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Mindconnection eNL, 2003-07-17


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In this issue:

  1. Brainpower tip
  2. Time tip
  3. Finance tip
  4. Security tips
  5. Health tip/Fitness tips
  6. Updated problem-solving course
  7. Thought for the day


1. Brainpower tip

Every now and then, a group comes up with something brilliant. Of course, we're not talking about a group in the government--notice the word "brilliant." How do groups do brilliant things--or anything at all?

In group dynamics, you can see one of four situations unfold:

1. Authoritarianism takes hold. A single person dominates the group, and expends some intellectual capital on getting the others to go along. Result: The group is never as bright as its most persuasive member. For an example, look at the past two CEOs of K-Mart.

2. Democracy takes hold, and all members expend intellectual capital trying to get the approval of the others. Result: The best the group can hope for is being a bit less bright than its average member. As our founding fathers warned, democracy is far from desirable and does great harm. For an example of how it works, just observe an angry mob.

3. Egalitarianism takes hold, and all members sacrifice intellectual capital to ensure everyone in the group is "equal." Result: The group will never be as bright as even its dimmest member. For an example of how this works, just observe the public education system in the USA.

4. Mutual respect is the norm. All members see the other members as having something to contribute, and they see some members as more talented than others. Everyone sets aside pride and personal insecurities for the good of the group and its goals. Result: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and each individual is greater than s/he would have been without that group. For examples of this, look at nearly any military unit (though part of the government, not run the same way). You can also look at nearly any group that is accomplishing great things. Chances are, this is the dominant model they are using.

Just as massively parallel computers can do far more than a single computer, so can individuals working together accomplish more than any individual. But the key here is working together. You may be involved in a group where the individuals are working toward some other end--such as acceptance. If so, you can turn that around. Start recognizing individual talents within the group. Ask people if the group exists to accomplish mission X, or if it exists to make everyone feel better without accomplishing the mission.

Ask people to set aside petty concerns of ego and instead elevate themselves through accomplishment. Most people, if given the chance, will go for accomplishment--the military proves this time and time again. Treating people with respect and dignity tends to make them set aside their "vanity pride" and instead take up their "mission pride." The more you help people see beyond themselves, the more the group can accomplish.

I want to close this tip with a commentary you might consider political. I consider it a matter of national survival. A famous politician and advocate of better working conditions for violent criminals recently released a work of fiction that has made it to the top of the non-fiction charts. Her concern her whole life has been "what's in it for me." If you ignore her rhetoric and listen to what she actually says, you see an insecure person who needs power and adulation--regardless of the cost to others.

She has never made a rent payment or mortgage payment, so she doesn't have a clue what that obligation is like for anyone else and yet she believes less individual wealth (via higher taxes and spending) is the right thing for America. She has had armed guards her whole life, so she doesn't understand why ordinary Americans oppose being disarmed. She has been chauffeured for her whole life, and she doesn't understand the stress of a "soccer mom." In fact, she had daycare provided for her child free of charge by the state--her concept of "it takes a village" is pure fantasy and her accounting of it is pure fabrication.

This person would have you believe she is an ideal candidate for running a major group--such as the federal government--but her world view is limited strictly to herself and her own pathetic needs. Beware of such people--see the four scenarios above, and choose wisely.


2. Time tip

The true measure of life is not in the number of breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away. Well, the saying is something like that.

I recently "failed the test" to be chosen as a speaker on time management for a sales organization. In a phone interview with the CEO, I remarked that many people think of time management as a matter of multi-tasking, and that isn't it. He was incredulous. "Listen here, my sales people have to multi-task!" Then he went on to tell me how they had to service X accounts in Y time, etc. Clearly, he knows nothing about sales or time management. But, he had his mind already made up and he wanted a speaker who would parrot his own dysfunctional views. That is exactly why his organization was having the problems it was having. He was focusing on activity, rather than results.

In most multi-tasking situations, you end up doing neither activity well. Let's look at two scenarios.

One. Jim is a real multi-tasker. He was making 8 sales calls per day, but when sales slowed down he figured out how to make 9 sales calls per day. He's on his cell-phone constantly, when he's driving--and frequently loses calls in the middle of a conversation or sales pitch. He rushes from client to client, and they all know how busy he is. You are one of those clients. You find it hard to get Jim to depart from the script, and he seems to always be glancing at his watch and considering his next move. He seems harried rather than efficient. He doesn't know your business and doesn't seem to have time for you.

Two. The extent of David's multi-tasking is that he listens to sales tapes or rehearses his next call while driving. He makes a point of calling on only a few clients each day. He arrives at each one fresh and full of energy--and attention. You are one of those clients. And you like David. He asks many questions about your business, has a habit of saying, "Show me," and his presentations are smooth and confident. When he has another appointment scheduled later in the day, you are seldom aware of that--it's as though his whole universe is focused on you.

Which one of these salesmen would "take your breath away?" You can see that the CEO who decided my material wasn't right for his sales force made the wrong decision. I have no doubt he will lay people off and get a bonus for doing so.

The example here is sales, but the concept applies to everything, including interpersonal relationships.

In most relationships, we give each other the surface treatment. This is a waste of time, and a waste of the relationship.  Don't give people the surface treatment. Plan and prepare for the engagement. Think ahead of what you can do to take their breath away. Hint: This usually involves something that makes it seem as though your universe focuses on them while you are interacting with them. When they mention something important to them, ask for more information--show a real interest.



3. Finance tip

Mortgage bankers are offering "sweet deals" right now. But, many of these are not as sweet as they look. Don't be misled by just one factor--such as the interest rate. A loan at 4% can be more expensive than a loan at 5%, even with the same term.

To evaluate a loan properly, look at the size of the monthly payment times the number of payments. That tells you the true cost of the loan in straight dollars. It's not the whole story, but it levels the playing field for comparison.


  • But, what about the term? If I can stretch the term to 30 years rather than 10, with the same total cost, isn't that better? It might be. But, it might not be. You should always be able to get better terms for the shorter loan, so if the loans are equal then you have missed a bargain somewhere in the 10-year loan world.

  • Aren't ARMs a rip-off? That depends on the ARM and the situation of the borrower. Most people are in their homes for only 5 years or so. Match your ARM to the time you plan to spend in your home, and you'll get a much better deal than you would with a fixed-rate mortgage. The best situation is an ARM within a fixed-rate. For example, a 7/10 has a 7-year ARM inside a 10-year mortgage. This particular type of loan is very, very hard to beat because you have a 3-year fixed following a long ARM. I have yet to find a better deal for someone who plans to stay in a home long enough to recoup the refinancing fees (typically 2 to 3 years), but it may be out there.

  • What about the time value of money? The longer the term, the better--right? Well, that is a good question. When you consider that the USA has had poor economic policies since the mid-1950s (we started seeing mass layoffs in the late 1950s and that trend has not abated since then) and those policies have--over the years--moved into the realm of the insane, the right question to ask is "What about deflation?" You can no longer assume a dollar is worth more today than it will be in the future. The "pay it back with cheaper dollars" strategy assumes deflation won't exist. Nor can you assume you will have a higher disposable income in the future--most likely, your income (in real dollars and in disposable dollars) will decline. In general, relying on the time value of money as a rationale for not paying down debt is an unsound practice.

  • What about taking cash out to pay off my bills? Hey, if you want to risk foreclosure in an era when the home price bubble can suddenly pop, that's your decision. But, I can't advise you to do it. If you can take out enough cash to pay off a certain bill--for example, a car loan--and then rearrange your finances so you are eliminating a high-cost loan and then use the new cash flow to pay down your mortgage, then this makes sense. But, taking out cash just so you can spend it or just so you can pay off a credit card bill without correcting the behaviors that made that bill large in the first place--that is pure folly.



4. Security tip

Any graduate of a driver's safety class knows that if you are stopped in traffic and can't see where the tires of the vehicle in front of you touches the pavement, you are too close. Sadly, most people are so close to the car in front of them they can't see the bumper.

In addition to general safety, this is a security precaution. In a carjacking situation, a car stopped in the proper position relative to the car in front of it can usually drive off.

Yes, 33 states have a right to carry law (note: carry ear plugs with you!). But, that kind of protection should be a last resort.

Most carjackings involve a lead car and an back car. It works this way. The lead car stops suddenly and if you are following too closely you have very little distance between it and your car (tip: maintain your 2-second following distance at all times). Or, it is simply in front of you at a traffic light, as the driver knows most people are awful drivers who stop too close to the car in front of them. The back car then pulls right up on you.

You are boxed in--unless you have that space in front of you. Rather than be forced into an armed confrontation (in the 33 "don't make a victim" states) when one of the drivers starts hammering on your window, you can simply drive off and report the involved cars to the police--who may actually apprehend these folks.

Use space as your first line of defense.



5. Health tip/Fitness tips

A man recently contacted me about his fitness program. He'd been trying to lose weight, but was really struggling with it. At 5'4" and 260 lbs, he was at roughly 50% bodyfat. We got to talking, and I discovered he'd bought into the lie that eating protein causes you to lose weight (by that, he meant body fat). This isn't true.

Of the three macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein), it takes more calories to use a given amount of protein than it does to use any of the other macronutrients. But, that doesn't mean adding protein will cause you to lose fat. Adding protein simply increases the overall calorie count, causing you to add body fat.

If you were to cut back on fat and carbohydrates in favor or protein, you might see a reduction in bodyfat. But, you need fat and carbohydrates to burn bodyfat. And, a diet that is highly skewed toward any one of the macronutrients may cause the body to conserve calories or prefer lean muscle tissue to bodyfat as a fuel source.

You can experiment with the macronutrients such that you have a little more protein and a little less of the others. That may lead to some results. The exact ratios are not predictable, for reasons that should be obvious--for example, the demands on the body vary and so must the fuel.

What I advised this man to do was stop farting around with unproven techniques that do nothing more than serve as excuses for overeating. Instead, I told him, cut back on total calories. He is now eating three small whole-food meals a day, and eating one-half a packet of VitaPro between each meal to control calorie intake. He reports that the VitaPro "is very filling" and he now has his caloric intake under control. Let's analyze what's going on with him:

  • Old diet: 2500 calories plus 500 calories worth of protein shakes = 3,000 calories a day.

  • New diet: 1600 calories (meals at 2/3 of former size) plus 280 calories of VitaPro = 1880 calories a day.

  • A moderately active person at 160 lbs needs about 2200 calories a day to maintain weight (this is a long-standing figure every dietitian and personal trainer works with).

  • A pound of fat is 3500 calories.

  • This man now has a 300 calorie deficit every day, rather than an 800 calorie excess. Not enough to put his body into calorie-conserving starvation mode, but enough to cause a nice steady loss of fat--about 2.5 pounds a month--until he reaches 160 pounds. At that point, he'll need further modification to get down to a weight that suits his height and build.

  • Note that he will drop nearly 30 pounds of fat a year with no extra exercise and without going hungry. The VitaPro is integral to this plan, but he will need to buy it only 6 times a year.


 This VitaPro reference was valid at the time, but now years after this eNL was produced an even better product is Optimum Nutrition's Complete Protein MRP. Discontinued in early 2015. Why? Because competing products are sugary crap and people bought into the mind manipulation dishonest advertising instead of looking at what they were actually buying and then making an informed, intelligent decision. So this one just didn't sell to enough people.


6. Updated problem-solving course

We have recently revamped our problem-solving course, drawing on the services of an outside expert. It is four times as large as its predecessor and packed with excellent information. However, we aren't raising the price until next week. So, order it now. If you don't like it, simply tell us why and we'll refund your money.

But, it gets better. If you simply let us know you are ordering it as a result of this eNL, we will credit you with $10 off the $29.97 purchase! Just e-mail a quick note after you purchase it, and the charge will reflect that huge discount.

And it gets even better! If you ordered this course before, let us know. We'll verify that order and send you the revamped version for free!


7. Thought for the Day

Few things happen by accident. What are you planning?


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola


The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.

Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.

Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).

The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).

Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

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