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ASK MORE, GET MORE
HOW TO EARN MORE, SAVE MORE, and LIVE MORE ... JUST BY ASKING
By MICHAEL ALDEN
Emerald Book CompanyCopyright © 2014 Michael Sciucco
All rights reserved.
ASK YOURSELF TO THINK DIFFERENTLY
If you properly use your imagination it will help you convert your failures and mistakes into assets of priceless value; it will lead you to discovery of a truth known only to those who use their imagination; namely, that the greatest reverses and misfortunes of life often open the door to golden opportunities. —Napoleon Hill
WHAT MAKES YOU SO DIFFERENT? NOTHING.
My mother is HIV positive, my stepfather died of AIDS, my father was addicted to cocaine, both of my grandparents on my mother's side were hard-core alcoholics, and my brother Dominic spent most of his life "locked up" and eventually died of a drug overdose. One of my other brothers spent a majority of his youth behind bars for offenses that range from drug possession to armed robbery. Another brother was in rehab for a heroin addiction, and a close friend I grew up with is in jail for life for first-degree murder. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? Why have I had success? Why was I able to graduate high school, go on to college and then law school, have a successful career as a lawyer, and then become the CEO of a very successful marketing firm that generates millions of dollars?
People always ask me, what makes me different? How did I "make it"? Well, if you were to analyze our DNA, nothing would be different between my family members and me. What is really different is the way I think. That's it. I am not smarter than any other person. I was not lucky, and I wasn't given anything other than opportunity. Some would argue with me and say things like, "Well so and so had a disability, their DNA showed," or blah, blah, blah that inhibited their success.
Now here is the good news. My mom is doing great, and she is an inspiration. She was diagnosed almost thirty years ago but is still going strong. My father is also doing very well. He overcame a drug addiction and never looked back. My brothers are also finding their way and are destined for great things.
My intention here is not to shine a light on my own greatness or success—just the opposite. I am pointing out that if a schlub like me from a crazy family like mine (and I say that with love) can make something out of himself and have the kind of life I dreamed of having, then so can you!
I am no different than any other human being. I am far from perfect and, like everyone else, I have lots to work on, but I have programmed my mind to think differently, to ask questions in order to get more out of life. I want more out of life, and I am sure you do too. You just need to ask, and more will come!
"SO YOU WANT TO BE A CRIMINAL?" HOW I USED TO THINK—AND WHY I CHANGED
When I was at the pivotal age of fifteen, some thought of me as the poor kid who was also a punk. Some also thought of me as a troublemaker who was getting involved in criminal activity: stuff like shoplifting, fighting, and just being a bad kid.
My father many times would have me stay at his house on the weekends, even when I was fifteen. One weekend he took me to the beach and as we were walking he turns to me and says, "So you want to be a criminal?" He said it like a father might ask, "So you want to be a doctor?" I was shocked and didn't understand why he asked that. He then said, "Well right now, the things you are doing would put you into the class of a wannabe criminal and just a punk." He said if I wanted to continue to do what I was doing then we should make sure I was good at it. I was in complete shock. He told me he could introduce me to some people he knew: people who were actual gangsters, drug dealers, and other unsavory characters.
He then went on to describe what my life would be like. I would be constantly looking over my shoulder, maybe carrying a gun, and most certainly be in and out of jail. He asked me if I was prepared to be shot at, possibly killed, and most certainly incarcerated.
Recently I was working in my dad's garden, and I asked him if he remembered that talk. He said of course he did. I told him that that conversation changed the way I saw my future. I looked into the life he described and realized that it was not what I wanted. I thanked him for changing the way I thought about where I wanted to be in life at the time of that talk and in the future.
Whether you are someone who is in trouble with the law, not happy with your current living situation, or dissatisfied with your employment situation, ask yourself, where you sit today: What does your future look like if you keep doing what you are doing? Are you happy with the end result? If you are not happy, then the good news is that no matter what the situation is, you can change it.
MY BEST FRIEND AND HOW HE CHANGED HIS LIFE
But I say again: Do not put me up on some kind of pedestal because I was able to change my life. My best friend has a pretty amazing story as well. In fact it's astonishing that we are even friends at all, considering how we met.
When I was in eighth grade, I was jumped by a bunch of kids from the other side of my town. There were about four or five of them against me. The police came, the aggressors were arrested, and some were put into protective custody. One of them was a kid my age; his name was Kevin. Kevin grew up in very similar circumstances to mine, just in a different neighborhood. He hung around with bad kids, got into fights a lot, and was going down the wrong path. We were not friends and did not like each other at all. But we came to have something very important in common.
The day after the fight I was at home and there was a knock on my door; Kevin and his mom were standing on my front steps. As you can imagine, I was reluctant to open the door. But I did, and Kevin and his mom came into my house. Kevin's mom made him apologize, and she said something that was prophetic. She said, "Shake hands, and who knows? Maybe you guys will be best friends someday." We didn't agree but both shook hands.
Kevin went to the trade school within my high school. Trade-school kids were in a different wing of the high school and were also looked down upon by the other students. They didn't take regular classes and were considered dumb. Kevin was considered by many as a tough guy who was not the brightest bulb on the tree. I also thought that.
After we graduated high school, Kevin enlisted in the military. We always kept in touch, and Kevin had a successful career in the military. While I was in college Kevin was protecting our country. What Kevin learned in the military was invaluable; he learned that not only was he not dumb, but he was extremely smart. Whenever he could, he took classes while in the military to make himself better. After his service Kevin enrolled at the local community college. The interesting thing was that Kevin not only went full time, but actually took seven classes one semester. Kevin got straight A's for those two years of community college. The "dumb kid" from the trade school knew he was smart, but most everyone else didn't. After graduating, Kevin was encouraged by Harvard to apply for admission. Harvard! I remember talking with Kevin about it. It was surreal: the tough-guy, trade-school kid was now considering Harvard! Well, after much thought, Kevin ended up going to Northeastern in Boston because they had a strong criminal justice program. Kevin is now a very successful police officer in New York. He teaches firearms safety and tactical classes. Kevin, too, is no different than anyone else. He just decided he was going to think differently. Kevin made the decision that he wasn't going to succumb to negative thoughts and give in to what others perceived him to be.
Kevin's mom was right; Kevin and I became extremely close in high school, and to this day I consider Kevin my best friend. The tough trade-school kid who was also going down the wrong path knew he could be more, and that's exactly what he did. Kevin asked more out of himself, and that's what he got: more. More than anyone thought possible—and he just asked.
EMBRACE YOUR IMAGINATION AND IMAGINE WHAT YOU CAN HAVE—JUST ASK!
Have you ever heard someone say, "Oh, don't mind him, he has a vivid imagination," or "He has an overactive imagination"? Though there are many factors to success, I can't stress enough the importance of imagination. Your imagination is one of the most powerful tools available to the human mind. Encourage imagination, embrace it, and utilize it. There is no such thing as an overactive imagination.
Imagine this—what if Leonardo DaVinci's parents told him he should stop imagining things? Or what if Steve Jobs was told to stop imagining a better computer? Do you think we would have the Mona Lisa or the iPad if their imaginations were suppressed? Leonardo DaVinci built a robot in 1495. 1495! Steve Jobs modestly said he has never invented anything, he just imagined a better version of what was already out there. There were hundreds of MP3 players on the market before the iPod, but which device revolutionized the music industry? As a result of the iPod, the iTunes store was created and literally changed the way we listen to and pay for music.
When I was in fifth grade we built one of Leonardo's inventions: a parachute that looked like an inverted pyramid. It seemed like a ridiculous contraption and most certainly wouldn't work. But that didn't matter; we learned about gravity and the thought process behind building it. After we completed it we had the opportunity to stand on the roof of our elementary school and let it go to see what would happen. We had also made a traditional parachute to compare the utility of each. The point is, our imaginations ran wild as we thought about possibilities—the sky was the limit.
We always hear the phrase "think outside the box," which simply means use your imagination. I can't tell you how many times we've brainstormed creative and imaginative ideas that propelled our business ventures at my company. We solved so many challenges not by looking at our schooling, at our transcripts in school, or at our SAT, LSAT, GRE, or any other standardized test score, but rather by focusing our collective imagination to solve challenges and grow our business.
But most of all we force ourselves and others to see ourselves and our company as a success in every venture; we refuse to accept any other outcome.
WHAT IS CONTRARIAN THINKING? AND HOW CAN IT HELP YOU?
In case you haven't already figured out who I am—or, I should say, who I was—I was the kid who should have ended up in jail or dead. In fact when I was sixteen, my girlfriend's mother told me that's how I was going to end up. Maybe she said that to motivate me. But to be honest I don't think that's why she said that; I think she believed it.
Regardless of her intentions, that comment bothered me and has stuck with me to this day. That is what people thought of me! Jail or dead? Well I became determined to defy them and their predictions about me. And so I did whatever I could to change. I started to ask for more in the way I thought and the way I lived.
My cumulative grades in high school were horrible. My SAT scores were barely enough to allow me to play sports if I got into college. But, around the age of fifteen, I started to change the way I thought and also to change my social circle. It was a gradual process, and I had many missteps.
But when you look at my transcripts, you can see a gradual increase in my grade point average, and eventually there were a lot of A's and B's. I went on to be elected senior class president and captain of my football team. Due to my commitment to my academics coupled with my extracurricular activities and the support of my family and teachers, I was fortunate enough to get accepted into a couple of colleges. I eventually chose Springfield College, the place where basketball was invented, the YMCA principles were espoused, and where Dr. Seuss lived—the famous author who not only changed my life as a child but impacted the lives of millions of other children. Coincidence? I'm not sure.
When I first got into college it was a bit of a culture shock, and to be honest I wasn't sure if I belonged. But I told myself that I did belong and that I wasn't going to let myself down along with the countless other people who gave me the opportunities that ultimately opened the door to college. I had a decent undergraduate academic record, was respected by my peers and professors, and went on to be class president for three years before going to law school. I did all this by taking what you might call a contrarian view.
A contrarian is defined as a person who takes an opposing view, especially one who rejects the majority opinion, as in economic matters. The first time I heard the word "contrarian" was about two years ago when I was interviewing my good friend Dean Graziosi about his new real estate program. My infomercials are in an interview-style format similar to that of Charlie Rose.
Dean said, "When people are worried about the real estate market, they should think more like a contrarian." I had never heard the word and I just nodded my head and agreed with him. After the cameras were off, I asked him what it meant. He explained that his whole life, people told him not to do things because they didn't make financial sense to them. These people would say things like, "The real estate market is crashing; why would you buy real estate in this economy?" Dean just thought a little differently, and it has paid off for him.
Now in my advertisements on television for Ask More, Get More I take shots at real estate programs sold on television and say they are not easy. I point out that they work for a limited number of people, and I still stand by that statement. However, the difference between Dean Graziosi and many other so-called real estate gurus is that he really does this stuff. Every day he is actually buying and selling real estate and has done so for almost twenty years. If after reading my book, you want to dive into the real estate investment world and learn Dean's strategies, then go to www.deangraziosi.com and check out his program. I have met his students, and many have made a lot of money. Or if, after reading this book and going to Dean's site, you are really interested, go to my website, AskMore-GetMore.com, for a special discount on all of Dean's products and services.
Dean taught me something I already knew; I just didn't know the word for it. In order to be successful in life, you can't always go with the masses and do what you are supposed to do. During the Great Depression Howard Heinz, of the H. J. Heinz Corporation, built more factories, hired people, offered medical benefits, added product lines, and expanded outside of the United States. It was a bold move, and many questioned the decisions he made, but today Heinz is one of the largest companies in the world and sells more than just ketchup.
I am in no way in the same class as Heinz, but many times I make decisions or come up with ideas that some would say are crazy. I have found that in order to be successful, you have to think differently. It is more than thinking big; you have to ask questions that others consider crazy or stupid. But if you don't ask questions or push the boundaries you will never know the limits.
FORTY HOURS A WEEK
Arlen, a Brazilian in his mid-thirties, who cleans my office, speaks broken English. My office is roughly 20,000 square feet, and he is here seven days a week—my office is always clean. You can eat off the floor in my bathrooms. Many times when I am at the office at night, I enjoy talking with Arlen. He is always here, no matter what. Now, the interesting thing about Arlen is that he has a full-time job delivering supplies for a company that sells everything from gravel to sand and loam. One day he came into my office with a big smile on his face and said, "Hey, Mike, how many hours you think I had last week?" I asked, "At your other job?" and he said, "Yeah," so I guessed, "Seventy-five."
I was close; he worked seventy-seven hours the prior week, plus he was at my office every day.
I asked him why he had so many hours of overtime, and he told me it was because he was a producer. He went on to tell me how the other drivers don't like him, because they are paid hourly and don't understand how he outproduces them week in and week out, based on a forty-hour week. He told me that he averages twenty deliveries a day, while everyone else achieves ten or eleven a day.
Excerpted from ASK MORE, GET MORE by MICHAEL ALDEN. Copyright © 2014 Michael Sciucco. Excerpted by permission of Emerald Book Company.
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