Saturday, 25 October 2014

Beware of the foolishness of change for the sake of change

Change is great. We all love to see people try to improve things. Where would we be without adventurers and risk-takers? If you are in search of glory or wish to make a fortune, it obviously pays to be first. Nevertheless, during an economic depression, it can happen that early birds just get eaten first.

Prudence is crucially important

That does not mean that we should be sceptical about innovation, but only that, when money is tight, it is advisable to be extra careful. If you are running a business these days, you are probably watching your cash-flow like a hawk. Well done. My guess is that, right now, you need to make a major mistake like you need a hole in your head.

Managing a company in recession mode demands more of the ant than of the grasshopper in our souls. When the market recovers, there will be plenty of time for taking bold risks. In the meantime, a miser's frame of mind might be what you need to ensure business survival. In my view, in difficult times, one should keep in mind the following three principles:

Rationality is the way to happiness  
Go for the easy catch

If you are running a specialist service company in Minnesota, forget about the Chinese market for the moment. Chances are that you'll be able to detect better opportunities if you concentrate your attention on people next door. Transportation costs money and communication takes time. In times of deep economic trouble, I believe in focusing all efforts on the easiest markets and putting aside, temporarily, risky expansion ideas.
Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief
Deliver high-quality work

If you are delivering services, such as painting houses, what level of quality should you try to achieve? How often do you give grounds of complaint to your customers? If your answer is never, you are doing great. If not, that might be good news as well. Quality improvements, as perceived by customers, often involve negligible costs for business. Delivering impeccable quality saves you money. For this reason, during an economic recession, I wouldn't recommend launching new products with potential quality problems that might take you down beyond hope of recovery.
The 10 Principles of Rational Living
Spend money wisely

An economic recession blurs the line between fixed and variable costs, production and overhead. When money is tight, you need to take immediate decisions about where your cash is going. Evaluating every expenditure as an investment is a technique that brings about outstanding results. Is your inventory going to make you a profit within the next two months? Which steps of your process could be eliminated without negative impact for customers? In periods of crisis, one should eliminate investments in new technologies with long payback periods, since they might eat up the cash that you need to survive right now.

When you look around and see people going bankrupt, it is not unwise to become risk-shy. Before you explore new countries, take a walk down the street. Before you invest in new technology, make sure that you can afford it. Before you take additional cargo, stabilize your ship. One day, hopefully soon, the storm will be over and we will be able to go back to plain sailing, bold innovation, and massive expansion.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


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Rational living, rational working

How you succeed at one thing is how you succeed at everything

"Love goes towards love, as schoolboys from their books," wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Since the 17th century, times have changed to remain essentially the same. Is it not a force akin to love that moves customers in the direction of their favourite product? Or spectators to watch every game of their preferred team?
Rationality is the way to happiness 
The two primary success factors

Luckily for us, modern men and women, hundred of years of accumulated science have identified the keys to success in romantic and business undertakings. Is it not high time to proclaim that marketing wisdom has rendered Shakespeare's plays obsolete for didactic purposes?

Theatre might continue to exist as harmless entertainment for summer nights, but when it comes to learning dating and salesmanship, you are much better served by the teachings of hard science. Won't you agree with me that only fools would refuse to adopt a proven formula that knows no contrary views? Here is my condensed version of modern marketing truth:

When everything  fails, try this
1. A clear idea of what you want

An entrepreneur promoting a new product or service would be ill advised to walk around blindly trying to convince everybody he meets to make a purchase. Most likely, in that way, he would just waste his resources and make no sales at all.

Like in dating, efficient salesmen establish minimum requirements for their prospects. If you identify your prerequisites in advance, you will be able to discard quickly anybody who doesn't hit the mark. Draw a sharp picture of your target and focus your marketing energy like a laser.

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
2. Thoughtful persistence

Investors know that the best kind of assets are those who produce long-term compound growth with little risk. What you want to avoid is a situation where you must continuously shift your money from place to place. Even if you manage to make a decent return on your investment, the need to reinvent the wheel every day will leave you too exhausted to enjoy life.

Effective start-up marketing is about acquiring a few enthusiastic customers who tell their friends about the unique experience that you can provide. In the case of dating, it is even more important that uniqueness in the being goes along with consistency in the telling. From this perspective, dating is a one-number game and marketing is the same.

Anyway, should the scientific formula fail, you can always go back to classical theatre for inspiration. Marketing is, in a way, distilled philosophy, an almost exact discipline as you know, or as Shakespeare wrote in his most famous play: "Hang up philosophy, unless philosophy can make a Juliet!"

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


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Rational living, rational working

Friday, 24 October 2014

When it comes to personal development, rational ideas constitute the best tool

Opportunities are created every minute that news report a further deterioration of the economy. All sort of assets can now be bought at discounted prices.

Shares of excellent companies are on sale and pay a high dividend. Rental properties are on sale and it is still possible to get a mortgage at a reasonable rate. A two-week holiday to Greece has not been cheaper for a long time. Hundreds of small businesses are now also for sale.

Looking for a job? It is the ideal time to accept a package of shares (or other incentives) instead of a cash salary. Want to buy something and do not have money? Try bartering other items or services. There are plenty of opportunities around. Don't be afraid of the economic crisis. Relentless initiative, good sense, and a thick skin against pessimism will get you through bad times with flying colours.

Rational living, rational working
Passion requires resilience

Starting a new business? The passion to turn a product or service into a commercial success is the essential factor that determines the future of a new enterprise. Mistakes are inevitable, no matter how old and experienced the entrepreneur. This is why passion requires flexibility and resilience.

Is the selling price too high or too low? Are the distribution channels adequate for the product? Should the packaging be improved? What happens if we run out of money? To all these and other questions, the relentless passion of the entrepreneur is already weighing alternative answers.

Ideas are precious and constitute the basis of civilization. Without the concepts of free trade, freedom of speech, and human rights, our standard of living would rapidly collapse to medieval levels. Product development, production, distribution, and marketing are based on ideas. Entrepreneurship is nothing but a sustained vision driving the transformation of existing resources into more valuable products of services.

Rationality is the way to happiness
Lack of capital won't stop the dream

It is only new ideas that will take you forward, personally or professionally. Closed doors reflect fear of change. Keep you door open to new concepts and ideas. Some of them will be wrong and others will be annoying, but a few will bring about breakthrough improvements.

Lack of capital won't stop the dream, nor lack of contacts, nor massive ridicule. History shows the same story again and again. Scepticism does not need to turn to discouragement. Resistance and difficulties do not need to hit the ship under the waterline. Determination is the essential factor. Let it carry the day.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by L. Marie under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A simple strategy is all you need

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

In order to improve your life, you don't need to place your hopes on a lottery ticket or wait for the world to grant you the perfect opportunity. There is a better way and it is condensed in the principles of rational living, principles such as “think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader,” “ignore the noise and focus on results,” “stay away from high-risk situations,” “find people who share your values,” and “develop strong long-term passions.” 

This book presents the principles of rational living in great detail, with numerous examples of people who have applied them successfully. The principles of rational living are sound ideas that can dramatically improve your life. Learn all about them and start applying them today.


1. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader
A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times
Debating and arguing are a waste of time
The true believer is the one who preaches by example
Entrepreneurs thrive on trouble and inconvenience
Unlike resources, opportunities are infinite

2. Ignore the noise and focus on results
If one road is blocked, take another
How to keep calm when you are surrounded by nonsense
The effective way to handle work overload
Learning from people who never feel discouraged
A proven strategy against career stagnation

3. Live inexpensively and invest for future income
Why the stock market offers the best opportunities
Common traits of great businessmen and investors
What kind of companies should you invest in?
A simple strategy is all you need
Adopt a realistic and practical approach

4. Choose a simple and healthy lifestyle
Don't just eat well, eat wonderfully
What is healthy, tasty, and easy to cook?
How to reduce everyday risks to your health
Eating healthily when you are travelling
Is it possible to slow down ageing?
Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life

5. Find people who share your values
Why you should ignore most of what you hear
The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day
Overcoming the resistance to changing jobs and relocating
Don't be original, be unique
Proven strategies for building great relationships
Would you recognize yourself in the crowd?

6. Listen to your emotions, but check the facts
Beware of exaggerated romantic tales
In dating and cooking, choose natural ingredients
How far are you willing to go for happiness?
Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour
The short distance between infatuation and obfuscation
Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals

7. Accept the inevitable hassles of life
Putting an end to exaggerated fears
Extreme reactions are foolish and wasteful
In praise of caution and circumspection
Can you remain self-confident in times of trouble?
How impatient people become stoic philosophers
Never grant problems more weight than they deserve

8. Stay away from high-risk situations
Death statistics make great bedtime reading
Tranquillity seldom comes cheap
Do not make an obsession of the perfect profession
Three situations that you should avoid like the pest
Every archer needs more than one arrow
The jungle never sleeps

9. Acquire effective habits
An hour has sixty minutes, a day twenty-four hours
In praise of staying behind
How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties
Let go of the dead weight of prejudice
Smooth operators get more out of life
Personal effectiveness depends on patterns

10. Develop strong long-term passions
Comparing yourself with other people makes no sense
Don't drink the poison of contradiction
What heroes are made of
The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity
Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many
The link between integrity and passion

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The massive psychological advantages of entrepreneurial individuals

There is a Portuguese riddle that asks you to guess which being grows rapidly during its youth, takes 18 years to reach adulthood, usually lives to celebrate its 70th birthday, is able to survive adverse conditions, and produces sufficient wealth to feed a family.

In Portugal, a school kid who already knows the answer will smile at you and point his finger at a poster of an oak tree on the wall of his classroom. On the other hand, if you ask the same question during an evening course at a business school in Lisbon, students are likely to give you a different response. "What you mean is an entrepreneur," they will tell you.

Inherited behaviour models are crumbling in our midst. Old morality is taking the blame for current problems, although often through spurious argumentation. Never mind. Ethical decay has reached such an extent that many parents have given up all attempts to provide moral guidelines to their offspring.

Rationality is the way to happiness
Where are we headed? 

Should we just continue to chant the old incantations of our culture even after it has become clear that the melody is broken? I don't think so. I submit that an ethical model for the 21st century is brewing in old pots and casseroles: the sovereign entrepreneur.

Like the oak tree in the Portuguese riddle, the new species will reproduce and spread worldwide. It will survive a thousand years and open the door to a new era of tolerance and prosperity. What are the characteristics of this ethical standard?

The Philosophy of Builders
The capacity to withstand adversity

Through the ages, oak trees have taken root in most areas of the world, from California to Italy, from Argentina to South Africa. Even in unfavourable environments, these plants have grown stronger with each generation.

The willingness to learn

The internet is compressing more and more the time needed to acquire professional or business training. Forget about dragging along six-years at an expensive University. Instead, turn on your mp3 player and listen to lectures in your field of interest. How long will it take for sovereign entrepreneurs to learn their trade? Possibly, less than two years, which, by the way, is the average lifespan of oak tree leaves.
When everything  fails, try this
Adherence to universal ethics

Virtues such as flexibility, openness, tolerance, and honesty will render entrepreneurs sovereign of their fate and unconstrained in their business approach. In many cases, adherence to universal values will be preferred to identification with a specific country or culture. Oak trees have spread around the world on the basis of the essential characteristics of their species, irrespective of local accidents and fashions.

Despite massive efforts to foretell the future, nobody can predict accurately what is to come during the next years. Will we witness currencies collapse? Will major shifts in world economic flows take place? 

No matter how difficult the situation becomes, sovereign entrepreneurs constitute the species best fit to survive. When everything is said and done, wherever you live, you will always need to call up an expert to fix your toilet when it breaks down. That expert, you see, that's the person you want to be.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by neiljs under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

The 10 Principles of Rational Living