Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Usefulness of Flexibility in Communication Strategies

A couple of Sundays back, my friend Steve and I were sitting in LP Field, enjoying watching the Titans playing the Rams, when two young ladies sat down next to me, followed by a young man. At first, I thought they were all friends, as the young man was so chatty, but, within a few moments, I could tell that while the young ladies were close, they had only just met the young man ... and were not interested in getting to know him.

Chattypotumus: (After trashing ex-girlfriend for dumping him) Maybe you two could teach me about girls!

Lady #1: (Staring at football field) Sound of crickets chirping

Lady #2: (Crosses arms and turns away from him.) More chirping.

Chattypotumus: What do you say?

Lady #2: Turns so that she is staring at the side of my face, with her back to the guy.

Lady #1: I don’t know anything.

After disappearing for a few minutes, the young man returns with a few beers.

Chattypotumus: (Extending a beer to each lady) I got you a beer!

Lady #1: I don’t want one.

Lady #2: If I want a beer, I will go get one myself. It’s too early for me …

Chattypotumus then takes off on a riff about his lousy experience with women, especially how mean his ex-girlfriend was, salting each and every sentence with “MF-this” and “MF that.” The more he talked, the more each lady pulled within, staring straight ahead.

It would have been quite entertaining, if it weren’t for the demonstrable discomfort of the ladies. As we left at halftime, I have no idea what happened to Chattypotumus. My guess is that it had something to do with a drink being poured over his head.

What amazed me was how oblivious the man was to the body language that was screaming Leave Us Alone. His ex- probably had to be brutal, as it was the only way to get through his thick skull.

What I would have liked to have said to Chattypotumus is this: If you keep doing what you have always done, you are going to keep getting what you have always gotten. If you want something different from what you always get, you need to do some things differently.

If you have ever gone down in flames during a conversation … Congratulations! Unlike this young man, at least you are aware of the fact that you didn’t achieve your outcome. This is huge, as you won’t change directions if you don’t see you are headed the wrong way. The next thing is learning to see early warning signals, thus, changing directions and escaping the Surface to Air Missile.

What is the outcome of your communication?

Chattypotumus’ outcome was to make friends with two young ladies.

What is your strategy for achieving the outcome?

Chattypotumus’ strategy was to believe and, therefore, to behave as if these two ladies were waiting with breathless anticipation to be gathered into the glory that was his world.


Noticing what is working and not working, you begin changing your strategy until you see/hear/feel that you are back on track.

In a New York minute it was clear that his strategy was taking him in the opposite direction. What did he do? Doubled-down, going backwards even faster.

What could he have done? Shut up. Regroup. Gather his thoughts. LISTEN. Make a few innocuous comments about the game, paying attention to what interests and disinterests the ladies. Ask questions --where are you from? where do you work? – all the while seeking, to some degree, to create an atmosphere of trust. After all, you aren't going anywhere if you don't have rapport.

Remember: if you see you aren’t going in the direction of the intended outcome of your communication, CHANGE STRATEGIES!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Luke 2

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Source of Self-Acceptance

I gave up on self-acceptance, years ago. Yup, forget that impossible dream. Today, it is more a case of seeking to loathe myself less than I did yesterday. Okay. I jest. But there are days …

Anyone with even a remote degree of self-awareness struggles, from time to time, with self-acceptance. After all, you know your weaknesses, foibles, issues, and failures better than anyone else. How in the world are you suppose to accept yourself knowing what you know, eh? And if you are exposed to the constant Chinese water torture of advertisers telling you that your skin, teethe, body-type, hair, cuticles, weight and innards are all screwed up and, Lucky For You, you can be healed for 3 monthly payments of only 29.99, it’s a wonder more people haven’t opted for checking out how things are in the afterlife.

So, how do I go about affirming my Self, accepting my Self? Do I need to recite, mantra-like, “You are wonderful … you are a creation of God … you are fearfully and wonderfully made”? Well, that may help a tad but, for many of us, all that happens in this case is we hear another voice saying, “Liar … you are a piece of excrement and everyone knows it.” Actually, I think this is where so many people take off on a Long and Winding Road that leads to nowhere. I wonder if you can only accept your Self after another has first accepted you?

Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way:

The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist … If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist” – must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI

The love of another—most importantly one’s parents—but, also, of friends and significant others goes along ways toward helping us accept ourselves. What an amazing gift it is for an individual to see you in all of your glory and garbage and (still) say, “It is good that you exist. I affirm you, I appreciate you … I love you with my entire being.” Does anything touch us, move us, inspire us, or humble us as deeply as this does?

Think of those people who have never experienced such love. The black hole that resides in their soul, because of the lack of affirming love, keeps them from loving others as they could, keeps them from trusting others, restricts their ability to be vulnerable to others. When we encounter people who are hard hearted, calculating and manipulative what we need to do is see beyond the exterior into the soul that needs to be touched by affirming love. Sure, deal wisely with their behavior, but through it all, wherever possible, extend the power of love.

And what of those who have had such love and then lost it? What if the parent chooses to no longer say, “It is good that you exist. I affirm you, I appreciate you … I love you with my entire being”? What if the friend or significant other who saw you and loved you turns and walks away? As great as the gift was, the wounds caused by the loss can be psychologically crippling. Which leads me to this ...

What we are celebrating during the Christmas season is God’s affirming love Incarnated in his son, Jesus. This is the only sure foundation for self-acceptance. This is the Love we want to allow into our souls. This is the Love that leaves us saying to ourselves, “If God is for me, who can be against me? Whatever wounds I experience in this life, whatever rejections, whatever pains I suffer, none of it can overwhelm or conquer the infinite and inexorable Love of God.” Talk about instant Self-Acceptance!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Early Birthday Treat

Me and my friend Steve, standing
out in front of one of my favorite
Nashville Hotels, The Hermitage.

Obviously we are off to see
the Titans -- playing the Rams.

Steve let me wear his
Chris Johnson jersey, whom I
had never seen play before today.
Mr Johnson goes from zero
to lightening fast in less than
a second. I swear the guy
has some wort of warp drive.

Not bad seats, eh?

Where else but the in the South
can you eat a Turkey Leg at
a football game?

I know: photos from phone
kindasuck but it was a
great day of fun.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It was a chilly 35 degrees yesterday morning
when I walked to the train station up
from my apartment and off to airport,
headed to San Diego.
I love the cold and was quite
ticked off when I heard I was headed
away from a predicted snow
into sunny climes!

Eight hours later I was pulling up to
the Glorietta Bay Inn and stepping out
into 65 degrees with not a cloud in
the sky. O well, it is beautiful here.

Am here for Board Meeting of
Children's Hunger Relief Fund.

Walked across the street to the famous
Hotel del Coronado and
walked along the beach.

View from my deck.

The Powers That Be at the Coronado
decided to dig up one of its beautiful gardens
and put in an ice stating rink.

Christmas Tree in lobby of
our Hotel.

Moon rising above our hotel.
(All photos taken
with my iPhone)

It is now Saturday morning,
and I see that Atlanta did not
have any snow. Good. I can
stay focused on our meetings
rather than being ticked off
about missing out on my
favorite weather patterns.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Faith is Not a Talisman

As usual, I began the day with sipping on a huge mug of espresso and watching ESPN. When I turned the TV on an interview was already in progress. It was with an 18 year-old young man from the US playing professional basketball for an Israeli team. Not sure what happened: maybe he couldn’t get into a college in the US or he figured he wasn’t going to learn anything anyway so why not go gain some experience playing as a pro. I dunno. Anyway—

The interviewer asked the young man if, living in Israel, he ever felt anxious about his security. No, he replied. Why? Because, he said, I am walking where Jesus walked.

Not any safer place to be.

No siree.

In all respect to the young man’s devotion, I wonder if it has occurred to him that Jesus was crucified in Israel. And what about all those martyred Apostles? Evidently God’s plans don’t always include health, wealth and Michael Jordan-esque stats, eh?

Faith is not a talisman. Faith is not about trusting that I will not get hurt or whatever. Faith is about trusting in God for his best … knowing that sometimes what's best is for me to “fall” or “fail.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor -- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks -- for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation -- for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the tranquility [sic], union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed -- for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed -- to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn [sic] kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord -- To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease [sic] of science among them and us -- and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York
the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789
George Washington

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Greed: Bah! Humbug!

During an interview to puff his new movie, A Christmas Carol, Jim Carrey decided to join the long line of knuckleheads that are blaming capitalism for our nation’s present economic crisis:

“I was thinking about it this morning, how this story ties into everything we’re going through,” says Carrey, who, thanks to the technology, plays Scrooge as well as the three ghosts haunting him. “Every construct we’ve built in American life is falling apart. Why? Because of personal greed and ambition. Capitalism without regulation can’t protect us against personal greed."

As Mark Steyn points out over on one of National Review’s blog sites, "The Corner," if the guy was all that troubled about the consequences of capitalism he could have stayed in Canada and made movies for the State owned production companies for 3 or 4 hundred thousand dollars per movie, rather than going to Hollywood and being paid 20 million per movie.

Greed is a very difficult thing to spot, as it purports to look into the hearts of men and women and accurately discern their motives.

Is every wealthy person and business tycoon guilty of greed?

Is greed the only possible motive for doing what they did in achieving their success?

Is acting in your best self-interest synonymous with greed?

And so what if these people are greedy? If the law says, “You can’t lie, steal or force me to buy your product,” then whatever these people are doing can only be accomplished through voluntary arrangements.

I think that when people today rail against greed what they are often saying is this:

I see a need that I believe must be met.

You have “plenty” of money and, therefore, must meet that need.

Your refusal to do so tells us that you are a greedy person.

Of course, from here they begin demanding that the government confiscate the greedy person’s money and give it to the needy. However, has any of these people ever stopped to think about who or what will defend us from a greedy government? Are governments, which are made up of people Just Like Us, immune to greed? No, they are not. And what makes their greed most dangerous is that they are not restricted by voluntary arrangements.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Wanna Be Your Dog from LEGS on Vimeo.

An interesting and disturbing "take" on casting calls

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Laura!

Where else would a goddess
pose but at a Temple, eh?

Laura never spoke baby talk or gibberish.
Her first words were spoken from her highchair:

Get Me Down,

Thus announcing
who was in charge

from then on.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

My one regret in life is that I am not someone else. Woody Allen

For the longest time I was intrigued by and a bit jealous of those people that appeared to have their lives all mapped out. “In five years I will be here; in ten years, there; and, in fifteen years, at the top of the heap.” While their career path looked like a highway with signs that read, “In two miles you will be turning onto the Yellow Brick Rd.,” mine has been more like a snaking pathway through a dense forest enveloped in foggy mists that swallow you up and never spit you out.

“How in the heck did I get here?”

“Maybe I should have gone there.”

“This is not even a pathway … is it?“


“I took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference,” (Frost) sounds so romantic and adventurous when you are twenty, but after a decade or two you begin wondering if the reason your road is less traveled is because no sane person would ever freely choose to walk this way.

Fact is, however, even those people zooming down a well-lit highway are often wondering if they are wandering.

“Do I really want to go here?”

“What difference is it really going to make if I don’t go there?”

“This is a fairly wide road … maybe I am headed toward destruction?” (Matthew 7:13,14)

My guess is that when most people evaluate their journeys they wrestle with would’a-could’a-should’a, imposter syndrome, and other such second-guessing brought on by self-doubt. After all, not being gods, none of us are perfect or omniscient. This is why our journeys—the quests we engage in—are acts of faith, not certainty.

I have come to believe that, at the end of the day, what matters most is not so much what path we chose, but who we are becoming while we traverse our chosen paths.

Are we giving ourselves to what matters most? (And what, he asks, “Matters most”? Why faith, hope and love, of course!)

Are we constantly educating ourselves in great ideas and values?

Are we caring for our bodies and souls?

Are we seeking after the God who is Love, Light and Life?

So, whether you are zooming down an interstate or crawling along a path through underbrush, don’t become so focused on the destinations for which you aspire that you lose sight of the one that is taking the journey… for what does it profit a man or woman who arrives at the Yellow Brick Rd with a shriveled up soul?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"How Wonderful!! How Noble!"

Over the thirty-five plus years of my work with charities around the world, I cannot even begin to recount all the times I have heard people say to me, “How wonderful! How noble!”

Okay. But without the donors there is no charitable work. Someone had to generate (read: earn) that money, before it was donated to the charity.

It seems to me that the men and women who work so damn hard to earn the money that they, then, give a percentage of to charity, are all too often left out of the accolades: “How wonderful! How noble!” And even when the donors are praised and thanked, it is with nowhere near the depth and intensity of the gratitude given the charity. And this, I believe, is wrongheaded on at least two counts:

From the perspective of the charity, it is counter-productive to not give sincere and full-hearted praise to its donors. Why? Long-term donors are those who see and feel themselves to be part of the team. They have a kindred vision with the charity and its leaders—e.g., as with the charity they support, they want to see poor people fed or the sick cared for or the children educated. If donors are not made to feel a part of the team, they will find a charity that will do so.

But, to my way of thinking, a larger problem is the gradual undermining of the concept of the nobility of work and the pursuit of success in our chosen careers. When people are constantly made to feel like second-class citizens or worse, like evil-greedy-bastards, because they are out in the marketplace earning a living while the really good guys are in Africa caring for orphans, or in pulpits preaching, what happens?

They begin to believe there is something less-noble or even morally reprehensible with generating wealth, thus undermining their zeal for success which, in turn, hurts us all via fewer jobs, smaller donations and, egad, a shrinking tax-base!

One of the tenets of the Protestant Reformation was the sacredness of all callings: that the blacksmith’s work was as “holy” as that of the priest’s, which would include the High Priests of today, politicians. It was this mindset that shaped the foundations of Western Civilization, unleashing the potential of men and women of all gifts and callings to serve God faithfully, and with their heads held high. In short, there aren’t any second-class citizens whose contributions to society are somehow less valuable to God.

So, when we make people feel less-than because, rather than sweating over orphans in Africa, they “merely” send charities a percentage of the rewards of the sweat of their brows, we are not only undermining the foundations of civilization, we are denigrating what God calls “holy.”

Or so I believe …

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Training in Nakuru, Kenya

Our focus in this training was the need
for these entrepreneurs to continually Be Aware
—to Pay Attention—
of their surroundings, businesses,
customers, selves, and, of course,
for opportunities of increasing their cash flow!

As I have explained before, these are not
seminars where teachers download information
into the brains of participants, leaving them with a
notebook full of data that they
will probably never use.

What we offer are experiential training modules
that breathe life into the training content.
These structured experiences focus on
making learning fun, easy to access,
and have a longer retention factor

A profound point,
profoundly made ...
I hope!

For example, at the beginning of the training,
I walked up to the front of the room,
and proceeded to unload briefcase, move chair,
play with camera, adjust tripod,
and a so forth and so on.

I then turn to participants and
instruct them to write down everything
I just did ... in the precise order I did them.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to be paying attention.”

“I didn’t now the training had formally begun.”

Welcome to real life!

Not wanting to have other's think
that their question was elementary or
"stupid," questions would often
appear written and lying on a
table in front of the room!

Here, Davide is addressing the question,
"How do you know when it's time to
shut your business down?" This
led to a lively discussion regarding
Why Are You In Business?
Answer: (Altogether now)

Amos Manyara is the Director of
Farming Systems Kenya,
the organization that facilitates and oversees our
micro-enterprise loan program.
(The photo I took of Amos was so blurred
you couldn’t even tell if it was of a
human or not. Think: Denzel Washington
with a MBA.)

Amos had this to say about our trainings:

“The training approach has been quite different
from the conventional seminars approach
but is yielding more than we expected,
as it trains people to think outside the box,
questioning things that have not been working
and eliciting the beliefs and attitudes that would
create the desired change. Initially it looked
after the first and the second training tremendous
results and changes in the ways of doing things
amongst the trainees have been witnessed.”

Notice the multiple usage of the word “strange”!
Much like here in the States, Kenyans are
accustomed to a classroom setting and structure
where they hear a speech, take notes,
and go home. Our contention, however,
is that unless there are the necessary
adjustments to mindsets
—beliefs, attitudes, psychological states—
the skills being “taught” will never
be as effective as they could be.

As Amos notes, it is the trainings
coupled with the micro-credit
that is fueling the success of the program:

“The FSK’s micro- credit program
has grown since last year.
To date we have over 150 entrepreneurs
who are receiving credit from the program.
Credit coupled with trainings is making
a big a difference in the lives of the entrepreneurs.”

Over and over again, Davide and I heard
testimonies as to how past trainings
had equipped the young entrepreneur
for the success they were now experiencing.

Did I mention that over 95% of the loans
are being paid back on time? Amazing stuff!

One of the keys to success here is
letting go of the fear of Being Wrong,
and Making Mistakes.
When you have a culture that
is defined by Risk Aversion
it is no wonder that so few
experience success in business …
or in relationships, for that matter.

Motivating the participants to
stand up,
show up,
and risk having others thinking
you are wrong, foolish or arrogant
is one of the keys to preparing these
men and women for future success.
And man-o-man do they really
get into showing up,
once they see how critical it is to all of life.

The second training was with business
leaders and CEOs of NGOs there in Nakuru.
Part of the motivation for offering this training
was to begin creating a network for our entrepreneurs
that would provide wisdom and opportunities
to expand their customer base.

The theme in this training was
Discovering Possibilities for Success Through Crisis.
Not only is Kenya experiencing the same economic
downturn as the rest of the world, but
is also suffering through a terrible drought.

Our conversation centered on paying attention,
the need for increased sensory acuity,
and the importance of managing the
story you are telling yourself
as to the “meaning” of this crisis.

Does the story you are creating
shut down faith and hope?

Does the story you are creating in your mind
open up more personal resources
or shut down any thought of
your being able to not only weather
this crisis
but find opportunities for success?

The feedback from these
business leaders was very positive,
and they are already contacting Amos
as to how we can proceed in the future.

This is such an incredible project:
rather than merely passing out
food and medicine,
actually providing people
with the wherewithal
to support themselves ...
with the goal being
that they will never ever again
need the help of some
or NGO.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Samaritan Group: The Usual Suspects + 2

Cj and his dad, Colonel Doner,
listening to reports

Mike Bresnan
Mystic Revolutionary

Karnak the Magnificent

Wally McCall with our newest
member, Betel Lopez, CEO and Director
of Emmanuel Ministries in
Juraez, Mexico.

What I really like about this photo
is that, if you look closely, that
is Colonel speaking into Wally's ear ...
Wally, have you checked the numbers on ...
Wally, call the Germans ...
Wally, what's happening with the CFC for ...
Wally ... Wally ... Always Wally ..
Can't ... get ... him ... out ...
of ... my head. ARRRGH!!!

The other new member of our group,
JR Young.
We decided it would probably be
helpful if we had an adult
on Board. Okay, Wally is an adult
but she is more like a Dorm Mother!

Derek and CJ
Derek is like a brother to me
(and one of a number of Uncles to CJ)

Last Lunch: La Playa Hotel

Joseph Spiccia (on the left). It
feels as if we have been friends
for most of my adult life.
Come to think of it ... we have!

Joseph is doing the heavy lifting of
streamlining structures, processes, and policies
for the various organizations.

What a place for a wedding!

I have been tied up
(not as exciting as it sounds)
so haven't gotten to the report on
our trainings in Nakuru.
Promise to have it up by Wednesday
of next week.

Sunrise on Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nakuru: Micro-Enterprises

Back in Nakuru, Kenya,
and its magnificent Lake
Nakuru, and the thousands
of beautiful white and pink

The first day was spent driving around
visiting people that have received
some of our micro-enterprise loans.

We wanted to hear and see first hand
what these loans have helped these
people to achieve.

The very first person we visited was
Elizabeth Nyambura,
who, as it turns out, is probably
going to be our Poster Person
for what can happen when you
get capital into the hands of people,
train them,
and offer ongoing advice
and council.

Well, in Elizabeth’s case, she is the
one now giving advice and counsel
throughout her small village
outside of Nakuru.

With her first loan, Elizabeth purchased a cow.
It was obviously a Cash Cow, because,
with the profits from the milk she sold,
she managed to support her children,
construct a water tank,
complete with piping from
a water source up the hill
2.5 miles behind her house,
No, she didn’t hire anyone
to lay down the pipe:
she did it herself,
with the help of her 10 children.

Elizabeth is a widow.

Not long after doing this,
Farming Systems Kenya,
who oversees our mirco-enterprise
program in this area, chose Elizabeth
to be part of its dairy-goat program.

With this goat, she was able to sell 7 kids,
thereby paying for a daughter and son’s education,
constructed an iron sheet roof for her kitchen
(replacing the grass thatched one),
and bought another goat and 2 kids.
Her flock is now at 18 goats.
The milk from these goats
supports her family, and especially,
the ongoing fees for educating her children.

O, did I mention that she
also has 30 acres of corn
and sells honey from
her bee- hives?

As you can see, the corn is
parched from the draught the
nation is experiencing. Amazingly,
Elizabeth smiles and simply
looks around for other avenues
for generating cash.

Next up, Elizabeth Wangui Ng’ang’a
Here with her husband and daughter

Elizabeth owns the local hair salon.
Given the severe drought that Kenya is suffering,
her business now barely provides
for her family’s monthly needs.

She applied for a loan, from which she
began purchasing indigenous chickens,
which brings higher profits from
eggs and meat than exotic chickens.

From a loan of just over $200
she purchased 30 chickens,
and has a goal of 70 more.

Being a forward thinking person,
she used part of the loan to erect a fence
for her chickens, so as to deter any
temptation of thievery,
and to better control what the birds eat.

Always on the look-out for
new ways to generate income,
Elizabeth charges around
ten cents per charge.
While most of the people
in her village have cell phones,
few have electricity.

John Kiiru. No, this is not John: it is his wife.

As John was off purchasing fodder for his cow,
I took this photo, expecting to take one of him, later.
When we finally sat down with him, I became so
enthralled with his passion for dairy farming
and being an example to the members of his church
(John is the pastor of a local church),
I forgot to take a photo.

John was in our training last year
and couldn’t thank Davide and me enough
for how the “attitude transformation” jettisoned
him toward the success he is now experiencing.

Having $250, John attained a loan for $800
so that he could purchase a Holstein.

Within a month this beauty
calved down and, with selling
around 20 liters of milk per day,
he was able to pay off his loan with ease,
while providing for his family.

He is now in the process of receiving
another loan to purchase his next Holstein.

Anthony Maina Gethi.
Anthony was off generating income elsewhere,
so his wife was tending the store.

With a loan of around $500,
Anthony expanded his stock,
which enabled him to provide for his family
and pay off the loan (he only has
two more payments),
in spite of the severe
economic conditions in Kenya.

Anthony says that through our training
on transforming mindsets regarding possibilities
and opportunities for success,
as well as how to create rapport with customers,
he his been able to attain and
maintain a loyal customer base.

(Photo is lousy. Sorry about that.
Probably should have put on
my glasses.)

Two of Anthony’s friends, Dickson Mwangi and
Ibrahim Ndungo, witnessed his success,
received micro-loans and started
own grocery stores close by.
Within a short time,
other people also started businesses
through micro-loans, and,
we now have a strip mall!

A profound example of the shift
in mindsets that are occurring in our trainings
was when Ibrahim offered us a Coca-Cola,
free of charge.
Rather than being need-based
—I am poor, I need a loan—
Ibrahim saw himself as having value,
receiving value,
and now offering added value,
thus generating even more value.

His offering us a free coke was
not about showing gratitude,
but, rather, a mindset that knows
if you offer added value
you will continually generate value.

One of the encouraging things about
this trip is seeing the tangible results
of our trainings.

Poverty is a mindset.

Wealth is a different mindset.

While there are certainly people
around the world who are struck down
by horrendous events such as typhoons and war,
overall, people are quite often poor
because of the consequences of their choices,
which are guided by systems of belief and attitudes.
Help these same people make the
requisite changes in their mindset,
teach them some skills,
and offer them an avenue for attaining capital,
and the results are simply amazing.

The children here have seen
very few Muzungu (Roughly
translated: White Guy, although
I have also heard it meant
Wanderer, as the first White Guys
were explorers. Then again,
I have also heard it means
Taker-over'ers! But the latter
could be a redaction...
Not that it isn't accurate,
mind you!)

One of the younger children
saw me ... and took off
screaming. I called them
into the grocery store
where I bought them all

White Guys are not all bad!"

I held my camera waist high
... and then ...

"Hmmmm White Guys
are tricky."

I depart Nairobi for Atlanta, later today.
Will be home one day, then
off to meetings in California.
I will be posting a report
on our two trainings in Nakuru

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

AKA Ziva David on NCIS, about the only show I watch when I am home ... other than ESPN and FOX News' Red Eye. This was from season 6. Ziva rocks, as Mossad assassin on loan to NCIS. And who knew that Mark Harmon's career would last longer than playing Morgan Fairchild's husband in the soap opera, Flamingo Road?

How many of you knew that Mark Harmon is married to Pam Dawber? You know ... Mindy ... as in Mork & Mindy?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ayn Rand: Speaking From the Grave!

In response to my last blog, two of my readers sent me (the first two cited here) quotes by Ayn Rand (1905-1982), to which I added some of her other bon mots ...

Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.

Individual Rights
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.

Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.

Every man is free to achieve as far has he's able or willing, but the degree to which he thinks determines the degree to which he'll rise.

Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is it Greed ... or Success?

Okay … I am headed to airport today and off to Africa. As I haven’t had time to follow up my post on Consumerism, I thought I would at least address some of the questions that came via e-mail. While most of the notes were very supportive, a few people were wondering why I didn’t come down harder on “the sin of greed.”

There are plenty of spiritual gurus out there holding forth against greed. It’s an easy target to hit, and a highly popular one to boot, as who among us can be “for” greed … other than Gordon Gekko, that is.

If by Greed people are referring to an obsession with acquiring material goods without working for these goods--without exchanging value for value—or to that spiritual malady where individuals value things above God, I say, sure, greed is evil: It is a psychological and spiritual cancer that sucks the life out of our souls. However, it appears to me that today when people denounce greed they are, more often than not, referring to those individuals who have spent years mastering their skills, have superior decision-making processes, have sacrificed sweat and sleep for years, and are now enjoying the rewards of their labor.

Financial success is not proof of greed or that others have been cheated or otherwise abused. On the contrary, in the majority of cases, wealthy people acquired their wealth by being quite good at serving others.

As the war against consumerism is usually a war against freedom of choice, I think much of today’s blather about greedy people and corporations is actually a war against both individual wealth and freedom to pursue your own happiness.

One e-mailer writes:

“But Monte, we must sacrifice for the common good. Shouldn’t other’s come first?”

I don’t even know where to start here.

The fact is that all of these greedy executives and corporations have provided millions of jobs, isn’t that all for the common good of America? Moreover, when these people—usually politicians—talk about sacrifice they obviously aren’t volunteering their wealth to help out the poor. I mean, have you seen the average percentage of income these cheapskates give to church or charity? Abysmal.

Speaking of charity, the citizens of the USA are far and away the most charitable people on the planet. The thing is, however, most of the citizens prefer giving to charities that are actually making a difference here and abroad, rather than throwing it down the bottomless pit of some Federal boondoggle or, even worse, a United Nations project.

For many of our politicians, Sacrificing for the Common Good is only a rhetorical device for saying, “Pay more taxes, as we know best how to spend your money.”

Really? How’s that 50-year war against poverty going? And tell us about all the Social Security money just sitting there waiting for the gazillions of Boomers that will be retiring over the next decade! Managed that account quite well, didn’t ya’!

Anyway, when did God die and leave someone else—or something else, such as the Federal Government—in charge of telling me how much money I am allowed to make, how to spend my money, or how to live my life?

When politicians begin speaking about sacrifice, one of the questions we must ask is, to whom do we sacrifice? Who or what is it that will be receiving this sacrificial offering? As a Christian, I embrace Christ’s command to love others in word and deed, of being charitable to the destitute. However, as I understand the biblical idea of charity, it is a free-will offering not a demand placed on me by others.

Money taken from me by force is not charity it is thievery, even when the Federal Government does it via confiscatory taxes.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Venice, Italy

We stayed at the
Hotel Ai Mori D'Oriente

The view
from around our hotel

Two photos of St. Mark's Square

Hanging with Derek Hammond

On the Island of
Murano (The Glass Isle)
We went to a place where
they were making some of
the most exquisite glass
I have ever seen.

The men above have placed
three different colors of glass
in the furnace

They then begin melting the
glass together and blowing
it into shape.

Two photos of the glass:
The above with my iPhone

We next went over to
Burano, a small island
famous for it's
colorful houses.

Silk and masks:
the area is famous
for both.

Me, Joseph, and Colonel
taking one of our many
water taxi rides.

Marine Captain Bill McCall (retired)
his wife, Wally.

Our last day in Venice
we decided to have lunch
at Hotel Cipriani
(pronounced Chip-re-AWN-ee)

It was a great eleven days of good work,
good friends, and good food!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2009