Kaizen: Continuous Improvement For Personal Growth

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Lately I’ve been touting the benefits of small, incremental, but continuous improvements to my coaching clients, course participants and in my own life.

You see, I’ve spent a long time being a personal growth junkie. For many years I felt that if I wasn’t in the midst of some massive, Earth-shattering, mind-blowing, intensive growth phase I must be doing something wrong.

The problem with that approach to personal growth, as I’ve slowly but surely come to realize, is that it doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of energy to function effectively in the “real” world. And that just doesn’t work.

I started exploring the idea of continuous improvement a couple of years ago with this article on Split Testing for Personal Growth.

And if you’ve listened to my new audio program, Release the Money Madness and Unleash Your Money Magic, you know that I encourage you to choose just one or two personal growth tools and focus on them for two to three weeks before tackling the next one.

Well now I just got an email from Mark Joyner, the creator of Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want, which I highly recommend, by the way, that validates this idea of continuous improvement!

Mark has just released a new program called the Kaizen Club. If you don’t know what Kaizen means, Wikipedia says that:

Kaizen (改善, Japanese for “continuous improvement”) is a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life.

I was first introduced to the concept of Kaizen in the mid-80s when the financial services company I was working for decided to implement a Total Quality Management program and shoot for the Malcolm Baldridge Award.

We didn’t win, and the program was scrapped within 2-years after a cost of several million dollars! The culture in that company was just not open to the key ideas of Total Quality Management and Kaizen.

But even back then, through all my twenty-something angst and cynicism, I could tell that there was a hidden power in the seemingly simple concept of Continuous Improvement. I could sense there was a key to success, both in business and in life – although it would take me almost two decades to begin applying the concept in my own life and business.

Now Mark’s Kaizen Club makes it simple to apply the concept of Continuous Improvement in your life. I just wish he had created this program 20-years ago!

I’m going over there right now to sign up – the program just launched a couple of hours ago. I’m going to give it a try for the next week – there’s a 7-day trial. I’ll write up a full review then and let you know what I think. However, you might want to go sign up for the trial now because there are a couple of amazing bonuses that he may pull out of the bonus package.

And even if you don’t sign up for the Kaizen Club, consider how you can begin implementing the concept of continuous improvement in your life. What one small change can you make in your life that will, over the course of your lifetime have a significant impact?

Think about it and leave a comment below letting us know.

6 Support Systems To Put In Place Before You Need Them

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Personal Growth Support SystemsI’m still cashing in the chips from last week’s romp through the muck. I’m shoring up my foundation with the four steps I came up with on my Back to Basics day. And now I’m exploring some of the support systems that I can strengthen and/or put into place to accelerate my growth as well as minimize the impact of future weeks spent in the muck!Everyone has ups and downs. No matter how positively focused you are, how often you meditate, workout, or get a massge and no matter how successful you are, there are times when stuff just comes up and you find yourself struggling through the muck.

A common response to those times is to go into hiding. It’s been said that isolation is one of the biggest factors leading to the demise of many small businesses. Well it’s not limited to small business owners. It’s an instinctive response.

Way back when we were running around carrying clubs and grunting a lot, the most effective survival strategy when confronted by a large creature with sharp fangs was to find a small, dark cave to hide in until the creature moved on.

That response is still in us. Even though the creatures we face aren’t so big anymore and most of them don’t have sharp fangs our innate reaction is still to find a cave to hide in until it’s over.

Unfortunately, while that response served our ancestors pretty well, it is very rarely the most effective way to deal with the stuff that comes up now.

A much better approach is to come out of the cave and connect with others. When you feel your strength waning, tap into the strength of others. When the blinders of your old wounds close in tight around your vision, draw on the perspective of others.

Unfortunately, while most of us recognize the importance of having strong support systems I have found that very few people actually take the time and effort to put these systems into place.

So where do you start? Look at the list below. If you have some of these in place already, great! Are there others that you can add to improve the effectiveness of your overall support system?

And if you don’t have any of these systems in place, getting yourself a good coach and finding an accountability partner are two good ones to start with. Each of these is relatively easy to set up and get started, and they are easy to get out of if you find they are not working for you.

But whatever systems you choose, the key is to put them into place before you need them. Once you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the energy or will to reach out and create these systems.

So right now, when you DO have the energy and the will, begin taking some time each week to create support systems.

Here are Six Support Systems to get you started:

Get a Coach:

I admit it: I’m a bit biased. As a coach, I recognize the importance and effectiveness of having a great coach. A good coach will keep you focused on your goals and intentions and reign you back in when you’re spinning off in too many directions.

And when you’re having one of THOSE weeks, a good coach can bring perspective to your experience, open your eyes to the opportunities and lessons in the experience and help you zoom in on the most important items that must get done even if you’re not feeling like doing much of anything.

Join or form a mastermind group:

A mastermind group is an effective source of ongoing, consistent support. Masterminds are most often associated with business, but in reality a mastermind group can be focused on anything. Joe Vitale’s book, Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own “Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More explores many aspects of forming and running a mastermind. And Evan CarMichael has a site filled with great information about Mastermind Groups.

While starting a mastermind group can take a bit of time and effort, the benefits are well worth it!

Get an accountability partner:

An accountability partnership is a very powerful support systems. If you’re in business, you will want to have a partner for your business projects. But even if you’re not a business owner or entrepreneur, you can use an accountability partner for your personal growth, work/life balance, exercise or diet goals. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

My Monday morning check-in with my accountability partner is a highlight of my week. It catalyzes me to get clear on my top priorities for the week and what I am going to commit to for the week.

Join or form a Men’s/Women’s group:

Sometimes the muck needs to be dealt with outside of the business arena. It may be that there’s just a lot of stuff happening in other areas of your life and you need support for that stuff. Same-sex support groups are a very powerful environment within which to explore the stuff that comes up.

Forming deep bonds with other members of your gender is a missing piece for many people. As with the mastermind group, forming a men’s or women’s group will take some time and energy. But the long-term benefits are potentially huge.

Establish a relationship with a therapist or counselor you trust:

For many years I was definitely anti-therapy. My early experiences with mediocre therapists turned me off to the whole idea. But in the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with several truly amazing therapists. And I have definitely seen the benefit of having a relationship – whether ongoing or as needed – with one or more therapists.

The problem is that if you do not have a relationship with a therapist, when you find yourself swimming in the deep end of your “stuff” it’s usually too late to find a great one. A much better approach is to set up the system when you’re feeling good: Get referrals. Interview a few prospective therapists. And have a few sessions to establish a connection. Then, when you find yourself slipping down that slope, you’ll be much more likely to pick up the phone to schedule a session.

Get a mentor:

A mentor is defined as a wise and trusted guide and advisor. A mentor can often save you time and frustration by guiding you around obstacles they have already been through! This is truly one of the most powerful forms of support you can have. And, for many people it can be one of the most difficult to create. But if you already have several of the other support systems in place, this may be the next place to focus your attention.

So there you go: Six support systems that can help smooth out the bumps in the road and accelerate your growth during the good times.

Keep in mind that many of these systems can be “virtual.” I have never met any of the folks in one of my mastermind groups.

If you’re ok with virtual relationships a great place to start your search is on the new Personal Development Partners forum. There are some amazing people over there looking for accountability partners and forming Mastermind groups. You’ll also find some incredible coaches participating in the conversations. Go check it out.

And if you’re looking for non-virtual, i.e. local, “real” connections, a good place to look is on your local Craigslist.

Leave a comment below and let us know what support systems you already have in place. And what other systems do you use that I haven’t listed here? Share your thoughts below.

Back To Basics Day: 4 Simple Steps To Stabilize The Foundation

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When I was studying karate on the East Coast, from time to time the Sensei would have a Back To Basics Day. He didn’t call them that, but that’s what they were. During these workouts we would focus entirely on the most basic, foundational techniques. Often we would stand in a large circle and count off, doing literally hundreds of punches, kicks, and blocks.

In the early days of my training, if I could get through the avalanche of thoughts streaming through my 20-something brain, most of them telling me I was “too advanced” to be wasting my time on this stuff, I might actually get some benefit from those workouts.

Years later, after reaching the level of Shodan or first-degree black belt, I came to truly enjoy these back to basics days. By then, my brain had become much more cooperative and quiet and I was able to be present with the workout. In that state it was always amazing to recognize how much I still had to learn from and about these seemingly basic techniques.

Now as you may recall, last week was one of THOSE weeks for me. And whether or not Mercury being retrograde had anything to do with it and regardless of how many other people may have been going through a similarly bumpy time, the way I choose to turn last week’s bumpiness into a benefit is by finding the lessons and opportunities hidden in the muck.

And while I was poking around in that muck, the phrase Back To Basics came flying into my head. So apparently one of the lessons for me is to get back to the basics.

It’s a good lesson since I definitely have a tendency to get caught up in the excitement of new ideas and projects. And when I do, it’s very easy for me to forget about the basics that form the solid, strong foundation upon which any successful project will be built.

When those basic, foundational elements are missing or shaky, whatever “advanced” techniques or projects I’m building upon those elements will be just as shaky.

Not good!

So today, I had a Back to Basics day to look at what basics I might need to get back to. And after coming up with quite an impressive list (that I’ll be working through over the next few weeks) I narrowed today’s back to basics list down to these four key steps:

Buy a weekly pill reminder case:

Yes, I realize this isn’t all that glamorous. But personal growth is not always fueled by mystical experiences and epiphanies!

When it comes to supplements, I fall into the “I know they’re good for me but I can’t really be bothered” camp. When I do take them on a consistent basis, I definitely feel more energized. And it’s likely that taking them on a daily basis would smooth out some of the bumps in the road.

I do make an effort to take them every morning, but our mornings are often a wee bit crazy getting Ella ready for pre-school. And, if it’s I’m not on the morning shift with Ella, I often leaven leave super early for a hike or run in the forest. So I often forget to take them. And by the time I get home, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone taking my supplements!

So the solution I came up with is to get one of those plastic pill cases with a separate compartment for each day of the week. Yeah, sure I felt a bit silly bringing it to the cashier at Rite Aid, – “It’s for my mom, really!” – but hey, if it works…

So tonight I’ll fill in all the little compartments with my supplements and put it right in front of the bathroom sink where I can’t miss it!

Buy a Stainless Steel Water Bottle:

I KNOW that I need to drink more water. I’ve been told by my personal trainer, my wife (who happens to be a Naturopathic Doctor) and I’ve read LOTS of articles explaining how a large percentage of our fatigue can be directly linked to mild dehydration.

I know it. I get it. I just don’t do it!

Part of the problem has been the conflicting information about plastic water bottles. A few months ago I bought one of those nice Polycarbonate bottles because I read that they leached toxic stuff less than the soft plastic. But recently I’ve begun hearing that the soft plastic is actually better. So now, when it comes to plastic, I’m totally confused!

And I must be feeling some hesitation about drinking out of plastic because I’ve been leaving my water bottle on the kitchen counter rather than taking it with me. And that means I’m not drinking as much as I should.

So, today I bought a nice stainless steel water bottle. More healthy, better on the environment (I think) and it should get me to drink more water throughout the day.

I went for the 1 liter stainless steel water bottle by New Wave Enviro. My wife has had the nice Sigg Lifestyle Loop Top Water Bottle for a while. But I like the fact that the New Wave bottle can fit in a water bottle cage on a bike.

Back to 5:00 Am:

Let’s face it: Life Happens!

And when life happens, as it does, things can start to slide if you’re not paying attention. Way back when, at the start of my work with the Holosync System and my 30-day 5:00 am trial (and for several months beyond it) I was consistently getting up at 5:00 and using that first hour to meditate with the Holosync.

Well, I’ve slipped a bit. Somehow, over the past few weeks, 5:00 am has turned into “around 5:00.” And when I get up at 5:30 or 6:00 that doesn’t leave me with a whole lot of time before my daughter wakes up between 6:00 and 7:00. So I usually skip the morning meditation and try to fit it in sometime later in the day. More often than not it doesn’t fit!

You know… Life!

So my next back to basics step is getting back to a 5:00 am wake up time and meditating with the Holosync System at least three mornings each week.

Use Simpleology Every Day:

I find it simply astonishing how easy it is for me to NOT do something that I know makes my life run so much smoother. Just as I’ve slowly slipped away from waking up at 5:00 am, I’ve also let the Simpleology Daily Target Praxis drop out of my regular routine.

Remember that 20-something mind chatter I mentioned above? “You don’t need this. You’re way too advanced for this!”

Yeah right!

When I use Simpleology I get more done. It’s that simple.

When I fool myself into thinking that I don’t need it, I spend much of the day running around in circles, chasing my tail and trying to figure out which way is up!

Not good!

So my fourth Back to Basics action is to return to using the Simpleology Daily Target Praxis every work day.

Simple!

And there you have it. Those are my four back to basics actions. For the next few weeks, I’ll be focused on getting back into the groove with these basic elements and stabilizing my foundation.

What about you? Could it be time for a basics check up? Could your buildings use a bit of structural repair to the foundation?

Having a back to basics day can be a great way to catch any structural problems before they cause your entire building to collapse!

The 4-Hour Work Week Meme Roundup

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Back in September I asked the questions “What Would You Do With An Extra 36-Hours Each Week?” a question catalyzed by the book, The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it. The book is filled with truly out of the box productivity tips and insights that can help you get more done in less time (even if a 4-hour work week doesn’t appeal to you).

I posed the question, knowing that by taking the time to actually envision how we would fill those extra 36-hours would be a powerful exercise in creating a life with that level of freedom.

Over the last few weeks, there have been some wonderful entries outlining all the ways that those extra 36-hours will be put into use.

It’s been interesting to see the creative ways that people would fill their time. It’s also been quite eye-opening to realize that most of us have very similar thoughts. Here is a list of the most common ideas for filling up that extra 36-hours.

Creative Expression. At least half of the people who replied would use the time to be creative. Several people would write a book and there were a surprising number of musicians on the list.

Spend more time with family and friends. Another common theme was to spend more (Quality) time with family members and friends.

Exercise was another big one. Several people included “working out more” on the list. Some got specific including such things as yoga, rock climbing, a disc golf to name just a few.

Another big one was Sleep. They say that we’re a culture of chronically sleep deprived people. So adding an hour or two of sleep a night was a popular way to fill up those 36-hours.

Reading was also popular.  Jeesh, as if we don’t read enough with all of these awesome blogs!

And the winner of the “oddest” thing that someone would do to fill up their days goes to Adam Kayce. He would play more Quelf: The Board Game that Gives Random a New Name!

I highly recommend that you check out some of the posts from folks who played along. It was quite fun seeing what other people would do. And I actually found myself adding to my list when I found another great idea.

And if you missed the post back in September and would like to play along, write a post and I’ll add it to the list.

And if you did play and I missed your post, drop me a line using the comment form above and I’ll add you to the list.

So here is the list of participants.

Emily at Considering the Universe.

Gleb at Personal Development Ideas.

Aaron at Today is That Day.

Adam at Monk At Work.

Zoe at Law of Attraction For Inspired Living.

Lyman at Creating a Better Life.

Priscilla at Personal Development Demands Success.

Jeannette at the Law of Attraction Playground.

Karen at Live the Power.

Lorraine at Bring It On!

Judy at The Work Life Monitor.

Kirsten at Think Positive.

Marina at Sufficient Thrust.

Annie at the In-Debt Net.

SJ at Personal Development for the Book Smart.

Jamie Phelps

And a few folks left their replies in the comments of the original 4-Hour Work Week post.

What is The Single Most Powerful Force in Marketing?

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I just heard that Mark Joyner has something new up his sleeve. He’s been on a new product tear lately with the January release of the long-awaited Simpleology 103, the July release of his awesome new  7-Day Business Turnaround and now this new secret program.

And, he’s giving away this new program to 7-people! To be one of the 7 winners, just head over to his blog and leave a comment answering this question:

What is The Single Most Powerful Force in Marketing?

I’ve already left my answer. I won’t give it away here, but you’ll find it somewhere down around comment # 725!

And if you want a chance to win a complete Simpleology package that includes Simpleology 102, 103 and the 7-Day Business Turnaround, stay tuned. I’ll be posting the details on how you can win this package later today!

Also, keep your eyes open for my interview with Mark. We spoke for over an hour late last week, exploring a wide range of topics. I’ll be posting it as two (at least) podcasts. In the first one you’ll hear Mark share his thoughts on the Law of Attraction. It was very enlightening!

Outsource Your Life

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I finally gave in to the buzz surrounding Timothy Ferriss’s new book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Thanks to Dawud for the final push!

And I’m glad I did. It’s full of practical suggestions for streamlining your work life. (Watch for a complete review when I finish the book).

Last week, when I was about half-way through the book I got intrigued by the Outsource Your Life concept and did a little surfing to see what I could find. I came across this article by A.J. Jacobs. It’s hilarious! And, if you’ve been wondering what sort of tasks you might be able to outsource, it’s also filled with some very interesting options you probably haven’t considered!

If you’ve already read the Four Hour Work Week, you’ll recognize the article since Timothy excerpts a big chunk of it on his chapter on global arbitrage.

Go read A.J.’s article, and if you haven’t picked up the The 4-Hour Workweek, I highly recommend it!

And Now The REAL 7-Day Business Turnaround Begins

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If you were paying attention, you noticed that I ended last week’s series on Mark Joyner’s new 7-Day Business Turnaround after Day 3. Here’s why:

While I was on the community forum for the program I came across a post by Mark Joyner that said, in essence, You can go through the program on your own now, but keep in mind that, beginning next week, we’re going to be adding some serious rocket fuel to your progress.

When I read that, I decided to wait for the rocket fuel!

And last night’s call with Mark Joyner and Joe Vitale definitely provided some major fuel!

There was a great discussion about the Law of Attraction and the importance of taking action. One of the reasons I have always been “attracted” to Joe Vitale is because he is one of the best examples I have seen of someone who is integrating the powerful tools and processes of the Law of Attraction with concrete, inspired action.

The results he has achieved speak for themselves!

And I love that Mark Joyner, someone who clearly leans more in the direction of focused action, is willing to bring on a “Law of Attraction teacher” to help inspire and empower our journey through this 7-Day Business Turnaround!

So today, Day 2, I’ll be revisiting my plans for cutting the fat from my business to see if there are any other areas where I can reduce my expenses.

The Cash Injection Begins

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I’m on Day 3 of the 7-Day Business Turnaround program. Today I begin work on the Cash Injection for my business. The goal is to generate enough income in the next 4-days to cover two-months of operating expenses. This cash creates the “breathing room” needed to focus on the future growth of my business.

The biggest “aha” for me in today’s lesson has been recognizing that, in addition to my existing products and events, I have a huge amount of high-quality material that can be quickly turned into products.

Over the past 3-years I have recorded virtually all of my classes, teleclasses and group meetings. So I have, literally, hundreds of hours of recordings just sitting around waiting to be put to use!

Recordings from the early days, on microcassette, will need to be transcribed and turned into ebooks and articles. But for the past 2-years I’ve recorded my live events using a high-quality digital recorder. Those recordings could be edited and turned into downloadable and/or physical recordings. They can also be transcribed for article and ebook creation.

As a coach, I should not be surprised. But I’m still amazed at how a simple reframing through the catalyst of an outside perspective can point out what “should have” been obvious.

Now it’s back to the Day 3 lesson. And when I’m done with the lesson, there are some juicy sounding bonuses to explore!

Business Turnaround – Day 2

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Just finished the Day-2 lessons from Mark Joyner’s 7-Day Business Turnaround Program. Today is all about “stopping the bleeding.”

If your business expenses are out of control. If you’re drowning in debt. If you’re behind on payments, this is the day for you!

Fortunately, my business is not there. But, I’ve still found a bunch of fat to trim.

As I said yesterday, I immediately cut over $300 from my monthly expenses. With my work on today’s lessons, I’ll save a few more dollars, but there’s not really much left to cut.

And now I’m ready to move onto Day 3 – the start of the Cash Injection! It’s a good sign that the Day 3 lesson falls on Independence Day!

And, in case you’re thinking of signing up for the program, here’s a quick note from Mark:

Just a final reminder that all of this [the incredible bonus package] goes away midnight Eastern time tonight:

7-Day Business Turnaround Program

After that, the 7 Day kit will be available, but …

… The Chance to Get Live Coaching with Mark Will Be Gone

… Your Seat in the Coaching with Dr. Hudson Will Be Given
to Someone Else

And, it’s also very possible that we won’t offer it on a “trial” basis after this as well …

So, if you have a business and even a tiny desire to give it the new injection of life I *know* the “Kit” will give it, then you’ll need to move very quickly:

7-Day Business Turnaround Program

When the bonuses are gone they’re gone.

The 7-Day Business Turnaround Begins Today

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Begin Author’s Full Disclosure Notice:

I am an affiliate of Mark Joyners. Links to any of his programs in this, and other, posts on Evolving Times are affiliate links.

End Disclosure.

Last night, Mark Joyner’s 7-Day Business Turnaround Program went live. If you’re already a Simpleology member you probably noticed the new links to the Simpleology Intensives in the right column.

I’ve been waiting for this program ever since I heard that Mark had something new up his sleeve. Even before the launch I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of action. So you can bet that I was ready for this.

I signed up for the program last night within an hour of its launch so I’ll be getting the bonuses that Mark is giving to anyone who signs up within the first 48-hours. (I would have signed up without the bonuses, but don’t tell Mark that!)

Today, I have spent most of the day going through the Day 1 lessons, worksheets and videos. Day 1 is all about clarity: Getting clear about where your business is. No more “head in the sand” excuses when it comes to my business.

Here’s the bottom line: My expenses are too high and my income is too low.

Sound familiar?

Working with the program guidelines I immediately lopped $300 off of my monthly expenses (not bad for a couple hours work). And there are a few more items that I need to negotiate and/or dump.

The goal of the 7-Day Business Turnaround is to do a “cash injection” on your business so that, by the end of the day 7, your income is at least double your expenses.

That will be sweet!

Now that I’ve finished Day 1, I’m tempted to move on to Day 2. But I’m going to resist that temptation. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll jump into the lessons refreshed and ready to go.

I’ll be posting more as I go. But, because I truly believe in this program, let me give you a quick pitch before I sign off:

Mark has gone a bit a crazy, I think. He’s letting people sign up and pay nothing for 7-days. That means you can go through the entire 7-day program and if you don’t like it (or even if you do, but don’t feel like paying him) you can just ask them to cancel your order and they won’t charge you a dime!

This is definitely a business model that is aligned with the Law of Attraction.

Will some people take advantage of it and go through the program, reap the benefits and then cancel their orders?

You bet.

But you know what? A lot more people, folks like you and me, will sign up for this program, go through the seven days, and gladly pay for the program at the end!

And we’ll be the ones that watch see our businesses turnaround and take off!

Oh, and one more thing: If you sign up by tomorrow, those bonuses I mentioned are incredible. Mark’s going to lead a weeklong coaching class, personally taking us through the program. And, he’s also created two other intensives based on his best-selling books, The Irresistible Offer and The Great Formula.

I am totally jazzed about the Irresistible Offer Intensive! And they’re both included if you sign up by tomorrow. After tomorrow they’ll be at least $97 each.

Yes, I know, I may not be completely unbiased. But, if your business is in need of a cash injection, if you’re in debt, or just getting by, or even if you’re business is profitable but not thriving, I truly believe that this program can turn it around for you.

Of course it’s all contingent upon your willingness to do the work. If you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to go through the lessons, worksheets and videos, don’t bother.

We’ll all see, but I believe that at the end of the 7-Day Business Turnaround program I’m going to look back and say, “I was where seven days ago?”

Look, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you don’t have the cash flow that you want in your business, go sign up now, check out the program and all the bonuses for the next 7-days and if you truly don’t believe that you have benefited from it, just tell them to cancel your order.

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