Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bob Imai and How The Laws of Success of Ryuho Okawa Bring Happiness

Bob Imai talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality.

“If your success is not good for your soul, then achieving success doesn’t mean anything.” ~Bob Imai

Master Okawa is the spiritual leader who founded Happy Science in 1986, which is a movement which started in Japan, whose purpose is to enable people to find fulfilment and success through the principles of love, wisdom, self-reflection and progress. The movement now has some ten million members scattered throughout 160 countries, and Bob himself is a minister in Atlanta, Georgia. He came across Happy Science in 1990 while still an engineer researching on self-driving cars and experiencing some discontent in his life. He became a monk as a result of investigating into the teachings of Happy Science and has been connected with the movement since then.

The Laws of Success contains principles that both people and organizations need to achieve success. Bob notes that, in order to find true success, one has to know the meaning, purpose and mission of one’s life, as it is believed that we are spiritual beings who live several lives on this physical plane over and over again, in order to improve and nourish our souls, as this is the context in which the book exists. In this context, it is believed that we choose the kind of lives we will lead in the physical realm before we enter it, and that our mind enables us to access all the wisdom and knowledge we need to attain our success. That said, Bob notes that one does not necessarily have to believe in life after death in order to get something from The Laws of Success, as the book  also comes from the context of harnessing the power of the mind, which has been behind successes, historically.

The pillars of success that support success are originality (we have our own, individual measures for success), shared joy (success is accompanied by joy) and a sense of unique contribution (true success contributes to society), and Bob shared Thomas Edison as an example who showed examples of all of these pillars in his life. Bob notes that success isn’t an outcome or a result, but that it is a process designed to improve ourselves. Self-realization is the basis of success, with visualizing one’s goal being the first thing to do. A positive attitude is also necessary to achieving one’s goal, after which one should then act on it. Bob notes that the path isn’t easy, so making habits to support success, as well as breaking down the tasks into small, easily achievable parts.

The Laws of Success might be thirty years old, and Bob points out that the principles within enabled Happy Science to grow from the small numbers in its movement that long ago to its present size. He remarks that The Laws of Success is similar to such books related to the Law of Attraction, such as The Secret, but that there is nothing in the latter that talks about the basis of such concepts, which is a belief in the spiritual realm.

Bob also advises that people meditate - by which he means people should just take a little time each day to sit in total silence - to access the wisdom that comes from one’s mind.

Purchase from Amazon: The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality by Master Ryuho Okawa

Friday, April 14, 2017

Siphiwe Baleka and His 4-Minute Fit Book to Enhance Metabolism

Siphiwe Baleka talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out.


“We can’t make America great again unless we make America fit again.” ~Siphiwe Baleka

Siphiwe was a world-class swimmer in college, and had been an athlete since he was young. He took a job as a trucker, and within two months of taking the job, he gained fifteen pounds, which was over ten percent of his body weight, which scared him. He realized then that he needed to take responsibility for his weight, and then went on to try out various fitness programs and diets. He realized that there was no such program specifically designed for long-haul truck drivers and their particular environment, and so went out and developed his own. Siphiwe then studied metabolic endocrinology and used digital sports equipment to help his progress, and it was through these that he discovered that his metabolism was so low when he was driving trucks that he needed to find a way to keep it up while driving.

Siphiwe noted that truck drivers actually have an unhealthy profession, as they have highest rates of obesity, the highest rates of metabolic syndrome, and has the lowest life expectancy, and this is due to the nature of their work and on the impact on their bodies. He notes that truck drivers don’t have access to kitchens, have no refrigerators in their trucks to store food in, and drive mostly on the main interstates and highways, which makes such things as getting to a local farmer’s market, or even the gym, impractical, and remarks that, for all intents and purposes, truck drivers “might as well be astronauts living in outer space.” Truck drivers are also subjected to changes in schedule, depending on what they haul, and this disrupts the body’s internal rhythms and hormonal releases, as truck drivers thus train themselves to override these internal rhythms and the hormones that regulate metabolism. This often results in such things as truck drivers not getting hungry, and as they don’t eat their metabolisms turn off. Siphiwe points out that the average truck driver eats only once or twice a day, and while they may overeat during those times, their bodies are, overall, starving, which makes their body store fat.

4-Minute Fit is based on the work Siphiwe has done since 2012, working with truck drivers to improve their physical wellness. It is a program that shows how to turn one’s metabolism on at the start of the day in four minutes’ time, and then how to keep it on throughout the day, with minimal effort. The idea for the book came from an editor for Sports Illustrated who had done an article for what he was doing, and Siphiwe figured, if truck drivers can do it, anyone can. According to him, one in three Americans is obese, and this costs 150 billion dollars a year, and he also points out that the main reason that seven out of ten applicants to the United States Armed Forces are rejected because they were obese or physically unfit.

Siphiwe notes that losing weight is easy; keeping it off is the true challenge, as this requires a change of behavior, which then requires one to get into one’s values and emotions, as the source of behavior is usually subconscious programming. Siphiwe thus wants to get to a person’s motivation behind their desire to change, and while he admits that this can be emotional, he notes that emotion is also energy which can be harnessed. Siphiwe then starts by knowing where a person is nutritionally at the present, identifying the food which the person presently eats which does the most damage and then eliminating that during one week, and then doing the same with another food the following week, which makes for a gradual change rather than a fast overhaul.

Siphiwe notes that he has cases of drivers who have lost weight and kept it off for years, as well as others whose health has greatly improved over a long period of time, and since his program is the least disruptive one around it can be used by anyone. He notes that the science behind his system has been around for three decades, and what he adds to that is turning on metabolism at the start of the day and then keeping it up by giving it what it needs when it needs it.

Siphiwe notes that there is a direct relationship between what one gets out of life and one’s health; and the more one can do what they want to do when they want to do it (which is his definition of fitness) the more one can do and experience, which enables one to learn, grow and receive from the Universe. He notes that all motivational speakers always ask: “What’s your ‘why’?” and the “why” needs to be so big that it gives one enough energy to do the necessary and inconvenient things needed to achieve one’s goals.

Siphiwe noted that he has partnered with Progressive Commercial Insurance to create free content which people could use to get started at

Purchase from Amazon: 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out by Siphiwe Baleka and Jon Wertheim

Monday, April 3, 2017

Donna Orange on Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics

Donna M. Orange talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics.

“Telling people things doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere.” ~Donna M. Orange

Donna comes from the Pacific Northwest, and after becoming a philosophy professor she became a psychoanalyst on the East Coast for some thirty-five years. She recently retired to Claremont, California, where she focuses on the topics covered in her book, as she felt the climate crisis when she returned to California, heard nothing from psychoanalysts where climate crisis is concerned and had been influenced by her philosophical studies into radical ethics. She developed the book in reaction to her own realization about the nature of the present climate crisis and the suffering experienced by those who are affected by climate change, and also as a way to explain why people are turning away from the issue of climate crisis from her psychoanalytical experiences and perspective.

Donna explains that “radical ethics” comes from a Jewish and a Christian philosopher who argue that “The other comes before me,” which is an ethical attitude that is radically different from the present attitude in the West, which is about focus on what is good for oneself and one’s immediate family above all else. Radical ethics essentially describes how people would treat each other, and highlights the responsibilities we have to other human beings.

Donna points out that there are several aspects about the present mindset that feed into climate crisis, with political climate denial being based on political and financial advancement being one, and with another being disavowal, which is an inability to face the situation, and to thus avoid it as it occurs as being too big and too scary to be handled. Double-mindedness is a psychoanalytic concern and is when people know how bad the situation presently is, but still go on behaving as if the change isn’t taking place which, to Donna, stems from being overwhelmed and ashamed and trapped in egoistic individualism. Donna points out that the science is solid, and that facing up to this is a psychological matter.

Donna also noted that there are cultural elements that perpetuate the present attitude towards climate crisis, which includes colonialism and slavery. She points out that people in the United States aren’t present to that they live on stolen land, and compares Canada to the United States in this regard, pointing out the Canadian children hear a declaration that they live on the lands of the First People who have lived on it. Donna remarks that, because Americans are unconscious to the suffering they have historically inflicted, they are unconscious to the suffering of others caused by climate crisis, and that the United States will lead the world into the disaster of climate crisis.

Donna believes that people need to stand up and be counted to do work to deal with the issue of climate crisis, and notes that psychoanalysts seem to be waking up to that their work isn’t just about helping out individuals with their concerns, but that they are also citizens of a global community. She points out that the Climate Psychology Alliance, which is an organization of psychologists and psychoanalytics, is an established organization in Great Britain and she hopes that a similar organization can be set up in the United States. She points out that people need to be moved “for more than fifteen minutes” for true change to take place, particularly since climate change isn’t easily visible to the common person, and that radical ethics has a place through the respect for other spiritual traditions. Donna also notes that alliances need to be created with religious and spiritual leaders due to the influence these have.

To those who wonder about climate change, Donna would ask them about the kind of world they would want to live in two or three decades from now, after which they should imagine what the world will be like for themselves and the people around them if things continue the way they are. She noted that young people are willing to ask themselves such questions and would like to ask everyone to think that all humans are connected to each other and matter to each other.

Purchase from Amazon: Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis and Radical Ethics by Donna M. Orange

Monday, March 27, 2017

Miko Peled on Writing The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine

Miko Peled talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

“Never give up the fight for justice. Never accept oppression. Never accept violence as a solution to problems. Always seek justice and not be afraid to speak up, speak through to power.” ~Miko Peled 

A young Miko Peled with his father, Matti.
Miko was born and raised in Jerusalem, the son of an Israeli army general, and thus had a very patriotic Israeli upbringing. One of the pivotal moments in his life was when his niece was killed, and while Miko points out that the murderer killed himself, he does believe that it is the Israeli government which is ultimately responsible for her death, given the way it treats the Palestinians.

Miko points out that Israel and Palestine are the same place, and the journey he mentioned in the book’s subtitle is that of one from the sphere he was raised in and that of the Palestinians, since Israelis and Palestinians live in segregated areas and are subject to different laws. Miko remarked that the Israelis live privileged lives while the Palestinians live under subjugation and cruelty, which breeds resistance and violence and revolt. Miko feels that the Israelis are responsible for the stark reality on the ground but choose not to address it.

Miko wrote the book because his friends encouraged him to, at a time when he was already speaking out publicly on the issue of Israel and Palestine. He found the writing process to be very interesting, as a lot of things came up, such as forgotten memories, as well as doing the research in the Israeli Army archives to learn more about things in his father’s career that he wasn’t previously aware of.

The general at work.
According to Miko, the reality is that Western colonialism has consistently encouraged a European-centric attitude which carries on today, and points out that the United States, over the next ten years, will provide 38 billion dollars in aid, despite the fact that Israel has a fully-developed economy and really doesn’t need that aid or the weapons they claim to need, as the Palestinians have no tanks or the like.

Miko points out that there are around 6.1 million Palestinians and 5.9 million Jews in Israel, and while Jews are subject to the same laws throughout the land, the Palestinians, who live in military-controlled areas are subject to military law and those who live in another part are specifically subject to 95 specific laws. He gave the example of water allocation, as Israel has control of the water supply and gives only 3% of the water to the Palestinians.

Miko’s vision for peaceful coexistence is a model similar to that of South Africa, and believes that democracy and equal rights should take root, after which the past injustices can be addressed, Palestinian refugees can return to their homes, equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis are upheld, and the military regime can end.

Miko would like to let people know that the call for equality in Palestine is the “call of the day,” and that people should get informed and support the cause for justice and equality. He believes that peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is possible, and he summed up the universal quest for justice as follows: “Never give up the fight for justice. Never accept oppression. Never accept violence as a solution to problems. Always seek justice and not be afraid to speak up, speak through to power.”

Those who would like to get more details about Miko can go to

Purchase from Amazon: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine by Miko Peled

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Carolyn Wilman on Getting Better Winning in Sweepstakes and More

Carolyn Wilman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More!.

“The friends are better than the prizes.” ~Carolyn Wilman 

Carolyn started her hobby of entering sweepstakes as a teenager, and as an adult she pursued a career in marketing, which she still does up to this day. She only started seriously entering sweepstakes as a hobby in 2001, after reading an article about some people who did just that, and as she was unemployed at that time, due to the dot-com bubble bursting then, she decided to try it out. While she admits that attempting to live off sweepstakes earnings doesn’t work, doing so has enabled her to do things  that she wouldn’t have gone on and meet people she wouldn’t otherwise normally meet, such as the singer Sting. Carolyn also noted that she also liked meeting people in sweepstakes conventions, which are gatherings of people who like to enter sweepstakes and which, like any convention, have speakers who speak on different topics, and Carolyn remarks that she always learns something new at these conventions.

How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More! is actually the second edition of her original books on entering sweepstakes as a hobby, which she approached from a marketing methodology and perspective. She decided to write first editions (there were North American and Canadian versions of that book) after spotting a message on a church that inspired her to do so, and the books came out in 2004. Since then, sweepstakes methodologies had changed, with one of these being mail-in volume being greatly reduced while social media volume has increased greatly. Carolyn points out that her book is the only comprehensive “how to” book which details, step by step, how to enter sweepstakes in the market, as well as points out the things to avoid so one’s time doesn’t get wasted.

Carolyn points out that there are three different legal definitions to prizewinning competitions:

  1. In lotteries, an entry fee needs to be paid, money is given as a prize, and the winner is determined by chance.
  2. Sweepstakes give prizes that aren’t necessarily money and are free to enter, and the winner is, likewise, determined by chance.
  3. Contests require an entry fee to be paid, and the winners are due to judging, rather than by chance.

For Carolyn, organizing is key, so that one can enter the most number of sweepstakes in the shortest amount of time, and she herself spends only one or two hours a day entering and checking on sweepstakes. Carolyn, however, points out that it is a numbers game, and that one will enter far more often than one will win. Carolyn presently works as a sweepstakes marketer and thus has a unique perspective on both sides of the sweepstakes coin, and she noted that, at present, around four billion US dollars are spent on sweepstakes in the United States alone. The prizes range from $25 gift cards to large ones worth $50,000, and Carolyn remarks that, for her, the experiences that come with the prizes are the true prizes. That said, she doesn’t mind winning smaller amounts, as these help her out financially.

Carolyn notes that people need to think they’re lucky to succeed. She also noted that a scientific study had been done on luck by a Dr. Richard Wiseman, which was printed out in a book, and that the study proved that people who had positive outlooks and believed in opportunity had brains that were wired to see more opportunity.

Carolyn remarked on the legal aspects of sweepstakes, pointing out that there are lawyers that specialize in sweepstakes laws and that the rules are legal and binding contracts that can stand up in courts. Carolyn thus advises people to read the rules and notes that sweepstakes are not on-the-fly. She also revealed that, as a marketer, she reads through the entries to see if these conform with the rules.

Carolyn noted that her wins come in waves, with long periods of time when she doesn’t win something, followed by times when she wins a lot of prizes within a short period of time. She also noted how “sweepers,” those who enter sweepstakes as a hobby, enter sweepstakes continuously and consistently for at least three months, daily, before they can see results. Based on statistical research, one can win at least 30% of the time, but that does not guarantee a big win. Then again, you’ll never know what you can win if you don’t enter.

Purchase from Amazon: How to Win Cash, Cars, Trips & More! by Carolyn Wilman

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mark Antonacci on Testing the Shroud of Turin Again

Mark Antonacci talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Test the Shroud.

“This evidence is relevant to everyone.” ~Mark Antonacci on proving the Shroud of Turin is the real deal.

Mark got interested in the Shroud of Turin some 35 years ago when, while still an agnostic, he read the summary of scientific articles written by scientists who had studied the shroud in 1978, and he had been interested in the topic since then. Test the Shroud covers the various pieces of relevant evidence regarding the Shroud, as well as the questions related to the relic.

Shrouds have been used as linen burial garments in the Middle East for centuries, and unlike other such shrouds there are two images and some 130 blood marks noticeable in these. The wounds are consistent with the descriptions of the injuries Jesus suffered during his crucifixion, and Mark noted that, while the Shroud has had a history in Europe since the 1300s, but a cloth reportedly with the same images on it have been mentioned up to the first century ACE. He also noted that the use of modern technology has enabled more evidence to be gathered, particularly where resolution of images are concerned. Mark also noted that there have been no other shrouds which have exhibited this kind of imagery. 

With regard to the scientific controversy about the cloth, Mark noted that, of the 26 areas in which the tests were comprehensively done, all were consistent except for the carbon-14 dating area, and it was this result that the media and public opinion jumped on. Mark explained how the dates from the carbon-14 dating, at one of the facilities which did the carbon-dating, covered a very wide spread of ages, and that what the facility did, rather than just release the data, was to average the ages, which Mark noted wasn’t a valid procedure. Mark then gave some technical details on how carbon-14 could have been impregnated into the cloth by particle radiation from the environment and from the body that the cloth was wrapped in.

The tests Mark proposes would enable confirmation of the increase of carbon-14 the closer one gets to the image of the body and that this would add greater weight to the supposition that the body wrapped in the shroud was that of Jesus Christ. The molecular tests would be nondestructive, and the atomic testing, while destructive, would require only an extremely small part of the Shroud; and Mark doesn’t propose that atomic testing be done until molecular tests have been done repetitively to ensure consistency.

Mark advises for people to inquire into the central tenet of their faith and see what scientific evidence for these premises, noting that humanity has not had any extensive scientific evidence for these, particularly when it comes to the matter of life after death.

Purchase from Amazon: Test the Shroud by Mark Antonacci

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Kiyoshi Shimada: The Essence of Buddha by Ryuho Okawa of Happy Science

Kiyoshi "Keith" Shimada talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Essence of Buddha: The Path to Enlightenment.

“You are using only ten percent of your total energy.” ~Kiyoshi "Keith" Shimada 

Keith has been involved with the Happy Science movement since 2003, and is presently involved with its North American operations. Happy Science itself, which was founded in 1986, originated in Japan but now has a presence in over a hundred countries around the world, and Master Ryuho Okawa, its founder, has published over two thousand books and has given two thousand five hundred lectures to date, based on teachings from such figures as Jesus, Moses as well as other teachers.

The Essence of Buddha is essentially a guidebook on Buddhism, not only giving an introduction to Buddhism but also covers various topics related to Buddhism. The individual who is presently known as the Buddha was born Siddharta Gautama, originally from a place in what is present-day Nepal some 2,600 years ago. He traveled to present-day India where he made his teachings well-known after forty years of travel, and his teachings then spread throughout the world. Although there are presently two different forms of Buddhism - Mahayana Buddhism, which is practiced in Japan, China and Korea, and which has reincarnation as one of its tenets; and Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand and India, whose followers follow exactly what the Buddha taught, and which doesn’t have reincarnation as one of its tenets - there are also various sects within these two branches.

One of the concepts covered is the Eightfold Path, which consists of:

  • Right view - how one sees things
  • Right thoughts - what one thinks
  • Right speech - what one says
  • Right action - what one does
  • Right livelihood - what kind of work one does
  • Right effort - how much effort one makes
  • Right mindfulness - what one thinks inside, as well as how one lives one’s life
  • Right concentration - this is essentially about meditation.

Keith pointed out that the Eightfold Path is related more about focus on thoughts, and that meditation is a key aspect of enabling one to live one’s life. During meditation, one must reflect on what one did and thought on things done in the past to guide oneself back to that right path, and Keith points out that one doesn’t have to be a monk to do so, as five to fifteen minutes of reflection are sufficient for the average person.

Enlightenment, according to Keith, is based on one’s purpose in one’s life. The belief is that people reincarnate and, when they return to the earth, they choose where and when to be born and who their parents will be as well as what their gender and their occupation will be. A goal is set for that person, and overcoming the hardships experienced during one’s life gives one wisdom, which is what enlightenment is all about. Keith points out that the specifics of enlightenment differ from person to person, but that the effects are the same, giving the analogy of climbing a mountain: there are many paths to the summit, but the end objective, the summit, will be the same, regardless of path taken and the challenges encountered.

The Six Parameters are focused on the actions one takes during one’s life, and these are:

  • Perfection of offering - does one love people, through one’s actions? Did you do something to help another?
  • Perfection of observing the precepts - being strict / disciplined on oneself; did you do what you said you would do today?
  • Perfection of perseverance - be mindful of time; don’t rush
  • Perfection of effort - is the effort one makes everyday correct or not?
  • Perfection of meditation - did one meditate?
  • Perfection of wisdom - essentially enlightenment

Keith also mentioned some other tenets of Buddhism - causality and the void - which weren’t covered in the interview, but which are covered in The Essence of Buddha, along with others.

Keith remarked that people don’t use ninety percent of their energy, which is wasted, and that applying the tenets of Buddhism can enable one to access this unused ninety percent of energy, enabling one to improve oneself, expand one’s influence and empower others.

Purchase from Amazon: The Essence of Buddha: The Path to Enlightenment by Master Ryuho Okawa.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

John Agostinelli Explains the American Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

John Agostinelli talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book with Chris Michaud, Easy Money and the American Real Estate Ponzi Scheme: From Your Pocket to Theirs, the Insiders' View of the Great Housing Recession, and How It's Happening Again.

“Just because a lender tells you, you can qualify up to a certain maximum doesn’t mean you should spend the maximum.” ~John Agostinelli

John and Chris have a combined total of some five decades’ worth of experience in the real estate industry, with John starting off in the banking industry then becoming a speculative homes seller, and when the market began declining in 2005 he began soliciting banks for an increasing foreclosure inventory, selling lots of foreclosed properties. It was then that he noticed the disconnect between what the media was reporting about the 2008 real estate bubble collapse and what the reasons were, based on John being an insider and as a man in the field, and this was the main reason for his writing Easy Money with Chris, to reveal the real reasons to the public. Chris, for his part, was the president-elect of the Maine Association of Realtors as well as owned several offices and a real estate broker in three states.

Easy Money talks about the true factors behind the 2008 real estate bubble, such as poor government housing policy, the Community Reinvestment Act and the Federal Reserve rate manipulation, among others, as well about the factors that helped cause it which still exist today, such as lax underwriting standards. The “artificiality” of the ease with which individuals can get houses is what is referred to as the "Ponzi" scheme in the title.

John noted that real estate operates in cycles of around eighteen years, and what made the 2008 crisis was that the amplitude was a lot greater than it had been in the past, resulting in a high peak that was beyond what would have been typical and a corresponding deeper trough, while the market is presently on the rise, to peak at 2020. Real estate prices are market-driven and follow the rules of basic supply-and-demand economics, with the increases to the peaks “feeding themselves.” That said, John points out that he talks about the market on a national basis, that the actual position of the market on the cycle can differ from place to place and that even a lot of people in the industry aren’t aware of these cycles.

John and Chris hope to educate homebuyers with the book, and where individuals are concerned, John noted that some people, when they realize they are in mortgage debt to an amount greater than that which their property is worth, no longer pay off their mortgages, which increases the number of defaults. He also noted that, if government figures are believed, real estate appreciation is just 0.3% greater than that of the inflation rate, and that government housing policy is a great driver for the exaggeration of peaks and troughs. John also remarked that, the more money that is put down on a mortgage, the less likely that person is to default, and that he and his fellow brokers are concerned about the 57% allowable debt-to-income ratios of would-be homeowners, the requirement of 3.5% down payment and those with credit scores as low as 580 to apply to buy houses, as individuals with these characteristics are unlikely to be able to afford a house.

To individuals, John advises becoming knowledgeable about real estate and the issues around it. Both John and Chris advise their clients to shoot for a maximum of 80% of what the banks say one can afford, to allow for a cushion if such things as emergencies, such as a reduction in work hours or some sort of immediate repair, come up. John also advises that people don’t “keep up with the Joneses” unless they can well and truly afford it, and in John’s opinion people get something that they can’t really afford because of the present mentality of “everyone deserves a trophy.”

Purchase from Amazon: Easy Money and the American Real Estate Ponzi Scheme: From Your Pocket to Theirs, the Insiders' View of the Great Housing Recession, and How It's Happening Again by John Agostinelli and Chris Michaud

Monday, February 13, 2017

Royston Guest on Building and Growing a Business

Royston Guest talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Built to Grow: How to Deliver Accelerated, Sustained and Profitable Business Growth.

“There are no crowds lining the extra mile.” ~Royston Guest 

Royston left school at the age of sixteen to get into an apprenticeship program that led him to leading a construction project at the age of nineteen, and in addition to all the skills he learned, Royston also got into visioning and planning for the future. He was then involved in several projects in the United States before getting involved in mergers and acquisitions in the United Kingdom, which was where he came from. It was when he received a check for USD 100,000 that he got the idea to use the money to create a consultancy niche business that would enable others to grow their businesses, and it was from there that Pti Worldwide was created. Pti helps grow businesses as well as does people development in the form of leadership training and sales transformation.

Built to Grow uses a model developed by Royston and Pti to grow businesses, and while some research and development is done where developing the model is concerned, the model was also developed through real-world, practical trial and error, which makes the model a very practical one from the standpoint of business building. This thus makes the book a valuable read for business owners as well as those who run businesses, as the model within works in the real world, regardless of business, in addition to being an all-encompassing methodology that covers all of the facets of running a business that will endure. Royston wrote it after being told several times to write a book that would encompass all of the practical ideas and methodologies he and his company created, and after realizing that he and Pti Worldwide could only reach so many people directly, hence the book’s being designed to reach far more people throughout the world.

Royston’s passion is helping businesses grow, and one of the things that enable a business to do that is relevance and how well customers feel they have been treated by the business. Roy then gave an example of a well-known fast food company’s evolution to fulfil the needs of their customers to stay relevant in the market, as well as a well-known toy company’s continued relevance over generations.

Royston notes that the main challenge faced by businesses are their acquisition, maximization, and retention (AMR) strategies, where acquisition refers to getting new customers, maximization refers to making the most of their existing customers and retention refers to minimizing the number of customers who end their relationship with the company - analogous to the front door, the building that the company is in, and the back door, respectively. Royston notes that most companies don’t realize these three parts of customer relationship and don’t create strategies around these, and this is where they run into trouble where expansion is concerned. Roy gave the analogy of a supermarket as an example of a company implementing these strategies where they are concerned.

To those who are somewhat struggling with their business, Royston recommends that they get back to the basics of the why, the compelling reason, behind the creation of their business in the first place, as everything else would fall in from there. Royston also points out that it is the people who go the extra mile, business wise, who drive the global economy, and remarks that it is his honor to help these people succeed.

Royston has a Facebook group, as well as a LinkedIn group, under his name, and in these groups, he gives out a lot of information on the various aspects of running and growing a business, including real-world case studies, to those who sign up for these.

Purchase from Amazon: Built to Grow: How to Deliver Accelerated, Sustained and Profitable Business Growth by Royston Guest

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bill Schutt on the Nature of Cannibalism

Bill Schutt talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History.

“When people hear that I've written books on vampirism and cannibalism, nobody's really very surprised.” ~Bill Schutt

Bill grew up in New York and had always been interested in “animals, movies and the macabre,” and admits that he had every kind of pet imaginable while he was a child. He became a biologist, researching several different species of animals and, in particular, studied the three species of vampire bats. He got his post doctorate degree from the American Museum of Natural History and has been a college professor for some time. He admits that when it comes to his subjects, “the stranger, the better.”

Bill noted that Cannibalism is a follow-up to his earlier book, Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood Feeding Creatures, and just as with Dark Banquet, Cannibalism seeks to demystify and de-sensationalize a topic that a lot of people find at least questionable, covering the totality of animal cannibalism as well as taking an objective viewpoint of human cannibalism. He was surprised to find that cannibalism was widespread and served functions other than purely survival in the animal world, and that cannibalism in human cultures likewise had reasons other than survival.

Bill wrote the book, Cannibalism to be accessible to the average person, injecting humor and making it as entertaining as possible, as most studies on cannibalism are either academic or sensationalized, and notes that the serious study of cannibalism only began in the 1980s.

In the natural world, cannibalism is found in every major animal group, which was different from the scientific “party line” and is more widespread amongst invertebrates than amongst vertebrates. Bill does admit that cannibalism reduces one’s own gene pool and can result in the spread of pathogens that have adapted to take advantage of cannibalism, but notes that there are some advantages that outweigh these concerns. Codfish, for example, eat their own eggs, as there are millions of these, as nourishment, and some fish eggs will actually never hatch (trophic eggs), as they are intended to become food for the newly-hatched hatchlings in the group they were laid in, which would give them a huge survival advantage. Sand tiger sharks produce one young in each of their ovaries which consume the eggs in that ovary as well as their smaller siblings, so that, when they come out, they are already well-nourished, practiced killers - a huge advantage for a predatory species. The females of some species of amphibians, caecilians, have skin that are consumed by their larvae, which thus gives nourishment to their young so they could have a better chance at survival, and male lions, when they take over a pride, kill and eat the cubs left over from the previous male so they could mate with the females, who will come into heat faster, and thus pass on his own genes.

Bill noted that, in Europe, the Greeks were the first to make cannibalism a taboo, but that several human cultures around the world have no such taboos. Despite cannibalism being a taboo in Europe, due to Greek thought, cannibalism was commonplace there, as human body parts were consumed for medicinal reasons. Ritual cannibalism, of which funeral cannibalism is a part of, is more widespread, and Bill notes that, since culture is king, people learn through tradition to practice cannibalism, as well as that, when Westerners first encountered cultures that practiced ritual cannibalism, the members of those cultures were just as horrified to learn that Westerners buried their dead as the members of those cultures “simply” ate their dead. Bill also remarked that a researcher, Dr. Simon Underdown, believes that cannibalism may have helped reduce Neanderthal population due to a disease similar to the Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which, in humans, could be caused by cannibalism, specifically the consumption of human brain material.

Bill has also written fiction, having brought out his first novel, Hell’s Gate, in June, 2016, and a second one, The Himalayan Codex, due out in June, 2017, and both feature his love of history and zoology. He notes that people should not just swallow the sensational aspects of cannibalism, noting, as an example, that polar bears have been cannibalizing their own cubs for thousands of years, rather than doing so only because climate change is impacting their species.

Purchase from Amazon: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

Steven Campbell on Making Your Mind Magnificent to Transform Your Life

Steven Campbell talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Making Your Mind Magnificent.

“While you’re talking to yourself, your brain is believing everything you tell it, without question.” ~Steven Campbell 

Steven started his career working in hospitals for twenty years, which gave him a good background in physiology, which he was taught in. He then got his Master’s degree in Information Systems and then began teaching computer courses. He has had a lifelong fascination with the brain, and over the years, he has taught students how to learn and how to study, including all that he learned about the brain in these courses. It was after he had retired from the academe that he began spreading the word about all that he had learned about learning and the brain, and he wrote the book in response to people asking him to write a book about the subject matter that he was speaking on, which was so powerful that psychologists attend his seminar, despite the fact that Steven doesn’t have a degree in psychology.

Steven noted that we human beings talk to ourselves thousands of times faster than normal verbal conversation, and that our self-talk comes in the form of images and feelings, rather than words. The brain, for its part, accepts without question that which it has been told, which means that, if it is told that it cannot do something, it will do its job and make sure that the person to whom it is a part of cannot do that thing. On the other hand, if the brain has been told that it can do something, it will likewise do its job and make sure that the person to whom it is a part of can do that thing, and will find ways of getting that thing done. Steven notes that the brain doesn’t care if what was told it is true, and refers to Phantoms in the Brain by Sandra Blakeslee and V.S. Ramachandran, which deals, in part, with the phenomenon of people still feeling limbs that have been amputated.

Steven remarked that psychology began with Freudianism, where it was believed that unresolved childhood conflicts were the source of one’s present-day behavior, after which behaviorism was initiated by Dr. B. F. Skinner, who theorized that one behaves the way one does because of cause and effect. This was then followed by theories that behavior is determined by one’s genes, and then by one’s environment (culture and the like). Steven notes that all of this stems from Dr. Albert Ellis’s book, A Guide to Rational Living, which was a cornerstone in cognitive psychology, which theorizes essentially that we are what we say to ourselves, and effectively says that all of the psychological theories previously brought up were all true. This is because everything one does today is primarily based on what one says to himself today, or what one is believing today, rather than due to cultural conditioning or events previously experienced in one’s life, which was a radical idea when it first came out in the 1960s. Dr. Ellis also theorized that how one feels about oneself doesn’t come from one’s past - from how one was raised, for example - but from one’s own beliefs about what has happened to oneself, and that these beliefs can be changed, with the feelings that will follow. This is based on neuroplasticity, which is a term coined by Dr. Eric Kandel in his book, In Search of Memory.

Steven is, himself, a living lesson of the subject of his book, as he told himself for over 40 years, that he was terrible at mathematics, but he was forced to become good at math when he was assigned to become a math teacher. He became so good at it, particularly since he had applied what he knew about how the brain learned, that students began to favor his subject over those taught by other professors, and it was then that he began believing that he was good at math - a message that his brain took in, locked on and then operated accordingly. Steven points out that the brain doesn’t care if what is told it is true or not, and that one can change one’s life by changing what one tells one’s brain, and what one believes in, right now.

Steven notes that the brain, when people sleep, creates the connections amongst all of the things it has learned and recorded throughout the day, organizing and making sense out of all of the things learned. Based on the latest studies, the brain has a hundred billion neurons, each of which are connected to an average of ten thousand neurons. The brain thus has a pattern based on a hundred billion to the ten thousandth power [(100,000,000,000)^(10,000)], which is an enormous number and means that the brain is virtually unlimited in what it can learn. The primary element that thus holds people back from learning is the self-talk that people engage in, and the reason this is only coming up now is because it’s only now that the technology is available where we can see the brain actually operating.

Where physical statistics are concerned, Steven points out that the brain takes up only 2% of a person’s body weight but consumes 20% of a person’s energy, 20% of the air a person takes in, 25% of a person’s blood flow, 30% of the water a person takes in and 40% of the nutrients a person consumes.

In addition to presenting himself as a case study, Steven also mentioned an example of a dyslexic, troubled man who turned his life around after attending one of his seminars and was greatly impacted by the message of his talk. He also mentioned an example of a student who limited herself in math because of her own self-talk. Steven pointed out that one’s old life ended one second ago, and that one’s new life began one second ago.

Steven has a regular radio show on KOWS.FM 107.3, which starts at 9am Pacific time, every Wednesday morning.

Purchase from Amazon: Making Your Mind Magnificent by Steven Campbell

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gary Stone Offers His Blueprint to Wealth

Gary Stone talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Blueprint to Wealth: Financial Freedom in 15 Minutes a Week.

“Spectators that watch from the sidelines never learn. You have to engage and you have to go through the journey, with all the ups and downs that come along with it.” ~Gary Stone

Gary started his career as a mainframe computer operator who became a salesperson, and after earning a lot of money, began figuring out how to best invest his money. He didn’t become a trader or some such, and all the lessons he learned after decades of investing and investigating on how to invest were hard-earned ones where he lost some and won some. He got hooked on technical analysis, which is looking at the price movement of stocks and indices, and in 1995, he started a business which combined his computer and mathematical skills with his interest in investing to provide software solutions to clients. He then immersed himself in mechanical investing, creating a “mechanical” investing system that alerts its user when to buy and sell, based on price movements in the financial markets.

Gary never thought about writing a book whose background theme is the power of compounding, which might be covered in some schools as a subject but which isn’t covered as extensively as it should be. He had a lot of clients over the years who had repeatedly encouraged him to write a book, and it was only after meeting two-time book author, Mark Douglas, that he finally set out to do so. It took Gary twelve years to finally bring out Blueprint to Wealth, along the way, writing another book that he didn’t publish because he wasn’t satisfied with the way that book turned out, since the investment instrument types have matured over those twelve years. Gary remarked that the research and checking the validity of the research took three years alone, and that the way he wrote the book evolved to the one that it presently uses, i.e., as a conversation between Gary and a fictional would-be investor, to be engaging to its reader.

Gary also defined some terms he used in the book:

  • Mutual Fund - a sum of money that is managed by a fund manager, who manages that money on behalf of the parties that provide the monies, dispersing these monies across one or more asset classes, of which stocks (equities), infrastructure, commercial property, private equity and bonds are some types.
  • Stock Exchange Index - a representation of how the overall stock market is performing. It is a composite value of several stocks that are included in that index. Examples of stock exchange indices are the S&P 400 and the Nasdaq 100.
  • Target Date Fund - a new type of mutual fund which is balanced amongst more than one kind of asset classes. The closer the fund is to its target date, the greater the percentage of the monies invested in riskier assets, such as equities, are transferred to less risky assets, such as bonds.
  • Bear Market - a market where the stock market is declining in value.
  • Bull Market - a market where the stock market is increasing in value.

Gary remarks that, as an investor, the long-term horizon is one that is greater than fifteen or twenty years, which is the kind of horizon that people will take decades to retire should consider, while shorter-term horizons, such as those of five to seven years, would be more applicable to someone who are closer to retirement. He does differentiate between the way a trader and an investor would look at horizons, as a trader would consider a seven-year horizon as being a long-term one.

Gary notes that the argument behind “timing the market” is based on the finding that, if the ten best return days are removed from an index within a ten-year period, this will wipe out all of the accumulated returns for that ten-year period. This is the present conventional wisdom, but Gary also looked at what happened if the worst return days were removed from an index within a ten-year period and discovered that an investor would do better than if he stayed in the market all the time. Gary’s findings, when he removed both the ten best and ten worst days from an index, within a ten-year period, are that an investor would do very well when doing so. He noted that the best days occur in close proximity to when the worst days occur, and points out that his definition of “timing the market” is not doing so on a day-by-day basis but on a month-by-month or week-by-week basis, commenting that an investor, using the strategies he described in his book, only needs to change investments two or three times a year, which he calls “near passive, low effort” market timing.

Gary’s method is one where an investor doesn’t need to do value investing, where the investor goes through such documents as profit and loss statements, balance sheets and broker reports, which takes a lot of time, as all an investor needs to do is invest in an index exchange traded fund (ETF), which is effectively an index mutual fund listed on the stock exchange, as doing so invests across the stocks in the index. This has a bit of a safety net, as indexes don’t go to zero and indices are rigged to rise, as if a stock falls out due to a drop in its value it will be replaced, by the index custodians, with a stock that is rising in value.

Gary noted that it takes an average of 4.5 years for the stock market to recover, considering the investment of dividends into the stock market. Gary noted that he has two strategies to cover possible bear market losses, with one being investing in an index rather than in individual stocks, and then moving all of one’s investments into cash, and timing being the other investment strategy. Both of these strategies are described in greater detail in Blueprint to Wealth.

Gary notes that investing is more about psychology and getting the right mindset than anything else, pointing out that a hundred percent success rate will never happen where investing is concerned. Gary remarks that an investor thus needs to learn how to deal with losing money, and that an investor will have more losses than wins, but can have greater returns on his wins than losses. He also remarks that investors need to embrace the volatility of the stock market, as it gives the best returns at lowest cost, and invest in an ETF to build up their retirement funds, as they can cut fees by up to twenty times, compared to if they went into a mutual fund. Gary also remarked that becoming a successful investor enables one to become a better person, due to the needed development of the traits necessary to becoming a successful investor - surrender, empathy, big picture perspective, persistence and resilience.

Gary Stone’s,website is

Purchase from Amazon: Blueprint to Wealth: Financial Freedom in 15 Minutes a Week, by Gary Stone