The Unfair Advantage: Personal Development

The secret to success is no secret at all. If you want to get ahead in life, if you want a moral but unfair advantage over your competitors, if you feel you could do or be more than you currently are, personal development is your game.

Whether it be the struggling network marketing professional or corporate ladder climber or a self-made business man, every person whom I have interviewed and the numerous biographies I have ready of the rich, powerful, and influential, the same theme of personal development runs consistent and deep.

It was only when they buckled down and improved themselves by their own effort did the success come.

But what is personal development? Simply put, personal development is self–motivated education. It can be acquired by many different methods; online, live or recorded seminars, conferences, conventions, self-study at home, reading books, webinars, local colloquia, formal schooling, etc.

The only thing that clearly defines it is that the student is self-motivated and engaging the education out of an inner burning desire to increase in one or more of the following:

  • knowledge and wisdom
  • spiritual, emotional, and physical growth
  • developing and increasing personal and institutional skills and habits
  • enhanced relationships
  • building wealth and financial security
  • creating legacy

Going to college only counts as personal development if you were there out of an burning desire and self-motivation to grow and develop. Being forced or guilted by your parents doesn’t count. Attending primarily for the party life doesn’t count. Enrolling out of a fear of missing out doesn’t count.

In my years in higher education, I have interviewed thousands of college graduates and active and inactive college/university students. More than 80% of them reported having either gained very little from their college experience other than a spouse and huge debt or that it was a complete waste of time.

This is NOT personal development.

Personal development is the result of an internal drive that says you just have to know, learn, and grow or you will explode! If you have every felt this, you know exactly what I mean!

In my adult lifetime, I have spent more than $90,000 on personal development. Currently, I am spending from $5,000 to $12,000 per year and the dollar amount seems to be growing each year. Some family members asks me, “you already have 3 degrees and run a college, why do you need more education and training?”

They don’t understand.

Personal development is like climbing a peak and thinking that you have accomplished a lot, and then seeing all of those other higher peaks in the distance.

I can’t imagine ever reaching a “good enough” level in my understanding of the world, politics, or history. The more I put into my businesses, the more they produce. Why would I stop?

I have lifetimes of growth to accomplish when it comes to my relationships with my wife and children. The more money I make, the more I want to live life more fully, to help make the world a better place, and leave a legacy.

“Good Enough” is just not in my vocabulary.

So I always encourage personal development, and in fact, besides running a school, I am a mentor in a personal development group called Conscious Creator Mentoring Network.

In the articles that follow, I will be highlighting a couple of mentors in each article from the Conscious Creator Mentoring Network so you can meet them and experience a little of their wisdom.

Some of the incredibly talented mentors that have been brought together in this program are:



As a renowned public speaker, author and television personality, Les Brown has risen to national prominence by delivering a high energy message which tells people how to shake off mediocrity and live up to their greatness. It is a message Les Brown has learned from his own life and one he is helping others apply to their lives.

Les has had no formal education past high school, but with persistence and determination he has initiated and continued a process of unending self-education which has distinguished him as an authority on human potential. Les Brown’s passion to learn and his hunger to realize greatness in himself and others helped him to achieve greatness.

He rose from a hip-talkin morning DJ to broadcast manager; from community activist to community leader; from political commentator to 3-term legislator; and from a banquet and nightclub emcee to premier keynote speaker.

Les Brown is one of the nation’s leading authorities in understanding and stimulating human potential, utilizing powerful delivery and newly emerging insights to teach, inspire and channel people to new levels of achievement.



Marci Lock is known worldwide as “The Body-Mind Mentor” and the Game Changer for teaching people how to get their Rockin’ Body of Health and Ultimate Life.

As a Nutrition, Fitness, Mindset Expert and Transformation Mentor, she has appeared on TV around the world. She hosts her own TV and Radio Show, speaks globally, and is a bestselling Author.

She is passionate about changing lives around the world through to get the Rockin’ Body and Life of their dreams by breaking down the barriers to get and keep Breakthrough Results.

Her unique “Lock Formula” implements ALL Components; through her programs,books, and on her regular Marci Lock “Influential TV show, ” she has touched and transformed thousands of lives through her Mind Body Breakthrough Program, Goddess Revolution Experience, and her Corporate Wellness Programs.



Dr. Alex Dey is considered the number 1 Hispanic Speaker and Instructor in the art of selling,negotiating, self-improvement,   and self-help. With over 30 years of experience, Alex has trained large sales teams for many renowned corporations like Mercedes Benz and Pepsi. He is the Creator of more than 27 personal development programs and has authored nearly a dozen books including the bestselling titles like: The Seller’s Bible, Believe It, Yes You Can, and Take A Chance, Everything Will Be Fine. Which have gone on to sell millions of copies.

The American Cultural Institute of Mexico has honored him with the Doctor Honoris Causa award. In his dynamic personal events he has trained more than a million people, has keynoted at more than 5,ooo conferences in Latin America, the United States, Europe, and very soon will be in Asia. Alex continues to speak with an average of 25 thousand people each month.

He is the Founder and President of the company Alex Dey Corporation where he has advised companies, governors,  and prominent politicians.



Ann Webb is best known as The LifeVision Expert” and has coached thousands of successful entrepreneurs and network marketers in clarifying their business and personal visions, resulting in more money, better relationships, and improved health and fitness.

Ann is the author and creator of Creating Your Ideal LifeVision, a revolutionary Home Study Course that has helped thousands of people start living their Ideal Life. She also certifies Life and Business coaches to use Ideal LifeVision as a tool and process in their own businesses.

Ann is the President of Global LifeVision, a humanitarian outreach program that involves facilitating adventures for those who want to serve and make a different in developing countries. She regularly takes expeditions to teach, train, and serve in Africa and India.



Kevin Harrington, chairman and founder of TVGoods, Inc., is widely acknowledged as a pioneer and principal architect of the infomercial industry.

In 1984, Kevin produced one of the industry’s first 30 minute infomercials. Since then, he has been involved with over 500 product launches that resulted in sales of over $4 billion worldwide with 20 products that reached individual sales of over $100 million.

Kevin founded Quantum International, Ltd. in the mid 1980s, which merged into National Media Corporation in 1991. Under his leadership as President, National Media reached $500 million in annual sales, distributing in over 100 countries and 20 languages. This company’s success has been chronicled in a case study at Harvard/MIT for over a decade.

Throughout his career, Kevin helped to establish two of the most important and recognized global networking associations: the Entrepreneur’s Organization, or EO (formally known as the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization) and the Electronic Retailing Association, or ERA. Today, the EO has 113 chapters in 38 countries and more than 924,000 members. The ERA represents the $125 billion electronic retailing industry and is comprised of over 450 member companies and subsidiaries that use the power of electronic retailing to sell directly to consumers via television, radio, Internet and wireless media in over 100 countries worldwide.

Due to his extensive resume, Kevin was selected as an investor “Shark” on the ABC television series Shark Tank produced by Mark Burnett. The show gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their products to a panel of acclaimed judges in hopes of turning their ideas into a successful business reality. He recently released a book entitled “Act Now: How I Turn Ideas into Million-Dollar Products” that chronicles his life and experiences in the DRTV industry.

There are about 40 mentors total and we are just getting started.

Watch for more articles about the Conscious Creator Mentoring Network to follow in the near future.

We Are So Grateful!

I want to use this post to thank you for all the help we have received for the past two years.  Some of you have been on campus providing service – building trails, constructing buildings, placing water lines, mucking out stalls, building fences, and so many other dirty jobs.

downloadMany have helped by donating to Robert Morris Foundation, an institution that supports the development of our campus.

Thank you donors for your monetary support. We could not have achieved what we have without you. Every penny helps and we have millions to go before we are done.

To say that we are grateful seems weak and thin compared to how we feel about you.

Monticello College is a monument to you and your belief in all that is good and true and right.

Together we are creating an institution to stand the test of time and to be a beacon of light in a sometimes dark world.



Melt Down To A New Economy

Meltdown: A Free-Market Look At Why The Stock Market Collapsed, The Economy Tanked, And Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.” That is the title to Thomas Woods’ 2009 book. It is so good I am sad that I didn’t read it when it was first published.

download (1)

Please do not turn away in disinterest…I know this may not be your favorite topic, but the key to financial autonomy in knowledge and proper application…here is where it begins.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. is an American historian, political analyst, and author.

Woods is a New York Times best-selling author and has published eleven books including the Politically Incorrect Guide To American History, and The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era.

He takes the complicated and contrasting concepts of Keynesian and Austrian economics and simplifies them so even I can understand the differences and proper application of timeless principles.

F.A. Hayek

F.A. Hayek

He walks you through:

  • The basics of Keynesian Economics vs Austrian Economics
  • Historical perspectives regarding numerous so called American economic depressions/recessions and crystalizes the matter for maximum understanding
  • Fractionalization and monetary policy
  • The underground debate of American economic historians
  • How Americans never seem to learn from the past, especially our own past
  • The need for Free Enterprise and an Economic “government-free” mindset

Here are a couple of quotes from his books:

The economist F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize is economics in 1974 for a theory of the business cycle that holds great explanatory power — especially in light of the 2008 financial crisis, which so many economists have been at a loss to explain. Hayek’s work, which builds on a theory developed by economist Ludwig von Mises, finds the root of the boom-bust cycle in the central bank. In our case that’s the Federal Reserve Bank System, the very institution that postures as the protector of the economy and the source of relief from business cycles…the Fed…can expand and contract the money in the economy, and can influence the movement of interest rates upward or downward.


Looking at the money supply makes sense when looking for the root of an economy-wide problem. After all, money is the one thing present in all corners of the market, as Lionel Robbins points out in his 1943 book, The Great Depression. “Is it not probable,” he asked, “that disturbances affecting many lines of industry at once will be found to have monetary causes?  

John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes

Later Woods talks about the Keynes’s fantasy of a permanent economic boom:

In the short run the result of the central bank’s lowering of the interest rates is the apparent prosperity of the boom period.  Stocks and real estate shoot up. New construction is everywhere, businesses are expanding their capacity, and people are enjoying a high standard of living. But the economy is on a sugar high, and reality inevitably sets in. Some of those investments will prove to be unsustainable and will have to be abandoned, with the resources devoted to them having been partially or completely squandered. 


That is one of the reasons the Fed cannot simply pump more credit into the economy and keep the boom going. Yet the economist John Maynard Keynes–who is oddly back in fashion in Washington (even though his system collapsed in the in the early 1970’s when it couldn’t account for “stagflation”)–proposed exactly this: “The remedy for the boom is not a higher rate of interest but a lower rate of interest! For that may enable the so-called boom to last. The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.” 


download (1)I highly recommend this book to all who want to understand what is happening around us economically and the proper and not-so-proper role of government vs free enterprise.

The Industrial Age (1850-1990??) was a time of massive upheaval regarding the manufacture and production of goods worldwide.

It widened the gap between capital and labor, owner and laborer.

In many ways the current collision of the Industrial and Information Ages has disrupted the order and balance of things far beyond anything we can imagine and with the advent of 3-D printing and things like nano-technology, stem-cell research, and the new relationship between manufacturing and advertising/distribution, we are most certainly entering a New Economy.

This new economy can be identified by key words and phrases such as “multiple-streams-of-income,” Network Marketing, Entrepreneurship, non-traditional business, and private retirement planning. Like it or not, the world of business is changing–and to survive–to succeed, we will have to embrace that change.


download (2)P.S. My wife has taken my constant dialog about Free Enterprise, American Economic Independence, and multi-streams-of-income to heart and has started her own company promoting skin care products.  I share it here only to exemplify the New Economy:

Look Ten Years Younger In 2 Minutes:

Instantly Ageless Demo

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The Best Opportunities Come In Times Of Maximum Pessimism

downloadThe first half of the 21st Century is a Fourth/First Turning period (See the Fourth Turning by Howe and Strauss).*

This means that the olds ways of doing just about everything are quickly evaporating and being replaced by new ways.

The faster we learn the new ways (or even creating some ourselves) the better for our own personal economy.

One of my mentors from 20 years ago took a class at Stanford in the 1950’s called “Contrary Opinion.”

The point of the class was to show that most people are wrong most of the time. So don’t follow the crowd.

By doing the opposite of what most of the people are doing—especially in the beginning of a period of change— you have a greater chance at success.

Fourth-Turning-Image-300x210Warren Buffett says it a little differently, he says “be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful,” and Sir John Templeton said, “the best opportunities come in times of maximum pessimism.”

This suggests that we should strive to see what is happening around us from a perspective of curiosity and creativity rather than fear and trepidation.

We should operate and make decisions from a pro-active stance rather an reactive one.

This is how fortunes are made, new technologies created, and the world changed for good.

Unfortunately, most Americans are and will continue to persevere in the old ways which serve only to alienate them from the new reality, making them less and less effective.

Dent-Jr.-195x300Take for instance the January 2015 report just put out by forecaster and demographer, Harry Dent.

Gauge Your Real Estate Risks: How to Prepare for the Next Crash                January 2015 — Harry Dent, Editor

This is a MUST read.

I have been following Harry Dent for about 10 years.

He offers insight into where our economy is going based primarily on demographics.

Many people will read this report and be scared out of their skins because they will compare it to where we have been, and the economic tragedies of 2001 and 2008; the housing bubble, the near stock market crash, unemployment etc.

But many people have made fortunes over the past 13 years, just like others did during the Great Depression. The real question we should be asking ourselves is how did they do it?**

I struggle with using Facebook and emailing from my I-phone of which I currently am using about 1% of it’s capacity. I still do not understand the value of Twitter, and the host of other social media platforms….but I acknowledge that to effectively communication—at least to get people’s attention—I must master these tools of the 21st century if I plan to be a success over the next few decades.

The same is true about developing financial freedom and in turn maintaining political freedom. The principles remain the same, but the way that we communicate them and apply them are changing, and we must change with them.


* Other suggested books to read:

The Coming Aristocracy, DeMille

Money: Master the Game – & Simple Steps To Financial Freedom, Robbins

Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, DeMille & Brooks


**I sent the Dent Report to Strongbrook founder Kris Krohn and President and CEO, Steve Earl.  Below is Steve’s response.

From: Steve Earl <>

Subject: Re: Dent’s Latest Looks Like a Boon for Us

Date:   December 29, 2014 4:48:39 PM MST

To: Shanon Brooks <>


Mr. Dent makes some very good points and seems to have some good data to back up his theories.  I agree with most and a little less on others.

Nonetheless, I do believe his thoughts are very accurate in that what he believes the market will do over the coming years gives legitimacy to Strongbrook’s real estate investing strategy, which is two fold.

Number one, we are built on the strategy of creating cash flow through real estate, and because the constant found in real estate is the consistency of rent values, the market can go up or it can go down and the cash flow remains fairly steady.

Number two, when a growth market presents itself, we are able to take advantage of the opportunity, and then move out of it at a strong yet conservative point in the growth cycle.  Additionally, Mr. Dent notes that real estate is very geographic in nature.  Strongbrook has developed its acquisition team to be constantly looking for particular opportunities through out the country and then bring those to its clients.

I agree with Mr. Dent’s thoughts on population growth and how that will affect demand for real estate.  What I don’t know is how accurately things will play out based on his theory.  One thing he doesn’t account for in his hypothesis is the affect immigration may have on US population and demographics.

With the recent change President Obama made to immigration law and how that whole thing may evolve, the US could see a significant increase in population from immigration.  Most of these people are renters, and that will create more demand in the rental market.  Additionally, if these immigrants are granted valid SS#’s, the opportunity for them to get loans and buy homes will impact the single family market and the value of homes.

Having said all of that, if Mr. Dent is 100% right on all accounts, Strongbrook is definitely positioned to help its clients succeed in a very big way over the coming decade.

I hope you all had a great Christmas!  I am looking forward to a huge 2015 and seeing Strongbrook have a significant impact in each of our lives.



Steve Earl

President & CEO

The Strongbrook Group


Do You Follow Clason’s Law?

quote-i-am-the-american-dream-i-am-the-epitome-of-what-the-american-dream-basically-said-it-said-you-whoopi-goldberg-72719As a self-motivated American Dream/Reality promoter and possibly even your counselor and mentor (I only take on this role if you are voluntarily reading my blog on a regular basis), I am getting bold and repetitive about financial autonomy—BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN YOU.


101512bucks-carl-sketch-blog480I believe that you can solve your own problems and crises if you will but seek out financial truth, raise your head above the din of everyday drudgery, and set your determined gaze on that truth.

In a phrase: rather than focusing on The Economy, focus on Personal Economy.

Do you have an economic goal and a financial plan?

Are you actually striving for a specific desired financial end result or are you just getting by?

Will you have a secure and adequate financial base when you decide to retire?

During the winter holiday season, I always take time out to read a few books that have been waiting patiently on my shelf. This season, I am reading a few Industrial Age and Great Depression era biographies, namely: Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, and George Eastman.

This period covers about 100 years beginning in the1840’s through the 1940’s. Many people lost all that they had and others did very well during this period. Yes some people did well due to corruption and cheating the system.

Others gained wealth due to being at the right place at the right time, but the majority did well or poorly as a result of following or not following sound principles of finance and whether or not they lived or avoided Clason’s Law (George Clason, Author of Richest Man in Babylon, explains that people stay in financial bondage who strive for a standard of living at or beyond their income, regardless how much they earn).

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

It is fascinating to study these men’s lives. Many started out with much less innate talent or resources than you have now, but they overcame their less than favorable circumstances and not only did very well financially, they left a legacy that we now enjoy.

I wanted to read about these men in depth because for decades I have been influenced by hearsay and public “common knowledge.” I wanted to know for myself who these men were and what they stood for.

I do not agree with every method and every conviction held by these Titans of the Industrial Age, but only after studying their lives and getting into their heads can I now say that I think I understand them at some level and realize that whether I agree or disagree is not the issue.

Intention is the true criteria upon which we should make judgment. Intention means much more to me than passing social morality or legalism.


Henry Ford

Henry Ford

To judge a man by his intention is to look into his heart. We seldom accomplish what we dream of, in fact often we come up miserably short, but that does not change the fact that we were motivated by a beautiful dream. And that we should be judged by our intentions and not our less than perfect manifestation of those intentions.

But I digress.

One of the most basic concepts I discovered in the study of these great men (meaning impactful not necessarily good) is that they saw the world differently than the general population* and clearly understood the proper relationship between four economic realities: Income, Expenses, Assets, and Liabilities.

There is a great distinction between those who follow the Liability Cycle versus those who concentrate on the Asset Cycle.

Let me explain.

The typical middle class American seeks a good job so that they can earn enough income to qualify for as many liabilities (for a Clason’s Law standard of living) as possible, which then obligates all of their income to pay monthly expenses. This creates an impression and feeling of a high standard of living but in reality it expends all income and incurs unsustainable debt.

This is commonly known as the “Rat Race” or the Liability Cycle.

J.P. Morgan

J.P. Morgan

The wealthy or those moving toward wealth employ a different strategy. They begin living substantially under their means or income, then use the resultant savings to purchase assets, which in turn generates passive or residual income.

The increase of income (residual income) covers the monthly expenses, allowing the person to save and invest even more. Still living under their earned income, they are able to purchase even more assets, creating even more residual income and so it goes.

Over time, the residual income from assets exceeds their expenses and they are financially free. Then the residual income exceeds their earned income and they quit their job. This I am calling the Asset Cycle.

The beauty is that any person regardless of their situation or how much damage they have caused themselves financially, can begin applying the Asset Cycle today and in due course, raise themselves out of the nightmare of debt, low self-esteem, and destroyed dreams caused by the Liability Cycle.

Understanding the magic of this process is just one lesson to be learned from studying the Industrial Age and Great Depression eras.


*One of my mentors from 20 years ago took a class at Stanford in the 1950’s called “Contrary Opinion.” The point of the class was to prove that most people are wrong most of the time. So don’t follow the crowd. By doing the opposite of what most of the people are doing, you have a greater chance at success.

These same sentiments are echoed by Warren Buffett – “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful,” and Sir John Templeton – “The best opportunities come in times of maximum pessimism.”