Tag Archives: Social Entrepreneur

Expirements in Business Social Networking: What I learned on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

This is Part 1 of, well…who knows how many. Just have to check back if you like it.

It’s funny where inspiration comes from sometimes. This time, it came from a stupid question. “Anyone in the Professional Speakers Group on LinkedIn Using Twitter?”, I asked. I was looking to make a few new friends since I had just started using Twitter at the time I posted it. When I joined Twitter three plus weeks ago, I had zero friends and zero followers. I was looking for friends and help (aren’t we all?). So I posted the that “anyone using” question in a few LinkedIn Groups I belong to, however the Professional Speakers group overwhelmingly started raving about about Twitter and my question soon became one of the featured questions in the group since so many people had responded to it. I laughed at one response, “Fine, you folks seem to be passionate about it. I’ll give it a try.”. I thought to myself, “There is no try. Do or do not” as Yoda would say. You can take one look at the Twitter profiles of folks “trying it out”, but not really making the investment of time to find out how to be successful with it. I couldn’t tell them apart when I started. Now it’s easy. I invested the time, now hopefully I can share what I’ve learned. Taking pity on the fellow, and just because my nature is to help folks, I decided to write a detailed response back to him and the group. That response became the inspiration behind this series “My Experiments in Business Social Networking”, a tutorial, or memoir or sorts, of what’s worked and what hasn’t. I thought using myself as a case study might be helpful to some people. I’m not an expert, just trying to find my way to business and happiness through sharing and meeting “good like minded folks who give a damn about people other than themselves”.

My Business Objective:
As a wealth manager who specializes in “Business Owners, Families, and Donors”, my objective with my networking was to connect with “successful folks who give a damn” as I say. I wanted to meet people who were successful and also interested in philanthropy. I have a very unique offering that’s very collaborative and hands on since it involves multiple levels of collaboration with a client’s accountant, attorney, and other members of their professional team. The bottom line is, I only want to work with the right kinds of clients, and they are hard to find. How do you find successful folks who give a damn? How do you find Social Entrepreneurs? I began experimenting, believing there was “some club of those folks out there somewhere”. Seems like everyone I talked to said my business ideas were so badly needed in that market space but the problem was identifying those people who could identify with what I had to say and what I was passionate about. I wanted to meet successful like minded people. Now that I think about it, I actually met my wife online so perhaps there is something to this networking for like minded people thing. We met in 2000, before it was “cool” to meet people. Perhaps going social for business is the right thing to do I thought..

LinkedIn
A few years ago, my friend recommended my first social networking site, LinkedIn. For the first 6 months, I didn’t do much with it. After friends started sending me lots of invites, I decided to check it out further (like the poor soul who finally gave into Twitter I mentioned). I put up a real profile. I got the hang of LinkedIn after a while. I realized being successful on LinkedIn is about building a network based on quality and quantity. Having not been an “open networker” (LION= LinkedIn Open Networker), I was only focused on building quality connections. After asking a LION what that whole “LION” thing was about, they told me that having LIONS in your network greatly increases the size of your 3rd degree”. The closer someone is in your network I have found, the more like minded you tend to be, regardless who you are connected through, and generally the easier to get introduced. There are certainly exceptions, however this is my experience. In reality though, in three years, I have only asked for an introduction a handful of times. I meet quality people spending time in the LinkedIn Groups in the areas I am interested in. When you are both members of groups, you don’t need an introduction, you can just invite them to connect directly. I only INVITE quality people, while I will accept an invitation from anyone. I have sent out thousands of invitations and have only been declined twice to my knowledge. Here’s a little secret; people want to meet like minded people. Just say, “I saw your profile and it seems like we have a lot in common with our blah, blah interest. Please accept my invitation to connect”. If they are really interesting, set up a time to speak by phone to find out more about them. Don’t try and pitch them on you.

My Issues With LinkedIn (LinkedIn, why won’t you listen?)
Recently, I’ve become frustrated with LinkedIn’s inability to help me understand who is among my list of 1st degree connections. As someone who has over 4500 1st degree connections, I want my relationships to be of value to me. If it is difficult to communicate with my connections, which I have found it to be very difficult, the network becomes less valuable. This is where Twitter has become EXTREMELY helpful. More on that later. Before Twitter, I had a huge network of connections on LinkedIn, but was hesitant to email everyone. I hate spam so I didn’t want to send business related messages to people who absolutely had no interest in what I do other than the value of our connection on LinkedIn (which might not seem that valuable to you). These people ARE important, because even though a recruiter LION likely has little chance of utilizing my services, they might be connected to someone who does. Sending wealth management related messages to recruiters isn’t relevant to them directly and what a waste of time and effort it has been to try and contact them. All efforts to try an make better use of my exported list of contacts has been time consuming and a painful process. LinkedIn needs to resolve this issue or their best users like me will wind up spending money on services that provide this ability. Twitter seems to be starting to fill that void.

At the end of the day (I hate that expression), I have only two objectives. The first is meeting professional contacts for business, and the other is meeting potential clients. Some is working really well, some not. Tune in soon…

Check my blog for the rest of this story. Part two deals with how LinkedIn and Twitter have worked together. ūüôā For a sneak peak at how Twitter has helped, check out “5 Ways I’m Using Twitter to Meet the Right People” as well as “Wondering if you Should Use Twitter?”

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Re: Jabs at my fellow Social Entrepreneurs

In my previous post, I may not have conveyed all the things that I intended so let me set the record straight here.

First. I take no shots at social entrepreneurs actually doing things and I firmly believe that there are no right or wrong ways to give. Whether one chooses to write a check, or get their hands dirty, they should be applauded for actually taking an action. There are many examples of wonderful folks doing wonderful work as were highlighted in the comments left. I take issue when people have their head in the right place, but don’t actually don’t do anything. As for the folks who DON’T have their head in the right place to begin with, well those folks just don’t get it anyway and they aren’t the ones reading any of this stuff anyway.

I disagree that capitalism is the cause of the problem. The problem is deeply rooted in the fears we have to take chances on what we believe, even when there is a risk of failing, and doing what is right instead of accepted as convention. I also blame the financial system as a whole in creating an environment of mistrust and creating the very roadblocks of mistrust that keep those with big hearts from stepping forward and asking for help.

I don’t think we are all granola eating tree huggers at all. For one thing, I don’t even like granola all that much (actually I do like it, but don’t tell). Social entrepreneurism has enormous potential and continues to gain in popularity each day. If we want to not be viewed as the “tree hugging granola eaters”, we need to continue to take action based on what we believe, not just talk about it. We must follow the path of those who have succeed and get advice on how to make our dreams become realities. Despite the fact sometimes it appears that the entire financial industry is out to eat investors for lunch, there are fellow social entrepreneurs who care, and caring advisors who want to help you folks make a difference. From this side of the table though, I have seen far to many folks who are just interested in making their portfolios a big as possible, not happy with their life, and wondering why in the world their financial success hasn’t translated into true happiness. For those of you who actually do something (and there are many), thanks for caring AND doing something. Those of you who want to create great things with your wealth can come to the front of the line, the rest can take a number.

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You Call Yourself a Social Entrepreneur? I Have A Dream-Begin Rant

Frankly, I’m a little sick and tired of hearing about social entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, we as a community do a good deal of talking about helping others, but at the end of the day there are too few people stepping up and actually doing anything concrete. Now that we’re deep in the throws of an economic downturn, people like Thomas Friedman of the NY Times are asking questions like “Does the economic downturn spell the end of the green movement?” What do you think? I love Tom Friedman and I don’t believe that the economic environment will be more than a blip on the socially conscious movement in the long run. It’s a great question and one that will sell lots of books and attention though. Nice one again Tom, love ya.

Back to my rant though…What’s the deal people? What the hell is a “socially conscious” movement anyway? Perhaps “movement” IS the right word as in “crap“. Are we all full of it? Perhaps we should call it a “socially UNconscious” movement. I mean, really, what is social entrepreneurship anyway? What’s a social enterprise? Is social entrepreneur a state of mind, like insanity? Are we just a bunch of granola eating, tree hugging folks who light candles, sing songs, do yoga, buy cage free eggs, listen to U2, and complain that corporations make too much money? I’ll tell you one thing, I am not one of those people. Greed IS good AND, GREEN is GOOD. CSR is GOOD. Intention…, is good. Action…., that’s a different story. Actions speak much more loudly than words. People, let me say something. In my opinion and experience so far, I’ve see way too much talk of doing, and not enough doing. Now that I think about it though, Tom Friedman might be onto something here. Perhaps the economic downturn is the end of this social entrepreneurship movement. Why? People are afraid. As a wealth manager, I can tell you that fear of loss is the number one concern of the wealthy. No matter how much money you have, fear continues to be a major concern among people. While the prospect of going bankrupt might not be a concern, there’s a very real possibility that one’s lifestyle could be altered. When it comes to emotions, many people view change as a win/lose proposition. If I don’t have to alter my lifestyle, I win. If I am forced to change the way I live, I lose. I would tend to agree with that assessment. I absolutely hate change. Before I had surgery, moving used to be my least favorite thing in the world. When change happens, and it isn’t on your terms, change sucks, excuse my French.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” said something I have always liked. He said that his definition of “wealthy”, was “the ability to continue to pay yourself if you decide to stop working”, or something close to that. Some have described this scenario as “escaping the rat race”, or being “financially independent”. In reality, I think my friend Randy Ottinger of LMR Advisors in Seattle said it best in his book, “Beyond Success: Building a Personal, Financial, and Philanthropic Legacy” McGraw Hill 2008. Randy interviewed some of top minds in business and philanthropy including Bill Gates, Sr., Jeff Brotman of Costco, and Sandy Weill, former Chairman of Citigroup. Randy discusses the concept of a moving “Wealth Divide”. This divide is the concept of the conversation around the question “How much is enough?” We as human beings are hunter gatherers and are wired to want more and accumulate for those long winter months (like the current economic winter we’re in now) . Call it “keeping up with the Jones’s”, call it whatever you like. The fact remains, that we all have these fears about coming to the Wealth Divide, looking across, making the leap, and falling flat on our face. Until we recognize that this Wealth Divide is a moving target for many people, and come to understand that money and wealth do not make us happy, we will continue to live in fear that we will lose what we have. The net result of this fear is that our social entrepreneurial “movement” will continue to be just talk, eventually be flushed down the pages of history by free market capitalism (which is really working well at the moment isn’t it?), dismissed as another promising social experiment gone awry.

“My social entrepreneurial friends”, (can I pull a McCain here?) let me speak honestly with you for a moment as someone who has a little experience in this whole wealth management thing and understands a little thing about this whole planning and economic situation we are in. This is an intervention. I’m doing this because I love you and because you are sick. If you’ve ever watched the television show, “Intervention” on A&E, the main interventionist’s (is that a word?) name is Jeff VanVonderen and he is blatantly blunt with folks who are at rock bottom. Addicts don’t like change, but then he asks “How’s that workin for you?”. Usually the answer is, “not so good, right?” Are you happy? Are you truly doing what you want to be doing? Are you talking about social entrepreneurship, saying “someday I’ll do that”, or “I’m not smart enough”, or “I don’t have time for that”. If you are, let me ask you, “how’s that workin for ya?” You want to change? You want to do something good for this world? STOP SAYING SOMETIME, SOMEDAY. Understand you will never have enough money to make you happy and that happiness comes from DOING, not HAVING. Money is just a means to an end, not the end itself. Happiness comes from pursuing dreams and goals and things that seem crazy. If you doubt me, visit my friend Gail Lynne Goodwin’s site and read about her “Global Hugs Tour”. You think she’s happy?

This is YOUR intervention. FLASH!

Tomorrow, you visit your doctor and he tells you that you have a rare medical condition and that you only have 6 months to live. First assignment, right now, write your own eulogy. Take 30 seconds and think about what you want people to say about you as they put you into the ground…Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Great, are you living life that way now or are there any things that are left undone in your life that you would want to resolve before they cover you with 6 feet of dirt? While you may have created a lot of money in business and been a great entrepreneur, how about your family? Might you want to spend more time with them before you die? Than why aren’t you doing it now? What is the purpose of your work? Is it to provide? How much? When does more time with the family come? Where does the volunteering ever happen? When does “retirement” happen for you? Oh, so you’re one of those who will never retire cause you don’t want to be bored out of your mind and have your brain turn to mush watching TV shows on Hulu huh? So you work cause you don’t want to be bored huh? Sounds like fear to me? Fear of, say,…. loss of purpose? Ringing a bell anyone? I’ll ask you again, are you happy? How’s that fear thing workin for ya? Any family stress because Daddy is never home and always stressed when he is? That’s not you right? Perhaps watching The Last Lecture again is what you folks need.

My “budding social entrepreneurial friends”, this is YOUR intervention. I had a dream. That dream was helping to turn successful business owners into social entrepreneurs. So far, this has been just a dream because while I’m here, you are still there with your talk, talk, talk. If any of you have been “successful” in your “day job” and actually wish to do something with your life greater than earning a profit, let me know. I don’t work miracles, but more than likely, I can help design and manage the financial extrication strategy that you are fearing and keeping you living in your unfulfilled, profit motivated, life of “sometime, someday” I’ll have enough. Today is the day. END RANT/ END INTERVENTION DO YOU FOLLOW ME?

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Oprah’s “The Big Give” Reality Show: What Do YOU Think?

Oprah’s Big Give

So what did you think of the premiere of “The Big Give”? Personally, I think it’s a breath of fresh air to see a television show that has a mission of actually helping people. For those of you who missed the show, 10 contestants (I think it’s 10…) battle each other to be crowned “The Biggest Giver (ala The Biggest Loser show?) and the winner will win $1 Million dollars. In the first episode, contestants were partnered and broken into five teams. Each team was presented with worthy cause and challenged to raise as much money and make as big a difference for their cause as possible. At the end of the show, the person who is judged to have made the least difference is sent home packing. The show was sort of a cross between The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser. I’m already a fan and am looking forward to the next episode.

What’s the moral?

While this was just the first episode, I hope the show will deliver more than just inspirational and heartwarming stories to viewers. I was quite disappointed to see that the first one voted off the show was treated like one of Donald Trump’s contestants with a¬†“You’re Fired” type sendoff. The show should tread carefully on this precarious ground or risk doing the opposite of what the show intends to do, inspire giving. One might perceive that only certain types of people are tallented at giving and that it should be left to charities or the “good givers”. In reality, everyone has the ability to make a difference and we should applaud all efforts when people step forward to help another person. Other people have mentioned that people are only giving so that they can win the $1 Million prize. I’m not sure I would make such a leap, however I would say that the biggest givers are those who don’t expect anything in return. If the show is able to demonstrate this, it has the potential to not only entertain, but also inspire good in the world.

What do you think?

 

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Having It All- From Student to Teacher

About a year ago, I read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. After I read the book, I had what I call an “Aha” moment, seeing my life purpose clearly for the first time. Like most people, I have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to people talking about “seeing the light”, and I don’t believe in magic pills or cure alls. I do believe that when people are ready to be open-minded about life and learning about themselves, magic things happen. For some, insight comes from reading, overcoming a tragedy, or some other monumental life event that causes them to see life differently than they had before. For me, it came from reading a book. After I read Think and Grow Rich, I felt it had opened a door to curiosity. Over time, I realized that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. Serving others and making a difference has become a central theme in my life. In the last year, I stayed in touch with the Napoleon Hill Foundation and Learning Center and even attended one of their open house programs last year. Since I began getting more involved in helping others, wonderful things have opened up for me. I’m happier in life than ever before and i’m making a documentary called “A Work In Progress” about how one person can make a difference in the world. Since things became clearer for me, I began seeing inspirational messages everywhere I went. You can see clips from some of those stories on the page “Film in Development”.

It seems things come full circle. I’ve stayed in touch with the Napoleon Hill Center and am honored to be speaking at this year’s Napoleon Hill World Learning Center open house on the campus of Purdue University, May 5-9th. During my discovery process, I became much better at understanding what’s important about money. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. I am excited to be speaking on “How Money Can Buy Happiness: Balancing Life and Wealth”.¬†

I am honored to be included on the list of speakers that last year included Bob Proctor from “The Secret”. I look forward to sharing my passion with others and showing people how to harness passion within their financial plan. Hope to see you in Hammond.

 Richard

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Arthur Brooks “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism”

Talking politics and religion can be a lethal mix so I’ll tread carefully here. When I make conclusions about things (especially when it comes to religion and politics), I try and be particularly careful to¬†point out¬†when i’m injecting opinion versus stating facts on things. Arthur Brooks’s book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism” is a book that states the FACTS about who gives and who doesn’t in America. The findings detailed in the book were quite surprising to me, and to Arthur Brooks himself, as he states in the book. This book was the focus of an ABC News 20/20 report entitled “Cheap in America” Who Gives and Who Dosen’t”¬†

A common perception is that liberals and Democrats are more “socially concerned” than conservative Republicans, and one might make the natural leap that because of this, they are more likely to be charitable. According to the research that Arthur Brooks conduced though, it’s exactly the opposite. How could that be? That’s impossible!

Brooks himself thought there might be an error in the numbers so he rechecked them. There was no denying the facts. Conservative Republicans, (who¬†some argue¬†would fire their grandmother to improve profitability) are statistically more charitable (more than 30% more charitable) compared to their “socially concerned” liberal democratic friends. Don’t shoot the messenger if you don’t like this, read the book and see the statistics for yourself. Just the facts here…

So how could this be you are asking yourself? Well the findings point right to the heart of the perceptions that “secular liberal democrats are more socially concerned than religious conservative republicans”. It turns out that the secular liberals (the Democrats) belive that it’s the job of the government to take care of the poor (no surprise here yet) and are more in favor of “income redistribution”,¬†taxing and redistributing resources¬†from those who have money to those who are poor. Socially leaning political views have actually taken the place of their charitable contributions. Brooks’s research shows that regardless of which political party was actually in office or how effective politicians were in their policies toward the poor, that the religious conservative Republicans consistently gave more than their secular liberal Democrat counterparts.

Brooks is careful to point out that there are many examples of charitable liberal democrats and non-charitable conservative republicans, however the research clearly demonstrated wide and across the board differences in giving patterns along political party lines. That’s not the only thing. Brooks points out that among the both the Republican and Democratic parties, people who are religious tend to give much larger amounts to charity, giving significantly larger amounts to ¬†both religious and non-religious organizations compared to people who were secular non-religious. Among all religious people, Republican conservatives still give a statistically significant greater proportion than Democratic liberals.

Brooks notes that “secular liberals” and “religious conseratives” are increasingly voting along political party lines, with religious conservatives tending to align with the Republican Party and secular liberals favoring the Democratic Party. The smaller groups that cross party lines, the “religious liberals” and “secular conservatives” both represent a shrinking percentage of of their respective political parties’ makeup. If this trend continues, these groups may find that their views are at odds with those of greater majority of their political party.

What’s clear are the numbers. Arthur Brooks says that these findings should be a wake up call to to the Democratic party and to secular liberals.¬†The nunbers show that the¬†charitable giving trends¬†diving political parties are increasing. The message:¬†¬†All are apparently not equal when it comes to being giving.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the findings, “Who Really Cares” is an entertaining read that will be sure to hold your attention and may change your perceptions.

Click here for video¬†clip from “Cheap in America”

Next time…How giving makes you happy…

Who Really Cares

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A Work in Progress-Life Stories and Lessons of Success

This is a test that will serve as a witness to what happens when the seed of an idea gets planted and watered. How big will it grow? Who knows. Watch. Check back. Stay tuned. Read on.

I’ve decided to start this diary to keep track of what is happening and to document my thoughts as I go through this process from the point of breakthrough to what happens next.

Background

I’ve learned that education is critical if you want to get ahead. I’m not speaking about traditional schooling, but knowing where to get the knowledge when you need it. The key to knowledge is in asking the right questions in the first place. The right questions will lead you on the path to the answers you seek. In my case, the questions that I have asked have revolved around “what’s my purpose”, “what’s next?”. Go to the self help section of your local library or Barnes and Noble and you will have much to choose from. Over the years, many books have been written on the subject of self help, however few have stood the test of time like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I read the book a few months ago and something in me just clicked. A light-bulb turned on.

Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill, a journalist who was invited by Andrew Carnegie to spend 20 or more years documenting “the secret” Carnegie success formula to take to the masses of people interested to learn how success and wealth are created. It was Carnegie’s opinion that if this information was made available to the masses and taught in schools, that the amount of time spent learning could be cut in half. It has been reported that over 100 million copies of Think and Grow Rich have been published in one form or another over the years. That fact alone is worth noting. They must have had something interesting to say to sell 100 million books right?

All achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in and idea! If you are ready for the secret, you already possess one half of it; therefore you will readily recognize the other have the moment it reaches your mind.”-Napoleon Hill 1937

I was ready. I don’t know why I was ready just then, but I was. It’s funny how certain events line up in just the right order where you see them a certain way. If events had come together in any other order, you would likely see them in a much different way. I suppose that certain events happen in ones life and you just become open to seeing things differently, perhaps understanding how we all color the world through our own shades of perception. In any case, I was ready.

Lesson one-Education of Self

Being ready is about leveling with yourself and being honest about your own¬†strengths and weaknesses and not selling yourself short with excuses. Most of us go through life telling ourselves little lies like “I could do that whenever I want”, or “I don’t have time for that now”, “It’s really not that important”. That is lying to yourself. We do this as a defense mechanism to mentally protect ourselves from being hurt. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that this defense mechanism is keeping us from what we truly desire in life. The key to getting past this hurdle is recognizing and catching yourself in the act of making excuses for yourself.

Being open to recognizing when your inner voice is talking to you is the starting point. It was the point I needed to be in order to be able to implement the lessons being taught. For me, Think and Grow Rich represented a manual for how to guide an awakened mind.

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