May 27, 2005

Newspaper Circulation - Every Day is a Bad Day

I recently started another blog to chronicle the demise of the daily newspaper. But it soon became apparent there need not be any specific blogging on that topic since it’s becoming such common knowledge and with so many outlets covering the most important of news regarding the demise of the newspaper.

I subscribed to a Google newsfeed based on keywords like “circulation decline” and other related nuggets. I soon started seeing an avalanche of bad news. Newspapers from around the world are reporting downward spiraling circulations. I just couldn’t keep up with all that bad news and report it with any amount of clarity.

So, I quit the blog. Say bye bye to :-)

But I’ve picked up another project that relates directly to the demise of the traditional newspaper (and pays me better, to boot!) Wait until you see this. Can’t wait to unveil this baby. You’ll hopefully be reading about it left and right once I release news of it. It may or may not rock the news publishing world. Who knows? But it’s going to be fun trying.

May 20, 2005

Religion of Peace

Good example.

Here are some more pictures of this religion of peace I keep hearing about.

God help us all.

May 19, 2005

Post-itģ Note Marketing Product Launched

I’ve finally gotten around to commercializing an idea I wrote about a while back having to do with Post-itģ Notes.

I’ve done some experimenting and have found amazing results advertising a special to my customers via a custom printed 3″ x 3″ post-it note.

I recently sent out our new catalog for Great American Collectibles. Here’s the post-it note (left) that I stuck in random locations inside the catalog. I used my i9900 Canon ink jet printer to print it. The seemingly inferior quality is from the scanning process. The actual printed sticky looks quite nice.

In this experiment, I offered this special discount on George Claus via a post-it note in half my mailing and the other half received the same special, but it was only mentioned in the text of the catalog with NO post-it note included.

Not surprisingly, I had FIVE TIMES the response to the special offered via the post-it note compared to the one offered only through the text in the catalog even though the special was identical.

If you send out mailings of ANY kind to your customers, you should NEVER pass up the opportunity to highlight something you want to make absolutely sure your customers see. Even if your customer quickly throws your mailing away, they WILL notice and WILL read your post-it note. It’s your one chance to yell at the top of your lungs, “DON’T THROW ME AWAY… LOOK WHAT I’VE GOT FOR YOU.”

And it works.

Up until my little invention, you’d have to order 25,000 Post-it notes if you wanted something custom printed in full color (or black and white for that matter.) But using my Ready-to-Print Sticky Sheetsģ, you can design and print (in full color) as little as just one sticky. This opens up an entirely new way to uniquely reach your audience. You can even personalize each sticky, for each customer.

As a business opportunity, I’m targeting churches in a big way to sell this product to. Stickys are a perfect way for churches to highlight something important in the Sunday bulletin. The reader is more apt to take the sticky and put it in their pocket or purse because we’re conditioned to do that with stickys when it has info on it that we’re in need of.

These are also great for door-to-door marketing. It’s so much easier to stick one of these things on someone’s door (not to mention the ease of carrying them while you’re hoofing it door-to-door) than it is to put a flyer on a door handle or trying to afix your message somehow so it doesn’t blow away. Also, it gets gobs more attention because they think someone they know has left them a note on their door.

If you want to sell these to local churches or have another idea of who could use these, email me (myself AT dandsherman DOT com) and we can work out a dealer discount if you’re serious about marketing them in your local area.

May 18, 2005

Respectfully Removed

I just learned a good lesson in blog ethics. If you want to go on a diatribe about something, you better check to make sure what you’re about to explode onto is justified.

I just deleted a post of mine that linked to what I thought was material given to kids in MA about gay sex… etc. I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want to give Article 8, the source of the information, any more exposure than necessary.

I did some major google searching and couldn’t find one reference to this literature that was supposedly being passed out to kids in MA.

So, I humbly apologize to you, my reader, for even bringing the subject up.

However, the literature was still very damning and a good representation of the deep lack of morality and decorum in the part of the gay community where this type of literature finds a home.

Thanks to a reader of the blog, William, for setting me straight on this issue. He lives near the school that was mentioned in the bogus information. He says:

I live about 3 miles from Brookline. The site you linked to is wrong. That gay pamphlet wasn’t handed out to kids at the high school — [at least] that’s what the actual students are saying and they are the ones who lack a vested interest, unlike the gay organizations and the anti-gay organizations, so I’m prone to believe them. Beyond that, the truth is uncertain as to its funding, or the specifics of its existence.

So, it is still possible it was handed out unofficially at the school, but this is a far cry from being officially sanctioned by the school. But for lack of any evidence such a thing happened, I must believe it didn’t.

He goes on to say:

If Newsweek had a responsibility to err on the side of America (in your opinion), then don’t you have a responsibility to err on the side of not believing a pure propaganda site like Article 8? It exists for one reason — to delegitimize gay people and negatively sensationalize everything having to do with them Just as all the gay organizations seem to exist for one reason — to not get out of my face and force everyone to love them.

He’s right in that I should have researched and errorred on the side of caution, of which I’ve already apologized.

However, I do not agree with William’s statement, “It exists for one reason — to delegitimize gay people…”

The site might exist to undermine the gay agenda of bringing the choice of who they sleep with into the category of being “normal” and forcing everyone to not only accept it but agree with it. (Yes, I said “choice” because we choose who to sleep with… perhaps not to whom we’re attracted to, but who we sleep with is a choice.) But “delegitimizing” isn’t the correct word. A gay person’s legitimacy should not be predicated on what they choose to do in their bedrooms (or public bathrooms), they are legitimized by the fact that they are human… like you and me and we already have rights for that category. Their gayness can neither be legitimized or delegitimized just as my love of chocolate chip ice cream can’t. That’s half the problem with the activist gay community’s agenda. They are seeking something that can’t be given. Because to give it would require people’s individual moralities to succumb to one group’s ideas of right and wrong and that just tain’t going to happen.

William also said, regarding a link to made to a man who was arrested for protesting what his child was learning in school regarding gay rights…etc:

That Lexington man wasn’t arrested for protesting homosexuality being taught in his kid’s school; he was arrested because he refused to leave and well, you can’t do that. It’s trespassing. The creation of mock persecution is a tool of both sides and it’s pretty obnoxious.

I agree that claiming persecution is highly irritating.

In this case, I would have done the same thing and would have been proud to be arrested. However, I would NOT have threatened or gotten violent with anyone. At least not at that point and I don’t get the impression that this parent did either.

But more to the point… why is a school teaching the things that this parent is irrate about? You can obfuscate and try your best to hide the real issue by having someone arrested for not leaving school grounds, but the issue is still there. Don’t teach my child stuff that goes against every moral fiber that runs through my household.

Reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic! How hard is that to stick to?

Oh, and thanks to William, I have found that people can’t post comments to my blog for some reason. I’ll look into that.

May 17, 2005

Liberal Women vs Conservative Women

Had to pass this along to you. So funny. Remember that the greatest of humorous situations have a thread of truth to them. Check this out.

Monster-in-Law Boycott

It seems someone who takes treasonous acts, no matter how long ago they occurred, very serious. A theatre owner in Kentucky has refused to show the movie Monster-in-Law because it stars Jane Fonda. In case you didn’t know, she has been unapologetic for giving aid and comfort to the enemy during the Vietnam War.

Here’s Hanoi Jane laughing it up with the very people shooting down American pilots at the time. Imagine Julia Roberts having a photo op with Al Queda fighters in Iraq, amidst a pile of explosives ready to be used as IEDs. Makes you sick, hey?

Hanoi Jane Having Fun with an NVA Gun Crew

Well, Ike Boutwell, owner of the Elizabethtown Movie Palace in Elizabethtown, KY, won’t have anything to do with supporting the success of Jane Fonda.

Until she gives a heartfelt apology for what she did to the American serviceman at the time, I won’t either. I’m going one step further. I’m sending money to Ike to help offset his lost revenue and to make a statement that I feel he’s doing the right thing.

If you want to send him money, please do so. Here’s the address of the theatre:

Ike Boutwell
1231 Woodland Drive
Elizabethtown KY 42701

If you don’t stand for what’s right, the bad guys win.

[Tip to Right Nation via Michelle Malkin]

May 16, 2005

Newsweek - CANCELLED!

Newsweek screwed up big time.

Here’s what I just wrote to Newsweek in cancelling my subscription. I recommend all subscribers do the same thing. We need for US publications to error on the side of AMERICA if they truly believe in the prevailing good of our intentions and actions across the world. If they don’t, that’s fine… but they shouldn’t get the support of the American people. Of course, no support and they go out of business.

Yes, we have freedom of the press but we also have freedom of association. Don’t associate yourselves with such drivel.

My cancellation note to Newsweek:

Please cancel my subscription to your magazine. I don’t want to support a publication that is so bent on the failure of the US in trying to do good around the world. Even IF the Koran incident had actually happened, what is gained by reporting this one act by some idiot? What higher calling is served? Don’t you want your own country to succeed in bringing Democracy to the rest of the world? Obivously, your goal is to discredit the current administration at all costs. Well, you’re succeeding but I hope at a high cost.

Please cancel my subscrition and refund the unused balance.

May 14, 2005

Rich Get Richer - Part 2

In my previous post, I wrote that the poor in this country aren’t getting poorer because of anyone but themselves, for the most part. I would like to qualify that statement by saying that those who are handicapped or cannot fend for themselves are by definition, not the people I am talking about. If the government should help anyone in need, it’s the indigent and helpless. Actually, I think people who can’t make the choices we make because of physical impairment should live a relatively well off life, financially, with the help of the government (us.)

It’s important to understand that money is not static and owned/controlled by one person at a time. If you added up all the investment values, checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, bonds… all the instruments that are tied to money, you will have a much higher total money count than what is currently in circulation. All that really counts is the VALUE of the instrument that you own or control. It’s not the physical paper money. Anyone in the US that can drive to the store and back, turn on a computer and type, or have the intellect enough to watch All My Children and understand the plot line, can choose to not be poor in this country. Period. If you’re productive and don’t make stupid decisions that hamper your productivity, you’ll not get "poorer" as the doom and gloom Democrats like to say.

If you’ve read my bio on this blog, you’ll know that I had a very poor upbringing. It was about as poor as you can get, for the most part, without actually living on the streets. But I chose, from an early age, to not continue that way after I left home. I remember when I was 8 years old, telling my mom that I wasn’t going to be poor when I grew up. All through my childhood, it was a something that permeated everything that I did. I read books on wealth creation. When others were playing, I was reading real estate investment books. I was bound and determined to break the poverty cycle I was born in to.

My first choice to break that cycle was to join the US Air Force. I couldn’t afford to go to college so the military was my way to learn a trade and to get onto my feet but most importantly, to get me away from my life at home. Another choice I made early on was to not marry early in life. It almost happened but I managed to not drink the kool aid. One of the biggest wealth defeating choices a young person can make is to get married. Your focus will be diminished a great deal and your chances of putting yourself in the path of financial success is greatly diminished. Not impossible, but hampered a great deal. It’s not so much the marriage… it’s the family that inevitably comes after.

While in the military I read and read and read. I was voracious. I would read anything having to do with business and creating wealth. I would start business after business in my spare time. Being in the military didn’t allow me to see my businesses through to success. But that wasn’t my goal at the time. I just wanted to get a taste for it and to work through concepts and ideas I had at the time. The bottom line is, I tried really, really hard, to make choices that would bring me closer and closer to success. I finally got out of the military and I got married soon after that. However, I was 33 by then and much more capable of continuing my focus towards wealth.

I had an important conversation with my wife to be one night on the phone. It was early in our courtship. But it was so important for me that she knew and understood one thing. I said that since I was a child, I vowed that I would NEVER settle in life. I won’t "settle" for the middle class life. I won’t be the type of husband that comes home from a 9 to 5 job, lights up the barbecue and drinks beers with the guys, watching sports and playing on the bowling league. I will work into the night most nights, reading and working on my road to success. I’ll most likely get 4 or 5 hours a sleep a night. I told her that I don’t want to have kids until I feel it won’t hamper my (now "our") journey to wealth. I just won’t do it. There will be sacrifices we’ll have to make and big risks that we’ll take and they’ll most likely make her very uncomfortable to think about. She understood and has since said that those traits were a large part of what she loved about me.

The following image is the result of pasting together 3 or 4 screenshots from one of my business checking accounts. I did this back on the 5th of May and the online account only shows back about 72 days, so this is pretty much representing each day from Feb 23rd to May 5th. It’s a list of the deposits during that timeframe. I’ve grayed out private info displayed down the middle.

I don’t show you this to brag. I’m actually no where near my goals so in my eyes, there’s really nothing to brag about. But I want you to see what can happen in America, even for someone born to a 17 year high school drop out mother and lived a life of poverty with only a high school education. (Well, I have an Associates Degree… but that and $2.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.)

Don’t make bad choices, read EVERYTHING you can about success and creating wealth, do NOT create debt that is not furthering you financially, act on any and every idea that you’ve given at least 30 days thought to, even if it doesn’t succeed… and eventually you WILL succeed. It’s just a matter of time. Some of you will take ’till you’re 60 to do it, but you WILL do it if you persevere and never settle in life.


Update 9/10/10: I just reread this post of mine from over 5 years ago. I had a fond trip down memory lane. The numbers shown above pale in comparison to today’s numbers. And again… it was all about making choices that put you on the path to success. Not to say I haven’t made poor choices, too. But the trajectory has been nothing but up. 

May 12, 2005

Rich Getting Richer, Poor Getting too Lazy

If I had to pick one mantra from the left that is the most annoying of them all, it’s the "rich getting richer, poor getting poorer" schtick. Of course, it’s true. We WANT our society to get richer and richer. But if someone who’s poor is getting poorer, it’s their own damn fault.

But we need to define our terms here. The "rich" aren’t getting richer. It’s the "productive" that are getting richer in America. Our "poor" people are victims of our country’s own runaway success. Our "poorest" people earn more money than 75% of the rest of the world’s population. (Give or take.) The baseline for our idea of being poor is so much higher than the rest of the world that we’ve created an endemic unwillingness to make the choices one needs to be even mildly more successful. Because unless I’m motivated to be as productive as I need to be to raise my living condition, sitting in my comfy easy chair, inside my air conditioned house, eating chips and drinking diet pepsi, watching cable tv, smoking cigarettes that cost me $5 a pack… isn’t such a bad living, on the whole.

So, unless I start making decisions in my life that move me in the direction of success and which motivate me to being more productive than my current situation demands, I’m not going to get much richer and I’m more likely than not, going to get poorer over time. My kids will probably follow suit, statistically speaking.

Case in point. Let’s take Alice, a 41 year old waitress, mother of 4, in Mosquito Spit, Alabama. (Names have been changed to protect the poor.) She was raised in a family that made bad choices in life so she didn’t start off all that good to begin with. (Again, bad decisions tend to be passed down from generation to generation.) Alice MADE A DECISION to drop out of High School to attend a trade school. Now she’s limited her options in life. Okay… not an altogether disatrous choice by itself. Let’s move on… Alice MADE A CHOICE to have unprotected sex with her high school boyfriend and got pregnant. Now her options in life have narrowed yet again, in the absense of any other mitigating circumstances. (Like winning the lottery, for instance.) Alice MADE A CHOICE to marry a man who wasn’t particularly ambitious in life. Alice MADE A CHOICE to buy that brand new car because it sure was nice. She can handle the payments as long as nothing else in life happens. She’ll worry about investing for her retirement later. Alice MADE A CHOICE to run up some credit card debt and pay the minimum balances from now until the end of time. Alice MADE A CHOICE to just work at the diner and then come home and watch TV or go out with her friends and/or husband and not look for ways to improve her situation like going to school or starting a side business or SOMETHING. Alice MADE A CHOICE to have yet another kid when paying the car payment was a huge strain at this point in life already. Alice MADE A CHOICE to have yet another kid. Alice MADE A CHOICE to have yet ANOTHER kid… putting her husband and herself permanently in the category of what we call poor.

Starting with that first choice and following her choices throughout her life, is it any wonder she’s poor and without health insurance? Sure, if you look at just today, a 41 year old woman with 4 kinds and barely making it from month to month, we can have pity and wonder "what’s happened to our country that we can let this 41 year old woman and her family make so little and not have health insurance?… etc."

But, here’s the kicker, folks… she CHOSE her station in life. Plain and simple. So why should I be the one that foots the bill for her to raise her situation? Unless she’s been horribly handicapped and cannot take care of herself or her kids, it’s HER choice to be where she’s at. Period! Here’s where the rubber meets the road and what you absolutely NEED to understand. This ability to choose is the GOOD thing about America. Not the bad thing. We have a choice in this country to either make decisions that lead us to success and relative comfort or the other way.

So, back to the stupid saying, "the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer." What’s assinine about this statement is it assumes that if I am a "rich" person and I’m making $1,000,000 a year, that same amount of money is being removed from circulation and no one else can make that same serial numbered quantity of currency because it’s being made by me, the rich guy.

It helps to put this in context by removing the money terminology. All money is is a physical manifestation of productivity. If I am productive for 1 hour, I earn $X of dollars in exchange for my productivity. So, money = productivity. Another example of this is direct money productivity. If I put $100 into an investment, that money is producing a unit of productivity for the company I invested it in. It gets money in return for its productivity called interest. So, no matter how you parse it, money = productivity.

Now, let’s go over this saying again, in context. The rich (productive) are getting richer (more and more productive.) The poor (relatively less productive) are getting poorer (less and less productive.) The bottom line is, you need to make choices in life that get you in a position to become more and more productive. This will create wealth in your lifetime. Bad choices will hamper you from being more and more productive over time and you will become poorer and poorer as you spiral downwards. Now, of course, there are varying levels of success and "rich". But you get my point. Life is a series of little choices. All of them lead somewhere. Make the right choices and America is where you want to be because the sky is the limit. Ironically, America is where you want to be also, if you’ve made piss poor choices all your life. But the point is, it’s YOUR CHOICE as to what end of that scale you end up finding yourself. Next post, I’m going to tell you my story of choices.

May 5, 2005

Create a Retail Destination, Not Just a Store

In 1936, after 5 years of hardly any business to speak of, a drug store owner in Wall, SD got an idea. (I guess it was his wifeís idea.) He went out to I-90, the major highway that went by Wall, and put up a billboard offering free ice water at their drug store in town.

The rest is history. If youíve never driven by Wall, SD, you wonít know what I mean. But Wall Drug is about the most famous thing in South Dakota (besides Mt. Rushmore) and has been one of the Top 10 roadside attractions in the US since. The famous billboards start hundreds of miles out so when you finally do get to Wall, you feel almost guilty for not taking the exit and stopping in to see what all the hubbub is about.

Wall Drug is essentially one big tourist trap. And I mean BIG tourist trap. Itís a sprawling 50,000 square foot testament to everything cheesy about America. But itís something I will NEVER drive by without stopping at, itís just that fascinating. (If I lived there, I would, of course. But if Iím driving by once every 10 years, Iím stopping in.)

So how did a drug store in the middle of no where (and I mean no where!) happen to grow to 50,000 square foot and be able to capture 20,000 visitors A DAY in the summer, with annual sales of $11 million?

In the beginning, they became known for something. They were known for free ice water, in the middle of the depression. Sure, thatís something ANY store could have become known for, but they actually did it.

Then they capitalized on that and made sure EVERYONE within hundreds of miles knew about it through their roadsigns. Their annual roadsign budget is $300,000. They also have managed to get signs in other countries, even. Youíll see Wall Drug signs from Antarctica to London. Theyíre known for displaying how many miles it is to Wall Drug. Youíll get that inside joke when you start travelling down I-90 in South Dakota. You start seeing signs that say, ďWall Drug - 500 milesĒ and youíll see them CONSTANTLY so when you finally start approaching the town of Wall, youíre so freaking curious you just have to stop.

The owner, Teddy, says theyíre selling an experience. Plain and simple. That right there should be a lesson for ANY business that has a physical location and depends on the public at large for their business. If you arenít selling an experience, youíre leaving money on the table and much of your marketing budget could be used much more effectively.

Hereís another example. We have a marine dealer that sells boats in Aloha (town outside Portland, OR) called Harveyís Marine. Itís right outside Portland, about 20 miles to the west in the suburbs. Now, this marine store is about as far away from any recreational body of water of significance that you can possibly get in western Oregon. Plus, access to it isnít really all that simple from the main arteries going through Portland, OR. Iím not exactly sure how long itís been in business, but I remember it as a kid in 4th grade when I moved here from California and Iím 41 now. So, itís been around for a while.

Harvey's Marine - Statue of RabbitWhatís the secret of their success? I donít know about their business plan, but I do know they are a destination like none other. This is what you see when you drive by it, from the major thoroughfare that passes right in front of the store. Thanks to google satellite maps, you can even get a peek at the top of Harveyís head from space.

The white spec at the end of the red line that Iíve drawn is his head. You can see itís even taller than the roof of the building itís next to and the building is very tall. (BTW: In case you are mistaking the solid green area below the building for water, itís not. Itís a big green field of grass.)

I canít know this for sure, but my guess is, if they hadnít become an icon around here because of the big Harvey rabbit, they might not still be going strong after all these years.

Oh, they donít just have a big rabbit. They also use it. Each year they dress it for the different holidays. Itís sometimes very hilarious but more to the point, itís not a static fixture. Itís dynamic and always creating a remarkable image in the minds of the local populace. I canít tell you the location of ANY other marine store and weíve got plenty of them in the Portland metro area. But I could give you detailed directions to this store and I donít even live near it any more. (I live about 45 minutes a way now on the other side of Portland.)

There was a guy in southern CA that had been in the news about a year ago because he couldnít find a way to get rid of his penny collection. No one wanted that many pennies. Even banks were turning him down. He had an entire garage full of boxes packed with pennies. They were stacked to the ceiling. At the time, my collectibles company was being housed in a semi retail building where we had a manufacturing shop as well. But at the time, our manufacturing was being done somewhere else so I had some room to play with. I thought about calling the guy to offer to purchase his hoard of pennies for pennies on the dollar (pun intended) and as part of the deal, haul them away for him. Then just stack the pennies up in the shop area and rope it off and create a roadside attraction from it.

This would have been a great way to create a destination. When you send out a press release announcing your collectible manufacturing business, you get a ho hum response. If you put out a press release that highlights the fact that your collectibles shop has the largest stack of pennies on earth, on display in your showroom, you get a TON of press. Probably from all over the world, eventually.

If you own a furniture store, donít just be a furniture store. Create something that can ONLY be seen at your store and will place the memory of your store above all other furniture store experiences. Create the tallest stack of chairs on earth. You could do this over time and set up a ďchair stackingĒ cam on the internet. One by one, as you receive cheapo chairs (they could be the foldable type that cost you $7, whateverÖ) start welding them together or gluing them, or whatever is the safest method to attach them to one another and keep building it. Sooner or later, you will attract attention from far and wide and youíll completely blow away your competition, even though theyíre probably flushing $10K in radio advertising down the toilet each month compared to your relatively inexpensive and longer lasting method of gaining exposure.

The ideas are limitless. Just think of OVER THE TOP ideas. You can always scale them back as need be, but start with just the most incredible and wackiest idea you can come up with related somehow to what you sell or do and you WILL find something that will create remarkability related to your business.

Itís not WHAT youíre selling that matters. Itís the experience you create while selling it that will be the difference between you being just another XYZ store and something truly remarkable.

As the new tagline of my blog says, ďIf you ainít remarkable, why?Ē

May 1, 2005

Wrong Pope - Interesting Nonetheless

I did a little fun prognosticating on who the new Pope would be a few days before enclave started. I was predicting Bishop Tettamanz’ because of his “Olive” connection. If you haven’t already read about it.. read this page on the prophecy of Malachy and what he says about this new Pope (which he said hundreds of years ago.) He also predicted something about the previous pope (John Paul II) that was amazing which was related to eclipses.

Anyway, I was obviously wrong in my prediction.

Here’s some more reading. VERY interesting stuff.