Core Influence: Shell Identity vs. Core Identity (Part I)

March 9th, 2009

What is Shell Identity vs. Core Identity and how many people are living their lives according to their Core Identity?

Who Is Frank Kern?

Recently I have had the privilege to watch a video by Frank Kern.  For those of you who are not familiar with the internet marketing world, Frank Kern is a well-known Copywriter and an incredible Internet Marketer. Frank has earned the “guru” status via his effective Marketing campaigns and product launch resulted in insanely lucrative profits.

Frank Kern’s Materialistic Success Only Led to Indescribable Misery

The video is called ” The Core Influence” recorded from his speech at a Internet Marketing event.  The premise of his speech is about how to leverage your Core Influence in life as well as to be successful in the market you serve.  In order to identify your Core Influence, first you need to find your Core Identity. In this two-hour video, Frank drew an outline to connect the dots of the significant events in his business endeavors and important people that help him shape his success.  He talked about how successful he was perceived from the materialistic standpoint by owning the biggest mansion in a small town in Georgia, driving a Ferrari down the street to show off his coolness to the folks who may know him.  Despite the money and material possession, he was utterly miserable.  Later on, he realized that he was living in his own “Shell Identity” instead of his”Core Identity”.

Shell vs. Core Identity

               Shell Identity

If I have to venture to interpret his definitions of these two identities, the Shell Identity is based on what the society wants you to do and you act out of peer pressure and conformity.  All you can do is to utilize your Surface Influence as opposed to your Core Influence, which is far less effective. The Core Identity derives from the real you, from your deepest desire in life and what your life is meant to be.  When you act upon from your “Core Identity”, you are “congruent” (borrowed Frank’s word used repeatedly throughout the speech) with your beliefs, passion and you will find it much easier to be in your zone, to be blissful and in return, to connect effortlessly with your customers in the market place.

In order to identify your Core Identity (your deepest desire), Frank asked a singular question that goes like this:

One Question That Will Transform Your Life

What would you do if there are no limitations (financial, emotional, geographical, limiting people, etc.) and consequences?

Frank proceeded by explaining how he came to the conclusion of his Core Identity and the transformational process he had gone through for 9 months.

What Would Be A Perfect Average Day Look Alike?

Frank started this journey by breaking down a perfect life into a perfect average day.  He then continued to visualize and articulate a perfect average day by asking himself a series of questions. Here are some of the examples:

  1. Where would you live?
  2. Describe your home (size, # of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen, living room, great room, home gym, outside surroundings, landscape, swimming pool, by the ocean or in the mountain, the ambiance and decor of the house, furniture, etc.)
  3. What time do you wake up and get up?
  4. What’s the first thought popped in your mind after waking up?
  5. What would you do after getting out of bed?
  6. What breakfast would you have and with whom and where?
  7. What time would you start working?
  8. What type of business?
  9. Who are your customers?
  10. What’s your relationship with your customer?
  11. What’s your vision for your business?
  12. When, where and with whom would you have lunch?
  13. What would you talk about over lunch assuming you have it with someone?
  14. What do you do for the rest of the afternoon?
  15. How would you spend your evening?  With whom and where?
  16. What’s your relationships with your spouse (if you are married) and your children?
  17. When, where, what and with whom would you have dinner?
  18. How would you end your day and what’s your last thought before going to bed?
  19. What kind of physical state are you in?
  20. What is your spiritual yearning?
  21. What’s your relationship with your friends and colleagues?
  22. What would you do to fulfill your life?

The numbers in the questionnaire are only limited by your imagination.  The more elaborate, creative and vivid you narration is, the better.

The essence of writing this down and describing your typical day in a perfect life is only the beginning of transforming your conceptual Core Identity into a reality.

On a side note, there has been much coverage on creating a Vision Board for your life.  In concept, these two approaches are meant to arrive at the same destination.  So it wouldn’t hurt to double up on the conceptual as well as the visual.

Why does your Core Identify have to do with servicing your core customers?

…To be continued in the next post

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Explicit Command vs. Implicit Persuasion

March 6th, 2009

Have you ever come across someone who is at the top of his/her game in terms of selling?  I certainly have had the pleasure sampling a couple of times.

The Art of Persuasion

I am always impressed, amazed and thankful to those people who have the perfect knowledge of the products or services they are selling or promoting.  Their techniques of selling is not by “explicit command” (I steal this term from Frank Kern, the Internet Marketing Guru) of my purchase; instead, they use their insight and knowledge to persuade me to make up my own mind.


I was in Nike store looking for a pair of running/walking shoes with the iTune chip slot built in the sole of the shoe.  This was the new invention by Apple and its partnership with Nike to sell the shoes at a premium price in addition of charging $30 for the chip and a pedometer to the iPod.  Being an avid walker, I was fascinated when I heard about this product and I’ve decided to check it out.

Knowledge Is Power

Not knowing where to look in the overwhelmingly crowded store, I finally got the attention of a gentleman who worked there.  Despite all the noise and commotion, he took the time to walk me up and down different aisles and explained to me what to look for to spot those shoes with this build-in feature.  He then took a pair of shoes and asked me how I walk, i.e. which side of my feet would land first with each step so that he could direct me to the right model of shoes.  He then grabbed another box where the chip and the iPod gadget was stored and briefly demoed how I would use the devices.  To my surprise, he showed me another alternative and economical way to get the job done without paying the premium for the shoes.

The Conclusion

Can you guess if he has made an impression on me that I ended up purchasing the shoes and the devices?  You bet you.

The moral lesson is that no job is too small.  You could be your own superstar no matter what profession you are currently engaged in.  Whatever you do, do it really well.

To learn more about the art of influence and persuasion, please check out Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book entitled: Influence: Science and Practice (5th edition) (Paperback).  I can assure you that you will have a much better understanding of the social psychology of selling and buying and how we are persuaded.

Would you share your thoughts and insight after reading this book?

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What Is Friendship?

March 4th, 2009

The older I get, the more life experiences I have been exposed to, the more I ponder upon the definition of friendship.  So what exactly is friendship?friendship-1

Definition of Friendship

Friendship may be defined as the relationship you have established with someone or a group of people that transcends time, space, social and economic status, gender, age and culture. My dear friend eloquently defines “friend” as: “The very definition of a friend is ‘a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard’. That definition also implies unconditional support”.

There is a long continuum on the scale of friendship from the casual acquaintance to soul mate.  Despite the above definition on transcendence of time and space, friendship does evolve and revolve with both elements.  I can’t recall how many friends I’ve lost due to the separation of time and space.  The contrary is also true.  I’ve bumped into my middle-school mate from China in a small Chinese grocery store in St. Louis after 15 years without knowing each other’s whereabouts.

I know I am one of the many people who casually lump acquaintances into friendship.  The best part is that whenever there is a major change in your life, tragic or comic, you will be able to crystallize and delineate the levels of friendship with unmistakable clarity.

Definition Revisited

Here is my revised definition of friendship:

  1. You laugh together.
  2. You cry together.
  3. You shop together (for those of you like me being a shop-alcoholic).
  4. You cook a meal together and eat till you are in a complete food coma.  All you can do is to lie down to make more room in your stomach.
  5. You have plenty of history and anecdotes to share, especially those hard times in life or at work.
  6. You would be thrilled by the success and happiness your friend has achieved as if they were your own.
  7. You would provide a shoulder for your friend to cry on when he/she is going through a tough time in life.
  8. You will challenge each other if there is a moral and ethical issue.
  9. You will share your hopes and dreams; disappointment and despair.
  10. You will encourage each other to grow professionally, emotionally and spiritually.
  11. You will let yourself be vulnerable in front of your friend.
  12. You will trust that a true friend will always have your best interest/welfare at heart.

How Could I Ever Repay You?

For those of you who laughed and giggled with me, who cried for me and with me, I owe you my heart-felt thanks.  I feel very privileged to have met and made so many friends throughout my life and you have made my heart incredibly full.

The question I’d like to challenge everyone to think about is:

Is it more difficult to build OR maintain friendship?

Perfect State of Mind

March 2nd, 2009

contentment-12My husband and I made our first attempt to try breakfast at a local joint in the catering business.  It must be the tough economy downturn that made the owner/s of the business start experimenting with serving breakfast in addition to their normal menu.  We were sitting there chatting quietly about various subjects.  Next to our table, there were two older couples talking up a storm.  One of the husbands would strike a conversation with the young waitress.  Then we would hear the most infectious giggles from this old man.  I was guessing that they are all in their 70s, retired and finding creative ways to capture the sunset of their lives.

I couldn’t help but being envious of their state of mind, full of joy and contentment, looking at every little thing in life through their lens of optimism.

I asked myself : What would it take for me to get into their state of being?  Is it money?  Is it financial stability?  Is it accomplishments in general?  Is it independence?  Or is it just an attitude shift from seeing the imperfection in life to focusing on a million reasons why we should celebrate life no matter what?

What’s your thought?

Organized Chaos

February 27th, 2009

Have you been to China?  If so, you would have either experienced or observed the traffic jam in a given day.

Cultural Shock Is An Understatement

In 2004, my family and I went back to China for a three-week trip.  We managed to tour several major cities and tourist spots.  Mind you that was the first time for my husband and my daughter to the Far East.  Fascinated? Intrigued? Confused? or all of the above?

Upon returning to the U.S., my husband was telling some of our friends about his trip to China.  Of course, he shared all the positive experiences of seeing a different part of the world and sampling different foods and culture.  One interesting comment he made was about the traffic.  He called it the “organized chaos”.

The Secret That Driving School Wouldn’t Teach You

Driving in most cities and rural areas in China is like weaving a colorful blanket.  Here is the multiplier: if there are two lanes in the road, people will make it into four, four into eight, etc.  Riding in a cab often times beats the thrill of a Disney ride.  At first, many people will do the back-seat driver number, apply the break, watch for oncoming traffic, etc.  After a while, you would have to give up as your neck will be so strained and sore from being nervous and tense.  Somehow you unwillingly bestow your trust onto the driver hoping for the best outcome.

Beneath the obvious chaos, there is a silent and subtle mutual understanding and harmony.  People seem to give each other a break and let the other driver get in even though he/she violets the rules.  There is a huge gray area comparing to the more black and white culture in the West.

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What Rules?

Enforcement of any rules and laws are lot harder simply because everyone interprets so differently.  You may be able to get yourself off the hook of a hefty traffic fine if you just happen to have a connection with someone in the law enforcement organization.

Here is an inside scoop to deal with the traffic jam, especially in Beijing.  Recently I’ve heard that the purchase of automobiles in China for the first time in history has surpassed the level of the U.S.  One easy and fast way to get around in Beijing is to buy a multi-purpose pass, which is good for buses and subways.  Needless to say it’s the most economical way as well besides wasting time sitting in a cab.

Have Had the Urge to Visit China?  Make It Happen Now

If you haven’t been to China, I hope you will have an opportunity in the near future to experience an ancient culture and a very hospitable nation.  Please do take note of your observations and share them with us upon your return.

A Simple Act of Kindness

February 25th, 2009


Warmness of a Heart

My friends and I frequent a local Chinese restaurant owned by a couple from Taiwan.  Although we’ve been there many times, they never know our real names.  Yet, every time we go there, they always make us feel that we are so welcomed.  They would show us the most hospitality they could muster no matter what kind of a day they had. Free appetizer, soup, their cold dishes, special chili sauce they’ve made for themselves…

Even though they only have limited choices of traditional Chinese dishes, it is the warmness of their hearts touches us each time.  We feel it was so inviting as if we had gone back to my grandma’s kitchen after a rough day.

Reap What You Sow

In this day and age, many people would be focusing on how to squeeze a dime out of each and everyone, but this couple would always adhere to their unwavering principles of treating their customers with kindness.  They know intuitively that they would receive what they give out.  This is why they have survived for so many years despite the exceptionally high turn-over rate in the restaurant business.

Small Act of Kindness Is the Best Endorphin

I would like to encourage everyone to apply a simple act of kindness in your daily life:

  1. Open the door for the people before and after you in a public venue
  2. Smile when you make eye contact with a stranger
  3. Say “hello” to someone on the street when walking your dog
  4. Compliment a stranger if she dresses really well or wears something unique
  5. Thank someone from the bottom of your heart
  6. Help get a little kid up if she/or he happens to fall in front of your eyes
  7. Ask how his/or her day has been at the grocery checkout counter and listen to him or her with a genuine interest
  8. Send a hand-written “thank you” note to a friend of yours articulating why you really appreciate her
  9. Tell a Customer Service Representative (CSR) that he or she does an exceptional job in addressing your questions or concerns over the phone

Quite often, just a simple act of nice gesture will be so contagious and uplifting.  It can change your mood as well as those around you.

What are you waiting for?

What’s Your Bucket List?

February 23rd, 2009

The Plot

My family and I watched a movie called “The Bucket List “over the weekend.  The plot of the movie is about two terminal ill patients in the same hospital ward sharing their last few months of lives together.

Jack Nicholson plays a successful businessman, a billionaire, Edward Cole while Morgan Freeman, the blue collar mechanic, Carter Chambers.  Their paths in life and personalities could not be more polar opposite.  Upon receiving their death sentence by their doctor to live for six months to a year, the two men decided to created a “Bucket List” and try to experience as many as they could before they die. Their journey was full of globe-trotting adventures, mind-bending and life-changing experiences.


What strikes me the most are two questions cited by Carter Chambers to Edward Cole:

  1. Have you found joy in your life?
  2. Have you brought joy to other people’s lives?

The conclusion of the movie is a tragic one judging from the surface level as both of them died.  However, if you dug deeper, it was a triumphant ending as the two men had found/learned to find joy in their respective life as well as had brought joy to other’s.   Here is a quote from the movie by the character Carter Chambers: “My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home”.

Sample of My “Bucket List”

I guess one of the most effective ways to live a fulfilling life is to have the end in mind.  How would you find joy in your life and bring the same to others?  Here is a sample of my Bucket List:

  1. Author a best-selling book
  2. Travel to every continent, meeting diverse people, sampling different cultures and food
  3. Become a confident swimmer
  4. Learn to be a beautiful singer
  5. Sponsor a charity cause
  6. Help people identify their core identity in life
  7. Tell my family how much I love and care about them every opportunity I get
  8. Be grateful for every experience in my life

I strongly encourage you to find a quiet evening, pop some popcorn and sprinkle in some bite-size licorice (my mother-in-law’s recipe) and watch this movie.  I guarantee that this will bring tremendous perspectives in your life.

Would you care to share your “Bucket List” after watching the movie?

Belated Farewell

February 20th, 2009

farewell-12The Biggest Regret

All my life, the most profound sadness for me is not having the opportunity to say proper goodbye.  I can’t believe it happened with my Dad.

I was riding in a high-speed (bullet) train in late January 2008 heading back to Beijing, China after spending six-days and nights in the hospital bed with my ailing/comatosed Dad. A swamp of sorrow engulfed me.

With everyone around me in a crowded train, I didn’t want to be seen tearful. Nonetheless, a recollection of my fondest memories about my Dad appeared in my mind’s eyes.

What Touched Me the Most

From how he worked so hard all his life to raise three children, to how he always meticulously prepared an elaborate meal. The best memory has to be the five-months when he and my mom spent with my family in the U.S. after my daughter was born. I kept the stack of post-it-notes he had assembled, religiously documenting a feeding schedule for my daughter. My eyes would well up with tears whenever I recalled how he was holding a big bowl of steamy soup full of goodies to help me recover from the child birth. In my mind, I refused to remember him as he was lying in the hospital bed in a coma with multiple tubes to prolong the last few breaths.

Goodbye via A Telepathic Murmur

Three days after I returned home in the U.S., I had an urge to call my Mom to see how my Dad was doing. It was 6 p.m. MST, January 22, Tuesday. My Mom abruptly stopped our conversation and told me that my Dad was passing away. I guess that my Dad  said good-bye through a telepathic message.

I didn’t go back to attend my Dad’s funeral due to various reasons. I had heard from my Mom and Sister that the funeral was beautifully done and all the friends and relatives were very pleased. I hope my Dad is in eternal peace and in a better place free of worries.

It has been a little over a year now since my Dad passed away, yet, I don’t think I’ve ever adequately dealt with or processed the profound sense of loss. Am I too afraid to touch that raw and unhealed “wound” or am I still in a complete denial?

The bigger question is how my Mom would continue with her life without my Dad after being married to him for over 50 years. Without the family anchor, whether it was emotional or physical, our family has to go through a “deconstruction” and “reconstruction” process.

This short post is my way of bidding  farewell to my Dad and to tell him how much I miss him.

Dad, you will always occupy the most inner recess in my heart.

Control or Surrender?

February 18th, 2009

Control Is Just An Illusion

I am as guilty as anyone with deceivingly subdued, yet a typical “A” personality when it comes to take control in life.  I’ve tried to plan for my life, six-months, a year, five-years, all the way to the end in major measures of achievements.  I’ve also attempted to categorize my life goals into two “piles”, one is tangible and the other intangible.  Along the way, I would adjust my plans and projections depending on the change of circumstances and growing ambitions.

Many people like me, seem to have an illusion of grandeur in terms of being in control.  We fool ourselves by creating a daily “to do list” on when to do what with whom.  Sometimes I can’t help but wondering WHAT IF we let go of the urge of control and simply let it be a free fall?  Can you fathom what life would be like if we just “surrender” for a day?

Are We Better off to Surrender?

Allow me to indulge in this thought for a moment.

  • Our day will start without the buzz of an alarm o’clock.
  • What we would do next after rolling out of bed is simply a toss of a dice: Walking the dog or sipping chai tea latte in Starbucks?
  • When should I peel off the wrinkled pajamas to take a clean shower?
  • Do I really want to style my hair or should I just let it be natural with the curls and frizz?
  • Shall I call a friend to meet up in an Ethiopian restaurant for lunch?  I shouldn’t have to debate about calories vs. satisfaction if I feel like having a dessert after lunch.

Have you got the drill?surrender-11

It is very easy to comprehend conceptually, but awfully hard to apply it in our daily lives.  Maybe, just maybe, when we give up deliberate control of everything, life may miraculously fall into the right place.  Our pursuits and endeavors may be aligned with our soulful purpose.  By then, we may feel that we are truly in the flow of what life is meant to be and everything will be done effortlessly.

Do you buy into my ridiculous theory?

Can Brand Loyalty Be Bought?

February 16th, 2009

If you spent anytime paying your dues in Corporate America at all, you would be very familiar with the Marketing investment $$ as a percentage of sales.  The number is often staggeringly high.  So what’s the end game by spending so much?  Create brand awareness, customer loyalty in order to generate more repeated sales.

With all the preaching and investment by countless corporations, just exactly how many of them are practicing the ritual of treating their customers like kings or queens?

How Coach Practices What They Preach?handbag-2

I am very pleased to share that at least two consumer companies are doing exactly what they preach.  One of them is Coach, the handbag retailer.

This is how it started.  A year or so ago, I bought two handbags of the same style with different colors from the Coach Outlet store.  My daughter called my bags “dog carriers” due to the shape. I have been using and enjoying both bags because of their size, durability and color to reflect change of seasons.  Recently, I noticed that the handle of my black bag started peeling off for no reason.

Not knowing exactly what to do, I called the Coach store and spoke to a lady named Seane.  I explained the situation and Seane asked me to bring the bag to the store so that they could take a look at it.  The same day, I made my round to the Outlet Mall where Coach store is located.  With a brief explanation, I spoke to Seane in person.  Without my original receipt, it turned out the current discounted price is only 50% of what I paid for my bag.

Sean must have noticed the reluctance on my face, she offered me another option to look for a bag in the store with comparable price.   The end of the story was that I got a brand new bag to replace the defective one as Coach’s way to honor its commitment to product quality and customer service.  I can’t tell you how grateful I was when I was leaving the store.

Is Tommy Hilfiger Another Coincidence?

Similar incident occurred a couple of months ago with Tom Hilfiger store.  To make a long story short, I purchased two pairs of sunglasses from Tommy a year or so ago.  Soon after, the screws of the glasses came off without much wear and tear.  I debated about whether to trash the sunglasses or take them to the store.  In the end, I opted for the latter.  The conclusion of this story was that I got my refund for the sunglasses and more than what I paid for.

In this day and age, you’ve probably heard more headlines about American companies moving their manufacturing facilities offshore to leverage the cheaper labor and material costs.   You may also observe or experience inadequate customer service when you phone in their “Customer Care Center”.  Many of them are doing lip service about building a customer-centric culture.

“Word of Mouth” Still Works Like A Charm

Among many creative ways to create brand recognition, the ancient and the most effective one to date is still via “word of mouth” by treating the customers right.  Coach and Tommy Hilfilger have certainly exemplified in winning and more importantly, sustaining my brand loyalty.

Do you have similar or different stories to share?