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First came Boston, then Cassandra, Dominic, Esmeralda, Fritz, Florida, Bourbon, Big Daddy, Buffy, Vince, Caffeine, Panda, and finally Penguin. These are all the names of updates to the Google algorithm which helps to determine its SERP (a.k.a. search engine results page) listings. Few if anybody outside of those of us in the SEO world knew or cared about these updates but perhaps more people should’ve because they’re all attempts by Google to improve how we access information in our ultra-connected 21st century world.

Google’s Vision For SERPs
When Google started back in the fall of 1998, cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a vision of sorts to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, or so they say. Hyperbole aside, what was truly astounding was not there vision but rather there practice of making Google the first search engine that would use links to determine how well a given website ranks in its SERPs rather than relying on the older method of on-page criteria such as meta-tags, body text, headlines, etc. In the late 1990s, this was somewhat ‘revolutionary’ but 14 years later, it’s standard operating procedure among all the search engines.

“SERP-BRIN-Time Sergey; SERP-BRIN-Time”
As someone who’s had his nose to the grindstone since the beginning of the Web, I can personally attest to the vast improvement in the results search engines are returning these days and Google is the main reason for this. Why? Because, WWW stands for World Wide Web so Google took the decidedly ‘revolutionary’ stance that since the World Wide Web is an interlinking network of websites, these websites should be organized in the SERPs based upon how many quality websites linked to it. At the time, this represented a ‘revolution’ of sorts in search engine technology.

What’s In a Name
Which brings us back to why Google updates have names; because they’re that important enough as to get a name. And the latest update, called Penguin, is no less important than its predecessors because it seeks to reduce the amount of spammy websites that turn up when someone ‘Googles’ which has the effect of forcing webmasters to spend less time on optimization tricks and more time on creating unique and interesting content on their websites if they want to rank well in Google SERPs.

How utterly revolutionary. George Washington would’ve been proud.

A friend of mine recently opened up a new small business so I decided to send him flowers for to celebrate the occasion.  However, the florist must have screwed up the order because when the flowers arrived at my friend’s business, the card that accompanied the flowers read; “Rest in Peace”.  After my friend called to tell me about what happened, I naturally called the florist to complain.  The florist tried to console me by saying, “Sir, I’m really sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting upset just think about the fact that somewhere there is a funeral taking place today, and the note that came with the flowers said, “Congratulations on your new location.”

Happy New Year’s everyone and may your small business achieve more success than you could’ve ever hoped for!


One (Very) Successful Network Marketer’s Advice
With the new year right around the corner, many single-person business owners look at supplementing their income by joining a network marketing program.  This is actually not a bad idea as the fact that they are already in business gives them an advantage over the average Joe/Jane in being successful in a given network marketing opportunity.

However, despite the fact that there are multitudes of websites promoting specific network marketing programs, usually by someone looking to recruit you into their program, there aren’t many sites that explain the types of preparation -either physical, mental or spiritual- that goes into being a good network marketer, irregardless of the specific program.

Hopefully, this often overlooked aspect of what it takes to be a successful network marketing will be addressed in this post where I interviewed a friend of mine named Michael Lancto as to how he approaches the day to day aspects of his network marketing business which has earned him an income well over six figures every year since 2001.

I know that this article may seem self-indulgent (it probably is), but I truly believe there’s a lot to be learned for those of you thinking of getting involved in network marketing.  I also want to say that this article in no way endorses any specific network marketing opportunity… although I’m sure Michael would mind if you clicked over to one of his many websites to check him out.

First, A Little Background
Michael Lancto has been involved with 26 different businesses since 1983.  “I gave each company my best shot,” explained Michael. “They ALL sounded like they would make me a fortune.  Many resulted in me making the company a lot of money, and me very little money.  A few of them I never made one cent“.

After serving in the Air Force, Michael served as a chaplain to U.S. armed forces in Germany before spending several years as a pastor of a church.

However, Michael didn’t begin to make any serious type of money in network marketing until he joined a company called AmeriPlan in 1999 and within nine months he achieved the highest earning level the company offered.  How did he manage to achieve this level so quickly?  Because this program gave him the opportunity to do what he loves most; helping people.

What attracts me the most (about the AmeriPlan program) is I get to help other people.  It’s a passion of mine,” Michael exclaimed.  “That’s why in 1984 I became a foreign missionary, so I could help people.  That’s why in 1990 I became a pastor, so I could help people.  What attracts me to my daily work with Ameriplan from day one until today is that it is a great way to assist people in improving the quality of their life, either with our benefits which save people money and therefore improve their lives, or (by helping them) to make money so they can enjoy the things in life that mean the most to them“.

Success: More Than Just Hard Work?  Yes!
Helping people is all well and good but business is business and the bills must be paid.  This requires a tremendous amount of dedication to do all the little things –like returning phone calls, keeping the books up-to-date, etc.– on a daily basis.  Michael, though, has an ace in the hole that helps him keep his focus; he loves what he does.

I love the idea of being my own boss, working my own schedule, selecting my own work location, and no limit to how much income I can earn,” said Lancto.  “I met a few other network marketers who were fulltime, and that combination inspired me to search for the right company and once found, to work until I succeeded.”

The Right Online Tools for the Job
Despite the fact that AmeriPlan allows him to both help people and enjoy himself while doing it, Michael found that operating a profitable home-based network marketing business requires certain ‘Mental Tools’ which must be mastered if you’re going to be a success.   What are they?

In two words; Leadership & Discipline.  Leadership insomuch as having a positive proactive attitude, that results in actions that are polished and fine tuned until success is achieved.  Discipline is doing what you’re suppose to do every day, even when (a) you don’t feel like it (b) when you don’t see immediate results, and (c) in spite of problems – for they are the hurdles to success,” Michael explained.

Michael’s Network Marketing Secrets
Even leadership and discipline aren’t the only two secrets to having a thriving network marketing career.  “I found that one needs to go to company-sponsored conventions if you want to know the heartbeat, the attitude, the vision, of a company,” Lancto says.  “Go to their convention and then find leaders and ask them probing questions.  Not easy softball questions but questions like ‘What is the best product or service we promote and why’ or ‘What part of the compensation plan is most important and why’.  Ask more than just a (one or two) leaders and cross reference their answers.”

Still another secret weapon in Michael Lancto’s repertoire is his foresight as he was one of the first –it’s not the first– AmeriPlan sales rep (or IBOs as they are called) to understand and utilize the power of the Internet to expand his operation.

Having one’s own website is an essential online tool I think one needs,” Michael explains.  “It should have your photo and story on it and the nature of your business.  Adding audio or video to your website saying that you are willing to support new people also makes a difference.”

Yahoo Messenger is another very helpful tool,” Lancto added.  “That way you can can IM (instant message) all your business partners in seconds.  I also use Swaggle to text message my team, because not all my business partners are at their computer when I send an IM, but they probably have their cell phone handy.”

A Pastor Defines ‘Business Success’
There are many who don’t see a conflict between making as much money in business as possible while at the same time claiming to live a life devoted to God.  These people feel that the two are not synonymous whatsoever.  Michael Lancto sees it differently, if not uniquely.

I’m hoping you want an honest answer,” Michael responded.  “Anyone who says they always put God first and business second every day of their life, is in my opinion being less than honest.  I’d like to think that I spend more days of putting God first, then days that I do not.  Everyone has challenges that will tempt them to put something else in a higher priority than God.

Too often people have what I call ‘shallow goals’ which would be something along the lines of ‘How many cars can I buy’ or maybe ‘How big of a house can I build’, etc.  True success is when you help other people to improve their lives,” explained Michael.  “Jesus said, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’.  Being a success is not really a goal as much as it is a journey.  When you think of it like that, then you’re more conscious every day to make Jesus Lord in your life.  Then if you truly love Jesus, then you will love other people and seek to improve their lives and be a blessing to them.”

Seeing as how you put it that way…