Sunday, 13 July 2014

What are you worth? How to find out and improve your value.

What are you worth?

Most people will admit to wasting time – it’s part of the human condition, the level of distractions, the interruptions…we can’t help wasting time. Perhaps.

In some respects there’s nothing wrong with goofing off and lazing around or just plainly recuperating – indeed, it is healthy for us to book in down time so that we are more productive when we turn to work. The problem is when we try to work and we are interrupted or distracted.

Nonetheless, we can improve our productivity. Hundreds, if not thousands, of books and websites are available for advice on improving productivity.

Although they provide some excellent methods which should be part of your move to become more productive, philosophically and psychologically many remain superficial.

Consider a person who wants to lose weight.  We can give him or her a review of what should be eaten and an exercise programme, but they mean nothing if there isn’t a core reason to lose weight, something that resounds deep within the self .

The best starting point is what to consider what you want to be. Start with that. Rather than saying, “When I lose weight, I’ll be good looking or feel better,” you need to put the phrasing the other way around and stick it into the present tense. “I am good looking and I feel great about myself.”

Keep saying this to yourself and it will teach you to follow the programmes and keep up that bit of discipline that’s required to get you going … because you are fit, you are good looking, you are slim.

We often get things the wrong way around. Whether it is losing weight or being productive, we often put up a series of hurdles or hazards even that we believe we must negotiate to get to where we want.

But if you see yourself now as being more productive, if you tell yourself constantly, I am a productive person, then you’re teaching yourself exactly what you are … and so creating what you will be.

Being a productive person then allows you to learn properly from all the productivity masters out there. The schemes of work are useless unless you’re prepared to take up the strategies, which means you have to be a productive person – now, in your head, in your conscious thinking, in your subconscious mind for them to be of use.

There are techniques to help get you there involving an array of psychological tools. I’m going to look at one here that I have found useful.

Let’s start with a big question.

What am I worth?

Hmm. A million a year? Ten thousand a year? Imagine there are no obstacles – no hurdles and no hazards – to your achieving  comfortable style of life. What does that comfortable life look like?

Do you have a certain income, a car, holidays abroad on a regular basis, kids in a certain school or being home schooled, a healthy bank balance (a figure please)? Do you see yourself being able to contribute money or time to your favourite hobbies or charities?

What do you see yourself doing in this idyllic life?

See it, then believe you are living it now. Then ask the question, okay, what am I now worth?

Imagine we can put a figure on it. You come up with £60,000 annual salary.

(It doesn’t matter what you come up with, I’m just using it as a figure. Some may want less, some more – it’s up to you, but don’t short change yourself. And for those whose hands shoot up and say that they’re not interested in money but in helping others, that’s fine – what figure do you want to put on helping people? Do you want to give £60,000 away annually in your dreams – or the equivalent in a number of hours?)

If your ideal life involves earning, or enjoying shall we say, £60,000 a year – that then gives you a figure to work out your value.

The next thing is to book goofing off time. Let’s say, Friday nights and Sundays are your chosen times to take off completely from all professional and work related needs. Then add in your other interests – playing sport on Wednesday evenings and Saturdays, say.

Now let’s focus on the ‘work time’ you will be doing. You commute to work. You’re up at 7am, ablutions and breakfasting till 7.45, in the car to work for 9, work till 5, get home at 6 at the latest. Sorted.

You’re in ‘work mode’ eleven hours.

You get three weeks holiday. So that means you work 2695 hours a year. You want to earn £60,000 per annum. That means an hourly rate of £60,000/2695 =  £22.26 an hour.

There’s your base line. Every hour of your working time – commuting and breakfasting and lunching included, because in that time you are tied to either going to work or being at work – is worth £22.26.

Most people work on the hours that they are engaged at the desk or machine: so someone on a £60,000 salary who calculates that they are working 9-5, less an hour (so 7 hours a day on their reckoning), three weeks off, five days a week – they calculate that they’re on £34.26 an hour. They’re overestimating their value by a factor of  1.5, which may mean that they underestimate the cost of preparing for work, being at work (in the lunchtime) and of course travelling. (I’ve not added in commuter costs to keep things simple!)

So, is that what you’re currently earning? Or is that now feasible? Two things come from this: you may be not currently earning your dream salary or your may be earning it but could achieve more (don’t undersell yourself!).

Let’s say you’re actually earning £8 an hour. Yet your dream value is £22 and hour including all the hassle of getting to work and being there.  Is your value nothing but a dream?

It depends – it might be if you don’t do anything about it! It might be if you are unable to gain the skill base to take you to that level. And this is where the reality kicks in. Not that you are incapable of reaching your dream salary … but are you willing to take action to get there.

Taking action is much more important than having a degree, a talent, a skill, rich parents, good neighbourhood, great friends, winning the lottery, etc. Of course, all of the above can be helpful, but if you don’t take the action to improve your skills, maintain family money, choose your habitat carefully, etc., then you might not be doing yourself any favours.

Let your value determine your current actions.

When I work with students sitting exams, we work from what grade they’d like to get on a test – we go backwards from that to see what they will have to do to get there. It’s often not as painful for them as they presumed.

Say they need to read 100 pages of a book in three weeks. I give them two. So 100 pages in 14 days, that’s 7.14 pages a day, call it eight and we’re ahead of schedule! Eight pages a day is usually quite feasible for most students and so the big hurdle has been reduced to a series of teeny ones.

You want to bring in extra money to reach your ideal income (or wealth) level:  find out what you would need to do to earn that higher amount and then take action today.

For instance, do you need to finish a course or do a degree to earn more? Or do you need to cut unnecessary expenditures to allow you to put more in an investment fund or into cash-flowing assets such as property or businesses.

A great way of getting your head around earning more money (rather than dreaming it) is to educate yourself. One of the great places to start is Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad – and the ensuing series. Dan Kennedy has a the classic No BS Time Management for Entrepreneurs, which we can all learn from! And there’s also Michael Masterson’s The Reluctant Entrepreneur and one of my favourites: a subscription to The Elevation Group – Mike and Robert’s seminars and videos are second-to-none both in their content and their ethics.  All of the above have had a huge impact both on my thinking and teaching – and, of course, doing something about earning more money and living the dream! If you're in the UK, one of my coaches I highly recommend is John Dabrowski - he's sharpening my productivity skills: it's always good to have an outsider who can see what you're doing (or not doing as the case may be!). 

Now you’ve worked out your current worth and the value you want to enjoy, you can pick a programme that will help you get there. Look at creating different income streams – setting up a part time business on the weekend or online, investing in a business that could pay dividends later, improving your education and skills so that you become increasingly un-fireable as one writer puts it: make yourself indispensible. To reach that goal will require first and foremost taking action – taking action to get that education, learn about investments, and mixing with people who can get you to where you want rather than hold you back.

But always begin with the end in mind.

Basic economics: oil markets and expected price changes



OPEC supplies were virtually unchanged in June at 30.03 million barrels per day (mb/d), as lower Iraqi production offset gains in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria and  Angola. The ‘call’ on OPEC for 2H14 was cut by 350 000 barrels per day (350 kb/d) to 30.6 mb/d  on improved non‐OPEC supply and lower demand, and is forecast to dip to 29.8 mb/d in 2015 from 29.9 mb/d in 2014. 
Non‐OPEC supply is forecast to grow by 1.2 mb/d in 2015, down slightly on 2013 and 2014 forecast levels. Global supplies were largely unchanged  month‐on‐month  in  June,  at  92.6 mb/d,  but  995 kb/d  higher than a year ago. Annual non‐OPEC output growth of 1.7 mb/d  more than offset OPEC declines of 765 kb/d.
Global oil demand growth is forecast to accelerate to 1.4 mb/d in 2015 from 1.2 mb/d in 2014, as macroeconomic conditions improve.  The  estimate  of  2014  demand  has  been  trimmed  by  130 kb/d  to  92.7 mb/d following weaker‐than‐expected mid‐year economic data. 


The International Energy Agency monitors, amongst other things, oil supply and also projects changes in demand. In the article, overall supply of oil in the OPEC nations has not changed from the previous month at 30.03 mb/d although it notes that there was a relative shift in production from Iraq to Iran, Nigeria, Angola, and Saudi Arabia.

OPEC stands for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and consists of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuala. OPEC played a prominent role in the 1973 oil price hikes that caused the “Oil Crisis” tipping many countries into recession during the mid to late 1970s.

Non-OPEC supplies are set to increase to 1.2 mb/d into 2015. These include Brazil, the US, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Canada, Colombia, Norway, the UK, and Mexico.

Demand for oil is expected to increase from 1.4 bn per annum to 1.5 bn per annum, although the increase is less than initially expected due to reduced economic growth expectations.


Oil is renowned for its price inelasticity both in demand and in supply. Modern society is heavily dependent on its use for a range of uses from petro-chemicals through to fuels. When drawing the demand and supply curves, the inelasticity should be reflected in the steepness of the schedules:

As oil demand is expected to increase, we will expect the demand curve to shift to the right from 2014 to 2015. Likewise, we will expect the oil supply curve to shift to the right as non-Opec production is set to increase.


The overall effect on oil prices over the coming year are difficult to predict. From basic theory, we know that both oil demand and supply are relatively price inelastic, so a shift in the demand for oil, say, will have a more than proportionate effect on the price. The same is true for a shift in supply – which helps to explain why oil prices can rise so swiftly when OPEC withholds supplies to the world market.

When both demand and supply are increasing, the overall effect on price will be less predictable than if only one aspect changes – this is because the two effects are countering each other: as demand increases, prices will rise; but as supply increases, prices will tend to fall.


While the overall effects of simple moves in supply and demand are hard to predict, the influence of other issues create further problems analyzing the oil markets – particularly political issues.  The OPEC nations attempt to act as a cartel so that they in effect act together to control the greater proportion of the world’s oil supplies. Concerted action on their part can have a huge impact on oil prices. Similarly, if one or more of the nations is engaged in warfare or undergoing a political upheaval – as is currently (summer 2014) happening in Iraq with the advance of ISIS rebels – then oil production may also be hit. Non-OPEC nations may also contribute to price instability, as recent events (2014) in the Ukraine with Russian intervention and annexation of the Crimea show.

Some analysts believe that the oil industry is heavily influenced by national – political – interests. These interfere with the workings of the market and thereby create unnecessary price distortions. Indubitably, energy production and consumption is heavily politicized with governments taxing, licensing, and controlling oil production and consumption as well as channeling funds and subsidies into complementary energy forms such as wind turbines.

The resulting fluctuations in price are exaggerated by the characteristic price inelasticities but these are not as random as some may fear. Markets are very adept at reducing the risks involved in trading and price fluctuations by engaging in futures contracts (agreeing on a price now for a supply later) and options (agreeing on a right to buy or sell at certain future date), but they would certainly be a lot calmer should there be less state intervention.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The benefits of one to one mentoring and tutoring

This is an older post from last year - I'm moving them from my old website over to the Blogger.

What is the difference between going to school and having a private tutor?

It's a bit like going to a gym: if you wander in by yourself you may feel intimidated and either lose heart or fall into classes and do what everyone else is doing... but having someone their to guide you and encourage you, to push you and to lay off when appropriate - that's how we get the best out of learning!

I invest in the services of Guy Baker, PT working from Nottingham (he's also on facebook!). During the sessions, I'm the learner rather than the guide and it's good for a tutor to put him or herself in the learning seat (or on the bench in my case) and feel how tough learning can be! The focus is 100% on what I can do and what I have to potential to do and that's how learning should be!

At the top universities in the world, tutorial time is based on a one-to-one or very small seminars: in our one to one sessions, the pupil is gaining that wonderful focus that is offered in the highest academic places in the world!

The greatest businessmen and women often refer to their mentors - one-to-one tuition in how to proceed and run a business.

No distractions from other people, no mass produced material imposed on the mind - one-to-one offers pure learning at its best.

In a class, the pupil is a fraction (one in twenty, say, but it can be one in thirty) which means the pupil only gets a fraction of the teacher's attention at the best of times.

In a lecture hall - and for several years I was an academic lecturer - the pupil is merely a sound board: the lecturer broadcasts the information with the hope that some of the attendees are paying attention some of the time. It may be a great ego boost for the deliver and there's certainly economies of scale in sharing knowledge with so many people all at one, but it's not an effective way of learning. Most of the audience is not engaged 100% all of the time. Indeed, it is very difficult to pay attention for longer than ten minutes at a time, although we can stay "one the job" by coming in and out of focus regularly.

With one-to-one, our attention is undivided and we can concentrate on what the pupil knows and what he or she needs to learn. From a teaching perspective, one-to-one cannot be beat - whether you're pushing weights, learning dance steps, improving calculus, advancing piano skills, practising comprehension - the intensity is 100%. And when the focus wanes, we can adapt swiftly and either take a break for a few moments or change what is being learned. 

At school - even the best of them - cannot always deal with the individual in the way that personal mentorship can. I've learned so much under Guy's supervision but I've also learned so much with my pupils. I say to ours tutors - don't forget to learn with your pupil. It's a mutual and mutually beneficial process - it's great fun too!