15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.

Leave a comment

Increase Your Value by 52.5% In Less Than 1 Second

pareto2I don’t remember exactly where I first heard of the Pareto Principle, a.k.a. the 80-20 rule. In fact I don’t even remember who Pareto was, possibly an economist (if only there were a convenient way to instantly look up information without having to leave my computer keyboard… oh, well).

The premise of the rule is this: you will get 80% of the effect from 20% of the cause. Or 80% of results come from 20% of the effort put in. This principle applies not just to your personal activity, priorities and time management, but also to large organizations and businesses.

pareto1Some examples of the principle in action:

  • 80% of your work will be completed in 20% of the total time spent (for those of you who procrastinate, it will be in the final 20% before deadline).
  • 80% of your satisfaction at work will come from 20% of your job duties.
  • If you own a business, 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your product line. And 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your salesmen.
  • In your church, 80% of the donations will come from 20% of the people.
  • In any book you read, 80% of the content will be found in 20% of the pages (the obvious exception being MY books which have incredibly valuable tips and information condensed into every single page including in the copyright information right next to the title page).

According to leadership expert John Maxwell this rule even applies to picnics.

  • 80% of the food will be consumed by 20% of the people. Also, 20% of the people will provide 80% of the food, but those two groups are never the same 20% people.

Usually when I talk about principles of success, I focus on the idea of slow, gradual growth, of changing our daily habits, of internalizing change and becoming rather than just behaving successful.

I’ve said many times that the idea of a quantum leap to success is largely a myth. Well, today I’m going to admit that I was wrong. Instant success is possible, and using Pareto’s Principle I will share a method that will instantly increase your profit, or relationship, or happiness, or whatever you choose to apply it to.

Stop spending time on the 80%.

End of seminar.

Well I suppose I could expound on that idea just to prove the point of Pareto’s Princple.

Legendary life insurance salesman, Frank Bettger, wrote a book called How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success in Selling (and by the way, no one ever asked him “What’s your book about?”). In Chapter 2, he carefully analyzed his records of 12 months of his daily activity (interviews, sales calls, and commissions). He came to the realization that when he took his total annual sales commissions divided by the total number of sales calls he made, his average phone call had a value of $2.80.

This realization had a major impact on his thinking, because it made him realize the value of his time, and the value of every phone call, regardless of whether the person bought or not.

Here’s what his records further revealed. 70% of his sales were made on the first interview. 23% were made on the second interview. However, he was spending roughly 50% of his time with prospects on the third interview or later. In other words, he was spending most of his time chasing 7% of his total sales.

So here’s what he did: if his prospect did not buy a policy from him after his second sales interview, he stopped calling them.

Whoa, that’s pretty drastic. What if that customer seemed like he was right on the verge of buying? Sure, there was a chance that the customer might buy. And that chance was 7%; he had the records to show it. Whereas a brand new customer that he was calling on for the first time had a 70% chance of buying.

That single decision increased the value of each call from $2.80 to $4.27. That’s an increase of 52.5%… in case you were wondering about the blog title.

pareto3Your time is valuable.

Your time is less valuable when you invest 80% of your activity into 20% of your results.

Spend your time on the valuable things first.

If you spend all of your creative energy in the 20% of activity that yields the 80% results, you would increase your productivity by four times (at least I think that’s what the chalkboard shows). Math only accounts for 20% of my GPA so I skipped it. In fact, it took me quite a while to figure out that increasing something from $2.80 to $4.27 is a 52.5% increase.

So I have two questions for you:

  1. How can you apply Pareto’s Principle to your life, and
  2. Which 80% of this blog was unnecessary?

1 Comment

Actions Trump Intentions

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” ~Scott Adams

All of us influence someone in our lives. Our friends, our families, strangers that cross our paths. According to one study, even the most introverted person, will influence as many as 10,000 people in his lifetime. So if I were to ask if you were a good influence or a bad influence, how would you answer? 99% of people would answer: good.

Then you would think for a while and realize that 99% of people in the world are not positive influences. In fact, I run into negative people all the time that irritate me and they are definitely a bad influence. Yet everyone thinks that they are good.

Universally most people think of themselves as good. Even bank robbers think that they are pretty good people compared to murderers. And murderers can justify their need to kill and take solace in the fact that at least they didn’t torture their victims first. So not one of us, right down to Charles Manson, thinks that we might be a bad influence on someone.

But very often we are.

In fact, it usually takes something dramatic to bring to light our own shortcomings; to allow us to see what we are doing from outside of that box that we normally live in. Alcoholics call it a moment of clarity.

One successful corporate husband, running along with his wife on a management fast track, one day overheard his daughters as they were “playing executive” in the den. The elder daughter carrying his briefcase said to the younger, “I’m going to be working late tonight. This is company business and company is more important than family.”

That was a wake up call. To outside appearances his family was doing well, living in an affluent neighborhood, climbing the corporate ladder, daughters in private school. But the influence that he was having on his daughters–through his absence–was that his daughters thought they were not as important a part of his life as his boss, his title, his paycheck. All things that a young child could care less about.

People only judge themselves by their intentions. Every one else, they can only judge by their actions. So his daughter saw all the best days of the best years of his life going to a faceless “company.” How could she not think that company is more important than family?

Which is more important, your child or a television? Have you ever yelled at your child to be quiet because you couldn’t hear the television? Just wanted to throw that out there to show that I’m not picking on the corporate guys only.

If we want to influence people positively, we need to do it through actions. And we need to make sure that we are conveying the right message through our actions.

You cannot influence someone for the better through good intentions only.

There is a happy ending to that story about corporate couple X. They left the rat race and started their own business. Even though the hours were equally grueling, this was a family business. Since the husband and wife were now on one track rather than two individual tracks, their efforts became synergistic and before long, she was able to carve enough time out of their schedule that she could home-school their daughters (and have a third one along the way). They were willing to take drastic actions to prove that family is more important than “the company.”

To all you working class folks who want to demonstrate the same thing through your actions, turn off the television in the middle of a program when your child starts telling you a story.

Who has been influential in your life? Do they know it?


99% Committed = 100% Uncommitted

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Some thoughts on commitment:

  • Commitment creates time. There is no such thing as a lack of time, only a lack of commitment. Anything that we are committed to we will make time for, period.
  • Commit to something worthwhile. Most of us spend time on activities that no one will care about in a few years.
  • Commit to completion. If you are committed to a task or project, you don’t worry about the timeline. You will get it done. You will stay at the task and complete it.
  • Commit to excellence. When you commit to something, you give it your best effort. Leave it on the field. Throw your heart over the bar. You will succeed or die trying.
  • Commitment is all or nothing. If you are 99% committed to something you are 100% uncommitted. How great would your marriage be if you were 99% committed to your wife? Three days a year of infidelity should be enough to get your wife to leave you.

What in your life are you committed to?

Leave a comment

Be the 5%, Do the 5%

  • Overall, about 5% of people work in management and 95% work in labor.
  • In the typical church, 5% of the congregation account for nearly 95% of the tithes and volunteer hours.
  • Roughly 5% of Americans are entrepreneurs while 95% are employees.
  • Only 5% of people ever set life goals for themselves (and fewer than that ever write their goals down).
  • Only about 5% of people in the U.S., the most prosperous country in the world, describe themselves as “successful.”

I want to focus on that last point for now, and encourage you to be one of those 5%. The self-proclaimed successful people in life. Decide for yourself, right this moment, “I am going to be one of the 5%.”

The way to do that, is to do the 5%.

“What does that mean?” I hear you cry.

In church this morning the pastor explained the 5% rule:

  • 85% of what you do in your life could be done by anyone.
  • 10% of what you do requires some kind of training or expertise (probably your job stuff)
  • 5% of what you do in your life can only be done by you.

What did he include in that 5% category? Developing your faith, your marriage, your family, and your own personal growth.

When I say that you should do the 5%, I mean that you should expend your mental energy and creativity on the important things. Invest your time and effort into those things that only you can do. You will have a much more rewarding life, and become more successful not by the world’s standard of success, but by your own standard.

Develop a stronger faith, marriage, family, and self. Live with the 5%

What are some of the 85% things in your life that you can get rid of to make room for the 5%?


Urgent Vs Important

Urgent (adj) compelling or requiring immediate action or attention.
Important (adj) of great significance or consequence.

The most important concept that should be taught to young leaders, corporate execs, and anybody that wants to accomplish anything of significance in their lives is to finish tasks in the order of their importance. The problem is that many people confuse the urgent with the important.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Urgent things demand our attention immediately, but they may not be important in the overall scheme of our lives. That’s why the really important things, the things that will add value to our lives over the long term can get put off indefinitely; because they are not screaming for our attention.

When making your to-do list, prioritize your tasks according to this standard:

1. Urgent and important
2. Non-urgent but important
3. Urgent and non-important
4. Non-urgent and non-important

Completing your urgent and important tasks first is a no-brainer.

The hardest thing, will be deciding whether to handle the number 2 or the number 3 items first. When something urgent comes hurtling towards you, arms flailing, it will command you to take care of it right now Now NOW! It takes discipline, but before addressing this incredibly urgent and demanding task, ask yourself “is this important?” A question I ask myself is “will this matter five years from now?

If this urgent task that requires your immediate attention is something that can be delegated, rescheduled, or even ignored without causing you long-term harm, then ditch it. Take care of what’s important first.

Then the things that are neither urgent nor important, you work on those when you have absolutely nothing else to do. Watching television goes in that category.

What are some urgent tasks that seem to always pop up in your life?