Firsts Steps to Wealth – Dani Johnson

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Whatever wealth you think you want or need, getting it requires something I call TEEM: Time, Energy, Effort, and Money.

I somehow felt compelled to reach out to this woman. I wanted to know why she was working at McDonald’s. Initially I imagined it was because she wanted to work, or maybe she was bored in her retirement age and wanted something to get her out of the house. But when I saw her resting after wiping each table, I quickly tossed out those assumptions and decided to start up a conversation. I went over, sat next to her, and said in a soft voice, “Hi.” She smiled at me and said, “Well, hello there, honey.” Her sweet smile and gentle-yet-raspy voice touched my heart. After a few minutes of chitchat, I had to ask a question. “How long have you worked here?” “Oh, for a little while,” she said. “Do you like what you do?” “Well, honey, I am just glad to have a job.” “Really? Why is that?” “Social Security and my husband’s pension just is not enough to live on, so I have to work.” “What? Are you kidding me?” “No, sweetheart. I wish I was.” “If you don’t mind, can I ask you a personal question?” “Sure.” “How old are you?” She sighed and chuckled before saying, “I am eighty-nine and will be ninety next month.” Tears welled up my eyes as I heard this. I was so upset at this injustice! I wanted to tell her to quit her job right then and there so I could support her and her husband financially.

Then the reality set in. I could barely take care of myself, let alone this sweet, elderly couple. Where were their kids and grand kids? Who was letting her work like that? What kind of a family did they have? There I was, twenty years old and looking at my possible future.

Now, back to that shocking information that I had learned briefly before meeting the McDonald’s lady. It was a statistic that 98 percent of the population will end up dead or dead broke by age sixty-five. Let me repeat that: 98 percent of the population will end up dead or dead broke by age sixty-five. Only 2 percent of the population will succeed financially.

As I have travelled around the world I have encountered scenarios similar to the McDonald’s lady’s time and again – people living life by default instead of by design, and working breathlessly hard throughout their lives only to end up broke at the end of their race.

Ninety-eight percent of the people I come across are miserable. They put on a game face to convince themselves and others that everything is okay, but it is not. They are working too hard, they are maxed out on credit cards, their marriages are unhappy, and they do not know how to handle their children. They are filled with regret and confusion and do not know how to fix the situation. They have no clue what the end of their path even looks like, let alone how to get there.

Number one, he said, “If you give me one excuse, I will not work with you.” Since that time – in the twenty-two years of being in business and working with tens of thousands of people from all over the world – I have found that people spend more time creating excuses than they do creating results. They spend more time justifying their failures and mediocrity than they do creating results. It takes so little time to create results, but most people spend more time coming up with excuses instead of creating results. Let me give you the definition of an excuse: a well-planned lie. 

At one point I was in a meeting with a man who was making $500,000 a month. It was a private board meeting with several men who were all making a lot of money, and they were sharing ideas. I thought it was an invitation to share ideas, so I piped up and said, “Hey, listen, I have an idea.” He slammed his hand on the table and said, “You are so stupid.” My blood started to boil, but I kept quiet. “How much money do you make?” he asked. “I am just getting started, sir,” I said. “How much money do I make?” “Half a million dollars a month.” “That is what’s wrong with you 98 Percenters,” he said. “You are so busy trying to size yourself up to my success that you’re missing the opportunity to learn from me. If I pay attention to your ideas, I am going to go broke just like you. If you pay attention to my ideas, you have a chance of making half a million dollars a month.”

How do you want to live? It’s up to you. Do not live your life by default – live it by design.

The media sold us the fantasy that buying is the way to be successful and wealthy. The part they did not tell us, though, was the pain, stress, and emptiness “stuff” brings. Or the money and time it takes to maintain and clean the five-bedroom house with six bathrooms. They didn’t tell us about the burden of debt and the stress it causes on a marriage. There is a lot of pressure that goes along with keeping up with “the Joneses.”

Here is a real easy rule of thumb for success and creating wealth. Find out what everyone else is doing and do the exact opposite. The masses historically are wrong, so go in the other direction.

I have a holistic approach to wealth. True wealth to me is accumulating money without sacrificing your marriage, kids, health, or fun.

I have discovered three things you need to know about money: • How to make it and more of it • How to keep it • How to turn it into your slave.

Money is always looking for a place to go. If you do not direct it, your money will get sucked into department stores, grocery stores, and the Internet. It will be sucked into those companies’ bank accounts instead of remaining in your bank account.

Will you be part of the 98 percent who are dead or broke at age sixty-five? Or part of the 2 percent who are living a wealthy, successful, favored life?

So what is your specialty? Is it gossip? Do you specialize in excuses? Sports stats, collecting fashion magazines, junk food, watching TV, Tweeting? Your specialty is where you spend your time. Unfortunately, 98 percent of the population spends its time specializing in things that don’t lead to wealth or happiness.

When you are an entrepreneur, you get paid for results. You do not get paid for time wasted with unproductive feelings.

Desire always reveals design and destiny. An eagle was designed to soar, and it has the desire to soar. The eagle was perfectly designed for it to soar. It was not designed like a chicken. It doesn’t have the desire to cluck around on the ground with a destiny of being deep-fried. Its destiny is soaring. Is the baby eagle designed with a skill to soar? Absolutely not. The baby eagle has to get on the momma eagle’s back and the momma eagle takes the baby soaring. Then the momma eagle tilts her wings and drops the baby off her back. That baby eagle flutters and, I am sure, has a heart that pumps incredibly fast. It works hard, yet it does not soar. It sinks fast in the air. But have no fear. Momma eagle swoops down, lifts the baby onto her back, and then soars up. She tilts her wings and lets the baby off her back again. She does this repeatedly, day after day, until the baby has the skill to fly.

Ego Keeps You Broke, Ego will render you broke for the rest of your life. Ego says, “That is not me” or “Gosh, I would never do a business like that” or “What would my friends think if I was doing something like that?” Ego says it is everybody else’s fault and takes no responsibility. Ego focuses on everybody else’s failures and not your own. Ego wants somebody else to pay for how you feel and somebody else to admit they were wrong.

Make a commitment to stop hurting people and to be someone who is building people up and creating good relationships. Be a source to other people. Be part of a rare breed of people who is achieving success and wealth while honoring others.

Why is it impossible to succeed without the Law of Forgiveness? Because there is one guarantee in life: We are going to face troubles with other human beings. So to succeed in life, in relationships, or in business, you have to know how to deal with people.

I had that sick feeling that I was supposed to do something I did not want to do. I knew it was the thing I was supposed to do, but I did not like the answer. I had to weigh my ego against my bank account. Desperation was not going to afford me the luxury of spending a year looking for the right business. I wanted desperately to be no longer homeless or a failure. I needed to change my life.

If I had ignored that weight-loss box in the back seat of my car and searched for something else to do, I do not know where I would be today. I am so glad that I was desperate and did not have time to be picky or to “find” my passion. I did what was in front of me, working with excellence and diligence. It was clearly worth it!

Then I had heard a voice say, “If you can be faithful with what I have given to you – Hans and the kids – then I will multiply your efforts.”

I have a question for you. Where is your focus today? When you are sitting at your place of work, whether you own the place or you work for someone else, where is your focus when you are at work? Are you answering personal phone calls? Are you texting? Are you Facebooking? Tweeting? Are you searching the Internet? Are you IM-ing – sending instant messages to – friends and forwarding joke e-mails to your office and personal friends? If you are doing any of those things, your focus is split in many different directions and you are not using the Law of Focus to your benefit. You would be amazed at how much more you can get done in your life when you focus.

The Law of Promotion is not just associated with influence and money, but it does correlate with time. If you waste time, you lose it forever. Time is something you never get back again, and it is more valuable than money. If you’re not faithful with your time, your life spins out of control. Your life gets sucked into destruction. Your life gets trapped in an unproductive cycle that destroys your confidence and eventually leads to depression. However, if you are faithful with your time and if you focus, you will be given more.

It is not always the products and services that make people happy. It is the relationship you have with them that makes them happy about being your client. How they feel about it is more important than the product itself. People are not loyal to the products, they are loyal to the people. If they like you, they will do business with you. If they do not like you, they will do business with somebody else.

If you want to be wealthy, you have to know how to sell. But selling is not about trying to get people to like you or buy your products; it is about building relationships and growing your influence. It is about honoring people around you. It is about making people feel valued. Influence is where sales take place.

It is so easy to influence people. It boils down to this simple thing: Give people what they want. What do people want? Everybody wants to feel special. Every human we pass by every single day wants to feel valued. They want to know they matter to somebody. It is easy to gain influence in another person’s life simply by valuing him or her.

Treat everyone like he or she is a friend. This is a very powerful concept. You are happy to see friends and happy to be with them. So if you treat all people with that same sense that you are happy to see them and you like being around them, the same energy is produced as with being with a friend. That is how you should communicate with every person you encounter. Your attitude toward people makes a huge difference. If you are flying on a plane, your feelings toward the airline will be very different if a flight attendant treats you courteously instead of rudely. We have all been talked to in a way that provokes us to give that bossy broad a dirty look and keep our cell phones on. We have also experienced the ones who are sweet and speak to us in a friendly manner, which makes us want to turn off our cell phones. The “Friends First” concept is simple. Talk to every stranger the way you talk to your friends. Be friendly, warm, and inviting. Use the same tone of voice and make them feel comfortable. This disarms strangers and helps them relax and become interested in you.

You can do this by asking questions using something I call FORM. “F” stands for family. “O” stands for occupation. “R” stands for recreation. And “M” stands for message. Asking people about their family, occupation, and recreation is a way to find out what people are interested in and to show interest in them. So get people talking about those three simple things.

When you are FORMing people, you are specifically looking for their SIGN. It’s not their horoscope – it stands for Strengths, Interests, Goals, and Needs.

You should honor, value, and recognize the people all around you, and act in your job as if you own the place and want the people to stay there. It is a natural progression that they will pick you when a management position opens because you are fair and good. You will have gained the people’s favor.

You cannot influence people or get to high levels of influence if your heart is not in the right place. Eventually, the truth comes out about exactly who you are. You will make decisions that will expose who you are, and what you build will not last. Your business will be shaky. You will not sleep well at night knowing you have manipulated people. You will develop a reputation as being untrustworthy and you will have to bribe people – with gifts or money – to be your friends. If you are going to be wealthy, be a wealthy person with an outrageous reputation for treating everyone well, not just the rich and famous or the important people. Be trustworthy in everything you do.

Instead of trying to get something from someone in return, have the larger view of trying to make a difference in the world and in your community. You will be amazed at the outcome and where it will take you.

I expanded my mindset to influence people not for selfish reasons but because I want them to have a better life.

If you have an appointment with a Sapphire, do not expect him or her to be on time. When you get upset with a Sapphire who is late, it is your fault for getting upset. That’s the way they are wired – love them for their strengths. Tell them thirty minutes earlier than you need them and bring your computer so you can get some work done while you wait. You will wait.

Emeralds can be more productive if they remember it is not about perfection, it is about getting the job done with results and testing the results. Why try to learn everything in advance when you may already have a baseline of skill and things you did not have to learn? You wasted time learning some things you did not need to, but if you test the results, you will see the areas where you need to focus.

Rubies always have to have the next step, a goal, or a challenge in front of them. They constantly have to be moving in a forward direction because that is what they were born to do.

The Law of Promotion means to prosper where you are planted. If you show you can be trusted with what’s in front of you, you will be made ruler of much. A lot of people think they will treat people a certain way when they are successful, or they will give to charity when they are wealthy. But you have to treat people that way now, and you have to give to others now. Invest in your job like it is your own company, and that’s how you will get promoted. Turn where you work into something better than it is. Ninety-eight percent of the population thinks they deserve a raise just for showing up. A raise means an increase – and you get an increase by increasing. You have to get better than when you got there, and you have to make it better. You have to make a difference instead of just sucking up oxygen and expecting a paycheck. Ninety-eight percent of the population wants to find a job that they love, but that is not how it works. If you find a way to love your job now, you will be given more. If you cannot manage your current job, how can you manage a bigger one? If you cannot manage your employees now, how can you manage them if your business grows? One of the basic steps to wealth is to take care of what you already have.

That same message has hit me in many areas of my life, from my marriage to my business: If you cannot respect and honor what you have now, and you do not take care of it, you will never graduate to the next place.

You have the ability to change your environment without changing your physical location. Your environment is in your head. It exudes out of your being. Hating your job never opens the vault to blessing, but it will decrease your production. It will open the door for you to gossip about your boss, to going on Facebook, to e-mailing friends, and to forwarding jokes while you are supposed to be working. Hating your job will cause you to avoid your boss and to avoid the people who are at the top and who need to see your good attitude, your good work, your excellence, and your diligence. Hating your job will never help you to become diligent or proficient or to find shortcuts that will help you raise the company’s revenue or to make you more valuable in the workplace.

Ask yourself every day, “How can I increase my value at the job?” This will happen with communication – communication with the boss and communication with other people. Build a foundation of making yourself incredibly valuable to your job, to the boss, to the company, and to clients. Is your boss frustrated with you, or does your boss feel as though he or she could not live without you? You become valuable to your boss if you get the job done and relieve stress for him or her. But it is more than just getting the job done – it is the working relationship. Do not think of your work as just a job, something you have to do. You are a partner on a team, and you want that team to be successful. When the time is right, sit down with your boss and have a frank conversation. First, thank your boss. Second, practice the Law of Value. Ask your boss: Show me, tell me, and coach me on what I can do better on the job to help this company succeed.

Thank-You Notes: When was the last time you wrote your boss a thank-you card? Learn your boss’s personality so you know how to communicate to your boss.

Many employees are trying to focus on twelve things at the same time: answering text messages, checking their personal e-mail, instant messaging their friends, forwarding e-mail jokes to a couple of co-workers and friends, listening to the news, and checking their Facebook page – all while trying to work. When you have your focus divided in all of these directions, you are totally unproductive.

To get a raise you have to raise your value to the company. There is always a way to make yourself more valuable so your boss wants to pay you more for doing the same thing.

I taught you to honor people by FORMing them – asking about their family, occupation, recreation, and message – as well as asking about their signs – strengths, interests, goals, and needs.

The most common question I get is, “Dani, how did you do it? How did you go from homeless to making millions?” My answer is always the same. I decided never to return to being broke again. I decided not to end up like those who had raised me. I decided not to be the failure everyone said I would be. I decided no longer to be the failure I had become.

When you make a solid decision it is always followed by action, and action leads to success.

If I were a chiropractor, I would say to every potential client, “There are a lot of people who are in pain yet not deadly serious about their health. I am just interviewing for a couple of clients who are truly serious about attaining good, solid health to make sure they are going to go the distance with me. How serious are you about getting your back straightened and living a pain-free, healthy life? I am after your long-term health. I want to get you well so we don’t have to see each other very much.” That is turning the tables on the prospect. They are expecting you to sell to them, so don’t. Make them want you instead. I was no longer selling. I was interviewing, and that’s how you have to think if you are marketing something. You have to interview instead of sell. Selling causes people to guard their wallets. Interviewing causes them to impress you and tell you why they need you, versus your having to tell them why they need you.

There is a philosophy out there of finding something that’s within you, what you would like to do. If I had followed that line of thinking, I would still be homeless. Did I like sales? Heck no. Was I good at it? No. Was it one of my natural-born talents? Oh, my gosh, no! What were my natural-born talents? I didn’t have any!

You do not have to love what you do. Start where you are.

Do something that makes a profit. Or find somebody else’s profitable idea and do that. For example, housekeepers are a dime a dozen. What could you add to make your service a little different from every other service in the area?

Some people go in and out of being teachable. Most people start off unteachable. They say, “I’ve got it all figured out.” But it takes failure to bring people to a place of being teachable. And usually then they only stay teachable until they have a little bit of success. Once they have that little bit of success, they figure they have the rest dialed – until they fail again. So they go on this rollercoaster – and some never get off the rollercoaster to be teachable.

Entrepreneurship is people and finance.

Financial pressure is not a great way to start a business for most people. Some of us can do it. Sometimes it is the financial pressure and the squeezing out on all sides that makes you desperate enough to drop your ego and do whatever it takes to be able to make money. But if you are spending eight thousand dollars a month, you are not there yet because you will start a company and spend the same way you do now.”

This process is the pathway to bigger profits. It has three simple steps: increase exposure, increase conversion, and increase scalability.

Testimonials need to be short, quick, and to the point. They need to be about the results of the product/service and the problem that has been solved for your clients who use it.

You cannot have the attitude that just paying them is enough because people care more about recognition and approval than money. Edifying them makes them feel special and important, and that means more to them than the actual paycheck they receive.

As an employer and would-be employee-preneur, it is also important for you to have systems in place that reward others for their efforts. You want to be able to pay your people well and to have a bonus structure in place that will help motivate your internal team.

I had a massive awakening. My things had consumed my life and I hadn’t even realized it. I saw that I was crippled by greed. I was a slave to money and a slave to recognition. I had grown up in poverty and although I had made millions of dollars, I still had the poverty mentality, which spends everything that is made – and for what?

Wealth is accumulated and then passed down for generations to grow the wealth even bigger. I was accumulating stuff instead of wealth. You kick poverty when you are able to keep the money. It has nothing to do with how much you make. It has everything to do with how much you spend.

Do not pass down debt to your children who will pass it down to their children. Instead, choose to pass down wealth, which is what I believe you were designed to do. Choose to give them the gift of wisdom of accumulating wealth and understanding how money works and the freedom that it brings.

You were designed with wealth in mind. We know that to be true because the Law of Desire states that if you have the desire for wealth, it is because you were given the design to have wealth. You bought this book, First Steps to Wealth, because you have a desire to become wealthy. When the Great Designer put you together, he did so with all that I showed you in Chapter 1. The desire is not for stuff; it is for freedom.

Your monthly income is supposed to grow something, just like a seed, but most people live from paycheck to paycheck, which means they are eating all of their seed. They have nothing to plant and grow. Your seed is supposed to reproduce itself. It is not supposed to be all eaten. But instead, people spend their money on cell phones, televisions, food that goes to waste, and clothes they do not wear left hanging in their closets with tags still on them.

Another question, how did we ever get suckered into financing a depreciating liability?

Ninety-eight percent of the population has lived under a false sense of wealth because we can afford to waste money.

Only 2 percent truly understands wealth. Ninety-eight percent of the population will eat all of their seeds. Money is seed. It is supposed to multiply, and it cannot multiply if you are consuming all of it. You have to stop being a consuming human being and start being an income-producing human being.

Do you know what happened to the money you made in the past five years? Two percent of the population knows exactly where the money goes. Ninety-eight percent of the population doesn’t have a clue.

You have been allotted a certain amount of money every single month. You exchange your skill for that money. This money is the financial territory you are in charge of governing. Let’s say your allotment is two thousand dollars a month. If you are faithful with that two thousand dollars a month, then it is going to good use and you are multiplying the money. When you are multiplying the money, you will be given more financial territory to govern. But if you spend all you make every month, you will not be given more territory. You have to be faithful with the two thousand dollars a month to get four thousand dollars, to get six thousand dollars, to get ten thousand dollars, and to get a hundred thousand dollars a month. Once you realize that this is the financial law and you start playing by the rules, you will start gaining more financial territory and accumulate wealth.

Two percent of the population knows exactly where the money goes. The other 98 percent hasn’t a clue.

The 98 Percenters use credit cards to buy stuff, whereas the 2 Percenters use credit to build wealth.

If you are financially independent, you can have the big house or five Lamborghinis if you want. Live the life you want to live. But if you are in debt, you do not have the right to be shopping at the mall every week.

Your debt-free lifestyle is in your pantry, closet, and garage. You have the money for a dream vacation, but it is wasted in small things.

All debt is based on greed. Your mortgage is also a type of debt. As I said in the last chapter, your mortgage is making the bankers rich, while you are enslaved in debt, paying interest.

Give a dollar for every ten dollars you make, and your needs will always be met. The wealthy use this principle.

Debt is evil. When you have debt, you become a slave to money.

The impoverished spend their money on stuff. Middle-class people spend their money on what they think are assets, but it is really just stuff. The wealthy invest their money on income-producing assets.

Invest in what you know. Investing is all about risk; it is all about calculating and running your numbers. It is about learning new skills.

Do not buy according to ego, but according to what is wise. Buy below your means, not above. Buy an older, small two- or three-bedroom house and rent it for almost double of what your mortgage will be.

I only possess the skills I have because He wrote how to get them. Everything I have talked about in this book came from the Bible.

When I finally came to God, I realized I had been practicing a lot of His principles already, and I did not have to be a pastor to do God’s work. I decided to read the Bible and seek the answers myself. I learned that Abraham was a wealthy businessman, not a pastor or an evangelist. Isaac was also a wealthy businessman, and Moses was a politician and judge. He was not a pastor as we see pastors today. He looked and dressed like an Egyptian and I believe he had tattoos. He would be harshly judged today by many churches in the world that care more about their rules of how to dress and how to look like a “good Christian” than they do about what the Bible really says. Joseph, a former slave, learned how to become an architect and business manager. He managed laborers and did engineering. He was an excellent administrator and had some incredible accounting skills. He was not a pastor. He too looked like an Egyptian with tattoos, short skirts, a wig, and eyeliner. He looked so much like an Egyptian that when his brothers saw him after being separated for many years, they did not recognize him. They thought he was the Egyptian ruler, and in reality he was. These famous men who have been talked about for thousands of years were not the heads of a modern church -those structured buildings and organizations did not exist then. God used everyday average people with professions in the marketplace to develop a people, and He raised up an army that would impact people’s lives for the better. David – the apple of God’s eye, the one God promised that He would establish His kingdom forever – was a political leader, singer, songwriter, military leader, and businessman.

It is almost like your timeline gets synced with God’s. It is the right whisper in your heart at the right time. It is the right voice in your head that gives you the exact answer you were looking for. That voice speaks to you when you train yourself to listen to it and obey. That voice wants to bless you so much that you fall to your knees and thank Him for everything He has done.

Your business and work are also ways to impact people’s lives. What kinds of seeds are you planting there? What will people be saying about you fifty years after you are gone? Will they even know who you are?

Although Hans and I make money in our businesses, our business model has always been about helping other people. We are making a difference not only with our staff and our employees and their families, but also with our clients.

You will never be able to convince your family that your crazy ideas or your new mindset is the way they should be thinking. It is like a crab that is trying to get out of a bucket, and the rest of the crabs try to pull him back down. Some are jealous; some are scared for you – they are overprotective because they do not want you to fail; and some maybe have an inkling that you might succeed and your success will make them look bad. Whatever their motives are, none of that really matters. What matters is this: The only thing that determines success is results. So do not try to convince your friends and family to dig into all of this information and to buy investments or start a business. Get results – they speak louder than anything you can say. When your friends and family see your results, they will be begging for you to show them how. That is how you will get their attention.