Your odds of winning a million-dollar jackpot at a craps table is more than 2 million to one.

These are long, long odds. And though I have no moral objection to gambling, I look at it as foolish and potentially addictive entertainment.

Speaking of the lottery, I should tell you that I happen to have made millions of dollars from it. But I didn’t get that money by buying lottery tickets. I made it the old fashioned way — by investing time and money in a business I understood (direct-mail publishing).

Getting Rich by Earning and Investing

Here’s the story: In the 1980s, I worked with a publishing company that put out a magazine and several newsletters about lotteries — local, state, and international lotteries. We featured articles about winners and essays by mathematicians who had systems for improving the odds of winning — that sort of thing.

Those publications were very successful. I think at one time we may have had 100,000 subscribers — people paying us $39 a year. You can do the math.

This brings me to the third “way” to get rich: by earning and investing.

Earning and investing is the way the great industrialists made their fortunes 100 years ago in America. It is the way bankers made their money, too, before they abandoned earning and investing for getting rich quick by betting on derivatives.

It is this old fashioned method of getting rich that ETR focuses on.

We believe in scrimping and saving for the young. We don’t believe in hoping and praying. But we have great faith in getting rich by earning and investing. We’ve done it ourselves. We’ve taught others how to do it. We know it works — even today when we’re suffering from the terrible national hangover that came from the orgy of hoping and praying that got our country into so much debt.

There are two hitches with getting rich by earning and investing:

You can’t do it overnight. It will take some number of years.

It’s not a 100 percent sure thing, as it is with scrimping and saving.

How many years does it take to get rich by earning and investing?

Short answer: one to seven years.

I’ve seen some people do it in as little as a year — and some take as long as seven years. The average has been somewhere in between.

When I sat down to write Seven Years to Seven Figures, I wanted to figure out why, out of the many people who attempt to get rich by earning and investing, only a percentage succeed.

So I interviewed eight people who had developed multimillion-dollar wealth in one to seven years. I asked them exactly what they did. I looked for similarities. Ultimately, I was searching for a common denominator.

As it turned out, I came up with three things that they had in common.

They had all:

Learned a financially valuable skill.

Started a business by finding an up trending market niche to apply their financially valued skill to.

Spent considerably less than they made and saved the difference.

The Four Obstacles to Earning and Spending Your Way to Wealth

I was excited. I thought I had discovered a formula that would transform the

readers of that book into multimillionaires. I imagined getting hundreds or even thousands of letters from people, thanking me for pointing the way.

I did get some nice letters — but they were in the dozens or hundreds, not in the thousands.

What about all the other people who had read the book? I had given them the formula. Why hadn’t they used it to make themselves rich?

There was only one way to find out. I had to ask them.

That, as it happened, was easier said than done. It’s tough to ask a person who has read your advice, “Why didn’t it work for you?”

But I did ask — although it was embarrassing for them and for me too. And what

I discovered is that those people who hadn’t gotten rich had never actually

implemented all three parts of the formula. Some of them were stymied from the get-go. Some got started but then got distracted. And some made good progress but were ultimately frustrated.

But in speaking to them, a pattern emerged. The explanations I got fell into one of the three following categories:

1. I’ve been preoccupied with other things — a full-time job that isn’t getting me

rich, a family that needs my time, fences to mend, taxes to pay, etc. But I’m going to start fresh this year.

2. I’m ready to start but I haven’t found my niche yet. I like the idea of natural

health, but I’m also into photography and cooking. Which one do you think would be best?

3. I’ve tried various programs but they haven’t worked for me. I took a copywriting

course, but I couldn’t get any clients. Then I took a real estate course, and the market collapsed. Then I got into Internet publishing, but I think the market now is too competitive.

You might see these as excuses. (He who is good at excuses is seldom good at anything else, the old maxim says.) But I don’t think they were. Many of these people truly were busy with other things. Many were confused about the best business for them to get into. And many who put their wealth-building plans into action found themselves blocked in some way, became frustrated, and gave up.

And there is one more obstacle that I’m sure all of them faced, though no one mentioned to me. It is something that anyone who has attempted to become wealthy — or has succeeded at it — knows very well.

I’ll let you in on a little industry dirt. Many of the gurus who ply their trade selling wealth-building opportunities have no respect for the very people who are paying for their fancy cars and mansions. They call these people “wannabes.” “If people did what we told them,” they say, “we’d be out of business!”

I am not naive. I recognize that it is impossible to create a wealth-building

program that will have a 100 percent success ratio. Like programs that teach foreign languages or guitar playing, even the best wealth-building program will not be able to ensure that all of the people who buy it will use it and succeed.

But I still think that my number-one job as a teacher of wealth-building skills is to create the highest possible level of success among my proteges.

That’s why I spend so much time talking to people at conferences and corresponding with my readers — trying to figure out what is blocking them. If I can determine the major obstacles to success, maybe I can teach my readers how to overcome them. That would make their success so much easier.

I’m talking about fear, of course. The fear of failure. The fear of looking foolish in front of your family, friends or colleagues. The fear of discovering something about yourself you don’t want to know.

There must be a hundred books and ten thousand articles written about fear of failure — but from the sample I’ve read, 90 percent of them are dead wrong. Fear is, indeed, an obstacle. But the solution to fear cannot be found in mantras and visualizations and self-talk. The only sure way to defeat fear is through success.

The intelligent person should fear failure when he ventures into a new business. After all, some 80 percent of new businesses fail. But if he understands exactly how successful businesses are built, his fear will be less. And if he further understands some of the most fundamental secrets of wealth building, his fear will be small enough to overcome.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about the four major obstacles to success,

trying to discover if there wasn’t some way to overcome them all with a single jump. I was looking for a sort of unifying theory of success — some explanation that would show how successful wealth builders got beyond them.

And now, foolishly perhaps, I think I’ve come up with something that works.

I call it my Special Theory of Wealth. It reduces the habits and practices of successful wealth builders (including my own) into an equation that even a child could understand.

This theory includes the key ingredients of wealth-building success: opportunity, true value, and the compounding effect of time. And it explains a lot that cannot be explained by many of the popular strategies for wealth building, including some of the ideas I myself promoted when I first began this study 12 or so years ago.

It explains why TM was able to build a million-dollar business in a single year, while juggling the responsibilities of her marriage, children, and charitable endeavors, and while writing and making public appearances and going to book club meetings, and doing much more that I can’t even remember.

The four obstacles to success did not deter TM, because she recognized them for what they were — opportunities. Had she not made this simple change of perspective she could not possibly have gotten her business up and running in a year, much less built it to one that has national reach and recognition.

My Special Theory also explains how SA became rich in less than three years by being able to “find his niche” in less than 30 minutes and then direct his energies into it. This increased his income by more than $2 million a year, and made him a multimillionaire with a business (valued at more than $8 million) that practically runs itself.

And it explains how LP finally stopped drifting from one business to another two years ago, and finally started making a six-figure income.

The reason so many people don’t achieve success is that one or more of the four obstacles genuinely block them.

Without understanding this — which is the foundation of all successful moneymaking strategies — it is impossible to find the time, choose the niche, and then execute a game plan.

ETR will be publishing my Special Theory as complete wealth-building program sometime next year — and you will be able to invest in it then. (The cost will be somewhere in the $200 to $700 range.)

Meanwhile, I have promised Jason Holland, ETR’s Managing Editor, that I will present it in 12 monthly essays that will be published in ETR’s Liberty Street League newsletter — a newsletter that provides specific, wealth-building tools and opportunities to its subscribers, and features only the ideas of people who have become very wealthy through their own efforts.

So you can get the entire Special Theory of Wealth program now in monthly increments (which will give you a chance to road test it as you go) by subscribing to LSL at the special, introductory price of $49. (The regular subscription fee is

$99.)

I’m pretty excited about this new program. I believe it will make a genuine difference in increasing — perhaps by multiples — the wealth of most of those who read it.

If you’d like to learn about it right now, there is only one-way: You must subscribe to the Liberty Street League newsletter.

This is a newsletter you should be reading anyway. It is, in my humble view, the most realistic newsletter about wealth building published today. It contains, as most financial publications do, recommendations for investing your money.

But it also tells you how to earn more money — dozens of ways to generate extra streams of income. Because you can’t become very rich unless you have extra income to invest.

The Liberty Street League newsletter is written by people who know what they are writing about. When you get advice about rental real estate, for example (a great investment to be in these days), you’ll get it from someone who has earned, and is still earning, millions by doing what he’s recommending. The same is true for the experts who write about making money from the import/export business or from Internet marketing or information publishing or investing in coins and art and other collectibles.

As with all ETR publications, the Liberty Street League has a 100 percent refund guarantee. If you don’t find it to be what I claim it is — the most useful and practical guide to making money that is published today — you can get your money back.

But I don’t think that will happen. Rather, I think you’ll be thrilled with the advice you’ll be reading — most especially with my Special Theory of Wealth.

The first two chapters have already been written. And ETR’s customer service people are ready to ship them to you the moment they get your order.

To order or find out more about the Liberty Street League, go here.

Motivation

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, You’ll land among the stars.” Brian Litrell

I was once characterized by a book reviewer as a “motivational writer.” Apparently he felt that this moniker debased me. It didn’t.

I am very happy that my writing sometimes has the effect of motivating people. I

find it hard to understand what is wrong with that. If he meant to imply that my work doesn’t have substance he should have said so. But I don’t think he dared

say that because the book he was reviewing was about building businesses — and that is something I know a great deal more about than the average reader of that book, including him.

Still, a lot of folks have the idea that motivating people is somehow less legitimate than, say, just providing them with information. The thinking seems to go something like this: “Don’t try to excite me. Don’t try to get me moving. Just tell me the facts.”

But knowing the facts is only 20 percent of success. Testing the facts by putting them into action is 80 percent.

I can’t say for sure when motivation started creeping into my writing. But it was at

least 20 years ago — well before I started writing books about marketing and business. I think it began when I became a consultant and realized that I couldn’t force my clients to execute my ideas. If I wanted them to follow my suggestions, I would have to take the extra step of motivating them to do it.

When I make presentations to a group, I try to motivate my audience to take the action I want them to take by using the persuasive techniques that I teach marketers to use in selling products. For one thing, I express the value of my ideas in terms of how the people I’m speaking to (not me or anyone else) will benefit from them.

I also sell one idea at a time. I have learned that if I try to do more, they (and I) will come away with nothing.

Whenever possible, I present my ideas through stories — because stories, more than any other information-sharing technique, have the power to inspire.

And I provide proof to support the claims I make. Tangible, relevant, and impressive proof.

All this is good for group presentations. But when I am trying to motivate my clients to implement my ideas, I have to do more. I have to work with all the key people in the company — the CEO, the top marketers, and the top product people — on an individual basis. It takes a lot of time, but it’s necessary because every one of them has unique problems and concerns that have to be addressed.

Many business owners and senior executives don’t bother to sell their ideas to the people who will be responsible for implementing them. They think it’s enough that they come up with the ideas in the first place. And they prefer to motivate the troops by rewarding them financially, as well as with such gimmicks as business retreats and “employee of the month” plaques.

One of my clients is a big believer in financial incentives. In fact, he attributes a good deal of his success to the substantial, profit-based bonuses he gives out on

a regular basis. But I don’t believe he’s right about that. I think there are all sorts

of other motivating activities going on in his business that he is not fully aware of.

For example, his top people are very much involved with the people who report to them. They congratulate them publicly for achieving their goals and they also privately counsel those who have failed to hit the mark. This constant interaction and support is, I think, the real reason his employees work so hard and keep the business growing.

When I was a young executive I did what my client is doing now. But over the years I recognized that “automatic” financial incentives failed to work as often as they succeeded. I tried to figure out why that was. I talked to my employees. I sought the counsel of my mentors. And I read books — lots and lots of books about motivation.

One thing I learned was that the best people aren’t motivated by money. They certainly appreciate it. And they will not lose sight of the potential for a bonus as they do their jobs. But what really motivates them is what some experts call internal rewards — the personal pride and gratification that comes from a job well done. In other words, they work hard and smart to please themselves.

You only need to think of Enron to appreciate how things can go bad by attaching business goals to financial incentives.

If you want your business to achieve its true potential you must be willing to give

your people personal attention. You have to eschew hard power (the sort of power that Steve Jobs is famous for) and practice the soft skills of listening and coaching and providing a purposeful environment for them to work in.

(I’ve read a lot about purposefulness in recent years — but almost nothing about how important it is in business.) If you provide financial incentives, you have to make sure they are fair. But you have to realize that they will affect people differently. You can’t just establish them and walk away.

I got involved in a discussion recently with a client who, I believed, was making a mistake by ignoring his key people. “They’re doing fine on their own,” he told me. “They don’t need me meddling in their affairs.”

Yes, they were doing fine. Still, I argued that he needed to stay in touch with them. He needed to ask them questions and give them suggestions. He didn’t need to make demands or commands, but he did need to make sure that they were feeling fulfilled by the work they were doing. If they weren’t, he was going to lose them or they were going to stop caring about the business — no matter how much he was paying them.

I’ve seen it happen too many times. An executive makes a fast rise and then suddenly breaks though to the upper ranks. He continues to build the business, bringing in smart people to help him. He motivates them with money because it seems to work and because he doesn’t know any better.

All the while, his income is getting bigger and he is acquiring spending habits and pastimes that compete with his work. Eventually — generally after seven to 10 years — he finds that the business is running itself. He doesn’t have to show up every day, so he doesn’t. He’d much rather spend time on his hobbies and outside interests. He gets away with it so it becomes a habit.

A year or two later sales flatten out and profits decline. And he doesn’t understand why.

If you want your business to grow profitably and consistently, you must understand that your job as chief motivator will never go away. You must be willing to interact personally with everyone who reports to you. You must talk to them constantly. You must give them guidance. You must give them freedom. You must praise them and you must occasionally correct them too.

Let me give you an example of how important employee motivation is to the success of a business.

This past year, I have been very much involved with a client whose business had faltered.

I began by meeting with his key employees and trying to understand what they were doing, what they were proud of, and what was frustrating them.

Based on what I learned, I recommended some radical changes in the structure of the business — and as a result, some people had to be fired. In deciding which people to keep, my primary concern was whether any of the company’s employees would be open to new ideas.

I believed I had the knowledge they all needed but I had to be sure they would listen to me. By eliminating the people who were past being motivated, I made my job possible.

Once I had a good group of people that I could motivate, I knew that my ideas for turning the business around could be tested.

To cut to the chase, they managed a miraculous turnaround in less than six months. The improvement was only partially due to the new ideas we introduced. Most of it was due to the fact that the entire team was motivated to execute those ideas well and quickly.

[Ed. Note: You've just learned the right way to motivate your employees. It's a key element of growing a successful business. And it's a major theme of Michael Masterson's Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling book on entrepreneurship, Ready, Fire, Aim.

Brian Tracy calls Ready, Fire, Aim "an extraordinary book -- full of practiced, proven strategies and techniques to help you make more sales and greater profits than you ever imagined possible."

And Robert Ringer says "What sets Masterson apart from most of the gurus who

write about how to do it is that he's actually done it -- over again."

and over

and over

In Ready, Fire, Aim, Michael shares the business-building secrets he learned while he took several businesses from scratch to multimillions in revenues. And, as always, his contrarian advice flies in the face of the "wisdom" offered up by most mainstream management and business gurus.

For example, you'll learn why

Coming up with an original product idea

Failure is good thing

You should cooperate with your competitors

And much more

is usually a recipe for disaster

Evolution, not Revolution

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

The average person believes that great wealth is created by revolutionary breaks with tradition. The Instinctive Wealth Builder (IWB) believes in Darwin.

It’s not surprising that so many people believe in revolution. Many best-selling books have supported it. Read the popular biographies of Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, or Bill Gates and you will be regaled with explanations of how they fundamentally changed the world.

Creative destruction is what we call it now.

Revolution is a more exciting concept. But it is a myth. The truth is that neither Andrew Carnegie nor John Rockefeller nor Bill Gates was a revolutionary. They all refined the ideas of thinkers of their time. In some cases, they bought those ideas. In other cases, they stole them.

Take Carnegie. He was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of the Bessemer process. It was an inexpensive way to turn raw iron into steel on a large scale. And although it had been around for decades, not many steelmakers were using it. But Carnegie understood that it would not only allow him to deliver a superior product but also underprice the competition. As a result, he saw a rapid expansion of his business and an equally fast surge in his personal wealth. In the next few years, Carnegie Steel became the preeminent steel producer in the world — and Andrew himself became one of the world’s richest men.

Bill Gates bought exclusive rights to an early forerunner of the MS-DOS computer operating software for just $50,000. He then licensed the program to IBM for use in their PCs. But he kept the rights to the actual program and was able to license it to other companies. That was the start of his multibillion-dollar fortune.

In his bestseller, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell looked at the way new products sometimes suddenly “take over” the consumer marketplace. How is it, he asked, that some products — such as Slinkies and Velcro and iPods — became enormous trends?

The traditional view, Gladwell pointed out, is that these are breakthroughs — completely different products that, for whatever reason, capture the imagination of a given market.

But his research led him to a different conclusion: that trendsetting products are not breakthroughs at all; rather, they are variations on ideas that were already in the collective consciousness.

Gladwell is a researcher and writer. He is not and never has been an entrepreneur. So I would have expected him to get this all wrong. But he was right.

To explain his thesis, Gladwell used a metaphor he called “the tipping point.” It refers to an experiment done in just about every high school science class.

A glass of water is filled to the brim with water, and then droplets of water are

added, one by one. What the students discover is that, contrary to their

expectations, the additional droplets remain for a while on top, forming a mound

of water that is actually higher than the rim of the glass.

Drop by drop, the mound gets higher. And then, suddenly, one single extra drop causes the mound of water to collapse and run down the sides of the glass.

That is how consumer trends have always worked. And it’s how they work today.

In any given social context, many people share the same basic idea about some innovation that is needed. Spurred by that common notion of what should come next, individual innovators make changes. But most of these changes are absorbed into the culture without producing any significant reaction. They are, metaphorically, the additional droplets that form the mound.

These minor variations are noticed by other innovators who can see the trend (the mound) forming and recognize that, eventually, the weight of all the little changes will lead to a sudden overflow of movement.

And there is a good reason for this.

Consumers aren’t looking for brand-new products. They are looking for clever new adaptations of products they already know and love. When it comes to new, the human brain can take only a little bit of it.

The IWB knows that when you simply imitate something that is already being sold successfully, you are following the market. But to have a multimillion-dollar “breakthrough,” you have to anticipate the market.

The way to do that is not to create something brand-new, but to do something that is just a little bit better than the hottest thing out there.

Remember, it’s the tipping-point effect you are going for, that one extra change (droplet of water) that is added to many more that have been added before.

Gladwell gave these examples:

The rebirth of Hush Puppies, the “old school” shoe that became hot in the mid-90s after being adopted by a handful of New York City hipsters, then fashion designers and artists.

“Blue’s Clues,” which took the early learning concepts of pioneers like “Sesame Street” and improved them to make a TV show even more appealing to the preschool set.

The novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, which went from being a favorite of book clubs (made up of middle-aged women) in northern California to a national bestseller.

My own experience in business confirms Gladwell’s conclusions.

As a mentor to the publishing industry, I have been directly involved in the development of at least 50 publications. In the beginning, I made an effort to create something new — something the market didn’t have. In every case, I failed.

I remember, for example, trying to launch an investment newsletter for women in the mid-1980s. Nobody had done one before. And yet we knew that there were millions of American women who controlled trillions of dollars. Surely they needed their own newsletter.

So we found a female financial analyst and built a publication around her. We hired one of the best copywriters in the country to write the promotion. And we loaded it up with premiums and sold it at a great price.

The result? A complete flop.

It turned out that women who were inclined to read investment advice perceived our pitch for what it was — a gimmick. “I don’t want information advice designed for woman,” one female subscriber told me. “I want the best you have — man, woman, or hermaphrodite!”

In the real estate development business in the early 1990s, I made a similar mistake. My partners and I had the idea that we could sell super-fine luxury homes in an exclusive golf course community. Instead of giving people what they were already buying — “big white boxes with Sub-Zero refrigerators,” as one of my partners described them — we offered truly well-built, customized homes.

But our prospects couldn’t tell the difference between our products and the grossly inferior properties that were selling like hotcakes.

The secret to innovation, I’ve come to believe, is the old 80/20 formula. Give them 80 percent of what they are already buying and only 20 percent of something new. (As I said, when it comes to new, the human brain can take only

a little bit of it.)

The 20 percent matters. But the 80 percent keeps you in business.

Here’s an extension of this idea that you won’t hear anywhere else…

If you come up with a tipping-point idea that sells very well, don’t rest on your laurels. “Evolutionize” it.

By that I mean start to think about the next step: what extra twist you can give your hot product that will make it seem like yesterday’s news in the near future.

I learned this lesson in the early 1980s. My partner and I were making out like bandits with a very successful product — but within a year, our competitors were knocking us off. Most of them didn’t come up with anything that worked very well. But some of them did evolutionize our idea. And their products sold, sometimes eclipsing our success. We didn’t like that.

So what we began to do was to knock ourselves off.

Rather than wait for a competitor to knock off a good product, we would knock it off — but creatively, by inventing a new and better version almost as soon as we knew the first product was a winner.

An example that quickly comes to mind is The Oxford Club. I created it in 1983. Six months later, a competitor created a variation. That failed, but I realized that if I waited much longer someone would come up with a better idea. So I got to work and created a variation for a slightly different corner of the market. That product is still in existence — and is making its owner (we sold it, stupidly) a ton of money.

Imitation doesn’t work, because it is always too little and too late. But noticing what products are working and then creating new products with features that are somehow more advanced — that’s how you get the breakthroughs.

To think like an IWB, do this:

When you come up with a new moneymaking idea, search the Internet to see if anyone else is thinking about it or doing it already.

If you can’t find it anywhere, don’t get excited; get depressed. There is a reason you can’t find it. And it’s not because it hasn’t been thought of before. It’s because it’s been tried and it has failed. Don’t invest any time or money in it.

When you come up with an idea that several or even many other people are already working on, get excited. Ask yourself, “Is my twist on this idea a useful one?” And by “useful” I don’t mean it will improve the product. I mean it will make it easier to sell.

Remember that the greatest tipping-point ideas are only partly new. Consumers like things that are 80 percent or 90 percent the same and only 10 percent or 20 percent new.

Most important, ask yourself, “Can I explain my twist on this idea in a way that gets people excited?” Write some advertising copy. Test it out in small samples. Pay attention to the response. If it is not sensational, put that idea on the back burner and think about it for a while.

The concept of “evolution, not revolution” works in all businesses, in any market. But the fastest and easiest way to implement it is on the Internet. Online, you can research your competition for free. You can test products, advertising copy, and more very cheaply.

Even the cost of delivering your products can be nearly free. Plus, the Internet allows you to react very quickly to changes in the market, take advantage of hot trends, and get out the instant a trend starts to die down.

As a result, the process of starting a potentially super-successful online business in your niche can take just a few days.

If you’re worried that you don’t have the marketing or technical experience to start your own online venture, not a problem. The Early to Rise team has put together a program to address that very concern.

At ETR’s 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference, they will teach you how to set up and manage your business’s website using intuitive software that won’t have you reaching for the instruction manual. And they’ll show you how to use the best tools for managing your marketing, product creation, e-mail list building, and more. At 5 Days in July, you’ll get the complete package — including the same marketing techniques used by Early to Rise and Agora Inc.

The “Passkey” That Can Get You In With Hollywood Big-Wigs, Fortune 500 CEOs, Famous Authors, and More

Position yourself as a center of influence - the one who knows the movers and shakers. People will respond to that, and you'll soon become what you project.”

If you could grab the attention of one very influential person… who would it be? And how could making that connection change your life?

From my own experience, I can tell you that knowing how to connect with the right people can…

Get you a job. This is how our very own Managing Editor Suzanne Richardson got hired at ETR – despite the fact that I’d never met her in person, and she lived in New York rather than Florida.

Send your company soaring to new heights. If I hadn’t known MaryEllen Tribby through a few other marketers, I might never have known she was the perfect pick for ETR’s CEO… and ETR wouldn’t have skyrocketed from an $8 million business to a $26 million business in just two years.

Expand your marketing reach, grow your customer list, and add millions in sales to your bottom line. The relationships ETR has formed with joint venture partners have brought in tens of millions of dollars for us. And ETR’s parent company, Agora, grew its investment newsletter business from $1 million to $60 million in just 15 years, primarily through joint venture marketing deals.

Master copywriter Bob Bly calls relationship building “the most important factor determining your success as an Internet marketer… or in virtually any other business.”

“The quality and quantity of your contacts and your relationships will have more to do with your success than perhaps any other factor,” says information marketing superstar and self-development guru Brian Tracy. “Knowing the right people and being known by them can open doors for you that can save you years of hard work.”

Says entrepreneur Paul Lawrence, “Making deals with powerful partners is one of the best ways to ‘leapfrog’ your way to a position of influence and profitability in the blink of an eye.”

Need Oprah to make your book a bestseller? Want to get Bill Gates’s take on your new software platform? Looking for business advice from Peter Drucker?

You might think these people are too famous for you to ever connect with.

But you’re wrong.

Today, I’m going to show you how to get the attention of practically anyone.

This surprisingly simple “passkey” to success comes from Larry Benet, who will be on the panel of experts speaking at ETR’s Info Marketing Bootcamp this November.

Larry has rubbed elbows with Donald Trump, Larry King, Richard Branson, and many other “movers and shakers.” He’s helped dozens of clients make connections that helped them skyrocket their income and reach their dreams.

From “Lowly” Salesman to Master Connector

Larry discovered his “passkey” on the tennis court, of all places.

He had started his corporate career by working as a “lowly sales guy.” But then, one day, he took a hard look at the three men he was playing tennis with.

All three were CEOs. Each was worth a couple of hundred million. They were three of the most influential people in Larry’s industry.

He thought to himself, “How did I, once just a cog in the big corporate wheel, manage to penetrate this inner circle?”

He realized it had to do with his innate ability to connect with other people. And soon he discovered that he could put his gift into easy-to-follow steps that anyone could use.

One of the most effective steps in Larry’s “formula” is to ask a simple question.

The “Passkey” to Making Critical Business and Life Connections

Whenever Larry wants to connect with someone, he asks, “How can I help you?

These five words allowed him to connect with Larry King in under 60 seconds… and persuaded Richard Branson to hand over his personal e-mail address in under 30 seconds.

If you use this powerful phrase correctly, and put it to work for yourself or your business, Larry firmly believes you could easily add an extra $50,000 to $100,000 to your bottom line. But I believe developing new relationships with people in key positions in your industry can make you much, much more over time.

I’ve talked before about how critical the mentor/protege relationship is in business. When you’re just starting out, the advice and support of an experienced person in your field will give you a shortcut to success as an entrepreneur.

Then, later in your career, having a relationship with a superstar who can take on some (or eventually all) of the burden of running your business is like striking gold.

“One of my biggest business assets has been the ‘big-name’ relationships I’ve created and nurtured over the years,” says Alex Mandossian, CEO of Heritage House Publishing Inc. One notable example: his relationship with author Jack Canfield, which expanded his customer list by thousands.

With Larry’s passkey, you will have the ability to connect with anyone at any time you wish.

Just imagine all the benefits that skill could bring you…

You could meet celebrities…

Get interviews with Fortune 500 CEOs…

Find new clients, investors, or partners.

The sky is the limit.

Now this five-word passkey can get you “in” with almost anyone. But to maintain

the relationship and watch it grow into something profitable… you need to master

a few additional strategies.

A Proven Formula for Making Your High-Value Relationships Grow and Prosper

Larry will be unveiling these connection-forging strategies at ETR’s Bootcamp this November. Not only that, he will show you how to put these strategies to work.

That’s what he’s done for his top clients.

“Carlos,” for instance, was already a successful purveyor of business trade show signs – but he desperately wanted to get into the Hollywood scene. He’d been trying for 10 years. Then he met up with Larry.

Within 72 hours of learning Larry’s secrets to forging connections, Carlos had landed his first two Hollywood clients. Now, you can see Carlos’s signage behind the stars at red carpet premieres. (And Carlos is currently in the process of using his connections to become an executive film producer.)

Then there’s Geoff, a top recruiter for a financial services company who’s been working with Larry for over two years. In that time, he’s been able to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars by forming joint ventures with some of the biggest names in real estate and investing.

And Larry’s been putting his connection-forging strategies to work for himself, too. That’s how he got an invitation to speak at ETR’s Bootcamp!

The ONLY Event You Should Attend This Fall

Of course, Larry isn’t the only expert who’ll be “telling all” at Bootcamp. And his relationship-building formula isn’t the only cash-generating strategy Bootcamp attendees will discover.

Bootcamp is going to be a showcase of the most mindboggling collection of cutting-edge, breakthrough ideas presented by the finest group of marketing geniuses ever assembled in one place.

When you leave this event, you’ll have a locked-and-loaded arsenal of real, practical, and powerful techniques for building your wealth.

Laura and her team have assembled a world-class panel of moneymaking visionaries from across the nation. We’re talking about Rich Schefren, Joe Polish, Mike Koenigs, Clayton Makepeace, Howie Jacobson, and many more.

These men and women will reveal EXACTLY how to start bringing in cash right now – and how to keep it coming in.

And every one of them has pledged to show you at least one specific technique that could have you bringing in an extra $10,000 within the next 12 months:

The “Missing Link” in your business that could make you $5 million…

The secret to reaching 4.5 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) potential customers…

How to produce $5 million in online sales per month off a single product…

And that’s just a tiny sampling.

By the way, I’ll be speaking at Bootcamp as well. It’s the only presentation I’ll give this year, and I can’t wait to blow you away with the hot wealth-building trend I see coming down the pike.

Bootcamp is THE ONLY event where you can get access to the leaders in information marketing. You won’t find such a powerful concentration of game- changing ideas and revolutionary strategies anywhere else.

We have just 250 openings for this year’s Bootcamp – and registration begins bright and early tomorrow morning.

Make sure you keep a close eye on your inbox, and reserve your spot at Bootcamp as soon as registration opens.

Getting Wealthy From Inflation

“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” Sam Ewing

Today, I’m going to tell you how to make a lot of money.

If you are (a) not happy with the 0.5% return you are getting from your bank account, (b) worried about inflation, or (c) uncertain about the future value of your stocks and bonds, pay attention.

In fact, you might want to keep this issue of the Journal around so you can thank me later.

Despite what Timothy Geithner and so many of the other media and government squawkers are saying, the U.S. economy is not returning to health. Businesses will continue to go bankrupt, homeowners will continue to lose their homes, and unemployment will continue to rise.

The financial markets are becoming more precarious. Stock market indexes are up since March of 2009, but PE ratios are now standing at about 24 — which means that most stocks are 40% to 50% overvalued. The bond market is overvalued too.

It’s enough to make you want to stay in bed all day.

But today, I am going to give you a user-friendly game plan for financial success. It is a three-part strategy for protecting whatever wealth you have left and building wealth, starting immediately, over the coming decade.

It is a program that is based on demonstrable logic and proven business experience.

I’m not going to charge you for this plan. You are getting it for free.

If you decide to follow through on my suggestions, I will recommend some additional sources of information that will help you succeed. Buying them will be optional. But the strategy itself will still be free.

How to Protect Against the Threat of Inflation

The biggest single threat to your wealth is not the overvalued stock and bond markets but the very likely probability of a sudden and ruthless period of inflation.

You don’t have to be an economist to understand why.

Inflation means rising prices. When the stock market went up from below 700 in March 2009 to 1,200 in April 2010… that was stock inflation. When home prices rose by 80% from 1997 to 2006… that was real estate inflation.

You can make a lot of money during inflationary periods if you buy early (while prices are low) and sell later (when prices are high). But you can get killed if you wait too long and buy late (when prices are high) and then are forced to sell (when prices are low).

So the trick to profiting from inflation is to understand the trend. Getting in early and getting out early.

Pretty simple so far, eh?

The reason the smartest moneymakers in the world are expecting inflation now is because the government has been spending trillions of dollars to try to keep the banks and brokers and insurance companies from going out of business — even though those same banks and brokers and insurance companies are responsible for inflating the economy to begin with.

The government will never, ever allow these institutions to “fail.” Because if they do, we will be in a real Depression… and then all the politicians we voted into office will worry about losing their jobs. Since their cushy jobs (and amazing expense accounts) are their primary priority, they will always approve these huge bailouts — even though they know that, eventually, they will destroy the value of the dollar.

It doesn’t matter what party they belong to. The Republicans started the bailout programs and the Democrats extended them. They fight about spending on health care, but they don’t fight when it comes to the big financial institutions.

The government didn’t actually have the trillions of dollars they spent on bailouts. They had to borrow it from the U.S. Treasury.

And how do they pay back the U.S. Treasury? There are only two ways. One is by raising taxes; the other is by printing more dollars.

Countless economic studies have shown that there is only so much money the government can get by raising taxes. If they tax people too much, the economy slows down. And when the economy slows down, there is less wealth to tax… so the government’s income actually drops rather than rises.

Obama knows that he probably wouldn’t be able to raise taxes enough to pay off the debt incurred by the bailouts. Still, he is going to try to tax Americans as much as he possibly can.

Where will the rest of the money come from?

Obama also knows — as does every other smart politician — that there is a sneakier and less risky way to pay back the Treasury. And that is to let the dollar collapse.

Here’s why: When the dollar depreciates (gets less expensive), it becomes easier to pay off big debts. Who wouldn’t want to be using today’s dollars to pay for gas that went for $1.50 10 years ago? Or to pay for houses that went for $75,000, on average, 20 years ago? Well, that’s what the government will be doing 10 years from now: paying off a debt that won’t seem nearly as big as it does now because they’ll be paying with inflated dollars.

My Three-Point Plan

Traditionally, there are three types of assets that appreciate during periods of inflation. One is real estate. Another is precious metals. And the third is stocks that are related to commodities.

For example, take a look at what happened to aluminum maker Alcoa’s shares during the high-inflation years of the 1970s and early 80s…

From 1972 to 1981, Alcoa’s Stock More Than Doubled

shares during the high-inflation years of the 1970s and early 80s… From 1972 to 1981, Alcoa’s

And gold’s best decade of the 20th century is no contest. It spiked during the hyper-inflationary 1970s, as you can see in this chart…

hyper-inflationary 1970s, as you can see in this chart… Since I don’t have the space to

Since I don’t have the space to go into detail on all three parts of my inflation- beating strategy today, I’ll focus on the real estate opportunities. I’ll talk about precious metals and commodities in a future issue.

Real estate is a good place to start. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be made in real estate by the smart money in the next five to 10 years. My cut of that should be at least $10 million. Perhaps you’d like to join me.

Your Real Estate Plays

It’s no secret that half of the world’s richest entrepreneurs built their fortunes through real estate. What is less commonly known is that most of their great fortunes were made during inflationary periods… like the one we’re facing right now.

Opportunity #1: Taking advantage of real estate prices that are as low as they’ve been in 20 or 30 years

It is impossible (and foolish) to try to predict the bottom (or top) of this (or any) market. But, by any measure, we have just gone through one of the biggest real estate recessions in the history of the United States.

In South Florida, for example, you can find properties for less than half of what they were selling for at the peak of the market. More important, you can buy these properties with 20% down and start enjoying positive cash flow from month one. (Four and five years ago, you couldn’t get positive cash flow out of rental units with 50% down.) So today’s prices make sense from a businessman’s perspective.

My real estate partner Peter and I have been buying homes in the $120,000 to $130,000 range (after closing costs and renovations). We are getting monthly rents of $1,300 to $1,600 on these. I am financing our deals at 4% (which is good for me). At that rate, we are making about 6% to 8% on our money, not counting appreciation.

My brother is buying up residential properties and apartment complexes in lively downtown areas, beach areas, and areas targeted for “stimulus money” renovation.

He is buying at such deep cash flow prices that he is able to pay his investors (including me) minimum guaranteed yields of 7.5% plus equity participation. Because of this, he has raised a considerable amount of money in the last few months, and he is using the money to do some very impressive deals.

He just bought a 14-unit building across the street from the beach for $725,000! Think of that. Each beach-view, one-bedroom unit cost him only about $50,000 — and this apartment complex could be worth several million in the not-too- distant future.

He also now controls three properties in the heart of a rapidly growing downtown, zoned commercial and residential. And even though they’re in a prime spot, he is generating yields of over 8%.

Whether with Peter, through my brother, or by myself, I will continue to invest in real estate so long as prices are low. If they go down further, I’ll buy more aggressively.

I have no risk of losing money, because all the properties I’m investing in are making money on a monthly basis. Even if rents drop, I won’t be losing money. The 4% to 8% yield I’m enjoying will cover me even if rents go down another 25%, which is highly unlikely.

I get immediate income from these deals. Instead of getting 0% on my cash, I’m getting a minimum of 7.5% fully secured guaranteed yields by loaning it to my brother, and additional yield from the “after-debt” cash flow.

But the real opportunity is in the appreciation potential. As I said, I fully expect to make an extra $10 million in appreciation in the next five to 10 years as inflation pushes up real estate prices. I might make as much as $30 million, but I’m trying to be conservative.

There are some who say that real estate prices won’t inflate with the rest of the economy, but I think they will. Here’s why. Buildings are built with core commodities… lumber, copper, aluminum, concrete, steel. Labor is another big expense. You can’t have inflation without a rise in those costs.

Plus, as my brother points out, properties in many areas are selling for less than replacement value. In some cases, even if you got the land for free, you couldn’t build these homes for what you can buy them for today. That’s even after taking depreciation into account.

Last but not least, in many instances, it’s already far cheaper to buy than it is to rent. Eventually, this will turn the tide toward buying. It’s just a matter of time.

So that’s my first inflation-beating recommendation: Start buying undervalued, quality rental properties now. Don’t wait for the market to bottom. Just find properties that will give you a net cash flow of at least 4% to 9% after all expenses (including property taxes, maintenance, fees, etc.).

Opportunity #2: Taking advantage of alternative financing

If you don’t have the money to invest directly in real estate at this time, you can still make a ton of money by taking advantage of some programs out there that are not being widely publicized.

Let me give you one example:

My brother just bought a large house from Fannie Mae. It’s on a corner lot in a good area, and includes a studio that can be rented separately. At the peak of the market, it sold for $335,000. The county currently has it appraised at $181,000. My brother bought it for $80,000 cash. It’s an amazing deal. The rental value is $1,750 a month, or $21,000 a year. It will produce about $5,000 in free cash flow a year.

As I said, my brother bought this property for cash — but it could have been done with just 10% down through Fannie Mae’s HomePath program. That means an $8,000 down payment would have gotten you in. If you then sold the property for just half its former peak value in a few years, you’d be selling it for $167,500. That would be a capital gain of $87,500. More than a 1,000% return!

And that ignores the $5K a year in free cash flow or the few thousand you’d pick up in amortization (the reduction of a loan balance over time) — money you could have applied to closing costs and initial repairs.

Opportunity #3: Taking a position in businesses that are buying up super-undervalued properties

One of the best-run companies buying up undervalued properties comes from north of the border.

I had no interest in this company when real estate was booming. Their income from year to year was lagging behind that of their U.S. peers. I chalked up their bad numbers to poor management. But I recently noticed that their numbers are much better… and I had to find out why.

Turns out their reversal of fortune stems from how they treated their tenants when property prices were soaring. Unlike their competitors, they refrained from putting the squeeze on their tenants by raising rents to the max. As a result, when the Great Recession hit and most real estate companies had a spike in vacancies, this one kept the vast majority of its tenants.

It now has a much stronger balance sheet and more cash on hand than most other real estate companies. And what is it doing with its cash? Buying up cheap properties to take advantage of what it calls “times of distress south of the border.”

This company is laying the groundwork now for long-term growth. Over the next five years, I expect its stock to advance by 60%-100%.

The company, RioCan, is Canada’s biggest real estate investment trust (REIT). It owns Canada’s biggest and best portfolio of shopping centers — 261 retail properties amounting to 60 million square feet. You can find it on the Toronto stock exchange under the symbol REI-UN.TO.

RioCan just bought an 80% stake in seven grocery-anchored shopping centers (that’s what it specializes in) in the U.S. It acquired that stake by taking on Cedar Shopping Centers Inc. as its American partner.

Before they’re through, the two companies will be buying up a slew of below- market-cost properties. Just based on what RioCan’s CEO Edward Sonshine says, I can tell that they’re drooling at their prospects…

“Many of the properties coming available in the U.S. are of exceptional quality, and are currently being held by stressed vendors, constrained by a lack of liquidity.

These vendors are not disposed to sell due to issues with the property. Rather, many of these operators have difficulty meeting demands of lenders and satisfying more stringent conditions on accessing capital. As such, acquisitions can be made at considerably less than replacement costs. In fact, we believe that the next 12 to 18 months are a time of unique opportunities for [RioCan].”

Besides shelling out $176 million for the seven aforementioned properties, RioCan and Cedar just bought their first shopping center together for $20 million, with RioCan paying $16 million of it. And this is just the beginning. Sonshine says that the company “has weathered the storm and is poised to seize the initiative.”

It has the money. It has the local partner to help it. It certainly has the determination. And the U.S. market is ripe for the taking. In other words, everything’s in place.

And it’s not like RioCan is biting off more than it can chew. This is the next logical step for the company to take. It’s already in Canada’s most densely populated areas. In fact, it expects to deal in the U.S. with many of the same tenants it has in Canada.

Another great thing about this company? It’s making its big move south of the border from a position of strength. Its occupancy rate for 2009 was an impressive 97.4%. Its lease renewal rate last year was an equally impressive 92%, up from 86% the year before. Its rental revenues rose by $30 million in 2009, reaching $762 million.

RioCan already ranks among the best of the top REITs in North America. Get this: Its AFFO (adjusted funds from operations) is expected to go up 9% this year and 10% next. Its U.S. rivals specializing in strip malls? Their AFFO, as a whole, is expected to go down by 19% this year and 5% next year.

Amazingly, the price of RioCan’s shares is very reasonable. Shares for its U.S. counterparts average 17 times AFFO. For RioCan, shares cost only 16 times AFFO.

This can’t last, and it won’t. I’m happy (and a little surprised) to be able to tell you about this company before its shares have surged. But we’re on borrowed time here. The company is for real… solid and ambitious at the same time. Plus, it gives shareholders 7.1% in cash every year just for owning its shares. In my experience, a company like this doesn’t stay below the radar for long.

So that’s one company that you might want to consider investing in — but there are dozens of others. The folks at Liberty Street League have prepared a special report on this that you can only get if you become a member. Find out more – and sign up – by clicking here.

Riding the Trend Wave

“I don't set trends. I just find out what they are And exploit them” Dick Clark

How to Live a $120,000-a-Year Retirement on

$40,000

Early to Riser Mark Fitzpatrick sent me an e-mail with some questions about Central American real estate. He has owned some ocean-view property in Nicaragua’s Brito foothills for about six years. (It sounds like it’s near the development I have an interest in, Rancho Santana.)

And he wants my take on what trends will play out in the next seven to 10 years. Specifically, he wants to know:

Would an increase in tax burden in the U.S. prompt even more people to consider retiring to places like Nicaragua?

And will Nicaragua — being underdeveloped — actually be able to develop using the latest in technology (for communications), energy (considering the country’s expansive geothermal potential), and industry (by becoming more involved as an outsource destination for U.S. companies)?

Let me start by saying that I’ve always said that you can live very well in Nicaragua on an income of $40,000 a year.

Here’s why:

Land is still relatively cheap. (You can buy a beach-view lot in Rancho Santana for $70,000.)

Taxes are low. (Property taxes on one of those lots are just $150 a year. I pay $50,000 on my main house in the U.S.)

Food is cheap. (You can eat great, fresh food for less than $10 a day.)

Help is cheap. (You can have a full-time housekeeper for less than $8 a day.)

Entertainment is cheap. (You can hire a four-person band for a party for

$50.)

The cost of construction is relatively cheap. (You can build a house for about $65 to $75 a square foot.)

Medical care is cheap. (This is not the country for brain surgery, but they are very good at most routine procedures so long as you take advantage of the good hospitals in Managua and the good local clinics, like the one in Rancho Santana.)

What is not cheap is electricity (which costs about as much as it does in the States), cars and car maintenance (again, about what you would pay in the States), brand-name luxuries, and other goods that are imported from the U.S. or Europe.

But what really makes retirement (or partial retirement) in Nicaragua and other Central American countries inexpensive is the choices most people make when they move there. They rarely go out to fancy, Western-style restaurants.

They prefer to enjoy the healthy and delicious food that is grown and prepared locally. They don’t build mega-mansions. They fancy beautiful little casas and casitas that nestle into the beautiful natural topography.

When you create a retirement or second home in a tropical paradise, you are looking for charm and ease of living, not fancy things to impress your friends. And that makes life much less expensive.

Let me give you the best example I know: the Masterson family retreat in Rancho Santana.

Rancho Santana, right on the Pacific Ocean in Nicaragua (and right over the border from much more expensive Costa Rica) has been a fully functioning community for many years. It has clean running water, reliable electric power, sanitation service, trained workers, full security, an active homeowners association, two restaurants, a pool and spa, and so on.

The community is a 20-minute copter ride from the capital city, which is a two- hour hop from Miami. But it is also accessible via a highway and is considered to be right in the middle of the country’s next big real estate market.

Our casa is big — 5,000 square feet. I paid something like $40,000 for my lot and spent about $300,000 over several years building and enlarging the house. It is way bigger than we actually need, even though I use it for business when I’m down there. Still, it has been a very good value. About 18 months ago, I turned down an offer for $900,000.

We employ two full-time people to take care of the property year-round. We also employ a part-time person to manage them and, because we rent out the house from time to time, a rental agent.

The total cost of these employees is less than $6,000 a year. And I am paying above-average wages. (They also benefit from tips we and our guests leave them. They are happy. So are we.)

When we are down there, we eat mostly at home. Our housekeeper cooks the meals… whatever we want. We buy local ingredients — grass-fed beef, fish right out of the ocean, and organically grown vegetables — and it costs much less than what we pay for the same kind of high-quality food in the U.S.

When we go out to one of the half-dozen restaurants on or near the ranch, we seldom spend more than $12 a person, including drinks.

I can get a massage at the spa for $15, ride a horse for an hour for $10, play tennis or bocce ball or horseshoes for free, and swim for free. I can rent a boat to take me down to San Juan del Sur and back — a day trip — for less than $200.

Our total expenditure for our second home in Rancho Santana is well below $40,000 a year. The equivalent lifestyle in the U.S. costs us almost 10 times that amount. So the truth is, you can do much better than the promise I made in headline I wrote for this essay.

You can enjoy a $400,000 lifestyle for only $40,000 there… but who’s counting?

And getting there is easy. You can fly in to the capital city of Managua or to Liberia, Costa Rica, which is about 50 miles south of the ranch. From the airport, you can easily arrange transportation.

Who Else Lives There?

We’re not the only ones enjoying everything Rancho Santana has to offer. It’s home to many part-timers, many of whom bring in significant income by renting out their places when they’re not there. There are also several full-time residents (retirees and people who can run their businesses from outside the U.S.).

Retirees Sylvia and Dennis Green moved down from New England in 2003. They actually drove down in their pick-up truck, packed with their personal belongings, over 12 adventure-filled days. (Did I mention that they didn’t speak Spanish?)

These days, they run the on-property market, which stocks such U.S. favorites as bagels and nondairy creamer.

“I really do believe Rancho Santana is the best place to be in this entire region

and coastline,” says Sylvia. “The progress they’ve made over the years is truly impressive…. I have never been disappointed here… it is wonderful; there are so

many avenues to take here, to be quiet or as busy as you like.

It is hard to find people who love this place as much as we do. Just down the road in Costa Rica, they have the tourists and the fame, but we have the

fortune!”

Fellow New Englanders Christopher and Maren Boothby come to Rancho Santana throughout the year, staying connected to their work responsibilities

back home (she runs a speech and occupational therapy center for kids and he’s

a county commissioner) through high-speed Internet and video conferencing.

Since they spend most of their time in the U.S., they are able to offset a lot of their costs by renting out their home. (Homes in Rancho Santana bring in 10 percent higher rental fees than neighboring properties.)

Is Your Investment Safe?

With its history of coups and revolution, Nicaragua still has a bad reputation among many in the United States. Perhaps that is why Costa Rica just to the south is more popular with vacationers and retirees… and so much more expensive.

But those issues are in the past. The country has been a strong democracy with

a stable government for decades now. And international agencies and institutions

rank it as one of the safest places in Central America to both visit and invest in.

It ranks only behind Costa Rica in terms of safety, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2010 report.

And the World Bank Group cites Nicaragua as the top country in the region to start a business. The same report ranked Nicaragua as number one in investor protection.

What About the Future?

Do I think the economic situation in the U.S. (and the rest of the developed world) will push more people to places like Nicaragua? Yes, I do. But I never make investment decisions based on future predictions.

I focus on what a specific investment can do for me presently and in the near future. And from that perspective, having a second home in Nicaragua is a no- brainer.

Regarding future technological developments — ETR reader Mark Fitzpatrick brought up a good point in his e-mail to me. Because Nicaragua never had a national phone system (to speak of), cell phone communications exploded there quickly and cheaply. I get better service in Nicaragua, and more cheaply, than I do in the U.S.

The same is true for Internet communications. My service in Rancho Santana is on par with my service here. And things are getting better every year.

Did I mention the other amenities of Rancho Santana?

On-site spa, yoga center, and gym

Market and grocery store

Lighted tennis courts

Equestrian tours

Full-time concierge in the clubhouse

Five private beaches (great for surfing)

The Bottom Line

If you can run your business from home (as I can), you could relocate to Nicaragua and enjoy an amazing lifestyle for a fraction of the cost you are paying in the U.S. One great example of what I’m talking about is Marc and Kathy Brown, who moved to Rancho Santana in 2005. (From what I hear, the surfing is what originally attracted them to the community.) Marc previously worked in sales for various software companies.

But when he came to Nicaragua, he worked in real estate. In 2008, he took over the Rancho Santana sales office and helped increase sales by over 100 percent in just his first year at the helm.

If you’re interested in retiring overseas or having a low-cost tropical getaway, I urge you to check out Rancho Santana. They are hosting a Caravan Weekend from May 19 to 23. It’s a great opportunity to check out the community and some properties. You get a great deal on accommodations. Get in touch with Marc Brown at marcb@ranchosantana.com to get all the details. Tell him I sent you. And if you can’t make it then, you’re invited down anytime.

[Ed. Note: Looking for an ideal retirement haven -- or a winter getaway that you can buy now? Have you been curious about whether it's actually possible to live and work overseas?

As a member of the Liberty Street League, you'll learn that it's not only possible to live in the most beautiful tropical paradises, bustling foreign capitals, and

more

it can be cheaper, safer, and a hell of a lot more fun than living in the U.S.

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Are You Resilient Enough?

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

With the economy failing, companies making cutbacks, and your financial future at stake, you might be feeling pretty grim. But don’t even think about throwing in the towel. There are lots of opportunities out there – opportunities to make loads of money and put more happiness and love back in your life.

When you’ve been beaten down by anything, it’s natural to want to quit. But quitting is a blind alley that leads to failure and despair. There is another way to go. A way that will take you past your troubles and toward your best life yet.

A few years ago, I read about this topic in the Harvard Business Review. A company called Adaptive Learning Systems did a pretty comprehensive study of the qualities it takes to be successful in life. They looked at all the expected things: education, motivation, connections, etc. But they concluded that resiliency deserved to be on top of the list.

The ability to bounce back from disappointment and even disaster, Adaptive’s CEO Dean Becker said, “counts more than education, more than experience, and more than training.”

Resilience has been an important factor in my career. In the early 1980s, my partner and I took on more debt than we should have. I woke up one day and realized that I owed a lot more than I owned. My net worth had dropped from a meager but healthy $50,000 to a negative quarter of a million dollars.

That realization freaked me out. I imagined losing the little house I had just bought. I imagined living in my car or, worse yet, living in the street. It was hard to concentrate on work.

All I could think about was running away from my responsibilities. I had this fantasy about changing my name, moving to a different state, and getting a job as a check-out clerk in a supermarket.

In short, I was beaten down and I wanted to quit.

Luckily for me, I had an experienced partner who had suffered several major setbacks in his business career and knew how to help me get through this one.

“The first thing you have to do when times are tough,” JSN told me when he saw the dark circles under my eyes, “is take care of your body.” He reminded me of the famous line “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” and encouraged me to get back to my exercise program and get plenty of sleep.

He also reminded me of my responsibility to our employees, and shamed me into adopting a better attitude. “I’d rather you not come to work at all than come in looking like you do now,” he told me. “Think of how it affects our employees. They know things are tough, but they don’t know how tough. They are looking at us for clues. We have to keep them motivated.”

I vowed to act chipper and fake a good mood. It was difficult at first, but within days I found that I was actually feeling better from the inside out. My smile was genuine. I was joking with my employees. They picked up on my improved spirits and began working with more energy and optimism. That, in turn, made it easier for me to work hard.

Recognizing that I was now mentally and physically ready to deal with the challenge we were facing, JSN said, “Okay, now we’re going to draw up a ’survival and prosperity plan.’”

Just the sound of it filled me with hope. “Where do we begin?” I asked – and he laughed. “I have no idea,” he said, “because this is the first time I’ve been in this particular situation. But I’m sure if we put our heads together we can come up with something.”

For the better part of two days, we sat in his office and worked on our plan. As near as I can remember, it included the following elements:

Keep a stiff upper lip, regardless of what happens.

Fire unnecessary or unhelpful people.

Get rid of unprofitable products.

Eliminate wasteful habits.

Focus on core marketing strengths.

Keep working.

Gradually, we started to see results. Some of our marketing efforts began to pay off. Then, about three months after the bottom, one of our advertising campaigns hit big. A week after that, another one did. A year later, I was a relatively wealthy young guy.

That was my first lesson in the value of resilience. But it wasn’t my last. In the 30 years that have passed since then, I’ve run into trouble dozens of times. But having overcome adversity once, I was able to bounce back again and again.

Still, my first reaction is often “Screw it.”

Just last week, for example, I headed up what I hoped would be a brilliant brainstorming session. For four hours, I did my special thing with seven very bright and creative people – pushing and prodding, asking questions, and making comments. The session began strongly but started losing steam halfway through, and was barely moving when time ran out.

It was an embarrassing, dispiriting experience. I felt as if I had made a bit of a fool of myself, trying out a newfangled brainstorming technique that I should have known wouldn’t work.

But the next morning, I woke up with a new resolve. “I have to try again,” I thought. “Bring the group back together and try something else. Forget about the failure and my leading role in it, and get back to what we were there for – to create a breakthrough promotion.”

So I wrote a memo suggesting just that. And since then, the ideas have been coming – better ways to get the work done, different approaches, new questions. The anguish immediately started to subside, and a sense of positive expectation set in.

Faith, guts, and the willingness to work. That’s the combination you need to overcome obstacles and bounce back from failure.

But where does the faith come from? For Andrew Carnegie, one of the world’s biggest successes, it came from an overriding belief in the power of God to intervene in men’s lives. For me, the faith must come from myself – from the self- confidence developed by making success a habit.

Carnegie said, “The first thing to do about an obstacle is simply to stand up to it and not complain about it or whine under it but forthrightly attack it. Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. Just stand up to it, that’s all, and don’t give way under it, and it will finally break. You will break it. Something has to break and it won’t be you, it will be the obstacle.”

But not all obstacles can be extirpated. Some are best dealt with in more subtle ways. A wise man once said, “If I can’t get through a trouble, I try to go around it, and if I can’t go around it, I try to get under it, and if I can’t get under it, I try to go over it, and if I can’t go over it, I just plow right through it.”

That’s the course of action I recommend.

First, ask yourself if the obstacle can be ignored. Eighty percent of the problems you face will go away the moment you stop paying attention to them.

Next, see if you can get around the obstacle by using your wits. If you can accomplish the same goal by using cleverness instead of brute force, why not?

If you can’t get over, under, or around the obstacle, stand up to it firmly. This won’t be easy, particularly if you are not used to confrontation. But the more you do it, the easier it will become.

Thomas Jefferson had a similar idea about how to handle difficult situations. He put it this way: “Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.”

This resilience thing is something you may have to struggle with all your life. As I write this, there is a wooden paperweight on my desk that JSN bought for me from Levenger. It must have been more than 20 years ago… soon after that that time we worked together to turn our failing business around. It’s a quote from Winston Churchill: “Never give in. Never give in, never, never, never…”

[Ed. Note: One of the best ways to bounce back from the current recession? Start your own business. And ETR can help. Our exclusive Internet Money Club walks you step-by-step through setting up a website, starting an e-mail newsletter, creating your own products, marketing those products, and much more. The Club is strictly limited to 250 members, so sign up today before you're locked out until next year.

How to Think Like a Multimillionaire

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are." Muhammad Ali

Most people, when confronted with an obstacle, suffer some degree of shock and dismay. Even if they don’t consciously acknowledge the problem, their bodies respond in ways that make them less capable of bouncing back.

You may find it interesting to know, for example, that scientists have found that testosterone — the hormone that drives us to work hard and win — actually drops measurably in people who run into unanticipated problems. This clues the body to move into a defensive mode. We feel the impulse to slow down or shut down or run away.

Sophisticated scans have shown similar responses in the brain. Our pleasure centers become less active, as do the parts of the brain that promote the will to act and take risks.

Our bodies are designed to be enthusiastic and energized when things are going well. But when things turn against us, they are programmed to retreat.

These are deeply ingrained instincts. Evolutionists tell us that we developed them in order to survive life-threatening situations such as famine, extreme cold, and attacks by predators.

And though these retrenching responses are necessary for survival when the threats are mortal, they can work against us when the challenges are less serious. That is why we so often feel momentarily defeated by soluble problems — the sort of problems we run into when we attempt to enhance our lives and build our careers.

Change Is Possible

The good news is that there is plenty we can do to defeat our negative thoughts, feelings, and responses. We can train ourselves, in other words, to overcome just about anything if we learn certain skills — skills that tell the body and mind, “This is something I can handle. In fact, I look forward to the challenge.”

The people I call Natural Born Multimillionaires (NBMMs) face the same challenges as average people. In fact, because they tend to be so ambitious, they encounter more of them.

Some of these obstacles are technical. Some are financial. Some have to do with physical or emotional handicaps. And many come in the form of people who are jealous and/or resentful of anyone who wants to improve himself.

Think about a recent problem you’ve encountered — an unexpected situation that blocked you from doing something you wanted to do. How did you feel when you realized you couldn’t have your way? What thoughts ran through your head? How did you respond? What did you say? What did you do?

That is what I want to talk about in this essay. I’d like to tell you some of what I’ve learned about how to overcome obstacles, defy disappointments, and maintain a feeling of personal power regardless of what happens.

Stop Worrying, Start Living!

One of the best-selling books of all time is Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. In it, Carnegie makes the very good point that successful people are able to differentiate obstacles that are insurmountable and/or inevitable from those that are temporary or transient.

The wise man, Carnegie argued, does not waste his time fretting about problems that can’t be avoided. He accepts reality and moves on. By accepting reality, he doesn’t deplete the energy he needs to get past the problem at hand. He develops new skills and finds new paths and succeeds despite the inevitability of the obstacle that besets him.

In discussing this concept in his ETR essay on June 12, 2009, Robert Ringer pointed out that history is strewn with examples of individuals who overcame insurmountable/inevitable problems and went on to achieve great success.

Ray Charles’s blindness was an insurmountable obstacle, to be sure. But instead of wasting his energy agonizing over it, he devoted himself to music. He learned to play the piano and the guitar. He learned to sing. And when he was good at all three, he kept learning. Eventually, he became one of the most skillful artists of his time. And he became very rich too.

The same was true for Jose Feliciano and Andrea Bocelli — two other blind men who were not stopped by their handicap and went on to achieve world-class status and fortunes to match.

As I’ve suggested, the wisdom of Ray Charles, Jose Feliciano, Andrea Bocelli, and other men of their caliber is twofold:

They recognized that life throws some problems at you that you cannot change.

At the same time, they knew that every obstacle comes with a plethora of opportunities — chances learn new skills, circumvent the obstacle, and go on to enjoy a rewarding life.

“God grant me the serenity,” the old maxim says, “to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ve talked about Viktor Frankl’s brilliant book Man’s Search for Meaning in ETR several times. In the book, he explains how he overcame what for most of us would be insurmountable. Frankl, a doctor and psychotherapist working in Berlin, was imprisoned in concentration camps, including Dachau and Auschwitz, before being liberated in 1945.

His wife, as well as his mother and father, were killed in the camps. He faced starvation and extreme cold. He was slowly being worked to death, and saw his fellow prisoners tortured and killed.

Despite the suffering and inhumanity all around him, Frankl came to understand that no matter how painful the situation, life has meaning and is worth living.

These Are Times That Try Men’s Souls

In the past 10 years, many, many people have suffered serious financial setbacks — unexpected events that destroyed their retirement plans and bankrupted them, and in some cases left them homeless and without an active income.

These are real and serious problems. Not even in my most panglossian frenzy would I make light of them.

But none of them are insurmountable. There is no financial problem that can destroy your life.

And yet financial reversals do destroy lives. It is almost impossible to read the newspaper without encountering a story about some man or woman who, when confronted with sudden and serious financial losses, took his/her life.

In ETR, I told you about a friend of mine who did just that.

He was in great health, had a devoted family and great friends. He had all that, plus a successful printing business and a significant personal fortune. He was a very charismatic guy — always good-natured, upbeat, full of fun, and easy to like. Then one day, his business collapsed. I don’t remember the details, but, suddenly, he was bankrupt.

heard about it soon after it happened. When I called to console him, it was too late. Sobbing, his wife told me that he had killed himself.

I

I couldn’t understand why he did it. He’d had so many other things going for him that, in my eyes, his business and the wealth it produced was just gravy. Apparently, he didn’t see it that way.

Read the biography of any of the great entrepreneurs and you will discover that each of them overcame one terrible obstacle after another. Andrew Carnegie, for example, who became one of the richest men in the country, came to the U.S. with his family from Scotland.

They spent all their money getting here, so 13-year-old Andrew had to forgo school and go to work at a cotton factory for $1.20 a week. By studying bookkeeping at night, he was able to get a job as a clerk. By the age of 15, he was working as a telegraph operator, a relatively well-paid position. Then his father died, making him the family’s sole breadwinner.

I remember my first significant experience with financial reversals.

It was right before the business I ran with JSN made it’s first million. At the time, the business was in the hole by almost twice that. And I personally owed about $200,000 — four times my salary.

I was scared, psychologically burdened by that debt.

Luckily for me, JSN had lived through plenty of tough times, and he knew the value of sticking it out. “When all else fails,” he told me, “just close your eyes and walk forward.”

Bolstered by his pluck, I kept pushing myself. And one bright spring day, one of our marketing packages started working. A week after that, another one did. And

a year later, I was a relatively wealthy young guy.

That experience taught me the value of resilience — but one lesson wasn’t enough to make it a permanent, instinctual reflex. I continued to fail, and my failures continued to hurt. But having had success once, I was able to bounce back again and again — sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Without JSN’s example, I am quite sure I would have given up my ambitions for wealth and success, quit the business, and gotten a job working for some humdrum corporation or big newspaper.

How to Survive Defeat

Dale Carnegie believed that most obstacles can be overcome through a combination of determination, optimism, and “being conscious of your connection to some Conscious Universal Power Source.”

I don’t know if there is some Conscious Universal Power Source out there — I have my doubts — but I’m all in favor of feeling “connected” with it if it gives you the energy you need to endure your difficulties and move on in life.

Conscious or not, there is a vast opportunity for change and growth in the universe. And this opportunity is open to anyone who will allow himself to take positive action, regardless of his religious or spiritual beliefs.

There are 7 things that you can do to change the way your mind and body react to setbacks.

1. Understand which obstacles are truly inevitable or insurmountable. Keep in

mind that few are. Blindness is one. The death of a partner or loved one is another. The weather is a third. Know the difference between unexpected changes that you absolutely can’t control and those things you can overcome.

2. Don’t be emotionally defeated by inevitable change. Reframe the experience.

Ask yourself, “Where is the silver lining?” Don’t stop asking until you find one. There is always a silver lining. There are usually dozens of them.

3. Consult with other people who have experienced the same problem. Don’t

complain. Don’t seek comfort. Seek practical knowledge. Ask their advice.

4. Read something inspirational to make you feel better.

5. Recognize that the biggest threat to you is not the problem itself but how you

react to it.

6. Understand that if you give in to the problem, your body will begin to shut

down. It will deny you the energy you need to move on and succeed. Energy is the key. Do everything you can to energize yourself. Rest, but not too long. Meditate, but only to feel better. Walk or run or exercise, but again only hard enough to stimulate energy.

7. Figure out how to have fun.

How to Have Fun

For many years, I believed that the very idea of having fun was a foolish notion.

I noticed that I often grew bored with activities that are generally considered to be “fun,” and that this was particularly true of passive activities like watching television and going to the movies. I argued that most of the real fun I experienced came from working on projects I cared about.

I reasoned that to make fun itself a goal is both futile and self-deprecating.

Surely, there is a higher purpose in life than that. I suggested that by setting goals that are “outside yourself” (that have the aim of leaving the world and its

population a bit better than you found it), you could have your moral cake and eat

it too.

In other words, that you could achieve an ethical goal and have fun doing it.

I have made those arguments many times in past ETR articles, and I’m not going

to refute them here. But I have to admit that a few months ago, I did, in fact, realize that I could be having more fun in my life. And I resolved to do something about it.

Here’s what happened…

Number Three Son was forlorn about something. K and I were trying to cheer him up.

“Think about all the fun you have each day,” I said.

He made a face.

“Come on now,” I said. “Be honest. In the 16 hours you are awake every day, how many of them would you consider to be fun?”

“Honestly?” he asked. “About two.”

“That seems about right,” I said. “Two hours of fun a day. Yes, that’s seems pretty good to me.”

K was looking at me with pity in her eyes.

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked. “How many hours of fun do you get out of a 16-hour day?”

“Sixteen,” she said.

And I knew she meant it. Sure, she was exaggerating a bit. She does get upset sometimes (like last night, when she woke up to find me clipping my toenails in bed). But on an hour-by-hour basis, she is light years ahead of Number Three Son and me in the happiness game.

And it’s not because she doesn’t encounter problems. It’s because she has trained herself to feel the pain quickly and then to move on with optimism and determination. She is committed to a life of happiness. And as a result, she has it.

I learned something from K that day. “From now on,” I pledged, “I will not allow

any obstacle to defeat me. I will accomplish all I want to accomplish, and when

the troubles come I will deal with them with enthusiasm and I will get around them.”

Fake It Till You Make It

Happiness is both the easiest and hardest goal to accomplish. It doesn’t take intelligence or even an intelligent plan. What it does take, I now know, is the willpower to reject your body’s natural tendency to shut down when you run into problems. You have to train your mind to accept reality and move on, energetically, to accomplish new goals.

I realized that when I got myself into some sort of difficulty, I always had a

choice. I could allow myself to get frustrated. Or I could force myself to take on a positive mental attitude and push forward.

I knew from my reading of another book by Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends

and Influence People) that complaints and self-pity only make bad situations worse. I also understood that just pretending to feel positive about a problem

could often lighten my mood.

So that became my two-step plan for being successful and happy even when things turn against me:

1. Accept the problem without feeling bitter about it.

2. Move quickly on to do something good.

Whenever something goes awry these days and someone asks me about it, I resist the urge to complain — even though it feels like that will make me feel better.

I know that the only way around the obstacle is to begin go through the process I

outlined above. I do that immediately — before I have a chance to talk to anyone else. Then, when they ask me, I can say, “Yes, it happened. It was bad. But I’m feeling optimistic now because I have a plan to overcome it.”

To help myself stay positive, I’ve added a simple five-minute routine to my morning schedule that you might find useful. After I go over my daily task list and determine my priorities, I spend an extra few minutes looking at each task and asking myself, “How can I make this fun?”

That may seem like an odd thing to do — a too-formal approach to having fun. But it really works. I find that I joke more and get upset less.

Let’s say I know that I am going to have lunch with a particularly difficult business partner. I try to figure out some way to make the lunch enjoyable… if not flat-out fun. Usually, that involves changing my attitude about it. For example:

Deciding what I want to get out of the meeting, but remembering not to care so much if I don’t.

Reminding myself that my lifetime job isn’t to improve all the difficult people I run into. Telling myself, “If I can get this one guy to cooperate with one reasonable goal of mine, that’s enough.”

And to make sure I have fun during the lunch, I promise myself that if he starts to irritate me, I’ll visualize some of his more peculiar crotchets and imagine myself laughing out loud at them. (Trust me. A few minutes of visualization really helps.)

You will probably come up with your own ways to have fun when you have to deal with a difficult person (or situation). But by starting with the question “How can I make this fun?” you can usually come up with an answer.

For more help in enjoying life, no matter what it throws at you, check out ETR’s Personal Mastery Program. The creator of the program, Dr. Srikumar Rao, teaches practical techniques for fundamentally changing the way you react to setbacks and overcome obstacles. Lose your job… your kid flunks out of school… your car breaks down in the middle rush hour… Dr. Rao can help you not only survive the crisis but master it and move on.

Find out more about the program here.

Tracking Your Success: Why You Should Keep a Daily Journal

"People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. It's as simple as that." Earl Nightingale

It may seem a self-centered pastime, but keeping a journal is actually an excellent career-building tool. It can help you figure out new directions for your life and then guide you as you go.

It can also be a very satisfying hobby. I’ve been keeping journals for more than 30 years now, and the pleasure of writing them has only increased over the years.

In my earlier years, I kept journals sporadically, usually when traveling or involved in some interesting project. I kept a journal for two years when I lived in Africa teaching English and philosophy at the University of Chad. I kept a journal twice during summer vacations — once in the French countryside and another time in Rome.

But when I started writing ETR about 10 years ago, I began journaling every day. I have done so pretty much nonstop since then.

I used to write my journals in a leather book with a fountain pen. I liked the feel of writing out my words. And I enjoyed the way the sentences looked on paper. I also drew illustrations — cartoons, caricatures, and scenes. And sometimes I pasted parts of letters or newspaper clippings or ticket receipts on the pages to remind me of important experiences.

Since my thumbs became arthritic, I can’t write longhand anymore, so I use a computer instead. The result is not as aesthetically pleasing as the old leather journals, but I find that I write much more these days and I don’t have to worry about losing the record of my life in some flood.

Over the years, my journals have evolved from the random observations of my first travelogs to a more formal but more comprehensive format today.

At the top of each journal entry, I keep my monthly, weekly, and daily goals. These I update daily, changing the color of the tasks from red to black as I complete them.

My most important tasks are highlighted in yellow. I make an effort to complete them first — and when I don’t, I work late until they are done. The less important tasks can be pushed to the next day or even the next week if necessary. I’ve found this simple system has greatly increased my productivity.

Beneath my goals, I include certain daily tasks that I consider critical to my personal development. I write a poem. I learn a new word. And I record a useful or interesting (to me) thought.

I’ve been writing poems on a daily basis for almost three years now. If I keep this up, I’ll have written more poems than Emily Dickinson by the time I’m 65.

Learning a new word every day is simply fun. I make an effort to select only words I might possibly use. Esoteric words have only passing interest for me. I believe that a good vocabulary is a personal asset. It helps you communicate ideas with precision. It conveys experience and conviction. It gives you power. It helps you succeed.

It’s not easy to come up with a useful or interesting new thought every day, but it has become much easier since I started doing it. I collect thoughts on business, on relationships, and even philosophical musings. These have been very helpful in developing essay and book ideas. And they make me a better conversationalist.

I transfer all my new words, thoughts, and poetry to separate journals. I edit them once a month and use them, as I said, for books and articles, as well as business memos.

Eighty percent of the good ideas we come up with are lost because we simply forget them. Entering them into a journal and then editing them once a month assures that most of them are remembered and profited from.

The next entry in my journal is a short diary of what has happened that day. I try

to keep this short and sweet. I’ve found, from doing this so long, that most of my daily activities are not as interesting in retrospect as they are the day I experience them. The diary, I imagine, will be a source of pleasure one day when

I am old or invalid. I’ll reread all the days of my life.

Next, I edit something that I wrote the day before. Often, it’s a poem or short story. But sometimes it’s an essay for ETR. This requires a bit more mental acuity. After a half-hour of editing, I can feel the creative engine kicking into third gear.

Then I start my real writing. Fiction or non-fiction, this is the most important part of my writing day.

My journal is also the place where I track my health information — my weight, my blood-sugar levels, my doctors’ appointments and results — as well as the progress I’ve made on other goals in business and my personal life.

To me, your journal should be like your house. It should be filled with interesting things that reflect the person you are. I hate houses that are designed by professional decorators. You walk through them and they all look the same. You know the people who own them, but you can find no evidence of their personalities where they live.

Keeping a journal can help you change your life. It can help you do better work, achieve your goals, communicate with friends and family, and get your working day moving. And it’s a terrific way to leave behind a record of who you were and what you were doing during your voyage through life.

If you are keeping a journal or thinking about starting one, here are three ways to make that journal work for you.

3 Powerful Ways to Benefit From Your Journal

1. Keep track of your goals.

If you keep track of your goals like I do, you will find that it is much easier to complete them. Every morning, all the tasks you want to do but haven’t done yet are staring you in the face. They are shouting at you — “Hey, lazy one… let’s get to work!”

At the end of each day, note which tasks you’ve completed and which you’ve failed to complete. If you are failing to complete highlighted (important) tasks, put aside everything else the next day until you have taken care of those.

2. Stay creative and keep your writing fresh.

Writing in your journal every morning gets and keeps your creative juices flowing. You can record ideas for new products or services… draft memos to your team or letters to colleagues… jot down outlines for books you want to write… even practice your copywriting.

If you are a marketer, be sure to write marketing copy every day. Copywriter John Forde recommends writing three pages of sales copy a day. He says it will keep your imagination in top form. I believe he’s right.

3. Remember things you’ve learned, books you’ve read, and observations you’ve made.

Whether you segregate your thoughts as I do, or simply highlight them in your diary, it’s helpful to keep a record of them and then refer to them later.

I also record interesting facts and figures from my reading. (I make it a point to locate at least one useful fact or idea in every newspaper or magazine or business book that I read.) And I use my journal to list recommendations that I read or hear about: a new wine to try, a new book, a new CD from a favorite singer, a new restaurant, an exotic destination that I want to travel to.

It’s amazing how much good stuff you can accumulate once you get into the habit of putting things that interest you into your journal and highlighting them for future use.

So those are three important benefits of keeping a journal — but there are many more. A journal can also be a place to:

Record snippets of conversations that you can use later when writing your next (or first) novel or screenplay.

List reasons why you deserve a big salary increase (or reasons why you shouldn’t be let go during your company’s upcoming layoffs).

Identify all your assets and their locations, so your spouse or children can get to them in an emergency.

Index your favorite recipes, quotations, images, etc.

Record the good deeds you’ve done and the blessings you’ve received.

Keeping a journal takes about 5 to 30 minutes a day — well worth it when you consider the payoff: It will help you make better plans and accomplish more with your time.

And when you get much older, a journal can give you an unexpected bonus:

hours and hours of fun, reminiscing about your rich, rewarding, productive life.

(To help you see exactly what I’m talking about, I’ve included some recent journal entries here.)

Bob Cox, the creator of our Epiphany Alliance program, knows the value of keeping a journal. He has kept one his whole career. And that’s why all his students keep one — a special journal specifically for goal setting.

At a glance, you can tell whether you are on track (completing the intermediate goals on the way to your big “life” goals)… or falling behind.

But that’s just one small part of Bob’s program. Through weekly letters and regular teleconferences — and even personal coaching from Bob — you get a complete guide to living your life on your terms. Accomplish anything you want. Follow your most cherished dreams — and live them. By using the success techniques that Bob talks about in his program, you’ll learn:

How to completely reinvent your life so you can become the kind of successful, on-top-of-things person you always wanted to be…

The 12 steps to adding more time to your day and getting each day off to the freshest, most productive start…

How to remain completely stress-free — no matter how busy you get…

At least 3 ways of creating an ever-growing second income while keeping your day job…

The insidious character flaw that could double the time it takes you to succeed (and how to get rid of it)…

How to make consistent, daily progress toward your most-neglected goals…

And that’s just small sampling.

If you asked him, Bob would tell you that all his techniques and strategies can be traced back to one thing: time management. We all have the same amount of time each day to make things happen. But Bob has written a letter explaining how to accomplish more in 24 hours than most people do all week. You can read it here.

Free Wealth Building Tips and Strategies from Real Experts

In my book The Wealth Secrets of a Self-Made Multimillionaire, I make it crystal clear that: “I Don’t Want You to Just Dream Your Dream — I Want to Help You Make It Happen.”

You have a dream. Maybe it’s to become mayor of your town. Maybe it’s to make a living as an artist. Or to make a million dollars.

You think about your dream at work. You talk about it with friends. You dream your dream when you’re sleeping. But it never happens.

Your 20s turn into your 30s. Your 30s soon become your 40s. Your 40s quickly run into your 50s –– and, before you know it, your dream is gone.

You have lived a life someone else has figured out for you, not your dream, and you wonder, “Where did I go wrong?

Nine times out of 10, dreamers fail –– not because they don’t have a goal but because they need something to get them going. That’s what I hope I have just done for you –– gotten you excited and optimistic and ready to do the important work that needs to be done to achieve your wealth-building dream.

Take the first step, today, by identifying your No. 1 Goal. Write it down. And make a commitment –– a promise to yourself –– that you are going to turn that dream into a plan of action. Develop your own Wealth- Builder’s mindset.

At Early To Rise we can put you on the road toward serious wealth building. We’ll show you breakthrough wealth-creation tips like how to get out of debt, take control of your finances, develop financially valuable skills, and dramatically increase your wealth.

We can show you how to turn your life around in 24 hours and steadily get richer — by increasing the income you already have… by adding a second, active source of income… by investing profitably in real estate and the financial markets… and by living like a billionaire without spending like one.

You can’t control the economy. You can’t always predict the markets. You can’t ultimately protect yourself from disaster. But you can start today using wealth creation strategies and make yourself richer tomorrow than you are today.

There’s always something you can do that moves you closer to your wealth building goals. Work an extra hour. Sell an extra widget. Start a partnership. Cook up a moneymaking idea. Now is the best time ever to build wealth.

Why?

Because now is always the best time to do anything important – but especially something that increases over time. We’ll give you plenty of ideas for wealth building when you read ETR every day. You can do that, and you can do it right now, can’t you?

Now is always the best time to start something good.

Good things take time, and time is the one thing that is definitely limited. The sooner you begin, the faster you’ll get there.

Again, if you haven’t already, click here and grab a free subscription to Early to Rise!

I’m a big believer in the proverb – “Where there’s a will there is a way.”

That’s why I am really excited about your prospects for success. So along with the rest of the ETR team we look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Masterson