It's time for another episode of Ellen's Book Club! Like my compatriot, Oprah, I took a little hiatus from the club. There were other topics to tackle. Oprah and I, as multimedia mavens, just have soooo much ground to cover and information to present. Recently, a few books have caught my attention and I would love to share them with you.
by Lee Eisenberg
Once upon a time, I started in this industry as the wife of a plumber. Though I have a pricey degree in business administration, my financial education began right here - in PM magazine. Frank Blau wrote a series of columns about how much a contractor should charge. I read it. I was stunned. “That would never fly in my town ...” I wrote Frank in a letter. He read it. And he called me. He told me where my head was (a very dark place) and started me on the path to financial freedom.
John Ward of Applewood Plumbing, Heating and Electric in Denver, Colo., is also a disciple of Frank Blau. I met John when I was getting my arms around how much we needed to charge at our company. I related to John because he was from the Denver area and our company was located outside Salt Lake City, Utah. “Sure, one could charge a million dollars an hour in Milwaukee or Los Angeles ... but what about UTAH?” So, I called John. He was always 100 yards ahead of me in his business development, and his prices were always another notch higher. John encouraged me every step of the way. “Just do it. Sound business principles work in Colorado and Utah, too,” he said. John was an angel to Hot Rod and me as we started on a better business path.
I was delighted to catch up with John a few weeks ago. We had dinner together and talked business and life. John is an expert at both. He talked about this book, The Number, and was kind enough to send me a copy. I devoured it!
How much money do you need to secure the rest of your life? What's that number? Lee Eisenberg opens up the dialogue in this engaging book. In a non-fiction book, I am not a stickler for great writing. I am just looking for solid content. This book has both. Lee can craft a sentence. He presents traditionally desert-dry financial planning information in a humorous, thought-prompting way. And, he ties in the bigger life questions: If you live to be really old (and you well might!) what are you going to do? How will you spend your time and your money?
Lee opens by exposing the great taboo: Why does this conversation make people so uncomfortable? For starters, talking about money has always been considered crass and déclassé. Also, most folks just don't understand basic finance: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. Lee is a man after my own heart! I agree with him and I have devoted my professional career to helping people figure out their assets from their elbows. Lee maintains that knowing where you stand financially right now is a good place to start. Hear! Hear!
Through a series of conversations with diverse and interesting people (James Cavill is fascinating), Lee offers lots of suggestions for computing The Number. The Number leads to discourse about quality of life and what you will do with yours. Do you really want to retire to Sun City and play shuffleboard or bocce ball all day? How will you feel when your too-busy days turn into endless hours without anything to do, or anyone to meet? Creating relevance is intrinsically tied to The Number.
Read this book. Think thoughtfully about your answers to the questions posed by interviewee George Kinder:
• If you have all the money you need (The Number) what would you do with it?
• Now, if you discover you have a rare illness and only five years to live, how will you spend those five years?
• And, if you learn that you have only 24 hours to live, what did you miss? What did you not get to do? What did you not get to be?
Use What You've Got, and Other Business Lessons I Learned from My Mom
by Barbara Corcoran
I met Barbara Corcoran at the Office Depot Women's Success Strategies conference. Barbara started The Corcoran Group with $1,000 borrowed from an abusive boyfriend. She applied her mother's advice as she grew her company to one of Manhattan's largest real estate firms with more than $2 billion in sales.
Now Barbara is on to another career as a writer and journalist for CNBC. (I wonder what her Number is?) Like Barbara, you may find yourself looking at a whole new career once you pass on the one you are occupied with right now. This book offers sound business-building advice from a non-plumbing industry: real esate. Here are some of her mom's lessons:
• Mom's Lesson No. 15: If you want to get noticed, write your name on the wall. NOBODY does publicity better than Barbara Corcoran. She read in the newspaper that Madonna was apartment hunting in NYC. Barbara was disappointed to learn that none of The Corcoran Group salespeople were working with Madonna. Hmmm. Barbara put together a checklist of the features that Madonna may be looking for in an apartment - top security, room for the new baby, Central Park views- a luxury list of items important to any wealthy, celebrity client. She sent the list to all her media contacts and two hours later was sitting at a desk at CNN's studio, on the air, discussing Madonna's wish list. Clever!
• Mom's Lesson No. 21: You have the right to be there. Barbara had every reason in the world to be unsuccessful. Her mother taught her that she had the right to be at every table, to talk to every person, to walk through every door. You'll love this chapter.
• Mom's Lesson No. 22: You've got to bully a bully. Barbara shares a wow of a story about when she took Donald Trump “to school” on a real estate deal. This gal is not intimidated by anyone! Funny and inspiring!
• Mom's Lesson No. 1: If you don't have big breasts, put ribbons on your pigtails. In other words, the title of the book is Lesson No. 1: Use what you've got! It boils down to run with your strengths; highlight what you have to offer and forget about wishing you were something or someone else.
I recommend this book because I found that I haven't put the book away since I read it a year ago. On a rough day, I will open her book and find strength and sound sales advice. I find that Barbara helps me make one more call. See if she doesn't do the same for you.
Season of Life
by Jeffrey Marx
Jeffrey Marx is a former professional football player and current Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time and The Washington Post, and he's written several books. This one, Season of Life, was inspired by a life-defining experience that began when he went back to see Memorial Stadium in Baltimore right before it was torn down by the Maryland Board of Public Works. Jeffrey had spent most of his adolescent summers at that stadium as a ball boy, helping out at the Baltimore Colts summer training camps. It was there he met Joe Erhmann. Joe was a first-round NFL draft pick in 1973 and played for the Colts through 1980. He was co-captain of the team and became an All Pro while leading the “Sack Pack”, the Colts defensive line.
The imminent wrecking ball strike inspired Jeffrey to look up his boyhood heroes. He tracked down Joe Erhmann and discovered that phase two of Joe's life was even more interesting than his football glory days. Reverend Joe had created an inner-city community center called The Door. Joe described it as, “a means of entrance for people locked out of mainstream society.” The Door offers educational programs, computer training, drug and lifestyle classes, and, of course, recreational sports programs.
Joe also coached high school football. Joe told Jeff that his coaching program is based on this philosophy:
“Sports - football - is nothing more than a context to help connect with boys and teach them, 1) a clear and compelling definition of what it means to be a man; 2) to give them a code of conduct for manhood; and 3) to help them figure out what their own unique, transcendent cause should or could be in this world.”
Prior to a big game, Jeff hung out with the players on Joe's football team. Joe assembled the troops and dispensed his standard pre-game question and answer sequence:
“What is our job as coaches?” Joe thundered.
“To love us,” the boys yelled back.
“What is your job?” Joe called out.
“To love each other!” the team responded in unison.
Not your ordinary sports book. Read this one and laugh and cry and reflect on the big life questions.
Life is a game. May you keep score, play to win and discover yourself along the way. Love, peace and money to you!
Rohr At ISH NA
Don't miss Ellen's program, “Reward Right Stuff Performance - Winning Compensation and Bonus Programs,” at the 2006 ISH North America trade show to be held in Chicago, Sept. 28-30. Visit www.ish-na.com to register online today.