We’ve still got a long way to go…

A month or so back, I watched the 1949 movie The Girl From Jones Beach on TCM. It was of interest to me because I’m a fan of the late actress Virginia Mayo. Plus, it was written by the acclaimed writer I.A.L. Diamond, who was movie legend Billy Wilder’s script-writing partner for many years and movies. The Girl From Jones Beach also starred Ronald Reagan, Eddie Bracken, and an actress by the name of Dona Drake. Drake was also a singer.  In the early 1940s, she toured across the United States under the name of Rita Rio  with her “All Girl Orchestra.” She was officially married to Oscar-winning dress designer William Travilla for 45 years, although they separated in 1956 after 12 years together. In The Girl From Jones Beach, she played Eddie Bracken’s girlfriend. From the above picture, you can see that Dona Drake was a very attractive woman. Stunning even. But everything was not as it seemed with Dona Drake. You could say she spent her entire career living a lie.  Pretending she was who she appeared to be, but not who she really was. Was she a reformed con looking to hide her past criminal record? No, and no. For her entire movie career, Drake passed herself off as being a Latino.  The resume that Paramount sent out about her said she was of Mexican, Irish and French descent and was born and raised in Mexico City. But it was a lie.  Drake was born to Eunice and Joseph Westmoreland of Arkansas. Both Eunice and Joseph were black. I can only imagine how stressful it must have been for Dona. Pretending you’re not really who you say you are.  Worrying that a gossip columnist would one day discover that the actress studios were hiring to play the girlfriend of a white actor was really a black woman. For whatever reason, the situation Drake faced reminded me of what Oscar-winning and extremely loveable actress Hattie McDaniel said when someone asked her if she was tired of always playing the part of the maid in movies.  McDaniel said,” I’d rather play a maid than be one.” McDaniel was following her passion and doing what she had to do to survive.  As was Drake. Today, there are still many people who, like Dona Drake, hide who they really are for fear of the repercussions.   And it causes them great duress.  Many even commit suicide.  They feel a future filled with nothing is better than a future filled with bullying and taunting. All they really need is understanding.  And love.  Two things that don’t cost anything and are so easy to give. Dona Drake passed away on June 20th, 1989, at the...

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16 Ways to Put More Enthusiasm in Your Work and Life

The year was 1907 … Frank Bettger received the shock of his life when his manager informed him he was fired from his Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Tri-State baseball team because he was too lazy. On his way out the door, his manager told Bettger to put some life and enthusiasm into his work. Upon reporting to his new team in Chester, Pennsylvania, in the Atlantic League, Bettger went from making $175 per month to just $25 per month. Unhappy about his demotion and his dramatic drop in pay, Bettger decided to take the manager’s advice to heart and inject some enthusiasm into his game. It wasn’t long before people began to take notice. He soon landed a position with the New Haven, Connecticut, team in the New England League. Inspired by his promotion, he made up his mind to build himself a reputation for being one of the most enthusiastic ball players in the league. The New Haven newspaper took notice: “This new player, Bettger, has a barrel of enthusiasm. He inspired our boys. They not only own the game but looked better than at any time this season.” Within 10 days, his enthusiasm had catapulted him from $25 a month to $185 a month. It didn’t happen because he suddenly became a better ball player – it happened solely because he added enthusiasm to his game. Two years later, an injury forced Bettger to give up playing ball. Bettger then channeled his enthusiasm into a 32-year-long successful sales career. He later wrote the inspirational book How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling in which he observed that … “Enthusiasm is by far the highest paid quality on earth, probably because it is one of the rarest; yet it is one of the most contagious.” Could you use more enthusiasm in your life? The benefits of living a more enthusiastic life can’t be overstated … You’ll have more confidence. You’ll be more productive. People will view you in a more positive light, which will open you up to more and better opportunities. Plus, you’ll experience more peace of mind at the end of every day. So how do you go about it? Here are 16 things you can do on a daily basis that will help you ignite enthusiasm: 1. To become more enthusiastic, act more enthusiastic – This is Frank Bettger’s number one enthusiasm rule. Bettger used to challenge people to put this rule into action for 30 days, telling them that if they did, it could easily revolutionize their life. Bettger says to stand up each morning and say the following: “Force yourself to act enthusiastic, and you’ll become more enthusiastic.” This quote from American...

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An unsung business hero soon to get her due?

He once invented a fish-powered boat. But not surprisingly, it didn’t catch on (no pun intended). The idea for the invention he’s known for today came from a paint can. The way the grooved lid created a tight seal that kept the air out and the paint in. In 1945, he turned his idea into a unique, innovative, and much-needed product when he invented the Wonder Bowl and what was to become known as the “Tupper Seal.” His name was Earl Tupper. And the product line he invented came to be known around the United States (and the world) as Tupperware. But that’s only half the story. If Earl Tupper were alive today, my guess is he’d like you to stop reading this right now. Because what I’m about to tell you, he wouldn’t want you to know. But even if you did, you’ll still hear about the person this story revolves around in a big way in the next two years or so (more about this in a minute.) Her name was Brownie Wise. She started as a sales representative for Stanley Products.  Stanley Products sold brushes, vacuums, pots, pans and cleaning products, etc.  However, they didn’t sell them through retail chains.  They did it through “home party selling” – having prospects invite friends and family into their homes and then demonstrating the various products to them. Brownie was good at it.   She soon became a manager. In 1948, after hearing about Tupperware from another Stanley star salesman, 18-year-old Gary McDonald, Brownie and McDonald decided to resign from Stanley and start selling Tupperware using the same home party selling methods. Both Wise and McDonald agreed, Tupperware was a great product, but it needed to be demonstrated to really appreciate the benefits it offered. In 1951, Brownie’s Tupperware order was late so she called up the Tupperware Plastics Company which was located in South Grafton, Massachusetts.  She asked to speak to Earl Tupper.  After talking about her order situation, she told Tupper he could improve his business if he stopped selling his product through retail channels and only sold his product through home parties.  Tupper was well aware of who Brownie was.  She and McDonald consistently sold more Tupperware products than his main retail channel the J.L Hudson Department store.   He agreed with Brownie’s recommendation. Tupperware Home Party Inc. was created with Brownie in charge. Brownie then convinced Tupper to buy one thousand acres in Florida which she soon transformed into a monument of salesmanship. Brownie’s business credo was “If we build the people, they’ll build the business.”  And that’s just what she did. In 1954, she held the first Tupperware Jubilee in Florida, motivating and inspiring Tupperware salespeople,...

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Ten pricing strategies that will pump up your profits…

Have you ever walked into a store, found something you wanted, looked at the price… And been flabbergasted when you found out how much money they were asking? It’s an experience that is commonly called “sticker shock.” And it’s the last thing you want your customers to experience. In his book How to Create Irresistible Offers, master copywriter Bob Bly lays out strategies to prevent sticker shock from occurring. Based on Bob’s ideas, I’ve put together 10 techniques to make sure you position the price of your product or service in the most appealing way possible… 1) The “Drop in the bucket” technique The idea is to show the reader that the amount they will pay is a drop in the bucket compared to the value they will receive. Bob uses this technique in the sales letter for his Copywriter’s Toolkit product.   Because many e-books are sold for between $9 and $29, he was concerned that his reader might think that $79 was a lot to pay for an e-book on freelance marketing. He does two things to combat that perception.  1) He points out that what he’s offering is not a standard e-book.  It’s actually a collection of forms, and; 2) He explains the value of the forms and how much money his readers will save. He starts by assigning a dollar value of $25,000 to the time he’s spent creating the forms.  (As a consultant, Bob charges $500 an hour.)  Right there, the value of his e-book immediately takes a big jump up in your mind.   He adds that if you’d like to duplicate these forms you’d have to pay a lawyer a minimum of $200 per hour. Here’s the actual copy Bob used:  (Note: In this version, Bob offers an additional $30 discount.) By the time Bob gets to the actual price, you’re no longer thinking this is going to cost between $9 and $29.  Your idea of its value has risen considerably. So when he reveals it’s only $79, you’re relieved that it’s so affordable.  And you’re even more grateful when you find out that you can buy it today for only $49. Here’s another example that follows the game formula Bob used in his sales letter to promote his E-Mail Swipe File program: How you can do it Before revealing the price of your product, focus on building up its perceived value. If possible, assign specific dollar amounts, so people understand the true value of everything they’ll receive for your asking purchase price. 2) Make apples to oranges comparison The idea here is that you don’t compare your product/service to a similar product/service.  You compare it to something that is related, but different. An...

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What to do if you see a caterpillar that has put itself in harm’s way…

As many times as I can each week, I go for a walk on a section of the Bruce Trail close to where I live in Ontario. Every so often I come across a caterpillar slowly making its way from one side of the path to the other. I always stop, gently grab onto it as it curls itself up into a circle, and deposit it out of harm’s way on the other side of the path. I’m sure you’d do the same thing.  After all, the more butterflies there are in this world, the nicer place it is to live. Big picture-wise it’s a small insignificant gesture (not to the caterpillar, of course, though she or he will never know it). Whenever a caterpillar crosses my path, I can’t help but think of the scene in the film Monsieur Verdoux, where Verdoux reaches down to pick up a caterpillar on the garden path and subsequently deposits it safely in a bush. He does this while the incinerator in his backyard is billowing smoke for the third day running.  Inside the incinerator, the smouldering remains of an elderly lady Verdoux recently married. One of the first “grown-up books” I read growing up was called My Autobiography written by Charlie Chaplin. I remember thinking to myself at the time that I couldn’t believe I was actually reading words written by the Charlie Chaplin. Looking back I know how silly that seems.  It was just a book.  He wrote it.  A publisher published his book.  I bought the book.  Nothing magical or unbelievable about that. But for me, my awe for Chaplin had elevated him to larger-than-life status.  And the fact that I had access to words actually written by the man himself seemed pretty wonderful. Monsieur Verdoux was released in 1947 when Chaplin was in his 58th year. Because of his prior suggestion that the United States should align with Russia to fight Hitler’s Nazis (coupled with his well-known leftist tendencies,) Chaplin had been branded a communist. Chaplin’s recommendation, as we all know, was exactly what transpired.  Together the U.S. and Russia successfully put an end to Adolph Hitler’s Germany.  A very necessary partnership. Chaplin being labeled a communist has more to do with times – the Red Scare/McCarthyism that was quickly sweeping across America – than the accuracy of the accusations against him. Chaplin’s public perception was not helped by the paternity suit brought against him in 1943 by actress Joan Berry.  (Although blood tests indicated Chaplin was not the father of Barry’s child he was still ordered to pay child support which he did until the girl, Carol Ann, was 21 years old.) So being that Chaplin’s popularity was not at its...

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The insult that changed publishing (and movie) history…

“I can’t believe you would be writing a book. You’re not serious enough to write a book.” Presuming you want to write a book, what would you say if one of your friends said that to you? Would you get mad and slightly depressed about it… Or would you use it as fuel to inspire you to greater heights? One lady chose the latter. She was so insulted that she gathered up her manuscript and presented it to Harold Latham, a MacMillan Publishing editor. He’d heard about this lady and her manuscript, but she seemed entirely uninterested in having it actually published. When he first spoke to her, she said she didn’t have a book. Upon further prodding, she admitted she had a book, but “it wasn’t ready to be seen.” It was only upon her friend’s slight that she decided to take action. When Latham finally did get his hands on her manuscript, because of its bulky and scattered nature, he quickly anointed it the worst manuscript he’d ever seen. Then she got cold feet and sent him a cable with the words, “Send it back. I’ve changed my mind.” But he refused. Because he’d started reading it, and he was hooked. The novel was published on June 30th, 1936. The reviews were extraordinary. In the first six months, it sold one million copies. This was during the height of the depression. And this, with the book selling for an unheard-of-at-the-time price of three dollars due to its robust girth (1,037 pages.) The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1937. According to a 2014 Harris Poll, it was the second favorite book of American readers, behind only the Bible. As of 2010, it had sold over 30 million copies. If you haven’t guessed, the person I’m talking about is Margaret Mitchell, and the book is Gone with the Wind. And to think it might never have come to light if not for a condescending remark. Have you ever used something like that to inspire you? Perhaps it’s the image of a friend you never really considered a friend who you always felt would take delight if you never accomplished a thing in your life… Or the words of an ex-boss are etched in your brain. The one who never had your best interests at heart. It can be a powerful motivator. It could be just what you need to work that extra hour, make that extra series of phone calls or get up an hour earlier each day. Because sometimes, to be successful, you need a little Scarlett O’Hara in you. You need to stand up with a fist clenched and say to the world...

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