28 05, 2017

How Having a Specific Request Saved My Business And How Specifics Can Make Your Dreams a Reality


Sunday mornings are special to me because I don’t have to wake early and get the kids off to school. It’s the day I break my routine of going to the gym before work. My Sunday-morning routine is to wake up before everyone else in the household, sit here in my studio in the “model’s” chair, and just think. It’s nice and quiet, and I can look out over the property to enjoy the golden morning light.

A New View

Today it’s different. My view has changed. While I was away at a mastermind group meeting in Greenwich and then in planning meetings in Dayton, my wife had many of our trees cut back. Since we’ve owned this property, we’ve suspected that there was a view behind our trees. Sure enough, three days of trimming and cutting resulted in a beautiful view above the treetops, allowing us to see some distant purple hills. Now I have something new to paint from my studio porch.

When I go to mastermind meetings, I always learn a lot about myself when others in the group work on my business, but also when we work on other businesses. One thing is for sure: Sometimes I cannot clearly see my business because I’m so close to it, but others can see things I’m missing. I cherish these meetings.


I picked up on a theme this week that has had me thinking. That theme is specificity.

When listening to others talk about their goals, their dreams, and the things they are working on in their businesses, most lacked specificity. So many things were presented in broad terms, yet I discovered that the people who seemed to be “crushing it” in their businesses were very specific about their purpose, their dreams, and their goals.

In one of my Art Marketing Boot Camp videos, I speak about the value of being specific in your goals. The more exact you are about your goals, the more you can visualize things very specifically, the more your mind can get around it and hope things will come true.

An Exact Vision

For instance, someone might say, “My goal is to have a new studio.” Though that’s a great dream, a better defined goal is to have a very specific plan for that studio so you know the exact dimensions and design, and you can picture the inside, the decorations, the way things are organized, the view, the place it sits, everything.

Vision Boards

In fact, there is a concept called vision boards, where you cut out pictures of what you want, stick them on a poster board, and put it in a place you look at a lot every day. I once did this with a picture of a Porsche. When I put the board up, I could not afford one, but I looked at it every day on my bathroom mirror, and it eventually came true. I rewarded myself with a used Porsche as a reward for selling my radio stations years ago. The color was the exact color, model, and design as the one on my vision board.

Specificity matters.

A little story about specificity.

A guy named Mike was working for me, and he was telling me about the importance of specificity in prayer.

A Frightening Moment

One day my bookkeeper came in to see me and said, “We’re out of money. We cannot make payroll. We don’t have any money owed to us. We’re in deep trouble.”

Though I was very nervous about the situation I had put myself into, I confidently walked into my office, shut the door, got on my knees, and prayed for the specific amount of money we needed for the payroll by the coming Wednesday. The amount was to the penny, like $18,376.38.

On My Knees

Then I got busy finding ways to stimulate business and get some money in the doors, and a couple of days later, one of my clients phoned me and said, “Would you mind if I prepaid you for next year’s advertising? I’d like to get it on this year’s budget since I have money left in the budget.” I told him it was OK. I had no idea how much money he had in mind, but on Wednesday, when the check arrived, it was $18,376.38. I’m not making this up, and frankly, I was absolutely shocked too.

I don’t tell you this to push anything on you. I say it to make the point that specificity is important in everything you do.

Setting Painting Goals

If you’re setting goals — for instance, you want to sell more paintings in 2018 than you did in 2017 — then you need to go into detail. How many paintings, how many frames, what sizes, what specific amount of money, and of course where they will be sold. You then need to be specific for each week, each month, and sometimes each day. For instance, we should all know the amount of money we should bring in each day or, at least, each week, in order to reach our goals, so that not a day goes by that you are not shooting for that number.

The more specific you get, the more you can be specific in envisioning it. Then you have to look at your goals frequently, preferably daily.

Letting Others in on Your Numbers

Not only is specificity important in your goal-setting, you need to be specific with others. Tell your gallery owner (if you have one) that you have set a goal of selling four 9 x 12-inch landscape paintings by the 20th of each month. Subconsciously, this will help them work toward that goal, especially if you find ways to remind them.

Specifics Also Make Things More Memorable

I once attended a seminar on organization where we were told to set appointments at 7:03, for example, instead of 7:00. It makes it more memorable for both parties, and it sends a signal that you are precise. Typically, airline times are specific and not general. Even 7-Eleven does it.

Your mission for this week, should you decide to do it?

Try specificity and see if it has any impact on your life.

A Quick Side Note

I often talk about repetition in marketing and advertising. Repetition builds trust; it builds awareness. In the world of goal-setting, it builds internal belief. If you say something enough, even if you don’t believe it in the beginning, things will start to unfold on your behalf, and before long you’ll start believing it. Then later, it gets so cemented that things start happening to make it come true.

Don’t Drift

We usually don’t just get in our cars and go when we’re taking a trip; we look at a map or we program the trip into a GPS. If you’re a ship at sea, you don’t just go out and drift — you’ll eventually drift someplace you did not intend to go, or you’ll drift right into the rocks. A ship needs navigation, and it needs to be taking action toward a specific point on the map. In other words, the ship needs sails capturing the wind or the engine running and pushing toward that location. So once your dreams are translated into specific goals, specific dates, you can’t just drift along. Your engine needs to be running and you need to be pushing yourself with action.

I wish you a great week. There has never been a greater time to be alive because so much more is possible than ever before.

I am grateful for you and for your time. Sometimes I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, because I’m doing what I love with people I really enjoy. Thank you for making that possible. Of course, I welcome your comments.

How Having a Specific Request Saved My Business And How Specifics Can Make Your Dreams a Reality2017-11-17T15:51:22-05:00
21 05, 2017

The Magic of Showing Up


As I was driving to the airport and rushing to catch a plane, my father sent me a text that said, “I’m going to come to your Plein Air Convention. I want to see what you do.”

I was blown away.

My dad was going to take his time and money to get on a plane and fly across the U.S., in order to be supportive of his son.

“That’s a great example of a great dad,” I said to my own son, who was riding in the back as Laurie drove me to the airport.

I texted back to find out if he needed a hotel room at the convention, and he replied that he had one at another hotel. I wasn’t sure when he was coming, but he asked when he should be there, and I suggested the opening of the convention and the next morning for Art Marketing Boot Camp.

That was the last I heard.

Midnight and a Sudden Text

Then, after arriving at my room at midnight the day before the convention started, I plugged my phone into the charger and noticed a text from my dad saying, “They don’t have my room.”

I assumed this meant he was in San Diego already, so just as I was about to call him back, my hotel phone rang. “Mr. Rhoads, there is a man here claiming to be your father, and he wants a key to your room.”

I ran down to the lobby and connected with my dad. Thankfully I had the presidential suite at the hotel because we were holding a VIP party for the six- and five-year attendees and faculty. So I requested a rollaway bed, offered him my king-size bed (which he refused), and we got him settled in.

Fast-Forward to the Future Me

Dad attended the opening and Art Marketing Boot Camp and wandered around the convention meeting friends and clients. In fact, I found him at a table at the bar with about six friends around him. One friend, Kathy Anderson, said, “This is eerie. I’m seeing you in 30 years.”

This experience has had me thinking about what a great dad and mom I have and how blessed I am to still have both of my parents.

It’s also made me question my own abilities as a father. What could I be doing that would be showing my kids that I support their interests? As a result, I’m trying harder to be more tuned in to what is important to them.

Raising kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, yet the most gratifying. Laurie and I have triplets (two boys and one girl) who are age 15.

Childhood Lessons

While thinking about how to be more deliberate and make sure I impart good information and wisdom to them, I draw on my childhood, and the lessons I observed from my parents and other mentors.

For instance, I think I got my work ethic from my dad, because he worked a lot. He once said that if you’re going to do something, you should be the best in the world at it. My mom imparted my creativity by encouraging me to paint and pushing me to try new things.

As kids, we had to work part of our summers at my dad’s company. That’s where I first started learning about marketing. “Always use full color, never black and white,” he would say. “You want to show your quality.”

My brothers worked in his factory and warehouse because they were a little older. I had to collate catalogues, test and try to break equipment, collate and assemble catalogue sheets, and I even learned to run a printing press. Summer after summer, we worked at the business, mowed other people’s lawns for income, washed cars, and did what we could to get some spending money or save for cars of our own.

Of course, we did not always love working at the time, but we got used to it, and we even got paid a little for it. Better still, we got the satisfaction of putting in a hard day and the sense of accomplishment that made us want to work more.

Working Trade Shows

Dad also used to make us work at trade shows. He would get permission for me to skip school, and I’d put on a suit and work his booth at McCormick Place in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association show. I had to shake hands, introduce myself, and show people how to use his restaurant equipment. I hated it at first, but over time grew to love interacting with people.

And he always made us put on suits and sit in on important business meetings, and in the meetings he would ask us what we thought, including us in important discussions, making us feel valued.

Though I’m not taking my kids out of school to work my events, you’ll see them at my Adirondack painters’ camp this coming June. They have worked registration since they were about 6, and today they have it down so well that I don’t need to lift a finger. They too griped about it in the beginning but now look forward to it.

Friend, Encourager, Challenger

The point of all this is that there is a delicate balance between being a friend, being an encourager, being a supporter, and challenging them and helping them develop a work ethic.

It’s really not just about kids, it’s about life.

Parenting, like life, is about challenging, helping people to find things within themselves that they don’t know are there, being supportive and encouraging, but pushing them to do things they won’t do on their own. Parenting, like life, is about showing up.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been born to the parents I was given. Others have also been lucky, and some not so lucky. And though we get so much of our personality and ethic from our folks and other influential people like grandparents and friends, we can always find mentors we can emulate. I’ve had incredible mentors in business, in art and painting, and in marketing, who have given me examples of how to live an enriched life. Some mentors are close, others we see from afar through things like biographies.

The Never-Ending Task

The lesson this week for me is that parenting never stops. I received a lot of much-needed encouragement and support, and even though I’m well into my career and no longer a child or even a young adult, it felt good to be acknowledged and appreciated by my dad. I also received a note of encouragement from my mom, who saw the success on Facebook.

You may or may not have kids, but if you do, even if they are older, they still need you to show up and support and encourage them. They may not say they need it, but it sure feels good.

Your mission for this week?

Gratitude. Stop and think about what you have, or had, and be grateful for it. Even if it was not perfect, others do the best they know how to do.

Encouragement of others is a gift that not only explodes their self-confidence, it feels good to watch people light up. Encourage those around you.

My mission is to sit down and make a list of the things I still need to impart to my kids before they go off to college, and spend this summer working on those messages.

Have a great week. Thanks for sharing coffee with me this morning.

The Magic of Showing Up2017-11-17T15:53:20-05:00
14 05, 2017

Are You Killing Yourself Unknowingly?


I feel like one of the luckiest men alive.

I knew and spent time with my grandparents as an adult and had all four for many years into adulthood. Three out of four lived into their mid-90s, which is a strong indicator of good genes.

I’m also blessed to have both of my parents, and they remain active, mentally alert, and very engaged. In fact, my dad flew out to the Plein Air Convention by himself and hung out with us for a couple of days before he went on a photo expedition. He wanted to see what his kid does for a living and be supportive. I’ve got a great dad and mom who support me.

Of course I tell my triplets, age 15, that I fully intend to be in their lives for many decades to come because I want to know their great-grandchildren…

Which brings me to something I spoke about on stage at the Plein Air Convention. It’s about aging.

Time Is Running Out…

I often tell the story of a relative who in his late 50s started talking about how he was “getting old” and needed to start the process of planning, because he would not be around long.

Perhaps he was half-joking, but I remember telling my wife, “He’s right. If he keeps talking about getting old, he won’t last long.”

As it turned out, he passed away soon after.

You see, our subconscious mind has triggers; they trigger our bodies to react to what we’re telling the brain. Our body is getting one of two signals: the signal to live or the signal to die.

The body takes those signals and produces what it needs to live, or to begin the process of deterioration. There are “signals” that impact life … our thinking, our level of exercise, our diets, our social lives, and our mental engagement.

I don’t even like to utter or type the words “I’m getting old” because I’m very protective about not putting this thought into my head to trigger negative action in my subconscious mind. If I do, it’s only as an example, and then I make a conscious effort to tell myself, “That’s unlike me to think that way.”

Though you and I don’t know when our end will come, I think it’s important to manage our thoughts and feed the right triggers, so that no matter our chronological age, we don’t trigger ourselves into a dying mode.

You Have to Train Your Brain

Instead of saying those words when I have a cranky back or a pain, I don’t utter anything age-related. Instead, I simply tell myself, “I need to fix the problem.” I then work very hard at not accepting physical limitations. After all, they may be age-related, but are usually caused by the lack of something else, usually proper diet or proper exercise.

Two years ago I popped a disc in my back when doing a stretch at the gym. It was painful, and it slowed me down. I refused surgery and kept going to professionals until I found some who told me there were other ways to address the issue. As a result, I went through a lot of chiropractic, rolfing, acupuncture, a little yoga, and even some new forms of deep tissue work, along with stretches and exercises to build scar tissue.

The problem is 100 percent solved, the disc is back in place, and the back is stable. Had I accepted the diagnosis of surgery first, or one doctor telling me, “It’s just part of getting old, you’ll need to learn to live with it,” I would not be where I am today.

There I go, talking about my health…

Have you noticed that often this is the topic when older people gather? My dad said, “I need to find younger friends, because the older ones only want to talk about their health.”

You Become What You Think About

What you talk about, what you spend your time on, is what feeds your mind. I try to avoid talking about my health, and I try to change the subject when friends start sharing their aches.

Frequently I scold people for using “getting old” kinds of phrases. The other day I scolded a nationally known speaker who teaches positive thinking. He did not even realize he was doing it.

In Art Marketing Boot Camp at the recent Plein Air Convention, I did a segment on building “the ultimate retirement” business as an artist because I hear from so many people who want to ramp up their art careers fast after they retire from their lifelong career. Many ask if there is time.

My answer is that you should assume you have unlimited amounts of time. The key is being engaged mentally, socially, and physically. Don’t place limits on yourself about how much time you have left. Assume you have a lot, because you can hold a paintbrush till your last breath.

Five Will Get You Fifty

Five years ago I read an article that said if you can live just 10 more years, there is a strong chance you could live 50 more years. The reality is that technology is rapidly changing. In fact, some billionaires are working on 3D-printing human tissue into new hearts and say they will eventually be able to 3D-print a full human body with perfect health.

They also say they have transferred a brain from one mouse to another, so a mouse who has learned a maze can have that information moved to the other mouse — without surgery. What they are saying is, if they can combine brain-transfer tech with 3D body printing, you could, in theory, live as long as you want to. Perhaps you’ll find it controversial, but I think it just might help me know my great-great-great-grandchildren and play volleyball with them.

I’m Not Insensitive

Look, I know there are true and real issues, like illness and injuries, that many of you face. I was approached by a woman at the convention who was living through horrific chemo treatments and was not yet out of the woods. I don’t in any way mean to make light of the situations you or your family or friends may be going through.

But I also don’t entirely trust traditional MDs. I’ve read about a lot of new technology in use today for various issues that my own doctor is not even aware of. Though there is a lot of untrue stuff selling hope on the Internet, there is also a chance to research and find legit solutions. New things take time to be adopted, and many MDs want to be cautious and make sure the science supports it.

Boundless Energy

People ask me where my energy comes from, because I tend to walk fast, get up early and stay up late, and manage to crush through a lot of work and some very long convention or painting event days at things like my Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks or Fall Color Week or my Russian Art Tour.

Frankly, I used to fall asleep in my chair after dinner every night and I lacked energy. Switching to a vegan diet, eliminating all grains from my life, and juicing greens every morning have a lot to do with my energy. I also see a nutritionist every year to adjust my supplements. Oh, I still see my MD, and I make sure I get my key vitals and heart checked frequently. Plus I’m at the gym an hour every weekday, doing weights and cardio. But I don’t want you to think for a second that I’m pushing this on you. Everyone has to find what works for them.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I may be proven wrong in all of this, but at least I’m fooling myself into thinking I can play a role in extending my life. After all, there is much to be done, and I’ll need a lot of time to do everything I want to do.

Many of you reading this are of an age where you need to reconsider your thought patterns and the behavior that supports your energy level and health. Chances are a lot of things your MD says cannot be reversed can be reversed.

Others are a long way from it, but it’s best to understand it now so that you’ll be ready when you do face it.

Hello … You’re Dead

I’m big on watching what I put into my mind. My friend Kaye and I were on the phone one day and she was telling me about caring for a friend of ours who is dying of cancer. She said, “I’m not sure how much longer I can take this. I work a full day in my company and then I work hours on his care. This is killing me. “

I stopped her and said, “Kaye, for your own benefit, please don’t use the words, ‘This is killing me.’ Your subconscious will pick up on that.’

She then scolded me for telling her about this positive-thinking BS.

Kaye died the next day.

Do not feed your mind things that trigger dying. Feed your mind to trigger life … long, healthy life.

It may sound like positive-thinking BS, but there is a lot of recent evidence to support it.

Most importantly, ask yourself what you believe and what you’re telling yourself and if it’s supporting what you need to get done before your time comes.

A friend of mine asks himself every year, “What am I doing that is not supporting my ability to live a strong, healthy, long life?” Whatever he comes up with, he quits.

He quit smoking.
He quit eating meat.
He quit eating dairy.
He quit sitting around and started taking walks.
He quit gluten.

Forgive me if I’m preaching. I only want the best for you.

Your mission for this week?

  • Maybe ask yourself what you’re doing that does not support your longevity.
  • Catch yourself. Every time you make an OPR (Old Person’s Reference), set off a mental buzzer and say, “That’s unlike me to think that.” And please stop uttering words like, “I’m getting old,” or “I’m old.” Old is a relative term, and with the new technology today, you might not even be halfway there.
  • Be careful about other mind-altering words, like, “I can’t take this anymore. This is killing me.”

Have a great week. Thanks for sharing coffee with me this morning.

Are You Killing Yourself Unknowingly?2017-11-17T15:56:53-05:00
5 05, 2017

Four Words to Live By


This morning as I sit here on the back porch, I’m watching a mama sparrow bringing food to her babies in a nest tucked into the rafters of our porch. The little birds are learning to fly. I’m watching them hop from the nest to the blades of our ceiling fan and then on to the branches of the stately oaks in the back yard. As they jump, they first fall before they engage their wings, which then propel them to the next branch. If they forget to use their wings, which they do from time to time, they hit the ground, then shake it off, hop to a branch, and start over. Birds learn like we all learn. Trial and error.

Young Sparrows Floundering

Watching these young sparrows, I think back to my own jumping from the nest, forgetting to use my wings, and crashing to the ground. My mistakes were often catastrophic, and there were times when I didn’t think I could get up again and shake it off. Yet, once the feeling of being stunned by failure faded, I found new energy somewhere deep inside and got the guts to try flying once again.

Decades to Learn Important Lessons

Unlike sparrows, we humans often take decades to learn important lessons. For me, it took that long to learn the most important principle of business and life, which completely changed how I do everything. It involves four little words, which, if sought out, will transform you.

What if I told you that four words could make a difference in your life, your career, and how you approach the ways you offer your product or service? What if I told you that it’s something you’ve probably heard, but ignored?

Looking back, I’d also heard this. It seemed too easy, and it never really gelled for decades. But since I started doing it, I’ve seen my life completely changed.

A Rude Awakening

It started exactly five years ago, when my radio magazine, Radio Ink, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It was bittersweet. I loved that we had survived 20 years, but looking back, I had not achieved what I had wanted to achieve. I had not hit my goals. I felt as though I had only gotten one year of experience — 20 times.

I was faced with a decision. Keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing and risk the next 20 years being equally unproductive, or make some changes in my life and my approach.
The easy thing would have been to remain comfortable and not mess with the status quo. But I knew in my heart that something had to change. I was not someone who wanted to “coast.”

Misplaced Arrogance

My wife suggested I attend a Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership course she had heard about on the radio. My first reaction: “What can they teach me? After all, I’ve been a CEO for more than two decades.” Then I realized how arrogant that statement was. So I attended.

At the event I learned a lot of new things, and I was reminded of some core principles I had forgotten.

A Spirit of Generosity

But the most important thing I took home was when Dave Ramsey said, “Operate your business with a spirit of generosity. Don’t be the kind of business that only takes. Instead, find out how generous you can be, and live it with everything you do.”

When I made this switch in my head and communicated it to my team, everything started to change.

Additionally, over the last five years I’ve attended probably a dozen or more training events, and I’ve joined two different mastermind groups with other business owners where we share information. The common theme among them all? Everything you do should be about changing the world and making people’s lives better.

Changing Lives

So we started making everything we do about changing lives and making lives better. It gave us a much bigger mission and something we could all get excited about.

We also picked a charity and started giving a part of our profits to that charity every year, which helped us have a common purpose beyond what we were doing for our readers, advertisers, and clients. I’m not one who wants to flaunt charitable giving to enhance our corporate image, but I will say that our giving has helped a lot of people less fortunate than ourselves.

Our entire focus has been on giving generously.

Recently, at the Plein Air Convention in San Diego, I encountered hundreds of people who told us that we’ve changed their lives because of the things we’ve done to help people discover painting, help them learn to be better painters, and help them market their paintings.

When you hear the words “You’ve changed my life,” you know your mission is on the right road.

Those are the four words to live by … and live for.

Living to Hear “You Changed My Life”

I live to hear those words, and I strive to make everything I do change lives, whether it’s education through our magazines, or opportunity through our painting retreats, or helping people discover painting and refine their skills through our videos or conventions.

If everything you do can impact others in a positive way and they tell you, “You’ve changed my life,” you’ve done more than create a business or an enterprise or an ideal life. You’ve had an impact that can be lasting.

The principle works. When you put the needs of others first, and you generously live to serve others, you will hear these golden words that are a sign that you’re on the right path.

Thanks for sharing coffee with me this morning. Your mission for this week? Stop and think about what you do that can change lives. Stop and think about the feedback you’ve received and the moments people have said, “You changed my life.”

Healing Paintings

My friend Charles H. White once told me of a woman who bought a painting of his to look at all day from bed while she was dealing with chemo treatments. She told him that his painting got her through it, gave her hope, and helped her see a better tomorrow.

Your paintings, too, can change lives, whether brightening a day or transporting the viewer to a special place or memory. Or you can teach others to do it. After all, learning to paint reduces stress and allows us to forget the rough spots in our lives for the hours we’re at the easel.

I hope you have a great Sunday and a fabulous week. Remember to try making everything about others this week.

Four Words to Live By2017-11-21T10:10:50-05:00