ETR: I've Put My Life at Risk

Dear Early to Riser,

As a member of Early to Rise you've already gotten a full week of powerful, actionable advice that will change the way you work, run your business, set and achieve goals, and more.

And now Michael Masterson wants to give you something special on Saturdays. It's totally free and part of your subscription to Early to Rise.

The Michael Masterson Journal comes direct from Michael, and only Michael. In his off-the-cuff, informal style you'll get even more strategies, tips, and techniques for jumpstarting your wealth, health, and success.

You get his no holds barred guidance, plus first crack at his latest breakthrough business ideas and marketing strategies. He gives you both specific recommendations in the world of wealth-building and investing and in-depth explorations of economic issues.

If a myth needs busting, Michael is there… if the Wall Street Journal got it wrong, he'll expose it… if the Fed needs to be knocked down a peg, he'll be ready… and if there is something you should be doing right now to accelerate your success, Michael will tell you about it.

The Michael Masterson Journal will arrive in your inbox each Saturday. Don't miss it!



MaryEllen Tribby

Publisher and CEO, Early to Rise
MM Journal

Saturday - August 22, 2009  

In an effort to prolong the lives (and, thus, the buying power) of ETR's faithful readers, I've put my life at risk by trying out an experimental substance.

I'm not kidding! I am one of the first human beings taking this substance that's designed to extend life. I would be lying if I didn't admit I was hesitant to take part in the experiment. What swayed me was that my personal health mentor, Dr. Al Sears, is taking part himself. If he thinks it's safe, I reasoned, it must be okay.

My journey into the health unknown started six months. At the Ritz-Carlton in midtown Manhattan, Dr. Sears and I met with a group of doctors and scientists who have been working on this highly secretive project for several years.

The story of how this miracle substance was discovered could be the subject of a suspense thriller. I'll tell you more as we go along. For today, I just want to let you know that I got back my first test results. And in every category -- pulmonary, vascular, and neurological -- I am a biologically younger man than I was before!

My blood work was also great. My homocysteine, cholesterol, and other key indicators of heart health were the best they've been in 10 years. That goes for my triglycerides, testosterone, and progesterone levels too.

But the most important result has to do with my DNA: My telomeres are getting longer instead of shorter. This indicates a reversal of cellular aging. It is theoretically impossible. But it's happening!

I don't want to say much more than that right now. I will feed you information as I get it and after it's been cleared by the people involved. (They are, understandably, adamant about keeping a lid on it until enough hard data has been tallied.)

But judging from the batch of test results on my desk right now, I'm very excited and looking forward to future results.

Peter, my real estate partner in Florida, and I bought another rental property today.

It's a large three-bedroom house with a terrace and an oversized garage. It was entirely renovated and expanded three years ago. It would have sold easily then for $350,000. We paid $120,000.

I've been buying properties in South Florida since 1983. And the prices I'm seeing on select houses are at that level. It's amazing.

Will prices continue to drop? I'm not sure. There are probably 10 million Americans who are "upside down" on their mortgages right now. But I'm not trying to time the bottom of the market. I'm buying because the fundamentals are so good.

This is a property we will be able to rent, easily, for $1,300 a month. That means we will be making 10-15 percent on our investment, cash on cash. And that's assuming no appreciation. If we get 2 percent -- which is possible -- our ROI will jump into the 25-29 percent range.

We have written a lot about the importance of having a Plan B in place. The idea is simple: Before you spend lots of time and/or money on a new project or product, have a backup in case it fails.

Recently, I've come to the conclusion that having a Plan B is not enough. Ideally, you should have a Plan C ... and maybe even a Plan D.

Let's say you are the principal investor in a small business. Things have been going along pretty well, but recently it seems like they are starting to fall apart. Plan A, in other words, is unraveling. So it's time to implement Plan B.

Plan B might involve bringing in a new CEO. But before you do that, you have to ask, "What if the new person fails to turn things around?"

That's when Plan C comes into play. It might involve you getting involved personally. If that's the case, you should conjure up a Plan D just in case you can't fix things either.

Plan D might be to sell the company.

Now here's the trick: Don't wait until you have to implement Plan B to start working on Plan D. Even if it feels premature, plant a few seeds. Those seeds will sprout while you are busy with Plan B. By the time you have to initiate Plan C, your ultimate options are already better and clearer.

  • Plan A is your first plan -- how your business is working right now.
  • Plan B is usually a modification of Plan A -- one that involves adjustments, not revolution.
  • Plan C is a radical departure. You can't risk another modification. Make a big change.
  • Plan D is always the same: Sell the business or close it. But by planting the seeds early, you will be able to do so with a sense of calm and control.

My skepticism is great, but not great enough. I've always assumed that you can get better deals by shopping at outlet malls.

Not that I do. I shop at local stores because I want to support small businesses. But my assumption about outlet malls turns out to be naive. Check out these facts:

  • On average, shoppers spend nearly 80 percent more money at a bare bones outlet mall than they would at a fully loaded regional mall. So says Ellen Shell, author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.
  • Many brands, including the Gap, Ann Taylor, Coach (which makes 80 percent of its money from its outlet stores), Brooks Brothers, and Donna Karan, produce goods specifically for outlets.
  • This merchandise is made to a lower standard, with coarser materials, fewer details, and poorer workmanship.

You can often spot the difference on the tags and labels. Sometimes the tag will even have special markings. (Coach labels have an "F," which indicates the item is to be sold only at factory outlets.)

The best thing to do?

Buy real quality when it comes to clothing, accessories, home furnishings, and other "basics." It will be more expensive, so you'll have fewer items. But you'll truly enjoy what you have.

We've told you before that anti-bacterial soap is not necessary. Regular soap, when used properly, kills bacteria perfectly fine. (You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and get between those fingers.)

Now new research from the University of California, Davis, has found that the primary chemicals in anti-bacterial soap -- triclosan and triclocarban -- could damage sex hormones and the nervous system in humans. Past studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals disrupts growth and development in rats and frogs.

In the United States, 76 percent of liquid soaps and 26 percent of bar soaps contain triclosan, according to a 2001 study in the American Journal of Infection Control. And three-quarters of people tested in the U.S. have triclosan in their urine, according to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The doctors at Total Health Breakthroughs say that more research must be done before we can be sure of how serious the health risk is. Meanwhile, they suggest that you stop using anti-bacterial soaps.

Janet Osmond, a longtime Early to Rise subscriber, is eager to start her own business.

She knows it is going to be an Internet business, but she doesn't know what kind of products she should sell. She wrote to ask me how I come up with the "inspirations" for my businesses.

I don't know exactly. They just pop into my head. But the reason they pop into my head is not because I'm a business genius. It's because I am talking, reading, and thinking about business all the time.

For someone like Janet -- who isn't starting businesses all the time -- the process has to be more methodical. Here is what I suggest:

1. Take an honest appraisal of your assets. Do you have money to invest? If so, how much? It's possible to start an Internet business with as little as $1,000. But most of the time your initial investment will be $10,000 or more.

2. Assess your knowledge-based assets too. Do you understand how Internet businesses work? Are you a master marketer? If not, you have to acquire a certain level of knowledge before you begin. When you start a new business with money and no knowledge, you quickly exchange that money for knowledge. But then you're broke. That doesn't work.

3. Look at your emotional assets. Do you have the resolve to work 12-16 hours a day when the business takes off? Can you summon up the courage to sell your ideas to everyone you meet? If you are lacking drive, don't worry too much. If the business starts making money, you'll be motivated. But if you can't bring yourself to sell your products, you will almost certainly fail. You can learn how to sell by learning copywriting. You can also look into a new product Paul Lawrence is developing. He is calling it something like "How To Sell If You Can't Sell." When it is ready -- in about a month -- he'll be advertising it in ETR.

4. Once your assets are assembled, it's time to figure out what you want to sell. If you know a lot about some particular industry -- golf, gardening, pet grooming, etc. -- give that priority. You are much more likely to succeed if you approach your business as an insider -- even if your inside knowledge is based on being a consumer rather than a seller.

5. Narrow your selection by doing research. Read trade publications and the popular press. Do keyword research related to your niche. Look closely at competitors. (If there's no competition, that probably means your idea isn't saleable.) You should also do simple Google searches to see if your idea has an online presence.

6. If you establish that there is a market for your product, start testing on a small scale. Consider developing an e-book on your niche. Put up some pay-per-click ads. Start spreading the word on social media sites.

7. Pay particular attention to the offer: how much you charge for your products, what bonuses you give (if any), and your guarantee and refund policy.

8. Then develop at least two really good sales pieces and test them. Test copy. Test offers. Test media. Keep testing till you discover your optimal selling strategy (OSS).

9. Once you have that, "roll out" your business by reinvesting the lion's share of your profits into marketing.

This is by no means a complete answer to Janet's question. To find out more -- in fact, to get a complete instruction manual on entrepreneurship -- consider coming to this year's Bootcamp in November.

"You can start any kind of business in the world." – Paul Lawrence

If you want to get into your own business but are missing any of the key assets listed above, don't despair. Paul Lawrence has a very good solution for you. "You don't need capital, expertise, or experience to have the business of your choice," he says. "All you need is a partner who is willing to supply what you are missing."

Paul should know. He's started more than a dozen successful small businesses, and the most successful of them have been with partners.

One example: For many years, Paul dreamed of producing a big, A-list comedy sketch competition in LA. Finally, four years ago, he found an LA-based producer to partner with. Their first competition was a small success. Each year, it got a little better. And each year, Paul brought in new partners, people who could supply his project with resources he could not. This year, the competition will be held in the legendary Hollywood Bowl. Just as exciting, it will feature a movie star and some very accomplished comics.

"I owe this success almost entirely to my partners," Paul told me.

Partnering has been a big part of my business strategy too. Whenever I open an overseas office for one of my clients, I look for local partners. My clients bring the fundamental marketing expertise, and the partners contribute the local contacts and labor force.

When I decided to get into health publishing, I partnered with a very knowledgeable doctor. He had experience and credibility I could not produce. And we used that knowledge and credibility to build strong, profitable businesses.

For more ideas on partnering, check out this special report.

What is happening in California illustrates why the "War on Drugs" does nothing to curb drug use ... and actually makes the streets more dangerous.

A British paper, The Telegraph, reports that Mexican drug gangs are pulling in billions of dollars every year from marijuana growing operations in California. The growers know the state doesn't have the manpower to police its 20 million acres of national and state parks. So they are using illegal immigrant workers to plant industrial scale "plantations" on public land -- clearing trees, damming creeks, and spraying pesticides.

And you can bet that these gangs are rather protective of their multimillion-dollar crops. State officials have said that gun battles are already breaking out.

By criminalizing a relatively harmless plant, the government has created an illicit trade where violent gangs are reaping billions. This money funds further cartel operations, including the smuggling of harder drugs and weapons. And now when good people want to take a hike or go camping, they have more dangerous animals to watch out for than bears and snakes.

California should set an example by legalizing, regulating, and taxing the growing and selling of marijuana. That would not increase drug use. (Anybody who wants pot can get it.) And it could go a long way toward solving the state's $24 billion budget crisis ... and remove the incentives that are fueling the violent drug trade.

Early to Rise No Longer Full of Self-Indulgent Blather?

Early to Riser Bruce Midgett, a freelance publisher and writer, writes in with his thoughts about the "new" Early to Rise:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing us Early to Rise Edition #2737: "Michael Masterson's Special Theory of Automatic Wealth," written by Michael, about Michael's ideas, in Michael's own words. I only remain a subscriber because on the rare occasions, maybe once every week or two, I find something in there (and I usually have to dig pretty deep to find it) I simply have to keep for future reference. Even then, I routinely purge many of those "gems" when I find them ultimately useless.

"Which brings me to Michael's essay. The breath of fresh air. The most cogent, coherent piece that's appeared in ETR for years. And the most useful and intriguing. Brilliantly written. Presented in full concept. Built of substance. No boring stories about how his daughter came home from school yesterday with some question or observation that would rearrange the universe. No sappy tales of someone's woe (other than his own) that was turned around in 50 seconds with a simple snap of some guru's finger. And nothing to sell. At least not yet.

"I continue to be impressed with the quality of both the thought and writing in recent issues of ETR. And with the depth of research beneath it all. And I'm pleased with the lack of clutter and noise around the content. Also seems that you've de-emphasized personal opinions somewhat (as opposed to thoughtful, fact-based, well-considered opinions).

"It's all good even though at least half of it doesn't pertain too much to what I'm involved in at present. I also realize things change and each of us has different needs, and what is meaningless to me right now may emerge prominently before me half a year down the road or may make a vital difference in the life and business of someone else.

"Thanks for this reading. Bring us more. And less self-indulgent blather."

Bruce Midgett
MBP Customer Publishers
Missoula, MT

© 2009 Early to Rise, LLC.

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