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Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

Geoff Ficke Discusses Five Personality Traits to Success!

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Geoff Ficke Discusses Five Personality Traits to Success!

Expert explains if idea is a good one and if  you have what it takes-

See if Your Idea makes the cut…

Do you have a product idea but just aren’t sure where to start?  Is your business ready to move to the next level, but you don’t have the connections to make that happen? Geoff Ficke has been helping hundreds of people make their business dreams come true!

Through his 40 years of practical experience Geoff has been  mentoring, teaching and consulting with small and micro-businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors to enable them to turn dreams and ideas into products and successful commercial opportunities. Some of his Consumer Product Clients include some of the world’s most recognized companies.  He’s worked with products from skin care to cupcakes to health supplements and more. And he’ll share his wisdom with your listeners!

Phones will light up about with listeners calling in with their questions on this hot topic!

Let Geoff Ficke answer their questions about how to get their business idea to market

Suggested Show Topics for Geoff Ficke:

  • How to get funding for your business idea
  • What makes a product or business idea successful
  • How to get your product or business idea to market

Questions for Geoff Ficke:

1.   Is now the best time to start a new business?

2.   How do I find funding?

3.   Do I really need a business plan?

4.   Where do I go to get a prototype of my product made?

5.   Can I sell or license my business idea?

6.   Should I go to one of those invention services advertised on television?

7.   Where can I find manufacturers for my product?

8.   Do I have to patent my idea? How much does that cost and what do I do?

9.   What 5 personal traits are essential for achieving entrepreneurial success?

10. Can I bootstrap my way to success?

11. Tell us some of your success stories.

12. I’m ready! How do I get a hold of you to help me make my business idea happen?!

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing,  ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors,  students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Contact Alexis Bruning to schedule an interview with Geoff Ficke at 513-602-9040.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KWYR 1260 AM The Focus 1260 Show on April 2nd at 11:15 CT

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Geoff Ficke


Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KWYR 1260 AM The Focus 1260 Show on April 2nd at 11:15 CT

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss Personality Traits to Success

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke.

“Geoff Ficke will appear on The Focus 1260 Show with Host Marsha Raye April 2nd at 11:15 am CT”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the opportunity to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”.

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”.

Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm
has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the United States and internationally.


“Without Risk There Is No Adventure” In Any Aspect of Life

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

In 2007 a film documentary on extreme skiing was introduced to the public at the Tribeca Film Festival. The movie, “Steep….Without Risk There is No Adventure” is a stunning homage to daredevil, pioneering athletes who test themselves in ways that defy logic as exercised by more timid, placid souls. Risking one’s life in pursuit of bigger, meaner, steeper, ever more remote mountain challenges and attacking these seemingly insurmountable obstacles on a pair of boards strapped to the feet is an amazing display of courage, recklessness and fortitude that is rarely seen in today’s play it safe society.

The movie tracks the birth and growth of extreme skiing as the world’s most challenging sport. In 1971, Bill Briggs successfully skied down Wyoming’s Grand Teton Mountain, from peak to the foot of the famous, jagged rock. This is credited as the birth of extreme skiing. At the time it was considered a near impossibility to conquer Grand Teton on ski’s, owing to the sheer drops, thin snow cover and rock crevices that had not only never been skied, but were not well charted.

Brigg’s is interviewed in Steep and famously stated, “If there is no risk, there is no adventure”. His accomplishment, and his aversion to country club, resort skiing, opened the eyes of a whole generation of swashbuckling ski entrepreneurs who began to seek out the most daring and dangerous mountains and glaciers to conquer. Many of these devotees of Bill Briggs, the pioneers of extreme skiing are interviewed and filmed in death defying runs down some of the planets most difficult mountain terrain. The photography is breathtaking, the sight of a tiny speck of humanity taking on the ever changing face of these dangerous mountains is humbling and the athleticism, strength and courage that these exceedingly brave men, and women, display is awe inspiring.

I recently saw Steep again. My first viewing left me sapped by what I had witnessed as an amazing athletic feat performed against overwhelming odds. There was no great financial incentive involved. These extreme skiers were challenging themselves in the greatest, most perfect possible way, by placing their most precious commodity, their lives at risk.

My second viewing reinforced all that I took away from my 2007 theatre introduction to the film, but I left with something else this time. These brave athletes were actually exponentially increasing their adventure by equally enhancing their risk, by facing potential death or serious physical harm in full pursuit of the greatest possible reward they could achieve. The possibility of failure is a large part of what motivates this type of risk taking and makes the achievement of success even more satisfying.

This is the basis of all human achievement. People that play it safe are numerous, productive and ordinary. We need them, and plenty of them. However, they are not visionary, entrepreneurs, creators or engines of invention for business or society. Only risk takers propel advances that improve our lives and the world in which we live, and all risk takers are willing to face the possibility of failure.

We live in a time of economic uncertainty. A job for life, a common piece of the employment compact in past generations, is no longer tenable. And yet, we see politicians, unions and social activists continually chanting for artificial inducements to create jobs. This never works, but they keep on crying for something more to be tried; another “jobs bill’, or shovel ready project. The avoidance of risk is exactly what dooms this type of social engineering.

Innovation creates economic opportunity. In order for there to be innovation, we need to get the government out of the way and allow for the reality that if you try to succeed, you might fail. This is life. Artificially propping up everyone with a safety net will only sap creativity and hamstring risk taking.

The extreme skiers portrayed so gloriously in the movie Steep are actually more than great, courageous athletes. They are role models for living life to the fullest, getting into the game, entrepreneurial greatness and pushing personal limits. Fewer and fewer of us are willing to participate fully in the great game of life. Risk is a tonic for the lethargy and torpor that so many people’s lives have become. As Bill Briggs so aptly stated, “If there is no risk, there is no adventure”.

Why Successful Entrepreneurs Are So Darn Lucky!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

What is your definition of the word “luck”? Not the Webster’s Dictionary definition, your definition. Is it being in the right place at the right time? Picking the right dealer in a casino? Turning up at a party where you meet your current wife (could be good or bad luck)?

Entrepreneurs seem to be so lucky, so often. People see their success and attribute much of their good fortune to luck. What luck that they thought the idea would work. The luck of the Irish for old Doyle, don’t you think? It was his great good luck to file that patent when he did.

The passengers in life attribute so much of fate and successful outcomes to random luck. “Lightning strikes for others, just never me,” is a bromide that covers the view of people that are perpetually success challenged. The masses that think like this can not see, or comprehend, that luck has little to do with achieving real success as an entrepreneur.

In business, luck is created. Luck generally evolves from capitalizing on a risk taken. Entrepreneurs are not passengers: they are drivers. The drive to succeed and overcome obstacles inherent in attempting to create any new business requires drive, courage, and passion. Not luck!

This is not to say that luck never occurs and is not appreciated. It does occur and it is appreciated. However, when luck rears its happy face it is usually the confluence of hard work bumping into opportunity! If an entrepreneur accidentally bumps into a funding source while enjoying a latte tomorrow morning at Starbucks, is this luck or the result of a business proposition that is properly seasoned?

My experience is that entrepreneurs create luck by stirring a unique brew of personal qualities. Some or all of the following traits are obvious, in every success from the Wright Brothers to Mary Kay Ash. These qualities are the true ingredients required that make luck occur.

Every entrepreneur is perpetually afraid. The fear of failure is palpable. They can not stand the thought of failure and will do anything possible to avoid it. The need to succeed is demonstrated in a confidence that they develop in their novel product, their ultimate success, and the benefits their product will produce for consumers. Confidence smothers fear. Fear creates inertia. Failures are always afraid, to try, to fail, to be criticized. The confidence necessary to succeed in a brutal marketplace is earned through hard work, study, preparedness and finding answers to obstacles.

We all have doubts. However, successful entrepreneurs overcome fear and doubt and grow in confidence as they master their task. The confidence earned is a great key to attainment of success. There is no luck involved.

Learn From Mistakes
My first sales manager had only three basic bits of wisdom for a youngster starting out on a sales career:
1. Make all of the mistakes you must, once!
2. Study and learn from each mistake you make!
3. If you are torn between choices, and face a choice that might lead to a mistake, make the most aggressive choice!

Everybody makes mistakes. Coca-Cola brought out New Coke and almost murdered a world famous brand. Merck was seriously harmed by the failure of the prescription drug Vioxx. What was the Ford Motor Car Co. thinking in 1958 when the Edsel was introduced? There was the matter of a President of the United States and an intern. Pete Rose has lost his almost certain place in the Baseball Hall of Fame over gambling.

The key is not the mistake, but learning from and not repeating the mistake. The only way we avoid mistakes (almost impossible in all but the most sedentary lives) is to never try anything new. Entrepreneurs are always going to try. The successful ones make aggressive mistakes, learn from their errors and this minimizes the probability of repeat errors.

A baseball player is considered a star if a .300 batting average is achieved. This means that failure is a result 70% of the times they bat. Players hate to make outs. No one could succeed at baseball unless they seek and obtain a psychological comfort zone that enables them to filter and balance the mistakes in making outs, and the positives they learn from making a base hit.
After an out is made, players can not wait for their next trip to the plate to get another chance. This is the way entrepreneurs think after a mistake is made.

A Congressman drives while drunk, crashes his car, hits a parked police vehicle and then claims amnesia. Did the dog ever eat your homework? The NBC television news magazine 20/20 has run several shows showing men using the internet to organize meetings hoping to conclude a sexual encounter with very young girls. The men, caught in the act, always deny intent, knowledge or responsibility. The top executives at Global Crossing, Enron and Adelphia scandalously bankrupted their huge businesses, costing thousands of employees their jobs and pensions and millions of investors lost their investment in equity in these firms. And yet, none of the accused executives knew anything about what was going on (they claim) inside their businesses while they were taking tens of millions of dollars in annual compensation. Responsibility is an endangered quality in a modern world that has embraced the psycho-babble of endless victimology!

If I was the Earth Czar, and could re-engineer one physical feature of the human body, it would be this: the palm of every human being’s left hand would have a small mirror permanently attached. And everyday, several times per day, we could look at the mirror and see the reflection of a man, or a mouse. Successful people, including every fine entrepreneur I have ever known, assume full responsibility for every decision that they take. The assignment of blame on another person, or an outside condition is a diversion.

As human beings we have the unique ability to make choices, free will and the ability to reason. These tools are denied every other form of life. A lion or a fruit fly operates solely on a pre-programmed set of instincts. A lion is nor responsible for what it kills. It is on earth to kill. However, if a person kills, they are solely responsible.

Entrepreneurs assume full responsibility for their success, and failure. The luck so many would subscribe to a successful entrepreneur is actually a manifestation of the ability to make reasoned decisions and abide the consequences of those choices.

Imagine a boy, dreaming of playing and starring at professional football, and suffering 10 years of indignity, disappointment and failure in trying to achieve this goal. After an average high school career, playing in a rural town with no exposure, he is not offered a single scholarship to a Division-1 NCAA school. He plays for four, largely undistinguished years at a small school in Iowa. After graduating, the National Football League does not draft him and he is not offered a free agent tryout. He goes to work in a super market and catches on with an Arena Football League team. The pay per game is $400.

Interestingly, his growing success in the Arena Football League over several seasons makes his name at least a point of conversation in one NFL office. He is scouted, thought to be a bit too old but maybe worth a test in NFL Europe. After one very successful season in Europe, he is invited to a NFL training camp. As camp began, he was listed as the fifth quarterback on the team’s depth chart. An injury to a quarterback, then another quarterback injury, and now third on the depth chart, he has realized his dream. He is signed to a contract.

Now the tale could end here. He is a real NFL quarterback. Goal achieved. However, our struggling quarterback has persisted and now that he has made a team he wants to play, and knows, really knows that he will be a star if given a chance. It takes another season, a few more injuries and he gets his shot. At the age of 28 he leads his team to a Super Bowl championship, is the league Most Valuable Player, is named All Pro and signs a multi-million dollar contract.

Kurt Warner, our quarterback, is the most unlikely of football successes. Every college team, every scout and every professional team missed on him. In a sport where players are computer rated, graded, tested, weighed, timed, quizzed and probed from high school onward not one assessment rated him a player of potential. And yet, he is one of the best players in professional football.

Perseverance can not be taught. Some people quit at the first sign of trouble. Edison tested over 1000 versions of the light bulb before he perfected his invention. Kurt Warner would not listen to the experts telling to get on with his life’s work and that work would not include football. He made his own luck through work, sweat, sacrifice and perseverance.

Adapt to Changing Business Climate and Prosper Or Get Left Behing and Perish

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

by: Geoff Ficke,

Two business announcements this week reconfirm the unbelievable pace of change the world business climate is undergoing. Visionary fashion designer Liz Claiborne died and her Company announced that it would sell or close 16 divisions. And, pioneering retailer Leslie Wexner announced that his firm, Limited Brands, Inc. would put up for sale the Limited and Limited Express chains.

The nature of retail, like most other industries, has undergone radical change. Big box category killers like Staples and Best Buy have evolved into dominating international success stories. Tesco, WalMart and Carrefours offer enormous scale, one stop shopping unimaginable a generation ago. Specialty retailers such as Wet Seal, Aeropostiale, Abercrombie and Fitch, L’Occitaine and Talbots attack specific niches.

Consolidation, bankruptcy and liquidation have allowed fewer and fewer national department store and supermarket chains. Macy’s has consolidated nationally after absorbing numerous regional department store chains such as Lazarus, Bullocks, Burdines and Marchall Field. W.T. Grant, Montgomery Ward, AyrWay, Venture and Gold Circle are only a few examples of once strong groups that no longer exist.

The Limited began in 1963 as a single clothing store in Columbus, Ohio. Leslie Wexner saw an opportunity to create an amazing retail growth story by replicating designer clothing designs, mass producing offshore and selling tailored business clothing to the rapidly emerging population of female businesswoman. He became a billionaire by leveraging and extending The Limited to numerous additional store brands including Limited Too, Victoria’s Secret, Henri Bendel and Bath and Body Works.

Despite the huge past success of the ready to wear concept pioneered by The Limited stores, times change and Mr. Wexner reacted accordingly. Work patterns have changed, women’s fashion taste, always fickle and subject to unexpected trends, have become even more unpredictable. His decision to sell the chain is prudent and will result in a stronger Company with redeployment of assets and full concentration applied to faster growing divisions. The decision to spin off his alpha divisions may have been difficult from an emotional standpoint, but future success requires staying ahead of the curve and Leslie Wexner will always strive for maximum success.

Ms. Claiborne built her eponymous fashion house by creating high quality, suits and ready to wear that women loved for their cut, tailoring and detail, all the while keeping prices affordable. Though she had retired some years ago from active management, she and her husband remained involved in consulting on fashion direction for the Company.

Nevertheless, as always, things never remain the same in retail. Department store consolidation has enabled groups like Macy’s to create in house private label brands that produce much more profit than designer brands like Claiborne, Polo and Nautica can offer. As more store space is dedicated to private label store brands the designer labels have to reinvent themselves. In the case of Liz Claiborne, 16 divisions will be jettisoned and total focus applied to the namesake men’s and women’s brands, accessories, shoes and fragrances.

These are only two examples of successful, well managed, mature Companies adjusting to the business realities they confront. W.T. Grant did not react to change and died. Thousands of independent stores have not reacted to change and they no longer exist. Local and regional chains that did not adjust to market realities are gone.

Ice houses, barrel makers and bicycle manufacturers are non-existent today, though they thrived in the 19th and early 20th century. Dozens of auto manufacturers folded in the past century and the remaining “Big 3” are in real trouble because they have not adjusted to market realities. Numerous airlines have failed, been through bankruptcy or been purchased by stronger, better-managed lines. Change is inevitable and is best confronted and embraced, not fought.

Every day in my consulting business we are introduced to people offering products, services and business opportunities seeking a way to successfully commercialize their offerings. Invariably, the dream of the entrepreneur is to secure placement in WalMart. Yes, the same WalMart so scorned by so many as a small business and small town killer. I often think that the people so opposed to WalMart would be proponents of home delivered ice instead of refrigeration if alive a century ago.

These Luddites can not recognize that WalMart is only the latest, most significant, agent of change. Does WalMart put mom and pop stores out of business. I contend they do not. Business owners that do not recognize the change that WalMart represents, adjust accordingly and create new services that offer real value for their customers do close. Failure is never pretty, but is usually accompanied by solid reasons and an unwillingness to change.

WalMart has spent billions of dollars trying to perfect a ready to wear clothing business. They have failed to date miserably. WalMart has grown a huge food business, however, traditional chains such a Kroger and Safeway are more profitable and growing faster. They have added organic food departments, exciting bakeries and deli’s and a much broader range of products than WalMart. They evolved, changed and keep a step ahead of WalMart.

Thousands of small, independent clothiers, florists, grocers, butchers, pharmacies and auto repair shops do compete successfully with neighboring big box retailers. They do so by offering goods and services that are highly targeted, providing better customer service, a faster shopping experience, customizing offerings, home delivery and personalizing the buyer/seller relationship. These successful small retailers do not like the big bullies, but they recognize reality, confront the changes they face and compete. They do not whine, sit idly awaiting disaster or quit. They work smarter and compete.

Change is coming, always. It is good. We all live better lives because of change. Our children will as well. If we do not embrace change we will be left behind to perish. This is true for people, companies, organizations and societies.

In Defense of Success

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

by: Geoff Ficke

During a January 1980 television interview, then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stated, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions. He had money as well”. Our current times make this keen observation particularly relevant. We continually are bombarded with facts and figures concerning fairness, income distribution, giving and sharing the wealth.

I am a capitalist. In certain circles that assertion is met with derision, claims of selfishness and images of Dickensian hoarding. I plead guilty. I seek, pursue and continually work to increase my share of the planet’s treasure. I do so honorably, with planning, effort, assumption of reasonable risk and a fair amount of toil. I have the opportunity, and in the United States, at least for now, the right to try to succeed. I also have the chance to fail.

Adam Smith, the original philosopher for capitalism, wrote of the “Invisible Hand”. His theory was that people working in their own self interest, pursuing gain and profit, indirectly contributed to the common good by dint of their selfish efforts. If I start a business, I typically am trying to make a profit. That is the goal of any private enterprise. However, as I push to achieve my profit goal, I will consume supplier’s goods and services, pay fees and taxes to government, probably have to employ labor and invest in plant and inventory. My selfish pursuit of profit inadvertently benefits a wide range of other entities.

Without profit, and thus success, there can be no Good Samaritan. By succeeding in one’s chosen endeavor, we have the ability to pay taxes, thus funding government. We can endow universities. We can give to a vast array of charities and religious organizations. Whether for Live Aid, Tsunami Relief, food for Darfur, or the local food-bank, success and profit enable most good works to happen.

Government is a consumer of profit. Government makes nothing and produces no wealth. Government has no money except the revenue it takes from citizens through taxation. When a government grant is bestowed on your town it is not a gift. It is simply your tax dollars being returned after a HUGE discount has been absorbed in the state capital or Washington, D. C.

There has been a wonderful hoax perpetrated by the modern political class. Promise something for everybody and project that another group is going to have to pay for the benefit. Only profit making enterprise, paying employees wages and consuming suppliers goods and services provides the capital to fuel the insatiable lust of government for ever more funds to grow ever more programs and benefits.

When profits disappear plants will close, employee jobs are lost and ultimately the ability to pay taxes and donate to worthwhile causes is inhibited. This is the exact reason that high taxes cripple growth, while lower taxes create the impetus for industry to expand, and thus, generate more goods, services, jobs and revenue that can be taxed.

And yet, many of the people most beholden to the “Invisible Hand” of profit generation, government employees, bureaucrats, charities, those receiving government benefits and the dole are most contemptuous of the capitalist system that funds this largesse. A successful businessman is pictured as greedy. A prosperous business or industry is cast as profit mongering. When was the last time a Hollywood film represented business as anything other than a Gordon Gekko parody?

All over the world the pursuit of success, free entreprise and freedom is on the rise. Former second and third world economies are rapidly industrializing and assuming many of the traits of capitalism. Centrally planned economies, even in formerly doctrinaire Communist countries like Romania, Russia and Bulgaria are following more and more of the American model to prosperity.

Success is an admirable goal. Profit is wonderful. The creation of some form of wealth, financial and personal, should be everyone’s goal. Accumulated capital enables us to fund our wasteful, contemporary, bloated government, but more importantly donate to causes and groups we deem important to society. As Margaret Thatcher stated of the Good Samaritan, “He had money as well”. We should all be thankful he did.

The Sad Case of Humans Not Learning The Lessons of History

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

by: Geoff Ficke

For the past several years I have been amazed at the continual bombardment of radio, television and print advertisements offering people the supposed opportunity to work, profit, succeed and be independent with little pain or effort required. Every night there are numerous 30 minute long form infomercials touting real estate, multi-level marketing, foreclosure, stock trading schemes, warehouse purchasing, and more, all aimed at inducing the viewer to take part, make an investment, buy a course and sit back as success falls into their laps. I wish that it could be so!

Obviously these shameless pitches are working. Commercial time and print advertising are very expensive, even at 3:00 in the morning on the Home and Garden Channel. Gullible people have always found the con irresistible, and con artists are only too happy to grease the inevitable human hope that riches can be easily attained.

The Italian immigrant Charles Ponzi created the scam for which his name is so nefariously linked: the Ponzi Scheme. Mr. Ponzi was not the first, just the first to be caught and publicized, as a seller of goods he did not own. The first purchasers of these products seem to realize an excellent return on their investment. The Ponzists’s then proceed to tout this return to many other investors creating a feeding frenzy, greed being the principal motivator, with the last sets of participants owning deeds, warrants or contracts worth nothing. Money gone, hope shattered, trust gone, the losers in these schemes would seem to be a cautionary trial horse for everyone seeking to become involved in the chimera of something great to be gained for very little risk. Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, many of us will suspend our disbelief and good judgement and join the frenzy.

The Dutch experienced an infamous spin of the Ponzi Scheme in the 1700’s: The Tulip Craze. A tulip mania was created by promoters that lured thousands of unsuspecting of Dutch families into converting their savings and land into tulip farms. The theory was that worldwide demand for tulips was so great and commercial farming capacity so limited, that planting the crop would yield huge profits. Bulb stocks became hot commodity investment vehicles. As prices soared the mania quickened. Alas, the reality was that hugely inflated, mature tulip crops had no greater market outlets than in prior years. The winners were the fad promoters. Well, at least the tulip is a beautiful flower, and Holland must have been very fragrant and colorful during the craze.

A more contemporary example of a whole society losing their minds over what now seems to be lunacy was the 1980’s craze over Cleopatra’s Secret. A South African promoter created the myth that a milk culture was the miracle ingredient in a skin cream called Cleopatra’s Secret. The cream was supposedly uniquely formulated with a key ingredient derived from aging milk cultures in petree dishes placed in strategically determined climactic conditions. This was the reputed secret of the legendary Egyptian queen’s beauty.

During periods of the 1980’s virtually every house in South Africa seemed to have milk cultures sitting in sunny windows, smelling up the dwelling. The South African Stock Exchange had a booming listing for the company that was purportedly selling the milk culture kits that were ultimately to be harvested: on a regular basis to produce the miracle cream.

Oops, a funny thing happened on the way to thousands of housewives cashing in on the Cleo mania: the promoter shut down, there was no after-market for milk culture. Unfortunately for South Africa, the country was not as fragrant or lovely as Holland awash in tulips. Milk cultures stink!

Today the scam artists pitches are smoother, more believable and so tantalizing to so many people hoping to take a shortcut to comfort, profit and freedom from boring toil. The opportunity to work from home, at your pace and leisure and profit based on your needs is intoxicating to millions. No money down, just follow the time-tested template lesson plan, we have eliminated all of the pitfalls from the fool proof program, and so many similar spiels are targeted to make the consumer feel almost foolish if they are not participating in the game.

I have a rhetorical question we should consider when presented these get rich quick pitches: “If this is so profitable, why aren’t you (the marketer) spending 100% of your time capitalizing on this gold mine formula, rather than selling a video course, or a how-to book for a few dollars”? “Would you altruistically share a multi-million dollar secret with strangers when there are piles of money left to be made”? We all know the answer?

There is no get rich quick scheme that I have ever discovered, and believe me I have looked. Unless there is illegality involved, you will have to settle for getting rich slow. The prudent investor, inventor and businessperson will always win out over the reckless dreamer.

My firm views hundreds of new product submissions each year. Many have real commercial merit and potential. Most do not. The products that have real success opportunities offer user benefits of real value. A product that helps improve an experience or need always can find a home. The key point to consider when pursuing an economic opportunity is the markets need for that particular product, service or invention. If that niche need can be identified and filled, then chances increase exponentially for a successful placement.

Millions of people cultivating tulips, or tending smelly milk cultures, seeking foreclosure opportunities, or chasing the latest get rich fad will always lead to disappointment. Even worse than the money lost investing in these scams is the loss of trust.

The next time you are exposed to an advertisement promising to change your life, add to your income, enable you to buy a McMansion or a helicopter, and obtain riches painlessly, be very cynical, very careful. There are no shortcuts to success. If there were, we would all be very rich and probably have our own infomercials.

The author, Geoff Ficke is an international marketing consultant and small business expert. A frequent radio and television guest, Mr. Ficke is also a university lecturer, mentor and coach. He can be reached at gficke@msn.com – 859 567 1609.

Aristotle Onassis, One of the World’s Richest Men

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

by: Geoff Ficke

How He Recreated Himself

Makes a Great Success Study

 Aristotle Onassis was one of the most successful, publicized and examined people in the world during the middle of the 20th century. Today, years after his death, he is principally remembered as an ultra-rich shipping magnate, touring the world on his magnificent yacht and for his romance with the diva soprano Maria Callas and marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy. Before he attained business and social heights, however, he was a very rough, uncultured, non-work of art. His effort to change a dim future is worth a look: and is instructional as a teaching aid that anyone can utilize in pursuit of success.

Onassis was born in Turkey of Greek parents. At the end of World War l he, along with millions of others, was forced into refugee status and arrived in Argentina as a penniless immigrant. His Spanish was minimal, his education limited and his skills on offer were not highly prized. Nevertheless, he examined his circumstance realistically and with deep analysis. He recognized that out of post-war chaos would come opportunity for the agile and creative entrepreneur. Being broke was just an obstacle, not a closed door to Onassis.

As Onassis learned the ways of Argentine society and business he noticed that there were specific clubs, restaurants, hotels and theatres that were almost exclusively frequented by the successful business and political class. Always a keen observer of human nature, he realized that contacts and friendships of value to an ambitious fellow like himself could only be nurtured in this rarified realm. Onassis was determined to find a way in.

He worked mundane jobs, including a stint as a telephone operator. However, he was different from co-workers and other immigrants. He immersed himself in all things Argentine and he saved every cent he earned that was not needed for basic sustenance. Most importantly, he recognized the old saying; “the rich are different from you and me” was so true. He needed to emulate the rich in order to become rich. He never looked at successful people as the enemy. He had aspirations, not jealousy in his heart.

Onassis became addicted to quality in all areas of life. While still poor, he saved every peso until he could afford a Saville Row hand cut suit. He only had one suit, but it was elegant. He also observed that the rich seemed to appear healthier, happier. They seemed to sport suntan skin as a badge of their fortunate lifestyle. Onassis developed a lifetime addiction to pursuit of the perfect suntan. His tan was internationally famous long before the actor George Hamilton gained similar fame. To this day, a suntan is an emblem of the good life for the successful class.

A Saville Row suit, quality personal furnishings and a suntan that reeked of idle leisure and success were only a start. Onassis was still a rough cob. Nevertheless, he believed in his ultimate destiny. He would have a drink every night at the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel in Buenos Aires, the cities finest. Only one drink, because that was all he could afford. He still worked as a telephone operator, but he kept his parallel lives as a blue-collar worker and social status seeker firmly differentiated.

His nightly visits to the Intercontinental Hotel bar gradually lead to his building a network of business and social contacts. The famous Argentine soprano Claudia Musa frequently visited the hotel. She was an adored opera star and a cultured beauty. Onassis was basically nobody and a poseur. And yet, he pursued the beautiful singer, and with his usual tenacity he won her heart. This drive to win would be displayed in every area of his long and exciting life.

Onassis recognized that Argentine women preferred a type of sweet Turkish tobacco that was not widely available in South America. Utilizing his newly found relationships; he brokered an import deal for an inventory of the tobacco. He assembled the capital necessary to organize a small factory and began to market several brands of Turkish cigarettes. This small, but successful deal was the basis for his later international business prominence.

Onassis recognized that World War II was imminent. The movement of war materiel was going to become crucial to the Allies winning the war. Shipping would be highly profitable, if he could find an inventory of ships to purchase. With customary elan, he found a small fleet of sturdy but well used freighters on the St. Lawrence Waterway and arranged a tight line of credit to purchase the motley flotilla. He was on his way to becoming the most famous shipping magnate in history.

Entrepreneurs, in order to succeed, often must change elements of their personal lifestyle. We have all heard the old adage, “success breeds success”. No one practiced this truism more fully and instructively than Aristotle Onassis. He bought one high quality suit. He squired beautiful women. He went to the finest clubs, even though he could not afford much more than one drink. He used his new environment, new contacts and network to benefit his single-minded pursuit of success. Why did Willy Sutton rob banks: because that was where the money was! Onassis also made the elemental decision to hang out where the money was.

I work with entrepreneurs from all walks of life: no two are alike. One of the most difficult aspects of the entrepreneurial process that must be overcome is the need to adjust lifestyle. Sacrifice today will pay dividends tomorrow. Venture capital usually will not be found in a pool hall. The necessity to improve one’s self-presentation and to network continually is paramount. You must be constantly closing the sale, improving your skills and totally focus on achieving your goal.

Aristotle Onassis worked blue-collar jobs, spoke Spanish as a third language, was a displaced immigrant on a strange continent and had zero personal assets. Nevertheless, he organized a personal plan to overcome his obstacles and lead a life of legendary accomplishment.

I spend a great deal of time in my marketing and funding consulting work coaching inventors and entrepreneurs to overcome self-imposed hurdles. Some easily recognize the need to change habits and to utilize pieces of the Onassis template. They often have the ability to succeed. Many more unfortunately, decide that they know best, markets will adapt to their wants and a shortcut to success can be taken. They always fail. This is an absolute observation.

Contact me to discuss this article, other topics related to entrepreneurial pursuits or a specific project. Geoff Ficke, 859-567-1609,