My own little contributions to changing the world tend to hang out with the themes of freedom, health, and saving money. I tackle these through fiction and educational content, some of which leads to product recommendations. You know ... the business side of it all. The hope is for exchanges that benefit all involved.
So in this case -- talking about ozone and laundry and finally putting the two together in a household setting -- I'm involved in selling the brand. Which follows more than a year of actually using this product and loving it for all the reasons I'll explain. Take that bias for what it is. This is a GREAT product.
One that I think changes the laundry paradigm.
In general, of course, no one sane likes doing laundry. But adding injury to wasted time, the old way of doing laundry means using warm/hot water and laundry detergent. These are bad on your wallet, your health, your laundry, and the environment. Well ... those don't sound like good results, do they? Let me share a fun little graphic here, and then explain why ozone is such a good fix for laundry:
So point by point, how do you get all these benefits from switching to ozone to do your laundry?
Well let's start with ozone. It's been used by hotels and hospitals to help clean and disinfect laundry for years, but the units have been too big for home use. So we finally have something enough for the home. How does ozone work? You've heard of Oxy Clean -- with ozone, one atom of oxygen from each molecule of ozone (O3) is weakly bonded. It breaks off to clean dirt and kill pathogens. And it leaves O2 (oxygen) behind. So when you dump your laundry water into the environment, it's just dirt and neutralized pathogens. No chemicals from detergent.
Plus, ozone only works in cold water. So yes, if you had to run hot water for bleaching something, you would still do that, then run the rest of the wash in cold. But outside of that situation, you would ONLY use cold water for your laundry. Since most soap needs warm or hot water to clean, this eliminates a huge cost in laundry. Depending on a huge range of factors, this could be anywhere from $20 to $200 in annual savings.
If you visit this site,
you'll see a science experiment my son and I did on ozone laundry vs. detergent vs. water; but also, you'll get details on how I broke down the numbers. I think the average person will typically save $40-$80 on detergent and $40-$80 on hot water. (And pay for the ozone laundry system in about 3 years while getting cleaner laundry, helping one's health, and helping the environment. After that, using ozone puts money into your pocket.)
As you know, not using hot water isn't just about saving money. It's about polluting less from the power plant. Making this change in one home won't have a big impact, but having everyone switch could make a substantial impact.
The other thing about eliminating detergent is that it tends to build up in the laundry, matting it down and then rubbing against your skin all day. The skin is your largest organ and needs to stay health for temperature regulation and overall detox. Having chemicals rub against it every day is NOT a good idea, yet most of us have that happening. You could spend more on healthier detergents (one good option), or simply use ozone and eliminate detergents altogether. This also helps those with skin sensitivities or allergies to soap chemicals.
And by the way ... detergent does NOT disinfect. Ozone does. I can't tell you that you'll get 100% disinfection because this involves too many factors, like water temperature, amount of laundry, etc. But ozone itself disinfects, so you'll have a disinfectant at work for you in your laundry when you use ozone.
On a final note, hot water shortens the life of laundry. Detergent mats it down, so it's less fluffy. If it weren't for static buildup in the dryer, we wouldn't need dryer sheets after laundry done in ozone, because it's already soft and fluffy. Now I should mention ... some people STILL use a little soap with ozone because they like the smell. We get a little scent from our natural dryer sheets (with essential oils in them), and that's our preference. We haven't used detergent since we began doing laundry with ozone.
(Pre-treatments? You'll still need to pre-treat as you would with the normal laundry approach.)
Interested in doing laundry with ozone? It's a bit of an investment, but the unit we sell is the least expensive I've seen in the States, and we're not allowed to sell for less. We do include free shipping. Let me know
if you have questions about it before making a purchase!
Network marketing, or MLM (Multi-Level Marketing), has something of a reputation. (Not a lovely one.) A lot of people think "Amway" when they hear these terms, and it has the same kind of connotation for many. Question is, does MLM deserve this reputation, and is there any place for it among civilized people?
The concept of network marketing is that people like to tell others about great things they've found, whether it's a great product or service, an incredible price on something, or whatever. We like to share. And this is the most valuable form of marketing possible for a business, even though word of mouth is traditionally free.
But somewhere along the way, someone realized that they could pay advertising companies to make ads and then run them at high expense, or they could pay OTHER people to advertise for them ... and ONLY pay if those people made sales. Not only would this minimize risk for the company by precisely building in the cost of advertising, and with nothing spent up front, but it would also use the power of "word of mouth."
What they forgot, ignored, or simply didn't admit was that "word of mouth" has power because it comes without bias. As soon as someone benefits from telling you about something, you naturally become guarded. MAYBE they're still telling you because they feel it will benefit you, but you can no longer tell for sure. They may simply be telling you because they benefit. In short, it's no longer word of mouth -- it's another form of advertising.
Unless you feel that advertising is inherently evil -- people should not be able to tell you about things that could improve your life -- then paying people to share your product isn't evil. But it's definitely a form of advertising, and no one should pretend differently. However, evil or not, it can certainly become obnoxious. And this is PART of MLM's poor reputation.
Before we get further into MLM, let's point out that the structure mentioned above -- paying someone only when they successfully sell your product -- is really AFFILIATE marketing. And interestingly, that does NOT have the negative connotation that MLM has. My guess: this is because affiliate marketing is much more associated with the age of the internet, so rather than people coming after you to make a sale, they often post information about it online, and you find it in the course of your own searches online, so it is much more on your terms and often done in the form of education, which can be beneficial to the consumer.
The only black mark here is that affiliates have often hidden their affiliate relationship, thus giving the impression of offering information without bias when in fact a bias is there. Today, there are laws promoting more transparency, and top affiliates are happy to make their relationships clear, though there is not really a standard for how they do so. (I'm an affiliate for some products, and depending on my relationship with the product, I may let the reader know within my written recommendation. If it's more of a passing reference to it, I usually mention potential affiliate relationships in the site footer for instance.)
One Thing Wrong with Network Marketing
Network marketing, however, has been around a long time, and without the internet as a platform, company members would go to friends and family directly and try to make sales. Now in my opinion, there's nothing wrong with telling friends and family about something and saying, "If this is something you'd find useful, just know that I make a little money from the referral." And nothing wrong with telling them that they can make some money from referrals if that's their thing. The problem that came up so often though was that people would pressure friends and family to make a purchase; would talk about the company too often; and would push for others to join for the business opportunity. These were all things that made other people uncomfortable.
Other Things Wrong with Network Marketing
Adding to the problem, MLM companies often asked people not just to share their products, but to STOCK UP on them in order to sell them to other people; but since most people aren't salespeople, most got sucked into the idea of making money and ended up with garages full of products.
Making that same problem even worse, most MLM companies sold products at prices well above what you would pay in a retail setting. They might have claimed that their products were superior, but many times that just wasn't true, and ultimately you were paying for a business opportunity. And if half the product cost was for the business opportunity, you could bet it would be hard to keep customers and that attrition among members would be high. Both points have been the case for MLM.
Network Marketing & Pyramids
Now there's one association with MLM that is patently false. Kind of. Many people associate MLM with pyramid schemes because the compensation plans -- how people are paid for referring products -- are built with leverage. You tell 3 people about this product and you'll earn $5/month from each of them when they buy. But if they each tell 3 people, you'll earn $2/month on those people as well. Now, for just telling 3 people (who each did the same), you're earning $33/month. As each level tells another level, your income can increase exponentially. This is the POTENTIAL of MLM, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, because it's the basis of every business in the world. It is definitely structured as a pyramid, but that doesn't make it a pyramid scheme.
[A friend once told me these companies are all scams, because rather than paying people to tell each other, they should just lower the end price of the product and let everyone win. There is a fallacy here, however, because if no money is put into marketing / advertising, no one will know about the products unless they happen to enjoy a rare viral explosion. Businesses can't expect that, and do need to invest in getting the word out.]
I said, however, that associating MLM with pyramid schemes was KIND OF patently false. There are many companies, however, using the MLM business model and selling nothing of value; therefore, they are mainly just attracting people into a pyramid where money is moving around, and that IS a scheme, a scam, and it's illegal.
Now frankly, I don't think it should be illegal. I think it's a scheme and a scam, and I think people are hurt by it. But they're hurt by spending money on candy and McDonald's, cigarettes, booze, and many other things. If I want to give my money to someone else in hopes of getting money given to me, I should be able to do so. It's my money. Maybe I have to learn a lesson the hard way. But regardless of what place government should have in all of this, shifting money through a pyramid is definitely a scam and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
There's a grey area to this as well. If I sell you a case of cola each month as the product you buy from my MLM, but that case of cola costs $50 ... is it a pyramid scheme? Companies mark their products up different amounts, and Coke and Pepsi -- because of the cost of advertising and the need to satisfy share holders, etc. -- certainly charge a lot more for their product than a generic cola. Are they a scam? You can decide. But at some price, people would simply stop buying them.
In network marketing, though, people might spend $5 per can and feel good because it comes with a business opportunity ... and then try to convince you that it was the best cola in the world, and this justified the extra cost. But in reality, it's just a cola, and isn't that $2 to $3 more than anyone would ever pay for a can of Coke? If so, you could say that excess money is, in fact, money that's being just pushed around a pyramid. And this is where it's hard to distinguish some network marketing businesses from pyramid schemes or Ponzi schemes.
The Right Way to Do Network Marketing
Importantly, though, this doesn't
mean that network marketing -- as a business model -- is a bad idea. In fact, it's a great idea. My friend thought that businesses should just lower prices for everyone, forgetting that something has to be put into marketing. But what if you charged a fair price in the first place (didn't inflate prices like many MLM companies), and then paid back your most loyal customers
for helping to spread the word? This would be similar to lowering the price for everyone, but it would reward those who were doing the most to keep the business healthy. FAIR PRICES FOR EVERYONE,
yet cash back or even cash income for those who were helping the business to grow.
Better yet ... what if the company used the power of its membership to do what my friend suggested and lower prices for everyone?
For instance, by having many members, they could negotiate better prices for members for things they already spend money on. Now everyone gets a great deal, and still those who help keep the business healthy -- those who help it to grow -- could earn cash back or even earn a living, depending on their level of action.
To me, this is the critical first element in fixing network marketing: bringing people a fair value.
As soon as this is done, members don't have to hype a product to friends and family, because they value will readily be seen by those who care. Also, now that we're in the age of the internet, it's much easier for people to share a company's products and even the business opportunity through an occasional e-mail, or in a subtle e-mail signature, or even by posting an article that can be found and read by those who are searching
, and this makes it much more like affiliate marketing. (This is almost exclusively how I grow network marketing businesses
-- I have interested people call me, and we have great conversations. I don't hound anyone -- I let their own interest guide them.)
Of course this doesn't stop members from spreading the word obnoxiously, and that is an individual's problem and lesson to learn. But by making the business itself legitimate with real value and providing tools for sharing a message online, a network marketing company gives people the avenue for sharing and educating rather than pushing and being rude. In this case, the only difference between a network marketing company and any other company is who they pay to do their advertising. And I love that one option gives back to the very people who give life to the company in the first place!
A Place for Solavei
The solutions I've talked about for network marketing are exactly why I love Solavei
and why I can so easily recommend it both to people who just want to be customers and to those looking for a business opportunity. Here are some details:
- Their flagship service is unlimited talk, text, and data for $49/month on T-Mobile's network. Because it includes international texting and 4 gigs of data before slowing the data (more than any other prepaid carrier) and roaming (not so on plans like Straight Talk), it is the best unlimited prepaid value I can find. So they do exactly what I think is needed in MLM: they start with an honest value, and even save people money vs. other options.
- Customers and members pay the same price, so you're not forced into membership just to save some money.
- If you want to be a member, though, so you can share the value with others and earn money, there is NO extra cost. They simply give you a beautiful website and a bunch of other tools, including professional videos, a contact tracker, ways to track who's opened your invitations, and much more. In other words, simply switch your cell phone service to Solavei, start saving money, and you're GIVEN a home business.
- In September 2013, they will roll out their Solavei Marketplace, allowing members to save money when shopping locally, to get deeply discounted local vouchers, to buy discounted insurance and cable, etc. So again, they're using the power of their membership to help members save on things they're already spending money on. A penny saved is a penny earned. And members who refer these savings to others will earn additional money.
- The company knows how to present itself. Everything so far has been done professionally. So when you want to share it with someone, you feel like you're sharing a legitimate corporation rather than some business put together in a shoe box ... which I think describes far too many MLMs.
- And one thing I love: their compensation plan is simple. Most companies I've seen make it difficult for people to know how to earn money from their efforts in sharing. As if (ahem) it's better to hide where all the money is really going.
Solavei builds on a simple concept of each person sharing its value with three other people. Each time you refer three active users, you have one "Trio." You earn $20/month for every Trio your refer. For every 3 people referred by your direct referrals, you earn an additional $10/month. On top of this, there are monthly bonuses for those who refer enough Trios and have their teams do the same.
As an example, if you referred one Trio (3 active users) and they each referred one Trio, you would be earning $50/month. If you referred 12 active users who each referred 3, you would earn $450/month. If you referred 15 active users who each referred 3, you would earn $1250/month. (And all those people you referred ... because they referred 3 each, they would only effectively be paying $29/month for unlimited talk, text, and data ... since they're getting $20 back each month.) Not bad ... and actually doable in a business where you're truly offering a good value.
Which is why it always comes back to value first.
I don't know when we'll reach a point where most people accept network marketing as an honest business model, and even as a good idea. So far, affiliate marketing doesn't have such a bad rap, and if more businesses like Solavei come along to show that MLM can help, and that it's not always about large purchases you can never use or sell, then perhaps MLM can, after all, have a legitimate place in civilized society.
At the very least, they can't do much worse for us than many of the corporations we've suffered through so far.
I'm trying a little experiment with some of my writing. You can find it in the navigation under the heading, "Vampire."
I'll be developing a book there called (for now), "Last Thoughts of a Vampire." It is really a philosophical journey rather than an active adventure.
As I develop it online, it will change when I want to make changes, and readers can see the changes made as I go. But the project will only continue if I find myself sucked into it and unable to stop ... or if readers give it enough "Likes" and "+1's". So if you check it out and like what's happening, please give it some sort of thumbs up
so that I know how it's being received.
Meanwhile, I've actually begun a novel involving a vampire as well. But I can tell you THAT story will take a very different approach to vampires, and I may leak some information here as I go.
The other night after the State of the Union address, where President Obama asked for a $9/hour minimum wage, Stephen Colbert showed Bob Luddy talking about how happy he was in high school to earn 85 cents an hour. I don't know when Luddy said this or whether he was arguing against an increase in the minimum wage or if it was just an old clip Colbert's team found. Mainly, Colbert was just having fun with the statement, as if the only way to get people motivated to work themselves out of poverty was to make sure they were cold and had to beat off the rats.
Anyway, I did a little digging and found that the last time you could have legally been paid 85 cents an hour was early 1956. Since I can't find Luddy's age, I just had him working that job in 1954, then used an inflation calculator
to find out what he would have been making in today's dollars. Answer? $7.25.
Which happens to exactly be today's minimum wage.
And yes, I don't see why a high school student couldn't be happy with minimum wage, as they have few living expenses. Maybe they're choosing to pay for a car and gas and want to hit the movies and Taco Bell from time to time?
As for me, I remember being super happy about earning $5/hour in high school, I believe in the summer of 1989, when the minimum wage was $3.35. Interestingly, in today's dollars that ($5) would be $9.26/hour -- approximately what Obama's asking for as a minimum wage today. So like Luddy, I was happy in high school with a wage that was approximately today's minimum wage.
But could I imagine paying for an apartment, a car, car insurance, gas, food, etc. with that much money? It's not easy. At $7.25/hour for the head of a household, working 40 hours a week (average 174 working hours per month) = $1261.50. Take out about 5.5% for FICA taxes (even if they paid no other taxes) and you're around $1200/month. A cheap apartment can be half of that.
So do we need a higher minimum wage? If so, that means high school students have to be able to earn it. If not, are workers supposed to show a business they're worth more and climb above the current high school rate? What if they do so, but the business still ignores them because a lot of people are looking for work? Does the worker just count his or her blessings for having a job that can't quite pay the bills?
Now I'm not a big fan of arguing about the standard of living, and whether that cost has gone up or down. Because really, we have things today that people in 1954 simply COULDN'T buy, and as technology improves, its cost also plummets. In 1954, a simple transistor radio cost $50. Today we can listen to news, music, podcasts, etc., for free on our totally portable phones.The question here is just about minimum wage.
Should we raise it like we do? Every time we ask the question, there's a big argument. But here's the point: it is not the people's fault that the government has given away the right to print money, and that the Federal Reserve continues to deflate the value of money and raise the cost of living.
Because of this, a business already expects ALL costs to go up over time. Why should human costs be different when people's costs at home will be going up at the same time?And here's a second question:
should there be one minimum wage for those under 18 years old, as this is more of an "apprentice" age and a business is obviously putting time into training them, which is value to the young worker; then a higher minimum wage for those 18 and older who may have to be earning a living and who are likely to stick around a business for more than just one summer? This doesn't prevent a business from paying a high school student more if they prove their worth, but does prevent them from paying a full-time head of household the rate of a student, and therefore sets a minimum standard of living.
I'm not a fan of excessive regulation, as I see the main role of government as providing for national infrastructure, international relationships, and the prevention of one party abusing another. Does minimum wage fall into this latter category?
Since launching my blog, I have focused it very much on my writing and topics closely related. This is because I offered an e-mail subscription to the blog and didn't want to start clogging people's inboxes with other topics.
But this has really limited me from talking about whatever strikes my fancy on my own blog. Soooo ... for those of you who are subscribed and ONLY want news on my writing -- new books & stories, Kindle releases, promos, how you can be involved, etc. -- please visit my website (www.stevemccardell.com) and subscribe to the e-mail newsletter at the bottom of any page. That simple newsletter will only reach you with the most important updates on what I'm doing with writing.
It's likely that Google, in the next few months, will stop supporting the service that updates you by e-mail about this blog anyway. But in the meantime, you can unsubscribe from the blog when you're notified by e-mail about a new entry if you don't want to get updates on other things.
For those who use RSS ... you can still get updates on the blog through that method. As always, thanks for caring enough to subscribe!
| |Darwood & Smitty
looks hotly at the topic of special interests, and one of my favorites -- i.e., one of the most terrifying -- is the pharmaceutical industry. (I believe the biggest in D.C.) They pay money directly to the FDA to approve their drugs by calling it a "fast track" process, and people move easily between the pharma companies and the FDA. Yes ... positions within each. It is a totally cozy and totally corrupt arrangement. This new book, Bad Pharma
, doesn't have an issue with drugs or doctors so much as the way the industry has been tainted by the drug companies.
This book reminds me of one of my other favorite books by a former editor of "The New England Journal of Medicine" -- a book called The Truth about the Drug Companies.
Great expose, and a good caution to people about this industry. It's not that medicine is bad. It's that bad medicine is bad. And unfortunately we have an awful lot of that while these financial interests also make it difficult for safe and effective competition to survive by wielding the FDA like their own sword.
One thing's certain to me: art is fun to make, but it's more fun to share. And while I think Darwood & Smitty
is a fun and funny book, I also feel there's plenty in the book worth pondering on and talking about. So I'd love to have this in more people's hands and, as you've had a chance to read it, to have you join me on my Amazon author page
so we can talk about ... well, stuff. Freedom, taxes, special interests, heroics, or even just writing and publishing.
With this goal, I've dropped the book to a mere 99 cents
on Kindle. Ridiculous, I know. An author can't make a living like that. But that's not what it's all about, is it? I hope you'll read (borrow for free as a Prime member if you want) and join me in a conversation!
A great big thanks goes out to all those who took the time to download Darwood & Smitty
in the last 2 days when it was free. I hope you'll all take time to read and enjoy, and even to review on Amazon. In total, just over 1000 of you added it to your Kindle reading list.
Even though this is free, I'm sure many of you can relate to how nice it is to be able to share something you've worked hard on. It's also a nice way to make new friends.
Coming soon to a Kindle store near you, I expect to have The 7
offered for free some time in January. The second of that series is currently being developed, so don't forget to share the site with the kids you know. They'll be able to contribute ideas for the stories and perhaps see their ideas come to live in print. They could also have their artwork chosen for one of the upcoming books.
All right friends, have at it: Darwood & Smitty is FREE for Kindle
(or Kindle apps on your phone / computer / tablet) today and tomorrow (through Christmas day). This is to celebrate our grand arrival through the world's mighty ending.
Please download and let your friends know about it too. Then enjoy it on your own time, and rate on Amazon when you have a chance. Merry Christmas!
Well, we've waited for years for the world to come to an end as the Mayans told us it would. Only, they probably didn't. Or else they were wrong. Or else we've shifted dimensions and just didn't notice it.
Whatever the case, I can say that I knew we'd still be conscious because the events described in Darwood & Smitty
barely begin around 2015 (as the world was pulling out of the deep economic recession), start getting interesting in 2020 (when government goes global), and the story itself takes place in 2045. Since it's a literal tale (told directly to me by the characters), I was pretty sure we'd survive 2012.
In celebration, I'm offering the "We Made It" Christmas 2012 Giveaway.
If you have a Kindle or get the Kindle app, you can download Darwood & Smitty
for FREE on 12/24 and 12/25. Please tell your friends. Also, you can ALWAYS borrow the book on your Kindle for free if you're a member of Amazon Prime.
As an extra note, this is the 6th month anniversary of The 7,
and I'm finally planning to get that set up for the Kindle as well. I'll plan on giving away copies for its first few days, so keep an eye on this blog if you have kids looking for a good read.