In the summer of 2012 I kept a blog at Empower Network, a multi-level marketing company that has since crashed and burned. Like many others, I bought into the hype. Keeping the blog honed my writing skills, and taught me a few things about online marketing, if nothing else. So I decided to hold onto the posts.
Printed newspapers: A dispensable idea?
by The Rambler | on July 3, 2012
As blogging and online marketing become more and more the wave of the future, some classic ideas are getting thrown by the wayside. The printed newspaper, for example, is quickly becoming a vintage item and many people think it will not survive in the future. Here’s why I think it will.
A subscriber to an online edition would probably be very reluctant to hand over his smart phone or laptop so that his friend could read an article in the “paper” to which he subscribed, yet the so-called fuddy-duddy who reads his printed edition over morning tea is considered more reluctant because he won’t accept new trends. Who is the resistant one? I’d say it’s the one reading the news on his laptop, tablet, phone or e-reader. He paid good money for that device. He has reservations about how it’s used. He’s not going to leave it on the table of the local diner when he’s done with the article he read on it, because it’s not just his newspaper. It also holds all his downloaded programs, his email and Internet access, his personal gallery, his social networks.
Yes, the one who reads an article online or in an e-edition could easily share it via social media or email, but there is another problem that emerges when this happens. The one who is receiving the article, even if they are present, does not get the article placed right in front of them. He will have to get to it the next time he is on his device of choice. The only solution to this dilemma is to become inseparable from that device, but that presents a whole new list of problems.
While periodicals are trying to make their publications more and more indispensable by making them digitally ubiquitous, the value of a printed newspaper remains in the fact that it is dispensable. You can just throw it away when you’re done with it; you don’t think much about picking up a newspaper because you’re not going to think much about throwing it away — unlike the e-reader, tablet, or other digital device you may have just reluctantly purchased.
The actual reader base for an exclusive online edition of a newspaper will be pretty much the same as the number of subscribers (because the paper is read on a personal device); whereas one printed newspaper is usually read by numerous people. And in the big picture it’s really all about the actual readership, not the number of subscribers. The more people you get to spread the word about what they just read in your paper, the more popularity the paper has, and popularity leads to investors and advertisers coming to you.
Even though fewer people may subscribe to printed editions, the fact is per subscription more people will be reading them. There will be people at the local coffee shop handing it to the stranger they just heard talking about an issue pertinent to the front page article. There will be relatives taking the article off the refrigerator door because it has their nephew’s or grandson’s name in it. And just as a side note, try framing an online article. It’s just not the same. It doesn’t have that loose leaf, hot off the press feel to it. It’s just not reminiscent of the days that made journalism profound.
Newspapers should want to get their words out there in every effective way possible. The more venues the better. So I’m not saying there should be just printed publications. There shouldn’t be just digital ones either though.
There was a time when people thought TV would make radio obsolete, but that’s still far from happening. Even if all radio stations do start streaming online, if they abandoned their radio base they’d become one-dimensional.
People say things change, and we have to just move on. I agree to an extent because eventually there always comes a time for change, but we should never accept change just for the sake of change. Just because an idea is new and seems better in many respects doesn’t mean it’s going to stand the test of time. Classic ideas that are tried and true will thus always have their place.
Also, printed publications simply employ more people than online ones. You need someone working on the press, you need a circulation manager, sometimes even a paper boy. Some people may see that as a drawback, as just more overhead costs, but that’s just from an employer’s perspective. I say the more jobs we can create the better.
Also, the more versatility in dialogue the better. Why not have both digital and printed newspapers? The versatile readership community that will emerge can only make society more educated.
Some people also argue that it’s time to enter a new era of literacy and communication. They compare modern times to the era when the written word was becoming more and more popular, thus making oral traditions more obsolete. I think that argument would fall apart if we knew how much we’ve lost by letting go of oral tradition. Today we memorize our favorite songs, movie scenes and what not, while back then they memorized epic poems that defined their culture. They weren’t dependent on even a book, let alone a smart phone. Talk about independence. How independent are we if we rely on our laptop to give us our knowledge? We feel like we’re smart because we could access facts with the click of a button, but how much do we know independently? Can we recite the D of I or the Constitution off the top of our heads? Do we have the most popular verses and passages of Shakespeare and Mark Twain memorized? Those who cherished oral tradition several centuries ago would have memorized that much. I fear that something equally important will be lost if we abandon printed publications.
Here’s another point. Some say newspapers are killing too many trees. But in truth, paper mill companies are more efficient in forestation than perhaps anyone else because for every tree they chop down they replant ten seeds. We are the stewards of the earth. We assume that nature is best off when we leave her alone, but in fact she needs us to utilize her resources to keep her fresh. If you leave a tool on the shelf and don’t use it, it begins to rust. Paper and lumber mills are the number one advocates for the health of forests, because the very profit and livelihood of the mills rely on the forests.
Lastly, the newspaper is still the poor man’s college. No matter how little money you have, you should always have a right to educate yourself. Few sources of education are as accessible as the printed newspaper. That’s the way it has been for about three centuries, and that’s the way it will be until mankind discovers something more dispensable than paper.
Blogging as a marketing portal
by The Rambler | on July 3, 2012
This is going to be a short post about a simple concept. I’ve had other network marketing teams approach me like normal salesmen trying to sell me a product, and I have to admit it didn’t matter what they were selling. I was lured in by the fact that I’d get commissions if I could convince others to buy the products offered. I had no interest in buying anything in their catalog, even though oftentimes the network markets offered just about everything from electronics to food. After looking into these networks though I only learned that the commission percentages are low and the logistics of the network finances really just channeled most of the money to the company’s top dawgs.
But from what I’ve learned from this Empower Network so far, it seems quite transparent first of all (after watching just a few videos Dave explains the financial structure of the company) and right off the bat the network claims that its members get 100 percent commissions.
Okay, I’m still only a $25 member, and I haven’t made a dime through this network yet, but I was sold on a completely separate aspect of this network: the blogging community. I’ve kept blogs sporadically over the years ever since they started getting popular about a decade ago because my primary passion is writing, but I never was able to get my site recognized by search engines. Just googling “Empower Network” brought up blog posts galore connected to the network. The fact that this arm of the network was praised by members, and hardly even mentioned by its founders, makes it even more credible, I believe.
As I slowly move from writing for local newspapers to freelance writing in a variety of genres, a noticeable blog is important to me. So for the blog dimension alone I’d say this network is worth a shot. I know most people join the network for the commissions, but I’m just interested in a vibrant blogging community. It really works both ways though. People read the blogs in these networks because of the money that the network makes; they’re interested in seeing how it works and the blogs help them understand how. But here’s how I understand it: many people will be convinced to join the network just by reading the blogs, no matter how much the blogs talk about the network. The blogs serve as an extra hook or portal into the marketing aspect of the network, so that members don’t have to approach people as salesmen or saleswomen. From what I understand I don’t have to blog about the Empower Network (if I did I would only bash it for trying to harness creativity). If you’re just interested in reading a blog about random subjects, here’s the place to do that. Don’t pay attention to the ads unless you’re an adventurous risk-taker who’s trying to make money on the side or grow your business.
In the spirit of independence
by The Rambler | on July 4, 2012
Let me give you an idea of where I’m coming from. I lost my dad in December, lost my grandma in January, got a DUI in February, lost my job in March, and then lost my driver’s license in April. I could sit here and pout about all that or act upon what I’ve learned through these experiences and allow my dad and grandma to rest more peacefully.
How would I do that? By pursuing my passion to write that they kept encouraging me to pursue. So this blog is not just a marketing tool for me. I mean what I write 100 percent, and when a person is fully committed to what he writes things can get interesting.
So if you’re looking for a blog that explores several different topics and tries to bring them together and make more sense of life, mark this page, www.empowernetwork.com/therambler, and come to it often. I promise to post something every day. This can be the spot where you get the juices flowing in the morning over your cup of coffee, or your place to unwind after a long day while in your pajamas with your child or dog on your lap. Or it could be a place of refuge where you take a breather in the midst of your hectic day.
To get things rolling, let me start by summarizing how I originally reacted to the unraveling of my life that I described above. Over the past three months I’ve been looking for ways to get my life back in order, but at first I hesitated over a few opportunities since apparently I’ve made bad choices in the past and couldn’t afford to make another one.
But Dave Wood, founder of the Empower Network, is right about at least one thing, and that is the fact that we all reach a point in life where we just say "I’ve had enough." I’ve had enough with conventional wisdom that tells me there are few things in life worth financial investment, and that few things online are as good as they seem. Enough with searching for a job that will maybe, if I’m lucky, lead me in the direction I want to go in life.
Yes, it’s true that I can’t afford to make another mistake, but that’s really just a glass-half-empty restraining mentality, and many situations in life can change depending on how you look at them. The more positive mentality is I have nothing to lose. And I don’t mean I’m not risking losing anything by doing this EN thing. I mean I really don’t have anything in my name to lose except a little bit of money that in essence really isn’t good for anything except investing in something small like EN. And I know it can be as big or small as I want it to be. I will ride the thin rail between courage and foolhardiness here.
My dad was an entrepreneur. He got into construction and property management in Northern NJ at a time when the area was growing and property values were rising. It was in his blood to know which way the economy was heading and where the money was flowing.
Thanks to risk takers like him, north and central Jersey have become among the most wealthy regions in the country and provide comfortable suburban lifestyles for millions of people. At the time suburbia was a new phenomenon, it offered the common person many luxuries that only rich people saw in the past. We live in the world that entrepreneurs like my father created for Americans, and I thank them for that. They saw a vision of the future and pursued it until the vision became a reality.
I really don’t know what EN classifies as because it’s so cutting edge in my opinion. But I can see a future with networks that function under similar models. And if these models take root they will only create a better standard of living for common man — without the government’s help. That’s the spirit of Independence. That is the American Dream. Happy 4th of July everyone!
Giving Empower Network a chance
by The Rambler | on July 5, 2012
Okay, so blog every day. Great, I can do that. I admit I was sold on the idea that it’s going to be easy to start making money through the Empower Network, and the blogging every day concept is easy.
But today, in the second bootcamp video I learned something, or perhaps was reminded of something important: Everything in life works because of certain principles, and one of the principles that applies to everything in life is the one that says "nothing worthwhile is easy."
So does that mean I should abandon EN because it’s based on a faulty principle, that I could start making money with hardly any effort involved? Well, it seems like the main principle EN is based on is more paradoxical than faulty. It works in a way that most people don’t expect things to work, but deep down they hope it could work because they know something isn’t right about the way the world works. They know something isn’t right about how they expect things to happen.
Deep down we all know there is a better way. We know there are people making lots of money when they hardly worked for it, we know there’s lots of money in the world, and we know there’s no reason for why only the gurus should be making it. Great, now Dave and Dave got me sounding like them.
Honestly, I’m not completely convinced about this EN concept yet, but I don’t see a problem with that. I’m only a basic member and from what I hear I could start making money already. I haven’t earned any yet but I’m just getting started.
So maybe I’m a fool or maybe not. Only time could tell. But here’s where the paradox comes in. Dave and Dave, co-founders of EN, do say you have to work hard at this in order to succeed at it. They say blog every day, read everyday, watch videos and listen to audios every day, attend the events, and so on. That’s asking a lot, and it costs a lot.
Don’t be a wussie, they say. Work hard at it. Then, after a few months of hard work, then it will start getting easy. Then you’ll start getting money deposited into your bank account as your leads start multiplying, and their leads start multiplying, adding to your power line and sending money back up to you.
So maybe this network did find the key to making good money fast. It’s not about working hard for years and years. It’s about believing in an idea and using that initial belief to kind of turbo start your little business. Then once it’s started up it will ideally start earning money by itself.
Blog every day, market every day, and so on. Part of it works like practice. "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice." Practice makes perfect. So yes, blogging and marketing every day may help increase web presence, but it also is the main way to get better at it.
So if anyone follows this blog, know this: We’re on a journey together. The questions you’re asking are the questions I’m asking. Maybe somewhere down the line you’ll see that my belief in this system was all worth it, and my doubts just slowed me down. Maybe this blog post will become a testimony for EN, by showing how normal and amateur I was in the beginning.
Then a few months down the line, people will read my archived posts, find this one and say "Wow, this guy started out skeptical just like me. Now look how great he’s doing with EN."
You gotta remain hopeful and believe in what you’re doing. It’s the only way to succeed at anything.
Not just stardust: a reflection on our place in the cosmos
by The Rambler | on July 6, 2012
Staying true to my commitment to blog about random things, here’s a reflection on a visit I made to the Hayden Planetarium in the Museum of Natural History, New York City. This planetarium is supposed to be the best in the world, capable of capturing images accumulated from the strongest observatories, updated with all of the most recent astronomical discoveries, projecting the night sky on an unprecedented 3D projector that surpasses any natural view, and having its shows narrated by Tom Hanks.
So I watched a 1/2 hour presentation there that explained how tiny the Earth is in comparison to the rest of the universe. They used this analogy: "There comes a time in all of our lives when we realize that we are just a part of a much larger picture…. a time when we realize that we are not the center of the universe. Just as each individual comes to that realization, we have, as a planet, begun to notice that the same is true in respect to our place in the cosmos." It was a convincing argument, to say the least, especially since they had such an intriguing tool to prove their point.
After leaving the presentation, I was tempted to just believe that my role in this world cannot possibly be significant since the world itself isn’t even significant in the large scheme of things. Then I asked myself, “What does size have to do with significance?” Astronomers try to physically and empirically explain what’s up there, yet they seem ignorant of the fact that we are the only things we know of that even have the capacity to wonder about such mysteries. They point to the stars and claim they are made out of inorganic elements that are already conveniently accounted for on our periodic table just so they can say that nothing is outside the realm of science. They look at nebulas and conclude that stars are wrought from the same materials as we are, making all of our insights, virtues, emotions and talents the product of nothing more than “star stuff”.
No matter how long stars live though, they eventually burn out. But we won’t. Human beings are unique among all of the matter in the universe in that regard. Even though our material bodies die, our existence transcends beyond that into eternity. No matter how far scientists go to try and explain what and who we are, if they conclude that we are made of mere matter then they’ve missed the point.
by The Rambler | on July 7, 2012
If you’re looking for happiness, stop. It doesn’t like to be stalked. It comes to those who come to the needs of others. It is given to those who give it away. If you reach a point where you just don’t care how you feel, you’re on the right track. Don’t ask why, but we get the things we want by not wanting them so badly, unless we’re spoiled little children.
Know a nation by its religion
by The Rambler | on July 9, 2012
Americans are in an identity crisis. If you don’t believe this, just ask some Americans what nationality they are and most will say either German, Irish, Italian, French, Russian, Chinese, Mexican, etc.; or an “American mutt”, still alluding mainly to their ancestry. Even American mutts have trouble identifying themselves as American. Among U.S. citizens, mutts are farthest removed from their ancestors’ country, yet most of them don’t consider “American” to be their nationality. They’re in some sort of identity limbo.
If you accept that much, consider this: The 2010 U.S. census revealed that the number of citizens with mixed ancestry, (meaning the American mutt), decreased 16% in the previous ten years. This simply baffles me. How can such a large demographic category decrease so drastically when the nation’s population as a whole increases just as much?
The reason goes deeper than any census can show. The melting pot of America used to have a healthy blend of ingredients — all ethnicities worked together in their common vision of the common good. There was diversity in the things that didn’t matter much, unity in the things that did matter, and charity in all things.
A thing that didn’t matter much was ethnicity. A thing that did matter was ethics. But now, in attempt to acquire greater unity, our culture is saying that ethics are ethnic, and therefore don’t matter either. This paradigm of relativism is less accommodating than it proposes, because it only sets up each community to say, ‘you could live whatever way you want, as long as you don’t interfere with me.’ Thus, this new recipe separates the ingredients that once made the melting pot’s signature blend.
Please do not think I am saying new ethnic communities are isolating themselves solely under their own will. They do so out of necessity in order to live in peace and community within our society of unsettling, short-tempered, easily offended individuals. This is a result of an ideology that transcends individual groups of people. It’s a philosophy that has trickled down from schools and politics to affect our everyday lives, and it’s affecting one of the most unifying concepts of America — namely, the concept of assimilation. America used to be a land where people settle, put aside their differences and unite in whatever ways they can. What we have today is a land where people just settle with all their differences and agree to disagree with their neighbor. The result is a very fragile peace that can be broken by simply the wrong trigger word. How free are we if we can’t even bring up certain topics without offending someone, even if our intention is to reach a common ground?
The most divisive force in humanity is religion. Ironically, it also has the most unifying power. Theological differences separated peoples throughout the Old World. Western Europe: Roman Catholic. Northern Europe: Protestant. Eastern Europe: Orthodox. Apply the concept wherever you please. If borders don’t separate one religious majority from another, then there is much conflict within those borders. Those nations that suffer from such conflict also suffer from a lack of identity.
America’s solution: forget about religious unity altogether. The trouble caused by trying to acquire such unity just isn’t worth the turmoil. The product of that solution: a lukewarm soup filled with ethical standards that don’t mix. When I was a kid I used to think I could throw Milkduds, candy canes, garlic, cinnamon and mustard in my oatmeal to increase the flavor. In modern American culture we think we can mix together homosexual rights, the Ten Commandments, hedonism, asceticism, chastity and promiscuity so as to attain a more diverse culture. The same concept applies: some ingredients just don’t mix. There needs to be some deep unifying texture to the recipe.
But what about separation of church and state? The answer is simple: a nation is not a state. I’m not talking about the United States as a political order. I’m talking about America as a nation, a country and a republic. Republic, etymologically, means “a thing of the people”. It’s an organic entity, practically an organism, formed out of necessity from the natural order of things because people must live in community. The word nation comes from the Latin verb “to be born”. Romans called their home country “patria”, meaning the fatherland. The ancient nation of Israel was formed by the twelve tribes, which were the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons. God gave us two forms of community: the family and the church. Historically, the nation has always sprung from those communities.
The federal state that is formed by the United States is an artificial entity, formed in the secular order out of man’s desire to implement his own ideas into reality. This is not intrinsically a bad thing, but it can much more easily lead to corruption. Only a fool would unconditionally associate himself with any government system or political party. Even democracy, as Churchill said, “is the worst form of government, except for all others that have been tried.” We know a person by his or her lifestyle, religion, social interactions, diet, hobbies, and cultural interests. Political concerns are just ideas bouncing around in our heads. There really isn’t anything tangible about them. We know persons by their way of life, their conduct.
Why America needs religion
We’d be able to know the identity of any other nation by simply observing the lifestyle of its people, because their lifestyle was the embodiment of their religion. But America is different. We have the modern Pantheon. All religions are here, so, presumably, we have to search elsewhere for a source of unity. Furthermore though, America is propagating a standard for the rest of the world. It’s still a city on a hill. People used to flock to America for religious freedom. It’s the founding principle of our nation, but it was a freedom to practice it; not a freedom from practicing it.
Boston was the first American city to really live out the principle of religious freedom because it was there that Irish Catholics thrived. These new immigrants tested America’s Protestant English colonists to see if they were serious about what they said in the First Amendment. At first, the classic divisive turmoil caused by religion prevailed. But it subsided eventually, and America became the first society to prove that different brands of Christianity can mix.
The Irish were second class citizens at best, but with the dawn of industrialization the well-established, mainly Protestant, businesses needed laborers from the lower classes. The Irish were willing to work hard because they believed that if they did so they would be accepted and the principle of religious freedom would eventually work in their favor.
It’s my belief that the Protestant majority were not aware of the power with which this principle could transform their young nation. The newly established United States had returned to the original concept of the Holy Roman Empire, applied in reverse fashion. The Catholic Church of Medieval times evangelized a diverse continent of European tribes. Evangelizers built new societies based on a Christian understanding of Roman law. The new America, greatly influenced by Puritanism, built a society that struck a similar balance between Roman law and Christian principles; but did they really know what a recipe for diversity such a balance would cause? Since they were first evangelized, the Catholics of Europe always expressed their faith in surprisingly diverse ways. The differences between Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals attest to this.
Was the new Protestant America conscious of the floodgate they opened through its founding documents? I could imagine Catholic historians of the time feeling a sort of centuries-old nostalgia coming over them by the mere thought of the New World, since it reminded them of a young Europe.
Perhaps the Renaissance and secular humanism distracted Europeans from the original concept of the Holy Roman Empire. The Judeo-Christian image of society was God’s image of man. He was created free, but his freedom was sustained by his obedience to God. The Catholic Church institutionalized that overarching concept, and translated it into terms of governance. Many historians frown upon the staunchness of the society thereby formed, but in reality the staunch element was just an accidental of the already staunch Germanic tribal cultures of ancient Europe. In the Greco-Roman south, the embodiment of these same principles would be much more dappled. This is not to say southern Europe was more cultured than northern Europe. In many ways, the stern, robust and strict mores of the Germanic nations provided a sturdy foundation. It was the natural way to live in the harsh, rugged environment of that northern region. Southern Europeans were formed by their environment as well. Sometimes we get so caught up in our ideas that we forget how much we’re influenced by our surroundings. The weather is the most common conversation starter. There’s nothing superficial to that. Few things influence our everyday lives more than the weather. Yet at the same time, while the weather influences our lives quite a bit, the culture that is formed around the weather is inconsequential--so diversity here is understandable and even welcome.
Where freedom went wrong in America
The difference between the medieval idea of freedom and modern America’s idea of it is easy to notice. The European of the Middle Ages didn’t separate community from freedom because he saw them as complimentary. He in fact wanted freedom so he could live in community with those he knew and loved. The American idea of freedom is autonomous and individualistic. It’s a freedom from rather than a freedom to. This is understandable though, because America was born from a very strong disdain toward the Crown of England. But was this the original idea of American freedom? Was it freedom from Britain’s long despotic arm that the pioneers wanted? Or did they want freedom to live out their ideas for a democratic republic? Yes, it could be both. But what’s better for the morale of America today? To think our founding fathers were motivated by just breaking free of their mother country, or that they were motivated by the hope of potentially establishing a new civilization?
Freedom or Unity? Both. But how?
The principle of equality in the Declaration of Independence upholds the dignity of the individual. So now we have religious freedom and human dignity among the foundations of this new society we call America. The missing thread seems to be unity. Yet unity is a strong pillar in our country’s tradition as well. Something in our founders’ vision of America enabled them to see how a society can solemnly respect the individual while keeping everyone united.
I think one place American unity came from was the American’s desire to pursue happiness. This pursuit put him on the path of intuition. His new society didn’t force him to live in community, but he found it necessary to do so on his own. Thus, mills were built by waterfalls and towns were built by the mills to increase net productivity. Communities were formed around a common pursuit of sustainability, as their citizens realized that working together formed a network of sustainability. This network capitalized upon itself consistently all around the nation, and I believe the strong influx of productivity that emerged led to the Industrial Revolution. Just look at all of the mining towns in the Ohio Valley, or the railway towns of the Midwest, and you’ll see this clash of industry and community that I speak of. Beforehand America was primarily an agricultural society.
The Civil War marked the climax of the industrial and agricultural duel, but the unseen battle was between industrialism and artisanship. America’s ideals were turning upon themselves. Artisanship was the embodiment of the individual’s pursuit of happiness. Through it he was able to make a living off his own creation, through the local market. After the Industrial Revolution, he had to compete with the machine. It was John Henry and Paul Bunyan against Carnegie and Rockefeller.
Why was this happening? What happened to the unifying power of the pursuit of happiness? Americans used to see working together as profitable to all. Now the pursuit of happiness is individualistic and defined by competition. Local markets have to compete in the national and sometimes even the global economy. Apparently the pursuit of happiness was, and is, no longer forming community.
Finally I return to my original point. What is a nation? It’s just a fleeting concept without the unifying power of religion. It turns out that America has to take the risk of unifying under a religion because nothing else has the strength to unite. Nothing else influences human persons deep enough to bring together a people as diverse as Americans. I believe religion is the hidden, implicit element in the paradox of a free, united civilization — the civilization the founding fathers of our fatherland envisioned.
Empower Network still growing pretty fast
by The Rambler | on July 9, 2012
So Empower Network has over 34,000 members. Apparently this idea is catching on. In my first week with the network I have discovered that there is some hard work involved and patience is required if you want to be successful here.
It’s no magical money tree. But that just makes it more realistic and trustworthy in my opinion. So I continue to type away and follow Dave and Dave’s guidelines as best I can. A little bit each day is okay. Over time it’ll start getting easier and easier.
A way for common people to make money from home
by The Rambler | on July 10, 2012
Empower Network is a revolutionary way to make money.
This might be a bit of a stretch, but I think EN has more going for it than just helping normal people make money from home. Does anyone see how we can partake in an economic revolution here?
I don’t want to be pretentious. Most of this is all in the beginning stages, but it has potential and with potential comes hope. To the normal blogger perhaps this is just a way to make money. To the average EN member perhaps this network does come across as very cutting edge in terms of marketing methods, but I think there’s more to it than that.
EN challenges the idea that the common person has to work for someone in order to live a comfortable life, and it shows the common person how to make his or her own money
through their own business without having to set up shop on Main Street and rely on Small Business Saturdays to keep themselves going.
Helping small businesses make money
I am a strong advocate of small businesses. I believe they are what make our country what it is. But times are changing and so those who want to succeed in their own business have to become cunning and learn new tricks.
In that sense, EN can become the most helpful tool for hardware stores, luncheonettes, pizza and ice cream parlors, barber shops, bakeries and antique shops on Main Streets everywhere. It gives the common man the means and know-how to connect their business to the digital world that keeps growing by the day.
EN is more than an online networking community. It’s a college for online blogging and marketing. Buying anything it has to offer is equivalent to buying a class. Endure a little bit of Dave and Dave’s ranting about their past life and how they struggled getting to where they are today, and they will give you information gems on how to make money online.
A better capitalism
But that’s not even the half of it. I would not have joined EN if it were not for the social and economic philosophies behind it. It’s all about empowering the common person, and without the help of the government. Liberal politicians think the common person needs government handouts to get that extra bit of money they’re looking for, or to help them get back on track, or to help them get out of a health crisis financially. But Empower Network shows how we can do it on our own.
I’ve heard stories about homeschooling moms making money here — it’s about people striving to do things on their own. I’ve heard how EN has helped pay the medical bills of people struggling with cancer or a recent tragic accident. The common person has tough things to deal with, but the common person also has the strength to find the right means to deal with those things. Empower Network gives him or her that strength.
That strength is not just in the making money aspect, but also in the social and economic philosophy aspects.
As far as I know there are only two prevailing economic philosophies in the world today. There’s socialism, which teaches that if everyone pools their money together in some central power’s money pool, that power will fairly redistribute the money to the people.
The other philosophy is capitalism, which says that the best economy is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods and services.
If I had to choose one it would be capitalism, but my generation has come to notice a pretty clear problem with it. It is fueled by competition, and after a while those business owners that have the edge just keep getting bigger and better until their competition has no chance to keep up with them.
But in EN, all of the members want to increase one another’s success because: first of all, it gives EN more online presence overall; secondly, the more success a member has the more members he brings in, and the more money he brings in the more wealth EN can distribute overall; and thirdly, EN is based upon the concept of supporting each other and creating an interlinked community that naturally holds itself up.
EN is helping rebuild a new kind of economy online and making it function the way an economy ought to function; allowing normal people to make their own money and enabling them to own a blog or business so that the concept of ownership is retained.
How to stay encouraged while searching for work
by The Rambler | on July 13, 2012
5:30 pm approaches and I ask myself, ‘What did I get done today?’ I certainly did a lot, and am exhausted in result, but what did I get done? Running in place or around in circles doesn’t count. What did I accomplish?
Being underemployed or unemployed can be very draining if you look at life as a mountain to climb. When you’re kicked out of the rat race, the world can be a very discouraging place if you continue to look at every day as a chance to just get closer and closer to the summit of some corporate or financial ladder.
But life really isn’t like that. It’s not some mountain with a summit that’s in clear view. It’s a journey with unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes we have set backs, sometimes we have breakthroughs, and sometimes the tasks that seem to be most tedious and pointless are the ones that lead to the unexpected breakthroughs.
This is true for anything in life, whether it be a job search, a relationship, a search for enlightenment, whatever. In all of the important quests in life, we’re told to do things that we see no point in doing or things we’d rather not do.
In college, one of my professors told us to come up with a daily schedule for the entire semester. At first I thought he was joking, until he kept reminding us of the assignment. After a whole lot of bickering and struggling, everyone in the class managed to allot a task to every hour in the five-month semester, and something extraordinary happened in result.
What seemed like a pointless task became a snapshot of who we envisioned ourselves to be. We are what we do, and the daily semester schedule showed us who we planned to become by compelling us to wrestle and come to grips with what we planned to do with the time we were given. If the way I planned to spend my time that semester did not lead me to the person I wanted to be by the semester’s end, then I had no one to blame but myself.
And that seems to be the main problem, the main obstacle, to achieving goals: lack of persistence, ambition, and resolve. Will power can get a person anywhere they need to be, and an important component of will power is unwavering hope.
With that said, also keep in mind that the journey of life ought to be an adventure, not a monotonous climb. If you’re on the road of hope and freedom maybe I’ll run into you at the next beacon or outpost we both discover. But if you’re climbing that unforgiving, elusive mountain of success ... well, I’ll be waiting for you to come back down to earth.
This is about more than selling something
by The Rambler | on July 14, 2012
Less than two weeks in and I’m already starting to have setbacks. It’s no reason to be discouraged. It just creates another challenge and reaffirms what I already knew—that this wouldn’t be easy.
I’m struggling to make money as it is, like most of us, and I saw Empower Network as an opportunity to eventually put an end to the struggle. But now I’m starting to learn how much marketing is involved here. I’m not here to market. I want anyone who reads this blog to know that. I’m not a salesman. I was never bought on the idea of selling something, and if I find out that selling something is what EN is all about then I’m out of here.
I’m here because this is different than merely selling something. It’s selling people something that in turn is going to make them money, and that changes the game.
People could market online through email, videos, articles and blog posts, and offline through direct mail, the phone, or in person. Dave Wood even goes as far as to use a voice broadcaster that sends a phone message out to tens of thousands of people.
And to have success with EN you have to do it all. I’m having trouble just posting a blog post every day. Now I’m told I need to find the right tags for the post, link it to videos and other articles and posts, and that’s just the beginning.
Meanwhile I’m searching for work elsewhere, doing favors for friends and family, just trying to get by in life. This EN thing takes three hours a day, and I’m having trouble squeezing it in.
EN is not easy, and it takes time to get good at, which is something I have not accomplished yet. But the time and effort it takes just makes the reward more worth pursuing. It will all pay off.
The thing you have to ask yourself is if this is something you want in your life — because it’s going to take up a considerable chunk of it.
Someday, very soon, I’m going to link together the things that EN offers and all of the other things I want to do in my life. If internet marketing is going to be a large part of the future, I consider my time spent here worthwhile. It’s not wise to be left in the dark as the world begins to change.
I’m not looking to change the world myself, but there are some things I’d like to see in the future. One of those things is more private ownership. That is why I like EN. Not only does it give its affiliates certain ownership privileges within the network. It also teaches people how to succeed in their own business, no matter what they want to sell.
A powerful strength is given to those who choose to help people. Helping people empowers you. Helping people helps you see the bigger picture and contribute to something greater than yourself.
Ideals like this are what make EN more than just a marketing network. We’re helping people help themselves. I can’t sell something unless I truly believe in it myself, and I don’t need to do much to convince myself that EN is, more than anything else, making society a better place, making our country — and beyond — the land of opportunity again.
Talk about empowerment: I get mine from faith
by The Rambler | on July 15, 2012
Today I was empowered by my oldest and most reliable source of empowerment. In an age of disbelief, I was empowered by my religion.
For months, I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of lukewarmness and at times even despair. Constantly pursuing vain things, trying to get back on the track of success, always missing the train, and settling in the same stagnant pit.
But for just as long I have only been practicing my Catholic faith to the bare minimum. Today I realized that my faith is the ingredient—no, the foundation—that has been missing, causing the rest of my life to be one ingredient away from a recipe for disaster.
I usually don’t reveal how much I tithe, but today I will because I want to make a point. For the past few months, since I lost my job, I’ve been giving about two or three dollars at church on Sunday, maybe five dollars if I was feeling generous. That honestly was a lot for me. Today I gave $10 just to make tithing hurt a little more, because after all it’s not charity unless it hurts.
But that’s not the point. my tiny point of charity is to help you become less connected to whatever it is you’re giving away; and that is the road to true freedom: attachment to nothing, including money.
But my tiny insignificant act of charity was nothing compared to receiving Communion for the first time in probably months. I was starving my soul by not going to Confession often enough, and remaining in sin. How did I even get through this phase of life without the Bread of Life within me?
It’s amazing how a small act of charity and receiving Communion has opened my eyes. Now I see how much I have been squandering the Life I’ve been given.
No more time to waste. Today is the chance to carpe diem. There is so much work to do. I know what I must do. I’m done with committing to things half way.
Write or market? Both
by The Rambler | on July 16, 2012
You actually expect me to post something today? Do you have any idea how tired I am? I started freelance writing for my former employer today, and it took up just about all of my time.
So I need to make a choice. What do I want to do? Learn to market like a pro and make money with EN, or write? Or both? I can do both. Yeah, I’ll do that. But I’ll start tomorrow. I promise.
Is success all about just working hard?
by The Rambler | on July 18, 2012
Is life supposed to be hard if we want to get anywhere in it? Do you get the shiny pot of gold by trying harder than everyone else? Sometimes I suppose. But I think it’s more about being clever.
It’s midnight and the end of another day of running out of breath while seeming to get just about nowhere. I say that not as a discouragement, but as a realization. The more I face the struggles of life head on the more real they all become, and the more real they are to me the easier it becomes to realize what I need to do to find a solution to the struggles.
And finding solutions is mostly about being clever. It’s about knowing what works and what’s just a waste of time. It’s about getting rid of all my irrational complexes and reluctance and taking risks every now and then. It’s about not being afraid of getting burnt. They say nothing worthwhile is easy, but sometimes the hard part isn’t the part where you actually have to work hard toward your goal. Sometimes the hard part is just that tough moment where you have to decide to take a chance, a leap of faith.
Is the EN concept the answer to the millennial’s struggle?
by The Rambler | on July 18, 2012
The millennial generation must be in trouble, because I’m by far not the only one my age struggling to find substantial work.
Check out this article to see what I’m talking about.
But you know what? My generation isn’t the kind that just rolls over and dies. We find a way no matter what. Whatever is out there, we find a way to make use of it. These days, what’s out there growing faster than anyone can keep track? The internet, so my generation finds a way to make it work for us.
We’re not getting much help from the generation before us, and even if we work for years toward a degree many of us just end up in debt while still struggling to find work. I know because that’s what I’m going through. So what should we do about it?
Are ideas like Empower Network the solution? I don’t know. All I know is I’m here because I can’t find too many other ways to make money, and EN is saying it can help out. So I’ll keep at it.
EN affiliates who’ve had the most success say to ”get all in”. They say do whatever you need to do to afford it; borrow money, sell a bunch of your stuff. But I don’t have anything to sell or anyone to borrow money from.
I’m just thinking out loud trying to straighten out my thoughts. I’m really trying everything to find work. For anyone who knows the struggle, looking for work is a full-time job in itself. Writing a blog post and networking with EN is just a small portion of my day. I spend the rest applying to jobs and writing freelance stories for unsubstantial amounts of money.
This is where I tell it like it is. The struggles of life are no mystery. Everyone has to go through them at one point or another. I could go on and on about all of the ways in which Generation Y can’t find any answers. But the most important reason is a hopeful one.
Millennials are struggling because the world is changing. Who knows what the future will look like, but if my generation gets its way, we’re going to live with a stronger economy where we’re not constantly trying to climb out of debt, and we’re going to find new ways to make a living that help make the life of the common person better than it’s ever been.
How? By working together. We’ll say "Enough with the individualism and autonomy." We’ve seen the damage it can do and we also know the benefits of working as a community.
What’s the bottom line? Millennials are tired of living with the results of a society based on social Darwinism where everyone steps on everyone else to get ahead. We see that there is strength in numbers and we’re the smarter ones for it. We don’t let greed or immediate gratification govern our lives.
We’re stimulated by good ideas that are going to change the face of the world and get our society out of the financial and moral rut it's been in. We don’t chase the wind. We are the current.
Underemployed and getting no help
by The Rambler | on July 19, 2012
Are there any other young adults a little frustrated about their employment situation? I’m not talking about just those who are underpaid for working at some thankless full time job, or a few part time ones. I’m talking about underemployed, overworked, without government aid, “overeducated”, just writing away at an online networking site hoping for a miracle: That’s my situation. Anyone want to join my pity party?
Was it wrong for me to file for unemployment, to virtually ask for my own money back, when I’m making only about $100 a month as a freelance writer, unable to get any other work since all my assignments had to be via phone or email since my license was suspended?
I didn’t qualify for unemployment as soon as I got laid off because I was getting severance pay. Then once my severance pay ran out, it was too late to file for unemployment. Oh, but that’s right. By then I was supposed to have another job. Well, technically I did have work, and I managed to do it while not even leaving my house (because I didn't have any other choice!). Sounds like the ideal life, right? No, not really. How much work did I get while stuck in my country home? Maybe two freelance stories per month if I got lucky. But that was enough for me to not qualify for unemployment once again apparently!
And yes, I’m still looking for work. Here’s the thing though, I am technically getting work — just very little, not enough to pay the bills. What do I need to do to get out of this conundrum? I need to talk to an unemployment agent in person like in the olden days, instead of filling out vague digital unemployment claims that register that I might be breaking the law, or automated phone systems that ask me to answer questions by pushing buttons while usually giving you about two options to choose from—yes or no—and don’t even know if you speak English unless you push 1. Why should I have to push 1 if I speak English? That just goes to show the absurdity of our society. You really can’t run a government efficiently through computer systems. And living in a society with more than one common language just makes double the work!
Something, someone, please provide a way out. I’ll take any work at this point.
James Holmes’ twisted message: Loners relate to The Joker
by The Rambler | on July 20, 2012
I remember when The Dark Knight came out four years ago, the most lauded performance was that of The Joker, Heath Ledger, a good actor—but an actor. His story was only made more epic when he died of a drug overdose soon after the movie was done being made, and he was remembered as an American legend.
Christopher Nolan is a good director. Christian Bale is a good actor. The new Batman movies are a positive contribution to American culture. But with every great thing comes an equally evil rival nemesis. And now that we know James Holmes said “I am The Joker” after shooting 71 people and killing 12 in Aurora, CO, hopefully it’s clear that the fictions of popular culture can have a negative impact on our real lives.
The joke’s on no one. James Holmes is a neuro science student dropout from San Diego living in a suburban apartment. Know your enemy, young middle class Americans, because he comes from a similar background as your own. “I am the Joker, Batman’s nemesis,” he said. Since when did anyone want to be the villain?
I’m not saying Heath Ledger’s performance is to blame, but one can speculate about the connection. Dear millennials, we have a very complicated entertainment complex we need to straighten out.
Interest in comic heroes is still rising. The Amazing Spiderman hit over half a billion dollars at the box office in its first month. For all of the people interested in the superheros, there are naturally going to be some loners who identify with the villains instead.
James Holmes plotted it all out. He practically handed himself over to the cops and led them to his booby-trapped apartment. What could have led to that premeditated insanity? He’s known as a smart guy. What are neuro science programs categorizing as smart these days?
A growing trend in popular culture
What will America’s future look like if we don’t start making a connection between popular culture and real life, and doing something about it? I just covered a local story about a bunch of troublemakers in Monroe, NJ who shot pipe bombs at a neighbor’s house. There’s suspicion that the motive had some connection to a video game (I couldn’t mention it in the article since it wasn’t confirmed).
By now you may be getting tired of the links to stories that prove my point. Well, for me, one source is never enough. Maybe one source had it out for Warner Brothers and wanted to sink box office sales by saying the movie is responsible for the worst shooting in the history of the U.S.
And maybe a second source is just bouncing off what the first source said. Three sources is always good though.
We all know what person is to blame, James Holmes. But maybe this is about a little more than a psychopath dreaming to be a real life supervillain. Sometimes stories like this give a glimpsing reflection of the leviathan culture we live in but cannot bear to look at.
To all those going to see The Dark Knight Rises, enjoy. I know I will some time soon. Don’t let twisted terrorizing punks keep you from living your life. That’s just what they want. Stay free, but let’s be courteous, and not ignorant. Don’t enjoy the movie for just the special effects. Hopefully the themes in the movie, especially the battle between good and evil, are more relevant now.
Water filters and heroes
by The Rambler | on July 21, 2012
Water filter trouble took over my day today.
Anyone who lives in the country knows that some of the simplest modern conveniences aren’t always so conveniently available, or easily fixed, out here.
I spent the majority of the day trying to fix our water pump system because, after all, we don’t have a city to take care of our water supply for us. I woke up to no water, then ironically got soaked trying to get water. Right now our filter is continuously spurting it out right behind me, and I have buckets to catch it which I will have to empty in a few minutes. I will probably have to do this for the rest of the day until the filter decides to stop leaking.
Or I could just shut the valves off and have no water. Hmm…. there is a pond in the back.
What’s that? My pipes are making groaning noises. Maybe that means the air pockets are finally coming out and soon there will be no more flooding in my basement.
Maybe ...maybe ... no, it’s still flooding. Oh what fun it is to live in the country!
There have been many days when I've wish I had the ability to do all the things that need to be done in my house and in my life. But I don’t. Maybe someday I will. But until then there will be a whole lot of trial and error. Is it possible to get everything straightened out in life? Or will there always be some leaking water valve somewhere in our lives, and do we have to just choose the leak that’s the least pain in the neck to deal with?
I’m still shook up by the tragic massacre yesterday. It helped me notice the need for more heroes in the world. There were a few heroic acts in the Batman theater, standing up against the evil of James Holmes (no James, that’s not a compliment, though it may seem like one to you).
What bothers me is there are deeply disturbed people who are willing to commit the acts of the villain—and his story is then all over the news much to his contentment—but if there is a villain then where is the hero? I’m not talking about a squad of cops or veterans banding together. There was one villain so where is the one hero?
For all of the horrific tragedies occurring around the country there should be ads in every newspaper: “Job opening: Real life hero. Will be responsible for stopping massacres and other major crimes before they happen; expected to give the public more courage and hope instead of making them constantly terrorized by the bloodthirsty maniacs in our midst; also responsible for putting fear into the heart of real life villains because apparently police aren’t."
Heroes and everyday life
What does this have to do with the leak in my basement? A lot of things. But mainly there are two connections. First off, just like it’s my job to figure out how to fix this leak, the only way for anyone to deal with any terror in their lives is to find a way to take care of it themselves.
Some people go to movies just to get an entertaining thrill. Then there are those, usually little children, who leave the movie feeling a little more uplifted and courageous—maybe even believing they can be the Batman at least in their own life. Children are the wiser for that.
Secondly, I could just ignore this leak. Sure, water is wet and bothersome, and it makes things muddy. But I could ignore it. I could even go upstairs and pretend there isn’t even a leak in the basement.
Or I could face the fact that there’s a problem in my house that needs to be resolved as best as it can be. For now all I can do is put buckets down and keep emptying them out, but you do what you can instead of living by the philosophy that everything is all right and ignorance is bliss.
There’s a leak in our culture. For all of the fun we have going to movies, playing video games and what not, a few bad thoughts seep through and affect our actions. Maybe this is true for just some of us, but just like all it takes is one broken part in my filter, all it takes is one maniac who thinks he’s The Joker.
Pursuing happiness is about putting to rest all of your questions
by The Rambler | on July 22, 2012
One theme has run through my entire life: the desire to be free. I don’t have to convince many people that Americans are losing sight of the dream. There aren’t too many pursuing true happiness anymore.
A person has to have some ambition, a little bit of a vision, some determination, some aspirations that go beyond the desire for a convenient secure job. Don’t you agree?
Just pursue your dreams.
Just do it
Many people will in the end tell you that going against the mold is dangerous. Maybe they won’t say it like that flat out, but with their bottom line they will. It’s common for people to encourage you to pursue your dreams, but when you get to really talking about your dreams and how you’re going to pursue them, most people start asking, "Well, how are you going to do that?’, or, ‘That ain’t going to be easy", or "All that effort ain’t worth the trouble," or ‘That’s really not practical," or "Where you going to find the money to do that?" or "How well thought out is your plan?"
Okay, all of those are reasonable questions and remarks. But for the one pursuing a dream, finding a way to answer and respond to all of those questions and remarks is just going to slow him down.
There’s nothing wrong with those who want to take the sure and secure path in life. Who could say no to healthcare benefits, guaranteed pensions and contracts with pay raises built in? Who wouldn’t want to have their financial future laid out for them on a silver platter?
I’ll tell you who could say no to it. People like my dad, who spent his whole life finding his own way to do things and working hard to reach a point where he didn’t have to get locked into contracts and work for some boss man. He started his own property management business, his own construction business, and in the process he failed many times. But I could see in his eyes the tenacity needed to survive no matter what obstacle came his way.
I will continue that family tradition. When you have nothing to lose it is easier to take risks. In fact, taking risks becomes the only way to go.
I do believe everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason I keep losing my day job and never feeling like I’m meant for the 9 to 5. Some people are fine with that. They just want security. But I’m willing to bust my tail while finding a different way. Many people around the world are the same way. Life is so much bigger than I’ve been thinking it is.
Time to hit the road
Enough with all of this talk. No one ever promised that it would be easy to pursue dreams. The relief comes from the feeling that you’re pursuing something that you really want. If you have no dependents and are still searching for your calling, what’s stopping you?
I was tempted to say "Very soon my new life will begin," but saying that will do me no good. TODAY my new life begins, and it won’t involve just EN.
Every Sunday morning I go to a perpetual adoration chapel to pray for an hour, and just about every time I go I get the desire to just take off. All of my questions will be answered on the road. I will have to cancel my freelance writing assignments. What do I plan to do? You’ll see.
Dreamers and realists
by The Rambler | on July 25, 2012
Just a few days ago I said the 9 to 5 isn’t meant for me, and now I’m working from 7 to 4, sometime 7 to 6. Be careful what you say, because the opposite may just come true.
But I’m still a dreamer, sure. The thing is I’m also practical. Now after a 10-hour work day I’m listening to David Wood’s Monday night call. He’s talking about his past and how many times he had to fail to get where he is.
And why am I listening? Because something about his idea really clicks. I had my first deposit into my account from Empower Network today. Sure, it was only $17, but it was something and gave me something to work with.
Quick reality check: in about a week I will be charged the $45 monthly fee for my EN blogging system and e-wallet account, so in reality I will be paying $27 for my EN affiliation. But that’s just this month.
I’m practical and realistic. When you read this blog you will find the positive and negative aspects of Empower Network, but you know what? In the end, if you read enough posts, you will find that the positive will outweigh the negative. I’m not saying that just because I’m trying to find more prospects. I’m not saying it because I’m excessively optimistic. I say it because I am realistic.
Your Hollywood Connection
Americans love movies, right? But what’s one of the things that bothers people about movies? Lack of realism. Even if it’s a fantasy movie, people expect the plot, and even the details, to be in tune with reality. It has to mesh with at least the laws of nature, and if it’s a movie about some natural law-defying superhero or fantasy world then the story has to happen as if that superhero or fantasy world really existed.
Yes, that was supposed to make no sense. I don’t think there is a way for me to explain it in a way that makes sense because it’s an unrealistic expectation for realism that we American moviegoers have.
So my point is we go to movies to watch a story that satisfies the dreamer and the realist in us. Yet for most of us, once we leave the theater it’s the realist who reclaims the reins. I believe the only reason that is so is because we think we have to choose the one or the other. We think we have to either believe in our dreams or be realistic.
Well, call me childlike or childish, but I don’t see any reason for anyone to ever give up their dreams. But I also think that it’s foolish for anyone who has fulfilled their dreams to think they’re exempt from anything.
The realism doesn’t stop once you fulfill your goals in life. Do things get easier? Well, I wouldn’t know. All I know is there are always enough good reasons for you to keep believing.