Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Giving & Capitalism

Last year I wrote about a friend who was trying to raise money for a family member as a great act of charitable service. I thought about the situation and wrote the following:

I’ve been thinking recently about the idea and subsequent practice of giving money as a gift. I also have been thinking a lot about the practice of “raising money” for charity or a “good cause.” I thought I'd take a minute to share some thoughts with the community of producers.

It seems self-evident to me that giving money and raising money can be good practices. Of course both are simply activities or strategies for accomplishing some end. Means to an end can be either good or bad depending on the principle basis of the action. If divorced from the context of principle, means can never justify the ends nor can ends ever justify the means.

In the consumer condition, the world in which we all live (even if we’ve shifted paradigms because the world we live in, among and around has not), ideas of money and wealth are corrupted by the notion of scarcity. It is within this context that the desire to give what is lacking (a good desire and the root of production) is corrupted. The desire is too often divorced from the actual creation of value for another (which is always subjective) and is replaced by the creation of value for self. This of course is fine if it is recognized for what it is, consumption.

Let me illustrate with a mildly fictitious example. My mother has been poor (according to possession of material things) for most of her life. When I became “rich” I wanted to immediately help those close to me. Near the first on my list was my mother. Simply stated, I wanted to use my access to money and material resources to “make her life better.” I wanted to do things in a dramatic way, to “make a paradigm shift possible” for her and to “give her what she wanted”—or at least what she “needed.”

It is obvious, when one considers my intentions rationally and non-emotionally, that my entire context is corrupted by scarcity. If I were to persist in my efforts in the illustration above, I would have only contributed to the destructive nature of the consumer condition (which would have been quite the opposite of what I was intending). The mental paradigm shift experienced constantly by producers is often overpowered by the habits of emotional response to scarcity. It takes time and discipline to overcome these scarcity demons or devils as Les would call them.

Since it is Christmas time, a time full of emotion—generally speaking, I would like to take my fictitious example and do a short analysis to demonstrate just how destructive my subsequent actions could likely have been.

Let’s revisit the illustration point by point. My mother has been poor (according to possession of material things) for most of her life. Why? The physical condition of our life is the consequence of our ideas and actins; in other words, to reference Napoleon Hill, we tend to attract the material equivalent of our habits of thought. In brief, my mother has been materially poor over the course of her life for a reason. The universe is governed by law, and her condition is a result of law, not chance. The fundamental assumption of “do gooders” is that if they can change the current situation by giving their loved ones a chance, things will then change. Of course this is nonsense since gambling (the giving of chances) violates principle. Gambling is based upon a number of false maxims, the first and foremost of which is the idea of something for nothing. The only way I can ever help my mother, in my fictitious example, is to assist her in her own efforts to change her mental context, for that is the cause (creator) of her physical reality.

Now let’s discuss the next point of the illustration. When I became “rich” I wanted to immediately help those close to me. This is a great intent and the true motivation of a producer; it is the desire to create more value than is consumed by self. On a side note, this desire—when viewed from God’s perspective—is impossible because by accomplishing that desire in “this world” we receive more than we ever give; therefore, we will always be “unprofitable servants” (another discussion for another time and place).

Let’s revisit another point. Near the first on my list was my mother. Helping family and friends is among the most noble of desires; however, it is also a trigger to the emotional bad habits we must struggle to escape in order to accomplish our own paradigm shift from consumer to producer. Therefore, acting on such desires requires a double dose of caution and deliberateness to ensure that we are not using our emotional desire as a pretext for excusing our own violation of principle. Violating principle corrupts the context of our giving and becomes a starting point for future excuses for regressing into the mentality of a consumer in scarcity. Consider this as a subtle warning to all of us so-called “do-gooders” in the revolution.

Next point. I wanted to use my access to money and material resources to “make her life better.” There are two problems to grapple with in this statement. First, since it is my want, the value created is actually for me! This is important. Often we want to "do good to others"; and in the process of doing good, we judge what they "should value" rather than what they demonstrate, through their own choice, that they do in fact value. My want in this case would be tyrannical, even if it looks benevolent. Furthermore, it is impossible to "make" anyone's life better. It is only possible to offer value in exchange for value. If the exchange is a "free" exchange, the resulting "better life" will not be made solely by one party of the exchange; rather, it will be the mutual cooperation of all parties involved. Therefore, a more healthy way to conceptualize the desire to "make life better" for loved ones would be to "offer service to make a better life possible." Such offers should be given freely (this means without coercion).

Let’s revisit another point. I wanted to do things in a dramatic way to "make a paradigm shift possible" and to "give her what she wanted”--or at least what she “needed." There are a series of problems with this intention. First, it is again my "want" that would be governing; so the result, even if it is successful, would be consumption. Secondly, a paradigm shift would require the other party to freely desire the same change. Additionally, it is the other party who is always the best, most important judge of what and how to obtain what is wanted and needed for themselves. The socialist disagrees and uses arguments that amount to essentially nothing more than, "but I know better what is good for them." Producers, beware of such thoughts.

To summarize the points of my illustration, let me remind all producers that money has no intrinsic value. If giving money as a gift, one should first consider what is the expected utility associated with the gift; in other words, what is it that can be done with the money by the person receiving it. If you want to give money to a family so they can buy siding for their new home, what would you do if they took the money and went to the race track instead? Wouldn't it be evident that the recipients’ value choice, if allowed to freely be exercised, would frustrate the effort of the giver? If that is the case, why not arrange with the service provider, the actual creator of the direct value—the siding man, to have the siding work done? Giving money to the one in need only ensures that a) the receiver will continue to make poor choices with resources since no substantive change in thought has occurred or b) the giver will force the "poor unfortunate party," through coercion of one kind or another, to use the money for that which the giver requires. This is a dangerous and often surprisingly depressive pattern of gift giving.

There is also danger in raising money (freely donated) for charity. It is appropriate to give with strings attached. Some argue it is more virtuous to give with no strings but such action would be deception. The "no strings" mentality is only right if by no strings one means no coercion or deception. Strings - there must be - unless we want to admit it is the giver’s job to grant the wrong doers, the evil doers and the desperate among us the drug of choice to further destroy their lives. Anyone raising money for a cause has an obligation to openly and directly define the strings attached. If not, free exchange is not being advocated and the charitable giving only facilitates the benevolent charity of the kind tyrant. God does not work this way neither should his children.

In a nutshell, money will not solve problems. The only way to truly bless the life of another is to work with them by affecting their life substantively in the Human Life Value category. Beware of the false deception that one can buy happiness, peace and prosperity—or anything else in this world—for money. It is a lie. It is destructive. It can undue your producer paradigm and result in further destruction of the world around you.

When giving a gift, the way to ensure value production is to involve the recipient in a principled path to a new life. This takes patience, meekness and long suffering. I invite you to consider 1 Corinthians 13 where the apostle Paul defines charity. Having charity is not simply giving; charity involves giving in the context of principle. Giving all your goods to feed the poor does not ensure charity. Charity includes realizing none of your goods have any intrinsic value and that real giving is using your goods to incentivize new thoughts, choices and actions. Honest gift giving must be done in a context of respect, love and, most importantly, freedom—the freedom of choice.

The challenge for producers is to learn how to really give—not to avoid giving and not to give mindlessly, but to really give. Real gift giving doesn't "look as nice" in the eyes of the world. Receiving the judgment of the world is its own reward, a reward we consume on our own. To produce, to be true disciples of the Lord and followers of the Eternal laws that govern, we must look forward with real charity and rely upon the judgments of God. God’s judgments are just and true. There is no legitimate way to give money or raise money pretending away any of this context.

I appreciate all the good that producers are doing in the world. It is my constant invitation to others and to my own self that we question our assumptions and ensure that when we "give our lives" we are really giving through free exchange and not as a tyrant demanding the result of virtue because we intended well.

The Lord himself gives the gift of eternal life and the opportunity of exaltation freely to all men; however, He does not try to "make our lives" better. He gently beckons each of us to come unto Him. His constant invitation is powerful to the honest in heart. No matter the pain of rejection, the cost of patience and long suffering he freely chooses to bare, his arms are outstretched still. He waits on those he loves. That we too may wait on those we love and allow them the real blessing of choosing wisely is my sincere desire at this special holiday season and always.

Merry Christmas,

The Free Capitalist

Friday, December 21, 2007

Living the Hero's Life

Many of us admire heroes from a distance; yet, we often fail to make the choice to live the hero’s life. There is no modesty in failing to take on the personal mantel of being a hero in your world. The challenge for most of us is that we simply fail to grasp the simple concept that choosing to "be a hero" is the way to change the world. The individual who grasps this concept can live the life of a hero, starting today!

I’m convinced that each human being, even the very simple, wants to live a life that matters. I would argue herein lies the truth regarding all human beings’ cravings for the feeling of importance. Individual heroes are our minds projection of our own personal desire for living a life we love. It is for this reason we should cultivate in our own minds a respect for our own heroes, even heroes of many different kinds.

Most of us fail to realize that we can cultivate the life of a hero in our own daily choices. Through our own observation and study of those in the world who have gone before us in time and/or accomplishment, we are able to get in touch with a personal and valuable portion of our own consciousness. Or to say it more simply, by choosing heroes for ourselves -- men and women we deliberately choose to admire and whose lives and accomplishments we purposefully reflect upon -- we find ourselves able to recognize the power of a hero inside ourselves.

The realization in the mind of a man or woman that he or she can actually be a hero to themselves, to their loved ones, and to those around them - is a realization that gives the mind and heart a source of courage, a reservoir of faith and hope, and an example of how to face the challenges of life.

“Ye Are Gods”

The Lord says he created man to act for himself rather than to be acted upon. To me this means the difference between living life as a hero and living life as a victim. More poignantly, it is the difference between living life as a god and living life as a devil. When the Savior was accused of blasphemy for proclaiming himself the Son of God, he responded:

Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. (King James Version, John 10: 34-37)

All men are the children of God; yet, the devil would like all men to be miserable, to forget their royal heritage and to live life as a thing acted upon rather than as one that with courage and deliberateness makes the world a better place. Do we do the works of God? Do we choose liberty and life, or captivity and death?

An Example: 5 Minutes that Changed My Life Forever

There is a difference between one who acts and one who is acted upon. This difference begins with perception. A few years ago I was in a business meeting with three of my top executives. We were having an unplanned meeting to “deal with” some of the pressing business issues of the day. It dawned on me that none of us had spent any time deliberately preparing for our discussion.

I noticed that we were being acted upon by the pressure of expectations outside ourselves, a pattern to which we had become habitually addicted. This is how a person assents to perpetual victimhood.

Then, as I pondered our situation, an idea came to my mind and I said to each of my associates there in that meeting: “I’d like to take exactly five minutes to focus in complete silence on this one very specific issue.”

I asked each executive to write down any ideas that came to mind while we pondered that one simple matter -- very deliberately, together and in silence. The challenge I issued to them was to think of a solution, or more than one if possible, to this very specific problem our company was facing. I asked them: “If this challenge was left entirely up to you, what would you do?”

I asked them to consider all possibilities, no matter how bold. Once I confirmed that each understood, I looked at the clock and said: “Okay, five minutes; please don’t make a sound.”

The seconds began ticking by. I’m not sure much happened in the first minute or two, other than three grown men looking occasionally at each other -- acknowledging the oddity of the moment. After about two or three minutes, one of the men began to jot down an idea. A few seconds later another started to write. By the time there was only thirty seconds left, we were all writing quickly. At the end of five minutes, we all had a bright look on each of our faces. The feeling in the room was much different than the pressure felt just five minutes earlier. I asked each man to share his ideas. One at a time they began to do so.

By the time each of us had finished sharing our ideas, the power of deliberateness was evident. The amazing reality was that in just five minutes of deliberateness we did more thinking, more planning and more effective “acting” in our stewardships than we had done in months of discussion on that one issue. That simple five minute experiment has changed my life forever.

An Example: Walking Down the Middle of a Busy Street

On another occasion I learned more about the power of deliberateness, and of choosing the hero’s life, by walking down the double yellow line the in the center of a busy downtown street.

I had been given the difficult church assignment to work with two single women within our congregation. They were both single mothers who didn’t regularly attend meetings, lived in very poor conditions and didn’t like the idea of receiving assistance from anyone in the church.

For months I struggled with my assignment. It was difficult to even obtain their phone numbers. I prayed about my assignment and made token efforts semi-regularly to reach out to them. Whenever I reached out my efforts were easily and quickly dismissed. It had been nearly six months into the assignment when I realized very clearly that I was failing to make any difference in the lives of these two women whatsoever.

I felt bad about the situation. I did not know what to do. I attempted to justify myself by remembering each of the times I had “tried” to reach out but had been rebuffed; however, nothing seemed to quench the gnawing within me. I didn't realize then that there was an external force inviting me to get out of my own victim story and write a new chapter - the hero’s life.

One day as I sat in my office, a very strange thing happened. Unannounced and out of the blue, both women came into my office at the same time asking to see me. My secretary came in to interrupt my schedule and asked, assuming I would say no, if I would see these two young women.

I was a bit surprised to see them, to say the least. As each of them sat across from my desk, the idea struck me how odd it was to have both sisters, who I had been so concerned over but had felt so helpless to affect, now sitting directly in front of me together.

They proceeded to explain that due to some unforeseen circumstances they were both facing a situation where they would soon be homeless. As a matter of fact, one of them was required to be out of her house that very day. They had successfully secured a new apartment together, but it was in a complete mess. The new apartment needed cleaning and required some minor repairs. In addition, they had no help for the move. They had no pickups, no friends to assist and no plans for making the move happen. They were now here in my office asking for my help.

I agreed to help but explained that since it was the middle of the work day and I had many responsibilities to resolve it would be several hours before I could arrive. I envisioned myself showing up, helping load boxes etc., but really nothing more. They both quietly expressed understanding that I was busy. They expressed appreciation that I would take the time to come by and help. They smiled briefly and then politely left my office.

After they were gone, I sat pondering the situation. Certainly, I thought to myself, I want to help them, but I have a huge workload today. No one would expect me to drop everything.

I thought it silly for these two women to expect to move so quickly with so little planning. They explained it wasn’t their fault; it was unanticipated, but I had heard such excuses many times before. I’m sure the thought “an emergency in your life doesn’t require an emergency in mine” might have gone through my mind.

As I sat justifying to myself that there was nothing else I could do, a feeling deep inside again started to gnaw at my core. The feeling was so direct and poignant that I could not deny it. I knew for certain that all my rationalizations meant nothing. I knew I had been praying for months for a way to reach out to each of these women; and for months the only thing preventing me from “making the world a better place” for them and myself was my own lame pattern of excuses.

I acknowledged to myself that I was not acting like a hero, and I knew it. I also knew that I was of no matter in this situation to these women or to the Lord; I had not chosen to be a significant source for good in the situation. The more powerfully I went over this acknowledgment in my mind the more powerfully I felt inspired to do something about it.

I suppose it had been fifteen minutes since I had escorted the young women from my office. I sat by myself in silence, tortured by the idea that I had failed; that there was no excuse for the poor choice I had made.

I began asking myself what I could do. I started to ask very specific questions about the possibilities rather than focusing on rationalizations for the impossible. I pondered and then got on my knees and prayed. I knew I must do something. The idea then came to my mind that I must act very deliberately. I felt certain my failure to deliberately chart a course forward was the same as deliberately charting a course to nowhere; therefore, I started asking myself what I could deliberately do to rectify this situation. I committed to myself to do something right then, without delay.

I had no way to reach either woman. This was a time before cell phones were common. They had errands to run and were planning to meet me back at the home where the move was to take place at 5:30 p.m. that evening. At that point in time, it was only noon. I knew there was no way that I could wait five hours to do something. Or better stated, I knew I could make a difference and that I would not wait to do it.

As I sat pondering, a very strange idea came to my mind. It was as if a voice said to me, “Okay, if you want to act deliberately, go walk down the middle of the street.” I’m not kidding. That is the idea that came into my mind very directly. At first I chuckled. I wondered if the source hadn’t been my own frustration and as an expression of that frustration I was now telling myself to go “play in the middle of the highway.” However, I knew the source of the idea and knew that I could not deny it. I knew that I was prepared to act and was going to act; so, I got up from my office chair immediately and headed out the door.

On my way out of the office my secretary, surprised to see me heading out of the office so directly, asked me where I was going. Not thinking how strange it would sound I simply replied: “I’m going to go walk down the middle of the street.” This I’m sure sounded alarming.

My secretary got up and started following me out the building. As I made my way quickly down the stairs and outside to the sidewalk, he again asked what I was doing. I looked out at the double yellow center line in the center of road. I remember thinking to myself that this was a bit crazy and wondering what I hoped to accomplish. I turned to my secretary and explained that I was going to help the two women that I had mistakenly dismissed earlier. I told him the only way I could change what I did was to take deliberate action. I’m not sure how convincing I sounded, but I took off for the center of the road.

When I reached the double yellow line, I decided to start walking west. My secretary walked with me (staying on the sidewalk, paralleling my course). I stopped responding to his questions and just kept walking down the center of the road paying close attention and keeping my feet, one step after the other on the double yellow line. I soon approached a busy intersection controlled by a traffic light. I paused, wondering to myself how much danger I was really willing to put myself in, in order to keep "walking the line.”

As I stood there a bit concerned, wondering how this action was going to make a difference, a car came turning the corner and about ran me over. Of course I couldn’t complain since I was the one standing in the middle of the road. The car swerved to avoid hitting me. Noticing who I was, the driver pulled over to the side of the road. To my great astonishment, inside the car were the two women I was looking for.

The woman in the passenger side rolled down her window and with a somewhat astonished look on her face asked what I was doing walking down the middle of the road. I responded by telling them that I had been inspired to do so; that it was the only way I was going to be able to reach them; that I had made a mistake earlier, and I wanted to take charge of getting them moved, starting that very minute. The entire story is too long to tell; but suffice it to say, the mood between the three of us changed dramatically. We all recognized in that moment, that something was much different than only a short time before.

I went to work. I called over 25 men in the middle of the day without any warning. I simply requested in a rather forceful way that they all meet me with boxes, trucks, hand-trucks, dollies, etc. I only reached a few of the men at home; for the rest I left messages. On each of their answering machines I left a very deliberate and determined message. I had no idea how many would show up. For some reason I had no doubt that I could orchestrate and accomplish this task; but to tell the truth, I had no idea what I was about to witness.

I arrived at the house to help with the move (ironically my soon to be wife was with me that day, but that is another story). At first we were the only ones there; not even the two women who needed the help were present to witness the miracle that was about to take place. After a few short minutes, men and women began to arrive from all directions.

Almost everyone that I had called came to help, in addition to many others who had received word of the project. In what must have been less than 30 minutes, we had so much help I couldn’t count everyone. We had trucks, boxes and lots of hands. Literally, in just a few hours, we had the entire home packed and moved as well as having cleaned and made the needed repairs to the new apartment.

I had spent almost the entire time simply directing traffic so to speak. I had never before witnessed such an effective and heartfelt response to any similar situation. The people who showed up to help had a unique spirit about them, and the work was accomplished almost as a byproduct. When the two women finally arrived to help get the move started they were astonished, to say the least, to discover all the work had already been completed. They were moved, and everything was already accomplished.

I remember a brief moment, while standing in the middle of the living room in the center of traffic watching all the work being done under my basic direction throughout the house. At that moment the feelings I had were the feelings of a hero. Not a hero in the sense of being recognized by others as such, but a hero in my own mind. I knew that I had finally stepped up to the plate and had accomplished something worthwhile.

Heroes: The Power of Being Deliberate

There is a power that comes with deliberateness. In both of my stories, which were actual occurrences in my life, small but significant moments, I learned something amazingly powerful. I learned something of the difference between acting and being acted upon. I felt the difference between being a victim of circumstance and a hero who had chosen to act deliberately. In those minutes, a brief glance through the mundane in life, I knew that I had chosen to be an agent, a hero and even a god.

Life is about finding importance and making a difference. The answer to our search is unique for each of us, as unique as the individual situations and challenges we face each day. I have learned through my own experience something of the sacred and amazing possibilities that lay at the core of why each of us is here on the earth. Through many small moments, like the two experiences I’ve shared, I have come to know that what I accomplish as a result of being very deliberate in my efforts has enabled me to tap into the power of a hero, which is literally the power to change the world.

I am convinced that within the immediate grasp of anyone reading this essay, is the possible choice of living the hero’s life, the choice of being gods -- even the children of God. But it is a choice, and we must each individually decide if we are seriously willing to live lives we love. The individual who grasps this concept can live the life of a hero, starting today!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Walking Through the Looking Glass

What's the difference between failure and prosperity? How can you be sure you are headed in the "right" direction in life? Is it even possible to chart a course to live a prosperous life? Is it just an age-old gimmick to trick the naïve and unsuspecting entrepreneur into believing that the American dream is still a possibility? Can an honest person actually make it "big" in the business world?

To anyone with any substantial ambition whatsoever, these questions-and many related to them-are very important. To me, it has been very surprising indeed how I have come to learn the answers to these questions over the last few years.

Let me just give you a glimpse of an incredible journey. It's a journey made possible only by my own choice to accept the possibilities of walking through the looking glass.

Six years ago I was making well over six figures and, given the current business trends of the day, headed down the fast track to what most around me considered wealth and prosperity. Five years ago I was filing for federal bankruptcy protection and defaulting on almost $1,000,000 of debt. Four years ago, having given up all entrepreneurial ambitions and having convinced myself that "capitalism was evil" and that there was no place in the modern world for an honest entrepreneur, I was working as a telemarketer and giving plasma twice a week (along with my wife) just to have "enough money" to pay the bills. Three years ago I had surprisingly discovered a path to earn sufficient income, independent of a typical job, to ensure that I would almost certainly never "need" another paycheck again. Two years ago I had successfully generated over $1 million in revenue and had paid back all those whose debts I had previously legally discharged through bankruptcy (plus an additional 6 percent interest for good measure). One year ago I had just completed my best business year ever with over $110 million in revenue!

As you can tell, it has been no slow moving experience these past few years. Much has changed for my family and me. I have helped thousands of people improve their lives. I have toured the country speaking in a dozen major cities helping people change their basic understanding of prosperity and the path to it. In the process I have helped create at least a couple dozen millionaires. I have helped an unknown number of people successfully get "out of the rat race" through a curriculum I developed (which, by the way, takes less than a year to complete).

I have been blessed beyond measure and life continues to be full of opportunity. I now understand why Robert Kiyosaki described his life changing experience, in regards to experiencing prosperity, using the following language. He wrote:

I had stepped through the looking glass and now could clearly see a new way of life. I began to cry, not with sadness, but with profound wonder at the perfection, bounty, and abundance that surrounded not just Kim and me . . . but all of us. Slowly, I realized that too much of the time my fear of not being enough or not having enough prevented my from allowing the abundance that life here on earth offers..I finally stepped through the looking glass, and fully understood my rich dad. 1

I too have learned that prosperity is not about some external event or some lucky opportunity. Prosperity is about a choice and the subsequent change that starts from within. It is literally like "walking through the looking glass" and seeing a world that so many people never see because of their own fears. I add my voice to those who have gone before me and say, "I too have walked through the looking glass and see a new way of life."

So what happened that enabled me to walk through the looking glass? Did I get lucky? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did I find a partner with a lot of money? No. None of these have anything to do with my success. The fact that I used to think in a way to even conceive such possible explanations for success is almost frightening to me.

Today, I am the host of my own national radio talk show, broadcast daily over the AM frequencies of Salt Lake City and across the world via the web at I introduce myself to the listeners as "The Free Capitalist." I say to my listeners every day, "Wake up; turn your brain on!" That is literally my formula for success.

When you hit the ground as hard as I did (going bankrupt and losing almost everything imaginable-houses, cars, money, business, friends, etc.) the best way to describe the result is, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Since that time, each day I started to wake up, turn my brain on, and get to work using the God given assets that each of us have been given.

I'm not sure if the timeline I've outlined for my journey is exact, but it is substantively accurate. It is certainly true that each year has brought new growth, new challenges, new accomplishments and new opportunities. Truthfully, I feel like I'm just getting started. I'm certain there exists a ton more to learn and discover, and I know there are many more exciting people to meet and associate with as I do that.

Nevertheless, when I look at my life today, in every regard I have a better grasp on prosperity than I have ever had. In a temporal sense I am light years beyond the day nearly six years ago when I was up late at night in my basement searching through the Internet for "angel investors," doing everything I could think of to find any possible solution to get the "money I needed" to get out of the deep financial hole I was in and to avoid bankruptcy.

Since that day I have successfully created, purchased, partnered with or acquired over 30 new businesses-which include a motion picture company, a gold and silver operation, multiple real estate companies, a restaurant franchise, a private university, a media company, and many others; but more importantly, I've also gone through a myriad personal changes along a road of struggle, growth, pain, frustration, and a few serious setbacks. I'm certain that this has been and will be no accident for any of us in the future.

Okay, but so what? You may be wondering why I have taken the time to outline this short list of key events in my life over the last six years. Well, my reasons definitely have nothing to do with the money, the temporal success, or the luxury life now holds. I could lose all that at any moment and as unfortunate, frustrating, and painful as that would be I would still have something that could never be taken away: my knowledge.

What I have learned through my journey is priceless to me. I have literally gained a treasure that is so powerful, so amazing, and so exciting that it is now my deepest desire to share it with those who might be looking for the same answers to the same questions that I once regularly asked-questions like those I started out with at the beginning of this essay. Why would I be so anxious to share? Well, the answer to that question is the reason I am writing this essay today.

I am convinced that no matter who you are and no matter how "rich" or "poor" you may feel at this moment in time, the message of this short essay can quite literally change your life.

If you are headed in the wrong direction, it will give you what you need to turn your life around. If you are headed in the right direction but want to do so with more conviction, more power, more speed, and more competence, it will give you that too!

Are you willing to believe that this kind of change is possible? Even if you don't believe it yet-even if you can only "wish" what I'm saying is possible (since you've taken the time to read this far), all I ask of you at this point is to give me a chance to share with you a formula for prosperity I did not invent but have discovered. It is an ancient formula and one that you can verify for yourself. You do not need to trust me or any other "guru" to get ahead; all you need to do is to "wake up" for a few minutes and "turn your brain on." If you'll do this, I promise that what I'm going to share with you will have an amazing influence on your life, starting right now.

How Are Your Ideas Working for You?

One of my favorite sayings today is something that just popped into my mind one day and has stuck with me ever since. I have no idea if anyone else has said it. It goes like this, "Some things are true whether you believe them or not." That statement is where the journey begins. You must allow your mind to ponder the possibility that what I'm about to share with you is true. It is up to you to ultimately judge for yourself. Your judgment will not change the truthfulness of what I say one-way or the other; however, it will change the way you respond to my message and what happens in your life as a result.

Ideas have consequences. This is a simple yet profound truth. The way you think, the ideas you hold in your mind, are much more powerful than you've probably been taught to imagine. They determine whether or not you live in the Consumer Condition™ or the Producer Paradigm™; but, I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the late 1990s, I considered myself "on top of the world." As the president of a small Internet company (one I built along with a few partners), I thought I was at the helm of a strong, vibrant and growing enterprise. This company was "my ship" and from all appearances it was about "to come in."

It was during the heat of the "dot-com" boom. I was optimistic that if things kept going the way they appeared to be going it looked like I was going to be super rich. Everyone around me was telling me about their excitement and optimism.

Interestingly enough, it wasn't the fact that I was going to be rich that excited me; rather, it was the feeling of having a lot of money that gave me confidence in the future. In my mind, at the time, the idea of making a lot of money meant that I would be secure. Security is something that I had been looking for in my business life for quite some time. "Finally," I thought to myself, "I am at the right place at the right time."

Little did I know then that my future was indeed certain. Certainty and its attendant destination, however, was something I was completely blind to. As anyone familiar with the "ancient principles of prosperity" can see from what I've shared thus far regarding my thought pattern six years ago, there is sufficient evidence to know for certain that regardless of the way it happened there was no way possible for me to avoid my worst fear. Failure!

Read back through what I've explained already about my thoughts at the time and you can find at least three "absolute" and "objective" reasons why I was most certainly headed towards failure. Indeed-as surprising as it was to me at the time-by the end of the year 2000, I was broke, and it was ugly!

Oh, I could tell you a long story about how it came about. We could talk about the dot-com bubble and how it burst. We could talk of politics and how I should have been more shrewd in how I used the business to support my own political initiatives. We could even talk about how I had inadvertently run astray of the complex and nuanced details of State securities laws. All of these topics would be suitable and fertile ground for the excuses of a "well intentioned" businessman, who through no real "fault of his own," happened to be in just the "wrong place at the wrong time;" however, such excuses are not the truth.

We are all where we are in life because of the way we think! This one very sharp truth is like a double edge sword. Once we accept it, embrace it, and wield it, we can powerfully create a life we love; however, until then, it is this truth that cuts deeply and often appears so frightening that we turn away our glance and pretend somehow, someway the laws of the universe might change just "for me" and make it possible to succeed some other way.

The Repository of Ancient Truth

One of the things I did as I began to "wake up" each day was to read. I can't fully explain it, but I started to read like it was an obsession. The first book I remember reading during that time was Napoleon Hill's Master Key to Riches. I was trying to come to terms with the idea he calls definite major purpose. This book was my first exposure to Carnegie's fundamental axioms, one of which is that "A man's reading program should be as carefully planned as his daily diet, for that too is food, without which he cannot grow mentally." 2

So, I read. I read diligently. While reading Hill's discussion on the Founding Fathers of the United States and the mastermind principle, I was reminded of my association with a mentor in my past who had taught me about American history from the curriculum of Dr. W. Cleon Skousen. I started to re-read great books dealing with American history, such as The Making of America and The 5,000 Year Leap.

Then a friend referred me to read Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad; it was like water to a thirsting man. I read Norman Vincent Peale, Stephen Covey, and even Donald Trump. I read Bastiat, Friedman, and Ayn Rand. I could go on and on; I have now read hundreds of books since that period of time. Notably, there has been an interesting pattern that has developed in my reading.

Years ago I noticed three basic categories in my reading curriculum. First, I began reading books that could be categorized as personal improvement books-which essentially taught the concept of self-reliance. Second, I started reading books on economics and finance that related to economic independence. Finally, I began reading books dealing with history, politics and the culture of Western Civilization (this last category dealt primary with questions of politics and liberty).

It was through this experience I learned for myself that there are great treasures stored in the books and libraries of the world. Do you have a personal library?

The ironic reality is that the ancient truths, which can be discovered by studying the permanent and perennial issues with which all men of all time have grappled, can be had for only a few dollars at a time simply by selectively purchasing a few of the best books ever written.

The One Question

Deep within the souls of all men stirs one eternal question. How each of us individually answers this question determines everything. It is in fact the question of life. It is not complex, sophisticated, or difficult to understand; yet, it is not often discovered by the conscious mind. Even the so-called intellectuals are prone to overlook the question as they seek to know the mysteries of life. In its most abbreviated form the question of life is simply, "Will I choose to be free?"

For millennia before the foundations of the world and continuing still today, the battle for the "Eternal Cause of Liberty" has been waging between those who answer this one question in the affirmative and those who do not. The power of a man's mind allows him to penetrate the obscurity of ignorance and question the state of the world in which he finds himself. Darkness, doubt, fear and despair-though the common experience for billions who have lived and are now living on the Earth-are not the necessary or natural conditions of man. These are instead the result of choice, and the result of man's choice either tends toward devastating slumber or awakening greatness-toward captivity and death or liberty and life.

The Two Paradigms

Either subconsciously or consciously, we are each viewing the world through one of two lenses. Since the era of the Great Depression most people on the planet have been trained, taught, and educated to see the world as a place of scarcity-a place where there is never enough time, never enough money, never enough respect, never enough opportunity, etc. This paradigm of scarcity clouds our thinking and becomes our default program for finding fault, being cynical, and for living lives of quiet desperation.

There is another paradigm that is within the choice of all. It is a way of seeing the world and life for its beauty and opportunities, for seeing that what the "mind can conceive it can achieve," and for seeing greatness in the noble acts of men and the hero inside your own soul.

Each of us chooses the perspective with which we approach the struggle for liberty and freedom. Those who choose to do so from a paradigm of scarcity become like "starving dogs fighting over meatless bones" while those who choose the paradigm of abundance throw off the victim language and the helpless thoughts of the prisoner; and they begin to see the end from the beginning. Those who see in abundance know that life is more than the false constructs and fake allurements of dialectical materialism. Those who choose to see in abundance throw off the habit of living constantly with a "fear of loss" and instead make a deliberate and concentrated effort to develop a faith in true principles.

The 13 Principles of Prosperity

In all my reading, one of the most enlightening ideas I came across was that principles govern. Alexander Hamilton put it best in Federalist #31 when in 1778 he wrote:

In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths or first principles upon which all subsequent reasonings must depend. These contain an internal evidence, which antecedent to all reflection or combination commands the assent of the mind . . . and [are] so obvious in themselves, and so agreeable to the natural and unsophisticated dictates of common sense, that they challenge the assent of a sound and unbiased mind, with a degree of force and conviction almost equally irresistible. 3

It was when I learned this fundamental truth that I began searching the historical records for what Thomas Jefferson often referred to as the "ancient principles." These are the principles which the Founding Fathers recognized as the key ingredient to a great society. They had studied the histories of all great civilizations and had realized that individuals and nations prospered according to the degree to which they adhered to certain "ancient truths."

When I learned this I too set out to make a short catalog or list of these basic principles of prosperity. There are 13 of these principles that if studied, understood, and applied can change life.

Prosperity is not about a new business idea, some trick or technique, or going to school to learn some new process or approach. These are all effective or ineffective based upon the application of timeless principles.

There are many truths relating to the quest for an ideal life. In fact, I suppose that each truth has an unlimited number of applications. Nevertheless, I have learned for myself that if a person truly desires to live the abundant life-to live with freedom and prosperity-all he needs to do is learn and apply these 13 Principles.

I teach a full semester class on each of these principles at American Founders University because there is much to learn. As a basic introduction, I'll provide a brief list.

Principle 1: God is the author of prosperity

Principle 2: Faith begins with self-interest

Principle 3: Agency implies stewardship

Principle 4: Perspective determines action

Principle 5: People are assets

Principle 6: Human life value is the source and creator of all property value

Principle 7: Dollars follow value

Principle 8: Exchange creates wealth

Principle 9: Profit is the tool of validation

Principle 10: Productivity is the standard

Principle 11: Force destroys freedom and prosperity

Principle 12: Collective action has no unique moral authority

Principle 13: Personal liberty requires private property

The Life Worth Loving

In Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged the protagonist in a moment of great climax boldly declares: "I am the man who loves his life." One of my dearest friends made this same declaration to the world every day. At the core of the declaration is a truth beyond the obvious.

The history of mankind is the history of the struggle between the Producer (the man who chooses liberty, lives in abundance, has faith in principle, creates more value in the world than he consumes and values each individual life - including his own) and the Consumer (the man who does not choose liberty, lives in scarcity, wrestles constantly with a pernicious fear of loosing, consumes more value in the world than he produces and deep inside loathes himself and values only the collective).

The societies that have produced the happiest men, the highest standards of living and the greatest advances have been those where the power of the collective (government, state, tribe, or gang) was limited and the individual was given freedom of independent action. As Ayn Rand has explained:

While men are still pondering upon the causes of the rise and fall of civilizations, every page of history cries to us that there is but one source of progress: Individual Man in independent action. Collectivism is the ancient principle of savagery. A savage's whole existence is ruled by the leaders of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men. 4

That is ultimately the lesson I learned. I have always held deep within me a desire for freedom, for liberty, and for the opportunity to triumph. Living in a world where I had been trained, taught, and educated to think like a victim and act like a slave produced a reality that had become a literal prison to me; but when I began to wake up, to turn my brain on, and to act with faith in true principles, I discovered the world on the other side of the looking glass-a world that is invisible to those who constantly live in fear and regularly resist the truths I've described.

Today, as I have learned the virtues of seeing prosperity from a new perspective, I have new answers to old questions.

* What's the difference between failure and prosperity? It is one choice.

* How can you be sure you are headed in the "right" direction? Live by principle.

* Is it even possible to chart a course to live the abundant and prosperous life? Yes.

* Is it just an age-old gimmick to trick the naïve and unsuspecting entrepreneur into believing that the American dream is still a possibility? No.

* Can an honest person actually make it "big" in the business world? Yes.

I believe because I have learned for myself that within the power of each man and woman is the ability to live a life worth loving, to live a life of principle full of abundance and prosperity.

I believe because I have learned for myself that there is no justification for living a life of quiet desperation.

I believe because I have learned for myself that we each write the story of our own life through action and deed, and I believe that our role in that story as either a hero or a victim is ours for the choosing-to write each day.

I believe each person thus informed and empowered has the choice of walking through the looking glass.

Those who make this choice will stand united in a common Cause with a mighty force of individual free men and women who boldly proclaim, "In the name of Liberty, we will step forward, we will live lives we love, and we will prosper!"


Works Cited

1. Kiyosaki, Robert T. Rich Dad's Retire Young, Retire Rich. New York: Warner Business Books, 2002. 333.

2. Hill, Napoleon. The Master-Key To Riches. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. 97.

3. Hamilton, Alexander, Jay, John, and Madison, James. The Federalist Papers. New York: Bantam Dell, 1982. 176.

4. Rand, Ayn. "The Only Path to Tomorrow." Readers Digest January 1944: 88-90.