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Business Writing Made Simple
by On March 28, 2008

Ken BudkaOne of my favorite analogies for effective business writing is the clear window. Below are five simple guidelines to ensure your written communication is effective.

Write the Way You Talk

Imagine your reader is looking through your words, not at your words, for the meaning beyond the text. Whenever you use ultramajestic, high-fallutin, quadrasyllabic words, you force the reader to look at the words, often stopping to comprehend their meaning. When this happens, the message is clouded and even lost. The beauty of short, simple words is they speak clearly and in language that is typically the way you would talk in person. Write the way you talk. Great business writing means the reader imagines your face and hears your voice as they read, without you actually being in the room with them.

Know Your Purpose

One of the key areas many people miss when writing is the purpose. Why are you writing and what do you want your reader to do? Know your purpose. Could this issue be resolved in person or by phone? If not, spell out the purpose up front and again in the end. People will remember most what they read first and then last, making your openings and closing critical to the overall message. Open and close with something positive and specific. Even when you are upset or angry, find something positive to say such as, “thank you for taking a moment to review my note.” Please and thank you go a long way to getting what you want and help to build better relationships.

When your reader finishes reading your document, they should be able to summarize what it is about in one or two sentences. Granted there are exceptions to every rule, like reports, proposals, etc. Even in those instances when short and simple is not possible, clarity is king.

Focus on Your Reader

In most day-to-day writing, keep your reader in mind. There is a human being on the other end of the send button. Whenever you can, warm things up by being more personal. State the reader’s name in your opening and perhaps once more towards the end. Remind them it is you, talking to them through this written medium. Any time you can remind your reader of what’s in it for them and why they should respond, you are on the right track. Even in email, focus on your reader. Don’t get sloppy because “it’s only email”. Most of our business writing today is email, and every time you push the send button, you make another impression on your reader about how much you care. Use more “you” and “yours” instead of constantly “I” “me” “my”. Focus on your reader.

Format Matters

Keep in mind that people tend to make snap judgments about you after only a few seconds of looking at your written work. Layout, spelling, and grammar are important. When your reader opens your letter or reads your email, the very first impression is visual, not what you are saying. Use more white space and less text. Fewer words mean easier to read. Easier to read means more likely it will get read.

Two great emphasis tools are bullets and bold. Bullets because they summarize key points and are typically surrounded by more white space. Bold because it draws your reader’s eye. Use both sparingly to ensure their effectiveness.

Spell Check

Grammar and spelling are also important and are observed and recorded in the mind of your reader. Folks may differ in their opinions on the issue of speed vs. quality, but the point is, they can easily be corrected at the push of a button. Since we are talking about your business here, do your best to be professional. Attention to details is a cornerstone of every professional I know and is one area where you have tremendous influence.

To recap what we have considered so far:

– Write the way you talk, using short, simple words
– Know your purpose, state it up front and again in the end
– Focus on your reader and why they should care
– Layout is important, use more white space, less text
– Use bullets and bold for emphasis, but use sparingly
– Run spell check

In the end, you are investing time in writing because you want something from your reader. Usually it is to clarify details, take some action, be informed, feel good, be reminded, etc. Be clear. Be specific. Be considerate of your reader and their time. When you focus on your reader, they will appreciate how good it feels to work with a true professional and hopefully respond in kind.

Be Free!

Ken Budka
Instructor

The Winners of the
by On March 27, 2008

Roger SeipThank you to everyone who entered our contest. We had great submission to the most popular question in America, “How are you doing?” If you missed the deadline for entering, I highly recommend you take a look at the answers we received. Our Blog readers are a very creative and positive group of people!

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for, the Winners!!

  • 1st Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Sweatshirt:
    Bobkat’s whose response was:
    “Fabulantastic!”
    Anytime you make up a new word I love it
  • 2nd Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Water Bottle
    Bill Crane whose, sheer boldness of his response nabbed him a prize.
    “I am the one! Money Flows to Me Like an Un-Ending River!”
  • 3rd Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Mouse Pad
    Ana who answered:
    “I’m feeling like ME!”
    That’s all we can really ask for, isn’t it?

Congratulations to the winners. We will be contacting you by email to get your mailing address and send out your prizes.

Stay tuned exciting contests and prizes in the next few weeks.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
Instructor

The Winners of the
by On March 27, 2008

Roger SeipThank you to everyone who entered our contest. We had great submission to the most popular question in America, “How are you doing?” If you missed the deadline for entering, I highly recommend you take a look at the answers we received. Our Blog readers are a very creative and positive group of people!

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for, the Winners!!

  • 1st Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Sweatshirt:
    Bobkat’s whose response was:
    “Fabulantastic!”
    Anytime you make up a new word I love it
  • 2nd Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Water Bottle
    Bill Crane whose, sheer boldness of his response nabbed him a prize.
    “I am the one! Money Flows to Me Like an Un-Ending River!”
  • 3rd Place – Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Mouse Pad
    Ana who answered:
    “I’m feeling like ME!”
    That’s all we can really ask for, isn’t it?

Congratulations to the winners. We will be contacting you by email to get your mailing address and send out your prizes.

Stay tuned exciting contests and prizes in the next few weeks.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
Instructor

Creating Time Freedom
by On March 25, 2008

Eric PlantenbergMany people think of their time management skills in relationship to their time organization device. Yes… your calendar, Outlook, or PDA can be an extremely valuable tool in helping you to organize your time, but those things are not your time, nor do they have any power to determine where you use your time.

Time Management is a mindset. And the way you look at and value the hours and minutes of each day. Today I have several simple ideas that can revolutionize your experience of time freedom.

When you hold onto the mindset that there is a shortage of time, that it is scarce… that is what it becomes. When you consciously choose to look at your time in a state of abundance, it becomes abundant.

Who determines where you spend your time and how you view it? Obviously you do. If you want to break old patterns, you need to reframe some of your beliefs.

While your time is a limited commodity, it is not a scarce one.

Think of it in this way, no-other commodity automatically regenerates itself. If lose your money, it is gone until you earn it again. If you ruin a friendship, it isn’t guaranteed to return. When you health is compromised, it takes an incredible effort to restore it. If your time is not utilized, only that opportunity is gone, not its future value. What other commodity can you waste or abuse and wake up the next morning with a replenished supply?

This is not to say your time isn’t precious. I view my time as one of my most valued resources. That doesn’t mean it has to be limited. Our greatest intangible resources are never limited – they just require focused energy to be harnessed.

Here are my favorite three tips to increase my time freedom:

1. Focus on the present moment.
It never ceases to amaze me how productive and stress free life is when lived in the present moment. It is my experience that all stress lives in the past or future.

2. Clearly define what your priorities for the day are and stick to them.

3. Do not overload your schedule.
Less things on my to-do list often means more gets done.

What are your favorite tips that free up your time? Post a comment below.

Have fun, take control of your life, and…

Be Free!

Eric Plantenberg
President

Workshop Review – The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude
by On March 24, 2008

Roger SeipI had an amazing time teaching the Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude workshop! I really have enjoyed getting to know all of the participants during the Fundamentals of Freedom Series. Here are some of the comments from the graduates of this workshop:

“This is the real stuff – what matters most – our choices (attitude) is the only thing we actually have control over. Great job Roger – as always!” Candace Kriner, President, C21 First Realty

“My favorite class yet. Easy to implement plan to help attitude. Love the stories.” Ron Marshall, Three Oaks Realty

“Helped me to open up my mind and think outside of my own little world. Re-affirmed my faith in God because he teaches the same. Thank you very much!” Luann Sippel, President, Creative Design Center, Inc.

The next workshop in the Fundamentals of Freedom Series is Using Time as It’s Meant to Be Used

We will be going over:
– The difference between activity and accomplishment
– How to minimize interruptions
– Effective scheduling for predicable results
– Your daily success routine

Location and Dates:

Oconomowoc, WI
Thursday, June 5
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Hilton Garden Inn
1443 Pabst Farms
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Madison, WI
Monday, June 9
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Holiday Inn Madison at The American Center
5109 W Terrace Dr
Madison, WI 53718

North Hollywood, CA
Monday, July 19
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn
4222 Vineland Ave
N Hollywood, CA 91602

San Diego, CA
Tuesday, July 15
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Town and Country Hotel & Convention Center
500 Hotel Circle N.
San Diego, CA 92108

Austin, TX
Monday, August 4
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Embassy Suites Austin ~ Central
5901 N IH-35
Austin, TX 78723

Boise, ID
Thursday, August 7
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Red Lion Hotel Boise Downtowner
1800 Fairview Ave
Boise, ID 83702

Charlotte, NC
Wednesday, August 13
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Charlotte Marriott Executive Park
5700 Westpark Dr
Charlotte, NC 28217

If you want to learn invaluable time management skills, you can not afford to miss this workshop. Visit the Enrollment Page on our website.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
Instructor

Workshop Review – The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude
by On March 24, 2008

Roger SeipI had an amazing time teaching the Proper Care and Feeding of Your Attitude workshop! I really have enjoyed getting to know all of the participants during the Fundamentals of Freedom Series. Here are some of the comments from the graduates of this workshop:

“This is the real stuff – what matters most – our choices (attitude) is the only thing we actually have control over. Great job Roger – as always!” Candace Kriner, President, C21 First Realty

“My favorite class yet. Easy to implement plan to help attitude. Love the stories.” Ron Marshall, Three Oaks Realty

“Helped me to open up my mind and think outside of my own little world. Re-affirmed my faith in God because he teaches the same. Thank you very much!” Luann Sippel, President, Creative Design Center, Inc.

The next workshop in the Fundamentals of Freedom Series is Using Time as It’s Meant to Be Used

We will be going over:
– The difference between activity and accomplishment
– How to minimize interruptions
– Effective scheduling for predicable results
– Your daily success routine

Location and Dates:

Oconomowoc, WI
Thursday, June 5
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Hilton Garden Inn
1443 Pabst Farms
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Madison, WI
Monday, June 9
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Holiday Inn Madison at The American Center
5109 W Terrace Dr
Madison, WI 53718

North Hollywood, CA
Monday, July 19
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn
4222 Vineland Ave
N Hollywood, CA 91602

San Diego, CA
Tuesday, July 15
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Town and Country Hotel & Convention Center
500 Hotel Circle N.
San Diego, CA 92108

Austin, TX
Monday, August 4
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Embassy Suites Austin ~ Central
5901 N IH-35
Austin, TX 78723

Boise, ID
Thursday, August 7
1:00 – 5:00 pm
Red Lion Hotel Boise Downtowner
1800 Fairview Ave
Boise, ID 83702

Charlotte, NC
Wednesday, August 13
9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Charlotte Marriott Executive Park
5700 Westpark Dr
Charlotte, NC 28217

If you want to learn invaluable time management skills, you can not afford to miss this workshop. Visit the Enrollment Page on our website.

Be Free!

Roger Seip
Instructor

Turning a Wish into Reality
by On March 21, 2008

Leah SimpsonWe all know people who seem to do everything: A clean and organized house with a well groomed yard, kids that are active in many extra curricular activities, family vacations, they train for a marathon and still have time to volunteer in the community. How do they fit it in? Does it just happen? Are they lucky? No. They’re intentional with their long-term planning.

For example, Gold Medal Olympians do not just wake up one day able to be the best in the world. Lance Armstrong does not just happen to be a great cyclist and also have time to start a cancer foundation. John Coltrane didn’t pick up a saxophone and sound like a jazz legend. Successful people work at their trade and they plan their development with diligence. Maybe you don’t desire to be a star athlete or rock star, but you would like to be in better shape, or be able to play a tune or two on the guitar. You have to start with the same approach. Develop a plan to make your wish a reality.

The most effective way to turn a wish into reality is to create a goal around that wish. Most people live only with dreams and wishes, which are good things, but are very different from goals. In fact, 99% of people do not know how to set an effective goal. So let’s make sure you are in the capable 1%.

There are five characteristics of a goal. Your goal must be:

1. Meaningful to You
This sounds so obvious. But many times our goals are created by others. A boss, a friend, a spouse, a child; but not you. So, make sure your goal is truly your own and the accomplishment of it is important to you.

2. The Right Size
You may want to run more, but if you have not jogged for the last year, it’s probably not the right size goal to say you want to be a world champion marathon runner by the end of this year. Your goal should be large enough to stretch you, but not completely unrealistic.

3. Specific, Measurable and has a Due Date
Losing weight is not specific or measurable. Loosing 5 pounds or 30 pounds is specific and measurable. Sometime in your life is not a due date. By December 31, 2008 is a specific date the goal needs to be accomplished by. You need to be able to measure if you have met your goal or not. Losing ten pounds by your 30-year high school reunion on December 28, 2008, is specific, measurable and has a due date.

4. Written Down
You can’t just think something in your head and call it a goal. Write it down, and then you own it.

5. Reviewed
Look over your goal. Put it in front of you. Review your goal. Are you making progress? Does a certain step need to be reworked? By reviewing your goal it keeps what is important in the forefront of your mind and you always know what needs to be done to complete it.

So, for example, if one of your wishes it to read more, you can turn that desire into a goal. I will read ten books by the end of the second quarter, June 30, 2008. Now, of course, only you would know if that is important to you and the right size for you, but it is definitely specific, measurable and has a due date. Just be sure to write it down and review it and it’s a goal.

Now that you’ve turned your desires into goals, the next step is to design a pathway to achieve that goal. To determine your pathway, your proactive steps to achieving long-term plans, you need to do two things:

1. Decide how much time it will take you to achieve your goals.
2. Schedule that time into the weekly planning.

For example, your ten-book goal means that you should average one book per month. You may say, to read one book a month will take me eight hours, therefore, I need to include two reading hours per week into my weekly schedule. Plan these hours into your schedule you will soon be on you way to seeing your hopes and wishes become reality.

The ability to turn wishes into reality is a powerful thing. Enjoy and dream big. So, I’m curious. What dreams and wishes do you want to see turn into a reality? Post a comment below.

Be Free!

Leah Simpson
Instructor

Memorizing the Days of the Week
by On March 20, 2008

Tom WeberFor those of you who are memorizing a calendar, images for the days of the week are helpful. Here are some suggestions I have. Remember, there are no right or wrong pictures – it just has to work for you. Once you decide on an image, don’t change it.

Memorizing the calendar is a great way to help you stay on schedule. If you want to learn more about improving your memory, check out our Memory Training Workshop.

Days of the Week:

Monday: Moon
Tuesday: Ties
Wednesday: Wedding – or – Camel (for Hump Day)
Thursday: Thor (the day is named after the Norse god Thor)
Friday: French Fries – or – Frying Pan
Saturday: Saturn (with its rings and colors) – or – a chair (you ‘sat” in)
Sunday: Sun

Hopefully those help give you some ideas, feel free to use or not use any of them.

I would be curious as to what other people use for the images for the days of the week. Share your ideas and post a comment below.

Be Free!

Tom Weber
Instructor
VP of Sales

The Fundamentals of Increasing Your Sales Income
by On March 19, 2008

David DenisToday I am going to discuss the fundamentals of increasing your sales income. This income depends on two factors:

1 – your commission, and
2 – your sales volume.

You have no control over your commission, but you can control your sales volume. Sales volume is the direct result of two factors: your closing rate and your average sale size. Let’s look at these two factors more closely.

Your closing percentage is how many presentations you make, divided by the number of presentations you close. Ten demonstrations and 3 sales make a 30% closing rate. To increase your closings you make more demonstrations. It doesn’t matter what business you are in; showing more will sell more. This is a matter of good use of time. If you are not face to face giving a demonstration, you should be on the phone setting up appointments. Anything else is not income generating activity.

By increasing your skill you will also convert more demonstrations into sales. How do you gain skill? Through quality training and faithful application of what you learn. Invest in yourself. Take advantage of whatever training is available. Find a mentor to help you. As your skill increases, so will your closing rate and your income.

The second part of your sales volume is your average sale size. To increase your average ticket, add-on to the sale to create a bigger package. Depending on your industry, you can do this by either adding additional merchandise to your demonstration, or by offering additional value-added services. Either way, explain the benefits, provide options, and some of your customers will expand their purchase.

You can also increase your average sale by showing higher priced merchandise. Higher priced options offer greater value, and greater satisfaction. Be very benefit focused so that people know what they are getting for their money. But always show the higher priced option. The decision to buy it or not is up to them, not you.

Close more sales and make bigger sales and you will automatically make more money.

Be Free!

This article was written by David Denis owner of http://www.rocksolidwriting.com

David is a freelance writer for hire offering article writing, sales letters, training manuals, speech writing, seo content, sales writing, blog articles, copy-writing service, sales scripts and business name ideas.

To learn more, or request a quote visit http://www.rocksolidwriting.com/freelance-writer-quote

What Is In It for Me?
by On March 14, 2008

Ken BudkaYou know radio station, WII FM. It is all about your primary concerns, needs and wants. “What’s in it for me?” When you are trying to persuade people to your point of view, it is counterproductive to tune to that radio station. Instead, the best way to win over people is to focus the message on what is in it for them.

One of my favorite books that illustrates and proves the power of this idea is, How to Win Friend and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. If you have not read it yet, I highly encourage you pick up a copy today and read it.

Overall the main concept in Mr. Carnegie researches is the fact that most people’s favorite subject is, you guess it, themselves. He proves that the more you focus on others, the easier it is to development a relationship and ultimately do more business. With that being said, in the world of sales and business, we might be tempted to say, “Well my favorite subject happens to be me, making this sale and feeding my family.”

Unfortunately, when the focus on your own needs, it becomes apparent to your clients and customers, they quickly head for the door. Or worse yet, straight to your competition who is more concerned about satisfying their customer’s need than filling their own pocket. Your competition can easy recruit your clients if you lose focus on their wants.

When you focus on others and their needs first, something magical takes place. Energy is transferred out to the universe and then returned in your desired end result. It might show up as winning their business and ultimately, the commission from the sale or feeding your family and paying for your next vacation.

Next, the power of reciprocity kicks in. When someone receives help or service, what usually happens? They are more likely to reciprocate with effort and energy. It could be in the form of a referral, business resource or just getting back to you sooner. In other words, if you do right by me, I will go out of my way to do right by you.

In conclusion, stop whining, “Oh, what about me and my needs?” Instead focus on others and how you can be a service to them. Almost always, the reward far exceeds your effort and, if nothing else, you will feel outstanding everyday.

Be Free!

Ken Budka
Instructor

PS – If you have an example of how using this technique of focusing on others needs helped you, please share it with the group by posting a comment below.