Learning from the Marines

Retired Gen. Tony Zinni knows what makes the Marines elite.
The U.S. Marines often draw the toughest duty.
They make up with brains and guts what they lack in numbers.
In Gen. Zinni’s “Battle Ready”, you will be struck by how Marine values apply to any team that wants to develop pride, professionalism and a competitive spirit.
Our son Mark gave me a copy.
It made me examine my own values.
Marines realize they are not vital to the nation’s existence.
Yet Marines offer unique values we admire and respect.
Values we can’t afford to lose.
Does that describe your team and the role you play?
Does your team represent values people admire?
Are these values we respect and can’t afford to lose?
We believe our little newspaper does.
We’re glue to hold our community together.
We celebrate the best and uncover the worst.
We allow citizens to keep an eye on their government.
We show if our officials are good stewards of our money.
We alert residents to crime and other threats to security.
We report on how well our children are schooled.
Gen. Zinni cites eight values the Marine Corps offers.
Would you like a copy of all eight?
Email me at
I hope these values will inspire you and your people.

How to Reach Peak Performance

My father encouraged me to practice the piano by telling me stories about the virtuoso Ignacy Paderewski.
“If I miss a day of practice,” the great pianist said, “I can tell it.
”If I miss two days, my colleagues in the orchestra can tell it.
”And if I miss three days, the audience can tell it.”
Even a nine-year-old child, struggling to master the keys with tiny but growing fingers, understood that story.
Of the gifts my father gave, among the best were his stories about successful people and what they demanded of themselves.
All of us have seen exceptional people achieve exceptional results.
In truth, they are all fairly ordinary folks like the rest of us.
Michael Jordan practiced at the arena hours before a game.
Tiger Woods, even after a tournament, was on the practice green.
Top performers put in hours of “deliberate practice”.
They set specific goals for themselves.
They solicit immediate feedback from coaches and mentors.
They constantly push themselves, stretching to reach higher levels.
Where does your passion lie?
Where do you feel compelled to excel?
What price are you willing to pay to reach that summit?
How committed are you to making that happen?
For more on reaching peak performance, go to:
Click on “Reaching Peak Performance”.

An underdog becomes a big dog

Myelita Melton thought she was headed for the big time in TV.
Then she lost two TV jobs, one after the other.
It wasn’t her fault. It was the economy.
Her no-count husband turned to drugs and crime.
She moved him out of their house. Changed the locks herself.
She filed for bankruptcy protection from his creditors.
Because she was bilingual, she had trouble finding a job.
Employers told her she was “over-qualified.”
Relax. Her story has a happy ending.
Using her language skills, Myelita started her own business.
She called it Speak Easy Communications.
She taught health care workers to speak Spanish.
She taught construction foremen to speak Spanish.
She taught professionals who needed it to speak Spanish.
She published Spanish language tutorials.
These books and CDs have turned Myelita’s life around.
They have made her a successful business owner.
What skills do you have that could turn your life around?
What skills might you acquire to make you successful?
For more about Myelita, go to www.speakeasyspanish.com
For more about Success Strategies, go tohttp://www.jerrybellune.com/success-strategies.htm

How much should you raise prices?

Raising prices on your products and services is necessary if the economy is inflationary or your suppliers have raised their rates.
For instance, in newspaper publishing, the paper mills have hit us with a series of price increases over the last six months.
That’s bad for our bottom lines.
Our subscribers and advertisers have to underwrite this added cost.
Your customers, clients and patients must do the same for you.
Unless you raise rates, added costs will erode your profit margins.
That could kill your competitive position and your business.
Ask your tax counselor how much he or she advises in raising rates.
Your counselor should figure this using the latest government-researched cost of living increases and your other costs.
Ask how much he or she is advising other clients to raise theirs.
For more on this, contact me at Jerry@JerryBellune.com
Next weekRewarding loyal customers.
For advice on lowering costs and raising revenues see “Doing More With Less: 73 Strategies to Cut Costs and Boost Revenues

Let go & others will grow

One of the hardest leadership attributes to master is “delegation”.

Someone on vacation or out sick? Guess who did their work? Sudden emergency? Guess who jumped in to save the day? I had to learn the hard way that I did not have to do it all.

Now our son Mark struggles much the same way.

We received a notice late this week that a local group will be at Eagle Aviation tonight to see off a contingent of sailors headed for the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. They will give each sailor a box of Girl Scout cookies. They will let them know that they are appreciated.

Mark feels compelled to cover their departure for our newspaper. He has a soft spot in his heart for military people. His father and his grandfather served their country.

Mark lived with the troops in Iraq in 2003, covering their deployment. He saw some awful stuff happen to good people over there.

I understand what drives him. He came by it honestly. It’s in his genes.

But, he doesn’t have to cover their departure this time! He has other good people he can assign to do it. And they will learn from the experience.

He has to learn to relax and let go. Only then can his people grow.

Easy lesson to talk about. Harder attribute to practice.

What say you? Send your comments.

By the way, if you have not yet voted, see our weekly poll below.

Why write a book?

I believe there’s a book inside all of us.

I just happen to have several in me impatiently waiting to get out.

Our son Mark, a highly talented journalist, interviewed me yesterday about my new book. It’s called “Your Life’s Great Purpose: Set Sail for the Adventure of Your Life”.

I thought you might enjoy part of the exchange between two journalists a generation apart.

Mark’s Q. What prompted the idea for this book?

A. Many of us are concerned over what appears to be a growing involvement among young people with drugs, gangs and violence. I started writing about making hard but good choices and choosing smart options back in January 2007 in our Success Strategies eLetters. The series talked about turning dreams into goals, planning your life in eight major areas — spiritual, mental, physical, family, community, financial, career and fun. People began to tell others about the series. Our subscribers rose to 3,000 plus and is still growing. We are discussing adding additional eLetters on Leadership, Smart Business Practices and Marketing and Sales.

Mark’s Q. What do you hope the reader will take away from reading this book?

A. A recognition of their God-given talents, skills and opportunities, a realization of their great purpose in life, a plan for the future, the determination to succeed in all that they want to achieve, to live an exciting and adventurous life and the decision to build and leave a legacy for a better world. That’s what I’m trying to do in my own life and I want to see more people have that opportunity.

Mark’s Q. How did you research this book and what personal learnings do you share with the reader?

A. The book contains many personal stories and many other stories that friends have shared about their own lessons in life. I feel that I have been researching this book for more than 50 years, thinking about my own mistakes and what they could teach me — and about a few personal triumphs and successes that suggested I wasn’t a completely hopeless klutz.

Mark’s Q. Were there any stumbling blocks in creating this text and how, if so, did you overcome them?

A. The writing was the fun part. I would get up many mornings at 2, 3 or 4 a.m. and go down and crank up my laptop because God was talking in my head and telling me to go write. When I would sit down, I felt I was in “the zone” and He was guiding my thoughts and my fingers on the keys. I am not a particularly mystical or religious person so this may soiund strange coming from me. But I knew He was showing me the way.

The editing, design and formatting of the book was less fun but I knew it had to be done. If I ever get where I can contract this part out to someone else, you can bet I’ll seriously consider it.

If you are interested in this book, an eCopy is available athttp://www.jerrybellune.com/. We plan to make personally autographed print copies available as soon as they arrive from our printer in the next few weeks. They make great graduation, birthday or wedding gifts, if I may modestly say so.

How to beat inflation

If you are a consumer, you may not want to read what I’m about to tell you. But if you’re a business owner, this is imperative to staying solvent in business.

You must raise your service rates or product prices annually.

As your costs rise, you must pass this along to your customers.

Here is the advice I’m offering business owners on Ruth King’s Internet ProfitabilityChannel.com in my weekly Essential Entrepreneur Business Tip of the Week.

These tips are based on my new “Doing More With Less: 73 strategies to get you and keep you out of the red” at my websitehttp://www.jerrybellune.com/

If you’re a retailer, do it at the start of the fourth quarter when consumers are in a buying mood.

If you are in a service industry, do it at the start of your busiest season. For instance, pool installers and landscapers should do it in the spring.

Gift shops should do it before Mothers Day, one of the busiest gift giving times of the year.

Mom’s worth every penny. Sorry, make that dollar.

On Friday, we’ll talk about how much to raise prices.

Creating giants

Here’s a great leadership thought passed along by our friend and fellow editor Bill West.

It’s from Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

Think about that in terms of what the Kansas Jayhawks did to what may have been a more talented Memphis team in the NCAA finals last night.

Despite 17 turnovers and trailing by three huge points in the last 2.1 seconds, the Jayhawks believed in themselves, did not give in and came back with Mario Chalmers’ clutch three-point shot to drive the game into overtime.

Was this just another example of the game’s unpredictable nature?

I don’t think so.

In the locker room before the game, Kansas Coach Bill Self told his players that for the rest of their lives, wherever they went and whoever they met, they would be reminded of this night and how they performed. He did not need to say more.

Look what this simple philosophy of leadership did for Sam Walton and his people who were running what is basically the old Five & Dime store on steroids.

It made Sam and his family one of the wealthiest in the world and Wal-Mart into a giant among businesses.

What kind of giants might we create when we help our people believe in themselves and that nothing — I mean nothing — can stop them

A winning chili recipe

How long does it take to win anything?

Frankly, I don’t know. But I do know that persistence counts. We’ve competed in the West Metro Rotary Club Chili Cookoff for three years. The first two years we didn’t even place.

Mark and I figured something had to be wrong with the judge’s taste buds. When we cook chili for our newspaper staff, everybody goes back for seconds. Family and friends rave about our chili. Could they be prejudiced?

This year we started with our basic recipe but added a twist. Did that do the trick? Wait and see.

Here’s our chili recipe if you want to try it:

Chronicle Chili Masters’
Award-Winning Chili
5 lbs. lean ground beef
3 lbs. bulk pork sausage
3 large cans crushed tomatoes
6 16-oz. cans chili beans drained
2 16-oz. cans black beans drained
4 large heads garlic peeled and halved
Chili powder to your taste
Ground cumin to your taste
Cayenne pepper to your taste
3 cans beer (your choice)

Here’s what you do with all that stuff:

1) Brown pork sausage in large Dutch oven or stew pot. 2) Add ground beef and brown. 3) Lower heat to simmer and drain most of liquid into a large cup. 4) Place in refrigerator or freezer until fat hardens. 5) When fat hardens, remove fat and pour remaining meat juices into pot. 6) Add tomatoes and beans to meat. Raise heat to medium. 7) Add peeled and sliced garlic. If you are not a big garlic lover, cut garlic to your own taste. Don’t be afraid. As the garlic cooks, it turns sweet and soft as butter. 8) Add chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. We use 4 oz. chili powder, 3 oz. cumin and 1/2 oz. cayenne. 9) Pour 3 cans of beer in the chili. Pour the other 3 cans in the cooks. 10) Bring heat up to cook off alcohol and some of the liquid so the chili isn’t soupy. Serve with a dressed green salad, hot garlic bread and sweet iced tea.

Now, back to the chili cookoff… It rained monsoon rains. I know all about monsoons; I spent 16 months in the Far East where it really rains. Standing ankle deep in water, we heard the judges’ decision.

The Chronicle Chili Masters had won the Civic Class. People flocked to our booth. The chili started going fast.

How long does it take to win anything?

This took three years. Next year, we have to defend our title.