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Authentic Masculinity
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The premier on-line resource destination for all men seeking to be better men.
The premier on-line resource destination for all men seeking to be better men.

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Get Back in There and Fight

Bottom Line Up Front: After a month-long hiatus expanding our network, making new friends and seeking allies, I am submitting again to the discipline of creation and business building.

What Authentic Masculinity DOES.

We teach men to leverage their masculinity to improve every aspect of their lives.

That’s what we do.

You’re welcome.

All the Clichés Are True.

A friend of mine is fond of saying, “It’s a cliché because it’s true.”

All the clichés you read about success are true. Success is more a question of perseverance than anything else. Interior growth precedes exterior growth. Hard work levels the playing field. Giving starts the receiving process. You find what you look for. Win the mental battle first.

Success becomes a habit.

It’s an endless list because there are so many truthful maxims about what it takes for a man to succeed, but it’s really also about taking action each day and taking steps toward your goal regardless of how many setbacks you experience.

It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up.

If you run toward your dreams they will run toward you.

Those are both definitely true.

But I am writing this morning on the train to tell you, too, what my close friend texted me recently,

“I never lose. I either win or I learn.”

Oh, and winners quit; they quit what doesn’t work.

 

Your subconscious mind is more powerful than your conscious mind.

These thoughts may seem disjointed. I suppose in some very real way they are because they are not consciously linked together but I am writing them down as they occur to me. I am building a business slowly and learning as I go so that I can offer my experiences to any man who wants to do likewise. And this is how it feels. It’s hard as hell and requires vision and fixity of purpose. A powerful way to get a disproportionate ROI of your labor and creativity is to program your subconscious mind. It’s always working so make certain it’s working for you and driving you forward even as you sleep, as the old Tears for Fears song says.

Frank Lloyd Wright was irrational.

Recently my family and I took the first full-fledged vacation as an entire family we have taken since 2006. Unfortunately our oldest child is in California and was not in a position to return to join us, but we had 11 of our 12 children with us. While on vacation my wife and I stole away and indulged a hobby of ours—great American architecture—and went to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful creation, “Kentuck Knob.” Built in 1953, it’s stunning. As I looked at and walked through that beautiful building it made me sad because that kind of strong masculine beauty is so rare. It’s rare because we as men have surrendered too much of our creativity and discipline and we have settled and compromised as a group.

Frank Lloyd Wright was irrational about standards and beauty and he was confident in his abilities.

 

One secret to being a good leader is that you are irrational about some key thing.

As an Army commander I admired leaders who were irrational about something. Physical Training, tank maintenance, small arms marksmanship, combatives, bayonet training. There was usually some one thing that they were insanely competitive about and on which they would not relax their standard. That irrational adherence to excellence in one thing tended to affect other, less exciting but important disciplines.

Don’t compromise. Be irrational about some standards.

So, as you go through your day, evening, weekend, think about being irrational and inflexible. Persevere, stay focused and get back in there and fight.

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Wrapping Up: 64 Difficult Questions Each Man Should Ask Himself in the New Economy

The following post, “Wrapping Up: 64 Difficult Questions Each Man Should Ask Himself in the New Economy”, is part 12 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“.

In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “The Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: The good news is that the economy is changing and you as a man are greatly in demand. The other news is that if we are green and crazy enough to re-tool ourselves for the changing climate, we have a better chance of taking advantage of the turbulence and change all around us. But be careful—success can destroy you, so learn some virtues.

Self-reliant, successful significance.

For us, as men, to live lives of self-reliant, successful significance (which we are all called to do) we must work, we must serve, we must love. Since we are social, economic and political animals, we need frameworks to guide our efforts in these times of revolutionary, global change. The most basic frameworks we at Authentic Masculinity recommend are The Seven Cardinal Virtues and Robert Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant.  Master the Virtues and master the Quadrant and you are well on your way to a life of self-reliant, successful significance.

 

Wrapping up this 12 Part Series: Ask yourself the right questions and consider your environment.

How much freedom do you deserve? If that’s hard for you to answer, ask yourself how much freedom those you love and lead deserve.

Men often do for others what we won’t do for ourselves.

But don’t ask the question in isolation. Assess your environment. Is your environment friendly to your values? Can you trust others to care for you, your wife, your children in your environment? When you confront the ultimate reality—death—what will happen to those you love and lead?

If we are realistic, gentlemen, we know it isn’t prudent to entrust our welfare to others.

Because—in fact–  others have entrusted their welfare to us. They need us to come through.

Once upon a time the environment was healthier.

Once upon a time we were less fractured as a society.

Once upon a time more good men were in positions of authority.

But those times are not now.

Define society as you wish: country, state, city, town, company, family.

 

How do you stack up against The Seven Cardinal Virtues?

Look in the mirror, ask these questions and don’t look away. You are your own toughest critic, your own worst enemy, your own strongest ally.

How prudent am I? What is the quality of my decisions? How well does my reason govern my emotions?

How just am I? Do I treat others with justice and do I accept justice with humility? How kind am I to those in difficulty?

How temperate am I? Am I a prisoner to my passions and appetites? Do I own my money and possessions or do they own me? Am I addicted to pornography, alcohol, food, gambling? Do I lose my temper? How often do I allow my children—subordinates, colleagues– to see me in the grip of anger?

How courageous am I? When I am faced with something that frightens me do I allow it to dictate my actions? Am I prone to panic? Do I avoid healthy confrontation? Am I willing to protect others weaker than I?

How faithful am I? Do I believe in good things I cannot see? Do I have faith in the people who rely on me and on whom I must rely? Do I have faith in the systems I serve? Do I have faith in myself?

How hopeful am I? Do I look to the future with confidence and hope? Sometimes this in itself is an act of valor. It takes strength to be hopeful. Am I strong enough to be hopeful?

How much am I willing to love others in a healthy way that promotes their well-being? Am I strong enough to serve others and place their welfare ahead of my own?

 

How much do you know about bringing value and serving as an Employee, a Self Employed, a Business Owner and an Investor?

Employees trade time for money, work for others and are taxed at the highest rate for the lowest quality of money. Employees have many of their problems taken care of by others. A J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) is a short term solution to a long term problem.

Self Employeds trade time for money, work for themselves, have some control of how they are taxed and when. We think of them as Supermen because they do so much themselves. They tend to see themselves as indispensable to an effort and frequently they are.

Business Owners use systems to put themselves out of a job and own the systems. They don’t trade time for mon…
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How A Man Loves

The following post, “How a Man Loves”, is part 11 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“.

In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “The Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front:  Sacrificial, disciplined,  gritty,  4-in-the-morning Love drives a man to take a knife or a bullet for his friend or take a knife or bullet to his opponent to protect who (or what) he’s responsible for.

A Combat Kind of Love.

Ferocity resides in every man.

And violence.

And Love.

We are so complicated, gentlemen, that we can Love with ferocity and put ferocious violence at the service of Love.

When we get this wrong, we get the world we see around us.

But when we get this right, all Good things are possible for more people.

So you and I—and all men– had better get this right, because many men are getting this wrong.

For a vivid example of ferocity and the emotional complexity of violence at the service of a Good Man, look no further than Marine Corps General James Mattis, who said to Iraqi tribal leaders in 2003:

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you (attack) me, I’ll kill you all.”

Pleading with tears in my eyes—don’t make me kill you.

That is a fierce kind of Love. It’s ferocity based on acute self-knowledge in service to a higher Good, a love of clarity, capability and confidence. It’s a love that hopes fervently reason will prevail but does not lack determination, courage and conviction to do what is necessary.

And it will carry the day.

 

Six Kinds of Love[i] (Three concern us here.)

It’s no coincidence that IQs (if you believe in such things) correspond to vocabulary. Whereas speakers of modern English have one word for Love—that most complex indicator of what makes us human– in Ancient Greek there are six basic words for what we call Love.

Here they are in an order I think will keep your attention best:

Eros (AIR-ohs), or sexual passion. Men like this one. Fascinating and The Most Powerful Narcotic Known to Man, but in this post we aren’t talking about this kind of love except as a precaution. Eros— left unchecked– can possess, crush and destroy men because it can lead to a complete loss of control.  Eros can add spice to a healthy life to intensify it. It can also lead to a cancerous self-cannibalism in which our appetites consume us. It can seduce us into a narcissistic fantasy world of pornography, but that’s a fight for another day.

Philia (FEEL-ee-uh), or deep, comradely friendship.  The intense friendship between brothers in arms in combat. Characterized by strong loyalty, sacrifice for others, and the sharing of intense emotions.

Agape (ah-GAH-pay), or love for everyone. This is radical, selfless Love.  This is the Love that conquered the Roman Empire and, indeed, much of the world. This is radical Love we extend to all people, whether family members or distant strangers.

It seems irrational in light of temporal matters.

Latin scholars later translated agape as caritas, which we now call charity, but charity as we understand it today is a weak, pale, emaciated thing compared to caritas or agape.  Agape is in dangerous decline. Empathy levels in the U.S. are down sharply over the past 40 years. The steepest has been since 2003. A lack of agape has led to the objectification of human beings—treating people like things. Pornography contributes to this, but, as I said…

Philautia (fil-OW-tee-uh), or love of self. The wise ol’ Greeks recognized two kinds of philautia; an unhealthy love of self focused on personal gain, but also a healthier version that enhanced the capacity to love more widely. The Greeks knew how we see ourselves is how we see the world.

Aristotle wrote, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.”

Pragma (PRAHG-muh), or longstanding, mature love. Pragma is the deep understanding that develops between a long-married husband and wife. It’s patient, tolerant and compromises to help the relationship over time.

Ludus (LOO-dus), or playful love.  Affection between children or young lovers. Doesn’t concern us here.

I’m combining philia (soldierly Love between comrades in arms who have survived combat together), agape (radical Love of all) and philautia (healthy Love of self) for one word in English, Love.

This combination of radical Love, soldierly Love, virile Love, and reflective healthy Love of self is the Masculine Love we must practice in business.

Indeed, it’s the best way for a man of serious integrity to succeed in any significant unde…
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Superman and Building a Space Ark

Bottom Line Up Front: Learning to adapt to tumultuous economic challenges sometimes means escaping—  not from a place, rather from an outdated point of view.

 

Superman is an American. Here’s something he can teach us all.

Here’s how I see it and I hope I say this well.

You know the story of Superman?

It’s a great and quintessentially United States of American story.

The old Shannon, a late edge Baby Boomer, would have said an “American story” but the Americas are bigger, geographically, than The United States and each one of the countries in North, Central and South America has a different cultural heritage. There are (United States of) Americans and then there are our many brothers who are also Americans.

For now… we are talking about United States of Americans. Superman is their, our, story.

But it’s also a story for the world, like most stories from The United States of America.

Superman is one of The United States of America’s many gifts to the world.

 

The Super Hero. Amazing.

One of my favorite scenes—in its many variations over the years—is where Superman’s father and mother are preparing the spaceship that will carry their treasured, precious child to safety.

Their home, their entire world, is exploding and being destroyed around them.

Their friends and enemies, the political, legal, social and economic structures they have relied upon for generations, all of these touchstones of their lives are exploding and disintegrating around them.

Their sole focus?

Save their child.

Save their future.

Save their link to what will be better and brighter and will come, inevitably, if they can just (just?) act courageously and boldly for the days, hours, moments, leading up to the climactic second when their world changes irrevocably and is gone.

We are witnessing the collapse of many worlds around us.

I have tried writing this from “the outside”, by which I mean I have tried to approach this story, this scene unfolding around us, objectively and tried to make sense of it in a detached, clinical and essentially unimaginative way.

That way has failed.

So I am turning to Superman.

What I have been trying to do since 2002 is build a spaceship to house and transport my own family as the worlds I have known since childhood disintegrate and collapse and explode and remake themselves.

Cheerful capitalists call this Creative Destruction.

That is a strange way to write it since of course the worlds that are disintegrating and collapsing will not remake themselves, of course, but will be remade by us, we who are paying attention and trying through our efforts to get others to pay attention.

Picture it this way. You know I have 12 children. I am the happily married father of a large family.

Like Ulysses’ Boat

I need a big vessel.  So I am building a spaceship with beds, a crib, seats, gardens, all the things that we need to survive and I am frantically trying to get the engine built and the fuel and the life support systems integrated and up and running and on-line… the communication systems, the thrusters, the medical, the nutrition, the sleep systems… all of it. And I am doing it while looking frantically over my shoulder periodically to check the progress of the destruction of our world, our history, our foundation.

If we can get the family into space and see the destruction as it unfolds we will be able to make sense of the chaos and we will benefit from it because we will have to re-build it all with the benefit of perspective.

As we build our ship, our ark, we see others around us doing similar things. Some ships are blue, others red (for some reason I see ours in my imagination as being red), some are gold. They have glass domes and faring and are all manner of beautiful creations. Graceful, well thought out, well built. Like Ulysses’ boat. We know it because we are building it.

But the destruction around us is serious.

All of our children, Maureen’s and mine, are aware and have been aware for some time that Daddy is a little crazy. He sees turbulence all around him and has seen it for many years, but now they see the turbulence in its real and undiluted form. It’s happening and we must scramble onto the ship and secure our precious possessions while the explosions grow louder and nearer.

We are leaving behind a way of life, a way of thinking and not everyone we know is coming with us.

We want everyone to get out and we want to help as many as we can but as one of my mentors said once, “You can lead 10,000 but you cannot carry even one.”

As Maureen and I check each other and then check each of the children we also busy ourselves with the many preparations of the environment we will have to occupy.

We know it will be safer, we know it will give us greater advantage, we know our lives have been leading us to this moment but it is not any the easier for all that.

We are working…
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What do Faith and Hope have to do with business and masculinity and why should I care?

The following post, “What do Faith and Hope have to do with business and masculinity and why should I care?”, is part 10 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“.

In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “The Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: When it comes to providing for yourself and your family, you get paid for bringing value to the marketplace. To bring more value to the market place you must grow and believe more is possible. If you lack Faith in yourself, Faith in the process and Faith in the market, it’s hard to improve anything. Likewise if you lack Hope for a better tomorrow. But if you have Faith and if you have Hope, anything is possible and you are an inspiration for others.

 

A Masculine Genius for Leadership: Where are you now and where do you want to go?

A brighter future starts with looking at yourself in the mirror and then looking at the conditions in which you find yourself.

Look around you.

Is this—where you are in your life—the best you can do?

What promises have you made to yourself and those you love?

What promises have you made to your wife?

What have you promised your children?

How’s progress on those promises?

How’s progress?

“Mommy, where’s Daddy?”

I was up this morning at 3:30.

No brag, just fact. Our 3-year-old, Simon, was awake and frightened so I got up to check on him and reassured him that all was well. When I realized he was not going to go back to sleep in his own bed, I offered to let him sleep in our bed.

This is what we do, isn’t it?

I was up and awake, knew I wasn’t going back to sleep, and went for a workout. After the workout I left the house and headed for my first appointment. Later in the morning when I spoke to my wife she told me Simon had asked where I was.

An age-old conversation ensued, as I am sure it has in many of your own households.

“Daddy’s working.”

“Why does Daddy work?”

“To pay for the house and our food.”

“And my toys?”

“Yes, and your toys.”

“Then it’s ok for Daddy to work.”

What do you get paid for?

Men work.

It’s what we do.

We serve others.

Working is part of being a man.

But what, exactly, do you get paid for?

How you answer that question reveals how you see yourself and how you see your role in the world.

The best answer I have ever heard to that question is, “I get paid to bring value to the market place.”

Now, it gets interesting.

If the money we earn is a reflection of the value we bring, how much value do we bring?

Check your number.

Now, we could talk a long time about how accurate an indicator the number is, how accurate an indicator money is, but that’s for a different post. For now let’s work with what we have.

 

The painful questions.

Do you believe the amount of money you earn is an indicator of the value you bring?

Next…

Are you doing all you can do to bring as much value as you can every day?

Then…

How do you know how much value you can bring—at your best?

The question of BEST is where Faith and Hope start to come in.

Do you have Faith in yourself? Do you have Faith in the economy? The marketplace? The system you serve? Our system?

Do you have Hope for a brighter tomorrow? Do you have Hope for a happier, more productive life and world for your grandchildren?

The reason these are important questions and the reason it’s important to ask them now is that everything around us is changing more quickly and more unpredictably than ever before. Our economies are changing, our political systems are changing, many values are changing; the value of services and goods is constantly changing and the rate of that change is accelerating. Our value as men is changing as businesses seek efficiencies and turn to automation.

The good news is that we have the ability to improve and adapt and change and tailor ourselves, our skillsets, our talents and abilities, but we have to ask the right questions to rock ourselves out of where we may be resting.

We must believe in ourselves as men and in our abilities to improve our condition and help those around us.

Because gentlemen, you are a very valuable resource precisely because you are a man.

We must strengthen our Faith and Hope…

During. These. Times. Of. Tumultuous. Change.

…to become our very best.

Is the system you serve set up to pay you for the value you bring?

Most of the systems we serve—and in which we serve—were designed and set up by someone else, but that som…
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How to Start Thinking Like An Investor: Behavioral Economics and the Velocity of Money

The following post, “How to Start Thinking Like An Investor: Behavioral Economics and the Velocity of Money”, is part 9 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“. In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: The next time you are taking advice from someone on how to invest your money, ask yourself how he makes his money. If he makes his money by investing or owning a business, it’s more likely… though never guaranteed… the advice he gives will benefit you.

Women’s high-heeled shoes, or, “What is Behavioral Economics?”

Behavioral economics is the study of why we spend our money the way we do. Why we spend, how we spend, what we spend. Good science is predictive. Economics, sometimes called The Dismal Science, tries to be predictive and Behavioral Economics is no different. The thinking is that if we understand why people spend we can predict how their behavior will affect the economy and then write good economic policy, laws and regulations.

Hmmm.

A fun example is the one about women’s high heeled shoes. It’s anecdotal, but one school of thought has been that when women buy more high heeled shoes it’s an indicator of troubled economic times to come. The reason? Women, who represent a huge portion of the market, buy high heeled shoes to make themselves feel better. If lots of women are buying high heeled shoes it indicates they are addressing their anxiety about the economy.

I’m not sure I agree with it, but it’s an interesting suggestion.

In troubled times alcohol sales tend to go up. New car buying trends can indicate a variety of things. Magazine sales, too. Fast food sales. What does it mean when different kinds of purchases increase or decrease?

Now that we have so many ways to measure human behavior we can look at buying and learn a lot.

Or so we (foolishly?) think.

 

“It’s a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.” – O Brother, Where art thou?

Here’s the problem: money and emotion are linked and we rarely do anything for just one reason.

We are complicated creatures and who can tell why we do the crazy things we do?

Especially with money.

Except an Investor.

I remember standing by Baltimore’s Inner Harbor early in 2007 with a good friend who worked on Wall Street. It was the first time I heard the term Collateralized Debt Obligations, or CDOs. He told me that they had become so complicated that only a few people understood them clearly and they were not the guys buying and selling them like lunatics.

The guys buying and selling them like lunatics were salesmen.

Employees.

Employees who made their money selling to their clients.

Like the stock brokers pumping Enron stock the day before the company tanked.

Not investors.

“I can… Pack up and mail in my key.” – Bartender’s Blues, James Taylor

Between 2007 and 2009 many people found their financial lives turned upside down.

I know I did.

The US economy is still feeling the results of those three years.

Real estate and real estate speculation played a disproportionately large role in the financial turbulence of those times and we can still feel the effects of that, too. As the markets began to slide and as the economy started to feel the stress, economic policy makers in congress made decisions based on how they thought people were going to spend their money.

As the real estate market heated, inflated and became a bubble (bubbles are natural and inevitable), homeowners discovered refinancing and started pulling equity out of their houses.

Like crazy.

At the time I owned quite a few investment properties and we used to refinance very rarely, but I knew homeowners who were doing it again and again and again and sucking money out.

Like crazy.

Then it all came crashing down when the law of supply and demand sort of reasserted itself.

Here’s the funny thing: As congress tried to come to grips with the situation they made a big assumption that was fundamentally wrong. They assumed nobody would walk away from their mortgage. But that’s what happened. People got in over their heads and just walked away.

Mailed in the keys.

They said to their lenders, “Well, the house is collateral on the loan. You lent me the money. I don’t have the money so take the house.”

Contractual.

But it happened in droves. Then the government… your tax dollars… paid for the losses.

Sweet.

The velocity of money.  Or, how cu…
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How Cocktails in Beijing, Levis and McDonald’s Can Help You Create a Better Life

We Are Breaking Radio Listening Silence.

Gentlemen; An apology. Authentic Masculinity has been going through some growing pains and adjustments and that’s why have been observing Radio Listening Silence. It’s all part of what I call “living the arc of the story,” for all of what we are going through will all make for an excellent story one day. It is my fervent hope each of you will be with us on that day. For now, we hope you will enjoy this piece, which is a little longer than I intended. Shannon.

The following post, “How to Re-build your life: Building a System-Based Business  Embassy Cocktails in Beijing, McDonald’s and Levi Strauss”, is part 8 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“. In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: If we are employees we work in a system. That system requires we learn self-discipline, respect for authority, gratitude and humility. We are guest players on the field, guests in a kind of school, a system that controls the resources. But as free and independent students we owe it to ourselves and, strangely, our teachers in these schools that are businesses, to create options outside our day jobs. The ironic result? By developing our options, we improve at our job. We add value to the system we serve while we learn to build systems that serve us and those around us in this remarkable growing global economy.

“Profits are better than wages.” – Jim Rohn

Employee, Self Employed, then Business Owner. A graduated path learning to leverage systems.

According to Robert Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant model, we can earn different kinds of money based on how we earn that money. The quality of money is different for Employees, the Self Employed, Business Owners and Investors. Here are examples of each:

Employee: Think of working in a fast food restaurant. There will be systems all around you. You do simple, repeatable tasks in a franchise managed by someone else and owned by yet someone else. You start at minimum wage. If you smile and whistle, you’ll get a raise. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Your relationship to money is linear and you trade time for it.

Self Employed: Think of a plumber with his own business. He advertises and does the work himself. He may have formed an entity and bought a truck through the business. He does it all or supervises it all—the plumbing, the invoicing, the advertising. He may grow and hire employees and if he does then he is on the way to owning a business if he can put in systems to do all the tasks that accompany growth. If he has planned to do this from the beginning he can reach translational lift and break through. If not, it’s tough. A dirty little secret of the entrepreneurial world is that most business owners live from paycheck to paycheck if they pay themselves at all. You can wager with confidence that those men who live paycheck to paycheck either have a tortured relationship with money or  have not learned to systematize themselves. The Self Employed who can’t systematize are also trading time for money and have a linear relationship with money.

After a trip in The Wayback Machine to the year 2000 we will look at Business Ownership.

Diplomatic Cocktail Party, Beijing, China, 2000. Capitalism, hygiene and quality:

American diplomats apologize for McDonald’s while East Europeans and Africans thank McDonald’s

Success stories are great.

Seeing other people succeed is transformational.

The fundamentals of capitalism are revolutionary.

Free market capitalism has liberated more people than any other economic system in the history of the world. And, of course, it’s under assault.

Profit.

Private property.

Upward mobility.

They are all under assault.

Ask yourself why.

But that’s for another post and conversation.

Why should Americans apologize for McDonald’s?

When I was at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing I was there as an Army Major, then as a Lieutenant Colonel. At a cocktail party one evening hosted by a State Department colleague, there was an unusual mix of political and military people from many nations.

West Europeans, East Europeans, Africans, Asians, Latin Americans.

We had it all. Like Bogey and Bacall.

It was one great party.

I overheard one of our State Department worthies apologizing for the way American fast food had succeeded around the world. He said something like,

“Yeah, well, I wish we were known for so…
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When to get drunk with your subordinates: The Hidden Benefits of Temperance

The following post, “When to get drunk with your subordinates: The Hidden Benefits of Temperance”, is part 6 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“. In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: The key to leading men, especially now, when there is so much false unity and superficiality between us, is to connect in a way that they know is genuine. To do that you have to know yourself, trust yourself and then connect without overstepping boundaries, which takes courage and control. Here’s a story to start you on your way.

The distinctive sound of helicopter blades faded into the distance, leaving us standing in a snowy field with our German counterparts, very confused.

It was a cold, bright, sunny winter morning in the woods of Northern Germany in 1983. The helicopter had just flown away with our Assistant Division Commander and the German General. Our cavalry Troop—C Troop, 2/1 Cav—was the guest of our German Bundeswehr partnership unit.

Our partnership unit was a German armored reconnaissance unit—Panzer (tank) aufklarungs (reconnaissance) truppe (unit)– assigned to the German town of Schwanewede, not far from where we were in Osterholz-Scharmbeck.

I forget the unit designation but I do remember being very impressed by them and a little intimidated.

Following the departure of our two generals, our hosts had invited our Staff Sergeants and their subordinates—the vast majority of our Troop— to join the German Staff Sergeants and soldiers for training on machine gun ranges, demolition ranges, hand-grenade ranges and small arms ranges on the German kaserne.

We had turned the units over to the NCOs.

So, both sides’ generals had departed.

The men were training.

We, the leaders on the American side, were confused.

We had been invited by our German partnership unit to two full days of training before the Christmas break.

We arrived that morning expecting hard work, hard training, little sleep, and good food.

Until this moment all had gone according to the plan we understood.

We had arrived that morning.

We had assembled with our German allies for a ceremony commemorating our units’ friendship.

We had exchanged unit plaques.

But our ADC and their General had departed and now our soldiers had been marched away.

But then they ushered us into a big, white tent and we saw the German soldiers waiting for us.

What exactly IS Temperance, anyway?

Temperance is balancing our appetites and desires, bearing in mind what’s appropriate to a given situation. This means deploying the virtue outward, taking into account those around us. So, to start with, it’s self-mastery that leads to consideration of others.

But since we at Authentic Masculinity are not satisfied with the superficial, but seek to demonstrate how these virtues help us with other men, let’s pursue Temperance a little further.

The Temperate Man has learned to abstain from pleasures (voluntarily going without them) and moderate his appetites (do nothing to excess). He is able to forego short-term gain in favor of greater long-term gain. In investing money, this would be securing long term, steady returns rather than a quick big win. In real estate it’s securing property for long-term appreciation, not flipping.

Wrap all that together, add a sense of what is appropriate in a given situation while striking a balance between what’s good for ourselves and what’s good for those around us, and you have Temperance.

It’s tricky stuff, just like Justice and Prudence. Temperance comes from mastering our appetites and by so doing, appreciating the wants and needs of those around us.

Let’s see how this plays out when you’re drunk with Germans in a tent in the woods.

And then they offered us trays full of alcohol.

The German soldiers in the big white tent were there as waiters.

Inside the tent were tables covered with white table cloths and standing attentively throughout the tent were German soldiers with trays. Each of the trays was covered with small glasses containing Apfelkorn (a golden, apple liqueur that tastes great and packs a punch), Peppermint Schnapps and larger glasses of beer.

Clearly, a party was about to begin.

We were the invited guests.

And there was food.

Warm bread, fresh cheese, meat and butter.

And the presentation. All of this was provided in crisp, military fashion by hosts who were paying us very high compliments. We were honored…
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When to beat up sodiers, or, “Can you deal out justice?”

The following post, “When to beat up soldiers, or, “Can you deal out justice?”, is part 5 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“. In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: As men, we must understand justice; how to deal it out and when to deal it out, but equally important, how to accept it. Whether a physical beating that hurts our bodies or a professional beating that hurts our pride, justice deserves our attention and careful consideration. Understanding justice requires clarity. Administering justice requires appreciation for the human element

Both require different kinds of confidence.

“You need not be afraid, you’ll get justice here.”

In Ken Burns’ excellent series, “The Civil War”, the late American Civil War historian Shelby Foote tells a story about Confederate general Robert E. Lee. There was a young man brought before Lee for some infraction of the rules, and the young man was trembling. Lee said,

“You need not be afraid, you’ll get justice here,”

and the young man said,

“I know it, General, that’s what I’m scared of.”

Justice is kind of tricky; we need it and it scares us.

Prudence and Justice.

Last post we looked at the virtue of prudence. Prudence is exercising careful good judgment in important matters. Prudence comes with experience. Experience comes from a lack of prudence. Now we are looking at justice. What if we, or someone we love, exercises enough poor prudence, poor judgment, that he ends up on the receiving end of justice?

Let’s take an example from life.

Breakfast with the Colonel, 1983: “When is it ok to beat up soldiers?”

Upon assignment to the 2d Armored Division (Forward) in 1983, I was invited to attend breakfast with the Assistant Division Commander, or ADC. At first I thought only I had been invited to breakfast. I was greatly relieved to learn that the ADC’s breakfast took place the first Tuesday of each month. It was an opportunity for him to meet with his subordinate leaders. One Tuesday it would be Second Lieutenants (2LTs), another Tuesday it would be Staff Sergeants (SSGs), another Tuesday it would be Majors (MAJs).

Shortly after my arrival it was breakfast with 2LTs. I was a 2LT and was pleased to go.

When I arrived at 2AD, the ADC was a very likeable Colonel from the Midwest. He had a great sense of humor but was a tough, no-nonsense veteran. Our topic of discussion at breakfast was, “When is it OK to beat up soldiers?”

Imagine the scene.

An Army mess hall on a German kaserne at the beginning of the Reagan build-up.

A table of fresh-faced, idealistic, confident, nervous 2LTs meeting with the Assistant Division Commander.

He was asking us when it was ok to beat up soldiers.

Formal versus Informal operations in any organization.

In all organizations there are formal and informal operations.

Formal information flow is the meeting. Informal information flow takes place before and after the meeting.

Formal discipline is the HR action to put someone on notice he will be fired. If a situation has reached the point where you’re being formally notified in writing it’s most likely irreversible.

By the time things are being put on the record, it’s tough to recover. Informal discipline is the much more intricate interaction between subordinate and senior on a day to day basis. More powerful, more effective, more flexible.

In the Army in 1983 formal discipline was written counseling statements and the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice). Informal discipline was what the ADC was about to talk to us about.

In almost all cases informal operations are better for all involved.

Formal operations—discipline, security, information flow—are skewed toward the institution.

Sometimes—rarely– individuals use formal operations to attack the institution.

Even if you achieve success when you use formal operations to attack The Institution, ultimately you will lose in a much greater sense.

Remember we are concerned here with your strength and independence as an individual man. Winning a formal case against The Institution in these troubled times binds you, in an odd and enduring way that is difficult to explain briefly, to The Institution. It’s tough to grapple with The Institution and not come away with less than you gain.

Rise above it even while within it.

Work outside it even while within it.

Work within it without being less of a man.

Paradoxically, both you and it will be strengthened if you master t…
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Was it prudent of me to say no to a million dollar offer?

The following post, “Was it prudent of me to say no to a million dollar offer?”, is part 4 of an Authentic Masculinity 12 Part Special Series, “Character is Destiny: How to Create Wealth Without Quitting Your Job or Losing Your Family“. In this Special Series, AM Founder, author, speaker and Senior Coach Shannon McGurk shows you how to integrate Robert Kiyosaki’s life-changing book, “Cash Flow Quadrant” with the Seven Virtues using real-life examples to help you increase your own chances of winning life’s toughest battles without losing those you love and lead.

Bottom Line Up Front: Irresponsible free men are a danger to us all. This is why we have all been taught that freedom comes with responsibility. American humorist Will Rogers said that freedom isn’t doing what you want to do, it’s doing what you ought to do. So, if we believe we deserve freedom—and financial freedom is a great place to start—it’s wise to prepare ourselves for that freedom by asking ourselves if we are ready for it. To do otherwise would be naïve and irresponsible.

Hong Kong, 1992: A million dollar offer on a count to ten and I turned it down. A British millionaire offered to underwrite a business for me as he re-built one of his own profit centers. I said no.

We lived in Hong Kong in a place called Tuen Mun in an apartment building called Faraday House overlooking the bay. Two floors down from us a 60-year-old British businessman invited me to have a drink.  He had made his fortune in cloth dyes. I was confident then he was the real thing and subsequent events proved he was, indeed, a very profitable, successful businessman who was generating annual 6-7 figure profits.

As he poured us whisky he said,

“Shannon, I’m going to make you a business offer. You know more about China than do most western businessmen making millions in Hong Kong. You speak Mandarin Chinese (Remember, I was a U.S. Army China Foreign Area Officer in training). The offer I am going to make you is a good business offer and you would be wise to take it. It’s legitimate and I am confident of its success. Once I make the offer I will extend my hand and count to 10. If you shake my hand, it’s a deal and we start. If you don’t, I rescind the offer and won’t make it again. Are you ready?”

I said I was ready. I was very nervous. He extended his hand.

Time out for a Map Check. Think of this 12-part series (14 parts if you include the intro and the epilog) as a kind of short journey. We are on this journey together, you and I, for the duration of this series. Our goal is to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of wealth so we don’t lose who we are and who we cherish on the way to freedom and independence. We should get stronger on the way so we don’t arrive at our destination morally exhausted and alone. On the way, we will cover skills and information that should make us more aware and better men.

Let’s take a look at what we have covered so far.

We are trying to improve our ability to ask good questions and to arrive at good definitions.  So I’m going to cover some of the questions so far. You likely have your own answers to these questions, but I am going to provide working answers you can use as you refine your own.

How much freedom do you deserve?

As much as you are willing to work hard to deserve and can responsibly handle.

Why pursue (Virtuous) financial freedom?

Virtuous because if you don’t become a virtuous man as you achieve your freedom you will lose yourself, your freedom and everything you cherish. The odds of this increase, interestingly, the more freedom and money you have. Financial freedom because money enables other freedoms, is easy to measure and it’s one of the most important determinants of how much choice you have in your life. How you handle money also says a lot about who you are as a man.

Do you own your money or does your money own you?

The servant master relationship is a crucial one to get a handle on. All the things around us that make our lives better can serve us or we can serve them. Money is probably one of the most extreme examples. If you treat it respectfully but remember it’s your servant it will make your life better in almost every way. It’s very effective in the areas in which it applies. It’s completely ineffective in the areas where it doesn’t apply, so as long as you’re in charge and keep it in its place it makes life better.

The other good example of a good servant being a bad master is your smartphone. Once you get it in its place it’s great but if you start to let it run your life your life goes downhill fast.

What financial framework should we use?

Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant. E = Employee, S=Self Employed, B=Business Owner, I=Investor. Each quadrant is governed by different rules and the residents of each quadrant live by different values.…
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