The Experts Up Close Denis Waitley is a productivity consultant on human achievement and the best-selling author of Seeds of Greatness. Waitley has coached astronauts, Super Bowl champions and Olympic athletes.
Jim Rohn is a legendary motivational speaker and business philosopher. He has numerous best-selling audio programs and books, including The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle.
Chris Widener is a radio host, motivational speaker and the best-selling author of The Angel Inside and The Art of Influence.
Q. What are some small changes I can make in my life that could result in big changes for my financial future?
Denis Waitley: When you receive your paycheck, automatically take 10 percent of the total and put it into a savings account. Remember, unless you pay your future first, you may not be able to afford to keep the lights on when it arrives. After you have made a deposit into your future savings, use the remainder of your paycheck for survival needs first: home, food, function, transportation. Use any extra money, above survival, to create a cash emergency fund that should be equal to six months of survival costs without an income.
Jim Rohn: You’ve got to have a plan for your finances! Let me share with you one of the simple principles taught to me. It’s called the 70/30 plan, and here’s how it works: With the money you make after taxes, make it your goal to live on 70 percent of that income. The remaining 30 percent is allocated in this way: 10 percent goes to charity. 10 percent goes to what I call capital investment – the part you can use to create wealth. This is the money you can use to buy, fix, manufacture or sell. The key is to engage in commerce, even if it is only on a part-time basis. Let your imagination roam – take a look at the skills you’ve developed at work, through your hobbies or something you enjoy doing in your spare time – the possibilities are endless.
And the final 10 percent goes to your savings. This is such a powerful part of your wealth plan. If you’ve ever engaged in the practice of saving money, then you’ve learned it is a wonderful tool for creating peace of mind, even if the amounts are small to begin with. There is something that happens mentally when you know that you’re saving money, knowing you’ve got a reserve built up for the “winters” that occur in everyone’s life now and then.
Now, let me say this, the 70/30 plan might not be something you can achieve right away, but remember my first suggestion: It’s the plan that counts, not the amount. So if you can only start with 97 percent and 3 percent, then start there. If you start there, eventually you can make the shift and end up at 70/30 or even better – it’s your plan!
Chris Widener: One of the principles I teach is that your short-term tasks multiplied by time equals your long-term accomplishments. This works perfectly for wealth-building. Make the following actions repeatedly over a long period of time, and watch your wealth grow!
Get out of debt. Eliminate all of your debt, beginning with your credit cards that have the highest interest rates first, and then be ruthless about debt. Invest. Everybody should invest in ownership opportunities such as real estate, stocks and businesses. The key is to be diverse in your investments to eliminate any big exposure to failure in any one area. Protect yourself. Sit down with a financial advisor and find out what kinds of insurance needs you have. Many people earn a lot of money and then see it quickly disappear because of an untimely or unfortunate event.
Q. What is the best balance to strike between taking risks to growing my business and playing it safe?
Challenge your assumptions about risk-taking. Interview successful entrepreneurs or read their biographies. Learn how they size up risks, how they measure the upside and the downside, and how they inform their intuitions on decisions involving risks. You don’t have to take the full risk all at once. You can turn an avocation into your vocation gradually by test marketing your ideas on a limited basis. Take baby steps until your learn to walk on your own. Don’t take a risk until you’ve established a firm goal. Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve by taking this risk? Is this risk really necessary? Can I stand the downside? After you’ve satisfied yourself that your timing seems right, launch your idea. You don’t need to assume all the risk yourself. Partners, investors and lenders can share the risk with you. And the people you recruit for your business venture share the risk with you by betting that their efforts will be rewarded in the future. Be prepared to sell your ideas to an indifferent world. Don’t expect others to be excited or turned-on by your new ideas. They won’t be, unless what you are doing solves their problem or creates an opportunity for them. Even then, they still won’t be until you convince them of the benefits and that you have the credibility to succeed. Expect the heat and resistance, and persevere. The heat may come from your peers, the media, your friends and even from your own family. Expect it, but don’t let it stop you. Size up the resistance. Anticipate where the strongest criticism will come from. And be prepared and flexible enough to overcome objections to your approach.
Q. I want to give back more to the people in my life who matter most: my family and friends. What are some everyday ways to give back?
Jim Rohn: I think one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value. Your relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep the relationship flourishing and growing.
One of the ways you can give back is by having a serving heart. My good friend Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” The concept he is talking about is having a heart and life that is focused on serving other people. Look for simple ways to help and serve those you care about; sometimes it could be as simple as helping unload the groceries or offering to wash the dishes after when the other person cooked.
Another way is by simply being friendly. I think that we sometimes forget to be friendly to those we’re closest to because of familiarity, but being friendly can cushion the bumpy ride we sometimes experience in our relationships. Cheerfulness goes a long way toward building lasting relationships. So cheer up, put on a smile, have kind words to say to others, treat your family and friends with a great deal of friendliness, and you will see your relationships improve.
Next, be loyal. Loyalty is a commitment to another person. Sadly, loyalty is often a missing element in many relationships today. We need a higher level of “stick-to-it-iveness”! This kind of loyalty will take our relationships to a much deeper level. What a powerful and secure feeling, knowing that you have a relationship with someone who is loyal to you and you to them. The knowledge that neither of you is going anywhere, even when things get tough. Wow, how powerful!
And, finally, plan and do things that are fun! All good relationships have some element of fun. Fun brings enjoyment to the relationship, and that is important. I think that often this key element can be easily forgotten or neglected in our relationships with our family and spouse. The fun things we initially did in a new relationship, after a while, can be taken for granted or simply fall by the wayside, and we stop creating the fun and joy. So remember to consciously craft fun situations and moments; they are the glue that hold our memories together and make our lives sweet.
Chris Widener: Life isn’t about getting, but giving. And the most fulfilling thing in life is giving ourselves to those we love. Here are some thoughts on giving back to those we love and care for:
Take the time to do so. We live in such a fast-paced, busy world that, often, the biggest problem we have is just taking the time we need to give to others. Be disciplined in your time management, and make sure that you are spending time on the people you care for.
Give to them in ways that matter to them, not just what you think would be good. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages explains that we give to others best when we give to them according to what they value most. The Five Love Languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Find out which ways your friends and family enjoy, and then give to them in that way. Just taking the time to find out which way they receive love will be an act of giving in itself.
Do it every day. Make a goal to give to people each and every day. Decide that every day you will serve at least five people or more, if you can. You can even make a game of it and set goals for helping others each day.
Giving doesn’t have to be in a big way. Many small acts of giving can be better than one big gift. Make sure that you make giving a part of your life rather than just something you do on special occasions.