I watched it happen, and my heart went out to the man; he stepped into a trap of his own devising.

I was attending a talk; just five minutes earlier, the speaker had gone through an entire litany on why he never watched television--and why no one in the audience should either...ever again. Now, as he warmed to another topic, he began to illustrate his point by discussing a recent commercial.

A TV commercial.

A TV commercial he'd obviously seen. Recently.


And, yes, the audience rose up, practically in unison, and challenged him on it. The man was caught, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Many speakers I know advise never watching television. It's probably pretty good advice, too, even if not particularly realistic...and, evidently, a difficult directive to follow--even for them. Don't get me wrong: I don't disagree with the idea...it's just that, in practice, it may not be 100 percent there. After all, there are a few (a very few) high-quality educational programs you can watch and from which you might even benefit. Not to mention re-runs of "Law and Order," on which I'm somewhat hooked myself.

My point? What does this have to do with your business and bottom line?


The Cost of Not Buying a Book

In my own talks, I'm forever recommending books and audio programs for people to purchase for their self-improvement. Over the years, these tools have helped me earn a lot of money, principally by helping me build myself on the inside, which is where external wealth first takes form.

If I were to have any pet peeves (I don't, actually. I think pets are cute, but not peeves. I'm saying if.), one of them would probably be people saying they cannot afford a $25 book or a $79 audio program.

In fact, when people tell me that in private conversation, I usually respond with something like this: "You mean to say that if the information in that $79 program could help you make thousands of dollars you wouldn't make otherwise, you still wouldn't buy it?"

They'll usually say, "No...I just can't afford it right now."

Fine. So, when will they be able to afford it? You see, I find that people who cannot afford a self-improvement tool today, but who don't do anything differently in their lives, typically cannot afford it tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.

So I'll suggest they do something dramatic.

"Okay, here's what I suggest: Sell your television. With the profits, invest in a few hundred dollars worth of tapes and books, and study them diligently. Purchase Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwarz, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, The Greatest Networker in the World by John Milton Fogg. And while you're at it, see if you can buy some Jim Rohn audio programs. Or Brian Tracy's, or Zig Ziglar's, or Bob Proctor's, or Randy Gage's...and those of some of your other favorite speakers and authors."

"What!?" they'll ask accusingly. "What are you, one of those motivation nuts who'd tell people to sell their television so they can buy books and tapes?!"

Well...er, yes, I guess. That is in fact what I am suggesting--though not necessarily for the "motivation" as much as the information.


Know What You Need

About 20 years ago, I was working a sales job in the Midwest. I was doing less than okay, financially, and knew I needed to learn a lot about selling if I were ever going to do any better. Fortunately, the entire sales staff learned about a seminar being given by Zig Ziglar. I paid the entrance fee and loved everything about the program. Then, at the end of the program, Zig did his "commercial" for his tapes. Before he'd even finished talking, I was running back to the table to buy the tape program. One of my fellow salespeople tried to stop me, telling me that I couldn't afford it. "I know," I replied, as I kept running; "that's why I'm getting it."

That tape program turned my sales business around. I can't tell you how many times in a row I listened to it in my car. I can't express to you with any less than complete enthusiasm how often I used some of Zig's words from the tape set, line by line, when answering a prospect's objections. I can't relate without total and effusive gratitude how many sales I closed just because I'd heard the tapes so often that I had the closes memorized.

"Sure, Burg," you may be thinking; "but I'll bet you didn't sell your television set to buy the tapes."

You're right, I didn't--because I didn't have a TV set at the time. Couldn't afford one. I decided not to buy one until I could. Shortly after listening to Zig's tapes, I had a really nice one delivered.

Here is my point (yes, I did actually have one): Invest in yourself first; the toys will come eventually. In fact, the more you invest in yourself before you have the toys, the more toys--and lifestyle--you'll eventually be able to afford.


is author of Endless Referrals and Winning Without Intimidation, and a free weekly e-zine on networking