Tip of the Day

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

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I don’t know of one person that ever had the life-long dream of growing up to be a waiter or waitress.  Do you?  We all dream about being super-heroes, policemen, firemen, warriors, a prince, or a princess.

My point in mentioning this is that everyone would do themselves a favor if just once in their life they waited on tables and see what a waiter and waitress have to put up with.  I remember my first job as a waiter.  I had mostly decent customers, but there were always that handful of people who would speak to me and treat me like I was beneath them.

Some things are simply out of the control of a waiter or waitress.  If the cook is not on his toes, everything goes wrong.  The food comes out cold, late, or wrong.  The waiter is the one that gets the blame!

I remember waiting on a table of 20 ladies one time.  Their bill came to several hundred dollars, and the tip came to about 5%, despite great food and great service!  This was before they had mandatory tips for groups like they do these days.  I actually asked one of the ladies still there, “Was there something wrong with the food or service?”  She looked puzzled and said, “No.  Why do you ask?”  “Because your tip indicated the food or service was less than satisfactory.”  She was embarrassed and tipped me some extra to make up for the shortfall. Part of me was mad that I had to ask, and part of me was embarrassed that I had to ask.  Everyone felt uncomfortable…and it all could have been avoided had they just treated me with a little respect and show appreciation for the service rendered, and in this case, it was excellent.

I also learned a valuable lesson in how to handle someone who gives less than excellent service.  It was at the same restaurant, and I had several tables that were very busy.  We were practically running to get the food and drinks out on time.  This one particular table just went wrong.  The drinks got mixed up and I had to get them remade.  The food came out wrong, and I had to send it back to get it remade.  I apologized to the man and his family repeatedly, but I knew I was not going to get any tip.  When it came time to pay the bill, the man gave me a tip that was extremely generous….like 50% of the bill.  He just smiled at me and said, “Keep it.” Honestly, I was pretty macho back then but I felt like crying.  He blessed me when I did not deserve it.  I wish I knew who he was now, because that simple act of kindness and generosity has helped to make me the generous giver that I am today.  A valuable life lesson: Don’t give people what they deserve. Give them grace.

Blessing people unexpectedly is a lot of fun, by the way.  Waiters and waitresses are really no different from anyone else.  They have dreams…desires…and aspirations. They have rent, cars, and just general bills to pay. Some of their dreams will be realized, and some will not.  This is true for all of us.  My point is, next time you have a waiter or waitress wait on you, don’t be stingy.  Don’t treat them like they are sub-human.  Don’t snap your fingers at them.  And don’t tip them according to the quality of the food or service.  Tip them extravagantly especially if everything went wrong….then watch to see what that does for them….and for you!


Dan Skognes

Ask Don’t Tell

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

Ask Dont Tell dan skognes insurance investments finance motiavaion blogger speaker entrepreneur


You have heard of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, right?  Well, we are not going there today, so relax.  We are changing this topic to Ask, Don’t Tell.

This is a true story.  There was a humanitarian group that went from Europe to Africa to help a very poor village.  There was a lush green valley right next to a river in this village, yet they had not planted anything.  Ernesto Sirolli, who was leading the group, was dumbfounded.  He told the chief of the village that they were going to teach this tribe how to grow tomatoes and zucchini not only for their own consumption, but so they could sell it and help the economy of the village.

They brought seeds from Italy of the finest tomatoes and zucchini.  When they asked the tribesmen to help plant the seeds, they got resistance.  Nobody wanted to work!  What were they going to do?  Well, they decided that they would PAY them to help plant the seeds.  Oddly enough, only a few stepped up even then to help.  But, determined that they were going to do this for the village, they got it done.  The seeds were planted and because the land was so fertile, it grew very quickly.  The tomatoes and zucchini looked like they were on steroids they were so big, all because of the rich soil!

Ernesto and his team were so proud of what they had done!  Then one morning, before the crop had been harvested, Ernesto woke up to a horrible sight.  The entire crop had been wiped out!  You can almost see him with that Home Alone look on his face (hopefully you are not too young to remember that movie). He asked the tribe chief what happened, and he said in a matter of fact manner, “200 hippos came out of the river and ate the crop and stomped and pooped on the rest of it.  That is why we don’t plant anything there.”

Ernesto was beside himself, “WHY did you not TELL us that?!!!”

The Chief simply said, “You did not ask.”

Talk about a hard lesson to learn.  Wow.  You might be shaking your head right now and thinking, “What a knucklehead.”  But look in the mirror.  Are you seriously telling me you have never done anything like this?  Maybe not on this grand scale, but how about when you make a presentation to someone?  Are you so busy telling them how great your product or service is that you have no idea what they really need?

Instead of telling and selling, we need to be sharing and caring.  We need to shut up and listen.  We need to ask good questions about who they are, what issues they face, what things they fear.  What do they need from their perspective? We need to share THEIR vision, look through THEIR eyes, then empathize!

Once we know them and truly show we care about them, we can serve them. Serving their need is not selling them.  If you are have to convince them to buy, you missed the mark.  If the Hippos ate your crop, you missed the mark.

There was a game when I was growing up called Hungry Hungry Hippos.  (Kids these days have no appreciation for the toys WE had when we grew up…we have come a long long way with toys, Kids).  It was a silly game really, and all about greed.  Don’t be one of the Hungry Hungry Hippos either.


Dan Skognes

The Bear and the Bull

Posted in Business, Motivational

Bull and bear , symbolic beasts of market trend


If you are familiar at all with Wall Street, you know the terms Bear Market and Bull Market.  Merrill Lynch has an iconic logo that is the picture of a powerful Bull.  The Bull represents a healthy robust market.  The Bear represents just the opposite.  The difference between the two is that one of them will eat you.

We all have bears that we face in our lives, and most of them are financial. I was sharing with my wife the other day that I was considering a work project that would be almost overwhelming for a short period of time, but if it worked, the payoff would be huge.  She laughed and quoted her Grandmother, “Anyone can fight a bear for a little while.”

I laughed and thought, “That is true!”  However, if you don’t have a plan, if you don’t have the resources, the fight is not going to end well.  Most of us that have had financial bears to fight can look back and wish we had done a few things differently.  Of course, that does not change anything.  The truth is we will ALL have to fight the bear from time to time.  That is just part of life.

So how can we prepare for the bear?

  • When things are going well, set aside funds for the lean times.  The rule of thumb used to be to have 3 months emergency fund set aside.  Now with the economy the way it is, it is not unreasonable to have 8 to 12 months income set aside for emergency use.  There is a story in the Bible where Daniel advised the King of Egypt to set aside enough grain to last 7 years of drought.  That is a lot of grain, folks.  Because the King listened to Daniel, Egypt survived what would certainly have been the end of their country had they not done what Daniel said to do.
  • It is pretty hard to fight a bear bare-handed.  If you were fighting a real bear, would you rather have a butter knife or an elephant gun?  The latter might be overkill, but it would be a pretty easy choice to make. Right?  So if you have a financial bear, get the resources to survive the attack.  Get help if need be from a trusted mentor that has been down that road and not just survived, but thrived.  There is a famous quote from the movie The Untouchables (one of my favorite all time movies).  Sean Connery was a crusty old cop that was facing a thug in the alley that had come to kill him.  He said to the thug who faced him with a knife, “Just like a wop to bring a knife to a gun fight.” What he did not realize was that the thug had an accomplice who was armed with a Tommy-gun.  It did not end well for Sean Connery.  The bear ate him! Never underestimate the bear!
  • If you find yourself fighting the same bear over and over, it is time to find a way to kill that bear or at the very least get to a place where you don’t have to face him again.

I heard a sad story this week from a guy who had been very successful and was in his 60’s now.  He was a custom home builder and got himself upside down when the economy tanked and he is bankrupt, over 60, and does not know what to do to survive.  He is trying to figure out what he can do to make it through the days ahead, but finding a “job” for someone over 50 is difficult to say the least.  I think that is how so many people over 50 end up working as entrepreneurs because nobody will hire them.  That is a sad reality of this country.  Having age and experience goes against you as you get older.  You are looked at as a liability.  The companies would rather hire 2 or 3 30 year olds than have one 50 or 60 year old person doing the job.  Other countries revere the elderly and seek to gain from the wisdom they impart.  Not so much here in the good old USA.

If you are over 50, you better prepare for the bear, because your day is coming.   There will be a day when you are surprised by the bear that is attacking you.  Prepare for the bear.  You CAN survive if you have the right resources and support in advance.  You CAN thrive if you are prepared (just like Daniel in the Bible did with the Egyptians).

By the way, there are two reasons why they don’t run with the bears in Spain.  First, there are probably not enough bears.  Secondly, the bears would be thinking they were at a buffet.  Don’t let the bear catch you unaware. Shalom!

Dan Skognes

Telemedicine Is Changing The Face Of Healthcare

Posted in Business

StehoscopeHas this scenario ever happened to you or to your family?  It is the middle of the night or on a weekend, and you or one of your family is very sick.  What do you do?  Wait for the pain to subside? Try the home remedies?  Look online for possible causes?  Jump into the car and go to an ER?  I have had that happen. I have had to do all of the above.

How about this scenario? You have a problem that is not an emergency, but would like to get a Doctor’s appointment?  You find out he is available 3  weeks from now…or 3 months from now.  I have had that happen.  That did NOT make me a happy camper.

How about this scenario?  You show up on time (even a few minutes early) for a Doctor appointment and you are left in the waiting room, or worse…left in the exam room (to give you hope that they are coming, I suppose), and you wait…and wait…and wait.  30 minutes passes.  I actually waited for one Doctor for 45 minutes one time in the exam room!  I told the nurse 3 times I had to go.  So, I finally left and I never went back. He lost me as a client because of the lack of professional courtesy.

Telemedicine to the rescue.  How would you like access to a board certified US Doctor 24/7, 365 days a year?  How would you like to actually speak to a Doctor within 2 minutes of calling?  How would you like to cover yourself and your family for only $19.95 a month?  70% of the reasons we go to the Doctor can be handled with this service.  No more waiting for the Doctor’s office to open.  No more waiting for the Doctor to clear his/her schedule to meet with you over something that is minor.  Save the office charges and the wasted time. And, they can even do prescriptions for you!

This is truly a God-send in the era of Obamacare.  Every business I know needs this, and every family I know needs this…and the good news is that everyone can afford it! If you would like to learn more about the coverage that it entails, go to http://www.getcadrplus.com/TheSkognesGroup

Also, if you are interested in representing this product, let me know.  I will be happy to share the information with you.


Dan Skognes

The Secret of Living

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships, Spiritual

The Secret of Living dan skognes insurance investments finance motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur


In this world all people can be divided into two groups.  Democrats or Republicans.  Just kidding!  They are either givers or takers.    Hmmm..maybe they ARE Democrats OR Republicans.  OK, OK, sorry.  No more political jokes. No offense to either party, seriously. Besides, there are more than two parties, right?

The secret to living is summed up in one word…giving.  If you want to experience life to the fullest, try this:

  • Give of yourself to God.  Serve Him first and foremost.
  • Give of yourself to others.  Serve them unselfishly.
  • Give of your time to your family and friends.  There is nothing more valuable to them.
  • Give of your finances to help those less fortunate.  There is always someone less fortunate than you.  God has a way of putting them in your path.
  • Give to others expecting nothing in return.
  • Give of your talents that God has gifted you with.  Everyone has a talent to do something.  Find it and use it.
  • Give the best you have to your work.  Don’t be a slacker.

I was speaking with a good friend of mine this week, and I asked him if he was content in all circumstances.  This man, by the way, is one of the most joyous people I know.  He said, “Yes, I am now.  I was not always that way, but I have learned to be content.”

Did you get that?  He LEARNED to be content.  That is great news for everyone.  It is a learned behavior.  We can learn to be content when we have abundance, and we can learn to be content when we have little.  I know that is a challenge on the second half of that statement.

Being content is sure a lot easier when everything is going your way.  When you feel good, look good, and got money to burn, life is a highway and you are on cruise control.  But when life throws you a flat tire or a wreck, what do you do?  When the finances go south, when your health takes a turn for the worse, when your relationship with someone you love goes sideways, what do you do?

The secret of living is giving.  If your finances are in disorder, sow financially into someone less fortunate.  If your health has taken a hit, sow into someone whose health is worse than yours.  If a relationship has taken a detour, sow into your relationships (all of them) unselfishly.

Give…and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The principle is simple.  Don’t give to get, you get to give.

P.S.  There is a difference between being a taker and being a receiver.  A taker is selfish, self-centered, and expects to be given to.  A receiver is a giver and humbled that they are being given to.  A receiver will pay it forward because that is who they are…they are a giver at heart.


Dan Skognes

Need A Hearing Aid?

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Need A Hearing Aid dan skognes insurance investments finance motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x120)


Do you think you are a good listener? What?  “You talkin’ to me?” (Robert Di Nero…young people Google it.  It is a famous movie line. LOL).  How about I PROVE to you that you are NOT as good a listener as you think you are?  How many times have you watched certain commercials and then thought, “What was that commercial about?  I like the music, but I don’t know what it was about.”  Or your spouse says, “I’ve told you about this several times, you forgot?”  You did not listen! There is a big difference between needing a hearing aid and needing a listening aid.  What we all REALLY need is a listening aid.  We hear, but we don’t listen.

We need to pay attention to the world around us.  We are programmed from a very early age to tune out distractions.  Unfortunately, that causes arguments, divorces, lawsuits, even wars.  What if we sought to change the world by listening?  Is that even possible? We CAN change the world by changing OUR world.

What if…

  • We sought to understand first, then to be understood?  That would require not just hearing…but listening intentionally with humility and love.
  • We actually checked what we heard to make sure that the message we received was what was intended? Don’t assume you know what they meant.  You know what they say about assuming. It makes an ass of you and me.
  • We listened without forming a comeback before the sentence was even finished?  We all know people that have to have the last word and won’t let you finish a sentence without butting in to make sure you heard them!  Hopefully, this is not you.  If it is YOU, for the sake and sanity of all those around you, stop it!

I am not suggesting that you intently watch and listen to every commercial you see on TV or hear on the radio, although I am sure the advertisers would be oh so grateful.  I AM suggesting that you intentionally listen to those people in your sphere of influence.  Listen to your spouse, your children, your friends, your customers, the people that you interact with every day.  Truly listen to them. Look them in the eye when they are talking to you. God gave you two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately.

Two others that you need to consider listening to:

  • Yourself.  Trust that gut-check you get when you hear something that is not quite right.  At the very least, double check what you heard to make sure that what you heard was the intended message.
  • God.  He is speaking to us, but we are so busy complaining or giving him our wish list, we don’t hear Him.  Take time to just be still, and listen. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you actually hear.


Dan Skognes

Eye Of The Storm

Posted in Motivational, Spiritual

Eye of the Storm dan skognes insurance investments finance motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x240)


I had big plans for the weekend, and then a big ice storm hit and all my plans went out the window.  Funny how God uses the weather to get our attention.  I think God gets our attention with not just the weather, but also with our health, our finances, and our relationships.  If you are going through a storm right now, you know firsthand how devastating they can be.  Some are even life-threatening.

If you have ever seen a hurricane (even on TV), you have probably heard them talk about the eye of the storm.  A strange phenomenon occurs at the very center of the storm.  There is a stillness and perfect calm with all hell breaking loose around it.

There is a peace that passes understanding.  That is the very essence of the word Shalom.  It is having complete peace when all hell is breaking loose around you.  It is having the clarity of heart and mind to act, not re-act.  It is having the self-control to stay the course, not lose hope, and keep the faith. It is being at peace whether things are going your way or whether they are coming apart.

That is easier said than done, right?  Easy for me to say that to YOU, right?  Well, I have had more than my share of storms.  In fact, I should have been a storm chaser or at least a weatherman because I have found myself in storm after storm.  Sometimes it has been because of poor choices I have made, and sometimes it has been just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You have probably heard about people talking about “Getting to the heart of the matter.”  That is because the heart is generally recognized as being more than just a muscle. It is our core.  If your heart is filled with Shalom, then the storms that come against you can be endured.  It is like knowing that the waves may be coming over the bow of your boat, but Jesus is onboard with you.  He may be sleeping (after all…He IS Shalom).  But think about it, if you KNEW that you were not alone, if you KNEW that God Himself was with you, would that not give you some clarity?  Would that not give you hope?  Of course it would.

The problem we all have is staying focused and faithful in the storm.  It is so easy to get despondent, particularly when we are sick, or tired, or the problem has been going on for years.  Let me give you something to hold on to.  God is our anchor in the storm.  He is not going anywhere.  He is there with you.  He is the lighthouse showing you the way, and even better than that, He is in the boat with you.  You are never alone.  You are never beyond His grasp.

Trust Him when the winds are howling, the boat is about to capsize, and all seems lost. With a word, He can calm the storm.  Seek Him.  Ask Him.  Trust Him.  Follow Him. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God as my co-pilot.  I want Him in control.  It may be time for us to give Him the controls and trust His lead.

P.S.  Have you noticed how often the weatherman is wrong?  Despite all their Doppler Radar technology they still get it wrong much of the time.  Who are you going to trust in the storm?  The weatherman, a friend, a relative, some “expert,” yourself, or God?  No offense to the weatherman or anyone else…just saying.  Only one in that list has a perfect record.


Dan Skognes

Life Is Beautiful

Posted in Business, Motivational, Spiritual

Life Is Beautiful dan skognes insurance investments finance motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x213)

Perhaps you remember this movie.  It was a truly wonderful movie about life, family, love, and enduring great trials.  It won 3 Academy Awards in 1997 including Best Actor for Roberto Benigni.  If you have not seen the movie, I highly recommend watching it. It is truly inspiring.

One thing jumped out at me as I thought about not just this movie, but life itself.  Life is beautiful indeed, but it isn’t always fair.  It rains on the just and the unjust alike.  I recall a proverb in the Bible about some guys that went out and worked hard all day.  Another guy came along late in the day and only worked a short time, but got equal pay.  The guys who had been working hard all day thought, “What is up with that?!”  They complained, but the Master basically said, and I paraphrase, “That is none of your business.  Whatever I choose to pay him I will pay.  I paid you what I promised.”

Life throws us curveballs continually.  I recently had the opportunity to listen to a testimony of a friend of mine who had gone through severe health issues.  It was very difficult for him since he was single and also he had his own company.  In other words, nobody had his back.  Many of his friends helped out, but it was still very stressful economically and physically. The bottom line message he gave was about learning to give thanks in all things.

I heard that testimony and thought how great it was, then walked outside and saw that somebody had smashed in the front end of my car.  No note.  Talk about rude!  Where is the fairness in that?  Within an hour my wife called to inform me that we needed 4 new tires on her vehicle, and we needed them NOW!  I looked up in the sky and you can guess what I was thinking, “Why me?” (I was not very thankful at that moment!)

When you are tempted to ask “Why Me?”, or “When is this going to end?”, catch yourself.  That is the wrong question.  Despite the circumstances, the hardships, the setbacks, or the roadblocks, God is still in control.  The question should be, “What’s next?”  Ask that with anticipation of God’s grace, His Mercy, His provision over you and your family.  His love endures, and nothing is too big for Him to handle.  Then thank Him in advance for what He is doing now and what He will be doing to help you through the trials you face.

God is amazing to me.  Thank Him, then trust Him.  He is like Coke…He is “The Real Thing.”  Like FedEx, He always delivers.  Like a Mother with a newborn child, He knows our frailties and loves us totally.

Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through as if something strange were happening to you. This is part of the ebb and flow of life.  You don’t deserve a ribbon for just showing up.  If you are drifting through life and just going with the flow, try swimming against the current.  Two things will happen.  First, you will go where YOU want to go, not where the current takes you, and second, you will gain strength from the resistance you face.  If the current is strong, you may need a boat and motor.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give in. Get creative and stay the course.  Believe in God.  Trust Him, then set out to change your world for the good.  Life is indeed beautiful, but it is also fleeting and fragile.  Treat today as a precious gift.  That is why they call it “The Present.” It truly is a gift from God.


Dan Skognes